Helping Nonprofit Leaders Transform Conflict

Leadership Coach and Mediator

“It’s okay to be white.” Really?!

There’s a Ziploc bag on our lawn. With a stone in it. And a leaflet. “You don’t have to feel guilty because you’re white”.

I see one on my neighbor’s lawn too. And on Gloria’s. And Gregg’s. And Matt and Mei’s, and their four and six-year-old daughters. I pick them up one by one, I don’t want the girls to accidentally see them.

Some have the most egregiously racist cartoons I have ever seen. Worse than the ones I’ve seen from the early 1900s. Some have a swastika. A white mother, her blond hair braided in typical nazi style, holding a white baby. Underneath it: “Stop white genocide”. Sender: the Aryan Freedom Network.

My amygdala is running in overdrive, triggering my flight reaction. My prefrontal cortex and hippocampus are taking a back seat.

I text some trusted neighbors for advice. Within minutes, it is reported to the police and the Anti-Defamation League. Two hours later we have an impromptu neighborhood gathering with our council member Kathie Tovo.

When I arrive, I see some 40 people in the circle. Kathie shares that we are not the first neighborhood to be hit with these hate bombs. My neighbors respond resolutely that we will do what it takes to keep our neighborhood free from hate, racism, and white supremacy.

When I summarize what everyone has said, it is clear which actions we agree on.

We put up signs “Neighbors United Against Hate” and “All Are Welcome, Except White Supremacists”. A group app is created to keep each other informed. We reach out to those most at risk. A meet-and-greet is adopted as common practice.

When I leave, I feel so grateful that we came together to listen to each other, generate new ideas, and came up with a plan.

You too might benefit from the wisdom of others: your neighbors in the nonprofit world.

Your rock will be different than mine.

It can be a CEO who is constantly pushing through new policies and pushing out your colleagues as a result. Or the nagging thought that you don’t bring enough of yourself to your team. Or the hours you spend to resolve conflict within your team.

But like the Ziploc bags, there are overall similarities between them.

Wouldn’t it be nice to talk to people who have had a similar experience? Someone who can listen and maybe share how they responded?

Coming together won’t change your situation, but it can be so empowering and relieving to know you’re not alone.

The Leadership Circles for nonprofit leaders offer that. In April I start a new one. Contact me if you have an interest.

Schedule your interview here.

Broken Bucket

Reusing resources is a good thing. I am convinced of that. It’s good for our planet, for our people, and my profit.

So throwing water out on the lawn seems a good idea to me.

Even if it is dirty water with some Dr. Bronner lavender soap in it. 

Thus, when I finish cleaning the kitchen floor, I pick up the bucket to throw the water onto the lawn. Happy peppy water saving.

Only, the bucket slips out of my hands.

It smashes on the ground and breaks. A crack appears from the top to the bottom. My only cleaning bucket is rendered useless. My intention to save resources results in having to spend time and money to buy a new one.

What a bummer.

Looking at the cracked bucket, I decide to:
1.    Accept the result of my action and the blame and frustration that come up from my failure.

2.    Ask my husband for help. Fortunately, he is happy peppy to repair it with his soldering gun.

Because of these 2 actions, I have a perfectly usable bucket.

Why did this work so well?

Because it includes two crucial elements of repair:
1.    Acknowledging that the impact of our behavior can be very different from our intentions.

2.    Focusing on repairing the impact, instead of dismissing, defending, or explaining our intention.

Psychology research shows that these elements work in human relations as well. It doesn’t matter in which culture you grew up, in which faith, or in which millennium.

Almost everyone responds positively to a sincere effort to repair ruptures in relationships.

By expressing our regret about something we said or did, we convey that the other person matters to us and that they are worthy of support and understanding.

I imagine everyone likes such confirmation.

Without repair, others will trust you less. If you don’t reach out, they don’t get the reassurance that you are conscious of your incompetence, that you want to learn from your ignorance, and that your focus is the relationship, not your ego.

The first thing you need to do is to acknowledge for yourself that you made a mistake and practice self-compassion, so the acknowledgment doesn’t turn into shame.

The second thing is to share your mistakes with a confidant and ask for help. Someone who can listen with empathy and compassion and help you figure out how to repair the rupture.

For people who want support in learning how to have and give empathy and repair ruptures in relationships, I offer a group coaching program: The Authentic Joy Journey, also known as the Pledj-group.

We meet bi-weekly for 12 weeks and we explore and practice these topics:

1. Learning
Failure applause, creative tension, and tiny habits

2. Needs
Self-acceptance, the three levels of needs, and the bougainvillea and purple heart

3. Feelings
Pseudo-feelings, check-engine lights, anger

4. Emotional Liberation
Codependency, quality of the relationship, honesty & empathy    

5. Self-Worth
Shame, self-compassion, and limiting beliefs

6. Autonomy
Interdependence, requests, mourning & celebration, next steps

This is for you if you can joyfully pay $438 and commit the time and energy to this program.

This is not for you if the challenges in your life seem overwhelming. You might benefit more from working one-on-one with me or talking with a therapist or counselor.

In this program, we work on transforming core beliefs that we don’t matter, stop living as if life will start later, and start feeling present, content, and grateful in our day-to-day life.

We will meet bi-weekly on Zoom for six sessions, 90 minutes each. We start in February with a max of eight participants.

Contact me with any questions.

Read more about the program.

Building collaborative communities

Mediate your LifeThank you, John and Ike, for facilitating the Mediate Your Life retreat.

I thoroughly loved it. I loved the community, the safety, the acceptance, the learning, and the comradery on the path of compassionate communication. I feel grateful for all the practical tools and practices that I directly can use in my daily life. And most of all, I feel touched, inspired and appreciative of the respect, inclusion and openness you showed towards any idea offered by anyone at any time. With all your years of experience in teaching, training and mediating you never pretended you knew it all. Every day seemed like a fresh, new day with new answers to new challenges to best support the participants in this workshop at this moment.

You modeled how I want to build community and collaboration. Not contracted and constricted, guarding my carefully crafted opinions. Not scared that my ideas will be swept off the table as irrelevant and uninteresting. Not attached to my points of view, thinking that I know the truth, and the only truth.

I aspire to stop my chatter mind when someone offers an idea I don’t know, or might even feel resistance to. And then listen. Just listen. What does the other person have to say? What is important to them? How are they contributing to expanding my world view? Where is the valuable gem in their words? How can I honor their willingness to share their unique wisdom with me?

It seems so simple. Just stop and listen. And then, with an open heart and curious mind, explore their ideas. Like tasting wine. Or chew chocolate. Oh, the wonderful nuances of this idea… how it reveals itself… what an unexpected surprise to hear this…

My monkey mind immediately protests. ‘What if the idea is harmful, like blacks are lazy?‘ I don’t have any other answer than that you can always empathize with them. Understanding where the speaker is coming from, their fears, pain, desires. How those are captured in this idea. How there might be something precious in their idea, even if I don’t like the way they express what is important to them. And I can imagine that creates connection, and maybe a new understanding for both of us.

It sounds simple. Just stop and listen. I guess it takes a lot of personal growth, radical honesty about where you’re stuck, and courage to let go of preconceived ideas, before you can show up like that.

Ike and John thank you so much for being role models, as I strive to be who I want to be.


Contact me if you want support to open up to new ideas and build collaborative communities 512-589-0482

Isn’t it wonderful to have a community?

CommunityA community that supports you in your practice, and encourages and inspires you to continue your efforts? A community that shares the same values and aspirations? Whether it is your AA, my weightlifting, our Sangha, their church, his soccer club, any community that celebrates your successes and your failures is wonderful.

Thich Nhat Hanh once said that the next Buddha is not gonna be an individual, it’s gonna be a Sangha. A community that awakens to enlightenment and helps relieve suffering.

The essence of community is a sense of belonging

For me belonging means that, however I show up, I am seen and accepted for who I am. I find that in my Sangha. Whether I come in grumpy, irritated, peaceful, happy, sad, lonely or scared, I always receive the same kind of love and welcome. It is even irrelevant who is there. It is the Sangha as a body, that bids me welcome. This welcoming is not limited to me, everyone who shows up is greeted with the same level of warmth. Whether you have ADHD, mental health challenges, alcoholic issues, struggles in your marriage, failing grades at school, whether you are black, brown or white, young or old: everyone is embraced with the same kind of excitement, just because they show up to practice together.

Strong communities support autonomy

There is more to strong communities. Yesterday I wrote about differentiation. The ability to balance your needs for togetherness and autonomy.

I claim that our Sangha is differentiated.

This morning I talked with Nhu-Mai about my intention to become an aspirant member of the Order of Interbeing. She encouraged me to use my time as an aspirant member to check in with myself whether being a member of the Order of Interbeing really resonates with me. Whether that is my heart’s desire, and honors the flow of my life. She told me that there is no shame, no punishment, no exclusion if I realize during my period as an aspirant member I don’t want to be ordained. My clarity will be celebrated. Whether the clarity is that I don’t want to commit, or do want to commit, I will belong and accepted.

I feel touched and impressed.

I am part of a community where my need for togetherness is nurtured, and my need for autonomy.


Contact me if you want to schedule a complimentary, discovery session to see if and how I can help you with your practice 512-589-0482

Spontaneity and an overdosis emails

EnthusiasmI like my enthusiasm and spontaneity. Just doing things for the fun of it, without much thinking about the consequences. It never brought me into trouble, and it created great experiences.

Blogging community

So, when I read at ZerotoHero that bloggers need to connect to their community, I followed their advice and selected other blogs to follow. 49. Hum. Maybe a little much. But I take this blogging thing seriously, and I want to publish a book, so building an author-platform is essential for my career. Connecting to other bloggers seems the way to go, and leaving comments on their posts (never to get the spotlights on you, of course, always júst to add value to them) is the way to do it. So, I changed my settings on my account, and now I am notified of every comment anyone leaves on any of these 49 blogs.

Seemed like a good thing to do, you know. I am set up to respond to posts and comments, write something smart and snazzy, and be seen as an expert in my field. Yep, that will help me build my author platform.

At 12:30 AM I go to bed, dreaming of my first published book.

Too much

I wake up this morning with 250 emails. Two hours later it is 370. Every comment anyone makes on any of these blogs is sent to me. I mean any.

Hum. Maybe I need to change my settings. Maybe I don’t need to read every comment every other blogger makes on any of these blogs. Maybe I can slow down a little bit in my ambition. Maybe just first writing my own blogs. And maybe leave a comment once or twice on someone else’s. And spend the rest of the time creating an income.

A fine new year’s resolution

Hum. That sounds like a fine new year’s resolution.