Saturday, September 25, 2021

Forever Touched

Having grown up in the Salinas-Monterey coastal region of California, our perennial field trip in elementary school was the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary in Pacific Grove.  Gazing up into a forest of trees, all we could see were the gentle brown flapping of "leaves" -- not realizing that we were seeing the underwings of  thousands of butterflies.

We learned about their seasonal migration from Canada-U.S. to Mexico, and how we were connected to these delicate co-inhabitants of this planet.  Monarch butterflies were in our backyards:  they were neighbors traveling through our young lives.

In what ways are you being transformed?
(Photo: Monarch butterfly caterpillar)

It's been disturbing to read about the Monarch's plight these past years:  their numbers have been reduced drastically.  Scientists and researchers are worried about whether they will survive.  To help, we have been encouraged to plant milkweed in our yards - one of their sources of food.  It's not a plant that you want to get attached to!  The Monarch caterpillars devour the milkweed leaves to the point you only have stalks left!  But the leaves come back quickly, waiting for the next round of caterpillars to ravage the plant again!

A delicate cycle with a fragile balance in our partnership with nature.

How can you impact the world?
(Photo: Speckled Wood butterfly, Costa Rica)

I was reminded of this childhood fascination with the Monarchs when traveling in Costa Rica a few years back.  Part of our guided tour was through a rain forest sanctuary for butterflies.  The local people protect the rain forest and have created an eco-business based on sustaining life.  I was impressed at the knowledge and passion our guides had for their neighbors.

I recalled the Butterfly Effect defined in chaos theory: how small changes can lead to large-scale and unpredictable variations across the world.

Are your relationships webs of inclusions?
(Photo: spider web, Costa Rica rain forest)

Dialogue and relationships seem to be endangered in today's divided world.  We are quick to cling to our opinions and conclusions about others.  We label and make decisions based on differences.  We don't always protect an environment that feeds patience and understanding.  We sever ties with our neighbors when we disagree.

Seeing the brown underwings of the Monarchs as a child did not reveal the true beauty of the orange-black neighbors that graced our yards.  Instead, we had to learn the connection between the two, and we had to be willing to plant milkweed to sustain life.

What would happen if we allowed each other room to be transformed, to migrate to new places of understanding?  What action can we take -- no matter how small -- that will affect others?  How can we be forever touched by the beauty of our relationships -- the ups and downs of both sides of the whole?  How can our relationships create webs of inclusion rather than trapping and killing another perspective?

What are ways that we can nourish and sustain our neighbors?


Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, September 19, 2021

This Too Shall Pass

Have you ever had a week where each day is moving toward an activity or event you are not cherishing?  A medical procedure or treatment.  A quiz or exam at school.  A report or presentation where you are nervous and uncertain of the outcome.  An uncomfortable conversation that needs to occur.

Time steadily marches forward as anxiety, fear or dread overshadows every moment.  The primary focus is on what will happen... what will go wrong.  Eventually, we may move towards acceptance... "This too shall pass."

It is as if our mind, body, heart, and soul are struggling for dominance... the human spirit trying to understand and Hope Beyond.

What do you see coming at you?
(Photo: Caldor Fire, California)

Last month my brother and his family had to evacuate their home for several weeks because of the Caldor Fire.  Friends and loved ones took them in, giving shelter and comfort during an unsettling time.  For days, the only connection to the "physical home" were the security cameras that tracked the fire's progress and the efforts of first responders and neighbors who protected the neighborhood.  Home truly did become "where the Heart is" as security and support surrounded them.

Several years ago I was on a tour of Iceland.  Our group walked through the rift between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates.  It was humbling to walk between two walls of the Earth's crust that had been thrust upward from the destructive energy of clashing plates.  There was comfort in walking through this divide... as a group. 

Who walks with you through the rifts in your life?
(Photo:  Thingvellir National Park, Iceland)

The ability to walk together through dreaded life events may be the important lesson of this time period.  We don't have to journey alone.  Sharing our fears, listening to and comforting others, becoming Vulnerably Human... these may be the dialogue skills that allow our mind, body, heart, and soul to heal.

I relearned this lesson first-hand these past several weeks as I decided to retire and was dreading an upcoming event.  Uncertainty, fear, projected outcomes, and anxiety keep me awake at night and preoccupied my days.  Talking to a friend... and allowing that friend to reach out and walk these journeys refocused what was important.

How can you see beyond?
(Photo: Ocean Scene, Inside Passage, Alaska)

To be honest, it is sometimes difficult to be honest... with myself!  Why do I dread confrontation?  Why do I become nervous with the unknown?  Why do I put off the inevitable?

Reflecting on past events that seemed so negative and dominated me for days and weeks, each turned out better than I expected!  When will I learn that these moments bring growth and a wider perspective?  When will I learn that "This too shall pass" -- and enjoy the journey and surprise at the end?

The rift between mind, body, heart, and soul oftentimes requires the energy of togetherness to realign us:  the ability to see beyond the current moment, seeking comfort and security together, and moving toward the Inevitable Goodness that pervades life!

May the challenges of this week lessen as you share your concerns with others.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Seeking Direction

One week into my retirement and I am still in transition!  After a few days away, I found it difficult to return home.  I am finishing a project for my former employer and have a few consulting assignments to organize, but the daily routine of what to do when is no longer the same.

The habits of a lifetime have suddenly been altered with the decision to retire.  What direction shall I go?  What is important today?  How shall I use my time?

Where do want to go?
(Photo:  signpost, Los Angeles' Sister Cities)

All of these decisions are in my hands... as they always have been!  I am noticing, though, that when I was working every day, I was probably relying on autopilot: knowing what to do, what meetings to attend, and how to prepare.  As my skills and knowledge expanded, I added other tasks to my routines and patterns.  Once comfortable with the expanded workload, I sought more challenges.  Change happened, but it was subtle and hidden in the daily workload.

How interesting to be at that time in life where so many of those habits and practices have been erased... waiting to be rewritten with today's surprises, choices, and decisions!

What paths have you chosen?
Which have been erased?
(Photo: beach on Coronado Island)

Was it the familiarity of the autopilot that produced a false sense of security and direction?  Maybe my current understanding of retirement and transitions could have happened earlier:

  • Noticing the daily choices that are ever present;
  • Consciously making decisions that bring life and connection;
  • Seeing the bridges that need to be crossed.

It might be that awareness and choice are keys to the transitions we face each day.  Turning off the autopilot and observing.  Having the courage to make choices.  Being open to change in ourselves and others.

Can you see the bridge of connection?
(Photo: Penelope facing San Diego-Coronado Bridge)

The foundations of Dialogue invite us to notice, to pause, and to choose.  Through the interchange of ideas, opinions, and conclusions, we begin to understand:
  • Who is important in our lives;
  • What values bring direction; and,
  • How we want to stay connected and in relationship.

We cannot do this reflection alone.  Dialogue requires a willing partner!

As we begin each day, may we become more aware of the growth and evolution that occurs with each encounter.  May we be willing to change, allowing the other person space and time to adjust.  May we seek bridges of connection and directions toward acceptance as others change as well.


Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Retiring My Judgments

Over the past several months I have been considering retirement.  I enjoy my work colleagues and friends, and I am challenged by the work I do... so why retire?  With this ongoing pandemic and the fluctuations of what can be done safely, I have noticed that my attention is often distracted by home projects and other interests.  A decision I have put off several times was finally made: I retired from being an employee this past Tuesday!

Watching my parents make this decision is one thing.  Going through the process yourself, though, is much different!  Reviewing your life's journey becomes very personal:  dreams and accomplishments; the value brought to the work environment; whether or not your contributions have been valued; understanding what is lasting and noticing what is important.  These are individual and intimate to each person.

Where do your thoughts take you?
(Photo: Portland, Japanese Garden)

The first few days of transition have been similar to the days preceding:  new routines haven't set in.  Instead, I have noticed an internal letting go of deadlines, a different sense of time.  It's almost like the first few days of summer vacation as a child when you can sleep in!  And the question "What do I want to do today?" takes on new meaning:  the structures of work hours and job responsibilities no longer govern the day's framework.

What I have noticed the most, though, is the gentle clearing of self-image and worth.  I believe that I have fought against being defined by my jobs or career, but I have to admit that these judgments were the container or filters in which relationships were formed.  You are interviewed and hired for a specific need; you perform your tasks as competently as you can; and along the way people begin to see the person behind the job.

What do you see when the the mists clear?
(Photo:  Mendenhall Valley, Juneau)

In this transition, I am beginning to understand the importance of letting go, accepting what is, and using time to pause and consider a new path or response to life.  The facades or shells that form our initial impressions of one another must be let go.  The judgments that limit us to Right/Wrong ways of thinking need to be reviewed... and maybe dismissed.  My fears of incompetency, not having the answers, or not fitting can be relaxed.

Where can you relax your judgments?
(Photo: South Beach, Avalon, Santa Catalina)

The gift of transition is the ability to move further into the Journey of the Heart: discovering the True Self; accepting the True Other; appreciating and encouraging people in the moment; and releasing any fears that keep us separated and alone.

We don't have to wait until we retire from our work.  We can retire our inner and outer judgments right now! 

May we celebrate the transitions in our life.  May we retire the judgments that confine us and limit others.  May we appreciate the one life we have and the one journey we travel together.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)