#DoYou10Q? Rosh Hashona through Yom Kippur, September 18 – 28 (#Jewish New Year High Holidays), Read, Respond, Review, Forecast

#DoYou10Q? Rosh Hashona through Yom Kippur, September 18 – 28
(#Jewish New Year High Holidays), Read, Respond, Review, Forecast

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.

This year, the group running this event (http://www.rebooters.net/) has offered new, #pandemic-related questions AND the usual questions. Here are the new ones, with their explanation, to get you thinking:

Dear 10Q-er:

In this moment when we are facing a time that most of us never have seen before, we are gearing up for our annual ritual of reflection. It has never felt so important to pause and reflect on ourselves and the world around us. With that weighing heavily on us, we have added daily supplemental questions to this year’s 10Q to capture our experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. See the new questions below.

Question 1 – Describe an experience from before the COVID-19 pandemic that may now feel like it belongs to another world entirely. When you think about it, how do you feel?

Question 2 – What was your main New Year’s resolution or personal goal at the beginning of 2020? What do you think of that goal now? Does it still seem relevant? Does it seem trivial? Does it seem distant?

Question 3– How has the COVID-19 pandemic experience affected your relationships with your family members, near and far?

Question 4 Have you been recording your thoughts and experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic? If so, how?

Question 5 – Has the COVID-19 pandemic led to any spiritual moments of significance for you? (“Spiritual” can be broadly defined to include secular spiritual experiences: artistic, cultural, and so forth. Something that brought you a sense of Awe)

Question 6 – As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, what is one thing that you find yourself reassessing in terms of the future? (For example, personal relationships/ your relationship with money / with Work / with technology/ the media / body image / with your kids/ family members)

Question 7 – As society reopens and you reemerge, how would you like to see society shifting in the coming months? Or would you like it simply to go back to the way it was pre-COVID-19 pandemic?

Question 8 – Is there something (a person, a cause, an idea) that you want to investigate more fully as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic?

Question 9 – Since the COVID-19 pandemic began what is your greatest fear? What is your greatest hope?

Question 10 – Six months from now, do you think that you’ll look back on the time before the COVID-19 pandemic and feel irrevocably changed, or do you think you’ll return to the person you were before? Which changes do you hope remain? Which do you wish will disappear?

Bonus – What’s Your Six-Word Memoir on Life during Coronatime?

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 18 through 28, 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 18, 2020, and goes for 10+ days
http://doyou10q.com/


Here are my responses to some of the 11 questions (same questions each year, with added questions in 2020, above), from 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015 and 2014:

2019

They lost my answers!

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!

#Polyglot Report and Opinions Wanted, Please

#Polyglot Report and Opinions Wanted, Please:

—I learned enough #Latin to translate and read it (but only for about 1 year about 53 years ago…) and have some knowledge of transliterated #Greek and Latin words, names and roots of English.
—I used to be fluent in #Spanish and still know a lot;
—I used to be able to converse in #Italian and transliterated #Yiddish and still know some of each;
—I know some #French and #German;
—I was raised reading and reciting transliterated #Hebrew;
—I recently learned to read and speak/understand actual #Sanskrit and actual and transliterated #Tibetan (I used to be able to read and write in Tibetan, but not translate well and haven’t kept it up);
—I am excellent in #English (American) and have some facility with British, Australian and other forms of English as well.

Score: 10 languages experienced, some in depth

polyglot image

What should be next?
Improve a foreign language I already “have,” or learn a new one during this #quarantine?

Why?

Comment/suggest below, please (at http://www.sallyember.com/blog or on Facebook, with your own polyglot report!

Do you #10Q? Starts this weekend!

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.

<P ALIGN = CENTER>10Q+Banner 2018

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 9 through September 19, 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 hereto get your 10Q on.

10Q begins September 9, 2018, and goes for 10 days
http://doyou10q.com/


Here are some of my responses to the Questions, from 2017, 2016, 2015 and 2014:

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!

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

“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.

REPOSTING: A #Jewish #Buddhist for the #Christmas/ #Chanukah/ #Solstice/#Kwanzaa Season

REPOSTING, from 2016, with some minor changes: A #Jewish #Buddhist for the #Christmas/ #Chanukah/ #Solstice/#Kwanzaa Season

Christmas and I are not friends. We are not even good neighbors. I was raised Jewish in predominantly Jewish neighborhoods, school systems, summer camps and other social encounters. This made me an outsider in an insider world every December.

win_20160822_092924

Despite about 75% Jewish population in our local public schools, the relentless Christian-ness of the USA permeated. Most of our teachers and all of the school administrators were not Jewish. Therefore, we Jewish students were forced to learn and sing Christmas carols alongside our Christian classmates every year in music classes and choirs in our classes and assemblies. I mouthed but would not sing songs with lyrics like “Jesus, our God,” or “Christ, our King.” I refused to “celebrate,” but I would go along as required.

I hated it.

All of my childhood and most of my young adult life, I also hated Christmas. I hated the trees, the lights, the candy canes, and, especially, the incessant carols on muzak almost everywhere we went. I hated the silly fashion and accessory affectations (reindeer hats, Santa sweaters, elves in snow globes on chains, fake snow on windowsills) and the massively wasteful appropriation of space and time every December. This extravaganza has gotten worse over the decades, now beginning prior to Hallowe’en and including some year-round “Santa Villages,” “Christmas” stores and such.

Appalling.

I-Hate-Christmas-272x480

Christian adults still post and say ridiculous, ignorant things to me and other non-Christians, like: “Christmas isn’t religious; it’s American.” And, “It’s not a Christmas tree. It’s a holiday tree.” Or, my personal favorite, “You can celebrate Christmas and still be Jewish. I know lots of people who do!”

I belong to several authors/writers groups online and in person, and without exception, they are filled with eager, interesting people. Except, at Christmas. Then, they devolve into ignorant, unaware bigots who claim things like: “If we call it a ‘Holiday’ sale instead of a ‘Christmas’ sale, we’ll get fewer hits on Google”; and, the most appalling, “We did it your way last year. This year, it’s a ‘Christmas’ sale/program/event.”

The most insulting? “You are included if you feel included. Your choice.”

For every kid who feels oppressed by the pervasive and invasive Christmassification of everything for almost two months every year, it’s difficult to separate hating the holiday-ness from despising the people who rightfully celebrate it. I often did/do not succeed in making that distinction. I breathe a sigh of relief every December 26.

keep-calm-christmas-is-almost-over-2

Yippee!

I celebrated the Solstice for a few years. We were tentatively friends, paganism and I. I even created a Solstice “advent” calendar with thirteen paper strips as “rays” of the sun to be unfolded, one on each of the thirteen days prior to December 21. I liked this because each “ray” jad written on it a quality or positivity we wanted to affirm or invite into our lives. That was fun and interesting, and I liked the symbols and intention, but Solstice and I did not remain friends, either.

Winter Solstice

For about twenty years, after our son was born, we—my son’s Christian (Episcopalian-raised)/Sufi and somewhat Muslim father and sometimes members of his family—celebrated a kind of Christmas, usually when at one of their homes.

For two years in the late 1980s, when I worked as the Director of Religious Education for the local Unitarian Universalist “Church,” I/we “celebrated” several December holidays, including Kwanzaa. i even went to church and sang Christmas carols and enjoyed it a little, holding a lit candle and the whole shebang.

Mostly, I hostessed Chanukah parties for my mostly Christian friends and half-Jewish son (not Jewish at all, except by birth). and and then my Jewish/fake Mormon/Buddhist female partner. I did this primarily because I liked to make and eat Chanukah food and give presents. Also, my mom (bless her) mailed (from Missouri) a huge box every year after our son was born that had eight gifts for him and many for us (some were small, like a pair of socks, but still: very welcomed!). So, we needed a way to spread out the opening of these and other gifts so he wouldn’t be overwhelmed and not appreciate any of them properly. I created and shared an English lyric about visualizing miracles to be sung when lighting the Chanukah candles (since the religious parts of the Jewish holidays and I parted ways when I was about ten years old) for each of the eight nights.

latkes

I tried to make Chanukah mine. It only kind of worked, and only for a while (mostly for the years that our son lived in my house or was visiting for the holiday). But, since it wasn’t an authentic, deep relationship, Chanukah and I gradually drifted apart.

Partly, this drift occurred because I became a Buddhist. That made “the holiday season” even more irrelevant. I not only stopped celebrating Christmas, but don’t do much with Chanukah or Solstice any longer, either.

Each fall, when I can afford it, I buy some gifts for friends and family members (honoring whatever they celebrate), and wish people well for whatever they celebrate. But, I also try to keep to myself on the actual days of these holidays, since they’re not “mine.” I really do not celebrate or believe in them.

I do not miss these holidays. I do not feel left out. I do not feel angry. I do not feel deprived, alone, or otherwise sad or depressed. These just aren’t my holidays. I view them with slight amusement and a keen detachment over the last fifteen years, as if I were visiting from another culture (which I kind of am).

This year it is a little more difficult to escape both major holidays because Chanukah and Christmas are coinciding on the calendar: Christmas Eve is the first night of Chanukah and it ends on New Year’s Eve for the first time, ever, in my life. I don’t have much money, but I do want to buy some gifts for loved ones and this is as good of an excuse as any to do so.

I’ve gone through despising, hating, avoiding, celebrating, enjoying, participating, encouraging, hostessing, attending, bowing out to relinquishing December holidays over my six+ decades. I’m quite happy, now, taking the parts I like (mostly some good food and a few songs, gift-giving and receiving, days off) and ignoring the rest.

Buddhist December

Please don’t take it personally that I don’t participate in or celebrate any holidays in the fall “holiday season” the ways you do.

Enjoy your holiday(s). Really.

Just don’t impose them on me. And, by the way, I hate Capitalism, for real.

frabz-christmas-christianity-capitalism-118408

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.

#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

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!

1 out of every 8 USA adults has 4 or more #ACEs (Adverse #Childhood Experiences)

It is estimated that 1 out of every 8 USA adults has 4 or more #ACEs (Adverse #Childhood Experiences); MOST people have at least one out of 10 ACEs. “An ACE score is a tally of different types of #abuse, #neglect, and other hallmarks of a rough childhood. According to the Adverse Childhood Experiences study, the rougher your childhood, the higher your score is likely to be and the higher your risk for later #health problems,” including #cancer, #hepatitis, #heart disease, #diabetes, #hypertension, mental illness, frequent sicknesses of other kinds (e.g., “auto”-immune diseases), COPD (obstructive breathing problems), #addictions and #allergies, and many other problems.

These effects are due to the bodies’ stress response system’s being on overload, chronically and continuously (adrenalin, cortisol), which can screw up one’s immune system. The symptoms can show up immediately (childhood #asthma, skin #rashes, #ADHD and other “behavior” issues, including #eating disorders) and throughout one’s life, especially after age 40.

Children who live with/are exposed to conditions that put them under extreme #stress, repeatedly, have our brain structures altered forever, developing abnormal #hormonal and #immune systems, and affecting the ways one’s DNA is read and transferred (so, ACEs influence current AND future generations).

More facts and anecdotes are in this podcast, Hardwired, including info about the genetic connection to personality traits and other significant science about our biology’s and environment’s interdependent influences. Listen to that and more here–the same page as other archived shows is linked to: http://www.npr.org/programs/ted-radio-hour/archive

Want to see or take the ACEs quiz? http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/03/02/387007941/take-the-ace-quiz-and-learn-what-it-does-and-doesnt-mean


I responded “yes” for 9 out of 10 ACEs.

Unsurprisingly, my health has been “compromised” or difficult all my life. Oddly, though, I consider myself “a healthy person with particular problems that are /have been mostly under control,” mostly because they haven’t completely prevented me from many types of success.. Some problems have gotten worse after I suffered a TBI/concussion 3.5 years ago (which we know now also adversely affects one’s immune system, among other consequences. I have many blog posts about this in 2014 – 2015, at http://www.sallyember.com/blog). Some ongoing health issues have been worsening with age (I am well over 40). I have, however, never been addicted to anything even though that “runs in my family.”

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The majority of the people who have scored over 7 out of 10 ACEs have been/are still incarcerated, living with severe mental or physical illnesses, or are already dead by my age. I am one of the few luckier ones who isn’t in the worst situations.

This “luck” is probably due to my having had many positive conditions, some self-selected:

  • 1) since age 17, been meditating daily;
  • 2) always making sure I have regular exercise;
  • 3) many positive older teens and then adults were in my life during the most stressful years;
  • 4) lots of individual and group counseling/ therapy during and since undergraduate years in college;
  • 5) access to thousands of books (Yay to public libraries!) and excellent, advanced education and training (including in self-care and mental/social health);
  • 6) some good family support;
  • 7) education/experiences with music, the arts, summer camp;
    and,

  • 8) great friends.

For more information about resources and prevention as well as the original research on ACEs, visit the USA’s CDC (Center for Disease Control)’s website: https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/acestudy/index.html

Which Celebrities Would Have Gone/Did Go to Virtual/Actual High School with You?

Which Celebrities Would Have Gone/Did Go to Virtual/Actual High School with You?

My cohort includes those born between about 1951 – 1957 (our “high school” had only grades 10, 11, 12 in the building), those who would have been/were in high school in the USA between 1968 – 1972.

Imagine us all in one building during one of my four years: sitting together at the same lunch table, being on the same teams, dancing at proms, singing in choirs, acting in plays, studying together and attending the same classes, sharing bus rides, going to pep rallies and games, getting high together, dating, arguing, ignoring each other and perhaps, remaining friends.

It is entertaining to imagine, isn’t it?

By “celebrities,” I mean that these are people who have:

  • been on the covers of national magazines and/or featured speakers/presenters at national/international events/conferences;
  • won national or international awards or positions of great importance;
  • invented/started something significant;
  • wrote/starred in/produced something significant in the way of art/music/books/movies/plays;
  • achieved a high level of renown in their chosen field;
  • are known by many others as “great” in their field;
  • been stars of series TV shows and/or featured on popular talk shows;
  • are known by and hang out with other celebrities.

These individuals encourage(d) me by their example, inspire and motivate me to be better, dare to dream bigger, do and try things I might not have, and enjoy life more. I am proud to “be” with them on my virtual or actual campus.

First, the famous people whom I know/knew personally:

D. Scott Bassinson, J.D., one of my first serious boyfriends and long-time friend, is an Attorney who has argued at the USA Supreme Court, now a Judge and always, a Musician/Composer. It is due to Scott and his brother, Kevin Bassinson (also a celebrity)’s resignations that I became Ladue High School’s rehearsal and performance accompanist and a professional accompanist for musicals, choruses and performances. http://www.albanyjazz.com/musicians/scottbassinson.html

scottbassinson

Karen S. Raskin Kleiman, MSW, LCSW author of several books, founder of The Postpartum Stress Center, and leading researcher in Postpartum Depression and its treatments (featured on many TV talk shows, including OPRAH, in magazines and websites), was my award-winning partner in Duet Acting, for which we won 4th place for the state of Missouri and first or second in many local and regional competitions in 1971-1972. http://postpartumstress.com/karen-kleiman-msw-lcsw/

Karen Kleiman

Rich Rubin, journalist, playwright, Founder/Producing/Artistic Director, Quince Productions and GayFest! (Philadelphia), was my first piano-playing duet partner under Deborah Rosenblum in the early 1960s, and we graduated from Ladue together in 1972. “Rich Rubin has written about travel for over twenty years now. He’s thrilled to be back in touch with the team behind ManAboutWorld, having been an early contributor to OUT&ABOUT. He has served as travel editor for Genre and is currently Food and Wine editor for Passport Magazine. His stories have appeared in Saveur, Caribbean Travel & Life, Bride’s, Modern Bride, Travel & Leisure, and many other publications. In his copious free time, he is Producing Artistic Director of Quince Productions, which produces Philadelphia’s only LGBT Theater Festival, GayFest!. He serves on the board of the Philadelphia Gay Tourism Caucus.” http://www.quinceproductions.com/about.html

R Rubin

Craig Pomranz, singer, recording artist, live cabaret performer, children’s book author of Made by Raffi, was another one of my high school “more than friends” that I’m still in touch with and regard highly. http://craigpomranz.com/

Raffi cover

Dr. Alice Conway, J.D., Ph.D., AB ’76, MA ’79, JD ’83, PhD ’83, is a trained vocalist, fluent in multiple languages (including Braille), and a trusted commercial and employment attorney for Monsanto. She holds four degrees from Washington University and is a committed volunteer and donor. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FeXcPa4bAV4attorney and philanthropist, blind since aged three, first blind Board Chair of the The St. Louis Society for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Alice and I had many classes together in junior and senior high school.

Alice Conway

Dr. Michael Green, M.D., Ph.D., Professor at UMASS Medical Center in Gene Function and Expression, Director of the Cancer Center since 2015, the recipient of the Searle Scholar Award, the Presidential Young Investigators Award, and the McKnight Neuroscience Award and Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. “Michael R. Green received his MD and PhD degrees from Washington University School of Medicine in 1981. He was awarded a Helen Hay Whitney Postdoctoral Fellowship to perform postdoctoral work at Harvard University in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. He became a faculty member in that department at Harvard in 1984, where he remained until he joined the Program in Molecular Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in 1990. He has been the recipient of the Searle Scholar Award, the Presidential Young Investigators Award, the McKnight Neuroscience Award, and in 1993 was invited to deliver a Harvey Lecture. In 1994, Dr. Green was made an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.” Michael was my second serious high school boyfriend and I went to the first college I attended partly because he was there (sorry, feminists). I knew his little brother, Eric, as well (see below). http://www.umassmed.edu/news/news-archives/2015/04/michael-green-appointed-director-of-umass-cancer-center/

Green

Dr. Eric Green, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, recipient of numerous awards and author of many scholarly articles. https://www.genome.gov/27535200/director-eric-d-green-md-phd/

Eric Green

Joel Meyers, longtime sports broadcaster (currently play-by-play announcer of the New Orleans Pelicans of the National Basketball Association). Joel and I went to school together from Kindergarten through high school, but we weren’t exactly friends. Host of Above The Rim, weekdays from 10-1pm ET, Joel is a multi-time Emmy award-winning broadcaster with over 25 years of experience that includes calling games for both the Lakers and the Spurs on TVas well as the St. Louis baseball Cardinals (our home team). Joel is a graduate of the University of Missouri.

Joel Meyers

Fran(ces) Ginsberg, Opera Singer (deceased) with the New York City and Spanish operas before her death several years ago sang in our high school’s Chorale (select show choir) and annual musicals. I accompanied her solos. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frances_Ginsberg

Fran ginsberg

And, of course, my brother, Dr. Jonathan D. Fleischmann, M.D., MMS, FACS,

jonathan
a urological oncologist who has created/patented medications, usages and surgical techniques in his field for decades. “Dr. Fleischmann received undergraduate, graduate and medical degrees from Brown University. During residency training at Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, he was a National Kidney Foundation Fellow specializing in kidney cancer research. Between 1985 and 1992, he was on faculty at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, during which time he was admitted as a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. In 1992, he joined the Albert Einstein College of Medicine faculty as the chief of service at the Weiler Hospital division and director of urologic oncology. In 1997, he entered private practice in the Bronx and has maintained a continuing interest in specialized cancer care, particularly of the prostate, kidney and bladder. He has privileges at Montefiore Medical Center Hospitals, Westchester Square Medical Center, Calvary and Morningside House.” https://www.google.com/patents/US5145859

Want to see more about some of these Ladue alums and more? In 2012 (the year of my 40th high school reunion), Ladue held its 60th “Distinguished Alumni” Awards Ceremony and it is on YouTube: http://bit.ly/10vTEaP

From Camp Hawthorn (the St. Louis Jewish Community Center Association’s Missouri Ozarks overnight camp, until 1969):

Sheldon Mirowitz (also from Ladue Schools), soloist musician, producer/arranger and sideman, professor at Berklee College of Music in Boston and conductor/arranger of the Berklee Silent Film Orchestra (which tours!), film and TV composer, winner of awards at the Sundance Film Festival and other accolades for his music, including three Emmy nominations and one Peabody Award. I met Sheldon in 8th grade at camp and then we we re-met in high school and have been friends ever since. https://www.berklee.edu/news/berklee-silent-film-orchestra-has-secret-weapon

Sheldon

Chuck Blitz, became independently wealthy in the first dot.com boom and turned that to opportunities to be a philanthropist, environmentalist, social/environmental activist, particularly in the Santa Barbara, CA, area; with Ram Dass and the White Lotus Foundation, he has been doing ecological, social community and world service—SEVA—programs and yoga teacher training), and recently, he is an author http://biography-ebooks.com///693266/five-years-in-five-months. I went to camp with Chuck; his sister, Judy (“Jay”) was my first counselor, but he and Glenn Savan were/are my brother, Jon’s, age, so we weren’t really friends.

Glenn Savan, (deceased in 2002), author of White Palace, a semi-autobiographical novel turned into the film in 1987, starring James Spader in Glenn’s role and Susan Sarandon as the love interest, using the local “White Castle” hamburger joints as the setting. I knew Glenn from camp, but we weren’t exactly friends. http://www.nytimes.com/2003/04/17/arts/glenn-savan-49-the-author-of-white-palace.html

White Palace

Colleges and New England living (University of Wisconsin/Madison and University of Bridgeport/Connecticut (undergrad) and University of Massachusetts/Amherst (graduate)

Dr. Rahima Wade, Ph.D. (deceased, 2012), almost single-handedly brought “service learning” into public schools in the 1990’s. She also introduced me to the idea of returning to school as a parent of young children and we both attended UMASS/Amherst at the same time. I first met her in Keene, NH, since we belonged to several of the same community groups. http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/recorder/obituary.aspx?pid=156772652

Rahima

Dr. Mary Kalantzis, Ph.D. http://education.illinois.edu/faculty-finder (b 1949, so an “age outlier,” really, but I include her because of her husband, Dr. Bill Cope, Ph.D. (b. 1957) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Cope_(academic) . Both are Professors, authors/researchers in Multicultural Education and Workplace Diversity globally. I met them when Mary came to Keene State College in New Hampshire as a Fulbright Scholar from Australia in 1990-91 with her husband and colleague/co-writer, Bill, and son, Philip. I traveled with my then-partner to visit them in Australia in 1996. Mary and Bill are now at the University of Illinois/Champagne, where she has been the Dean of the College of Education, until recently.

Mary and Bill

Dr. Caroline Myss, Ph.D., best-selling author, speaker, medical clairvoyant, teacher. I met Caroline in 1983 in New Hampshire and we became close friends, seeing each other almost weekly until she moved to back to Chicago in 1992. Since then, we stayed in touch, sporadically, but she travels internationally and is unusually busy even when she “lands” somewhere. She mentions me and our friendship in several of her books’ dedications/acknowledgements. https://www.myss.com/

caroline_sitting

Other notables from the Antioch/New England Graduate School in Keene, NH: Faculty members/authors/ researchers, David Sobel, Rick (Youst) van der Poll,

From Camp Med-O-Lark (in Washington, ME)

Bari K. Willerford, actor in the National Deaf Theatre and star of MathNet children’s TV show on PBS as well as continuing to appear in many other TV series, movies (American Gangster) and TV episodes. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0929780/bio

Bari

Allegra Broughton and Sam Page, singers/songwriters, musicians, founders of Solid Air, members of The Wild Catahoulas, also play/have played in many other duos and bands. Solid Air has many great CDs available. http://www.solidairmusic.com/bio.html

Solid Air

Dennis Hadley, musician, singer, member of The Hot Frittatas, The Wild Catahoulas, also plays/has played in many other duos and bands, including Gator Nation. Legally blind since birth, Dennis is one of the best accordion players and enthusiastic vocalists in northern California. http://www.gatornationband.com/about/about.html

Dennis

From Chagdud Gonpa, my Buddhist Community (Sangha):

My teachers, Lama Padma Drimed Norbu (born Alwyn Fischel, known as Lama Drimed) and Lama Padma Shenphen Drolma (born Lisa Leghorn, known as Lama Shenphen), who are also authors and Buddhist scholars. They and I were students of Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche before his passing in 2002.
Iron Knot Ranch, on the border of Arizona and New Mexico near Duncan, AZ, is led by Lama Shenphen: http://ironknot.org/about-iron-knot-ranch/
Lama Drimed teaches in California and Oregon and works from his home in the Bay Area, guiding students.

CTR

Among our sangha members whom I know personally are several authors, but only one is in my cohort, that I know of: photographer/teacher, Cary Groner. http://www.carygroner.com/

Exiles-210

Now, all of these (still living) celebs can brag that they know ME!

Next, the celebs I only know from afar:
Athletes I paid attention to and admired…
Chris Evert (whose brand of tennis shoes I wore proudly during the years they were available, which coincided with the years I played tennis, myself, albeit mediocrely.

Cathy Rigby and Olga Korbut, who inspired me to become a gymnast, but injuries sidelined me in 10th grade. Oh, well.

Mark Spitz, a great swimmer( before Michael Phelps was even born!).

Dorothy Hamill (figure skater, actor), , who inspired millions to skate.

Theatre/Music Folks I noticed all along, whom I wish(ed) I could have (had) lunch with at least once… (culled from this list, first, from “my” class, 1953 & 1954 birth years starting on these pages: http://www.imdb.com/search/name?birth_year=1954 and http://www.imdb.com/search/name?birth_year=1953 ), then from 1952 http://www.imdb.com/search/name?birth_year=1952, and 1955 http://www.imdb.com/search/name?birth_year=1955, http://www.imdb.com/search/name?birth_year=1956, http://www.imdb.com/search/name?birth_year=1951, and http://www.imdb.com/search/name?birth_year=1957

These are listed alphabetically by first name, but I considered grouping them by “lunch table,” according to what combos would make for great conversations with/around me….Cool idea, huh? YOU do it!

Adam Arkin
Al Franken
Al Roker
Alfre Woodard
Alfred Molina
Amy Heckerling
Amy Irving
Andy Garcia
Angela Cartwright
Anjelica Huston
Annette O’Toole
Annie Lennox
Annie Potts
Barry Williams
Bill Maher
Bill Nye
Bill Paxton
Bill Pullman
Billy Idol
Bo Derek
Bob Saget
Bonnie Tyler
Bruce Hornsby
Bruce Willis
Callie Khouri
Carol Kane
Caroline Kennedy
Carrie Fisher
Catherine O’Hara
Chaka Khan
Charlaine Harris
Cheryl Ladd
Chris Carter
Chris Cooper
Chris Noth
Chrissie Hynde
Christine Baranski
Christopher McDonald
Christopher Reeve
Corbin Bernsen
Crystal Gayle
Cyndi Lauper
Dan Aykroyd
Dana Delaney
Daniel Day-Lewis
David E. Kelley
David Morse
David Sedaris
Debby Boone\
Debra Winger
Delta Burke
Dennis Quaid
Denzel Washington
Desi Arnaz, Jr.
Drake Hogestyn
Ellen Barkin
Ellen Greene
Elvis Costello
Eric Roberts
Eve Ensler
Frances Fisher
Frances McDormand
Freddie Prinze
Gary Cole
Gary Sinise
Geena Davis
Geoffrey Rush
Glenne Headley
Gloria Estefan
Griffin Dunne
Harry Hamlin
Harvey Fierstein
Howard Stern
Imelda Staunton
Isabella Rossellini
J.K. Simmons
Jackie Chan
Jane Kaczmarek
Jane Seymour
Jay North
Jean Passanante
Jean Smart
Jeff Daniels
Jeff Goldblum
Jerry Seinfield
Jim Belushi
Jimmy Smits
Joan Allen
John Goodman
John Mellancamp
John Travolta
John Turturro
Jon Lovitz
Jonathan Frakes
Judith Ivey
Judy Davis
Julie Taymor
Karen Allen
Kate Burton
Kate Capshaw
Kate Mulgrew
Kathleen Turner
Kathy Najimy
Katie Couric
Kelly McGillis
Kelsey Grammer
Ken Burns
Ken Olin
Kenny G
Kevin Costner
Kevin Pollack
Kim Bassinger
Kim Catrall
Kirstie Alley
Kurt Russell
Laura Branigan
Laura Innes
Lauren Koslow
Lena Olin
LeVar Burton
Liam Neeson
Lisa Niemi
Lori Singer
Lucie Arnaz
Luther Vandross
Lyle Lovett
Lynda Carter
Lynn Whitfield
Mandy Patinkin
Margo Martindale
Marilu Henner
Marina Sirtis
Mark Hamill
Mark Harmon
Marta Kauffman
Mary McDonnell
Mary Steenburgen
Matt Lauer
Maureen McCormick
Mel Harris
Melanie Griffith
Melanie Mayron
Melissa Manchester
Michael Bolton
Michael Clarke Duncan
Michael Keaton
Michael Moore
Miguel Sandoval
Mimi Rogers
Nancy Cartwright
Nathan Lane
Nicholas Guest
Olivia Hussey
Oprah Winfrey
Orson Scott Card
Pam Dawber
Pamela Sue Martin
Parker Stevenson
Pat Benatar
Patricia Hearst
Patricia Kalember
Patricia Richardson
Patricia Wettig
Patrick Swayze
Patty Smyth
Paul Reiser
Peter Gallagher
Phil Collins
Pierce Brosnan
Reba McEntire
Rene Russo
Richard Kind
Richard Schiff
Richard Thomas
Rick Moranis
Rita Rudner
Rita Wilson
Robby Benson
Robert Gossett
Robin Williams
Ron Howard
Roseanne Barr
S. Epatha Merkerson
Sandra Bernhard
Scott Bakula
Sela Ward
Shari Belafonte
Spike Lee
Stellan Skarsgard
Stephen Fry
Sting
Susan Dey
Thomas Newman
Tim Allen
Tim Daly
Tim Gunn
Timothy Bottoms
Timothy Busfield
Tom Hanks
Tony Shalhoub
Tovah Feldshuh
Treat Williams
Vanna White
Wendy Crewson
Whoopi Goldberg
William Petersen
Yanni
Yvonne Elliman

And, some age “outliers” I would invite to my high school cafeteria table (or beg to go to theirs…):
Holly Hunter (b 1958)
Jamie Lee Curtis (b 1958)
Cybill Shepherd (b 1950)
Billy Joel (b 1949)
Jessica Lange (b 1949)
Meryl Streep (b 1949)
Sigourney Weaver (b 1949)
Sissy Spacek (b 1949)
(WOW! Look at the class of 1949!)

I love the idea of running into these folks from my cohort in some virtual hallways, study halls, parking lots, playing fields, locker rooms and classrooms of “our” high school, getting together for a class reunion (45th is coming up for me this year), and being able to chat with them (even if they’ve already passed).

Who are in YOUR cohort?

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.

Another tale of terrible customer service from #YouTube: Why do we allow it?

Some of you may know that #YouTube “flagged” and “removed” CHANGES conversations between authors‘s 51st Episode’s title and description for what would have been my upcoming Hangout On Air (HOA) live video three weeks ago and

changes-theme-image_3

By the way:

Watch conversations with my previous *CHANGES* guests any time: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLPbfKicwk4dFdeVSAY1tfhtjaEY_clmfq
Learn more about and get yourself or recommend someone to be scheduled as a guest: https://sallyember.com/changes-videocasts-by-sally-ember-ed-d/

But, wait: it gets worse! YouTube then suspended my livestreaming privileges, funneling me into what could have been a three-month-long “appeal” period, FOR NO REASON. YouTube’s ridiculous ‘bots claimed I violated their Terms of Service with a Copyright Violation (completely false).

screenshot-48

screenshot-49

That was called my “first strike.” Apparently, if a creator gets three of these, YouTube’s insane ‘bots summarily shut down the creator’s account, permanently.

I finally heard back from YouTube, after complaining on Twitter and elsewhere for three days straight and seeking advice on YouTube and HOA fora for 3 weeks. I received a notice that I am no longer “suspended,” but (see below) it displays horrible customer service.

I am flummoxed and need advice. Please weigh in!

I was advised before publishing this post to “let it go” because “YouTube has over 500 hours of video uploaded every minute” and can’t possible vet it all with humans. And, to let it go because “nothing I say will change anything.”

Wow! YouTube/Google has BILLIONS of dollars and can’t hire enough staff to run their sites properly? Boo hoo. Hire more people, Google! You can afford it. Better than alienating your customers, if you care (obviously, they do not!).

Both hinted at possible retaliation if I made any noise.

Screw that. I’m a make-noise kind of person.

So, my major complaints are these:

1) This YouTube “team member” who wrote this mostly form-letter email offered:
—no apology
—no explanation of what the “violation” was presumed to have been consisting of
—no way to tell why my set-up actually got flagged
—no information on how to prevent getting flagged in the future, and
—no statement of YouTube’s clearing my account of “strikes.”

But, I checked, and there are now no strikes!

screenshot-52

2) This entire fiasco was all YouTube’s fault: I never violated any Terms of Service! But, they still inserted their standard, not-so-subtle, victim-blaming paragraph in this email.

Because this was THEIR MISTAKE, why do they not remorsefully announce that they are removing this bogus “first strike” from my creator’s account tally? They DID do this….

bad-youtube

3) But, contrary to the wording of this email, below:
—there WAS NO CONTENT TO BE FLAGGED
—this video never streamed, therefore
—there was nothing to be “taken down,” BUT
—my original title and description exist, but with no video and no way to re-activate it that I can see!

screenshot-53

4) How (and with what) did anyone (human or ‘bot) “review my video”?? For what?

5) And, how do I set it up (again) and have it work, this time?

Apparently, since this happened as I was attempting to complete and save my set-up page, this unstreamed video was flagged for its title and description, during set-up! However, I used almost the exact same wording I have used for the previous 50 Episodes of my talk show, CHANGES conversations between authors, as before. Even if it had streamed, there is no “copyright” violation possible. Each Episode is always just I and one author talking about our own work and general topics. period.

6) How can YouTube be run by crazed ‘bots and idiotic, irresponsible humans who apparently have a policy to “shoot first, ask questions never”? Why do they have a policy and process that presumes guilt and offers no timely recourse or explanation when they are wrong.

presumed-guilty

Why do we users/creators put up with this?

7) And, given all the problems HOA hosts/users have been having with the new (since 9/12/16) YouTube-only-HOAs as detailed in a Google+ tech group I subscribe to, I’m reluctant even to try to set up this or any Episode any time soon.

You decide if I’m overreacting and how best I should respond. Send your comments to this website http://www.sallyember.com/blog on this post or email your suggestions directly to me: sallyember AT yahoo DOT com Advice welcomed, because I am steaming mad and likely to do/write things I regret all over social media right now. Thanks!

Here is YouTube’s “you may now get out of jail” email, unedited:

Hey Sally,

I’m reaching out on behalf of the YouTube Creator Support team to connect regarding your live streaming issue.

It looks as though live streaming was disabled due to some of your content being flagged and taken down. We count on our community members to know our Community Guidelines and to flag content they believe violates them. We review all flagged content quickly, and if we find that a video does violate the guidelines, we remove it. Occasionally, a video flagged by users or identified by our team is mistakenly taken down. When this is brought to our attention, we review the content and take appropriate action, including restoring videos or channels that had been removed. In this case, we were able to review your video and get it reinstated, as well as reinstated your live streaming capabilities!

Thanks so much for bringing this to our attention and should you ever have any additional questions or issues, please feel free to reach out the Creator Support team here.

Take care,
TEAM MEMBER’s name withheld
Partner Operations Manager
creator-support@youtube.com

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!

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!

#Buddhist #meditation Mini-#Retreat at Home: Report from the Homefront

#Buddhist #meditation Mini-#Retreat at Home: Report from the Homefront

May 27 – May 30, 2016, all-day, four-day mini-retreat at home: YIPPEE! Did it! First one since my TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury)/concussion/broken nose/hurt eyes in April, 2014; first one in St. Louis. [I called it a “mini” retreat because I usually did at least three weeks’ and up to 11 weeks’ retreat, prior to this.]

I offer this post as a description and explanation for newbies and the curious, but I do not discuss the details of my practice with anyone but my teacher and fellow practitioners.

SCHEDULE:
A typical meditation schedule consists of Tüns (meditation/practice sessions) segmented by meals, breaks, exercise, sleep and personal hygiene time. When we do individual retreats, often we set our own schedules. I modeled this summer’s mini-retreat schedule mostly on the same schedules I followed while on individual retreats at the main meditation center (Rigdzin Ling in northern California), and at my residences in Silver City, New Mexico, and Santa Rosa, Sebastopol and Hayward, California, 1999 – 2014.

Home Mini-Retreat Schedule 2016

3:30 – 4:15 AM— Wake up, ablutions, etc.
4:15 – 5:30 AM— First Tün (meditation/practice session)
5:30 – 6 AM— Breakfast
6 – 10:30 AM— Second Tün (with two ten-minute breaks)
10:30 – 11 AM— Lunch
11 AM – 12 PM— Third Tün
12 – 1 PM— Nap (during first third, usually; see below). Otherwise, Fourth Tün
1 – 3 PM— Exercise (swimming/driving to and from) with moving meditation for 35 minutes while swimming
3 – 5 PM— Fourth/Fifth Tün
5 – 5:30 PM— Dinner
5:30 – 8 PM– Fifth/Sixth Tün (with one ten-minute break)

Total meditation time: about 11-12 hours/day, so about 40 hours (I ended before dinner on May 30).

LOCATION:
When I was fortunate enough to be at RZL, I often sat on a cliff overlooking a pond, river and mountains in the distance, above the main buildings of the center. For other types of practices, meditators prefer or must be indoors or even in a cave or place of complete isolation and darkness for most of the time.

Many people doing the dzogchen Tibetan Vajrayana practice of awareness (rigpa) meditation, trek chöd, as I do, prefer to sit where we have an unbroken view of the sky.

man sunrise meditatiion
NOT what my home retreat looked like at all, this year

There aren’t many cliffs and sky views near where I now live, in St. Louis, Missouri, USA, and I didn’t want to spend a lot of time driving to a spot at which there would be no food, no bathroom, no easy place for this mostly injured body to sit, and no place to swim. Hence, a home retreat. I could almost see the sky, sometimes. I could see trees, bushes, a street and parking lot. Didn’t matter at all. I wasn’t involved with any of it. We keep our eyes open for this type of meditation, but with a “soft focus,” not paying particular attention to anything while noticing everything.

living room retreat spot 2016
Where I did most of my sitting practice: on the living room couch, learning against these cushions on the left, looking out the glass doors of the patio/deck to the right.

WHAT WE DO and DO NOT DO:
We also hear, smell, feel everything. We are not “checked out,” if we are practicing successfully. We are fully awake while doing our practice, sitting in oneness—in awareness (rigpa, Tibetan)—as often as we are able. We return to this awareness every time our attention wanders. That is the practice of trek chöd (Tibetan), in the simplest terms.

For this type of meditation practice, in retreat, practitioners usually don’t recite mantras, pray (except at the beginning and end of each retreat or even each Tün, if we want), use our malas (Tibetan prayer beads on a string, predecessor of the Catholic’s rosary), chant, visualize, play ritual instruments, enact stories, light incense, fill/offer water bowls, open our shrines or speak. Our practice is stripped-down to sitting and breathing.

The entire retreat is usually conducted in strict silence, which means that we make no eye contact when we do encounter people and we do no talking, writing, reading, or any other communicating (when necessary, we use “functional speech” only). We put away and turn off all cell phones, computers, communication or writing/reading/viewing devices of all kinds. We don’t write letters or answer the phone unless we are in a longer retreat during which we must communicate with family, friends, colleagues, neighbors occasionally to reassure them we are all right or respond to something urgent.

When we are fortunate (and/or wealthy), we have someone to “serve” our retreat: they shop for, prepare and serve our meals, sometimes even cleaning up for us, leaving us free to meditate for more time each day. That is part of the wonderful service that active meditation centers often provide retreatants. Sometimes, though, during non-busy times, when I was at the center, I still had to cook and clean up after my own meals, but I didn’t have to shop.

For home retreats, I have to do it all myself. I manage that by cooking a great big pot of soup and another big amount of something I can dole out each day for my two main meals and then have something small (a bowl of cereal, e.g.) for dinner.

Eating lightly at night is important for me, anyway. During a sitting and silent retreat like this, unlike the more active ones, our appetites get smaller and smaller as the retreat progresses, so we need less food.

THE RETREAT COMMITMENT:
It is important to make a firm commitment to one’s retreat by scheduling the entire period in advance and sticking to it. It is also important to make a daily schedule and adhere to it. Many also maintain/take a vow of celibacy to maintain during retreat (no sex or sex acts); some do not.

We all abstain from intoxicants (recreational drugs, alcohol) during retreat. If we have taken Layperson’s Buddhist Vows (or Five Main Precepts), as I have, we also never get intoxicated/inebriated. I don’t drink or use drugs, anyway, but for many meditators, retreat boundaries include that they refrain from engaging in the use of these substances during retreat.

Even if we get sick, someone dies, and/or there are other seemingly significant events that occur, we strive not to break our retreat commitments. Unless it is to save our own or someone else’s life or involves getting medical care to restore our health so that we can practice better afterwards.

It is important to let our friends, family and neighbors know, especially if we are doing a home retreat, that we won’t be answering phones or responding to texts or emails, for example, during these times/these days so they don’t worry. That way, we prevent someone from getting “wrong view” about meditation/meditators (e.g., not understanding our commitment, they think we are rude, unkind, insensitive, unless we communicate to explain).

We do not waver from this commitment or break our silence for any reason. These commitments and guidelines are called “retreat boundaries.” At the risk of generating “static” and negativity for our next potential retreat, we do not leave the grounds of a closed retreat (the “cloister”) or end our retreat prematurely. Some teachers give dire warnings about practitioners’ breaking boundaries that will result in creating negative future retreat karma, but I don’t like responding to threats. I maintain commitments because I want to do it.

Making and keeping these commitments strengthen the practitioner’s practice foundation and create/maintain a strong “container” for successful meditation practice. I feel good when I keep my chosen boundaries.

This time (or for any other home retreats), I did not have a completely strict, cloistered retreat: just isn’t possible. I drive to and from the pool, shop on the the first day for food and cook when necessary (more often on longer retreats). I also responded to a few communications from people who didn’t know I was in retreat and/or to reschedule things I had forgotten to reschedule. But, mostly, I did keep the strict retreat boundaries and commitments.

THE RETREAT EXPERIENCE:
Buddhist teachers talk about the entire retreat’s span of time as being divided roughly into three parts: “getting in,” “being in” and “rising out.”

“Getting in” is the first third. During this, we acclimate to being on retreat, letting go (sometimes slowly, sometimes more readily) of our daily concerns, activities, personae, thoughts, obligations and settling in to the schedule.

We always “open” our retreat with setting our intention and reaffirming our motivation and with gratitude, with prayers and thanks to our teachers. Usually, other directions are given to us in advance by our teachers.

Sometimes, we make offerings and/or have a ritual feast and prayers (tsog). Sometimes we continue our daily practices for the first day or so. Sometimes we do some preparatory readings (from teachings, notes, books) to remind us of the practice we are about to engage in and how to approach it.

Frequently, a lot of tiredness manifests early in this first third. If so, it is recommended that we nap a lot, recovering from the stress and strife of our usual lives’ demands. The peace, quiet and low-key nature of retreat bring us to a recognition of how exhausted and depleted we have gotten. Extra sleep is then necessary to restore ourselves and to be able to practice better for the rest of the retreat.

The middle third is “being in.” By then, accustomed to the schedule, needing fewer or no naps, we are ready and eager to practice for each Tün. We know what we are doing, we are glad to be doing it, it’s working as well as it will. Depending upon how long this period is and how quickly we are able to dive in, we can get very deeply immersed or only partially, but this is the main part of our retreat’s practice time. Whatever signs of accomplishment we may get usually begin to show up in this portion.

The last third is “rising out.” Sometimes gradually, sometimes more quickly, our minds and bodies begin to leave the depths and rise to the surface, preparing us for returning to our daily lives. For longer retreats, we spend part of this time still in retreat and the last part of it again in practices of formal gratitude. We “close” on the last day with offerings and/or a ritual feast and prayers (tsog), and dedicate the merit (the blessings and benefits of our practice) to all beings.

For the last day/hours or so, we are actually not still in retreat, exactly, but beginning to engage again in the more “ordinary living” aspects (whatever we haven’t been doing and must return to, such as driving, doing laundry, talking/communicating again).

We often don’t realize how deeply we are “in” until we begin to “rise out.” When we have been in a strict retreat for more than a few days, this gradual “return to duties” is very important for safety and acclimating to ordinary life. Otherwise, we can get into serious trouble or even accidents if we go back too suddenly to our busy, complicated home lives and schedules.

WHAT’S NEXT?
We usually meet with our teachers during or after our retreats (when we are so lucky as to be able to do that), to “offer our retreat experience” to the Lama by telling him/her about our experiences, insights, possible signs of accomplishment and/or knowledge acquired/applied successfully. We also bring questions, problems, concerns and “stuckness” that occurred during our retreat to this same meeting (or whenever we next meet) so that we may request guidance and answers from our teachers.

Usually during these meetings or subsequent ones, we get instructions, guidance for the next period of our practice, assignments/options for reading and/or attending live or video teachings. We might even schedule our next retreat(s).

I didn’t get to meet with my teacher at the end of this retreat, but I did see him for a private interview just last month, so I feel very blessed.

HAVING A MEDITATION TEACHER:
Tibetan Buddhists stress the importance of meditating under the guidance of and with instruction from a qualified meditation teacher. I completely agree with this. It is not sufficient to talk with other meditators, read books, listen to teachings on video or audiotapes or in person and then put ourselves into retreat and get ourselves out and go back to our lives.

Without a teacher who is more experienced and qualified to teach and guide us to listen to our experiences and direct our practice, we are certainly running the risk of there being a lot we will miss, misunderstand, misinterpret or just plain get wrong.

There are many qualified teachers in many parts of the world, now. I have put live links to some of them, above, when listing my teachers or main center. There are listings of some centers in Buddhist magazines, websites and other places online.

If you are not lucky enough to have found a teacher with whom you work well or you don’t live close enough to any teachers or centers who host visiting teachers, keep looking/trying. It is well worth the effort.

Where are the Buddhists Around Here?
There are several centers who host qualified teachers in the St. Louis area and throughout the Midwest, of all Buddhist traditions. Very close to where I now live is a Tibetan Buddhist practice group that includes some people who have met some of my own teachers and who use some of the same practice texts that I do. There are two others groups that are “cousins” to my lineages/practices and some of those people have also met some of my teachers and share some practices with mine. Khentrul Lodrö T’hayé Rinpoche‘s main center, Katag Chöling, is about a six-hour drive from here, in Arkansas. These are listed, below:

Blue Lotus Dharma Center somewhat eclectic, mixed Tibetan Vajrayana and Chan (Chinese Zen) practices Blue Lotus Dharma Center
Do Ngak Chöling Tibetan Nyingma Vajrayana Buddhism http://dongakcholing.org/
Katag Chöling Khentrul Lodrö T’hayé Rinpoche‘s main center, https://katogcholing.com
Kagyu Droden Kunchab—Saint Louis, Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism, http://www.kdkstl.org

MY TEACHERS:
I am beyond-words grateful to my teachers.

Lama Drimed
My beloved Buddhist teacher, Lama Padma Drimed Norbu (Lama Drimed), about 2012

Whatever I was able to accomplish from this mini-retreat or any other part of my practice was entirely due to the blessings, teachings, support and care from my dear teachers, particularly Lama Drimed and the late H.E. Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche (photos above and below), as well as my mom (in whose home I now live), other Lamas, especially Lama Shenphen Drolma and Khentrul Lodrö T’hayé Rinpoche, and sangha (spiritual community of fellow practitioners scattered now around the world) of meditating sisters and brothers: THANKS to you all!

Chagdud Rinpoche
the late His Eminence Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche, my first empowering lama and my teacher’s teacher, about 2001, and his Yangshi (designated and recognized reincarnation), about 2013

I dedicate the merit (benefits) of my retreat to all beings.

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.

Happy Birthday to our Son, Merlyn T. Ember!

Today is the anniversary of the birth of our wonderful son, unnamed at the time and for 20 more days, was born. I became a mother and you became an actual human after swimming around in my imagination for many years and in my womb for nine months. SO GLAD!

bass cake
image from designrshub.com

So, later in May the year of his birth, our son became Merlyn Timli 0 Ember. We gave him in his name the middle figure of “0” (which is a zero, not the letter “O”) to be a placeholder, awaiting the day he might want to choose his own name. True to his independent and somewhat contrarian nature, when he decided what he wanted to do with his name, Merlyn deleted the zero.

“Merlyn” means “Child of the Light,” and “Of the Immortals.” We chose to give him the original Celtic spelling and used those meanings.

Merlyn, with his first initial “M,” is also “named after” two family relatives: his father’s father, Morton Briggs (alive at that time, following Protestant tradition), and my mother’s mother, Mildred Klein Cytron Bright (then deceased, following Jewish tradition).

“Timli” is a name his dad, Christopher R. Briggs Ember (or, now, Ember Briggs) created, and the definition of this invented name is “He who paints in the sky with his fingers.”

“Ember” is the name Christopher and I chose to take on, adding it to our own names so that Merlyn’s surname could be “Ember.” The Ember Days are the days of change, the two or three days before and after every Solstice and Equinox. This name seemed apt since having a child (our first and only) certainly began many days of change for Merlyn’s parents!

Cradleboard M C and I

Merlyn in the cradleboard Emmy Rainwalker made for him, with his parents, May, 1980

[NOTE: Laws in New Hampshire at the time dictated that unmarried women could only give our children our own surnames, and I had no wish to give Merlyn my birth name. So, we chose a new surname for our new family. Christopher and I were deliberately and consciously unmarried, calling ourselves “Partnered,” for several reasons: lesbians and gays could not marry at that time; women became men’s property in New Hampshire when married in 1980; and, we both were marriage-averse for individual/personal reasons.]

I am so grateful that Merlyn’s birth occurred intentionally (and quite fortunately) at our rented home in Stoddard, NH, attended by three lay midwives: Katie Schwerin, whose family lived as housemates of ours and are still our good friends; Emmy Rainwalker (Ianiello), who was a former housemate and good friend; and, Cindy Dunleavy, the “senior” midwife who had trained Katie and Emmy and became our good friend.

Midwives

Also in attendance or present soon after Merlyn’s arrival were other housemates and several good friends: Bill Whyte (Katie’s husband; thanks for the great black-and-white photos, Bill!), Mia Mason (six years old and Katie’s daughter), Emily Schwerin-Whyte (Katie and Bill’s daughter, born in the same house four months prior), Tashin and Toqueem Rainwalker Story Talbot (two months and almost five years old, Emmy and Medicine Story’s children), Dana Dunleavy (three years old, Cindy’s son), Nina (a friend of Katie’s whose surname escapes me), Pamela Faith Lerman (our friend and David’s sweetie), David Eisenberg (a current housemate of ours and a friend), and Zea Moore (family friend). Good thing we had a very large bedroom!

Merlyn and I 1981 cr

Merlyn and I, 1981

We personally knew and/or were related to a total of over twenty children born within one year of Merlyn. He has cousins one year older and one year younger than he is on both sides, and he was born into what felt like an exploding baby boom, a loosely-knit but connected network of families with children around his age. He grew up in collective households with housemates who often included other children and in close connection with several in particular with whom he is still close as adults. We had buying clubs (food co-ops’ predecessors) we belonged to in several towns nearby for collective purchasing of bulk, organic and healthy foods and supplies. We exchanged childcare, kids’ clothes and baby equipment, recipes, chores, tools and handiwork. We celebrated birthdays, weddings, holidays and other occasions at one another’s houses, often ours.

HappyBirthdayGuitar
image from handmademusicclubhouse.com

These other families and their children became our extended family which included children who were students at public and Waldorf schools as well as homeschoolers; Merlyn was all three at one point or another.

Many of these adults and children were/are musicians, as Merlyn is. Our diverse community also included storytellers, teachers, woodworkers, roofers, artists, singers, dancers, therapists, the aforementioned midwives, political activists and social change leaders, construction/building tradespeople, office workers, gardeners, writers, herbalists, acupuncturists, massage therapists, composers, actors, directors, nonprofit social service workers, playwrights, spiritual teachers and leaders, computer techies, farmers/maple syrup makers, publishers, business owners, bookkeepers, retail workers, restaurant workers and many more.

Our ethnic and religious origins included Jewish, Sufi, Buddhist, Hindu, agnostic, Native American, atheist, British Isles/Western European, Chinese, African, Eastern European, and many more. We were/are lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, transgender, questioning, and unknown or unprovided.

Some of the places we lived right before and after Merlyn was born had no electricity or running water (or even walls). We played board and card games, invented and actual sports games. Most of us intentionally had no televisions or war toys. We put the non-TV-watching time to great use.

We READ a lot! We put on plays, played music, talked a lot with each other, rode bikes, ice skated, sledded, swam, cooked and did “kitchen opera,” made costumes, hiked, walked, repaired, recycled and re-used (long before it was required), spent time in Finnish/Dutch-type saunas and Native American sweat lodges, canned and preserved food and herbs, sang and drummed and worked in ever-changing configurations of children and adults together.

Merlyn, you have become an amazing adult: kind, compassionate, intelligent, capable, worthy of and earning respect and admiration from colleagues, employers, bandmates, friends and peers. I am very proud to be your mother!

I hope, on this anniversary of the day of your birth, in your first year since 1999 of living back in the town you spent most of your growing-up years, that you and your sweetie, Lauren, celebrate in multiple ways with friends and your dad. I wish for you to enjoy a great birthday and many more, healthy, happy and prosperous ones to come!

I love you! Thanks, again, for making me a mother!

S M and C at Jake and Sandys wedding

I, Merlyn and Christopher, 2013

Why I #write utopian, #Buddhist-infused, #multiverse #scifi/rom #novels & why you should #read & share them.

Reposted from 10/30/13 and 2/5/15

Writers are often exhorted to write the books we want to read that seem not to exist, yet. I am following that advice with The Spanners Series, especially Volume I, This Changes Everything, which is now PERMAFREE, and also with subsequent volumes (Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, released 6/9/14; look for Volumes III and IV in 2015).

I am an avid reader and have probably read hundreds of thousands of books in my 56 years of reading independently and quickly, sometimes devouring ten books a week. If I say books like mine—a series like The Spanners—don’t yet exist, I’m probably correct.

logoAuthorsDen
All buy links, reviews, interviews, readings and more: http://www.sallyember.com/Spanners Look right; scroll down.

Why am I writing #science-fiction/#romance, #Buddhist-infused, #multiverse/#multiple timelines #utopian #novels besides the reason already given? And, why should you read them? Because we live in a deteriorating, or degenerating Age, according to #Tibetan Buddhists (and probably many others I’m not bothering to research right now).

When I first hear this claim, I disbelieve it. Aren’t most things “improving” for humanity? Modern medicine, technology, transportation, knowledge of all types: in the 20th and 21st centuries, we are experiencing incontrovertible advances, mind-blowing progress, right? Plus, that POV is just such a downer!

Why would the Buddha’s followers propose and then Buddhist teachers and scholars maintain such a doom-and-gloom perspective on life? It’s not enough that Buddha focused his teachings on suffering and impermanence? Most Buddhists must be depressed: that’s what I thought.

I could understand why Tibetans, having been living under horrible oppression, genocide and cultural destruction under Chinese rule for decades, would be so pessimistic. But, we’re in the good ole’ USA: things are great here, right?

Not so much. I won’t go into the facts we all know now (even more than ever, thanks to Snodwen and Manning) about how screwed up the USA has been and still is, nor how terrible the economy is here and everywhere. I won’t provide the list. We all know too well the horrors of our modern life. Modern tragedies, however, are actually not even relevant to this discussion.

The “degenerating” part of our Age has little to do with actual external conditions. Our deterioration involves humans’ not being able to learn #dharma, not being able to find qualified and worthy Buddhist teachers, not being able to practice meditation well or at all. The Buddha’s teachings and Buddhists practitioners are what are degenerating, in what is called “The Third Age” or “The Latter Day of the Law.”

You can look this up. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Ages_of_Buddhism

My point is, dystopian futures abound. Most sci-fi writers, even those that include romance in their stories, write of increasingly worsening conditions on and around this planet and across the Universe. They pile on the violence, showing increasing discord, more political and social unrest, deaths and destructions even worse than we have now. We already have too much awfulness for me to want to read about even worse futures.

Enough, already: I believe we need some hope, ideas of how else things could go, whether or not I always believe they will take these turns. Since I can’t find this optimism in the daily news or libraries’ and bookstores’ fiction, I decide to create it. I need this in my personal life, for the USA, for the continent, the water, air and land: I am imagining routes for improvement for the planet and the entire universe.

When I #meditate, especially during a #retreat phase in which I was #contemplating lives of beings in the “God Realm,” it occured to me repeatedly that we live in opulence amid squalor, all over the planet. Beauty smack dab in the middle of ugliness, every day. #Yin and #yang. We do have to “take the good with the bad,” but do we have to emphasize the “bad”?

I do not.

In my novels, even when things are “bad,” there is more good than bad. Buddha teaches often that we have to discern between “good” and “bad” even as we know these are illusory. Many teachings expound on how there is NO “good” or “bad,” no “birth” and no “death,” no “coming” and no “going.”

While you puzzle over that, I’m going to continue my utopian illusions in The Spanners Series. In my current and future multiverses, beings, including humans, will have love, better conditions and dharma: they/we have it all!

Furthermore, I’m going to HOPE—even though we are instructed to meditate partly in order to relinquish all hope and all fear—that YOU read my books and enjoy them as much as I enjoy writing them.

Please let me know! Write your comments here on this and other posts, on excerpts from my novel, and whatever else occurs to you. Let’s converse!

How do #authors actually find #readers? I’m stumped.

How do #authors actually find #readers? I’m stumped.

3 paperbacks

So far, since becoming a fiction author in 2013, I have spent time on most popular sites and established a presence on several, I have yet to find a lot of readers. I mostly find: authors (a LOT); those providing services to authors (even more); potential authors (a few); and, trolls (I block, but they do pop up).

I first published my ebooks via Smashwords which then distributed my ebooks for me to iTunes/iBooks, nook (Barnes & Noble), Kobo and many other affiliates globally. I then published to Amazon Kindle. As of last fall, I now have paperback formats available via CreateSpace (where I offer discounts; see below) and Amazon as well.

You may ask: what else have I done, so far? A LOT!…

—I belong to several dozen and am active in several Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ groups/communities and I am less active but do belong to a few groups on Goodreads.
—I have author and book pages pretty much everywhere they’re free to have and manage to update them regularly (I hope).
—I have posted my free ebook (see below) on dozens of sites that allow free books to be posted for free.
—My first Spanners Series ebook, This Changes Everything, is permafree.
—The second volume, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, came out about a year ago and the third one, This Is/Is Not the Way I Want Things to Change, released last December, so I have the supposedly magic number of 3 books out, now.
—All 3 are out since late 2015 in both ebook and paperback formats.
—I offer discount codes for the paperbacks on my own site.
—I participate in occasional sales organized by two Facebook groups (Clean Indie Reads #CR4U and Fantasy and Science-Fiction Network #FSFnet) I am actively involved in (several per year).
—I give free ebooks to reviewers and always follow their guidelines and wait to be invited before sending the ebook to them.
—I have had more than a few reviews for each book, but not up to 50 for any (yet).
—I actively sought readers/reviewers on BuView and got a few but not as many as who accepted my free ebooks.
—I never pay for reviews or participate in review swaps.
—I post interesting, varied non-fiction content (never all about my books or asking others please to buy my books).
—I re-blog.
—I re-share posts.
—I thank others for re-sharing (not always).
—I retweet (but not everything).
—My posts go up on many sites.
—My WordPress blog is cross-posted on Tumblr and on several other sites automatically.
—I re-post my own on Pinterest and StumbleUpon about once a month, to give them another set of views.
—I put most of my Google+ posts into Collections about once/month, which also gives them a boost in views.
—I do occasional reviews, usually outside my own genre (#scifi) and post my reviews on Goodreads, Amazon, and sometimes my own blog as well.
—I invite and host guest bloggers on my site.
—I guest blog/give interviews on others’ sites regularly.
—I have articles/reviews that have appeared on very popular sites, some of which have paid me for my posts.
—I have buy links, interview and review links and other links on my own site (look right; scroll down).

I am frequently on

Twitter.
Facebook with both an individual and a Spanners Series page.
Google+ with both an individual and a Spanners Series page.
Pinterest, with many Boards and not all related to my books, either.
YouTube (I have my own channel and a video talk show, CHANGES conversations between authors, since 8/2014 and posted book trailers, author readings).
LinkedIn.
—I started a Patreon #crowdfunding campaign over a year ago, but haven’t garnered much dough.

I am also on/use

Authors’ Database
Authors’ Den
New Book Journal
Koobug
Bublish

I am occasionally on

Goodreads.
Library Thing.
Shelfari.
BookLikes.
—and other many other author/book sites.
—I visit and comment on many blogs.
—I have been on and listen to/comment on a few Blog Talk Radio shows’ sites.
—I was on Authonomy (it closed, but I did get some great reviews from posting my WIP on that site) and am still on Wattpad with excerpts.
—I used the Pre-order function, with half-price discounts for all three ebooks, several weeks prior to each book’s release on Smashwords and Amazon and other sites.
—I post excerpts from my books while they’re in Pre-orders on my blog.
—At the end of each book, I post the first Chapter of the next volume in the The Spanners Series.
—I post a CTA (Call To Action) asking for reviews, followers and readers at the end of each book.

Started but stopped…

—I joined and posted for a while on Ask the Expert and Quora, but got too busy to keep doing that.
—I joined Reddit but I hated the way the monitors interacted with posters and the rules are too rigid, so I quit.
—I joined Medium and some other sites (can’t even remember them all) but hardly use them. Apparently I have followers, but unless my blog is cross-posted on a site, I don’t know what they are following.

I’ve learned to do/decided to do these actions and listings because I spent a lot of time researching prior to and since publishing my first ebook. I read and followed the instructions for “how to find readers” from many “experts,” but I still usually encounter the above categories of people. Not to say authors and others aren’t readers, but I’m looking for those who identify as such and not elsewise in the industry.

I want more people to read, review, enjoy and comment on my books: doesn’t everyone?

added TODAY (3/15/16): Share! #Booksales best achieved NOT on #TWITTER, FB, LI or G+! Use #Youtube! http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2016/the-authors-three-step-test-for-sellability/

How do YOU attract more readers?
How do you know what works among all the things you’re doing to market yourself and your books?

All suggestions and anecdotes welcomed, except forget recommending I go on Instagram. I hate that site.

Thanks!

Sally Ember, Ed.D.

Please comment here: http://www.sallyember.com/blog or email me: sallyember AT yahoo DOT com

“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

Video of #Tibetan #Buddhist Center in Brazil that is part of my #Sangha

If there is a companion video to this excellent one of our sister sangha and main center in Brazil, Chagdud Khadro Ling, for Chagdud Gonpa’s Rigdzin Ling in California, our main center, I don’t know of it. If you do, please share! If you’ve already seen this, sorry for the repetition.

Chagdud Khadro Ling temple
Khadro Ling‘s main temple in Tres Coroas, Brazil.

In Portuguese with English subtitles, beautiful photography and informative narration and scenes of #Tibetan #Buddhist practice, shrines, temples, items, meditation and practitioners, this video captures the quality and feeling of the land, buildings, intention, activities–the ambiance–very well.

The center (Rigdzin Ling) I spent so much time in from 1999 – 2008 (first visited in 1989; did up to 11-week-long retreats there, two more that were 6 -7 weeks and several that were 2 – 4 weeks, silent retreats, and several 11-day-long ceremonies/meditation practices, Drubchods) is in northern California between Eureka and Redding, but it looks a lot like these photos and our practices are the same.

RZL Tara House
Rigdzin Ling‘s main temple, Tara House, in Junction City, CA USA

For those who do not know, some background: This is my sangha (spiritual community of practitioners and teachers), started by my original teacher, His Eminence Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche, the teacher discussed in this video. Rinpoche passed in 2002. His newest (15th) incarnation/yangshi/tulku is about 10 years old, now.

Chagdud Rinpoche
H.E. Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche in 2001 and his yangshi in about 2009

To give perspective, Rinpoche was a contemporary of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama: they studied with many of the same teachers before the Chinese invaded Tibet and both escaped to India in 1959 as young men. Rinpoche came to the USA (California) in the mid-1980s with his American wife (second), Jane, who became known as Chagdud Khadro (in the video as well). They started building centers along the USA’s West Coast. In 1991, as the video states, they visited South America/Brazil and moved there in 1995.

Tulku Jigme, CTR, Chagdud Khadro, 2001
Tulku Jigme Rinpoche (Rinpoche’s son), Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche, and Chagdud Khadro, Brazil, 2001

The person Rinpoche designated to be his spiritual heir and director is my root/main teacher, Lama Padma Drimed Norbu, known as Lama Drimed.

Lama D in forest tsog 2013
Lama Drimed, forest ceremony (tsog), 2013

May all beings benefit, all Lamas live long and continue to teach, and all practitioners continue to meditate and serve all beings.

Watch the video here:

https://youtu.be/S0d5KoF8288

or

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S0d5KoF8288

or

For more information: http://www.chagdud.org

Enjoy! Write back with comments, questions! Share!

http://www.sallyember.com is my main site and blog and has info about my Buddhist-themed science-fiction/ romance/ utopian/ multiverse novels, with discount codes and links, reviews, book trailers, more, about the first 3 ebooks and paperbacks in The Spanners Series, as well as posts about my #meditation practice and retreats.

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

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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 was finally so disgusted and frustrated that I no longer wanted her or anyone else there even to touch my teeth.

I left.

What kind of “health care” clinic tries to force unnecessary procedures, medications and diagnoses on its patients and then threatens us when we refuse to comply?

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USA federal clinics, I now know. So do many others. Want to know more? Have a read:

From May, 2015, New Yorker magazine: “Overkill: An avalanche of unnecessary medical care is harming patients physically and financially. What can we do about it?” by