Me, Myself, and Compassion Fatigue

Mom Arkansas Golden City 096

Let Rock be Rock and Flower be Flower

This morning as I take the time to cook myself a delicious AIP-compliant breakfast and think about what dishes I need to prepare to be ready for a fast-moving work week, my thoughts shift to the connection between self-care and others-care. You know, that moment when we have the choice of whose oxygen mask to apply first.

Over the years I’ve noticed that the better care I take of myself, the better care I can offer to others (and the better ME I can offer to others!). Whether that comes in physical, mental, or emotional form, the idea holds true. When I take the time, the energy, the effort, to figure out what I really need and give that to myself, I find myself more able to meet others exactly where they are – stretching, stretching, stretching – instead of expecting them to come to me.

This can come in many shapes. When I don’t take care of myself, or listen to my needs, or when I fill my life with the countless expectations of those around me – talk this way (Momma said), dress this way (BFF said), believe this way (Daddy said), love this way (tradition said), earn money this way (Wall Street said) – bending this way and that until my entire life, my entire being is reshaped and twisted into all those other voices, rather than my own – that’s when I can find myself turning and projecting my own expectations on others.

YOU should wear this, say this, think this, be this, because I SAID SO. If you don’t, I may judge you a failure. I may even tell you so. And then if I’ve been claiming what I label as your successes and failures as my own, basking or balking in that reflected limelight, I may take those successes and failures very personally and insert myself a little too deeply in your life for healthy boundaries. Unable or unwilling to walk my own road, I’m unwilling to let you walk yours. It’s a vicious cycle.

But when I step in (or out :)) and break that cycle, starting first with myself (which after all is the only place I can truly effect change), figuring out what I believe, how I prefer to dress, to eat, to love, to live – not because someone else told me to, or even in rebellion against someone telling me to – but simply because that is Who I Am – everything changes.

In the warmth and light of authenticity, I can relax. And as I allow myself to be Me, I can allow you to be YOU. To walk your own path, to have your own needs and interests, your own successes and challenges. Perhaps our paths cross, perhaps they don’t. Perhaps our interests cross, perhaps they don’t.  Perhaps our needs are compatible, perhaps they aren’t. But one thing is clear: You are you, and I am me. And that’s perfectly groovy.

And what a relief – what self-inflicted pressure that can remove from our shoulders. I don’t have to change you. I don’t have to try to save you, which usually means I’ve only gotten lost myself. All I have to do is let you be you and let me be me, turning my attention back to the road before me, walking the good red way.

As I do that, as you do that, amazing things can happen. I don’t always understand the whys and wherefores, and I don’t have to. But this I have seen. Flowers that couldn’t be forced begin to blossom on their own. Chains that couldn’t be broken just seem to fall away. And roots that couldn’t get grounded grow strong and deep, all by themselves.

And somewhere in the midst of all that, that compassion we thought we’d lost – for others, for ourselves – it rises to the surface again. Having refueled and freed ourselves, loved and parented ourselves, we realize we have enough – more than enough, an abundance – to truly share with others. Not in a needy way, looking for what might be returned, but in a giving way, the only way unconditional compassion can truly exist.

And so the circle is complete, ‘round one turn to another. We find ourselves once more, replete, as sisters and as brothers.

Namaste – and enjoy your breakfast.

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(C) 2017 Mary Batson, FrontPorchRambles.com
All rights reserved, especially the one to a slow, relaxing breakfast.

Like a Child

recess

“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” (KJV Bible, 1 Corinthians 13:11)

Words that keep coming to mind of late… Recess is over, folks. Time to buckle down to the work that needs to be done, to lead the way for the next seven generations that will follow our footsteps wherever they lead – evolution, or devolution.

That doesn’t mean we turn our backs on our inner child, or cease to carry a child-like spirit within. It doesn’t mean we ignore the wisdom of the young, who sometimes see things more clearly because they *do view life more simply. But there is a world of difference between child-like and child-ish, one a form of chosen innocence in all we do and see and say, and the other a form of dangerous naivete.

To me it simply means, it’s time to stand up and be counted, to take charge, to move forward. Quit passing the buck. Stop insisting on being entertained every minute of the day. Quit ignoring our responsibilities – to ourselves, to those around us, to our larger society, to the planet itself. Stop ignoring what needs to be done, that thing right there at my feet. At your feet. We can still have our fun, still have those child-like moments. But in between all the giggles, it’s time to be the grown-ups.

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(C) 2017 Mary Batson, FrontPorchRambles.com
All rights reserved, especially the one to giggle while I do my chores.

Evolutionary Drivers At Work

BirthingFor those who have come to see this time in our country and the greater world as a birthing process, it is helpful to remember that “labor pains” is not a metaphorical term.
 
Many have pointed out that problems are evolutionary drivers. Or as Gran put it, “…breakdowns become breakthroughs become breaks of day.” (Going Home, 2010)
 
And for those new to that metaphor, here’s an brief intro. It’s happening across the board – in each life, each pocket of society, and each succeeding level of the greater whole. The baby has crowned – it’s time for that big push!
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(C) 2016 Mary Batson, FrontPorchRambles.com
All rights reserved – especially the one to bloom.
 
 

What You May Have Accidentally Done When You Voted For Trump

Zachary Helton

Dear Trump Voter,

I can’t say that I know why you voted for Trump, but I have a pretty good idea, and I get it. I’m not saying I voted for him, but I see that there are plenty of legitimate reasons to vote for Trump. Sure, he’s not the best role model, but you’re not really voting for him, you’re voting for the party. You’re voting for a conservative, Republican administration. You’re concerned about economics, foreign affairs, and the direction of the Supreme Court, and you think a Republican administration can do a better job. That is completely legitimate. That is democracy.

Now that the election is over, you kind of wish everyone could move on. I mean, we can all agree it’s been a particularly stressful election cycle. The Democratic candidate lost and you think everyone needs to move forward. You might even think your Democrat friends on…

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It’s Not Just a Dream

Don’t like where this country is headed? GET INVOLVED!

I don’t care how you vote. If you care about the good of our country – which is really the good of the people in it – that’s something we share, common ground on which we can begin all kinds of beautiful initiatives. So let’s get out and do something about it. Find a cause you feel passionate about, and pursue it.

I so appreciate the meme that has been floating around Facebook recently – something to the extent of, regardless of what happens on the national level today, WE are the ones who can chose to take charge of shaping the heart and soul (and economic sustainability) of our local neighborhoods and communities. Like it or not, we ARE the government – there is no THEY. There is only We the People – and we are a mighty power, when we have a mind to be.

If all we do is vote every few years, then shut ourselves into our little 4-walled prisons surround-sound high-distraction-factor homes and worlds of social media, which we begin to mistake AS the world – nothing is going to change. Well, it will, but most likely not in a helpful direction. It’s like standing on a treadmill – you may think you’re standing still, but just give it a minute.

Care about the national level? Then get involved HERE. NOW. At the community level. In your own home, your own mind if that’s where the healing needs to begin. In your street. Your neighborhood. Your place of work or worship.

Life is not about pointing fingers and placing blame on those around us. Life is about taking ownership of everything that is ours to do – in all aspects of our lives, from the personal to the progressively larger circles in which we exist – our communities, our nation, the world at large. Taking charge. Accepting responsibility. Practicing accountability. Not just saying “I don’t like this, but I do like this,” then retreating to a wi-fi-fed cocoon. But hey – even that’s a start. It all begins somewhere.

Please – whatever you believe, whatever you prefer – life is happening out there. Right here. Right now. Get involved. Don’t sit this one out. If you’re not sure where to begin, start with a discussion. Or start with some digging – do some research (and check out their sources and funding, while you’re at it). And then – take that next step. And the next. And the next.

Together, WE create that village. ALL of us. Together. Let’s get to know our neighbors, and make our worlds ones we can be proud to pass on to the next generation. Let’s show them how grown-ups really can be – how we can learn to get along and work together, in spite of, who knows, perhaps because of, our differences. How that diversity is exactly what we need to keep a system alive and well and breathing and healthy. How we learned and recognized and accepted that we ALL can bring some good ideas to the table, where we can hash them out, as we focus on highest good for all involved, and that common ground we’ve finally realized we share.

It’s not just a dream. Today, let’s make it our reality.

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(C) 2016 Mary Batson, FrontPorchRambles.com
All rights reserved – especially the one we gained in 1920.

Take the Love and Let the Rest Go

This morning’s dream work (and today’s memoir writing seminar :)) came with a challenge: How vulnerable can I allow myself to be? So here goes, with the trust that this will relate to more than a few others as well:

In the dream I was in my “childhood home” (although it wasn’t), which was almost completely emptied. We were moving out, having almost a goodbye ceremony, and a couple of family members were there alongside. I was making a big display from things we couldn’t take with us, using passed-down pieces of ancestral furniture, and we were putting up photos of the family in good times, in nice frames, a true memorial. We knew we couldn’t take any of those items with us – not even the photographs – only in our minds, our hearts, perhaps a snapshot – but even the frames and pictures had to stay, a memorial to those who once lived and loved inside those walls. We were building it slowly, working with great love.

As we worked, I was also digging through the house’s nooks and crannies to find the last little things to be cleared out. This was a good chance to notice all the work we’d done to the place, trying to fix it up and make it nice. All the generations of curtain racks and shades we had hung, their mountings, thinking of how much work that had been. All done so diligently and excitedly at the time – it was a big deal when we could afford something new. When we first put up the little twist blinds, instead of the pull down shades. Putting up new sets of curtains – how much work that had been – and now all the blinds were down, there was nothing there anymore, and no one but us to appreciate all the work we had done, trying to make that farmhouse pretty.

All that was left was reality. Just like my childhood poem.

One reality was that we had to move on.

Another reality was that my childhood wasn’t very pretty, in some ways. I never knew how poor we were growing up. I didn’t understand why Mom didn’t want company. We worked hard to keep things spotlessly clean in the middle of fifty miles of dirt fields. I and my brother were constantly starting projects to fix things up, make a pretty mailbox, a flower garden, a new fruit tree, another layer of paint. It wasn’t until I grew older that I realized how poor we had been, how shabby our surroundings. And I learned to be ashamed of it. How I hated those old cars we drove – so humiliating. Why couldn’t we have a normal car? Why couldn’t we *be normal?

But the thought that comes this morning – “Take the love and let the rest go.” Even down to that dream – take the love in those photographs – because we did love, as much as we were capable – and let the rest go. Little Mary loved those people with all her heart, and that was a very, very big heart. She didn’t care about the money. She didn’t care about the abuse. She didn’t care about all the things that shouldn’t have been. She didn’t know any better, so she couldn’t compare. She couldn’t define dysfunctional. She didn’t know about boundaries. But she did know how to love. And she didn’t even have to try. It just happened naturally – because that’s what love does. Love doesn’t ask permission. Love just happens. Love doesn’t stop to check directions or the wind or “is this really a good idea?” Love just happens. It flows with a mind of its own, and takes over when it has the will. As my character Gran put it in Going Home, “Love looks for open hearts like water looks for lowest ground, and Gran said if we’d just open our hearts, love would find its own way in.”

We discover that as we go through life. Love still has a mind of its own. We can’t force it, we can’t fake it. We can try – but that won’t last long. But when the heart is there, love just happens.

And as we work with these aspects as we grow older, clearing our baggage from lives and chapters past, we have an option – we can hang on, keep trying to drag all that along with us. Or we can choose the words that came this morning – “Take the love and let the rest go.” Love in whatever shape it was capable of appearing.

Whatever you do today – “Take the love and let the rest go.” And I’ll do my best to do the same.


mcb

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(C) 2016 Mary Batson, FrontPorchRambles.com
All rights reserved, especially the one to let that love flow.

Clarion Call: Bring Forth the Leaders, and Bid Them Lead

img_8870Where do we go from here? And by that I mean, for those of us who have chosen to stand, now what? We’ve signed a petition or two. We’ve posted articles. We’ve marched. We’ve demonstrated. We’ve prayed. We’ve donated, money or goods or time.

But now what? A thought I can’t quite block out while reading yet another article from the hidden away safety of my four walls – I’m pretty dang sure that those determined to move forward with the Dakota Access Pipeline are not focusing their efforts, time, attention, and primary campaign on Facebook.

Yes, the Internet is a great tool to raise awareness, to spread the word, and we can see the groundswell of support thanks to all that publicity. That’s fantastic. But at what point does focusing our efforts on social media become a distraction in the process of social change – A tool, not THE tool? Any good project manager will tell you, the media plan is only one small part of what has to happen. Are we striking out against the leaves, instead of the roots? If that’s all we’re doing, we may be tilting at very real dragons with toothpicks of tinfoil and swords of no substance. How do we step beyond preaching to an ever-growing yet screen-shackled choir?

Where is the money coming from? Who are the supporters, the influencers, the wo(men) behind the mask? Where are the voters? Where is the power, and how and by whom is it being leveraged? What is happening on the ground? What is happening below the surface? Who is making the decisions? And how can knowing all of that inform our next steps?

Now that we’re aware, now that we’re stirred up and have rallied support from people around the globe, we can’t let this wave of enthusiasm die away due to lack of concerted direction. How can we build on what has developed? If We the People want to take back our country, our environment, our economy, our planet, our politics, our own personal power – if we are ready to step up and say Victim No More, I will STAND – this ill-conceived travesty is a great place to start.

The process has already begun, if we can keep up the momentum. We cannot let

crazy-horse-2

What does it take to move a mountain?

discouragement or temporary failures stop us. As those who have stood throughout history have long known, standing up doesn’t always mean you win. But it DOES mean you can take back your pride, your self-esteem, your sense of self-worth – knowing that you did all you could, regardless of outcome. And perhaps, just perhaps, we may find this place of nonattached, nonviolent strength may be the most powerful position of all.

Who are the organizers among us? Who have walked these steps? Where has nonviolent protest and resistance successfully made inroads in our world? Who walked with King? Who has learned the ways of Gandhi? Where is the Harriet Tubman of today, the Elizabeth Cady Stanton? Women, rise up! Elders, rise up! Warriors of the Beauty Way, rise. We NEED you – now is the time. Come forward, come forth.

Change CAN happen from the ground up. We know that. What lessons have been learned from previous successes and failures? What has been proven Best Practice? Our lives may have been a little too easy of late, and we have grown soft – but we carry this knowledge, this know-how, deep within the bones, deep within our histories, deep within our minds, deep within our hearts.

Where are those who know, and those who can lead? You are among us, already. We can feel you. We need you now. We need your knowledge, your wisdom, your strength, your courage. Come forth!!! Lead the way!!!!!

So many are ready to follow.

In the words of a special teacher: “Do not fear the fire, or your strength, or the hands of our ancestors. Wear it. Pick it up. Carry it. It isn’t always gentle.”

Who will take up the fallen flags of our mothers, our fathers? Who will step forward? Who will lead?

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crazy-horse-monument-custer-park-buffalo-rocks-trees-102

Let the hills and the rocks call them forth. ~

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(C) 2016 Mary Batson, FrontPorchRambles.com
All rights reserved, especially the one to protect our mother and her sacred spaces.