Listened Mary Catherine Bateson Living as an Improvisational Art from

Krista Tippett speaks with Mary Catherine Bateson about her life, work and beliefs. The two discuss changes in our relationships over time and what ‘home’ means:

Creating an environment in which learning is possible, that is what a home is.

Maria Popova has also written a useful introduction to Mary Catherine Bateson and her book Composing a Life, in which she includes the following quote:

It is time now to explore the creative potential of interrupted and conflicted lives, where energies are not narrowly focused or permanently pointed toward a single ambition. These are not lives without commitment, but rather lives in which commitments are continually refocused and redefined. We must invest time and passion in specific goals and at the same time acknowledge that these are mutable. The circumstances of women’s lives now and in the past provide examples for new ways of thinking about the lives of both men and women. What are the possible transfers of learning when life is a collage of different tasks? How does creativity flourish on distraction? What insights arise from the experience of multiplicity and ambiguity? And at what point does desperate improvisation become significant achievement? These are important questions in a world in which we are all increasingly strangers and sojourners. The knight errant, who finds his challenges along the way, may be a better model for our times than the knight who is questing for the Grail.

Source: Composing a Life by Mary Catherine Bateson

“Doug Belshaw” in TB872: MCB and ‘being what we are willing to learn’ – Open Thinkering ()

Liked Nick Cave – The Red Hand Files – Issue #176 – I’m sixteen and have just recently gotten really into your work. I was wondering: what advice would you give to your sixteen year old self and why? (The Red Hand Files)

My older self knows that life’s mistakes are destiny’s way of laying the tracks that will bring my younger self to the place where I am at this very moment — the mostly happy place, where I sit, with the sun coming through the window, writing an answer to your excellent question.

Liked Nick Cave – The Red Hand Files – Issue #126 – Hey first I wanna say really like your music i have lost my beautiful wife in cancer and my dear brother in covid 19 my question to you is how keep you going on after lost your son its hard sometimes to keep going on with life. (The Red Hand Files)

Matti, forgive me if this makes no sense to you, but perhaps there is a way to summon your wife and dear brother and release them from your despair so that they can attend to you — allow them to become your spiritual companions in that impossible realm, to look after you in their imagined presence, and guide you forward until things get better. For they do, in time, they do.

I remember when my mother passed, in the last month it felt like the whole world stopped. However, when I was finally forced by life to reconsider things, it occurred to me that space does not stand still.

In getting the backyard organised for my daughter’s birthday this morning, it dawned on me that during the last month when the last thing on my list of things to do was cutting things back and nurturing the garden, that the garden didn’t care, it just kept on growing. Whether it be the passionfruit vine stretching out even further along the fence line or the lemon tree growing even taller, the garden had kept on going.

I had a similar experience recently as the restrictions put in place to get on top of Melbourne’s second wave were lowered. I breathed again and moved beyond the day-to-day to consider again with the world outside. In the process I discovered that an old friend had been diagnosed with cancer.

In Alex Hern’s recent newsletter, he discusses the importance of ‘setting your eyes on the horizon’.

I think it’s important to set your eyes on the horizon. Find some things a couple of weeks away, a month away, maybe more, and just let yourself get excited about them. Maybe try and book some time off work in the middle of the week to do something you wouldn’t normally devote a day to. Upgrade your TV dinners to film nights with popcorn, and rent a movie you actually want to see rather than just picking whatever’s included with your Netflix subscription.

I agree with that, this is how I got through. Keep an eye on the prize. However, I guess it is also important to keep connected to world around you.

Liked Lifequakes by Doug Belshaw (

After interviewing hundreds of people about their transitions, he found that a major change in life occurs, on average, every 12 to 18 months. Huge ones—what Feiler calls “lifequakes”—happen three to five times in each person’s life. Some lifequakes are voluntary and joyful, such as getting married or having a child. Others are involuntary and unwelcome, such as unemployment or life-threatening illness.


Liked “We Are Dead, Gone, and Free”: The End of a Frontier Couple (Outside Online)

Artist Eric Bealer was living the remote, rugged good life in coastal Alaska with his wife, Pam, an MS sufferer, when they made a dramatic decision: to exit this world together, leaving behind precise instructions for whoever entered their cabin first. Eva Holland investigates the mysteries and meaning of an adventurous couple who charted their own way out.

Liked ABC Weekend Reads (

Life can be messy sometimes. I find it’s particularly messy just after dinner when all the plates and cups are still onto table, the half-empty pots are on the stove, the laundry is waiting to be put away, the school bags are still on the floor, the front door is blocked by a mountain of shoes, the news is about to start and no-one can find the remote.

Bookmarked The 7 Habits: Begin With the End in Mind | The Art of Manliness by Brett and Kate McKay (The Art of Manliness)

Instead of thinking of mission statements as just a list of ideals, Covey suggests thinking of them like a constitution for a government. Back in my law school days when I wrote legal memos for attorneys, I’d have to lay out the law that governed the case I was writing about. Every time I did so, I had to make, at least in passing, a reference to the U.S. Constitution because the Constitution is the source of all law in the United States. Even if it was a state issue, I referenced the U.S. Constitution (Article 10, baby). With every legal decision, I turned to the Constitution first.

Brett and Kate McKay discuss Covey’s habit of ‘Starting with the end in mind’ and what this might mean for the individual.

They map out three steps to creating your own mission statements:

  • Step 1: Block off uninterrupted time
  • Step 2: Prioritize your roles in life
  • Step 3: Define the purpose of each role

The authors explain that this is about process as much as it is about product. For me it is about intent.

This is a useful resource alongside Adrian Camm’s steps to developing a learning vision.

Liked How your workplace is killing you by Jeff Pfeffer (

The evidence is unequivocal: job-related anxiety is a growing health crisis with repercussions for your mental and physical well-being.

People need to choose their employer not just for salary and promotion opportunities but on the basis of whether the job will be good for their psychological and physical health. Business leaders should measure the health of their workforce, not just profits.

Replied to Viewing your life as a project (W. Ian O’Byrne)

Learning is a fundamental part of my philosophy and action. Through the acquisition of new knowledge I believe that we can understand and hopefully “change” most anything in our lives. This requires a continual examination of who you are, who you would like to be, and how you plan on getting there.

Ian, your discussion of projects has me rethinking the idea of ‘life-long learner’. I always find this a challenge in working out how to tell the story. Thinking of it as ‘life-long projects’ may offer some nuance. I can see how this sort of approach would also be helpful in regards to open badges.

In regards to your current project of engaging with the #IndieWeb, I came across this post recently from Cathie LeBlanc discussing her experiences with the IndieWeb:

I have spent the last five days working on my own web site (which I’ve owned for a long time) to IndieWebify it. Check it out at Be warned that I’m in the early stages of setting my IndieWeb site up so things will evolve. This work has inspired me and I’m sure I’ll be writing about these efforts and my thoughts about them as I move forward.

What it made me realise is that some bigger projects are ongoing. They are almost a mindset, a way of seeing, doing and thinking. There is always something else to be done. The challenge is to break it all down into its parts. I guess that is the point of calling out your goals on the #IndieWeb wiki. This might also be a part of what Greg McVerry is investigating in regards to ‘onboarding’.

I wonder if something like a ‘Now’ page might be useful for this? I like how Chris Aldrich also breaks it down. There is always something more.

Replied to Memento Mori: Learning about life, by knowing you will die (W. Ian O’Byrne)

One of the things that I do believe, and most people do not understand, is that most of the wonderful things I have in my life are present because of my mother’s death. Most of my large family comes from my father remarrying. Events in my life have unfolded to put me in certain places in certain times.

Sorry to hear your loss Ian.

I really enjoyed your reflectoon. It has certainly led me to think a little more deeply. I was particularly taken by your point about your mother’s death defining you in so many ways. I think that can also be said about a lot of those life choices not just death. Being the grandson of a European refugee who fled Communist Czechoslovakia, I am often left wondering what if, only to realise that there is no what if, just what.

Thanks you again for sharing.