Virginia, one year, four months

It's winter again. Or is it fall? I get confused about the season this time of year.  It feels like winter to me because I have bundled up so much, piled covers on my bed, and often sit by the fire in the evening and drink tea.
Thanksgiving is this week. There will be a large feast and a gratitude circle, although I can't remember much of how the holiday is celebrated here at Twin Oaks because I went home to Missouri last Thanksgiving. I will be going home for Christmas instead this year. Cold weather is difficult for me. I often feel like I am lacking in sunlight and warmth in general. Time seems to pass so quickly though, and soon it will be spring again, although that is hard to imagine right now.
The work in the garden has slowed down a lot, and in a couple weeks I will only be doing garden work once a week, as opposed to almost every day of the week. When there's no more garden work outside, I will be working in the greenhouse, doing seed inventory, and processing seeds.
Most of my other work involves Health Team stuff. The health team is a group of people responsible for making sure members' physical health is taken care of. We supply vitamins and supplements, first aid, help people address chronic health conditions, find resources for health care, and make sure people are taken care of when they are sick. Most of my work is confidential. I really like taking care of people, and I am learning a lot about medicine and health care (alternative and conventional) There is a feeling of joy, I think that is natural, and maybe instinctual, that occurs when I take care of others.
There are challenges that I face, mostly within myself; I ended a 2 and 1/2 year relationship with my partner and best friend. Both of us continuing to live at Twin Oaks and maintain at least an acquaintanceship and hopefully some kind of friendship in the future has been rocky. It's been difficult and tricky to figure out where to lay boundaries and what is safe for me. Sometimes I think it must be easier to break up with someone when you don't live in community because when you do, they are gone, and you don't have to keep seeing them every day, and you don't have to see them with a new partner. It's important to both of us that we are friends, but how do you really do that, anyway, after being with someone for so long? It's something else I am learning here. Words of wisdom; relationships in community are very different than relationships outside. I'm not sure if it's something one can understand unless you go through it, but I think it's important to be really careful and thoughtful about who you get involved with and how you want your relationships to be.
It's strange to think of how I have gotten used to a lifestyle that is considered atypical, but it fits me so well. I see the same 100 people every day. I don't greet all of them. I pass them along the path as though I am in a tiny city, except I know everyone I see. We share meals together and talk casually in a large dining room, mostly eating inside these days. Then we go "home" to our small living groups to read or share time with our friends and partners. Sometimes we play music together, or watch a movie, go for a star walk, or talk about our lives.
We share a lot of space, and food, and objects, and I have come to learn how to get everything I need while considering others' needs at the same time. It involves simple things such as making food for myself and then cleaning up after I am done, getting my dinner, and then waiting 30 minutes before I get seconds so that anyone who is late to dinner still gets food,. It also means putting things back where they came from after using something, or simply asking if someone has the time or energy to talk about a certain issue before just bringing it up to them.
I keep learning more and more practical skills, mostly growing my own food and saving seed, but also, medicine, fixing things, building, slaughtering animals, taking care of children, cooking, sewing, etc. Sometimes I look at other members and think,  I really have a lot to learn, and wonder when I will ever have all the skills and knowledge that I want? Then I look back at the last year or two, and see the ridiculous amount I have learned in such a short time, and see that there is a lot of  knowledge I could actually share with other people who are below my skill level. Sometimes I am lacking in confidence. I think of that as a skill in itself that I want to work on. I have watched myself improve in running, weight lifting, and guitar this year. My body and mind changes. It feels refreshing and exciting to learn new things and see the progress.
It makes me happy to be outside and feel the sun on my face this time of year, to work with plants and play music, and it makes me happy to play with children and cook food. I feel strong when I run 5k or dead lift 80lbs, and it brings me confidence and joy to know that I am strong. I think about traveling; seeing the world, going on adventures. I wonder if that is more valuable than what I have here, or if I think it will be in the future?


watermelon seed harvestsunset