Tag Archives: freethinking

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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Limitless

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*This writing is one that is written without thought.  The way it works is that I do an entrance meditation and then just let the words flow, not trying to direct them, to correct them, to coerce them, or manipulate them in any way.  If they make no sense that’s perfectly fine.  If they make all the sense in the world, that’s perfectly fine too.  I really enjoyed where this practice took me with this piece.  I encourage you to try it sometime.  See where your quiet mind and full heart take you.

There are times when I feel endlessly bound.  Handcuffed and chained, a swallowed key.  I feel bound by limitations placed upon me by others, by me, by society, by financial insufficiencies, by insecurities, by my own mind, by physical incapabilities, by expectations, borders, class systems, government regulations, gender biases…an infinite list of limitations that imprison me.

There’s an easy way to put this feeling of imprisonment in to persepctive.  My path to truth and enlightenment is always nature.  Nature never fails to reset my finite thinking.  To set my feet on a path where the possibilities are limitless and always have been limitless.  Bound before by my inability (or unwillingness) to see the infinite.  Believe the infinite.

Today, I believe.  I look out over a vast ocean.  So vast, I cannot even vaguely comprehend the depths it reaches, the miles it stretches, the gallons of water swallowed in it, the quantity and size of the species living within it, the miles of it untouched and unexplored, the power and reality that this ocean is one of many.  Its vastness multiplied by five.  What I can grasp is the smallness of me.  Little ‘ole insignificant me.  Rather than binding me further, this truth sets me free.

It frees me as I look more intimately upon the sand on which I lie.  Delivered here by time and wind and tides.  We speak of sand as a singular unit but is that because a single sand grain is so insignificant that it no longer has value?  One tiny speck. One granule of something that once was.  Broken down by nature in to individual specks of insignificance.  Thrust together they become one long expansive beach of beauty.  Alone, it is small and insignificant.  Together, majestic.

The ocean tide powered by the moon still visible and hung in full view just above the horizon.  This moon so familiar to me.  A presence in my daily existence.  Always present, yet only vaguely known.  All alone, no community, relatively unexplored. Powerful yet unable to create or emit its own light.  It merely reflects the light of a star.  And there it hangs, suspended in the infinite enormity of stars and plants and space.  Small and insignificant.

Oh, the stars!  Light years away and bright enough to reach my eyes.  Awe inspiring.  Yet, on nights when only one is visible, the others suffocated by the artificial lights of my city or outshone by the reflected sun, that lone star becomes small and insignificant.  Nothing more than a pin prick in the fabric of the night sky.  Hardly noticed.

Nature is my teacher just as it’s the sand’s teacher.  There to break me down, guide me, and hold me.

Teacher, why am I so plagued with suffering?  Why are my problems so unique?  How will I fix them and end my suffering?

Teacher (Nature) tells me,

Step on to that beach.  Notice the immeasurable bits of sand.  Notice that together they are beyond understanding, beyond measurement, beyond a finite limitation.  If they were to rise up they would be a powerful force capable of overtaking any obstacle.  Instead they comfort, cradle, mold, play, house, and simply accept the winds of change.  They will move.  They will be stepped on.  They will be thrown around and kicked about.  Some will be washed away never to be seen again.  They will be underappreciated, cursed, and, at times, even shat upon.  All of this will go unnoticed because in the realm of all that is universal they are small and insignificant too.  Close your eyes.  Listen to the ocean.  It speaks.  What do you hear?

I close my eyes and listen.

I hear waves.  They’re angry and motivated.  Systematic in their approach to reach the shore. They’re reaching.  Grasping.  Unsuccessful, they retreat back.   Regroup.  Attack.  Retreat.

Teacher Responds,

They too are small and insignificant.  You hear only a small voice of the vast ocean.  If you were to venture out further, you’d hear silence.  Peaceful silence.  Even your own voice too small to break that silence.  The waves feel much like you, bound to obey forces bigger than them.  There are rules and they must follow.  They have slipped away from peace and discovered suffering. What you hear is the rumblings of dissent.  Their resistance of what is.  Their suffering.  They are you.  Small and insignificant but making deposits.  Not recognizing their collective value and therefore coming in kicking and screaming.

Now look up.  Do you see the moon?  The stars?  What do you notice?

I look up studying the sky.

They seem so far away.  I’m amazed I can see them at all.  I wonder if they see me.  And if they do, what do they see?  How would my energy reach them?  Do I have an energy that can pierce through the gaps that both divide us and bridge us?  I look up and feel the greatness of all that is out there.  The universe reminds me that each being is relatively small and insignificant in the perspective of all that exists.  It’s true that even the moon, the waves the sand, the stars, other human beings, all feel insignificant from time to time.  I am no different.  My problems feel lighter.  They are as insignificant as I am.

Teacher says,

Your problems are not insignificant but neither are they unique.  In this universe, the one in which you stand upon sand, the sands carried by waters and winds to other lands, those lands inhabited by others, all of you existing under the same night sky, winked at by the same moon, casting light from the same sun, surrounded by the same stars, made up from the same particles, your problems are in no way unique.  Your aloneness, imagined.  Your insignificance a gift in which you are free to make mistakes.  A gift to live fully without fear.  Your significance in community.  As part of a whole, your insignificance becomes as powerful as each community.  As powerful as the community of heavenly bodies.  As powerful as the oceans.  As significant as the sands.  Use your insignificance as a collaboration for peace and silence.  May your depths become immeasurable.  Your vastness, awe inspiring.  Your motivation, pure.  Your community infinitely good and powerful.  And, one day, when your insignificant, finite life ends, may you and I join forces.  May I be your new community and my you teach the new, seeking insignificants their limitless possibilities.

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Successfully Secular

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Last year I was completely beside myself when the holidays were approaching.  I was anxiety filled and dreading each and every moment of the Christian celebrations.

Another year in to my atheism and the holidays were a breeze.  There was not one invite to a service.  Not one invitation to convert back to Christianity.  Not one knock against my decision to be an atheist. There was not a single unwrapping of a Bible as a gift.  Last year there were four! And as a family we are slowly beginning new traditions to keep our holiday secular.

So we did what most families do and we celebrated the season of winter by decorating our home in lights, putting up a holiday tree, adorning it with ornaments both secular and religious.  We watched many of the great holiday films while munching on caramel popcorn and overplayed our Elf and Phineus and Ferb Holiday cds.  We put out side by side displays of what we consider to be the two big fairy tales of the season…Santa and the Nativity.  I told the boys both the story of Santa and the story of Jesus’ birth.  Both sparked great conversations that prove our boys are beginning to ask important questions, chew on information and form logical conclusions.  The story of Jesus’ birth inspired P to pull out his Bible and ask for more stories which he and his brothers logically picked apart.  P also became fascinated with the Mormon Bible which he discovered in our hotel room and now it sits next to his national geographic and he pretends that it’s interesting to read (even though he can’t read any words containing more than 3 letters).  They are slowly getting their exposure to different religious beliefs, religious stories, and the pros/cons of choosing religion or none.

This season we sent out New Year’s cards instead of Christmas cards.  We adorned our tree in Star Wars, Mickey Mouse, and a few angels/crosses.  We ate lots of junk.  Played in snow.  Went to Disneyland.  Learned to share our money with those less fortunate and mostly spent time enjoying our family and friends.  The boys all know that Santa is fictional (a choice we made to tell them last year so that they would know we make an attempt to be honest with them about everything) so this year each boy played the role of elf to one of his brothers.  The elves came out one at a time on Christmas Eve to sit in front of our fireplace with “Mr. and Mrs. Claus”.  They shared our cookies, had a cup of milk and then put the Santa gifts in their brother’s stocking.  It seems to be the beautiful start of a long tradition.

The only sadness this year was seeing a lot less delivery of Christmas cards to our home.  It seems that people may be uncertain as to whether they should send cards to a nonreligious family.  For me the cards are more about seeing families grow and hearing the stories they choose to share from their year.  I love receiving them.  We still received a handful of them…some secular, some religious, and some religious with the verses and references to christianity boldly marked out with a sharpie 🙂

So these holidays I am thankful.  I am thankful that we are progressing and becoming more comfortable in our own beliefs and traditions.  I am thankful that our lives are still full of what counts most…LOVE.

A tribute to Linus's famous speech from the television special, A Charlie Brown Christmas, updated for this secular, atheist age.
http://www.calamitiesofnature.com/archive/?c=470

Our Boys are Thinking

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S (age 5):  “So when I die it just keeps raining doesn’t it?”
He’s beginning to recognize that rain was here prior to his existence and rain will continue after his existence.  His ceasing to exist does not change what is and has been.

Conversation in the car with J (age 8):
J: What is debt, mom?
A: Debt is typically money owed to whomever it was borrowed from.  Some people have debts to friends or family members.  Others have credit card companies that they owe money to.  Others home mortgages.  And then countries like the US have so much debt that they currently owe 14 trillion dollars to people, companies and other countries.  Can you believe that?
J: WOW!  That’s a lot of money!  How does that happen?
A: People tend to think they need more than they do so they act irresponsibly with money to get what they want.
J: Does the US owe some of that money to China?  I see that China makes a lot of the toys I play with.
A: Yes, they absolutely do.  How do you think China is going to feel when the US is unable to pay back that debt?
J: They are going to be sad and angry.
A: That’s right.
J: So if we aren’t paying China to build stuff for us are they our slaves?
A: Wow, what an interesting perspective, J.  They aren’t our slaves because we don’t own them.  They choose to keep loaning us money.  But I’m sure it can feel like enslavement at times.  Being in debt and owing money to lots of people can also make you enslaved.  When you borrow what you don’t have you have to spend lots of time paying that back and usually you figure out you never really even needed the thing you borrowed money for.
J: I wish we all would just be happy with what we have and not make China work so hard.
A: Me too, J, me too.
S: Whoa, mom, did you just see that car transporter!
And we were on to the next topic 🙂

It’s beautiful to see these brains working to figure out the world around them.

Prove It

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One of my favorite moments of the week:

After riding the haunted mansion ride at Disneyland (which scared ALL of the boys)

J (age 8)
I don’t think ghosts are real, mom.

Me:
Why not?

J:
Because I don’t think any scientists have proved them to be true.
And until science proves it I believe I’m safe.

Me:
J, I love the way you think. Science is a great way to test
whether things are true or pretend.

J:
I might be a scientist.

Me:
You’ll make a great scientist, J.