Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Groundswell of the Grassroots and The Nature Of Awe

Try explaining or describing the nature of awe to the ordinary person and what do you get?

Blank stares!

But talk about awe with someone who has been there, personally and with others, and what you get instead is a “real” conversation.

Wow! I have some of these “awestruck” friends in my life. They can, in a heartbeat, generate a conversation like this with me, even on the nature of awe!

So when I had the opportunity this morning to have a bit of a coffee/tea break with one of these friends, I got back even more awe.

Nancy is my friend’s name. She began as my acupuncturist but after a few years of working together, discovering in the process that we really like each other and have a handful of things in common, like understanding the nature of awe, more or less, we can speak of such things rather easily. 

Nancy and I had a break time telephone chat this morning in which I found myself “trying” to tell her about Monday’s Coffee House Conversations Volunteer Planning Meeting. And the awe I experienced in it. And how that meeting was, for me, in its tiny way, like the awe for some folks of seeing the Pope.

(Which, for me, is like the awe of being with Murat, leaving me so moved as to be almost speechless).

Only fireworks come to my mind as being as high and as bright as awe. Yet, being man made, they fall short of the awe of a baby’s birth, for example, or experiencing the purity and love of the Pope. Perhaps a perfect diamond, coming as it does from nature, might come close to the sparkle I feel inside, remembering and calling up the feelings of the precious moments of awe I have known. And, indeed, there have been many!

As I recounted my experience of that last volunteer meeting to Nancy, attuned and curious as she is, Nancy leaned in and probed that in me that had recently been to awe, attempting to understand more fully my experience of awe last Monday, connecting it with her own past moments of awe. 

Out of that exchange I had a grand surprise, accompanied by, once again, the wonderment of the well-lived facets of my own life, personally!

Trained as I am as a Certified Transactional Analyst to analyze interpersonal interactions, minute motion by motion, I was able to describe to Nancy (and amazingly to myself, too) some of the essential ingredients that brought the awe of that meeting to be; a simple formula, not easy to apply, learned from my dear friend, now deceased, Rabbi Edwin Friedman, noted systems analyst and author of Generation To Generation and A Failure of Nerve.

The formula has these three elements. I am convinced these three, applied consistently, can lead any one of us, as well as any group of well-intentioned folks out of the social messes of our day-to-day lives in to creating zones of peace wherever we go. So profound we can even experience awe!

Here is the formula. Apply it, transaction by transaction to how you reliably handle yourself, personally and interpersonally, and you will be more than half way up the Mountain of Awe – and – climbing. 
  1. Self definition,
  2. Investment in connection
  3. On-reactive presence 
(Fear not. I will bring these three elements to you attention again and again with explanations. Now that I’ve started.)

However, if it doesn’t seem clear to you how high you are climbing, applying this formula, in your own personal ascension, as well as the collective, contact me, Anastasia, The Super Sleuth. I will be your personal guide for climbing the Mountain of Awe and I will assist you in reaching that peak.

I am here to help!

Definitely more on this, especially as we head into the craziness of the coming election campaigns, in the midst of all the other craziness surrounding us in our society and politics.

It’s a wonder anybody can stay sane. Let alone reach awe!

But we can! I know I will -- and -- I know you can too!

Thus we become the "groundswell" of the grassroots, as Marilyn Ferguson suggested in the Aquarian Conspiracy, that can even topple that most exasperating of entities, our dysfunctional political machinery!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

My Cup Runneth Over!

I got to thinking this morning, after posting an announcement for tomorrow evening’s Coffee House Conversation by Conference Call, that all of a sudden coffee/tea cups had become a symbol of something to me; something warm and cozy, relaxed and happy.

But what was that something?  I had not an inkling.

The notion started to form yesterday but I didn’t, actually, realize a significance to it until just a short while ago.

Then I wondered about this growing awareness. 

What was this something that coffee/tea cups were starting to mean to me?

As I often do I thought to tell my best friend, spirit sister, peace buddy/collaborator, Sue, about it.  She had a few spare moments so was willing to ponder the point at hand with me.

Always eager to explore meanings and symbols in the abstract, it didn’t take but a minute for her to be in the “game” with me.

A coffee/tea cup?

Now what could that mean to me, Anastasia? Did the damp and the dreariness of the day have a thing or two about it as a connection?

Not much I decided.

But, aha, there it was!

New Horizons’ sponsored forthcoming Coffee House Conversation by Conference Call, scheduled for tomorrow evening, Thursday, held the magnetism that was drawing my attention to the idea of a cup!

I had been in the process of posting an announcement for that event when my first awareness of a generic cup surfaced. The generic cup became something to me before it became a cup, specifically the one pictured above. 

I was developing a feeling, an emotion about cups. I had never had such before! But still what did the coffee/tea cup mean for me in that context?

I mused on the image.

Then there it was!

Coffee/tea cups had come to symbolize friendships, gatherings, community, relaxation, hanging out with folks, informality, sharing, inspiration, fun, expanded consciousness, camaraderie, new ideas, inspiration, collective ideals, “a possible society in motion.”

Got it! My cup runneth over! Then I saw it full.  Awesome!

There it is – the meaning of a cup for me had come to meaning human sustenance of the finest quality, in every imaginable color, shape and size -- cups, symbols of the people and what I share with them.

Over the past year coffee/tea cups (I don’t drink coffee, actually) have grown to represent the personal and interactive richness New Horizons’ Coffee House Conversations has brought into my life through the many friends, new and old, it has drawn together to share an intention to better ourselves in the company of like-minded others.

Now Jack Slattery, my Possible Society In Motion Radio Show co-host, and myself are striving to bring that same ambiance to our expanded format of Coffee House Conversations by Conference Call.  Yumm.

My heart is already warming to the occasion, my mind yearning for the inspiration that will come of the camaraderie.

Umm! Coffee and tea cups plus a bit of a Coffee House  Conversation right from our living rooms (or wherever)!

I am yearning for the good times. I hope you will be too. And that you will join us for the ambiance, if nothing else.

Here are the details.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

On The Experience of Awe: The Grand and The Tiny

There is a wonderful definition of “awe” on the New Horizons Small “Zones of Peace” blog site. Also on that site are a handful of articles related to the general theme of “awe” as New Horizons regards it. Most significantly for me and the whole of what New Horizons stands for, at its core, are references to books written by our Beloved, now deceased community development mentor, Murat Yagan; many having “Awe” as a part of his sub-titles.

This should give you a hint that the experience of “awe” is right up there in terms of importance to all New Horizons is and does.

“Awe,” however, is not an easily described, much less readily attained experience. When it comes, rare as it is, it is truly a blessing of the highest acclaim.

I was having a text message conversation this morning with my dear friend, Chief Kim Dine, Chief of the Capitol Police (Washington, D.C. Police), about his experience last week of being totally on the front lines providing security for the Pope.

The bottom line here seems to be that as the Chief’s task was security, awesomeness took a bit of a back seat. Still my friend, the Chief, did report feeling honored, especially in shakin Olpool
Pmg hands with this most revered of spiritual leaders. But more than anything else he was  glad the visit ended with security going off so very well. 

Intuitively, however, it seems that Chief Dine, along with the millions of others fortunate enough to share a relatively close space with the Pope, experienced a touch of awe at those happenings. 

Suffice it to say – love and laughter, joy and light helped to make up the vibration we might call “awe” that surrounded the Pope.

Today I am rejoicing a bit that New Horizons Coffee House Conversations Volunteer Team, also, had a tiny taste of awe at our planning meeting yesterday.  Working with our local City Police at that coming together we began to experience the “awe” of a developing trust and unity as a functioning team. That was uplifting and inspiring enough to be awe for me. 

Yet it was only a baby step, albeit in the right direction, of where we want to take ourselves; from an ordinary community of lofty ideals to an exceptional community living out those ideals, day-by-day, for real. I am gratified to see us in this kind of motion.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Another OMG Day!

If you’ve been a regular reader of my blogs you’ve already come to see that I am a person of regular, incredible highs and offsetting declines, now and then. Born under the sign of Cancer I am, by nature, this way, along with a sensitive, extremely home-oriented inclination which you might have also noticed.

Why else, do you think I would have to almost fight with myself to leave this gorgeous mountainside abode I share with New Horizons?  I am, without a doubt, an earth-bound mountain woman, traveling constantly between heaven and earth – and – here is my playing field and launching pad.

I believe I travel more miles in a given day, without using a single frequent flyer mile, than most others would even care to consider.  The spiritually inclined would call this the life of “Shaman” which I readily acknowledge myself to be.

But how do those of other persuasions make sense of such proclamations, without writing off individuals such as I, as simply being navel gazers; a term I abhor and find most insulting? Suffice it to say, at least on my part, that my being blind has played a far from insignificant part in this way of being for me.
Statue of Helen Keller

Just as I was going blind, Labor Day weekend, 1998, the words below of Helen Keller jumped, dramatically, right across my path. (This is an amazing story that, today, seventeen years later to the day, I am incredulous at its happening. But I will save the details for another time.)

Helen Keller said and I came to believe that …

The spiritual world offers no difficulty to one who is (deaf and) blind. Nearly everything in the natural world is as vague, as remote from my senses, as spiritual things seem to the minds of most people.
I think my journey into blindness and out, after seven eye surgeries, would have been something much different had I not found those words that very day I lost my eyesight! If nothing else these words helped me never lose my VISION though I could not physically see with my eyes.

Nonetheless, being blind was an incredibly challenging and horrific ordeal that the words of Helen Keller and the guidance of my Beloved Spiritual/Community Development mentor, Murat Yagan, and the Kebzeh community surrounding him, helped me through and to keep finding the Light in my Darkness.

These are the elements, along with the gorgeous land I live on, that brought me a jolt, this morning, of seeing a definitive landscape in my mind’s eye, along with my very own detailed triptik, for a short term, mid-term and long-range plan, for my life’s journey from here forth.

Could it be? I am almost pinching myself to be sure!

Will it work out the way I am seeing it today? I cannot possibly know the outcome, only thge path to follow. But now I know to keep following the instructions I receive, make adjustments as needed and “just keep swimming,” as Dore, the fish suggested.

I have been following this blueprint since the day I lost my eyesight. The one I had previously conjured up fell by the wayside, limited, extensively, by my over-exaggerated belief that I was the ONE in charge.

Now, I am working off a blueprint in my mind’s eye with a “light at my feet and a voice behind me” telling me how and where to travel. My most important task for the adventure is to stay healthy which I do my best to accomplish, day-by-day, – and – be willing to take instructions. 

At the time this new plan came to me on the day I lost my eyesight, I could see nothing ahead and had only "blind" faith to guide me – and – endless prayers that I could survive.  Thus you might well imagine how joyful and free I feel today that I awoke this morning and could see, clearly, in my mind’s eye, a blueprint laid out for me – with enough details to allow me a bit of security and confidence.

So, today, as yesterday and tomorrow – and – almost every single day since I regained my eyesight I am celebrating and thanking my Divine Guide for another OMG day that I did survive my blindness ordeal and that I can SEE, physically and spiritually!

Nonetheless for those who are fully earth plane dwellers, I thought you might like to see what the practical side of this blueprint looks like.  Our readers, followers of like-minded people and supporters sometimes have a bit of trouble being able to put the moving pieces together of what New Horizons and myself are up to. Please do feel free to comment and ask us to clarify further, if you are inclined. We want to travel with you!

The organizational chart below for New Horizons Support Network, Inc. priorities is offered below to help us clarify the path of our shared journey a bit for your edification.

Read what we are presenting here.  Then take a leap to just imagine all our moving pieces falling into alignment from the highest ideals to the most practical applications, united with all the other beautiful projects going on each and every day, worldwide, to help make this planet we live on safe and secure for as many people as humanly possible!

Such are our prayers on this Labor Day weekend, 2015.

OMG! How grateful am I for a day like today!

New Horizons Support Network, Inc.:
Organizational Structure and Priority Areas

September 1, 2015

Monday, August 31, 2015

Rediscovering The Lost Art of Conversation

Or how the contrasting of Dialogue and Debate turned potential antagonists back into traveling companions.

It’s been a bit challenging, fun and, already, certainly interesting for our developing Coffee House Conversations by Conference Call forum participants, Jack and myself to delve more deeply than previously into an understanding of how principles that, if observed, can empower us, collectively, to, at least, come close to what we have come to call “awe,” the definitive antithesis of polarization and conflict.

We borrowed the notion of aspiring for “awe” in our human affairs from New Horizons recently deceased community development mentor, Murat Yagan, as described in his last two books, Ahmsta Kebzeh: The Universal Science of Awe, Volumes I and II.

While Murat’s treatises introduce us to principles and practices that guide us to seek the bounty of awe from a perspective that primarily merges (hard) science and mysticism, “old” New Horizons placed us, originally, on this path based on foundations grounded in psychology and sociology.  Well, I guess, these are still compatible and, the latter two, psychology and sociology, even allowably considered science, of sorts, on their own, albeit “soft” sciences.

Here are the principles we have settled on for the adventure to “awe” we are presently creating. Building on these, our last Coffee House Conversation by Conference Call was a lively and delicious experience, I believe, as we tried our hand at mindfully applying them. Please do join us as we work together and continue to strive for this pinnacle that we call “awe.” It is a most heartening respite in the midst of all the upheaval and chaos typically surrounding us.

 For future reference, you can also find these principles listed at this link

Contrasting Dialogue and Debate
Courtesy of Everyday Democracy

Dialogue is collaborative: two or more sides work together toward a common understanding.
Debate is oppositional: two sides oppose each other and attempt to prove each other wrong.

In dialogue, finding common ground is the goal.
In debate, winning is the goal.

In dialogue, one listens to the other side(s) in order to understand, find meaning, and find agreement. 
In debate, one listens to the other side, in order to find flaws and to counter its arguments.

Dialogue enlarges and possibly changes a participant’s point of view.
Debate affirms a participant’s own point of view.

Dialogue reveals assumptions for reevaluation.
Debate defends critique of the other position.

Dialogue causes introspection on one’s own position.
Debate causes critique of the other position. 

Dialogue opens the possibility of reaching a better solution than any of the original solutions.
Debate defends one’s own positions as the best solution and excludes other solutions.

Dialogue creates an open-minded attitude: an openness to being wrong and an openness to change.
Debate creates a closed-minded attitude, a determination to be right. 

In dialogue, one submits one’s best thinking, knowing that other people’s reflections will help improve it rather than destroy it.
In debate, one submits one’s best thinking and defends it against the challenge to show that it is right.

Dialogue calls for temporarily suspending one’s beliefs.
Debate calls for investing wholeheartedly in one’s beliefs.

In dialogue, one searches for basic agreements.
In debate, one searches for glaring differences.

In dialogue, one searches for strengths in the other positions.
In debate, one searches for flaws and weaknesses in the other positions.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Talking About Politics, Race and Religion – Happily

How New Horizons programs and projects moved from snags to synergy in a span of weeks.

Never have I noticed and tracked so much rapid transition and integration at New Horizons as I have over the past few weeks.  Apparently our day has come, or has it?

Now getting ready to move into our ninth month since launching our Coffee House Conversations On Race Relations – and -- with the force of another election year already looming over us, imposing itself in our daily fare of incoming news, we are seemingly ripe for the change to which these past few weeks have drawn our attention.

But the awareness of major headway, sitting now on the threshold of our New Horizons Small “Zones of Peace” Project, is only the beginning of this next phase. It is not the potentialities realized. For that much discipline, focus, determination, hard work and creativity are demanded and a great and good deal of community collaboration.  I must say, nonetheless, that I am ready for it all to happen, or nearly so.

The front story was a Coffee House Conversation by Conference Call forum Jack and I led, following our Possible Society In Motion Radio Show titled, “What if….?” That program’s design was intended to take the sumptuousness of the previous show, titled “Wild, Weird, Wonderful Ways To Rebuild Our Society,” to the next level of conversation;  awesomeness in human affairs. That program had left me soaring with inspiration on how to bring both science and mysticism into the applications of daily living,

But the conference call forum portion following “What if….?” did not come off. Instead we managed, by a hair, to only just avoid the pitfalls of a nasty polarized debate. Budding relationships potentially endangered by a tangle, not at all what we were after.

Thank goodness my longheld motto of Plan A, win-win, or Plan B, win-learn, got me through; win-learn it was!

The back story, for me, as the four blog articles linked below suggest, was that I, once again, wrote my way through the snag, built upon a range of personal contemplation as well as fruitful behind-the-scenes discussions, engaging others in helping me to define a more refined direction for our two conjoined programs, The Possible Society In Motion Radio Show and Coffee House Conversations by Conference Call.

The four articles that emerged, in chronological order, which might aid the interested reader in following the process that evolved are …
All this that is now unfolding day-by-day is such a wonderful opportunity for growing beyond one’s personal comfort zones in the midst of talking about politics, race and religion, incredibly challenging and potentially awe-inspiring.

You might just want to get yourself involved in this ongoing community development adventure that we are creating.  Take a next step by listening to last Thursday’s Possible Society In Motion Radio Show…..
Then join us for… 
bi-weekly on Thursday evenings at 7:00 p.m.

In both of these programs we will be introducing – and practicing the application of -- the New Horizons Small “Zones of Peace” way to talk about Politics, Race and Religion, a non-polarizing and a “feel good” way to converse about sensitive topics, or, at least, a “feel better” way.  

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Principles and Practices, Not Personalities

Sometimes I feel like I could just let out a loud bellow and scream. I get so exasperated with life by media, life by internet, life through celebrities – and politicians; a life that side rails true connectedness by the distancing we create from one another. 

Last Thursday evening’s Coffee House Conversation by Conference Call might have been one of those times.  We were, not quite consciously, heading ourselves into stormy weather, polarized discussion on the horizon; not the typically edifying conversation we generally have. 

We did, however, have a saving alternative; our dedicated group of participating contemporaries; like-minded when it comes to a devotion for ascending the potholes of human foibles rather than sinking into them. Politics was initially blamed for our breach. However, careful observation later revealed that there was more to it than warranted a mere blaming of politics.
Prompted by common sense I did my homework.

Next time in this forum, directly preceded by the New Horizons’ sponsored Possible Society In Motion Radio Show, I will be better prepared to guide this wonderful “ship of heroes” in a smoother sailing. 

I am grateful that I have a great team to work with  in this forum as our participants, as a group, are more invested in the community-building process by conversation we have been developing in this program, rather than “being right” or taking a solitary path.  It, sometimes, gets lonely recycling your thoughts and ideas all on your own; stagnation may sometimes be all you get for the effort.

In fact, I believe, the other participants and I yearn for the richness these discussions generate on a bi-weekly basis. (Perhaps you, too, have hungers of this nature. So you just might want to dial in and join us; Coffee House Conversations brought into your living room.)

In this particular segment, you can, nonetheless, hear us, well-meaning conversers, come close to embroiling ourselves in the fire of ordinary debate on its way to becoming polarizing.   We were, however, saved by the bell of “We are almost out of time,” pulling ourselves back from the precipice into a last few moments of detached observation.

Upon listening to the taped replay of the discussion, I could hear how we moved ourselves ever nearer and nearer to a plunge into the potential for darkness in ourselves and one another that we have repeatedly spoken against, adamantly. It didn’t take much.

For my part, one thing I learned, as the ship’s captain here, is that I need to take more responsibility to utilize my professional expertise in group dynamics, conflict resolution and community-building in order to be more conscious of the personal triggers in our discussions that can lead us into this kind of jumping off and do my part to keep us on course.

Among the most valued tools I have for averting snags of this nature in the future is a wonderful piece New Horizons has borrowed from one of our favorite community development resources, Everyday Democracy. We call it “Contrasting Dialogue and Debate.”  You can read our version at: Contrasting Dialogue and Debate.

Additionally, I need to take responsibility to see that we utilize the exceptional principles and practices suggested in this. Borrowing from Alcoholics Anonymous, I also need to do my part to make sure that I steer our discussions into exploring the basic principles behind potentially heated topics, such as religion and politics etc., that might arise through our discussions.  This too can be a guiding concept for avoiding communication breakdowns in the future.

AA has been stressing "principles rather than personalities" for many decades as a basic healing premise for the AA organizational operations. Just look at their track record for enhancing the lives of individuals and creating a sustainable community life through carefully designed principles and their related practices with this intent; "principles not personalities." Hopefully we do not need to only be recovering alcoholics in order to guide our own selves and to help one another to a similarly higher plane  of personal well–being and community unity.

Listening to the taped discussion helped me see that, if we are not alert, hot button subject can break down what might otherwise be fruitful exchange. And press us into territories that rob us of our precious time together. Once again I realize that it is the manner in which we discuss issues that brings tension, conflict, bitterness and resentment. Not the subject matter.  

Should you be interested in listening to our close encounter with a tiny bit of darkness, you can, by special arrangement, hear a recording of that particular Coffee House Conversation by Conference Call forum. Contact me, Anastasia at, to access to that discussion.

Better yet, join us for our next forum, Thursday evening August 27 at 7 p.m. Details at this link. The best alternatives do take some patience and practice. Yet some of us are making the time through our Coffee House Conversations by Conference Call, even when it gets a bit rocky.