Key ‘landmarks’ on my life’s journey have repeating themes of ‘place’ ranging from my backyard to the whole planet and out into the cosmos.  What you find here in words and images is the integration of four primary themes: relationships and place – especially the work place, life experience in many places, art inspired by earth and place, and the alchemical and transformative spirit of interior places.

Barbara ShipkaMy Backyard…

As a child and teenager, I spent much of my time in the woods.  I had a garden every summer, fed the chickens, explored every part of the woods, packed a lunch to spend the day on the lake in a rowboat.

I went into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness on the Minnesota-Ontario border when I was 12 and continued every year.  I became a guide when I was in college.  I relished the natural quiet and/or natural sound and basked in the slower, easy pace of living without phone, refrigerator, radio, TV, clocks, motors…(computers? voicemail? email? forgeddaboudit!)

Barbara ShipkaMy family camped from coast to coast in the US and into Canada. The wonderful part about camping is that we can experience the four elements simultaneously…rain on the tent, cooking over an open fire, the breeze – feeling, sound, and smell – in the pines, the smell of soil and new growth…

I also spent some years in a densely populated urban community while my dad was in college on the GI Bill.  Even with how closely we lived together in ‘University Village,’ every year we had a garden and Mom planted morning glories and string beans along the edges of the WWII barracks that served as home.

What both the rural and the urban communities had in common was that they were multicultural.  I wrote a story about those years: A Tale of Two Places.  Hope you enjoy it!

The Whole Planet…

When I was in Kindergarten, I read my first National Geographic magazine and became conscious of my love for this Place of ours!  During that time, my father studied in Yugoslavia on a scholarship.  When he came home he said, “You could do that, too!”  More than 40 years ago, I went on the same scholarship to Czechoslovakia and spent time roaming much of Europe – including Yugoslavia.

Beirut 1971Life’s Fractals…

For portions of 3 decades, I lived and worked in other parts of the world including Europe, The Middle East, Africa, The Caribbean, Latin America, and South Asia.  I love exploring and working with cultural uniqueness and communication.

In the midst of those experiences (and as a result of them), 35 years ago I studied perceptual geography in graduate school.  It’s about how our environment affects our perceptions and about how our perceptions affect our experience and, thus, how both affect our experiences.

Barbara Shipka30 years ago I began my organization consulting business with a dual focus on leadership and relationships at work – globally and during change and transition.

20 years ago I served on perhaps the first ever Global Sustainability Task Force as a member of The World Business Academy.  I also served on the Board of Directors for the World Business Academy and later became a Fellow.

Almost 20 years ago I adopted my son, Michael, in Lima, Peru.  He was 10 weeks old.  What a precious soul!  What a lucky mom!  His origins are with the Lamistas — an intact indigenous tribe of 50,000 people who continue to speak their language and live in the Amazon Cloud Forest between the high Andes and the Amazon River Basin.

Barbara ShipkaMy writing for others began as letters to Michael in the months after we returned from Peru.

15 years ago I wrote a book, Leadership in a Challenging World, with a core theme of the interconnectedness between individual consciousness (conscious leadership) and global sustainability.

8 years ago I became an artist.  Whether with stones or graphics, all of the co-creation emerged in waves of nested and spiraling fractals – like a nautilus or a galaxy – in personal and global healing.  It has taken me out into the Cosmos as well.  As below, so above.

3 years ago I developed an applied learning process for corporate leaders consisting primarily of virtual global dialogues exploring the ambiguities, challenges and dilemmas that face us as we grow in the “art” of leadership.

I have a fire pit in my backyard.  It’s as close as I get to camping these days.  Nonetheless, I can experience the four elements right here.  The only thing I long for is a better view of the stars.

My!  How the time does fly!  What a privilege it is to be Here!

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