This column is usually a reflective narrative of what has happened over the past week or so here at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage. So when I know that I’ll be writing, I try to be extra observant and reflective—I want to capture that nugget of philosophy in the mundane and beautiful details of everyday life.
Except here’s the thing: I’ve been sick all this week, and the only thing that I have contemplated is the underside of a warm blanket. Christina here, writing about a week that I mostly spent in bed.
Yup, the flu hit our house hard these past few weeks. Coughing, aches, stuffy heads and noses—we’ve had it all. Two days ago I went to bed after 7:30 PM for the first time in a week. This means that I have not collected lovely moments to write about in this column. And it also means that I missed every minute of the first three days of retreat.
Retreat is an annual event at DR which is, like most other things here, similar to what goes on in mainstream life and also very different. It’s around seven days of meetings about serious and important questions that are complicated and will some day need very real solutions. It’s also inspired discussion about things that we didn’t even know we were going to talk about. It’s about bringing up past resentments and hurt feelings, and it’s also about figuring out a way to work through those issues. And of course, like many other events here in our corner of NeMo, it involves talking over shared meals, talking after those meals, and a little extra talking after that. It’s exhausting and exhilarating and boring and fun and important and meaningful and one of my favorite events of the year.
I was on the Retreat Planning Committee this year, and so I have a pretty good idea of just how much work goes into this occasion. Arranging meals, childcare, topics for discussion, people to present those topics, write-ups on the history of the topics, facilitators, notetakers, clean-up help, room set-up—oh, and don’t forget the snacks! I have been working on those logistics with Tereza and Caleb for a few months now. I was sad to be sick for much of the actual fruition of all that work, and yet it seems to have worked out just fine. As so often happens around here, some folks stepped up when others couldn’t.
While I missed a lot last week, I did manage to drag myself out of bed for a workshop on burnout. It was a fascinating guided discussion on different kinds of stress, how people end up burned out, and what we can do to try to prevent it in our own lives.
I often wonder if I was burned out on mainstream life. I definitely believe that the way that most Americans live isn’t sustainable in multiple ways, and that the only solution is to get out and live in a different way. I am glad that we did that (almost exactly two years ago!).
One of my biggest takeaways from the burnout workshop is the importance of aligning my tasks and goals—the stuff I work on throughout the day—to deeper values. And I know that it’s one of the reasons why even though life here isn’t always easy and it is stressful, I wouldn’t trade it for anything else. Even when I’m awake before dawn to write a column about an event that I didn’t really attend, I know that this work is in support of Dancing Rabbit, a place that is very much in line with my deeper values.
The way that I live my life has plenty of stress, and obviously my body recently gave me the clear message to slow down and rest for a week, but I am always grateful for the reminders of why it’s all worth it.
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.