Site materials are based on the research, theories and clinical treatment and organizational development strategies of Martin G. Groder, M.D. and Anastasia Rosen-Jones (formerly Marcia E. Rosen). The Groder-Rosen formal name for the "Dark Side" is the "Survivor Addict".

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

How An Exceptional Community Life Became So Essential To Me

An essay on community life by Anastasia

I am now heavily steeped, day in and day out, working to complete a major portion of my Middle East Crisis In My Backyard: How Communities Come Apart and How They Heal book.  The other two books that I have currently in progress, Hot Pants, Motorcycles And K Street: In The Era Of Before Watergate and To See  Or Not To See And The Art of Transcendent Living, therefore, are needing to take a backseat for awhile.

Because “The Middle East Crisis book”is so relevant to what I am intent on offering on this blog site, I thought it might be appropriate for me to share a piece of that work in progress, such as it is presently. The piece that follows offers a window into a bit of my personal background that manifests itself in my devotion to community life, especially of the kind that I call the “exceptional community.” 

The essence of the “exceptional community model,” the name given to New Horizons’ particular approach to both exceptional leadership and exceptional community development training, while having a certain focus on “small zones of peace,” nonetheless is still in all a “think global, act local” approach. This emphasis becomes increasingly evident as our model is applied and understood for its wide-ranging implications. So let me begin with the mega view while making my way down to the smaller unit, the local community.

The phrase "tikkun olam," Hebrew for world repair and/or variations on this theme, has come to symbolize a certain philosophy of contemporary Jews; "tikkun" customarily meaning “fixing or rectification” and "olam" meaning world or universe. For many of us born around or after World War II these words have become a statement of our pledge that, not only shall we never forget what Hitler exacted of our people but our intention to build, out of this devastation, a world where things such as this would never occur again.

As I am of this generation of Jewish Americans, heavily marked by the persecution suffered by parents and grandparents who fled the oppression of the Czar in Eastern Europe and, in my case, a stepmother who was a German Holocaust survivor, the promise and the pledge of these words have been easily embraced. After all, in our homes we grew up with the stain of these tragedies affecting those closest to us. Thus we too were heavily impacted. As a result social justice and activism come naturally to us as an essential part of daily life. In fact social justice is an intrinsic facet of our heritage, especially those of us with a Eastern European heritage.

However, not having heard too much, directly, of the ordeals lived through by my grandparents or my stepmother who I called Mom, those in my family to immigrate to the United States, most of what I know of these trials came to me through the accounts of others more distant; most often from oral and written accounts of people outside my family. In retrospect I see now that the members of my family, rather than telling authentic stories of the difficulties of their lives in the “old country” generally masked their personal experiences of a negative vein with cover stories offered of a more palatable fare, before life in the United States. 

Seldom did they reveal their personal or even collective difficulties. An outward focus on present day life in the United States was the norm. Although on occasion my Mom would share a tale or two from her life in Shanghai, China after fleeing Hitler. Among these was that she and her first husband had fled there in 1939 where they remained until the Liberation in 1946.  By then she had divorced him, justifying her decision on his being unwilling to work in Shanghai where they lived in a refugee camp and knew even doctors to hire themselves out as bicycle messengers.

Even with limited knowledge of what our family members endured, many of us grew up with sensitivity to our elders and the personal wounds they harbored. As young adults, especially in the era of the sixties and seventies up against civil rights, women’s rights and Viet Nam, this understanding could easily find expression in social and political activism.

No doubt it is this inborn activism that prompts my devotion to creating what New Horizons terms “the exceptional community.” (I am the original architect of the New Horizons model although it has also been heavily influenced by Eric Berne, M.D. and Transactional Analysis and my mentors, Martin G. Groder, M.D. and Murat Yagan.) An equal, if not stronger influence on me, also shaping the model, is that from my biological mother I inherited a natural affinity for shtetl life; its customs and philosophies. These influences though muted are also a part of the weave of New Horizons' Exceptional Community Model.

The traditional shtetl, long gone from modern life, was originally a small Jewish town or village which existed in Eastern Europe before the Holocaust. Shtetl life was typically communal in spirit and carried its own culture in terms of having a language, Yiddish, and traditions, based primarily on the teachings of the Talmud, a central text of Rabbinic Judaism. 

Tsdokeh, a word often used to imply charity, but more accurately denoting social justice, was one of the most important tenets of the cultural values of the Jewish shtetl; the benevolence of good deeds being the “central mechanism by which (the) community” functioned. So supremely important was this value that “good deeds” were seen as basic to being a good Jew. 

(The Abkhazian traditions of Murat Yagan's heritage, as we learned of them from Murat, also hold attributes such as compassion, kindness, honesty, generosity and so forth to be essential to the life well-lived and a well-functioning community life. This similarity permitted Murat’s teachings to immediately be a comfortable fit for me/us.)

The Broadway musical, Fiddler On The Roof, depicts a slice of this way of life; a vivid picture of communal life, fraught with interpersonal complexities, yet filled, too, with loyalties, love and laughter, song and celebration.  Tsdokeh underlies all of this.

These distinctive cultures were not, however, only distinct from other mainstream Eastern Europeans, but were sometimes also poles apart from one another.  One example of this is that there were both Chasidic and non-Chasidic shtetls that often disparaged one another based on their differences. The shtetl of my heritage was definitively Orthodox but non-Chasidic with the Chasids often arousing superstition, even seen as harbingers of evil.

Translated into my more modern Jewish American ways these traditions of the shtetl were deeply rooted in me, in a value system that carried its way into what I considered to be a life well lived, personally, and as a part of the greater whole of humanity; a manner of living that makes “thinking globally and acting locally” simply a broadened perspective and an imperative born of shtetl life. 

In this paradigm forgiveness and reconciliation are viewed as fundamental to the well-lived life; trumping all other endeavors. But the matter transcends merely being at peace with oneself, ones family and friends or neighbor, the greater world around us and with the Divine. The very process of living by these values demands relentless self-analysis, determination and rigorous discipline. Contained within the endeavor lie the many gifts of alchemy; the transformation of our humanity; the evolutionary process of converting the lead within each of us into gold; individually and collectively.

In the shtetl value system, the effort to live by these values, day-by-day, calls up introspection and an ongoing accountability, as essential parts of charity/social justice that begins at home, especially with oneself. The culmination, as I have learned, is the passing forward of these principles to the next generations by living them. In this way the very essence of tikkun olam, the Jewish notion of world repair, comes alive, as it once did in shtetl life on a much smaller scale. 

One need only read the text of Jewish High Holiday rituals and prayers to see the principles of forgiveness, reconciliation and, above all, tsdokeh embodied throughout; not just in words uttered during these holy days, but as precepts to be lived during the course of the year as an essential way of being.  What is transformed on the personal level in the application of these ideologies affects, not only the individual, but also the family. What is transformed in the family ripples outward into the community and beyond. This is how it should naturally be, I believe.

The unexpected ways in which these traditional values of my Jewish heritage came to the fore for me and how I came to have them reinforced at a critical time in my life, by simply, and not simply at all, walking myself through a fire of personal challenge, I have come to call the “Jewish/Muslim Controversy” in my backyard that gave me the title for this book, The Middle East Crisis In My Backyard: How Communities Come Apart And How They Heal

Not that I believe that the old ways of the shtetl should be embraced, wholesale, but that, as with other traditional cultures in the process of dying out or already having died out, there are things to learn from a heritage, such as this, that can help us live more whole-heartedly and beautifully in our contemporary lives than we could ever dream up on our own, even by plowing through all the knowledge presently archived on the internet. 

The experience I had, as recounted in the book I now have in progress, changed my life, both personally and professionally. I hope my story when it is complete and available in print will inspires yours. Through this particular involvement I most profoundly found my devotion – and – my passion to certain ways of people being and living in mainstream communities with one another; practices I knew from first hand participation that can be realized even in this crazy world within which we presently find ourselves.

If you read through the contents of my three blog sites; New Horizons Small “Zones Of Peace” blog site, Anastasia The Storyteller and this one, Exploring Your Dark Side: The Adventure of A Lifetime – and – listen into the broadcasts or podcasts of my two radio shows; The Possible Society In Motion Radio Show and Anastasia The Storyteller, you will enumerable pieces of the overarching structure that makes up New Horizons Exceptional Community model and its accompanying training approach for Exceptional Leaders.

Excerpted from: 
The Middle East Crisis In My Backyard: 
How Communities Come Apart And How They Heal
(First, limited publication expected Fall, 2016)

Monday, May 30, 2016

Bored In America? Why I Decided To Go Fishing.

I discussed this theme on my last Possible Society In Motion Radio Show, “Bored In America. I Am Going Fishing.”  

The “why” about it is this ---

First off, my take on boredom is that it is an emotional, somewhat physically uncomfortable state that substitutes for the fullness of authentic, meaningful connectedness. 

(See the full GRAD definition here. Then score yourself on the Survivor/Addict Personality Inventory, which focuses on what I am really discussing here, to identify the personal characteristics of yours that feed this state. Each one of the items on the inventory can be a contributing factor to “your boredom. Think about it!)

Boredom then is akin, in many cases, to being a non-ingested chemical addiction, meaning an addiction state that the individual creates out of their own chemistry.

For example, no internet, no cell phone – boredom. But what about fishing?

If you can understand that “boredom” arises out of an emotional state reflecting the absence of meaning and/or substance, you might comprehend why I decided to go fishing, metaphorically (as the only fishing I have ever done is for crabs in the Chesapeake),  for the Memorial Day weekend.  

My family is dispersed, to say the least, and our wonderful U.S.A., as acted out in front of our very eyes amid unceasing reports of local, national and internation conflicts and violence along with our national election campaign drama, is hardly fulfilling. At least not for me, it isn’t. 

Everywhere we turn there are media reports of the rather routine proliferation of human impoverishment we are living in to the level of pure glut of nothingness!  I am concerned, of course. But still, after awhile this "news" is boring, especially when being any significant part of the solution is way out of reach.

This is except for the 1%, of course, exemplified by our noteworthy celebrities who are so bored they must create almost daily dramas of one sort or another, off or onstage such as the case may be, to seemingly give themselves some semblance of being alive. Boring!

When it comes to substance and meaning we are sadly lacking, steeped in want of the special kind of riches, unique to humans, that eludes many if not most, as things stand now.

But Mother Nature, the caregiver of forested trees, fishing holes, sparkling waters, bright sunshine and fluffy clouds is abundant with endless troves replete with natural resources to offset boredom.  That’s why with a free weekend for me, as this one has been, having gotten, early on, to the point of boredom with our present political campaign dramas and other offerings of the greater world via high tech, I thought going fishing would be my best bet, along with my daily indulgences of unlimted writing times.

Wishing you the abundance of your life well-lived and the bounty of your human endeavors overflowing, I offer you here one more tidbit for consideration on how to better our world, at least in America –

 If you’re bored, how about a walk in the woods or hanging out your own “gone fishing” sign – and doing it, one way or another.

Then, if you are still feeling an absence of meaning, tune into my podcast on –

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Where Was “There?” Or How I (Anastasia) Left The Dark Side

Before I get us to the “what” my new revelation now makes clear I find I must tell you, first, about the “there” that began my journey to get to the “here.”  I begin posting the saga now, a tale from which many teachable moments are derived.  To help keep it in order I offer it as 

“Anastasia’s story about pulling out of the Dark Side of Washington (D.C., of course).

You may be able to draw parallels of your own transformations out of the Dark into the Light from my stories. If so, please do post them in the comments section of this blog, or write me, more personally, at the contact under my alter ego icon to the side here. 

We survivors of the seductions of the Dark Side deserve to tell of our victories and have the opportunity to share our ordeals with others who can possibly be saved some bloodshed if inspired by our tales.

First and foremost allow me to underscore that the Darkness that had seduced me and embroiled me in its culture was the fast track of Washington, D.C., our nation’s capitol.  (unlike Chandra Levy and other victims I did escape, luckily, before it destroyed me as it has done to countless others in small and large ways.)

Marty Groder called Washington “the center of Darkness for the whole earth, next only to Moscow.” This was before the Iron Curtain came down. We created an ongoing battle regarding the issue; a form of verbal karate, known in some TA circles as "verbati." I don’t know what he would say today. 

Because this story is such a saga, with many teachable moments to be gleaned from it, I will be posting my tale as an ongoing post as additions of further the stories occur to me.

How Anastasia pulled herself out of the Dark Side of the Washington Game: Part I. 

(Some time, maybe not too faraway, I will share stories of how I got into the GAME in the first place and what I leared about how it works. That's a whopper of a story!)

The story of “Mommy, I hate your eye patch!” (Part 1)
(also posted on Anastasia The Storyteller, the story of "Discovering What Really Matters," January 30, 2015)

Words of a seven year old; my seven year old, named Elisa Joy.

I can still hear them ring out as loud and clear in my mind as if they had just been spoken yesterday.

“Mommy, I hate your eye patch!”
(formerly Marcia E. Rosen)
Circa, 1970

These were the words that changed my life; the words of my seven year old daughter speaking in the code of childhood. One had to be able to de-code child-ese to be able to understand them.

They told me she felt abandoned and betrayed by the disproportionate time I spent away from her, handling my cornea transplants (by this time to I was going on #4 in close to as many years),  my workaholism driven career  – and  -- then the hours given over to socializing.

To this day, no other words have ever quite made their way through t0 my heart so pointedly.

I hope the women most sold on Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” book and all Ms. Sandberg promotes with her agendas have someone around like my little Elisa Joy. To remind them of what really matters. And, I hope these women are listening to those little ones and not allowing the surface things in life matter more than the substance.

With things I find in the media and see all around me, I often wonder.

I did listen – with my heart.

But it took a good bit of time before my head had done the interpreting and my behavior had caught up sufficiently. Leaning in (my version, not the Sandberg version) was not something I knew how to do. 

I would continue my survivor/addict style for at least another fifteen years, compartmentalizing the Visible me, grossly separated from my Invisible Self, the rich inner me. With no bridge to connect the two and to allow a crossing of the gap between, a gap that was flooded, I would later discover, by a river of unshed tears. 

Little Elisa Joy would pay the price as a victim of the mother’s heart she could not seem to reach. It was there alright but she could not touch or feel it. In the meantime, in the deepest throes of my solitude, I ached to give her that which I had no knowing of how to do.

In spite of my limitations as  a mother, over the years I became a Master at human relations; my proficiency earning me the acclaim, as a psychotherapist and community development guide, that “If she (meaning me) can’t cure ‘em, nobody can.

 Little Elisa Joy, now a grown woman, has never forgiven me.

Certainly a glass ceiling does exist in the business and academic worlds and beyond.  I have just been lucky perhaps. I have never personally encountered this. So  I may be  a bit out of touch with the anguish.  However, I too have had my trials by fire making my way in the world, intent as I have been on claiming the whole of my birthright; my inalienable right to be me at my best, accepted and respected for it – and justly compensated.

But the obstacles I have encountered have been, overall, of my own making, I believe. I certainly do see innumerable ways I could have handled things differently and better.

Nonetheless, on the day my daughter spoke those unforgettable words, I had hardly begun the path of my life’s journey that would plunge me, repeatedly, into the heat of transformation – and – which would lift me out of it, again and again, to breathe the rarified, sweet air of purification.

I did not understand the distinctions, yet, between the Dark and the Light. I did not yet understand the inordinate price each of us would pay for that survivor/addict personality I had developed in my own growing up. Nor, did I, yet, realize that those pained words of my child, Elisa Joy, would eventually transform my life, if not hers.

I write this now from a place of emotional overload. I have, long ago, left fueling my life on adrenalin excesses, addicted to excitement and its many ways of playing in one’s life. My writing is of my inner world with its connection to the energies I call the Divine Source and, this week, the demands of the external world claimed me.

All week long I have been wanting to bring my devoted readers another posting, even if a brief one.  However, this Saturday’s forthcoming CoffeeHouse Conversation On Race Relations has driven the vehicle that is my body, mind and spirit.  The Force within me that powers the beautiful, yet far from perfect life I now live, has been taken with the sweet promise of contributing to the world around me in a meaningful and impactful way.

Thus I find myself after my eight year sabbatical for blindness and recovery (1998 – 2006) drawn into that world where glass ceilings seem to limit, reminding myself of Helen Keller’s words –

“One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar.”
Recognizing what really matters most is not always easy. 

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Some of How Anastasia Got From There To Here

How Anastasia found the roots of her devotion to community life – and – what she discovered. (In Two Parts, at least; the “how” and the “what.”)

You think you know stuff. You think you know who you are. Then in the midst of daily living -- upheaval. And you find you don’t know what you thought you knew or even fully who you are. I had an awakening of this sort when I went to lunch with a friend whose knowledge and wisdom about world peace, or its alternatives, I greatly respect.

The objective for our luncheon was for her to give me feedback on my new book in progress, The Middle East Crisis In My Backyard: How Communities Come Apart and How They Heal. 

I was feeling fairly confident at the onset of our time together that I had gathered the threads of what I viewed to be the fundamental principles for the book. And had written a decent first draft for the Prologue that would appropriately open the book and identify these, or so I thought.

Then, much to my surprise, my friend drew my attention to the absolute, final sentence of that draft, strongly urging that what had been my ending needed to be my beginning! 

Wow! What an amazement that was to me. But in an instant I saw the unequivocal merit of her feedback.

The phrase that caught my friend’s eye so meaningfully was “tikkun olam,” Hebrew for world repair, a word that has come to symbolize a certain philosophy of contemporary Jews such as myself. Not only did she press me to bring the word to the very front of my Prologue but she also implored me to explain its meaning to non-Jews like herself. Ok, no problem. I would do that.

I was so excited and inspired by her suggestions and the light they had thrown on my writing I could barely wait to get back to my computer to begin investigating what I would need in terms of new information to help me comply with her suggestions.  As I did this, it quickly became apparent that the significance of the central word, “tikkun olam,” of her suggestions was only a password for me; an almost secret and forgotten code that if properly deciphered could give me access to what turned out to be a gorgeous treasure chest of riches almost completely buried and forgotten for much of my life. 

Had I overlooked the beckoning of a friend at a casual restaurant luncheon I might never have ever found this key to a partially buried heritage of mine, a grand surprise, especially after all the digging I already had done; Truth seeker that I am. 

Maybe I would have discovered these treasures anyway before too long. After all, “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” Yet here it was now in a long-held trust, if I could break the code; a treasure chest that contained hidden parts of me – and – my mother, unseen.


How beautiful too that I unearthed this treasure, containing the very Essence of my mother – and – therefore myself just in time for Mother’s Day. What a blessing!

With new discoveries now surfacing, almost daily, vivid in their beauty and significance, I have found that former hints of my devotion to community life were signals to me to keep searching for roots that ran more deeply in me than I have “consciously ever seen” before! 

Here is what I am now realizing through my persistent reach for clarity that only a search for the Light can find. Darkness, rarely, if ever discovers treasure like this!

I am coming to understand, out of the riches of my newly unearthed treasure chest, that my mother who was a mentally ill and horribly cruel and abusive mother from early on in my childhood was also, in her heart and soul, an American-born shtetl Jewess who had bottle fed me on the milk and honey of her Eastern European heritage, as she knew it and incorporated it from her parents, passed down from grandparents and many generations before. 

Until her mental breakdown when I was eight, she had imbued in me, by my merely standing next to her as she did her best to live by these ideals, a cultural way of life that while dying out in her family’s country of origin, Rumania, was being steadfastly held to by immigrant and first generation American Jews such as herself. This heritage of mine, I now realize, was always with me, back to my days in my mother’s womb and the life I was born into; a personal and family life intrinsically interwovn into the communal.

Community/tribal is who I am, at least in part! I’ve known this to be true for many years. 

Now I really know it to be true and how it came to be!

When I made my pledge to follow my way to LOVE rather than the Dark Side I had gotten myself embroiled in through my own Survivor/Addict way of living on the Washington D.C. fast track, I, unknowingly, but guided by the Light, put myself on a path to this destination! 

And now I believe I’ve come home to it! My pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!

This year in Jerusalem, no need to wait until the next!

The brilliant, sparkling epiphany my luncheon date with my friend brought me is the kind of awakening most likely to come to a traveler on the Compassionate Warrior path, a seeker of Truth and Light, not someone blinded by the Dark Side Warrior (Survivor/Addict) way!

Just as I’ve believed, intuitively, since those first steps of mine, pledged to transform the Dark Side of me, an exceptional communal life, as the GRAD theory suggests, has been the way!

It is the way of the Spirit! 

The Broadway musical, Fiddler On The Roof, depicts a slice of this way of life that my maternal heritage brought me. With words and music it illustrates a vivid picture of communal life, fraught with interpersonal complexities, yet filled, too, with loyalties, love and laughter, song and celebration.  

So brilliant is the Spirit in this play it is no wonder it has been been Beloved on Broadway to such an extent over the years.

Just like discovering Lucy or Neanderthal Man, this is BIG! 

I’ll be keeping you posted as I start making sense of it all. For now what I can most aptly say is this -- 

My treasure chest is overflowing with riches. 

The main one to share for now, is this – unlike my original perspective, as I presented it in my Lean In Legacy Template (note I was already thinking in terms of inheritance here) …

My mentors have been my father, Marty Groder, Murat Yagan and my mother!


No wonder Anastasia The Super Sleuth, investigator and transformer of darkness into Light, is my alter ego.