Thankful of many blessings

This Thanksgiving I giveth over with thanks.  I love the idea of Friendsgiving. I have so many friends and relationships that I am truly blessed.  I also have a wonderful family. Like I said, I thought we were dysfunctional but after living in cohousing I realized we were quite functional. Sure, there was a divorce but so are half the families out there.

I am so thankful that I took an impromptu trip last week and had the chance to see two members of my family that I rarely see since they live so far away.  That was a gift.

About this time last year I was part of a class of amazing women. Since then, we have continued to meet on zoom and have now become a strong group of friends. I’m thankful for that.

Through trying to form another intentional community (future blog post to be posted shortly) I have made two new friends.  That’s always a good thing.

I have realized who my real friends are this year.  The ones who listened to me as I went on and on over what happened in cohousing.  They were so kind to lend an ear when it was all I could think about and still am taking time to heal.

One unexpected place to find new friends is right here – on the blogosphere. Through connecting with other bloggers I now know other writers, cooks, fashionistas, recovering addicts, and parents figuring it out as they go.  I wanted to just throw my thoughts out into the universe for those who do their due diligence before deciding to move to an intentional community. I never thought I’d meet new people who also blog about various topics. I found a new community!

So, this thanksgiving I am so thankful to connecting with people virtually and in person.  Last year when I watched the batch of Christmas movies one song stood out to me.  Bing Cosby sings White Christmas in Holiday Inn but he also sings a song about counting his blessings instead of sheep. That’s how I feel. I have so many blessings.

I hope you have a blessed Thanksgiving too!

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Paralyzing Fear of the Rumor Mill

It’s always a good thing to talk directly to someone. That makes a healthy community. Unfortunately, in some places, the rumor mill spins out half truths instead.

In my former cohousing, someone sent out an email saying they were moving out and didn’t want any rumors. They didn’t explain why but wanted to just blast it out there to everyone.

For me, I have a dilemma.  I asked a community member to meet and discuss an issue and they said no. Okay.  But I accidentally mentioned that to a potential member and how I was surprised since the promise of cohousing is that we will work through misunderstandings and then be a closer community.  I feel terrible that I said something behind someone’s back. I did explain that they could’ve said no since I had already mentioned I was moving out so they could have realized it’d be a “waste of time” since I was pulling out.  I had asked to discuss since their actions had something to do with my decision.

Some of me wants to contact them and mention my gaff. I would hate having people talk behind my back.  Oh wait, that already happened to me. And it still comes up, some community members believe the story that others viciously put out a obut me.  I’m an open book. Hello, here’s my blog!  Come ask me, I’ll tell you the truth.  No one ever did. It was easier to just go with the rumors.

Then I think they already said no when the issue was hot. Why would they talk to me now? Sure I may have to work with them a lot to market and sell my house eventually but otherwise, I’m not involved and they have shown me again and again that they don’t want to hear my story, feel my side of how it landed, and even work with the original issue. If you ignore the victim, there is no crime.  I find it criminal to discover that the original issue still keeps popping up. But no one there seems to care or want to warn others about it.

So, I’ll stay away from the rumor mill and the whole property in general.

5,101 Mill Fall Photos - Free & Royalty-Free Stock Photos from Dreamstime
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Loneliness, not as big a deal as previously thought

I was in the car a lot yesterday and heard NPR’s Best of my Knowledge show on Loneliness.  My ears perked since cohousing is given as the solution.  Yet, the author interviewed made a distinction between loneliness and solitude.  She mentioned her mother tried to kill her and the host suggested that solitude must have felt safer to her.  They also discussed how extroverts might be more alone in a crowd.

That’s how I feel. I have enjoyed solitude this year. For the first time ever I took a break from people. As a lifelong extravert it took a crisis for me to see that some people and groups are plain draining.  Being by the ocean and seeing the pelicans and dolphins are life giving. I don’t need to be with toxic people. I have found healthy people and even groups online and have met up in person with some of them.  Sure, it’d be great to walk out your door and visit with neighbors right there.  Once they give you more grief and pain than joy, then solitude is welcome instead.

I recently spoke to someone who said they enjoy their community. They wish they could live with them. I wanted to scream that they should cherish what they have. Sure, if you can, live near each other. Yet, moving away from that community and into cohousing may not be as satisfying as what you have.  Creating a healthy, nourishing group is wonderful when it happens. Seems like a few cohousing groups do that so if you have it already, or can create it, stay where you are.

My college pals and I were complaining how hard it has been to find similar people and sense of community compared to what we had at our small campus. Yet, we have recreated a zoom group. Not as nice as being nearby, but it’ll do.  And I”m still getting to know new neighbors at the condo and meet plenty of people at the beach.  

So, if it’s a question of toxicity or solitude?  I”ll take door number two every time.

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A realistic advertisement for a cohousing home for sale

Sometimes I think what happened to me is unique because we were a new forming community and there were some unique issues that came up.  But I have met a few people that had similar experiences, so my hope diminishes.  Cohos should strive to put in the work and effort to flourish like some of the communities out there. But, for my friend, she found the same thing I did – many were so afraid of conflict, or for whatever reason,  that they didn’t speak up to bad behavior by another member and now she is moving out  This is the ad she would love to put in the real estate magazines:

Beautiful townhome for sale, newly remodeled, cozy and sweet. In a cohousing community riddled with domination culture like the rest of our world. Currently new visioning is taking place but the same old people are using the same old tools to “revision”. So come and have an opportunity to create a new culture using the skills you’ve most certainly developed from being a human alive up until now, domination, shame, blame, emotional abuse, shoot even physical abuse is probably welcomed too… or at least you don’t have to worry about consequences since the super positive, hopeful types don’t seem to hold anyone accountable. Oh and the beautiful southern facing windows stream in beautiful light… and look right at the most aggressive neighbor in the place (he’s called “the bully” behind his back but everyone is nice to his face). Make great connections to gain power and live the dream! You too could be the top of the pile in this wonderful cohousing community. Just don’t speak up when you see abuses of power. If you’re one of those who stand up against injustice, this is probably not the place for you. Unless you like being shamed and shunned. Then this is the holy grail. Kids welcome too. Well, not by all. The bully hates them. So you would be living across from a control freak who will complain about everything child related. And no one will say anything, they all comply. Music? No, no one plays music anymore because he doesn’t like it. Basket balls? No, he takes them if they go in his yard. Tree climbing? Not since he complained and everyone halted that dangerous activity.

If all of that sounds attractive to you, come, meet us at the Common House and talk to the marketing committee.  This house is ready for new owners, is it you?

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what is cohousing podcast

This episode has a lot of information for those who are curious about what is cohousing and those ready to start forming and building one.  Mathilde Berthe and Erik Bonnett of Studio+ co-hab, an architect firm, tell us about their upcoming class with FIC (Foundation of Intentional Communities)

Here are just some of the resources we mention in the episode

Here’s the course link:

 (starts 11/15/11 however they will give more courses and the episode is still timeless)

Their website:


Books mentioned, or just good to read:

On community building:

Head, Heart & Hands, Shari Leach

On intentional communities:

Creating a Life Together, Diana Leafe Christian

On Cohousing:

The Cohousing Handbook, Chirs & Kelly Scotthanson

Creating Cohousing, Kathryn McCamant and Charles Durrett

Pocket Neighborhoods, Ross Chapin

On diversity:

Token, Crystal Byrd Farmer

And on African American intentional communities: 

Collective Courage, Jessica Gordon Nembhard

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Can men control their hormones? Can I?

Like I  mentioned in love and cohousing/community post,  the happy brain chemicals that light up when you dream of a community utopia feel a lot like the dopamine rush of love. Now I find myself with some frisky men.    This is a bit of a dilemma for me since I 1) don’t want to date at all, and 2) if I did, I prefer women.  This is making me a bad lesbian!

Luckily both are either just joking or flirting or both.  Plus, they are both on opposite sides of the country from me and each other.  

What happened?  I swore off intentional communities but with my stupid curiosity, I attended an online event. There I met a wonderful seasoned man who told me of a place forming. I signed on to help.  Then, the other man found us and joined it.  I’ll write another time how it all is going/went.

With all the planning and talking and dreaming, some flirty words came out. I’ve tried to be clear but I am human. The attention is nice and makes me wonder, maybe I shouldn’t be so cut off to the idea of romance?

Tonight one of the gentlemen cracked me up. I wrote in an email how I can’t wait to just sit out on the porch and talk all night long. I was expressing my frustration with emails and phones and prefer to just be outside and enjoy others’ company like I did in the Mexican mountain community.

His response floored me. He said, “Talking on the porch all night, naked”.  Naked? What? That wasn’t in my original email? That brings it up a whole other notch.  At least I got a good laugh in today.

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Help me, Mediator, you’re our only hope!

“I tried to make the case that you cannot successfully build community by sacrificing relationships on the altar of your principles.“

I love this quote by today’s blog post from Laird.  I think I needed to hear it.

I’m sad to see some people upset with him stopped subscribing to his blog. As far as shunning people, I don’t see why having access to reading what they write helps. You don’t have to see or hear them. For me, I like his blog because it is one of the few places to see some of the real issues communities deal with.  I’m not always a fan and don’t understand his writings about conflict management, but I enjoy getting a glimpse inside communities. Usually cohousing communities are open books as they are forming and trying to get off the ground but then shut the castle gates once they are living there (I assume for privacy). But those thinking of moving in to an intentional community need to know it’s not all unicorns and rainbows. 

Here is the link:

The blog today is dated November 8, 2021

Losses along the Way

HELP ME OBI-WAN YOU'RE MY ONLY HOPE - Leia Help Me | Meme Generator
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Forgiveness and cohousing and intentional communities

As I wrote the last post I realized I need to discuss forgiveness more.  I already mentioned that I felt I would never be forgiven but what about me forgiving them?  Immediately as my actions panned out as an error, I forgave the other parties. They were worried of the consequences and in fear. When everything was officially over, I thought they would feel relieved but when I asked, I was perceived, by some, as wanting revenge. My forgiveness face needs some work.

I look back at each individual.  I can forgive people for being conflict averse and afraid to speak up. The stakes were high – if you make a mistake, you become shunned.  Yet, the lack of push back created an atmosphere of letting problematic behavior continue.  I could work on forgiving and talking through to each person (if they would talk to me) and try living there again. But the other half of forgiving is trust.  I don’t trust them to speak up next time.  I see that I would be the only one problem solving for the issue that is still there.

Forgiveness is such an important part of community living. I could try if I really did want to move back. A lot of me wants to at least have some sort of relationship so I can work with them to rent out and eventually sell my house and not have all this tension. Moving back would take even more work on both sides. Ultimately, I have lost trust so I would have a hard time. In a way it was aa gift. We had a big issue and big reactions and I was shown early on that this community is not the place for me.

If I moved into another intentional community, I would make forgiveness a big part of the experience. I would pick my battles.  Let things slide.  I would also do what most places market that they do when there is conflict – use it as a means to become closer.  If only humans weren’t so damn complicated.

Forgiveness isn’t easy and should never be used to excuse abusive behavior. I think it has been pushed for so many years to keep people in their proper place. I have a friend who says Jesus made a mistake. Jesus said, “Forgive them, Father, for they know what not they do.” My friend claims they did know it was wrong. He doesn’t like to excuse bad behavior.  I chuckle that he dares question Jesus!

The most important person to forgive is yourself. I forgive myself for trying. I forgive myself for using the tools that I knew to problem solve. To try to make the community a better place but causing more waves instead. I forgive myself for wanting a loving, caring community to spend the rest of my life. I forgive myself for moving my children and up heaving our lives (once to move there and again to move out).  That’s the one that is hardest for me but I recently heard Massy Arias say that if you either succeed in your endeavors or learn from the misstep.  I learned a lot and I need to keep forgiving myself and not close off my heart to trying for connection with others, it just might not happen in cohousing for me.

Hamilton cries when his wife forgives him
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Baby, Come Back to cohousing and intentional communities

I have a dilemma. Or a temptation?  Not sure what you’d call it but just as I’m finally “getting over” the kerfuffle at the cohousing community, I’m being urged to return.  Yes, I know the other players are moving out.  I was hoping that with me leaving they would deal with the real issue but apparently that never took place and bad feelings were zip zapped zoomed all over the place.  One person in particular thinks now that the people who hate me (the most) will be leaving, that I could enjoy the cohousing community I had envisioned all those years ago.  They claim I’m a nice person and a good fit for cohousing and the others were not. They saw signs of selfishness early on and I wish I had but I’m not sure it would have made a difference. That selfishness plays out every day they keep living there.

I love the idea that new people are moving in and could really make it a nice place to live. However I thought by being one of the first, that I could help form it into a cool culture. I felt like even moving in barely 6 months after others, a culture of don’t ask don’t tell don’t deal with anything real had been established. Plus, the problems from the big deal never were dealt with and still have ramifications.  The new people seem to have not been informed and run into that issue.  So, I’m not sure I could move back. I understand those who hate me the most but I lost respect for the others who stood by. I can’t live with them.

Or could I?  I heard some feel regret for not speaking up.  For how it all went down.  Sounds tempting. Then, I think, they never told me that. It’s not like I disappeared. I’m on the email list. I’ve sent things, even gifts like a $300 worth of conflict resolution material. Crickets. I never get a response on anything unless they need something from me.  If they were really sorry, why not pick up the phone (I have the same number) or email a quick apology.

I know I played all my cards wrong.  When we had the big mediation (my last hope and it blew up), I laid down the facts. The other party cried and used and got lots of sympathy. They also got to keep doing the behaviors I was trying to address.  Since then I”ve read articles and see that being up against a true narcissist, I had no way to “win”.  To me there were no winners or losers, I wanted the whole community to support each other and work through things. By everyone quietly (not apologizing to me, reaching out to me, standing with me even though some told me they did) choosing a winner, I believe, they made us all losers. We lost. The community lost.  

Anyways, one card I dealt wrong was by sending an email right after that mediation to say I’m leaving. I specifically said that I see that my values do not match up to theirs. I meant speaking up and being honest, but didn’t say that and no one asked what my values were.  So, from what I know of that community, once you say you are leaving, they decide not to put an ounce of interest in you anymore.  Which is sad.  So, when I asked one person if we could talk and work out our differences, they said no.  They said they don’t like people being mad at them and don’t know how to deal with conflict. I just wondered why they moved to cohousing in the first place? 

If that’s the reaction I got then and no one has told me their regrets, why would I move back?  Sure, I could have a fake relationship and superficial with these quiet ones. There is one or two people I wouldn’t even want to try with since I see their true selves and quirks and it would be a waste of time. Nothing wrong with that. In cohousing, many realize they won’t like everyone. You can still be neighborly. I even heard someone say recently “it’s a neighborhood, not a family”. If only they would stop marketing it in major publishing outlets as the latter!

The other issue is forgiveness. I made an attempt to fix the problem and the big incident happened. Most felt it was a huge mistake that I made.  I get that. There wasn’t much I could do to undo what I did, but it seemed like no one would ever forgive me. Like ever. Another reason I left, there wasn’t an entrance ramp.  I was voted off the island.  I wondered how that made the culture of the community. I was new to cohousing just like everyone else but one misstep and you’re out of here!

Of course the answer is no. I won’t move back. I do wonder why my house hasn’t sold and is that a message that maybe I will want to move back. Or let my son live there like I originally wanted. I wanted him to be around neighbors who understood he is on the autism spectrum.  Yet, their cruelty to differences and misunderstandings now make me feel the opposite – I want to protect my son from them.  And the new neighbors here get him and it’s fine. We aren’t a cohousing or intentional community but we are neighborly. I feel safe here.  Which I didn’t feel there.

It’s sad that some people want and love the idea of communities but those who don’t have the right qualities and those who just stand by ruin it.

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Love and Loathing in cohousing and intentional communities

I think I have already made my point that cohousing and Intentional Communities are created with utopia in mind but real people inhabit these places with real problems, feelings, and group influence. Same with love.  Some communities openly form a polyamorous structure where relationships are part of the equation. In others, especially cohousing, couples move in and everyone plans to be neighbors, nothing else.  Of course, attraction, crushes, and love can happen.  Maybe it breaks up a marriage, maybe it doesn’t.  I do know of one couple who divorced and both still live in the community which has been great for their kids to visit at both households and not have to lose their neighborhood in the process.

When you meet a new love interest, your brain lights up with hormones that make you feel high. Literally. I think the same thing happens when you are planning an intentional community.  You are excited. You imagine love and connection and plants growing and gardens that nourish the world.  So, I wonder how easily you could take those feel good vibes and put them onto a person?  Being attracted to intentional communities doesn’t mean you are a good match as a love partner, not necessarily.  I hear the phrase all the time “I want to be with like minded people”.  Yes, you will all be interested in intentional community – you are choosing to live there. The details of what that means will be different to everyone and having the personality to really deal with the sharing and give and take is a whole other story.

So, if you think you are with likeminded people and have this connection over intentional communities, you could soon find yourself thinking you are in love.  Or crushing. Or wishing and hoping. I wonder how you deal with crushes and unrequited love in intentional communities?  I must admit I had one, or two, but I just let it fester in my brain. I had no interest in even seeing if there was a real connection romantically.  First off, that could be messy with neighbors and second, I’m really not interested in dating.  As luck would have it, those crushes ended up being the people least like me and causing the most pain.  That’s why I think, the brain lights up but it’s just that – chemical reactions. Not the stuff real love is made of.

Howard Jones asks What is Love anyway?
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