[OSList] Where is Lisa? Here she is.

Lisa Heft lisaheft at gmail.com
Fri Jun 12 13:43:35 PDT 2020

Hello, OSLIST friends -

I have not written anything here since 2016 - although I am still sitting
in the circle and listening in.
Some of you are dear friends from across the years (note my new email, by
the way). A few of you have mentioned that it might be nice if I wrote to
the list about how I am doing.

This message is long, because a) I have not visited in awhile, b) I am
having a conversation with you here in my head over time, and c) in Open
Space, even a group of 1 can have a rich conversation for an entire session
or longer - and can then share their documentation of that exploration back
to the rest of the group in their Book of Proceedings. Of course you have a
choice to read it or delete it.

Those of you who know me extra-well know that - since you have known me - I
have while working as a facilitator and educator also been very involved in
the care of elderly parents. What just a few of you know is that I have
also been living with a health condition called ME/CFS
<https://www.cdc.gov/me-cfs/about/index.html>. That condition has
progressed. I am fortunate that I am still able to care for myself,
although here is one way to describe this particular invisible-to-others
disability: I have to rest in-between putting on my right shoe and my left
shoe. But I can still put on my shoes ;o)    (and hey, who needs shoes in
COVID quarantine??)  To understand the impact of this health issue (for
people who have it much much worse than I do), perhaps your country offers
access to a sobering yet beautiful documentary called Unrest
<https://www.unrest.film/>.  A few years ago I realized that true, radical
wellness meant that I must release even those things I love (love love love
facilitation and teaching about facilitation - love it). I did not feel sad
releasing my client work - I felt lighter. I still grieve not being able to
teach and facilitate, and in so many diverse settings, countries and
cultures. But I knew immediately that it was the right thing to do. Last
year my amazing father died, this year my amazing mother-in-law died, and
after two decades of parental care, now my wife and I have more time and
energy to care for our selves.

Interestingly, I never thought of myself as disabled until recent years,
because I simply lived my life. However, since my parents raised me in
a richly-diverse world, I have always had a passion for seeing / imagining
/ designing with a priority of and focus on access and inclusion. So here I
am in an embodied experience exploring things I always imagined might be
someone else's experience. Fascinating.

I write this next part simply to share my background, with those of you who
have not yet met me: I have facilitated for 40-something years. My interest
area is dialogic methods that scale up (only one facilitator needed for a
group of 5 or 3000+), that work across country and culture (without
requiring participants to learn someone else’s vocabulary; without working
through the facilitators’s own cultural filter), and in which participants
frame their own experience (rather than the facilitator doing so). When I
say 'dialogic', I mean those processes which engage participants in
internal and external dialogue (conversation with self, conversation with
others). And when I say conversation, I do not mean everyone has to speak
aloud. Witnessing - fully listening - is participation just as much as
speaking. I use existing and custom-designed processes which engage
participants in silent reflection, kinesthetic and graphic thinking,
improv, role play, poetry creation, movement, and (no surprise!) such
methods as Open Space, World Cafe and Focused Conversation Method. Here is
another <http://www.openingspace.net/> way of showing who I am (there are
so very many different ways of seeing / naming / showing one's self).

And now I write this part to share what I feel so proud of - and because
writing this shows me back to myself, with you as witness to my "prouds". I
have much more life to live, but this is also a point of my life where I am
reflecting a bit. I am so proud of having been able to learn so much from
and with so many of you. I am amazed (but not surprised) about how Open
Space (I will call it OS) works. I have used it in over 20 countries, and
within those countries with participants of many mixes of cultures and
countries of origin. I have used it when only one person showed up, and
with groups of 3500. I have seen groups use it to figure out how to spend a
billion dollars of funding over the next several years, in a way that was
different than they did before, to bring positive impacts to programs,
outcomes and communities. Survivors of foster care or violence or disaster
articulating their unique and collective experience, grief and loss, and
resilience. Communities impacted by institutionalization, marginalization,
corruption, exclusion or resource elimination changing laws, changing
narratives, changing other peoples' minds.  People in some countries (mine
included) noticing how participating in OS has given them their first
experience of true democracy. I have learned from exploring and
experimenting with participant-centered documentation design, with ways of
helping groups think about, understand or respond to the huge amounts of
data generated at an OS (new thinking, new relationships, potential
projects or next steps, previously-unseen patterns), from sharing
differences in how I or others explain the principles and law, when to call
it OS and when it has been changed to become something slightly different,
what-to-do-when's (or what not to do), what-ifs, what is helpful and what
is too "helpy", and what can negatively impact or support the outcomes and
human dynamics possible with full-form OS. I am proud of learning together
with so many of you as we "unpack" OS - the doing of it, but also the tasks
and actions from pre-work to after the event. Exploring what is true,
diversity-welcoming invitation (resource generation, seen and unseen
actions, pre-work, registration design, site design, and ways of seeing /
listening / naming / honoring / celebrating / embodying). I am proud of how
my passion for documenting dialogue - both documentation design and also
participants' own hard work - has given thousands of participants back
their own amazing words and shown back to them their own system, answers,
resources, nutrient-rich unanswered questions, voices and discoveries - and
helped them integrate their experiences after (a big rest and) their
dialogic events.  I have learned so much about what is action, when to
separate an event from post-event decision-making, and when the dialogue
itself *is* the action. *Is* the change. And how change does not have to be
seen by a facilitator to exist and to have an impact, in ways that many
participants have told me about long after their events. Proud of being
able to access such rich learning from some big mistakes or errors in
understanding. And I am informed by the principles and law and trusting the
people and the process being also ways of living life.

(No, I might not answer your questions about any of these things above for
your own learning / comparing / contrasting to. Because I am way too
@$#@#&!%-ing  fatigued. Writing this email has taken me quite a lot of
energy and many months to create. But if you have questions or wonderings,
agreements, disagreements with or diverse experiences about any of the
above, I invite you to give the gift of your exploration to this big circle
here by wondering out loud: Post to this list and explore together.)

I am proud of having helped raise and share resources, traditions,
understanding, and access and inclusion for so many people from so many
countries and cultures - people of so many seen and unseen diversities -
who have sought to join our in-person tribal gatherings around the world.
Proud of being and helping Poets Laureate. Proud of helping and mentoring
those who courageously asked for help or ideas or ways of stepping in or
speaking up or being seen. Delighted at repeating explorations of (for
example) conversations in silence or in graphics or in movement - again and
again across the years - to see what we think might hold true - or not -
about some or all individuals or cultures around the world. Proud of
finally making it to an okay level of ability in Spanish to be able to
teach and laugh and explore in such a rich language and collection of
cultures. Proud of engaging in conversation with so many of you on this
list - those who speak, and also those who witness without speaking - about
things with which we may or may not agree, do or not do the same,
understand or do not understand in the same ways. Proud of our (and
participants in my conferences, client work and workshops) collective
exploration to struggle to articulate the complex, the unexplainable, the
unnameable, and the unknowable, in our simple human languages.

I have conversations with so many of you, dear friends in my head - with
each of us sipping a beverage-of-choice and looking out into the garden and
talking about life. Or not talking, just sitting in rich nutritious silence
together. And I love both those conversations and that shared silence.

For anyone worried (as we sometimes do when hearing about another's health
issue), do not worry: Although I do not feel pleasant and sometimes feel
worse, I am living a sweet life. I am very lucky, I love silence and have a
quiet sweet home to live in, a very supportive wife, nobody else's rhythm
or expectations to fit myself into, and some little creative
projects-without-deadlines. For example I am sewing my first-ever quilt
(blanket with patched-together fabrics and softness in-between), which
began with fabric from my father's softest shirts. I am watching some
incredible animals - including huge Bald Eagles in their nest
<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RyOFMZx0dTc> and a great view. (Bald
Eagles are huge - 1 meter / 6 feet long even before they spread their
wings, and when any of the eggs make it to hatching, they have cute babies.
Nocturnal animals such as flying squirrels and great horned owls visit the
nest when the eagles are away, eagle couples sing and love each other up,
and chat moderators share their vast knowledge for rich learning. And you
can move the timeline back to enjoy the sunrise or sunset in your own time,
complete with the sound of the stream below.)  Molly makes me cocktails
;o)  And I simply sit, in silence, doing nothing, for long periods of time.
I often think about writing about this work that we do - so many stories
and understandings and learnings and still-unexploreds to share. But I do
not hold that tightly as it is not something my energy can include at this
time. Who knows / be prepared to be surprised / whatever happens and all

I read emails but may never reply - it is often more than I can do. You who
love me know that I feel your love all the time. You also know that I feel
loved even by people I have not yet met - people I will never know. That is
how I am built. I feel lucky to have love and self-love, intuition, peace
and imagination as my navigational system. I am a big spirit in a weak
body, however / and I am doing very well. And because I am so amazing
simply living my life with such a big challenge - and because I have been
given the gifts of appreciation and being fully in the now - I have given
myself a superhero name: STREAK (for those of you who do not have English
as your home language, the meaning for this word I refer to is like a fast
flash of movement). STRength in the face of wEAKness. (I wonder, dear
reader, what would be the superhero name you would give *your* self?)

A big abrazo / abraço / (air)hug to you, my friends. I am not going
anywhere, and yet I am everywhere, and I feel seen and sometimes unseen,
and I feel engaged and sometimes disengaged. I am prepared to be surprised
and not attached to outcome, and whatever happens is the only thing that
could have. Take very good care of yourselves, and each other. I now move
back to my seat (or to standing behind my seat and swaying, as many of you
have seen me do), as a witness in this big circle,

As I will be transitioning email addresses, thank you for sending emails
now to lisaheft at gmail.com and removing openingspace.net from your contacts.
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