Educational Philosophy, Home Education, Other Thoughts

Always Serving Leftovers: Why I’m Not Traveling to Speak Next Year

July 29, 2019 by Brandy Vencel

I ‘ve always been what I call “reasonable” about my speaking schedule. I’ve limited myself to four times per year (well, four times leaving the state — sometimes I added in a couple things that were within driving distance). I’ve not just placed these limits because of my family (though honestly I don’t know how I can be a good mom and wife if I’m gone most weekends), but because of me. I write The Low-Energy Mom’s Guide to Homeschooling for a reason!

When I first started traveling, there was a learning curve. I hadn’t traveled much since college! (I didn’t want leave my children until they were at least school age because I think the bonding is just too important in those early years.) But it was fun and honestly I love speaking and talking with moms. I learn so much from you, and I’m not very athletic, so I guess you could say speaking is my favorite sport. I love ideas and talking about them — spending a weekend doing that is very refreshing for me.

Or, at least, it was at first.

Great Homeschool Conventions was wonderful in so many ways — I got to meet so many of you and the company itself is wonderful and there is something very inspiring about so many different kinds of homeschoolers all under one roof — but the rigorous schedule took its toll on my body. It didn’t seem to matter that I enjoyed what I was doing. The reality was that recovering afterwards began to take longer and longer.

Somewhere in there, I turned forty, and this recovery problem was exaggerated. In the 2018 and 2019 seasons it often took me a month to get completely back to normal.

I’m not trying to get you to feel sorry for me. It is what it is. We all have to discover and then work within our limitations, right? Apparently, these are mine.

In the midst of it taking so long for me to feel normal again, I realized I was feeding my family too many leftovers. I mean this metaphorically. I love serving leftovers. My entire meal strategy can be summed up in cook once, serve twice. I cook for dinner; I heat leftovers for lunch 96% of the time. (This means that I’ve tripled and quadrupled a lot of recipes as my children have gotten older.)

But imagine if I never did the cooking part. If all I did was warm up second-rate food. That’s what life was starting to be like around here. Mom was always used up by other people and activities in distant places and the family was getting whatever remained after that. It was completely upside down and backwards from what it ought to be.

Sometimes, we have to give up objectively good things because they aren’t good for us or our families and local communities. Speaking and traveling can be a good thing, but not when it jeopardizes being a good mom or fulfilling primary duties. Some people are a lot healthier and tougher than others (and some homeschool speakers, to be honest, are actually away from their children too much), but none of that really matters because the fact is that it became Not Good for my family.

I have a senior this year. It’s likely this time next year I’ll be preparing to drop him off far away from home. But even if I’m not, it’s still the last year I’ll have all my children in our homeschool. I don’t want to miss a third of his school year because I’m too in recovery mode to be present. I want to have energy to accomplish the modest bucket-list my husband and I put together. These are the things we want to do as a whole family together before one of us flies the coop.

And, of course, there are other children who need my attention. Over the years, there were a lot of opportunities I said no to at the outset because I knew that saying yes would mean that I neglected a child who needed me in some way. But this is the first time I’ve said goodbye to something major that I loved.

So why am I saying all of this? I suppose it’s one-part group therapy. 😉 But more than this, there are some of you that I’ve enjoyed seeing each year for a number of years now, and that’s going to change. So this is goodbye, in a way. At least for now. I’ll still be online, and I’ll still be at the Scholé Sisters annual online local retreats, of course. But things are going to be different and I just thought you should know.

Thanks to all of you who came out to GHC over the years — especially those of you who volunteered so many hours at the AmblesideOnline booth. I’ll miss seeing you!

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25 Comments

  • Reply Jess Smith August 6, 2019 at 6:28 pm

    Well, now I’m even more thankful I got to meet you in person in Nashville. 🙂 I hope this is a blessed time for you and your family as you go through this season! Thanks for all you do.

  • Reply Hailey White August 4, 2019 at 6:10 pm

    I’ll miss seeing you too momma at the GHC, but you’re reasons are precisely why you didn’t see me this year. Have a great year and hope our paths cross again, in person! Xoxo. Hailey

    • Reply Brandy Vencel August 5, 2019 at 8:10 am

      Hailey, I MISSED you! I hope our paths cross again, too. ♥

  • Reply Laura August 3, 2019 at 11:48 am

    So I’m going to join the chorus of those who are super bummed that we’ve never met you in person (for crying out loud, I live in Cincinnati! I have friends who met you and didn’t even realize it!) but I totally get the seasons of life. (Ergo, why I didn’t get to GHC, even when I knew you were coming!) And seasons change, so maybe we’ll meet as little old ladies, which would be super fun, too. 🙂

  • Reply Angela July 30, 2019 at 8:09 pm

    Oh, Brandy ? This is so honest and helpful…Striving-Land is all around us—a never-ending desert—and we are so quickly tempted by the curated imagery, the imaginary oases implying that there is fresh water and green grass OVER THERE. I am glad that I got to meet you, albeit too briefly at #AOCM2019, but I am confident that you are choosing the very best thing. What a gift this year will be for your family. You are such an encouragement to me.

  • Reply Lauren July 30, 2019 at 5:57 pm

    Love this so much. I’m also low energy and need to keep my commitments in check. Thank you for your example in this. I hope you and your family thoroughly enjoy this year together!!

  • Reply MichelleDee . . . the nomad :-) July 30, 2019 at 5:55 pm

    I was just going to write what Angelique did: good for you! I have often wondered how you do all that you do, from the speaking (which I have been blessed by numerous times all over the continent!), to your blog posts, to your podcasts, to your boot camps.

    And now, knowing that you are stepping back, for the express purpose of your family . . . it brings me joy that you can see that and can focus where your time needs to focus. I am also thankful that you plan to continue to teach us through your blog and podcasts. I have learned so much, and have been challenged by you in ways that no one else in the homeschool community has challenged me. So, thank you, from the bottom of my heart. And, may the LORD bless you as you focus where you are supposed to at this season in your walk.

  • Reply Angelique July 30, 2019 at 10:35 am

    Good for you, Brandy, seriously. 🙂

  • Reply Simple Catholic July 30, 2019 at 8:40 am

    Thank you for all you do and have done! Seasons of life are very real and recognizing when it is time to change is huge. May God bless you and your decision!!

  • Reply Vanessa Hollifield July 30, 2019 at 8:23 am

    Hi Brandy! Even though I’ve never heard you speak, I’m a regular reader of your blog and feel like I know you. I just want to encourage you and your decision, I am thankful to the Lord that I have got to know you through your blog alone. And he will continue to use you in service that way, regardless if you speak at events or not. Good for you for saying yes to your family and recognizing what an important season you are in …. as it is about to change! Good for you for encouraging us to have to be strong and say no sometimes. May God bless you and your family! And be Encouraged!!!!

  • Reply Holly July 30, 2019 at 7:39 am

    My dear friend, thank you for setting this example for the rest of us! I am sorry you will not be able to share your gift at GHC with the rest of the world, but so very happy for your own family and the extra time and energy you will have for them. I know your thriving local CM community will benefit as well! I will always be grateful that the Lord used you to educate me about CM and her methods before I even began my homeschool journey. I know my family has been blessed by it in ways I’m not even aware of yet. Thank you for being faithful. ?

  • Reply Stephanie July 30, 2019 at 7:27 am

    I haven’t ever been to one of the conferences – I would’ve loved to have met you – but I love listening to you on the SS podcast. That said, I 100% agree with your decision. I did a lot outside my home as my family was growing and it wad so hard to let go of things, but I had to. The hardest was singing in the praise band at church for nigh 20 years. But I honestly had nothing left to give, so every service of mine – wife, mom, worship leader, etc – was messy. I hope you enjoy restful homeschooling this year, especially with your oldest’s last year. I’ll be there in 2 years and I’m not ready for it ?. God bless!

  • Reply Mary July 30, 2019 at 5:23 am

    I admire you. There are seasons for everything. Your time with your senior is SO important.

    After I had a few speaking engagements I quickly learned it wasn’t for me – while I loved meeting and encouraging moms, I was not encouraging and supporting my own family at home.

    I love attending GHC and always admire all of the work the speakers put in – thankful for those that have the gift of managing the speaking circuit and mothering/homeschooling.

    Enjoy this senior year – mine leaves for college in two weeks. It goes quickly!

  • Reply Helen July 29, 2019 at 11:03 pm

    It’s been a good season! Thank you so much for all you do! ?

  • Reply Mama Rachael July 29, 2019 at 7:20 pm

    Ya know, I totally understand. I’ve not yet left my children with anyone more than 1 over night until this year, when Little Man, age 8, went to camp. And traveling takes it out of me before and after, always.

    On the other hand, I’d hoped to meet you in person at the DFW GHC some year, and due to various commitments, I couldn’t make it the past two years. So, bummed, this might not happen. Should you make it central Texas sometime, please look me up… If I can, I’ll provide a guest bedroom! Or at least some good Texas home cooking and a strong cup of coffee (or tea, or just ice water, or whatever it is you drink!) Life happens. And we survive.

  • Reply SarahD July 29, 2019 at 6:20 pm

    I understand this. Life has to take a different shape as it’s circumstances (and our age and energy levels) shift.

  • Reply Laura Cottrell July 29, 2019 at 4:04 pm

    Thanks for sharing this! You are modeling prioritizing the things that are most important. Blessings on a senior year and enjoy some time not traveling or recovering from travel! I think it will be fun for you to look back at this year and see what fruit God made space for that you didn’t expect!♥️

  • Reply Valerie July 29, 2019 at 1:29 pm

    Aww, I’m so sad I won’t see you anymore in Texas, but mostly I’m thankful for the courage you have to say no so you can be your best for your family. Hugs ?

    • Reply Brandy Vencel July 29, 2019 at 3:08 pm

      I’m going to miss you, Valerie! But this might not be forever … and I definitely know where you find you. ♥

  • Reply Ritsumei July 29, 2019 at 1:26 pm

    This sounds wise to me. I have often looked at the way that I am forever skipping things that I want to do, and looked at you women who blog and run AO and are online and everything else, and while I am *incredibly* grateful that you exist… I’ve wondered how it is that you do it all (and if I could somehow get some of that magic to rub off on me). I wish I’d been able to pull off coming to a convention to hear you and meet you. I’m selfishly glad that there’s still room for blogging and podcasting. So I admire that you do all these things –and I admire more that you’re willing to say that you don’t reach that far, and that you’re prioritizing your own family over the rest of us. It’s a good call.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel July 29, 2019 at 3:10 pm

      Ha! I definitely DON’T do it all … therein lies the problem, I suppose. 😉

  • Reply Brooke July 29, 2019 at 1:22 pm

    In so many ways, I love this. ?

    While I am so sorry I didn’t make it to Dallas last time you were there to meet you (though the reason having been sick little ones gives me more appreciation for you not traveling so you can be fully there for your family), I love it because you are doing what you need to for yourself and your family. This benefits more than just you and your family…it benefits all the moms (and their families) who glean from your wisdom, and who are inspired by your examples of how to balance as much good as possible while keeping priorities in check.

    Just please… don’t ever stop writing!! ??✍️

  • Reply Tracy Blom July 29, 2019 at 1:03 pm

    I completely understand and am glad you are setting this public example that you can choose to focus on what matters most. With two 16 yr olds, I decided to not teach at our local tutorial this year. That one day a week ended up stealing precious time from my boys on the other days of the week as well. It was difficult because I love teaching Spanish in a CM way to non-CM kids and watching them go from zero to narrating fables and doing picture study totally in Spanish in just a few weeks. Watching kids blossom like that feeds my soul and it is hard to turn down parents who want and need my help, but it comes at such a cost…

  • Reply Amanda July 29, 2019 at 12:36 pm

    Oh girl, do I ever get this. Saying good bye to such good things in the name of honoring the place God has you is freeing and sad and lovely all wrapped into one. I will miss hearing your speak at GHC! You are a gift to the CM community.

    PS: Your post in your low energy guide about knowing your sonnet (aka, knowing your limits and what this particular season needs to look like) is one that is often in the forefront of my mind. Thank you for writing that series.

  • Reply Diana July 29, 2019 at 12:32 pm

    So understandable! I regret that I never made it to a GHC to meet you, but I didn’t travel bc of my littles. So, yeah, understandable. ?

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