Guest blogger on “Circles Matter”

Amy Vante Bintliff, author of Re-engaging Disconnected Youth: Transformative Learning Through Restorative and Social Justice Education provided me this guest blog post.  Click here and check out the website for Transformational Education.  Her guest post:

After training a group of educators on using Restorative Justice Talking Circles to establish connections with youth, a teacher approached and said, “You know, that’s all nice, but it’s just not me.  I discuss things in my own way.  I’m not a touchy feely guy.  What’s the difference between me just having discussion day and me talking this way?”

“It’s about equity,” I said.  “In your classes right now, who speaks the most?  Who raises her hand?  Who is left silent? Circle is about each member having an opportunity to speak, to be heard, to share his or her voice.”

Talking Circles, a process stemming from First Nation and American Indian communities in North America, and many other indigenous communities worldwide, involves communicating through turn taking.  Members of the Circle use a Talking Piece, a unique object traditionally found in nature, to take turns.  When a person has the Talking Piece, it’s their turn to speak.  When they don’t have the Talking Piece, it’s their turn to listen respectfully.  A set of agreed upon norms guide the Circle.  Traditionally, those norms involve honoring the sacred space, keeping things confidential, and showing respect.

A leader, called the Circle Keeper, facilitates the first question.  The Circle Keeper plans for the Circle by selecting a poem or reading to settle participants in, selecting questions for the day, and reviewing the group norms.  The Circle Keeper facilitates the process, but also participates as an equal.  In my classroom, both adults and youth serve as Circle Keepers.

I’ve worked with Circles for over ten years and have researched the process discovering that members of Circle feel more connectedness towards each other, can solve conflicts, and provide support for one another.  Though Circles serve a number of purposes, including conflict/resolution, Circles of healing, and decision-making Circles, the Circles I was training that day had one purpose—to facilitate feelings of connectedness and belonging.

Though the majority of training participants left that day excited to begin the practice, a few of the educators still felt that the old way of forming connections was best—raising a question and calling on students who appear excited to answer.  But I’ve found that the old way of discussing issues often leaves out the voices that need the most support—the youth who feel the most disengaged from their educational communities as a whole.  After explaining the idea of equity, I began to dig deeper among the participants who seemed the most resistant.

One of these teachers said, “You know, you talk about equity.  You’ve got to realize that it isn’t equitable to ask an adult to share information about themselves with students.  Some of us don’t like to share.”

I had anticipated this concern in advance, and prepared a set of laminated Circle question cards that were color coded—brown for narrow, blue for deep.  The narrow questions included simple beginning questions, such as, “What’s your favorite food?” or “What is an activity or hobby that you enjoy?”

After asking the teacher, “Do you think any adult in this building would have trouble sharing the answers to these narrow questions with their students?”  I was met with a look of panic.

“Well, no,” said the teacher.  “I guess not.  But the whole idea makes some of us uncomfortable.”

Aha!  It was then that I realized that there were some hidden fears among these veteran teachers—they were afraid to lose control, they were afraid to sit in the space as an equal with a student, they were afraid to not “look cool”, they were afraid to hand a process over to a group of young people, and they were afraid to create vulnerability. They believed in a type of classroom equity that kept them in control.

Letting go of the reign of control, sticking with the process even when Circles don’t go perfectly takes commitment.  But the benefits to youth far outweigh the risks that educators take.  In fact, once we appear more human to our students, there’s more buy in, there’s more trust, and you set the platform to be able to dig more deeply into educational content.

This week, I sat in Circle with a group of 8th graders.  We’d been sitting in Circle each week for four months now—when we began in October, some students were afraid to speak at all, some asked to leave the room on Circle days, some tried to undermine the group process by side chattering the first times.  But now, after only fourteen Circles together, when I asked these youth, “Should we do a narrow one today, or go deep?”  They all screamed, “Deep!”

“Let’s talk about our fears then.  What frightened you when you were little?  What frightens you now?  How do you overcome those fears?”

As we passed our Talking Piece, each young adult shared openly and beautifully.  I listened to stories of childhood fears—of spiders, monsters, and closets.  I then listened to stories of today’s fears—being called fat, losing a parent to cancer, moving into 9th grade, failing…

That time wasn’t about me in the least.  It wasn’t about my idea of classroom control.  It wasn’t about my fear of appearing human in their eyes.  It wasn’t about my desire to fit into their world…it was about them.  About their voices and the courageous ways that they overcome their fears every day.   And when my turn came, I felt cowardly making light of my own fears, so I shared some of my own too.

And we build connections like that. Each individual sharing an answer, knowing that they are being honored by being respectfully listened to.

When we let go of our need for control in a safe environment, whether we are parents, activists, community leaders, or educators, we learn to listen openly to the voices of our young people.  What I find there, within those Circle spaces, is that our youth need us to let go of some of our own ego and fears of losing control.  They need us to fade into the woodwork and listen, so that they can speak.

More on the meme, Restorative Justice and social media.

MemeMemes are contagious patterns of cultural information that are passed from mind to mind and that directly shape and generate key actions and mindsets of a social group. Memes include popular tunes, catch-phrases, clothing fashions, architectural styles, ways of doing things, and so on.

More on  meme, here.  I find social media fascinating, I loved the opportunity to start blogging as a way to distinguish myself in the field.  The opportunity and benefit of being involved in social media have help Restorative Justice in general, our non-profit and me professionally and personally.

As soon as I saw some of these different meme’s going around, I wanted to make one for Restorative Justice.  If a picture is worth a thousand words, than six photos is 6,000 words at once.  Like Restorative Justice, the UthinkIdo Meme, views things from different angles.

Another aspect I like of the “meme” and “restorative justice” is that I had to go figure out the word, MEME.  I saw it in a NPR link I my Facebook wall, thank goodness for Wiki and Google, I got a better grasp of what a MEME is.  I thought it really cool the word was is a book from 1976.  Like the term Restorative Justice, it has taken some time to become understood or relevant in culture.

I believe Restorative Justice is on the rise, see a blog post on megatrend thoughts. (I can’t believe I titled a post IDK, and I wonder why I’m not taken more seriously!)  It’s important to me to represent my self professionally, and I really want to be a leader in the field, by doing the best I can as a facilitator, advocate, practitioner, director, blogger.  To keep ahead of my work, I enrolled in a course.

I am taking a course through Eastern Mennonite University, with Howard Zehr.  At first I was resistant to the notion of tensions, and critical issues in Restorative Justice.  I have come to see that things can change over time, and the original intention is sometimes not what evolves.  I have come to admire this viewpoint, and this dedication to continue to keep a grasp on the key principles, values, process that make Restorative Justice.

I see how it get diluted.  It raises my blood pressure every time I see the term “Restorative Justice” near terms like Teen Court.  I’m on the fence about people who change their language to “restorative principles” when they are doing the same old same old, and add that in.  At least they have stopped calling the same old, same old, RJ.

The Restorative Justice Meme, was a chance to look at the different view points through the lens of humor.  By trying to over exaggerate – which is a form of humor.  To amplify what is true, and nobody really says you can be funny.  I hope by creating the RJ Meme, it actually creates a little more discussion and understanding of RJ.  It was difficult to pick the different angles, the different photos.  If you have further thoughts I’d like to hear them!

Thanks for reading!  I appreciate the opportunity to have a community right here on this blog!



Remembering what is important, science vs storytelling OR consilience.

I recently forgot what was important.  Values are important to me.  I take advisement from research (or as Capella would have it, I am a critical thinker).  I try to live my life in balance, in positive relationships.  I get lessons once in awhile.  The lesson today – science and storytelling.

Here is a post about a book Deep Brain Learning, where I learned the term Consilience.

Most nonprofit work and especially Restorative Justice depends on the social value created.  We know the fabric of community changes when we do things that promote the good of people.

Check out this great story on a celebration in Yellow Medicine County.  The story, explains the program beyond dollars and numbers.

In my reading for school, Integrating Mission and Strategy for Nonprofit Organizations, social value was defined as things that are: spiritual, moral, societal, aethetic, intellectual and enviornmental.  Nonprofits promote mission for the social value created.  The author adds that social value TRANSCENDS economic value.  Our mission statements are the fuel providing psychological energy (Phills, 2005).  You can’t measure that kind of energy and for each person it can change over time.  My relationships to those social values has gotten deeper with more and more Restorative Justice expereinces.  I have gotten to know, to really know how these things work.  Stats are great, the power of the story is even better.

So I know this.  In my head and in my heart.  There is science (outcomes, stats, concrete things) and there is story (values, feelings, knowing).   This knowing doesn’t prevent me from being overly attached to a number.  The number is just over 115,000.  That’s the number of site visits to my blog, Circlespace.  I have recently moved from a long web address that includes wordpress, to a nice short web address of

Right now, the site stats have not transfered.  Last I checked, only 232 site visits on the new site.  I am not taking this well.  I found myself urgently explaining to my web contractor how I want to be blogging for Time and Newsweek and 200,000 is so much better than 200.  I caught myself, because I felt anxiety as I was telling her this.  I never started this blog to be blogging for Time or Newsweek.  I started this blog to help people with Restorative Justice, especially Circles.  I recognized my anxiety as a drift from my priorities.

The wonderful calm, technology person, pointed out my content transfered.  I realized things could be worse.  All 607 posts are available at  We are working on the subscriptions moving and potentially the statistic rank.  My lesson, for me, the one I am sharing here, is to remember there are many influences.  We need to remember our original intentions, not to get caught up in a number.

Consilience – the merging of knowings.  Using research, practice and values, overlap those Circles, and in the middle is truth.

The truth is, I get to think outloud emotionally and intelectually with the blog.  One of my favorite bloggers, Penelope Trunk, pointed this out in a recent blog bootcamp.  The ranking being 1 million or 10 doesn’t matter, if the benefit is my sense of helping, my social value OR the social value for one person, then this blog has purpose.  The story of this blog, as I have experienced it, is that it helps.  The story of this blog, is that it gets shared. I’ve been told it does provide value.

I value social value.  I found myself getting an attachment to a numeric value.  Blogging is a great way to clarify your values, I just literally told everyone about my journey.  I took a trip, I tripped up what I know, I attached to something different a number vs a value.

I’m telling you, to help you remember consilience – the merging of your knowing.  Find your truth in the center of research, practice and values.


Restorative “thinking”, sticks and pairs, ideas from Kris Miner.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately and this post is to offer some insight to how I think.  I try to think restoratively – to BE more than just do Restorative Justice.  Maybe insight into my brain will be insight into yours.  We are cool like that as humans, we get to think about, how we think.

When I am making decisions or offering decisions to be made by others (for example my board).  I use a “pair and a spare”.  I got this from some dating advice book.  Date 3 guys at once, yeah right, so I moved it a way to think about decisions.  The “pair and a spare” helps because it forces grey.  Two paths, can mean right or wrong, black or white.  Pair and spare, oh the options.  We are happier when we think we have options.  With three choices, you are empowered after eliminating one.  You’ve made progress.  You can also look over why you immediately crossed off one of the choices and find what your real priority or decision making motivation is.  Try it, let me know.

“Stick” thinking.  Always wonder, what is at the other end of that stick?  Here is a great example of stick thinking – or seeing things on a continuum.  The blog, Why Your Passion for Work Could Ruin Your Career, offers we can be dualistic between harmonious and obsessive.  I recognized my obsessive; when I used to get upset, even angry at others for not engaging or embracing RJ at my same level (or even half) ok, full disclosure I can sometimes still be obsessive.  Right now I am feeling pretty good about Kris Miner.

I’m is the “Oasis” season of love.  Brain expert Daniel Amen calls it the Oasis Effect (from his book The Brain In Love).  Amen describes that we come out of the desert of being alone and longing to be in a relationship (since we are wired to be intimately connected to others) and being love releases hormones that actually increase our sense of trust, where we should be more cautious.  Amen describes an anxious state of euphoria (for finding a relationships that helps us feel more complete) that we fail to see trouble.  He writes about getting water from an oasis with dead animals around and failing to see the animals.  This book really helped me understand the brain and bio-chemistry of love. I know in the past I have been victim to the Oasis Effect, so now I am calling it a “season”, a phase.  Enjoying, with caution or knowledge that this flood of good feelings will eventually level out.

New love, leads to new awareness.  Here’s a line from my life, “Don’t put THAT in the blog”.  I guess I talk about the blog enough, that those new in my life have to set boundaries with me.  I also ask alot, “can I blog on that?”.  I get permission around comments or conversation I might be able to draw a blog post from.  I bet one of every 3 asks, eventually makes it to a blog post.  Right now I have 49 blog drafts started.  I start one when I capture a good link or idea.  If the tone of my post seems negative, I leave it started, come back later, time changes perspective.  I got a great suggestion once, to blog with a voice that could be heard in Circle (with the person in the Circle).  This was a great addition to the way I think, about blogging.

Being a blogger has and continues to help me.  As I posted here, new blogs are on the Restorative Justice landscape.  Just a year ago, Restorative Justice blog readers didn’t have as many choices.  With more options for readers, I’m thinking about my particular niche in the RJ blogging world.   I’ve grown into being a blogger and finding my niche as a practitioner offering insight, I also share my lifes intersection of personal and professional. This allows me freedom to share the way I think, in thinking it might help you.  Thinking on that . . . harmony or obsession?

Round-up of Restorative Justice, Restorative Practices & Restorative Measures blogs. -updated!

It seems to be a season of new blogs, I keep an eye on the social media scene, and appreciate the variety or resources available for our consumption, and engagement.   You can’t always depend on a Google search, some sites don’t have enough traffic (yet) to make the rankings.  This post is going to offer a summary for readers.

Blogging is an opportunity for authors to instantly be “published” on the internet.  Blogs offer both authors and readers different benefits.  Blogs seems to range from the sale of goods to the expression of the authors.  Lots and lots of organizations are adding a “blog” to websites.  Blogs offer the chance to sign-up, follow or pick up an RSS feed.  This means that as soon as a post is published, you get an email, or get the “feed” (what is published).  I thought offering a summary of choices and resources would be helpful.

This post is my perspective on your blog resources for learning more about Restorative Justice and Restorative interventions.  If I missed anyone please let me know!

Let’s start where you are now, Circlespace.  This blog is just starting year 3, the site has over 500 posts, and is updated anywhere from a few times to 15 a month.  As author, I write about examples, advice, support and provide insights into being a practitioner and non-profit director.

A great blog, I have mentioned here before is RJOB, from Prison Fellowship International.  From the website, the blog is described as:

The purpose of RJOB is to provide timely information about restorative justice news and developments, together with commentary on the use and expansion of restorative justice.

The name of the blog is RJOB, the acronym for Restorative Justice Online Blog. It is pronounced “Our Job” to remind us that it is up to us to develop, expand, evaluate and strengthen restorative justice theory and practice.

I appreciate that you can sign up for a monthly summary.  This blog will pick up and post some blogs from other bloggers, so it’s a good site to watch if you have to pick just one to follow.  The RJOB, blog, recently announced the announcement about the International Institute for Restorative Practices blog.

Newest to the blogging scene, is the IIRP blog, the site offers this about their blog: Pull up a chair and we’ll make some room for you in the circle. Here you’ll find news, commentary and discussion related to IIRP and the field of restorative practices as it is being applied in schools, the workplace, criminal justice, social work, colleges and communities.  

Our “Grandfather”, Howard Zehr blogs at Restorative Justice Blog.  This blog has been on the internet since 2009, and Howard seems to be updating about once a month, he provides deep and thoughtful blog posts, often with a resource linked.  There is always good feedback and conversation following Howard’s posts.

I just found, ReSolutionaries, the most recent post, was a great perspective on practitioners in Circle.  Right now the site has 8 posts, and I appreciate the approach they are sharing, being supportive of practitioners and providing resources.

Melanie Snyder is blogging about a variety of topics and is including more Restorative Justice.  She has a full-site of resources.

Dr Tom Cavanaugh blogs about Schools and Restorative Justice, he doesn’t post often, and provides resources.

Since June 2011, the Colorado practitioners are providing lots of resources here.

Ken is blogging for mediators and peace-makers, at Fairness Works.

Since 2008, Lorenn Walker has been providing, Restorative Justice and other public health approaches for healing.

You can Google Search and find some blogs that are no longer kept up, they have good information, however if you are looking to keep a consistent diet of readings, the sites above are my collected resources.

If you are a blogger on Restorative topics, please remind me if I missed you!  I try to share and encourage that we share our sites for the greater good of the movement, “collaboration over competition”.  If you have helpful feedback about the above sites, I would be happy to share that as well.

blog update, posted here since comments must be clicked on to be viewed:

My new connection, and blogger since June 2011, Dr. Evelyn Zellerer  blogs here, she is in Canada and has a full site Peace of the Circle Transforming Conflict-Building Relationships.  Thanks for the contribution!

Restorative Justice Circles affirming worth and remove defenses.

In a discussion about civility, someone used the phase “pre-judge”.  Reflecting upon the shortcoming of making assumptions about other people.  I started thinking about the difference between judging and pre-judging.  I don’t think there is much of a difference, being judged is no fun.

On the flip side, we all have defenses built up to those judgements.  When people think that I can’t do something, I get frustrated.  I have a defense.  I want and need to be percieved as competent and capable.  Yes, I know, I should get to therapy for my perfectionism.

I also had a defense about being a single parent.  If I thought I was being judged, it tapped my defenses.  When we operate from a place of being defensive, we aren’t usually being very kind.

In the You Tube video below, Stephen Covey talks about the power of the talking stick.  Who am I to disagree with International guru Stephen Covey, but I am going to.  I got defensive about the talking piece and need to speak my peace on that.

In the video he mentions a pencil would do.  It could.  However, I believe that the talking piece should be an item of value.  You can place value on something by sharing it’s meaning.  You can pick up a rock and say, this is a talking piece, here are the rules.  Or you can relate a story about where you got the rock, why it has meaning to you.  Making meaning and giving items significance is a common human experience.  It generates connection to know you are holding someone elses touchstone.  Check out the category “talking pieces” on the blog.

Covey talks about how the talking piece provides work, potential and affirmation when we listen.  He explains how it breaks down defenses.  That is exactly what I have experienced.  The person who shared a shortcoming of “pre-judging” might have meant, until he listens he doesn’t really know the other person.  As I have blogged before you teach empathy, by teaching listening.

The covey video:


Start and end a conversation with two words.

“You should . . .” 

If you start a sentence with that, you are ending a conversation with me.  I was just born with this independent streak.  I can not stand to be told what to do.  Yet I have this aggressive, competitive, “be the best” spirit and that must mean I need to listen to someone!  Examining why I was so offended by the person who started and ended a conversation with those two words, led me to the thoughts in this blog.

Many of the young people who come to restorative justice, have had some sort of conflict with authority.  More clearly the ‘law’, which translates a negative interaction with ‘law enforcement’  then the ‘criminal justice system’.  All these stages, involve a relationship to the authority and often times, it is negative.  We all have authority in our life, in one way or another.  We deal with relationships that bring us obligations.  From being a United States citizen to being a Mother, our relationships shape and define us.  We are relational creatures. 

What is the difference or similarity between ‘authority’ and ‘obligation’? 

We choose our relationships that bring those obligations.  We elect the relationship or we are born into it (spouse/parent).  Authority on the other hand, can come with those relationships or it comes from systems around us.  For our young people, authority begins at home, then school, then further school, work and as we age, more autonomy and less authority.

The Juvenile Justice Coalition of Minnesota, recently published Diversion-Manual1, which includes delinquency that begins with pathway called “authority conflict”.  PS- This is an excellent resource for promoting diversion programming!

My defenses rose from hearing “you should”, and I felt like I was at the end of someone’s finger, and being scolded.  I had to remember this was offered in the spirit of helping me.  I responded as kindly as possible.  My reaction bothered me and I thought of it later, and looked for the lesson for myself in it.  Restorative Justice helped.  I realized that even when we speak to young people in the “spirit of help”, they may also feel as I did: dis-empowered, angry, confused at my own feelings.

Further analysis and I realized this: I got defensive, because I didn’t have a relationship with the person offering me advice.  The same goes when young people are expected to obey authority, and there is no relationship.  Some young people do fine with authority, others are more like me, and need more relationship.

Relationship building is glue to a group.  A group of students got to know each other in Circle.  Soon, they were feeling safe and began to open up.  Stories were shared related to life experiences that helped us really deeply know each other.  The students also related to questions about cliques, very openly.  They shared experiences, and by relating experiences we build relationships.  Those relationships become the bonds that allow others to move from authority to those we are in obligation with.

We honor our obligations because we select them.  Build a relationship with a person, especially a young person and your authority becomes more effective.  Be authority by being authentic about who you are.  Spell out the pro’s and con’s of the other persons choice, weave in how you will also be impacted by the young person’s choice.  (Instead of dishing out the “you should . . .”).

TWO WEEKS! I went two weeks without blogging! Postvention!

This maybe the longest time between Circlespace posts, ever!  In the two and half years I have been blogging anyway, September of 2008-March 2011.

I’ve started a few posts, I even talked about blogging in a Blog Talk Radio interview that aired on March 8.

I love blogging.  I love expressing my passion for restorative justice and Circles.  I don’t know why I haven’t posted, when my intention is to do this daily.

Did you know there is a new word, associated with suicide trauma . . . “postvention“.  I saw it on a training flyer, attended the training and now I have seen it in other space.  All related to suicide.

I am using the word in my title and here in the blog, to pick up some internet traffic!  That’s part of the fun for blogging for me.  I like to watch the stats and numbers.  I love getting the email that someone new has subscribed to my blog.  I get a little frustrated with the guessing and lack of control here sometimes.  I don’t blog and yet I still have traffic, so what is being picked up on searches that brings people here?  I like answers.

I knew my blogging needed some “love” so I assigned my college students to make a comment as part of an assignment.  I had them pick a date sometime between September 2008 and March 7 2011 . . . then go find the post for that date.  I was happy when I logged on to see that I have several comments to approve.

I only posted twice in March.  An all time low.  I can’t quite figure out this gap.  I started this post in March and I am finishing it now on April 1.  April Fools Day.  I think I’ve been the fool for taking a break from something I love to do.

Restorative Justice blog advice, 6 tips for the practitioner or advocate.

I have been blogging for just over 2 years.  I started in September of 2008.  Right now the blog views are just over 81,000.  One of my blog role models, Penelope Trunk, has 60,000 subscribers to her blog (I have a handful, maybe two).   I also author two other blogs, and guest post whenever I can.

However, this project to be the first and most frequent Restorative Justice blogger, is working out really well.  My goal is to help others, and celebrate the rewards of being a blogger.  The post today offers some thoughts and advice on for those new to blogging.

1) write in your voice.  Try to write like you are telling someone the story.  I am often rehearsing what I am writing in my head, as if it is being said outloud.  The point of blogging is that relationship and using your own tone, builds that.  People what to relate to who you are.

2.)expand yourself.  Reach when you post, share your perspective, in a non-judgemental way.  Claim it as your opinion or experience.  I’ve posted things and had “bloggers remorse”.  Yet that nervousness has helped me understand my own boundaries and how I want my voice to be heard.

3.) have thick skin and an open mind.  Be ready for any type of feedback.  I shared a comment once and asked for some mentoring around it.  It was acknowledged as a “slap on the face”, yet I was complimented for reaping the learning from it.  It taught me if I could do that in a computer world, maybe I could work on it in real life.  I needed both thick skin and the open-ness to see and feel the lesson.  The same neutrality that helps Restorative Justice practitioners, helps when you blog.  Be aware of your bias, personal beliefs and perspectives.  Deliver your expressions openly, with that most important Restorative Justice value: respect.

4.)set your style.  Decide up front, what type of posts you want to be doing 500 words, 140 words.  Think about how much time you want people to spend on your blog.  Take time to set up the blog, pick out the widgets, backdrop, font with your style in mind.  You will be glad you have some parameters and goals.  Remember your theme or intention for blogging and relate your posts to that.  For Restorative Justice practitioners and advocates, you need to learn to tell the story without violating confidentiality and upholding the mission and vision of Restorative Justice.

5.)use your draft folder.  Ever get mad, send the email or letter before you should have?  Blogging for me is an emotional expression, when I feel passionate about something I can have a tendency to process that in my blog.  It has worked for me, in that I get positive feedback about some of the more personal posts.  I have also learned to put things in my draft folder, for later review.  Some posts never get published, yet I leave them as a reminder of what I was experiencing at a certain point in time.

6.)Relationship.  Restorative Justice is all about our relationships.  Think about the relationship to your blog, blog readers and self as a blogger.  This perspective will help you in your writing and development.  I think my skills at expressing myself have improved, as I wrote out my ideas and stories.  Be aware you are growing and developing relationships at every step of the way.  I have connected with many wonderful people as a result of this blog.

Good luck to you in blogging and restorative justice!

Leadership is building what stays beyond you.

I read it somewhere and saved it in my brain.

Real leaders build things that are around after the leader is gone.

The idea is that YOU, aren’t the program.  What you build, create, lead, develop, implement needs to continue going if you are really going to be a leader that makes a difference. 

SCVRJP has been a one woman show for the majority of its existence.  I can’t thank or appreciate the past and current board members enough.  The leadership of people willing to make referrals or volunteer to be in the process or be volunteers for our program.  So no one REALLY does anything alone, and I didn’t do it all alone, I just had something to do with all the others involved in this thing called St. Croix Valley Restorative Justice.

At this very moment in time, I am getting ready to leave my baby home alone for the first time.  I am actually being a little pathetic about letting go, but after 4 hours of work on a holiday, and packing for a trip ahead of me.  I need to leave the office.  I thought doing a blog post was a fitting exit.

I need to get out of my own way.  I need to realize I’m not that big of a deal.  A dear friend passed away a few years ago.  I vividly remember her giving me some advice as I was concerned about leaving a job and my clients behind.  She told me that you can pull your fist out of a bucket of water.  There is a splash and some ripples, but eventually the water goes back to just being in the bucket.  I’m thinking of Mary today and that advice.

I am leaving work for 3 weeks to go stay with my brother.  His wife is in the hospital with Leukemia.  She’s been there 11 days and she will be in for a few more weeks, then in and out again for 5 months of chemo and treatment.  Less than 24 hours after knowing this, I booked my flight.  Posted here about dealing with this.

I have taken people that know me back a little by leaving work for 3 weeks.  Its been a shock to me I am able to do this!  I just knew what I needed to do, and I need to go help my brother.  Instead of focusing on what I am leaving behind here in River Falls, I need to focus on what I will leave behind me in Colorado.

I need to help my brother by helping him cope.  I think I will pack along some restorative skills like listening, compassion, empathy and understanding.  I want to leave him with love, knowing his big sis steps up and will be there.  I want to be a supporter and repairer of harm.  The kids, 7, 4 & 1 will get some special Aunt Kris time we otherwise wouldn’t be able to do.

So I guess what I didn’t know when I started this post, that I know now, is I am not leaving much behind, I am taking it with me.  Restorative Justice goes where I go.  From family to family and heart to heart, I can help bring what I know and do to my life as a person as well as a professional.  What I get to leave behind, is what I have built with others here, in their hearts and it will be just fine when I return.