Living in Community: A Dream

Last week I misplaced my thyroid meds and missed taking them for several days. I knew the effects of going off of antidepressant meds cold turkey. I’ve experienced it. Not a fun time. I did not expect to have mood and emotional issues as a result of going off the thyroid meds. Totally silly of me, in retrospect. After all, it’s all connected: mind, body, spirit.

By the third or fourth day, I was drained and exhausted, crabby, impatient, and irritable. Of course that was the day my little Princess Tomboy had the day off from school and being off her schedule was discombobulating to her. Since LaLa and her SpiritLove and their Moonchild are living with us, as well as a friend of theirs who is sometimes here while she’s working to find housing for herself in between her work shifts, I had planned to take PT out early to get her hair cut, visit Playland, and then take her out to her grandmother’s so that her father wouldn’t have to come all the way out here to pick her up after work and to avoid all the chaos of trying to keep her energy contained. The difficulty was that I was completely out of sorts and, despite my best efforts and intentions, it was not a good mommy day for me.

I was not fit for human company and desperately in need of respite.

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Inner dissonance
Best self fighting lower self
Breathe in Grace and Love

There are so many families in multiple levels of distress: financial, physical health, mental health, in relational isolation, lacking experience, knowledge, and understanding of how to take care of anything other than day to day survival. So many people coming from backgrounds and histories of trauma, abuse, neglect, and poverty who, like myself, have overdeveloped crisis management responses and survival skills, but lack the ability to sustain healthy self-care habits due to overwhelm and exhaustion. It’s so very often a case of the blind leading the blind and the sick and wounded trying to care for those who are in the same battlefield triage.

So many of us are lost in our sense of inadequacy and lack, falsely believing in the lies we’ve learned to believe about our inabilities, impostorship, and fear of failure.

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Fear of the unknown
Success changes everything
Uncharted waters

Back when I was young, full of fire, hope, energy, and knowledge – don’t we all know what’s wrong with the world and how to fix it when we’re in our twenties? – I had to write a policy paper for a college writing class. I came up with an idea for a program to serve teen parents and their families. I called it Transitional and Community Living for Pregnant and Parenting Teens. Now, I know and understand that it’s something needed by many families, not just those headed by teen parents.

The issues facing so many families today, which correlate and combine to make it feel next to impossible to do more than survive moment by moment are numerous. Lack of basic life skills:
• Parenting: attachment, nurture, discipline
• Nutrition: menu planning, meal preparation
• Budgeting: shopping, saving, prioritizing wants vs needs
• Cleaning & organizing
• Job search: resume writing, filling out applications, interviewing, follow-up

Often things like unidentified and untreated mental and emotional health issues get in the way of those who find themselves living crisis-oriented lives. As our society has mobilized, compartmentalized, and has destabilized from earlier community interdependence models, we’ve become more isolated and fractured within the teeming urban centers so many are born and come of age in.

My idea is to establish a synergistic community where families in crisis can have a chance to stabilize, learning from and teaching each other, while accessing services and education in order to become equipped and capable of sustaining stability within the context of the larger community.

Establish centers of “mixed” socio-economic housing where everyone is going through individualized assessments to identify strengths and needs and working together from the different strengths to support the needs of all, while everyone has opportunities to learn, heal, recover, and grow.

A place where different service organizations, educational institutions, health care providers, and employers work cooperatively to build up the the people working in and being served by them.

Stabilize housing, transportation, health care (mental and physical), education, and vocational training through mutually supportive relationships and I suspect that societal ills like domestic violence, addiction, criminal behavior, and other symptoms of dysfunction and maladjustment would begin to diminish. Once basic security needs are met, creating and building opportunities for people to learn skills like cooking, gardening, child care, elder care, and self-care will enable them to grow in confidence, trust, and communication. With this foundation, personal exploration and development becomes possible.

Start with a campus that has dorms, studios, family group homes, and apartments. Provide opportunities for communal gardening, food preparation, and dining. On-site case management and advocacy services as well as therapeutic opportunities for individuals and groups with trained and certified child, adolescent, and adult development specialists providing child care and family supports in place so each family member is being served. Using the Family Unity Model to obtain inter-agency cooperation for families engaged and involved in different programs attached to different services: Justice, DHS, Vocational Rehab, and the myriad other programs that conflict and overwhelm or leave gaps and cracks that people fall through.

Engage institutions of higher education to establish internships, practicums, and supervision of students seeking higher education degrees to live, learn, and grow within the context of the community they are serving.

Establish pay-it-forward, give back to the community opportunities at each level of progression with mentorship, peer counseling, and community outreach programs and opportunities.

Provide respite, rest, and recharge opportunities for all stakeholders: participants, volunteers, and staff.

This is my dream.

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Join hands together
Living in community
Thriving families

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