Sunday, May 28, 2017

In Memoriam: Sacredness of Life

Two lives, reaching out.  Two lives, assisting others.  Two lives, connected, cut short... too early.

The heroics of our World-in-Tragedy were on display in Portland this past week:  several people attempted to stop hate-filled language and actions targeted at innocent lives.  I have ridden on Portland's MAX light-rail system many times, never dreaming that my life would be in danger.  Many of MAX's rush hour commuters may have felt the same.  But Friday's incident, along with many others across the country in recent months, points to the fragile balance of our lives: how we must trust one another in order to remain safe.

Life is delicate, like dewdrops on a bud unfolding

It is as if a modern version of Pandora's Box is being played out in our time: when I pull back and fear others, I allow the evils of the world to consume me; when we pull together, reach out and assist, we are gifted and blessed by the heroics of good will.  In the self-focused state, like the Pandora myth, one gift remains in the box unnoticed... Hope.  When we notice and experience the Sacred Worth and Value of Self and Other, the Hope grows and blossoms!

As I reflect on my Past, I notice a range of happy and sad moments, each opening me to a lesson about Self and Other.  Stepping into today, I walk among those petals of yesterday's flowers, seeking to learn from what the Present now brings.  And moving into tomorrow, I see blossoms waiting to open... Hope!

It is as if we have an opportunity in the present to re-assemble the truths of the past and imagine what might lie ahead... with the hope that tomorrow can be better!  It is as if yesterday, today and tomorrow hang lightly... joined together by a delicate thread of Hope and Trust.  It is as if we each have a Choice... to live in Fear and Despair or in Hope and Trust.  It is as if Choice intersects and connects the Both-And of Past, Present, and Future.  We have the ability to change!

Life is a series of individual
-- but connected -- moments:
each flower opening in its own time

Recently, I noticed a bird feeder in my friend's garden:  two hands outstretched; two birds nestled together at where the hands come together.  In this period of heroic tragedy, I wonder if this feeder could represent a choice before us:  two hands (yours and mine), reaching out, assisting others, connected; two birds (us), not in flight but connected in trust and hope.  The birds seem ready to feed on what is being offered.

My hope this week is that we consider the following questions:
  • In what ways do I live in trust and hope?  How might I choose to strengthen these values?
  • Do the words I speak and the dialogue I practice bring us together?  How might I choose to live words of heroism?
  • Can I hold lightly the diversity I encounter?  How might I seek the gifts offered?

Life is the act of holding lightly,
past memories, present moments, and future dreams

Two lives (ours), reaching out.  Two lives (ours), assisting others.  Two lives (ours), lengthened by the sacredness that connects and strengthens us.

May we hold lightly and sacredly this Memorial Day, remembering everyone who has sacrificed their lives for us, heroes believing and working towards the Hope of a better day!

Larry Gardepie
Dialogue San Diego Consulting

Sunday, May 21, 2017

What Do You See? What Do You Imagine? (Part 3 of 3)

By assembling puzzles as a family (click here to read Part 1 of 'What Do You See? What Do You Imagine?') and working with a non-profit's management team (click here to read Part 2), I have come to realize how important it is to become aware of what I known and what I imagine.  In this process of noticing, I am challenged to distinguish between facts, observations and assumptions, and I am encouraged to lay out these pieces on the table... for everyone to see and share.  Once these pieces of Knowledge and Meaning have been identified and sorted, we are invited to work together:  asking questions; checking out what we know and assume; and assembling a picture much more expansive than any one perspective.

This practice of identifying and sharing facts, observations, and assumptions, plus the added dimension of asking questions for clarity and understanding, will create a still deeper awareness that,
  • Currently, some pieces may be absent; and,
  • For some time in the future, the full picture may remain unknown.  

Thus, accepting both Absence and Fullness invites us to transition from a Problem-solving Mindset (reaching a goal; looking for what is missing; moving toward a finished product) to an outlook of Presence and Journey (how we live and work together; how our individual pieces create a whole; how we respond when we find ourselves caught between absence and fullness).

How might we shift from completing the final scene...
toward the discovery of the missing pieces' importance?
(A portion of a Thomas Kinkade puzzle)

After the five management team members assembled their individual sections (sky and treetops; a country house and trees; several village houses; a Celtic cross, a portion of a stone bridge, and water; a path leading to a another portion of the bridge), there was still a Hole in the picture: the picture was not Whole.

As the facilitator, I held back several pieces of the puzzle.  I wanted to see whether the team could imagine the final outcome without these few pieces.  By this point in the exercise, the management team could see the country village landscape, and a few assumed the missing pieces finished off the roof line of the village.  Accurate as this guess might have been, it was not complete.   The missing pieces formed the church's steeple - giving a specific meaning to that missing roof line.
What pieces are missing in your Life Puzzle?
The answer may be different for each of us!
(A portion of a Thomas Kinkade puzzle)

I was not making a point about church or religion.  I could have held back any four pieces to demonstrate: any one of us may consciously or subconsciously hold back information that could change the overall tenor or meaning of a discussion or decision.  The pieces in our possession may be as important as changing the meaning of a word:  adding W to hole changes the word to Whole... a new word, a whole new meaning!

I wonder... do you think that we can individually... and collectively... slow down, and ask:
  • What am I missing?  What are you missing?  What are we missing together?
  • What do I have?  What do you have?  What do we have together?
  • What have I not shared?  What have you not shared?  What have we been unable to share together? 

It isn't until all pieces are shared and assembled
that we see clearly the landscape before us...
and the journey of how we got there!
(A Thomas Kinkade puzzle)

The answers to these questions may suggest that:
  • Each person is important.
  • What each person thinks, feels, and contributes is important.
  • How we listen to and understand the facts, observations, and assumptions will affect the Absence and Fullness of any outcome. 

Thus, I would suggest, that we have a responsibility to engage in this journey of Discovery, sharing when we can the knowledge and understanding about this beautiful world we cohabit... together!

May this week allow times to discover absent pieces, bringing you and your loved ones to a Whole-y Life Puzzle!

Larry Gardepie
Dialogue San Diego Consulting


Sunday, May 14, 2017

What Do You See? What Do You Imagine? (Part 2 of 3)

[Click here to read Part 1 of 'What Do You See?  What Do You Imagine?'.]

Five members of a management team; five small envelopes, one for each person.  Over the course of several weeks, each team member was instructed to:
  • Assemble the contents of her/his envelope.
  • List what is known about the contents of the envelope.
  • Try to imagine what was missing.
  • And then meet in small groups to describe what was seen and imagined.

By the end of the few weeks, four of the team members had seen three of the five sections of a jigsaw puzzle, and one person had seen four of the five sections.  Up until we met as a training group, no one had seen the whole puzzle.  What do you think happened?

What do I see in this section of the puzzle?
(A portion of a Thomas Kinkade puzzle)
As we gathered together to talk about what was seen and imagined, it was mentioned several times that the full picture was not clear or forthcoming.  Yes, by sharing facts (what was known), observations (what was noticed or perceived), and assumptions (what was imagined or speculated), individuals could piece together possibilities...  but no one could accurately describe the final landscape.  Do you find that unusual?

Comparing this new section with the first picture,
Can you imagine what the whole picture reveals?
(A portion of a Thomas Kinkade puzzle)
Some of the facts, observations and assumptions shared were similar, but the majority of what was revealed was unique to one person.  Each section focused on a specific aspect of the overall puzzle:  one person had the sky and treetops; another person seemed to have a country house and trees; still another had several village houses; another, a Celtic cross, a portion of a stone bridge, and water; and one section showed a path leading to a another portion of a bridge.  Do you assume people see things as you do?

The picture is almost fully assembled:
Can you imagine the complete picture... with four pieces missing?
(A portion of a Thomas Kinkade puzzle)

I know I go through the day assuming I see the whole picture: I know what is Right or Wrong by accepting fragments of a news report (no matter what source I read or view); I readily advise people based only on their side of the story...  The list goes on and on!  It is as if my observations and assumptions become facts, and I act -- or react -- on portions of reality!  I choose to move forward based on my personal section of the truth.  And, sadly, I miss the pieces of truth that you are gently holding onto, not even realizing there is a hole in my perceptions.  Our puzzle is incomplete.

Just imagine what life would be like if we relied on each other to share facts, observations and assumptions... in a manner that invited questions to be asked:
  • How do you see this situation?
  • What has been your experience?
  • Why is this important to you?

If we could sift through and agree upon what is known and ask questions to help us understand what was noticed, perceived and speculated, maybe we could imagine a future picture that includes all of what is viewed and experienced.  Together, we could assemble our individual sections and begin to experience a much larger Truth.  What are your thoughts?

May this week present all of us opportunities to see and imagine a picture that includes all pieces of Life's Puzzle!

Larry Gardepie
Dialogue San Diego Consulting

Sunday, May 7, 2017

What Do You See? What Do You Imagine? (Part 1 of 3)

My family owned dozens of jigsaw puzzles over the years.  With six children to keep occupied, my parents would assist the younger kids, and offer the older children more challenging ways on how to assemble the puzzles.  Most of the time we would begin with the straight edges - to provide an initial dimension for the finished puzzle.  Sometimes my parents would suggest that we not look at the picture on the box and assemble like-colored sections first.  We would then connect the completed sections and add the straight edges at the end.  The most challenging proposal came from Dad:  to turn the puzzle pieces upside down (picture down), thus seeing only the cardboard backing.  Completing the puzzle this way required that we focus only on the shapes of the pieces; no other clues could help us.

I believe working together on a puzzle helped us develop analytical skills as well as support our emerging socialization skills:
  • How to be patient... and get along.
  • How to assign areas of the puzzle... and know each was trying their best.
  • How to see a different perspective... and trust another person.
What do you see? 
 Sky?  Clouds?  Maybe treetops? 
(A portion of a Thomas Kinkade puzzle)
'Dad's Challenge,' though, seemed to test all of these budding skills: How do you delegate a portion of the puzzle when you can't see colors and patterns? How do you trust another person's work when both of you need a similar shaped piece?  How do you accept another perspective when only focused on facts determined by shape and not color?

Was Dad, so many years ago, foreseeing the complexity of this fast-paced, modern world by helping us observe and analyze in a different way: Tell me what you see.  What are you thinking and imagining?

Or, was this merely a cost-saving method of keeping us occupied?  Completing a familiar puzzle by changing the way to assemble it with a fresh beginning and outlook.  It beat buying more puzzles to keep us occupied!

What picture is emerging or can be imagined?
Sky? Clouds? Treetops? Houses?
(A portion of a Thomas Kinkade puzzle)
Dialogue, in a similar fashion, invites us to describe what we see (facts and observations) and test what we imagine might be the outcome (assumptions and meaning).  I believe a learned skill in Dialogue is to see what is behind the completed or imagined scene - to ask questions:

  • What do I see?  The facts or observations as I understand them.
  • What do I imagine?  The assumptions and meanings I create.
  • What do I not see or imagine?  The questions that can check out the facts, observations, assumptions, and meanings assigned.

What did I not see or imagine earlier?
A bridge?  A stream?  A path?  Grass?  Flowers? 
(A portion of a Thomas Kinkade puzzle)

Jigsaw puzzles have always fascinated me!  Putting together one piece at a time, a new picture continuously emerges.  And just think: one idea or thought shared may change the perspective of how we all see the world!

Questions to consider this week:
  • What facts or observations have you assembled about a loved one, friend, or colleague?
  • What assumptions have you created or meanings assigned to their intentions?
  • Can you accept that the full picture is incomplete... of who they are becoming?

May individual pieces of your Life Puzzle begin to come together this week as you imagine new possibilities!

Larry Gardepie
Dialogue San Diego Consulting