Friday, May 26, 2017

Beyond YOUR Prison Walls: A Tribute To Ken Windes


I have a dear neighbor who gives me her cast off copies of the New York Review of Books. The other day, after not having received this bounty from her for quite some time, she bequeathed me with a good six months plus supply. Leaving me a note, explaining with her gift, I discovered she had just faced the illness and passing of her father.

How honored and precious it was to me that when she began to see Light in her tunnel of loss and grief, she thought of me, once again. So there they were, a whole stack of NYRBs for my personal indulgence.
To my friend and guide
in truth telling,
Ken Windes

I can’t tell you how very grateful and happy I was!

Immediately I organized these journals in chronological order, deciding to carefully peruse each and every one of them, from cover to cover, with luxurious leisure, beginning with the most recent. 

That one happened to be dated for March 23, 2017. As the contents of the NYRB are almost timeless, it was no surprise that what was written and published, more than two months ago, would be discussing Donald Trump and his near ceaseless, chaos creating. This is now our daily fare much to the dismay of many, including myself.

The article I dove into voraciously, I admit, was titled “What He Could Do” by Mark Danner.

Well, of course, this topic abounds ad nauseam these days. However, as the piece filled a good number of HUGE pages in the NYRB, it did have the added attraction of getting into a bit more substance than one can usually find in the print or online dailies, even in typical weekly columns.  I liked that.

Right away, when Mr. Danner spoke of our all now being Trump’s prisoners, he aroused a kinship feeling in me. Certainly that perspective is not far from my own daily distresses of which I go in and out these days. 

I thought this a well-substantiated piece, “What He Could Do.” Yet it evoked an uprising of resistance in me, bringing to mind my old and dear friend and mentor, Ken Windes, now deceased. I don’t want to write much of Ken here other than to state a few things in brief.

Ken was a former convict – and – protégé of my former mentor, Martin G. Groder, M.D.. This was during the time that Groder was the prison psychiatrist at the federal corrections facility at Marion, Illinois, built to replace Alcatraz. 

During that period of incarceration, Ken thought, wrote and practiced principles that were, in part, to become a portion of his personal signature as well as his legacy. He wrote of this in his piece "Walking Through The Walls." 

His main point, as I heard it many times over from him in the days I trained with him, developing skill at running what became New Horizons Truth or Dare Game, was –
We can walk through the prisons of our minds and not let them hold us hostage. Ken Windes
What I am getting at here is to state my own principle --
Donald J. Trump need not control your mind, your heart or your spirit!
Make up your mind, even though it might be a daily challenge now to walk right through those prison walls Trump is trying to instill in our minds, hearts and spirits, as Ken taught me and countless others in his lifetime.

This is some of what I have been practicing in recent days and weeks while I have been having trouble actually writing. I must do this and so must you.

I am back again now, I think, with more to come.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

I Signed A Mental Health Group Petition Declaring Donald Trump Unfit For Office


Today I am remembering some of the days of my life following my mother’s mental breakdown, after my little sister died. I was almost eight and had never known adversity at that age. I was very fortunate I realize now. I had had an almost idyllic childhood, embraced as an adored little princess in a huge extended family of loving grown-ups, nested, too, in the midst of a tight-knit Jewish community. My father, a young businessman was recognized as an up and coming leader of that community and the greater, civic community as well. 

Then all was dark and threatening; my mother’s mental illness looming over everything in my young life. The almost daily threats replaced what once had been, after she had thrown my father out of our luxurious home he had so prided himself on purchasing. 

From that time on, my mother’s beatings and ceaseless ravings that I should have died instead of my sister because…….; the reasons being numerous, became my daily bill of fare. My main fault being that I was alive and baby Sharon Iris was not, second that I was somehow “Just like your father.”

I have, long ago, with the help of psychotherapy, the sheer grit of determination and a devoted father who stayed as close to me as he could, overcome most of the debilitation these years of my childhood brought me.

But this morning I woke up feeling myself in the pit of despair like those years had held me in. Gone was my mentally ill mother. Gone were the years during which I had fought off almost daily bouts of feeling as if I wanted to die though my days might have been filled with almost undreamt of successes. So from where had this bout of fear come?

Trying to reach my mind beyond the darkness, seeking its promptings, my consciousness landed on a single source; Donald Trump as president of the United States of America!

Waking up to another day with Donald Trump in the White House sometimes feels like my mentally ill mother in charge of my little girl life; ceaseless chaos, lies and distortions of reality, fear for those less powerful (mainly me back in the days under rule of my mother.) Finding a way through the darkness to the Light sometimes feels daunting and exhausting these days. 

The single thing that makes it a whole lot easier, however, is that I know this time I am not alone in the craziness, as I was as an only child during my mother’s siege, holding me captive in her war with my father. 

There are almost endless checks and balances in our great country and the Constitution of our Founding Fathers. There were none of these for me when my mother held the reigns over my young life.

Last night I signed a petition asserting that “Donald Trump is mentally ill and must be removed.” The petition, originated with a psychologist, John Gartner Phd., who has been willing to break the Goldwater Rule and ask other professionals to join him. The rule states that mental health professionals cannot offer open assessments of the mental health of public figures. 

These professionals, of which I am now one, are willing to be rule breakers in the service of protecting our country. I totally agree! We, as mental health professionals, must take action and speak out that Donald Trump is dangerous, by virtue of being mentally unhinged; our collective professional opinion.

I am so grateful to not be alone in coping with craziness. And, so grateful to be a mental health professional, myself, with all the training and skills I have accrued, also applied to myself, and to know that I have a wonderful grounding in truth and reality that can help me through dark times such as these.  

How I wish such a petition could have protected my young life. But better late than never to make this world a better place.  Like Anne Frank said – 
How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

New Horizons Announces Draining The Swamp Initiative

See this post for an update on this project.

I am sooooo excited! All the way from the tip of my toes on up, as high as I can imagine, from the top of my head into the great beyond.

After months, since the November presidential election until now, I have been off and then back on my center; my serenity all askew. I could not find my inner balance point and hold it for long. Trump and Company kept throwing out hard balls each and every day that kept getting me off. 

But I have a whole tool box full of strategies, accumulated for the past forty years or so, with a side pocket of good old Goddess medicine. I count on that tool box, “The Wise Woman’s Tool Box,” to get me through hard times.  So, relying on that equipage, I think now, especially after yesterday’s announcement of New Horizons "Draining The Swamp GAME," I’m strong enough to assert that I am getting my usual balanced, grounded togetherness back from here forth! 

Now I am ready and have gotten New Horizons ready with me for some fun and happiness. With the exception of other life shattering events, I am planning on holding on to this new state, better and better in the days ahead.

(In the case of earth shattering events, personal and/or collective, we will take that that issue up, if and when it comes.)

There is so much I could say on the subject of New Horizons new “Draining The Swamp GAME,” which is the crème de la crème of New Horizons overarching, new “Draining The Swamp Initiative,”based on our old Truth or Dare Game plus the entire cache of old New Horizons evolved into new New Horizons!

Whoopee! This may be the culminating moment of my prophecy.  I think. I think. I think it just might be!  If not, I’ll just need to keep climbing the ascension of my life, have more hard work ahead and celebrate bigger later.

For now, however, the top of my desk is a mess and my various other piles of “to do” stuff are lying all around. So I will just have to wait to get more of my good news out to you and see where it takes us. But it’s coming, now wrapped up in New Horizons “Draining The Swamp Initiative.”

Keep watching as we unfold New Horizons “Draining The Swamp Initiative” and make it work!

Next I am bound now for a good mountain road hike in the sunshine outside my office window and a bit of toning and stretching plus a good, but delayed breakfast before I go.

See ya! More later. 



Tuesday, April 18, 2017

How We Play “The Games On You,” Mr. President


See Anastasia The Storyteller’s “The Game’s On You, Mr. President.” Saturday, August 13, 2011

It’s hard to believe I have been writing about the Dark Side of presidents and politics for going on six years on this blog. Back then I thought we had a hand full with the mediocrity of Barak Obama and the sludge in Washington. But we hadn’t seen anything yet until we got Trump.  However, maybe Trump is just what we need at this stage of the game, if betterment of our country is what we are truly after.

Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign, definitely makes the case, many surmised long ago; Hillary wasn’t a “choice” choice either. 

What else did we have but Trump? Are the Gods crazy or what? But maybe death and destruction are not what lie ahead for it. I see hopeful evidence of something else.

The way I see it, we have now gone from the passive and more subtle manipulations of Obama (and the Democratic party) to the blatant, bullying aggressiveness of Trump and team. That suggests to me that maybe out and out street fighting is what we need now, if the swamp in Washington, D.C. is to ever be drained, for real. Bad as this seems, sometimes I get to thinking this might just be the case nowadays. 

Seeking enlightenment, I recall the 1977 Nobel Prize winning work in chemistry of Illya Prigogine on dissipative structures. In this notable perspective, Prigogine tells us that if you overload an organism with stimuli it will fragment and reorganize at a higher level. Now isn’t this a good way to look at our current political and social crises? 

Perhaps the death and destruction of our democracy is not imminent; cultural evolution is what’s really happening here on a grand planetary level! Perhaps we are simply being overloaded with Trump’s data via Twitter and our daily barrage of every other chaos out of and around Trump’s White House as well as the upheavals running throughout our society so we can evolve to our better selves

Conclusion: We and the lives we are accustomed to are simply being fractured so we can transform.

Dontcha just love it? 

 I began writing, intermittently, about New Horizons’ Truth or Dare Game on the occasion of the 2012 election campaign of Mr. Obama. I was then watching and “seeing” the Dark Side of American politics from a perspective few others can claim. 

Because I had witnessed – and – studied Washington politics for close to forty years from a vantage place few others could, having been party to it, escaping from it, standing by the sidelines, watching it move forward, from Watergate on, I was intent on trying to analyze and remedy its manipulations and power plays. 

But the time had not yet been right to tackle Washington head on. In the meantime I put my efforts and attention into dealing with that same Dark Side into individuals, relationships and small group dynamics.  That was "old" New Horizons.

With a mighty impact, I am proud to say, earning me the reputation that “If she (Anastasia a.k.a Marcia E. Rosen) can’t cure ‘em, nobody can!”

Nonetheless, all along, I believed I would someday return to the Washington fast track and, indeed, have my small part in, not only addressing Dark Side dealings on the micro level but destined to, someday, assist in doing so on the macro. 

I’d take my Truth or Dare Game all the way to Capital Hill, I vowed in 1985! That was the day after I had spent the evening before with an old friend of mine; a dear friend whose Watergate office in the Democratic National Committee appears to have been the target for the break in (But who knows for sure?).

That bit of clairvoyance, gifted me thanks to my prophecy, has all along guided me in this direction. Now, I’m ready with my team to back me up! Washington here we come! It’s time for the Goddess in me to make my stand!

However, New Horizons Truth or Dare Game, of which I speak repeatedly, is only one vehicle, among many, that can assist people in getting to the fullest truths possible, consciously and purposefully and helping that truth to set us free! I am bound and determined to launch Truth or Dare in this direction, at its best, as soon as I can to truly be one of many helping to drain that swamp completely!

With Donald Trump in office and MILLIONS of people intent on not allowing him, or any others to slide by, with less than full accountability and transparency is another whole approach. Whether it is by taking to the streets to protest, calling your representatives in Congress, writing as essayists and journalists, broadcasters speaking out, comedians helping us find the Light side of the Dark through humor and folks meeting in town halls, we are now playing the Truth or Dare Game every day!

This is glorious!

This is how we play the “Games On You,” Mr. President. And, we can’t help but win, unless you, Mr. President, put your itchy fingers on that notorious hot button or take down innocent people by destroying things like health care, abortion as an option for those who choose it, cutting back funds for Meals on Wheels and National Public Radio.

I believe together we are stronger than you, Mr. Trump! And, quite possibly we have G-d on our side!

Of course, we can’t know but until we do, the “Games On You,” Mr. President!  And, those of us who don’t like you or your mean, nasty, manipulative and lying ways are going to fight you to the end!

From my end, personally, this what I have to do as my legacy, coming from being the stepdaughter of a Holocaust survivor, if for no other reason. “Survivor” is my key word here!

And “Winner Survivor” is how we play our GAME!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

On Why Presidents Lie And Some People Believe Them


Because I had just recently removed myself from the D.C. fast track; or the swamp as it is being called today. Because I still had friends in key places in Washington who were deeply connected to the center of Washington society and politics, including Watergate.

Because the Watergate break-in had occurred and Richard Nixon was being investigated by the Watergate Commission as he appeared culpable. Because the hearings were being televised and people, including me were drawn to watching. Because I was a captive audience lying in a hospital bed waiting for a cornea transplant and had nothing to do other than watch these trials. And, because I saw people around me seeming to believe Richard Nixon while my unsophisticated gut told me not to.

This is why I took on my very first super sleuthing adventure. Because I was in my first year of clinical training as a Transactional Analyst, I could analyze the transactions going on in this drama with my newly developing analytical skills. It was an intriguing exercise for a budding clinician. 

I needed to know how the president of the United States of America could lie to the American people – and -- how so many of his constituents could seem to believe him. 

(Many decades later I would discover that this pass timing activity of mine had much deeper roots in my own personal history. But that came later.)

So I dug in and I dug in further and further until I developed a passion for searching out truth and developed a great deal of understanding and expertise in handling these issues -- 
  • How the president of the United States of America can lie to the American people;
  • How so many of his constituents can seem to believe him;
  • What to do when the Dark Side of society and politics gets really bad, beyond the Pale.
These days I feel a particular imperative to share what I learned and what I have come to know out of my decades of investigating the Dark Side of society and politics in the U.S.A.. I want you to hear the stories I have to tell about my adventures having to do with this and on the subject above itself. 

I want you to tell me back your stories of Dark Side encounters and how you may have transcended or transformed them to a higher good. We absolutely must do this kind of coming together. Storytelling is one of the best ways possible to pass forward the wisdom of the ages on such things!

Let us join together, now, in telling our stories!

When I saw Alec Baldwin last Saturday, again impersonating Donald Trump – and – his play-acting devotees on Saturday Night Live, depicting believers of what many of us see as the dangerous manipulations of innocent people by Trump and team, my heart hurt and my gut wrenched. The faces of those actors called up memories for me of the disbelief and confusion people felt when Nixon’s behavior negated the esteem and trust people had placed in him. I felt sick.

Today, this anguish comes out of me in the form of my wanting to urge you to use me now! 

More than ever, after my forty plus years of building my life’s work and my life’s passion for sorting out the ills of Watergate -- and -- doing my best to deter their being repeated, I have discovered how to move past such transgressions, or at least cope with them. 

Whether these ills have to do with the Dark Side of politics, corporate manipulations, street violence, domestic violence or child abuse, let us to talk to one another and learn from one another, NOW!

Right now, coping may be the best we can do. That and activism. Other than these there seems little else to do these days to set things right in our nation.

So please do use me! I am one of your national treasures.  Perhaps we are all that for one another.

You might be asking “What the hell is going on here?” and “What are we supposed to do with this?”

I don’t have all the answers. But I do have quite a few where these particular questions are concerned. 

At the top of my list of answers is that we must hang together, now, more than ever to pull ourselves together as one nation, looking out each for each other.

Storytelling can get us started!

With love for humanity in all its frailty,

Anastasia The Storyteller

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

“Today I Saw People Finding The Light In The Darkness”


It is Saturday morning, 9:30 a.m. and my Spirit Sister Sue, Beloved board member and program development collaborator, and I are walking ourselves into the Clarion Inn Conference Center in Frederick, Maryland. Our arms are loaded with fliers to hand out in the coming hours and tri-fold displays to set on our exhibit table. 

The Volunteer Fair, hosted by FrederickCares.org has arranged this event. With the assistance of the hotel, the conference room sure looks scrumptious! White clothed tables, coffee, tea, donuts and so forth stand ready for a morning into early afternoon event. With every intention of creating an occasion to bring peace and social justice oriented non-profit organizations, like ours, together with anguished citizens. These are people, identified with heartfelt compassion by Andrew Duck and his volunteer team, who are pained by the state of our society and politics, hungering to put their angst into meaningful action.

With this as an agenda, our day ahead promises to be noteworthy. None of us have been called before for such as this. 

To officially launch the day Congressman Jamie Raskin addresses the audience. When he does, I know I am in the midst of kindred spirits. His words reach my heart,  my mind and my soul. And, I, like the others in attendance, am further rewarded when Congressman Raskin takes the time with event organizer, Andrew, to visit each of our display tables for a personable one-on-one. With representatives like this, a person can feel that someone in Congress is looking out for them.

Yet this is only the start of a wonderfully, inspiring day of connecting that lies ahead.

Throughout the hours ahead, Sue and I have ample opportunity for meaningful talks with attendees. I am struck by the anguish, the shock and confusion I see on faces around me; the hurt coming through their words. Still I am immensely grateful for our connections; many with substance. Attendees here seem to have moved beyond the superficial, often seen at gatherings such as this. But these are times like no other.

I am a bit disappointed that my three scheduled mini Coffee House Conversations never get off the ground. Perhaps next time organizers can arrange for a loud speaker to call people to gather for these. No matter. I make use of my time not presenting by moving throughout the convention hall, beginning new friendships with kindred spirits that may take root over time.  We are, after all, in this time of crisis together. And, it looks like we are all going to need to hang tightly together in the coming weeks, months and even years, as we are truly facing a time like never before in the U.S.A.

The Volunteer Fair comes to its end with Sue and I packing up to depart. I look at her for a moment, catching a look on her face I have rarely seen. Her eyes sparkling, she leans into me with a sense of wonder, telling me, from a heart I know to be frightened and wounded, saying these words, 

“Today I saw people “Finding Light in the Darkness.” 

OMG! Had the day not already been full and inspiring I could not have asked for more, but there it is; the icing on the top of the cake! My best friend’s heart and soul are soothed by what we had just experienced in a few short hours. I can tell that her takeaway is that she is encouraged, as I try often to tell her to be these days. 

WE, the American people, are going to be okay – by connecting and holding together with one another. 

Devastated, heartbroken with much unhealed grief, my best friend, Spirit Sister, is soothed down deep into her soul, standing next to me at the Volunteer Fair. 

Friday, March 31, 2017

What To Do When Chaos Reigns Supreme


OMG! Life in these United States could not be crazier! Still every day I am heeding my own council and doing pretty okay given surrounding circumstances. But a person can certainly feel like life is totally out of control and scary these days. For that I refuse! Politics is NOT going to derail my life and hold me hostage! Forget that option!

Given this attitude, I took an important step this morning, trying to bring an enhanced level of order to the chaos in my office; papers mounting up on my desk and everywhere. And, yes, I admit it, they were all over the floor too. Well, I’ve never boasted of having any proficiency in maintaining my filing systems. I have learned, instead, to include the top of my, often messy, desk and the floor as legitimate places for that system, uniquely my own. 

Don’t anyone dare touch it!!!

Over the years I have refined my filing system to the point that I, if no one else, do know, more or less, what lies atop these seemingly chaotic paper-laden platforms. I have also learned to recognize what it is in me that encourages greater order out of this chaos versus what it is that incites more chaos. 

These reflections bring me, now, to surveying the mess on both desk and floor of my office, contemplating how to deal with my latest accumulation. And, what is behind it, just when I thought I had gotten it under control a few weeks back.

My Truth, Here and Now Is This, Blame Game or Not:  It’s the presidential presence that is now bringing chaos into the otherwise generally serene life I live!

While the presidential campaigns went on much too long, in my opinion, it definitely kept me feeling off center. Talk about chaos! Even with the meritorious and often successful centeredness I was able to sustain most of the time, I fought hard to maintain it, day-to-day. I pinpoint the beginning of the chaos as far back as June, 2015. Much, much too long!!

OMG!

But nothing compares to the chaos I find myself trying to deal with, now, with Trump in office; everyone around him in one fight or another; for and against and on and on. Tough work, these days, trying to stay balanced, centered and relatively serene! 

The day after the day Trump won the election I did my utmost to find the center of my gravity.  It’s been a struggle ever since. OMG!  Every day it’s something. You probably feel it too, no matter who you voted for. Who doesn’t?

To achieve the optimum, I find myself constantly striving to reach for the heavens; the world of spirit far off; too much chaos on ground level. Let me out of here! When the world is in chaos and our hopes and dreams seem to be tumbling down, where else can we turn?  

I, of course, often get to heaven by way of writing. It is my pursuit of that pathway that is now lying all over my office. Filing, I have discovered, can be an integration process; a way of pulling together scattered pieces of myself and gathering them into some kind of cohesive order. I like the process when I am in the mood for it, even if necessity prompts me to do it. Today the filing of my office papers has become that necessary.

I think I am grateful for it; a nice way to distance from the news and such and the cold and rainy day outside.

Tomorrow New Horizons will begin our next phase of Coffee House Conversations on “Coping With A Changing America.” I will be obligated, there, to teach, guide and lead others to find their own high road, who are similarly stressed with our current political and societal environment. So today I must strengthen my personal methodology in order to carry this out tomorrow. 

This is not easy; the chaos of the world around no longer provides a stable environment within which one can get their own act together and maintain it. Was it ever?

Probably not! As the election outcome demonstrated, any semblance of order was only that; a superficial appearance born of not knowing more of the story of life in these United States of America and how it was being played out for untold numbers of others.

Well, the election results definitely brought me up short in terms of bringing me a broader consciousness of the world around me. For one thing, it showed me that I didn’t need to always be so concerned about “Thinking global, acting local.” There is plenty for me to know and do about “thinking national, acting local” that is quite enough to keep me busy for the rest of my life.  

Tomorrow New Horizons will do just that as a part of a Volunteer Fair where we will present three mini Coffee House Conversations on Coping With A Changing America. Seems like the right way to go. And I am grateful for the opportunity.

I guess when you come right down to it, life is always about winning sometimes and being open to learning the rest of the time
  
And, doing your best to help your community!