Blog: Here's what Tom says about that!

Infinite Possibilities

Posted January 20th, 2015 by Tom

13My father died last Tuesday.

I flew to Orlando, Florida on Wednesday, and flew back home Sunday. I’m speaking across the state tomorrow and in Indiana next Wednesday.

Then I’ll fly to Southern California to join Mom, my sister, our family, and friends to celebrate Dad’s life on the 31st.

It feels a little like a pinball machine is going full tilt in my head with all the silver balls bouncing around at once and the bells and whistles and lights celebrating the highest score ever on “Vampire Stimuli Juggling.” WoooHOOO!

I spent much of yesterday quietly thinking.

I thought about all I experienced over the weekend at the conference; the people I met, the ideas that were shared, my daily telephone conversations with my mom, the eyes of the 10-month old baby whose eyes locked into my 60-year old eyes in the lobby of the hotel just before I caught the shuttle back to the airport to fly home.

Lindi and I watched Boyhood last night. As Mason’s life and the lives of his family unfolded before us I was filled with sadness and hope and I thought what a perfect film to watch at a perfect time.

I thought about Dad being diagnosed with cancer more than three years ago, shortly before he and Mom celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary; about the precious blessing of having him with us these past three years, which offered many opportunities to be together, to talk, to hug, to share “I love you” over and over.

I thought about how my second book, Gather at the Table, was published more than two years ago, offering my co-author, Sharon Morgan, and me the opportunity to crisscross the country since, speaking with people at universities, corporations, conferences, book fairs, churches and other gatherings about healing the wounds inflicted through racism and the legacy of slavery. Even more, our journey offered us the opportunity to build our solid friendship.

I thought about the past few months; how in July I became certified as a STAR Practitioner, authorized to integrate Strategies for Trauma Awareness & Resilience into my work. How in November I read the top ten things dead people want to tell you (ah, the timing), by Mike Dooley, the man from whom I’ve been receiving daily Notes from the Universe for the past dozen years.

I thought about driving to Southern California in December to spend four days with my parents, talking about life and death, Boy Scouts and baseball, laughing through reruns of Family Feud on the Game Show channel, setting up a new laptop to replace their ten-year old desktop that was on its last legs, going to church together the Sunday before Christmas; the church they were married in, that I attended almost every Sunday of my childhood, where we will remember Dad together at a service to celebrate his life, across the street from the hospital where I was born and where he died.

I thought about talking with Mom when we knew Dad wasn’t coming back this time, about changing my plans to immediately fly to Southern California, about her encouraging me to go ahead and attend the conference in Orlando, about my gratitude for my sister for staying with Mom throughout Dad’s passing and for several days after.

I thought about life and death and the intimate and infinite relationship between the two, about feeling as close to my father now as I ever have. About talking with my 6- and 7-year old granddaughters about what happens to Pampa after he died; about cremation and how our bodies and our spirits are both connected and separate.

IMG_3547bI thought about all I experienced during the conference, where I became certified as an Infinite Possibilities Trainer. Where I met, spoke deeply with, and held in my arms, Mike Dooley, who’s Notes from the Universe have greeted me each morning for so many years with a reminder of my power, of life’s magic, and how much I am loved. Where I learned more about our innate ability to shape our lives and live our dreams through understanding and working with our thoughts, words, attitudes, beliefs, and actions.

I thought of the intimate and infinite connections between this conference and my work with Coming to the Table, my writing, STAR, Gather at the Table, speaking appearances, and Mike Dooley’s 10-month old daughter, my children and grandchildren, my father, my mother, and how each moment offers the opportunity for me, and for you, to direct our future.

I thought about Deborah, Jeoffrey, Gretchen, Regena, Tracy, Craig, Roberto, Susan, Rebecca, Andy, Mike, and so many others I encountered this weekend; the words “I told you I would find you again” being whispered in my ear in the midst of a powerful embrace, and knowing they were true.

It’s a lot. Believe me, I know. And I’m paying attention; enjoying the game. I look forward to celebrating my father and continuing to create my future. How about you?

The Possibilities are Infinite.

Ecotopia: I’m pretty sure we’ve squandered our best opportunities, so now what?

Posted June 25th, 2012 by Tom

Ernest Callenbach self-published Ecotopia in 1975 after being rejected by 25 publishers. He died two months ago on April 16, 2012. The novel is the story of what happened when Washington, Oregon, and Northern California seceded from the United States in 1979 to create a society in balance between people and their environment. Set in 1999, Will Weston, a reporter from New York, becomes the first officially sanctioned American visitor to visit Ecotopia 20 years after secession.

Weston writes a series of articles and journal entries describing Ecotopia’s bizarre practices: 20-hour work weeks, elimination of automobiles, returning unneeded roads and buildings into their natural state, a government run by women, ritual war games, and a complete focus on sustainable living.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Spirit Level: inequality is killing us

Posted November 7th, 2011 by Tom

Inequality — literally — is killing us.

In my post The Sky is Falling! The Sky is Falling! a few months back I expressed my frustration with the inability of those in positions of power in Washington, D.C. to compromise on our national debt, the deficit, the debt ceiling, tax loopholes, tax increases and budget cuts; not to mention jobs. Political power apparently takes precedence over everything that matters. The vast majority of Americans, the 99%, if you will, suffer the consequences. Those suffering the most are the most vulnerable: the poor, children, seniors, the unemployed, and far out of proportion to their percentage of the population: people of color.

I recently read one of the most important books on this subject I’ve ever encountered, The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger, by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett. Read the rest of this entry »

Watch “Food Matters” online for free

Posted October 2nd, 2011 by Tom

Of all the films Lindi and I have watched regarding healthy diet and food choices, Food Matters is right up there at the top of our list that we recommend to others. The only way you can usually watch it is to purchase it (which we did) or borrow from a friend. Food Matters isn’t available on Netflix.

NOW, for just one week (October 2-8, 2011), you can watch the film online for free.

From the website:

“Let thy Food be thy Medicine and thy Medicine be thy Food” – Hippocrates. That is the message from the founding father of modern medicine echoed in the controversial new documentary film Food Matters from Producer-Directors James Colquhoun and Laurentine ten Bosch.

With nutritionally-depleted foods, chemical additives and our tendency to rely upon pharmaceutical drugs to treat what’s wrong with our malnourished bodies, it’s no wonder that modern society is getting sicker. Food Matters sets about uncovering the trillion dollar worldwide ‘sickness industry’ and gives people some scientifically verifiable solutions for overcoming illness naturally.

The focus of the film is in helping us rethink the belief systems fed to us by our modern medical and health care establishments.

To watch Food Matters, click here.

This Precious Moment

Posted May 21st, 2011 by Tom

“We have a fuel leak on the right side of the plane. We need to evacuate.”

The pilot’s voice got everyone’s attention. I heard the word “evacuate” but wasn’t sure about the rest of what he said through the distortion in the sound system. I turned toward the man and woman sitting next to me in the same row. The man said, “What did he say?” The woman replied, “I think he said…” she was interrupted by a more urgent, and louder, statement.

“Everyone needs to evacuate the plane NOW. Please take all your carry-ons with you.”

The smell of jet fuel began to fill the enclosed space where we sat near the back of the jet. No one panicked but the people ahead of us began to move toward the exit more quickly.

My day began at 3:30 in the morning when I woke up after two hours’ sleep to wash the sleep from my eyes and head for the airport. When I boarded my third flight of the day in Denver they announced that we were delayed by a few minutes because the co-pilot hadn’t arrived yet. Then we were delayed by another twenty minutes because of weather in New York, my final destination. Then the fuel leak resulted in the abandonment of our plane.

“I’m glad they found it here,” said the man who sat next to me, “rather than when we were at 36,000 feet.”

“No kidding,” I replied as I pulled my suitcase from the overhead and followed him off the plane.

We left Denver two hours late on a replacement plane. There were no further incidents. When we landed at LaGuardia I asked one of the flight attendants, “How bad would it have been if they didn’t discover the fuel leak until we were in the air?”

“That would’ve been bad,” she said, “real bad.”

“You mean emergency landing bad, or…?” I asked.

“It was really good they found it when they did,” she said. “If we had taken off it would have required an emergency landing and they would have foamed the runway.”

I guess she could see the startled, concerned look in my eyes. She tilted her head with a “yeah, it was that serious” look in her own eyes. “It’s really good they discovered it when they did.”

My imagination lit up with the potentially dire possibilities had the leak not been discovered. I was grateful to walk on terra ferma toward baggage claim, to see Sharon pull up to the curb, and to drive–on the ground–to her house.

I was unnerved by this experience and grateful to my guardian angels for keeping me safe. I thought about my wife and how we just celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. I thought about our children and our grandchildren. I gave thanks for the blessings in my life and for the awareness of them in this… one… precious… moment.

I picked up Peace is Every Step, the wonderful book by Thich Nhat Hanh that I brought with me to read over the next month.

We are very good at preparing to live, but not very good at living. We know how to sacrifice ten years for a diploma, and we are willing to work very hard to get a job, a car, a house, and so on. But we have difficulty remembering that we are alive in the present moment, the only moment there is for us to be alive. Every breath we take, every step we make, can be filled with peace, joy, and serenity. We need only to be awake, alive in the present moment.

I flew to New York to join my writing partner, Sharon Morgan. We embark this weekend on a month-long, 5,700 mile road trip through fifteen states in the South and Midwest as part of the healing journey we’ll document in our upcoming book Gather at the Table that will be published by Beacon Press in 2012.

My goal is to be present in the precious moments we share; to be present for what we will experience and learn together. We will document some of our “moments” at our blog. We hope you’ll travel vicariously along with us as we visit communities where our ancestors lived; overnight at an antebellum guest house and a sharecropping plantation; attend Civil War reenactments; tour cultural institutions related to slavery and history; and research genealogical records in rural courthouses. Together, we will explore the meaning of what we experience from our separate, black and white perspectives.

You can subscribe to our blog and follow our briefer updates on Facebook.

I gotta run. We got the oil changed in Sharon’s car, filled it with gas, and now all that’s left is to load up the car and head South. Kentucky here we come!

Eat it raw, baby, and improve your health!

Posted November 16th, 2010 by Tom

Fix your life for half price through this Friday! How’s that for a sales pitch?

You have until this Friday, November 19 to purchase Simply Raw and the 2-DVD set Raw for Life for $29.95. They also toss in a bunch of bonus materials. Lindi and I purchased this set and began to shift our lives in a much healthier direction.

I’ve written about my enthusiasm for the film Simply Raw before. I saw it for the first time when it and Traces of the Trade were both included in the Newport Film Festival in June 2008.

This film changed the way I think about food and my health. It changed Lindi’s and my diet. We aren’t on a total “raw” diet, not by a long shot. But we have incorporated a lot more raw foods into our diet and feel much better as a result.

I won’t repeat what I wrote in April. You can check that out here. I have no connection with these folks other than mutual respect. I receive no benefit for spreading the word about this sale other than knowing that my friends have the opportunity to improve your lives.

It’s well worth it.

Oil in the Gulf: we live in a Crude World

Posted May 10th, 2010 by Tom

The latest effort to contain the oil spill that has poured millions of gallons of crude into the Gulf of Mexico encountered a setback 5,000 feet underwater, officials said Saturday, meaning oil will continue gushing into the ocean for at least several more days, and possibly months. –New York Times, May 9, 2010

In March I reviewed the book Crude World: The Violent Twilight of Oil. If you didn’t catch it then I encourage you to add this important book to your reading list.

The human impact from our past actions continues to harm the most vulnerable people the most severely. The damage we inflict on people and communities in other nations, and the damage we inflict on the environment, because of our addiction to oil is staggering and unconscionable. Sadly, we (meaning the human species) don’t tend to take serious action to change our habits without being confronted with catastrophe. I can only hope that the catastrophe that is currently unfolding in the Gulf will lead to a fundamental shift in our national conversation regarding energy reform.

For a quick primer on how this crisis, combined with national and worldwide policies regarding energy, may play out I also recommend this article in The New Republic: The Crisis Comes Ashore: Why the oil spill could change everything.

It is understandable that the administration will be focused on the immediate crisis in the Gulf of Mexico. But this is a consciousness-shifting event. It is one of those clarifying moments that brings a rare opportunity to take the longer view. Unless we change our present course soon, the future of human civilization will be in dire jeopardy. Just as we feel a sense of urgency in demanding that this ongoing oil spill be stopped, we should feel an even greater sense of urgency in demanding that the much larger and more dangerous ongoing emissions of global warming pollution must also be stopped to make the world safe from the climate crisis that is building all around us.

Today, April 25, is “Reversing Diabetes Action Day”

Posted April 25th, 2010 by Tom

We all want to be healthy. I think we can agree on that whether we agree with government efforts to reform access to health care or not. We each make a choice regarding our health every time we eat something. All this is pretty obvious, right? If there is one thing I want, health insurance or not, it is to be as healthy as possible so I don’t need to visit the doctor.

Two years ago at the Newport Film Festival in Rhode Island I saw a film called Simply Raw. I used to believe there was no cure for diabetes. I was wrong. Simply Raw follows six people with either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes who agreed to go on a strictly natural and raw foods diet for 30 days. Several of them were completely off insulin at the end of 30 days. This is not a film only for people with diabetes. This is a film about our society and our health in general. It is about how we as individuals and as families consume ourselves to death and pass the habit onto our children AND some things we can do to change this trend.

I met the filmmakers and one of the subjects of the film in Newport. Simply Raw started me on a journey. I began learning more about food. I read books, perused websites, and watched films (like Food, Inc.). Then Lindi and I began to make changes to our diet. We haven’t gone crazy, but we have incorporated a lot more raw and fresh foods into our diet and have mostly eliminated what we’ve come to believe are harmful foods.

Today is the second annual “Reversing Diabetes Action Day.” Many folks in the raw and living foods community use today to highlight their cause; to spread accurate information about how to reverse type 2 diabetes naturally, and have a good effect on – including sometimes reversing – type 1 diabetes naturally, while also greatly benefiting weight loss, blood pressure, and mood. When they formed this day last year it was because they were tired of being excluded from World Diabetes Day by the drug company-funded organizers of the event. They decided that if they weren’t allowed to share accurate information in World Diabetes Day events that they’d form their own.

One of the benefits of this celebration of health is that between today and April 30 you can buy the film Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days and the companion Raw for Life Encyclopedia for 50% off the regular price. They’ll also include $110.85 in additional bonuses (interviews, health and food preparation tips, and more). Total cost to you is about $30 plus shipping. If you only want Simply Raw, the cost is $14.97. This is the same deal that was offered about a year ago when Lindi and I picked up the DVDs and additional info. I highly recommend this for all my friends who want to live healthier lives.

No, we get no kick backs from this. I haven’t even spoken with the filmmakers for more than a year. We simply believe that Simply Raw will make the lives of people we care about better. Complete information on this 50% off offer is available here.

UPDATE: Want some compelling reasons to consider adding more fresh, raw, locally grown, organic foods to your diet? I just learned that PBS (P.O.V.) is streaming Food, Inc. in its entirety online for free through this Thursday, April 29. Watch it here now.

Food, Inc.: must-see film on P.O.V. (PBS) tonight

Posted April 21st, 2010 by Tom

The Oscar-nominated (for Best Documentary Film, 2009) Food, Inc. premieres tonight on the acclaimed PBS series P.O.V. (the same wonderful folks responsible for the television premiere of Traces of the Trade)

I encourage everyone to watch this informative film. I learned things I did not know. I was shocked, angered, and disgusted. And then I began to think about what I could do in my own life to have a more positive impact on my health by the choices I make in what I eat.

Seriously. Skip American Idol. TiVo it. I believe Food, Inc. will impact you and your loved ones in significantly beneficial ways. From the P.O.V. website:

Our nation’s food supply is now controlled by a handful of corporations that often put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and our own environment. We have bigger-breasted chickens, the perfect pork chop, insecticide-resistant soybean seeds, even tomatoes that won’t go bad, but we also have new strains of E. coli — the harmful bacteria that causes illness for an estimated 73,000 Americans annually. We are riddled with widespread obesity, particularly among children, and an epidemic level of diabetes among adults.

Featuring interviews with such experts as Eric Schlosser (“Fast Food Nation”), Michael Pollan (“The Omnivore’s Dilemma”) along with forward thinking social entrepreneurs like Stonyfield Farms’ Gary Hirschberg and Polyface Farms’ Joel Salatin, Food, Inc. reveals surprising — and often shocking truths — about what we eat, how it’s produced, who we have become as a nation and where we are going from here.

Check your local PBS station for times and repeat screenings. P.O.V. continues to impress me with the wide variety of thought-provoking and informative films it shows each week. If P.O.V. isn’t on your radar screen yet–they should be.

And if you can’t watch tonight an alternative way to see Food, Inc. is on Netflix where it is available both for home delivery and “Instant Watch” on your computer.

The most clear-headed, thoughtful, must-read article I’ve encountered in a long time

Posted January 8th, 2010 by Tom

I just finished reading “Illness Speaks: Healing from Cancer, Addiction and Racism in the Age of Rush Limbaugh” by Molly Secours.

I hope many, many people across the country will read this profound article and recognize that no matter how right we are in our indignation at people we disagree with, our righteous indignation will not lead to peace or healing. Please take the time to read Molly’s commentary, and add your comments to it, re-post it to your Facebook page and/or blog. Spread the word!

The paradox is that without vulnerability we may never muster the courage to confront ourselves and as a result, continue to obsess and demonize the ‘enemy’. Without ample reflection our all-consuming outrage and judgment of others is often a cover for our own disappointment and shortcomings.

Thank you, Molly. May God bless you always…

Copyright 2012 by Thomas Norman DeWolf | Website: James DeW. Perry