The Unfolding Self 7 Feb 2017

This week on “The Unfolding Self”, I am pleased to present Matthew Brown. Matthew is a 48 year-old man who was diagnosed with HIV in 1986. He’s navigated the complicated maze of medications, insurance and the societal attitudes for thirty years. He will share his experiences as he has learned to live with an illness that, at one time, was a sure death sentence. Matthew has seen many friends succumb to HIV. He will speak of those who have inspired him to keep going. He will speak also of the lessons he has learned and the wisdom he wants to pass on to others who have suffered in life.

Join us on the  on Tuesday, 7th of February at 11 AM EST. We look forward to sharing this broadcast with you. “The Unfolding Self” with your host, Dr. Anna K. Follow Dr. Anna K’s blog on The Huffington Post. You can reach her for private coaching sessions at

The Unfolding Self 31 January 2017

Thurayya Backour is a PR and Social Media professional who lives in Canada. Originally from Lebanon where she was involved with humanitarian work with the Red Cross, she worked for many years in Kuwait. She provided civic education and conflict resolution classes to Palestinian children, among others in Beirut. For much of her life she has advocated, and still does, for the rights of Palestinians to be treated fairly in Lebanon as well as throughout the world.

A few years ago Thurayya made the decision to begin the immigration process of bringing her two boys and husband to Canada. On this program she will discuss why she made the decision not to come to the United States. She will also discuss what it means to be Moslem in the 21st century and how to raise her children as Moslems in a western society. She will also discuss the challenges she faces as an ambitious Muslim woman who is married and the misconceptions the West holds about women in Muslim society.

Join us for what will be an interesting and open discussion as Thurayya gives us her view of what it means to be Muslim in the Western world.

1967 Revisited

1967   Revisited

A friend of mine recently attended the Women’s March in Washington, DC. This to me, as to many women, is an act of tremendous declaration of us as women. It was a statement long overdue and much needed. If the recent elections served to shake women out of lethargy, an apathy we have too long fed, then the turmoil the election has created is worth it. We need to speak up and to declare ourselves. The need to make ourselves heard brought memories back from the first time I made this declaration in 1967, December 17th to be exact. Some dates just stick in your mind.

My friend posted a picture of herself and her friend toasting the coming demonstration with champagne, and I thought, times have certainly changed. We toasted with a joint. However, it was not much of a high. It was the first time I tried it. There was little effect or it was cheap pot. Either way I was very much based in reality during this demonstration, my first.

It took place in Manchester, NH and it was cold. I drove over from Putney, VT, where I was attending Windham College, with some friends I met. Someone had given me a motorcycle helmet to wear. I was warned the policemen would very likely strike me across the head. The helmet was to protect my brains. Since it was cold. I had a jacket and a windbreaker on over it. Since I was a larger woman, I looked very bulky and very masculine in my outfit. This did not serve me well at all. Frail and very, very feminine might have been much better.

It was about a two-hour drive. When we arrived we received brief instructions on how to protect ourselves from attack, “roll your head under and protect the back of your head with your hands, do not leave your underbelly exposed so you can not be kicked.” I admit this was entirely out of my experience, being a young woman with virtually no life experience from Altoona, Pa, had not prepared me for the world of angry police. AND, I was naïve enough not to understand their anger.

Two years prior, I had attended a lecture by Martin Luther King, Jr. when I was a student at Pennsylvania State University. Like so many of my generation, I had never questioned the politics of my family or my culture. It never occurred to me to do so. I was a Republican like everyone else I knew. My first exposure was a demonstration in 1965 when I was a student at Penn State. I demonstrated against Martin Luther King, Jr. being allowed to speak on campus. I still to this day do not understand why. I just did what others were doing, I never questioned. When I heard King, he made sense; he changed me. I still cannot tell you why or how. I just knew I believed in my heart all people were the same, and deserved to be treated so.

I also did not believe in war. So here I was 1967, protesting the Viet Nam War. I was marching in circles outside the Federal Building. There was a woman marching in circles carrying a sign reading, “dirty, pinko commie, hippies.” She marched in circles and no one said anything to her. We were surrounded with police with batons in front of them. They closed in around us forcing us into a smaller and small circle. The back of the van was opened. The police formed two lines and we were thrown from one to police to another and into the van. One girl with long hair was pulled by her hair and thrown onto the floor of the van.


Taken to the police station we were brought out of the van the same way we entered. I was thrown against a wall with some force and ordered to remove my helmet. A policeman sneered asking if it was a “girl or boy?” It’s a girl I said back as I removed the helmet and looked into a pair of steely blue eyes – eyes with no mercy. The same eyes I had noticed on the policemen surrounding us outside. Eyes with flickering desire that were excited by the prospect of beating us senseless.

As I looked at him, I was overcome with a weird thought. “What is a nice girl like you, doing in a place like this?” The idea popped into my head and before I could censor myself I was laughing. It was an automatic reaction. I looked at the policeman and realized my mistake. He thought I was laughing at him. I saw his hand rise to backhand me. He was strong and I was probably going to end up on the ground. As his hand drew back to strike me, another policeman, a bit older, a bit wiser with more control, grabbed his wrist. He told him to stop, and said I was not worth the trouble.

Later I was sitting in jail I realized I had a rather nasty bruise in my groin that went from my groin to almost my knee. I also could not lift my arm. When I said I thought perhaps I should show it to a doctor, I was told “no” emphatically. I was told I would become a resident of the jail system until the bruise healed. These jail comrades had more experience than I. We were bailed out. My parents called. Being jailed was easier than the conversation with my parents as they realized my politics were changing. I had left the family fold of conservative Goldwater republicanism. I would never be the same no matter how they screamed or threatened. Life had changed. Because I had attended a speech by Martin Luther King two years previously I had changed.

This was only a small experience compared to so many other demonstrators who were tear gassed and beaten. After this demonstration came two demonstrations, one at a white college and one at a black college where students were killed. Everyone knew about the white school but no one remembers the black one. There were many other demonstrations until finally there were very few left. Few people left willing to stand up and say “NO” until yesterday.

And now this group that had been changed and radicalized in the sixties is waking up and no longer sleeping. We are influencing the young. We are creating change in the younger generation/ We of the sixties are now in our sixties and seventies and we have awakened. Our children are grown, our careers near an end and now we will no longer be silent.

Saturday, 21st of January 2017 women awoke. We woke out of our apathy and lethargy and said “no more”. It does not matter there were so many causes. All causes are one cause. All people one people. The demonstrations of my youth paved the way for the demonstrations of today. And Trump was the catalyst. Trump is the wake-up call. The Dawn of Humanity is here. Women will be silent no more. We will stand our ground. We will fight hard for the children of the world. These children are our children.

Women and Islam

Islam and Women – Tuesday,17 January 2017 at 11AM  tune in Listen Live to The Unfolding Self
Alia El Mohandes is a Policy and Gender Advisor for the Office of Civilian-Military Cooperation (CMC), within the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance. She is a career Foreign Service Officer with multiple overseas’ duty tours.
As the Senior Gender Advisor, she works to strengthen collaborative planning and operational coherence on Women, Peace and Security (WPS), Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (GEFE), Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and Countering Trafficking in Persons (CTIP) among other related policies between USAID and DoD to identify synergies and potential opportunities with DoD, providing guidance on policy decision-making to better align DoD sector programs and projects with USAID objectives.
Dr. El Mohandes joined USAID in 2000 and has experience in both Washington, D.C. and at the missions in Egypt, South Sudan, West Bank/Gaza, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Yemen and Afghanistan. Her last overseas’ posting was as the Senior Gender Advisor at the Afghanistan Mission to establish and manage the biggest agency Gender office to launch and oversee the largest USG’s investment for Women’s Empowerment by implementing the ‘Promote’ development project. Her background includes an in-depth Health sector experience inclusive of Gender and Social and Behavior Change programming for: family planning, reproductive health, maternal child health, nutrition, as well as, HIV/AIDS (PEPFAR), Malaria, TB, non-communicable diseases and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH). She has also guided the designs of more resilient programs for Education, Agriculture, micro- to medium economic growth development sectors utilizing cross-cutting programming for Youth with a focus on GEFE, GBV and CTIP.
In addition to USAID, she has 18 years’ experience with international NGOs promoting civil society and community mobilization in the Middle East. She has co-published two books on health programming and community outreach: 1) ‘Women and Their Health Issues in the Middle East’; and 2) ‘Strengthening the Skills of the Community Health Worker: A Thousand and One Stories from Arab Communities’.
Dr. El Mohandes has a Masters of Public Policy (MPA) from JFK School of Government, Harvard University with a focus on Leadership and Capacity Building. She is a graduate from the School of Medicine, Assuit University, Egypt.
Join us on The Unfolding Self with your host Dr. Anna K brought to you through
www.bbmglobal at 11AM. Click on the link and go to Listen Live

Doran Hamm……

Doran Hamm was born and raised in Brattleboro, VT to a lovely hippie couple who raised him surrounded by art, music and theater. Through his parents he was exposed to many spiritual traditions. Bitten with the desire to know and to experience he took his first international travel trip at the age of twenty. This first trip lasted several months. He has since lived in Italy, Australia, Thailand, India and the Caribbean. He has taught children’s theater in six countries. He started meditation at the age of eighteen. Meditation is a major component of his life and inspired Doran to become involved in the world of healing and massage. He has just returned from a trip to study massage and where he engaged in children’s theater. In part, this trip was funded by GoFundMe. Doran has volunteered his talents in a wide variety of countries. He will share with us how he became involved at such a young age, and what continues to motivates him not only to explore his inner but also his outer world.

Join us on this fascinating journey with Doran at at

11 AM EST on Tuesday, 10 January 2017. Once again The Unfolding Self with your host Dr. Anna K brings you fascinating individuals who work to bring clarity and wisdom to others

Restorative Justice

We will learn more about the topic of Restorative Justice. This is not a new concept. Wonshe tells us it is part of Early American, Native American tradition. It is used in Rwanda as the “gechacha” courts to in part deal with the aftermath of the genocide there.

Wonshe is a Spiritual Midwife. She offers guidance and direction throughout life’s continuum. Also, as s a restorative justice practitioner she works to restore balance when harm is done. She sees herself as a weaver of life.

She brings a unique perspective to her art in that prior to earning two academic degrees, she studied oral traditions with Seneca and Iroquois elders and learned to to facilitate traditional talking circles. Wonshe has served as a midwife and had a busy midwifery practice on the Shenandoah Valley prior to moving to Colorado where she developed a restorative justice practice.

In addition to being a midwife, she has worked with homeless individuals, adults with cognitive disabilities, prisoners and others populations. Currently she works as the Congregational Life Coordinator for the Harrisonburg Unitarian Universalist Church and focuses on criminal justice reform and justice reinvestment in the Harrisonburg, community.

Tune in to “The Evolving Self” with your host Dr. Anna K brought to you through at 11am EST on Tuesday.  Just click the blue link and go to “listen Live.” If you cannot listen then, tune in later:  look for the search icon and type in “The Unfolding Self” and you will fin my picture; at the top of the picture is the word “comments” – click this; comments will come up but also previous shows will also be available for listening. All os them are there, except for the very last one completed the Tuesday before Christmas. If you have problems, let me know. Leave a comment, it would be appreciated

1950’s revisited??

My mind wandered and I was only half paying attention to the teacher. I usually found the fourth grade boring, often playing with a gold necklace I had that was normally tied in knots. I would sit and untangle it or I would draw pictures of people being carried about by propeller blades to their backs. If I could manage it, I propped a book behind the textbook, reading while listening to the teacher drone on about something or other.

Today she was speaking about how about what a wonderful country was America. She spoke about how lucky we all were to be born here. It was the fifties in and all of the teachers had signed a loyalty oath. McCarthy (Joseph that was) was extremely powerful and foreigners were not well received. People were pulled from their home, in the middle of the night, on suspicion of being communists. This was the big word of the day.

Often the school day was interrupted with sirens. We children were taught to curl up in a ball under our desks and to wait for the all clear. Even at home, I learned to hide in the closet. I did it because teacher said so. I would race to the closet, hide in the back, behind my mother’s clothes and wait for the all clear. As I remember, the television, the movies were all filled with propaganda about how dangerous the communists were to our great country.

On this day, as the teacher continued to speak, my mind wandered until I heard her say, “All Americans are superior to those born in foreign countries.” My mind became sharp and alert. What was she talking about? My parents were born in a foreign country. Did this mean I was superior to my parents? Only one way to find out. The teacher knew all. I would ask.

I raised my hand. As I raised my hand waiting calmly for her to recognize me. Well, maybe not so calmly as I remember my hand being quite excited. “Teacher, my parents were born in a foreign country. Does this mean I am superior to them?”

The Teacher looked at me and, ever so calmly turned to me and said, “Yes, it does. You are superior to your parents, because you were born here and they were not.”

Later that day, when I arrived home, I remember telling my mother about what the teacher had said. I do not remember her reaction. However, I do remember her not being very impressed by the teacher’s response. My patents had learned a long time ago, to never question authority. I do not believe they questioned it then either. However, I do remember my mother being very proud of her Phoenician/ Lebanese ancestry. The words used for white people, for Americans, were not flattering. Perhaps that day when I came home she did not say anything negative but I often remember hearing phrases like “Americans, they do not even know who their own parents are.”


The Nature of Forgiveness

I was angry with my friend:

I told my wrath, my wrath did end.

I was angry with my foe:


I told it not, my wrath did grow.

And I watered it in fears,

Night and morning with my tears;

And I sunned it with smiles,

And with soft deceitful wiles.


And it grew both day and night,

Till it bore an apple bright.

And my foe beheld it shine.

And he knew that it was mine,


And into my garden stole

When the night had veiled the pole;

In the morning glad I see

My foe outstretched beneath the tree.


William Blake


I have many stories from my years overseas, but I thought I would share an essential experience from my past that shaped my future. It shaped my self-understanding, my flexibility, and my ability to be nonjudgmental.

As I thought about the nature of forgiveness I thought about my own struggles with this. Many years ago when I first thought about the necessity of forgiving the abuse I experienced, I thought I needed to forget it. Sheer willpower did not work so I simply ignored the pain. Little did I realize it was growing strong within me and expressing itself as anger and defensiveness towards the world? At one point during a group healing session, when I was in graduate school, I was able to cry. The crying went beyond simple tears but became what Oprah has referred to as the “ugly cry”. Given I rarely cry on the outside, and prior to this, never in front of anyone, this was an unusual breakthrough for me. The process of healing began. It was after this experience understanding began. I was able to understand why my mother did what she did. I thought about what it would mean if I had been married at fifteen to a man twenty years my senior; someone I did not meet until the day I was married. In fact, she did meet him once, and her reaction was “she pitied the woman who married him, because he had a flat head. In the day my father was born, they tied babies to boards so their backs would be straight, but it made their heads flat. I wondered what I would be like if I was taken from the homeland I deeply loved, and forced to live in a country I hated. I wondered what my own anger level would be. Through understanding, came compassion. I was once told I could not have forgiven my mother because I still speak about what happened. I realized many years ago that although I have forgiven my mother, I have not forgotten what happened. The difference is, it no longer has a hold on my emotions. If something happens in my life now that triggers a past memory, I can recognize it and move on.

However, the biggest accomplishment is the ability to forgive myself my own anger, and my own feelings of hatred or vengeance. This is the harder journey. It is easier to understand, to feel compassion for someone else, whether my mother, a friend or someone else who has wronged me than it is for myself. Part of this is pride, part of this is feeling how can I forgive myself, as I am not worthy of my own forgiveness. It is said, before we judge we need to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. I believe before we judge we need to see clearly the shoes we use for walking.

Forgiveness comes from compassion that comes from understanding, which comes from experience. There is a saying; one of the four agreements, expressed by Don Miquel Ruiz, is to never take anything personally, as nothing that is done to you is meant for you.

“Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of misunderstanding.” Don Miquel Ruiz

Strange is it not. Hard not to take it personally when someone is beating you with a belt, or a wooden spoon, or telling you how much she hates you. It feels very personal at the time. However, I remember my mother saying to me, in the middle of one of these sessions: “I do this to you because you are strong. You can take it.”

And it wasn’t me she was beating or berating. She was beating the father who beat her. She was beating the father and Uncle who married her off at a ridiculous young age. She was beating herself for her powerlessness to speak or to have a say in her life. And she was beating the mother who could not protect her. And most of all, she was beating my own father who brought her to this land, separating her from her home, her family, and most of all from the boy she loved. My father, before he died, asked my mother’s forgiveness for this, as he realized she was too young.

I learned to forgive her, and through this forgiveness, I learned understanding and compassion for myself. I learned to forgive myself. The beatings stopped when I was about thirteen. They stopped the day she chased me up the stairs, and I turned on the stairs to her, and said, “If you come up one more stair, I will knock you backwards down the steps.” I did not care if I killed her. I had become cold inside. Consequences did not matter. I only wanted her to stop. On that day she turned to emotional abuse. I learned how to listen, and not listen. I paid her words no heed, but they still hurt, and this was another path for forgiveness.

On that day I learned never to judge another person. I saw within myself the capacity for murder. I had dreams of murdering my whole family. I saw myself with the knife, the knife with the blood of everyone in my family on it.

Through this experience I came to realize the connectedness of all life. I realized we were all capable of murder, given the right circumstances. Neale Donald Walsch states there is no need for forgiveness, as there is no right or wrong. We all see the world according to the reality we experience. We all play our part. We are all one. We all participate in the creation of reality. I once, may years ago, told a college class that no dictator, i.e. Hitler, could exist, unless he existed within the people. Jung referred to this as our Shadow side. It is the part of us we refuse to face because it is so painful. But this refusal leads to its dominance of our actions. It is only when we face the shadow we can change it, work with it, and make gold out of it. I use the analogy of being in a dark roomful of rattlesnakes. It is only when the light is turned on, that we can learn how to move around and avoid them.

Forgiveness is more for ourselves, than for the other person. It actually matters little whether someone else forgives us, if we can truly forgive ourselves. It takes considerable energy to block forgiveness and this keeps us from advancing spiritually. As long as we refuse forgiveness, we refuse our true nature, which is Compassion, with a capital “C”, a Divine essence.

We cannot control another’s response; we can only control our own response to another’s behavior towards us. And know it or not, justified or not (this is not the question here), we are all engaged in a dance. It is often extremely difficult to understand the dance we engage in, because our vision, our perception is limited, but there is a dance. And I need to forgive myself, my part in this dance. I need never to see the other person again, if I so choose but I need not to allow my own lack of forgiveness to be the poison apple within my soul. I bring peace within myself when I can forgive both the other person and myself.

There is the story of a healer who worked in the Philippines in a hospital for the mentally ill. He practiced a type of healing where he never talked with the patient but was seen to take the file of the patient and to hold it. He was heard to say, “I am sorry, please forgive me, I love you.” He understood the part we each play in the other’s pain. He prayed this prayer constantly. Within some months the hospital was empty. The patients had all been healed of their illness. He recognizes the oneness of all creation. We are intertwined and, like it or not we are all one. This is not a truth for convenience or when it suits us. It is a Truth that when we accept it, and recognize it brings inner Peace and Healing.

Brain wave studies have shown a remarkable change in the brain through forgiveness. Forgiveness brings us into the Alpha wave stage, which is the wavelength of meditators. It can also achieve Delta stage, achieved by only the most advanced of meditators. The state of self-forgiveness and compassion for self and others brings a change that moves outward to others.


Rumi says:

“Out beyond ideas of right doing and wrong doing, there is a field. I will meet you there.”

The Unfolding Self

Next week The Unfolding Self with your host, Dr. Anna K presents Dawn Curtis.
Dawn is a full time therapeutic yoga teacher (E-RYT 500) with 25 years of yoga experience, with experience in private yoga yoga sessions and group classes in Washington/Metro area, and is the proprietress of East Meets West Yoga Center. Dawn’s therapeutic background includes Yoga of Recovery, Trauma Sensitive Yoga, Yoga for Depression & Anxiety, Therapeutic Yoga for Seniors through Duke Integrative Medicine, Yoga of the Heart (Cardiac and Cancer) Therapeutic Yoga, and is a certified Ayurvedic Yoga Specialist. Dawn is currently continuing her direction of yoga therapy studies with Comprehensive Yoga Therapy with the YogaLife Institute in PA.
Dawn has been leading Yoga Teacher Trainings since 2010 and co-leads the 200 and 500 hour, and prenatal Teacher Trainings (RPYT) at East Meets West Yoga Center. Dawn is a member of Yoga Alliance (YA), KRI, IAYT, and NAMA.
Mark your calendars for 29 November at 11 AM on
Looking forward to having you tune in.

The Unfolding Self

This Tuesday at 11AM EST, Judy Higgins, author of The Lady will be a guest on “The Unfolding Self” brought to you through the and Tune-In radio. The Lady was a finalist in the 2012 Amazon Breakout Contest. Ms. Higgins did not decide to start writing until she finished her first career as a children’s librarian. Ms. Higgins will share with us how she cam not write this novel, and what she plans to do next. Don’t forget to join us.

Join us at at 11am EST. Click on “Listen Live”  See you there