Sunday, August 20, 2017

To Speak, Or Not To Speak? I Just Don’t Know

Maybe the issue for me is what to speak, how to speak, when and where.  So, for today, while I think further on this issue, here are a few of the things that stand out for me on the subject of “to speak, or not”:

I believe:
  • In conscious action and conscious inaction. This means, for me, that like my dear collaborator, Quaker Sue, I need to find my grounding before I speak out and take a stand on things
  • Also, like Sue, I am an introvert. So I may take longer to consider, in silence, what I want to speak before I take action;
  • That the power of one might be simply to not act, unless it’s the right action;
  • That it is even okay for me to act outrageous, if it suits me. Or that I might express myself in a vague or an obtuse way; much like the Sybils of ancient lore, known to be oracles. Or, like Coyote, the great trickster, who might even end up tricking himself.
Then, there is the issue of bashing people.

I like the AA principle of paying attention to principles rather than personalities. The kind of stuff I have listed below takes us into the realm of finger pointing, in my opinion.

But it is only opinion. Certainly not the gospel!

 While there might be some "principles" and even good intentions, people get too much into "blaming the actor" rather than actions 

This morning I found the proliferation of people bashing, at the cost of respecting and honoring the dignity of others, a bit over the top; the arrogance and one-sidedness of some that I read.  

Here are a few things that set me thinking a lot about the issue of speaking or not, leaving me to accept that, for today, at least, I just don’t know.

For example

On the subject of Steve Mnuchin

Ok, so his Yale classmates want him to resign. 

Is that okay for them to voice that opinion? I think, yes!

But he thinks not to take up their admonition.

Is somebody in the right here, or the wrong? I think not!

What I think: Everybody’s welcome to their opinion. Nobody has to be judged as right or wrong, just different views. Let it be! Everything doesn’t have to be a fight these days!

On the subject of Ivanka Trump’s “moral failing” regarding Charlottesville and Trump

What I think: Come on, folks. I surely wouldn’t join in with a public bashing of my dad. If I didn’t agree with him, I might say so. But not on twitter, you can be certain!

On the issue of Tina Fey and her cake eating suggestion/demonstration

What I think: I think Tina Fey is a trickster, like Coyote. Google offers these words on the trickster –
“Whatever the medicine is, good or bad, you can be sure it will make you laugh, maybe even painfully.
You can also be sure that Coyote will teach you a lesson about yourself.
Coyote has many magical powers, but they do not always work in his favor.”
Enough said! Different strokes for different folks. And, “for everything there is a season.”

For me leaning in, dialogue vs debate, blogs, storytelling, writing memoir, tranquility and centeredness are factors in my ways and means for speaking.

But that's me! The one time I did things in a way that, now, I think was rather thoughtless and out of character, I didn't like what came of it one bit. In fact, I am still trying to clean out the fall out!

Hearing and being heard make a difference to me, but with depth and substance.

Like with so many other human issues, it takes a village” of viewpoints, types of people, activities; cake baking and eating, tending babies, moms and dads and kids, students and teachers, people doing repair work, doctors, lawyers, activists, priests and rabbis to help us all get where we are going.

Find your way, Be sure I will be seeking mine, too, as we go along in this brave new world of ours. 

P.S. I found this piece on NBC today, Seven Ways To Be A  Better Activist.

 You might find it helpful as you go along sorting out your way to make a difference in these trying times.  Good luck, whatever you do! 

Just make it something you can be proud of, for always!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

The Moments That Change Us And Help Us Grow

Please join me in creating “moments that change us.”

See details for Joining The Tranquility Diet plan at end of post.

This morning I started the day by focusing my attentions on “tranquility.” Thus when I read two  NBC news articles on people standing up for their values, in ways that truly resonated with me, I felt I had company on the “what to do” track rather than the Dark Side, “what not to do” trail. 

Charlottesville Mayor Changes Position and Arts Committee Resigns En Masse reminded me what Compassionate Warrior-types do and that I am not alone in seeking the high road when some are “going low.” The actions reported in these article were demonstrating ways of fighting back against perceived tyranny – with heart, not aggression and violence!

I loved it!

Others, also, were taking steps that aligned with “My Tranquility Diet” pledge, made yesterday at New Horizons volunteer work day.

Oh my, how wonderful! 

The actions of these folks were in line with the words of Anne Frank when she said —
How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.
These leaders were doing it, today!

Thus for me, today, as it was, yesterday, out here in Harpers Ferry, the natural beauty that surrounds one here was as much in me as around me! 

Yesterday, I started the day feeling tranquil and moved into joy! Reading these articles is now helping me recreate that, again, today. Perhaps where we look for inspiration makes a huge difference.

Yesterday we planted fall harvest vegetables. Dug into corporate records to get them organized, had our usual steering committee activities, assessing New Horizons plans for the Fall and doing our general reaching-for-awe practices. It was a lovely day.

We even made good use of the thunderstorms that rose up during our time together, doing indoor kinds of things, involved mostly with our corporate records straightening-out project.

For me, personally, the highlight of the day, besides the planting of more beans and swiss chard, was Sue’s working with me in such a way, attributable to her beautiful gifts as a teacher and healer, resulting in my making a pledge to both New Horizons and myself to make living and being in a state of tranquility for one whole month as my top priority. Today is to be Day One, heading toward my destination of "mission complete" on September 18.

Because we are in such a state of flux, now, at New Horizons which affects me most, as Executive Director and as the person who is now intent on "coming out" of how I have been, into something bigger, this seems to be a wonderful path for us all. 

In the midst of our challenges, I will now be giving attention to staying calm – and – happy under stress and role modeling it for the others, concurrently.

We are having a taxing time, these days. With the chaos Trump is creating, keeping our country in an upheaval. That -- and -- the fact that many people are preferring polarization, presently, to being “united states,” has created a situation wherein we are almost out of work. Thus we must now re-define ourselves. This seems, at present, to possibly mean that we may need to be more selective in choosing who we deem to be appropriate to work with in designing our programs. 

The part about my “coming out” is testing me to the max, too, as I am now having to walk myself back through all the many reasons and accompanying thought and behavior patterns that have shaped me since leaving the D.C. fast track. What a learning process this is, definitely making my coming out a process rather than an event!

With only a few elements, solidly in place, such as: 1. Anastasia is now “coming out” of her leaving-D.C. –created-cocoon; 2. New Horizons stands for unity and that mission must be preserved at all costs; 3. New Horizons is now undergoing re-construction to make way for our new face in the era of Trump. 

When so many seem to prefer polarization to peace, Coffee House Conversations are not, now, in high demand. I definitely have my work cut out for me, especially given that “tranquility” needs to be my over-arching practice in the face of it all.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Joining The Tranquility Diet plan.

In the meantime, consider joining me in pledging to make “tranquility,” or some variation of it, as your priority for the coming month.  This is truly a Winners Paradigm adventure. One of its main tenets comes from the following thoughts of Viktor Frankl, a prominent psychiatrist who survived the Nazi concentration camps. as originally offered in his profound book, Man’s Search For Meaning, on how people lived and survived that ordeal – 
On Choice & Dignity 
But what about human liberty? Is there no spiritual freedom in regard to behavior and reaction to any given surroundings?  
We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.
Let’s discover together where choice and tranquility can take us, in the coming month, to living with this kind of “dignity”!

If you would join me, it would be like we are being diet or exercise buddies. 

Even better, we would be fellow travelers seeking “awe” in a time of extreme stress!  

What might that turn out to be like?

I’ll be posting my side of the adventure. And you, too, could share yours, by posting comments to what I write. 

You might even like to join me on my Anastasia The Storyteller Radio Show for a discussion on how you are doing staying on the “Tranquility Diet.” (One show we have already broadcast, on this theme, "When The Force Is Disturbed What Do We Do"? is now on podcast.)

Or, email me at: with your news.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Blessed Be! Tranquility Came To Me!

After posting the blog article I wrote yesterday, How To Avoid Being Trapped By Dark Side Leaders, Whoever They Might Be, which I had named and renamed three times before I just let it be, I simply, and not so simply, just gave up. 

I wasn’t happy, or even remotely satisfied, with it, as I sometimes feel after completing a piece. In fact the unsettled feeling it left me with continued to nag at me for hours afterward. Still I hadn’t quite been able to get across what I most wanted to convey. 

Off and on during the day, yesterday, I would review the hard copy of the article I had printed out, constantly finding things to add or subtract; points to clarify. By the time I finally decided to  let it go, it read like a hodgepodge to me. So I decided to give up and take my lumps, telling myself that I, obviously, still had much to learn about writing successful blog articles.

Oh well!

My first moments of “letting go” were followed by a bit of turbulence I thought I might ride through by a lovely evening outside under the stars, sitting in my favorite deck chair, reading under an outdoor light. That plan fared no better than my writing; the residents of an unfound hornet’s nest, had freed up its occupants to plague my tranquil evening.  They, too, liked the light!

Emptying my sixth can of Raid, attempting to stake out my territory, with its accompanying hazards, by this time, seemed too much to countenance further, I gave up and went inside to continue reading my juicy, summertime, who-done-it murder mystery.

Eventually bedtime rolled around and a good night’s sleep beckoned. So there I went. 

Somehow, during the night, a tranquility I have never felt since Trump’s election came into my being. Thus I woke up this morning with a peacefulness I hadn’t experienced for months. All that seemed to account for this is that I had, apparently, become the beneficiary of my own creative spirit, struggling throughout the day, yesterday to express myself, trying to come forth through my writing.

I had, somehow, reached my own consciousness, writing that article for readers.

Had Trump’s outrageous comments regarding the Charlottesville tragedy of the weekend finally crossed a no-return line in the sand for me? 

Or, had my feeble attempts at trying to encourage the loyal readers of my blogs, reminded my own self of principles I was trying to promote?

Maybe later, on this volunteer work day ahead out here, today, at the Harpers Ferry Retreat Center, especially with time, on the land, to spend with Sue, my collaborator, I will know what I don’t yet know about the peacefulness I am now experiencing. 

But, for now, the one thing I do know is that the article I wrote yesterday, added to the one I wrote last week on The Power Of One, plus another I particularly liked, Winners And Losers: A Paradigm For Each, have, somehow, brought me a magical moment wherein I feel wonderfully tranquil and detached, though no less observant, of the chaos surrounding each and every day in this country, with Trump in office!

From this place I can see myself, more and more, continuing to be active, if through my writing, teaching and storytelling, if in no other way, prompted to taking action, prompted not by agitation, as I fear so many are doing, but by Spirit direction, the kind of urging that comes of Divine guidance, hopefully without tinges of the dark.

I will now do my best, having experienced what it feels like, to more and more, strive for that beautiful tranquility that came to me this morning.

As pagan devotees like to say, Blessed Be!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

How To Avoid Being Trapped By Dark Side Leaders, Whoever They Might Be

Watergate showed me how to avoid colluding with Dark Side type leaders. What I have learned is keeping me relatively calm in the era of Trump. Most particularly I have learned to not get myself too deep into taking sides.

Most of us can see that Donald Trump is one of  those leaders who engage those who are subordinate into collusions and conspiracies in the service of the personal agendas of each. But leaders of this ilk are all around us. Do not be seduced by them.

Don't be one of those who gets hooked by this -- from anyone.  Rather find your way to stay as calm and centered in the personal values you trust most in yourself and leaders who have been tried and true for you. This is a way, I have found, to get through stormy weather.

Remember Pinocchio? He got hooked, off track with where he needed to be going and paid the price. Be smarter than Pinocchio.

Herein lies the core of codependency; one person leading the way into the addict game, others joining in for their own gains. Check yourself out on my Survivor/Addict Inventory to discover what might be your inclinations in this direction; collusion with the Dark Side.

Then, check out this link, Explore Your Dark Side to find guidelines that can assist you in staying on the high road, instead of the low. This link, Winner and Losers Paradigms can also help.

The better we can “see,” each of us independently, as well as collectively, we can be moving to “see” how goes the Swamp GAME  and how to get ourselves out of it. Being in the GAME is dependent on an absence of dealing with full reality and the related laws of nature, wholeness, health, and integrity. Anyone of us can be in it now, as we deal with what to do when president’s lie and the American public attempts to deal with the darkness.

The new tag line of the Washington Post offers us a way to think on this –
“Democracy dies in darkness”
Our job now is to keep searching for the Light. And stay on track with it. This is the Power Of One. Hold to it with all your might.

Ten Dark Side patterns that can pull you down into the "swamp"' that you may be complaining about while standing on the edge of it yourself.
  1.  Being judgmental, rather than analytical about the multitude of sides that are presently vying for power;
  2. Becoming extreme in your views about the chaos currently pervading our country;
  3. Getting hooked on the excitement the chaos is creating so that your own, personal life gets off balance;
  4. Spending excessive amounts of time watching the news, talk shows that keep you emotionally engaged in the present upheaval surrounding us;
  5. Not making room for face time with family and friends;
  6. Allowing your self to become unduly angry about things you are hearing about or reading so that you bring hostilities into your everyday relationships with others;
  7. Operating out of an enemy mentality about others;
  8. Finding yourself becoming reactive or volatile with people who think or feel differently than you; 
  9. Allowing yourself to sink into depression or feelings of hopelessness about our country;
  10. Believing that you, alone, are powerless and thus allowing yourself to become passive about taking problem solving actions.
Here is another of my personal stories, dating back to Watergate, having to do with dealing with the darkness in the Oval Office, beginning first with noticing it. Then learning from what you are seeing. Finally, applying lessons from what you are seeing to know what not to do.

 I offer it here, partially, to illustrate that learning how to do right things can take time and have many root causes that make this a challenge. But hangin' in will, eventually get you to clarity and comfort. 

This is how I began learning from a dark and troubling time, the era of Watergate, that changed my life, all for the good.

Watergate, in many ways, above and beyond all, showed me what not to do and why; the consequences of lying and other forms of manipulation and deception. Washington, D.C., at the time of my departure, was full up with this kind of interacting; a complete training ground for what not to do

In August, 1974, as I watched the Watergate hearings on the several days I spent in a hospital bed, awaiting cornea transplant surgery (in those days long ago procedures such as this were in patient, not outpatient), I had nothing to do but watch the television.

I had been hospitalized for days already. I was at the point in my life, then, when I had just exited being actively involved with the D.C. fast track. Taking leave of the business I had started there in 1966, I had just returned to college to finish up an undergraduate degree in psychology and had simultaneously started a post graduate clinical training program with the International Transactional Analysis Association (ITAA). Although I still had academics to complete, I had fortunately been able to qualify for the latter, the ITAA program, along with M.D.s, PhDs, MSWS and other highly credentialed professionals, due to a special provision.

Theoretically Transactional Analysis (TA) is, at its core, based on applying a studied understanding of the individual personality and, most importantly, how that individual functions in the world, healthfully or, alternatively, dysfunctionally.

So there I lay in my hospital bed, having just completed my first two years as a clinical trainee in this area of psychology, TA, entertaining myself, to pass my wait time, by analyzing the interpersonal transactions going on before me in the Watergate hearings.

It was the day before Nixon was to resign as president of our country. And I had now been hospitalized for several days already, watching the tv; knowing, without a doubt, that John Dean was telling the truth and Nixon lying. In retrospect one of the things that stands out most for me, about these days, was my certainty of this! While those around me seemed to still be uncertain; maybe confused by all that had happened, maybe in shock.

It was truly shocking to us that our president would lie to the American people. We were still recovering from the assassinations of three Beloved key leaders in our country, JFK, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy. Additionally, most of us had been raised celebrating the lives of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln in annual events in school. Further, we were not too far away from the days when both Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his wife, Eleanor, had easily merited our respect. 

Thus it was oxymoronic, for mainstream citizens to consider Richard Nixon, at that time, the President of the United States of America, as anything but close to heroic, give or take a political or personal flow, here and there. We did not yet know how to think in terms of our being betrayed by someone in this office. Now, for better or worse, we are no longer so innocent,

Nonetheless, I was certain on this day that Nixon was lying, without doubt, while others seemed still not to be. Many years later I came to think that the distinction between the others and myself may have been that though, unconscious at the time, I was viewing Nixon, as well as the  conspiracies and collusions surrounding him, as an actor behaving as I had seen my mother do. 

Thus in an odd way, watching the Watergate trials and the actions that led up to it, was like watching a day in my family; essentially same nuances, same kind of lying, denying, manipulating and colluding. 

Growing up my mother and her family were a replication of Nixon’s White House! But this I did not realize until decades later.

Nonetheless, over the years following Nixon’s resignation, a determination and a passion to know and understand the interpersonal dynamics of Watergate developed in me. I wanted to become so familiar with all of this that, as a professional, I could become adept at transforming the dysfunctions I witnessed. 

I would, thus, know how to turn the dark side into the Light. This insatiable yearning brought me to study under the guidance of a psychiatrist mentor, Martin G. Groder, M.D. who had learned his lessons about the dark side as the second prison psychiatrist at the the federal corrections facility, built to replace Alcatraz, the Marion Federal Penitentiary.

My three, still unpublished Random House books, document the many theories and clinical interventions Groder taught me, added to what I learned of basic TA. That is what has brought me here, now, with every cell of my heart and soul yearning for the American people to rise above darkness in any leader and/or his/her associates.

I have been most fortunate to, also, eventually, long after my days with Groder, to find another mentor, Murat Yagan, who helped me go even further on the quest the Watergate break-in and resulting upheaval prompted. Murat and the community of people that gathered to learn the teachings of his ancient Abkhazian culture from him, showed me an even higher path to seek; all about what to do instead of not do! 

Watergate showed me what darkness looked like, especially when lies and power abuses are the primary elements of it. Murat helped me see Light and how to keep striving for it. Watergate (and ITAA and Marty) showed me what not to do. Murat showed me what to do.

I've been learning what to do instead ever since. It is definitely a discipline, most importantly shared with other of like mind who help one another stay on track.

I hope you are learning too, what to do. And every day, conscientiously, applying what you learn.

It is truly a life-long endeavor. But well worth the effort!

These are the days when “all good men (and women) to come to the aid of”….. truth, goodness and integrity, a philosophy originally attributed to Patrick Henry.

For “all that is necessary for evil to succeed is for good men (and women) to do nothing,” a philosophy originally attributed to parliamentarian Edmund Burke.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Power Of One Battling To Stand Tall

I was off for one of my vigorous mountain road hikes, a few days back, feeling a bit of a letdown. It was all well and good, on one hand, for me to be, personally, spreading my wings and coming out of the cozy cocoon l'd built myself in the nest of New Horizons these past many years.

On the other hand, I was feeling discouraged that just when we seemed to be at the top of our game, at New Horizons, having come right up on to our spiffiest marketing strategy for our Coffee House Conversations initiative, thanks to my dear old friend, Charlie Brotman, the world around us had taken up polarization as if it was the most enviable of human achievements.

Now, instead of having a place in our community to serve, as we had intended, with a wonderfully polished “product,” New Horizons Coffee House Conversations, designed primarily, to assist diverse community entities in coming together for greater unity, it was as if we were almost out of work.

What to do? What to do?

For a few days I felt like crawling into a hole. I was obsolete, out of the work that had become my passion. Sue, my program development collaborator, and I, backed by our board of directors, had taken the past ten years plus to create and refine our “product.” We were proud of the enhancements we had added to it, over the years, as well as the impact and positive responses we became accustomed to receiving from participants. 

However, the last time we had actually had a fruitful program had been just after last year’s election when we had presented a Coffee House Conversation on Overcoming The Polarization Of Politics. After that a steady decline seemed to occur. In retrospect I can now see a pattern, typical of  earlier crises we have faced on a societal level. 

Much like we had seen after 9/11. 

At first people came together and our Overcoming the Polarization of Politics program appeared to be going in a unifying direction. But it was not to last. Later I realized that only those of like mind had attended; those of a mindset to unify rather than divide. The next months, leading up to and following Trump’s inauguration, began to show more and more of the cracks in our society. Things were not heading in any coming together direction, after all, as had customarily been the American way when push came to shove. Instead we were growing more acutely divided.

What to do? What to do?

Then came last weekend’s tragedy in Charlottesville, Virginia, followed by the ignorant, self-centered, out -of-touch -with-reality and real people, of high moral values, integrity and substance, response of Donald Trump. Had things ended there, the hole I was digging might have grown bigger, on its way to becoming my new home. However, the time had come, it seems, for second tier leaders, as opposed to the top tier of the presidential office, to take the reins of being front runners, as exceptional leaders always have done, and show what they were made of by walking out on Donald Trump.

An article I found on NBC reporting on three business leaders leaving Trump’s American Manufacturing Council, in reaction to Trump’s lack of moral leadership following the Charlottesville tragedy, broadcast words of hope into the dark corners within which I was hunkering down. Then I recalled, once again, the pride of fellowship I had felt when Senator John McCain had stood up for his values regarding the recent Health Care debate and vote.

Yup! There it was again; The Power of The One, the personal power available to each and every one of us to make a difference by simply standing up true to what we think and feel. 

One is always the beginning when you get right down to it.

A little while later I opened my email inbox and found a note from a woman I respect to the utmost, acknowledging my leadership these many past months and years in bringing our Coffee House Conversations to our community. Along with her short message, she sent me a link to a resource, apparently published by the Southern Poverty Law Center titled, 10 Ways To Fight Hate In Your Community: A Guidebook.

Here is one of the suggestions I liked most, as it reflected so much of what our Coffee House Conversations’ philosophies are built on.
Dig Deeper 
Look inside yourself for biases and stereotypes. 
Commit to disrupting hate and intolerance at home, at school, in the workplace, and in faith communities. Acceptance, fundamentally, is a personal decision. It comes from an attitude that is learnable and embraceable: a belief that every voice matters, that all people are valuable, that no one is “less than.” 
Ten Ways To Fight Hate In Your Community: A Guidebook 
I shared this missive with Sue who breathed a great sigh of relief. She, too, has been battling the poison of Trump and his toxic leadership. She, too, has been breathing in the noxiousness of it all and not able to consistently move beyond the hopeless feelings this all has been engendering in her. 

Whew! Once again, she and I were on the common ground that was familiar to us as friends, spirit sisters and collaborators; Coffee House Conversations Team Mates! Once more we were able to be in our “can do” intentions of “thinking globally, acting locally.” We were, again, assured we were on the right track; the path New Horizons has actually been following since 1973!

We were heading into the Light. We were not lost. We no longer knew the shape of our future, as we had grown accustomed to visioning it, at least for New Horizons moderate range planning. But, at least, we believed we had a future in doing what we had grown to love, New Horizons Coffee House Conversations -- and -- community development and violence prevention consulting. 

Our time would come once again, as it had after the Ferguson Missouri tragedy of August, 2014.  

We knew, then, the right thing to do, Coffee House Conversations on race relations, police relations and general community relations.

People such as these business leaders, heading Merck Pharmaceuticals, Under Armour and Intel, had exemplified being right up there, carrying the banner for right ahead of might! And we would be doing the same where we could make a difference when the time was right and growing numbers of people could see that leaning in toward others and dialoguing to find common ground, across whatever divides, was potentially the best solution for overcoming polarization.

We don’t yet know how things will shape up for us. But we do believe that if the Southern Poverty Law Center is suggesting ways we can overcome the hate-filled days we are now seeing, that is Light enough for us. More and more of the people with high moral values will come together as they begin getting it in mind to act on the power of one. 

If we take this direction, we not only help ourselves, but we pass on the positive role modeling of those second tier leaders. Thus we shine Light, not only for ourselves, but on how for the generations behind us to progress on their path into the future.

The CEO of Intel, Brian Krzanich, took his stand with these words --  
"I resigned to call attention to the serious harm our divided political climate is causing to critical issues, including the serious need to address the decline of American manufacturing. Politics and political agendas have sidelined the important mission of rebuilding America’s …base."
Whatever this man’s personal agenda, his words felt great to hear, his actions inspiring to witness!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Winners Face Reality – And – Enjoy Each Day

Today is Sunday, one of the weekends two play days, along with Friday evening, also for play time. Relishing, even honoring our play days is critically important for the winning life, Trump time and every other time, in my book.

So I don't intend to be thinking much today. As I move forward with my new "job description," (however it shapes up) I don't necessarily need to keep at the blog writing and pushing for increased visibility to carry forth messages I've been hiding for decades. That would be a loser way, like my old workaholic way.

So, mostly I’ll just be enjoying the sun and the trees, today, the birds and the bees and the loveliest of all my "plant children," my brugsmansia. 

Today “she” is coming into full, intensely fragrant bloom, making the top deck of my house, my especially favorite warm, but not too warm, place to be, with my deck garden filled with trailing vines, flowers and fresh herbs and vegetables galore.
Isn't "she" spectacular!

I am out here in the fresh air and sunshine every chance I get.

Surrounded by trees all around, here I am nestled in to my mountainside sanctuary, writing, reading, contemplating and gardening, as joyfully as my hummingbirds seem to be, as they fly to and fro my bird feeder, jostling one another, as they often do in midair.

We are now truly into the peak of the season for gardening, correspondingly I am now into my happiest season of the whole year.

Today I have already picked swiss chard, green beans, tomatoes, eggplant, chives, dill and basil with squash nearing ready. Yum. I am eating plenty of garden fresh vegetables now!

I neglected to remind us, meaning you and me, that winners love nature and find plenty of opportunity to luxuriate in its verdant lushness. So today I added that item to my growing list of winner and loser characteristics.

I hope you are finding time, too, to enjoy the outdoors, today. I sure am!

Catch the day while you can. The sun does not always shine though we wish it would!


Saturday, August 5, 2017

Winners And Losers In The Time Of Trump

I was clearing away clutter, cleaning and updating my files the other day when I came across a graphic handout on winner and loser characteristics I’d used in one of my Random House books. I had also made use of it for workshops I’d done before my blind times short circuited my career as a psychotherapist and researcher.  In the midst of my endeavor this long forgotten piece struck my eye as being more than apropos for today’s circumstances.

You can see a scanned version of the original handout below. A revised chart is now on my Exploring Your Dark Side site.

The contents of the page got me thinking about our current socio-political conditions, which, of course. are mostly under the sway of our not so esteemed president, Donald Trump.

What does it mean to be a winner in this time of Trump and Team, I asked myself. And, more personally, what does it mean for me to be a winner in this era?

I have always valued success. It is one of the prime values with which I was raised. At times, however, the reverence members of my family attach to the attainment of -- money, status, material goods -- and – please don’t forget righteousness in this list, have caused me no undue amount of distress. 

To illustrate that which my family most prizes, the following are a sampling that illustrates that, if nothing else, we marry well.

By marriage we have, in our family rank, called the “mispochah” in Yiddish, a football hall of fame inductee, an academy award winning movie star, a former Ohio State’s Attorney, a world renowned cancer researcher and surgeon, lawyers, doctors, successful entrepreneurs, my father being one of these, and many millions of dollars in collective assets.

Our family is also rife with lies, collusions and a few conspiracies. Following the lies and the money in my family will most likely lead you to enough darkness to match Donald Trump and Team. No accident, therefore, that Nixon and the Watergate break-in scandal would have drawn as much long-term interest and conscientious study from me, as it has. The whole of it, in its myriad antics, was, for me, like watching the drama of my family, being played out right before my eyes. With my mother the lead character, Nixon as her stand in!

Nonetheless I have come to establish my own values and measures for success and achievement, finding a place for myself that I can truly honor. In my system, generosity, including charitable giving, without hidden agendas (in my family there is little without these), whether of “time, talent or treasures,” ranks right up there with health, family and friendships. The projects and programs of New Horizons have always reflected this focus of mine.

In the past six months or so, however, I have witnessed almost every endeavor New Horizons has conscientiously worked to develop and refine, since I returned to work in 2006, needing to be put aside for the time being. Additionally, I have found almost every perspective I hold dear as to how people treat one another and can best progress through life, optimally, called in to question. Still, at New Horizons, we are persevering, as we seek out new ways of contributing to our various communities that best represent us in these troublesome times.

With all this going on, I should not have been surprised that I awoke this morning wondering where true winning, for me, lies in the whole scheme of current ups and downs. One of several available definitions of “win” tells us that to win is to achieve victory or finish first in a competition. Given my family background, I have long known that such a definition of winning, as this, leaves out many essentials, denoting success, by my value system. 

For example, one day when I was a young adult, I complained to my most beloved aunt, as she was extolling the virtues, ad nauseam of the family’s prized Academy Award winner, that I was getting tired of hearing about it. She retorted, as if her view was the only possible common sense way to think –
If you were making the money,  ….(anonymous) is making we’d be talking about you too!
So much for my being in a family of balanced values! 

Oh, well, by that time I ‘d gotten used to my family’s ways. Rather than being devastated by such a comment as I might have been at an earlier age, I simply shook my head in wonderment -- and -- went on my way, once again, trying to find my own set of values to live by.

I believe I have done a good job with this endeavor; defining myself, yet still being devoted to the love of my family.  With my set of principles, I authored New Horizons Possible Human, Possible Society Study, interviewing countless individuals (2011 – 2016) in search of what our collective views might show New Horizons and myself about where we might best head in future days.  This, of course, was begun in Obama’s first term as president when progress, on a national legislative level, already seemed dicey. 

(I will be writing more on the study in days to come, along with updated reflections my board and myself are taking from it though our data collecting is still incomplete.)

Today, however, my mind is more focused on sorting out what handling myself as a winner in these troubling times means for establishing my new priorities; at this time when the political has become so very personal.

The emerging professional role I discovered for myself, as I recovered from blindness and returned to mainstream life, beginning in 2006, put me in a position to take what I had learned as a psychological-sociological researcher to evolve into becoming a "psychotherapist, turned violence prevention and community development consultant and trainer." These days, however, New Horizons and I find this area of application for our collective expertise to be a depressed one.  In other words, we are almost out of work, temporarily.

Overcoming polarization and making violence obsolete are not particularly, popular endeavors right now. Instead, thanks, primarily to Donald Trump, the general public, which is our market, is immersed in a level of polarization that has little end in sight, at this time. As for making violence obsolete, do the math. Polarization might as well be bed partners with violence, especially in the era of Trump and his ceaseless provocations.

Thus, there is little room, these days, under the Trump Administration, to put New Horizons’ talents and expertise into action, except on a limited basis. 

Oh, that I might have the talent of a comedian days!

Side by side with the true reality we are facing, however, is the fact that the study of society and politics, with an emphasis on the dark side of the latter, politics, with Watergate as my base,  has ended up shaping who and what I have become, at least professionally. Herein, may lie my salvation, we think. Few people, anywhere, know more than I, systematically, how to transform the dark side of society and politics – and – have a track record doing that, albeit only within select places that might aspire to build small “zones of peace.”

Still that is something!

As Mahatma Gandhi said, regarding world peace,
We must begin by creating territorities or zones of peace where violence and deceit won’t be used.

Of course, that brings me back to my original theme here, how to be “Winners…  In The Time Of Trump.” Not a thriving enterprise for this current time and place within which we find ourselves, presently. Right now, survival of the fittest may be all we can hope for.

What to do with this bounty of mine in this time of chaos has, consequently, prompted the need for a clarification on where I, personally and professionally, stand so that my views do not tarnish the mission of New Horizons, which is, above and beyond all, unity; 

Winning for many years, now, since my return to work in 2006, has meant  succeeding at building small “zones of peace,” in various communities, faith based, civic and so forth.  At this time, however, we have seemingly a limited range of viable target groups for this activity. Among our hoped for plans; Coffee House Conversations for seniors, a group far less likely, at this time, to be politically polarized, is leading us to negotiate a series for a chain of seniors communities and involve ourselves in another project that is very mental health oriented; an area I have been rather separate from, since 1998 when I lost my eyesight.

In the midst of this, I come back to my main point for this article and its relevance for me; “Winners And Losers In The Time Of Trump.” 

Taking up the notion of physician heal thyself,” I decided, this morning as I began my day, to take just one item, for myself, on the list of winner characteristics, as posted in my recent “dark side” site: The idea of “Winner Survivors” confronting and dealing with reality, as one of their main defining characteristics.
See the updated version
of this chart here.

Certainly I am all about surviving – and – doing that as a winner is always my aim.

So, I am asking myself, today, “If I am to live my life as a winner in this time of Trump and Team, what does that look like, on a daily basis, especially when my “job description” as a violence prevention and community development trainer and consultant” is now to be relatively inactive?”

Obviously, my new “job description” includes writing, as one of its primary responsibilities. However, presently, this activity is pretty much unpaid. 

What to do? What to do, if winning is built into my nature?

Donald Trump promised more jobs and more money for his constituents. What does it mean, then, that I have all but lost mine?

There is one thing I know for sure, in the midst of chaos. 

If success and winning are values I hold to be dear, but done in a certain way that is all about character development, first and foremost, which they are, I now have plenty of opportunity to “face and deal with reality” in a manner that can attract my own, personal respect, if not anyone else’s. 

Let’s talk about “facing and dealing with reality” in turbulent times.  I have lots of stories to draw strength from already. Being blind and recovering from that ordeal is at the top my list.

How about you and your stories?

How are the challenges of Trump and Team affecting you, at this time? How is your resilience holding up?

Have you found your personal path to being a winner in these troublesome times?  If so, how did you manage this?

Let’s talk about these items, if you are up the conversation. The topic might be the start of my next online radio show on Anastasia The Storyteller.

I believe, that the conversation of “Winners And Losers In The Time Of Trump” is a topic about to unfold, here, at least for a time, until something else moves into the fore. 

I sure wish that "something" would come, soon, like a week at the beach, for starters.

I could sure use a vacation!