A recent post by Caitlin Shetterly had me nodding in agreement…yes, yes, yes! The American Dream of a house with a white picket fence is not my dream yet I chased it for years. It wasn’t until everything fell apart in the recession that I looked for another way.
At first, I looked for a way to ride out the recession. We needed to buy some time. I assumed we would eventually get back right back on the American Dream track.
It didn’t work out that way.
We spent a year living and working alongside adults with intellectual disabilities on a biodynamic farm in Ireland for a year. All five of us — Mom, Dad, teenage daughter, eight year-old daughter with Down syndrome, and two year-old little boy. We were house parents in a Camphill Community. All of our needs were met; we received a small stipend for our wants.
We lived without a dishwasher, microwave or television, and shared a car. We learned to make yogurt and bread, candles and baskets. We used a clothesline. We learned to cope with the lack of privacy that comes with living in a small community sharing resources.
We learned about ourselves and each other by what we missed, and what we didn’t miss about our comfortable, suburban American lifestyle.
It was hard to leave the farm.
Returning to suburbia was shocking. Much remains in our daily life from our time on the farm. We are resolved to dream our own dreams and follow our own path. How can there possibly be one dream for so many different kinds of people? You just have to brave enough to follow your own heart and forget all the glossy marketing about the American Dream.
We kept a journal of our time on the farm: www.familyhiatus.typepad.com
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