Remembering the Perfection of Life

By Mary Mackenzie, June 22, 2012 12:32 PM

The other day, I was running late and I rushed across town to get to my personal trainer for one of my weekly workouts.  I got into the parking lot, burst into her workout space spewing apologies like a machine gun, and then realized that I’d forgotten my water bottle so I raced outside again, literally jogging across the parking lot, when suddenly I stopped cold.

Walking down the middle of the parking lot, as if they had taken a measuring stick to determine where the absolute middle was, walked a mama duck, trailed by 8 teenage-size ducklings, with papa duck taking the rear.  They walked straight towards me, and then when they were within a few feet from me, they turned right down a different part of the parking lot.  Each of them followed every move mama duck made.  Even their feet moved in unison – all twenty feet rising and falling in rhythm.

They were beautiful and perfect and doing exactly what ducks are meant to do.  They weren’t rushing.  They weren’t apologizing.  They didn’t appear to be in any stress.  I imagine they weren’t telling themselves that they should be more considerate, leave earlier, or not keep other ducks waiting.  I imagine they weren’t questioning whether they were good enough ducks.

And, they inspired me to join them in their perfection.   For a few moments, I forgot that I had been late.  I forgot that I had kept someone waiting.  I forgot that I had any negative thoughts about myself and I was transfixed into pure enjoyment, acceptance and love of life and all its creatures – even me.   I wanted to clap with zeal, and I would have except that I was afraid it would scare the duck family.

Then, I realized that I was grateful.  Grateful that I was running late, grateful that I had forgotten my water bottle in the car, grateful that they had chosen that exact moment to make their trek through the parking lot, and grateful to be alive … with them.

Many of us rush through our lives, focused on tasks, and too often forget the purpose of our tasks or the needs we’re trying to meet with the tasks.  Then, we may start to lose touch with the very meaning and purpose for our existence.  Sadly, that often leads to depression or aggression and frantic attempts to prove that we’re okay, deserving and acceptable to the human race.  In my case, this looked like rushing across town, apologizing for my lateness, and thinking negative thoughts about myself.

When I saw the duck family waddle through the parking lot, I was struck in the heart like a bolt of lightning, and everything else fell away, leaving me in pure delight for the perfection of life.

What gets your attention and causes you to remember your heart or another’s heart?  Here are a few things that often do that for me:

  • Hearing a baby cry
  • Seeing someone coo to a baby, toddler or small child
  • Receiving someone’s smile
  • Hearing the voice or seeing the face of a good friend
  • Seeing animals outside my normal day-to-day life
  • Being in nature
  • Smelling something magnificent
  • Seeing anyone in distress
  • One of my favorites is being in the international terminal of an airport and seeing people scream, hug and cry when they greet loved ones who they haven’t seen in a very long time

What about bringing this to our day today?  What about greeting people we see every day with special zeal and excitement?  What about offering a big toothy, warm grin to a stranger?  What about taking a 5-minute break in nature, or really watching your family pet until you see and feel their perfect beingness?  Or, just stopping for a moment and reflecting on what you are grateful for?  Or, better yet, reflecting on what you like best about yourself?

I want to remember the beauty and perfection of my life more often.  I’m grateful for the duck family and when I step out my door in a few moments, I hope to greet whoever I see with genuine gratitude for their presence.  I hope you’ll join me.

In peace,


Living in the Observation as a Daily Practice

By Mary Mackenzie, April 12, 2012 4:08 PM

Everything someone does or says is an attempt to meet a need …. Really?

The other day, I was in a gathering and I ran into a woman two times.  What I mean is, I looked up and she was right there and we were standing so close that I was startled.  After an hour at this event, I was pulling out of my parking place.  I looked both ways and waited for a car to go by and then pulled out of my parking space and I nearly side-swiped the lady’s car.  The very same lady!

In each case, I apologized and blamed myself.  Then, on my way home, I started to blame her.  Do you ever find yourself ruminating on your judgments and trying to place blame?  Has this behavior ever relieved your anxiety or angst over the situation?  It hasn’t succeeded for me even once, yet I’ve tried it countless times throughout my life and one more time with this lady.

If it’s true that ‘everything someone does or says is an attempt to meet a need,’ what needs would judgment and blame serve?

Continue reading 'Living in the Observation as a Daily Practice'»

Warmest Holiday Wishes and an Inspiration from John Lennon

By Mary Mackenzie, December 26, 2011 11:41 AM

Happy Holidays!  This song / message from John Lennon and Yoko Ono was inspiring and lovely for me to receive.  I hope you enjoy it as well.  It reminds me that peace starts with me and it’s possible if I am committed to it in my life.  It takes true commitment, even a kind of fierceness, to live nonviolently and in such a way that values all needs.

On this day, I say I am committed for one more day to live my value of nonviolence.  I hope you’ll join me.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono:

Warmest Holiday wishes to you,


Occupy Movement – Clarity and Warmth

By Mary Mackenzie, November 22, 2011 3:02 PM

I found the following short video very touching and enlightening.  It helped me feel more connected to the Occupy Movement and to appreciate their efforts.  Take a few minutes to watch it and i hope it will be inspiring to you as well:

The New NVC Multimedia Library

By Mary Mackenzie, May 19, 2011 2:40 PM

If you haven’t taken a few moments to look at the NVC Academy’s new NVC Multimedia Library, I would HIGHLY recommend that you do.

The Multimedia Library contains 150+ trainer resources (more will be added on an ongoing basis!) that include:

  • Recorded telecourses on a variety of topics
  • MP3 and MP4 downloads
  • Videotaped trainings
  • Trainer Tips for living NVC
  • Articles
  • eBooks
  • Online courses
  • And More!

Now, in one place, you can find tips for sharing NVC to others, tips for living NVC, brush up on your NVC skills or simply receive comfort and nurturing from daily reminders of how NVC enhances your life and relationships.

Starting at $15/month, the price can’t be beat.

Please take a few moments to check out the new NVC Multimedia Library and all it has to offer!  I alone have 20 resources in the Library!


Killing of Osama Bin Laden – Inject the Situation with Love

By Mary Mackenzie, May 11, 2011 12:23 PM

I have been feeling very sad about the killing of Osama Bin Laden – how it was handled and the joy with which people are responding to it.  I have been doing some personal work of late on forgiveness and atonement and so my way of dealing with the situation is to be honest with myself about what my part is, to take responsibility for my part, to forgive myself, to atone (I don’t have an idea for how to do this yet with regard to this specific situation but I’m praying about it), and especially to not add hatred or judgment to the situation.

It is challenging to understand in an intellectual way that I have a part in something happening thousands of miles away.  And yet, I know that we are all one and interconnected; every action I take has an affect on others.

For me it is imperative that I remember this because it helps me live in greater honesty AND it reminds me that I can take active part in creating a world of peace and mutual respect.  Just by consciously choosing to add love and understanding to the situation (rather than hate or judgment), I am taking clear, positive action toward creating the peaceful world I want to live in.

Does this condone what Osama Bin Laden has done?  No.  Absolutely not.

Does it minimize the pain of people who lost loved ones on 9/11?  No.  I have great compassion and love for each person who experienced loss.

I am merely saying that I don’t think adding further anger and judgment to the situation is helpful.  I truly believe the world needs more love, tenderness and care to heal.  And, so this is what I am focused on providing.

Please join me!


NVC Multimedia Library is Launched – A Result of Your Input

By Mary Mackenzie, May 9, 2011 10:39 AM

I’m very proud to announce the newly launched NVC Multimedia Library Through the NVC Academy.  My business partner, Mark Schultz, and I have spent the last year reorganizing the NVC Academy.

We started by implementing a comprehensive survey that was sent to all 8500 members of the NVC Academy, we studied the results of the survey, and then based on what we heard people asking for, we reorganized the NVC Academy, including creating the NVC Multimedia Library.  It was a labor of love that took 14 months to implement.

Please take a few minutes to check it out!

The NVC Multimedia Library includes (at a starting point!  We’ll continue to add new resources.) 150 resources from 40 trainers from across the globe.  You now have at your finger tips an amazing array of training segments, full recorded telecourses, articles, ebooks and trainer tips – in audio, video or written format. We even offer 3 online courses.

There are countless topics that cover NVC enthusiasts who are just getting started and those with a little or a lot of experience – and everything in between.  No matter what your preferred topic(s) is or your level of NVC experience, you will find many resources in the Multimedia Library.

Look here for my resources in the Multimedia Library:

Look here to browse all that the Multimedia Library has to offer:

Do you have a favorite trainer who you enjoy learning from?  Browse for their resources on the left search engine of the Library called “Browse by Trainer.”

I hope that you’ll agree that the NVC Multimedia Library is exciting and innovative.   Secondly, I hope it will become a valuable resource for you and other NVC enthusiasts from around the world.

Here’s to peace,


Making Collaboration Real: Empowering the Workplace with Nonviolent Communication

By Miki Kashtan, February 3, 2011 3:31 PM

with Miki Kashtan, Martha Lasley and many more!

March 17-20, 2011
You won’t want to miss this event!

Learn from top professionals and consultants when eight presenters come together to share their experience of using and teaching Nonviolent Communication in the workplace. We’ll explore new tools that provide a framework for addressing organizational challenges collaboratively.

Global Collaboration GreenJoin us in San Francisco for four days of intensive learning, and discover new practices that enhance partnership, teamwork and productivity.

Each morning will be filled with structured presentations, followed by self-organized, open space in the afternoons.

This conference is for people who work in organizations, whether you’re a business owner, executive, manager, community leader or staff member. We also welcome anyone who wants to empower the workplace, including consultants, coaches, and Nonviolent Communication trainers.

Presenters include Miki Kashtan, Martha Lasley, Gregg Kendrick, Dian Killian, Wes Taylor, Marie Miyashiro, Edmundo Norte, Ulrich Nettesheim.

So think about who to invite and put the dates on your calendar for Making Collaboration Real: Empowering the Workplace with Nonviolent Communication (March 17-20, 2011)!

For more information and to register

Empathy in the Workplace: A Workshop with Miki Kashtan

By Miki Kashtan, February 3, 2011 3:24 PM
Friday, March 4, 2011, 12:00pm-2:00PM
First Congregational Church of Oakland


Would you like to increase effectiveness and connection in your organization?

Are you tired of difficult conversations and strenuous meetings and would like some manageability in your work life?

In this workshop we plan on exploring some basic principles related to empathic communication in the workplace. We are particularly hopeful that groups and organizations will send some key individuals to this event.

The focus of this workshop is to provide an introduction to the following principles and practices and explore how to bring them into the workplace:

  • presence, even in the face of difficulty
  • clarity of purpose when making decisions or running meetings
  • attention to both parties’ needs in a conflict
  • providing feedback without criticism

Miki Kashtan, certified NVC trainer, is a founder of Bay Area Nonviolent Communication and the North America Leadership Program. Miki conducts organizational trainings, consults with private and public sector organizations and teaches NVC at workshops in the San Francisco Bay Area and around the country. Miki has been supporting global social change movements, including coaching of Peace Alliance members in their Department of Peace campaign, facilitation of the African Alliance for Peace summit in Ghana, and a global peace building and conflict transformation summit in Japan.

You may enjoy watching:

10-minute video interview of Miki Kashtan discussing empathy.

10-minute video of Miki Kashtan coaching role plays on the BayNVC Conflict Hotline TV show.

Be a Resource for Your Community – a Workshop with Miki Kashtan

By Miki Kashtan, February 3, 2011 2:45 PM

Friday, March 4th, 2011, 4:30-6:30PM at the First Congregational Church of Oakland


Would you like to become a resource in your community?

This engaging workshop is one fruit of Miki Kashtan’s commitment to transforming the ways we interact with each other and the larger world. People at all skill levels can dive deeply into the world of possibilities that open up with a practice of empathic presence in our communities. This workshop is designed to support you in the following areas:

* capacity to stay present in challenging situations
* ability to reflect your understanding regardless of content
* competence in checking for understanding of deeper meaning of what is shared
* willingness to listen empathically, without trying to solve problems

This workshop is highly interactive and includes exercises using situations volunteered by class participants as material for learning.  Repeated attendance is encouraged, as learning and insights arise freshly each time.
What past participants have said about this workshop:

“For once a seminar leader didn’t try to cram in too much stuff, but instead really committed to her material and ‘let it breathe.’ Very effective!”
~ Floyd Smith

“Miki Kashtan’s class reintroduced me to the value of silence as part of deep listening. The most profound moment came when my partner and I looked into each other’s faces without saying a word. It was both uncomfortable and transformative, and the experience is still with me. I believe this is a vital skill to take into any kind of community building setting, where many people are more focused on giving their opinions than deeply listening to other participants.”
~ Judy Pope

Miki Kashtan, certified NVC trainer, is a founder of Bay Area Nonviolent Communication and the North America Leadership Program. Miki consults private and public sector organizations, leads NVC workshops and retreats, and facilitates conferences around the world. . She also hosts a monthly call-in television show, The Conflict Hotline, which is viewable through She holds a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California at Berkeley. You can read her writings at
10-minute video interview of Miki Kashtan discussing empathy.

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