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

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.


mary-mackenzie-150Yesterday I boarded a flight from Phoenix, Arizona to Oahu, Hawaii.  It was to be a 6.5 hour flight.  I had taken special care to reserve a window seat.  Upon boarding, I realized that I was seated in the middle seat, in the middle of the plane.  I was so frustrated and annoyed!   6.5 hours in the middle seat!

So, I was getting myself settled in my seat with an undercurrent of grumpy judgementalism.  The first thing that happened was a man in the row behind me offered to hold my tea while I got myself settled.  Next the man sitting to the left of me offered to hold my tea while I buckled my seatbelt.  Next, the man sitting to the right of me offered me the Phoenix newspaper that he had just finished.  This all transpired while I was grumbling internally, empathizing with myself, feeling worried about how uncomfortable I’m going to be for the next 6.5 hours, blaming airport employees for my miserable situation, etc.

Within 10 minutes, well before the plane started moving, I remembered that if I continue on this course, I will ensure that my flight is utterly miserable.  So, I took a deep breath, began empathizing with myself in earnest (not just enjoying the jackal show!), and began to shift my attitude.  Then, I napped for about 30 minutes because I realized (through self empathy) that the biggest obstacle for me was only getting 4 hours of sleep the night before.


mary-mackenzie-150I had an incident happen about a week ago and it took a few days for me to take the time to give myself self-empathy.  What came up was my longing for softness.  I have had a series of things that have happened in my life since September that have been harsh and hard and sad including my mother’s death, a very long and cold winter with over 160″ of snow, and a more intense than usual allergy season and many other things.  So, when I connected to a desire for softness I cried and cried.  I gave myself a lot of time to let this sink in and to remember other times when I’d received tender softness.

The mourning was very healing.

In an effort to support the need for softness I allowed myself long baths, longer than usual quiet time in the morning, and time to connect with a few friends who I find especially nurturing to be with.

Two days later I was on a plane that was VERY turbulent.  It was only a 30 minute flight but the plane rocked vigorously the entire time.  I ran to the connecting flight and only had about 3 minutes before getting on the next flight.  So, I boarded feeling nauseous.

I wrapped myself in my shawl, turned the overhead fan on, closed my eyes and tried to calm myself and my body.  I had a 3-hour flight and then a 35 minute ferry ride still to go on this trip.  After a few minutes the man next to me tapped my shoulder and said, “Do you want the fan on?”

“What?”

“Do you want the fan on?”

“Yes,” I said.  “Is it bothering you?”

“No,” he said.  “I just saw you wrapped in your shawl and I thought you might be cold.  I wanted you to know that I could turn it off for you.  I’m okay with it being on, though.”

He said all this with a huge and inviting smile.  He had one of those really warm faces.  The kind of face you just want to crawl into.

I felt so touched by his simple act of kindness and regard.  And I instantly remembered my self-empathy and my request to myself and the universe for softness.

This is one of the reasons I love self-empathy….because I clarify what I want and then I recognize it when it arrives.  Had I not just discovered through self-empathy that I wanted softness, I wouldn’t have noticed that my request was answered.  I still would have enjoyed this man’s kindness (probably) but I wouldn’t have seen it as a response to my request.

When I see it as a response to my request then that meets my needs for appreciation, gratitude, reassurance, trust and so many more.  My enjoyment and wonder deepens as a result.  In this particular moment, it helped alleviate my physical discomfort too.  And, ultimately moved me from an experience of fear (of throwing up in a bag!  Ack!)  to gratitude.  Awwww.  I just love that!

Here’s to the people who touch our lives so sweetly and who probably have no idea how sweet our passing was to us!


mary-mackenzie-150I leave this afternoon for a 1.5 week training trip.  I’m leading a weekend retreat this weekend in Arizona and then leave for Washington State Tuesday to lead a 4-day retreat, followed by time with my elderly Dad.

I have noticed that whenever I am getting ready to leave for a trip, I feel a lot of stress and it would be easy for me to express myself in a grumpy or disconnected way.

Yesterday, I had a long list of things I wanted to get done and my phone rang way more often than usual, a couple people stopped in to see me at my office unexpectedly, and many of the things I was trying to complete weren’t getting done as easily as I’d hoped.  So, by 2:00pm I was starting to really experience the pressure of it and my jackals began to howl.

This is all so familiar to me.  Yet another time when if I choose to believe my jackals that I can’t get everything done, that people are interrupting me, or that there’s just too much…, I could fall into a heap of overwhelm and despair.

I could feel myself heading down this path and so I chose to give myself empathy several times in the day by saying or thinking to myself, “Ugh.  I would really enjoy more ease and flow.”  Followed by a few deep breaths and then reminding myself how much time I have before leaving.


mary-mackenzie-150I’ve been studying Michael Brown’s Presence Process and recently read this portion of his book, The Presence Process P. 260.  I love how clear this is:

He’s talking about choosing to live in presence on a daily basis and he says, “For example, when we are paying for our groceries we are either focusing on the stuff that we are purchasing or we are focusing on the cashier who is ringing up the items for us.  We are either fretting about the prices of the products in front of us or we are greeting the cashier warmly.  We are either worrying about whether we have got all the right things for the dinner we need to prepare or we are asking the cashier how his or her weekend was.  We are either opening the gap by focusing on the stuff in it, or closing the gap (to connection) by acknowledging the Presence on the other side of it.  It is this simple.  It is this obvious.  It is this easy.”

There was a moment when I was in a phone store and I opened my mouth and said something to the clerk that truly demonstrated that I wasn’t connected to his humanness.  In that moment I thought “So, you think it’s okay to NOT live your NVC principles because you’re frustrated and because you don’t know him and probably won’t ever see him again?  How is that living in integrity?”

In that moment, I made a decision to be committed to living my NVC values no matter.  Well, the truth is I do miss the mark sometimes as everyone does, but not nearly as often.  My intention stays firm, to live my values no matter what.  If I miss the mark, I give myself and other people empathy.

The daily living in my values is an ongoing commitment, moment to moment.

How about you.  What intention are you living?


mary-mackenzie-150Bringing Presence, Joy and Creativity To Your Relationships and Life
A Women’s NVC 4-Day Intermediate* NVC Vacation Retreat
with
Mary Mackenzie

August 4 – 7, 2010        Lake Arrowhead, California

When: Wednesday, August 4 to Saturday, August 7, 2010

Where: Peaceful Pines, Lake Arrowhead, California

“Creating Abundance In Love and Life”
is a unique opportunity to blend life-changing learning, vacation play, and relaxation time along the lakeside beauty of a National Forest.

A renowned leader in compassionate change, Mary Mackenzie, M.A., is Executive Director, Flagstaff Center for Compassionate Communication, Co-founder NVC Academy, CNVC Certified Trainer, Mediator and Author.

“Creating Abundance in Love and Life” is designed to facilitate deep growth and freedom from “scarcity thinking” that can get in the way of experiencing all that is possible.

If we trust in the Universe that there are infinite strategies available to us for having our needs met, we can be in the energy to receive and connect with others. Relationships, life and finances can shift – allowing for greater presence, joy, and creativity.


mary-mackenzie-150I’m sitting here staring at my computer wondering what to write.  The thing that is most alive in me right now is too embarrassing to write about, I say to myself.  “Pick something less revealing.”  Unfortunately, nothing has come to mind after staring at the computer for 10 minutes so here goes, warts and all.

I met with a dear group of friends for our monthly book club meeting this Saturday.  I got VERY triggered, my jackals were howling in my brain and finally I left rather abruptly.   During the 2 hour gathering I had tried self-empathy and I made a few requests that weren’t well connected to needs and one could even argue about whether they were clear, doable requests, but the point is I made an attempt at shifting the situation and my experience of it.  To no avail, though.  I left shut down and in tears.


mary-mackenzie-150Attend this 4-Day NVC Workshop in Bainbridge Island, Washington

Empathy as a Way of Being:
Four Transformative Days of Learning to Live a More Compassionate Life

An in-person NVC Academy Workshop in Bainbridge Island, Washingtonwith CNVC Certified Trainers Mary Mackenzie and Kathleen Macferran
Wednesday, April 28, 1:00-6:00 pm through Saturday, May 1 at 12:00 noon

Fee:  $350 (meals and lodging not included and managed by each individual)

Empathy As a Way of Being is designed for intermediate or advanced NVC practitioners who want to deepen their empathic presence.

Atttend this workshop and:

  • Take your empathy skills to the next level
  • Increase your self-compassion
  • Deepen your own persona healing
  • Find out what prevents you from giving empathy and learn ways to maintain your presence
  • Enhance your skills for empathic connection
  • Explore street empathy for natural flow in your connections

Requested experience level: Significant facility using NVC in your daily life.  Completed at least 20 or more hours of NVC training.

More information and registration

 


mary-mackenzie-150Yesterday was April Fool’s Day.  This is a day when people play tricks on each other.   My mother enjoyed playing little tricks on people so April Fool’s Day was one of her favorite holidays.  One year when I was a little girl we were at the dinner table on April Fool’s Day when Mom said to my father, “John, did you notice anything unusual today?”  “No” he said.  “ANYTHING DIFFERENT ABOUT YOUR UNDERWEAR TODAY?” “Oh!  Yes, I thought I had put them on backward and so I just dealt with it.”  My mother was disappointed.  Apparently, she had sewn the fly in his boxers shut the night before.  My father had noticed a dilemma but had assumed he put his boxers on backwards and so just adjusted to it for the rest of the day.  We all thought that was hilarious.

This funny little story has been running through my head for the last two days.  This morning I realized that I often respond to things as my father did.  If something goes wrong, I assume it was my fault in some way and I adjust to the current circumstances.

I recently got a letter from the IRS which stated that a mistake had been made in my 2008 taxes.  I was certain I’d made a mistake.  So, I took my letter to my accountant, apologizing.  The mistake was his, actually, and not mine at all.  I left his office elated even though I owed the IRS more money.

Why is this?  Why do I (and my father and so many people) assume that we are wrong?  Or even that anyone has to be wrong?

I think it’s a core belief that we aren’t good enough, or that we’re not worthwhile.  Each time we believe this old, outdated thought, we negate our true self, our beautiful, spiritual self that has value and purpose just because we are breathing.

I’m taking a deep breath just writing this now.  I remember watching my mother hang on to life, frail as a rail, unable to feed herself, or even talk but she had breath, precious, life-giving breath.  I realized then that as long as we breathe we are spiritual beings with value.

I’d like to remember this more often.  It’s so easy to get hung up on thinking I’m supposed to do something, be better, or create an improved model of myself.  Today I want to remember that I am already good enough and this present moment is all that matters.  When I remember this, there’s no need for right/wrong thinking.

.


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.