Newsletter 13: What happened to January? And February?

The only way I can start this newsletter is to offer my deepest apology to everyone for being so late with this edition… my commitment has been to publish these newsletters on a monthly basis, and this one was due out in January! So, I’m 2 months late, and I really don’t have a good excuse for the delay other than to say that, since the first of the year, my life has been in constant upheaval… let me explain a bit:

Ahhh… The Smoke is Beginning to Clear!

Like everyone else, I’ve had the usual run of personal and professional responsibilities that “had” to beImage result for image: quit smokingtaken care of (taxes, client issues, home and auto repairs, etc.), but what has really thrown me off my schedule is my decision (right after the first of the year) to finally tackle something that has been an ongoing “issue” for many years: my addiction to nicotine! I’m not going to go into all the details of how that went here (I’m writing a separate “story” about that journey on my blog, Frankly Speaking), but I will discuss how some of the aspects of that struggle has impacted this newsletter.

My Disclaimer

Before I go much further, I feel I need to dispel a myth that some of you may be holding onto: coaches (and other “people-helpers”) are already totally ‘perfect’ and don’t have all the same ‘issues’ that ‘normal people’ have… the truth is that just about everyone I know (including ME) has ‘stuff’ that they are dealing with… no one needs to be ‘fully healed’ before they can be of service to others. I was very hesitant to admit my ‘human weakness’, but have decided that it was much more important to share my journey (in hopes of being of some value to others) than to try to pretend I was without “sin”!

Okay… On with the show….

Like most people who have tried to deal with this powerful addiction, I’ve attempted to quit smoking onImage result for research quit smokingmore than a few occasions in the past, only to eventually succumb to the cravings, despite all my efforts and best intentions. This time, I wanted to really be sure to get past it and be rid of all its debilitating effects. I researched and read as much as I could about cigarettes, nicotine, and addictions in general, and even hired an “addictions coach”, which, in retrospect, was probably the number one best thing I could ever have done for myself.

Part of my Path to Recovery

My coach had me fill out some very confronting forms, which helped me to get a good look at how I was feeding my addiction… he also had me read some material that totally blew my mind (which is the root cause of my delayed newsletters… more on this later) and he strongly suggested that I join a Nicotine Anonymous 12 Step Group, which I did (after much hesitancy).

I officially had my last cigarette at midnight on Jan. 29th, and have remained nicotine free, one day at a time, ever since. Needless to say that after over 45 yrs. of continuous daily smoking (2-3 packs per day), the absence of nicotine from my system has brought about many physical improvements, but what has really affected me in the most unexpected way is how it has altered my psychological, emotional and spiritual states of being.

Some of the Results:

And, as I said earlier, I’m not going to go into ALL the ways this has shown up for me, but I will say that itImage result for joy of quit smokinghas removed many blocks that had been preventing me from fully experiencing life as it is… my consciousness was altered, and I was numbed out and intoxicated by this powerful drug, and I’m now learning to see and live life from a perspective that I had lost sight of over these past years. It is like waking up from a dream, and although I’m really enjoying it, I’m finding it somewhat challenging to adjust to this new level of perception. Almost every single activity in my life had been associated with holding a cigarette and filling my system with nicotine, and now I’m faced with the daunting task of learning to function “normally” and to deal with life on life’s terms.

And, in Conclusion

So, what has all this got to do with my coaching and our attempts at playing the game of “Grow A Greater You”? As I look back at how I’ve navigated through this ‘adventure’, I realize that the number one tool that has helped me the most is the application of all the steps in the Emotional Chart Atonement ProcessImage result for joy of quit smoking(ECAP), especially the Presence Breathing Technique (PBT). Allowing myself to be fully present to my feelings and experiences, and journaling about it as the ‘nicotine fog’ lifted, had a deeply profound effect on me, in ways that are still unfolding in my life. When I let myself be fully in the here and now with my imagined fears, they all dissipated and effortlessly dissolved… it was that simple… who would have thought?!

Because of the complexity and depth of all this, this newsletter has been particularly challenging to write, and not just because I don’t know what to say, but mostly I don’t know how to express what I’m feeling… words seem so inadequate in these situations, and I find myself helplessly stumbling around in an attempt to get this all into some kind of coherent and impactful form. Hopefully, there will be something of value for you in all this… certainly, I can’t control your experience, but my intention is that you will take something personally meaningful from what I’ve written here today… thank you for allowing me to be of service to you!

PS be sure to return to my blog to get the whole story on this… and, thank you for being here!

===== This, That and The Other Thing ====

Teleseminars/Archives info: On Thursday, December 11th, Greg and I hosted another teleconference, and we had a great time playing with the largest audience we’ve ever had. Thank you to everyone who participated, especially those new members from the GAGY Facebook site. Your ‘gift’ allows Greg and I to fulfill our desire to be of service to you, and for that we are extremely grateful. We are all working on ways to expand these services… thank you for your patience

You can find the archives of all the past teleseminars on my website, here. Greg also has a link to these archives on his blog site, plus a ton of other info, including a schedule of his upcoming live events and a list of his great books.

ECAP Tip of the Month: The most powerful tool each of us has in overcoming any unwanted belief orImage result for light of awarenesshabit is to bring our full awareness to the situation. By simply being fully present, in a objective, non-judgmental way, we are using the healing light of our awareness to shine away the imagined limitations that we think are preventing us from living more fully. These “old stories” can only exist in the darkness of our denial… what we resist, persists!!

Contact Info: If you want to contact me, set up a free intro session, subscribe to my newsletter, or view an archive of past newsletters, you can visit my website at: BeyondBeliefCoaching.com. If you would like to read or comment on this, or past newsletters, or if you want to peruse my other brilliant offerings, you can visit my blog at Frankly Speaking.

Miscellaneous: One project I’m working on is to present a live video online workshop to explore and explain how to use the ECAP, and the material from Greg’s books, to get the results you are looking for. This will be a free webinar, and will be archived on YouTube as a resource for anyone who wants to know more about playing the game of “Grow A Greater You”… further details will be included in future editions of this newsletter and on Greg’s site.

Also, I am collecting input from my clients, my subscribers, and from anyone else interested in taking part in a journey to explore how we all might take this process to the next level. I will be sharing more information about this as it unfolds, but for now, please feel free to contact me about this if you are so moved.

Quote of the Week: Smoking cigarettes is like stabbing yourself in the chest while believing that it feels good… FMC

NAMASTE!!

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Newsletter 9: The Presence Breathing Technique

The Presence Breathing Technique

Although I follow Greg Kuhn’s general format as described in his book “How Quantum Physicists Make New Beliefs”, there are many techniques and tools that I have introduced to assist my clients to get the best results from doing the ECAP (Emotional Chart Atonement Process). I’ll be dedicating some of my future newsletters to going into more depth on these “tools of transformation”, but for today, I’ll be discussing a very simple, yet powerful, form of meditation which I call the Presence Breathing Technique (PBT).

So, What is It?

I introduced this technique in an earlier newsletter (#7) as part of the PIQIT process, which can be found in thenewsletter archive here. Very simply, it is a breathing meditation which focuses on repeating a simple phrase, while breathing in and out slowly, using only your abdominal muscles. For a more detailed description please go here. In this deeper look at the PBT, you will see why it is such an powerful part of the process, and some of the important benefits that it will bring.

What Will It Do For Me?

By spending some time doing the PBT, we begin to create a sense of peace and quiet within ourselves… this is done as we remove our attention from the incessant clamor of our “monkey mind” and begin to focus on the silent gaps between our conscious thoughts. In that gap, we begin to connect to a part of ourselves that is wise and loving… for purposes of this conversation, I will call it Presence.

This allows us to be Present to ourselves… what is going on inside, at a deep level… we are able to get in touch with our feelings at their source, and become more aware of the stories that support our old beliefs about who we’ve come to believe we are. As we uncover these groundless, self-limiting, old beliefs, we begin to see that they have no substance and no ability to stop of us from becoming something different…. we can choose new beliefs that are in alignment with who we WANT to be, NOW.

Not only does this meditation make us more aware of our True Selves, it allows us to be fully Present when we are in the Presence of another. To me, there is nothing more loving and caring than to be totally “there” when I’m relating to another human being… I believe that there is something that is silently communicated in this kind of encounter, and it goes far beyond any words or actions that I use at that time… we are in “communion” with each other!

Another great benefit of learning this meditation is that it is something you can carry with you all through he day… it is very easy to stop a moment, anytime you feel anxious, upset or just off-center, and close your eyes (if you aren’t driving), take a few deep breaths, and repeat your phrases, or some other “mantra” you choose, to re-set your intention. This practice really goes a long ways toward having the kind of day you want… but, of course, only if you desire something different than you’ve had in the past… that part is really up to YOU!

But, What if I’m Not A “Meditator”?

One word of caution about doing the PBT… the easiest way to sabotage yourself while learning this technique is to invalidate your personal experience. Most of us have heard many stories about what meditation “should” feel like, and what others have seen or heard while meditating, and we’ve all formed an opinion of what our inner experience should be like when we are “meditating successfully”. Let go of all your expectations… it’s OK to fall asleep, or it may seem as though “nothing is happening”, or that you’re doing it wrong or that you’re not getting a “flash of light” or hearing some “big voice”… none of this matters one single bit… your experience is perfect for you… just accept it and keep practicing… relax and let it unfold in its own way… there is only one way to fail to get the promised results: stop doing the exercise!

A Final Word About the PBT…

In my experience, both from a personal level and from a coaching perspective, the PBT is one of the simplest, easiest and most effective ways to really accelerate anyone’s progress with doing the ECAP… the results I’ve outlined here are just a few of the benefits you can expect to manifest as you use this powerful tool to play the game of “Grow a Greater You”. If you want to throw rocket fuel on the bonfire of your desires, give this a try… it really works!!

===== This, That and The Other Thing ====

Teleseminars/Archives info: Up until September 4, 2014 (GGY 29) Greg and I were hosting a one hour, totally free teleseminar every Thursday evening at 8 PM EST. We’ve decided to temporarily discontinue them as we explore other possibilities in the future. We have thoroughly enjoyed these sessions, but feel we’ve covered just about all the important points and it’s time to move on… stay tuned for future developments.

You can find the archives of all the past teleseminars on my website, here. Greg also has a link to these archives on his blog site, plus a ton of other info, including a schedule of his upcoming live events and a list of his great books.

ECAP Tip of the Month: The best way to prepare yourself for doing the ECAP is to practice the PBT… I have not found a better way to bring yourself to a powerful, resourceful state than doing this exercise… plus, it will lower your blood pressure by 10 pts, while making you look much more sexy… what more could you ask for?

Contact Info: If you want to contact me, set up a free intro session, subscribe to my newsletter, or view an archive of past newsletters, you can visit my website at: BeyondBeliefCoaching.com. I would appreciate if you left any kind of comment or feedback that you feel inspired to share right here on this blog.

Miscellaneous: One project I’m working on is to present a live video online workshop to explore and explain how to use the ECAP, and the material from Greg’s books, to get the results you are looking for. This will be a free webinar, and will be archived on YouTube as a resource for anyone who wants to know more about playing the game of “Grow A Greater You”… further details will be included in future editions of this newsletter and on Greg’s site.

Quote of the Week: The world you live in is a direct reflection of Who You Think You Are… if you want a different world, become a different person.

NAMASTE!!

Newsletter 3 Our Stories Part 1

Newsletter 3 What’s Your Story?

Story Time

Story Time (Photo credit: Sergey Sus)

In an effort to help you better understand this new “process”, I’m going to be exploring the “stories” we create, how they affect our emotions, and how all that contributes to what we manifest into our lives. There will be several parts to this discussion, and because of the depth of each subject, I’ll only be able to touch on the most basic aspects of these concepts. In fact, my future newsletters will be dedicated to expanding and clarifying these very impactful paradigms. Let’s begin….

What is a Story and Why Do We Have Them?

The human brain is the organic computer that sits in our skull and has evolved into a marvelous device that does its best to keep us alive and safe. It starts doing its “job” a short time after conception, by observing, measuring and comparing ALL the data in our environment in an attempt to figure out what will benefit us or what will harm us. From this data, it creates our “world view”, and that “picture” not only defines everything “out there”, but it also becomes what most of us would call “who I am”.

Kite Stories

Kite Stories (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This “program”, which is almost fully “installed” by the time we reach age 5 or 6, is stored in the subconscious brain, which comprises about 95% of our total brain capacity. As a child, we have no way to accurately interpret what is going on around us, which means that this “view” is often distorted and limited (and, unfortunately for us, also very limiting!). It stores this “world view” as a “story” which it tells us whenever we become aware of anything that resembles a past, imprinting event (we’ll call that a “trigger”). These stories define every aspect of everything and everyone we encounter, and they form the basis of our judgments of others and, even more destructively, ourselves.

Remember this: the brain’s main function is to keep us safe, healthy and alive, and it is doing the best it can with what it knows… from a child’s point of view! And, since almost all that data is stored in the subconscious brain, it is very difficult to access. Essentially, we have a misinformed child, hiding in our heads, and it is running our lives.

It’s Only a Story… What Harm Can It Do?

So, every time we experience any kind of stimulus in our environment, the subconscious brain collects that data, compares it to what it has stored in it’s databank, and tells us a “story” about what it decides it means. Our belief in this “story” causes an emotional reaction, experienced as a physical sensation in our “gut area” (solar plexus), and then the brain creates another story about the meaning of that emotion,

I've Been Tagged.

I’ve Been Tagged. (Photo credit: *~Dawn~*)

which causes another reaction, and we are now stuck in what I call the “brain chatter/emotional reaction loop”. We become stuck in this endless loop, and we seem unable to break out of it until something else happens that draws our attention away from the loop long enough for it to fall into the background.

If you have any knowledge of quantum physics and the Law of Attraction (LOA), you might begin to get a glimpse how much damage this can do. Since our thoughts and emotions create a “vibration” in us that impacts the quantum field, and ultimately creates all that manifests into our world, when we are “stuck in the loop” initiated by a “negative” emotion, we are getting more of what we don’t want!

This Sounds Terrible…How Can I Break Out Of It?

Before I go into how to break the “loop”. I want to be perfectly clear about one point: ALL our emotions are vital and necessary, and none of them should be classified as “good” or “bad”. They are “signals” that are designed to tell us something about our relationship to our internal and external world. They not only tell us

Diagram depicting subconscious brain activity

Diagram depicting subconscious brain activity (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

when something is “wrong” or dangerous (hey, there’s a tree about to fall on me!) but they also inform us of when we are experiencing something beautiful and enriching (wow, what a sunset!). And, if you are a fan of LOA, they can be seen as a part of our internal GPS that tells us how close of a match we are to our highest good: are we in alignment with our deepest desires?

Our resistance to what we’ve come to call our “negative” emotions, only serves to energize and strengthen them. One of the best and most effective ways I’ve found to break out of this loop, and begin to create a more empowering and fulfilling life, is the application of a process originally formulated in Greg Kuhn’s book series “Why Quantum Physicists….”.

I’m Curious… Tell Me More!

If you want peace

If you want peace (Photo credit: Celestine Chua)

If you’ve been following these newsletters, you know by now that I’m working with Greg to design a coaching platform based on his books, and we’ve recently named it the Emotional Chart Attunement Process (ECAP). For now, I’ll just say it is a way to disengage from the “loop” by learning to own your emotions by creating new, empowering “stories”. This breaks the hypnotic spell of the “loop” and slowly reprograms the subconscious brain so that it comes into alignment with your conscious, deliberate desires and goals… now, your whole brain is working with you to assist you in playing the game of “Growing a Greater You”!!

As I said at the beginning of this discussion, I’ll be explaining it more fully in future issues of the newsletter, but if you are interested in learning more about this exciting breakthrough, you can go to Greg’s blog or visit my site (Beyond Belief Coaching) and schedule a free introductory one hour coaching session. NAMASTE!

Hawaii ’68: Part 3

And, so, the story continues:

Small-water-pipe

Image via Wikipedia

Discovering Drugs

Before coming to Hawaii, I had absolutely no direct knowledge of the drug scene… coming from a small Northeastern town kept me isolated from that whole “culture”. Sure, I had heard of pot and LSD, but I knew no one who had used it and I personally had no contact with it. That being said, I did have a mild curiosity about it.

On weekend nights, we would head down to Honolulu to walk the tourist-crowded streets and absorb some of the local “color”. One of the places we frequented was a street-side “park” that had a number of small vendor booths and a mix of locals and tourists wandering around. I ended up befriending  a number of locals, a few of which were obviously “hippies”.  Eventually, one of them asked if we would be interested in getting high and I hesitantly agreed. Even though I tried a few “hits” on a couple of different occasions, I never really got much out of it and didn’t see what the hoopla was all about. One night, they asked if I wanted to buy some and I said I would take a “sample” to my friends so we could pool our money if we decided we liked it. They gave me a small bud and I took it home. We (Joe, Frank and I) found a pipe and filled it with the small sample. We smoked it until all that was left was seeds and none of us felt “high”.  We posited that maybe we hadn’t really got all of it and kept trying to burn the seeds… obviously, this didn’t help. We concluded that it was no big deal and put the whole drug thing on the back burner, so to speak.

One of the guys boarding at our “home” was from California and seemed to have a lot of experience with drugs (he proved to be quite a bullshitter and so we treated his assertions with much skepticism). He said he had some “acid” and would sell us a “hit” for $4, so I decided to give it a try, although everyone else declined. I’m not sure if I even got off since I felt an overwhelming need to “act” as if I was “tripped out” to prove it was such a great time. For all I know, the pill was just aspirin he had in his pocket… these experiences left me somewhat unexcited about the drug scene, but I was still willing to learn more.

When I had moved into my third residence (more on this later), one of the cottages in the neighborhood housed a bunch of Navy guys. They were often out to sea, but when they had shore leave, they would throw gigantic parties at their place. I was at one of these parties and we were sitting on the floor around a huge spool\table (low tables are an Oriental custom) and the table was covered with food, drinks and all sorts of drugs. We were passing a waterpipe loaded with Vietnamese pot (I think it was laced with opium), followed by an assortment of different bottles of whiskey, rum, vodka, etc. Some time during the evening, someone popped a pill in my mouth and said “enjoy the trip!”…  Dude, I got off!! I couldn’t believe that the world I experienced that night was the same place I had lived in for the past 19 yrs. After that, I never had a problem getting high on anything I sampled. This ultimately led to about 4 yrs of totally insane fun-time (but often irresponsible) behavior. More on this in another story.

Another bodyboarder at Waikiki Beach

Image by Trisha Weir via Flickr

Exploring the Island

We spent a considerable amount of time checking out the sites and beaches on the Island, One of our favorites was Waikiki because it was nearby and loaded with great looking tourist chicks. Joe and Frank decided to try surfing but, because of my poor swimming skills, I would stay on the beach while they went out and tried the “surf”. Waikiki is a very popular spot for beginner surfers because it is very shallow for quite a distance out and the waves are smaller and easy to navigate. One day, I got bored and decided to “visit” the guys who were sitting and waiting for a wave. I was wearing sneakers because the ocean floor has a lot of sharp coral there and, because the water is so clear, I was really enjoying the show as I walked out. As I was approaching the area where several surfers had gathered, one of the locals asked me: “what are you doing out here? don’t you know about the ‘cudas?”. “Cudas?” I said, with a little apprehension. He continues: “yeah, barracudas… dude, they hang out hidden in the coral and they are known to attack anything that moves!”. I can’t really express the panic I felt at that moment… I was “way out” and, as I turned toward the beach, it looked like it was thousand miles away… how was I going to get back?

Somehow, I managed to take the first steps toward shore, watching carefully as I stepped between the clumps of now-barracuda-infested coral. All I could imagine was some fish taking a chunk out of my leg or dragging me off to feed its young! It was one of the most terrifying times in my life, but, hey, I survived. That was one of the last times I actually went into the water while in Hawaii.

Sunset on Waikiki Beach, Waikiki, Hawaii

Image via Wikipedia

Other trips

On another occasion, we traveled to Sunset Beach and spent the day splashing around and ogling the local fare. It was a great beach, but not much happened except, on the way home, I discovered my class ring was missing! We immediately turned around and tried to find it (HAHA!) but to no avail.

Another time we stopped at Waimea Bay where some of the worlds best pro surfing takes place. The waves were about 20-25 feet high that day and we were told they get much larger during the winter “storm surf”. I also learned that what made the waves so high and spectacular (and dangerous!) was the hard bottom comprised of mostly coral. When the big waves come in, they suck the water out and there is little left at the bottom for the surfer to fall into. Can you imagine falling from the crest of a 30 ft wave into a bunch of rocks and then getting crushed by tons of water!? Another reason not to pursue a career in surfing…

One of our friends (Dave Jensen) from NY got bored after we left and decided to move to Hawaii to join the party. He had a cycle, too, and so we took a ride around the island so I could show him some of the sites. They had no helmet law there and so we often rode without one (foolish) and, on that particular day, all I wore was shorts and sandals. While riding on the north side of the island, we came into a gravel strewn curve and my bike slid out from under me. I bounced and bumped along the rough pavement until my bike and I came to rest in a ditch. Needless to say, I lost a fair amount of skin all over my body, especially on my knees and elbows, but nothing was broken. We got directions to the local hospital and Dave gave me a ride on the back of his bike. The ER people kinda freaked when I hobbled in but managed to stop the bleeding, clean up the cuts and apply bandages. I hopped back on the bike and Dave drove me back to my bike. On inspection, it seemed drivable but a few things were messed up: one mirror was missing, the gas tank was badly dented, much of the chrome was scratched up and the shifter was bent. To top it all off, scabs had formed on my cuts and I was starting to stiffen up. But, we had no other way to get the bike home, so I gingerly hopped on my bike and we slowly made our way home.

Description: Surf at Waikiki Beach à Honolulu ...

Image via Wikipedia

Moving On…

After 2 months in our first place, we moved to an unfurnished apartment closer to school. We had a few mattresses on the floor  for beds and a giant wire-spool end for a table. That was about it. During this time, we discovered the PX on the local naval base and were able to buy gallons of booze for a very cheap price…. big mistake! And, we were able to qualify for food stamps, so that helped. It was during this time that I realized I didn’t have enough money to make a full year in school so I decided to try finding a job. That’s when I learned about how it feels to be discriminated against. Hawaii is the only place in the US that a white person is in the minority and is treated like a second rate citizen. Sure, they love tourists who come in and spend their money but they hate mainlanders who try to come there to live. Needless to say, all my attempts met with total rejection.

I don’t remember exactly why, but we decided to split up at this point. I got a place sharing a cottage on a small side street. It was a very diverse neighborhood, and the residents were quite interesting. I already mentioned the Navy crew I often partied with; there was also a group of “he\shes” (gay hairdresser guys who dressed as women when “going out”) and a small biker gang. These two groups stuck in my mind because I spent a lot of time socializing with them. One of the favorite “games” the he\shes liked to play was to go down to one of the popular hang-outs for guys who were on shore leave. They would dress themselves in very “hot” outfits (believe me when I say you could hardly tell they were men) and they would flaunt their stuff until they gathered a bunch of unsuspecting swabees. They would invite them to their place for a party and when things got heated up (as in some of the guys were starting to grope and grab), they would pull open their clothes and yell, as one “sorry, we’re just men!”. As you might imagine, this didn’t go over very well with most of the participants and there were often threats of bodily harm by the now-inebriated crew. The he\shes were well prepared for this and would pull out pistols (that they had hidden beforehand) and convinced the “guests” that it was now time to leave as they escorted them out the door. I know this seems far-fetched but I can assure you it is all very true… I witnessed it for myself and it totally blew my mind. I think these “guys” liked me because I was pretty open-minded and held no judgments about who they were. They invited me and my friends (Joe and Frank) to a Xmas party they were throwing, and we accepted. On this occasion, for reasons I’m not too sure of, they dressed like regular guys and we all just hung out and partied. Then, it came time to open gifts: they sat in pairs (with their significant others), often on each others lap, and opened the gifts. There is something really strange about watching grown men hugging and kissing each other as they get all excited about the new bras and other “girly stuff” they received. Although I found it rather amusing, Joe and Frank really freaked and decided to leave… how rude!

USS Enterprise (CVN-65) underway off Southern ...

Image via Wikipedia

The other people I got to know pretty well (mostly because they always had good pot) were the bikers. One of them had a job collecting garbage at Pearl Harbor and took me with him a few times to help out. He was supposed to pay me for that but never got around to it… in retrospect, it was worth the chance to get a tour of the facility that no tourist ever got. One thing I learned, by seeing the garbage that each ship “provided”, was that submariners ate better than anyone else in the Navy (lots of lobster and steak). I also got to see the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise up close in dry deck. It was there to be repaired after a fire that had caused heavy damage. As a fringe benefit, when it became time for me to fly back to Auburn, and I realized I had no winter wear for the trip (it was January), he got me a real Pea Coat off one of the ships.

Miscellaneous

As you may have gathered by now, I did end up dropping out of school… I was out of money, I had lost all enthusiasm for doing the work needed, and I was terribly homesick. I was able to salvage most of my classes by getting passing grades and I was later able to transfer them toward my degree work back in Auburn. One of the pleasant surprises I had was in my Italian class. A few days into the semester, my teacher asked me to stay after class and she asked me if I knew what part of Italy my grandparents were from. When I told her it was near Naples, she informed me that her maiden name was Colella and here family was also from that region and she had married a guy whose last name was Preston, who was from Cortland, NY. As we talked, I realized that he had lived on the same street as the Evangalistas, my cousins (the name of the street was Preston St, since his family had lived there for so many years). I think this played a part in my final grade: toward the end of the semester, she asked us to write a paper, stating what grade we thought we should get and why. I explained that, although I probably deserved a C, I really needed a B to help pull up my miserable GPA. And, that’s what I got! Thank you, Mrs. Preston!

Diamond Head cone seen from the coast off Waikīkī

Image via Wikipedia

Oh, yeah, I did get a chance to go to a concert in Diamond Head. That’s right… IN Diamond Head! I don’t remember much about that day except going through a long tunnel and being surrounded by a sea of hippys. I know I got pretty fucked up and I can’t remember who played there, and years later, someone told me Hendrix had played there. Although sometimes I imagine I saw him that day, I have no clear memory of it.

Epilogue

I know I’ve missed some pretty significant “happenings”, and, as they come to mind in the future, I’ll be adding them. To the best of my knowledge, these stories are true and accurate. One major “shift” that this whole episode initiated was my introduction and absorption into the drug culture. Up to that point, I had a pretty “normal” view of life: you went to school, partied a little, got your diploma (I was working toward a degree in Electrical Engineering), got a job, found someone you “loved”, married her, raised a family and lived happily ever after. When I returned to Auburn right after the first of the year, I enrolled back at ACC but couldn’t get back into the school thing. I ended up dropping out and partying, non-stop, for the next 4+ yrs. During that time, I met Leslie, married her, and started my own electronic repair business (thanks to my father), had a couple of great kids and, later, returned to college to get an AAS degree.  I plan on writing more about some of the more significant events of that period, but for now, that is a pretty good summation.

In closing, I’d like to say that I’ve often wondered what my life would have been like if this whole episode in my life had not happened, or, at least, had been significantly different. I find that this is a waste of time… in retrospect, I feel as if everything had to go the way it did. I’m very happy with who I am, NOW, and I can see clearly that my life path, although bumpy at times, was exactly perfect in the way it unfolded. My apologies to all those who were hurt or negatively affected by my choices during that period… I always did the best I could with what I knew at that time. Some choices were better than others… but, hey, that’s life!

Oh, yeah, a couple of other vignettes just came to mind. My family came to meet me at Hancock Airport… one of them was my Aunt Millie. The last they saw me, I had “normal” hair and had since let it go long. (I’ve seen pictures of myself from that time and, although I thought I looked pretty cool, I have to admit I looked like shit!) Well, everyone totally flipped when they saw me and she still reminds me of it to this very day.  The other memory I have is going to the pool hall the next day after my return and seeing a bunch of my old drinking buddies. I walked up to them, all excited about my new discoveries, wanting to be the first to introduce them to the whole pot smoking thing. Well, to my surprise, they had gone through almost the same thing, and had all dropped out of their respective schools. That was the beginning of the “lost summer of ’69”. As I said before. I’ll cover that, and more, later, but if you want to skip to the next big event, read Woodstock… revisited.

Hawaii ’68: Part 2

As I sit here, shivering, in my garage “office” (which is the only room in the house where I can still smoke) on this cold December morning, my mind wonders back to fond, warm memories of my days in Hawaii. While mentally going over the list of “extraordinary events” from that crazy period in my life, I’m amazed at how much happened to me in such a short time span… I mean, I was only there for 4 months! Anyhow, let’s get started:

The Cock Fight

I mentioned earlier in Part 1 that Quintin, one of  the boarders who shared our “home”, raised fighting roosters.  Cock fighting is very popular in many cultures (although hardly heard of on the mainland) and, unlike the “friendly” battles you may have seen in the media, the “real” fights involve affixing a razor-sharp blade to a spur on the rear of the roosters leg. In “natural” fights, a rooster will try to jab his opponent with the back of his leg, where there is spur that sticks out. This causes pain to the opponent and eventually, one of the roosters will surrender and just run away. This is usually a non-fatal confrontation and is, therefor, not very exciting in some people’s views. Hence the implementation of the “knife”: instead of just causing some pain, the stabbing motion now inflicts a very traumatic wound. The result is usually fatal (for one of the two opponents) and makes for a fast and furious bout, often lasting only 15-2o seconds.

Now that I’ve set the groundwork, I’ll continue with this tale. Since I had a car, Quintin asked if we wanted to take him to the regular Sunday cock fight “event”, for a day of fun and games. Of course, we quickly agreed and we were off for a new adventure. Once we arrived at the “game site”, we noticed a few disturbing things: there we a lot of dead, bloody  roosters in piles under the trees and we were the only “haoles” (whites) in the whole place! This was a rough bunch and we stood out like, well, a snowball in a rock pile. We did the best we could to blend in as we stood around the outside of the ring and watched in mixed amazement as the tournament proceeded. A little info about how this works: the opponents are announced, the owners enter the ring with their razor-equipped roosters and hold the birds so they can peck at each others necks (to get them “excited”) and then everyone starts furiously betting, usually based on the track record of the owner and fierceness of the birds. Quintin was one of the most popular owners and the betting was usually on his side which made for poor odds for his fights. So, he asks me to hold the bird in the ring so he could make a more profitable bet. I was a little apprehensive about this maneuver,  but I consented and stepped into the ring. The results were immediate and undeniable… there was a roar of laughter and a flurry of high-stakes betting. When the betting was done, Quintin jumped into the arena and takes his bird from me which resulted in a ripple of loud mutterings and evil looks from the crowd. I went back to stand in the “white zone” with Frank and Joe, hoping to live long enough to see the end of the match. We were shitting our pants!

Just as they were about to release the cocks, there was a great commotion behind us and everyone started running into the surrounding jungle. A convoy of white vans and police cruisers stormed into the parking area and an army of police officers poured out and started grabbing anyone they could catch. We just froze as they rushed towards us and then stood in relieved shock as they ran past us in pursuit of those who had tried to escape into the jungle. I guess they felt we were not any of the “big fish” they wanted and we were able to leave.

Later that evening, Quintin somehow got back to the “home’ and was in a sour mood: he had been drinking all day and had somehow become convinced that we stole $500 from him! He started screaming angrily (in broken English) at us, accusing us of taking his money and demanding that we return it! That escalated into threatening us with a very long switchblade, at which point we barricaded ourselves into our bedroom, and promptly called our landlady. A little about her: she was huge, a mix of Chinese and Hawaiian, and  she was not known for her loving disposition. Meanwhile, Quintin was busy hacking at our door and cursing us in many different languages. Before long, the pounding stopped and was replaced with a lot of screaming and the crashing sounds of furniture and bodies colliding in some sort of “heated negotiation”. Soon, the landlady (whose name escapes me right now) called to us and said it was OK to come out. When we opened the door and came into a now-wrecked living room, we found another unbelievable sight: Quintin laying on the floor, face down, with a guy sitting on him, holding a gun to his head! The landlady assured us that Quintin would not bother us again, and, well, he didn’t… in fact, he moved out the next day.

In his haste to leave, Quintin had left some his roosters. When it became apparent that he wasn’t coming back for them, we decided they would make a cheap, and hopefully, tasty meal. We tried to catch one but were unsuccessful. That’s when Joe decided to use his spear gun… we thought that would be much fun and very effective. It wasn’t a pretty sight, but it did have the expected results: one dead rooster. Somehow, it got cleaned and cooked, but, man, that was the toughest meat Ive ever eaten… it was like chewing on shoe leather!!

I was hoping this was going to be just part of group of shorter stories in this section, but it turned out to be longer than expected. So, I’ll end it here and continue with the rest in the next “chapter”.

Hawaii ’68: Part 1

Prologue

I was thinking about my next writing project and my days at the University of Hawaii seemed like a nice story, especially considering the time of year we’re heading into. First, a little bit about how I ended up there. Most of my 4 years at Central High and my first year at ACC (now known as CCC) were pretty much just the usual cycle of classes, homework, drinking, sex and working (with most of the emphasis on drinking and a lot of wishing for sex) that most teenagers of that era were engaged in. There are some interesting stories, to do with that period in my life, that could be explored, but I’ll leave that for another time.

Sometime during my first semester in college (in Auburn) my friend, Joe Kulakowski, told me he was planning to go to the University of Hawaii next year, and, although I didn’t give it much thought initially, I started thinking about how cool it would be to go there and I started looking into the possibility. Amazingly, tuition for out-of-state students was only $65 a semester (I think in-state tuition was free) and flights from Syracuse on student stand-by was something like $75! I don’t recall what the turning point was, but the next thing I knew, we had our tickets (Frank, Joe’s brother, decided to go, too) our bikes were packed (we each had motorcycles) and all the paperwork was submitted and accepted, including my student loan (I think it was $2000\yr ) and all necessary arrangements had been completed. Miraculously, we were on the way!

Getting There and Settling In

Waikiki beach at night, Waikiki, Honolulu.

Image via Wikipedia

The flight over was fairly uneventful… the only thing I remember worth mentioning was that on the last leg from LA, the plane was almost empty and we had a great party, getting drunk with the stewardesses…. something that would NEVER happen, today. We were really smashed when we deplaned (back then, you got off on the runway and had to walk to gate) and were overwhelmed by the tropical smells mixed with the ocean breezes… plus, we were met by a group of beautiful Hawaiian “receptionists” who heaped leis on each of us and we were surrounded by a line of fluffy-cloud shrouded mountains. Yes, indeed, we were in paradise!

We stayed in a hotel in Honolulu that night and did a little sight-seeing on the nearby streets and along Waikiki beach. The next day we contacted an old friend of my Uncle Harry, who was a local lawyer, and he let us borrow one of his cars ( a chevy convertible, no less) and we started looking for housing. That’s when we stated to learn about the REAL expense of going to school there. Everything within walking distance of the University was way beyond our means and we found that the only inexpensive rooms were quite a distance away and located in a, shall we say, unsavory part of the island.

Aerial of Waikiki and Ala Moana, Honolulu, Hawaii

Image via Wikipedia

We ended up renting a room (with three beds and a shared kitchen) in a boarding house in Kalihi Valley, many miles west of the school. The neighborhood was ethnically diverse (as in slums) and the other renters in our place were quite “interesting”: Jerry. who was totally insane, although in a mostly harmless way, was fat with red hair and a goatee, smoked ciggies and walked around in just his underwear and made a “hup-hup-hup” sound all day (Frank K decided to see where his breaking point was and continually taunted him until he flipped and walked out, never to return); Qintin, a Filipino who had just recently come out of the jungle, drank a tremendous amount of whiskey, worked high-steel construction and raised fighting cocks; Jim (not sure of his real name) was a surfer dude from California and drove a small red MGB convertible. I’ll have more on these last two later….

Our motorcycles came in by boat and we got a ride to the docks, took them out of the crates and drove off, leaving the containers strewn all over. We soon found out that, although Hawaii has a mostly sunny and warm climate, sudden isolated downpours were not unusual (you could be standing in the sun, looking at 3-5 rainbows up in the valleys, where it was pouring). Since we would have to commute every day, to and from school, regardless of the weather, we decided to get some rain gear. We went to the nearest ARMY surplus store and I came up with the bright idea to buy a poncho\shelter-half. I couldn’t wait until the first rain came so I could don my new “invention”. Maybe you’ve already figured out what happened next, but in case you haven’t, I’ll explain: the first time I wore it on a main freeway in heavy rain, the sides became “wings” and I looked like a bat, swerving all over the highway… the wind just about lifted me off the bike! Needles to say, that got returned and I resorted to a normal rain suit. Later I bought an old car for $250 and that took care of the problem entirely , although it created some new ones: I spent a lot of time chauffeuring people around and it cost me a small fortune in gas. (I was able to sell it for the same as I paid for it when I left, so it worked out OK).

Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA.

Image via Wikipedia

School Daze

Let me be very clear: I was  an immature 19 yr old who had led a sheltered life and was totally unprepared for life this far from home, not to mention I lacked the discipline and organizational skills needed to attend a large university. I was brought up in a tightly knit extended family in a small town where everyone knew everyone else. Even the community college I attended was just like going to high school: the classes were small, the professors took attendance and they collected your homework. Imagine my surprise when I walked into my first calculus class (with about 60 other students) and the professor has his back to us and is holding a microphone. As the clock struck the hour for the class to begin, he points to his name on the board and says “that’s my name… I’m your professor for this course… you paid to be here and I don’t care if you come or not… don’t interrupt me while class is in session… in fact, you should never have to bother me for anything… if you are having any problems understanding the material or any other questions, here is a list of student assistants who will handle all that. Here is a list of your homework assignments and your grades will be based on a midterm and a final exam. Let us begin….” He continued lecturing and writing on the blackboard, never once turning toward the class… when the period was over, he turned off his mic, put down the chalk and walked out. Now, keep in mind that this classroom was single story building and had no glass on the windows… all there was between me and the outdoors was a set of shutters. And, right outside the window were palm trees swaying in the wind and a bevy of the most beautiful women in the world (you know, the Japanese\Hawaiian mix with the slim, well proportioned figure, soft olive-colored skin and silky long hair). I knew my days were numbered! Hell, my Geography class was held in a movie theater about 3 blocks off campus! Why should I bother to go?

In spite of my most sincere efforts, my attention started to dwindle and my resolve weakened… I started taking more and more time off from class and began making regular detours to Waikiki Beach. Needless to say, my grades suffered and by the end of the semester, I was forced to withdraw and return home and try to kick-start my college career. But, hey, I had a bitchin’ tan!

This is not the end of this story… far from it….  in Part 2, I’ll be covering bike crash, cock fights, rooster stew, surfing and the whole druggie thing, plus anything else that pops into my decrepit old brain. Come on back, ya’ hear!!??

Note: I’ll be covering my return to Auburn saga in another story…..

Woodstock: The Aftermath

As I wrote my post on Woodstock yesterday, I was flooded with an internal dialogue about what happened in the “world” afterwards. For those who were there or were touched by it in so many ways, there was certainly many expectations and dreams that were inevitably formed in its wake. The general consensus was that the “world” would see that a large gathering of humanity (a community of 500 thousand) could not just survive but actually thrive with little or no rules or laws. Could this be a template for the salvation of humankind and the birth of a new “world society” where peace and love were the norm and everyone was able to live and grow without limits or government imposed restrictions? Had we just seen the birth of a “Utopian Earth”  and the beginning of a “Golden Age” that would carry all of us joyfully into the next millennium?

Obviously, none of this came to fruition and we are now, by my estimation, in a far more dire situation. What happened? Why didn’t any massive changes take hold? I have several assertions as to why this event not only didn’t bring about any significant transformation but, rather, may have spawned a negative outcome.

In the history of the drug culture, Woodstock took place when most “users” were consuming large quantities of marijuana and LSD (and many other hallucinogens) and there was a feeling of “family” among most of the participants. We all felt we shared a common set of ideals and that we were engaged in a “war” with the “evil empire” (otherwise known as the “establishment”) and there was an atmosphere of inevitable “victory”: eventually, “they” would all “convert” or die and “we” would assume our rightful place in a fresh, new world. Battle lines were drawn and we were going to “love the enemy” into submission. My first premise is that “the establishment” became fearful of their loss of control (and the security that goes along with it) and events like Woodstock only served to galvanize their  concerns and this caused them to become even more entrenched and proactive. In other words, our best intentions to create a “new world” just brought about a deeper rift and further polarization.

The other major factor that led to the ultimate failure of the “hippie agenda” was the proliferation of “hard” drugs into the culture: cocaine, amphetamines (speed), heroine (mostly brought back by Vietnam vets), etc. These drugs completely destroyed the trust and camaraderie that had so marked the “love culture” as rip-offs and other dishonest behavior became prevalent. This dis-unifying activity completely undermined the cohesion we had all enjoyed and destroyed all the impetus the movement had garnered. As the “enemy” became stronger, we became weaker and dis-empowered. The “movement” was over….

Not only did this kill any hope of any real change, it created a generation that is mired in apathy and inaction, and a deep despair seems to have griped the land. There is no focused energy or even a rallying cry (unless you count the wacko Tea Party)… we seem resigned to a bleak existence marked by endless meaningless political rhetoric and corporate greed. The average guy on the street has accepted his lot and his only consolation has become the hope that he has enough money to buy some beer and keep his cable running. A sad state of affairs, indeed.

I’ve had very little dealings with most of my friends from that era but, on the few occasions when I have interacted with them, I find that most have become the the thing we all feared. They are either entrenched in the “system” or still living some kind of pseudo-hippie, drug-numbed lifestyle. At parties, the main topic of conversation is the retelling of the same old “far out, mind-blowing happenings” we shared in the long-gone past. Very little is ever said about what is going on NOW, nor are there any discussions about what can realistically be done to correct the situation we are all faced with.

I have very little hope that anything can be done “out there” and I’ve devoted my time and efforts to “healing my mind”…. to evolve myself so that I can live a fuller and truly happier life. I can’t control what others do but I can make internal changes that allow me to be an example of what is possible. All real change always starts with the individual.