Same Space, Different View

September 28, 2014 at 4:49 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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“The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may also be only the beginning.” – Ivy Baker Priest

When I’m facilitating a program I love to shift where my own and the participant’s focus is throughout the day. Whether it be where I am standing or sitting in the room, which direction or perspective an experience is being undertaken from or the shaped positioning of the participants, I am forever mindful of fostering different views for myself and the participants to support the journey we are individually and collectively on.

Recently when I was running a train the trainer session I was having a similar discussion with the group of volunteers who were planning an upcoming camp. We spent some time at the beginning of the session unpacking what they were really wanting to achieve through their time away. We weren’t looking for buzz words or what they thought they should say or create on a long list of outcomes, what we wanted to do was really drill down into what was bubbling underneath. What I heard and checked back in with the team to validate was they wanted the experience/s to be fun and engaging, they wanted the participants to be learning without feeling like they were ‘learning’, and they wanted the participants to journey from their time together believing in the potential of being change makers in their own lives as well as in their communities.

“Set out from any point. They are all alike. They all lead to a point of departure.” – Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin

As the volunteers moved through the session, including planning the experiences they were to facilitate at the camp, we kept coming back to what they were hoping to achieve. As a facilitator and teacher I understand well the vulnerability experienced within the learning process and the challenges and limitations that can be seen within roles such as teacher/student, expert/novice, skilled/unskilled, right/wrong or any other dichotomy that you could think of. These beliefs of separation, division, attachment and ownership can result in a loss of connection for the facilitator or the participants in particular experience/s, transitioning an individual out of authentic presence, engagement, processing and contribution.

“Is the glass half empty, half full, or twice as large as it needs to be?” – Author Unknown

It was such a powerful experience for us all, reminding ourselves as we went through the session of what was really important to us as individuals, us as a group and how the volunteers thoughts, words and actions in the experiences they will facilitate on the camp will ripple and resonate within the group of young adults. Ideas were expressed, questions were asked, beliefs were challenged, changes were made, previous experiences were shared, connections were formed and then each of us undertook the task of making the planning real and meaningful for ourselves and the group to be supported in the choices for the upcoming camp. Through the complexity of all that was possible came the clarity of where our choices were coming from.

“Be careful how you interpret the world: It is like that.” – Erich Heller

What spaces in your own life could you explore and discover different views? How does wading through the complexity of all that’s possible feel in your daily thoughts, words and actions? How could an ever growing clarity of where your choices are coming from positively impact the difference you can make in your own and others lives?

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Choose Kind

September 15, 2014 at 4:58 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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“When given the choice between being right, or being kind, choose kind.” – Dr. Wayne Dyer

This coming Sunday, the 21st of September, is the United Nations International Day of Peace. I have written about this day in previous years, especially about Jeremy Gilley and the inspiring Peace One Day story. Peace is one of those big words that can be used a lot, with the potential being that individuals and groups become overwhelmed, disempowered or frustrated when they think about all the tragedy, suffering and violence that is shown nightly on the news. So how then can we grow our awareness and appreciation of peace and make it real and alive in our own daily thoughts, words and actions without falling into judgement or waiting on someone else or the world to change?

“We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.” – Dalai Lama

We can choose to foster peace in ourselves and allow it to ripple out from within. Just like all parts of our lives this is a journey and not a destination. I believe a great anchor to keep coming back to on this journey is the quote I have used at the beginning of this post, “When given the choice between being right, or being kind, choose kind” – Dr. Wayne Dyer. This word choice comes up a lot in our posts, we are so lucky that we always have the opportunity to choose within our individual and shared journeys of potential.

“The quickest way to experiencing the peace inside, is to learn to recognize when I am not at peace.” – Jim McDonald

Bringing it back to ourselves is a great place to start. How do we talk to ourselves, is it in the way that we would talk to a good friend or family member? Are we consistently justifying or excusing ourselves from certain thoughts, words or actions because of the context of a given situation, while judging and mistreating others because their particular or perceived thoughts, words or actions in a given situation must be because of character? Is being right and righteous in interactions with self, others or the world around us fostering a deepening of connection in our lives, creating more time, energy, space and interactions for the things that we love? What other questions come up for you when you consider bringing peace and choosing kindness back to begin with you?

“There is no way to peace, peace is the way.” – A.J. Muste

Kindness is not being weak, submissive or insincere. Kindness is, just like the quote above about peace, the way. Kindness is, just like Dr. Brené Brown writes, appreciating and daring to live courageously from a place that we are whole, imperfect and enough. Kindness is an acknowledgement that our daily thoughts, words and actions matter, that we are all capable of making a difference in our own and others lives, and we are all in this together, with opportunities to learn from and choose differently within each new interaction. Kindness is a willingness and openness to honesty, connection, ideas, making mistakes, saying sorry, asking for help or more information. Kindness is creating the time and space to keep growing and stretching within our journeys of potential. Kindness comes from a place of love, understanding that fear may always be there but it doesn’t have to be the the driver for our thoughts, words and actions.

I love the messages contained in the quote below. Although it comes from a book by Joan Halifax called ‘Being with the Dying: Cultivating Compassion and Fearlessness in the Presence of Death’, I feel it has so much to teach us about being while we are living.

“All too often our socalled strength comes from fear, not love; instead of having a strong back, many of us have a defended front shielding a weak spine. In other words, we walk around brittle and defensive, trying to conceal our lack of confidence. If we strengthen our backs, metaphorically speaking, and develop a spine that’s flexible but sturdy, then we can risk having a front that’s soft and open, representing choiceless compassion. The place in your body where these two meet — strong back and soft front — is the brave, tender ground in which to root our caring deeply…” – Joan Halifax

Soar

September 8, 2014 at 6:50 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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“You were born with wings, why prefer to crawl through life?” – Rumi

We can become attached to a lot of things throughout our journeys of potential. Our identity. Our thoughts. External possessions. Other people in our lives. A job title or position. A particular set of circumstances or perceptions. Past experiences. Our fear of a VUCA world or future (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous), just to name a few. These attachments have the potential to become limitations in our lives as individuals and groups. We can forget, temporarily or unfortunately for longer periods of time, who we truly are and all we are capable of being (just like the depiction of the bird at the beginning of this post).

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“There is an eagle in me that wants to soar, and there is a hippopotamus in me that wants to wallow in the mud.” – Carl Sandburg

The quote above resonates on a personal level, as well as through the experiences of the myriad of individuals and groups I have worked with over the years in my roles as a teacher and facilitator in various parts of the world. Which voice we choose to listen to and assist us in guiding our daily thoughts, words and actions more consistently (what we love that fills us with energy, passion, connection and inspiration, or what we fear that keeps us separated, small, hidden and struggling), plays such a large part in how we show up, interact with, and make a difference in our own and others lives each and every day. As Ralph Waldo Emerson states, “Life is a journey, not a destination”.

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“The desire to fly is an idea handed down to us by our ancestors who, in their grueling travels across trackless lands in prehistoric times, looked enviously on the birds soaring freely through space, at full speed, above all obstacles, on the infinite highway of the air.” – Wilbur Wright

That important word in the previous paragraph is choose. As we strive to soar it doesn’t mean we won’t experience challenge, vulnerability, hesitation, uncertainty, fear and all the emotions that we least enjoy in our lives. Instead choosing to soar opens up more and more opportunities to be grateful for our ability to choose connection and contribution in an ever-growing number of interactions with self, others and the world around us, letting go and trusting in who we really are and all we are capable of being. Each small choice acts as a reminder and inspiration for the next, embedding practices and habits in our lives that free us of what has the potential to pull us down.

“The most beautiful dream that has haunted man since Icarus, is . . . today . . . reality.” – Louis Blériot, the 1st English aviator to successfully cross the English Channel in an aeroplane, 25 July 1909.

How is attachment showing up within your journey of potential? Are your choices (daily thoughts, words and actions) coming more consistently from a place of love or fear? In what areas of your life do you find it easier or more challenging to let go and trust in who you really are and all you are capable of being?

Q & I

September 1, 2014 at 4:47 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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“The trouble with life isn’t that there is no answer, but that there are so many answers.” – Ruth Benedict

Over the weekend I had the chance to be at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas in Sydney. I love seeing speakers live and the Opera House provided an amazing venue for the talks I was lucky enough to be apart of. What I was reminded of while in attendance at the event was the importance of questions and ideas, hence the title of this post Q & I, rather than questions and answers, Q & A.

The other week, working with a group of Stage 3 students, I asked them to spend a few minutes contemplating what questions were coming up for them, from class, their experiences in their community or about life in general. It didn’t matter if they viewed the question as big, small or anything in between, it didn’t matter what theme, concept or area the question arose from, the only stipulation was what was bubbling away inside for them. What happened next was inspiring.

The breadth and depth of questions that came flowing out of each individual was incredible. Their eagerness to engage in and share their ideas rippled throughout the room. An energy and enthusiasm was created that carried over into the rest of the day, impacting the way each individual showed up and interacted with various activities and content.

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reasons for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality.” – Edmund Burke

The process still provided moments of hesitancy, like at the beginning some students wanted to check they had done it ‘right’. The process still provided moments of wanting to have and provide an answer, like when some students were sharing their questions others shot out a response to what was expressed. The process still provided moments of judgement, like when some students reacted to certain topics as ‘funny’ or ‘out there’. But in each of these situations, and throughout the whole experience, we kept coming back to what we were valuing and celebrating, each individual’s questions and ideas.

“Everyone who’s ever taken a shower has an idea. But it’s the person who gets out of the shower, dries off and does something about it who makes a difference.” – Nolan Bushnell

So how do questions and ideas show up in your life? Are yours and others questions and ideas valued and celebrated, or is having or providing an answer the most important part of the particular interaction? How could Q & I, instead of Q & A, open up new opportunities in how you engage, share and show up as you explore the possibilities, discover potential and act authentically? As we strive to use our thoughts, words and actions to make a difference in our own and others lives, what role does knowledge and wisdom play within the Q & I vs Q & A way of being?

“… grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” – Reinhold Niebuhr

The photo at the beginning of this post is one I took in East Africa in 2011. The baobab trees that I saw on that trip and in my year in East Africa a decade ago provided me with moments of wonder and awe. The proverb included with the photo reminds us of the questions, journey, inclusivity and connection that is present within the wisdom that we all share, are we as individuals and groups prepared to engage, listen, express, be inspired by and embrace it together?

“Wonder is the beginning of wisdom.” – Greek Proverb

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