Life and Career Review:

My life and career review begins with the era when I was stuck in a depression and having a very difficult time in life.  I let the reader know that I traveled extensively during my childhood, and that I strive to make deep cultural connections.  I also introduce myself as someone who has struggled a lot in the past, but who has always followed their dreams even during the rough times.  I also introduce the concept of being in school for the majority of my life, and how that has effected me as a person, and being a student as a career.  The purpose of this output packet is to give the reader a broad overview of my life and my work, focusing on the major discoveries that I have made about myself and the world that have been transformative.  The three main discoveries that I focus on are the ‘little brother defenses,’ the use of alcohol, and being more compassionate with myself.  I end this section with a photo gallery.  To view more of my photographic work, please visit http://www.dblfoto.com/.
I then bring the narrative to the beginning of my life, describing the conditions in which I grew up, the family in which I was raised, and memorable experiences in my life.  I show how my geographic zones have extended exponentially ever since I started moving farther than the street I grew up on.  I provide a link to a map that I created that shows all the places on the globe that I have traveled to.  In order to best use this map, please push the ‘satellite’ view button, and then zoom out all the way, to see all of the places that I have been on the planet.  I explain how California and El Camino have played large influential roles in my development, and that a sense of place is something that is very important for me.  I also tell how I have been raised during a time of great transition in the world as a whole.  This transition has affected all of our lives, and I am glad to answer the calling to have my work be a positive part of this transition.  I explain how I have worked in various professional fields, and go over my strengths and weaknesses in the work environment.  My professional work has also been located at many different places on the planet.
Lastly I explain to the reader how much I have grown and developed in a positive way in the past couple of years.  I explain how I fell in love, and that this relationship has influenced my decisions in a healthy way.  I tell the reader that I have had major learnings/unlearnings, and provide examples of how these discoveries are affecting me and changing my life.  I stress the fact that I have made the decision to change my direction in life, to get away from office work, and into permaculture.  The reader can get a sense of  how I was stuck in a bad emotional state during my later adolescence, then see what I was effected my during my childhood, and then go on to see how much I have grown and changed in the recent past.

After the main body of text, the reader can look at supporting documents, the self reflection about the process of making this output packet, and the digiphon, which describes the technology used in the making of this Output Packet (OP).

Table of Contents:

1. 2000 to 2009

2. Photo Gallery

3. Personal Geographic Zone Map

4. 1984 to 2000

5. 2010 to Present

6. Process Reflection

7. Letters, Certifications and other Documents

8. Digiphon

Depression

2000 to 2009:  Depression:
Your journey of me begins in December of 2006 in Santa Cruz, CA.  I had my graduation ceremony 8 months previous in the Spring, with the redwoods, the ocean, friends and family witnessing my graduation from a four-year university.  I was depressed, but I hadn’t admitted it or figured it out yet.  I was dishonest with my friends, my family, and myself about my sexuality.  My self-affliction was affecting my daily life, and I was sad and uncertain.  During my final quarter of school, I felt like I was watching all of my best friends move away, taking with them the community we created together in college.  I was intentionally breaking up with my girlfriend so that I could escape as well, and I was still processing the drug-induced murder of my older-brother’s best friend.  I was struggling to hold on to any sense of meaning, or reality; however, I always kept in my sights my dream of teaching English in South America.
In my younger adolescence, I experienced: Italy, Spain, Belgium, Luxembourg, Finland, Russia, France, China, Tibet, Alaska, Hawai’i, Honduras, Belize, México, and extensive travels within the US borders.  After these quick and amazing glimpses of the world outside of the San Francisco Bay Area, I felt the urge to travel to another place for an extended period of time, in order to fully experience another culture and place.  I had been studying Spanish since age 11, and I created an individual major at UC Santa Cruz combining: Photography, Sociology and Cultural Anthropology, with a minor in Spanish Linguistics.  My plan was to stay with a good friend in Bozeman, Montana, save money, get certified in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages  (*see attached documentation)), and then go off to teach English in either Chile or Argentina.  I spent a very cold winter learning to build specialty furniture in a woodshop in Montana.  I also framed houses out in the cold, with icicles growing off of my beard and temperatures below -20 degrees.  I used this time to digest the experience that I had in college, and to forge a new path for myself.  I was lonely and sad, however I was learning a lot of valuable skills in building and construction, and I was working hard to make the means to achieve my dreams.
A main reason why I was lonely and sad was because of not being comfortable with myself, and because of experiencing pain and loss in the past.  My Grandfather and one of my best friends both died on the highways of California.  Their life’s ended on the same roads that I have spent so much time traveling on, and continue to travel on to this day.  My best friend’s passing was during the time upon entering high school, which was such a momentous and transitional time during my life.  It was also my first year of being a teenager, and I internalized his death in a shameful and hurtful way.  My zone zero, my Self, that had been so positive and radiant and peaceful during my younger childhood, was very angry, hurt and sad for the majority of my teenage years.  Although learning life lessons via the death of loved ones was very hard.  I had to un-learn the notion that conforming is best.  I had to unlearn that it’s ok to drink away emotional trauma, and learn to be more gentle and compassionate with myself.  In the process, I have also learned that being true to myself is much healthier and wholesome than trying to mold myself to be what my brothers, my school community, or society as a whole wanted me to be.
One thing to understand about me is that my life and career were both completely tied up in school from the age of 3 to the age of 22.  Although I worked in various jobs while attending school, the main focus of my career for the majority of my life is that of a student.  I am 27 now in 2011, and I have spent my first 5 years in my full-grown body, outside of the school environment, doing and experiencing as much as I possibly can.  The past 5 years, between my graduation from a university and the present has been my time to be structure-less; to be young and free and adventurous.  I have claimed this time for these purposes whole-heartedly, sometimes at the cost of personal well being, of not being around my growing family, and at the cost of close relationships; but always having an amazing time!
I start with this stage of my life because it was the stage in which I had allowed way too many emotions and unhealthy learnings build up, and I was completely drowning in them.  Being in a country thousands of miles away from home was not allowing me to unlearn, it had to come from within.  I had to learn to deal with my emotions without alcohol, to realize that my ‘little brother defenses’ were no longer serving me, and to overcome the sadness that was detrimental to my well-being.  However, even though I was depressed and hiding my self shame during these times, it is also important to note that I created a vision and a dream for what I wanted for myself and my life, and I followed through with that and achieved it!  I lived in Buenos Aires for 8 months in 2007-08, teaching English, traveling the country, learning the language, seeing the sights, and meeting amazing people!

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Beginning of Life

1984 to 2000: Childhood and Adolescence:
I was born on May 24th, 1984 in Menlo Park, CA, and I was in the newspaper the day I was born.  A beautiful, fuzzy, half-tone print on yellowish newspaper that shows my mother holding my fresh tiny body close to her own.  I was raised in Palo Alto, CA.  From the age of one I was living with two stepbrothers and a stepmother, making it a household of four boys and two women, of which I am the youngest brother.  All four of my parents are either psychiatrists or therapists, and because of this I am able to communicate and listen in a very skillful and attentive manner.  Although there were mainstream religions in my family and society around me, I have always been spiritual with nature, believing in the power of nature and the intrinsic value of all life.  I find spiritual significance in experience and interaction with the internal/external world around me, rather than affiliate with a group that would dictate how I ought to think or feel about ‘god.’
I was born on the outer edge of the cusp of two astrological signs, the latter side of the cusp between two generations, and at the late side of the cusp of the globalized internet/computer revolution.  Thus, I am a full Gemini with Taurus traits; I am mostly part of generation Y, but I feel more aligned with people born in the late 1970’s than the people who were born in the 1990’s; and I spent the majority of my childhood without the internet, although I am much more comfortable with computers and the internet than many of my compatriots who are a bit older than me.  The pattern of growing up during the cusp of a generation, or during a ‘changing of the guards,’ played out in many ways.  For example, I had 6 different principals during my 7 years in junior and senior high school in Palo Alto.  My childhood was also during the cusp of a new millennium, as the century changed from the 20th to the 21st while I was in high school.  This pattern played out again when my class of incoming freshman was the first year of UC Santa Cruz to use letter grades instead of written evaluations to grade the students.  This moment in history of great transition calls for individuals who can think quickly on their feet and adapt to any situation that may arise with calmness and intelligence.  We must have the intention to re-create the way we are living on this planet.  Scholars and activists have called this global transition, “The Great Work,” or, “The Great Transition.”  I have always been passionate about answering this call, but seldom, until now, had the resources or knowledge available to live up to my desires to be a part of the solution.
My father lived in Irvine, San Clemente, Half Moon Bay, Palo Alto, Asilomar and Pacific Grove while I was growing up.  Upon recent reflection during a drive down highway 101 from Palo Alto to San Luis Obispo, I came to the realization that I have spent lots of time traveling on ‘El Camino Real,’ the famous Royal Road built by the Spaniards.  El Camino is the biggest road in Palo Alto besides the highways, and it was my connection to Downtown, Tower Records, Midtown and beyond when I was younger.  There are old bell post path markers around the UC Santa Cruz campus, and I was reminded that I was walking old portions of El Camino every day while attending the university.  I have vivid memories of stopping at rock shops and sandwich shops at the missions that populate the Royal Road, and of my dad orating spooky Oscar Wilde stories to my brother and I during long drives to Southern California.
My geographic zones as a person have grown exponentially ever since childhood, and this is a learning that I have felt as pulsating, expansive, parallel to the growth of myself and my career, enriching, and challenging.  At first, a cul-de-sac and my household were my world.  Then it became the larger community of Palo Alto.  My zone expanded while driving on El Camino to Irvine and San Clemente to visit my father, which, in effect, became a large portion of the state of California.  As a younger child I drove across the country and back with my family on two separate occasions, taking different routes.  In 1999, I went to Europe for my first time, and experienced Italy first hand.  In 2000 and 2001 I lived in Barcelona, Spain by myself for two separate months, studying Spanish and breathing in all that there was to see in Spain as a 15 and 16 year old.  I also traveled to Alaska, on a cruise ship of the inside passage through the islands that follow the Alaskan coast.  In the Spring of 2002 I traveled to Honduras and got certified to Scuba dive on the Bay Island, Roatán, in the Caribbean.  In the summer of 2002, I traveled to China and Tibet, touring around the Himalayas on the edge of sheer cliff faces in a tiny bus with a professor, a translator, my father, stepmother and brothers.  In the summer of 2003 I traveled to Belize, and studied marine ecology with Eastern Carolina University.  Later that same summer I went to Belgium, Luxembourg, Russia, and Finland.  In 2007 I worked construction and built specialty wooden furniture in Bozeman, Montana.  In 2007-08 I taught English in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  (*See attached documentation, letters, map and certifications)
Now that I am back in the San Francisco Bay Area as a young adult, my localized geographic range is much larger than it was as a child or a teenager.  I work in Bolinas, Palo Alto and San Francisco.  I have friends and family in Oakland, Santa Cruz, Watsonville and Carmel.  I have peers and loved ones ranging from Vancouver B.C. all the way down to San Diego, which covers the entire West coast of the USA.  My geographic zones continue to expand all the time, as I have just returned from a 3 month long cross country road trip, where I made friends in Louisiana, Texas, Nevada, Tennessee, New York and Montana.     (*See attached map)
Career-wise, I would consider myself a ‘Jack-of-all-Trades,’ or a sort of ‘Renaissance Man.’ I have worked as a barista, a house painter, a pre-school, grade school, digital media and English teacher, a construction worker, an online advertising account manager, a photographer, a farmer and gardener, a student, and as an artist.  Seemingly there is no connection, but the fact of the matter is that it doesn’t necessarily matter what I do, because I bring quality and character to my work.  I am very knowledgeable, personable, and dexterous.  Whether you are someone ordering coffee from me, a client whose house I’m painting, or subject matter for my photography, I will treat you with respect and consideration.  Treating others with respect makes me feel great, and I know from experience and facial expressions that it makes others feel great in return.  In addition, I have graduated college during very difficult economic times in the USA.  One must be flexible and quick on their feet, in order to either finally land in a comfortable position of work that is worthwhile and provides sufficient income, or to simply make enough money to get by.  Regardless, my real work is practicing my artistic creativity, being patient and healthy with myself, and being compassionate with all my friends and family.  (*See attached resumes to view past employment.)
The major limitations that I have noticed about myself after working in all of these jobs are the following:  I cannot work in an unhealthy work environment, either physically, emotionally or verbally.  Examples include, bosses that cuss at me, bosses that are passive aggressive, inadequate safety resources and/or chemicals that are inhaled in the work environment.  This is a major limitation during times of economic disparity, when jobs are sparse and compromising safety is a reality to be able to earn money.  Another is that I speak my truth.  An example of this is when I worked construction in Montana, and I eventually found the voice to defend myself from my boss, who was verbally abusive.  I am constantly practicing how to not get myself into negative situations to begin with, and also how to best approach earnest conversations.  This may not seem like a limitation, however, I am literally unable of not speaking my truth when there is something ‘wrong,’ and sometimes this gets me into unnecessary conflict.  I am continuously practicing to let things that aren’t major slide, and to get better at timing, delivery and tone of voice during conversations where an honest message needs to be relayed.
My personal strengths in the work environment are many, and I feel as though I am an overall very assiduous and deft employee across many work fields.  Some of my key strengths in the work place are the following:  I am a community builder and open to honest dialogue.  I have both a sharp intuitive and objective relationship to any space that I spend lots of time within.  As a result of this, I will notice co-workers who are feeling disrespected, best practices that aren’t being followed, and/or areas where there is a miscommunication between departments or people.  Another is that I am a very hard worker.  I will always go the extra yard to make sure that work is complete, but I will not allow myself to be taken advantage of.  This last point is important in being a role model for my co-workers to stand up for themselves.  I am very hard working with a positive attitude, and will put lots of energy and focus into the task at hand to ensure that it is completed successfully (and also creatively!).  I speak both Spanish and English, and California is a state with a 50% Spanish speaking population.  Spanish is also the second most widely used language in the USA, and a major international business/diplomatic language.  I am compassionate, kind and caring.  I use my intuitive knowledge of my self and others to spread love in every work place that I am involved with.

My Geographic Zones

2009-2011

2010 to Present:  Overcoming Depression, Major Positive Changes, Permaculture and Self-Healing:

I met Taylor Blackmore in San Francisco in February 2010.  We are each other’s first boyfriends, and we have gone through the journey of coming out to lots of friends and family together.  Looking back on that period in time, I realize that what once felt dangerous, shameful and covert, now seems healthy and like a rite of passage.  It was his positive influence that accelerated my cessation of cigarettes and alcohol.  Taylor’s mother, Barbara Blackmore, had Hepatitis-C and liver cancer and she passed away in March of 2011.  Although the past year has been extremely difficult with the death of the mother of someone that I care about deeply, it has also been a time of great resurgence of my authentic self, a beginning of a new and exciting relationship, and a time where I have overcome the depression that had been bogging me down for so many years.  I feel like I have finally reconnected with the attitude that I had as a child to be easy-going, carefree and happy.
I realize upon deep reflection and rumination that I was abusing alcohol and cigarettes in my adolescence in order to escape the feeling of self shame that I didn’t even know I had at the time.  I have recently been able to notice that my lack of having a voice of self-care is sourced from being accustomed to being a little brother, and from self-shame.  Since this major realization, I have noticed my self shame and lack of confidence in self-care arise in various aspects of my personality and life; from not dancing unless inebriated, to not wanting to show my art work to other people, to not wanting to speak up for myself when I feel disrespected.  I am using the tools that I’m learning in a leadership class to honor these realizations, and being gentle and forgiving with myself during this process of self-discovery.  My parents are now grandparents, and I am an uncle, and responsibilities have shifted in our lives with each other.  I am learning about myself and human interactions every day through the process of growing with my family.
Another one of my vital unlearnings was for myself to understand that I am no longer in need of my ‘little brother defenses.’  It has taken me from the age of 16 to the age of 27 to understand that I am no longer in the type of on-guard situation that I was in from the age of 1 to the age of 16; or, 11 years to unlearn the defenses that I had learned over the first 16 years of my life.  This was an unlearning that has sunk very deep, and I am still working on recognizing when I am using my past defenses, so that I can stop myself, and choose another direction of action.  No longer do I feel the need to hold in my voice when something happens that is disagreeable to me.  Nor do I feel the need to act defensively when I do react to misunderstandings or frustrations.  I have realized this in August of 2011, and it is now November, which exemplifies how much healthy growth I have been undertaking in the present.  Even as I write this, I am digesting the discovery of my self-shame and little brother defenses as unlearnings.
Perhaps the most important nugget of self-discovery that I’ve learned is that I am not willing to work in an office 40 hours per week.  Realizing that I have needs in the work environment has been a radical and effective notion for me.  Because of this, I quit my online advertising job and began to focus on myself and my desires, which has led me to a masters program where I can put my passions into my work: community, a rational alternative to society, education, creativity, permaculture and cultural interconnectedness.  Along with this discovery came the unearthing of the permaculture movement for me personally.  It is as if I’ve been a part of this movement my entire life, milking cows at Hidden Villa, planting melons in Tennessee, and making art at the Omega Institute, and now I am aware that what I’ve been doing has been part of a world-wide movement all along.  This is astounding to me, and it feels very validating to my previous decision to quit my online advertising job, because it is as if the world has embraced me in my risk-taking to pursue my goals and dreams.  I have realized that I have always been called to working with plants and gardens, being out in the sun and building community.  I started two separate gardens at two separate houses during my time living in Santa Cruz.  These projects came effortlessly and naturally to me, and I felt amazing growing and eating my own food.
This new era of self realization and effectiveness in my life right now has also led me to be much more responsible about my relative position on the planet.  Relatively speaking, I am extremely privileged, because I have never been hungry a day in my life, and I have always had a roof over my head, access to good education and clean drinking water, and supportive friends and family.  In my former years, I was jaded and frustrated with the world; wanting to help make positive change for myself and the world around me, but not finding positive outlets for my energy or intelligence. I am also more true to myself as someone who is very intelligent and intuitive.  Because of this ownership and honoring of who I am, and my recent ability to come to terms with my depression and self-shame,  I have made major changes in my life.  I have become much more skilled in using computers and technology, made a huge decision to join a graduate program, and allowed myself to sing, dance, and speak more authentically.  Being aware of the notion that I was being hard on myself, and that I can be much more forgiving and gentle with myself, has been a very healthy learning for me.  Along with the ownership of self comes the realization that my brothers, my schools and my society are not ‘dominating my reality,’ but rather it is me that is allowing any other person, institution or entity to effect me in such a negative and intrusive way.
Another concept that was a vital piece of information for me personally is that there are neither learnings nor unlearnings that exist on their own, but that to learn/unlearn is one unified concept.  Alan Watts writes in, “The Book On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are,” that, “The physical world is basically vibration.  Whether we think of this vibration in terms of waves or of particles, or perhaps wavicles, we never find the crest of a wave without a trough or a particle without an interval…  Although sounds of high vibration seem to be continuous, to be pure sound, they are not.  Every sound is actually sound/silence…  Light, too, is not pure light, but light/darkness…  Ons alone and offs alone do not exist…  Things are said to move only when compared with others that are relatively still, for motion is motion/stillness;” and, to continue with this train of that, every learning is actually a ‘learn/unlearn.’  I am not separate from the physical laws of particles, nor am I necessarily separate from the computer that I type on now.  The key distinction that I learned from this book is that difference does not signify separateness; and although you and I may be completely different people, we are definitely not separate, neither by the air, nor by the ground.  “The fact is that because no one thing or feature of this universe is separable from the whole, the only real You, or Self, is the whole…  Hitherto this inner-revolution of the mind has been confined to rather isolated individuals; it has never, to my knowledge, been widely characteristic of communities or societies.”  But now is the time to change that.  Now is the moment of “The Great Work,” as Thomas Berry explains, “The Great Work {is} to carry out the transition from a period of human devastation of the Earth to a period when humans would be present to the planet in a mutually beneficial manner,” and I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to study Permaculture in order to answer the call to execute the Great Work.
I have also found out amazing things about myself due to the fact that I quit a job that I knew did not fit my ethics or personality, regardless of the financial risk, and have chosen to change the track that I was on from advertising office work to that of permaculture and garden work.  The objective of obtaining an MSc in Ecosocial Design and starting a career in Permaculture is to have my life’s work be a part of ‘The Great Transition,’ so that I feel good about myself at the end of the day.  I would love to own a small business, or a permaculture center that would be dedicated to building community, environmental education, sustainability, health and social justice.  Any business that I become a part of from this point forward must be in line with the ethics of the permaculture movement, or else I will not be a part of it.  I have already learned the lesson of being a part of a company with a classical economics sense of morality, and it would take a very desperate situation for me to ever join with one again.  I am extremely grateful that I have taken this leap of faith into a new direction in my life and career.  I have grown a huge amount in the short amount of time since this decision, and it has changed my life in amazing ways.  I would never have spent my 27th birthday in New Orleans, been the artist in residence at the Omega Institute, nor discovered Gaia University had I remained in a world of online advertising.

OP1A: Process Reflection

    I am very glad that I went through this process of taking a step back to look at my life from a over-arching viewpoint to be able to relay to people where I am coming from.  It feels amazing to have my life concentrated into a relatively small body of written work, and to include life lessons, maps and certifications.  I feel like I can show this to any potential employer and have a much more effective conversation with them about myself than any resume could achieve alone.
It was hard for me to write less about myself.  I went way past the amount of words that I was supposed to have, and then I found it difficult to pull back and delete sections that weren’t completely necessary.  I find this parallel to how much gusto I have for experiencing life.  I will dedicate myself to many different things, and then find myself in a position where I will have to retract, and choose which of the paths are the most suitable or beneficial for me to pursue.
This output packet has also been my first experience on how work is with Gaia University.  I had the feeling that Gaia U sort of disappeared after leaving Bolinas.  I have found it difficult that there is no online calendar that shows us the dates of upcoming workshops, payments and due dates.  However, it has been great to have support in different buddies and my adviser.  I am confident that I will be more comfortable with the process of getting things done with Gaia U after some more time.

resuméPermaculture  (To view more documents and proof of certifications, please contact the site administrator via email*)

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About danblake222

*MSc "Integrative Ecosocial Design" with Gaia University *BA "Ethnography & Photography" with Minor in Spanish Linguistics from UCSC *Artist in Residence at Omega Institute *Handyman, House Painter, Writer, Photographer, Permaculture Designer, Gardener *Photography portfolio at DBLfoto.com

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