You plant a seed, you tend to the seedling, you nuture the plant, you get the fruit.

Wow, am I ever engergized by the simplist of things!  The places that make me feel like I belong, and I am part of a community.

I logged on to Circlespace blog, and found YEAH after months I FINALLY have a new “busiest day”.  A busiest day is a record that the good folks here at WordPress have built in.  It means the number of page views in 24 hours.  I have been waiting to break 243 since sometime in November.  On Thursday I hit 268 and now a new date appears on my stat “Busiest Day”.

This makes me particularly happy because ‘Competition’ is one of my strenghts.  A StrengthsFinder 2.0 result for me.  I love StrenghtsFinder!  UWRF has been using StrenghtsFinder, and its become part of everyday conversation to speak about strenghts.  I recently purchased books for my newest employee and intern.  My plan, for the new team, is for us to understand each others strenghts.  The book also gives you tips for working with others who have a particular strength.  That’s the plug for strenghts finder, but the point is that I got a bite of fruit, by getting a new busiest day.

You plant a seed, you tend to the seedling, you nuture the plant, you get the fruit. – Kris Miner

Its all about relationships!  The relationship between me, and my blog was feeling strained.  I’ve been really busy and haven’t been writing as consistently.

Just yesterday a blog benefit.  A  researcher from Japan found me via this blog.  A visit to the US to help Japanese researchers implement Restorative Jusitce in Japanese society.  Very cool, I hope it works to meet.  I found that a fruit of the blog.

Excited about the ‘busiest’ day, and I check the comments section.  I find that another blog: The World of Blogs, has made a summary of what other bloggers are saying about blogging.  They linked to a blog post of mine from June 2009, I’m Narcissistic, I’m a Blogger.  I went back and read that blog.

It was interesting to look back to June 2009 and have a book mark about who I was at that moment in time.  I had forgotten that time just wandering around the internet makes me very happy.  I had also forgotten some of the passion I held for blogging, and I express it in that particular post.  It occurs to me, as this other blog has featured me, I’m more ‘real’ as a blogger.

It also struck me that, something I wrote in June, is now in a February 26, 2010 blog.  It makes blogging this ‘bigger’ piece of who I am.  It gives even deeper meaning to the who and why I blog.  This nutures my sense of belonging, and I think its very important to tend to our own belonging.

I am preparing for a retreat, and in reading over the materials, the renewal of our selves and the recall of our committments is mentioned.  I immediatly grabbed a blank journal to start around this.  My committments are to life, generosity and spirituality.  I saw this alive in the post from last June.  I let everyone know I was narcissistic, way to live life, outloud!  I’m generous in my lesssons of life, by sharing and writing about them.

Today, I really got to see the fruit of my work, and I needed it.  Needed a little refreshing.  Our relationships, our connects are the meaning of life. 

Where’s your fruit?  Regardless of who we are we plant seeds.  Look a loved one in the eyes, smile at the bank teller.  Take a moment to appreciate your fruit, plant a seed or tend a seedling.

Helping victims, done well, is not easy. It requires your best. (part 1)

I felt a strong connection as we talked.  The information I was sharing seemed to land well.  The victim shared openly, and I knew we had built trust.  The flow was good, I appreciate a person who when we talk there is a good balance of each voice in the meeting.

Part of what I was sharing was the questions we use in restorative justice.

  • what did you think when you realized what happened?
  • what impact has this had on you and others?
  • what has been the hardest thing?
  • what do you think needs to happen to make things right?

I was called to this meeting to help a victim in my community.  The incident and court process is happening in another location, the request was support for a victim impact statement and completion of court paperwork.

I love helping vicitms with storytelling, and writing or presenting a victim impact statement for court is both similar and different than storytelling for restorative justice.  I think the courts allow room for the victim impact statement, a well intended way to give victims a voice.  As far as I know, these statements occur when an offender is sentanced.  As far as I know there is usually a predicted outcome of the sentancing, or at least a prescribed range of what can and would be part of a sentance.

My motivation for helping victims with court room impact statements is to support their healing.  So often the story is the crime, and that’s it.  People say “this hurt me”.  I like to go on, “this hurt me”, “this is how”, “this is how it changed me”.

When working with victims, and supporting then in, as Paul Harvey used to say “the rest of the story”, you need to hear THE STORY.  That means what happened.  Crime is ugly.  Crime is violent.  Listening and looking at ugly and violent is not easy.

I listened to the victims story.  We talked about the hardest part.  Time and time again, the court process is not about the “hardest part”.  The hardest part is often a very individual thing.  The hardest part is the haunt, that comes with the crime.  The ghost of the harm that has lingered.

I processed with this vicitm, the hardest part.  We came up with a new thought to have, when facing the hardest part.  Instead of the negative subconcious thoughts, we constructive a positive affirming statement to purposefully think when the ‘hardest part’ trigger is felt.

I felt really good about the meeting.  The tears the victim shed, were in healing.  Some victims need longer in anger, barganing, this victim was looking for and seeking some resolution, some repair.  I drove about 8 blocks from the meeting and for no apparent reason started to choke up.

The vision of the victims crime were images in my head.  The deep pain this person felt was metabolizing thru me, I witnessed a hurting soul, it hurt.  I immediately went to my comfort food, justified I could have my favorite hot beef sandwich with fries.  Gravy on the fries thank you very much.

image from:

Getting feedback is awesome, we should give it more often, directly.

One of the Circle activities I use, is to move into the taking action stage, by taking plates out of the Circle Center.

At the beginning of Circle, we write a relationship value on paper plates, we place these on the floor in front of us.  We make a committment to honor these values in Circle.  If they are good values for our relationships outside of Circle, they are good values for our relationships in Circle.

We do a give and get activity.  One person starts by picking a plate and giving it to someone else in Circle.  An explanation of how the value was demonstrated and why it was given is part of the activity.  Once you get a plate its your turn to give one.

Yesterday I got two plates:  LOVE and INTEGRITY.  I also got a phone call I was ‘reported’ to a statewide association.  Getting the plates and getting the phone call, very different types of feedback, but I am going to accept them both as awesome.  Let me try to explain that:

See the plates were direct and to my face, I can really do something with that.  The phone call came as a professional courtesy and in a few days I’ll know more about that.  For now, I know someone has feedback about me, they just gave it to someone else to give to me.  I am assuming that was the intention, but I don’t know.

The plates I was given really touched me.  A professional colleauge gave me ‘LOVE’ and expressed how my love for the process of Circle, and being a self-proclaimed Circle Freak, really made things happen.  I was given INTEGRITY by a parent, in Circle because of a child’s harmful behavior.  The feedback was positive, immediate and it had an impact on me, that reinforced my behavior, attitude and passion for how I do this restorative work.

The phone call, caused me to be defensive.  I was hurt to get the call, and realized the messenger was not the issue.  I took a deep breath, sighed and offered there is more to the story.  The caller and I did not have time to get into the issue.  I was impacted by the call, I was hurt to know someone had tried to launch a complaint, or concern without me.  I started to mull over what the content of the concern might be.  I know I’m not perfect, and the process is not.

How I handle my feedback is under my control.  I am going to take whatever concerns are presented to me, be it third party and do better.  Just as I am going to take the feedback that I demonstrate LOVE and INTEGRITY and do more.

These experiences have me offering positive, reinforcing feedback and reminding me when I have a complaint or concern to address it directly.

Assigning blame and assigning innocence, labeling people not the behaviors, prevents both sides from learning.

After 29 years as a law enforcement officer, my friend said he saw 1 out of 1,000 assualts that were only caused by one person.

He was explaining that as a society, we assign blame, and we assign innocence.  I see this, as victim and offender are labeled.  We assign particular services, particular responses based on the label.

I prescribe to the philosophy that people act ‘harmfully’ because they feel ‘wronged’.  They are working to restore their own violated sense of justice.  (Read Preventing Violence by James Gilligan or Dreams from the Monster Factory, Sunny Schwartz).  See conflict is inevitable, violence is not!

What we, as parents, teachers, restorative practioners need to do, it to teach young people how to deal with feelings that they are wronged.  Hitting, punching, choking, fighting, swearing, insulting are not good choices.  How can we respond to constructively prevent future harm, and repair the wrong that happened?

In my opinion, it is to erase those labels as much as possible, victims need protected, offenders need rehabilitated, yet behavior doesn’t happen in isolation, especially the behavior around physical violence.  Please don’t think I am accepting violence, or thinking we should not respond to it, my point is that we should take the situation under consideration in the entire context of “what happened”.

Three situations came to my attention, the “Victim” called the police to report their “Offender”.  The person who placed the call, was then arrested!  Imagine a chain – link to link.  If we only focus on one link, we miss the bigger picture.

I think when it comes to lower end types of violence, (not severe crime/sexual assualts) like conflicts at school, some, NOT all victims hold a piece of culpibility for the situation.  When that happens people carry that around for a long time.

Expressed in Circle:  Years earlier, during hockey practice he lipped off to an upper classman.  The upper classman reacted violently, aggressively.  He was punished by the coach.  The younger person never acknowleged he was deserving of the strike, based on what he had said.  The upper classman accepted his time out, and didn’t say anything.  The storyteller, really carried that guilt.

Another young person in Circle, said the things he did wrong, that he didn’t get caught for, bothered him more, made him feel worse about himself.

Another college age person felt terribly because 10 years earlier, when he was bullied in gym, he fought back, got in trouble, and amends between he and the classmate never happened.  The classmate later died in a car crash.  He is carrying unresolved issues, for not resolving the conflict.

When we lock people into victim roles, we don’t give them the space to realize what they could have done differently.  I really hate the “blame the victim” so I want to clarify the difference.  When we don’t explore “what happened” we are leaving out the story.  In the story you realize what led up to the harmful act.  Maybe just maybe there was a piece of hurtful behavior that could be used as a learning/teaching moment.

I see this when the offender of a racial slur, becomes the victim of violence.  The victim of the statment becomes the offender of the violence.  This is usually when I get called in, because the lines are blurred.  The offending BEHAVIOR was wrong.  And usually, something happened before the racial insult was tossed out.

Interactions just don’t happen in isolation.  Yet we prescribe isolation as a remedy.  I wish we could just teach people to resolve conflict to restore connections, while promoting empathy and self-worth, for everyone involved.  We’d all get over things quicker, we’d get to move ahead without carrying around any baggage.

Turns out, I named my daughter after a consequential stranger!

I posted about Consequential Strangers, after hearing a story on NPR.  The book is great, and the concept has been very applicable to Restorative Justice.  Explaining the social convoy, and concept really draws out awesome stories.  I also made my list of 100 important people, you might want to consider giving that a try.  The person I named my daughter after, wasn’t even on that list, but all the same, he’s a consequential stranger.

I was getting ready for day two of a Circle training, and I knew that I wanted to present the importance of ALL relationships, and share the “people really matter’ consequential stranger concept.  I was mulling over this notion, answering emails and a coworker (yes I now have a coworker) asked how I named my daughter.  In total Kris Miner ADD fashion, I said “Hey that’s it, thats the story for Circle today, thanks, perfect!”  It could have been her cold medicine, it could have been me, she looked slightly confused.  I briefly explained my story.  I told the whole thing later in Circle to introduce consequential strangers.  I’ll blog the story here, a few more details than the Circle.

I got pregnant in college, a complete, unexpected shock.  I even called the 1-800 number on the pregnancy test, to let them know they were distributing a faulty product.  I had a positive test and there was no way I could be pregnant.  When the person on the phone asked if I had unprotected sex, I shot back “what’s that got to do with it”. 

Nearly 9 months later, it was the end of the semester and I was at a geography test.  Somehow I locked my keys in my car.  My apartment keys in the car, the spare set of car keys at the apartment.  I barely knew Wylie.  He was a cool guy on campus.  He was a cowboy with a great butt!  We went on one date, and shortly after I found out I was pregnant.  He was a distant friend of a friend.  Somehow after class he found out I locked my keys in my car.

He helped me out, at his own expense.  On the way to my apartment he got pulled over, his tabs were expired.  I think he mentioned that was why he wasn’t driving much.  I felt so bad.  He did his best to play down he now had a fine.  He popped off a screen, crawled down into my basement apartment.  Something at 8.5 months pregnant I would not have been able to do.

It occurred to me to remove the W, and add the K, to create Kylie.  Wylie was so original, in person and name.  I thought I created a new name.  Because of Kris, the “K” thing seemed cute, I was 23 years old.  Turns out Kylie was not the original creation I thought.

How she was named was always known to her.  When friends ask, I’ve over heard her tell a brief version of the story.

When I told the story in Circle, I shared that I don’t remember Wylie’s last name.  He doesn’t know he has a kid named after him.  I have no idea what he did with his life after college.  Yet the time he spent helping out a pregnant classmate, that act of kindness lives on and on.  People who don’t seem to matter, but really do.  Consequential Strangers.

Self-Esteem 101. Lesson 1. “Accept a compliment”. Learning never ends.

I’ve given the post title in 4 sentances, none over three words.  I am sure this is not the recommended format for blog titles.  Blogging gives me a chance to break a few rules, and well . . . I will always be a wildflower.  Just purchased a great piece of folk art with that phrase stitched in felt.

The first sentance:  Self-esteem 101.  Like a first college class in life.  If you miss 101, you seldom understand 110, or 305.  This is where is starts.  How can you get anywhere in life without it?  Eventually you learn this is not anyone elses responsibility to regard you as esteemed.  Its your job to carry yourself in a many of respect and responsibility for yourself and others.  If someone else is going to treat you poorly, then leave, get out of their path (until they discover there own esteem enough to treat others better).

Lesson 1.  Accepting a compliment is at the beginning.  The very, very beginning.  Even a simple compliment, “I like your sweater”, gets brushed off  with “this old thing”, geez you aren’t projecting positive, your probably a little annoying.  I got into my “who am I” at 30 stage, my self-help reading from growing up female in a male-dominated world.  Lesson 1, accept a compliment.

What does that mean to accept a compliment?  Is saying “thank you” enough.  Do you have a conversation about it?  Do you add in, “glad you noticed, I try really hard”.  To accept it, would be to acknowledge it, not reject it off, hit is away like a fly, or pass it off like a hot potato. 

So briefly, to the point, the title here, four strong sentance.  Things I know.  I really know.  Yet, this conversation, just yesterday, it shows sometimes we will even go to great lengths to not accept, but almost reject a compliment:

Colleague/friend:  “You write well.”

Me:  “I can’t sing.”

I launch into a messy explanation about how I’m tone deaf.  In college I sat out karoke, until I figured out to shut off the mike, and lip sinc. (had to get in on the fun of it).  Can-NOT carry a tune or sing, really wish I could sing.  Colleague, while paging through my first published article  in the American Humane Association Abstract.  Still confused, he says, “this is good work and I can’t sing either.”  He says it in a way I realize I sound really stupid.

Now I try to explain that I was complimented by another writer, and the next day, was thinking how I couldn’t sing and realized maybe I could write.  What if I could write . . . as good as my singing is bad!?  Like somehow what I didn’t get in one department would be compensated in another.  My singing is SO bad, a friend made fun of me after church!  She nudged her Dad, “listen to Kris, she’s so off key”.  Twenty years of bad singing, and just starting to write, that would mean that my writing could be really, really good.  How do I get to be a good writer . . .

He stopped me, and said “Just accept the compliment”.  I said “thanks”. 

As good friends do, they take your ‘crazy’ and make it ‘normal’.  In the middle of a conversation with someone else, as I was getting some positive feedback.  He jumped in “yeah, but she can’t sing.”

Post 400, a day in the life of a restorative justice non-profit leader.

This is post 400, and as a play on numbers, I am going to tell you about my day on 2-2 (cause 2+2=4)  and at the request of a new blog Wisconsin 3rd Sector, they want to hear about my day.  So here is 2-2-2010, a day in the life of a non-profit leader.

8:30 am – Sitting in on Pierce County Drug Court, my first observation of the process.  I am thankful that I do restorative justice, where we face each other, and everyone gets to contribute.  We clap for the person with 700+ days of sobriety.  We clap for the person with 13 days of sobriety.

9:00 am – Propose ideas for collaboration to the Drug Court team.  We discuss a Circle of Support model, on-going discussions.  We also discuss a specific Circle for a specific person.  The next step is to present a budget to the Drug Court Team.  Team meeting is in the court room, I leave and cross paths with a man shackled and in an orange jumpsuit, escorted by a Deputy.  I wonder if he will be accepted to drug court.

10:00 am – pick up voice mails at the office, questions regarding sessions.  lunch meeting cancels (thank goodness need the time)

11:00 am – Update Facebook by adding a link to an article by my favorite blogger, Penelope Trunk, Being an Expert takes Time not Talent.

11:15 am – Two new volunteers have emailed applications.  Print applications, remind myself to follow up.

11:20 am – My class at UWRF was cancelled this semester, low enrollment, paperwork was not completed to stop payroll, iron this out, fax in a form.

11:25 am – more emails, flight confirmation to a training in March, feedback from assistant principal that parents appreciate restorative justice.

11:45 am – Type out a 500 word blog post, reflective learning experience, forward to the person referenced, so she can preview/approve.

12 Noon – Work through the mornings emails.  Gmail shows I dealt with 52 emails on 2-2-10

12:30 pm – Meet with potential board member, explain responsibilities and goals for SCVRJP.

1:00 pm – Service learning volunteer arrives, realize it’s 1 pm.   I haven’t had lunch, yet.  Run to the coffee shop, pick up lunch for both of us.  Quickly find an assignment the volunteer can do.

1:15 pm – Another volunteer walks in – this volunteer doesn’t have email so communication so I sent a calendar via US Mail, he is in to sign up.  On the way out, he tells the service learning volunteer, I am the best to learn from.  I am humbled by this.  My service learning student volunteer was in my class last semester, he whole heartedly agrees about my skills.  Life is good.

1:30 pm – Wolf down my lunch while reading emails.   Plan for the Circle that will be in an correctional facility.

1:45 pm – help service learning student with more tasks, preparing to send reminder letters to class participants.

2:15 pm – still getting a bill from a phone company I do not want to be with.  Wait on hold, try to correct the problem, try not to hate myself for trying to save on long-distance phone charges, because the switch messed up internet and this whole mess has caused me hours to undo.

3:00 pm – travel time to correctional facility.

3:45 – 4:30 pm – Prepare for talking circle, meet participants.  Get into the facility, have to be pulled out, given a wand scan, because I forgot to wear a prison-friendly bra.

5:00 pm – 7:00 pm – talking circle with guest speaker sharing her experience regarding her fathers murder.  Deeply touched by the grace one woman can hold.

7:00 pm – 7:45 – travel home, exhaused. Stop off at McDonalds, remind myselt,  next week figure out how to have supper on a Tuesday.

Teacher: “I didn’t know half those stories”!

The power of a restorative justice circle is amazing.  Simply amazing.

In a Safe Teen Driving Circle, students are facing each other, they contribute values to the center, they share who they thought of to pick their value.  Each voice is heard a few times before our storyteller.

The storyteller is moving, gripping, and often makes us cry.

I look around at the people in Circle with me.  I see a sweatshirt pulled up under both eyes, as a place to catch tears.  I see concerned faces, I see lowered eyes.  The silence of only one person speaking, and the emotional weight in the room is serious.

The Circle participants are given a chance after hearing the story, to ‘reflect’, ‘respond’, ‘react’ to the story.  The space created by the focus on values, and the story makes our circle strong.  So strong students share their own pain.  A family member in a near fatal crash, the death of a parent, the car crash that killed three peers.  Those that don’t have a story, tear up when classmates are tearfully sharing.  Some choke up at the mere mention of how the story made them think about losing a sibling, or inflicting that kind of pain on a family member.  Young people now understand why Mom, is concerned.  The bond in the Circle is strong.

The Circle members are now asked for a public committment.  Every single student offers a specific behavior they will do or not do.  Wear my seatbelt, not drink and drive, not text, follow speed limits.  The specific countermeasures to traffic deaths of our young people are voiced again and again.

The Circle members offer feedback on the Circle itself.  One young man simply stated:  The Circle was the BEST thing EVER.

We close the Circle with a reading, and encouragement to speak to your loved ones, noting that a change of behavior by a change of heart means we “feel” it.  The students leave class quietly, thanking the storyteller as they file past.  The storyteller offers hugs and support to the young people that shared deeply with the Circle.

The teacher, a very connected to her students teacher, approaches me, amazed “I didn’t know half those stories”.  I smile.  Its the power of the Circle.  How lucky we are to know the stories now. 

The storyteller and I read over the evaluations, the young people write out so much.  They express such thanks, gratitude and reinforce that the experience really changed their perspectives.  We have 97% of those that participate saying the speaker made a “great deal” of impact.  Student that made a public committment 98%, the public committment came from the Allstate Foundation research that youth are more likely to do a behavior they tell their peers they will do (vs what they tell parents).

This program saves lives, I don’t doubt it for a minute.  The relationships we create between students, and the value we show students regarding their relationships to family, is worth every second of effort we put into it.

I’ve got to get this book written.

Another social networking connection provides insight, growth and a proud Mom moment.

We all just want to make our parents proud and not embarrass our kids.  I believe that is at the heart of all our relationships.  Restorative Justice is about relationships, and I’ve posted a few times here about the comparisons of social media, to restorative justice, and the impact on these relationships.  Today I have 16 posts under Social Media.   Another benefit today, in a full-circle experience way!

I got to be interviewed today, by a social media connection.  Melinda  Blau, author of Consequential Strangers contacted me after I did a post on her book.  I really embraced the new concept, and found powerful examples after asking about CS’s in a Circle.  When she let me know via Twitter, she mentioned me in her blog, the Twitter link took me there.   (I left to go grab a link) and Oh geez in my true ADD form, I just found out she blogs for Psychology Today!  Now I feel even better about our conversation.

So the insight, growth and proud Mom moment! 

Melinda and I connected right away!  We were chatting away so friendly, her voice reminded me of family back in Michigan, although she’s from Maine.  She complimented my writing, and confirmed she doesn’t offer that type of comment.  She was talking about my blog writing, which for me to be talking to someone about was really cool.  I’ve been adding ‘blogger’ onto my introductions but still feeling like it wasn’t quite “legit”.  Telling my blogging story and use of social media today, allowed me to hear out loud how this was all working for me.  I must say, “pretty cool”. 

I clarified how “putting myself out there” really puts who I am ahead of meeting me in person.  I also shared how high school friends on Facebook, have shared thoughts on my work now.  I network about Restorative Justice on Facebook, like mad.  Melinda really drew things out as we discussed this.  Who would have thought I would be talking about having a Mom who died of cancer or being adopted, today in an interview on social media!  Those two things are in my top few wounds.  I’ve said before, healing happens closest to the wound.  And making the link from who I was then, and who I am now, felt healthy.  To have what I put out there be reinforced, lends to me being more genuine, and Melinda and I talked about the importance to that.  I mentioned my value of congruence, which is when my personal and professional values stay aligned.  She agreed.

In talking about my blog, facebook, and twitter, I shared that my daughter was the only kid in her class who got to raise her hand when the teacher asked if parents were on Twitter.  A friend of Kylie’s said “your Mom would be”.  It turns out Kylie was in the office, doing some work for me for gas money.  I ended up putting her on the phone with Melinda.

The computer guy/friend was here, a friends daughter who helps me out in the office was here.  We were all impressed with my kid.  She shared that as odd as it is, her only privacy from me is her Facebook.  Long story, she won’t friend me, I “stalk” her.  She said out loud “my Mom and I are really close”.  I didn’t know or think she would say that.  I know I’m her Mom, but I must say it was pretty cool.

So the article is for the Psychotherapy Networker, and as I reflected on it later, I remembered something.  When I was a new in-home family therapist I used to LOVE that magazine!  Kylie was 3 when I had that job, and today at 18 she was interviewed for an article that is being written for it.  Wow, that’s full Circle!

Be a healthy practitioner, by practicing in front of others, and getting honest feedback.

Circle demonstration - UWRF

Today’s tip for being a healthy restorative justice practitioner from a recent experience.  I was gently given some feedback that my style was more ‘directive’ as compared to ‘welcoming’.  This has been a little hard for me to swallow and digest.  Writing gives me the opportunity to do that, and sharing this story in the blog, may very well help all of us.

Let me admit, I’ve been called a ‘maverick’, which is not always a compliment.  It’s a sign I’m not afraid to do what it takes to get things done.  But it can mean I ‘exclude’ others along the way to ‘get it done’.  I relate it to farm girl upbringing.  If it was hungry we fed it, broke we fixed, if it needed done you do it.  But like everyone else, I am not just ‘farm-girl’ I am many different things.  (thank goodness for that).

I am reading Let Your Life Speak by Parker Palmer, I came across his suggestion that we all have potholes, and that our goal should be to know them so well we avoid them, vs getting stuck or derailed by them.  I am grateful now that I was provided the feedback, it perhaps speaks to my ‘maverickness-as a potential pothole’.

A fellow practitioner asked me if I was nervous, maybe she said tense.  I can’t remember.  My response was “ohh no, not at all”.  But her question lingered with me.  I started to wonder about why she asked that.  I reflected on the Circle I kept in her prescense.  I wondered if I had gotten “canned” I use the same speech at the beginning, pull from my mental library of scripts, based on certain situations.  It burned in my brain, I needed to ask about it.

In true restorative-justice-practioner-compasionate-skills, she advised me of “no right or wrong, just different”.  She acknowledged the fact I teach in Circle and work with students.  Then she gently let me know, I was more directive than welcoming.  Honestly, GULP and ‘ouch’, yet, okay . . . its how I handle this that matters.

I trust this person.  I trust this feedback.  I want to employ concepts like “respect”, “inclusiveness”, “belonging” key terms to doing restorative justice.  Yet put those terms on a continuum with directive on the left and welcoming on the right, where are they closer?  (okay I’ve been staring at the computer screen for 30 seconds trying to answer my own question).

The answer:  BALANCE.

whew-whew!  Awareness is really the first step in anything isn’t it?  I know the concepts/values I want to ‘permeate’ my work.  You get further not by saying you are a value, but by living it.  I can continue to move ahead, mindful of this now.  I can embrace the feedback and be an even better circle-keeper.  Thus the title and recomendation:

practice, your restorative practice in front of others

Whose perfect?  Growing means nurturing from the rain, leaning towards the sun.  Find people who can offer you honest, supportive and genuine feedback.  Offer it to help others, if you do it like it was given to me, its sure to help.