Marshall Rosenberg in Nelson (Aug 2007)

This month’s front cover is a picture of my husband Richard and Marshall Rosenberg, writer and creator of the Non-Violent Communication Trainings. They are playing with Marshalls puppets, the jackal and the giraffe. Marshall uses these animals as a symbolic representation of two very different communication styles. The jackal is critical and antagonistic, while the giraffe brims with empathy and compassion. In his seminars and literature, Marshall teaches us how to improve communication through speaking about our needs in a gentle, non-invasive way, which promotes genuine understanding of and by our fellow human beings.

I have listened to Marshalls CD’s many times and I like what he has to say. Marshall makes it clear that when we are angry, it is never the other person who makes us angry; rather this anger is a signal that some basic need of our own is not being fulfilled. Since we have only a dozen or so basic needs, we need to ask ourselves, “What do I need to say or do in this situation so that I act and not react?” As I learn to observe my reactions, I can see what he is talking about, for I often hear blame and want to defend myself with words.

Richard and I have such different personalities that we regularly get to practice Marshall’s format for speaking our needs. Richard’s strength is logic, which makes him an amazing technician. Troubleshooting and coming up with brilliant solutions to fix a problem is his forte. He is also a Gemini and likes to communicate. My strength lies in flexibility and going with the flow, without a plan, expecting my angels to help out. I am a Pisces: I like to observe and often do not always put my feelings into words. Over the years, I have noticed a time lag between things that were said and my reactions to them; I am guessing this is a survival technique from childhood that has served me well.

Saying no has never been easy for me, and since I don’t usually have a plan, and can feel other people’s ‘wants,’ I am easily swayed into being helpful, which is something I like doing and often use as an excuse if something goes wrong. Separating my needs from theirs is something I do once I am out of their auric field. My logical brain knows I have a choice, but sometimes my conditioning takes over and I just do as I am told. If my body reacts, I ask myself for clarity. Marshall has a list of several questions to help with that. Richard will often sense the shift in me before I do because the tone of my voice will have changed, so he will ask “Are you feeling grumpy?” To which I reply: “No, I was quite fine until you came along giving orders.” Being aware and conscious of my behaviour helps me to change. Focusing on being positive, kind and loving helps shift my perspective when things are not to my liking, for I know that I attract to me what I need to learn. Being clear is something that Richard is good at and that I am learning; it can just feel so frustrating at times. Isn’t life a paradox? Our greatest strength can often be our greatest weakness.

We have two new community members, Ian Fraser, who is a New Thought minister from Winnipeg, and Megan Girvin, a young woman from Kamloops. Megan is doing lots of the cooking and will slowly learn more about the computers as time allows. She has good English skills and likes to edit the articles. Ian seems to enjoy life in general and appreciates the hands-on experience of living with the land. We are glad to have two enthusiastic people helping us as they fulfill a few of their goals in life as well. Ian has an article on page 18, and Megan’s picture is to the right. Eric Bowers has an article on Non-Violent Communication on page 8 and will return to the Retreat Center this September for another workshop, the dates are on page 11.
Isn’t life grand? I do so appreciate mine!

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