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Breitenbush Hot Springs logo

Learning to live in Community

Published October 12th, 2019 in Community Perspectives

by Susa
When I arrived at Breitenbush 3 1/2 years ago as a summer hire, I was immediately taken by it and certain that I would never leave again if it could be arranged. After all, here was everything I wanted: Community, Nature, Hot Springs and a paying job with excellent benefits. I was ecstatic when a few months later I was offered a full time job on the Systems Team. 
I felt a calling to be here and offer my expertise as a builder and project planner. I had been hired specifically in the role of Team Coordinator for my team and in addition chose to involve myself in the Facilities Council, assigned with project planning. I ran and was elected to a two year term on the Board of Directors. I loved my work and more often than not worked many hours in excess of the required minimum 32 hours per week. 
All this went very well and was rather fruitful for the first 1-1/2 years, then challenges arose and amplified and I became increasingly miserable. 
I am a very social person and have adapted to different and changing environments many times in the course of my life, always finding it easy to forge and explore new friendships and shared adventures. I am outspoken and opinionated, and felt that it was my right to express my opinions openly and honestly. I lived and acted much in the same modus operandi that had garnered me much success in the outside world. I was driven by the desire for quick and efficient outcomes and by the need to gain and maintain control. And after 18 months at Breitenbush, I had not only failed to forge new friendships, but had managed somehow to create a feeling of animosity and controversy with several community members over a variety of issues. 
I was asked to relinquish my post as Team Coordinator and also asked to move out of the shared house I had enjoyed so very much. I was in conflict with some of my teammates and felt generally deeply hurt, rejected and misunderstood. 
I sought new jobs outside of the Community and dreamt ardently of returning to warm, sunny California where I was certain I would once again find a situation in which I could feel valued and appreciated for my skills, knowledge and expertise as well as for simply being me. I landed a few job interviews and quickly realized that in fact I had no desire to re-enter the ‘regular’ work world. Meanwhile the conflicts in the Community continued and escalated and I felt increasingly depressed. I told myself I would stick around until a new opportunity presented itself and motivated myself along with the desire to conclude my 2 year commitment to serve on the Board of Directors.
It has now been 3-1/2 years and I have finally adapted. I love my Community and I am happy with my job. I have no desire or intention to move on any time soon. What has changed, you might wonder? I chose to change the only thing I had control of: my attitude and my expectations. I have come to understand and accept that my ideas, my solutions are not always necessarily the best or the most appropriate for a given situation. My opinions are no more valid than those of others, my views no more interesting or appealing. I accept that the group-decision-making moves slowly towards solutions. I have stepped back some from politics and keep reminding myself not to take things personally. I make more art and practice more Qi Gong. I work less and feel less driven towards outcome and more comfortable with the process. I continue to contribute without expectation of results. I still express myself open and honestly but do so more consciously and discerningly, considering the impact of my words and actions. 
I rage less and enjoy more. 
I DO less and I AM more.
I used to think that it takes one trip around the sun to become integrated into a new place. And while this rule of thumb may well apply to the world at large, I have revised my thinking and now believe that it takes at least three trips around the sun to become integrated into a tight-knit community that values personal development.