Blended Living

April 1, 2007

I have been working and struggling for years on work/life balance. Have you? Well, I writing to say that I am now officially “over that.” You may think I have gone off the deep end, but I have determined that not only is it impossible, perhaps it is even undesirable. I am now playing with becoming a born again advocate for what I call Blended Living! Those of you familiar with the educational concept of a “blended course,” which includes both online and time in the physical classroom will get my reference. My work and my personal life should be blended, not each living in their own little box. If my work isn’t interesting enough to occupy my creative brain, and improve me as a person why should I do it? If my personal life doesn’t keep me challenged and engaged in love and parenting, why should I have a family? Aren’t these things tied together in a way that should enhance and uplift both sides?

This blog entry has been sitting unfinished and unpublished for a long time now. I guess that fact reveals my vacillation on the subject despite my great pronouncement. I wonder whether my family would approve of my “insight.” One thing that made me come back to this subject was a Contra Costa Times article that came out about my mother, Loni Hancock (California Assemblywoman, District 14) and her husband, Tom Bates (Mayor of Berkeley, California) in which one of them states that their involvement in politics in an avocation not just a vocation. An avocation. Webster Online says that the meaning of avocation is a “a subordinate occupation pursued in addition to one’s vocation especially for enjoyment.” So if you are lucky enough to have your vocation be your avocation, working long hours isn’t a burden, thinking about solutions to challenges while riding your bike with your kids isn’t a terrible treason, and wanting to write that blog entry on blended living instead of folding the laundry just makes plain old sense. But what about the other way around? Wanting to escape the office on a sunny day and go to the beach with your family isn’t against the law, and wanting to not send that last email, but rather sit back and watch Jesus Camp documentary that your son has brought home isn’t being lackadaisical. Right? Yes… but….

I guess having a politician for a mother can take its toll and I definitely spent my time in my teenager years and young adulthood brooding over the lack of full attention I received from my mother. At some point, perhaps after having a child of my own, I gave up on those feelings and started to see what I actually got out of that situation. Besides getting to know my wonderful father, Joe Hancock, better than most kids, I also had an incredible role model of a woman who pursued her passion and helped improve the world. She has done this through a number of careers throughout her life — always different, and always similar — all about improving the world through social and environmental justice. The other day when in debate with some colleagues about the value of the UC Berkeley webcast and podcast program,, and the issues that arise from creating and delivering this content to the public, I raised her political endeavors as an example of something that I wouldn’t take back even if it meant more time for my childhood me. I was surprised by this statement even as it was coming out of my mouth, but I meant it. It was my mother in her entirety that was truly valuable, not just her love for me and my family.

Honestly, I didn’t mean for this to become an “all about my mother” blog entry. But the avocation concept has really stuck with me. The other day, in discussing with my son, Tynan, some “issues” with his focus on his studies he mentioned my work travel in a negative light. I responded with that my work was my study. That felt right. And, on the other hand, I can’t tell you how many of my colleagues know about Tynan, about his ups and downs at school, about the funny things he says sometimes, about his passionate nature. I can only hope that someday he will be standing where I stand now, in the middle of a seamless sea of friends, colleagues, interesting opportunities, and challenging ideas.


One Response to “Blended Living”

  1. outish Says:

    Excellent article and inspiring too. a healthy work life balance is essential in our hectic lives in this fast paced age. Another interesting article on the why and how to acvhieve a work life balance at

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