Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Storytelling Workshop Series To Focus On Community Bridge Building, One Person At A Time

What if instead of turning your back on someone who looks or sounds different than you, you decide to lean into that person?  

With one idea or another, in your mind and heart you, move toward that person instead of away.  You consider making a new acquaintance or friend out of someone you might otherwise consider to even be an enemy. 

Instead of seeing that person as someone who could or would bring danger into your life, you open to learning about their view of the world as being a gift for you, in some ways that might surprise you.

After all, it's been said that -
"An enemy is one whose story you haven’t yet heard." Gene Knudsen Hoffman, Quaker Peace Activist
So it makes sense that, if you share stories with those you would not ordinarily, you take a different route, possibly an opposite direction -- and -- create some kind of bond. 

Perhaps you might even have the beginning of a friendship, or possibly someone with whom you might endeavor to solve a neighborhood or community problem.  At the minimum, you will have brought some new thing – you -- to a stranger. And that is gift enough!

Eric Berne M.D., the psychiatrist who developed Transactional Analysis, my psychology home base, answered the question he posed in the title of his last book, What Do You Say After You Say Hello this way – 
“To say Hello rightly is to see the other person, to be aware of him as a phenomenon, to happen to him and to be ready for him to happen to you."
If you took the initiative to approach another person, even five or ten times in a year, in your neighborhood or community, imagine how different that place might be for you and those someone elses.

Storytelling is something you can do as your next step after “Hello.”

We, at the New Horizons Small “Zones of Peace” Project hope you will be inspired to learn the art of storytelling and story listening we are getting ready to offer at our – 

Saturday, October 14, November 4, and December 2, 2017 
2:00 to 5:00 p.m.

Reserve early, space is limited!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Up To My Ears In Stories

Storytelling, as a respectable, almost ordinary activity is beginning to infiltrate my daily life these days, like never before. I barely know how to make sense of it and what is happening for me because of it.

For example, this morning I had occasion to talk, at length, to a senior colleague of mine  I have known for close to forty-five years. Something -- I don’t quite remember what it was at the moment -- got us talking yesterday in such a way that, unexpectedly, brought me to share a few important pieces of who I am with her that were a total surprise to her.
Stories Everywhere!

Well, one thing led to another. And before you know it, yesterday’s sharing between us led to our having a follow up conversation this morning for three and one-half hours, exchanging stories back and forth!

Would you believe that!!!

Storytelling, spontaneously, brought she and I to cross a bridge to one another we were not even aware we needed to cross.


And somehow I am changed by this. 

You are, too, when storytelling enters your life, filling a role for human connectedness you probably had no idea needed gratifying. 

But there it is, as close as the very next person you encournter! 

A “yearning for an unknown something better,” fulfilled, is how our Beloved Murat might describe it; a heretofore unrealized need for human bonding, coming about in a most unexpected way.

The potential is there always “where two or more are gathered in His name.”

Isn’t that awesome; almost like bringing magic into your life, available all around you, almost everywhere, if you will just stop a moment and “smell the roses,” so to speak.

I love it!!  

Stories, everywhere; yours, mine and ours.

Makes me think of Anne Frank's thought -- 

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.
Today can be that day of yours to "starting to improve the world." Storytelling can be your vehicle. Poor, dear Anne Frank gave us hers through her diary and did not live to know what a difference her stories made to people around the world. 

We can make a difference too through our storytelling -- and -- listening through the support of New Horizons, partnering with StoryCorps. Your stories, too, can be held in perpetuity and shared with others, as were Anne's. And stored at the Library of Congress through StoryCorps.

How incredibly awesome!

We will be glad to show you how to make a beginning at our coming -- 

First session, October 14, 2017. Details here.

As for me, I think I will go off and contemplate this for a while, now, and see what happens next in this magical day of mine!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

We Want "You" -- And -- Your Stories

New Horizons’ Small “Zones of Peace” Project Wants You --And --Your Stories -

Participate in helping us build an archives of Frederick County’s citizen stories – and beyond to the entire 100 mile radius from the Washington White House through –

The “Official” New Horizons Small "Zones Of Peace" Storytelling Collection

Partnering with StoryCorps’ “Listening Is An Act Of Love” Project

FAQ: Why Frederick County? 

Answer: Because we have chosen Frederick County, Maryland as our model small “zone of peace.” But a “zone of peace can be anywhere!

How you can participate –

1. Find yourself a storytelling peace buddy. 

 (The deal here is that you partner with someone who: 1. Has the StoryCorps app; 2. Will listen to your story and record it for our archives, connected to the StoryCorps archives at the Library of Congress.)

2. Attend one or more of the New Horizons Storytelling Workshops Series.  (See details on our separate “Storytelling Workshop Series” information sheet.)

3. Invite us to present one or more of the segments of our Storytelling Workshop Series to your family, friends, community, group or organization. (With this option you can become your own StoryCorps Community. We will show you how.)

About the New Horizons’ Small “Zones of Peace” --

Storytelling Workshop Series: 
A Vehicle For Overcoming Today’s Social and Political Polarization 

Join us at our storytelling, story “listening” workshops! We will–
  • Help you learn to be an interesting storyteller;
  • Help you learn to be an eager and curious listener of the stories of others;
  • Help you develop the skill of using your storytelling – and – “listening” skills to go beyond polarization to be a community bridge-builder (also with your family, friends and work associates);
  • Teach you how and why “leaning in” and dialogue rather than debate work to build healthier communities; 
  • Provide you with a non-partisan, supportive environment within which to discuss and sort out some of the stress our current social and political climate may be causing you.
Be sure to read our many articles on the theme of storytelling at:

For Details and Reservations, Contact: Anastasia Rosen-Jones
Email: Cell: 240.409.5347

Reserve early! Our calendar is filling up quickly! 
Donations are encouraged

Your opportunity to have your personal story archived, for infinity, in the StoryCorps/Small “Zones of Peace” Library of Congress collection.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Announcing New Horizons' Storytelling Workshop Series

New Horizons’ Small “Zones of Peace” Project Presents --

The Storytelling Workshop Series: 
A Vehicle For Overcoming Today’s Social and Political Polarization 

Partnering with StoryCorps’Listening Is An Act Of Love” Project

Join us at our storytelling, story “listening” workshops! We will–
  • Help you learn to be an interesting storyteller;
  • Help you learn to be an eager and curious listener of the stories of others;
  • Help you develop the skill of using your storytelling – and – “listening” skills to go beyond polarization to be a community bridge-builder (also with your family, friends and work associates);
  • Teach you how and why “leaning in” and dialogue rather than debate work to build healthier communities
  • Provide you with a non-partisan, supportive environment within which to discuss and sort out some of the stress our current social and political climate may be causing you.
These are troubling times!

Having done our best to select our elected officials, our next steps are to help ensure that our citizen wishes are linked to our First Amendment rights, including our rights to freedom of speech, a free press, to peaceably assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Along with these freedoms, we have the right to tell our stories – and – to listen to the stories of others. From storytelling – and story “listening,” we gain insight, inspiration, connection, new found levels of wisdom and creative solutions to problems we are presently facing.

That’s the “Zones of Peace” way, the exceptional way, the life as art way.

To help you cope with a changing America, New Horizons now sets off on its next “zones of peace” building project: showing you how to develop your storytelling and story "listening"skills in the service of creating a better tomorrow, today!

Saturday, October 14, November 4, and December 2, 2017 
2:00 to 5:00 p.m.

Frederick Friends Meeting House
723 N. Market Street
Frederick, Maryland

Reserve early, space is limited!

Donations are encouraged, suggested amount: $20. 

For Details and Reservations, Contact: Anastasia Rosen-Jones
Email: Cell: 240.409.5347

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Getting Started With Our Storytelling Collection

"Saving Centennial"
was our most, singularly rewarding
Coffee House Conversations Series, to date.
Read about out awesome experience here.

Here is one of our very favorite stories, the one about "Saving Centennial". In fact, our experience, working with this project, is the one Sue and I still hold, today, to be the single most uplifting and inspiring Coffee House Conversations series we have ever done.

Check it out for a Sunday afternoon lift that depicts just how awesome we can be, when we put our heads, our hearts and our actions toward the intention to unify.

Friday, August 25, 2017

We Are Now An Official StoryCorps Community!

By no later than October 15, 2017, we expect to up and running with our StoryCorps project, once more striving to assist the members of our nearby Frederick County to build bridges, rather than walls.  (Amazing! It's only one month today when we thought New Horizons was on idle. And look where we are. Who would have thought that tranquility could have brought us to this!)

Through storytelling and endless other forms of meaningful conversation!

We are developing our format as I write this now. 

Look to join us for our monthly storytelling events, as well as the many other activities this new project will encompass. And, once we are actually collecting our stories, listen to the rich tales to come of these happenings. 

Look for details as we gear up. 

Find out how you can be involved!

Join and support us in any way you can, that is appropriate for you.

Together, let us learn how to listen – and – speak without malice. And make our accounts of this turbulent time in American history, mean something more than divisiveness. Leaning in, dialogue rather than debate -- and -- storytelling will see us through, we trust!

Here’s how you will find us:

Our StoryCorps Community title is: The Small “Zones of Peace” Project

Our tag line is: 

“The Official New Horizons Small "Zones Of Peace" Storytelling Collection”

Interested in getting on board as a volunteer or storytelling participant, contact me, Anastasia at:

I want to hear from you!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Overcoming The Polarization Of Politics: One Person-By-One Person

We will be using storytelling as a vehicle for “healing the wounds that divide us.” Our method will be derived from partnering with StoryCorps and possibly developed further with the Frederick County Maryland Public Library (details pending on this one).

Here’s some about our developing new project, yet to be officially named.

What I have loved most, now that I think about it, in doing both the Possible Human, Possible Society Study and our Coffee House Conversations, even as far back as when we were doing our “Almost” Annual Abkhazian Dinners, was the storytelling. These projects had connected me to people in my community, in ways that were richer and more meaningful than almost anything else I have ever done, except for my years as a psychotherapist with “old” New Horizons.

Storytelling lay at the center, for me, of the lushness. Yum! Listening to people’s stories; their hopes, dreams and concerns, along with some of their personal history, was more wonderful for me than anything, other than being a psychotherapist and all that entailed.

Now, it looks like I am about to be able to return to the richness of that experience with the new track New Horizons will be taking in partnering with StoryCorps for our next, upcoming community development campaign, about to be launched soon after Labor Day.

Our board members have much to sort out to develop this new track. However, some things are beginning to already become clear. Here are a few items of what we know so far:
  • I, Anastasia, will be able to pursue my goals of returning to D.C. and “coming out” of my New Horizons hidey hole by telling my stories to, then, become a part of the StoryCorps archives, along with other stories New Horizons will collect. In other words, New Horizons with this new project will become one of the platforms to interview me and pass on my story.
  • New Horizons will update its Coffee House Conversations format to incorporate the StoryCorps strategy of having two people, at a time, pairing up to interview one another. This will replace our former group discussions. At least for the time being;
  • Our paired conversation discussions will, now, also have the option to be recorded and stored as part of New Horizons next Overcoming Polarization community dialogue initiative in the Library of Congress StoryCorps archives;
  • We will, soon, sometime after our first interview questions are in place, seek to train additional volunteers, beyond our already established core group, to work with us to expand our storytelling conversations collection throughout Frederick County;
  • A good possibility exists that the Frederick County Public Library will, also, partner with us so as to incorporate our data with that of the Library, in some form, also yet to be determined. This item is still pending and we will keep you informed and updated as we have further details.
Isn’t this fun and inspiring? Just when we weren’t sure where we could best be used, look what the “tranquility diet” brought forth. Yum!!

Please let us know what you are thinking about it. Again, you can post your comments onto this site. Or, contact me directly at

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

New Horizons News Update!

Would you believe --- simply focusing on my "tranquility diet" has now gotten New Horizons to being in the planning stages with some awesome “coming attractions,” not by the urgency, trying hard and workaholism that often dominated my earlier days. Rather by creating day-to-day tranquility! I am getting to love it!

So, beginning yesterday, under the power of the Eclipse, New Horizons commenced to create a "storytelling" project to help our overall community building mission, via New Horizons-type programs, for next year. StoryCorps and possibly the Frederick County Public Library will be our initial partners (the latter item is still being discussed); this, in spite of the fact that I got stung by a hornet the hour leading up to the time to focus on that fast moving Eclipse. 

Oh my, was I ever in pain all through that time and well beyond until morning. 

Still, that Eclipse seems to have brought us, New Horizons and myself, new beginnings of a marvelous type. 

Why not? 

Yesterday was also the day of the New Moon!

In the meantime, as our more extended project develops, we are now amping up to develop an updated storytelling track, correlating with our Coffee House Conversations and Possible Society, Possible Human Study, our Counterculture Community Development and Making Violence Obsolete projects, all rolled into one, new updated effort.

So, we are feeling confident, thinking we are, now, beginning to find our new path, while trying to stay sane in this insane world. 

Although we don’t yet know quite how we will proceed, we do know that storytelling as a pathway to peace and the ideals of leaning in and dialogue rather than debate will be central tenets of whatever it is we are about to create. Collecting stories of people’s lives as they are, now, living through these turbulent times, in this momentous time in history, will also be a dominant theme.

If you would like to contribute your ideas to help us shape this project, please let us hear from you. Either by posting a comment here or by writing me, directly, at 

Thanks so much for your continued support that helps keep us strong and hopeful during these turbulent times.

Please send prayers and other good wishes while we Imagine what we can become.

With gratitude from
Anastasia and the New Horizons Support Network, Inc. Board of Directors

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

What Is The Power Of One?

My colleague, Valerie, followed up my publishing of my article on The Power of One by asking me to explain what I meant by it. As a lifestyle philosophy, deeply embedded in me, I believed the concept of the "power of one" would be evident to all.

Silly me. Sometimes we are so blessed in certain ways, we overlook that what is natural in to us may even be foreign to others. On this one, I hope you have, minimally, some experience with knowing, for yourself, the power of one.

For Valerie, who is a well respected, accomplished psychotherapist to not be, immediately, getting my drift on this one sent me back to the drawing board; actually began to pen and paper. 

In the service of clarifying my terms, I now take up this critically important topic of the "power of one" by shedding a bit more light on the meaning I am attributing to the phrase. In attempting to do this, of course, I turned to the internet to Google the phrase. 

I quickly discovered an entire treasure trove of quotes, derived from both a book and a movie titled The Power Of One  by Bryce Courtney. If you truly want to "feel" the essence of what I am meaning here, the trailer for the movie brings it right up, front and center. Here is a link for the trailer as it appears on YouTube, along with the following quote by the author.
The power of one is above all things the power to believe in yourself, often well beyond any latent ability you may have previously demonstrated. The mind is the athlete, the body is simply the means it uses to run faster or longer, jump higher, shoot straighter, kick better, swim harder, hit further, or box better.  
Bryce Courtenay, The Power of One (The Power of One, #1)
There is also, I discovered, a song by the same title. Here are the lyrics from the movie Pokemon.

I think these two ought to be more than enough to get you started with what New Horizons is now going to be focusing on, more and more, from here forth.

Good luck!!!  The Power of One is in your hands!


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Power Of One

A new series by Anastasia, begins today, collected under the label “Overcoming Polarization"  and a new label, The Power Of One, added to reflect the importance of this series -- and -- its relevance to today's challenges in this era of social and political upheaval.

With this developing series, offered as one contribution I can make, in my newly, developing role as a more outspoken voice, aiding in the collective effort to keep moving forward in these challenging times, with every intention of being a "Possible Human in "Our"  Possible Society," please be sure to help the discussion I will be initiating by commenting on my articles, posting your thoughts, in response to my own, directly on to this site, or by sending your comments to me at:

To get us started, I offer you some of the background history of how New Horizons Small “Zones of Peace” Project came into being. In this way, the principles – and – the rationale behind our project and what is presented on this site can take on a deeper and richer significance for you, our loyal readers.

One place to begin, seemingly apt, for my purposes here, is to share with you how the Small “Zones of Peace” Project has been developing, behind the scenes, corresponding to what we have been doing in our local community of Frederick, Maryland -- and how these efforts have been reflected on this site.

(FYI: Our program is designed to be offered on regional, national and international levels. We have chosen, however, in our initial phases to focus on the local, holding with a philosophy congruent with our small "zones of peace" mission, to think global and act local.)

I began writing articles for this site in late 2009, somewhat under pressure of New Horizons’ Communications Chairperson, Lisa. Here is the first one posted, which was actually done by her as I did not yet know how to write blogs.

At the time I had barely begun applying what I had learned as a psychotherapist, running a therapeutic community, as a treatment approach, and as a researcher of psycho-sociological principles, beyond the small group, clinical setting. So what I had to say about transferring this knowledge and experience base to civic affairs was still very much in its infancy, at the time of our first postings --- and correspondingly the programs we were doing then.

Nonetheless, one particular, very dramatic experience that would be my initiation by fire, so to speak, set me on a course to move beyond my earlier professional venue, the clinical psychological arena. It was the episode I have come to name “The Middle East Crisis In My Backyard;” an incident so life changing for me, as well as a hand full of others, that it has become the baseline for all professional endeavors of mine since, especially New Horizons Coffee House Conversations initiative.

You can read an early piece I wrote about the episode in this article, The Middle East Crisis In My Backyard, here. In it, you will see the seeds of what was later to grow into New Horizons Coffee House Conversations Project.

One very interesting piece of the back story of this article, looking back on it, was not what I was saying, in that article, but what I was not! The fact was that in writing that article I was actually hiding essential parts of myself while, simultaneously, placing myself in a visible position by authoring an article for publication. 

Hiding important parts of myself, including my thoughts and feelings about things, had become my habit over many years. This began with my needing to protect myself from a mentally ill mother who was emotionally torturing me throughout childhood and into my early adulthood.  I was finally able to extricate myself  from her and the treacheries she brought into my life when I was twenty-five.

If you look closely at this history of mine, you will see how it came to be that I developed hiding as a habit. And you will, also, likely see how I might have become a late bloomer in catching up with myself, with my normal childhood development tasks, and how that came to be.

The most important fact, related to this article, to get us started on this new series I am introducing today, is that I was hiding that I was, at the time of the Jewish Muslim controversy incident, president of the local chapter of a national Jewish women’s social action group. And I was incensed that this group whose designated mission touted it as “the most potent, most effective, most satisfying place where you can take … action and become a positive force for change” was being almost totally remiss in handling a situation of serious, local significance, especially for the Jews of that locale. 

In the process some of the women, key leaders in the local organization, were playing “dirty tricks” as harmful to community well being, in certain ways, as if they had been Nixon’s White House.  Super Sleuth that I became in the process, I found them out and am, now, in the process of writing out my complete tale in a full length book titled, surprise, surprise, The Middle East Crisis In My Backyard.

In writing my original article on the issue I wanted to expose the contradictions and the consequences of people NOT coming together and talking to one another in times of dissonance to overcome polarization and, consequently, divisiveness that serves no one, in the end.

See, now, how this led to the formation of New Horizons Coffee House Conversations?

I think I did a decent job in making my point in that article. But ---- what I was not saying was: 1. I was the local president, at the time, of a national Jewish women’s social action group that, ideally, could have (and should have, in my opinion) stepped up their "social action" in this instance; but 2. Who elected, by default, meaning a lack of responsibility to, instead, allow some in their group to revert to “dirty tricks; and 3. I was watching this happen and being rather passive, in my own role by not speaking up more assertively.

I learned a lot of lessons from this "failure of nerve" of mine. Hopefully, someday, when the time is right I will be able to remedy my failings through my writing and discussing the messages of my book.

Nonetheless, there have been almost as many lessons for me, already put to good use in coming through this episode, as the countless ones I learned from Watergate. I am intending to share some of these with you, here, on this site in the coming days, weeks and months. 

The ones I hope to share, for our purposes here, will have one commonality; demonstrating the power of “one” and its relationship to the many.

As a caveat I must put, up front, however, one limitation I foresee. Whenever, I set my mind to writing a “series” of articles on a particular topic, life being what it is in these fast moving times that the internet has brought us, I often interrupt one theme in order to take up another one that seems more pressing at the moment.  So please, if you are interested in this theme, “The Power of One,” check the “ labels” for this site to find the continuation of articles on this theme. They will be gathered under the label, “Overcoming Polarization” and our new label, added today to support your ease in following our message, The Power Of One.

For now, I leave you with this thought I discovered from reading about Helen Keller, one of my great teachers, as you may well imagine, from my being and recovering from blindness for eight years. Helen Keller, apparently heard it, originally from one of her dear friends.
I am only one, But still I am one. I cannot do everything, But still I can do something; And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do. Everett Edward Hale
Remember these words, now, in this time of challenge! And, make it your business to do “something” each and every day that exemplifies your being a Possible Human In this Possible Society.

More to come.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Stretch Your Limits: Check Out Your Winner Profile

Challenging times like these can bring out the best in people.

Pressed to take the high road in order to surmount difficulties, winning ways, even if you don't quite feel them inside yourself, help us develop resilience. 

Resilience can be defined as the ability to recover quickly from illness, change, or misfortune. We all need resilience. 

Make/keep yourself a winner by raising yourself up to your highest capabilities and potential; strengthen your resilience!

Check Out Your Winner Profile!

Winning is getting through tough times by growing healthier and stronger. 

Check out Anastasia's "Winners and Losers Paradigm" categories. 

Look for new additions to the list, today.

Use the list as an inventory for developing your winner potential. 

See how you measure up. 

Then push your limits to the next higher level!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Today, Read Anastasia's Commentary

Come Together Folks! Even Is Congress Is Considering It!

These are what leaning in, dialogue rather than debate and exceptional leadership essentials are about.

While I, Anastasia, am now in the planning stages of stepping down, over time (even three years or so), as Executive Director of New Horizons, as circumstances dictate), I am never going to be far off. And, always, as long as politics and boundaries do not conflict, I will be doing my best as a spokesperson for the objectives of the New Horizons Small "Zones of Peace" Project.

With these aims in mind, check out my recent comments on Anastasia The Storyteller, titled Come Together Folks! Even Is Considering It!

And, have a happy day! The sun is shining brightly.

"One nation, under God.
Indivisible with liberty and
justice'for all."

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

What’s Next At New Horizons? We’re Gonna Pay Attention To The Flowers In Our Backyard, Even The Droopy Ones.

If Coffee House Conversations and our two movements, Making Violence Obsolete and Overcoming Polarization, are not now going to be particularly active, which there are no plans for them to be, presently. And, if I, Anastasia, am going to be concentrating more and more on developing and speaking my “truth to power” message, i.e. transforming the dark side in society and politics, what’s to be next around here?

This is how it goes!

I/we predict, that given our present political climate and social upheaval, New Horizons is, now, going to be focusing on how you can, from the position of the personal, so entwined with the political, build up the networks in your own backyard, enriching your relationships, through this time of upheaval, with family, friends, neighbors and your local community.

I just recently discovered that trees have underground networks with other trees and woodsy growing things. Now I am looking at my trees in a whole new way. They not only have millions of leaves that I can see. They also have, possibly millions, of relationships I can’t see.

We Americans could use a bit of enlightenment like I just had about my trees. 

People are so internet and media bound they are not paying adequate attention to the networks surrounding them.

What if I ignored the trees surrounding me on all sides of my home? If I did, I’d being disregarding one of the greatest sources of my well-being. Trees and other living things up here in our mountains filter out pollutants and bring other important essentials into our local ecosystem and thus our daily life. While we might explore this subject more another time, I think you get my drift.

Some of the most widely successful people nurture their advancements by having caring, close, personal networks, fostering relationships by creating ample face time that these might grow and flourish, like a summer garden bouquet. 

I did a very rewarding radio show on Anastasia The Storyteller, titled “More "Instead of Swamp Draining: "Why I Am Sooo Sorry – And – So Grateful, Part I” in which focused on how I have been, personally, working to maintain my important bonds, in this time of turmoil, with people of diverse political and other types of opinions from me.  

Check it out! I hope it will inspire you to take some, close up, bridge building steps.

Of course, dialogue versus debate and leaning in are fundamental principles here, once again.

It’s still not all easy, for sure! But well worth the effort, in the long run.

So look to this blog site in the days, weeks and months ahead to be offering you tips on bridge building up close, with people you already know and those you are about to discover.

Bridge building does not need to span the globe, the nation or even a distance such as our Beloved Chesapeake Bay Bridge. 

Bridge building is coming you can do each and every day, even with strangers or near strangers. And, it is one of the most important – and – close at hand things you can do to help yourself, others and our very divided nation through these challenging times.

Now may not be the best time to be thinking globally and/or nationally, beyond staying informed and updated. Now just might be an ideal time to act locally! 

There is so much that needs to be done in your own backyard, your neighborhood and your community. New Horizons is going to continue being here to help you with this.

For example, soon I will be broadcasting "Instead of Swamp Draining: "Why I Am Sooo Sorry – And – So Grateful, Part II.”  In this broadcast, I will be sharing a story of how I am handling the worst, volatile polarization I have ever come up against in my family or anytime with friends that is as a result of our present political situation.

Look for my scheduling of that broadcast soon. 

And plan to join me on that broadcast, if you can, to share your thoughts and ideas on how you are presently overcoming the polarization in your “backyard” these days.

Give yourself a break. Cross small bodies of divide!
Save the large spans for another time.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Are We In A Growth Stage, Or Are We Merely Coming Apart At Our Seams?

My small “zone of peace,” at New Horizons, feels like a port of sanity these days, in a world gone crazy with conflict and upheaval. You, as a reader of this blog might not realize it -- and yet you might -- just how profound – and – welcoming it is to have safe, secure places, these days, where people are not coming apart at the seams, polarizing in this era of stormy weather. No matter how bright the sunshine looks outdoors. 

In reading my recent articles, you might think it is otherwise here, at New Horizons; stormy weather for our organization.  Just like many other places these days.

To be sure, recent announcements, related to our board activities, have garnered an inordinate number of emails and comments (see “Comments” section at bottom of this article for example) suggesting readers are feeling concern over our recent happenings. However, this is rather than the sense of growth and expansiveness actually taking place for us.

Without doubt, we, at New Horizons, are going through some growing pains. A simple review of our past year of programs and projects, as written in articles for this site, will tell you that, in a heartbeat.  Nearly everything we had been developing and working on for the past ten years plus has now practically ground to a halt, waiting for the chaos of our present day society and politics to settle down. 

Almost no one cares to overcome polarization these days, or make violence obsolete. As important agendas for social movements these days per se, there is simply little fit! No, indeed!

I can hardly wrap my mind around the shifting we are presently experiencing here, paralleling what is happening around us in society and politics. It is that HUGE! It’s almost as if we are now living on another planet; and a warring one at that.

These are the days of our coming apart. Not the time for unity, it seems.

Whoever intimated that growth and change come easily hasn’t raised any teenagers. That stage is all about identity. With no holds barred, this phase of development is more often a tsunami rather than any smooth sailing.  However, when mature people face an updating of their lives and relationships to one another, things do tend to proceed more easily. 

That’s how things are these days at New Horizons; we are in a crisis of self-defining brought about by our collective intentions to weather the storms now confronting our country – and – therefore us. But we have long-held, reliable principles we’ve been practicing for more than forty years, at New Horizons, that are seeing us through the choppy waters now. At the top of the list and the bottom line of it all, of course is dialogue, not debate which we are truly adept at. How sweet it is! 

I have never before experienced the personal being so closely entwined with the political. But here it is! Maybe that’s good, maybe not. Nonetheless, mature and seasoned, as is my wonderful board of directors, grown now from three members to six, we are, daily, drawing from the lessons we have offered you, over the years, and coming through the bumpy places change is bringing us, relatively effortlessly, given the scope of what is happening.

Having raised two biological children of my own and helped to round out the growing pains of countless others as a psychotherapist, I have become accustomed to the signs, the conflicts and the pain of working through the years of identity crisis that come naturally out of the thrust and the striving to reach maturity. 

The crisis of one’s seeking to discover and hold intact one’s identity is grounded in struggling to find wholeness. The process is a rocky road at best. In many respects the time seems to begin in adolescence. Yet it’s coming actually began at birth, when first we separated from our mothers. The entire process, in some regards, lasts, once consciously recognized, often volatilely at adolescence, throughout the rest of one’s entire life.

There is no easy way to go through this process, known in psychological terms as individuation.  Wikipedia describes "individuation" as the expressing of how a thing is identified as an individual thing that "is not something else. This includes how an individual person is held to be distinct from other elements in the world and how a person is distinct from other persons.”

Today we are seeing, more and more, that a Republican is quite distinct from a Democrat, a Liberal is different than a Conservative. Actually, in the world of my own, personal mind, I hadn’t paid too much attention to these labels insofar as they related to me, until now. I had adopted the Democratic voting position, along with its apparent values, because that was how it had always been done in my family.

With Barak Obama in office, I found that this designation on my voter registration was too limiting, so I had switched to being a registered Independent. By the time our recent presidential election campaign had ended, along with its attendant, highly charged and conflicted outcome, I no longer “felt myself” completely in alignment with that designation either. Still it is the best I can presently find. So I have no intention of reassigning myself further. I am truly enjoying, at this point, individuating politically. 

This means affirming who I am, with my own unique view of the world, not identifying with one ideology or another! In all of this shifting, for you and I, as well as those around us, is the issue of self-definition

Contemplating this state of affairs takes me back to my psychological heritage as a Transactional Analyst (TA). With TA as an organizing base I have looked at myself and my place in the world around me with the notion of having a personal life script, as TA holds that we all do. Script formation is based on the individual clarifying their personal answers to several basic existential questions –
  • Who am I?
  • Who are you?
  • What’s everybody doing here?
  • And, what am I to do, as me, with people like you, in a place like this?
These are questions each one of us must answer as we develop from childhood through to adulthood and beyond into our waning years. These are questions a society can also be charged to answer, collectively, as the collective is but a representation of the individual, multiplied many times over. Societies, too, have scripts, cultural scripts.

At this point, New Horizons is now beginning to re-define itself. I, too, am, deeply involved in that process, personally. Parallel to this, our society is in midst of a redefinition. As with adolescents and the adults around them, growing pains are often manifest in chaos. A coming apart at the seams is what this growing-up phase can seem like. With mature decision-making along the way, however, eventually all, generally, will turn out well, with the gift of many lessons accrued to look back upon from these growing pain.

Our present and societal and political upheaval, thus, also brings us to consider -- 
  • Who am I in terms of my place in this society?
  • Who are you in terms of your place here?
  • What’s everybody to do here, now, in this society?
  • And, what am I to do, now, in a place like this – and – at this time?
I bet you are wondering about these things, yourself, these days. Give yourself time and patience to sort the answers to these questions out – and – find your peace in the midst of chaos.

Perhaps this is where the United States of America is now -- in the midst of growing pains

If so, it is reasonable to fear not. 

But hold on to your hat!