Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Dreaming Big: The Course

If you decide to enroll in a Mondo Beyondo course, please click through from my website! I will earn $20 that will go straight into my Dreaming Savings Account (sorry for the shameless self-promotion!)

Last month, I enrolled in Mondo Beyondo, an online course about dreaming big. Unfortunately, a few things conspired to make my experience less than fruitful:

  1. I should have waited until my calendar cleared a bit before tackling a new and ambitious undertaking (in Mondo Beyondo speak, we call this "making a clearing."). March was frenetic and frazzled. I traveled four times and had something on my calendar every single day except Tuesday, March 23. Egad!
  2. One or two of the initial exercises didn't resonate with me, and I used that as an excuse to procrastinate. For example, it's not helpful for me to think back on my childhood dreams because I'm already living those dreams (being a teacher and a writer) and I'm still yearning for new landscapes. Also, I didn't do well with freewriting my Mondo Beyondo list. After twenty minutes of it, I was staring at a bunch of mumbo-jumbo.
  3. I didn't realize there was an online discussion area chock-full of incredibly inspiring and creative people until the very last week. Duh! I would have been much more motivated if I had been interacting with others all along.
The good news is that all is not lost! The incredible course creators will leave the materials up for a while, and the community discussion area will be open as long as it's being used. Plus, a bunch of us have decided to work through the course again together. Ya-hoo!

This time, my list is formulating in my mind already. This past weekend, I helped Matt formulate some big dreams for himself (related to photography and running), and we hammered out some shared goals: lots of vacation time, a summer cabin in the mountains, work that brings us meaning/joy and benefits the world, [to be continued].

My own goals have been difficult to formulate because I want to get them right. I only want to add things to my list that bring me closer to authenticity; I don't want to do things that merely impress others or earn me affirmation and affection.

I've also been struggling because my most immediate big goal is to have a healthy baby, and that's not something I can plan or coordinate. When I do get pregnant, I want to have time to nourish the baby, myself, and our family. I want the revolution to start at home. I don't want to be so engrossed or embroiled in other projects that I'm frantically running from thing to thing and not immersing myself in the joy of life.

On the other hand, I don't want to focus all my attention on the baby. I want to pursue other aspirations and interests. I've been trying to figure out how to balance my long-term goals (starting an infant to 8th-grade public Montessori charter school) with my more immediate baby goal (which may or may not be immediate, depending on how the conception process goes!).

I've been trying to identify other projects that align with my ultimate school goals without completely commandeering all my time/energy.

Phew!

The one thing I am pretty sure about is my desire to work with other people to create a small neighborhood of 6-8 homes that balances independence with interdependence. We would own and live in individual homes, but we would share communal areas (like an organic garden, natural pool, art studio, ping-pong table, etc.). All of us would embrace and actively embody interdependence, health and wellness, environmental stewardship, conscious consumption, and kindness.

There's a four-foot fence around the entire property (so Hoss and his doggy friends can run freely), and the path around the outside is a gravel driveway and running trail. The big building in the center is a communal area. The bottom floor has a banquet size table (there will be one outside, too), which we will use for communal dinners once a week or so. Upstairs, there's a studio apartment for an artist-in-residence (who receives free housing in exchange for art lessons), and the other half of the upstairs is a shared studio space.

I'm excited to immerse myself more fully in the Mondo Beyondo course this time around!

What dreams are brewing in your head?



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10 comments:

DancingGrapes said...

I LOVE this communal living idea! My dream is to eventually direct an artist colony based on communal living, community building, and harboring peace and art. I like your idea of bringing those things into not just artists but neighborhood living! Anyway, I'll totally move into the circle!

Virginia said...

Okay, now you really need to read The Story Of Stuff, because Annie Leonard lives in a community just like this! (At least, I think it is just like that — she didn't include a diagram. ;) I love the idea in theory, though I worry I'm not social enough to enjoy it in actuality (plus I tend to be a little control-freak-ish about my personal space).

Regardless, I'm looking forward to hearing more about how your big goals take shape... xo

Kelsey said...

Your community idea is amazing! I feel inspired just hearing about it and seeing your drawing.

stephanie said...

I love your inspiration! From your previous post I decided to register for the May Mondo Beyondo class and I wish I would have had your link, but I did put your name down as the reference so hopefully they will put two and two together. :)

When you lived in Colorado do you recall reading about a community similar to that out here? I can't remember if it was Longmont, or what it was called, but I remember also being inspired by that.

Meg said...

I don't know if this will help your uber planning side, but I'm puting it out there... I have a life list that is a HUGE deal to me. It's sort of a compilation of my Mondo Beyondo lists (I started doing the lists with Andrea back in 2003 or 2004, can't remember). Anyway, I put it away, where I can't see it, but I know where it is. I only take it out when I feel like, "Huh, I want to see what's on it again," or "Huh, I want to be inspired."

But here is the magic thing - when I don't FOCUS on it, they happen. I make them happen, or they fall into place, or what have you. I think of my 8 Mondo Beyondo hard to even dream up goals from 03-04, all but TWO have happened, or are in the process of happening. And the other two now seem like natural acheivable goals that will happen in a resonable amount of time. So - HOW CRAZY IS THAT? And that list is so old it's lost half the time.

So. This is in case you need permission to NOT figure out how.

AZ said...

My husband and I just sat down and examined your living community plan in great detail--me narrating the ways in which I love it, him nodding and saying "You're right, Sara Cotner IS awesome." So, now that he's on board, we just have to figure out how to make such big dreams happen for ourselves! (or at least how to concretize the dreams in the first place). Let us know when you get around to taking applications...

Sara E. Cotner said...

@ Everyone: You all make me smile. Thank you for existing out there in the ether!

@ Virginia: I really do need to read the book. Damn my library.

@ stephanie: I'm not sure exactly which community you're talking about. It's probably a co-housing community, which is a really awesome concept.

@ Meg: Thank you for sharing your experience! I'm definitely struggling with the whole dream-big-and-then-lean-into-the-universe-and-let-everything-happen. I love planning. I'm not sure if it's a control thing (which I definitely have issues with!) or if it's just a genuine interest. Planning and working toward something is so much fun to me.

@ AZ: You crack me up! P.S. I loved reading your blog. Looking at the consumption side is so, so interesting...

beth said...

Hi Sara, visiting via Mondo Beyondo. I LOVE this idea - and what a great place to be an artist-in-residence. Look forward to re-dreaming with you these next few weeks. I also didn't discover the community until the last week and that's when thins really began to take off!

Kirstie said...

What you said about only adding things to your list that bring you closer to authenticity really resonated with me. I'm at that 'I'm going to graduate soon what the heck am I going to do with myself?' stage of my life and I'm finding it difficult to decide which path will bring me closer to my dreams. It's hard to find a balance between on the one hand wanting to challenge myself and be my best and on the other doing things because they reflect who I am, not who others expect me to be. I think reading your musings has at least got me closer to knowing what my dreams really are though, so thankyou!

Michelle said...

I don't usually post comments, but this post just struck a chord with me because I've had an almost identical vision about a shared community neighbourhood similar to what you've drafted here! Very cool!

And I live in Houston, too! I wish this existed now!

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