Nov 29

Disappointment and Opportunity

Have you heard this before?


“My team is terrible! We’re not going to win any games this season.”

“Well at least you’ll have fun.”

“I don’t care, I want to win.”

“But you’ll learn to be a leader.”

“I don’t care, we’re still going to lose.”

“Maybe you will get to play a new position.”

“I don’t want to play a new position. I want to win and be on a team with my friends.”

“Just keep playing hard and things will work out, eventually. I love you and I am so proud of you!”


While this is a relatively common conversation, it is not an enjoyable one. Children’s sports can be like a double-edged sword, good for developing skills, teamwork, a sense of belonging, determination, and humility to name a few but bad for being left out, or picked last, or disappointed – just like life.


As parents we have to look at this as a glass half-full situation. But inevitably the child will look at this as the worst thing that has ever happened in their entire life. I don’t have all the answers. It is heart wrenching to see my child so utterly disappointed that I can’t find the right words. “It is awful and I am sorry.” That’s all I really can say.


It seems like this story is a microcosm of the world. Life is unfair; there are winners and losers; many people simply fall through the cracks. But just like life, opportunities abound when we face our challenges and disappointments. It shouldn’t be: “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps, kid.”  It is the time to say: “Keep your head up, things will work out eventually. Michael Jordan didn’t make his high school basketball team but things worked out for him in the long run.”



Nov 28

Public Meetings SOS 4.0: Can Your Public Process Survive Politics?


Come Join Mike and I at the IAP2 (International Association of Public Participation) workshop in Salem, OR on December 7 at 1:00: Public Meetings SOS 4.0: Can Your Public Process Survive Politics? 


I was very fortunate to work with my friend and colleague, Jamie Damon, the Keynote Speaker at this workshop, on The West Eugene Collaborative (WEC).  The WEC was public process that successfully navigated the waters of politics and rancor. During the two-year public process, Jamie and I helped steer twenty-seven diverse participants to consensus on comprehensive land-use and environmental recommendations delivered to the Eugene City Council in 2009. The WEC operated during one of the most divisive mayoral campaigns in Eugene’s history, yet due to the dedication of WEC members to the process, the WEC not only survived, but it flourished. For more information on the WEC and to read the WEC report please visit:


For more information and to register for the workshop please visit: We look forward to seeing you there!


Nov 26

Communication and Aging

Many of us have heard or been a part of this familiar story:

“Mom got disoriented the other day and got lost on the way to the store. By the time she got home, she was distraught. More than once she’s left the kettle on the stove and has ruined more than one pot. You know, Dad’s been in a wheelchair for a year and she’s been caring for him all alone. I wonder if she could use some help around the house, or maybe they would be more comfortable in an assisted living facility. None of us know what to do, and my siblings won’t even talk about it. Mom was raised to be very self-sufficient and will not even hear of moving into assisted living. My siblings and I have been putting off a conversation with Mom and every conversation ends in an argument. Now we aren’t even talking to each other. The damage seems irreparable, and Mom is no closer to any decisions about her future.”

As adult children of aging parents, many of us are sandwiched between our parents and our children, navigating complicated and untraveled waters. Many factors cause the situation described above and others like it to be complex and challenging. Family dynamics, independence, geography, time and resources are just a few matters to be considered in these situations.

Yet, there is one variable within our control: communication. There are many helpful resources available for families dealing with these issues, but one that I found helpful on this topic is: (note: the home page has audio). As a conflict resolution professional, I know that constant communication is paramount to making good decisions in times of crisis. The earlier and more often we are able to talk about challenging issues with our parents and siblings the more we can minimize crisis situations, be better prepared when a crisis arises and reduce conflicts among family members.


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