The Elixir of Compassion

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Compassion is a quality of personal fulfillment. Having undergone an arduous ‘hero cycle’ journey, the survivor-hero has experienced within him/herself many of the so-called faults s/he might earlier have harshly judged in others.  To be an independent-minded person, as one must often be to escape the bonds of group-based limitations, one must strike out alone, forging new pathways. This may lead others to judge that person as an outsider or as a rebel. But to follow your own heart and fulfill your Soul longings often requires a departure from standard norms.  In the end, the highest standard we must aim to achieve is mastery of our own individual potentials for the good of the greater whole.

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Compassion is an empathetic appreciation of someone else’s difficulties or hardship.  Living outside the bounds of normative behavior or attitudes oneself can help one develop compassion with regard to other ‘outliers,’ other “Others.”  And in some ways, we are each outliers, as we are each so individual in our personality and Soul potentials.

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There’s a wonderful though terribly heart-wrenching film, Two Spirits, about the too short life of Fred Martinez, a Navajo teen who was murdered by a skinhead in Cortez, Colorado, because s/he was “different.”  In Navajo culture, traditionally gender is a continuum rather than a binary dichotomy: four genders are recognized, not two.  Fred Martinez realized his core gender identity as a nadłe, sometimes translated as “two-spirit.” Navajo traditional culture not only acknowledges but celebrates these special persons who, as nadłe, blend male anatomy with a feminine role identity. Unfortunately, many in Anglo/ White society are not yet so enlightened as to “live and let live” with respect to gender-benders.

Fred Martinez transversed masculine and feminine gender modes fluidly in his young life, sometimes dressing “trans” and other times in jeans and tees.  But as he grew into him/herself, despite encountering opposition from authorities and some of his classmates at school, he embraced his individual uniqueness and displayed a mixed identity with honesty and courage.  On the way to a fair one horrible evening, Fred took a ride from a group of skinheads, one of whom later chased him down and violently murdered him, bashing in his head many times with a rock.

(sigh.) Fred Martinez was described by his mother and friends as a compassionate person who would go to great lengths to offer solace and lend an ear. He may have grown to become a counselor had he survived.  Navajo culture, in fact, recognizes Two Spirits (male-to-feminine and female-to-masculine persons) as specially gifted communicators who transcend divisions between people, so they can be the greatest mediators in a community.

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images are from pixabay.com

How  has learning more about yourself from being an outsider or ‘different’ in your own ways helped you to develop compassion for the troubles others experience?

I invite YOUR  comments and stories!

What Do You Stand For?

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When does your Warrior archetype show up for you in your life?  Is this a primary archetype for you, or situational? Remembering that all persona archetype characters have potentially both positive (Strength) and “negative” (Shadow) modes–and masculine and/or feminine forms, too–could you look back over your Life Story to trace times or situations when you have relied on the Warrior to help you move forward, or perhaps also when your Warrior nature may have embroiled you or held you back?

Let’s focus of the Strengrth mode of the Warrior. This is a facet of your Self that will step forward and stand up for a worthy cause that is dear to your Heart.

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So, what do you STAND FOR with your Warrior spirit? What is worth claiming, worth defending or striving for?  I invite your Warrior nature to step forward and communicate. What do you stand for, Warrior?

I welcome the reader to go within by active imagination, and/or to journal from your Warrior’s perspective. As a sample, I feel my Warrior ready to declare some of what I stand for and have stood up for in my life.

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I STAND FOR:

We (Self & Warrior) have always stood up in this lifetime for FREEDOM: Freedom of thought, choice, and action. For a long time as an adult this has meant standing up for “diversity,” defined in terms of minorities or underrepresented peoples. We pursued this with our degree in Anthropology–specializing in Native American studies, global gender studies, and the inviolability of indigenous peoples’ rights, cultures, choices, languages. More recently, however, this CAUSE has shifted its focus. Now, we stand up to proclaim:

“ALL LIVES MATTER!”

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free images from pixabay.com

Spirit and Soul matter, along with all positive, freedom-granting, life affirming beliefs and spiritual practices.

“All lives matter,” as a new banner credo for my integrated Self, comes from a recent Mystic realization that: “All are cut from the same cloth.” This brings unconditional love.

I/we still care about diversity; variation is the palette of Divine love and reflects or may be a measure of the health and well being of the Cosmos Itself. But the divisions people devise to divide are, ultmately, illusory. Experience differentiates by community or culture, class, subculture, ethnicity, race, or religion; whatever. But underlying all that beautiful spectrum of diversity:

ALL ARE CUT FROM THE SAME CLOTH.

I oppose, then, only divisiveness or threats to the full expression of life affirming freedom.

What do You Stand For, Now?

Family Better Endings

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Ah, Family! What a blessing, in whatever form we share with those in our innermost circle.  Families come in many forms around the world in various cultures or conditions. Universally, families serve vital functions: raising and caring for children, providing economic support for one another, providing a nurturing living environment.

In our post-modern condition, sometimes families are composed of social relations including but also extending beyond our genealogical connections; “families we choose”.   In my own experience, though I have lived 1000’s of miles from my core family for most of my adult life, family is bedrock; those whom I return to every opportunity there is. Family carries a value of Acceptance which truly is deeper than blood. It is where unconditional love can be relied on, no matter what ‘outside’ conditions you might  face. I also live with a home family of other-than-human animal companions; we share that same total reciprocity of unconditional love, acceptance and mutual caring as with siblings and mother (my father has passed).

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My mother is in a nursing home now, 87 next month, suffering from late stage Parkinson’s and arthritis.  Her children and grandchildren and sisters visit her at every opportunity, aiming to bring the best possible Better Endings her way.  She deserves the best, too, as she gave of herself and continues to give of herself to all her relations, always.  I dedicate this week of Better Endings blog posts to my Mom, Elizabeth, in upstate New York.

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Better Endings in my life have often come through family ties.  Whether it was my mother always somehow knowing exactly when I might need a phone call from Buffalo to Phoenix, AZ, or catching up with all the activity in my brother and sisters’ busy lives and families of their own, family time is an uplifting balm for the Soul.

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One quick memory to share of Family Better Endings in tribute to my mother; I would not be alive today—nor most of my siblings—had this not occurred.  Cincinnati, Ohio, circa 1961. (I was 6.) We had a swimming pool in our back yard and my brother, sister Lee and I were swimming.  Mom was in the screened in back porch, attending. Very quickly, gray clouds amassed. Suddenly, my mother came out and yelled urgently at us all: “Get OUT of the pool, NOW!” We did, not knowing what was wrong. We all scurried with Mom into the porch area, and no sooner had we reached the porch when, WHAM! A huge bolt of lightning struck the water!

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We have asked her for years, “Mom, how did you know?” All she can answer is, “A Mother just knows.”

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My Mom, with my sister Lee, her daughter, Daughter-in-law, and grandchild (by Lee Ireland)

I invite your stories and insights, in any form (e.g. poetry, photos, or prose) about Family and Better Endings. I’m sure we all have plenty to tell!

P.S.: Thank You to everyone reading this blog, either regularly or for your first visit!  What a new world we live in where we can all share like this!

Respect–A Key Ingredient for Better Endings

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As a first principle for manifesting Better Endings, respect goes a long way.Catherine mentions as this week’s guest blogger how important respect can be for an entire nation to advance. Respect for difference on a collective scale allows innovation to thrive and fosters a climate of shared abundance instead of petty conflict or divisiveness. I always tell Anthropology students that the degree to which we respect diversity at home is a measure of how well minority cultures and languages, e.g., will be maintained for the sake of the development and sharing of different sources of adaptive knowledge and values on our planet. Variation is a key to the continued evolution of an entire species, including ours.

With regard to our weekly topic of relationship changes, mutual respect for one another’s goals, needs and talents is vital for fostering growth and success for one another. For both partners  to thrive, respect must flow in both directions, supporting each other’s dreams and providing a refuge from external challenges.

Self respect is also a top ingredient for creating Better Endings in our lives, which benefits not just ourselves alone but those we serve. Healthy self respect engenders patience and fortitude to stay the course on a project you believe in, even when others haven’t yet caught onto the idea. Aim your dreams toward that Star that others will not even see or appreciate for its beauty until it is fully risen.

Answering this week’s Life Mapping prompt of ‘What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?’ allows you to give respect to your own Life Dreams. ARE we ever really “all grown up”, anyway? People who answer this question as they would have as a child and then Now often tell me they are so much more practical now. But what do we give up in the process of settling into our ‘grown-up’ lives? That’s why I keep posing this question, especially to adults. Never give up on your dreams! Cultivate your creative goals and follow your inspirations, though they may come from a part of yourself–your childhood, as you might call that–that has been suppressed or neglected. Your imagination is your gift to use for the benefit not only of your own “spiritual evolution”–as Catherine alludes to–but also to all those you care about and to the world as a whole. Everyone has dreams to unfold. Whether it is that next best cupcake design or a way to deflect asteroids, respect and nurture your own ideas and ideals.

I tell each of my pets (and sometimes friends): “There has never been and there never will be again in the entire history of all creation another being that IS YOU!” Each of us has unique capabilities, viewpoints and experiences that we can use to benefit the whole of creation. So accept and respect your Life Dream, and you can begin to Live It, Now!