In the course of my recent rebranding, I’ve spent a good bit of time revisiting the changes in the blog over the years.
If you haven’t followed along since its inception, the evolution of my little corner of the web might surprise you.
It began something like twelve years ago as a personal outlet for a stay-at-home mom. I lived in a golf course community in the suburbs north of Atlanta at the time. That situation didn’t really fit my sensibilities. It was simply supposed to be a good place for the kids to go to school.
So I made the best of a less than optimal scenario. I began researching how I could be “green” as possible in a very “ungreen” place. My content back then was centered on my efforts and the knowledge I gained, and helping other sift through the decisions and challenges.
Believe it or not, that’s the humble beginning of my little blog—a stay-at-home mom writing about being green in the suburbs. Oh how far I’ve come since then!
But then life threw me a curveball and I took it right in the kisser.
My youngest kiddo, known as “George” here on Val in Real Life, was entering kindergarten. It was finally time for me to spread my wings as an individual again—to reinvent myself in the post-stay-at-home-mom life. Except by that time his older brother, known as “Fred” here on the blog, was absolutely tanking in public school. (FYI, they picked Fred and George as their pseudonyms as a tribute to the mischievous brothers from the Harry Potter series.)
In spite of our Herculean and time-consuming efforts involving a cadre of IEP (Individualized Education Program) meetings, developmental pediatricians, occupational therapists, and everything else you can think of, public school was just a nightmare for him. Fred is an Apserger’s kid, you see. In the end, public school just wasn’t a place he could survive, much less thrive. So we became homeschoolers after ruling out all the other options.
As you can imagine, that put a screeching halt to any plans I’d been considering for myself. Homeschooling was never on my radar until then but that’s where we ended up. We had no idea how long we’d go that route. We just knew we needed to make some changes and try something different.
No surprise here that this is a very brief summary of many years of angst and frustration for all of us. It was a fairly epic “This was not in the brochure!” time in my life.
Overlapping with my newfound role as a homeschooling mom, I found the subject matter of the “green” blog to be unsatisfying. I realized I was trying to make the best of my suburban hell situation instead of making the situation what I wanted it to be.
After having the rug pulled out from under me in pursuing my personal goals, I had to adjust my mindset and expectations. Oddly enough though, becoming homeschoolers opened up possibilities for me that I’d never considered before. I met interesting people who not only showed me the ropes on the whole homeschooling thing, they showed me that it didn’t have to happen at home.
No longer tied to a public school schedule, there were no limitations on when we could go places. Suddenly the world was our oyster. Travel wasn’t relegated to weekends and breaks. And thus the road-schooling adventures took hold. Val in Real Life became the chronicle of them, my “green” content quite happily chucked into the virtual trash bin.
Kids grow up
I don’t remember what I originally called the “green” blog. As things took shape though and the subject matter shifted towards road-schooling adventures, I landed on Val in Real Life. My intent was to always be honest about everything. I also knew the story was about my journey, less-so the kids.
And in the end, kids grow up. I knew our adventures wouldn’t last forever. I also didn’t know how long I’d want to do this blogging thing. But I did know I wanted the option to continue as long as that ended up being without having to rebrand from something in the mom/homeschooler/kid travel niche.
Sure enough, the kids kept growing. They have a funny way of doing that! And their schedules changed as they began taking higher-level classes at homeschooling groups. My schedule changed with them as their chauffeur to those classes. We still went on adventures as time permitted but road-schooling eventually faded into solo adventures of all kinds for me.
The blog naturally shifted as I hoped it would as my life evolved. It has morphed with me through the all of the surprises in life. Among other things—exiting suburban golf course hell combined with a divorce, a near-fatal motorcycle crash, moving to Nevada, and now becoming a full-time RVer.
None of those things were in the brochure.
I’ve glossed over a lot, obviously. This post isn’t intended to be a full-on memoir, just a highlight reel to put the blog’s evolution into perspective. Because here I am, several lifetimes later, still blogging, and rolling with the punches.
If you’ve followed along for any length of time though, you know I’m not afraid of making big changes and bold moves. Not simply for the sake of them. But to reset the off-kilter things in my life that can only be fixed by embracing the opportunities those kinds of decisive actions can bring.
There’s so much we can’t control. But also so much that we can. And I think that’s really the crux of Val in Real Life. I’m not interested in being a victim of life. I’m the architect of it.
Cheers, friends! Adventure on!
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