When you want a relationship to be different it is.

I asked boyfriend where my anxiety went.  He said it ran off with his fear.

We had a good laugh. 

We both agreed those two, fear and anxiety running off together, helped us be in the relationship we have now.  The picture that popped in my head was two cartoon characters holding hands and running side-by-side off into the sunset.  I smiled and enjoyed the present moment, life was perfect.

We were out to eat, sitting in a cool restaurant with great seats.  We had spent the day together, walking thru an art fair.  I was wearing a new necklace.  Boyfriend saw me admiring it.  I was going to walk away, think it over, it was nearly $80.  I thought if I had the feeling I can’t live without and it’s still here when I come back, then maybe.  He interupted my thoughts and concentration and invited me to try it on.  The brown, green heart shaped center stone looked right at home on me.  I asked the artist about the stone.  It was Turquoise, from China, that’s why it had the brown and green look.  He said “I’ll get that for you”.

It was one of those times in life when I lost my words.  I was stunned, I was touched.  He’s not ever done anything like that before.  But then our relationship has never been here before.

Boyfriend and I have history.  To say we “butted heads” in the past would be an understatement.  Not as boyfriend/girlfriend, as professionals.  I think we both lacked some professionalism at the time.  Our conflicted relationship was well known.   As boyfriend says often these days “that was then, this is now”.  We somehow got past, that past conflicted work relationship, it took about 3 years and then we started dating.  Dating was rocky, we were off and on.

Then boyfriend gave me a speech.  Maybe even a lecture.  He was tired of the dancing around.  He told me we belong together.  He cited several key points, shussh-ing me every time I tried to speak.  He asked me if I would marry him, then said he didn’t mean it like that.  He declared himself and his position.  He left me a little confused about some analogy to a Rocky movie that ended with two people punching each other.  That part I chalked up to the beer, he had been drinking.  I think he was referencing the ‘dancing around each other’ part.  Then the sky opened up and started pouring rain.  We had to make a run for it.  I remember thinking that was some sort of sign.

Since that time, we’ve been together.  It’s been fantastic.  We both see each other differently.  I feel like he treats me differently.  I am different.

You have the power to change your relationships.  If boyfriend and I can do it, anyone can.

Restorative Jusitce is all about relationships.  Changing relationships between victims and their community.  The relationship between victims and offenders, offenders and their parents, victims and the families of offenders.  You can even change the ‘system’ and ‘victim’ relationship.  Sometimes the criminal justice system leaves victims feeling more harmed.  As a facilitator of this process, I’ve seen the worse parts for each person get exposed in Circle and then healed.  Moms share grief, victims share pain.  Offenders share remorse, community members share concerns.  These pieces get aired, and get set free.  Naming them, explaining them makes room for them to heal.  It’s almost like they evaporate at the acknowledgement.  Maybe not gone forever, but transformed enough to make it liveable, and leave people feeling better.  Feeling good about doing restorative justice anyway.

What you see in the relationship, what you want from the relationship can be transformed.  You just have to pay attention and put into it what you would like to get out of it.  You might want to find what you and the other person have in common and let those parts run off together.

If you only visit one blog about restorative justice, make it RJOB.

I really respect and appreciate the work at  Restorative Justice Online.  As part of the Prision Fellowship Internation and The Center for  Justice and Reconcilliation the Restorative Justice  blog is awesome.

Dan VanNess and the other correspondents do a terrific job of combing the internet and brining together articles, review, opinions and writing helpful articles themselves.

You can also find them on facebook, and that gives you another view to scroll thru stories, articles and posts.

I have to admit, I like to see what posts they pick up from Circlespace and post over on their site.  Then when I visit  I am always impressed by what I find, and I should admit I can be a bit of a ‘restorative snob’, like a person who knows alot about wine.  I imagine there is a better way to explain that notion.  It’s almost 6 pm and tonight was my night to not work late.  

The gem of the day, I found via RJOB, was this free booklet explaining 40 conferences, very cool.  Click here:  pdf link.

The value of viewing people in the context of their relationships.

I am rereading Restorative Justice Transforming SocietiesrestorativejusticeI am teaching from this book, the University of Wisconsin River Falls, Special Topics course Intro to Restorative Justice.  As I read the book again, from just a year ago, I’ve been suprised at what I find interesting, or have more experience with that creates these “a-ha’s” for me.

I appreciate the first essays, a community member speaking about Maori justice, an offender and a prosecutor.  I am really interested in seeing how our class discussion goes.  I did a take home quiz to make sure people would be prepared to cover the first 40 pages.

One of the concepts that I missed before, was the importance of seeing offenders in context of their relationships.  On page 29 Rupert Ross makes the point of how this helps victims.  To see the offender also lives with in human relationships helps victims see the offender as a “human being, not a creature of nightmare”.

He makes the point that having the offenders family and friend is Circle is what brings these benefits. 

On more than one occassion I have watched and heard victims responding to the parents attendance at a restorative justice session.  For some reason we default to the idea, if juvenile crime occurs, there must be a lack of parenting.

Parents of juvenile who commit crimes know this.  There is a great deal of shame when your kid breaks the law.  That is why it is so important to have parents at the session.  They explain how they felt when they realized what happened.  The juveniles get to see what impact their behavior had on their own parents, but the parents of their peers.

I got to observe a very polite young lady.  She was a young guest and she was picking up dishes after the meal.  I remembered how well I would behave at someone elses house.  My Mom didn’t like it much that I would pitch in and offer to help in front of company or at someone elses.  The power of what my Aunt or my friends parents thought of me mattered.

When we do restorative justice, we help heal and mend the offenders relationship to his parents, parents in his community and most importantly with the victim.

Restorative Jusitce can turn the whole story around.

Story A:  I did this bad thing.  I am a bad person.

Story B:  I made a mistake.  I can do better.

Victim participation in Restorative Justice is so valuable, so important.  I think the victims are unsung, everyday hero’s.  They seek Restorative Justice for a variety or reasons.  The context of their relationship – to the crime and the the offender is impacted with Restorative Justice.

Victim stories:

Story A:  I was harmed.  bastards.

Story B: I was harmed.  I feel ok.

There is work we can do internally.  You can forgive someone and that is all inner work.  You feel the benefit and the other person doesn’t even know it happened.   Yet having a discussion with them.  Speaking your peace, getting and giving listening are powerful acts when responding to harm.

I am thankful I get to facilitate and share in these experiences.  Next time you feel conflict, trying seeing that person in context of their relationships.  Think about the importance of your own.

Are you out to help others? It takes leaving negativity behind, which isn’t easy.

Have you heard the phrases “she’s out to get you?”  It means someone wants to do you harm, make you look bad.

Do we have the counter phrase going around “she’s out to help you?”.

I think that offenders behave harmfully to others, because of a past harm.  Right or wrong, they act out of a justification.  Some offenders just don’t think ahead or understand how they harmed someone.

What happens along the path to being punished for harmful behavior . . . you see that people are “out to get you”.  It is no longer about examining yourself, it’s about blaming others.

I’ve heard people sure, that the cops are targeting them, the establishment and that being pulled over for drinking and driving was some sort of retributive act, a retaliation.  The next statement has to do with negative for law enforcement or the legal system.  One bold person wanted our agency to pay for his “driving without a license ticket”.  The fact that these people drove drunk, something illegal in the first place gets lost in the mix.

Helping people who are mad at you isn’t easy.  Helping people who see the “system” as a big mean bully . . . not easy.

I’m a “glutton for punishment” I guess.  I consistently try to transform people away from negativity and into a positive experience.

It might be a Circle member, rolling his eyes as Iam explaining the process.  I interpret his body language as “this lady is cu-KOO!”  I have to leave that, keep going.  Sure enough later in the Circle, fully engaged, leaning in and speaking from the heart.

The downside is easy, looking at negativity in people makes us feel better about ourselves.  At least I am guilty of that.  A cop, probation officer and I were chatting before a meeting.  I said I wasn’t feeling very “restorative”, we laughed at the thought of “cynical justice” in place of “restorative justice”.

I’ve been in a down cycle lately.  I called it a post-didn’t get the-grant-depression.  I was questioning all the stress of being an executive director.  Both daughter and boyfriend were shocked at my confessions of wanting a less consuming work enviornment.

So let me admit it in this post.  Restorative Justice is not always easy.  Practicing loving-kindness in the face of harm, you have to consistently be self-aware.  Ignoring negativity and focusing on the positive, well it can get to be old.

But here’s the bottom line, as I take a sip of coffee and read my mug: 

“Do what you like, like what you do”.

I’m “out to help others”.  Will you join me and do the same?

A handful of school resources, addressing harm in schools, restoratively.

Using Restorative Justice or Restorative Practices in schools is a great way to address and prevent harm.  There are many great programs and initiatives supporting our students.  For today’s post, I’m gathering a few of the ones I’m aware of and the ones that I’ve found support or supply a lot of crossover with Restorative Justice.

I get the School Climate Matters Newsletter, and this month’s edition was full of good information.  They also produce the School Climate Blog.  These two items, the newsletter and blog are from the Center for Social and Emotional Learning.

If you haven’t been to the IIRP site SaferSanerSchools – it is worth reviewing.  Wisconsin will be bringing Ted Wachtel, the founder of IIRP to the state for the Heart of the Matter Conference.  Last year I attended this conference as an exhibitor and may do that again.

The Central Michigan Restorative Justice Initiative has been working in area schools and has documented the changes their program has produced.  They have some notecards for sale that are from student art work, and they are only $10 for 10.

My friend Matt, does a blog on Restorative Practices in Schools, Life Skoolz.  Matt and I are twitter – peeps as well.  He initiated a talk with me, and that was really cool.  We exchanged our stories for getting into this work.  Matt is a wilderness educator and when you are out in nature, you can’t send a kid to the principal’s office.  So restorative practices really made sense to him.

There are many great resources for schools.  I read that each school is trying to do 14 different prevention initiatives at once!  Between getting the sugar out of the lunchroom vending machines to prevent obesity and the red ribbon “war on drugs”, there are initiatives pulling our staff in every direction.  I think “character counts” and “citizenship” are great places for school efforts.  I think Restorative Justice really works to build up empathy, which in turn helps students help each other.

Someone shared with me a banner above a courtroom.  Two angels held a banner that said ‘Prevent the Wrong”.

Linking to a great blog, Zen Habits

I was drifting around the internet searching out successful bloggers.  I ran into Zen Habits, featured on a list.  Only a few minutes on the site and I joined the 100,000 others that are subscribed to this blog.

As I read the post The World Needs You to Do What You Love,  I thought about how to do a post on my blog about how loving my job, and being passionate about Restorative Justice, fuels good things.  I decided to offer my take on how Restorative Justice, helps relevant to the 7 items Johnathan Mead, lays out in the World Needs You post.

Mead’s list of 7 things.

  1. Find your passion. 
  2. Find your strengths.
  3. Find your value.  
  4. Make the commitment.
  5. Be willing to let go.
  6. What will you give up?
  7. Will you say Yes to yourself?

Here how Restorative Justice, specifically speaks to doing what your love.

  1. Find your passion.  Are you interested in repairing harm, building community or helping people heal.  Restorative Justice allows you to express a passion that can be pro-active or reactive.  There are many ways to do restorative justice, facilitating a circle is different than facilitating a conference.  Find the piece that speaks to your heart.
  2. Find your strengths. Maybe your strength is in vicitm empathy or maybe it’s in helping offenders with a blind-spot.  Is your strength in preparing to conference parties.  Your strength is going to be where you feel most natural.  Doing Restorative Justice means lots of areas for skills, you work harder on the ones that don’t come naturally.  Apply your strengths to restorative justice.  One of my strengths, I think, is being accepting of others.  I use that in listening, and that’s important in restorative justice.
  3. Find your value.   Do you understand how you are contributing to the great good, by volunteering or working in Restorative Justice.  Have you connected with why you are doing Circles in your classroom.  This is the value in the work.  The value you bring to your community might be understanding.  The value might be reducing crime.  The value could be healing vicitms.  Find the value, YOU best contribute, by doing restorative justice.
  4. Make the commitment. Decide if it’s just a year that you will try something.  Keep the committment.  I have a volunteer that gives me two events a month.  I love that she has found her niche’ with SCVRJP, and keeps a committment to helping the program out.  You could commit to learning everything you can about Circles, Restorative Justice Theory or history.
  5. Be willing to let go. If you are going to live with passion, you live taking risks.  Passionate people can get tunnel vision if we aren’t careful.  Passion runs hot, and sometimes you have to realize you don’t know everything before you can learn something new.  Be ready to let go of old, as you learn.  Restorative Justice does not leave the practitioner unchanged.
  6. What will you give up?  Restorative Justice takes time.  Restorative Justice means running in a little smaller circle (that’s my experience).  You may have to give up old methods, going with the formal system.  Decide your boundaries and prepare to let something go – to make room for the growth that will result in doing more restorative justice.
  7. Will you say Yes to yourself?  Restorative Justice changes lives.  It changes you when you are faced with helping people be non-judgemental.  When you are holding empathy for another person, you release your own “stuff” to be fully present.  You will learn more about who you are.  You will find your soft spots and you will need to say ‘yes’ to learning.  Saying Yes to growth, is saying Yes to yourself.

Sometimes you will mess up.  I’ve messed up.  And the best I can do it to look at my ‘mess-up’ and try to be restorative with it.  That means for me to try and repair the harm.  To be accountable and understand another persons point of view.  Find where I had a choice, make steps to make amends and then take action to change.  I’m willing to do that.

If you left a comment here on Friday.  I heard you.  Thank you.

September 11 reminder and see 2 minutes of restorative action.

I follow Tony Robbins on Twitter.

This morning he posted a link to a two minute video.   The taping occured on September 11, Tony’s training went on to address underlying harms and different points of view.

The video is powerful, and I’m really glad to have the time to be able to watch the entire thing.

I really recommend you take two minutes and watch this.  It’s restorative justice in action.  It closes with a strong statement and demonstration on interconnectedness.

Learning how to be a blogger, an executive director and a community member.

Life is about balance, learning and growing along the way, continuously making improvements as a person.

I need to share a few things today.

I removed a post where I offered my views and opinions on drug court.  I removed it because there is more to the story.  I did not mean to diminish, insult, offend or hurt anyone’s feelings.  In that post or any other.

Local drug courts have worked with Kris Miner and with SCVRJP.  They/we are partners in helping change lives.  Drug court participants in SCVRJP have been helpful, accountable and many return to drug court with positive feedback about Restorative Justice experiences.  There is really more than just one probation officer telling a client to do something, the drug court team (the DA, public defender, counselor, etc) are ALL supporting the defendent.

The goal of this blog is to educate YOU the reader.  To entertain you and offer thought provoking material for you to consider.  My venue, my topic is restorative justice and circles.  At the same time, it’s a blog, and blogging isn’t like investigative reporting where you leave author’s opinion out of it.  You get the perceptions, thoughts and view of the blogger.  People have choices about on-line time, and blogs are where you make a choice to spend your time.

I do this for you, the reader.  I assume you have a curiosity about restorative justice, maybe a passion about circles.  Maybe you think Kris Miner is fun to watch and you are reading to know more about me, about being a non-profit leader or a single mom.

I want you to know a little more about how this works.  Permission & Disclosure.

When I hear a good story, or a “bloggable” item, I ask permission.  For example, ‘boyfriend’, he’s given me permission to talk about him.  He’s declined a need to read the posts before they go out.  It facilitates some discussion for us and it makes it fun.  I also catch people at the end of a session or experience and ask permission to share it, from my perpective.  I disclose that I ‘tell the story’ about it in my blog.  Indicating that my perspective of it.  Most people quickly say yes, understanding that I won’t be saying their name in the post.

The contents of this blog belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of St. Croix Valley Restorative Justice Program.

As the Executive Director of SCVRJP, we include a link to this blog from the SCVRJP website.  I had changed the format of the blog recently and missed getting the above disclosure back on the blog page.  A blog is a way for people to get a little more.  The SCVRJP website has content on SCVRJP programs, board members, volunteering.  The link out to the blog is a resource for people who want a little more of a relationship with Kris Miner, who is the executive director.  I make every attempt to be restorative as possible, and I would not want anything I do to harm my employer, the final reason I’ve removed the post regarding drug court.

Thank you for honoring me, with your time reading.  May we all grow as restoratively as possible.

Peace – Kris

Honesty, great as a circle value . . . not so sure I like it from my boyfriend.

Boyfriend is brutally honest.  He doesn’t always have the filter regarding what he says hurting someone’s feelings.  I’ve decided to date him, knowing he is like this.  It’s take the good with the bad for me.  I’ve just decided to start telling him where he should lie to me.

For example, my cooking.  We stopped in a Pie Shop.  As immature as this sounds, I told him I didn’t want him to get banana cream pie, because he might like it better than mine.  I have very few hobbies outside of work and making pies is one of them.  If I am going to air his shortcomings in my blog, I better fess up to mine.  It was silly to ask him not to get a particular piece of pie, because it might outshine what I make.

He got the Banana Cream pie.  He told me I might have to “keep practicing” mine.  I wanted to smash that pie right in his face.  At least he half-heartedly mumbled this, so I pretend not to get it.  He’s not getting a banana cream pie from me for a long, long time.

Then there is a photo.  I said “want to see a horrible picture of me?”.  He says yes, I pull it up on the computer.  He says “yeah, that’s pretty bad, you look like a hyena or something”.  I didn’t want him to agree!  Maybe a little white lie telling me it’s not that bad.

I showed someone else, she said “looks like you were happy”, she avoided telling me a lie, like saying I looked good.   She offered an observation.

So Restorative Justice is all about relationships, and I’m all about Restorative Justice, therefore, I want to have quality relationships myself.

Are relationships easy for you?  Because I find that I struggle.  That’s honest.  Relationships are hard work.  Gosh . . . forgiving and loving and being nice when that person has bad breath. 

I talked to boyfriend about this honesty thing.  He said “well you don’t want me to lie do you?” 

I said “yes, I do”.  We laughed but I think I meant it.

Boyfriend, tell me a white lie every now and then.  Keep to yourself the things that might prick my heart.  Don’t burst a bubble, just to be honest.

So I’m old enough and wise enough to know this:  He isn’t going to change, and to put my happiness on his plate of responsibility is foolish.  My happiness is mine to worry about.  (now I like it if he thinks of it, but it isn’t his first job).

So the magic of gratitude, the power of appreciation.  Finding the good in his honesty.  He’s so honest I can trust what he says.  If it comes out of his mouth he thinks it and he believes it.  These pieces of his character over shadow his flaws at not knowing when to give out a little white lie.

He believes in SCVRJP.  He says good things about the organization I direct.  He sees the value in Restorative Justice.  So what if he thinks I look goofy in this picture . . . honestly, I do.

Kris Miner, speaking at Rotary
Kris Miner, speaking at Rotary