Sunday, December 30, 2018

Memories, Reflections, and Hope

Time... The passage of Time... moments that cannot be reclaimed.  It is again time to listen... and to learn.

The end of another year prompts reflection for many of us.  And, the beginning of a new year promises new beginnings.  What have I learned?  What can I hope for?

Politically, this past year has been filled with controversy and continued division.  Professionally, my work team has transitioned and we are learning new roles.  Personally, I am calmer and more patient.

Why am I calm?  What am I learning about myself that I can — for the most part! — be patient in times of controversy, division, and change?
Reflections:  Stories Competing and Colliding
(Honolulu skyline at night)
As the pace of the world increases and more is required of us to stay relevant, I am finding that when I slow down and notice what is happening, I can pause... look at the options... and respond in a more holistic and creative way.

One tool that has helped me is the ability to ask questions.  I am learning that questions don’t necessarily lead a conversation to where I already have the answers, directing people to conclusions I have already made.  Rather, questions have helped me to:

  • Gather new information;
  • Check out assumptions I have made; and,
  • Cultivate an attitude of curiosity.

Reflections:  Stories Eclipsing Others
(Lunar eclipse 2018)
As I listen to other people and their experiences of and approach to life, a broader worldview is revealed.  Life may not be as myopic or one way (“my way).  The beliefs I have become accustomed to and held so dearly may not necessarily be in conflict with others.  Instead, they may be more similar than I first imagined.

I have found that another person’s values don’t necessarily eclipse my own.  Instead, by allowing seemingly competing values to coexist, I begin to see new light shining from what was previously a dark night, created by my own mind.

Reflections:  A New Year is Dawning

As a new day dawns, the time before us is pristine and unexplored.  Maybe we can set earlier divisions aside... slow down... ask questions... and allow hope to exist.  Maybe the once dualistic “Win-Lose” or “My Way or the Highway” mentalities can be transformed into questions posed like Max, the new medical director at the New Amsterdam hospital (a current TV series:
  • What can I do?
  • How can I help?
  • What do you need?
The choice for us each new year — and each day — is:  how do I want to live... divided and separated?... or united and whole?  The choice is ours, individually and collectively.

My hope is that our questions and experiences transform us into the people and world we want to become!

Blessings to you!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Reflections: Memories, Hope and Grace

I don't know about you, but this time of year is always so BUSY!  Work deadlines, buying and shipping Christmas gifts, sending out or responding to Christmas cards, baking, travel preparations... plus routine chores and bill paying!  It's a swirl of activity!

Colliding with this swirl are the memories of Years Past:  the Family of Childhood competing with the Family of Today; how Mom baked the ham or candied apples; the sharing of Christmas secrets...  It seems that our mind and heart are racing to understand where we have come and where we are going.  And the innocence of childhood has transformed into our adult faith and belief systems.

Images of Childhood
Questions also arise at this time of year:
  • Do we believe in the Reason for the Season?
  • Have we become too materialistic?
  • What would happen if we spent within our means?

As I listen to some people, it seems that they are just trying to survive... due to past hurts, family deaths, declining health, poor finances, and a myriad of other modern day ailments.

Images of Adulthood
While traveling through San Francisco two years ago at the holiday season, I came across the World Tree of Hope (click to learn more).  When I saw it, the tree was located in a nave of the City Hall.  (This year it may be found in Grace Cathedral.)

People from all over the world send in a wish for the world.  These wishes are inscribed on white origami cranes (an Asian symbol for happiness, good fortune, longevity and hope).  A beautiful way to gather positive thoughts and energy for the world!

Images of Hope
(RWF World Tree of Hope, San Francisco)
In these times where past and present swirl, collide and compete,I have found that the dialogue skills of awareness and compassion go a long way!  By noticing what I am feeling and talking to a Loved One or friend, doors begin to open.  Sometimes I am heard.  Sometimes I listen to others.  Sometimes new hopes and wishes begin to grow... and the swirl, collision, and competing energies lessen their grip on me.

How fitting it is that Memories, Hope, and Grace transect at this time of year!

Blessings, good fortune and hope to you this Holy Season!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Wanting to Join In: Overcoming Barriers and Rifts

Traveling through the Yukon territory, we came across Husky dog sledding at Caribou Crossing.  It was amazing to watch the energy of the adult dogs who wanted to work, to pull the sleds!  They were jumping high into the air:  "Pick me!  Pick me!"

A few yards away behind a wire fence were young puppies watching the excitement.  They too wanted to get out of their pens and join in.  The energy of the dogs mixed with the wonder of the tourists made a festive atmosphere as we watched or waited our turns to go on a dog sled ride.

Has a barrier ever kept you from joining in?
(Caribou Crossing, Yukon Territory)
As we pulled out of the parking lot, I wondered about my own life:
  • When am I excited about the work I do?
  • Do I exhibit a "Pick me!" attitude?
  • What barriers keep me from joining in?

Has a rift ever separated you from those you love?
(Mid-Atlantic Ridge in Iceland: rift between two tectonic plates)

I have noticed that my travels allow time to reflect.  I am able to slow down and connect what is happening in my day-to-day life with new sights and experiences.

This "Pick Me!" and "Joining In" reflection in the Yukon connected with an earlier trip to Iceland when we had an opportunity to walk between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates.  The plates have caused a rift in the earth's crust, creating a valley we walked through.

When we do not understand a situation the same way or we hold firmly to our preconceived thoughts about another person, culture, or creed, rifts develop between the crustiness of our fragile relationships.  We may think that the barriers are imposed by others, but maybe we have a role in building and maintaining these barriers.

Is it time to overcome barriers and rifts?
As I reflect on the connection between these two travel moments, I have come to realize that both barriers can be overcome:
  • Yukon Territory:  the barrier had a gate which anyone could open to free the Husky puppies and allow them to join in.
  • Iceland:  the rift between the tectonic plates had a passageway that allowed us to walk between two formidable masses.

The challenge for our dialogue practices is to learn when and how to open the barriers that separate us and to find common areas between misunderstandings and confrontations where we can journey together.

As we consider everything that has happened in 2018, let us reflect on the barriers and rifts that separate us and consider ways to reach out with open hands to what awaits us in 2019!  And, as we dialogue together, may we invite and want environments of "Pick me!" and "Join in!"

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Who am I? Who are You? Who are We?

Reflecting on various stages of my life, I recall times when I noticed differences between my family and those of my friends; when classmates became separated by interests and relationships; and when various cliques went their own ways.  I also noticed times when I wasn't accepted.

In those moments of comparisons, I began to discover the person I wanted to become.  I still haven't arrived, but I have noticed that my mind continues to compare and contrast what I see and experience... but in a different way.

How do I understand Who am I and Who are We?
(Photo Credit:  Baby Blues, by Rick Kirkman and Jerry Scott)

I now see Life as a Journey of Discovery:  answering questions of Who am I? is only the beginning.  The journey continues when I open myself to other moments:  seeking answers to Who are you? 

My earlier years seemed to focus on achievement and direct/indirect competition.  Without being overly simplistic, did we not learn the following: 
  • In school:  who was smarter?
  • In sports:  who will win?
  • In church:  who is holy?
  • With family:  who helps out?

Do I try to outmaneuver others?

In later years, are we not challenged with other questions or lessons?  For instance, rather than focus on a dualistic relationship between Who am I? and Who are You?, we can transform those two questions into Who are We? 

So, the Journey of Discovery teaches us that all of these questions are important:
  • I want to understand who I am or want to become;
  • I need you to help me understand what that question means for you; and,
  • Together, we must discover the relationship between I - You.

As we discover answers to these questions, we begin to understand the importance of the hyphen (-):  rather than remain in the competitive Either - Or relationship of earlier years, we begin to transform the relational-hyphen into an All.

Is it time to accept that We are loved?

Through dialogue -- and with an awareness of I and You in relationship with We -- compassion, empathy, and possibly even love, begins to emerge:
  • When I hurt or you are hurt, then don't we both hurt?
  • When I am hungry or you are hungry, aren't we hungry?
  • When I am lost on my journey or you are too, then we don't arrive together.

Through these final weeks of the year where the holidays call us together as family and friends, may we slow down in our busy-ness and consider broadening our love for Self and Other -- giving the gift of time, interest, and acceptance!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Hole-y Whole: Moving through Life

There are days when my creativity is gone; I am not sure what value I bring to my work team; and there seems to be a disconnect — or a “hole” — in what is being said and the meaning behind the words.  The world remains beautiful and whole, but my mind and heart swirls with missed opportunities and seemingly lost relationships.

Have you ever experienced one of these Hole-y Whole moments: when the world goes on but you feel left behind?

Have you ever felt like something is missing?

I find that when I am caught in low creativity, feeling undervalued, or being misunderstood, it is easy to feel separated... apart from others.  And, when I wallow in my Hole-y Separateness, I begin to look for someone to blame.  (Of course, it's not me!)

I had an experience of this recently at work.  It was a time when our positions and responsibilities were being redefined.  Many of us were trying to understand the changes, the new vision and goals, and where we fit in.  Where I felt like a valued member of the team earlier, my new role seemed to stand apart and disconnected from the other team members.  All of our paths were unclear; each of us — individually — were trying to understand what was expected.  As an organizational team, we were in Low Awareness.

Are there times when you feel separated from others?

What changed?  Our team had a series of meetings.  Our supervisor patiently described his vision, and noted when he didn’t have the answers to our questions.  Individually, we needed to reconnect and to make decisions about our worth and value.

What I found valuable through this time of disconnection and reconnection:
  • Noticing my discomfort... and sharing my thoughts with others.
  • Asking questions... and listening to the responses.
  • Holding lightly to misunderstandings... and trying not to devalue another person.

In addition, I was able to talk to Loved Ones and friends -- people who knew me -- and I  shared my thoughts, feelings, and confusion.

Where can you discover beauty and wholeness?

The experience of reconnection in these weeks of Hole-y Whole Separateness became Holy, and offered me questions to consider:
  • Do I recognize and accept the beauty in being connected and valued?
  • What do I do and say when I feel devalued or separated from others?
  • Where do I find balance: returning to those creative moments where I belong?

May you notice the Hole-y Whole moments in your life this week, and the ways you return to Holy Wholeness!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)