I am writing a series of articles celebrating my friends for these reasons:
- I want to let them know how much I love them!
- I want people who are interested in co-founding the Vegan Utopia Ecovillage to get a sense of the kind of people I like to work with.
- I want to introduce my friends to other friends so we can start creating an online cooperative community
The chances that I would meet Sky were about 1 in a million! But we met–and I think God wanted us to do so!
The sense of gratitude I feel towards Sky for being my friend over the past 4 years. We have a foundation of trust and love which gives me hope that no matter what we go through we will always be friends and be supportive of each other.
After I wrote this article, I realized that I talked a lot about how many conflicts Sky and I worked through. You might wonder, “Why did you want to be friends with someone with whom you had so many conflicts?”
The answer is that we share so many values and goals. We wanted to learn how to love each other even though in many ways we were shining lights on each other’s shadows and sometimes bringing out the worst in each other!
Our values and goals that we shared were so essential l, and so rare to find in one person:
- Living in intentional community and cultivating healthy community relationships. Being community builders.
- Working out conflicts in ways that lead to win-win solutions and growth
- Using tools like Nonviolent Communication to increase our connect to people
- Wanting to help people through coaching
- Wanting to have a friendship that was therapeutic as well as fun
- Having a connection to Jesus and the common desire to pray together each time we spoke on the phone (our friendship has mostly been long distance
- Making and keeping agreements is essential for building trust
Let me start by sharing how we met.
Almost 4 years ago, my 17-year-old daughter had the opportunity to live with her aunt and niece for the summer. I felt guided to come with her to San Diego because she had never lived on her own before.
Maybe I wanted some adventure, too!
Miraculously, I found a place to stay in an intentional community called The Enchanted Garden. I even made enough money during my last days in Fayetteville to pay for the rent. Leslie Goldman, who is the founder of the community, invited me to go to a potluck at a farm.
Out of all the people in the gathering, (and there were lots), I was mainly guided to talk to Sky for some reason. (Maybe he will remind me.)
I was a bit put off by him because he immediately started sharing all kinds of vulnerable things about his life. This is sad because in the past I would do the same thing with people and wonder why they might tend to reject me!
However, we discovered we had some common friends, and we decided to connect and explore how we could cooperate. One of my roommates at the Enchanted Garden was good friends with Sky, and we started working on creating a coaching business together right away.
I loved our calls because Sky had always embraced the idea of having structures that facilitated everyone being able to participate equally. My motto, “Structure is like the banks of a river so that our energies can flow freely” resonated with him. I loved our calls with our other friend, who I will call Jim.
Sky shared my passion for community and thus we had so much in common already. He loved having gatherings at his home in National City, a former museum which was located only 2 blocks from where I lived during a very intense part of my life from age 15-19.
When I returned to Fayetteville after a few months in San Diego, we stayed in touch. I will be forever grateful to him for giving me some coaching when I was struggling with a relationship challenge. We continued pursuing our coaching practice with Jim on 3-way calls and I loved Sky’s steadiness and how I could depend on him to follow through.
We were really disappointed when Jim gradually withdrew from our endeavors without giving any reason. Sky and I share the common experience of getting close to people and then having them reject us or disappear. So we were able to comfort each other and move on.
Sky and I had a commitment to work things out no matter what, and we had some rough spots for sure! I went back to San Diego soon after I returned to Fayetteville because Sky offered me a free place to stay and I wanted to continue to see how we could work together.
Living together was intense because he worked during the day, and at that time of my life (but no more!), I would get lonely and sad if I was alone a lot. But I think I was also deeply affected by the fact that I was living only 2 blocks from the place where I experienced so much pain.
I walked around National City a few times, attempting to heal the memories that specific places brought up, but in some ways, the pain increased,
I see now that instead of trying to work on projects, Sky and I would have been better off working on our inner child healing and use tools that would help us to stop re-creating situations that kept coming up for both of us.
Although we have since resolved this, I still feel sad that I left his house suddenly after a week and moved in with another friend who made her place available. This was one of the many ways that I hurt my friend. I took him for granted way too many times.
Yet as long as I would take responsibility and look at my part in contributing to conflicts and pain, Sky always forgave me. I feel so grateful for that because he really did have some good reasons to give up on me!
Even though I didn’t live at Sky’s home, we still worked together. I got to facilitate a Community: Connect! event that was super successful. I loved that Sky was willing to promote and host this event even though he wasn’t totally clear on what it would look like.
I still remember how we danced at the end, and I facilitated people doing silly motions that really gave us so much joy. This is the song we danced to. Sometimes we recall this time with great enthusiasm. I love Sky’s abiity to be playful and fun.
Another thing I really appreciated about Sky was that he felt connected to Jesus. He had been part of the organization, Teaching of the Inner Christ for a while, although he was no longer attending there. I was really glad that he was accepting of my relationship with Jesus even though back then it was a bit more fundamentalist.
We did the Immanuel Approach healing work together, and have since done it several times, and this is a great thing to have in common.
Twice, we found people that we were sure would be the perfect people to work with. Sky is such a great networker. He is similar to me in that way. He can talk to anyone and make friends quickly. He is passionately committed to doing personal growth through 12 step programs, mainly CODA, and other methods. I don’t think I have ever met anyone who is so committed to growth as he is!
Living in a big city like San Diego expanded my possibilities to connect with people even when I lived in Fayetteville.
Each time we met someone, we had such high hopes for creating a coaching practice. Sky continued to be his dependable self, showing up for calls and following through with what he said he would do. He was creative, supportive and insightful.
Yet both times, our 3rd partner withdrew and did not really communicate in ways that left us feeling complete. I know I had my part in this because my commitment to integrity would not allow our partners to hide out. Sky and I really wanted business partners to be close friends as well as pursuing a business. So in some ways, it was better that the people we worked with decided to withdraw.
After all, Sky and I were willing to be vulnerable and we wanted others to do the same. Our commitment to being honest and looking at our shadow even in the midst of trying to create a coaching business was a bit intense for others, I think.
I admire Sky because even though he has had such a challenging childhood and multitude of losses throughout his adult life, he has always kept this child-like spirit of trusting people and God.
He hasn’t become cynical or discouraged. His ability to bounce back after severe disappointments that he experiences is inspiring to me. And like me, he is making better choices as to where he puts his energy so disappointments come less and less.
Sky worked with Cliff (my former husband and neighbor to the Vegan Utopia Ecovillage site) and I when the ecovillage project was getting off the ground.
I so appreciated his loyal support to this project because he wasn’t sure he would be living at the ecovillage. I really depended on Sky and Cliff during these trying times as we sorted out the vision and values. Sky brings a business sense to the table that I often do not have. He asks good questions.
He is wonderful to work with when it comes to making decisions because he truly believes in making decisions that fit everyone’s needs.
When I think about all that we have gone through during the past four years both together and in our separate lives, I see that we have grown tremendously. Our relationship has continued to deepen, and it was only recently that our friendship has come to a point where we can be more appreciative of each other.
Any time I come to Sky with a concern about some behavior that he exhibited that I did not enjoy, he is totally willing to talk about the isssue take responsibility for his part in the matter. He is so humble in that way. But he also helps me to see what my part is so that I can learn and grow, too.
We also realized that we needed to stay up to the minute in terms of any incompletions we had with each other. Even though we were good at working out the big conflicts, the little things would build up and create walls between us.
Since both of us have been traumatized by rejection so many times, I think we needed to have these years of going through trials together and sticking it out. We created a strong foundation upon which we now can go forward with supporting each other. Throughout our relationship, we have been so vulnerable to each other and worked out so many conflicts which helped us to see our shadows and release behaviors that did not serve us.
And of course, each time a conflict was resolved, we grew closer because our faith in our ability to work things out got stronger. Sky and I are very different in many ways. What is beautiful is that as our friendship expands to agape love, we find that our strengths can complement each other, and we can really help the other overcome our weaknesses through gentle transparency.
I discovered in my relationship with Kim Broniman that it was really helpful to start our meetings with a prayer, sharing appreciation, and then seeing if there were any incompletions. I suggested this format to Sky and he embraced this idea.
After our first use of this structure, we realized that we had a number of incompletions that stretched back as far as a year ago. In a short period of time, we cleared these up and got into a more harmonious and loving flow than we ever have. Now, we use this format each time we connect on the phone, and we are discovering that this is helping us to have so much joy and positive energy and we get so much more done!
Sky and I have not worked on a project in about 9 months. I think that was because we really needed to focus on our friendship. But now, just when I really need his help, Sky is working on helping me to sell the Retreat Center/Farm Animal Sanctuary site
I appreciate how he helps keep me focused and on track as well as doing his part and giving constructive feedback. This has always been a strength in our friendship.
I decided to sell this house land in order to raise funds to complete the building projects on the Vegan Utopia Ecovillage site. In addition, trying to do both projects is way too much to do at this point.
We also are ready to pursue our dream of coaching, and we are discovering our niche. We also think we have a third person to work with–that is going to be revealed soon!
I value Sky in my life, and I truly don’t know what I would have without his steady connection during the past 4 years when I have gone through so many changes that needed to happen in order for me to get to a place where I could be creating the Vegan Utopia Ecovillage. Without his support and friendship, I wonder if I would have been able to weather the many storms I have gone through.
I realize that one of the highest values I have is integrity, and that includes the quality of being willing to work out differences in ways that don’t blame and shame. Sky has demonstrated his integrity and commitment to working things out over and over again.
We usually think of marriage as a lifetime commitment where partners stay with each other through thick and thin. I need this kind of commitment in friends, and I have found it in Sky.
We have always been platonic friends and I think that has simplified our male/female connection in many ways. I may be, for the rest of my life, leading a celibate life. It is possible this is the life I am best suited for in my later years, although I am not sure what might unfold. Having a male friend like Sky with whom I can be so close is invaluable for I want both female and male friends.
Recently, Sky has been inspired to connect with Jesus on a deeper level. And I have been inspired to connect in a different way. No longer calling him Lord and Savior, I cherish Jesus as my friend and guide. I celebrate that Sky and I can connect with Jesus in ways that are nurturing for us, but not limiting or judgemental. We have always honored each others’ spirituality, but now are closer than ever in how we see Jesus and relate to him.
I feel so grateful to call Sky my friend. He is the kind of person I would love to live in community with. Maybe some day he will move here. We will see!
He would like to help the person who buys this place get a retreat center and farm animal sanctuary up and running. He considers living here half of the year (in the warm months.)
Whatever unfolds, I am just glad to have him in my life as friend and business partner. I celebrate Sky and all he brings to my life, and in service to all of life.