#DoYou10Q? Rosh Hashona through Yom Kippur, September 29 – October 10 (#Jewish New Year High Holidays), Read, Respond, Review, Forecast

#DoYou10Q? Rosh Hashona through Yom Kippur, September 29 – October 10
(#Jewish New Year High Holidays), Read, Respond, Review, Forecast

It’s not too late, and you don’t have to be Jewish or celebrate #Jewish High Holy Days (Rosh Hashona, Jewish New Year’s, and Yom Kippur, the “Day of Atonement”) to want to spend some time considering your life and your goals/accomplishments each year. I was raised Jewish, but I am a practicing #Buddhist.

 

Do You 10Q any dates

It’s free! http://doyou10Q.com and #DoYou10Q are the connection points.

Check out any local Partners with 10Q: http://doyou10q.com/partners: Reach out to Josh Kanter, Reboot’s outreach and partnership manager, at josh @ rebooters DOT net or (go to the site for his phone number (in the USA)].<

You can respond to all 10 Questions from September 29 through October 10, online, and have them put into the “vault” for yourself for next year’s reflections.

10Q: “Reflect. React. Renew. Life’s Biggest Questions. Answered By You.”

The title and all the info, below, come from the 10Q site. Visit! Sign up! Do it!
http://doyou10q.com/

“Answer one question per day [or more than one per day, if you have some to catch up on] in your own secret online 10Q space. Make your answers serious. Silly. Salacious. However you like. It’s your 10Q. When you’re finished, hit the magic button and your answers get sent to the secure online 10Q vault for safekeeping.

“One year later, the ‘vault’ will open and your answers will land back in your email inbox for private reflection.

“Want to keep them secret? Perfect. Want to share them, either anonymously or with attribution, with the wider 10Q community? You can do that, too.

“Next year, the whole process begins again. And the year after that, and the year after that.

“Do you 10Q? You should. If you have, already, enter the “giveaway” by sharing one or more experiences and using the hashtag, as directed:


Click here to get your 10Q on.

10Q begins September 29, 2019, and goes for 10+ days
http://doyou10q.com/


Here are my responses to some of the 11 questions (same questions each year), from 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015 and 2014:

2018

-1) Describe a significant experience that has happened in the past year. How did it affect you? Are you grateful? Relieved? Resentful? Inspired?

My Answer:

2017-2018 was the first full year of my life, since I was 12, that I haven’t worked for money in any type of job. This was not on purpose (I applied for dozens), and if it weren’t for the generosity of my mother (who has let me live with her since I suffered a TBI in 2014) and my son (who has given me money several times in the last year) as well as my having taken early Social Security and being eligible for some (a vert low but useful amount of money for) Food Stamps (SNAP), I don’t know what I would have done. I am grateful for all of that.

But, for over 19 months, now, I’ve had no health insurance except for dental. I will soon need new glasses that I cannot afford. I pay (with my son’s help) for acupuncture and Chinese herbs for my physical ailments. Otherwise, I see a Western medical doctor for only one visit each year so that I can qualify for my prescription medications. For that visit, I applied for and got the fees waived due to my low income. Grateful for that option as well. Fortunately, my three prescriptions are not the extremely costly variety, because I also have to pay for those myself.

I keep trying to get work, but due to many factors, such as: employers’ ageism and/or their preference for hiring someone who will “stay a while”; my extensive experience (which intimidates many potential employers who have a lot less than I do); the dearth of appropriate jobs for my skill set and education where I live; my physical limitations; and, my mission-based choosiness, I have not succeeded in being hired even when it’s “down to the finalists,” which has occurred several times.

Meanwhile, I’ve earned a grand total of less than $50 this year for book sales and editing/proofreading gigs.

I’ve been wondering when/if I’ll ever earn money as a wage worker again (I am now 64)?

We’ll see. I pray for all those who are in even worse situations, who have no family to fall back on, no Social Security, no SNAP(Food Stamps), no hope.

May all beings have shelter, food, comfort, meaningful work, and physical safety.

-4) Describe an event in the world that has impacted you this year. How? Why?

My Answer:

 

The failures, travesties, horrors, lies, greed and malfeasance as well as outright criminality of the current Republican party and particularly the Trump administration are staggeringly disheartening, frightening and disgusting. Having lived through Nixon/Watergate and all of Vietnam, Bill Clinton, both Bushes and Reagan, I thought I’d seen the worst of USA politics. I was so wrong!

I’ve never been so ashamed to be a citizen of this country nor a member of the human species as I have this year.

This year (and many more to come) are consequentially tragic for so many; merely awful, for me and so many others.

-11) What are your predictions for the coming year?

My answers are in plain type; actual outcomes are in bold type:

 

For me personally:
1) My son and his wife will purchase a home and move into it which has space for me to live, when I’m ready, which will “solidify” my “next phase” living plans;
NOT YET
2) I will find meaningful and lucrative work and/or keep writing and start earning more money from that;
NOPE
3) I will complete a mini-retreat at least once/year, somehow, starting in November, 2018;
Did manage a 9-day retreat this past May – June!  Yay! Am also doing more regular 1/2-day and multiple-hour meditation sessions on “weekdays,” since I’m not working, still. 
4) My relationship with my spiritual teacher will continue to be on a positive footing;
YES!
5) I will make at least one new and significant friend and possibly start an intimate relationship in the next 12 months;
Rekindled a long-distance friendship this summer with a dharma friend that is very fun, challenging, beneficial to us both and wonderful to have. No intimate relationships, though.
6) My health will continue to improve and/or stabilize at a good level.
Yes, but still very overweight.

For our country/the world:
1) Dems will get a majority in all parts of the government so that Trump and his family members (except for Tiffany and Barron), Pence, McConnell, Ryan, and many others will join their already-sentenced criminal comrades to be indicted, plead guilty, be sentenced, impeached, removed, and we will have the movement toward having a special election in 2020 for a new administration;
IT IS HAPPENING! Voted many GOP Reps out at all levels, and many resignations gave Dems the House and many new seats in the Senate (but voter suppression/voting machine fraud/Republican shenanigans, including gerrymandering, moving and removing polling places, giving wrong dates for polling, collection and not counting absentee ballots, etc., gave the criminals the Senate majority).
#Impeachment proceedings began yesterday (9/24/19)! YAY!
Indict, imprison, remove them ALL! 

2) All the horrible policies, decisions and edicts enacted by the previous administration will be removed, rolled back, ended, fixed;
PLEASE! 
3) All the children will be found and returned to their families who are currently illegally detained and/or sold/”adopted” away from their families;
PLEASE! 
4) Melania Trump will divorce Donald Sr.;
NOT YET.
5) Elizabeth Warren, Sally Yates, Kamala Harris and many other great female leaders will rise to the top of government offices;
Two are running for President for 2020! 
6) The newest Supreme Court Justices will include great judges who will replace Kennedy, Scalia’s illegal replacement appointee, and Thomas (who will be impeached as well) so that RBG can retire with dignity;
IMPEACH Kavanaugh and Thomas, remove Gorsuch, and we’ll be golden! 
7) New election and electoral college (ABOLISHED) rules and laws will be put into place so we never have another situation like the one we have had in/since 2016 (ending voter suppression, gerrymandering, closing polls, arbitrary ID laws, etc., that disproportionately disfavor minorities);
Stacey Abrams is ON IT! 
8) The USA will come “on board” for climate change, arms reduction, ending ALL armed conflicts and becoming a beacon of peace, again.
Thanks to Greta Thunberg, things are moving in the right direction in some areas! 

One can hope….

2017

-1) Describe a significant experience that has happened in the past year. How did it affect you? Are you grateful? Relieved? Resentful? Inspired?

My Answer:

This has been a very strange year, professionally.

—I went back to work as a teacher for the first time in many decades just before the new year started, but was mistreated, disrespected, slandered, libeled and driven out of the job within 6 months. Even though I felt somewhat satisfied as a teacher (reaching students no one else had been able to reach, helping several complete their G.E.D.s, and moving others along who had been stalled,) and a teacher trainer (my co-teacher had never had education to be a teacher; she had been a vet, so she had said that she learned a lot from me), the attendance dwindled so much that we often only had 1 or 2 students for weeks at after Jan. 2., It was a complete waste of my time and skills to be there. I was relieved to be “laid off” in mid-February, 2017.

—Despite much effort, many applications and several interviews, I still haven’t [as of September, 2018] found a good place to put my skills, experience, knowledge and expertise to use. Why is that?

—I also haven’t finished my fourth Volume in my sci-fi series even though it has been more than 3/4 finished for over [two years]. My urge to write has flown.

—I stopped doing my online conversational talk show about one year ago as well, due to technical problems (not mine; YouTube’s) that took more than a month to resolve. By the time I could return to it, I didn’t want to do that any longer, either.

I feel guilty, as if I’m wasting my life. I have so much to offer and nowhere to offer it.

What to do with myself, professionally, is the burning question of my 64th year on this planet. Hope I can figure that out.

-4) Describe an event in the world that has impacted you this year. How? Why?

My Answer:

The stolen election (third one Republicans have stolen in my lifetime, that I know of) and its aftermath has impacted the entire planet adversely. I am appalled, disgusted, afraid and angry almost constantly because of all that. The worst-ever nominees and accepted Cabinet members and judges; the worst-ever Congress and Senate: cowards, liars, criminals and sociopaths are running our country into the ground and all its resources and the safety of the planet are at stake.

We need help. I wish the aliens of my series from the Many Worlds Collective would come NOW and save us all from ourselves. http://www.sallyember.com/Spanners for inspiration, hope and consolation.

-11) What are your predictions for the coming year?

My Answer:

#45 will resign to avoid impeachment but will NOT avoid criminal prosecution; as he leaves, he will take his whole damned criminal family, that moronic, lying, bigoted VP and most of his cabinet and other appointees with him.

The entire country will rise up to avoid having the lying, disgusting Paul Ryan or any other UNELECTED President to take office, so the USA will have a special election, paper ballots only, and Bernie Sanders will be elected.

We can dream, can’t we?

2016

–Describe a significant experience that has happened in the past year. How did it affect you? Are you grateful? Relieved? Resentful? Inspired?

My Answer:

I had an up-close-and-personal experience with the American judicial and jury system and I was very disappointed and discouraged from it all. From the attorneys to the judges, the jurors to the laws: all crap, and not in favor of actual justice for the plaintiff, ever, as far as I could tell.
I was severely injured (and still recovering) in a trip-and-fall in a restaurant that was clearly liable and negligent, causing there to be obstacles in the path of a patron which a patron could not easily see. The jury actually agreed on that. However, due to archaic laws, lobbying by the insurance greedies and other mistakes in jurisprudence (which disallowed anyone from actually informing the jury how the “awards” they intended to go to me would be apportioned or the fact the restaurant owner would not pay a dime due to his having insurance), I got nothing, my lawyer was out $30K, and I owe many thousands of dollars to family and friends. I am grateful to all who have helped and continue to help me, but resentful and angry at the unfair outcome of my two+ years of misery.
I am an educated, white, older woman with intelligent and supportive friends and family. I can only shudder to imagine how this “justice” system grinds up those without support or resources and other people who are already on the short end of every stick.
USA justice isn’t.

–Describe an event in the world that has impacted you this year. How? Why?

My Answer:

The Marriage Equality Act’s being confirmed as the law of the USA by the Supreme Court was a giant step in the right direction for equal rights for all individuals regardless of sexual orientation. As a bisexual woman who eschewed marriage for many reasons, inequality being among them, I am glad to see people who want to get married being able to do.

2015

Describe a significant experience that has happened in the past year. How did it affect you? Are you grateful? Relieved? Resentful? Inspired?

My Answer:

I was able to reconnect with my meditation practice in March & May and again in early Sept. through instruction and connection with my spiritual teacher, Lama Drimed, after many false starts, attempts, painful absences and confusions as well as hurt feelings on my part.

So happy about all that!

Describe an event in the world that has impacted you this year. How? Why?

My Answer:

The upholding of Marriage Equality laws and the enforcing of them across the USA and in other countries feels like a giant victory.

Looser laws, releasing noncriminals from prison when their only “crime” is possession of marijuana, and eventual legalization of marijuana/cannabis use across the USA and other countries also seem imminent, due to the vast success (economic and social) of those places in which it is already legal and those changes have already occurred; another set of great victories.

I appreciate the egalitarians’ winning. I appreciate common sense’s prevailing. I appreciate nondiscrimination’s being enforced. Feels right and good.

Have you had any particularly spiritual experiences this past year? How has this experience affected you? “Spiritual” can be broadly defined to include secular spiritual experiences: artistic, cultural, and so forth.

My Answer:

Due to a TBI [Traumatic Brain Injury] in April, 2014, I went from not being able to meditate for almost one year (after meditating consistently for over 42 years) to restoring my practice, slowly, bit by bit. Very grateful to my spiritual teacher, sangha and good fortune that this has been possible.

Returning to my practice is like coming home.

How would you like to improve yourself and your life next year? Is there a piece of advice or counsel you received in the past year that could guide you?

My Answer:

My meditation teacher reminded me that meditation practice in our tradition comes from our heart center, not our brain area. The Tibetans use a term that means “heart-mind” when talking about the mind.

My wish to improve myself and my practice is to keep it centered in my heart. “Meditation: it’s not what you think.”

2014

Describe an event in the world that has impacted you this year. How? Why?

My Answer:

Many science discoveries: proof of the multiverse, ability to teleport particles, invention of pre-tractor beam technology, getting paralyzed rats and others to walk, moving limbs and other things with just the mind: so much!

Very exciting, and all goes into research I use for The Spanners Series books!

What is a fear that you have and how has it limited you? How do you plan on letting it go or overcoming it in the coming year?

My Answer:

Fear getting more unhealthy instead of more healthy over the next several years. Fear not getting my full meditation practice/brain function restored. Fear being unconnected to community/friends, no lover, no one close to me where I live.
Plan to keep exercising, eating better, reaching out to Buddhist and other groups (writers, Jews, work) to make friends.
Plan to stay in touch with my teacher.

What are your predictions for 2015?

My Answer:

Movement toward reducing and ending full-impact football, hockey, etc. (headers in soccer, e.g.), in youth and college sports.

More states’ legalizing marijuana.

More states’ ratifying gay marriage.

Proof of alien life on other planets.

How do you want to 10Q? It’s up to you!

Got balls? Or, know someone who does? READ AND SHARE! #medical #testicular #testicle #cancer #surgery

Got balls? Or, know someone who does?
READ AND SHARE!
#medical #testicular #testicle #cancer #surgery
A youngish (aged 38), white, employed man—one with great health insurance in the USA—first noticed a pea-shaped/-sized nodule in one testicle while doing a manual self-exam over 10 years ago. At that time and for each subsequent year, he kept having that testicle checked by his doctor.
He noticed that that testicle had felt and looked different from the other one almost right away. During these 10 years, that testicle kept shrinking (and he never took steroids, which are known to cause shrinking balls), but otherwise, it didn’t change much.
shrunken testicle
Every doctor he saw told him that this shrinking testicle problem was “nothing to be concerned about.” Some diagnosed it as something like a “varicose vein” problem (varicocele); others said it was a “dysfunctional” or “atrophied” testicle. No one seemed concerned.
NO ONE suggested, nor did this young man know to request, an ultrasound, which is what SHOULD have happened, right away.
The major change that occurred about 6 months ago (over 10 years later) was that this shrunken testicle began to grow, to swell and to hurt. He said it felt as if he had pulled a groin muscle. It also looked even more different from his other testicle, on the outside of the scrotum.
When he went in to his doctor, he was having trouble walking because he was in some pain, but he still thought he may have pulled a groin muscle. That internist again did not suggest an ultrasound and only gave him the most cursory manual exam.
The doctor told him: “If it hurts more or changes again, I’ll refer you to a specialist.”
Six months later, in early November, those types of changes happened: more pain, even more swelling. This time, the young man knew that this was not a pulled muscle.
When he called his doctor, he was referred to and then quickly scheduled an appointment to be seen by a urologist.
why see a urologist
That doctor did a much more thorough manual and visual examination, asked a lot more questions, spent more time. This doctor concluded without hesitation that this testicle was a problem and ordered an ultrasound, to occur a few days later.
The ultrasound (which was painful and that pain lasted several days, BTW), confirmed that the testicle had “multiple masses” internally, something no man wants to hear.
ultrasound testicles
NOT this man’s ultrasound, but similar; from http://www.ceessentials.net/article42.html
The urologist explained the possibilities (none great) and then immediately scheduled for that testicle’s contents to be removed one week later. This inguinal (through the lower abdomen) surgery was to be done in order to find out, by removing and sending the contents for pathological analysis, whether or not these masses were cancerous (probably were), and, if so, what kind.
The surgery took about one hour. Luckily, everything went fine.
Cross-Sectional Diagram of Inguinal Surgery Procedure to Remove Testicular Mass
inguinal surgery for testicular cancer
Post-surgery, the urologist seemed optimistic about the “containment” or “encapsulation” of these masses within the scrotum (best possible outcome). The urologist mentioned that, by his observations of the scrotal contents’ look, color and texture, the masses were likely to be seminomas (also known as pure seminomas or classical seminomas).
Seminoma is “a germ cell tumor of the testicle or, more rarely, the mediastinum or other extra-gonadal [outside the scrotum] locations. It is a malignant neoplasm and is one of the most treatable and curable cancers, with a survival rate above 95%, if discovered in early stages.”  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seminoma

Seminoma “is a slow-growing form of testicular cancer found in men in their 30s, 40s and 50s. The cancer is in the testes, but it can spread to the lymph nodes. Lymph node involvement is either treated with radiotherapy or chemotherapy. Seminomas are very sensitive to radiation therapy.”  https://medlineplus.gov › Medical Encyclopedia
seminoma-morphology-n
However, the man had to wait for pathology (to be available five – seven days later or sooner) to hear if he had to have any “next steps” (e.g., radiation or chemotherapy), or if he’s “clear” (presumed to be cancer-free).
If he’s presumed to be cancer-free at this first checkpoint,  he and his doctor are on “watch and report frequently” duty, which means that, for about 10 years, the man is to:
1) continue doing monthly self-exams of the other testicle and the empty scrotum and
2) schedule visits for ultrasound or CAT scans every 3 – 6 months.
If, at any time, post-surgery, the cancer seems to have spread or MAY have spread, a treatment regime is proposed, agreed to and then started. This could include radiation, chemotherapy, and/or more surgery, depending upon what is detected.
For THIS man, his story has this “outcome” (for now):
This man’s blood tests were clear: no tumor cancer markers, but the surgeon said there was some “leakage” outside of the testis. There were no signs of any other masses.
The urologist  ordered CT scans to determine if any of these masses had spread (metastasized. which everyone always hopes cancer does not do). he told this man that getting the scans was “not urgent,” but should be done “soon.”
The surgeon also referred him to an oncologist (cancer specialist), who would go over all these results with him and help him understand his options and decide how to proceed at that point. [I will update this saga after all that has occurred.]
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NOTES TO ALL HUMANS between the ages of 15 – 50 who have testicles, DO THESE THINGS:
Self-exams (manual and visual) are crucial (which is the way this man first found the nodules);
testicle self exam
the above graphic and the video, below, were posted by: Justin Birckbichler on Twitter:

—Get better-informed internists, so that early detection via ultrasound is routine.
If you know a or you are a human under 50 with testicles (self-identified as “male” or not), spread the word!
ANY nodules, masses, pain, changes in size or texture of a testicle MUST be reported to a doctor AND that doctor should refer to a urologist and/or should request immediately to have an ultrasound, for diagnostic purposes. 
Unless scans can prove a mass/nodule is only a fluid-filled cyst (epididymal cysts, which are quite common, painless and harmless), the affected testicle will probably be emptied out from within (an inguinal surgery, which this man, above, had), or the testicle itself is to be removed completely, ASAP.
This surgery generally works very well and urologists do it frequently, so they have the procedure down. This does involve having general anaesthesia and cutting, and, therefore, has associated risks, but most do fine with this procedure.
The surgery is usually done as an “outpatient” procedure, meaning, the person goes home that same day/night.
Depending on several factors—the general health of the person and the type of surgery done as well as the pathology results—full recovery may take 4 – 6 weeks or longer. During this time, the recovery may have restrictions (no heavy lifting or pulling, no airline travel, limited sitting, lots of rest vs. work or ordinary schedule) but walking and other non-strenuous exercises are encouraged right away.
Success and recovery rates for this type of cancer are quite high:
99% if the cancer has not spread;
96% if it has.

STILL: early detection is key.

 

testicular-cancer-prevention

FMI: 

Signs and symptoms of testicular cancer include:
  • A lump or enlargement in either testicle.
  • A feeling of heaviness in the scrotum.
  • A dull ache in the abdomen or groin.
  • A sudden collection of fluid in the scrotum.
  • Pain or discomfort in a testicle or the scrotum.
  • Enlargement or tenderness of the breasts.
  • Back pain.


There are several causes of testicular lumps and swellings:

  • varicocele – caused by enlarged veins in the testicles (may look like a bag of worms)
  • hydrocele – a swelling caused by fluid around the testicle
  • epididymal cyst – a lump caused by a collection of fluid in the epididymis
  • testicular torsion – a sudden painful swelling that occurs when a testicle becomes twisted (this is a medical emergency and requires surgery as soon as possible)
  • epididymitis – a chlamydia infection in the epididymis can cause inflammation, swelling and tenderness inside the scrotum (ball sack); a few men will notice that the whole of the scrotum is red and tender (this is called epididymo-orchitis)
  • testicular cancer – an estimated 4 in 100 lumps are cancer, so this is an uncommon cause of lumps

Types of testicular cancer

The different types of testicular cancer are classified by the type of cells the cancer begins in.
The most common type of testicular cancer is “germ cell testicular cancer,” which accounts for around 95% of all cases. Germ cells are a type of cell that the body uses to create sperm.
There are two main subtypes of germ cell testicular cancer. They are:

  • seminomas – which have become more common in the past 20 years and now account for 50 to 55% of testicular cancers
  • non-seminomas – which account for most of the rest and include teratomas, embryonal carcinomas, choriocarcinomas and yolk sac tumors

Both types tend to respond well to chemotherapy.
Less common types of testicular cancer include:

  • Leydig cell tumors – which account for around 1 to 3% of cases
  • Sertoli cell tumors – which account for around 1% of cases
  • lymphoma – which accounts for around 4% of cases
**************************************************
Think you or someone you know needs a monthly reminder to do a self-exam?
If you/they have a texting phone, show them this:
Text 81010 to @selfexam to receive a monthly text message reminder!
self-exam reminder text
checking balls app

Our Ball Checker mobile app provides a few facts every guy and girl should know about testicular cancer as well as how to do a testicular self exam. If you have testicles or know someone that does, then you should get this app.

With early detection testicular cancer is almost 100% survivable but lack of awareness leads to late diagnosis and unfortunate outcomes. The lack of awareness and education is one of the biggest challenges we have in the fight against testicular cancer.

Make sure you and the men in your life have the knowledge that could end up saving their life.

A Moment of Awkwardness Could Save A Lifetime. Talk About Testicular Cancer.

**************************************
Best of luck and good health to you all!
****************************************
Some other info and worst-case scenarios information:

“Dr Turnbull and her team uncovered new genetic mutations in testicular germ cell tumours, which make up the vast majority of testicular cancers. They found new chromosome duplications and other abnormalities that could contribute to the development of this cancer, as well as confirming a previous association with a gene called KIT.

“Their study also found defective copies of a DNA repair gene called XRCC2 in a patient who had become resistant to platinum-based chemotherapy. They were able to support the link between XRCC2 and platinum resistance by sequencing an additional platinum-resistant tumour.

“’Although generally testicular cancer responds well to treatment, resistance to platinum-based chemotherapy is associated with a poor long-term survival rate,’ explains Dr Turnbull. ‘The repercussions of these findings could be significant for men suffering with this disease. In the future, men who are destined to fail platinum treatment— currently around 3% of cases—could be identified before they endure courses of chemotherapy and be offered different treatments, more suited to their particular type of tumour.’”

from: https://www.icr.ac.uk/news-features/latest-features/understanding-why-some-men-still-die-from-testicular-cancer

*******************
“If the cancer has spread, the patient may get treatments like radiation or chemotherapy. The cancer will come back in about 15% to 20% of patients, most often as spread to lymph nodes , but if it does, radiation or chemo can still usually cure the cancer.”
*************

Seminomas

Stage I

“These cancers can be cured in nearly all patients. You first have surgery to remove the testicle and spermatic cord (called a radical inguinal orchiectomy). After surgery, you have many treatment choices:

“Careful observation (surveillance): If the cancer has not spread beyond the testicle, the plan most experts prefer is that you be watched closely by your doctor for up to 10 years. This means getting physical exams and blood tests every 3 to 6 months for the first year, and less often after that. Imaging tests (CT scans and sometimes chest x-rays) are done every 3 months for 6 months, and then once or twice a year.

“If these tests do not find any signs that cancer has spread beyond the testicle, no other treatment is needed. If the cancer has spread, you may get treatments like radiation or chemo. The cancer will come back in about 15% to 20% of patients, most often as spread to lymph nodes , but if it does, radiation or chemo can still usually cure the cancer.

“Radiation therapy: Radiation aimed at para-aortic lymph nodes is another option. These nodes are in the back of your abdomen (belly), around the large blood vessel called the aorta. Because seminoma cells are very sensitive to radiation, low doses can be used and you’ll get about 10 to 15 treatments over 2 to 3 weeks.

“Chemotherapy: An option that works as well as radiation is 1 or 2 cycles of chemotherapy with the drug carboplatin after surgery. Many experts prefer chemo over radiation because it seems to be easier to tolerate.”

Survival by stage

“There are no UK-wide statistics available for testicular cancer survival.

“Survival statistics are available for the different stages of testicular cancer in one area of England. These figures are for men diagnosed between 2002 and 2006. They don’t provide information about the type of testicular cancer or tumour marker level.

“The [data] below are for 4 stages of testicular cancer. Your doctor may use a different system that only has 3 stages.

Stage 1

“Almost all men survive their cancer for five years or more after diagnosis.

“Stage 1 means the cancer is only in the testes.”

Stage 2

“Almost 95 out of 100 men (almost 95%) survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis.

“Stage 2 means the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes.”

Pure seminoma

“Pure seminoma means that there are no teratoma cells in the tumour. You will have normal Alpha fetoprotein (AFP) marker levels if you have pure seminoma.

“There are two categories of outlook for pure seminoma testicular cancer – good prognosis and intermediate prognosis. No one with pure seminoma is classified as having a poor prognosis.”

Good prognosis

“Almost 90 out of every 100 men (almost 90%) survive for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed.

“Most men have a good prognosis. Good prognosis means that the seminoma has spread only to the lymph nodes or the lungs. It has not spread anywhere else.”

Intermediate prognosis

“More than 70 out of every 100 men (more than 70%) survive for 5 years or more after diagnosis.

“Intermediate prognosis means that the seminoma has spread beyond the lung or lymph nodes to other parts of the body, such as the brain or liver.”

Survival for all stages of testicular cancer

“The outlook for testicular cancer is one of the best for all cancers. Nearly all men survive their disease.” [NOTE: in the 1970s, this statistic was almost the opposite: 90% DIED from it!]

“In England and Wales:

  • almost all men will survive their cancer for 1 year or more after they are diagnosed
  • almost all men (98%) will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis

“Unlike some other cancers, it is rare for testicular cancer to come back more than 5 years later.”

from: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/testicular-cancer/treating/by-stage.html

and from:
************************************
“First Targeted Cancer Drug Approved Based on Mutation Rather than Tumor Type”
Please read and share this detailed, informative article about new ways to treat cancer, especially unusual types, particularly in those individuals with specific mutations.
from:

Grateful for Musicians, Singers, Musical Leaders who “keep on keeping on” in “The Movement(s)”

Grateful for Musicians/Singers/Leaders
who “keep on keeping on” in “The Movement(s)”


from http://www.lovethispic.com/image/150339/keep-on-keeping-on

I spent a wonderful (but kind of sad; see below) evening last week (Friday, May 4), at Emerson Unitarian Universalist Chapel in St. Charles, Missouri, USA, listening to the fabulous Roy Zimmerman sing, talk, and cleverly satirize many social, political, cultural and legal developments and issues from the last several decades.


Roy Zimmerman, ReZist show, performing in St. Charles, MO, 5/4/18

Roy Zimmerman is the most recent addition to my life’s intentional collection of dozens of extremely talented and special musicians, writers, filmmakers, poets, playwrights, other artists and performers and, of course, political/social leaders who continue to inspire, encourage and demonstrate commitment to whatever movements they believe most in. These often outspoken heroes and heroines also collaborate with and support others day after day, week after week, year after year, decades on decades.

Is there a category—a title—for such a role in our culture? I wish I knew what it is or could invent one. IDEAS HERE, please: http://www.sallyember.com/blog

I wanted to take a moment, here, to name the ones I can remember best who have personally inspired, entertained, encouraged and led me, and without whom I would certainly have given up feeling optimistic and collectively working for positive change a long time ago.

“Big Mike” Lainoff

—My first and most treasured inspiration is the recently-deceased and much-missed former director of the four JCCA (Jewish Community Center Association [of St. Louis]) summer camps I attended as a child and teen: Camp Council (a day camp), and residential Lake of the Ozark area camps, Camp Hawthorn, Red Bud Camp and their successor, Camp Sabra, Harold “Big Mike” Lainoff (I wrote about him prior to this). In addition to being a recreation manager/leader, Big Mike was a gifted guitar player/singer/songleader and storyteller who could captivate, involve and educate a mess hall or a campfire of over a hundred rowdy kids, teens and staff for long periods of time despite pouring rain, high humidity, blazing heat and roaring wind. Amazing.


“Big Mike” Lainoff, circa 1965, Camp Hawthorn, Kaiser, MO (Lake of the Ozarks)

When I first heard Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie‘s songs and stories, I thought they had stolen them from Big Mike (I was 7 when I met Big Mike…). Later, I realized it was the other way around. But, who cares? Big Mike brought Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, Arlo Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Peter, Paul & Mary, Phil Ochs, John Lennon, Tom Paxton, Donovan, Jackson Browne, Tom Lehrer, Judy Collins, Odetta, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Joni Mitchell and many more USA civil rights’ and social activists’ songwriters’ lyrics and melodies directly to us—mostly Jewish kids, from the suburbs of St. Louis, in the 1960s—while we learned to swim, make campfires, pitch tents, hike, canoe, sail, waterski and so much more.

I grew to love these songs whose lyrics explained class differences, racial injustices, yearnings for peace and equality, deep and abiding love for each other and for a special person, recognitions of mistakes and ways to rectify them, inchoate longings for a better world and to be a better person. I learned the words and melodies and sang them to myself all year long, for decades. I still remember most of them: “Banks of Marble,” “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “Respect,” “The Song is Love,” “Both Sides Now,” “Fountain of Sorrow,” “Changes,” “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” “Reel, Oh Reel,” “Oleanna,” “Ain’t Gonna Study War No More,” “Summertime,” “Leavin’ on a Jet Plane,” “If I Had a Hammer,” “We Shall Overcome,” “There But For Fortune,” “The Draft Dodger’s Rag,” “Imagine,” “One Tin Soldier,” “The Sounds of Silence,” “This Land Is Your Land,” “Universal Soldier,” “Big Yellow Taxi,” “Black and White,” “What Have They Done to the Rain?” “Oh, Freedom,” “Hair,” “The Power and the Glory,” “I Ain’t Marchin’ Any More,” “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy,” “Outside Of A Small Circle Of Friends,” “The Circle Game,” “Fixin’ to Die Rag,” “Turn! Turn! Turn!” “We Shall Not Be Moved,” “Four Strong Winds,” “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” “I Can’t Help But Wonder (Where I’m Bound),” “The Last Thing on My Mind,” “Ramblin’ Boy,” “Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream,” “Eve of Destruction,” “How Can I Keep From Singing?” “Let There Be Peace on Earth.” I can’t ever list them all.

Big Mike helped create and then raised my social consciousness, informing without indoctrination so that we became subliminally aware of social/political music and key movements: 1963 was the height of the Civil Rights Movement in the USA, and the middle- to late 1960s were the Vietnam War’s protests’ heydays.

I hadn’t yet heard of the Freedom Riders (which was going on every summer I was first at camp!), I was too young to march in anti-war protests (14 in 1968) even if I had known about them. I was old enough to understand “Jim Crow” segregation and discrimination laws in St. Louis, Missouri, and HATED them. Big Mike and other camp songleaders chose songs whose lyrics’ sentiments felt right to me. I needed to sing, to protest, to be wishing and working for everyone’s equality and freedom. I was excited that more people felt that way I did than I had ever known existed.

At the above-mentioned camps, joining and adding to Big Mike‘s contributions, were several talented musical counselors and staff: special shout-outs to the Kean brothers, Ron and the late Mike (“Nix”); the cook, Maxine; “Fitz“; “Howdy” (Howard Schwartz) and “Twinkle” (Laura Resnick), for international and Israeli folk dancing fun; and, so many more, for adding to the songs and artistic experiences.

Big Mike‘s stories and songs my nascent ideas about social justice, fairness, anti-racism, anti-war, collaborating for peace and practicing nonviolence were developed and nurtured first. Blessings on Big Mike and his inspirations as well as his heirs and successors, forever.

Some places and people are pivotal in our lives, right? These people formed the foundations for mine, preparinhg me for the ones who came later.


Further creating a foundation and launching me into adulthood was a group of people I met in several places in the late 1970s in New England. Many of these key people lived at/founded or attended events at Boston’s mid-1970s spin off of Project Place, the Another Place Conference Center in Greenville, New Hampshire, and its spin-off, Spring Hill, Massachusetts, were then and later became great leaders of artistic social and political movements, personal growth and community-building for me and many others. Here are the “stars,” below.

Robert Gass

—It was through Another Place that I got to go to Spring Hill and meet Robert Gass and The Wings of Song band. Briefly, I performed with and sang in the band’s chorus (I am listed as “Sallie Fleishmann [neither name spelled correctly] on their first album, Many Blessings, pressed in 1980). Singing with this chorus was my first experience of spiritual uplifting through song. It had happened without my understanding it through some camp songs; Robbie‘s songs were intentionally written and selected to raise up the singers and the listeners, the audience and the dancers. We were inspired, connecting, infused with desires to serve and to love.

Robbie and his wife, Judith Ansara (Epstein) and a few others, created the formats for the popular personal growth Opening the Heart workshops (which I attended with my then-partner in 1979) which morphed into their current work, Sacred Union. Robert (as he became known, later) still sings, makes albums and leads people to inner and outer growth (now living in Colorado). Judith is also a dancer and a poet.


Robert Gass, circa 1989

I still hum and sing some of Wings of Song‘s tunes/songs to myself, but I can’t find my favorite anywhere online or for sale. Sad.

“Not My Will, but Thine” is the first line of the chorus, but I don’t know what title the song actually has. Perhaps “Teach Me to Love,” or “Kindle my Heart’s Flame” (all in the lyrics)?

If you know where to find a recording of this song, please email me at sallyember AT yahoo DOT com

Medicine Story

—I also met Medicine Story (Manitonquat, Francis Story Talbot) at Another Place in 1978. He is an author and storyteller as well as Native American activist who also lived at Another Place. Story, with his then-wife, Emmy (Emilia) “Rainwalker” Ianniello and their first son, formed the nucleus of the second of my many communal households in New England. Story and Emmy introduced me and dozens of others to Native American sweat lodges (building, experiencing ceremonies in, learning about) and to living in wiki-ups (outdoor structures more sturdy than tents), as well as to praying and connecting with the earth and animals and many other sacred rituals, origin songs and songs/chants.

Add these sweat lodge experiences to my Finnish saunas in Rhode Island (1977-78) and the Dutch-esque saunas at Stepping Stone Farm in the 1980s. When I went camping with some friends in the 1980s and 1990s (before hypertension took me out of the game) who were offering sweat lodges, they wondered how a Jewish girl from St. Louis knew so much about how to build them, use them, be in them? Why was I so comfortable with nudity in high heat and various ceremonial rituals that involved sweating and chanting? I mentally thanked Emmy and Medicine Story.

We would go into the sweat lodge to settle conflicts, build teams, get inspiration, celebrate a birth or birthday, prepare for a marriage, strengthen commitments, purify, cleanse, dream, remember, honor, be grateful, grieve, pray, sing and chant. Some participants used mind-altering substances in small amounts before or during; I did not. Many would fast beforehand; it’s recommended not to go into a sweat lodge on a full stomach.

This photo, below, is of a sweat lodge that looks a lot like the ones we built.


image from and FMI: https://adventure.howstuffworks.com/sweat-lodge.htm

If you’ve never built, prepared and then been in a sweat lodge, it’s probably impossible to imagine how close relative strangers can get and the kind of bonding that occurs during such experiences: unmatched.

Story and his second wife, Ellika Lindén, a playwright, actor, director, and collaborator, created Circle Way and currently travel around the globe to raise awareness of earth-related preservation and community-building.


Medicine Story and Ellika Linden

Bill Whyte and Katie Schwerin

—Several other songleaders, ritual organizers and community activists lived at and were my friends from that era, including those who shared our first New Hampshire collective household with Story, Emmy and their first son. Katie Schwerin and Bill Whyte and Katie’s daughter joined our group to live in Sharon, NH, in 1978-79.

In addition to learning many songs and chants from each of them, I also credit them with showing me how to live collectively, since we shared a household for two more years after that in several SW NH locations. We were pregnant at the same time and had our two home births (Katie‘s second; Bill‘s first and my only) in one of those homes in 1979-80 in Stoddard, NH. Katie and Emmy, with Cindy Dunleavy, all lay midwives, then (Cindy still delivers babies), attended the homebirth of our son.

Katie, along with director an co-creator, Pamela Faith Lerman (also someone I met in 1978 at Another Place), with about eight other women and I were in a show in Peterborough, NH, in 1980 that included poetry, songs and dramatic scenes from many feminist artists and sources, a fundraiser for a women’s health center we were trying to start for the Monadnock region.

Katie and Bill also founded and, with two of their adult daughters, operate the family-friendly Badger Balm, a “B” (Benefit” Corporation, that “makes certified organic and all-natural body & skin care products including healing balms, natural sunscreens, skin moisturizers, muscle rubs, aromatherapy and other personal care products,” Bill Whyte and Katie Schwerin, who run the business with their award-winning two daughters, Emily Schwerin-Whyte and Rebecca Hamilton.


Badger Balm‘s 2016 founders, family and staff

Katie and Bill taught me a lot about organic food (gardening and cooking), herbal and natural healing, nutrition, raising children respectfully and living collectively, starting me on a life-long path in those areas, beginning in 1978. Bill also introduced me to creative visualization and “green” building via his company, Whyte Light Builders.

Additionally, Katie brought Waldorf education (Rudolf Steiner’s schools) and the Unitarian Universalist (UU) community into our family’s life. Because of her influence and connections, I was hired to accompany the Eurythmy movement program classes for one year, in 1987, at the newly created Monadnock Waldorf School in Keene, NH, where we then lived. The following year, our son attended the Monadnock Waldorf School from 3rd – 8th grades (1988-1994). I took over the Director of Religious Education (DRE) position at the Keene UU Church in 1988 from her when Katie left on maternity leave and then to go back to school for her master’s in Waldorf education, where I stayed until 1990, when I decided to return school to get my master’s and doctorate in education myself.

FUN FACTS:
1) The Monadnock Waldorf School‘s Eurythmy teacher then is the mother of ER and The Good Wife star, actor, Julianna Margulies;
2) Before he became my Buddhist teacher, Wyn Fischel (Lama Drimed)’s first wife, Susan, was a Eurythmy teacher;
3) Before I met him, Wyn taught woodworking at the other nearest Waldorf school, Pine Hill, in Wilton, NH.
4) For several dramatic productions, both I and my then-partner, Christopher Briggs Ember, helped with music, blocking, directing, make-up and other aspects of the plays for Monadnock Waldorf School.

It is not an exaggeration to say that my entire adult life would have been different (and much smaller and less satisfying) had I not had the great good fortune to become involved with the Schwerin-Whyte family. I am so grateful to know them. We all had so much hope, optimism, energy, faith…

Mario Cossa

Katie is also a performer whose interest in drama brought me to my long-time collaboration with Mario Cossa, playwright, actor, performer, dancer, singer, lyricist, songwriter, director, choreographer, and nonprofit manager who became a counselor and then psychodramatist.

Mario Cossa is yet another person I met at Another Place in 1978 whose contact with me altered my life’s trajectory profoundly and for the better.

Because of and often with Mario, I was able to earn money through part-time and full-time work in areas I loved and have many amazing experiences, including:

  • working in several youth-serving nonprofits;
  • co-writing and -directing, performing in, narrating/facilitating audience-interactive performances for and touring with several plays and dozens of improvisational scenes (the play I wrote, Crystal Dreams, won a prize that featured a performance of it at a professional public theatre, the Portsmouth Theatre-By-The-Sea, in 1984);


    Cast of Crystal Dreams, 1984

  • learning to tap dance;
  • learning some A.S.L. (American Sign Language) and using it in a few plays;
  • learning to and performing as a clown;
  • becoming involved in Co-Counseling International (CCI);
  • meeting Caroline Myss, who became a close friend of mine for many years;
  • practicing and learning more about conflict resolution and mediation;
  • improving my storytelling and writing;
  • expanding my repertoire for improvisational acting;
  • learning about and leading prevention/mitigation and education groups on topics ranging from substance/alcohol abuse/use, pregnancy postponement, HIV/AIDs, suicide, teen homelessness/running away, Tourette’s Syndrome, learning and behavioral disorders to family systems conflicts;
  • co-leading groups for kids, youth & adults/families that utilized expressive arts;
  • participating in collaborations with other organizations and individuals;
  • becoming more familiar with and meeting/working with interns and faculty at Antioch/New England Graduate School who were part of the Dance Movement Therapy profession (which my daughter-in-law graduated from in 2016, over twenty-five years after my first exposure to it);
  • taking groups of students to see live musical theatre productions in Boston and New York City for several years (we saw Rent, Big, Miss Saigon, and a murder mystery audience-interactive play whose name I can’t remember);
  • conducting ethnographic research on gender and sexual orientation social identities that became the basis of my dissertation for my doctorate degree;
  • co-writing, editing and figuring out how to get our nonfiction book about improvisational scenework for educational groups published, in 1996 (my first traditional publishing credit): Acting Out: The Workbook–A Guide To The Development and Presentation of Issue-Oriented, Audience-Interactive, Improvisational Theatre
  • editing and assisting with other pieces and books Mario wrote which also were published in the 1990s and 2000s;


    Acting Out book cover

  • learning to write grants (to solicit funding from individual donations and family foundations for as low as $50 to multi-million/multi-agency federal proposals);
  • developing/designing and implementing program evaluations;
  • preparing and managing budgets; and,
  • working in outreach/marketing for nonprofits (something I did for many years for several other nonprofits).

Mario founded and runs Motivational Arts Unlimited, based in Bali, Indonesia, and travels around the globe doing psychodrama and sociodrama trainings, educational programs and certifications.


Mario Cossa, circa 2008

More in each about the impact, feelings, uses, singing spiritually

Holly Near

Ellen Fleischmann, my singer/songwriter, conductor/pianist middle sister, introduced me to Holly Near in 1978. THANK YOU, again!

I had told my sister that I was bored and needed music because I worked as a packer for a wholesaler/warehouse that packaged and shipped herbs, spices and essential oils to specialty and health food shops all around the USA, Attar, in New Ipswich, New Hampshire. I spent 30 hours each week NOT using my college degree in elementary education, having been burned by several jobs and needing a break. All day, I hefted huge barrels, bags and bottles and wrestled their contents into smaller containers/bags, boxed, labeled and prepared the boxes for shipping. I was usually there alone since it was a “mom-and-pop” shop and they had a young child. So, very under-stimulated, I craved music. Ellen sent me tapes from her dorm room at Brown University to play on my boom box.

—Oh, Holly! What a revelation it was to hear Holly Near‘s amazing voice, lyrics and energy pouring into my otherwise silent space. She also sent me tapes of James Taylor, Carole King and a few others, but it was Holly I kept coming back to and memorizing. “It Could Have Been Me,” from A Live Album, 1974, inspired by the government-sanctioned murders of college students at Kent State University in Ohio during an anti-Vietnam War demonstration in 1970, made me cry, rage and want to continue to/return to ACT UP.

Her songs included sentiments about being bisexual and discovering her love for women for the first time in “Imagine my Surprise,” moved me because it spoke directly of my experiences. After my male partner and I had a child, her song “Started Out Fine,” made me laugh and cry. So many songs, so many inspirations, such great lyrics.

Holly‘s songs have supported and propelled movements, such as the “zipper” song (we can insert other lyrics in key places and keep singing): “We are a gentle, angry people, and we are singing, singing for our lives,” which became the AIDS’ activists’ anthem and the LGBT-rights’ marching song. I also memorized and sang, often:

We will have peace;
we will because we must;
we must because we cherish life, and believe or not, as daring as it may seem, it is not an empty dream, to walk in a powerful path;
either the first nor the last, on the Great Peace March:
Life is a great and mighty march.
Forever, for love and tor life, on the Great Peace March.

from “The Great Peace March,” by Holly Near

I listened to Holly for several more albums/years, but never got to see her live. UNTIL I found out that my good friend, the dearly missed Jaye Alper (her death anniversary/Yahrzeit was this past Tuesday, 5/8/18; gone 6 years; I miss her all the time), had a connection. Her mother, Jackie Alper, had been an original member of the singing group, The Weavers, which had included Ronnie Gilbert, Lee Hays, Fred Hellerman , and Pete Seeger (Jackie had left the group to stop touring when she became pregnant with Jaye and to help fight the HUAC (McCarthy-era “witch hunts”).


Jackie Alper, Ronnie Gilbert, Pete Seeger,
the remaining Weavers, reunited, circa 1998.

Jackie had stayed active in the social justice/women’s music scene, having her own radio show (“Mostly Folk” on WRPI) for decades, helping start and run the Old Songs Festival (see below) in the Albany area, and staying friends with “Aunt” Ronnie, as Jaye knew her.

In the 1990s, Jaye contacted Ronnie, since Ronnie was performing, making albums and touring with Holly, and they were coming to the Boston area (where Jaye then lived). Jaye brought me backstage to meet them. I stood, starstruck, as Jaye and Ronnie hugged and talked. Holly was standing in the doorway, smiling at me and eating spaghetti, which she offered (I declined).

Holly Near, 1970


Holly Near, 2017

Holly started Redwood Records in 1972, “to produce and promote music by ‘politically conscious artists from around the world.'” She has included so many political activists/musicians on her albums, tours, and concert stages over the decades, many of which I was lucky enough to attend.

I learned a lot more about or heard for the first time the musicians affiliated with dozens of worthy causes around the world, their songs and political/social movements in the USA and elsewhere, that I never would have, otherwise, through Holly and her musical colleagues, including:
—the late Pete Seeger,
Arlo Guthrie,
—the late Mercedes Sosa,
Bernice Johnson Reagon (of Sweet Honey in the Rock),
Bonnie Raitt,
Jackson Browne
Holly Near, Arlo Guthrie, Ronnie Gilbert and Pete Seeger performed as HARP to raise money for various causes,
Meg (Shambhavi) Christian,
Cris Williamson,
Linda Tillery,
Joan Baez,
—the late Phil Ochs,
Harry Belafonte,
Emma’s Revolution (which includes Pat Humphries), and
Inti-Illimani.

Beyond being a renowned and beloved singer songwriter, Holly is a former TV/film/Broadway star and ongoing political activist, still going strong at age 68. Holly Near has mentored dozens of others (see below) and continues to fill my life with inspiration and songs. THANK YOU!

In addition to introducing me directly to Holly Near, Jaye and Jackie Alper had invited me and my family to the Albany-area’s annual Old Songs Festival (officially, the Old Songs Festival of Traditional Music and Dance in Altamont, NY) where we got in free to help Jaye (as “Crystal,” the name she had gone by in the 1970s) sell iced tea and her famous baklava, chocolava and maplelava each June. The musicians there played music which has often been featured or discussed in Sing Out! magazine walked amongst and camped with us. We encountered, met, had lunches with and heard the late Utah Phillips, Sally Rogers, The Amidon Family, Arlo Guthrie, Pat Humphries, Cheryl Wheeler, John McCutcheon, Tom Chapin, and many more. Quite a scene, for a folk music lover like me!

Olivia Records

Beyond and including Holly Near, I met fans of “women’s music” through friends, lovers, colleagues and family members throughout the 1980s and 1990s, attending many concerts/performances and enjoying festivals outdoors when possible, which expanded my repertoire to include Margie Adam. “The Unicorn Song,” “We Shall Go Forth,” “We Are The Women We’ve Been Waiting For,” “Sweet Friend of Mine,’ and many excellent piano-accompanied songs became favorites I learned to sing and play on the piano (and lead in sing-alongs, sometimes).

After I moved to California in 2002, I went to many concerts and performances that featured Holly 9she lived about an hour from where I lived) and felt lucky to be able to see her perform and hear her speak so often. She was always on top of knowing what cause needed championing, available for fundraisers, awareness-raising shows and gatherings of all kinds. Holly always remembered me; in the smaller venues, she would smile and come over to say “hello” after her last encore. Before the spring of 2012 (when Jaye passed away), she had always asked about Jaye.

Both Jaye and Jackie had passed on before Pete Seeger (who left us in the winter of 2014), so I went to the Freight & Salvage in Berkeley to attend the tribute concert for Pete, which Ronnie, ill and using a cane, also performed in and which Holly was the emcee and main performer for; Holly and Ronnie had organized most of it. During intermission, Holly came over to me and we shared a few tears and a hug. What treasures these people are/were!

Cris Williamson, solo and with Meg Christian, Teresa Trull, Tret Fure, Barbara Higbie, Linda Tillery, Lucie Blue Tremblay, and many more great women musicians, brought me and my family the inspiring and beautiful, fun-to-sing songs from Cris‘ albums, The Changer and the Changed and the musical play, Lumiere, and other amazing songs, like “Waterfall,” “The Changer and The Changed,’ “The Rock Will Wear Away,” “Lullaby” (“Like a Ship in the Harbor”), and “Lean On Me (I Am Your Sister).”


Meg & Cris at Carnegie Hall, 1982, album cover

I learned so much about feminism, bisexuality, intersectionality, positive parenting, social activism, many types of love, community and collective efforts from these wonderful musicians.

—The talented brothers, the late Happy Traum and the late Artie Traum were some of the musicians I met when I worked at Camp Med-O-Lark in Washington, Maine, in the early 1980s, because of my enduring friendship with yet again a contact from Another Place from 1978, Zea Moore. In addition to getting me and my then-partner two wonderful summers with jobs at this camp (because her then-partner, Neal Goldberg, owned and directed it), Zea introduced me to Wiccan & Goddess Chants, Libana, and so much more of the newly emerging women’s spirituality music and rituals.

Civil Rights, Environmental/Social Activist Musicians & Storytellers

Thanks to these live music venues, without whom I would not have heard most of these singers live: The Folkway (Peterborough, NH), The Iron Horse (Northampton, MA), The Colonial Theatre and the Keene State College’s 1990s Coffeehouse (Keene, NH), The Common Ground (Brattleboro, VT), Temple Mountain Ski Area (Temple, NH, outdoor concerts in the not-snowy weather), Passim Coffeehouse (Cambridge, MA), Brighton Music Hall (Brighton, MA), The Freight & Salvage (Berkeley, CA), ACTING OUT’s 1990s coffeehouse series (Keene, NH), and many more.

PLUS, radio stations that play and support “Americana,” “Women’s Music,” “Folk Music,” and many other overlapping genres that play music to inspire and activate us all. Here are some: KPFA (“Across the Great Divide” and “American’s Back 40” are my favorites, there); KRCB (used to have many shows; now, not so many); other NPR affiliates, everywhere; KDHX; WRSI; college/university radio stations also often have shows/D.J.s that feature great music like this. Check our your local or online options.

SUPPORT LIVE MUSIC!
—If you haven’t heard Christine Lavin‘s story songs, parodies and other political music, please give her a listen!
Please also go find and listen to the songs of any of the amazing individual singer/songwriters/activitists who also sometimes play as the group that includes Lavin, 4 Bitchin’ Babes:


4 Bitchin’ Babes (Christine Lavin, Sally Fingerett, Megon McDonough, Julie Gold), 1993

Patty Larkin (“Not Bad for a Broad,” “Metal Drums”)
Megon McDonough (“Amazing Things,” “Wake Up And Dream”)
Sally Fingerett (“Home is Where the Heart Is,” “Here’s to the Women”)
Julie Gold (“From a Distance,” “America,” “The New World,” “Love is Love is Love,” “Goodnight, New York/Ellis Island”)
and others have comprised this fun, talented quartet.

Also, these musicians/singers/songwriters are great to find/remember:
Nanci Griffith (“Cold Hearts/Closed Minds,” “If These Old Walls Could Speak”),
Fred Small (who began his career as a lawyer and later became a Unitarian Universalist minister and climate change activist/leader; “Peace Is,” “Only Love,” “No More Vietnams,” “The Peace Dragon”),
Judy Small (unrelated to Fred, and a judge of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia who was previously an Australian entertainer, folk singer, songwriter, and guitarist. Known for her feminist, often patriotic, and political songs, usually following a traditional theme, she produced twelve albums) (“You Don’t Speak for Me,” “How Many Times?” “Montreal, December ’89 (What is it about men?”),
—the late Rosalie Sorrels (“I am a Union Woman,” “Always a Lady,” “The Baby Rocking Medley”),
—the late Stan Rogers (“The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” “The Mary Ellen Carter”),
RosenShontz, Bill Shontz and the late Gary Rosen (“Hugga Hugga,” “Share It!”)
Betsy Rose (“I Can’t Imagine Life Without … (Popcorn),” “For the Mothers,” “Welcome to the Circle,” and who shares others’ songs, such as, “Return Again,” “Sending You the Light”),
—the late Malvina Reynolds (“Little Boxes,” “It Isn’t Nice,” “Turn Around,” “What Have They Done to the Rain?” “Magic Penny”),
—the late Peggy Seeger (half-sister to Pete, full sister to Mike) (“I Want to be an Engineer”),
—the late Dave van Ronk,”The Mayor of MacDougal Street,” who re-arranged and covered many “traditional” and others’ songs so well,
Gould and Stearns (Stephen Stearns and Peter Gould),
Ani DiFranco, founder/owner of Righteous Babe record label, a la Redwood Records and Oliva Records,
Ruth Pelham, founder of “The Music Mobile,” which “brought singalongs, simple musical instrument construction, merriment and a message of hope to generations of youths at inner-city parks” in the Albany area for 39 years (“Look to the People,” “The Turning of the World,” “Under One Sky”),
Bill Staines (“The Roseville Fair,” “A Place in the Choir,” “Child of Mine,” “River”),
David Mallett (“The Garden Song,” “Open Doors and Windows,” Parallel Lives”),
The Roches–Maggie, Terre, and Suzzy Roche (“Dear Mr. Sellack,” “Another World”),
Eric Bogle (“The Band Played ‘Waltzing Matilda,'” “No Man’s Land/The Green Fields of France”),
Cosy Sheridan (“Quietly Led,” “The Losing Game,” “Sharp Objects”)
Catie Curtis (“People Look Around,” “Truth from Lies”),
Dar Williams (“When I Was A Boy,” “The Christians and the Pagans”),
Lucy Kaplansky (“This Morning I am Born Again,” “Reunion”),
Susan Werner (“Sunday Morning,” “Help Somebody,” “Heaven So Small,” “Did Trouble Me”),
Cry Cry Cry, = Dar Williams, Lucy Kaplansky and Richard Shindell, with many others accompanying/doing back-up vocals (“Arrowhead,” “Ascent” — Shindell; “I Know What Kind of Love This Is,” “Fall on Me”—Cry Cry Cry),
Molly Scott—not the politician! (“Centering Home,” “We Are All One Planet”),
Si Kahn (“Gone, Gonna Rise Again,” “Aragon Mill”),
Sarah Pirtle (“Earth, My Body” and more, here: http://sarahpirtle.com/hope-sings/index.htm)
Susan Osborne, Paul Winter, David Darling and the rest of the Paul Winter Consort,


image of Paul Winter Consort band, circa 1978, from http://www.paulwinter.com/the-consort/

and many others previously mentioned in this post or which you find while wandering around YouTube and the internet listening to these. These singers/musicians share songs that are inspiring, moving, intelligent, funny, thought-provoking and insightful as well as musically very fine.

—There are many ministers, singers and song leaders I met through the Unitarian Universalist (UU/UUA) Association’s events and fellowships/churches, starting with Rev. Rick Paine (co-founder of Spring Hill and co-creator of the Opening the Heart workshops, with Robert Gass, Judith Epstein and others) and Rev. Sydney Amara Morris (co-founder of Another Place, with Bill Whyte and Mark Sarkady). Later, I met and sang with Nick Page (who doesn’t love to sing “More Love”?), and so many others. In 2011, the UUA published a great compilation of their music, 50 YEARS OF UU MUSIC, available here: https://www.uua.org/ga/past/2011/worship/185029.shtml , which features “Let It Be a Dance”). Also, check here: https://www.uua.org/worship/music and here: http://www.recessionals.org/ and here: https://www.uua.org/worship/music/hymnals

—Have to mention the great storyteller, singer, performer, Jay O’Callahan, since his stories and songs kept us happy on long car trips across the country in the 1980s, and we got to see him perform live in Boston during that time.

A Cappella Women’s and Other Choruses Respecting Socially Conscious Diversity

—I sang with and joined several choirs that are part of the Threshold Choirs as founded and formatted by Kate Munger,who led two groups I was part of in California in the mid 2000s. If you know someone ill, dying, or giving birth, that is the time these singers will come when asked (if there is a choir near you): A Capella singing at its best.

—The A Cappella singing of the singers of Sweet Honey in the Rock inspired many women to start community women’s choruses, and I was lucky enough to belong to two: the /Brattleboro Women’s Chorus, founded and conducted by Becky Graber, and Keene, NH’s Animaterra Women’s Chorus, founded and conducted by Allison Aldrich Smith (but now also conducted by Becky since 2016, after Allison moved to Maine), in the 1990s.

I miss those groups a lot and have never found any like them since then that met close enough to other places I have lived. If you are looking for a women’s chorus like these, check out this site and see if you get fortunate enough to live near one!

The Sister Singers Network is an international, “cooperative web of feminist choruses and ensembles, composers, arrangers, and individual singers working together to support and enrich the women’s choral movement.”
http://www.sistersingers.net/index.shtml#.WvNEeKQvypo

The Threshold Choirs (see above) are a part of this network, but have a specific mission.

[NOTE: I found and temporarily joined Charis: The St. Louis Women’s Chorus here in St. Louis, MO, and it is all females (except for the conductor, which I found odd), but the style, the music, the format, the ambiance weren’t at all like the A Cappella choirs in New England that I’d loved, so I dropped out after a few months. Not for me. Many love it, though, so if you’re local, you should try it out!]


As I said at the beginning of this post, this is what I meant when I said that attending and listening to Roy Zimmerman‘s lyrics and being at that performance was somewhat sad, bittersweet, in this horribly disappointing, discouraging, horrifying period in our lives.

Our generation, and specifically, some of the people I knew and admired enough to mention in this and other posts, HAVE accomplished a lot. However, so much of what we fought for and won is threatened, unraveling, already destroyed beyond repair: it’s happening RIGHT NOW.

What else can do besides sing, listen to and make music? VOTE! ORGANIZE! MARCH! OBJECT! RESIST! Please?

I end with this, one of my favorites, written by Sally Rogers, who also gives us “What Can One Little Person Do?” “In the Name of All of Our Children,” and so many more great songs,

“Love Will Guide Us”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8xWMnf9SYjo or

My Notes, Thoughts, Resources and Recommendations for “Trauma-Informed” Education/Care and ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences)

My Notes, Thoughts, Resources and Recommendations
for “Trauma-Informed” Education/Care
and ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences)

For those of us old enough to remember or who have studied sociology, psychology and/or education prior to 2000, there were precursors to this research: Risk Factors, which ACEs are a subset of, as well as Protective Factors and Resilience. For more about this important research, go here or https://youth.gov/youth-topics/youth-mental-health/risk-and-protective-factors-youth:

Relevant to ACEs are the Common Risk Factors for Childhood and Adolescent Problems, by Level of Influence


image from Devereux Center for Resilient Children

  • Environmental Risk Factors Factors
    —Laws and norms favorable to antisocial behavior
    —Poverty and economic deprivation
    —Low economic opportunity
    —Neighborhood disorganization
    —Low neighborhood attachment
  • Interpersonal and Social Risk Factors Factors
    —Family communication and conflict
    —Poor parent–child bonding
    —Poor family management practices
    —Family alcohol and drug use
    —School failure
    —Low commitment to school
    —Rejection by conforming peer groups
    —Association with antisocial peers
  • Individual Risk Factors Factors
    —Family history of alcoholism
    —Sensation-seeking orientation
    —Poor impulse control
    —Attention deficits
    —Hyperactivity
  • Adapted from Fraser et al., 2004; Jenson & Howard, 1999; and Hawkins et al., 1998
    from https://us.corwin.com/sites/default/files/upm-binaries/5975_Chapter_1_Jenson_Fraser__I_Proof.pdf

    Some heart-wrenching causation connections between childhood stress and adult medical problems have already been made:
    —“…[M]ost adult women with fibromyalgia [emphasis mine]… have had stressful childhoods as reported by the journal, Stress and Health in 2009….The early chronic experience of stress appears to exert a much larger influence in contributing to the pain of fibromyalgia than any current stressful life event, as a 2006 study reported in the journal, Psychoneuroendocrinolgy. from http://medicalhealthnews.info/fibromyalgia-linked-childhood-stress-unprocessed-negative-emotions-2/

    The relationships between childhood experiences (“nurture”) and adult health have long been the subject of research. One precursor to ACEs research, for almost thirty years, the information derived from the biannual Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBSS) has been instrumental in determining what communities’ needs were, what prevention areas to focus upon, and how prevalent certain risky behaviors were over time because the USA government, in conjunction with state and municipal authories and school systems, began administering the YRBSS in 1990 and continues to this day, in odd years. Much of the data from the YRBSS overlaps with data needed and gathered about ACEs. See below.

    The YRBSS (https://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/data/yrbs/overview.htm) was developed in 1990 to monitor priority health risk behaviors that contribute markedly to the leading causes of death, disability, and social problems among youth and adults in the United States. These behaviors, often established during childhood and early adolescence, include

    • Behaviors that contribute to unintentional injuries and violence.
    • Sexual behaviors related to unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV infection.
    • Alcohol and other drug use.
    • Tobacco use.
    • Unhealthy dietary behaviors.
    • Inadequate physical activity.

    In addition, the YRBSS monitors the prevalence of obesity and asthma and other priority health-related behaviors plus sexual identity and sex of sexual contacts.

    From 1991 through 2015, the YRBSS has collected data from more than 3.8 million high school students in more than 1,700 separate surveys.

    ACEs research and subsequent work are building on all of these studies their data to help us advance in our understands, prevention, intervention and mitigation of trauma. The ACEs researchers began with this survey and its 10 categories (see below).

    The 10 ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) are, in summary form:


    image from https://cdv.org/what-is-cdv/adverse-childhood-experiences/

    If you want to have each category be more fully defined (and some of them do include aspects you might not usually consider, so I recommend reviewing these if you haven’t, yet), go here, where you can actually “fill out” the survey at the same time:
    https://www.ncjfcj.org/sites/default/files/Finding%20Your%20ACE%20Score.pdf

    However, if you find all this obvious, so is your score: you get one point for each of the ACEs that occurred in your childhood (before age 18 years old). The total of these = your ACEs score.

    This ACEs number is important for examining the likelihood (statiscally speaking) of your having adverse consequences later in life (see below). The stats have three sections:
    —> 0, 1 or 2 ACEs
    —> 3 – 7 ACEs
    —> more than 7 ACEs

    The statistics tended to group in these ways in recognition of what types and how many negative consequences were most likely to occur for those with those ACEs numbers. Below is a description of the original study.

    The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Original Research:

    “From 1995 to 1997, Kaiser Permanente’s Health Appraisal Clinic, in collaboration with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, implemented one of the largest studies ever conducted on the origins of risk factors that have negative health and social consequences and the cumulative incidence and influence of psychological and physical abuse including: neglect, sexual abuse, witnessing violence, exposure to substance abuse, mental illness, suicidal behavior, and imprisonment of a family member (independent variables) on dependent variables that were measures of both mental health (depression, suicidality) and physical health (heart disease, cancer, chronic lung disease, skeletal fractures, liver disease, obesity) and health-related behaviors (alcoholism, drug abuse, smoking, high numbers of sexual partners) and poor self-rated health (Felitti et al. 1998).

    “The ACE questionnaire was constructed using selected questions from published surveys (American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2017). Prior to the survey there had been little study of the relationship between early childhood adverse experiences and adult medical problems and behaviors (Felitti et al. 1998).

    “The ACE survey data was collected by mail from two waves of a sample of 17,000 adult members of Kaiser’s Health Maintenance Organization in San Diego, California between 1995 and 1997. The sample size itself was impressive. The release of the study findings was shocking to many when they showed the extent to which adverse childhood events negatively shaped future social and physical health outcomes, including life expectancy.

    “Perhaps less surprising, the findings showed that the more negative events a child experienced the higher the likelihood s/he had as an adult of suffering an array of health and behavior problems including alcoholism, chronic pulmonary disease, depression, illicit drug use, liver disease, adolescent pregnancy and many more (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2014a, b). Further, adults with the highest level of ACEs had a life expectancy 20 years less than those without high levels of ACEs. The study sample did not consist primarily of low-income minority adults, a demographic often found to be “at risk.” It was mainly comprised of white, middle and upper income employed people; people who might be expected to have had more stable childhood environments because of parents’ employment and income.

    “The original ACE study has generated more than 70 scientific articles, scores of conference presentations, and has shaped the design of research and as well as social programs. It is beyond the scope of this article to present a comprehensive review of the studies of the ACE survey, but ACEs Too High (2017) provides a list of ACE studies by year.

    “Studies using the ACE questionnaire have expanded beyond Kaiser’s sample of white, HMO patients to include, for example, special populations such as children of alcoholics (Dube et al. 2001), and children with an incarcerated parent (Geller et al. 2009) and have found higher prevalences of ACEs than in the original Kaiser sample.

    “ACE Studies of justice-involved populations (Baglivio et al. 2014; Messina and Grella 2006; Miller and Najavits 2012; Reavis et al. 2013) including juvenile justice-involved youth (Dierkhising et al. 2013) are raising awareness of the association of early childhood trauma and offender behaviors and needs, as are studies of justice-involved samples that include a focus on childhood trauma without using the ACE questionnaire (Wolff and Shi 2012). The studies consistently find elevated rates of childhood trauma in incarcerated populations and offender groups. For example, the Reavis et al. study (2013) of incarcerated males found ACE scores above 4 to be four times higher than in a normative male population.

    “By bringing attention to the powerful impact that negative childhood experiences have on future health and functioning, the ACE study demonstrates the importance of gathering information early in the lives of children and their families and designing early intervention programs that target violence and neglect. It also points to the importance of collecting trauma histories from clients and highlights the essential role of prevention in program design. A particularly important contribution the Ace survey has made to offender and incarcerated groups is to emphasize the importance of trauma-targeted interventions in jails and prisons as well as in diversion programs.”

    FMI: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5409906/

    More about How ACEs Operate in Our Lives

    This is a depiction of ACEs and their impacts in the form of a “pyramid of bad consequences”: if 3 or more ACEs form our lives’ “foundation,” we are much more likely to have a lot of other problems, including physical and mental health issues, suicidal ideation, criminal tendencies to the point of incarceration, and possible early death in our futures.

    Even having 1 or 2 ACEs can wreck a person’s life and/or health if enough mitigating factors aren’t present, especially when the adverse experience was
    —horrific,
    —happened at a formative time, and/or
    —was prolonged/repeated.


    image from https://www.communitycommons.org/2014/08/aces-adverse-childhood-experiences/

    This excellent 2014 TEDMED talk on ACEs from a health care perspective
    is on video, with presenter, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, MD

    Burke offers the best summary of the study, its origins and findings, and their immediate and long-term applications for health care and other professionals as well as anyone affected by multiple ACEs.

    “Childhood trauma isn’t something you just get over as you grow up. Pediatrician Nadine Burke Harris explains that the repeated stress of abuse, neglect and parents struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues has real, tangible effects on the development of the brain.

    “This unfolds across a lifetime, to the point where those who’ve experienced high levels of trauma are at triple the risk for heart disease and lung cancer. An impassioned plea for pediatric medicine to confront the prevention and treatment of trauma, head-on.”

    Worth your time to watch: https://www.ted.com/talks/nadine_burke_harris_how_childhood_trauma_affects_health_across_a_lifetime

    ACEs High Scores Linked
    to Adult Emotional and Physical Health Problems

    There is a cycle regarding ACEs that usually occurs. Learning about how this cycle works is first. Then, figuring out how to intervene, interrupt and contravene the impacts can occur next.


    image from https://dribbble.com/shots/2214296-Adverse-Childhood-Experiences-infographic

    Know that Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are common

    In case you were wondering about the prevalence of ACEs, here are some recent statistics from a small but supposedly representative sample and their source.

    Of the 17,337 individuals surveyed, here is the prevalence of each possible adverse experience, from most to least, represented as a percentage:

    —Physical abuse towards the child – 28.3%
    —Substance abuse in the household – 26.9%
    —Parental separation/divorce – 23.3%
    —Sexual abuse toward the child – 20.7%
    —Mental Illness in the household – 19.4%
    —Emotional neglect towards the child – 14.8%
    —Domestic violence in the household – 12.7%
    —Emotional abuse towards the child – 10.6%
    —Physical neglect towards the child – 9.9%
    —Imprisoned household member – 4.7%

    ACEs are linked with a greater risk
    of many problems in later life

    These include:

    • Alcohol abuse and dependence
    • Early smoking initiation and current smoking status
    • Illicit drug use
    • IV drug abuse
    • Obesity
    • Suicide attempts
    • Depression
    • Anxiety
    • Hyperactivity
    • Sleep Disturbances
    • Hallucinations
    • Eating disorders
    • Suicide attempts
    • Post-traumatic stress disorder
    • Conduct disorder
    • Teen or unintended pregnancies
    • Intimate partner violence
    • Improper brain development
    • Impaired learning ability and general cognitive difficulties
    • Attention and memory difficulties
    • Visual and/or motor impairment
    • Lower language development
    • Impaired social and emotional skills
    • Poorer quality of life

    Nikki Gratix offers more links and stats about ACEs and long-term effects, with our first glimmers of hope (link is below the text, here):
    “Another long-term study indicated that approximately 80% of young adults who had previously been abused qualified for at least one psychiatric diagnosis at the age of 21 (Silverman, Reinherz & Gianconia, 1996).

    “Neglected or abused children are also
    —59% more likely to be arrested during their childhood,
    —28% more likely to engage in criminal behaviour as adults, and
    —30% more likely to engage in violent crime as an adult (Widom & Maxfield, 2001).

    “Abuse and neglect during childhood can also negatively impact the ability of individuals to effectively establish and maintain healthy romantic adult relationships (Colman & Widom, 2004). As relationship warmth and social connection are key protective factors for long-term health and happiness, many of these greater risks could at least be partially explained by the greater risk of interpersonal conflict, disconnection and isolation.

    “Individuals who have had negative experiences during their childhood can still grow and flourish as adults, and can also be more resilient as a result of learning how to overcome significant challenges when they are younger.

    This diagram, below, depicts the Risk Factors, Protective Factors and Resilience interactive model clearly:


    image from https://www.slideshare.net/PreventionWorks/bc-pc-december-13-2012, The InterdisciplinaryScience of Prevention Bernalillo County DWI Program Planning Council Meeting December 13, 2012 Frank G. Magourilos, MPS, CPS, ICPS Prevention Works

    “A major longitudinal study even found that what goes right during childhood is often more important than what goes wrong [emphasis mine], and having even one safe, stable and nurturing figure in a child’s life can reduce the later risk of psychological and physical health problems [emphasis mine] (Vaillant, 2015).

    “Creating safe, stable and nurturing environments (SSNREs) is the key to having a positive impact on reducing ACEs going forward.”

    LINK to the above: https://www.nikigratrix.com/silent-aces-epidemic-attachment-developmental-trauma/

    FMI: “Steps to Create Safe, Stable, Nurturing Relationships and Environments,” 2014, https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/essentials_for_childhood_framework.pdf

    4 Quadrants/Types of Attachment:

    I found this set of connections (below) to be a very helpful rubric for understanding the ways trauma impacts our ability to choose appropriate partners/friends, even colleagues and form positive relationships when we suffer from many ACEs because it brings in the main principles of John Bowlby‘s attachment theory quite intelligently.

    • secure = consistent, responsive early care
      = low anxiety, low avoidance
      = positive views of self and others; comfortable relying on others, easily comforted
    • preoccupied = inconsistent early care
      = high anxiety, low avoidance
      negative view of selves but positive views of others; emotionally dependent, negative affects, hyper vigilance, low self-esteem
    • dismissive = early unresponsive care
      = low anxiety, high avoidance
      positive view of selves (see selves as resilient and not needing others), but negative views of others; uncomfortable with closeness, denial of attachment needs, avoidance of closeness, intimacy, dependency or close relationships; high self-reliance and independence
    • fearful = frequent rejection/abandonment by early caregivers
      = high anxiety, high avoidance
      seek social contact but inhibited by fear of rejection; approach/avoidance behavior in relationships; high negative affects and poor self-esteem

    INTERVENTIONS & SOLUTIONS:
    Trauma-Informed Care vs. Ordinary Care

    As mentioned previously in this post, Protective Factors contribute to Resilience, and both are great predictors of how well a child or adult will do when affected by ACEs (or any other Risk Factors). The basic formula is that when any of the Risk Factors is present (and the higher the number, the worse the situation is for that person), increasing the number and types of Protective Factors for that person is very likely to increase their Resilience, which, in turn, decreases the likelihood that the person will succumb to peer pressure or inner motivation to engage in risky behaviors or fall victim to other risks and those consequences.

    Similarly to Risk Factors (see above), researchers have divided Protective Factors into three categories: Individual, Family and Community

    Researchers are also discovering that these same Protective Factors, particularly those that arise from within the Community and Individual (since Family is presumed to be the source/cause of the ACEs) can increase that person’s tendency toward Resilience, which then can mitigate the effects of ACEs as well.

    Individual Protective Factors include:
    —Positive physical development
    —Academic achievement/intellectual development
    —High self-esteem
    —Emotional self-regulation
    —Good coping skills and problem-solving skills
    —Engagement and connections in two or more of the following contexts: school, with peers, in athletics, employment, religion, culture

    Family Protective Factors include:
    —Family provides structure, limits, rules, monitoring, and predictability
    —Supportive relationships with family members
    —Clear expectations for behavior and values

    Community (School, Neighborhood, and Community) Protective Factors include:
    —Presence of mentors and support for development of skills and interests
    —Opportunities for engagement within school and community
    —Positive norms
    —Clear expectations for behavior
    —Physical and psychological safety
    from: https://youth.gov/youth-topics/youth-mental-health/risk-and-protective-factors-youth

    Some researchers have further divided these Factors into three age groupings: Early Childhood (ages newborn – 5 or 6 [school-age]), Childhood (ages 5 or 6 – 11 or 12 [ending before middle school or junior high school age]), and Adolescence (middle/junior high school and high school ages, 11 or 12 – 18). This classification is used to study each sector and period of a youth’s life more closely.


    image from http://buncombeaces.org/

    “Once you know your ACEs score and its impact, there are personal strategies and community resources that exist to help you. Asking for help, developing trusting relationships, forming a positive attitude, and paying attention to your instincts and feelings are ways to improve your life. These can assist in breaking the cycle of ACEs in your family.

    Reaching out to a trusted member of your community such as a doctor, a counselor, a teacher, or a church or spiritual leader is another way to get help [emphsis mine]….Using these suggestions, both early in a child’s life and as an adult, can lessen the impact of ACEs on you and your family.”

    10 Key Components of Trauma-Informed Care:


    image from https://www.chcs.org/resource/10-key-ingredients-trauma-informed-care/

    “Trauma-Informed” (for educational settings, care, caregivers, institutions, youth programs, prisons, juvenile detention centers, court and police officers, etc.) is the newest way to describe what we MUST create and strengthen given our understanding of ACEs and the impacts of trauma throughout one’s lifetime. When society has better methods for prevention, we hope this won’t be as necessary. Until then, we are in dire need of more training, better programs, and more awareness.
    https://www.rchc.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Trauma-Informed-Care-slides.pdf

    Research confirms that a person’s ability to Cope with trauma (and the neurodevelopmental effects) is rooted in the presence or absence of these circumstances and factors:

    Frequency – Single vs. repeated trauma (obviously, even one trauma is terrible, but more often is worse)
    Age when trauma occurred or began (the younger a person is, the worse off the person is likely to be)
    Agent – natural vs. human (weather disasters, earthquakes and fires are horribly traumatic, but war, interpersonal and domestic violence (being the victim OR the witness), and other human-inflicted harm are WORSE than “natural” causes of trauma when it comes to effects on the victims)
    Nature of the trauma – accidental vs. purposeful (particularly when the perpetrator was supposed to have been trustworthy and purported to “love” the victim, intentional harm is the worst type of trauma for a child)
    Environmental supports – Innate Resilience (there is some evidence in the fairly new field of epigenetics that some of us are “naturally” more resilient, particularly when it comes to resisting or lessening the effects of ACEs in the forms of bad health/diseases. Let’s find out WHY!)

    A lot of research on what contributes to resilience is happening NOW and recently.

    From 2017, we can read: “Epigenetic Embedding of Early Adversity and Developmental Risk,” from Marla B. Sokolowski, PhD, F.R.S.C., W. Thomas Boyce, MD, Co-Directors of the Child and Brain Development Program, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR), Canada, who discovered: “[T]he embedding of adversity-related epigenetic marks is associated with increased susceptibility to compromised development and mental health….

    “[A]dverse conditions in early childhood affect the number and placement of epigenetic marks on the DNA sequence. The developmental and health effects of early exposures to adversity and stress are socioeconomically partitioned, with children from the lower ranks of social class sustaining greater and more severe threats to normative development. Epigenetic processes that affect gene expression almost certainly have an impact on adversity-related, maladaptive outcomes….

    “Adverse early childhood experiences can leave lasting marks on genes that are involved with stress responses, immunity and mental health, underscoring the importance of creating an optimal early childhood environment for each and every child.”

    Other researchers created two categories of children to show the differences in fragility, “‘orchid children’…are more sensitive to both negative and positive environmental factors than their more resilient counterparts, called ‘dandelion children,'” which the above researchers utilized in their studies.
    http://www.child-encyclopedia.com/epigenetics/according-experts/epigenetic-embedding-early-adversity-and-developmental-risk

    A great podcast/radio show, On Being, with host, Krista Tippett, provides many informative, entertaining and important audio experiences. This one is very relevant, here: RACHEL YEHUDA talks about “How Trauma and Resilience Cross Generations.”

    “The new field of epigenetics sees that genes can be turned on and off and expressed differently through changes in environment and behavior. Rachel Yehuda is a pioneer in understanding how the effects of stress and trauma can transmit biologically, beyond cataclysmic events, to the next generation. She has studied the children of Holocaust survivors and of pregnant women who survived the 9/11 attacks.

    “But her science is a form of power for flourishing beyond the traumas large and small that mark each of our lives and those of our families and communities [emphasis mine].”

    Read the transcript and/or listen to podcast: https://onbeing.org/programs/rachel-yehuda-how-trauma-and-resilience-cross-generations-nov2017/

    If you have more time and prefer the video format, Bruce McEwen, Ph.D., talks about “The Resilient Brain: Epigenetics, Stress and the Lifecourse,” at Cornell University in 2017.

    For science geeks, this study is awesome! “Epigenetic modulation of inflammation and synaptic plasticity promotes resilience against stress in mice”: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-017-02794-5

    “Three key neuroscience concepts are recommended for inclusion in Trauma-Informed Care programs and practices in ways that can enrich program design and guide the development of practical, Resilience -oriented interventions that can be evaluated for outcomes.

    “A Resilience -oriented approach to TIC is recommended that moves from trauma information to neuroscience-based action with practical skills to build greater capacity for self-regulation and self-care in both service providers and clients.”

    Another source of info about ACEs comes from this report, below (audio-only, with some text), from my former home-town public radio station, KRCB, in the North Bay, San Francisco Bay Area, California:


    image from http://radio.krcb.org/post/educating-fellows-counter-adverse-childhood-experiences#stream/0

    Individual Protective Factors and Professional Training and Environmental Factors that Assist with Coping with ACEs are:
    —Social support
    —Supervision and consultation
    —Resolution of one’s personal issues
    —Strong ethical principles of practice
    —Knowledge of theory
    —On-going training
    —Emotional intelligence/regulation
    —Awareness of the potential and impact of Violent Trauma (VT).

    https://damonashworthpsychology.com/2017/09/14/the-10-things-you-need-to-know-about-the-adverse-childhood-experiences-study/

    Then, of course, we have Oprah weighing in (finally) a few weeks ago:

    Oprah’s 60 Minutes segment on ACES, 3/11/18

    image from https://www.chcs.org/project/advancing-trauma-informed-care/

    Oprah (and others) talk about how we need to shift our focus from “What is wrong with you?” to “What happened to you?” with all traumatized individuals.
    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/oprah-winfrey-treating-childhood-trauma/

    This video also mentions two important area of research about the brain and mental health related to ACEs or positive experiences. Good to know, but I’m still wanting more about what HELPS post-ACEs. Here we go!

    “Winfrey speaks to Dr. Bruce Perry, a psychiatristand neuroscientist who authorities have consulted on high-profile events, such as school shootings. She also visits two organizations that treat their clients with the so-called “trauma-informed care” approach shaped by Dr. Perry. Both the agencies, SaintA and the Nia Imani Family Center, are in Milwaukee, where Winfrey spent part of her youth and experienced her own instances of childhood trauma.”

    So, we know that chaos, threats, inconsistency, uncertainty, neglect, violence each constitutes a kind of traumas for children, and experiencing even one of these increases vulnerability in later life to many types of issues (academic, physical and mental health, interpersonal difficulties, employment problems).

    That is the reason we need to move from focusing on consequences to preventing/mitigating early traumas/wounds.

    One main “movement” is to bring in more institutions that provide “trauma-informed care.” Installing these changes is the best way to transform education, social and human services programming and treatment.

    ACEs and I

    I have written about ACEs before, disclosing that I have a very high ACEs score (9.5 out of 10). By the statistics reported since the early 1990s (see below), I should be in prison, institutionalized, or already dead. But, I’m not. Why is that?

    Again, we need to ask “what happened?” rather than “what’s wrong?” to/with a child. Then, we need to build on strengths rather than focus on deficiencies or problems.

    Why do some of us not have PTSD after many ACEs? Our reactions seem to be proportional to the numbers and frequency of whatever positive, protective, nurturing relationships we have had in early life. I am an example of an unusual case. See below.

    I decided to look more deeply into this topic: what fosters Resilience? How do children and youth with high trauma scores not be completely unhealthy or miserable as adults? My discoveries are in this post and will keep coming.

    Please comment on my site, on this post, regardless of where you’re reading this. The post is available starting 4/11/18: http://www.sallyember.com/blog or https://wp.me/p2bP0n-27w

    Other Resources

    Alice Miller‘s work = relevant because her main recommendation and research evidence are in alignment with ACEs’ researchers and therapists: it only takes ONE significant adult in a traumatized child’s life to greatly mitigate and even ameliorate the effects and later consequences of the trauma. I can attest to that truth.


    Drama of the Gifted Child by Alice Miller

    Here is a great post about this book and Miller‘s work: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/suffer-the-children/201206/the-drama-the-gifted-child

    Some local/regional resources (near both USA coasts), and more on their site, from CHCS (Center for Healthcare Strategies):

    Center for Youth Wellness, San Francisco, CA, will implement adverse childhood experiences (ACE) screening, care coordination, and data management strategies to further its integrated care approach for addressing the physical and behavioral health needs of families with ACE exposure.

    Greater Newark Healthcare Coalition, Newark, NJ, will establish care coordination, trauma screening and treatment, professional development, and data integration practices.

    Montefiore Medical Group, Bronx, NY, will train all staff within its 22-practice outpatient ambulatory care network in trauma-informed approaches to care using a multi-disciplinary train-the-trainer model including patient representatives.

    San Francisco Department of Public Health, San Francisco, CA, will develop a leadership model, learning community, and collaborative work group that will infuse trauma-informed systems’ principles and practices into public health and other child-, youth-, and family-serving agencies.

    Stephen and Sandra Sheller 11th Street Family Health Services, Philadelphia, PA, will train all staff to adopt a standard approach to collective mindfulness practice and use an integrated mind-body treatment model in working with patients who have experienced trauma.

    Women’s HIV Program at the University of California, San Francisco, CA, will develop a formal service integration partnership with the Trauma Recovery Center at San Francisco General Hospital to address the effects of lifetime trauma on adults.

“Wild, Wild Country,” a Documentary about Spiritual Guru, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, and His Followers: My Opinions, Personal Experiences and Reactions

Wild, Wild Country, a Documentary about Spiritual Guru, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, and His Followers: My Opinions, Personal Experiences and Reactions

There are many similarities between “traditional” or “organized” religions around the world and all their sects and cults. The valuation of these distinctions depends entirely on the describer’s perspective, the point in history they existed, who is doing the defining, what the underlying politics and economics are for such definitions, what fears already lie in wait, and what the circumstances surrounding the group’s existence were/are.


image from https://triangulations.wordpress.com/2014/03/13/cults-vs-religions/

UPDATED RESOURCE from 8/1/18: UPDATED RESOURCE from 8/1/18: “Why are Cults so Difficult to Oppose?” https://buddhism-controversy-blog.com/2018/08/01/why-are-cults-so-difficult-to-oppose/ is a great, informative blog post/article about definitions of the continuum that includes cults and other organizational dysfunctions. Worth reading!

Watch Jesus Christ Superstar or Godspell to see the cult of Jesus in effect, with songs and dances. Study the modern-day equivalents, such as the disasters that occurred when the USA government went against Waco‘s (around David Koresh) or Ruby Ridge‘s cults, or the suicide cult of Jim Jones and The People’s Temple, or Charles Manson and the murders he inspired, to see modern-day versions of the Jesus cult’s influences. Visit any Mormon polygamy family or group to see Joseph Smith‘s influence morphed into a cult. On and on.

There are many intentional religious communities, such as the Mormons, the Shakers, the Essenes, that would be (or are) considered cults. There are other groups of individuals that decided to live together in communes, communities, even towns or cities, whose organizations were eventually legitimized politically and socially, such as Puritans, Quakers, Twin Oaks, Findhorn and others.

Many first came to the USA from other countries to escape religious persecution. In their countries of origin, they were undoubtedly banned and were definitely considered dangerous criminals, heretics and illegal, which motivated or forced their unethical occupation of these lands. Even if these people had been exiled to the “New World” as recently freed or still-incarcerated prisoners, they soon formed or joined “colonies” that, after a bloody revolutionary war to declare independence, became “states” or “commonwealths.” When does incorporating legitimize a cult?

“History is written by the victors,” proclaimed Winston Churchill, the former Prime Minister of Great Britain (when it was still the heart of a formidable United Kingdom)…. He should know. Nothing we hear or read regarding controversial historical events can ever be exactly what it seems.

Howard Zinn‘s A People’s History of The United States proves repeatedly and painfully how many lies are told by the “winners” to justify and glorify their victories. The actual stories of the invaders and thieves who came to the Western Hemisphere’s continents and islands and subsequently raped, pillaged, enslaved, lied, kidnapped, burned down and stole their ways across and all around these lands—which were already occupied—was recast to frame these criminals and slave-owners and those who benefited from/were related to them as “explorers,” “Pilgrims,” “colonists,” “settlers,” “Pioneers,” “plantation owners,” “farmers,” etc.

We want the divine to be visible on earth. We want a Messiah. We want to belong and be inspired. These are human desires.

Watching the six episodes of Wild, Wild Country, I was flooded with memories, emotions, thoughts and observations due to my own connections to these and similar people and groups. In this post, I reveal my own herstory and also share my opinions, observations and emotions stimulated by my viewing of this documentary about the Rajneeshees.

Wherever you are reading this, please post your own experiences, comments, insights here, or find the post’s comments section on my site on or after April 5, 2018: http://www.sallyember.com/blog


My herstory, with full disclosures:

—By the definitions, checklists and assessments offered as to what constitutes a “cult” (listed and quoted at the end of this post), I have been a member of, somewhat involved in, or around leaders/members of about twenty of these so-called “cults” in my life already. A few were great, start to finish/currently. Others started out all right and turned bad. Several started out weird and became familiar and helpful. There were many that exist(ed) somewhere in between these poles of experience.
—I have had personal friends, acquaintances and known several community members who were very involved with and were staunch supporters/members of the Rajneeshees Oregon community (featured in this documentary), although none of them lived there for very long or had only visited. I called them “Orange People” and treated them with varying degrees of indulgence, disrespect, acceptance, interest, derision, bewilderment, curiousity.
—I was born into the edges of one “traditional religious” cult that my brother and his family are all happily members of—Modern Orthodox Judaism—but I’m sure they would object to having their portion of Judaism classified as a cult, even though it meets most of the criteria.
—In addition to Rajneeshees`, I have known well/had reconnections with more than 100 roommates, friends, family members, colleagues and acquaintances involved in cults and cult-like groups since 1972.

Here are the key groups I have been connected to over these decades:

  • The self-proclaimed Reverend Sun Yung Moon‘s Unification Church‘s (followers known as “Moonies”) bought and took over the University of Bridgeport (UB) in Connecticut in the late 1970s.
    I earned a Bachelors degree right before their takeover and was friends with a professor there who stayed through the takeover and after they departed. He did not become a Moonie, but during their administration, he became a Dean, then Provost, before retiring a few years ago.
    I became ashamed to have earned my B.A. from the place that became known as “Moonie U.,” always hastily adding after being forced to admit I had graduated from UB that I had left before the Moonies had come.

    The Cultiversity of Bridgeport
    article at https://theness.com/index.php/the-cultiversity-of-bridgeport/

  • I joined the teaching staff of a small but vibrant parent cooperative, private elementary educational institution, The Learning Tree School, that was nested within a larger community in southeastern Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts. The staff and parents had created some living situations that included at least three multi-member households.
    I joined one that had a single parent, her daughter and her partner (brother of one of my co-teachers), a VISTA (AmeriCorps, now) volunteer for the school, myself, and a man who knew many of these people and needed a place to live who would become one of my life partners (see below).
    I first learned about many things that became central to my life while part of this community: Finnish saunas (VERY hot, with steam on wood stovetops in outdoor buildings, and always done while naked and with the cold /ice water interludes), massage, chiropractic care, The Ovulation Method of fertility awareness, medicinal herbs and organic gardening, vegetarianism, macrobiotics, Re-Evaluation Counseling (RC; see below), communal households and collective living (which I lived in/organized from 1977 – 2005), “open” relationships/non-monogamy, positive classroom discipline, collaborative/consensus decision-making, arts in education, “free” school philosophies, child-centered classrooms and so much more.
    The aforementioned male addition to our collective household and I started a relationship that continued for almost twenty years. He is the father of my only child, a Mevlevi Sufi (see below), and still a good friend.
    But, interestingly, as a somewhat traditional teacher and person going into this teaching position and community, I remained an outsider. They decided that I was too “strict” when I objected to the other teachers’ lack of supervision of the children during icy recess afternoons or at the beachfront (our school occupied the former boathouse of a mostly inactive convent in Tiverton, Rhode Island), and not “loose” enough with the students (I didn’t like it when they got u[ and left in the middle of a lesson and called them back inside). We parted ways after only one year.

  • Followers of Prem Rawat, known as “The Maharishi,” (followers known as “Premies”) included my first-year college roommate, my former brother-out-law and his wife, several of their friends and a housemate’s sister. Although I participated in a few satsangs (Hindu-esque rituals, listening to audio or watching video of the teacher, chanting, singing, incense), this was not at all appealing to me.
  • I know three types of Sufis:
    1) those who started The Abode of the Message—one of the places my partner and I considered living—an “Eco-Sufi Village,” in Lebanon, New York, which spun off into Omega Institute for Holistic Studies, a “New Age” educational conference center in Rhinebeck, New York, and now, five other locations all still operating today. Both centers’ leaders follow(ed) the now-late Pir Vilayat Khan, and, later, his successor, Vilayat Inayat Khan but Omega welcomes all traditions, hosting many other leaders and educators.
    We weren’t drawn to The Abode community when we visited, so I didn’t return until I attended a week-long educational seminar at Omega in Rhinebeck about twenty years later. Great place! Just not for me;


    image of indoor meeting space, Omega Institute, Rhinebeck, NY

    2) those who are considered Mevlevi, often Turkish, who follow the teachings of the late poet, Rumi (Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Balkhi-Rumi). I knew/know many of these Sufis, including their now-deposed (due to a sex scandal) leader, Kabir [Ed] Helminski, in southwestern New Hampshire and southeastern Vermont (because my son’s father is a follower).
    My son’s father became a world-renowned master among the specialized Sufi Dancers known as Whirling Dervishes. He has traveled all over the world to whirl, starting in the mid-1980s, including at Carnegie Hall in New York City.
    Despite attending numerous Sufi family events and Semas, I never felt drawn to this path, either;
    and,
    3) students/followers of Sufi Sam Lewis (also known as Murshid Samuel Lewis and Sufi Ahmed Murad Chisti), who helped invent a type of spiritual dances that were done in circles with partners and groups, in spirals and other patterns, which he called “Sufi Dancing.”
    My son’s father had lived at and known Sam at the Lama Foundation in New Mexico before Sam’s death in 1971. I first encountered and participated in Sufi dancing at Another Place Conference Center in 1978 (see below).
    Sufi dancing has spread throughout the USA and Canada and the world. In several USA places on both coasts and in New Mexico for over thirty years, I learned a lot of these dances and songs, some in English, some in Arabic. I love them because they were easy to learn and the dancing/singing quickly infused us dancers with sweet messages of love, hope, peace, joy and community camaraderie.
    But, group arts activity is not a path and nothing about it appealed to me besides the Sufi dancing.


    image from https://triangulations.wordpress.com/2014/03/13/cults-vs-religions/

  • I was friends with and knew personally several leaders/founders of the Contact Improvisation Dance groups and Dance/Movement Therapy that inspired “Dance Free” (in Cambridge, MA), “Dance New England,” dance camps, “Dance Spree” at Keene State College in New Hampshire, and the Counseling Psychology/Dance Movement Therapy Masters’ degree program at Antioch New England Graduate School in Keene, New Hampshire.
    I have had several housemates and good friends who taught at and/or attended Antioch New England’s various graduate programs, including this one, and the DMT/CP program is the one from which my daughter-in-law graduated in 2016.
    But, since I hurt my leg severely in high school and suffered greatly from nerve pain for about twenty years, vigorous dancing was not my path, either.

  • MSIA (Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness) founded by John-Roger, “The Mystical Traveler” (a close associate of Arianna Huffington), had many other well-known followers/adherents. Jack Canfield of Chicken Soup for the Soul was an early leader.
    One of my sisters was very involved with this in the late 1970s. After she graduated college, she and her partner (later, husband) moved to Los Angeles, California, and that’s where she met up with these people. She decided to earn a master’s degree in counseling from their questionable and uncertified Koh-I-Nor University in Los Angeles. She worked for and was friends with Jack Canfield and his second wife for a year or so, then started having children and didn’t go back.
    My sister’s involvement scared more than appealed to me. I was glad when she left the group.

  • Re-Evaluation Counseling (RC), founded by Harvey Jackins, was created from what Harvey stole from the work, philosophies and techniques of Gestalt/Fritz Perls, Psychodrama/J.L. Moreno, L. Ron Hubbard/Scientology/Dianetics, and Alcoholics Anonymous/”Bill,” and the Big Book. Harvey and a few other “peer counselors” began to “train”and recruit participants and local, regional and global leaders (“Reference Persons”) through free introductory workshops, then pushing members into increasingly expensive beginning and required classes, that become more elite (and costly). The sequences of more “advanced” classes (like EST, Esalen, and many other groups/conference centers, what they offer gets pricey; see below) keep the organization funded. RC is a “peer counseling” technique which became the foundation of an international movement of anti-oppression, especially social, political, personal growth and activism, which I greatly appreciated and learned about intensively. Based in Seattle, Washington, the organization continues to this day and still sells information through Rational Island Publishers. A lot of the anti-oppression, anti-isms movements’ language, concepts, techniques and workshop leadership sprung from RC roots.



    images from https://www.rc.org/

    After Harvey‘s death in 1999, his son, Tim Jackins, took it over as the newly selected “International Liberation Reference Person.” RC leaders started multiple magazines/newsletters and used their increasing political savvy and leadership influence to help/staff many of the most significant civil rights and improvement movements of the 1950s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and the new millenium (environment, feminism/sexism, ableism, racism, sexual abuse memory recovery, ageism, peace and social justice, to name a few) that are still having an impact and still active worldwide.
    I started with RC in 1980 despite having had bad experiences with it in The Learning Tree School community (some co-counselors did not maintain confidentiality, e.g.; see above), then left it in 1984 to join and become a leader of CCI. I credit my ability to deal effectively and with courage when my own and others’ emotions arise, my raised consciousness (now called being “woke”) regarding all types of internalized and external oppression, my first understanding of the “isms,” social and political systems, leadership, group dynamics, catharsis (known as discharge, here) and much more to my experiences in RC and CCI.
    I met some great people who became lifelong friends, colleagues, inspirations and mentors for me through these organizations. I am eternally grateful that these organizations existed and were accessible to me in my early adult and new parent years. My first teachers and co-counselors earned my gratitude forever: Bonnie Insull, the late Jaye Alper, Anna Aasgard, Diane Balser, Katie Schwerin, Emmy Ianello, Sydney Amara Morris, Bill Whyte, Zea Moore, Jeremy Youst, Mario Cossa, Pamela Lerman, Susan Link, Beth Pearson, Thom Herman, and David Eisenberg.
    But, the rigidity turned me off, so I turned to CCI (see below).

  • Co-Counseling International (CCI) was a spin-off/rip-off of RC that formed in 1973 when a few disgruntled leaders and practitioners of RC didn’t want to follow the “blue pages” (stolen from Alcoholics Anonymous‘ “Big Book,” these were originally printed on blue paper; these list the guidelines/rules for social conduct for AA groups that Harvey adapted for RC groups), particularly rebelling against the strictly enforced rules that forbid socializing/befriending and having sex with people whom co-counseling participants knew only through RC as leaders or co-counselors. CCI-ers also wanted more respect for and inclusion of the “spiritual” component than Harvey and his co-leaders seemed to value or would permit. Adding the spiritual component and escaping the rigidity of RC appealed to me, so I switched alliances in 1983.
    I rose quickly in the local ranks, leading/teaching classes and workshops, weekend conferences and other events. However, there was too much irresponsible and non-monogamous sex going on among co-counselors, especially at weekend workshop events, even for me (who was in “open” relationships for more than half my adult life), For example, there were many public displays of kissing and fondling, seemingly required at the end of some weekend conferences in a kind of good-bye dance line set-up, that made me very uncomfortable. I usually declined to participate in these “group gropes,” but, as a co-leader, I wish I had tried to stop them completely.
    I stayed about three years with CCI, but left CCI once I started going to traditional therapy in 1986 (after the Choy/cult experiences—see below—destroyed my main friendships and co-teaching partnerships within CCI).

  • Some Sikhs were those who followed Yogi Bhajan and Kirpal Singh and his successors. Some started and ran the Golden Temple of Conscious Cookery restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
    One of these Sikhs was a 3-year roommate (1987-1989) and friend of mine in New Hampshire.
    Being a complete vegan did not appeal to me, nor did that eating plan work for my body. I didn’t like the worshipping a human teacher aspects much. Plus, the turbans were a big turn-off.

  • The Farm in Summertown, Tennessee, founded and led by Stephen and Ina May Gaskin, inspired/wrote Spiritual Midwifery. The Farm was one intentional community that my partner and I considered living in and visited in 1978. But, while we were visiting, they were experiencing a hepatitis outbreak: big turn-off.


    Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin of The Farm

    We knew several couples who had lived there but who had left and moved to New Hampshire and Massachusetts in the late 1970s (two couples had been in a “four-marriage,” which meant each of them had fathered a child with the other’s wife, but that child was raised as in ignorance until adulthood, believing him/herself to have been the child of the originally married couple). One of the families that we knew well (because my partner had been college friends with the mom) had had one of their children’s birth stories featured in the midwifery book.
    Because of The Farm‘s great information dissemination, we had access to one of the best books on home births, a great cookbook for home cooking for vegetarians (especially how to cook beans, tips on using pressure cookers, recipes for making everything from scratch), pamphlets on making/using tofu (The Farm community was instrumental in popularizing the use of soy in many forms). I became an excellent vegetarian cook, we had a home birth for our son, and we had several friends who were lay midwives (three midwives attended our son’s home birth).


    My son, his father and I, he in a Native American-style, homemade (by two of our midwives) cradleboard, May, 1980, Stoddard, New Hampshire

    I am very grateful to the Gaskins and their followers for all they have contributed to my and many others’ lives.

  • I knew a lot of “Mukties,” followers of Muktananda—born Krishna Rai— who was the founder of Siddha Yoga and popularized the spiritual residential centers known as “ashrams” in the USA.
    Students of Muktananda and his successors were leaders/members of several groups I was affiliated with, including Another Place Conference Center, Spring Hill Community, Opening the Heart, and Robert Gass and the Wings of Song band/chorus in the late 1970s and early 1980s (I am listed as “Sallie Fleischman,” a chorus member, on the second album, Many Blessings, released in 1980; I performed with the band from 1978 – 1980). We also had two Siddha Yoga practitioners for housemates. I also knew some Buddhist sangha members who were Siddha Yoga practitioners/leaders (known as “Swamis”) who had lived at the main ashram in New York state.
    But, other than the chanting and singing kirtan (Hindu sacred music), I was never drawn to visit an ashram or practice in this path.

  • Mettanokit (a Wampanoag—Native American—language name given to several communal households that were part of an intentional community in southwestern New Hampshire that my partner and I moved from Massachusetts to be a part of, attracted by this flyer:


    Mettanokit flyer, circa 1978

    This community was started by Native American activist and author, Medicine Story (Francis Story Talbot, Manitonquat, who has written extensively on his philosophies ad done a lot of work in the world related to these concepts), and his then-wife, Emmy Ianello, and several others. I lived in collective households with some of these members (Story, Emmy, Toqueem [child], Katie, Bill, Mia [child], Charlie, Aaron [child], Christopher and I were in the first group household, in Sharon, New Hampshire, 1978-79) in some combination for three years (and there were several home births in these households, including ours; see above).
    Although the community splintered and some moved to form other households—in Massachusetts, Another Place Conference Center (where many had lived prior to this; see above and below) who then bought and ran it for years, in other parts of New Hampshire, and some scattered—I became lifelong friends with the family who founded and still run Badger Balm, Bill Whyte, Katie Schwerin, and their daughters, Emily Schwerin-Whyte and Rebecca Hamilton, and Katie‘s daughter, Neumia Mason Burroughs.
    Joining this community was the reason I landed in New Hampshire, and these connections formed the foundation for my adult life, parenting and community for over twenty years. I am very grateful to have known and been a part of this venture at its inception.

  • Wiccans: I was close friends with several practicing witches whose beliefs were sometimes labeled “Wiccan,” “Pagan,” and “Womancraft.” I attended a workshop with USA’s most famous modern witch, activist and author, Starhawk, and visited and did rituals with several covens and Goddess groups that practiced “White Magic” in the 1980s.
    I learned to read Tarot cards, scry (see visions in crystal balls), do healings with placing crystals on people’s bodies and faces, cast a circle (create a safe/sacred space for rituals) and use the tools of Wicca. I had several crystals, crystal balls and my own athame (ritual dagger) as well as specific types of candles and incense.
    I learned a lot and enjoyed some of the rituals and gatherings, but when my closest friends who were committed practitioners of the Craft moved away, my interest dwindled.

  • Shamanism: (the Michael Harner-/Brant Secunda-inspired types). I knew a few who had studied with these leaders who brought the techniques back to New Hampshire.
    I attended some drumming/shamanic dreaming/vision circles in the 1980s.
    But, I had more interest in one of the drummers than the path, and when our friendship blew up (see Choy experience, below), my interests in Shamanism and drumming vision quests ended as well.

  • Robert Bly followers/drum circle men permeated several communities I was part of in southwestern New Hampshire and northern California.
    As a woman, this was not for me.

  • Radical feminism: I am still an adherent.
    I belonged to several feminist groups over the years, including the Rising Sun Feminist Health Alliance, which had founding members who were in the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective (the authors of Our Bodies/Ourselves) as its leaders. I was also briefly on the Board of New Hampshire-NARAL (National Abortion Rights Action League). I also visited and/or belonged to vision groups, study groups, Grandmothers’ groups, Goddess groups, several women’s choruses, women’s groups, lesbian-bisexual women’s groups, LGBT groups, and feminist activist organizations in five states (some of which overlapped with Wicca, above).
    I attended a weekend workshop at Rowe Conference Center in Rowe, Massachusetts, in 1990, led by ex-communicated, feminist, former two-time presidential candidate, public speaker and author, Sonia Johnson. Sonia kissed any participant who wanted to kiss her at the closing circle ceremony. I did not volunteer.


    image from Citizens’ Party

    Because of my having attended a panel of the authors of Women’s Ways of Knowing and a workshop with Carol Gilligan and some of her co-authors and researchers of In A Different Voice in the 1980s, I decided to return to school to earn my masters’ and doctoral degrees in the early 1990s. I briefly belonged to the AWP (Association of Women in Psychology) feminist professional organization during that time.
    I have been a feminist since 1957, when I objected to traditional Reformed Jewish rituals and traditions that excluded or marginalized girls/women. I am still a feminist.

  • Eco-warriors and Peace Activists: I knew/was friends with some of the original recyclers, permaculturalists, organic farmers, people who started several food co-ops, a founder of Erewhon Natural Foods, founders/members of the New England Organic Farmers Association [NOFA], several environmental educators/faculty at Sargent Camp and Antioch/New England Graduate School in southwestern New Hampshire, and members of several similar groups I was loosely affiliated with for many years. Anti-war/Peace activism: included me and fellow high school students, starting in 1969 for the first Moratorium Day (anti Vietnam War national demonstration, for which I was suspended from school for wearing the black armband; 10/15/69), and continued for every war after that.
    I wish we prevailed more often.

  • Anti-nuclear power activists: I was a member of The Clamshell Alliance, which helped stop the building of the Seabrook, New Hampshire, nuclear power plant’s second tower, close down the Rowe, Massachusetts, aging plant, and stop the building of several others around the USA in the 1970s-1980s, particularly successful after the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, nuclear power plant meltdown/disaster.
    Again, I wish we prevailed more often.

  • I learned T.M. (Transcendental Meditation, as taught by the followers of the Beatles’ guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi), right after graduating high school in 1972, but I didn’t join the group. I practiced T.M. twice daily for over 20 years.
    I have had friends and acquaintances who went to live at the USA’s T.M. center in Iowa, attended Maharishi University there and lived at the center in India. Some became leaders in the T.M. movement.
    But, I was in my thirties before I realized that this was a Hindu-based meditation practice, since I had stayed out of the groups (and was glad I had). I did the practice, which turned out to be a component of shamatha meditation (calm abiding) in Buddhism, but not the Hindu path.

  • Scientology briefly grabbed my brother’s attention in 1970, but he didn’t continue pursuing it after high school. In 2013, I met some colleagues who had been more involved in that and its spin-off, Dianetics, but who had also left by the time I worked with them.
    Neither of these appealed to me at all.

  • I was in, around, friends with, sent my child to daycare/preschool and school at/with several intentional communities in southwestern New Hampshire between 1978 – 1998, including Rudolf Steiner/Waldorf Schools/Anthroposophism groups (which I did not join, myself, but many friends became Waldorf teachers). I was the accompanist for the Monadnock Waldorf School‘s (MWS) Eurythmy program in 1987-88, before our son became a student there. Our son attended MWS from 1988-1994 (3rd – 8th grades), and we were active parents. I helped with drama productions, sex/health education, conflict resolution, craft fairs and childcare.
    I appreciated MWS‘ existence in our community, and most of my friends sent their kids to this and other Waldorf schools. But, I always felt like an outsider/dissenter to Anthroposophism because I never bought in completely. The Christian components, especially in the MWS school/community, were excessive and oppressive to me, as a Jewish Buddhist. I was relieved to be “done” with MWS when our son graduated.

  • In 1983, I first met author, channeler/clairvoyant, public speaker and workshop leader, Caroline Myss [pronounced “Carolyn Mace”] when she agreed to meet with me and my friend/colleague, Mario Cossa, to discuss the lost city of Atlantis for two children’s /youth plays we were writing. We became very good friends from then on, seeing each other almost weekly until she left New Hampshire to return to Chicago in 1992.


    Caroline Myss, from her website

    I also met and became friendly with the other founders and staff at Stillpoint Publishing, where she and Meredith Young (author of Agartha: Journey to the Stars) wrote and worked and two other friends of mine soon worked. I coordinated a workshop for Caroline to lead that took place at Another Place Conference Center (see above) in the fall of 1985 on the topic of her second book, Sacred Contracts and Your Archetypes, and I am mentioned in the forewords of three of her books.
    It was from Caroline and Meredith that I first learned about and became interested in “channeling,” so I was ripe to meet with and study with Lisa Leghorn in the early spring of 1985 (see below).

  • I have happily been a member and practitioner, myself, of another cult-like group (according to many definitions), Vajrayana Tibetan Buddhists, as led by the late His Eminence Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche. I spent about fifteen years co-leading and living in/participating in several of Chagdud Gonpa‘s meditation groups/centers (since 1988–first meetings/1996–joined up). First studying with Lama Lisa Leghorn/Lama Shenphen (see below), my then-partner and I helped start, lead, coordinate, sat on the boards of, and lived in several of these Gonpas (meditation centers/communities).
    I have done several “long” retreats—up to eleven weeks, all in silence—and many that lasted two – three weeks or a long weekend. I attended three 10-day Drubchens and several Drubchods (closed or open retreats with music, chanting, dancing and other rituals that lasted 24 hours a day), weekly or daily meditation sessions (pujas), and even trained to be and functioned as the leader (umzei) for these weekly sessions at several centers. I spent ten years exchanging English language tutoring for Tibetan language tutoring with a Tibetan man I met through one of these centers who became a good friend. I learned to read and write in Tibetan, but not to speak much and was never fluent.
    After philosophical differences among its leaders/Lamas caused schisms (between 2007 – 2009), I “spun-off” with Rinpoche‘s successor, who was already my main/”root” Lama, Lama Padma Drimed Norbu ([Al]Wyn Fischel; see below). He left Chagdud Gonpa‘s main center, Rigdzin Ling in Junction City (northern California, near Redding), in 2009 and moved to the San Francisco Bay Area of California, where I already had been living for about seven years.


    Lama Drimed (Wyn Fischel), my teacher

    I returned to Missouri in August, 2014, after the accident that caused a TBI for me in the spring of 2014; up until then, I met with Lama Drimed about once every few months for most of those years. Since I moved, I only returned to California once, in 2016, when I did get to meet with him. Otherwise, we email and have phone calls periodically and I still consider him to be my spiritual teacher. There are a few Buddhist groups here in St. Louis that I have visited, attended some events and kind of affiliated with, but none is the exact same kind of Vajrayana Tibetan Buddhism as mine, although three are very close “cousins.” I’ve gotten used to being a solo practitioner, though, at this point (spring, 2018).


    image from http://www.vijayatemple.orgA Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhist class, similar to the ones I attended for many years

    I practice meditation in the Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhist tradition daily and throughout the day, formally and informally, to date (April, 2018), and plan to continue through my death and into other lifetimes.

  • I have always really wanted to be a part of a healthy intentional community, but NOT a cult. I knew the editors/founders of Communities Magazine, Paul Freundlich and his then-partner, in 1978.
    I knew and visited dozens of people who lived at variously located small- and large-group intentional community experiments, always searching for the “right” one for me.
    I was part of a group that tried to get a co-housing community started in 1990-91, but we disintegrated.
    I still long to live in that kind of setting and wish I could find the right community.

There are many more cult-like groups and people affiliated with them that I’ve known, but I’m stopping, here, since these are the main ones, including the story, below.


My Worst Cult-like Experience, with the Same Two Leaders as my Best

Some local teachers, Lisa Leghorn, with whom I was already studying, and, later, Wyn Fischel (who later were briefly married to each other), were pivotal influences in my life, beginning in 1985. They brought me into meeting and studying Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism with H.E. Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche because they each became Buddhist teachers/Lamas; see above), which saved and enhanced my life and spiritual development, unlike anything I have ever known before or since (and, by now, you can see I’ve “known” a lot of “paths”).

Lisa and, secondarily, Wyn were the connections that led me to meet with and join what became a briefly formed cult. This group centered around a Filipino faith healer known as Choy who lived in Baguio City, the Philippines. [NOTE: I can’t remember his real name. A Google search didn’t turn up any mention of him by his nickname. The only photos I have are personal, casual or posed group shots.]

This part of my cult experiences story started for me in March of 1985.
I had seen some flyers and ads and then heard from several friends about a “Psychic and Spiritual Development” teacher from Hillsborough, New Hampshire, Lisa Leghorn, who was going to speak and teach in Peterborough, New Hampshire. Lisa apparently offered private psychic readings by “Channeling” her “Spirit Guides” (this was very big in the 1980s). She taught classes in giving readings as well as how to dowse, use crystals for healing and focusing our energies, and learn to “awaken our psychic potentials. The flyers said that Lisa was going to give an introductory lecture and start a series of weekly classes in April of 1985. Since I had been seeing/hearing about it multiple times, it seemed significant and I was interested. I brought about a dozen people with me to this first meeting/lecture, a meeting that turned out to be momentous for many of us.

For Lisa, the story started when, in the fall of 1984, she had first met this Filipino faith healer, “Choy,” because a friend of hers had invited him to teach a workshop in northern New Hampshire which Lisa had attended. It was around that same time that Lisa started dating Wyn Fischel.

Lisa taught her Peterborough classes for about a year; Wyn started attending ours and her other one, in Hillsborough, then teaching his own classes himself in Keene, which several of my friends attended, in the summer of 1985. Lisa and Wyn then invited all their students to meet Choy when he came back to New Hampshire to lead another weekend workshop in September, 1985.

During Lisa‘s weekly psychic and personal development classes (which I attended from April, 1985, to March, 1986) and Choy‘s workshop, I discovered that I had strong and accurate clairvoyant medical and psychological diagnosis skills, similar to those of Caroline Myss (who was a close friend of mine for several years, while she and I both lived in New Hampshire; see above). In these class, I learned about chakras, energy fields, ley lines, light bodies, “layers of the field” of our auras and auras in general, NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), polarity, past lives and regression, dream interpretations, and much more.


image from http://theawakenedstate.tumblr.com/post/72106305704/auras

These were all topics that interested me a lot, so I soaked in all in and returned for more, signing up for advanced classes, weekend workshops, and eventually, the trip to the Philippines (see below).

Lisa arranged for a group of us to go study with Choy in Baguio City, but we had to wait because of political unrest in the Philippines. While waiting for Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos to be deposed and flee and Corazon Aquino to be elected President, a dozen of us led by Lisa prepared through evenings, weekends, long weekends, and even a one-week retreat, under Lisa‘s tutelage, with weekend seminars and more classes during the late fall and winter of 1985-86. When it was safe, we went with Lisa and Wyn to study with Choy. Everyone stayed for one month; eight stayed longer; four of us stayed for two months.

After we had all returned, Lisa and Wyn (now married) hosted Choy Choy at Wyn‘s property (which had two buildings, a house and a studio/classroom) for Choy to do healings/see patients and teach weekly classes, which occurred three or four times each week through early September of 1986. The classes included a mix of esoteric/mystical Catholicism, shamanism, psychic/personal development and “New Age” components. I became somewhat of a “senior student” due to my quickly developing skills and knowledge of the local community. I and others brought many friends and family members to Choy‘s groups/classes or to see him as a patient. We sometimes had over 100 people coming visiting Wyn‘s Temple, NH, property per week, for about twelve weeks.

Near the end of that time, however, Lisa and Wyn, then those close to them, began to hear disturbing reports from patients and students: Choy was somewhat of a healing fraud. Turned out that he had told some patients that their conditions were “cured,” but these patients had come back, irate, waving CAT scans showing that their cancers had spread, for example. Worse, we found out that Choy had been sexually abusing some of his patients and my fellow students.

While I and others were first learning of the extent of Choy‘s horrendous behaviors and lies, it turned out that Lisa and Wyn were not so new to this information. They had known about some of the “lesser” sexual improprieties since the first impropriety, back in Baguio City. Then, for months, they had hidden that and other complaints from the rest of us, allowing Choy to stay while their silence protected and enabled Choy to continue and to escalate his abuses.

The ways that these lies were exposed imploded my community. In the aftermath, my credibility and trust between me and some of my friends were destroyed, since some of them believed—I was so close to Lisa and Wyn, how could I not have known what they knew?—that I had known more and sooner than I had. I completely understood their skepticism and mistrust; I was feeling that about Lisa and Wyn, myself, and I was furious with and felt horribly betrayed by Choy. These betrayals and abuses of trust devastated several key friendships and CCI (see above) co-teaching relationships for me and damaged my friendships with and trust for Lisa and Wyn for years.

The group-think that developed around Choy and the related events were, by far, the most cult-like of my personal experiences, and the worst. Some of my relationships never recovered because I was not believed or forgiven.

Even more difficult, Lisa and Wyn left soon after this all blew up. They said they had to go looking for a true spiritual teacher and community. They left me, and with them gone, I got all the blame and was the recipient of everyone’s hurt feelings for months after they left. This caused me great stress and sent me into traditional therapy (see above).

One good part: since I had already learned a lot and seemingly had a lot of clairvoyant and counseling/teaching skills, and as one of the most successful and senior students, many asked me to take over/help them out, and I was very willing and able to do that. Not everything Choy had done or taught was fraudulent, at least, not for me and many others.

That is often the case with cults: things with the leader/group start out good or even great, or everything is a mix of good/bad, until it all goes sour. I was traumatized and grieving, but through therapy, I began to heal.

I agreed to continue seeing clients, doing the counseling/hands-on healings/diagnoses, first in New Hampshire at my own home, then at offices I borrowed and eventually rented in Cambridge/Watertown, Massachusetts, once a week. I also started teaching classes that were very similar to Lisa‘s, which I had liked a lot and learned so much from that I wanted to share all that with others. I worked in this field for about two years.

In 1988, after two of my sponsors, who had also been clients and friends, were brutally murdered while on vacation, I stopped abruptly—out of overwhelming grief and guilt—because I had had no premonition of their being in danger. This tragedy and my powerlessness to prevent or protect them from it, as well as my increasing realization that these “classes” and “counseling” were not empowering, but rather, making my clients dependent on me, destroyed what had remained of my faith, motivation and confidence. So, I quit it all.

Meanwhile, in the summer of 1987, Lisa and Wyn returned briefly to New Hampshire to pack up and sell their homes. Their search had succeeded: they had discovered Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism as taught by H.E. Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche (see above), and his sangha (spiritual communities) had met with their approval. They had started studying with him right away and then decided to move to California to join his sangha. They helped to create the main center in Junction City, which was bought, up and running by early 1988.

Their decision to leave New Hampshire was not completely understandable, and I was devastated, furious, sad and bewildered. How could they do this? Another Asian male teacher? Really? I was derisive and disgusted.

Wyn did try to teach me some of what they had been learning (“The Four Thoughts That Turn the Mind”) before they left, even though I was less than receptive. This short “conversation,” which we had while he was hanging laundry outside to dry, was my first Buddhist teaching from him.

We did not part on great terms, but we stayed in touch (mostly, Lisa and I did, then Wyn and I). First Lisa was my Buddhist teacher, starting in Colorado in 1996, continuing in New York City and Boston when she and Rinpoche came to teach and give empowerments and Refuge. Lama Lisa was our guiding lama when I lived at and helped coordinate Buddhist centers in the Chagdud Gonpa Foundation network, one in Maine (1998-99) and two in Arizona/New Mexico (1999-2001).

While I was finishing my doctoral degree and then working full time, 1996-1998, I meditated daily to complete the Preliminary Practices (ngondro) and other accumulations of 100,000 mantras, utilizing visualization and other meditation techniques that qualified me to attend the first-year Dzogchen (“Great Perfection”) retreat with Lama Drimed as its leader. That is the way that Wyn became my “root” Buddhist Lama.


Lama Drimed and I, 1999, at Rigdzin Ling, Junction City, CA

This part of our journey took almost 15 years (see above). THAT is some strong karma, eh?


However, first, I felt very alienated from Buddhism for many years, even though I had met Rinpoche and his wife, Jane (who became Chagdud Khadro when he ordained her as a Lama) when Rinpoche and Jane came to Hew Hampshire at the invitation of my best friend (who had been involved with Lisa, Wyn, Choy, the Philippines, etc., then gone to study with Rinpoche at Lisa‘s request) in 1988.

Missing them and wanting to see what they had created and where they were living, I had even gone out to Rigdzin Ling (see above) to visit Lisa and Wyn, see their new Center/Gonpa, and to attend a 10-day Bodhisattva Peace Training that Lisa had insisted I go to, in the winter of 1989. But, it “didn’t take.” I wasn’t moved to start practicing.

I continued to see Lisa when she came to the East Coast with Rinpoche, as his attendant and translator (he had terrible English that few could understand) almost every year. During one visit, I half-jokingly told Lisa I wouldn’t start studying Buddhism until SHE started teaching it. In 1995, Rinpoche ordained Wyn as Lama Padma Drimed Norbu (Lama Drimed), whom he also made his “lineage heir” (an unheard-of move, since Rinpoche already had an adult son who was a Lama whom he bypassed for this honor) along with another senior student, Lama Tsering. Rinpoche was one of the first to ordain Western women (starting with Lama Inge Sandvoss) and continued to ordain Westerners until his death in 2002.


image from http://theind.com/article-permalink-1428.html of Rinpoche and Lisa, circa 1994

In 1996, Lisa was ordained by Rinpoche. She became Lama Lisa, then Lama Shenphen Drolma, and started teaching. I kept my word.

For more about this journey, see my two-part series, published online in 2015 in Buddhist Door, “A Reluctant Buddhist: How it Took Me Eight Years to Start Practicing in This Life,” Part I and Part II.


So, watching this documentary, Wild, Wild Country, about Rajneesh and all that, was a little like watching my own and others’ lives. Some of the Orange people/Rajneeshees were close friends, housemates, co-counseling partners, community acquaintances and others whom I had known and understood very well (see above). I had already read some books about this group, but there were a lot of facts and footage that shocked me during my viewing.

The Rajneesh meditation community started out so sweetly, with so much love, hope, utopian visions and plans, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, in India and then many other countries, before they started the community/city in Oregon, USA.


image from documentary/Netflix; Ma Anand Sheela and Rajneesh, early years, in Poona, India

But, watching this documentary and remembering the friends and others I knew who had been involved with Rajneeshees made me feel so much sadness, anger, ad compassion. I was hurting for those—like the people I knew personally—who had been innocent followers and believers but who had been horribly betrayed, led astray, influenced unduly to do atrocious things or didn’t even know about them.

Some of what they set out to accomplish, some of the good they wanted to do in the region and world, did occur. But, so much damage was also done.

Watch, and do more research. Then, do more, if you want. Decide for yourselves. Here are my observations, reactions and options. See what you think…


Episodes 1 & 2, late 1970s – early 1980s:
—The promise, the joy, spiritual path and personal growth work, music and dance that infused the gatherings and parties. Recruitment, voluntary joining, friends and family members joining together made this lifestyle seems to appealing to many around the world.
—There were interviews, videos and photographs that showed so many people’s involvement being touted as “the best thing that ever happened to them.”
—They built an amazing, somewhat utopian-seeming city in a very short amount of time and housed and fed thousands. They lived without crime and seemingly in harmony for a few years while the numbers of those who followed Rajneesh exploded worldwide.

Episodes 3 & 4, 1983 – 1984:
Depicting all the ways in which it all goes to shit.
—Rajneeshpuram sent buses and advocates to many cities in the USA in the summer of 1984 to recruit homeless people into its community. They welcomed all of these formerly abandoned people (mostly males) and gave them a lot that they had been missing: security, housing, food, work, friends, respect. But, they did this in order to get these new residents to register to vote so the Sannyasin could take over government by choosing the leaders of Oregon.
—Wasco County, Oregon, refused to allow these newly legitimate residents to register to vote in the November, 1984, election, which shows how crazy the politicians and leaders of Oregon had become.


Rajneeshpuram, 1985, Welcome sign

Bhagwan was instructing Sheela; she did not act on her own or from her own ideas, solely.
—One of these new residents, a formerly homeless man who was mentally ill and violent, attacked and almost strangled Sheela to death. He was quickly removed from the community completely.
Sheelaand other leaders of Rajneeshpuram then made the decision to secretly (without the knowledge or consent of the affected community members) put Haldol (a strong anti-psychotic and sedative) into the homeless residents’ drinks (beers, mostly), which shows how crazy Rajneeshpuram leaders had become.
Ma Anand Sheela and other leaders soon evicted most of the “street” people/homeless people, only keeping those who could/would follow the rules. Sannyasins left the violent, mentally ill Rajneeshpuram rejects in nearby Oregon towns and cities, mostly Portland, showing automatic weapons to those who tried to stop these drop offs.
—Law enforcement came to “inspect” Rajneeshpuram. They were met with roads that were blocked by sannyasin vehicles and “road closure” signs. Officers’ cars went off-road and attempted to enter some buildings, but weren’t allowed in (“We can’t find the keys”), so they left. They missed seeing the labs in which bio-terrorism weapons were being developed.
Sheela planned and sannyasin carried out attacks, which included bio-terrorism (putting salmonella into the food of several salad bars in Portland) prior to the election in order to keep legitimate voters from voting in the November election. 750 people became ill in The Dalles from food poisoning. Many had to be hospitalized.
Sheela and other leaders continued to exhort the sannyasin into even more heinous acts (more threats to Oregonians, violence, including murders). Some sannyasin rebelled/refused or left; some followed her edicts and acted as her “soldiers.” They had disguises, safe houses, weapons, plans for assassinations and other crimes (including bombings) to be carried out against politicians and USA lawyers/leaders.
—Oregonians succeeded in outmaneuvering and thereby, outvoting the sannyasins, some of whom then refused to vote. So, their political take-over plan failed.
—Conflicts escalated after the election, with Sheela‘s making comparisons between Oregon’s leaders and citizens to Nazis and Hitler occurring frequently.
—Oregon set up a “hotline” for people to report possible crimes and dangers, statewide.
—Sannyasins committed arson in Wasco.
—Poisoned chocolates from Rajneeshpuram were delivered to Oregonian activists.
—Sannyasins poisoned water of USA attorneys and other Oregon leaders.
Ma Anan Hasya (a part of the so-called “The Hollywood Crowd”) became one of Rajneeshees‘s spokespeople and fundraisers and married Bhagwan’s doctor. Hasya helped sannyasins to buy mansions in Los Angeles and throwing huge parties to recruit members and donors. Huge amounts started to be spent to give Rajneeshees Rolls Royces, jewelry, property, and money. These gifts gave them access to Bhagwan, without Sheela.
—Divisions arose surrounding Bhagwan, with the starting of new corporations and leaders, creating jealousies, anger, and even more craziness among sannysins and leaders, between the LA and Oregon communities.
Bhagwan began using and became addicted to mind-altering drugs, His talks became less coherent. He became more paranoid, predicting chaos and dystopian futures. Talks began about building underground compounds, etc., to survive the apocalypse.
Sheela tried to get Bhagwan off the drugs, tried to rein him, to keep the police away. He refused her help and advice.
Sheela became more paranoid, distraught, isolated and dispirited, according to followers, in which many more factions/ divisions arose.

Episodes 5 & 6, 1984 – 1990 – 2018: Discovered, caught, arrested, imprisoned, freed, sold, disbanded, resurging, continuing
Sheela and her soldiers had electronically eavesdropped on Bhagwan‘s home and meeting rooms, every phone call, and every building in Rajneeshpuram, for years.
Bhagwan and his doctor were recorded discussing how to inject drugs to kill people, that they had ordered the drugs and buried them in Bhagwan‘s garden and began to build a crematorium.
Sheela believed Bhagwan and his doctor were planning Bhagwan’s death. Sheela asked who would kill the doctor to prevent this?
—One sannyasin volunteered, gathered the injection and syringe, planned and carried out this doctor’s attempted murder during the summer festival of 1985, believing she was saving Bhagwan, but only after that (in September, 1985) did she and Sheela and about 18 others loyal to Sheela leave Rajneeshpuram, fleeing their crimes and leaving a leadership vacuum.
—The USA government became even more intent on destroying/removing Rajneesh and Rajneeshpuram. Immigration, the IRS, zoning and other departments, including the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (the ATF, famous for blowing up many other communities in the USA), and the FBI conducted investigations.
—Investigative journalists helped provide the necessary clues and evidence which brought about the demise of the plans, leaders and the city of Rajneeshpuram. The FBI and other departments within the USA and Oregon government law enforcement groups uncovered crimes going back to their time in Poona, India (money-laundering, immigration fraud, theft, tax evasion, weapons charges, financial crimes of other kinds).
Rajneesh (sometimes called “Osho“) and the followers who didn’t flee with or feel loyal Sheela threw her “under the bus,” blaming Sheela and her alone for every bad thing the community members had done. They publicly burned her robes, called her horrible names, stated that she had written one of “his” books and burned those, and vilified Sheela.
—It was soon discovered that Bhagwan had actually ordered Sheela to do most of the illegal and unethical things she and some others had done. Bhagwan’s claims of innocence and ignorance were false.
—Public speaking, media appearances and newspaper interviews with accusations by Sheela and Bhagwan, each making claims against the other, continued for months.
—It always comes down to money. Sheela‘s posing naked for magazine spreads was one of her “exile” activities meant to earn/raise money.
—The former mayor of Rajneeshpuram, KD, had left and secretly made a deal with the Federal government. He pled guilty to some crimes to avoid other charges and got some immunity as well as placement in Witness Protection by testifying against both Sheela and Bhagwan and 5 others involved in planning/plotting the poisonings, wiretapping/eavesdropping, immigration fraud, financial misdeeds and murder attempts.
—The presence of multiple firearms, explosives and other weapons on each side made violence seem inevitable if authorities had tried to enter Rajneeshpuram.
—Ten followers who still lived in Rajneeshpuram were supposed to be arrested there along with Bhagwan but Bhagwan and they had fled using their own Lear jets, heading to Bermuda where they would not have been extraditable. But, both planes had to refuel. The FAA discovered their plans and arrested them when the planes landed to refuel while still in the USA (Charlotte, North Carolina). They had $50K, a lot of jewelry, his “throne,” and personal belongings.
Sheela and 2 others were arrested and extradited from Germany to the USA on the same day as Bhagwan was arrested in the USA.
Sheela pled guilty to all charges. She paid fines, did some prison time, then was deported after her release.
—Although Bhagwan had been allowed in 1984 to remain in the USA as a “religious teacher/leader,” he was found, arrested and brought up on on criminal charges in 1985.
—Many considered Bhagwan to have been a political prisoner, religiously persecuted and unfairly prosecuted and sentenced.


Rajneesh arrested in 1985. Image from http://www.oregonlive.com

—While under arrest, Bhagwan was brought to several prisons, strip-searched repeatedly, put into cells with dangerous criminals, and paraded before the media while “being returned to Oregon.” They had him on buses, planes, cars for almost three weeks, succeeding in forcing him to “surrender.”
Bhagwan and his attorneys made a plea deal instead of going on trial, even though the case against him was very weak. He probably would have won, but they settled because they believed the USA government would never have stopped going after him and his health wasn’t good enough for a protracted trial or legal fight.
—In November, 1985, Bhagwan agreed to be permanently deported back to India rather than go on trial or serve more prison time in the USA. His departure was filmed and his followers were very sad to see him go, but some followed him to India later.
—Sannyasin began to leave Oregon soon after Bhagwan‘s departure.
—The city/ranch was shut down, then sold. Some of later became a Christian summer camp and retreat center.
Bhagwan was only 58 when he died, in 1990, of heart disease…or, was he murdered by his physician and looted by this doctor and his “inner circle,” as Sheela and others claim?
—There are still Rajneesh individuals and groups of followers, new and original, worldwide: devotees, readers, meditators who learn(ed) about and do the practices Osho and his leaders promulgate(d), with the Osho Foundation and many other ways to earn/collect money continuing, to date, 2018.
Bhagwan was powerful and leading groups for not even 20 years; only about 4 of those years was he active and in the USA. Yet, Bhagwan/Rajneesh/Osho attracted, gathered and still has hundreds of thousands of followers/believers, some who have remained loyal to him and his “vision” for over thirty years.


Part of Rajneesh‘s (then called Osho) obituary, in 1990: “Baghwan [sic] Shree Rajneesh, the Indian guru who attracted thousands of followers at his Oregon commune in the early 1980’s before being deported from the United States, died yesterday of heart disease at his commune in Poona, in southern India, members of his entourage there told reporters. He was 58 years old.” from The New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/1990/01/20/obituaries/baghwan-shree-rajneesh-indian-guru-dies-at-58.html


For more info on the film

An interesting article, written not long after the movie dropped on Netflix includes a video interview with the filmmakers:
“This Is The Part Of Wild, Wild Country That You Didn’t See,” by KAITLIN REILLY, from 3/29/18, link is below.
https://www.refinery29.com/2018/03/195090/wild-wild-country-life-of-sannyasin-rajneeshpuram?bucketed=true

My comment on this article was left on the article’s site and reprinted, here:

I was personally friends and housemates with several “orange people” who went back-and-forth between Southwestern New Hampshire (where we lived) and Oregon during Rajneeshpurim’s heydey. I knew them “before,” “during,” and “after.”

Seeing this documentary brought back some powerful memories and even more questions. Many of the people I knew had already decided not to continue as sannyasin (renunciates; members of this spiritual community) and stop following Bhagwan years prior to the collapse and prosecutions, but some had continued and may still, to this day, in some form, follow those meditation and therapeutic practices.

How many local groups have continued for these 30+ years and how they managed interests me.

It’s really sad, to me, that the purer motivations, missions and plans of the committed, dedicated members of this community were hijacked and destroyed by the powerful and pathological leaders in the group. The conflicts created by them with the town were not inevitable, since I know of several Buddhist communities who came and co-existed peacefully, even as they grew, with small towns in Oregon, California and Washington during and after this same time period.

In my view, and I think in the view of the filmmakers, this intense, creative, innovative and very spiritual community DID become a dangerous cult, but it did not start out that way and it didn’t have to become that. This transformation was very sad for all involved and affected.

Best to you all.


For further reading, learning, discussing:

{NOTE: I haven’t read these books so I can’t comment on or recommend them. For more info, you can find many other summaries and references via Google, Wikipedia, etc.]

Charisma and Control in Rajneeshpuram: A Community Without Shared Values
by Lewis F. Carter
His blurb for the book, on Goodreads (link, below):

The Rajneeshpuram religious community established in Oregon attracted national attention when the group leaders were arrested and subsequently deported. The spiritual leader of the internationally based sannyasin religious group, guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, founded Rajneeshpuram as a model of sannyasin community formation. The sannyasin deny the legitimacy of all human institutions, accepting neither any general code of conduct nor any shared system of beliefs. This book is a narrative account of the controversial methods of group formation and control practiced by the sannyasin and of the events that resulted in the violence between the settlement and the surrounding community that led to the group’s dissolution. Based on first-hand observation and interviews, the book describes the conditions of life in the settlement and the causes of conflicts both within the community and with outsiders. The author argues that the sannyasin method of group control, relying on confrontation among members, the threat of banishment, and charismatic authority, restricted the sannyasin in resolving conflicts with outsiders for whom these methods of control were ineffectual. The first treatment of the subject informed by sociological scholarship, this study provides unique insight into the importance of shared values in regulating group processes and relationships with other groups.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8625715-charisma-and-control-in-rajneeshpuram

The Rajneesh Chronicles: The True Story of the Cult that Unleashed the First Act of Bioterrorism on U.S. Soil, by Win McCormack
https://www.amazon.com/Rajneesh-Chronicles-Story-Unleashed-Bioterrorism/dp/098256919X
The book’s blurb:

The Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and his followers were involved in nefarious activities including prostitution, drug smuggling, sexual abuse of children, and murder conspiracy. The Rajneesh Chronicles explains this behavior–and why the cult that committed the first act of bioterrorism in the U.S. was trying to cultivate a live AIDS virus.

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, widely known as the “sex guru,” fled India in 1981 and came to settle on a ranch in central Oregon, where he and his followers established the illegal city of Rajneeshpuram. In their effort to preserve the city, the Rajneeshees attempted during the 1984 election to take control of the Wasco County government by poisoning two county commissioners and over 700 potential voters in The Dalles, the county seat, with salmonella―the first act of bio-terrorism in U.S. history. Armed to the teeth with semiautomatic weapons, they threatened to defend the city to the death against any governmental intrusion, and hatched a plot to assassinate a U.S attorney. When the commune finally imploded and authorities arrived on the scene, they discovered that the Rajneesh nurse who had cultivated salmonella bacteria in the commune’s biological warfare laboratory was also trying to cultivate a live AIDS virus―–which deranged group leaders clearly hoped to unleash on the rest on the world.

The Rajneesh Chronicles is a collection of in-depth investigative and analytical articles published in Oregon Magazine covering the entire period from the time of the cult’s arrival in Oregon in mid-1981 to its dramatic disintegration at the end of 1985 (with an introductory chronology that extends the story up to the present). While most press treated the cult’s antics as a humorous sideshow typified by the Bhagwan’s dozens of Rolls-Royces, editor in chief Win McCormack and other of the magazine’s writers systematically exposed the full range of the Rajneeshees’ depraved behavior, including their involvement in prostitution and international drug smuggling, sexual exploitation of children, abuse of homeless people they imported into Rajneeshpuram to register as voters, and the use of brainwashing techniques bordering on torture. The tale of the Rajneesh has become an amorphous legend few inside or outside of Oregon actually understand. The Rajneesh Chronicles fully illuminates the shocking reality behind that legend.

[Books on Amazon written by other followers and journalists are listed below these titles.]

Don’t Kill Him!: The Story Of My Life With Bhagwan Rajneesh Paperback: A Memoir By Ma Anand Sheela, 2013
https://www.amazon.com/DonT-Kill-Him-Bhagwan-Rajneesh/dp/8172344449
Her book’s blurb:

As His personal secretary between 1981 and 1985, and the second-in-command of His organization, Ma Anand Sheela enjoyed an enviably close relationship with Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. Bhagwan called upon her when He wanted to discuss personal issues, crucial administrative matters, run minor errands, and to even place an order for a new Rolls-Royce. Ma Sheela was His confidante, His closest aide, the person He trusted more than anyone else. She ruled the entire commune under His guidance… until differences crept up. What followed next, soon became part of Bhagwan‘s infamous history, as after years of loyal service, Ma Sheela resigned from her position, left the commune, and fled to Europe with fellow members. An infuriated Rajneesh wasted no time in accusing her of planning a bio-terror attack, conspiring to murder important public officials, and running away with fifty-five million dollars. Ma Sheela pled guilty to some of the charges in court and spent thirty-nine months in prison. Now, almost two decades later, Ma Sheela, still in love with Bhagwan and His teachings, finally tells her side of the story, claiming that the truth was very different, and sheds light on that part of Bhagwan‘s life which has so far been shrouded in a cover of secrecy and darkness.

—Many books written by Rajneesh himself are also still available online and in libraries.


Cult or Not a Cult?

from https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2014/06/the-seven-signs-youre-in-a-cult/361400/, we have this: “Several years ago, the founder of IHOP [International House of Prayer], Mike Bickle, created a list of seven ways to recognize the difference between a religious community and a cult. Written down, the signs seem clear.” (see below)

7 Ways to Recognize a Cult:
1. Opposing critical thinking
2. Isolating members and penalizing them for leaving
3. Emphasizing special doctrines outside scripture
4. Seeking inappropriate loyalty to their leaders
5. Dishonoring the family unit
6. Crossing Biblical boundaries of behavior (versus sexual purity and personal ownership)
7. Separation from the Church

from https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/religion/2016/09/15/what-makes-cult-cult/90377532/, we have: “What is a cult? A cult is a group or movement held together by a shared commitment to a charismatic leader or ideology. It has a belief system that has the answers to all of life’s questions and offers a special solution to be gained only by following the leader’s rules. It requires a high level of commitment from at least some of the members.”

4 dimensions to a cultic group:
1) Charismatic leader
2) Transcendent belief system
3) Systems of control
4) Systems of influence

from http://andynaselli.com/sociological-characteristics-of-cults we have: “Sadly, some Christian groups share these characteristics to some degree.”

6 Sociological Signs of a Cult:
1) Authoritarian Leadership
2) Exclusivism
3) Isolationism
4) Opposition to Independent Thinking
5) Fear of Being “Disfellowshiped”
6) Threats of Satanic Attack

from http://www.csj.org/infoserv_cult101/checklis.htm, we have: “This checklist [has been] published in the [new] book, Take Back Your Life: Recovering from Cults and Abusive Relationships, by Janja Lalich and Madeleine Tobias (Berkeley: Bay Tree Publishing, 2006). It was adapted from a checklist originally developed by Michael Langone.”

Checklist of Cultic Characteristics includes:
1) The group displays excessively zealous and unquestioning commitment to its leader and (whether he is alive or dead) regards his belief system, ideology, and practices as the Truth, as law.
2) Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished.
3) Mind-altering practices (such as meditation, chanting, speaking in tongues, denunciation sessions, and debilitating work routines) are used in excess and serve to suppress doubts about the group and its leader(s).
4) The leadership dictates, sometimes in great detail, how members should think, act, and feel (for example, members must get permission to date, change jobs, marry�or leaders prescribe what types of clothes to wear, where to live, whether or not to have children, how to discipline children, and so forth).
5) The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leader(s) and members (for example, the leader is considered the Messiah, a special being, an avatar�or the group and/or the leader is on a special mission to save humanity).
6) The group has a polarized us-versus-them mentality, which may cause conflict with the wider society.
7) The leader is not accountable to any authorities (unlike, for example, teachers, military commanders or ministers, priests, monks, and rabbis of mainstream religious denominations).
8) The group teaches or implies that its supposedly exalted ends justify whatever means it deems necessary. This may result in members’ participating in behaviors or activities they would have considered reprehensible or unethical before joining the group (for example, lying to family or friends, or collecting money for bogus charities).
9) The leadership induces feelings of shame and/or guilt iin order to influence and/or control members. Often, this is done through peer pressure and subtle forms of persuasion.
10) Subservience to the leader or group requires members to cut ties with family and friends, and radically alter the personal goals and activities they had before joining the group.
11) The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members.
12) The group is preoccupied with making money.
13) Members are expected to devote inordinate amounts of time to the group and group-related activities.
14) Members are encouraged or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members.
15) The most loyal members (the �true believers�) feel there can be no life outside the context of the group. They believe there is no other way to be, and often fear reprisals to themselves or others if they leave (or even consider leaving) the group.

from https://aeon.co/essays/theres-no-sharp-distinction-between-cult-and-regular-religion, we have: “Often (just as with pornography), what we choose to see as a cult tells us as much about ourselves as about what we’re looking at….Groups that have approved, ‘orthodox’ beliefs are considered legitimate, while groups whose interpretation of a sacred text differs from established norms are delegitimised on that basis alone. Such definitions also depend on who is doing the defining.”
and
“There might not be Satanists lurking round every corner, lying in wait to kidnap children or sacrifice bunny rabbits to Satan, but the dangers of spiritual, emotional and sexual abuse in small-scale, unsupervised religious communities, particularly those isolated from the mainstream or dominant culture, is real enough.”
and
“Of course, the uncomfortable truth here is that even true church (large, established, tradition-claiming church) and cult aren’t so far apart – at least when it comes to counting up red flags. The presence of a charismatic leader? What was John Calvin? (Heck, what was Jesus Christ?) A tradition of secrecy around specialised texts or practices divulged only to select initiates? Just look at the practitioners of the Eleusinian mysteries in Ancient Greece, or contemporary mystics in a variety of spiritual traditions, from the Jewish Kabbalah to the Vajrayāna Buddhist tradition [happens to be mine]. Isolated living on a compound? Consider contemporary convents or monasteries. A financial obligation? Christianity, Judaism and Islam all promote regular tithing back into the religious community. A toxic relationship of abuse between spiritual leaders and their flock? The instances are too numerous and obvious to list.”
and
“…no amount of commonsense reasoning can amount to a legitimate deterrent [to a member of a cult]: the ultimate cosmic meaningfulness of one’s actions transcends any other potential need. And to be in a community of people who can help reinforce that truth, whose rituals and discourse and symbols help not only to strengthen a sense of meaningfulness but also to ground it in a sense of collective purpose, then that meaningfulness becomes more vital still: it sits at the core of what it is to be human.”
and, finally
“Cults don’t come out of nowhere; they fill a vacuum, for individuals and, as we’ve seen, for society at large.”

“I didn’t want to marry him; I wanted to BE him!” What attracts us to others?

“I didn’t want to marry him; I wanted to BE him!”

The above statement was yelled by a major character in the Jessica Jones series, Trish (played wonderfully by Rachael Taylor), when asked by Jessica (played amazingly by Krysten Ritter) why Trish hadn’t said “yes” to her lover’s very public, romantic, planned-out, catered marriage proposal. It certainly was appropriate, as explanations go, since Trish’s aspirations were to transition from being a radio talk show personality into becoming a serious journalist (which her erstwhile fiance already was).

Interestingly, this sentiment also gave me pause, personally and as a writer. That contemplation urther inspired me to pose the following questions, to myself and to you all:

What causes us to fail in relationships?

What attracts us to others?

Could what attracts us and what dooms us be the same?


image from: https://everydayfeminism.com/2016/01/dealing-with-unrequited-love/

Are YOU attracted to people who have qualities you wish YOU possessed, in an unconscious attempt to acquire those qualities for yourself? This can apply to people you are cultivating as friends, people you work with or for, and/or people you are considering as lovers.

These types of feelings of attraction could have elements of:
—admiration (personal)
—respect (professional)
—envy (wanting what they have but not wishing they would lose it)
—jealousy (wanting what they have and wanting to take it from them, believing they do not deserve to have it as much as you do)
—intimidation (feeling inferior or afraid)
—possessiveness (showing off your connection to this person, “owning” their time or status as yours)
—sexual lust (perhaps believing your becoming lovers gives you power over this person)
—status hunger (wanting to improve your own and/or share theirs)
—aspirations for greatness (believing being closer to this person elevates you)
—desire for more intimacy (see above)
—wishes for shared glory (believing stardom “rubs off”)
—bids for approval (parentifying this person, to some degree)
and many more complications to simple attraction, most of which are based in our own insecurities.


image from https://theotherhubby.com/2015/08/28/insecurity-relationships/ INSECURITY

A list of the usual qualities that could be aspects of that person which you believe that you lack and they already have include:

—components of physical appearance/style
—personality traits, especially charisma/star quality
—social or professional status
—employment/work situation
—education/training/skills
—property/finances
—talents
—fame/celebrity
—community respect or position
—family or other relationships
or, any other accomplishments/circumstances

The next question: How well does it work to hook up with, become friends or lovers with, even commit to, someone in order to gain one or more of the above for oneself?

Speaking for my own experiences, this quest doesn’t work at all, or not for very long.

When people have attempted to do that with me, it was like the situation described, but in reverse: they wanted what I already seemed to possess. At first, they admired me, liked me, complimented me, wanted to “show me off” to others. However, inevitably, they grew to resent me. They seemed to feel increasingly jealous of me. They ascribed negative motivations to me, believing I was patronizing or condescending to them (even though I was not feeling or thinking in those ways at all). Usually, we ended with their being intimidated by me or afraid of my view of them to the point of ruining our relationship.

I had one intimate friend beg me: “Stop looking at me with those eyes!”
I protested, perplexed: “These are the only eyes I have!”
Turned out, he was unable to cope with my seeing him as clearly as I did. Apparently, his self-esteem was so low that the ways I reflected him were unbearable to him. His fears and self-loathing are what destroyed our friendship.

“Comparison kills joy”
image from: http://international-relations-cliches.blogspot.com/2014/02/there-is-icky-us-car-commercial-that-is.html

When I have been attracted to someone’s “star quality,” wishing I could be more like them in their profession, have their talent, or enjoy their status, I would initially be so happy to become their friend or lover. But, as we grew closer, it became clear that I did not gain what I had hoped to gain. Our relationship never availed me of their circumstances.

I often would make myself indispensable to them, hoping to maintain our connection. This tactic often worked, as long as I could tolerate the unrequited nature of my love and they could appreciate my contributions to their life/work.

While I did enjoy getting to know each of them better and usually felt special for having been chosen to be closer to them, for however long it lasted (usually, not long), I was not as positively changed as I had wished to be; certainly, I was not turned “into” them by our intimacy.

Luckily, I am not the jealous or envious type to the point of losing my own self-regard to those feelings. So, often, we would become good friends or lovers and enjoy each other’s company, IF they could tolerate my fawning over them…. If not, we parted.

When we could work all this out, we continued in some capacity as companions, sometimes becoming life-long friends (you know who you are!). I continue to admire them; they seem not to be bothered by my adulation. I suppose they have their own reasons for enjoying me, for which I am grateful.


What’s your story?
Comment here, please! http://www.sallyember.com/blog

What are our “roads not taken”? In some other timelines, we take them!

What are our “roads not taken”? In some other timelines, we take them!

“Everything that can happen IS happening,” in the simultaneous times of NOW in our multiverses’ alternate timelines. (Great video/book citation, here, from particle physicist and author, Brian Cox, Ph.D.: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/scienceshow/the-quantum-universe/4376486 .)

What other lives are you living, particularly in your work/professional sectors?
What if…?


CHOICE POINTS image from http://bigpicturequestions.com/what-is-linear-time-vs-nonlinear-time/

For more about this and other aspects of the lived multiverse in a fictional context, please pick up my ebooks or paperbacks in the utopian science-fiction/romances for adults/NA/YA in The Spanners Series; links, blurbs, trailers, covers, more for the first three Volumes {Volume I, This Changes Everything, is permafree in ebook format} are here: http://www.sallyember.com/Spanners

My current and alternate timelines’ professions/work activities:
(I have worked as/in most of these, but not to the extent of having any be the focus of my entire life. My Curriculum Vitae [professional rèsumè] is over 5 pages long!)

How would my life have been different had I worked in/stayed longer in any one of these?

—recreation leader
—field hockey coach
—girls’ softball coach
—cheerleading coach
—camp counselor/camp director
—WSI [Water Safety Instructor]/waterfront director/lifeguard trainer/supervisor/swimming teacher
—canoeing instructor
—umpire (home plate and base), adult softball leagues
—classroom teacher (elementary, middle or high school) through retirement
—college professor (writing, teacher education) through tenure and retirement/Emerita status
—preschool teacher through retirement
—adult/community education instructor through retirement
—mother of more than one (birthing, fostering, adopting, step-parenting)
—world traveler
—princess/queen


cast of Crystal Dreams, a play I wrote, directed and narrated
1984, Keene, New Hampshire

[I am second from the left, as “The Woman from the Well of Memories.”]

—political leader (elected, appointed)
—community/political organizer
—union representative/organizer
—psychic consultant (for individuals, police, organizations)
—spiritual teacher/leader/group member
—Buddhist nun
—meditation teacher
—research scientist
—medical doctor
—medical clairvoyant diagnostician
—psychotherapist
—bookkeeper/data processor/entry clerk
—multilingual translator (Spanish, Italian)
—nonprofit manager
—nonprofit event planner/cook


cast of Rainbow Over the Junkyard, a play I starred in, co-wrote songs for and accompanied, conceived and directed by Mario Cossa
1983, Keene, New Hampshire

[I am in the back row, second from the left, as “Megan Andrews” and the color, orange.]

—actor/director
—article & news writer/freelance reporter
—editor/proofreader
—playwright (dramas/musicals)
—poet/lyricist/parody writer
—singer/songwriter
—film/theatre/TV critic
—theatre teacher/director (dramas/musicals)
—musician (pianist)
—piano teacher/music teacher (beginners/children)
—storyteller/performer


I am reading from This Changes Everything, Volume I of The Spanners Series
2013, Fremont Writers’ Group, BookSmart, Newport Mall, California


What about yours?

Sexual Predators or Impatient Young Adults?: What to do with Adults who Date Teens?

Sexual Predators or Impatient Young Adults?: What to do with Adults who Date Teens?

And, what to do with “violators” when mores, laws, policies, attitudes and values change but behaviors are slower to “catch up”? How do we judge others when the context changes before the people do? What we have here is a conflict between Absolute and Relative Values, right?


from http://slideplayer.com/slide/1647742/

I ask for myself (see below), many men and some women caught up in the #MeToo explosion of accusations and reports, and a former student of mine (see below).

I welcome your considered opinions, but PLEASE don’t waste my time (and I will delete your comments) with diatribes or accusations of your own. I also am NOT inviting your stories of being victimized or being a perpetrator/violator. I am ONLY accepting and asking for actual suggestions on ways to handle these difficult categories of behavior during tough transitions in cultural norms.

Sexism/double-standards, ageism, and changing standards of what is legal and what is proper all enter into these stories.

Trying to decriminalize teen sexual activity is one thing; protecting teens from “adults” who prey upon teens who are only a few years older than they are is another. How much of an age difference is “too much,” and when does that change? Can one partner be 20 and the other 30? What about 23 and 53? What about 14 and 34? 60 and 30?

Does the gender of either partner matter? Why or why not?

Isn’t the policing of teens’ sexual activity mostly about prevention of teen pregnancy, which is really about policing teen GIRLS?

What about international age of consent differences? Regional USA age of consent differences?

Are people that different in maturity or their ability to give consent or “deserve” to be prosecuted merely by living in another location?

You see some of these thorny issues?


When I was teaching adults in the Brattleboro, Vermont, Corrections education program for parolees and probationers during the 1990s, I encountered a student whose crimes were difficult to understand. At first, I was disgusted, having only heard that he had been convicted and was now on parole for “L & L with a minor,” which means he had been caught having some kind of sex (Lewd and Lascivious behavior) but not intercourse (so not “statutory rape”), with an underage (at that time, under 16) girl in his rural area. When I met “Jack,” he was almost 40. I learned that he had committed this “crime” at age 34, when his girlfriend/fiance was 14. Sounds shocking, right?

So, I asked him, in the third or fourth class, once we had established a kind of rapport, what had happened? This is his story (paraphrased).

Jack lived in an area of Vermont that his family and neighbors had inhabited for many decades, perhaps over 150 years. According to tradition, males in that area dated and married “late,” which meant that boys and girls hung out in groups and went to dances or parties until well over 25-30 years old, with teens and peers in their 20s and 30s all mixing together at these events. Eventually, each male was expected to find a girl (yes, GIRL) of about 13 – 16 to get engaged to and marry, usually by the age of 35.

Generation after generation, this “May-December” arrangement had been their way. All were fine with it, supposedly, until the laws changed around them and no one had told Jack. Doing what everyone around him and before him had “always done” now landed him in jail for “L & L with a minor.”

What had he actually done? He said they had “made-out in my pick-up truck after every party and dance,” since they were engaged and that was what everyone did. No one who respected their ways and their partners went “all the way” until after the wedding. Jack and his teen sweetie had been adhering to that restriction with great discipline and pride, but a jealous girl who wanted Jack for her own AND who had paid attention to the changing laws had called the police and gotten him caught, arrested, jailed. Jack’s parents, his girlfriend’s parents and community members were outraged and spoke on his behalf, but “the law was the law” and that was that. He spent five years (!?!) in jail/prison, and had just gotten out when I first met him.

Jack’s story appalled and saddened me, and made me rethink my own prejudices and biases a lot. This all also had reminded me of one of my own stories, which was not all that different, in many ways, but had taken a very different turn, decades later.


When I was almost 24, I met an almost-16-year-old boy who was the son of a neighbor. Said neighbor, about 38 herself, was a long-time friend of the man I was newly dating/living with, who was then almost 34.

If you do the math, here, you’ll see that there was more of an age difference between me and MY partner (10 years) than there was between me and this teen boy (8 years), whom I’ll call “Alan.” If we had waited to be sexual 2 more years, no one would have looked twice at us, particularly if I had been the male and Alan had been the female.

My primary partner and I had agreed to have an “open” relationship (it was 1978) with regular communication and many opportunities to be with others that we optioned (temporarily, usually) while together as “primaries.” This agreement predated my meeting Alan by many months, but meant my considering having other sexual partners was not unusual at that time.

I lived near Alan for about 6 months; for the last three months or so, he periodically came on to me, begging me to have sex with him. At first, I had laughed; I told him “no” many times. As a middle-school teacher in the years prior to that, I told him, I had students his age. It felt too weird, I told him, and I just couldn’t manage to feel good about our age gap. He kept point to me and my primary and calling me a hypocrite, and I couldn’t totally disagree with that assessment.

As we continued to spend time together: we hung out, smoked pot (his), attended neighborhood birthday parties and other events with others and became friends, of a sort: we talked, sharing books we had read; I let him use my 1967 VW Bug to learn to drive a stick shift for his driver’s license; we took beach walks.

In early August, after Alan’s repeated requests for sex for weeks and our having gotten to know each other better, I relented. I told him that we could make out a little but nothing further. Plus, we could only do that after he turned 16 and I turned 24 (later that month).

I reminded him that my partner and I were moving out of state in September or October. He told me that was fine with him, since he was going to go to an elite boarding school that fall for his junior and senior years, also out of state. It all felt very casual and short-term to us both, I thought.

With a sense of “summer romance” cast over our time together and an impending separation, after both of our birthdays we had a few “make-out” sessions, but never intercourse, as agreed. Our sexual encounters were brief, seemingly fun, and mostly involved smoking pot (again, his) and talking.

That fall, we parted ways for our northerly moves.

Turned out that his boarding school was only a thirty minutes’ drive from where we moved, so we got in touch later that fall. I visited him once at his new campus. I saw his dorm room, took him off campus for dinner (a rare treat for a boarder and much-appreciated), brought him back. No sex nor a hint of it, just friendship.

My partner and I moved further north soon after that. Alan and I drifted apart, as people at different stages in their lives do. My partner and I intentionally became parents about a year later and moved in with several others to live in community for many years. I assumed Alan had graduated high school, had gone on to college and had had his own life. I was correct: my partner had kept in touch with Alan’s mother over the years and would update me.

A few years ago, when we were both in our 50s, I received a PR notice about a film and a book she thought I’d like, by another friend who didn’t know I had known Alan. Alan had become somewhat famous: he had written/published one book, and a documentary of his book and life had been produced. The film was available online, so I then watched it. After viewing it and reading some reviews of his book, I visited his website. I got his email address from that and wrote to congratulate him.

To my shock, I received an angry email from Alan. He claimed in his message that I had “sexually abused” him when he had been 14. He said that it had taken him “years to get over it.” He was indignant that I would “get back in touch as if everything were fine between us.” He said that I “should have been arrested.” He demanded that I never contact him again.

I was flabbergasted.

I reviewed my memories and considered how to respond. Then, I emailed Alan back. I told him that I was very sorry that he felt that way and that he was so upset with me, but that he had gotten the facts wrong.

I then informed him/reminded him of these facts:
—First, I hadn’t even known Alan when he had been 14. I had met him in the winter of 1978, when he had been 15 1/2. I had only lived near him for those 6 months, until just after his 16th birthday.
—Second, while I realized that many laws and attitudes had changed since 1978, at that time it had not been all that unusual and had certainly not been illegal or abusive for us to have had sexual contact.
—Third, we had been a part of a larger community that had multigenerational skinny dipping, nude-optional Finnish-style saunas and pot lucks afterwards, and many other events that put teens and young adults together socially.
—Next, he had pursued me.
—Finally, even though he had not been “the adult,” I had not been that much older than he had been at that time and I certainly did not prey upon him (or anyone else).

I also admitted that perhaps I had not used the best judgment in agreeing to be sexual with him a few times, but he had been persistent and I, too, was a survivor of sexual abuse and didn’t have a lot of clarity at that age. I apologized, again, for any pain I may have caused him.

I sympathized, I told him, because of my own history, and I had no doubt that something abusive and inappropriate must have happened to him when had been 14 or even younger, but that the perpetrator was not I. Somehow, he had conflated the two situations and people.

I ended by honoring his wishes: I agreed not to contact him further and I wished him well.

He wrote back that I was forbidden ever to contact him again, but he did not respond directly to my corrections or apologies.

I have not contacted him since then (this was about five years ago).

Having remembered and had extensive therapy for all the sexual attacks, harassment, assaults and other problems I have actually endured/suffered in my life, I now wonder: What should I have done differently when Alan emailed me those accusations? Should I have merely apologized and slunk away? Was it wrong or irrelevant for me to have corrected his “facts”?

Can someone retroactively be considered a sexual predator or to have broken a law that did not yet exist when the actions occurred?

What about intentionality? Mutuality?

Some say an older teen (15-17 years old) cannot “give consent” because only adults (18+ years old) can give informed consent. BUT many states allow older teens to have adult privileges: teens ages 14 – 17 can (or could, until recently) get married (some without parental/guardian permission), leave high school, attend college, become legally emancipated and otherwise function as adults.

As someone who knows how sexual abuse and memories can become distorted in one’s mind over time, I do believe that Alan had been abused by someone when he was around 14 (or, perhaps, even younger). I am sad for him, but I do not feel guilty about what we did nor did I cause him that trauma.

I feel some regret. I especially felt remorse once I knew (decades later) that he probably had pursued having sex with me because of his having been abused two years or more prior to having known me; confusion and sexual acting out occur a lot in abuse survivors.

But, I did not feel at the time nor do I feel now that I was a “sexual predator” who “abused” Alan at age 16 when I was 24. I also do not think Jack should have been jailed for having sex with his fiance when he was 34 and she was 14, but that age difference is a harder one to accept, still.


What do we do, how do we talk to and treat, these men and women accused in #MeToo? Some of these “perpetrators” are of a different generation, familial or corporate culture, one in which those behaviors, attitudes, values and choices used to fit but do not now find acceptance into current cultural norms. Some of them are even guilty now of breaking laws, but some of those behaviors were “de rigueur” for dozens of years prior to that.

I am NOT excusing rape, child sexual exploitation and/or sexual assault, drugging or forcing a sexual partner (especially one who can’t fight back, is unconscious, is intoxicated). I reject anyone’s engaging in coercing, threatening or exhibitionism that constitutes uninvited and unwelcomed sexual activity, regardless of anyone’s cultural norms. I also do not accept cat-calls, lewd gestures or other sexual “claims” or threats, especially when perpetrated on strangers or one’s students, step-children or employees.

But, what about the “grey areas” of confusion, getting caught in between major changes, meaning no harm but now being found guilty of harm?

What do you think?

Comments appreciated. https://wp.me/p2bP0n-24E or http://www.sallyember.com/blog

#Sexual Coercion/Force vs. Sexual/Peer Pressure: #Assault or Regret?

#Sexual Coercion/Force vs. Sexual/Peer Pressure: #Assault or Regret?

With all the reports pinging us daily—almost hourly—from women and men who report having been sexually assaulted, intimidated, forced/coerced, raped, tormented and otherwise abused by those in power, and with my own personal and professional experiences to add to #metoo, I am a great proponent of #timesup and have posted about my excitement about this cultural change before this.

LINKS HERE to previous posts:
#metoo AND #justyournumber and #wherewhatwhowhen from October, 2017
https://sallyember.com/2017/10/16/justyournumber-and-wherewhatwhowhen/
and
REPOSTING: TEN Ways to Encourage #Victims of Any Age to #Report #Sexual and Other #Abuse, from December, 2017, and 2014 (original post)
https://sallyember.com/2017/12/07/ten-ways-to-encourage-victims-of-any-age-to-report-sexual-and-other-abuse/

HOWEVER, there are some cases in which an adult was NOT forced, not raped, not assaulted, but somehow felt pressured during or regret/remorse after a sexual encounter. Unfortunately, this person had apparently not verbally or physically clearly communicated to said partner their desire for the sexual activity to stop.

Those types of experiences are unpleasant for the person who felt less-than-good after the sexual encounter. However, these occurrences are NOT criminal or ethical violations of any kind and MUST NOT BE REPORTED as such.

I can’t emphasize enough how sympathetic and compassionate I am and hope others are for those who feel regret after having a sexual encounter. I certainly have had experiences like that, myself. BUT, it is unfair, illegal and inappropriate to blame, accuse or report to legal authorities that an incident was a sexual assault when it was not.

—Yes, we can, as adults (especially when younger, less powerful, beholden to the partner), feel intimidated and enter into sexual activity against our own preferences or better judgment.
—Yes, we, as adults, can and do feel or have been silenced by our own conditioning, wishes, emotions, family or trauma histories, into “going along” with someone else’s sexual lead.
—Yes, we, as adults, may frequently feel helpless, overwhelmed, unable to say “no” to sexual activity, particularly when we have been ambivalent about being sexual at that time with that person.
—We may repeatedly have gotten ourselves into sexual situations that we then regret but we were unwilling to leave or say “stop.”

BUT, the above situations (and their aftermaths) ARE NOT OUR PARTNERS’ FAULTS.

Who is responsible for the way we feel after being sexual with someone?

Ask yourself:

  • Was I clear?
  • Was I audible?
  • Was I putting into action what I said after I said “NO”? That is, did I leave, call for help, fight, yell? Unless we are being threatened with harm, these follow-ups are always options that should be utilized to enforce a “no” statement.
  • Was any force involved?
  • Was I threatened in any way?
  • Does this person have power over me, my job, my grade, my status, and therefore, made me feel forced to comply?

We can see which of these puts the responsibility onto us and which onto the other person. It should be obvious which are actually assault and which are not.

Here are some ways NOT to say “NO”: behaviors and statements that do not communicate “NO” clearly: and should not, by themselves, be expected to get our partners to stop or to know that we want to stop sexual contact or activity.

  1. Saying: “I’m pretty tired…” or “I’ve got to go…” and nothing else, then NOT LEAVING.
  2. Pushing our partners away but not getting up to leave when we physically can.
  3. Saying: “I don’t really want to…” but not getting up to leave when we physically can and not saying “NO, I don’t want to do that!” forcefully and clearly.
  4. Laughing when we say “Stop!” or “No!” or “Come on!” and only half-heartedly protesting (spaghetti-arms pushing instead of iron-arms pushing and punching, when necessary)—THESE are what make people think “NO” doesn’t mean “NO.”
  5. Crying but not saying anything, even when asked “Why are you crying?” Some people cry during orgasm, cry when in love and/or happy, cry when frustrated or otherwise upset but not objecting to sex. Clarify verbally and clearly WHY we are upset.
  6. Moving things along: Helping our partners take off our own or taking off our partner’s clothes, putting our partner’s hands on our body, kissing our partners and acting as if we like having sexual contact. These do NOT communicate “NO,” regardless of how little we actually enjoy(ed) the sexual contact.
  7. Telling our partners “I’m scared,” but not saying “I want to STOP… [sexual activity] RIGHT NOW!”
  8. Pretending we’re (or actually)
    —a) having our periods
    —b) saying that we are not feeling well
    —c) indicating that we have to leave early
    —d) showing that we have to take this call, etc.

    Any of these COULD stop sex, but may not, especially when we are NOT LEAVING when we physically can and have not said “NO” or “STOP!”

When we have not been clear with our partners, we cannot blame our partners for our dissatisfaction, unhappiness, regret or anger afterwards.


from http://whisper.sh/whisper/0519fe273aee4c114380778ad9cb73d2849864/Sexual-regret-is-not-rape-Anyone-that-makes-that-claim-should-be-prose

We HAVE TO communicate clearly and verbally when we do not want to be sexual at a particular time. Even once sex starts or even if we have had sex with this person before, we have every right to stop sexual activity, any time, anywhere. BUT, there is no way for our partner to be certain that they should stop if we do not SAY “STOP.”

I am very disturbed by this dilemma. I have heard reports from people I love, admire, respect and trust (and I do not trust many people, believe me!) who have told me that they have been falsely accused of sexual misconduct. I BELIEVE THEM (even though my first instinct is to believe those who claim to have been mistreated) because they tell me there was no communication that let them know that their partner was unhappy or wanted to stop the sexual encounter at the time.

We are complicated beings. We often have “buyer’s remorse” or we feel “morning after” regret after we have been sexual with someone. However, FEELINGS are not FACTS. Just because you felt pressured does not mean that you were forced.

Once we have our clearer-sighted review of our actions and the accompanying feelings, we could feel terribly sad or bad about having been sexual with that person. BUT, these feelings do not become actual reasons for us to accuse our sexual partners—quite unfairly and illegally—of having assaulted us. WE HAVE TO STOP DOING THAT.

Everyone who abdicates our own responsibility and falsely accuses someone of sexual assault puts all legitimate reports of sexual assault at risk of being disbelieved.


from http://whisper.sh/whisper/04f9efff45ae1599221816c2357ed4ad95bef/Were-you-forced-into-sexsexual-acts–Then-yesDo-you-regret-sleeping

If we decide to be sexual with someone and later regret it, or, even in the moment, feel ambivalent but continue, anyway, we have no one to blame but yourselves. We need to get some therapy, some personal support, not an attorney.

FREE ADVICE:

GET CONSENT! If the person you are wanting to be sexual with is a minor (not a legal adult), or is not in their right mind, or is passed out or asleep or otherwise unable to give consent, DO NOT HAVE SEX. Simple.

Stop being sexual if you are drunk, on drugs, too tired or somehow unable to advocate for yourself.

Be celibate until you can be responsible. THAT is a decision you will not regret.

2 personal and 3 national/global feasible #goals and some optimistic personal and national/global goals to reach by 1/1/18 or during 2018

2 personal and 3 national/global feasible #goals and some optimistic personal and national/global goals to reach by 1/1/18 or during 2018

My two personal #feasiblegoals to reach by 1/1/18:
ART: to have completed 365 #coloring pages for 2017 (I am at 354 for 12/16/17; began 1/1/17);
HEALTH: to have attained a body weight of and remain in “onederland” (I am 2 pounds away from that goal, 12/15/17), which represents a weight loss of at least 50# since April, 2017.


Prediction of environmental trends. Scenarios. Goals.
SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time.
Resources. Feasible but stretching.
Actions. Specific, clear, integrated, fit with goals.
Changes: flexible and creative.


from FOUNDATION OF PLANNING, by Shannon Cain, http://slideplayer.com/slide/5299846/

National/Global #feasiblegoals for 2018:
— for the USA Congress to defeat the outrageous “tax cut” bill
— for the USA Congress repeal/outvote the ridiculous, greedy FCC vote so that we can maintain Net Neutrality
— for Special Counsel Robert Mueller to have definitely demonstrated the complicity/treason and guilt of Trump and his sons, Kushner, and VP Pence, signing their subpoenas and guaranteeing their removals, paving the way for a special election in 2018

National/Global #optimisticgoals for 2018:


from davidjrogersftw

world peace/ending/preventing all wars and violent military actions, especially those with USA involvement
— an end to hunger and poverty around the world
— talks about a guaranteed personal annual income to have started in the USA
— cancellation of all student college debt and removal of all those who hold and offer such predatory loans
national healthcare with no limitations and no cost to/for all
— for the USA to implement compassionate addiction programs including the decriminalizing and release from incarceration for all drug and alcohol violations/violators that do/did not involve other crimes (like in Portugal), and more adequate social support and counseling provided, free


from A Green Road Journal, http://www.agreenroadjournal.com/2013/09/drug-laws-in-portugal-more-progressive.html

STOP all sexual harassers/assaulters (make sure they are all revealed, removed, incarcerated, stopped)
— all men removed from leadership/authority positions for sexual misconduct to be replaced by competent women (when possible) and non-offending men (when necessary)
housing for all, such as tiny homes, apartments, platform tents and other appropriate housing provided free to all those without secure housing around the world


from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/17/tiny-homes-madison-wiscon_n_6171634.html

freeing of all innocent and unfairly incarcerated individuals, and financial compensation provided to them for all time imprisoned and for losses (of family, jobs, reputation and mental/physical health)
STOP GREED: removal of all tax shelters, foreign bank accounts and other hoarding locations (extra housing, yachts, cars, jewelry) from all who gained their wealth illegally and immorally; release of these ill-gotten gains to pay for many of the above
— release of all “illegal” immigrants from incarceration, no more criminalizing immigration/immigrants. Granting immediate citizenship to all who seek it, unless they are known to be criminals; OPEN THE BORDERS
clean and accessible water and sufficient, healthy food for all those around the world

My personal #optimisticgoals:
WRITING: finish writing and acquire funds to cover the costs of the cover for Volume IV and make a lot of progress with Volume V of The Spanners Series

LIFE: make some more friends/have more of a social life
— do at least one 2-week Buddhist meditation retreat
earn more money! get a PT job and/or find another way to earn more money regularly, within “right livelihood” principles. Could be from editing/proofreading, selling my sci-fi books, writing coaching/tutoring, working at a nonprofit organization, teaching


from Tention Free


If you’d like to help support the attaining of my personal Goals:
please check out my PayPal donation button on my website, http://www.sallyember.com (look right);
or,
go to my Patreon #crowdfunding page: http://www.patreon.com/sallyember Some donations earn “rewards,” which are explained on my Patreon pages.


Your goals? Please comment! http://www.sallyember.com/blog

REPOSTING: TEN Ways to Encourage #Victims of Any Age to #Report #Sexual and Other #Abuse

REPOSTING, from 2014:
Because of the uproar over the continually surfacing reports of sexual assault perpetrated by [SO MANY MORE THAN] Bill Cosby on now-adult (or then-adult) women, these topics are now front-and-center in the media and, I hope, in private as well. Why do people refrain from reporting right after having been assaulted? Many reasons.

Let’s NOT give them reasons to keep silent any more!

Here are TEN Ways to Encourage #Victims of Any Age to #Report #Sexual and Other #Abuse. Learn, use them, SHARE!

ONE
Believe what they tell you until you’re sure one way or the other. This is the one situation in which the accused should be considered guilty until proven innocent, especially when children are the victims. It is hard enough to come forward with a report of an assault, especially after a long time has passed. The likelihood that this report is false is very low.

TWO
Be outraged on their behalf. Consider that this IS true and this DID happen: aren’t you incensed? This is NOT the time to be doubting or dismissive. If, in the very rare cases that it occurs, this turns out not to be an accurate report or did not happen, you have lost nothing but some time and your trust in this person.

If, however, it is TRUE—a report of assault usually is—this crime or repeated crimes occurred. If you do not respond as an advocate, you will regret it for the rest of your life. It will do irreparable harm to the victim, to you and to your relationship for you to have doubted him/her in a time of great need. If you had been in a position to prevent or protect and you did not succeed prior to this, you are especially culpable. By not believing, you will have doubly failed him/her in a way that is usually unforgivable. If you do not actively support ending the crimes against him/her by continuing to fail to protect, you may actually be liable.

In some states, knowing of assault crimes and not preventing, reporting or otherwise behaving in ways that protect future victimization makes you a criminal: you are seen as a collaborator, an accessory, by knowing what you now know and keeping silent. This makes you potentially likely to be prosecuted yourself.

THREE
Allow your protective, compassionate aspects to prevail. You may feel very intense emotions as you listen to this report of a crime that hurt this person very badly: angry, helpless, scared, worried, anxious. However, this is NOT your time to vent. It is inappropriate to behave in such a way that the attention refocuses on YOU and your “hard time.” Be there for the victim right now, even if you were somehow involved or feel guilty. Control your emotions enough so that you can vent some other time, with someone else.

NOTE: If you know the perpetrator, especially if the perpetrator is someone you are related to by family or friendship, is a workplace or school peer, is someone you live near or have to see often, protect yourself.

DO NOT CONFRONT the perpetrator by yourself unless you are sure you are safe to do so. There are authorities, support groups, other friends or family members who can accompany you or do the confronting. Let them do it.

FOUR
Ignore any past dishonesty, prevarication, or other “reasons” to doubt the reporter or the report. The “rape shield” law is there for many reasons, and this is the major one: the VICTIM’s past behaviors, character or misdeeds DO NOT MATTER here.

The only person responsible for an assault is the perpetrator. Period. No one “made” him/her do it. It doesn’t matter what the perpetrator claims were “causes,” particularly if the perpetrator tries to turn it back on the victim. “She asked for it,” “He liked it,” “We’ve been close like that plenty of times before” are all excuses and do not absolve the perpetrator from criminal charges if an assault occurred. “No” means “No.”

FIVE
Treat sexual assault, abuse of children, rape, child molestation as the CRIMES that they are. Assault is not an “accident,” a “misunderstanding,” a “joke,” a “one-time thing,” “just the way things are.” We each have the right NOT to be violated by another person. Period.

Also, DO NOT AGREE to keep this a “secret,” even if the victim begs you not to tell. Maintaining secrecy is NOT doing any favors for this victim. Really.

If the victim is a legal adult, you can discuss how, when, to whom this report should be made, and ways you can support the further reporting. However, if s/he won’t agree to tell anyone else, you should not promise to maintain this secret. The perpetrator WILL NOT STOP until s/he is forced to stop. Usually, stopping happens only when the criminal is arrested and incarcerated.

Remind him/her: potential future victims could be protected—saved—by this victim’s report because every report helps lead to subsequent arrest, prosecution and imprisonment of the perpetrator.

Reporting is empowering and liberating. Keeping the crime a secret is neither of those.

Some people who are members of religious, cultural or family groups are victimized repeatedly but group sanctions prevent reporting. YOU CAN HELP by following these guidelines and being sensitive to the extra barriers for victims in these groups.

Native American rape stats

image from a Board on Pinterest called “Anti-Rape and Feminism” http://www.pinterest.com/allysuperbee/anti-rape-and-feminism/

For more about reporting requirements when USA adult women are the victims: http://goo.gl/eT2lA2
The National Center for the Prosecution of Violence Against Women
American Prosecutors Research Institute
1-703-549-9222

For more information about male victims of violence in the USA: http://www.ncadv.org/files/MaleVictims.pdf
from The Public Policy Office of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
(NCADV)

NOTE: If you are listening to a report from a minor, a child, and you are an adult, in many states ALL adults are “mandatory reporters.” This means you MUST take notes and call or send in your notes to authorities when you hear of child victimization, even if you’re uncertain as to the veracity of the claim. You are a mandatory reporter and MUST report if you work or volunteer in certain occupations in most states. Find your county, province, parish or state’s reporting phone number or email and USE IT.

Ethically, legally, morally, you SHOULD report in order to stop crimes by this perpetrator from recurring and to protect the victim from future assaults. You must try to make sure the child is safe going forward. HOWEVER, if you are NOT a mandatory reporter, not in social services, not a family member, get some advice and support.

SIX
Keep any shame, guilt, humiliation or other baggage of yours or from his/her past OUT of this conversation. Whatever they said/did not say, wore, did/did not do, wherever they were located, however he/she conducted his/her life, THIS IS NOT THE VICTIM’s FAULT.

Rapists rape. Child molesters molest. Assaulters assault. Criminals commit crimes. Period.

Also, use the correct language: language is powerful. Calling someone a “pedophile” doesn’t even sound as bad as “child molester,” so use “child molester” or “perpetrator of sexual assault on a minor child.” Both are accurate and give appropriate weight to the crimes. “Sexual harassment” is NOT the same as “rape,” but they are both crimes. Learn what each of those circumstances includes.

“Date rape,” “acquaintance rape” or “dating violence” labels reduce the significance of the assault by positioning familiarity as the main label. Don’t downgrade the importance and don’t minimize the impact in these ways, because studies have shown that victims who knew their perpetrators suffered longer and more intensely.

Why? Because victims who knew their assaulters were not just physically assaulted, they were often emotionally terrorized prior to and after the assault, devastated by the breach of trust, intimidated and threatened by the perpetrator to prevent reporting, and forced to continue to be in the presence of the perpetrator after the assault occurred or while assaults continued.


SAAM-Pic-_1

image from http://www.reachofmaconcounty.org

SEVEN
Recognize and honor the trust this person is putting in you by revealing this information. THANK THEM for telling you. Become his/her advocate. Guide him/her to understand that secrecy only protects the perpetrator. Strongly, kindly encourage him/her to tell more people, especially police or other legal officials, even if the statute of limitations prevents arrest or prosecution.

NOTE: Almost ALL perpetrators have more than one victim, over many years. Every accusation publicly recorded helps police follow the perpetrator’s trail to a newer victim so that arrest and prosecution CAN occur.

EIGHT
Acknowledge the courage it took for them to come forward, regardless of how long it took them to do so. It doesn’t matter if the assault occurred twenty minutes or twenty years ago: right now, the violation and injury are “current” for the victim. Consider that while they are telling you about their pain, fear, sorrow, confusion, hurt, anger.

NINE
DO NOT ASK them what they were doing, “how it happened,” or any other victim-blaming questions. There will be plenty of time to get the “whole story.” While they talk, you LISTEN. When they are finished talking, help him/her decide what to do next. Speak soothingly. Hold them while they cry. Offer tissues. You are not the prosecutor. It is NOT your role to cross-examine or overly question them at this time. Be kind. Remember your relationship.

Causes of Rape

image from https://www.tumblr.com/tagged/rapists-cause-rape

TEN
Encourage them to go/go with them to a hospital if the assault happened within the last 24-48 hours. This is the critical time to collect evidence, get examined, be treated, etc. If the victim has not yet bathed or showered, convince him/her not to do that until after the forensic and medical exams. Take charge. Drive/accompany him/her.

#metoo


RESOURCES
There are many resources available to educate yourself and others with more than these ten recommendations. Here is a great one, The Pennsylvania Coaltion Against Rape (PCAR): http://www.pcar.org/blog/common-victim-behaviors-survivors-sexual-abuse

Here are some more:

USA “hotline” reporting phone numbers:

National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE

National Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-656-HOPE

National Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-4-A-CHILD

For more information and to report assault of USA women (applies to men as well): Rape and Sexual Assault Reporting Laws, from The National Center for the Prosecution of Violence Against Women (NCPVAW) http://www.ndaa.org/pdf/the_voice_vol_1_no_3_2006.pdf

and, [during the OBAMA administration, there was a report generated by the] USA White House in January, 2014, Rape and Sexual Assault: A Renewed Call to Action, for assaults against women and girls (applies to males as well): http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/sexual_assault_report_1-21-14.pdf

For more information and to understand the laws about reporting crimes against USA children/youth:
Child Help USA (for victims, offenders and parents) 800-4-A-CHILD or (800-422-4453)

Help for USA youth victims:

National Youth Crisis Home (a referral hotline for youth in crisis)

1-800-HIT- HOME (800-448-4663)

I hope this post helps you and future victims experience better receptivity, support and aid. SHARE.

REBLOGGING: A Letter to Survivors of Sexual Assault by JOHN PAVLOVITZ

REBLOGGING: A Letter to Survivors of Sexual Assault
NOVEMBER 10, 2017 / JOHN PAVLOVITZ

A beautifully written, heartfelt, supportive and sympathetic message to/for all survivors of sexual assault and related traumas.

An excerpt: “My friend, I’m sorry for both your initial injury—–and for the way the world causes you further damage when you take the risk of stepping forward, or simply as you endure our daily oblivion. You deserve far better.”
(link to full post, below)

Thanks, John.
#MeToo

https://johnpavlovitz.com/2017/11/10/letter-survivors-sexual-assault/

John’s post has a list of great resources at the end. Here is a review of yet another one, if you like to read:
THE BODY KEEPS THE SCORE by Bessel A. van der Kolk
https://whathasbeenread.wordpress.com/2017/11/10/the-body-keeps-the-score-by-bessel-a-van-der-kolk/

#metoo AND #justyournumber and #wherewhatwhowhen

REPOSTING, from about one year ago, adding the new hashtag: #metoo

It is with great sadness and anger that I have heard about (and read a few of) the disgusting responses on social media to the bringing forward of reports of the sexual predation prevalent in Hollywood, politics, academia: EVERYWHERE. These remarks have been cruelly and ignorantly denigrating and re-traumatizing sexual assault survivors.

BELIEVE US.

maxresdefault
from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDLVDzaw2vc

I noticed that whatever details a survivor provided, some creeps decide to question, argue, judge or condemn, doubting and despising her for reporting her experiences.

I call BULLSHIT.

bullshit-pile
from http://Canstockphoto.com

Is anyone unclear on this concept? Really?

sa-definition
from Human Response Network

Give them nothing to respond to except a number, I say. Then, where is the argument?

#justyournumber (mine is a countable 46, but decidedly higher) allows survivors to report our sexual assaults, molestations, public exposures, sexual coercions, rapes, and any other kinds of private or public sexual threats, to be counted. No arguing.

Then, I thought, what about locations or one or two salient facts? Let’s provide those lucky enough to have no or low numbers or anyone else who is interested with some context. We need more people to begin to grasp the breadth of the problem.

By the way, when you read my or anyone’s list, imagine trying to “report” these incidents: to whom? with what results?

#justyournumbers is now joined by #wherewhatwhowhen

46
—30+ assaults by “family friends,” teachers and family members, starting at age 5, including a step-uncle who was a teacher. This man assaulted me (at age 10) in his classroom after school while my grandmother and his father (her second husband) were talking in the hallway outside the classroom. Our 6th-grade teacher, Ken Weber (long dead), at Central School in Olivette, Missouri, molested almost every girl in my class whose breasts had begun to develop by “dropping” paper clips, chalk or pencils down the fronts of our blouses and retrieving them with his own hand. As a freshman at the University of Wisconsin/Madison, all the female students were required to strip down to our underwear and pose for “posture pictures” during our Physical Education “exam.” I later found out that these questionably obtained “soft porn” shots were circulated, sold and posted in multiple locations for many decades;

—3 assaults on a bus (2 public exposures and 1 molestation), all while in my pre-teen/teen years. One very large young adult who was one of my “campers” had Down’s Syndrome. When he molested me by trapping me in the aisle of the bus (he was 6′ tall and about 225 pounds to my 5’1″ and 120 pounds) and mashing his hands all over my breasts, the older counselor told me “he couldn’t help it” and not to yell at him, but just to “push him away and go sit down.” This was in 1972 in St. Louis, Missouri;

—2 assaults/maulings while walking in daylight in public spaces on a college campus. One was a teen on a bicycle who grabbed my breast, squeezed hard, laughed and rode away; I was in my 30s. I DID go to the “campus police” who practically laughed and didn’t even write down my report. This was at Yale University in the 1980s (I was there attending a professional conference).

—3 molestations/assaults by employers/supervisors, starting in college and continuing through my young adult years. While working in Food Service in the dorms’ cafeteria as part of my Work-Study financial aid program at the University of Wisconsin/Madison in 1972, a supervisor trapped me in the storage area, assaulted and tried to rape me. I managed to kick him in the groin and get away. I never went back to that job and had to find another one;

—3 sexual coercions involving drugs in private homes at parties, by high school peers;

—5 sexual assaults by “dates” (whom I did not date again) who grabbed/fingered me without asking before I even knew they were going to do that, starting in my early twenties and spanning into my late 50s, in cars, private homes, an outdoor party, a beach.

There were also uncountable male psychopaths, strangers who felt entitled to engage in assaults on my body via random ass-grabbing, “accidental brush-bys” and other groping and sexual attacks, including making kissing or sucking sounds, while I rode on public transportation vehicles or stood in waiting areas and hallways in various USA cities, throughout my teen and young adult years.

Some jerks repeatedly yell out horrible, horrendous street harassment comments, known unaffectionately as “cat-calls,” most accompanied by graphic gestures, pseudo-sexual sound-effects along with vulgar and completely offensive language whenever any female happens to be in sight of them by being on a sidewalk or an urban construction site’s walkway. These are also too numerous to track, occurring throughout my life until quite recently (I am now 63).

wednesday-asking-about-cat-calls
from https://dev.theodysseyonline.com/when-the-cat-calls-dont-answer

Send respect, healing, caring and compassion to all survivors and shut the disrespectful morons up completely.

Add your stories or number or both on your social media of choice: #metoo AND #justyournumber and #wherewhatwhowhen

2017 #MacArthur Fellows: 24 Creative, Genius, Unique Leaders Who Inspire

2017 #MacArthur Fellows: 24 Creative, Genius, Unique Leaders Who Inspire

Let’s celebrate extraordinary and amazing and beneficial and FUN people! I first heard about these annual awards when they were only about $200,000 and they were called “Genius Grants.” The stipend for the MacArthur Fellowship is currently set at $625,000, paid in quarterly installments over five years.

The cool thing about this award is that the group of people who nominate and select these individuals every year are ANONYMOUS and it is apparently impossible to discover their identities. This protects the process from corruption, one would hope.

Their FAQs page states: “All of the participants in the selection process—–nominators, evaluators, and selectors—–serve anonymously, and we keep their communications confidential. Anonymity protects them from being inundated with unsolicited requests. In addition, our experience shows that people readily provide frank impressions if they have an assurance that their responses will not be disseminated beyond the program staff and Selection Committee.”

I’ve heard that each recipient gets a phone call “out of the blue,” since they don’t even know they’re being considered, to announce that they are selected and about to receive one of our highest honors and a huge cash award.

The idea behind these awards is that the Fellows can then “quit their day jobs” or work less for money while living on the investments/cash they get/accumulate from this award. That award liberates Fellows to pursue their genius ideas even further! YEA!

There are three criteria for selection of Fellows:
—Exceptional creativity
—Promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishments
—Potential for the Fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work.

Again, from the FAQs: “The MacArthur Fellowship is designed to provide seed money for intellectual, social, and artistic endeavors. We believe that highly motivated, self-directed, and talented people are in the best position to decide how to allocate their time and resources. By adopting a ‘no strings attached’ policy, we provide the maximum freedom for the recipients to follow their creative vision, whether it is moving forward with their current activities, expanding the scope of their work, or embarking upon an entirely new endeavor. There are no restrictions on how the money can be spent, and we impose no reporting obligations.”

I also love that they make a concerted effort and usually succeed in finding obscure, diverse, interesting and helpful people to whom to give this important award each year. Check out the 2017 cohort!

Anybody a fan of the CMT TV series, Nashville, as I have been? One of the recurring roles has been being played in 2015-2017 by one of this year’s recipients, Rhiannon Giddens, a gifted “Singer, Instrumentalist, and Songwriter,” who won for: “Reclaiming African American contributions to folk and country music and bringing to light new connections between music from the past and the present.”

Sometimes, though, they do not pick the “thought-leader” in a particular area, but one who is using others’ work in new ways or places. I wish they’d give credit to the originators of this recipient’s work: Betsy Levy Paluck uses the thinking and program components of Community MattersSafe School Ambassadors program’s creators, Rick Phillips, John Linney and Chris Pack. I know this because I worked for/with them and helped write the book they created about their anti-bullying work over 10 years ago. Oh, well. Can’t win them all!

Spread the word! Read about these people and their projects to youth and adults to inspire us all to be better! There is no upper age limit on recipients, either!

This year’s recipients include artists/designers, social scientists/humanities scholars, physical scientists/mathematicians, writers, community leaders/ strategists/ activists, and more.

There are, as usual (2016 was an exception), fewer female (9) than male (15) recipients. Most are under 50 years old, but a few are older.

However, more than usual (15) are people of non-Caucasian/ non-Western European ethnicities. Click on this link for an interactive map showing each of the recipient’s place of birth or location at the time of their award: https://www.macfound.org/maps/2/

A few are academics or work in other large organizations, but most are independent owners/operators or work in small businesses or in the nonprofit sectors.

Want to know more? Check out these myth-busting responses: https://www.macfound.org/press/commentary/five-myths-about-macarthur-genius-grants/

2017 MacArthur Fellows: 24 Extraordinarily Creative People Who Inspire Us All

The MacArthur Foundation named the 2017 MacArthur Fellows this week (10/10/17). Fellows will each receive a no-strings-attached stipend of $625,000, allowing recipients maximum freedom to follow their own creative visions.

“From transforming conditions for low-wage workers to identifying internet security vulnerabilities, from celebrating the African American string band tradition to designing resilient urban habitats, these new MacArthur Fellows bring their exceptional creativity to diverse people, places, and social challenges. Their work gives us reason for optimism and inspires us all.”

Visit the MacArthur Foundation website for Fellows’ bios and more info about each recipient as well as videos, the lists and descriptions/bios of previous years’ recipients, and the remaining FAQs/Answers:

https://www.macfound.org/programs/fellows/


93+ #Jobs I Have Had (all in this lifetime)

93+ #Jobs I Have Had (all in this lifetime)


image from Artesia Daily Press

Some other blogger suggested that we bloggers could post our own rèsumès (or C.V.s [Curriculum Vitae], in my case, since I have a doctorate), on our own sites to ‘drive traffic”/get attention.

I thought: “Oh, but my C.V. doesn’t even begin to tell my employment story or full history.”

So, I decided to list, in chronological order and with some commentary, ALL the 93+ jobs (paid positions as well sa volunteer gigs) I have had since I first started earning money at age 12. (All positions were paid unless otherwise noted.)

I’ve been a poet, a writer (including ghostwriter), a singer, a accompanist (piano), a theatre director/playwright/assistant director/performer, piano teacher, packer/shipper, proofreader, teacher, supervisor, teacher trainer, writing teacher, facilitator, group leader, trainer, office worker, retail clerk, nonprofit manager, grant writer, author, blogger, talk show host (video), personal assistant, declutter-er, homeschooling parent, childcare worker, and SO MUCH MORE!

You will be delighted, surprised, entertained and impressed. Maybe I will even get a new job or contract work out of this! (much-needed, BTW)

I’m accepting:
— proofreading jobs (see “Last Pass” Proofreading Services on my website, http://www.sallyember.com;
—nonprofit upper-level management, consultant, Board development, budget and strategic planning, trainer/facilitator, evaluator positions [PT or FT] in St. Louis, MO;
—instructor/curriculum development positions in adult/older youth education [if they pay properly, which most around here do NOT])

Contact me: sallyember AT yahoo DOT com for genuine offers
(NO SALES! NOTHING ON COMMISSION!).

Ages, Jobs, Comments, by geographic region or state

Missouri

12-14
Babysitting Unpaid, when for my little sisters; paid when for neighbors ($0.50/hour)
13-15
Office Worker (typing letters, filing, addressing & stuffing envelopes), for my dad (sometimes paid)
14-15
Junior Counselor (JC), Camp Nat Koplar, St. Louis Jewish Community Center Association, for pre-school-agers
15
JC, Nat Koplar, for three weeks (and my younger little sister, Lauri, was a camper there)
15-16
Babysitting for Assistant Director’s infant at Camp Sabra, JCCA overnight summer camp, Lake of the Ozarks
16
Tutor, 2nd grade, Reading and Math, Wright Elementary School, Ladue, MO (unpaid)
16-17
JC, Camp Ben Akiva, summer traveling overnight & day camp, JCCA St. Louis, for 11 – 14-yr-olds
16-17
Accompanist (piano), for choirs and annual musicals (rehearsals and performances) and on album, Horton Watkins (Ladue) High School, Ladue, MO (unpaid)
17
Tutor/Classroom Aide, 3rd grade, ? Elementary School (no longer there), City of St. Louis, MO (unpaid)
17-18
Senior Counselor (SC), Camp Ben Akiva (see previous summer)

Wisconsin & New York

18
Food Service worker, Univ. of Wisconsin/Madison (Work-study) (one month; work-study “ran out”)
18-19
After-School Day Care Staff, two different elementary school locations, Madison, WI (school year)

18-19
SC, Camp Leah, summer overnight camp, Lake Tiorati/Bear Mt., NY
19
SC, Camp Leah, summer overnight camp, Lake Tiorati/Bear Mt., NY (only 6 weeks due to acceptance into Teacher Corps)

Connecticut

19-21
Intern/Student (paid stipend and all school expenses paid), Teacher Corps, Univ of Bridgeport, CT (started mid-August, so had to leave Camp Leah 3 weeks early)
20
Student Teacher, 7th & 8th grades, Reading/Language Arts, Turn-of-River Middle School, Stamford, CT
20-22
“Big Sister” to Cathy ____________, Stamford, CT (2 hours/week, 2 years)
20-21
Bilingual Aide, Los Ojos, Spanish-speaking elders’ nursing home, summer only, Stamford, CT
21
Student Teacher, 5th and 2nd grades, all subjects, Toquam Elementary School, Stamford, CT
21
Interim Substitute, 5th grade, all subjects, Toquam Elementary School, Stamford, CT (the classroom teacher went out on maternity leave in late April; I graduated in mid-May but finished the year as classroom teacher, through mid-June)
21-22
Music, Drama & Arts Director, New Canaan Summer Recreation Summer Programs, New Canaan, CT

Vermont

22
Classroom Teacher, 8th-grade Language Arts (5 class/day), St. Albans City Elementary School, VT
22
Cheerleading, Field Hockey and Softball Faculty Sponsor, St. Albans City Elementary School, VT
22
Singer, St. Albans Community Choir (unpaid)

22-23 First summer I did not work since I was 12; job-hunting

Rhode Island & Massachusetts

23
Classroom teacher, Kdg – 1st grades combined, Learning Tree School (private, family cooperative), Tiverton, RI
23
Music & Drama teacher, Kdg – 8th grades, Learning Tree School (private, family cooperative), Tiverton, RI

23-24
Arts & Crafts Director/Counselor, Westport Summer Recreation Program, Westport, MA

New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine & Massachusetts

23-27
Lay Health Educator, Women’s/Girls’ Reproductive Health, around Peterborough/Keene, NH
24
Herbs packer and essential oils filler and shipper, Attar Herbs & Spices wholesaler, New Ipswich, NH
24
Co-Coordinator, “Getting to the Same Place” weekend event, Another Place Conference Center, Greenville, NH
24-25
Singer, Wings of Song (Robert Gass) choir (on Many Blessings album and many performances), Spring Hill/Boston, MA (unpaid)
25
Office worker & proofreader, Solar Age Magazine, Harrisville, NH
25-26
Instructor, Piano, private lessons, NH
26
Office worker/Music Assistant, Apple Hill Chamber Players, summer program, Nelson, NH
26-28
National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) state board member and community educator, in and around Keene/Concord, NH (unpaid)
26-now
Proofreading, editing, writing coach, ghostwriting, news releases, press releases, interviews
28-31
Tutor, E.S.L. & Literacy, Monadnock Literacy Coalition, NH (unpaid)
28
Catering assistant/prep cook, Linda Stavely Catering, Keene, NH
28
Learning Disabilities Tutor, three elementary schools, northern sector of Monadnock Regional District, NH
28-29
Co-Founder/Board Member, Community Kitchen, Keene, NH (unpaid)
28-30
Board Member, Monadnock Task Force on Child Abuse, Keene, NH (unpaid)
28-35
Actor/Performer/Instructor, Music & Dramatic Arts, Children’s Performing Arts Center (CPAC), southern NH & VT
28-44
Playwright/Co-Creator/Facilitator/Group Leader/Assistant Director/Director, many plays and performances and expressive arts groups, CPAC, S.A.V.E. & ACTINGOUT, southern NH & VT & northern MA (Rainbow Over the Junkyard, Crystal Dreams, Atlantis is Rising, Scenes from Narnia, What the Dragon Stole, Grading System and others) (some unpaid)
29
Founding Board Member, National Dance Institute (NDI), Monadnock Region, NH (unpaid)
29
Retail Sales Clerk, Simon Pearce Glass/Goblets & Garments, Colony Mill Marketplace, Keene, NH
30
Internal Supervisor/Trainer, Head Start preschool program, Keene, NH
30
Waitron, Henry David’s restaurant, Keene, NH
30-33
Regional Leader/Group Facilitator/Teacher/Trainer/Workshop & Event Coordinator, Co-Counseling International (CCI), NH, MA & VT
31-35
Energy worker/faith healer/personal evaluations counselor, mostly in MA but also worked as a psychic with police in NH & VT
31-40
Staff Development in Creative Arts, many school districts, CPAC, S.A.V.E. (Share Acting & Vital Energy) & ACTINGOUT, southern NH & VT & northern MA
32-33
Accompanist, Eurythmy program, Monadnock Waldorf School, Keene, NH
32-39
Accompanist/Musical Director, cabaret & musicals, WoodBound Inn, Keene State College and Keene, NH
33-35
Director of Religious Education, Unitarian Universalist Church, Keene, NH
34-35
Director, Unitarian Universalist Religious Education Family Camp, Ferry Beach, ME
34-35
Board Member, Religious Education, Unitarian Universalist Association, USA, Northeast Region
35-36
Co-Leader, Problem-Solving/Decision-Making Groups for Court-Adjudicated Youth, Youth Services, Keene, NH
36-38
Supervising Instructor for Student Teachers, Elementary Teacher Education Program, Univ of MA/Amherst
36-41
Instructor and Academic Coordinator/Theme Coordinator/Staff Development Trainer, Upward Bound, Keene State College, Keene, NH (summers only)
38-39
Co-Author/Editor, ACTING OUT: The Workbook, published in 1993 (still selling on Amazon & elsewhere)
39-41
Instructor, First-Year Writing Program (Peter Elbow), Univ of MA/Amherst
39-41
Instructor, Health/Sex Education/Theatre Consultant, Monadnock Waldorf School, Keene, NH (unpaid)
39-44
Instructor/Curriculum Developer, Literacy, Numeracy, Adult Corrections Education, Brattleboro Corrections Program, VT
39-44
Singer, Brattleboro Women’s Chorus, VT (unpaid)
40-41
Leadership Development Trainer and Diversity Coordinator (for students/faculty), several high schools, Brattleboro & Putney, VT
40-44
Co-Creator/Group Leader/Grant Writer, “Building Strength,” “wrap-around” after-school program for 11-14-year-olds & parents, Monadnock Family Services (MFS) Consortium for Youth Programs, Winchester & Keene, NH
40-44
Group Leader/Consultant, Drama Workshops, Orchard School, NH (summers)
40-44
Assistant Director/Group Leader/Grant Writer/Evaluation Designer, ACTINGOUT, Keene, NH
41-43
Group Leader/Instructor, “Nobody’s Fools” Conflict Resolution/Mediation/Drama Teen Program, summers, MFS Consortium for Youth Programs, Keene, NH
42-44
Singer, Animaterra Women’s Chorus, Keene, NH (unpaid)
42-44
Instructor/Curriculum Developer, classes for Foster Parents/Youth Workers, College of LifeLong Learning, Concord, NH
43-44
Instructor, Evaluation Methodologies, Graduate School of Education, Keene State College, NH
43-47
Co-Founder, Secretary/Treasure of Board/Coordinator/Cook, Chagdud P’hande Ling, Keene, NH, Saco, ME and Silver City, NM
44
Instructor/Director/Accompanist, The Moving Company summer youth drama production, scenes from Really Rosie, Keene, NH

Maine & Vermont

45
Instructor, Writing Program/Tutor, Writing Lab, York Technical College, Wells, ME
45
Instructor, E.S.L., Literacy, Numeracy, Adult Education, Old Orchard Beach Adult Education, ME
45-46
Instructor/Academic Advisor, Vermont College of Norwich University adult “university without walls” low-residency program, Montpelier, VT

New Mexico & Arizona

46
Instructor, G.E.D./Pre-G.E.D. classes, Western New Mexico University, Silver City, NM
46
Proofreader, several magazines, local publisher, Silver City, NM
46-47
Events Coordinator/Bookkeeper/Cook, Lhundrup Ling/Iron Knot Ranch, Silver City, NM and Duncan, AZ
46-47
Instructor/Curriculum Developer, Computer & Job Skills, Interviewing, COMP USA, Bayard, NM
46-47
Facilitator/Trainer/Grant writer, Creative Response to Conflict/New Mexico, NM and AZ
47-48
Evaluator/Needs Assessment Consultant, Grant County Community Health Council, Silver City, NM

California (San Francisco Bay Area)

48-50
Program Coordinator/Director, California Human Development Corporation, Santa Rosa, CA
50-51
Editor/Proofreader/Co-Author (not credited), Safe School Ambassadors, Community Matters, Sebastopol, CA
51-53
Bilingual Receptionist, Jewish Community Free Clinic, Cotati, CA (unpaid)
51-55
Outreach Director, Community Matters, Sebastopol, CA
53-54
Webinar creator/presenter, Community Matters, Sebastopol, CA
53-55
“Friendly Visitor” to youth in detention, Sonoma County, CA (unpaid)
56
Freelance Writer, Interact Media, online
56-now
Freelance editor/proofreader/ghostwriter: http://www.sallyember.com
56-now
Nonprofit consultant: Board trainer, strategic planner, evaluation, needs assessment, mission/vision creation, budget planning, grant research and writing, staff supervision/training sallyember @ yahoo DOT com
56
Outreach Designer, Schools for Hope, Sonoma County Volunteer Center, CA (unpaid)
56
Admin Assistant, Sonoma County Task Force for the Homeless, CA
56
Program Director/Instructor, Foster & Kinship Care Education programs, Santa Rosa Junior College, Sonoma County, CA
56-59
Trainer/Facilitator/Curriculum Developer/Board Member/Grant Writer/Mentor, Women’s Global Leadership Institute, (WGLI) Sonoma County, CA (unpaid)
56-60
Educational Researcher/Proofreader/Evaluator, Emergency University, Redwood City, CA
57-now
Author, The Spanners Series and owner/operator, Timult Books/blogger (mostly unpaid); http://www.sallyember.com/Spanners
58
Program Director/Grant Writer/Mentors Coordinator/Trainer, Be A Mentor, Hayward, CA
59
Outreach Designer/Grant Writer, WGLI (had to quit due to Traumatic Brain Injury, April, 2014)

Missouri (St. Louis County)

58-59
On-Air Host, CHANGES** conversations between authors, video talk show, YouTube (unpaid) (started when couldn’t write due to TBI)
60-61
Nanny/Tutor/Driver/Piano Tutor, family in Creve Coeur, MO
62
Instructor/Curriculum Creator, “Doors to Success” G.E.D. program, Hazelwood/Spanish Lake, MO (Parkway-Rockwood Schools Adult Education)
62-now
“Last Pass” proofreading services: http://www.sallyember.com


image from http://lennardvoogdt.nl

Through Sept 30, 2017 is the time for #10Q ! “Reflect. React. Renew. Life’s Biggest Questions. Answered By You.”

It’s not to late, and you don’t have to be Jewish or celebrate #Jewish High Holy Days (Rosh Hashona, Jewish New Year’s, and Yom Kippur, the “Day of Atonement”) to want to spend some time considering your life and your goals/accomplishments each year. I was raised Jewish, but I am a practicing #Buddhist.

It’s free! http://doyou10Q.com and #DoYou10Q are the connection points. This year is 10Q‘s 10-year anniversary, so many new events and giveaways are occurring. Check them out!

Check out any local Partners with 10Q: http://doyou10q.com/partners: Reach out to Josh Kanter, Reboot’s outreach and partnership manager, at josh @ rebooters DOT net or (go to the site for his phone number (in the USA)].<

You can still respond to all 10 Questions through September 30, online, and have them put into the "vault" for yourself for next year's reflections.

10Q: “Reflect. React. Renew. Life’s Biggest Questions. Answered By You.”

The title and all the info, below, come from the 10Q site. Visit! Sign up! Do it!
http://doyou10q.com/

10 Days. 10 Questions.

“Answer one question per day [or more than one per day, if you have some to catch up on] in your own secret online 10Q space. Make your answers serious. Silly. Salacious. However you like. It’s your 10Q. When you’re finished, hit the magic button and your answers get sent to the secure online 10Q vault for safekeeping.

“One year later, the ‘vault’ will open and your answers will land back in your email inbox for private reflection.

“Want to keep them secret? Perfect. Want to share them, either anonymously or with attribution, with the wider 10Q community? You can do that, too.

“Next year, the whole process begins again. And the year after that, and the year after that.

“Do you 10Q? You should. If you have, already, enter the “giveaway” by sharing one or more experiences and using the hashtag, as directed:


Click hereto get your 10Q on.

10Q begins September 20, 2017, and goes for 10 days
http://doyou10q.com/


Here are some of my responses to the Questions, from 2016, 2015 and 2014:

2016

–Describe a significant experience that has happened in the past year. How did it affect you? Are you grateful? Relieved? Resentful? Inspired?

My Answer:

I had an up-close-and-personal experience with the American judicial and jury system and I was very disappointed and discouraged from it all. From the attorneys to the judges, the jurors to the laws: all crap, and not in favor of actual justice for the plaintiff, ever, as far as I could tell.
I was severely injured (and still recovering) in a trip-and-fall in a restaurant that was clearly liable and negligent, causing there to be obstacles in the path of a patron which a patron could not easily see. The jury actually agreed on that. However, due to archaic laws, lobbying by the insurance greedies and other mistakes in jurisprudence (which disallowed anyone from actually informing the jury how the “awards” they intended to go to me would be apportioned or the fact the restaurant owner would not pay a dime due to his having insurance), I got nothing, my lawyer was out $30K, and I owe many thousands of dollars to family and friends. I am grateful to all who have helped and continue to help me, but resentful and angry at the unfair outcome of my two+ years of misery.
I am an educated, white, older woman with intelligent and supportive friends and family. I can only shudder to imagine how this “justice” system grinds up those without support or resources and other people who are already on the short end of every stick.
USA justice isn’t.

–Describe an event in the world that has impacted you this year. How? Why?

My Answer:

The Marriage Equality Act’s being confirmed as the law of the USA by the Supreme Court was a giant step in the right direction for equal rights for all individuals regardless of sexual orientation. As a bisexual woman who eschewed marriage for many reasons, inequality being among them, I am glad to see people who want to get married being able to do.

2015

Describe a significant experience that has happened in the past year. How did it affect you? Are you grateful? Relieved? Resentful? Inspired?

My Answer:

I was able to reconnect with my meditation practice in March & May and again in early Sept. through instruction and connection with my spiritual teacher, Lama Drimed, after many false starts, attempts, painful absences and confusions as well as hurt feelings on my part.

So happy about all that!

Describe an event in the world that has impacted you this year. How? Why?

My Answer:

The upholding of Marriage Equality laws and the enforcing of them across the USA and in other countries feels like a giant victory.

Looser laws, releasing noncriminals from prison when their only “crime” is possession of marijuana, and eventual legalization of marijuana/cannabis use across the USA and other countries also seem imminent, due to the vast success (economic and social) of those places in which it is already legal and those changes have already occurred; another set of great victories.

I appreciate the egalitarians’ winning. I appreciate common sense’s prevailing. I appreciate nondiscrimination’s being enforced. Feels right and good.

Have you had any particularly spiritual experiences this past year? How has this experience affected you? “Spiritual” can be broadly defined to include secular spiritual experiences: artistic, cultural, and so forth.

My Answer:

Due to a TBI [Traumatic Brain Injury] in April, 2014, I went from not being able to meditate for almost one year (after meditating consistently for over 42 years) to restoring my practice, slowly, bit by bit. Very grateful to my spiritual teacher, sangha and good fortune that this has been possible.

Returning to my practice is like coming home.

How would you like to improve yourself and your life next year? Is there a piece of advice or counsel you received in the past year that could guide you?

My Answer:

My meditation teacher reminded me that meditation practice in our tradition comes from our heart center, not our brain area. The Tibetans use a term that means “heart-mind” when talking about the mind.

My wish to improve myself and my practice is to keep it centered in my heart. “Meditation: it’s not what you think.”

2014

Describe an event in the world that has impacted you this year. How? Why?

My Answer:

Many science discoveries: proof of the multiverse, ability to teleport particles, invention of pre-tractor beam technology, getting paralyzed rats and others to walk, moving limbs and other things with just the mind: so much!

Very exciting, and all goes into research I use for The Spanners Series books!

What is a fear that you have and how has it limited you? How do you plan on letting it go or overcoming it in the coming year?

My Answer:

Fear getting more unhealthy instead of more healthy over the next several years. Fear not getting my full meditation practice/brain function restored. Fear being unconnected to community/friends, no lover, no one close to me where I live.
Plan to keep exercising, eating better, reaching out to Buddhist and other groups (writers, Jews, work) to make friends.
Plan to stay in touch with my teacher.

What are your predictions for 2015?

My Answer:

Movement toward reducing and ending full-impact football, hockey, etc. (headers in soccer, e.g.), in youth and college sports.

More states’ legalizing marijuana.

More states’ ratifying gay marriage.

Proof of alien life on other planets.

How do you want to 10Q? It’s up to you!

Commemorating an Extraordinary Teacher and Person: Bill Heyde, who passed on 10/26/16

Celebrating an Extraordinary Teacher and Person:
Bill Heyde, R.I.P., 10/26/16, reported by the Ladue Education Foundation in St. Louis, MO, USA

bill-heyde
Mr. Heyde, circa 1973, courtesy of the Ladue Horton Watkins High School yearbooks, as published for his obituary in the St. Louis Post Dispatch

Dear Friends of Mr. Heyde,

I am saddened to share with you the news that our wonderful Mr. Heyde passed away on Wednesday. His health had recently been improving, and he was scheduled to return to his assisted living facility, but his life came to a close on October 26, 2016. As you all know, he had a life-changing impact on many of his students’, colleagues’, and friends’ lives.

Visitation will be on Sunday, October 30, from 2:00-6:00 p.m. at Bopp Chapel, 10610 Manchester Road in Kirkwood, MO.

The funeral service will be Monday, October 31 at 10:00 a.m. at Bopp Chapel.

Burial will be immediately following the service in Cape Girardeau.

Condolences may be sent to Bill’s sister: Adelaide Parsons and her husband Robert, 3120 Independence, Cape Girardeau, MO 63703.

In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made to two of Bill’s favorite organizations:
Missouri Scholars Academy Development Fund
c/o Honors College
210 Lowry Hall
University of Missouri-Columbia
Columbia, MO 65211

and

The Ladue Education Foundation
9703 Conway Road
St. Louis, MO 63124

Here is the link to the obituary in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/stltoday/obituary.aspx?n=william-albert-heyde-bill&pid=182178423&fhid=6378

For those of you who missed it the first time around, here is the link to the clever rap written and performed by 1972 alumnus Steve Levin to honor Mr. Heyde in 2015: https://youtu.be/tA5F3XdNcwI

As a grateful former student of Mr. Heyde’s, I’m so glad I was in St. Louis for the wonderful event honoring him as an amazing teacher and person in April, 2015!

Mr Heyde and students circa 1970
Mr. Bill Heyde and students, Ladue High School, circa 1970?

We had a BLAST!
Bill H and Bill W - Copy
Bill Heyde and Bill Weiss

Doug Cassel and Tom Newmark - Copy
Doug Cassel and Tom Newmark (sorry it’s blurry)

Jim McKelvy - Copy
Jim McKelvy and ??

Mark Zooie and Mr H mock debate - Copy
Mark Zooie (sp?) in mock debate

Randy Rubin mock debate - Copy
Randy Rubin in mock debate

Scott Anderson and Glenn Caplin - Copy
Scott Anderson and Glenn Caplin (former Debate captain)

Tripp Frolichstein mock debate - Copy
Tripp Frolichstein in mock debate

At the actual event, many people contributed to a large scrapbook and to the event’s festivities, including an amazing speech by former Missouri state debate champ, Neal Osherow, and an incredible original poem/rap, written and performed by former debater, Steve Levin https://youtu.be/tA5F3XdNcwI, and a mock debate (pictures, above) with many former debaters. So much fun! So much respect, admiration, love, re-connecting.

Mr. Heyde gave a prepared speech (but mostly from his memory!!) of the history of the debate team at Ladue Horton Watkins High School in St. Louis and that was fascinating. There were many former debaters and Speech competitors there (as I was, having won 4th place at the Missouri state level with my acting partner, Karen Raskin, in Duet Acting!), and students of Mr. Heyde’s. Excellent turnout: many had to be turned away due to fire code restrictions!

Thanks, Ladue Education Foundation organizers, for imagining, creating and hosting this excellent festival!

Here is my letter, sent to Mr. Heyde in 2012 and again in 2015 for this event:


Hi, Mr. Heyde,

I just found out how to contact you and wanted to thank you. You may not remember me, since you have had thousands of students, so let me jog your memory: I was then Sally Fleischmann (Jonathan’s next-younger sister) at Ladue High School (we have 2 younger sibs you may also have taught, Wendy [now, Ellen] and Lauri). I took your Advanced Composition class in 1970-71. I was one of the only students to get a “B+” on a first draft, while most received “D”s and “F”s. So, I suppose I can’t give you credit for ALL of my writing skills and abilities, but please, read on.

Another memory jog: One of the essays written for your class (about game-playing imagery in a short story by William James) was published in that year’s LHS creative writing journal. I then went on to torment Ms. Cannon in the Advanced Placement English class my senior year by never getting less than a “B” on any written paper, while acting up in her class a lot (I did win the vote [along with our class President, Andy Eder] for “Class Clown” in our yearbook’s “Senior Superlatives,” after all…).

Although I had been published, starting as a 4th-grader, in school and camp newsletters, for short stories, articles, poetry and songs, and again as a freshman, in Missouri Youth Writes, for a poem, prior to having your class, I felt that this essay’s being published was my first “adult” placement. As an actual adult, I have had short stories, poetry, articles, nonfiction books, songs and plays published and produced by others, and served as an editor/rewriter/proofreader for many publications.

In 2013, I became a blogger (Sally Ember, Ed.D., http://www.sallyember.com), and a self-published science-fiction author with Volume I, This Changes Everything, of The Spanners Series</strong>; in 2014, I added Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, and I hope to add Volume III, This Is/is Not the Way I Want Things to Change, in 2015 and seven more after that! In 2014, I began hosting my own talk show, conversations between authors, CHANGES, and I often think of you while talking to others about their writing. I also write reviews for Goodreads and Amazon, and while critiquing others’ books, your phrases about what constitutes “good” or “bad” writing often come to mind.

I credit you and want to thank you for modeling for me (and many others, I’m sure) how to teach and inspiring me to teach composition and writing to adolescents and young adults. I went on, after teaching elementary school and middle school language arts, to teach writing: for five summers at Upward Bound; for several years at three community colleges; for five years at two different universities; and, for six years in community education locales, including Corrections Education, in several states. While acquiring my Master’s and doctorate at UMASS/Amherst, I taught writing in Peter Elbow’s peer review process’ domain. I also have had occasional contract work as a researcher/ writer/ editor/ proofreader. I know that your recognition of my writing as “good” (a characterization you did not give out to many pieces) set me on this path.

I think of you often, as a great teacher and someone who inspired me to write more and to teach writing. Even 43 years later, I can picture you perfectly, gesticulating strongly, your necktie blowing about as you passionately enjoined us to become literary critics, not just essay-writers. “Literary criticism” was a foreign concept to me as a junior in high school, until your class. I had learned about symbolism, metaphor and allusion, even how to cite quotations. But, putting it all together analytically, originally, and interestingly? Never even crossed my mind, until you gave us your assignments.

You opened me to a whole new intellectual world. I remember with intense clarity the exact moment when I first “got” what you were trying to convey, and understood (in a very basic way, but still, understood) how to construct a critique. I was astonished. It was as if you had been decrypting a code, helping us to begin using a secret language within English. I really was thrilled to be part of this new “club.”

Yes, I am a geek. I usually read over 250 books a year. Yes; I do. I have, since elementary school, been an avid reader. I was also an athlete: a runner, a cheerleader in 9th grade, a gymnast and field hockey player; also, I am a musician and singer/actor; and, in high school, I was “popular,” including having been elected/selected to that pinnacle for girls in that era, a cheerleader. This is to say to your students that these “identities” are not mutually exclusive: being inducted into the National Honor Society and having lots of friends happily co-exist in many, and I heartily encourage your students to cultivate both their brains and their hearts.You will help them, I’m sure.

I mainly wanted you to know what a great influence and help you were in my professional life, and what warm memories I have of your class. Never think your import was forgotten or unsung, even if we don’t find you to tell you: THANK YOU!

Best to you and your students, past, current and future. Write on!

Take care,

Sally (Fleischmann) Ember, Ed.D.


Do you have a teacher, coach or other mentor you’d like to thank? Start by commenting here and keep on sharing! #thankateacher

Mr Heyde and one student
Mr. Bill Heyde and student, Ladue High School, circa 1970?

Yizkor is the Memorial Service Recited 4x/year during #Jewish Holiday Services

Yizkor is the Memorial Service recited four times each year during #Jewish Holiday Services and it happens this week for Yom Kippur.

Want to learn more? “My Jewish Learning” is a great website for the curious or Jewish-estranged/ignorant: http://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/yizkor-the-memorial-service/

Many people light a special, 24-hours-burning yahrzeit candle each year to commemorate the anniversary of a loved one’s death and most Jewish people light one tonight, the Eruv (evening before) Yom Kippur.

yahrzeit-candle

I have not been a practicing Jew for over 45 years, but almost every tradition and religion has ceremonies to honor the dead at least once every year.

In the Nyingma Vajrayana Tibetan Buddhist I am a a part of, we do a daily practice (puja) that includes prayers for the recently deceased (“recently” means anyone who departed within the last 49 days, which has special meaning for Buddhists) and an annual practice for all who have ever died whose karma we pray to improve, during an extended set of prayers and commemorations (a Drubchen). Want to know more? Red Tara (Jetsunma) is the daily puja sadhana (text) and Red Vajrasattva is the Drubchen‘s practice referred to, here. Here is my spiritual community’s (sangha‘s) website, which has a lot of information, including a link to its bookstore, Tibetan Treasures: http://chagdudgonpa.org/

For whatever reasons, maybe because my step-uncle, Jerry Leavitt, died somewhat suddenly (but he was 90 years old…) last week, this week I am especially moved to remember all those I/we have lost, who have passed “too soon” or even those who have had a “good, long life.”


Meg Christian’s beautiful memorial song, “The Ones Who Aren’t Here,” is at 19:45 on this wonderful concert recording from 1983, “Meg & Cris at Carnegie Hall.” Tears and memories abound.

I “recite” some of their names, here. May their memories be a blessing. A”h, z”l, and zt”l

A”h is short for alav/aleha hashalom, which means ‘peace be upon him/her.’ Alternately, z”l stands for zikhrono/zikhronah livrakha, meaning ‘May his/her memory be a blessing,’ and zt”l stands for zekher tzadik livrakhah ‘May the memory of this righteous one be a blessing.'” (From the above “My Jewish Learning” website.)

Passed during high school or college years, from Horton Watkins High School, Ladue, Missouri, USA, in the 1970s:
Jim Haller (motorcycle accident, 1971)
Barbie Dietchmann (cancer, 1988)
Alan Bierman (car accident, 1970)
Lisa Brie (car accident, 1970)(and 2 more I didn’t know, killed in the same car accident as Lisa and Alan)
Barbie Korman (cancer, 1970)
Ellis Markman (a distant cousin of ours and from my class; accident/drug overdose)
Gary Fonarow (heart attack)

Passed later, but “too soon,” from my graduating class or the one before mine (my older brother, Jon’s, class), from Horton Watkins High School, Ladue, Missouri, USA:
Debbie Kean (the sister of two dear Camp Hawthorn counselors; Mike passed before she did)
Elice (Liccey) Bierman (Alan’s sister, friend from Camp Hawthorn and school)
David Ross (my first high school boyfriend)
Jeff Gall (a cousin of my sister, Lauri’s, husband, and in my class)
Joel Roufa (the only kid who punched me in the stomach in grade school)

Passed friends and teachers, taken “too soon,” from the 1970s – 2000’s:
Joan Levinson (the person who most supported and inspired me to get my advanced degrees) (cancer)
Mary Buren (one of my first New Hampshire friends) (cancer)
Marcia Watermolen (my son, Merlyn’s, first Waldorf teacher) (cancer)
David Taylor (fellow actor and star of plays I helped direct; taken by AIDs, in the 1980s)
Cynthia Toth (former housemate, sangha member, friend, my age) (cancer)
Russell Wilfand (one of my best friends at the time of his untimely and sudden death, December, 2007) (stroke)
Jaye Alper (long-time friend and “sister”, of kidney disease, then cancer, April, 2012)
Martha Alsup and Susan Galvin (murdered while on vacation, in their late 30’s)
Iris Markman (Ellis’ mother, theatre/dance teacher at Ladue, also distant cousin of ours; cancer)
“Papa” Joe Richardson (chorus teacher at Ladue; cancer)

Family:
Great-grandparents, great aunts/uncles, aunts/uncles and grandparents, cousins (the ones I knew) , and my father, Ira Fleischmann
“Les” (Sylvester) Harris (stepfather)
“Mama” Sarah Epstein Klein and “Papa” Samuel Klein
Mildred “Mimi” Klein Cytron Bright
Stanley Cytron
William Grosblatt and Agnes Pickle Grosblatt
Bea Grosblatt
Samuel Fleischmann and “Yetta” (Gertrude) Grosblatt Fleischmann
Ben Fleischmann and Ruth Fleischmann
Janice Cytron Rosen and Milton Rosen
Melissa “Missy” Rosen and Lisa Rosen
Nancy Fleischmann Levin
Ethel Klein Trost, Florence Klein Switow, Harry, Jimmy and Eddie Klein
Naomi Leonson Wagner

Family Friends, “Aunts” and “Uncles,” and Friends’ Children:
Margie Klearman
Betty Hoffman
Karky Gitlin and Maury Gitlin
Ed Sorg
Aram Gurian
Max Bassinson
Isabell Schwerin-Whyte
Emily Weiss
Harvey Mizes

My First Buddhist Teacher and the Teacher of my Teachers, His Excellence Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche

If I have inadvertently forgotten anyone, please add/include them and forgive my poor memory.

HUGS to all who have lost someone recently or who miss them, still.

lit-candles

10/2-10/11/16: 10Q: Reflect. React. Renew.: “Life’s Biggest Questions. Answered By You.”

You don’t have to be Jewish or celebrate #Jewish High Holy Days (Rosh Hashona, Jewish New Year’s, and Yom Kippur, the “Day of Atonement”) to want to spend some time considering your life and your goals/accomplishments each year. I was raised Jewish, but I am a practicing #Buddhist.

It’s free! doyou10Q.com and #DoYou10Q are the connection points.

10Q: Reflect. React. Renew.: “Life’s Biggest Questions. Answered By You.”

The title and all the info, below, come from the 10Q site. Visit! Sign up! Do it!
http://doyou10q.com/

10 Days. 10 Questions.
10-q-logo

Answer one question per day in your own secret online 10Q space. Make your answers serious. Silly. Salacious. However you like. It’s your 10Q. When you’re finished, hit the magic button and your answers get sent to the secure online 10Q vault for safekeeping.

One year later, the vault will open and your answers will land back in your email inbox for private reflection.

Want to keep them secret? Perfect. Want to share them, either anonymously or with attribution, with the wider 10Q community? You can do that, too.

Next year the whole process begins again. And the year after that, and the year after that.

Do you 10Q? You should.

doyou10q

Click hereto get your 10Q on.

10Q begins October 2nd, 2016

http://doyou10q.com/


Here are some of mine from 2015 and 2014:
2015

Describe a significant experience that has happened in the past year. How did it affect you? Are you grateful? Relieved? Resentful? Inspired?

Your Answer:

I was able to reconnect with my meditation practice in March & May and again in early Sept. through instruction and connection with my spiritual teacher, Lama Drimed, after many false starts, attempts, painful absences and confusions as well as hurt feelings on my part.

So happy about all that!

Describe an event in the world that has impacted you this year. How? Why?

Your Answer:

The upholding of Marriage Equality laws and the enforcing of them across the USA and in other countries feels like a giant victory.

Looser laws, releasing noncriminals from prison when their only “crime” is possession of marijuana, and eventual legalization of marijuana/cannabis use across the USA and other countries also seem imminent, due to the vast success (economic and social) of those places in which it is already legal and those changes have already occurred; another set of great victories.

I appreciate the egalitarians’ winning. I appreciate common sense’s prevailing. I appreciate nondiscrimination’s being enforced. Feels right and good.

Have you had any particularly spiritual experiences this past year? How has this experience affected you? “Spiritual” can be broadly defined to include secular spiritual experiences: artistic, cultural, and so forth.

Your Answer:

Due to a TBI [Traumatic Brain Injury] in April, 2014, I went from not being able to meditate for almost one year (after meditating consistently for over 42 years) to restoring my practice, slowly, bit by bit. Very grateful to my spiritual teacher, sangha and good fortune that this has been possible.

Returning to my practice is like coming home.

How would you like to improve yourself and your life next year? Is there a piece of advice or counsel you received in the past year that could guide you?

Your Answer:

My meditation teacher reminded me that meditation practice in our tradition comes from our heart center, not our brain area. The Tibetans use a term that means “heart-mind” when talking about the mind.

My wish to improve myself and my practice is to keep it centered in my heart. “Meditation: it’s not what you think.”

2014
Describe an event in the world that has impacted you this year. How? Why?

Your Answer:

Many science discoveries: proof of the multiverse, ability to teleport particles, invention of pre-tractor beam technology, getting paralyzed rats and others to walk, moving limbs and other things with just the mind: so much!

Very exciting, and all goes into research I use for The Spanners Series books!

What is a fear that you have and how has it limited you? How do you plan on letting it go or overcoming it in the coming year?

Your Answer:

Fear getting more unhealthy instead of more healthy over the next several years. Fear not getting my full meditation practice/brain function restored. Fear being unconnected to community/friends, no lover, no one close to me where I live.
Plan to keep exercising, eating better, reaching out to Buddhist and other groups (writers, Jews, work) to make friends.
Plan to stay in touch with my teacher.

What are your predictions for 2015?

Your Answer:

Movement toward reducing and ending full-impact football, hockey, etc. (headers in soccer, e.g.), in youth and college sports.

More states’ legalizing marijuana.

More states’ ratifying gay marriage.

Proof of alien life on other planets.

New job report, 2 days in…

New job report, 2 days in…

HiSET FEATHER

FYI: rolling registration for “Doors to Success” High School Equivalency (HSE) “HiSET” (no longer called the G.E.D. in Missouri) exams preparation, academic skills improvement and life/jobs skills program for youth ages 17 – 23, in both Maplewood (mornings) and Hazelwood/Spanish Lake (mornings and afternoons), in St. Louis County, Missouri, USA, throughout the year! 314-415-4940 for more information and to sign up for an Orientation (occurring about twice/month). Also, Parkway area AEL has regular Adult Education and English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) classes year-round, too, in dozens of locations around the County.

1) role-played and coached a student on her first job interview (will find out today how she think the actual interview went);

2) explained to a student studying history what economic and social classes are, what defines them and how they impact politics as well as which groups were denied the vote in the USA and for how long;

3) collaborated with a student to choose her assignment topics for critical reading and vocabulary building and she chose to include a story about Uri Geller (friends, family members and readers of The Spanners Series by Sally Ember, Ed.D., Volume I, This Changes Everything, know why that is funny);

4) figured out how to and did “open” the space for the afternoon session (not uncomplicated);

5) went over pre-testing and class assignment results with two students and explained/discussed which questions were actually “wrong” because they didn’t know the answer and which were “I read it too fast or not carefully” issues;

6) explained to three students how test-makers try to trick test-takers and how not to be fooled;

7) when asked “What were things like for you when you were 17?” related the story of my taking several hours off from school to sit in our dad’s car and listen to the radio in the school parking lot, waiting to hear what lottery draft number was going to be assigned randomly to my one-year-older-than-I brother and my then-boyfriend. Told her how I sat there, alone, crying and praying they would get a high number, meaning, they would not be drafted for the war in Vietnam.

the-vietnam-war-13-728

I explained how that was horrifying because others I knew would and did get drafted. Got teary telling her what a scary, terrible time that was for all the boys and people who loved them.

She was very quiet and got teary, too, and then said; “I meant, what music did you listen to?” We laughed.

All in all, a good two days! Thanks, Parkway Area Adult Education and Literacy, for including me in your teaching staff for “Doors to Success”!

AEL logo real

P.S.: #7 reminded me (a little too late…) of an incident that happened to my dear friend and fellow parent, Bill Whyte (Badger Bill), with his daughter, Emily Schwerin-Whyte, when she was about four years old in the early 1980s.
Emily asked her father, a renowned expert on visualization, stress management, relaxation and such: “Daddy? What is ‘stress’?”
Bill, in his best fatherly voice, was about to launch into an explanation of stress fit for a 4-year-old when he has the perspicacity to ask: “What do you mean, Emily?”
She answered: “Oh, you know: like ‘seamstress.'”
He said that he blew out a long breath and was relieved that he hadn’t burdened his pre-schooler with his prepared, long, drawn-out explanation that she hadn’t really requested….

I should have remembered that!

Patriotism Kills: 50 Reasons Why and When I Stopped Being “Patriotic”

Patriotism Kills: 50 Reasons Why and When I Stopped Being “Patriotic”

I was born and raised here in the midwest USA. My grandparents were all born in this country (in Louisville, Kentucky and St. Louis, Missouri), My great-grandparents immigrated here to escape discrimination, pogroms and other ongoing (endlessly ongoing) European persecution of Jews to come to the USA in the late 1800s.

I feel grateful that my ancestors, four of whom I knew as a child, were allowed to enter this country. Being here as a “native” gave me many of the privileges of a white, educated Jewish girl born in 1954.

Why and when did I stop being “patriotic” (ever notice how that rhymes with “idiotic”)? I get teary when Barbra Streisand sings “America, the Beautiful” because I want to feel good about being an American. But, I cannot and have not since 1967.

My conclusion then and only strengthened since then: Patriotism kills.

Here are the first 50 reasons I cannot be patriotic as a USA citizen.

oscar-wilde-patriotism-quotes-patriotism-is-the-virtue-of-the

1) Because Richard Nixon. Nixon and his gang of criminals began to do their dirty work when I was 13 and he resigned in the middle of my undergrad college years. How could I grow up “patriotic” after that?

2) Because Vietnam and all wars. Since World War II—which the USA entered far too late and then did more damage than good in Japan—the USA has had NO BUSINESS being in ANY wars, anywhere, yet we have not had even 2 years without being involved in “military actions.” Disgusting.

Bertrand Russell patriotism

3) Because JFK. He was an over-privileged, drug-addicted, adulterous war-monger who has been glorified beyond belief after his death.

4) Because MLK, Jr. A great leader, murdered.

MLK mug shot

5) Because Malcolm X. Another great leader, murdered.

malcolm X

6) Because Karen Silkwood. Another great leader, murdered.

7) Because the ERA. The defeat of the Equal Rights Amendment (remember that, anyone?)

8) Because government dysfunction and greed. The bought-out FDA and the bribed EPA and the absurdly stupid Dept of Education and the bribed, lying and bought-out Dept of Energy and all the other “cabinet” and “government” departments that do the OPPOSITES of their stated jobs.

9) Because slavery. Should never have and still exists: check out today’s private prisons.

10) Because racism. Is worse than ever in many places and we export it.

11) Because health care. Still no national health care with universal payer for everyone.

12) Because maternal and infant mortality Rates are too high.

13) Because most school lunches. Are horrible.

14) Because deception by government. The “wars” on poverty, drugs, terrorism and whatever else made everything 100 times worse.

15) Because broken promises. Too many to list.

16) Because dishonorable leaders. Many leaders (elected, appointed and volunteer) lie. Then, they personally and financially benefit, and so do their cronies, families and friends.

John Irving on patriotism

17) Because Monica Lewinsky. Sex is sex. Lying is lying.

18) Because Vince Foster. Murdered by greed, political gain and selfishness.

19) Because veterans. I see too many body bags, amputees and PTSD sufferers from wars that enrich only a few and do nothing good for anyone else, ever. Enlistees and draftees are constantly lied to so that impoverished/uneducated people (mostly Black and Latino) are shamed and machismo-ed into serving.

20) Because secularism. “God” should never have been added to our money, Pledge of Allegiance and other statements, and public meetings should NOT open with “prayers.”

21) Because Christians. Many still insist that this is a “Christian” nation. Christmas and New Year’s Day are national holidays but no other religion’s holy days have those designations in the USA.

22) Because the military-industrial takeover of the world. Led by USA-owned companies and military.

RoyOnNationalism

23) Because Guantanamo. Never helped, never should have existed, and still does.

24) Because Leonard Pelletier Should never have been and is still in prison.

25) Because UC Berkeley. All the protesters are/were RIGHT.

26) Because Lawrence Livermore Labs. Bombs. More bombs.

27) Because Monsanto, Dow, Dupont. Liars, polluters, killers.

28) Because union-busting. Should never have been made legal.

29) Because coal mine owners. Kill miners daily.

30) Because nuclear power plants. Never were and still aren’t safe.

nuclear power
image from http://kractivist.wordpress.com

31) Because transit. We waited over 50 years to have electric and solar cars and they’re still not prevalent. Mass transit in most areas is non-existent or insufficient.

32) Because bees and food. We never needed or should have allowed our land and food to be poisoned. (see Monsanto, etc.)

33) Because Planned Parenthood. Constantly being targeted for doing GOOD.

34) Because health. Autism and cancers are on the rise (see Monsanto, etc.). Vaccinations do kill and maim children and many are ineffective at prevention as well.

35) Because big pharma and others lied. Especially about marijuana and tobacco. Cures exist for cancer but we aren’t provided them. We are overcharged for ALL medications.

36) Because inequality. I grew up in Missouri under “Jim Crow” racist segregation and inequality/discrimination laws. That we have to have civil rights’, gay rights’, disability rights’, sexual harassment cases, domestic violence shelters, rape shield and other “movements” to get common decency in this country to be legalized and people STILL don’t adhere to the laws is terrible.

37) Because sexism. Still everywhere. Must have feminism.

3 waves of feminism

38) Because the children and youth. Child abuse and rape, incest and child molestation horrors in addition to murders perpetrated by teachers, parents, step- and foster parents, group home and youth detention center staff, religious leaders and politicians that are STILL being uncovered/discovered even though MANY knew about each and every incident. Runaways are almost always first abused, then become criminalized/imprisoned youth.

39) Because the environment. This country has many beautiful places that are being ruined by greed, selfishness and short-sightedness.

40) Because Native Americans.If you need me to explain, you’re on the wrong blog.

41) Because Election Fraud in the last five presidential and who knows how many other elections and especially during this current primary season.

42) Because Dick Cheney. If you need me to explain, you’re on the wrong blog, still.

43) Because Clarence Thomas. How was he ever and still on the Supreme Court?

44) Because Anita Hill. We all should have believed her. I did.

Anita_Hill

45) Because Dr. Jocelyn Elders. She was right. About everything, especially how healthy it is to masturbate and that abstinence-only “sex ed” is not “education” and does not work.

46) Because Bill Cosby. People are still protecting this monster.

47) Because freedom. The USA had such great promise and potential and has squandered almost all of it.

48) Because Nestle’s. Still killing children worldwide by promoting feeding infants formula over breastfeeding.

49) Because Palestine. USA is on the wrong side of this one, too. MUST be a two-state solution, but can’t negotiate with terrorists. Trouble is, they’re ALL terrorists, now.

50) Because 9/11. Was not what we’ve been told. First responders are dying/have died and money “for them” has not reached them or their families. Bush’s planes flew Bin Laden’s family out of the USA. Trade Towers did not fall due only to being hit by one airplane each. The lies go on and on.

9-11 is a fraud
from http://www.bollyn.com

Remember: DISSENT is patriotism at its best.

Dissent is patriotic

Should Clara send this letter to Epifanio as is, edited (how?), or at all?

Should Clara send this letter to Epifanio as is, edited (how?), or at all?

Seeking #readers’ opinions, please.

logoAuthorsDen

NOTES: Since the ebook of Volume I of The Spanners Series, This Changes Everything, is perma-FREE, and the paperback is 25% off for July, please read Vol. I before offering your ideas!

Also, Vol. II and III ebooks are only $1 and are also 25% off the paperbacks right now! Best is to read them ALL before commenting!

3 paperbacks

Coupon codes for 25% off discount on CreateSpace paperbacks is in previous blog post: http://www.sallyember.com/blog 7/1/16.

For more info about The Spanners Series: http://www.sallyember.com/Spanners

REVIEWERS always are provided coupons to get my ebooks for free. Contact me: sallyember AT yahoo DOT com if you want review copies.

Thanks!


Below, the letter in question. When it’s finalized, this letter goes into Volume V, Spanning the Transformative Years: The Interstitial Changes, of The Spanners Series, featuring the on-again, off-again love relationship between Dr. Clara Ackerman Branon, Ph.D., Chief Communicator/liaison between Earth and the Many Worlds Collective, and Epifanio Dang, artist, writer, musician, dancer, both in their late 60s by this time.

Currently (July, 2016) I am two-thirds finished with Volume IV, Changes in Attitude, Changes in Latitude, and beginning Volume V.


Dear Epifanio,

I don’t write you a letter for a while, in this timeline. When I wait so long, what I have to say to you accumulates uncomfortably.

Like plaque or tartar on my teeth, the questions, emotions and thoughts I feel moved to share with you begin to feel more like an interference with my normal digestion of daily life. This all must be removed by cleaning out my psychological mouth and putting what’s inside onto some document.

Unlike the metaphorical build-up, however, these words don’t “go down the drain” when I “rinse and spit,” especially when I don’t send the letters. I plan to send this one.

Or, do they?

Do you actually read my letters, in their entirety? I don’t get much of a response, or any at all, usually.

I’m going to assume you are reading and responding to this one. It comforts me to view our communication as if it were completely mutual.

I love you. I miss you. I miss us.

I believe you love me even though, in this and many timelines at this and “later” points, you don’t seem to know or believe that. Or, you say you love me as a friend, as family.

You also say I irritate you. Mostly, you avoid me.

Or, we’re in love, we are living together, we are partnered/married, and very happy.

Not today.

Once again, I’m trying to find out why we are not together “today,” to see if I can move the needle of our relationship’s direction closer to my understanding of “true north.”

Here are my concerns and questions. I start, usually, at this point in our estrangement, with creating a progression, of sorts, that attempts to discover how hopeless my wishes for our closeness and/or reconciliation are.

First, the deal-breakers:
Am I physically repulsive to you? Is that the major issue?
Does the thought of our being intimate (e.g., kissing and more) make you want to vomit? Does the idea of confiding in me and my knowing your secrets make your skin crawl?
I recognize that if your answer to even one of the above questions is “yes,” there is no hope. I know what it’s like to feel that way about someone and it doesn’t change much.
If you would please tell me that now, it helps me a lot. When I know you can’t even stomach being near me, I am then able to figure out a way to surrender my wishes, to believe firmly that our closeness is impossible.

Next, the inconsistencies:
Do you want us “together,” as friends, at least?
I know you enjoy being with me some of the time. You prolong our talking together on several occasions, by more than an hour or two, sometimes.
How do you seemingly want me around you so much and then not be in touch at all most of the time?

Third, the reasons:
Why do you want to keep yourself separate?
In what way does our being separate achieve whatever you want to avoid, protect, defend or prevent? What are the outcomes you’re attempting to circumvent?
Why are you so certain these are potential threats? How do you know these are possible, much less likely, results of being closer to me?

Fourth, the mysteries:
What scares you? Why do you fling yourself away from me every time we do get closer? How do your fears involve me, exactly?
How are you sure you’re afraid of me?

Finally, the clincher:
How do you know our seeming future?
Since you tell me you can’t timult—don’t know your own or anyone else’s current or alternate timelines, potential karma, destiny/fate—why do you claim that you and I don’t ever have that kind of relationship?
Why do you believe that?
Why should I believe you?

What if…
— your fears are unfounded;
— you’re not repulsed by me (in fact, you’re often attracted to me; I can feel it);
— your predictions are flawed; and
— your negative beliefs about our being closer are all unwarranted?

We laugh together, we have the same core values and a lot of other important aspects in common. We’re almost the same age. We don’t intimidate each other. We don’t need each other to be different than who we are, yet we are wanting and seeking the challenge and support to improve continually from an intimate partner.

Unlike many of our previous partners, neither of us is depressed, too young, wanting to have children or going back to school and moving away. We usually enjoy each other enormously (when you are “with” me).

Please: open your heart/mind and spend some time with me to find out how we are together before deciding we are a “bad idea”?

If you do that and we aren’t compatible, we’ll both know it. It is obvious. I then can surrender my hopes and beliefs. I promise.

If you do that and we are great together, I promise not to say “I told you so” more than once a year.

Offering you my love in every timeline,

Clara


Readers, write to me with your comments on this potential communication. Please send your reactions, suggestions, edits, ridicule, sympathy, empathy and more to http://www.sallyember.com/blog .

The Mixed Bag of Lessons from My Father

Those of you who read my blog somewhat often know that I don’t usually share anything very personal from my past unless it’s positive. However, this year, due to timing and other factors, I am changing that with this post. If you’re not interested in hearing about my somewhat traumatic childhood or long-deceased father, skip this post! If you are, read on.

If you’d like to leave comments, you are welcomed to do so below this post, on my site: http://wp.me/p2bP0n-1HM [If you leave comments anywhere else that this post may appear (when it’s reblogged or cross-posted), I probably won’t see them very soon, if at all.]

The Mixed Bag of Lessons from My Father

My father died in 1991 at the age I am right now: almost 62. It seemed young even then, when I was only 37. Now, it’s appalling.
Here he is at about the age I was when he died:

Ira 1959
Ira Fleischmann, age 30

Dad died of a massive heart attack while playing doubles indoor tennis. He “was dead before he hit the ground,” according to the three doctors he was playing with at the time. They know this because he fell face forward and hit his forehead but never put out his hands to catch himself in the fall.

Because he had always been a coward about his health and avoided doctors, he died from what was actually a treatable condition (blocked arteries). We found out later that he had been having chest pains for months prior to that and hadn’t done anything about them.

My three siblings (ages 26 – 38 at that time), my dad’s third wife (age 48) and elderly parents (90 and 91), his sister (57) and others in our family and his friends were shocked at his early demise. Understandably, some of us who knew that he had avoided the doctor’s exam and that his death was likely postponable were also angry.

Know this:

FACT: 200,000
At least 200,000 deaths from heart disease and stroke each year are preventable.

FACT: 6 in 10
More than half of preventable heart disease and stroke deaths happen to people under age 65.
from http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/heartdisease-stroke/

We became even more frustrated with him when we found out what a mess he had left his financial affairs in and how much his third wife would have to do to clean it all up. Ironically, even though he had sold life and other insurance policies for most of his life, he had cashed in his latest life policy to get quick cash (he was always short on cash) and died without any insurance. He had not only had made no provisions for his demise, but left no Will, either.

We spend the first few days after his death in a haze of mourning but needing to make many decisions. We ended up arguing about basic stuff:
—should there be an autopsy?
—should he be buried (my observant Orthodox Jewish brother insisted on this) or cremated (the rest of us, including his wife, knew that this was what he had talked about wanting)?
—what to do with the chaos of his home office, files, obligations, etc.?
We worked most of it out, but found out some disturbing facts along the way.

We found hundreds of business cards with some other man’s name, which turned out to be our dad’s alias (a mash-up of his two deceased uncles’ first names). The false name of this business and a local address were on letterhead and there were a few other “clues.” We opened file drawers and a desk drawers and compared notes: our dad had had a secret, alter ego, including another “business” of some type, complete with a fake office nearby.

My sisters and I, in a whirlwind of semi-hysterical giddiness and grief, put on our trench coats (literally) and slunk around to peer into this office’s windows: practically empty. No one was there or appeared to have been recently, but his fake name was on the door. The desk and chair looked unused. Nothing else was in this small room: mail drop only. For what? We knew we’d never find out. This was 1991, before Al Gore gave us the full internet, before Google, etc., and we had no money to pay to investigate in ordinary ways, so the trail ended there.

fraud scrabble

It took almost a year for his wife to make sense of the rest, pay off his numerous debts, settle some lawsuits (he was the defendant or the plaintiff in several). Even though she didn’t have to, she decided to disburse from what was left to us, his three children. It wasn’t much, but we were grateful.

We found out a few years later that our dad had purchased some oil wells in Illinois in the 1970s (yes, there are some!), when we siblings each received a notice about being his beneficiaries: where did we want to have the checks sent? Yippee!? Again, not much, but something.

So much for his financial legacies.

What else did I get from my dad? It was definitely a mixed bag, just like his financial detritus.

Planning for Death
It is cruel and selfish to one’s descendents and mourners to leave one’s affairs unsettled. Since none of us knows when or how we will die and we all know that death and/or incapacitation can happen quite suddenly and unexpectedly, there is no excuse for leaving these things undone when one has children, spouses, property and/or businesses.

The deceased one’s lack of preparedness causes what is already difficult (grieving a sudden or unplanned-for death) to become complicated, making the grieving a longer and more arduous experience for all mourners. Unwinnable arguments, hurt feelings, misunderstandings, and vying for power, money, possessions, property and decision-making victories can take up the time we should be spending in simple grief and storytelling amongst us.

no Will
image from http://news.mdl.com.au
Dying Intestate (without a Will)= BAD

Lessons: Prepare for your death NOW
Because of the mess my dad’s disorganized death left, my son’s father and I responded. We both immediately signed up for a small life insurance policy and wrote our Wills when we got back home (our son was 10 at that time). I made sure I signed up to be an organ donor. We wrote our “Living Wills” so others would know our wishes should one of us become incapacitated and we each assigned a healthcare “Power of Attorney.” I have continually updated these documents and my list of whom to contact and what to do in the event of my death and for the disposal of my remains, any service to be held, etc.

Swimming
Our dad taught me and my brother (13 months older than I, so we did most early learning together) to swim when we were three and four, something I always loved from then on. I trained to and became a lifeguard and swimming instructor as an older teen and ran several waterfronts at summer camps as an adult, training lifeguards and teaching swimming myself. I was fortunate to have had intermediate and advanced swimming lessons every summer while a camper and I appreciated passing those skills on to other campers as I got older.

I developed a love of all places watery and being in the water from my dad. I had many years of jobs at summer camps because our parents sent us to them every summer—starting with the same camp, Camp Hawthorn, which I’ve written about on this blog—that he had attended as a child!

LESSONS: Water Love
I still swim many times per week, right here in St. Louis where I grew up, at the same Jewish Community Center where he taught us to swim (but a recently constructed pool replaced the old one). Because I’ve had many injuries to both legs and my back, swimming is my main exercise.

I have loved and swum in dozens of lakes, several oceans and probably a hundred pools around the world.

DSCF0013
I am lovin’ my sister, Ellen’s, backyard pool in California, 2013

Abuse and Strength
Our father was often an angry, impatient, intolerant, mean and frustrated person. He had been raised with physical and verbal punishment and passed those horrible habits onto my brother and me (mostly just us two oldest kids, because our younger sisters are very much younger). Our father beat up on us regularly, usually for no legitimate reason (most abusers operate that way), e.g., the TV was “too loud,” we weren’t moving quickly enough, we said something he didn’t like, we were tussling with each other too much, etc.

Our dad also yelled at us and our mother a lot and called us all terrible names. He was both physically and emotionally abusive for all my childhood years. When we got older, he focused on hitting my brother but pulling my very long hair. When he got violent and was looking for a target—any target—, I would tell my little sisters to lock themselves in our bathroom. I’d stand between him and that door, letting him pull my hair and slap me to distract him from going after them.

As soon as I got my driver’s license, I’d take them with me rather than leave them at home with him and my mom, who was very ill a lot of my high school years and not much help. They tagged along to visit my friends as we went to movies or listened to music. I took them to play rehearsals and other activities to avoid having them be at home with no one to protect or supervise them.

Luckily, Dad started having tennis matches (and affairs, we found out later), and was mostly out of the house a lot by the time we were in high school. After one extremely violent episode on the eve of my brother’s leaving for college, my mom finally threw him out. It was the beginning of my senior year.

My ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) score is very high, mostly due to my father. A high ACE score has been connected to causes of a myriad of other physical and mental health problems well into adult life, some of which I do have.

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) impact
from http://www.npr.org

LESSONS: Lemons into lemonade
I developed tremendous courage, intolerance for abuse, the ability to stand up to anyone, any time. After growing up with and surviving an abusive parent, I would never be intimidated by anyone else.

I vowed never to be like him in those areas. I went out of my way to practice meditation, get counseling and incorporate anger management techniques. I also learned to use many “positive discipline” methods while raising my own son and being a teacher of young people. As a master teacher, I supervised and trained dozens of others and helped them learn the positive discipline techniques I had honed.

I am proud to say that I have never hit my child (who is now 36) or any other child. Furthermore, I intervened whenever I witnessed physical abuse or when I saw that hitting was imminent in public or private places. I do not call children or teens derisive names, nor do I put up with anyone else’s doing it.

I was on the board for a local child abuse prevention task force. I learned and then taught creative conflict resolution techniques and mediation. I also taught parenting classes, mentoring many teen, bio, adoptive, foster and step-parents to help them become more positive and to curtail / end any incipient habits of abuse.

I became an advocate for those being abused. For example, I intervened once when I witnessed several police assaulting a teen and then testified at his trial to get his (bogus) charges dropped. After they falsely arrested me to try to intimidate me out of making a formal complaint against them, I filed a lawsuit which I won. Those assaulting officers were reprimanded and fired. That police department then changed the ways they trained, supervised and managed officers in the field from then on.

Music
My mom and both her siblings and her mom, my dad’s sister and many others in our family were amateur musicians of sorts, mostly piano players or singers. My dad had “flunked out of” his piano lessons, according to him, but he had a great, operatic tenor and loved to sing.

I grew to hate opera because of my associations of his abuse with his favorite music, but I began to play the piano and sing along with many songs and loved music from a very young age. Our dad took us to the symphony a few times (I usually feel asleep, though).

Because of my dad’s commitment to music education, my and my siblings’ love of music was educated (but I still do not like opera, hip-hop, twangy country, bluegrass, free jazz or rap). He paid for my and my sisters’ piano and my brother’s drum lessons and arranged for us to have his own piano teacher to teach me and my sisters for our first years.

Mrs. Rosenblum was ancient, to my young eyes (probably in her 60s!), and a harsh task mistress, but classically trained and very skilled. I became a gifted sight reader due to her tutelage. I won piano competitions and played complicated pieces in her annual recitals, from ages 9 – 16. From ages 16 – 18, I learned theory and improvisation from a different teacher, the talented Herb Drury, who also had his own quartet (my dad also paid for that).

Because of my accomplishments and talent, I was selected to be the accompanist for rehearsals and the annual school musicals in 11th and 12th grades (a great honor). I also sang and accompanied in several of the school choirs as a teen and in/for many community and women’s choruses as an adult.

After I graduated college, I used the small amount of money left to me by my great-grandmother to buy my first piano, one I kept and moved over a dozen times to five different states. I took piano lessons for one year during my first year as a teacher, since I lived alone and had time to practice.

I enjoyed being a paid or volunteer accompanist, musical director, piano teacher and chorus member for most of my adult life. I also have written more than a few songs, am mid-stream in writing a musical (still festering my my files…), performed in and musically directed/accompanied several musicals and cabaret shows and continue to enjoy teaching (rarely) and playing piano.

Closeup of a child's hands playing the piano. Horizontally framed shot.
from http://www.huffingtonpost.com

LESSONS: Music rocks!
Music is a connector: more than a few of my lovers were musicians and/or singers and so is my son, who also composes. His father also plays several instruments and so do many of my friends and all three of my siblings. Music is a language: when I have trouble expressing or finding meaning in some extreme or complicated emotional states, music helps me understand my own and others’ experiences.

Playing piano, especially sight reading, uses both “sides” of my brain. Putting my fingers on a keyboard my son sent me and making music have helped me in my recovery from a Traumatic Brain Injury (from about two years ago).

When my sisters and I get together, we often sing. My son and I have had a lot of fun with “kitchen opera” (the only kind of opera I like), improvising lyrics and melodies as we cook or clean together.


My dad’s later years and my early adult life
Having worked for decades with youth and families, parents and professionals who work with youth in a variety of capacities, both educational and therapeutic, I know that my negative experiences are not even close to “the worst.” I have heard so many horror stories that it puts the difficulties of my life into a proportional perspective. Some of my childhood memories are actually quite positive.

Sally Dad Jon 1955
I, our dad and my brother, 1955, Clayton, MO

At this point, I do not deny the problems my father and his problems caused us, but I have grown to appreciate and be grateful for the good things he did provide. I am resilient and stronger due to a lot of help from other adults and friends. I have developed enormous empathy and compassion for others’ pain. I understand many of the conflicts that arise between parents and children of all ages.

For most of my college and early adult years, my dad and I were estranged to a large extent. I didn’t see him very often and we almost never talked on the phone. My sisters were little when he moved out (6 and 11), so they had the whole divorced parents-visitation-dad’s girlfriends things to contend with that my brother and I never had to do since we were already in college when our parents’ divorce came through.

Occasionally, Dad would send me a check for some odd amount (he liked to round off his checkbook running total to all zeros) with no note. Sometimes I’d rip that up, even though I needed the money. I was angry and hurt, unwilling to connect solely over money.

He remarried twice. The first time was when my brother was in medical school and I had just graduated college. He skipped my graduation, but he invited me and my brother to join him and his new wife, with our current dates, at a resort in New England (where my brother and I were both in college) later that summer. I didn’t want to go, but my brother said we had to. That experience was very weird. We played a lot of tennis and ate too much food; that’s about all I remember. The wife was unremarkable.

On the few occasions I did go to St. Louis during their brief marriage, I remember Dad’s being almost the same as when I had lived with him: he was frequently yelling at this woman’s three kids, calling them names, being horrible. I was disgusted.

At one tense dinner, the oldest (a girl) had left the table in tears due to his name-calling. I followed her into the hallway and stood next to her as she cried. When she was a bit calmer, I told her (from the vantage point of my ripe old age of 22 to her 11) that he was a horrible man and that he had been horrible to me and my brother, too. I then said that I’d stand up for her and that she should call me if he ever hit her or her brothers.

I don’t know what I would have done about his abuse of her and her brothers at that time (I didn’t know about child abuse hotlines, if there even were any in Missouri in 1977), but I do know that I would have appreciated it if ANYONE in my family or among my parents’ friends had ever offered any of us an acknowledgement of his abusiveness, any emotional affirmation of the trauma we were suffering, any kind of lifeline like that; no one ever had.

Luckily for those kids, my dad and their mom divorced soon after that visit.

My brother and his wife had their first child in 1979, a year before we had Merlyn, and then they had another one about a year and half later and two more in the next seven years. Our middle sister had her first child in late 1989. Both my sister-in-law and I took had privately taken Dad aside early on and told him, in no uncertain terms, that if he ever yelled at or laid a hand in anger on any of our children, he’d never see them again. He must have believed us, because he never lost his temper with any of the grandchildren.

Throughout the 1980s, my dad loved his 6 grandkids and enjoyed spending time with them. He happened to be visiting when my son was just learning to walk: Merlyn ran/fell into my dad’s arms as he took his first independent steps in August, 1981. Precious.

For his third marriage in 1986, he married a woman with three daughters around my sisters’ ages who was the same age as Merlyn’s dad. That was creepy, but we liked her all right. We later found out that this wife was an active alcoholic who almost immediately went into recovery soon after they got married.

Because of his wife’s personal recovery work, in the last few years of our dad’s life he had begun his own therapeutic journey. He went to some Al-Anon meetings, read some books relevant, talked with her and others.

During her senior year, my youngest sister, Lauri, went to live with them “to get to know our dad better.” Our mom had also remarried a few years prior to that and she didn’t much like her husband or being the only child at home (my middle sister was finished with college and living in California by then), so those were her other motivating factors. She reported during and after that year (1984) that Dad was starting to develop some insights into his own issues and kept his temper better around these teens (only two, Lauri and her youngest, were living at home): no hitting and very little yelling.

I participated in peer counseling (Re-evaluation Counseling, known as “RC,” and then Co-Counseling) from 1979 – 1986 and then had about ten years of regular therapy, starting in 1986. I also kept meditating, attended many other rituals and personal growth workshops and generally began to understand, heal and assimilate the consequences of my childhood’s traumas.

Due to both of our being involved in personal growth work and the mellowing effect of his having grandchildren, my dad and I were finally—very tentatively—having a more connected, positive relationship. This was helped by my living in New Hampshire and his still being in Missouri (distance and very few visits were key).

Dad at Stern wedding 1989
Ira Fleischmann, age 59, at my sister, Lauri’s, wedding, 1988

In the summer of 1990, we were visiting Dad and his wife (as well as my mom and her husband and other family) in St. Louis. My brother and his family still lived there (he had been doing his medical residency at a local hospital). At my dad’s condo’s complex was an outdoor pool. Merlyn and his cousins were frolicking with my brother and Merlyn’s dad in the pool while my dad and I relaxed in the shade on chaise lounges, drying off after our swim.

Suddenly, my dad looked up from the book he was reading on co-dependency and family problems to say, in a surprised and completely unironic tone: “Oh my God! I grew up in a dysfunctional family! Do you have any idea what that’s like?”

I was so shocked at his lack of awareness, I almost lost my breath. But, I could see that he was authentically having this insight for the first time. I didn’t want to discourage him.

Using my most neutral tone, I responded mildly: “I think I have some idea, Dad.”

He nodded and went back to his book. That was one of our last conversations.

In January, 1991, both of his parents, then in their early 90’s, were celebrating their birthdays. The entire extended family gathered in St. Louis to honor them. Unexpectedly, our dad died about 7 weeks after that reunion, so we were very glad that we had had that time all together.

Dad and Sarah at grandparents BD 1991
At the last family reunion, January, 1991. Counter-clockwise, from bottom left: our youngest sister, Lauri Stern; Ira Fleischmann with his youngest granddaughter, Ellen’s oldest, Sarah Miranda Kneeland; Dad’s sister, our Aunt Nancy Levin; her middle child, cousin Hillary Levin.

How to Estimate Agenda Times for a Meeting/Workshop in the USA

How to Estimate Agenda Times for a Meeting/Workshop in the USA
OR

Time Management for the Eternally Optimistic and Always Late Facilitators/Leaders

I have worked in nonprofits, educational and other venues for which meetings (workshops, Board meetings, conference convocations, etc.) are a necessity. I cannot count how many times I have sat through a session run by someone else who could not figure out how to manage the time for the stated agenda, nor how to create an agenda that could actually be completed in the time allotted.

Frustrating, insulting and disrespectful to those in attendance, and otherwise a TIME WASTER.

running effective mtgs
image and meme info from http://www.inspiredemployee.com “Running Effective Meetings”

My friend and colleague, Mario Cossa, and I have coined the term “pre-crastinators” endearingly to refer to ourselves. Pre-crastinators are prepared early so that we are able to and do send out agendae AS PROMISED, distribute minutes or preparatory materials in advance and do not make other wait.

Leaders are training people with every move
—I never start late, even if I and only a few others are on time, because if I did, then I would be dishonoring those who made the effort to be punctual and training participants/members to believe that being on time won’t matter in the future.
—Similarly, I always end on time, unless I have asked the group for permission to extend our time and been granted that.

When an item requires more time
I must notice this so that we can take a break from the agenda to discuss this dilemma PRIOR to the ending time and list what our options are. The members can then let me know if adding a specific number of minutes to complete a specific item/task is acceptable or if we have to postpone that item’s completion.

If we run late, then, it is as a group and not based solely on my decision or due to poor planning. These approaches to time management show respect and organizational control. Therefore, I make sure that I/we can conclude the event and its agenda by the end of our agreed-upon time limit, with designated items labeled in advance that must be discussed at more than one meeting.

start and end on time
image from http://http://www.slideshare.net/gretchenrubin/gr-14-tips-for-running-a-good-meeting-2/2-1_Very_obvious_Start_on “Start and End on Time”

Therefore, I offer my pearls of wisdom from decades of managing time extraordinarily well. Take notes.

Let’s use an hour-long session as the prototype for this list of tips.

Opening, Closing and Pacing a Session

  • Allow three minutes extra for “entry” and “ending” than whatever you have planned. TOTAL TIME: 6 minutes
  • Allow one minute between agenda items/activities for transitions. TOTAL TIME: 6 minutes
  • Include announcements, brief introductions, setting meeting format/ground rules (if needed), selecting timekeepers/co-facilitators (if desired), site’s logistics (for longer sessions, the locations of bathrooms, break times, fire exits) thank-you’s and other necessities up front or at the end: allow about two minutes for each. TOTAL TIME: 4 minutes

    opening the mtg
    image from http://vismap.blogspot.com “Opening the Meeting”

  • Allow a “next steps” agenda item preceding the conclusion of any session for at least five minutes to have participants be assigned/volunteer for tasks, set time expectations/deadlines, and confirm/set the next meeting date/place/leadership. TOTAL TIME: 5 minutes
  • Remind people of the last session(s) or read and accept the minutes to get everyone back into this group’s objectives from wherever they each just came to your session from, especially if more than two weeks have elapsed between sessions. Allow 5 minutes for this re-cap. TOTAL TIME: 5 minutes
  • Make sure everyone has a chance to speak during an hour-long session by inviting individuals by name to contribute at least once. During the wrap-up, ask if anyone has anything else to say before ending. Allow 4 minutes for this. TOTAL TIME: 4 minutes

You actually have only 30 minutes for your “hour-long” session’s actual agenda. Truly. And, that is only if you start and end on time. Schedule more sessions if you need more time.

What about introductions?
—NEVER use your precious session’s time for longer introductions of members’ UNLESS that is the sole purpose of your session.
—When your group has more than five people and you have only scheduled one meeting, you can’t use more than about 15-30 seconds to “meet” each other by way of self-introduction for each person.
—Be clear about that up front and then model the proper format for the group by going first.

quick intros
“Quick Introductions”

Generating and Upholding Realistic Time Expectations

  • For a 30-minute agenda, no item should be allocated more than 10 minutes unless it is the main focus of the entire session.
  • Sub-divide any complex item’s components into 3- to 10-minute slots to keep people’s attention and keep you (the leader/time-keeper) on task.
  • For a 30-minute agenda, a maximum of 3 items should actually require group discussion and/or voting/ consensus/ confirmation of learning. If you have more, you need a longer meeting time.
  • Allow up to twelve minutes, total time, for each major agenda item, start to finish, including transitions between sub-items. If any requires more than 12 total minutes, postpone/table some of the decision/learning to the next meeting.
  • Put the designated/expected times for each item right next to it.

Sample-Agenda-copy
image from http://northboundsales.com “Sample Agenda with Times Listed”

People Management
I do not let others hijack my meetings or workshops with unending stories, unfiltered confessions, boring and repetitious contributions (like your own voice much?) or other time-wasters.
I make sure everyone has a chance to speak who wants to contribute.
When I run the meeting or workshop, everyone can relax, listen and participate well.
I facilitate with humor, grace and firmness.
People LOVE my workshops and meetings because I use their time respectfully.

  • If you have groups whose members consistently keep on “running off” verbally, rotate the timekeeping and agenda-maintenance roles (per meeting or per item) and don’t assume these all yourself.
  • Bring a visible/audible timer and use it for each item. Set the timer to go off or have the timekeeper announce when there is one minute left for that item and again when that item’s time has elapsed.

    timer
    “Visible/Audible Timer”

  • When more time is actually needed for an item than was anticipated (new issues or problems arose, a useful activity or discussion is occurring), discuss extending the time and get consensus about that with the group AND announce that you/we are deciding that some other item(s) will now have to wait until the next meeting OR we can agree to postpone finishing this one until our next meeting.
  • Rephrase, reframe or thank each contributor with as few words as possible.
  • When someone starts to be repetitive or repeat someone else’s contribution, interrupt them with something like this: “I appreciate your enthusiasm/interest/knowledge, but we don’t have time to go over the same ground here. Do you have anything new to add?”
  • Remind people to add to/refer to rather than repeat others’ contributions by saying: “I agree/disagree with [THAT PERSON], AND/BUT…” and thank them for their conciseness in advance.
  • Use your hands and face as traffic/time controllers: hold up one finger, a hand in a stop-gesture, use a calming/quelling gesture, a nod, a frown, a smile, a slight shake of your head with clear intention. Point to the agenda (which should be posted where all can see it as well as handed out on paper) and your phone or watch or the wall clock. Count down with your fingers and say: “Two more minutes on this item.”

ending the mtg
image from http://vismap.blogspot.com “Ending the Meeting”

  • Be firm and grateful, both.
  • Briefly summarize what was accomplished, next session’s tasks, and meeting date/time/place before leaving.

success signs of mtg
image from http://www.opensesame.com/ “Signs of a Successful Session”

Good luck!

Dear parents of Brock Turner, and any “supportive” relatives, friends and associates…

Dear parents of Brock Turner, and any “supportive” relatives, friends and associates:

You are making things worse and you are horribly wrong to “support” Brock. I hope you can educate yourself and learn to change your position. Treat the woman he brutalized as the victim rather than Brock Turner.

assault is not an accident

Some facts:

—This supposedly mentally competent young man (Brock was a scholarship student at a prestigious university) did not “make a mistake” when he brutally assaulted an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. His intentions were clear and his actions thought out in advance.
—He did not “accidentally” drag this inebriated young woman off behind said dumpster. He considered his options and chose this as the best place to hide what he was doing to her.
—He was not “confused” when he decided to stick objects and himself into her naked body’s orifices as she lay amidst dirt and pine needles.
—He was not “unclear” about her inability to give consent when he tried to run away because 2 good Samaritans attempted to and did chase and stop him.

When asked about his crimes (which are not in question because there are witnesses and medical records to demonstrate his guilt, which was proven and he was convicted), Brock has lied repeatedly and still has not apologized or shown appropriate (healthy) remorse. These are not good signs.

The legal terminology here is clear: Brock Turner, “with malice aforethought,” “willingly and knowingly” committed “multiple felonious assaults” on a helpless woman.

malice aforethought

How can you depict Brock as any kind of victim?

His horribly venomous selfishness and inappropriate sense of entitlement (learned and encouraged, no doubt, from many of YOU) are part of a family and community pathology that shows itself in serious misogyny, part of what is termed “rape culture.”

—Do not defend him.
—Do not excuse him.
—Do not attempt to protect him from the consequences of his own actions.

—Do not pretend that this was a one-time event. Ask him. No one does an assault like this only once. He happened to get CAUGHT this time. I’m certain he has done this before, or worse.
“The research team discovered serial rapists are far more common than previous research suggested — a finding that could change how sexual assaults, including so-called acquaintance rapes, are investigated.” Data that are now considered typical; study from one county in the USA: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/06/160606122823.htm

—Your entire family and any “supportive” members of your community, religious and civic organizations need counseling to deal with how you have failed him and how your thinking and emotions are completely distorted about him and this tragic crime that he committed. If you/they have not been able to hear/read the entire text of the victim’s Impact Statement, do that. Read her letter repeatedly until you understand the enormous heinousness of his acts and your misguidedness.

—If you have sons, work with young boys or men, or are one, you should learn from this/teach several things:
1) Women are not anyone’s property to do whatever they want with, any time they want. It doesn’t matter how much or what she drinks, ingests, wears, says, looks like or acts like: she is not “yours.”

rape-time-to-stop

2) If a potential date or sexual partner can’t communicate coherently or at all, she can’t give consent for sex. Find her a safe friend to be with her and get her safely home.

3) Perpetrating physical acts that are sometimes considered “sex” on someone who has not given consent is NOT sex: these are acts of rape, assault and physical torture and are CRIMES. Do not even consider any other definitions.

4) It is your duty to make sure Brock and others who are legally required to register as sex offenders wherever they go, live and work DO register. Do not let him or others continue to ruin women’s lives.

failure-to-register

You can be compassionate about Brock’s pathologies and future problems without condoning what he did or making him “feel better” about it. He should NEVER “feel better” about any of it.

Sincerely,

Everyone else who is sane and compassionate

What Matters

What Matters

As I approach my 62nd birthday (August 22), I reflect on the news stories I see/hear almost daily, now, that corroborate and validate most of my life’s choices, values and beliefs. Sharing, now, so you don’t all have to re-invent the wheel. Mostly I/we were right. Get with it.

Interactions matter. Treating all humans with respect and meeting humans needs (food, clothing, shelter, meaningful and well-paid work, safety) properly are right. Equality, egalitarianism, acceptance, compassion, kindness and respect are the right ways to greet, treat and live with all others, regardless of perceived or actual differences among us and changes in circumstances. Ending oppression, discrimination, bias, prejudice and all forms of subjugation must occur.

RespectKindness
image from http://www.tomvmorris.com
Respect

Government and economics matter. Democracy (when it works) and socialism are right: we must listen to and take care of each other.

Conflict resolution matters. War is wrong, especially war that only makes profits for a few corporations and individuals and ruins land, kills/maims people and destroys economies for everyone else. All the “police actions”/wars the USA has engaged in since World War II (and some of our actions during World War I and World War II) were/are horribly wrong. Millions have been harmed or died for NOTHING except to enrich a few. We must learn to communicate better, de-escalate, use diplomacy, engage in dialogue, compromise and yield.

Give-peace-a-chance-no-more-war1-e1442090350987
image from http://www.popularresistance.org
Peace

Health matters. Eating healthfully and organically is right: better for us, better for the farmers, better for the environment. Contact sports that cause head injuries must end: change the rules or close down those sports completely for children and teens and give adults information that allows them to make educated choices about participation. Sugary foods and drinks, salty and fatty snacks and other negative-impact foods should be made less available and/or taxed very highly so fewer people can eat/get them so readily.

Other beings matter. Treating animals with respect at all times if we are going to use, eat (which some would argue is wrong), imprison and otherwise subjugate them (less stress and pain during and before slaughter, while being raised and during captivity of all kinds) is right.

Consumers’ choices matter. Choosing to purchase items that are made by people who are paid well, treated well and free to come and go is right. Choosing to purchase items whose production (harvest/manufacture/acquisition) does not harm or destroy the planet, the economy, or the people involved is right.

you-can-make-a-difference
image from http://arabedrossian.org
Healthy planet

Parenting requires time, effort, knowledge, education and support to be done well. Childcare can be a positive aspect of young children’s lives as long as they also have good parenting.

Minds and bodies matter. Meditation, yoga, stress management, play, listening to each other better, being outdoors more and learning/listening to music/making art all help families, businesses, schools and individuals in every possible way. Beauty, nature and gratitude are important. Learn/include and do these. Drink a lot of clean water. Sleep more and in better conditions.

healthy body and mind
Healthy choices

Reproductive freedom and rights are integral to a woman’s dignity and independence and are the business of no one else besides each woman and her chosen medical team.

Religions whose leaders or principles restrict the freedom or impinge upon the safety of or intend to demean anyone, inspire divisiveness or hatred, or foment disrespect for non-believers or some members of their own sects because of gender, age, sexual orientation or other characteristics are not to be tolerated any longer and must be ended.

BigotryLifestyle550
image from http://www.patheos.com
Civil and personal rights

Facts are not subject to opinions. No one cares what anyone thinks about facts. Facts are not optional. People who misunderstand, misuse or misguide themselves or others regarding any facts (about the impacts of climate change, the dangers of fracking, etc.) are not to be given any credibility or listened to by anyone with even moderate intelligence.

Tyson quote
Dr. Neil Degrasse Tyson, Ph.D., facts quote

Play time matters. Violence begets violence: video games, TV shows and films, music lyrics that demonstrate/engage users in repeated and frequent incidents of violence (personal, sexual, group) desensitize the viewers/players and generate much more violence overall in the culture. Games/shows that degrade women/girls and depict members of particular ethnic or other groups as “the enemy” or the objects of degradation cause users/viewers to adopt these perspectives and behave badly towards these individuals in actual encounters. Children’s and teens’ time using these games or watching these shows must be curtailed. Bring back more outdoor play, longer and better equipment for recess play indoors and outside. Sports and games that encourage coaches/leaders to discriminate among, exclude or otherwise demean participants or activities in training or play that cause players harm must be changed or stopped.

recess
Play

Excellence matters. Skills, talents, education and intelligence are not all equally distributed or acquired. We are not all the same even though we are to be treated with equal respect. Not everyone wins. Everyone is not equally good at everything. Not everyone can earn an “A.” 49.9% of any group is below average, by definition. Get used to it.

Collaboration matters. Governments, organizations/groups of all types and businesses of all sizes operate more successfully when they utilize collaborative, inclusive engagement rather than hierarchical, exclusionary dominance do better economically, have higher morale, have lower attrition/crime rates and better attendance/participation.

collaboration-background4
image from http://www.cptwebs.com
Collaboration

I could have provided a lot of research URLs to back up each of these claims, but I don’t need to, any longer. They are all true. YOU do the research.

Crush, Harassment, Unrequited Love and Stalking: Which do you know about?

Crush, Harassment, Unrequited Love and Stalking: Which do you know about?

Remember the expression: “mooning over someone?” (circa 1960s)> This described when we have a strong attraction for an oblivious person, one whom we might not even know well. We carry these feelings of yearning inside, in silence, but these feelings are not as invisible as we might believe (or wish), usually.

What about “having a crush”? Do people still “get crushed out” on another person? Usually pre-teens and teens do, but older ones can as well.

crush meme
image from http://www.picturequotes.com

When does unrequited love and its concomitant circumstances, activities and feelings become a crime or a symptom of mental illness?

Can our inner world be measured on some continuum or scale? Is there a set description of behaviors or frequency of actions that forces us to admit we have a problem? When does desire become obsession? When does wishing to be noticed become compulsion?

How many of his/her interests do we take on as our own so that we can be where s/he is “for our own reasons” (sports event, concert, coffee shop, dog show, political rally, nature walk…whatever)? How many times can we “drop by,” drive by, “happen to be” where our love object is/lives and pretend (especially to ourselves) that it is “just a coincidence”?

We think: what if it only takes “one more” for his/her to “come around”? This happens in fiction; can’t it happen for us? How many “secret admirer”-type notes, flowers, emails, texts, other little gifts can we offer or send, leave on someone’s car or doorstep in inbox, before that person feels uncomfortable enough to call the police and get a restraining order?

And, what about the recipient? How many contacts, requests, invitations, gifts does the object of our affect have to endure before s/he can hold up a hand and demand that we petitioners cease and desist? Don’t we each have a right to privacy, inviolate boundaries, being left alone if we so choose?

Have you been on the receiving end of any of this unexpected attention? At what point does it become unwanted to the point of harassment or stalking?

stalker not crush

Are signs of affection and sexual interest able to be labeled officially “unwanted” only after we realize (and then indicate overtly) that we do not reciprocate that person’s feelings and interest?

I ask because two of the main characters in my utopian/sci-fi/romance books in The Spanners Series, Clara Branon and Epifanio Dang, are embroiled in an on-again/off-again, does-he-or-doesn’t-he? (return her affections) multiverse/multiple timelines set of scenarios.

logoAuthorsDen

I wonder if I’m depicting Epifanio’s reactions and position accurately or fairly, or Clara’s persistence as if she’s mentally healthy when, perhaps, she is not. In some of them, Epifanio feels a bit stalked, we find out, but “comes around.” In others, his conversations and encounters with Clara prompt him to discover that he does return her affection (a bit belatedly or surprisingly… to him). In still others, he does not share her feelings.

If you are unlucky enough not to have read even Volume I of my series (This Changes Everything, free ebook on Smashwords, Kobo, iBooks, nook, Amazon; paperback $17.99 on CreateSpace and Amazon) what do you think of some of these real-life examples, below?

1) A well-educated, professional woman is in a high-powered, public position. Her male boss engaged in serial, non-stop harassment: he gave her horrifying, unwanted amounts of sexual interest and attention, and all the while he was married. She let him know right off not to touch her, to stop leaving notes, discontinue his arranging/ asking her to work late and be alone with him, etc., but he didn’t end any of it.

It seems pretty obvious that he violated every law and standard of human decency and scared the living SH*T out of her to boot. Plus, remember: he was already married. Plus, she TOLD HIM that she was completely not interested from the start. Plus, he was her boss. This went on for YEARS.

At one point, she asked for and got a transfer. But, a few months later, he re-arranged entire departments’ configurations to get back into her area and become her boss AGAIN!

She finally had to quit her job (on the advice of her medical provider because this guy and this situation were ruining her health). So, she’s suing for loss of income, mental anguish, being terrorized, etc., and because apparently she reported this to higher-ups and they DID NOTHING.

Clear harassment case, right?

sexual-harrassment-in-the-workplace
image from http://www.xceliq.com

But, what if this had been the other way around?

2) What if the attention, gifts, contrivances to be alone and touch the person at work are mostly (but not exclusively) coming from an underling toward her boss? Rather than a male boss harassing a female employee, what if a female employee begs for attention from her boss? AND, they are both single.

Add these facts: the boss keeps inviting this employee to go to the movies, take walks, eat lunch out together, share many snacks and private conversations, for years. He chooses repeatedly to confide in this employee, but they offically do not “date” or even share a kiss or any sexual contact. However, this boss touches his employees (including this one) frequently (on the shoulder, on the hand, on the head, an arm around a waist or shoulders of both males and females).

Only after the employee makes her feelings known in a letter to her boss does he say “no.” She then stops asking or inviting him further and retreats to professional behavior, but he is clearly uncomfortable from that point on.

What options does that boss have when the employee is otherwise exemplary in her position and perhaps indispensable to a small company? How can that boss claim he was “harassed” when so much of their relationship was completely mutual?

Would not this be labeled a “mutual workplace romance,” just one without the overt sexual element, and one in which—unfortunately for them both—all the feelings were not mutual?

divorcing workwife meme

I think some cases are crystal clear, but others are more murky.

3) What do you think about relationships between consenting adult teachers and adult students, particularly when the student approaches the teacher and is the one asking for affection to be returned?

What if, when the student is checking if the feelings are mutual, s/he finds out they are not? Is the relationship able successfully going to be able to revert to more formal role relationships or is it ruined?

4) What about when peers have unequal feelings: neighbors, friends, colleagues, fellow members of whatever group? What if some or one of these pairs is already in a relationship?

Before we know for sure that our feelings of affection and perhaps love are going to be unrequited, it’s all fine, especially if we haven’t revealed anything and the other person can be ignorant or pretend not to know (yet). Or, is it?

Are other people actually that dense? Do they really “not know”?

To be sure, then, we have to ask. Right? How can we find out our status without asking? Aren’t there countless movies, TV shows, books and other examples from our lives in which the person who knows first about loving the other one “should have said something sooner” because the feelings really were mutual, but both were afraid to say so? A lot of time can be “wasted” by not declaring our feelings, true?

Here is my favorite movie scene (with a song, of course) in which the love revelation is welcomed and the feelings ARE mutual:


or https://youtu.be/rm5MDenG5QY
Russell Brand and Alec Baldwin, “I Can’t Fight This Feeling Anymore,” from Rock of Ages.

Consider, though, when the feelings are not mutual: once we ask about theirs and reveal our own feelings, but we are not “on the same page,” is everything doomed between us? Do things between us become awkward to the point of having a relationships that is impossible to salvage?

crush hearts

Your stories and comments are welcomed here. I’m curious.

“Skills I Don’t Have”: reblogging from Sally Ember, Ed.D.,’s Guest Post on Charles Yallowitz’s site in December, 2015

Thanks to author and blogger, Charles Yallowitz, who was my guest on Episode 9 of CHANGES conversations between authors and is in my Guest Bloggers’ Hall of Fame, for inviting me to be a guest on his site today (12/10/15) which occurs during the week of the release of another in my #scifi (science-fiction)/ #romance/ #multiverse/ #utopian/ #paranormal (psi skills) series for adults/Young Adults and New Adults: Volume III, This Is/Is Not the Way I Want Things to Change, of The Spanners Series, now available in both ebook and paperback formats.

This is also the season of my expanding both Volume I, This Changes Everything, and Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, into paperback formats on #CreateSpace and #Amazon.

Please check below and on my website for blurbs, covers, links and more information as well as #discount codes!

Skills I Don’t Have

Yes, I do have a lot of skills, talents, experience areas and abilities. BUT, there are many I lack and never so obviously as these last two months, as I attempted and finally succeeded in getting Volume III of my science-fiction ebook series to completion, in time for its 12/8/15 planned release date and all three of The Spanners Series‘ first Volumes into paperback format (after not having been able to work on the half-finished draft for over a year or to think clearly or organize appropriately and while still being very slowed down and impaired as well as fatigued from a TBI [Traumatic Brain Injury] in April, 2014).

I had no idea how to approach getting my ebooks (which I had formatted myself [pre-TBI], using Smashwords’ excellent Guides) into print formats for paperback sales. I knew they needed to be reformatted but I had no experience with making that happen.

I also am very limited, even pre-TBI, with layout and desktop publishing: mechanical, physical, graphic art-type skills and software are not my things. I don’t have much experience with Adobe Create Suite and do not own that program. I don’t do newsletters on the newer software and don’t have any art ability whatsoever.

My mottos: keep trying and ask for help.

When it doesn’t work (the first dozen times!), keep trying.

When I can’t figure it out (after days of attempts), ask for help.

Fortunately, I have a great cover artist, WillowRaven, for The Spanners Series’ ebook covers. She and I collaborated on all three of my covers and plan to for the next seven: I provide ideas and some photos; she does the deciding-what-works and the actual art.

I can’t draw.

I can't draw
image from http://designyoutrust.com

Therefore, since I knew from previous conversations that I needed new covers, I started the paperback conversion process by emailing with WillowRaven. She immediately wrote back that I should have told her from the beginning I wanted paperback formats and that it would have been a lot easier/better if she had created those versions first.

Challenge number one. But, that damage was not irreparable, luckily.

From our email conversations and other research I had already done, I realized I needed to incorporate with my own imprint. I next emailed with local writers/ publishing network folks and found out what to do.

It took a few days, but I managed to name, create and start my own imprint, Timult Books, complete with free logo (Thanks, Logo Garden!).

logo_1833057_print high rez  transparent

I then learned how to get (from Bowker) and found out about a huge sale on (thanks for my online network!) my first self-owned ISBNs. Registered Timult Books with the state and Bowker, bought 20 ISBNs at a great discount and was then ready to send the extra materials (blurb, review quote—for the new back covers and “spines”) to Willowraven.

WillowRaven also needed accurate page counts so that the covers would fit correctly. I had never put my ebooks into print before and had no clue how many pages each book was (about 130K words), especially given the new sizing (5″ x 8″) and formatting (mirrored margins, with inner at 1.25″ and the rest at 0.5″). I also found MANY inconsistencies and typos that had to be corrected for each Volume as I reformatted, which changed the pagination as I went along.

Plus, paperbacks require and I decided to add some new pages of “front matter.” Then, I added a new page of “back matter” about the series.

It took me several days and many attempts to get the formatting right on CreateSpace (with lots of help from online forum people, Facebook group members and others: THANKS!)

AND, for whatever reasons, every time my computer went to sleep, the formatting reverted from 5″ x 8″ to 5″ x 7.99″ and changed the margins!!!??? I had to check each time I reopened the document, for each section (there are more than a dozen), to make sure they were correct AGAIN before converting each Volume to a PDF for uploading the new versions to CreateSpace for approval.

So, of course, the first page counts I sent WillowRaven were WRONG.

As were the second batch.

Third time, CHARM.

The three new paperback “wrap” covers were ready very quickly. Thanks, Aidana!

Fail better.

Fail Better
image from http://stuffaverylikes.com

I know a lot about MS Word and use Open Office’s version of it, but there are still many formatting details I’m unfamiliar with and don’t understand. I read many online forum posts, instructions online, etc., and STILL don’t understand some of that (TBI problems, I’m sure).

Why do the page numbers keep changing when I move a page break?
What’s with the “CONVERT” and “NEXT CONVERT” Sections thing?
Why do my running headers not always “run”?
Why does my computer’s “sleep” mode tell Open Office to revert its formatting?

I am IRRITATED beyond description and very impatient by the fourth day of these glitches. But, I persevere. Another good thing for this time period: I’m not around a lot of people.

Incompetent and Annoying.

Incompetent and annoying
image from http://quotesgram.com

I do finally get everything to work well enough to upload and order my proofs. So excited when they arrive, but then I start reading them aloud.

OY, VEY!

SO HUMBLING!

Despite my own and others’ having proofread each Volume, reading each book aloud allows/forces me to notice a ridiculous number of typos, inconsistencies, mistakes and other things that must be fixed on EACH PAGE! I had to use long-form, lined post-its to list each mistake because I had to mark each page multiple times. Every few pages had a post-it filled with edits to be made.

I ended up with hundreds of fixes needed to input in order to complete the revision of each of the books, all to be accomplished without changing the starting page of any Chapter or section (didn’t want to have to change the Table of Contents AGAIN, which I had done by hand since I couldn’t figure out how to have it happen automatically), and WITHOUT CHANGING THE PAGE NUMBER TOTALS!!! (see above)

The space between my skills level and what I needed to get these tasks done on my timetable was growing daily. Also, the TBI-induced fatigue and slowed-down aspects made everything take many times longer than pre-TBI.

Mind the Gap.

Mind the Gap
image from http://www.brillianceflooring.com

Once I had the proofs proofed, I could re-submit them and then they were ready to be sold.

Yeah! It’s happening! I have paperbacks!

I have been hearing from family and friends that “if only you had your books in paperback, I would read them.” Now, I do! So excited!

I emailed and messaged everyone the great news! Now, those without ereaders or those who don’t like reading longer books on them CAN read my books. I even sent them discount codes, specially large, just for my friends and family.

I sat back and awaited the sales to come pouring in (I have a large family and dozens of colleagues and friends on that email list).

Two weeks later: I have sold one book.

ONE.

Nothing can mend a broken heart (except the old BeeGees, of course). And, duct tape.

Duct tape for every repair.

DuctTape
image from http://www.destinationmadness.be

Okay. Perhaps science-fiction novels, especially those that are over 500 pages long, a unique mixture of Ursula K. Le Guin, Tom Robbins, Robert Heinlein, Sherri Tepper and Marge Piercy with a little of Linda Hirschhorn and His Holiness the XIVth Dalai Lama mixed in, aren’t for everyone.

But, ONE sale from all of those who supposedly love/like and support me? That’s close to two hundred people!

I know I have trouble connecting the dots….These kind of tests, below, confound me, even pre-TBI.

Limited Spatial Intelligence.

spatial orientation test
image from http://www.sciencedaily.com

But, even I know what one book sale in two weeks means (week ending December 5, 2015, as I write this post).

It’s too soon! Chanukah doesn’t start until December 6 and Christmas is weeks away!

I come from a family and friendship circle of procrastinators! I am one of only a handful who gets things done early or on time. Really! They’ll start buying/gift-giving soon. I’m sure of it.

Right?

Still learning (at age 62).

Michelangelo still learning


For those who are ready to gift-give and/or add to your own to-be-read lists, here you go:

Three paperback books here.

3 paperbacks

NOW available in ‪#‎paperback‬ on ‪#‎CreateSpace‬ and on Amazon:
This Changes Everything, Volume I, The Spanners Series by Sally Ember, Ed.D., is only $17.99 in paperback https://www.createspace.com/5837347 
and FREE as ebook everywhere ebooks are sold, such as http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HFELTG8   
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/376197

This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, Volume II, is $19.99 https://www.createspace.com/5844431
ebook @$3.99, https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/424969  
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KU5Q7KC

This Is/Is Not the Way I Want Things to Change, Volume III, is $19.99 https://www.createspace.com/5844474
ebook @$3.99 https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/588331
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0177Z1KRM

Happy Holidays!
Go to my website: http://www.sallyember.com/Spanners for book trailers, blurbs, discount codes and more!

‪#‎scifi‬ ‪#‎romance‬ ‪#‎utopian‬ ‪#‎adults‬ ‪#‎YA‬ ‪#‎NA‬ ‪#‎fiction‬ #createspace #selfpublishing #indiepub #indieauthor #formatting #ebooks #paperbacks #TheSpannersSeries #SallyEmberEddAuthor #CHANGES

Advocacy, Entitlement and Knowing When to Complain: The Rights of Poor People

Advocacy, Entitlement and Knowing When to Complain: The Rights of Poor People

If you are new to this blog, you may not know that I was in an accident about two years ago that resulted in a broken nose and concussion as well as other injuries. The concussion was not one of the “good” kind, meaning, I have still not completely recovered.

This deterioration in my health caused me to run through my savings and unemployment benefits in California and have to rely on others. Finally, I am privileged to benefit from my mother’s having space and a generous heart, allowing me to move in with her in St. Louis about 18 months ago.

Missouri, however, is not a great place to live if you are indigent. This post is the third in a series about my experiences here. This third one is on poor people’s rights. The second was on food for indigent people in Missouri (published February 16, 2016, http://wp.me/p2bP0n-1BL). The first one was on health care (published February 9, 2016, http://wp.me/p2bP0n-1By).

This post is important because it looks at the underlying issues that make a difficult situation (being poor) worse or better for each person. The intersections of perceived or claimed race/ethnicity, perceived or claimed gender, perceived or claimed social class, perceived or claimed age, home/best language, physical and mental health and (dis)abilities, perceived or claimed religion, perceived or claimed sexual orientation, and economic status in the city of St. Louis, Missouri, USA, in the mid-20teens, can adversely influence, improve or neutrally affect one’s experiences every moment.

“Intersectionality” is an important part of understanding how poverty impacts each person and family differently. Therefore, in this series, I need to bring in the politics of social identity. We all have to learn to address these overlapping oppressions and unfair treatments to help ourselves understand how everything is NOT actually “equal” regardless of the similarities in two people’s incomes.

intersectionality
Intersectionality includes all of these components of one’s social identity.

It’s not “all good.”

It doesn’t have to be this way.

It ISN’T what it IS “naturally”: people and then institutions run by people make things this way and create/perpetuate systems that keep them this way.

Missouri is one of the worst places to be if you’re poor, but it’s not even the worst by any standards. Your experience all depends on the other components of your social identity. If you’re believed to be a white male, seemingly in good health and able-bodied, perceived to be heterosexual, assumed to be Christian, speaking mid-Western-accented English like a native, have at least some college education and otherwise seeming to be a USA “mainstream” guy between the ages of 25 – 65, you are going to be much better treated and fare better even when you’re poor than if you do not claim or cannot pull off having others believe you have all or any of those social identities.

If you’re also not a felon, have a place to live (a legal address) and (the use of) a car, you’re probably not going to be poor for very long.

Unless you’re obese. Unless you’re smelly. Unless you’re an addict. Unless you’re perceived to be “not one of us” in whatever way “us” is defined: then, you’re in some trouble. But, even with those cards stacked against you, as a poor assumed-to-be-white & -Christian with some education who speaks adequate English and can pass for straight and male and under age 65, you’re still going to be better off than anyone who isn’t.

no isms allowed

Change one aspect—gender—and things automatically get much worse. Change two—ethnicity/race and gender—and you’re doomed.

Check this out, from Everyday Feminism, June 20, 2015 by Carmen Rios “These 5 Statistics Prove That We’re Feminizing Poverty (And Keeping Women Down in the Process)” http://everydayfeminism.com/2015/06/feminizing-poverty/
— “Despite the overall poverty rate declining in America, 18 million women remain below the poverty line.”
—“Women are poorer than men in every state, regardless of education or geographic location. And for women of color, elderly women, and LGBTQIA+ women, it’s even worse.”
—“The poverty rate for Native American, Black, and Latina women is almost double the poverty rate for white women.”
—“For women, and especially women of color, the fight to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 or $15 is very personal—and could be the difference, for them, between barely surviving and finally thriving.”
—“…over a lifetime, women lose an average of $434,000 to the wage gap.”
—“One of the most important aspects of intersectional feminism is the understanding that when we fight for the most marginalized women, we liberate all women along with them.”

And, from other sources (see below) that add in education and other factors to race/ethnicity and gender with income levels:
—“White households take home between $10,000 to $20,000 more per year than their Black counterparts in every age bracket”
—“Enrollment in ‘high poverty’ schools for Black children is 41 percent, 38 percent for Hispanic children, 31 percent for American Indian/Alaska Native and a mere six percent for Whites.”
—“Even when Black and minority children attend mixed schools, they are more likely to be tracked into remedial or basic classes while their White counterparts take advanced, honors level courses.”
—“70 percent of students arrested or referred to law enforcement for school-related infractions were Black or Latino.”
—“While people of color only comprise about 30 percent of the US population, they account for 60 percent of those imprisoned.”
—“There is no such thing as unbiased, unpolitical education.”
—“People with ‘Black’ or ‘ethnic-sounding’ names are less likely to get callbacks for interviews.”
—“Blacks are more likely to be born into poverty and are less likely to escape it.”
—“Whites are 2-3 times more likely to make it into the middle class in their lifetimes compared to their black counterparts.”

poverty-is-violence
from http://iamarevolutionary.wordpress.com
Poverty IS violence. It has to stop.

Find a well-vetted nonprofit that advocates and works to end poverty and understands intersectionality and contribute, volunteer, blog about their work! Here is one: http://www.results.org/

Good news! We made this mess; we can clean it up.

Mandela quote about poverty
Nelson Mandela, Audre Lorde, Martin Luther King, Jr., Angela Davis, Gloria Steinem and so many more have spoken out about the nature of the human-made elements of our social and political systems and the oppressions they systematize.

WE are the ones who must advocate, complain, recognize that we are entitled to better and that so is everyone else, and ACT!

—Do not sit by and watch passively when others are mistreated, disrespected, unfairly scheduled or managed, especially when you are in any position of better privilege: it is your DUTY to advocate whenever you are able.
—Write letters, blog, make phone calls, picket, march, show up and let those in power know you are not satisfied with the “status quo.” Be specific.
—VOTE! It is your DUTY and responsibility as a USA citizen who can vote (if you are one) to use that right in EVERY election. It is the LOCAL elections that most affect people who live near you, and regional and state office holders who make laws that affect us all. Federal elections matter, too, but not as obviously or as immediately.

WIN_20141104_095753 I VOTE! And, as of early March, I am working as a election-day supervisor at a local polling place!

—THEREFORE, do not ignore bond issues, council and mayoral elections, county positions, state office holders’ elections and only vote on presidential ballots. ALL VOTES MATTER!

Want to know more? Have a read:

From October, 2015, inGenere.it: “Intersectionality. Putting together
things that are often kept apart” by Jeff Hearn
http://www.ingenere.it/en/articles/intersectionality-putting-together-things-are-often-kept-apart

From February, 2015, NPR: “Study: Black Girls Are Being Pushed Out of School” by Karen Grigsby Bates
http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2015/02/13/384005652/study-black-girls-are-being-pushed-out-of-school

From February, 2015, the the Frisky: “18 Things White America Needs To Reconcile To Truly Become Colorblind” by Tiffanie Drayton
http://www.thefrisky.com/2015-02-26/18-things-white-america-needs-to-reconcile-to-truly-become-colorblind/

If you appreciated this series, please reblog/share it, comment, ask to be a guest blogger and contribute your own point of view or write on a related topic: http://www.sallyember.com

This third post was on advocacy and intersectionality (published on February 23, 2016, http://wp.me/p2bP0n-1C2).
The second was on food for indigent people in Missouri (published February 16, 2016, http://wp.me/p2bP0n-1BL).
The first one was on health care (published February 9, 2016, http://wp.me/p2bP0n-1By).

Food Stamps and Food Issues for Poor People in St. Louis

Food Stamps (SNAP, EBT) and Food Issues for Poor People in St. Louis

If you are new to this blog, you may not know that I was in an accident about two years ago that resulted in a broken nose and concussion as well as other injuries. The concussion was not one of the “good” kind, meaning, I have still not completely recovered.

This deterioration in my health caused me to run through my savings and unemployment benefits in California and have to rely on others. Finally, I am privileged to benefit from my mother’s having space and a generous heart, allowing me to move in with her in St. Louis about 18 months ago.

Missouri, however, is not a great place to live if you are indigent. This post is the second in a series about my experiences here. This one is on food for indigent people in Missouri. The first one was on health care (published February 9, 2016, http://wp.me/p2bP0n-1By).

This post is about the government-subsidized “food support,” formerly called “Food Stamps,” now called “SNAP” for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

snaplogo

What makes Missouri so bad for poor people? For one thing, this state is very Republican-dominated. Despite many of the speeches given by congressional and senatorial representatives from this party, their votes speak loudly: they keep lowering the amounts poor people can receive in all types of assistance and have repeatedly voted to reduce food support. This state also still calls its program “Food Stamps,” but adds “SNAP” so people will know what it is. http://dss.mo.gov/fsd/fstamp/

Missouri’s unfortunate and lethal combination of machismo, arrogance, obstinacy and ignorance have caused millions of Missourians who cannot afford to buy sufficient amounts or types of food for themselves and/or their children to go without food, especially near the end of each month’s benefits period (the food money runs out). Not only are the benefits woefully and abysmally low, even at their highest levels, they arrive in one lump at the beginning of each monthly period. Even the best budgeters can’t make insufficient funds last throughout a month.

“Missouri is among states where legislators this year have considered bills that would curb welfare benefits” and continues to demonstrate its disdain for the poor, blaming the victims and putting economic pressure on the weakest of us to try to shore up the state’s failing budget. The Democratic Governor, Jay Nixon, vetoes these bills, but then the “representatives” usually have the votes to override his vetoes. On it goes, this heinous battle for who can sink the lowest first. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/04/missouri-welfare-restrict_n_7209458.html

Missouri and other state SNAP programs are now in the computer age. SNAP currently issues a debit-type card to recipients which is an EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer) unit that looks a lot like any other debit card. I’m sure this has alleviated a lot of the embarrassment many users had previously felt when producing their pink paper food stamps at the grocery check-out line. Now, we kind of “blend in,” putting our card through the same reader everyone who uses credit or debit cards uses to make our payments.

SNAP to health
from http://www.snaptohealth.org

Except when we don’t. Most times, even when I tell the register operator that I am using an EBT for SNAP, they punch in the wrong codes and it doesn’t work. Or, they do it correctly, but neither of us knows exactly how much the receipt total will be for until the card is used (SNAP card users get to avoid paying the tax on food that others pay). Worse, there is no way prior to being in the check-out process for a user to know exactly how much is left on the EBT to use.

Here is a typical process for me.
—I get in line (can’t use the self-service machines for EBT/SNAP)
—I put my food on the conveyor
—I get to the card reader while the register operator is still scanning my food so that I am sure to mention to him/her that I am using SNAP
—S/he nods or otherwise acknowledges that I told him/her this (important to get confirmation: they often do not hear me or don’t know what I mean)
—I put my EBT card through the reader.
Hopefully, it reads my card correctly (doesn’t always) and
—I press the right buttons (always confusing, since the buttons are arranged differently in every card reader I’ve seen, so far: not always using the same colors designating the choices or putting the choices in the same position)
—We get to the end of the food scanning
—S/he presses whatever buttons (not always correctly) to accept my EBT card as payment
—I either do or do not have sufficient funds on the card to pay for this amount of food (which I only know at this point)
—If so, we proceed and I am done
—If not, we have to start over with the reader, putting only the amount I actually have into the register operator’s process to take only that amount from my EBT
—Then I have a choice: pay in cash or use a debit card (if I have the funds) for the rest, or put the rest of the food back/don’t take it home.

I think it’s obvious that this process is not quick, or at least, not as quick as using cash or a debit/ credit card. When the lines are long, I dread getting into one because these “delays” cause impatience to arise in those in line behind me. I have a fairly thick skin, so to speak, so I don’t care about how impatient people are. We all have to wait, sometimes.

However, others do care about others’ opinions, so it makes many SNAP users anxious to go through the check-out process, as you can well imagine. Many times, when I was more flush, I gave the SNAP users in lines ahead of me some money when their EBT cards were shown to carry insufficient amounts for the entire purchase and the users clearly didn’t have any cash or funds to cover the rest of the food.

Confession: I was less likely to offer money when the purchases of the SNAP user seemed “frivolous” or “junky” to me. Awful judgment call on my part and really, none of my business. But, at the time, I felt quite high-and-mighty, telling myself I was “doing them and their kids a favor” if they didn’t get to bring home that sugary or salty treat. Why, I wonder now, does anyone believe we suddenly have the right or ethical duty to pass judgment on someone’s food purchases simply because they’re poor? We leave all the horrible choices of the middle- and upper-class to themselves, so why do we believe we are entitled to assess those of the poorest among us?

News flash; poor people are not stupider, less informed, less competent or any other judgment the better-off can levy just by being currently without enough money. Money does NOT make anyone smarter, more informed, competent or anything else, automatically. We all know plenty of wealthier people without a clue, don’t we?

In other horrible news, SNAP makes us “re-qualify” every year even if our benefits are for a two-year period. This means recipients are able to be—and, in my case, I was—penalized if we earn even a little bit of money. My SNAP benefits were reduced by half (and were insufficient to begin with) when I reported that I had earned some income from freelance proofreading/editing and doing occasional childcare, even though the total earned was less than $1000/month and more often, not even half that. Look at the chart below for how low these monthly benefits are for an entire month and picture this: you have ONLY this amount to pay for all food for 4.3 weeks (30 – 31 days):

Family size: 1 2 3 4

Maximum benefit level: $155 $284 $408 $518

So, if you’re math-impaired, consider these actual figures:
—the individual SNAP allotment comes to about $36/week, or $5.14/day per individual.
—For a family of two, it comes to $33/week/person, not even $4.70/day, which is LESS per week than if you’re on your own.
—For a family of three, usually one parent and two children, they get only $32/week/person, which is $4.53/day per person!
The larger the family, the less the family gets per person.

What is the logic, here? That kids eat less than adults? Incorrect, unless they’re under 7 years old.

Or, maybe they live in a fairy-tale land, in which they believe larger families can buy “in bulk.” Well, that only works if a family has enough money in hand to purchase the larger amount of chicken or rice or beans, which they often would not have, since the total amount provided by SNAP and workers’ wages is insufficient. When a family doesn’t have enough money to buy food, how can anyone buy MORE food per grocery visit?

Doesn’t work.

Over the last 2 years of my own experiences as a poorer person but one who has many resources others do not have (a great and safe place to live, family members to help me, a car, higher education and advocacy skills, among the best) and seeing these SNAP figures, above, I understand the motivation that spurs poorer people to become criminals just to make ends meet. Why the hell not?

I’m not advocating a life of crime, but I certainly can empathize the reasoning better, now.

When our government fails to support those in the most need, what are the needy supposed to do?

Meanwhile, some help is better than none. How can people get fed, then?
—If a family has young children or the mother is pregnant, that mom and kids can also get further food support (very restricted, but food and juice, nonetheless) from WIC (Women and Infant Care) and (minimal) cash from TANF (Temporary Aid to Need Families, formerly known as “welfare”).
—If one is disabled and/or a senior, one can get Social Security disability and/or retirement benefits to supplement these paltry SNAP monthly allotments.

For basic SNAP information and links to your state’s SNAP website: http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program-snap

Good news! Many health food stores, farmers’ markets and alternative grocery stores now accept SNAP.

we accept SNAP

However, the poorer among us face an entirely different problem that I personally don’t experience (that good fortune is due to my being able to live with my mom). Those who live in “high-poverty” areas now often inhabit regions that have become what are known as “food deserts”: because the larger chains and independent grocery stores refuse to locate or stay in these neighborhoods, there is literally nowhere to go grocery shopping. If you live in a “food desert,” you are screwed. Bad enough that you already have less means (no car, no money for gas), horribly skimpy SNAP funds and little time (those who do have jobs work hourly and must show up on time and leave when they’re scheduled to leave, period). You now are somehow also supposed to travel great distances (often when there is no viable public or any public transportation, so how are you going to accomplish that?) to get to a decent, fairly priced grocery store or to get anywhere that sells any fresh food at all.

People who live in “food deserts” can sometimes purchase food that is close to where they live, but it is usually from “convenience” stores or gas stations’ stores. Their “food shelves” and “hot bars” are typically stocked with low-nutrition, high-fat, high-sodium, high-sugar, deep-fried or microwavable, high in “empty” (simple) carbs, over-priced options only: no fresh fruit, no fresh vegetables, not much good protein, almost no complex carbs and very few choices that are even close to being healthy.

YOU might be able to help change this! https://www.dosomething.org/facts/11-facts-about-food-deserts Help populate “food deserts” with good food sources and/or bring better public transportation to these areas.

And, just when you thought things couldn’t get much worse, now it’s 2016. SNAP recipients between ages 18 – 49 stand to lose what little SNAP benefits we do get if we aren’t working “sufficiently,” but more of us than ever still need SNAP and many cannot work or work “sufficiently.”

Want to know more? Have a read:

From January, 2016, Cleveland.com: “Over 1 million face loss of food stamps over work requirements”
http://www.cleveland.com/nation/index.ssf/2016/01/over_1_million_face_loss_of_fo.html

From January, 2016, American Enterprise Institute: “Are SNAP benefits really too low?” by Angela Rachidi
https://www.aei.org/publication/are-snap-benefits-really-too-low/

From February, 2016, the Times-Picayune of Greater New Orleans: “Despite ‘recovery,’ more Americans using food stamps, at a higher cost”
http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2016/02/despite_recovery_more_american.html

Next in this series, February 23, 2016: Advocacy, Entitlement and Knowing When to Complain: The Rights of Poor People http://wp.me/p2bP0n-1C2

This second is on food for indigent people in Missouri, published on February 16, 2016, http://wp.me/p2bP0n-1BL.
The first one is on health care, published on February 9, 2016, http://wp.me/p2bP0n-1By.
The third post is/was on advocacy and intersectionality, (to be) published on February 23, 2016, http://wp.me/p2bP0n-1C2.

My Experiences with being Indigent in Missouri: County/Federally Funded Clinics

My Experiences with being Indigent in Missouri: County/Federally Funded Clinics

If you are new to this blog, you may not know that I was in an accident almost two years ago that resulted in a broken nose and concussion as well as other injuries. The concussion was not one of the “good” kind, meaning, I have still not completely recovered.

This deterioration in my health caused me to run through my savings and unemployment benefits in California and have to rely on others. Finally, I am privileged to benefit from my mother’s having space and a generous heart, allowing me to move in with her in St. Louis about 18 months ago.

Missouri, however, is not a great place to live if you are indigent. This post is the first in a series about my experiences here. This one is on health care for indigent people in Missouri.

What makes Missouri so bad for poor people? For one thing, this state is very Republican-dominated. Among other horrors, this means its idiotic legislature refused to approve the expansion of Medicaid in 2013, 2014, 2015 or 2016 for the new USA health care systems (Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare”) that some other states, like California, were smart enough to utilize.

Missouri’s unfortunate and lethal combination of machismo, arrogance, obstinacy and ignorance have caused millions of Missourians who cannot afford even the minimal payments (over $200/month plus co-pays, for me) to be without any health care or insurance if we are not over 65 and/or disabled or under 18, because these the only groups Medicaid and Medicare cover in Missouri at this time.

St. Louis is somewhat Democratically dominated, which means some of its legislators and leaders applied for and received federal and state funds to create a health insurance “work-around,” called “Gateway to Better Health.” https://www.stlgbh.com/programoverview

GBHLogoAlt5

They are quick to tell us that this is NOT an insurance plan because it is not “portable” excerpt for emergencies, and even then, not so much. What it does do is entitle its few qualified users to avail ourselves of its paltry network of federally qualified health care clinics located within St. Louis County and surrounds.

The closest clinics in these networks to where my mom lives are minimally (with no traffic) about a 30-minute drive in any of three directions, and only one houses the pharmacy (the furthest one, of course). I chose the one that was “closest,” which is about 28 minutes from our condo. It is in Ferguson.

Yes. That Ferguson.

Despite having been only a few months since the demonstrations, riots and protests surrounding the murder and announcement of the appalling lack of indictment of the murderer of Michael Brown, I decided to utilize this clinic solely because of its location. However, I didn’t understand until I got there that Ferguson is very spread-out, geographically. This clinic is not located close to the site of any of the disturbances. Even so, this clinic has an unarmed (at least, no visible gun) guard. I found out later that all the clinics have guards; the pharmacy has two.

Prior to this set of experiences, my only contact with federally qualified health care clinics had been as a volunteer reception clerk/translator for the Jewish Community Free Clinic in Sonoma County (no guards) in the mid-2000’s which served many farmworkers and other newly arrived immigrants with little English and no health insurance, and as a co-writer of a grant to start a regional clinic in southwestern New Mexico in the early 2000s (which was funded and is still running but which I never visited because I moved to California before it opened). I had never been a patient in such a clinic before 2014.

Here are some of my experiences as a patient, 2014 – 2016, in the Betty Jean Kerr People’s Health Center on West Florissant, in the city of Ferguson, and the main BJK PHC clinic in St. Louis city on Delmar Boulevard (to access the pharmacy). http://www.phcenters.org/

Some are positive, many negative, some neutral.

Let me start by saying I am grateful for many aspects of this stop-gap health care coverage (NOT insurance), such as:
—- to have access to three necessary prescription medications at no or low-cost (the BJK PHC pharmacy does not carry my alternative thyroid medicine, even though CVS does)
—- to have a clinic to go to when I need to check on my health status for chronic conditions (hypertension, hypothyroid)
— to have regular blood work done and reviewed to make sure my medications are the right dosage and are working (hypertension, hypothyroid; very nice and competent phlebotomists whom I found out are NOT clinic employees but located on site from another agency; the internist never discusses my results with me at the time and rarely provides any follow-up from these results until three months later, so what is the point of that?)
— to get a referral from my “primary care doctor” (whom I saw four times, then switched away from because he was awful) to a neurologist to continue my care and get further diagnoses/prognoses for the after-effects of the concussion/Traumatic Brain Injury (very useful)
— to have another colonoscopy procedure (I turned 60 in 2014, and since my grandmother had died of colon cancer, I was supposed to have had my second check-up last year but had missed it due to having moved and having had no health care for a while) (thankfully, clear)
— to have a biannual mammogram (thankfully, clear, but the technician was rough with me and cut my skin which caused a stubborn infection that took months to heal)
— to have a triannual pap smear and gynecological check-up (thankfully, all clear as well, but with an awful ob/gyn who insulted me and treated me disrespectfully; won’t be seeing her again; see below)
— to have a dental check-up and cleaning (thankfully, no problems) up to twice a year (I have gone twice but the second visit was horrendous and did not result in my having services; see below)
— to have a clinic to go to when I need to check on my health status for acute conditions (which I haven’t done and probably would not use it for, since I use homeopathics and herbs for most viruses and infections).

Here is the main problem: this clinic (and probably many others like it) are health care “mills.” They get reimbursed for procedures, not time. If doctors order blood work, diagnostics that require machines or surgery to provide the data for the diagnoses, like urinalysis, the clinic gets paid for each component. If they just talk to a patient, very little money comes to them.

So, guess what?

These doctors order a lot of unnecessary diagnostics:
annual X-rays for dental patients even when we don’t need or want them and national and regional guidelines do NOT recommend having X-rays every year any more for anyone without serious dental problems that require them (I do not have any serious problems, luckily); they would not give me an exam, a cleaning or a polishing of my teeth because I refused to allow X-rays 12 months after the first set were done
blood work every three months to “qualify” me for my prescriptions even though the results are NOT used to determine whether I receive them nor what dosage to provide for me; I cannot get my prescriptions refilled unless I submit to these blood tests
urinalysis every three months even though I have no symptoms and have had none for problems that these diagnostic could analyze and I never hear about the results then or later; however, patients are not allowed to use the urinalysis rest room while still in the waiting area, and because many of us need to use the rest room while we are waiting for our appointments (which are never on time), we therefore, can’t provide a usable sample by the time we are called
annual mammogram (which I will not do that frequently, since biannual or triannual are now recommended for my age group and health status) and annual pap smear (ditto) when national and global guidelines do NOT recommend doing these so often for any women without history of cancer
X-rays for muscular problems which show nothing, since X-rays cannot show muscles well; my former internist insisted I get an X-ray prior to getting any other diagnostics when I told him I was having pain in the muscles and nerves of one hip; my bones are fine and have been for many decades, but he wouldn’t listen to my patient-provided information at all (another reason I ditched him); then he “forgot” to order the other diagnostics for six more months (two more visits; another reason I switched internists last fall)

Is it relevant or irrelevant that I was one of only two Caucasian-looking people in the entire clinic— staff and patients included—for all of my 10 visits, to date? FYI, the actual population of St. Louis County, demographically (2010 and updated census) is: 70% “White,” 24% “Black,” about 4% “Asian,” 3% “Hispanic,” and about 1% “other.”

How significant is it that I have to wait more than 20 minutes every time I go, even when my appointment is supposedly the first one scheduled? For about 5 minutes or fewer per visit with my internist, I have to be at the clinic for over 2 hours, mostly waiting: between blood work and being seen, urinalysis and being seen, nurses checking my vitals and being seen, etc. Who, besides those who are under- or unemployed or on salary (and wouldn’t be here, then) has time for this insult to our value?

The doctors I have seen are almost without exception disrespectful to the patients: they don’t listen to or regard the information I provide with careful consideration.

For example, even when I told him I had no interest in getting any unnecessary medications, even for pain, this internist insisted on putting unnecessary and unwanted prescriptions into my record and making those recommendations in a print-out they gave me after each visit (which I did not fill).

Worse, the ob/gyn doctor was mean-spirited in her language (which I won’t repeat here) when describing my genitals and tried to scare/threaten/shame me into getting an unnecessary procedure. Luckily, I am informed and I remembered what my previous ob/gyns had told me about my body, so I felt fine about ignoring her, but what if I hadn’t been so fortunate?

Third, and what prompted this blog post, the dentist was horrible. This dentist insisted that I get X-rays. I told her that I didn’t need or want them after only one year since the last set and that the current guidelines agreed with me. She then adamantly refused to clean or examine my teeth if I did not agree to having these unnecessary X-rays. She claimed this was the clinic’s “policy,” but when I asked to see this supposed policy in writing, she refused to provide it. She then went to get the guard, who threatened to call the police if I didn’t immediately leave. According to him, even though this was during my appointment time, this dental chair was “needed for another patient” (!?). I told them both I was not leaving until they showed me this X-ray requirement in writing.

They started yelling. I yelled back. Despite my lack of fear and not feeling intimidated, I w