Learning a New Way

22 Apr

I have been here at Wettenbostel for almost a year now.  What an opportunity and challenge it has been! This year has been packed full with new experiences and people.  The foundation of my “existence” here is my agreement with my hosts to do work exchange.  This idea is simple… I work a certain number of hours a day in exchange for room and board.  It’s a brilliant idea and opens up a world  of opportunity.  My host here in Wettenbostel is very generous about opening his doors to people willing to lend a hand with the work.  He has recently become a member of the website helpx.net, a resource that connects travelers with hosts offering room and board in exchange for work they may need at their home, farm, business.  We currently have two visitors through helpx from Canada visiting here for a month… or longer as things may go.

Living this past year in exchange for room and board at the Seminar Haus has been interesting and challenging.  Here in Wettenbostel we are asked to work three to four hours a day… but the truth and experience of that is we are part of a “community” here and asked to contribute to what needs to be done on any given day.  Some days before seminars we can get very busy and rushed and it isn’t unusual to work 8 or ten-hour days.  Generally speaking we do not have days off here, although sometimes after a seminar we will take the next day a bit more slowly.

This past year has been a bit of a dance with me and my host finding the jobs that I do well and in a way that is pleasing to him.  I have had to learn to be flexible, try new things, fail, try again and communicate.  It relies not just on the physical work, but also maintaining the relationship with my hosts along the way.

The work I find I mostly do here at the seminar haus is cleaning the rooms before and after seminars.  We have 15 sleeping rooms total in all three buildings on the premises.  During seminar weekends I often spend a lot of time in the kitchen.  We serve three meals a day and I have helped with breakfast, lunch and dinner… sometimes helping to prep the food and often cleaning up afterwards.

I have done other miscellaneous jobs over the year.  I have painted the ceiling in the big dojo, pulled weeds and dug edges in the garden, assisted with cleaning and organizing the home of my host, and I have given Reiki treatments.  Through it all I have learned many lessons.   I have learned to have more patience, with myself and others.  I have learned to be more flexible as the spirit of this place and my hosts is unpredictable.  I have learned to take more initiative… that is considering what needs to be done or what could be done or asking what should be done in the course of the day when things may be slow.  And I have learned, and continue to learn, what it means to give of myself to others and asking myself… what is it I have to give today.  I have learned to continue to work in the face of my own challenges or resistance to the work at hand and I have explored setting boundaries for myself that still gives me time and space to take care of myself and meet my own needs in balance with what needs to be done and what is happening in my environment.

Like I said, this time of doing trade has been a dance… I am not sure what kind of dance exactly it is… but ultimately I feel it is good and nourishing for me.  It has taken me down new roads and paths, and it has pushed and challenged me mentally, emotionally and physically.

And after a year, I feel I am just beginning to find my feet in this new way.  There are places where I feel I have faltered and places where I feel I have grown.   Wow, what a time it has been!  And will continue to be… learning to live life in a new way.

Photo from the gardens of the Seminar Haus in Wettenbostel.

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