Sy’s Final Paper

I knew it was coming, and finally, it’s happened. My eyesight has failed to the extent that I can no longer sit at the computer and write. I now find myself in the position that all good leaders one day find themselves. I wanted to write one final paper, so I asked a good friend to help. The decision to move into the final phase of hospice was mine, and mine alone. I miss Lenette so much. I have spent time expressing my thoughts on aging, and to say that it has been a challenge would be a tremendous understatement. As long as I could write and my mind worked, I could fill enough of my day to manage my loneliness. Of course, my friends who always come to visit have helped. But now, I have come to the end of my road. And that is okay. 

I have spent a lifetime working as a leader, teaching, lecturing, and writing about leadership, yet I wonder if I ever wrote about the most important act any good leader can and must do. They must recognize and acknowledge when they can no longer lead and, in fact, must be led. Still, this is only the first part of a leader’s last act. The second part is to find someone who can be the leader’s leader. Whether by design, providence, or perhaps dumb luck, I have done this, and I am so grateful. Perhaps Lenette had a hand in this. Her talent for planning, in the short and long term, has never ceased to amaze me. No doubt she was the caboose that pushed our train down the tracks. 

I can honestly say that I have accomplished all I set out to do in this life and then some. I know that Lenette and I have left our prints on our world and that what was most important to us will live on.  I am ready to be reunited with the love of my life. Thanks to all of you who have been there.

Until we meet again.


The Future of the Blog

With great sadness, I regret to inform you that Sy Ogulnick peacefully left this world on the morning of May 3rd.

He felt strongly that his words were a large part of his legacy, as was his desire to share them. In accordance with his wishes, the blog will remain online for the foreseeable future in hopes that those following Sy’s essays will comment and contribute their own thoughts on the subjects he considered important.

While Sy will be sorely missed, the blog will preserve his presence so his observations on power, leadership, relationships, and aging will continue to inspire and inform.


Steve Zuckerman, site administrator.

Where I’m At

My eyes are going. My hearing is going, yet my mind is fine. I feel trapped; still, how long I will live is one of the questions to which there are no answers. Macular degeneration has only one outcome, so another unknown is how soon I will be completely blind. Thankfully, hearing is less of a problem since my hearing aids help.

When people say that aging is a blessing, I must strongly disagree. That, and similar sentiments, are expressed by those who haven’t reached their eighties.  As I approach 98, I will continue to live as long as my mind is what it is and my remarkable friends stay with me and care for me as they do. I will not let any of them down. 

On the positive side, going to bed is still a wonderful experience, and I sleep well. My food intake is down but adequate, and all else is functioning normally. 

I feel good about all that is taking place around me. I write, do poetry, and write haikus each day. While that makes the day for me, I thrive with my visitors.

I might be getting a bigger screen for my writing. I hope it will make a difference.  I can also get a microphone and speak instead of typing. I spent my working life talking and teaching, not writing so that accommodation would take me back to my old and natural ways.  My love to you all.

Right now, I am here—and I will stay for a while—until I am not

What Your Visits Mean To Me

Today, Ron and his son flew in for a few hours to visit me. Mark was here in the morning, and Steve came by in the afternoon, as did Ian. What does this mean to me?

I see and feel it as an act of love. I do not take any visit for granted. I see them as invaluable gifts to me, ones I so appreciate.

Being alone is not my cup of tea. I can’t read, the TV does not work for me, and the computer (my creative tool) has its limits, but I fill the afternoon using it to create.

So, if you can, come on over and spend some time with me. We have stories to share, and I promise to be a good listener. I have been told that is one of my better qualities and an essential part of what I have taught many over the years.

It is interesting that not hearing well forces me to concentrate more than ever on the person I am with. Since I love being with the company, that is a plus.

Thanks for listening to me.

A visit means lots—Easy to understand why—Thanks for sharing time

Where I’m At

While I have no desire to speak for others about their experiences with aging, I can only tell you what I am undergoing.

I am 97, which means I am seriously old. Only a few reach this age, so allow me to share some of what life is like for me. Every night, I go to bed early, usually around 7 PM.  Due to macular degeneration, I can’t see, nor can I hear, likely a result of my being in the military, but otherwise, I am fine. 

Yet my mind is perfectly sound. I am amazed at my recall and ability to write poetry, haiku, and essays.  In particular, the essays regarding power and relationships.

After 97 years, I know how and why relationships and power can fail and how and why they can succeed. Both are at the root of the human psyche and the making of family. 

I also know that we have the capacity to grow and to change our behavior. I know this to be a reality, and the work I have done for almost 80 years is my proof. 

At the risk of repeating myself, allow me to restate the overarching problem as I see it.  If people seek agreement instead of discussion, the conversation is fated to fail. If agreement is necessary for either party, the entire point of dialogue is moot.

People must be able to share their feelings and be heard without demanding agreement; otherwise, authentic communication is impossible.  

The rule is simple. Agreement must be set aside to allow for honest dialogue. After all, what game does not have rules that must be followed? 

I Write Because I Must

I am writing because I must. It is what I do.

When I worked with children, that was what I did.

When I worked with professionals and entrepreneurs, I discovered power and its abuse as the major problem at work and at home.

In my study of power, I met leadership as its seat.

Only in the last few years did I understand the leader of leaders concept and that those within an Inner circle are not leaders without the leader of leaders.

It took years for me to realize and understand that the leader of leaders is destined to assume that role because they are driven to build organizations and communities.

Most people choose to become leaders of themselves, as leaders of leaders are rare because others are essential to them, and Society exists because of them.


I write because I feel I must.

That my writing contributes to my not turning to dust.

And there are times that I search for what to say.

The problem is wanting my writing to be me each day.

To make nothing up, to keep what I write my story and real.

I write what I know; I write what I feel.

Serendipity, I love the word and what it means.

And not a moment of my life is made of dreams.

Experiences galore I have had, and most have taught.

Not one, I would hope. Has gone for naught.

About My Project

Since Lenette entered my life, I’ve written many Poems on a variety of subjects over the last 70-plus years. I am not going to stop now. So, let me share what I have in mind. 

I will write poetry about the more meaningful phases of my life. Examples abound: Purple Sage, Camp Shasta, The Children’s Campus, Children Villages, The Youth Hotel, Lake Tahoe Tennis Club, and various research projects and papers on historic and innovative programs for youth.

This represents 27 years of work followed by 40 years as a teacher, student, and workshop leader. I know there are many stories I’ve already told, but I have a few more still to tell.  Using a poetic format, I look forward to the effort.

As of now, I envision the entire poetry book broken into sections: Lenette, work, and theory sections. As for the Lenette section, I may have written as many as a few hundred poems. So, I plan to ask the people who, for the last two years, helped her live and die to pick a poem from the past they would like to see in the book.

This process may take some time as there are many to read, but this is one way to honor my loving friends who have earned this. Without them, we were helpless. 

So, here I am, planning a creative project that may take a year or maybe more. Regardless, I operate day to day, and what will come will come.

The future offers me a platform where I will continue to be creative, loving to my friends, and always grateful to my Lenette. And when the present ends? So be it!


I write about people and how they live their lives.

I will write about how we make things better and how we thrive.

I will write about how to be your own voice.

I will write about how to make your own choice.

To be yourself in whatever you do.

To be yourself and always true.

The book will show each of us how to be our own person.

To be confident in what we do and to be certain.

More About My Visit With Lenette

I shared the story about Lenette’s visit and wrote of no voice.  I must clarify that her voice spoke to me, but it came from everywhere in my apartment. It was her, and I was awake.

Her message was clear, and I felt her love and concern. She wants me to be okay with her being gone. She wants me to be productive, to write, to keep my mind active, and to relate. I will listen to her. 

Is what I believe happened for real? I don’t know and may never know, but I felt it was, and I do feel better about her being gone and where I am at.

I know I must write, and I do this every day. I want to write about her, us, and the stuff we did together. We did many things and did not wait for more money or events to give us the freedom to travel, adventure, and explore; we simply went for it and grew from all of it.

Sometimes, serendipity ran our lives. There is no question that the spiritual events we experienced in Mexico influenced our lives. There is no explanation for many of the events that happened to us. Even the loss of a child in strange ways made Camp Shasta a reality and brought Jeff into our lives.

Then, a talk I gave to a group of professionals about their staff problems led to a 40-year journey of learning, teaching, and meeting many remarkable people. And, of course, more adventures for Lenette and me. What more is there?


What happened or did not to me?

Lenette came and spoke to set me free.

She told me she was fine and happy and that I need to be okay.

That I need to be like this each day.

I searched my room to find and see her.

She was not there, but I heard her for sure.

She was in every room at the same time.

She spoke, and I listened to every line.

I was awake, no sleeping for sure. 

To hear her speak was loving and pure.

Her being in my room was an amazing thing.I heard her, but did not see her, to this I cling.   


Time flies by, or it crawls so slowly we wonder why.

Time is not the problem it is what we do or try.

There are times when I write that words come and go.

When they are hard to find, I write slow.

I search for them, knowing what I want.

There are times when it’s the font.

I enjoy the fun I have with words.

It’s like looking at the sky and all the birds.

There are so many of every kind.

Birds and words both blow my mind.

What matters are the words I use to mean what I say.

If they do, this will make my day.

About Us

Writing about Lenette brings many emotions and memories; nevertheless, I wish to share a story about us. 

When I first saw Lenette, and before we even spoke, I felt a feeling I had never felt before. I felt that we were one.  Years later, when I did my workshops, people actually thought SyandLenette was who I was—one person, not two.

Two years ago, I wanted to die. I felt I was just hanging around, and this was a feeling I hated. 

I also had breathing problems and was on oxygen 24/7. I wanted to die, and Lenette and I talked about this. We rarely avoided talking about issues like this. So, we decided to see our GP and discuss this issue with her.

The GP literally jumped at me and said I had no right to make the decision of life and death because Lenette and I were one. She had never come across two people who were one to the degree she saw us as. 

That night, I saw Lenette needing me and realized I could not leave her but must be here… for her.

The following day, my need for oxygen disappeared, and all my feelings about dying were gone. I only felt that I could not leave Lenette. It was that clear. 

I’m sorry to say that Lenette suffered terribly over her last few months. I could do nothing for her except to die for her in hopes that my own death would spare her. Yet I could not.

What does one do when there is nothing they can do? That was my dilemma as I watched Lenette fight ghosts, beating the air with her fists. I was as helpless as she was.

Time and circumstances created this reality. Still, when the time came for Lenette to pass, I could not help her. I could not fight her battles, nor could I die for her. Now, I still live for her.  

People say I am better today, and maybe I am, but if I allow it, I still see her fighting. I should be fighting, not her.

The look on her face after she passed told me she was okay now. I wanted that so badly for her.


Lenette sent me a message when she passed.

In shock and a state of loss, I now know it was not her last.

That the look on her face was not an accident.

She was saying to me that she was content.

It was time for her to say goodbye and so she did.

And the look she had was full of love and nothing was hid.

A look I will cherish to my final day. How I love her? What more can I say. 


I miss Lenette today; nothing new. I miss her every day.

I miss her smile as well as the words she might say.

I am so grateful for the look she left me with.

Her leaving me was much too swift. 

And yet I know it was time for her to go. 

The pain she suffered was much too slow.

She fought to go, and she fought to stay. 

It was me why she lived each day.

I look forward to one day being with her. 

I know she is there, waiting for sure.

In time we will be together as we always were. One not two, still being me and her.