Flash blogs are short posts written to a shared prompt during community discussion time -- with a ten minute time limit. This practice helps us get used to blogging, stay in communication with our followers, and challenge ourselves to not overthink how we share with the world. Please excuse any typos or errors. See each YAV's response to this shared prompt below!
Oh man, Alison gave us a tough prompt for this flash blog. As soon as she said it, my mind began to race through the past three months trying to come up with an answer. The answer I will settle on is cleanliness. I have lived in a clean environment all my life. My parents kept my childhood home well maintained, I always cleaned my dorm room in college, and (for the most part) my housemates and I work hard to maintain a clean space in our YAV house. What I have learned from working at CHRPA is that cleanliness is a luxury that many do not have.
As part of my job, I walk into many people’s homes, and the reality is that most are not clean. I have seen varying levels of disorganization, clutter, and hoarding during my three months on the job. I will admit, my gut reaction is to make a snap judgement. Why would someone live this way? I often think. Yet when you talk to homeowners, there are so many layers behind their living situations. Elderly or disabled clients lack the physical mobility to move about their house or do chores. Other clients juggle multiple jobs while raising a family, so there is no time left in their day to tend to household matters. Still, others may have lived their whole lives in poverty, so it may be hard for them to throw things away.
The point is, anytime that voice pops into my head asking me to make a snap judgement, I try to step back and see the big picture. The virtue of maintaining a clean home is ingrained in us all our lives. Afterall, the saying goes “cleanliness is next to Godliness.” But the more I see, the more I realize this attitude is just another way to shame those who lack the privilege of having extra time and resources that they can use to take care of their home. I am grateful that I have the ability to live in a home that is “clean”, but I am actively trying to separate the morality and judgement that can so often by tied into the arbitrary definition of what makes a home clean.
Things are currently going well for us in Tucson. I am currently very thankful for my home community. We have our differences, but I am so happy to see how much progress we have made towards creating a well balanced intentional community. My fellow house mates (Tanner, Dakota, and Miranda) are all great people and I feel as though in such a short time we have gotten to know each other very well and I am equally excited to see where this journey will take us next. Though this year has already had many unexpected surprises and challenges I feel confident that I can look to my community for guidance in my time of need and feel reassured with their responses. I feel so grateful to be here and experiencing all of this alongside those who felt called to support me through your prayers and interest in our work. I encourage you to also look at the current YAV page on the Presbyterian website and read some my other housemates blogs so that you can get a better picture of our journey/challenges/passions and whatever else we are currently going through.
Thank you all and I am so excited to see where this journey will take all of us next!
During our community discussion time on Friday, November 16, we were given 10 minutes to write on the prompt: What is something you are grateful for that you used to not be grateful for?
Due to luck of birth, being born in the United States to a middle class family, I have almost always had hot showers and baths, with the exception of a sibling using up all of the hot water before I showered. I remember as a child I would stay in the bath tub playing, singing, enjoying the water, for hours! My mom would say, “Why are you still in there? The water is cold now!”
As a teenager, a hot shower was one of the places I could go to escape from the stress of high school academia, scholarship applications, and social anxieties. I was in the habit of taking showers first thing before bed, which was often in the wee hours of the morning. Especially during the winter months in Wyoming, I would take a hot shower, then run into my room where I turned my furnace on full-blast and laid in front of it until I was lulled to sleep.
All of this to say, I have regularly enjoyed hot showers in my life, but I usually took them for granted. I didn’t stop to think, “Wow, I am thankful for that steamy shower!” There have been two periods in my life in which I distinctly remember not having access to hot showers. First, was when I was studying abroad in Ecuador. According to the study abroad program I went through, our host families were supposed to provide us with hot water. My host family said that my shower should have been hot, but it was only about 5% of the time. (I thuuuuuuroughly enjoyed those 5% days). I became used to the cold or, if lucky, lukewarm temperatures, and adapted. I executed my shower routine in record time, and then quickly went into my bedroom and crawled under the covers to warm up.
The second period of time in which I did not have hot showers, was when I moved into our YAV house in August. During the summer months, the cool showers didn’t feel too bad. As October approached, though, the cold showers were uncomfortable. I talked about it with my housemates, and it seemed that we were all experiencing the same shivery showers. At first, we accepted the cold water as part of our house, and jokingly chalked it up to be part of simple living. After a while (as outside temperatures dropped) we decided to ask our landlord/maintenance guy about it. He came over the same day we called, and with one twist of a knob, solved our problem! Apparently our water heater was set to “cool,” likely because of the summer months, and because the house was vacant for about six weeks before we arrived. We now have the luxury of hot showers!
This small example of shower temperatures reminds me of a few of the larger ideas that underlie the YAV program. First, it caused me to recognize my privilege. I have had the privilege to access hot water throughout my life. I had the privilege to call a maintenance person who came and fixed our problem for free. Second, I was reminded that I, nor my housemates, knew everything. It was a simple fix, but we were clueless. I was reminded that as a YAV, I should try not to come into a community or to a setting assuming that I know everything. I should try to rely on the expertise of the locals and those who were here before me, and may be here long after I leave.