Sunday, July 28, 2019

The World We Create

As children, the world seemed to center on us: adults providing for us; teaching us; guiding and protecting us.  As we grew, we began to realize that we were not the center of this world.  We were one of many.  It is sometimes hard to shake off that early sense of individualism and importance nurtured where everything focused on our needs and wants.

Having moved away from the protection of my original family unit, I learned that I must find my unique way to create a world that respects people: family, friends, and work colleagues.   And, yes, within this wider context, I still must consider what is important to keep myself fulfilled and healthy. 

Unlike earlier, it is important to balance Me and You.

The World We Create... begins at home
(Photo credit:  Rapid Transformation Therapy)

Several quotes from Conversations Worth Having, a book I am reading, captured my attention this past week:

“We live in worlds our conversations create.”

“The relationship is the conversation.”

“We change best when we are strongest and most positive,
not when we feel the weakest, most negative, or helpless.”

If we share our thoughts, feelings, and experiences, we are creating this world.  If we ask questions born out of a curiosity to know, we are supporting a relationship.  And if we focus on the positive aspects of this world and our relationships, we provide a safe environment to examine the world and our relationships... allowing opportunities for change and growth.

The World We Create... extends to work and friendships
(Photo credit:  Branding Personality)

As I consider this world created around me, I wonder:
  • Do I approach every conversation with an expectation that something special will happen?
  • Do I understand the impact of the words I choose and the questions I ask?
  • Am I willing to seek and acknowledge the positive — the Sacred — in the other person?

The World We Create... can be positive and affirming
(Photo credit:  Mayo Clinic - News Network)

Dialogue -- the conversations that create our world -- provide the foundations that we seek: safe environments to explore; curiosity to learn; listening to understand; and affirmation that life is good.  We become co-creators as we practice our dialogue skills!

May each of us impact this world by anticipating something special will happen.  Let us seek to learn and understand.  And let us affirm positive change this week!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, July 21, 2019

What Do You Mean?

Darcy, a Dialogue practitioner and friend, received a package with an abundance of yellow Cycle 2 routing stickers... which seemed to override the original Cycle 1 mailing label.  But, is that what these yellow stickers meant?  And why so many?  And why didn't someone cross out or cover over the original Cycle 1 label?

Without knowing the company's delivery process and what the various cycles mean, we may never have answers to these questions!

Life seems to be like that, though: original lessons, learned from relatives and friends, stick to us so readily.  Then, they become overridden by education and exposure to different circumstances.

Questions we may ask ourselves: 
  • Do we have contradictory "stickers" (messages) attached to us?
  • Where did we "pick up" (learn) these messages (lessons)?
  • How can we "peel off" (notice, discover) lessons we no longer want to convey?

What message do you give?
(Photo credit:  Darcy Wharton)

Traveling in Hawaii a few years ago, our touring group came across a scenic lookout.  As people posed in front of the backdrop, I was attracted to a sign covered in stickers.  My eye tended to focus on each colorful message, but my curiosity wanted to know what the original sign said.

As people moved closer to the scenic drop off... becoming more daring in their selfies and family poses... I came to understand the sign's message:

"DANGER - Do Not Go Beyond Guardrail."

Do you provide conflicting information?

I have found that when I practice my dialogue skills (noticing; asking questions; listening; seeking to understand), curiosity is awakened in me.  A desire emerges to peel away the layers that hide the true meaning of ... who you are and who I am.

If we are interested in this self- and other-discovery, it may be important to pay attention to the level of attachment -- or detachment -- placed on socially- or personally-constructed meanings.  In other words, are we willing to examine each message and make a decision that considers and updates what we believe?

How can your messages become clearer?

Maybe our challenge is to notice the contradictions we live each day.  Can I consciously choose to give clear messages to others: explaining my intentions; asking for advice; and seeking ways to move away from dangerously-confusing messages that overshadow our Sacred Worth and Value.

May the "packages" (gifts) you receive this week bring clear messages of love, joy and hope!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Dialogue: The Thin Thread that Connects

As a child, I was fascinated with spider webs.  The ability to create intricate patterns that intersected and strengthened the overall design one day... and then the next day, the design was gone or changed!  Now, mind you, I didn't necessarily appreciate spiders... but their webs were fascinating, beautiful, and functional.

Years later, I read a book called The Web of Inclusion by Sally Helgesen.  She described how emerging female leaders were beginning to succeed in the traditional organizational hierarchy... but with an added dimension:  a woman's strength of building and maintaining relationships interwove the top-down flow of authority and supervision with the intersecting elements of communication and interdependence between individuals and teams.

The image of a spider's web which entraps its prey was transformed into a symbol that included all aspects of an organization.

Thin Thread: how have you experienced
interconnections with others?
( Cape Tribulation, near Daintree Rainforest, Australia)

So, as I was traveling through the Yukon Territory last year, I stopped short when our guide, James, began talking philosophically about the "thread that binds us."  My mind called forth the image of the spider's web and the symbol of inclusion.  Which thread tends to bind us: prey or inclusion?

As James revealed his story of an Irish childhood with his southwestern U.S. adulthood, he explained how this thread sometimes gets very thin... but it will never break.  Why?  Because of our need to be accepted, included... together.  We have a desire for structure and to be united... AND... we have a desire to be individual and independent.

All of nature is engaged in this creative struggle:  survival of the fittest alongside the ability to adapt and be transformed; the protection of the young and powerless alongside the young moving away from the familiar.  Our bodies grow and change; our thoughts and values evolve; but we remain who we are.

Thin Thread: which do you focus on -- 
the different colors or the whole?
(Emerald Lake, Yukon Territory)

The diversity and the sameness blend together to form a landscape that draws us together.  The  dark moments and the brilliantly illuminated events compete and complete who we are!

As we soaked in the autumn splendor of Yukon's Emerald Lake, James explained how the water's colors reflected the clay and calcium carbonate in the shallow waters... alongside bluer shades from deeper waters.  The fall colors in the changing trees, the colored patterns in the lake, the rising mountains, and the blue sky... all reflected nature's creativity.  But, tomorrow, the scene would be different.

Thin Thread: are you able to see the splendor
of our combined tapestry?

(Pacific Ocean sunset)

I believe that dialogue encourages and strengthens these thin threads which bind us.  We may need to rethink our relationships, change how we communicate, or undo the harm left over from previous days.  But, if we choose, we might need to step back and seek a different view:  one that respects relationships; one that encourages inclusion.  Like a tapestry, each thread counts in the overall image of who we are.

May this week allow us to consider the threads that are woven between us.  May we seek to understand why some threads are thin.  And may we choose to be bound together for the common good.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Dialoguing to Freedom

What comes to mind when you think of freedom or liberty?  As we look at our personal histories, do we focus on the same events or symbols?  I wonder.

If you are from the United States, you might think of the Declaration of Independence, the American Revolutionary War (War of Independence), the Constitution, or the Statue of Liberty.  There are more recent events and symbols, though, that might remind you of struggles against tyranny and external control: maybe the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Movement... or personal triumphs over manipulation or abuse.

What stories of freedom and liberty inspire you?

Symbols:  what meanings enlighten your life?
(Photo Credit:  Liberty Enlightening the World, National Park Service)

As I struggle to understand freedom in today's chaotic world, I have sought guidance from Lady Liberty.  This symbol and its meaning have evolved alongside our growing nation.  The torch, the crown, the book, the chains that are underfoot... each embody different aspects of Our Story.  (Click here to read about the meanings of Lady Liberty.) 

It seems that the pursuit of liberty, truth and justice is often intertwined with Enlightenment: "the ability to give intellectual and spiritual light to a subject, to instruct and seek knowledge."  In other words, to educate and inform.

As the complexities of our modern world explode around us and divide us, I wonder:
  • What enlightens us and our relationships?
  • Where do we become educated and informed?
  • How do we seek unity and understanding?  

Explosions: when have your relationships exploded?
(Photo credit:  The Big Bay Boom is Back, San Diego Magazine)

Personal struggle with control and manipulation may occur within family or with friends and work colleagues.  Respectful dialogue helps me when I don't understand another viewpoint or when I might disagree.  Moments of civility encourage me to freely reach beyond my inner castles and walls which protect.  I have the liberty to to lay down weapons that could hurt you; I become vulnerable; and now, I can seek a nonviolent stance to listen and be understood.

I believe it takes more courage to seek peaceful resolutions than to destroy opposing ideologies.

Freedom to reach out:  are you willing to touch another life?
(Photo credit:  Center for Professional Development)

Freedom and liberty allow the possibility to think and respond differently.  The Either-Or mindset of "I am right" and "You are wrong" can shift into Both-And thinking:  is it possible that both of us have differing aspects of the truth and a possible solution?

Declaring independence from ways to manipulate or control others opens us to the possibility of being liberated.  Moving towards an understanding that our limited resources don't need to be Divided Up... but Shared... frees us to look for solutions that benefit all.  We become "We the People" not through our divisions but through the liberty that occurs when we become united... the freedom to seek the Truth together.

As each country celebrates its origins, may we become enlightened by learning what it means to be... Canadian (July 1 - Canada Day), American (July 4 - Independence Day), French (July 14 - Bastille Day).... and all of the other ways that humanity has yearned for freedom and liberty.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)