Monday, April 22, 2013

On the Boston Marathon Bombing

Waiting and watching
Sense of 911. Boston Marathon bombing feels the same to me.

What’s the same? How different?
For me? For others?

Boston Marathon bombing -- ground level. World Trade Center -- high in the sky, other hits airplane high hits too.
Me – blind, seeing “911” as if through a waxed paper veil.

To see or not
to see.
This time, I see full well.
Still I avoid “seeing” the carnage. This time on purpose.

9/11 – immediately I knew who hit us, without even knowing “who.”
This time clueless, until later.

9/11 “of” the tragedy but “not in it”; blindness had taken me out of the world.
This time lost, not “in” or ”of.”

Lost, loss, somehow mine, yet not mine. 9/11 – immediately “our’s”
Young bomber terrorist; a mere child when identified.  Vulnerable, child of his parets, controlled like the young D.C. sniper?

The death penalty? For one so young?
No! Wrong! No more death penalites.


But, this time, people sticking together better.
Interfaith connections – improved since 9/11.

Muslims; one of “us.”
If this is the work of Islamic extremists, we, the “others,” are not quite so reactive against them, the “others” that are non-extremists.

Still there are after shocks; an emotionally charged time.
Lives cut down in mid-flight, destroyed.

It is ok to cry, to grieve. And, to be mindful that the high intensity of media reports need not take us away from the pain to our hearts and souls. This is the wisdom of a country maturing under pressure.
Personal phone calls help; those who are more distant from the trauma, stabilize and heal. Thus we can contribute more to the victims of Boston; a whole city and more.

  • More cultural upheaval;
  • In the midst we are reminded that life is with people and that we should not allow pettiness to divide us.
  • Survival is a tribal concern. Tribes have rituals and traditions. Must they come only with death on American soil?
  • We, on American soil, are a new tribe, gathered from the ends of the earth and all places between.
  • The touchy process of assimilation, in this melting pot of our’s, must be strong enough to the good to allow us to be a tribe of new Americans; united we stand, divided we fall.

Monday, April 15, 2013


Sometimes you just know. The signs are there to guide you.
You wake up to a sun-filled day and you know.

You know that the winter cold is done. The storm clouds of hurricanes have passed. The dark of storms is dispelled.
The first morel of
this springtime.
You see the flowering trees in bloom, the daffodils lifting their flowered faces to the light and you know.

Today is bright and beckoning. Another springtime has come to the world. And you and I are a part of it, refreshed.
I remember what I learned as a child –

When I can walk through a storm with my head held high, doing my very best to not be afraid of the dark, at the end of the storm is a pot of gold, perhaps, and the sweet song of life well-lived.
Sometimes you know that. Sometimes you don’t.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Life is with people

Like a dance for which the music and the choreography have never been written down, a great part of any human culture is lost to humanity when the group which has carried it, devotedly, in every word and gesture, is dispersed, or destroyed…..” Thus wrote Margaret Mead of the culture of my heritage in Life is with people: The Culture of the Shtetl.

The shtetl, commonly understood to be a small Jewish town or village formerly found in Eastern Europe was carried by the elders of my grandparents’ generation in every cell of their being, in everything I ever knew of them.  Barely able to speak a word of English, my grandparents, in the memories of my childhood, represent these Eastern European roots though only in America did I ever know them.
Their’s was a way of life I recall as having texture, richness, tradition and people; lots and lots of people. This was a way of life they passed on to us, the generation of my parents and myself, simply by being present with us as we grew and developed.

This is a way of life that is, of course, hard to replicate in this day and age of constant long distance travel, the mobile phone and the internet. Who can imagine people pausing long enough to simply be present with one another in this fast- paced world of today?
Honoring the cultural heritages
of the past.
To be born into and raised into this Observant Jewish family was to know life in a tribal sense. Consequently I grew up not knowing how to view life in any other way; life is with people. And people are tribal.

Wikipedia defines a tribe, historically, as a social group or society, organized largely on the basis of kinship. Today, belonging to, let alone readily finding nearby kin or like-minded “others,” who are similar, culturally or socially, and organized like a tribe – or a well-functioning community -- is almost impossible. Yet to the very core of my being it is this way of life that is most resonant for me.
So how I can be anything but hopeful and joyous as our New Horizons’ Possible Society In Motion Show now begins to smooth out its wrinkles, intentionally growing in the direction of the tiniest hint of community; albeit with few dimensions, very little texture and only a sniff of regularity, let alone tradition.

Still, Margaret Mead, also said,
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, that is the only thing that ever has.”
I rest my case.

in this time of massive cultural upheaval I am, personally, a tribal being yearning for a known something better, intent on consciously traveling with others on this journey through life.
I hope you will want to join me/us on this adventure. It is so much richer as a share experience  than traveling solo.  Life is with people and I/we want to travel with you.

How big and beautiful can we be with unity?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Lean in (Anastasia’s version) versus “lean in” Sheryl Sandberg version

Also posted on New Horizons' Small "Zones of Peace" blog site.

I am very pleased with the progress we (i.e. New Horizons, Lisa, board member and steering committee member for our radio show, Jack Slattery, my show co-host and myself) are making on our Possible Society in Motion show. Of course, we will need to keep growing and polishing up our act to get to the level of sparkle to which we aspire. But even the most critical (and I do have a few of those in my court) can see evidence of the progress we are making. And, the impact we are cultivating.

As evidence of that forward motion, heading to our own best possible, last week’s show brought me to place of multiple epiphanies, if no one else. So here it is Thursday morning and I am readying myself for more of the same on tonight’s forthcoming show.

Tonight's episode is titled "the vicious physiology of stress." Tonight, again, Jack and I will draw from the treasure trove of my research, clinical and organizational treatment strategies and published and unpublished writings on these plus a most impressive body ofresearch by "the brilliant" Dr. Rajita Sinha, director of the Yale Stress Center.

A warrior woman, strong and
in balance, is a beauty to behold.

I hope you will join us for tonight’s on-air broadcast as well as our conference call-in discussion that follows. To tantalize your appetite, below is a summary of our last week’s Possible Society in Motion Show episode, titled “The Art Of Leaning In,” an on-air discussion that drew from both my professional expertise, research and writings, contrasted with what I have read, so far, about the Facebook CEO, Sheryl Sandberg’s new book.

Show summary description follows below, excerpted and edited from our Possible Society in Motion Show description for Thursday, April 4.

“Jack Slattery asks Anastasia to elucidate how her version of “leaning in” contrasts with viewpoints offered in the recently controversial best-seller “Lean In: Women, work and the will to lead” by Facebook CEO, Sheryl Sandberg.
An intriguing dialogue ensues in which Jack invites Anastasia to elaborate on her “Surviving Addictions” unpublished manuscript material, based on her still relevant research on contemporary women and their survival-driven adrenalin addictions. (WMST, UMCP, 1985.)

Stressing that her research findings strongly empathize that contemporary women now override outmoded addictions to relationships with the traditionally male addictions to money, power, status, righteousness, Anastasia urges all to, instead of these destructive patterns, strive for a balance between excessive strivings and fulfillment, derived from harmonious affiliations.

To drive her points home Anastasia recounts a poignant story of a keynote speech she gave to key women executives in the Washington, D.C. area that concluded with participants in tears, as if at a consciousness-raising group. High profile achievements were bringing complications along with them with too high a premium in their relationships with family members, begging the question where is the gain not worth the pain.”

Again, I do hope you will join us for our show tonight on the “vicious physiology of stress” as Jack and I continue our conversations on how to overcome polarization in our country and be that “possible society in motion” of which I/we are dreaming.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Frustration and the one hundred ways to Sunday

Seeing “911” as if through a waxed paper veil might have been the moment of a singularly, significant transformation for me; the moment of realizing that blind I was seeing that which others seemed to not be noticing, especially the dark in the light and the light in the dark.

Right from the start of my term of blindness (Labor Day weekend, 1998) I had drawn on words of Helen Keller’s to guide me through my ordeal –
“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."

What I saw when I
was blind.
This was the wisdom that brought me through my test of blindness. And so I did survive and even manage, it seems, to bring myself to a kind of thriving, after the fact. Certainly I seem, now, ten years into my life of regained eye sight to be blessed with a way of viewing the world that brings with it a certain knowing beyond ordinary.  

Only those I’ve met or read of, returned from near death experiences, seem kindred to this way of being that is mine. Yet what I experienced and learned from being blind does not readily translate into words. Thus,  if and when I can converse with these chosen people, dialogue is a bit like hunt and peck. Each attempts to build bridges of shared understanding where only hints of like-experience can be gleaned.

Perhaps my longing, when I was blind, to be able to write, again, for a public audience and revive the non-profit organization I founded, New Horizons Support Network, Inc. was a means of visioning myself as connected to the greater world in meaningful activities, as I had been before I lost my eyesight.

In those days, however, I had a loyal following of devoted students who, whole-heartedly, believed in me and the guidance I provided. I could be counted on to lead them out of, even life-threatening struggles; out of their darkness into the light of clarified perspectives and reliable solutions.  Thus my humble presence was dignified by the respect I was accorded. Then, as now, I was known for my ability to see the dark in the light and the light in the dark.
Conversely, these days, while I still attract responsiveness, by grace of some inherent gift that has always been mine, I find myself, at times, so inordinately challenged by the newcomers in my life that I find myself, sometimes, feeling as if I am under personal attack. These, the new “others” of my life are, no doubt, equally frustrated, finding themselves drawn to me -- and what New Horizons seems to promise -- yet almost fearful of drawing too near lest they, somehow, be duped into an unknown something awful.   

Admittedly, leadership has not exemplified integrity, often enough, in recent years. However, leadership has not ever been a quest for privilege, power or control over others in me. So with compassion for these seekers of something I am carrying; a certain wisdom and knowledge that is uniquely mine, I handle their challenges and confrontations with apparent patience and good nature.

But never do these encounters result in the fun and connectedness I’d like to be having with these exemplary individuals. This is the unknown something better for which I yearn; the camaderie of being known as one who is not an “other” that only trust, time and love can bring.

One newcomer to our volunteer team even had, somewhat, of a nightmare about how dangerously misleading I/we might be. I responded kindly to this test. Yet, it left me realizing that, at times, I am so weary of this long, hard trek that is my return to mainstream normalcy. Then, for a moment, I think I would do anything I could to simply return to the cocoon I built for myself during the years I was blind, living almost completely removed from the world. But this is not so simple, nor would I truly want it ever again.

Still, there are, at least, one hundred ways to Sunday. I have mine. Each other person has their own unique pathway. Mine is a hunger for the walk that is the art of leaning in toward one another with clarity and in peace and harmony. So I am hoping that things will turn round right, if we each do our best.  Above and beyond all we do, all, need our "zones of peace."