Bridgette Di Ferdinando was working in the corporate world as a organizational psychologist and change management consultant where she had the chance to closely examine the culture and make-up of companies in Australia, the United States and throughout Europe. Over time, what she began to see was that employees were feeling less-and-less empowered and companies were putting less-and-less trust in their employees. She watched as higher-ups started focusing less on the individual and more on the bottom dollar. That was around the time that she decided she needed out.
Recognizing that she had put all of her energy into her work – “I didn’t really have work hours, because every hour was a work hour.” – she went back to the bucket list of things she had always been curious about and started to explore and experiment with them. This included massage therapy, interior design and as much travel as she could manage. It was during this time period that I had the lucky chance of meeting her when our paths crossed in Costa Rica at The Yoga Farm in 2011.
Bridgette returned to Australia and, while continuing to work as a consultant, became active in her community around food advocacy, specifically working to try and stop the big supermarket chains from setting up in Bondi. She also was pregnant with her son, Leonardo, and wanted a place where you could find affordable, chemical free produce. So, she and a few others decided to start Bondi Food Collective, a member-based not-for-profit organic food co-op that is “run for the community by the community, providing the very best in organic, Australian-grown produce and dry foods at more affordable prices than conventional supermarkets.”
This led her to dive deeper into her passion for food and cooking, connecting her back to all that she had learned from her Italian and Greek grandmothers. She realized that to be able to do all that she wanted to do, she would have to go back to school to get her BA in nutritional medicine. So, last year, with a toddler in tow, she did just that.
In the podcast episode we talk about her decision to leave the corporate world, how she has dealt with the people who have not understood her life choices and what it is like to go back to school later in life. Listen below to learn more about Bridgette’s Chapter Be story…
CHAPTER BE QUESTIONNAIRE…
What’s your favorite quote, story or fact?
I found this quote on a wall on my very first trip to Bali:
“Wherever my travels take me, paradise is where I am.”
I’ve moved so much in my life, and sometimes I didn’t give places the opportunity to show me their version of ‘paradise’. So this quote resonates with me.
Worst work experience?
Probably my last full time corporate role. I was in this horrible, incredibly responsible role, with the ‘support’ I needed to make decisions on the other side of the world, all with a different agenda. I also reported to a very self important guy who basically told me to my face on the day I left that his objective was to do whatever he could to make my work life hell, because he decided on the first day I started that he didn’t like me. At least he told me to my face. That was my wake up call.
What is your definition of success?
Being somewhere you love, with someone you love and doing something you love. There’s nothing more successful than that but it can take a lifetime to achieve it unless you are prepared to learn and acknowledge what you love.
How do you tap into your creative energies – especially when you are feeling drained?
There’s this odd obsession of mine to read cookbooks, especially old ones and sometimes in languages I don’t even know! Even though I rarely cook from a cookbook, I do get inspired by the creativeness of people in different cultures using simple ingredients to create delicious food. It’s something I’ve done since I was a child. I think my French basque country cakes cookbook has to be my favourite (and yeah, I don’t know French).
What does “to be” mean to you?
I used to think “to be” meant to accept what came my way as my path and I let life guide me, but that led me into things I didn’t really love. So, at the ripe age of 40, “to be” means to persist to work for who I really want to be, not what others tell me I should be.
How do you spend your time when you are procrastinating?
I am thankful that I live in a place where my procrastination involves going for a walk and swim at the beach, building sandcastles with my son and looking at trees. Or I travel. I’m basically a pitiful procrastinator.
Ideal READING LIST – books, websites, blogs, podcasts, magazines, etc. that you would want on your Swiss Family Robinson deserted island?
I’m one of these people that throws books out once I’ve read them, except for ones that make a lasting impact on me. Here are readings that I can’t ever throw away…
- Any of my cookbooks by Jamie Oliver. I know, it seems so cliche, but I really do have a lot of time for what he has done to bring healthy food & education to many many people. Respect Jamie.
- Not on the Label by Felicity Lawrence. A hard core book on food security and the real price of cheap food. It’s enough to make you question in entirety where your food really comes from, from chicken to salad. And it’s the book that got me ‘angry’ enough to kick start an organic food co-operative with some friends.
- Mind Mapping by Tony Buzon. It’s just one of those books that redefined the way I organized my thoughts into stuff I could work with. I realised I don’t think linearly!! I just re-read it before I started university again, and it’s helped so much.
- My copies of YOKE magazine. Not a book but a fantastic collection of art, photography and articles about people who are using creativity to create conscious change on our planet. I love that it’s independent and that it’s a Sydney-born publication.
- Freakonomics by Steven Levitt. He is a bloody genius, and it brings the nerd out in me.
- The movie Swimming Pool by Francois Ozon. Again, not a book but I can watch it over and over again (which hardly ever happens with me). It had me hooked from the first time I saw it (maybe I was just jealous I didn’t have a swimming pool and French farm house like in the film). Charlotte Rampling, what an actress.
- The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff. Winnie the Pooh retold in the spirit of Taoism and finding happiness. When a good friend gives you a book like that you know they are a great person.
- Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin. One of those love books that made me think about the ‘characters’ in my life, how great a community can be and to travel (especially to San Francisco). Such a great story.
- As many Mr. Men books as I can fit in my duffle bag. My son Leonardo thinks Mr. Bump is particularly hilarious. And I think in this strange way they teach us to accept the idiosyncrasies and uniqueness of all humans, from Mr. Muddle, to Little Miss Sunshine.
Favorite song with “be” in the title?
What a great question. There’s no doubt for me…Be Thankful for What You’ve Got by Massive Attack.
And I am truly thankful, especially for the opportunity to speak about my journey 🙂
LINKS & RESOURCES…
- Bondi Food Collective
- Postcard Treats (Bridgette’s Blog)
- Bridgette’s LinkedIn profile
- Bondi Beach, Australia
- Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
- Yoke Magazine
- Cynthia Sciberras
- The Yoga Farm
Images via Bridgette Di Ferdinando