Play: Youth and Family Camps

“Don’t do anything that isn’t play.”  – Marshall Rosenberg

Dear Friends,

Nonviolent Communication Youth and Family Camps are intergenerational venues for playing and learning. In a culture that I often experience as goal and achievement oriented, I worry that children, youth and adults, including myself, do not have enough time for play. I believe play supports our mental, spiritual and physical health. It invites ‘players’ to be creative and unattached to an outcome. Play raises our consciousness about our interdependence as humans. It is refreshing in that it is without purpose. My friend Karl says that the opposite of play is not work, it is depression. Play helps us connect to our energy for life and community. It is essential to our well-being.

I hope you and the children, youth and adults in your life have the chance to play this summer and that you may be able to enjoy camp together. If you are moved, please join me in spreading the word about these camps. Information about camps is listed below.

Jared Finkelstein is one of the family camp organizers. Speaking on behalf of all the NVC Family Camp organizers, hosts, and volunteers he writes:

“For us, Family Camps are a labor of love and an especially meaningful way of introducing NVC to families and into communities. People who attend Family Camps come from all walks of life and we’ve seen NVC flower in government offices, organizations, churches, schools, hospitals and homes as a result of families choosing to join us at our camps. We are giving people a lived experience of what is possible in the world when we prioritize compassion and the transformational power of that extends well beyond their time at camp.”

Warm Regards,


Children and Youth Camps
Please visit Play in the Wild! where you will find 3 camping opportunities for children and youth in Jeffersonville, Vermont.

Family Camps – All Ages
Summer 2016
Family Heart Camps, FHC
FHC West Virginia: June 24 – July 1, 2016
FHC California: July 2-7, 2016
FHC Wisconsin: July 10-16, 2016
FHC Ohio: July 30 – August 5, 2016
FHC New York: August 26 – September 2, 2016
Information about Family Heart Camps can be found at

NVC Family Camp Vashon Island
July 30 – August 6, 2016
Information about NVC Family Camp Vashon Island can be found at

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Dear Friends,

Space has opened up and Leslie and I are happy to resume contact with you. We will send weekly posts on Empowering Communication (EC). Here is the first one:

Yesterday, I called Apple Support and talked to Chris. At the end of the call I was tearful, experiencing so much gratitude. I told Chris a little bit about my work, then expressed appreciation in traditional EC fashion (the action, my feelings, my met needs): “Chris, I am so grateful for all the time you took to tend to my concerns. Thank you for you care, the kindness in your voice, your authenticity. You have just given me peace of mind.” To which Chris replied: “I think you’ve just shown me what Empowering Communication is! I’ll definitely keep your words on my virtual wall.”

I marvel at the power we have to enrich people’s lives. Thank you, Chris.

Warm regards,


Relationship Coaching sessions with Leslie or Myra

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Self Empathy

Dear Friends,

Recently, I had been working harder than it’s healthy for me and began experiencing mental fatigue. Eager to nip the situation in the bud, I engaged in the Self-Empathy process during a practice group.

Self-Empathy gives us a way to explore difficult situations in our lives, release tension, and mourn the pain of unmet needs. The last step in the process invites us to ask ourselves, “What can I do to meet my needs in this situation?” I thought the answer was obvious: Schedule fewer clients!

In the past, I used to think up solutions to problems. When I implemented them, they worked sometimes but not others. Until one day, I began to ask my heart for solutions, instead of my mind. So, I posed the question about my health and waited silently. The answer surprised me: “Let go of fear.”

My heart bypassed the mind and got to the core of the problem: I was scheduling too many clients to compensate for the potential warm-weather lull. I wanted to meet the organization’s productivity standard. I was being driven by fear! Had I just scheduled fewer clients without deeper self-understanding, my guess is that I would have slipped into overworking unconsciously.

Since I got this insight, I have been working with integrity while protecting my health and well being. I’m happy to report that I’m feeling well, I’m enjoying my job again, and, without trying, I am exceeding the productivity standard.

Warm regards to all,


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Authentic Connection, Did I Get There or Am I Fooling Myself

Dear Friends,

Lately I have been puzzled at my ability to fool myself. How do I know when I am connecting with another authentically and when I am fooling myself?

Recently my life partner and I were dealing with something we have dealt with over the 30 years of our marriage: ways we respond to each other that stimulate pain for the other. I was longing for empathy about my pain, and his response illustrated exactly why I was in pain.  I said, “TOUCHÉ!!! Can’t you see you are making my point for me? How can you not see this?” There I was, deep in my analysis of him also proving his point, that I was not hearing him. For at least 5 minutes, I had not been in touch with my disappointment and frustration and yet thought I really was.
Suddenly, my awareness kicked in! I needed support, something he couldn’t give me in that moment. I felt my sadness and longing, and I began releasing him from my demand.

Amazingly, within a very short time, he expressed how much he wanted to support me. He wanted acceptance, wanted me to know his intention was there to support even if the words sometimes stimulated pain in me. Both of our faces were relaxed, our posture comfortable, our breathing softer. That is when I knew we had connected at the heart, deeper than the words themselves.
There are two signs that tell me when I am not connecting at the heart.  One is how quickly I move through this process. The bigger the problem, I have found, the more slowly I need to move through it in order to see if my words match my inner truth, getting to my pain and turmoil without blaming another. 
The second sign is how my body feels. When I connect with myself authentically, my muscles feel relaxed, especially in my face, and my breathing is more regular. 

I am celebrating the beauty of these discoveries and growing awareness. 

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The Healing Journey

Dear Friends,

I’d like to tell you a children’s story that made me cry: The Big Bothersome Boulder by my friend Michael Grygleski.

Once upon a time, there was a gigantic Boulder
that sat in the middle of a village without purpose to its existence. Annoyed, the villagers tried to get rid of it, to no avail. One day, a little girl asked the Boulder to move, and it did. It dissolved into dust. The winds blew and the dust became part of a mountain in a distant land. Strong, serene and beautiful,the mountain was the people’s delight year round.

Friends, I am the Boulder! When I was a young adult in Mexico, my wounds got in the way of relationships. I bragged to earn respect and I said things to be liked. Not surprisingly, I experienced rejection. Along came Peter. He asked me to marry him and I moved to the U.S. In an environment of love and acceptance, I healed and became my authentic self. And I discovered my purpose.

For me, this tale represents the healing journey. As we embark on it, we enter the depths of pain and we die. In the process, we transform and are born anew. Empowering Communication supports us in many ways on the path to wholeness. The mountain is all of us, doing our part to contribute to the well being of others and our planet. Together, we make a difference.

With love to all of you,


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Balance and Harmony

Message from Myra

Dear Friends,

Greetings. I hope you are well.

I’m happy to share that I’m doing well. After suffering from burnout in 2011, I set out to create balance and harmony in my life. My guiding principle is Self-Connection and Universal Human Needs — ah, those shining stars! At the beginning of the journey, I discovered that I was driven to exhaustion by unconscious shame stemming from childhood: “If I do well I have worth,”  fear: “If I exceed expectations I have job security” and approval seeking: “I want management to see me as a good therapist, productive, etc.” It was amazing to me that after so many years of self-exploration, I still was acting from thoughts and feelings that hurt my health. I am pleased to report that I am now more at peace. I still slip more often than I would like and get caught in the grip of a project. My body says, “Rest!” and I override it. At times, I start losing my path. Nonetheless, I have developed a new lifestyle. I am enjoying sitting with people (clients) and hearing the things of their hearts, connecting with a friend over a cup of cinnamon spice tea, twisting and stretching in yoga to the sounds of Indian music and the scent of sandalwood. I am living in the present, no longer driven by a desire to prove anything. My motivation, my fuel, is to serve not to achieve. love this easier, calmer life. It gives me a sense of serenity I’m now ready to share my journey: Psychological Well-Being: Helping Clients Promote Balance, Fulfillment and Happiness.

Although the workshop is addressed to mental health professionals, it is for everyone. I teach in everyday language and concepts. If appealing, I hope you join me.

Valuing interdependence, I offer partial scholarships through work exchange. No one is turned away for lack of financial means.

Leslie and I are eagerly waiting for warmer weather in Chicago so we can take long walks. In the meantime, we’re hanging in there.


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Complete Self-Acceptance: Is This Possible?

Message from Myra

To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Dear Friends:

I haven’t written in a long time because I didn’t have something welling up in me to write about. Right now, though, I’m dying to tell you something very wonderful that happened recently.

For many years, my inner quest has been to attain unconditional self-acceptance. I didn’t know if this was possible, but I kept looking at the bright and distant star beckoning me. You see, like many of us, as a child, I experienced conditional love. When I did or didn’t do this or that, the security of being loved was absent. This was scary, so I resorted to pleasing the grownups in my life in order to experience love. Tragically, my sense of worth became conditional. “I have worth only if…” Oh, what a burden. I have been proving myself for a long time.

Not anymore. For the first time in my life, at age 59, I feel complete, unconditional self-acceptance. I am fine just the way I am.

I am more content than I’ve ever been, and I have moments of true joy, unrelated to external circumstances.

Ironically, I think that growth is more likely to happen as I accept myself unconditionally. And probably as a result of this, I feel increased love towards others.

How did this happen, you might ask.

Last month, I went to a retreat during which I meditated ten hours a day for ten days. One hundred hours of meditation in a little over a week! How arduous this was. The bell rang at 4 am. No! I’m sleepy! This is too much. I want to go home. But I’m glad I stayed.

It paid off. In spades.

Now, I’m not suggesting that this is what it takes to get to a place of self-acceptance. I believe it can be a lot simpler. I think it takes spending sufficient time dwelling within the shining light of the heart to dispel the fears that get in the way of seeing ourselves clearly. I have noticed a correlation between the peaceful state I describe above and the amount of time I spend dwelling within. More time, more joy and vice-versa. And it is not a stable state. I need to nurture it. My goal this year is to get up at 5 am daily to spend more time in this wonderful space.

Marshall Rosenberg, the developer of Nonviolent Communication, (and many others) teaches that the essence of human beings is love and compassion, and he suggests spending time every morning to connect with one’s essence so that one can live out the day from that space. He names some possibilities: meditation, prayer, communing with nature… I’ve taken this to heart. In addition, I take a few minutes here and there throughout the day to reconnect with my essence.

I wish we could all be together and,

“I wish I could show you, When you are lonely or in darkness, The astonishing light of your own being”. ~ Hafiz

Love to you all,


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