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Monday, July 11, 2016

Only Kings and Queens Can Found Kingdoms: A Story About Successful Marraiges

This is a messy blog post. It is an idea I want to share because, though it may not be The One Truth, it's a story that has been helpful to me.

My husband and I have a great relationship now, but we didn't always. We had horrific childhood attachment issues to overcome in addition to terrible relationship models coming from our two sets of divorced parents. There was a key moment in our relationship right after we got engaged. We got into a terrible fight (of course I cannot remember what it was about). I called my mom, and she said, "Yeah, relationships end. Sounds like yours has run its course." He called his mom, and she said something similar.

When we made up from that fight we realized we could never call our parents to help us through our marriage struggles (if our goal was to stay married). Similarly, I couldn't turn to the advice offered by Ayn Rand or Nathaniel Branden on the subject of marriage and relationships as neither of them had marriages I would want to emulate. I started my search for new relationship role-models.

A few years later Tom and I were married, and I was pregnant. Tom's single friends at the time were Tindering it up, and his married friends (and him) were all feeling a little jealous and trapped. I had this realization then, that changed how we saw the situation.

Joseph Campbell wrote about the "human story." He saw a woman's life story as having three main arcs: Maiden then Mother then Crone. For a man was: Squire then Warrior then King. I don't think those work well for today, so I updated them to: Maiden then Warrior Queen Mother then Wise Woman and, for a man, Squire then Warrior King Father then Wise Man.

"The problem," I said to my husband, "is that your friends think they are still squires. They are like the 40-year-old married women running around in short skirts. They're living the wrong story. I'm not a maiden anymore. It's hard to let that story go. Flirting with squires was fun. But now I will live the Warrior Queen Mother story, and I will try to make that story as glorious as my Maiden story was.

As a Warrior Queen Mother, I don't want to wear skimpy dresses and flirt with boys. I want to fight for the survival of my kingdom (e.g. my children). Your married friends would feel a lot better if they stopped seeing themselves as squires who are supposed to be chasing maiden-tail. They are kings now, and they have kingdoms to fight for. They can be heroes. Or they can be playboy princes that destroy their kingdoms."

This story rings even more true now. I was at a department store the other day trying on dresses for a cocktail party. The saleswoman was trying to get me to buy something extremely short and "sexy." "You've got such a great body; you should flaunt it!" she kept telling me. I was totally uninterested and tried to explain to her that I am in my mid-thirties not my mid-twenties, that I am married, that I an not trying to attract anyone, etc. She found it sad that I didn't think I "could" wear sexy stuff anymore.

I became interested in this exchange. Hollywood loves the maiden/squire story and has fed us a ton of one-liners to keep us pursuing our mates rather than building kingdoms. It is rare, on television, to see loyalty between partners. There is so much back-stabbing. And yet it is partnership and commitment that leads to riches, the kingdom we create that leads to a better life.

Squires and maidens tend to spend money in their efforts to show off and attract a mate. Smart kings and queens are more likely to save money because security and ensuring the survival of their offspring is what motivates them. Maidens and squires, whether they have children or not, are largely focused on attracting a mate, not kingdom building.

Maybe it's because we give away our children to be raised by others – there is no kingdom to fight for anymore. Maybe it's because of all the subterfuge involved in today's battle for survival. On the subject of nutrition alone – how many wealthy dynasties have failed because of inability to produce viable heirs due to nutritional depletion of genetic stock across generations? Many wealthy and middle class people think they are successfully "surviving," but they are not, not if you take a long-term (three or more generations) view of it.

I find this reflected in my parent-friends who, rather than be focused on the battle for the survival of their children, are focused on their careers. "Your family is your job!" I want to say. The point of a flashy career is to attract the best possible mate. A married person overly focused on career is a person looking to get divorced (and "trade up" in mates). A king or queen would only be interested in their career to the extent that it could benefit their kingdom, perhaps by making family alliances so that their children can find the best mates possible. But in a very deep way, Kings and Queen know it's not about them anymore, and that's wonderful!

I am all about selfishness, but for me, the battle for the survival of my children is what I want right now. Every time I hear my parent-friends talk about their search for sexual fulfillment, I can't help but think – you are stuck in your old story. By all means, if you are so wealthy that your children are eating farm fresh organic Weston A Price food, if you and they have straight teeth with no braces and no cavities and no other signs of physical degeneration, if you have fantastic communication skills with your partner and your children and you are raising them and not having them raised by others, then perhaps you have so much free time that you could be focused on "sexual fulfillment." Otherwise: You are falling for what seems to me like a media sales gimmick.

When a twenty-year-old tells me about her wild sex life, it's entertaining. When a forty-year-old does so, there is something unattractive about it. And I think it's this: The social cues you are giving me with your focus on sex or your career is that you are not focused on your kingdom.

Having been born into poverty and having been studying successful families since the minute I understood what I wanted, and knowing that most people who make it into the top 1% will stay there less than two years and 80% will stay there less than ten years, and knowing that while I worked my butt off and rose in wealth throughout my life, I have watched most of my friends (who were raised in wealth) fall. Why? Why is it so hard for a family to keep its wealth once it has acquired it?

One conclusions I have made is that wealthy people equate their wealth only to money. This is a fatal mistake in the creation of a dynasty. Ask any of the failed dynasties why they failed: Inability to produce heirs (decline in genetic stock), poor parent-child relationships (which the parents will pass off as unmotivated kids), fighting among heirs (failure of family to share values).

It became clear to me while I worked for unhealthy 1%ers that you cannot lose focus on health and healthy relationships. My husband and I talk about this as we build our wealth. We will build our wealth more slowly than we can, but we will do it right. The foundation of physical health for our bodies and our children's bodies is our highest priority. We can always make money. But money cannot buy good health that has been lost.

Same with relationships. Divorce destroys kingdoms. Children who hate their parents destroy kingdoms. So though my husband and I could be moving toward our financial dreams twice as fast if we put Anders into school and I joined the paid workforce, that is sacrificing the future for the present. And it would likely destroy our kingdom, if not in our lifetime, in our children's lifetime. And why? My husband and I are taken; we don't need flashy amounts of money or success to attract mates. We only need enough money for our own enjoyment and to maximize the quality of our offspring.

Money will only serve the mind that can match it. It is far more important that we focus on giving our son a mind that can match and grow our current level of wealth, than that we keep growing it.

The battle for survival that my husband and I fight is glorious. We must be quite high earners just to feed our family properly. Tom has to earn twice as much as husbands whose wives work so that I can raise our son. But we have a dream of a family like one we have yet to see in our lives. There is nothing more bonding, nothing sexier, than going to war in this way with my husband. It's exhausting of course, but it's a beautiful, fun, and interesting exhausting because it is meaningful for us.

Something else I noticed recently: Battle scars are tragic and hideous on maidens and squires. On kings and queens they are hot, proof of our strength, our prowess. And thank goodness, because I don't think anyone makes it to old age without them.

The belief that we are warriors now, not innocent, happy young folk, also helps us on to the next phase of our life story – old age and accepting death. When you are a maiden or a squire death is tragic. When you are exhausted from battle, scarred, used, death is rest, something that you can be happy about (just a little bit).

This is a subconscious experience for us, an emotional story. But you better believe I am out there making friends who are living this story. Most parents I meet are still maidens and squires. They are not kingdom building and alliances with them are becoming more and more unfulfilling. They are married and have children, but seem to have bought into the advertising media pitch that their life purpose should be ... sex. I like sex as much as the next person, but as your meaning in life?

I was having lunch with a friend of mine the other day who is getting her PhD in sexual health. She was telling me how important sexual fulfillment is, and when I told her it wasn't a priority to Tom and me, she became worried. But upon further questioning it turned out that we have a "healthy" amount of sex. Yet we don't make sex dates or have a date night as is recommend for couples with children. Just the fact that we like each other is enough to get us into bed. I am not holding our relationship out there as a Model For Everyone To Follow, but I think that we are still attracted to each other because of how we see each other. Like I said above, there something bonding and super sexy about seeing each other as warriors fighting a battle together.

Here are some more metaphors: I think many wives subconsciously do their best to stay maidens because they think that is how they will keep their husbands. But it's actually the opposite. If you stay a maiden and keep your husband in squire-mode, eventually you will break up. Why? Because a mother cannot compete with the maidens. A forty year old woman cannot out maiden real maidens. Even if she isn't older than they are, her focus is divided, her story is wrong, and there is always something unattractive subconsciously about people living the wrong story. Rather, the woman who wants to keep her husband should specifically try to not be a maiden or compete with maidens. She should focus on being the most incredible queen any king could wish for. No maiden can compete with a true warrior queen. And no king is attracted to maidens - they are pretty, silly things, not useful to him in battle.

What does it mean when a married woman and mother dresses in a way to attract men? Does it mean she is confident about her body? I don't think so. Something about it is unattractive. (And that is interesting to me.) This is what I think: What it says to me is she is not happy in her relationship, that she may cheat on her husband, that she may wish she were still a maiden, in other words: I should not trust and form alliances with her kingdom as she is alerting me to its instability or lack of success. Perhaps she genuinely thinks she is just showing the world that she doesn't care what it thinks – but that's just out of touch with reality. And I don't think it's attractive to be out of touch with reality. The fact that you will be judged by how you present yourself is unavoidable. To dress as if that is not a fact just makes you in denial and likely to fail.

I think about the things we used to think (as a society) were "bad." Dressing slutty. Divorce. We don't want to stigmatize the people who do these things. But at the same time, in some ways, they signify someone's success or failure to grow up.

I went to a conference over the summer where I was hit on rather a lot. It was flattering, but it occurred to me that it's boring to me now. What's interesting to me is my son and my husband, our growth, our finances, the creation of the best life possible for our family, the dream of building something that could last generations. Several times I was hit on by people who have open marriages who wondered if I have the same. And I ... don't see that in my future. Because it's boring. Seduction and being seduced was once the most fascinating and marvelous thing to me in the world. I read books on it! But now it simply doesn't serve me. It doesn't serve my kingdom.

I can't help but wonder about the people who are married and have children, but are still pursing mating. I wonder how their kingdoms will do (long term) with their energies so distracted.

Likewise the high percentage of women who abandon their children and return to the workforce. This is a subconscious signal to me that they don't trust their relationship. Their relationship is on such shaky ground that the woman cannot afford to specialize in the children, she has to be prepared for the coming divorce. She has to have "her own" money. If you haven't even figured out how to make a committed alliance to your own husband, how can I trust any alliance you make with me?

Not to mention your children. I am looking for the best mates for my own well-raised children. If your children are going to be raised by servants, middle class teachers, and the television, they are not good mates for mine.

Some women think that staying in the workforce is sexier to their husbands. These women are completely out of touch with reality. Every father I know wants his wife to "do whatever makes her happy." But every last one of them hopes that caring for his children (and him) is what will make her happy. I have never seen a man jump for joy when his queen announces that she, actually, would not enjoy caring for his children. What man can forgive that betrayal? Of course they smile and pretend they are modern, but I think that when their wife shows she cares so little for the children, he starts to detach from them as well.

A man cannot become a king without a queen. A woman in the workforce is not a queen. Queens are focused on their kingdoms, on their children. Likewise men pursuing outlying career success are not kings. Kings are focused on their kingdoms. That is what the money is for.

Both partners must choose to mature. If the man stays a squire he will be obsessed with maidens, and since his wife cannot be one anymore, he will end up leaving her for one. And with his new wife he will start a kingdom a second time. And then he will leave her for a third maiden. Never will his kingdoms progress or grow in glory. He will have wasted decades of valuable kingdom building time reliving the same old story rather than committing to the new one.

I maintain that kingdoms can be built at any social status. It is a way of life, not a social status. Some people will argue that their family "cannot afford" to have one partner at home, but according to Ann Crittenden in The Price of Motherhood, if the wife isn't making over 50k (possibly 65k in today's dollars), it doesn't actually pencil for the woman to be working. What does "cannot afford" mean? Money is all about choices. We choose what we value. For a kingdom builder, nothing is more valuable than the children.

For the record, I don't agree with women being stuck in the house with the kids. Please see: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1185171129?type=review#rating_109775433. But I also don't think there is any other option today for the woman that values the health of her children and future of her kingdom.

When my children are ready, I will give up my throne and become a wise woman. This is one of the hardest and most important things a king or queen must do. The failure of many parents to "give up the throne" destroys relationships, and especially the children. It is this awareness of my future obsoleteness that enables me to give Anders my very best happily. Nothing like being a warrior for a few decades to make you feel excited about resting!

I had lunch with one of my favorite girlfriends the other day. Unlike me she grew up in a wealthy family, and she has happily married parents. She said, "Many girls marry rich men because they want to be a princess. But to be a princess you must make your husband your servant. If you make your husband your servant, he will soon be poor. Instead you must seek to be a queen at his side, and make your husband your king. If you treat your husband like a king, he will soon be more rich."

I love this story too. Princess-wives are another example of a way people can fail to change stories.

I apologize for any of this sounding judge-y. Like I said above, this is not The One Truth. There are many glorious stories to live, this one has been mine.

UPDATE

Frank pointed out below that it might be easiest for people to move on to their next story when they have lived their current story to the fullest. As in: squires and maidens who milked every last drop of their squire and maiden experience might be happier to settle into the warrior kingdom mode. Likewise, those who accept the warrior kingdom and live it to its fullest might be the happiest to let that go and become the wise "letting go" generation.

In my studies of death it occurred to me that Buddhism is a disturbing religion for the young. Nor is it helpful for the kingdom builders. But man is it the perfect religion for the old! It's about acceptance and letting go. The entire Tibetan Book of Living and Dying has one main thing to teach: how to die with grace and dignity. Buddhism is the religion for our final stage. I would say Christianity and Judaism (war-making religions) are quite fantastic religions for kingdom building. And for maidens and squires? Well, they should be Pagens. Again, not saying this as Fact. Using these ideas as metaphors to describe the human experience and how we can best facilitate one another to live our stage to the fullest.

Friday, July 8, 2016

A Reader Says, "My Son Has a Negative Relationship With Naps"

A reader recently emailed me and asked what he could go about his 18-month-old's negative relationship to sleep. Here is what I know:

Children who don't want to go to bed may--
1: Lack correct information about sleep
2: Have a controlling relationship with the parent in regards to sleep
3: Not live in reality
4: Have an insecure attachment to their caregiver

Solution 1: Correct Information

Always assume your child will make great choices for himself if given great information.

I gave my son a lot of information when he was younger (and I still do) about his body and the care of his body. I told him how important sleep was for him and for me, how our bodies heal while we sleep, and how his grows. I helped him make the connection between how he felt at certain times and the amount of rest he had gotten. "You didn't sleep very long last night, you may be crabby today." And then later, "I'm noticing how emotional you are today. You are crying a lot--which is fine, crying is good for you, but, I think part of the reason you are so sad is because you didn't get enough sleep last night."

I talked about how I felt on days when I didn't get enough sleep. "Anders! I just realized why I am in such a bad mood! I didn't sleep enough last night!" One of my favorite things that I do as a parent is make my internal dialogue available to my son. I talk about feeling tired and feeling exhausted. I talked about how happy I am to go to bed and rest my body and how good it feels. I cuddle up in my sheets and say, "Ahhhhh. Thank goodness I finally get to sleeeeeep!" I took naps when I needed to--sometimes while he played nearby. I talked a lot about energy, "I need more energy, so I am going to go to sleep." "I feel sooooo good now, I had suuuuuch a good night's sleep."

So of course, these are all the things I heard back from him as he got older (and still do). 

I also talked about the process of getting more and more tired:

"You might notice your eyes are dry and you start to rub them a lot, that means they have been open for too long and you should probably take a nap."
"You might notice you are yawning. That is also your body telling you it's time to think about a nap."
"You might notice that you feel sad and crabby and kind of like crying. That means you ignored your body's first signs and now you better get to bed right now or you're going to freak out."

Notice that I am not telling him to take a nap. His body is telling him that he needs to take a nap. I am just noticing and newscasting reality for him. "You're rubbing your eyes. I think your body may be telling you it needs rest." "You're yawning, do you want to get some sleep?" "You're feeling very emotional right now. I think you missed your window. This is going to be hard."

Solution 2: Freedom, Respect, Responsibility

I gave my son information and helped him see the connections. It was then his responsibility to take care of himself. He certainly let himself get overtired at times, and then I would say, "You feel this way because you didn't listen to your body and go to sleep when you needed to! Now, you may be too tired to go to sleep on your own, and I may have to help you. I know you like to be in charge of your sleeping, but going to sleep when you are too tired is really hard. Your body becomes full of stress hormones because being too tired is so stressful. Your body needs to release those hormones--usually by crying. Do you think you need to cry? Or do you think you have time to go to bed right now and then you wont have to cry?"

I offer other ways I can help, "Can I take you for a walk in the stroller to help you?" "Would you like me to cuddle up with you to help you? Sometimes being able to hear someone's heartbeat can help you go to sleep." "I'm working right now, so I can't help you too much, but you are welcome to come curl up on my lap."

I was there to help, but his sleep was never my job.

Anders saw going to sleep as his responsibility. He saw himself as capable of caring for his body. "It's your body, you get to decide." I always tell him. As soon as he could scoot, he scooted himself to his floor bed and passed out. He put himself to bed often before he was 18 months. He rarely needed my help. Around 18 months we moved, so he wanted to be closer to me when he went to sleep. At nap time I would get in my bed and read a book, and he would curl up next to me and pass out. Sometimes I would read whatever I was reading out loud to him--if he asked. Sometimes he didn't take a nap and would end up super crabby, and I would support him as best I could and remind him to not miss his nap tomorrow, so he didn't feel this way. Then he got used to the new house and went back to sleeping on his own.

But it was always very fluid. He slept on his own for a few months, then with me for a few months. I loved both arrangements, so I always left that up to him.

At some point when he was 2 he often wanted to stay up later than I did, so he would kiss me good night and go to his bed. Or I would say, "Goodnight, I'm going to bed!" and go to bed. He generally only stayed up five to ten minutes later than I did, but it was his thing at that age. It didn't last long. Now he if I say I am going to bed he gets ready for bed super fast because he does not want to stay up later than I do.

I would say every six months or so he would try something new in regards to his sleep. When he was 3, he had a playhouse outside that he liked to sleep in. I couldn't let him stay in it all night as he would get bitten by too many bugs, but he would put himself to bed it in it and pass out, and I would carry him to his bed. (I of course got his permission to do this while he was awake, "Anders, it's fine if you want to go to sleep in there, but after you are sleeping can I carry you to your bed so the bugs don't bite you?")

Here is a video of that time--


Note that he is telling me he needs to go to bed to get some more energy. 

If the parent sees it as his job to "get their kid to go to sleep," his goal is to control the behavior of his child. When we seek to control another person, that person is our enemy and our relationship with that person becomes a war--Who will win?! 

If the parent sees it as his job to "get their kid to go to sleep," the child cannot be responsible for going to bed and getting enough sleep. It becomes the parent's job. That sounds so stressful! And for the kid, all he can do is be a good boy or a bad boy. How demeaning.

Anders's sleep was not my problem. It was his. You may think, "But when my tired toddler is having a meltdown, it becomes my problem!" I think, when my toddler has a made a poor choice, I will help him get through it. It is our poor choices that teach us how to make good choices. Better to make poor choices now than later! 

Your toddler will not choose to be an overtired, melting person very often. Every six months or so he will do an experiment to confirm that yes, not getting enough sleep is a terrible choice. And every three months or so he will just forget. But that is a heckuva lot less drama than a power struggle every day at nap time and every night at bed time.

Unless of course you are a supreme and benevolent dictator like I was when I was a nanny, training children that they had no option but to be automatons, and do what they were told. But even then, Anders is still easier to put to bed.

At 4 1/2 Anders still experiments. For example, right now Anders has camp in the morning and to be on time he needs to be awake by 7am. To wake up by 7am he needs to be in bed by 7:30pm. In the evenings, I let him know what time it is. He gets ready for bed, and then we read. He usually gets very involved in the story, and then I say, "It's 7:30!" and he rolls over and goes to sleep. Literally, it's that easy 90% of the time. He knows that 7:30 is the ideal time to go to sleep because one night he went to bed late--8:30. We were having too much fun, and we (mainly he) decided to do an experiment and see what happened. Well, he woke up at 8am the next morning and was 45 minutes late to his camp. He asked me why I didn't wake him up, and I told him that rest for his body is more important than being on time for camp, and that I would feel very uncomfortable waking him. He understood and was late for camp. He did not like being late.

When I picked him up, he asked if I would wake him up at 7am if he ever overslept again and made it quite clear that he never wanted to be late again. I said, "I know you want to be on time to camp, and I want to support you in that goal, but preventing your growing body from getting the rest it needs is not how I want to support you. I would rather we just go to bed by 7:30." We talked about this for a while, and in the end I did agree to wake him if he ever slept past 7, but he agreed to try really hard to be asleep by 7:30. It has been 6 weeks of camp now, and he has always been asleep on time.

Even if I am not there to put him to bed. He goes to bed at 7:30 because that is HIS goal. For example, one night I was exhausted and went to bed at 6:30pm. I showed Anders the clock and told him that when it said 7:30, he should turn out his light and go to sleep. I got in bed, and Tom called. We talked for a while, and then I saw Anders's light go out in the other room. I looked at the time. It was 7:03. When I went to check on him ten minutes later, he was fast asleep.

I do think any kid can do this. Anders has been putting himself to bed for years. Even when he was just a year old, I trusted that he was capable of this task. Actually, even when he was an infant it was his job. I never rocked him to sleep or carried him or swaddled him. I stayed with him while he was sad, curled up next to him or with my hand on his chest so he knew he was not alone. But carrying or rocking or swaddling--these are all distractions. To feel my emotions and feel okay feeling my emotions, the support I need when I am crying is not words or movement, but just the presence of someone who cares. Note that this way of being with infants is taught in RIE parenting books like Dear Parent: Caring for Infants with Respect.

But back to how Anders learned to go to bed at 7:30pm. As much as it kind of sucked to rearrange my morning that one time, I am so happy that Anders got a chance to make a solid connection between what time you go to bed, what time you wake up, and "being on time." Better to learn this lesson at four by being late for summer camp than learn this lesson later by being late to something much more consequential.

Solution 3: Reality

Besides freedom and information, there are other reasons why Anders may have a positive relationship with sleep. He has been raised in reality--there are no monsters, no witches, no villains with magical powers, no dragons. He has never had nightmares except for one in which someone took his cookie.

The kids I cared for had nightmares often, almost every night, usually about fantasy creatures they had seen in movies. They were scared of under their beds and their closets. They were scared of shadows and the dark. Raising Anders in reality has made him not scared of fantasy at all. Older boys will sometimes try to be mean, and say things like, "If you do that, Santa Claus won't give you any presents!" He laughs and tells them, "You know Santa Claus is not real, right?" 

Solution 4: Secure Attachment

I am not a supporter of "attachment parenting," but I am a big supporter of healthy attachment.
I am pretty sure Anders feels very secure in our relationship, but he does like to hear that I will be there when he wakes up, that I will not leave him. It almost offends me that he likes to hear these things! But he does, so I tell him. 

Thursday, July 7, 2016

How Often Did You Touch Your Son's Body / Invade His Sovereignty Without His Permission?

A reader emailed me this question, here is my answer, done in a hurry, but still possibly useful to those of you with young children!

I rarely had to move or touch my son's body without his permission. I would always request first that he be in control of his body. "That's my necklace, and I need you to give it back. Can you put it in my hand?" usually worked. If not, "That's mine, so if you can't put it in my hand, I am going to help you... Oh I see, you can do on your own!" My son always chose to do it on his own rather than be "helped." (And when I say always here I mean it--every single time he chose to give me back whatever object it was.) It should also be noted that he was proud of himself when he was able to do this, like it was hard to let it go but he DID IT and would say, "See! I did it!"

Another example would be, "I need you to get out of the street. I realize there are no cars right now, you know it, and I know it, but it's just stressing me out. Can you come back onto the sidewalk? ... Thank you." Again, he always complied, if not the first time, then the second or third time I asked. I would just keep asking in different ways, assuming that he wanted to meet my needs but didn't understand what I needed or why. So maybe if he didn't get out of the street the first time I would say, "Anders, the stress in my body is so intense. My heart is beating so fast, and I am just freaking out, like I want to cry. I really need you to help me by getting out of the street." (Note he was in the gutter, and not technically the street during these conversations, but he learned at about 11 months old that he needed to stay on the sidewalk--and he always did. I always made him in charge of moving his body onto the sidewalk, not me.)

For asking him not to play with something or even not allowing it, I would get between my son and say, the printer. And I would just repeat, "I'm not going to let you touch this... yes, you want to touch it and learn about it, but I won't let you... when you are 4, I will show you how it works, but not right now...." I would not let his hands touch the printer, but otherwise I would not touch his body, I would just keep moving his hands away and then let him be in control of his hands again. He would start crying and then I would just be with him while he experienced his disappointment. He would cry and I would say, "You feel disappointed. Can I hold you while you are sad?" At the younger ages offering something else was generally helpful as well, "I won't let you touch the printer, but you may type on my computer for a little bit if you're gentle."

There were times of course when I was upset or needed something to happen quickly and at those times I got-er-done, and if that meant moving Anders's body without checking first I did. This got harder as he got older--he would get very offended and then I would have to apologize. Sometimes he would bring it up at night or the next day. "I didn't like it when you did that!" he would tell me. And I would model how one owns up to her poor behavior and how to apologize and make amends. This didn't happen often, but it did happen, I don't want to pretend like it didn't!


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The Vision of the Nicaragua Gulch


I was recently asked, "What is your vision? Are you trying to attract talent, anarchists, NVC devotees? Are you looking to actually build a community? I’m interested to hear about your plans."

There are so many ways that it could go. And we excited about all of them!

One way it could go: A worldwide network of free micro cities. A micro city has 100-1000 people in it. It is situated on a (largely) self-sufficient off-the-grid farm. Some people have full houses on the outskirts but most people live in "the city," the town center. Most people live in kitchen-less apartments or bungalows. They are stunningly beautiful and built pattern-language style. There is a "restaurant" or dining hall per 25 to 50 or so people. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, desert and snacks are served at regular times. Meals are designed to be not just organic and healthy but nutritionally perfect (providing every single vitamin and mineral) and as tasty as any gourmet restaurant. Maids do laundry and keep rooms clean. This sharing of the cooks and maids keeps cost-of-living down and yet enables life to be luxurious.

The micro-city network makes it easy to move--whichever city you travel to your basic needs are met. These cities are an incredible place to get work done if you work online and an amazing place to  raise a family since the cooking and cleaning are taken care of. You can commit to one location and live there all year or you can be like hunter-gatherers and move when the desire strikes and see your current bedroom as an Uber-home. Each community has a NVC community manager whose full time job is similar to that of a therapist or priest or moderator. We were all raised in ways that damaged us so for our generation especially it's important to set the tone of good communication and emotional health. Living with others in freedom isn't possible without these skills. 

Regardless, wherever you go in the world, there is a city of freedom lovers waiting for you. Each one will probably develop its own culture, and you will find the one thats right for you. 

Most of the initial movers work on-line, are retired, or are entrepreneurs and provide a service in the community. Most likely each city will develop a certain business and end up with a specialty. I want to live in a community of entertainment-makers, the "film industry" micro-city, where everyone works on some aspect of the making of entertainment for freedom lovers, NOT conversion entertainment, but rather, entertainment for those who love liberty. The gulch we are building in Nicaragua may be "the foodie" gulch or it may revolve around a spice company. In Nicaragua we are growing cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, black pepper, vanilla bean, and we have more wild turmeric than we know what to do with! Maybe that will turn into a business that can employ 5 to 50 people.

But maybe none of that happens. Maybe what we are building is just our family farm. We enjoy living there. We turn it into our very own paradise. People visit us. Maybe they come every year for the summer to attend the Roslyn Parenting Seminar and Family Summer Camp. Maybe our farm is the place where we have an annual Masked Pirate Ball for the winter solstice. Maybe our farm is the site of an annual Firefly and Harvest Festival. We are open to many possibilities. Right now, we have to build it as if it's just for us. Because other people may not come.

At first we thought the farm would be open to anyone who called themselves an anarchist. We had people come to stay--we had people buy rooms! And we learned that just because you are a peaceful anarchist does not mean you are enjoyable (for us) to live with. There has to be some element of choosing each other. Maybe no one is ever invited to move to the farm until they have stayed for a month or two so we can feel each other out and make sure we can live together well.

We have thought of making it secret, like a secret society. You hear that it exists out there but without an invitation you don't even know how to get there (is that possible in this day and age?!) 

The entrepreneurial spirit has been schooled out of most Americans, we learned. At first we thought we would get a wave of entrepreneurs, but now we realize that most people just want a job and security.

I don't have full an answer to the question. Our dream is people, a community, yes! But the hardworking, successful freedom-lovers we know would rather devote their lives to fighting in their home-country than leave. It's mind-blowing to us. I will be at Freedom Fest next week, surrounded by thousands and thousands of people who only want to talk about how to turn statists into libertarians. I am grateful to them, but really I wish they would all just opt out with me--devote your life to your own joy! Devote your life to your fellow freedom-lovers! It's like the religious fanatics who can't just enjoy their religion, their life purpose is to convert other people, and so their lives revolve around the very people they can't stand. In the liberty movement that is what I keep finding. So... maybe all I can hope for is a paradise for my own family. And freedom lovers will come down and join us for a holiday or two and then return to their lives in service of the cause.

Maybe they will do it like us--they will visit repeatedly and then one day, two or three years later, they are ready to sell their home in the USSA and head out for good. I'm not all that into self-force. Tom used to stress about whether or not we "should" move to the gulch full-time and I would always say, let's do recon. Let's go there and see how we feel. When the time is right, we will know, and moving there will feel right and not like force.

At this point I don't know. What I know is that I love farm life. I love fresh, healthy, gourmet, organic food grown on land that I know is healthy land. I love the luxury of not cooking and cleaning. I love beautiful buildings! I love gardens and fountains! I love love love what we are building! And I especially love the low cost of living in Nicaragua. It is glorious to be able to live such a luxurious lifestyle and have it cost so little comparatively. I love all the free time it provides. I love farm life for my son! And I love that this choice of where to live frees up money for travel.

And it's not even built yet! The main building has taken its shape and gets more finished every day (perhaps we will be ready to start taking visitors in 2017). The difference between now and last January is that you can feel the beauty. When you stand outside in the courtyard (that doesn't have its fountain yet) it's beautiful. The beauty brings me joy, peace, and makes me feel inspired and energized. It's hard to explain, but... it's gotten pretty exciting down there in the last few months. 

I would say that even though we may take visitors in 2017, it won't be truly glorious for five to ten more years. All those rainforest trees we planted will shade the property then and instead of being 80 degrees all year, it will be 75.

Anyway, I really hope that everyone comes to visit at least once! Get a miles credit card now and stay in touch :)