Rituals and Celebrations for All Occasions: Donna Henes
Aging Gratefully
Dr. Peter Brill

Episode 38 - Rituals and Celebrations for All Occasions: Donna Henes

Do you remember Queen for a day? Well, our guest on today’s podcast, Donna Henes, suggests in her latest book, The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife, that women in midlife and beyond become their own Queen. Certainly, many woman need to own their own authority and purpose, but what does it mean to become a Queen?   Donna will answer this and other questions on women’s issues.  She’s also an expert on creating rituals and celebrations for any occasion, not to mention that she’s got a great sense of humor.



Dr. Peter Brill: Hello, and welcome to “The Third Age” , the show where people over 50 come to talk about aging and talk about making a difference and making the world better for all of us. I am the doctor, Doctor Peter Brill, and I am here with my partner, the man from Hollywood, David Debin.

David Debin: I am the man from Hollywood, David Debin. We guarantee if you listen to us you will never grow old.

Dr. Peter Brill: Now, what else could you ask for?

David Debin: Nothing more than that.

Dr. Peter Brill Do you remember “Queen for a Day”?

David Debin: Yes, I do.

Dr. Peter Brill: Well, our guest on today’s show, Donna Hennes,  suggests in her latest book, “The Queen of Myself: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife”, that women in midlife and beyond become their own queen.

David Debin: Very interesting.

Dr. Peter Brill: Certainly many women need to own their own authority and purpose, but what does it mean to become a queen.

Our guest today will answer these questions. And she’s also an expert in creating rituals and celebrations for any occasion you can name.

David Debin: Wow! I want to hear about that.

Dr. Peter Brill: Yeah.

David Debin: That’s a big one because we all need more, right?

Dr. Peter Brill: Absolutely! We are going to talk about that. We need rituals and ceremonies.

David Debin: Also, don’t forget that we’re going to hear a strong message on our environment from The Community Environmental Council- we do that each week -and our minute of fun things to do from Shannon at the visitor’s bureau.

So we have a full show today.

Dr. Peter Brill: We do.

David, I want to just talk a moment about ceremony and ritual.

One of the problems in our society is we have largely lost all ceremonies and rituals that have meaning. Probably the two remaining one that have some meaning for people are the marriage ceremony and a funeral. I mean, where you really have deep feelings about what’s going on. But there’s not much else. 

I used to think that psychiatry…You know, and a lot of times when I was treating people from about 18 to 30 or maybe even older that I was really performing a puberty rite. I was straightening out the roles between parent and children as they age, which in some societies are done by a little rite or ceremony they have. Then what you have is you have the person is recognized as an adult in the tribe and they’re role changes and responsibilities.  And the same thing happens with the parents, their responsibilities, and roles.

We don’t have any of that in this society. You know, Bar Mitzvahs don’t really do it. Your not really of age at age 13 because you can’t function in the world.  So you know…

David Debin: Confirmation, what about that?

Dr. Peter Brill: Yeah, well it can. But for a  lot of people the religious ones have kind of lost a lot of the deep profound meaning I think they had at one time in your life.

You know, it’s interesting to me, whatever you celebrate tends to become stronger. Like my wife and I celebrated our 25th anniversary, we had this very meaningful ceremony we designed and it helped us even feel deeper and more committed and more invested with each other. 

But one of the ones I was thinking about was: What would a ritual or a ceremony be  about forgiveness? What do you think about that one, David?

David Debin: Well, what do I think about that? Well, I think it would be…if you could get the two people or three people, in the room…

Dr. Peter Brill:  Or the hundred people in the community or someone in neighborhoods, I mean. Or a person to forgive about their past, I mean, just have they’re own ceremony about it where they….

David Debin: That’s a good idea.

Dr. Peter Brill: Maybe, we could ask her today about it?

David Debin: That’s a very good idea.

Dr. Peter Brill: For a forgiveness ceremony.

David Debin: What about an intervention? Would you call that a ceremony?

Dr. Peter Brill: I think it sometimes functions that way, don’t you think?

David Debin: I think it does in some way. It’s something that people do where they come together to perform from very serious thing and deep feeling and then bond with each other.

Dr. Peter Brill: But I think, many families, you know, these extended families where you have adult children of adult parents.

David Debin: Yeah.

Dr. Peter Brill: I think they need some ceremonies and rituals. It allows people to interact in ways that they’re comfortable and excited about, and have meaningful deep feeling about, but without necessarily having to think it up themselves.

David Debin: Yeah. In Japan they have  a ritual when someone turns 60. They have like a birthday party because they believe that’s a rebirth.

Dr. Peter Brill: Absolutely.

David Debin: Every 60 year cycle is what they think.

Dr. Peter Brill: Yeah.

David Debin: And apparently that’s a major thing there, you know.

Dr. Peter Brill:  To reverse and then you come of age.

David Debin: What about birth days? 

[Laughs] Right.

What about birth days?

Dr. Peter Brill :I don’t know how meaningful they are to most people. Are they meaningful to you anymore?

David Debin: Uh, just…No. I mean, really not at…because I’m now walking around telling people I am much older than I am.

Dr. Peter Brill: Twenty-nine, huh? [Laughs]

David Debin: No. No. I am telling people I am 5 years old…

Peter Ninety.

David Debin: No. Something believable, five years older than I am.

Dr. Peter Brill: To get credit.

David Debin: And they say, “Oh my God…

Dr. Peter Brill God you look good!

David Debin: …you look great! What’s your secret? You know, instead of just having somebody look at you, “Oh, mm hmm. OK.”

Dr. Peter Brill: Yeah, just nodding their head.

David Debin: Yeah.

Dr. Peter Brill: You know what that leads us into?

David Debin: What?

Dr. Peter Brill: I mean, you exercised a little humor there.

David Debin: Oh, I see. The news story for the day. Well…

Dr. Peter Brill: The news story.

[Gong noise]

David Debin: Whoa, there goes the gong.

[Gong noise again]

David Debin: [laughs]

This one is very interesting. You’re going to wonder why this happened. This was from Fredericksburg Virginia. It is “The Crime Blotter.”

A resident reported that he was with his girlfriend at the gas pumps while a third friend with him pumped gas into the girlfriend’s SUV. A male subject who was not acquainted with the three friends walked out of the store and verbally challenged the male who was pumping gas then threw a rock at him, which struck him in the neck.

The reporting party ran toward the subject and the subject grabbed a fish out of his car and threw it at him hitting him in the face with the fish.

Dr. Peter Brill I have lost who’s who now. Who got hit, the guy who threw the rock?

David Debin: The guy who threw the rock…

Dr. Peter Brill OK.

David Debin: …got hit with…

Dr. Peter Brill: With a fish.

David Debin: With a fish, right.

The subject- that’s him, the guy with the rock and the fish- next grabbed a beer bottle and threw it at the SUV. I see this going on all the time around here all the time, by the way.

Dr. Peter Brill: Yeah.

David Debin: In Santa Barbara it’s a big thing.

Dr. Peter Brill A big thing, throw bottles and fish.

David Debin: Right.

He then pulled his pants down and exposed his behind to the three friends before leaving the area in a blue car.


Dr. Peter Brill: You know, for the first time in my life I am speechless.


David Debin: The stores surveillance camera captured the subject while he was inside and now he was identified. Warrants were obtained and they’re after him for malicious wounding, indecent exposure, and destruction of property. And the police said Coleman is about  5 feet tall, black hair, brown eyes, with a large birthmark on his…

Dr. Peter Brill: And this is in Russia?  On his?

David Debin: Buttocks.

Dr. Peter Brill: Buttocks. OK. Where was this?

David Debin: How is somebody to know that to identify the supect.

Dr. Peter Brill: Well, you never know.

David Debin: Larry Craig could  do it I guess?


Dr. Peter Brill: Where was this?

David Debin: This was in Fredericksburg Virginia.

Dr. Peter Brill: Virginia. Ok.

David Debin: How about that?

Dr. Peter Brill: So watch out.

David Debin: Don’t get gas in Fredericksburg, I guess.

Dr. Peter Brill: Now did they have some reason that this guy singled out this…

David Debin: I guess. They don’t know. They don’t say in the story. What I am inferring here is that he was attracted by the female and must have said something and the other guy said, “Shut up” or something to him. And he came out and he was mad when he came out of the convenience store.

Dr. Peter Brill: Oh yea.

David Debin: So it’s always over…it’s a woman’s fault. I mean, that’s pure and simple.


Dr. Peter Brill: You’re going to laugh at him or snort.


David Debin: Of course, I would be shot at home.

Dr. Peter Brill: By the way, this is the very Emily that we were just talking about on the golf show, right Emily?

Emily: Yes.

David Debin: So ask… I want to hear here answer to that question. What is the question? Women are more interested in material things.

Dr. Peter Brill: Well, this young man is  a golfer- we only have thirty seconds or so- but, this young man is a golfer, that I spent the day with yesterday and he was complaining that the women that you go out with now, in their 20’s, all they are interested in is finding a guy that can get them all the material things, all the designer clothes, the BMW, and so forth.

I completely disagreed with him. I said, “That can’t be true.”

So I cam came and Emily, who said…

Emily: …that I think it is slightly true because everything that we are watching like “Sex in the City” and all of those different things is all material. But, of course, you know….

David Debin: It’s all about shoes, folks, “Sex in the City” , “The Devil Wears Prada”. It’s a good thing my wife is in the shoe business.

Dr. Peter Brill: Yeah.

Donna Henes is an internationally renowned urban shaman ecoceramonialist, award winning author, popular speaker, workshop leader, who’s joy of celebrations of celestial events have introduced ancient traditional rituals and contemporary ceremonies to millions of people in more than a hundred cities since 1972.

And she is going to be joining us here today with my co-host David Debin. I am the Doctor, Doctor Peter Brill.

Her most recent book is “Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife”

Momma Donna- as she is affectionately called maintains a ceremonial center, a spirit shop, ritual practice, and consultancy, in exotic Brooklyn New York…


Dr. Peter Brill: … where she works with individuals,

David Debin: That’s a joke.

Dr. Peter Brill: -Yeah. – groups - We are not allowed to joke on this show.- municipalities, and corporations, great meaningful ceremonies for every imaginable occasion.

Welcome to the show, Donna.

Donna Henes: Thank you.

David Debin: We should say, ‘welcome back to the show Donna’, because she’s been here before and she was such a fabulous guest we just had to have her back.

Donna Henes: You got that right.

Dr. Peter Brill: Well, I can’t welcome her back since I wasn’t here.

David Debin: But your part of the show.

Dr. Peter Brill: Even when I’m not here?

David Debin: Oh, of course.

Dr. Peter Brill: If a tree falls in a forest…

Donna Henes: You were invocated.

Dr. Peter Brill: [laughs]

David Debin: And when your not here all we do is talk about you

Dr. Peter Brill: [laughs]

David Debin: You didn’t know that.

Dr. Peter Bril: No, I didn’t.

David Debin: Because you don’t listen to the show.

Dr. Peter Brill: Right. When I am not here I don’t.

David Debin: That’s right.

So let’s ask Donna, first of all, about the book.

Dr. Peter Brill: Yeah.

David Debin: What’s going on with the book?

Donna Henes:  Well, what’s going on? The book, actually since I was on your show last, is not in its second printing.  That’s good.

David Debin: Whoa! Good!

Donna Henes: That’s very nice.

David Debin: That’s fantastic.

Donna Henes: Yeah. Yeah. Well, you know, the book really strikes a chord in women of a certain age who are ready to take their turn. You know, we’ve spent decades being good girls, good daughters, good wives, good mothers, good bosses, good employees, good students, etcetera, etcetera. And you know what? Now it’s our turn to do what it is that our own personal life purpose is and to fulfill our destiny and our potential.

David Debin: I think it’s probably long over due. I mean, there’s a great story that Peter tells about the women who are asked to draw something representing their lives or cirlces. And most of them would draw three  circles for their family, their husband,  and their career. And who ever was their would say, “What’s missing?” And they would look at it and say, “Me, I am missing.”

So that’s very true.

Donna Henes: Yeah.

David Debin: It’s a prevalent thing that’s going on.

Dr. Peter Brill: So what does it mean to be a queen?

Donna Henes: Well, a queen….

Dr. Peter Brill: Can I be a king?

Donna Henes: Well, sure you can.

David Debin: No, but you could be a queen.

Dr. Peter Brill: I could be a queen.


Donna Henes: All royalty is allowed.

Dr. Peter Brill: OK.

Donna Henes: Being a queen is when a woman really does step into her sovereignty and accepts the responsibility for her own life. That means, the good, the bad , and the ugly, being able to care for herself the way she has always cared for everybody else, and to stand in her power. That’s is problematic because women in our culture are somewhat afraid of our own power.

Dr. Peter Brill: Why?

Donna Henes: Oh, there’s so many reasons. But, I think, that we’re getting a good taste of it in this election. When a woman dares to stand in her power, she’s ridiculed, she’s called words that we probably can’t say on the radio, and she’s vilified. I mean, what every you think about the selection- and I don’t wan to go there- it’s kind of horrifying to see how a woman is treated who dares to say, “ I am powerful.”

So women are afraid to do that. They are afraid that they won’t be lovable, that they won’t be loved.

I remember, hundreds of years ago, when I would go out on a date as a teenager, my mother would send me out the door and say, “Now don’t be to smart. Boys don’t like smart women.”

Dr. Peter Brill: Wow!

Donna Henes: So it starts early.

Actually, that has not been my experience. But that’s the wisdom of the time.

David Debin: That’s the brain washing.

Donna Henes: Exactly.

David Debin: Yeah.

Dr. Peter Brill: Emily, do you feel that now at your age?

Emily: No.

Dr. Peter Brill: Emily is about… What? How old are you, Emily?

Emily: 19

Dr. Peter Brill: 19

Emily: No, you definitely need to be smart. It’s more about just having a sense of humor, I think. That’s what…

Dr. Peter Brill: So it’s all changed. It’s OK with the boys if you’re smart?

Emily: Yes.

David Debin: I think it has change, actually, and not just in that way. I think it has changed in terms of what women are encouraged… I don’t think that girls are- in general, there are differences all over, but- are brought up in the same way that they were before, that a woman’s place is here. A woman should do… you know.

Nobody says, or very few people say, to love honor and “obey” anymore, you know.
I mean, I think that’s sort of like going off by the wayside as woman assume their power, starting to be more effective in careers, and rise in the ranks in every way.

But it is still…I do know that Donna is right because I had a very close friend who was a great producer.  She produced an academy award winning movie and she was the first woman to ever win an award for best film. If a woman is on the set and she sees something that she doesn’t like and if she starts to talk about it, she’s a bitch. If a guy is there, he is just working it out.

Dr. Peter Brill: What year was that, David?

David Debin: That movie?

Dr. Peter Brill: Yeah.

David Debin: 1974. It was a statement.

Dr. Peter Bril: Yeah. See I … What do you think Donna, has it changed? I mean, the women who came through at a certain time in history, for sure experienced this. But do you think it’s still the same now?

Donna Henes: Unfortunately, I do.

David Debin: Really?

Donna Henes: I really do. I hear stories from women all the time. It’s still not acceptable to be in your feelings and in your emotions in the board room. You can’t really think like a woman. You can’t present yourself as a woman.

We see this in politics. A lot of our famous woman are not really acting in a way that I feel is coming from their feminine core. You know, that we have strength and power and it is not physical. It is not that kind of testosterone driven authority or dominance, but we have the power of our convictions. We have a lot to offer in the way things should be, not the way of keeping things how they have been for  five thousand years.

I think that that kind of power and that kind of wisdom is not appreciated. It is not listened to.

David Debin: Well, not to belabor this because what I was referring to I think was, tthe training  I am talking about was that women who are from another generation really were trained in that way. Women from this generation are different.

But don’t you think that if a woman stepped up like Hillary has this time that if you think the reception is bad now, what it would have been 20 years ago or 30 years ago. I mean nobody paid any attention to Jeraldine Ferraro. But I think that Hillary has more than made a tremendous forward movement among womaen.

Am I wrong?

Donna Henes: Oh no. Absolutely! I think that things are moving ahead. Things are changing. But you know what?  I think they are mostly changing for women of our generation. The younger generation is getting married younger then we did, in more numbers. It is almost like we are back to the 50’s.

The baby boom women- a fifth to a quarter, depending on where they live, the urban ones where a quarter- a quarter of us did not have children.

David Debin: Why?

Donna Henes: Given the choice, we did have a choice for the first generation ever. And now women are getting married earlier, more often, having more children at a younger age, are choosing to stay home.  I don’t know, it’s like really the styles are kind of back to the 50’s.

Dr. Peter Brill: Well, I want to reinforce what you are saying. Certainly for women from midlife on because they came through at a time in history,

David Debin: Yeah.

Dr. Peter Bril: whether or not the younger ones will have the same kind of experience or not.

Abigail Trafford in her book, also, “My Time”, which echoes a lot of what you are saying. It’s really a major change for women in midlife and beyond to begin to own there own power, their own ability to determine what they want, to give up some of the nurturing- some of it, not all of it, hopefully- and begin to focus around their own effectiveness, their own achievement, and their own happiness.

Donna Henes: Yes, absolutely.

Dr. Peter Brill: The only thing I worry about is  in the end  that we are polarizing the cycle of giving.  As soon as people stop giving to each other, of course, and are only concerned with themselves, what are they? And if you only give, who are you for? It is one of those dilemmas in life.

Donna Henes: Oh, I agree. But it’s also you can’t love unless you can love yourself.

Dr. Peter Brill: Absolutely!

David Debin: On that note, I am going to love myself a little bit while we take a break.

We will be right back with “The Third Age”. Don’t go away.

[Sponsor Break]

Dr. Peter Brill: Welcome back to “The Third Age”. I am one of your cohosts, Doctor Peter Brill. I am here with my other partner, David Debin and Emily (Fig-are-e-to).

Emily: (Fig-are-a-toe)

Dr. Peter Brill: Figarato. I can never say it right.

Emily: That is close.

Dr. Peter Brill: Emily F.

Dr. Peter Brill: and Donna Henes, who’s an internationally renowned urban shaman. 

We really want to talk, Donna, about ceremonies. I have a quote here from you  from your website.


Donna Henes:l I’m here.

Dr. Peter Brill: OK.

“For individual families I can design rituals for such joyous occasions as weddings, commitment ceremonies, baby showers, baby blessings, adoptions, combining family houses, cleansings, blessings, anniversaries, retirement rituals, coming of age ceremonies, graduation, menarche, menopause. That just mentions a few. Then we have abortion, divorce, aging, illness, surgery, conflict loss, loss of jobs, and so forth.”

My goodness! Can you tell us a little bit about ceremony and ritual? Where you’re coming from and how you can do so many?

Donna Henes: Well, everyone is totally different. Basically, I think , that what ritual does is it makes the ordinary special and the special extraordinary. It is a way to mark an occasion and give it meaning and give it meaning not only for your own life and circle,  but  within a context of humanity and all people everywhere. It is a way to understand that we’re not alone in the universe, that we are all connected, and we are connected to the cosmos, we are conntected to each other, and ideally we are connected to our own inner best self.

Dr. Peter Brill: Give us an example of a ceremony or ritual that you did that demonstrates that.

Donna Henes: Well, actually, going back one second to the whole queen concept, I do ritual with women in mid life, usually around menopause, that takes after a royal coronation. It’s actually a crowning ceremony. But it doesn’t just… What ritual is…all ritual has to be grounded in intention.

Before you were talking about  an intervention ritual. Well, the people gathered- I am assuming- all have the same intention, which is to help that person. Then they act on that. Then they take steps that further their intention.

So this particular ceremony, before we get to the good part, we have parts of the ceremony, which is acknowledging, admitting, and owning our own fears of aging. Once we do that, once you can acknowledge your fear then  you can release it and you’re not owned by it  anymore. And this is all done in a circle where people take turns going around the circle. Then people talk about what is the one good thing, the one true thing that they know, in the world that they live by and that is the base of their power and claim that and own that.

Then I was actually inspired for this part of the ritual by the Miss America Pageant, where these young women are asked, “If you’re selected Miss America, how will you serve the year of your reign? What will you do?”  in other words, what is your intention for your power? We have a scepter and the women hold up the scepter and say, “As queen, I will…” whatever.

Dr. Peter Brill: Fabulous!

Donna Henes: Yeah. It’s not all about me myself, but it’s about the self in the union sense of your complete personage.

Dr. Peter Brill: Good.

Donna Henes: The idea is to claim your power in your own life and then be able to take it out into the world so that we can nurture on an even bigger scale. Take the world and right the wrong.

Dr. Peter Brill: Then what do you do?

Donna Henes: And then…

Dr. Peter Brill: Yeah. You serve them with their power and then what?

Donna Henes: Then they are ready to be crowned, but I don’t crown them. There’s a fabulous expression in the Aruba culture that says, “You crown your own head.” Which basically means you author your own life, if you make your bed you lie in it, and on and on. So each woman crowns herself. She crowns herself, “I crown myself Queen Momma Donna queen of my dreams” or “the executor of my own will” or  whatever, however they see themselves  in their power.

Dr. Peter Brill: What a wonderful ceremony. What an absolutely fabulous, fabulous, ceremony.

Donna Henes: It really is.

Dr. Peter Brill: Can you do us one on forgiveness? Design us one right here on the air for forgiveness. We have a bunch of people and what I find is that we have a lot of people who have what we call ‘ghosts of the past’. They are carrying these heavy chains of the ‘would a, should a, could a’ s.

Donna Henes: Right.

Dr. Peter Brill: So we need a good ceremony for them.

Donna Henes: Exactly.

Well, you know the saying about forgiveness is that it’s like when you hold onto that anger it’s like you’ve taken poison and you expect the other person to die.

Dr. Peter Brill: Right.


Donna Henes: Because that anger and that resentment kills.

Dr. Peter Brill: Yep.

Donna So it’s really important to release that anger. Your not condoning the action of the other person. You can still forgive somebody for your own sake and still say that was absolutely wrong and I hate you, but your not holding that hate in your heart so that it cripples you.

Dr. Peter Brill: Good point, so let’s do a ceremony. Do it for our audience out there.

Donna Henes: Well, I think what I would do is I would offer salt, the taste of salt, to elicit a sense of bitterness, to elicit our tears, our sadness, our anger, our resentment. And speak it. Speak it out loud or, even, write it down.

Dr. Peter Brill: OK.

Donna Henes:  But verbalize it so that you are not mad at the whole world, your mad at this particular incident and for this  and this reason.

Once you have done that you could do all kinds of things. If you’ve written it down, a really nice thing to do then is to burn it. But then  a lot of things will burn things, but I don’t like to just stop at the burning because that is just like- I don’t know -destruction…

Dr. Peter Brill: Yeah, it ends with destruction.

Donna Henes: Exactly.

Dr. Peter Brill” Yeah.

Donna Henes: Then I like to take the ashes and use the ash. Ash, if you are a gardener, you know you want to add ash to your compost because it’s really high in nitrogen. It’s a fabulous fertilizer- So then I like to take the ash and either sprinkle it on a house plant or put it in your garden so that this experience can then grow into something beautiful and full of life. The ashes is a great metaphor. It is a really great metapho.

Dr. Peter Brill: It’s a wonderful ceremony. People out there, did you hear it? If you have things that you’re having trouble letting go of, trouble forgiving yourself or somebody else,  then what you can do is take a little salt share your bitterness, write it down, burn it- please don’t burn your house down- and then take the ash and put it in the plant, and grow something beautiful with it.

Donna Henes: And put your intention with the ash.

Dr. Peter Brill: And put your intention…

You know, one of the things that I have discovered that had produced a tremendous amount of help for people is when they have had horrible experiences in their past and somehow they find and altruistic outlet for that, the person who had had problems with their legs or something, helping other people with problems with their legs. Finding an altruistic way to deal with your suffering to overcome it is really valuable.


Donna Henes: Yeah, that’s beautiful.

David Debinl I have an altruistic comment. I think that we should give up time for our sponsors to speak…

Dr. Peter BrilL: OK.

David Debin: …because we are such nice people and come back in a couple of minutes.

We’ll be right back with “The Third Age”. Don’t go away.

[Sponsor break]

Dr. Peter Brill: Hello and welcome back to “The Third Age”. I am one of your cohosts, Doctor Peter Brill. I am here with David Debin and Donna Henes, who’s an internationally renowned urban shaman.

Donna can we continue this…?

Let’s first do your book, for just one second. What’s the name of your new book?

Donna Henes: “The Queen of My Self”. Two words.

Dr. Peter BrilL: “The Queen of My Self”.

Donna Henes: “Stepping into Sovereignty  in Midlife”

Dr. Peter Brill: Where do they get it?

Donna Henes: Amazon, book stores, the website for the book is thequeenofmyselff.com.

Dr. Peter Brill: And you have a website yourself, right?

Donna Henes: Yes.

Dr. Peter Brill: What’s that?

Donna Henes: That’s donnahenes.net.

Dr. Peter Brill: Great.

David Debin: Donna, I wanted to ask you this last time before we go out. On your website there’s a great photo of you with a friend of yours. What is that?

Donna Henesl Wait, which picture are you referring to?

David Debin: You have a little friend sitting on your head.

Donna Henes: Oh, on my head.

Dr. Peter Brill: A little bird.

Donna Henes: Oh, this is my magical bird and familiar olla. She was a cockatiel that flew to me in the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, came home with me and lived on my head for nine years.

David Debin: Oh my, what a story that is.

Dr. Peter Brill: Alright, so we have about two or three minutes now before we have to go to the next section here. So I just want to read something that you wrote on your website and  I would like you to tell us a ceremony about this or what your thoughts are, either one.

Donna Henes: OK.

Dr. Peter Brill:  “I believe that the only thing that can save our earth from  our short-sightedness and selfish attitudes and actions is for us to start thinking of ourselves as a planet. It is time for us to join together as interdependent partners, as interconnected members of our families and communities, coexisting inhabitants of the earth, and co-creators of our mutual future.”

How do we do that by ceremony and intent?

Donna Henes: Well, something that I’ve been doing for all these years is celebrating in public the equinoxes and the solstices. The reason for that is that these are earth holidays. These are the ways the movement of the earth around the sun effects the season and effects our lives. It is one way, especially for urban and suburban people who are so separated form the natural order of the world, to reconnect with nature in a very primal way.

The Hopi’s every year on the summer solstice run up the mountain to, not greet the rising sun, but to help it rise. It’s not that they don’t believe that the sun can’t rise without their help, but they believe that they need to be there with the sun, as sisters and brothers, to declare our relation with the universe.

Dr. Peter Brill: And for sure, we need to realize that this earth is sacred, that we have been given a sacred trust with this planet, and that we are certainly not managing that sacred trust very well, are we?

Donna Henes: No, we’re not.

Dr. Peter Brill: Well Donna, actually, the next segment of our show is going to be somebody who just had a really important important conference about the environment. So  we are going to bring him on in just a minute. But I want to first thank you for being on our show today and for your wonderful wonderful  work.

Donna Henes:  Well, thank you. Thank you very much. I love your show.

Dr. Peter Brill: Thanks a lot.

David Debin: We’ll see you again.


Donna Henes: I hope so.

David Debin: Hey, by the way the shows…Oh, are you gone? Are you still there?

Donna Henes: I’m here.

David Debin: Yeah, you’re show will be iTunes. I think one of your shows already is on iTunes.

Dr. Peter Brill: Yeah.

Donna Henes: Oh great!

David Debin: If you look on podcasts, you’ll see your show there.

Donna Henes: Oh fantastic!

David Debin: OK.

Donna Henes: Great! OK. Well the summer solstice is almost here so I am wishing you a wonderful  earth spirit.

Dr. Peter Brill: Thanks a lot.

David Debin: Same to you.

Donna Henes: Thank you.

Dr. Peter Brill: Well, that is quite a thing, what she says about the earth. And our needing to realize how interconnected we are is really really true.

In that spirit, I am going to bring on Tim Hunt from the Community Environmental Council.

Welcome to the show.

Tim Hunt: Thanks Peter.

Dr. Peter Brill: So you had a big conference and a scary set of conclusions, huh?

Tim Hunt: We did yeah. The turn out was great. We definitely achieved our expectations about having people in the room to really learn and start taking action.

So the topic was, essentially: Why are oil prices so high? And what does the future hold for us?

And we had a great keynote speaker, Bob Hersh, consultant, former employee, actually, on mobiles for a number of years, looking at what the future does hold for oil production and painting a pretty scary picture of where things are going. So I think it is starting to dawn on most people that this is not a temporary thing., That high price is here to stay. And it may go a lot higher. What do we do locally?

Dr. Peter Brill: Give us the picture, if you can do it in one minute. What is the picture that he painted?

Tim Hunt: Well, yeah, the one minute version is that essentially global oil production has been on a plateau for about three years now. OPEC and non OPEC countries are struggling to maintain production because existing fields are declining and production as all finite resources will do and they are not finding new fields fast enough to maintain production. So they’re plateauing.

The question is: Will we stay on a plateau? Will we go up? Will we go down?

Bob is of the view and I am of the view that we are quite likely going to go down fairly soon. It may not be right now, but, certainly, within the next five years we will start trending downward. And the question is: How fast is that downward slide?

Then you get some really scary scenarios because we are, of course, heavily dependant on oil imports.

David Debin: And consumption continues to go up.

Tim Hunt: Well, actually, that’s the one piece of good news. In the US consumption has finely crested and started to go down, actually, pretty steeply.  Just over the last holiday week gas…

David Debin: For one week.

Tim Hunt: Well, actually, it is a longer trend too, but the last week alone, the holiday weekend, gas prices went down 5%. That’s actually huge.

David Debin: That’s a pretty accurate pole…

Dr. Peter Brill: Yeah.

David Debin: …next to what people are getting now.

Dr. Peter Brill: But worldwide consumption…

Tim Hunt: Worldwide consumption is going up. You’re right.

Dr. Peter Brill: So production is going to go down, but consumption is going to go up. So what does that mean to us?

Tim Hunt: Well, it means prices are going to keep on going up.

Dr. Peter Brill: And also, maybe, depression. Right?

Tim Hunt: Possibly, yeah. I mean, there are various scenarios out there. Some are more scary than others. But, I think, the message is quite clear, we’ve got to start taking action personally and as a region. And that was kind of our outcome from the summit last week, was that we want to form a tri counties energy task force to really start the planning process, soon and start figuring what we need to do locally because one consequence of dramatically higher oil prices over time is a relocalization of our economies.

That could ultimately be a good thing, but getting from here to there could be rather painful.

Dr. Peter Brill: When you say relocalization, what you mean is people won’t be traveling long distances. Products will be made closer to home, right?

Tim Hunt: Exactly.

Dr. Peter Brill: Because of the transportation costs.

David Debin: And people will be living in larger groups, like the cities. People are going to start moving out of the suburbs and back into the cities.

Tim Hunt: Yeah. Yes to all the above. There are a lot of things. Basically, become more reliant on local resources. And a  better sense of community is one of the side benefits that comes from this.

Dr. Peter Brill: So did you get your task force up and going?

Tim Hunt: We have a conversation going. We are going to start talking to the key players, figure out the action plan, and move forward.

Dr. Peter Brill: So what can people out there do to help.

Tim Hunt: Well, first they can change there own behavior and this is, of course, happening already. I mean, market forces here are very powerful. We are already seeing change pretty rapidly because of high prices. But certainly the one that I would like to get across to your listeners is that this is not a temporary thing. This is a long term problem. And certainly do what you can as individuals to change your energy consumption by, living closer to where you work, driving less, getting a bike, taking the bus, all those kind of things.

Dr. Peter Brill: Great.

How do they get in touch with you at the Community Environmental Council?

Tim Hunt: Well, our website is cecsb.org. There is a lot of information there about our local programs. We have a document called “A New Energy Direction”, which actually lays out our vision for how we get off fossil fuels by 2030, in our county.

Dr. Peter Brill: I think, you guys are clear visionaries because we better start working on cutting down our fossil fuels.

Tim Hunt: Definitely.

David Debin: Or we are going to windup being a bunch of fossils.


David Debin: Hey, thanks Tim. Thank you so much for being with us today.

Tim Hunt: Right, thank you.

David Debin: Everybody think about that for a moment while we take a break.

We will be right back.

[Sponsor break]

Dr. Peter Brill: Welcome back to “The Third Age”. I am one of your hosts Doctor Peter Bril. I am here with my other co-hosts David Debin and  Emily F.


Dr. Peter Brill: You can say your whole name if you like. I can’t do it. It’s to big a tongue twister for me. I apologize.

You know, after struggling with environment, oil, depression, and  bad economic times, I think we deserve a moment of fun. Don’t you think, a minute of fun?

David Debin: Yahoo!

Dr. Peter Brill: Hi Shannon. What’s fun this week?

Shannon: Summerland. Summerland is just south of Santa Barbara. I just went there this past weekend. It was glorious. I went to the beach. There’s great café’s. There is a winery,- Summerland Winery. You can do tasting there. -great galleries,  and garden shops.

Dr. Peter Brill: Well, let me ask you this question. Why should I go this week?

Shannon: Well, gas is more expensive these days. So it’s a short trip and you can even take a bike. There is a bike path that gets you there.

Dr. Peter Brill: And what would be the most fun thing for you in Summerland.

Shannon: I like Sacred Space. It’s a really cool home import shop that has all these wonderful things, candles, décor for your garden, and jewelry. I also like the winery. I’m a fan of wine.

Dr. Peter Brill: Great. Well guys you’ve heard it. This week at Summerland, go have fun.

David Debinl Thanks Shannon.

Dr. Peter Brill: Yeah.

David Debin: And thank you Peter.

Dr. Peter Brill: Yeah.

David Debin: What if somebody said, “How I have my most fun is getting a tattoo.” Could we recommend that as a fun thing to do?

Dr. Peter Brill: I don’t know:

David Debin: Getting a tattoo?

Dr. Peter Brill: You want a tattoo, Emily?

Emily: No, I don’t want a tattoo right now.

David Debin: Are you sure about that, Emily?

Emily: Yes.

Dr. Peter Brill: She is a woman of few words.


David Debin: And no tattoos.

Dr. Peter Brill: No tattoos.

David Debin: Donna Henes who talked about ritual and celebration, that was fabulous the way she made up the…

Dr. Peter Brill: The forgiveness, right?

David Debin: …forgiveness ritual. Not ritual. What would be the word? Ceremony. That’s it. Ceremony.

Dr. Peter Brill: Yeah.

David Debin: And the others the…

Dr. Peter Brill: Well, you and I know, from dealing with people from the third age with groups and workshops, how big a deal forgiveness is.  You’ve always said that forgiveness is a key to opening your heart.

David Debin: I agree. I know it is.

Dr. Peter Brill: You agree with yourself?

David Debin: I agree with myself. Not all the time, but I think every once in a while I accidentally say something that makes a lot of sense.

Dr. Peter Brill: That certainly does.

David Debin: I would like to talk next week about what I think God is because I have been trying to figure that out.

Dr. Peter Brill: And you’ve got the answer.

David Debin: I have an answer, yes.

Dr. Peter Bril:l Well that’s fabulous.

David Debin: Everybody can wait with baited breath for that.

Dr. Peter Brill: I won’t be here next week to hear it.

David Debin: Will you be near a computer.

Dr. Peter Brill: No, I am going to be up in Yellowstone Park, up in the Grand Canyon, hiking in the back country.

David Debin: Well then you don’t have to know because that what it is.

Dr. Peter Brill: [laughs]

David Debin: I’m serious. That’s what it is.

Dr. Peter Brill: God was calling to me.

David Debin: No. No, its where you are. It’s in Yellowstone. It’s in nature. It’s in unconditional love that you get from being where you are going, a place that’s just beautiful and real.

Dr. Peter Brill: The energy of life.

David Debin: Yeah. So we will talk about that next time. We don’t want to take anyone’s vision away.

So where are we? Are we almost home?

Dr. Peter Brill :Yep.

David Debin: OK. Let’s thank, first of all, Lisa Headlee who is our engineer, Emily Figurato…

Dr. Peter Brill: Figurato.

David Debin: …our associate producer, Les Carrol, the great Less Carrol for his trampoline act here at the station, and Richard Dugin.

And with that I will say, “Fare thee well.”

[Sponsor break]