Archive for May, 2011

Recht op wonen, op een nieuwe maatschappij

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Voor het eerst hoor ik van dit project in België: een gebouw waar een zestigtal mensen samenleven, en waar veel gebeurt rond recycling en upcycling. Goed dat het ook hier gebeurt!

Power, fail and one other word

Monday, May 30th, 2011

ALIA – the Authentic Leadership in Action, previously known as Shambhala Institute, is spreading its wings out from Halifax where it started many years ago. The came twice to The Netherlands and this summer they will gather in Columbus, Ohio. To introduce all the teachers – hosts – facilitators they asked them to speak about three words that are important for ‘change for good’.

Here you hear Tuesday Ryan-Hart and Chris Corrigan, both dear friends from the Art of Hosting community. Enjoy!

The lesson

Thursday, May 26th, 2011


When young, it was the first fall from love.
It broke me open the way lightning splits a tree.
Then, years later, cancer broke me further.
This time, it broke me wider the way a flood
carves the banks of a narrow stream.
Then, having to leave a twenty year marriage.
This broke me the way wind shatters glass.
Then, in Africa, it was the anonymous face
of a schoolboy beginning his life.
This broke me yet again. But this
was like hot water melting soap.

Each time I tried to close
what had been opened.
It was a reflex, natural enough.
But the lesson was, of course, the other way—
in never closing again.
– Mark Nepo

Reading this poem for the first time, it brought me back to a decision I took after a ten year old, and very intense relationship. I would not close my heart (again)! And I didn’t. I kept it open, letting all the pain be there – old and new.

Sinnéad O’Conner sings:
Thank you for healing me,
Thank you for seeing me,
Thank you for …
Thank you for breaking my heart,
now I have a strong, strong heart.

I think she is right.

On Silence

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

From my women friends who run Coming into Your Own, who started also In SIlence Together. I doesn’t mean that I have the same perspective on all she says, but still it is a great resource on SIlence.

Once Upon a Word

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

This was just send today over the Art of Hosting emaillist and I just love it! A nice story by Martin Challis (looks like his whole blog/site is amasing!

Once upon a time and in place that is near to where we are today. A few simple words decided to see what they could be together. They wanted to know if they could achieve more collectively than they could as individuals? As words went, some were better known than others as some occurred more frequently in common usage. Each one enjoyed being spoken out loud. Being announced gave them life and they experienced delight when uttered in song. Being whispered softly in a moment of intimacy or friendship was equally considered quite a treat. Each word possessed unique characteristics. Some were made up of more letters, others had more syllables. However the words did not judge their differences, in fact they celebrated them. They knew that their differences; some being older, some longer and some more experienced, gave them strength. The words also possessed latent talents. They were able to change their shape and appear as different expressions of themselves. They called this, playing a role, or being characters. After much discussion the simple words agreed that if they were to serve their greatest purpose they should work together in a way that would be of benefit to all who uttered or heard them. Ultimately it was decided that of all expressions, they should come together to form a question. It was unanimously agreed that this was their best option. A question they considered, could, when expressed in the right circumstances and in the right way, provoke deep thought and wise conversation. The words agreed that the best question would take the following shape: What are the clearest words we can summon, to ask the best questions, to be the best and give the best that we can be, right now? From this they noticed, to their great delight, other words often came along in response, partly in admiration but mostly to contribute to creating insightful responses. To this day the work of these words continues and people who use them are often very satisfied and very pleased with what emerges.


Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

An idea occured to me Sunday, working in my garden the whole weekend, I’m not growing vegetables, I’m cleaning this piece of land that I am currently stewarding and I’m doing my best to grow a good and healthy soil. On top of that I’m trying to create beauty along the way; and I am anjoying it all tremendously!

What follows is a little video of one of the many TED-talks, of which I am a fan. The Beauty of Pollination!
Beauty indeed!!!

Pods of Awakening

Monday, May 9th, 2011

My dear friend, Judy Wallace, is great in sensing the subtle. She is trying to bring her experiences in that domain into language, in an effort to share the wisdom she gains in this way. She started recently a series of blogposts called Pods of Awakening. To me it seems like pieces of the new story that we are in need of, and that are now showing up more and more.

I see pods of human and collective creativity, of all beings, now more visible to us and working intentionally, all of us together. Circles, morphing, moving effortlessly, interpenetrating realms and functions as we gracefully and effortlessly move in a life of wholeness, of co-creation. The pods seem like large bubbles of light bouncing on the land, connected to energy places on the Earth where the new collaborative wholeness of Earth civilization is taking form.

Outside the bubble of light there are still many areas of devastation, and suffering, death, or humans barely surviving. The old ways are dying, the new is manifesting in the midst of the compost heap of the old. The humans still living the old way do not see these lighted bubbles, these places and pods of joyous collective aliveness. We see them (from the bubble) around, they do not see us as they still do not perceive beyond the veil.

There are those of us who are Bridgers, the connectors, and we are teams of humans and invisible beings on the outside. We pierce the veil to re-enter the dying space-time continuum, to work with and offer possibility to the young especially, who are curious, open, and wanting to transform. They are open to new learning.

I know that once I saw an artwork from Dana Lynn Anderson that was exactly picturing these bubbles in the landscape. I still remember the imprint this art work had on me, although I didn’t have the financial means to buy it. It is still on my inner eye, and Judy’s blogpost revived this image. (Too bad I couldn’t find a picture of this art work.)

On resilience

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

I came across the website of Human Systems Dynamics Institute, of Glenda Eoyang. I haven’t met her, have not heard her, but here is a part of her latest Info-letter on Resilience, that I find useful. She is also the author of the Questions in Chaos: What, So What, Then What; a described in her Info-letter of Feb.’11.

We can think of resilience for an individual or a group as stable equilibrium—the system is balanced and is able to return to its original state after it is disturbed. The lack of resilience is unstable equilibrium—the system doesn’t return after being disrupted. We can use this distinction to build our capacity for resilience in three ways.

1. Take the opportunity in quiet times to gauge the stability of your own equilibrium with the following questions:
* How quickly do I recover from little disturbances?
* How comfortable am I in my current state and how afraid of disruption?
* What was the last time I was really surprised (positively or negatively), and how did I respond?
2. Assess the factors that influence the stability of your equilibrium with the following questions:
* How many and what kinds of connections hold me in place?
* Who are the people that I interact with each day and how do they make me more comfortable or less comfortable?
* What resources (emotional, financial, relationships, etc.) do I have and how long and how well could they sustain me?
3. Test your own equilibrium to build your resilient capacity by:
* Challenging your own assumptions and values
* Playing “what-if” games with others and by yourself
* Noticing how you respond to the small, everyday disruptions of life and finding ways to react with more grace and good humor

None of us knows how we would respond in such extreme stress as the Japanese, Egyptians, civil servants, or Burkinabe. We also do not know what challenges await us in a future that will test our stability, but we do know that our equilibria will be tested in the months and years to come. Will we find a stable equilibrium? Will we respond with resilience?

Once upon a time, at the castle…

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011


Last weekend I facilitated a workshop with one of my best friends, Mary Alice Arthur. We were hosted at Kasteel Nieuwenhoven and had a very pleasant, fine, inspiring time together with the participants. I’m copying here her blogpost… (she writes way better than I do!)

As is a tale, so is life. Not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters. – Seneca


I’ve always wanted to spend time in a castle. We have so many romantic notions of high ramparts, soaring towers, maybe a moat and drawbridge. I’ve visited many of those kind of castles and realised that our romantic ideas are not what it might have been like to live life there. This was something quite different.

Kasteel Nieuwenhoven, about an hour north of Brussels, began its life as a Benedictine Abbey more than 1,000 years ago. At some point it was acquired by a noble family who lived there until very recently, when, like many families, it found that the children had left home and nobody wanted to care for the place. It was then that a group wanting to become an intentional sustainable community bought it, and is slowly but surely transforming it into its next life stage.

It has always taken a large group of people to run a place of this size, so on one level, nothing has changed. But now the focus on the inner work of the spirit and the housing of family has combined into something that speaks to our time. A deep sense of stillness and spaciousness for inner work envelops you there, but also the sense of family and of life, enhanced by the way Spring is showing itself on the land in the form of newborn animals and millions of dandelion seeds, ready to take to the air and find a new home. It was the ideal place to talk about transforming our life stories and stepping with courage into the challenge of the crossroads.


The dandelion became our collective symbol over the weekend, a physical reminder of the seeds we all carry that are ready to find fertile, new ground. I’ve continued to learn over my life that there is such a thing as divine timing. Ria Baeck and I first talked about combining our fields of storytelling and bodywork/constellation work more than two years ago and it has been an interesting journey sensing into right timing for a workshop. Every so often, we would talk about it again, but it wasn’t the time to bring it to life.

It finally felt like the time this past weekend and we decided to still use the name we’d come up with more than a year ago: Embodying (Y)our Calling. We felt drawn to working with calling and also working with shadow, knowing deeply from our own journeys that your greatest gift can come from the deep wounds you carry. We had worked separately and together within other workshops with the potency of sharing stories, the release and focus of bodywork, and the ability of group constellations to show us the collective wisdom of a situation or system. It was finally time to dance as practitioners and co-learners together. We also wanted to work in a new way, not to be the experts, but to play in a co-creative field with people who decided to be there and to see what would emerge, if we all took on the role of stepping into supporting each other into naming and engaging with our calling.

There were two main parts to our story work. On the afternoon of the first day, we talked about the “Legacy Suitcase” everyone carries. I remember distinctly when I discovered mine. I was 25 and I’d just moved to New Zealand. I was very far away from anyone who knew me and I had the sudden inspiration that I could completely transform my identity and become someone totally new. I was the modern day example of someone escaping over the border with a new identity! I would be able to do whatever I wanted, be whoever I wanted to be and act however I wanted to act. It was time to throw off my past habits and embrace the new!

The rush of excitement and possibility didn’t last very long. I discovered I had an invisible suitcase that felt like it was attached to my ankle with a legchain. The suitcase was filled with conditioning from my family life and my experiences that caused me to react in certain, predictable ways. There seemed to be no way to leave the suitcase standing by the side of the road. I was forced to start unpacking. Bugger!

The bottom of the suitcase was filled with scars — both visible and invisible — as well as strengths — both known and unknown. They were thrown in there together and had become a bulky mess. There was also a toiletry bag filled with wounds and what I used to cover them up. Little did I know that my gifts were hiding in the same bag in the form of the shadows that needed to be integrated. In addition there was a whole pile of stories I was carrying that came from my family life, my cultural upbringing and all my life experiences. They were well-folded, but there was a musty smell about them. They desperately needed laundering. I somehow seemed to have lost the torch that I felt instinctively I was carrying, so I often got lost at night. And the sunglasses I had packed were particularly good at reflecting the shadows. I couldn’t really see them; every so often I walked into walls and wondered how that had happened. It is a wonder I was never charged excess baggage!

I realised what I needed was a new set of instructions on the inside lid of my suitcase. I needed a new shaping of my story, a mirror that reflected the best of me, and a list of powerful questions that could be pulled out at any moment to focus me on possibilities instead of breakdown. As a longtime traveller I can tell you that it is a skill to know what to pack, when to unpack and to do that intentionally!

The group grappled with the suitcase idea. ”I’d rather have hand luggage!”, someone said, while someone else admitted that theirs was coffin shaped. It is a challenge to open the suitcase, have a look and not fall in. Having an idea of what the journey might look like, helps. That evening I shared the story The Queen’s Cloak, by Joan Chamberlain Engelsman, as a first mapping of the road ahead.


The following morning people got to work creating a Life Journey Map. Then they shared it and their suitcase in trios, with two supporting the storyteller to look for the red thread or the river below the river, to rename what is in the suitcase and together to identify the crossroad the teller was standing at now. After lunch we did a constellation in pairs, with one of us representing the calling and the other person sensing how it felt to move around it, now coming nearer, now facing away, now embracing the calling. We shared what we both experienced. Simple, but powerful work!

On the morning of the third day, everyone wrote their own fairytale. Here are the story elements they worked with:

Writing the fairytale & the key question for the workshop – How do we listen, watch & engage each other into wholeness & mastery?

* Once upon a time there was…
* S/he was given the gifts of…
* And also…
* And then…
* Finally s/he came to the crossroads called…
* Standing at the crossroads was…
* Who tells her/him that _____ must be left behind and _____ picked up to move forward, and hands him/her a parchment which reads…

While small groups had been working together the day before the Muse came to visit me and I created a poem briefing of the exercise. It sounded like this:

Once upon a time – A fairytale in the making

Once upon a time, she said, is a very good place to start.
It takes you very far away, yet stays close to the heart
Of things that were and things that are, both difficult and true
And yet, if you can look this way, they seem outside of you.

Start right at the beginning, when someone gave you birth
And tell a bit about the frame of sadness or of mirth
Did you come into a castle, a village or a shack?
Did you have everything you need or did you live with lack?

What were those gifts, given there, that stayed with you since then?
What have you used, what have you left, what have you to befriend?
What was it in your character, your nature or your play
That pulled you to the centre or made you stay away?

Of course a child, must grow up soon and leave the family home
So did you find a place to be or take to the world and roam?
What were the challenges you met, what was the love you found?
Where was the world a swampy mess and where was solid ground?

What lessons still remain in you, what have you had to shed
That makes you who you are today, with all the life you’ve led?
What brought you to the crossroads, the place where you now stand
And by what name are they called, that place of sacred land?

Who stands there now to challenge you, what message have they brought,
About that which now could lie ahead, the calling that you’ve sought?
So take courage first, and take a breath and then pick up your pen
And craft a story for us now, the journey can begin…

At the end of our time together, we heard the crossroads part of everyone’s story. When they finished, we took a deep breath together and told them WE SEE YOU!, and then we gifted each person a round of words of power to accompany them on their journey. It was beautiful to see these words sink into the people and land. There was a quantum more strength and courage to go on, and the circle shimmered.

Deeply thoughtful stories like these are not heavy weights in the suitcase, but like the light but comforting sense of a warm angora shawl you can wrap around your shoulders against the cold of a long night and the loneliness of a challenging road. That ring of deep listening and glad sharing remains with me still, a castle I could live in.

Thanks Mary Alice for this beautiful harvest with words, and thanks Helen for the pictures!

Walk Out Walk On Song

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

Recently a new book was published – my copy is still on its way – written by Meg Wheatley and Deborah Frieze: Walk Out Walk On. They wrote stories about many friends and people that I know of, so I can highly recommend this book (even I haven’t read it yet); and you can check out the website that is build around it to check for yourself!

The writers asked another friend to write a song about it; and that is what Tim Merry did. This is what he writes:

Here is a song Marc and I wrote to to support Meg Wheatley’s and Deborah Frieze’s new book. It will also accompany an RSA video coming out soon.

In this era of increasingly complex problems and shrinking resources, can we find meaningful and enduring solutions to the challenges we face today as individuals, communities and nations?

In Walk Out Walk On: A Learning Journey into Communities Daring to Live the Future Now, Margaret Wheatley and Deborah Frieze invite you on a learning journey to seven communities around the world to meet people who have walked out of limiting beliefs and assumptions and walked on to create healthy and resilient communities. These Walk Outs who Walk On use their ingenuity and caring to figure out how to work with what they have to create what they need.

– By the bestselling author of Leadership and the New Science and Turning to One Another

– Provides an intimate experience of how seven different communities took on intractable problems by working together in new and different ways

– Immerses the reader in the experience of each community through stories, essays, first-person accounts and over 100 color photos