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Life Advice for Your 20 Year Old Self with Steve Torma at Earthaven Ecovillage

(Transcript from video)

Courtney Brooke: Hi Steve.

Steve: Hi.

Courtney Brooke:  I was just noticing you know in my life the longing for more mentorship and elders. So I’ve been asking some people in my life who are who are more experienced and farther along the journey. If you could give yourself some advice when you were 20 years old, what would it be?

Feelings and Needs

Steve: Wow I like the question. Well, the first thing that comes to my mind is the concept of feelings and needs.

It’s the amazing realization that everything that I do is an attempt to meet a need. All of my feelings are this amazing elegant feedback system that my body mind has to guide me. So I would encourage my 20 year old self to get more in touch with my feelings and learn what the basic needs are. You know that I think that would have been incredibly powerful.

Pain Can Inform Life

I think maybe the other thing would be that when painful things happen, it doesn’t mean necessarily that there’s something wrong or that I’ve done anything wrong or anyone else has done anything wrong. When you look out in nature you see death and destruction all the time that leads to life. So I would tell my 20 year old self: yes, feel the uncomfortable painful feelings. Don’t deny those and don’t repress that. But also don’t jump to conclusions that just because this thing is painful that is necessarily bad for me. I have a lot in my own life, I had a lot of stories about that, that made everything much more difficult. That pain is a way for life, to get information about life.

Failure = Living Systems Educating Themselves

The third one is kind of similar. It is around the concept of failure. I had a dear friend who years ago told me this: “there’s no such thing as failure, there’s only feedback and learning.”  If I could have had that wisdom when I was 20; I used to beat myself up so much about having failed at this and failed at that. Then eventually adopted a more evolutionary and nature perspective of reality. Like the quote “failure things happen all the time but they’re just part of living systems educating themselves.”  That would have given me a lot of relief.  I had much more energy in my life if I had less of that failure thought and more of just realizing that “oh, this is just a living system, I’m a living system learning.”

Reclaim the Sacred…Earth, Feminine, and Relationship to Our Bodies

Let’s see the fourth one I think would be around the concept of the sacred. What does it mean for things to be sacred? What things are sacred and what things have lost their sacredness in our culture that would be really helpful if I could reclaim? The three that come to mind is something that I think I heard from Starhawk. I’m not sure exactly where I heard it.  The three aspects of life that got most damaged in the patriarchy has been our relationship to the earth, our relationship to the feminine, and our relationship to our bodies. I would I really encourage my 20 year old self to reflect on and pray and read and whatever would help to reclaim my the sense of the sacredness of earth and feminine in my body.

Courtney Brooke:  Wow thanks so much Steve. Thank you.

Cosmological reweaving, nonviolent communication, sacred, Steve Torma


Courtney Brooke

Courtney Brooke (she/her) is a Social Ecologist, Regenerative Designer, and educator whose work aims to reconnect people with a sense of belonging to place. Her work in the world aims to address the root cause of today’s overwhelming ecological challenges – that humans are starved of a sense of belonging to the places they live. Courtney Brooke was raised on a small farm in North Georgia, and has been guided by a lifetime of living close to the land. Her greatest teachers have been the Appalachian Mountains, the land of Aotearoa, and Selu, the Corn Mother. She holds a degree in Ecology from the Odum School of Ecology, University of Georgia, and has 10 years of experience facilitating earth-based education, ecological landscape design, women’s rites of passage, and cultural healing. Courtney Brooke has taught and facilitated environmental education curriculum, Deep Ecology, Permaculture Design Courses, hands-on craft and farming workshops, and Holistic Management to a wide range of audiences in nine countries from toddlers to adults and everyone in between. Deeply committed to spreading the healing that comes from belonging to the places we live, Courtney Brooke is passionate about designing learning opportunities that celebrate life. She lives at Earthaven Ecovillage where she tends the land, raises food, participates in communal ritual agriculture, swims in wild water, enjoys the mysterious blessing of being alive, and tends her own wild Hearth. She loves cooking home-grown and wild foraged foods, playing her flute to the sunrise, running on mountain trails, making compost piles, crafting from natural materials, and bringing people together to create beauty that feeds the holy.

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