Shayna Tivona, from Ashland, OR, attended Whitman College and is working as an Associate Director at Housing Unlimited, Inc. in Maryland. In her latest blog post, Shayna describes her hectic life as a Corps member, and explains how her housemates are helping her de-stress, and grow.
Some days go like this: I feel like I’m being pushed in several directions all at once, stretched apart and then balled up again like I’m Play-Doh that some psychotic kid is playing with. There are so many little things to remember, and inevitably, some fall through the cracks. Like the grammar in the first sentence of this blog. These little things build one on top another to create my life and in the end, my emotional stability. Yes, the roofers came to fix the water damage, but I forgot to warn my housemates they were coming. I spent thirty minutes on the tenant rent roll today and another thirty on cash flow loan analysis, but neither project was finished and I know there will be more to do tomorrow. And oh yes, I have to remember to get my recipe up on the fridge for next week’s dinner. I’ll go to the library and get that book I’ve been wanting to read on my commute, and I’ll get my bike fixed so maybe I can ride to work some time instead of just sitting for two extra hours a day. And then the phone rings: “Hi Mama, how are you? Can’t talk, work cell is ringing.” “Yes Ma’am, I’ll get right on that. Oh sure, I can absolutely make a video to facilitate positive public relations. I’ll do it right away, as soon as I’m back from visiting tenant homes all over Maryland. What was that? It’s due tomorrow? Great. Sounds like a good challenge!” Some days are just like that. And then they might get worse. Or better. It just depends. For example…I’ll be sure to write that blog post for AVODAH too. That will probably happen on the bus ride(s) home, while some stranger pretends she isn’t reading what I am writing, even though we both know that’s what’s going on. Yes, lady, I’m talking about you. But you know what? This is what I signed up for. I wanted to participate in a community, and become a team player, and work together to make this intentional Jewish living community a beautiful, comfortable space to be in.
Sometimes it feels like all the things that got me here are exactly what I don’t want to bring into this year of work and community life. Being independent and self-motivated and strong-willed are all great traits when you’re applying for a job, but when you bring them home night after night, they can be grating on you and on your housemates. I don’t think I was conscious about it when I applied for AVODAH, but one of the things I was really looking for this year was a place where I could be vulnerable. That was one of my main kavanot, or intentions, for this year.
That change doesn’t come quickly. We’ve been moving right along from strangers to friends to maybe something more. Something that will last beyond the walls of our house and through the years. I can feel that support already, and I know others here have felt it from me. It’s such a relief to be able to share with someone else without feeling like it’s a burden. I know that this is what they signed up for too. Of course there will be times when the fire alarm starts chirping because the batteries are low, or I forgot about a meal I signed up to cook and double booked my evening. I will get colds, and bad hair days, and forget to pack my lunch the night before. But already I know that my housemates will be here to tell me that I don’t need to be perfect, that I don’t need to always be taking care of someone else, that it’s okay to just let go. Within these walls I feel safe.
Besides, if I got too stressed out, I would miss the beautiful things about life in DC. I’d miss the hot dog man rushing as fast as he can to deliver dinner to the bus driver while we’re stopped at a red light. I’d miss the realization that I saw that same woman this morning, and now she’s carrying an enormous book on Food and Drug Law as well as her large brown bag. I’d miss the subtle changes that signify summer is turning into fall. I’d miss all five adorable barrettes in a little girl’s hair. And if you don’t take the time to notice that, what do you have time for?