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Alon Farm, the Story Unfolds

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Two Star-Crossed Lovers

Let me introduce you to Dougie Holwill. Born in the fifties to a party girl and a con artist, it’s believed that Dougie’s mother, Joyce, wasn’t delighted at the prospect of maternity and attempted to abort her pregnancy, but the baby refused to exit her womb and so began a battle of the wills between mother and child that would exist until her dying day. In an effort to escape the law and some unhappy investors with diminished bank accounts, his father fled the country when Dougie was but a boy – never to return to his wife and children again.

Joyce may not have been a natural born nurturer but her largely Jewish family provided the backdrop of domesticity to her children’s lives that she was unable to give them. Dougie’s grandmother took care of him and his younger sisters. It was…

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Welcome to My Blog!

The focus of this blog is Education, particularly Lifelong Education for Adults in the Second Half of their Lives. Being as I am a trained Adult Developmental Psychologist, as well as a memoirist and a copywriter, I intend to discuss autobiographies, biographies, and memoirs and relate them to developmental phases in the life course and to the wider historical social contexts in which their stories take place.


I am a born teacher, a people person and a Lifelong Learner.  I already had a Ph.D. from UC Berkeley (1965) and ten years of experience teaching history and sociology, before realizing that my real fascination lay in the deep mysteries of the human heart and psyche. Therefore I left my secure well-paying job as an Associate Professor of History at UC Riverside to spend a year studying depth psychology at the C.G. Jung Institute in Zurich and then spent two years back in Berkeley getting grounded in lifespan developmental psychology, with a specialty in midlife and aging. After I got a Ph.D. in Psychology at the Wright Institute, I built my Proteus Institute in Big Sur California, to guide midlifers through the joys, challenges, and pitfalls of their own personal life journeys. I used Joseph Campbell’s “hero’s journey” paradigm as our framework. Everything has its lifespan, and after twenty years of running the institute, I decided to shut it down and apply what I had learned from my experiences working with midlifers in Big Sur to teaching older adults at the Institutes for Continuing Education at UC San Diego and San Diego State. Recently, I studied copy and content writing, digital marketing, case study writing, and website auditing at the American Writers and Artists Institute.


My mission is to provide your business with everything you need in copywriting and web content creation.I specialize in Internet  Marketing and Direct Response Copy Creation. My favorite activity is writing sparkling Case Studies  I also perform Website  Content Audits

About My professional background: My first career was being a Historian, specializing in Modern American and European History.

My second career was being a Sociologist with a specialization Meda, in Social Movements, and in Deviant Behavior. 

My third career was being a Psychologist.

That only became possible after I completed my studies in Analytical and Archetypal Psychology at the C.G. Jung Institute in Zurich and returned to Berkeley where I earned a Ph.D. in Psychology, with a specialization in Adult Development Aging.

My fourth career (now) is Copywriting for which I have trained for by taking copywriting courses at the American Writers and Artists Institute AWAI.

Some Motivational Quotes for Memoir Writers

When you feel liket quitting, think about why you started.

Get in the habit of asking yourself every few hours: “Does this activity/action support me in attaining my goals?”
“Does this support the life I’m trying to create?”

You will not always be motivated; so you must learn to be disciplined.

Success doesn’t come from who you do occasionally, but from what you do consistently.

The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want right now.

Great things never came from comfort zones.
You don’t grow when you’re comfortable.

Old ways don’t open new doors.

Don’t compare your life to others’. Make no comparison between the sun and the moon. They shine when it’s their time.

Appreciate where you are in your journey, even if it’s not where you want to be, Every season serves a purpose.

Don’t tell people your plans, show them your results.

 There is no failure. You either win or learn.

memoir materials
Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on

“Another Sort of Learning: Essays on How to Acquire an Education While Still in College or Anywhere Else” by Fr. James V. Schall, S.J.

“I never let school get in the way of my education.”-Mark Twain
Fr. James V. Schall’s Philosophy of Education is very unusual. This is a book for those who like to read and to think–about ultimate questions of existence and essence, about time and eternity, curiosity and learning, about humor and wonder. Fr. Schall believes that reading the best of books, especially the Greek classics,  makes us not only wiser intellectually, but better people as well. By wrestling with the Ultimate Questions, he invites us into the inner journey of a lifetime, a quest to be frankly honest about what it means to exist at all. Our thoughts about these questions would be something interesting to journal about.

Another Sort of Learning  is  not only a critique of education, but offers some useful promising suggestions for those who never studied the classics. He defines philosophy as “the study of that which is.” We call the humanities “humanities” because, at their best, they help humanize us by allowing us to enter into dialogue with the past to inform us about who we are as humans. This book seeks to do the same. It’s a roadmap of the mind through the lens of various authors that have moved the human race in the past
Another Sort of Learning is a brilliant guide for the intellectually perplexed. I hope this volume finds its way to individuals willing to concede perplexity, because it offers a massive dose of truth as a remedy for those who may not know that they are wrong about the most important things.

This is a fountainhead of real philosophy, the love of wisdom, following the truth wherever it leads, in order to secure the proper convictions for the most pressing questions of mortal and immortal life. It is a book largely about reading and thinking.
The book begins with a quotation from Mad Magazine, and ends with a reference to Aristotle. In between the end-pages you will repeatedly encounter names such as Samuel Johnson, G.K. Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc, Russell Kirk, Augustine, Plato, Aquinas, Machiavelli, Montaigne, Josef Pieper, Eric Voegelin, Leo Strauss, Flannery O’Connor, John Henry Newman, Dorothy Sayers, Chesterton, Hilary Belloc,and Maurice Baring.
Fr. Schall writes elegant essays on education, philosophy, science, politics, history, and revelation, and concludes each chapter with a short list of the books that nourish his own thoughts on the subject at hand. Examples of such lists include, “Unlikely List of Books to Keep Sane By”, “Books You Will Never Be Assigned”, “Seven Books on Sports and Serious Reflection”, “Seven Books on the Limits of Politics”, and “Five Books Addressed to the Heart of Things”.  Part of the subtitle states “Sundry Book Lists Nowhere Else in Captivity to Be Found”. You will find “Eight Books on Evil and Suffering”, “Five Books Addressed to the Heart of Things”, “Sixteen Books on Belief and Disbelief”, “Eight Collections of Essays and Letters Not To Be Missed”, etc. There is also an unusual list at the back of the book. The book contains 21  thought-provoking essays on a wide range of topics. One of the best features of this book is the list of books at the end of each essay – 37 lists in all, composed of 290 books. 
Fr. Schall believes that to be educated is to confront the great questions about what is; that many modern students never learn to raise, much less answer, the great questions, thus are uneducated in the deepest sense; and that great books, past and present, which wrestle deeply yet non-technically with these questions rather than passively mirroring popular culture with its prejudices, can fill this vacuum for anyone, in or out of school.

Another Sort of Learning contains unusually sane reflections on education, unusually reflective reviews of books, and unusually discriminating booklists. Schall believes that only the “examined life” is a truly human life and that it is a good idea to read philosophical and religious classics if you want to have a deeper, more meaningful life,  instead of just living as mindless consumer.
Few teachers can match Fr. Schall at conveying a sense of the life of the mind. “The student ought to have the virtue of docility.” says Schall. “He owes the teacher his capacity of being taught. We must allow ourselves to be taught.  Students do not, as St. Augustine said, go to schools to learn what professors happen to think. Rather, they go that they might, along with their professors, hear together the ‘inner truth’ of things, a grace that engages all alike in one enterprise that takes them beyond the confusions and confines of the classroom to the heart of reality, that to which our own intellects ought to conform.” 

I’ve watched Fr. Schall’s lectures on YouTube. Few academics I know would have the audacity to talk about `what a student owes his teacher’, or the charm to carry it off, and the wisdom to make it memorable. Fr. Schall never forgets that `to learn’ is a transitive verb, and that its essential object is truth.

Like many Roman Catholic intellectuals, Fr. Schall was a great admirer of G.K. Chesterton. I like this quote from Chesterton that he cites: “Sincerely speaking, there are no uneducated men. They may escape the trivial examinations, but not the tremendous examination of existence. The dependency of infancy, the enjoyment of animals, the love of woman, and the fear of death—these are more frightful and more fixed than all conceivable forms of the cultivation of the mind. It is idle to complain of schools and colleges being trivial. Schools and colleges must always be trivial. In no case will a college ever teach the important things. For before a man is twenty, he has always learned the important things. He has learned them right or wrong, and he has learned them all alone.”
After quoting this paragraph Schall comments: “It is a sober testimony to the fact that what is of ultimate importance is most often disclosed to us through our parents, our localities, our churches, and our rooted openness to the being, to the what is that stands before us wherever we are. Perhaps the most satisfying doctrine in Aquinas, in this sense, is his bold affirmation that each of us has his own intellect, complete in itself, looking out on a world none of us made, so that each of us first begin to know what is not himself. Only having thus begun can we reflect on the famous Socratic admonition to ‘know thyself.’”
Sooner or later we must come to realize that most of the important things we do not in fact learn are not learned because we choose not to learn them. At some point we must recognize that our own natural capacities are not the real causes of our personal status before the highest things. And we cannot, at times, but be conscious of the fact that we do not, often dare not, talk about the important things.
On the whole, modern universities let us down, throwing us intellectual virgins into a maelstrom of controversy and doubt where the posiblility of attaining truth is denied, as happened to me whEn I was a freshman at Duke. So why go to a university? Because “there is always a chance that we might find there, once or twice, if we are lucky, a wise man to teach us, or at least someone to teach us about the wise men and women who lived before our own lifetimes.” (p. 48).
Allow me to end by quoting from the book’s Conclusion: “I wanted to suggest that anyone with some diligence and some good fortune can find his way to the highest things even if such higher level concerns are not formally or systematically treated in the schools, even if they are in fact denied there or by our own friends or culture. Indeed, I would suspect that there is a certain basic loneliness in our relationships to the highest things. I am not a skeptic here, but we should not expect too much from our formal educational institutions in this regard.”

The Wounded Storyteller by Arthur Frank

I want to share with you this Preface by Arthur Franks to his book The Wounded Storyteller:
I wrote the outline of The Wounded Storyteller in early spring 1994, while I still had stitches from the biopsy that determined I was not having a recurrence of cancer… Writing The Wounded Storyteller was as much a work of self-healing as of scholarship. I needed to gather around me voices that shared what I had been through during the previous years of illness. I had written about my own experiences  in a memoir, At the Will of the Body, but I needed the insights and articulations of other ill people to assure myself I wasn’t crazy. I needed others’ thoughts in order to become fully aware of my own. That is the book’s consistent message about why suffering needs stories: to tell one’s own story, a person needs others’ stories. We were all, I realized, wounded storytellers.  The wounded storyteller is anyone who has suffered and lived to tell the tale. Suffering does not magically disappear when the tale is told, but the more stories I heard the less space my own suffering seemed to take up. I felt less alone. This book was my attempt to widen the circle, to amplify and connect the voices that were telling tales about illness, so that all of us could feel less alone. The wounded storyteller is a guide and a companion, a truth teller and a trickster. She or he  is a fragile human body and a witness to what endures.  People need a guidebook for the day when  they become wounded storytellers, because most people find themselves unprepared. I certainly needed such a book, despite having spent much       of my professional life [as a sociologist] studying health care. The Wounded Storyteller was my attempt to provide that guidebook.” What surprises me rereading the book is how little my ideas about bodies, illness, and ethics have changed. Since I wrote this book I have read new memoirs of illness and interviewed ill people, but as generous as those people were about their experiences, the voices here are the ones that continue to resonate in my thinking, defining illness for me. The voices that speak to us at particular moments in our lives, especially during transitions or crises, imprint themselves with a force that later voices never quite displace. Returning to the The Wounded Storyteller,        [20 years later] I realize how deeply I loved the voices of those whose stories I retell, both people         I actually knew and writers whom I came to feel I knew… This book was written at two particular moments. In my life, I was at the end of a decade when it seemed all my conversations ended up being about illness, and most started that way.           The book was also written at a particular public moment when ill people were claiming the right to tell their own stories, but that right had yet to be attained. Today, illness stories proliferate, especially on the Internet and in mass media, but when I was gathering the materials for this book, speaking publicly of illness felt new and necessary. …[W]hen I joined a cancer support group sponsored by a national organization, we were not allowed to post fliers in the local cancer center, to tell patients where and when meetings were being held. My sense of what was deeply wrong was affirmed when I read Audre Lorde, who wrote as a breast-cancer survivor around 1980, “My silence had not protected me, your silence will not protect you.” That quotation is one of the lines that resounds loudest when I think about illness.                                  My questions are always: who is preserving what silences, what do they imagine is being protected by silence, and who suffers by being kept silent?” Lorde shows a way out of silence: speech that has the power to create community. “But for every real word spoken, for every attempt I had ever made to speak those truths for which I am still seeking, I had made contact with other women while we examined the words to fit a world in which we all believed, bridging our differences.” The Wounded Storyteller was written to expand that contact between people who had stories to tell of illness.          I sought to examine the words in which people attempted to speak the truth about illness, words in which they tried to “fit a world” that seemed worth believing in. This book is not a memoir, as deeply rooted in my own experience as it is. I wrote it with a sociologist’s core conviction that people’s sense of their own originality is highly overrated.  This book reflects a tension between two recognitions of human life that sound paradoxical but are actually complementary. First, people’s experiences are intensely personal; claims to the uniqueness of experience are true and deserve to be honored. Second, people’s ability to have experiences depends on shared cultural resources that provide words, meanings, and the boundaries that segment the flow of time into episodes. Experiences are very much our own, but we don’t make up these experiences by ourselves.  People tell their own stories about illness, but what seems worth telling, how to format the story, and how others make sense of the story all depend on shared ways of narrating illness. The core chapters of The Wounded Storyteller describe three narratives that storytellers and listeners use to structure and interpret stories, respectively: restitution, chaos, and quest. Each is also a way of experiencing illness.                                   Restitution represents my life as a patient. Health-care workers expected any experience to be interpreted within a narrative of movement toward recovery of health. Whatever happened to me could be understood only as a necessary step toward that achievable goal of health. I wanted to get well and appreciated reassurance that I would. But I also needed recognition of my suffering at that particular moment, as well as recognition that my recovery was by no means assured. I increasingly resisted the restitution narrative, especially how it positioned the physician as the protagonist and relegated me to being the object of that protagonist’s heroism. I was certainly part of this story, but it could never truly be my story. The restitution narrative had no space for the chaos part of my illnesses: the months when my rapidly progressing testicular cancer was misdiagnosed, first as a sports injury—muscle strain—and then as an unknown disease, probably, but not certainly, cancer.  Chaos was in the disconnection between the increasing pain that was sending my life off the rails and my physicians’ frustrated insistence that nothing serious was wrong. Chaos was in the claustrophobia of confronting others’ inability               to see what I so clearly felt. Many people with chronic illness, especially multiple sclerosis, have written about this diagnostic uncertainty and the relief when some physician validates how much is actually wrong, as devastating as that diagnostic news can be.  My own chaos was bad enough, but I never experienced the chaos in which many people feel trapped, when each misfortune seems to trigger some other collapse: disease leads to job loss, which creates a housing crisis, and then some other family member gets sick. However, I went through enough to recognize that desperation and the silence that chaos imposes. Those living in chaos are least able to tell a story, because they lack any sense of a viable future. Life is reduced to a series of present-tense assaults. If a narrative involves temporal progression, chaos is anti-narrative.  My period of chemotherapy was bordering on chaos when my understanding of what I was going through began to shift. A sequence of experiences brought me out of an obsession with my own pain and vulnerability and gave me a sense that I was participating in something shared. Time spent being ill ceased to be time taken away from my life. Instead, how I lived with illness became the measure of how well I could craft a life, whether I was ill or healthy. This attitude is the basis of understanding one’s story as a quest narrative. Illness remains a nightmare in many ways, but it also becomes a possibility, especially for a more intimate level of connection with others.  Illness as quest is described by Anatole Broyard’s posthumous collection of writings, Intoxicated by My Illness, which became available late in my work on The Wounded Storyteller. Broyard, a writer of some fiction and much literary criticism, presents living with rapidly progressing prostate cancer as a problem of style: “It seems to me that every seriously ill person needs to develop a style for his illness.” I understand telling stories as an especially important medium through which we discover what that style might be. Storytelling is less a work of reporting and more a process of discovery.  Broyard then writes the sentence that, in retrospect, defines not only the quest narrative but the core issue of The Wounded Storyteller: “It may not be dying we fear so much, but the diminished self.” He thus expresses what remains my crucial question: “If I become ill again, or when I do, how will I find ways to avoid feeling that my life is diminished by illness and eventually by dying?  Broyard was clear that physicians are often a               part of the problem of diminished lives.“Doctors discourage our stories,” he writes. I did not include that dig at doctors in The Wounded Storyteller, and I am surprised, rereading today, how disciplined I was in depicting health-care professionals only from the perspective of patients and minimizing even that. My intent was to write a book that kept health-care workers generally, and physicians specifically, in the background. Even criticizing doctors makes them central. …[T]aking the professional perspective undoes what The Wounded Storyteller is most concerned to bring about: a view from the ill person’s perspective, in which the central problem is how to avoid living a life that is diminished, whether by the disease itself or by others’ responses to it. The professionals in health care and other fields who have communicated with me about The Wounded Storyteller all realize that providing treatment should not be equated to offering care, however that distinction is expressed in the respective idioms of different professions. Other readers are working to make sense of their own suffering, struggling to find words and narratives that share their experiences with others.  What I appreciate most is when the boundaries between these two types of readers blur. Professionals bring their personal suffering into their work, and ill people discover forms of vocation in illness. The wounded storyteller, ending silences, speaking truths, creating communities, becomes the wounded healer.”  —Calgary, Alberta. Arthur W. Frank

Spiritual Autobiographies and Memoirs

Maya Angelou. All God’s Children Got Traveling Shoes

Erik P. Antoni. Song of the Immortal Beloved

St. Augustine, Confessions

Barbara Becker. Enclosure: A Spiritual Autobiography

Stephen Batchelor Confession of a Buddhist Atheist

Malcolm Boyd, Gay Priest, An Inner Journey

Frederick Buechner. Telling Secrets. A Memoir

_______________.The Eyes of the Heart. A Memoir of the Lost and Found

John Bunyan. Grace Abounding

Sister Chittister. Following the Path: The Search for a Life of Passion, Purpose, and Joy

Carol P. Christ Laughter of Aphrodite: Reflections on a Journey to the Goddess

Laurence Clarkson The Lost Sheep Found Or, the Prodigal Return to His Fathers House After Many Sad and Weary Journey Through Many Religious Countrys (Facsimile)

Albert Flynn DeSylva. Beamish Boy. A Memoir of Recovery and Awakening

Mathew Fox. Confessions of a Post-Denominational Priest

Bede Griffiths. The Golden String

Chris Glaser. Malcolm Boyd, Gay Priest, An Inner Journey

G.I. Gurdjieff, Meetings with Remarkable Men

Andrew Harvey. A Journey in Ladakh: Encounters with Buddhism

____________. Hidden Journey: A Spiritual Awakening

Christopher Isherwood. My Guru and His Disciple

Sarah H. Jacoby, Love and Liberation: Autobiographical Writings of the Tibetan Buddhist Visionary Sera Khandro

Carl Gustav Jung. Memories, Dreams and Reflections

Swami Kriyananda. The New Path. My Life with Pramahansa Yogananda

Elizabeth Kübler-Ross. The Wheel of Life. Memoir of Living and Dying

The Dali Lama. My Spiritual Journey

Therese of Lisieux. Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux

C.S. Lewis. Surprised By Joy

Sri. M. Apprenticed to a Himalayan Master (A Yogi’s Autobiography)

Sri. M. The Journey Continues: A sequel to Apprenticed to a Himalayan Master

Brennan Manning. All is Grace. A Ragamuffin Memoir

Mark Matousek. Sex Death Enlightenment: A True Story

John J. McNeill, Both Feet Firmly Planted in Midair: My Spiritual Journey

Jane Hamilton Merritt. A Meditator’s Diary: A Western woman’s unique experiences in Thailand Monasteries

Thomas Merton. The Seven Story Mountain

Mourning Dove. Mourning Dove: A Salishan Autobiography

Joel Morwood. Naked Through the Gate: A Spiritual Autobiography

Swami Muktananda. Play of Consciousness: A Spiritual Autobiography

John G. Neihardt. Black Elk Speaks

John Newton and Vasile Lazar AMAZING GRACE: An Autobiography

Steve Norwood.Confessions of a Reluctant Missionary

Meghan O’Rourke. The Long Goodbye. A Memoir

P.D. Ouspensky. In Search of the Miraculous

David Persons. Finding My Way Home: My journey to a Universal Spirituality (An ordained minister’s journey to a more ancient spirituality and the price he paid)

Sidney Poitier.The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography (Oprah’s Book Club)

Helen Prejean. River of Fire: My Spiritual Journey

Michele Pulford. Climbing into Eternity. My Descent into Hell and Flight to Heaven

Tulku Urgyen Rinpche. Blazing Splendor, The Memoirs of Tulku Urgyen Rinpche

Richard Rodriguez. Darling: A Spiritual Autobiography

Kenneth Rose. The Light of the Self

Soko Morinaga Roshi. Novice to Master: An Ongoing Lesson in the Extent of My Own Stupidity

Lori S Stevic-Rust. Greedy for Life. A Memoir of Aging with Gratitude

Hakuin Ekaku and Norman Waddell Wild Ivy: The Spiritual Autobiography of Zen Master Hakuin

Alan Watts. In My Own Way

Irina Tweedie. Daughter of Fire: A Diary of a Spiritual Training with a Sufi Master 

Paramhansa Yogananda. Autobiography of a Yogi

Jocelyn Zichterman. I Fired God: My Life Inside—and Escape From—the Secret World of the Independent Fundamental Baptist Cult