Me and Malawi

THE POWER OF LEADING A DEVOTIONAL LIFE OR WHAT THE *** AM I DOING IN MALAWI? Last December I was sitting in my apartment downtown Vancouver reflecting on what was left for me to do in this city. I had worked as a natural gas broker and owned my own natural gas brokerage company for 13 years, raised two kids who now were successfully launched in their own live’s, (I am going to keep on believing this regardless), while volunteering for over 15 years as an ordained buddhist chaplain, (the last five years) with street kids… read more

2015: WORKING AT AN ORGANIZATIONAL LEVEL I utilized my integral teaching and curriculum development skills by volunteering for five months with Butterfly Space in Nkhata Bay. Here is where I play: read more

WORKING ON AN EMERGENT MOMENT TO MOMENT BASIS: Every moment was unique. Here are a few stand outs for me. 1. Resourcing and hosting a baby shower under the guidance of two beautiful Malawian women..Madame Maureen who I co-taught with at a primary level and Alice who was the ambassador at Butterfly Space..When sitting and talking to some women I asked them what they dreamed about. Read more

The Power of Leading a Devotional Life

OR WHAT THE *** AM I DOING IN MALAWI?

Malawi_PDESANTE01Last December I was sitting in my apartment downtown Vancouver reflecting on what was left for me to do in this city. I had worked as a natural gas broker and owned my own natural gas brokerage company for 13 years, raised two kids who now were successfully launched in their own life’s, (I am going to keep on believing this regardless.) while volunteering for over 15 years as an ordained buddhist chaplain (the last five years) with street kids, in critical care wards, in facilitating conversations between stakeholders in Vancouver’s downtown eastside; one of the poorest neighborhoods in North America, in founding and teaching at an alternative integral elementary school, in serving on an organizational committee for, “The Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education,” in launching an organization called Ujammah Collaborations which was dedicated to resourcing Afrikan diaspora led youth organizations working with fashion, hiphop and social media, in offering business executives morning meditation and porridge, in blogging in the Province; Vancouver’s largest newspaper distributor on the ethics and practice of fashion for Vancouver Fashion Week and launching various campaigns like, “Raising the Hemline.”

I felt a sense of completion and an exhale, (You probably feel that exhale after reading that paragraph.) AND an invitation to inhale my next stage of life and work. Just as a side note, I am a big proponent as you can see of volunteering in your local community. I have used 99.90% of my own money resourcing and doing all of this work. Whoops…Ok I forgot the sacred rule of give 50% away and keep 50% for self but my life has been enriched infinite times over by the people that have entrusted me with their loved ones. I am all too aware of people going overseas to, “save others,” by building schools, drilling water wells and not having a clue of what is really needed within the cultural context and unfortunately and often unintentionally creating more harm than good. I believe for the most part, “Us white folks,” should put a muzzle on our mouth of what to do in, “Developing countries.” So I tred as lightly as I can when I move in Malawi and elsewhere internationally.

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One of my friends that was sitting on the floor with me in my 900sq. ft. studio that day , suggested I should go to Nkhata Bay in Malawi. It instantly felt right. I looked it up on a map. It had a lake, actually the third largest lake in Afrika. I love lakes and it was mountainous. Perfect. I booked a flight immediately. I decided to go for five months. In the two months I was not so patiently waiting to leave, half the country was declared a disaster zone and there was an Ebola threat in the exact town I had chosen as the destination for my initial visit to the continent. People didn’t ask me, “Are you still going?” Instead they declared, “You are not going.” I knew I was going..It was as some say, “Already Written!”

I HAVE TWO HOMES. ONE IN MALAWI IN S.E AFRIKA ALSO KNOWN AS, “THE WARM HEART OF AFRIKA,” AND ONE ON THE ROAD.

DISCLAIMER:  I am NOT an NGO following a mandate that is fully funded. This is the question I am most commonly asked. I am an independent traveler and zen buddhist chaplain following my devotion of contributing to the well-being of women and youth around the world but mostly now in Malawi. I bring the tool’s of my life’s vast experience and my own finances to date, to amplify the brilliance of Nkhata Bay’s community.

 

Malawi 2015

WORKING AT AN ORGANIZATIONAL LEVEL

1. I utilized my integral teaching and curriculum development skills by volunteering for five months with Butterfly Space in Nkhata Bay where I worked with nursery and primary students as well as diving into some permaculture work with the local schools.

2. I transferred both my business skills and experience working with organizations from Uganda and Kenya to assist two Afrikan artists and musicians in their launch of a new Afrikan led Youth Organization called Ntchangu which means “Mine,” an organization with a vision dedicated to exploring how Nkhata Bay can become the happiest, healthiest most peaceful and prosperous bay in all of Afrika.

Key Moments

WORKING ON AN EMERGENT MOMENT TO MOMENT BASIS: EVERY MOMENT WAS UNIQUE. HERE ARE A FEW STAND OUTS FOR ME

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 10.28.43 AM1) Resourcing and hosting a baby shower under the guidance of two beautiful Malawian women, Madame Maureen who I co-taught with at a primary level and Alice who was the ambassador at Butterfly Space was most definitely a highlight. When sitting and talking to some women I asked them what they dreamed about. They were married women and they said, ‘Once you get married you don’t dream anymore.” I asked them again what they dreamed about. The first woman responded she wanted to be a nurse but given the logistics of commuting an hour each way to the closest educational training she confessed it simply wasn’t possible. Another woman said she wanted a baby shower because only rich people get baby showers. Given my resources I we went ahead and said, “Let’s do a babyshower Malawi style.”  By the sounds of their excitement, I started to realize that this would be a community event where just women would be the recipients. “Yes,” was my only response.

2) I also found myself utilizing various trauma reduction models that I was trained in from my zen buddhist chaplaincy with some of the foreign doctors and nurses who were interning in local villages and experiencing high levels of stress. In Malawi it is not acceptable to cry outside of a funeral so for these health practitioners who were both witnessing and participating in many procedures without any pain relief for the patients it was almost unbearable.

3) And then of course I got to participate in filming two music videos. What did I do lol -not much. I brought my connections along with me, an international film maker to give some tips on directing and then I offered my camera that was used to film the two music videos.

As a zen buddhist chaplain ordained in the, “Peacemakers Order,” I move or at least I try to do my best and move holding this basic tenant of bearing witness.

“When we bear witness, when we become the situation — homelessness, poverty, illness, violence, death — the right action arises by itself. We don’t have to worry about what to do. We don’t have to figure out solutions ahead of time. Peacemaking is the functioning of bearing witness. Once we listen with our entire body and mind, loving action arises. Loving action is right action. It’s as simple as giving a hand to someone who stumbles or picking up a child who has fallen on the floor. We take such direct, natural actions every day of our lives without considering them special. And they’re not special. Each is simply the best possible response to that situation in that moment”. —Bernie Glassman

Services

PUBLIC SPEAKING
From organized university and college gatherings to weekly meditational talks with youth at youth crisis centres and schools, to activist gatherings in Boston with gay and trans community to the First Presencing Conference at MIT to introducing the power of hip-hop to business organizations read more

EVENT-INTERN MENTORSHIP
Zen-inspired coaching that broadens and deepens an organizations contribution to an interns experience and event excellence. read more

PERSONAL 3MINDAMP COACHING
I coach to increase a person’s capacity to open, attune and respond to any life’s situation with an increasing level of insight and compassion. read more

3MINDAMP COLABS
Its time to play and at the same time these are high-impact energetic research-action workshops that bring a master practitioner together with a community to explore and have fun by directly engaging the philosophy… read more

SPECIAL PROJECTS
Exactly what it sounds like…personalized requests to engage 3mindAMP in real life applications read more

Meet Patti

Meet PattiHEY! Here is abit about me…You can get to know more about me and what drives me on the blog, facebook, instagram and other addictive media as they evole and I evolve with them..

From working as a natural gas broker, to starting my own natural gas brokerage company to starting an integral alternative school to becoming a zen buddhist chaplain, to working alongside street youth in a kitchen environment, to travelling with hiphop artists, to hands held high on a fashionweek’s catwalk and to resourcing diaspora led youth platforms from Uganda, Kenya, Tibet, Burma and on and on…Its how I move..and I balance it out with yoga, walking, good friends and an open heart that oscillates between great doubt and great faith for our current and future human and planetary condition.

MY SPIRIT seeks out evolving edges that are flowing with creative potential with great faith and robustness and usually a hell of alot of chaos..that good old, “full on catastrophe living”. It’s the place just beyond where our stories have been seen, an important and vital step and then are let go so we can create a new story that emerges from our capacity to engage intimately with everything anew.  It is a space that just overflows with energy, opportunity and appreciation.

PROFESSIONALLY SPEAKING, I became a short- term natural gas broker in 1986 right at the beginning of deregulation of the natural gas industry with two years of exploration and reservoir geology experience in my corporate portfolio. It was a spontaneous decision made with absolute clarity.  I loved being a broker in those early days because everything was new…the field was wide-open to create and engage with others and to land ideas in concrete action.  It was fun and the people working in the field were fearless at one level.  There was no-one to tell you what to do or what the price of gas was. It was very raw. Pricing was not transparent at that time. There of course was an enormous shadow in all of this as we are all well acquainted with through the exploits of Enron but there were some attributes that were very healthy.  People connected and had fun. We were resourceful.  We could tolerate ambiguity.  We were energetic, insightful and generous and most importantly we were not frightened to make mistakes. We trusted our own internal voice because decisions often had to be made quickly and at times things were incredibly chaotic.  We also knew how to let go and not stay too attached to our ideas and just keep moving with steadfast optimism.

I applied to zen buddhist chaplaincy training with the same mind set, the same spirit of not knowing what I was really getting into and yet knowing with certainly that it was the next step in my work. I was one of 12 to graduate in the first year of a unique chaplaincy program that was designed to affect change on a personal, interpersonal and systems-wide basis. This was a chaplaincy that was designed to alleviate suffering at every level of our society.  We were trained to intervene in systems at maximum points of leverage to affect change on a broad systems wide basis that would contribute to the well-being of organizations and the people they affected. In addition to receiving training firmly grounded in buddhist philosophy, ethics and meditation practice, we worked with leading edge teachers from prominent universities and institutes.  Teachers that were linking meditation with the latest neuro-scientific research, with emerging social presencing technologies designed to foster communication between groups who never come together, and buddhist teachers that were moving their practice into vital socially engaged projects.  The first cohort team was eclectic, certainly not your usual suspects taking chaplaincy.  Our team included a lawyer, a pentagon employee/Rhode scholar working on nuclear disarmament, a shamanic healer, a business consultant, a mental health worker, a teacher and myself, a broker, just to name a few.   We all shared a spirit of adventure and willingness to be in a program that evolved as we were in it.  We didn’t need to know everything.  We adapted as the program found its ground, its strengths and the places that needed to change.  The team and the program co-created, and co-evolved together with the same healthy qualities found in those early natural gas brokers with a profound new addition that we moved grounded in strong ethics and the commitment to do no harm, to do good, and to do good for others.

UJAMAAH COLLABORATIONS

After graduating from Upaya, I attended a university dialogue on the trans-local potential of diaspora development.  I had no idea what it was about but a young man from Kenya who spoke so genuinely and wholeheartedly about his youth platform back home moved me and  I jumped in.  Shortly afterwards, I helped co-found an organization called  Ujamaah,  that resourced diaspora youth platforms focused on a systems approach to community health through resourcing art, music and sports. Check out our tumblr and successes!

My strength in cultivating, collaborating and sharing my vast network of connections and community space that I held downtown enabled new ventures to take wings and succeed. My current and personal work with 3mindAMP is to take the vision of Ujamaah back to the foundation of practice while simultaneously holding and working towards the vision of a networked system of radical peacemaking centers that are committed as much to their own charges as they are to each other.

For me my primary devotion outside of all the things I have done is my role as mom, as chaplain and not just to my own kids but to all youth and to protect and nourish the spirit of openness, the spirit of youth in all of us that spontaneously does cartwheels wherever the energy moves them to engage in their highest act of devotion and wonder for the sacredness of living fully alive in service to all!

Bowing to all of you with utter devotion and appreciation.

May you all be happy, healthy, joyful and safe.

Please come play with me!

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You can contact me at pidesante@gmail.com or 778-995-4048