The Merlin Foundation

This site is to be used for open and honest discussions which lead to the improvement of life for Women, Children and Families. NOTE: To post a comment click on the topic (recent posts) listed on the left. A comment button will be at the bottom of the page. To e-mail a column to a friend, click on the envelope at the bottom of the post.

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Location: Green Forest, Arkansas, United States

We are a non-profit organization located in Green Forest, Arkansas serving women, children and families. To view our programs or to contact us please go to our website

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Teen Pregnancy Project

As many of you know about four months ago the Foundation entered into a joint venture to produce a series of projects to serve the “Purpose and Mission of the Foundation". The history and purpose of Itty Bitty Productions had always been to help nonprofit organizations as well as the Foundation.

One of these projects has been to create an educational mini-documentary on Teen Pregnancy. After a great start one of the Mothers of an actor decided she wanted to withdraw all video and stills showing her son. We did have a signed release from the Mother before filming. While we could have gone ahead and publish the material we did withdraw everything. A setback but not a deal killer for us.

This was a portion of the lead into the mini-doc and not the documentary itself.  That said we are ready to begin filming this fall and would like more teen mothers and fathers with related family members to interview. Cost is a factor so we would like to film much of it in our Green Forest Studio and limit field shooting to Carroll, Boone or Madison Counties here in Arkansas.

Here is where you could really help. We would like to interview at least four females who are or were pregnant as teenagers and their male partners if available. No one presently over 20 now . If they are under 18 and do not have a court signed emancipation decree we would need a parent or legal guardian to sign releases.

Now if we had our dream it would be to have one who is no more than 5 months pregnant who we could follow with scheduled shoots until the baby is a few months old. Interviews with friends, school personnel and family members would make it special.

If you are interested in helping others with one of the biggest decisions in their lives, having  baby, you can contact us via our website us by clicking here.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Insecurity is life

As most of you know I have spent a reasonable length of time and concerted effort to the study of psychology. A few have rightly or wrongly considered me somewhat of an expert in the area. That said, it wasn’t until I began studying screenwriting  in the 70’s that I ran across a fantastic teacher named Lajos Egri who understood more than anyone before or after about the construction of characters by the playwright.  In his works he declared the base human emotion and the one base driver in every case of conflict in life is insecurity.  Over the last forty plus years I have written a bit, talked a lot and most of all observed this slice of truth.

I must admit I felt that this was an over simplification.  Surely with the DSM III, IV et. al. there is a lot more than this to a dysfunctional life.  Frankly, there is when you consider the numerous organic causes for psychic discomfort and psychological dysfunction.  However, once you take away all the neuro-chemical and organic issues causing the pain and suffering experienced by so called normal folks like you and me in our day to day discomfort and fear we find the villain insecurity.

This topic became an issue for two of my friends recently. Both above normal or average intelligence, neither having what would be considered organic dysfunction, although I suspect in one case a slight abuse of prescription medications, but pretty close to normal folks like most of us si I was going to write about them. Then on July fourth at 2:30 in the morning a friend died of an abdominal aneurysm. One day short of his 69th. Birthday. Interestingly, exactly one week short of my own 70th. Sick as this sounds I learned about it at 6:00 AM on the fifth on, of all things, “Facebook”.  Here I might interject that should I live another six days I will have outlived every relative I have for the last three generations with the exception of two daughters. This also includes a younger sibling.

OK so here is the deal.  I feel pretty good, look OK, many are shocked to know I am seventy.  I realize however the stuff can hit the fan next Thursday night and I could join my friend gone one day short of a milestone. I might mention here that both he and I are and were still working and I assure you he looked great.

So now we come to the point and I can with great relief talk about me and my experience and not about my observation of someone else.  I, by the way, learned a long time ago, that you can make a very educated guess about what is going on in another person’s mind, but it is always a guess.  We, and in most cases even they do not know for sure.

I watched Facebook as the many friend of my friend told his wife, “so sorry”, “praying for you” and if I can help let me know. About all any of us can say when we are not in the wife’s shoes. Me, I wrote an incomplete sentence, stopped and realized I was in a mild state of shock.  That was almost 12 hours after I had learned of his death. I might add here that after a couple of hours I did write of my concern, my personal loss and my compassion for those he left behind. Saying more accurately what I really wanted to express.

So what happened grounded me in my insecurity?  It was an instant recognition and vivid reminder of how fragile we all are and that life has absolutely no guarantee or any form of predictability or longevity. Someone said  life is uncertain, eat dessert first. I don’t know for sure, but at least for me I have not eaten all my dessert yet. I at my very core, the root of my existence don’t know if I will see the dawn of tomorrow and neither do you. This is in part why humanity has invented hundreds gods of old, numerous religions and have a never ending need for things.  Money, power, and importance become what most of us live for. Surely If I am a Senator or billionaire God will let me enjoy a peaceful and long life and at last I will feel secure. How about if I am a Guru, holy person or even a Pope? No my friends it boils down to this... No one knows the future and not one of us can control tomorrow, we can however, choose to be kind, caring and respectful in thought word and deed every minute. We must realize insecurity is life and that is just way it is. We do not have to trample others, get more money or power or the next ego satisfying gain to feel secure. We have to be able to honestly say…. If I do not see tomorrow’s sunrise, I and all who I encounter are at peace and content that I have spent every minute of my life honestly and without harm to others. That is all the security anyone of ever gets. Peace of mind others will care when your time is due.

Oh, by the way, over the last year or two, I don’t remember when my friend wasn’t trying to help someone else, had a warm smile on his face and left you wanting to see him again and just visit. I sincerely feel, in his own way he already figured this all out.

I sincerely hope you, like I suspect my friend have already figured this out and this note is just another confirmation not a new thought at all.


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Negotiating With the Self

I was recently talking with a friend who really believed in our work with women and children who have experienced major physical and sexual abuse.  She was even an infrequent donor to our mission. As we were talking I mentioned a recent post on our Facebook “Like” page about a Bishop making the claim he didn’t know it was against the law for Priests to have sexual relationships with children.  From her body language I could tell she was very uncomfortable with what I was saying. Realizing that the Catholic Church has been embroiled for years in allegations, court trails, settlements and hundreds of millions of dollars in fines in the United States alone as victim reparations, I was caught flat footed with her response.

Link to FB "Like"  page Click Here:
Link to Article on our page that caused the event:Click here

She, in a very emphatic way, externally showing what one would consider polite anger, let me know that these were all trumped up charges against “her” Catholic Church. Realizing I had hit the famed wall of “Cognitive Dissonance”, I tried to retreat. I complemented the Pope’s recent actions to stop this abuse and hold Priests accountable. Bottom line this seemed to add fuel to the fire. Changing the topic of the conversation and talking about the great Spring and early Summer we were having soon found us both feeling better.

If you would like a brief layman’s explanation of Cognitive Dissonance Click here

It seems today that people get so angry and occasionally violent (I’ll leave school shootings for another day) over opposing political, religions, environmental and relationship issues with no room for civil discussion or willingness to clearly see or think through the other person’s point of view disturbing. I believe the increased tension, near violent news reporting, hateful political rhetoric and the hard line movement of a large number of religious organizations moving to forms of hate speech has so polarized our consciousness that violence has and will continue to increase.

As a middle child, read up on “Birth Order Factor” I learned to do three things; Attack in bully mode; Two having failed at number one negotiate my heart out where everyone is happy or; Three go into a poor pitiful, helpless hurt me routine. According to “Birth Order Factor” the eldest dominates in mode one and rarely looses and the youngest operated almost exclusively from mode three.

For a layman’s explanation of “Birth Order Factor: Click here

Where I want to go with this is that we are all encouraged to buckle up and lock down our beliefs. They are reinforced daily by friends, family, the media and even our religious institutions and guess what some of those beliefs may not be true, only partially true or in any way valid. The result is internal suffering, anxiety and in some cases the loss of a great friendship or a relationship.

Before that happens may I suggest you, once you feel these feelings, stop. Listen to everything without the intent on changing the other person or above all winning the argument, and find a quiet place and think it over. I personally like a journal or writing paper to express my thoughts so I can read them back to myself later. Clearly define YOUR belief where you discovered it or had it imprinted in your head. Question are you so sure of it you will it run your life and could cause you suffering. Then, even without having personal background information from the other person, consider that belief. Take some time and peacefully negotiate with yourself until you find that peace again. Be willing to change if necessary.

Lastly, should you decide you are 100% right and the other person is 100% wrong go ahead, but if you run into the same belief made pain “Cognitive Dissonance”, again, it may be time to reexamine your belief for a second or third time..

I have found that after as many as four of these sessions three things seem to occur. One, when my belief is confronted I find no disturbance or pain and do not need to argue my point, Two I do not have any need to push, deliver or even state my belief on others and finally, I have internal peace.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Domestic Violence Homicide

Not long ago we had a domestic violence – homicide in our little rural community. Having been in the domestic violence shelter and support services for over 15 years we were asked to write a few words for one of the local papers to be added to an article. While I admire and trust the reporter who requested the information I also have experienced the “I was edited” by a friendly reporter whose hands were tied and I caught the brunt of the edited outcry.  I decided to write a few words, but perhaps due to old age I decided I would shoot as straight as I could.  I also realized that old saying if you tell the truth without humor you will be killed. There is no humor here. This is what I wrote. I will let the paper refer to this blog that way editing will be limited. Realizing selective quoting can still present a problem. We would love to hear your opinion after you have read and thought about everything.
Here it goes:

First, let me express my profound sadness for the children and innocent family members in this case. That said I believe we must look deeply into three issues which rest at the core of this homicide and all acts of violence. We must realize that in the case of domestic violence the operative word is violence.

First, I think we can all agree that the human race is hard wired for violence. Has always been that way and likely will continue until extinction.  Nothing here we can directly impact unless science discovers the violence gene and finds a way to wire around it.

Second, all monotheistic religion, which covers nearly the entire globe are based on violence. All have it in their histories, all agree under certain circumstances it is allowed and in some cases demand it. Magnify this with the fact that most children are raised from birth with these teachings.  As an aside, I find it interesting on the web at the beginning of every hunting season there are countless pictures of young children smiling with their parents over their first kill. We can leave the entire concept of war to stand on its own merits.

Lastly, more specific to this case is the lack of gender equality and respect.  Again religions have a major impact here. We as a nation cannot even get an equal pay bill passed and the ERA has been left by the side of the partisan politics roadside.

Make no mistake I am not blaming religion for this or society’s ills, but they do have a role in it and all have the resources to change it. I sincerely hope they do.

So what can we do?  We can keep a fresh supply of bandages on hand. Court improvement projects, domestic violence programs, universal mental health care for those in need, sexual assault centers and most of all public peaceful outrage.

We must stop blaming the alcohol, drugs, poor parenting, and the endless contributing factors and look at our society and our love of violence. Would NASCAR exist if they didn’t have a spectacular wreck now and then?  Lastly, look every minute and every day how you think, talk and act with your fellow human beings. We are in this together and that is how we will get out of it whole… together.