So, How Was Your Day?
Eggs, black beans, and roasted tomatillo salsa on a corn tortilla. Chai tea with honey. Black-eyed peas.
Banana-chia-almond butter smoothie. Arugula with roasted beets and pumpkin seeds.
Roasted cauliflower and chickpeas with greens. Dark chocolate. Bourbon on the rocks.
Wake up at 6:30am, shower, and read a few books to our 14-month-old son. Make breakfast, feed the baby, and watch as part of it ends up on the wall and floor (though he’s getting better at it all, as they do). Clean up the fray, get dressed, help get my husband and the baby ready for the day, water the ferns, and head over to Berkeley for my early-morning volunteering shift at the Edible Schoolyard. Being in the kitchen classroom with middle schoolers is one of the highlights of my week. During today’s lesson in the kitchen classroom at ESY Berkeley, my class of English-language-learning students is learning to make a recipe for Ghanaian black-eyed peas. My group has students from Spain, Norway, Mexico, and Brazil, and I spend a little extra time with the newest student in the class, who seems overwhelmed. He does a great job with measuring the spices, however, and bonds with two other students who are stirring the pot on the stove. After we set the table and enjoy the meal together, I help with cleanup and talk with one of the kitchen teachers about a few ideas. Since deciding to leave my full-time job a few months ago working with large companies and brands on the for-profit side of things, I have a bit more flexibility for volunteering and for starting to connect more, as I’m looking for a position that will merge my work experience with causes I’m passionate about. I’m connecting with people at nonprofits and not-just-for-profits to hear about their experiences and thoughts about the space. My goal is to help shift consciousness through strategic problem-solving and using technology for social good, all of which makes for some thought-provoking days right now.
Meetings with a connection who’s working to bring healthy food to schools and with another contact who’s driving strategy at a nonprofit. Conference call with a contact in the environmental space. Respond to emails from more fantastic friends and contacts who are graciously offering to connect me with people they know doing this kind of work. Research a few organizations in food justice, environmental advocacy, and women’s rights. Make progress editing a guide for developing business plans that’s part of a consulting project for social entrepreneurs. Pick up the baby late in the afternoon, and since it’s 74 degrees and sunny, we head to Golden Gate Park to run around and burn off energy. During this transition period, I’m taking him on little adventures late in the afternoons and savoring that time with him. The sunshine reminds me that we’re so lucky to live in a place where we can enjoy the outdoors in the middle of winter. We take a spin on the carousel - he’s a little hesitant since it’s his first time, but he soon warms up to it, and then we run around picking up every stick and leaf in sight, which is his current favorite game.
Head home to have a few good rounds of playing with blocks, banging on mixing bowls with a spatula, and tickle fights. Chop vegetables and roast them for dinner. Prep the baby’s dinner: sweet potatoes, green beans, and broccoli are the favorites this week. My husband and I take turns feeding him while we eat and catch up on each other’s days. Give him a bath and read a few bedtime stories all together in our bed. A few more snuggles, then lights out for the baby. Spend a couple of hours relaxing with my husband, listening to records and looking at some options for hikes this weekend. Wrap up in blankets and relax with a bit of bourbon, which is our ritual at least a few nights each week. We used to make more cocktails, but that’s become more simplified since having a baby and expending energy chasing him around. Sipping a bit on the rocks seems to be both easier and gets right to the point – and taste – of the bourbon. Why muddle it up at home? I’ll save that for a proper drink out… Which reminds me that we need to book the sitter for next weekend. Bedtime!
Three Last Things…
1. What’s up with your time machine? Your photo looks like it was pulled straight from the ’70s! Is that your favorite era?
Ha! Well, it’s impossible to not live in the moment (literally!) with a toddler, but as far as style, music, and fashion goes, I’m definitely a bit steeped in that era. There’s always a bit of nostalgia for the music you heard at a young age, and I remember my parents putting a lot of CSNY and Fleetwood Mac on the turntable. The vibe in our house is, hopefully, a bit more relaxed-canyon than lava lamps or disco, though. It’s funny - a friend of mine visiting our house for the first time said, “So I get it - you tried to re-create the forest in your bedroom.” And I’d never actually thought about that before, but I suppose the plants and wood and fern-printed duvet do point to that. Until I live in my dream ’70s cabin in the redwoods, this’ll do!
2. When you wrote this post, you were looking for a job….and then you got one. And pretty much the exact job you wanted! Are you a believer in the idea of “putting it out in the universe” or can you share your secrets for landing a dream job?
I very much believe that the right things happen at the right time, whether they’re good, bad, or somewhere in between (and with time, those perceptions often change). It’s the whole Rilke notion of living the questions, because it’s not for you to know the all of the answers right away. But as far as looking for a job in a different sector, I’ve absolutely been trying to “put it out” in the universe, and after making the decision to leave my last job a few months ago and find a way to transfer my experience to something I was passionate about, I’ve been connecting in every way possible. Not so much in a traditional networking sense, but more to learn about the interesting work others are doing, hear about their ideas and experiences, and understand the different ways that I might be able to bring value and create impact. What’s worked well for me isn’t any secret, but just a blend of tons of hard work, openness to what might be ahead, and keeping positivity and gratitude at the forefront of the whole experience. I try to always remember the idea that Conan O’Brien simplified so well: “If you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.”
3. So, how do you make Ghanaian black-eyed peas?
Oh wow, it’s sooo delicious! I’ve made this at home, too - the spices make it smell incredible, and it’s awesome to have a pot of it simmering on the stove. Plus coconut milk just makes any dish so wonderful. The Edible Schoolyard actually adapted the recipe from a Marcus Samuelsson cookbook and incorporated it into a lesson on the journey of the black-eyed pea during the Columbian Exchange. The recipe and lesson are all available via this link - I always add sweet potatoes and kale, too!
Kristen lives in San Francisco with her husband and son. She is a marketing consultant for the Social Good Guides. And since writing this post, she’s accepted a position as Director of Business Partnerships at the Sierra Club, working to further its mission of “exploring, enjoying, and protecting the planet” sierraclub.org edibleschoolyard.org socialgoodguides.com photo credit: Rachel Keenan