Category Archives: Relationships

Examples of NVC, Compassionate Communication


I’m new here…

“I’m new here”

These words illicit an enormous amount of fear and vulnerability for me.  As a young child we moved often;  as a result, walking through new experiences today takes effort, courage and faith. Let me tell you a quick story giving an example that I am not alone in what I need in these situations!

Recently Michael and I shared the day with a wonderful group at our Matching Pictures Workshop.  During one of the communication exercises a guest shared her experience attending a new yoga studio.  On her arrival she announced to the desk staff, “I’m new here.” The desk staff smiled and continued on with her duties.  She thought she shared that she was needing information, connection, and comfort, yet her perception was the receptionist was not very helpful.  woman on yoga matThe check-in process involved one of the new-fangled touch pads and there weren’t any directional signs for changing rooms or lockers. She announced again, “I have never been here before, how do I sign in?” Rather than explain how to sign in the receptionist walked to the front of the counter and quickly completed the sign in for her. Our friend expressed to us her feeling of embarrassment at this point in the interaction.  She then asked the woman where she should put her stuff during class. The desk staffer waved her arm in the direction of the wall of cubbies. So while this is an extreme example of “losing strategies” it is one worth sharing.  It is indicative of the daily conversations we have, in our heads and out loud with others that do not meet our needs.

The point of the exercise  at our workshop was  to show that we sometimes engage in “losing strategies” when we communicate, we make statements rather than asking for what we need. Our guest was able to relate how she did not get her needs met because she did not make a specific request. Part of Compassionate Communication is learning to identify what we are feeling and needing and making an appropriate request in order to get our needs met.

So here is the cool part. For those not aware I am a yoga teacher as well. I would like to think I am  a gracious and attentive teacher and host, especially in the yoga studio. And as I shared above, when it comes to new experiences I am very sensitive and empathetic to people’s vulnerability in  trying things for the first time. The next morning I was at the Connecticut Yoga Center preparing to teach my Sunday morning class and 3 new people arrived!  It was one of the students very first yoga class ever! The young woman walked up to the counter and said “I have never been here before.” My heart smiled! The example from our guest the day before was so fresh in my mind that I knew exactly what this new yoga student needed! She was making a  statement rather than asking for  what she needed- information, connection and comfort but because of my own practice with Compassionate Communication I was able to identify that.  I went around to the front of the counter and with a smile I explained to her how to sign in, then I took her by the arm, led her to the studio, showed her where everything was, and helped her set up her mat.  The look of relief and peace on her face indicated to me that her needs were met.

Helping the new woman sign in and feel comfortable at the yoga studio was the most important yoga I could have practiced that morning; connecting with another human being through empathy. Yoga means union, we are one, we feel the same feelings, we experience the same fears and joys. Compassionate Communication has taught me to express my needs appropriately so that I have the best opportunity in getting my needs met. It also teaches me to listen with empathy for the needs of others so that I may be of service in times of need.

Getting Matching Pictures…what it took.

“That’s not what I meant!”

For years I found myself muttering this under my breath. I know what I meant!  I know it is so obvious! How could someone possibly think I meant that?!?!

While we have had a wonderful marriage we did have our fair share of “being misunderstood” or feeling “unappreciated” which ultimately led to what we lovingly call the death spiral of verbal entanglement…every.single.time.

Sound familiar? To register for the August 6th workshop click here.

It took 20 years of marriage counseling, individual therapy, book upon book, method upon method, degrees, sailing trips, houses, and almost calling it quits – so many different strategies in order for Michael and I to figure out that what we needed was to learn to listen with empathy and express ourselves honestly and without judgement in order to enjoy and flourish in the full measure of love we had for each other.  Well, in the summer of 2011 NVC (Non-Violent Communication) found us (long story haha!). It saved our marriage, our hearts, our lives, our sanity.  We now fully enjoy the 25 years of life we have shared.

We have combined our personal NVC work and skills along with some tools we’ve learned in a couple of other methods to bring you “Matching Pictures”.

This one day workshop August 6th from 8:00am-5:00pm is an Introduction to Compassionate Communication.

How do we find the peace within our hearts and with those we love? How do we practice meaningful communication in order to get our needs met appropriately?

20130913_214132Explore with us new approaches to communicating that help us connect with others and our divine energy. During the workshop we will participate in several fun exercises that will help us practice and explore listening with empathy and expressing ourselves with an open and loving heart.

This workshop is appropriate for couples, siblings, families or individuals looking to connect with their loved ones with more intention.  The skills can be applied to all relationships, especially ourselves!
This workshop is based on the work of Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication, a language of compassion, referred to as NVC. For those of you unfamiliar with NVC you can visit the Center for Nonviolent Communication’s website and read the first chapter of Rosenberg’s book.

To register for the workshop click here.

Registration and light breakfast fare are from 8:00am -9:00am
Registration Fee of $75.00 includes all the materials needed for the workshop which you will keep, a light morning breakfast fare, a catered healthy summertime lunch and afternoon refreshments. Please wear whatever you are most comfortable in. Our workshop room is a beautiful sunlit room on the waterfall overlooking a beautiful pond.
The workshop will begin promptly at 9:00am

“That’s not what I meant!”

How many times have we found ourselves muttering this under our breath, frustrated that we found ourselves feeling “misunderstood”? What are we missing? How do we find the peace within our hearts and with those we love? How do we practice meaningful communication in order to get our needs met appropriately? We understand and we have been there!

Have you attended one of our previous workshops?  Then please, come join us for a refresher!  Join us for a Matching Pictures One-Day Refresher Course for $40.00.  Attend alongside new participants and experience all of those “aha!” moments anew.  Enjoy the camaraderie and food while getting your needs for connection and shared reality met! Register here.

Equal vision and a balanced mind.

IMG_20140702_125003Apparently it takes a half-a-
lifetime of experience to figure out how to take it easy on yourself. At least that is what we are figuring out…and there is no place that shines the light of this  more brightly than urban homesteading.

With planting schedules, weeding, mulching (so you don’t need to weed, duh), harvesting honey, splitting wood, breeding schedules for rabbits, thinning seedlings, tending to molting chickens and nevermind the three working adults and a 16 year old with his first full-time summer job! Oy!!!

Thankfully Michael and I humbled ourselves several years ago and began to meditate and pray together each morning. We repeat the same morning prayers each day. One of the lines in our prayer,  “Grant us an understanding heart, Equal vision, balanced mind…” jumped out at me this morning – like I had never heard it before!  I realized that in this request of God we are asking Him to help us see ourselves (and others of course, but that is another story) right sized – not all good, and not all bad but with EQUAL VISION and a BALANCED MIND.

Sometimes…no, most of the time Michael and I are muttering under our breaths to ourselves about what we forgot to do, or missed out on, or did not plant in time. But if I was allowing God to bring me what I request every morning, equal vision and a balanced mind, I would be walking around muttering under my breath, how great it is I got my kitchen clean after breakfast, and how awesome that I have three loads of laundry on the line by 10:30am, and how I meditated, showered and dressed before 7:30, and how blessed I was to answer the phone and be of service to a friend who needed to talk and how I remembered to start dinner in time to feed my family before an evening of obligations!


I thought I was a conscious pray-er, but it seems I need to slow down, think about what I am asking for, and then get out of God’s way and receive His Grace and Mercy!!  One of my favorite scriptures is Hebrews 4:16 (KJV) “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”  I prefer the KJV because it interprets “in time of need” – leaving open whose need God is giving me grace and mercy for. Which in this case might be my own!

Thank you God for this equal vision today. Thank you for letting me see myself with Your eyes!


Family roots

James in front of a field of cotton. Cotton as far as the eye could see.

James in front of a field of cotton. Cotton as far as the eye could see.

We had the extraordinary opportunity to take a small family vacation this year to my Mother’s home town of Tiptonville Tennessee.  We visited the first weekend in October for the huge annual craft fair weekend.  It is an unofficial family reunion.  This year we were so grateful to be have spent time with my grandmother Helen, my Mother’s mother.  This was the first time James had spent time with her.  My Aunt Pat and Uncle Roger were there with a slew of cousins too!

James didn't dare check his fishing poles. Those were carry on only,

James didn’t dare check his fishing poles. Those were carry on only,

I was able to show James where my mother grew up, the land they farmed (and still farm!) and our family cemetery where my Mother Susan is buried and all of our ancestors were buried as well. James is getting to the age in which he wants connection. We understand from NVC that we all have a need for connection, and James was soaking up all this rich family heritage.

We soaked up some good food too!!! We had frog legs, chicken livers, catfish, hush puppies, fried okra…the list goes on!

And of course James did plenty of fishing!! Reelfoot Lake is the home of some of the best lake fishing in the region. We were blessed to stay right on the lake. We cannot wait to go back soon!

James begged us to try BBQ Bologna. I couldn't do it.

James begged us to try BBQ Bologna. I couldn’t do it.