Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Validation Day

When I talk about Twin Oaks Community, I still say 'we'. A part of me is still there I think. I still have dear friends still living at Twin Oaks. I talk about life there because communal living is rich in lessons on how to live more sustainably, the importance of art and activism in daily life and sharing resources. I have given many talks on Twin Oaks and workshops on Creating Healthy Culture, and one of the stories I find myself telling over and over again, is about the culture at Twin Oaks. One overt hijacking of popular culture at Twin Oaks is Validation Day. 
Tomorrow (in the Southern Hemisphere) is February 14th, Valentines Day. At Twin Oaks, it's Validation Day. 
A few weeks ago communards signed up to make cards for each other. These are no ordinary cards. They are works of art, many pages long. The cards sit in a box in Zhankoye, the main kitchen/dining/living room building, and people take time to write messages of validation in each one. The idea is that even if two people have been clashing over business decisions or personal issues they can still access things they value about the other person. Life is busy and lived full-tilt at Twin Oaks, I reckon one year in the commune is worth three in the outside world, and it is easy to let the months and years roll by without stopping to reflect and really appreciate fellow communards. Even those you share a house with. 

Tomorrow night there will be a glorious feast and after everyone has eaten and gathered in the main dining room an MC will read excerpts out of Validation Day cards and the crowd makes wild guesses about whose card it is. Then the recipient goes up to collect their card. It's touching and fun and is the perfect lead up to the Validation Day party later that night. Folks get dressed up, the kissing booth may make an appearance, there is a dating game for those who want to be involved. Wild dancing ensues. Quite possibly to an in-house band. There are about 100 people resident at Twin Oaks, plus visitors and various ex-members stopping by so it's no small thing. 

I have one surviving Validation Day card and it's one of my most treasured possessions. I pulled it out this week and realised it's the best of antidotes to impostor syndrome. It made me miss my tribe there. And the land. I look forward to taking my boy one day. I'm not into the commercialism of Valentine's Day but I miss Validation Day. 

Also, an aside - Two of the most amazing people I know were born on February 14th. Happy Birthday Tobias and Willow! 

Saturday, February 10, 2018

The aftermath of floods

This time last week I was up to my knees in silt and debris at a friends place, cleaning up after a big flood. The stream in their valley broke it's banks. Those banks are at least 2-3 metres high. It was impressive. Cars got swamped, houses went under and my friend's half-pipe skateboard ramp was picked up, moved 5 metres and smashed into two pieces. The power of the water is awe-inspiring, and upsetting for those whose lives get caught up in it. Community spirit was out in force the next day though, with people turning up with tools and trailers to help clean up. That was pretty cool.

It made me realise how much energy I spent preparing for flooding, keeping an eye on the stream levels and cleaning up debris after floods at our old house. The stream was a joy most of the time, but it was only a few metres from the front door. Both of us are still deeply sad to have been moved on from our old place (it's now an Air bnb) but I won't miss the floods. One of the perks to living in our little house on the hill. No floods and oh, the sunsets!

The weather packed it in again today. We're back on cyclone alert with massive rainfall expected. We've gone from unusually high summer temperatures - up into the thirties, centigrade - to our usual twenties and the humidity is sky high. My least favourite weather. Our outing got cancelled today and we ended up mooching at home. Which was perfect. I was out at a concert on Friday night and the boy was sleeping over at a friends house in town. We were texting back and forth at 1am, with the younger of us unable to get to sleep. A bit of restful mooching time at home was just the thing this morning. We visited some friends in the afternoon and delivered dinner and freshly baked ginger biscuits to another friend whose very unwell. It was just the right ratio of mooch:peopling. I hope your Sunday was all you needed too.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Taking stock

Taking inspiration from Pip (over HERE) in taking stock:

Making: the Fen dress. Longsleeved this time, in a navy linen I’ve had stashed for the just the right pattern. 

Cooking :
lasagne. The ingredients were out on the bench but we stayed too long at the beach (again) yesterday so it was a late night cooking session and dinner is made for tonight. I am amused at how happy I am to already have dinner sorted at 2.51pm.

Drinking :
Corona beer with lemon wedge on the deck while watching the sunset -last night.

Marie Kondo’s ‘The life-changing art of tidying up. Which will make some people laugh. I finally succumbed to the hype after I read an inspiring quote and I learned it was pulled from her book. I’m on page two.

Next read:I want to finish Jamie Catto’s book, Insanely Gifted. I met him years ago in France and now Stephen Fry says he adores him. The man is wise, in a real sort of a way. 

Wanting: to own my own home one day. To quote my son: Renting in NZ means you are only ever three months away from being homeless. 

Looking: forward to the Folk Festival this weekend. A friend and I are on the homepage…can you spot us?

Dar Williams and Voices on the Verge. Comfort music. I love this one.

focus of work life this year. 

for wide open days to write in so I can finish my book without getting distracted. Ha.

Enjoying: summer and epic 3 hour swims with friends.

Waiting: to see what 2018 will bring. Some friends have had a rough entry into 2018 and since last year was a shocker for me, I am intending 2018 to be super duper and awesome. 

Liking: more in real life and less posts on facebook…I had a week off social media over the festive season and got so much writing done and felt so much more my usual positive self. 

about suicide. A much loved friend took her own life last week and I am thinking a lot about what kind of friend I am and how I can be a better friend.  

$1.50 rock melons and $2 blueberry punnets – yup, still raving about them.

Pondering: the unkindness that is rampant on social media and how I can make my peace with that.

Considering: just how much work raising an orphaned baby hedgehog is.

Buying: summer fruit and a new Bare Minerals mascara, my last one cracked all the down the side. So annoying, those things usually last me ages. 

Watching: DVD’s. So oldschool I know, but we are on community internet with only 40GB a month so no streaming for us. I just watched Hidden Figures.

Next watch:
Ladybird. A local screening. Can’t wait!

Hoping: To finish writing a chapter by this weekend. 

at our joint 2018 visioning – it’s up on the wall. The ten-year old put ‘kitten’ and a 'big screen TV’ up there amongst all the other other good stuff. 

at Mike Hosking. He was being hideous about Te Reo Maori. 

Needing: a hug.

Questioning: whether I could be a public person. I went public with a project recently and got a death threat within an hour. 

Roses. I associate that scent with my nana – it always, always makes me feel better. 

: a sundress over my togs (that’s swimsuit to you northern hemisphere folks!). I bought this dress off trademe and people always comment when I wear it. It’s a keeper. 

the breeze in the house. We're in a heatwave. 

Worrying: a lot. And trying not to dammit.

Noticing: the mynah birds have stopped nesting en masse every evening near my house. They were so loud but I had gotten used to them chattering. Now the silence is loud. 

Knowing: I need to up my game in the cooking/meals department. One of these evenings when we get back from the beach late and I whip up another superfast meal my son is going to say ‘when can we go back to having proper dinners again?’ and I will feel stink. Like I did last summer and the summer before. Hence the lasagne.

Thinking: about a new business idea that’s been popping up for years and won’t go away

Pip’s new shiny green birkenstocks. So chirpy!

Sorting: a box of office stuff that was still waiting for my attention since we moved 6 months ago. Ahem. 

quite a bit of work and reading done at skateparks this summer.

Bookmarking: The only bookmarking I do these days is manual. And it’s usually a decidedly unclassy receipt or library print out used as a book mark. Like, in an actual book. I do have a bunch of books on my kindle. Both me and my son have kindles but both admit to loving books more. He loves the smell of books, I love the heft of them.

Coveting: THESE! I do love clogs. And these are a happy mustard colour. I rest my case.

Disliking: Unkindness and downright meanness. And really disliking how much of it I was seeing on social media. 

Opening: the window. It’s a hot summers evening. Thank goodness for screens on the window too. I can see 5 zillion mosquitoes and none of them can get in, mwah ha ha!

Giggling: at animal antics. There are a bunch of them running around here.

Feeling: content after an afternoon on the beach with friends, which makes a nice change from sad, which is how I am waking up every morning. 

on chocolate which some lovely person left on my doorstep with some flowers a few days ago. Phoenix the dog found it first, but luckily I discovered his deceit before he’d eaten it. 

Cicada’s and the distant roar of the surf.

Here's a template so you can take stock too, if you'd like:

Making :
Cooking :
Drinking :
Next read:
Next watch:

Monday, January 22, 2018

summer tote

I was hanging out with the amazing Alia Bland of Little Bee the other day.  I told her about the happy shirt I made as part of my plan to wrestle 2018 into being a great year, and she told me her theory. She reckons wearing bright colours just helps. With everything. Makes you more cheerful, influences your mood. You only have to look through her work to see Alia's love of colour.  I used to wear a lot of bright colours but somehow the dark colours have crept in. When my son was little he used to complain when I wore all black and would beg me to change. 
I have a thing for textiles, especially handwoven ones and couldn't resist this fabric when it was on sale at Spotlight a few months ago. I am very rarely in that store, but had nipped in to buy sewing machine needles and couldn't resist a quick look at the sales table. I had the ideal fabric in my stash for the lining and a new tote for summer whipped up nicely. 
Lots to be happy about now!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

The book with a $0.00 price tag

Have you seen this book? It was pretty trippy finding it on the shelf of the airport bookshop. It's price tag states $0.00. You decide how much to pay. The guy before me paid $1000! (I didn't pay that much.) It's Chapter one - You have the power to change stuff, by Daniel Flynn, one of the founders of Thank you in Australia. Sales are tracked on their website. Check it out! 
It's an honest account of how they persevered and built their Thank You empire - inspiring, frank, funny and all that passion and youthful stubborn determination is so refreshing. Plus the book is printed landscape, rather than the usual portrait style, which messes with people's heads on public transport, so extra entertainment there!