Sunday, February 25, 2018

An Olympic Dialogue: Perfection or Practice

As I was channel surfing this week, I settled on the Olympic coverage of the women's figure skating short program.  It was amazing to watch these skilled athletes performing routines that had been developed over many months and years.  The grace and beauty... when the program unfolded as planned; the disappointment... when the routine was interrupted by a fall or misstep; and the thrill of being entertained by individuals who were willing to share their talents!

What I noticed in the commentary and replays were the focus on The Fall... The Disappointment... The Mistake...  being lowered in the rankings and possibly the loss of an expected medal.   Interviewing those athletes who had difficulty in their program, the questions tended to focus on the unexpected.  In contrast, the athlete talked about The Learning Gained in the midst of these seemingly imperfect moments.

Olympic Dialogue:  Seeking Perfection

Russia's Alina Zagitova - PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games
(Photo Credit:  New York Times)
I wondered...
  • How often do I seek perfection in my relationships and communication?
  • When do I over-replay those moments when I or a friend fell short?
  • Do I learn from moments of imperfection?
  • Can I be content that I have tried?

Consider the following: 
  • The leader of this Olympic event scored 82.92, a Short Program record. 
  • Outfielder Ty Cobb, whose career ended in 1928, still holds the highest batting average in Major League Baseball:  .366 over 24 seasons. 
  • The 2016 Golden State Warriors had the winningest professional basketball season:  73 - 9 (.890). 
  • Only one NFL team has played a complete perfect season (regular season and playoffs):  the 1972 Miami Dolphins who won all 14 games and 3 postseason games, including the Super Bowl (17 - 0 - 0). 
We are faced with an intriguing question:  is perfection necessarily a result -- a score -- or are we invited into a quest -- a journey -- to understand imperfection?

Olympic Dialogue:  Reality Hits

Click on comic to enlarge
(Pickles, Brian Crane, January 10, 2018)
When we review our relationships:  Do we expect perfection... from ourselves?  ...from others?  Maybe the reality is that we don't always hear or understand.  Maybe we are doing our best.  Maybe we need to practice more.  And, like the athletes, maybe we can refocus our response by observing the Lessons Learned.

The dialogue journey encourages that:  we practice our dialogue skills; we take risks by trying; and we learn from those moments when we hit a bump in the ice.

Olympic Dialogue:  Each Day Provides New Discoveries
(Photo Credit:  Jerry Singleton)

The Olympic moments in our lives requires an acceptance that perfection may be an illusion.  The practice, the attempt, and the learning are the goals.  Each day provides opportunities to recognize anew those lessons from yesterday and to strive... not for perfection, but for understanding and learning.

As the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics recede into memory, may we remember the coming together of athletes who risked moments of learning.  We were privileged to witness all of their triumphs!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, February 18, 2018

In Memoriam: Voices We No Longer Hear

Memory is a blessing... and sometimes a curse!

This week I was remembering Jerry, a friend and mentor, who died suddenly and unexpectedly several years ago.  A man of many talents and interests, he explored and challenged life, loved his family immensely, had several interesting careers, and offered help to people who sought his guidance.

As I moved from one career to another, Jerry cheered me on when I was nervous and unsure.

The blessing: having someone who believes in you and encourages you.

Alone:  Cautiously Listening
(Photo credit:  Jerry Singleton)
I have discovered the importance of standing with loved ones, work colleagues, and acquaintances.  Smiling, offering kind words, listening... these are skills that each of us can develop.  The practices of listening and dialoguing with openness nurtures us when the frigid blasts of discontent and dissatisfaction interrupts our relationships.

Jerry had a tender heart.  When he and Susan retired to Wyoming, Jerry welcomed his "breakfast club,"  his newly discovered animal friends, by supporting them when food was scarce.  He understood and respected their wild nature, but he did not stand by and do nothing when they were starving.

The blessing:  remembering those who model active involvement in life.

Standing Together:  Support and Protection
(Photo credit:  Jerry Singleton)
As I engage with a country disrupted by another mass shooting, I wonder...
  • When have I stood with and supported people who are lonely and cautiously listening?
  • When have I stood by and allowed misunderstanding and pain to continue?
  • When have I offered encouragement, support and protection to each person encountered... loved ones who have accepted me as well as others whom I may consider wild and untamed?
The curse of memory:  times when I hold onto past differences, manufacture conclusions, and make decisions that keep us alone and apart.

Tranquility:  Mirroring Beauty
(Photo credit:  Jerry Singleton)
The beauty of dialogue isn't that we mirror one another.  As we slow down, listen, ask questions that clarify, and make observations that may challenge, we begin to construct a scene where all voices have been heard.  Peace comes not when we agree, but when we allow all aspects of the truth to unfold and exist together.  We become surrounded by different elements of the overall landscape... mirroring the beauty of all... together!

May we pray for those who have lost loved ones.  May we reach out... not to speak, but to listen.  May we remember those who have spoken truth to us.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, February 11, 2018

What We Believe: Vintage or Current?

Technology!  Some days I love the advances made; other times I become frustrated!  I'd love to move to a deserted island with no "modern conveniences" which were meant to "make life easier!"

One of the results of our modern world is that we are required to update periodically in order to keep up.  Over the last month I replaced my Smart Phone, computer, and all of the apps and software for each device.  I found out that my earlier models were defined as "vintage" (aka, out-of-date = old).

I made two disparate decisions while moving forward:
  • Smart Phone:  use the vintage phone's back-up to restore the features I was used to.
  • Computer:  rather than use the back-up, I became judicious - manually cleaning out dated files and transferring only what was current.

As I moved from reacting to the inconvenience of the moment to broader decisions of how to move forward, I reflected on the broader process of how I choose what I believe.

What do I believe... when the world seems dark
With my electronic decisions, I realized that I had several choices:
  • Did I want to pursue the fastest approach:  replacing the devices and reloading the same information -- OR -- Could I slow down and respond in a more thought-filled way?
  • Is this the time to replace not only the device, but rethink how I use that device, cleaning out old and unused information -- AND -- Was I willing to come to different conclusions based on diverse needs and outcomes?
Another thought kept cycling through my rather vintage mind:  when I encounter unexpected moments in my life, do I put off decisions that might simplify moving forward?

What do I believe... when I am preoccupied
Note:  Click on image to expand
(Baby Blues, Rick Kirkman and Jerry Scott, January 25, 2018)
As I reviewed my computer files and emails of 8 years, I discovered that my spirit was lightened when I deleted older records of.... projects long completed; emails filed and forgotten; hopes and expectations not realized; hurts and disappointments buried in my digital storage.  Though these items may have been lost in the electronic storage, I found that my vintage mind recalled so much more... and very quickly!

I gave myself permission to rethink words and photos:  which to delete; which to keep; and which to ponder for another day.  Even though this approach seemed time consuming at the beginning, the practice of deciding when to Hold-On-and-Let-Go refocused my energy.  

Maybe it was time to uncover what had been hidden:  to release the past that was eclipsing my present.

What do I believe... when the Light is revealed
(Super Blue Blood Moon 2018)

Holding On and Letting Go:  choices and practices which lighten the Burden Carried as we encounter peoples, places, cultures and beliefs, that may be hidden, unknown, or blind spots in our experiences and memories.

Questions to consider this week:
  • What unexpected or dark moments have you encountered recently?
  • How might you slow down your first reactions and seek new responses and choices?
  • In what ways can you choose the stories you want to hold onto or let go?

May this week allow moments where vintage burdens may be lightened through new discoveries... eclipsing previous behaviors!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Luminaries: Inspiration Being Revealed

The celestial bodies have been very revealing these past six months:  a total Solar Eclipse over the United States (August 21, 2017) and the Super Blue Blood Moon (January 31, 2018).  We have witnessed uncommon events -- which occur naturally -- but not always in our lifetime.

What I found interesting about these recent sightings were:  the alignment of the event with time, and the people who noticed and were moved to be present.

Luminaries:  inspiring a Nation of Immigrants
Super Blue Blood Moon 2018

(Image from: USA Today, January 31, 2018)

Our lives become illuminated by the luminaries when we seek paths of inspiration.  In moments of openness and curiosity, we become aware of the continuity of events within time and to the people who are present... yesterday, today, and tomorrow:  in essence, the phases of Who-We-Were; Who-We-Are; and Who-We-Are-Becoming.

  • Illuminate:  to brighten; to lighten; to make clear; to decorate in order to celebrate.
  • Luminary:  a celestial body; an object that gives light; a person who has attained eminence in her or his field, or is an inspiration to others.

Luminaries:  seeking a clear path
Full Moon - January 1, 2018
When I practice the dialogue skills, I become aware that I have experienced aligned moments in time: 
  • Can I listen to you with an open mind and heart... right now?
  • Am I willing to ask questions and seek understanding... about our past?
  • Do I acknowledge that you may have a different path... for your future?

Luminaries:  lighting up our world
(Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico)
To move from the darkness of dysfunction, confusion, and despair, it is imperative that we ask ourselves the following questions:
  • When do I illuminate another person's life, by lightening their burdens or clearing away misunderstanding?
  • How have I celebrated another person's achievements, even when it means I am outshone?
  • Can I become one of the luminaries who inspires others to give light to the past and present, seeking a brighter future with improved understanding?

This week, may we bring light to moments of darkness and mistrust!  May we become the uncommon luminaries of our lifetime!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)