As you know, I have recently written more about “Being Present.” Why? Perhaps it’s my age, or I might simply be becoming wiser. I’m grateful for my clarity, so either reason is acceptable. Currently, what I have to say about Present-ness is merely a fact, not an opinion open for discussion.

Being Present is a foundation that supports all else. If not present, you are in the past, the future, or unconscious. While the past is gone and can be retrieved if needed, it’s still gone. The future is not ours to know. We can guess, calculate, and surmise, but we cannot see the future with any certainty. Even science and technology produce more questions than answers.

So, if my words carry weight, it’s because the truth is truth. NOW is where you need to be. Why? So that you can hear and try to understand what is taking place or being said. That the only way to confirm another is to have listened to them and worked to understand them. But, and this is a big “but,” it falls to you to tell them what you heard and understood in your own words.

Being present with another is what makes it possible to nurture relationships. It is the only way to create a “level” playing field where respect, regard, and even love can take place. Truth is hard but necessary. If not present with another, both suffer.

Speak, I hear your words—Is this what you are saying?—To confirm a must.


Another Animal Story

Animals teach us if we pay attention. We teach them because they DO pay attention. We all need to be in the present (as our animals are) if we are to learn and grow (I mean growth in terms of mental and emotional development). So, the story on this page is just one of many amazing responses to the moment our animals have demonstrated.

This happened in the 50s when Lenette was planting flowers on the front lawn. Brutus, our brilliant Beagle, was relaxing with her when a German Shepherd from down the street attacked Brutus. The attack was entirely unprovoked, but we knew the dog and were aware of its aggressive behavior with other dogs. The dog’s owners had already paid hefty fines for its past attacks. As a result, the animal was always supposed to be leashed and under control. Yet, on this occasion, he wasn’t.

Heidi was in the backyard and, on hearing the commotion, leaped our six ft. fences to defend Brutus. This is not what the attacking dog wanted. He feared Heidi and usually avoided our house when running free. But there is more. Cleo, our very productive kitten producer, also cleared the fence on Heidi’s tail and joined the battle. It was not pretty. While Heidi was ferociously tearing into the aggressive dog, it got worse for him when Cleo flew onto his head and began ripping at his eyes.

I quickly got our animals off the dog, but the damage was done. The fight left the attacker in bad shape, and the defeated bully retreated home, where his owners were forced to put it to sleep that day.

Our three animals were led into the backyard, acting as if nothing untoward had occurred. Brutus suffered some minor bleeding but otherwise was fine. As I’ve written, Heidi, Brutus, and Cleo were very close. The next story will be about their special relationship.

Animals give love-Please give this back in good ways

I Need a volunteer

I’ve retired from giving workshops to those in power and their Inner Circle. Travel, not the work and people I so cared for, was the problem. It began to take too much out of me. But I repeat, I loved the people, the work I did with them, and my studies that I also enjoyed. Pure and simple, it was the hassle and tension of travel that did me in. 

So, I became a “writer.” Well, maybe not exactly a writer, but someone that needed to stay mentally active. Trust me. Writing is an excellent answer to my problem. I love the challenge of saying something meaningful on a single brief page. I think I’ve come to understand the process.

In any case, I would like to publish my papers, or at least give some effort to this. Two books thus far, so why not another? Steve Zuckerman (we owe our blog and running it to him) is all for this, but the papers desperately need to be placed in a proper category before he can proceed with the publishing stuff. AND WHY THIS PAPER.

Is there someone out there who would enjoy putting these, mostly one-page papers, together in their proper categories? This person will find papers on Power, Leadership, Genuine Dialogue, Communication, Relationships, Inner Circle, other related stuff, animals, and who remembers what? It might be fun or? 

If it matters? This person will be noted in the book as a co-editor. So, if interested, please let me know, and we’ll talk about the best way to go about doing this.

Thank you for even considering this project. 


Are you Present?

The following anecdote is fiction but an excellent story to reflect on (apologies if you’ve heard it before) the importance of Being Present.

The town is flooding, and this man is on his roof, trying to avoid the rushing water right below him. A police boat comes by and wants to take him off the roof. He turns the offer down and says, “G-d will save me.” A few minutes later, an emergency boat comes by to pick him up. He again turns them down and yells, “G-d will save me.” The emergency crew has much work to do and continues looking for people to save.

Three more emergency boats come by, all shouting to the man to go with them. He turns them all down, screaming, “G-d will save me.” The water rises and sweeps him away to his death. He is now facing St. Peter as angry as possible, and he screams out, “I am a true believer in G-d, and I’m angry as hell. Why didn’t G-d save me?” St Peter calmly answered, “G-d sent several boats and people to save you, and you turned them all down.”

Apparently, the man drowned because he was unwilling to listen or understand that G-d did come to save him several times. Did his exercise of “free will” make those efforts unrecognizable to him? Was he expecting the almighty to make a personal appearance?

I have heard that G-d speaks in every possible way, through the sounds of wind, seas, the Mountains, forest, desert, and every existing language. And that HE/SHE speaks to mankind all the time. But we have also been given “Free Will.” And if so, all is explainable. G-d does communicate to us, but are we present? Do we hear, do we listen, do we understand? All this demands that we be present.

Are you present now? Do you hear what is spoken? It is your message.


On Aging—Because I Am Here

I’ve finished retelling the serendipitous events that led to our finding, buying, and creating Camp Shasta and Heidi’s remarkable feat. Also, I discovered something about me that is both pleasing and surprising. My memories are so vivid and sharp that I clearly see myself, others, and our interactions—all in color! So, I ask why at my age, is this clarity available to me? I search for reasons and think I know why. And, if what I write is helpful to my readers, that’s a good thing.

When growing up, I was told I was a good listener. Apparently, I was fully present when with family and friends. I know this was true when I worked with children and my own staff. Later with adults, professionals, and entrepreneurs, I was a mentor, ultimately teaching about leadership and the power of being powerful and how these can easily become the crux of communication problems between people. As a teacher and leader, I had to be PRESENT! In fact, when with others, there was no other way.

Being present means “being in the moment.” Seeing, hearing, and trying to understand what is said or done. No judgment, NO AGREEMENT. NO PRETENDING BUT BEING THERE AND LISTENING OR WITNESSING. I did this well enough to recall important (and serendipitous) events, even to this day. It is why I now say that being “PRESENT” may be the most essential demand made on a human.

What follows if one is not PRESENT with others as they lead, teach, and supposedly listen? Nothing of significance, to be sure. How is it possible to understand, confirm and relate to another if not present? BACK THEN, I WAS PRESENT FOR THE OTHER. TODAY I AM PRESENT FOR MYSELF. Is it possible I can recall the past so clearly because I was fully engaged in the moment?


“SERENDIPITY” A Life Out of My Control—Part 6

And now, for those who might have missed my post last year, I’d like to share the story of our neighbor’s husky and Heidi (our big German Shepherd).

In the spring before we opened the first year of camp, Lenette, myself, Heidi, and Brutus ( a smallish beagle) decided to walk our forest to Richardson Creek. We constantly walked our land so we could be as familiar as possible with it all. On this day, I brought with me a large machete.

The forest was dark and beautiful, and our walk was enjoyable. The dogs ran in all directions, checking out every rock and tree. But a real danger was waiting for the dogs. I saw the husky crouched in the forest, so I grabbed Brutus. In that same instant, the husky leaped and tore Brutus from my arms. I picked up my fallen machete and hit him with the flat side of the blade. It bounced off the husky and flew 10 ft away from me.

I looked for a rock or piece of wood to get him to drop Brutus, who was hanging limp in his jaws. That was when Heidi rushed the husky from the side, striking him so hard that he released Brutus. I grabbed Brutus, who was like a limp rag in my hands. I thought he was dead and looked at what was now happening in front of Lenette and me.

The two dogs circled each other, instantly bringing to mind the battle between Buck and the wolfpack leader in “Call of the Wild.” That, of course, was a movie, but this was real, and life or death was intended for one or the other of these two magnificent animals. There wasn’t anything I could do at the moment. It wasn’t possible to get between them or try to hit the husky with a rock or something. All we could do was watch.

The husky lunged at Heidi, but she parried his forward rush and instantly went for his neck. She lifted him off the ground in a single motion and threw him onto the ground with her jaws gripping his neck. It was obvious she was in this fight to kill or be killed. Fearing the worst, I grabbed Heidi’s tail and screamed at her to let go. She hesitated and glanced at me as if to say, “are you sure?” before finally releasing him.

The defeated husky remained on his back, feet in the air. He had given up. We watched as he slowly turned on his stomach and, just as slowly, crawled back into the forest. Heidi watched until the husky was entirely out of sight, alert for any aggressive move. She turned to Brutus, who I was still holding, and licked him. Brutus leaped from my arms and began kissing Heidi in pure joy.

“SERENDIPITY” A Life Out of My Control—Part 5

During our first summer, we used our neighbor’s lake to teach swimming and just enjoy. However, we had the ideal site in our meadow to build our own lake and unlimited spring water to fill it and keep it full. Amazing how fortunate we were to have an ideal location with plenty of land and water to create our own lake. Serendipity??

A dam was built with a spillway and a 12-inch pipe outlet. I intended in the future to build our own water Pelton wheel generator with enough capacity to supply all the electricity camp would ever need. From our lake downhill to Richardson Creek was a 500 ft drop. On and in the lake, we taught swimming, sailing, canoeing, kayaking, and even water ballet. Never to be forgotten was a big raft we placed in the center of the Lake. What fun a raft and water can be.

The neighbor who allowed us to use his lake was also the man who sold us the land for camp. Carl Parks was a successful Chippo Logger and a professional bear and mountain lion hunter. He had a large Alaskan Husky he would take on his hunting expeditions. Whenever this dog broke free of his leash, he hunted the dogs of his few neighbors. It was a serious problem. The husky killed several dogs, which our neighbor paid dearly for. So he kept the husky chained because he realized his dog would be shot on sight by those who lost their dogs.

IN THE NEXT POST—What happened when our dogs encountered the husky on our walk to Richardson Creek.

“SERENDIPITY” A Life Out of My Control—Part 4

It didn’t take long to get to Redding and the lumber company office. I went to the front desk, announced my name, and was told the boss will see me. Obviously, they expected someone to visit. I was that someone.

He sat behind a big desk and, without any hesitation, said, “You don’t belong in this country. We’ll buy your property for more than you paid for it.” No greeting, no introductions, just his declaration that “I don’t belong.” With this, he reached into his desk, pulled a .45, and laid it on the desk. Again he said, “You really do not belong up here. Much better off staying in LA.”

I stood up, leaned over the desk, placed my face about 6″ from his, said GO F— YOURSELF,” and walked out of the office.

I drove back to our property, put a chain around the gate post, pulled the gate out of the ground, and broke off the lock. I dragged the gate to our property line, dug two holes, and installed our new gate. For all I know, it’s still there.

More “Serendipity”: A major lumber company owned the land that abutted our south property line. The spring and the road touched our property, but they were on their property. Close to us, but theirs. I contacted them to do some “horse trading,” and they were wide open to the idea.

Then two miracles occurred: I proposed to trade 10 acres of virgin forest on our Northwest Corner, far from what was to become camp, to the big lumber company. They agreed, and in return for the 10 acres, they gave us 15 acres, including the spring and road! And, oh yes—They also purchased the other lumber company in Redding that told me “I didn’t belong” and wanted our land. Case closed and all in our favor. Serendipity? Of course!

So, Camp Shasta came to be and opened in the summer of 1960. The staff and campers built the cabins for five double bunks. Each group was free to do anything they wanted with their summer homes. And, of course, they did.



“SERENDIPITY” A Life Out of My Control—Part 3

Before we began talking money in earnest, I got off the horse to drink from a miracle spring. The crystal-clear water pouring out of rocks tasted like water beyond any water I have ever tasted, and it was not a trickle but a flow. He told me this was ancient water coming through veins deep in the earth from majestic Mt. Shasta, which I could see to the North.

He asked me if I could handle $6000. I almost passed out thinking he meant per month. That was the end of my crazy dreams and hopes. He saw my face and shoulders hang in sadness and said, “total!” I reached for his hand, and we shook, and both of us broke into big smiles. “This price will allow me to log the forest this winter,” he added.

Okay,” I replied, not knowing anything about logging or the logging world—I would own this magnificent land, which is what drove me at that moment. But before we sealed the deal, I said, “your freedom to log is only for this coming winter because we will be building out camp so we can open in 1960.” Surprisingly, he agreed, and this would be in the sales agreement.

Think about the following Serendipitous Event: It rained well over 100 inches that winter, and because of mud and the difficulty of using machinery, he could not log a twig. Camp Shasta remained untouched. But there’s more. The land was a prime property for logging as well as an ideal location for a logging camp. After the purchase was published, a logging company in Redding placed a big gate and lock at the entrance of our one-mile dirt road into camp. I was locked out of my land. The sign on the gate gave the address in Redding, and that’s where I immediately headed.

In my following paper, I’ll tell you about my meeting with the owner of the logging company. Sy

“SERENDIPITY” A Life Out of My Control—Part 2

Here we were, asking the drunk standing outside in the pouring rain how to get to Redding. He gave me directions and, as an afterthought, he asked, “Why are you here?”

These four words changed our lives. I said we were here looking for land to buy for a kid’s camp. He immediately responded, “Go see —– he owns lots of forest land. He lives up that road you just passed. His house is the only one on the road.”

After traveling nearly 700 miles looking for a miracle and being there anyway, We drove away from the drunk and went searching for the house he described. So, on a pitch black night, in a rainstorm, on the words of a drunk, we went seeking without the slightest idea what we would find. Yet, we did find the house exactly where he said it would be. I Knocked on the door, and a lady greeted us. She heard my story and invited us in to wait for her husband.

About ½ hour later, he returned home. In every respect imaginable, he was a wilderness man with huge hands that swallowed mine as we shook. He heard me out as I explained what we were looking for, and he replied he had 80 aces right up the hill that might work for me.

“Do you ride a horse?” he asked. “We can see the land tomorrow. The road is an ancient dirt road that will be too muddy to drive with this rain.”

Lenette and I had obligations with the LA Board of Education, so I asked him if we could meet the following weekend. That next weekend it was still raining, but he had horses saddled and waiting for us, nevertheless. So, away we went across a large meadow, creek, and through a virgin forest to the meadow and woodlands that would eventually become camp. When I saw the meadow and surrounding forest, I almost cried because I just knew it was OUR land. The seller could tell from my behavior that I wanted to buy the property. Since now that the cat was out of the bag, it appeared I had done myself no favors. I had to assume the negotiations to follow would be very one-sided.