My main draw to mediation is that it's a way to help people resolve conflict peacefully. We all deal with conflict. Conflict itself isn't bad. It's how we deal with conflict that can be good or bad. Mediation is a way to resolve conflict in a good way, a peaceful way. I like to help people do that. I've enjoyed seeing people mend their relationships.
From the very first mediation I realized there was something very special and life-changing about the mediation process. I witnessed relationships mended in families, churches, the workplace, and in schools. I saw people transformed from being hopeless in a situation to leaving the mediation with hope for a better relationship in the future.
Helping people to understand that they, themselves, have the answers to their own conflict; that they have within themselves the means to relieve their own suffering, is what inspires me to continue to do the work of mediation.
Since retirement I have been involved in various pursuits, ECR at the top of the list. I first became involved with ECR in 1989 when Gary Zimmerman brought Gail Sadalla from San Francisco to talk with schools about Peer Mediation. I took the formal training to become a mediator in 2007, and have been involved in a steady stream of mediations since then.
Many times as a mediator I would hear circumstances that seemed impossible to solve. But by the end of the mediation there would be a good plan that seemed to have great possibilities of working. It often seemed like a miracle had taken place.
I am often surprised by how well mediation works. To come into a situation where people are stuck and don't see any way out, and then for them to find common interests and a solution is rewarding.
After retiring as a school counselor, I knew I wanted to stay active and also feel I was helping others. After my first mediation with Angie Briner, I knew this was the path I wanted to pursue. Hope to be doing it for some years to come!
I was part of the first group of volunteer mediators trained by ECR. That was in 1990 or 1991. Working for peace has always been central to my life. So when I was invited to be a volunteer mediator for ECR, I saw it as another kind of peacemaking work. I found that this kind of work suited my personality, interests and abilities. Through the years I have mediated a large number of cases.
Life is complicated for many families and communities these days, especially the children. Yet, those of us who are mediators see some 'miracle moments' for spouses, parents, grandparents, and organizations who choose, or are court referred, to work on the situation through mediation. They often seem surprised to know that they can calmly talk and listen instead of threatening and giving ultimatums. In the process, they experience and practice communication skills that can be applied to other aspects of life.
It's amazing to watch the change that happens as mediation progresses. Folks who walk in with muscles tight, backs rigid and voices strained begin to release that tension as they gain confidence in the mediators and the process. In the end, resolution brings with it a new awareness that managing conflict is something that can be healthy and achievable.
Mediations that stand out to me are the ones that seemed hopeless at the beginning. Often, individuals will come to mediation as a last resort and not believing that it will make a difference. These situations are the most powerful because when properly supported in the mediation process, these individuals often surprise themselves and one another as they find creative ways to resolve their conflicts. Everybody wins.”