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Finding your map and paddling upstream

Early mornings in the quiet that can only happen when I rise early before the chattering masses—these give me my best thinking hours. No screens until after lunchtime for the kiddos make for a much healthier, happier clan. Living with only one (old) car helps us afford to travel. Getting out of debt means we don’t have to make as much money to live. Date nights when we can, Tate nights when we can’t so we remember to say hi to each other.

These are things we’ve come to learn about ourselves, and it took us awhile, to be honest. We weren’t always the best at knowing what’s important to us. We had a few years of living other peoples’ dreams for us, dreams we thought were ours, too. A bit of doing things because That’s What You Do.

We haven’t done it all beautifully, of course; we’re still learning, after all. We know from real-life experience that we can’t live in isolation from community, and we’ve unintentionally done stuff over the years to prohibit us from deepening those bonds. We plan to do a better job.

I know that taking care of my physical health means being better at all my roles in life, and well… I’m working on it, as you know.

And there’s artistry that needs birthing and breathing, so we’re making changes to how our family produces in order that this artist can create his—well, his art.

We’re all works in progress, aren’t we?

Paddling upstream

I’ve heard it said that if you’re asked the same question three times, then you have a particular knowledge that needs sharing. People see in you something that others want for themselves, and so they ask you because you seem to know the secret.

I don’t know how true that is, but the idea makes sense. And sometimes it happens where you least expect it.

Paddling upstream requires an inner compass and a decent map.

I’ve been asked over the years a few repeated questions—questions about how to know your vocation and your purpose, for example, or how to make goals that are realistic and reachable. How to simplify and know what to get rid of—that’s always a big one.

I decided to listen to the wisdom of others in my life and create something that’ll maybe scratch an itch. Perhaps it’ll give you some insight in to your own answers, the ones that make sense for your particular life situation.

See, here’s what I believe: we probably already have the answers within us. We just need a good map and a decent guide to show us how to look at it.

Living a life that makes sense with your particular purpose and your personhood (and those in your household)—that’s the best way to live. There’s not one cookie-cutter formula. But the current, the mainstream culture around us says otherwise; they’ve given us a formula that says “Do A and B, then you’ll get C and D and be happy.”

Living a life that makes sense for us, even if it’s different than other lives around us—that’s paddling upstream. But paddling upstream only works if you have the right map, the right gear for the journey, and the right boat.

We need to know these things so that we have a real, tangible, true-for-us sense of where we want to go in life. But in order to do that—well, we need to find the right map.

Upstream Field Guide

It’s taken months (months!) of planning, preparing, and long hours as we travel, but we’ve finally created a little something for you, something we can point to if you have some of those questions.

I wanted it to be easy but useful. Practical but fun. Hard but life-giving. And with friends to make along the way. So that’s what we’ve created.

Photo source

Upstream Field Guide is an eight-session course that takes you through the process of better understanding yourself, unearthing more of your purpose, then using your wisdom to make a plan so that your life makes more sense. To you. Because we all have an inner compass, but we’re each holding a unique map.

The sessions are given to you over a four-week period, so you have the grace and the space to really journal, research, think, and if you want, get your family involved. No need to rush through this stuff. And the good news? Once you’re in, you’re in for as long as the course lives—you can take it again and again, year after year. And I’m sure I’ll be tweaking and oiling the baby, adding new stuff when its needed.

Head here to see if there’s a question of yours we’ve answered about the course, and to sign up if it sounds good to you. It’s not for everyone, no—but if you’d like help in better knowing the real you, if you’d like to make a plan that makes sense for you, and if you’d like some help unearthing the right map, then it might be for you.

I don’t have all the answers, and I haven’t figured it “all” out, either—but the good news here is that I’m out on the river with you, paddling and steering and pointing out the fantastic view along the way.

I’d love it if you joined me.

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Reading Time:

3 minutes





  1. GinnyLou

    So glad to see this! “Paddling upstream” is exactly how I feel in many social situations. It will be nice to “be” with like-minded people for a change!
    That said, I went to a lecture by Richard Louv of “Last Child in the Woods” fame last night, and found some much-needed validation there. I thought of you and that you would have enjoyed the talk too!
    Thanks again for all the work you’ve put into this.

    • Tsh

      Oooh…. Would have LOVED that! I’m a massive, massive fan of his work and his book. Hope you enjoyed it!

      And yes, I’ve loved creating this course, GinnyLou (even though it did take a ton of my time the past few weeks). 😉 Honored that it resonates with you!

  2. Guest

    This sounds so great! It appears this is all self-paced. Is it possible for me to sign up later? I’m just starting an aggressive reading the Bible program and I don’t think I can do both. 🙂

    • Tsh

      It’s self-paced, but the material trickles out to you over 3 weeks, so that you’re not overwhelmed. So yes, you can take it any time! Just sign up when you’re ready. 🙂

  3. Mia

    Great post 🙂 The top pic HAS to be from Hyalite reservoir in Bozeman, right? Literally in my backyard!

    • Tsh

      It’s actually from Scout Lake, near Bend, Oregon (I took the photo on my birthday). So you’re close-ish, right? Same general part of the world. 😉

  4. Amanda Villagomez

    My One Little Word for 2015 is Core and the focus is really reflecting on what is most important to me and then considering how closely my life aligns and adjusting where needed. I have been thinking about many of the things you mention here (discovering what is important to me, not just what others think; the concept of an inner compass…). This class sounds like a perfect fit, and I am really excited for it. Thank you for putting it together.

    • Tsh

      It does sound right up your alley, Amanda. Would love to hear what you think if you decide to join!

      • Amanda V

        Hi Tsh, I did sign up yesterday and just finished listening through the two podcasts for lesson one, and I can tell I am going to love it. I look forward to taking the time to go through the rest and to pause and reflect along the way.

  5. Amanda Villagomez

    …and I forgot to say, thank you so much for the concept of a lifetime class. I am familiar with the concept of paying once and having access to the original content forever, but this is the first class that I have seen where you will be potentially adding new content over time without charging for a different version of the class.

  6. Tiffany Larson

    This topic is how I find your blog years ago, Tsh. I can’t imagine a more perfect course for you to offer!

    • Tsh

      Aw, you are too kind, Tiffany! Thanks for that encouragement.

  7. Heather H

    Oh my goodness! Your course looks fantastic I have signed up and I’m ready to start paddling

    • Tsh

      So glad, Heather! See you in there. XO

  8. Adriel B

    Fantastic times infinity. Proud of you, Tsh.

    • Tsh

      Thank you friend.

  9. Veggie Mama

    eeeeee! I’m so excited. I just signed up!

    How you did this in your current circumstances, I’ll never know. I hope you’ve got a niiiiiiice bottle of wine with your name on it this evening! xo

    • Tsh

      Stacey! So totally fun to see you in there. Good times ahead! XO

  10. Heidi Scovel

    That looks amazing, Tsh!!

    • Tsh

      Thank you, friend! Love that you guys got out of town recently. Good for you. 🙂

  11. Allie

    Looks GREAT Tsh, and this is a great time of year to launch. Still the new year, but after that two week period when people stop going to the gym ;). If my finances allow, I’ll see you over there.
    (That’s not to say your course is too expensive! You worked hard on it, and I think it’s under-priced. But I just need to find space in the budget ;))

  12. victoria

    The timeliness of this post is outstanding. My husband and I are getting ready to leave our steady, salaried jobs to go live in on an organic farm in a crazy camper. The stretch and pull of the heart vs. societal expectations has been overwhelming yet interesting to observe. I especially love how you said “living a life that makes sense for us, even when it looks different from others…”

    Thank you for your blog, and for your spin on the world. Encouragement abounds!

  13. Prerna

    LOOOVE this!!

    I’ve promised myself no more courses this year…but am seriously thinking of changing my mind.. I really, really resonated with “We weren’t always the best at knowing what’s important to us. We had a few years of living other peoples’ dreams for us, dreams we thought were ours, too. A bit of doing things because That’s What You Do.” Because in some ways, am there right now.. and I want my map!!

    Congratulations on doing this Tsh and like I always say, I have NO idea how you do it… all and awesomely:)

  14. Marie

    Hi Tsh, thanks soooo much! I have recently registered in the course and currently enjoying session two. Exactly what I needed, it is great. Great things you´re doing. It would be nice to meet you if you visit Prague/Czech Rep in your journey.

  15. Dawn

    Sounds great. I’m very interested in learning more it appears the course is closed for the season. Is there a way I could look at an overview and pricing and an ETA for when it will open again?

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