Staying Open to the Unexpected

We never know what will happen. We can plan our day or trip or meeting in great detail, but we are never sure what will happen. All we can do is to stay present, stay open to the possibilities and enjoy and appreciate the way things unfold. I used to get annoyed and frustrated when things didn’t go the way I wanted. I would have planned and visualized how a meeting or event would proceed and I would be frustrated if things changed, if I didn’t get what I needed when I needed it. I have learned to let go of this. I now try and go with the flow and find the pleasure in the unexpected. 

When I was working for the local Member of Parliament I had to go to a printers to pick up some flyers and I had huge trouble finding the location. I thought I knew where it was. As I drove up and down the road looking for the printers I became more and more frustrated. Finally, exasperated, I called in at the nearest store to ask directions. There I discovered a magical world, a store full of environmentally safe cleaning products and beauty aids in bulk – “bring your own containers” they said. Of course I found out where the printer was located and made my way there, but in the meantime I discovered a place I frequent on a regular basis for gifts and products. A store I enjoy supporting and a business I believe in and want to promote. I would never have discovered this store if I hadn’t walked in to ask directions. Life is curious, and discoveries are just around the corner. Stay open, embrace the unknown and take advantage of the situation

Can We Re-frame Our Judgments?

Marshall Rosenberg, the founder of Nonviolent Communications, said “Judgments cause wars”. We all know the damage judgments can do. This is because people usually hear your judgments as criticism and this triggers them. They close down and become resentful. They don’t trust you anymore as you have attacked them, and it is hard to redeem the relationship. The fact is, we remember a judgment much longer than we remember a compliment. Judgments are hard to forget. I still remember the judgments of my English teacher at high school!!

But we all have judgments about places, people and things. Can we re-frame this and turn the judgment into curiosity. Instead of saying “That person dresses in a really bizarre way”, we say, “I am curious as to the choices that person has made” or “I am curious as to why he said that at the meeting” instead of “He made a really stupid comment”. This curiosity is not judgmental, we just want to find out more and re-framing allows us to delve deeper. We gain more understanding, connection and ultimately feel more compassion towards those around us.

Try and use curiosity instead of judgment see how it changes the conversation and your perception of the situation.

Giving Advice- why isn’t it welcome?

I see often see postings saying “Don’t give advice” or “People don’t want to hear your advice”. Why is this?

When someone is triggered or mourning an event, they often need “to be heard”. They have not asked for advice, they have not asked you to tell them about your experiences, they just want “to matter, to be seen and to be heard”.

If you are listening to fix someone, you are meeting your own need “to matter and to contribute”. You are likely not really listening. A part of you is figuring out how to help them or how to fix the problem. They don’t want that. This might seem really frustrating to you as you are up in your head judging the situation and figuring out how to solve it. This is why I say you are not listening from the heart to how they feel and to their need.

I think so many of us have been brought up believing fixing the problem is a way to connect to others and be compassionate. Giving advice is OK as long as you clarify, “Would you like my advice?” By this question, you are offering the person the opportunity to choose. There is nothing wrong with giving advice if it is requested, it is just not useful for the person who wants “to be heard” and have justification that “they matter”.

In Nonviolent Communications we accompany the person in a state of presence, listening for their feelings and needs with a heart to heart connection. We call this NVC Empathy.

Note-   I italicized the universal needs in this blog so that they stand out

What is Alive in You?

One of the first sayings I heard Marshall Rosenberg say when I attended his nine day workshop in 2009 was ”What is alive in you “

When I first heard this question I was confused – my answer was something like:

“Well my heart is beating, I am breathing and my brain is working and I am hearing you”.

But as I became more familiar with NVC I realised that what Marshall meant was what are you feeling? I had never given any thought to this before. I guess I had never considered this before. I did not have a large vocabulary of feelings and was definitely not comfortable expressing them. I did not know how they impacted my being – what the physical manifestations were and I guess I was frightened of how I would respond. So I ignored them, pushed them down and told myself they don’t matter.

Becoming conscious of my feelings on a moment-to-moment basis has been quite a journey. Most of the time I am resting in a comfortable space, some of the time I am more alive and I am more playful. Asking myself what is alive in me regularly helps me check in and find out what is happening. I am becoming more mindful and aware of times when I am bored, afraid, sad or annoyed. I take a conscious note of my bodily sensations. I name what is happening and then name the feeling. In this way I am able to choose how to deal with a potentially tricky situation.

I am trying to live more from my feelings than from my thoughts and I am learning to discover what is alive in me.

Thoughts on Nature #1 Beauty

We all have out own aesthetic as far as beauty is concerned (what we consider beautiful, pleasing to the eye, well balanced etc). However none of us can argue about the beauty we see in nature. And for this reason walking in a forest, climbing a mountain, walking by the sea shore or just sitting in a garden surrounded by trees and flowers enables us to appreciate nature. We can feel touched by the power of nature. It provides a gentle, healing to our restless soul. It unites us in a purpose and we see we are all connected. It uplifts a heavy heart. Within the stillness of nature lies a power to heal and to renew faith in the world and in humankind.

So today spend a few moments of silence connecting to nature in some way. I can assure you that it will lift your spirits. It does mine.

Clarity – what are we saying?


Clarity- is it hard to impart in an email or electronically?

I have just read a note thanking a group of us for hosting a celebration. It was long and detailed. To be honest I stopped reading half way through and could not tell you what he wrote.

However, there were a couple of words that really resonated for me – ”thank you for the community, the support and the love” – this resonated but I thought the rest  was just padding. Was this just my interpretation or was there really a lot of bla bla?

What I am suggesting is that we are clear what we are thanking someone for, we can explain our feelings and why we are grateful for an action, saying what need it has met – support, appreciation, the opportunity to be heard, but don’t go on and on. In my opinion, it muddies the water and the gratitude gets lost in all the words. We get confused with the thoughts and their meaning. Look for clarity.

Keep it so simple   ….KISS that way the message will get through with clarity.

How do we hold our expectations?


How do we hold our expectations? Do we hold them lightly or do we hold them close to our heart and expect great things of ourselves and others?

I am going to suggest that holding them lightly is a way to ensure more happiness, ease and pleasure. This is because if we expect too much of ourselves or of others we can be disappointed and let down by the results. We ourselves tend to feel deflated, sad, annoyed, frustrated and this energy can be transmitted to the others. If we have high expectations of someone else- a family member, a child, a friend they will feel the negative vibrations if they fail to meet our need in some way.

We don’t know what will happen and we don’t always know why things happen the way they do. So lets enjoy the unexpected and celebrate it. Bask in the wonder of our universe, the day to day joys connection with others bring and be present to take in the full experience.

On becoming more aware and choosing how to react


I am noticing that I am able to make very conscious choices as to how I behave in certain situations.

Yesterday I went to the dentists. Now if someone asked me what Hell would be for me I would say sitting in the dentist’s chair having my teeth cleaned. I find the experience violent and I use this strong word for a reason. To start with the way the hygienist suits up with mask over the lower half of their face, gloves, special goggles all ready to work on you. The instruments they use are drills and chisels. The drills have a high-pitched sound, which penetrates my head and grates on my nerves and the chisel scratches my teeth carving into them. The gel for freezing the gum tastes decidedly toxic, the television is turned to Dr Phil with subtitles dealing with child abuse and loud rock music plays in the background. All this is going on as the hygienist pokes around in my mouth jabbing, prodding, scraping, drilling and cleaning my teeth.

So I made a conscious choice (thanks partly to my recent meditation classes) I would go into my meditative state, close my eyes, breathe deeply and relax. And the amazing thing was that I was able to do this with all this violence going on around me. I willed myself not to react but instead to zone out and chill. The experience was not pleasant but I was able to keep calm and speak in a neutral tone to the hygienist when she said I needed more regular cleaning.

I made a choice to focus on my breath, soften my muscles and relax. It worked!!



Does being lucky really exist?

autumn light throuh the treesAre we lucky or are we able to see the situation for what it is and take responsibility for making things happen for the better?

I had a serious neurological condition about 16 years ago. I was hospitalized for 12 days and wondered whether I would ever have the strength to walk again. I decided to cure the condition by changing my life – quitting my job, exercising daily, eating well and cutting down on stress. I also discovered Nonviolent Communication and I learned to say No. Over a period of about 8 years I worked on cutting down on my medication determined not to give up. Yes, there were lapses when I had to go back to the hospital for emergency treatment but I didn’t listen to one of the doctor’s advice. She said trying to heal the condition was a loosing battle and I should just accept the situation and take the medication. I ignored her, working to wean myself off the treatment and slowly I gained strength. Now I have a very few residual weaknesses.

A couple of days ago I was at an event where another person with the same neurological condition was presenting. People were shocked by his disability. When I mentioned to one of the volunteers that I had the same condition but had overcome it she immediately said I was lucky. “NO”, I said emphatically, I worked at healing myself. Sure I had resources but ultimately I did not accept the doctor’s recommendations. I went ahead and changed my life – for the better.