Sunday, February 26, 2017

Oblivious and Beyond: Am I Seen or Understood? Do I Seek to See and Understand?

Have you ever felt out of step with the world?  Forgotten?  Invisible?  Not valued?  I am sure many of us can relate to these feelings at some time in our lives!

Take for instance my invisible car.  There must be some reason why other drivers constantly pull out in front of my car or cut me off on the freeway:  the car must be invisible!

Or, maybe it is not the car... could it just be me?  That would explain why people bump into me without acknowledging that I was there or that we even had a mishap.  I am not seen or acknowledged!

Have you felt like you live on a different planet?
I experienced these moments recently on a trip.  Moments I now call Oblivious Moments times when one or more people live in Oblivion. 

Definition of Oblivion:
  • The state of being completely forgotten or unknown;
  • The state of forgetting or being oblivious.

Does the motion to get us through this frenetic and complex world require that we ignore or invalidate othersDo we become oblivious to our surroundings so we can focus only on our goals and tasks?  Is it our way of surviving each day?
Have you felt ignored?
I am concerned at two levelsit doesn't feel good to be invisible or forgotten, but I worry at how oblivious I might be to others!   Questions that I have been pondering this past week:
  • How do I contribute to Oblivious Moments?
  • Am I forgetting the sacredness that we each bring to our world?
  • How might I remember your value?
Paradise: finding someone to share and value
As I have felt invisible and forgotten this week, I recall that Dialogue is an Invitation to become Invaluable.  Through:
  • Awareness:  I notice my thoughts and feelings, and I seek to understand yours.
  • Compassion:  I carry lightly those times we have forgotten our value.
  • Interdependence:  I realize I need you... and I hope you need me as well.
  • Creative Freedom:  we seek ways to survive and thrive together.

This week, may we seek to see and to understand.  May we not forget the Invaluableness of who we are!

Larry Gardepie
 Dialogue San Diego Consulting

Sunday, February 19, 2017

When Your Day Doesn't Go As Planned

I am sure you've had days where it seems nothing goes quite like what you had planned or hoped for!  Well, let me tell you about one of my days... and what helped me survive!

Two days before leaving for an extended trip, I had mentally figured out what needed to get done and how much time it would take.  The steps were all do-able: the path was clear ahead.
The path looks clear, but...
One of the tasks was to stop by the pharmacy to pick up a prescription.  When I arrived, I discovered the pharmacist had not received the prescription from my doctor's office.  It was a Saturday!  I contacted the nurse on duty to explain the situation.  She took the relevant information, then she contacted the assigned weekend doctor.  He would not authorize the prescription without me going to Urgent Care to be seen by a doctor... even though I had been at my doctor's the previous day.

After driving to Urgent Care, signing in, waiting, being admitted to an exam room, waiting, explaining the situation to the doctor, going through the exam, and receiving the prescription, I was now back at the pharmacy... to find out the pharmacist was on a break for the next 30 minutesMore waiting!  Almost three hours after the initial errand to pick up the prescription, I had the medication in hand.  Nothing earth-shattering, but now it was time to pick up the pieces of shattered plans and less time to prepare for the upcoming trip.

Yes, I am sure you can match this story with several of your own!  But the real question for all of us isn't how to survive these detours, but how we might thrive in this ever-changing and complex world?  How do we practice dialogue by remaining in the stances (Contemplative Dialogue: contemplative noticing or mindfulness, nondefended learning, and nonviolence; Dynamic Dialogue: awareness, compassion, creative freedom, and interdependence)?

There are many options to redirect us...
I can assure you, at the beginning of this 3-hour journey, I was being challenged by anger, frustration, blame and a myriad of other thoughts and emotions.  It wasn't until I was driving to Urgent Care that I had time to slow down and reflect on the situation: the pharmacist's assistant who listened and did as much as she could to help; the nurse who listened and provided caring support; the doctor who rightfully did not prescribe medication without records of an earlier exam; and a dear friend who offered to pick up the travel preparations.
As we choose another path ahead.
I realized that I was the one having the problem.  Once I became aware of the blockage in myself, I was determined to approach the Urgent Care personnel with understanding and compassion.  Texting a loved one, taking lightly the situation, and being aware of the violence I had been causing in the pre-Urgent Care hour helped to realign my thoughts and actions.  And the day before I left town... everything was done... with time to spare... and with a thankful heart for the creative ways that others helped.  Maybe next time there is a slight detour, I might slow down earlier and realize how good life is!

Questions to ponder when we encounter the unexpected:
  • Am I focused only on my plans, thoughts, and actions?
  • Am I aware of the plans and needs of others?
  • Am I aware of how others may be  encountering similar detours and frustrations?
  • Am I willing to relax and take lightly the situation?
  • Am I willing to ask for help?  To give help?

Maybe this detour is the path we were meant to take, to meet new people, and to hear their stories! 

May the diversions from this week's planned activities provide unexpected opportunities and blessings!

Larry Gardepie
Dialogue San Diego Consulting

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Looking Inward, Outward, and Beyond

When I attended my first Dialogue workshop a few years ago, I was surprised by the gentleness of the three stances: contemplative noticing or mindfulness; non-defended learning; and nonviolence.  It was as if I had Come Home:  slowing down to listen inwardly to - and notice outwardly - the relationships that exist between myself, others, and the world.

It reminded me of vacations where I would set time aside to notice the faithfulness of the ocean waves, the expansiveness of distant horizons, and the time-honored stateliness of the redwood trees.  Each of these vacay moments created awarenesses of Oneness and  Interconnection:  each provided a sense of Freedom and Invitation to live life wholly: a holy life.

Where is your focus: Dark clouds?  The horizon?
Or the Oneness of the whole picture?
Because of the workshop, I now notice that when I base life solely on my assumptions, meanings and conclusions about others, my experience of the world darkens and becomes limited to my views and experiences.  As I practice the Dialogue Skills, I become appreciative that there are many opportunities for  calmness and patience, if I but seek them out by listening beyond my understanding.  (See Dialogue San Diego posting of January 29, 2017.) 

The Dialogue Skills invite us into a number of choices:
  • Do we want to be in conversation with others?
  • Do we want to check out differing conclusions and beliefs?
  • Do we want to seek a broader understanding of what others see and experience?
  • Do we desire to be in relationship?

Are we able to look beyond?
Do we desire calming moments of clarity?

The task ahead is putting into practice these choices of inclusion and nonviolence towards others as we face a challenge: how to ask a new set of questions that encompass inward, outward and beyond - looking at the whole picture:
  • What are you seeing or experiencing in the United States right now?
  • Is it what others are seeing and experiencing?
  • How might we move into relationship and dialogue?
  • What choices are we willing to make to listen and accept differing points of view? 

Seeing the beauty beyond

Would you agree that we have a choice to slow down and see the beauty at the horizon and beyond the horizon?  If so, maybe the invitation this week is to look:
  • Inward:  at the truths and values that you hold dearly.
  • Outward:  at the truths  and values that others hold dearly.
  • Beyond:  at conversations that honor the faithfulness of shared truths and values, provide expansive moments that broaden our horizons , and respect the stateliness of past and future growth... together! 

Blessings to you this week as you encounter the beauty of each new day.  May we seek calming moments of clarity!

Larry Gardepie
Dialogue San Diego Consulting

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Doors and Dialogue: Barriers or Sacred Thresholds?

Have you ever thought about how many phrases or idioms use the image of a door?  Here are a few, and I am sure you can add to this list!
  • Be at death's door.
  • Knocking on Heaven's door.
  • Get a foot in the door.
  • Don't let the door hit you on the way out.
  • You make a better door than a window. 
  • Behind closed doors. 
Take a minute and let the images come to mind: doors as barriers; wondering what is happening behind the door; or getting past closed doors.

Closed, colorful doors may still be seen as barriers
During a recent Dialogue Learning Group meeting, Darcy and Bob used the image of a door to talk about how we experience barriers and dialogue.  Just think of those times when a  relationship or conversation is blocked or stopped by misunderstanding, mistrust, or doubts.

Learning to distinguish between locks,
knockers, and handles
What would happen if we looked at the door differently, re-imagining the door not as a barrier but as an opportunity.  For instance, ponder the hardware that adorns many doors:  the lock, the knocker, and the handle.  Would our lives be any different if we saw these as distinct aspects of an invitation:
  • The Lock - as an invitation to respect the door and the contents behind it.
  • The Knocker - as an invitation to request entry.
  • The Handle - as an invitation to cross the sacred threshold of the life beyond the door.
Sacred thresholds: seeing opportunity
The gift of dialogue, I believe, is the ability to distinguish these different aspects of the door.  We are invited to move from seeing only a barrier to understanding the gift that each person brings to the conversation.

The Invitation and the Gift become the Sacred Threshold that the door protects and honors, the ability to welcome and be welcomed into an awareness of and compassion for the Other.  Dialogue allows the door to be opened freely and willingly.

Questions to consider this week:
  • What Doors am I experiencing right now?  How might I re-imagine them?
  • How might I respect and honor the Lock and the Gift behind the Door?
  • When might I use the Knocker to seek an invitation into another person's life?  Can I hear and acceptWait!  Not yet! ?
  • Am I aware of and respectful of the Sacred Thresholds as I pass through the Door and move beyond?

And, another door-related phrase to end this reflection:  Open Sesame, the magical phrase that opened the mouth of the cave in One Thousand and One Nights, to the treasures within!

May Doors, Dialogue and Sacred Thresholds open new treasures for you this week as you seek to understand and to be understood!

Larry Gardepie