Two weeks ago, I was working on a project to help me reflect on my past two terms and plan for the third. I found myself struggling to find a common thread between them. I felt stuck and I couldn’t seem to make sense of it. It was hard to focus and I felt like I was moving forward aimlessly. Even though I’ve learned a lot and feel more confident in myself, questions flooded my mind.
When I heard that Copa America Centenario would be played in the United States, I was ecstatic. Although this month-long championship is played every four years, and it was hosted by Chile last year, the South American and North American soccer associations came together to organize a special edition that would commemorate the 100th year of the tournament.
I wait for the time machine that will transport me back. Sometimes it takes me to the day I committed to Experience Institute last summer (Ei). It has transported me to the first day of Meetup to start Ei. I have found myself in November, on a random rainy day in New York. Now it will take me to my first day in Seattle, where I am starting my final term with Ei.
What’s your unique value proposition? These words were displayed brightly on a white wall.
My mind was spinning.
The past three days at Meetup 3 had been a deep dive into exploring what my Ei year was shaping up to be and where I might head after it was over. I didn’t have an answer to the question posed. I simply had more questions.
Last night, I signed up to attend a GroupThink in my new home, Fargo. The topic was legacy.
In my work with heritage, culture and cooking, I often think about the legacy that has been passed down to me, mostly because it doesn’t feel like much. The recipes from my dad’s side, along with religious customs and family stories, barely survived the Holocaust. My paternal grandparents left Russia with the firm belief that Judaism was over, and they should only look forward. My dad’s tastes are still influenced by his upbringing, he eats gefilte fish out of the jar and will boil a cabbage within an inch of its life, but I can’t help but think it’s a pale shadow of what once was.
I can’t remember when we met, but it feels like you’ve always been a part of my life. I have very few memories of you from when I was young… I remember carrying cloves of garlic around in my pocket, microwaving eggs as an “experiment”, or getting my hair caught in the blender. But mostly you were just there, silently, without demands, taking care of me.
If you choose to entertain the vantage point that everything is connected, literally everything, it can lead to the idea that our work and creations are living parts of ourselves. Therefore, when contemplating what goods, services, arts and products to invest time and energy into making, it’s strikingly worthy of exploring how the nature of our being is embedded into those tangible extensions. In other words, the societal impact of the design of goods and services we create is dependent upon the foundational state of our being.
March 3, 2016, I enter Pedro Gomes Design, a product design studio overlooking downtown Aveiro, Portugal. It’s a busy, sunny day. There’s an overwhelming wall of sketches in my peripheral vision, two men shouting in Portuguese over the sound of their drills, and a wad of Bostik in my hand. What’s Bostik? We’ll get back to that. First, we need to talk about these sketches. That’s where all this crazy design-thinking business begins.
I was on a Skype call with Marc Winn. He was on Guernsey Island off the coast of France and I was in downtown Chicago. My mind tried once again to find the words to explain how important I believe it is to view our experiences through a series of infinite frequency interactions.
I can hear the concern when people ask me questions about Experience Institute. I understand why people worry how my year is going to turn out. They’re concerned about me being safe and finding a place to stay. They picture my path becoming derailed or people taking advantage of me. They cannot imagine surviving a year like mine.
There, I had the unexpected pleasures of being able to grow my own food and of having friends who owned small farms. It was easy to make my husband a plate of pasta and know that the tomatoes and basil were from my garden, that I’d made the cheese from milk from Laurie’s farm and that the eggs in the noodles were a gift from Ellen Stimson's chickens. I knew that the plate of food was made with love at every stage.
We’d hoped to ship the final Leap Kits by today, but after seeing our first batches, we caught a few errors and decided to make a couple of perfectionist tweaks to make sure everything is just right (ie: we made the Field Guide's cover page slightly stronger so it travels better, and the folio needed to be a tad larger to offer ample room for your materials alongside your digital goods).
An author's greatest asset is the ability to shape what details the audience can see. This insight came to me during a talk by Experience Institute all-star photographer Kevin Von Qualen. Kevin showed my class how a great photo really comes down to choosing your focus. A creator, in any art form, must decide what stays in the frame and what is cropped out.
I'm pursuing the beautiful intersection of where work meets love. As depicted in my flight plan, this involves the convergence of consciousness, communication and commerce. It also involves deliberate focus on expansion of my own consciousness. I view this as fundamental to discovering and releasing my potentials as well as accessing the most effective channels for my creative expression.