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Tuesdays are a Special Day

If I were at home today I would be anticipating dinner with friends.  Since I moved to Calgary almost 10 years ago now, I have gone for dinner with my friends on Tuesday when I am in town.  We started with an Entertainment coupon book and a restaurant at the end of my block.  That restuarant has changed hands now three times since we started.  The convenience of it and the good food takes us back there more regularly now.

Over those 10 years I have had dinner with the Queen of England on a Tuesday and with George Bush.  Both were state dinners that I was invited to that just happened to fall on a Tuesday one in Edmonton and one in Ottawa.  It is fun for all of the Tuesday night crowd to experience those dinners even if it is vicariously. 

Tuesdays are special days.  I was born on a Tuesday in July and Ruby Tuesday by the Rolling Stones is one of my favourite songs.  My graduation party was on a Tuesday.  Tuesdays with Morrie was a book that touched me deeply especially when one of our Tuesday Crowd died suddenly on a Christmas Eve.  Every Tuesday I think of her and wonder if somehow she knows that she is not forgotten.

Good thinks happen on Tuesdays.  My favourite part is the sharing of life with friends.  Our Tuesday dinners are full of laughter and love, tears and sadness and all of the things that complicate our lives.  Tuesdays ground us and help us each understand how connected we are.

Next Tuesday we will all be at my house celebrating the birthday of Dr. H. my friend and colleague.  Birthdays are special for the Tuesday group.  We have one in February, March, April, May, June, July, August, and September when my step daughter is in town.  Today we are celebrating in Tuscany.  We are celebrating 60 years of living and sharing and loving with friends.  There will be smiles, laughter, and maybe tears.  Some reminiscing from the past, some joy in the present setting and experiences which are truly exquisite and some hope and encouragement for the future.

Happy Tuesday everyone.

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Gaioli in Chianti – Monday

This morning we started the day at breakfast with a mini-lesson the Enneagram.  it was very nice of my fellow travelers to humour me and work with some cards that I had made up to show what each of the nine types was seeking.  It was a good lesson that introduced the triads.  Tomorrow is the birthday that we have all come to celebrate.  We will also learn about wings and stress lines and growth lines.

We spent most of the day in Sienna.  It is another walled city with amazing churches and shops and towers and piazzas.  Ironically, the main piazza in Sienna is sloped and pie shaped.  The pie is divided into nine sections which represent the nine ruling families of Sienna in the middle ages. Coincidence? I think not!!

Our closest town is Gaioli.  It is interesting.  I have no idea how many people live there but it seems small.  The coop is where we picked up pasta and sauce and cold cuts and bread to make our own meal this evening.  It should be fun.  Tomorrow night mama at the restaurant at the end of the lane is going to make dinner for everyone at Frances’ request.  We are all going to dress up and have a great time eating and drinking chianti wines and singing Happy Birthday.

Today as the driver I was very aware of the need for clarity in directions.  The English language does not seem to lend it self to clarity in such cases.  Somehow we got into town and parked close enough to the town that we could walk around.  I worried some about getting back out of town as it had seemed rather fortuitous that we had even found our way in.  Leaving wasn’t that difficult and the country side on the way back was magnificent – just like the pictures by Calgarian, Phillip Craig, that hang in the PULSE offices in Calgary.

More tomorrow.

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Back to the Future – Rocca di Castagnoli

We are staying in a castle, a fortress that dates back to the 11th century.  I am sitting in a window to access the wireless across the 800 year old courtyard.  Time and space are different here.  Historic takes on new meaning.  It is wonderful.  The people are great.  Communication is beyond language because everyone speaks two or three or four. And occasionally you hear the misplaced word or misused phrase, reminents of another language that have been dragged in a less than successful way to anglaise. I love watching and sometimes forget to participate and help when I can, when my comprehension is greater than that of my fellow travellers and I could be of assistance.  The Latin I studied in Halifax West High School with Mrs. Orlick has come back to help me here.

I love Italy.  No I love Europe.  The people are closer physically and socially.  There is little space between you and the next person or the next vehicle.  The language is bigger, more demonstrative.  It is easier to read body language, although I may be misinterpreting some of it.  It seems more aggressive and yet I think the lack of agression might be seen as a sign of disrespect.   I am having so much fun just watching and learning.

This afternoon we toured the winery that is here in the castle.  Hundreds of years of history, back to the never ending war between Sienna and Florence which continues in Soccer matches. So although the societies were closer geographically, they found reasons to distance themselves from each other, reasons to fight, to differentiate themselves from each other.  I can’t help but think that Italy is a 4 country.  Italians are different and they get their energy from being different.  They are creative and talented and reject sameness.  It is interesting to witness a whole nation reflect a type.

We also had an incident today where one of the rental cars was hit in a parking lot, hard enough to move it about one foot.  No one in the area heard the crash although it had to have been loud. Otherwise it has been another great day although the rain continues in Tuscany, great wine and great company.  The company has decided that I should do a mini lesson Enneagram for them this week.  That will be fun.  I would love to use this as a mini research project to test my theory that when you don’t have one member of each of the nine enneatypes in a group, someone steps up to fill the galp on the circle.  I am watching my fellow travelers to see what evidence I can find to support my theory.  I will let you know.

Thanks to Marjorie for putting the disjointed messages together for me.

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Behind the Shutters

My husband the architect is enjoying taking pictures of buildings and landscapes. I am enjoying watching and listening to the tone and pace and the body language. I study how people speak and listen to each other. I watch the Italian women watch us: the nonnas watching the tourists from their windows where they have just hung their laundry.

Yesterday was awesome. Two of the eight of us decided to walk the trail between village one and village two. The rest of us took the train. There was some talk of perhaps meeting up at the next town but no commitment except to meet back at the hotel before dinner. As it happened the train was delayed 20 minutes because of a sudden down pour. Our friends were already on the trail. We had heard that it was treacherous and slippery when it was wet and that and that another section of the trail had actually been closed due to the rain. We began to feel concern for their safety. We borded our train for the 9 minute ride.  The trail was supposed to take one and a half hours.  At the next town from the train you take a bus to the up and up the road town. We were still using umbrellas as we waited and took the second bus up to town and climbed the narrow streets peeking into the lives of the liviers (as my grandmother used to call people who lived in a place). It was getting close to lunch time so we took shelter in a beautiful little restaurant where Vivio, a middle age Italian livier, took care of us. We ordered pasta for six and Vivio insisted that the local white wine was the best pairing.  

We had 1 dissenter who insisted on a half bottle of the local red.  Vivio did not try to hide his disgust with such a choice.  As we waited for the food and sampled the wine which was wonderful, we talked about what may have happened to the other two. Someone mentionned that we would have to change our plans if anything untoward had happened on the trail and we all laughed nervously reassuring each other that they would be fine and just then the door opened and in they walked, soaked to the bone but safe. The chances of them finding us there were about 100 to 1. We were expecting to have lunch in the next town. We celebrated loudly in the small restaurant and ordered pasta for two more. We crowded two more chairs to our table for six and one of the hikers asked Vivio for an espresso to warm his bones. Vivio said NOW? Like our friend was crazy, like no one drinks coffee before a meal. Again the look of disgust. Reluctantly he made the coffee and threw it at our friend along with a glass for wine. The eyebrows raised even further when this same friend reached for the half bottle of red. He threw up his hands and retreated to the kitchen to return with the most wonderful fresh pasta we had had since arriving in Italy. It was wonderful – food, friends and wine.

 

We all took the train to the next village were we found dry clothes and a nice place for coffee. The skys were clearing so we all decided to stroll the 1 kilometre to the next lovely town. It was Glorious. The Via Amore.  Lovers leave locks on the railings. The sea and the mountains come together.  We wondered down into the town while the nonnas watched us pass. We bought tickets for the boat ride back and sailed by the towns again from the sea.  Glorious sun after the ran. The end of a perfect day. We met people from Iowa and Melbourne, and many other places in the world all brought together by the rumours of the beauty of this place. It was an honour to share it with them.

 

The social anthropologist in me was amazed by both the liviers and the visiters and the interaction between and among each group. I will write more about that when I get home.

 

Today we drive to Gaoli where we stay in a villa for a week. The place is very close to the site where “Under the Tuscan Sun” was set.  Today it looks like we will be “Under the Tuscan Rain”

 

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Coasting to Cinque Terre

Yesterday we drove from Florence to Cinque Terre. I was the driver of the rental because I have the most experience with stick shifts. I had not planned to be the driver so I had not taken the time to look over the map and familiarize myself with the route and the names of the towns along the way. I relied on the map readers, the navigators to direct me. Each intersection had a number of signs … Too many to read at a glance so my co-riders had to provide the information I needed to make the right choice at each decision point. What I learned was that as the three of them talked to each other the information about what route NOT to take truly interfered with my ability to confidently make the next move. I finally had to ask my car mates to tell me only where we are going and to leave out any discussion of where we are not going. I was quite confused by the extra information. It was very interesting. What I thought about was what it must be like for first time PULSE participants when they get instructions. It is confusing to have too much information at once and it is comforting to know the general idea or route first and is very helpful and reassuring to have some return to the map and verify the next steps the way the PULSE practitioner verifies where participants are on the way to resolution. 

 

As we got closer to Monterosse the road narrowed and became winding. We climbed hills and then wound our way down again and again. When the sign read 16 kilometres to Monterosse the gas light came on.  My assumption as I took the wheel in Florence was that the tank was full. WRONG. Hills and hairpin turns and running out of diesel. YIKES. The other car and driver were following us and their tank was still at half full. We began to realize that assumptions about full tanks in rental vehicles are dangerous. That is one mistake I will not make again. We coasted into Monterosse and located our hotel. To our dismay there are no gas stations in Monterosse. The closest one is seven kilometres north. We parked. The owner of the hotel has offered to find us some diesel before we leave tomorrow. Today it is raining and we are travelling by train to each of the five little villages along the picturesgue coast. The villages are as beautiful as the images Jim M shared with me a few months ago. Each village is unique and yet the same.

This is a great adventure and it is fun to share it with all of you. We are in Corniglia. Lots of thoughts about PULSE and travel and only a blackberry to use to share them. More tomorrow.

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In Search of Beauty, Goodness and Truth

Yesterday we visited the Uffizi Gallery here in Florence.  It was awesome to see the many priceless treasures, the statues and portraits, the tapestries, all interpretations of life in another time.  There are 50 or 100 renditions of Madonna and Child.  Each has a sameness and a uniqueness about it.  Each is an interpretation of a biblical event and yet each is seen and PORTRAYED through the eyes of the interpreter/artist.  I wondered about the differences.  Why was it that the facial features of each of these Madonnas was different?  It seems as if the artist portrayed, in each instance, his own interpretation of beauty which, I am confident, also portrayed something of himself.

Each of us sees beauty, goodness and truth through our own lens.  As we look at any work of art we see not only the work of art but the artist as well. So we are interpreters of interpretations as we stand and admire and begin to recognize the artist in the painting or the sculpture.  We see his technique or his style.  We see his preoccupation, his stance, his perspective and we are left to appreciate as observers of observers, adding yet another perspective on the life portrayed.

As PULSE practitioners we are artists.  Our participants are the subjects as they portray to us and to each other their version of events and circumstances.  They are also artists, painting the picture from their own perch or stance.  We are the interpreters, the portraitists, looking for the beauty, truth and goodness in what they have said, providing a PULSE interpretation of or focus on the situation, a new perspective … an appreciative FRAME through which to view their world.

The art in PULSE is in the listening.   In every work of art it is the artist who adds light and colour to what he sees or hears as significant.  PULSE artists work to remain true to the beauty, goodness and truth of the subjects of the masterpiece.  PULSE practitioners understand that their perspective is one of many and they greatly value the perspective of the subjects of the portraits, understanding that it is truly the only valid perspective, the one that must be honoured in the portrayal.  As they listen, PULSE practitioners focus their subjects on the truth, goodness and beauty in the work of art that is their conversation.

So the style of a PULSE artist/practitioner could be described as appreciative realist, an artist who uses simple, skillful, brush strokes or questions to focus attention, an artist who allows the beauty, goodness and truth of the participants to predominate in his or her rendition or interpretation of the circumstance. An artist with a simple yet complex approach that encourages individuals to inperpret for themselves, to take the beauty, goodness and truth from the past, see it in the present situation and to search for beauty, goodness and truth in their rendition of the future.

Thank you for listening and adding your own interpretation, taking your own meaning, seeing your own beauty, goodness and truth.  Today we go to Cinque Terra.

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It’s a Small World

Yesterday, here in Florence I saw David. THE David by Michelangelo.  It is a magnificent work of art and the marvel of it is in the detail and the size.  It was wonderful and I enjoyed the experience tremendously.  I was even more touched by a plaster cast of a marble statue entitled Dancing Girls, more because of the personal attachment I had to it immediately and even more so once I read the details of the statue.  The two girls in the statue were among the daughters of Lady Charlotte Campbell of Scotland.  Being a Charlotte of Scottish heritage that caught my eye.  And when the girls names were a match for my two daughters I was even more intrigued.  My daughters are also dancers so the whole experience was interesting and made me smile and think about how we may all be repeating the lives of our ancestors in increasingly modern versions …

The other thing that happened that was astounding was that as we were leaving the Accademia, I literally ran into a friend from Edmonton, a PULSE Practitioner and former high school princial like me.  We were both surprised and spent a few moments catching up and looking for ways to get together when we return.  What are the chances?  What lesson is in a chance meeting like that?  Now I am on the lookout for familiar faces and it seems that everyone I see could be someone I know. 

It is so much fun to be away and see the world from another perspective.  Perspectives on your own world change too, sometimes almost imperceptibly … but they do.  It is a small world.  Being gentle and honest, open and specific and talking with people you encounter comes back to you and makes chance future encounters a joy.  Enjoy.

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Time Travel and PULSE

Today I am in Florence. Yesterday and the day before blended into one very long day. Twelve hours of travelling and eight hours of time change equals confusion for biological clocks. And yet there is so much travel these days. Business people aboard jumbo jets crossing the ocean like they were crossing the street. I have to wonder about the effect that is having on business decisions and relationships.

When the Africans were in Canmore a few weeks ago. I watched them struggle as they worked to reset their clocks to meet the demans of learning. Now as I adjust I am even more aware of how they must of felt. And I think to myself about how walking a mile or travelling across time zones in someone elses shoes is easier if you have infact had at least similar experiences.

Here we are talking about time zones as they exist in the world. The same can be said for the past, present, future time zones of the PULSE frame. Once awareness of the existence of time zones of understanding is experienced empathy is closer. Parties are better able to move to Empathy if they have been there before. Seeing the world as someone else might takes courage and  curiosity and is not as automatic as we may think. This is especially true if we have never had any experiences of our own to draw on. Hence the skepticism of first time PULSE conversation  participants and the conviction of those who have travelled the conversation time zones.

Thanks to Marjorie for posting this for me. More tomorrow. Today I see David.

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“SHOULDING” on ourselfs and others

I am hoping that while we are visiting Italy for the next couple of weeks that I will be as diligent about blogging.  It is a great way to feel as if you are keeping in touch without forcing yourself on people.  A couple of paragraphs a day should be doable.  “SHOULD” – It’s a funny word that people usually use to correct a situation.  We do “should” on ourselves a lot especiallyin tragic times.  “If only we had” …  except and accept that we didn’t.  As humans we also “SHOULD” on others, giving advice even when it is unsolicited.

“Should” is a desctructive word.  It judges.  It is subjunctive and subjective.  It is tentative and I can’t recall one instance where it made me feel better.  I like to leave it out of my vocabulary but when I am under stress or tired or just not thinking … there it is.  “Things should have been different”   The reality is that they weren’t.  The question is not what should happen now or in the future but what will happen next.  Will creates the image of the future more powerfully. Will and Agree to project certainty and the acceptance of responsibility necessary to “Make it so” as Captain Picard of the USS Enterprise would say.

Having said so, I AGREE to write the blog while I am in Italy.  I WILL describe thoughts as seen from a new perspecitive, a new stance describing PULSE from a distance and viewing Italy as a visitor preoccupied with people and language.  Arrivederci – for now.

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PULSE Conversations for Change in PULSE

Relationships change.  People move into PULSE, learn what they have come to learn and then move on.  Over the past six years I have watched as people contribute what they can, learn about PULSE  and themselves and then move onto the next adventure. PULSE as an organization manages many kinds of relationships.  What might be unique is that once people move on efforts are made to keep in touch and to redefine relationship rather than end it completely.  I like that about us. It isn’t alwaysthe case but most who have worked with us in one capacity or another do keep in touch and maintain a relationship based on the principles and shared criteria for involvement.

Terry, our Executive Director is moving on.  She will focus on her own company – TiLT.  Although that leaves PULSE with a gigantic space to fill, I am happy to see that she is following her own dream.  That is what PULSE is about empowering people to do what they do best.  It would be inconsistent of us not to wish her well and to provide what ever support she needs to reach her own goals.  Terry will become a PULSE Associate, offering PULSE products through TiLT. 

Redefining relationships is what we do in every conversation that we have in our lives. It is interesting to me to see the PULSE philosophy working especially within our own company.  A structured conversation makes even difficult conversations successful.  Terry’s criteria for a better future and our needs as a company are considered as we plan to transition to this new level of involvement in each others work lives.  The future becomes obvious when criteria are made clear and we move toward it. Best of luck to Terry and to PULSE.

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