Sunday, December 27, 2020

Dialogue: Endings and Beginnings

The alignment of Jupiter and Saturn this past week was dubbed the "Christmas Star," and became a temporary distraction from our pandemic isolation.  Over a period of a few days, airwaves and social media directed our collective energy heavenward as we focused on a phenomena last seen 800 years ago.

This one event did not end the pandemic, the suffering, isolation, or denial of COVID-19.  It simply reoriented us to a different shared event... one of awe, inspiration, and beyond.

In darkness, are you at the end or the beginning?
(Photo credit:  P. J. Azzolina, Facebook -
picture taken over Mt. Fuji, Japan)

Standing outside to glimpse these planets orbiting our Common Light, I wondered about the Necessary Darkness to experience this octocentenary event: just maybe...

  • We need darkness to appreciate light;
  • We struggle in order to welcome health and freedom; and,
  • Misunderstandings and arguments allow us to know peace and acceptance.
What do you think:  is this global pandemic an ending or a beginning?

When do you stop listening?
(Photo credit:  Murphy's Law - What It Is and
How to Beat It,

Seasons have beginning and endings.  We celebrate endings and beginnings of each year we are alive.  There is a continuity of nature as fires and floods destroy and then new growth emerges... in its time.
Dialogue is similar:  misunderstandings disconnect our relationships; emotions rage; we cycle through "my version of the story"; and we stop listening.  But, in time, when we notice and reflect on our feelings, a desire may emerge to reconnect, to move away from our isolation, and to listen for hope.  We move away -- or end -- one way of being... and begin again.

What ways do you connect with others?
(Photo credit:  When and How We Talk with People,
Psychology Today

Dialogue -- listening, noticing our emotions, and reflecting on what we understand -- allows us to experience Unprecedented Times... not focused on the pandemic, but on the unprecedented times of exploration, discovery, and healing.
The truth is we must embrace and release Endings in order to see and accept Beginnings.  Are you ready?  You have a choice on how the new year aligns for you.

As we move towards the end of 2020:
  • May we reflect on what we have learned about ourselves;
  • May we seek reconnection; and,
  • May we anticipate the New Beginnings that each day offers.
Happy Endings and Beginnings to you!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)


Sunday, December 20, 2020

Dialogue Ghosts

Charles Dicken's 1843 A Christmas Carol has become a holiday tradition for over 177 years.  Through the book, plays, movies, and cartoons we are invited on a journey to discover our own Ghosts of Past, Present and Future:

  • How do memories and past actions shape our present state of mind?
  • Are we aware of how we treat others now?
  • What choices are we making to improve the future?

Dickens may have been speaking to his society of how the working poor were being treated and the ability of one selfish man to redeem himself.  But, maybe he is still speaking to us today: like Scrooge, can we change our current trajectory to become more sympathetic toward others... and ourselves?


What separates you from your brilliance?
(Bankers Hill, San Diego 2015)

What I have enjoyed about practicing dialogue are the moments when I understand What Could Be.  I don't always get it "right" -- after all, I am an imperfect human being.  But the challenge to reflect light outward -- seeing and understanding the beauty in others -- can be life changing.

The fundamentals of many dialogue practices are focused on three stances:

  • Mindfulness (Active Noticing): developing a clearer awareness and understanding of personal filters.  After all, what we do not notice, we cannot freely respond to or choose to engage.
  • Non-defended Learning:  overcoming our defended ways of fitting in, protecting ourselves, and advancing our own interests.
  • Nonviolence: the ability to relate to the Common Good, where Self and Other is safe while exploring solutions with the freedom to choose without retribution.

Do you reflect your beauty?
(Seaport Village, San Diego 2020)

As Ebenezer Scrooge becomes aware of his treatment of Jacob Marley and the effects on Marley's family, his defended and miserly ways are transformed.  Scrooge begins to share his wealth with others and becomes reconnected to the human family.

Christmas invites us to accept a similar challenge each year:

  • To understand the Spirits of our past and present;
  • To become reconnected to family and friends; and,
  • To free ourselves from the miserly ways of individualism, refocusing on the good of others.

Is it time to crack through frozen memories?
(Glacier Bay, Alaska 2014)

I wonder, as we enter these final days of a COVID-affected holiday season -- where physical distancing and Stay-at-Home orders may have isolated us:

  • Are we able to break through earlier resentments and hurts?
  • Can we think of the needs of others over our own?
  • Will we gift others with curiosity, exploration, and understanding?

May the light and beauty of these holy days inspire us to awareness, learning, and nonviolence.  May we seek to unite and heal.  May we be transformed.


Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Reflections on Rejection

"Mom, he's copying me!"  A repeated complaint when growing up in my family:  younger siblings mimicking older brothers and sisters; wanting to be an individual and independent.. yet
belonging to a family.  If you think about it, our childhood development depended on copying and mimicking the words and actions of others.  Growth and early learning was inspired by the adults and role models we physically looked up to or admired.

To this day I see reflections of my parents and siblings in my facial expressions, mannerisms, and word choices.

How often do we reject before we reflect?
~ Do you see anything different in the reflection? ~

(Reflected beauty, Haynes, Alaska)

As I grew older, I learned how to sift through what I liked or did not like; when I was treated fairly or bullied; how I wanted to become an individual yet belong.  Acceptance and rejection are opposites... but maybe there is a deeper connection to be noticed and respected:

  • The freedom to choose how to act and become.
  • The choice to accept and reject values and actions.
  • The ability to balance individual and Common Good.

Reflecting on rejection may allow us to show up and be accepted as imperfect people.  We are seeking the Beauty Hidden in the reflection, and through the reflection we come to See and Understand the Real.
Have you experienced hidden beauty
in the reflection?
(Baptismal font, Salisbury Cathedral, England)

My Dialogue Reading Group began discussing Meeting the Shadow: The Hidden Power of the Dark Side of Human Nature.  As we talked through the Shadow-Self that we recognize and accept in ourselves, images of children noticing their shadows for the first time surfaced.  In the beginning, children don't understand the connection between Self and Shadow.  There is a period of running away from the shadow, then, in a moment of acceptance, the shadow becomes a playful extension of self.  And... as we grow older... we forget to look at our shadows!  (When was the last time you noticed your shadow following you?!)

I wonder if the same is true for grownups: Do we notice our Shadow-Self?  Can we see connections between what we accept or reject?  Do we understand the Shadow as an extension -- often seen, but sometimes hidden?

How do you see your shadow?
~ Look closely at the child's shadow ~

(Photo credit:  Fun with Shadows, The Learning Child Blog)

So, reflecting on rejection -- those parts of myself or others that we don't want to accept -- I wonder if a transformation needs to take place:
  • Understanding the connection between Self and Other;
  •  Noticing when we run away from what we don't like; and,
  • Learning to play with ideas foreign to us, shadows that linger.

May this week open us to reflections of Copying and Learning, Acceptance and Rejection, Individual and Community.  May we seek transformation to accept ourselves as imperfect people.  And may we puzzle together -- through Dialogue -- ways to accept and play with our Shadows.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)



Sunday, December 6, 2020


Relief!  It's been more than a month since the presidential elections... and no more political ads!  We're back to normal... almost!... with television ads now trying to sell us cars and trucks, insurance, carpets and flooring, deodorants, cosmetics, prescription drugs, and so many other products that promise us happiness and contentment.

In either case -- political or commercial ads -- the volume tends to go up and there is an endless  repeating of words.

What I realized midway through this election cycle is that I have the Power to Mute what I don't want to see or hear!

What do you not want to hear?
(Photo credit:  Digital and TV Advertising Campaigns
Work Hand in Hand, PandoLogic Workforce

Two things I noticed or wondered as I pressed the mute button:

  • How much of the time was allocated towards ads and how little there was of the program I wanted to watch; and
  • How often I mute others in my life: people or ideas that I don't want to see or hear.

The silence was deafening: both with the television sound off... and... not being in relationship with those I disagree with.

What is sacred to you?


As I considered these, I remembered a dialogue concept taught to us early on: the importance of seeing Sacred Worth and Value in each person.  In essence:
  • Can we see our own sacredness and value?
  • Can we recognize others and their Sacred Worth and Value?

It seems that  if we can ask the four questions that Don Juan asked Don Octavio, we might begin to see the need -- and maybe, wantedness -- of Love.

How will you seek what you want?

Though we may be experiencing relief from political ads, I wonder if we are content with filling their absence with commercials that numb us to what we really need?  Or maybe -- through introspection, reflection and awareness -- the Silence Noticed will allow us to choose what we actually want -- and need -- for our relationships:
  • Dialoguing and listening;
  • Being heard and seen;
  • Searching for Sacredness and Worth...
And accepting that Only Love will answer the questions of happiness.

May this season of Gift Giving allow us to distinguish what we really want and need.  May Presents Shared in the Presence of Loved Ones and Friends open us to the gift of Sacred Worth and Value.
Blessings to you, my Sacred Friends and Colleagues!   Your presence is valued!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Duality and Symmetry

Lately, my mind has been reflecting on the duality of being human:

  • We are individuals... but, as social beings, we need others.
  • We are physically anchored to this world... but a Spirit inspires us to become more.
  • We want the best for those we love... but, sometimes, we focus only on ourselves.
  • We celebrate holidays of Thanks Giving... but, as we strive for more, we forget to be thankful for what we have in abundance.

Preparing for this Pandemic-influenced Thanksgiving, I wondered how often I have been thankful these past 10 months... for Stay-at-Home orders; working remotely; or following the health guidelines of my state and county?

Have I seen beauty in these dark moments of Living Sequestered?

Can you still see beauty
in your darkest moments?

As with many holidays, I have been remembering my parents who have been gone for over 11 years (Dad) and 15 years (Mom).  Again, duality:  Living in the Present but Recalling the Past.
Lying awake one evening, I recalled a teeter totter that Dad built for us when we were younger.  My older brother and I would use our weight to keep our younger siblings always in the air.  They soon learned to work together to outweigh us.  We would then use our longer legs to keep them on the ground.  What could they do... but plead for us to play fair... or tickle us so that we fell off!  Duality in play! 

Maybe there are other childhood lessons to help us with today's dualities.  For instance:
  • Sandboxes:  understanding the outlines of where we can play... or not play.
  • Jigsaw Puzzles:  working through edges and shapes to see the emerging picture.
  • Scrabble:  stringing together letters to create words that have shared meaning.

Rather than pleading or squawking when we don't get our way, are there another ways to express what we want or need?

Do you squawk when
you don't get what you want?


With Dialogue, it is important to balance Advocacy and Inquiry.  Rather than focusing primarily on one or the other, we are invited to talk through our position (to advocate) and then to ask or seek input on other positions or ways of thinking (to inquire).  Through the dual interchange of advocating and inquiring, we tickle out a new Way of Seeing through emerging ideas and a new Way of Being by balancing individual and common understanding.
Thinking again about these Pandemic Holidays, do we try to balance the dual natures of individual freedom and common good (e.g., do I wear a mask or not)?  Or, instead, do we immediately resort to our childhood ways of "getting our way"... by pleading, not listening, or relying on our own power.
What would it be like if... we advocated our position... and... openly sought another way of seeing the situation?

Are you grateful for fleeting moments
of inspiration?
(Photo credit:  San Diego Union Tribune, Bill Wechter)

My father's favorite holiday was Thanksgiving and my mother's was Christmas.  Within a few short weeks, both of them celebrated what was important to them:  Giving Thanks and Giving Life... duality! I am grateful for how their lives inspired duality and balance.
May these next few weeks help us celebrate and be grateful for the dual natures of Being Individual and Being Together.  We need both!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Giving Thanks

As I grow older, these fall and winter holidays are filled with memories and added meaning: family time; traditions, food, and good cheer; coming together to renew relationships and share stories of the past year.  I also am aware that sadness and isolation inhabit these days as well: families scattered, Loved Ones passed, and gatherings no more.

And, the pandemic has complicated and changed this year's holidays:

  • Can we safely share meals in person?
  • Is there a way to celebrate Together-Remotely?
  • Am I thankful, even with Loss Experienced?

Am I happy and thankful this year?

What I find interesting about the human spirit is our capacity to:

  • Revive, rejuvenate, and hope... WHILE AT THE SAME TIME...
  • Hold onto our history, past hurts, and the need to be rooted.
It is almost like we are tethered to Who We Were... while reaching for Who We Want to Become... while we live Who We Are... all within the span of now and today.

Who and what have I lost this year?


Giving Thanks and Celebrating Birth at the traditional times of harvest and the darkest winter nights connects this desire to tether and reach:

  • How may I give thanks for past and present?
  • What expectations and desires do I have for the future?
  • Am I stuck in either tethering (past) or reaching (future)... missing who I am now?

Can I share what I am seeing and experiencing?

In many ways the divisions we experience in the world right now can be Seen Within:  we look outward and inward; we live in our pasts and hope (or fear) for our futures.  We are BOTH-AND beings trying to live in EITHER-OR frames of reference.

Over the next few weeks, let's give thanks and celebrate new birth by:

  • Asking questions about one another's pasts;
  • Sharing our hopes and fears about the future; and,
  • Listening -- and learning -- about the person sitting across the table... or miles away on Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, or the phone.

I am thankful for the many people who have shared their lives with me, giving me hope for the future.  IT IS OKAY to be facing other directions, seeing different views.  But the question for us to answer:  are we willing to talk about what we see, experience, and think?

May thankfulness and peace reign in your hearts this holy-day season!


Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Frozen or Missing the Connection?

Our world relies so heavily on being connected: phones, computers, mobile devices...  And since COVID, internet speed and stable video connections have become critical for team meetings, online classes, church services... and Happy Hours with friends!

Recently, a friend and I were having an online meeting when one or both of our images would freeze and the audio would become garbled or would go out entirely.

At first we weren't sure if it was an individual router, if it was system-wide, if it was the video conferencing service...  The list of what could be the problem and how to troubleshoot seemed endless!

How do you know when communication is frozen?
(Photo credit:  Top Icy Faces from Canada's Winter
Running Scene, Running Magazine


But, what was the most frustrating: after we corrected the issue the first time, we assumed we had a good connection and continued with the meeting.... then it would happen again.  We would troubleshoot, fix the problem, assume we had a good connection and continue with the meeting!  After the third or fourth repetition, we stopped and talked through other options.

Reflecting on our situation, we noticed that neither of us said anything early on.  We would become distracted, trying to fix the problem on our side.  We did not immediately tell the other person what was happening.  In fact, on my part I even tried to piece together the part of the conversation I heard... and started filling in the blanks of what I did not hear!

Do you ever wonder what is below the surface?
(Photo credit:  The Largest Icebergs
in History, The Active Times


It wasn't until one of us shared that our connection was freezing and we had missed whole parts of the Story Told, that the Story Untold was revealed:  the issue wasn't individual but was shared.

I wonder:  how often, when we encounter a problem, do we immediately describe what we are experiencing?  Or do we try to solve the problem individually?
After all, there may be more going on below the surface!

Is it time to unfreeze any relationships?

In Moments of Vulnerability we begin to realize our need to:

  • Share what we are seeing or what is happening individually.
  • Recognize that more may be happening below the surface.
  • Acknowledge that a broader solution may be needed to reconnect.

Just think:  if we choose to sit individually with a problem... we just might become cold, wet, and frozen... together!

As winter weather settles in, may we learn to connect by warming up our relationships -- inviting people in, sharing food and drink, and allowing vulnerability to reconnect us!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Facts or...

I've always enjoyed math and science!  There is something reassuring when math problems have solutions, and where we can explore questions about our world.  For me, having some level of trust in math and science became very real this past Friday: I found myself in the Emergency Room!

Professionalism, education, and compassion came together as doctors and nurses provided care and reassurance as they observed, asked questions, and applied their knowledge to my situation.

I am home and doing well, but I am left with many questions about this World Divided, a world needing and seeking healing.

When are facts real?
Click on comic to to enlarge

(Photo credit: Family Circus by Bill Keane, 10/28/20)

For instance, I wonder about:

  • Can we have a dialogue about the facts?  (As Billy asks his mother, "Will two plus two always equal four?")
  • How can we listen to another person's experience... without minimizing that experience?
  • Are we willing to be patient as we explore questions and situations where solutions may be very complex and seemingly elusive?

And, what happens when we receive new information that has the potential to change our perceptions:
  • Are we able to  change our conclusions about that person or situation?

What happens when your definitions are challenged?
Click on comic strip to enlarge

(Photo credit:  Pickles by Brian Crane, 10/26/20)


Rather than readily -- or automatically -- absorbing another person's opinions or social posts, maybe the challenge is to become personally engaged in the process of curiosity:
  • What don't I know?
  • Can I become open towards exploration?
  • Am I willing to Birth the Truth that emerges from our relationship?

How do you adjust your perceptions?
Click on comic to enlarge

(Photo credit  Pluggers by Rick McKee, 10/16/20)

Moving through my ER experience this week, I could not rely on my general knowledge of math and science.  Instead, I realized that healing in my situation required that I trust the people who have pursued medical solutions.  I was not asked to give up my role in my recovery.  Listening to their knowledge and experience, I was being educated on how my life could improve.  I had a choice: am I willing to listen, learn, and heal?
As we move past Election 2020, the Dialogue invitation is similar:  to practice -- to try on -- the attributes of:
  • Humility:  I don't have all the answers.
  • Exploration:  I am open to new possibilities.
  • Acceptance:  I am willing to change my perspective.
  • Loving:  I care for and can show compassion towards all people.
will take place if we work together to build up... rather than tear down.
May peace reign in our hearts this week! 
Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)



Sunday, November 1, 2020

A Reflective Anniversary

Anniversaries can be times for celebration, reflection, and remembrance.  Five years ago this weekend, I began offering this weekly blog about my dialogue journey --  the thoughts and lessons I learned the previous week.  Oftentimes, this journey was with many of you.

I had just returned from the Parliament of World Religions in Salt Lake City: over 10,000 people from around the world gathered to seek understanding and acceptance.  A few weeks before the conference I had finished a 2-year Dialogue Practicum.  It seemed fitting to use a blog format to continue my exploration and learning.

What thoughts color your world?

During the 4-day conference, Tibetan monks created a sand mandala (circle or balance) to celebrate the 80th birthday of the Dalai Lama.  The mandala was created in a public space so that people could watch the design grow as we walked to our various workshops and meetings.

The monks patiently added.. grain by grain... sands of many colors to slowly build a design intricate and beautiful.  At the end of the conference, people gathered to watch this beautiful creation swept away -- never to be seen again.

Are we willing to work together
on a shared vision?

Five years later, I wonder:
  • What thoughts and words have created beauty?
  • Are there actions publicly displayed that have provided balance?
  • Have we patiently listened on our journey together?
And, in this election cycle, can we erase what was created before and rebuild again?

Can we listen... and learn?


In many ways, Dialogue is a celebration of our reflective natures: the ability to slow down and listen; the willingness to become vulnerable when we don't have the answers; and the curiosity to seek ways of being Aware, Compassionate, Free, and Interdependent.
Celebration, reflection, and remembrance are important as each year passes. We celebrate and reflect upon:
  • Our accomplishments
  • What is important and long-lasting
  • How we come together and create balance 

Thank you for what I have learned from you!  Thank you for reading and responding to these posts!  Thank you for providing ideas to explore new Ways of Being Together!


Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Winning and Losing: Whose Side Are You On?

Growing up with five siblings, games and sports could become very competitive.  And throughout elementary and secondary school, we learned what it meant to:

  • Be picked on a better team
  • Earn (or receive) good grades or honors
  • Compete for a trophy or title

Our Socially Constructed Realities (SCRs) about winning and losing were formed by these competitions, being selected or not selected, and who won or lost.  Strength, wisdom, strategy and cunning were rewarded.  Dominance had a place in all of our upbringings.

Who are the Winners and Losers in your life?

What are your definitions of
Winning and Losing?
(Photo credit:  Getty Images)

As I grew older, I found that sitting around the kitchen table playing a game was about catching up with each others lives.  Yes, someone did win the game, but the focus was on being together, enjoying one another's presence, and sharing thoughts or strategies about a certain play.  The competition had lessened: it no longer felt like dominance but togetherness; helping to teach or learn.

Have you experienced a shift in Winning and Losing?

What happens after you win or lose?
(Photo credit:  Winning Together, Atlantic Business)

Entering the last week and days of this Election Cycle, I wonder how our SCRs play out?  Political ads and campaign speeches don't always focus on how to improve our society.  Rather, it seems, the wording and energy plays off of our childhood experiences of dominance:

  • I will beat you.
  • We will win over you.
  • You are losers. 

Rather than using the Winners-Losers polarity,  I wonder what would happen if the Winners (majority) developed a sense of responsibility towards the Losers (minority)?  If we are really united (together) in this American Experiment, wouldn't we want to transition away from beating each other?

Can we achieve our goals together?
(Photo credit:  Fight to the Top - Is Collaboration
the Next Competition?
, The One Brief

The goal of dialogue is to understand another experience, a different understanding, or a common objective.  When we become aware that our Winning-Losing SCRs are in play, the invitation is to notice these learned behaviors... set them aside... and listen with the intent of learning a new way of coming together.  Healing of this dualistic nature could open us to new options and possibilities.

Questions to consider as we accept the outcome of the election:
  • Am I willing to support the people who want to lead us?
  • Can I set aside the dominance-framework (one side has won all the marbles on the playground)?
  • Do I seek healing and understanding as our society moves forward?
May the upcoming weeks provide opportunities to sit at the table -- together -- and catch up on life.  May we listen to the triumphs and failures, the wins and losses, and the lessons learned.  May we seek to understand our common place at this Table of Life.


Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Bridges to Understanding

Do I really understand another person... what is being said; the actions taken; the conclusions made?  It's a question I revisit many times during the week.

I try to understand.  I think I understand.  I try to explain so that I am understood.  But, in the end, do I really understand another person's experiences and worldview?  Am I understood?

What don't you understand?
(Serpent Tree, San Diego, CA)

These questions surfaced as I talked with Ann, a dialogue colleague, who recently went through cochlear implant surgery.  (You may recall an earlier blog, What are We Willing to Unlearn?, where Ann is trying to unlearn her lipreading skills.)

Ann mentioned that her speech is improving because she can hear clearly the words she and others are saying.  Friends are working with her: saying a word while Ann repeats what she heard.

At one point in our conversation, Ann shared with me a profound quote and insight:

"I finally understand why people didn't understand why I didn't understand."

Because hearing comes naturally to the majority of people, they don't understand when someone doesn't hear clearly.

Can you build bridges of understanding?
(Golden Gate Bridge at sunrise)

Think of the times when we see or hear someone:  we were so sure that we understood only to find out later that there was a misunderstanding.  Did we even consider we may not be seeing clearly or hearing precisely?  For me, I automatically assume that I understood and was understood!

It almost takes an implant of humility to bridge what we think we understand and the reality of finally understanding:  the dawning or acceptance that we may not be seeing clearly or hearing precisely.

It is at this point of departure where our questions can bridge the differences between thinking and being:  I now understand what I didn't understand!  I am really curious about what you said!

Where do you want to go?
(Astoria-Megler Bridge, seen from Astoria, OR)

Through dialogue we seek to understand, but the bridge to reality must open us to humility and vulnerability:

  • What don't I know?
  • What am I not understanding?
  • How can you help me?

Bridges of understanding require that we risk crossing gaps in what we know.  The fear of releasing long-held beliefs may keep us from seeking another perspective.  Assuming that we have the answer may keep us from asking questions.

Maybe the challenge for us this week is to "finally understand why people didn't understand why I didn't understand"!

What do you think?

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)