the Blog

Prepping for Bread Classes

just to let you know:  we are going to be teaching a bread class, ie, growing the barley, threshing it, grinding it, baking it and finally eating it!!!! Saturday, I went to the garden to put it to bed finally, and you can see the marigolds there and the green stuff, I think that was celery…and this is December!  I decided to keep the lettuce there, in order to go back and have some for the table; , and i put the fall leaves in the plot, so that when the rains came it will be easy to turn into the soil, and I put the cover back on they can decompose.   My hope is to be able to get some more compost to turn into the soil, and have it be really ready for the barley, which i am planning to plant mid-to late March, depending on the weather.   So keep checking back, and I will be putting up posts of our progress!

Just before cleaning it up

Just before cleaning it up

Notes on the Equalizing Affect of the Social Business Model

"This is Hard, I Don't Want To Give Up, Either, Guess I Found My Niche!"

We are still planning for the Stephanie Black Life and Debt event, but for March, in the mean time, we are working on a few wonderful opportunities; that came our way.

One,  we are in the early stages of discussions toward  providing for  For the Good, Inc, needed cultural anthropological research for a project they are seeking funding for.  We are also providing consulting services to ArtWest Alliance, in gathering demographic data of West Utica.    All this for free, here in Utica, and a strategy we are using, and were using to enter into community undertakings that help us move forward in our mission’s mandate to conduct cultural anthropological research and provide household management skills in the form of the Prodigal Daughter Course.

We are developing a few products, to help us with Cash Flow issues, and seeking funding from new sources, but we are still going to have to revise and implement our literary review journal submission contest, because we really need to generate content for the journal, but that is in the about 6 or 8 mos time.

It’s chaotic here, in an ordered sense. Still trying to find partners who understand the social business model in a village and grassroots sense, in a non-competitive manner,  it’s the only way to do this when you are a person who is receiving social services and trying to create something that can help social services operate better.  This is what I’m told Bridges out of Poverty is about, and I admit that I am of that population that have used social services while I have dealt with having been a survivour of abuse on many levels..  Creating something from nothing when you are poor, and and coming from absolutely nothing in this very competitive environmnet is very difficult at this time, especially when people’s unconcious classisms factor in to the socio-professional environment from which one seeks to provide services.  Many Non-profit organizations are fighting for their life right now, because they are experiencing decrease in their cash flows due to decrease in fund giving, due to the recession, a reality of the non-profit world that social business can adapt to much better, because they can design strategies that can help them weather the inevitable downturns of an economy, without being a casualty of tthe governmental or a foundation’s  economy because suddenly they are perceived as burdens.

I think that the social business model can transform non profits and other classic non-religious social services organizations, if only in the sense that those on services who know at times what best they need to help themselves and other  heal from past traumatic events that impede their ability to take care of themselves  and become productive members of society begin to use the social business model to address issues of poverty, economic and social disparity, and public health issues, in terms of access, and lifestyle as it relates to their own real world experiences.  It can become a way to equalize relationships between those who provide social services and those who receive or who have received social services.  In a way, the non-profit sector has taken on the aura of the owning class in how they provide social services, and often times it is not pleasant having to go and receive services….and poor people who don’t want to be dependent on social services to survive and who want to be self-sufficient,  I think that there is a need for high-functioning folks on public assistance to take charge of their lives and create the programs they know they need and that they know can help others like themselves.

In this manner, we can limit the negative impacts of this dysfunctional aspect of the  non-profit sector of society, where it is also, in this context,  a matter of who you know, and what core values you are willing to sacrifice to succeed, to make your vision a reality.  You shouldn’t have to know anybody in order to succeed with a good idea, nor should you  have to sacrifice your core values to do so, or limit who you are in the totality of your being to do so, either.   Personally, I like the independence from fundraising that the Social Business Model offers poor entrepreneurs like myself, who have been conditioned to depend on public funds and fundraising to make ends meet.  It is so demoralizing. If I can develop a product that can help others and at the same time help myself…what is wrong with that…isn’t that the core message of the Golden Rule which states that we should Love Others as We Love Ourselves?  I think the Social Business Model models the Golden Rule very well.  And should be studied and copied as a way to create a social economy that is not only not dysfunctional, but one that is inclusion and celebrates the competencies that all people, those struggling with economic, social, and emotional, and mental and physical disabilities bring to the table, in their efforts to be self-sufficient, communally minded and proactively productive members of society.

Look for the first edition of our column the ekonomos life in the UticaPhoenix.net, this coming Friday, it explains why we had to postpone the Life and Debt fundraiser event, but I will post here in more detail about that as well.  Keep the Faith, because in the end, Faith is all you will Have!

 

 

 

Gracious Stephanie Black

Most Holy Theotokos, Pray To God For Us

People like myself who have been severly abused, and told that they were never going to amount to much in life, have severe ways of dealing with misfortune in their lives…they usually take a cataclysmic view–many resort to suicidal ideation, or other forms of self-destructive behaviours because the cataclysmic event to them is proof that they are worthless individuals.

This is just one of the issues The HeartSoul Ekonomia Institute want to address in our class the Prodigal Daughter Course.  We want people to understand that misfortune in life is just an opportunity to grow beyound one’s comfort level, to gain some humility, and to learn to succeed in any environment…it is also about defining success in how one responds to adversity.

You feel that life has betrayed you, A unexpected death in the family of a close and cherished family member,  Things don’t go as planned, it seems sometimes everyone has turned against you…a familiar story.  Instead of turning to drugs,  sex, or other activities that help you numb out by inducing trance-like states within you, The HeartSoul Ekonomia Institute through its course the Prodigal Daughter course want to help people tap into a healthy support systems that can help them weather the inevitable bumps that life has to offer.

Call a trusted friend or family member who is able to listen to you.  There are low cost therapy options that one can go to in your communities, sometimes seeing a therapist can cost as low as 5.00.  Exercise, and go ahead and buy your favorite butter pecan ice cream with apple pie.  And the two slices of pizza before hand, and see a feel good movie, such as It’s A Wonderful Life.  They don’t make ’em like that anymore–and get yourself a Andrew Sisters movie, and if that don’t get your spirits up—I don’t know what will—it’s fun, it’s makes you laugh, it shifts your mood from the spiral of dispair. Do it….and get a friend to join you.

For me also, I find that it is good to read scripture, the Psalms and to pray….it helps…crying helps, and venting a little helps—but what ever you do, don’t succumb to the thoughts that tell you you are are worthless, and that this latest setback is proof,  that it is better to be be dead than alive.  Humiliation will pass, and God always gives new beginnings, everyday is a new beginning, and count your blessings, and you will see how much He has given to you already!!!!  Just know that there is more of that to come.  Another good spiritual strategy, is to ask for strength to endure, and not merely endure. And yet another spiritual practice is to be honest with yourself, and look at the mistakes you’ve made and learn from them for the next time. Do not beat yourself up, just say, hey I could have done that differently–and look at how triggers in that situation caused you to reason and act in a way, not in your best interest.  This is important for people who come from emotionally adverse environments.  It is important to breathe, ask assistance from God, and assess with a sober mind all aspects of the challenge before you.  Remember, every good and experienced project management planner  knows, that no project is without its challenges, and need for adjustments…Its just the way it goes, stay within cost, on time, and within scope—well, no project does that perfectly…you plan for risks, for funds, for personnel, and the unseen happens.  It’s life, pick up your head and learn from it, do what you need to do to complete it ethically, and move on.

I want to say thanks so much to Stephanie Black for hanging in there with us, as we deal with the contingencies that have popped up here in Utica.

 

 

Today’s Post  Scripture Reading:

1Corinthians 12:27-31 — 1Corinthians 13:1-8

Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

 

Holy Wonderworkers and Unmercenaries Cosmas and Damian
Matthew 10:1-1 — Matthew 10:5-8

And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.

These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.

 

Fracking, HydroFracking, Drilling and NordStream

Yesterday I attended a Hydro-Fracking Panel Discussion at Utica College, and it was a good thing. I don’t have time to talk about this in depth, but my conclusion is this.  We don’t need to sell our natural gas to Europe, we need to be able to use it ourselves.  Russia is already a supplier through their underwater pipeline NordStream. Europe is their backyard.  We have our own supply, why sell it over seas, and in the process ruin our environment and health, and nonetheless, it we can use it more cheaply here, locally.  I think municipalities should take control of the resources in their area; the only reason we are pursuing a strategy of selling to Canadian and Norwegian firms so they can sell to Europe is this pursuit of wealth, instead of pursuit of quality of life.

We have a glut of natural gas in the United States, (in the world as well) and we should see that as a blessing, and use it to fuel our local economies in a responsible manner.  More on this, later.  My conclusion:  Focus on creating strong economic families, not on pursuing wealth in order to buy  bombs!  The best defense of a nation is the health of its families’ economies! Why go to war over who gets what markets, if there is glut of gas  all over the world?

 

 

Faith and the Unique Selling Proposition in Social Services

Logo for the Prodigal Daughter Course

“I’m Not Perfect Nor an Expert. But I Know What I’m Talking About”.
And That is A Commitment To Adhering to The Greatest Good that A Human Can Offer to God–Love Thy Neighbour”

Father David Lubliner used to say to me that when we pray to God for something, you have to participate in the accomplishment or fulfillment of the prayer with effort….but sometimes I feel like I’ve tried every sure thing that would help to make this Institute a reality, and it feels as though I’m just stuck.

A few months ago, I had a talk with a friend about how I wanted the classes taught. How I didn’t want to come off as if I was better than the people in the room, how I wanted to really honour their inherent intelligence within their heart, mind and soul. I wanted to honour, the uniqueness of the ways they solve their problems—and help them to honour their own thinking strategies…I never wanted to feel as though I would be threatened by any bit of wisdom hard won through the trials and tribulations of their lives that they shared with me in the classroom process. I want most of all to give them the space to explore, share and implement that wisdom in the classroom and in their daily lives.

From living in Group homes and orphanages I learnt that the people who surrender to love, in spite of the injustice and cruelty around them, those are the people who survive with their human dignity intact. The people who make an inner choice never to go hard and mean as a way to survive the hard and mean things they’ve encountered in life—those are the people with the most gentle souls, with the sparkle in their eyes that defy death’s sting, they are the St. Seraphim Sarov’s walking amongst us who have found a way to inner peace.

Tonight I went to see Cory  Booker speak who reminded the audience that we have free will, and that we make choices every moment. And how we decide to respond to stress, and challenges, that is what exposes who you really are – to people and to self;  but as Father David, emphasises, this falleness is not who were made to be–so one shouldn’t get too depressed about the weaknesses we encounter in ourselves–but to remember that we are made in the image of God.  God’s confidence in us, in that we are made in His image, confers a type of expectation of what He knows we can be. So our confidence in His confidence in us reflects that knowledge that God, who is our Creator, has of us. His love is conditional, unconditionally, and he does not despise us when we Fall, but we greatly disappoint Him when we refuse to get up again.

So just what is my Unique Selling Position—well, I’m not perfect, and I’m not an expert, but I have walked the paths of being a traumatized, sexually  and physically abused child, who thought that everyone around her thought it better that that she was dead, and if she ever did aspire to anything, such as wanting to manifest the gifts God gave to her to manifest, that it was their duty to assure her that she was deluded, and just who did she think she was anyway, , to dream to be a human being, rather than to be treated worse than an animal that was whipped, molested, and belittled, till she became afraid to even be alive, much less to thrive. And in their twisted service to the flawed and false, ego serving, twin gods of humanistic humanity, ie,  rationality and logic, they learned to sabotage every good step I tried to make in order to become human, really human, and to give myself permission to even to live.

Now I say in my recovery of self through Christ Jesus, a line from the Psalter, “I shall not die but live, and I shall tell of the works of the Lord”. I say it with meaning, and with fear, lest i slip into the pit of suicidal stinkin’ thinkin–into the delusion that I do not matter.  Yes, I believed that I did not matter,  not even to God.  But this is changing.  Nonetheless, I sometimes find myself struggling with this demonic sense of worthlessness–Some demons do not give up—but I’m learning to remember who actually is Lord.

My uniques selling position is simply this, I am not perfect, nor am I an expert, but I do know what I am talking about.  I have been brought down into the pit, and every day, by the Grace of God, I am digging myself out of it—learning new ways of thinking, learning new ways to structure my life, and learning new ways to, yes, order my household, and sharing that with anyone who wants to learn what I’ve learned and am learning.

That is what I told my friend when we had our very heated and loud argument in the Barnes and Noble at Commerce Mall in New Hartford—and through the hardships that I’ve come across Im realising I do not want to do that walk of pretending I have it all together—because I don’t.  I still struggle, every day, to not to fall into the stink of despair, its prison which leads ultimately to the extinguishing of hope, inevitably to death. See, the demons do not give up, they are with you every step of the way, trying to make you fall off the ladder.  The demons’ track and stalk you, and when you start to get on your feet again they befriend you with little flattering remarks that are actually  consolations to your ego, and then they trip you up.  They are persistant whether they are flattering you or hounding you.  There was a woman where I worked at an  assisted living facility, who followed me after i quit after she pushed me because I had learnt to not to be afraid of her, ( i was implementing strategies that my new Orthodox Christian friends have taught me) and when she found out where I was working, took a job at my new place of work, just so she could continue to harass me.  They say the reason why the devil showed his face to Jesus when he was in the desert, was because there were no people around for him to work through. We got to love the people, but hate the demon that is influencing them.  How to do that—I’m still learning–the key is relying on God, and not on one’s own wisdom or strength.

But getting back to the subject at hand: I want to be dependable, I want to be reliable, I want to be competent, and I want t have compassion, I want to be meek, and I want to be pure in heart. I want to be what I profess to be, a Christian, even when I fall in front of others, and they judge me and say–some Christian she is, I want the freedom to Fall, and the humility to get up again, even when I’m slandered and abused by false convictions—That is the path, and each time this happens, perhaps I fall or slip a half rung on the ladder, but I don’t fall off-. I understand now that falling off is not getting up again, I have the courage, meekness, patience and humility to get up again. This falling and getting up again, it is a type of martyrdom, a witness to the brokeness of our beings and God’s unfathomable love for us.

So that is my Unique Selling Position: “I’m not perfect. But I know what I’m talking about”. Because I know I’m not perfect, I will never dishonour a student in my class. Because I know what I’m talking about, I will do my best to help any student in my class to be the best human being that she can be within the parameters of her unique personality.  And God will do the rest.

SCRIPTURAL READING THAT INSPIRED THIS POST

2Corinthians 9:6-11

    But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever. Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;) Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.

 

 

After the Sermon, Christ Helped the Fishermen, Peter, James and John

Luke 5:1-11

    And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret, And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship. Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken: And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.

Mom, Mental Disabilities and Life

christina's world, wyeth

Is Schizophrenia a mental disability, or is it a psycho-social, emotive and cognitive response to trauma? I was taught to think of it in the latter terminology, and it has helped me get to a place of developing a compassionate criteria in getting to know my mother, who was recently diagnosed with colon cancer, and is refusing treatment. I really don’t know her, but everyone who looks at a photograph I have of her, smiles, and their smiles are genuine and warm–and they can’t get over how young and youthful she seems.

And in truth, she seems like a very wise child, with an orphan’s resiliancy and approach to life that has her three plus one daughters marvelling at her survival skills, even though those same survival skills seem at times excessively narcissitic and selfish, but someone, anyone of us, is able to assist her at some time in her many crisis events, mostly dealing with the electric bill or the phone bill.

My mom’s way of dealing with her recent diagnosis is to deny, deny, deny. And if that fails, stare malignantly at anybody trying to convince her that undergoing treatment will be a good thing. At the last resort, walk out of the doctor’s office in the middle of the consultation, feigning a bathroom break, and into the mall, and tell the youngest (who is actually the only hands on person in this event)-that she doesn’t want to talk about it-and threaten to walk away, embarrassing her in front of a few hundred folks.

My youngest sister is used to dealing with being embarrassed. She has a child who has been diagnosed with autism. She doesn’t like to talk about it, but at times has let it slip that she has to put her guard up dealing with the exuberant enthusiasm the child has for meeting strangers in public places, and the resulting awkwardness. (Yes, I know autistic children are supposed to be withdrawn and hard to communicate with–but you have to know my sister to understand how she might be able to draw this child out of her shell).

Through it all, I’m amazed at how the three of us have handled this latest event in our lives. The thing of it is, we three involved in the discussion on caring for my mom are not fighting, or rather, there are very short little snarkies that we don’t allow to get out of control. I feel that all of us in our own way are learning to rely on God, to see us and our mom through this. But we are not the only ones. As I speak, acquaintances of mine are undergoing or have just finished undergoing surgery for either cancer or back issues. The back issue is also intense–dealing with the fusing of some bones! My best friend, who was once my therapist, this past year, just survived two bouts of cancer. A priest’s wife I know recently gave birth to a beautiful baby, only to find out that her body is riddled with an aggressive form of cancer. It’s either cancer or back pain, or Parkinson’s or sumthin!!!!

Did I mention the God word? These days, practicing one’s Faith can become a liability, as I am currently experiencing now–on top of it all, I’m creating the HeartSoul Ekonomia Institute. But I realise that even this challenge to my desire to practice my Faith, is a form of chastening, and cleansing, and a way to deepen the Faith in God. Since I come from a background of being abused this harassment by my landlord,  is very difficult for me to bear–but today I saw some rainbows. And as I walked into an odds and ends antique store, I found an unopen cassette tape of Andre Segovia’s, my former classical guitar teacher Patricio Contrero’s former teacher. And I was able to get it for only $1.00. I guess the rainbows was a way that God was showing me that I’m not alone and I hope that my friends undergoing their private ‘cleansings’ recognize those moments where God is showing them that they are not alone, either.

Some of us have some risk management protection, and some of us did not–The financial burden of these trials will also tax our Faith in God, who exhorts us that we are more precious than the swallows, and yet not one swallow falls without His knowing. God is concerned with how we fall, whether we fall down on our knees in grace, or whether we become embittered and distrustful. It is easy for me to succomb to the latter state—however, I’m finally learning not to tread that path–that no matter what my risk management umbrella-whether I have a stash, a place, or insurance–nothing covers us as God does. In prayer, and supplication, we implore His mercy, and in response–He grants our deepest desires.

“Take therefore no thought for the morrow:  for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.  Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof”.

Matt 6:34

The 17th of August is a national holiday in Guinea, Africa.  In 1977, It was the day where women,  who generate income from their homes by trading, selling at the market, and working small businesses from their homes,  successfully protested the market police in Guinea and laws there that prohibited private trade.

Slava Bogu.