Goodbye Cruel Cohousing World

The day has arrived. The one that one commenter wished would have happened months ago – I am finally ready to move on. They had said “pack up and go home” which is ironic since cohousing is supposed to be your forever home. I couldn’t do it at other people’s time line. My (previous) cohousing community wanted me to forget and move on right away. Sure, I moved out physically right away. With this blog, I was processing how to let go. Somehow this fall it is like a cloud lifting. Memories still pop in my mind but they don’t hurt as much.

Years ago someone took my heart, threw it on the ground, and stomped on it. I thought I’d never get over it.  However, three years ago I walked down the aisle (to someone else).  I feel like this is similar. Another Earthquake event in my life and about the same time line – two and a half to three years to heal.  Time does heal all wounds.

So, for 2023 I am giving up cohousing. And Intentional Communities.  And I may even cool down on cults. Why? Because it all is negative to me and I want to be more positive. I want to really move on and not let the past drag me down. Truth is that I”m in a new place (now 2 ½ years) and a new job and I can tell my story however I want. I even am starting to not want to talk about my past life as a world traveler. Not sure if it’s age or what, but I like staying in one place. I think I was looking to vacation at the beach so much that now that it is my home, why go anywhere else? 

Now, I’m not making an unbreakable promise that I’ll never mention cohousing again but I’ll choose wisely. It would have to be a new and profound idea which I think I don’t have anymore (and some would argue never did).  I also can’t 100% get the utopian idea of intentional communities out of my blood.  I have invited others to live as neighbors to support my autistic son and they could get the same but I”m realistic – let a management company run the HOA and just meet socially. And, even at work, I no longer trust groups of people nor care what they think. I was talking yesterday with a coworker who was saying to be careful who to trust and I was like, nah, gave that up after the cohousing angry mob came after me with torches.  

With all that said, I may or may not keep this blog.  I’m leaning towards not. My son has had some major health issues this year and the bills have made our comfortable life not anymore.  I’ve been trying to get rid of bills left and right – cable cord cut, Hulu, etc.  So paying wordpress doesn’t seem reasonable. I have until mid February and then would probably stay only one more year.

I will always be around for questions and comments. I still want to be a resource, especially for anyone like me who feels isolated and ashamed for questioning ,cohousing and having a bad experience when everything else is flowers and unicorns!

I also am publishing a book on Amazon. Like I’ve always said, unlike everyone else who blogs or is an expert on “cohousing” I am not in it for any sort of job or money. I’ll charge as little as I can only to keep Kindle and Amazon from dumping me.  It’s got a title that I hope will find people so they can at least here one experience and then have a more informed decision.

So, adios. I have a few more blog ideas (On other topics) and enjoy blogging but will probably switch to something on a free host.

Check out my book. Email me and I even have a gift for readers. I have a version of what the big blow up was – yours free, if curious.  In an easy to digest medium.

Thanks for reading. Thanks for all your support! 

homeschoolvideo@gmail.com

New book:

Posted in autism and (dis)abilities, grief and grieving, moving in and out of cohousing, other blogs and websites, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Cohousing Christmas Memories

Looks like I forgot to write about Christmas. Or, I can’t find it, so here we go again.  I lasted ten months in Cohousing and felt badly about it till more people moved into my community, and out, most within six months. So, I had one Christmas.

First off, I thought cohousing would be cool to celebrate holidays like Hannukah where at the synagogue I belonged to in Los Angeles we each brought in a menorah and the table was glowing with so many candles. However, no one organized a Hanukkah celebration and one family mentioned they went over to their extended family instead.  I didn’t organize it since I tried for Rosh Shannah and that was the night the cat died, no one showed up for blessings of honey and apples for the new year, and the one neighbor who wanted to asked about it the night after. Fail on that front.

I was on the community committee (the fun party planning one till we all wanted to quit when it was also the committee that had to try to deal with conflict), so I must’ve helped plan the holiday party. It ended up being really fun and I even saw that my picture is still up on the Facebook page of me and my boys smiling. What made it fun – a white elephant give away.  I bought a gift that I thought would be popular. We had faithfully gone to game night so when I saw an Uno card game made out of chocolate, I thought it’d be a hit but it was meh.  My son made a younger child cry when he got to take the lantern that he thought was cool so that was uncomfortable. What made it such a good memory is that the worst gift made everyone laugh hysterically. One family didn’t go shopping but instead looked into their basement and found a painting that a friend had made for them years ago. It was of a clown so everyone laughed not because it was so funny, but it was so creepy. Of course no one wanted it but it got passed around. The couple that got it ended up putting it in the window of their attic which made it a nice inside joke whenever we looked up.

The other thing about Christmas which was  nice and I wonder if it became a yearly tradition was one family invited everyone over for pancakes on Christmas morning. People came in and out and it was lovely.  I even saw Santa Claus walk down our pedway. I wondered if it was the fire fighters and was happy they knew we existed (as a new build I wondered about their response time since most never found us on a GPS).  Later a neighbor admitted it was her father in law who lived locally.  

Later that day, I went to have Christmas at my sister’s house which I always do.  I was torn since I saw some neighbors firing up the fire pit and I felt FOMO. I can’t remember if I caught it later or not. I do remember wondering if this was my life – balancing my dedication to my new neighborhood community and my old life with family.  I never got another chance to figure it out since summer came and as soon as it started the scales tipped and made me want to get the heck out.

Posted in Holidays, time and family balance, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Be Careful What You Wish For

A coworker told me a story that makes me laugh and cry at the same time.  Apparently another coworker was unhappy with the file cabinet. It was broken. So he complained to the lead teacher. Then he complained to the whole department. He continued onto the principal and 4 vice- principals and even looped in the union.  He was on a mission. This file cabinet was an issue.

S,o one day the janitorial staff came and hauled the file cabinet away.

That was it. He said it bothered him. He said it was broken. Now it is gone. Problem solved.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Communities magazine

I just read the latest issue of Communities Magazine – the Long Haul. It was quite healing for me.

There was another installment of Diana Leaf Christian’s series on dealing with difficult people.  I love how she uses personal examples.  She is committed to intentional communities and has shared with the world useful information on what works and what doesn’t.  Here she discusses tough times with certain community members.

She is honest and says that sometimes you have to leave the committee with the other person or even move out completely. She understands it isn’t fair but the other person won’t change and you have to decide if you want to stay in an abusive, toxic relationship.  Words I needed to hear.  I chose to leave and it hurt since I had dedicated my time and energy to these people and community but I didn’t want to continue as a punching bag. Strangely, the other problematic people ending leaving the community also. Diana does point out that people do come and go in ICs which most won’t admit.

The other article I was most interested in was an anonymous account of a former Cohousing resident.  They were renters and trying to figure out the community and preferred to buy a house, yet, none were available.  They hit it on the nail with the passivity of many neighbors and the lack of clear boundaries.  

Other articles are about living in a community for the long haul by people whose communes are still going or not, but they love what they lived and learned. 

Check it out!  (digital version is only $5)

Communities #197 (Winter 2022) The Long Haul (simplecirc.com)

Posted in other blogs and websites, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

All is well if we pretend it is

I heard the phrase again – toxic positivity. So interesting. I saw this – let’s just all pretend everything is perfect and never look at complicated situations – that was my cohousing community when I lived there.

https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-toxic-positivity-5093958

Posted in other blogs and websites, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How much is protecting your child worth?

I am planning a trip to Florida and I wanted to see the Holy land Amusement park. Instead I found an article in the Christian magazine about how it shut down last year. Seems appropriate – a plague brought it down. That led to this article.

It’s about Missionary’s kids and abuse but the same themes work at cohousing and Intentional Communities. Fear of letting outsiders know there are problems since it’ll look badly on the whole movement. Where to turn when your whole social structure is right there?

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2022/december/missionary-kid-abuse-statistics-safeguard-prevention.html

Posted in other blogs and websites, sexual abuse, Uncategorized | 13 Comments

Back to school

I read another cohousing article recently where one woman mentioned she had a friend who lived in a retirement community. She pointed out how much this friend hated it there and felt like they returned to high school with the cliques and exclusion at the place, being around people you had nothing in common with, and having to suffer three meals a day with these people.

My reaction is that they assume that won’t happen in cohousing.  I’m pretty sure the article was about a forming community since an established one may know better.

After about six months of moving into my new cohousing (most moved in that same year), I wondered why I was feeling like I wasn’t in the” in” crowd.  I even wondered why we had an in crowd which seemed to hold all the power and run things at the place (maybe because they moved in first?)  I had spent four happy years at a Quaker college. I was used to consensus and community.   I don’t remember cliques there or feeling out of it. It wasn’t perfect, there were conflicts. I was part of the group of students who ran the radio station. One time we had to come to a consensus on what to do about a theft.  And, when one student who shaved his head became the station manager, my friend couldn’t stand him so much that he put his name and face on his racquetball and took out his anger on it each time he played.  So, I was jarred by the opposite feeling at cohousing. I thought I’d flourish again and enjoy creating things again like in college (one group of us started our own theater program there).

Then, when everything hit the fan for me, I had just had a milestone birthday. So, when a neighbor told me of the rumors another main character in the conflict was spreading, I joked, “I wanted to be young again, but not middle school!”

I couldn’t believe how others were listening to the false narrative and not even talking to me, at all.  The mediator encouraged us to reach out to others even if we may not agree, since that is what community is. The fact that it wasn’t happening made me realize that it was not a community.

There was also pressure for everyone to agree to one side of the story.  The consensus was I had made a horrible mistake and would never be forgiven.  Even with the mediator there, the discussion was “Shame on you.”

It reminded me of middle school when a bunch of girls decided they wouldn’t be my friend unless I admit that I like Larry. I was confused. I didn’t like Larry, not like that. I think he may have liked me. Yet, I saw the writing on the wall and wanted to stay in this popular crowd so I lied and said I liked Larry.  All was smooth sailing until summer break and then I never remember speaking to any of them again (Larry even switched schools).

Being in cohousing in that conflict was the same pressure. Admit that you feel how we think you feel. I always apologized and did feel terrible that others were hurt and misunderstood my motives. I thought once I shared my story, everyone would see my motives were to help in a horrible situation and come together as a community to make it better. But, some got so mixed up they thought the situation was normal and we couldn’t even agree what is is.

I even said to the mediator that it was feeling cult-like. They brushed me off. They love intentional communities so much that they are blind to the groupthink too.

So, keep dreaming of cohousing you subjects of articles. Some are doing amazing. But some are worse than high school – they are middle school!

Posted in bad behavior and bullies of any age, control and decision making in cohousing, group think and cults, psychopathy, narcissicism, and personality disorders in cohousing, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Another Day Another Cult

This week two movies about cults (or cult like) were released. I was so happy to see the mysterious “Don’t Worry Darling”.  I could tell it was creepy and the town was holding a secret from the promotions.  It started with that tension and mystery but kept going and going.  Reading the review below repeats what I felt.

I love movies like this – Get Out, Stepford Wives, etc. Definitely more like the latter.  But they all seem to start out the same – people crave a safe place and sense of community but somehow not everyone enters these places of their own will or knowledge of what is truly going on.   Which is exactly how a cult works. You join wanting to change the world, better yourself, and be part of this amazing community that has love bombed you. Only later your realize that your celibate guru was sleeping with everyone (not always by the other’s consent), only wanted your money, and or was doing something completely crazy like branding women or poisoning the local’s salad bar.  

That’s what I experienced. Everything seemed fine – a nice, cohousing community. Soon I got a sense of deep secrets. Before you know it, many agreed to something completely ridiculous.  They even said they didn’t want outsiders but the outsiders I did speak to said, and I quote, “That’s fucking crazy.”  So note to self : be ware of groups that don’t want you to confer with outsiders and stick with your gut of what is wrong or right, though cults quickly make you dependent on them and break that part of you that listens to yourself.

The other cult movie this week surprised me. It popped up on my Netflix feed. I had never heard of this sex cult which sold an orgasim as a religion. Brilliant marketing idea and they made billions.  The story was the same as every other cult documentary – it was amazing at first. They lived and breathed each other and grew personally. Then some doubts, but worse, looking back they see how the charismatic leader had broken them down.  This cult, One Taste, pressured their members to sell and unfortunately, used sex to sell and some didn’t want to do these favors.  That got the attention of the FBI and they are under investigation. The movie, Orgasm Inc, will be a hit I”m sure since it has graphic scenes (blurred out but still) and the intincing story of wondering how did people ever agree to this?  I hope it is starting to be clear – cults are wonderful – at first!  Very smart people join them and it takes some big event to yank them out, unfortunately. 

Posted in group think and cults, movies about neighbors or community, psychopathy, narcissicism, and personality disorders in cohousing, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

an article from down under

I think, it’s from Australia. It’s funny how they have to criticize those who want to live in a “box.” But it is accurate – if you are living in cohousing, you have to be open to many decisions being made as a group. Small decisions like what color to paint the steps, to big ones, like fixing the sinking floor under the Common House fridge – it could take a long time and many emails and meetings. I was surprised at my old cohousing that the fact that one woman asked for people not to walk in her backyard area after dark was questioned by a man. Really? That is a group decision also? Patience is key to community living.

But, if you want community and fun, there are other options. My sister just got a beach place and they have a fun committee that plans pickleball clinics and other activities. All the fun and none of the long, boring meetings!

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-10-31/rural-landsharing-and-cohousing-australian-property-market/101457812

Posted in control and decision making in cohousing, other blogs and websites | 3 Comments

Candyman and Housing

I was at a Halloween party this weekend and they had B movies in the background. Then, they switched it to Candyman.  I noticed right away that the dialogue and the visual shots were all about housing – affordability, projects, and social justice. I only watched up until one slashing and then moved outside to the bonfire. 

It caught my attention so I watched the whole movie yesterday.  I usually don’t watch scary movies (they cause insomnia) but I was fascinated and it didn’t look too scary (it has a few jump scares but you can close your eyes for the gross stuff).  I was right – it is about housing and social justice. It literally has  shots where you see large buildings in the background and abandoned projects in the foreground. Even one killing pans out to show the regentrified building where the victim lives.

So, horror films aren’t for everyone but it is Halloween time. Like other Jordan Peele films, it isn’t just about horror.  I will admit that when the cat bumped the door last night I did think it was Candyman.

Looking for an image I found this interesting article. Apparently, the original Candyman movie was also about housing. This article discusses the reality in Chicago (where the new film is set).

https://www.chicagotribune.com/opinion/commentary/ct-perspec-flashback-cabrini-green-candyman-public-housing-austen-0819-20180815-story.html

Posted in movies about neighbors or community, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment