Monday, 30 April 2012

Task No. 3 · Greenwich Rhythms

(What's this "12 tasks" all about? Service exchange + gift economy + meeting people + promoting fantastic projects. Read about it here).

"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music".

I met Sarah two winters ago. A friend invited me to join her for a full moon winter solstice 5 rhythms session and I said yes. I usually say yes to the unknown, it makes me feel alive. Another group was holding a 30 minute meditation beforehand and my body happily enjoyed tuning into the silence. It was liberating! My body had been craving for all this movement since my arrival to the UK (nearly 7 years ago) and it flowed with the music. Two hours went by and I wasn't even aware. I danced on my own, with a partner and with the whole group at some point. It’s difficult to describe the feeling of freedom; you have to experience it. For some, it’s probably an alternative to gym aerobics I guess, but I felt connected with myself and others while I moved following my inner choreography as there are no steps / forms to stick to. It was like using the language of the body to communicate and surprisingly enough, it seemed we were understanding each other without words.

At some point I started attending her classes in Greenwich every blue moon. Even though I had made her aware of my service exchange life philosophy way before I had even thought about this blog, she contacted me again at the end of Feb with some sort of deadline.

Just in case you don't know I don't like deadlines. From a Spanish speaker point of view it seems like there's a line that comes to an end and dies or worst, you die! Something or someone dies and I don't like to work with the pressure of death on my shoulders. Having said that, I'm also aware things need to get done. A few years ago I used to be part of a the "graphic + web design" world where almost everything needed to be ready for "yesterday". I decided to leave that world behind and tune into life's rhythms. I now invite people to trust the process and so far I've had positive experiences. Sarah accepted this invitation without agreeing in advance what I wanted in return. This wasn't clear until a month ago when I asked my-Self: "how can we take this experiment even further? I know there's the pay it forward option but is there a way in which more could benefit?". The answer didn't take long. I then told Sarah I wanted to introduce some friends to the 5 rhythms practice and she really liked the idea. 

She wrote "I didn’t know what an unusual outcome this would have. Not so much the graphic design on the flier itself, but the flavour of the ‘energy exchange’. I found it refreshing that Calu prefered to follow her heart’s timing than pressurised deadlines, though when we had a ‘natural deadline’ (running out of fliers and needing to get more printed) her heart’s timing certainly clicked in with my own. What a gorgeous flier... I really like it. And then, the ‘energy exchange’ a sort of cross between ‘Pay It Forward’ and a delightful unexpected outcome; that she’ll invite 5-10 of her friends to the dance (5Rhythms in Greenwich: ‘Greeenwich Rhythms’). I’ll aim to weave a ‘Pay It Forward’ theme into the dance that day, may it continue to ripple out in a myriad of delightful and unexpected ways."

We are scheduling it for June and I'll add an update with the outcome.

I've got to leave now as Task No. 4 is waiting for me. It's a chocolate related project. That's all I can say so far. Please pass this on as I still need to manifest 8 tasks before the end of the world.

Thanks for being your wonderful Self and shining as you do. You are perfect as you are.

Much love

PS. Wikipedia states “5Rhythms is a movement meditation practice devised by Gabrielle Roth in the late 1970s. It draws from many indigenous and world traditions using tenets of shamanistic, ecstatic, mystical and eastern philosophy. It also draws from Gestalt therapy, the human potential movement and transpersonal psychology. Fundamental to the practice is the idea that everything is energy, and moves in waves, patterns and rhythms. Roth describes the practice as a soul journey, and says that by moving the body, releasing the heart, and freeing the mind, one can connect to the essence of the soul, the source of inspiration in which an individual has unlimited possibility and potential”.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Task No. 2 · "The Thing"

(What's this "12 tasks" all about? Service exchange + gift economy + meeting people + promoting fantastic projects. Read about it here).

"If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it".

I enjoyed so much
Task No. 1 that I thought to myself: "wouldn't it be nice if I had some more drawing / doodling / illustrating projects?". I don't like spending more time on my computer than I do on life (I really hope you too) so the idea of using my hands more creatively without touching a mouse was really tempting. Three days later -read well- only THREE days later Johannes invited me (and my graphic recording skills) to a "secret" meeting in a boat. I met Johannes at a Catalyst council weekend and bump into each other a couple of time thanks to LifeBeat.

At 10am on a Saturday morning a group of creative people from different walks of life, gathered on a floating meeting room to discuss "The Thing". I know it sounds like a horror movie but fear not as it's a provisional name for a social enterprise that will combine
(1) education for aspiring social innovators and change-makers, (2) un-used spaces and resources, and (3) community entrepreneurship.

This was no boring meeting at all. There were coloured pens and pencils, crayons and coloured paper to take "notes" or to draw ideas. People sat or laid on the floor and gifted their listening skills. Although you could say from outside that it looked more like an art class, people's feedback was really valuable in all levels. It's so fulfilling when people are working on issues they care about; it brings them to life. This wonderful, beautiful, stunning dimension that is life. And in a way we all want to be doing what we love and getting some retribution for it. Could we imagine a world where this is possible? I do and I hope we are all taking small steps towards making it happen. Is money our biggest barrier in achieving our dreams? I think it isn't, at least not in my life so it would be a shame to ignore the opportunity I have been given.

"How to 'get things done' without money is a pressing question for many people these days. Volunteers & gifts have often been the answer. But is this really serving the people giving resources and the wider system as a whole? I'm curious about how we can exchange value without money, and how people can receive value for giving. It seems like a good starting point would be to become conscious about how we are thinking about and recognizing value" shared Johannes.

don't know him that well, neither some of the people I've met before and came across again that Saturday. Nevertheless you feel that familiarity, that sense of community, that awareness of connection. And that's enough to lift my hand and say "I'm in!".

Are you living your dream? Do you wake up most mornings happy to be alive and grateful for having a gratifying job? Is "doing the right thing" more important than your happiness?

Thanks for reading me. Pass it on. I'm open for Task No. 3.

Much light

Artist - Suzanne Millius

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Task No. 1 · The “Significant Other” Festival

(What's this "12 tasks" all about? Service exchange + gift economy + meeting people + promoting fantastic projects. Read about it here).

I met Laura at Otesha, my current work place. I think she was volunteering there. She's amazing, has a bike, recently moved house, does a lot of volunteering and... I guess that's all I know about her. Last year, when "12 tasks" was shaping up in my imagination she approached me. It was clear I had my first task. Read how we worked together and check out the results. And if you are available on Feb 11 / 12, invite your significant other / special friend / cosmic lover (you name it) to Camden People’s Theatre. I'll be there too thanks to Laura's "thank you" tickets.

"When we first started producing the festival we knew we wanted a great poster to represent us. The problem (or so we thought), was lack of funds to pay a graphic designer properly. Luckily we found Calu. Working with her was one of the most relaxed, calming experiences we've ever had with a designer. Laura had a quick chat with her about ideas, shapes, colours - things that we thought were core elements at the heart of the festival. We were shocked by the first draft Calu sent us. It was near perfect and we couldn't be happier.

Working with volunteers has its challenges and at the back of our minds, we also don't want to overstep our boundaries with our friends by using their talents for little or no payment. At the same time, we're producing this festival for the love of it and what it represents and we know there are other people out there who are similar... it's just a matter of finding them."

The Pensive Federation presents
The “Significant Other” Festival

Significant other: colloquially used as a gender-blind term for a person's partner in an intimate relationship without disclosing or presuming anything about marital status, relationship status, or sexual orientation.

7 x 7 minute plays, 7 writers, 7 directors, 14 actors

We asked 7 writers to create a 7-minute play each in 7 days with the theme of the Significant Other. We handed the scripts over to a director and a company of 2 actors and gave them 7 days to stage it. The result is The Significant Other Festival – staged just before millions of couples celebrate Valentine’s Day.

By creating theatre in a confined period of time, we hope to capture what real people think and feel about love and relationships in the 21st century. Through this format, we are able to draw together a company of creative people from different backgrounds, and experience. The resulting mix may bring us short snippets of love, lust, hate, revenge, passion… but no one will really know until it begins. So join us, it’s all happening right now.

The Pensive Federation is a theatre company created by Neil J. Byden and Laura Kim who met whilst working on Platform in 2010, an Old Vic New Voices production. Despite their very different backgrounds, they have much in common, particularly a shared aspiration in theatre which reflects the everyday. The Pensive Federation aims to create accessible theatre; it examines our hopes, fears and dreams; we explore the things that connect us all when you strip away race, religion, and sexuality.

Show taking place at Camden People’s Theatre
58-60 Hampstead Road, London NW1 2PY
Tickets: £7.00
Book tickets via or 08444 77 1000

Sat 11 February 2012 3:00pm
Sat 11 February 2012 7:30pm
Sun 12 February 2012 3:00pm
Sun 12 February 2012 7:30pm

Bring it on!

Unlike Hercules that was punished by the Gods and had to undertake a series of tasks, I am willingly offering myself to the universe to volunteer my energy to 12 different projects / organisations / community groups this year (yes, one per month). So here's the thing; I believe in service exchange and even more in the gift economy (not expecting anything in return). Life has shown me again and again that "what goes around comes around". I'm in a privileged position compared to a huge percentage of the population on this planet. I open the tap and clean water comes out of it. I can easily fix my bicycle's flat tyres. I can buy, get given or rescue food. I have more than one pair of shoes. I can skype with my far away relatives to catch up on life. I wake up without worries and go to bed feeling safe. I'm heard. I can express publicly my love for others. I have a fantastic part-time job that is fairly paid. I don't need to work more to pay for things I can avoid buying in the first place. I can read and write. I have time to spend with the people I love and doing things I'm passionate about. I can breath fresh air, wash my clothes in a washing machine and watch movies online. I can flush the toilet and buy toilet paper. I can dress up and give hugs. I "can see the beauty every day, and source my life from its presence". I can't thank life enough for all its gifts. I want to give something back and record the adventure. If you want to be one of my "tasks" please get in touch. I would love to hear from you and hopefully meet you. Just tell me how your project is part of the solution / creating change. That’s all. Simple.