from keep your goddam hands to yourself to empathy

The terrible sexual assaults in Cologne are reminding me of some experiences I have had, so I thought to do a nonviolent communication exercise on one incident here. Two things to note: 1. This isn’t a serious incident, but if reading such things causes you upset, please don’t read further. 2. I am not saying that this exercise will make everything better for people who have experienced sexual assault or sexism. No. I do find that doing this exercise creates a safe mental space for me to think about a situation, about how to address it in a powerful way. And I also experience a sense of peace, these are the potential benefits I am suggesting. Continue reading “from keep your goddam hands to yourself to empathy”

What to do with my Christmas ambivalence

Yes, I would love to appear all sweetness and light but I am Christmas-ambivalent. I like shiny sparkly things, but when I see tinsel and lights I wonder what this display is costing the environment? Gifts can be great when given from the heart: they can be an expression of love of recognition of who you are and an acknowledgement of what is alive in you. But so often it seems to be a ‘check off the list’ activity. And something that is demanded of me. Worst of all I love my family but am not looking forward to seeing them all at once… shouting over the top of each other, asking mean questions like “so where are you travelling to this year?” when they know I can’t afford to travel. And they compete over the behaviour and characteristics of their children. And talk about politics! Continue reading “What to do with my Christmas ambivalence”

Nonviolence – With horses!

I just arrived home from a few days horse riding and camping at *Nash Horsetrekking it was a lot of fun and also a wonderful opportunity to see nonviolence in action – with horses. Continue reading “Nonviolence – With horses!”

shame redo

we were at a pub, a big group of us in a nice place, having fun, joking, laughing and a man we did not know who appeared to be drunk appeared at our table. he made some comments about my friend’s appearance. it wasn’t nice. we ignored him and he persisted and after a bit the only man in the group attempted to change the topic and encourage the stranger to return to his friends. one of the pub staff appeared and gave the stranger a look so he walked past our table and to the bar.

but now the mood had changed. there was a bit of discussion about how nasty that was and we hoped they were not going to keep serving him at the bar when clearly he had had enough. but this did not dissipate the discomfort i ( i suspect all of us) were feeling – i  was feeling very uncomfortable and bad for my friend who had been the target of the comments. why hadn’t i said or done something to make the man go away? i felt frustrated but mostly ashamed of my inaction.

i was feeling vulnerable, and wanting to be safe and maybe being quiet, not engaging with him was the right or most effective thing to do, to have him move away as quickly as possible. but i wish i had expressed myself, i wish i said so she could hear as well as him, that she..’is my friend. she is smart and very kind and funny and looks out for us, and we all care for her very much and when you make comments about her like that it hurts us all.’

i guess i don’t really care what he thinks and i don’t suppose she does either. but i think i would be happier in this moment if i had said something like that. because in the end there just are people that blow in and out and say things but it’s how we respond that matters. and maybe the opportunity wasn’t just to meet a need for safety and have the guy leave but to demonstrate to her that we care, that she is one of us.

 

 

 

my ‘first home’

About a year ago I asked myself what it might take to be a first home buyer – and buy a beautiful and affordable home for my family. I now know the answer. It takes a lot.

It takes dedication. Hours of driving and viewing houses that we had no intention of buying, months before we were even ready to buy to get a feel for different areas, and for value. Watching prices go up and seeing the difference between what people asked and what they received (often a big difference!)

It takes persistence. Dealing with a bunch of people all with their own agendas: agents, bank managers, solicitors, and then with the bank itself! Plowing through paperwork, providing what they ask for, asking questions and more questions because everyone speaks a different language, and even though the words sound familiar they have a different meaning. Forms!

It takes communication skills. I have used all the nonviolent communication tools, all the Landmark Education tools, all the conflict resolution skills I have. I have never been so stressed, wired, anxious, high, excited, fearful and probably all the other emotions as well in my whole life. Trying to reconcile our needs/wants and budget. Following up with the bank when they missed a deadline – and not making a mess of the fabulous manager who sorted it out for us. Fending off agents trying to sell us things that were nothing like what we wanted. Keeping it together for the kids who were plowing through their own studies and needing some sense of home right now.

And finally, it took a community. My husband dealt with the solicitor when I had to go to work (that stuff is usually firmly in my domain!) My daughters cooked and cleaned and no doubt they all did stuff I have not even noticed. My extended family were great too, I got plenty of empathy and sympathy too 🙂 My workmates were fabulous as well – so caring and understanding, especially in the past month as a heap of dramas unfolded.

It takes a lot!

And here she is. A little Queenslander cottage in very tall boots! We move next week.

first_home

Back in the habit… I hope!

Ok, I got out of the habit of blogging while getting into the habit of doing some other stuff. Like walking heaps and falling madly in love with all the bush near my home and rediscovering a love for PALEO COOKING and working really hard to become an awesome teacher of LEGAL RESEARCH! (I hope). And I also started another non-violent communication course and grabbed myself a second empathy buddy to practice the homework with and still looking for a ‘first home’ to buy. Oh my goodness.

Not all of it has been fun – I have a bit of an RSI from too much typing and crochet. I totally stressed myself out for weeks trying to catch up to speed with legal research and devise fun interactive lessons with heaps of group work. And I’m afraid I shared that stress liberally at home 😦 And then when it all worked out I was on a high and probably that was just as annoying for long suffering family!

Maybe I should have blogged about it instead 🙂 But instead I kept thinking I didn’t have anything to say (!) Anyway now I have broken the ice I will be back soon and hopefully will be more ‘writerly’ next time. Or not! Who cares 🙂

Comments – getting what I want?

Last week I told about the Global Corporate Challenge (GCC) – a 100 day team competition based on steps taken per day. I reluctantly entered this challenge, created some personal goals to suit myself and am now really enjoying it. One aspect I particularly enjoy is participation in the GCC Community.

The GCC Community is an online space where participants and organisers can post a ‘story’ and others can comment or like. So I posted a story and got comments, but not the ones I was looking for.

My story: Non-conventional diets: Paleo

Is anyone else trying out a different diet as part of the GCC? I am getting back on board the paleo wagon after a few years of paleo + anything else I want to eat 🙂
Oh, Tim Tams, white bread and just about everything I find delicious served up at work morning teas – I hope it will be worth it!

And I got heaps of comments about how you ‘need’ to use the food calculator.

Or did I? Re-reading the comments to write this blog, I suddenly don’t see that at all! Just 6 people wanting to lose weight and telling me they are using a variety of means, including three who are using the food calculator! for example: Trying to stick to healthy eating plan too entering my food on the food calculator… The most strongly worded was: …you need to use the GCC food calculator as it really shows you how when you fall off the wagon… In the pleasantly chilly light of morning I can see this person was using a general ‘you,’ like an old fashioned ‘one.’ (one needs to use…)

In short, I got six terrific supportive comments and I somehow mangled them into ‘bloody advice I don’t need.’ I am really going to work on my *non-violent listening some more! Big dramatic sigh.

*non-violent listening: the ability to hear what someone is feeling, needing and wanting to express rather than what you expect them to say. Frequently requires getting my own ‘stuff’ out of other people’s faces 😦

Yes, I made non-violent listening up – but that does not make it untrue!

Experiencing the full self expression of others

Central station, waiting for the train home. A young man, a total stranger is looking at me intently, like he has something to say. He takes a gulp of air. Fuck yeah I just voted! Ha! you know what I wrote on the ticket? Fuck you Campbell Newman you fuckin arsehole get fucked! And I numbered every square and put LNP L-A-S-T last! He takes another breath and smiles wide, completely lit up. A brief concern flicks over his face. Oh, you don’t like Newman, do you? ‘Hell no,’ I say. His smile returns, he nods. Yeah fuck, I love voting. I told them LNP pricks they were supporting a bunch of areseholes too! ‘The guys handing out the how-to-vote-cards?’ Yeah – arseholes, I told them! Hey – you know you could go and vote right now – you don’t need to wait till Sat’day!

And now we are both laughing. The middle-aged-librarian-lady and the young-worker-bloke. My train comes. I look at him.

Nah, I’m goin’ to Ipswich.

Thinking about this now, I just feel so proud and excited. Go Ipswich! Go young people! You give me hope and inspiration, you really do 🙂

Full self expression – be careful what you ask for

Last week I was all love and unicorns about setting intentions and how they can unexpectedly manifest themselves. Yesterday, I had that experience when I was looking at potential homes with my partner and full self expression arrived unannounced.

During the week, Dave had painstakingly made a detailed list of ten houses that appeared to fit our exacting criteria, including one that was open on Saturday. So on Saturday morning we ventured out together to do some sticky beaking. The first few houses that we drove past looked pretty good, were located in pleasant streets, and close to transport. We then went to the open house. This house was quite a drive away. I became concerned about the distance from public transport. When we arrived, the house appeared tidy but not particularly inviting. It was placed at the bottom of a valley and surrounded by other homes that looked directly down onto it. The inside was tidy but not at all nice – the carpets did not match, and the bathroom was old and daggy. I did not like that the back deck had not been certified by Council. However, I could see that Dave was becoming very enthusiastic about this beautiful deck and about the awesome solar set up.

As we left I was preparing a ‘diplomatic’ speech in my mind. It went something like, “Oh well, that place was nice, the deck was good and solar is what we need, we will keep it on the list.” But something very different came out of my mouth in a most emphatic tone…

Well, that’s a ‘no!’

For a moment I felt I had been invaded by an alien. And I experienced some confusion. And then Dave and I had a little squabble. And then I offered him genuine appreciation for all his work on making the list. And he graciously accepted. And then we were able to move closer to a shared understanding of what we want in our new home. So it ended very nicely, and he is right now sitting beside me, engrossed in making a new list of houses to look at in a week or two.

And I am now wondering just what life would be like if I said what was on my mind directly instead of beating around the bush, dissembling, distracting and outright lying… Can I be that brave? Can I trust myself to be able to create something new and beautiful in the chaos and discomfort that can arise in the wake of honesty?

I think I might.

my 2015 to come

Ok, this is a ramble by the end I get to my intentions and how I made them – that’s probably the interesting bit, but I liked the rest too so left it in anyway 🙂

The 2015 intentions setting (not resolutions) all started in the stress and hubbub of December 2014, when one morning I noted that instead of doing an online yoga session and feeling balanced and awesome, I had (once again) got diverted to facebook and was feeling scared, angry, hopeless and had a headache too. I knew it was time to Slow Down With the Social Media and after thinking about it for a few days I …

  • put facebook on holiday with no time limit or immediate plans to reinstate
  • started reading my personal email just once a week, and
  • took a holiday from blogging while I figured out what I want to accomplish and what I want to invest.

I got some pretty immediate results, some being…

  • I excised for at least an hour every day (and lost a kilo over Christmas)
  • I walked and caught public transport to work (and reduced my carbon footprint)
  • I sewed 5 dresses (and am well on my way to wearing only clothes that are made equitably and mindful of the environment)
  • I caught up with a neighbour I love but hadn’t made the time to see in months and also with some other old friends, in person – so satisfying! And,
  • I created a new vision for me and my blogging

So, my new intentions are

  • to connect
  • to contribute
  • to be fully self-expressed
  • to experience ease, and
  • to have some fun and play

I like intentions better than the usual ‘I will do this,’ or ‘I won’t do that’ resolutions stuff. Intentions allow flexibility and are thus more likely (for me) to be accomplished. For example, I once set the resolution that ‘I will run every day’ but then got stumped when I got really sick, had to have an operation and wasn’t able to do any real exercise for two months. So I got depressed and angry, hurt myself trying to get back into running too quickly, became a burden for others for longer than necessary and comfort ate and put on a bit of weight. But if I had the intention of ‘valuing my health’ I could then have come up with an alternative, like resting and doing the very gentle exercises given by my physio until I was well enough to ease back into walking then running. Dammit, I could have even bobbed about in a pool for a bit. Sigh…

The other thing I like about intentions is that they are a bit magical, in that they often start appearing in unplanned and unexpected ways, and all I have to do is say ‘yes.’ Like when in Kuranda I set an intention of ‘community’ and almost tripped over a habitat group while walking to the library a few days later. Following intentions may also lead to unexpected and magical results – like the time when I set the intention of ‘being considerate’ and so slept on the verandah lounge instead of waking my family in the middle of the night when I forgot my keys and woke to a beautiful sunrise and serenade by magpies – an unforgettably magical morning really.

How I made my intentions (probably the good bit)

I made the intentions using a list of universal human needs. You can find such a list here. I highlighted the needs that were important, then of those kept the ones that seemed most important (while reassuring myself that they are all important) until I got to just five. And these five make me feel warm and optimistic and content too. All good feelings to be having 🙂

With thanks to the New York Centre for Nonviolent Communication who are responsible for the needs list – and many other awesome things 🙂

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