Growing up in the Shadow of the Rockies
I grew up in a small town on the plains of Colorado. Back then there was no Internet. Online was where you hung clothes to dry. There were no cellular phones available for the public. (Those that existed were likely as big as backpacks). The Atari 2600 (Asteroids, PAC-Man, and Space Invaders!) was the source for computerized entertainment. I could (and did) walk to school until I got my driver’s license and a car. Terrorism was something that existed far away and/or long ago. Airplane Hijackers always landed their planes on runways and negotiated. Climate Change was addressed only in science fiction. An African-American had never been president. Music came in the form of cassette tapes. Cable TV had increased the menu of stations from three to only about thirty. We live in a time of rapid change!
Beyond the grass of the back yard of my childhood home lay the Rocky Mountains. When I looked west, my eyes beheld majestic white-capped peaks. Seeing them inspired me to dream and connected me to nature. I’m still dreaming and my connection to nature remains strong. From April to November of 2011, I spent two days a week playing volleyball on the beach then body-surfing in the Pacific Ocean. In my new home of Flagstaff, I feel blessed to have forest access only 2 minutes from my front door.
School was a focal point of my life. I went through school getting good grades and never disappointing a teacher. I was a “good” boy. The only ‘B’ I received in 7th through 12th grades was for the swimming portion of 7th Grade Physical Education. For some reason, I never learned how to breath correctly in the water until later in life. While my report cards were consistent as the winter snow, my emotional ledger was a little imbalanced. I didn’t have any names for it, but I had a sense that something just wasn’t right.
College Turbulence under the Flatirons
I entered the University of Colorado in 1988 and quickly experienced depression. After seeing therapist after therapist through the University over the course of four years, I was told that I needed to get outside support. I did, though my depressive cycles continued.
In 1992, soon after arriving in San Diego, I learned about Compassionate (Nonviolent) Communication (CC) when a friend gave me Marshall Rosenberg’s “Introduction to CC” tape. Eight years later an interaction with my father showed me how CC could change my life for the better. This experience led me to focus my energy on CC to guide my communication within myself and with others.
After a period on medicine when I didn’t experience depression, I began my depressive cycles again in 2008. I needed to re-learn ways of effectively managing it and unlearn some ways that work less effectively than they did in the past. In the process I developed tools that help me live more richly at times when me mood and motivation are low. Like with my learning of Compassionate Communication, learning more effective ways to manage my low mood was an ongoing, experimental process.
A joyful phase of life started in October 2009 when I met a woman named Katie. We have been together for over five years and I am so grateful for our connection! She is one those of us in the field call a “nature giraffe”. That means she was already living the consciousness of Compassionate Communication which means her spirit was (and is) full of love, compassion, and light. We’ve been living Compassionate Communication and learning how to be in partnership. In November of 2010, we prepared and presented an Introduction to Compassionate Communication at her church in Arizona. In June of 2014, we publicly celebrated our partnership in front of 150 friends and family with original Wows — er..Vows! Katie is a constant reminder of the beautiful fragility of our existence on this planet and the joy of deep connection with another energy being.
Flagstaff, AZ is for ME!
In February of 2012, I joined Katie in “Flag” (as the locals call it) having, with Katie, chosen it over “San D” (as I call it). Katie works as a Physical Therapist specializing in treating vestibular disorders and neurological issues at Core Balance Therapy. In the Fall of 2012, I entered the Sustainable Communities MA Program at Northern Arizona considering a new focus to my life: helping communities become more sustainable. I completed my coursework in the Spring of 2014. I spent the Summer and Fall completing my Thesis and I graduated on December 12, 2014. My thesis was on the Compassionate Communication process. I interviewed nine people before and after sharing 6 hours of training. Here’s the link to all 152 pages 🙂
I took a sort of “gap year” in 2015 to coordinate my Father’s move to a retirement home and the sale of his house in addition to taking on more responsibility in my role as Board President of Friends of Flagstaff’s Future.
In March of 2016, After a good deal of soul-searching, dialogue, journaling, and thought around the question of how I want to focus my energy to change our world, I decided to move back into communication-skills training/consulting work. I spent the last 9 months of the year building my business. With support from the Small Business Development Center, I completed the paperwork to register my LLC, get a trade name, and set up the systems needed to do the work I wanted to do. I created a business organizational chart for the business that split the organization into two sides: Organizational Sustainability and Growth and Changing the World.
I have been active in changing the world by working with individuals and organizations and growing the business!
I’m excited to be offering my gifts of time, energy, and expertise to make the world a more compassionate place. I invite you to journey with me to a world where everyone is skilled at communicating with heart.
David R. McCain
Flagstaff, AZ, July 2018