The empty frame below represents the photograph I saw almost 10 years ago that profoundly changed my life. You can see a copy of that image on the lensculture website, by clicking here and then clicking through to the sixth image.

See the powerful image this blank frame represents by clicking here and then clicking through to the 6th image.
Blank frame image courtesy adamr

Taken by Paul Vreeker (Reuters, The Netherlands) it won 2nd prize for People in the News Singles, in the 2004 World Press Photo contest.

In his protest against threatened deportation from the Netherlands, Iranian asylum-seeker Mehdy Kavousi sewed up his lips and eyelids and went on a hunger strike. Seeing this stunning image on posters plastered around Vienna – that refined city – drew me to the exhibition.

Of course there were also moments of beauty, grace, courage and compassion portrayed. But as I wordlessly wandered through this powerful exhibition that afternoon, many more of the nearly 200 photos catapulted me into the worlds of pain, abuse, suffering and violence we perpetrate on ourselves, each other, and our earth.

 Even as I sit and write, I can feel in my body remnants of that experience of stunned silence.  

 In being present to the pain we humans will inflict – even on ourselves – as we try to ‘right’ the violence or some kind of ‘wrong’ that’s being done to us, or someone or something that we care about, a sense of sheer heartbroken-ness washed over me.

 My heart screamed “NO! If we keep doing this none of us will survive!”

 Though I didn’t then have the clarity and language I have today, that moment of my heart breaking open was the moment that opened the door for me to become an agent of change in our world. I declared to myself I would do what was mine to do.

It didn’t take long to recognize this journey of realizing RICH relationships

started right at home – with me

  As I’ve journeyed and discovered things I’ve shared them with those who will listen, because as Bruce Lipton says, “It makes no sense to have a congruent life but not a congruent world.”

  If you’ve been around me, you know I particularly passionately share things like:

  • frameworks that give me the courage to increasingly let go of my need for control, and instead dance with the improv of life – to more quickly have a creative “Yes, and ….” response when life unfolds in unanticipated, and sometimes unpleasant ways
  • practices that have given me greater freedom to choose the way I respond to what’s happening in my life in ways that are in integrity with me – so I rarely feel stuck, or a victim. And in those moments when I do, it doesn’t take me long to recognize what’s happening, and find my way back home to me
  • ways of being with me and those around me that have empowered me to respectfully speak my truth – even when it feels scary.


Lifegiving possibilities rippling out …
Image courtesy of Just2shutter

 The Relationship Treasures program I developed last year was grounded in these principles and practices, and I’d been planning to offer it again before the summer. But just last week I was introduced by a friend to some writing that has  profoundly deepened my own experience.

In combining this new ‘discovery’ with requests I’ve had from several of you, I’m recognizing the call to set aside Relationship Treasures for now, and say “Yes, and …” to your requests and this deeper learning, by creating a community space for those who’d like to join me in Diving Deeper than we can go in our At Home calls.

Though he died in 1993 at the age of 44, thankfully, Stephen Robbins Schwartz’s widow, Donna Totten, has continued to create a way for people to have access to his material. The excerpts I’ve been reading excerpts focus on what he called Compassionate Self-Care. They have for me a vibrancy, and immediacy that’s compelling.

Here’s a taste of what I mean – a few quotes from Stephen Robbins Schwartz:

  • The way to overcome the counter-force of shame and self-hate is to bless, be with, respect and not be against our own experience.
  • A deep relationship with someone else is impossible as long as we are terrified of ourselves.
  • This is a journey that takes place in the heart. It does not take place in our belief structures.
  • This human experience is a bridge between two worlds … between freedom and hardness, … this is about what it means to engage in spiritual work.

If you were really hoping to experience Relationship Treasures Hidden in Plain Sight, don’t worry, I’ll let you know as soon as we re-schedule it. But even in these snippets, I imagine you can see why Stephen Robbins Schwartz’s writing has been so resonant for me! I’m excited to explore these ideas, and whatever else might emerge, with those of you drawn to join me.

If you feel your life calling you – wherever you are along the continuum from noticing a slight stirring of curiosity through to a deep-in-your-bones-knowing of “Yes, this is for me.” – I hope you’ll respond to this resonance and join us.

I have some thoughts on how we might co-create this space for Diving Deeper AND, I want to hear yours. Do be in touch and let me know!

Nurturing juicy co-creative partnerships
…with ourselves, others & life!