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Moving

On April 1st (maybe March 31st?) we will start our hike at Springer Mountain in Georgia. It will be spring down south. That's hard to imagine, as we are still living and loving winter.

What does it look like to be this close to our departure? In a word, busy. In five words, one day at a time.

We are still "doing life as usual" - Damien's web development work for clients, a bit of homeschooling (gearing down now), writing and blogging, skiing, cooking and eating. And the usual weekly shopping, errands, and Taekwondo schedule (we're finishing that the end of this month). And we're watching as much Olympics as our satellite can stream and our time allows.

On top of that is our video project work.

After putting a lot of January energy into our Kickstarter campaign, we're now onto the next phase, programming the infrastructure for that web series.

Damien is a technology geek by "trade" and he loves elegant computer programming, solving problems, and designing solutions. The delivery platform of this series is being written from the bottom up by him, and it rocks!

Damien's doing this while still working for our clients (building their web infrastructures) because it is our client work that is currently paying the bills.

(Since we left Maine, and salaried employment nearly three years ago, we have been in a self-employment building phase. It takes time to get on your feet when you go on your own, so that you're not living paycheck to paycheck.

We finally have a bit of breathing room in our life, meaning there is money in the bank before a new month starts. Hiking the trail will take us back to financial square one in some respects, using every available resource we have, but it will also build our online presence and our adventure experience, which is the direction we want our income-earning work to go.)

In addition to building the infrastructure for the video series, and related to that, we have been in communication with our Kickstarter backers; signing some on as beta-testers of the video delivery, surveying them for "burning questions" (which we will answer in our videos), and getting the information and graphics we need from the sponsor level supporters.

To deliver a video series we have to produce one, don't we? So we are doing that as well.

Like we explain in our videos, we've had a dedicated family project day since last fall where we work on the video series. Project learning and living.

Fridays continue to be project day, but of course the video project spills into every aspect of our lives right now.

This week the kids and I are doing video to answer the question everyone wants to know "what do the kids think about this hike?" Subscribers to our series will find out the answer to that question in the coming months.

And of course we're taking video of our gear preparations and packing. Part of my work is to capture the "story" of our pre-hike preparations.

The kids are working on the videos also, bringing their own talents and creative vision to the project. This is how we planned it. It's a family creative project. Subscribers to the series will get a front row seat to see what I'm talking about.

Every week I'm writing articles and guest posts for other online publications to help promote our project. I write our sponsor pages and can even talk gear.

Most of our gear was purchased before Christmas, in truth we've been getting our gear ready for years. Now we're down to the fine details (all of this will be part of the video series). Most of these "last month" purchases are going to our friends' house in the States where we will do our final packing, re-packing, and weighing.

Damien has been figuring out our technology for the trail. Each of us are taking an iPad. And then there's the cameras, batteries, battery packs. We've had a lot of help from an electrical engineer and one of our web clients in figuring that all out.

This is a huge responsibility that Damien mostly bears since technology solution finding is his forte, and not mine at all.

We spend a lot of our day communicating with people. Our programming clients, hike/trail/project related e-mails, and Kickstarter backers.

And sometimes our Internet doesn't work and so we pack it all up (the iPads and computers) and head to town for the afternoon and evening, timed of course with Taekwondo classes.

We're cooking and eating, that too. We share cooking. I'm kitchen manager and responsible for meal planning and cooking most suppers, a couple of which are eaten in town each week before Taekwondo. Lunch is prepared by Damien and the kids. The kids manage snacks, cooking or preparing something along with lunchtime prep.

The past two weekends we've been doing data entry in our accounting program for our 2013 taxes.

We're self employed and work with clients all over the world who pay us in US and Cdn funds. Our expenses are American and Canadian. There are multiple bank accounts and places to track expenses and income.

We're still figuring out how best to manage all this. And truth be told, I procrastinated a bit on my end of the bargain (tracking expenses) because it couldn't get a good system in place and so now I pay the price.

The good thing about the wake-up call of preparing taxes this month is that the conflict it created in my life motivated me to find a resolution. I think I may now have figured out a system for tracking our expenses that is portable, digital, and doable with my schedule.

 

Soon, very soon - once taxes are complete the end of this month - we must turn our attention to food planning for the trail. We are not doing extensive food drops and mailing ourselves stuff on the trail. That practice is not sustainable for long term adventuring. i.e.: if we have to prepare all our food in advance of every adventure we plan to do, we won't be going anywhere, it's too much work.

We have a plan for our food but we haven't set the wheels in motion yet. That's one of March's big jobs.

And we have to move - pack up our house and store our earthly goods for the duration of our hike. That's March's big job for me.

The first three months of this year are just one push after another. Deadline after deadline, all to meet the goal of staring this hike on April 1st.

We try to ski every weekend and we get outside every day, skinning up and skiing the hill as often as we can. And yesterday we took the day off and paid for a day of skiing at the hill. It felt like a vacation day.

And somehow there is a wee bit of time to Skype with friends and my mom, and read books. I can't live without reading. (For a list of what I'm reading right now see the sidebar.)

We see friends often. Our health and well being depends on these practices and these relationships.

Sacrificing our health to meet a goal is not something we are even tempted to do. Our regular routines of daily rest and exercise, simple healthy cooking and eating, and one day a week are ingrained in us from years of practice.

If anything, it's these foundations that give us the stamina and energy we need to do this push.

It's almost like the more you have to do, the better you get at managing your time to do it all.

Any one thing on this list would be "a lot" for us in a "normal" year.

We have never managed to finish our taxes by March 1st. We've never had the need.

We have never launched and successfully funded a Kickstarter campaign before.

We have never prepared to hike the AT.

We have never produced a video series.

We have never had to figure out how to simplify our technology needs down to a few pounds.

We have never had to figure out how to take our life to woods for six months.

These three months have taken one of our lifelong learning philosophy to the next level.

We learn to do by doing. Learn to hike by hiking. Learn to parent by parenting. Learn to ski by skiing. Learn to produce a video series by doing it.

It feels like being in university again. Papers and exams. Deadlines and time crunches all the time. I didn't like that part of university then and I don't like the deadlines and must-do's of right now.

But the only way to get where we want to go is by doing this work.

We're doing more this season than I thought possible and yet, there's a line.

"I don't want to always live like this, quite so intense and with deadlines looming on every horizon", I like to remind Damien. (In case he thinks that just because I'm doing it, and managing ok, means I want to keep doing it!)

"We haven't and we won't", he likes to remind me back.

Because there is so much involved in these three months, I am learning like never before (because my head will explode otherwise) to live in the present moment. I don't worry about next week or even tomorrow. I focus only on today.

There are dates and deadlines on the calendar. First video release, taxes, moving weekend, a 13th birthday trip next week to Quebec City! But the focus of our energies and actions is the present day.

If we don't live one day at a time we will be overcome with all that must be done (and all that could go wrong) and lose the focus and energy we need to do the things that are within our power right now.

Ironically, that is what our friend told us was the key to success on the trail. Three time thru-hiker himself, he has some clue about what he's talking about.

You don't hike the trail thinking about all the days you have to hike to get to the end. You only think about today, your goal for the present moment, looking ahead to where you hope to camp at day's end.

One day at a time.

We've lived in this home for eighteen months and it has served our needs perfectly for this life season.

It's in the woods (at a ski hill no less!), affordable, and beautiful. As with any home there are imperfections and trade-offs, choosing an end-of-the-road ski hill location over a convenient town location for example.

Although we felt the house choose us more than we choose it. It landed in our laps at a time when we really needed a house, any house, to live in.

(These are a few posts from the summer we moved in, while I was "adjusting" to living in a house-in-process.)

When we get off the trail we'll be living just out of town, house sitting for friends. That location will be so much easier for Taekwondo, youth group, French classes again, and hopefully a women's chorus for me. But of course we won't be able to ski, downhill, out our door. Trade-offs.

This is ok. One of our life goals is to live to the full of our current situation, whatever that may be. Live to the full the here and now, while dreaming and scheming the next stage, the next plans, the next here and now. For me this is part and parcel of being a rooted adventurer.

It's a tension, for a sure, but there's no other way I know to do it.

Damien and I want to be thinking forward and constantly moving our life further in the direction we want to live. And while doing that, it is imperative we appreciate that right now is yesterday's dream. We are living one dream while preparing for another.

I am reminded of this every time I go skiing with my family in the middle of a weekday morning, or when I'm able to work while my husband prepares lunch, or even when I feel vexed as I try to explain a math concept to my kids (homeschooling was yesterday's, yesterday's dream).

We're moving forward to the next dream, hiking the AT. Right now though, in the hubbub and sometimes emotional tumult of today, I need to remind myself this is the life I dreamed about three years ago.

Anticipating the life I live today is the dream that got us through the last big push when we re-booted our family life so we could build our livelihood together, at home, while both being able to invest time into raising our young adult children.

This was the dream and so I need to live that to the max (skiing every day we possibly can!), while preparing to live another dream.

Winter is a great time of year to plan forward movement. To dream about what could be, and then start taking small steps in that direction.


My landlord/friend asked me for some photos of the chalet for advertising it for rent once we move out at the end of March. In searching through the photos I've taken in our eighteen months here, I couldn't find any that were appropriate. I take photos of our "life in process", read: messy.

So last week I staged the house a bit to provide our friend photos of a "lived in house" but not one with crafts all over the table, dishes piled in the sink, and winter gear hanging from drying racks! Those "staged" photos are the ones in this post.

The fact that almost all my photos of our home are "real life" living is satisfying to me. We've lived a good life in this home. Not always tidy, hardly. But days full of creativity, learning and love.

It's a good life. I feel very blessed.

PS. If you want to see the messy photos you can check out FIMBY Facebook where I shared them last week.

PPS. A reader asked me a while ago what I thought about the bright paint colors in our home. They work for us because I don't terribly care about those kind of things when we're only renting for a season of life.

I can go either way. I love light colored walls for how bright they are, but with the large windows in our living space the dark blue works.

I do love rich and dynamic colors (I'm a type 3 energy) and maybe when we own our own home again, someday, I'll have more courage to experiment with bold wall color, based on my experience here.

One of my favorite Christmas albums is Sufjan Steven's album Songs for Christmas.

We're Goin' To the Country! will always remind me of living in this chalet.

I did the math. In seventeen years of marriage Damien and I have lived in eleven homes. That includes the two times we've lived in other people's homes during times of transition.

Our most recent stint of living in someone else's home was with my parents, when we left the US and started our lives again in Canada.

And years before that we lived with friends, when we left New Jersey and arrived fresh in Maine. Brienne was born in that house.

Maine was to be our home (we lived in a couple different houses) for nearly a decade. The longest we've lived in one state or province outside our growing up years in Alberta, Canada.

At this time next year we will be living in a different home, house sitting for friends on their own adventure. And we will have added six months on the trail to our "places we've lived" roster.

Out of all the places we've lived in our married life, this home has been the most charming.

We loved the house the first moment we saw it, tucked into the woods, at the end of the road.

When we first saw the house, it truly was a chalet, a cabin, without running water even.

Our telemark teachers, now our good friends, were showing us the chalet they intended to renovate and rent.

We needed a place to live and God provided us not only a home but good friends out of the deal. Wow.

We moved into the chalet in summer. That autumn some large ski "chalets" were built on our road so that we ended up feeling like we live in an upscale ski resort neighborhood. Kind of fun. 

Prior to our move to Quebec, we always shared walls with neighbors. We've lived in small apartment buildings and townhouses. We've been the tenants below our landlords. And then the landlords above the tenants.

In my early adult years I imagined our family would live in a city. Damien was an engineer and then a computer programmer and that's where people with those skills often live, because that's where their skills are in demand.

I was happy living in cities. I love the convenience of it. (Our one month in Montreal before we moved into this chalet is one of the highlights of the past three years for our family.)

But we wanted more outdoor space for our children and we wanted the outdoors to be a much bigger part of our lives than a one day a week drive-to-the-mountains affair.

We had dreams but we couldn't imagine that one day this is where those dreams would eventually take us. We still try to drive to the big mountains once a week but now we live on the side of a mountain and all our walks and daily outdoor doings are in mountain air with the rush of a river nearby.

I will be sad to say goodbye to this home in a few short months. I will miss living at a ski hill but I am excited for the next adventure, and the next. And I know new homes will come our way with their own unique features and blessings.

But this time, out here in the woods, I will always remember fondly. The eighteen months in our lives when we're goin' to the country! meant going home.

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