Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Spiritual Side of “Making Violence Obsolete”

I am watching the web site slides from my “Birth Of A Movement” radio program as I listen to the podcast from yesterday’s show. Today, without the pressures of program planning tasks, time limits and being mindful of what I say on the air in terms of how it will impact listeners, I am simply reflecting -- and -- feeling about the experience of doing that show.

It was a glorious experience! I doubt it could have turned out any other way for me with the support I had.  With my honorary daughter, Terry, as my guest to help “lift” a program that would have been without zest, without her, I came away from the show as greatly uplifted, personally, as I hope my listeners would also be.  

That’s what a daughter can mean to a “Mom,” biological or otherwise, in a circumstance such as that one was for me.

The beauty was born of the co-creative, synergistic energy that only long term, enduring relationships such as ours, having withstood the tests both of time and rough waters navigated, can naturally produce. Out of this, the takeaway for me showed up in a question Terry asked, out of my sharing the part now being played by my prophecy in the creation of New Horizons “Making Violence Obsolete” project.

Listen to the podcast so you can hear the question as it is embedded in our broadcast discussion.

As if the answer was glaringly right in front of my face and yet unseen, today I am still pondering that answer; what is the spirtual side of New Horizons "Making Violence Obsolete" project?

I think that on the air Terry might have been meaning to ask if the prophecy was a spiritual encounter. And, of course, that is simply and completely exactly what it was! So I told her.

But when the show was over and each of us had gone on to our own private spaces and a busy day ahead too, the question stayed with me, leaving me to ponder, almost ceaselessly, about the spiritual side of the entire “Making Violence Obsolete” project. There definitely is one and its significance is fundamental. However to this moment I have found no simple or easy way to explain it, even to myself. So it occurs to me that the answer might need to be an unfolding one; a work in progress as each of us is anyway.

Maybe the spiritual side of the “Making Violence Obsolete” project is interwoven into the entire journey, from "there" to here wherever that may be, it has been for me to “birth” this new baby of mine. Indeed much of New Horizons, as it stands today, is like another child born of my body. Certainly, any way you look at it, all births are of the body, mind and spirit.

(Note: Terry and I did an earlier radio show on the topic of my from "there to here" journey a few years back on my Anastasia The Storyteller Radio Show. You might enjoy listening to it on podcast. The story is still mine though the context is a bit different. At a later date I will find the exact link to that speific show (July, 2013 or 2014) as time allows.) 

Later in the day, yesterday, Terry sent me two gorgeous pictures; one that I am using for this blog and another, equally as beautiful but not quite carrying the import for me of the one. The significance of this picture, to my eyes, is that I see me in the dark haired woman and Terry in the light haired. This is actually how we are in real life; Terry a reddish-haired, strawberry blonde and me a brunette. And, definitely it looks to me as if the dark haired one is more a mom-type while the light haired is more of the younger daughter type. 

I am certain that if you look closely at the image you will readily see what I mean about it.

Attached to the graphic, Terry had written this short text note  -- 
“Pics I had in front of me that helped me feel our heart to heart connection. Love you.”
Those words alone, attached to the images are enough to make my heart to sing. “Dayenu,” as it is said in Hebrew, meaning “it is enough.”

Another reflection is that the whole of Terry and I together on that program brought my mind to connect to the premise of the new project --
"Violence “could” become obsolete, “someday”, if we start, now, doing more and more of the right things and, together, stop doing the “wrong” ones!”
Certainly Terry and I have done a lot of growing, separately and together, to learn and do “more and more of  the right things and, together, stop doing the “wrong” ones,” bringing us to even be able to do a radio show broadcast together, after an almost thirty year, sometimes rocky, love-filled relationship. Our relationship definitely represents a moving beyond the "subtle violence" that impinges on any relationship, now and again.

I trust that with support such as I have from Terry (and Sue and Lisa and many others of like-mind with me) that I am going, someday, soon I hope, to get closer and closer to knowing and sharing the spiritual side of New Horizons "Making Violence Obsolete" project, as it has been for me in the formation. I think that will be important to know, at least for some of you. It is definitely a core element of the whole of the magic of the project

Meanwhile, try to find a minute or two to listen to that podcast and bring yourself, too, into New Horizons “Making Violence Obsolete” adventure; both the practical and the spiritual sides! 

You've got to admit that even imagining “Making Violence Obsolete” has definitely got to have a hefty dose from the far outer ranges of human consciousness into the great beyond. To succeed, even a bit, it’s going to take a world-wide village (i.e. many small “zones of peace”) to help us reach our destination, “Making Violence Obsolete.” Let's all get started immediately if not already done so.

In the words of Anne Frank -- 

"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world."

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Making Violence Obsolete Podcast: Anastasia’s Back Story

Attempting to make up some for the vagueness of my earlier attempts at personal back story telling on the subject of “Making Violence Obsolete,” next I will try to “say” in broadcast form what I haven’t seemed able  to write very well.

Please join me tomorrow for what I hope to be a lively and inspiring program on -- 

Friday, October 21
11:30 a.m.

Anastasia's Personal Backstory On 
"Making Violence Obsolete"

including Anastasia's Prophecy story!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Making Violence Obsolete And The Voices of Women On The "Speaking Truth To Power" Path

Early 1980s, Women’s Studies Department, 
University of Maryland, College Park

I am sitting in a Women’s Studies class (WMST) on feminist principles for business and organizations. My professor whose name I do not recall is describing what she calls her “feminist hit squad” approach to bringing her new woman’s ideologies into her private consulting work with male clients; males being the “executive” ruling class of the day. 

Her point is well taken, as a manner that we students (all female) might emulate in our own lives to strengthen our endeavors to balance the off-kilter power between men and women. Obviously, after more than thirty years later, I have never forgotten the lesson. 
Gloria Steinem
Circa ????

I admit to employing these “wise woman” ways myself on occasion. Yet all that the “feminist hit squad” instructs me to do is fight off the threats of disrespectful, inappropriate, often abusive male banter and other intrusions at my expense – in my mind, visualizing what I would like to do in retaliation for these assaults to my dignity, my space and my self-esteem; the subtle violence that isn't subtle at all when you are the target! 

Actually speaking “truth to power” (i.e. “male power”) is still a good ways off for the majority of us.“I am woman, hear me roar” has not really taken hold yet. And, often we wonder when? When will our roars truly be heard – and make a meaningful difference?

Seated in my classroom chair behind a conference table as we are that day, I am surprised by my professor’s anecdote; something is jarred lose in me as I watch and listen to her, mimicking herself in a business meeting; smiling prettily, looking well put together, ‘80s women’s business mode; definitely poised with a not-too-hidden aura of Gloria Steinem-style sexiness. Her empowerment is, meanwhile, limited to her conjuring up mental images of throwing daggers at men.

This is her way of modeling for us how she is managing, in this new era of women’s liberation, the slurs and power abuses of her patriarchal clients.

I am startled in some way that only now, in the heat of our present  presidential election upheaval am I examining closely; a scenario fraught, as it is, with meaning unexplored until now. I do know right off, however, almost instinctively, that just like me, as I look back retrospectively, my professor is feeling like a child, acting like a grown-up.

Genuine, full blown mature adult power does not need to take covert measures such as this!

“The feminist hit squad” is a ruse, a deception, a ploy, subterfuge with which we dodge the true reality that we women are still disempowered in all but the most minimal ways. 

“The feminist hit squad’s” ways are passive, secretive and collusive; familiar, typically, to members of a women-only society.  Every woman earns her place in this secret society as her birthright. In various respects we women have been managing the affairs of this society since time immemorial.

Looking back on that day, in the early 1980s, I can see that it was not so very long ago for many of us that we began to even glimpse at empowerment, let alone fully embrace  it; to be who we truly are, including that almighty turning around place of speaking “truth to power” most of us are battling still today.

Enter – Donald Trump on the heels of Bill Cosby. And, yes, Bill Clinton too, no matter how much we have grown accustomed to stepping aside of his dereliction of presidential morality. 
Or, at least, the presidential morality we have fooled ourselves into believing in, in our deluded fashions. 

Could Donald Trump’s outrageous antics and attitudes, perhaps, be bringing us to experience the fall of the Tower of Babel, mythical representation of how our different voices separate us, particularly insofar as the gap of gender of spoken language is concerned? 

Could it be that, possibly at long last, there is, at least, a meaningful crack in Babel’s Tower? And that women can truly speak truth to male dominance and disregard and have it make a difference?

Perhaps Donald Trump’s craziness; blatant and destructive as it is, is going to be the last straw needed to push men and women to be stronger together. And, that men like Bill Cosby and Bill Clinton – and – Donald Trump will be forced to face the full wrath and humiliating consequences from their fans; both men and woman.

It seems today that it could be, as moment by moment news is taking up for us women.

Could it be? 

If so, can I then dare to hope that Hillary will also face up to her disregard of other women, outside her elite circle, and someday, perhaps, do what I need most from her, beyond her political adroitness; apologize to Monica Lewinsky and the other women she has assaulted in her allegiance to Bill?

I will dare to hope for this. After all, anything is possible these days it seems.

Magic is afoot, the goddess is alive! 

The "Goddess," alive and well, is one of the most important ingredients needed for "Making Violence Obsolete" in any strategic formula for peace!

 "Her" strength is held as much in her "VOICE" as it is in her wisdom and good sense! She knows, full-well the not so subtle violence that is the precursor to war!

We are, after all, men and women "warriors" -- stronger together!

No matter who wins the next election, that will not change!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The “Narrow Place" Of My Yom Kippur Day

Wednesday, October 12 – Yom Kippur, The Jewish Day of Atonement

An almost non-observant Jewish woman such as myself must be a trifle creative if she wishes to honor this most holy of days on the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur, and find serenity in her alternative ways. With this thought in mind – and --  gorgeous as the weather was today, I set off this afternoon for a visit to the historical town of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, just steps away from my door, to celebrate the day.

With the two conjoining rivers, the Potomac and the Shenandoah, flowing through the mountains of Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia, the mountains of these states embracing the rivers on all sides, the panoramic vista alone makes a wondrous sight on any day, giving rise to the famous words of Thomas Jefferson –

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“The passage of the Patowmac through the Blue Ridge is perhaps one of the most stupendous scenes in Nature. This scene is worth a voyage across the Atlantic.”

Spoken eons ago, these words and the view they describe is no less majestic today than it was in Jefferson’s time. Aware of this marvel not far from my door, I set myself off for a brief, but beautiful trek to celebrate the Jewish New Year, with a ritual few slices of bread in hand; Pepperridge Farm dark puppernickel, no less!

“Slices of bread, you ask. Whatever for?”

The answer of which I was well aware was that it was, after all, the Jewish Day of Atonement.  And though I had freed my conscience to not sit and pray in Shul, nor was I given to fasting this year in an annual show of contrition, I was not off the hook for attempting to save my soul by any means. Raised as I had been in a quasi-Orthodox family, I knew what I was expected to do, in even minimalist fashion. Most of us of the Jewish faith, world-wide, do know that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” In other words, be safe not sorry.

So a few slices of bread in hand was my duty, a humble attempt to perform the customary ceremony of “Tashlikh,” the casting into moving waters of pieces of bread, symbolizing the throwing off of one’s sins from the last year passing away. The Jewish New Year being almost entirely about atonement, this small ritual was the least I could do. 

The implications of that action, aptly and equally, surprisingly akin to a bumper sticker message a friend of mine told me of with the words – “Look busy, Jesus is watching.” Just goes to show you, doesn’t it, how closely aligned is one religion’s perspectives with another’s? 

A minimal ceremony, such as this on my part, might not quite be what the Big Guy, if there be such as he, has in mind for the Day of Atonement.  But, at least, I was in there with something to “honor” my heritage and protect my well-being for the coming year.

That same friend, a long-time Harpers Ferry resident I happened to meet up with on my adventure, urged me, most fortuitously, to consider the rightness of how I had chosen to spend this most sacred of days. By her sharing of reflections on our shared locale, she directed my attention, inadvertently, to the Celtic tradition of places such as this that offer an opening into the magnificence and wonder of the presence of the Divine Spirit.  She called them “narrow places.”  And, of course, we both knew that our Beloved Harpers Ferry was among such places.

Later I found the tradition on the internet called “Thin Places,” places where one can touch the edge of heaven.

I offer here the words of Sylvia Maddox from “Where Can I Touch The Edge of Heaven? that heightened my sense of this wonderment.

“There is a Celtic saying that heaven and earth are only three feet apart, but in the thin places that distance is even smaller. A thin place is where the veil that separates heaven and earth is lifted and one is able to receive a glimpse of the glory of God.  
We return from thin places refreshed and renewed. We are graced with a new awareness of the thin places in all of life. Having seen the glimpses of glory in those sacred landscapes, we begin to see glimpses all around us. Soon the birds outside our window sing of the mystery we might have passed over in our busyness.”
And so it was for me! Such was my day with one more beautiful blessing received (I had already had several), traditional or not, that helped me know that I had without a doubt, on my own behalf, chosen the best place for me to be on the holiest of Jewish days, my special Yom Kippur.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

How The “Making Violence Obsolete” Project Was Conceived and Birthed

Update: Podcast Anastasia's "Making Violence Obsolete" Back Story.

More of Anastasia's back story on the Making Violence Obsolete Movement In Progress.

The "Making Violence Obsolete” initiative of the New Horizons Small “Zones of Peace” Project is not just a theory. It is a manner of being in the world, akin to leadership as a lifestyle, that I learned, living my life with all of its ups and downs – and – to which I have dedicated my life to passing on to others.

It’s a style of life, based on the “Making Violence Obsolete” premise, urging people to consider that –
"Violence could become obsolete, “someday”, if we start, now, doing more and more of the right things and, together, stop doing the “wrong” ones!”
In some ways this premise represents a lifestyle based on a certain kind of faith in oneself, one’s fellow beings and the Divine Power above all. Some days, such as in these volatile times within which we now find ourselves, a person takes pause to wonder if faith such as this is justified. Yet, for me, the quote below of Mahatma Gandhi is a living truth I learned that posits a path for realizing this premise. Experience, long held, has further substantiated it.
If a goose gave you a
golden egg, what would
you do with it?

“We do best to begin by carving out territories or zones of peace in our personal relations where violence and deceit won’t be used.” Mahatma Gandhi

I had these words framed on my wall for many years. So many I had stopped noticing them. Then one day I became aware of them again. 

In that moment I realized that I had come to know the truth of those words so deeply and thoroughly that I had been living them as though they were sacred commands to guide each and every step
 of my life. 

I have known my purpose ever since; I would carry the truth of what I had seen while I was blind back into the mainstream world! This is what a "hero" returning from a journey such as mine; a mini search for the holy grail, is expected to do with such an extraordinary gift.  Indeed I had come to know my rightful place in the world.

At that point, returning, as I was, to the mainstream world after my eight year term of blindness and recovery from blindness (1998 – 2006), I knew these were the words that could best exemplify what I had "seen" when I could not see at all.

As a result “Gandhi’s truth” became the pledge of my heart and soul of what I could and would bring back with me as my gift to give from my time away; knowing myself able, as a result of training and experience, to guide the living realization of these words of Gandhi as truth.

If only……… If only I could find like-minded others who would believe in them with me. If only, they too, would bring their gifts and talents into the “doing.”  These ”if onlies” manifest are, in good measure, what the “Making Violence Obsolete” initiative seeks now to establish. 

When I did, at last, return to mainstream life in 2006, after wandering around for a good number of years, like Rip Van Winkle, uncertain how to even talk to folks, as I had been away so long, I tried to ask people, “Do you see what I see?” But the answers I needed most to connect me with others did not come.

I had climbed the Mountain of Awe while blind. I knew, by experience, what it represented, both personally and collectively. But when I tried to tell of what I had seen there, it was as if I was speaking a foreign tongue. So I stopped asking directly until, after a while, people began asking me, “What is it that you see/saw?

My answers are numerous and all wrapped up in what New Horizons has to offer these days. 

This is how New Horizons Small “Zones of Peace” Project was born. The “Making Violence Obsolete” initiative is the child of that project. Both were born out of the ashes of what had been the "old" New Horizons. The Small “Zones of Peace” Project is the first generation after. The “Making Violence Obsolete” is the second generation.  Both grew out of the “golden egg” a goose named Marty Groder laid in my lap to help carry on his vision on how to make a better, saner world.

Apparently, many of us are now finding our way to one another, complete with words we  are able to speak and to hear. Bravo!  At last we are connecting! New Horizons Counterculture Community Development Experiment of the same lineage as its "siblings;" the Small "Zones of Peace" Project and the "Making Violence Obsolete" initiative, makes it all real, at least in some small, beginning measure.

Friday, September 30, 2016

“Informally” Launching New Horizons’ “Making Violence Obsolete Project “

With Anastasia’s Back Story, still untold, at the foundation. 

Tomorrow New Horizons “Making Violence Obsolete” project goes public in what is expected to be a rather intimate setting. A hand full of personally invited guests will join New Horizons volunteers and myself for an informal discussion on our topic.  My hope is that this group of people will want to join us on this new project with their personal commitments to it. And in doing so, to whatever extent is appropriate for each one, to help open my eyes and mind as to the next steps for “us” to take, together, on this adventure are we initiating– destination: “no need for violence anymore.”

As the moderator I will be happy – and – grateful to be facilitating the conversation that lies ahead. And although this program is unlikely to be the proper setting within which for me to share my personal story beneath the momentum that will have brought us together for this day, in the quiet moment I intend to start off with, silently I will be paying tribute to both the sacred space of the Frederick Friends Meeting House that will host our occasion, as well as the role model, my father provided me as living proof of how one goes about “Making Violence Obsolete, in day-to-day life. 

The latter, my father, is how I came to know and develop my part of this plan.

In that moment of silence, I will remember that my father, in the midst of a tragedy that befell our household demonstrated for me, ceaselessly, what exceptional leadership, based on love, authenticity and integrity looks and acts like, especially under stress.

My newborn sister had passed away after a brief few days of life, bringing my mother to have a nervous breakdown from which she never recovered. In her anguish she took to acting out in all kinds of outrageous and violent ways. A great loss had occurred for our family which was anguish enough. 

Then in the midst of this, my Dad and I came to experience our loving community becoming a hostile one toward us when coming together to support a family in mourning would have been more apropos. At this time our formerly close-knit community could have made all the difference in the world to us at a time of family crisis and thereafter.

But it did not! I know now that it didn't need to be this way!  

These days we are learning, with profoundly moving stories of community unity in times of anguish, how very much all people need one another.  And, how very much that need fulfilled can turn darkness into Light. New Horizons wants, now, to support these efforts in expanding ways that we have done on only a limited basis until now.

We want to be fully in the action to help make our possible society a dream come true.

But things like what happened to us do happen, unfortunately, too often. As it turned out for me, I would have been left without any of the stability, security and loving home life and family I had known previously had things just been left as they were. But my Dad’s unceasing devotion and his capacity to love as well as his exceptionalism as a leader and a role model, especially under extreme conditions, is how I came to know that “Making Violence Obsolete” is an essential and possible objective.

I learned that standing next to my father. 

So New Horizons premise for its new project, “Making Violence Obsolete” – 
Violence “could” become obsolete, “someday”, if we start, now, doing more and more of the right things and, together, stop doing the “wrong” ones!”
-- makes sense to me!

Now you have a slight bit of the short version of Anastasia’s Personal Back Story.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Anastasia’s Back Story (Almost) On “Making Violence Obsolete”

I’ve so much to tell but so very little time, especially this week.

I wanted to start sharing more and more of what it is that is behind the New Horizons Small “Zones of Peace” Project, this week in particular, especially as it relates to the vision I had that birthed this project. And how that story reflects my journey from blindness to recovery from blindness. After all that is what the headline, under this site’s title, "Anastasia The Storyteller," promises to provide.

But, of course, even the single project of “Making Violence Obsolete” is a long and complex story. I have given you hints of the story that I am trying to modify here for a blog format rather than hardback books. 

But I do want to do more than intimate my more completed message and the stories and rationale that has formed it. 

However lately I have even been thinking that if I could really master the design of blog postings to suit my objectives, I think I might just be more content with simply writing online rather than authoring full-length books. 

The six books I now have in progress, including my three still unpublished Random House books that I call my “Random House Trilogy” have their own back story. But I am weary of holding on to the many behind the scenes tales I have to share as teachable moments while depending on editors and publishers etc. 

I find myself these days wanting to simply be Anastasia The Storyteller along with my several other public faces: Anastasia The Super Sleuth and The Wise Woman of Elk Mountain and whatever else people identify me as. 

I guess my summertime slowing down gave me a hint that I might kind of get to enjoy that more relaxed pace. Then Labor Day came, quickly drawing me back again into high gear as our new projects; the "Making Violence Obsolete" and the Counterculture Community Development Experiment, began to take hold. So now I am not quite sure which pace I prefer although a balance would be nice, I think.

Nonetheless, as I prepared my notes for this coming Saturday’s “informal” launch of New Horizons new “Making Violence Obsolete” seminar – discussion forum event I had reams of personal and professional anecdotes prepared to share. Then, for that venue, they seemed a bit top heavy. So I cut them down, almost to the quick, deciding instead to translate my notes, in small doses, into this blog site. But that doesn’t quite fit yet either.

So for now I think I will just merely be checking in here in brief with my back story tales. And let you know that I think that if you are able to join us Saturday, October 1 for New Horizons “informal” launching of our two new parallel projects, “Making Violence Obsolete” and “The Counterculture Community Development Experiment,” do it!

Maybe you and I – and the others involved – can get to what I believe might best further our shared goals, breaking bread, hangin’ out and sharing our stories back and forth in real time. Don’t you think that would be nice?

The words below of Jada Pinkett Smith, the actress and singer-songwriter, posted on Facebook, speak volumes to me of a similar intent.
“Maybe it's time we pull back our resources and we put them back into our communities, and we make programs for ourselves that acknowledge us in ways that we see fit, that are just as good as the so-called mainstream." 
With hoped-for opportunities for storytelling, in the flesh, and other face time occasions in the planning works ahead, maybe I will just let myself a bit off the hook for today about giving you the whole parcel that I want to share. And just let myself be reassured that, at least, some of you out there that are my readers want face time opportunities as much as I do. 

So maybe we will make that happen sooner or later. 

Saturday, October 1 in Frederick, Maryland, not far off the Capital Beltway, could be a good time for us to get started! I promise, even our getting to see one another by itself, would be worth your trip.

Please, do attend if you can!