Releasing the Force mission.

If your heart is breaking over what is going on in our country, Releasing the Force will help you to face and feel and endure and master that pain – and then use that pain as motivation to do something new. It will help you find that something new.  And it will help you to do it.
If you are acting out of anger and fear, no matter how hard you work your actions will not lead to good outcomes.  You need to get under the anger and fear and act from your heart.  That requires confronting your pain.  You cannot do that without enough support.  Releasing the Force will support you and will help you find additional support.

Buncombe County Democratic Party meet the candidates event at the Salvage Station

On Wednesday Sept 12th from 5:30 to 7:30 the Buncombe County Democratic Party is holding a meet the candidates event at the Salvage Station on Riverside Drive.
Most of the Democratic candidates on the will be there.Quentin+and+Karen+image (2)
Quentin Miller for Sheriff (with Karen Miller)
Please pass this on to your Democratic friends (and non-affiliated friends)  There will be entertainment.
I will provide more information as we get closer to event date.
Thanks.  I hope to see you all there.
Kerry Levin
239-671-9949 (cell)
7 Grace Ave
Asheville, NC 28804

Volunteer Opportunities For David Wilson Brown

Dear exceptional volunteers,

You talked and we listened. Some of you don’t like to do phone banking, but are still eager to help David Wilson Brown defeat Patrick McHenry. Here are some different and important ways you can help the campaign.

We are putting together “Event Teams” in each of the 8 counties in District 10. We need help with event planning, prep, set up and take down. Some events will be very low maintenance; others will be complex with a lot of moving parts. Remember, you’ll be working with a team to complete the tasks.

Here are the types of tasks that could be involved:

  • Participate in planning calls/emails
  • Pick up food/beverages and set up at event
  • Pick up/set up chairs, equipment
  • Last minute errands
  • Pick up and distribute campaign materials, i.e., yard signs, flyers, registration forms, etc.
  • Set up registration table(s)
  • Register attendees
  • Assist David
  • Clean up/take down after the eventIMG_6476BB_trimmed-e1512665843441

We have another opportunity that involves staffing campaign offices in Asheville and Gastonia. You would assist visitors/volunteers and have some light administrative tasks. We need 3 shifts per week in each office. 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Our Asheville office is located at the Buncombe County Democratic Party Headquarters and they have office staff scheduled at those same times.  We will probably add shifts as we get closer to the election.

Please reply to this email with the following info:

  • Name
  • Email address
  • Phone Number
  • Events, staffing campaign offices or both
  • County (Cleveland, Gaston, Lincoln, Polk, Rutherford, Catawba, Iredell, or Buncombe)

Thanks for your energy, your enthusiasm and your commitment. You’re the best!

with Toni 7-15 White Horse2default

Beth Jezek

Volunteer Coordinator

David Wilson Brown Campaign


Hugs 101

Physical support like hugging can sustain us through the long haul – but touch can be very tricky and sometimes oppressive.  We are learning this in our society more and more.  I can’t shake the image of that creepy young guy in the Access Hollywood tapes telling the young actress “How about a hug for the Donald?”  Hugs aren’t always innocent.

This talk that I gave at Jubilee last Sunday outlines three principles for keeping them sweet and safe.

Progressive Dem’s interview candidates

Primary election May 8!

On Monday night, the Progressive Democrats of Buncombe County interviewed all four candidates for the U.S. House in the NC 10th and 11th districts

The meeting was very well attended – maybe 200 people.  For me that evening, rather than celebrating the big crowd I got kind of intimidated by it.  The building – headquarters for the Buncombe County Democratic Party – was not new to me: I had been there several times during Barack’s last campaign.  But I had never been to a meeting of either the Democratic Party or the Progressive Democrats and I suspected, correctly, that I would mostly be among strangers.  It turned out, though, that I very much enjoyed the meeting and have penciled the regular monthly meetings (second Monday) in my book – and plan to go back.

Here are my take-aways from the evening.

  1. The Progressive Dems run a pretty tight ship.
    1. The meeting started on time and was well run.
    2. They videotaped the meeting, live streamed it, and had the video up on their web page by the time I got home.  The video guy had told me that the visuals were really choppy for the first half of the session (a “bandwidth problem”) – and they must have decided that the technical quality was too bad, because the video has been removed – replaced by really a pretty good article on the meeting from the Citizen Times.
      Progressive Dems - Citizen Times
      “Democrats debate who can defeat Mark Meadows in 11th Congressional District” Asheville Citizen-Times, 4/10/18.  From left to right: David Wilson Brown (10), Phillip Price (11), Scott Donaldson (11), Steve Woodsmall (11)



  2. All four candidates are really very good: smart, articulate, good values and good politics.  I would proudly work for any of them.

    No matter what people say about these districts being hard for a Democrat to win, I think it’s a new day and those old bits of conventional wisdom no longer apply.  I think that David Brown in going to beat Patrick McHenry in the 10th district and whoever from the other three wins the primary on May 8th is going to beat Mark Meadows in the 11th district.

  3. Gun Control

    These four all have good positions about gun control.  I think that in the November elections gun control and the NRA are going to weigh down Republicans across the country – and flush a lot of them out of the Congress.

  4. I don’t know yet who I am going to work for.  I’m planning to go to two more Indivisible “vetting sessions”:
    1. this Thursday, 6:30, David Brown at the Lord Auditorium of Pack Library downtown
    2. This Saturday, 10:30-12 – all candidates invited in Weaverville.  I’m in an Internal Family Systems (IFS) workshop on Friday and Saturday and will be missing this meeting.
    3. 4/19, 6:30 – Phillip Price at Pack Library.

Whoever I work for, I intend to get to know them (I felt like I knew Barack, but we didn’t like hang out or anything) and work really hard for them.  I’m totally jazzed about this whole thing.


Why I need a candidate

In my page “Steve Woodsmall for Congress” I write about why Steve is my candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives NC District 11.  Please read on even if this isn’t your district (it’s not mine) and you won’t get to vote for Steve (I won’t).

Until the last couple of weeks, I had been thinking that this blog and my proposed three other Releasing the Force programs (described in Pages 1-3 at the top of the blog) were plenty of political commitment and that – aside from voting and maybe posting some stuff on Facebook – I might not get involved in the electoral process this time around.  I thought I might even keep this blog focused on the inner game of activism and not declare for any candidates.  Silly boy.

Actually a number of factors have coincided to get me being more political – and more openly  so.

  • Releasing the Force programs are not unfolding the way I intended.
    • This blog is the core Releasing the Force program and I remain fully committed to it.  I hear from some of its readers that it is really valuable to them – maybe even that my posts make their day.  I need to get it in front of more people, but there are tools for that like SEO (search engine optimization).
    • The first face-to-face program I have launched – four weekly meetings of the Releasing the Force Conversation Series multiple Jedi– has been poorly attended to say the least (three people, zero, one, one…for the last two meetings Kerry and I adjourned to the Jack of the Wood bar next door, which really worked great).  I need to rethink this Conversation Series option, and the following three programs which would require more commitment than this one.
  • One of the many ways that the Parkland school shooting survivors and their March for Our Lives movement
    Eloquent – and maligned – Parkland survivors Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg

    have reached me has been their insistence that, as they reach the age of 18, they are going to vote in vast numbers and change the electoral dynamic – and their loud, clear chant of “Vote them out!”  All of this has touched and inspired me deeply and I am seeing this movement as the vanguard of our progressive agenda – so how could I, aside from voting, sit the electoral process out?  I’ve got to be in there.

  • A week from now I will – if I have successfully negotiated a payment plan – be attending a two-day workshop in a psychotherapy approach called “Internal Family Systems” (IFS).  I have some very close friends from my days back in Chicago who are advanced trainers in this stuff and one of them, Kay Gardner,
    Kay G
    Kay Gardner and little Chloe – this must have been taken right when we were first becoming friends, 15 years ago.  Lots of sweet memories.

    is now the lead IFS trainer and will be here in Asheville facilitating the workshop.  I gotta get some time with her, but she just doesn’t have any time free while she’s here – so I’m planning to go to the workshop.  There are potential snags in that plan, including the price tag and that I no longer am a psychotherapist, but maybe the biggest hazard surfaced in a different personal growth session this last Wednesday.

    Dick Schwartz
    Dick Schwartz, creator of IFS

    15 years ago, I went to the only other IFS workshop I have attended (I did see an IFS therapist for my own therapy every week for a year).  I don’t have any memories of that Saturday-Sunday workshop, besides that it was facilitated by the guy himself – Dick Schwartz, the Chicagoan who developed IFS – and included Kay and a couple others of my friends.

    And that I went home Sunday night and attempted to kill myself.  I had actually been planning this for weeks, and had stockpiled the tools for this particular approach to suffocation.  But for some reason I picked this particular moment to implement the plan – which obviously, miraculously, didn’t work.

    For some reason or reasons, in the intervening 15 years I have never – before Wednesday – asked myself “Why then?  What was it about that workshop that caused me to take this so-drastic action?”  And Wednesday morning the answer seemed pretty clear – and still does.

    I was totally desperate.  In the throes of my bipolar depression, my work had totally slipped away from me.  My organization development management consulting career had failed after a lot of success.  I was receiving no more offers for diversity consulting or outplacement career coaching – and was too depressed to go looking for any of this work.  For several of my friends, IFS was now the thing.  It seemed to get them up in the morning and to give them a sense of meaning.  Why not me too?  I was desperate.

    And it didn’t happen.  I don’t remember what did happen at the workshop, but I’m pretty sure I came away with IFS not really hitting it for me.  I don’t remember having critical judgments of that form of therapy, it just didn’t connect with me – I couldn’t picture myself being an IFS therapist.  So my hopelessness just flowed up over the top.

    I’ll be attending this IFS workshop – if it works for me to attend it – with once again a gaping hole in my work, the meaning I contribute in the world.  I just don’t know – aside from this blog – what is the future of my Releasing the Force work.  Three weeks ago I would have referred to the four programs I have outlined in the Pages of this blog as the direction of “my work”, but now I don’t know about any of that.

    So Wednesday I was asking myself, “How do I even keep myself safe at this workshop?” (I haven’t been suicidal for about six years, but still even remembering it feels scary.)  I came up with this guidance (actually along with some other threads of guidance): “Go to work on a campaign”.  It wasn’t clear what campaign – no politician came immediately to mind (Hilary is gone, Oprah has not declared, but I also need a candidate for now, this November’s election).

So why Steve Woodsmall, who isn’t even in my district?  Actually, because of the way our area has been gerrymandered by the Republicans to keep the liberal Democratic hub of Asheville from electing a representative, both of these districts have a lot of Asheville.  But I haven’t even seen or heard from the two other candidates from Steve’s District 11 or the one guy for my District 10.  So obviously this choice of Steve could change – but I don’t think so.

Steve thinks (in my head) right to me.  He was more real than polished, though he actually was also quite poised.  He did not say one thing in that hour-plus Q&A session that I didn’t like.  He was clearly smart and very up-to-date and thoughtful with the issues.  I trust him.  He connected perfectly with my dog.

Steve Woodsmall
Steve Woodsmall and my Toni.  She charms almost everybody, but he clearly knows how to be with dogs – and their masters.  “Is it OK if I pick her up?”

And two hours ago I explored his website a little and gave him $25 – that pretty well seals it.  I’ll go to the other vetting sessions, but I can’t picture changing my mind.  To read more about Steve click here.

I gotta (swing) dance – and change the world.

Social activism is continual empowerment training.  Said another way, we are continually encountering the hopelessness that has accumulated in us through the years.

  • “The deck is stacked: the military-industrial complex has all the money and all the power.”
  • “The Republicans have both houses of Congress and the Executive Branch – and they are packing the judiciary.”
  • “The Republican congress is in the hip pocket of the NRA, which is too powerful and too rich for them to resist.”

So what do we do?  Lay down and die?

We could line up the counter-arguments:

  • The Marjorie Stoneman Douglas students and the gun control movement they are building
  • All the Democrats who are winning in previously red districts (Conor Lamb yesterday in Philadelphia)

    Conor Lamb
    Conor Lamb, Pittsburgh’s boy next door.  No great progressive, but the right profile to elect a Democrat in his red district – and maybe Democrat enough to do some good.
  • In November we take back the House and impeach Trump.
  • In 2020 more gains for Democrats
  • The Mueller probe!

But even more than comparing the pluses with the negatives, we can learn to not despair.  We can practice holding on to hope in the face of difficulty.

It can really help to practice this hope process in some life area that is less heavy than gun violence.  I pick swing dancing.

14 years ago, I took my first and only (before tonight) swing dance lesson.  I came away in total despair: “I will never learn how to do this.”  And that’s where I have stayed for 14 years.  “I can do free-form improv dancing – with some grace and a lot of enthusiasm – but I cannot learn steps.”

So why am I out here tonight attempting again to learn swing dancing?  Because my friend Whitney Moore – one of the very best vocalists in Asheville – has a new band that plays swing music, playing here tonight.  Queen Bee (Whitney Moore) and the Honey Lovers – video of three sweet tracks. Because “here” is THE BLOCK off biltmore – the sweetest bar in town, owned by Cam MacQueen, one of the sweetest women in town, a long time fierce progressive who (with her club) supports all manner of progressive causes.

THE BLOCK off biltmore – one sweet club, where progressives hang out

Oh, and something more: some part of me can no longer deny that I have always found (from the sidelines) swing dancing to be very sweet and have always really wished I knew how to do it.

swing dancing
Swing dancing: West Coast swing? the Lindy hop? I dunno.

At the club tonight, there are two one-hour swing lessons before the band plays.  I put down my money for both lessons and the band.  An hour later, I stagger out from the back room – where the dancing happens – having had a few magic moments at the first lesson where some basic moves fell into place… and many more moments where the inner sound track ran “I told you you can never learn this, fool – leave and never come back.”

I didn’t leave.  I decided to sit out the second lesson, because my brain is spent.  Out in the bar, Cam tells me that the first lesson – the one I just took – was actually an intermediate lesson, so I rush back into the back room to try the “beginners” lesson, but still can’t do it and quickly come back out.

Now the band is playing, Whitney is gorgeous and brilliant, her musicians are smokin’.  The dancers are fabulous – some very accomplished, some beginners trying out their few new steps.  They all look beautiful and very alive.  I could almost be out there – someday.  Right now I literally know nothing.  But some day.

I will come back.  I will take one and maybe some weeks two lessons. I will learn from YouTube in between Tuesday nights: the Lindy hop, apparently also called the 8-count swing.  I will stare down my despair: for 14 years I have been telling myself I can’t do this, but maybe that’s been a cruel hoax – no longer true.

Oh, and I also want gun control.  For so long it has looked like the NRA has all the power.  But what if things have changed?  What if this moment belongs to the Parkland kids – and high school kids all over the country, who are today walking out of their classes to protest for gun control?

student gun control school walkouts today
Student gun control school walkout today!

And their parents and all of us who believe that something new can happen.

Maybe if we dance enough.