It’s 4:11 PM on a Monday. I’m sitting down at my new living room table drinking a horrifyingly bad cup of coffee. Despite the utter disappointment of my beverage along with the built up anticipation that comes with a new year and a new city, I can’t help but reminisce on my time in the big TX. And so, rather than ending my blog on the random note of a top ten list, I think I’ll provide the closure that I’m sure SO MANY of you were looking for,”When will it end? WHEN???”
All jokes aside, here’s how some things ended up…in BULLET POINTS:
- Back in late January, I organized the first ever statewide Habitat College Conference where student Habitat leaders met for a weekend of advocacy, education, and connection with their fellow Habitat College folk. It was an incredibly special weekend and I feel both proud and humble to have been a part of this experience. See…I did stuff!
- Speaking of stuff, I helped finish up my time at Habitat Texas with our large scale annual education training conference. Zero casualties. Woopdigit.
- During our community time, I facilitated several community discussions about communication and the lost art of democratic debate.
- I devoured my 587th breakfast taco, a feat which generates emotions of pride and…yeah mostly pride.
- I developed tendinitis in my right knee, which along with an MRI and some questionable medical fees (oh it looks like you drove your car past our office last month, that’ll be $89 now) I was off the frisbee field for the rest of my YAV year. I’ll discuss this fun narrative with more detail on my new site.
- While injured, I keenly refocused my efforts, switched sports, and became a 4X darts double’s belt holder at our local tavern. This means something and I can die happy.
- Finally, I successfully left the city of infinite bike lanes, hoppy beer, and newcomer animosity. As a seasoned Austinite, I was getting tired of all of the new people anyways. Ugh, terrible.
A big portion of my time in Austin was concentrated on intentional community, much of which took the form of weekly meetings. During these visits we would engage in material and activities that was of interest, whether it from our coordinator or one of the AYAVA Members. Here’s some reflection pieces of what I took away from these discussions.
Our first item of our agenda for the year was reading Marshall Rosenburg’s, Nonviolent Communication. This work offers constructive and peaceful strategies of navigating through conflict, emphasizing your articulation of your emotions. Rosenberg disproves through the practice of separating our mention from conflict. Rather than stifling our feelings, non-violent communication urges us to cut to the core of conflicts by giving us the tools to clearly express what we feel and how to monitor the judgements we place on others. While expressing our emotions is a tiresome and skeptical act for some, I believe this method is incredibly useful in living honestly and openly. In struggling with expressing my own voice, the resource helped me understand the value of my own needs and emotions, and as I’ve said, gives me the language I need to deliver these emotions at ease with greater clarity. It is not irrelevant that Rosenburg also worked with Carl Rogers, the founder of humanistic counseling. His work resonates with me in both an academic sense and personal sense, and Rosenburg carries Roger’s work on honorably. Even though our community sometimes struggled to adopt its standards, I’ll always remember the value it has bestowed upon my life.
While hard to intake, The New Jim Crow was a resource of vast informational importance, that is of unparalleled relevance to our society at this date and time in the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement. Knowing the historic significance of the corruption, greed, and debilitation of the systemically racist society we live in today was both jaw dropping and necessarily informative. The political disenfranchisement of the black population of our society is a popular notion of extreme denial from whites, and the more information on this harsh reality we can bring to the surface of our culture, the more the people in our society can understand and begin to work in destroying the stealthy poison that is implicit racism. Perhaps one of the most hurtful and ethically-desensitizing processes this system of racism damages is empathy. It is my belief that much of our culture has lost the human gift of empathizing with our fellow man based on notions the system hammers into us (they’re simply lazy, we all start out on the same playing field, they made their choices, they’re not oppressed they’re complainers, they’re thugs, criminals, convicts, dirty, etc.). It’s easy to equate an individual’s position in life off to accessible personal choices and work ethic, but while this may give validation upon our own sense of “superior positioning”, this divine sense of ethical reasoning is both false and harmful. Fueling our minds with these appealing notions justifies us to cease generating empathy, or engage in the theory of mind (putting ourselves in others shoes), crucial components of our humanity. In my opinion, fundamental attribution error (basing one’s circumstances on personal decisions rather than situational occurrence) has become the fast food of ethical thought, and we must learn to fight thinking like this on as large a scale as possible. A common misconception is that white people cannot help these matters, but this is simply not true. We poses the ability to use our privileged to the advantage of the least of our brothers (ex. talking to other privileged white groups about what is truly beneath the surface), and I will do my best to continue this for my future.
Some other takeaways came from the significance of the personality quiz that is the Enneagram, visiting a Unitarian Universalist church, discussing the meaning behind our cultural grasp of gender, attempting to listen to my inner voice, and brisket.
I’ve learned many useful life skills in the past year such as amateur cooking, a sense of direction (both navigationally and spiritually), self-care, how to write a decent email, make a box of spaghetti last for four days and also one day, and of course a little of how to live in a diverse intentional community and still be standing mentally intact…mostly. I’ve met so many wonderful folks, had the typical ups and downs, and have so much more to learn, eat, struggle with, laugh, cry, and live in my young and naive existence. But, I can’t help but think my cup is a little fuller and my heart a little heavier as I part ways with the most dynamic experience of my life. So Long Lone Star…I’ll carry a silver of your crazed passion with me always, for better or worse.
For those who have been with me on this journey, thank you so much. You support me in ways you might not even realize, and it means so much.
Fast forward to present day!
NEW YAV YEAR=NEW BLOG SITE!
Join me on my voyage of volunteering in the land of Honky Tonk aka Nasvhille, TN. This time with…what’s that? Consistent and more specific blog updates? OH I CAN BARELY RESTRAIN MY EVERLASTING JOY!!!
Enjoy and please stick around.
Thank you again.
Peace. Love. and Tex Mex,