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Archive for March, 2010

mary-mackenzie-150Two days ago I decided to take the day off.  My allergies are flaring and I have been longing for time alone in my house.  My housemate decided to take the day off too.   The previous Monday the same thing happened.  So, for two weeks I have been trying to carve out some alone time in my house without success, and becoming more desperate for it as a result.

At first I felt annoyed and even mad that she didn’t go to work.  My jackal thoughts went something like, “ARGH!  What will it take for me to have alone time in my house?!?  There’s simply not enough room for me under these circumstances!”

Then, I got sad and started to mourn my lack of space and peace.  I could also connect with overwhelm and wanting ease.

I cried for about 10 minutes, just letting the feelings go, not trying to control them, justify them or even understand them.  I just let them flow as I connected to my needs for space, choice, and peace.

Then, a calm fell over me when I thought, “Well, how much space do you want?  What specific amount of time would support you today?”  I realized that I had a class starting at 4:00 pm that day.  It was 11:30 am right now, so what I really wanted was 4.5 hours of alone time in my house.

Suddenly, the situation didn’t seem so enormous and with this clarity I left my room and said to her, “You know I’m pretty desperate to have alone time and the last two times I’ve tried to do that you had a day off too.  Being alone helps me rejuvenate and renew and I’m pretty depleted right now.  I’m not trying to get away from you; I truly just need alone time for my own renewal.  Would you be willing to leave the house until 4:00 pm today?”

She pondered it for a minute, trying to figure out how she could do that and how it would impact her life.  Then she said, “Okay.”

The next day we talked about it.  She said she had been unclear about how she wanted to spend her day when I approached her.  She had work she wanted to do but had been telling herself that she should take the day off.  In the end, my request helped her clarify that she really wanted to go to work that day, and take another day off when she wasn’t so pressured with deadlines.

In the old days I probably wouldn’t have asked her to leave the house for a few hours because I would have been stuck in scarcity thinking which tells me that one of us will lose.  And if I think one of us will lose, I would usually choose to leave my need unmet.  Today, simply by giving myself a few minutes of self empathy, I realized the depth of my need and a specific request that I could make.  I was prepared for her to say no, or to negotiate the specifics of my request until we found a way for both our needs to be valued.  By making the request, I opened the door for both of our needs to matter and to be met.

When I unilaterally decide to not ask for what I want, I am living in scarcity and thus demonstrate that my needs don’t matter. When I take the time to empathize with my needs and then make a clear request, I am living in abundance, and creating the possibility that all our needs matter.

Had I not made my request, I believe I would have spent the day agitated, overwhelmed and judgmental, and stuck in thinking that there’s not enough space in the house for me. As it turns out, I spent the day with my phones turned off, reading, watching a movie, napping with my cat, and not leaving the house until my class at 4:00 pm.  I felt rejuvenated, satisfied, and full of love for my housemate.

mary-mackenzie-150I bought a new TV a few weeks ago.  Odd how excited I feel about this.  Whenever I buy something that costs more than $200  it feels like a big deal.  It is so rare that I buy something if the previous item still works perfectly.  I bought my old TV used  in 1992.  I have never had it serviced and it works fine.  I’ve been kind of thinking about getting a new TV for a while and have even looked at them in different places but could never bring myself to actually do it.  So, I was in a store that was having a sale and I bought it.

I came home and set up the TV and promptly put the old TV in my closet because it works and I can’t seem to let it go yet.

This purchase and watching myself has enlightened me some on my purchasing gremlins.  I have a hard time letting go of something that works perfectly fine.  I think this is my Dad’s Scottish influence and connects to integrity and fairly sharing resources and even respect.  Yet, it’s hard to pass up a good deal – Mom’s Irish influence which I believe is about fun and grace.  Once I get the new thing, I REALLY struggle getting rid of the old thing (because what if the new thing breaks – I’ll have this as a back up just in case there’s a movie emergency!) which for me seems to be attached to security and trust.

My mother had a closet in their big house.  We called it the green closet because once 30 years ago it had been painted green.  It hadn’t been green for at least 20 years but we all knew it was the green closet and it gave my parents, siblings and I a certain sense of predictability and trust keeping the name even though we changed the color.  Even the grandkids of that era knew what we meant when we called it the green closet.  Anyway, the green closet was filled with broken items that Mom was planning on gluing back together someday.  One of them was a bust of John F. Kennedy, Jr. that she got for Pop because, as she said, “He loved JFK!”   She said it was one of his treasured items.  I remember clearly the day it broke.

My oldest sister and brother were having a knock down kind of fight, really going at it.  It was scary and I was about 8 years old at the time.  “The Bust” got broken and we all shuddered knowing Pop would be furious because his precious bust had gotten broken.  He got mad at them for having a fight but laughed about the bust.  He never liked JFK he said.  Never voted for him.  Hated “the damn bust.”  It held no value for him at all and in fact was a source of friction for him.

Mom liked JFK and so bought the bust for Pop.  It was her treasure.  She had given him something that she treasured, I believe, as a way of connecting with him and sharing in a value of hers.

That broken bust of JFK  lived in the green closet from 1966-2005 waiting to be glued until my folks moved into a small duplex, in their elder years.  There simply wasn’t room in the new place for Mom’s broken treasures.

Countless times in my growing up years I tried to throw the bust and other broken items away but Mom wouldn’t have it.  I felt annoyed every interaction about this topic.  Now I understand that her treasures were just that, treasures.  Things that held meaning to her.  Getting rid of them, even broken,  must have felt scary because she so valued predictability, safety and security.  My needs at the time were about wanting space, beauty and choice.

So, I was pondering all of this as I was purchasing my new TV and putting the 20 year old TV and somewhat newer DVD player in my closet.  My first thought was that this actually seems kind of “normal” to me because they work and no glue or repair is required.  Who knows, maybe there will be a movie emergency and I’m going to get the satisfaction knowing that I can whip out my handy backup on a moment’s notice.  Or it will just live there quietly until I’m tired of it taking up space and then I’ll haul it (yes, it’s VERY heavy!) to the thrift store down the block.

Yep, my needs for hanging onto the old TV and DVD player are the same as Mom’s green closet of treasures, safety and security and predictability.  My needs then are the same as now also, space, beauty and choice.  All met with my current choice to store the old TV and DVD player in my closet.

If I want to consider myself more enlightened than Mom, I could get rid of the old TV and DVD player sometime before 2049 so there’s lots of time for more pondering.  Meanwhile, I am certain that Mom is in her afterlife surrounded by her treasurers, the broken JFK bust and all.

Mary Mackenzie, Flagstaff, Arizona

mary-mackenzie-150I’m excited about starting my blog.  I’ve thought long and hard about what I wanted the content to be.  Finally, I decided that the mundane task of living NVC on a daily basis complete with all the foibles, missed opportunities for connection, downright blatant jackal voices, and the continual re-commitment to living NVC is where I wanted to put my focus.  I am passionate about the value of focusing on self, not at the exclusion of others, but rather as an acknowledgment that the best chance I have of living in a peaceful world is if I live peacefully myself.  I am no longer excited about social change outside myself.  I know that if I am successful at living peacefully, I create peace.

I was recently listening to NPR (National Public Radio) and a story came up about a pediatrician in the United States who had been molesting children for decades.  At the time of the report over 130 children (now adults) had come forward with complaints.  I literally groaned out loud, turned off the radio and then started praying.  I thought, “Bless all the children involved.  Bless their families.  Bless every person or animal who they have ever interacted with or with whom they will ever interact.  Bless the pediatrician.  Bless the pediatrician’s family…”

As the impact of one person’s actions began to take shape I cried hard as the overwhelm of it took hold.

Then, after crying hard for a few minutes, I felt an internal shift.  Suddenly, I was filled with hope, love and gratitude because I started going through the same process with regard to our world’s collective growth of consciousness.  Then I started to think, “Thank you for every single person who has ever been affected or will ever be affected by my growing consciousness, and every individual person in the world’s growing consciousness…”

I realized that we can feel utterly overwhelmed with the state of our world and negate our own power in shifting it.  And when we negate our power, we forget how profoundly important it is to focus on “being” the presence in the world we want.

This is no small task.  I believe it requires daily, sometimes moment-by-moment focus and commitment, taking responsibility for our part in any pain or violence in our world, and consciously shifting our course as a result.

So, on this day, I commit my blog to this small, simple topic of living in peace and integrity in my own life, thus supporting whatever sphere of influence I have, knowing that it is enough. My focus will be on living in NVC and presence to expand the peace I experience (and the peace I demonstrate) in my world.

Peace to whomever reads this,

Mary Mackenzie, Flagstaff, Arizona