Friday, September 30, 2016

“Informally” Launching New Horizons’ “Making Violence Obsolete Project “

With Anastasia’s Back Story, still untold, at the foundation. 

Tomorrow New Horizons “Making Violence Obsolete” project goes public in what is expected to be a rather intimate setting. A hand full of personally invited guests will join New Horizons volunteers and myself for an informal discussion on our topic.  My hope is that this group of people will want to join us on this new project with their personal commitments to it. And in doing so, to whatever extent is appropriate for each one, to help open my eyes and mind as to the next steps for “us” to take, together, on this adventure are we initiating– destination: “no need for violence anymore.”

As the moderator I will be happy – and – grateful to be facilitating the conversation that lies ahead. And although this program is unlikely to be the proper setting within which for me to share my personal story beneath the momentum that will have brought us together for this day, in the quiet moment I intend to start off with, silently I will be paying tribute to both the sacred space of the Frederick Friends Meeting House that will host our occasion, as well as the role model, my father provided me as living proof of how one goes about “Making Violence Obsolete, in day-to-day life. 

The latter, my father, is how I came to know and develop my part of this plan.

In that moment of silence, I will remember that my father, in the midst of a tragedy that befell our household demonstrated for me, ceaselessly, what exceptional leadership, based on love, authenticity and integrity looks and acts like, especially under stress.

My newborn sister had passed away after a brief few days of life, bringing my mother to have a nervous breakdown from which she never recovered. In her anguish she took to acting out in all kinds of outrageous and violent ways. A great loss had occurred for our family which was anguish enough. 

Then in the midst of this, my Dad and I came to experience our loving community becoming a hostile one toward us when coming together to support a family in mourning would have been more apropos. At this time our formerly close-knit community could have made all the difference in the world to us at a time of family crisis and thereafter.

But it did not! I know now that it didn't need to be this way!  

These days we are learning, with profoundly moving stories of community unity in times of anguish, how very much all people need one another.  And, how very much that need fulfilled can turn darkness into Light. New Horizons wants, now, to support these efforts in expanding ways that we have done on only a limited basis until now.

We want to be fully in the action to help make our possible society a dream come true.

But things like what happened to us do happen, unfortunately, too often. As it turned out for me, I would have been left without any of the stability, security and loving home life and family I had known previously had things just been left as they were. But my Dad’s unceasing devotion and his capacity to love as well as his exceptionalism as a leader and a role model, especially under extreme conditions, is how I came to know that “Making Violence Obsolete” is an essential and possible objective.

I learned that standing next to my father. 

So New Horizons premise for its new project, “Making Violence Obsolete” – 
Violence “could” become obsolete, “someday”, if we start, now, doing more and more of the right things and, together, stop doing the “wrong” ones!”
-- makes sense to me!

Now you have a slight bit of the short version of Anastasia’s Personal Back Story.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Anastasia’s Back Story (Almost) On “Making Violence Obsolete”

I’ve so much to tell but so very little time, especially this week.

I wanted to start sharing more and more of what it is that is behind the New Horizons Small “Zones of Peace” Project, this week in particular, especially as it relates to the vision I had that birthed this project. And how that story reflects my journey from blindness to recovery from blindness. After all that is what the headline, under this site’s title, "Anastasia The Storyteller," promises to provide.

But, of course, even the single project of “Making Violence Obsolete” is a long and complex story. I have given you hints of the story that I am trying to modify here for a blog format rather than hardback books. 

But I do want to do more than intimate my more completed message and the stories and rationale that has formed it. 

However lately I have even been thinking that if I could really master the design of blog postings to suit my objectives, I think I might just be more content with simply writing online rather than authoring full-length books. 

The six books I now have in progress, including my three still unpublished Random House books that I call my “Random House Trilogy” have their own back story. But I am weary of holding on to the many behind the scenes tales I have to share as teachable moments while depending on editors and publishers etc. 

I find myself these days wanting to simply be Anastasia The Storyteller along with my several other public faces: Anastasia The Super Sleuth and The Wise Woman of Elk Mountain and whatever else people identify me as. 

I guess my summertime slowing down gave me a hint that I might kind of get to enjoy that more relaxed pace. Then Labor Day came, quickly drawing me back again into high gear as our new projects; the "Making Violence Obsolete" and the Counterculture Community Development Experiment, began to take hold. So now I am not quite sure which pace I prefer although a balance would be nice, I think.

Nonetheless, as I prepared my notes for this coming Saturday’s “informal” launch of New Horizons new “Making Violence Obsolete” seminar – discussion forum event I had reams of personal and professional anecdotes prepared to share. Then, for that venue, they seemed a bit top heavy. So I cut them down, almost to the quick, deciding instead to translate my notes, in small doses, into this blog site. But that doesn’t quite fit yet either.

So for now I think I will just merely be checking in here in brief with my back story tales. And let you know that I think that if you are able to join us Saturday, October 1 for New Horizons “informal” launching of our two new parallel projects, “Making Violence Obsolete” and “The Counterculture Community Development Experiment,” do it!

Maybe you and I – and the others involved – can get to what I believe might best further our shared goals, breaking bread, hangin’ out and sharing our stories back and forth in real time. Don’t you think that would be nice?

The words below of Jada Pinkett Smith, the actress and singer-songwriter, posted on Facebook, speak volumes to me of a similar intent.
“Maybe it's time we pull back our resources and we put them back into our communities, and we make programs for ourselves that acknowledge us in ways that we see fit, that are just as good as the so-called mainstream." 
With hoped-for opportunities for storytelling, in the flesh, and other face time occasions in the planning works ahead, maybe I will just let myself a bit off the hook for today about giving you the whole parcel that I want to share. And just let myself be reassured that, at least, some of you out there that are my readers want face time opportunities as much as I do. 

So maybe we will make that happen sooner or later. 

Saturday, October 1 in Frederick, Maryland, not far off the Capital Beltway, could be a good time for us to get started! I promise, even our getting to see one another by itself, would be worth your trip.

Please, do attend if you can!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Making Violence Obsolete: Anastasia’s Personal Back Story, Part I

“Making Violence Obsolete,” as a movement, being birthed today, has a history. I’d like to begin sharing some of it with you now. 

Here is how I think to begin -- 


Every good idea has a beginning; a starting point of significance to someone. Those of us who are able to take ideas and turn them into movements for social change start off with a vision; a mental image that, somehow, speaks pointedly enough to others to attract their support and engagement. Then, somehow, behind this motion, by necessity, lies that someone with enough passion to see the effort through the hard times and seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

Apparently I am such a person though I am still not quite used to this idea of myself; a visionary who has the ability and the necessary resilience to create such a movement. Nonetheless, the New Horizons Small “Zones of Peace” Project, which has its formally recognized tenth anniversary this month, appears to now be on its way to launching a movement. 

Imagine that!

The movement is titled the “Making Violence Obsolete” project. It has, at this time as I write, every indication, presently, of becoming a movement. It will be “informally” launched in Frederick, Maryland on Saturday, October 1. Its effectiveness, however, for becoming a change agent in our local community, for which it is being designed, lies far beyond any humble efforts or dreams on my part.

Still, imagine this wonderful opportunity granted me! Who could have known that a woman, me, struggling to deal with blindness and recovery from that ordeal (1998 – 2006) could have had a broad enough vision to bring even this introduction about? I am pledged to do my best with it!

Needless to say I am excited about what is transpiring as I move this project foreward into a heightened level of activity, with the generous and loving support of many. For forty years the foundations of what is now being birthed, city-wide, have been developing quietly, more or less, within me and as a focal point for my loyal students and supporters. Now it seems as if the time of my grandest vison has come about, as my ideas and conscientious efforts, backed up and supported by countless others, moves forward into a broadening public arena such as is happening now. 

Thus, no matter what may be observable to others, on Saturday, October 1, as I take my place as the Executive Director of the New Horizons Support Network, Inc. to introduce our two new project tracks: 1. The “Making Violence Obsolete” community-wide effort and 2. The Counterculture Community Development Experiment, I will be taking a moment out to pause in silence, as the program begins, to give thanks. At that moment I will know that this time and place is infused with a sense of sacredness for me for all that has gone before this day --- and --- the hopes and dreams, shared with many – for which we are yearning for from here forth.

If you can plan to attend, I sure wish you would!

Part II of “Making Violence Obsolete: Anastasia’s Personal Back Story” will give you a brief synopsis of how this all began for me. 

I am alerting you in advance that the whole of my story is at its core – a love story!

More to come.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The World In Chaos

One month ago today my several months long semi-sabbatical/vacation ended. I had imagined I would then be ready to return to “business as usual.” But it was not to be. My scant few blogs of August affirmed that truth. July, with only one blog titled, “These Turbulent Times Have Left Me Speechless,” at least explained most of the “why.” 

In terms of public self-expression, the chaos I felt inside of me inhibited me as I dealt with my eye crisis which is somewhat still ongoing. And, indeed my inner world seemed to be merely a reflection of the chaos I was viewing in the world outside myself.
The world on tilt!

So now it turns out that I have spent more than two months being somewhat of a cave dweller, mostly just sitting and watching the natural world around me, filled, nonetheless, joyfully with the abundance of summer, especially when one adds in the hummingbirds --while most of my energy has gone into healing from trauma and emotional exhaustion.

Along with this, often I feel myself in shock with what I view that the man-made world beyond has created;  people scared and upset, Trump-brand politics generating near-daily volatility, polarization, controversy and more upset and fear, hurricanes, earthquakes, terrorism, citizen-police violence from every corner.  Maybe later I will see this turbulence as transformation – evolution in motion perhaps. Today the experience does not feel uplifting.

While I have been dealing with a death in my family with the near six month near-death crisis once again of my right eye; almost resurrected and then again no more, the world around me is in chaos. For my part, I have needed to turn inward, almost no blogs and no Possible Society In Motion Radio Shows.  My radio show has been a particularly hard transition for me without Jack Slattery, my co-host of three and one-half years. 

In the midst of all this, solitude seemed to be my greatest comfort. Yet solitude has not entirely been my path. Rather rich, rewarding, ever deepening relationships have also surrounded me during this time. I am nurturing these almost daily in spite of the challenges. In the latter regard, you could say that I am living “my truth;” building small “zones of peace” around me as I do my best to manage a world inside of me and outside in chaos.

I often feel as if I am in shock. Certainly I feel traumatized. I think many folks, if not most would say they feel similarly. The presidential election campaign, all of its own, is enough to conjure up this.

But today I decided to “try again” to come out of my silence and peek out from the cave within which I have ensconced myself. Fortunately for me my cave always has sunshine and green trees, flowers growing and herbs aplenty enveloping it.  That has helped me not have the feel of a writer’s block. Just a blank inside myself that came of looking outside into our world so tilted that I have been almost speechless.

Still, as I suggested earlier, at this time of my “feeling” of speechlessness and as if I have been doing nothing, I have actually been doing what I advise others to also do; building my small “zones of peace.” And, indeed I have many more than one.  So as I write this it comes to my attention that while I was “doing” nothing, everything got done.  

To see what I mean, check out the birthing of New Horizons next exciting project, the Counterculture Community Experiment and its associated programs on “Making Violence Obsolete.” 

Oh my goodness, leave it to an over-achiever to not even “see” what she is achieving. That’s how one gets to the “over” part!

A small "zone of peace"
can be anywhere.