In recent weeks, Jill and I have been increasingly aware of the all the things couples are ‘spozed’ to do. Somewhere under the pile of all these circumstances, though, we came to notice that there already IS a gorgeous crystal clarity that is the space between us, as a couple, the same of course, between all of us. Nothing to make, no effort required, undeniable and indestructible. The rest is just so much circumstantial cloud cover. So we made that space our diamond and got on with the practice of keeping its vastness clear, trusting that if we just keep clearing, the best of each and all of us will shine through, practicing together and sharing it out as best we can.

That is what we aim to test, anyway, as we’ve made our engagement official, last Wednesday. We had an outrageously good dinner overlooking Chicago’s Water Tower, then went down into the open, public plaza and garden space that surrounds the rock and flow of that, Chicago’s oldest building. I made a quick presentation and proposal, which she warmly accepted(!), as the rest of the world rushed by us unnoticing, the trees rocking and rustling in post-storm Chicago blustering and late September chill. The diamond moment done, circumstances drove us home to pack her up for London again, 5am alarm, and we’re off to the airport. She’s due back home for good on Friday. Grateful and excited. Pow.


Finally getting back to work on SmallChangeNews, merging all of those postings into this blog, merging the practices, too.

Along the way, I consider that a short break would do me good… go next door, have a little workout in the pool. Blissful isolation. Then I notice how much of my work I will take with me, even there, underwater.

It seems that when we make our own minds our primary work, we never really do get to leave the office. Splash.


Welcome Homepage

Nothing like 9 months in a couple of foreign countries to tip your world all upside right down. Now it’s sort of like that old John Denver line, coming home to a place I’ve never been before.

Since August, 1998, my online development work has focused on inviting and supporting other people and groups to get their webbed toes wet at GlobalChicago.NET. More people than I could ever hope to count have been a part of my experiments with guest books, bulletin boards, wiki webs, weblogs, and a few other gizmos along the way.

When I went to London, this blog was inexplicably renamed “PeaSoup.” Nothing consciously to do with London fog, and never expected it to be a temporary name. It was just how I felt there in London. Soupy. Even as I did some good cleaning and upgrading. Still more to do and that will continue apace.

Meanwhile, it’s starting to feel like home again here in Chicago, giving primary attention to house, partner, and practice. The PeaSoup name is gone, some community things will continue at GlobalChicago, but my web focus is here now, at MichaelHerman.COM. This space is the new center of what I’ve come to understand as my practice of “executive facilitation.”

It’s all about getting the most important things done in the easiest ways possible, in spite of everything else in organization. Welcome homepage.

Awareness Through Movement

The Feldenkrais Method teaches awareness through movement, so it’s fitting that I should be here in Indiana facilitating part of the annual practitioners conference in Open Space, which is also all about awareness and movement in organization and community.

We opened this morning with a decided local adaptation of the standard Open Space approach: we did a 1.5-hour “Awareness Through Movement” lesson. The gist of this was lots of easy, gentle, flowing sorts of movements, individually and as a 100+ person community. The moves are very similar to the rolling turning sitting standing moves that little kids use when learning to stand up and walk.

Immediately after the lesson, I felt great. I recognized the sense of power, confidence and presence I felt in body as a very very old, but not a regular everyday, sort of sensation. It reminded me of how I must have felt when I first learned these moves. Learning to stand and walk must have been a HUGE rush! And this method seemed to be tapping into just that early moving moment. Fabulous!

And then we went on to have 100+ people post more than 20 topics for the future of this professional community, some of which they are right now in the next building discussing and exploring and documenting for their annual business meeting tonight.

grounding in oceans of change

it occurs to me that my experience this past year at omidyar.net (and my development work at small Change News) has been an exploration of a big ocean of people and projects and processes, piles of information. the goodness of the people has been pulling me in, the bigness of the potential pulling me in, and the weight and the messiness of all the info and change has been pushing me under…

but somewhere something’s been clicking over in brain and i’m recognizing that i *can* still breathe under here. so i’ve been starting to walk very carefully on this new ocean floor, which is really just a lake or a big river, as i can see that i’m also picking my way, finding a course out to sea, a much larger sea, that is the blogosphere and the rest of the working world.

in a word or two, it’s been a maddeningly and yet powerful grounding process for me. that’s been happening in several places in my life, as well, but this o.net pool is a smaller, sometimes too cozy, but ultimately beneficial pool for practicing my skills for staying grounded even as i walk through oceans and oceans of change.

i’m off today to facilitate a bit of Open Space in the middle of the Feldenkrais Guild of North America’s annual conference. i hope that my work with them will feel as good as the body work they do!

Pay Attention

Here is Tess, my niece, at 2.5 months. If my sister took this picture, then this is what it looks like when you’re the mom.

From the very beginning, it’s all about the quality of attention we can bring to things, no?

Omidyar.net Members Conference: More and More (day two)

As is so often the case in Open Space, day two was lots of work, but longer, deeper sort of wave to surf. At least that is my sense of it. The challenge for me? Refining all day my pulsation between facilitation and participation, pulsing too between projects inside and outside of the network. It’s PeaSoup, chunks and flow at once.

The ‘official’ program was ‘scheduled’ to end at 5:30pm with the conclusion of a short ‘evening news’ session, but I think the news went on for an hour more than that… then we ordered pizzas, broke out various video projects for a ‘movie night’. Many of us ended up sitting around our main meeting room until after midnight, making plans for one of our teams to visit and support Theresa Williamson’s Catalytic Communities in Rio de Janeiro.

Theresa and I will convene a session tomorrow to explore ways that her work in squatter communities down south and my work on the Small Change News blogging center might mutually support each other. A number of other intriguing connections and conversations opened today, as well.

Most powerful thing I heard today? A quote from David Boorstin (sp?) who said something to the effect that every social entrepreneur, anyone who really is living and working at the leading edge of change, must necessarily absorb a tremendous amount of failure, testing always, as we do, the limits of what is possible now. I would add that if we are lucky, we also absorb a good share of love, joy and power. The practice seems all about expanding heart to pump more and more of these latter three back out into the world.

Tess Aquilina Uricoechea

Born today, Mother’s Day, in Urbana, Illinois, to my sister Theresa and her husband George. Eight pounds, thirteen ounces. The first of our next generation. Named for two of her great grandmothers, it’s fascinating to feel the power of names well-given, to notice our love for two great women, in two families, invited and bestowed upon this squirmy little blue-eyed bundle.

I visited the hospital this evening, where everybody’s doing well. Amazing to me, the seamlessness of life. I’ve never been so close to a birth. This little person was inside of my sister yesterday? How crazy is that, the first time we really get to see it happen? Tess was five hours old when we met.

On the drive down, I could not have imagined the scene, could not imagine where she, nor I, would fit into it. But when I walked into the hospital room, everything and everyone was exactly and perfectly fitted to everything and everyone else. Life expanded and expanding without bump or edge or seam. I got to hold and hum her for most of her sixth and seventh hours of life. Tiny body, spacious heart. Long life.

the great e-scape

yes, i now have dsl in my (dorm) cell here after a couple weeks of scouting, sneaking, stringing and stuffing. i’ve been plugging into the internet in a little tiny box of a room downstairs here in the library. i ran that wire down into that box soon after i got here, but there are just way too many things that get in the way of really being able to use that space for this work.

so i started working on an escape. think “great escape” or other wwii prisoner of war movie. flying a bit under the radar here so that a good and harmless idea didn’t get nixed before it got properly tried. just like those old movies, this adventure was high drama, at least it seemed that way in the unusual quiet of both the Center and my own mind. seemed i would always be discovered, right up to the last moment when all i need to do was crimp one plug on the end of one wire, up in the office. then, when i went up to scout it out, i end up in a conversaton with the house manager about how being a little too eager on something totally unrelated messed it up. much as i wanted to move quick to that last wire, i took her inadvertant counsel and waited until the coast was really clear.

when it was all done, i’d run about 150 feet of wire through existing clamps and holes, over other wires and pipes, out of the office, through a ceiling cabinet, around the stairwell, out the small roof door, across the roof, into the cell block, down the hall, through the one hole in my cell wall where the electricity comes in, and all that done, had exactly two feet of slack at the one end and one foot at the other. then i had to find a crimping tool, which i got the shop owner to rent me rather than sell me… because everything in london costs at least twice as much as you’d think it should.

after two or more weeks of sleuthing this out, and stuffing this wire through every little hole i could find in this 140-year-old building, nobody was more surprised than me when the first pages loaded. leave it to chris corrigan to point out that i’m the only guy he knows who tunnels into my cell. i found a sawhorse, a scrap shelf, and some bar clamps in the basement (dungeon workshop) that have fit together in a brilliant and perfectly laptop- and cell-sized desk. what’s maybe even funnier is that i now finally feel like i have the freedom i need to do all of my work… at the center and here online. look to scnn for the first benefits of that.

this ties in directly with what i’ve been writing a bit about limits and shapes of mind

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