Dancing Rabbit has begun to blossom again, with petals unfurling into dance parties, potlucks, movie nights, and… drum roll please… visitors! We did it. Whew! It’s been a wild ride to get to this point, but finally we have arrived; and I even learned a thing or two about persistence and the importance of inner sustainability along the way.
It’s Prairie again, collecting bits and bobs of the last two weeks at Dancing Rabbit.
After a year of closed doors, it has been quite an adjustment for me to encounter names and faces that I do not immediately recognize. But my bumbling confusion has quickly turned into delight as I get to know the visitors. Noting the looks of wonder and inspiration on new faces reminds me why I live here. Sometimes it takes a fresh perspective to point out the beauty in this extraordinary place I call home. I am grateful for that perspective; I easily find myself lost in the challenges of living in community.
In the nearly four years that I have lived at Dancing Rabbit, I have picked up a few tools and practices for laying a foundation of inner sustainability, which (surprise, surprise) is vital for living with other human beings; especially when we share common spaces, not to mention our agreements and covenants. In an effort to touch on the complexity of living in community, we offer a workshop on inner sustainability in our visitor programs. Danielle defines inner sustainability as “the cultivation of emotional resiliency, intimacy (into-me-see), well-being, and presence within oneself, so as to be more vital and available for connection, contribution, and emergence.”
She and I have worked together on myriad projects, but this was the first time we endeavored to lead the Inner Sustainability workshop. Yes, I was nervous—she was less so. But I think we nailed it. Reflecting on my experience co-leading that workshop, I find it ironic that I initially felt emotionally under-resourced to hold my nervousness and present the topic in a cohesive, understandable manner. Talk about growth.
It takes a tremendous amount of group and individual resources to pull off a visitor session. I’m excited to cook for our visitors, lead workshops on our humanure system, and our membership and residency processes, not to mention putting them to work in my garden.
By now, you all know that I am a huge fan of Brene Brown. Her words have aided tremendously in my perspective around growth and failure over the last year. She says, “When we give up being new and awkward, we stop growing, and when we stop growing, we stop living.”
Life is one gigantic growth opportunity. I was conditioned to think that adults knew everything, and once I turned eighteen, life would magically fall into place. I didn’t realize that no matter how old I was, I would need a measure of courage and perseverance, and most importantly, a community to lean on from time to time. Paradoxically, aspects of my life at Dancing Rabbit require the most grit. Here are a few:
- Navigating tension with my co-workers.
- Holding space for the diversity of opinions during meetings.
- My impulsive desire to over-commit to events that fulfill our outreach goals (that may or may not include writing this article).
- Consciously communicating about conflict with my neighbors.
- The garden.
I know I am not the only one who struggles with these things. And I am learning that there is an abundance of space in this universe for our feelings to spread their wings and run their laps. The crucial thing to note is that we are more than our worry, sadness, confusion, anger, disgust, curiosity, or joy, and we are well-equipped to handle our own complexity without shutting out the parts of ourselves that feel a spectrum of emotions. And when we remember that there is space to feel whatever it is we are feeling, we create a safe place for ourselves and others to rest into; our attention becomes the map to our integration and fulfillment.
Time after time I see that conflict is necessary for connection. I define conflict as the absence of awareness of the complexity of the human experience combined with a lack of emotional resources while navigating connection. If we do not lay the groundwork for inner sustainability, we can fall prey to our unconscious patterns, beliefs, and biases.
It is pivotal that we embrace, learn, and grow from the challenges we face. And I must say, living in community is an excellent way to work those perseverance muscles.
I hope to impart on you and our visitors the importance of reflection and how it impacts our connections. We at Dancing Rabbit are not super-human in our self-awareness, but we do agree to resolve conflict peaceably, and that begins with inner sustainability.
I still fear that I planted the tomato seedlings too late, that the bunnies are going to eat the peas, and that after the last week of rainstorms, there will be a month of drought. Inner sustainability does not give us the power to bypass adversity. It does, however, prime the pump for making powerful meaning out of the hurdles and curveballs this world throws at us.
In a world that is increasingly polarized in belief systems and opinions, this work is incredibly necessary and difficult. Learning how to recognize when we have reached our limit for vulnerability, when we no longer have attention for others (or ourselves), when we need support, and when we can give our attention to others (and ourselves) are huge growth edges for our culture.
Blessings to you along your journey. May you cultivate the courage to live your best life and find the space in yourself to hold the complexity of your experience and that of others.