Sunday, December 29, 2019

Curiosity Found: Stopping on Every Floor

Have you ever stepped into an elevator planning or hoping to reach your destination only to be stopped at every floor?  Instead of the Express that you wanted, you have been relegated to the Local!

I was thinking of this image on a recent trip.  Not only did we stop at each floor, but others who entered the elevator pressed the remaining untouched buttons.... ensuring that “Yes, you will be stopping!”

How do you react when your life
takes detours?
In these moments of Interrupted Haste, I found that all I could do was go along for the ride!  At first, I found myself annoyed or frustrated.  But, as I peered out at the Floor Not Visited, my curiosity began to grow:  Is there something there that I am missing?

What are you missing when a door
doesn’t open?
At times -- with dialogue, I have discovered that detours are not distractions or annoyances.  Rather, there may be hidden gems of knowledge to be gained by stopping and spending time with a friend.

Stepping out or away from what is transporting me to a planned destination now creates a new path to explore.  After a brief delay, I can still move on, but I will be a changed person when I eventually arrive.

Are there unknown destinations waiting for you?
 Maybe each day of life should be met with a Welcome sign — waiting to be seen, read, and savored: new people, places, and experiences to engage.  Sometimes, all it takes is pushing a button that opens doors to other possibilities.

The invitation for us is:

  • A willingness to set aside the annoyances and frustrations at being interrupted; and, 
  • The curiosity to step out when the opportunity arises. 

May the ending of 2019 provide moments for reflection: 
  • Your plans or goals for this past year; 
  • What you achieved or learned; and, 
  • The detours and experiences along the way.

Blessings on your Dialogue Journey throughout 2020!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Understanding Living Traditions

The holiday season is full of old and new stories -- each celebrating family, culture and religion.  These can be special times as we remember, relive, and build anew.  Also, they can be lonely times for people who are separated or missing those no longer present.

Over the past few weeks, I have been trying to slow down and watch people.  This is difficult in a few ways: slowing down in an exceptionally busy season; and moving outward, noticing others, instead of self.

Isn’t it amazing when we realize that each person has her or his own story; that each story is unique; and that we cannot know those stories without asking... and then listening?

Can we reshape previous experiences?
My mother’s favorite holiday and holy day was Christmas.  She made the season special for our family.  When she died on Christmas Eve fourteen years ago — in between my niece’s birthday (December 23) and my sister’s birthday (December 25), we were at a loss with how to celebrate without her.

During the next year, my older — and very creative — brother had taken Mom’s jewelry and created a Christmas tree that is now a family heirloom.  It celebrates the memories of six children watching their mother dress up with these same earrings and rings, transforming them into a place where new memories can hang.

Are we willing to create new ways of being?
I too love to create new objects, primarily crocheted items that remind me of my grandmother, who taught me how to crochet.  As I imagine and create, the object takes on the love I want to share with others.

Memories and wishes are combined in these newly-created gifts.  Traditions relived and renewed.

How do we celebrate our history and symbols?
Dialogue helps us to share what we remember and hope for.  The traditions and stories passed on through previous generations allow us to understand who we are.  And, talking and listening opens us to who we are becoming.  Stories are meant to be shared and explored.  Traditions are not frozen in time, and neither are we.

As we celebrate the holidays and holy days surrounding this year end, may we remember, reflect on, and be grateful for those people who have shared their stories with us.  And may we stand in awe at the sacredness of each person.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Facing the Same Direction

Do you expect people to believe as you believe?  How do you respond when people react differently than anticipated?  What do you mentally say to yourself about the other person?

These are questions we might consider as we move into these final weeks of the year, especially as we try to survive in a fragmented and contentious world.

Does Group Think prevail in your friendships?
I remember walking around a small village in Britain.  There were many beautiful stone walls, made with local slate and rocks.  The artistry in the masonry showcased the skills of past generations:  stone walls that have withstood the passage of time.

Looking closely at the walls, there sometimes were similar patterns and other times each individual stone added support and strength.  I wondered at those times in my life where I only accepted ancestral truths or when individual and current understandings changed past perspectives.

Do you allow opposing views to strengthen
your understanding?
The beauty of dialogue — when we attempt to understand one another — comes from the elasticity of our mindsets.  That is:
  • Can we consider that earlier or self-proclaimed truths may be incomplete? 
  • Do we allow people freedom to come to other conclusions? 
  • Will we stay in relationship when we differ?

Where does life grow?
As I walked along these village walls, oftentimes I came across plants rooted in the cracks and crevices.  Isn’t it amazing?!  Life grows even in the harshest and most unexpected places.

And, isn’t this true in our own relationships as well?  People rebound and heal even after the worst argument or separation.

Can you sit and consider that others
may be seeing life differently?
As we listen to the ideas, thoughts, and conclusions of family and friends this week:
  • May we accept the messiness of life; 
  • May we acknowledge that people can come to different conclusions; and, 
  • May we seek to understand what others see.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Repairs, Maintenance and Emergencies

Over the past several months we have spent time and money making repairs to our house.  Some of these have been "must do" repairs; others have been "better do" maintenance.  Fortunately, we had time to plan, save money, and hire qualified people who could complete the whole package.

Other times pipes have burst, water heaters have leaked, support pylons under the house have disintegrated... all at the most inopportune times!  In these unplanned instances, professionals have fixed these emergencies but at a higher cost and with more stress and discomfort to us.

Are there relationships in your life that are beyond repair?
(Astoria, Oregon: burned out pier)
During jury selection last June, we were asked a number of questions by the judge and attorneys to determine our background and open-mindedness.  Several of the questions centered on warranties: have we paid for extended warranties on products; have we made a claim against the warranty; were we satisfied with the company’s response to the claim.

At first, it seemed that older jurors paid for and tracked their warranties, whereas the younger ones did not.  As I listened to people’s stories, I realized that the people who bought larger ticket items (e.g., cars, appliances, houses) were the ones who placed importance on warranties.  Those whose experience centered on less expensive items threw away the warranties... and those items when they broke down.

Ho do you maintain -- or build upon --
your relationships?
(Melbourne, Australia: changing skyline)
As I ponder how warranties have helped in emergency situations — and whether repairs and maintenance actually forestall an emergency, I  wonder why I don’t take out warranties on Self and Others?  That is:
  • Do I extend a relationship beyond today? 
  • Am I willing to put resources into repairing crumbling friendships? 
  • How do I maintain my closest relationships? 

It seems that in many aspects of our lives we have become a Throw Away Society: that is, when something breaks, we may tend to throw it away and replace it with another.  I wonder if that mentality has overflowed into how we see and interact with others?

Do we preserve what is important as we create the future?
(Victoria, Canada: preserving the old)
  • As we nurture our dialogue skills, we might consider taking out a maintenance or service agreement with one another.
  • As we reflect on the more precious aspects of our lives — family, friends, and work colleagues — we might learn to rebuild the structures that have become weathered or worn down.
  • As we encounter another person's Way of Being, we might create relationships that include and endure.

May emergencies you face this week be worthy of repair and maintenance!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Locked into My Way of Being

When was the last time that you truly listened to a loved one or friend?  Staying quiet.  Leaning in and listening intently.  Maybe asking clarifying questions.  Trying to understand.  

Some situations I find myself curious, wanting to know more.  Almost like reading a mystery novel, waiting until assumptions and facts line up.  But, no matter how well these moments go, there are plenty more where I become frustrated and disillusioned with myself... when I realize how closed off I have become.

It is as if a barrier rises up within me, locking out the possibilities of connection.

When are you locked into your way of being?
Touring the Sonoma Valley wine country recently, I came across statues of Bacchus and Ariadne holding up the entrance to the winery's events hall.  I wondered about the symbolism of supporting an opening where people gather and celebrate life.  Isn't this the goal of Dialogue?

How do you support people gathering?

Dialogue provides opportunities where we notice our locked natures, the barriers we put up, and the frustrations of being closed off from others... and... with compassion, we hold ourselves lightly.  We see who we are in that moment, and we allow transformation.  We support the belief that we don't need to remain locked in our defended fortresses.  Instead, we can support the gathering and celebration of a new Way of Being.

The key that unlocks this barrier is the willingness to see Sacred Worth and Value in Self and Others.  We may not understand, but we can still build bridges that move us beyond.

What bridges need to be built and crossed?
When I become aware of my limitations, I have a number of choices:

  • Do I want to stay locked behind closed doors?
  • Can I search for ways to unlock my situation?
  • Am I willing to support others as they change?

This week, may we seek the locks, supports, and bridges that limit or open us to new Ways of Being.  May we be willing to change and move.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, November 24, 2019

A Dialogue of Giving Thanks

I must admit:  there are days when I need my space!  I may feel overloaded by work deadlines.  Projects at home may be piling up.  Family or friends may want to stop and visit.  Internally, I become conflicted:  I want to spend time with loved ones and hear their latest adventures... but what about the deadlines and projects?

And now, with the holidays upon us, it seems that the treadmill has been switched to high gear: time is moving faster; there is less time to get everything accomplished.

How do I stay open to dialogue where I am invited to slow down, notice what is happening, and allow compassion towards self and others to surface?

Giving Thanks: am I thankful for the people in my life?

In these times of stress -- oftentimes, self-imposed! -- I find it important to consider the spheres of influence and responsibility that orbit around each one of us.  As we search for meaning, how do we understand the impact we have on others?  Are we expecting to be brilliant in every encounter?  Or, can we seek balance and stability?

Giving Thanks: how do I experience the
spheres of influence in my life?

In these seasons of thanks and gift-giving, I am reminded of people in my life who are no longer present:  family and church members, teachers, coaches, friends, and colleagues.  In ways not realized at the time, I was touched by their guidance, generosity, self-giving, and kindness.  Forgiveness and reconciliation were exemplified by their acceptance of my uniqueness and our relationship.

Giving Thanks: am I creating a world
of peace and understanding?

Dialogue comes in many forms:
  • The ability to be kind to Self in times of stress;
  • The longing to be connected to something larger than self; and,
  • The willingness to listen, to ask questions, and to understand another.

Dialogue asks of us one thing: Time.  Time to foster the ability, the longing, and the willingness to create a world that is more accepting of who we are and who we are becoming.  And with time, dialogue invites us to give thanks for the mystery surrounding what we know and don't know.

May we be moved towards giving thanks -- not just this week and day set aside -- but for the spheres of influence and impact that have changed us to become better people.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, November 17, 2019

The Beauty of Dialgue

A few weeks ago my work assignment was in Chicago.  I flew in on a beautiful fall day... where the skies were clear... and the temperature was in the 80s!  Consider that a very unusual fall day!  It wasn't what I expected!  And I heard from others how rare a day it was.

After ride-sharing to my hotel and unpacking, I made my way down to Lakeshore Trail so that I could see the downtown skyline from the lake front.  What a glorious view!  From a distance I could see the human constructs of buildings, monuments, and parks.  Behind me I could see the expanse of Lake Michigan -- clear, clean, and calm.

I wondered about the balance we create each day between our Socially Constructed Realities (SCRs) and the Reality That Is.

How often do you step back and reflect on
the reality you have created?

Toward the end of my stay in Chicago, I came across a lone rose bush with a late autumn bloom.  From that first arrival day until the day of departure, we had experienced heat, rain, overcast skies, and frosty weather signalling the beginning of winter.  Yet, one rose was defying the extremes that were unfolding.

I wondered how I weather the changes in my own life:  the extremes of long-held beliefs to the unfolding of new discoveries; the entrapped conclusions I espouse and the fresh lessons being learned.

How often do you stop and reflect on
the reality that is?
Maybe the SCRs that we learn from family, culture, education and country are meant to be starting points for other truths waiting to be revealed.  I recall being introduced to a metaphor about our society, that "We are a melting pot."  As I grew older, others described our country's diversity as being more like a "salad bowl."

Both metaphors may be true: the merging of beliefs and values as well as the distinctive nature of each culture.  Just think of the possibilities: the richness of Our Reality That Is comes from the dynamic freedom created when the SCRs of individuals are allowed to be explained, tested, and valued by our interaction with others.

How do we see ourselves?
 (University of Chicago, Harris School of Public Policy)

This is why I find dialogue so beautiful:  like that first day in Chicago, I was able to find a viewing point where I could see the Beauty of Both.  Then, as the week progressed, I began to experience the reality as others experienced it.  Talking with my clients, I could hear what they needed from my company and the skills I could offer.  The goal:  Working Together.

Without these moments of reflection, we may not have new perspectives to share.  We may remain trapped in our personal metaphors of what is.  And, we may miss out on what is real!

May we find freedom this week to seek understanding.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Horizons - Looking Outward

When you are faced with an unknown future, are you filled with worry, trepidation, calm, or excitement?  If you are like me... it depends on the situation!

After a series of setbacks, the future may look like more of the same... or, I may think, "It can't get any worse! " On the other hand, after long periods of calm and stability, an unknown horizon may seem distant and foreign.

What is it about change and the unknown that strikes fear or excitement in us?

What obstacles do you see on the horizon?

What I enjoy about sailing are the vast expanses reaching out to the horizon.  It seems that anything is possible: where would I like to go?  The ocean waters reflect the ever-changing combination of time of day, light, sky and clouds.  Our lives also reflect a dynamic interaction of people, locations, and events.

  • What will happen if I say...?
  • How shall I approach...?
  • Can I move to...?

Each question and decision alters the course of where we go... and the next series of events.

How do you handle the unforeseen?

Earlier in my life, I was amazed when my family was surprised at a decision I made.  I had been thinking about this change for several years, but my parents and siblings were unaware of my thoughts and deliberations.  Independently, I had anxiously changed course without signaling to them my thinking.

It was easy to get defensive and state that it was my decision.  But, I wonder, how else could I have responded?

Can each day provide moments of beauty?
Since that decision several decades ago -- and in combination with recent dialogue studies, I am reflecting on how often I share or don't share significant thought processes.  It seems that the more I reach out with unfinished thoughts or conclusions, people respond with openness and a helping nature.  In a similar way, when I share my feelings of being vulnerable and unsafe, the texture of the conversation becomes more human and intimate.  

Barriers fall down; doors open; horizons extend outward.  This doesn't mean that the skies will be rosy and the seas calm.  Rather, it means I am traveling with people who care and are willing to listen, advise, and accept.

May this week provide moments when we can look outward at the beautiful people and horizons we encounter on this journey we call Life.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Seeking Protection

Traveling and exploring different cities, states, and countries opens my mind and heart to different peoples and Ways of Doing... maybe even Ways of Being.  We experience changes through food, language, use of written and verbal expressions, architecture... and what brings value.  What is important to one person may not be the same for another.

Oftentimes, our structures symbolize the values or emphases that guide us.  For instance, in Washington, D.C., we see the:
  • White House (which symbolizes elected leadership)
  • Capital Building (democracy)
  • U.S. Supreme Court (justice)
  • Smithsonian Museums (history and culture)

In many of our coastal cities, there are breakwaters that protect harbors and provide safe moorings for sea-faring vessels.

What protects you?

Lighthouses are placed in strategic locations along the coast to protect sailors from harm.  Schools and libraries promote the gathering and imparting of knowledge.

Each structure brings significance to the individual or the community.  Each has purpose.

What guides you and keeps you from harm?

Through the lens of my dialogue practice, I find the national struggle with the southern border wall fascinating -- and disturbing.  Especially if we interpret structures as symbols of what is important in our lives.

For many people, the border wall focuses on the values of national identity, safety, legal entry, and opportunity.

What happens, though, when we have positioned ourselves on the extremes of each value?  We have seen public division, peoples and positions devalued, and dialogue almost non-existent.

What bridges have you created?

When we are in a polarized situation -- or when we have polarized ourselves -- it may be important to step back and ask ourselves questions based on our individual, regional or national interests of Ways of Doing and Ways of Being:
  • Am I willing to listen to another viewpoint?
  • Can I hold lightly my position and try to understand another?
  • What will be gained when we create a bridge between the extremes?

When we position ourselves to win at any costs, we have actually lost.  The human experience is cheapened and the structures we build become facades of the Emptiness Within.  I believe that we can do better... when we show up with the hope and invitation of dialogue.

This week:
  • May we seek to understand more deeply the values we hold individually;
  • May we learn to build bridges which honor all that is important collectively; and,
  • May we invite others into a dialogue where All is our Answer

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Which Dialogue Zone Are You In?

As a child, I was fascinated by time zones.  We had moved from Iowa to California when I was 5 years old.  My grandparents remained in Iowa, two time zones away.  To call our grandparents, we would have to coordinate schedules... when were they at work or eating or sleeping.  My attempt to understand how my grandparents could have eaten their dinner already when we weren't even preparing for ours mystified me.  Were they living in the future?  Could they tell us the score of a baseball game?

Now that I travel for work and leisure, I retain some of this wonder.  I still coordinate schedules in order to call a loved one when I am multiple time zones ahead or behind but I now realize that we are each living in the same moment... even if the time is different.

What time zone do you live in?
I carry this same wonder when I attempt to practice my dialogue skills.  I am sometimes confused with a situation until I realize that others are seeing and experiencing the same reality... but individually.  In a way, we are in different dialogue zones.

For example, the foundations of reality -- the facts -- may be the same, but our paths toward understanding may diverge.  This awareness allows me freedom to ask questions and to explore interpretations or meanings that I haven't considered.  Dialogue, in a way, allows us the flexibility to coordinate schedules of understanding so that we are no longer disconnected by conclusions that separate us.

Are you confused when others see a situation differently?

Accepting that dialogue zones must be coordinated and examined provides opportunities -- or invitations -- to reconnect with a loved one, friend, and work colleague.  Unlike my childhood conclusion that my grandparents lived in the future, I can live in the moment with those I choose to sit with, listen to, and understand.

What dialogue zone would you like to inhabit?
As we enter a new week or awaken to a new day, let's consider the following questions:
  • Am I willing to release earlier conclusions that anchor me in my dialogue zone?
  • Can I entertain that another zone is as valid as mine?
  • What would it look like for me to schedule a visit to a friend's understanding of reality?

Happy travels this week as you explore your dialogue zone and others!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Single but Many

Since our country’s inception, our Founders and subsequent generations have struggled with how to balance our freedoms.  Examples of political tensions in my lifetime:
  • Which amendments take precedence over others;
  • How to view Federal and States rights;
  • The rights of the one (minority) versus the rights of the many (majority).

There is a healthy tension when we allow the pendulum of differences to swing back and forth as we respectfully try to understand other points of view.  But, the struggle becomes unbalanced when the majority no longer listens to the minority and the minority views the majority with suspicion.

Is it realistic to think that these encounters will be neat and orderly?  What happens when our interconnections untangle and stay unraveled for a long period of time?  I wonder if our understanding of conversations and outcomes is flawed?

Do I expect neatness and order?
I like to image these conversations as a diverse population awakening to the Desires of All: that is, gaining the ability to move outwards towards acceptance of Other.  Yes, there is a central core of what identifies us... AND... there is a burst of individuality which radiates from these central beliefs.  Both are true!

All are joined together:  all are distinct.

 Do I see the beauty of the One or the Many?

Astronaut Christina Koch posted a wonderful photograph on Twitter recently:  a Russian Soyuz rocket was bringing her best friend from earth to the International Space Station, where Christina was stationed.  The tendrils of the rocket plume seemingly connected the craft to earth; the single bright star of the space craft illuminated the sky.  From the Many (earth) to the One (space craft), friends were being reunited.

Each of our journeys can be like that: understanding our individuality by breaking through the atmospheric definitions that surround us.  We are — individually and collectively — attempting to balance what it means to be Single-in-Relationship.

Do I wait for others to join me?
(Photo credit:  Christina Koch)

Dialogue provides moments where we check-in with another person on where life’s journey has taken them:
Awareness nurtures Compassionate Understanding,
which feeds Creative Freedom through Interconnectedness.

In other words, it is through dialogue that we can share individual insights which informs collective understanding.  One and Many:  both can be true!

May this week draw us into a healthy balance of We (many) and Me (one) that allows us to coexist without violence and harm.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Healing Dialogue

This past week, as a Dialogue colleague and friend prepared for surgery and the recovery process following, she asked many of us to hold her in loving and healing intention.  A list of positive statements were provided that allowed the hospital staff, family and friends to focus our thoughts, prayers, love and energy.

Living hundreds of miles away, I felt connected... and able to participate in something bigger than myself.

What colors do I choose for my Life Story?
I wondered:
  • Each day I encounter many choices: which do I choose and why?
  • Our world seems dark and divided: how can I focus loving and healing intention?
  • The steps I take have meaning:  am I willing to work on goals beyond my own?

Am I willing to work together, applying one grain of sand
at a time, to our World Story?
If we understand Dialogue as a way to add one thought or experience to a Picture Unfolding, then maybe we can remove the pressure of having all the answers, being the arbiter of what is right, or expecting so much of ourselves and others.  Like Buddhist monks creating a mandala one colored grain of sand at a time, we can focus our intention on the experience of holding lightly to each person's contribution to the Whole.

We still have responsibility for individual thoughts and actions,.  But, releasing our negative conclusions about another person or outcome, invites freedom to open ourselves to Love and Healing.

What story do you want others to know?

As we move into a new day, maybe we could focus on a quote that Debbie shared with us days before her surgery:
"We are never more than a belief away
from our greatest love,
deepest healing,
and most profound miracles."
-- Gregg Braden

This week, may we seek to be intentional in how we encounter one another... with dialogue that opens us to healing past wounds... with interactions that connect us... with questions that allow us to see a Picture Beyond our granular perspective.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Debbie... you are loved and held gently by so many!