Sunday, October 30, 2016

This Day, I Choose To...

Time is an interesting tool when observing changes we cannot readily see each day!

Several years ago:  I co-facilitated an 8-week breakfast seminar series entitled, Business Leaders and Spirituality.  The first session presented ways to identify and live out values important to us.  The challenge: how to make daily decisions through the lens of these values.

Recently: I came across what I wrote down, the values important to me at that time in my lifeFor me, those values centered on the word, CHOICE.

Now... years later... I am reflecting on how well I embodied those values:
  • Which values proved to be the most important?
  • Which defined who I am currently?
  • Which have been the most challenging?
And, most significantly:  how often did I remember that I had a choice?

I choose to... see another perspective.
 From a Hallmark Card  (Artist: Dan Regan):
"A bad day is all about perspective"
One year agoI finished a two-year study program on Contemplative Dialogue, AND... I began this Dialogue San Diego blog(Happy Anniversary!)   The blog has been an attempt at continued study, reflection, and practice on how to incorporate the various dialogue skills.

Now:  I wonder, when we slow down and consider various stages of our lives, do we see common threads or patterns shaping who we are becoming?  Are we aware of these moments as they happen or only in hindsight?  (I'd invite your thoughts and comments:  what do you think?)

I choose to... create, to get my hands dirty.

Each of us has been molded through different familial and communal events, education, work, and life experiences.  We have been touched by others.  We have touched others.  We have shaped one another.  I hope, we have impacted one another positively; but I admit, I have made mistakes and may have hurt or misunderstood the people around me.

The questions I am facing these confusing and complex days:
  • How open am I to another perspective and experience?
  • What do I do with my embarrassment or shame when I realize I have hurt you?
  • Am I willing to place my puzzle piece on the table for the shared value of discovering a different reality with you?  With us?
I choose to... contribute to the Common Good.
(Entrepreneurial Ambitions, June 7, 2012)

These questions have become more troubling for me in the wake of the current political environment:
  • Looking backour nation has experienced years of polarized views which have separated us.
  • Reflecting recentlyour current climate of distrust and accusations is toxic and seems unending.
  • And now:  a question.... Do we really want to move forward with this increasingly deadly environment? 

I am reminded of Aibileen Clark (Viola Davis) in the movie, The Help: "Ain't you tired, Ms. Hilly?  Ain't you tired?"  Aren't we all tired?

So, I wonder (and I would like to hear your thoughts):  I believe there is a hidden thread, a lifeline, that we can draw on from our past:  I have a Choice - AND - We have a Choice.  

That is,
  • Can I come together with you to Dialogue on what is important... for You... for Me... for Us?
  • Can I place my Peace on the table, inviting you to do the same... and listening? 
  • Can I trust in the common-truth and common-unity (Community) that will shape a better world?
And, maybe more importantly:
  • Am I ready to see the beauty in who you are: a Citizen, a Candidate, an Immigrant, an Undocumented, a World Citizen... a Person of Sacred Worth and Value?

I choose to... see the beauty around me.
(Photographer: Dan Bush, Elam Bend, Missouri)

May this Healing Choice be with us this week and the weeks ahead!

Larry Gardepie

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Passwords, Security, Uncertainty, and Change

Don't you just love Monday mornings?!  A new week is dawning!  A week of possibilities!  You get to your work space or begin your tasks and errands, possibly with a degree of hope and positive energy for the week ahead... and then something unexpected happens!  There goes the hope and energy as you pick up the pieces and settle into another day.

That's how my workweek began last week... and how it ended on Friday!  A bookend of frustrating situations and, perceived, wasted timeDifferent computer applications needed attention as I searched for possible issues and solutions, entered new strong passwords, and restarted the various devices.

How do I protect myself from
being misunderstood by others?
 (Image from PCWorld)
When I considered the reliance on passwords to keep our systems secure... or my expectation that life would be smooth... or the uncertainty and frustration that occurs when I face immediate change, I wondered if this might be another opportunity to practice dialogue skills! 

For instance, when I slow down and notice my reactions to an unanticipated moment of change, do I rely on past words, meanings and attitudes for the solution?  Or, I wondered, am I open to the possibility that another outcome might present itself if I listen and respond differently?

It is as if the practice of Noticing and Mindfulness presents new key words and actions to break through barriers... within Self, and between Self and Other.  And, it is in the wonder of anticipation and practicing new responses where fun, exciting, and stronger Pass-Words (maybe, perceptions?) might emerge!
How might I see and respond differently
to barriers in my relationships?
 (Image from VetBiz Network)
Many I.T. professionals and online applications now recommend strong passwordsusing a memorable key phrase; replacing some letters with numbers; mingling in symbols and Capital letters.  Dialogue helps us to realize that D1sc0v3ry c@n b3 fUn!   New key words that suggest new perceptions and actions.

It is as if our approach to the issue or barrier begins to change when we seek out new words and phrases.  We want to pass through past misunderstandings and to seek an ability to unlock opportunities.

Are we aware of signs that prepare us for the change ahead?
(Image from LifeHack)
I guess if I entered each week, day, and encounter expecting that change might occur, maybe I could look ahead to creative moments where I discover who I am, who you are, and who we might become together!

Questions to consider this week:
  • What are some of my Pass-Words and Actions that protect me?
  • What do I expect:  Of myself?  Of others?
  • Do these words, actions, or expectations create barriers between myself and others?

May the Blessed Uncertainty of this week present us with life-giving moments!

Larry Gardepie

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Meaning of Life: I am not sure what you mean?

Have you ever had a conversation with someone where you thought you were clear about what you said, but then things went in unexpected directions?  Did it seem like there were two completely different conversations taking place?

I don't know about you, but these encounters seem to be more common in this very complex and ever-changing world!  The political discourse over these past few months (and years!) seems to be ripe with these examples

It reminds me of moments in my life where I was just trying to understand the Meaning of Meaning!

Whose rules do you play by?
(Click on image for a larger view)
(Baby Blues, by Rick Kirkman and Jerry Scott, October 8, 2016)
As a baby and toddler, I mimicked adults in their actions and words, attaching my own limited understanding to what happened.  After all, what did I learn when I cried and got attention or received what I needed?  I lived off that understanding for years!

Growing older, I learned the power of curiosityI began to use the infamous question, "Why?" and I wasn't happy with the predictably weary answer, "Because."  In my own way, I was seeking meaning.  Then, I learned how to read, spell, and comprehend.  Through Spelling Bees, I learned how to compare myself to others.  Through classroom and schoolyard competition, I began to see where I ranked with others: better or worse; gifted or average; special or ordinary.  Meaning was added to relationships:  best friend, friend, acquaintance, adversary, or bully.  Conclusions could be derived from those relationships:  trusted, loyal, and dependable; cautious, unfaithful, and irresponsible.  In some situations, a Cone of Shame was placed unceremoniously on Self or Other, whether privately or in public, as Meaning was attached to the outcome of growing up and experiencing life.

Do you feel you are surrounded by a 'Cone of Shame'?

As I matured through adolescence to adulthood, I slowly realized that some of the lessons I have learned and the meanings I have adhered to were not the same ones experienced by others.  It was as if my conal worldview has limited me with insulated horizons.  In fact, if we engaged in meaning-filled conversations, we may learn that we have been looking at life in different directions!

Sometimes... we actually do see life differently!
Through the gift of dialogue studies and being older and 'more mature,' I am reflecting again on the Meaning of Meaning: what is intended to be or actually is; the end, purpose or significance.

There is:
  • A benefit when others have experiences differing from mine.
  • A blessing when opposing views expand the meaning of life.
  • Worth and value in diversity of expression and understanding.
Dialogue practices encourage us to Hold Lightly, to see worth and value.  Therefore, I wonder if:
  • We take life too seriously as we seek out individual and collective meaning; and
  • We need shared humor when realizing we may have been looking in opposite directions!
After all, how funny is that!  We thought there was a conflict, became indignant and angry... and then found out that we both missed the sunset since we were preoccupied with our own views!  Or, we thought we were seeing and experiencing the same event, but realized we had our backs turned away from one another.  Maybe our Individual Cones have limited what we can see and imagine collectivelyStrangely funny!
Sometimes... we may need to see the humor in a situation!

Even our Cones of Shame may be sadly humorous: we have carried them through childhood and young adulthood, adding "happy faces" that belie what is happening within.  Maybe the lesson for this week is to remove our Cones and reclaim our earlier sense of discovery, the wonderment of asking "Why?"... and listening expectantly for the Gift of Meaning. And when others answer from their own experience, "Because," maybe that is enough.  No shame.  No hurt.  Beautifully-diverse views that are valid and true.

To consider this week:
  • Reflect on examples of childhood discovery and your search for Meaning.
  • Reflect on moments where you experienced a Cone of Shame.
  • How might you remove this Cone and regain your sense of discovery? 
  • In what ways can you listen to and accept another person's view?

May we search for renewed meaning in life, and may you experience friendly, charitable humor when you are surprised!
Larry Gardepie