I've had several versions of requests in recent months about my life at Charisma. I've decided to post that composite answer here.
Every part of my life here is activity that I love and that generates life in me. I'm 74 years old and every person who comes here can't physically keep up with me or my husband (except our youngest grandchildren). Nearly all of our warm weather physical effort is focused on creating our paradise garden Space of Love since we don't yet have a cooperative bear friend to help us out (although a beautiful cinnamon colored bear has been visiting periodically this summer). We have loved watching the wild animals become comfortable around us, even bringing their babies nearby to show us.
Early morning hours are precious - it's our time of individually focusing within while immersed in and communicating with the wonders of life around us. Daytime hours are precious - it's when we do the physical work in building our domain dream; structures, forests, living fence, living house (in part), gardens, etc. I've been a builder most of my life and love this hard work, but I especially have loved re-aligning construction plans to a more harmonic balance with the Nature of our domain. Evenings are precious - it's when I review the day (inner and outer) refine thought patterns, gather information within and without, and sometimes write or read or both. I sleep 9-11 hours a day in the summer to renew because I spend a lot of energy each day on my dream. I wake up, work, contemplate and sleep in the sweet and beautiful cradle of my growing paradise garden Space of Love.
The first nearly four years here were spent focused largely on community. It was frustrating and nearly empty work. It was a great gift to us when the last community members left (although we felt sad at the time). For one, we could review the community-building experiences to glean the wisdom offered by them. But most importantly, from that time till now we spend our thought and energy nearly full time, on the joyful work of creating and enjoying the building of our paradise garden Space of Love, both within and without. We still are doing that and will do so for the rest of our very long lives, even when community does return here, which it will do.
I am immersed in God's thoughts while I'm here, and I rarely leave. In fact, one of the important things I've learned since coming, is that what I thought I knew about God's Law while living in the city was a dim shadow, more like illusion than the rich reality I've come to know in the past 7 years.
Summers are primarily for the physical building of our kins domain dream. We work hard and adjust naturally to the heat. We generally notice little difference between 80° or 110°. It's all sunny & warm for long days, which I love. Nature takes care of our vegetable gardens and they generally need no irrigation even in our semi-arid space. They never need weeded, only harvested as needed (using Ruth Stout method).
After the first freeze, Fall work slows down and then it's primarily preparing for winter. That involves getting our winter supply of wood cut to size and stacked (about two cords), cleaning up the summer construction scraps and tools, cleaning up the workshop, putting fresh straw over the vegetable gardens, getting our water tank spigots safe against hard freeze, planting a few bareroot trees, and gatherings with family (6 grown children with families).
Winter is my favorite time. Physical work is minimal. The very efficient rocket stove is cozy and my house is filled with windows so I can enjoy my domain even when it's 20° below zero. We adjust to the cold as the animals do and spend a lot of time outdoors comfortably. It's a time of renewal, dreaming, deep contemplation, planning, sewing projects, long conversations, and study. Law and government are fascinating to me, and I have studied those extensively for over 25 years before coming here and continue to do so, especially during winter. It certainly isn't the only thing or even the primary thing I study in my evenings and winters. That spot is filled by Nature both inner and outer and has been since 1994. However, I have discovered that all of that legal and government stuff in the outer experience is merely a manifestation wave generated by thought (unconscious thought for the most part and for most people). It's the same operation of thought that must be discovered and re-aligned in order to actually create a physical Space of Love. Nature is also a government of sorts with laws and relationships that must be brought into conscious awareness in order to create and deepen one's Space of Love. It's the most delicious expansion of love I've experienced in my life and it involves every form of life on our domain. By the end of January I begin anticipating green Spring shoots.
Spring is heavenly, of course. We do very little work other than plant some new trees in our young expanding forest, in the orchard and in the living fences. But we watch carefully for the first new plant shoots to show and welcome them profusely. Each new plant type that shows up gets the same joyful welcome and I always feel overjoyed by their return. Each of them are dear friends. We often think we should begin our warm weather work in Spring but never can bring ourselves to do it except to plant some vegetable seeds. It's just too fulfilling to spend that season being surprised and delighted with the renewal and the changes nature brings each Spring. This is a time for touching earth again with bare feet, welcoming and watching the many varieties of birds that nest here each year, for drinking in the magnificence of new growth and the life enhancing sounds, smells, tastes and sights of new life.
We usually plant vegetables all over the place wherever there's space but we made and planted actual gardens for the first time last year. I also always eat the wild food nature provides. The first year here we only had five edible plants all summer. That number has steadily increased to over 90 edible varieties this year (and it was a drought year). I planted none of those. It is Nature's response to our dream. When you leave our land most of the edibles that naturally grow here are not present on adjacent land parcels.
A delight that continues throughout all seasons are visits from my children and their families. Daughter and granddaughter visit two to three times a week. The others live in Denver (one in Oregon) and they visit as schedules allow, some more than others but always enjoyed. Each one has a 2.5 acre plot of land here and some have put up a camper. Two are planning cabins for their plots. We look forward to helping them build.
We live off-grid except for a satellite dish used only for occasional internet access. We put our water in 5 gallon bottles that go on a dispenser. We do not have our water piped and pumped into the house and feel no great need to do so. We use no trash removal service on principle, because we aren't comfortable building a garden spot while trashing another part of the planet. Instead we have worked with Nature to devise several systems for effectively processing all our consumption waste back to the earth or into productivity (even glass and plastics). We do not use recycling for glass, plastics and paper because very little of that is actually recycled.
The quiet here is divine but deceptive. It's only quiet in terms of noises that fill cities. Nature is not silent, and in the absence of city and on-grid noises, I can 'hear' my thoughts far more clearly as well as thoughts (feelings) of the surrounding Nature, and there are many to hear.
Prior to coming here I 'meditated ' regularly, but not since coming here, at least not as I used to do it. Being on our domain and connecting with it is my only version of meditating now. Nature is astoundingly responsive to man in ways I don't think many (if any) people in a city lifestyle can know or experience. At least I did not, and I never knew any who did. Nature is my primary teacher.
I don't see most of my grown children more than two or three times a year, but still, that is not enough to tempt me away from our domain lifestyle and our dream. Here, I can live and thrive like the trees and other plants suited to this land. I can not even entertain a thought of ever leaving here. I would probably die quickly from a broken heart, from the terrible loss of the only true and full 'home' I've ever managed to create or feel. I would miss every blade of grass, every wildflower, the wild edibles, the new plants that show up each year, the heavenly scents that fill the air, the bird songs of the varieties that nest here each new spring, the winter birds, the two deer and antelope herds that have gotten to know and trust us, the rabbits, foxes, skunks, ringtails, and squirrels that scavenge our compost pit without hiding from us, the sound of the river and it's frogs after a hard rain, the woman down the road who is in her garden every day all summer smiling at all who pass, the couple across the arroyo who work to create a permaculture paradise, the rancher next door who sells us his wheat straw harvested for us just the way we need it for our gardens and earth walls. I could never feel whole again anywhere else. Here is home in a way I've never experienced it before in all my years. Next to my husband, living here is the greatest gift I've ever given myself. I am spoiled with and addicted to learning to live in harmony with the nature of THIS land and the ever-changing elements it brings each day, season, and each year.
at Charisma, becoming one of the most beautiful spots on Earth.