Restorative Justice/Restorative Practices are like healthy living, you need to make lifestyle changes.

My health has been a concern for me lately.  My face is red and blotchy my clothes are snug, I haven’t been doing the good things I need to do for my overall health.  It’s so easily stated:  eat well, exercise.  Two simple, simple concepts yet much more to implement.  I think and think and think.  Why don’t I go to yoga?  Why am I buying Apple Jacks instead of Special K?  I don’t like having to hide my tummy or feel uncomfortable in tight waistbands.  I desire a healthy lean body.  I don’t always do the work.

Its been on my mind enough, that its become a comparison now – healthy and restorative justice are lifestyle approaches.

Conversation has emerged recently about the “quick fix”, others wanting to implement Restorative Justice and getting there quickly without really spending time in training.  You see Restorative Justice/Restorative Practices is not ‘fast food’.  You don’t drive up and get one meal.  It’s an overall philosophical approach.

Thank goodness some teachers have told me the truth.  They didn’t “buy in” to the idea of restorative justice.  Flavor of the month, technique of the week, and this sort of defensiveness would apply if Circles of Conferences were taken as a strand, and not the entire fabric.  Restorative Justice is about transforming the bigger way we do things.  Its being mindful and aware of community and relationships before harm or wrongdoing occurs.  Its responding to harm in a way that is inclusive, engaging and respectful.

Restorative Justice and Healthy living both appear very, very simple.  Both require small differences over time to make a major impact.  Both require changes on multiple levels.  Both require a committment to an overall different lifestyle.

A few ways I’ve found to express a restorative lifestyle:

  • honoring other peoples significant relationships.  I knew her Aunt was special, she was in town so I passed along a SCVRJP mug for her.  I remembered their son’s name, so I could ask about how he was, years after being in Circle together.
  • honor circle values, outside of circles. trust, honesty, respect, love are the top 4 values I’ve seen written on hundreds of paper plates in Circle.  Strong relationships can survive conflict.  If I find myself in conflict, for the most part, I try to honor the values.  I get to hear what is important to others in Circle and that helps me know how we all influence people.  We should always honor relationship values – it might seem like you do, but we can always do better.

Healthy living wise:

  • pack my lunch! You won’t believe it, every day I need lunch!  Yet I go unprepared into my day!  I don’t eat breakfast, I’m scrounging thru my desk for candy, crackers, whatever I can find.  Today, a salad for lunch and a midmorning serving of yogurt with extra blueberries.  The care to myself to pack lunch really helps.  Sorry for declining sales Jimmy Johns!
  • in my mouth, write it down.  Off and on I keep a food journal.  I feel really good when I keep my 1200-1500 calorie mark.  If I don’t write it down, I easily forget what I’ve had.  It’s a researched and validated technique (just like restorative justice)
  • DO IT!  JUST EXERCISE.  I wish I was better and that it was clearly a part of my life, like brushing my teeth.   When I’m not in my groove, I don’t do anything.  Exercise is a guaranteed feel good, I have never left a yoga class or gym feeling like I wasted my time.  NEVER.  I know the feeling of sitting at work, getting distracted and realizing oops, yoga started 10 minutes ago.

Our lives are our choice, our lifestyles are small choices made day after day.  Choose wisely friends!