Category Archives: Connection

Never Let The Truth Get In The Way of A Good Story

Growing up, we always had a saying in our house: “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.”  Now for most of my life, I simply believed that was a way that truth could be covered up and whatever evil was beneath the surface could be denied or kept unknown by a charismatic storyteller.

I admit to fury about this saying!

There were times in my life when I did seek to say what was going on and usually my version of the story was met with comments about my over- active imagination.  That was the good version.  The worse was when my anger after sharing a story was interpreted as ‘too much’ and I was given some type of medication to calm me down.

Maybe I did start to believe a good story was better than the truth – or at least created less pain and misunderstanding.

These days the saying is generally a good bridge in our family gatherings.  However, the new status has come after many years of working to try to understand each other’s vastly different versions of reality about the past.  The saying is no longer meant to shut anyone down. I do think it might be a signal to say we may be stepping into tricky territory and give each other a head’s up.

Our differences have never been reconciled.  But, now that we are adults and have been able to find ways to each feel heard and seen for whatever reality we were living growing up, we can have a relationship. 

I really appreciate that about my family.  We live the agree to disagree about some things and find ways to appreciate and value other aspects of who we each are now.

That may just be because of the saying – Never let the truth get in the way of a good story. 

Only these days I prefer to retranslate.  I think the saying would be best expressed as;  Never let a truth get in the way of deeply listening to someone’s else’s story”

That really is the lesson.

Too often, our individual ‘truths’ are so fixed that we don’t really listen to a different truth.  Especially when that other storyline may make us look poorly, guilty, cruel or unkind.

However, I firmly believe that most of the time people really don’t need to be told their version of reality is ‘the truth’.  Instead, they are looking for someone to deeply listens and step into their reality, consider what that might be like and acknowledges their feelings. When this occurs healing happens.  Over and over, I see people get unstuck from their old stories and look at the choices they made and move forward in these scenarios.

Truth is I’ve seen people get their stories validated – by courtrooms and judges – only to see that person continue to struggle with the old story.  Unable to reframe, rewrite or redefine the outcome.

Don’t get me wrong; I am not saying some actions don’t warrant judgement. But I am saying that alone isn’t going to be what supports the ‘victim’ in moving forward.

What will? – never letting a or one truth get in the way of deeply listening to another person’s story!

Truth is relative.  Yes, we need to find our truth – but I just don’t think we need to let that get in the way of listening to someone else’s.

We can disagree.  We can not like it.  We may even decide that because of that person’s story we aren’t interested in a deeper relationship.

But I don’t think finding the one truth will work.

Listening and considering – that is a powerful path for contact and possibility and influence.

These days with all the stories coming out about men’s abuse of power and sexual harassment of women, I think we’d be better served if we did not get caught up in focusing on what did or did not happen.  Frankly I think the people speaking up need to be heard.

Our job is to listen. What is the impact of these stories? 

I am speaking to the men out there getting accused. Listen! Consider! Respond! From a place of understanding someone else‘s truth, instead of right versus wrong. Listen to the impact, the pain, the experience and a perspective other than your own. Don’t just deny or apologize and move on. Be influenced now.

I think that is how something different can happen.

When we simply go to right or wrong, the feeling and the impact can so easily get lost.  Listening and considering the impact of our actions, words or deeds on another – even if that wasn’t our intent or perceived outcome.  That is what will help heal and bridge our differences.

I know it did in my family and I have witnessed it over and over in couples, on teams and in families.  I think it can happen out in the world as well.

Now that is my truth – and I won’t let it get in the way of hearing your truth (story).

The Lessons of Humpty Dumpty and Horses

Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall
All the King’s horses and All the King’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again

As a child this was simple nursery rhyme that was spoken, sung and incorporated into a variety of games.

I imagine I chuckled at the message back then.

Of course all the King’s men (and ladies) couldn’t put Humpty together again!

Why would Humpty Dumpty want to be put back together again?

We get so focused on Humpty being broken as the problem. I am beginning to believe that broken isn’t a problem at all. It’s an amazing opportunity for transformation and re-membering!

I believe we are having a Humpty Dumpty moment here in the States (and most of the planet) and of course all the King’s men are not going put us together again.

At least not in the way we think we should be!

So nursery rhymes are one thing and I know this is serious adult business.

So let’s apply a lesson from nature that speaks to the same message, only even more profoundly for me.

Yes, I am finding my joy working with horses. There are many, many reasons why this makes perfect sense. But there is one piece that I don’t hear talked about quite as much as all the science around mirror neurons and herd dynamics and such and that’s the story of how horses are the fastest species to go from domesticated (broken) back to feral (their true natural state of being in the wild).

You got to wonder – how is that possible?

Horses surrender!

We don’t, usually. But we can and there in lines the potential wonder of allowing oneself to be broken.

You got to wonder why horses ever engaged in their relationship with us. I know many will say they didn’t – we made them.

But let’s be clear – it was a relationship and like any relationship there were two parties playing their part.

Having now watched horse dynamics in many, many situations there is one thing that keeps shining through from the horse and that’s something about their ability to transform broken  into re-membering, returning to their true nature!

That horse in the picture above is Osa, she was broken and she wasn’t very comfortable with people when she arrived at Stillwater Horse Whisper Ranch.  Wouldn’t really now that now would you!!

Makes me think there’s more to the Humpty Dumpty story too. Because you know the truth is we started as an egg and frankly never would have gotten here with being broken.

Those Kings bring a mighty sword to the party and there’s all sorts of stories about why that is good, bad, painful, powerful etc, etc. – but again without that sword – that egg would have never been broken, you or me, would never have entered the picture. There’s something about that moment of conception that is worth considering.

I have been one to say at times, “you are not broken” – and I think I want to shift that. Yes, we are broken and that is a beautiful aspect of being human! It’s also a critical choice point. Will I surrender, will I fight, will I find a way home or make to my feral (natural) state!

I think we stay too focused on trying to stop people, the planet or simply the egg from being broken and that is not a problem to solve!

That is a very old story, that creates great suffering.

Just go watch a horse and discover another story-line that makes broken a beautiful opportunity for creating relationships.

Bridging Worlds: In & Out

I started this post, sitting in an Alaska boardroom about to head back to Whitefish. Before this, I had a fly-by visit in Seattle to celebrate my sister Penny’s 60th birthday!

Penny’s official birthday was November 19, and there were a variety of celebrations that started on that day and continued through the Thanksgiving holiday. When I visited at the end of the week, I was told it was the culmination of the celebration and was going to include all I love about her family, the Reids.

Penny's new Book!
Penny’s new Book!

Yes, there was going to be a party, and at some point the singing of the traditional birthday songs! But even more importantly, this evening marked the release of Penny’s first book, Bridging. Both Clarke and Carolina, my amazing niece and nephew, would be there too. Clarke planned to play music with a couple members of his current band, and Carolina was driving from Portland with my Mom. Rob, my brother-in-law, ensured me that the party would include awesome food. Plus, I had a bed to sleep in! Perfect!

Reflecting back, I have no regrets making the journey, even if I did miss Melissa, my other sister, who had made the trip for the official birthday date, and CrisMarie was just not able to fly over for just a 24-hour visit. (Someone had to take care of Rosie, right!)

Now sitting in the boardroom, I had an opportunity to read my sister’s book, Bridging; a book about one woman’s, my sister, journey to bridge two very different cultures while also dealing with a much more universal journey of living and dying. The book is touching, human and a great read.

It can be a bit of a scary proposition when a family member writes a book and you get one of the copies. Sure you want to be supportive, but what if you don’t like it! Plus, I opened the book while the Seahawks were playing on the big screen. I was not confident I would successfully stay focused.

But soon into the read, I was more deeply engaged in my sister’s journey than in the Seattle Seahawks!

It’s not that I haven’t known that my sister was a strong writer. She is. I have read various shorter pieces authored by her and know that she has a strong literary style. She has also been a strong supporter of my writing process. But I believed our writing was very different. She is much more poetic and literate in her style.

But as I dove into Bridging, I was engaged by the humble and real storyline of Penny’s efforts to become fluent in Spanish and emerge herself in a lifestyle so different than her own.

I loved reading the book. I read most of it on the plane and finished it the next day.

I enjoyed the team effort reflected in her decision to intersperse pieces written by others who were either family, friends or travelers like herself. I loved that the writing, mostly English with Spanish words and phrases weaved in, was able to reflect her own developing language ability. Toward the very end, there was much more Spanish. And yet even someone like myself was able to understand while also acquiring a taste of what it had been like for her.

I even enjoyed her references to religion, hope and faith even though I am on a much different path than her. I found myself connected and appreciative of the importance her faith and spiritual community is to her. I liked that she spoke about the challenge she faces as someone who works in education and values the importance of separating church and state.

But what was most surprising was what I interpreted as our deeply shared passion to not stay restricted and limited by our own story or narrative. It is so to easy live a lifetime thinking our story is the only story.

Her version of expanding her story was truly multi-cultural. It was literally about traveling beyond the border of America, listening to and appreciating the culture of others who have a completely different language, history and socio-economic experience. My focus is much closer to home. Yet, as I lived in the pages, I was touched by the similar deep desire to find a way to bridge beyond our differences.

I was also moved by the storyline that was not quite as obvious – her dealing with death and dying. I loved how the book weaved in my father’s process of dying, which for her had been such a profound journey. Then she closed with having to let go of Roxy, the family dog. Though Roxy did not have the same long-term storyline or heavy impact on her own making, Roxy clearly had a huge impact on Penny’s heart. Both connections for Penny, so profound, yet so different.

In the end, the weekend and the book, reminded me that our differences are both our greatest challenge AND our greatest opportunity.

I encourage you to go Amazon and get a copy.

I know I won’t likely be one who dives so deeply into a language or culture as Penny has done. But I get that her journey is not that far from my own.

I think we both long for the same possibility – a bridge that connects us through differences, and values the richness that comes from having the courage and faith to venture and explore both sides!

 

 

 

 

Stepping Out With My “Woo!”

Our Woo Material for The SummitThere are so many things on my To Do List for today.  Writing a post was not one of them, but it just seems like the right thing to do.

Next week we’ll be at the Martha Beck Coaches Summit in San Diego with about 500 other coaches!  I went two years ago and it was an amazing experience.  I don’t even like large crowds of people and especially if I have any inkling that there’s some sort of ‘follow-the guru’ thing happening.  I admit last time I was suspicious.

However, though Martha has been the magnet for many of the folks attending, the magic is that it isn’t really about ‘following’ Martha.  Yes, each coach is grounded in the fundamentals that she teaches.  But, frankly, her style is to lovingly push you out of the nest so that you can find your own set of wings.

So, yes, Martha is present and offers her unique brand of science, wisdom and humor each day.  However, most of the day involves workshops and talks presented by Coaches around how they are living this work.  What sold me last time was both the grounded, solid and quirky nature of Martha and the unique mastery of those presenting who clearly have found their own voice and bodies of work.  It was inspiring!

So inspiring, that we decided to totally shift our own way of working.  We started thrive! inc. in 2002, with our own unique voice and way of working with leaders and teams.  Along the way we took a express highway that did help us develop and grow in the corporate world but may have dampened our own brand and voice.  It was fun riding in the express lane; however, the Summit and our own individual journeys becoming MB coaches (CrisMarie is a Master Coach as well) brought back a yearning to return to our own voice and message.

We have each done the work of many masters.  We have also each integrated and weaved our own unique spin on all we have learned.  Finding our voice over this past year hasn’t always been easy or particularly successful by our express lane measures.  However, it has been so worth it.

This time at the Summit we are presenting.  We decided to offer a workshop in our most “Woo-Woo” material.  I have to admit I wanted to do something that I was more comfortable and confident delivering.  Maybe that is why I am the Certified Coach and CrisMarie is the Master.  She insisted on putting in the Six Body Types as our offering. She was right. Let’s go for the “Woo!”

Building and creating this presentation and material for delivery as been rich.  I realize I often step away from exposing my own “Woo-Woo” nature.  Since I was very young I have had experiences that just didn’t seem to translate well in the mainstream.  I learned to keep that stuff to myself.  What has been the most profound learning from Martha Beck and the tribe is that “Woo” and science can and do mix.  In fact, being the odd duck is actually not just okay – but cool!

I admit, I’m nervous about the Summit.  Well, excited and nervous.  I am looking forward to being with like-minded friends and colleagues.  I am looking forward to learning and participating in the many wonderous offerings.  I am scared silly about stepping out and revealing to a larger audience my own voice and my way of finding resilience in this crazy, cracked world that really isn’t what it appears to be on the surface at all!

 

 

 

 

I Love Brene & I Fight for Feelings!!

Okay I had a few folks ask me if I was trying to take a shot at Brene Brown in my last post.  I want to clarify.  I love her work.  So I am not out to poke, other than it is the nature of my style, which some call contrarian or Myers Briggs refers to as my need to question, that may present as challenging.  Truthfully, I find I only rise to the challenge when I have total and complete respect for the idea or more clearly stated, the person presenting it.

That said, I do struggle when a feeling is getting a bad rap.  Feelings to me are like the breath and blood of being human.  Babies are the best example of this fluid relationship that we should be having with our emotions.  Babies can be crying and screaming one minute and laughing seconds later.  Their little bodies shake and vibrate freely with each surge of emotion – energy-in-motion.  Most of us as adults are are not nearly so fluid or expressive, actually we are quite the opposite.  Somewhere along the way we dampened our emotional range.  Mostly to conform or fit in to the expected path of maturing by using the mind more than the heart.

I believe feelings, all feelings are vital to a healthy heart and aliveness.  We breath, we feel.  Why are feelings so often something we wish to get rid of.  I believe people spend more time trying to rid themselves of uncomfortable feelings, like anger, jealousy or shame – than time spent working on shifting mental patterns of self-hate to self-compassion.  I will say again – the feeling isn’t the problem.  Feelings pass.  Feelings are in the moment.  Yes, unpredictable and less stable.  Still, in the moment, timeless and immediate.  Our thinking, can be quite stable, predictable and in all honestly – deadly.  However, we don’t seem quite so quick to get rid of a negative thought – instead we believe it , fondle it and prove it, giving it a permanent track for messing with our immediate experience.

As humans we are quite proud of our neocortex, that thinking part of the brain.  It is amazing that we are a species that can imagine, innovate and tell a story forward.  It is a gift.  Yet without the breath and blood of feelings our story-telling and innovation comes without empathy or connection.

Think of our great minds like the land that we walk on, solid and relatively easy to navigate.  Now think of the oceans, the waters that take up even more of this wonderful planet, the mystery and flow they offer.  To me that is the difference between my feelings and my stories.  The stories are the islands that I can at times get trapped living on, solid, predictable but not always interconnected.  Feelings like the water will move me, shape me and provide the incredible depth that connects those islands and ensures oneness, not a separate state.

I seriously doubt Brene Brown, meant to get rid of a feeling.  I think she was really trying to find a path for re-connecting.  Shame for me is the water, the ocean.  The island, that at times I allow my shame to create is one of self-hate and that is an island I wish not to stay trapped on.  Oddly it is only when I embrace the shame, the water and ride those waves, that I find my path back to connection.

You may be thinking I am someone who is comfortable and at ease with my feelings.  No, not at all.  I have lived on many islands, and stayed safe in the stories firmly crafted in my mind.  However, much like Brene Brown talks about her wrestling with vulnerability, I wrestle with my feelings.  I fight for them. I have stayed stuck and isolated too long without allowing them.  Of course there are those I particularly wish to stay away from, fear, rage, helplessness and shame – and yet, when I have let those feelings wash through me, I have discovered new territory, new connections and much greater depth and empathy for everything around me.

 

 

 

 

I Remember. Come Alive, Rocks!

I just finally watched the new Come Alive video on The Haven website. I thought it was awesome. I wanted to find a way to share it with everyone who has ever asked me, “What is it you do at The Haven?”

Yes, I have taken the Come Alive journey many times. Twice as a participant and countless times as a leader during the last twenty two years.

I still remember my first Come Alive. I came with my sister, Penny. I thought I was dying. I had been given three months to live. My doctors were not too happy when I announced I was going across the country to take a five day program called Come Alive. They thought that was a waste. Of course, for me, I had nothing to loss. So I went.

I believe those five days turned my life around. I was so inspired by the leaders – their caring – their open, honest way of being with people. They were not trying to fix me or others, but simply listening, supporting and modeling vulnerability, curiosity and faith. I wanted what I was witnessing. I wanted that more than I wanted to cure cancer. I wanted to learn to relate with that level of authenticity and alive-ness even if it only lasted three months.

I was encouraged to breathe every day. Jock was often dropping by to offer acupuncture. His visits were short, frequent and just the right amount for me to gradually open up to what was happening. I witnessed people sharing a depth of feeling and vulnerability I had never seen before. Of course, I had moments where I totally doubted the process, even got angry about the fact that I was just getting this now with only a short time to live. The beauty of the program was that I traveled to so many places through listening to different stories than my own and never once thought I had to change or be different. I was simply invited to be me and to be curious about how I had gotten to where I was – not as a victim but as a response-able person. It was exciting to have people not feel sorry for me but instead hold me as able. They believed in me and with that invitation I came alive!

I didn’t really remember the models. But I did remember Jock’s tears, as far as I knew, no one had ever cried with me. Here was this doctor with big salty tears running down his cheek. This gave me the permission I needed to cry as well. We did this together, and I will never forget what that felt like. I remember the honesty and warmth of the group as each person revealed some aspect of their life that was raw and new to them. We each held an open space for whatever someone needed or wanted to explore.

Yes, I remember. That first five day program turned my life around, and I have never gone back to the lonely place I knew before arriving on Gabriola at The Haven. So I will gladly share this video and hope it goes viral. There is place, and it is worth visiting. Pass this on!!

Here’s the link to the new Come Alive video!!

Susan Clarke

Back From The Edge

We just returned from Part II of the Couples Alive series, The Edge, at The Haven Institute in BC, Canada. In addition to being a part of the design team and leaders of the Couples Alive series, we are also committing to taking each part of the four part series as a way to deepen our relationship and ‘walk our talk’ so to speak.

I found the trip to The Edge quite enlightening. By saying that, I am not saying it was easy.

When we created the design for Couples Alive II, The Edge, we had talked about the idea of creating experiences that first allowed people to visit their own edges and then meet as a couple at the edge. That all sounds good, but it wasn’t until I found myself spiraling down into an OLD family of origin hole that I realized just how successful we had been at finding a good way to get people right to an edge. I won’t say I enjoyed revisiting the past; however, it was a great way to see how my ‘story’ of the past still influences and plays into my current relationships.

It was also amazing to get the opportunity to understand how our histories meet at times for a somewhat wild ride in the present.

Of course, for each of us, the edge can be quite different. There’s the situations from our own life experiences that can bring us to the edge and there’s the tension that occurs in a relationship when I want to be ‘me’ without risking losing ‘us’. There’s the soft spots that are hard to expose and there’s the conflict that occurs simply because we are unique and have differences.

Finally, after discovering many edges and meeting edge-to-edge at various points in the workshop, we closed by being reminded of that deep longing which bought us together in the first place.

Apparently, it’s simply human nature to want to find someone who has your back and who is also willing to journey to the edges, together.

I came home more committed and more revealed. Knowing I had work to do on my patterns, but was excited about the commitments we each made and the opportunity to put new learning into our life back at home and in our work.

Recovering From My Blogging Blunder

It’s tough when my latest blog is old news before it gets sent to readers. I feel responsible for getting another post up quickly.

Technical difficulties resulted in yesterday’s blog arriving after last night’s game. So now I am quickly working to recover. I wish I could say my cold was gone and my head was clear. This blog might be easier if that was the case. Unfortunately, I am still a bit clogged and tired from a cold that is very, very slowly moving through my system!

As a result of this cold, I missed some fun events. Last night I had some great plans both for the big game and for supporting a local fundraising event for the school of which I am a board member. I didn’t think it was right to show up at the event coughing and contaminating everyone while asking for money to support our programs. Still, I would have liked to participate. I had also intended to watch the big game on my friend’s big HD TV. We had plans for sushi and basketball. Instead, I watched the game on my very small iPhone screen and ate Rice Dream. Not the same.

So I am not loving this opportunity my body is presenting me. I generally don’t do well with any type of health issues that demand I rest. I have trouble slowing down. Don’t get me wrong, it is not like I am driven or a workaholic, I am not that kind of fast or productive person. I like my walks, jogs, yoga, and connecting activities like lunch at The Green Tea House, or a movie with friends. So when I can not do those things, I find it hard.

I wish there was an easy way to get through a cold. The fact that I am even getting this post completed is a sign of improvement. At some point I will likely take Bailey out for a short walk in the woods. I may even make it to The Green Tea House. Life will return to normal.

But for now, this is the best blog I have in me for a quick recovery from my blogging blunder.

Super Seniors

Recently my folks were out for a visit.  They came via train with my sister Penny and her husband, Rob.  I believe this was Penny’s idea and I loved the idea of having everyone out to Montana.  I am not sure I would have been willing to board a train for an overnight sleep in coach seats, especially with my parents. I have heard it is not so bad, and they did arrive in excellent spirits. Still, I thought my sister was crazy. Apparently, I was wrong! I had quite a lot to learn about just what’s possible even when traveling as Super Seniors!

On the first day of the visit, while Penny and Rob relaxed at The Hay Moon Resort, my folks ventured out with CrisMarie and me to the top of Whitefish Mountain.  I went to purchase tickets for the gondola ride to the top, pulling out enough cash to cover tickets for two adults and two seniors.  The woman at the window took a look at my folks and asked if either were over 80.  They both qualified, my mom, Bernie, is 82 and my Dad, John is 90.

“Well, they are Super Seniors and they ride for free!”

My dad was thrilled.

He proudly shared this new honor with anyone willing to listen, including the chairlift people, who were more concerned about helping him safely on and off the lift than his Super Senior status. The gondola ride up was soon replaced with the chairlift ride down so my folks could enjoy the fresh air and swing their legs freely. As I spent the next few days with them, I found myself gaining a much greater appreciation for just what a great description Super Seniors is for these two adventuresome people.

The next day, we drove up to Logan’s Pass in Glacier National Park. I wasn’t to sure what we would be able to do up there. The trail options were a bit more demanding than I thought my folks could handle.  We opted to give the Hidden Lake trail a try.  This trail is only 1.5 miles, ascending 800 feet in elevation. It is covered mostly via a boardwalk, however, the boardwalk has no guardrail, and there is a significant incline, meaning there are steps that can be anywhere from the standard 6 inches to a foot and not always level. My folks assured me they would take care of themselves. Of course, I was worried anyway.

Penny, CrisMarie and I took off up the trail, with Rob, John and Bernie walking behind.  As the gap between us increased, we looked back and could see that we needed to reevaluate the plan.  My folks had gone a pretty fair distance from the Visitor Center, but the going was slow, and they realized it wasn’t going to be a trip that was in their best interests to continue.  Still, the scenery was amazing. So they wanted to find a rock to sit on and relax.  Apparently, they had come prepared with some books and a sketch pad (with only one pencil). We got them settled on some rocks, and off we went.  They assured us they’d wait for us to return and we’d help them on the way back.

We enjoyed the rest of the hike, seeing some goats and big horn sheep. We were heading back when we realized we’d been a bit longer then we had planned.  I took off at a jog to get back to let my folks know we were on our way.  As I got back to where I should have been able to see them, I could see they were gone. I started moving much faster.  I listened for sirens, looking further ahead for some assistance.  When I got back to the Visitor Center, I found my Super Senior folks shopping.  They had made their way back just fine.

I apologized for taking so long, asking how it had been. They laughed. They had had a grand time.  They showed me sketches they had done of each other and of the scenery.  When they had gotten tired, they simply asked someone for assistance getting off the rocks and back to the path.  Indeed, the stairs going back were a bit more challenging but they had simply taken one step at a time, supporting each other down. Bernie would go down one step supporting John. Then she’d take the next step.  Slowly, but very effectively, they worked their way back to the Visitor Center.

“We knew we’d be just fine if we helped each other and had no need to get anywhere fast.”  I sure wish I applied that wisdom to my life more often, but I guess that’s how they got to be Super Seniors!!

Apparently, all my worries were for nothing.  My Super Senior parents may look fragile and have to go slower than the average person, but they sure do know how to make the best of their time together.

I can only hope that if I make it to Super Senior Status I can live with as much creativity, purpose and adventure as they do!

Celebrating Life Haven Style

I am on my way to Oakland for our annual two days with my Table Group colleagues.  I enjoy these days; however, this time I am coming off an intense weekend of celebrating the birthdays of two of my mentors and the passing of a very dear friend.  It seems appropriate to write this blog as a make my way from Gabriola to Oakland via Vancouver and Seattle.  My eyes are tired from the tears that flowed today as many old and new friends gathered in the lodge and later in Phoenix to say goodbye to Dianne.  My heart is full from Saturday’s birthday celebration of Ben Wong (80) and Maria Gomori (90).  Ben is the man behind The Haven and pretty much the sole example about everything I have learned about being human.  Maria, (90), is a force of nature who’s life spans everything from wild escapes from death marches in Hungary to career changes that include being a high-level Hungarian political economist, to being a human psychologist in Winnipeg, and a world-traveling facilitator who still runs workshops from early morning to late evening.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to make the birthday celebrations.  The dates were tricky, and I was already booked before and after.  However, when Dianne died and the news spread that there was going to be a ceremony for her on the weekend, I knew I had to come.

What was most amazing was the people who gathered.  Many were faces from much earlier in my life.  People who I hadn’t seen or spoken to in years, all returning because one of these three masters had so deeply touched or transformed their lives that they wanted to come and celebrate.

The birthdays were special because on the stage sat 170 years of experience.  Jock in his purposeful, strategic way had planned an interview of the pair.  He had a vision and with commitment and drama and took us with him. However, I believe in the end, the masters steered us off in other directions: Ben, with his wonderful wit and provocative wisdom, and Maria, with her own agenda to make sure this was really about Ben (and Jock) and just how they had saved her life so many times.  I am not sure if things went as Jock imagined, but I believe what he intended was delivered.  We all were captured by the stories and the deeper messages about the importance of freedom, integrity and in the end, human connection.

The evening was musical, poetic and spanned between the East and the West.  It was Haven at its finest.

Sunday bought a different flavor to the day. This was a gathering to celebrate not a birthday, but a passing, though this time not quite choreographed, planned and directed. But once we gathered and Dianne’s family joined her extended family of friends, those who agreed to guide the flow of feelings, demonstrated the grace of The Haven in yet another way. Much like a Come Alive, there was just enough structure and thought to bring the day to life.  The circle was powerful and a wonderful way for each of us to speak and let our loving of Dianne flow through songs, stories, tears, poems, laughter and hugs.  Dianne would have loved it!

I didn’t know how important it was for me personally until a young man commented at the tightness in my shoulders.  He noticed that my shoulders were slowly rising towards my ears and was willing to check out his story with me. He thought something was wrong.  I knew in that moment I was doing what I can do so well, shutting down the feelings and detaching from my heart.  His comments were very early in the day and left me with plenty of time to make a different choice.  I took a breath because I knew wanted to feel.

Now, sitting on the plane, my eyes are quite tired from the many tears I let flow. I am quite full from the weekend and not sure how I will be able to transition to tomorrow’s focus.  Right now though, I am full and grateful once again for The Haven, my friends, my family, and all that I learn when I am willing to show up, open my heart, breath and trust.