Howdy folks, Tereza here, wanting to quickly note our switched-up email schedule: this update is coming to you today, rather than earlier in the week as usual. A number of the folks who work on bringing the weekly update to you (including yours truly) were traveling to see the eclipse, so this is coming to your inbox on a different day. Have no fear, we’ll be back to our usual schedule of mailings next week.
Of course you’re wondering about the weather (ha!), so I’ll get that out of the way first: it continued very dry, then a few light-but-refreshing rains came through. We can probably still use more, though.
Last week Liz mentioned cooking for the Milkweed Mercantile writing workshop. I was an attendee and much of the week I was still flying on the high of the experience. The 10 of us quickly became a tight group, with lots of in-jokes compounding previous in-jokes, lots of wordplay and cleverness, a ton of caring and support, and of course writing writing writing, plus optional sharing of what we’d written. Lots of pain, lots of laughter, confronting demons and releasing old schmoo that gets in the way of being vulnerable and real and ourselves. (Plus at the end we all got Certificates certifying that we are Real Writers. Woot!) It was fabulous, and for me, at least, especially needed.
As our society feels ever-more polarized, and the news offers a constant display of hatred and fear, I find myself fighting despair. I feel so angry, so often, with those I virulently disagree with, but I know well that anger and hatred will never bring us closer to connection or peace. My usual practice is to vent the anger in a safe way and place (for me co-counseling is a useful tool), to speak my truth, and to offer listening and empathy to others whenever possible.
It helps me to remember that we’re all doing the very best we can with what we have to work with, and that many people haven’t been taught how to be with their feelings, especially the feelings our culture considers bad, negative, or dangerous. I don’t think any of our emotions are bad. I know that it is ok to safely release our rage and pain, that allowing all our feelings is not just ok but necessary, and that shaming anyone for having feelings never helps. And it’s also useful for me to notice when someone’s ways of interacting, or the ideas they are expressing, are too difficult for me personally to engage with, and to step back when I need to for my own self-care.
I also have lots of regular interaction with animals and children and plants and other adults, which I think helps me more than I sometimes realize. I’ve lived here so long I can scarcely remember my “old days” living in the city when I didn’t know (or barely knew) my neighbors, had almost no contact with people of other ages, or animals or plants. Here I spend time with friends, kids, neighbors’ cats and dogs, plants large and small. I daily greet the chickens whose eggs I eat, regularly see birds and bunnies and bats and (once, this week) the tiniest snake i’ve ever seen – at first I thought it was an earthworm, wriggling in the newly damp mulch on the path.
I think there’s an epidemic of loneliness in our culture. Our devices help us in many ways, but one thing they’re not so good at is allowing the awkward and necessary time spent in each other’s physical presence, acknowledging the reality of our own bodies and others’. And when we do find ourselves with others, we’re too often tempted to cover the silence with jabber. I do it all the time, and still I wonder: is there a way to be more real, more genuine? To tell the next person who asks “How are you?” how we REALLY are, rather than the expected and accepted “fine”? We seem to be doing way better on this in community, but even here it can be easy to stop engaging, stop being real, stop being vulnerable. It’s all too easy to feel abandoned, attacked, misunderstood.
So the writing workshop was a soothing balm for me. It gave me a chance to reset. With the acceptance and connection I felt with that group, I was able to remember and appreciate how much is available to me when I let myself be open to it. Plus I was able to release some of my emotional schmoo in a way that felt creative rather than destructive. Big cheers to everyone seeking connection and being creative, especially my workshop allies!
Turning to village happenings, there was a poker tournament at the Mercantile Monday night. It sounds like the folks who went had so much fun that it will happen again. I’m not personally all that interested in poker, but I like knowing my friends and neighbors are doing things that are fun for them.
Tuesday night was our usual tri-community potluck, and Javi hosted a bonfire after. Several of us talked about books, and recommended some favorites to each other. I love talking about books!
Wednesday brought women’s circle, which happens every week and is currently open for new tri-community residents to check out. This open time happens twice a year, in order to feel like a safe and supportive circle to those who regularly attend, while still allowing new folks a chance to join. There were several new women there, and I enjoyed experiencing them in that setting. I find it a good place to give and get support, to have a better sense of what’s happening for some of the other women in the communities, and to feel more connected.
Saturday night there was a dance party in the Casa, hosted and DJ’d by Baigz from Sandhill and Hassan’s work exchanger Marge. It was very well attended and super fun. I love enjoying the music and movement and watching folks interact and play and dance. Marge will be leaving soon for further travel adventures and I will miss her warm smile, encouraging exercise tips, and lovely French accent.
Also happening this week was a great deal of planning on the part of the many folks who traveled to see the eclipse. A big group was going to be converging at Meramec State Park, quite a ways south of DR, and camp there for a few days post-eclipse. Ted had family coming to DR right after so he wanted to only be away for one night, and I decided to join him, Aurelia, and our friend (and former Rabbit) Jan in a trip to Columbia, MO.
We stayed at the home of an old friend of Ted and Sara’s, who also happens to have been one of the teachers at the Mercantile’s yoga retreat earlier this summer. Mark, Alyson, Cole, and Nina met us there Sunday night, and we camped out in the yard. We sat around the firepit, talking and singing, while the girls played and roasted marshmallows. Our Red Earth friends headed off early Monday morning to join the group at Meramec, and our group… Well, I’ll leave our eclipse story for Ted to tell in next week’s update. (How’s that for a cliffhanger?)
If you experienced the eclipse I hope you enjoyed it! And if not, there’s another one in a few years. May you all enjoy good connections this week, and we’ll be back in your inbox next Tuesday.
How time flies! Our 2017 visitor program has only two sessions left, so now’s the time to apply if you want to visit Dancing Rabbit this year! And if you live nearby, mark your calendars for our annual Open House, happening Saturday, Sept 9th from 1-4 pm. We hope to see you here soon!
Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage is an intentional community and nonprofit outside Rutledge, in northeast Missouri, focused on demonstrating sustainable living possibilities. Find out more about us by visiting our website, reading our blog, or emailing us.