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Skills I'd like to perfect

Oilseed radish rootEverett posted over on Living A Simple Life about the things he wishes he could do (or at least do better.)  He tagged me and Mark to share our own lists of dream skills, and I got quite inspired by the project.  I'm a student at heart, and there's nothing I love more than setting up my own lesson plans.  So, here's my current course of study:

  1. Learn all of the skills necessary to create a permaculture system that feeds us with few non-waste inputs from outside the farm.  This set of skills is what the Walden Effect is all about, and includes lots of things I'm currently learning: propagating mushrooms, figuring out forest pastures, growing our own straw, pressing our own oil, and much more.
  2. Stream monitoringLearning to live in the moment.  Mark has helped me make enough progress on this step that I can see how amazing it would be to be able to fully relax and self-indulge, to let go of time completely and simply be from time to time.  I've got a lot more to learn, though.
  3. Becoming fluent in Spanish.  Ever since my family took me on a field trip to New York City and I heard some kids chattering away in Spanish on the subway, I've dreamed of being fully functional in another language.  Despite four years of high school Spanish, though, I barely made any progress until I began studying the Platiquemos system on my own this year.  Finally, I think I might be able to speak Spanish at the level of a two year old!  Clearly, I have a ways to go.
  4. Hunter sailboatLearning to create community.  My weakest point is my extreme introversion which makes it tough to make new friends or hang out with strangers.  But I dream of tempting some of our blog readers and other like-minded folks to settle here in our county where we can bandy ideas back and forth a little better than we do over the internet.  I'm not sure exactly what skills I would need to make this happen, but it's a dream, so it goes on the list.
  5. Learning to write fiction in a way that doesn't make me cringe.  Non-fiction is easy for me to write, but I've always been drawn to a challenge, so I dream of one day writing a fiction piece that I can look at the next day without blushing.

Everett's list is 19 items long, so I feel a bit silly stopping at five, but I did include about a dozen in the permaculture goal.  I've never had a shortage of skills I want to learn, so I'm sure that in a decade when I've figured all of this out, I will have another five or ten items to teach myself.  What skills do you dream of perfecting?

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Overcoming introversion is possible... it's breaking the comfortable inertia that hurts so much. I'd love to have a little community like you talk about and it's starting to come together a tiny bit.

I'd like to perfect the keep a tidy home while working a mini farm thing. I figure there are an hundred skills in that category. I'm also about to start learning Spanish. Never expected to need that here in Floyd County!

I wish you luck and great progress.

Comment by April Thu Nov 4 11:10:57 2010

Great goals Anna! We too are interested in the community thing. Our hope is that someday we can talk our two friends from California into moving out here. I keep telling them: There's water here!

Oh and I really like your "stuck here?" banner for the microbusiness website.

Comment by Everett Thu Nov 4 11:19:21 2010

Overcoming introversion is possible... it's breaking the comfortable inertia that hurts so much. I'd love to have a little community like you talk about and it's starting to come together a tiny bit.

I'd like to perfect the keep a tidy home while working a mini farm thing. I figure there are an hundred skills in that category. I'm also about to start learning Spanish. Never expected to need that here in Floyd County!

I wish you luck and great progress.

Comment by April Thu Nov 4 11:47:42 2010
I, too, would love to live near like minded people. What county are you in?
Comment by Debbie in Alabama Thu Nov 4 12:15:47 2010

I'm stealing your goals! Seriously, reading your blog sometimes makes me feel like I'm reading my own thoughts. It really is strange to develop a kind of tangential relationship with someone almost exclusively through public blogging.

I've always loved the mountains of Virginia. That place is my heart and my home, but somehow it also gives me this strange, eternal sadness to think about. Maybe that is because I'm not there and I don't know when I will be back. I definitely yearn for the community thing. I am just getting to the point where I am comfortable with the level of isolation I have now. I don't feel like I NEED to be around people all the time like I used to (even though I was cynical and reserved going through public school and forced to be with all sorts of people all the time.) Even so, the idea of accomplishing good work and working on good projects with good people is very appealing.

If you haven't read it already, I recommend reading Diana Leafe Christian's "Creating a Life Together." She is from Earthaven Ecovillage near Asheville, NC and that community has really been the model for what I envision myself being a part of in the future. Her book goes through some of the really practical aspects of setting up a community, which as a Type A person, you'll surely enjoy! I loved it and it's a good foundation to start thinking about how even if the matter of when isn't very clear. It also happens to be really useful when it comes to single family situations and community organizations.

Sara

Comment by Sara Thu Nov 4 13:10:48 2010

April --- Sounds like you've got good skills to learn too! I'm actually happy to have our area become a bit more diverse --- makes a great change from growing up in northeast Tennessee and never having met anyone with a non-Christian religion or recent family history from outside the U.S. until after elementary school.

Everett --- I hope you can tempt your friends to move here! That's actually where I'm probably going to go with my community goal --- tempting people I like to move closer. Thanks for mentioning the banner!

Debbie --- We live in Scott County, VA, and I highly recommend it for anyone who wants cheap land and who can telecommute or create their own microbusiness that they market over the internet. Lee County too, for that matter. It's great to live somewhere where you can get bare-bones land for $600 to $1,000 per acre, start very cheaply, and keep your living expenses extremely low.

Sara --- You can have all of my goals. :-) When you said that "it really is strange to develop a kind of tangential relationship with someone almost exclusively through blogging" --- that really speaks to what I was getting at with goal number 4. I've really enjoyed getting to know several of our regular readers, like you, both through your comments and through reading your blogs, and I wish I had a way to tempt you to settle close to us where we could be real friends instead of just e-friends. I'll definitely add the book you recommended to my reading list --- thanks!

Comment by anna Thu Nov 4 15:34:45 2010
I'd like to learn beekeeping and butchering. And also improve my ability to focus (finish jobs, instead of just starting everything!). Oh, and also to get the succession planting thing down pat so we're not just living through booms and busts! Canning and preserving, too.
Comment by Darren (Green Change) Thu Nov 4 18:50:17 2010
Those sounds like very good priorities. I'd say you'll have them mastered within two years, though, and then you'll have to come up with some more. :-)
Comment by anna Thu Nov 4 20:17:25 2010
I loved this post and all the comments. Community online is nice, community in person is nice, community is just good. We've been without it for so long here in NA. So glad to see it manifesting in more and more places. We were almost too far gone. Maybe an economic crisis is just what we needed to realise life alone, working all the time, in pursuit of crap, in debt, does not a life make.
Comment by J Thu Nov 4 23:57:22 2010
I think that community is a double-edged sword, and those of us who live without it tend to romanticize it. Our neighbor who lives in an intentional community told us all kinds of negatives (and a lot of positives too, to be fair) of living with your buddies breathing down your neck. In fact, when that intentional community offered to have us join them, we declined because I really like my space. I'd like to find the happy medium, where I can have my solitude and weirdness, but still have some of the major advantages you find in real community.
Comment by anna Fri Nov 5 13:46:29 2010

@April: When you talk about "overcoming introversion", are you talking about your introvert nature or are you talking about things like shyness or assertiveness or lack of confidence?

Im my personal experience shyness and lack of confidence are afflictions of youth that deminish when experience grows. Experience is also a good cure for lack of confidence. :-)

Speaking for myself, I don't want to change my introvert nature.

Try to make use of your introvert nature. My thirst for knowledge and my ingenuity has led me to an engineering career that suits me very well.

Comment by Roland_Smith Fri Nov 5 15:55:46 2010
I tend to agree with Roland, that introversion is something to roll with and enjoy rather than overcome. On the other hand, it does make it tough sometimes to build your community in a new region. I guess the skills I'm looking for are not so much overcoming introversion as learning how to work with my introversion to still get to where I want to go. And Mark summed that up much better than I do --- "how to meet people as weird as myself."
Comment by anna Fri Nov 5 21:54:41 2010