My life story, written for a book meant to inspire young girls…
Weaving World Salvation into the Fabric of the Next Reality!
I don’t know how I got overtaken by the desire to save the world.
I didn’t have it when I played golf and bridge and was mothering young children, or when I wrote The Anybody Can Make It, Everybody Will Love It Cookbook as my launch into being an unmarried woman.
What I did have from early on was a desire to do things well. That must have come from my lawyer father, the president of his Bar Association, who was so revered as an attorney that when he died the courthouses in Nassau County, Long Island, were closed for half
a day in his honor. This is a blog post I put up about my dad.
When I’d come home with 98 on a test, the joke that wasn’t a joke was Daddy inquiring about where the extra two points had gone.
So, with his expectation that I’d be perfect, I evolved not only into someone who graduated from NYU Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude, but into the person who set the curve getting the highest marks in the class. Follow that line of intention and what you get to, in a troubled world, is a dedication to try to fix it.
There was another thread that led to this mission of mine, from my school years being a time when prejudice was popular. Jewish wasn’t a good thing to be outside the company of other Jews, and there were none but me in my grammar school or my junior high school. Since I had such high marks and was a mainstay in extracurricular activities, I remained front and center, but I never had the sense that I really belonged. For a kid, that’s baffling. What was wrong with me? Since that question never got answered, my opinion early on was that there was something wrong with the world, whereby how to make it right became my quest.
A seminal event that shifted me toward where world salvation might be found was the ending of what had qualifications to be my second marriage. It was the mid-70s, and the Human Potential Movement,
a roll-out from the 60s that started us looking for who we were and what made us tick, was in full swing. I’d actually put my toe into it before hubby left, when the head of a movie studio suggested I go somewhere for a weekend. Ned was my husband’s cohort (ex hubby has a slew of Emmys from three years as the story editor of The Dick Van Dyke Show, for creating Marlo Thomas’s That Girl TV show, and for producing specials and directing TV comedy pilots), but he said hubby wouldn’t like it and that I shouldn’t ask questions but should just go. He had my number even before I had it, with my thinking of myself as Mrs. Him.
It was an encounter group, and I got pinned up against enough walls to make me curious about my unexamined life playing golf and bridge. Not long after that weekend, after I had become single,
in that way of hundred percenting, I jumped into every personal growth experience I could find. est anyone? And Esalen, where I met Mr. Right #2. It was naked-in-the-baths time when the engineering prof from UC Davis sidled up to me, and nine months later we had given birth to a literary child – a book about how to have a perfect relationship. But, the book lacked an ending because we ended.
Why why why? We were steeped in personal growth trainings, but it was not enough to overcome cultural entrenchments like the man needing to pay the check.
Jack had three ex-wives and assorted children to support, and, without letting me pay for anything, I was more than he could afford. Arghhhh. I really loved that guy. Well, that rocked me enough to change tracks. If he and I were victims of an old ideology, I’d give myself over to making the transition to a new one. I had been an actress, with most of my success coming from commercials. Hubby hadn’t been keen on my career, so, after being a drama major in college and dreaming of Broadway, I’d settled for not rocking the domestic boat. Commercials only took a day to make, and I became
a hot property as a mother figure and comedienne for less than a minute at a time.
Here’s my page on the movie biz database, for my one-time appearances on the TV shows of the day that I also squeezed into married life. And here are two of the shows I did: Dick van Dyke Show and Love American Style.
While the kids were in school,
I painted at my teacher’s studio, and my post-impressionist works had a one-woman show. However, when Jack and I fizzled I had my cause. I would turn my attention to wising up the world. I hadn’t gotten to thoughts of saving it yet, but
I was on my way.
Looking around for how I could serve, I answered a want ad put out by AHP, the Association for Humanistic Psychology. That was the umbrella organization for the human potential movement, with its many modalities for leading that examined life. I’d been to national conferences, which were like summer camp for seekers who got to try out everything in the personal growth marketplace. AHP was looking for someone to coordinate a local conference where people didn’t go home afterwards but would create community.
I got the job and set out to find the action in L.A. Every day, during the kiddies’ school time, I paid visits to people working in these new modalities, and that got me plugged into the world to come. I not only met far-out people who lived in Los Angeles, but I got to know out-of-towners who were passing through. That was the beginning of my home being a meeting place for progressive thinkers, which it has been ever since.
I did all the groundwork for an AHP conference, but it morphed into something else. The first big change was with Olaf, who had hired me to develop the L.A. conference. As we worked on it together, we fell in love, and he left his job with AHP in San Francisco to move in with me. Our intention was to produce that conference, but, although community was a gleam in people’s eyes, they weren’t ready for it.
So, to help get them ready, ELF Enterprises Unlimiting was born.
ELF stood for Enlightenment, Love and Fun; the motto was “Put the elf back in self”; and the pathway to community was play. People could relate to each other that way.
Olaf was a sunny soul who specialized in gadgetry. My house is below street level and steps go down to my front door. During four Olaf years, you would get a show when you came through the gate: triumphant march music as you descended the steps, a sign at the bottom said WELCOME and waved back and forth, a bird trilled,
a cow mooed, lights blinked, and a machine blew bubbles at you. People I’ve run into since have said that things we did during that period were the best times they ever had. A highlight included Olaf and I having a mock wedding we called our Waylinking, to “link our ways”: a friend costumed as Harpo Marx – the silent one – officiated, we used lotion on the reception line to massage each other’s hands, and we ended it by releasing helium balloons with messages for the world. The Fortnightly Friday Follies, every two weeks, had our play-oriented team doing things on the streets of L.A. that you could think of as precursors to flash mobs. We did one outrageous event that we repeated several times as a prototype for a center we thought we might create, where we turned my house into Elfunzo’s and we put people through a mock movie shoot. Our team stayed in character as producer (me), director, camera person, make-up artist, drama coach and the like, and concluded the play-acting part after shooting a scene with our super-8 camera where “everybody playing the elf within themself is having a very good time” (that was the script).
We showed a movie we’d made of animals eating at the zoo to announce, “Dinner is served.” Only then did we break character and drop our acting roles. We stopped doing those after the team all dropped acid for one of them, which created what seemed like a natural end to very delightful affairs – those were the days! That’s not even the half of any of it, but hopefully you get enough of the flavor and the flair for this condensed version of my life story.
There’s a thing about strong women that still was culturally problematic in the 70s, and, after four very imaginative, creative years, my love fest with Olaf turned into his needing his separate identity. More’s the pity. I loved him, too.
After ELF, came Challenge for Champions. Several daylong happenings were put on by my ELF cohorts and others who had come along, that were networking events when that was an idea whose time had come.
These events also were full of playful magic, and led to a public access TV show. The Cosmic Fuel Pump came about when the boyfriend of one of my Challenge for Champions team members wanted to make me a star on the speaking circuit. At that point there was a communal craze, and, with people sleeping on all my sofas and my producer’s last name being Eden, Garden of Eden Productions came into existence. To practice what I would say when I got on the world stage, I did 38 public access TV shows. Here’s one of them.
That ended with a dramatic turn of events (OK, so a man was at the heart of it) that will require another report to tell about, and then
the IRS played a part in my life which let me know that anything is possible. I didn’t know that to get write-offs for expenses you eventually have to have income, and hopefully it’s long enough ago that dismissing the government’s threat to disallow thousands of dollars of business expenses will not get my IRS examiner into trouble.
I had invited my examiner to come to my house to participate in what was going on. Progressive people were holding court in my living room and Rich came to several events. As I was approaching my revisit to the IRS for final dispensation, Rich took me aside for a little chat. He told me that he saw the good I was trying to do and didn’t want to interfere with it, so he would go against the rules to pass me for that year and the previous years, and that I could continue for three more years during which his pass would be good, but that after that I’d best change my ways. So, three years later,
I created Mighty Companions, my 501c3 nonprofit corporation, dedicated to coming up with a better plan for humanity, and I’ve legally used pre-tax dollars for my good works ever since. Rich, for years after that, put me in his prayers every night (he got married during that period, so that wasn’t what that was about).
In the late 80s, as I was doing salons and a newsletter, ECHOES:
Who’s Saying What To Whom About It, I saw photographs of crop circles taken by the son of friend who was stationed in England,
who took pictures on his leaves of what they were calling landing pads for UFOs – it was a more wide-eyed time. I was intrigued.
If these imprints in grain fields were being made by some other intelligence, then we aren’t the only one, and that understanding could provide a fast track to a change of worldview. We would be
one humanity in relation to “the other,” and, as someone in the movie I eventually made says, “That could be what saves this civilization.” Personal growth is a lifetime’s work, if not longer, but a shift of worldview could happen overnight!
In the late 80s, the whole world was wondering where these beautiful, geometrically sophisticated glyphs, appearing every summer in a small area in Southern England, were coming from.
“Not us,” was the answer. There was so much interest in what was going on that for events I produced I had to get larger spaces for bigger crowds than my living room could hold. The more I heard and learned, the more intrigued I got, and, after visiting England in 1993,
I decided that if I was going to do something that could matter to the world it would be to popularize what was going on. How do you tell the world about anything? You make movies. It wasn’t too far a leap to the other side of the camera to become a producer.
I found an Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker, and my first movie endeavor was as Executive Producer of CROP CIRCLES: Quest for Truth, the first feature film ever made about the circles. That history of the phenomenon came out in 2002. I went on to make my movie, as filmmaker, that engages the colorful folks who became so enamored of the circles that they left careers to devote themselves to being “croppies.” They take the pictures, write the books, do the research, put on the conferences, and are the stars of What On Earth?, which came out in 2009. Its miracle-department claim to fame is a good review in The New York Times, which hadn’t mentioned the circles for decades and is THE place a filmmaker wants to be appreciated by.
The reception What On Earth? has gotten has been stunning.
It changes skeptical minds about possible visitation. But, my efforts to get the powers that be to examine the evidence, whereby we might get CONTACT into headlines, remains unsuccessful. I even created a petition to ask that attention be paid, thinking my well-known allies would sign it for a newspaper ad: A Call for an Investigation of What is Known About Crop Circles. But all those with status in the science world,
who are fascinated by the circle phenomenon, won’t say so in public because it would threaten their funding. That was an eye opener.
After my film got out and around, and I had done maybe a hundred radio shows and had a very successful TV debut during a fund drive on a Denver PBS station, where I helped with the pitching, I thought it was time to add other areas of outside-the-box reality to my platform. TED seemed ideal for that.
I got a license to produce a TEDx event in that world of mini-TEDs that are in hundreds of cities and counting, worldwide. As TEDx
West Hollywood, it was a program based on webinars I’d produced for Evolver Intensives. I’d first done a series about crop circles, and for another one I branched out into other things that challenge our worldview. The five webinar sessions of DOORWAYS TO ANOTHER REALITY were wonderful. Archives are for purchase.
But, I got more than I bargained for, as my guests were so compelling regarding the evidence for nonlocal reality (if we understood that, our worldview would change) that I built on that for TEDx.
Well, shades of crop circle skepticism. TED, which is about “ideas worth spreading,” does some censoring in confining the scope of those ideas to what fits within the current paradigm. Surprise!
You’d think they would be at the forefront of paradigm-shattering. But that’s so much not so that I became the third victim of a policy
of suppression that got an astonishing amount of attention online, where the blogosphere ignited with more dialogue than ever has been generated by a science-related story.
A force, consisting of Nobel Prize winners among other highly intelligent analysts of the world condition, arose to oppose TED. I went from producing what would have been just one TEDx event among thousands, to having all eyes in TED’s vast outreach focused on me and the others who got caught in TED’s retrenchment. My speakers TED expressed concern about were Larry Dossey, Russell Targ, Marianne Williamson, and Paul Nugent. When TED cancelled my license, I produced Brother, Can You Spare a Paradigm? through Mighty Companions, my nonprofit, and you can see how worthy those talks are. As of this writing, the controversy is swirling.
Whatever inspirations and amusements I come up with along the road to the next reality, may I fulfill the longing in these lines of poetry that were on the masthead of one of my newsletters:
Upon this gifted age, in its dark hour,
Rains from the sky a meteoric shower
Of facts…they lie unquestioned, uncombined.
Wisdom enough to leech us of our ill
Is daily spun, but there exists no loom
To weave it into fabric…
-Edna St. Vincent Millay