Re: A Private person in cohousing
From: Carol R. (
Date: Mon, 6 Nov 2006 14:00:41 -0800 (PST)
  This sounds like a great topic to take up within the community.
  As someone else said, you are in the moving-in stage and getting
  to know everyone's limits and so this adjustment can indeed bring
  out these very issues.
  Here is an example from when I first moved into my community:
  I had been in my community for about 6 months. I am introverted
  and so take time to recharge on my own in my home. I also thought
  that everyone else wanted "space" as well. One of my neighbors
  had also moved in and brought his mother to live with them. Within
  the first month of them moving in, his mother died suddenly. So,
  when I passed him on the sidewalk, he always seemed preoccupied
  to me and so I wanted to be "nice" and not disturb his quiet, so I did
  not say anything to him, I just nodded and moved on. This went on
  for more than 3 months. At one point, he came to my home and
  helped me with a project and at the end of this he asked if he could
  speak with me privately before he left. So, we talked and he asked if
  I was avoiding  him or angry with him. I was shocked and said no, and
  asked why he thought that. Then he said he thought that because I 
  hadn't said "hello" to him when I saw him. I explained that I thought I
  was being "nice" by not speaking when I thought he was wanting to not
  talk. So, we ended up both laughing about our "assumptions" about the
  other person and I asked what he would like and he said he would like
  for me to say "hello" when we passed each other and I agreed that this
  was something I could do.
  So, a long story, and an example of me miscommunicating. I think if
  we had been in the community longer, we would have had that conversation
  So, I would certainly look at having a conversation within the community
  since I would also think there are other folks who may be having a similar
  If you do not have a format for discussing issues of concern outside of
  a "business" meeting, I can tell you one of our formats. We have a "salon"
  on a particular topic and the idea is to let folks share their thoughts and
  feelings without trying to "fix" anything and just have people feel heard. So,
  we pick a 2 hour time slot and a topic. Then, whoever shows up, we again
  state the topic and then put a "talking stick" in the middle of the group. 
  person may speak once by getting the talking stick and telling their thought
  or experience of the topic and then put the talking stick back. Then, the next
  person to feel "inspired" to speak goes. We let everyone have the opportunity
  to speak about their thoughts without "processing" what someone else just
  said, although they can refer to what someone else said if it reminds them
  of something for them. If everyone gets their turn to talk before the time is
  up, then sometimes some folks may go again. This format has worked extremely
  well for us when dealing with difficult or emotional topics.
  I wish you much success with this!!
  Carol Robinson
  Shadowlake Village Cohousing
  Blacksburg, VA
  "Where we are getting ready to welcome Ann Zabaldo and Martie Weatherly
  for a Consensus Workshop sponsored by MAC this coming weekend!!!!! Yeah,

Charlene McNamara <charlenem [at]> wrote:
  Okay, I know it has been discussed a million and one times here, but
I'm in the thick of things here in our new community and need to get
some perspective.

I am a very private person, an introvert. Social settings drain all my
energy. I moved into cohousing because I have young children and
thought this would be a good environment for them and I love the idea
of being friendly with my neighbors. I had GREAT concerns about my
privacy. However, they were quickly erased by the comments read on
this list. Additionally, my social husband assured me that privacy can
easily be found in cohousing. Being that he lived in another cohousing
community for 5 years, I released my concerns and embraced the idea of
moving into community. This was 4 years ago.

We've been through the development process and have lived here now for
8 months. I can honestly say I have never been more unhappy in my
entire life. I feel that every movement and breath I take is noted by
my neighbors. I am constantly feeling like I need to be "on." I am
depleted and exhausted all the time. I run home to shelter myself from
this onslaught daily and hide behind my closed blind windows and
doors. I always have my "do not disturb" sign up. I have it up so much
that most people now ignore it. A case of the boy who cried wolf,
"well that sign is always up, I just figured you forgot to take it
down." I have become depressed and have gained a lot of weight.

I have wonderful neighbors here in our community and am friendly with
most of them, some I am close with and others rather distant, but
neighborly with all of them. I don't have concerns about the people
here, just that I am constantly overstimulated by all of them all the
time. It is simply exhausting to me to say hello to each and every
person I ever walk by. Yet there seems to be an expectation that I do
that. I literally have a few neighbors who go out of their way to get
my attention just to wave to me from across the property. I know they
are just being friendly, but there doesn't seem to be an understanding
that some of us simply don't always want to be social.

Am I the only person out there in the cohousing community who has had
this experience? It seems I'm the only one in our community of 90 or
so people. I am doing my best to focus on the positive and appreciate
the good things that community does offer, but being exhausted and
stressed out all the time does not help me in this endeavor! I really
want to believe that cohousing can work for me, but spend most of my
time dreaming of moving out and finding a nice single family home
where I simply have nice neighbors, again.


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