Welcome to David Ducklow

Carole and I have two children who have been adults for years but we think of them as our “kids.” Christine is a mom of 3 of the best small people ever and a forgiving wife of a compulsive mountain biker — they both do other stuff too. And one day Christine might join us in our shared work in journeying with people.

David who has been a spiritual director and intentional tutor for many years has recently graduated with an MA in Spiritual Formation from Carey Theological College. He is also Special Education Coach and tutor with kids with “dif-abilites” (his word). He also has a degree as a Special Education Assistant from CapU plus a BA degree in psychology and theology.

We welcome David to our shared practice. You can reach him at http://www.davidducklow.com. He works out of his home office and local libraries in North and West Vancouver.

I encourage you to read his blogs to get a sense of his deep life (http://davidducklow.blogspot.ca). And, by the way, he has “dif-abilites” too.

Empathy — When Something Good Is Done

When I am confused or worried, I want someone to listen without rushing or concluding or pronouncing. It irritates me when someone dismisses me with “look on the bright side,” or for those theologically persuaded, “God is doing something good.” I don’t want to be equally dismissive, so I look for the “giver’s” good intent and try to not take it deeply. What do you do?

Empathy is the ability to know and experience the consolations and desolations of another. It is a spiritual discipline, a social skill and a profound respect; it is a relationship and a friendship that matters deeply.

Empathy is not sympathy where the “giver” feels good about the giving. It is not solution focused, or panacea finding, or conversation concluding. Sympathy is a reactive protection from getting involved. It is limbic un-thoughtfulness.

I want you to watch a lovely 3 minute cartoon on what empathy is, what caring is. Brene Brown is the speaker with the words behind the drawings. To hear more of what she has to say, look at “The Power of Vulnerability.” Want to see even more? Check out her genius TED talk.

“How’s Your Day?” and Other Great Questions

“How are you doing?” “What’s going on?” “Can I help you?” “Where are you going?” “How’re you feeling?” Questions are important. They make you think.

Two of my favourite parent-to-child questions are:
“What are you doing?” (this helps the child think about her behaviour); and
“What should you be doing?” (this helps the child think about what ought to be).

The first question requires the child to think and reflect. If asked with affection and gentle touch, the child will probably not defend or deny but ponder and remember. The second question invokes the conscience and requires a value or judgment call. This helps a child decide on what is right and true. Two key questions for growing up well or living well when you are older – one for the mind and one for the conscience.

Here are some questions that I ask my client-friends. If you have been visiting with me, you may be familiar with them.
 What are you doing that is working well?
 What are you doing that is taking you nowhere? (Or, “What are you doing to create your own hell?”)
 What assets do you and your colleagues bring to your shared task? (This is a good question for marriage and family as well. Just change the words a bit.)
 How are you most resourceful when life (or work) is threatening or stressful?
 How do you adapt to pain?
 What are you holding on to that you need to relinquish? (Good question for parents of teenagers or those grieving a loss.)
 What positive changes are you causing (e.g. to your work, your family) by being yourself?
 What are the best things about your relationships within your family or work?
 Describe a circumstance in your marriage, family or work in which you felt loved.

For lots more questions pertaining to marriage and pre-marriage look for Couple Intimacy Questionnaire under “Tools For Change.” And if you hope to grow from where you are to where you want to be, see the paper entitled “Contract for Change.” Great questions.

Do This in Remembrance — What Matters Most

My son David, when he was 12, had a horrendous stroke that stole his memory and, for a time, his mind. He was in a coma struggling for life and when he “came to” I asked him, “What number is Pavel Bure” (“The Russian Rocket” and the greatest Vancouver Canuck of all time and David’s then idol). David couldn’t speak, his hands were tied to his bed frame, a frozen plastic soother was duct-taped into his mouth, but he knew the number “10.” His hand slowly opened twice. Five fingers, two times. That I won’t forget.

David was there. His memory still worked. His affection was intact. His mind functioned. He knew Pavel Bure’s number.

This is called “emotional memory.” David remembers what emotionally matters to him. He remembers hockey statistics, Bible verses, his friends’ birthdays, his family’s emotions, his Dad’s love for shoulder massages when he is stressed. He doesn’t remember Math 12 or the fundamentalism of his Sunday School days. He remembers emotionally — the things that matter.

And so do you.

I don’t remember friends’ phone numbers now that smart phones have made me dumb. I don’t remember my work address because it is on the footer of my emails. But I do remember Carole’s voice on a phone call when she is just checking in – I remember it with the fragrance, beauty and lilt of our dating years. I remember my teenage daughter coming home late at night on dates with Brent (now her husband and the dad of their two boys) and how we talked about her joy and what most mattered to her. And when David massages my shoulders, I remember when we almost lost him and how I am touched by him.

Schools emphasize “cognitive memory” and this is what we, teachers and professors, often assess. But we don’t normally enter into what our students love and what motivates them to hope and dream. We don’t understand affection, and faith and what is essentially moral, but we evaluate on data accuracy, cognitive carefulness and redundant repetition.

It seems to me that if there is a ribbon in our memory from past to present and present to past (see the last post) it is an emotional ribbon. And it is coloured in Robin Hood green and pumpkin orange and priestly purple and slimming black and smells like fresh baked sourdough with plumping butter poured all over. With a glass of cab sav. Now that I can remember.

Emotional memory tastes as great as it looks and feels even better. Immeasurable really.

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