I love sitting at my writing desk, wrapped in the peaceful sanctuary of the Nevada desert. It is a special time for me to reflect on some of my feelings, dreams and goals. It is so different from my early years in Missouri where any display of emotion was met with opposition ranging from mild disdain to utter intolerance. This was a farm, for heaven’s sake. How far could we go in life if we couldn’t lop the head off a turkey and see it flog the ground in its death throes before meeting its proper destiny—to feed the human race. After all, that’s what animals were put here for…to feed us and clothe us, right?

In the hierarchy of the Missouri farm, everything had a purpose and a place. Sex was for having young’uns who would try to wrest another fifty years of crops out of the soil when we were gone. Nature was put here to serve us, and for us to rise above. Conventional wisdom was the mortar that held the bits and pieces of culture into rigid order and pattern.

Except that those notions are all a bunch of hogwash! The ancient Greeks discovered stoicism, and it did not prevent their marble halls from crumbling to ruin. At least they endured the fall of their civilization with a stiff upper lip, for all that was worth.
Fortunately, having contracted some therapeutic help, I was able to become reacquainted with my emotions and embrace their warmth and passion. They are a valuable asset that are the pathway to our heart and simply require personal management. Without emotions to express feelings we are robots. Well, who wants to relate with a robot?

This weekend after watching two separate interviews we contributed for the sexual revolution documentary, I felt nostalgic for the good ole days of the 60’s and 70’s. The creation of Sandstone Retreat was a dream I carried with me from childhood. It was a dream formed in nature while walking home from school through the woods and cavorting with other animals. The environment felt so free and the air so light. Never saw a critter having a bad day. It felt as though we were all one without casting any judgment or guilt.

John & I created the perfect natural environment with Sandstone Retreat. Knowing that the environment would mold each and every one of us into it, and eventually members felt comfortable enough to remove their masks and felt a sigh of relief to feel their true nude self. It was a welcome relief to feel acceptance of body, mind, spirit, and at one with each other and the environment. The Sandstone environment washed out all negative thoughts and replaced them with enlightened and positive experiences that will never been forgotten.

Severing Ties

Hello Mom,

Remember me? Ironic isn’t it that I should start a string of good byes with a hello, and yet I have changed so much I was afraid you wouldn’t know me. Yes, its little Barbara, though with the passage of time I’ve come to look more like a sister. The wrinkles we share—some would call them character—were etched there by hard work and care, but the type of work and the nature of that care is where the resemblance ends. Our parting was a bit like one of those intersections where you can only turn left or right. You went your way and I went mine. We both aged, but I got there from living, you from existing.

I didn’t say good bye before I headed west to make my way in Southern California. I didn’t think you would listen or want to hear my reasons for the need to completely sever our ties.  Somehow having to settle for saying it AT you rather than TO you was just too much and so I skipped it.

We had sixteen uncomfortable years together. I might get a charitable impulse to say that there was blame on both sides, but how can I?  I was the child…you were the adult…you can’t expect me to supply the guidance, the example, love enough for both of us?  You muffed it, and the time we could have been not only family but good friends was lost forever. Damn, that hurts, but farm folk like you value honesty, and that’s the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

What did you tell your friends at church? That I wanted to head to Hollywood and be a movie star? Or that I was an ungrateful brat who dashed off without so much as a good bye? I’ll grant you this, I was ungrateful. Most people have very little gratitude for sixteen years of emotional neglect.

I spent sixteen years very much alone, trying to figure everything out for myself.  That was hard and painful, and being that I was a girl, it felt as though I was not worthy of family support or an investment in my future.  You were not there to help me through my hard days.  I am not sure you or dad even knew how.  I just wanted to feel that I was important. I clung to the hope that it was not somehow all my fault. My faithful little mutt named “Boots” believed in me. So did my rag doll “Little Orphan Annie” whose kindly whispers were probably echoes from my own indomitable spirit.

After a while I gave up on you, deciding that the Stork had made an error and delivered me to the wrong family. And I would leave soon as humanly possible and spare us both a lot of heartache.

Good bye, Mother. There, I said it, but I have another one. What most people rate as a mother I never had, so I could never lose it. I did miss like holy hell all the things you could have been if you would have—or could have—put your mind to it. Now you are laid to rest with your folks. I was not there to throw in a handful of earth—that happened when I was sixteen and shook the dust of that crummy town from my boots. Still, in honor of the woman you could have been, good bye. I hope you found freedom on the other side, or at least some inkling of what opportunities you missed.

To this day, after all the success that has befallen me, I’ve still have those early feelings of abandonment and on some days feel utterly worthless and helpless.  It’s time to say good bye to that too. There is a bright tomorrow just over the horizon, and I want to see the sun rise without the baggage of yesterday weighing me down for one more minute. With only one life to live I needed to fill it with discovery, adventure, loving relationships and experiential learning. Life is too valuable to waste on mediocrity and loneliness.  It may have been enough for you. Maybe it wasn’t and you just didn’t know why it hurt. Yet I am living proof that you don’t have to be a victim of your own upbringing. I hope wherever you are that you have discovered this.


What Is Life Without Rules?

There were hundreds if not thousands of laws that were strictly enforced at Sandstone. Without their help, there would be no cooperation between plants and animals (You give me oxygen and I’ll give you carbon dioxide), and the ice cubes in our drinks would sink rather than float. Without the law of gravity, even the cuckoo clocks wouldn’t work! It was our zeal to obey such laws that forced us to throw off the pretentious and frigid rules of “polite society.” Nature was invited back to impose its time-honored order and pattern. Emotions were allowed to do what they were designed to do, bodies were allowed to function according to plan, and stress resumed its ancient role as a response to life threatening emergencies rather than trying to be a lifestyle. In short we saw that man’s “conquest over nature” was a lot of hogwash trumped up by an antacid company to sell more product. We wanted to take less Pepto Bismol and let nature win a few rounds.

Laws that make us who and what we are rather than something we’re not were just fine with us. John and I spent the better part of our adult lives trying to rediscover obeying the laws of nature. Many of them had been forgotten in our mad haste towards “progress.” Retrieving these from the dustbin of history meant discarding a lot of foolish edicts and mandates crafted by folks afraid music might (gasp!) lead to DANCING!

Because we are born with our human nature, children must be constantly watched and thrashed until they learn not to listen to their inner song and begin marching to the drumbeat of conventional wisdom. Bit by bit they shed the nature of “human nature” and they nearly lose the human along with the nature. “Almost” I say because the stress, regret, repressed rage, hidden longings, and feelings that there should be something more than this keep throbbing in the breast along the despairing trudge to the grave. How could we be happy living with a false self known as the ego? When the ego said; no you are not allowed to feel good, we at Sandstone said, “If it feels good do it!” We did it and it felt good, which was living proof we were on the right path. Our hearts only spoke the truth!

This situation screamed for an alternative lifestyle that by passed the negative ego and moved to our heart where we could strengthen our spirit. Our heart is five hundred times more powerful than our brains! Now we would listen to our hearts and be free to enjoy living daily in a state of happiness and joyful bliss, with the help of our environment; nestled in a quiet and beautiful natural setting called Sandstone Retreat.

Our discovery; we no longer had a need for rules that would simply infringe on our natural high and quash the inner joy and happiness, which was our God given right, and heartfelt by everyone in the community, leading us into a brave new love community. From what I know, it appears that we should feel good all of the time and it is possible! Am I wrong?

A couple of points that could be interpreted as rules at Sandstone were; don’t force yourself on anyone, and no show of violence will be tolerated. Any display of either one would be grounds to cancel memberships. We scheduled Monday night meetings to hear and clear any grievances from the family members. Any further questions were about scheduling of tasks to be done.