Created: Monday, 22 December 2014 20:21
The conversation lapsed. "Now what?" Sis asked in a soft voice Dad couldn't hear. "Were pretty comforatble with silence," I told her. "We sit in silence a lot." We sat in quiet for a few minutes. Then the subject of Mom's memorial came up. That led to shared memories and intimate and meaningful discussion. Beauty emerged out of the space of our silence.
Created: Monday, 22 December 2014 00:10
"Have you said everything to your Step Mom that you need to before she goes?" my sweet friend asked me.
I had. Long before she started her decline, I had felt complete with her. I couldn't think of any words left to say before she passed. Perhaps if she was coherent enough when I got to town and saw her, more words would emerge. Now my heart was at peace.
My first flight out to be with her was cancelled after several hours of delays. I almost didn't make it to Cincinnati on Wednesday. But I booked a different airline and arrived at her room close to midnight. I wanted her to know I was there because I wanted her to know I would be with Dad and Sis when she passed. "Your father will be glad to see you," she said. Those would be her last spoken words to me.
The next morning she was alive, but unconscious. She had declined sharply in the night. We sat by her bed for 22 hours and were with her when she took her last breath.
My showing up sent my last message. It said, "I'm here. We have each other. You are free to let go when you are ready." She was ready in under 24 hours.
It was over. "Goodbye honey," my father told her. We left the room and returned to their senior community and silently shared some apple sauce before bed. Our hearts were tender, but not heavy. It was a beautiful passing in so many ways.
It's an honor to be included in someone's life and even more of an honor to be included when they pass. I am feeling very honored. Dad says the way she passed was her finest hour.
Created: Sunday, 14 December 2014 19:51
Sue was implementing advice I had given her. She used my exact words to tell me the benefits of the practice. Sue had taken my advice one step further, and I learned from her. I didn't mind a bit that she seemed to have forgotten that I was the one who had made the suggestion in the first place.
Sue gave me the reminder I needed. I put my own advice into deeper practice.
One value of sharing your wisdom with others is that it puts them in a position to remind you when you need it.
Here's a great quote from The Pioneer Girls Leadership Handbook:
"A friend hears the song in my heart and sings it to me when my memory fails."
I am blessed by the friends in my life.
Created: Wednesday, 03 December 2014 15:31
I like it when members of my community share posts and slogans and other gems they get online with me. I like it even more when they tell me how they relate to it personally. A personal take on an impersonal forward highlights things I might miss, shows me how knowledge and inspiration are lived (how the talk walks), and helps me know my buddies better. I understand that when people forward something that touches them deeply, it feels personal to them. Yet, it's someone else's words. If people don't personalize their forwards, I often will invite them to tell me what moved them. I sometimes share my own personal twist for the gems they shared with me.
Today I share an online gem with you. The Behavioral Scientist from Vital Smarts "share BS you can use." I love it. This particular post shows how Santa's wording can evoke generosity from the children who answer the age old question, "What do you want for Christmas?"
When Santa follows that conversation by asking what they would like to give someone for Christmas, the children show more generosity in a subsequent experiment about sharing. You can read about it here.
What struck me about the post? Well, the before experiment, where only the "what do you want" question gets asked, gives the impression that the kids are selfish and there is no generosity to evoke. The question about giving for Christmas surfaces a generosity that an observer would assume isn't there. The second, giving question shows that it is.
Like that, when conversations get challenging, it's easy to assume there is no grace to evoke in the other person. We might not even try. Instead, we might conclude the situation is impossible and there's nothing we can do - when in fact a simple shift can alter the dynamic.
You don't know until you try. Yes, like all of us, there have been times when I've concluded the other really doesn't care about me, and any further efforts to find common ground is time and energy better invested elsewhere.
But there have been many other times where, by simply changing the frame or dynamic, I have discovered there is much more to this person than I had concluded from our initial exchanges.
What do you want to give for Christmas?
If you were to forward this post, how would personalize it? What struck you personally?
Created: Tuesday, 02 December 2014 17:16
My birthday guests got high. No - it wasn't the wine. We probably went through a single bottle total. It wasn't the food, either, although a few guests proclaimed their delight at having healthy party foods they could eat. Bob was concerned that the funky looking gluten-free sugar-free birthday cake I made wouldn't suffice, but it was a huge hit.
That wasn't what got people high. It was the didgeridoo fest.
John brought fifteen didgeridoos. He has one, two or three didgeridoos tuned to each key. He showed us how to play and we took it from there. It was quite the cacophony.
The highlight for me was when the cat came in and circled each instrument, settling nearby. Who would have thought she would embrace that?
One of my guests wrote, "I was on such a high from your party it was hard to sleep. I think the didgeridoo lesson really got me oxygenated."
I started didgeridoo because it sounded like a lot more fun than the breathing exercises some people recommended for me. It is.
Breath enlivens spirit. I had a spirited birthday party.
Now my gears are shifting to: how do I want to enliven the Holiday Spirit this year? The inspiration (inspire - breath again) will come to me in perfect timing, just like the idea of a didgeridoo party did. In the meantime, I have bills to pay and filing to do. Grounding is a good thing, too.
Created: Monday, 01 December 2014 16:39
Last week I posted about the value of using a verbal segue before changing topics.
Today I post about the value of segueing from one kind of activity to another.
We had a magical and marvelous holiday visit from my son and charming consort. It included a fabulous and fun didgeridoo birthday party. Thanksgiving dinner was traditional and sweet. Friday we went catch-and-release fishing in a beautiful Colorado retreat. We had a magical week.
The youngsters left Saturday AM. I missed my dance and a tempting sale at my favorite small-business-retailer's shop to give them a proper goodbye. I spent the rest of the day washing sheets and tidying. In fact, I was savoring the experiences. I was segueing into my next chapter.
We tend to pile experiences on top of each other. I think of how my husband used to flip through television channels the second show credits started running. I told him I needed a few moments to segue - to digest the show we had just seen. I don't need a lot of time. Just a moment to transition. He shares that preference with me now.
This is me and my big guy at the didgeridoo party. It's Monday now, and we're back to business. It doesn't feel too abrupt. We're ready because we segued.
By the way, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. The youngsters allowed themselves a day after working before drivingout here from Iowa, and they left Saturday to give themselves some time to segue as well.
Created: Thursday, 20 November 2014 16:31
I once had a dream that concluded that "solving problems is easy when you work at the right level." That's all I remember from the dream, but just that much was powerful for me. One of the reasons I like the communication styles so much is that communication is much easier if you speak at the right level - or in the best style for your listener and the situation.
I had a great time writing a review for the book The Compassionate Geek. I particularity enjoyed mentioning: "Like it or not, IT issues can be emotional triggers." Too many techies see their job simply as a mechanical one. The best techies understand that developing their soft skills is part of the job. You can't solve a relationship problem at a technical level any more than you can solve a technical problem at a relationship level.
We're all a bit like the man with a hammer who sees the world as a nail. My main style is Visionary: I like to express the expansive nature of my spirit. I've had to balance that with my inner Harmonizer, and express the relational nature of my heart and soul. I've had to balance that with my inner Analyzer, and express the logical nature of my mind. I've had to balance that with my inner Achiever, and assert the primal nature of my will.
If you take the quiz, please know it's a work in progress. There hasn't been much outer progress as I've been developing my weaker side by making friends with concrete reality. But the seeds are planted and sprouting. I see style work as powerful and transformative. It's so powerful that I had to stop talking about it and narrow my focus to living it. The outcome will be worth the wait.
Yesterday I wrote about elevating words. They are golden when elevation is called for. So are clarifying words, harmonizing words and grounding, motivating words.
Solving problems is easy when you work at the right level. That's what my dream told me. The dream is just the beginning. I've been exploring that message in spirit, soul, mind and concrete reality.
Where have you been attempting to solve a problem at the wrong level?
Created: Tuesday, 18 November 2014 15:35
It's pretty much an unwritten rule that you don't address issues in email. So why have I been doing just that?
Because I differ. When conversations touch hot buttons and get confused, email provides Space for Grace - space where grace can enter in between the trigger and the reaction. It also provides a record of what was actually said so the people involved can go back and see just where the conversation got derailed. That allows for course corrections at specific points of confusion.
What I don't "approve of" is when people hide behind email. For example, sending an email that states your position and closes with "enough said" is controlling and counter-productive. If I raise a potentially touchy issue in email, I make sure to communicate my willingness and desire to speak in "real-time" - either face-to-face or by phone.
Tomorrow I meet with someone after a series of emails addressing a challenge in our working relationship. The emails have given me the clarity to know what I want and need moving forward and the specifics to prepare to respond effectively should we meet resistance. I have studied the points of confusion and developed clarity. I have studied the points of promise and am ready to build on them. I know what I am willing to accept and what my options are should we not reach understanding.
I told her I believed we could get past this, and I do. As one of my preparation resources, I have immersed myself in the most beautiful song imaginable. It's the Prayer of Saint Francis by Simon De Voil. I recently sent it to a Community Member when she was triggered and she said it "took her out of herself." It expanded her perspective of the situation. It's a great balance to the focused part of my preparation.
You can download the song without charge at Simon De Voil's site. http://simondevoil.bandcamp.com/ I post the simple lyrics below. Yes, it's a prayer. If that's not your thing, I invite you to translate it into a form that can inspire you. Just be sure to do the footwork, too.
PRAYER OF ST FRANCIS
Lord make me a channel of your peace
grant that I can see through my human pain
and still feel loved
And in the darkness
let light be found in there
Lord make me a channel of your peace
we all need to learn to forgive
a few more hundred times
Melt our hatred
let love take root in our hearts
Lord make me a channel of your peace
through my own pain and need
let me learn to understand
Reach through our sadness
let it be joy
Lord make me a channel of your peace
Created: Friday, 14 November 2014 14:49
A Community Member (CM) told me about a situation where she had been blindsided and lost a contract without any previous clues, discussion or signals. I mentioned that the client obviously had not communicated well. CM replied that contract workers don't get to point fingers. CM is wise indeed to take responsibility for the breakdown.
That said, it's also important to notice when someone else doesn't communicate clearly and in earnest. It's part of seeing the reality of any situation. We learn from everything, and one possible lesson in this experience is that things are not always as they appear on the surface. The next step is to explore ways to apply that learning.
Yesterday, I posted about the villain/victim/hero Drama Triangle. I got to experience that dynamic first hand, both from my own slippage and from communication that was heavily laden with villain and victim language. Identifying those triggers helped me separate myself from the dynamic.
There is a trap in the Drama Triangle model as there is in applying any model. What's that?
Models take you into your mind. They are discernment tools, and the shadow side of discernment is judgment. Also, labels create a focus that can obscure seeing things that aren't a part of that label. The person might be reduced to a label.
I am in the midst of a communication challenge with a Service Provider (SP) I prepaid for services. Like a marriage, where there is too much invested to dismiss the other when they trigger us, the prepayment of services is something of a blessing in that not having an easy out inspires us to go more deeply into the issues.
By seeing where SP gets heavy-handed, (invokes the Villain Archetype) and where SP plays helpless (invokes the Victim Archetype), I understand the situation better and can stay conscious of where I might react to those dynamics. I just need to avoid using the model to objectify someone I am in relationship with. Analysis and discernment are a part of the process, but not a center to communicate in difficult conversations.
I balance the clarity from analysis with grace of prayer, visualization and affirmation. I needed to wait to respond until my head was supporting my heart, not running the show. Sp is human, and I need to be centered in my own humanity before taking the next step.
Prayer, visioning, affirmations - there are many ways to balance critical thinking for effective communication. You know what takes the edge off cold analysis for you. Go there before you open your mouth.