Thursday, January 19, 2006

Greetings, Friends,

I wanted to give you all an update about what life in California is like for Jori and me. I am hoping to meet needs for connection, contribution and information.

Following some of the most remarkable practice groups I have ever experienced, we left Albuquerque Thursday afternoon, driving west. Thankfully, the sun was pretty far south, so the blaze was not too blinding. We enjoyed the time together; sometimes we talked, sometimes we quietly watched the scenery roll by, sometimes as I drove, Jori worked on CNVC stuff on her computer. We made it as far as Flagstaff before stopping for the night.

The next morning, after a good night's sleep and a hearty breakfast, we continued our westward trek. The trip was uneventful except for a brief "opportunity for connection" with a member of the Arizona Highway Patrol. Did you know that you "should" change lanes to the left if possible if a police car is on the shoulder with its lights flashing? I didn't. I am grateful that the patrolman gave us only a warning (and a smile) before sending us on our way again. He said he was very close to retirement after more than 25 years on the job and he prayed he would make it a few more months "without getting shot of having to shoot somebody." I share his prayer!

We pulled into La Crescenta/Montrose about 4:30 in the afternoon. Montrose is about 7 miles north of downtown LA, in the foothills of the San Gabriel mountains just south of the Angeles National Forest. It is far removed from the congestion of downtown. It has a "small town feel", not unlike the area around Tramway and Central. More like Boulder than my expectation of "LA".

We arrived at our new apartment greeted by 3 CNVC staff members busily putting furniture together for us. Our electricity was still not on, so eventually the team was defeated by darkness, but not before we had a bed to sleep in, a table and chairs, and a couch. We decided to walk down to Honolulu Avenue, the "old town" of Montrose. It is filled with shops, delis, banks, and restaurants. It reminds me of Nob Hill, but more pedestrian friendly. What a treat to be able to walk!

We spent the weekend getting our apartment livable, unpacking, etc. We ventured out to Burbank, about 20 minutes away, to get supplies at Costco. I am struck by both the efficiency of the freeway system here and the rapid pace of life represented by the 80 mph speeds most drivers seem to prefer! Lots of opportunity for self-empathy around my needs for safety, protection and well-being!

Jori started her life in the office bright and early last Monday morning after a 15 minute walk to CNVC. Talk about hitting the ground running! Her days have been filled with meetings, phone calls, and trying to absorb the "data dump" of exiting director Gary Baran. I spent the week in domestic mode for the most part, playing homemaker. Turns out I'm a pretty good cook! I feel gratified remembering the tastes and savoring Jori's gratitude for the support and the sustenance. Most days she would walk home for lunch, and we shared dinner together every evening.

On Wednesday, I facilitated the first training of the office staff, working on requests. Most seem hungry to integrate NVC into their lives and eager to learn and practice. I have also enjoyed the opportunity to connect and listen to some of the folks in the office, offering empathy and occasional advice (by request!).

Much of that first week is a blur now. Jori continues to ascend the learning curve of managing a remarkably complex system. Her life seems very full to me. I'm living at a much slower pace, and I'm enjoying the opportunities I have for self-connection and connecting with new folks. I'm not noticing much pining for Albuquerque, although every day images and remembrances of my friends and family there bubble to the surface for me to savor. My days have been filled with a quality of contribution unfamiliar yet strangely satisfying to me. I never would have imagined the joy I feel when presenting a freshly cooked meal to us, or the self-satisfaction of a clean and tidy kitchen. It seems that as I connect with the needs that are met even in doing the most mundane and ordinary task, I often feel a remarkable sense of contentment and even joy.

I have also enjoyed the power of requests. Some things about our apartment did not meet my needs for order or well-being. I wrote a "giraffe letter" to the landlord, and I am happy to report that he has responded by meeting or even exceeding my requests. I have enjoyed my connection with Billy, the handyman who has come like an angel to help me meet my needs!

I also have some pain that I am working with. Jori and I have usually shared "work". Although I support her work at CNVC indirectly, I am not in the office 8, 9 or 10 hours a day (thank God!) So, sometimes I deal with loneliness, needing connection. Sometimes I feel worried about Jori's well-being, indeed the well-being of CNVC. Having my ear so close to the rails is both enlightening and frightening, I guess. Another edge has been around "network connection." In the moment we have no local phone service or internet access. This will be remedied in a few days. I miss the ease and convenience of those "necessities" of 21st century life. I'm also working every day with gratitude; i find that Marshall is "right on" when he says that savoring the feelings engendered when a need is met fuels us for the moments when our needs are unmet.

I will upload a few pictures to this blog so you can get a glimpse of our apartment, CNVC's office, and some views from the Angeles National Forest where I hiked last Monday.

I would enjoy hearing from you if any needs of yours were met by this posting.


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