Saturday, September 16, 2017

The World Of Trump And the World of Story Are Two Different Worlds

I got to considering the notion the other day that the world of Trump and the world of story are two different worlds. I wanted to share my thinking. But so far I am having a bit of a challenge, putting my thoughts into a coherent articulation. 

But I will give it a try here by way of communicating some and come back another time, if I have more on the subject.

I heard the other day, too, that contemplating might be understood to be a method of seeing. So, visionary that I am, I “contemplated” what I was seeing that brought this idea to  mind; "the world of Trump and the world of story are two different worlds." In considering this theme, no doubt, is another set of questions I have been pondering since New Horizons Storytelling Workshop Series began to get underway with a meeting last Saturday of our new Storytelling Steering Committee for our partnering with StoryCorps.

That meeting and the other start up projects we are now undertaking to get the whole of the project running has occupied my mind pretty constantly this week. Thus Trump and storytelling could not have been too far from it this week had I wanted them to be. Especially on Trump who thrives on every last bit of attention he can get. Thus one has to almost battle to keep him out of mind. So allow me to digress about my wondering about Trump and his world of storytelling, or lack thereof, and go to the other questions I was also thinking about this past week.

That set of questions has to do with a series Sue and I are designing for my first time of being interviewed for “The Official New Horizons Small "Zones Of Peace" Storytelling Collection" for our partnering with StoryCorps. When we have that storytelling interview completed – and – have learned to work with the technology involved, we hope to embed the story on this site with more to follow. If you participate in our story collecting, maybe your stories, too, might be shared, if you would like. On my end, it appears that I am going to have a whole series of these storytelling/interviews of my own to share!

Umm. What a nice way for me to come out of my hidey hole. I had been making myself as low profile as I could, over the years, as much as I could and still have an active presence behind New Horizons. Now I will be coming out  -- and – able to do that in the company of the many others from whom we will be collecting stories. 

I love the thought of it, as I had decided decades ago that I did not want to be too much in the public eye, except as a part of a community. And, now I have found my way to accomplish that through New Horizons' storytelling project. 

Lucky me!

Everyone at New Horizons is pretty excited about this next endeavor of ours, the Storytelling Workshop Series, which will be an important piece of our developing “The Official New Horizons Small "Zones Of Peace" Storytelling Collection,” but not the only one. What the other parts will be are yet to be discovered. Nonetheless, as we look at the gift of this single, new aspect of the New Horizons Small “Zones of Peace” Project, along with its assortment of other community building projects and programs, not only are we excited about it, but so is everyone else that we tell about it.

Why not?

As noted author, Father Richard Rohr suggests, regarding restoring connectedness –
"The greatest dis-ease facing humanity right now is our profound sense of disconnectedness - from God, ourselves, each other and the world." 
Rohr’s words strike a bullseye for me. They resonate like a beautiful, melodied song. Restoring (or establishing connectedness) is what storytelling is about; something our country is desperately in need of at this time.  At least, this is how I/we see things, presently. But then I have, over the years, become a devoted storyteller, as evidenced by my having both a blog site and a radio show titled Anastasia The Storyteller.

But from Trump’s world we hear no genuine, heartfelt stories. None, other than those that flatter his ego; many of them not even based on truth. Trump, in his dysfunction, has no concern with stories; yours or mine, not even his own, as in what is the "story" of his relationship with his mother?

We never, ever hear of her. Even searching for information on that endless resource for everything you ever wanted to know about anything, the internet, reveals almost nothing about Trump’s mother. It is almost as if she did not even exist.

P.S. the etiology of narcissistic personality disorder, which most educated people would agree appears to be Trump’s malady, is generally based on one’s relationship or lack thereof with parents, especially one’s mother.

The Mayo Clinic describes the roots of narcissistic personality disorder this way – 
As with other mental disorders, the cause is likely complex. Narcissistic personality disorder may be linked to mismatches in parent-child relationships with either excessive pampering or excessive criticism. Genetics or psychobiology — the connection between the brain and behavior and thinking -- may also play a part.
Oh well, so much for Trump’s world. In mine and hopefully yours too, I/we think storytelling is where it’s at, if connection with others matters. With that, I believe, that if coming from the heart, and seeking the heart of another counts, storytelling has more potential for helping us learn the truth of this old saying, than any other single activity  –
“An enemy is someone whose story you haven’t yet heard.”
I hope you love storytelling, too, for all the wonderful gifts it offers, particularly the idea that there is a great potential for turning enemies, or unknown others, into friends this way. Many of us have been doing way too much “othering” of people who are different from us, without much thoughtfulness, care or concern, particularly in recent past years, as the fallout from this last presidential election has shown us. 

I think it is time and way past to give that up.

New Horizons path and my own, personally, look to soon be reveling in this activity, storytelling, more and more as a part of our daily fare. 

I look forward to sharing the adventure with you.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Finding Tranquility In The Era Of Trump: A Personal Experience

Listen to my new Anastasia The Storyteller Radio Show episode,  Tranquility In The Era Of Trump: A Personal Experience,  now on podcast

Here is the description. Enjoy. 
Anastasia shares her recent experience of committing to a diet of tranquility and finding lost dreams in the era of Trump.
For an introduction to Anastasia's adventure, visit New Horizons Small "Zones of Peace" Project to read "New Horizons Update,"Announcing New Horizons' Storytelling Workshop Series and other stories on how New Horizons, under Anastasia' leadership is making it through these tough times.
Also read Anastasia's personal stories: The Freedom To Choose And The Five Things I'm Electing In Order To Stay Sane In These Insane Times at Anastasia The Soryteller blog site and Finding Light In The Darkness.
And, be sure to let me hear about your stories of “finding tranquility in the era of Trump."

Every day, now, as New Horizons moves forward with our new Storytelling Workshop Series, I am realizing, more and more, that storytelling is where it's at!

  • Add your comments below; or
  • Write me directly at

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Anastasia Endorses A Political Candidate, First Time Ever!

I am now endorsing a political candidate, first time ever!

I can do this because I am separating from New Horizons. On my own, I can be as partisan or non-partisan as I like. Umm. How very strange!

Well, as the Church Lady says, “Isn’t that special.”

Never before have I even considered taking an out and out position on a candidate for political office. 

But now I've done it! And it feels quite strange and wonderfully liberating!

Why me, I ask myself? And, why now?
And, my candidate of choice

I can't quite put my questions together to get a clear answer. But here is what I did --

Letter to the editor
Frederick News Post 
September 6, 2017

Building A Better Tomorrow, Today 

I am a relative newcomer to Frederick, having previously raised my children and conducted my private psychotherapy practice in Montgomery County. I love Frederick, and have become active in the community as the Executive Director of a nonprofit organization, New Horizons Support Network, Inc., which sponsors the Coffee House Conversations project. 

In this role, I have come to know many of Frederick’s key leaders, and have made a disappointing discovery: there are often contradictions between what many of these leaders say, versus what they do. When I witness incongruity, especially in those whom we have trusted to represent us, I am disturbed. I am even more troubled when the perpetrators are people running for elected office in Frederick County.   

It is because I am so greatly concerned about these incongruities, and because Frederick means so much to me, that I am taking the time to write this letter. Frederick is a community filled with people of high moral values and integrity—and we can do better. We must elect the kind of exceptional leadership that can lift people to their highest aspirations; leaders who embody compassion, vision, and accountability—and who have enough wisdom and experience to govern intelligently. 

The objective of New Horizon’s Coffee House Conversations project is to bring people of diverse backgrounds and cultures together, to cross the chasms that divide them. The main vehicle of the program—creating conversations to help us build a stronger community— allowed me to witness the kind of leadership I value. It was during one of these conversations that I was fortunate enough to cross paths with Roger Wilson, a Frederick leader who exemplifies the qualities I admire most.  

As Frederick grows, and the demographics of our area continue to change, we must all learn how to embrace this change, leaving no group behind, as we make our way through the many other complexities that growth demands. To me, Roger Wilson offers the kind of leadership that can help us build a better Frederick. I hope his efforts to become an Alderman will succeed, and enable him to accomplish even more for our community tomorrow than he’s already doing today.

Will it be published? I have no way of knowing. But it sure felt good in the doing!  

Maybe the bottom line is my belief that, as Helen Keller favored in this line from her friend, Everett Edward Hale –
I am only one,But still I am one.I cannot do everything,But still I can do something;And because I cannot do everything,I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.  
Or maybe it is the belief I have come to hold dear that –
"All that is necessary for evil to succeed is for good men (and women) to do nothing.”
So now I have done something, speaking truth to power, another ideal I have come to hold dear.  

Or maybe, most pointedly, for this time and place, the paragraph below I omitted when I sent in my letter to the editor is what prompts me, now, to come out of my hidey hole in every way possible.
Our country is presently in a mess, with a president residing in the White House, who may be among the worst offenders at attempting to mask lies, self-centeredness, personal aggrandizement and cunning, as charm, consideration for constituents and presidential.
Whatever it is, I am glad I’m doing this! And, I hope you, too, are doing something to help our country, your community and your loved ones build a better tomorrow, today. 

That’s how "tough people get through tough times!

Wishing "my first ever endorsed candidate," Roger Wilson, well at the polls in Frederick, Maryland, Tuesday, September 12!

Roger prompted my first ever endorsement and I add to that my support for Kelly Russell.

Good luck to both!!

Monday, August 28, 2017

How Anastasia’s GRAD Theory Offers Hope In These Troubled Times

Also posted to Exploring Your Dark Side: The Adventure Of A Lifetime

Do you wonder, these days, how we, as Americans, are ever going to get through these troubling times with Donald Trump in office?

It would be hard to be fully present to what is going on around us, day in and day out, under Trump’s administration and be completely at ease. 

But I am here to tell you, with all my many years of experience working with individuals, couples, families, groups and organizations, added to more than forty years of research and strategic intervention development, based on what Watergate taught me, that we, the citizens of the U.S.A., our Congressional representatives and our courts, are on the right and proper track.

Do you want to know why I believe this, so wholeheartedly, even though I, like yourself, am struggling most days to remain “tranquil”?

The bottom line for me can be found in the almost bottom line of my GRAD theory.

Interpreted it goes like this: The Dark Side (i.e. addictions and/or any other manifestation of the RSC) cannot hide out, indefinitely in a community. Community life will not sustain it!

The reason being:  Over the long haul the character aspects (of the Dark Side Warrior) are antithetical to community life – and – humans are, by nature, communal animals. Thus, in a democracy, to go against that which builds and sustains communal life cannot sustain itself, indefinitely. The weight of the majority will not tolerate it.

Trust in this! And, do your best to be the best you can to be a part of the healthy whole!

To the end of strengthening your resolve  -- and – your efforts to hold on to your hope, your highest ideals and your everyday commitments, today I am editing and adding to my description of the GRAD theory to provide you with highlights and guidelines to help you navigate this challenging era.  

The Power of One is what I am stressing, added to the power of the many.

Please use what I am offering! 

Apply the tenets laid out, as best you can. And contact me at:, if you need further assistance.

Together we can weather this storm, as people are doing, this very day, in surviving Hurricane Harvey in Texas.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

The Freedom To Choose And The Five Things I'm Electing In Order To Stay Sane In These Insane Times

“….. the last of the human freedoms, to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances,” 

...words of Viktor Frankl that have helped me transcend treacherous ordeals before, like losing my eyesight. 

When selecting a top of the line president from the bill of fare offered in “Election 2016” didn’t provide much of choice, what was the fall back alternative?

Certainly, we must, if we are to remain sane, make up our minds to work with what we’ve got in some reasonable way. Don’t you agree?

That's Plan B, as we have, collectively, elected a less than ideal preseident.

So, here’s what I’ve figured out….

I have been reaching for Frankl’s ideal to help me find my way through the duplicities of Donald Trump. I know I must, not only stay sane in this insane time that grows increasingly dark with each passing day, but, somehow, transcend the nightmare Trump is bringing to bear upon all good and honest people.

For months, I have risen above the stormy sea, then dipped back, again, into its torrential, soul-bashing waves. Thank goodness I’ve been strong enough to not sink. And, fortunate enough not to be sunk, as in not being an immigrant.  Thank goodness, my family's now got four generations to back up our right to be here!

I am certain you have been doing similarly. 

This is no longer a dress rehearsal, as we might have considered it to be, maybe around Halloween time last year, as we weighed in during the presidential campaign cycle, sorting out for ourselves for whom we should cast our one single vote.

Ha ha, if you think the grim reaper was only a costume! Fooled you, didn’t it, when that same darkness showed up in the formerly “White” House!

Look at this, will you? It’s been almost a year of our lives gone by, maybe more. Politics has become so personal that not a day goes by that I don't take, not only a peek at the weather forecast, but, minimally also, a survey of the news headlines. The weather report lets me know, ahead of time, if this will be an indoor or outdoor day. 

All well and good! 

However, it is the news that alerts me as to whether or not a metaphorical Hurricane Harvey is on my doorstep in the upheaval Donald Trump is creating that particular day. In those earlier campaign days, Hillary and Bernie, too, were not averse to keeping our lives stirred up. After all, this is what American politics is about – people bashing, crisis and chaos. Apparently to make a point, belonging to whomever’s agenda.

But how much bad weather can a person endure without getting far more than cabin fever, but an all-out sickness from undergoing the constant stress of such dire times?

Further, on my end, I, not only, abhor ceaseless bad weather, but I am not a political person, per se. I don’t find constant news and endless views entertaining, enlightening or intriguing. I do not aspire to build my life, paying attention to the daily news, the internet, talk radio, Twitter or Facebook, as a source of sustenance. 

I like the great outdoors, tending my deck top garden, watching the birds, especially the hummingbirds, and, in peace, the setting sun and the night sky.  And, most of all, being with people I care about and respect.

I find, even late night comedians, the Weekend Update of Saturday Night Live and Alec Baldwin, tedious, leaving me weary soul wanting, after a while. I seek something more that truly fills my heart and soul for a day I can enjoy.

It's been awful and still is!  And, no doubt, this will continue as the new normal, with no end in sight, right now.

But I do not intend to live this way!  I am intent on taking back the reins of my daily life, as best I can during these trying times!

Basic Step Number One For Me

Long ago, under the tutelage of my psychiatrist mentor, Marty Groder, I learned how to heal myself of my tendencies to be driven by a state of excitement (i.e. adrenalin addiction). I learned, too, that the inclination in this area was based on biology. And, that my free will gives me an out, as I come to understand and manage it, from that which I find unhealthy and that no longer satisfy me. 

So I am averse, now, to allowing Trump and Team to sabotage the tranquility I have worked so hard to establish in myself.

It has been a whole lot of work and relentless discipline to get where I am now, harkening back to my days, just after Watergate, when I left D.C. and its drama behind. So I am determined to sustain my tranquility, no matter what!  

Even with my intent, now, to return to that scene, the D.C. fast track, my plan is to reengage, somehow, sans the drama! 

Drama all around me, doesn't mean I have to be in it.

Here are the other four things I will now do in order to, personally, manage the great disturbance in the force, as I perceive it -- and -- keep moving forward in these crazy times.

Four More Things I Am Choosing To Help Me Stay Sane In These Insane Times

1. Having reviewed various perspectives on Donald Trump’s mental health – and – having found the diagnosis I can best live with, I pledge myself to now to proceed, as I would, ordinarily, as a therapist; our entire country on my couch, so to speak.

Additionally, I am figuring out how I might apply said experience and skills to my personal life. 

Thus I will give up trying to make sense of Trump’s insanity, accepting that I have a workable “clinical diagnosis,” as a working hypothesis, to help myself, and those closest to me, get on with the day, as best one can, with a mentally deranged person living in one’s midst!

Enough, I say, trying to making any further sense out of this man’s aberrant behavior!

Now, I will accept that it is what it is. And, go on to figuring out how to live with the insanity in our midst. I might even get bored enough with it all, to go fishing! 

2. Having had the miracle that Monday’s Eclipse brought me. That then brought New Horizons and I to StoryCorps; an idea that sprang up out of the blue/black of the skies, I now know how for me best to speak; the what, the when and the where.  

Thus I pledge myself to continue staying out of debates and other forms of controversial conversing – and – take up New Horizons next mission, storytelling in the service of: 1. Building bridges not walls; 2. Ensuring that I give and have ample, local community support to strengthen others and myself to make it through these turbulent times, as best we can.

Isn’t this what people should do in a hurricane? 

Figure out how best to lean in one's community (i.e. “think global/national and act local”)?

3. I also pledge that I will avail myself of the opportunities partnering with StoryCorps provides to, personally, speak my piece. 

How wonderful! 

And, with this opportunity, I, no longer will need to take center stage on my own. 

Instead I will be doing it, along with others in my community, sharing our stories of “tough people, getting through tough times,” for all of perpetuity. This I will do, in order to articulate my stance, my personal definition of self, while, at the same time, connecting with others in getting through this trying era.

Hopefully, this will be a way I will support and inspire others – and – more than anything – provide a legacy for my children and grandchildren and beyond, demonstrating, as best I can, what to do during challenging periods that, hopefully, will have their end, though we have no idea when. 

In other words, I pledge to be a role model and a leader of what to do when there is almost nothing to do. 

More than anything, I want the generations I leave behind to be able, if nothing else, to see in me, the Power of One in living action, now that I have figured out how best for me to speak my piece!

4. Finally, I will continue to update, as I go, my answers to the basic existential questions: 1. Who am I; 2.  Who you are; 3. What is everybody doing here; and 4. What am I supposed to do in this place, with circumstances such as they are -- and -- with people like you?

Hopefully, these steps and the answers to my several questions above, will help me take back the reins of my daily life and more fully detach from the chaos over which I have no control.

What are you up to on this challenge? I'd sure like to know and exchange stories with you.

So, let me hear from you by commenting here or by contacting me, directly at:

Have a happy day and let the news and views go!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

To Speak, Or Not To Speak? I Just Don’t Know

Maybe the issue for me is what to speak, how to speak, when and where.  So, for today, while I think further on this issue, here are a few of the things that stand out for me on the subject of “to speak, or not”:

I believe:
  • In conscious action and conscious inaction. This means, for me, that like my dear collaborator, Quaker Sue, I need to find my grounding before I speak out and take a stand on things
  • Also, like Sue, I am an introvert. So I may take longer to consider, in silence, what I want to speak before I take action;
  • That the power of one might be simply to not act, unless it’s the right action;
  • That it is even okay for me to act outrageous, if it suits me. Or that I might express myself in a vague or an obtuse way; much like the Sybils of ancient lore, known to be oracles. Or, like Coyote, the great trickster, who might even end up tricking himself.
Then, there is the issue of bashing people.

I like the AA principle of paying attention to principles rather than personalities. The kind of stuff I have listed below takes us into the realm of finger pointing, in my opinion.

But it is only opinion. Certainly not the gospel!

 While there might be some "principles" and even good intentions, people get too much into "blaming the actor" rather than actions 

This morning I found the proliferation of people bashing, at the cost of respecting and honoring the dignity of others, a bit over the top; the arrogance and one-sidedness of some that I read.  

Here are a few things that set me thinking a lot about the issue of speaking or not, leaving me to accept that, for today, at least, I just don’t know.

For example

On the subject of Steve Mnuchin

Ok, so his Yale classmates want him to resign. 

Is that okay for them to voice that opinion? I think, yes!

But he thinks not to take up their admonition.

Is somebody in the right here, or the wrong? I think not!

What I think: Everybody’s welcome to their opinion. Nobody has to be judged as right or wrong, just different views. Let it be! Everything doesn’t have to be a fight these days!

On the subject of Ivanka Trump’s “moral failing” regarding Charlottesville and Trump

What I think: Come on, folks. I surely wouldn’t join in with a public bashing of my dad. If I didn’t agree with him, I might say so. But not on twitter, you can be certain!

On the issue of Tina Fey and her cake eating suggestion/demonstration

What I think: I think Tina Fey is a trickster, like Coyote. Google offers these words on the trickster –
“Whatever the medicine is, good or bad, you can be sure it will make you laugh, maybe even painfully.
You can also be sure that Coyote will teach you a lesson about yourself.
Coyote has many magical powers, but they do not always work in his favor.”
Enough said! Different strokes for different folks. And, “for everything there is a season.”

For me leaning in, dialogue vs debate, blogs, storytelling, writing memoir, tranquility and centeredness are factors in my ways and means for speaking.

But that's me! The one time I did things in a way that, now, I think was rather thoughtless and out of character, I didn't like what came of it one bit. In fact, I am still trying to clean out the fall out!

Hearing and being heard make a difference to me, but with depth and substance.

Like with so many other human issues, it takes a village” of viewpoints, types of people, activities; cake baking and eating, tending babies, moms and dads and kids, students and teachers, people doing repair work, doctors, lawyers, activists, priests and rabbis to help us all get where we are going.

Find your way, Be sure I will be seeking mine, too, as we go along in this brave new world of ours. 

P.S. I found this piece on NBC today, Seven Ways To Be A  Better Activist.

 You might find it helpful as you go along sorting out your way to make a difference in these trying times.  Good luck, whatever you do! 

Just make it something you can be proud of, for always!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

The Moments That Change Us And Help Us Grow

Please join me in creating “moments that change us.”

See details for Joining The Tranquility Diet plan at end of post.

This morning I started the day by focusing my attentions on “tranquility.” Thus when I read two  NBC news articles on people standing up for their values, in ways that truly resonated with me, I felt I had company on the “what to do” track rather than the Dark Side, “what not to do” trail. 

Charlottesville Mayor Changes Position and Arts Committee Resigns En Masse reminded me what Compassionate Warrior-types do and that I am not alone in seeking the high road when some are “going low.” The actions reported in these article were demonstrating ways of fighting back against perceived tyranny – with heart, not aggression and violence!

I loved it!

Others, also, were taking steps that aligned with “My Tranquility Diet” pledge, made yesterday at New Horizons volunteer work day.

Oh my, how wonderful! 

The actions of these folks were in line with the words of Anne Frank when she said —
How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.
These leaders were doing it, today!

Thus for me, today, as it was, yesterday, out here in Harpers Ferry, the natural beauty that surrounds one here was as much in me as around me! 

Yesterday, I started the day feeling tranquil and moved into joy! Reading these articles is now helping me recreate that, again, today. Perhaps where we look for inspiration makes a huge difference.

Yesterday we planted fall harvest vegetables. Dug into corporate records to get them organized, had our usual steering committee activities, assessing New Horizons plans for the Fall and doing our general reaching-for-awe practices. It was a lovely day.

We even made good use of the thunderstorms that rose up during our time together, doing indoor kinds of things, involved mostly with our corporate records straightening-out project.

For me, personally, the highlight of the day, besides the planting of more beans and swiss chard, was Sue’s working with me in such a way, attributable to her beautiful gifts as a teacher and healer, resulting in my making a pledge to both New Horizons and myself to make living and being in a state of tranquility for one whole month as my top priority. Today is to be Day One, heading toward my destination of "mission complete" on September 18.

Because we are in such a state of flux, now, at New Horizons which affects me most, as Executive Director and as the person who is now intent on "coming out" of how I have been, into something bigger, this seems to be a wonderful path for us all. 

In the midst of our challenges, I will now be giving attention to staying calm – and – happy under stress and role modeling it for the others, concurrently.

We are having a taxing time, these days. With the chaos Trump is creating, keeping our country in an upheaval. That -- and -- the fact that many people are preferring polarization, presently, to being “united states,” has created a situation wherein we are almost out of work. Thus we must now re-define ourselves. This seems, at present, to possibly mean that we may need to be more selective in choosing who we deem to be appropriate to work with in designing our programs. 

The part about my “coming out” is testing me to the max, too, as I am now having to walk myself back through all the many reasons and accompanying thought and behavior patterns that have shaped me since leaving the D.C. fast track. What a learning process this is, definitely making my coming out a process rather than an event!

With only a few elements, solidly in place, such as: 1. Anastasia is now “coming out” of her leaving-D.C. –created-cocoon; 2. New Horizons stands for unity and that mission must be preserved at all costs; 3. New Horizons is now undergoing re-construction to make way for our new face in the era of Trump. 

When so many seem to prefer polarization to peace, Coffee House Conversations are not, now, in high demand. I definitely have my work cut out for me, especially given that “tranquility” needs to be my over-arching practice in the face of it all.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Joining The Tranquility Diet plan.

In the meantime, consider joining me in pledging to make “tranquility,” or some variation of it, as your priority for the coming month.  This is truly a Winners Paradigm adventure. One of its main tenets comes from the following thoughts of Viktor Frankl, a prominent psychiatrist who survived the Nazi concentration camps. as originally offered in his profound book, Man’s Search For Meaning, on how people lived and survived that ordeal – 
On Choice & Dignity 
But what about human liberty? Is there no spiritual freedom in regard to behavior and reaction to any given surroundings?  
We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.
Let’s discover together where choice and tranquility can take us, in the coming month, to living with this kind of “dignity”!

If you would join me, it would be like we are being diet or exercise buddies. 

Even better, we would be fellow travelers seeking “awe” in a time of extreme stress!  

What might that turn out to be like?

I’ll be posting my side of the adventure. And you, too, could share yours, by posting comments to what I write. 

You might even like to join me on my Anastasia The Storyteller Radio Show for a discussion on how you are doing staying on the “Tranquility Diet.” (One show we have already broadcast, on this theme, "When The Force Is Disturbed What Do We Do"? is now on podcast.)

Or, email me at: with your news.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Blessed Be! Tranquility Came To Me!

After posting the blog article I wrote yesterday, How To Avoid Being Trapped By Dark Side Leaders, Whoever They Might Be, which I had named and renamed three times before I just let it be, I simply, and not so simply, just gave up. 

I wasn’t happy, or even remotely satisfied, with it, as I sometimes feel after completing a piece. In fact the unsettled feeling it left me with continued to nag at me for hours afterward. Still I hadn’t quite been able to get across what I most wanted to convey. 

Off and on during the day, yesterday, I would review the hard copy of the article I had printed out, constantly finding things to add or subtract; points to clarify. By the time I finally decided to  let it go, it read like a hodgepodge to me. So I decided to give up and take my lumps, telling myself that I, obviously, still had much to learn about writing successful blog articles.

Oh well!

My first moments of “letting go” were followed by a bit of turbulence I thought I might ride through by a lovely evening outside under the stars, sitting in my favorite deck chair, reading under an outdoor light. That plan fared no better than my writing; the residents of an unfound hornet’s nest, had freed up its occupants to plague my tranquil evening.  They, too, liked the light!

Emptying my sixth can of Raid, attempting to stake out my territory, with its accompanying hazards, by this time, seemed too much to countenance further, I gave up and went inside to continue reading my juicy, summertime, who-done-it murder mystery.

Eventually bedtime rolled around and a good night’s sleep beckoned. So there I went. 

Somehow, during the night, a tranquility I have never felt since Trump’s election came into my being. Thus I woke up this morning with a peacefulness I hadn’t experienced for months. All that seemed to account for this is that I had, apparently, become the beneficiary of my own creative spirit, struggling throughout the day, yesterday to express myself, trying to come forth through my writing.

I had, somehow, reached my own consciousness, writing that article for readers.

Had Trump’s outrageous comments regarding the Charlottesville tragedy of the weekend finally crossed a no-return line in the sand for me? 

Or, had my feeble attempts at trying to encourage the loyal readers of my blogs, reminded my own self of principles I was trying to promote?

Maybe later, on this volunteer work day ahead out here, today, at the Harpers Ferry Retreat Center, especially with time, on the land, to spend with Sue, my collaborator, I will know what I don’t yet know about the peacefulness I am now experiencing. 

But, for now, the one thing I do know is that the article I wrote yesterday, added to the one I wrote last week on The Power Of One, plus another I particularly liked, Winners And Losers: A Paradigm For Each, have, somehow, brought me a magical moment wherein I feel wonderfully tranquil and detached, though no less observant, of the chaos surrounding each and every day in this country, with Trump in office!

From this place I can see myself, more and more, continuing to be active, if through my writing, teaching and storytelling, if in no other way, prompted to taking action, prompted not by agitation, as I fear so many are doing, but by Spirit direction, the kind of urging that comes of Divine guidance, hopefully without tinges of the dark.

I will now do my best, having experienced what it feels like, to more and more, strive for that beautiful tranquility that came to me this morning.

As pagan devotees like to say, Blessed Be!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

How To Avoid Being Trapped By Dark Side Leaders, Whoever They Might Be

Watergate showed me how to avoid colluding with Dark Side type leaders. What I have learned is keeping me relatively calm in the era of Trump. Most particularly I have learned to not get myself too deep into taking sides.

Most of us can see that Donald Trump is one of  those leaders who engage those who are subordinate into collusions and conspiracies in the service of the personal agendas of each. But leaders of this ilk are all around us. Do not be seduced by them.

Don't be one of those who gets hooked by this -- from anyone.  Rather find your way to stay as calm and centered in the personal values you trust most in yourself and leaders who have been tried and true for you. This is a way, I have found, to get through stormy weather.

Remember Pinocchio? He got hooked, off track with where he needed to be going and paid the price. Be smarter than Pinocchio.

Herein lies the core of codependency; one person leading the way into the addict game, others joining in for their own gains. Check yourself out on my Survivor/Addict Inventory to discover what might be your inclinations in this direction; collusion with the Dark Side.

Then, check out this link, Explore Your Dark Side to find guidelines that can assist you in staying on the high road, instead of the low. This link, Winner and Losers Paradigms can also help.

The better we can “see,” each of us independently, as well as collectively, we can be moving to “see” how goes the Swamp GAME  and how to get ourselves out of it. Being in the GAME is dependent on an absence of dealing with full reality and the related laws of nature, wholeness, health, and integrity. Anyone of us can be in it now, as we deal with what to do when president’s lie and the American public attempts to deal with the darkness.

The new tag line of the Washington Post offers us a way to think on this –
“Democracy dies in darkness”
Our job now is to keep searching for the Light. And stay on track with it. This is the Power Of One. Hold to it with all your might.

Ten Dark Side patterns that can pull you down into the "swamp"' that you may be complaining about while standing on the edge of it yourself.
  1.  Being judgmental, rather than analytical about the multitude of sides that are presently vying for power;
  2. Becoming extreme in your views about the chaos currently pervading our country;
  3. Getting hooked on the excitement the chaos is creating so that your own, personal life gets off balance;
  4. Spending excessive amounts of time watching the news, talk shows that keep you emotionally engaged in the present upheaval surrounding us;
  5. Not making room for face time with family and friends;
  6. Allowing your self to become unduly angry about things you are hearing about or reading so that you bring hostilities into your everyday relationships with others;
  7. Operating out of an enemy mentality about others;
  8. Finding yourself becoming reactive or volatile with people who think or feel differently than you; 
  9. Allowing yourself to sink into depression or feelings of hopelessness about our country;
  10. Believing that you, alone, are powerless and thus allowing yourself to become passive about taking problem solving actions.
Here is another of my personal stories, dating back to Watergate, having to do with dealing with the darkness in the Oval Office, beginning first with noticing it. Then learning from what you are seeing. Finally, applying lessons from what you are seeing to know what not to do.

 I offer it here, partially, to illustrate that learning how to do right things can take time and have many root causes that make this a challenge. But hangin' in will, eventually get you to clarity and comfort. 

This is how I began learning from a dark and troubling time, the era of Watergate, that changed my life, all for the good.

Watergate, in many ways, above and beyond all, showed me what not to do and why; the consequences of lying and other forms of manipulation and deception. Washington, D.C., at the time of my departure, was full up with this kind of interacting; a complete training ground for what not to do

In August, 1974, as I watched the Watergate hearings on the several days I spent in a hospital bed, awaiting cornea transplant surgery (in those days long ago procedures such as this were in patient, not outpatient), I had nothing to do but watch the television.

I had been hospitalized for days already. I was at the point in my life, then, when I had just exited being actively involved with the D.C. fast track. Taking leave of the business I had started there in 1966, I had just returned to college to finish up an undergraduate degree in psychology and had simultaneously started a post graduate clinical training program with the International Transactional Analysis Association (ITAA). Although I still had academics to complete, I had fortunately been able to qualify for the latter, the ITAA program, along with M.D.s, PhDs, MSWS and other highly credentialed professionals, due to a special provision.

Theoretically Transactional Analysis (TA) is, at its core, based on applying a studied understanding of the individual personality and, most importantly, how that individual functions in the world, healthfully or, alternatively, dysfunctionally.

So there I lay in my hospital bed, having just completed my first two years as a clinical trainee in this area of psychology, TA, entertaining myself, to pass my wait time, by analyzing the interpersonal transactions going on before me in the Watergate hearings.

It was the day before Nixon was to resign as president of our country. And I had now been hospitalized for several days already, watching the tv; knowing, without a doubt, that John Dean was telling the truth and Nixon lying. In retrospect one of the things that stands out most for me, about these days, was my certainty of this! While those around me seemed to still be uncertain; maybe confused by all that had happened, maybe in shock.

It was truly shocking to us that our president would lie to the American people. We were still recovering from the assassinations of three Beloved key leaders in our country, JFK, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy. Additionally, most of us had been raised celebrating the lives of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln in annual events in school. Further, we were not too far away from the days when both Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his wife, Eleanor, had easily merited our respect. 

Thus it was oxymoronic, for mainstream citizens to consider Richard Nixon, at that time, the President of the United States of America, as anything but close to heroic, give or take a political or personal flow, here and there. We did not yet know how to think in terms of our being betrayed by someone in this office. Now, for better or worse, we are no longer so innocent,

Nonetheless, I was certain on this day that Nixon was lying, without doubt, while others seemed still not to be. Many years later I came to think that the distinction between the others and myself may have been that though, unconscious at the time, I was viewing Nixon, as well as the  conspiracies and collusions surrounding him, as an actor behaving as I had seen my mother do. 

Thus in an odd way, watching the Watergate trials and the actions that led up to it, was like watching a day in my family; essentially same nuances, same kind of lying, denying, manipulating and colluding. 

Growing up my mother and her family were a replication of Nixon’s White House! But this I did not realize until decades later.

Nonetheless, over the years following Nixon’s resignation, a determination and a passion to know and understand the interpersonal dynamics of Watergate developed in me. I wanted to become so familiar with all of this that, as a professional, I could become adept at transforming the dysfunctions I witnessed. 

I would, thus, know how to turn the dark side into the Light. This insatiable yearning brought me to study under the guidance of a psychiatrist mentor, Martin G. Groder, M.D. who had learned his lessons about the dark side as the second prison psychiatrist at the the federal corrections facility, built to replace Alcatraz, the Marion Federal Penitentiary.

My three, still unpublished Random House books, document the many theories and clinical interventions Groder taught me, added to what I learned of basic TA. That is what has brought me here, now, with every cell of my heart and soul yearning for the American people to rise above darkness in any leader and/or his/her associates.

I have been most fortunate to, also, eventually, long after my days with Groder, to find another mentor, Murat Yagan, who helped me go even further on the quest the Watergate break-in and resulting upheaval prompted. Murat and the community of people that gathered to learn the teachings of his ancient Abkhazian culture from him, showed me an even higher path to seek; all about what to do instead of not do! 

Watergate showed me what darkness looked like, especially when lies and power abuses are the primary elements of it. Murat helped me see Light and how to keep striving for it. Watergate (and ITAA and Marty) showed me what not to do. Murat showed me what to do.

I've been learning what to do instead ever since. It is definitely a discipline, most importantly shared with other of like mind who help one another stay on track.

I hope you are learning too, what to do. And every day, conscientiously, applying what you learn.

It is truly a life-long endeavor. But well worth the effort!

These are the days when “all good men (and women) to come to the aid of”….. truth, goodness and integrity, a philosophy originally attributed to Patrick Henry.

For “all that is necessary for evil to succeed is for good men (and women) to do nothing,” a philosophy originally attributed to parliamentarian Edmund Burke.