Sunday, March 28, 2021

Dialogue DNA

Okay... I think I'll blame it on COVID!  Why not?!

Over this past year, I have been slowly cleaning out photo albums and boxes that have been untouched for years: images and memories of early childhood, elementary school friends, high school activities, college adventures, and career path wanderings.  Stories forgotten and re-remembered... and now, decisions of what to keep, give away or toss.

Isn't it amazing when we have the perspective of Time Past to glimpse our Story Anew, the slices of time we have occupied so jealously.

How do you see the world?

Journeying backwards I became interested in my ancestry.  I have memories of my maternal great grandmother and grandparents, my paternal grandmother, aunts, uncles, cousins, my parents and siblings, but beyond that I recall only sketches of my extended family's path through time.  Slogging through birth and death certificates, census records, and military registration forms, additional information has surfaced: outlines and shadows of Lives Once Lived.

A recent interest has been DNA research: I discovered a nationality I never knew or heard about in family lore.  Do we ever fully know what makes up this person we see in the mirror each day?

What influences your decisions?
(Photo credit: Collection of Genetic Data
Leads to Privacy Concerns, The New Economy

This personal remembering and exploration has allowed me to wonder about the Dialogue DNA that is also a part of my family's story:

  • What we talked about... or did not;
  • How we listened... or did not; and,
  • When we sought new ways of thinking and being... or did not.

Are there ways to see and respond differently?

~ Click on image for a larger view ~
(Photo credit: Ladder of Influence,
based on the work of Chris Argyris

Have you ever noticed that the images of the twisted strands of chromosomes look similar to the Ladder of Inference:  one determines our make up; the other interprets what we see and experience.
Through DNA studies, I am learning that each strand of life has an imprint that links me to Family Past.  Dialogue studies help me to realize that I imprint meanings and conclusions -- filtered through family, culture, education, and lived experience -- onto the present and future.
Time Past hides our story.  Exploration and reflection opens the Story Anew.  The Dialogue DNA imprinted on us requires that we talk, listen, and explore new ways of thinking and being.
May this week inspire us to clean house and rediscover the Family We Are.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Dialogue Unmasked

Remember how fun it was to dress up for Halloween?  Transforming our everyday appearance into images of fantasy, fright, or fun?  I wonder if there are others moments where we dress up and masquerade as someone else?

Think back on parties, events or work where you are asked to step away from yourself and come as a different person.  I dread some of those interactions:  it feels like I am judged by how creative or dull people see me.

I have come across many places where masks and costumes are part of the culture:  the Beefeaters (ceremonial guards) at the Tower of London; revelers in New Orleans' Mardi Gras and the Venetian Carnevale; and palace docents in Vienna or Honolulu.

Each has a variation on hiding behind or changing into another appearance.

How beautiful are your masks?
(Photo credit:  Venetian Masks Tradition -
The Real Beauty of Carnevale, Life in Italy

These examples of mask-wearing transform us temporarily into other people.  I wonder then about the acceptance or resistance of wearing masks to protect us from transmitting or catching the COVID virus: what does it say about our Real Person?

What are we hiding behind?  What do we fear?  How are we being judged?

What is behind your mask?
(Photo credit:  Alex Iby, @alexiby, Unsplash)

These are a few of the questions we might consider as we remove masks that keep us from experiencing our True Self.

  • If we project strength at all times, do we fear our human weaknesses?
  • If we transmit confidence, what happens when we don't know what to do?
  • If we appear all-knowing, is there something we need to learn?

Can we unmask ourselves safely?
(Photo credit:  Coronavirus Mask Parade -
Diverse and United,

Through dialogue -- noticing, sharing what we see, and asking questions -- the masks that hide and falsely protect us are removed.  We begin to see beyond the masquerade that we have it all together.  Instead, True Self to True Self shines light on the beauty that already exists -- hidden behind the mask that has dimmed who are are.
Rather than  create a projection of another persona, the Mask Removed allows us to explore the mystery of the Person Already Created.
Though COVID masks are  still needed to protect against COVID, I wonder if it is time for us to remove the masks that transmit viruses of doubt, fear, hatred, and intolerance?
What masks are you wearing this week?

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)



Sunday, March 14, 2021

The Blessings of Anniversaries: Part 2

As I continue to reflect on a seemingly Lost Year, I have wondered and explored lessons I have learned about myself and others.  I appreciate hearing the insights you have shared with me... where you have learned to:

  • Grow in faith and trust
  • Live one day at a time 
  • Anticipate a less frenetic lifestyle
  • Focus on the quality of engagement in the present moment
  • Become less silent when it comes to injustice and bullying
  • Invest time in listening
  • Work hard on taking care of my health
  • Draw closer to my loved ones
  • Work in my garden
  • Help others grieve with all we have lost
  • Welcome being humbled, more compassionate and caring
  • Appreciate milestones that mark the Passage of Time
    ("Is it already time to take out the garbage?!")

 It seems that even in darkness, we hope for light and beauty!  We seek to learn and become.

What has brightened the dark days of this pandemic?

If we have learned so much about ourselves, others, and the relationships that are important, is this really a "Lost Year" then,?  Maybe not!

Over the last few weeks I have reviewed the photos I have taken this past year.  Though these photos do not number in the thousands as in past years when I was able to travel, the 2020 photos focused on the local beauty of my city and county, loved ones and friends, and the simple aspects of my life.  Life is special!

What beauty have you noticed this past year?
I also notice that I am comparing previous years and experiences... What Used To Be.  It is as if the comparison will validate what I know or have experienced:  I want to connect the dots and bring value to my current situation.

I recall a rafting trip down an Alaskan river several years ago.  We learned the importance of working with the river, using the oars to guide our direction, and working with the energy of the river.   Being in the raft gave us height above the river, allowing us to look ahead and anticipate our next move.

When have you controlled the direction of your life?

But this COVID year has thrown us into the River of Life, where we are no longer in control.  Maybe the lesson is to flow with the changes that are happening.

This thought reminded me of a younger self that liked to body surf the river: a life preserver kept me buoyed above the water.  Our guide taught us to face forward, trust in the life preserver, and position our feet forward in a half-extended position.  When approaching an obstacle, the feet would take the impact, retract, and then help us to bounce back in the direction we needed to flow.  I found this flowing so much more fun than controlling the river raft... but, being in the river, meant I could no longer see farther ahead.  It seems that we have a few choices to make in the weeks and months ahead:  control versus flow; anticipating versus accepting.

As we consider this next week, maybe we could:

  • Loosen our need for control;
  • Practice flowing with the present moment; and,
  • Position ourselves to trust the lessons, values, and experiences that preserve who we are - compassionate and caring people who desire the best for everyone.

Please continue to share your thoughts and reflections on this one year anniversary:
  • When have you controlled?  When have you flowed? 
  • When have you trusted?  What obstacles have you bounced off and survived?

May this next year deepen the lessons we are learning.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, March 7, 2021

The Blessings of Anniversaries: Part 1

Have you noticed that in normal news cycles a major story stays on the front page or receives headline attention for only a few days... and disappears over a matter of 2 or 3 days.  The emergency and its impact may remain, but the newsworthiness has lost its power to attract and retain attention.  It slips from our consciousness.  We move on.

Maybe its the losses we've experienced this past year or the scope of this crisis... this COVID Story just won't fade away!  Many people want to move on; some states are loosening their restrictions: people want to return to normal... but the story remains!

And now, along with the daily telling and retelling of this Viral Unfolding within our lives, we have arrived at several anniversaries:

  • The first known case
  • The first case in the United States
  • The first deaths
  • The first Stay-at-Home / Safe-at-Home / Lock-down directives
  • The first surge

How do you celebrate anniversaries?

In my family, anniversaries have centered on reflection and celebration.  I have noticed these are the filters through which I am trying to understand these COVID anniversaries: reflection and celebration.  But something is unsettling to me about celebrating these milestones.

Rather than finding fault or blame for where we find ourselves, these filters are asking different questions of me:

  • How have I changed over this past year?
  • Do I focus more on the negative impacts on my life or the positive responses of adapting?
  • Where am I thankful?

As I reflect and try to celebrate, I am aware that my impatience and intolerance obscures what I see and feel.  I want to move on to the next story!

What obscures your view?
Mike, a dialogue colleague and friend, mentioned that this past year has been like a retreat: being able to slow down, walk on the beach, meditate, and reflect on the good in his life.  He also said that he is noticing some resistance to "returning to normal."

What fills you with gratitude?

His comments -- along with my anniversary filters of reflection and celebration -- have me wondering:

Would you be willing to explore with me...

  • Ways that I (we) have changed?
  • What I (we) are grateful for?
  • Our vision of the world after the pandemic?
I'd appreciate hearing your thoughts and experiences.

May we reflect on and share what is important.  May we seek headlines that inspire and draw us together.  May we celebrate Lives Lived... Lives Lost, and Lives Who Remain.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)