I had the virus last week – and lack of tobacco almost killed me.

My macrobiotic friends back in Syracuse, 40 years ago, taught me that the reason most of them smoked cigarettes – at least occasionally – was that tobacco is very yang. When their intensive spiritual pursuits got them out of balance – got them too “yin” or expanded or spacey – tobacco was a great tool to get them back in their bodies, solid again.

My expanded, positive, high energy has – for my whole life – been very hard to keep grounded.

30 years ago the psychiatrists erroneously diagnosed me as having bipolar disorder because my energy swings tend to be so intense. I certainly am way outside of the typical bell curve in this regard.

Because medical psychiatrists have refined the process of judging/labeling people into a pseudoscience, they were incapable of seeing this difference as simply different.

If the only real tool that you have in your toolbox is the hammer of diagnosis, then every struggling person you encounter looks like a nail – a disease.

Even my last wonderful psychotherapist, who I saw weekly for seven years and genuinely loved – and knew that she loved me – was still so imprisoned in the psychiatric mindset that, when I struggled to convey to her the good places that my “up” energy would take me, she dismissed all that with one sentence: “You’re not sleeping enough – you are disregulated.”

I liked and loved and trusted her so much that I allowed this dismissive judgment to crush that particular wave of my insurrection against the psychiatric power structure. It took another couple of years – and a super-powerful spiritual experience – for me to finally wriggle free from that death grip.

Here is my most complete statement to date about my relationship with tobacco.


Covid Day 7: Sun, 2-21 “Thanks friends and happy spring.”

Audio of Majo John reading this text:


Pretty much out of the blue, the virus ( or something) jumped me real hard over the course of last Monday.

I live way out in the country – and I have been very sick. Saturday, very worn down from several days of being sick, when a friend on the phone asked me to “promise me that you will stay alive until tomorrow”, I just couldn’t promise.

“Last night I fought sleep because I was afraid that when I woke up, I might be dead.”

I think it was the help of friends on the phone yesterday that allowed me to fight back last night and this morning.

I tell the story of my capacity to fight even for my own life kicking back in, in this emotional and scenically beautiful 8″ video, filmed in the lower pasture of the farm where little Panchita and I have mostly parked our camper van to stay indoors for the coldest months of the winter, January and February.

We still were spending our nights in the van for the whole month of December. To hear a description of our very real difficulties on Christmas Day – and the very generous and even heroic efforts by my friends to get us in out of the cold – either scroll down in this blog until you get back to December 27, or enter “Two sides of Spruce Pine” in the search bar in the upper right column at the top of this blog. You can access this search function anytime you are in this blog.

(Or click on this link:


Thanks, Majo John

“Thanks friends and happy Spring“:


Adopting Panchita

Reprinted from mybuddysblog.wordpress.com)

Listen to Majo read this post:


It took me about five years after Buddy’s death to be ready for another dog.

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My Buddy, age 10

In that fifth year, I started showing signs that I was ready.  I was asking a lot of customers in my grocery store checkout line about their dogs – I was really curious about the dog, but especially about their relationship with the dog.  These sometimes extended conversations made my checkout line even slower than usual, but I often just ignored the signs of anxiety or even irritation in the person next in the line.  “Hey, we’re talking about dogs here – this is important!”

I started talking about dogs in my weekly psychotherapy sessions.  Lorrie, my psychotherapist, had recently lost her beloved dog Poppy and totally understood why this topic was important enough to use a therapy session for it.

After one of these sessions, I came home and told my roommate Marvin (who was crazy about animals, and I knew would be interested in this) “In my therapy session today, I got really clear – I’m ready for another dog.”  Marvin seemed totally unsurprised by this and said with great poise, “I’ve got your dog.”  Well, I was surprised.  “You’ve got my dog!?” Marvin explained to me that his good friend Lucy had told him that morning that her MS had progressed to the point that she could no longer pick up her tiny (5 lb.) dog Toni – and she decided that it was time to give her up.

Sherri Lynn cashier with Toni
Toni the junior cashier, at Earth Fare

Marvin – who always spent time with Toni on his frequent visits with Lucy and was very fond of the adorable little dog – had that morning promised Lucy that he would help her find a home for Toni.  So he was, in fact, completely unsurprised by my disclosure.  Toni was an extremely sweet, very special little dog and he was sure we would be a match.

When we went to visit Luci and Toni, I was immediately smitten with this adorable little yorkipoo.  Lucy was obviously having a hard time with Toni’s imminent departure, but said “We have been saying our goodbyes – our karma with each other is complete.” Lucy’s roommate said two very telling things during our half-hour visit.  Shortly after I got there, she said “Toni is really liking you already.”  And as I was leaving with Toni, she said, “She’s really happy to be going with you.”

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Toni with Aunt Diana, in front of Battery Park Apartments

I adopted Toni at age 8.  We immediately became very close to each other.  People would frequently say, “She adores you.”  She was a rarified being – almost another species than a dog.  People on the street, who had never seen her before, would often say “She’s an angel” or “She’s an angelic little being.”

I had Toni for just two years.  A year into our life together, she was walking even less than usual and was diagnosed with congestive heart failure.  The vet said, “Like people with heart disease, she may last a long time – or she could have a heart attack tomorrow.”

After a slow decline, she was diagnosed with liver disease and I knew her days were numbered.  Three days after the liver disease diagnosis, my friends Lisa and Karen punctured my denial: “She’s looking really terrible – it’s time to let her go.”  Three days later, I had the mobile euthanasia vet come to my apartment – and six of Toni’s best human friends joined us as we let her go.

I took Toni’s death hard.  People in our senior living facility almost immediately started asking me if I was going to get another dog.  I was very clear with them: “It’s way too soon to be asking me that – I’m not going to be ready for another dog for at least a year, maybe two.”

Toni died on October 1, 2018.  On December 22, I was at Petsmart – strictly to buy a “smart tag”.  I was doing professional dog sitting and was about to have a seven-day overnight pet sit with Freddie, a very cute 20 lb rat terrier.  I got the gig through Rover.com and Rover recommended that for an extended job like this you should get a smart tag with your information on it – and put that tag on their collar for the duration of your visit with them.

As I was looking at the tags at Petsmart, the overhead speaker announced that Rusty’s Rescue from Marion, NC, was having a dog adoption day.  Much to my surprise, I had just a few days earlier begun thinking about getting another dog.  On this particular Saturday, I was very clear with myself that no way was I yet going to get another dog – “But let’s go just look at them, to get some idea of what I’m looking for.” Famous last words, right?

The first two dogs I looked at were very cute, but didn’t stir my heart.  The third dog – sitting way back in her crate, was a chihuahua.  I have never liked chihuahuas.  But she looked at me.  She stared at me with her big brown eyes.  For what seemed like an eternity, she just would not break eye contact with me. 

When I finally broke the eye contact, I think I said out loud “My doggie.”  I took her for a walk around the parking lot, but I knew that was just a formality – she was already mine, and maybe even more so I was hers.

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Pancho in one of her favorite places – in the car.

By the time I drove away with Pancho, we were already totally bonded.  Three days later I took her on a walk on my favorite stretch of the Mountain-to-Sea Trail, where I had taken Buddy many times.  I knew that a leash was unnecessary.  She stayed right at my heal for the 30-minute walk.  We belonged to each other.

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Panchita and I bonded fast – like right away.


How to approach my videos of Appalachia in the year of the pandemic…

Listen to this text in Majo’s voice (10″):


Last April, at age 73, I fled my subsidized senior apartment building in Asheville, North Carolina to prevent being quarantined in that building.

I spent the next week living out of my car in Asheville. I posted information about the events of that week on Facebook. At the end of that week, a good friend of mine – concerned about me from what she was seeing about me on Facebook – texted me that she had a little walk-in basement apartment in her own home out in the mountains, and that I should come out there to get away from the mean streets of pandemic Asheville.

My little dog Panchita and I spent six weeks out at Petula’s house in the mountains. (I have given her the name “Petula” to protect her privacy.)

On day 2 out in the mountains, I realized why I had been so unhappy in Asheville. “I was meant to be living out in the mountains all along!”

The power of nature out in the Appalachian Mountains transformed me – and my little chihuahua – in the next few weeks.

When it was time to leave my friend’s home, Pancho and I pushed farther north – in search of a new home. We first went to Marshall, NC, a very sweet town nestled on the beautiful French Broad River – full of artists displaced by the steeply-rising studio rents in boom-town Asheville.


Pancho the wonder-Chihuahua

From there, we pushed further north to Burnsville and Bakersville – then over the sacred Roan Mountain to the sleepy little town of Roan Mountain, Tennessee.

Several people now have told me that when I finally settle somewhere out in the north country, I should consider the Toe River area and the Celo community. I’ve got a hunch that’s going to turn out to be accurate.

Four months before the Covid hit America, I had left my “retirement job” as a grocery store cashier to pursue my creative vision of an innovative consulting and coaching practice – that would be driven equally by my lifelong passions of storytelling and dance.

The pandemic made sure that there was no chance of getting this new business off the ground. My Social Security check never covers our expenses for the whole month – and often we have spent the second half of the month being quite poor.

I worked for years in a black VA hospital, raised a black son – and have been generally sculpted to have a special relationship with people of color. The “summer of racial reckoning” has figured heavily in my experience of the last eight months.

Driving a big, very old van which we park in random places has naturally drawn the attention of local police, in every town where we have spent much time. I have had almost entirely great experiences with police.

I never can know how much of that very positive experience with police has to do with me being white, but I have yet to encounter a country cop who I could spot as being more racist than the rest of us white people. I have had extraordinary conversations with several police officers about the dialectic between laws or rules and personal freedom.

And then there has been the constant specter of our 45th president, that has cast such a giant shadow on our country.

One of my central experiences has been to fall in love with the people of Appalachia – who are mostly not unusually racist, but suffer from lack of experience with diversity. Although they mostly support our current president, they are not stupid at all – but suffer from a radical lack of good information.

The serious lack of good broadband coverage in rural America is a very significant civil rights issue of our time. (I have spent extraordinary amounts of time hunting for a good Wi-Fi signal.)

Along the way, a generous $5000 grant from a good friend allowed me to move up from the little Suzuki mini SUV – which had been a torture chamber to attempt to sleep in, and after two months of very little sleep had left me toxically exhausted – to a very old Ford Econoline camper van.

I dubbed my cargo truck Narwal the Whale in honor of her 6000 pound weight – and “A turning radius like an ocean liner”.

Narwal has been a central figure in our journey. She has had a world of electrical problems and tends to run out of gas because of a broken gas gauge.

But she has a bed, she is virtually indestructible, she has gotten us down roads that she never should have – and even though she has sometimes gotten stuck, we have always gotten out before the end of the day.

Narwal the Whale – ’88 Ford Econoline camper van

At this point, we are taking shelter for the winter – out of our camper van – in a little apartment way up in the mountains north of Spruce Pine, North Carolina. But we are committed to our mobile lifestyle and will go back out on the open road in Narwal the Whale come spring. I love asking my little dog Pancho, at the beginning of each day, “Where shall we live tomorrow?”

I started our adventure as a writer. I guess I am still a writer, but I have also morphed into a videographer. Most of my writing these days consists of my spontaneous observations while I am videotaping the towns and countryside of the Appalachian mountains.

At this point, I have well upwards of 200 videos – which I cherish as documentation of our journey of personal transformation – and many of which I think may be helpful to other people.

I have learned a lot out in these mountains, especially about myself and my dog – but my background as a psychologist and a management consultant has caused me to muse about topics including “the demise of humanistic capitalism in America”, “the ongoing rape of Appalachia”, “the systematic oppression of homeless people”, “why alpha dogs make bad cops and women make good ones” and other topics.

My personal background includes a lifelong passion for and commitment to personal growth and healing – and 30 years of being misdiagnosed as having bipolar disorder, and being heavily drugged with psychotropic medications during that whole period.

You will hear in many of these videos how totally thrilled I am to be drug-free and fully alive. And I do have many things to say about “the problem of pain”.

I now believe that most of psychology and psychiatry can be boiled down to “What do we do with our human pain?” Philosophers have mused about this question through the ages – and the Buddha’s first principle is that “life is suffering”.

I have many pointed things to say about what I consider to be an out-of-control psychiatry industry.

Several of my posts deal with an event that occurred last June back in Asheville. I had been punched in the face and reported to the big, newly-“for-profit” hospital – asking to be treated for a possible concussion and/or broken nose. I also reported that “I think I’m kind of delirious.”

The ER intake team saw in my records my background of psych hospitalizations and locked me up on a psych unit. They never treated me for a concussion or a broken nose – both of which their own ER later confirmed that I had. My discharge summary from the hospital, after 48 hours, made no mention of any medical complaints.

In this post I offer two videos;

The first video suggests ideas about how to make fruitful use of my videos.

I shot the second video about 15 minutes after the first one. It deals with the topic of “good things and bad things”. It flows naturally out of that first video, because the first video ends with me discovering that I have left my car lights on and that my battery is dead.

One might think that having a broken-down car would be a bad thing, but maybe not….

How to watch these videos (13″):


Good things and bad things (10″):


The second pole of my spiritual path – reclaiming our sexuality.

Hear Majo read this introduction:


It seems very telling to me that, after I have posted so much on this blog about my spiritual path, up to this point I have posted no post that directly addresses sexuality.

This simply confirms to me that, in fact, even as we like to believe that we have become such a sexually liberated society, we are still pathetically puritanical when it comes to sex.

I try to redress this imbalance in this post. It includes a re-post of what I have called my “Second Initiation” – an event on December 3, 2019 in which I was introduced to the spiritual power of sexuality.

“Second Initiation” audio track: hear this post in Majo’s voice (9″):


“Second Initiation” text – reposted from majowakingup.com (majowakingup.wordpress.com if the $100 annual “premium” fee has not been paid):

https://majo waking up.wordpress.com/2019/12/21/the-second-initiation/

My current sexuality, videotaped (17″):


Dancing, sex, kundalini-release all sit side-by-side. Rock on, Dr. Footloose!


Pancho and the German Shepherd in Spear, North Carolina

It’s good for a male dog owner to have a female dog. In our nine months of “running the back roads of Appalachia during the pandemic”, my doggie Panchita has been a real partner. I have given her tremendous amounts of love, freedom and exercise.

She has evolved into quite the extraordinary dog: brave, athletic, and loving to almost all people and other dogs – except those she dislikes.

She was initially intimidated by the big steps into our new/old camper van (Narwal the Whale), but now scrambles up them with no problem.

She has picked up many more English words – and has developed a very sophisticated vocabulary for telling me when she wants something: little whines, yips and chirps. Or, nonverbally, she will put a paw on my leg or lightly rest it on my foot.

She hates leashes because she is on them so seldom. But if I need to put her on one, like to go into a grocery store, she accedes to my request and walks right at my side like I paid $2000 to teach her how to do that.

And, different from many of my female human friends, she doesn’t mind it one bit if I call her a bitch – as long as I smile when I say that.

She seems to understand that it is just a word – and I think she may be aware that, in her case, that specific word is technically accurate.

A year ago, after 18 months of living in the seniors apartment building with many yappie little dogs whose owners did not know how to manage them – including a couple of very genuinely aggressive dogs – she got really scared, and for a while became aggressive towards all dogs herself.

Lots of love and reassurance and protection from other dogs melted her fears – and she began to return to her natural state of liking her own species.

At this point she likes or loves most dogs. She seems uninterested in older dogs – or maybe just any dog who seems kind of “out of it”.

And she is completely crazy about big dogs. She only wants to run and play with them and is pretty much beside herself with excitement around them – as you’ll see in this short video:


Our personal responsibility to see that justice is delivered to Donald Trump

Click this link to hear an audio recording of me reading the text of this post:


The case presented today by the brilliant house democratic impeachment managers was airtight and devastating.

They laid out very clearly that President Trump had – even before the election – begun to stoke the rage and violence of his followers. And that, in the two months between the election and the Capitol riot, he did everything possible to continue building that rage.

As his followers turned progressively more violent over November and December, he never once in any way criticized their violent excesses, but only applauded them. He personally called that crowd to Washington that day – and for three weeks beforehand, he incited them with more and more violent imagery.

On the day that he spoke to the rally that preceded the riot, he absolutely knew that many in that crowd were armed and violent – and he chose to work them up even more.

As the violence escalated over the course of the afternoon he steadfastly refused to do or say anything to try to stop it – even when members of his own party and his own family were begging him to do so.

Being glued to every word of the presentation today was, for me, both breathtaking and personally devastating. It all was too horrible to watch – and I couldn’t take my eyes off it. It’s just too important.

Any of you readers of this post who choose not to subject yourself to that much coverage of the impeachment proceedings can be forgiven for doing so.

But none of us who enjoy the benefits of living in this country can evade personal responsibility for seeing that justice is done.

The public servants whose lives were in such great danger on January 6 are our employees – they work for us. If any of us colludes with the Republicans sweeping all this under the rug, then we have made a decision to not care about any of those public servants who were in so much danger.

Most Republican senators knew before the impeachment began that Trump was guilty. The only reason any of them would vote to acquit is because they’re still afraid that Trump will organize a primary against them and that it will hurt their political careers.

It is incumbent on each one of us to make very clear to our own senators that, if they choose to acquit Trump, we will take personal responsibility for making sure they pay a price for that cowardly abandonment of their duty.

I am going to contact my North Carolina Senator Richard Burr, tomorrow and spell out very clearly: “If you vote to acquit, you will have abandoned your oath to judge the case impartially. I will do everything in my power to make sure you pay a price for this.”

I will also send him the blog post below, which I created last week after watching Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ powerful Instagram post about her personal trauma from the riot. The post includes a three minute audio introduction, a four-minute video of AOC’s Instagram post, and my two minute rant about our personal responsibility to act.


(Richard Burr, United States senator from North Carolina: 202-224-3154.)