Intuition Hot Spots IIA: The Kitchen

imageSeveral years ago I attended a conference during which one of the presenters introduced us to muscle testing games about deeply held beliefs. I used to complain a lot about being in the kitchen and often found myself in full martyr mode: “Nobody else is cooking or cleaning up after themselves! I‘m having to do it all! …blah, blah, blah.” This was a perfect example of one of my negative beliefs. Much to my surprise, however, my body’s nonverbal response through muscle testing in that workshop seemed to indicate that I actually liked the kitchen!

Then it hit me. Precisely because nobody else dared go in there, the kitchen had actually become my refuge over time, my one private place where my thoughts could flow uninterrupted by regular household goings-on and mundane thoughts of daily life.

Furthermore, at the time this was happening, the kitchen sink in our home in Santa Fe offered an unobstructed view of wild cottontail rabbits and jackrabbits and birds, all jousting in the high desert grasses just outside the window.

My “chores” had given me unbridled access to my intuition, and to the beauty of life around me. I loved looking out that window even though I complained vociferously about having to do the dishes – again!

Many thoughts came to me during those times about the nature of communication among animals, and between animals and humans. I reveled at how those rabbits managed to play all around that prickly cactus without getting pierced the way I did when I got too close to one of those painful needles. I talked to the animals in my mind and felt them respond to me, sitting still and staring directly into the kitchen window for long periods of time precisely where I was standing. I thought of stories I would like to write or classes I would like to teach.

Eventually, that kitchen sink became and remains an intuitive haven for me to this day. I finally stopped complaining about the chores and now use that time in a different house far away from jackrabbits to play with thoughts while I watch the progression of the sun and moon across the sky, or the neighbor’s garden change with the seasons, or the birds dart in and out of the avocado tree. It is the single most consistent spot where I get information about people in my life, precognitive phone calls and connections, and ideas to pursue intellectually or metaphysically. It is certainly more than musing about what to put in my stomach, the fridge, or on the shopping list!

The kitchen is a terrific intuition hot spot and, like the sign “Come here often?” my mom posted on her fridge to discourage snacking when she was trying to lose weight, I actually do come to the kitchen often. What about you?

Here are a just few intuitive games you can play in the kitchen:

  • Without looking at the package directions, guess how long your food should take to cook in the microwave and try it. At first you can read the package after you pick a number, just to see if you are in the ballpark. As you continue to practice, however, watch how much better you get at estimating the perfect cooking time.
  • Ask your body what it feels like eating, take the very first thought that comes to mind, and eat that.
  • As  you eat your breakfast or prepare your lunch, ask yourself the question, “What is the one thing I need to know today?” If you think you will forget later, write that one thing down on your calendar or a notepad.
  • As you prepare food for your children or your partner or your pets, look at them for a moment and ask the question, “How are they feeling? Is there anything they need, or need me to pay attention to on their behalf?”
  • As you prepare for work or a meeting, ask yourself, “What is the one thing I need to know in order to make this day or this meeting successful?” Listen while you wash the dishes, prepare lunch, pour coffee, or wipe down the counter.

Now that I understand the important role of the fridge and the entire kitchen in my intuitive flights of fancy, I can come here often without having to eat everything in sight and without having to feel angry about those chores! Maybe I can translate that deeper thought into an idea that sticks in my mind and improves my life, rather than into a pound of flesh that makes me unhappy and sticks to my body instead.

Maybe I’ll go into the kitchen now and test out my new creative idea…or maybe I’ll wash the dishes in the sink…or maybe I’ll have a piece of toast! Maybe I’ll do all those things with ease. Maybe now that I’m thinking differently about eating and connecting with my intuition in the kitchen I’ll have a bite of, uh, kale! Just kidding, I’ll have both: toast and kale to go with my intuition!!

Train yourself to notice your negative beliefs that may actually be holding a sweet refuge for you as well. Be open to surprise and be open to the voice of your muscles and your intuition showing you what is really going on in your kitchen and your life!

Kudos to Teachers!!

There is an old saying that has stuck with me my entire life: “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.” On the one hand teachers are canonized (sometimes called philosophers and prophets, professors, almost always male, who are initially ridiculed and later revered). Some are teased affectionately (absent-minded professors). On the other hand some are dismissed as irrelevant and out of touch.

Teachers of the young and old (i.e., learners not currently in the workforce), are found to be incapable, unworthy, not so smart, or at the very least, dismissed as unimportant. These teachers, including the professors, are often female and they work their hearts out in a peculiarly modern and distinctly American educational system that is gradually killing off the very individuals to whom it entrusts its cultural, economic and political future.

I confess that I, too, have occasionally felt ashamed and guilty for being “merely” a teacher, as if teaching were the profession of losers, of those who are there simply because they couldn’t make it in the “real world,” the corporate world. Teaching could not possibly be an honorable choice, a first choice, a joyous choice, a true avocation! I know better, of course, and my own experience tells me so in the most profound ways on a regular basis. But with constant cultural reinforcement the teacher stigma attaches and crawls beneath the surface of the skin, eventually lodging in both the brain and the heart.

Frankly, I am actually more fortunate than most: because I always taught at the university level I have received a bit more respect than many of my counterparts who teach pre-kindergarten through high school. But there are others who cannot seem to get any respect at all: teachers who are entrusted with the next generation of leaders when these students are at the tenderest of cognitive ages, and teachers whose gift is engaging the sunset generation who are finally retired and interested in learning for learning’s sake through adult education programs. Learning for learning’s sake actually hearkens back to much older notions of a true academy that has breadth and depth and is much more than a job mill. Let me add quickly that I am also a strong supporter of professional programs that prepare students for immediate work in the contemporary world. We need workers who are skilled and who think deeply and adapt quickly to changing circumstances and requirements.

There is a palpable but unspoken pecking order of academic disciplines and institutions, so those who work diligently at the community college level are somehow considered less worthy than those who teach at four-year institutions. And those who teach at Ivy League institutions are somehow more worthy than those who teach at “ordinary” colleges and universities. And those who teach science are more worthy than those who teach art or literature.

Teachers’ workloads are increasing now at an astounding pace since their unions are being systematically undermined and dismantled, their funding is the first to go, they are being asked to make bricks without straw, all too often paying for classroom materials out of their own pockets, and ultimately they are blamed for underperforming in what amounts to a variety of combat situations in which teachers literally face life and death on a daily basis.

This is where we are now. And yet, when successful entrepreneurs are asked what got them where they are today, most inevitably remember a teacher who saw them, who protected them when they were being bullied or dismissed, who encouraged their inventiveness and creativity, and who assumed they had something valuable to say and show and share with the world…who assumed they had something valuable to do!

I have been such a teacher for others and teachers have been such a guiding force for me throughout my entire life as well. In the deepest sense, that support is probably what fostered my desire to become a teacher too. I know that what we and they do matters, whether or not portions of the country or community or the world see our contributions as extraneous. I do not have supportive data at my fingertips, but I daresay that disdain for the teaching profession is a peculiarly American phenomenon and I would love to know why. Eventually all of us will have plenty to regret if we do not understand and support teachers and teaching as a form of worthy “doing.”

Let’s hear it for the teachers! At last I have washed away the brainwashing and I can be proud to count myself among them.

Consent

Consent to be adversaries means we are allies.
The battle for the soul of our country and the world rests on a foundation of mutual consent, even among hostile forces. On deeper and often unconscious levels we have agreed on the reasons for war, on the rules of engagement,  and ultimately on shared definitions of  what is valuable to be gained or lost, what is worth fighting for. We are, therefore, allies at the deepest level.

Consent is a very tricky issue. How do I know if consent is real or even possible? How do I tell if what I am consenting to and what you think I am consenting to are the same? What recourse do I have to change my mind and take back my consent midstream for any particular action, including a dramatic personal or global event? When all is said and done, what does consent really mean?

My fundamental premise, which probably seems counter-intuitive at the start, is that nothing – and I mean nothing! – happens without collaboration and consent from friends and foes alike. The fortunate, the damned, the victorious, the suffering, the freed, the oppressed – all must give consent in some form at deeper levels of awareness. In order for an event to “break through” from mere potentiality into a shared physical reality there must be mutual consent on some level.

In my worldview this deeper level of consent is lodged in a realm of consciousness where the greater good is known by all and understood to be without contradiction. It is the stuff of dreams and daydreams and yearnings and complex theatrical productions. It is not an imposed Platonic absolute but a shimmering, pulsating action that is continuously re-framing and refreshing itself based on the awareness and behavior of all its component parts. Each of us dives into that unconscious or semi-conscious realm many times a day and many more times at night when our usual filters and controls fade into the background or disappear altogether. As we step back and discover the broader framework of our collective action, we understand how adversaries could come to be perceived as allies for our development and the exploration and reaffirmation of our purpose. We are known to each other in that realm outside of time and space.  Apparent contradictions are understood and resolved: we can agree to take on various roles that ultimately serve the greater good, even if service means taking on the role of “bad guy” or gal for a limited period of time. We may be victim in one moment and perpetrator in the next; leader in one context and follower in another; revered sage in one domain and ridiculed fool in yet another.

I may no longer be alone in thinking this way: more and more mainstream scientists, philosophers and ordinary people are sharing a similar perspective about the awe-inspiring synchrony, as well as terrifying dystopian behavior expressed in the material world as we know it.

Consent is emotional and subjective, offered in the service of a greater good that may not be realized or recognized for a very long time. It may result in joy or pain, comfort or horror, even life or death. For me, the greater good can be described as a conscious or subconscious resonance of shared well-being; it is not a specific social ideal or material destination. Rather, it is a journey towards an individual or collective feeling of fulfillment, and there are infinite ways to get there.  We may initially find that resonance only within ourselves, but as our energetic signature radiates outward, our feeling tone perhaps attracts and links first with those of like mind, and then farther outward until we encounter resistance and threat. Finally, however, we find a place where everyone, including friends, adversaries and full-out enemies, are connected and smile simultaneously when we hear a hauntingly familiar and mutually pleasurable sound that for all of us is Home.

Whatever perspective we hold at any given moment, individual qualities combine with collective ones until we find a temporary “sweet spot,” a shimmering tone of unspeakable beauty that we all share and find appealing because the beauty speaks to a part of us that is our common identity.

Alas, such a moment of conscious unified consent usually lasts but a fleeting instant. Sooner or later, however, we learn that impermanence may be our most precious gift of all because we get to leave and return, agree and disagree endless times from endless perspectives! We are not condemned to eternal limitation, nor to reward or punishment based on what we thought was best at any particular time or limited range of awareness. As Maya Angelou said, “When we know better, we do better.” We dart in and out of understanding the way hummingbirds dart in and out of flowers in search of their sweet nectar.

Consent means that we do not have to be, nor can we remain forever oppressed or forever victorious. Even when we feel as if we want to stay where we are forever, inevitably the yearning to experience new challenges takes over and we find ourselves running off to new adventures. If we learned safety, we might become curious about the experience of those who lack it; if we learned poverty, we might become curious about the experience of those who want for nothing. Thank goodness, nothing in our three-dimensional world or in that invisible realm is set in stone or eternally limited! This is true free will in action, true consent expressed. This is the deepest meaning of the assertion that we can and do live in a “safe universe.” The probabilities and mechanics of our multiverse are increasingly and similarly described by mainstream scientists and spiritual teachers, in sharp contrast to countless unsafe images projected at us from every corner of our world.

Quite literally, in my view, we do get to have it all – one way or the other, sooner or later, in time and space or outside of it. We get to know not only what is or was or will be, but also what might have been or might be still. We experience the possible, the probable, the likely, and the actual, over and over and over again in any moment or hour or day or century. This is the gift of self-awareness, of consciousness, of consent. Our consent to take part in the greater good, in the resonance of shared well-being, permits us unlimited experience in unlimited roles from unlimited vantage points. This is the deeper meaning of consent and the reason we can stop avoiding or denying our participation in mass events we do not like. Such events give us the opportunity to find out who we are and for that we are eventually grateful. Another way to put it, as my father liked to say, is this: “All is revealed.” Through mutual consent we are revealed to ourselves and to others, as they are to us.

Understanding these deeper levels of consent actually returns our power to us. Sooner or later we must embrace our agency and mastery, even if some of our shared creations make us horrified and ashamed of what we have built. The good news is this: just as we can create anything, we can also transform anything – including horror – into a moment of unspeakable beauty when with one voice we say “Aaaaaaahhhh” or “Enough!” We can even fall back for a time in awe, into the silence of the void where nothing at all is expressed outwardly and where consent therefore has no meaning. No meaning, that is, until the desire for individualized expression begins to stir again and we look for new consensual partners to produce yet another series of “passion plays.” How fortunate we are for the gift and the grace and the responsibility that comes with consent!

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Stranger in a Not Entirely Strange Land

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From Mamou to Munich 1963

Nothing makes us more aware of our similarities with others in our own country or town than travel abroad. No matter how marginal I felt in the United States for much of my younger life, trips to my West African ancestral home in the 1960’s and 70’s made me intensely and even painfully aware how American I was after all. It was relatively easy for me to pass for African in most ways: I spoke French fluently in French-speaking formerly colonial West Africa. As an added bonus my dark skin made me a part of the black numerical majority for the first time in my life, not a minority outsider the way I often felt at home growing up in mostly white surroundings. As an idealistic young adult I expected that in Africa I would suddenly fit in and belong at last! Alas, that was not to be. I imagine that women and men from other hyphenated-American groups experience similar feelings when they travel to their ancestral homes too, even if their families, like mine, have been in the U.S. for multiple generations.

Once I arrived in West Africa it was my walk, of all things, that inevitably gave me away as being “not from here.” I had successfully mastered the don’t-act-like-a-typical-American-tourist routine in many ways: I ate local food and avoided McDonald’s and a colonialist demeanor like the plague. I learned the local French dialects and some traditional ethnic phrases as well. I also became comfortable with local ways of managing time and doing business. What I didn’t count on, however, was the fact that American women, regardless of ethnicity, have a kind of indescribable freedom in the way we walk that is a clear giveaway: not only are we outsiders, we must be American outsiders. In totally unconscious ways our gait yells from the rafters that we are not local and definitely more free as women than in most other places in the world. Both men and women pointed this out to me time and time again when I traveled outside the U.S.

While initially it was my telltale walk that made me “American,” I appeared to be unlike most Americans in other ways, including the color of my skin. This was true not only in Africa but also in Europe and Japan and the Caribbean. Americans generally were perceived to be wealthy, white, arrogant, and either unwilling or unable to learn a foreign language. Descendants of slaves were perceived to be poor and unlettered. As a black person who spoke French I had to be somehow “not American.” I am ashamed to admit it now, but at the time I felt smug about this until I learned to love myself and my people and my country more. In each African country I lived or worked I was considered to be some sort of African or immigrant from a former French-speaking colony in the Caribbean, just “not from here.” I was always treated as an outsider: sometimes deferentially, sometimes disdainfully, never neutrally.

But then there was that giveaway walk which could only be construed to be American. It was the saunter of privilege and leisure, of independence from men and the right to make unfettered decisions. It was a long stride, arms swinging instead of balancing pots or children, full of the freedom to travel unaccompanied by a male. Additional qualities of “otherness” gradually emerged, but ultimately I was categorized definitively and culturally as an American: an African-American, mind you, but an American nonetheless.

If we persist long enough as a culture, the effects of our values will eventually show up in our biological structure: people could actually see the effects of democracy and freedom in my walk, no matter how bad things were for blacks and women at home! If we lose our freedoms now, I daresay that any subsequent lack of freedom will show up eventually in our biology as well: shorter steps, eyes averted, nondescript clothing, increased efforts to become invisible and non-threatening as we try to avoid the lash or the fist or the prison or the deportation vehicle.

Later in my life, as Africa began to go through a period of successive neo-colonial and post-colonial military coups and dictatorships, I became increasingly proud of our flawed American democracy and found myself glad to spend more time here in my native home rather than in West Africa, whose peoples and lands I had come to love and admire so deeply. Those years in Africa included varied roles: first as a participant in a private summer  exchange program, later as a fiancée, a group leader for the same exchange program, an international consultant working for a private American firm on a hydroelectric project, and finally as a rural sociologist employed by the United Nations Development Program.

Through my deeply personal experience I discovered that the perception of any of us as being “from here” is always relative, depending upon the context and the times. It does not matter whether that perception casts me as an external threat, a neutral outsider, or eventually as someone who truly belongs. I also realized that what is fast becoming fairly mainstream conversation about the possibility of an invasion of our planet by malevolent extraterrestrials is not too far afield from my decades old experience of  “otherness” among my genetic cousins on the other side of the world.

When I first wrote this piece I lived on the American mainland. Now I live in Hawaii, which by some accounts would place me on one of the farthest outposts of the United States. The issues I face here are not unlike those I dealt with in West Africa decades ago: I am too different and here too recently to be “local,” and yet I am asked occasionally if I am from Fiji or some other “not American” place.

No matter how much angst I went through about whether or not I could pass for African or be identified as American; no matter how freely I feel I could travel in the deep south or Down East Maine as a black woman; any cultural outsider would eventually come to understand that I am human, and might even discern that I am an American human. I can only imagine what someone from another planet might experience were it to come first into close contact with me and subsequently in contact with a Caucasian woman from Tucson or South Carolina. For the real-deal extraterrestrial, distinguishing one type of human being from another would cause no more consternation than comparing a tabby cat to a calico or siamese one. In that context the issue is probably a no brainer: the woman from Tucson and I are obviously both earthlings! Whether I felt like I was going home or coming home, accepted or rejected when I traveled to Africa, I remained always an American and unquestionably an earthling.  How simple things can be from the proper vantage point!

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Dates to Notice

24 March 2017. Awakened from dream with this date to watch. No insight as to the reason or source.

11 April 2017. It turns out that March 24th was the date the attempted repeal of Obamacare failed in the U.S. House of Representatives, dealing a major blow to the Republican Party and the agenda of the new administration. On March 22nd an attack occurred on British Parliament and the Westminster Bridge in London. Both were significant events nationally and internationally, yet neither was on the radar at the time of the dream.

2016 Elections a “Stunning Upset?” Nope.

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Foresight Means Paying Attention

Below is a verbatim text message I sent to a friend dated 24 July 2016 at 3:23PM. Fast forward to 13 November 2016: Mike Pence is now Vice-President Elect, Paul Ryan was “drafted” to be Speaker of the House, and Reince Priebus has just been named White House Chief of Staff in the new Trump administration. The clues to the upset were hiding in plain sight, but our glasses were on our laptops and poll numbers, not on our faces.

Private text message to a friend in Chicago:
“BTW, Reince Priebus, Paul Ryan, and Scott Walker are all from Wisconsin and are co-founders of the Tea Party, along with Mike Pence from neighboring Indiana. They are moving intensively to control all three branches of govt. simultaneously, and if Sanders continues to help weaken Clinton and Trump makes a back door deal re: Pence as de facto President, they will have succeeded.

Trump has made a deal with the Tea Party, which cut off debate at the RNC Convention on his behalf: ‘You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.’ Frankly, he [Trump] is a sociopath and doesn’t give a [damn] about anybody, so he would help them accomplish their goal for a fee: the titular Presidency. He doesn’t want to be President [regarding daily bureaucratic functions] and is happy to hand its management over to Pence. The Tea Party would, in effect, have taken over the government without the burden of having to have been elected. Ryan was “drafted” as Speaker of the House, controlling Congress. Then they would replace Supreme Court Judges and there would be no room for a shift away from that agenda for 30 years or more.

Ryan has already stated publicly that the NRA [National Rifle Association] should have authority to approve Supreme Court nominations [????!!!!], leading to the tie-in with Bernie Sanders and his (mostly white) people. Have you seen “The Sanders Network” statements on C-Span? Still going after Hillary big time [even though the primaries are over].

This is going on in plain sight, and yet few are talking about it openly. I am dismayed to watch how they [Pence, Ryan and Priebus] are pulling it off without a hitch. Sometimes I wish I weren’t a sociologist!” [End of text message]

You can’t have foresight if you are unwilling or unable to look…

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A Dog’s Intuition

Chaco on the JobSince we humans are creatures of immense and apparently very predictable routines, my dog Chaco decided he’d teach me a thing or two about his mastery of intuition, and my equally impressive lack of it from a dog’s perspective.

It All Started With Separation Anxiety

When Chaco the dog’s first human became ill and subsequently died, he began to show signs of severe separation anxiety. He would bark, scratch, jump up and down, hide so I couldn’t tuck him away and leave him behind, lick his paws until they bled, and eventually try to chew through the bedroom door.

Something had to give! In order to solve “his problem,” I sought advice from books, the Web, and a slew of local veterinarians, including some who specialize in dog behaviors. Bottom line, they told me: humans give off a huge range of nonverbal clues about our intentions well ahead of time, especially when it comes to leaving home without them.

The key to diminishing separation anxiety in pets, they say, is surprise: the pet owner facing this issue must vary the daily routine so much that the dog is never certain what the human will do next: when she will leave, and when she will return. For years I had been teaching people that the key to mastering intuition is also surprise. Maybe I needed to attend Chaco’s workshop!

Human Clue #1: When I am preparing to leave the house, the first thing I do, of course, is simply think about the fact that I’m leaving. Uh oh, first big mistake. I haven’t even opened my mouth and Chaco’s ears perk up from across the room. He knows something is about to happen. My first thought is, “How does he know already that I’m getting ready to leave the house?”

Eventually I figure out that the first point in his workshop tailor-made for me is: “Stop talking to yourself and saying, “Okay…”

Whenever I have been sitting still for a time, reading or writing, or engaging in some routine household task like washing dishes or dusting the floors, apparently the first thing I do when I’m ready to shift gears is say out loud without thinking, “Okay…” I am usually alone when this happens, so after a long time and several trips to the vet I discovered that talking to myself and saying “Okay” out loud was a clue to the dog that a change was gonna come, and  the change might not include him. AAARGH!!! Gotta get a grip on talking to myself!

Clue#2: I head to the bedroom closet and drawers. “What in the world am I going to wear?” Clothes have always been a source of discomfort for me, so Chaco not only picks up the discomfort, he picks up the routine that searching for clothes means either somebody’s coming or I’m leaving – or I’m getting ready for a stay-at-home Skype video session and can’t look too disheveled from the torso up. He gets nervous for a moment until he figures out that this time it’s Skype rather than leave the house, and then settles right back into the chair beside my work station, waiting for me to set up the computer next to him.

Clue#3: Right after rummaging through the closet I immediately head for the bathroom to clean up even more.

Chaco: “Uh oh. This is serious. She’s going out!”

Combing my hair is the worst sign of all for the dog, whether I’m staying at home or leaving. After all, I would be mortified to face the world with my frizzy hair all askew!

My taking a long shower can be a sign of leaving, of settling in for the night, or of going out during the day, so Chaco scopes the weather and the light outside to see which it is more likely to be this time.

Chaco: “Ah, it’s midday so it must be that yoga class for old folks, because she goes into that bag in the other closet and puts clothes on over her clothes. The last time she tried to take me with her to that class I barked up a storm, so I know I’m grounded now.”

Clue#4:
Me: “Oh, I live in Hawaii now; it could rain at any moment. Gotta make sure all the windows and doors are closed and locked.” On top of that, I am regularly reminded that there is more and more theft in this neighborhood: can’t be too cautious.

Chaco: “There she goes, walking around the house closing up everything, even though it’s as hot as the dickens outside. This is really bad now. But will she take me or leave me at home? Oh no! She’s turning on the light and radio covering the bed and… OMG, she’s getting out my Kong Toy with the peanut butter inside! I’m done for. No hope now. My human is leaving me behind.”

Smart dog!

So the behaviorists have told me to vary my routine: get all ready to leave and then stay home. Put on the radio even if I’m staying home. Get dressed even though I’m not going anywhere. What???? Get dressed even though I’m not going anywhere? That is the biggest sacrifice of all, trying to cooperate as a two-legged with four-legged separation anxiety. Being trussed up is not my idea of a pleasant morning or afternoon alone at home, when I could be relaxed and funky instead while I read or write.

Clue#5: “The most dreaded of all: a trip to the yard to ‘pee pee’ when I don’t even have to go! How humiliating! I’m done for. I’ll just hold it and hide around the corner or under the stairs instead. Maybe she won’t find me; maybe she’ll give in and change her mind and take me with her, or maybe I can even make her late by hiding, so she’ll have to miss her appointment and stay home with me instead.”

Now that I, the human, am settling into a new location, I will go through the routine of trying unsuccessfully not to have a routine and go over to the box where the red harness and leash are stashed close to the front door. “Yippeee!!” Chaco exclaims. “I’m going; I’m going this time!”

Most of these actions are done wordlessly, mind you. Chaco is an expert at what some in my field call “pattern recognition:” paying attention to subtle clues that the clue-giver has absolutely no idea are being communicated like big red flags. This is a left-brained way of talking about right-brained things we really don’t understand. Chaco, unlike his human, has a PhD in pattern recognition.

But Wait, There’s More…!!

There is another quality of intuition that defies visual and verbal clues. When I am sad, for example, perhaps in another room of the house out of sight from Chaco, he will suddenly perk up, much like he does when I unconsciously say “okay,” out loud to myself, signaling a change in activity. He will trundle across the house to find me, nuzzle me, knowing in that very moment that he needs to comfort me. I am not boo-hooing, I have made no verbal sign, and I was not visible to him physically. Something else beyond pattern recognition is going on, as such an episode follows no pattern or routine that I have been able to discover – yet. Does he know that it is August 15th or October 1st or September 1st and that I am thinking of a parent or partner or aunt? How does he just “know” that it is sad I am feeling, rather than happy or simply focused? One thing I know for sure: he only does that when I am feeling sad.

Something more is going on and I am heaven bent on finding out how this type of intuition works; after all, it is a significant part of my professional work. People I do not know call or email or Skype with a question and I just trundle off to the universe and provide them with meaningful information that they tell me makes sense and even confirms what they were already thinking about as a solution for their situation or concern. How is it that my dog is even better at this than I am?

What is the pattern recognition in this type of intuition? No visual clues, no verbal clues, no prior knowledge, no prior emotional attachment on my part with the client. No routine. There is so much more to explore!

So Chaco has taught me more than I ever wanted to know about pattern recognition which frequently explains a large percentage of known and hidden behaviors. But he also taught me about a kind of knowing for which there are no overt verbal or physical clues. Mastering the ability to mask my intentions about something as simple as leaving the house is a lot harder than I thought! Chaco may also have something to say about more complicated subjects like politics and privacy, but he’ll have to save that for his advanced workshop – I’m still struggling with the basics!

Epilogue

Chaco’s “problem” was pretty simple after all: he suffered from unspeakable grief and loss, so much so that he couldn’t bear to stay on the planet without his beloved human. Behavior modification techniques just weren’t enough to cure his profound depression. He taught me more about himself and about myself than I could ever imagine and I miss him still. He was an amazing teacher!

Intuition Connects Everything!

binarycodeIntuition is a continuous signal. This signal emanates from all physical and nonphysical  environments and sends messages instantaneously to any outpost of literally all that exists: beliefs, emotions, mountains, people (whether we like them or not), animals, universes we know nothing about, immeasurably small particles…literally everything! It provides information about the nature of our worlds and their component parts, of literally All That Is, of the whole. That signal is never broken and continues to send out its messages whether we pay attention to them or not. There are no down networks in the domain of intuition!

Whatever scientists ultimately call the smallest measurable unit,  each unit has its own signature and is simultaneously aware of its own existence and the existence of all other units of the whole. It does not matter whether these units are identified individually or collectively, and the units are constantly changing form and emotional intensity. Their identity, nevertheless, is inviolate and known by all others whatever and wherever they are. Intuition tracks their whereabouts and alerts the “family” regarding their latest adventures. That unit is, after all, a unit of consciousness.

Intuition is language. Its purpose is communication within, between, and among these unique parts of the whole. Whatever the parts look like, act like, or become over time and entirely outside of time, intuition keeps track of their comings and goings and lets the others know. The units can morph with ease, but they cannot be destroyed and they cannot be “un-known.”

I do not know whether intuition is the matrix of connection or just travels along the matrix. What I do know is that intuition is everywhere connecting everything.

No wonder intuition is a central part of my life’s work. After all, what better job could a busybody have? My family didn’t call me “Miss Know-It-All” for no reason! Intuition helps us all know it all on demand naturally without meddling. Intuition is birthright, woven into the very fabric of our existence. What a treasure!

Quick-Style Vision Board

Management and self-help seminars often use a process with senior executives and managers called creating a “vision board.” This is a way to discover deeper and often hidden wishes without relying so heavily on logic. Once completed, the vision board can actually jump start change in team participation and enhance the long-term success of the company, as well as of individual employees. I have come up with a simpler version of the vision board that is more fluid and easy to use on your own for personal and professional issues. When you are mulling over something, trying to sort things out or set priorities, here is a tool you can use with great success: I call it the “quick-style vision board.”

Setup

Get a piece of blank poster board and place it somewhere you pass by often during the course of your day at home or at work: on the floor or an empty chair, or on a coffee table or game table, for example.

As you walk about during the normal course of your day, pay attention as your eye catches images. This could be a magazine cover, or headline and article clippings in a newspaper, or a favorite painting or photograph that you suddenly happen to notice for the first time in a while. Or it could even be a view from your window, or a funny antic your pet does that prompts you to take a quick snapshot with your smartphone and print it out. Just drop things on the designated space as you walk by and go through your day. Don’t think too much, just place things there that catch your eye.

Later you might take the time to cut out the images and make them into a true collage, a finished product. But for now the “quick and dirty” version of the exercise works just fine. I have found it very helpful to just walk by, drop the magazine or image or object or word on the poster board or clipboard without thought and keep moving. I don’t tear out the pages of the magazine; I just leave it cover up if it is the cover that caught my eye, or open it to the relevant page and plop it down with that page showing. If it is newsprint, I just circle the headline or image and drop it there on the poster board along with the pile of thoughts and images building up there. I might even write down thought or ideas on a piece of scrap paper and place them there.

Again, you don’t have to do much framing of the question with this technique  (sometimes framing the question is important, but not this time); you just move through your day and put things down as they catch your eye. Most importantly, there is no need to judge what you are noticing: you are just dropping images that grab your fleeting attention. You don’t even know yet what this will all turn out to mean later.

Making sense of what you placed on your quick vision board

After a day or so, go to the poster board (or game table or coffee table) that you have dropped things on, and see what you’ve got. You will be amazed as you notice a theme that shows up in that apparently jumbled pile of “stuff.”

Go for images that catch your attention or draw emotion from you. Notice what your eyes are noticing. Notice if you keep going back to the same place or image. Pay attention to the clues for resolution all around you in your daily spaces, calling out answers as you walk by.

That seemingly random “stuff” will help you know what’s important to you about the issue you are mulling over even if it makes no sense to your rational mind. You can play around with putting the images in some order, mixing them up randomly, or even sorting by type or look or color or theme.

At the end of the process,while looking at the board, ask yourself, “What should I do about X?” As always with intuition, take the very first answer that pops into your mind. If the question has to do with ranking of priorities or actions, make a list in rank order while you look at the board, and while moving the images around it.

When you have completed the exercise you can save or toss the stuff you have collected and leave the poster board or table top free for your next musing. In this way you keep the fluidity of your thoughts going, and nothing is frozen in time. If the issue is a really important one for you and you want to save and savor this moment, you may actually want to take the time to cut out the images and glue them to the poster board or piece of construction paper for remembering and looking at later. Or you can simply arrange them the way that suits you and take a photo of the arrangement on your smartphone so you can access the image any time you wish without creating more clutter in your physical space. Either way, this fun and often surprising exercise can resolve a deep issue that you may not easily have been able to frame or discuss. It can also help with a more neutral but complex issue you have been considering for some time without achieving clarity. And it is almost effortless. Try it once and you’ll see what I mean!

  • Originally published in August 2012, revised and republished on 24 June 2016.

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How I Came to Focus on Business Intuition

People routinely ask me what in the world I mean by the term  “business intuition” and how I came to get involved in its application to everyday business matters. Here is an audio interview conducted with me by my colleague Kip Eddy in 2002, some ten years after I began to work in this field. At first this was  little more than an avocation which was completely separateUp Arrow from my consuming day job as an academic administrator, and several years before applications of intuition to business matters became my principal and passionate professional interest.

The process of refining this talent has always involved the fusion of academic training with a kind of deep “knowing” that arose without understanding fully how I knew.

Click on the “play” button below to listen to the conversation with Kip:

 

One Way or the Other, One Global Family. Will It Take UFOs to Get Us There?

Confrontations of Matched Strength
This way..

Many years after an intense decade immersed in African politics and culture I was talking with my friends Kip Eddy and Sue Phillips about the possibility of UFO’s and extra-dimensional or extraterrestrial beings making their presence felt on earth. Kip was fascinated with the subject and I was happy to oblige his curiosity by taking an intuitive look at the questions he posed. What a different kind of otherness this is! Our conversations occurred in 2002, when there must have been some mainstream buzz about the subject.

Ultimately the deeper issue turned out to be less about a perceived threat to earth from extraterrestrial beings than it was about the possibility that we might one day join together as one planet, one frequency, one family of awareness. One thing I knew for sure: the threat of creatures from an entirely different planet or solar system would certainly create a sudden and dramatic closeness among those of us who had been fighting each other tooth and nail for centuries over issues of race, national origin, religion, gender, social class, sexuality, territory and anything else we could come up with. We had for so long needed someone outside ourselves to blame or fear rather than to face looking within ourselves and our cultures for the sources of our misfortune and unhappiness.

Science fiction writers arrived at this formulaic plot a long time ago: one external planetary threat and suddenly we realize we are all “earthlings,” fighting together to save our shared world from potential obliteration or heartless domination. Overnight, facing various gargantuan varieties of bloodsucking insects and blobs, we become “family.” It is our red blood that binds us, not our skin, and certainly not the inevitably green blood that the villainous creatures from outer space ooze all over the screen.

The following is a brief excerpt from a much longer telephone conversation with Kip and Sue about the possibility and nature of extraterrestrials and UFOs and about shared planetary consciousness:

Helen: …This is not to say that in the material universe as you know it, there might not be cultures of beings that wish to colonize or invade this planet. Given the nature of consciousness and choice, these probabilities must exist, as well as probabilities for peaceful interaction, for collaboration, and even for continuing to coexist blithely unaware of each other and your mutual presence in the universe.

…The fundamental nature of consciousness is collaborative in any and all of these scenarios, however, so even those who act as enemies in any given moment are ultimately collaborating to create a next way of inclusiveness and shared, if not entirely melded, global identity. In order to see this, all you have to do is step back a bit and shift your perspective. Recognition of this cooperation uniting all life can be fleeting or more sustained, depending upon your choices and your systems of relevance at the time.

If humans must create an external enemy to see the earth as connected, then some enemy will volunteer to remind you that Arabs, Asians, Jews, Caucasians, developmentally disabled, old, young, men, women, cats, trees, and rocks are all a part of a single earth consciousness. If it takes attack to figure that out, then someone in the universe will collaborate with you and launch an outside attack to bring you together. If you grow, however, and recognize that all consciousness is collaborative, then you will have no such need for attack, and will begin to recognize and practice the inclusiveness that is in your vision and the very blueprint of your being. You have choices to make, and in any case whatever the choice or scenario, universal collaboration will eventually be achieved, at least for a fleeting moment and potentially for millennia. You will recognize what is already limitless collaboration on a massive scale, all the way down to the cooperation of the cells in your pinky toenails to create forms in flesh you can use to grasp or clip or paint bright colors or even pull out in excruciating pain as a form of political torture.

So pick your fruit, your poison, your style, your game, your theater. Whatever you choose, collaboration is inevitable. It is the very nature of reality, which in your world is a physical expression of the very nature of consciousness itself.

(Excerpted and modified from “UFO’s R Us,” a recorded telephone conversation with Kip Eddy and Sue Phillips in 2002)

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Or this way. You choose…

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Plot Twists: The Body as Storyboard

Body as Storyboard Body as Storyboard

There is no storyboard more dynamic, animated, full of plots, subplots, protagonists, antagonists, good guys and bad guys, and plain old plot twists than the human body. Our bodies respond instantaneously to every dream, desire, fear, emotion, and speculation. Like “Plastic Man” in the old action hero comic books, our bodies will help us tell any story we wish to tell, fitting into tiny crevices or large caverns with equal ease.

Look at your body. Stand in front of a mirror. Take a selfie. As you scan your body, perhaps the way a painter would superimpose a grid on the canvas, ask yourself the question, “What does this spot, this curve, this glimmering highlight, this bunion, this wrinkle, this fit, trim human specimen tell me about the body of my beliefs?”

I am amazed at how many times a day I communicate contradictory and even absurd beliefs about myself and my body to my skin, teeth, hair, legs, eyebrows, muscles. One moment I am extolling the virtues of individual reality creation based on my focus among countless probabilities. The very next moment I catch myself in some “explanation” about family genetic predispositions, including Type 2 diabetes, male and female pattern baldness, cancer, mental illness, and other diseases ad nauseum. One moment I am extolling the power of my great grandmother who lived to be a hundred and who worked until the day she died in strength and health. Then with hardly a breath between sentences I have turned my attention to one of several aunts who died at relatively young age of cancer. In my statements I am communicating contradictory stories and beliefs, edge-of-your-seat cliff hangers not only about their story, but also about how my particular story will end as well, shaped by my contradictory beliefs.

Based on some of my favorite notions by authors I admire about the constant and continual creation of the physical body, it is a wonder I look recognizable to anybody at all, let alone to myself! I have seen bumps and lines and muscles and wrinkles appear and disappear right before my eyes. Quite literally. Try staring at your body in this way and be prepared for surprise. The feedback and interplay between mind and body is nothing short of phenomenal, adapting to every actual and potential experience, and to every consistent or contradictory belief about the nature of the human, health and disease, aging, heredity, and choice. Every time I play this game there are elements of surprise that knock me off my seat and into the largely hidden vault of very personal beliefs, into my insured and protected, even award-winning storyboard.

As I sit here and write on a rainy Honolulu afternoon, every square inch of my body is telling its own and our collective stories: here’s where I got burned on the stove as a child; here’s a mole or splotch in the shape of a heart (who knows when that appeared??!!); here is thinning or thickening hair, depending on my mood and diet of the day. Some marks and markers seem to disappear for long periods of time until I remember they used to be there and then they return, almost on command. Others disappear and are never seen again. Maybe they are replaced by new marks – a cut, a wrinkle, a weird looking toenail, a soft smoothness in an area that used to be rough skin. Depending on my latest subplot, my body will dash into the dressing room for a quick change of costume.

Potential “successes” and “failures,” diseases and remissions dance all around, flickering on and off, in and out, showing me glimpses of all my probable expressions and deepest beliefs in any moment of focus. I am quite literally wearing my body of beliefs all the time, more or less consciously and more or less visible to myself and others. That body of beliefs is both literal and metaphorical. My body is language, just as much as my guttural expressions that distinguish our species and make me part of the human family. The language can be coded, so only I am aware of its full meaning in my life, or the communication can choose consensus messages that others might understand and interpret because I wish to be known by them. There are more plot twists than the greatest science fiction or murder mystery could ever assemble in one semi-coherent story – the physical body. My body!

My body routinely absorbs and reflects contradictory messages as skillfully as it absorbs consistent ones. It is a universe in microcosm, building, merging, expanding, contracting, exploding all at once. Some of its actions require a microscope, such as the adoption of some esoteric disease, while others blare loudly to all passers by, such as a sudden gain or loss of weight or a decision to dye my hair bright green. However it looks and feels, my body is complex enough to absorb asymmetry as skillfully as symmetry, while still projecting the image of a single and largely recognized individual.

So my health actually boils down to a preponderance of both conscious and unconscious beliefs that reflect a confidence in my worth, my right to take up space on the planet in cooperation with others, and my capacity to shape which potentially contradictory beliefs will prevail and become part of my physical expression at any given time. My consistencies and inconsistencies roll up into one form and are reflected back in the mirror and in the eyes of others as they observe my momentary “body of beliefs” on the fly, my  current plot with multiple probable endings.

Any non-expressed subplot reflecting a different body of beliefs continues to exist offstage in the background until  called upon to be paramount. It could be health in the background or disease in the background, each more or less neutrally available to blast to the foreground for my own entertainment and that of my audience.

Notwithstanding all this chaos and asymmetry, I believe that our bodies are preset to help us feel good and to experience the fulfillment of our overriding positive desires. So in some sense good health may be easier to express than poor health or disease, because that is our default position. That being said, our bodies will cooperate with us if we want to suffer, without judgment or blame through the exercise of free will and emotional excitement, even if that means the experience of temporary pain and horror. In my view horror is always temporary, because the body and the inner self will always seek to return to a natural state of well being. I dare to call well being “normal,” the way things are meant to be.

I am having a grand time lately paying attention to my own storyboard, my own plot twists. I invite you to spend a few moments over the next weeks and months paying attention to your twists as well. Make it a goal to notice some physical marker disappear or appear, almost as if on command. Pay attention to plots and subplots that are already playing out in your life and your body. Remember that health and well being are your natural state, your blank storyboard, where all of your plots and twists can be reset to neutral. Remember that it is never too late to retell a story.

I have a little figurine on my desk that reminds me of the body I have always yearned for. It was given to me by my granddaughter years ago when I was trying to lose weight. In some magical and inexplicable way I have used it as a reminder of how I imagine physical health to look for me. The figure is a young African-American woman who appears to me to be a dancer in a Capezio outfit: I thought about becoming a dancer before I covered up, straightened up, and became a university professor instead.

body as storyboard
Capezio dreams

I always imagined this figurine with her head down a bit more, her face not fully visible even though her body was clearly healthy and aligned. I just looked over at that figurine, which I have not thought about lately, and her head is held up and looking out with the most delightful smile. She always represented the epitome of grace for me. I had even tucked her away in a drawer last year and then brought her back out on my desk. I could have sworn her head was down before and her expression was more neutral! But here she is as I write this, not on the bookshelf behind me where she used to be, but right up front on my desk, smiling at my tale of storyboards.

This  little experience is just what I imagine goes on with the body all the time. We think we see it one way and yet it is constantly adapting to our mood, beliefs and expectations of what we will find there. What a sweet figurine! Maybe I can look and feel like that again; maybe I can dance again in my current body with a grace that I, like she, will take for granted. Maybe my own plot twists will defy expectations and offer smiles of wonder not only to me, but to others in my life as well.

Look around you. Look at the plots and subplots and twists on your body and on your desk and in your physical environment. Now get out your own storyboard and see which story you will tell – and modify – today.

Core Beliefs and the Body

HLSFBI know why I was born an African-American female, why the fulfillment of my purpose in life needed these physical characteristics to make me strong, help me see, even support me in the special kind of leadership I was to undertake.

My root assumption, my overriding conscious core belief about our experience of physical reality, about being in a physical body, is that no individual is born without the capacity for fulfillment, however fulfillment is defined. I am also certain that no being is sent into the physical world without company: there is always someone to help, and some blueprint designed to explore purpose for each person born. There are also unconscious core beliefs at play too, however, some of which are in direct conflict with the conscious ones, and I don’t have a clue they are sabotaging my conscious goals. There’s the rub and the source of endless confusion for me, and I daresay for many others as well. My body shows those conflicts, even when my mind cannot fathom what is going on.

What are your conscious core beliefs, especially about your body? Make a short list based on your intellectual, cultural and unique personal experience. Now see if you can ferret out some unconscious core beliefs that may be at odds with your conscious ones. This second list may help explain why it is so difficult to change your circumstances or line up your expressed desires with an objective reality that seems to belie your stated beliefs when you look in the mirror.

Look at your body, not with the jaded eyes of one who feels inadequate, whose nose is too big, or hips too wide, or flesh too thin, or face pocked with acne, or limb missing. Ask yourself instead how this particular body serves your purpose. What is the gift in the form you have taken on, and what is the gift and purpose of events that have shaped your body through what could be called good fortune, accident, trauma, genetic lineage, or daily habits? What is the message your body sends to the world and to those in your immediate circles? What portion of your consciousness does your body express or conceal…or protect?!

If you are healthy, revel in your health and your ability to express your emotions and beliefs about health directly through your physical body. If you are healthy but not happy because you are obsessed with image for a variety of reasons, notice both the external health and internal turmoil. If your body is not healthy, revel in the mastery that allows your body to speak the unspeakable, witness the pain, protect the unprotected child, force life choices, make you pay attention, express rage, self-loathing, and especially notice the mastery that allows you to express your fulfilled or unfulfilled purpose.

Your body becomes the focus of your identity, your reason for being, and your gift to the world. Amputee veterans work with other veterans, cancer survivors work with other cancer patients, overweight people start exercise programs and 12-step programs, or create fashions for the overweight. Others become spokespersons for AIDS or Parkinson’s disease. The physical body, healthy or unhealthy, is language. This language is non-verbal, powerful, dramatic, and absolutely direct. It speaks for us when the voice cannot, when the heart is breaking, when physical mastery is at the center of one’s purpose.

This is what my body gives me, for example, as a black female with a long medical history and specific family traits: endurance, surprise, graceful aging, resonance, a deep love for music and dance, the capacity to do the unexpected, both limited and impossible external expectations, heart, humor, physical gateways to intuition, visibility, talking and thinking in circles and spirals rather than lines and squares, intimacy, vulnerability, and the ability to see without being seen.

My body also gives me prejudice, second-class citizenship, invisibility, joint and abdominal pain, fear of insanity, bad hair days, physical assault, assumptions of physical ugliness and stupidity, being dismissed, underestimated, and cheated.

In my 40’s I began to discover that the positive gifts derived from the first list far outweighed the pain of the second list, even though most of my attention had been focused on the second list because I was emphasizing my victim role and ignoring the considerable evidence of mastery in other areas of my life.

How many times have I used race and gender to make change, redefine boundaries, hide out, get my way, overturn hierarchy, feel a part of the underground, feel special and even superior? Often, however, those “successes” of the physical body go unnoticed and unacknowledged.

Take a look at your two lists and discover the hidden mastery you have been overlooking and failing to acknowledge in your “choice” of a physical body. The gap between these two lists offers you in microcosm an opportunity to understand and master the mechanics of creation, a chance to choose among the seen and unseen factors affecting your life and your experiences.

Being victimized in or because of the body cuts like a two-edged sword; both parties to the experience are not only imprisoned by the searing permanent images of horror and pain, but both also are unexpectedly and eventually renewed through this  endless dance of humanity. Whether victimizer or victim, both experiences serve to further. This may indeed be one reason we always seem to have volunteers for both roles, no matter how horrific they might be. Each helps the other see and experience directly and deeply the implications of thought, intention, action, belief, and emotion through the body’s experience and memory. Ultimately we are here to understand and master the mechanics of creation and the implications of what we create visibly and invisibly, including the constant and ever changing creation of the physical body as we record our experience and invisible but palpable changing beliefs.

These mechanics are not neutral tools. There are implications, consequences and global effects splayed all over the place from the conscious and unconscious choices we make and the mastery we overlook, beginning with those our body speaks. The effects of those choices are not meant to be punishment but opportunity, and in our bodies in particular we experience choice in the most personal of contexts. Once we get a handle on our bodies – our most intimate workshop –  maybe we can tackle some of the broader issues facing the entire world!

Why So Many Dilemmas Right Now?

I cannot choose, and yet I must!
I cannot choose, and yet I must!

Unlike almost any other time in recent history we are facing a host of mind-boggling and gut-wrenching dilemmas. Every day forces some impossible collective or individual action, some choice between equally horrific consequences no matter what action we take.

  • Someone has to decide whether or not to treat an Ebola patient; and then someone has to decide which treatment to give, knowing in advance that some treatments are more effective than others, knowing that in some cases placebos will be administered to test the efficacy of a certain drug for research reasons, not to cure this patient right now, or knowing that one person’s life is considered to be more important than another life depending on race, gender, profession, national origin, religion or location of the hospital where treatment occurs.
  • Someone has to decide whether a suspect is armed or not, whether the apparent weapon is real or not, whether harm is intended or not, whether an individual “belongs” in a particular neighborhood or not, whether the punishment fits the crime or not.
  • Someone has to decide whether the fundamental issue is free speech or the rise of an Islamic state or both, whether once and currently hated Jews are now allies, whether once and currently hated Arabs are now allies or enemies, who the last immigrant should be, and to decide whether any country should become or remain culturally homogeneous.
  • Someone has to decide whether fracking is good or bad for a neighborhood, nation, industry, economy, or planet and whether the benefit of this methodology outweighs its human and environmental cost in the short and/or long term.
  • Someone has to decide which submerging coastlines will be shored up and repurposed, and which islands and cultures will be abandoned as a result of sea level rise.
  • Someone has to decide which is more important – health, safety, freedom of speech, a strong economy, a secure nation – and only one can be chosen, even if its importance implies the sacrifice of all other desirable goals.
  • Someone has to decide the cost or benefit of the separation of church and state.
  • Someone has to decide the appropriate role of censorship, if any.
  • Someone has to decide whether divorce, abortion, or homosexuality automatically excludes one from the possibility of heaven.
  • Someone has to decide whether or not to report misconduct in the workplace and in the family, even if reporting inappropriate behavior means subsequent loss of livelihood and excommunication from most or all members of the family.
  • Someone has to decide whether the police and the military in general are protectors or abusers, criminals or victims, or, as is often the case, both. Furthermore, someone has to decide what defines misconduct and whether there should be consequences for a range of police or military actions.
  • Someone has to decide whether Islam and Christianity are religions, cultures, governments, races, political weapons or geographical markers, and whether either religion comes with the divine right to rule and to appropriate land. There are many other examples and many other religions to consider as well.
  • Someone has to decide which water sources must become polluted and which animals, including human beings, must become extinct in the service of progress and economic development.
  • Someone has to decide which countries deserve or require intervention and why: Syria, Rwanda, Serbia, Croatia, Haiti, Algeria, Russia, Ukraine, Nigeria, Uganda, Sudan, Myanmar, China, Japan, North and South Korea, Libya, Israel, Palestine, France, Germany, Turkey, Austria, the Ivory Coast, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Greece, Spain and many more including the United States, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Chile, Peru, Brazil, Vanuatu, Mexico, Honduras and Argentina.

No matter what companies or cultures hold as official policy or convention, it is ultimately individuals in the line of life or duty who must decide, who must act in the moment in the face of dilemma. Eventually individuals are forced to make a choice, even if any choice is horrific. Professor Egon Bittner, himself a Holocaust survivor whose various encounters with concentration camp guards during WWII determined his fate, taught me this several decades ago: he taught me the importance of individual decision making and action-on-the-go, no matter how elaborate the national government and organizational structures might seem.

I have been mulling over the nature of dilemma quite a bit lately, and have come to some tentative conclusions as to why we are placed squarely on the horns of one dilemma or the other, and in these times multiple intense dilemmas all at once. Sometimes the pressure feels  relentless and may not let up until we pay attention to the indicators that new ways of thinking and being now appear on the horizon, shimmering right before our eyes if we would only put on or take off our protective lenses.

Here is part of what I have concluded personally so far (assume and imagine here a long list of disclaimers!):

  • Major events, especially those involving horror, show us our clear, as well as our conflicting ideas and beliefs in excruciatingly high definition.
  • In light of current events, any conflicting beliefs and ideas and social categories present us with a dilemma: we are forced to choose and to act when all potential choices would be unacceptable and horrific. Doing nothing overt when faced with natural disaster or mass murder, for example, is a choice and can be called an action.
  • The point of dilemma is to force action and to provide contrast. Action, in cooperation with certain intensities of emotion and belief, creates our experience of physical reality. In my personal worldview, the point of action is ultimately to offer service, and I have a hunch the service is usually intended to be at least as much, if not more, benefit to others as to self. I hold a deep-seated belief in human nature and intention as fundamentally good, even when we mess up royally.
  • There is always some element of sacrifice and loss involved in action that is generated by an attempt to resolve the intense pressure of facing dilemma, and the loss is most often a precious one.
  • The point of service is to show love: not only in the usual positive feel-good cuddly ways, but also through horror, murder and  suicide as well: love of God, country, family, land, way of life by any means ethically necessary and at all cost. I do not believe that the end ever justifies the means. Suppressing my vote or my life or my choices now to bring about a political or economic revolution that is intended to somehow benefit me in the future is unacceptable. How you treat me now and how I treat you now matters. Waging war to bring about peace fails and fails repeatedly, no matter what myths and lies we tell ourselves about honor and sacrifice.
  • The point of love is to allow and show the infinite and ever-expanding possibilities for concrete expression in a material world, as well as invisible qualities of consciousness and anticipated fulfillment, however they eventually get expressed.
  • If it were not for free will and the possibility of horror we would not be prompted to choose, to discern, to serve, and ultimately to love. Period. We might not be motivated sufficiently to act if not faced with such enormous intensity. And without action, creation and creativity end. We would quite literally cease to be. The sacrifice of permitting the experience of horror may be the greatest love of all, especially when somewhere we hold the knowledge that horror is only one choice and never the only choice. There are always alternatives if we choose to seek them out, but first we must come to believe that such alternatives exist in the din of propaganda to the contrary.
  • Without the intense emotion of facing dilemma, many worlds would remain ephemeral holograms of what is possible but less than fully experienced in the three-dimensional realm.

Fortunately or unfortunately for us as conscious beings, horror intensifies emotion, and it is this intensity that permits the creation of new worlds through forced choice. How else to jump track? How else to stop one thread, one trend, one type of society and supplant it with another? How else to move through and past inertia?

Thanks to horror, and it is now all around us, I believe that we are quite literally on the verge of creating a new world. Some of these efforts and some of this emotion will only create more of the same horror. But some of this emotion will also create breakout ideas and breakthrough worlds!

I am still struggling with contradictions in my own thinking and in the world I see around me. On the one hand horror seems to be necessary and to serve. On the other hand we might skip the horror and come to understanding through other non-invasive means. Currently immersed in horror it is hard to look up and outside my current framework to see what other frameworks are present and possible somewhere in the world or the universe.

Right now it feels to me that when we look at some aspects of our contemporary world we are looking at a tray of burnt cookies: baked with good intention, originally meant to nourish, but made using unhealthy ingredients and way overdone. Soon, however, after perhaps many more instances of trial and error, we will get the recipe right: the perfect balance of social order and individual freedom. We will surprise ourselves with a completely new, or substantially modified recipe, a delicious morsel that quite literally all are free to enjoy – or not, by the way! Some people simply hate cookies and they are free to continue to hate them, whether or not the recipe has been substantially improved. After all, we will continue to need free will and the underlying expression of love that comes from facing dilemma.

The good news is identical to the bad news: we will continue our quest to exist, thank goodness. And we will continue to be forced to action, even in the face of seemingly impossible dilemmas. Which cookies will you bake today?

Choice III: Keeping At It

WhichWay?If one single thing distinguishes this new millennium in my mind, it will be the active and fully conscious exercise of choice. It is only the intensity of choice that can break the oppositional pull of dualism, provide the synthesis between contradictions, handle, if never entirely eliminate dilemmas, and move the human spirit to the next phase of development.

Much personal and group struggle over the centuries has been about choice – towards territorial liberation, away from imprisonment of caste and class limitations, towards the right to create one’s own personal and professional identity, towards and away from the right to communicate with God directly in whatever form God takes for us, including the absence of a God figure. Choice also takes us towards the capacity to read and write according to our taste, to parent or not, to move throughout the world or nation with ease, and to love our neighbors as ourselves – or not.

If I want to experience extremes, for example, I can always find a “playmate:” a mouse for my cat or a cat for my mouse, even if I know in advance that in this particular game the mouse eventually dies. As human beings we play cat and mouse for each other all the time: sometimes I am the cat, sometimes I am the mouse. We both experience the thrill and horror of being both predator and prey, and in so doing understand a little more about the nature of our particular form of reality.

It is choice that permits accountability, claims responsibility, ends victimization and blame, and opens us to the possibility of fulfillment. When I exercise conscious choice I no longer blame another for my fate or misfortune, nor do I let another steal my freedom. My actions become heroic rather than weak or shameful, and yet I do stand up, even if it means the ultimate sacrifice of my life. The question is, can I stand up without having to die for choosing, and can I still receive my “reward in heaven” if I choose not to take another life or even my own?

The awareness of choice literally redefines history; the conscious exercise of choice transforms it. Discover the choices you are making now: the unconscious ones as well as those at the forefront of your awareness. When we reclaim our authority to choose what we experience, we can laugh at our errors of action or judgment and change them, and we can revel in our great successes. We can claim both fully.

Choice does not necessarily mean the immediate end of horror, nor does it necessarily mean the end of organized religious expression or social order, but it does mean and it does hold out the promise and possibility of fulfillment at every level.

The Color of Music

Recently a colleague came to dinner. The conversation was East Coast heady covering decades of experience, emotion, and intellectual understanding. We laughed, traded professional and bawdy stories, discovered surprise. All was going along quite well until a question shot out like a bolt from the blue…

“Why did you stop singing, Helen?” my musically savvy dinner guest asked. “And why are you so reticent to begin again?” (By now I was sure my trusty dusty best friend had spilled the beans about my fear of singing.)

From somewhere deep within, tucked away under lock and key for decades, a river of emotion seeped through the crevices of some interior vault, threatening to open a Pandora’s Box I didn’t even know I had buried. I was invited to remember how important music had been and remains in my life. In addition to singing too often and way too loudly in my dad’s military chapel, I sang in church and touring choirs in the U.S. and Germany, chorus at university, motets, trios, duets and countless arrangements in high school and college, and more congregational songs in various churches than I could possibly count.

And then, seemingly all of a sudden, the music stopped. I left church, I left the university, I left Germany, and I left music, at least of the formal kind where you sat in the audience and listened or stood at the podium and sang.

When the Sixties and Seventies came along the music was more a vehicle for dance and political expression than a focus on “the voice.” My body swayed to these new rhythms and loved them, but my singing voice began to take a back seat and eventually fell silent most of the time. I could no longer read music and I lost all trust in my ability to hold a note, harmonize, or sing on key. My closest friend would regularly encourage me to sing (and still does!), but I would have none of it… that is, until I got double teamed at dinner recently and remembered the joy of middle C.

Still today when I am alone and I feel melancholy or wonder or joy, I find a trusty song – usually a hymn or medieval chant because that’s what we sang back then – and sing it softly to express a moment of resonance from the distant past when music was my passion. The love of music was hidden but had never completely disappeared. It was just “private.”

Our dinner guest described the power of music in ways I had never heard before: the variations in color, tone, and mood that a single note could evoke. She talked about how a deep-seated fear of singing like mine could be overcome by making  an intimate connection with something as simple as the note of middle C.

Her storytelling was so powerful I found the tears welling up, and at one point even had to excuse myself from the table. She described the potential variations of a single note, the colors of music that provide unlimited expression to something as simple as the lowly underestimated note of C. How much more might I finally express in my whole being when the terror of a single note could be so deftly overcome? Is it possible that other notes waiting for their colors to be seen would begin to tumble from my rusty vocal chords and tucked away notebooks?

The Color of Music
The Color of Music

For the first time in decades this holiday season has offered me an opportunity to consider my own song, my clunky personalized vamp, my dusty old love of middle C. Now other pent-up notes may start tumbling out as well…some sung, some written, some photographed, some merely hummed in the shower of my solitary mind.

Thanks, dear friends, for bringing me home to the color of music. One of these days I’ll dust that color off and make new sounds; or at least I’ll frame it.

Are We There Yet? On the Record in October 2001

Number is 5

March 2020

I posted an intuitive insight on the 19th of October, 2001, going “On the Record,” about certain global events, then followed with an update in early 2015. Somehow both statements seem as relevant today as they did almost nineteen years ago, immediately following the collapse of the World Trade Towers in New York. I am reposting a modified version of this piece once again as we face global challenges with the emergence of COVID-19, a new corona virus that surfaced in late 2019. Presently this virus is believed to be transmitted by tiny droplets of virus-contaminated water entering the body through the eyes, nose and mouth, causing temporary and possibly permanent damage to the lungs.

Update From January 2015: Earth, Air, Fire, Now Water

Since 2001 we have experienced Banda Aceh, Fukushima, chemical and biological warfare in the Middle East, devastating earthquakes in Haiti, as well as in the U.S. heartland, the Near, Middle and Far East, melting glaciers, dead and dying coral reefs and disappearing islands and coastlines as our seawater rises and generates epic floods. On the other hand there is simultaneous drought and lack of water in many parts of the United States and the world, triggering massive wildfires that rage uncontained for months on end. Our drinking water is contaminated with lead and other untold chemicals. New and old viruses battle for our attention, our fear, and our funding: the ebola virus, bird and swine flu, and the still important AIDS epidemic, even though we try to make AIDS seem like ancient history by comparison. Now we add a new corona virus to that infamous list: COVID-19.

We knowingly contaminate our water tables and divert our water supply to serve identified national needs. In the early years of the millennium we justified fracking as a tool to meet our political and economic desire for energy independence and a strong economy. We made such near-term decisions even when we realized early on that the practice causes permanent damage to the planet and to our neighborhoods in the longer term. Because the neighborhoods immediately impacted were poor, we turned our heads and looked away.

We have experienced plenty of bad news during these past two decades, and the public discourse about current news could certainly qualify us as living in a political and social “cuckoo’s nest.” We have also experienced amazingly good news during this period, but the original insight for that moment in 2001 dealt with contemporaneous craziness.

We sit squarely on the horns of a dilemma: what action, if any, shall we take? When Jack Nicholson landed in the cinematic version of the cuckoo’s nest, he decided to do something about his situation and that of others, even at great cost to himself. Will we exercise similar courage?

Here is what I wrote then about choices we were facing. The way I did things at the time was to get an mental or visual image or metaphor, describe the image, and then try to ascertain any potential meaning. Here I am, on the record, over eighteen years ago:

Original Post On the Record on the 19th of October, 2001

General Image: ‘One flew over the cuckoo’s nest.’

Meaning: Discerning who is crazy and who is sane becomes more and more difficult. Limiting one’s targets is impossible at this time. Discerning friend from enemy cannot be accomplished with any degree of accuracy. Making a water supply polluted only for the enemy is ludicrous. Releasing diseases only for the enemy is impossible to control. There are always surprises in such wars that are controlled by the forces of nature much more effectively than the forces of men in enclosed spaces.

Image about chemical and biological warfare: The same as above. ‘As above, so below.’

Meaning: All of the four elements will be carriers of chemical and biological warfare: earth, air, water, fire. Those who suffered already from oil fires in Desert Storm, napalm in Vietnam, radiation in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, understand the four elements as opportunities for carnage as well as development. Earth, air, and fire have already been key conduits for carnage….now it is the time for water. The water may be bodily fluids, such as mucous and blood; public reservoir systems that millions depend on for life itself; lakes and oceans. Beached whales and angry sharks foretell of these new developments. Look and listen.

Laurel. There is a place called Laurel [possible state name deleted] that experiences the impact of water poisoning. It is a small place, and yet the impact is 100 times that of the September 11th events. We don’t absolutely have to fly, [for a very brief period all air traffic halted in the United States following the events of 9/11], but we must find and trust water to survive. One small and yet compelling incident with water and life is never the same. Such an incident is on the horizon. These four-part harmonies are just about to begin in earnest. Earth, air, fire, water. And the greatest of these is water. If we forget love, then we will remember water.”

*****

That is what I wrote then. Now that we have hindsight, how much of it was truly foresight? What else do we need to remember, and what else is it finally time to forget on the way to becoming one world?

I will say it again: pay attention to water.

Choice and National Culture Revised: Bringing the Question Home

WTC BeforeNational cultures are made, not born. When Abraham was asked to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac, for example, this defining moment appears in various forms across several religious and cultural stories and continues to shape our contemporary politics. 

National cultures last longer than a generation and they depend on the continual interplay of relationships between individuals, groups, institutions, and external cultures that help shape national boundaries and sometimes force them. While not “persons” in the legal sense, national cultures do indeed have identity and are undoubtedly influenced by their beginnings. 

On the other hand, there are many other stories that can show powerful influence of a more positive nature, less fraught with gut-wrenching dilemma. Perhaps the time has come to find and share some of these alternative iconic cultural moments. If external events such the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, spread of the ebola virus, rise of ISIS and of ISIL as a potential Islamic state, increased need for water and energy, and global warming are insufficient to capture our attention, what about issues closer to home such as police-community relations in Ferguson, Missouri, New York City, and countless other locations across the U.S.? Who deserves to be educated, housed, employed, and healthy? Which of these contribute to our definitions of ourselves and others in what becomes an expression of our national culture?

National culture is a blueprint that provides the framework for a structure and the opportunity for a choice. That framework should not be confused with the structure itself, any more than a draftsman’s blueprint should be mistaken for a three-dimensional building. National culture offers us moments to decide who we are, to shape ourselves and our projections into the world. There is ample room for choice. In fact, embedded in the power and intensity of culture over time and generations is the responsibility to make continuous choices which ultimately contribute to the flourishing or the demise of that culture.

Nations reach decision points, just as individuals, families and companies do. As we are currently in the throes of what will later come to be known as a Third World War, many nations are facing critical decision points. Leaders arise who reflect (and sometimes shape) the full range of possible cultural expression. Whether through election or coup d’etat, the intensity of collective emotion, belief, and thought determines which leader is chosen, which events occur, and eventually which national persona the culture adopts based on its current shared values. As citizens, we get what we ask for on a conscious or unconscious basis. Do not underestimate the power of individuals and small groups to identify and promote leaders, and to frame leadership in any particular historical moment. There are many crossroads, many potential tipping points: who will we be as a nation in this time? Global political and cultural events are never inevitable in my view, even though blueprints from some deeper level of collective consciousness shape daily life and expression. Events exist to help us make choices, not to resign us to some predetermined fate.

“Destiny” is active, creative, vital, vibrant, continuously changing as we make and act on our conscious and unconscious choices and beliefs. Destiny was never meant to imprison; it was meant to offer a frame of reference that helps us look into our collective mirrors. The true meaning of destiny is purpose, expressed through values, understanding, choice and action. 

I believe we do the best we can as national cultures given our resources, beliefs and available information at any moment in time. Much like individuals, “when we know better, we do better.” Even in moments of deep despair and anger about what I may consider to be the flaws of any particular national culture, I continue to believe that ultimately the collective “We” will both know better and do better. Alas, I cannot predict precisely when “ultimately” turns out to be or what the scenario will look like, although important clues abound. That being said, I try to contribute something to the ultimate moment I would personally like to experience in each moment of each day in my little corner of the world and in my little corner of our national culture. That may be all any of us can do. And when I know better, I’ll do better…

My Big Toe

BigToeI returned from a most extraordinary trip to the East Coast only to discover that all that walking around had damaged my right big toe. It was blue purple, bleeding, swollen, looking as if the nail would pop right off at the slightest touch. We walked a lot in New York City, but I had not bumped into anything or slammed my foot into a door.  Having been teased and stared at quizzically on the last trip to the mainland’s East Coast, however, my vanity took over and I left my beloved toe shoes at home this time, settling for a more conventional pair.

After returning home to Honolulu I could not move, could not tolerate anything touching my big toe. Potential medical issues ran the gamut from “No big deal: suck it up and but a bandage on it.” to “This could be the sign of a life-threatening illness!”

Thoroughly immersed in a world view that insists on the intimate connection between mind and body, I finally asked myself the same question I would ask of any client: “Why is this happening, and why now?” What is the deeper message my big toe is trying to tell me? What have I been missing so often that I had to get a big blue toe to force me to stop and think?”

In my intuitive dictionary the feet and toes have to do with an impulse – often a suppressed impulse – to run away or perhaps even run towards something: a person, situation, challenge, even a shift in professional or personal identity. The index finger and the big toe have to do with direction – Direction with a capital “D.” The finger has to do more with immediate decision making, but the toe has to do with fundamental direction and identity, with destination, perhaps even with destiny.

As if divinely staged, I ran into a colleague soon after whose symptoms were mirroring my own but derived from a trip to the Far East, not the East Coast, affecting the other foot and a different toe. We hooted at the discovery of all these synchronicities including our insistent and deep, heretofore unspoken prod to make important decisions about the fundamentals of professional and personal direction.

I am convinced that the body talks when the mind is afraid to look within on a conscious basis. My colleague and I share a worldview that toe stubs are more than toe stubs; they are consciousness stubs as well, pointing us to ways in which we may be “running away from” our deepest fulfillment. Stubbing our toes made it impossible to run, hindering our movement just long enough to stop and think about what we were doing. We were asking similar questions and our bodies were sending out similar clues and alarms, if we would only take the time to notice. With all we had read and all we thought we knew, we still struggled with the message, but we knew there was one.

Eventually we talked our way through our unique configuration of core beliefs, as well as the impact the old ones were still having on our present circumstances.

What challenging fun! There is no need to divulge here the content of our discussion. Rather, I invite you to trigger your own conversation with your body and to listen to its answers.

Notice your aches:

If the ear: are you listening well or being heard?

If the back: are you feeling betrayed or are you betraying someone?

If the eyes: are you observing something that makes you uncomfortable,  but feel unable to do anything about it?

If the arms: are you holding back from implementing something at work or in your home life for fear your efforts will be rejected?

If the chest: are you feeling constrained by external forces, or is there some unexpressed grief?

If the knees: are you struggling to make a decision to stay or leave a situation, person, position, profession?

If the base of your head: are you still carrying old rage about events from the far past?

If your neck: does your head tell you to do one thing, while your heart wants to do something else?

If the hands: is there someone you would like to punch out?

If the forearms: is there something you would like to implement but hold back from fear of rejection or failure?

You can modify this list to make it your own in a way that matches your body’s communications. These are just examples. By paying attention you will be amazed at the coherence between physical symptoms and emotional states.

Yesterday I made a fundamental decision that gave me a sense of relief and got me back on track, thanks to my big toe. Today the color is gradually returning to that right toe, even though I may lose the nail. I am going to heal, I am going to live, I am going to do what feels good, regardless of public image, and by golly, I am going to wear my toe shoes no matter what anybody thinks about them!

Today I remembered to thank my body for the other aches and pains I have been ignoring, the ones associated not simply with growing old or being out of shape, but rather those coded communications from the inside out that are gently tugging me towards my own fulfillment and warning me if I go astray. After all, age “ain’t nuthin’ but a number!”

What is your body telling you about your direction, your relationships, your dreams and fears, and most importantly, about your core beliefs? Ultimately, it is your beliefs about yourself, human nature, and the future of the world that support and hinder not only your body, but your fulfillment as well. Conversations not only in the flesh, but with the flesh: what a hoot, what a wonder, what fun!

 

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Personality Conflicts May Not Be What They Seem

Confrontations of Matched Strength
Personality Conflicts

Like many of us, I assumed that personality conflicts in the workplace were the result of having to deal with difficult people. What I know now is that most – if not all – workplace personality conflicts derive from deeper structural issues, even if the other person is not particularly somebody you’d want to hang out with on weekends for a variety of reasons having to do with individual style and taste. That is completely normal. But for serious personality conflicts at work, ask yourself if the difficult individual is:

  • unclear about her or his job description?
  • having to report to more than one person at a time?
  • given more work to do than is humanly possible to complete during a normal work week?
  • underpaid for the level and quality of work demanded?
  • understaffed and under-resourced, making it difficult to complete quality work requested in a timely fashion?
  • kept in the dark about larger organizational challenges, perspectives, and plans?
  • rarely or never selected for further professional development?
  • unacknowledged?

Is the difficult relationship:

  • the result of unclear lines of authority? Who’s actually zooming whom?
  • the result of policy gaps, where neither really knows what he or she is supposed to do, by when, and for which policy, constituency, or audience?
  • the result of unspoken conventions that have never been written down, but play out every day?
  • the result of limited or non-existing professional development? Remember, “Deadwood” was once a live tree, curious to learn and excited to help!
  • the result of pure exhaustion on the part of one or both of you?  A little deep rest could go a long way towards resolution.
  • the result of simple exclusion by either of you? “Tick, tock, the game is locked, and nobody else can play.”
  • the result of mixed messages and poor leadership from above that has divided and conquered you, taking the attention away from where it really belongs: on poor leaders and mediocre leadership?

Take a few minutes to ask and answer these questions for your situation and organization, as well as for the person you are focusing on right now. Ask these questions not only about the difficult person you have to deal with, ask them about your own situation as well. Are any of those things listed above happening to you? Is someone else considering you the difficult person they are having to deal with? Are they thinking you are difficult for the very same structural reasons having to do with mixed messages and lack of clarity? Has someone else, a supervisor or third party, for example, placed you both in an untenable situation structurally?

Then ask yourself these questions intuitively:

  • “What one action on my part, if any, could remedy this situation?”
  • “Based on my location in the company or group right now, what can I do unilaterally if necessary from this position, even if I seem to have no official authority?”
  • “What is the one clearly shared goal that both the difficult person and I have that we could build around and shift our situation from adversarial to collegial?” “Is there something we could do together that would be easy instead of so hard the way it is now, that could ‘reboot’ our relationship?”

Take the very first answer you get in seven seconds or less for each question and act on it. It is possible that this difficult person may not be difficult any more, that you in turn may not be perceived as difficult, and the situation may begin to be resolved with a little patience and probably a lot less time than you imagined!

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