Sunday, September 29, 2019

Journeys to...

A group of kayakers floated around a bend of the Colorado River, coming close to where we were standing.  As bystanders, we were interested in seeing how these intrepid adventurers would navigate the rough waters ahead.  Most in the group stayed close to shore.  One ventured closer to the middle of the river... and was overwhelmed and nearly capsized by the rushing waters.

I admired all of the individuals: those who sought safety and the one who risked a different experience.  They were not bystanders, but were willing to engage the river and test their skills in ways that were appropriate for them.

How do I engage the rough waters of dialogue:  as a bystander or an adventurer?

How do you approach rough waters?
Besides possible rough waters of dialogue engagement, there may be times when we meander through twists and turns in our conversations, seeking ways to reach a mutual destination.

Am I patient with others when dialogue takes unexpected turns?

Are you willing to engage winding roads?

It seems that if we are willing to set aside our preconceived ideas of what is safe to discuss and where the conversation will take us -- entering the conversation with patience -- we may be able to journey together down roads that are rough and seem to have no predictable ending.

Through this process of discovery, when we appreciate the peaks and valleys that characterize the highs and lows of life, we can reflect on and share the impact that we have on one another.

Do I see others as Companions on this journey?

Where do you find yourself mostly: peaks or valleys?

I know that my life has taken many twists and turns.  I have not ended up the person I thought I would be.  Sometimes, I have come to understand a Wholeness -- a Holy-ness --  in Self and Others.  Maybe that has been the reason for the journey all along!

Questions that emerge this week:

  • Do I walk alongside you as an equal companion?
  • Can I carry part of your load when you may need assistance?
  • Am I open to your offer when I am not meant to walk alone?

May we notice this week when we are bystanders, when we seek safety, and when we are willing to risk getting to know each other.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Perspectives of Dialogue

Every day brings reminders of the need to broaden our dialogue skills.  Whether with family, work colleagues, long-term friends or people passing through our lives, there are opportunities to explore and understand another perspective.

Living with someone provides frequent occasions to exercise our skills of noticing and compassion.  Whereas, long-distance relationships may allow longer moments of reflection as we anticipate a visit or phone call... and mull over what happened.

Traveling between Grand Junction, Colorado, and Moab, Utah, our tour director deliberately chose a lesser known river road to get off the freeway, slow down, and notice the unique landscape along the journey.

I wonder... what would it be like if we deliberately took a detour from our fast-paced lives, slowed down, and looked anew at people who are near and far?  Maybe we could revel in the beautiful landscape of our relationships.

The Perspective of Distance
(River road between Grand Junction and Moab)
When we arrived at Mesa Verde later in the trip, the tour director summarized a short hike down to the Cliff Palace as 12 steps down and one 8-foot ladder up.  Many of us braved the near-100 degree weather with that explanation in mind.  We stopped often along the path to relax in the shade, share water, and listen to the park ranger's stories of the Ancestral Puebloans.

An hour later, we realized that the director's earlier description was overly-simplified.  Yes, there were 12 steps down at the beginning, but immediately followed by an uneven sloping pathway down through rock walls and alongside the cliff edge.  Returning, there were three 8-foot ladders one right after the other.  A more strenuous hike than advertised!

I have learned that each of us filter, retain and recall differing aspects of reality.  I wonder... how does time influence our perspectives and the stories we repeat? 

The Perspective of the Past
(Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde)
Practicing our dialogue skills begins with noticing and reflecting upon information we take in; continues when we share what we have experienced; and, invites curiosity to surface.

I wonder:
  • What has the other person seen, heard, and experienced?
  • Can more than one understanding sit side by side without conflict?
  • How will we decide what to believe, protect and repeat?
The Perspective of Reflection
(Another view from the river road)
The perspectives of distance, history, and reflection invite us to view the landscapes of our Life Journey through new lenses.  Are we willing to take a slight detour and explore?

May this week open us to new vistas.  May we capture the true essence of our relationships by listening and understanding the perspectives that are revealed through others.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, September 15, 2019

The Choices We Make

It's amazing how our senses transport us back to earlier memories!  For example, while walking through Vail, Colorado, I came across a piece of public art that the local art council had commissioned and installed.  It was a life-size representation of Rock, Paper, Scissors, the childhood game of choice.  (Remember: rock breaks scissors; paper covers rock; and scissors cuts paper.  Depending on what object you chose, you would either win, lose or tie others.)

Senses transport us back to childhood.... and childhood memories are carried into adulthood.

Choice... How do you make decisions?
(Rock, Paper, Scissors:  Vail Colorado)
Several years ago as a trainer-consultant, we were assigned customers by a combination of weeks that we were willing to travel and when the customer requested services.  When more than one consultant offered the same travel week, we would negotiate which person would be assigned.  Sometimes we flipped a coin (heads-tails).  Other times we would use Rock-Paper-Scissors.  We also considered if a consultant had relatives or friends nearby or if a person didn't have an assignment for a given month.

We chose to exercise a professional, friendly, and non-confrontative method to take care of each other... and to provide the best service to the customer.

Choices... When do you exercise?
(Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Denver, Colorado)

Being in relationship can be challenging... but it can also be fun!  If we choose, we can be in healthy relationships where:
  • Needs and desires of each person are shared and respected;
  • Moments of misunderstanding are discussed and intentions clarified; and,
  • Goals and decisions are made together.

Choices... Do you tend to see beauty?
(Sensory Garden, Estes Park, Colorado)
I believe that when we seek out the Beauty and Sacred Worth of each person we are open to Options Unknown.  We have a choice: to listen with minds and hearts open; to explore alternatives unexplored; and to make decisions that include.

The choice is ours.  What will you choose today?

May we break away from unhealthy memories.  May we uncover our deepest needs and desires  May we cut through what divides and separates us.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Barriers We Create

Traveling through the Colorado Rockies this past month, we came across a setting that was both beautiful and forbidding:
  • Beautiful because of the majestic peaks in the distance and the summer fullness of pastures green and full of wild flowers;
  • Forbidding in that a barrier was separating us from the Beauty Beyond.

I wondered:
  • How often am I separated from the beauty that is out of reach?
  • Are there obstacles between us, where we are unable to experience the beauty in one another?

Barriers We Create:  Beauty Beyond
(Rocky Mountain National Park)

In these moments where barriers protect or separate us, life seems endless.  The road ahead suggests emptiness when others cannot journey alongside.

Who can we share the Rugged Moments, the difficult lessons and hardships that rise up unexpectedly?

Barriers We Create:  Empty Roads
(Route 128, River Road)

Later in the week, our group stayed at a National Landmark hotel.  In the lobby, an old fashioned phone sat waiting to be used.

No, it was not a smart phone!   No calendar or reminders.  No camera or photo gallery.  No games or other apps.  Nothing to distract us... only a speaker and a receiver with a simple way to dial in.  Its sole purpose: to talk to another person.

Barriers We Create:  Waiting to Be Used
(Strater Hotel, Durango, Colorado)

How fitting near the end of a journey to be reminded that dialogue -- talking to another person -- is the way to overcome barriers placed before us.  Kind of old fashioned... but it still works!

This week:
  • May we notice the barriers that separate us from the Beauty Surrounding;
  • May we open our empty roads and lives by sharing the Rugged Times; and,
  • May we engage in the time-honored Dialogue that respects where we are and where we have been.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, September 1, 2019

I Am... Who I Am

Take five minutes and make a list of descriptors of who you are.  Maybe use the words "I am..." or "I am a..." to complete the sentence with:

  • Relationships (e.g., I am a... daughter; son; sister; brother; wife; husband; partner)
  • Roles and Responsibilities (e.g., mother; father; supervisor; employee; educator)
  • Titles (e.g., doctor; Mr.; Mrs.; Ms.; president)
  • Character Traits (e.g., I am... calm; compassionate; extroverted; introverted; friendly)
  • Skills (e.g., excellent communicator; good listener; organized; electrician; creative)

Now, sit with these words.  What do you think or feel when you look at certain words?

This is who you are... today... in this moment.  And yet, I would bet, you are so much more!

I Am... Who I Am:
formed by a relationship
We are formed by relationships, family and culture, education, hobbies and interests, travel, exposure to other ways of being.  How often, though, do we reflect on the ways we have grown, changed and adapted?  Our individual (and collective) I AM is in constant motion as we understand and filter new experiences.  We catalogue meaning and value as we encounter long-time relationships.  We make assumptions and come to conclusions when we begin new friendships.

I Am... Who I Am:
formed by education

It seems that we adjust throughout the day as we move from home to work to social gatherings: each I Am... moment expresses different facets of who we are... but, again, we are always so much more.  I find this fascinating!

We each possess the ability to create and recreate who we are... until...

I Am... Who I Am:
formed by hobbies and interests
We choose not to!  I wonder what happens when we decide that:
  • We no longer want to continue nurturing a friendship?
  • We can no longer respond to dark moments in society?
  • We don't like who we have become?

I Am... Who I Am:
formed by travel and exposure to different cultures

In these moments, I must remind myself that I am is the present verb tense of to be.  Dialogue allows us the space to talk, listen, and understand who we will become.  We can look at the relationships, roles, responsibilities, titles, character traits, and skills that describe who we are... and we can dream of the "so much more"!  The choice is ours!

May we see the blessings and goodness in the I AM of this moment.  May we, in dialogue, share moments of becoming.  And, may we long for more!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)