Category Archives: Balance Work and Life

SCOBY Musings in a Rainy Day

From my Food Sovereignty blog/business

Mainstream Permaculture

The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”
~ Julia Child

DSC_1871 Healthy SCOBY developing at the top of my kombucha brewer

Being in the kitchen is only second to being in nature: there are so many mysteries and so much life to experiment with, observe and have fun!

Tomorrow, I’ll be attending the “Art of Hosting” training in Bowen Island. As the training website states: “Rooted in the Four-Fold practice of the Art of Hosting, this event teaches a participatory approach for leading, convening, and engaging groups. We work with collaborative methods including World Café, Open Space Technology, ProAction Café, Circle Practice, The Work (engaging limiting beliefs), collective storytelling and more.”

I savour with anticipation the joy of being privileged enough to attend this training, and later being able to bring it back to my…

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Living a Life of Widening Circles

I live my life in widening circles
that reach out across the world.
I may not complete this last one
but I give myself to it.

I circle around God, around the primordial tower.
I’ve been circling for thousands of years
and I still don’t know: am I a falcon,
a storm, or a great song?”

Rainier Maria Rilke – Book of Hours, I 2

Translator: Joanna Macy

Yesterday I reached the limits of my capacity to hold all together and had to leave work early and ask for an “emergency” Reiki intervention…I was rewarded not only with a last-minute cancellation (which opened up an otherwise difficult to find spot for me) but also, right during the session the sun broke through the rainy Vancouver skies and shone over its sidewalks covered by blossoming cherry trees! I found myself smiling to crows and seagulls, dogs walking their humans and buses…

I had been accumulating frustration, boredom and lack of motivation and purpose at work, the daily struggle of 4-hour public transit commute with people pushing, intruding with cell phones, smells and bellies on the top of the book I’m reading…(Joanna Macy’s “Widening circles: a memoir”), the never-ending meetings at work and the lost into worthless minutiae, having to stay inside, facing a screen even when the work is done, even when the world outside is calling, dealing with household challenges and frustrations, the never-ending burden in the shoulders that is barely shared by others. Missing my tribe and the moments of engagement, pain about what the world has become and about not having the freedom to go to a march, a protest, a meeting. It had become increasingly difficult to apply compassion and insight (the two “weapons” of bodhisattvas) when you are being ignored, pushed around, disrespected, or are just exhausted, in physical pain and seeing how the so oh many projects and interests you want to take in pass you and you just can’t catch up with emails, requests, training, work and family requirements and your own body pleading for a long and big BREAK from all and from everyone.

Today, a nice and smart young man, a Syrian refugee, came to my office and became my client…like the sun shining over Vancouver streets yesterday after days of rain, like the cherry trees’ blossoming, I saw it: beyond the horrid chemical attack on unarmed women and children in this young man’s country early this week, beyond the stupidly short-sighted US response and the even stupid-er global support for it, beyond the groups appearing in my Facebook’s feed and the daily newspaper “supporting BC development projects” and “speaking on behalf of the majority in BC” (and, obviously, against the protesters and campaigns to stop fossil fuel and non-renewable sectors  “development” and asking for a transition into more sustainable and ethical ways to be and let be in this planet), beyond all the frustrations and pain from my own small life, my own pain and my own discomfort, there is hope…

If I wanted a sign to decide, this serendipity in the form of a new client may be just it.

My Reiki practitioner yesterday said it clear: “Silvia, you have two paths in front of you: if you continue like this, all the reasons why you keep working will eventually backfire. You’ll be so sick and suddenly unable to work that you won’t be able to sustain yourself or support your family, you may even need the money to support expensive treatments, help and caregivers and you won’t be able to commit to any of the other side projects you love so much”; “he body doesn’t lie”, J. said, “it doesn’t understand all your rationalizations about why you need to keep working, the body only expresses the frustration, boredom, anger and pain of not being doing what your soul asks to be doing”. “So the paths are clear”, he continued: “Either you quit or reduce your workload now and take care of yourself, or you assume you’ll need to invest time and $$$ to make yourself stronger (physically and emotionally) to stay where you are…”

My paths, however, are still unclear: I want the freedom to work with young people (at heart, no matter their ages) and support their own flexible, holistic, self-reliant, ethical and sustainable “life designs”. I want to engage with people who want to heal, regenerate and improve this world and instill the importance of creating a new story, a story of interconnectedness and humbleness but also of power and commitment so the horrors, the circus, the unethical and stupid ways we are living and allowing today end and give place to a new, truly interdependent, ethical and sustainable world…

I also want to explore all the things I didn’t explore because since I can recall, I always had to work, had responsibilities and this sense of being strong and reliable for all around me. I want to learn how to play guitar, I want to experience camping alone and with family and friends more often, I want to spend silly hours with my dog and my cats for no other reason than because I love them dearly, I want to spend time with my sons cooking, travelling, chatting, exchanging whatever they want to share; I want to invite people to my house and just relax with conversation, music and home-made food; I want to travel to my home country and spend time with my aging mom and my siblings; and I want (deeply want) to live in a supportive and engaged community I can feel great to get back to after every journey.

My 21-year-old son doesn’t want to work himself to death and I agree with him. I am allowing him to discover how he wants to live, but struggle with the societal pressures that he should be studying or working…my 14-year-old son left for school today with this gem: “Mom, I was thinking about life, and I though how horrible it is to have to go to work eight hours each day and not having spring, summer or winter breaks or time for anything else”…

We have to be able to design another type of story for ourselves and our children, for the sake of all the creatures and elements and not only for us humans: another type of life, a widening and inclusive one…and live our lives in widening circles, instead entrapping, shrinking ones

Does Time, as it passes, really destroy?
It may rip the fortress from its rock;
but can this heart, that belongs to God,
be torn from Him by circumstance?

Are we as fearfully fragile
as fate would have us believe?
Can we ever be severed
from childhood’s deep promise?

Ah, the knowledge of impermanence
that haunts our days
is their very fragrance.

We in our striving think we should last forever,
but could we be used by the Divine
if we were not ephemeral?

Part Two, Sonnet XXVII – Rainier maria Rilke, translated by Joanna Macy

The Gig Economy: My Presentation and Notes from the CDC @ BCCDA 2017 Conference

My father had one job in his lifetime, I will have six jobs in my lifetime, and my children will have six jobs at the same time.” ~ Robin Chase, founder of Zipcar

For many, the quote above makes no sense at all; some think it doesn’t apply to them as they have traditional, stable jobs and careers…for others, that is already an everyday reality. For me, coming from places where collapse and change were so common that people made jokes and songs with them (and where you had to be creative about how you got your basic needs met), and with a deep understanding gained through permaculture life-design and observing (sometimes also coaching) unusual people live diverse lives, this concept is not only not new: it is seen as an opportunity, a waking call to re-think what we are, how we live and why we work.

Here, for those of you attending my presentation at the CDC Conference organized by BCCDA yesterday (March 27) and today (March 28), and for my usual readers, I post as promised my PPT and notes. You are free to connect with me for further exploration of these topics, having a tea together and talking about how to change the world, creating a social business together or just brainstorming ideas of what’s needed and what’s possible.

In the upcoming weeks and months, I will be sharing more details about my integrated vision of how to make this work for us and the clients we serve. A version of my posts will appear as articles at both the Canadian Immigrant Magazine (one of my “gigs”) and the Canadian-Filipino Magazine (again) in case you want a printed or more “polished” version.

I want to credit Diane Mulcahy, the author of “The Gig Economy” with whom I’m in contact via email, for her amazing and innovating book which served as a main source of inspiration for this presentation; I have taken the liberty of adding my own ideas (mostly coming from my permaculture systems thinking) to her “10 rules” of how to survive (and thrive) in this emerging economy. I also want to acknowledge Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, university professors and authors of “Designing your Life” as I took some of their ideas and spiced them up with my own knowledge and experience as a certified career councellor and life coach. You can find information about how to get their books and materials at the end of this post.

Finally, as a permaculturist and social justice activist myself, I will add some ideas that go beyond career counselling: I see the Gig Economy as both a result of our times (and a sign of deepening inequality, loss of values and the emergence of potential abuse and exploitation of those less privileged ) and as an extraordinary opportunity. If we leave it be, we will see more and more of the former (abuse and exploitation and the celebration of unhealthy, unethical and selfish as a “model” to follow)…but if we “design” the change and intervene in the right places, we may end up with a re-distribution of work, a re-evaluation of why we are here and what our priority are and a focus on holistic and global health and equality, ethics and co-operation instead…

Without more preambles, here is my presentation, enjoy!

“Look to this picture above for a minute…what do you see? What’s the first word or thought that comes to you?

Some will see this as a sunset: the day is over and darkness is approaching…others will see it as a sunrise: the sun is raising after a long dark night.

What about the tree and its branches? What season is that? Again, some will see this as the start of the fall: the tree branches look bare, as if all the leaves have fallen…others, will see that it may actually be spring, and the bare branches are now beginning to cover themselves with small buds…

I chose this picture to represent my views on the emerging gig economy because it can be seen as both: the start of a dark period for workers or the rebirth of independence and the opportunity to re-think career, work and even life design!

In the next hour and a half, we will explore the options and you will decide whether this is an end, a beginning or both and what is our role as career practitioners, program developers and managers, funders and social advocates.”

You can download the entire PPT with my notes here: Navigating the Gig Economy PPT with Notes by Silvia Di Blasio

The Books:

The Gig Economy: http://www.dianemulcahy.com/

Designing Your Life: (for book and materials you can download): http://designingyour.life/

Note: this presentation was recorded. If the video is good, I will be publishing it here too for those interested.

More than ever, we at the end of the last century were finding ourselves with big houses and broken homes, high incomes and low morale…we were excelling at making a living but too often failing at making a life. We celebrated our prosperity but yearned for purpose. We cherished our freedoms but longed for connection. In an age of plenty, we were feeling spiritual hunger.” ~ David Myers

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