Sunday, December 25, 2011

What I See Today On Christmas Day

So much feels right this morning as I awaken to Christmas Day. Is it an illusion? Perhaps the concentration of love and light; the abundance of spirit that infuses itself into everyday life during the holiday season?

Of course, it is beyond my limited human capacities to truly determine that which is in the nature of wonder, much less readily find words that adequately describe it. It is mine only to revel in the mystery. On a very personal level the spirit of the season lifts up high for me in celebration of my son’s birthday. What a blessed babe, now grown into a man, was he; born on the first night of Chanukah which was also that year the Winter Solstice and a full moon, coming home from the hospital on Christmas Eve, incredibly profound for a baby born of a Jewish mother and a Catholic father.

This morning, beyond words, beyond the knowable, a sense of light and purity permeates my body, seems to fill the spaces surrounding me. It feels so ordinary, yet extraordinary that I am called to know it as awe. Is it Christmas? Is “it” me? Maybe the new moon, Christmas, Chanukah, the Winter Solstice all merge together?

Truly today I feel “that kind of hush all over the world” that speaks of peace on earth, goodwill to humankind. Stillness, sparkle, sunshine outside in the crisp, cold air of December.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Where Has Anastasia Gone?


Where has Anastasia gone that there have been no blog posts from her for over a month?


After Anastasia commented on the Herman Cain scandal, she began a journey to the deeper realms of her true, beautiful feminine Self and the mysteries held therein. She had few words with which to articulate these places that she was accessing.

The Herman Cain scandal and Anastasia’s commentaries on them seemed to have brought her to a place wherein she found herself growing very bored. Boredom is a seldom place for Anastasia.
Thus she felt called to observe the significance of her boredom with curiosity. Her contemplations on these, the Herman Cain scandal and her boredom, brought Anastasia to hypothesize that when juxtaposed with the other changes going on in the deep inner recesses of her Being, as well as those now taking place at New Horizons, there just might be some kind of link.

Might Anastasia's boredom with occurrences such as the recent Herman Cain scandal, contrasting with the near magical quality of her most recent program development efforts; the creation and birthing of the Possible Human, Possible Society Study, have anything to do with one another?

Check back soon for updates. More to come.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Washington Women: Real Smart or Real Dumb

Whoopee, all these beautiful, brave women telling on Herman Cain. I do so love it!

Of course, I believe the charges about Herman Cain. I do hope they drive him away. And, quickly as all this “sexual misconduct” stuff is so incredibly tedious, if nothing else. For me, Washington men, particularly those with political aspirations are guilty as accused until proven otherwise. My little flip on Constitutional rights. Too bad, too bad. Call me a bitch or undemocratic.

I also believe that Occupy Wall Street can only go so far unless and until we Occupy Congress and all those, men, the ones aspiring to do just that; occupy Congress etc. etc., get called on their games. How about our male protestors? Women’s lib was not particularly honored at those civil rights and anti-war demonstrations.

Is Occupy Wall Street truly different when it comes to sexual misconduct? I’ll bet there will be some gender tensions in those parks when the sun goes down, tonight and every night. Though women today are a whole lot smarter than we women were back in those bygone hippie days, that game still does go on.

I’ve got some stories from way back then. Bet you do too, if the world of Washington has ever been your turf.

The "little" mis-step of Mr. Cain sent me digging into my own memorabilia. Sifting through my photos of long ago yesterdays, right off I found what I was looking for; a “Smile and your beautiful,” posed shot of myself and the Senator; the one that pursued me, until I got really scared to say no, at least to have lunch. And a bit crazy, too when he began groping his way up my leg at a fancy Capitol Hill restaurant. Those were the days, weren’t they? The same as now with the exception that we women have come a long way; we’ve got sisterhood now; yeah for that woman power!

Nonetheless, it never has been easy, as you no doubt realize, to know what to do when you get phone calls from Capitol Hill, telling you to “Hold on please for Senator …..He will be on the line in just one moment.

My first husband and I came to Washington's Camelot for the light. Here I got sexually abused by that husband until finally I left. And, Camelot just kept getting darker and darker.

I started out real dumb. But I got smart. And as the years moved on, I left the fast track behind and I got onto that Washington game. Now I love it when women call the shots that’s how smart I am.

Bravo. Maybe tomorrow I’ll even scan that old picture to post here. Women's power can be so much fun.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Bravo For The Power Of A Woman, Speaking Her Truth

Our campaigning politicians are truly being vetted now, sooner rather than later, as well they should be.

Women Power,
from the ancients to the now!
I wish Mr. Cain no more than he deserves but let us stand by our democratic process to know what is true before we spend any further air time – and tax payers’ money to find out. Pu-leese!

Statements like the ones below make the past decades, fighting for women’s rights, all worthwhile. I wish I had a dollar for every Washington, D.C. fast track, “sexual misconduct” of my own experience. This one reminds me of the story about Senator etc. etc.

I know many other women who are cheering with me. A victory for one goddess is a win for us all.

I love it!

Cain faces new claim of sexual misconduct

From CNN, Monday, November 7, 2011

“Sharon Bialek, who worked at the restaurant group's education foundation until shortly before the alleged groping incident, said Cain unexpectedly put his hand on her leg beneath her skirt "toward my genitals." She also said he pushed her head toward his crotch.

Cain stopped when she protested, Bialek told a news conference.

Looking into the television cameras, Bialek said: "I want you, Mr. Cain, to come clean. Just admit what you did."
From the same CNN article, Monday, November 7, 2011

“On Sunday, one of Cain's rivals called for keeping the issue alive, saying the necessary scrutiny of presidential candidates requires Cain to answer all questions about what happened.”

This is democracy working! Bravo!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Alignment With Our Principles, Part II

It is easy to not see what sits right in front of us. We all experience challenges, at times, in grasping full reality at its highest level. Full and total reality must, by its very nature, remain in the realm of mystery. Not because we are especially flawed, but simply because of what it means to be human, biologically and otherwise. So it comes down to the dark and the light sides of being human; how best to see what there is to see. And, then, to know what to do with what one sees. 

When negativity arises, as it does, of course, on a daily basis in the greater world via the internet and our other high tech communication capabilites, people often become outraged, or at least frustrated. “What to do. What to do.” is one lamentation. There are untold others.

Wise Elders offer us the guidance we desperately need with their words; wisdom born of the ages and sages, as relevant today as ever it was. Respected Elders everywhere illuminate our paths that we may find our way out of disquieting episodes.. If we want peace on this earth, one of the central paths to that peace is that we “build territories or zones of peace where violence and deceit won’t be used.” (Mahatma Gandhi.) A simple solution, more easily said than done. (New Horizons Small “Zones Of Peace” Project, obviously, is a strong proponent of this idea.)

If not only violence, but deceit, such as our politicians and politics have degenerated into, is not acceptable for the fabric of our lives, how about protestors simply confronting that issue across the board? Not only on Wall Street, but in Congress and campaigns etc. etc.?

Bill Clinton, Anthony Weiner, Strauss-Kahn, Herman Cain, etc. etc., whomever the person may be, if not functioning with complete integrity, do they really belong in a leadership capacity in this country? We are called, I believe, to investigate why we accept deceit. Why lying is such a difficult concept to confront. Everybody “seems” to be against it in others. Yet in practice, we allow it to go by, as if it were nothing.

The essential ingredients that generate and sustain peace and well-being in a family and/or a community are consistently accepted as universal practicalities, regardless of religion. They are, also, readily activated, if we choose to make them our priorities. The seeds of the potential for peace and unity already exist in the individual, the family, the community, the nation and the world. If our innate human capacities for kindness, generosity, honesty, courage and so forth are activated and nurtured, abundance on earth can be established wherein violence and deceit become obsolete because they have become unnecessary.

This potential begins with you and I. Is that really so difficult to see? It does not really take a protest, congressional approval or legislation in order to act with caring, compassion and integrity..

Of course, I am unlikely to live long enough, at least, in this lifetime to experience such a state of conditions. Yet, it gives me comfort that I know this potential to be so. In doing the interviews for our new Possible Human, Possible Society Study, others are telling me that they see it this way too; deceit does not need to be an accepted way of life in America. Expecting honesty and integrity from others, as well as ourselves, is simply an arm’s length away, if we proclaim it to be our way.

Interviewing participants started right off as an almost magical experience for me. Although I hold these values that I am here expressing, enough to stake my life on them, I had not anticipated how close to the hearts and ethical practises of many others were they, also, being held. Then I started listening to personal stories about values and standards. Interviews soon became storytelling in the ninety days plus since August 1, when the study, officially began, I have already been given, personally, more than I could have imagined;

Already in these early days of the study, I am being privileged to discover an enhanced viewpoint of both the head and the deepest yearnings of the heart. As well as the heart behind the distress people are experiencing under current political circumstances. The heart part, expressed in detail, in these one-on-one interviews, has been particularly profound. There is nothing like storytelling to expand one's consciousness and our human connectedness.

The internet cannot give us this sense of full-bodied personhood, person-to-person. No matter how advanced it becomes. There is something one receives in close proximity to another that high tech cannot replace; the flesh, the facial expression and the voice tone are parts of that “something.” But there is more, a subtle human vibration.

Right from the study’s start in early August, it prompted so much interest I wasn't sure we could manage it all. I believe, this was because many people are eager to speak the deepest truths of their hearts, as well as their mind, if there is hope that it can make a difference. For our parts, now, a few months into the study, we are beginning to accrue a decent enough flow. And, our every success with the project seems relatively assured, as much as anything can be predicted in these days of turbulence.

The fire in my soul has been ignited.

More to come.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Alignment With Our Principles

The Fire In My Soul

Passion and determination are such vital next steps in moving through frustration and anger into fruitful peace-building action. You may recall (I will help you out here with the related links) that early on this year I wrote several articles about my passion.

More recently I offered my perspectives on accountability and responsibility in:

Today the perspectives I offered in those four pieces were, again, aroused in me by the handling by various interest groups of our current brouhaha regarding allegations of sexual harassment charges against Herman Cain.

Come on, folks, if we truly want integrity from our representative leaders; transparency, accountability and all that good stuff, seems to me we need to pay attention to the fact that our democratic system does not have much in the way of a serviceable ethics system with definite consequences for non-ethical behavior.

It was one thing that we were just coming of age – and made our discoveries way after the fact about JFK’s womanizing. And, to some extent, I believe, we can even forgive those who were too naïve to believe John Dean’s testimony about Nixon’s role in Watergate. That is until Nixon’s culpability slapped them in the face.

By the time Bill Clinton offered his notorious Map Room con, there was, at least, a consensus, more or less, that our Mr. President had not acted in a very seemly fashion, particularly in the prime of his occupancy in the White House, the scene, no less, of his misbehavior. But that was already more than a decade ago. Time moves on, we grow, we mature. And, at some point we really do need to clarify our values and back up our beliefs with relevant actions, particularly about the role of genuine transparency in public life. .

Not just rely on another media frenzy to shame offenders, or apparent offenders, into just going away. That seems like a cop out to me; a cop out of our voting public not truly expecting transparency. Our proclivity to feed off of scandal takes an inordinate amount of time and energy to clear up. And, the voting public not taking a clearly defined position on things like this is like letting someone else (in this case the media) be called out for naming what one might be too cowardly to speak of oneself.

So what’s it gonna be? Can’t somebody big and bold create a movement that speaks to what we, the not so mediocre masses, believe about even needing to deal with scandals in the first place like the Herman Cain news of today? Instead of there being more room for another round of predictable polarization dramas upon which to feed.

Rather than their being a viewpoint favoring the Republican camp (“Can’t we just please return out attentions to our blazing campaign agendas such as making the other guys look bad about the economy?”), I propose that potential political candidates have expected conduct standards to follow before they start taking up our air time. We sure do spend an inordinate amount of time making noise about all kinds of off the point situations. Yet all that gets accomplished is talk and more talk. Is that all we need and want?

Tell me true, if you know, what are our collective standards of conduct for our politicians to be? If we continue to allow whatever is behind scandals of this nature to come up, hijack our time and attention, and, then, be pushed under the rug, how can we possibly, with personal integrity, continue to complain about the lack thereof in our leaders? We have not taken the time to truly clarify where we stand with our values and standards on transparency. Or, would that demand too much of us when we honestly can’t be counted on to live up to this standard ourselves?

Or, maybe it suffices that the media hype game will be, as with New York’s Anthony Weiner, enough to just make an offender simply go away in shame. On the other hand, gossip and scandal exact such a price, if that is what Mr. Cain is facing. It does seem we could do a bit better in offsetting such problems before they get started. I don’t know how we would accomplish this. However, scandal and its accompanying media frenzy sure  waste valuable human resources.

Putting our money where our mouths are on August 1,. 2011, my beloved New Horizons,' non-profit organization, launched a four year study, the Possible Human, Possible Society Study. A further project, already emerging out of the study is our new Possible Society In Motion Think Tank.

If you live within the one hundred miles of the Washington, D.C. White House and would like to be a participant in our study, please visit New Horizons blog where all kinds of activity related to this project are posted  For details, specificaly, on the study see multiple links on top of our home page. Contact information for the study is at the bottom of the study description page posted.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Platform Is Bigger Than The Man

A pause that refreshes

Complaints about our president and his politics seem to have obscured the fact that along with electing Obama, we also bought into his platform, consciously or not. While the man, himself, may fade in his celebrity, perhaps, what may remain could be the platform he brought us; a president’s legacy already in the making. For a change, a message that is potentially bigger than the man! Memorable in the same way as John F. Kennedy’s words, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”

Doesn’t this message of JFK’s that moved an entire generation suggest that maybe we should stop bitching and moaning? We are to be working for the man; the good of our president, rather then Obama for us. Reciprocity would be the ideal but so what? Isn’t that what JFK meant for us to do, sooner or later?

Or, perhaps, all that is happening here is just another way of looking at our collective karma.

No matter, take a moment for a pause that might possibly refresh. What does “refresh” mean anyway these days, if not clicking on an icon that prompts the opening of a new page when the old one is stale and stuck? Hasn’t Obama led us to do just that? Haven’t we now clicked on the Obama icon that’s stuck and gotten ourselves a new page?

Here’s my take; a refreshing viewpoint, I would hope. I suggest that we, at least, take a moment and applaud Obama’s election for what it has brought us. Here I offer a brighter look than the run-of-the mill we have been taking up as our recent daily fare. After all, with all the attention, these days, on the love and light supposed to save us, how about a little of that on behalf of our president?

Who said we need a Messiah in the White House anyway. How about spreading that love and light on over to the White House? How about sending the intention for caring, compassion and forgiveness to Pennsylvania Avenue? Take a look at that idea of sending love as an option for sharing and caring and seeing those higher truths and clarity so often expounded these days by those with lesser jobs.

If we take a fresh look, we can even see that we Americans might actually be winning just when we are caught up complaining about all that we’ve lost. Hold onto this one as a part of your new paradigm thinking. By electing Barak Obama as our president, we also did elect his platform. Those of us who are idealists should particularly note this point, lest we become too cocksure and righteous with our judgments and blame, as the wisdom of our finally growing up takes hold.

Obama has, perhaps, ushered in a new image of Americans, akin to the power and the significance of an Arab Spring, if we, ambitiously want to carry it that far. We can see that with a bit of gratitude, can’t we?

My memory picture of Obama’s election win was that his platform called on America’s grassroots to become much more active in making a better America. That included the silent majority and middle America, didn’t it? Doesn’t that same segment of the population now include those who are offering their two cents, if not their sleeping bags, in support of one night or more on a chilly park ground in the service of protest?

With his election, Obama lifted the spirits of a nation, already disheartened by the economy, terrorism and various military involvements in the Middle East, asking us to expand our activism on our own behalf. So that WE could, once again, do great things that would make us stand up and be proud of ourselves. This is an action role that demands courage and perseverance. Who has the guts now to really walk that walk? Truly be a part of the solution, rather than just talking about our problems?

Well, come on, now. Aren’t some Americans doing just that; being an active part of the solution, with the Occupy Wall Street protests? This is a grassroots movement if there ever was one. Maybe people need to stand back, take a pause and refresh. We elected a platform that is bigger than the man. America 2008 seemed ready for grassroots action. And, now we’ve got it.

Maybe we are disappointed and don’t like the messenger any more than we did before. Perhaps, even a good deal less. (That fits for me who never bought into the "Obama as icon" thing in the first place. Nor do I know for certain my to-be-held viewpoint on Occupy Wall Street right now.)

In the meantime, how about taking a pause to refresh and spending, at least, one moment celebrating the message? Perhaps we do have cause to rejoice these days. For a change we signed on to a platform that was bigger than a man. Bravo. Our democracy works!

As for me, personally, I am still a long ways away from knowing who will get my vote next year at this time.

Monday, October 31, 2011

All-Hallows Eve

Another Anastasia Reflection On Washington, D.C. and Me
, 1961 – 2011

October has come and gone, leaving me wondering what it has all been about.  A flooded lower level, along with various other plumbing problems at our retreat center, currently in remodeling phase two, that took the better part of two weeks was my initiation into the month.  Then the demands of a New Horizons’ event that I strongly opposed, given a serious medical emergency in the family of Sue deVeer, my right arm and program collaborator, imposed on my time,  Finally, the past three days without electricity or phone service due to an unseasonably early snowstorm rounded out this month of mishaps. Or, should I better call these challenges the turbulence of a universe on accelerated spin? 

Today, the day of the Great Pumpkin, is, not only All-Hallows Eve, but also the ushering in of November, 2011, a stark reminder that Election Day, 2012 is not far off.  Oh my, oh my, the U.S.A. is in for an interesting year ahead as our part of this universal gyration.  Where we will land is anybody’s guess.

For my own particular contribution to the mix of what’s happening next, I designed a study, the Possible Human, Possible Society Study, to carry our organization from now through the next presidential election and then some. Sponsored by New Horizons, the study, officially launched August 1, 2011, seeks to discover (and share) some “truths” about our individual and collective yearnings for an evolving society with the intention of offering whatever we are able to social betterment. Visit our New Horizons Small “Zones of Peace” Project blog to keep pace of that adventure as it unfolds.

Bringing the "possible" back to the present, however, allow me to comment on my more current musings on a day when lack of electricity, phone service and defrosting food from my non-operating frig has me visiting friends after a very chilly weekend. Being a used book devotee, both out of interest and money management, I passed my just above freezing days and nights huddled under no less than three down comforters. Reading that which, by candlelight or flashlight, dim access to my bookshelves illuminated to help me pass my time in the cold, was not without its charm.  To my surprise, what did I find during the time but one more tome of the many in my collection of prominent Washington Woman of days past.

A particular memoir invited my perusal of the intrigues of a woman named Barbara Howar whose name chimed a bell in my mental archives of yore. A great deal more could be said here that I will save for another time on what this reading evoked in me. Suffice it to say that my reactions were intense and acutely negative. Thus on this day of the approaching All-Hallows Eve, Barbara Howar’s autobiography, a tale of a certain female power-addict, (Has Ms. Howar reformed these many years later or not? Google was unable to tell me.) sparked an idea. 

The Possible Human, Possible Society Study will need to explore the attitudes of prominent Washington Women in order to fulfill its mission. We will not be complete without it. And, in the case of some such as Ms. Howar’s autobiography suggested, perhaps, even consider this particular group, the Witches of Washington, of both the good and the evil.  

What magic hath they created; the wise and/or the wicked women of Washington; the power-addicted and the users, side-by-side with those that have woven their spells of dignity, inspiration and respect such as Katherine Graham of the Washington Post.

For now, let me leave you guessing as to what shall unfold here in this realm while wishing you a be-witching trick or treat night.  Or, that you find your way to joining our predictors of the future with a night of scrying in your own personal crystal ball as to what the coming twelve months holds on this earth for the U.S.A., give or take a week or so.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

How To Begin

Rosh Hoshana, 5772

Birthday Lillies
They bloom almost ever year
for my birthday
Rosh Hoshana came at a bad time for me this year. Of course, it was not my call. But the lower level of the dwelling I inhabit as property manager for the New Horizons’ Harpers Ferry Retreat Center flooded just in time for the beginning of the Jewish New Year. The remedy took four visits from the plumber and a mopping, sopping, wet vac-ing of many more hours than I care to remember. Together Sue and I cleared away more than one hundred gallons of water.

How blessed is New Horizons’ that Sue, my right arm, was in there pulling with me! Horrors, if it had been only up to myself and the cat.

Our flood had nothing to really merit any significance though it did have more than its share of challenges. Unlike that which Noah and those on his Ark endured, it was relatively short-lived. And disturbed no one, other than the few of us most closely involved with it, particularly me. It was, nonetheless, a humbling experience that I would hope to not repeat any time in the near future. Actually, I would not like to ever repeat it at all!

Today, however, the sun is, at last, shining and the mopping and sopping up is adequately completed. After weeks of rain that seemed almost ceaseless, along with our “nothing much earthquake” of a few weeks ago, it ought to be easy to right side things up again. And, at last, to turn attention to the “Ten Days of Awe;” the annual time of Jewish tradition and rituals for repentance.

Now I am faced with the reality that officially the High Holy days will likely be finished with me before I am finished with them. I need these set-aside ten days, annually, to examine the limitations of my ways and how to right them. As it was, however, before the flood waters announced themselves, I hadn’t yet quite figured out how I might even begin my personal, spiritual progression through this time.

One thing of my own did occur to me, nonetheless. It might be a worthy endeavor in my personal preparing for this year’s pilgrimage, if I took a look at my blog postings of one year ago. Having set out last year and having accomplished at the Jewish High Holidays, my pledge to write one blog article per day for each day of the ten days, a contemplation of how this had benefited me or anyone else this past year could be useful for me somehow this year as I set out to, again, clean up my proverbial act.

Outfitted with my Mazur, the official High Holiday prayer book, the five thousand years plus of Jewish tradition I’ve inherited, my friends, my family and my memories of those honored traditions upheld by my loved ones in bygone years, from here forth, for the next little while, I set my attentions to the “Days of Awe.”

Checking back on those blogs to see what writing them and living through another year has taught me won’t be a bad thing. And, hopefully, the Powers That Be, will not find fault with my good intentions, if I need to grant myself an extension, if need be.

Allow me to, officially begin with this, the traditional greeting from one Jew to another during the “Days of Awe.”

"Le' shana tova tikatevu ve' tikhatemu."
"May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year."

To Jew and non-Jew alike.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Out On A Limb, Again!

Another tale from the “Former, Anti-Semitic, Recovering Jewish American Princess

On occasion I am, painfully, reminded of the kinds of things that, originally, evoked my “former anti-Semitism.” In a few words I can summarize; Jewish, anti-gentile other-ing (i.e. blatantly excluding those not of the “tribe.”) 

I speak forthrightly here of my “former anti-Semitism.” I am both an American granted, by my constitutional rights, the right to freedom of speech and a 100% member of this tribe. Additionally, I have made sufficient amends to my tribe to have earned the right to, publicly, be my own kind of Jew! This is, after all, my tribal family.

Don’t let me, however, hear a cross word from you about Jews and those things that are Jewish, if it is not also your’s. Much less a speck of disrespect more than a current, negative emotion that you are intent on transforming to its highest plane, sooner rather than later. For myself, I am certain that I am only “naming” my view here in order to “claim” who I am without hiding behind another one of my outmoded masks. Then I will go forth, again, up to my next tier of finding the light inside the darkness of me. Feel free to do the same, if need be.

Here is my current story; another in my series of “Former Anti-Semitic Recovering Jewish American Princess” tales. On Tablet Magazine, tag line; “A new read on Jewish life,” which I love for its like-mindedness with my personal Jewish American values (or is that American Jewish), the following occurred this week.

A self-identified “shiksa” (non-Jewish woman), no older than twenty-five, published a bold and beautiful article of her adolescent into adulthood, near-hero worship of Jews and Jewish culture. For me, the article, “Counterlife” by Alice Gregory, was one of the most compelling pieces I have read. I wish I could express myself as well.

Perhaps Ms. Gregory’s article touched me so deeply because, first, I, too, grew up in California as a teenager, as did she. So I could easily “feel” the California energy of which she spoke. Secondly, like the young author, I have lived my entire adult life, not in NYC with its rampant Jewish population, but not far from it in the Washington, D.C. area, still a far cry from California. Thirdly, though I am 100% Jewish, like Ms. Gregory, I, also, have had massive identity issues that cross the lines between Jewish and gentile. Contrary to Ms. Gregory, however, when I left the home of my very observant Jewish family, I had, by choice, almost no friends who were Jewish. She had few that were gentile.

Unfortunately, this well-articulated author got trashed by too many of her commenting readers in response to her her offering. Instead of celebrating it, her critics tore her piece apart in a most condemnatory fashion; their censuring done by reproaching her for what I viewed as an honoring of our tribe and its members, in spite of their blemishes. How dare a shiksa take the liberty to love the Jews!

Such gross discourtesy; unsavory examples of Jews not welcoming “others” into our elite circle, Rather, her disapproving commentators made it a point to demonstrate just how arrogant and excluding Jews can be; in my opinion, an open door invitation to the very negativity that sparks divisiveness and attracts anti-Semitism. There is a cost to elitist comments such as these.

Where, as a group, we could have graciously received Ms. Gregory’s bold and beautiful article in the spirit in which I feel certain it was offered. Instead we turned her appreciation of our people, including our eccentricities, back on her with pettiness. By their comments, these readers illustrated Ms. Gregory’s well-made point.

“….. we—the goyim who aspire to some cursory definition of Jewishness—see you in a different way than you see yourselves.”

Were these petty comments representative of how modern-days Jews want to be viewed?

In so transparently presenting herself, as Alice Gregory did, she provided a gift to Jews and gentiles. We Jews need some honest input from those outside our tribal limits such as her’s. And, there is no reason we cannot, also, do with some added adoration, even from adolescent idealists. There are no limits to the assistance we all need to cross the barriers of whatever it is that separates us.

So be it! When non-Jews speak similarly about Jews and those things Jewish as did these disdainful commentators, I would be equally incensed. Such an absence of tribal dignity and manners is painful to witness.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Awe Is Such A Challenging Mountain To Climb

Washington, D.C. and Me (1961 – 2011)

January, 2009: Upon returning from South America, "The Study Of The Possible Human In The Possible Society Within The One Hundred Mile Radius Of The Washington, D.C. White House" came into being.   

I didn’t particularly enjoy my sojourn to South America in November and December, 2008. But it had been an all expenses paid trip at a point when I had nothing more pressing to do. My assignment had been to accompany a coaching client of mine to Ecuador while she attended to a personal matter. So I packed my bags and off I went, open to the experience.

Besides feeling wearied by the daily demands of my professional duties, I had little to show for the trip, upon my return, other than a mild case of Montezuma’s revenge and some brilliantly colored, indigenous crafted works. It had been an interesting passing of time. And, I had returned enlightened in a number of ways. Not the least being that the South Americans I had met were more than a bit curious as to the significance we Americans were attaching to the election of our first African American president.

As I had made a ritualized return to Washington, D.C. via Metro rail on the Friday following Obama’s election, I could not dismiss, out of hand, the impact this election had made on me. A surge of joy and hope had precipitated the pilgrimage. Long ago, on the heels of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., even a love of the city I had come to call home, could not engage my optimism about hanging out in D.C.. Certainly not enough to attract my former youthful anticipation.

Like many others who came to fear a trip into the district, after the riots, I grew accustomed to avoiding D.C. if I could. Part of the difficulty for those who, like myself, worked in Washington, was that avoidance was more easily said than done. I still had an office at 18th and K so I could not just up and avoid it. (See "Extended Biography" section at this link. I was not yet a psychotherapist but very much involved in the Washington, D.C. fast track life.) Yet many of us began to look to the Virginia and Maryland suburbs for our comings and goings. Over time, I believe, we did not even notice the change in our entertainment and local travel habits that evolved.

As Washington burned, amidst the riots after King’s assassination, I watched from my high rise apartment building near the Pentagon. At first I thought the smoky haze I was seeing only an uprising of flour from the Washington Flour Company in Georgetown just across the river. Of course, I was wrong. Washington was burning and with those riots so were the dreams of Camelot for which I had come here.

Thus I was not fool enough any longer to invest in ideals, particularly of politicians, without proof by actions. Though Obama’s election inspired me, I had been around the Washington game too long to attach much credence to the promised changes ahead. No Messiah was expected by me from the man. No Gandhi, Martin Luther King or even another JFK was anticipated. I had been there and done that. My innocence had been shattered by assassinations; Watergate the final act for me.

Still I am an optimist by nature. Though I thought Obama naïve, I was all about giving this upstart new president the best support I could muster. So, upon my return from South America, I set out to discover, by doing a study, how the other constituents within a one hundred mile radius of the White House might walk their walk, if we were truly about supporting Mr. Obama’s promises. I knew plenty of other folks who would do their utmost also. Still I had seen changes in administration come and go. I kind of figured I knew what to expect of the talkers.

I had, however, a lot of other priorities on my desk so the study sat on the shelf. Then in late July of this year, in the midst of the massive political polarization of the debt ceiling debates, it beckoned to me.

“Use me! Use me! the study called out to me from its place on my shelf. And, I listened, took heed and some action.

Now that little idea that came to me as I unpacked my belongings from my trip to Ecuador is off and running like a fast moving hurricane. Check it out. Keep pace with its progress as off it goes.

Where it will land nobody knows. However, knowing Washington politics, as I do, some of what we shall see should be fairly predictable. On the other hand, who could have foretold that which September 11, 2001 would bring us or the morning after when we Americans came together for a brief time.

After all, whoever said that climbing the Mountain of Awe was anything short of climbing Mt Everest and then some.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

911 As Seen Through A Waxed Paper Veil: A Personal Story Of Spiritual Clarity

For me September 11, 2001 is seen as if through a waxed paper veil. I was blind in the year 2001. But not “black blind.” “Blind” has many shades to it. A metaphor, if you think about it, for psychological and spiritual blindness as well as for actual physical impairment.

Sometimes what the blind person sees is “black blind.” Sometimes, as for me, blind allows in varying amounts of light. Notice, again, the metaphor.  How often do we “blind” ourselves to what is really going on, yet simultaneously “know” that we are not fully allowing ourselves to “see”? The “emperor has no clothes,” we say and are satisfied.

In blindness, I could see, at least enough to make out vague shapes. Occasionally, muted colors could be distinguished. (That is what I am seeing now in my recently blinded right eye.) “Blind people” know this distinction, making use of even the smallest bits of light to accomplish amazing feats for daily survival. Some have gone as far as to pass as “sighted,” obtaining employment, not otherwise granted to a blind person, and, on occasion, even to risk driving. One can be quite clever at doing whatever one must when survival is at stake.

I learned to walk on the mountain road near my home by being hyper vigilant; extraordinarily cautious and alert to the sounds of the infrequently approaching car. There are very occasional cars and trucks up here in the mountains. On weekends a burst, now and then, of a motorcycle brigade. But who cannot hear the oncoming sounds of an approaching Harley?

Motorcyclists, particularly, love a ride through here on a stolen autumn weekday or weekend. When you can “see” it, sometimes it is almost breathtaking where I live, especially when the leaves are turning. But, then, of course, I have my biases.

The most significant trick, I discovered after losing my eyesight, so as to continue being able to walk my beloved mountain road, was that I could make out the difference between the black top of the road and the various ground covers with my feet as well as through the haze that veiled my vision, if I was very careful. That is how I managed to continue my walks. And, that is how I “saw” 911 that day of those horrific terrorist attacks; “feeling” my way and “seeing” through a veil of haze like waxed paper.

Because I was blind at the time, the televised sight of the buildings of the World Trade Center crumbling was markedly indistinct for me. So I immediately responded to what was happening, spiritually. That is what I had become used to, unable to rely on my eyesight. As Helen Keller noted:

“The spiritual world offers no difficulty to one who is deaf and blind. Nearly everything in the natural world is as vague, as remote from my senses, as spiritual things seem to the minds of most people.”

Before I lost my eyesight I saw the world in my self determined way with the imperatives I had been reared to value; material success and survival. As I matured, I added psychological well being to the mix. However, although I was brought up in a traditional Jewish family, transitioning from Orthodox Judaism into Conservative as they moved from being Eastern European immigrants into twentieth century assimilation in America, my spirituality was my own creation. For the uninformed or misinformed, being “Jewish” is not necessarily about being spiritual. For me, as it turns out, “Jewish” is primarily about culture.

Thus, my spirituality had come upon me as a surprise on New Year’s Day, 1983, as I walked out of the movie “Gandhi.” Having just seen the story of this man’s life on the big screen had brought me, within hours, head first into my first out of body experience. However, even with that auspicious beginning, it took my losing my eyesight in 1998 to really get it that I was not the main “One” in charge of my destiny. Surrender comes to us with its various, challenging lessons. Losing my eyesight was, perhaps, my biggest test to date though, not by far, the only one.

Since I have regained my eyesight and then, finally, returned to work in 2006, learning how to navigate back and forth between the spiritual life I had developed in blindness and the physical plane has significantly tested me, again. I don’t know, yet, which plane tests me more. However on September 11, 2001, I had barely more than the spiritual. With the loss of one’s eyesight a major way of coping can be to narrow in one’s field of functioning. Certainly this is what I did. Unable to see physically and thus unable to drive or obtain alternative transportation, my mountainside home became my fortress.

In this narrowly defined physical world that I had been living in for more than three years on September 11, 2001, I saw the terrorist attacks on the towers of the World Trade Center, in Shanksville, Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon primarily through the perspective of a mystical visioning. While others watched the unfolding tragedy at Ground Zero and elsewhere around the country on television, I observed it through a lens of divine proclamation; the lens to the world as I had come to see it in blindness.

That was all I could see, beyond that hazy veil that separated me from the outer world outside my protected fortress.

As I viewed the horrifying scenes of 911, as soon as myself and my property manager of that time, Scott, were alerted by an urgent phone call from Scott’s mother, I “saw” that a message of Divine proportion had been sent to America. Not simply from Al Qaeda, as later it turned out to be, but from the grand Cosmic Intelligence of the world beyond our seeing. That message proclaimed that we Americans needed to pay attention to what the Final Authority on life had in mind for us Americans. We needed to surrender our control games to something higher, the great intelligence of the cosmos. Not our small minds. After all, had anyone of us put the stars in the sky?

Of course, I am far from the only one to proclaim 911 a wake up call to America. Yet from the view I have I am still called to wonder, too frequently, how well we have done with this curriculum of learning our lessons. Certainly, what I witnessed, behind the scenes and still as yet painfully unresolved in key areas, in our local, 2006 Jewish/Muslim controversy has definitely not been an “A” grade. And that was our midway point to today, five years ago. The movement in that local situation, back and forth between the spiritual plane and the physical, has a ways to go to really making the grade.

There is some serious “seeing” needed here, if we want our locale to be an authentic part of a country of healing, unity and respectful diversity as our bill of fare. But that is not all. Our survival is at stake!

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Man Who Believed In Evil

“Once I met a good man who believed in evil. He had learned a great deal about it in prison. He had figured out that everybody in the prison; mental health people included, was crazy and that if he wanted to retain his own sanity, he’d better cure somebody, fast! He was the prison psychiatrist at the Marion Federal Penitentiary back in the late ‘60s and his name was Martin G. Groder, M.D. “ 

I write this today, excerpted from one of my three unpublished books, written in the 1990s, “Surviving Addictions,” as almost ceaseless controversies emanate from our national political scene. Seemingly they are more generally pervasive today than they were when first I knew Marty and his theories changed the course of my life.

I met Marty in April, 1980. Soon after that he became my mentor, shaping the direction of my thinking about human functioning and society forever after. Understanding the nature of evil and how to transform that human darkness into light was the singularly, most important aspect of the many gifts I received from the man and his creative genius.

Last weekend when I began reflecting on the progress of our democracy, albeit sometimes so subtle as to be almost invisible, at least to the untrained eye, I found myself reflecting on my years with Groder and what I learned under his tutelage.

At a two day regional, pre-conference workshop of the International Transactional Transactional Analysis Association (ITAA) in 1980, Groder introduced participants to his theories on the direct, character similarity between convicts and high leadership people. Witness Bernard Madoff, Strauss-Kahn and most illustriously Richard Nixon.

Certainly, I was the participant most inspired. For the close to one dozen years I spent under Marty's clinical guidance and supervision (1980 – 1991), I devotedly followed his footsteps wherever they tread, picking his brain for every little nuance of his theories and treatment strategies.

Oh, how liberated was I by these socio-biologically based theories that lifted my still evolving theoretical foundations and clinical skill to high art.

Until 1991, Groder and Rosen (now Rosen-Jones) were a student-teacher team to be reckoned with, topping off our influence with my Random House contract to publish it all in its entirety. Three, still unpublished books on his theories and my expansion of them that became the Survivor Addiction Development theory (SAD), were written for Random House. Publication interrupted by my losing my eyesight thirteen years ago today.

It was Marty who professed, with certainty that --

“Washington is next only to Moscow as the world’s center of darkness.”

“You are wrong, said I, the student, now grown more sure of herself. Washington is the center of light.”

“Today, I believe we were both right; the nation’s capitol is a teeming cauldron where an ongoing battle is fought between the dark and the light, both publicly and behind the scenes, night and day. I know it well.” However, with certainty, I discovered where the light lies in the society surrounding the Washington, D.C. White House and its nearby environs.

Keep tuned to the New Horizons’ Possible Human, Possible Society Study so you can discover it, too. Take a fresh look at the Washington you are unlikely to discover, if all you rely on is the news media. I promise you that!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

We Can Be Proud: Our Democracy Works

Watergate, on top of the three "Big" assassinations of the 1960s, was a rude awakening, leaving many a young adult idealist view of our governing leaders changed forever. I was among them. Up until Watergate I still held onto my childhood hero-worship of presidents.

With fun-filled grade school celebrations for both Lincoln and Washington’s birthdays an annual bill of fare to which I looked forward, it hadn’t yet come into the naïve perspectives of those of us growing up in my era that the President of the United States Of America might lie to the American people, especially in a serious way.

More disillusioning for me, however, than accepting the disappointing reality to the contrary that our president could and would lie, was how deluded were the many citizens around me who willingly believed Richard Nixon regarding Watergate. I am proud to report I was not among them.

As Nixon proceeded forth with his boldfaced attempt to deceive the Watergate commission, I lay watching the hearings from a Washington, D.C. hospital bed certain that John Dean was the one telling the truth, Nixon the liar. Captivated by the hearings but even more so by the fact that I was awaiting the arrival of a donated cornea from the Eye Bank to be transplanted into my eye, replacing my own that was diseased, there was no other place for me to go. So, lying in my hospital bed, I entertained myself, applying my newly developing psychotherapy skills to the psychological diagnosis of the Watergate drama players and the games they were playing.

Out of my astonishment with, not only Nixon’s chicanery, but my ability to sleuth the truth, early on, and to recognize the citizenry collusiveness with this deceit, began one of the several passions of my professional career; understanding and upending the complicity between the aggressive or power addicted individual and the passive (i.e. co-dependent) addict. In the service of social justice, I have pursued this fascination for transforming the Dark Side in society all these many years until it became my art.

Check out some of my stories about this on the history behind my professional work and the New Horizons program.

While this passion has not always made life easy, it certainly has been interesting. Under the tutelage of my psychiatrist mentor, Martin G. Groder, M.D., I came to understand how similar can be the character and inner dynamics of the convict and the high leadership individual. You can see this character likeness between convicts and many high leadership people, now, can’t you, if only by your intuition? 

Added to the clarity I gained on the subject, once I caught on to Groder’s accuracy of assessment in this area, the adeptness he passed on to me at managing the challenges of the task of upending power addictions has gratified the mischievous side of me more than once or twice.

Thus I admit that this certainty of knowing has served me well in a pinch, on occasion, both personally and professionally. Even brought me some fun, especially when coming face-to-face with an unknowing power addict who wrongly believed I might just be fooled by his/her charismatic aura. Sometimes I almost laughed out loud at my naughtiness.

Most gratifying for me, however, is to witness that the American people have done a lot of growing up since the days of Nixon and Watergate. Collectively, we are no longer so easily fooled by our leaders. Nor are we willing to accept deceit from our elected officials. Witness the intolerance of Bill Clinton’s deceptiveness regarding Monica Lewinsky (though we do seem to have forgiven him as we should) and the massive confrontations of the management, or lack thereof, of our political leaders over the debt ceiling.

For all its flaws, our democratic system is working. As a nation we are coming of age with greatly clarified expectations regarding the character of our representatives. What a journey it’s been. I can see these days in many ways that the best is yet to come. We can make it to awe! I can see it almost happening now in pockets around the country.

The Possible Human, Possible Society Study recently embarked upon by our New Horizons community development and violence prevention program is delighting me as it draws out expressions of personal integrity and that high American spirit I loved and believed in as a kid.

Please check out this project. Rarely have I been so certain about the alignment of New Horizons' recent projects with where the masses are headed. The time is now!  Certainly the rewards ahead will be of the co-creators living in this democracy that works.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

“If I Tell You Who I Am….

... and, you don’t like it, that’s all I’ve got.”

Words from a rather smallish sized book of insights, “Why Am I Afraid To Tell You Who I Am?” by John Powell that made a huge impact on me.

I read it to client groups of mine off and on for years. You might enjoy its message too.

So now I’ve gone and done it; publicly exposed, my uncensored mad-side; my unedited, frustration with our current socio-political environment, and my passion for truth and clarity. Such a different voice from Anastasia, you might say.

Actually, I’ve been growing in this direction of expression since the early part of the year. What follows below is what my voice sounds like when I am a bit more soulful. And, somewhat excuses my coarseness (or so it looked to me.)

Oh, well, “I wear a thousand masks and all of them are me!”

Next steps at taking off my masks; finding socially lovely ways to stand in my truth and look good too. Patience. Patience. Patience.

However, sometimes things just get too much to concern oneself about “prettying it up.” I've been so long focused on "looking good." Not looking so good, I guess, is part of my growing up.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I Know When I Know (Full post)

I know when I know. Even when I don’t know what I am knowing. Then, mostly, I need to wait for what I know I am knowing to be revealed. So what I knew – first off – as I sat by my/our fire circle that snowy day a few weeks back was that the fire in my soul was flaming.

It was firing up inside of me – almost – more than it had since the day I lost my eyesight. It was as if a life was bursting forth from the deepest part of my soul. It felt new and fresh as if seeing the light of day for the very first time. Yet, it was certainly rooted in an ancient part of me.

I knew that that fire was springing out of the calling of my soul to do my small part to somehow, at least, try to put an end to the mediocrity with which we are presently living. The Arizona shooting in January coupled with the voices of commentary from all parts of the country were speaking out, loud and clear; there must be an end to the political bashing! And, the general, mean-spirited, divisiveness running through our day-to-day lives.

These voices carried a strong message to me, as the fire was called up from my depths. Perhaps, there was one small thing, at least, that I could contribute. And, since there was one, at least -- offer it I must. So, I threw my cap into the ring, sharing my sense of that fire in me with whomever would listen, respectfully. The mediocrity of our society – and – worse its potential for, not only subtle violence, but mortal violence was being, at last, verbally shouted down.

Clearly, the subtle and not so subtle violence was making, not only me, a bit crazy, but, maybe, even the silent majority was now no longer willing to be silent. And, people would now be willing to act! Do something rather than nothing! Perhaps in the light of tragedy, we had – as a society – been brought to the right conditions. And, people would no longer sit still for that which had long grown out of bounds.

For days after that day by the fire, I felt a surge of passion and creativity that became an abiding hunger. Far greater than simple nostalgia. For the days before I lost my eyesight. When a certain skillfulness in me had routinely been able to lead those who chose to be my students into an experience of awe.

I HUNGERED FOR that AWE; a return to that place of community cohesiveness, I had co-created awe, again and again, with others for almost TWENTY-FIVE years before I lost my eyesight (but never my vision,) Through the old New Horizons Truth Or Dare Game -- there had been a regular, community coming together where awe was the expected and achieved outcome.

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The GAME’s On You, Mr. President!

... but only long enough for you to realize what you need to do to self-correct. You don’t get to hang out in the spotlight as though you are the almighty. Make a commitment to do what you need to do to be fully accountable for the mess we are in. Then take the necessary follow-up actions to back up your commitment.

No talking back either. And, you, Mr. President, don’t get to put a GAME on anyone else until you have fully looked at your part. You DO NOT get to re-direct the flak you are getting.

Now, it’s your turn Ms., Mrs and Mr. “other” politicians, the GAME’s on you. Then it moves on to the next elected representative politician with whom we, the constituents of America, wish to speak. Then onto the next and the next and the next after that.

Same procedure; listen to the words of that with which you are being confronted, make a “searching moral inventory” and clean up your act!

Eventually, of course, the GAME has to move on to you and me. We have to take that same responsibility; a searching moral inventory of what we are doing to help this country run well, or not doing that is contributing to the mess we are in?

Then clean up our acts. And make no excuses, that inventory must be fearless and so, also, must be our clean up operations!

Be sure to use your metaphoric, deep-cleaning, personal vacuum. And, take a good luck in the mirror at who you really are and what you are doing here.

It’s time to put a stop to the mediocrity of our leaders and of the mediocrity of ourselves; the “silent majority,” which is apparently doing a good bit to mis-manage this country with its passive-aggression.

Let’s really dig deep, now, to get to the truth, even the subtle ones that are holding us down.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Of The People, By The People And ....

... Instead Of The People!

It has taken me, as well as everyone else I know over age fifty, more than thirty years to get over Watergate. But who really “gets over” Watergate?”  Or, those “big” three assassinations of the ‘60s; of JFK, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy.

Mourning is a process that follows on the heels of a significant, life changing loss. Mourning takes time, often a very long, long time. Managed conscientiously, it paves the way to an acceptance of a new reality. Mourning teaches us things.

New opportunities emerge out of our losses. Still the original wound lingers on. If it was important enough to our lives, the wound may never fully heal; a fact that becomes, after a time, meaningful in and of itself.

I have come to accept that myself, like many others, will never fully recover from what we lost in those assassinations and from Watergate. Still, as Jews proclaim of the Holocaust, “we remember that it may never happen again.” Remembering teaches us things we need to learn.

I’m never going to forget the April, 1968 day I stood by an apartment window in a high rise across from the Pentagon, watching Washington, D.C. burn. And, I am never going to forget the Friday, following the 2008 election of Barak Obama that I finally went into Washington, for the first time since that April day with joy and hope.

Unlike many of my fellow metro riders, also optimistically astir that November, 2008 day, however, I did not presume that the second coming of America’s “Messiah” was finally at hand. I had learned that lesson well.

Washington’s political scene, as long as I, or anyone else has truly known it, is a “game.” And, quite a mean-spirited one a great deal of the time, at that. People should know that and accept it. Maybe this time, after our recent, nasty debt ceiling debating showed, more people will.

How many eyes must we have to see that “We, the people…” are the hope of this country.

There is no coming Messiah!

We, who were yesterday’s youthful “Arab spring” are supposed to be today’s grown-ups, living out the wisdoms of what once were the elders upon whose shoulders we were carried. And, those truths we have come to know ourselves.

Our president is truly, like all others before him, “of the people, by the people, and instead of the people.” Those most invested in either attacking him or living through him are, more than anything else, projecting on to him that which they, at either extreme, are rejecting or wishing for in themselves. Both extremes are a way of using a person, typical of our American-way.

We love to live vicariously through our high profile people. Our own lives don’t seem to be enough to fulfill us. (Also known as co-dependency. With celebrities we do the same, albeit from the distance; same dysfunction, different venue from the one with which one might be sleeping.) So be it.

But, come on, try to get this, if you really be a true citizen of this democracy, stop pointing your fingers in blame at the president or “turning on” to him with your excitement addiction. Instead, try on this new way to think:

“Ask not what your country (or your president) can do for you, but what you can do for it (or him).”

Grow up, if you are even a bit shy of it, and accept that some of our greatest leaders of the second half of the twentieth century are gone! The American Messiah is not coming, again, to save our great and wonderful country. Complaining, blaming etc. are ways to avoid accepting what's real.Let’s mourn these losses and keep learning from them how to be leaders ourselves.

Mourning is not an event, such as was naively attributed to reactions to yesterday’s massive downslide on Wall Street. Mourning is an honorable process that paves our way to learn.

And, it behooves us to do just that! Beginning right now.

P.S. Though I be a registered Democrat, I cannot, personally, promise now who I will vote for in 2012 so don’t be blaming that fact on me for my words here.