Spring 2014 News


Staying on Your STAR Path: Handling Big Feelings

Alice Rathjen Reflects on her STAR Retreat Experience

STAR Retreat Staff Focus: Bill Williams and Dana Hickman Williams

Barbara’s Corner

STAR Retreat Facilitator Certification Program

STAR Retreat Grads Shine: Susan Highsmith

The STAR Community: A Veteran’s Perspective

Poem: For Joel at 94


Staying on Your STAR Path: Handling Big Feelings
By Marti Glenn, Co-Director

Ever have big feelings that seemingly come out of nowhere? Often we get angry about something, someone hurts our feelings, or we just “lose it.” And, upon reflection, the feelings may seem much bigger than the situation would call for.

That happened to me recently. I’m sitting in a small art class with two of my best friends at our local craft store when, out of nowhere, I begin to feel frustrated, helpless and overwhelmed. We had arrived a bit late, I didn’t have the right materials, my friends were accomplished artists and I wasn’t “getting it”. I watched myself almost begin to cry. I took a breath and settled myself and suddenly realized I was feeling about 10 years old. It seemed that everyone else had the right “stuff,” knew what to do, and I didn’t. I felt like an outsider. YIKES! That was a surprise. That kind of situation was not unusual when I was 10, yet, out of nowhere, I was feeling it again. As I realized what was happening, I took a breath, looked up and my friend Linda smiled and handed me some materials and showed me a trick. Voile! I was back on track.

In our everyday lives when we have big feelings, only a small portion is related to the current person or situation and most of it is directly related to early experiences and our early mental models or belief structures. In my case, as a Little One, I believed I wasn’t smart. And, there were many times when that got reflected back to me. So my unconscious strategy to get my needs met in my family, and elsewhere in my life, was to meet other people’s needs and ignore my own. As you can imagine, that didn’t work out well in adult relationships so I had to work on changing my internal beliefs about myself and my strategy for being in the world.

The next time you experience big feelings, see if you can take a deep breath, resource yourself by moving, getting a drink of water or taking a time out. Later you can work with the situation, discover what unconscious mental model might underlie it and begin to change it. Download the worksheet to discover your early belief structures. Discovering Our Mental Models, Core Beliefs, and Essence Statement

This process literally changes your brain. Dr. Daniel Siegel tells us that one experience can change the brain and, “change your brain, change your life!” We are now working with these skills and tools at STAR to discover and change those early belief structures. As you experience what is possible you can easily move into the life you want and the love you deserve. Think about joining us for an upcoming STAR Retreat and/or sending someone you love so that they can step into the fullness of who they really are and enjoy a more satisfying life. Call today for more details. Contact Us


Alice Rathjen Reflects on Her STAR© Retreat Experience

It's been a handful of years since my last STAR and I'm amazed at what a lasting, positive impact it's had. I’m fairly certain STAR rewired my brain! My life after STAR has included far more ease and enjoyment.  

In my case I had one difficult parent and my other parent died when I was young. My adaptations to these challenges resulted in some habitual responses that proved limiting over time. 

There are some thresholds in life we can't cross on our own. We need an experience of resonance with another human being for our brains to make certain types of new connections that are then forever accessible in our hearts. 

STAR provided me a whole new set of tools for making decisions, learning how to listen and be present in life. I'm very grateful for the highly skilled staff and inspiring participants that were part of my STAR experience.


STAR Retreat Staff Focus: Bill Williams and Dana Hickman Williams

Bill Williams’ Company Wins National Community Service Award

STAR Foundation Board member and regular STAR facilitator, along with his wife Dana, have blessed STAR for many years with their presence and their gifts of service. We are thrilled that some of their other community service has received national recognition.

In February The Comfort Group was awarded the Associated Builders and Contractors Pyramid Award for Community Service for their work with a nearby community center’s Community Garden.

After working for a year to develop relationships with the staff of the Coleman Park Community Center, they were allowed in 2013 to begin working toward their goal of developing a working community garden to be utilized by the children who frequent the community center. The Comfort Group provided financial support, materials, labor, and gardening expertise to plan, install physical structures, plant, maintain, and harvest the gardens. Coleman Park is located close to the company’s offices, which are in the neighborhood where Bill grew up.

The seed for this project was planted when Bill and his wife Dana visited their friend Grace, and learned about her work as the Community Garden Coordinator for the LSU Agriculture Extension Service in Shreveport, Louisiana where Grace makes her home. A long time organic gardener, Grace knew the gardening part. More importantly, she recognized that the critical and more difficult part of a successful community garden was developing community.

Bill and Dana toured the showpiece of her work, a three year old community garden located at a community center. They were blown away by the confidence, initiative, and presence demonstrated by four young men, ages 12 to 16, and recognized that these four lives and more had been forever changed for the better through their experience in this garden. The planning, planting, tending, and harvesting a garden; preparing and eating the food they had grown; selling their extra produce to a local restaurant and to local residents through their farmer’s market; as well as the public speaking and recognition that the media attention to this project brought. And they wanted to bring this rich experience to more young people.

Community gardening with children is what Bill calls a “head fake.” It seems to be about the garden. But while the kids are going about the business of the garden, they are learning about responsibility, teamwork, the rewards of nurturing something alive, measuring and cooking, nutrition, where food comes from, and the rewards of seeing a project through from start to finish.

The Comfort Group is already working on this year’s garden prep, and is on the lookout for more opportunities to spread the gifts of gardening to more and more people.

Bill summed it up in this way, “The idea of connecting with children through gardens blew me away from the first time Grace shared her story with Dana and me. It is such a simple and loving way to do something that could truly make a difference in the lives of these children.”


Barbara’s Corner

Dear STAR Family Members,

Since retiring from the STAR Foundation, I have been on an exciting, busier than ever, adventure. There are a plethora of avenues to explore and experience, and ways to expand your consciousness. I wanted to create ways to have a larger awareness of humanity and ways I could continue to be of service.

For example, after 40 years of participating in STAR and finding peace and blessings from my individual journey from the womb to being a Grandmother, a series of events and people caught my attention—ordinary subjects everyone "knows " about, but not really, which include culture and ancestry (not ordinary genealogy). It started with an email. Over the years I have had clients who spontaneously felt what their mothers had experienced as children. The most common feelings were shared by clients who were children of parents who had lived through the holocaust as children themselves. I began to ask, were influences from the culture, even the politics, of our grandparents and great grandparents having any impact on us now? Another email brought to my attention the different ways people have been raised in diverse areas in the United States. I began to see that even how a person's ancestors lived before they emigrated, trickled down three, four, and five generations to 21st century lives—same culture, different circumstances. Do we need a STAR that focuses on grandparents and their parents?

Another piece in the adventure arrived when I received yet another email from a scientific journal with an article titled Phobias: there is evidence now that memories can be passed down genetically from our ANCESTORS. Maybe my becoming a pipe carrier stemmed from my Native American ancestor's genes!

So if anyone reading this is avoiding retirement, go for it. It is merely an opportunity for doors to open to a fascinating supermarket of new learning, people to meet, and places to explore—not just in traditional sites like Europe, but, in your mind. Doing STAR makes the baggage you carry lighter.

In three days I will be at the United Nations with friends and colleagues participating in discussions about prenatal and perinatal psychology—another great adventure!


Facilitator Certification Program Continues at STAR
By Ken Bruer, Co-Director

Honoring our past and continuing to evolve is a hallmark at STAR. We just completed our second STAR Retreat Facilitator Certification and are very pleased with all we were able to accomplish in a short time. Engaging in two teleconference classes prior to meeting in person at the Ranch allowed us to focus on applications of the latest research in affective neuroscience, mindfulness practices, attachment theory, and trauma treatment. Being together in person enabled us to engage and strengthen ourselves as a loving community, to practice new skills, and vision for the future of STAR Retreats.

Marti and I were touched by the feedback from facilitators and would like to share a bit of it with you.

 “I left feeling wonderfully invigorated and very excited about the future of STAR, as well as my involvement going forward.”

“The opportunity to put theory into practice with such positive results was wonderful.”

“I loved being part of groups bringing new ideas for future direction.”

“I appreciated the ways that we were included in the process rather than being told what is good/bad or right/wrong.”

It was delightful having so many facilitators from last year return for more. Their presence and participation deepened the experience for everyone. We look forward to having this be one way in which we keep the interest and momentum for ongoing growth and development alive and on the right track.


STAR Retreat Grads Shine: Susan Highsmith, PhD

The Renaissance of Birth

We are so pleased to announce Susan Highsmith’s new book, The Renaissance of Birth, is being published this spring. Susan is one of our regular facilitators at STAR and we are excited to share this news with you.

Giving birth is a co-creative process, one in which each mother, father, new being, and even all those who project their thoughts, feeling, and expectations into the energy field that encompasses the childbearing family play a role in setting the stage for a new life to develop in a an atmosphere of love—or of fear.

Anyone born in the last century was most likely subjected to the technological model of birth that dominates our culture. If you would like to understand your origins better, and the influences that shaped your beliefs, your attitudes, and your sense of self, The Renaissance of Birth will enhance your understanding. It calls for a new paradigm to reclaim the art, the science, and the spirit of giving birth, honoring mothers, fathers, and their precious babies as co-creators who will shape not just personal worlds, but a world order that reflects peace and harmony—from the beginning.

To pre-order The Renaissance of Birth contact:

Inkwell Productions
19864 N. Scottsdale Road #103-128
Scottsdale, AZ. 85354-5280


The STAR Retreat Community: A Veteran’s Perspective on the Leadership Transition
By Diana Barrett, Administrative Director

Since there is not much to report administratively, I thought some comments on the transition to the new leadership might be worthwhile. I believe most of you know me either from Pocket Ranch (California) days (1986-1996) or since then as the person you first contacted about STAR® when you called to ask questions and/or sign up. Actually I have been working with the STAR Foundation in some capacity since I did my own STAR in 1977.

I have observed the evolution of the program that we all hold so dear through the years. Barbara lovingly shepherded STAR through many changes and embellishments. Her primary concern was always for the participant, making sure each person had the personal support and opportunities to allow optimum personal discovery and transformation. Most recently she carefully selected the individuals she would charge with carrying on with her mission.

Over the last year I have witnessed the transition from Barbara to Marti Glenn and Ken Bruer. Marti and Ken clearly honor Barbara as they carry on with the work of STAR. Their leadership fits what Barbara carefully honed like a glove. I see both participants and staff thriving in their milieu. They truly carry on in her tradition.

For any of you waiting to refer friends or family, or perhaps come back yourself, until you found out how the transition was going, I assure you it is going very well. Anyone coming to a STAR Retreat will experience an amazing caring relationship that supports them through their process—always a hallmark of our program. Here are some recent enhancements due to Ken and Marti:

  • A greater emphasis on “change your brain/change your life”
  • An art therapist, emphasizing process (not product) art
  • Mindfulness practices
  • A facilitator that specializes in young (late teens/early twenties) participants
  • A men’s group that meets a couple of times a day
  • Enhancement of program tailoring for graduates

I close with a quote from a January 2014 participant regarding her STAR Retreat:

- It has been a profound experience and has given me strength that I need to become a healthy woman and has given me a full heart & head. It has given me contact with my Essence and Wise Adult that will be my guiding light. It has given me some very deep connection and I am truly grateful.
Thank you.


Poem: For Joel at 94

Hear the poem:

They say that miners in South America

strap small lamps around their chest, that

this works better than the light coming

from the center of your head.

They say the head can be fooled,
but the heart can’t turn without

the body. This makes me think of you

digging your way through your long life,

lighting everything with your heart.

It’s a good way to live. And when we

sit at the end of the day, our hearts

illumine the day and we see each other

in its radiance. I can tell, it reminds you

of many circles you’ve been a part of.

It’s a good way to measure time.

To make our way on Earth

by the light coming from our heart—

This is what you’ve taught us.

Is it any wonder that what you

touch, including us, glows.

by Mark Nepo from Reduced to Joy 2013