Work, Passions, and Self Discovery
Life today looks vastly different than life did two weeks ago.
My life previous to two weeks ago was blessedly simple (although not without it’s regular challenges that life tends to throw) but my focus was streamlined and my goals were tangible. Day to day was intentionally simplified and I’m so very glad it was because an amazing opportunity came up a few weeks back that I likely wouldn’t have had space for otherwise.
The timing was perfect. I had been writing a lot about localized systems and recommoning and was doing a deep dive into these topics. It seemed quite fateful that a local, food focused non-profit co-operative should need some help right when I had it in me to give.
Eat Local Grey Bruce (named for the counties which it serves) sent an email to members saying that they would have to close their doors because of “cash flow issues”. I had only been a member for a few months but I had quickly fallen in love with the model and values of the group so I was dismayed to hear that they were having problems.
Having the time, space, and work experience that I do, I reached out to see if I could be of assistance and almost accidentally was invited to a producer meeting (I am not a producer) at which it was explained that the board was planning on filing for bankruptcy. While everyone at the meeting was quite upset by the news, no one had the time or space to step forward to help bring the co-op out of insolvency. They are ecological farmers after all.
So I did.
I stepped forward and committed probably more than I should have to try and raise some funds to get the org back on track.
And that has essentially taken over my life for the last two weeks. I’ve joined the board, set up a crowdfunding campaign, taken over social media, and have a task list a mile long to do in attempts to give this beautiful vision another chance. You can read more about it here, and maybe donate if you’re so inclined.
It’s truly blissful work but I’m out of practice for sure. We’ve spent so much of the last few years as a family simplifying and part of that means that we try not to work full time hours. But balancing this new workload with the holidays, unschooling (let alone parenting), plus a massive winter storm - well, I’m pretty exhausted, but in a good way.
I am ecstatic to join this board. I have long been searching for my place in the local food movement and I’m glad that it seems to have found me. I hope (fingers and toes crossed) that we can meet our fundraising goals and so I can keep doing this meaningful work but, at minimum, I’m so happy to have connected with this amazing network of local producers and local food enthusiasts who share my values.
This shift in focus has brought up some big feelings around how we define ourselves by the work that we do - and I don’t mean paid work so much as the endeavors to we intentionally give our focus and the thoughts that we let into our minds: what we spend our waking (and often sleeping) hours pondering and thinking about.
When we started unschooling, it was all-consuming. I was an unschooling parent first and foremost. I wanted to talk about unschooling all the time. I spent my life reading and watching and learning about unschooling. When I started to learn about social justice issues, it was equally all-consuming in similar ways. When I started learning about relocalization, anarchism, gift economies… the list goes on - all of these topics consumed my brain power and attention yet there was an understanding about these topics that helped my understand more about myself and my belief systems. It helped me understand the person I had always been but didn’t have the words for and, in growing into that self-actualization, I felt myself become more whole. It gave me confidence to have these clear statement that I could make about myself. I am an unschooler. I am an anarchist. I am anti-racist. I am non-binary. I am now a local food supporter.
These deep all-consuming dives help me put words to the thoughts that have always been swimming around in my head so that I can better understand myself as a whole person and feel confident leaning into the fullness of my personality.
So while the thought of being defined by your full time job feels icky, the process of self-discovery through discovering passions feels exceptionally liberating.
Sometimes I get stressed out at the thought of trying to give an answer to the mundane question of “what do you do?” because the breadth of how I spend my time is unanswerable in the span of common small talk. What do I do? I do so many things! Even if you wanted to limit the question to “what do you do to earn money?” (the most boring version of the question), I would still have at least a dozen answers. And so it should be. I have just as many passions and interests on any given day!
For now, though, I’m happy to focus my time and energy on helping Eat Local and I’m so glad that I have the room in my life to be able to do this work. If you have a moment, I’ll drop the link to the campaign again, and if you have any local-loving foodies in your life with some disposable income, please consider donating. Every little bit helps.