February 29, 2012

Leaping toward Self-Determination

Happy February 29, 2012! 

It takes the Earth approximately 365.242199 days to complete a revolution around the sun and Leap years were added to keep the calendar in line with these revolutions. In 46 BC, Julius Caesar, in his aptly named Julian calendar, was the first to add Leap Years; however, he added too many. The Gregorian, or common solar calendar, corrected this some 1500 years later. Its 365 days includes Leap Years under three conditions:
  • if the year is evenly divisible by 4;
  • if the year can be evenly divided by 100, it is NOT a leap year, unless;
  • the year is also evenly divisible by 400, then it is a Leap Year.
This means that 2000 and 2400 are Leap Years, while 1900, 2100, 2200, and 2300 are not.

Sophia Gilmer
Recently, people have begun making Leap Lists: a list of the things you want to do before a major milestone or before you transition into a new phase like: turning 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, or even 100; graduating; getting married; or having a baby. While Leap Lists are not necessarily a facet of Leap Year, it appeals as perhaps the most apropos time to make one. It has less of the built in failings and pressure of New Year’s resolutions and less of the negative connotation of bucket lists - things to do before you die versus things to do while alive. Leap Lists can be seen as things you want to do before everything you have to do. It’s really a matter of perspective but what they all have in common is self-determination.

Most of us will not include the impossible on our checklist such as establishing world peace or discovering the cure for cancer but it is possible on a personal scale. We are capable of having peace in our lives and minimizing the number toxic relationships we experience by way of self-determination.

Self-determination is the power, ability, or belief to make a decision for oneself without outside influence: you control your own destiny. It is a combination of attitudes and abilities that lead people to set goals for themselves, and to take the initiative to reach these goals. It is about being the author and architect of your life, making your own choices, learning to effectively solve problems, and taking control and responsibility for your life.

In mediation, self-determination is among one of the preeminent characteristics of the process. It is a responsibility of all participants, including the mediator, to ensure that all parties have, not only the capacity to participate in the process, but also the right to define their issues, needs and solutions, and to determine the outcome of the process.

As mediators, our experience with self-determination should parlay into our everyday lives. You have the power and authority to determine the quality of your life. Enjoy every minute of it!

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