Saturday, May 30, 2015

It’s Been Hellacious!

I vowed. I wanted. I needed. I struggled. But to no avail; my beautiful life energies were stuck in the “lower triangle” (see diagram below) of my psyche, off and on all week long.

I yearned to move up and out of that darn lower triangle. Bound to it I was mired in stress and pettiness. I was after transforming that leaden place in me into gold. I wanted to move out of that state, as the upward arrows show (see diagram below), in the direction of the Divine.

But I just couldn’t get there!

I fussed with myself and fretted over the obstruction but I could not get the stuckness to let up except for little snippets of time now and then.  Sue said “don’t try to push the river.” That folksy wisdom did help some. But still I kept coming back to the struggle.

Oh, dear, oh dear, my Anastasia The Storyteller blog site was having its fifth anniversary and I was unable to celebrate it satisfactorily with the posts I had intended!

Too bound up to get even enough of a lift that could translate into a few simple words that would end up here.

Besides that, the end of the month loomed ahead and I was obligated to also post, at least, four blogs to satisfy my board members requirements for me. What to do? What to do?

I had so much I wanted to say. I felt myself poised right on the center of the main messages I wanted this blog site to convey; especially about the power and the beauty of the Force in you (and me). And, how the Force, as I know it, has brought me from “there” to “here;”out of my Darkness into the Light.

There is so much to know about it.

You probably know some or much of it already. But I have some specialized knowledge, tools and experience that must be given away!  I offer them go you. My small contribution to humanity as I know it today.

There were gifts, however, on the side of the battle I was having with my pettiness and stress. By observing it a definitive formula for how I see the Force operating came clear. The knowing was so exciting that for a moment I was almost ready to go!

Almost -- that is because the words would not quite come as I needed them to do.

If I can share how I can, intentionally, get the Force to work in my life – and – what I know of it as a professional; both as a psychological-sociological researcher and as a clinician, hopefully, I will contribute something to your life. All being at optimum potential realized, my offerings might also make some small contribution to aiding the resolve of some of our present social and political problems.

That is my heartfelt desire. This is also what my golden goose wanted me to do with the golden egg he gave to me. But it is not an easy assignment.

At best the Force, when description is attempted, gives the impression of being nebulous.  Sometimes, therefore, inviting those of a less esoteric bent to dismiss it as airy fairy or some such. However for those inclined to trust that there are many layers of very real, yet unseen realities always functioning, it is unquestionable.

You who are seeing that which is not so readily seen are the ones with whom I yearn to connect.  The rest will just have to catch up as and when they can.

Over the holiday weekend I set my mind to the intention of making the Force, as I know it, as clear and definitive as I can for readers of my blogs.  I know I can do this but now a new awareness has come to me about the challenge; from not only being in the angst but also by carefully observing it.

So what did I end up with for my all my efforting?

A delightful realization that what I have to offer on the subject of the Force should now be granted an equal or greater time than carrying out the original intent for this blog site to date.

"Anastasia The Storyteller" had as its original mission to be ---

“A personal and professional blog exploring the vision behind the New Horizons’ Small “Zones Of Peace” Project and how it reflects my journey from blindness to recovery.

The vehicle for achieving this intent has been to write stories on anything and everything related to this intent with a particular emphasis on taking off the many masks I, personally, had been wearing.  Thus the blog site also offered this as a theme ---

“I wear a thousand masks – and all of them are me.”

Now I no longer wear all those masks; maybe just one or two now and then.

So, in celebration of this blog site’s fifth anniversary what I am setting out to do next is to add to those original intents with a pledge to keep telling you my stories with a particular emphasis on –

…guiding you to be able to transform the lead in yourself into the gold, using the principles and tools that have helped me, not only survive blindness and all its related losses but bring myself, with a little help from my friends, to the threshold of my dreams come true.

Thus from here forth I pledge to give you the full scope of the many formulae I have for maximizing the power and beauty of the Force within and how I believe you can apply these to make your adventure work at its optimum best.

Now let’s see what the next five years will bring us!

To achieve this end, it will now take me two blog sites; this one, Anastasia The Storyteller, for the back stories of my own transformative journey as I am experiencing it  behind the scenes -- and -- my new site, Exploring Your Dark Side Warrior: The Adventure of A Lifetime blog site for principles and practices.

To entice your interest in following my plan, take a close look at the map below that I am following for my adventure of guiding you on your adventure; destination Divine!

As we journey forth together utilizing this map and its other related charts and diagrams, principles and practices the collection I will be providing will come to mean a great deal for you, I believe.  But that will likely be only after some extensive explaining on my part and much repetition of the principles involved. 

(The map below is a simplified adaptation of Murat Yagan ' s "Chart of Ascension." It is offered here by way of introducing Murat's more complex chart which will be presented at an advanced stage of our adventure.)

In the meantime, not to be trite, but at a lost for other words, the best I can offer as our adventure moves forward on its next steps is –

“May the Force be with us!”

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Force In You (And I) Is….. Beautiful

The Humpty Dumpty in me had a great fall; I lost my eyesight and would not regain it for a very long time. It was, indeed, quite a tumble that took eight long, arduous years until it could be surmounted. A death-defying struggle ensued in the meantime.

A whole series of tragedies had plagued me since late childhood. Always I had been able to surmount them with my determination, creativity and hard work. But physical blindness was something else. It had no options; no re-routing alternatives. I was stuck and I knew it. The Humpty Dumpty in me had been broken.

Whether or not I was cracked beyond repair was yet to be discovered. But early on it became apparent that there would be no King’s men that I could even hope would try to put me back together again. The task would be mine – and – mine alone to tackle.

The saga of my threatened blindness has been a part of my personal story since I was a junior in college at Ohio State. Then it had been a threat, supposedly imminent in the months ahead; a devastating prediction for a college junior.

The day I finally did lose my eyesight turned out to be many years later, howver. But I had been expecting it. How could I not, once diagnosed and confirmed. Thus, at once when it arrived, I knew it for what it was. What I didn’t know was when, if ever, my blindness could be healed.

As it turned out it took seven eye surgeries and an inordinate emotional-spiritual battle to fight off the psychological demons my blindness brought with it. In order for me to survive the ordeal, I would need to fight these demons along with my physical challenges. Blindness and my recovery from blindness (1998 – 2006) had lifted the lid on the Pandora’s box in me.

On this, the fifth anniversary of this blog site’s presence, I am reflecting on how it is that I have gotten from there; extended blindness and its repercussions, to here, on the threshold of a dream.

This site was set up as a platform from which I could tell stories, especially the ones behind what was to become, concurrent with my personal recovery from blindness, the unfolding story behind the New Horizons' Small “Zones of Peace” Project and how it reflects my journey from blindness to recovery.

As a first, superficial note I might say that what has brought me here today was the same formula as of old; determination, creativity and hard work. But that would only be the “front story” at best, if that.  The real deal story, the one behind the scenes that has been the blood, sweat and tears of the front story, is far more profound than that.  Above and beyond that, as it applies to me, it is a story, one women’s story – mine, of how the Force in all its pristine glory can work on our behalf. 

(It can also be the Force of our destruction. And I hope to help you understand how this operates in you – and – how you can choose to harness its vast reservoir of personal power on your own behalf.)

So mine is not simply a story of faith although you might be inclined to take it as that.

It is far more than that!

It is instead the story of how “the mysterious capability of the personality’s most powerful biological influence – the survival instinct as a dynamic mechanism – helps the individual to either reach the highest levels of consciousness, health, compassion and spirituality or to self-destruct.” This is what I call the Force.

I will write more of the beauty of the Force over this coming holiday weekend as I celebrate the adventure of my writing this blog – and – once again how grateful I am to be able to see, once again, and all the gifts sight, spiritually and physically, bestows upon me.

In the meantime, visit my Exploring Your Dark Side: The Adventure Of A Lifetime blog site to read of some of the basics on how I know the Force to work, for good or for evil.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Kids and Kops In The Streets (In Peace)

We can learn so much more on the streets than in a classroom I have found. I started realizing this during the years of my clinical training to become a Certified Transactional Analyst (1973 – 1981). It was essentially a post graduate clinical training program. So most of the students were Ph.Ds or MSWs with a handful from other academic training tracks; a psychiatrist here and there, a good number of members of the clergy, psychiatric nurses and so forth. I had been able to qualify as a “mature, returning student” while I was still finishing my undergraduate degree.

By the time I began this course which was to dramatically shape my life from there forth, I had already developed a good bit of street smarts in my earlier career as an entrepreneur. Serving the business and political elite of Washington, D.C., I would learn from the man who would become my psychiatrist mentor, Marty Groder, that “High Leadership People (HLP) and convicts had essentially the same character structures.

As I would also come to understand, not always without pain and much to my dismay, some of my elite psychology colleagues also fit Marty’s HLP profile. Beneath the cover of their high order degrees and various multiple credits they were as much like convicts in character as the worst of the street people. Only their surface behaviors differed; socially appropriate for our culture as opposed to the antisocial ways of the wholly criminal.

This recognition has come to be amongst the singularly most important knowledge I ever obtained from Groder.  I restate it here for emphasis; High Leadership People (HLP) and convicts often have the same essential character structures.

A corollary to this is that each and every one of us has a bit of a convict inside ourselves. (Actually this is nothing to be ashamed of as the source of one’s inner convict is simply the survival instinct in personality form. Who doesn’t want to survive even if a white lie seems necessary to get us by?)

Check out the reliability of this notion for yourself. My Survivor/Addict Personality Inventory is offered here as a tool for your exploration. And, if you are actually drawn into the investigation at a deeper level go on and read my articles on my “Exploring Your Dark Side” blog site.

I promise you, if you stick with my offerings the wisdom of these gems is likely to start making sense to you. For me, they hit me like Fourth of July fireworks when I got it! In more than thirty-five years since I have never needed to look elsewhere to help me make sense of the ills of our society and politics and how they operate – and – how they could be remedied.

However, a good bit before I was introduced to Marty’s systematic classification system I had already instinctively discovered that sometimes I just had to get away; far, far away, from these colleagues of mine as at an earlier time I felt the need to leave the world of the D.C. fast track. There was something so heavy (Later I came to know some of it as “dark,” masked as “successful” or intellectually astute, according to acceptable “cultural standards.”) So I found myself seeking out the street people on occasion as a breath of fresh air and a taste of restored sanity

Yesterday I experienced a similar kind of revitalization, taking to the streets, once again.

The situation did not exactly take me to the most downtrodden; the homeless, addicts and other disenfranchised souls. This time I marched with a handful of at-risk youth and community leaders in nearby Frederick County, Maryland.  Still there was, for me, that same kind of restoration; an opening, perhaps, to a part of my disregarded humanity by my getting outside my ordinary comfort zone.

The occasion was A Stop The Violence March, later renamed the Frederick Unity March. The event prompted New Horizons’ formerly scheduled Kids and Kops In Conversation event to be rescheduled. The now rescheduled event is to be a specially focused on police and youth relations program of our Coffee House Conversations On Race Relations series. Our most important targeted participants are to especially be African American youth.

However, with the March taking priority, especially on the heels of the recent tragedy of one more African American man’s life cut short by the police in Baltimore there was no other place for such as myself to be yesterday. The kids and the kops were marching so was I!

(New Horizons’ Kids and Kops In Conversations event has now been rescheduled for Saturday, June 20.)  

There is a great deal for me to sort through and integrate before I can say much about what yesterday brought me, especially as it was, for me, one continuous piece of what began with New Horizons’ Coffee House Conversations On Race Relations. The series will soon wrap up its first run with Kids and Kops In Conversation as our finale before we break for the summer.

From these events; both the front and back stories of them all, I am a changed person, inside and out. But my new friends of minority groups are telling me I have made only a first step.

I certainly do believe them. So what shall I become now that I’ve begun? Probably, experience tells me, there will be no end yet I will always be able to trace back to this time as a beginning.

But one thing I know for sure from yesterday out on the  streets with “kids and kops” is that it breaks my heart to see little five and six year old boys, as I did yesterday, marching to affirm that their little lives matter. In fact, as many of their posters show, all lives matter, prompting me to imagine my Holocaust survivor stepmother in their shoes eighty years or so ago marching in the streets of Berlin that was her home.

OMG! Childhood, especially in the United States of America, shouldn’t need to include paying heed to such as this. I don’t want this burden for them. I don’t want them to fight for their G-d given and Constitutional rights!

I want them to be free of such weighty concerns, free to be safe and grow and thrive – and – develop a beautiful character that knows all that is good and just, acting accordingly.

But so it is!

Monday, May 4, 2015

“Don’t Say That! It’s Politically Incorrect!”

On the issue of speaking truth to power

I had a richly rewarding post Coffee House conversation the other day. The gentleman with whom I spoke had attended our last event, April 19, and I had wanted his feedback on it.

I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was a bit, when the gentleman gently chastised me for something I had said at the event. (At these events I am the lead speaker and moderator.)

The comment in point had been one of those off the cuff remarks about my not liking our esteemed president, Barak Obama, that I make now and then.

Not only was I a bit taken aback by the man’s remarks but I was genuinely pleased he brought up his discomfort with my “leadership” style.

I do not aspire to compete with Jon Steward or any other Comedy Central player but I am definitely after a rise when I make certain statements. At best genuine dialogue would be the next step. This time the gentleman to whom I was speaking let me know that I had gotten a reaction from him but he definitely was up for continuing to engage in discussion with me.


Now he and I were really talking about stuff; the real stuff that’s at the root of our national race and police relations problems, the polarization that is everywhere from the White House down to my neighbor next door who killed two of my dogs with anti-freeze. (This, unfortunately, is my neighbor’s typical method of choice for handling displeasure rather than talking to me, in a neighborly, good will way.)

Subtley my conversation partner let me know, nonetheless, that he thought behavior such as I had exhibited in the instance in question at the Conversations’ event was poor leadership. Great we were now on our way! I appreciate critical feedback and, if given with gentleness, welcome it always.

Still I thought to myself after I had hung up from our phone interview, “Poor leadership!!??? Bah, humbug!!!!”

Obviously we had not gotten far enough in our discourse. On the other hand, perhaps the gentleman merely wanted to muzzle my expressions that were other than agreeable; “politically correct,” so to speak.

I thought, however, that he and I had come to somewhat of a meeting of minds after I shifted into vulnerable, straightforward, "always accountable Anastasia." And, perhaps we had. I had perceived that our conersation seemed affable, especially when I put aside my designed-to-be-evocative stint and spoke, instead, from my heart. He even agreed with some of my “not likes” in our president’s history of leadership.

We were not polarized then. I could feel the energy shift. Both of us had done our parts to ensure that, is my sense.

In any case, however, I triggered negativity in him again, I think, before our conversation ended with something else I said.

Once again I had felt that kind of body flinch that occurs when an interaction between oneself and another gets out of kilter.

Had I, again, failed to measure up to the yardstick he had of how leaders should act, applied to me? Or might it be that he had political aspirations? (I understand he has a key position next to our local reigning power.) Personally, I definitely have none. Maybe that would account for his being extra careful to use politically correct game strategies of discourse maneuvering – and – perhaps expect similarly of me.

Later I wondered if we hadn’t possibly split over the issue of what it means to “speak truth to power.”

James O’Toole, a noted journalist, has written extensively on the application to businesses and organizations of the Quaker philosophy of “speaking truth to power.” Speaking truth to power, as I understand the phrase, came into popular usage in our culture in 1955 through a publication of  the American Friends Service Committee entitled “Speak Truth To Power: A Quaker Search For An Alternative To Violence.”

It’s basic philosophy ”means saying something those in authority don’t want to hear.” It is also a common sense commitment to stand up for what one perceives and believes as a pathway to a peace made manifest in everything we do. Nonetheless, the practice is not without risk. As history has illustrated time and time again; a person can lose their head in some cultures, past and present, in applying the tenet.

Nonetheless in an article titled “A Culture Of Candor (Harvard Business Review, June, 2009),” O’Toole lays out his perspectives on the critical importance for healthy, contemporary busineeses, groups and organizations of “speaking truth to power by behaving in this highly ethical manner. Offering multiple aspects of applying the basic principle, O'Toole is quite precise in his explication of the essential role of telling the truth and the associated quality of transparency in the overall application of the general theory.

For my part, Einstein’s words, “I have a deep faith that the principle of the universe will be simple and beautiful,” lend credence to my belief that “Don’t say anything if you can’t say something nice,” is long outmoded, particularly in the “land of the free and the home of the brave.” These words also affirm for me that truth is beautiful, even if sometimes uncomfortable, and much simpler than any of its alternatives.

Still, I am inclined to yearn for harmony as a rule. So I am asking myself, does defining who I genuinely am, telling the truth and being transparent mean that I need to pretend I like Mr. Obama, when I don’t?

I am not stuck on this position forever. But right now this stance is one from which I am learning a great deal, especially when I go public with it, now and again, witnessing myself as objectively as possible as I work through my emotions and judgements as I stand in it. Truthfully, I wouldn't "elect" to miss the adventure for anything. It is that close to my heart.

And, as an addendum, if I say nothing at all on the subject, which is also an option, am I hindering or helping the causes of peace and social justice that I build my life upon?

What’s your take?

Right now I am contemplating the issue?