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Breaking the ‘WEe’ Free from Ennui

Call it what you will–writer’s block, depression, despair…apathy, overwhelm–it always boils down to the same essential thing: FEAR.

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear. (Dune, Frank Herbert)

The essence is this:  fear is an emotion.  Emotions do indeed have outcomes very much like, or in physics terminology “have tendencies” interpret-able as energy.  The fact is:  we choose.  In each and every moment we choose the direction these emotions will go, whether it be joy or horror, delight or anger, only we have the power to harness and direct the flow.  Whether we choose to direct the flow inwards, creating distress, misery, self-pity...ennui, or outwards into road rage, micromanagement, therapy…artistic pursuits–the choice lies within each individual.

By the same token, we assign value judgments to even the emotions themselves–take a look at that last sentence, the terms used to describe inward and outward manifestations–what sort of emotional ‘charge’ do each of these bring up, for you?  Road rage, for instance, may commonly be associated with violent actions against other drivers, and perhaps a warning sign that there may be some other underlying individual anger issues.  What if, however, road rage is in fact a manifestation of something on a larger scale than one or two people?  Like any other societal outcome, I believe that our streets are conduits for stress, anxiety, and indeed anger–and our personal behavior while on them is not always entirely within our individual control–except, of course, for the choice to simply not go there…often, which is my preference!

On the contrary, our interpretation of ‘artistic pursuits’ might, on the surface, be more ‘positive’–bringing to mind music,  painting, and poetry or prose.  As in everything, there is a balance, however–the Yang to the Yin, each containing a small bit of the other–it is what makes the wheel turn.  Sometimes, it may even manifest on the opposite side of the spectrum–what if, for instance, someone’s idea of ‘art’ involved throwing live people off of a building? I knew an artist once who repeatedly threatened to throw himself from a tenth-story window onto a canvas, and writers often refer to their art as ‘opening a vein’ or ‘bleeding on the page’ (oh, wait–maybe it was me that said that–but I’m sure others have as well!).  Here is my segue into ‘wee!’…it’s all about balance, baby–and therein lies the ‘oui‘.

One of the perhaps unforeseen aspects of modern society and our migration to urban areas–not to mention the advances in technology which have led, not to better communication or ‘social networking’, but often mis-communication and anti-social behavior or mindset–is separation.  We have moved closer together in body, while space is created in mind and spirit.  This, like road-rage, is a symptom of imbalance in the system on the whole.  Our job is too remove ourselves from the energetic influence, if necessary, to find and restore balance, so as not to further offset the bigger picture.  Ours is not a static system–it is ever-changing, evolving, constantly in motion.  the only way to establish personal balance is to step off the train–exhilarating, and perhaps dangerous.

Runaway Feedback Loop

Unplugging means to take a mental, emotional, and often physical step away from what we have come to view as the ‘norm’.  To do so requires a conscious choice–just as we make a choice, whether unconsciously or not, to step or stay in fear, we also choose to step away again.  Sometimes it is helpful to have a practice, or ritual, to remind us that we wish to step off the runaway train–call it damage control, if you will.

The video I chose to feature here is long-ish, and I will readily admit that exceeds my own personal limits of attention…ordinarily.  The reason I have included this is because it does make an important statement about the impact of a ‘pause’.  Sometimes the best next step…is no step.


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Scared Economics: The Emergence of the Entreprenurtureist [Alternatively titled: “Fear and Loathing in Finance”]

You may say it is just good luck that things work out so well: the trees don’t care about watering the plants around them—they are in it for themselves, maximizing their chances to survive and reproduce. That they nourish other beings is an unintended side-effect. The same for the algae, for the nitrogen-fixing bacteria, and for the bacteria inside ruminants that allow them to digest cellulose. This world, you might think, is everyone for himself. Nature is a cutthroat competition, and an economy that is the same is natural too. (Chris Eisenstein, “Sacred Economics”)

In permaculture we talk a lot about ‘guilds’, which are often confused with polycultures, or the term is stained with historical mis-use or mis-interpretation.  Traditional human guilds evolved into closed networks, where admittance was less community oriented and more likened to ‘The Godfather’ than any natural system.   The infamous Freemasons are a great example of this—now a worldwide organization which began as a trade guild—the masons, who built the great cathedrals of Europe evolved into an exclusive, rather than inclusive culture.  This is the important distinction between what we people have created historically as ‘guilds’, and what nature nurtures:  hierarchy vs. a naturally balanced system which evolves based on mutual respect, appreciation, and facilitation, to the betterment of all.

ElephantBathingThe elephant in the room seems to be how to create this environment, which is accessible to all, inclusive of all, and which promotes the ‘fair share’ or ‘return of surplus’ at the core of permaculture ethics.  This rather ponderous creature also mucks about in the current economy of the U.S. in what I have come to think of as ‘Scared Economics’—born in a culture which worships ‘success’ in terms of the acquisition of stuff at the expense of time and creative or artistic pursuits–the waters teem with risk and fear.  Fed a steady diet from birth of ‘more’ means ‘better’, the typical American these days has become lulled into a sense of entitlement and complacency.  As population increases, so does isolation and absence of community.  Our society has become as fractured as the shale under our feet.  Rather than seeking ways of being independent of energy-sucking contraptions such as SUV’s and mounting heaps of petroleum products manufactured for no better reason than ‘convenience’, we have now turned to wreaking further havoc in the bowels of the earth—as if it weren’t enough to raze the top layers.  One of the big lessons in permaculture is connectivity, you see—we know that there is a reason that shale is there, deep in the ground—carbon is generally a filter, and Mother Nature put it there, not to be exploited by greedy and ignorant oil companies, but to create a healthy environment for plants, animals, and people to flourish on the surface.  So let’s just go ahead and crush that filter to extract something which we already know has caused irreversible damage on our air, the atmosphere, our climate —sure, why not throw in the destruction of water and earth as well?  And for what?  “To reduce our dependence on foreign oil’?  There’s an oxymoron for ya—the country which invented the “War on Drugs” uses the same terminology of addictive behavior to justify our junkie-like energy habits.

What she does when cleaning needs to be done...

All thanks and credit to Ralph Steadman for the original artwork

But, I digress—the intention here was not to rant about fracking, it was to address the mindset which allows it—the skewed logic which has farmers buying in to these ill-conceived schemes on the basis that they can continue their farming ‘habit’—that’s the way we regard people in this country who supply, or should be supplying our sustenance, it is something which is not profitable, not sustainable, therefore not worth our collective energy to support.  Why should we grow fruit here, when it’s so cheap in Mexico?  So, what we are saying is:  it is more important to us to support huge corporate entities, ones which are continuing to do irreversible damage to our home, than it is to find a way of supporting an industry which is the backbone of the country—one which feeds us, clothes us, and shelters us…or did, until we chose to look elsewhere for these essentials.  Insanity, indeed, is rampant in this country.

Where does fear come into this scenario?  Is this not the epitome of “Fear and Loathing in Food Production”?  Conspiracy theories aside, how does it make sense to dis-credit those who provide our nutrients, while at the same time feeding the fire-breathing dragon which is razing the countryside and terrorizing its citizens, whether or not they recognize the beast for what it really is?   What are we really so afraid of?

In conversations I’ve had with many people who are in or approaching ‘subsistence’ lifestyle—those who have come to question the mores of our society–the fears tend to cluster around two themes:  food and healthcare—both inextricably intertwined.  The solution here is simple:  we must learn to nurture the nurturers—rather than feeding virgins to the dragon, why not cultivate the very entrepreneurial mindset which makes us Americans seek this “Dream” of freedom, by seeing it for what it is—not some pipe-dream of consumerism, but the ability to make our choices about what we eat, how we grow our food, where our dollar is spent.  In this climate the entreprenurturist is born, and can thrive—here we find the person with not only the will and capacity to create something from nothing, but that key ingredient this country was founded on:  self-reliance.  Ask yourself: ‘what would I do, if I had just a little more time?’  Then, give it—give it to one of those bright lights who have come to question their future.  Watch them flower.

What do we feed this rare creature, how do we care for it?  The same way we would parent a child or coax a seed into maturation:  protect it from the boot poised to trample it–give it light, space…and most of all:  kindness…compassion…love.  Room to grow.

fear&loathing

We can all make a difference—make yours a good one:  Be the Change.

 


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Update on the Court Case for Casa Seranita and Growing Food in Pinellas County

Already things have changed since the arraignment on August 8th (who knew? I had to actually enter a plea–this is, like…Real Court). The actual court date is September 5th, same place, 9:30AM. I am asking for your continued support, and whether you choose to attend court or not, please do sign the petition.
IMG_20140813_105539

In the past few days, since the arraignment, several things have come to fruition–first, that my family has now moved in to Casa Seranita, and that the new location for our community garden project has begun ‘breaking ground’: T’s Market on the border of Palm Harbor and Dunedin. With these two simple steps, I and my properties are 100% compliant, regardless of any ambiguities in any code.

IMG_20140813_114041

 

I have also learned some things about these codes–such as I may have been completely within my rights to begin with (see:  ambiguity), since the residents of the house at the time the initial violations were reported were involved in the project.  Not only that, but the whole project completely falls within the reasonable boundaries of what is defined as ‘special exceptions’.

I also learned that I may lose my tooth, due to the knashing caused by undue stress, and that I am too exhausted to do much of anything outside of plan my curriculum and dig in the dirt…which…is fine.  Sometimes we need to take the time to focus on our own healing–maybe so we don’t end up like Robin Williams, whose death this week added one more sadness to an already overburdened soul-plate.  Monday was also my late mother’s birthday–she w225437_10150233817406554_4152649_nould have been 78, had she not succumbed to what I still believe was a slow form of suicide–death by pesticides.   This is one of those things I do not share often, but perhaps it is appropriate
 at this time–this woman inspired so much of what I do, including the name of “Casa SerAnita“, because of who she was–her strong moral values and convictions (not the same kind I may have!), and her appreciation of people–she was a people watcher, observer extraordinaire.  Unlike Gladys Kravitz, however, she would never have ‘tattled’ on her neighbors, she knew only compassion.  May I learn to have her compassion without being crushed by the world for it!

 

am·bi·gu·i·ty
ˌambiˈgyo͞o-itē/
noun
noun: ambiguity; plural noun: ambiguities
  1. uncertainty or inexactness of meaning in language.
    “we can detect no ambiguity in this section of the Act”
    synonyms: vagueness, obscurity, abstruseness, doubtfulness, uncertainty; More

     
    1. a lack of decisiveness or commitment resulting from a failure to make a choice between alternatives.
      “the film is fraught with moral ambiguity”
       
       


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The Home of Serenity

It’s 4:24 AM, and I’ve been awake since before 3AM, pondering life, the nearly full moon, and the phenomenon of the mouthguard which refuses to stay in my mouth while I sleep.  Mostly, only on nights such as this one, when, try as I might, I cannot meditate away the monkeys chattering in my brain, sleep eludes me and knashing of teeth disturbs what little rest I find.  My teachers tell me that this is all an illusion, the ‘problems’, the conflicts which seem to manifest as physical realities are, in fact, a reflection of my own mind, and I believe them—I do.  I pray for peace, knowing that when my mind is still, the world is not such a bad place.  And yet, I fret.

Yesterday, (which is now last week, since I failed to finish this post until now), I found myself thrown into chaos by the receipt of three pieces of paper.  These innocuous forms, printed in triplicate, state that I am, according to the County in which I reside, the county that I am the fourth generation of my family to own property, work and pay taxes in, a criminal.  My great-grandparents would be proud, would they not?

Alfred and Maggie moved to the County of Pinellas in 1962, a year after I was born, right around the same time that we were returning from Germany, where my father was stationed and where I was born on an Army base.  Alfred and Maggie were modest people, shopkeepers from upstate New York who moved South, as many did and still do, to enjoy their golden years in sunshine.  They had grapefruit trees, which Maggie would climb a ladder to tend into her nineties.

Maggie had one son, and he and his wife, retired schoolteachers, built their home in the then-new neighborhood in which I have lived longer than any other place in over fifty years—in 1972, theirs was one of 29 homes built, to add to the 135 built since 1958.  In 1977, they helped my mother purchase a house one block over, when her marriage and the transient life of the military, ended.  This house is the one which is now known as ‘Casa Seranita’:  the home of elusive serenity–for my mother Anita, until her early demise in 2001.  This is the property which the County has deemed inappropriate for use as a teaching facility or a demonstration garden.  This is the home of two citations for misconduct earning me an appearance in court next month.  The criminal courthouse, where I have been only once in over thirty years to serve for jury duty, is seven miles from where the prior three generations of my family are all buried.  I am as close to a Florida ‘Native’ as most white folks can be—my daughter was even born in Tampa.

Why so much detail on local family history?  Because, for nearly as long as I have lived, at least one family member has been paying property and sales taxes in Pinellas County.  That’s over fifty years and thousands of dollars per year.  I personally have owned and paid taxes on not just one, but five properties in the past ten years alone.  That is quite a sum, all told.  Certainly more than I have paid for anything else, other than mortgages–and it has bought me, not appreciation, but criminal justice.

I could spend a lot of time pondering the ‘why’s of this situation, and I have—questions like “Why is it necessary to make citizens feel like criminals, or to treat them as if they are, when the infraction is pretty much a difference in opinion about what a yard should look like?” Here, we live in a state where the water tables are in such peril that a dry spell causes sinkholes to swallow homes, and where the contingency plan for salt water intrusion is, well, that it will—intrude, that is.  And yet, those of us who choose to educate not only ourselves, but others as well, on such “Florida Friendly” practices as rain water catchment, conservative water usage, and Xeriscaping are often labeled as some kind of pariah?

Justice, indeed.  We shall see whether there is any such thing, on August 8th, 2014.  Please, do come along, and let your voice be heard—I certainly intend to share my feelings, along with graphs, charts, petitions, photos…perhaps an example or an attorney or two!

jailbird

 


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Inner Peace and Passion of the Vine

Hope is passion for what is possible.
Søren Kierkegaard

sur·ren·der

[suhren-der]  Show IPA

verb (used with object)

  1. to yield (something) to the possession or power of another; deliver up possession of on demand or under duress: to surrender the fort to the enemy; to surrender the stolen goods to the police.
  2. to give (oneself) up, as to the police.
  3. to give (oneself) up to some influence, course, emotion, etc.: He surrendered himself to a life ofhardship.
  4. to give up, abandon, or relinquish (comfort, hope, etc.).
  5. to yield or resign (an office, privilege, etc.) in favor of another.

verb (used without object)

  1. to give oneself up, as into the power of another; submit or yield.

noun

  1. the act or an instance of surrendering.
  2. Insurance. the voluntary abandonment of a life-insurance policy by the owner for any of its nonforfeiture values.
  3. the deed by which a legal surrendering is made.

Origin: 
1425–75;  (v.) late Middle English surrendren  < Anglo-French surrender, Old French surrendre  to give up,equivalent to sur- sur-1  + rendre  to render; (noun) < Anglo-French; Old French surrendre,  noun use of theinfinitive

 

What maypopdo hope, passion and surrender have in common?  Why, the lowly yet lovely Passion Flower and fruit, of course!  This blog began with a “Maypop” flower, and over the course of the past two years I’ve watched my own vine grow, flower, and finally fruit this year.  My ‘homestead’ yard has begun to function and have the look of a true food forest, and the only items I now purchase from the store on a regular basis are coffee, milk (non-dairy), gluten-free flour, and cat food.  Oh, and wine—thus, my trips to the store are often punctuated by wry commentary on my ‘food’ choices…which, of course, I have to engage the cashier in conversation about my garden, because who wants to make the ‘crazy cat lady’ thing that obvious, really?

What about ‘surrender’, you ask?  That’s a wee bit more complex, and may I draw your attention to the first words of the definition above:  “to yield” and “to give”.  In permaculture we often speak in terms of yield—only it’s usually the outcome kind—here is an opportunity to explore the other kind of yield—the kind which could feel like ‘submit’ if not taken in proper context.  A couple of scenarios to illustrate:

  • Bully at school accosts you to forfeit your lunch money—
    your choices:

o   You surrender the money, and either go hungry or rely upon the kind
ness of strangers to feed you; or

o   You refuse, he beats you up, and takes the money anyway; or

o   You run, fast, to the principle’s office, in hopes of discouraging further graft.

Potential yields:

o   Hunger, perhaps a new friend or two, certainly a little wisdom.

o   A black eye.

o   School reputation as a ‘tattle-tale’, perhaps a spot on the track team.

 

So, what’s the point I’m trying to make here?  Maybe there is none, maybe this is just a rambling rant designed to clear my own head and it has absolutely no bearing on anyone else.  Or, perhaps I am still poking a stick at the concept of ‘surrender’, because, see—here’s the rub:  all of my spiritual friends will tell you that surrender is the way to peace, and they could be right—I mean, it’s certainly not very peaceful to allow a 2 ton machine to run over your body as it lies prone in the way of something deemed ‘progress’ by the dominant culture.  And yet, it’s no more peaceful to comply with rules which simply no longer make sense—ones that do more harm than good.

Here’s where I’m going to break in and interrupt my own musings, in order to shed some light on what brought me to here:  my dentist.  More specifically—the situation which took me to my dentist, which by the time I got there had me convinced I had a brain tumor, or something else equally as unpleasant.  I love my dentist, even if I can’t pronounce her first name—she said: “Good news!” and gave me high dose Ibuprofen, muscle relaxers, and a mouth guard.  Apparently, the stress of avoiding a ‘battle’ and attempting to comply had led me to grinding my teeth with a vengeance while I slept.

See, sometimes when we ‘try’ not to fight, we’re still fighting—we just hide it under the veil of our dream life.

IMG_20140523_173531IMG_20140521_153536100_6286

So, I let go—it took about a week, but I slowly relinquished the grip I had on what ‘must be’, and took down the bloody Warka that had the county code enforcement officer, zoning director, engineering department, and god-only-knows who else in apparent chaos.  It just.wasn’t.worth.the.stress.  It needs a new home, my lily warka—I’m not giving up on the concept, because it is a good one—but, perhaps this slightly above-per-capita-average-income county is not quite ready for such innovations.  Yet.

For now, I am taking the advice of some very evolved people:

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Peaceful Egg-in-a-Basket Breakfast

“Don’t give your energy, time, & attention to anyone with a clear investment in drama, victimhood & negativity. Be an atmosphere that evokes transformation & healing. Stop trying to “change” people who have taken out a mortgage in misery. The best way to impact change is by the example of our living. Meet people where they are, not where you are…and know that where they are is perfect on their unique path, and know that this does not make you better, special or greater than them or where they are with themselves…different not better. No one escapes the work that their soul came to do, so no need to police & judge. See them as Whole, separate the behavior from the Being and be clear we live in a Universe of Love, Perfect Order, & Harmony…surrender will restore harmony to chaos. Trust the Process and do not be fooled by appearances. See beyond circumstance and condition…let people BE. Stop trying to “rescue” people. Saving people is a conversation of your E.G.O…Save your self. Empower those that are open to your support and keep strong boundaries from toxic energy.
Be compassionate and exercise discernment with people…trust and yet still be wise. Serve people, don’t fix them, they are not broken…simply they have fallen asleep…you can’t want for another more than they want for themselves. Be the best you, that is the greatest gift you can offer the world.”  ~Judah Isvaran

Namaste

 

Read the Permaculture Principles Series:

Introduction:  ”Unplugging”

  1. Observe and Interact
  2. Catch and Store Energy
  3. Obtain a Yield
  4. Apply Self-Regulation and Accept Feedback
  5. Use and value renewable resources and services
  6. Produce no waste
  7. Design from patterns to details
  8. Integrate rather than segregate
  9. Use small and slow solutions
  10. Use and value diversity
  11. Use edges and value the marginal
  12. Creatively use and respond to change

 

© Loretta Buckner, 2014, We Grow From Here

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Loretta Buckner and WeGrowFromHere.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.