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  • Jenna Dalton

Something Old...Something New


Ok here goes something:

I have never "journaled" on a computer before this. I always enjoyed the written word by hand. The cursive loops, the real paper, the feel of the pencil in my hand. Today I am trying something new here and it fits. It fits with all the changes that are happening in me and in the world right now.

I'm rough drafting on a laptop...

I have been a Waldorf teacher for over ten years. In that time I have given countless talks on the effects of media and screen time on the brain, I have lived in a protective unplugged bubble of biodynamic food, no TV or wifi and silk and woolen fabrics. I have lived my life in constant counter culture thinking this must be the route to true happiness and enlightenment.


That life was something old... here goes something... Something shifted and now that safe and wonderful haven of goodness has started to feel stifling and over protective. Don't get me wrong, I loved being nourished by my community. It was the best place to raise my daughters and heal my own wounds and spring off onto a deep and centered spirituality. I have an understanding of the human being now that is thorough and touches on the connection of body, mind and spirit and it came largely from Rudolf Steiner's teachings.

However, now I want to live in more of the world.

I reflect now and find it interesting that so much of my adult life, so far, has been spent looking for a community that would shield me from all the evils of the world, protect me from the assholes and the greed and the violence. A safe haven that would keep me and my children away from all the hype, all the media, all the dis-ease, all the temptations that seem to lurk around the corner of every street these days. But that something old was motivated by fear...

This something new is motivated by curiosity and investigation... What feels right for me now is to take what I know, what I feel and what I do out into the world in a bigger way. I want to test my spiritual theories out on the big picture. It's so easy to preach to the choir. So safe to exist with people who agree with all of my values. But I feel the deep desire inside me to expand now. This plugged in writing is a little baby step toward realizing this want.

WARNING BIG REALIZATION HERE! The external things we do everyday - what we have, buy, do and create matter so much less than how we feel while we're doing them...

For years I was living below the poverty line in a house in the heart of hipster SE Portland with no wifi, eating nothing but quinoa and biodynamic veggies. I was living with my ex husband so that we wouldn't disrupt the children’s rhythm. I was going to sleep every night at 9pm and waking every day at 5 to do yoga and meditate. I went to discount movies and People's Yoga. Any music in our house was live music played by us. There was no TV. We produced little to no garbage. We pickled and fermented. We made our own granola. Doesn’t it sound romantic? Doesn’t it sound like the Portlanders DREAM!?!? Well, my body felt healthy and strong, my righteous pride and image were intact, but my mind and my heart were barely surviving. I was lonely... and I was really depressed. I was doing everything right externally to be happy and internally I was starving.

I still don’t entirely get it but listen to this!

Now I live in the suburbs just miles from my old high school. I enjoy every day with the love of my life in a house that is more plugged in than I know what to do with. We have Direct TV, wifi, Netflix, Hulu and we own an Alexa. Our vacuum is a robot named Gloria and I am writing on a computer now instead of a notebook. Some food I eat is not organic. I go to Zumba. I stay up late and watch movies with my love, I drink alcohol and eat things that I warmed up in ....I’ll say it!... a microwave... For the first time in my life I throw food scraps in the garbage - that's right folks - I don’t compost... and I am happier than I have ever been in my life. I am ecstatic in fact!

Go figure...

Listen, it is not because I have embraced technology and cheated on my environmental habits that I have so much joy in my life now! It’s not because I live in the suburbs that I’m finally happy. That's not what I am saying. But I do feel like I am happy now because I have made a choice to be part of the world again, because I have let love into my life without judgement. Because being connected to other human beings is more important to me now than being or living right. I feel like I matter in the lives of a wide variety of people now. I feel like I fit in somewhere in the larger scheme of things, and I don’t feel like I am swimming upstream all the damn time. I feel like a diversity of experiences can come to me now in a way that I never allowed them to before. I feel like I can say yes to more.

I feel less judgmental and more loving.

I feel like I have a say in every moment. I feel total permission to make mistakes. I feel like I know myself better than ever before. And is there room for improvement? Sure! Is it my hope that soon we compost and recycle more and use less plastic? Yes! Is it my hope that we can preserve game night and reading out loud as a family in the presence of that big screen TV? Of course! But none of that is going to come at the expense of my connection to the world. I have reset my priorities.

What am I trying to get at here?

Two things...

1) Changing the world through denying the self is not the answer. It’s not sustainable nor is it self loving. I’m not doing anyone a favor denying myself love just because statistics say divorce will harm your children. I am not doing anyone a favor denying myself food just because it’s not grown in the most ethical and compassionate way possible. I’m not doing anyone a favor by denying myself comfort, warmth and laughter just because others are suffering in the world. I am not doing anyone a favor denying myself a home and love and dream life just because it's not in the hippest part of town. I make the world a better place by being the best version of me. By taking good care of myself first, by living well myself first. Sure I can have ideals and places to strive for, but not at the expense of my happiness. It is so much more important that I am allowing, expanding, loving and finding BALANCE.

And 2)

Money and technology are not the root of all evil. In fact their beautiful presence in my life is making it possible for me to have some mind-space here and to write like I have wanted to for twenty years and to get it out there in the world. You are reading these words because I stopped trying to do everything right and started doing something from love and joy and fun and just plain feeling good.

So here goes something old... and here comes something new...


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