So then what is my dream?

To be surrounded by green and sunlight.
To create spaces to be filled with the many kinds of love we create and share.
To be peaceful.
To grow health and food.  To share these with both loved ones and those in need.
To have time and inspiration to write the meaningful stories that live in my heart.
To co-create beautiful and useful places.
To care for animals as part of a healthy ecosystem and family.
To connect deeply with the land.  To notice and cherish the turn of its seasons.
To be filled with joy and curiosity.
To co-create a community of sustainable interdependence and respect.
To help foster the dreams of others.
To live without the plague of guilt.

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So simple, and yet so grand.  The farming season has begun, so as I become immersed in details of planting plans and watering schedules, I hope to continue coming back to this, my dream, the true future I crave in my soul and am committed to fostering.

What is your dream?

Right now I’m listening to: Iron & Wine

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My 10 Favorite Happenings of 2013

My lovely college friend Brit posted a list of her favorite moments of 2013 today on Facebook, something I feel is a lovely prequel to posting my 2014 Practices to Enact (which are, without a doubt, far too vague, very emotion-based, and lightly pretentious).  So many of my friends have been posting ‘good riddance’ sorts of things in regards to 2013, and while I too am happy to leave this year behind, I have learned SO VERY MUCH about myself, and truly look forward to this next year.  The solstice and my birthday might feel more momentous, but a new calendar year is as much reason for reflection as any.

10. Transitioning into a role as the Transportation and Sustainability Coordinator for two great neighborhoods in St. Paul.

9. Fantastic volunteering with books at the Hosmer library and Boneshaker Books.

8. My first Pride festival!

7. Discovering tarot.

6. San Francisco/Yosemite with Sarah in early February.

5. Three tattoos in one year (thanks Adam at 4 Points for two of them).

4. Finding ample, wonderful queer culture in Minneapolis, and feeling remarkably at home in it.

3. The growing zeitgeist around intentional community in the Twin Cities.

2. My community house becoming The Moon Box (<3 to Haven, Katie, Laura, and Natalia, my lovely housemates).

1. Biking solo down nearly 1,000 miles of the Mississippi River.

2013, you happened.  You were incredibly challenging, and contained many tears, but even more love and growth and laughs and hope, all things considered.  Stay tuned for 2014 Practices to Enact, friends!

November is ladies month.

In my post-bike tour pre-re-entry into my routine work/volunteer/house/a million responsibilities life I wrote about the NEW LAUREN that was going to live my life into the future.  Well in general I think I’ve done pretty well with progress on said focuses, somewhat unintentionally as pertains to feminist culture.  Basically, my life is full of ladies.

My community house (now named The Moon Box) is now entirely composed of women.

Today biking into work I was passed by two other bicyclists on my route.  Both of them were women.  Ladies, we are taking the cycling world by storm!  Don’t stop now!  Winter isn’t that bad, I promise!

Aaaaaaand…I’m going on a date tonight.  Which is exciting and horrible, because I’m always a tiny bit worried it will go like this:

 

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Hyperbole and a Half has answers for everything.

But change!  Is!  Good!  And the worst that can happen will at least make a good story, right?

I am my own Breakfast Club.

The Rebel.  The Jock.  The Recluse.  The Beauty.  The Geek.

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I am not necessarily these precise beings.  Rebel, yes, by default really, considering I am a volatile creature of passion.  Jock not so much; I’ll have to get over my completely illogical fear of the lifting machines at the YWCA first.  Recluse from time to time.  Beauty, meh.  Geek, absolutely.  I want to be a graphic novel character for Halloween.  Seriously.

My breakfast club is more specific, more particular, and its denizens were determined until recent days to exclude each other out of seeming necessity.  But no more.

We have the Intellectual, a studious and introverted creature who is insatiably curious.  It is she who is leading my research project on intentional community as well as my return to volunteering at the library.  For a long time the Intellectual disdained the Lush, an ostentatious partier, dancer, and pursuer of substances and good times of all sorts.  While still not anything resembling friends, the Intellectual and the Lush are willing to be in the same room at long last, eying each other warily across the way over a book and a drink respectively.

Then there’s the Homesteader, a nesting type who is happiest when quilting, cooking with local veggies, or making homemade bug repellant from vodka and essential oils.  She desires rootedness and connection, a place that is shared and beloved.  The Explorer craves connection too, but of a different sort, the variety that is much more transitory and serendipitous.  A campsite river view at sunrise.  Friends of friends of friends in a city at midnight.  The Explorer and the Homesteader have learned how to share the baton, however, and that meaning is built both in spontaneity and in months and years of hard work.

Finally, both above and within and inside the other four breakfasters, there’s the Dreamer and the Skeptic.  As you’d imagine, they’re still at odds much of the time.  The Dreamer sees possibility and opportunity everywhere she turns, while the Skeptic is quite convinced that it’s all to no avail, in the end.  The Dreamer wants nothing more than to create, because what else can she do when the world is so beautiful.  The Skeptic scoffs, because it is almost certain that anything the Dreamer creates will be forgotten.  But they are beginning to coexist.

The Intellectual.  The Lush.  The Homesteader.  The Explorer.  The Dreamer.  The Skeptic.  A motley crew, to be sure.  Yet they’re finally discovering how to learn from each other.

How to live.

Sometimes it feels like we’re prophets, sharing the gospel of sustainable community living (though of course we’re constantly reinventing what that means and how we do it together).  This is most certainly a bit grandiose, and I am aware that I can occasionally fall prey to delusions of grandeur.  But when my housemate says “I want my car to be a community car” and “sure I’ll try the Diva Cup“,  I feel deeply in my bones we must be doing something worthwhile.  This grand experiment of life is not for naught.

I love these people. Not all housemates, but we pretty much always have other people over so it’s an accurate photo nonetheless.

My mind’s cracked open and the questions keep coming: The Communities Conference .

I spent all of Labor Day weekend at the Communities Conference at the Twin Oaks Community in Virginia.  I met new friends, with whom I discussed everything from relationships to the many alternative energy systems to consensus to family structures.  I danced and drank wine and then woke up the next morning to attend a workshop on income sharing.  I laughed deeply, learned about communities existing and yet to be, and cried during the transparency circle ‘If you really knew me’ exercise.  I left with a newfound energy and an even deeper yet more realistic commitment to community.  This weekend was a culmination of sorts of my journey from a lone progressive 16 year old overjoyed at discovering the Intentional Communities website to Lutheran Volunteer Corps to trying to create my present urban community house.  It was a magical, exhilarating few days.

And then I came home.  Home to a busy city, to interstate traffic, to chores undone and a possibly dying tree in the backyard (on top of the aspen that already died in the front, mind you).  And I found myself immediately tense, aggravated, frustrated, and then I wanted to cry.  Because arriving home after an inspiring weekend shouldn’t evoke such negative emotions, right?  I should be excited about what I experienced and motivated to live it out and continue building new relationships and furthering old ones.  But instead I’m tense, caught up in the diametric opposition between the deep intentionality and joy I felt from so many wonderful people at the Communities Conference and the distance and yet unbuilt connection of my current life.

There’s a lot to ponder, and I’m glad I have the relatively concrete point of Ben and my Mississippi River Bike tour in the not too distant future to plan around.  Because if I didn’t have a planned transition point, it wouldn’t be hard for me to imagine pulling a ‘leave it all behind and follow my joy’ as soon as possible.

In the coming months I hope to have support and conversations with those I love, and maybe even those I don’t yet know, about where my life is or should be going, what my vocation is, and how to truly balance happiness and world-changing.  I need space for discernment, and some deep consideration of my real priorities and heart longings (cue ‘Heartlines’ by Florence and the Machine).

Who knows, a year and a half from now you might find me writing from any number of places, rural intentional community, non-Western continent, or someplace else all together.

My Sacred Intention

Though I ravenously read Starhawk’s The Fifth Sacred Thing many months ago, it has taken me all this time to pick up any of her other books.  And the reason for doing so is silly, but deeply rooted: my upbringing has given me an illogical but very present aversion to anything Wiccan/Pagan.  Which is absurd because I find much more truth, both personal and universal, in the feminist spiritual system of energies and elements than in the sterile, separatist Judeo-Christian system of my heritage.

At long last I got Starhawk’s Earth Path: Grounding Your Spirit in the Rhythms of Nature from the library, and I am loving it.  It’s not the sort of book one necessarily needs to read front to back, but rather I am opening to sections spontaneously and appreciating the personal stories, universal insights, and practices that Starhawk shares.

This morning, while idly sipping my coffee and enjoying a breakfast of local eggs and a perfectly ripe nectarine in the long awaited cool breeze after last night’s storm, I was reading through the chapter entitled ‘The Sacred’.  Toward the end I arrived at an exercise to meditate and write on one’s sacred intention, and rather than read it and move on, I decided to take the time to ponder what my personal sacred intention might be.  It is far to easy to think ‘oh, I’ve already thought about those things’, but enormously beneficial when such habit energies are overcome in order to actually consider what and why I think what I do.  Following is my meditation- responses would be much appreciated, either on your own sacred intention or thoughts on mine.

Connectedness is sacred to me- as Tait said at the ED/CO retreat, it is the secular religion.  I believe in and want to support/create: connectedness of people to their own bodies and emotional experiences, people to each other and the larger human community, people to the vast multitudes of other beings, and people to the spirit, the sacred, the larger truth and beauty of the universe.

I want to take a stand for connectedness, feel the need to do so deep in my bones and spirit, but am often not sure how to do so because it is such a vague thing to explain while also being deeply personal and experiential to me.

A world where connectedness was cherished would be glorious and sustainable.  Leaders and politicians would feel truly accountable to those they speak on behalf of.  The disparity of wealth would essential disappear because individuals would recognize and know how to enact the fact that the health and wealth of one is dependent on the health and wealth of the community.  People would be intentional about their choices in everything from what they consume to what they choose as their vocation to how they educate themselves, and such intentionality wouldn’t be overwhelming, but rather seen as an opportunity to better understand the vast web we live in.

I desperately and wholeheartedly want to help bring this world into being, and I long for guidance as to how to do so.  My current work, both as community organizer and urban community house organizer, does not feel in conflict with creating a world where connectedness is sacred, but neither does it feel like the best use of my energies.

I feel blocked in doing this work by the enormity of the systems that are in opposition to a world that cherishes connectedness, by apathy of so many around me, and by my own pessimism/cynicism regarding the future of humanity.  I’m not entirely sure what will help me remove these blocks.  Courage would be good.  Educatedly optimistic mentors and friends would help too.  And a way to process and move beyond the despair that creeps in now and again.  From the universe, I need continued moments of reverence and awe.  I don’t mind crying, and in the moments I feel so much a part of everything I could burst my physical bounds and join the spirit stuff, I know in every cell that something and everything matters.