Friday, December 18, 2009

Dissolving Enemy Images

An Experiential Workshop of Radical Compassion

with CNVC Certified Trainers Jori and Jim Manske

Maui, December 19, 2009

9:15 am - 1:30 pm

Upcountry Maui

Enemy images breed resentment, anger and violence. The costs of sustaining enemy images include physical pain, mental contraction, fear, and isolation. The skills and consciousness of Nonviolent Communication are powerful antidotes to the poison of enemy images.

During this mini-workshop we will:

Explore the source of enemy images

Learn and practice skills of self-compassion to dissolve enemy images

Experience befriending the enemy with transformative empathic connection

Gain insight into proactive next steps to forge workable relationships

By donation...suggested amount $40-$80. No one turned away for lack of funds.

Questions? Connect via Comment

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Year of Report:
A. Approximately how many training days did you have this year?:
B. Briefly list the groups and organizations you worked with this year as a trainer.:

Hospitals, medical clinics, Unitarian-Universalist and Methodist Churches, Noetic Science organizations, mediation/conflict resolution organizations, coaching organizations, city/county councils.

C. Approximately how many people did you offer NVC training to this year?:
D. What are you celebrating about your training experiences this year? What was significant for you? What touched your heart?:

I’m appreciative of the many diverse opportunities we enjoyed this year, and the chance to travel to share NVC in new places. I’m especially grateful for the experience of Compassionate Leadership Training. Working with Rodger Sorrow, Kathi Aichner and Jori has been a remarkably fulfilling and enriching experience on many levels. I also enjoyed working with Marshall and Valentina at the Special Session and the March IIT. I continue to savor the practice group via NVC Academy that celebrated its second year in 2008, (and still continues as of Dec 09!) I enjoyed offering our first training via NVC Academy as well, focusing on Conflict.

E. Would you share some difficult experiences you had while training this year and how you handled them?:

Its difficult for me to connect in the moment with any difficult experiences involving training, per se, mostly because so much time has passed.

In late March, we were just finishing a workshop in Texas, doing a closing round when my cell phone buzzed in my pocket. Generally, I ignore such interruptions during training. However, knowing that my Mom had been ill the last time I spoke with her, I glanced at the phone and saw that it was my Dad. I chose to leave the workshop to attend to the call, caring for my Mom, my Dad, and worried about what the call might mean. Of course, it was the call no one likes to receive, and the one we all face at some time. I learned that my Mom’s condition had seriously deteriorated, that she had “died” on the way to the hospital and had been resuscitated. Somehow, I stayed present, listening to my father and the doctor as they explained what had happened and the likely course of events, requesting that I get to Atlanta as soon as possible.I returned to the workshop, giving myself tons of self-compassion, working to stay present in the face of knowing my intentions to leave as soon as possible. I shared with the group what was going on as authentically as I could and received a bath of concern, sympathy, empathy and offers of support.

I did have difficulties with my relationship with CNVC’s Admin Team, specifically around the change in form of my relationship as an IIT organizer, LT member and GCC coordinator. I’m mourning how my need for connection and inclusion was not met, especially how I did not “advocate for the Universe" I would like to live in (thanks Jorge for the quote) as well as I would like.

I mourn my own tendency to become hynotized by Authority. I mourn how much life energy I squandered perseverating and suffering about people and situations I had no control over. For me, now, its “water under the bridge”, although I’m sad that I do not feel as connected to “CNVC” as I once did. I still relish the sense of connection with the trainer network, especially trainers I get to connect with and play with on a regular basis!

F. How do you teach the spiritual basis of Nonviolent Communication in your workshops and training programs? :

For me, the essence of NVC is the radical intention to stay present to my feelings and needs from moment-to-moment, to cultivate choice in responding to the messages I receive from others and to honestly, authentically share my experience with others while remaining open to receiving their responses with an empathic heart. I work to convey this spiritual clarity in my training through the natural modeling that occurs as a result of my ongoing integration of NVC and by sharing this intention verbally through the spoken and written word.

I don’t believe that you can teach the spiritual basis in any “real” way, since the spiritual basis is our very nature. Teaching implies imparting something that was previously absent. How can you teach something that is eternally Present?

My job as a trainer seems to be to remind people of their birthright: who they are, delicious, juicy ever-changing human beings; what they know, deep in their hearts; and to offer tools to help folks remove the barriers to the Presence of their own spiritual clarity that is always here and now and integrate that consciousness more fully into their lives.

G. Please describe your social change goals...:

My dream is to continue to work creating trainings and opportunities for the next generation of NVC leaders. I’m also intending to continue our social change projects in the medical field, the restorative justice arena, and through community building wherever we go. NVC remains the language, the skill set and the consciousness that anchors my work. Reframing power dynamics through peeling layers of submission and domination remains the framework for my work in social change.

H. Please describe your efforts to create, or join, an NVC circle or organization.:

My term as co-leader of the GCC concluded at the end of June. For the previous year and half that dominated much of my time, averaging over 20 hours per week on a volunteer basis. I intended to continue to support the GCC as a consultant, and there were other requests that made it clear that was not desired, at least not initially.I shifted my attention to other projects, focusing on building a circle of NVC leaders via Compassionate Leadership. I also continue to participate in NVC communities, fostering connection and mutual support in various locations, especially New Mexico, southern California, Texas, Georgia, Edmonton and Hawaii.

I. Summarize participants’ evaluations, and how their feedback resulted in new learning or growth for you this past year.:

People continue to express appreciation for the contribution of our work.If you want to hear or see more, see the testimonials on

Since so much time has elapsed since 2008, its hard for me to recall specifics as I (hopefully) have integrated the feedback that I have received.

I have learned to more enjoy making mistakes. It continues to be a challenge to co-train, even though Jori and I have done that for several years. Talk about an ever-receding edge! Adding two new trainers to the mix (Rodger and Kathi), acted like an accelerant to my own integration. Working with the CNVC leadership provided ample opportunities for me to discover how easy it is to get addicted to a strategy and how powerful NVC can be to become liberated from addictive patterns!

J. What are your current growing edges or challenges as a trainer that you will be working on in the future?:

My edges are around balancing self-care, saying “no”, and cultivating the willingness to express my needs and requests.

K. If you found opportunities to work with other trainers this year, please share the most meaningful experiences for you.:

I have shared training in 08 with many folks. I’m most touched by how Kathi, Rodger, Jori and I created a working relationship that fostered mutuality, interdependence and remarkable ease as we planned and implemented our first extended training community.

L. Is there anything else you would enjoy sharing with the CNVC network?:

I remain grateful to be sharing the mission and vision of CNVC with a growing cadre of “family”. I mourn how slowly our organization seems to respond to the needs of the training network. I wish folks pivoting social change project in regions of the world with less access to resources (eg Brazil, Aftica) received more direct support from CNVC in the form of grant-writing and flowing resources from wealthy countries to less affluent nations and areas. I wish the CNVC leadership teams (Admin Team, Board, Office staff, etc) will easily receive an abundance of the empathy, understanding and love that they need in order to thrive!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Dear Friends,

Greetings from the Heart of the Pacific! We've arrived in Maui and are beginning to settle in here for the next few months. I'm adjusting to the various differences in lifestyle. One challenge is the rain, the apparently incessant rain here in Upcountry Maui. Since we arrived about a week ago, I'm guessing there has been at least 10 inches of rain, more than we get in an entire year in Albuquerque.

We finished CL09 earlier this month andI'm still savoring the De-Lights of Compassionate Leadership-the community, the connection, the integration, growth and learning...

And, I'm looking forward to next year's program, even as the communities from 08 and 09 continue!

One skill that we intentionally include in CL is the Compassionate Leadership Plan. For me, having a plan at various points in my life has deeply supported my intentions and motivated my movement toward creating the world I want to live in. I was inspired this morning by an article I read in the NY Times about how transformative a plan can be. I wonder how reading it will affect you.

I'd love to hear your responses!



Triumph of a Dreamer

Published: November 14, 2009

Any time anyone tells you that a dream is impossible, any time you’re discouraged by impossible challenges, just mutter this mantra: Tererai Trent.

Of all the people earning university degrees this year, perhaps the most remarkable story belongs to Tererai (pronounced TEH-reh-rye), a middle-aged woman who is one of my heroes. She is celebrating a personal triumph, but she’s also a monument to the aid organizations and individuals who helped her. When you hear that foreign-aid groups just squander money or build dependency, remember that by all odds Tererai should be an illiterate, battered cattle-herd in Zimbabwe and instead — ah, but I’m getting ahead of my story.

Tererai was born in a village in rural Zimbabwe, probably sometime in 1965, and attended elementary school for less than one year. Her father married her off when she was about 11 to a man who beat her regularly. She seemed destined to be one more squandered African asset.

A dozen years passed. Jo Luck, the head of an aid group called Heifer International, passed through the village and told the women there that they should stand up, nurture dreams, change their lives.

Inspired, Tererai scribbled down four absurd goals based on accomplishments she had vaguely heard of among famous Africans. She wrote that she wanted to study abroad, and to earn a B.A., a master’s and a doctorate.

Tererai began to work for Heifer and several Christian organizations as a community organizer. She used the income to take correspondence courses, while saving every penny she could.

In 1998 she was accepted to Oklahoma State University, but she insisted on taking all five of her children with her rather than leave them with her husband. “I couldn’t abandon my kids,” she recalled. “I knew that they might end up getting married off.”

Tererai’s husband eventually agreed that she could take the children to America — as long as he went too. Heifer helped with the plane tickets, Tererai’s mother sold a cow, and neighbors sold goats to help raise money. With $4,000 in cash wrapped in a stocking and tied around her waist, Tererai set off for Oklahoma.

An impossible dream had come true, but it soon looked like a nightmare. Tererai and her family had little money and lived in a ramshackle trailer, shivering and hungry. Her husband refused to do any housework — he was a man! — and coped by beating her.

“There was very little food,” she said. “The kids would come home from school, and they would be hungry.” Tererai found herself eating from trash cans, and she thought about quitting — but felt that doing so would let down other African women.

“I knew that I was getting an opportunity that other women were dying to get,” she recalled. So she struggled on, holding several jobs, taking every class she could, washing and scrubbing, enduring beatings, barely sleeping.

At one point the university tried to expel Tererai for falling behind on tuition payments. A university official, Ron Beer, intervened on her behalf and rallied the faculty and community behind her with donations and support.

“I saw that she had enormous talent,” Dr. Beer said. His church helped with food, Habitat for Humanity provided housing, and a friend at Wal-Mart carefully put expired fruits and vegetables in boxes beside the Dumpster and tipped her off.

Soon afterward, Tererai had her husband deported back to Zimbabwe for beating her, and she earned her B.A. — and started on her M.A. Then her husband returned, now frail and sick with a disease that turned out to be AIDS. Tererai tested negative for H.I.V., and then — feeling sorry for her husband — she took in her former tormentor and nursed him as he grew sicker and eventually died.

Through all this blur of pressures, Tererai excelled at school, pursuing a Ph.D at Western Michigan University and writing a dissertation on AIDS prevention in Africa even as she began working for Heifer as a program evaluator. On top of all that, she was remarried, to Mark Trent, a plant pathologist she had met at Oklahoma State.

Tererai is a reminder of the adage that talent is universal, while opportunity is not. There are still 75 million children who are not attending primary school around the world. We could educate them all for far less than the cost of the proposed military “surge” in Afghanistan.

Each time Tererai accomplished one of those goals that she had written long ago, she checked it off on that old, worn paper. Last month, she ticked off the very last goal, after successfully defending her dissertation. She’ll receive her Ph.D next month, and so a one-time impoverished cattle-herd from Zimbabwe with less than a year of elementary school education will don academic robes and become Dr. Tererai Trent.

Monday, October 26, 2009

NVC in Organisations

I stumbled upon this today via google alerts...

I hope you find it inspiring, clarifying and meaningful.


moving from a mechanistic to a systemic view
by Gina Lawrie


The purpose of this article is to outline the process of Nonviolent Communication (NVC), and to describe some of the ways I believe it can help individuals and organisations to be more connected and build the sort of communities we would like to inhabit in the new millennium. If, as result of reading it, you are either interested in finding out more about NVC or you take away an insight that could make a small difference in your life, I will be satisfied.

Setting the Scene

In communication workshops that I run in organisations, I often ask people to describe the characteristics and qualities of communication that they enjoy, find satisfying and motivating. I then ask them to describe the characteristics of communication they do not enjoy which leaves them feeling unsatisfied and lacking motivation. Participants then cluster the ideas under the two headings. This works well on post-Its. Sadly, when I ask,many people say they experience most communication at work as displaying the group of characteristics they don’t enjoy. It can be fascinating to consider why so many of us continue to operate in ways that don’t bring us enjoyment or fulfilment but I am even more interested in how to change this. Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is a simple, yet powerful tool which provides concrete steps to create communication that is both enjoyable and effective and thus of benefit to both individuals and organisations.

The Process of Nonviolent Communication

NVC is a model of communication developed by Marshall Rosenberg (1999) in response to violence he witnessed in the USA in the 1950’s. He searched for a way to help people to communicate with respect, compassion and honesty and thus gain more enjoyment out of life.

Learning this process is like learning a language, the language of compassion, and this involves unlearning the language that many of us have been brought up with which is based on judgement, blame and being right!

The language of NVC is designed to help us express our feelings and needs clearly in such a way that we and those listening to us can connect more easily with these aspects of ourselves. Training in NVC builds our awareness of how to stay connected to the humanity of ourselves and others. It offers specific tools for staying in this mode even when things get tough, when conflict is in the air, or when the other person does not know the NVC process.

There are four steps which together increase the likelihood that communication will be expressed and received with compassion and that those involved will get their needs met:

Observations are expressions of what serves as a stimulus for our reactions. The closer we stay to concrete and specific descriptions of the sort that would be captured by a video camera, the more likely we are to be heard. The challenge in this step is to separate observation from evaluation, judgement or interpretation, e.g. “When I see you sitting behind your desk on the ‘phone moving papers and swearing....” rather than “When I see how harassed and disorganised you are”. You can imagine how the latter comment mightlead to a defensive or attacking response and using NVC, we aim to express ourselves in a way most likely to be heard with compassion rather than defensiveness.
In our western culture in particular we often express thoughts or judgements rather than
our emotions because of the language we have learned. So in NVC we express an
emotion such as “I feel upset / worried / pleased “ rather than, “I feel that .....” or “I feel
like...........” . Training in NVC extends our feeling vocabulary and helps us connect with
our emotional selves.
Many of us are even less articulate when it comes to expressing needs. Our culture tends
to teach us to associate it with being selfish or “needy”. The most powerful insight I
obtained learning NVC was the causal link between feelings and needs. To recognise that
my feelings are not caused by another person’s actions, but by whether or not my needs
are being met. So, in NVC we would say: “I feel ...... because I need/would like.... and
then express a core human need, which may be physical, social or spiritual, e.g. food,
warmth, company, support, peace, beauty. By expressing a general need which all
humans have we leave out any specific people or circumstances and this creates an
openness as to how the need may be met. An example is: “I need honesty and mutuality
in my working relationships” rather than, “I need you to stop covering up what’s really
going on”. It is at this step of connecting at the level of needs that resolution of conflict
or prevention of potential conflict becomes possible.
The last element is to state what we would like to happen and by whom that would meet
our need. In this step it is very important to be very specific and also state the request in
the positive, e.g. “Would you be willing to type this report by Friday at 10 am?”
There are two directions of the NVC process that both use these four steps: expressing
and receiving. Our aim is to create a communication dance where one person expresses
themselves then listens for the four steps in the others response, even when feelings and
needs are deeply hidden in the language they use. This is the outer process of NVC.
What often gets in the way is our own inner dialogue. This may be the judgements we
make about others e.g. “He should be more considerate and it’s not fair that he always
gets his own way!” or the judgements we make about ourselves, e.g. “I’ve messed up
again, what an idiot I am, I’m just not up to this type of work!”. These judgements are a
sign that we are not connected with our own feelings and needs and hence we will not be
able to connect with others, either to express our feelings and needs or to hear those of
the other person. To shift this and get us connected to our feelings and needs we use the
inner process of NVC, applying the four steps within.

Let us take an example: I am running a workshop and one of the participants says, “This
isn’t relevant to the real work situation”. I may judge them as ignorant, arrogant or
uncooperative which will probably result in me attacking them, albeit in a subtle way.
Alternatively I may judge myself as incompetent, having misjudged my audience and this
is likely to result in me becoming defensive. In either case, I could be on a road to further
disconnection with that participant. To avoid this road, I can apply the four steps of NVC
to connect with my own feelings and needs and notice that when I hear the participant say
“This isn’t relevant to the real work situation”(step 1), I feel anxious and nervous (step 2)
because I would really like to contribute to the learning of all participants and because I
need acknowledgement for the experience I bring and trust that my workshop design will
fulfil the objectives we set (step 3). So what I would really like right now is to find out
what would help this participant see the relevance (step 4).

Now, I am free to return to the outer process and begin to ‘dance’, by saying: “So are you
feeling worried because you would like to know that spending this time at this workshop
will make a difference to the real issues you face at work, and would you like me to tell
you the way in which I see what we are doing as relevant?”

If the participant remains frustrated and says some more that I could interpret as critical, I
may need to go back to the inner process and hear my own feelings and needs again, then
back to the outer process, continuing to hear their feelings and needs. My experience is
that when I apply NVC to my inner process, getting in touch with my feelings and needs
brings about a shift in my energy away from judgement and blame. This allows me to
express myself without any hint of that judgement creeping through so that I am more
likely to be heard compassionately by the other person. Or it allows me to hear the other
persons feelings and needs with compassion. There are some general guidelines for
choosing which side of the dance to start with. In many cases, it works best to start with
hearing the other person because that increases the chances of getting heard oneself.
Describing the process in this way seems far from truly portraying what is involved.
Seeing it in action and trying it out brings it to life in a way that words on a page cannot.
As I mentioned earlier, learning NVC is not easy and becoming fluent in any new
language takes practice but I see it as the most powerful approach in my consultants
toolkit to help managers and staff to create the sort of organisation in which they wish to

So now I will turn to the application of NVC in my work and give you a variety of
references at the end and ways to find out more if you are interested.

Observations from my Work

I have been working as an organisation consultant helping managers bring change to
private, public and voluntary sector organisations for 15 years. I am well aware of the
range of fads and fashions in change programmes and have been influenced by some. I
am also very aware of their lack of success. One of the key reasons in my experience is
that people may change at an intellectual level, but not at an emotional level. As a result,
their behaviour is often inconsistent. Managers often do not model the behaviour they
espouse and staff are unclear what grand statements of values such as “ effective
teamwork”, “continuous improvement”, “empowering our staff” mean they will DO
differently. I have found the model of NVC helps managers and teams to understand
where judgements they make of themselves and others blocks changes in their behaviour.
It also provides a concrete framework for making changes.

It is rare to find organisations in which feedback is given and received skilfully and yet,
without it, how can we expect people to change their behaviour? If only “good news” is
delivered, it is difficult to trust the conveyor of news and if only “bad news” is delivered,
people feel demoralised and unmotivated. NVC provides a framework for the giving and
receiving of honest, balanced and constructive feedback. By telling the other person how
we feel and what need of ours is met or not met when we observe their behaviour,
feedback becomes more meaningful and is easier to hear.

In the field of organisational change there is an increasing recognition that the context is
global transformation. This has a number of aspects such as: globalisation of the
economy, the explosion of communication and information technology, shifts in value
systems, increased scientific knowledge about chaos and complexity, ecological crisis
and a reassertion of human spirituality. The essence of any transformation is a dichotomy
between the excitement of creativity, opportunity and liberation and the fear of change,
loss and threat of unpredictability. People managing and working in organisations are
struggling to understand, to find new ways of perceiving based on new paradigms and to
learn the skills to survive and thrive. These are the life skills of NVC.

Moving from a mechanistic to a systemic view of organisations

The metaphor of a machine has been used to understand and to structure organisations
since the 1950’s. The characteristics associated are: routine, efficiency, predictability,
division of labour and a static nature. These characteristics are fine for organisations
whose tasks are simple in stable environments. There are not many of these nowadays
and the price we have paid is dehumanisation of people in the workplace. As a result,
many have become alienated from nature, from each other and from themselves. As
organisations become increasingly complex and the rate of change increases and things
are less predictable there has been frenetic activity, but often the activity is “more of the
same” and the result is failure or burnout.

Now we are seeing a transition to the use of a different metaphor, that of the organisation
as an organism, a living system. This metaphor has the advantage of recognising the
organisation as an “open system” in relation to its environment, the influence of life
cycles, issues of survival, the concept of organisational health. The characteristics of
organisations seen in this way are creative, responsive and dynamic. With this viewpoint
caring, feelings and ecological and spiritual awareness can become part of life in an
organisation and human beings can again be fully themselves at work. Our
interconnectedness with each other and the environment is acknowledged. NVC is a way
of encouraging this transition by connecting to our inner selves, to each other and to the
environment around us through identifying how we are and how others are in terms of
feelings and needs, and how we can better collaborate with each other to meet more and
more needs and to increase satisfaction and fulfilment.

We might think that it would be easy to make this paradigm shift, however, this is not
proving to be the case because increased interconnectedness and complexity in
organisations brings increased uncertainty and resulting anxiety. Uri Merry (1995) has
pointed out that if the quality of relationships does not match the degree of
interdependence, if we do not behave in a more responsible, cooperative and empathic
way, uncertainty will increase even further and conflict, crisis and domination will ensue.
NVC gives us a language which enables us to connect and build relationships at this
empathic level, providing the foundation for working with diversity and uncertainty.
NVC can help leaders of organisations who experience a particular challenge to shift
within themselves and become less reliant on formulas and programmed change and to
tune in more to their own judgement and intuition. Leaders need to be free to make
choices and decisions based on the present not on past expectations or constraints and to
move from management by fear and blame to management by collaboration and respect.
This can be developed by NVC training.

Personal transformation

My work with NVC has taken me on a journey of personal transformation and given me
the tools to fill many gaps I had previously found in my personal development work. The
application of the four steps to connect with myself has helped me to ease up on the
judgements I make of myself as well as of others. I have found myself handling
situations of conflict and aggression in ways that I am proud of and being able to
facilitate increased understanding between people has increased my confidence in such

As a consultant, my role is to influence and facilitate; ideas of “managing” change are not
compatible with seeing the organisation as a living system. In this role, I can make the
greatest difference by being fully present, giving my attention in order to connect with
people and help them to communicate with each other in ways that are satisfying and
motivating: NVC helps me to do that by putting me in touch with my own and others
present feelings and needs. I am finding that it is a very powerful tool to help people in
organisations to achieve the transformation I have been describing in this paper.

Gina Lawrie has a background in psychology, social work and management
development. She is an experienced organisation development consultant working in
public, private and not for profit sectors. Gina works with the Centre for Nonviolent
Communication as a certified trainer and seeks to apply the skills of NVC in both her
work and personal life.

She can be contacted on Tel:01252 728242,,
More information about the Center for Nonviolent Communication can be found at:

Belgrave, B. Communication That Simply Works. Organisations & People, August 1998
Vol 5. No 3, pages 27-32
Belgrave, B. Workbook: NVC - Key Ingredients. Organisations & People, February
1999 Vol 6. No 1, pages 29-33
Merry, U. (1995) Coping With Uncertainty: Insights from the New Sciences of Chaos,
Self-Organization, and Complexity. Praeger, Westport, USA
Nixon, B. (1998) Making A Difference: Strategies and Real Time Models to Transform
Your Organisation. Gilmour Drummond Publishing, Cambridge, England.
Rosenberg, M. (1999) Nonviolent Communication - A Language of Compassion.
Puddledancer Press, Del Mar, Calif:
Audiovisual materials available online from or 0845
458 0996

• Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is a simple yet profound communication process
which helps to create communication that is both effective and enjoyable. It was
developed by Marshalll Rosenberg whose work grew from his experience of
interracial conflicts in Detroit, USA.
• NVC can be of benefit to individuals, teams or groups and organisations and
provides a framework for behavioural and cultural change.
• Learning NVC is like learning a language and also involves ‘unlearning’ habitual
ways of communicating which prevent connection between people.
• NVC is particularly effective in helping us to manage conflict and difference,
increasing the likelihood that the needs of both people in an interchange will be met.
It is also effective in developing strong relationships for teamwork.
• Nonviolent Communication training is available from trainers certified by the Center
for Nonviolent Communication. There are approximately 60 trainers providing
training and mediation in 25 countries worldwide, in organisations of all kinds:
businesses, schools, prisons, healthcare providers as well as families and couples.
Published in: Training & Management Development methods, Vol 14, 2000, pp4.01-4.08,
MCB University Press, 0951-3507

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Compassion plea after cycle death

Kate Auchterlonie
Kate Auchterlonie had a love of horses and was a keen amateur athlete

The family of a cyclist killed in a collision with a car has asked a court to show compassion for the driver.

Howard Owen, 29, ran into Kate Auchterlonie, 28, from Cardiff, as she rode her bicycle on the A469 mountain road near Caerphilly in February.

The judge at Newport Crown Court said her family wanted generosity, which was characteristic of her life.

Owen, of Caerphilly, who had admitted causing death by careless driving, received a suspended prison sentence.

As well as the nine-month suspended sentence, Owen was also banned from driving for two years and given 150 hours' community work.

Owen said he could not explain why he had failed to see Miss Auchterlonie.

Prosecutor Michael Mather-Lees said other drivers said their vision was affected by strong sun on the morning of the crash on 17 February.

He said there was no suggestion that Owen had been speeding on the 40mph speed limit road.

Howard Owen
He makes no excuses at all and was determined to plead guilty at the first opportunity
Hilary Roberts, defending

The prosecution said he should have had seven seconds in which to see her.

"As a result of the collision, police attended very quickly as did the other emergency services," said Mr Mather-Lees.

"On arrest Mr Owen stated: 'I don't know why I didn't see her.' In interview he said he used the road daily or regularly and was not in a hurry and was travelling at 40mph.

"He had lowered his sun visor and he did not see Miss Auchterlonie. Plainly as a result of that he collided with her and the offence was committed.

Post-traumatic stress

"He pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity."

Hilary Roberts, defending, said Owen, a customs and excise worker, was not using the sun as an excuse, had not driven since and was suffering the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

He had also been prescribed anti-depressants following the crash, the court heard.

"This is a tragic case in anybody's language," he said.

"The defendant is acutely aware that he has pleaded guilty to this offence and has always strived to do so. I know the court will grant him credit for that.

"He makes no excuses at all and was determined to plead guilty at the first opportunity."

This clearly has had a profound affect on your own life
Judge Roderick Denyer to Howard Owen

Mr Roberts said the accident was caused by a "momentary lapse in concentration".

Judge Roderick Denyer said Owen still could not really understand why he did not see Miss Auchterlonie in the road.

There was also some evidence that the sun was making things difficult for motorists at the time, said the judge.

"It is clear and obvious from the references I have read and the pre-sentence report that you feel deep remorse and this clearly has had a profound affect on your own life," said Judge Denyer.

He referred to a statement by Miss Auchterlonie's family, asking the court to show the compassion and generosity that was characteristic of her life.

The court heard that Victim Support was trying to arrange a meeting between her family and Owen as part of a restorative justice programme.

The judge also praised both families for their dignified silence in court.

After the hearing, the family of Miss Auchterlonie released a statement which said: "No sentence can ever make up for what we feel at losing Kate.

"Regarding the restorative justice process, we will be working with Victim Support to see what is best for both parties. It is not something that we want to make a public statement about."

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Caring doctor is the best Rx


Study: Kindness better than drugs for treating colds

August 26, 2009

Purge your medicine cabinet of cold medication and find yourself a doctor who empathizes with you during times of illness. You may recover faster.

A new study conducted by the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health published in the July issue of Family Medicine found people recover faster from the common cold when their doctor is compassionate. The research focused on 350 patients from primary care clinics in southern Wisconsin.

Researchers found participants encountered three types of doctors: ones who did not interact with the patient, ones who provided the standard discussion of medical history and current illness, and ones where the doctor delved deeper into the nature of the illness and displayed concern for the patient.

The patients rated their doctors on a questionnaire using the following criteria: Did the doctor make them feel at ease, allow them to tell their side of the story and listen closely to the answer, understand what they said, act positive, provide clear explanations, and help them take control by creating an action plan?

The 84 patients who gave their doctors a perfect score in these areas recovered from their cold a full day before the other patients did, thus skipping the gastro-intestinal side effects some cold medicines may impart.

Also, when researchers measured the immune cells in the secretions from the nasal washes, these 84 patients built immunity to their cold within 48 hours after their first visit.

Results not surprising
Dr. David Rakel, director of integrative medicine and lead author of the study, concluded that being kind to people fought a cold better than zinc, vitamin C and anti-viral medications did.

The results of this study did not surprise Dr. Joan Covault, family practitioner with the Provena Medical Group in New Lenox or Lauren Diegel-Vacek, assistant professor at the College of Nursing and Health Professions at Lewis University in Romeoville.

Both Covault and Diegel-Vacek said that cultivating an empathetic attitude was part of their medical training and they've witnessed encouraging results by practicing it.

"If I take the time to actually listen to the patient's story and show not only empathy for them, but true compassion, I think that does a lot to speed the healing process," Covault said.

Covault said when patients feel no one listens to them, a negative attitude develops within them and they may be sick longer than if they believe someone cares about them.

"There is a lot to be said about the interaction between mind, body and spirit and positive support can make a difference," Covault said. "I don't mean that people need to wait on you hand and foot if you're sick. But if people are saying you look pale and worn out, you might not feel like you can keep going. However, if someone asks how you feel and that you look better, people tend to have a brighter outlook and get well sooner."

She believes that sympathetic concern for the patient combined with education on the correct use of antibiotics and alternative suggestions for symptom relief is all that most patients need to beat a cold.

"When a patient comes in with the mindset of, 'I'm really sick and I need this antibiotic,' when it's only an upper respiratory virus, that's the patient who's going to call back frequently," Covault said.

Treating more than body
Many doctors now employ a "mind, body and spirit," which has always been the manner in which nurse practitioners approached their patients, Diegel-Vacek said. She believes such an approach benefits patients.

"As nurse practitioners we put ourselves in the other person's shoes," she said. "We try to understand where they're coming from and how this acute illness is affecting their day to day life. I think that helps you to connect with them better and it encourages them to open up about and tell you other things that will guide you into helping them feel better."

When a health care provider can facilitate a compassionate discussion with the patient, the patient will often become a partner in his or her own healing process.

"The patients tend to be more compliant with the recommendations and also be much more satisfied with the visit in general," Diegel-Vacek said. "I think that can be a big key to promoting better outcomes for patients when they're ill."

Friday, July 24, 2009

Language is a uniquely human gift, central to our experience of being human. Appreciating its role in constructing our mental lives brings us one step closer to understanding the very nature of humanity.

LERA BORODITSKY is an assistant professor of psychology, neuroscience, and symbolic systems at Stanford University, who looks at how the languages we speak shape the way we think.

Fairy fatality in court

Samantha Turnbull

THE driver accused of killing Tyagarah woman Milli O'Nair has appeared in court just four days after what would have been the dead woman's 42nd birthday.

Mina Nashed, 18, of Hendra, appeared unrepresented in Byron Bay Local Court yesterday charged with dangerous driving occasioning death.

He did not enter a plea and will reappear in Lismore Local Court on September 9.

Police allege Mr Nashed killed Ms O'Nair on the Pacific Highway at Tyagarah on May 10.

He was driving a hire vehicle when he allegedly hit Ms O'Nair, who was riding a bicycle over a narrow, bridged section of the highway.

The impact sent her body hurtling over the bridge and into scrub next to the abandoned Casino to Murwillumbah rail line.

The accident scene was one kilometre from her home.

She was on her way to visit her mother for Mother's Day when she was killed.

A memorial service was held for Ms O'Nair on Monday, her birthday, and her ashes were scattered at Little Wategos Beach in Byron Bay.

Ms O'Nair was well known throughout the Byron Shire, particularly for wearing fairy wings which were often strapped to her back as she cycled around.

She performed as a fairy at children's parties and worked at a fairy-themed stall at the local markets.

Ms O'Nair also worked as a non-violent communication coach.

In an online business profile Ms O'Nair said: "This outer conflict and inner struggle ignited my passion to do it differently.

"There had to be a way to connect with compassion and I set out to expand on what I knew.

"For over 20 years I delved deep to heal and explored far, to have the tools to make a difference in the world."

A website has been set up in her memory where friends have posted comments including: "May the flowers you planted in this world continue to blossom and offer their sweet perfume of love truth and laughter so that you can sing and dance on our hearts with the fairies and angels forever after."

Another reads: "Away with the faeries at last, flying free. Thanks for all you gave to us here on the earth plane."

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Freedom From Our Inner Prisons

by Kathleen MacFerran

Kathleen (at)

Though I frequently walk in and out of WA State prisons, I find myself trapped in my internal prison much more often than I enjoy. It's one I carry around with me and enter easily, but find getting out quite an arduous process. The prison is my mind, specifically the part that spins stories about what other people are thinking, doing, intending or reacting to. I admit I'm crazy to think I have access to that information when I have not heard it directly from the other person or even bothered to check out my assumptions with him/her. I am amazed how frequently my brain can come up with a story and how often a story when checked out, can be way off base.

I find I am not alone. Conversations I hear daily are couched in language that implies wrongness or diagnosis of others. When our stories are about others, we usually feel anger. When our stories are about ourselves, the feelings of shame, guilt and depression arise. The last time I was in the womens prison I found myself on the receiving end of the stories. It was a very stressful weekend for the inmates. Mother's Day events were being held (imagine the stress of parenting from prison or the pain of not having contact with your children anymore), a higher number of fights than normal were breaking out, and most of the women who were trying to focus in the Freedom Project workshop I was co-leading were bundles of nerves. At one point on the second day, one of the women told me I was disrespectful, then another said I was being condescending, yet another one agreed and added I was just like one of "them" (the officers).

They were sure their stories about me were true. Their evaluations were clearly facts in their eyes. I listened with empathy and was trying to find out what they had seen or heard from me that they interpreted as disrespect or lack of caring. One thing was that I had asked two women out into the hall first thing in the morning to create safety when I thought a fight was about to break out. I mediated between them for 45 min. and the two women involved were thankful for the reconnection and learning. Some of the women who remained in the room, however, assumed I was somehow punishing the women I had asked out into the hall.

It took empathy from my colleague and individual empathy from me with the angry participants during the following break to finally have my intentions for support, caring and learning seen by the women. We ended in a place of connection. The remaining hours of the workshop were spent giving empathy to the women for their pain and talking about the self-empathy that allowed me to stay present to myself in a way that let me hear their pain and not take their judgments personally. Judgments are simply tragic expressions of needs.

I spent the next couple of weeks noticing when I didn't stop to pause between something that triggered me (what someone said or did) and my story about it. Some of my stories are well rehearsed as I've practiced them for years. My belief in my stories can be as strong as the inmates' belief in their stories about what they thought was going on in me. The freedom from the internal prison happens in that pause between observation and evaluation. It is finding a way to notice what I'm reacting to (the specific observation of what someone actually said or did), pausing long enough to look under my story (the evaluation) to my feelings and needs, then letting a request naturally arise in relation to the needs I'm aware of. That pause is a place of choice and power.

Separating observation from evaluation is a crucial first step to freedom. I find myself making that inner journey time and time again from my prison to liberation. It's starting to get easier the more I do it. It requires compassion for myself along the way and trust that continuing on that path will lead to greater joy, clarity and connection.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009


By Dietrich Fischer

(professor at European Peace University, Austria)

The following are actual signs seen in various places:

- In a New York restaurant: "Customers who consider our waitresses uncivil ought to see the manager."

- At a Santa Fé gas station: "We will sell gasoline to anyone in a glass container."

- In the window of a long-established New Mexico dry cleaners: "38 years on the same spot."

- In a Los Angeles dance hall: "Good clean dancing every night but Sunday."

- In a Florida maternity ward: "No children allowed."

- In a New York drugstore: "We dispense with accuracy."

- In the offices of a loan company: "Ask about our plans for owning your home."

- In a New York medical building: "Mental Health Prevention Center"

- On a Maine shop: "Our motto is to give our customers the lowest possible prices and workmanship."

- At a number of military bases: "Restricted to unauthorized personnel."

- On a display of "I love you only" Valentine cards: "Now available in multi-packs."

- In the window of a Kentucky appliance store: "Don't kill your wife. Let our washing machine do the dirty work."

- In a funeral parlor: "Ask about our layaway plan.”