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2023 Birthday Reflections Pt 2
Personal entry follows.
In December '22, I'd given mini-journals to the rest of the interns as part of their Christmas gifts. These small booklets included over a dozen questions they could use to reflect on the previous year's activities, and then visualize the coming year. I decided I would ask myself the same questions, and then record my thoughts here.
This is the second part of this series of entries.
4. In what ways did you grow as a person this past year? What/who influenced you? What did you learn?
I was influenced and inspired by my former supervisor and my former executive director. They both are good friends who didn't give me a hard time about moving on from the job, and in fact encouraged me to embrace the opportunity for change. When I first came out here to the eco-institute, I immediately gravitated to the intern supervisor (the guy whose job I now have ever since he stepped-down from the role). Also, I am in fairly close contact - nearly on a daily basis - with the guy who owns this place.
Regarding the first two people, I was eventually regarded as an equal, and they shared much about "the business" with me in confidence. In a way it was necessary, since I helped make operational decisions and had been one of the longest-lived staff members there prior to my departure. That said, I could sense that they were both also considering changes.
Since I left that job and that town, my supervisor has moved on to an entrepreneurial venture of his own. Meanwhile, now that the organization is celebrating its 50-year anniversary, I suspect my former exec director is planning her retirement or stepping-away from the organization. She wants to go out on a high note, and in her case I can't think of a better one. The idea that there are always going to be people who you can stand up for, and who will always have your back, ran strong through the two of them. I was grateful and very fortunate to be on their team.
Regarding the latter two people, they were my introduction to how this lifestyle might work out. This eco-institute is an unusual place, for certain, and the two of them have created the "normal" that infuses the daily and yearly goings-on around here. With the opportunity I've been given to work here long-term and eventually be granted stewardship of a sizeable chunk of land, I drew what I could from the supervisor before he left, and I learn something new about homesteading every time I have a conversation with the manager.
To be clear: this is a weird place. The big picture is that this is a rather fragile operation, and it takes intensity and focus to keep it moving forward in the direction and vision set forth by the manager. If too many integral parts fall out place, I can see this place crumbling to the ground. I want to be one of the people who helps keep it going, because I believe in the manager here and I share at least part of his vision of the future. ...Plus, building and growing on a free acre for life after two years of work isn't a bad deal.
5. What was your mindset like this past year? What did you focus your thoughts on?
In the first third of the year, I wanted to "get the fuck outta Dodge." Everything I did was to make sure I could make it out of the city, to where I am now.
In the second third of the year, I was soaking up everything I could about this place: how it operates, where I would fit in best, and what I'd need to do to persist. I saw no turning back to my previous lifestyle and I wanted to see examples of people who have found some measure of success or contentedness in homesteading (without being a religious weirdo while they're at it).
The final third of the year, I accepted the supervisory role I have now, and every day was a balancing act to keep the internship program moving forward, to advocate for myself, to take responsibility for my mistakes and learn from them. I attempt to set an example for the rest of the interns regarding how one can continue to do their best while under stress and in a state of constant learning.
6. How did you have fun this past year? What are your favorite memories?
I remember driving through Wyoming. I like the terrain there a great deal.
I remember eating pizza with the former intern supervisor in town. That was a good day.
I remember watching "Beerfest" with a group of guys, and laughing my ass off.
I remember hanging out in front of my tent with a small group, and saying, "I moved out to the boonies, I live in a tent... I mean, what does a guy gotta do to masturbate in peace around here?!?!" We had a good laugh.
I remember the first time I slept in my gigantic canvas tent. I remember the first time I let a cat come in there with me, and petting him on my lap.
I remember eating lots of pizza and donuts, and seeing lots of attractive ladies serving the food.
I remember a conversation I had with the former interns supervisor during one of the summer events, and being overcome with emotion and nearly weeping as I explained the parallels between that event and the DIY art space I operated back in my early 30s.
I remember when I stuck my "Honk if you're DEVO" bumper sticker on my car.
kestrel.diary [at] tutanota.com