Ki Moments Blog

Support for life’s “key” moments.

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  • June 16, 2020

    Making Assumptions: Can You Catch Yourself?

    Making Assumptions: Can You Catch Yourself?

    Have you ever wondered what was going on in another person's mind when they spoke or acted in a way that for you was unimaginable? Did you leap into curiosity or judgment? 

    When our indoor pool was still open, I was enjoying the hot tub after my daily swim when I was joined by a fellow early morning swimmer. We know each other by name but otherwise not well. Without preamble, he began talking about the news of the day as if I was in his brain, knew exactly where he was coming from, and agreed with his views on the politics involved.

    He was really upset with what was going on in the primary race (COVID-19 wasn't yet a common topic of discussion) and he assumed I was also upset. I couldn't tell if he expected me to engage in the conversation or if he just needed to be heard. I didn't engage. I was enjoying my quiet time in the tub, and didn't want to encourage his strong emotions. I also felt differently about some of things he was angry about. 

    Regardless, he kept up a one-sided conversation, with increasing anger and frustration....

  • May 19, 2020

    The Tao of Tea

    The Tao of Tea

    My Ki Moments post today, The Tao of Tea, is by Jonathan Blakeslee, who writes about someone from his past, a role model who used aikido principles to disarm and redirect a difficult customer. As Jonathan puts it, I learned a lot from Veerinder, who in many ways inspired me to walk the path I am on now work-wise.

    If you live anywhere in or near the seacoast of New Hampshire, you probably know Jonathan and his work. He and his restaurant--White Heron Tea--are a wonderful feature of life here. Even in the shutdown, White Heron Tea continues to offer healthy and organic signature teas (and delicious muffins, cookies, and sandwiches). Knowing this, I think you'll appreciate Jonathan's essay even more.

    Whether Veerinder knew of aikido, he certaily understood how to turn an enemy into an ally, and how to advocate without attacking. Thank you, Jonathan, for the wonderful story....

  • April 21, 2020

    Human Kindness: Passing it Along

    Human Kindness: Passing it Along

    I’ve been thinking a lot lately about kindness. Not in any big, universal way. Just in the small, day-to-day way. I think the impetus was an email I received from a good friend, Pam McPhee, who sent along a poem as well. The email and poem are printed below.

    Pam is a special spirit in the world who teaches by example. She doesn't know she's doing it most of the time, but she just is kindness, compassion, resilience, and good, and I'm grateful for her presence in my life.

    Maybe the email started my reflections or maybe there’s just something in the air these days. A pressing need to be nicer, to notice the good, and to pass it along. And I've been making a conscious effort to notice what is already good everywhere around me, if I choose to look....

  • March 24, 2020

    Not Cancelled: Love

    Not Cancelled: Love

    It's good to do uncomfortable things. It's weight training for life.

    --Anne Lamott

    Things have changed. The world is not the way it was a month ago. 

    • The pool is closed, swim teams canceled, my daily swim on hold.
    • Aikido classes canceled.
    • Public Library closed.
    • Workshops canceled.
    • Church canceled.
    • Grocery store shelves with holes where canned goods and paper products used to be.
    • Many losing jobs and worried about the next meal.

    And yet....

    • Calls with family increase exponentially, making sure we're all healthy and that Mom is safe.
    • Daily routine more relaxed, less stressed.
    • Learning to work virtually, be more creative.
    • Long walks, hikes, and rambles in the warming weather, strangers smiling and waving at me.
    • Families playing outside together.
    • Restaurants, businesses and residents pitching in to help neighbors and others who need food and assistance.
    • Reading a lot, my pile of "someday" books dwindling.
    • Quiet time-yes!
    • My suitcase unpacked!
    • Church on Facebook Live!

    An inspiring graphic from WeAreUnsinkable.com appeared by way of my sister, Paula, on Facebook last week, and it helped me regain some perspective....

  • February 25, 2020

    The In-Between Place

    The In-Between Place

    I'm excited to introduce a good friend, Susan Poulin. Actor, author, playwright and performance artist, Susan recently created a Talk for TEDxPortsmouth, here in Portsmouth NH where I live. Susan's TEDx Talk--Can You Find Your Identity Through a Heritage-Language--is fabulous. You should watch it if you want to see a really great Tedx Talk, and learn a bit about Susan's journey to re-learn her native French language. 

    As fascinating as is Susan's story of the journey back to her roots, how she achieved the goal of a stellar online video is an education in centered presence and emotional intelligence, and I asked her to write about it. I know you'll enjoy Susan's video, and the tale of discovery that led there....

  • January 28, 2020

    I'm About to Learn Something!

    I'm About to Learn Something!

    Whenever conflict, large or small, comes along we are about to learn something.
    —Donna Schaper, Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church in New York City.

    I write often about the opportunities inherent in conflict, and about the importance of practice. The concept of practice applies to any skill we want to cultivate and, without doubt, practicing new conflict and communication skills requires some risk-taking.

    Yet, every conversation we engage in can be seen as a kind of practice. In the ones that go well, it may be easier to see the skills we used -- I had a clear purpose, I was centered, I asked some useful questions that helped my partner get to what was really bothering them.

    Yet, in my experience, it is the challenging, difficult, risky conversations that offer the greatest learning....

  • December 31, 2019

    Looking Back From the Future

    Looking Back From the Future

    When I first met Thomas Crum, my most generous mentor in this work I do with conflict and aikido, he asked the group he was leading to partner up and do an exercise on visioning--a very different kind of visioning.

    Instead of imagining the year ahead and writing down goals, Tom asked us to imagine we were looking back on the year ahead from a vantage point of having already lived it.

    We were to tell our partner all the things we hoped the year would bring--financial well-being, strong relationships, physical health, workplace success--but in a way that told the story as if these things had already happened. 

  • December 3, 2019

    In the Spirit of Giving: Respect, Presence, and Pausing for Breath

    In the Spirit of Giving: Respect, Presence, and Pausing for Breath

    Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

    -- attributed to Ian Maclaren (1850-1907)

    In this month of sharing gifts, I'd like to share four brief stories from Ki Moments subscribers like yourself. Over the years, stories like these from generous readers demonstrate how big a difference it makes when we pause, take a moment to find our presence, and offer respect, sometimes when it is least expected. 

    These writers' experiences highlight real-world applications of aikido principles, such as respect, moving with instead of against, and that the only real enemy is the one within. When we practice inner self defense, we can manage whatever comes our way from outside...

  • November 5, 2019

    Sitting Off the Mat: Practicing Spiritual Aikido

    Sitting Off the Mat: Practicing Spiritual Aikido

    Always practice The Art of Peace in a vibrant and joyful manner.

    ~ Morihei Ueshiba, O Sensei

    Silence.

    I'm sitting off the mat at Portsmouth Aikido, as 27 people line up in seiza (kneeling position) to await the seminar instructor. This is the dojo I founded 25 years ago and that is now impeccably managed by its new owner and chief instructor, Aaron Cass Sensei.

    For about five minutes, it is completely silent. I sit quietly, alone, in a spectator's chair on the sidelines, taking it all in: the mat, the beautiful space, the Japanese calligraphy adorning the walls, the flowers on the kamiza (spiritual center of the dojo), the pictures of Kanai Sensei who helped us found the dojo and of O Sensei Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of aikido.

    I sit there in peace, noticing everything, both outside and inside....

  • September 10, 2019

    How to Influence the Way People Act During Conflict

    How to Influence the Way People Act During Conflict

    I was delighted when my friend Tammy Lenski agreed to let me reprint her post on "How to influence the way people act during conflict" because I think everyone should read it. I'm fond of saying we have more power than we think, and Tammy's well-researched article on behavioral confirmation reinforces this point. Tammy is a conflict resolution strategist, teacher, author, and mediator, which is why her post ends with "Two special notes for mediators". 

    Tammy's website--tammylenski.com--is full of skills for communication and the self-mastery needed to transform conflict into opportunities for relationship building. You can also read Tammy's original post and subscribe to her podcasts.
     

    How to influence the way people act during conflict

    If you believe someone is aggressive, could they behave more aggressively with you than with others? If someone believes you are a hostile person, are you likely to act more hostile when you interact with them? It’s called behavioral confirmation and if you’re interested in your own or others’ conflict behavior, it’s worth understanding.

    ~ Tammy Lenski


    A man gets on an elevator with his dog. At the next floor, a second man gets on the elevator, scowls at the dog, and says angrily, “Dogs don’t belong in this building!” The dog growls at the man.

    Several floors later, the annoyed man exits the elevator and a third man gets on. He smiles at the dog and says enthusiastically, “You are such a cute fellow!” The dog wags his tail happily at the man.

    So where does the problem lie? Is the dog a “difficult dog”? ...

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