Friday, October 23, 2015

Judging, What Does It Mean?

"A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people."

John F. Kennedy

Recently it’s been brought to my attention that I’m judgmental and this post is to apologize to those I have judged.  Apparently going down the road of collapse made me look at people differently and dislike those who carried on as if life would always be the same, living as if it didn’t matter how.

It’s interesting because I don’t remember being judgmental when I was growing up and I can’t say I remember my parents being so, although they didn’t like people taking advantage of the system.

Living my life in the past meant fitting in with the majority.  Working full time for a large utility company deemed it necessary to “fit in” and one of my appraisal strong points was “gets along with others”.

Then, I had no reason for judging in the same sense that I would do so today.  Maybe it was my naivety, age and/or the need to be liked (though the latter I still struggle with) that made me want to “fit in”.  Not that I’m saying it’s right to judge today or that there is justification for doing so but I’m now needing to understand the change that took place within me.

In our struggle to find others whom we may live with, we have changed, along with our ad(s).  Depending on communication with the many contacts we have had, we added to, took from and sometimes completely eliminated our ad.  Totally frustrated at times we gave up the idea of building relationships with others, finding our paths/lives had been so different that even though we seek now to live close to the same way, our baggage is there for the ride.

My baggage consists of bitterness, envy and lack of trust.  I’m bitter that when I started down this path, humans couldn’t think about giving up something in their lives so that maybe others perhaps our grandchildren would have a fighting chance, not to mention all the other species.  I’m bitter for the decisions I made then that separated me from loved ones and how little good it did.  I’m envious of the lives that others have lived and the fun that they have experienced, I thought mine would come after 30 years of persevering, but I soon accepted that that too was just another lie. 
Real Life 2015
Smoke filled skies in the Rogue Valley 2015
I come from the age of entitlement, my parents could have sung with Cat Stevens then (Islam Yusef now), “work hard boy and you’ll find, someday you’ll have a job like mine”. 

As a youth, I sometimes was up early enough to kiss my dad goodbye, but even as I slept, I knew the routine.  Mom was up before him making his lunch and getting his breakfast, then dad would put on his shined shoes to go to the factory where he worked to enjoy a weekend off. During the summer one of the weekend days was usually spent at the park/beach where Mom got a little reprieve outside still cooking though, over the Coleman stove.

I don’t ever remember going without, though perhaps my parents did before I was born.  It must have been a hard road to travel living in two different countries with three children, before settling down here in the third one having me.

Much like my dad, I accepted a job that paid well for the late 70’s and I felt lucky.  I hired on at the telephone company when I was 19 and after 25 years I had 5 weeks of paid vacation time, though we didn’t “go places” as others did, most of our vacations were spent relaxing at home where we put our money and time into creating a nest where we both belonged.  Instead we used our money to build garages, have new carpeting installed or painted inside and/or out.  Usually when we did go away, it wasn’t without our tent or tent trailer as camping was inexpensive and we usually didn’t have to go far to enjoy some time hiking in the woods.
We're in the woods now, right outside our back door 2015

Two Bucks, better than one 2015

I’ll never forgot though while living in CO, we took my parents to Central City/Blackhawk, it was my first time gambling.  I hit the $2500 jackpot and before leaving we put a few more bills into the machines but left shortly after with the rest in my purse, using it on a vacation to Hawaii, memories of fun.

Just before reaching my 30 year goal at work, my life became more serious than it had ever been before.  As my story has been told in previous posts, I became more aware of the necessities of life and I learned to let go of most indulgences.  Not that I had many compared to most in this country but collectively we had our fair share.  We purchased the NFL and NHL packages for a few seasons and spent a fair amount of time watching sports. 

I was raised on hockey and enjoyed watching the game with my dad, brothers, boyfriends, daughters and my husband (some of whom couldn’t understand the change in me when I quit watching).  I never missed turning off the cable in 2008 like I thought I would.  Now when I find myself around television, like at the doctor’s office, it makes me feel nauseated to watch the data streaming back and forth across the top and bottom hearing voices that sound alike, repeating the same message.  It’s no wonder why many don’t read anymore as we get most of what we believe through sound bytes and short sentences.  Long articles written above a 12 year old’s ability usually don’t get read. 

We do enjoy watching a good movie/documentary once in a while as well as music dvd’s we’ve collected through the years, though we’ve had more fun laughing while playing cards or board games.  Time is now our indulgence and we try to spend it wisely.  Every now and then we bring George Carlin out for a good laugh, I often wonder what he would think and say if he were here with us today.  I’ve seen him “live” several times and always felt his judging taught me so much about myself.

Sometimes we just listen to some good music while sitting at the table picking mint leaves off the stems and the calendula petals off the blossoms to dry.
 Apple, Peppermint, Spearmint and Chocolate Mint drying 2015
 Also the time of the year for shelling the drying beans.  It's nice to see the jars filled with beautiful colors, just as the trees begin to change theirs.
Colorful bowls of beans 2015
I sometimes feel strange telling people especially other women that I cut my own hair as well as my husbands.  We both went to a beauty college back in Eugene a few years ago, that was probably my first time going to get my hair cut in 15 years and I can’t remember the last time my husband went as I’ve cut his hair for as long as I can remember.  I’ve had one manicure in my life that my daughters paid for, one professional massage from a neighbor since moving here and have never experienced a pedicure.  I realize typing these things how silly I feel because most people in the world haven’t had the luxury of these experiences either.

I mention this in order for you reading, to understand the complexity of finding others who meet my standard of living.  Not only am I judgmental, but I have expectations, which I hate.  Our lives are more of the old fashioned homesteader whose frugality was often viewed as extreme. There are very little complexities with the way we grow food, build the soil, plant the seed and hope for harvest. 

All of our lives we raise and lower the bar to accept what we need to.  Things that we wouldn’t have accepted early in the journey, perhaps today we would as it’s hard to find exactly what were looking for.  My husband now has limited expectations but routine and work ethic is foremost.  It’s about rising early in the summer to get what needs to be done before the temps get above 90 degrees. 

For me it’s about authenticity, and simple understanding of the predicament we’re in.  It’s a respect for the way we live, and having a clear understanding of where the things we need and depend on…come from.  We’ve been told, “you’re more of a homesteader than a farmer” and now I understand what was meant by it.  No, it’s not just about money and making it, it’s about giving and getting. 

Every day I get eggs from our chickens and in return I give them a safe, healthy environment where they can depend on food and water.  Unlike farming, we homesteaders work to produce what we eat, and if any money is raised it goes back into the homestead feeding those who feed us. 

Sometimes the costs exceed the little money we may make but usually we break even and always have fresh eggs to eat.  We have both come to understand that some people appreciate the amount of work, time and resources that go into feeding our chickens and are willing to pay those true costs, but I believe the real understanding comes from doing the work.   It's at least an hours worth of time to clean the coop and usually about six times a year, not to mention the cost of straw to fill it back up again.
From coop to compost 2015
All through the year we enjoy food produced on the property and understand the amount of work it takes to produce it.  We live to enjoy another day where our meals are made mostly from ingredients close to home.
Making tomato leather 2015
Beyond everything else considered to be an expectation when living with others, is a certain comfort one feels with being close.  Living in close proximity to each other is something many have never experienced and it’s not always easy.  Living on rural property we leave the comfort of the inside and carry that outside enjoying a space that allows us to be free of other people.  It’s usually a choice to have visitors, even walking up to the garden.

Burnout and failure to succeed weigh heavy on one’s mind when trying to build community.  We have literally in many ways lived our lives for others with the amount of time spent on narrowing our search for a good fit and it’s hard not to be judgmental when you choose. 

Living and sharing the land with others makes one realize the amount of effort that goes into getting along and without that connection, there is no bond.  We moved onto this property 18 months ago and had come with the notion that we had given up trying to have others live with us.  It was shortly after the cottage was completed that we took a chance on a young guy who a nearby farm recommended.  He was here for 3 months, poached a fawn, killed a couple of turkeys and trashed our newly remodeled cottage.  We were both devastated to say the least and hurt beyond belief.  No more we said…until we received a call.

It’s been a nice transition seeing how well the cottage is cared for and have appreciated the help including getting our greenhouse built.  Dynamics play a huge part when living with another couple and perhaps it’s the fact that we’re all the same age and we’ve lived such different lives.

There is also the fact that we (my husband and I) haven’t spent much time apart in our 37 years.  Probably the most time we’ve spent apart was recently, when I spent 3 weeks with our daughter and son-in-law.  I can’t say I’ve ever met another couple who spends so much time together, we’ve even been told by others how unhealthy it is but generally speaking, it works for us.

Together my husband and I have weathered many storms and grown up as friends.  I was a teenager when we married and had never experienced living out on my own.  We’ve always enjoyed working together and have managed the daily rhythm for years.  We’ve been told in the past, “be careful that the energy of others don’t disrupt what you have.” 

I can only speak for myself when I say I like a certain rhythm, I like when things come together and mesh.  We said when we moved here that it was a good place to die, and if I’m sharing what we’ve worked so hard to enjoy, I want to feel at peace with others on the property, but because I am who I am I’m finding it very hard. I have more expectations now then when we started down this road and I think my husband has less as it was more his idea all along and so wanted it to work.

Unfortunately, we females tend to appease our partners, learning to follow their work, depend on their pay and trust their decisions.  Our life was so different having reversed our roles, I wonder what or if that has to do with the way I feel now.

I’m just too judgmental to live with anyone else, after all this time of ups and downs trying.  I don’t have the same energy that I once had.  I trust what I’ve had to work with for years and that’s enough for me to keep going, it’s good and bad that we’ve learned to live with.

It’s been one of the hardest moves after 13 years, leaving my daughter and granddaughter as well as a dear friend that I’ve waited so long to meet.  I won’t say it compares to the move from our daughters into an “empty nest” but the stresses we’ve been through since living here have topped some of the worse times and I was beginning to look forward to some peace and quiet.

I’m done with prepping to survive in a world that I don’t want to live in, I just want to enjoy what I have in the time left to do it.

Think everyone has passed judgments on others in their lives.  Whether it’s lazy people, big people, gays, lesbians, bankers etc. one is always judging another.  I haven’t traveled this path alone and though my husband is much further ahead in his journey, he has gone through the grief cycles and is now more ready to accept than me.

I stood strong to beliefs that I learned through his knowledge and lost friends and family including 8 lonely years without our daughter that even though she is back in our lives, I’ll never know what memories could have been shared together.
Arches National Park, building memories while seeing beauty 2015
Delicate Arch, Arches National Park, Utah 2015
My last couple of years at work were hell.  I began to put pieces of the puzzle together seeing the companies pit union employee’s against each other and trying to get all of us who were in the same boat to see this.  I felt at times I was back in kindergarten where kids were cruel making fun of each other, I know what its like to be judged.

Fast forward to today, turning your TV off is now seen as “cool” and many are.  Some of the same people who called me judgmental then are now judging others that still watch it.  They argue the same arguments and state the same truths about how they feel now.

I’m trying to “let go” of judging others, looking inward instead, to find other things I can do to help in this journey forward.  I know that sometimes people who see things differently can be our greatest teachers so I try to remain open, it’s when I feel that my moral compass is being turned in a different direction that I struggle to stay on the path.  I remember once a friend telling my husband, “his moral compass was too strong.”  Is this judging or just someone's opinion? 

Maybe Ron Paul has a point about too many laws, I say we remove the stop signs and see how we do with that first, maybe then we’ll understand something about most of us…that we all judge each other every day in many ways.

"I have long since come to believe that people never mean half of what they say,
and that it is best to disregard their talk and judge only their actions."
Dorothy Day