Category Archives: ideals

ISO Our Tribe

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Step 2, maybe should’ve been step 3, but this is the order in which it happened for us.

tribejourneyWe had our values list and now it seemed only rational that we seek out how to be more in alignment with our values.  We started researching like crazy.  And when I say ‘like crazy’, I mean it became a small obsession.  Every waking, free moment was spent researching.  We watched documentaries.  We read articles.  We purchased off-grid magazines.  We stocked up on library books.  We began to learn the language of alternative communities and to understand the differences/similarities between ecovillage, co-housing, off-grid, co-parenting, intentional community, permaculture farm, communal living, co-living, communes, Tribe, nomads, raw foodies, gypsies, etc etc.  We began challenging our own limited viewpoints and stereotypes.  We began visiting and engaging intentional communities across the country.  We interviewed people we know who have lived in intentional communities.  We emailed. We called.  We read.  We visited.  We observed.  We educated.  We questioned.  We processed late in to the nights.  We wrestled with what it was we truly wanted.

We were longing for change and a community with shared values.  We were longing for intimate, authentic relationships.  We were desperate for a community that would further our growth.  We were looking for a shared workload.  We were looking for communities that valued independent thinking, shared resources, environmental awareness, maximizing individual skill-sets, and a sense of responsibility for our shared environment…both communal environment and global environment.  We were looking for communities with sustainable practices.  We were looking for communities with gender, age, cultural, and religious diversity.  We were looking for communities who chose equality and harmony amongst its members rather than hierarchy, patriarchy, or guru heads.  But above all else, we were seeking a community that really understood the value of family and children…meaning they had families and children actively participating within the community environment.

This search led to many heated debates between Adam and myself.  Fear-based debates I might add.

“How can you be okay with living in one house with so many people?!?”.
“How can you be okay with the fact that three women are openly sleeping with the top dog of that community?”
“Can you not see how much ego is wrapped up in this community?”
“Why can’t you be more open-minded?”
“Is this really about the kids’ needs or is this about you?”
“Are we subjecting our children to a life without a future?”
“Why can’t we just be happy where we’re at?”
“Isn’t what we have good enough?”
“Are you really okay with subjecting us to a life of poverty?”
“What if that’s a cult and we missed the signs?”
“What the hell are we doing?”

We entertained and/or visited communities from North Carolina to New Mexico to Arizona to Missouri to California to Oregon to Texas to New York to Ecuador to Belize to Costa Rica.  We wrestled with the idea of co-housing.  We wrestled with the idea of living on $1/day and being completely removed from the matrix.  We wrestled with the idea of selling everything and becoming an RV family.  We wrestled with the idea of living completely off-grid.  We wrestled with the idea of buying our own land and beginning a community of like-minded individuals.
AND
We met fascinating individuals.  We met people doing huge things in their communities on very little money.  We witnessed communities who were artistic and creative and caring.  We witnessed people who were tent-living or living in buses and completely content. We followed and engaged families who were unschooling and traveling the states in their RVs.  We questioned how a heavily advertised “green community” could be green without the simplest of  green tools such as composting and recycling?  We witnessed communities who had definite hierarchies, who were openly polyamorous, who were hallucinogenic based, who had gurus they revered, who had lost their voice, who were completely falling apart, who were overrun with battles of the EGO, who were nothing more than a rich subdivision with a community kitchen who met for meals some nights of the week, who valued profit over people, who sold a lie

We Need Oneover the internet, who touted families but only had two children, who touted sustainability but were clearly starving, who had more drama than a tween television series, who made brags about their community harvest which was nothing more than 3 bananas per family.  We met with communities that had great ideals but had never gotten off the ground.  We met desperate communities and thriving communities.  We found so many communities to be so outrageously priced and others to be inexpensive but somewhat destitute.  We met communities with loads of lovely individuals who just quite hadn’t mastered how to develop a clear, shared vision causing for a bit of divisiveness.  We met communities just attempting to launch and others that had been trying to launch for years.  We invested money in a community that online looked wonderful but in person was clearly a full-blown cult.  We found that so many communities were either full of 20-somethings still trying on the latest fad or full of retirees settling for the cheapest way to retire.  Families were nowhere to be found.  We honored the choices of all of these communities as each person has a different path to take in this life,  but for our path we felt the communities were too rich, too poor, too young, too old, too fanatical, too lackadaisical, but nothing just right (for us).

 

And, thus, by the end of December 2017 we were absolutely spent and questioning whether what we desired was ever to be had.  Or maybe we just weren’t ready.  It was time to regroup and figure out exactly what it was that we wanted and how we were going to find it.

Stay Tuned for what comes next…

 

 

 

 

 

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Are you Nucking Futs?

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We did it!  We moved our family of 6 to the magical land of Costa Rica and the next few blogs will provide insight as to how we made this decision and the physical/emotional journey of actually manifesting our desires in to action.

The seed was planted roughly 5 years ago when Adam and I first visited Costa Rica. There was a vibrancy, an energy that felt like home to me.  Time and time again, I questioned how we could make a move to Costa Rica happen but never made a strong effort to answer that question.  While the yearning to live in this tropical wonderland never really subsided, I allowed life to dictate a path for me.  I chose to be a spectator to my life rather than an active participant.

Fast forward 5 or so years and I found myself living in Arlington, Texas, and I was very aware of the nagging feeling that this was not the place for me (or my family).  I had this belief that I could (and should) be happy anywhere.  I had plenty of “rational” conversations with myself about how I should be content.  I owned a beautiful home on a small pond in a upscale neighborhood.  I had many friends.   The kids had friends.  I had two thriving businesses.  Adam had a well-paying full time gig.  My kids were attending top-rated schools.  I had a rich social life with zumba, bootcamp, yoga, pokeno, parties, etc.  I had easy access to every type of food, entertainment, store I could imagine. I was living “better” than probably more than 90% of the world’s population and, yet, no matter how much I rationalized how I should be feeling, I wasn’t feeling it.  Something was amiss and and I could no longer continue to ignore that pull.  I could continue to allow life to happen to me or I could listen to the call, drop fear, and start creating the life that was calling me forth.  Of course, my life consists of more than just MY wants and desires so I needed to be responsible in how I approached this questioning.  We are a family of six and it mattered that all members felt they had a voice in where the journey would lead us and what constituted a life of fullness for each of us individually and us as a group.
Searching for this answer came so very easily when we approached it one tiny step at a time.  The first step was acknowledging the pull, the whispers of my heart.  Without judgment.  Without any shoulds or should-nots.  The second step was to present my desires of change to my life partner and four boys.  And once they were on board with the idea of imagining/creating a different life path (because it turns out all of us were feeling misplaced/misaligned in our Texas life) we took the very next step.  We needed to know WHY we wanted to make the change.  We didn’t need to know what those changes would look like or how they would come to fruit or even if they would come to fruit but we needed to be very clear about WHAT needed to change.

So we sat down and made a values list.  What did we as a family value?
Our list looked like this….

values

Quality Time. Nature. Slower Pace of Life. Cleaner Eating. Simplicity. Lower Cost of Living. Community. Education Model/Support. Spiritual Health. Eco-conscious (off-grid). Cooperation. Sustainability. Personal Freedom.  Culture of Like-Mindedness.  Social Medicine.  Less Government.  Less Capitalism.  Sharing.  Shared Responsibility.  Equality. Encouragement of Play.  Multi-generational Influences.  Peaceful Spaces.  Mindful Consumption.  Empowerment.  Inspired Career.

And just like that we were all in agreement of what we valued, what values were currently out of alignment, and what we wanted to set out to manifest.

We have referred to this ‘values list’ a million times over during the exploratory and transitional period of the last 8-9 months.  Every time someone has asked us, “Why are you moving to Costa Rica?”  We know why!  Every time someone has mentioned that we may be nucking futs.  And, every time we have questioned our own sanity and decision making capabilities.  We just pull up this list and breathe in the absolute knowing, “ahhhhhh, yes, this is exactly why we are doing what we are doing.”

In response to all those who have questioned if we are nucking futs?  Absolutely nucking futs!  But at least we are nucking futs with values!

 

 

Happy Valentine’s Day

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Besides the true love I have learned to give myself I have also been gifted true love from my best friend, Mark.  Mark is a man who sacrifices daily for me.  He provides for me and our family.  He lets me fail and does not ask me to come crawling for forgiveness.  He does not lord over me.  He cares for me when I’m sick.  Talks to me when I ask for conversation.  Gives me advice when I ask for it.  He showers me with hugs and kisses.  He takes an interest in me.  He invests in me.  He encourages me.  He stands by me even when I take a direction different than the one he’d choose.
Every day I know that I am loved.  I never have to wonder and I never have a set of rules to follow in order to receive that love.  To me Mark is the model of true love and I feel extremely lucky to experience his gift to me each and every moment.
So this Valentine’s Day I wish true love for all.  Wouldn’t that make this world a little bit more wonderful?
I love you, Mark.  I couldn’t ask for more in my best friend.

Impossible Ideals

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I try very hard to accept myself as I am and to encourage the women in my life to see the beauty in themselves without having to try and achieve all the impossibilities that our peers, culture, and media try to sell us.  I hadn’t much thought about the pressures put on males in our society.  I have often been maddened at the way we dumb men down and degrade them in the name of making ourselves as women feel superior but I hadn’t thought much about the possibility that men in my life may be struggling with the same feelings many women do.  The feelings of never measuring up and always striving toward the impossible label of perfection.  I feel empowered today after reading yet another great article by Greta Christina.  I feel empowered to help my husband and four young boys live the life they choose and to accept the realities and recognize the absurdities.

  GENDER  
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Wealthy, Handsome, Strong, Packing Endless Hard-Ons: The Impossible Ideals Men Are Expected to Meet

American ideas about “real men” are contradictory and impossible to live up to. So stop trying!
 

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
 
 
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You’ve almost certainly heard feminist rants about impossible cultural ideals of femininity: how standards of femininity are so narrow and rigid they’re literally unattainable; how, to avoid being seen as unfeminine, women are expected to navigate an increasingly narrow window between slut and prude, between capable and docile, between moral enforcer and empathetic helpmeet. 
Here’s what you may not know: It works that way for men as well.
recent article about male fitness modelshas made me vividly conscious of how the expectations of masculinity aren’t just rigid or narrow. They are impossible. They are, quite literally, unattainable.
And while this unattainability can tie men into knots, I think — in a weird paradox — it can also offer a glimmer of hope.
The article in question is about the hellish, dangerous, illness-inducing routines that male fitness models regularly go through to forge their bodies into an attractive photograph of the masculine ideal. According to journalist Peta Bee in the Express UK (the article was originally published in the Sunday Times [London], but they put it behind a paywall), in order to make their bodies more photogenic and more in keeping with the masculine “fitness” ideal, top male fitness models routinely put themselves through an extreme regimen in the days and weeks before a photo shoot. Not a regimen of intense exercise and rigorously healthy diet, mind you… but a regimen that involves starvation, dehydration, excessive consumption of alcohol and sugar right before a shoot, and more.
This routine is entirely unrelated to any concept of “fitness.” In fact, it leaves the models in a state of serious hypoglycemia: dizzy, exhausted, disoriented, and (ironically) unable to exercise, and indeed barely able to walk. But the routine makes their muscles look big, and tightens their skin to make their muscles “pop” on camera. And even then, the magazines use lighting tricks, posture tricks, flat-out deceptions, even Photoshop, to exaggerate this illusion of masculinity even further.
On any sort of realistic irony meter, the concept of starved, dehydrated, dazed, weakened men being offered as models of fitness completely buries the needle. But this isn’t about reality. The image being sold is clearly not one of “fitness” — i.e. athletic ability and physical health. The image being sold is an exaggerated, idealized, impossible extreme of hyper-masculinity.
And the illusion being sold by the fitness magazines is that this hyper-masculinity is attainable. If you just work out longer and harder; if you’re just more careful about your diet; if you just take the right supplements and drink the right sports beverage… then you, too, can have a body like a fitness model. A cartoon image of fitness is being sold to men as if it were actual fitness. And men are being taught that there’s something wrong with them if they can’t get there.
But this ideal of masculinity isn’t just difficult to achieve. It isn’t just narrow; it isn’t just rigid; it isn’t just out of reach for some or even most men. It is, quite literally, unattainable. Even the fitness models themselves can’t attain it: not without nightmarish physical ordeals, camera tricks and Photoshop. It is a carrot being dangled in front of a donkey — which the donkey will never, ever get to eat.
We’re not just talking about the world of fitness modeling, either. From weight loss products to underwear ads to cosmetic surgery to supposedly helpful books of advice on how to make yourself tolerably appealing to the opposite sex, men are being increasingly bombarded with messages about what Real Men are supposed to look like. It’s not surprising that, among men, reported rates of anorexia nervosa, anorexia athletica, and other forms of disordered eating and body dysmorphia are on the rise.
And we’re not just talking about physical ideals of masculinity. We’re talking about cultural ideals. Sexual ideals. Economic ideals. Emotional ideals.
Sexuality educator Dr. Charlie Glickman has written a great deal (and teaches workshops) about male gender expectations, and what he calls “the performance of masculinity.” And a twopart series he recently wrote crystallized this idea for me. He was talking about the “box” of masculinity — the ideas we have in American culture about what a “real man” is and does. You know: strong, competitive, dominant, wealthy, good at fixing machinery, lots of sexual partners enjoys sports, big dick that gets hard on demand. You know the drill.
And he pointed out that many of these ideas aren’t just rigid or limiting. They actually conflict with each other. As Glickman put it, “Some of the items in the box are contradictory. You can’t be a mechanic and a CEO. I’ve talked with men who are convinced they’re not Real Men because they aren’t rich and I’ve talked with men who are convinced they aren’t Real Men because they don’t work with their hands.”
In other words: The Act Like a Man Box isn’t just a painful, difficult, miserably limiting place to live. It is, quite literally, an impossible place to live. It doesn’t exist. It isn’t like having your goal be to live in a big mansion in Beverly Hills with dozens of supermodels hanging around the pool. It’s like having your goal be to live on the surface of the sun. It literally can’t be done.
But here’s the good news.
“Impossible” is, in many ways, a better cultural ideal to have than “really, really difficult.”
Because it’s a whole lot easier to ignore.
The day I realized that the cultural ideal of femininity was, quite literally, unattainable? The day I realized that women are supposed to be sexy andchaste, undemanding and seeking commitment, meek delicate flowers andstrong backbones of the family? The day I realized that if you’re tall you’re supposed to look shorter, and if you’re short you’re supposed to look taller, and if you’re fat you’re supposed to look thinner, and if you’re thin you’re supposed to look more voluptuous, and that whatever body type you had you were supposed to make it look different? The day I realized that every woman is insecure about her looks… including the ones we’re supposed to idolize? The day I realized that, no matter what I did, no matter how hard I worked, I would always, always,always be a failure as a woman?
That was the day I quit worrying about it.
If the world is telling you that if you work just a little bit harder, you can be strong enough, pretty enough, rich enough, whatever enough… you’ll be a lot more tempted to keep running that treadmill, keep chasing the carrot that’s dangling in front of you. But if the world is telling you that if you work just a little bit harder, you can turn yourself into a unicorn and start shitting diamonds? The whole thing just becomes laughable. And it becomes a whole lot easier to step off the treadmill. Obviously the cultural expectations still affect you — I’m not claiming to be free of them, I don’t think anyone is — but it’s a lot easier to see them for what they are, and shrug them off, and get on with your life.
So guys? Listen up.
The world is telling you to turn yourself into a unicorn and start shitting diamonds.
The world is giving you an impossible task. It’s not just a stupid task; it’s not just a pointless task; it’s not just a needlessly confining task; it’s not just a task that will make you miserable. It is, quite literally, unattainable. You will never, ever be man enough.
So stop giving a damn. And be whoever you are.
Be a whisky-drinking electronic music nerd who mixes a perfect Manhattan. Be a dialog editor who bakes banana bread and does stand-up comedy. Be a tattooed poet and kettlebell competitor. Be a retired soldier who does English folk dancing. Be a software engineer with waist-length hair and a thing for Michelin-star restaurants. Be a French-speaking rare book collector who calls into sports radio talk shows. Be a porn writer and atheist activist with eighteen cats. Be a muscle-bound gym rat who sings opera and cries in public.
Be who you are. That’s actually an attainable goal. And it’s a hell of a lot more fun.