APRIL 2015


Knox College, Room 4

59 St. George Street

between College & Harbord

Entrances on St. George and King's College Circle,

accessible entrance from lot on north side of Knox.

Street parking or lot available

Sunday, APRIL 12, 2015

2 - 4:30 p.m.


Sunday, April 12, 2 - 4:30 p.m.

Topic: Writing Fact and Fiction

Presenter: Diane Flacks

Writer, Actor, Producer

Diane Flacks is a writer/performer in theatre, TV, radio, and fiction. In theatre she's known for her four critically acclaimed solo shows - Myth Me, By a Thread, Random Acts, and Bear With Me - and her Chalmers-nominated collaborations with Richard Greenblatt: Sibs and Care, both at the Tarragon Theatre. Most recently, Tarragon produced the world premiere of Diane's new two-act drama, Waiting Room, to audience and critical acclaim. As Nightwood Theatre's 2014 playwright in residence, she wrote the upcoming Unholy, a new play about women and religion. Diane has written and performed in theatres across the country and in New York and Los Angeles.

She has also written for, and appeared in, numerous Canadian TV series, including PR, Listen Missy, and The Kids in the Hall, for which she was nominated for a writing Emmy. Most recently, she was a writer/producer on the NBC/Global sitcom Working the Engels; developed a new one-hour drama, Patient Rep, for CITY tv/eOne, and wrote on a developing eOne/CTV sitcom, Good Behaviour. She can currently be heard as CBC radio's national parenting columnist, and as a regular contributor to Definitely Not the Opera.

Her book Bear With Me: What They Don't Tell You About Pregnancy and New Motherhood was published by McClelland & Stewart, and she adapted it into a hit solo show, a Canadian tour, and for a performance at the CBC TV Winnipeg Comedy Fest. She has been a feature columnist for the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail, and wrote a solo show for The Air Farce's Luba Goy produced at Canstage, which won the 2014 Kobzar Literary award. Recently, she acted in Freda and Jem's Best of the Week, opening Buddies in Bad Times 2014-2015 season, directed by esteemed Canadian playwright Judith Thompson. See www.dianeflacks.com

Diane's presentation will explore fictional beliefs about writing itself and also writing fictional versus non-fictional work. "I find them both so interesting and valuable in our current super-instant culture." All are welcome.

Note: The College-Spadina intersection closure will affect driving and TTC.

Sunday, May 10

2 - 4:30 p.m.

Topic: Ulysseans Celebrate Mothers as Teachers

Presenter: to be announced, plus

attendees sharing stories about mothers

See below (Member News) for more details

Visitors are welcome


ph: 416-410-1892




Inquiring Mind

Saturday, April 18

TIME: 2 - 4 p.m.

PLACE: Wychwood Library, 1431 Bathurst St. (south of St. Clair)

Contact Convener: Marie Paulyn

Mosaic Planning Lunch

Monday, April 27

12 - 1:30 p.m.

PLACE: Granite Brewery & Restaurant, 245 Eglinton Ave. East

(entrance on Mt. Pleasant)

Join us for good food and fellowship.

Contact: Neil Sinclair

Memoir Writing

on break

Please call Virginia for more information

Play Reading

on break

Contact: Vivian Haar


General Meeting Report

March 8, 2015

Topic: A North American Native Perspective

on Environmental Protection

Speaker: Danny Beaton, Mohawk, Environmentalist

Early arrivals were greeted by Danny Beaton playing one of his native flutes, and chatting with some of them. After our President Virginia Rock called the meeting to order, Carol Farkas lit the candle and read our Creed and welcomed visitors. Virginia made a few announcements, especially about the then-upcoming AGM on March 28 and Neil Sinclair's presence to discuss our future later in the meeting.

Shirley Gibson introduced our speaker Danny Beaton, mentioning a few of his activities and her long-time support of his work; he had attended a few of our recent meetings. Danny began by commenting that it was an honour to hear our Ulyssean Creed. The June 29th death of his beloved partner Alicja Rozanska demonstrated that we can learn something in life until the very last minute. He misses her deeply, but knows she wanted him to keep doing his work for the environment and peace. She loved travel, hiking, swimming, berry picking, anything in the natural world. He maintains a deep connection to her, shown by acknowledging her values and wearing her scarf at presentations.

The weekend before our meeting, Danny presented longer versions of this day's topic as part of the Annual Elders and Traditional People Gathering, held at Trent University. He reported this was a powerful experience, with every day more beautiful. This year he was invited as one of the official elders, presenting with other elders, including some he hadn't seen for 20 years and some he had worked together with in prisons. Though our meeting was in the afternoon, Danny sang and played a morning song to all creation to welcome everyone.

As a teen, Danny started on a very negative self-destructive path (stoned, drinking and drugs). He didn't know the positive focus and energy of "the red road," which more people are now finding. The elders taught him to collect positive energy, memories and love and to keep building it. It all comes from the ceremonies as Native Americans are a very ceremonial people.

Danny shared with us the beautiful Thanksgiving Address ceremony he often gives, expressing thanks and respect to the natural world. All nature is seen as alive and connected, not only animals and plants, but also air, water, rocks, the sun, etc. Each is thanked in turn, as all work together and are considered relations. Each person has a duty and responsibility to respect and protect them; people are part of creation, not separate from it.

When he first learned to say that ceremony, he repeated it all day and this helped him a lot. He does not shut people out, but tries to be a peacemaker. He now does ceremonies for Native Child and for transient youth, to help them grow. Ceremonies honour youth and elders.

Danny started travelling with the elders 25 years ago, always sharing what he learned through writing and in a series of films of the elders. Twenty years ago he started an organization, The Artist/Environment Forum, which he headed and only recently folded. It communicated through all forms of the arts to protect the environment.

He has been fighting for the earth on the political front for more than 20 years, starting with the Northern Cree's homeland and indigenous ways of life. Working with farmers in Ontario, he fought and won two big fights to protect water and farm land. Now he is hoping to go to Poland, Alicja's homeland, where he has been invited to join the farmers' causes.

We were all invited to attend any Monday at 4 p.m., when Danny leads weekly ceremonies at 6 St. Joseph Street, near Yonge and Wellesley. Danny shared current copies of First Nations Drum, with a photograph he took on the cover, and his lead article on Sundancer Robertjohn Knapp. He is the feature writer for that monthly publication and for News from Indian Country. Many of his past articles are included on the website Alicja made for him at www.dannybeaton.ca, and both newspapers have archives online. Danny also brought copies of his CD of original native flute music.

Responding to audience questions, Danny stated that he found his positive energy in his teachers. Alicja died of stage 4 cancer; their research after her diagnosis led them to fight it with hyperthermic treatments. Danny believes that the body may die but the energy does not. Beverly Bloom thanked Danny on behalf of the Society. Conversations continued over refreshments.


Daniel Karpinski introduced Neil Sinclair, nominated for election to the Steering Committee and willing to serve as President as Virginia Rock is stepping down. A former presenter to the Society, he recently joined as a regular member. Neil gave a short introduction and answered questions. He is a lawyer and educator, experienced with not-for- profit organizations. He believes in teamwork and the idea of bringing people together to learn something. Developing a vision is a process for the group; he is still learning the details of our organization.

Paul Nash expressed interest in serving on the Steering Committee. Ending the meeting on a positive note, Joan Appelby read the Ulyssean Benediction and extinguished the candle.

- Shirley Gibson

Your Society - Your Annual Meeting

Missions Behind - Missions Ahead

On March 28th Ulyssean members gathered at the meeting room of 44 Charles Street West, Toronto, the residence building of President Virginia Rock who both hosted the meeting and presided as the Chair. Following the lighting of the candle and reading of the Creed the meeting covered a number of reports.

The President reported on a year of successful programs ranging over a wide variety of topical interests; a list was distributed and will be available again at the next program meeting. She summarized the challenges facing the Society including membership where new members are needed, Entre Nous where a great deal of effort and great newsletter were supported through the efforts of too few volunteers. Finally she identified the need for greater participation of members.

She also reported that the Steering Committee had deliberated on the potential winding up of the Society in light of declining membership and over-worked volunteers but that the Steering Committee had unanimously agreed to forge on in a positive way and renew our efforts.

The Treasurer Beverly Bloom presented a financial report which, following some questions, was adopted by the members. The present income is not covering expenses. Joan Appelby's comments encouraged a positive outlook.

Shirley Gibson reported that the 12 2014 Entre Nous issues had three different formats: a "highlights" focus she produced on her computer for the first seven issues, two redesigned issues produced by University of Toronto student Lindsay Wu, and three in our traditional professional layout by Margot Rosenberg. For all issues, Shirley and Virginia had major involvement and Margot posted the content to our website. Other members contributed some of the content. The matter of putting out a newsletter of such quality and length was discussed by the members and will be revisited by the newly elected Steering Committee.

Shirley presented Marie Paulyn's report listing topics discussed at the eight 2014 Inquiring Mind meetings, and continued with her reports on the Play Reading group's rehearsals leading up to their presentation in the September 14 Mosaic and with our participation in the Third Age Network (TAN, an umbrella group of lifelong learning groups in Ontario).

VP Daniel Karpinski reported on our monthly Mosaic sessions, which included two guest presenters this year, and thanked all the members who participated. All are welcome at the Mosaic planning lunches, which also provide a chance to socialize.

Of course AGMs are engaged with new elections and your Steering Committee had three new vacancies from serving members' terms ending. Virginia's and John von der Leith's terms expired; Kwan Shum resigned with one year left. The members expressed their appreciation for their service and then elected by acclamation the following members to serve on the Steering Committee: Virginia Rock (a new term), Paul Nash and Neil Sinclair as new members on the Committee.

Good food, good company and a general desire was expressed to have more social time as members. Great food supplied and arranged by the executive and Neil's gift of wine rounded off a very successful meeting.

Our Leadership Team

The Steering Committee met briefly after the AGM and elected the officers for your Society:

President - Neil Sinclair

Vice President - Paul Nash

Treasurer - Beverly Bloom

Secretary - Joan Appelby

Other Steering Committee Members (still serving or returning):

Marvin Goody

Daniel Karpinski

Dave Kennedy

Marie Paulyn

Virginia Rock

This is your Society and we are together with a common purpose, learning and education. Feel always invited to attend meetings of the Society and communicate your thoughts and ideas for events, programs, and social engagements.

Neil Sinclair; additions, Shirley Gibson

Member News, Events, etc.

Linda Stitt continues her monthly Words and Music Salon program on Saturday May 2 at 1:30-4:30 p.m., with a program of fine invited poets and musicians at Vino Rosso, 995 Bay St., between Bloor and Wellesley. Many Ulysseans regularly attend this lovely no-cover event. Details of this first-Saturday monthly event are always posted at www.lindastitt.com.

Getting to our April 12 Meeting

The intersection of College & Spadina is now closed to all traffic until late April. The Spadina streetcar is replaced by bus service, with the northbound bus taking Beverley and St. George Streets between Dundas and Harbord. The Carlton/College streetcar, which normally passes near our meeting, is diverting along Dundas between Ossington and Bay. Service on both routes should be back to normal by our May 10 meeting. For the April 11-12 weekend, the subway is not running between Union and St. Andrew stations.

Bring Your Stories about Mothers on May 10

"Ulysseans Celebrate Mothers as Teachers" on our Mother's Day meeting on May 10. All education starts at birth and continues for a lifetime. Mothers have always been part of life-long learning. Members of our executive will present "The Mother as Archetypical Teacher" and "Famous Mothers from History." All attendees are asked to bring a short anecdote on one thing they have learned from their mother or shared as a mother. Make your plans now to include this Ulyssean meeting in your Mother's Day celebrations - invite family and guests.

2015 Member Contributions

The Ulyssean Society is continuing-see the separate article on our AGM. Membership contributions for 2015 will be requested soon.

Stratford Bus Trip Deadline is April 15

Some Ulysseans and friends have already signed up for the Act II Studio bus trip to see The Taming of the Shrew at Stratford Festival on Wednesday May 27. The registration and payment deadline is April 15; bus and show are $118, with optional lunch box for $18. Sweet Charity at Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake on Wednesday October 7 requires registration by August 21. Full details were in the last Entre Nous and are posted at www.act2studio.ca which includes online registration.

Shirley Gibson will again bring brochures and forms to our April 12 meeting for those without internet access. For more info, the Act II office is staffed Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays (not Fridays) 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.: 416-979-5000 ext 6297 or act2@ryerson.ca. For several years, our members have participated since we no longer have the numbers to organize our own trips.

- Shirley Gibson

Your President's Musings

"Older and Wiser"

Our Society has a long and proud history linked to ongoing education and lifelong learning. If one could look back over the years of our programs one could easily be amazed at the energy, intelligence and knowledge shared.

One of the expressions you will hear from me whenever I am asked "How are you?" is my common response: "Older and Wiser." It takes cashiers by surprise! The Older part and the Wiser part will take some explaining. Of course we are all getting older. I, for one, do not like the words "elderly," "retired" or "senior"- these words come with images and connotations in the minds of many. There are times when such expressions are appropriate and even legally necessary.

In my view there is more to passing the age and stage of being post-55. I would like to think of us collectively as "Second Stagers" or perhaps "Next Stagers." Is life not a series of periods of growth where we might be older but enter and depart new stages? And another observation: let no one write anyone off as being "too old" to participate in some aspects of learning.

That is where the "wiser" enters in. While we get older we certainly have every opportunity to be wiser, to learn new things, reshape our ideas and grow intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. In my view that is becoming "Wiser." Indeed, as I progress through my day to day, I see myself learning more. This week it has been GPS Navigation and "way-points" - don't ask! But I found myself learning about our Society and, yes, learning more about myself.

Learning takes work, at times a lot of work, and I find some learning comes easily and naturally and at other times requires study and reflection. We all have brains as remarkable organs, and bodies where even the muscles can "learn." We live in remarkable times where information is doubling, then redoubling, where the events a world away are on our telephones and where we can be in touch at any time with anyone near or far. Learning in this context may be challenging and not easily done.

But what about learning emotionally? Are we wiser as we respond interactively with others? Can we be wiser as "elders" and "senior statesmen" because we have experience and hopefully have come to understand our emotions and more importantly understand the feelings of others? Sadly perhaps, some never reach a high EQ, but then again ask yourself where you stand.

Then there is the spiritual dimension. Irrespective of your religious or spiritual orientation or background, learning about the mysteries of life, of our world and of the universe never close but only expand, adding to awe and wonder. Spiritual growth is a daily striving for understanding, for discovering meaning and wrestling with the key questions of all ages. As we share the "Older and Wiser" approaches we come together and share as a Society of learning individuals where learning from one another and collectively is key.

It can be great fun sharing and exploring what we want to learn, what we need to learn and perhaps even how to learn. This is exciting and makes our Society unique and very special. Ulysseans should be on the forefront of ideas and education.

From where I stand on the threshold of a new adventure and witness the members learning together, this is indeed making me "Older and Wiser." I thank you all.

The next time a stranger asks impassively, "How are you today?" think about retorting quickly "I am older and wiser!" I guarantee you will see a surprised expression! And if this starts a conversation, you can share that you are a Ulyssean and dedicated to lifelong learning. Wow, how special!

- Neil Sinclair

Faith at February Inquiring Mind

Is there something in our brains which compels us to seek a higher power? Some scientists say yes. Across the world, be it in the U.S. or in the depth of the Amazonian jungle, people have always had a feeling of a higher power, far beyond them.

One explanation for this urge to go beyond oneself is survival-one is terrified of death. Religious structure creates parameters for human behaviour, a code for moral conduct which keeps the community safely thriving and gives hope for a rewarding After Life. Those who did not have a spiritual belief felt isolated and risked dying in chaos and killing. This is a powerful evolutionary equation. This idea is expounded in a book by Dr. Gene Hamer, Chief of gene structure at the U.S. National Cancer Institute, called The God Gene, How Faith is Hard Wired Into our Genes.

Such reductionism goes against most theologians (of any religion), as well as those who have had life changing spiritual experiences. John Polkinhorne, a physicist who is also Canon Theologian at Liverpool Cathedral, says, "You cannot cut faith down to the lowest common denominator of genetic survival; it shows the poverty of reductionist thinking."

It is important to distinguish between spirituality and religion. Spirituality is a feeling or a state of mind; religion is codified into law and rituals. Spirituality is intensely personal; religion is institutional.

Dr. Mario Beauregard, professor at the Neurological Institute of McGill University, has done groundbreaking work on the neurology of mystical experiences. In his book, The Spiritual Brain, (which we will discuss) he says that spirituality is so widespread that it must be a genetically inherited instinct.

It has been proven that meditation affects specific regions in the brain. Particularly it shows that it lessens the negativity of the amygdala (the stress centre). Moral values associated with a spiritual world view can help us to control our emotional impulses and behave in altruistic fashion.

A study of 4,000 seniors aged 64 to 101 who lived in a residence in Montreal between 1986 and 1992 found that private spiritual activities such as meditation, prayer and Bible studies were associated with greater survival rates. The researchers concluded that those who had spiritual values had appeared to have advantages over those who do not.

The ultimate spiritual experience is what Abraham Maslow called "peak experience," a moment of awe, of rapture, an ineffable moment of pertaining to an "Oceanic Whole." William James called this state of "at onement" with the Universe, the highest level of harmony a human being can experience through his life.

Although this state never lasts, it always leaves one with a feeling of plenitude, gratefulness and peace. We read through the book and discussed our own personal experiences.

- Marie Paulyn

Behind the Candle

Lifelong Learning is a neat idea but what does it, or rather can it, mean? This is a question with a premise. Education is valuable. Knowledge is valuable. Information is valuable. And we all know that we will die and never come close to knowing much about anything or everything so to learn as much as we can is of value.

This begs the question of what we choose to learn. I for one am a dinosaur when it comes to pop culture. I left the updating of music and pop culture in the 1980s when my children felt that educating me was not valuable. I saw Lady Gaga on the Oscars and thankfully she was singing from The Sound of Music. But even with a gun to my head most movies, musical hits and concert tours are gleaned from the MSN home page. I don't care.

"Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever."

Mahatma Gandhi

But I am passionate about knowledge and learning and must think what it is that I want to know and why. I think all of us have to ask that question of ourselves.

For example some "Next Stagers" claim ignorance of computer technology. By and large it is a matter of choosing not to care, like me with pop culture. But having spent a career around the legal sides of the IT industry, I remain curious about the enabling effect of the Information Age and want to stay current with technology. I am failing though, and failing dismally. I don't have an iPhone, I barely realize that Bluetooth is not a dental problem and that "Google" is in the " Urban Dictionary." The sad matter is that try as I might, I can't keep up with my children, new products and the language. And I care and try, believe me.

So there are things I don't give a squat about, and topics I do want to know about but can't keep up with. But what about those things I want to know and to keep on top of? Having practised law for a few decades, I should be knowledgeable and conversant in the many aspects of the law that lead toward the scales of justice.

But again the world's complexity is going to defeat me. There are too many areas of law to know and keep up with. Law has become the world of the specialist and the currency of the trade remains in how much you know about a narrow topic. It seems I am defeated again with areas I care about and should know but rapidly lose track of.

"Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn."

Benjamin Franklin

So what do I want to learn? I am old enough to love books. Books are those items that sit on shelves until you bring them down and curl up with by dockside. I know books and care about them. Well, again, I get into trouble. My son told me that he has 50 books and cases of information on his Kindle. O.K. I have got this topic, I have six on my tablet and can read them nicely, thank you. But books, let's see what I am trying to learn by my bookshelves. I see Quantum Physics, I see sailing the great lakes, I see Manly Hall's book on The Secret Teachings of All Ages. But there are many more on history, philosophy, psychology, science, biographies, travel and the list goes on. I start thinking that I am my own worst enemy. I am trying to learn too much stuff for one lifetime!

I better be around for a long time, there is so much yet to learn. But again I am stopped by my friend who admonishes me for so much reading. "Neil," he suggests, "Go and experience life, get off your duff and explore, see and experience." So here I go again. I plan an expedition to Scotland this year. Last year we walked across the Grand Canyon. Before that Florida, then France, eastern Europe and so on. As to what to experience, well there is so much in the bucket list!

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

Maya Angelou

Just when I think that I have mastered this lifelong learning my daughter approaches me. "Desks can kill you!" I try to get her meaning. Yes sitting is bad for you, now take your Yoga lesson! So learning now becomes the gym, the pool, and learning about anatomy and how to keep my body in the best shape I can. I recall many years ago my children educating me on eating. Yes, I love to eat. Another challenge. I am trying to lose more weight and I love new tastes and I am enrolled in a cooking class in April. This learning has been and continues to be a massive challenge!

So now I find myself in with a Society of Life Long Learners, students with a shared passion, to learn. Well I am so glad I have met so many new students and educators. Perhaps they understand the pressures of learning as well, what to learn, how to learn, what tools are needed and then after we get inputs, how to share and teach others. I end where I began, what to learn next and what to share. There is no end, and at least I am with others in the Society that care and share.

That is a good thing! I leave with a final quote by Jiddu Krishnamurti, a speaker and Indian philosopher (that you can now watch on YouTube). He becomes a Ulyssean when he says,

"There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning."

So nice to be in good company!

- Neil Sinclair

Guests are welcome at our meetings

Invite your friends, relatives, acquaintances,

fellow students in the courses you take,

members in other groups you are in

Become an active part of your Society

Help it to continue to function well

The Ulyssean mantra - A guiding principle