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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The clear blue air.

I’ve been feeling a little bit psycho lately.  Because here in Minneapolis it’s been below zero even before windchill for the last couple of days.  And I love it.  Maybe it’s the sun glowing off the styrofoam crunchy perfection snow (this is the only time I will positively refer to styrofoam, mind you).  Maybe it’s the dichotomy of cozy warm indoors with tea and Netflix and blankets and housemates with the frozen tundra urban outdoors, cars sliding left and right on the ice that even the harshest salt currently can’t melt.  However, I am certain that winter biking is a key aspect of my possibly psychotic love for this weather.

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One of my winter steeds, Pink Lemonade the Pugsley. Riding her is like an elephant on a trampoline in the snow.

I was honored to be the first winter cyclist highlighted by my friend Brian on his new BIKEFUN Tumblr page, and in a way it feels appropriate, because going into my fourth winter of riding, I’ve finally left behind the nerves and anxiety at the prospect of ice and loose new snow and complex layering of clothing.  I can just ride, the clear blue air freezing my nose hairs, pitying the angsty drivers while giggling to myself as I glide around another corner.

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.

Existential discontent and remembering love.

Over the past few weeks and months I have been deep in the throes of an unsettling, a questioning and questing, an existential discontent.  I frequently find myself frustrated or deeply saddened, a case of weltschmerz embedded in my brain.  Really and truly the work of building community, both in living and vocation, seems too small in comparison to the world’s need, a need created by the unsustainable systems our culture has created that are often thoroughly destructive to both the human and natural world.  Moreover, I’m not sure what I want to do or how I want to live instead, just that my core nugget of hope has been dislodged and something must change in order for it to be reestablished in the center of my being.

After hours of venting with housemates, not a few tears, and imagined letters and journal and blog entries, I finally came across a marvelous piece on The Beauty We Love called Death of Pretense.  The entire thing is worth reading, but this section struck me most of all:
She longed to live, to really live, to no longer suffocate under the weight of the false image. Only one who longed to live could experience such an overwhelming urge to die. She longed with every cell of her body to end the pretense and the falseness and half-lived dreams and to open up to life in all its rawness and beauty – not to die, not to die, but to live in a real way.

Upon reading this then and now, I cannot help but shudder with identification, for I too want to live, truly and deeply, and to shed the pretenses and expectations of not only my own life but society and culture as a whole.  To commit wholly to that which is beautiful and real, to hope, to love.

The day of initial discovery of this piece passed, but this past weekend was spent in the company of some of my very best friends, people I can happily and gratefully call my rocks, trusted and respected wonderful beings that challenge and support me.  Though I didn’t consciously realize it while in their presence, I love these people and many others, and they are what root me to my present path even while I flounder, unable to see the way forward or even where the edges of the journey lie.  It is so easy for love to become a caricature of itself, an empty term of endearment applied only to Disney weddings and long lost family members.  But real love, chosen love, is what is real, what is true, what is beautiful.  It creates and sustains hope.

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My deep world sadness is not yet resolved, and I’m not entirely sure it ever will or should be.  I can easily envision a long spiritual retreat in my not so distant future, as well as many long conversations with friends and family near and far.  But remembering love, and how present it is in my life and relationships, this I think will hold me and keep me until the light of meaning dawns again.

Words to Live By: Siddhārtha Gautama

“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”
Siddhārtha Gautama**

Truly loving one’s self is monumentally difficult so much of the time.  Though in my previous post I included connectedness to one’s self as something I want to create, it’s more something I want to personally pursue and support in others, because I fail in it so often myself.  Time and time again, however, I come across bits like Gautama’s above that remind me: I must love myself to be able to love the world.

**thanks to Parabola Magazine, as always, for their inspirational weekly enewsletter

Greedy for life.

I have been told that I am greedy for life.  The multitudes of ideas, activities, philosophies and opportunities astound me, engross me, and sometimes overwhelm me.

Example- in the empty squares on my homemade calendar I have the following list of possible activities:
5:30pm Mondays yoga at Common Ground
9:30am Fridays yoga at Common Ground
9am Wednesdays qigong at Common Ground
7-9am daily meditation at Common Ground
Birding Saturdays 1-2pm at Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden
Powderhorn 24 June 22-23
Paradise Garden work on Fridays/Saturdays?
Volunteer at Steeple People?
Pen Pals series subscription?

One can and should live life deeply, with involvement and interest, but one cannot do everything.  But how to decide what stays and what goes, how to release one’s energy that may be amplified by activity but certainly cannot be endless?

Yesterday at a friend’s Folkalong, a monthly gathering of food and drink and music, I discovered I very much enjoy playing the washboard.  During the next month I have five different people staying at my house, three of whom are Couchsurfers that I have never met before.  Next weekend I’m building a chicken coop, going to a free music venue block party, and likely the first day of a nearby farmers market.

you are beautiful

It is extravagant, loving so many things, glorious and extravagant.  But choosing, choosing between biking and gardening and birds and books and music and writing, choosing is arduous.

How do you decide where to put your energy and passion?