Saturday, May 31, 2014


On The Occasion of The Fourth Anniversary Of “Anastasia The Storyteller”

The sun is setting now on this lovely, near perfect day out here on the mountain.  Through the trees, outside my office window, it is gracefully sinking out of sight, leaving the most glorious of light shows in its wake.
"The sun doesn't shine on us,
it shines within us."
John Muir

Every evening, if clouds do not obscure the view, I am awed at the magic of the sky at dusk. This is, by far, my most favorite time of the day. And with that, always I am grateful, once again, that I have eyes that can see this beauty.

Often Sue and I share the experience by telephone, comparing and contrasting what it is we are each watching, at the same time, separate yet together.

It never fails to evoke wonder in me that to we are each watching the sunset in two different states; she in Pennsylvania and I, out here on the tip of West Virginia, separate yet together. 

I never tire at the delight of it all; the setting sun, the show of the afterglow and a dear one to share in the oohing and aw-ing, the marveling at nature that no pyrotechnics has yet been able to outdo.

As this day comes to its ending I tell myself I must not let it go without making a comment or two.  After all today marks the four year anniversary of this blog site. And, I am not one to overlook a day of celebration.

But words do not come easily for me here these past days and weeks. There is so much going on behind the scenes at New Horizons. And equal, if not greater shifts occurring in me, personally.

Transformation has become a way of life for me over the past decades, often leaving me rather speechless when it comes to even responding to the question “Hello, how was your day?” My days are, often, so filled with wonder I can barely answer that query for myself without undue reflection.

OMG! I look up from the keyboard of my computer, once more, and am startled, anew, at the light show I am seeing, then, not far above that the sliver of the crescent moon.

OMG! It is all so gorgeous!

So I offer only a few words here to mark this anniversary day that brings me to reflect on the adventure of writing my articles, as I do, for Anastasia The Storyteller; a quote from John Muir,” The sun doesn’t shine on us, it shines within us.”

Happy day, gorgeous evening, more tomorrow.

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Times They Are A Changing

Jack and I did a most profound radio show last week, titled “The Times They Are A-Changing?

To me, at least, it was a high mark episode. In fact, I was a bit unnerved by it; the reasons still under “private investigation” by me. The most obvious explanation might be that in our on-air dialogue we were, publicly, discussing things I am “not allowed” by maternal parental order not to acknowledge, particularly non-Jewish ideas.  As it so happened on this show, all kinds of blasphemy, according to this stricture, were touched upon as Jack and I considered the “changing times” within which we are now living.

Somehow this on-air dialogue, heightened by the conference call forum that followed, led to an article I wrote for the New Horizons’ Small “Zones of Peace” Project blog site. I titled it, “Life Is With People: A Memorial Day Reflection.”

While I am still unable to explain the connection between that radio show broadcast and the article I just posted, I offer it to you, thinking you will appreciate it, even if the author, me, is still unable to justify its viable presence here.

“Life Is With People: A Memorial Day Reflection

“Life Is With People” is the title of a book on the dying culture of the shtetl; its way of life, its practices and characteristic philosophies. The book was introduced in 1952, with a commentary by Margaret Mead, the renowned anthropologist. A shtetl is, or at least was, traditionally, an Eastern European, Jewish village.

My mother was an assimilating, Americanized shtetl Jew. She grew up in the midst of folks who shared a common heritage; shtetl life was central to their ways.  Of course, it was not completely like the “old country.” Still life among the Jews of Toledo, Ohio did revolve, as in Eastern Europe, around the shul, an Orthodox house of worship.  

Life in this community of like-minded, shared culture, individuals and families, had a long-cherished resonance to times past. Most notable, however, was that these people were safe from the pogroms of the Czar and what was to come of Germany and the Third Reich.

I have long treasured the rather beaten up copy I have of the book. It brings me to wonder if I have kept the words of the title close to my heart, only after finding it on a used book shelf, or had they always been as though cellular to me. I doubt I will ever know.

Well, no matter, now. The title means the world to me. It strikes the deepest cords within me, reminding me who I am and what matters most; a life shared with the people around me in love and laughter, joy and sorrow.

From the earliest days of my life, the experience of a closely-connected life with people was as familiar as my skin; the people of my family and those of my community.

My people are shtetl people. This is my history and my heritage. When I was not paying attention and honoring this, I was cutting myself off from myself, as we all do when we do not tend to our roots. This is simply a fact of human nature.

We are of something. We become something more. But whatever it is that we are at our roots cannot and will not ever be separate from who we are, now, and who and what we will become.

Part of the heritage of being Jewish is that you are, for better or for worse, a member of a tribe.

I remember, attending a high school that must have been eighty-five percent Jewish, if not more. At the time, an “in thing” was to refer to one another as “members of the tribe.” I didn’t think much about the expression then. It was just simply what one said, thought and, somehow, did. In short we were “MOTs” and proud of it. Later, though, and up until the recent past half-dozen years, I didn’t like being a member of that tribe. I wanted out.

So I proclaimed that I’d quit being Jewish. People laughed at me for my idiocy. “You can’t quit being Jewish,” they said. But I was certain I’d bought my freedom. From what I was not quite certain.

Nonetheless, tribal life and its implications came home to me the other day while I was picking something up at a neighbor’s. Walking onto a nearby friend’s yard, I chanced upon another neighbor, a Native American, as it happens. Seeing him standing there in the sunshine I was struck by the beauty of the rich color of his skin.  Then, jokingly I asked, “Do you think I look as Jewish as you do Native American?”

He chuckled and soon, as friends and neighbors do, we went on to the next lighthearted chatter. Tribal differences had not divided us.

Then, I heard, in the distance, another friend of his, unknown to me, calling out. This was a slightly accented voice of a male who turned out to be African American, from Ghana.

Growing up as the daughter of a die-hard shtetl Jew, as was my mother, I was not allowed to interact with anyone who was not Jewish. Anyone not of my “tribe” could not even be acknowledged as existing as a human, truth be told. Native Americans were, seen only, as performing exhibitions at the annual Sportsman’s  Show. An African American would be our cleaning lady.

How very much this breaks my heart when I reflect upon it.

But the times they area-changing. I am changing too. For one thing I have now answered my query, “Am I an American Jew or a Jewish American?” Having resolved that “Yes, I am of Jewish heritage, I accept that in me. And, that I am equally an American. I hope I am never asked to choose between the two.

I have come to full voice of where lies my heart and soul; all the peoples of the world are members of my tribe. As it turns out, it was the separating from the rest of humanity that had made being Jewish feel so wrong for me.

But that was long ago. Today is the now. Still, if I allow my mind to travel, I am rather certain my “othering” mother would have difficulty accepting this way of mine.

What she might say about the joy and wholeness I find now in the varied array of people in my life I will not even entertain. In attendance, presently, at our Possible Society In Motion conversations forums and our bi-weekly Sohbet/study groups, I think we have, at least, one or more, people of Irish descent, a South American, several folks of German heritage and one person of mixed Bulgarian/Macedonian heritage; none are Jewish, other than me.

So what?

On a day like today, Memorial Day, I am so aware of the freedom I have to simply be me and an MOT of any tribe I choose. I choose the global village as my tribe and the land of this free nation.

Hope your Memorial Day is as joyful and celebratory for you as an American, as it is for me.

Up in the mountains where Civil War soldiers died for our freedoms 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Pregnant With Possiblities

News alert!

What a busy, behind-the-scenes period it has been for me.

For the past nine months I've been pregnant with possibilites. Actually during this time I've already birthed several; one being my "Lean In Legacy Template." Kid care is what's slowing me down here. That's what it's been!

And, it just might, or might not, get any easier in the days ahead.

Sooo - I hope you will want to learn more about my creations. Take a look at the news by reading my post for today on New Horizons Small "Zones of Peace" Project blog site so you can share in the celebrating. 

The fun has just begun! 

Now, watch it grow!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Snags to Synergy: it’s All About Attitude

Also posted at New Horizons Small "Zones of Peace" Project

Thursday, May 1,   6:30 p.m.

With co-hosts, Anastasia Rosen-Jones and Jack Slattery
At its highest level, the vision behind the “Lean In Legacy Template,” the centerpiece of the Possible Society In Motion Radio Show, is that it offers a map to realizing a vast human potential for the transmuting of hostility, even minor separations, into cooperation and unity. This principle exemplifies the notion that an act, as simple as “leaning in,” even in the most, seemingly, commonplace of ways is a viable pathway to the building of a non-violent culture.

Co-hosts, Anastasia and Jack, expand this basic tenet of the “Lean In Legacy Template” on tonight’s show with a discussion on how this model regards our innate capacity to shift out of our snags in human relations onto a pathway of healing and growth. Thereby we can turn all potential problems of an interactional nature into possibilities.
By learning to utilize Anastasia’s recently introduced “Lean In Legacy Template” the new centerfold of the Possible Society In Motion Radio Show, each and every one of us can exercise our innate human capacities to be the change we are seeking, individually and collectively.

Co-hosts, Anastasia and Jack, focus on “snags to synergy – it’s all about attitude” on tonight’s inspiring episode, tonight at 6:30 p.m.