European Tour – Way back Wednesday

May 31. Wednesday.

Okay, here’s the deal about the painting. At the conference I talked to my cousin, Elaine Turner, for the first time. George’s sister/Aaron’s mother. My uncle, Stanley Pransky, had been close to Elaine when he was in London and where he had his mental breakdown, which eventually led to his suicide. I was very close to my uncle, and his death really affected me. This was back in 1965, just as I was entering my sophomore year in college and transferring to a new school, so when I got there I was pretty much a mess.

So I have been very interested to hear from Elaine what he was like in the year leading up to his breakdown. He was a really great beatnik artist, who did a lot of beautiful paintings and drawings of jazz musicians. Elaine told me that Stanley was a friend of Ronnie Scott’s, whose jazz club is now the most famous in London, and much to my utter surprise she said there were jazz drawings and maybe a painting of Stanley’s hanging on the walls of the club.

Stanley Pransky - self portrait

Stanley Pransky – self portrait

When Stanley died, my mother, who was also an artist, kept all of his paintings and drawings, and then when she died a few years ago, my siblings and I inherited them, and we documented and photographed all his work and distributed them throughout the family. Our family did not know this artwork existed at Ronnie Scott’s! I would be amazed if he did not do a portrait of ‘s friend, Ronnie Scott, as he was primarily a portrait artist.

So yesterday I went down there accompanied by Peggy to see if his artwork was still on those walls to take photos of them if they were. Alas, they are not, as a very nice security guard named Jackie took me around to see. So Jackie gave me the email address of the general manager and I emailed him, and today he told me that he had been there eight years and didn’t know anything about them, but he did give me the name of their jazz archivist and said I could talk to him. So I have been waiting to hear from him to know whether I need to go back to Ronnie Scott’s before I leave here. As of this writing I haven’t heard from him, so I am not going back there tomorrow. So close, yet so far!

But Peggy had a brilliant idea that maybe the artwork had ended up with Ronnie Scott’s family (Ronnie Scott also apparently committed suicide—sad) so she looked up on the Internet Ronnie Scott’s ex-wife, Mary Scott, who apparently (maybe still) runs a musicians agency in Brooklyn, NY. So now I can track down that end of things. It’s like a detective story.

Training Community Coalition Members

The real news of the day was that I did an impromptu volunteer training at the Caius (pronounced “keys”) House for a community coalition in the rough end of Battersea.

I thought I was going to be having an informal conversation with four people, but it turned out to be a full training for 12, as I found out last night. Okay. This is the group that Peggy and Liliana are helping to have the Three Principles be the undergirding basis for this community effort. So my job was to help these community coalition members understand the 3Ps and help them see how to implement it in their community.

I was really inspired by this group and by what the lovely Liliana and Peggy are accomplishing there. It was really a good experience for us all. I miss doing this kind of work; it’s been a long time. I think I even picked up four new people for our October retreat in Spain.

I was kind of burnt after all that, so they dropped me at a restaurant near my hotel, where I ate Mediterranean food, and then I walked back across the big park and settled into my hotel room for the night.

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European Tour – Tuesday brings Peace of Mind

May 30. Tuesday.

After breakfast I took a taxi to the workshop venue, at Naila’s house, a nice little house that fit about 14 people. Tali Field kindly organized this day for me, which kind of happened spontaneously after I came over to Europe, and it turned out to be a really nice training day. The title of the workshop was supposed to be, Finding Peace of Mind in Difficult Times, or something like that, which was very fitting given the terrorist bombing that had happened in Manchester. We did cover that topic a bit, but I really pretty much left it open, since it was a small group, for people to take it in whatever direction they wanted.

After a wonderful lunch made by Jane, one of the participants, I took a nice walk with Naila through a park during the lunch break, and then in the afternoon I spent most of the time having individual sessions with three different participants, with everyone observing. At least two out of the three had nice insights.

Then, another participant, Nicola, with Tali’s help, assisted me in figuring out what underground route I had to take to meet my next host, and she drove me to the underground station and was so nice to be sure I got onto the right line and train. I had to switch train lines to end up in Soho, where I was met by Peggy, who was kind enough to help me get to Ronnie Scott’s jazz club, to help me see whether my uncle’s painting and drawings were hanging on the walls. After a bit of begging and pleading, they did let us in to check it out, but I was disappointed to find nothing. However the security guard was so nice; she told me the displays on the walls changed a number of times and gave me the email address of the general manager. So tonight I write to him.

Then Peggy and I got back in the underground to take us to Clapham Common, where we met Fiona, had dinner, and here I am in the Windmill Hotel writing this.

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European Tour – Monday and the play’s the thing

May 29. Monday.

Holly drove me to the coach (bus) in the morning—we bid a fond farewell but I will be seeing her in Spain again luckily—and I took it to the London Victoria coach station, where I changed to another bus to Golders Green. I had a little scare because I couldn’t see the gate announcement for my connection, and had to stand in a very long information queue, and the time was ticking away, but I did make my connection on time.

On the bus ride I spent all the time editing a book that someone asked me to help edit. At the other end I was picked up by Debbie Fisher, who was kind enough to offer to put me up, even though she could not make it to the workshop tomorrow. I didn’t know Debbie, but she turned out to be really nice. She made me a healthy dinner in her nice home, and then she offered to have me go to a play with her and her son. I didn’t really want to go because I was tired, but I was intrigued by the type of play it was, “Occupational Hazards,” the true story about Rory Stewart’s attempt to help govern a province in southern Iraq after the Iraq war, which did not work out, despite his best efforts. So I did go. I actually thought being invited meant there would be no cost for the ticket, and the ticket was more expensive than I would have liked, and the play was pretty good, but through no fault of the play I ended up falling asleep in it about three quarters of the way through it, I was so exhausted. So once I got home, I couldn’t wait to go to sleep. But Debbie and I had a nice talk.

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The “Dizzying” Effect of Understanding

One morning, not long ago, I awoke, sat up in bed as I normally do, and out of nowhere the room started to spin. I lied back down, sat up once more, and it got worse. Not since the hard hits of my hockey career had I felt this way. Actually, it was twice as bad. I was scared and confused, as I had no idea why this was happening.

Before I tell you what took place next, let’s go back to the week before when I visited my naturopathic doctor for a check-up. At that visit, he discovered that I had contracted a stomach parasite somewhere in my frequent travels. He then prescribed a remedy to kill it. Makes sense, right? Well, sure. But as I learned in a call placed to him after I finally got out of bed that morning, when you kill parasites, it’s common for “die-off” to circulate in your bloodstream. And guess what? That causes dizziness.

I asked the doctor, “Are you telling me that dizziness is a normal symptom of the remedy doing what it’s supposed to do?

He replied, “Yes.”

I asked, “Are you essentially telling me that this dizziness is a good thing?”

He replied, “Yes.”

I asked, “Are you going to tell me next that if I want the parasite gone, rather than fix the dizziness, I have to weather this dizziness storm?

He replied, “Yes.”

As a calm washed over me, I thought to myself, “I can do that.”

And that brings me to the core of this article’s message: Understanding how something works, or what’s truly happening within, is the one and only path toward peace of mind. When, at first, I didn’t understand the cause of my dizziness, insecurity reigned; I practically couldn’t get out of bed that morning. But the instant I understood why I felt that way, dizziness lost its grip. In fact, dizziness accompanied me, without incident, through the rest of a busy week.

Here, then, is the fundamental understanding, or principle, analogized above: Your feelings are connected to the ebb and flow of a divine energy called thought. This means that anxious, insecure, or even frustrated feelings are a normal, while sometimes dizzying, effect of being a thinker (or of being human). In other words, no fixing or coping is ever required. But, thankfully, plenty of living and giving—i.e., weathering—regardless of your state of mind, lies ahead.

Thanks for reading,


European Tour – Sunday we visit the Bard

May 28. Sunday.


By Unknown 17th century author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Woke up with not enough sleep again and had to scramble to arrange my logistics for the next few days. One last road trip today, this time to meet Sally, because she wanted to show me the town she spent so much time in, Stratford-upon-Avon,the town in which Shakespeare also grew up and spent so much time.  Bill was a little older, though, born in 1564. We saw the house in which he was born. He certainly was not a pauper. We also saw the church he allegedly is buried in, which to me only seems a way for the church to make money, as they charge people to see his grave inside it. We didn’t. This really nice town, which I really liked, was packed with tourists today because it was a bank holiday.

Holly is a bad influence on me because every day we’ve had ice cream, and today a lot of it. Tasted great but I’m suffering for it now. It was great to hang with Sally. Then we took the long drive home and ate dinner out—fish and chips—and both of us were completely exhausted when we returned. I could barely pack and write this blog. I have had such a good time here with Holly and friends and it’ll be sad to leave.

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European Tour – Saturday’s wonder of the world

May 27, Saturday.

stonehengeHolly and I took a fairly long drive to Stonehenge. It was the second time I had been there—probably about 10 years ago. I couldn’t believe how much has changed since that time. Parking lot was now over a mile away, it was twice as expensive to get in, and you couldn’t get anywhere near as close to it as you used to be able to. Why? Because some people in very low levels of consciousness with no respect at all did some damage to the place and ruined it for the rest of us. But I shouldn’t say ruined; it is still one of the seven wonders of the human-made world. The most impressive thing to me is 4500 years ago, how did they get those monstrous rocks to set flat on top of the upright huge rocks? If 100 men tried to lift those boulders, they never would have been able to do it, and if they had a rope and pulley system way back then, it would’ve had to be higher than the top of the boulders. Impossible to imagine. Maybe aliens. Fascinating place.

Then Holly and I took the long drive back through the nice town of Marlborough, and ate dinner in a pub there. I had a scrumptious chicken pot pie. Another very nice day, with wonderful conversation.

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European Tour – Friday via Skype

May 26. Friday.

This morning I had to work again. I had a Skype counseling session with a couple. After listening first to one for a while, then the other for a while, then bringing them both together, I have never talked so much for so long in a session. I don’t know what got over me. But it felt right, and I think they heard something new that really helped them, so I was happy.

While I was doing that Sharon left, then some friends of Holly’s came over who deal in horses, and then Holly and I took a drive to the very strange Broadway Tower, a tall and skinny Castle, walked up to the top, saw and heard a ton of very loud sheep in the fields, ate lunch and came home. Low-key day. Needed, but got very little sleep that night.

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European Tour – Peace and Potter in Oxford

May 25. Thursday.

Ahhh, peace. I woke up in the downstairs bedroom at Holly’s, opened the glass doors to the outside and heard total and utter quiet except for the beautiful sound of birds chirping. This is the perfect place for decompression and relaxing, after such a full Italy trip then especially the conference where I felt so full. Had a quiet breakfast with Sharon while Holly went to get her dog groomed.

Then we all had such a beautiful day. We drove to Oxford where Holly had to attend an auction for some of the things in her mother’s estate. She did well. It was so fascinating, as people placed their bids both in person and on line from perhaps all over the world. Then we walked into Oxford University, or part of it, because it is absolutely huge. The buildings are gorgeous. I’ve always wanted to visit there, as I grew up around Harvard, and Oxford is even more prestigious, if that’s possible. Really nice town, too.

Then we were lucky to meet up with Marien and Ami Chen Mills-Naim, who is visiting her. We discovered the building in which the Harry Potter movies were filmed and because Ami is a huge Harry Potter fan and because my 12-year-old granddaughter lived for Harry Potter for many years, we had to go in, and it was interesting, especially because it was also the birthplace of Alice in Wonderland and we saw across the courtyard where Einstein used to live. We tried to contact Maureen, who also works at Oxford, but couldn’t reach her until too late. But we all went out for some very delicious ice cream, said our goodbyes to Marien and Ami, drove back and had a quiet dinner. Wonderful day!

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European Tour – Wednesday traveling coach

May 24. Wednesday.

Got up early, went down for breakfast looking for Elsie, Judy and Keith, didn’t see them, so I ate and got ready to travel again. Last night I had asked the person at the desk how to get to the coach station at Heathrow, and he told me I had two choices: shuttle van for 5 GBP or taxi for 10. This morning I asked a different person at the desk where to catch the shuttle van and she said I had two choices, that van for 5 GBP or a free bus about a block down the road. Okay. So I trucked my bags down there and just missed the 8:20 AM coach, so I had to wait until 10:50.

The interesting thing about this bus station was that there are no seats near any electrical outlets, so I had to find one against a wall on the floor, sat on my backpack and used my suitcase for a table. Did some writing, then got on the coach and did more writing on the 2.5 hour ride until it got onto some very bumpy and curvy roads. I finally gave up, then realized we were already pulling into the city of Cheltenham. I expected a tiny little village. It isn’t! Nice place.

I got off the bus and Holly and Sharon met me. We ate lunch, then they drove me to Holly’s. What a beautiful place! Peaceful. Perfect. Just what I needed. We took a nice walk around the 100 acres here, then had a real nice time eating dinner and dancing around to the old The Harder They Come movie soundtrack that had introduced reggae music to the world outside Jamaica. Real nice day.

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