Embracing Change: A Dancing Rabbit Update

Embracing Change: A Dancing Rabbit Update

Some folks embrace change, some avoid it at all costs. I’m somewhere in the middle. Liz here, with the latest from last week at Dancing Rabbit.

I’m fully in the flow this spring and summer cooking for the visitor sessions, two so far, and cooking breakfast for workshops at the Mercantile, six so far this year, and inn guests. I’m able to meet visitors, chat, and remember their faces and most of their names. By fall, Dancing Rabbit village will have hosted close to 300 people: housing them, feeding them, spending an hour or two showing them around the village, getting to know them beyond the surface level, and in different ways, passing along the message of personal and cultural growth and transformation.

A human-raised starling communes with Liz’s daughter, Talia. Photo by Andy S.

I have some personal changes to share. For me, being at Dancing Rabbit has provided a safe, kind place for me to be able to recognize areas of holding back, knowing and accepting myself more, and synchronizing my outer and inner experiences. Each step I take to synchronize these things leads to transformation. So in the interest of full commitment to transformation, I flew to California, rented a 16-foot moving van and loaded my belongings into it along with my daughter’s things and her boyfriend’s things and we migrated back to Dancing Rabbit, moving to synchronize our need for community with living in community.

There has been something about having all of my essential things around me—not being split between two places—that has made me feel more deeply rooted at DR. Grief and sadness wells up out of me along with joy and gratitude about this amazing life I say yes to and about leaving my former life behind me. I have my children nearby and friends all around me and my heart is beginning to heal from all the changes I’ve been through in the last several years.

I attended a Restorative Circle for the first time, along with ten other Rabbits. The idea of Restorative Circles is to give everyone involved in a conflict the chance to have their say with the hope that some resolution, understanding, or closure will emerge. I admire the patience, goodwill, and perseverance I observed on the part of the attendees and the facilitator. We practiced reflective listening, where someone repeats back what they have heard, aided by the group for pieces that felt important to note, until everyone had a chance to speak. The group then moved on to a plan for going forward including a follow-up circle several months from now to see how feelings have shifted.

The heat in recent weeks has been stultifying, stupefying, and oppressive. The humidity hasn’t reached its height, so I feel I can’t use as many superlatives to describe it. Whenever I leave the coolness of my straw bale house, I take shelter under my wide-brimmed hat. I wear sunglasses to protect my retinas from the glare and I take a page from people who live in harsher, warmer climates for what to wear, which seemed counterintuitive until I tried it, wearing light silky material that doesn’t cling and dries quickly, and covering up to conserve body moisture. Moving slowly is a priority. And yet, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Just like in the dead of winter, I yearn to slow down, to take the climate and the season into consideration and to simplify, changing the rhythm of my days in response to the weather. So for the last week or so I’ve been getting up at 5 am and meeting my son, Graham, in Cob’s lower garden and we work for several hours before the sun peeks above the trees and suddenly there is a warming of the air and work becomes an effort. Doing this every day makes me feel accomplished and I can polish this accomplishment later in the day when simply getting out of my chair requires effort.

Every day, Graham and I are building our cranial databases about everything connected with permaculture gardening: soil, welcome weeds, unwelcome weeds, rain/no rain patterns, when to harvest something, when to re-sow something that hasn’t survived, when to let nature have its way and when to curb it so that we can grow food. You can learn about permaculture at our upcoming Permaculture Design Course in September. My son and I share a common approach to new projects: we read, we test things out in the garden, discuss, ask questions of more experienced gardeners, weigh information, then move ahead or change course. In other words, the egghead approach, which I have to admit, has stood me in good stead my entire life.

This week we begin to harvest our first food: radishes and garlic scapes. Cob and I sat around the table at our kitchen co-op with the other members of our elders group on Saturday and cut the scapes and packed them into canning jars for pickling as we shared the latest about our lives and discussed topics that are relevant to older folks.

I spent a morning cooking at the Milkweed Mercantile, gearing up for this week’s Timber Frame Workshop by baking the Mercantile granola and banana bread. There will be a lot of local foods, including Alline’s yummy jams (blueberry/rhubarb my current delight!). And speaking of eating Alline’s food, I got the chance to try her delicious biscuits and gravy, which are offered each month on Saturday of the Rutledge Flea Market. The week-long Timber Frame Workshop will focus on building a new barn for the goats at the Critters’ place.

This week’s Village Council meeting was about redefining our cat policy, which has been weeks in the making (some would say years), and is not done yet. But progress is being made and I salute all the Rabbits with the grit to keep coming back to these meetings, digging deep for creative solutions for this loaded topic about how to live with cats in the village.

But the highlight of the week was probably Prom Night at the Critters’. They put up a big tent and attendees dressed up in their closest approximation of prom wear and danced their hearts out. No limos, however; and no post-prom parties (that I heard about).

And so I leave you, dear reader, with a quote posted on the Wild Woman Sisterhood Facebook page by Rania Naim:

“You’re allowed to leave any story you don’t find yourself in. You’re allowed to leave any story you don’t love yourself in.

You’re allowed to leave a city that has dimmed your light instead of making you shine brighter. You’re allowed to pack all your bags and start over somewhere else and you’re allowed to redefine the meaning of your life.

You’re allowed to leave someone if they’re treating you poorly. You’re allowed to put yourself first if you’re settling and you’re allowed to walk away when you’ve tried over and over again but nothing has changed.

Leaving sometimes saves you from being stuck in the wrong place with the wrong people. Leaving opens a new door for change, growth, opportunities and redemption.

You’re allowed to let toxic friends go, you’re allowed to surround yourself with love, and people who encourage and nurture you.

You always have the choice to leave until you find where you belong and what makes you happy.”

I wish you all that life can offer in this summer season.


Are you looking to embrace change in your own life? Come check out an upcoming visitor program session for inspiration (maybe even a place to call home)…

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