Share and Reflect on your Personal Stories to Gain Life-Changing Insights
My passion is to invite people to reflect on their own life choices, cultural assumptions, belief systems and biases on 8 different aspects of life, as I have been doing for decades now, reaping deep rewards and meaningful insights.
I invite you to FREE-ly join this (inner or "in-sights") ride! Take some time to reflect on your own life junctures and choices, and share your significant ‘Aha’ moments or insights. We all become more conscious, enlightened and aware of our shared human experience by reflecting, discovering, and sharing.
You can share your story via short text, images/pictures, audio, poem or own artwork.
A sampling of notable stories from various topics.
My Hopes for 2021
As we enter the new year (2021), after reflecting on the chaos of this year, especially what they are calling a pandemic and how otherwise intelligent people are acting and reacting, I find myself really hoping that it will come to an end and life pretty much will return to a more normal state, with people not being so afraid. Hopefully people will learn to take better care of their health - especially their immune systems. I personally feel betrayed by all the goings-on and decisions being made that affect me and my personal freedoms. The following poem, written in the 1990s by me, shows how this type of chaos affects me and how I feel about it. If nothing else, this experience reminds me of the fact that we have a very powerful God!
Masque of Betrayal
Betrayal is hell, burning, blazing well; inferno on water, gut wrenching slaughter:
I have no heart left.
So feels it by trust and love. Masquerade of friendship - there's no Dove
Like white trash as flowers, hatred - guise of towers of righteousness and strength. Really, though, a stench
in the cloak of truth A study of ruse. Hope, trust, friendship - is there an end to this?
God conquers all. Love is too tall to be squashed and eliminated. Loyalty, in God's eye reigns supreme.
New year, dreaming that the planet can heal physically and emotionally from the pandemic Heart beats anew Hope rises to the surface I dream in glitter
My resolve to help people who are suffering To be a better mom To participate in more video chats with family To meditate and take long walks through forests
To slow down the speed of life To a dull murmur To visit an ocean in a far away place Sitting on the warm sand The sun's rays against my face The beautiful view of where ocean meets sky Finding hope, though slowly Feeling at peace.
If I had known, I would have lingered pressing our hearts together in that strange and sacred embrace. Inhaling the fragrance of your friendship, kindship, your being feeling your hair on my cheek and the texture of your sweater.
We murmured our goodbyes until next time - meant to be a day, a week, not a year, not a lifetime.
We pull apart, eyes meet again with gentle knowing: let this sacred touch keep you and be a balm for tortured thoughts, a vessel for secrets yet to share.
Had I known, I would have held you longer, breathed in more of you felt your heart a few more beats. But had we known, it might have been unbearable.
Now we hug in imagination, remembering the bliss of casual communion, and let this memory carry us until next time.
You are our most formidable enemy, after years of relative peace and prosperity
This is a defining moment. Our collective trauma has broken us down. Can we rebuild on this eroding foundation? Our way of life is based on trust and connection; these invisible threads that bind us also create the foundation for a strong economy.
While it is challenging to be analytical about the stress in our lives during a time of peak anxiety and sweeping change, and even more challenging to take off our armor and connect with each other, sustaining our way of life requires exactly this. We need to move our thoughts from the fight-or-flight system into the highest plane of who we are. Our future as a people, and as a united nation, depends on it.
Who would have thought that a gentle touch could be so dangerous when it is such a critical part of our wellbeing? How can we stay grounded and sane without a hug, a pat on the back, a hand shake?
Who would have thought that we could recognize a smile from seeing a slight crinkle around the eyes, a nod in passing, a wave? We have to look closely above masks to make that connection.
We continue to learn and adapt as Covid-19 engulfs us. We are finding ways to maintain relationships in the midst of chaos and uncertainty and hold fiercely to the love that binds us together.
Our hearts continue to beat with the rhythm of life as we press on through the shadows our eyes cannot penetrate. We are finding our way in the dark by searching and by accident, and we keep moving forward any way that we can.
We are resilient and brave, determined and innovative even though we have no idea how to find a resolution that will give us hope and will save us. One step, one day at a time moves us through fear.
We are holding in reserve the touch that will bring us back together, waiting until it is time to feel safe again.
This poem came at a moment of transition in my life; the end of a marriage I had been hanging onto. My personal landscape was scoured, and this represents a turning point from tragedy to acceptance of a new world.
A soft rain is falling falling around me my clothes are soaked I don’t care the dampness on my face feels good feels good come down rain come down touch my soul run down my nose down my chin envelop me so that I feel nothing but wetness nothing but wetness cold and warm and wet and be my companion my pores are thirsty to breathe the mist my body is water my soul is water my mind is at sea obscured by sheets of rain of rain a fire burns in my chest evaporating the water cold my skin is cold my heart beating fast like the hearth fire fanned by a blast from the open door the door is open and rain blows in my house threatening the fire pooling on the floor wrecking the carpet I don’t care let it all get wet open all the windows let the rain in let the rain in let it soak the bed let it get on the books let it ruin the lounge let the wind blow over everything so neatly arranged so neatly arranged let it make a mess and the fire sputters and complains but it won’t go out it just rages more valiantly fanned by the wind throwing itself around in the hearth no danger to the rain and when the morning comes and the mist is lifting and its clear the fire only a few coals the house damp then I walk outside filled with the sweet morning air then I walk outside my heart wide open
I would like the fire to eliminate the shame I feel at being inadequate in all aspects of my life. When my daughter was diagnosed with autism, some loved ones had said hurtful things, and others simply stopped being there.
I would like the fire to burn the wishes I had for my life to be replaced and rooted in realistic expectations. I would like the fire to take away my need to be perfect; and the worry I feel at helping my daughter navigate life.
I would like fire to stir in me the ability to help others and to find ways to ameliorate suffering. I hope the fire stirs within me activism to help people, and a way to make this world a better place.
My Dad had courage to go against the norm. The story goes that he prepared the men to go to war. He loaded them on the ships in Brooklyn, Fort Hamilton Army base. Some were frightened and would jump ship.
He was suppose to shoot them as deserters. He dove in the water and pulled them out. gave them a shot of whiskey and put them back on the ship. He was written up as an outstanding Sergeant. The sketch of him from the newsletter was on our fireplace. He was a rescuer and I followed that lead. firstly as lifeguard. then nurse. and then trauma psychologist.
He would teach us to ride horses, put us on the ponies when we were little. His Father., my grandfather was a horse trainer for the Russian Aristocracy.. inherited a strong love of horses and animals.
These are a few but important inheritances. I do not conform to norms as I have inspiration to go beyond them for the sake of humanity. The full story related to this healing journey is in my 2003 book "Dance of Psyche: Rhythm of Consciousness."
At this time in my life, between 68 and 80 years, I spend time with my primary teacher every day. I met her 12 years ago, an unexpected surprise. I was resistant to making the kind of commitment that would be required, especially financially. I said yes.
During these years, and continuing every day, I have been presented with access to eight concepts or qualities which would make for a good life, but with which I had little familiarity. 1. End every encounter on a positive note 2. Lead with the Heart 3. Patience 4. If it isn’t working after three tries, do it differently 5. Always be authentic, your best self. 6. Be completely present, wherever you are 7. It’s not about power, but clear, honest communication 8. Ignore all of the above and you can easily get hurt
Trust has developed slowly, from the very start. From what I can see, she, too, has had experiences that betray trust. She calls out to me when she sees me coming, or hears my car approaching, but once I get there she’s quiet and seems content as we proceed.
She’s a big girl, and I could easily get hurt, but she would never hurt me intentionally. If something happened, it would be either carelessness on my part on not paying attention and honoring, her true nature.
Her name is Dakota, she weighs 1100 pounds, and she’s my Draft-mix/ mare.
When I was a young child, I thought my grandmother was God, so I called her Godie. And that name has stuck ever since that day, when her beautiful lullabies permeated the tiny bedroom where I slept.
Her parents emigrated from Abruzzo, Italy, a region know for its culture and history. When Godie's parents arrived in Ellis Island, they hoped to find a better life.
Godie took care of her five siblings when her mother became ill. As the oldest she made sure chores were done on time. She carried these sentiments on, when I argued with her one day years later, insisting that I would put the laundry away later. "Now, put the clothes away, NOW!" I didn't argue again. I also did not protest when it was time for dinner. She would say, "Munga," and our family knew to get to the dinner table NOW!
Godie inspired me with her love of gymnastics, education (she was valedictorian of her high school), love of reading and generosity. She'd visit during the week and wash laundry to help my mother and cook meals.
She could not go to college because only the men were educated in her family due to financial hardship, but always wanted to be an English teacher. Her grammar was impeccable.
She taught me and all of her family, to be strong, resilient and to value hard work and education. So, she ultimately was, the greatest of teachers.
There were six of us cousins who ran around my grandmother's yard with baby dolls and toy airplanes, enjoying the warmth of the summer sun. We saw each other over holidays and at birthday parties. We played baseball together and spend evenings catching lightening bugs and laughing.
Yet on one horrible day, I found my younger cousins crying, saying goodbye to me and pleading that I should not leave my grandmother's house. I was confused. Why were my cousins saying goodbye?
Because of a fight between our families we were separated. I was told to move on with my life and realize that my cousins were gone. If I had only done more to achieve peace between our families, my cousins would have still been in my life, I thought.
Years later, through social media, all the cousins found each other. We now communicate, see each others' families through photo sharing and are all on great terms. Though time passed, the bond that had been broken between us through a feud that we had not been a part of, but still suffered from, was reestablished through love and great care.
Most of us have experienced discrimination and/or racism in some way during our lifetime. I am no exception. I will describe one small snippet of time during my previous work career.
I worked as a substance use counselor and prevention specialist for a dual diagnosis treatment agency for a number of years. During these years I successfully created and ran a one-person program for this agency in a public middle school setting in a cooperative arrangement, with very little help. During these years I must have interacted with well over 1,500 young students going through a very difficult age -12-14 years old - and I was well liked by the students.
I am also a good student and test-taker. For a while, my supervisor asked me to help other agency employees who were struggling to pass the needed credentialing exams. I happily agreed to do this on my own time. I remember one gentleman who had taken and failed the written exam at least seven times before studying with me. I observed him taking practice test questions, and was able to pinpoint why he was failing the exam. After a few weeks of practice, he took the test and passed!
I came to find out that he was working in a position at about my level (or even lower), but he was getting paid considerably more money than I was.
Did I feel discriminated against? You betcha
Lesson learned: Change the things you can, don't worry about the rest, and don't compromise your integrity and self-love just because others demean you.
Age 6: I watched a black soldier standing on line at the black's movie theatre at Eglin Air force Base looking at me, on line, at the white’s only theatre. The fear and anger I saw in his soul burned a lifelong impression in my consciousness. I saw racism at its core.
Age 16: The President of my graduating class at Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan, was a black friend, Cuthbert Courtney Callendar. Later that year, as a freshman at the, University of Illinois,I was thrown out of a barber shop because my buddy, football great, Abe Woodson, was black. "Get that Nigger out of here!"
Age 18: Arrested, and thrown jail, by Urbana, Illinois police because my college coed girlfriend, the college's marvelous actress, Marguerite Davis, who was in my car, was black. "You can't drive in this town with a nigger girl."
Age 19: Assaulted by NYC police because my girlfriend, Linda Jackson, was black. They traumatized two teenagers by beating on the top of my Dad's car with their clubs yelling "nigger lover".
In the modern era, my marathon running training buddy, Wayne Greene, was stared down repeatedly because he was running with a white man.
Age 53: My black friend, Russ Ellis, Olympic athlete and vice chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley refrained from asking my neighbors directions to my new home in Tiburon "to avoid seeing the expressions on the people’s faces when they opened their door and saw a black man standing there
I struggle to remember that other people exist. Of course, I know that they do, in theory. In theory, they have hopes, dreams, fears, children, lovers, moments of both sublime joy and of abject humiliation and despair. It’s the basic human quandary and establishes just how narcissistic I am…every single, and many times a day. A major guru (shrink) of mine prescribes that I continually offer unconditional positive regard to all beings. But I’m spotty on that. I have exceptions: my ex, Mr. Trump, fellow motorists. Honestly, anyone can make the list at any time, as I fight to pull well-being and self-esteem from others’ actions and imagined motivations, instead of from…contact with God/spirit? My dead but lively mother? The correct regulation of sleep, diet, and exercise? The degree of love shining from my womanfriend’s eyes? Or from my son’s, or daughter’s?
I remember a signal moment from last year. I’d emerged from the local, downtown, used-bookseller’s shop into bright afternoon sunlight and was about to get into my car. As I opened the door, I was struck by a slow, warm, huge feeling of belonging and togetherness with everyone around, both everyone I could see there and could imagine in a circle ranging far out from those downtown blocks. It was pure joy.
How long did the feeling last? Not long. What preceded it? Several weeks' hard work on my guru’s prescription.
My daily moral dilemma: to be mindful what works and to choose it.
When I read the novel, "I know this much is True," by Wally Lamb I related to the characters because their circumstances were eerily like my own. The dilemma I have faced, and our family has faced, for years is how to help a precious family member who is mentally ill.
I cannot count how many times I've visited this member in and out of hospitals, or received late night phone calls.
Morally our family tries to be encouraging, but emotionally are exhausted. Years of extensive therapy and different medication changes have seemed to not be helpful.
The dilemma I face as an adult is will I take care of this family member, or will I have to say I cannot. There are no easy answers and even less hope for help at this point.
My mother often cries, as have I year after year, hoping for relief to suffering for this loved one.
The crossroads that I am at, strangely, occurred with the zero tolerance policy for immigrants under the Trump Administration, when children and parents were separated at the southern border of the United States. I was upset, horrified and outraged when I saw these happenings and still am. It is hard for me to justify my viewpoint that "America is a land made up of immigrants."
Many friends/family do not share my viewpoint and think that these means are justified to secure stability and security for our country. I feel that by remaining silent I have condoned this behavior, but feel powerless to help and offer assistance. I would like to look into ways to help people that are suffering from politically oppressive regimes, and work to support tolerance and understanding between all nationalities and citizens.
Long after you are gone, I will still feel you in the morning walking on my body, pawing my face.
Long after you are gone, I will sweep up a hair— remains of lost love, maybe even find a whisker.
Long after you are gone, every pair of dark shoes seen from the corner of my eye will catch me off-guard with a glimpse of you.
Oh, how I dreamt if a cat came to my door I would keep her. Then you, abandoned in the field, were brought to me by my neighbor.
All of seven weeks old, you sat in the palm of my hand, then on my modem, then on my printer, and every warm place you could find.
Playful, endearing, your long brown hair and yellow eyes rendered you beautiful. Your skittish nature kept you from others. You were mine, all mine to enjoy, and I did completely.
Now, I watch every breath, every precious moment— waiting for my heart to be torn from my body, reliving 18 years of joy.
Oh, my little girl, I bid you sweet farewell as I brace myself for that last gasp of air, the breaking of earthly bonds that animals bring to the human soul, the love that cannot be expressed, only known.
I have found hope by learning to listen to my inner child. She is the one who can still see beauty in the mundane. She is the one who sees the leaves turn brilliant orange against a cerulean sky, who loves the holiday lights, who wants to sit by the fire in a cold morning. She clings to the stories of good in the world and in the neighborhood. She reminds me of the long arc of history when I despair over the state of our society. Some days when I am busy with work and the news and appointments her voice is so quiet I don’t hear her reminders and the future looks bleak. Some days even the smallest task seems pointless and overwhelming. Stories of the worst of humanity are front and center and I wonder who raised these people? How do they sleep at night drunk with power and starved of compassion? Then she will point to a hawk soaring overhead and I remember there is hope, and it is within me.
I looked and looked for an answer to the question of what brings me hope and discovered hope was not something I had to beckon or find.
Hope revives me when my heart feels cold and it’s winter and I’m walking outside thinking about the divide in our country and a neighbor walks by and I look up and wave and clap and and encourage her to keep warm, and we laugh together as we pass.
Hope humbles me when I change my mind and turn my cart around in the grocery store to find the woman who scorned me for snatching the last three bags of cooking apples -- when I find her isles away, offer her one of the bags, and see forgiveness on her face as she lifts the bag of apples into her cart.
Hope sustains me when kings and kingdoms rise and fall.
Not Your Usual New Years Letter to Loved Ones -- IN HINDSIGHT 2020
was personally, nationally and globally a shithsorm (that's "shitstorm," spelled differently so as not to offend anyone). We were visited by serial viruses and were sicker than really bad jokes from January to mid-May. Then we were behind on everything for months. David's old truck "Truckles" tried to commit suicide by popping his emergency brake (!) and driving himself across the road and down a ravine. He was repairable until the tow truck hauled him up the canyon, dragging one whole side of him through a tree. Truckles got his wish. And did the tow company make good? HA! Then there were wildfires here. David was sandwiched between two that came way too close even for his comfort while I beat it to friends' refuge for five days. Separation in the face of danger...There was even a quick flood! Felling dead trees, David's trustiest favorite little chainsaw got creamed by a 500 lb. piece of runaway firewood. On a much larger level we had a President who made the worst possible look better than that. People of color were killed for no good reason by the ones who were supposed to protect them. And there is a pandemic that is no joke at all, with an unmasked leader in denial who took a lot of people with him into his insanity of allsorts. People are dying, others grieving. There is fear, anger, loneliness, isolation and the fallout is horrendous. But then…….
IN HINDSIGHT 2020
. . . was also tender, instructional, clarifying, beautiful, unifying, catalytic. Forest beings sang us awake every day. People shopped for us when we were sick. People fed us. We got well. Our home and our connection were unharmed in the fire. Friends gave me shelter. David watered our evacuated neighbors’ gardens. Some wonderful strangers sold us their used pickup, now our “Frosty,” the nicest truck David has ever had, and they made it easy to do. No one got hurt in the process of felling gigantic sudden oak death trees on our land. It was a year for me of realizing the importance of what I put into the air we breathe, coming to know that outrage and anger, even for just causes, are not the food that children and old ones and all the ones in between need to thrive, to be strong enough to stand up and fight when it is needed. We need love, steadfast and stalwart leadership and stewardship, hope and positive action. Some of us made progress in understanding the prejudices we didn’t know we had. Many of us learned to appreciate the sustaining power of a hug, the connection of a simple handshake, the privilege of sitting next to a loved one, the human need for touch, the medicine of seeing faces we love on a computer screen when that is all that’s safe. People disinfected my shopping carts. People greeted me at the entrance to stores, counting ins and outs to make shopping safer. We learned to wait in line six feet apart. People wore masks. For the first time in my lifetime people all around the world were united by a disease that could kill and no one was immune. And we were all one.
Here we are in the human soup. Since the time of man, there have been killer diseases that no one knew how to cure, terrible despotic, insane leaders who harmed and neglected their people, generations of families who have known nothing but war, financial crashes that brought ruin, homelessness and unemployment. 2020 was not the “worst ever year.” It was simply a year of the human condition and here we are. We are glad to be alive in the thick of life. And we are wishing you the same, all of it, the fullness of life for another year. May you be healthy, safe enough, whole and loved.
I didn't write nor send the letter To you in the nursing home and now you are gone, though no longer suffering from COVID-19.
I can't forgive myself For the fact that I didn't say goodbye, or even hello
It was your jovial face that greeted me Each morning from the recliner When i would visit my grandparents And you, my grandfather's sister's husband Would say hello, and then we'd sit in silence, watching sports.
This time, as I write you the only Letter I can, a poem As tears cascade down my face Knowing that life is short but missing you, Longing for more than a memory A distant star You, dear star, gone.
“People often make decisions that are influenced by emotions that have nothing to do with the decisions they are making,” says Stéphane Côté, a professor at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. According to Côté, we fall prey to our biases all the time. We may be excited about an upcoming vacation and decide that now is the time to make that investment we’ve been pondering. Or […]
In life, there are some basic tenets. We will all die. The sun will rise every morning. Species will adapt to environmental cues. We will all have to face hardship at some point in our lives. These are things that we cannot change and there is comfort in knowing that certainty exists around us. But what is not certain is how we perceive the world around us. […]
People are social animals. We are meant to develop deep and lasting bonds that bring us comfort. Yet, here we are, isolated. The pandemic leaves no one unchanged. Many have argued that our health anxieties are raised now more than ever. But just recently a study conducted at the University of Bath looked at survey responses from over 800 people recruited online and via social media […]
Project Insights is a non-profit initiative founded by Dr. Ofer Zur to promote dialogue, common ground and sharing about the cultural assumptions and beliefs that impact our choices and define our human experience. Project Insights delves into ethics and moral dilemmas and breakthrough moments via personal stories of insight and reflection. Over the course of the next year we will be inviting you to reflect and share your significant ‘Aha’ moments of insight on various topics of our time such as Coronavirus, what you would burn away in a fire, people who inspired us, how racism has touched your life, moral dilemmas, what your pets have taught you, what gives you hope in trying times, New Years hopes, challenges and resolutions among other topics.