Sunday, February 23, 2020

The Importance of One Misplaced Letter

When you become tired, do you sometimes misread a word?  I did recently, and it got me thinking about words.  I misread Mercy as Me cry.  One misplaced letter changed the truth about Mercy!  Is that true for other words?

Our human brain creates meaning and sees patterns.  We justify or debate any position.  And, we can come together... when we choose.

I wonder what would happen if we changed one letter, altered our thoughts or positions, and looked for ways to respect others?

What object does your mind focus on?
(Photo Credit:  Tipping Point, Elizabeth Turk, Catalina Island Museum)

Words have fascinated me since an early age: the ability to form a word by stringing letters together; naming the objects around us; explaining who we are and what we are thinking or feeling.  Word games like Word Search, crossword puzzles, or spelling bees stimulated me to discover new words, to seek patterns, and to understand meaning.  I was even one of those Word Geeks who liked to diagram sentences! (Click on How to Diagram Sentences.)

Recently, I came across Word Letter Change that allows the user to replace one or more letters and change the rules (same order or scrambled).  I began playing with this tool... and discovered a few surprises!

What is seen when you focus on what is important to you?
(Photo Credit:  Tipping Point, Elizabeth Turk, Catalina Island Museum

Lesson 1:  Selecting specific words and changing one or more letters — but keeping the same order — will produce a finite number of words:
  • Mercy: changing 1 letter can produce 9 other words.

    Example:  Mercy is transformed to Merry by changing C to R.
  • Peace: changing 1 letter can produce 15 additional words.

    Example:  Peace becomes Place by changing E to L.
But changing a word like Dialogue requires changing more than 1 letter to get other results:
  • Changing 1 letter produces 0 words. 
  • Changing 2 letters can produce 5 words.
    Example: Dialogue becomes Dialogic by changing UE to IC.
  • Changing 3 letters can produce 8 words.

    Example:  Dialogue becomes Collogue by changing DIA to COL.
    (Collogue means to talk confidentially or conspiratorial.)

What do you see when you change positions?
(Photo Credit:  Tipping Point, Elizabeth Turk, Catalina Island Museum

Lesson 2:  Changing letters and scrambling the order produces many more results — and sometimes, unusual results!
  • Integrity:  changing two letters and scrambling the order produces 470 words... including Betraying (changing IT with BA and then scrambling)

Again, using the word Dialogue -- with the ability to scramble the letter order -- almost explodes the number of possible words:

  • Changing 1 letter and scrambling produces 33 words
    Example: the word Idealogy occurs when U changes to Y
  • Changing 2 letters and scrambling produces 929 words.
Example: Cloudier is produced when AG is changed to CR
  • Changing 3 letters and scrambling produces over 1,000 words just between A and Bluehead!

    Example: Bigotted is formed when ALU is changed to BTT.
    (Bigotted is defined as prejudiced intolerance of the opinion of others.)

these two lessons can help us as we attempt to dialogue with another person:
  • Are we willing to look at the content (what is said) and the order (how we understand)? 
  • Do we realize we may move away from facts and add our own meaning when we are tired and don't pay attention? 
  • Can we see that ideological, cloudy, or prejudiced filters may transform Dialogue when words, meanings, and intentions are not explored?

This week, may we create a peaceful place for dialogue and exploration by considering the words we choose and the ways we engage!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Developing Our Hearing Aids

Life is full of funny stories - contradictions, missteps, and moments hard to explain.  Sometimes it means taking life lightly... and smiling!

A Dialogue Practitioner and friend updated me on her local Community of Practice.  They had been meeting at the conference room of the organization who sponsored our two years of dialogue study.  Due to changes in the organization, they were being asked to pay for the use of the conference room.  Unable to pay, they were without a home after several years of meeting there.

The funny juxtaposition: the hearing aid company next door had a conference room that was available and was offered for their use — free of charge!

How old are the methods you use to listen?
(Photo credit:  Hearing Aid History, Healthy Hearing)

What struck me about this situation is that the dialogue organization they had relied on for years was forced to charge, yet the hearing aid company provided a space for them to continue learning.

I wonder:  how often in life do we rely on earlier assumptions and methods to communicate, not realizing that there may be other hearing aids available to listen more clearly?

Have you tried newer ways to listen more clearly?
(Photo credit: Hearing Aid Types, About Health Care System)

I know from my personal experience with hearing loss and talking to friends who are facing similar challenges, it takes time to realize — and accept — that our bodies are changing.  The youthful clarity of experiencing the world has been dulled by loud events that have exploded into our lives.

After I met with the audiologist who assessed my current state of hearing, it was up to me to decide the best course of action.

Are there ways to implant aids to hear/listen better?
(Photo credit:  5 Myths You Shouldn't Believe
About Cochlear Implants, Cleveland Clinic)

I wonder if we go through a similar loss-acceptance cycle with dialogue:
  • Do I realize that I may not be hearing or understanding another person? 
  • Am I willing to receive — and accept — feedback? 
  • Can I learn new ways to dialogue (sharing, listening, and asking questions)?

Taking life lightly sometimes means becoming aware of moments when we move from dialogue to hearing, from paying to receiving, and from old methods to new.

May this week open us to hear more clearly the stories where Truth is implanted.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, February 9, 2020


I find it amazing how quickly our minds create or find meaning.  And, even more amazing, when we hold onto our conclusions even when inaccurate or incomplete.

A dialogue colleague and friend recently shared an example of this.  All of the major companies have rebranded themselves: instead of longer, more formal names, we now know them as KFC, McDs, FB, or simply their logo.  And with the advent of iMessaging and Twitter, we use abbreviations like: LOL, OMG and OMW.

Darcy came across the letters FOMO, and immediately thought it had something to do with the election year (Fo Mo = Four More Years).  In the context it was given, though, FOMO meant Fear of Missing Out.

I wonder:  do you think fear of missing out drives us to create meaning?  We don’t want to be caught not knowing the meaning?  We need to be seen as knowing, belonging, or being smart?

How often do you wait for beauty to be revealed?

Traveling among the northern lakes of Italy, we came across a white peacock.  Many of us followed it around the gardens, cameras ready, waiting for it to spread its feathers.  We waited... and waited... and waited... Just when it was time to leave, its beauty was revealed as the peacock paraded before us with feathers expanded.

I wonder:   do we miss True Meaning when we refuse to wait for it to be revealed?

When do you let the mists settle to see more clearly?

On another trip, we were driving through the Yukon Territory.  The summer had been extremely hot and dry, and the forest fires were out of control.  The way to manage these remote fires... let them burn.  The distant landscape was shrouded in early morning mists and the smoke which hung over the lakes and valleys.  The beauty and destructiveness combined to reveal the natural cycles of life and death.

I wonder: do we accept the rhythms that define our lives?

Can we just stand in awe without defining it?

How often did you and your childhood friends name the shapes you saw in the clouds passing over?  There’s a dog... or an elephant... or a sheep!  Even as youngsters we were seeking meaning in the abstract patterns of nature.  There seems to be a desire within us to explore, to know, and to name.

By knowing and naming, though, are we seeking to brand or claim our world... to make it ours?  To make it familiar?  To shorten the experience into sound bites and tweets?

I wonder, though:  are there times when we are called to sit with the unknown, to experience the other person without defining or adding meaning or concluding what she or he is like.  Rather than, “ It is ____________ “ or “We are _________” (where we fill in the blanks), maybe our response might be:  It is.  We are.

May this week provide moments when:

  • We don’t have to name or define every experience; 
  • The fear of not knowing or missing out will lessen; and, 
  • We learn to appreciate and value each moment as it is.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Beyond the Shadows

Over the past several years I have been traveling more than normal — for work and pleasure.  As the plane takes off and leaves the familiar scenes of home, I notice I have a mixture of anticipation and curiosity:
  • What will be the outcome of this work assignment or vacation? 
  • Who will I meet that will change my outlook on life? 
  • What lessons will be learned? 

As I stare out the airplane window, I see what is familiar beginning to blend with new sites... and insights.

Can you see beyond your world?
(View above San Diego)
It is intriguing to think that as I move from city to city or meet people for the first time that I am changing:  the person who returns home is no longer the person who left.  How many of us live life with this sense of wonder and adaptability?  I know that I don’t!

It is in these moments of reflection that I realize how much our world changes.  The worries that weigh on me one day are not the same the next.  Somehow solutions, understanding or acceptance have allowed me to let go of what earlier seemed unchangeable.

What is weighing on you?
(Tropical storm over Panama City)
Life is a series of challenges and lessons learned, ways for us to measure our growth.  I find that when I share my observations with others, it opens the door to hear another person's experiences.  Life is not the same for any of us, and for me to impose my world on others is unreal... and unjust.  This form of Living Dialogue allows me to learn faster... and to accept the burdens weighing on others.

Can you see life’s beauty by the end of your day?
(Sunset over Puntarenas Bay, Costa Rica)
Living in San Diego, it is always a special treat to end the day near the beach.  The rhythm of the ocean waves breaking on the shoreline as the sun sets reminds me of the passage of time:  the rhythm of life; the beauty of nature; the invitation to reflect on the goodness of life.

May this day allow us to move beyond the shadows that may darken our paths, moving away from their cool shade, and be warmed by the bright world beyond.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)