From the Team

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.