From the Team

March 2019

I feel immense joy, gratitude, and awe working with such a collaborative team of compassionate, inspiring and supportive people. One of the things I value and appreciate most about working with the BayNVC team is that I am invited and encouraged to be my whole self at work.All of our meetings (whether one on one, small groups or the full team) begin with check-ins where we have space to share how we are doing emotionally, mentally and physically.

At BayNVC, authenticity is celebrated, vulnerability is held with great tenderness, empathy is always available, honoring individual capacity with compassion is the norm, support is routinely offered, self-care is constantly encouraged, and trust is the foundation of our team culture – dramatically different from typical workplaces!

Rather than detracting from the flow of work, I believe this wholehearted, whole person approach contributes to the flow and overall productivity. It helps us honor where each person is at with their capacity and organically adjust as a team. Showing up and sharing in this way contributes to a deep sense of companionship, connection and co-holding that is incredibly nourishing and replenishes energy; energy that can be used to do our work more efficiently. What a relief from putting on a “professional appearance” and hiding our authentic experiences, which drains energy and isolates us.

Heather and Leonie at Art of Facilitation Retreat 2017

In this environment of care and compassion, I am inspired to joyfully contribute to the maximum of my capacity with wholehearted willingness and with my whole self; something I previously experienced only outside of work.

Sadly, these last few months have been the most challenging of my life, largely due to the loss of several loved ones. During this time, my team members have helped me mourn, not only the loss of my loved ones but also the gap between my enormous desire to contribute to the team and my reduced capacity to do so.

I have been generously encouraged to work within my limits and to let others temporarily take on some of my tasks when self-care and family needs are critical. How incredibly different this is from the usual attitude of a ‘workplace’ — where maximum productivity is valued typically without considering the cost to the people doing the work.

When a team member is feeling overwhelmed, we look for ways we can shift work, ways we can support and care for one another, and ways we can do our best work collaboratively within our collective capacity. It is our authenticity, and often our vulnerability, that allows for this natural flow of interdependence and creates a sense of ongoing abundance within our team.

I want to share and celebrate that everything I described above perfectly matches my experience working with the Nonviolent Global Liberation Community (NGL) as well. I treasure the friendships I’ve made within both communities and I’m looking forward to deepening those connections, as well as making new ones, at the NGL-CA Retreat in August.

If you are interested in experiencing what I’ve described here, I hope you’ll join us at one of our upcoming retreats. (NGL Poland is coming up in May!)

With love and immense gratitude for being part of the BayNVC and NGL Communities….and this abundant flow of trust and generosity,

Heather

Heather Austin is the Event Coordinator at BayNVC and welcomes connection with the community. She can be reached via email at heather@baynvc.org.

January 2019

“I want to be more kind and loving to my parents”. Almost a year ago to this date, I read this resolution to a dear friend. The holiday visit to my parents’ home a few weeks prior fluctuated between explosions of anger and joyful togetherness. This was common for my family, and it became poignant when I realized that my parents were undeniably aging. While I genuinely wanted to cultivate better relationships with them, my resolution became my command.

Stephanie and her father playing music at her mother’s funeral. Photo by Richard D. Iyall, Cowlitz on Flickr. 

My mom unexpectedly died two weeks later. Our relationship drastically improved the last five years of her life, but I regretted some of the ways we interacted during our last holiday season together. I turned to my surviving parent with desperate urgency to be kind and loving with him. It quickly became clear that commanding myself towards kindness and love was like sitting on the couch while staring down a gym membership card to get fit. My empathy and care muscles atrophied, and I repeatedly injured myself carrying unrealistic expectations for our relationship.

During this time, I was a candidate for a job with BayNVC. I read through the core commitments on the website, and was instantly inspired by their gracious understanding and encouragement towards more capacity and resilience. I met Miki for an “interview” three weeks after my mom died. Our main topics of discussion were vulnerability and grief. Within minutes of meeting me, Miki generously co-held the most traumatic experience of my life.

I quickly found that my experience with Miki was not an anomaly. The core commitments vibrate throughout the BayNVC team. Leonie’s prioritization of relationships through open dialogue, empathy, and conflict resolution immensely benefits our community. Beth kindly invites me to assume innocence when I find myself triggered. Rebecca embodies the breathtaking dance of authenticity and vulnerability, which emboldens me to move to a similar rhythm. Dawn consistently honors caring for her life and interdependence, reminding me that they are not mutually exclusive. All of these women offered their empathic presence to me last year, tenderly holding me through my grief and the difficult “first” milestones without my mom. As I heal, I’m experiencing more clarity and strength. I have greater capacity to give what I can offer thanks to the love and support of the BayNVC team and community.

As the one year anniversary of my mom’s death approaches, I am happily reflecting on the recent holiday season with my dad. Even in the midst of some challenging moments with him, I noticed myself consistently walking the walk while talking the talk of nonviolence. The command for kindness and love shifted to a devotion to love no matter what. This is inseparable from the BayNVC team’s dedication to live the core commitments from the inside out. As Miki says, living in integrity is demanding, and incredibly life giving. With this community, I am celebrating the New Year with an appreciable diminuendo of commands as life-enriching relationships crescendo.

With authenticity and vulnerability,

Steph

Stephanie Smith is the Administrator at BayNVC. She welcomes connection from the NVC community. You can email her at stephanie@baynvc.org.