Welcome to marianamcdougall.com, where parents of young children can find out how to break free of ordinary lives to live extraordinary ones.  The place to turn your dreams into goals, and achieve them – because a dream is only “just a dream” until you make it into a goal.  After that, it’s only a matter of time and planning before it becomes a reality.

Join me and my young family as we reach the best health of our lives, embrace our dreams, break free from a life of conformity, and hopefully inspire you to do the same.

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Questions? Don’t be a stranger; give me a shout at mcdougallmariana@gmail.com.

Unleash Your Creative Self

You’re more creative than you think.


I’ve been neglecting this blog since I started building the MultiTalented Writers site. With 3 young homeschooled kids at home, managing a household, building a new site, trying to maintain an exercise routine, maintaining some semblance of a social life, building a site from the ground up, and creating a new YouTube channel, there really isn’t that much time left to work on this blog. 

But since I love writing posts and I’d like to keep writing about my parenting, homeschooling, and general life experiences, I’ve returned for a few more posts 🙂 My hope is to post something at least weekly on this site, but we’ll see how it goes. I like to keep it real, and reality is, when you live the crazy life I live, not everything gets done. And I’ve learned to be OK with that.


Did you know? January is International Creativity Month!

I can’t believe we’re in the middle of January already, so I’m a bit late to the party, but I’d like to remind you all that the first month of each year is International Creativity Month. Take some time in January to feed your creative self—to unleash the power of creativity that you have inside you, just waiting to be nurtured. “But I’m not creative,” you say? That’s a big fat lie. A lie I bought into for far too long.

I am not a crafty person; I don’t particularly enjoy making things with my hands, and I’m surrounded by knitters, quilters, and bona fide artists who actually sell paintings. For years I bought into the lie that I’m just not a creative person. But I was wrong, and last year, I finally realized just how wrong.

Creativity comes in many forms, and you are far more creative than you think.

crafts Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

Last year, I finally stopped to take stock of all the things I enjoy doing. I love acting. And although I’m acting someone else’s script, there is a form of creativity to bringing those characters to life. I enjoy singing, and I even make up some of my own lyrics to entertain my kids. I love to read stories to my kids, and I put on voices for each of the characters. I think up those voices all on my own, and my kids love my antics during story time. I’m a writer, for goodness sake, and although I don’t write fiction (yet!), there’s definitely creativity involved in taking fragments of interviews and turning them into an informative story worth reading.

I’m sure that even if you do none of the things mentioned above, you’re still a creative person. We all are; we just use our creativity in different ways. Even the most analytical of professions requires some creativity to get certain tasks completed, and creativity comes into play in so many areas of life.

This year, I’ve decided to nurture my creative self a little more. I enjoy several creative pursuits. Just because I don’t create things with my hands does not mean that I am not creative (and the same applies to you). I’m nurturing my creativity in several ways:

1. I’m continuing my Day Book journey.

I truly enjoyed journalling and doodling in my Day Book last year, so I’m continuing to do that in 2018. I went to Chapters and bought 3 of the journals I enjoy using, because I’ll go through at least that this year. Between journalling, planning, and doodling, those pages get filled pretty quick.

2. I’m allowing myself time to draw and colour with my kids

Sometimes the kids and I take a day to do artsy things. We forget about the books and just enjoy creating together. My daughter loves these days, and the memories we create along the way are far more valuable than a check mark on a curriculum list.

3. I’m using our love of board games to make lessons more interesting

This past year, I discovered the one activity that our entire family loves doing: playing board games. So I’m taking that love and turning it into a creaive pursuit: I’m gamifying as many lessons as I can for my second grader. For example, we’ll be playing Pizza! (a game I’m still developing) to learn and review fractions. More on this in another post; stay tuned!

4. I’m making birthday cards for my family and friends

greeting cards, Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

Every year I promise myself, “this is the year I’ll send birthday cards to everyone.” And every year, I fail miserably at doing so. But this past December, this wonderfully giving lady freecycled a humongous set of beautiful stamps and card-making material. And I was in heaven. Now I have some beautiful things to use to make birthday cards, so I’m much more likely to actually send them (since I’ve done all the work of creating the cards in the first place).

5. I joined a supportive creative community on Facebook.

I can’t even remember how I found this group, but I found some lovely creative people on Facebook. The group is called “Creativity is Contagious: make and share something everyday challenge,” and joining it was probably the best thing I’ve done to keep my creative juices flowing this year.

The simple act of joining this challenge pushes me to at the very least do a quick little doodle and post it in the group every day. The neat thing is that everyone in there is so encouraging, “liking” your posts and making nice comments about your art and creativity, that it makes you want to create more.

And I love that the creator of the group is super open about her definition of creativity. I can share my blog posts, videos, or anything else I’ve created or made myself. 

6. Stage, here I come (again)

theatre drama production photo

I’ll be in my third community theatre production this year. I’m so very excited to hit the stage again. Although I much prefer the screen, being on stage is great fun as well. One day I hope to pursue acting more seriously (and professionally), but for now, these community theatre plays give me both experience, as well as an outlet for my creativity (and some alone Mama time). My first play was an adaptation of The Princess Bride (one of my favourite novels of all time), my second play was an adaptation of Sleeping Beauty, and the next on will be an adaptation of The Little Mermaid. I can’t wait!

bullet journal Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash

So there you have it; these are some ways that I’m keeping my life open to creative pursuits, not just during International Creativity Month, but throughout 2018.

How about you? How will you unleash your creative self this year? Let me know in the comments!


Multi-Talented Writers Website Coming Soon!

Things have been a little quiet on this blog for a while. That’s because I’ve been working on a really exciting project for writers who prefer not to pick a niche. For those of us who are multi-talented, multipotentialites, scanners, or renaissance souls, choosing just one thing simply doesn’t work. Unfortunately, everyone and their aunt is trying to convince beginning writers that they must pick a niche or risk failure in their writing business. This is simply not true. As a multi-niche writer myself, I know that writing in various niches and formats isn’t only possible, it’s fun, and it pays.

I’ve been working hard the last few months, learning even more about WordPress, discussion forums, multi-author blogs, and more, to bring you one of my largest projects yet: the Multi-Talented Writers website.

The website has a discussion forum for sharing ideas and asking questions, a blog to give you tips about creating your dream multi-niche writing business, and more. Just for signing up for the mailing list, you’ll receive a FREE guide to help you use one of the best tools for the Multi-Talented: mind maps.

Sign up for the mailing list here for weekly tips and to get your FREE Mind Maps for Freelance Writing Success guide as soon as it’s ready.

Please note that all blog posts in the “For Writers” section of marianamcdougall.com will be moved to multitalentedwriters.com. There’ll also be plenty of other blog posts to give you tips on all aspects of being a professional writer.

*Not* Back to School: How This Homeschooling Family Does September


As everyone is gearing up for “back to school,” I’m gearing up for a trip to London, to see one of my cousins who is coming to Canada for the first time. Me and my kids get to pick him up in Toronto on our way to London to spend time with our family. We’ll probably do some school while we’re in London, but we won’t get back into the real swing of things until the second week of September.

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Homeschooling Resources – What We’ve Used This Year

I’m often asked whether I use a curriculum or  other resources in my homeschooling. I thought it was high time I wrote a post about how we homeschool.

Firstly, it’s important to know that I don’t identify strongly with any one particular type of homeschooling. I consider myself a flexible homeschooler. I do follow a curriculum for certain things, but if there is a life experience available, we set the books aside for a while and go live life. I think it’s extremely important for children to live in and interact with the world around them, instead of being restricted by four walls and senseless testing or rigid mandates.

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Polishing Your Writer's Resume

Polishing Your Writer’s Resume

I’m part of a great writing group on Facebook. I love helping out with questions and sharing some of my experiences there. Recently, someone asked if there were any tips on polishing a writer’s resume. I offered to share my resume via e-mail, and a few people chimed in that they’d be interested in seeing it also. Well, if that’s not inspiration for a new blog post, I don’t know what is 🙂

Firstly, let’s talk about whether you need a writing resume at all. If you’re a freelance writer pitching publications or clients, chances are you’ll rarely, if ever, need a resume. Usually a pitch or query, accompanied by links to your published articles (or clips of articles for print publications) is more than enough. However, there are occasions when you’ll need a writer’s resume – for example, if you are applying for a remote position with a company, or if a private client specifically requests it. This latter example is rare, but it does happen from time to time.

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Homeschooling Resource List – Early Childhood


In my attempt to get my house purged and cleaned out, I’ve been running across some old stuff that I had written down a long time ago, that I didn’t have time to do anything with, and that is actually pretty useful.

When I was first researching homeschooling (a long, long time ago), I wrote down a list of resources I wanted to check out for Early Childhood Education. Then I forgot all about that list, and used different resources instead. I still haven’t tried most of these, because I found other resources that are serving my needs. I think I’ll still check some of them out, though, considered I still have a kindergartener and a preschooler.

Have you tried any of these resources? If so, could you leave a comment letting me know what you think? Thanks!

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My Mess Threshold: When Chaos Makes You Anxious

Chaos can make you anxious – even if you’re someone who’s used to chaos.

Creative people tend to have a reputation for being messy and disorganized. Until very recently, I didn’t fit the mold for that stereotype. I used to be a hyper-organized person. I even spent 7 years as a military clerk. You can’t get much more organized than a military administrative professional. But having children changed everything. It’s much harder to be organized when there’s several people in a household and where there are a million things that all have to get done at once. I went from hyper-organized to hyper-messy. And, because I’m brave (or stupid), I’ve decided to let you in on my dirty little secret: I’m a messy person. And I’m even going to let you in on how messy I’ve really become. Despite my attempts to have my most organized year ever, my house currently looks like this:

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