The Great co-housing adventure begins!

images[6](Or, as Max says in “Where the Wild Things Are”, “Let the show begin!”)

Well, it’s almost begun. Angie, my co-houser hasn’t arrived yet, but all her things are here. (Well, except the clothes and things she needs for the next few weeks.)

Life is an adventure!Here’s some of the background to this adventure.

Angie and I have been friends for forty years. More than friends, she’s part of my family. We have cared for each other, slept on the floor at each other’s homes when we’ve been homeless. She’s the person I have phoned in the middle of the night, after I have phoned for an ambulance. Over the years we have  guarded each other’s back, when trouble was stalking.

We’re often single. Careers and security have not been our primary aims. So we haven’t reached middle age, financially secure and affluent. ( Most of the time we realise how  very secure and how richly abundant we are in so many other ways.) For many reasons we have chosen to buy a home together.

There are so many reasons. I am passionate about the necessity to create community and build a safe and loving space where we can belong and have that absolute sense of trust. I love the Wendell Berry poem which says “home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.”

to give my presence, my aim

to give my presence, my aim

I want home to be that place of unconditional love, total trust and safety…the place where I know I can be completely vulnerable… and I’m not thinking only of these four walls here and of Angie and myself. I am committed to building a larger community and helping to create such a space for others.

With Angie here, I can relax. There’s someone else to share all the jobs.  There’s someone who loves  and supports me through thick and thin. There’s someone who will give me space and silence and solitude whenever I need it. There’s someone to provide that rare and special feedback that will enable us each to grow and blunt our sharp edges, to point out when we  have been less than the best we can be.  There’s someone to laugh and play with, to have fun. So much, so much to be so very grateful for.

The garden will be started- finally! The house will be painted. (I HATE THE COLOURS!) Together we will practise living frugally and sustainably and we’ll be better at it, because we’ll  have each other to prop up our resolve when we fall into lust and wanting. (We both love things- books, paintings, beautiful objects… and I adore clothes. I fall into lust and wanting very easily.) We have more than enough.

(And you thought this was going to be easy, Angela!)

Life in the moment!

Life in the moment!

I said to Ange the other day: “Thank God you will finally be here!!! We can paint and garden and start a market stall and go to the gym regularly and get fit and have picnics at the beach and invite people for meals and sort out boxes of stuff and get started on that photographic project and you can begin building and making and maybe we’ll have some hens and we’ll sit about and read and have a glass of wine together and cups of tea and…(I stopped for a breath)”.

Angie: “I’ve been looking forward to resting and doing nothing much for a while!”

(Silly girl!)

Gone with the windfall.

Writing101. Daily prompt.

You just inherited $1,000,000 from an aunt you didn’t even know existed. What’s the first thing you would buy (or otherwise use the money for)?

I have whiled away many an hour dreaming about what I would do if I won the Lottery or had an unexpected windfall. It’s a splendid way to pass the time during a long trip. I dream of having a community, of being able to offer a home to people who need one. Land with cabins built on it? Or land sub-divided into villas?  There must be gardens and it must be beautiful. The possibilities are almost endless.

A corner offering sanctuary.

A corner offering sanctuary.

There have been times in my life when I have needed sanctuary, somewhere to give me space to regroup and heal, but I’ve had to pay the rent and there was nowhere to go. How wonderful it would be to be able to offer such a place. I have read about a woman, a breast cancer survivor herself, who established a healing centre for women to come and heal, both physically and spiritually.

Before I bought this house I rented a flat in accommodation linked to my work. There were two flats, each with a yard, and a house in this group. The house and the flats faced onto a large, shared area. We established a communal garden here and it quickly became a place to gather. We could share meals, have a cup of tea together, offer each support, celebrate birthdays…it was a place of community and belonging, but we each had our own space and privacy. I envisage something similar.

I’m something of a mother hen. I’d like to be able to gather all my chickens around me.

I don’t have to think for long to come up with a list of friends I’d like to house!

Only yesterday, I was thinking about a work colleague and a friend, both of whom would find their lives easier with a safe home. The work colleague has Parkinson’s. He is reliant on casual employment in a stressful environment, but has to work for as long as he can. He’s self supporting and has no family in this country. A brave and courageous person, I’d love to be able to say to him “Here is your home for as long as you want.”

My friend is a single mother who struggles to give her child the best possible life  on a very limited income. Imagine being able to offer her a home with a garden for all the animals her daughter yearns for.

I do know that when I have dreamt about a windfall in the past, I end up recognizing that I have enough. And maybe there are other ways to support and cherish my friends. (I won’t give up on the dream of a sanctuary, however!)

 

 

 

Home is where the heart is.

the view from my “old” deck.the view from my old deck.

Home is one of my highest priorities: home, and having my community around me.

Home is where I like to be. It’s where I come to be renewed, where I feel safe and secure- my haven. I called my first home “Hearts’ Ease”- I wanted it to be a place of heart’s ease, not just for me, but for anyone who needed it. And, I grew heart’s ease around the door.

Being a renter in the city for so much of my life, I found it more and more difficult to deal with the regular moves and the constant insecurity- Would I be able to find a place to live? Would I be able to pay the rent?

I used to joke about being a bag lady when I was old and although I was joking, underneath I truly did fear it. It was a dread that tied in with my lack of my own family, of not feeling that I belonged anywhere- the big two for me: feeling secure and safe in my home and having a place where I belong.

Something Gloria Steinem wrote about growing older and still not owning a home really struck me. She wrote that if she ended up a bag lady she would  politicize and organize them. I have a wonderful image of Gloria leading a demonstration of bag ladies- waving placards, marching, making demands…

This, quite literally transformed how I was seeing the future- from feeling anxious and fearful to knowing that “whatever happened, I’d handle it.” ( and thank you to Susan Jeffers book “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway“).

Now, I have a home and no mortgage. I am so blessed. I have a friend who will share it with me and together we will work out how to live co-operatively.

I’d love to have a granny flat or studio, a separate space, where we could offer sanctuary when someone needed it. There’s been times in my life when I’ve needed time out to regroup and recover, but there’s always been rent to pay and no chance to call a halt.

I am worried by the reports of the growing number of older women who, through circumstance, are vulnerable to rising rents, some of whom are already homeless. I feel powerless to do much about it- but have chosen to buy a house with a friend so two of us have a home.

We need to find new and better ways of living- ways that are communal, shared and sustainable; where people are supported and nurtured, rather than isolated, alone and vulnerable.

We can do it!