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How can we create our personal sustainability and contribute to a greater collective sustainability by bringing our special gift to the world? How can we follow our hearts? How can we create opportunities to be paid for what we love doing?
I planned to make interviews with two women I know and write an article called, “Women who dare to bring their gifts to the world.” Both of them had left their well-paid jobs in the corporate world, one of them to establish an eco-festival and move to the countryside to build her own self-sufficient farm in Hungary. The other lady obtained a caravan and travelled across the UK to make a film on an alternative future, while being pregnant with her first child. I approached both a few times for an interview, yet couldn’t reach either of them yet. Now two days past the deadline to send in this article, I must write about a woman who dares to bring her passion to the world...
What is it you really wish to bring to the world?
What is it that you really truly love?
What is it that makes your heart sing?
Work is LOVE in action
I grew up a really creative child, one of those freaks always in the midst of designing something and having an entire DIY workshop around her school desk. I was happiest when left alone and could create something; painting, drawing, making fashion design, sculpting, binding books, weaving wool, practising mirror writing and composing deliberately nonsensical poems.
From age twenty and during university, I studied adult learning and was infused with the culture of “life-long learning.” I learnt that the idea of staying in the same job for a lifetime is over; that in our modern times one must learn and develop her competencies continuously.
By twenty-five, I was already working for ecological nonprofit organisations, undergoing a few years of training in non-formal education and establishing and leading an environmental educational centre. I’d trained up for being a youth worker, and was just about to begin my kundalini yoga teacher training when I became aware of the personality type called “scanners.” I recognised I was one of them. Scanners are people who like to explore everything, try out many different careers and who refuse to choose. A wise man advised me that is was OK to learn new things, but I had to be careful not to use this to fuel my belief of, “…not being enough.” He said, “Use up everything you’ve learnt as ingredients and make a tasty meal out of them.”
Thirty and living in Cambridge, I met the culture of intentional communities, the Transition Towns movement, and attended my first ‘Work That Reconnects’ workshop. The opening question was, “What makes your heart sing?” I remembered a wishful image I’ve held since childhood; that if only we could make a shift on the huge gearwheel of global professions, each gear to find a new place, click in so that each and everyone in the world would do the work that makes them happy. Then, the world would be a different place! We need only to find what makes our heart sing and make this gear shift.
At thirty-five I was working with a brilliant young woman who led the production of a deck of cards called, “The Unsticking Game”. It was designed to help people in finding their authentic profession, to help them get unstuck in a career-related turning point. Yes, she was another woman who dared to bring her gift to the world, now working as an Integral Approach coach to support people finding life direction.
Another step in the journey, a longer and not so bright one in 2015 occurred when in a breaking relationship, I gave birth to my second daughter. She was only six months old when in hope of keeping the family together by becoming the breadwinner, I took a manager’s job and we moved to the other side of the country. I was supposed to manage a newly-opened Eco Tourism Center within a rural environment in southern Hungary, while my husband took parental leave. My immediate boss promised that I would have free hands to do whatever I wanted to run the Center. I had a new, EU project-funded eco building, in a beautiful natural environment to manage, but… I had to fit into a traditional rural post-communist hierarchic power system. In this village no-one had ever heard of collaborative ways of working, decision making, community-run projects or open communication methods, let alone the four levels of listening or simply really listening without prejudice.
Management recruited two colleagues that I was supposed to handle. I called them for a collaborative design process to plan our educational programmes, but after a full day of facilitated work with both local guys still sitting there unwillingly, they finally asked me why wouldn’t I simply tell them what to do and leave them to get on with their jobs? Later, I designed a huge mindmap of potential directions, functions of the Center and stuck it to the wall. This resulted in tourists taking more photos of my poster than of the place itself, yet still no clarity from the decision-making level (my direct managers a.k.a. local government) or my underlings for where I was coming from and what kind of work culture I wanted to create. I found myself again a freak like in my early school years, having no matching playmates. Besides that I was breastfeeding an eight-month-old baby waking me up 6-8 times a night, and desperately trying to keep up during the days. Being confronted with problems at work on such a fundamentally structural level, I decided to leave. I entered a period of deep struggle and not-knowing, alone with no source of income, trying to find my feet on the ground again. I had no interest to bring my gifts but just wishing to survive day by day. Yet together with many discoveries along my path as a new mother, I somehow intuited that this new perspective would bring me important learning.
I have always been blessed with having interesting friends. On All-Saints Day in 2016, I was invited by Helena to walk a labyrinth in the Czech Republic. The instruction this time was to think about someone else rather than myself while walking the labyrinth. It was a strong incentive. Of that walk, as I spiralled out from the centre, a new project grew; the dream of an international support network for mothers. Now here I am in 2019 coordinating an international partnership aiming to support mothers in their personal transformation, Nature connection and realigning their lifepath to what really matters to them. We are working in a truly collaborative environment, using sociocratic decision making, collaborative work, building real connections and working on what our heart whispers us to do.
Recently working within this team I had an AHA moment: it is no problem that I can only
do eighty-per cent in many things, but no hundred-per cent in any single thing. This is where my aspiration for working within a community springs up; I need others to be, I need others to do. Immediately I experienced the power of community, as my colleague Lara replied looking right into my eyes “Agi, you are doing this project, one hundred per cent!”
If there was NOTHING to stop you, what would you do as your unique contribution to the healing of our world?
What are the resources you already have to bring this gift of yours to the world?
How would you stop/sabotage yourself from doing it? How would you overcome these? (The questions are based on Joanna Macy’s exercise Goals and resources in “Coming Back to Life - Practices to Reconnect our Life Our World”)
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