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)