Saturday, December 30, 2023

Sunsetting Another Year

Do you prefer Beginnings or Endings: the excitement of starting anew or the completion and finality when a project or a book draws to a conclusion?  Both have their ardent followers!

Think of the person who is very creative and begins several projects but never finishes... or... the person who is dependable and ends tasks on time and under budget.

Do you see the beauty in endings?
(Photo:  Sunset over Sea of Cortez - Larry Gardepie)

As we enter the last few days of this calendar year, we don't have to choose between the two!  Whether we like it or not, the rhythm of time draws us to end one year and almost seamlessly we enter another.  Similarly, we watch the sun set over the horizon at the end of one day and wait in anticipation for it to rise again the next day.

The difference?  Depending on where we are standing, we must shift our attention from one horizon to another.

Time continues.  We are called to follow.  We are invited to change our stance to release one and accept the other.

How do you experience the rhythm around you?
(Photo: French Polynesian Sunset - Larry Gardepie)

We do have choices in the rhythm of our days and years alive.  We can choose:

  • How we approach the rising and falling of our hopes and dreams.
  • Whether we engage with young and old who share their experiences and insights.
  • If we look with curiosity on the unknowns of tomorrow or next year.

And, we can make a choice in our thoughts and attitudes towards those we disagree:  we can search for ways to release and accept.

What freedoms light your way forward?
(Photo: Statue of Liberty at Sunset - Larry Gardepie)

The freedom we have in Endings and Beginnings is our ability to Redo... Rethink... Reengage when we don't understand.  That is, we can:
  • Redo: by asking someone we hurt if we can reword what we said earlier.
  • Rethink:  by listening to and questioning the arguments that were put forward by us and others.
  • Reengage: by agreeing to stay in relationship and work towards an understanding that we are not the same... and that is okay!

May we use these next few days to reflect on our past year.  May we accept responsibility for any pain we may have caused.  May we look at the beauty of the rhythms of Life:  our ability to Redo, Rethink, and Reengage.

Happy Year Ending!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, December 23, 2023

A Season of Hope

Only a few days remaining before Christmas...  now the worries set in:

  • Have I forgotten anyone in the gift-giving and cards?
  • Are all of the preparations enough?
  • How will I pay the bills in January?

With all of the beauty of the past several weeks in the music and decorations, we sometimes don't relax and enjoy this season.  I wonder why?

How do you enter this holy season?
(Photo:  Christmas Colors - Larry Gardepie)

Several years ago I began to disengage from the hustle and bustle of these holidays:  partly because my parents both passed away in December; partly because I was tired of the pressure to live up to memories.  I began traveling: to be close to friends; to see something new; and to reunderstand the Reason for the Season.
I wanted to believe again in the miracle of these holy days.

What do you believe in?
(Photo: Believe Christmas display, Macy's Union Square,
San Francisco - Larry Gardepie)

To believe again... not necessarily in the Santa, elves, and reindeer stories but the wonder and hope of Waiting.  This season is intertwined with the belief that God chose to live among us, the prayers of each expectant parent for a safe and healthy birth, and the dark winter months giving way to light.
I wonder... if we believe in God-Among-Us, how do we explain the pain and suffering in the world?  That is, do we treat others knowing that they -- and we -- have Sacred Worth and Value?

Is there reason to hope?
(Photo: World Tree of Hope,
San Francisco City Hall 2016 - Larry Gardepie)

On one of my travels, I came across the World Tree of Hope (click link to learn more).  That year it was in San Francisco's City Hall.  This year it is at Grace Cathedral.  This tree is a symbol of hope, uniting the world in prayer and wishes for a better way of life for all.

As your family and friends share gifts and time together in the next few days, I wonder if it is appropriate to begin a dialogue about:
  • Your concerns or worries;
  • Your hopes and wishes; and,
  • How you will help change this hurting world.

Maybe this season is about how we give birth to hope.


Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, December 16, 2023

Time to Decide

Whether hosted by the legendary Monty Hall or the fast-thinking Wayne Brady, contestants have been asked over the decades to choose between Doors 1, 2, or 3. The hope is to make a deal and receive the big prize; the risk is ending up with a dud!

For me, the entertaining aspect of this show is how people dress and conduct themselves throughout their time on the show.  Sometimes when we are asked to decide, we act in uncharacteristic ways!

How do you respond when there are multiple choices?
(Photo credit:  How to Help Clients Who Have Difficulty Making
Decisions: Increasing Tolerance of Uncertainty
, New Harbinger Publications)

As a project manager, I learned how to be organized and methodical.  Work colleagues would comment on how efficient I was and always seemed to be multiple steps ahead.  But if they only knew!

In Real Life -- any non-work aspect of being home or with friends -- I can be very indecisive.  Often, I will ask others what they want to do... without a thought in mind of a plan or what I would like to do.  It can be a challenge when no one can decide on a restaurant or movie!

Do you have a defined decision-making process?
(Photo credit: 7 Steps to Effective Decision Making,
UMass - Dartmouth)

This sense of driving a decision -- or being driven by a decision or by others -- can create unintended conflicts between people.  It's as if we always want to make the Right Choice, be rewarded with the Best Prize, or be recognized as smart, intuitive, or lucky.  We fear failing or being left with The Dud that no one wanted.

The fun aspect of decision making can be in the risk: the challenge is how we respond to the choices we have made.

Is time on your side?
(Photo credit:  The Power of Decision Making,
Edward Mungai - Inspire Leadership)

In reflecting on my project management days, the best decisions made were grounded in:

  • The time spent in talking through the options;
  • Their impact on the end-goal; and,
  • What was best for that moment in time.

And, if time was available, we could adjust the decision to accommodate the less-than-perfect choice made earlier.  In other words, we didn't frame our decisions on Right-Wrong or Best-Dud.  We focused on talking through a decision everyone could accept and being willing to adjust our thinking.

Let's make a deal this week:  when asked to make a choice, let's open all of the doors by talking through each of our hopes, dreams, interests, and needs... and make a decision on what is best for all of us!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, December 9, 2023

Dead Ends?

Christmas music and decorations before Thanksgiving?!  It's sometimes a jolt to our daily lives when we realize how close the end of the year is -- especially as the weeks of holidays spanning from October through December rush past us with their sense of urgency in meal preparations, gifts to purchase and wrap, and putting up the decorations that make these fall and winter days so festive.

November and December hold many memories for me:  traveling home; family gatherings; reconnecting... and the last days with each of my parents.

Who can you no longer talk to?
~ ~ Click on image to enlarge ~ ~
(Photo credit:  Pearls Before Swine, Stephan Pastis, 12/03/23)

We travel this life expecting or wanting there to be no end, living each day with the assumption that the next day will follow... and our loved ones will be at the other end of the phone line or text message.  We wait for a reply... until there isn't one.

Even years after my parents' deaths I still reach for the phone to tell them of what's happening in my life or look in my Inbox for Mom's latest email with a cartoon or joke.  (Throughout college, she would mail me news clippings and comics that meant something to her, helping me to stay connected with what was happening at home.)

Like Rat in Pearls Before Swine, we now get along... and we want to tell them what we have learned.

What is at the end of your road?
(Photo credit:  The End (of the Road),
Olli Kekäläinen)

I don't mean to be maudlin or bring the festive spirit down.  Rather, I am reminding myself how important each day is and the conversations that we have... NOW.

Along with sharing the details of what has happened throughout the day, isn't it just as important to tell:

  • Our family members: how much they mean to us?
  • Our work colleagues: how much we appreciate them?
  • Our neighbors and community leaders: how they impact our lives?

Can we see beauty even in dark times?
Mazatlán Sunset - Larry Gardepie)

As we move towards these December holidays, let us balance our preparations by:
  • Putting behind any jabs and negativity.
  • Acknowledging that many of our hopes and desires are similar.
  • Realizing that others may be just as tired, scared and confused as we are!

Also, may we reconnect by enjoying this limited time we have together!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Saturday, December 2, 2023

Here Comes the Judge!

When the days get rough and uncertain, I tend to watch comedy shows or lose myself in the Comics section of the newspaper.  Sometimes the ability to distract ourselves is the way to survive the harshness of any situation.

Oftentimes, though, comedy and comics shed light on the Real World we are trying to escape:  humor lightens dark moments; we learn to laugh at ourselves; and a different slant on The Real allows us to see differently.

What do you choose to believe?
~ ~ Click on image to enlarge ~ ~
(Photo credit:  Pearls Before Swine, Stephan Pastis, 11/04/23)

I was thinking about this a few weeks ago after I read Pearls Before Swine: Rat revealed how he uses select Bible verses to judge others and avoid feeling bad.  Rat's question to Goat -- 
"Is there another way to read the Bible?" -- might be asked of us in a more general way:  "Is there another way to read this situation?"

As my mind wandered, I thought back on Sammy Davis' comedic routine on the Rowan and Martin show of the late 1960s:  "Here comes the judge!" (Click on the link to see Sammy.)  It was a light-hearted way to look at judges, judging, and decisions.

How often do you play the "Blame Game"?
(Photo credit:  The Blame Game, Free by the Sea)

I wonder if the harshness I experience in this world can be attributed to how others -- and I -- judge others?  Maybe our Blame Game creates an atmosphere where we are always watching -- and waiting -- for Scapegoats, The Fall Guy, or He (She) Did It.

We have so many ways to describe The Other and The-Problems-They-Created!

What skills have you developed to listen -- and not judge?
(Photo credit:  What is Active Listening and
How Can You Improve This Skill?
, Coursera)

As I listen to the comedian or return to the Comics, I find that I relax and tune in with a different mindset and heart.  I slowly smile, chuckle or laugh o
nce I identify with the situation and the punch line.

Though we all have a Judge-Inside who wants to come out, maybe our challenge this week is to relax and listen with a blame-free attitude:

  • Ready to hear differently;
  • Waiting for the punch line... a twist on The Real; and,
  • Willing to laugh at ourselves and our "Here-Comes-The-Judge" moments.

 What skills have you developed to listen and not judge?

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)