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Are you Psychic? Take the survey–let’s talk

Psychic experiences–we all have them … the phone call after you think of someone, the feeling like someone is staring at you from behind, and they are … so many more.

But before we get into all the swirling thoughts about mysticism, take this survey: It comes from a great book you may want to buy: The Psychic Pathway by Sonia Choquette.

#1 rarely        #2 Sometimes     #3 often              Pick one after each question.

  1. When I am with someone, I am aware of how they feel.
  2. If I met someone for the first time, I draw an accurate picture of what they are like.
  3. I am able to make decisions easily.
  4. I am aware when someone is manipulating me.
  5. I can tell if someone is lying.
  6. I can tell if someone is giving me a true account of a situation.
  7. I get involved with other’s problems.
  8. I can see clearly why people have a problem with something.
  9. I can change my plans easily if I get a bad vibe.
  10. I can stand up to dominating energy.
  11. I am able to know what I want.
  12. I can say no to someone.
  13. I can express myself easily.
  14. I trust myself to make decisions.
  15. I ask other’s for advice.
  16. I conform to win approval.
  17. I take care of my body.
  18. I eat/drink/sleep to escape my feelings.
  19. I knew something was going to happen before it did.
  20. I think of people and they call me the same day.
  21. I sense things before they happen.
  22. I have vibes but ignore them.
  23. I am afraid of my intuition.
  24. My life has lots of coincidences.
  25. I believe I have a higher self watching over me.

Rate your questions:

1 point for number 1

2 points for number 2

3 points for number 3

If your score was 25-39– You are not in the habit of reflecting on how people and situations affect you. This will change if you open your intuitive self.

If your score was 40-59– You are already quite tuned to a psychic energy, although you may not call it that. You may just consider yourself “hypersensitive.” If you increase continue to open your intuition, you will have a increased sense of safety, guidance, and well-being.

If your score was 60-75– You probably are aware that your awareness is exceptionally developed, but you may not trust it completely. You need to develop confidence as you integrate your abilities into your daily life. You will, as Sonia says, learn how to drive you car instead push it.

Let me know your opinions about the survey, and how you did. Next meeting: Opening up to your psychic mind.

I’m learning more about  psychic abilities for my psychological thriller: Moloch and the Angel (working title). I’d like to share what I know, get some feedback from you about your experience and how you reacted … might be another book in it, a non-fiction.




The ICWP 50/50 Applause Awards- 5mths and 58 recipients

                                         The 50/50 Applause Awards

The International Centre for Women Playwrights’ 50/50 Applause Award Committee is pleased to officially announce the award recipients for the 2016-2017 season, celebrating gender parity for women playwrights at 58 theatres throughout The United States, Canada, Australia, Germany, United Kingdom, Singapore, and Tasmania. These 58 recipients will receive the prestigious 2017 50/50 Applause Award, for producing 50% or more plays by women playwrights in their 2016/17 season. 

For five months I’ve been working on a huge project for The International Centre for Women Playwrights titled The 50/50 Applause Awards. The mission of the awards is to honor those theatres that produce women playwrights as often as male playwrights-50/50. Right now, production numbers for women playwrights stand at about 25-27% percent worldwide. Some plays by women, when produced, have less performances than plays by men.


And now, when I can prattle on and on about how difficult it is to find theatres that have both men and women playwrights, not filled with festivals, have full-length plays, and other items necessary to the rules, I’m beat. I was high yesterday when the announcements went out and the accolades came in. The high was more than relief. It felt like success, an achievement of magnitude was completed. Our 50/50 team succeeded, and changed some requirements of the program, challenged some higher public theatres that are by their own funding rules supposed to have equal production–women and men–gender parity and diversity– for tax-paying women and men. 

Would I do this again? Probably.  Is it worth the time and energy? I  believe so. Does it truly make a difference to theatres whether or not they are one of the recipients? I don’t know … but I suspect some are excited and that an impact has been made to their future scheduling, as well as thoughts about gender equality–like the true meaning, like don’t ever say men write plays better than women. Like #equity #gender

After every long project, when the baby is born, the high is replaced by exhaustion, questioning, and some reevaluation.

Will I do this next year, I ask myself once again? Ask me in four months when the dust has settled and the excitement grows anew. The quest is an important one. But for this year, we feel our goals were accomplished. Year number six for the 50/50 Applause Award, a project of the International Centre of Women Playwrights (ICWP).

The press release and video can be viewed at For the video, if you go to:  you can watch the video and then “like” it by clicking on the thumbs-up icon. It’s long. So hang in there.

This is one of the most worthwhile organizations for women playwrights. If you are a women, and a playwright, JOIN.




Cross Country Move


It’s been awhile. Life has turned up side down, then right side up, thankfully.

We moved! Moving, as anyone reading this knows, is a bitch. I’ve never spoken to anyone who said, “I just love moving, and packing up all my stuff —some of which I haven’t seen for years– in boxes I stole from store parking lots, liquor stores, back allies, and friends garages. Oh, and then numbering the boxes and scratching out what’s in the box–of course forgetting to add the little stuff I squished in to even out the top of the box so another box wouldn’t crush it when it was stacked. I particularly love that. And did I tell you about the stuff you leave behind because it cannot fit in another space of the truck–brooms, vacuum, cleaning items, along with hangers, and  those little things that we collect to put in little spaces so the spaces look full and beautiful, except when we have to collect them all and pack them so they don’t break. I, especially love leaving my ‘I love Hawaii’ plate on the trash can. But, my all time favorite thing about moving is carrying all those boxes up and down steps.”

Hear that lately about moving? I didn’t think so. Then to move across country!Yep, especially when you drive cross county with a loaded car and bags at your feet of things you absolutely must have.

and then snap photos like a tourist, and make believe you are having a great time, worn, befuddled, and wanting sleep—wondering why you took a photo of a horrible statue.

Finally, you make it to your destination, Tarrytown, NY. You exhale. You look around. This is going to be okay.

After some some wine, and some sleep.

And of course, then you unpack.



Fake News–Not Truth, Not Justice, Just the American Way?

Fake news, the outgrowth of propaganda, continued:

 A few examples of Fake News from the late 1700’s– the time of the American revolution. I was amazed how much propaganda, as Fake news was once called, was spread during those times, and the damage it caused. However, why was I so surprised? Could it have been my belief in truth, justice, and the American Way? Maybe we should just leave it at: The American Way.

TAKEN FROM: Fake News Presidency- Dana Milbank- Washington Post, Nov. 18, 2016

In 1769, John Adams gleefully wrote in his diary about spending the evening occupied with “a curious employment. Cooking up Paragraphs, Articles, Occurrences etc. — working the political Engine!” Adams, along with his cousin Sam and a handful of other Boston patriots, were planting false and exaggerated stories meant to undermine royal authority in Massachusetts.

Several other leaders of the American Revolution likewise attempted to manage public opinion by fabricating stories that looked like the real thing. William Livingston, then governor of New Jersey, secretly crafted lengthy pieces that newspaper publishers featured. One, titled “The Impartial Chronicle,” was anything but, claiming that the king was sending tens of thousands of foreign soldiers to kill Americans.

                                                      Benjamin Franklin’s printing press

But the most important was crafted in 1782 at a makeshift printing press in a Paris suburb. Benjamin Franklin, taking time out from his duties as American ambassador to France, concocted an entirely fake issue of a real Boston newspaper, the Independent Chronicle. In it, Franklin fabricated a story allegedly from the New York frontier .

The story was gruesome: American forces had discovered bags containing more than 700 “SCALPS from our unhappy Country-folks.” There were bags of boys’, girls’, soldiers and even infants’ scalps, all allegedly taken by Indians in league with King George. There was also a note written to the tyrant king hoping he would receive these presents and “be refreshed.”

To drive the point home, Franklin composed a fake letter from a real person, naval hero John  Paul Jones, that ventriloquized almost verbatim the Declaration of Independence, including the accusation toward the end of that document suggesting the colonies must declare independence because the king has “engage[d] savages to murder . . . defenseless farmers, women, and children.”

Turn the clocks forward two hundred and some years and bring in mass media, social media, and the ability to lie easily, a physiological human capability … the more you lie, the easier it is.

It was at Donald Trump’s first press conference as President-elect when the term “fake news” broke out of media discussions and into the mainstream. ( James Carson, The Telegraph, 3.16.17) “You are fake news!” he pointed at CNN’s Jim Acosta while refusing to listen to his question. Since then, the now President of the USA has been calling out major media outlets several times a week for being ‘FAKE NEWS’ via his Twitter feed – particularly CNN and the New York Times.

Back to Dana Milbank:

For 17 months, Donald Trump treated the nation to a series of outlandish promises. He’ll eliminate the $19 trillion federal debt in eight years. He’ll balance the budget without cutting Social Security, Medicare and other entitlements. He’ll bring back lost coal jobs. He’ll make Mexico pay for a border wall. He’ll deport 12 million illegal immigrants while growing the economy by at least 6 percent.

Now Trump is the president-elect, and it’s time to deliver on the impossible. No wonder his transition is racked with chaos and infighting.  Early indications are that Trump plans to continue to fake it … He tweeted that as a result of his work with Ford, the automaker would keep a plant that makes Lincoln SUVs “in Kentucky — no [sic] Mexico.”

But Ford had never planned to close the Kentucky plant. It was merely planning to make more Ford Escapes instead of Lincolns there — a change that would have resulted in no job losses. Ford is proceeding with its previously announced plan to build a new factory in Mexico.

How’s that for fake news?


Liar, Liar, World on Fire-

  Liar, Liar, World on Fire–confusion and rage, from the lies you told today


Even the most honest person has lied at least once in her or his lifetime. Sometimes lying feels justified and harmless—we call them ‘little white lies.’ Sometimes lying feels necessary in order to keep the peace between a spouse, friend, or family member.

A Journal of Basic and Applied Psychology study found that 60% of people lied at least once during a 10-minute conversation with a stranger—so perhaps we lie more when talking to someone we don’t know than someone who knows us and might see through our deception. According to psychologist Robert Feldman, the impulse to lie may also have a lot to do with our self-esteem, saying that, “We find that as soon as people feel that their self-esteem is threatened, they immediately begin to lie at higher levels.” 


From a study published in Nature Neuroscience, Tali Sharot from the department of experimental psychology at University College London and her colleagues devised a clever study to test people’s dishonest tendencies while scanning their brains in an fMRI machine.

They found that when people were dishonest, activity in a part of the brain called the amygdala—the hub of emotional processing and arousal—changed. With each scenario, the more dishonestly the participant advised his partner, the less activated the amygdala was on the fMRI. That may be because lying triggers emotional arousal and activates the amygdala, but with each additional lie, the arousal and conflict of telling an untruth diminishes, making it easier to lie. Sharot also found that the amygdala became less active mostly when people lied to benefit themselves. In other words, self-interest seems to fuel dishonesty.


“It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.” Mark Twain

Do those words ring true in the present situation? Are we not constantly kept in a dance of wonderment? What is the true story? How do liars deceive us?

Denial, the action of declaring something to be untrue (weather it is or is not) is a major way in which the lie grabs hold of the masses and forces them to wonder: what is the truth?  This is prevalent in our current political situation.

The Washington Post “Democracy Dies in Darkness” Paul Waldman 1.25.17

Denial is usually a combination of the following assertions: I don’t want to prejudge any case that might come before the court. Precedent is important. Nothing I said before now applies.  My personal views, if I should happen to have any, which I probably don’t, would never enter into my rulings (as Supreme Court Justice).. (minimizing)

So John Roberts deflected questions about abortion …“That was a statement that I made at a prior period of time when I was performing a different role,” he said, and “when someone becomes a judge, you really have to put aside the things you did as a lawyer at prior points in your legal career and think about legal issues the way a judge thinks about legal issues.” So no problem. (rationalizing)

When Republican nominees perform this absurd charade, the Democratic senators inevitably find it maddening, since everyone knows how full of it the nominee is. So the senators try to ask the question a dozen different ways to see if they can come up with a key that will unlock the truth, and they inevitably fail.

What we do know is that whoever gets the nomination, he’ll be a vote to overturn Roe. No matter how much he tries to deny it.

And he will be an expert in making us wonder, giving us cause to pause and even believe that denial. If that person is clever enough, and the issue is not as prominent as Roe vrs. Wade, he or she may be protecting, through denial, his or her’s real truth. Then the statement is not only that Democracy dies in darkness, but now that Democracy dies in the darkness of denial.

In my next article, I will discuss other ways in which lies succeeds in undermining our own beliefs.




Your Bucket List: and what is that anyway?

I was so excited this week–one of my short plays was accepted into Flush Ink Productions in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. I was spewing virtual champagne to everyone. I was now an international playwright. I said to several of my friends, “That was one of the three items on my bucket list–along with getting an agent for my book, and finally getting my scuba license.” One of my friends said, “You’re too young to have a bucket list.” Then I wondered aloud, “Really, how old do you have to be?” That got my curiosity juices going, and pushed my “research it” button.

So here are some of the suggested histories of the word: from the Internet, and before the movie “The Bucket List” with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson (2007).

Some people say that it dates back to the Middle Ages, when a method of execution involved the victim standing on a bucket with a noose tied around their necks.  The bucket would then be kicked away and the victim would strangle to death.

Wikipedia states: Its earliest appearance is in the Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue (1785), where it is defined as ‘to die’. In John Badcock‘s slang dictionary of 1823, the explanation is given that “One Bolsover having hung himself from a beam while standing on a pail, or bucket, kicked this vessel away in order to pry into futurity and it was all UP with him from that moment: Finis“.[3]

Another popular theory involves a reference to the Catholic custom of holy water buckets.  It used to be that after a person died their body would be laid out and a bucket of holy-water would be placed at the feet of the corpse.  Friends and family who came to visit and pay their respects would sprinkle the body with the water

Finally, there was once a children’s game that was quite popular. In this game children would kick a ball about buckets that were placed randomly.  If they “kicked the bucket” they would automatically lose the game and have to sit out.

The term “bucket list” was not in one of my favorite reference books, The Facts on File:Dictionary of Cliches by Christine Ammer. I believe because the term “bucket lists” also applies to computers, and an early definition having to do with gathering of words, their meanings, as well as opposite and similar meanings, and placing them in a bucket–a precursor to the dictionary. 

The list is associated with death, and fostered by the movie, what you place in that bucket before you kick it away– things that you would want to do before you die,  (maybe within a very short time, or not).

What kinds of things would you put on your bucket list?

My bucket list is ongoing, and ever-changing. Since I’m still alive, and I have dreams of accomplishing different goals at different times. Actually, having achieved some of my dreams, my list became more of an ongoing-life’s list, rather than a before-death list–hence, no age limitation. Is that like: is your cup half-full or half-empty? Hmm …

What I like most about the meaning of the words, bucket list, is the seriousness of the contemplation before I write my list–because of the history of the word. I evaluate the most important achievements to reach–even if it’s only until my life changes again, and another dream comes to the foreground. Some items do drop off the list as time goes by, too. I asked myself: “What were you thinking? Jump out of a plane and hope the chord works? Naa.”

New Year’s Eve Day thoughts

May the New Year bring to you-Warmth of love, and a light to guide your path toward a positive direction.

Painting by Nancy Vilhauer- Honolulu, Hawaii

It’s hard writing at the year’s end-especially when one is expected to look backward and forward at the same time. It’s like being on the fence. Is forward looking going to help me feel more hopeful, more positive, more fulfilled or fruitful? Will I place myself on a path where I can feel more accomplished, at ease with myself, at peace? For me the answer is no. The light, for me, is staying on the path I chose many years ago, noticing more and more of the world around me as I travel the color-filled road.

Imagine every year starting on a new path–dizzy making if you ask me. No wonder people get so confused–every year they pick resolutions for change and improvement–sometimes the same one. They wonder what it is they really want and how they really feel about themselves. Maybe just sticking on the same path, following the same bright light, not getting lost,  is the answer.

As for looking back on 2016? I did well! Loved my work, had a few mishaps, and a made a few switcheroonies, plays took over short stories for a large percentage of the writing–wrote a few articles, met a few playwrights and actors that showed me some people are their work. Kept in contact with those I love, sent out gobs of queries … writing another novel.  Hmm … I was so conflicted this year about whether to write short stories, plays, or novels, and get my novel out, yet, I did all four. A decision was made. So this year I will continue to follow the light of my own creativity and my creative projects–and that includes myself. I will slow down the pace this year, I’m happy to say, but the path will remain the same, and the light will come from me.

Hope you have a wonderful new year’s time, and don’t pressure yourself with future resolutions or dwell on any disappointments.




“Dreams are illustrations…from the book your soul is writing about you.” Marsha Norman

10614259_10152686201461823_7648764409462098800_nI had the weirdest dream last night. (How many times have you said or heard that?)  Well, I did. I dreamed I was riding in a box down a river, but the river was moving dirt. So I got stuck.  (Don’t have to be a rocket scientist to get a sense of what’s going on here). But the clouds were changing into awesome colors, teal, oranges, pinks, golds, as if someone was painting them as I was watching them, like on a canvas. I didn’t know if it was sunrise or sunset colors, or a fantasy world. I woke up as the clouds were changing, but could hear the ca-ching of an old-fashioned cash register. Remember them? You actually had to push buttons in order to have the numbers register. Something like this, but newer-it was the one from Path Mark, a grocery store I worked in during high school.antique-cash-register-jpeg

As a therapist, I did a lot of dream analysis. I do believe like Marsha Norman, that the dream is the window of the soul, not the eyes, unfolding you. I usually did Gestalt Therapy. I used this therapy in the dream analysis in Moloch and the Angel , my mystery/thriller. It’s based on a simple philosophy: Fill your emotional voids so that you can then become a unified whole. Perls believed that dreams contained the rejected, disowned parts of the Self. Every character and every object in a dream represented an aspect of that Self. Ask questions of every object in the dream, take on the role of that object, and a person could very well uncover buried emotions and acknowledge what was missing in their lives. Dreams breathe life into consciousness. So I talk to different aspects of my dream. The me in my dreams are the dullest–so covered with defenses. I talked to the cash register, asked why it was there and what did it want. Most importantly, what did they think was I doing there? Same with the clouds, and the dirt and the wooden box–holding me from drowning in crap. This type of analysis is informative, and it’s fun–usually very revealing. It was the changing colors in the clouds that revealed the most. I had to talk to each color. Teal is my color, so the mixing with the other colors became the focus point of the questions. I don’t like the color pink, although I didn’t realize that color would represent all I didn’t want to do, and the people, I didn’t want to be with, and how I thought the interaction with the other colors would yield me nothing. Ca-hing, the draw opens and it’s empty.

The dream illuminated for me the desire to go back into my cave and stop doing so much work with so many people–definitely dragging me through the mud. But then again, I’m sure other interpretations  can be reached through other types of analysis. But it felt good, and it felt right, so my soul keeps writing …


The League of American Pen Women first place winner: me

pen-womenLarry Gill of the Lorin Tarr Gill Foundation (Hawaii) was present to hand out the awards for the winners of the Pen Women Writing Competition. I won first place in the non-fiction category for my memoir “Grandpa Hoeler and the Race Riots.”

certificate Seventy-two people were present at the luncheon for the awards ceremony.

Without further adieu: I present the winning piece:

“Grandpa Hoeler and the Race Riots”

          Grandpa Hoeler built most of the houses in the neighborhood where he and my grandmother lived. He was as rooted to his land as the pole on which he raised the flag every morning and from which he removed the flag every night, no matter how big a storm raged throughout the day. He shuffled his eighty-five-year-old feet in tiny steps to the old oak chair planted on the landing. Gray-and-white suspenders held up his gray flannel slacks, which crumpled up his bleached white cotton shirt.

I would barge through the side entrance of the house, barrel up the five steps, and notice the faraway gaze in his intense blue eyes, yelling my hello as I dashed left toward the kitchen.

His straight gray hair, with a few wisps of black, would dip onto his face as he stopped me. “Hey, kid, get me a beer.”

It was our ritual hello. He wanted me to run back down the five steps to the door, and then another five to the basement refrigerator. My grandmother placed the beer there so he would have to shuffle his way down the two flights of steps to the damp, dark coal cellar. I would sometimes find him sitting down there alone in the darkness and wonder what he was thinking.

Sometimes I would say, “No.”

He’d mutter something , then yell, “You damn fresh kid, now go down there and get me a beer.”

Most times I would. I loved my grandfather, even though he and my grandmother, true Germans, showed little affection.

I guess I realized he was my hero when I was eleven, in 1964. That was the year before a white policeman shot Lester Long, a twenty-two-year-old unarmed African- American, to death during a drug search. It was two years before National Guard tanks rolled through the Central Ward of Newark, New Jersey, in hopes of quelling what turned out to be a six-day race riot that killed 23 people, injured 725, and incarcerated 1,500.

Often, the African-American Avon Avenue kids would chase me home. I became a very fast runner and even joined the track team, and became the only “cracker” to place in a heat. Grandpa laughed when he heard that. By then, I was sitting with him on the top step while he drank beer and my grandmother cooked dinner. I told him I wished I had been born a black boy instead of a white girl. All our neighbors were black. He would talk about Germany and what many went through, leaving their homes, family, and work when Hitler came into power.

“Eh, in Germany, it was the Jews. Here, it’s the blacks and whites. Just don’t let them catch you.”

“Will you time me running up the driveway? I’m getting faster.”

“Get me a beer.”


My grandfather and I would argue about which show to watch on the little black-and-white TV, while we waited for my parents to come from their New York City jobs, eat dinner, and turn around again to our own home, where I lived late weeknights and weekends, in Union, New Jersey. I wanted to watch Astro Boy, while he wanted to watch The Life of Riley. He mainly won, except when I had a bad day at school or when I didn’t run as fast as the Avon Avenue School kids. During the shows he would ask me about my day.

“Did you get in trouble today?”

“No. But, Virginia beat up Ken during math. Sister Marie DePaul cried the whole time. Ken said he didn’t like the smell of her nigger perfume.”

“Eh, that stupid kid. You gotta keep your mouth shut.”

“Yeah, I guess.”

I liked to believe that I was a carpenter’s assistant. Although he could barely move, my grandfather had me set up two workhorses and told me to get the wooden saws and the 2-by-3-by8 pieces of wood so I could make stilts. He sat there and drank beer and instructed me on how to make them. I brought them to school and awed everyone; all colors and makes of people were impressed as I walked the halls two feet above my fellow students.

Grandpa Hoeler reminded me that he had built the houses on the block.

“People don’t ask what color the builder was. They like the house, they move in.” He spoke, then cleared his throat of the phlegm that settled in the back.

A man of few words, I believed he loved me. He even showed Afro-American Judith Smith, my best friend at the time, how to make stilts. We constructed stilts and go-carts in the first of six connected, brown wooden garages in the backyard behind my grandmother’s garden.

They rented out four of the garages to people who worked in New York City and took the bus from Newark. One garage housed pigeons. A man would catch them in our backyard and place them in the garage. I would often go in to watch them. Grandpa would drink beer with the pigeon man and the three of us would sit and talk about the birds. I named some and had my favorite, and Grandpa and the pigeon man would remember their names. I was always impressed by that. When the pigeons left, the pigeon man would say he had found the bird a good home. What did I know? I was eleven during this time. How did I know they wound up on a dinner plate?

Newark had become a bed of coals waiting to ignite, and ignite they did after Lester Long was murdered. The fire of fear jumped from family to family, street to street. Black gangs would throw stones at the whites. Many of the whites moved, leaving few left. My parents wanted my grandparents to move to Union, New Jersey, near us, but they refused. My grandfather continued to sit in his chair, shuffling in and out of the house for the flag, and to drink beer. This was his home and this is where he would stay.

At the end of a cool April day (two months before Lester Long was murdered), I exited the school building in single file with my classmates. A Puerto Rican girl named Ann Marie had promised to pulverize me at the corner of 10th Street and Avon Avenue. She had spread word of my fate around the school and a crowd formed to watch. I was filled with such rage that I pounded her—to my complete shock.

I had stopped running.

The school called my grandmother, never my best fan, and I was made to sit in the dining room, past darkness, to wait for my parents, who were due in three hours.

Saddened by the whole day, I tried to lose myself in fantasy. The door behind me was a swinging door into the TV room. My grandfather rarely sat in the chair behind the door anymore because it was too close to the TV and too hard to get up from. He had to grab the arms of the chair and push. I heard him clear the phlegm from the back of his throat and knew he was about to speak.

“You got in trouble today, kid,” he whispered.

“She said she was gonna beat me up and she hit me in the face; she hit me first. So I punched her in the mouth. Now grandma thinks I’m bad,” I whispered back.

“What does she know? Eh, you’re not bad.”

“Grandma says the school called. I broke Ann Marie’s tooth, and her nose bled.”

“Kids shouldn’t be fighting. I’ll put on the TV.”

The Life of Riley?”

“No, your show, kid.”

“Grandma won’t let me leave here.”

“You can listen. I’ll turn it up. I’m going to get a beer.”

I heard him turn up the sound, then shuffle toward the basement. When he returned he yelled at my grandmother: “Let the kid watch her show.”

“No, Jules. Turn off the TV.”

“No, I’m watching it.”

He sat down in the chair behind the door and stayed there the three hours before my parents came home, except for two more visits to the basement (taking a few minutes with grunts to get out of the chair)

That summer my parents decided to take me out of the school. Newark had become too dangerous. It was the same summer that my grandfather slipped on some wet bricks, in a thunderstorm, while taking in the flag. My mom swore it was rocks from the black gang.

Either way, I lost the most important person in my life.

There were never heroic words or heroic actions from Grandpa Hoeler. Yet, I always felt that he had saved me from hatred and loneliness

Grandpa died and his old office on Springfield Avenue was burned to the ground in the racial unrest. My grandmother finally moved—after the tanks rolled into Newark.


Creativity is Feminine II-guest blogger, Gail Taras


deerThere is no question that creative inspiration is feminine – which is not to say that only women can be creative. Men and women alike have both masculine and feminine energies within, and the harmonious integration or of these is the goal of both Jungian psychology and most Eastern spiritual practices. So much of the Masculine is about pushing out into action, about competing; but sometimes what we have to do requires moving inwards, embracing uncertainty and allowing more time to really open up to what is possible. Inspiration is something which must be received. It can’t be manufactured or called up on demand. And receptivity is the essence of the Feminine.

The Feminine is very much in touch with feelings. She is connected to the body. Intuition and “knowing” are received through subtle feelings in the body. The Feminine archetype is fluid, supple, flexibile, flowing. If that sounds like a description of a dance, it is. There has to be a dance between the Feminine and Masculine archetypes and the traits inherent in those. To plan, to execute, to do, to act, to accomplish – these are the gifts of the Masculine. But the Feminine is the abundant capacity to open, energize and shine light, beauty, and replenishment upon all within her field.

The Feminine Archtype

The Feminine Archetype is cloaked in mystery and so is often misunderstood. Emotions are volatile by nature. She brings not only inspiration, but also transformation and initiation. Creativity has a light side, and also a dark side. A full range of expression includes both. Initiation is sometimes painful. When we limit what we believe is “acceptable expression” a lot of what needs to get expressed it comes out destructively. In both business and our personal lives, creativity happens in context. Boundaries are set — but when it’s so judged, then it gets bottled up. So this might mean that we believe that we need to keep creativity and the free distribution of ideas cloaked, which eventually leads to the false idea of scarcity.

With technological advances, information is shared left and right, whereas before it was much more difficult. Creativity is the same way — when it’s allowed to flow, it can only stimulate more ideas, more creativity, more business, more abundance, than is the case when you “keep it close to you.” When we allow the flow of creative ideas, it’s more of a generative expression. If we let it out in one way or place, it supports creativity in other areas.

The predominant business mindset is that we have to produce right away. We have to measure, analyze, and quantify outcomes. The values of our contemporary Western culture are steeped in these Masculine concepts. The trajectory towards data and quantification is ever increasing in this “age of acceleration” and digital disruption, and it’s throwing us all out of balance.

The Wave

Everything is a wave, but in most organizations and the economy in general, progress is seen as a straight line, and it’s always supposed to go up — profits are supposed to go up, production is supposed to go up, earnings are supposed to go up. But that’s not the way that Nature or creativity works. In Nature and in creativity there is ebb and flow, up and down, give and take.

Individually and organizationally, suppressing one’s creativity, intuition, vision, and the other traits associated with the Feminine archetype has high costs. Burn-out, less-than-optimal decision-making, putting “blood, sweat and tears” into something that ultimately has no meaning for us personally. Relationships suffer. Collaboration suffers. Judgment is placed on people and their expression — what the “appropriate” expression is, or should be – which leads to fear of expression.

Creative inspiration comes to us unbidden. Often when we’re most relaxed, and exerting the least effort. But also sometimes when we’re confronted with life-changing events. When we’re suddenly shocked into realizing that we have no choice but to let go of trying to control outcomes and just trust the Universe, everything stops for a moment. Unexpectedly an opening appears in the fabric of ordinary experience allowing something new to flow through. I think here of a musician friend who wrote one of his best songs while laying in a hospital bed waiting for his first chemotherapy treatment. In what was possibly the most frightening moment of his life, Mark Karan picked up his guitar and in 15 minutes he’d written Walk Through the Fire. He says he really never knew where that song came from, or how it was channelled through him. He just knew it was a “gift”.

“Hercules, as intellect, must learn to listen. The year he spends following the hind is a training in receptivity. We too must train our minds to follow the inner emotional life, to track the varied movements of our heart without interference, going wherever it takes us.

As psychologist John Welwood writes: “When we first open to our pain, it often feels as though we are bleeding. Yet this kind of emotional bleeding helps awaken the heart, allowing vital energies in us that have become coagulated to circulate again. To let our pain move in this healing way requires awareness, courage, and gentleness – being present with the pain instead of believing scare stories in our mind about where it might take us.”

Hercules carrying the wounded doe on his shoulders is an image of the Masculine warrior uniting his spirit with the vulnerable Feminine. When he runs into Artemis something divine happens. He stammers an explanation. He tells the angry goddess about his pain, his madness, his wife and children, the labors of King Eurytheus. Artemis is moved. Her heart breaks open with sympathy and compassion. She heals the doe and lets the hero complete his labor. She models empathy – which is the divine potency we unleash when we awaken to our feelings. Empathy is the real treasure. During the difficult and transformative years ahead, I suspect we will need a lot of it.”

Image from Lisa Schrader, Awakening Shakti.-

Gail Taras





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