Friday, June 29, 2012

An Early Summer Update

I've been spotting bumblebees everywhere lately. They keep reminding me to keep up with my bumblebee circle work. While I've been neglecting my blog lately, I have been busy writing for other projects that I will some day soon share with you here. For now, please enjoy and BEE inspired by these bee-autiful bee moments I captured this month:

And of course, I invite you to share your bumblebee photographs, stories and love with me here :)

Monday, April 30, 2012

Earth Day Fun!

So happy to set up my first information booth at a community event @ Earth Day Chilliwack, April 21!

And a beautiful sunny day to bout!

Shared the space with my other home-business Garden Gabbers: 

My kids "Creation Station" was a hit!  Brought a couple craft items to make 'bumblebee hats'!

I loved seeing kids walking around wearing their cute little bee hats!

I facilitated some creative fun during the day too:  Interactive games & laughter yoga exercises!

A great day!

Monday, April 2, 2012

An Earth Hour Circle

(Picture: On my living room wall above where we held our circle.)

Held an Earth Hour Circle this past Saturday, March 31!  The opening of the Circle began at the start of Earth Hour (@8:30pm!) and closed ~10 minutes after its end (9:30pm). 

I put a plate of candles in the center of the group (4 of us) and one by one we lit the candles and opened the Circle with words of GRATITUDE. I started the rounds, lighting one candle saying, "I am grateful for..." and passed the lighter to my left. The next person spoke words of gratitude and lit a candle, and passed the lighter to his left. This continued around the circle until all the candles on the plate were lit. When the last round was complete, there was one extra candle - so we decide to put it in the center of the plate - for something that may come up later on in conversation. 

The intention of the Circle was to share our JOYFUL experiences of birth & death. The first question was something along the lines of, "What is it about birth and death experiences or cycles in your life right now that have brought a sense of joy to your life?"  Using the web Circle method (several talking pieces in the center) we took turns (in no particular order) selecting a talking piece that spoke to us, and sharing what that question meant to us. We started by sharing why we had selected that particular talking piece and the conversation went from their. Sharing around this question lasted about three rounds. I waited until I felt a sense of 'deflation' in group sharing and threw another spontaneous Circle into the center. At some point the candle in the middle was lit, in remembrance of all those that have passed before us (honoring death). The last question that surfaced during the Circle was, "What is your motto, inspiration... that you can/will lean on to empower you forwards to where you want to go (in regards to moving through the experiences of 'birth and death' that were shared)?  The last question seemed to help pull the emotionally-charged content shared with one another, into a more tangible sense of knowing and plan for the challenges lying ahead for us. We closed the Circle by blowing out the candles (one by one), by saying any last words or insights that had come to us. After the Circle, came an evening of celebration!

Three important elements about this Circle, and important to incorporate in all Circles was:

1. Opening a Circle with Gratitude
2. Tapping into the "Joy" of experiences (even the more painful ones like death). 
3. Bringing participants back into a place of empowerment (and wholeness) before the Circle closes.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Learning from Our Elders

“A healthy community is one that shares their stories” I heard someone say.  Several speakers joined together to have a conversation about the state and stewardship of Cultus Lake, a major water body in the community, that the First Nations also refer to as one of their mothers.  This event included a traditional First Nations meal of elk and fish, hosted in their community longhouse. The purpose of this meeting as communicated by the host was to:

“Come into our home, eat our food, listen to what the family has to say, witness it and share it with others”.  

I was touched by the First Nation’s spirit of generosity and welcome.  Even after years of conflict with ‘white people’ they ask us into their home and said, “We don’t talk about the past or how long it took us to get to this place, but we are here now, so welcome!”  I recognized that there was a sense of vulnerability simply by asking people to come into their home. This sense of ‘open vulnerability’ made the space feel more safe and helped me to listen more deeply to what was being said – as I also felt vulnerable being in their space experiencing a longhouse dinner tradition for the first time.

There were several things that stood out for me that made me think about Circle work:

The event was ‘opened’ with traditional songs that the host later described as the ‘heart’ of their community. Even the woman next to me whispered, “Did you hear how the welcome song was to the rhythm of a heart beat?”  (Circle is all about heart).

Witnesses were called to take special care and attention to what was being said. I was told that the witnesses were given a gift (tokens) which connects and commits them to this role. (We are called to be witnesses in Circle).

Those hosting the conversation (opening speakers) wore a blanket across their heart. I am unsure as to why this tradition is practiced when speaking, although I am certain there is some significance here. (There is a relationship between the heart and speaking in Circle).

The longhouse consisted of a large dirt floor, surrounded by benches along the walls, making one giant circle. The crowd sat around the circumference. (We sit in a circle, when experiencing Circle).

It was communicated that, “We gather to hear real voices from a real floor (dirt), because this is how we have real conversations (versus the world of texting we live in)”.   (Circle is about getting back to ‘real’ conversations – effective listening and speaking).

* * * *  

The experience overall reminded that “A sense of community is found only through giving.”  Then I had an epiphany:  If story-telling is a kind of giving of our stories and selves, than it absolutely makes sense that healthy communities involve sharing our stories!!!  

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Value of Circle is in the Experience

I had a dream last night about creating a mural with a group of people. Everyone was committed to the project, pouring their hearts into the colorful masterpiece. When the mural was completed, it was painted over with white-wash, as if it had never been created. "What was the point in creating such a beautiful masterpiece accomplished by many, if only to destroy it?" one person asked. The group facilitator responded by saying, "It isn't the finished product we focus on, rather it's being a part of the process that we need to learn from". This dream made me think instantly about Circle.

We tend to look for 'measures of success', reasons to be involved, or the value in doing something before committing time and energy in the first place... A "What's in it for me?" mentality in a manner of speaking. Circle, however, is not about expecting an outcome. There is no finish line or destination that you will arrive at, no completed 'masterpiece' to be attained. Rather, the value of Circle is understood only by 'being in the process' and what takes place in that 'doing space' within ourselves (e.g. self-realization) and between others present (e.g. a group synergy) when we open our 'hearts' to what is taking place. As a friend of mine once told me, "I could describe it to someone until I am blue in the face, but they won't get it until they just do it!"

While there is much I value about experiencing Circle, the mural metaphor in my dream reminded me of something I value in particular about the process: It empowers me to be in such a way that is 'heart-led'.  It is the heart that leads my person when I create (draw, paint, etc.), it is the same for me in Circle. I would like to say that my heart steers my person 24/7, but I know my head or ego or other takes over from time to time. How might I live a life that is more heart-led?  Just like the heart muscle itself needs physical exercise for health and well-being, being heart-led requires that I exercise this way of being to have it grow within my life. I can do so in Circle.  I've also noticed that my heart starts to 'ache' when days go by and by and by without Circle, just like my bones and muscles start to ache when I don't do my yoga or get out for my walks (physical exercise) on a consistent basis. Time to exercise!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Etiquette of Potluck

I came across an interesting metaphor when reading "The World Cafe" today regarding the role of 'contribution' in group settings. The author reflecting on p.100 talks about how they began to think of Cafe conversations as being similar to potluck dinners, how each person contributes a unique dish is what makes a potluck so interesting, fun and nourishing. I started to think more about the essence of potlucks and how this could be used as a metaphor for how to understand & empower healthy group etiquette.

A potluck is a group gathering where each person attending brings a food item for the nourishment and enjoyment of others present. It is a community affair where celebration and connection is valued.

We trust that those bringing their contributions do so with love and care (no inedible ingredients to make others unwell).
We don’t question others cooking skills or require a detailed list of ingredients or the cooking instructions that went with their contribution.
We don’t criticize their dish and tell them how we would have rather made it.
We have the option to try a variety of dishes, no one is forced to eat anything they don’t like, are allergic to, etc.
We take responsibility for our own contribution and don’t expect others to cook for us or clean up after us.
If we require help, we ask for it. If we are unable to contribute, we communicate this.
What we bring to the table is for sharing.
Those invited are under no obligation to attend. 
There is an overriding presence of gratitude involved with a potluck - we are thankful for the presence of and contributions of others.

One group etiquette that has been on my mind for some time has been the idea of holding each other able.  I believe this is essential for individuals to be passionate about and empowered to contribute as well as for groups to sustain a cooperative working environment, more than ever within organizations that count on individual contribution as an essential aspect of the group's function or success. So how might we hold each other able in a group/organization setting? Perhaps this means that we agree to:

*Have confidence in each other’s talents, skills and leadership.
*Empower and support each other to carry out their roles & ideas
*Trust that individuals embody the group’s vision and objectives and carry out all undertakings accordingly.
*Value everyone’s contribution to the collective group and encourage creativity, diversity and entrepreneurship within the collective.

What do you do to empower this etiquette among others within your group?