Monday, December 26, 2011

running, pain and gratitude

Yesterday, I ran three miles by myself. I have never done that before. I usually run three times a week with a friend of mine. We started this running program a few months ago called, "Couch to 5k." We missed one of our running dates, and I felt like I really needed some exercise, so I set out on my own.

As I ran, I started experiencing these cycling thoughts: 

I can't do this.
I'm not strong enough.
This hurts.
I want to stop. 
I'm not strong enough.
This hurts.
I can't do this.I don't want this.
I can't do this.

My running partner wasn't there to distract me; she wasn't there to tell me to keep going when I would say it was too hard. I kept running because I said to myself, "If I don't do this, then how am I going to get through anything else? How am I going to get through my darkness, my pain?" I told myself I had to do it to prove that I am strong enough. I kept pushing through it. After I had run for about twenty minutes, I went into this strange, disconnected state. I was just running, and I wasn't even sure why anymore. I wasn't feeding myself negative thoughts anymore. I was just running even though it hurt.

I realized that this experience is so incredibly analogous for my life. I feed myself those negative thoughts every time pain comes up in my life, but somehow I manage to push through it. I choose which thoughts to tell myself about the situation. I choose whether to push the pain away, and say, "I don't want this," or accept it, and find gratitude in my life.

I have been facing a lot of my own darkness lately. I have been telling myself that I am not strong enough. I have been telling myself the exact same thoughts that I told myself when I was running yesterday! But, the run, it was so hard, and I proved myself wrong. I am strong enough. Yesterday, Christmas, was rough. I'd like to not go into a lot of detail about my personal life, but I will say that I have been facing some challenges. I focused so much on the negative aspects of my day, and then I brought them to Joshua. He then asked me "what happened today that you are grateful for?" I told him one thing, and then another, and then I realized that there is a long list of things I am grateful for, but I have been setting them aside, and choosing to look at the things in my life that are difficult.

I seem to be grateful, mostly, for the little things. The sunset, a hawk flying over, pulling up carrots in the garden, the crunching of leaves on the ground, friendship...

and the list goes on.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

East Wind Fire

For those of you who are reading this blog for updates on East Wind (which is why I originally started this blog), the most recent news from EW is that a couple days ago there was quite a fire that burned down the whole shower house. The shower house contained all the laundry facilities, all the showers and baths, the community clothes closet, the sewing room, and the massage room. It seems like a bit of a tragedy. I'm not as East Wind right now, but I can try to imagine how difficult it would be to lose all the bathing facilities, washer and dryers, and all the clothes in the community in the winter time.

Some people have started donating clothes, and Twin Oaks will soon be sending clothes to East Wind.

Here's a story of the fire, written by Jude, who currently lives at East Wind. She also took all these photos.

"at 2:30am on december 16th (pod's birthday), pod and i were in bed watching a movie when we began to hear distant cries for help. i instantly thought of yellow sun, who has been incapacitated with two broken ankles and a fractured back, and we both ran towards the showerhouse as fast as we could. i assumed that yellow sun had fallen, but as we ran up the hill, the screams changed from, "help! help!" to "fire! fire!" as soon as i made it to the showerhouse, i tried to enter through the back door that i'd walked through a million times before. i understood the seriousness of the situation when i opened the door and was met with such a thick cloud of smoke that i could not possibly enter the building. after this terrible realization, i ran to yellow sun's window and tore off the screen. though his room was already filled with smoke, he was still fully alert and ready to get the fuck out of there. 

meanwhile, bert had seen the fire and called the police. while he was on the phone, the police notified him that there was a man on the other line who was trapped in the same burning building he had called the report. he ran to the showerhouse and met us at yellow sun's window just in time. pod jumped through the window and helped yellow sun out of bed and then passed him through the window to bert and i, and we then lowered him to the ground. pod then ran off to attempt to put out the fire, and bert gave me a boost through the window back into yellow sun's room. in just a minute, i managed to pass his wheelchair and some important personal possessions of his out the window to bert and then get out of the smoke-filled room myself. 

we then wheeled yellow sun to safety and i took a moment to calm down and feel the relief of yellow sun being out of that burning building. i then immediately ran back to my house and grabbed my camera and returned to the scene of the fire. the first of these pictures were taken less than fifteen minutes after yellow sun escaped from the building. within less than twenty minutes, his room become engulfed in flames entirely. much of the community was woken up and alerted and the fire department arrived soon, but mostly all we could do was watch as the showerhouse burned to the ground." 

the shower house, photo taken last month

the dryers and washers, last month

shower house during the fire

the washers and dryers after the fire

Friday, December 16, 2011

5 months

I have been at Twin Oaks for five months now. The days have turned colder, and quieter since we don't have a visitor group in December, and there are less guests this time of year.

We all bundle up, build up the wood stoves, and eat our meals inside, except on the rare, slightly warm days that we still have.

We eat lots of greens; kale, spinach, lettuce, and many other Asian greens we grow in the greenhouse. We're also eating lots of potatoes and sweet potatoes, and the turnips and radishes are coming in. I spend one day a week now working in the greenhouse, and harvesting greens and leeks from outside.

My full member vote is coming up in a month, which involves writing my six month letter about my experience here so far.

I'm excited about living at Twin Oaks, and I am learning so much. Sometimes I wonder if Twin Oaks is too comfortable for me, and perhaps a more primitive, off the grid community will be in my future, but I don't think I am ready for that yet, and want to continue gaining lots of skills involving sustainability and simplicity. I also feel like I can continue to strive toward a lifestyle that fits with my ideals while still living here.

Plants seem to be my passion, whether they are wild, cultivated, or medicinal. I just joined the full garden crew, which means I made a full time commitment to the garden. I have also made a part time commitment to the Seed Growing business. I am excited to work in both gardens, and it has been incredibly interesting to me to learn how the techniques of growing plants for seed is so different than growing plants for food. I continue to learn about wild and medicinal plants in my free time, drawing them, and studying them.

I have been working in Unicorn School, and doing primaries with a few children. Unicorn school is the daily homeschooling and childcare program that happens here. It's new for me to work with kids in this structured setting, but I really like it, and I am learning a lot about relating with children. I also enjoy doing the unstructured primaries, which involve just hanging out with a kid for a couple hours, and doing pretty much whatever. I am excited to continue getting to know the kids at Twin Oaks.

I have been doing some work with LEF (Living Energy Farm) a nearby off the grid community that is forming, and have enjoyed that too. I haven't been as active with LEF as I wanted to be. I get so caught up in my work here sometimes.

I also cook dinner with Bridget once a week, sew in the pillow shop and the fabric studio, and do community laundry.

I plan on working in the Alt Orchard, pruning fruit trees this winter. I pruned apple trees last winter at East Wind, and I want to keep learning about pruning.

I love working. It keeps me feeling balanced and fulfilled. I have been making sure not to overwork myself though, which means setting aside a night once a week for myself, and doing yoga and jogging, hooping, and taking walks throughout the week.

I attend parties every now and then, but I definitely have a limit on my social energy. Sometimes I feel shy and introverted, so I take alone time, but sometimes I just want to socialize. I have made a few close friends, and quite a few friends and acquaintances. I entered into a new romantic relationship with good intentions, but it turned out to be much messier than I had expected. However, I have learned a lot about myself and my relationships from the experience. It's so interesting how different relationships are when you live with all the people you're close with.

The monthly allowance has been about $80, and I haven't overspent. I have spent it on health related things, actually, which will be covered by the insurance at my six months.

One more month until my full member vote. The future is unknown. The weeks seem to pass quickly...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


So much has happened. Twin Oaks has become my home. Home. But maybe this feeling is temporary? I'm not sure. A couple weeks ago I was feeling unsure about wanting to be here, but now I am starting to settle in. Yes, there was an earthquake, and most of the scariness has passed for now. I am almost over it.

I have been taking joy in little things. Mostly plants, and animals, and watching the sun rise and set. Castor oil beans are beautiful, and watermelon and squash are delicious. Taking care of chickens has been very fulfilling.

I woke up before the sun was up yesterday, and I watched the sky change from blue and pink rivets to completely pink in five minutes. I looked away for a minute and the sky changed.

Things change so quickly. I will feel overcome with sadness at one moment, and then completely happy and content at some other moment. Some of it has to do with my changing relationship with Shua (Joshua is now Shua) lately, but I notice that I can see my perception and emotions changing, if if ever so slightly, from moment to moment.

Speaking to others has been difficult for me lately. Sometimes I hate speaking. I fear expectation in the other person for me to create a connection through words with them. I fear saying something weird, that doesn't make sense, and I see myself doing that a lot, and for some reason it bothers me. I am trying to be more okay with how I communicate.

I have been working about 45 hours and week, mostly agricultural, and it's been taking a toll on my back. But I love the work, and I love working outside. I tried to receive a massage from someone yesterday, me sitting cross legged, and it was hard for me to enjoy it because my back started aching.

I joined a transparency group. For the past month or so, once a week, I meet with a group of people, and we focus on opening up to each other, connecting, being transparent. We start with check-ins, and we ask each other questions, and listen to each other's pain and joy. Last night someone asked me a question that brought up a lot of pain in me, and I cried for the first time during the group. I received many hugs afterward, and felt connected and supported by everyone. I feel really, really appreciative of this group, and all these people, who I barely knew at all, and now I feel so much closer to.

The group helps me see other people outside of the group in a different light. I can see that everyone is so human. Everyone wants to be loved. Everyone feels sad sometimes, or insecure, or overwhelmed.

I'm not sure how to end this, but I feel like I have come to a stopping point in how much I wanted to write.

I'm off to eat breakfast, and start my day. Thanks for reading.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Twin Oaks

I'm in my third week at Twin Oaks. I have been working a lot here, and haven't had much time to write. The work quota is 42 here. It was 35 at East Wind. I am realizing how much time I spent relaxing at East Wind, and here I have to schedule time for myself.

I haven't had much time to socialize other than during work, but working with other people seems to be a good way to get to know them. I went to a couple parties, but didn't feel very fulfilled by them. I seem to end up sitting with a large group of people listening to them talk to each other. I tend to be quiet in large groups, because I feel like if I'm not quiet then I am competing for attention. I think I will spend less time at parties, and more time socializing with one or two people at a time.

I am still adjusting to the scheduled work, but I am getting better at it. Sometimes I get anxiety about being late to a shift, or feel too tired to work, but know that I have already made the obligation. I have been getting through it though, and I have been communicating to others about my tendency to have low energy. I didn't notice it much at East Wind, because if I was tired, then I would just rest, but I can't always do that here. Because of that, I have been thinking lately about what the causes of my low energy might be.( I get plenty of sleep.) Anyway, I have been looking into it.

Most of my work has been gardening, and seeds. I continue to learn more and more about gardening, and I am excited to learn about saving seeds. I learned the whole process for tomatoes today. I have also been teaching myself and harvesting wild herbs. I am getting into the herb garden slowly. I plan to start my own little herb bed.

I am working on adjusting, making friends, learning, and taking care of myself. I know that in time, it will all be well, and this will feel like home soon. I really miss my friends at East Wind, but I am glad I am here right now.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

moving on

Joshua and I left East Wind yesterday. We had been planning to go back to Twin Oaks for while. East Wind felt, and still feels like home. There is a big part of me that knows that if I stayed I would be wanting to know what other communities were like, and wondering if there is someplace out there that fits me better. I think that I became a stronger and more assertive person at East Wind, but my sensitivities were not as recognized and respected as they have been at other places.

Sometimes I find myself yearning for a home that doesn't seem to exist. I hope someday I can make my home wherever I am.

We are at Joshua's parents' house for a couple days, and then we will be taking a bus to Twin Oaks. Our friend Noah, who was visiting East Wind, came along with us, and the three of us have been laying down wood chips on the trail in their woods all morning. I'm tired! I made cheesy mushroom and kale sandwiches for Joshua and I, and now I feel like taking a nap...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Feral Dogs

There have been three sightings this week of a pack of feral dogs on the East Wind land, and they keep getting closer to the community.

The first time, someone was going for a walk, and the dogs barked, growled, and chased him.

The second time was a similar experience for a different person.

Last night, another person was walking to the goat barn to do goat chores, and there was a large, feral dog sitting outside the goat fence, growling. She ran up into the community and got more people to come down to shoot the dog(s), but the dogs were nowhere to be found.

It has been decided upon by the community that the dogs will be shot. It is sad, but the dogs are vicious, and a big threat to the livestock and small children.

I have been pretty scared myself, actually. I have been "house sitting" in a personal shelter for a couple who are currently off the farm. The personal shelter is right down the road from the goat barn, in the woods. Last night when I was walking to bed, winding up my flashlight, I kept looking around, and listening for any noises. I was freaking out a little bit, because I don't know if I could defend myself from a pack of feral dogs!

Of course, I survived. I think, maybe, I was overreacting a little.

It has been interesting to see what happens when so many people dump off their unwanted pets in the woods. They become undomesticated, and if there are enough of them, then they group together and become very vicious.

This is not true for all breeds of dogs. Though, I am curious why some dogs become this way and others don't. I think many domesticated animals would starve, or get eaten by predators, in the wild.

Friday, June 17, 2011


I got my tooth pulled yesterday. I have been trying not to take very many of the pain pills I was prescribed, because I don't prefer taking pills, but it has been really painful, so I have been taking a few here and there.

I have been resting a lot, and Joshua has been taking good care of me. He made me warm soup and really soft broccoli, covered my work, and came to check on me this morning when I slept longer than usual. I am really grateful that I have someone to take care of me.

Joshua and I, last winter.

I think it is really awesome that the labor system here is sometimes built around caring for yourself and one another. If you take care of someone when they are sick, you can take labor credit for it. If you are sick, you get labor credit for the time you take to get better.

You can't receive labor credit for other kinds of caring, though people still care for each other in many ways, regardless of whether they get labor credit for it. For example; hugs, listening when someone is sad or upset, and telling others that you appreciate them.

I don't think it is any big surprise that I get depressed and anxious, like almost everyone here does, sometimes. When you live with lots of people, you get to experience all their moods, but you don't always have the time or energy to listen to someone. A big lesson that I have learned here is that taking care of myself is a big priority. I try to remember to make time for myself to do yoga, meditate, draw, take a bath, write, go on a walk, et cetera. If I don't take care of myself, then it is difficult for me to care for others.

Having a partner means that sometimes I forget to take care of myself, and depend on him to care of me, but we both remind each other that too much dependency isn't healthy.

What I have observed since I have been here is that caring for one's self, and then for each other is what keeps the community running.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

wild herb harvests

I went for a walk in the woods with a friend the other day to harvest self heal, also known as prunella. We found it along paths and creeks.


It's a common wild plant in the Ozarks. It can be used medicinally to treat fevers,  diarrhea, sore throat, internal bleeding, and weakness of the liver or heart. From what I have read, it also seems to be antibacterial. It can be cooked with, too.

When we come upon a group of plants, we only harvest a few from each group, so the plants can reseed. We cut below the leaves, so we can make use of the leaves and the flowers, but we don't pull the plant up by the roots.

 Sage, cutting the self heal.

After we harvested it, we dried it, and it will be used for tea. 

I have been slowly learning about medicinal plants, wild and cultivated. There are quite a few other wild plants I have learned about that are growing around here, but I wanted to highlight prunella because I just learned about it. It doesn't seem to grow in the area of Missouri where I am from (Kansas City). I find it interesting that it grows around here though.

The path that we took through the woods was a path I had never been on before. The amount of land to explore here is enormous. I am planning on taking a solitary trip into the woods this weekend, and get some quiet alone time. I think I will bring a plant identification book with me and hopefully learn some more.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Garden Kim Chi

We started the first batch of kim chi of the year today. I am really excited to say that everything we put in it came from the garden!

For those of you who don't know what kim chi is; it is pretty much fermented vegetables. It is usually somewhat spicy, and traditionally made with fish sauce. However, we didn't use fish sauce.

We also made a batch of sauerkraut.

I got the recipe from a really great book called Wild Fermentation. My sister bought it for me after I checked it out from the library and kept talking about it. It is a really great resource for people new at making fermented foods.

Fermented foods are full of microorganisms that make our immune systems stronger. I try to remember to eat fermented foods on a regular basis.

Kim chi is not only good for you, but it also a good way to preserve vegetables when you have an abundance.

Here's what we made today:

Two jars of root vegetables with beets, carrots, turnips, garlic, and hot peppers.
One jar of cabbage and root vegetables, and one sauerkraut, all with hot peppers!

They should be ready to eat in about a week. Yum!

Friday, June 3, 2011


I took pictures of some beautiful flowers in the herb garden the other day, and thought I would share with those who might appreciate the little things that brighten up the garden, and my day.


The weather seems to keep getting warmer and warmer. The temperature reached 98 degrees today. Starting last week a bunch of people left for vacation, and people have been continuing to leave.

It's that time of year when it gets really hot, lots of people go on vacation, and there is a lot of uncovered work. I'm feeling a little spread thin right now. I have been trying to cover as much work as I have the energy to, but it never seems like enough. I know that everyone else here is trying too.

On June 24th, about 12 more people will be leaving to go to the Rainbow Gathering. I will be staying here. I was trying to decide if I wanted to go. I was conflicted because I wanted to stay to help out on the farm, but Rainbow sounded really fun. Well, the decision was made for me when I found out that I have a really bad cavity, and my tooth has to be pulled. My dentist appointment is on June 30th, which means I will be missing the Rainbow Gathering.

Joshua and I plan to visit his family a couple times, so we will get off the farm a little bit, but I am worried that things might get a little intense here.

East Wind could really use some help in the garden, in the nutbutter factory, on ranch, in the kitchen, in laundry...pretty much everywhere. I am sending some good energy toward  helpful people wanting to live close to the land, and non violently with others.

I'll be here for a while, bearing the heat, and being thankful for the cool nights, the healthy food, the outdoor shower...


Monday, May 30, 2011

This whole post is about babies

There are lots of baby animals right now! Baby chicks, baby goats, baby calves, baby bunnies, baby kittens, baby puppies...

Me and Mishka, the new commie kitten.

Zan and her favorite goat kid.

The baby calf, Hock

This is one of my MANY favorite parts or spring. :)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

East Wind Delicacies

I have had some opportunities to eat and drink some unique things the past few days.

A few days ago, a woman was breast feeding her child. Someone else said something along the lines of, "I wonder what breast milk tastes like?" Then the mother said, "Wanna try it?" The other person said, "sure," so then she put some of her milk into a cup and passed it around for people to try.

I happened to be sitting nearby, and was offered some also. I was a little nervous about it, but then I figured, "Hey, why not? I drink other animals' milk, what's the difference if I drink human milk? Some people, actually, might view it as more natural, and when else would I have this opportunity?"

So, I drank it. I was surprisingly sweet, and I am glad I tried it.

I wasn't as daring for some other new food opportunities, though.  Last night, someone served cicadas wrapped in spinach and cheese in a egg roll. Tonight, a black snake, (whose death was punishment for eating baby chicks repeatedly) was served. I did not try either. I am little more uncomfortable eating animals than other foods, but other people ate it. Maybe I will have the opportunity again someday.



Monday, May 23, 2011


We had a tornado scare last night. About ten of us were sitting outside, around a fire, having a sharing circle. A sharing circle is an event where we all take turns talking about how we are doing, and everyone listens. It was quiet, dark, and the air was still.

Well, right in the middle of the circle someone ran up to us, reporting that we were in a tornado warning, and that people were about to start going into the root cellar. I started freaking out a little bit. Tornadoes really scare me.

I went toward the root cellar and stood outside until I noticed a change in the weather. It started to become windy and rain starting pouring. Then, myself and about ten other people crowded into the root cellar, listening to the radio, some of us making jokes about the end of the world, trying to keep it lighthearted. We had water, and canned fruits and vegetables, so I wasn't too worried. I felt pretty safe.

Eventually the tornado warning passed, and we went inside Rock Bottom for goat milk ice cream, bagels, and some guitar playing.

It was an interesting night. I feel lucky that the tornado didn't hit us, though it did hit Joplin, Missouri pretty badly.

Tornado Death Toll Hits 90 in Joplin, Missouri

I hope I can come out and help any way I can.

Update: Joplin had a blood drive today, and a bunch of East Winders came out to donate blood! I am so happy. I didn't donate blood because the last time I had my blood taken I almost passed out.
I made whole wheat cookies for East Winders to eat after donating, except they forgot to bring them! :( Luckily, there were snacks there to eat. I am not sure if they were as healthy, though. :)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

learning, growing

I have been working a lot these days, so I haven't had much time to update the blog. The garden is producing lots of greens, and the strawberries and mulberries and ripening. It's an exciting time, and I love being outside helping all the plants do their thing. Garden workers have been talking about how great the garden looks, and how well everything is growing, and how more people have been out there helping.

I have been making yogurt, and cheese, and tempeh, and helping cook meals. I picked up a couple ranch chore shifts, which involve feeding and watering all the animals. (cows, goats, pigs, chickens.) The broody chickens are laying and hatching baby chicks! I also picked up a laundry shift. I really like having a variety of work, and contributing to different parts of the community.

I have been learning so much! I have learned how to plant and take care of many vegetables and herbs. I have learned how to make compost, how to make yogurt, cheese, and tempeh. I have learned how to cook and bake many things. I have learned how to be respectful of others' space, because we are all sharing so much space. How to be more emotionally open, and feel comfortable being myself, how I am all the time, and accepting people how they are all the time. I live with 67 other people right now, and every person feels like family now. It's amazing. I could never have imagined feeling like SO many people are my family, but I do.

I have been trying to be supportive of a few others lately. There have been some difficult times. There have been some relationship changes involving friends, and hurt feelings from a lot of people involving a new, disruptive member whose membership will be voted on soon. And then an abandoned baby rabbit was found and taken in. Then I accidentally stepped on it, and now it is paralyzed in the back legs. Myself and the owner of the rabbit have been upset, and sad. There's been discussion about putting it down.

I am not always sure what to do or say when others are hurting. I can feel pretty awkward sometimes, but, like I said, I am learning. I am trying to view my experiences as learning opportunities.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Some goings on

The raining has slowed down quite a bit. It rained so much that the dam overflowed causing East Wind to have a new lake where a field used to be! We have been canoeing in it. I am worried about all the trees that got flooded out though, and wonder if they will survive.

It even rained all through May Day, so we didn't have a May Pole, but someone made a beautiful cake with a May Pole on it!

During one of the rainy days, a few of us played a murder mystery game. We went into the community clothes closet and picked outfits to fit our characters. We all looked pretty silly, but it was pretty fun.

My character, Vicky, liked to spend her husband's money on clothes and tabloid magazines.

Joshua's character, Enrique, was a promiscuous  farmhand.

Yeah, the characters were pretty ridiculous, but that's why it was so fun.

Finally the sun shone, and I moved my work back into the garden. Some of the seedlings in the ground got washed away in the rain, but mostly everything survived.. The brassicas are getting big. It won't be too long before we harvest some.

We also are in a frenzy of putting seeds in the ground, transplanting from the greenhouse, thinning new seedlings, and weeding. It's getting pretty busy here! The garden manager told me that May is the busiest month in the garden.

Well, I better get back to thinning carrots. See ya later.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Rainy Days

It has been raining for what feels like forever here! The rain has been a big conversation topic. Come on, we live in the woods, what else are we going to talk about besides weather?

Joshua and I went to visit my family for a few days, and had a really great time. On my way back, it was pouring rain, and lots of the roads were flooded. I was driving down 125 HWY and suddenly we saw a creek flooding over the road. It was too deep for us to cross, so we had to reverse the car and turn around. We didn't know how to get back to East Wind any other way, so we stopped at a gas station, and one of the employees directed us home.

We made it home safely, thanks to the kindness of strangers, and slow driving.

I guess it is rainy season.

I really like cooking and baking when it is rainy outside. It seems like a lot of people do. A friend and I got really excited about cream puffs, and told some people we were going to make an experiment batch one rainy/cloudy day. It was just me and her, cooking quietly in RB (Rock Bottom.) It seemed unusually quiet. We guessed that people were hiding out from the weather.
Just about the time the cream puffs were finished, a group of our friends came in RB, asking "cream puffs? cream puffs?"

They were so freaking good.

Zan trying a cream puff. 

I finally had my cream puff fix!

East Wind Activities

There is a wide variety of interests here at East Wind. When we're not working, we like to make time for fun activities. We like to have bonfires, drum circles, dance parties, hiking and canoe trips, sweat lodges, music jams, and pool playing. Those are some that just came off the top of my head, but I am sure there is more.

If you have an activity you want to share with East Winders, just set up a time and event, post a note about it on the day board, and if it's not totally off the wall, then people will probably come.

Joshua is really into contact improvisation, and he facilitated it a few weeks ago.

Contact improv is a dance based on points of physical contact.

We started with some exercises, then went into a "jam" session, which involves actual contact improvisational dancing. I don't have any pictures of that, because I was involved in it. However, it was fun!

Afterward, we did some random things, like free form dance, and practicing handstands.

This weekend, there will be a group meditation, and a May day celebration!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

joy and sorrow

Sometimes it seems like negative energy can eat up our community. I will be sitting on the porch of Rock Bottom and people will be complaining or yelling about something multiple times a day. The past couple days have been like that, and I am surprised that this time I haven't absorbed much of it, though I have seen friends absorbing it.

Sometimes I will feel overwhelmed and in need of some quiet alone time, so I will go to my room and meditate, read, or mend clothes, and that helps a lot. Then I can come back to the community and see things from a different perspective. I can see that people are expressing the pain that I was perceiving as negative energy. I saw it this way because it affects me, and it hurts.

I can see that these painful expressions come and go here at East Wind, and joy is also a common expression, along with sorrow.

At the end of the day yesterday, a few of us were sitting on the couch, and we were talking about how the past couple of days had been rough. There was no tangible reason for it. There just seems to be a flow of energies that comes in waves, and I have come to appreciate the realness of it.

I appreciate that people express here, even if they aren't using non-violent communication. Sometimes we yell at each other, but sometimes we hug and cuddle, and speak of how much we appreciate each other and the beautiful land, and the sharing and connection we have.

Although a few people expressed being upset yesterday, I think it was a good day for me, overall.

I made a batch of yogurt that came out very creamy. I think I am getting better at making yogurt.
I worked in the garden for a few hours while chatting with friends.
I thinned beets and thought about how I was sacrificing one beet's life so that the other could grow bigger.
I covered someone's dishes shift.
I picked ticks off me.
I read and socialized.
In the evening I worked on cream puffs with a friend for the upcoming holiday.
Today I will be making hummus for the holiday too. There are going to be tons of snacks.

We have a holiday every month, which is a great reason for celebration and joy.

I wonder if I am getting better at accepting myself and others how they are.

Lovin' you, East Wind.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Shitake Mushroom Logs!

We started another batch of mushroom logs today.

It all starts with inoculated sawdust.

Then you drill holes in the logs. The holes were drilled every three inches, all around the logs; about 1/2 an inch deep.

After that, you fill the holes with the inoculated sawdust.

And cover the holes with a wax.

Set the logs up in a shaded area and then you will have tons of mushrooms in about one year! It's worth the wait.
Here are some mushrooms from the logs that were inoculated this time last year.

These mushrooms are a little dry because they aren't getting enough shade. It got warm very early this year before the trees had created foliage.

See ya later!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

East Wind Community

Joshua and I returned back to East Wind Community after leaving Acorn. We are provisional members at East Wind.
Honestly, I didn't want to come back here. I believe that when I did my visitor period at East Wind, August 2010, the community was experiencing a down time. The temperature was in the 90's and 100's every day, and the humidity was unbearable for many people, causing grouchiness. Many people were on vacation, resulting in many chores being neglected; such as cooking meals or changing out the composting toilet buckets.
Though, life is really good here right now. I have been here for three months now.

Every day is a challenge in a different way. For example, because 67 people share everything, things go missing a lot. Everyone's mind works differently.

I use a thermometer weekly to make yogurt for the community, and today I couldn't find the thermometer. When someone finally found it I talked to the kitchen manager about the issue of things going missing, and he told me that I could just keep the thermometer specifically for making yogurt, and keep it hidden. I hadn't considered doing this before because it is a community thermometer, but I figured, what the hell. If I don't hide it, then it will go missing again and I won't be able to make yogurt for all the people who love to eat it.

I was later confronted by another communitarian asking if I had the thermometer. She needed it for taking the temperature of the goats' milk. It is very important that the job gets done, and she was stressing about it. I had no idea the thermometer was used for that. In the end, we agreed to keep the thermometer in a specific place so that we could both find it and use it when we needed it.

Things go missing.
There are a lot of people living here.
It is difficult to know the details of what other people are working on, or going through in their personal lives.
But then we connect, and communicate.
And that's community.

December 12, 2010

I am currently at Acorn community.

I am on my last week of the three week visit. I came here right after my visitor period at Twin Oaks. I found out last week that I was accepted for membership at Twin Oaks.

It was a stressful three weeks there. I really wanted to live there, and was worried I wouldn't get accepted, plus I was dealing with, my partner, Joshua's new romantic relationship, which was hard for me.

Joshua and I were the only visitors who got accepted to Twin Oaks out of the five people who applied. I was really surprised.

I told my life story at Acorn last week. It was less painful than when I told it at Twin Oaks.

I am currently doing "clearnesses" at Acorn. I talk one on one with each member and ask how co* feels about living with me. Does this person have any concerns? And vice versa. I had two clearnesses so far and they went well. I am very interested in knowing how people feel about me living here, and getting the opportunity to talk to people about any concerns I might have about living with them. I love the open and honest face to face communication. It can be scary, but I think it is great for resolution.

I am sad about leaving so soon because there are some people here I really like, and want to develop more connection with.

Some things I noticed that might be difficult for me living here:

High amount of computer usage
Few substance-free group activities.
It is sometimes difficult to see what needs to be done, besides cleaning and cooking. There is not always seed packing available.
Little group work.
Almost zero scheduled work.
No large indoor space for dance and yoga, like the Bijou at Twin Oaks.

Some things that would work well for me living here:

More freedom to cook whatever I want.
More freedom to work on whatever I want.
Face to face communication.
Two meetings a week.
The Seed Company is a business I strongly support.
I really enjoy working with the seeds.
There is a puppy and a dog and cats who are cuddly, loveable, and fun to play with.

I love pulling carrots, and working in the garden.
I really like cooking.
The Living Energy Farm project has been fun.

I have been practicing daily meditation and yoga. It has decreased my anxiety somewhat, and I am often more aware of when I am having repetitive, worrisome, and negative self talk-type thoughts. It has been easier to let go of these thoughts.

I am excited about a new relationship. It just recently turned into a long distance relationship. It has definitely not been as fun since it became long distance.

I recently have had feelings of loneliness and insecurity when Joshua spends time with his new partner. I think I am coping well right now. He has zero issues with my other relationship, which is great!

I am excited to go home for Christmas! And see Joshua's family too! And then back to East Wind community, and then I will return to Virginia for my new life and home either at Twin Oaks or Acorn.

I am not going to make a decision on where I want to live until I find out if I get accepted for membership at Acorn. I want to visit Little Flower when I come back, the Catholic Worker farm in Virginia.


*co -gender neutral pronoun used commonly in FEC communities.