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The Island

By: wavpeac Thursday November 22, 2012 11:16 am

There is a metaphor we use in our groups, called the island. The island is basically a metaphor for disconnection. It is the physical and emotional act of “not being present”, We can put ourselves “on the island” by being in our head, or getting drunk or buzzed, by isolating or by thinking that we have nothing in common with those around us. We can put ourselves “on the island” by thinking that others don’t like us or love us. We can put ourselves on the island by judging ourselves for our clothes, our weight, our hair, our shoes, the food we brought. Being “on the island” is a form of self conciousness that prevents us from reaching out to others.

We put ourselves on the island often times as a learned behavior. Through criticism or projection, we have learned to focus on ourselves looking moment to moment to catch ourselves in the act of a mistake. We have learned to train our eyes for the thing that is “wrong” with us or with someone else. This act causes a disconnect with the present moment. It causes us to leave our own brain and begin skimming the brains of those around us…wondering if they are seeing our “wrongness” before we do. We must hurry to find it, before someone else points it out. In the end this is a coal fire of shame burning in the soul. The basic belief that on some level “there is something wrong with me”, and I must maintain an appearance that all is well. This is a diconnect from authenticity from being connected and in the present. When we go to our heads with those thoughts about the outfit we have on, or the dish we brought wondering if it meets some magical standard, we are living in our heads, in a fairy land imagined, in a land of judgments and projections, an inaccurate map instead of the moment, the terrain of NOW!

This very map, that we use in our heads, the one that causes us to disconnect from the moment in self conciousness, is also the very same map that causes us to isolate or disconect by putting someone else on the island. “Oh that one, I don’t like her, I just try to avoid her”. We are projecting that map, looking through our template at all times. We are seeing what we think of ourselves on the great silk screen of life. Just like the old movie projectors that occasionally had a peice of lint on the projector lens, we through our lens, full of lint or judgments we have learned throughout our lives.

Most of the time, the folks who surround us at the holidays are not dangerous criminals out to harm us. They do not by fact, need to isolated on an island for the safety of all. Even the worst drunk, will likely do no more than yell, or cuss, or stumble. If safety is an issue, we must set boundaries and sometimes we need to put them on the island to be safe. (avoid them) But more times than not the damage comes not from the actual “slight” but from our own reactions. This is how we put others on the island. We think. We use those same judgments that haunt us to label others.

Well, maybe two years ago that relative said something hurtful to me and now every time I see them I remember what they said, OR every time I see them they say something else hurtful (sometimes because we are expecting it, waiting for it, making it match our map). We hold the resentment as if it is happening right now and we hold the resentment as if it somehow helps us or keeps us safe. We forget that time has gone by that we have all changed, each moment of every day.

As long as our map of judgments is unrevised in the now (oh, she says stuff like that, but she’s drunk) or (he’s insulted me again, but I know who I am and I don’t have to let it hurt my feelings) , we will project the same old circumstance on that relative and on all those around us. If someone calls us a carp or a fish and we know for certain that we are not, we are generally “unharmed” by the comment. In fact, we know we are not a fish and we wonder instead if there is something wrong with the observer that they would think we are a fish. But if we believe, or if what they say about us, matches that template of judgments, our map of past reality, we will be insulted. We will not be able to distinguish the the thought of the observer is about them. It is not about us…but we believe it is about us, because it matches our map.

We will reinforce and recreate our templates over and over again.This basically means we will responding to the past and what we learned about it, instead of the RIGHT NOW. Maybe we were in a bad place the last time we had our feelings hurt, maybe we didn’t know with more certainty who we really are, maybe we thought that others could really hurt us with words, or maybe we mistakenly thought that the words and actions of others are about us, not them. Either way, if there is a resentment, a hurt, a slight, it can usually be found in our hearts, in some judgment we are making about how things should be or shouldn’t be. Those kinds of judgments rarely serve us to find true inner peace in the now, and really, those judgments are about our very own template, more so than the behavior of that relative or loved one.

How we live the NOW fully present, changes the next moment.

May you find this moment, the moment between your map of the world and what is, may you find true peace and love in that layer of reality today!! May you manage to keep yourself and others off the island today!

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Let’s try a Dialectical Approach with Obama

By: wavpeac Tuesday January 3, 2012 12:56 pm

Right now on on this web site there are at least two Obama diaries at odds with each other. One skewers Obama, and the other piles on the admiration. The same occurs in discussions about Ron Paul. The comments on each are a fury of emotions. Twenty years of counseling have put me in the middle of this very dynamic on many occasions, so I know the dynamic and it’s consequences very well. But…there is a recovery path to take. What has happened here, happens in many homes.

As the wife of an alcoholic, a trauma survivor myself married to another trauma survivor, let me tell you that there are a host of skills we could be using that would decrease the damage to one and another and elevate the truth. It would require understanding some new terms, practicing some new skills and trying a new paradigm. This journey is the same one taken by families dealing with autism, alcoholism, Parkinson’s, Brain tumors and mental illness. This is a journey we are meant to take. What if the paradox of Obama is not meant to destroy us? What if these very real differences in perception are meant to cause a change in us?

There is very real fear in each side of the Obama argument. The dialectic is a form of argumentation producing a type of logic that is spiral rather than inductive or deductive in nature. The dialectic is currently being used in a therapy called Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). This type of argumentation helps to confront the double binds of black and white thinking…the kind of thinking fueled by emotion and often found in the destructive threads of these diaries. An important part of this journey would be to understand the emotion behind each side of the argument. Those supporting Obama very strongly are “afraid” that he will not be re-elected and even worse that a republican will be in charge. These folks likely remember the Bush years with terror, and there is truth to that fear. The anti Obama folks have fear too. Both sides fear invalidation and not being heard. Meanwhile the anti Obama folks fear that no one is seeing an erosion of rights, and a support of the corporate corruption being seen as perpetuated or helped by Obama’s policies and behaviors. Both sides fear losing the “American Dream”. When there is strong emotion, there is black and white thinking. There will be more judgments and more theory.

When we work the dialectic we acknowledge truth on both ends of the polar. We make a commitment to the notion that nothing in the universe is truly “black or white”. We accept the journey to synthesis the truth at each end of the polar argument. We learn to find a kernel of truth in each end of every polarity. Just as there is non truth in each end of every polarity. Both sides carry truth, both sides carry non truth.

Obama is not bad or good. He is both. The key to synthesis is to be able to confront, and lay out the truths on each side of each polarity. There are many polarities to be explored here. Corrupt and not corrupt. Progressive, not progressive. Accountable, not accountable. Synthesis requires developing the skills to argue more than one side of the argument. This produces a paradigm shift. It produces the ability to acknowledge an opposing view with respect. It produces dedication and commitment to synthesis over taking a polar stand. Synthesis is about doing what works, in this moment, given the truth and non truths of each polarity.

If we continue to seek “right” over synthesis of truth, we will destroy opposing factions. We will have to destroy or refuse to recognize certain elements of the truth. The key word for using the dialectic is “and”. This argument AND that. “And” replaces “OR”.

My husband is an alcoholic. His childhood had some trauma much like mine. His behaviors while drinking hurt me. And yet, I understood him. Peace came to me, by managing the polarities. The truths. I had to be able to acknowledge the real value of him in my life, and the real cost. I had to be able to balance the real harm of staying with him and the real harm of leaving him. In my case, confronting the truth of each end of the polarity resulted in more effective and honest interaction with his disease. It helped me put an end to denial, resentments and rage. It helped me learn to do what works, facing my fears, my denial instead of trying to change his.

The issue of Obama is much the same way for me. We could likely argue ways that he is the best president and ways that he is the worst. There is truth in each end of that discussion. He is a mixture of both. He has done “good” things. He has done “bad” things. He has done “positive” things and “harmful” things. And the same argument could likely be made about every other president in history. The idea is to avoid an argument about who is “right” or “wrong” and understand that both positions have truth. In this discussion about Obama there is synthesis. We have to accept certain truths. He exists. He is currently in office. We begin with a list of truths…facts. We extend the facts as far into each polar as we can. We look for effectiveness over right or wrong or any polar position. We look for an idea about what will work. He is progressive in this way and not in this way. The synthesis may be different for each person. We don’t all have to agree to interact with these polarities in the same way. We can choose what works for us.

When dealing with alcoholic families or families where there is a severe disability like autism. Oftentimes, the first discussion is about staying or leaving the person perceived to be causing the pain. It is as if these two positions are the only two that exist. We either put him in a home or keep him. We kick him out or keep him. We put him in treatment or keep him. We change him or keep him. In many cases “keep him” requires change him. But in reality what works is to stop needing to change the other person, and to change ourselves to meet the truth of the situation. So with autism it might mean facing a truth about the amount of change that is possible and confronting that truth with more tolerance and effectiveness. With alcoholism it might mean facing a truth about trying to change an alcoholic.

It first means that we must accept what is. What is really true. When we are busy defending a position over seeking truth, we will often times only allow “truth” or the polar truths that support our end of the polar. Leaving or staying is a polarity. So the truth about staying, the truth about leaving will bring an different perspective than…we should stay with Obama or leave Obama. We should stay with Obama AND leave Obama. The synthesis is how we choose to interact with the polarities in an Obama administration. It focuses on what we WILL do in response to the kernels of truth in each polarity. Not on arguing one side over another.

In my work as a counselor, many families have learned to stop focusing on the question of leave or stay, and have found a synthesis for what is. In that synthesis they have found peace for themselves and the family. In my case, my husband drank through almost two years as the family “stayed” facing the truth of his disease. We stopped denying and started dealing with the reality of the disease by seeking effectiveness over leaving or staying. This required learning to do things that were often uncomfortable. Not leaving the kids with him instead of trying to get him to promise to stay sober. Refusing to let him drive the vehicle that was in my name. (no matter how angry he got.) Learning to leave the house to prevent an argument and to do it with my children in mind instead of my emotions driving. So, with happiness, a trip to the store with the kids. (for them) He eventually quit drinking. My work synthesizing the reality of his disease was a lesson for me in truth and consequences. That journey was a blessing while the journey of trying to change him or leave him only produced emotions, chaos and sorrow.

The journey led by truth and synthesis did require my learning new skills but at every level it was obvious that the change required in me was for the best in the long run, not only for me, but for my children to witness. This is what happens when we focus on synthesis over imaginary static positions at the polar end of a discussion.

Many families are facing these types of scenarios. This is part of the design of the human experience. We can let it destroy us, destruct us, cause us to behave in ways we know don’t really work, cause us to act out of emotion, forsaking our rationality AND we can seek resolution, seek truth over righteousness, effectiveness over argumentation, empowerment over destruction.

There is synthesis in those difficult threads. The word “destructive” was used at the top of the page, but as this diary ends, we could instead discuss how these diaries can be “instructive” as well as destructive. Not “or” but “and”.

(Cross posted on DKOS)

The Real Power of Peace

By: wavpeac Friday November 11, 2011 10:51 am

As Occupy Wall Street protests bubble up and pop like popcorn across the land. It occurred to me, that there are rare times in history when talking about the power of peace is a conversation that might be heard. As a little girl during the 70′s my interest in the topic of peace began on a Saturday morning when the neighbors, a family of 9, learned that their only brother had been drafted into the Vietnam war. As a child, I hated cartoons, loved to watch talk shows and news. Anything “real”.

As a survivor of a sometimes violent father, a violent sexual assault at age 12, and domestic violence, this theme of peace has haunted me for a life time. Preaching to others my desire for world peace as I would catch a glimpse of myself yelling at one of my children was a wake up call to the complexity of this issue in my life. I wanted peace more than anything in the world, but clearly I didn’t have it. The thought of war always made me cry, but it has taken a life time for me to see the connection between my own non peaceful behaviors and war. I wasn’t a peaceful person, sometimes I still struggle today, but my ultimate journey is this process. My thoughts weren’t peaceful, my ideas weren’t always peaceful and most of all, I found that the paradigm of victim, is as much a cause of violence as the paradigm of perpetrator. Both paradigms are woven in the idea that peace comes from what others do, not what we do.

The thing that struck me as a child was the utter ineffectiveness of war. It seemed such a clear waste of human potential, a waste of resources, and a fountain of suffering with little happening to validate the process as effective or good, or right. War is validated by emotions, honor, indebtedness, obligation, and money. War is validated in the paradigm of victim and perpetrator. Interestingly, I was blind to my own private wars. There was a complete disconnect between my own life, and the wars I judged others for starting. On Veterans day, I have no desire to diminish the sacrifices of those who enter the service. Instead, this diary is meant to validate the true suffering of those who have served and continue to serve. Injury, death and suicide, not to mention mental health issues, addictions, and spousal abuse means most of us have been touched by the agony of our blindness to the power of peace. And make no mistake, America is blind. I was blind.

This is a series of diaries beginning today in honor of the very real sacrifice that veterans of war, and their families have made on a daily basis…throughout the history of this country. From the Revolutionary war, to the conflict in Afghanistan, we as a country have failed to validate certain truths about the use of violence to attain an outcome. We have failed to “see” certain weaknesses in this approach. Most of all, we fail to see the strength, and absolute power of peace. The effectiveness in peace. We have seen glimpses of this power, in the likes of Jesus Christ, Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Ghandi, Desmond Tutu, Martin Buber, and many others. We watched the power of peace in Greece. But we fail to talk in depth about the very real discipline and steps required if we are going to “give peace a chance”. We want peace, I wanted peace, but I did not understand that peace is not an outward behavior. It is a way of life.

Does peace, have an inherent power? Absolutely. If you look at the list of the names above, it’s not hard to see that in order to have peace, we risk our lives, our health and well being. Peace is dangerous. There is no such thing as a way to avoid the dangers of living. Often times, when we think of peace or war, we think of “safety”. How can we “safely” kill others? How can we “safely” be peaceful? The answer to that “we can’t”. Peace is not a safe way to conduct business. But it is a POWERFUL way to achieve an outcome. It is a powerful way to change the world.

It’s power is not in “control” over the outcome. The “power of peace” comes from the discipline required to attain it. That’s why my espousing the value of peace, without having my own, would do nothing to impact the world in a meaningful way. I didn’t know how to live it. My hypocrisy whether arguing with a colleague or my husband at home was part of the problem. The power of peace comes from the long term picture, not the short term goal. Peace is about long term vision and change. It is about a “way of life”. It is about what is best for the me, others, and the universe over time.

But make no mistake, peace can be dangerous and it is dangerous because it is powerful. If you refuse to be afraid, if you no longer fear their control of you, if you have learned to find peace yourself, you cannot be influenced by the power of threat or violence. If your paradigm is that the only way to be safe in the world is to control others, then the peaceful protester who refuses to be controlled, is extremely dangerous. And then the peaceful protester must be controlled. And this means of control runs the continuum from shackles to death. They killed Jesus because of his power, they killed Martin Luther King Jr. because of his power. They imprisoned Tutu because of his power. The more we are able to live peace, the more power we have to BE peace. Developing this discipline is a multivariate solution. There is the solution seen by the outer world, the solution as experienced by the self, and the solutions as experience by those who live with us. We can influence peace on all three levels, and this is the strongest way to exercise this power.

What qualifies me for this discussion? Nothing except my own personal journey on all three levels. Learning to have peace in my heart, led to peace in my family, leads to helping others have peace. In my journey, my hero’s have been Martin Buber (who’s family was killed in the concentration camps of Hitler’s Germany), Jesus Christ (as a human being), Martin Luther King Jr (who remains my greatest hero), Mahatma Ghandi, (who in his writings to Buber showed his very real struggle with inner peace and forgiveness), as well as every single survivor of childhood trauma who ever shared their life and journey with me.

My studies on the topic have brought me from being completely anti war, to a more dialectical approach to the issue of violence. There is power in violence and there is power in peace. We are woefully ignorant about the power of peace. And it has taken me a lifetime for me to understand that there exists a very valid, predictable path to peace. It’s not some mystical idea. It’s a set of behaviors. It works and it has power. In my work, there have been miracles. People have done things that the world said could not be done. They have found peace in circumstances that books, and the war paradigm could never predict. My own life has seen the power of this shift in paradigm. My marriage, born of obsession and marked with violence, is an example of what can happen when we follow this path to peace. This is a path, a journey that people pay me to take, today. And when they follow these skills they find it. Not everyone is capable of following or understanding these steps. Not everyone will make the paradigm shift. But the truth of the matter is this…the power of peace only needs to be witnessed over and over again, for the power of it to grow. All we need to do, is to see this power in others, to witness the power of it, to be in it’s presence. It’s about attraction not promotion. We crave it, but it has been very hard to find. We honor and even worship those who have practiced these steps. We see the validity in their behavior. We see the inherent power. Just as we honor the warrior, we need also honor the peace makers. People will die, be tortured, injured, and wounded in both paradigms. The pain is inescapable, but what is much more important, is the long term impact of the two approaches on our lives. One leads to more peace. The other leads to suffering.

So what are the steps to peace? What are the behaviors we must develop if OWS is going to be a successful peaceful protest over time? Let me lay them out for you. If you practice these concepts, you will first and foremost have inner peace regardless of what the world, our government chooses to do to you. You will know how to choose peace. You will have a more peaceful marriage, more peaceful relationship with your most difficult child, or colleague. You will find peace with your ex spouse, and your most annoying neighbor. It will be yours along with all the power it has in it. It’s not magic, but it is truth. And the truth will set you free.

The steps to peace are as follows:

1) 100% accountability. This step could be called the “Let it begin with me” step. This is the idea that no one else has the power to make you violent or to end your peace, but you.
2) Practice mindfulness with intention, attitude, and awareness.
3) Learn the skills of emotion regulation. Learn to control your emotions through purposeful interpretations, and opposite to emotion actions.
4) Learn how to be dialectical. Learn to engage in logic that validates the truth in the polarities of life. Learn to attach and detach from your beliefs as you look at life from all angles.
5) Practice a nonjudgmental stance. Thoughts feed emotions. Thoughts create our reality. If you want peace, you must become aware of your thoughts and create thoughts that lead you there.

In future diaries, I would like to flesh out these ideas and write in more detail about each step. If you learn to do each of these steps, you will change your life. You will have peace, and as you walk through life in peace, it will change the world.

Let me know your thoughts on this topic, share your stories about violence and how it has impacted your life, talk to me about the power of peace in your life. Let’s begin a dialogue as we walk the path to peace.

Football coach saves Drowing girl.

By: wavpeac Saturday September 24, 2011 10:01 am

This was written in response to a diary about the impact of teachers by Ruth Calvo. Someone suggested I share this, as part of a request by my dear DW Bartoo, inviting people to share their stories. I have written several diaries about me and my husband’s experiences with labor unions, and my favorite topic “the path to peace”. I guess this is one more addition to a series of diaries that create “my story”. Thanks to the one who suggested that I post this as a diary.

It’s the ironies of life that stick with me. The man who saved my life, literally plucked me out of a sea of whirling epithets, was quite the opposite of what my mind might have imagined. I was the new girl in a small town of 500 or so. Having moved from the inner city, it was city mouse meet country cousins. Both the worst and best of my life happened in the very town where lady Gaga, shot her last video. To this day, tiny midwestern towns both draw and repel me. Such a mixture of wild and tame, hostility and generosity, good will and bad.

As the new girl in this tiny town, the outsider, 12 years old, with long blond hair, and a desire to out run the fastest boy, one of my greatest life challenges occurred. It wasn’t a soft spoken female, or a caring social worker type that saved me. It wasn’t the parents of my friends, no they scorned me. It was the football coach. He, with his red faced yelling; his style was anything but gentle as he would throw an eraser if someone was caught sleeping in his class.

My cries for help, went out in journals, where I told my story. There would be sweet notes back from some of the teachers imploring me to keep talking about it. While others ignored me, and still others looked for predatory opportunities. The football coach didn’t play this game. It was as if he swam out to me, in the stormy ocean as I was drowning and handed me the life preserver. He was relentless about calling on me in class. Even as I looked stoned. He made sure to talk to me, every day. He told me over and over again, how smart I was. Told my mom, that I was perhaps the smartest girl in the class. And when I began to slip under, told my parents, and me, in no uncertain terms the importance of the loss of me.

In a town of 500, when the new girl comes to town and is gang raped by a group of older boys, there is no adult that does not know. And it seemed there was no adult who knew what to do, including my parents, years later when they found out. The rumor spreads like wild fire. It surrounds you, and drowns you like an ocean of disapproval. The stares, the whispers, the isolation. “My mom wouldn’t let me invite you, she said we don’t want girls like you at our house”.

But this man, the football coach, history teacher, and perhaps one of the most powerful men in my little town, put his hand out and pulled me up. He said; “No, these words they say, these horrible events are not you”.

Years of therapy, later, I have forgotten the sick ones. But I cannot forget that man, and how he changed the course of my life, simply by taking the time, to treat me as a person of potential and intelligence instead of a sex object, crazy girl, or some other label. He knew what to do, and he did it, and it changed my life. The fact that it was the football coach was all the more important. I knew he heard those stories, I knew he had heard the worst, and yet, he still reached out to me, and treated me like a person of potential. The way he looked at me, was not like a peice of meat, or some weird anomoly. He looked at me, the way a father might look at his daughter. I could feel the caring in his eyes. I could feel that it was not sick, just as I could feel the sickness in the glares behind some of the other eyes.

I remember when it clicked. It was after a parent teacher conference. He told my mom how smart and how concerned he was about me. He went on and on to my parents about my potential, and his concerns about the path I was going down. I kept thinking “How does he know I am drowing?”, “how does he know that I want to die?”.

After that, I became determined to turn the bus that had become my life around. It was my 9th grade year. I quit letting people tease me, stopped laughing at their jokes and insinuations. I stopped acting like a sex object and instead starting acting like a girl who was going somewhere. I was inducted into national honor society the next year, president of my class, then president of the student council. I turned down the cheerleading gig and focused on my leadership skills. I left that small town, having risen from the rubble, with scholarships and accolades in hand. With my gang rape a distant memory.

Today I am a counselor, and hopefully am reliving this gift over and over again, in my work. The way his kindness has multiplied is a miracle of life and astounding to me. His attitude, his kindness, his recognition of me, taught me about my own stereotypes, and was the perfect irony for me to remember about all men. Miracles happen every day, and he was my miracle.

Union Life: Sitting the bench.

By: wavpeac Tuesday September 6, 2011 3:09 pm
"Bench" by ss2001 on flickr

"Bench" by ss2001 on flickr

I have written several diaries on union life. One in the dead of the winter when my husband was working long days in sub zero temps and afraid to complain of the cold. The other was written last summer, when he was working during a hot streak, when the foremen forgot to get water up to his floor for an entire day. Both times, my husband did not want to complain because he was afraid they might can him. As deplorable as these situations were, he was willing to suffer to keep his job.

In fact, my husband had broken his ankle years ago, a bad break where they had added screws to fix it. This last job required so much walking that one of the screws that was fixed in his bone and meant to be left there for life, worked its way out of his bone and was floating in his ankle. My husband of course, ignored this pain because he could not take a day off for fear that they would lay him off. Once his lay off had begun, he saw the doctor who told him he had never seen anything like it. My husband had been walking 9 to 10 miles a day. (there are lots of reasons for this and most had to do with the poorly organized working conditions). Now, we have fitness friends who run marathons and scoff at 9 to 10 miles a day. But, let me tell you, there is a big difference between walking 9 to 10 miles a day because you MUST, (not, oh it’s rainy today I’ll just train in the gym or walk less) consistently put in those miles every single day, five days a week, month after month, rain or shine, freezing temps or heat…and training for a few months to get ready for an event. This was his life every single day. And he barely ever complained about his ankle, he complained about frozen hands, and not enough water, but never mentioned the pain in his ankle.

Two Nuclear Power Plants Flooding in the Midwest.

By: wavpeac Monday June 20, 2011 12:47 pm

Last night, there was a two foot surge in river level at the Brownville Nuclear power plant just south of Omaha Nebraska. The plant came within inches of having to be shut down http://www.kctv5.com/news/28294414/detail.html It has now declared an “Unusual event at nuclear power plant”. At this time, both the Fort Calhoun and Brownville plants have declared “unusual event at nuclear plant”. The Brownville plant is currently producing 30% of the power for the area because the Calhoun plant had been shut down for refueling, and the Fort Calhoun plant is completely surrounded by water. The two nuclear plants augment production from the coal plants that produce a majority of power for the region. http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2078685,00.

The coal plants. Here is a picture of one of the coal plants sitting next to the river. Locals here can look at this picture and tell you that this plant is surrounded by water for now. For some reason, there has been very little reported about the coal plants despite the fact that they are facing the same type of flooding.
http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=North_Omaha_Station (coal plant before the flooding) Two of the coal plants that produce fuel for the Omaha area sit right next to the river. The area surrounding these coal plants are completely flooded. Parks nearby are closed as well as nearby roads. Two weeks ago on a sunday drive to view the rising water we were told by an employee in the coal plant that people were being sent home due to flooding. What’s interesting is that if you google information about flooding and the coal plants, there are no stories. Zero to report. If you find one, share it please. Here is the oppd website refuting rumors and calming fears about the nuclear plant but no mention is made of the production levels for the coal plants. http://www.oppd.com/AboutUs/22_007105

Secrets. There are rumors and reports of media black outs. There is no official information to report except that the Oppd web page denies these rumors. Conspiracy theorists have been on this and have put together some interesting reports. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IavTbBZx5vA Local media is refuting these rumors. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OyeGyrGYzNM In support of the idea that there is at least some secrecy going on, this is a report of a personal experience of my own. In a recent public gathering there was a woman present who had spent the day loading sandbags at one of our sewage plants. People were arguing about the fate of the city when she said “I work for this secret group. We aren’t allowed to talk about the work we are doing, but the sewage plants are getting water through the ground table. There are concerns about the infra structure. But there are plans in place. Everything will be fine. We aren’t allowed to talk about the work we are doing so I can’t say anymore”.

Worst case scenarios. We aren’t really talking publically about the worst case scenarios. They are telling people in low lying areas to be prepared for sudden water. But at the same time suggesting that there is nothing to fear. These reports are on the news every night. However, at least some engineers are concerned about the potential of dams or levees breaking. http://www.canetalk.com/2011/06/1307735956_1307735460.shtml. This is another story reporting the potential catastrophic effects of a dam break. http://rri.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/SaintLouisPostDispatch1.pdf.

There are even wilder stories about the media black out. http://nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/International/18-Jun-2011/US-orders-news-blackout-over-crippled-Nebraska-Nuclear-Plant-report While the validity of these reports are very questionable, sometimes the most compelling information comes from what is not being said or what is being said in absolute or black and white terms. “We don’t see any concerns around the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station,” Burke said at a briefing in Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle’s office. http://www.omaha.com/article/20110617/NEWS01/706179913 This report seems impossible. There are extremes at both ends of the reporting but common sense questions are not being asked or answered.

One of our terminals that disperses gasoline to outlets is also shut down. This gasoline dispersement center is located next to the airport and likely supplies gasoline to area gas stations and the planes at Eppley. The flooding is now complicationg our ability to get gasoline. There are other routes and it’s not an immediate emergency. But everything is more difficult. There is a dominos effect to this type of crises. One problem leads to the next. How can we say that everything is fine? How can we know for sure that we are safe?

http://www.icis.com/Articles/2011/06/17/9470757/flooding-along-us-missouri-river-disrupts-energy-logistics-grain.html

As the flood waters, rise this means that 4 out of 5 of the power plants are fighting flood water. The extent of production is difficult to ascertain. Who is still producing fuel? And what happens if the Brownville station has to shut down? News reports from before the flood state that the coal plants each have a two month stockpile of coal. This flood is expected to last well into August. And one homeowner on the news last night reported that he was told that he won’t be able to get into his home until at least October or November. We have no real way to know how long this will last. Isn’t that the truth?

Add the weather. The Omaha area is expecting severe storms this afternoon and tonight. http://www.spc.noaa.gov/products/outlook/ Torrential rains occurred upstream and over night. We are expecting more. This only adds to the problem at hand. We have no way to know what the next few months will bring in regard to the weather. Certainly we could dry out. But it is just as possible that we would hit a rainy period and severe weather where rain bursts of several inches at a time can occur. How can anyone report at this point that everything is fine. Or that everything is safe? This seems as wild a claim as the ones suggesting imminent disaster. Right now, everything is fine, but perhaps we should be planning for the domino effect taking place.

What seems evident to me, is that our ability to generate electricity might be impacted severely if the waters continue to rise. Will we be able to produce fuel through the hot days of summer? As we become more surrounded by water, will we be able to evacuate in the case of tornados or other emergencies. We have a torcon rating of 7 out of 10 for today as reported by the weather channel. http://www.weather.com/weather/today/Omaha+NE+68127 Do we have specific plans for this type of crises given the flood waters and closed roads. What is happening to our sewage system? What will happen if the plants cannot continue to operate? Are the nuclear plants safe in the event of one of the dams bursting? And do we have contingency plans for evacuating people under these current conditions? Are we facing an energy production crises, when 4 out of 5 of our plants are compromised due to flooding? What would happen if the Brownville plant has to shut down?

If you wipe away the hysterical reporting and the conspiracy theories, it still seems there is plenty of valid reason for alarm. We should be planning, not waiting to react to some unforeseen problem. We know what the potential problems are, we need to be able to discuss them and plan together for solving them. This situation is a crises and federal funding has been requested. However, we are not discussing plans for worst case scenarios. It seems authoritarian to stop the discussion or to prevent planning on the fear that people will panic. Panic will occur if we don’t start talking about the real problems and their severity.

This economy and a father that would not give up.

By: wavpeac Sunday June 19, 2011 1:48 pm

Today is father’s day. A day when we think about what it means to be a
dad. A day when we reflect on how our lives have been impacted by our
fathers. A day when we recognize what an important contribution
father’s make to the development of a human being.

So today, I am thinking about the most important lessons learned from
my father’s example. And also, awareness about some of the things I
didn’t learn or understand right away. New awarenesses about the way I
rebelled or misinterpreted or could not “see” reality.

One of the first things I think of when I think about my father is that
he is not a quitter. This characteristic of his, comes to me almost
weekly as I battle through life’s tribulations. My dad does not give
up. He didn’t give up on his marriage and family at a time when divorce
was becoming an easier solution. I had to play out a divorce in my life
before I could really understand the devastation of it. I had to live
it, to learn that my father’s commitment to his marriage and his family
was one of the most valiant demonstrations of love that I have ever
been able to witness. Today I get it. But it has taken me years to
understand the full impact of his example in my life. I had to
experience my own mistakes in this area before I could fully appreciate
his gift to me.

My Dad doesn’t give up. He didn’t give up when the company he began
working for as a teenager, was faced with demise in the form of murder.
The company he began working in as a mail clerk, the one that taught
him how to lead and to become a man, was killed by someone else. A form
of betrayel deep and fatal. But my dad did not give up. He found
another job, he started over. For some, this would have been a fatal
blow. This difficulty might have knocked a different man off his feet,
never to return to employment. Not my dad. He got up, swallowed his
pride, and hit the interview trail. He put in another decade or so, no
longer as “top dog” but as a follower. No longer as a boss but as “the
bossed”. And as I watched him do this, my respect for him grew as my
own repertoire of survival skills increased. Oh, no, successful living
is not about a title. I learned that successful living was about dreams
and about the lessons we leave on the hearts of the ones we love.

My father doesn’t quit. Even as he lost his health insurance after losing his career at the age of 54. With a diagnosis of chronic lung disease, so bad that they thought the only solution might be a lung transplant, my dad was the first of the people in my life to suffer royally at the hands of our current health care crises. It dawned on us, that as he was looking for a job, and health care, that his life depended on finding it. In order to make my dad more employable my mom and dad paid for high risk insurance. They felt if they covered it themselves he would be more employable. It was a hard time for my parents. My mother who had lived a life of leasure for several years went to work. My Dad found a new job. And the two of them paid extra for health insurance. We knew that a lung transplant would not be covered. We knew then, back 15 years ago, that our health care system was NOT the best in the world. But my Dad threw himself over every hurdle. The doctors were amazed at my fathers continued vitality despite his low oxygen levels. They joked that perhaps he had gills somewhere hidden that were processing oxygen outside of his lungs.

My Dad never gives up. When my dad’s employment situation was so
strongly altered by the illegal behavior of someone else, it affected
my parents finances and I feared it would affect their dreams. I feared
it would affect their ability to accomplish their retirement goals or
to live a life worth living. I was so silly to have these fears. My
parents, working together in a marriage that bickered and looked almost
impossible to survive at least one point in my child’s eyes, together
accomplished an amazing feat. The goal was to have a place by a big
beautiful lake. Not just any lake. Not for my dad. It had to be a
Superior lake. It had to be THE most superior lake. My dad fell in love
with this lake, just as my mother did. And together these two people
worked to complete their goals. Today, I see how amazing it is, that my
father allowed himself to love “her” lake. Today I see that a real man
doesn’t need a woman to follow him. Sometimes a real man follows a
woman and loves what she loves. I am grateful that my father did this.
I am grateful that my father fell in love with “her” lake and that
today that lake belongs to both of them and to all of us children.

My father never gives up. It started with an outhouse and a garage.
Some people would laugh at this idea. Some people would consider such a
rustic beginning beneath them. But not my father, not my parents
together. They had a vision, that began in their early fifties, and
through sacrifice and hard work, they were able to create a comfortable
“home” out of a garage and an outhouse. This is the essence of my mom
and dad. This is the essence of their cooperation with each other. This
would not happen without a dad who bends, flexes and dreams alongside
my mother. This would not happen without cooperation and coordination.
Real leaders, real power rests in our ability to be flexible. My father
demonstrated throughout life his ability to lead and to follow and to
know which is best when. He demonstrated that you do what works and you
don’t pack up your toys and go home. You work together. You argue it
out. You give in when you must. You stand firm when it counts. This is
what my father taught me.

My father never gives up. As time goes by, I watch him breath. Each
breath harder for him. His determination haunts me as I imagine the
weight of his continued battle with chronic lung disease. It started
with a diagnosis years ago, one that had us talking about lung
transplants and altered dreams. I am not certain where or how my
father’s dreams have changed because of this disease. But I know that
with this disease, he lost his life time job, found a new one, began
building a home on the shores of a lake, and undertook the goal of
making it to his 50th anniversary. In marking his 50th anniversary he
was able to bring his family on an enchanting and amazing journey. He
traveled it all with us, beside us. Despite this disease. He walked
slower. He rested on occasion, but he never gave up on the dream. He
continues in his path of “never giving up”. I know in my heart that
this quality of his cannot out live him. And yet, it does. It is in my
heart, beating me through each day. It is in his example and all the
stories of his perserverance that will stay with me, and with my
children. It’s the never ending spirit of “the father” that guides us
through life.

Dad, I just want to say thank you for never giving up. I want to thank
you for all the lessons you have role modeled for me. It was never your
words, though I appreciated your attention to me in giving them, your
love for me, as you spoke them. No, it continues to be about what you
do, how you continue to live your life each day…that’s what lives on
in me, that’s what makes you special in my life. It’s how you live and
breathe each moment that continues to teach me today. That’s what
speaks to me louder than any voice could ever be.

Wanted: Emotional Intelligence

By: wavpeac Sunday March 13, 2011 8:32 am

Name calling. Intimidation. Coercion. King of the castle. Using money. Minimize, deny and blame. Treating people as objects. The silent treatment, withdrawing our participation and affection. Lying. These concepts are taken from the Duluth model of domestic violence, but are not meant to endorse all of those principles. The use of the power wheel is effective in recognizing power and control where it exists in others as well as ourselves. http://theduluthmodel.org/wheelgallery.php

These behaviors are the essence of power and control. These behaviors are the very behaviors that republicans like Reagan, (when he called the soviet union the “evil empire” and called Jimmy Carter “weak”) Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Michelle Bachman utilize to disempower truth. These behaviors are effective for the short term. However, inherent in the use of these behaviors is the power struggle that will result. Power struggles rob us of energy and keep us focused on the “process” over truth. This is part of why this technique is so effective. It robs those engaged from forward motion. It paralyzes people. It keeps them stuck running in circles fighting for power over each other. The essence of power and control is to extend control beyond the truth of any given situation. It is to engage in imbalance and to go against the nature or truth of a situation. We as human beings are naturally brought to peace when we can accept a truth, face a reality and find a way to live with it effectively. This brings peace. When we accept a truth and interact with it in a way that brings harmony and effectiveness, we feel at peace.

Right now, the world is engaged in a battle for truth. The truth is a river running through life…and not one of us, has ownership of it. In fact truth emerges in our interactions with one and other. We learn in our relationship with others. This is part of the purpose of our “social” nature. We act as mirrors for each other.

When we get into skirmishes about power…it is an invariant, that we lose focus on the problem at hand. That our focus on control, often takes our attention from the problem to be solved and shifts it to defending and attacking rather than seeking truth, acceptance and solution. This use of resources, is expensive not only in regard to natural resources, money and lives, but also in regard to the problem we seek to solve. When we engage in the behaviors of control, we most likely will not resolve the true problem at hand. We will be diverted in our attention until the problem resolves on it’s own or we stumble across the truth we needed in the first place. Make no mistake about this, though, it is a circuitous route, to solving the problem at hand. What we seek to control is often not representative of the true problem at hand, but rather a symptom that we have judged and want to control.

Over the last few years, skirmishes between progressives have increased. We are engaged in a chaotic time. We are all seeking truth and good orderly direction. The problem is that we don’t always know for sure what the truth is. We don’t have a sure fire way to distinguish opinion from fact. In my humble opinion, these skirmishes often rob us of time and power. In this case, the power referred to is that which resides with truth. The unknowable, the unattainable, but nevertheless valid truth that runs through all of life. We can argue philosophically whether truth exists at all outside of ourselves, but that discussion is not the heart of my point. My point is that there are effective ways to engage in the pursuit for truth. And there are less effective ways. . There are some things we do that have relatively little impact on our ability to find truth and balance.

Right now, with the corporate world seeking to control our lives and encroaching more and more on our way of life, it is has never been more important to seek the most efficient and effective forms of influence and communication. This diary seeks to lay out a standard for this pursuit. That we as progressives pay attention, as Martin Luther King Jr, did not only to the message we seek to convey but also to the method. That we as progressives will be more effective in speaking truth to abuse of power, if we make an effort not to discredit ourselves and our message by our “method” of delivery. When the process becomes louder than the message it interfers with the message. When the message and process are one…this is the most powerful form of communication. Powerful because it represents truth in word and action.

In order for us to avoid the pitfalls of abuse of power and control, we must become aware of it’s components, as listed above. We must be able to see these dynamics in those abusing it, and see it in our own behaviors where we may have internalized these behaviors. One of the characteristics of abuse of power is that it has an escalating quality. When a power struggle erupts there is almost always an escalation of energy and focus. When power is abusive it has the quality of a “pressure cooker”. When seeking truth is the pinnacle instead of power over truth, when effectiveness and problems solving is in use, this “pressure cooker” resolves. Energy may remain intensely focused but it flows. It is not contained. It’s when we find the river, when we ride this flow of truth, that we are most likely to be effective and to influence a solution.

Power and control ignited slavery. A pressure cooker began. We as a people felt uncomfortable, we argued about it’s righteousness. We finally stumbled on a truth that was bigger than our opinions and that truth set us free.

If progressives were to seek this kind of power. The power of truth. If we made a commitment to seek the river of truth that runs with us, and to avoid skirmishes over power that zap of us strength and focus, we would absolutely overcome the imbalance occuring now.

Up above, the components of power and control are listed. Become familiar. See these patterns of behavior and recognize them, when you see it in others, and see it in yourself acceptance is key. These behaviors of counter productive. They engage a power struggle and detract from our mission and message. The idea is not to judge or seek power over those who use it, but to accept it and it’s consequences. It doesn’t matter who is using these techniques…do in in retaliation or for any reason, detracts from truth.

If we don’t use power and control what do we do to be effective? What do we do in order to influence? What works? The most powerful and effective skills require practice. These skills are difficult to learn in a place like America where power and control is the most influential dynamic. How do I know this is a influential dynamic? Look at our military. Look at the resources we use to maintain it. The number of people involved in the maintenance of control over others. Look at our police forces, our jails. Look at the fact that parents are loathe to give up on corporal punishment to control our children. This river of power and control also runs through our lives and may be responsible for many of the consequences we are experiencing today.

Here are skills that contribute to the power of truth, minimize the negative consequences of abuse of control, and increase the positive consequences of seeking truth.

1) acceptance of what is
2) a nonjudgmental stance
3) the pursuit of effectiveness
4) 100% accountability
5) emotion regulation

When these skills are practiced, effectiveness increases. These are the antithesis to power and control. These skills help us find validity, they help us ban together effectively, they help us utilize and resolve conflicts, and finally help us to use our emotions as energy toward a well thought out and wise goal. This helps us guard against and quickly recover from impulsive engagements of power and control. This is the art of self awareness. If we together make a commitment in regard to the process, the way in which we agree to achieve our goals, it is my thesis that we will increase our effectiveness exponentially. Martin Luther King Jr. was effective not just by what he said, but by how he did it. It was his process that increased his power. He made a personal commitment to follow certain principles, for him Jesus was likely his role model. This made his message powerful. The same was witnessed as we watched Egypt. They held to the principle to avoid power and control, and while they engaged in this together, and stayed focused not only on the message but also the process, the inherent power was accessed.

What about a series of diaries to discuss emotional intelligence and and to develop a “process” by which progressives engage to increase our effectiveness. Are we interested in learning about how to practice a truly non judgmental stance, in how to practice acceptance , in how to become 100% accountable in our own lives, in the art of emotion regulation? Is there anyone out there interested in learning how to streamline our movement and increase our effectiveness in this way. Does anyone else see the potential of a movement that holds integrity above all else?