Help, Don’t Hurt

October 15, 2018

There are so many times that people are passionate about an issue but their rantings only hurt the situation rather than helping it. We have a word in Jewish, Kvetching! And it is the equivalent of bitching, moaning and complaining consistently. So whenever we open our mouths to state our opinion, I’d like to suggest that we make constructive criticism meant to help rather than hurt all concerned.

In this article, I’d like to commend Queen Latifah for her recent commercial extolling the benefits of a good higher education. Apparently, as she explains, she’s achieved great success in life, but without the added benefit of a college education. From the sound of it, she feels and conveys in this ad, that with such advanced study, she may have had a better life, an easier time moving forward, or made more money earlier on. Now, of course, she’s well known as a prominent acting/singing personality and is making the big money as they say. But inwardly she still feels that a degree would be beneficial. To me, establishing all these benefits for her community and others at large is a great service to her listeners.helpful

I would also like to contrast her approach with the radio announcer typically on at the same morning slot. I listen to a morning radio show that caters to a predominantly black audience. The announcer of this show has a segment that he calls “a Racial Observation” during which time he refers to events of the day that point to the divide between the black vs. the white community. Perhaps a white policeman arrested a black kid and used force or a woman was assaulted and the perpetrator not prosecuted….in any case the situations are always where he is pointing to racial tensions in this country. During other parts of this show, people are making fun of multiple baby mammas and kids going home to empty houses, being raised by single Moms who don’t know where the father of their children are…. The point here is that neither accountability nor responsibility is discussed, rather just how awful things are and how unfair the system is to his group.

Well I’m a senior and there are a lot of things that are unfair to me too, but rather than kvetch, I’d rather give charity to help others and send positive energy to law makers to make it better for all concerned. In the end, I believe I will be taken care of by the powers to be because I live a heart centered life guided by my faith.

So back to Queen Latifah:. I salute her effort to extol the virtues of a higher education because it is the pathway to getting a good job and making something of one’s self. I had to work hard for my degree and in the end it has served me well throughout my career. So doing what it takes to go to school at night or by day if possible is a great way to be accountable and take responsibility for one’s life. So the next time you have something to say, keep it helpful and not hurtful. Comments are always welcome.

 


Letting Go:Moving Through Life Phases

July 9, 2018

We’ve all heard about the mental benefits of cleaning out closets. The old adage goes something like this: cleaning out drawers, closets or the garage is symbolic for letting go of junk in our minds as well as the literal letting go of physical junk in the process. Well, the other day, I went through lots of papers in a large filing cabinet that contained my work history. In going through these files, I threw out lots of papers related to my work history including performance duties and reviews; which, was essentially let go of my working career as I move into retirement.

lifephasesAs I went through each file, I spent a moment thinking about that particular job, what my accomplishments were, and how it went overall in that particular environment. So in those few moments, I relieved a number of working years. I’ve working for the federal government, for the telecommunications industry and later, back for the government as a contractor. So, one could say that I’ve done it all, figuratively of course; at least from the viewpoint of the Washington, DC corporate working world. I’ve had all different types of managers that ran the gamut from pretty good to pretty awful! Some of my work involved teams that went well with just a few that didn’t. For the most part, my work history was a continuum that spanned forty years and went from lower level secretarial to mid-level management. Overall, I feel good about what I’ve done over all these years and I’m really ready to let someone else stand in the limelight. I’ve had my day as they say.

I officially ended my working career with the end of 2017, but there is always leftover stuff to do. I began to discontinue my websites recently and decided rather than shutting them down completely to downsize one and just keep the domain name of the other. Letting go entirely is difficult. There is so much history in setting up a business (which I did once I left corporate America in 2008). For the past 10 years, I’ve operated an intuitive life coaching business that interacted and hopefully helped my hundreds of clients (300+). But as I let go of these papers, I was really letting go of all of this.

There is more to it than merely saying one will stop working. The ego has a hold on who we are. Is it ok for me to not be the title that I held whether it is project manager, minister, Reiki master, life coach, etc.? In some respects, I will never stop coaching since anyone that gets near me and has a problem gets the benefit of my advice… albeit for free; or my Reiki energy if they have a hurt/pain; or my ear if they have a problem. Thus, even though I’m no longer in the paid category of the workforce, I’m still at it, just as a volunteer. For me now, I feel that the best title is Starteacher Joanne, a title given to me by my spiritual adviser many years ago because I’m an old soul with much innate wisdom which I love to share.

Although I’ve let go of my papers and my working career, I will continue to be Starteacher Joanne, a Lightworker. Please follow me at Joanne’s Starteacher Blog


Yes Kiddies, there was communication before the INTERNET!

June 13, 2018

Ok, my apologies to all those readers who are old enough to remember life before the INTERNET. How did we ever do it? When I’m out and about and see people sitting next to one another and texting, streaming and listening to music non-stop I wonder if everyone has forgotten how to carry on a conversation. So have we progressed in our abilities to communicate with all this communications? There are so many viewpoints to tackle; I’ll just take one today.

InternetI not only remember the days before the Internet, but I was actively involved in the messaging industry that attempted to address the issues of connecting disparate companies around the globe. There was a huge technical problem at the time. Every telecom company operated with their own data format necessitating a data format conversion if any one company could send messages to any other company; thus much of message was intra-company. So there were lots of people using a single provider such as AOL, MCI, etc. and anyone within that company could send messages to each other. Wow, but sending a message to someone not using that carrier was tricky and once accomplished, expensive. There was a service fee to connect. If you had friends among several different carriers, you had to pay this fee for each different one. It would be like paying tolls for using all the different toll roads to reach the homes of friends living in different locales in the metropolitan DC area. This is the best example I can provide to understand how it was back then.

At the time, I was working for the US Government, in the branch called the General Services Administration or GSA for short. I participated in meetings with “standards bodies” both for US standards as well as travelling to Europe for the standards being developed there as well. The goal of both these regional bodies was to foster compliance to a common data format so that all this conversion would be a thing of the past. There was beginning to be some success of standards taking hold when I came into the picture around 1995 timeframe. It was then that I had the idea of asking industry to cooperate even further for a test. Why not move faster towards standards?

At one such standards meeting at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), I raised my hand and asked the question “why are companies still using the 1984 standard when there is a 1988 standard?” (since it was already almost 1996!). And the leader of the meeting replied, “Great question, so you can lead the working group to find out!” Although I protested indicating that I was a mere government worker and not a recognized leader of any industry group, I was non-the-less appointed to chairperson of a committee to investigate industry cooperation. I took my new position seriously and without going into all the details, the result was a Challenge to industry which took hold slowly but gathered cooperation as predicted. I had a vision of how I felt it should work, that included the messaging part, a directory to store the names/address data fields and eventually a security component to protect the sender/receiver relationship.

The effort was picked up by the Electronic Messaging Association first in the US and then the European version of this same organization with what I would call great success having 14 countries and over 100 people involved. I have some great stories of both challenges and comradery that occurred over the 18 months that we all worked together to conduct testing with a standards-based data format which different companies would send back and forth. By the time that we were into testing, I moved from my government position to a telecom company – British Telecom that had a local office very close to me. It was lovely that their North American office was only 3 miles away, but I also spent a fair amount of time at their office just outside of London.

The point of this story is that real cooperation was required and real communication. We had many emails, conference calls and meetings all over the US and at different places in Europe. As the leader of the group, I did my best to foster teamwork, give recognition and appreciation and to plan group activities such as special dinners at wonderful local restaurants (with everyone paying their own way, but organizing was more than half the battle when one wants to eat in a lovely place in the outskirts of Brussels).

In the end, we were successful at moving international standards forward, but the Internet made it all a moot point. Like the wind, the Internet came blowing in with little security and me worrying how it would all play out. I was not an initial supporter nor an early adopter, but now I text, stream and play music off my phone like everyone else. I enjoy all the benefits that the Internet has, but I also have had my fair share of the issues that not having good security built in has brought to us all. But for this article, the emphasis is on cooperation and communication.

So when I see families sitting at the dinner table and are all texting and not talking, I smile at myself and mumble – yes, it’s nice that we’re all so interconnected now. But let’s do remember to talk to one another, take our friendships and relationships seriously and cherish the real times that we have together. Even while working to connect our world, my rag tag group of volunteers from the telecom industry would probably tell you that their days on our working group, as hard as they worked, was one of the best in their life. Why? Because of the comradery, the cooperation and the communication!

 


Stand by your beliefs and you will be supported

May 1, 2018

Recently I watched a TV evangelist talk at great length about how God promises us that we can be ten times better if we just “believe”. He then went on to give examples of how this can come to be; one of these stories was of Daniel, a well-known central figure in the Bible.

According to Good News Translation/The American Bible Society, the following passage tells the shortened version of the story of a young man who along with others of his day stood by their beliefs and came out not only momentarily victorious, but generally many times stronger.

The Young Men at Nebuchadnezzar’s Court
1 In the third year that Jehoiakim was king of Judah, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia attacked Jerusalem and surrounded the city. 2 The Lord let him capture King Jehoiakim and seize some of the Temple treasures. He took some prisoners back with him to the temple of his gods in Babylon, and put the captured treasures in the temple storerooms.

 

3 The king ordered Ashpenaz, his chief official, to select from among the Israelite exiles some young men of the royal family and of the noble families. 4 They had to be handsome, intelligent, well-trained, quick to learn, and free from physical defects, so that they would be qualified to serve in the royal court. Ashpenaz was to teach them to read and write the Babylonian language. 5 The king also gave orders that every day they were to be given the same food and wine as the members of the royal court. After three years of this training they were to appear before the king. 6 Among those chosen were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, all of whom were from the tribe of Judah. 7 The chief official gave them new names: Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

8 Daniel made up his mind not to let himself become ritually unclean by eating the food and drinking the wine of the royal court, so he asked Ashpenaz to help him, 9 and God made Ashpenaz sympathetic to Daniel. 10 Ashpenaz, however, was afraid of the king, so he said to Daniel, “The king has decided what you are to eat and drink, and if you don’t look as fit as the other young men, he may kill me.”

11 So Daniel went to the guard whom Ashpenaz had placed in charge of him and his three friends. 12 “Test us for ten days,” he said. “Give us vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then compare us with the young men who are eating the food of the royal court, and base your decision on how we look.”

14 He agreed to let them try it for ten days. 15 When the time was up, they looked healthier and stronger than all those who had been eating the royal food. 16 So from then on the guard let them continue to eat vegetables instead of what the king provided.

17 God gave the four young men knowledge and skill in literature and philosophy. In addition, he gave Daniel skill in interpreting visions and dreams.

18 At the end of the three years set by the king, Ashpenaz took all the young men to Nebuchadnezzar. 19 The king talked with them all, and Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah impressed him more than any of the others. So they became members of the king’s court. 20 No matter what question the king asked or what problem he raised, these four knew ten times more than any fortuneteller or magician in his whole kingdom. 21 Daniel remained at the royal court until Cyrus, the emperor of Persia, conquered Babylonia.

Daniel

The point of the story is that Daniel and his comrades chose what they believed to be the correct behavior regardless of what others thought. In this case, the heavier food would indeed slow them down while a lighter diet kept their heads clearer and facilitated higher performance. In the end, Daniel rose up through the ranks as he aged and eventually became the leader of the city, while his comrades were also appropriately rewarded for their service.

What does all this mean for you or me? Well, it means that even under duress, if we take the higher ground, we will be supported by the positive forces in nature. Recently, I had 3 nasty things happen to me during a very short period of time. In just one week, a pipe burst flooding the lower level of my home; while the house was being repaired I was very sick with the flu; then at the end of the week when I finally went out my car was hit on the highway during a flash rain storm by an exploding semi-truck tire. It was almost as if it all was meant to happen to show me that I could live through lots of duress. Although each of these things were quite distressing, I kept my perspective and believed that it was all part of the divine plan. In fact, I believed that there was some lesson I was meant to learn. Perhaps that God had saved me – each time. I could have been away when the pipe burst; I could have gotten ill during a vacation rather than a week when I had to be home anyway; and the exploding tire hitting the car could have killed me. So I had lots to be grateful for. I continued to believe and stay positive.

The next month I left for a 2-week vacation and everything went very well… or at least the challenges I experienced were all kept under control. I had a wonderful time. I went on the trip believing that I had had my “three” bad things happen to me so that nothing else would happen this year! It was certainly one way to look at it! I believed and I was supported. We always have the choice to make daily how we will believe, and whether we will take the higher road when under duress.  

 


Our Soul Life

June 19, 2013

Several weeks ago, I attended a conference at the ARE (Association for Research and Enlightenment) in Virginia Beach on Our Soul Life. It concerned all aspects of the soul as in our current lifetime, past lifetimes, as well as how the soul moves through from one lifetime to another.

heavenIt was an enlightening conference, although this material is relatively familiar to me, since the speakers provided new and interesting information. The presentations included notable, scientific, and what I normally call left-brain (well-grounded) individuals; one such speaker was a neurosurgeon, Eben  Alexander, who had an experience of dying and describes his experience into the afterlife in his book entitled, Proof of Heaven. During his approximately 20 minutes in a near death state, Dr. Alexander experienced what he called heaven prior to being revived.  In his talk, he described experiencing levels of consciousness that included an ameba-like experience all the way up to sensing an all knowing and totally love being.

The next speaker was Suzanne Giesemann, a Navy officer who became spiritually receptive after the trauma of losing her stepdaughter to a freak lightning strike. She studied for in the UK to become a medium to make contact with loved ones that have crossed over and now helps others with their grief by such contact. She emphasized that not all psychics are mediums.

And yet another speaker, Greg Underberger detailed what his clinical experience with clients moving into a hypnotic state where they experienced contact with others in a “life between lives” state found to be extremely healing. Greg showed a video of a woman, who had suffered extreme trauma at the loss of a loved one, enter a hypnotic state only to advance into a state that appeared to transcend this dimension wherein she spoke with her dearly departed and in so doing, gained tremendous grief relief. She described the realm she was experiencing with eyes closed yet, to the audience, appeared to be interacting with other souls somewhere else. It was very interesting to watch and probably even more so for the one on stage.

All of the speakers together led the audience to wonder and perhaps take in the concept of life after death in a new, more believable way. I, for one, already believe in the continuation of the soul. Yet, to hear these stories described in such detail was exhilarating anyway. I’m sure that my summary doesn’t do the conference justice; that said, I hope that if you were on the edge, you might give the concepts further consideration.

On a more personal note, I’ve had my own experiences with after death communication when my father used me as a channel to convey messages to my Mom that she was not supposed to follow after him. The series of messages was healing, revealing, scary and soul developing for all those involved in both planes of existence. (The Circle of Life-A Journey Through Grief to Understanding) For more, see http://www.josanpress.com/store.html


Sometimes Community Finds Us

March 25, 2013

There are times to be alone and times to be with others and we all have our tolerances of both ends of this spectrum of need to be or not to be with others. That said, being social has been shown to be a necessary part of a healthy lifestyle and those that are part of a social network, e.g. community tend to live longer. OK  so much for the technicalities of the thought. If you are divorced and lose your network in the process as I did, finding a new one at middle age can be a challenge. And, if your family lives on the other side of the country or retires and moves away, the situation can be even more challenging.

FriendsThus establishing community is something that one must go after. Like many things, unless you work in a place where you can make friends that you see outside of work, and thus have a built in community, you have to consciously want to open yourself up to the opportunity to engage. As I’ve just mentioned, the workplace is one environment conducive for establishing relationships but it can be fraught with difficulties if “friends” becomes more than just friends. But that’s a different discussion.

Another good environment is one’s place of worship or natural locations of social interchange such as church, synagogue groups, or local Meetups.

A couple weeks ago I decided to attend a gathering at a local church even though I’m not Christian. The program included a potluck dinner, time for social interchange but also focused on seeing a movie about wild horses followed by a discussion session.  I found the location easily and joined a table that wasn’t yet full. As it turned out, the group at this particular table was mostly from Peru, Bolivia and Columbia as well as a few regulars from the U.S. Having been to Peru, I had some small talk to offer to the conversation although I did feel a little awkward not knowing anyone. They were, however, very welcoming and did their best to be inclusive. I found their attitude quite impressive. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been so surprised, after all, it was a church group and by its very nature, their perspective is to offer “love” to all. It was a nice experience for me after having gone to some other more secular groups that were more catty where I felt left out. Age, background, etc. weren’t important to these people. It was quite refreshing.

Then I had a really big surprise. When one said her birthday was coming up on March 25, I said that it was my birthday also! Next, one of the ladies said they (those that knew each other) were planning to gather at a local restaurant to celebrate the birthday and I was invited. I was overwhelmed! I barely knew these people and here they were inviting me to a party!

Well, true to form, I got a call a few days later from Rosie inviting me to a gathering on Sat. March 23 at 6:30 pm. The timing was good since I was attending an ARE Program on Soul Growth at the Unity Church which was finished at 4:30. By the time I left the program and ran a few errands I was able to go to the restaurant right on time and meet the group for dinner. All in all there were 14 people with 3 birthday people including myself. I came to learn that this group tried to get together monthly and used birthdays as a way to do it. It was a lovely evening including having “Happy Birthday” sung to me both in English and in Spanish.

I wish I could say that my own family did as much for me when I went to visit the week before. Yes, we did go out to dinner once while I was there but it lasted an hour (family drama was involved). So without dwelling on the details, I’ll just say that the old adage that we can’t pick our families (unless you’re talking at the soul level) but we can pick our friends certainly applies. And in this situation, community certainly found me!


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