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...