Acts of Care. A podcast.
Care is rooted in a sense of sorrow or grief, and if we let it, it leads us to act.
I’ve been struggling to pin point exactly why my heart hurts more than usual these days. Unrelenting disaster status in local and global media and my sensitivity as a mother with a teenager and an infant might have something to do with it. But that’s not all.
Between dishes, diapers, meme culture lessons (from the teen), and taking vitamins, I’m searching. I’m seeking patterns and problems that line up to need me. I want to help address current and pending grief — close to me and broadly — and I am unsettled on where to focus. I care and I want to act.
So here I am, exploring the best way I know how: through writing about it.
This is me sorting through my mess before packing for the next voyage. My husband gifted me his administrative and sound engineering time and skills to help me attempt a podcast which may address this affliction I believe I share with others: I care and I want to act.
The word “care” has Old English origins meaning sorrow or grief or burdens requiring serious mental attention. Those of us that care — whatever the subject might be — often have a sense of grief over loss or damage that we want to avoid.
I expect change, seek principles
I don’t seem to have the same level of anxiety or upset over all the change or pandemic restrictions as most (despite having an extroversion inclination).
Part of it is that I’m comfortably, safely, caring for my children while my husband works from home.
The other part is that I’ve had good practice considering these kinds of challenges for a while, given my work experience paying attention to climate destabilization and related events. I have lots of ideas (mostly aligned to others’ predictions, some not) about what we might expect next too.
So, while I’m not overly anxious, I still care, but in a practical way.
However the next decade or two shake out, I sense some principles and practices would help all of us cope and thrive. There are thought leaders on being a good and happy human, from Brene Brown to Jordan Peterson. But I rarely see accessible thinking framed for a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) world.
The climate we are headed towards has no historical mirror: that is, a time when humans recorded their survival experiences.
I don’t think most people sit with that fact for long enough to understand or accept it’s significance. Perhaps to sustain any decent mental health, easing into this reality over several years, while testing coping mechanisms, is the ideal approach… but that is no longer a choice.
I worry that most of society - politics, bureaucracies, companies, non-profits - are failing to prepare for the next challenge (even when it is confidently anticipated by experts). I know there are bright spots though, and I want to learn from and amplify that light.
Moreover, like other parents, I feel a sense of urgency on gifting my children trustworthy guidance for how they might confidently find security, meaning, and contentment in their futures.
I feel needed, and a little lost
I’m nearly 40 and have had a rewarding career. At the resolve of my parental leave, I anticipate having a stellar team and interesting and important challenges back at work. I’ve been needed there to date, and hope that remains so, but I don’t fully expect that to be the case (it has been my mission to grow the breadth of talent there, after all.)
With the state I’m in right now, I need to be _sure_ that my work life is meaningful for me. I want my daily hours away from my family to have the most value and impact possible, for what I can offer. It’s just how I’m wired, I guess.
A parental leave, after five years of growth in a line of work, seems like the right time to explore this.
I know I’m not alone in seeking meaningful work. I’ve had a great number of quality conversations with mid-career, early career, and even late career people in search of the same thing. So I’m playing with the idea of documenting my personal journey in this search, as it might interest others.
An added benefit of openly exploring my passion is that I might find others who are aligned or complimentary. If I could draw together an army of creative, multidisciplinary, tenacious, human centered empaths and help to pair them with complex problems, that would be a fantastic outcome.
I’m creative on the fly. So I need to fly.
As someone who is drawn to problems, uncertainty, and challenging the status quo, I’m a little dizzy. There’s a lot of opportunity. I need some kind of process to help me settle my senses and gain some focus.
The last time I was struggling to feel applied and aligned to my values, I wrote a music album with my future husband. (It didn’t hit the charts… so it wasn’t needed like people clearly need Adele… but it does have a quiet, appreciative following and some radio play. And some of the songs put my baby to sleep.)
Writing the album included extremely productive moments in total flow that extracted and shaped deep, complex thoughts and emotions. Music and lyrics came easy while I was surrounded by people on the bus, waves on a beach, or sitting in darkness with moody chords and a stark sense of climate catastrophe. I love that feeling (the flow, not the catastrophe), and I’m craving it.
Beyond my music habit, I’ve had incredible fortune of being invited to bring my creativity to work the last several years. Luckily, I was employed in a rather unscripted program and asked to write the script, or better, improvise on the spot because curve balls were a constant. The best moments have been with a few prompts of problem definition, people willing to engage, and the space to explore what might be possible and valuable. I had leaders that let me fly and team mates that were up for it. We attracted fantastic talent and accomplished some incredible things with results that were were hard to believe (given typical experience delivering government services).
I’ve seen what is possible with freedom to create and important problems to solve for. I received some very helpful feedback in the process and know my strengths better than I ever have. With this wind in my sails, I kind of want to go on a treasure hunt to see where it takes me.
So what next?
In my final 8 months of parental leave, I’ll be dedicating some time to discovering the ways in which I – or anyone so inclined – might lend time and talents toward a better future.
“Acts of Care” is a working title for this podcast that I hope I’ll find creative flow with. You might expect to see experimentation, art, optimism, darkness, authenticity, and a lot of curiosity. I don’t know what will resonate yet… the acoustics are unpredictable in these strange times.
My Husband has already lined up three incredible, generous humans for me to share a conversation with in a podcast to get started:
- Sonia Furstenau, Leader of the B.C. Greens
- Shelley Gilberg, ESG Markets Leader, PWC
- Rumon Carter, Executive Lead, Service Transformation, BC Parks
Each of these people have a palatable passion for caring about others, and the systems we live in. I look forward to sharing their insights on the gritty reality of how we might achieve resilience in this fast changing and complex world, and to get excited about the rewarding experience that awaits those who dare to lead through acts of care.
Wish me luck!