Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Elegant Solutions: Climbing The Mountain of Awe

Elegant Solution (defined) – A solution to a life challenge that creates a sense of “awe.”
Thoughts for today from Anastasia who has few words for now.

Still regrouping after the UNESCO Center for Peace Model United Nations Camp.)

Check out -- Anastasia's -- "The Peace Activists Survival Handbook"

Elegant Solutions have special characteristics:
  • Elegant Solutions are those that are co-created by thinking outside the box.
  • Elegant Solutions always have a built in win-win outcome.
  • Elegant Slutions are based on seeking to understand, rather than to be understood.
  • Elegant Solutions are based on believing that there is no scarcity.
Snakes and Dark Side Warriors set up win-lose or lose-lose outcomes for situations. Be on the alert for “snakes” or snakey behaviors.

They sabotage the climb up the Mountain Of Awe -- and -- obstruct others from reaching the "Peak."

What should you do when you encounter snakes?

How do we turn "lose" into "win?"

Try "win-learn." and let that be your guide.*

Lessons, challenges.

Take our “Where Is Your Compassionate Warrior Hiding?” quiz.

Score yourself and see where your strengths and your weaknesses lie in being a part of the elegant solution. Do your best -- always -- to be a part of the solution, the most elegant one you can find!

* I learned about win-lose, win-win and win-learn from an ex-convict, now-deceased, Ken Windes, who became an internationally recognzed psychotherapist and clinical trainer, one of my own respected trainers.

Read his story, Walking Through The Walls. He was a master training of the "win-win" concept.)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

"Awe" Defined

A quick note from Anastasia who is still resting up and integrating last Friday's experience at the UNESCO Center For Peace Model United Nations Camp, presenting "Conflict Resolution and Anger Management #101" for the third year in a row.

Our volunteer team was "awesome."

Synergy was the word and, we definitely did it, co-created it, had it!

With almost 70 participants from around the world; China, Brazil, Columbia, Mexico, Australia, South Korea and India, I am sure you will want to hear lots about it.

All the kids -- from so far away -- brought together into Hagerstown, Maryland, putting their minds and hearts together for peace. Awesome.

More to come.

However, me -- Anastasia -- is temporarily almost out of words for now. My word bank is presently overdrawn so I will be brief.

People becoming aware of this blog through introductions other than the internet are requesting my clarification of some of the terms I have been using.

Here are the definitions of those terms most requested -- our "Dictionary of Awe."

Awe = 1. an experience of personal, spiritual or collective transformation. 2. In individuals (with self or others), relationships, groups or communities, the moment or moments when separation is overcome and recognized for the wonder that it is.

The Mountain of Awe = 1. The place we climb, inside ourselves and with one another. in order to overcome separation.

Peak Of The Mountain of Awe = 1. The culminating moment or crescendo of the climb. You can truly feel the transformation.

Outfitting Your Backpack = 1. Preparing to intentionally climb the Mountain of Awe; deciding to be a dedicated peace-builder, no matter what!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Outfitting Your Backpack: "Snake Bite Protection"

If you have decided to go on this adventure to “awe,” you need to outfit your backpack.

And, remember this is an adventure for a lifetime.

So you must be prepared for all kinds of eventualities, including outsized emergency conditions.

Climbing the "Mountain of Awe," solo or with others, is very much like climbing any other big mountain. You’ve got be solidly geared up. You know you’re going to need rain gear, if you are hiking beyond a sunny day. And, of course, you will need food and water.

If you’ve any experience at all with the great outdoors, you will readily come up with your own list of staples. Your fun stuff too; cameras and books and a candy bar or more. Then there will be the emergency provisions. Just in case.

At the top of the list of emergency preparedness for the adventure to awe – which is synonymous with building small “zones of peace,” everywhere you go -- be prepared for snake bites.

These hills we will be climbing, such as the ones where I live, are home to the Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake and the Copperhead.

Dangerous snakes!

When you make a climb here, no matter how idealistic you are, you must keep your eyes open for these guys. Some can bite pretty bad!

Sue, my spirit sister on this adventure, likes to speak to the snakes. She thinks that suffices.

Me, I have my own strategies. Mostly I try to be observant and cautious where I walk. In fact, truth be told, I don’t actually physically hike these mountains where I live – solo. I’m just not adept enough at stepping over live snakes on my own.

Maybe the years have taught me to be observant with – what I consider to be a healthy dose of vigilance – not overly so – but responsibly.

And to travel in pairs, at least in risky territory -- though I really do enjoy my solitude.

I am great as part of a team in risky situations. I have much skill on my own. Yet, I know when I am best off walking in tandem with others.

Maneuvering around snakes is definitely one of those times for me.

When I am aware that I might be coming up on a snake, the reptilian kind or the “snakes” that are embodied in the “dark side” of humans, I generally ask for input from others who are wise so we can manage the challenge adroitly. I know we are after skillful management here. More than is ordinary.

Some snakes are actually quite harmless. Yet it is prudent to be conscious that a snake is not a butterfly, for example.

You, too, might need to develop this kind of adeptness, if you are going to excel as a peace-builder.

You might put the skill under the heading of “diplomacy.” Or, simply call it “snake bite protection." Murat might call it “doing love.”

We will explore this point at a later time; how being mindful that snakes do bite can be the same, or similar, to "doing love." The subject is quite complex.

Nonetheless, along the way on our climb, it will be important to develop skill in being observant of difficult or challenging people, places and things ("snake bite protection"). And, learn how to handle such critters or circumstances competently.

This challenge may, truly, bring out the best in you.

Perhaps it will be among your greatest lessons in climbing the Mountain of Awe.

And, watch out to not be a biting “snake” yourself, camouflaged as a “Compassionate Warrior.”

“Compassionate Warrior” is the name I give to the true to the down-to-the-core, good guy peace-builders.

However, we are not needing to be perfect.

For our adventure to “awe,” it is, totally, okay for you – or anyone else to have -- whatever degree of “good guy peace-builder” or “dark side” warrior you have in you, at this time.

We need only be mindful of our needing to learn the lessons that transform one to the other.

(Take the Where Is Your Compassionate Warrior Hiding? quiz. See how you rate.)

Exploring what this all means is also complex.

We will take it up -- in bits and pieces -- at a later time.

For starters, just be certain that you – and – those with whom you are traveling have the three essentials I laid out for you as my requirements for the adventure that I am guiding.
  1. A commitment to the adventure;
  2. A willingness to remove their masks;
  3. A willingness to accept you (and others) free of their masks
Meeting these requirements among fellow journeyers will get you through hard times in your efforts to build small "zones of peace," except where bullets, bombs and terrorists are concerned.

Remember, there are many serious problems, local as well as global, to be solved that may lie beyond the scope of the majority of any small "zones of peace" model.

Technologies and experts beyond what we might have are needed. Peace is not, only, your assignment or mine. Don't try to be a hero and fly solo.

If you think I am fussing about nothing, please know that I decided to forewarn you of all of this ("snake bite protection" and so forth) because so many people I speak to these days, especially those of high school and college age – and – young twenties -- are voicing their deepest heartfelt yearnings for peace, almost begging for the secret formula, as if there were a simple one.

As if they could just know that formula, the obstacles to peace could readily be overcome. If "awe" can be synonomous with peace, unity and harmony (which is how I am using it), we must be mindful of the demanding climb it takes to get there. Awe is a long-range plan.

No immediate gratification though sometimes a moment of "awe" will arise and keep you inspired. We must, also, remember that what is required to attain peace may not be, directly, in our hands.

It will truly "take a village" of mighty Compassionate Warriors, fighting with head and heart, over time.

So, be aware when embarking on this adventure to climb the "Mountain of Awe," that you know, also, when, where and how to call the park ranger.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Preparing For The Adventure

Call it the adventure of a lifetime; a journey to “awe.”

It's a trek that teaches dedicated adventurers certain very precious human skills at the level of art for the effort. 

Among these are --
I volunteer to be your guide, if you will have me.

If you would like to employ my services, allow me to provide you with my view of how I see us proceeding; the framework and conditions for the trek, actually.

I have a map of an ascent to the top of this mountain; the one upon which I live, metaphorically.

The map I have is actually one of several combined; its early stages came to me by way of my mentor and official "golden goose," Martin G. Groder, M.D..  You can explore some of its components on my Exploring Your Dark Side: The Adventure of A Lifetime blog. The second  phase map came to me through New Horizons Community Development mentor and my personal one, Murat Yagan.

I am so grateful for how generously these Wise Elder teachers of mine have given to New Horizons and myself. They conscientiously paved the way for their wisdom and guidance to be passed on to me and to others with as much clarity as possible.  In their lifetimes each in their own ways became renowned for their adeptness at climbing this particular mountain of which I am speaking. In fact, each was known to have climbed much higher ones than this.

They were Wise Mountain Climbers, veterans of rugged ascents with many more years than I, of training -- and supervised skill development. I look to them for guidance.

Nonetheless, over time, willing as I have been as a student, I have also discovered my own particular pathways to climb to the top of this mountain.

After all, I have lived here for years now – and – have been up and down this particular mountain many times.

I should have a fairly well-tread path of my own, wouldn’t you agree?

In fact, my map for the descent is, equally, if not more important, than the one I have for the ascent.

My own wisdom, however, is simply that of experience – and – being a good student.
And, yes, I am also well-educated and professionally trained. That has helped enormously.

But, formal education only goes so far, you know.

It's life in the field that brings it all home.

If you would me have as your guide for this adventure, I ask only three things of you, by way of preparation.

Be mindful, however, I take each of these quite seriously –
  1. Commitment to the adventure;
  2. A willingness to take off whatever masks you are wearing; and
  3. A willingness to accept me without my mask.
Visit Anastasia The Storyteller for my perspectives on the last two.

Let me know if you are up for the hike.


P.S. Other well-experienced guides will be joining us.

They are each unique individuals (as is everyone else) who are, also, wonderfully "synergistic with me as a team.

Their wisdom equals my own -- and - -might even surpass it.

Yet, when it comes to building peace we are totally like-minded in our intent.

Look for their appearances in the near future.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Treasure Hunt: In Search Of "Awe"

If you’ve been reading my blog postings, you might, by now, be attempting to figure out how "we" do it?

How, precisely, does the Small “Zones Of Peace” Project work to build small zones of peace, thinking globally, acting locally?

Taking that question a step further, how do we create -- actually -- co-create “awe”?

We have been known to do exactly that!

I promise you, however, you will not easily be able to “nail” it down. "Awe" is a mystery.

And, one you have the capacity to help co-create. I promise you that too!

This blog and “Anastasia The Storyteller” are filled with clues that help explain our methodology.

If you read them -- more than that -- study them, they will help you begin putting together the pieces of a puzzle.

A definitive formula is embedded in the puzzle, when revealed by these pieces being linked together has - and can continue - to inspire and save lives!

The picture that will show up is the sum total - and more - of the various articles and their significance that have already been written and posted on these two blogs.

The clues to how the Small "Zones Of Peace" Project model works to help co-create "awe" are lurking everywhere on the two blogs.

They are the key elements that merge together to make our program work!

The trick is, however, that not only do you need to find the clues and fit them together into some kind of pattern in your own mind, but then we need to talk!  Create meaningful dialogue.

Our process cannot work without that. At least not very far.

The Small “Zones of Peace” Project is powerful!

It is profound! It can co-create magic, wonder and awe with “exceptional leaders.”

If you fancy yourself one of these, see what you can figure out and write me.

Let's talk about it.

We need to talk -- and -- take the necessary, next steps on our peace-building journey as soon as we can.

Time is of the essence!

Below are listed some of the key background stories that depict the success of our model.

You will find ongoing stories about these on our various blogs.

Look for clues in the labels section on our Home Page.

They will be the clues we offer you to begin building your small "zones of peace."

See if you can fit them together with what you know inside yourself and "see" around you.

If you are able to "see" what I "see," you on your way to being an "exceptional leader" who is able to help foster "exceptional communities."

Exceptional leaders help pave the way to making "violence obsolete" -- someday!

Someday will surely come -- someday -- whether you are ready for it or not.

Do what you can to help it be the "someday" you would like there to be.

Here are some clues with which you can begin.

Read and re-read the following articles. And, think things through that are suggested in them.
  1. "The Middle East Crisis In My Backyard"
  2. Articles on "identity" on Anastasia The Storyteller
  3. Articles and links about Murat Yagan
Then ask yourself, "What is Anastasia saying here?
And, why does she think this stuff is so very important?"

These are your clues for now.

There will be more.

You will have to pay careful attention, if you want to solve the mystery, the mystery of how to build small zones of peace -- and -- create "awe" in your life.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Thinking Global, Acting Local

Yesterday our "Conversations Curriculum Development Task Force" met for the first time in a long while. Our last completed assignment, the “Saving Centennial Mission” wound down a number of months ago. We have since been primarily focused on our Habitat For Healing Remodeling Project, getting our New Horizons' Harpers Ferry Retreat Center office set up and operating once again and for me personally, regaining the joys of country living.

Developing and activating our two interconnected blog sites have also been major endeavors of the past several months. I hope, by now, that this one as well as my personal site, “Anastasia The Storyteller,” are beginning to offer something of value to visitors. If you like what we have been providing, most of the thanks goes to our board member, Lisa Boyer. She is responsible for developing both blogs. Lisa has, not only, managed the intricacies of designing them, but has been ever present in creating their “eye” appeal. If you like our “style,” it is almost pure Lisa!

As far as our main program goes, "Coffee House Conversations," we have not simply been living off our laurels. Yet, the project at Centennial Memorial United Methodist certainly spoiled us somewhat. For that project we got to use almost every single thing we have in our peace-building bag of tricks. It was such a multi-faceted, fulfilling project that I haven’t quite assimilated all that I/we've learned from the “awe” the Small "Zones Of Peace" Conversations Team co-created with that congregation or the great progress for the congregation that emerged out of the effort.

Where could we hope to be assigned next to replicate what we accomplished there? The rewards a memorable success brings; mission accomplished, the sense of a job well-done – and – the shared recognition that an experience of note has occurred are a “tough act to follow. Nonetheless, now we are beginning to plan and “rehearse” for our next “Conversations” program. It, too, will bring rewards, but of a slightly different variety.

For one thing, our next program will be with an international group. (While the Centennial project was completely local it was no less important .) Our upcoming project will be “Conflict Resolution & Anger Management #101.” Here again, storytelling within our “Coffee House Conversations” format will take center stage. In our experience, nothing surpasses the impact of “storytelling” when it comes to breaking through the barriers diversity can create. Again we will be presenting this program, which seems to be developing into an annual tradition, for the UNESCO Center of Peace Model UN Summer Camp (Friday, July 23, 2010).

This will be our third presentation of the program for this organization. Once again, as we did on a local level for the Centennial Memorial United Methodist Church, we are set to achieve our goals; community development, global or local, through conversations that feature storytelling. With global intent or a local focus, people finding a path to one another through the sharing of personal stories accomplishes more, at times, than all the theory and rhetoric combined.

From Anastasia in the mountains, Where, unfortunately on this hot July day, our abundance of trees are unable to successfully work out a healthy relationship with the humidity.