Saturday, December 31, 2022

An Unwritten Year: An Immense Responsibility

We stand at the end of another year: minutes ticking by as we anticipate 2023; waiting to revel in new beginnings; ready to celebrate... what?  If it weren't for the calendar year changing and our traditional or cultural expressions of Endings and Beginnings, I would wonder WHAT are we celebrating?

After all, look at our responses these past few years to COVID, our political divisions, and our social unrest!  Are we celebrating these... or the desire to be released from them and begin anew?

Are you experiencing turbulence in your life?
(Photo: Storm at Sea - Larry Gardepie)

I don't want to be too negative on this final day of 2022, but I am trying to understand why we think things will be any different next year if...

  • We make resolutions that we don't intend to keep, or
  • We aren't more civil and understanding to one another, or
  • We don't put thought and time into changing the turbulence in our lives.

After all, there are individual and social responsibilities in starting anew:

  • Accepting our role in past misunderstandings.
  • Realizing that change cannot happen without self-transformation.
  • Creating a better future that begins with each decision we make.

Where can you create beauty?
(Photo:  Rouen Cathedral,
Rouen, France - Larry Gardepie)

As I reflect on this past year -- those areas where improvements are needed -- and what I want to accomplish during this Year Unwritten, I yearn to discover beauty, seek peace, and work towards harmony.  I don't need to give up what I believe in or my value system.  Instead, I must stay open to the opportunities that present themselves: seeing people as Gifts Unopened and Surprises Awaiting.

How will you build peace and harmony?
(Photo: Two Bridges, Dartmoor National Park,
England - Larry Gardepie)

Walking along a mist-shrouded roadway to take a picture of Two Bridges -- where the guide told us about the bridge and most people stayed on the roadway to take their pictures, I chose to wander off-course down the incline... and was surprised by a new perspective of the bridge's reflection in the serene waters below.
Being willing to go off-course, allowing biases and prejudices to soften, and anticipating a surprise will create an experience much different than if we remained where everyone else is rooted in what was told to them.  I can discover beauty...  I can seek peace...  I can work towards harmony... if I am willing to change... and expect to be surprised.
May this New Year invite each of us to go off-course enough to move past turbulent times and reflect new beginnings in our hearts and minds.

Blessings to 2023!


Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Trying To Be

I have always admired people who see what is happening: not the ones who can tell me the details of what is visually obvious but the people who seem to understand what is going on below the surface.  How do they do that:  Seeing to Understand?

I wonder if it is similar to people trying to differentiate between Doing and Being?  I tend to stay busy, focusing on deadlines, producing, wanting to improve a situation.  I guess it crowds out the time I could be present to What is Happening Now!

Who are you trying to be?
~~ Click on image to enlarge ~~

(Photo Credit:  Pearls Before Swine,
Stephan Pastis, December 2, 2022

With the holiday busyness drawing to a close, I also wonder if have a missed the Spirit of the Season?  The Giving and Receiving of Christmas allows us to pay attention to another person's needs and wishes, but how often do we truly understand what is happening below the surface:

  • Why is that gift important to the person?
  • Does the giving symbolize my love and caring?
  • Am I trying to fill a space that no gift can accomplish?

It seems that sometimes the recognition of our Aloneness is what is important.

When do you feel isolated or alone?
(Photo:  Mazatlan Beach - Larry Gardepie)

There are times that just sitting with a friend is all that is needed.  Or listening... asking questions... not talking to hear my own voice but being present to another person's anxiety, worries, or pain.  I don't need to rush in and save.
 Sitting and being present may be the oasis that allows the giving and receiving to go deeper, allowing underlying thoughts and feelings to surface.  Now the real work of understanding occurs:  trying to be... present... authentic... accepting and understanding... human.

What does it mean to be present?
(Photo:  Puerto Vallarta Beach
- Larry Gardepie)

Another thought:  have you noticed that media outlets tend to use the week between Christmas and New Year's as a review of what has happened during the past year:  key stories; triumphs and tragedies; awards received?  Now might be the time for our own self-reflection:
  • Do I lean more toward Doing or Being?
  • Am I more comfortable with Giving or Receiving?
  • Do I Understand What I See or See to Understand?
I guess the ultimate questions are:  What do you want from this New Year?  How will you be present more fully?  Are you willing to change?
May the next few days allow peaceful moments with Loved Ones where you can share what you are noticing, ask questions to understand, and listen to what is happening below the surface.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Valuing Time, Health, Family and Friends

When I was younger, I never really thought about time... or my health... or Loved Ones.  These were always present:

  • I had enough time to do what I wanted.
  • I was relatively healthy and took care of myself.
  • I kept in touch with family and friends.

Now that I am older, things have changed:  I am aware that time is limited; a few health issues allow me to consider... that time is limited; and several Loved Ones have died and are no longer present.

What do you want to change?
~~ Click on image to enlarge ~~
(Photo credit:  Don't Forget, Madalyn Beck)

Maybe that's why I am learning to appreciate the "little things" in life.  A few months ago I came across an art display where someone took small books, ripped out or tore pages, and added miniature objects to create a scene that matched the book's storyline or theme.  How creative!  The ability to re-imagine -- to see differently -- and invite us to experience something deeper than the status quo.  Ingenious!

Where have you been creative
in your concern and love for others?
(Photo:  Book Art, Betty Pepper, Holland America - Larry Gardepie)

In the same way, wouldn't it be wonderful if we focused our limited time and well-being on those around us?  That is, look for little ways to show our appreciation and how much we value family, friends, and work colleagues.  Rather than repeating the storyline we have become accustomed, we could rip out what keeps us separated and add in objects that spotlight the value already present.

How might you express what you value?
(Photo:  Towel Swans - Larry Gardepie

In my limited time on this planet, I have come across many creative people  who have simply and ingeniously expressed care and compassion to others.  They refashion normal objects that bring smiles to others.
As we move through these final weeks of another holiday season and calendar year, may we consider ways to re-imagine how we use the limited time left to us:
  • Acknowledging and understanding the current storyline we tell ourselves;
  • Encouraging different ways to approach life together; and,
  • Valuing healthy relationships with friends and strangers we share this planet.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, December 10, 2022

Who Stole What?

Holiday music and Christmas specials are filling the airwaves, jostling for our attention as we navigate this post-COVID "new normal" world that we live in.  San Diego's Old Globe Theatre is presenting two favorites, "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and "Ebeneezer Scrooge's BIG San Diego Christmas Show" -- favorites that draw in children and adults alike.

Memories of Christmas Past bubble up at this time of year:  family and friends, darkness and cold weather, festive lights and inner warmth remind us of what we have... and may no longer have.

What do the holidays mean to you?
(Photo credit:  How the Grinch Stole
Christmas, Dr. Seuss)

The Grinch and Scrooge teach us of the transformation that can happen when we listen and consider:

  • Why we remember important moments in our lives;
  • The role family, friends and community have in shaping our beliefs; and,
  • How we want to live and respect other traditions and peoples.

These stories suggest that even the meanest and most cold-hearted can change.


Where are we chained to in the Past?
(Photo credit:  Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol)

But even in the midst of this holiday cheer, there may be feelings or struggles that challenge us:  the frenetic energy and busyness of getting everything done; comparing What Was with What Is and wanting more; or missing people who are no longer physically present.  Sometimes an emptiness pierces our well-being, reminding us... that we are human!

Is there a way to pierce the darkness
with Light and Goodness?
(Photo credit:  Rare Cosmic Event
Beamed Light to Earth...,

What I have been learning at this holy time of year:
  • Be Kind... to Self and Others.
  • Listen and Consider... that we are all doing our best.
  • I -- and We -- have Sacred Worth and Value.

Happy Holidays (Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day,
Ōmisoka/New Years) as we celebrate Light, Birth, First Fruits, Gifting, and the Sacred in our world!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, December 3, 2022

Accepting What Is

This week has been about Acceptance... of information received; of what others have experienced or are experiencing; of what I cannot control... and Choice.  That is, accepting what is and making a choice on how best to respond.

Earlier in the week I had a conversation with a family member.  We talked about how we were raised, our family memories, and who we are now as adults.  We are no longer those younger siblings who grew up in the same house together.  We have changed.  (I want to believe we have matured!)

A few days later a childhood friend notified me that he has been diagnosed with advanced prostrate cancer.  I sat with his texts, recalled our childhood antics, and asked how I might be a friend.  His responses were uplifting as he shared his love for family, his faith in God, and his trust in the medical professionals.  He seemed at peace with the challenges before him.

How might I accept what is happening to a family member or a friend?

How do you approach stormy days?
(Photo credit:  Charles Schultz)

And today, another friend texted about losing his "dream job" unexpectedly and with no reason given. 
For several days he has been trying to understand why it happened and did he do something wrong.  As we texted, I sensed a struggle between trying to understand and acceptance, questions that cannot be asked and answers not given, despair and relief.  Were these his struggles or mine?  Maybe with the holidays coming up, this was a Gift to be with his young family as he took care of himself and them?

How might I listen and be present when Mystery Remains Unknown?

Can you see beyond what is happening?
(Photo:  Morning Fog over San Diego Bay
- Larry Gardepie

It seems that Life Happens... in very unexpected ways... and then we have a Choice in how we will respond.  It's not fun being moved off-course of plans and aspirations we desire, but maybe the lesson is more about letting go, accepting, and being tender with ourselves as we consider... What comes next?...  How do we survive?...  Will we be okay?

Towards the end of our text conversation, my friend said that each of his last few jobs have been better than the one before.  And, he concluded, maybe the next one will be even better!

How might I listen for Hope and Surprises?

What choices can you make?
(Photo:  Carnival Panorama - Larry Gardepie)

Listening, asking questions, being present, and trying to understand opens us to the possibility of What Is... Next.

Maybe it is time this week for us to accept what is, know that we have the power to choose, and Expect to be Surprised!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Who We Are Becoming

Each of us is formed by family and cultural traditions, national identity and holiday celebrations, education, religious beliefs, and factors that present themselves in our separate timelines.  We live our individual lives... with many similarities... but with just as many differences... as those around us.

When major events happen, our memories are galvanized around those events:  Do you remember when humans first landed on the moon?  What were you doing when you heard the news that Princess Diana had died?  Did you see the World Trade Center's Twin Towers collapse?

What memories are impressed on who you are?
(Photo: 9-11 Memorial, New York City - Larry Gardepie)

Each generation has its own defining moments: the Great Depression of the 1930s, Pearl Harbor in 1941, World Wars I and II, the assassinations of President Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Senator Robert Kennedy in the 1960s...  We are shaped by and identify with many events.

These thoughts were going through my mind as I stood at the 9-11 Memorial in New York City:  the footprint of the two towers defined by the names of world citizens who died that late summer morning over twenty years ago, the sound of water falling into these acre-sized Monuments to Time.

Are there symbols of who you want to become?
(Photo:  Liberty at Sunset - Larry Gardepie)

I wondered about other Footprints Impressed on each of our lives as we try to understand the diversity and common unity of being human:  what we share; what binds us together; and what separates us.  At times we need national or universal symbols or leaders who point the way to our "better angels" as Abraham Lincoln described in his first inaugural address in 1861.

Symbols that remind us of the freedom to choose, to accept, and to support.

What illuminates your life?
(Photo:  New York City at Sunset - Larry Gardepie)

As I reflect on who I am as a person and who we are as a nation, I wonder where we are headed... in essence, Who are We Becoming?  We can remain on autopilot and follow the direction from others or we can choose to participate in this Action of Becoming:

  • Do I choose to be generous with my time and resources in helping others?
  • Can I illuminate the dark or unknown paths by sharing what I know?
  • Will I listen to other perspectives and engage in curious inquiry?

As we answer these individual and communal questions:

  • May we recognize the footprints of family and friends in our lives.
  • May we understand the impressions we make on others.
  • May we choose to become the Better Angels of our time.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, November 19, 2022

That's Not Me

Have you ever looked in the mirror and not recognized yourself?  What do you say?  For example:  I feel young inside but there is now an "older man" looking back at me!  I think, "Is that really me?"

These past few years I have seen my Dad and my brother in the mirror -- facial expressions, mannerisms, smiles, a twinkle in the eye... all reflections of me and others.  But, is that really me?

What is hidden behind what you see?
(Photo:  "Do Not Go Beyond Guardrail" sign,
Kauai, Hawaii - Larry Gardepie)

I might accept that I am getting older and acknowledge a family resemblance, but recently I had a different experience with the mirror:  my dermatologist had me apply a cream that burned the pre-cancerous cells on my face and scalp.  The first few days were like a bad sunburn:  the face peering back from the mirror was still me but was red and sensitive to the touch.

A week later sores and blotches covered most of my face.  Inwardly, I still felt the same person but outwardly I couldn't recognize myself.  I thought, "That's not me!"  It was the mirror's reflection that reminded me of the changes that had occurred in the past few weeks: the outward changes were due to the cream that I was applying... but was I the same person inwardly?  Had I changed in how I viewed myself?

Do you believe everything that people say about you?
(Photo:  Bubble Gum Alley,
San Luis Obispo, California - Larry Gardepie)

I attended several Zoom sessions and public events during these "face peeling" weeks.  Except for the burning and itching, I could overlook what I looked like... after all, I still felt the same inside.  But people would ask:  "Are you okay?", "What happened?", and "Is the situation serious?"

I began reflecting on the images we take on... self-imposed or other-imposed:

  • How do I define myself?
  • What do I accept from others?
  • Do I see only "skin deep" or am I willing to look more closely at who people really are?

What distorts the beauty that is present?
(Photo:  Honolulu skyline - Larry Gardepie)

What have I learned from this "face peeling" treatment?  I am more aware of perceptions, opinions, and outlook.  I notice the difference between superficial aspects of my life and core beliefs and values.  I am grateful for friends who mirror or reflect back theories that I espouse but may not live fully.
And finally, accepting treatments to heal cancerous aspects of our lives is a good thing -- even when there is sensitivity and pain: that is, removing what distorts our inner beauty allows us to engage more fully with those around us.

May we recognize this week the "That's Not Me" moments as we accept the "This is Me" in Self and Others.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)


Saturday, November 12, 2022

What Must We Leave Behind?

Immigration -- legal and illegal -- is a political "hot potato" that has been discussed -- or rather, argued about -- for most of my adult life.  I don't know if there are any easy solutions, especially as more people are suffering from drought conditions, natural disasters and violence.  Our reasoning and language seems to center on definitions of We-They, feeling safe or not, and the Unknown brought into our planned lives.

Religion and Politics -- those two topics we are told not to discuss! -- intersect as people grapple with what it means to be human and protecting national identity.

What can you not leave behind?
(Photo:  What We Bring, Ellis Island
- Larry Gardepie)

These thoughts were going through my mind as I walked among the exhibits on Ellis Island recently.  One room displayed clothes, jewelry, family heirlooms and religious objects brought from the lives being left behind.  It was interesting to learn that most steerage class immigrants could only bring one bag or suitcase with them to the New World... and yet these were the items they could not leave behind.

Another room showcased paper money and coins that were exchanged for the legal tender of this new country they wanted to call Home.

Objects attached to family and faith.  Objects of necessity and the future.

What are you willing to exchange?
(Photo: What We Leave Behind, Ellis Island
- Larry Gardepie)

Some walls had photographs of family members left behind or the family that became U.S. citizens.  As immigration moved from a Topic Argued to Stories Enlivened ("lived in") of hopes and dreams or rejection and loss, I noticed that our shared human story of Becoming Better and Wanting Good for our families took root in my hardened heart.  My views began to soften.

I wonder if part of our struggles with immigration are the questions that are required of us:

  • How do we define who is "foreign" and who "belongs"?
  • What will become of me and my family when Others are introduced?
  • Will I have to change in order to accept?

Who are you becoming?
(Photo: This is Who We Become, Ellis Island - Larry Gardepie)

Dialogue requires us to risk... letting go.... leaving behind... and dreaming together of a New World... of understanding... acceptance... and beginnings.
Yes, we can hold onto what is important to us -- but risk requires us to talk about and display those objects we consider important.  As people become aware of what is of value to Self and Other, dialogue then invites us to listen and consider another way of thinking.  Finally, landing in this new world of listening, considering, and thinking anew asks us to exchange what is necessary to move forward in this new life together.
Walking through Ellis Island allowed me to understand the connection we have with individual family stories and the common nature of humanity:  the universal Need to Belong.
May this week open us to conversations that migrate us from older understandings and beliefs to a new world of hopes and dreams to explore.... together.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, November 5, 2022

System Update: The Message

Monday morning... and the messages began to arrive:  each of my "smart devices" had to be updated; new security settings needed to be installed.  Agh!  There go my plans for the day!  I felt out of control as I heeded the warnings and downloaded and installed new software on my iPhone, iMac, Apple Watch, and MacBook.

Maybe the message today was meant to awaken me to my dependence on devices -- which were meant to make life easier!

What beacon of hope do you have?
(Photo: Statue of Liberty, morning
light - Larry Gardepie)

Throughout the morning, as I struggled to update and test my systems -- which then meant that other applications also needed to be updated and tested! -- memories from my recent vacation surfaced:

  • The days at sea where I could relax and be disconnected;
  • Entering New York harbor and seeing the Statue of Liberty at daybreak;
  • Encountering immigrant stories at Ellis island.

Each of these events and memories allowed me to update my personal messages and socially constructed realities (SCRs) about relaxation, freedom, and arrival.

Where are you challenged and evaluated?
(Photo: Ellis Island - Larry Gardepie)

For instance, as our ship passed Liberty Island in the early morning darkness, the Statue that symbolizes freedom and a new life for so many people rose through the morning mists.  Hundreds of people on the ship's bow became silent, a sacred moment of hopes and dreams descended on us.
Later in the day some of us toured Ellis Island, the gateway for millions of steerage class immigrants to their American dream.  In a few minutes their hopes of becoming Americans would be realized or dashed.

My thoughts about immigration, freedom and justice were challenged on this tour.  Up to 5,000 people were processed each day, and in a six-second evaluation people were categorized as fit to become an American -- or not.  I wondered how many seconds it takes me to pass judgment on another person?

When were you not accepted?
(Photo credit:  Ellis Island, Registry Room
- Ellis Island Foundation)

As I downloaded, installed and tested the new features on my smart devices, I began to consider personal updates that needed to be tested in my life:
  • When do I feel safe to share my thoughts?
  • What dreams are dashed by another person's opinions?
  • How might I slow down my judgments about other people?

Each day introduces us to messages that test our plans and belief systems:  what we want to accomplish; how we approach others that day; adjusting what is important.

May we look forward to the updates that help us this week to change our perspectives.


Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Our Challenge: Looking for Good

Do you think that we are wired to find fault in others or to be critical of situations where we are not in control?  Maybe it’s just our human nature to constantly improve our environment:  we need to see what is wrong in order to fix or improve.  What do you think?  It does seem that our world is hypersensitive or overcritical right now.  I wonder why?

Recently, I came across a quote attributed to Joan Chittister:

“Hope is not a matter of waiting for things outside of us to get better.  It is about getting better inside about what is going on outside.”

This shift from outward judgment to inward reflection might be important as we move forward in our lives together.

What is your outward and inward focus?
(Photo credit:  Tiny Buddha)

Maybe it’s a matter of both reflecting backward and hoping forward that allows us to get beyond the barriers that limit us from moving beyond our self-constraints.  It’s like being in a moving vehicle:  looking forward, towards the destination… while at the same time looking in the rear view mirror, seeing where we have been… and what we may have missed.

Using another illustration or image: the waves behind a ship mark the disturbance created when the ship moves forward.  I find it interesting that this disturbance is called a “wake!

Looking back at the wake, what did you miss?
(Photo:  Looking Beyond Barriers - Larry Gardepie)

As we move forward, it is important that we awaken ourselves to the disturbances created in our relationships.  Noticing any disruption, upheaval, and violence allows us to wonder what happened and how we might move forward in a better way.

Once we notice the “wake” we have created, we have a choice on how best to maneuver forward.

Can you see beauty beyond the darkness?
(Photo: Sunset at Sea - Larry Gardepie)

We have an issue or obstacle, though: moving away from our hypersensitive and critical natures. Similar to the Pay It Forward movement a few years ago, maybe we can encourage one another with a Looking for Good” Challenge.   That is, how might we:

  • Discover the goodness in others rather than their faults?
  • Highlight the positive instead of the negative?
  • Expect and celebrate successes over failures?

Maybe our challenge is to catch people in sacred moments of Grace and Goodness: the disturbances of the past propel us towards ways to understand and anticipate holiness and wholeness.  Isn’t it time to want, ask, and expect more in our time together on this planet?

What do you think:

  • Is it possible to look for goodness? 
  • Will you join me during November, our Thanksgiving month, to accept this challenge… to look for goodness in yourself and others?

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)


Saturday, October 22, 2022

Carving Out Beauty

Alaska is amazing!  Its grandeur, rugged beauty, and the dynamic nature of our world in transition.  All of these add to the wonder and awe of its sights, sounds and smells.  It challenges how we exist: learning to adapt; staying in relationship; accepting what is.

Marveling at Marjerie Glacier in Glacier National Park, we learned that the ice calving (breaking away into icebergs and ice flows) today originated as snowflakes on Mt. Fairweather thousands of feet in elevation and hundreds of years ago.  The river of ice has been moving and shaping the valleys below for millennia, reaching down to the inlets that greet and accept the ice and water it delivers.

A cycle of life that originated as snowflakes; merged into compressed ice; moved, shaped, and carved out lands that became fertile homes for birds, animals, and humans; then returned to the life-giving waters that feed our oceans.  And the cycle continues with the snowflakes of today!

Can there be movement in icy relationships?
(Photo: Marjerie Glacier, Glacier National Park
- Larry Gardepie)

Up until recently, I appreciated ice cubes for keeping my beverage cold or salving a burn, and I enjoyed snow for its beauty and winter activities.  I hadn't considered movement and creation as part of an icy, cold world.

I wonder what movement might happen when relationships go cold or we close off friends and family because of the cold shoulder, icy stares, or frigid behavior?

When must we stand above the normal flow of life?
(Photo Denali, Alaska - Larry Gardepie)

We are sometimes called beyond the normal or daily movement of our lives to risk breaking away or falling into a moment when ice meets water, and we melt and merge into the larger gifts of creating wonder and beauty.  Like snowflakes that have compressed over time into seemingly immovable ice, maybe our transgressions and hurts have become rigid over time and need to be released into something new and beyond the natures of snow and ice.  Maybe we are called to flow with grace and wonder!

How might we peak through what hides our beauty?
(Photo:  Gastineau Channel near Juneau, Alaska
- Larry Gardepie)

Some moments in life seem unclear and unapproachable.  But, even in the darkest moments, don’t we yearn for an ending and hope for a new beginning?  Don’t we seek to be seen and understood?  Don’t we want to peak beyond the shroud that hides Us from Them... to see and experience We?

Through forgiveness and reconciliation we can begin to see beyond the veils that separate.  Through dialogue and understanding we can realize there are many ways to live.  Through carving out the rock that roots us in one place we can learn to see beauty in creating a place for all of us to live.

Blessings and peace to you this week as life moves us to a moment when we accept one another’s beauty!  May we stand in awe at the Grandeur and Sacredness within each person!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)