Sunday, November 29, 2015

Sometimes You Just Need To Pause, Reflect and Celebrate

Thanksgiving is such a time.  The turkey that got away is doing it too!

My Thanksgiving this year was that kind of day for me; a day of peace, love, gratitude and celebration. I hope yours was that way too.

The turkey’s special day was followed soon after by Jack, my radio show co-host, and I doing a special program, marking the pinnacle that has been reached so far of New Horizons, almost one year old, Coffee House Conversations Project.

Of course, since I am the blueprint designer of the project (i.e. the “Mom” that birthed the project) I take a particular pride in what we have accomplished. Paying attention to the fact, last year at this time, that we were not doing enough for our community in the areas of race, community and police relations with the abundance we have, we got on board and now have, a new “baby” who is making folks smile.

And, my oh my how she has grown in just this one year!

You may recall, if you have been following our blogs that our Coffee House Conversations Project began as a love story as all babies should. You can hear my tale of it here, Leaning Into Conversations On Race Relations: A Love Story.

For those who have already listened to the podcast from yesterday’s show titled “Citizens and Police In Conversation: A Promising First Step,” it goes along with a newborn now becoming a toddler that our baby is taking its first steps. But my oh my what a walk this looks to be.

Check out our podcast for the show, Citizens and Police In Conversation: A Promising First StepJoin our celebration that the tragedies of Ferguson, Missouri prompted us to aim our sights a good bit higher than they were last year at this time. In the midst of commemorating the losses, we are also able to appreciate that out of the darkness has come a bit more light, if only a little.

And, consider this – your time, your talent and even your treasures, $$$ and otherwise, can help us grown bigger and bigger and bigger, placing you right in the midst of our Possible Society In Motion efforts.  (Details on how you can soon donate to our project are currently in production.)

Celebrate now with us – and – be an active part of a beautifully unfolding future for a “possible society in motion”, "our" possible society in motion.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

“Hang Together…” Or Else

Ben Franklin, around the signing of the Declaration of Independence, stated his well-remembered quote, “We must all hang together or most assuredly hang alone,” emphasizing that all must remain united and supportive of one another to ensure our freedom.

There are endless reasons for people to hang together. But so often we forget this or neglect to give it its due.  Then something tragic occurs such as what has happened in Paris this past weekend. 

Then we remember, at least for a little while, how very much we all need one another -- and the tragic price we can pay for divisiveness. 

As we face heartbreaking losses we cleave to one another, finding comfort and warmth in our human connectedness. All too soon, however, when our catastrophes recede, many, if not most of us, return to life as usual; the way it was before we were challenged in the heartrending way; too caught up and busy with our own, self-focused imperatives for others to matter.

When I was the local president of the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) I experienced a heartrending controversy that tore Jews in my local area apart, at least initially the situation seemed to me to do that. Simultaneously I found alliances with Christians and other non-affiliated folks.

Actually, as I was to discover, as I waded my way through hip high resentments, power plays, secrets and collusions, distancing the hearts among many Jews in a town, not overly abundant in them, divisiveness was rife in this community. I was heartbroken at this realization as it became clearer and clearer to me. In fact, I believe that what I saw, how I interpreted it and what I felt at the time about the situation was an important turning point in my life.

I, too, had turned my back on others; of my faith heritage as well as many others. In fact, for more decades than I care to remember I became determinedly anti-Semitic. Even bleaching my hair blonde so as not to be identified as “one of them.” When I purposefully came back to my association with these “others” only to find Jew against Jew in the most petty of ways, my hard won dedication to going back turned my perspective of Jewish community and what it meant to me growing up on its head.

Today we see almost daily that people need to not “other” anyone, same or not same.  While people will, no doubt, find sustenance  most readily from likeminded others, we must ‘hang together” with “others” no matter who or what they are; the same or not.

There is much more to this story of mine; a tale of separation from others, the toll it took on me and the others, what my return has been like and how it has changed me – for the better. I will speak of it increasingly in the future as I believe that what I have learned in this specific area of my personal journey is well-worth the sharing for the lessons accrued.

Already my Exploring Your Dark Side blog site is becoming a platform for the treasures I have gained to be shared. I hope you will check it out, especially if “hanging together” means something to you – and – sometimes you don’t do it as well as you might.

Today, as my inner world plays an increasingly energetic and interactive role with my outer world and the world surrounding, close up and far away, what I have discovered as I made my way to this place of abundant unity and support merits sharing.

For today, however, I think it best to simply invite you, my loyal readers, to check out the most recent Possible Society In Motion Radio Show titled, “Why "Bother" With Community,” that Jack, my co-host, and I did last Thursday.  We made a beginning, but only a start, at digging into the countless obstacles and rewards of humanity, at its best, when people hang together. 

Especially when we can each appreciate that no other option can better serve us; in times of tragedy, loss, sorrow, joy and celebration!  

Today if we look to Paris we are reminded of this.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

George Barris Has Died: I Had Hoped He Would Be Immortal

George Barris, the world renowned custom car designer, best known as the creator of the Batmobile, has died. I read of his passing in the New York Times. As the headline announcing his demise sunk into my mind, a clunk hit my belly, my chest went thud and my heart ached. Next I heard my mind state, emphatically, that an era had ended for me with George’s passing; my childhood was finally over!

Now what could that possibly mean?
The model and color of my first car
George and my Dad customized for me.

Foolishness to the extreme you might think, especially considering I had not seen the man in over fifty years. But there it was anyway, the hit I hadn’t expected, bringing me to realize that I had been holding on to a belief – a wish?? deep down that George Barris would be immortal and live on forever. What an unanticipated surprise!

On the surface, of course, my reaction might seem strange. But no, George Barris had died, leaving me feeling bereft in unimagined ways. Today these unexpected emotions show up again as I set thoughts to paper.  Of course, the deepest part of the meaning is about my father and how George’s relationship to him altered the course of my life. Yet beyond that there is something more. These two men together; my father and George Barris, have shape the woman I have become.  Neither of them alone could have brewed what jointly they created in me.

For many years I have known this to be true. But today I am telling you too.

I realized immediately that my reactions to George’s death warranted some serious contemplation. Mainly, as I touched on in my blog article titled, “Whatever Happened To George Barris,” the greatest significance would seem to be about how George’s relationship to my father as business partners for a time in the 1950s impacted me.  But still there is more.

That clunk in my belly, my chest going thud and my heart aching at his passing show me that the gifts of George’s life, as I briefly shared it and how he thereafter was always in it, near or from afar, warrant a bit more exploration. So I will take time to do this now as my way of honoring a life that was so huge it could not but help impact on others; those around him and those, like myself, beyond any conscious knowing on his part.

Honoring the passing of an individual, no matter who they are or what they done with their lives, is a right and loving thing to do. This steadfast belief of mine, incorporated with my Jewish upbringing tells me to mourn one year for members of our family. And, indeed, George without being present became an important member of my family – for better or for worse.

Thus I am intent on giving myself over, according to custom, to paying tribute to this man, George Barris, who, in effect, changed the course of my life – and – gave great gifts to this world in both his art and his personhood.  

Judaism and psychology, my chosen professional field, aside perhaps pure instinct might alert me to the fact that if I have unfinished business with George Barris it would do me well to clear it. Perhaps this unfinished business; actually a debt I thought he owed me, is reason enough for my conscious reflection at this time of his passing. It’s not “nice” to hold grudges and this I do have for him, along with respect and admiration.

So here I go on another one of my mini-adventures of a lifetime, a next personal transformation escapade of mine. I will share this journey into the hidden recesses of my mind with you and let you know what I find.  

If nothing else, this venture on my part will provide you, my loyal readers, with one more person, me, who might advance your insight on the Dark Side/Survivor/Addict in action of which I am writing on my Exploring Your Dark Side: The Adventure of A Lifetime blog. 

Certainly a grudge, especially one held for so many decades as I have done with George Barris, comes only out of the Dark Side. Not let’s see, you and me, what we shall see. 

Perhaps when my adventure is done the reason I have needed for George Barris to be immortal for me will be revealed. But then is he not to be immortal just naturally through all he has contributed and left behind?

The good that a man, especially an artist of his magnitude, is always immortal somehow.