Saturday, February 26, 2022

Locked In

While on a Zoom call last week, Darcy -- a Dialogue colleague -- mentioned that a Lock icon randomly appeared on her new monitor over my image.  Though distracting, it did not seem to impact our conversation.  A series of questions began to emerge:

  • When am I locked into my way of thinking?
  • What is the impact on relationships when I don't consider other perspectives?
  • How might I become more aware when I am resistant to your experiences?

When am I locked into my way of thinking?
(Photo credit:  Darcy Wharton)

I don't know about you, but it seems that as I grow older, the information I take in sometimes gets cemented in as Reality, Truth, and My Way of thinking and being.  Family or cultural traditions are familiar -- and safe -- so I cling to what I know.  I return to what is easy and normal.  I don't notice when I am Locked In.  Is it that way with you as well?

Our ability to consider new information is sometimes limited if we don't challenge the conclusions we have made about others.

How might I heal misunderstandings?
(Photo: The Fallas Museum
Valencia Spain, Larry Gardepie)

Therefore, in order to unlock our thoughts -- and feelings -- we must be willing to explain our thought process, how we came to the conclusions and opinions we have.  The willingness to share information -- and to listen to new information -- provides opportunities to reconnect with others.  Generations of ideas that have taken root must be reconsidered.

Can I listen across generations of ideas?
(Photo: The Fallas Museum
Valencia Spain, Larry Gardepie)

Visiting The Fallas Museum in Valencia, Spain, introduced me to the Fallas Festival of this region.  Each year monuments are constructed by local organizations working together to design and build a falla that represents them.  The festival culminates on March 19 with the destruction of these neighborhood monuments by setting them ablaze... but, before the bonfires begin, people vote on their favorite figures.   The two with the most votes are rescued and enshrined in The Fallas Museum.

Working together, creating an image that represents us, deciding what to let go of and what remains... isn't this what dialogue is about?  The ability to unlock our traditional thinking and search for ways that bring us together.

May we become more aware of our locked thoughts and feelings.  May we seek to remove these limitations.  May we explore opportunities that open us to new ideas.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Sitting in Their Place

I don't think I am crazy, but this week I have been thinking about shoes!  Not that I need any more:  I have dress shoes, tennis shoes, and sandals.  Each has its purpose in covering and protecting my feet while walking, relaxing or going out.  The connection between shoes, coverings, and protection took on more meaning after a recent Dialogue Learning Group meeting.

One of our members talked about a practice she uses to pray for and understand another person:  as a person of faith, an educator, and a school principal, she notices when she is having difficulty with a child, parent, teacher, or church goer.  Rather than dwell on the misunderstandings or issues, she sits in their place -- whether the school desk, a classroom, or the church pew used by that person.

How often do you notice other people's shoes?
(Photo:  Sky Tower, Auckland, New Zealand, Larry Gardepie)

As she sits, she prays and listens:

  • What must they be feeling or thinking in this situation?
  • How might I understand their perspective or problem?
  • Can I see and hear differently to overcome what overshadows us?

Have you ever wondered what it would be like
to be someone else?
(Quote:  Roman Krznaric)

Sitting in Their Place
is similar to the adage "Before you judge another person, walk a mile in their shoes."  But, for me,
there is a practical action and a rhythm in Rayleen's practice:
  • Stepping away from my comfort zone;
  • Placing myself in the other person's home turf;
  • Sitting quietly and listening; and,
  • Praying for understanding. 

Am I willing to listen and learn?
(Quote:  Harper Lee)

When I honestly work at my dialogue practice, I experience a willingness to go beyond the coverings that protect me. Empathy replaces my judgments.  Curiosity and questions begin to surface.  The dualities of Right-Wrong and MyWay-YourWay are no longer relevant.

When do I trust and help others?
(Quote:  Manuela McFee)

Like young children who tried on the clothes of siblings or parents to see what fit, maybe:
  • We can try on the coverings that other people use to protect themselves.
  • We can look in the mirror of another person's eyes to see the connections that bind us.
  • We can accept the life and struggles that define the human person.

Whether "Sitting in Their Place" or "Walking in Their Shoes," we are Called to Change.
May we pray for relationships, blessings, and peace this week as we sit together.  May we seek to understand.  May we find a willingness to change.
Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)


Saturday, February 12, 2022

Out of Control: A Miracle

I get whacked out when a series of events go out of control all at the same time:  the domino-effect of pieces not falling into place and life becoming more complicated.  Recently, there were several weeks when everything seemed to go wrong: roof and woodwork needing repairs; online password file becoming corrupt; bundled media services on the blink; fan not working... and to top it off, the batteries in the flashlight needed to be replaced!

I don't know why, but I am always surprised when friends and work colleagues can put things back into perspective for me!  Sometimes it's as simple as sharing what is happening.  Other times I need to be nudged by a kind word, a question, or an inspirational quote.  It's the interaction of reaching out and inviting someone in that provides a pause for me to let go and accept another way of looking at a situation.

What do you do when life feels like it is falling apart?
~~ Click on photo credit link to watch video ~~
(Photo credit:  Top 5 Weirdest Dominoes
Falling Game, Viral Maniacs

Reflecting on my agitated state and mood, I wondered why I ever thought I had control -- or wanted to take control -- of the situation.  Normally, it takes awhile for my patience to be pushed to the breaking point.  But, when I get into a negative mood that spirals downward and my inner self is saying, "This is not you!", I need someone else to help me refocus.

That is what happened:  when my Dialogue Learning Group met, the facilitator shared a quote from Mary Davis about gratitude and miracles.  At first I couldn't feel any gratitude or see any miracles in my list of projects to complete.  As people shared what was happening in their lives, I realized how small my issues actually were.  I was focused only on my problems, the smaller pieces that make up the whole.  I needed to pull back and see the larger picture.

How often do you focus on the small parts
forgetting the whole picture??
(Photo credit:  Brick Bending, Jeff Sanders

Yes, what we contribute to our families, friends, and work colleagues is important, but it is the balance of recognizing their contributions and importance that is equally important.  Learning to surrender our self-focused control, holding lightly to what is happening, and allowing the dominoes to fall allows us to creatively work together on common solutions.  (And, as the domino video from the first photo shows, we can have fun along the way!)

Having a roof, the ability to protect my online systems, the fact that I have entertainment equipment, a fan, and batteries... with gratitude I now see the "thing" and not the "problem."  But gratitude continues when I realize there are people to help me through these problems: the roofers, carpenters, online technical support, family, friends, and colleagues.

Where do you find gratitude?
(Photo:  Sea of Cortez sunset, Larry Gardepie)

I am grateful in my incompetence as others with competence reach out to help!

At the end of our learning group meeting, Rayleen (the facilitator) asked us to consider a revision to Mary Davis' quote:

Through the Eyes of Gratitude Everyone is a Miracle.

May we begin to see the miracles in our lives through the eyes of gratitude!  Everyone -- and Everything -- has sacred worth and value.

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, February 5, 2022

Trust in Beginnings

Today's thought:  I remember the warmth and comfort of my sleeping bag!  My family would go camping on weekends and vacations.  There was safety in being together, gathering in the tent after dark, and snuggling down into the sleeping bag.  Memories of warmth, safety, and comfort...  that is, until one morning when I was a Boy Scout!

I woke out of a sound sleep, my sleeping bag twisted from my tossing and turning.  I was bound, trapped within the tangled sleeping bag.  I couldn't get out by myself:  I needed to ask for help.  With my head peaking out of the bag and my arms pinned in various positions, I was embarrassed, especially when people wouldn't believe me that I couldn't unravel the mess I was in.

Where do you find safety and comfort?
(Photo credit:  source unknown)

To this day I find it uncomfortable to be in tight places.  The memories of being trapped, unable to escape, needing to ask for help.

Aren't there similarities as we practice our dialogue skills:

  • Being tangled in our thoughts and actions;
  • Feeling trapped by preconceived conclusions; and
  • Needing help to see beyond the narrow perspectives we have safely placed ourselves?

I wonder if it's time to start something new:  to trust in beginnings -- asking for help to understand.

Is it time to start something new in your life?
(click on image to enlarge)
(Photo credit:  Mutts, Patrick McDonnell, January 1, 2022)

It seems that moments of safety and comfort can also cocoon us into a false sense of security.  We become isolated from the movements that encourage us to connect with life beyond our limited views.  Asking for help to unravel our tangled thoughts provides opportunities to trust one another.  Our renewal comes when we step out together, and when we realize that vulnerability becomes our strength.

What beauty do you see in your life?
(Photo: Sea of Cortez Sunset, Larry Gardepie)

Asking for help can be quite subtle, almost simple:  "What do you think about...?",  "I am not sure I understand...",  "This is what I know...  Do you see it any differently?"  These questions invite the other person into adding information or options we might not have considered.
There is humility in stepping back and letting go:  we can clear up any misunderstandings between us... or... at least, identify where we disagree.  Now, the magic of beginnings: allowing the Beauty Within each person to be released from the enclosures we have trapped or hidden them.

May your beauty shine!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)