Saturday, May 28, 2016

BECOMING QUESTIONS - The Answers to Question Number 5


Every week I am asking you a question - YOU 
and as many as I can collide with.
THIS WEEK my Question was::

Will you ask me a question?

I have received these questions below and it has been a challenge for me to dig deep to try to articulate where I am with these deep realities of life. 
So I had to dig back in time to understand my past journey - AND now - it all impacts on me now in my BECOMING.

I trust you will receive my stumbling as the best I could offer outside a personal dialogue with you.
I also hope that these questions and reflective answers will add to your reflective/learning process and Becoming - as we share together.

So here it is - thank you so much for taking the trouble to ask me a question.


What or who inspired you to start working with young people?
When I was aged 15 I was carpeted at my youth club and was told I was unmanageable and had to go. BUT they gave me another option - to become a leader and look after a group of boys - the disruptive ones. So I started when I was a YP. My leaders trusted me, undeservingly, to give me opportunities.That is why I believe in participation and sharing responsibility such as having young people on Boards and Senior Staff Team meetings. That was one of the most significant events in my life. Thank you for asking Jon. Keyword answer:: Trust Risk Participation Valuing.

Thank you for your Becoming Questions. We are all a work in progress and this is valuable stuff….. Question 5 is a big challenge! So many things I’d like to ask you, for you are a man of wisdom and experience…. However I’ve settled on this one: On a scale of one (lowest) to ten (highest) how beautiful do you feel right now, and what do you mean by ‘beautiful'?
(I’ve asked this because one of the most influential statements in my life, both for me and my own sense of self-worth, and for others in all my youth work / church work / life work has been the one you coined: ‘You are Beautiful’ - and I wondered how you’d feel when it’s directed to you…)
Love John
I am glad you ask about 'how do I FEEL right now’ because I believe I am beautiful - it took me until I was age 40 to be able to accept that and, the  years following, struggling to actually say that !
I have traveled around the world asking people these questions::  i) Do you feel beautiful? ii) Do you believe you are beautiful? Everyone says NO to the first question. A few say 'YES but ..’  to the second. 
Me? - Scale 1 to 10? I say (7) - I feel pretty positive uplifted encouraged (I am typing out my answer to you all and feel blessedI Me? - I have to accept I am beautiful because I believe that you are - and everyone is - so I must count myself in too. You may know one of my quotes “WE can see a person’s behaviour but we can’t see their journey” Behaviour can be beautiful or ugly. The soul, the core of each person is beautiful. Created as a beautiful innocent child & forever valuable, precious, special, unique …..Our beauty does not depend on what the scales say, what the mirror says, or what our feelings say sometimes ……  So when I was working with gangs, on the edge, with my feelings in the gutter - I started to believe and say to each one, as I do still, YouAreBeautiful. I knew I could not work with young humans & violent behaviour, foul abuse and more, living, as we were, in a community with the highest crime in the country - with 80% local youth unemployment, unless I began to see through their behaviour into their beautiful souls.
You ask John, how do I feel when it is directed to me. I have had, and have, some of the toughest hardest biggest men in my life who tell me I am beautiful. AND it feels good that they are in a place where they are able to say that and I receive it warmly.

Two Questions from Two people here::
1)  How (and maybe when – if that is not a 2nd question)
Did you reach the place where you can see everyone
As a Beautiful Human Person?
2)  My question to you Pip BHP, which I'm asking because you appear to find good in everyone...
Have there been people in your life where you truly could not find the BHP inside?
If yes then what made you stop looking with this person, and if no, what gives you the compassion to find what others can't ?
Thank you Mark & Ian - some of what you ask is covered in the above answer. But going steps further - I have had many people in my life when I could not see/find/feel the BHP inside. I have trained myself, and still at it, to deal with these initial feelings by walking through a curtain of those feelings. Owning these feelings. Feeling these feelings - not suppressing. Once I realise I have that feeling (negative, Dislike, Distaste) I deliberately walk through my curtain of feelings, accepting & acknowledging those feelings, but going beyond them to connect with the beautiful who may be out of sight.
There is always a reason, a purpose in violence, aggression - all behaviour - But I believe. I am attracted to people with obnoxious behaviour. (An obnoxious person is a hurting person - I believe). I am still scared of violence - I hate it. I have lived with it so much I have felt it in my blood stream. I still sit with my back to the wall in a cafe etc.

My question to you is 'do you regret anything'. My answer would be yes, I regret never having children of my own. I am at that age when it is terribly lonely knowing that as I get older I don't really have anyone to care for me. 
Thank you Sue for sharing your own regret/fear. A privilege when anyone can do that. I regret lots of things looking back on my life. I always tried my best but I feel bad about who I was as a human over many years. The worst regret is my failure to LOVE. I have always been a man on a mission and many times my mission has not been about loving as the number one. I wanted to change people - not love people into feeling safe enough, confident enough - to take steps and risks for their own development. I like the Mandela quote:: "I don’t win or lose - I win or learn"

With all of your vast experience why, when asked for advice, do you rarely give it but instead ask another question?
A great question Nic. This reminds me of the story when a man saw a butterfly was struggling to release itself from it’s chrysalis. He helped by cutting away the chrysalis to fee the butterfly and it flopped - unable to fly. The struggle to release itself was also to strengthen it’s wings …..
I never give advice. It is one of my ingrained values. I have a saying “I am responsible to people - not for people’
I have worked with people over the years who have been self harming, drug taking, suicidal and to give advice could make me responsible for a suicide. So - I ask questions to assist a person in their becoming. Suggesting they consider all options themselves. I tell stories of what I have encountered in the past. Encourage self determination which will build confidence and self esteem. I believe in 'self determination' as much as I believe in God.

What's the advice you're most glad you heeded? 
Jim Punton RIP, who I would say has had the greatest influence on my life, was for years my Non-Managerial Youth Work Supervisor during my worst years - which were the best of learning years. He was the one who I shared my work, life and Mission with regularly. The role was a supportive one like Counselling but re Youth Work and Personal/Professional Development.
One day on one of my visits I said to him as a battered Inner City Youth Worker::
“I don’t feel spiritual anymore”. (I had not lost faith but feelings-wise - I was empty spiritually)
His answer/response was -  “I am glad” 
In following dialogue he told me that it was like moving from solid ground to take a boat in rough seas. It was a journey of becoming and when I reach solid ground again I will have experienced change. I was midst change and I was feeling it. Feeling rough. He didn’t ever give advice. He told a story. I have never forgot those moments.
Later on in my life I wrote a quote I use often:: ‘Growth does not reside in a place called comfortable’

How did you balance work life /your passion (living on the job/hostels etc) with your home life? 
Were there any challenges and if so how did you work it out with your family?
Yes - we lived on the job for many years - a Young Offenders Unit as Houseparents, A backstreet Youth Club, A 87 bed Hostel, an Inner City Community & Youth Work Project etc.. AND I have got it wrong many times in terms of family life. I always remember David Shepherd, he was the Captain of England at Cricket and ended up as Bishop of Liverpool,  who lived in the same community before we did, saying much about keeping family time DAILY. Another regret. I tried. I was torn between working with young humans with the greatest of needs and spending quality time with my precious family - two young girls and MrsBeautiful.I tried, failed, had some great family times - great memories, but also some major regrets. Balance? NO!

Did hurt and pain in your own life set you on your “beautiful” pathway or was it pain of others or both? 
I instantly think - BOTH. I remember hitting the buffers when working with young humans - so violent - so bound up in crime - so hard-to-reach - so hard even to make contact with, begin a relationship with ….. I could see their behaviour but couldn’t see their journey - their inner being - I only saw the ugly stuff - lived in fear at times, and then ….. I clocked it that God loved these teens/twenties - and I didn’t. I failed to LOVE…… SO, due to my own growing awareness of feelings within, and empathy with their feelings and their NUMBING of their feelings to survive - I began to see their ‘beautiful' beyond their behaviour. And started to say it each one. NOW to everyone.

How do you get to be an (obviously) terrific grandparent? And i have asked you this...... as one of my offspring is in labour right i'm about to be a grandparent.....yet again! ....and....i'm not sure that i've got it right yet........... 
Got another other grandchildren.....but….I need hints and tips!
IN YOUR OPINION......what makes a GOOD Grandparent?
I never give advice - see my answer to a question above. So no advice from me but what I believe in, and try to do, is - When our daughters left home I decided I would never give advice. Respond warmly to any questions, talk about what I/we have done in the past - both mistakes AND positive outcomes. (Don’t we all learn from mistakes!) 
Being active and supportive is special for everyone. Mutual support is given - which is a beautiful experience. We never interfere and only respond when asked. The Grandchildren, parents, grandparents - we all need support at different times. 
AND love - we love our own children and grandchildren to aching % - yet this, even this, must never become oppressive.

The question I have for you is has your spiritual beliefs changed since the Mayflower (Youth Work Project)  ie do you still believe in Jesus as the saviour or have you taken a broader view, the reason I ask is that I am interested in people's inspiration and what they believe and the values they live by, also having known you from old, it seems as of you have changed quite a lot and I am interested to find, I love talking about these things.
No name 
What a challenging question - I love it that you love talking about these things. I HAVE CHANGED MASSIVELY and continue daily. It has been 31 years since I left that work/mission/life. I have been changing all these years  through many experiences alongside many different people. I guess you have changed - I would love to know those significant events where you remember change? Since the age of 21 when faith kicked into my life, it has been - and still is, my principle driver, motivation, foundation and I wouldn’t have been the person I am (the journey, joys, hurts, learning and scars) without that initial decision. (At 21 I decided to Love not Hate because Love does a better job)
Over the years I have worked in 5 Projects between my working in a factory years and my present Freelance years. All 5 were faith based projects and I was employed as a Christian Leader. Now I mainly work as a Trainer / Facilitator in a range of non-faith based projects. Nowadays I don’t talk about my faith journey until someone asks. I will never knock someone’s faith, whatever it is, or no faith. (see my words about ‘self-determination’ above). I am always willing to say where I am at but never what others ’should' be (I never speak the word ’should’ as I believe it is oppressive! )  My two biographies - journey through life spell that out in more depth.

I will ask you a question because I am an RE teacher and I love to know people's beliefs. It is so important to share our worldviews even though we may disagree: What are your religious views and how do they influence the way you think and act? What is the key religious (or non religious, if you don't have one) teaching that you live your life by?
Thank you Zam for that question. I hope most of what you ask is answered in the answer above. I don’t have a good education and not a good/or any religious education but I believe in it. I don’t even like the word ‘Religion’ - or use the word in relation to myself. My faith is not easy to articulate and I don’t want to tag or use labels to describe it = me! I think what I do is take as many values and principles from the Christian Bible and transpose them in to todays context - my context and beyond because I want to take some responsibility for the world too - not just MY world.

About two years ago you mentioned unfriending me on Facebook, which shocked me at the time and has remained with me always. Did you mean it? 
A good tough question Ian, I can remember doing that but I can’t remember why I said that. I guess I meant it, otherwise I wouldn’t have mentioned it. I have never unfriended anyone yet even though many posts are offensive to my values.

 How do you know that you are truly loved? 
I don’t KNOW - I believe. I feel love from many people - I believe they love me. Some say so. So do many men too - I love that. Our family - 6 of us are so full-on loving - and our two daughters' men. I feel it - I believe it. I have others in my life who don’t love me. I feel it. Others, I feel, don’t even like me. I feel it. I don’t like that ! But Love has NO OFF switch. I am determined to love deliberately those who struggle to show/express/articulate love. The biggest struggle I have had is to love myself. I was 40 before I managed it and it is still a management priority ! I am on a mission to love.

If you could only listen to one song for the rest of your life, which song would it be and why?
I ask this because music is often the key to unlocking something about the other person's soul!! It is also a way of describing what inspires/refreshes/comforts you!!
Tough one because I love music - listening to it whenever wherever I can. Walking, Trains & Planes, Car, Commute ,Working at home & with headphone when MrsBeautiful is watching Football on TV. I will end-up by choosing ONE by U2. I have built a Game/Exercise around it which I have used with groups in Armenia ,Bulgaria, South Africa, Norway, Sweden ,Switzerland and on home ground. I have used it with groups as small as 10 & as large as 25,000. As the music track is being played on repeat, with everyone standing in groups of about 10 - one person lies down in the centre of their circle with eyes closed - and group 'slowly' lift the person horizontally as high as they can reach - and slowly down to be then replaced by other group members in turn. It is a spiritual, experiential, physical, communal experience. Wondrous feelings. One line in the lyrics stands out - gets to me……  “We get to carry each other, carry each other -ONE” It does NOT say ‘we have GOT to carry each other ..’ ….. It does say “we are ONE and we get to carry each other ….”

Describe in three words a person that embodies the exact opposite of you?
WHY? I experience, that people who are similar to me or the opposite/different provoke/tease me the most. Ether they mirror me and  make me angry, seeing my own behavior.  Opposite people I can’t understand their thinking, acting … make me angry because I feel, see, think the world different.
I want to be warm in relationships. As a Youth Worker one of the major skills is making contact - a hurdle which must happen before a relationship can be established. Can you possibly establish a relationship without warmth? 
I am striving always to understand my complex self - being an open book with myself and with others. NOT Padlocked.
Vulnerability can be often thrust upon us and we have to learn how to cope. We can chose to be vulnerable too. I believe in that - it’s part of being an open book.

Hey Pip, here is my question to you :
you seem to be a youthworker all your life.  How does that work and still stay an authentic person?
I asked it, because I'm a youthworker. It's a calling for me. I went to YMCA college more than 20 years ago. I started the Ten Sing work in the town where I still live. it's not my hometown. I moved there to start Ten Sing. It was quite successful and it still is after more than 20 years. I met my wife in that town. we got three children. I tried to study social work last year at a university, but I could not manage it with my daily life. I'm still very much into young people, and I think I could do this for a lifetime but there a always officials who say : we have seen some youthworker that grew older and we don't think this can still be authentic. they don't mean me personally, because there is no reason, but I have to think about my future. I know it's in God's hands, but I seriously think about it and I'm open for new direction... but I'm also open for the old direction, because I love it and I love young people.
I'm 46 now - thanks for listening!
I love your passion here. That feeds me. Thank you for saying I am an authentic human. I would say I am am an authentic person BECOMING. I want to communicate with people. I yearn to get close - as close as they dictate/indicate. That means with any age but my life has been mainly reaching out to teens and twenties. I don’t have the same connection with children - I think it is a skill thing. Youth Work is my experience since I was age 15. I come alive with them. More challenging or indifferent the better! Building mutual respect and a relationship is the foundation. I believed for years that the first skill of a youth worker was ‘making contact’ in various contexts. The street, club, cafe, sport, games, music ….. so many more. I now believe that the essential first skill is observation. Reading the person. Connecting with the individual/group/gang where they are at. I believe that the hardest of hearts, hurting hearts, can read love in someones eyes. Love Wins.

My question? What was the best year of your life? Why? (You can only pick one.)
Tough one Wayne - I have many to choose from ! - I think I will go for, after a quick google of all my years, to when MrsBeautiful and mI wed. She was 21 and I was 25. We had been courting, as they used to call it, for three years. We both worked for the local big employer Pilkington Glass. She worked in the StHelens head office and I worked at their Research Laboratories outside town as an Engineer - really a metal worker - turning and milling different metals to use in research equipment for glass production.
We were both involved in Youth Work as volunteers. We loved it. More than the day jobs. 
We bought a hose in our community
On our honeymoon we saw an advert in a National Newspaper for Houseparent to work and live in a residential ’school’ for young offenders aged 14 to 17. All committed to this unit due to criminal acts.

Where do you go to/what do you do when your soul needs recharging…?
Important as you give so much to others - really important.
I am mainly recharged when I facilitate a group/team on a training day. Next week I am with Kings College Student Teachers (PGCE) - a stimulating soul refreshing privilege. Also meeting up with BHP’s in a 121. They feed me deep in my soul. Sometimes feel empty and tired. Often this tiredness is because I am not relaxed. I relax when:: I watch Rugby League on TV - I become tense about the game but afterwards I am much more relaxed and sleep better. Another:: I write my feelings down. This search engine method helps me to get  the swirling out of my system & head. The activity of this summarises my life - internal stuff recharging by digging deep. Another is picking up one of my favourite non-fiction books and sometimes just one sentence is enough as it sets my mind into transposing the writers text into my own life. I love being stretched emotionally spiritually developmentally. Lastly, when I wake during the night and can’t turn over and sleep, I read a bit of a Lee Child/Jack Reacher thriller (my only Fiction) on my iPhone - this turns my mind away from a jumble of distracting thoughts & I sleep!


ALL the above answers are inadequate - a dialogue is always best. 
I would love to meet one-on-one with a coffee/tea between us - asking questions of each other.
That is the best
That is life !

Thank you for being there - asking and answering Becoming - Questions.
Please keep going - I love it
Please keep-on Becoming …..

A new Question will be coming at you on Sunday.