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)