The Inside Scoop: Wild Hearts for a Day in the Sun

Wild Hearts is a contemporary art piece regarding my personal sharing as a sustainable entrepreneur that I have prepared for my voice and participation in Day in the Sun, wonderfully organised by Millet World. I think this fair might just have sparked the beginning of the integration of my core passions: family, art, entrepreneurism.

Day in the Sun

 

“Wild Hearts”, 2019
for a Day in the Sun
Peng-Ean Khoo
mixed media, multiple dimension
a work travel bag of stuff

 

Here is how “Wild Hearts” work:

img_4637-1my work travel bag

 

  1. Kindly unpack my work travel bag.
  2. Do enjoy my work survival kit, but please remember to pack them back in.
  3. Help yourself to my namecard, and please leave yours in my namecard purse.
  4. Should you desire to exchange a token for a Wild Heart Token, please do so. I would be absolutely thrilled! Kindly place your exchange token in my work travel bag.
  5. Kindly repack my work travel bag when satisfied.
  6. I’ll pick it up from Aravind on Monday.
  7. You’ve been swell exploring my work travel bag. Thank you.

 

 

“In the sunshine of your mind” – Roy Orbison

It is so important to be able to light up hope when during the difficult nights of doubts, you wonder if the path that you are on is where you are supposed to tread on. The good and bad news is that your foot is treading on the next step anyway. So, whether it is good or bad, is really up to you. Up to you to define and direct the next step. Then the path becomes your own way. You can own it, and interestingly, it is never for sale. So, what is for sale?

 

What is sustainable entrepreneurship if your path and your work is not for sale?

This has been my constant, business (somewhat treacherous) conflict and dilemma as a sustainable entrepreneur. I ask this question every day, and it agonises me a lot, and it comes out as foolish to many, and equally agonising to my investors and colleagues. Yet, we have stayed. We have stayed with each other, for one another.

I realise now after 20 years of daring to take that first step as an entrepreneur, meaning starting up my own business, and owning my own companies, that entrepreneurism isn’t that act of owning a business, but that act of desiring to do something different, not for the sake of it, but in recognition that something isn’t right. Something in the economics system is missing, and isn’t serving everyone. And so, my own path has always been about the discovery of the responses that MUST work, to serve those previously unserved. Must because, there are lives who are in great need. And they are suffering. And a precious human life suffering, is unacceptable, for me.

 

And we can’t look away, and pretend that it is ok.

And I didn’t know that this is to become my unchanging “why” when I took that first step on the journey of entrepreneurism. Until 20 years later. And then, I look back and say to myself, “Gosh, that went by fast.” And what have I to show for that journey? Alas, it is becoming clear this morning: it’s my stories. I have become a storyteller, a travelling tradeswoman; a simple, honest peddler on the streets, of hope. And actually, that ain’t bad at all. In fact, it is quite fantastic. I have found riches beyond the currency of the times; I have found so many friends, so many hopes, delivered on so many dreams – especially, truthfully, my own. Paradoxically, I have been the unquestionable beneficiary of this tumultuous journey, and I feel tremendously grateful for it.

 

The Surprising Insight

The insight of this morning is that my first unserved was – me. Over the 20 years of ups and downs, I realise today that I have been prototying iteratively for myself an unshakeable and unsinkable boat in the storm: conviction.

Conviction, for me, or the search of voice, meaning, purpose, culture, participation, citizenry, and service is about identity. These can’t find articulation until they hit us, sock us in the stomach like a big internalisation of our own authentically experienced and determined language, story, knowledge, framing, and decisions of acceptable truths, and then commitments, often discovered during a gifting of a big dose of humility, accompanied by learnt patience, taught tenderly.

 

Dignity and Beauty

Feelings are the hardest. They are raw, emotional and undeniable, no matter how much we run away from it. What does all this have to do with entrepreneurism? For me, I have learnt that this is everything. I understand now that being an entrepreneur is birthed out of the fire of necessity and circumstance. If entrepreneurism is detached from livelihood, it is a lab exercise. It isn’t entrepreneurism but a research project. Entrepreneurs breathe very close to the air of survival and hold in our guts every day of those who need to fend and provide for ourselves, our families, our communities, our nation states, and our local-global governance, peace and harmony. Entrepreneurs are persons, teams, family, community, nation, global village builders.

And so, the most critical, vital and vibrant quality of a sustainable entrepreneur, for me, is care. In caring, we find joy. We feel the inarticulable of loving and being loved.

I have learnt that unless and until we learn to practise seeing our own inner rawness as beauty and exercise self-care, it is very difficult to nurture others. Until we find our own coherence, our own voice, our own stand, our own meaning and purpose, our own decisions, our own presence, it is very difficult to actually lead others. At most, we are just in a holding pattern, hoping that something materialises, like shape-shifting clouds in the sky.  We aren’t yet creating, and far from co-creating. Because, for me, leadership and creativity have a very definite direction: in the moment of greatest need, it arises to pay forward, always. And so, I have become unafraid of need. I have learnt that if we can hold our authenticity in our most difficult struggles then somehow the puzzle of the wholeness of dignity arrives in search of us.

 

Why Songs?

I don’t know why I listen to songs during my road warrior investigation, validation and creation of new markets, but they are my accompaniments. I listen to the emotional tensions in the songs, to the inarticulable except by way of song, and the hope of love and friendship, and everything that can be right about the world, if only we believe. So, I listen to songs, to sooth myself during very difficult moments, and I listen to songs, to celebrate, during the amazing unexpected triumphs of insights and realities.

This song, “Wild Hearts Run Out of Time” by Roy Orbison, kept playing for me this grey morning, running up to Deepavali and Millet World’s incredible “Day in the Sun” micro-entrepreneurism fair. Aravind called me this morning, and I knew even before I had put down the phone, that I would be participating. Because, it isn’t about introducing Bilberries Blue to the community, but it is because of Colin, Ming Yen, Tee Tong, Aravind, Tenny and their teams. It is because they inspire me. They keep lighting the light in the dark, forgotten places, and they reclaim the truths of spaces, and turn them into places of belonging. Places of hope, of love, of friendship, and of the preciousness of realness. They turn darkness not into the blinding light of neons, but into places of hospitality where wild hearts can truly share and realise dreams.

 

Turning Up

I have learnt that sometimes turning up is all that matters. Especially if it seems very little or invisible, even. It is the intent that matters. Because the intent that carries the heart of that small hope for a better future is already on its way to realising itself.

BB - TKW - Building the ESG Economy - Mar 14, 2019 - final

The most difficult moments for me are when I can’t find or build the bridges between separations, to enable the flows of goodwill and trade between people and communities through the market mechanism. For me, sustainable entrepreneurs are living exchanges of multitudes of crossroads and confluences of culture, which over time turn into the mutuality and reciprocity of hospitality. When you understand the other’s world, you then begin to enter it, and vice versa. After a while, a new world forms between the two. And very often, it begins because both have a need, a void that can only be filled by the other. It sounds terrifyingly like a love affair, but perhaps, truthful exchanges do drill down to this: I need you, and you need me, for us to be whole.

My friends who are my colleagues are going to yell at me for saying all this. But, I think, today, I really just want to stand on my own ground of truth. And this is really where I have arrived at after that very first decision to be an entrepreneur.

 

Don’t Waste Time

I hold in my own wild heart, a very dear wisdom of one of my mentors, “Don’t waste time.” And he is right. And so, I turn up with my suitcase too at this fair. It is all I ever wanted to be: to be an entrepreneur. The reason just revealed itself to me now. Because of my dad. I want to be an entrepreneur, just like my dad. Because he is my star. And so, I have always aspired to be a star, like him. And today, for whatever strange reason, I do feel like a star. Even though I don’t have the traditional riches to show for it, but a humble suitcase of hope.

img_4563my work travel bag

 

Because I am a woman

And because I am a woman, I also wanted more than anything to have a family: to be a mom. To be a mom like my mom is to me. She is always fully present for me, even now, and I am already 49 years old. I will always be her baby, and she always – my mom. Motherhood is really just this, for me and my mom. When mom is around, she is my mom, and I am her precious, baby daughter. It is that simple, and that marvelous. My mom was fully present throughout my childhood, for me. And when I was a young adult, what I wanted more than anything, even more than being an entrepreneur, is to be a mom. To be that kind of woman, who is a mom for my children. My husband and two beautiful children are gifts for my life, and weekends are our family time. And because childhood comes with a timeclock, I have learnt never to compromise this priority, and risk the regret of missing out too much of family time when I look back later after my children have grown into independent adults. And so, my work-life choices have always been about my family first.

 

Self-Care Suitcase

So pardon me, if I can’t be physically present at the fair. I am leaving a self-care suitcase. You may unpack and repack it. It contains my toolkits for work. It is my work travel bag. It has wheels to carry files. It also can be converted into a backpack if I have to run for buses, trains or planes. And sometimes, boats.

img_4562my work survival kit

 

I make sure I hydrate. So, I bring a water bottle everywhere I go. This is my water bottle, that during one of my work assignments, found itself getting labelled. The Receptionist was so kind that she had typed out my name and pasted it on my water bottle, as the Tea Aunty had kept finding it everywhere, in my absentmindedness of multiple meeting muddles.

img_4561-1my absolutest favourite water bottle of all times

 

In my work travel bag, you will also find my office Petty Cash box. Monetary capital is important. So, an entrepreneur must always learn to account for cash. For this fair, I am going to use tokens as a medium of gift exchange instead of cash.

img_4551my office Petty Cash box

 

‘Zombies & the Hitchhiker’*

I see exchanges as places where the dignity of life can be discovered, rediscovered, framed, reshaped, shared and grow in dynamic forms of possibilities. That way, the precious encountering of the shared time can be embodied in space in a tangible form, sometimes that which envelopes and embraces us, and sometimes that which is mobile, and inter-changeable. And most times, that which gifts us breathability and the place of freedom and solitude: to pause, think, contemplate, and make an informed and compassionate choice of response.

If you fancy any of the Wild Hearts Tokens, please leave a token for Bilberries Blue’s Travelling Gifts Exchange, an idea which emerged during our inaugural microsummit – Warm Data Emergences – with Nora Bateson. *We have quoted from Nora’s book “Small Arcs of Larger Circles” and named the Gift Pouch: Zombies & the Hitchhiker.

img_4556‘Zombies & the Hitchhiker’ Gift Pouch

 

Touching My Own Inner Heart

Nora taught me most of all to touch my inner heart. To tell my own story as an entrepreneur and business leader, from that space of being a woman, a mom, an intellectual, an entrepreneur and a whole person. She taught me that vulnerability in sharing isn’t something to be afraid of, but that it is the very power which grounds us to being simply very human in our every endeavor. And that is a great place to be. Because this groundedness travels wide and far, on its very own self-regenerative mileage of courage, camaraderie and meaningful collaboration. Everywhere we go is then home, work, play, and doing good. Doing good for me is increasingly becoming simply being human. If I can touch my inner humanity every moment, I think I am fully grateful, satisfied and ecstatically-content with the very simplicity of this goodness. That I am alive. To witness, articulate and participate in the whole wonder of this world.

 

Wild Hearts Tokens

I had made these drawings during 2014 when I was learning to convert my intense energy of dissatisfaction into love and beauty. It is an act and practice of courage and commitment. To take the hurt, anger and rage, of disappointments, failings and losses, and dare to say this visibly, “I will not be defeated, and I will make something good out of this experience.” I am grateful I have found the solace I needed in the honesty of making art.

img_4559

Wild Hearts Tokens:
and so I offer my hope
to be exchanged for your hope
during this Day in the Sun fair;
and thus begins,
our first steps
towards a serendipitous friendship.

 

Light Up

Contentment and discontent are both stuff that surface for us to examine to become beacons in storms. In leading up to Deepavali, I am writing this with the mindfulness of the importance to recognise with full humility, that humanity and world peace, sometimes really reside in that very dark place, where we are unsure. Where we dare to question our fallibility. And where we also dare to question our past triumphs. Both reveal things that we might be too afraid to confront. But when we do, we see insights previously unpacked. And then, suddenly, our hearts soar. Something rekindles. And we are home, while taking flight. Because we also know how to land safely. Because we now know where home is. And just as suddenly, we are on a new adventure, that we know we MUST take. Though we can’t yet say what it is, to anyone, or even ourselves.

 

And that for me is – joy. It uplights and uplifts our wild hearts.
To soar.

 

And we won’t let wild hearts run out of time. Because time is a continuity. We get to carry the torch of the running, sometimes alone, but always together. Because even when we think we are running it alone, there is always someone cheering us on. And one by one, people do turn up. So, don’t lose heart in your sojourns, travels and adventures of being an entrepreneur.

 

Pedagogical Documentation

We are still completing our pedagogical documentation and will be surfacing soon with our emergences post our inaugural microsummit. Please look out for news at:

Bilberries Blue FB Page https://www.facebook.com/BilberriesBlue/ or

Bilberries Blue Website www.bilberriesblue.com or

Bilberries Blue Youtube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCStbvZAZFsKYjRgngNLXFmQ.

For now, enjoy the backstory, while we create many, more new exciting adventures as Sustainability Stewards.

 

Here’s wishing you a happy wild heart day!

 

Sincerely,
Peng-Ean Khoo

img_4555my namecard purse

 

PHOTOS FROM WILD HEARTS 

Setting up the booth with Aravind and Dennis

 

Wild Hearts Stand

img_4782

 

Wild Hearts Exchanges

 

Wild Hearts Joy

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The Silent Dancer in a Pregnant Pause

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Bilberries Blue is developing a platform called The Silent Dancer in A Pregnant Pause. The title is a haiku which serves as a reminder of the embrace of the harmony of ideas and applications in nature and human nature juxtapositions, rational, non-rational, concrete, symbolic, articulable, inarticulable expressions.

It is an inter-disciplinary platform which empathises, investigates, documents, creates, shares and celebrates insights, artistic expressions, dialogues, meetings, encounters, study groups, classrooms, seminars, workshops, work groups, projects, productions, programmes, services, making things, personal, inter-personal, family, community, ecology, enterprise, ethics, governance, gifting, altruism, wellbeing, compassionate instruments that address global sustainabilitytransitions, development and immediate challenges.

It is an open space for our wholehearted humanity to express and live its amazing wholeness, care and responsibility in our lives. In particular, we will explore, investigate and document compassionate collaboration, communication and coordination.

The personallocal-global applications are pertinent in our good work.

The song is one of love – alive, humble, truthful, vibrant, joyful, giving, caring, all inclusive, and gentle. Gentleness and openness shall bear the silent chords of compassion that will harmonise our heartful endeavours, undertakings and accomplishments.

 

March 21, 2019 

To commemorate World Down Syndrome Day, we incorporated two companies, The Silent Dancer Pte Ltd and The Kind Weaver Pte Ltd, to enable our ESG Economy Knowledge Development ecology.

A Sustainable Stewardic Exchange, The Kind Weaver, begins to weave itself.

Creativity

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Creativity for me has turned so many meanings and purposes that I wonder if a courageous sense of open goodness is where I am riding in. Creativity isn’t about something new; often it is about something ancient that we have forgotten. Creativity isn’t actually about the future either, because the future emerges from what we do today. Creativity is perhaps about how we live the now – are we alive, hopeful and fruitful or are we negative, bitter and destructive?

So perhaps creativity is about reconciliation and peace. For if we are not adaptable, we would be stuck in our past – our pains and even our triumphs, and in a projectile of a future that is necessarily limited. And we would be stuck within ourselves, and there would no longer be any need for imaginings that are even beyond our existing limitations and longings.

So inherent in creativity is about the ability to forgive, to let go, to renew, and to commit to the constant re-examination and re-building that is unquestionably called to bring forth the vision – that can be seen only always in the horizon. Because to define it, is to limit it. And so, creativity becomes a choice: to always remain open and faithful – to the eventual actualisation of the greater good.

Creativity becomes a dogged determination and commitment to liberty for all.

Creativity is very much about striving. It is a refusal to remain defeated. Creativity is striving to live and witness a humanity far more kinder, gentler, more peaceful, more gracious than we can imagine we can ever be. And returning to a primordiality that is at once simple, and absolutely complex in its diverse expressions, and coordination.

It is less about the how but more about the harmony and music of life – our uniqueness, our diversity, our openness. And the mystery of our collective beauty.

It is singing and dancing the song of life, and our parts and duties in this song. In the final analysis, perhaps the song is always silent, because, it is always and necessarily – open, infinite and inarticulable.

This song, though silence, is vibrant, filled with life and always ready – to burst forth the next phrase of the living joy of simply being – alive.

Creativity is honouring the created and holding the uncreated with joyful expectancy.

Creativity is about embracing one another.

 

 

Leadership

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I have been examining this for longer than I am even aware. I used to think leadership is about capabilities. Then I thought leadership is about directing. And then I thought leadership is about empathy, care and giving. Then I found out leadership is about empowerment, enablement and nurturing. Suddenly, I get all excited, and I jumbled into leadership tons of creative energy and spontaneous freedom, and my daughter, often, truly astutely, would exclaim – “That’s a jumbly mess!” (after Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss). And we would collapse in laughter at our own silliness and creative discoveries. Leadership became for me about discoveries and joy.

I am now facing this very interesting space. That leadership is about courage.

It is about standing in a space where no one can even begin to recognise what you are just beginning to glimpse, where not even a vision is yet articulable, but that you know that it is the only direction worth facing. And that you are already taking a step towards that destiny. Regardless, in spite of, amidst, everything articulable and inarticulable.

You continue to walk tall and securely. One step at a time, without a map, because it is no longer a space where a map exists anymore (no one can tell you what to do in this space), just an inner compass. An intuition, that is unchanging. Towards uniqueness, towards unity of heart, towards peace and reconciliation, towards freedom, towards – courage.

And you are no longer afraid to do what is simply right.

And you find in that heart of courage: responsible action.

And that it is as silent as it is active. And that it is as personal as it is universal.

And doubt disappears and only belief remains.

That our human lives are about doing good and our common destiny is love.

 

 

Human Resource

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Human Resource is about people. It is less so about managing people, but truly desiring to support and enable relevant market skills and whole-being development. It took me a long time to figure out why a status-conscious or rank-conscious or even a performance-based paradigm would not sustain. The heart of humanity is one. Each of us is unique and the same. So when we enter a place to participate, we necessarily anticipate to belong, in equal standing. And in trust, of each other, for one another.

Equality is not about uniformity. Equality is about appreciating, valuing and enjoying the differences. It is more like jazz. True harmony is when each can be, yet we are whole, and in unison.

It only suddenly occurred to me that the heart of empowerment is simply about believing. And again, patience and inner patience.

Patience is from a deep place of believing, never from a place of judgment or measure or  dogma or a predetermined ideology about perfection or rebellion.

It dawned upon me that the inner patience is really about holding oneself: self-control. Executive function is about emotional regulation as much as making choices, or decision-making, and responsible action. The three go hand in hand.

Emotional regulation isn’t about suppression or denial or mastery of emotions. It is much more basic, simple and humbling than that. Emotional regulation is about honesty and maturity. Honesty about our feelings, especially the negative feelings, and to sit with each of our feelings, until they pass. It is to be able to embrace our insecurities and vulnerabilities with compassion and love.

Making choices isn’t really about making a choice unless one is calm. There is a whole world of difference between a momentary reaction and a response, typically for life.

Knee jerk reactions are but that. They tend to be fight or flight. Or freeze in arguments, blaming and scapegoating. Or daydreams, unable to engage reality. But they don’t actually solve anything. They solve surface perturbations, but they don’t address the heart of the discordant. Usually, the heart of why a space or a community is not working is actual disharmony itself or a perception of disharmony.

Conflicts and contradictions are part of day-to-day living. When we honestly examine and truly work through tangles and struggles without abandonment is when we truly transcend as a community truly faithful to each other and to global peace. It is only then that we truly innovate and grow our humanity in our work and living spaces.

So, to re-begin looking at Human Resource is to look at oneself, with deep honesty, generosity, love and respect. And yes, belief.

Strategy

IMG_5679Strategy is an interesting idea. I have wondered for a long time what is the divide – between strategy and strategy execution, between management and staff, between mission and processes, between budget and actual, between shareholders and the people who make up the corporation. And so on. I wonder if anyone notices that life is real time. And that every moment isn’t at all repeatable. What is then the pragmatic or doable strategy to navigate this reality? I come down to consistency. Every living moment is then an embodiment of your entire reason or purpose of existence – mission, vision, strategy, strategy execution, enterprise performance management, enterprise resource planning & processing. It is an integration of all that you are. What then is this snapshot or point of coherence that is at once meaningful, harmonious and fruitful for each of the member of the common participation – be it in an enterprise, a corporation, an organisation, a community? That to me is the deep meaning of purpose. And since everyone is a human person, I would dare venture that ultimately, it is about cultivating, scaffolding, and growing humanity. And the process is about patience and inner patience. And a word that is so seldom breathed in corporate circles: love.

Sustainability

IMG_5685It was very strange. I almost got confused between strategy and sustainability. Perhaps there really isn’t any difference. The strategy, any strategy, afterall, ultimately, is to sustain, isn’t it? If you don’t sustain, you are out of a business, a job, a mission, an application of an idea or purpose or reason, and well, maybe, a planet. So, I find it quite intriguing that we spend so much and so much time about processes, or even markets, when actually the smart question, or the only question, is about transformation towards collective sustainability. How do you transform in order to sustain the whole, so that the part still has a part to participate in?  So isn’t sustainability about the earth, people collaborating, cooperating and sharing and discovering greatness – within and for the whole. It is the simultaneity of the two, the parts and the whole. It is about understanding, appreciating, and enabling our individual and collective roles and responsibilities to come to a point of recognition that resolving this paradox is simply this: the part is the whole. That I am a part of you and that you are a part of me. That, in fact, “I” am “you” and “you” are “me”. That it is not possible to defeat the other without defeating ourselves. That it is only possible to sustain the other, in order to sustain ourselves. So, sustainability comes down to this. To take care of the other, as we would, ourselves. We make so many jigsaw puzzles, cutting the one picture into so many parts, but the picture is right under our noses. It is the divides that divide us; however, we cut it. Supposing we focus on bridging the separations. Separations are the most difficult to bridge. That’s why the gap has arisen in the first place. But suppose we say to ourselves, “Let’s bridge the islands.” What happens? We sustain. We don’t break or fall apart.