Sunday, April 29, 2018

Adding Meaning: What We Want to See and Hear

Each of us filters what we see and hear through our lived experiences: lessons from family, culture, education, work, and so many other sources.  Whether we actively pursue knowledge or wisdom, we continuously absorb information, add meaning to what we have observed, and adapt.

As I stand in line at the grocery store, I observe the people ahead of me.  I notice what they are purchasing… and I unconsciously make up stories - add meaning - about who they are.

I wonder:  how much of My Story is real?

Adding Meaning:  what motivates you?
(Pickles,  by Brian Crane:  January 11, 2018)

Surfacing these Created Stories and checking them against Reality is imperative today.  

One solution is to label another person’s reality as untrue.  Don’t we all do this in one form or another?  After all, think times when:
  • You know what another person will say or do.
  • You don't want to meet with another person due to differences.
  • There are times when "we agree to disagree.”

Our individual stories, assumptions, and conclusions come up against another person's stories every day.... and we have a decision:  will I hold onto my story or will I try to understand these other stories?

It seems that knowledge and wisdom is reached when we open ourselves to what is being revealed:
  • Have I questioned my assumptions and conclusions?
  • Am I willing to ask questions and try to understand what the other person believes?
  • Is there a way to explore what was intended?
  • Can I move away from defending My Story to embracing something new?

This does not mean that one story is invalid or has to be forgotten.  Instead, the question is:  can we move to a point where both stories can be held as valid and true?

Adding Meaning: one piece at a time

What I have been discovering in this Life’s Journey is that there always seems to be a missing piece in what I have seen, heard, and understood.  It is as if the Lesson Learned at one moment in my life — my truth — is but a glimmer of a Truth that I am just beginning to understand as I grow older.  A new facet of this valuable gem is sparkling before me!

Once I let down my defensiveness, I begin to see and hear a different story: the motivation behind a friend’s actions; the intensions of goodness; the unconscious reactions or the considered responses.

In moments when I open myself, I sense an imagined Lightbulb above my head go on:  I become illuminated and the situation is transformed.

Adding Meaning:  moments of illumination

We have a choice this week to remain hooked to our individual stories… or… we can collectively decide to go beyond the surface levels of reality.  We can accept the invitation to become Explorers of Truth... to see more!  What do you think?

May this week provide opportunities that will illuminate a more expansive view of the Reality and Truth which surrounds us!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Our World: Piecing Together Peace

Each year at the end of April we are reminded of the impact we have on our planet... and our responsibility for its care and stewardship.  (For information on Earth Day 2018, click here.). 

For me, this celebration goes beyond this one day.  What seems to be called into question -- or a broader focus of Earth Day -- is the measure by which we are: 
  • Aware of other people and our planet;
  • Sensitive to our interconnectedness.

What do you notice happening in our world today?  Are we coming together and developing solutions to the issues confronting us?

Our World:  Coming Together or Unraveling?
(Photo Credit:  The Ivancic Superheroes)

It seems that many of our current issues are complex and polarized.  Rather than look for simple Yes-No, Right-Wrong, Majority-Minority solutions, maybe it is time to realize that each person, town, city, state, and country has a piece of the overall puzzle.  And, rather than work towards a stalemate where no solution is achieved, maybe it is time to seek out a a different strategy.

By inviting more people to the table and through listening and dialogue, we can unlock our containment and escape this dualistic approach toward problem solving.

Acknowledging that each person has a role and a responsibility in the solution is one step forward.  Listening to and respecting another opinion opens possibilities not previously considered.  Puzzling together smaller pieces will build towards a more complete Truth not envisioned or understood previously.

Our World:  Together We Have an Answer
(Photo Credit:  Getty Images)

Earth Day opens us to the possibility of seeing and experiencing a brighter future.  Solutions no longer rely on one person or country.  Resources jointly shared allow everyone to succeed.

The cycles of every day -- night and day, life and death, oneness and togetherness -- remind us of our ability to Hope:  we can overcome division and the unraveling created by humanity when we experience all of the cycles... together.

Our World: Light Overcomes Darkness
(Photo Credit:  Evening Standard, NASA image)

Questions to consider:
  • How do I protect and sustain life in my home, neighborhood, and city?
  • What answers am I seeking in relation to family, friends, and colleagues?
  • How can I listen more openly to another person's experiences and opinions?

May this week provide moments where the pieces of Peace begin to come together in your life!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Movement: Ropes that Bind

Have you ever watched people clean the outside windows of a tall building?  It is an amazing feat!

Recently, I spent time at the corporate offices in downtown Portland.  It was a cold, cloudy week.  My team had a series of meetings in a conference room on the 17th floor that looked out over a section of the downtown skyline.  My chair faced the windows, so during breaks in the meetings I would gaze out and think about how different this work life is from my home office.

One day a team of window cleaners rappelled into view on the building across from us.  I watched as they quickly cleaned a section and then rappelled down to the next floor.  I was fascinated by the teamwork and communication as they worked together and then moved individually down.

Movement:  Staying In Sync

My mind came back to the meeting, wondering about the interconnectedness of my design team:
  • We are individuals:  bringing our individual strengths, ideas, perceptions, and biases. 
  • We are called to work as a team:  listening, coordinating, accepting, and allowing other ideas to emerge.
Sometimes it is a balancing act to respect both the contributions of the individual and the team!

Movement: Trusting at Different Levels

Back to the window cleaners:  each member of the team had ropes that secured each individual, keeping them from falling.  The team’s training and coordination assured that all window sections were addressed.  In a sense, their coordination and training served as an invisible rope that bound them together.  Both the physical rope and the invisible rope needed to be maintained.

Movement:  Seeing the Whole Picture
Whether we live and work as individuals or as a group with a common cause, our humanity binds us together.  Sometimes it is important to pull back and look at a wider perspective.  Through listening and dialogue, we can communicate this larger picture.

In this diverse and ever-changing world, it is imperative that we consider the following questions:
  • How might I invite others to understand my individuality?
  • Whose responsibility is it to encourage our interconnectedness?
  • When do I create a safe environment to explore and support the invisible ropes that bind us together?

The task of maintaining the ropes that bind us may seem daunting at times, but what better way to respect the other person than getting out on the ledge and rappelling into the unknown together?!

Back to the window cleaners:  soon after the window cleaners reached the ground… it began to rain!  Life is like that:  we must continually maintain what connects us... and be prepared to redo what we thought was finished!

May we learn to clean the windows that we see through -- opening new vistas and no longer limited by the dirt and grime of our perceptions and conclusions!

Larry Gardepie

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Movement: Time for a Clear Out

Have you noticed words or phrases that sound familiar but may be used differently while watching TV shows or movies produced by other countriesThe familiarity and differences seem to balance a sense of uniqueness with being “at home” -  a newness that brings comfort and safety.

One British phrase that catches my attention is “Clear Out.”  Depending on how it is used, it doesn’t necessarily mean "Get out of my way!"  Instead, having a clear out would mean that a person is cleaning up, rearranging, giving or throwing away objects no longer needed.  It would be similar to our use of “Spring Cleaning.”

There are times in our lives when it is important to notice what is cluttering our lives.  After I clear out things in my house, I feel like my life has become simpler… there is less to hold me down.

Movement:  from clutter to simplicity

As we move from the cold, wintry months into a new season, maybe it is time to “Spring Clean Our Lives” — to clear out thoughts and opinions that have frozen our perceptions of others.  We might move from being removed and distant to learning more about a loved one, a friend, a colleague... or even a stranger.  Releasing tense moments may lighten how we move forward.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to transform an icy relationship  — where we have learned to be careful with what we say — into new moments of discovery and awareness?  It would be like the Spring growth we see around us:  new life springing up from the soil of our lives.

Movement:  from cold and distant

As a child, I recall that Mom would coordinate the spring cleaning in our house.  It seemed easier and more fun when there were others sharing in the process of opening cupboards and closets, taking out clothes no longer worn, washing the walls, mopping and waxing the floors… and even planting new flowers outside.  There was a common purpose and goal: to create a better living space for our family; to bring us together as we helped one another.

Other times, friends would be visiting that evening.   Our perceptive young minds would associate the cleaning with their visit.   As we were vacuuming, mopping, and putting away toys strewn around the house, we would ask:  “Who’s coming over?”   Many times, Mom would say, “This is for us!  Don’t you want to live in a clean house?”

Movement:  from darkness to light
I have noticed that there are times when it is difficult to clear out certain aspects of my life.  When this happens, I have found that asking for help lightens the load.  A path becomes clearer when someone else listens and sorts out what I have tossed around.  Becoming aware of my inner resistance and talking about it with another person encourages me to change.  The movement from darkness to light invites a new perspective of what holds me back.  Sharing the burden lightens the load and allows me to move forward.

Dialogue allows me to see and understand different aspects of a situation.  In a way, we are creating a better space to live in… for us… together!

Questions to consider:

  • What part of my life feels cluttered or over-stuffed with past hurts? 
  • How might I release some of these memories? 
  • In what ways can I unlock perceptions and conclusions that hold me back? 

Is it time to begin a clear out in your life?  Maybe today?  Need any help? 

Blessings to you!  May your burdens be lightened this week!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Transformation and Freedom: Noticing All Values through Dialogue

My mind continues to process events and images of the past several weeks:  school or officer shootings; strikes, walk-outs, demonstrations, and marches; diplomats expelled; missile tests... an overwhelming flow of stories, words, and competing values churning around us.

Like the ocean tides and shorelines, our lives are awash in stories, conflicts, opposing thoughts... and endless media coverage!  As a society, we are in constant motion... and, over time, we change and reveal who we are.  Just look at where you were and what you believed 5, 10, or 15 years ago!  Are you the same today?

Hidden among this week's stories:  Richard Phillips, a man wrongfully incarcerated for 45 years, is released from prison.  At 71 years old, more than half of his life has been behind bars -- locked up.  The difference in this story?  He is not bitter.  His lawyer describes Richard as "an incredibly warm and engaging person."  Richard views justice as a system of checks and balances... which takes time.

What values do you hold dear?

Another image:  during last week's March for Our Lives, a woman was holding a child and a sign, "Arms are for hugging."  A portrait of human contact, protection, and sharing an opinion.

Another story:  The words "Cold War" have resurfaced in this week's news.  Whether exploring global politics or individual relationships, I wonder... when have we left behind the "cold wars" in our lives?  That is, those times when our hearts and minds were... or have remained... bitter, hardened and frozen, not listening to or accepting another person or viewpoint.

Have you ever wondered what causes you to stay in relationship with some people but walk away from others?  As I reflected on this question, I was reminded of a saying spoken by my parents years ago:  "It takes two to tango *."

*  From the Cambridge Dictionary:  "Said when you want to emphasize that both people involved in a difficult situation must accept the blame, or that an activity needs two people who are willing to take part for it to happen."
When are you or your values frozen in place?
Moving forward from these images and stories:  recall times when you were not bitter... when you noticed an internal "checks and balance" where:
  • I could agree with a loved one, friend or colleague... and
  • I could disagree with that same person over an opinion, conclusion or value... and
  • I stayed in relationship with that person.

Hold onto that moment.  Explore it.  What has changed: In you?  In that person? In the world we now live in?  Have the and's been replaced with but, I could not?

How do you demonstrate your concern, care, and love?
As we move further into Springtime and the holy seasons that many religions celebrate at this time of year, we are reminded of Transformation, moving from one way of life to another.  And, just maybe with this transformation, there is an invitation to reflect on how to move forward:

  • What values are important to you?
  • Do you know what values are important to me?
  • How might we share our values with one another?
  • Can we listen -- without judgment -- as we freely explore our unfolding gift of relationship?

And, ultimately, through questions and dialogue, are we willing to allow all values to be respected and accepted?

Maybe, like Richard, it is time to become warm and engaging people:
  • Releasing ourselves from bitterness, fear, and anger;
  • Unlocking ourselves from years of Self- and Other-Incarceration; and,
  • Opening our arms to embrace.

Blessings, as we free one another from the prisons of our memories!  May we be willing to become warm and engaging people!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)