3 ways and 3 outcomes for falling in love with your job.


3 ways to fall in love with your job.

1.) Find meaning for your life –  in your work.  I love going to a massage therapist that make me feel like I want to become a massage therapist.  Committ completely, others will feel and see that in you.  If you know that what you are doing is your belonging.  Why you belong, you will feel more satisfied and more connected.  View it as service to others.  When you help others you find what comes back to you is ‘peace’.

2.) Pay attention to the little for a large impact.  I sent a note card after a recent lunch meeting, it was very well recieved.  I sent two other notecards today.  When you do the little things along the way, you feel good about yourself.   A lady dropped her pen in front of me at the grocery story.  It would have been equally acceptable to wait for her to pick it up.  Instead I stopped picked it up for her.  She thanked me, we made a connection as I wholeheartedly responded with “not a problem”.

 3.) Continue to learn.  I can’t think of a profession that you can finish learning.  Who can’t continue to learn more about themselves, their profession, being more efficient at what you do.  My appetite for Restorative Justice is beyond measure.  I love to read all that I can, apply what I have learned.  I try to improve my art every step of the way. 

The 3 potential outcomes:

3.) developing a network.  I emailed a group of colleagues today – within 30 minutes, two people had emailed back and forwarded my recommendation onto others.  People know me and what I stand for and this helped develop my strong connections and networks.

2.) Feedback like this:

I too wanted you to know that your energy, passion and commitments are most impressive. I an intrigued by your work and would like to opportunity to further discuss. Do you have time next week?

This was bringing another person into the network.  The person who wrote the email is making a personal contribution to SCVRJP and is recommending funders and linking our organizations.

And . . . the number one reason . . . you will get a raise in a down economy.  When I was telling my Dad, it made me tear up.  The board of directors, whose own employers are freezing raises, approved a raise for me.  I even offered to forgo a raise this year.  That was before we went from a 3 person office, to a 2 person office and now a 1 person office. 

So now . . . it’s a great thing I love my job!

Seeing beauty in all of our disabilities.

A brochure arrived in the mail.  It had two of my most favorite things on it.  Rocks & a Circle.


I quickly spotted some of my favorite rocks:  Tigers Eye, Sodalite, Moss Agate, Citrine, Quartz, Aventurine.  I love rocks, the way the Earth somehow created these wonderful pieces with color and personality and beauty.  I can stare off into a rock and look at the lines and colors.  It’s grounding for me.  It is kinda weird.  I prefer my jewelery that is made of natural rocks.

The word ‘Diversity’ is meaninful to me.  It has to do with the inclusivenss of Restorative Justice practice.  It has to do with a paradox of Restorative Justice.  We all walk on common ground.  We have the bottom denominator of being human.  Having the experiences of being human.  Our top denominator is our diversity that we are individually unique.  Just like everyone else.  I love a good paradox!

I had also been thinking about who I am and what I offer in a relationship.  I’ve been trying to “restructure” my thoughts lately.  Instead of “I’m lonely, I wish I had a boyfriend”.  I change that into “I am really looking forward to my next healthy relationship”.

I have faults when it comes to that ‘significant other’ relationship.  I was thinking about these as ‘limitations’ instead of faults.  I mean how do you change and improve yourself, and yet genuinely be authentic.  So I had to get real.  I can be ‘skiddish’ about commitment.  I can ‘over think’ and have really high expectations.  Somehow this thinking that my limitations just need to be managed, both by me and my significant other.  I thought about what limitations am I willing to manage and accept in a future relationship.  I was at the right spot when I got this brochure.

The placement of these words in the center of a circle of rocks . . . it clicked for me. 

We ALL have Relationship Disabilities.  As human beings we ARE a diversity of disabilities.  Let’s make the word Disability neutral, disabilities make us unique.  A disability simply means we made certain adjustments.  And Diversity, I love that word, it means differences, acceptance of those differences.  When you accept them you work within the parameters.

Relative to Restorative Justice – we see people for what and who they are.  We remember people aren’t ‘finished’ yet.  We Circle around a behavior, we offer learning.  Victims share how they were impacted.  Offenders explain what they were thinking.  Community members give witness and presence to the process.  This allows healing for all parties.  One of my favorite quotes:

We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us something is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our touch.  Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any other experience that reveals the human spirit.”     – ee cummings


My attempt at “batch” blogging. I didn’t feel restorative.

I tried a new time mangement technique – relative to blogging.  I learned about it reading Problogger, it’s called ‘Batch Blogging’.  I wrote 6 posts on Sunday and had one scheduled to publish for each day of the week.  So then during the week (in theory) I wouldn’t have to take time blogging.

Here’s what happened.  I still thought about the blog, I even did two posts this week.  I didn’t wait and save them for the future.  I published them right away.  One was because I talked to Carol that day and was so impressed I HAD to get news of her book out.   My goal has been to blog daily, I read that is needed at first for a successful blog.

All comments get forwarded to me via email, so I don’t miss anything that logging in would provide me.  Yet, I felt like I was ‘out of the loop’.  I missed being on the WordPress site and in my Circlespace account.  I found it tempting to want to know how the stats were for the day.  I like to know if there is interest in what I am blogging about and what posts are getting frequent visits.

I then had to go into self-analysis and worry mode.  Was I was overly connected to my blog? 

Then a positive today, I had lunch with a new colleague.  He mentioned my background and that I was from South Dakota.  I immediately knew he read this blog.  Our relationship hit the ground running.  He was very interested and very helpful about the work of SCVRJP.  I let him know the about me page was one I had written and thought it over before posting.  It seems that putting myself out there in this instance really worked.

Back to ‘batch’ blogging.  I like the idea of having a few 1/2 drafts or idea blogs.  But I guess I am not so busy I can’t keep my labor of love  (this blog) in the present tense.  Meaning I write in a ‘real time’ format, I will post my thoughts, ideas and experiences as I experience them. 

Here is how batch blogging didn’t feel like Restorative Justice and some tips on preparing offenders and victims for Restorative Justice Process.

1.) Be fully present.  It might also be called ‘mindful’ in total awareness of where you are and what you are doing.  I was trying to let the blog go on auto pilot while I was busy.  I found my preference is to blog as I go and be present here. 

When preparing to an offender of a victim for a conference – ask about things they may need to ‘let go of’ in order to be fully present during the dialogue.  By asking this, you can find needs that you could help attend to.  I bring this question up when the victim is deciding who should go first in sharing.  You should let the victim decide.  One victim wanted the offender to decide. 

2.) Stay focus on the process not the outcome.  I started blogging to help others learn about RJ and to help meet some of my own goals.  I wanted to get some writing practice.  The process of blogging was important, the process of writing and sharing.  I lost sight and worked on the outcome – 1 blog a day.

Be careful of what you think should be an outcome of Restorative Justice.  Your role as a facilitator is to prepare, PREPARE each side for the meeting.  Clear the path so the dialouge can take place.  I was so fortunate to get to attend Dr. Mark Umbriets training.  He uses 3 “prepares” when he talks to this!

The process of Restorative Justice is what heals.  It’s easy to loose sight of the purpose, I think it’s how we’re made.  Just like if you focus on happiness its a moving target.  You have to be happy in the present moment.  So that is back to point 1.

Written and posted 9:45 pm Friday evening!

Delayed blessings are blessings none the less.

Blessing:   Something promoting or contributing to happiness, well-being, or prosperity;

About 8 months ago I interviewed for a different job.  My resume was recently updated, I was getting approved to offer college credit for one of my trainings.  A position was open with a National Organization the position was relevant to Restorative Justice.  I just tossed out a quick letter and resume to see how I would do.

I got a phone interview.  I had to ask for the full job description.  I hopped on a plane flew out an back in one day for a job interview.  I really felt like a jet setter and had to seriously consider if I would want to do this.  I believe two people were interviewed.

I thought I did great in the interview.  I even had a great story.  I thought it was a sign when small talk in the airport shuttle van led to a woman telling me about her son being killed by a drunk driver.  She went on to share how her surviving son has struggled with sobriety since.  She was an amazing woman, it was a true once in a lifetime connection to a woman I’ll never see again.  It gave a great story when I was asked about my communication skills.

I was definately in a bind.  I LOVE my JOB at SCVRJP.  I wasn’t looking but the pay hike was just about $10,000 a year more.  Lots of travel would be required.  I held tight I tried not to over think it.  I was notified I didn’t get the job. 

I don’t like second place.  I’m a type A.  So I thought like this:  . . . if that wasn’t the next big thing (and it was a pretty big thing) then the next big thing would be REALLY big.  My task now, is to get ready for that next big thing.

Okay – that sounds great, right?  Sometimes I still wondered what if, why not.

Then 8 months later the full blessing.  The person that did my phone interview, part of a panel interview, the person I would directly report to, the person I wanted to learn from.  She doesn’t work there anymore.  I no longer feel an ounce of wanting for that job.

It’s Restorative Justice in away.  I now understand.  I have a clearer knowing.  What seemed at the time to be something that “shortchanged” my future, turns out to be a blessing.

Strategic Prevention Framework, a native tale and my toliet

The title of this blog is bound to be confusing.  These three things became related to me this morning.  Actually the Three Sister tale and SPF (Strategic Prevention Framework were already linked). 

So lets begin with SPF. Basically it means looking at a problem with a 3 prong approach – prevention, intervention and treatment.  For much detail link to SAMHSA here

When I train on this I ask for three volunteers for the front of the room.  The model student (1) who is on task and follows directions.  The ‘at-risk’ student (2), who we know could go either way and then the ‘troublemaker‘ (3).  I  mention my dislike for labels.  When the audience is from the same school or they work together it’s fun to watch.  They self select the student roles, a bit of teasing and prodding and they know exactly who to send to the front of the room.  Sometimes the choice is a paradox.  Like the nice staff playing the troublemaker.  Sometimes I can make a teaching moment – – when strong selections are made by the audience.  So lets say everyone knows the troublemaker.  I bet he’s the guy that take voice to the administration, he might even be the union rep.  We explore this a little identifying his strengths.  Then I point out how his skill set and personality are of value.  What if we could view our class ‘troublemakers’ as students with a special skillset and value. ???  just food for thought.

Back to the theme of the post.  Having the visual in the front of the room.  I demonstrate how school-based Restorative Justice address needs and harms for all three types of students.  Formal discipline will remove student 3.  Leaving 1 & 2 to wonder what happened.  For student 2, if can reinforce his ‘the world is mean’ reality.  RJ engages all three and benefits all three.

The Native Tale I heard from Don Coyhis  he was presenting at a conference Washington DC.  The Wellbriety movement has some great stuff.  Ths story as I remember it from Don.

Three Sisters heard noises of crying from the River, they ran over to see all these babies in the water.  Crying, drowning, some were floating they had already drown.  One sister ran up stream to see why the babies were falling in the river.  The second sister got in the water and starting teaching the babies to swim.  The third sister started to rescue babies from the water.

This story illustrates the many places of intervention.  I really make a point of spending time on Restorative Justice in all those areas.  Preventing the number one cause of death for people 16-24 by safe teen driving circles.  Underage Consumption for those already ticketed for drinking and finally storytelling space for those that have killed or had to survive the death of a loved one.

Okay my toliet.  A little battle began recently.  It’s me trying to keep the toliet clean.  About a month ago repairs were needed.  Now the flush is very slow and it is not taking all the ‘germs’ away.  I know this because it is getting very dirty, very fast.  I don’t like this one bit.  Who likes toliet cleaning? 

I called the Landlord and the maintance man said nothing was wrong with it.  Before the toliet broke and was repaired I didn’t have to clean it as often which worked perfectly fine for me.  So I went for a solution, calling the Landlord didn’t work.  So I got a blue water treatment thingy, one of those cakes for the back of the toilet.  I decided to prevent the problem.  That way  wouldn’t have to apply an intervention as often. 

This morning I watched the flush and when the blue water was out, I still saw the very dirty bowl.  Now that that failed I realized I have to go to treatment – call the landlord and say insist it’s broken.  It just all clicked in my head today.

Just for a little fun . . .

The Landlord is our current formal justice system/discipline in school.  Saying “its’ not broken”.  The blue toilet cake – is the response (probation, prison, formal discipline).  The things we think are working and they are a little.  But take a closer look and we all need to get together, use the scrub brush and keep on top of the issues.  There’s no quick fix other than to DO THE WORK NEEDED.

Thank goodness for all the people working to keep us safe!  Let’s continue to implement Restorative Justice to prevent, intervene and treat.  I think our success at transforming people will be much better.

Restorative Justice relationships are different than other relationships.

Full disclosure:  I’m reacting to some recent events.  I am posting to provide a lesson to all of us.  In this post we will dive into differences in a Restorative Relationship and that of a Criminal Justice “service” relationship (probation officer, social worker, jail staff, therapist, attorney, prison guard, prosecutor).

Imagine someone judges you as “unprofessional”, lets call this “Person A”.  Instead of “Person A” talking to you, they tell your supervisor.  The supervisor instead of talking to you, tells your other supervisors. 

You have no direct communication with “Person A” .  “Person A” is not redirected by a supervisor to have a discussion with you.  The supervisor who took the complaint from “Person A” doesn’t talk with you.  The task is delegated to another supervisor.

What do you do?”

The world would be a wonderful place if we were all operating from and with restorative justice principles

1.) Be given the chance to explain what happened?

2.) Given the chance to hear (listening) how we impact others.

3.) Given the chance to share (speaking)  how others impact us.

Restorative Justice Relationships.  Restorative Justice is about building relationships and repairing harm to relationships.  Another key aspect is accountability.  Restoratively, you cannot hold someone accountable if you don’t have a relationship.

How do you build relationships?  You have conversations.  Conversations are simply speaking and listening. 

Restorative Justice is based on respect.  How do you treat someone with respect?  You treat them as a equal.  You have conversations that demonstrate you are human being, equal worth and value as the human being you are with.  Service professionals in the Criminal Justice system – are not afforded the ability to be AS equal as those of us in Restorative Justice.  Why?  Empathy development, for one. 

For exmaple: The act of empathy is not the role of the prosecutor.  Teaching empathy and motivating people towards understanding how they impact others.  That is the role of the restorative justice professional. 

What about a probation agent?   The primary goal and focus is accountability and assisting another in fullfilling a court order, monitoring compliance.  Would that be as effective if the agent mentioned what happened in their day?  I don’t think so, but I don’t know.

What I do know is Restorative Justice.  I do know that we build healthy connections with the those we work with.  Relationship mean conversation.  Conversations about our Restorative Justice goals – moving towards a conference, practice of a story or participation in a Circle.  Also conversation about ourselves and our own lives.  Restorative Justice professionals walk a fine line and develop skills around good boundaries and good connections.  Because Restorative Justice providers also role model being human.  We keep conversation going by starting with small talk.  We establish rapport.  Building and establishing rapport means being on the same wavelength.  You might discuss an event in your life or share your feelings.  Rapport is used by salesman and mental health therapists.  I googled ‘establishing rapport’ and got 237,000 options.

When I teach teachers about school-based restorative justice, I teach them how to use affective statements.  For example “it makes me sad when you complain about the homework.  I worked hard at preparing this lesson”.    You humanize yourself to students.  Restorative Justice practitioners create an image of themselves that is not one of authority

This isn’t just Kris Miner’s brand of restorative jusitce – the IIRP publication ‘The Restorative Practices Handbook for Teachers, Disciplinarians and Administrators” page 12 talks about these exact points.

These relationships lend to the client developing empathy and when you use your relationship (based on caring and mutual interest) you can intervene and the client feels the leverage based on a postive healthy relationship versus a violation of the rules.  You can develop empathy, explain things in a relationship context and help with victim awareness.

The majority of Criminal Justice Service Relationships are ones of authority.  And necessarily so.  I want those that break serious laws to be held accountable by a firm and fair criminal justice system.

I wonder if a Criminal Justice Service Provider would then see a Restorative Justice Practitioner as “unprofessional”?  I imagine the Criminal Justice service provider response would be to go to an authority rather than directly to the Restorative Justice Practitioner.

I imagine the Restorative Justice Practitioner would use her relationship with blog readers to explain.

Writing a book, one draft at a time.

I thought I knew better.

I wrote a grant for a major project.  I know when you get the grant money that means you do the project.  I got a grant to write a book.  I hadn’t written much since college.  That was over 10 years ago.  I didn’t put that part in the grant.  : )

What I put in the grant was the power that Circles have in healing and the potential to change behavior.


It’s Time to make the world a safer place to drive. That’s Allstate’s Stand

Waiting for my Latte today and I pick up the March 2, 2009 New Yorker Magazine, flip the magazine over and I’m reading a FULL PAGE ad about the teen brain and the Allstate Stand.  Oh my.  I had to get back to work on the book TODAY!

So I did.  It’s been a progression for me.  Run a non-profit, parent a teen, teach a college class, write a book.  It looks as if I haven’t been writing for about 6 weeks.  When I was writing I took it section by section.  Today I finally put 6,000 words to the 9,000 I already had.  That means I have about 15,000 words.  I need to get closer to 50,000.

When I began to cut and paste on a very large word document it was confusing, overwhelming. 

So I had to print off the ‘heart’ of the book (no need for title page or the blank dedication page).  So now I’ve looked over the 82 pages, 8 post it notes full of notes.  Lots of ideas now and reorganization needed.  I’m not taking anything out – I want the editor to decide if stories or thoughts are not relevant.

I learned a few things with this.  For example I had the orning news on, while I was writing.   The California forest fires were raging and I make a reference to them.  It really doesn’t make much sense now.  I did take that part out.

So I’ve got a start, a draft to work from.  It still seems like nailing jello to a try, but I have no choice.  I have to keep writing and working on it.  I can’t see any light in the tunnel yet.  I’m looking both ahead and behind, I guess I just have to keep moving. 

What is someone somewhere takes this book and helps a grieving parent?

What if a parent finds help and hope after losing a child?

What if a teen driver changes a habit and we are all safer for it?  I need to go work on my schedule, it won’t get done if I don’t put it on my schedule.

Excellent New Book about Restorative Justice!

gviewI haven’t even read this yet, my copy was already mailed and I can’t wait for it to arrive.  The author and I spoke on the phone today and she was so genuine and authentic, I just know it will be a great book.  Over the past three years Carol Harcarik put countless hours into interviewing and observing some remarkable examples of Restorative Justice.  With her background in investigative reporting and passion for what gives us “hope” the book on Restorative Justice emerged.  Carol has been in touch with some of my favorite people for this book.  Mark Umbriet, Janine Geske, Howard Zehr and the Barron County Restorative Justice Program.  From speaking to conference participants to impact panel speakers she gathered the essence of what happens.

I hope to keep in contact with Carol.  I shared with the the upcoming WRJC Conference information – we should both be there and have books along to sell.  I sent her in the direction of the National RJ Conference and I’ll have books along there too.

If you want to get your copy ordered – email hartingtonpress@aol.com  or call 920-648-3901.  Be sure to tell them that you found out about the book from the Circlespace Blog or Kris Miner.


A great resource supporting school-based RJ.

The majority of trainings I do are for schools wanting to implement school-based Restorative Justice.  This is only one aspect of my job.

I have found the more research and evidence I can share the better.  I seriously believe in building a foundation.  I also say “nothing new under the Sun”.  I have found that field of Social Emotional Learning is a real fit for Restorative Justice.

Today I was connected to the School Climate Blog.  Lauren left me a comment and also updated the School Climate Blog and provided a link back here.

Please check out their site, very professional.  It really creates the foundation and backdrop for addressing School Climate. logo




Another great benefit of being a blogger is networking and the benefit of each of us then sharing about each other.  It really is a way to operate from a place of generosity and abundance.  You give and get back, it’s wonderful.

A great ‘Talking Piece’ is about YOU!

s1542678616_30133470_4560I use the book Peacemaking Circles in my University of Wisconsin – River Falls Restorative Justice Courses.  I hadn’t read the book in awhile.  On a side note, I have a cherished copy that Kay Pranis signed for me at my first Circle Training back in 2003.  The books were just out it was exciting to be part of.  Anyway . . . last year a student approached after one of our classes.  He talked with me about being so struck by the 14 pages of the book dedicated to the ‘Talking Piece’.  I love hearing someone elses thoughts on what stirs them (especially when it comes to Circles).  Dan shared that is seems such a natural thing to use it (we had several weeks of class and several Circles, since each class is in Circle).  He even mentioned the book dedicates 14 pages to the Talking Piece.  Dan renewed my understanding and appreciation for just how special Talking Pieces can be.

It’s important to use “Talking Pieces” for their full potential.  A few pointers.

1.) Item of significance.  If it is important to you, you can share your connection to the item.  By sharing that, you share a ‘piece’ of you when it is passed around.  You role model sharing in Circle when you talk about the talking piece and you demonstration ‘connectedness’ by talking about the connection.  Catherine uses a hockey puck, and one of my students attended a Circle she facilitated and when I asked about it he said “she sure loves hockey”.  It was very positive.  Things like this are remembered in Circle, they are remembered because a Story is being shared about the talking piece.

2.)Keep the tone positive.  Remind that the talking piece is an opportunity to speak from the heart.  Not a negative that “no one else gets to speak”.  More about that in this post.  Natural items like stones and deer antlers I have found to be calming.  Reminding people of a walk in the woods.

3.) Use the Piece itself for a question or a lesson.  I’ve been in a Circle where a piece of drift wood was used.  We all had the opportunity to talk about what we saw in the wood.  This end up it looked like a seal, the other way it looked more like a blooming flower.  Each person got to share an interpretation.  The question was used as we got acquainted in the Circle.  When it returned to the Circlekeeper, she shared a story. 

A young woman returning to her community (from a residential setting) was meeting with her community to repair harm and plan for a successful return.  She kept passing and not sharing.  Finally she had the talking piece (the same driftwood) and she turned it and finally said “I feel like this talking piece” and she began to share that she was having many different feelings and reactions to returning home.

Recent Circles at the Restorative Justice Center have me letting my students select Talking Pieces from those we keep around on shelves.  We ended up using Catherine’s Talking Piece, a hockey puck.  I was sharing in the Circle, holding the puck and realized how ‘handy’ it is.  Easy to hold, I found myself wondering the ‘story’ of it.  I also thought about all the ‘Underage Youth’ and Community Members that have shared wisdom while holding it.  It really struck me, I knew it was a powerful tool. I appreciated it because I appreciate Catherine and the power of Circle.