• Blue Mountains
  • Tree In Water
  • Field 01
  • Beach Break
  • Cloudy Mountains
  • Beach Bird

Welcome to 2017! No matter where you live in the world, this New Year poses many opportunities to recommit to living our value of nonviolence. Remember, that Marshall Rosenberg and Mahatma Gandhi both believed that violence is a continuum, anything from judgment to physical abuse. Our goal is spend as much of our life as possible outside of that continuum. We’re not looking for perfection – all of us have moments when we are critical of others or ourselves – we are looking for a commitment toward limiting the time we spend on the continuum of violence.

Many years ago, I felt utterly despairing that world peace was possible. And, then I realized that I was looking for it outside of myself – in my political leaders, supervisors, friends, ministers, and others. And, while I was looking for it outside of myself, I myself wasn’t acting peacefully in my everyday interactions with my family, friends, and others I encountered.


mary-mackenzie-150The 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.


mary-mackenzie-150Everything 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?


mary-mackenzie-150Happy 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:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cJOm72QDDA&feature=related

Warmest Holiday wishes to you,

Mary


mary-mackenzie-150I 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.


mary-mackenzie-150Neuroscientist Dr. Tania Singer was recently at Stanford University during the Dalai Lama’s visit.  She was interviewed about the definitions and differences between empathy, compassion and courage.  Her definitions are somewhat different than in a traditional NVC model and I enjoyed listening to her responses and pondering how her views matched or disagreed with mine.


mary-mackenzie-150Blame, blame, blame….it is so easy to blame, isn’t it?

I’m discouraged over how automatic and easy it is to blame.  The other day I was driving in an area I didn’t know so I turned on my trusted GPS unit (Daniel) and entered my information.  Daniel was taking more time than usual and so I started out in the direction I suspected was correct.  No sooner had I gotten started when Daniel said in his calm British accent, “Recalculating.”  And I said in a voice louder than I am proud of, “Well, you didn’t tell me where to go!”

Kaboom.  I blamed a computer.  I actually blamed a computer.


mary-mackenzie-150This morning I went to the club to swim laps.  I had forgotten my swim suit a couple of days ago and so I asked the desk clerk to look in the lost and found for it.  It wasn’t there and so I said out loud (much to my disappointment), “I can’t believe someone stole my swim suit!”  I went back to the locker room so see if it was there and then went back to the clerk and said, “Is there anyplace else you can check?  I just can’t believe someone would steal my swimsuit.”  He checked a few other places and determined it wasn’t there.

Not having other workout clothes, I couldn’t think of anything else I could do for a workout so I hopped into the Jacuzzi.  While sitting in the Jacuzzi, I started to notice my thinking which went something like this, “I can’t believe someone stole my swimsuit.”  “I’ve been coming here for years and nothing has ever been stolen.”  “I’ve lived in Flagstaff for 20 years and nothing has ever been stolen.” “This used to be such a safe place to live.”

After about 5 minutes I woke up.  Sat straight up in the Jacuzzi and said out loud (fortunately, no one else was around), “Mary, what do you actually know?”  I answered, “That I left my swim suit here on Tuesday and Thursday it wasn’t here.”

I said this to myself a couple of times until I calmed down.  Then, I felt embarrassed of what I had said to the desk clerk and my thoughts in the next several minutes, so I gave myself empathy for wanting to be more conscious, to live without blame, to Live in the Observation.  Deep breath.

To me, Living in the Observation, is a spiritual, moment-to-moment practice.  It requires me to WAKE UP, notice what I’m thinking or saying, and bring myself right back to the observation.  In doing this, I don’t allow myself to linger in the suffering I cause by what I make up about a situation.  In this case, what I made up was that someone stole my swim suit, that Flagstaff wasn’t a safe place anymore, and that my club wasn’t a safe place anymore.  All of those thoughts caused me suffering – self-induced suffering.  When I can bring myself back to what I know “I left my suit at the club on Tuesday and it wasn’t there on Thursday,” I can pull myself out of suffering and relax.

I don’t know what happened to my suit.  Maybe it was stolen.  Maybe it was ruined (because I left it in the sauna to dry) and so someone threw it away, maybe something else.  The point is I don’t actually know what happened to it, so imagining what might have happened to it only causes suffering.  I prefer to Live in the Observation so I can enjoy my life experience more.

Okay, so here’s a bit of gratitude.  The time span from the time I walked into the club and when I woke up in the Jacuzzi was approximately 10 minutes.  I used to live entire years in self-induced suffering.  I am incredibly grateful that I WAKE UP much more quickly now.


mary-mackenzie-150Today I got a handwritten card from someone who is visiting family in Ohio.  She wrote to tell me how much she appreciates my book Peaceful Living that was published in 2005.  Then, she mentioned that she was writing because she’d heard about the forest fires in Flagstaff and wanted me to know she was thinking about me and wishing me well.  I don’t know this person and don’t recall having any previous correspondence with her.

I am so touched by this card and the sentiment because of the community, care, and love I receive from it.  You know, sometimes I just go about my life and forget how many lives I touch just by living.  Do you ever feel as if what you’re doing isn’t making a difference?  Or, that you’re not making progress?

I have felt that way many, many times in my life.  And then today I get a card from someone in Ohio who tells me she’s thinking about me and appreciating my book and hoping I am safe.

I believe my role is to live each day in integrity with my values as best as I can.  To keep showing up for life valuing all needs, focused on the life in each of us, and committed to nonviolence.  When I do this I feel better about myself and I feel better about everyone who crosses my path.

I am so grateful to be reminded of this, and equally grateful to know that there are people thinking of me and wishing me well, even when I am not aware of it.  This helps bolster my commitment to live in NVC consciousness.

I write this now because I want to express gratitude and to let you know I’m thinking about you; whoever reads this, I’m thinking about you and sending love.

mary


mary-mackenzie-150I’m in Hawaii for three weeks offering a variety of trainings.  Nearly every day I express my gratitude that I get to do work that I love so much, in a place that is so beautiful to me, and to work with people whom I love.  Ahhh.

There have been many moments that I have thought, “remember this for the blog, Mary,” but have been distracted by all the beauty and joy and snorkeling and hiking with friends.  So, this morning, I will write about one thing and I hope to write again tomorrow.

I was in the second day of a 4-day retreat and I noticed that I felt uncomfortable with one of the participants and my inner chatter was saying, “He’s not satisfied with the workshop” and “He’s smirking” and “I actually have no idea what’s going on with him!”  I became aware of my jackal howling at the lunch break.

Does your jackal howl in your ear for a while before you notice her?  Sometimes, mine howls for a while before I become aware of her.  I believe this is because it is so familiar to have judgmental or critical thoughts.  NVC is teaching me how to become more aware of my jackal inner voice and to respond to her much more quickly, rather than be complacent in my judgments.