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Bringing Joy and Meaning to Life

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Among the many and varied themes that have flowed throughout my 7.5 decades, I can identify two favorites that continue to bring joy and meaning to my life: making stuff’ and ‘doing stuff’ that contributes to the quality of peoples’ lives.

In rural northern California at age 4 or 5 I happily spent a lot of time with my own pair of scissors, cutting out images of people and clothes from the Sears catalogue to make paper dolls, then the furniture for their house.

On one occasion with my scissors and catalogue I was in the living room where my parents were in a loud (and scary!) verbal argument (OK, a fight!). Right over the top of feeling afraid, I felt a calmness and excitement come into me. I knew and completely trusted that I could ‘bring my mom and dad back to harmony’ by cutting out images of a man and woman holding hands, and then giving the gift of these to my parents.

I imagined them stopping fighting and smiling as they reached out for the paper images of themselves. I wish I could say my strategy was that effective and powerful … it wasn’t…they kept on fighting. But it clearly was the start of my passion and interest in communicating from the heart.

When I was ten, my best friend Bev and I made toys and games to take to our nearest hospital, fifty miles from our little town. After weeks of making our toys we handed them over to the hospital staff to give to children who were there during the Christmas holiday.

Bev and I thought we had made some pretty cool stuff that other kids would enjoy even while feeling yucky in their beds - such as the numbered colorful paper fish that swam on their bed to be ‘caught’ on the open safety pin attached to a string on a stick. We never were given any feedback to know exactly how our toys were received, we just knew how much we enjoyed thinking up our project, doing it, and imagining the delight of the children.

Fast forward through years of ‘making stuff’ and ‘doing stuff’ to 2006. Christine King, a budding NVC trainer/soon-to-be colleague, easily convinced me to partner with her to turn my list of ideas for NVC products into reality. And that was the start of Galloping Giraffe Enterprises. Laughing Giraffe and Dancing Giraffe were names already taken so we agreed we could indeed gallop. And gallop we did into our current identity of GROK the WORLD.

I had started my list of ideas for NVC products and materials soon after attending my first NVC Introductory workshop held in a Victorian home basement in San Francisco with NVC founder, Marshall Rosenberg. That was in 1985 and I was ‘hooked on NVC’ like those paper fish on the hospital beds.

At that time there were no NVC books or materials available. Marshall’s book was still ‘residing in his head,’ computers were barely into our culture, and the internet was waiting it’s turn too.

My fascination with NVC and the potential I sensed it had for ‘making my life (as well as other peoples’ lives) more wonderful’ became the fuel of my passion for learning, living, and teaching this system of mindful communication, a language of LIFE.

Now in 2022, Christine, her daughter Claire, and I are enjoying hearing your feedback about how our products and materials are helping ‘make your lives more wonderful’ in big and little ways. Please do continue to email us your stories. They are the motivational fuel that keeps us going !

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  • Jean! What a great story! I imagined little you cutting out images and handing them to your parents and seeing their faces soften (perhaps after their fight 😊). And then I imagined all those children on the receiving end of your heartfelt toys.
    What a gift you are and continue to be.

    Thank you for sharing your origin story!

    Christine Gipple on

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