Phases of the Moon, the newsletter of the Maine NVC Network
Volume Six, Issue Five:

How NVC has changed our lives

Our newsletter appears approximately once a month. Our purpose is to contribute to the NVC learning of people who have taken at least an NVC Level 1 workshop, and help us stay connected as we endeavor to deepen a culture of peace within ourselves, our families and the world. We believe a Level 1 offers so many new ways of thinking that additional support for learning and integration could be helpful.

We endeavor to make each edition informative, connecting, inspiring and fun. Please let us know how the newsletter might contribute to your NVC well-being. Email: newsletter at

This month we begin a series of feature articles that express celebrations – how NVC has changed our lives, creating more freedom and choice. Alton Lane is our guest contributor for this issue.


This month’s feature is an excerpt from Alton Lane’s forthcoming memoir. Alton took his first NVC workshop while he was incarcerated at the Maine Coastal Regional Reentry Center, Belfast, ME. He has since participated in several public workshops, including the Maine NVC Integration Program, and has become a co-teacher and Empathy Mentor at the Reentry Center. Alton will be a special guest at the upcoming workshop, Transforming Addictive or Criminal Behavior: What Neuroscience and Nonviolent Communication Have to Offer, with Sarah Peyton. FMI

Quoted from the forthcoming book jacket:

I was a criminal for a long time, and it just doesn’t suit me anymore. I spun in and out of jail and prison since the age of 12. I was angry with the world, with the man who abused me as a child, with myself. I was violent. I had drug and alcohol problems. I rejected my two kids and thought, "good riddance." I just didn’t care about others. I welcomed the idea of overdosing; it seemed like a good way to end it all.

I am so different now. I almost want to change my name. Today I identify myself as a loving person. I have joy and happiness with myself. I’m proud of myself for succeeding. I have hopes that others succeed. I mean, I’m still Alton. I still have the capacity to go the other way, but my hope is that I don’t. Today I would call myself a compassionate loving person, kind of a wimpy human being, like a sissified tweety bird. - Okay, I don’t really mean that. The work I’ve done, opening up my wounds, learning to communicate in a healthy positive way, reconnecting with my family, finding forgiveness - all this took courage. So, I guess I’m a courageous tweety bird now.

In the following excerpt, Alton reminisces about his first encounter with NVC, after decades of drug and alcohol abuse and violent felony behaviors.

The Nuttiest Woman I’ve Ever Met

by Alton Lane

I was in limbo, just floating aimlessly through my life for the next few years after I finally got off the drugs. I had a lot inside and I never told anyone what was going on. I didn't even know what was going on inside me. All I knew was that there was a pile of shit in there. I was getting depressed a lot. Sometimes I wouldn't want to get out of bed for a week. I wouldn't take a shower. I wouldn't shave. Just fuck everybody. I don't care anymore. Then a week later I’d feel happy, or I’d think I was happy.

My license had been suspended long ago and I wasn’t supposed to be driving. One day Ronda was sick, I couldn’t get a hold of my sister, and my neighbor was drunk, so I drove a mile down the road to buy dinner and some medicine. Of course I got pulled over and they gave me another driving charge.

Instead of going to jail again I went to the Reentry program in Belfast for six months. It’s a program for men coming out of prison. They try to teach life skills and how to communicate with your families.

I thought, "This is stupid. They’ve piled me up with classes. 300 hours of this shit. None of these classes even make sense. Resilience class. Epictetus Club. Mindfulness class. Meditation. They’re all stupid. I should have just done my time in jail. How does this even pertain to my life?"

I went to this Nonviolent Communication (NVC) class taught by a woman named Peggy Smith. In the first class I told her she was crazy. I said, "You’re the nuttiest woman I’ve ever met. You’re higher than I’ve ever been if you think I’m going to sit here in this class with a bunch of men and talk to you about how I feel. You’re nuts. It’s not happening. Let’s just forget this."

During my second Nonviolent Communication class, Peggy asked us to tell a story about a time we did something nice for someone. I told her, "I ain’t never done nothin’ nice for anybody." Then I thought about it. A memory surfaced.

One time Ronda and I saw this Christmas tree with a bunch of papers on it at Wal-Mart in Bangor. I thought, this is a weird way to decorate a tree. I looked closer and saw each piece of paper had a child’s name on it, their age, and what they wanted for Christmas. These kids had nothing.

My father had died earlier that year of mesothelioma from working with asbestos, and my siblings and I had won a lawsuit payment. I was walking around Wal-Mart with a pocket of hundred dollar bills that would scare you. I didn’t see anybody else buying anything for these Christmas tree children. What else are you going to do when you have $40,000 in the bank?

Right then and there, I emptied the tree. We ended up spending a LOT of money. I bought portable DVD players, helmets, kneepads, and skateboards. I had two carts. Ronda had two carts.

When we pulled up to the checkout, I asked the woman behind the counter, "Now where do you want all this stuff?"

She says, "Sir, I don’t understand."

I said, "Do you see any papers on your tree? Your tree’s gone."

"Are you serious?"

"I’m pretty serious. Now, where do you want this stuff? I want to go back. I still have to get bicycles. And I want to go home tonight, so let’s get this shit moving."

"Oh my God. Just push ‘em over there."

"By the way, I’m going to need some help, because I’m going to need almost every bicycle you got on your rack." So we went back and got bicycles. It was crazy. It was quite a night.

I shared that story in class. Peggy asked me, "Now that you remember that, how do you feel?" I didn’t know how to even think about that question. I was so high when it happened; I’m lucky I even thought to look at the tree. I would never have considered how I felt.

I went back to my bunk and thought about it and cried. Wow. Maybe I have done something good for people. I felt good, really good. I had never been able to pick out good feelings. I didn’t know what it meant. It wasn’t my usual feelings of rage.

I know what it’s like to not have anything. When I was a kid we didn’t have shit. We’d buy sneakers from the Salvation Army that already had holes in them. I was lucky to get four pairs of socks at Christmas. My mom wrapped two pairs in each package so it looked like I was getting two presents. I know they did the best they could. We didn’t have a lot, but we always had something to eat.

When I finally connected the feeling, that came from remembering that act of kindness at Wal-Mart, to the needs inside me, needs I didn’t really know I had, this class took on a whole new meaning. It showed me that everything that I had done in life was driven by my needs. It was so true. It was so true. I thought, She’s not crazy anymore. This woman knows what she’s talking about.


If you would like to learn more about how NVC can benefit a person with either addictive or criminal behaviors, take advantage of our opportunity to study with Sarah Peyton, December 9–11, 2015. FMI

Upcoming Trainings

Trainings listed here are in the Maine region. If you wish to list an event, please follow our guidelines for submission. Please note that both certified and non-certified trainers, (who are willing to follow certain requirements of the Center for Nonviolent Communication), may be leading the posted trainings. Listing here does not imply endorsement by the Maine NVC Network of the trainer or the event.

Nov. 6-8, S. Portland, ME
From Conflict to Connection

taught by Peggy Smith
details and registration


November 20-22, Bar Harbor, ME
Living in Compassion: Touching Beauty, Restoring Wholeness
with Robert Gonzales
FMI with online registration
Printable flyer with mail-in registration form


December 9-11
Transforming Addictive or Criminal Behavior –
What Neuroscience and NVC Have to Offer

with Sarah Peyton
FMI / Online Registration


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Poetry Corner:
The Healing Time
by Pesha Gertler

Finally on my way to yes
I bump into
all the places
where I said no
to my life
all the untended wounds
the red and purple scars
those hieroglyphs of pain
carved into my skin, my bones,
those coded messages
that send me down
the wrong street
again and again
where I find them
the old wounds
the old misdirections
and I lift them
one by one
close to my heart
and I say holy


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  • Monthly Empathy Circles:
    • Belfast, ME
      Second Friday of each month, 10am-1pm (formerly first Friday)
      Open Communication office, 243 High Street, Belfast
      You are welcome to come when you can. If this is your first time coming, please contact Linda beforehand: Phone 207-322-2122 / email: chezcote at

    • Augusta, ME
      Empathy group open to all, 1st Fridays at 10:15
      contact Annie Lunt: 207-623-0427 / email: all at

  • Authentic Communication Groups
    Falmouth, ME

    with Andrea Ferrante, trainer and coach
    Two groups meet biweekly, one on alternate Wednesdays; the other on alternate Mondays.
    Authentic Communication Groups are coaching groups designed to open you up to an approach to living that offers greater peace, personal empowerment, and conscious connection to that which sustains and enriches life.

  • See also the Practice Groups page.


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