Sunday, September 25, 2005

Parent and family weekend

This weekend has been full and interesting, as parents and family of guests have been around. That brings a lot of energy and a different complexity to guests' lives / farm life.

The stages of dealing with mental illness are strikingly similar to the stages of grief, both for family and for the people dealing with the illness: shock, denial, anger, guilt, despair, acceptance. It seems to be this way because coping with mental illness involves, at least in part, a redefinition of self; grieving for the "past self" and defining a "new self" is a difficult but natural part of the illness. Thus, it has been really enriching this week to see parents in the various stages of that grief process. Also, guests here struggle, as do many adults, it seems, with finding a good adult child relationship to their parents.

The new energy and conversation that the parents and family bring are great to have on the farm. It seems we get used to our routines and patterns of interacting, and having new folks here is a good reminder to continue to examine our interactions with each other.

In other news, the first day of fall brought chilly weather, making the broken windows in my room more than just a "thing to fix eventually". Cate, the top executive here, offered to arrange a tuner for the piano at Fairview (my house)!! (at this point, it's so badly out of tune that I can't handle playing it)

Time for me to go to church... Take care of yourselves and each other.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Residential people

These are people on my team (again, names you might hear now and then):

Shelly -- our supervisor, energetic, new dog owner, artist, really good at making her needs known in a helpful way, thoughtful and compassionate, intentional about most things she does

Michelle -- staff, process oriented, working toward being a nurse, quiet and straightforward, likes driving (which is good because many of the rest of us don't, particularly)

Mark -- staff, methodical and deliberate,
{I must stop and tell you this... the parrot outside the window, between laughing and asking for a cigarette, just acted like a chicken... Ya gotta love Patron, the man-eating parrot! Back to Mark...}
just got medication certified with me, used to be a lobster boat sailor, has (among other antiques) two pair of antique glasses frames that he uses

Rebecca -- staff, great curly hair, artist, wears huge-brimmed hats and looks good in them, laid back but very effective at what she does, very trusting and yet not naive, leads things like tubing trips, massage therapist, hoping to study dance therapy

Seth -- volunteer, very Catholic and very proud of it, thinking about becoming a priest, loves to laugh, is more anal than I am, and (get this...) asks even more questions than I do, compassionate and intuitive

So, as you perhaps can begin to see, it's a strong team with wonderful people who are different but balance each other out in their differences. Unfortunately we're usually all in the same place for only about two hours a week... And there's room for at least one more person (though there's a proposal for more staffing down the road), so if you know of anyone... give them a nudge. Or if you are that person, check out the link to Gould Farm and then give me (or the farm) a call or an e-mail or something.

Alright... I'm off to rest and see if I can make friends with this noisy imitator of just about everything who has a penchant for eating fingers... Yay, Patron.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Hebrews 10:24 scripture jam

As promised, I will occassionally include some of my writing, etc. I welcome feedback, and I would love for people to use the writing in whatever way they find it helpful -- one thing I ask is that you let me know if you use it (perhaps when and for what).

Hebrews 10:24
N: And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds
1: provoke
2: I like that word
1: provoke
2: to anger
3: to incite
2: to agitate
3: to antagonize
N: And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds
4: WAIT! Provoke has to be the wrong word.
1: provoke
2: to incite
3: love?
4: It’s too strong. Why not “let us encourage one another”?
N: And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds.
1: provoke
2: to stir up emotion
3: emotion that must become action
2: Emotion…
3: called out…
2: to become action.
1: provoke
4: tangible love
3: love called out
2: called out so strongly
1: that it must grow hands and feet
2: love that must be living
3: and breathing
2: in the world.
4: But how?
N: And let us consider
[read on top of each other so it lines up as shown (vertically)]
1: And let us consider how to provoke
2: think about how
3: how to provoke
4: provoke
[separate again]
1: spur on
2: incite
3: call out
1: living love
2: daring good deeds
4: But how?
3: Brothers and sisters,
1: let us consider, together, how
All: to provoke love and good deeds

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


I am part of the residential team, which provides support to guests during nights and evenings and provides daytime driving for guests and support to other teams.

I work two dayshifts each week, driving people to appointments and doing random projects like cleaning up the video room, helping the garden team if they need more hands, organizing games and proposing more games to buy for the community, etc.

I also work three night shifts each week, being mostly at one guest house from 6pm to 9am. That includes talking and listening to guests, playing games and fostering good time use, helping people organize personal and common spaces, helping develop a "living room culture" at the house, helping people develop and use coping skills (in a very limited and careful way, but especially surrounding sleep) , and observing for anything unusual. In many ways during that time I am eyes and ears for the clinical staff. When I'm on at night, I'm one of only three staff who are working (although there are always at least two others who are on call). I can sleep from 10:30p to 6:30a but am always available to guests by knock on my door. Thus, some nights I get great sleep, while other times sleep is limited and/or segmented. This part of my job, especially, is like being paid to be a healing presence (still a bit of an amazing concept to me...).

Two days a week I work at the Monterey General Store. That is nice because it helps me make connections off the farm and in the surrounding community; it's also a very tangible and immediate and process-based job (a good contrast with my farm job, which is intangible, long-term, and more of an art than a set process). Besides, the money will be nice (they call us volunteers at the farm for fairly good reason).

Hope that helps those of you who were wondering...

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Fairview People

These are the people who live with me in my house -- you'll likely hear their names every once in a while:

Edd -- former mayor of a small town in NY, in his 60s, quite boistrous with a great radio voice, loves to talk about anything that involves opinions, maintenence man extraordinaire

Ben -- Church of the Brethren by birth, in his early 20s, maintenece man extraordinaire two, calm but confident young man who thinks deeply and works hard.

Sarah -- psychology graduate from Missouri, 22 years old, quite bubbly, has a boyfriend and a hampster, one of which we are pet sitting for the week ;), part of the Roadside team and the McKee School team.

Marcelle -- mellow, compassionate woman of 37ish, garden team, dancer, worked in a mental hospital before coming here, from TN, family was living in New Orleans.

Blue Skies

smilin' at me! It's absolutely gorgeous here -- the crisp fall air creeping in, making every image just a little bit sharper.
It's been a busy week here at the farm. It's harvest season for some new things like squash and corn, and hay has been needing to come in, making lots of work for the farmers and gardeners here. Sushi "came fresh" (Sushi, the cow, had her calf) this week. Another volunteer got fired very quickly -- for good reason and with good process this time, but it still creates more stress. A new volunteer (Sarah) from Missouri came to live at Fairview and is fitting in amazingly well. Last night we had pizza made in the brick oven one of our farmers built (mmm, nummy) and icecream (wow, was it good!). One of our guests provided guitar improv music for the bash. What a great time!
Tanglewood was wonderful. I got some pictures that are probably not much good, but... at least they're something. Did you know that John Williams composed music and was music conductor for over 100 films? I knew he was amazing, but I guess I didn't know how amazing. He's a great conductor to watch for tips.
Monday is labor day, so most of the people here are off work then. Residential team doesn't get holidays off, but Mondays are my day off anyway. I'm organizing and leading a waterballoon tossing contest and there are many other festivities going on here, as well.
I've asked around about interest in a farm choir and am getting emphatic "yes!"-es from all corners. It's even spread through the rumor mill and made it's way back to me... So now *all* I have to do is find time and find music. If you know anyone who would have old music they would be willing to donate, let me know!
I began going to a Bible study in Monterey that reminds me a little bit of the Bible study mom and dad used to host at our house in Kokomo -- a pretty good age range (especially now with me included) and some interesting theological differences, along with good individual and communal support.
I've not had time to write individual letters... I'm hoping to get some time this evening or tomorrow evening, but tomorrow promises to be a fun but full day with friends coming to visit and a volunteer meeting that I somehow got roped into facilitating... And I thought my facilitating days were over with college... =)
Blessings, friends.