Category Archives: Compassion

Thoughts of #Peace

Photo by Terri Webster Schrandt
Image courtesy of Terri Webster Schrandt
Our thoughts and prayers are with
our sisters and brothers in London
 ❤
The hatred evidenced by terrorist attacks around the world could easily be met with equal hatred, should we allow it. But how would that identify and inform us as a species? What would that do to the hearts and minds of individuals as well as society? What do we want to teach our children, and what kind of world do we want to leave them?
It is a challenge to keep our hearts open amid such unconscionable acts of violence. Yet it is our only hope of survival. Meeting these despicable acts with an equal amount of aggression could lead to our annihilation in this nuclear age. At the very least, it could alter our consciences and consciousness to a degree beyond repair. And that is as unacceptable as the terrorist act itself.
Fire cannot be fought with fire. We know this. Yet our species persists in its futile attempt to meet hatred with hatred, aggression with aggression, terror with terror. However, hope is skirting the horizon ~ fragile in its element but tenacious in its intent. Whether or not it will rise with tomorrow’s sun will be determined by our actions today.
I’m reminded of Dorothy Bryant’s book, The Kin of Ata Are Waiting for You. The village folk circle a woman being raped. They neither interfere nor intervene but simply stand in witness of this heinous act. The perpetrator not only cannot continue, but also comes face to face with his salacious fear. When he realizes he has been forgiven, his heart opens and he is transformed.

The Kin of Ata by Dorothy Bryant

Some might call this a miracle. Yet if we consider the collective unconscious, we might see this in a different light. Instead of intervention from an outside source ~ no matter how beneficent the being ~ we realize it is a manifestation of our unified thought. We are what we think, and energy follows in kind.
Although I was raised Roman Catholic, I follow an eclectic spiritual path. I hold the avatars and bodhisattvas in my heart, and one in particular now comes to mind: Jesus Christ. Regardless of whether history is to be believed, the story of Jesus’ passion sets an example that sorely needs to be remembered, if not emulated. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
If we understand that all negative emotions and behavior originate from fear, we might be more inclined to err on the side of compassion. This does not negate the validity and necessity of raging with anger, for emotions are raw and must be given a voice, lest we implode. This does, however, caution us to act instead of react ~ act out of love instead of react out of fear.
Fear is a survival mechanism but, if unchecked, can easily run amok, as we have witnessed once again in today’s attack on the people of London. Where does violence end? Where does peace begin?
Flower by Terri Webster Schrandt
Image courtesy of Terri Webster Schrandt
Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me . . . ❤
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Chronic Illness and Self-Acceptance

Living with a chronic illness is a challenge at best. If the illness is devastating but not recognized by the medical establishment, convincing ourselves life is worth living becomes an uphill battle.

Lucie Stastkova Art
Photo Courtesy of Lucie Stastkova

In the year 2000, I was diagnosed with a chronic illness that presented as a drop-dead flu. I’d been symptomatic since in the 1980s, but early on, flareups were few and far between. Innumerable doctor visits always produced tests with negative results. Over time, symptoms increased in severity and duration until they became immobilizing and constant in 1999.

I knew my doctors thought I was malingering. I felt invalidated yet knew damn well something was wrong. I lived in fear of a dreaded disease not being detected in time to be treated. Simultaneously, I wasn’t sure I wanted to live. By 1999 I was nearly bedridden; in debilitating pain; overwhelmed by fatigue; suffering varying degrees of GI problems; plagued by sleep disturbances, cognitive dysfunction, free-floating anxiety, panic attacks, and depression; and had a constant low-grade fever with sore throat and swollen lymph nodes. It wasn’t until I consulted a rheumatologist that I finally got a clinical diagnosis – one based on physical examination, as no definitive tests existed.

Since I was too sick to work and had been denied disability for two years, I exhausted my savings and retirement. Add to this that I had to advocate for myself while nearly bedridden, exhausted, and in constant pain, it’s no wonder I reached the point of planning to end my life.

So what stopped me? I had lists made of people to whom all of my possessions should be given. I knew where and how I would take the final leap. The only question left unanswered was when. What prompted me to delay making a decision?

Lucie Stastkova Art
Image Courtesy of Lucie Stastkova

Antidepressants helped somewhat but left me feeling flat and worthless. I also hated putting pharmaceuticals into my body. Two things saved me: my spiritual practice and the constant reminder of love from treasured friends. I had to learn to grant myself the same acceptance, compassion, and love I so freely bestowed upon others. It has been said by many – myself included, at times – that we are incapable of loving another if we do not first love ourselves. But I found the exact opposite to be true. I felt deep love and compassion for others, but every time I looked in the mirror, I faced self-loathing for the specter I’d become. I knew that in order to survive, I needed to turn the same love and compassion inward.

My belief that Mother Earth is a schoolhouse deterred me from ending my life. If we incarnate to learn specific lessons, and if we leave short of learning those lessons, we’ll need to return and undergo the very same experiences in order to grow. I didn’t want to backtrack. I didn’t want to suffer the same ordeals when all I had to do was commit to seeing them through this time around.

It hasn’t been easy, but it has been rewarding. I’m no longer taking pharmaceuticals and don’t rely on allopathic medicine for anything more than relative diagnosis and emergency/trauma care. There’s no known cure for this illness and the etiology is unknown. I still have flareups, but other than low-level pain and fatigue, the symptoms are no longer constant. I’m still learning to love myself, and I wonder if that isn’t an ongoing struggle for all unenlightened humans.

My biggest challenge is keeping up with social media. Writing can be accomplished when I’m feeling well enough, but maintaining an online presence can be demanding. I often find myself merely treading water. And when in a flareup, I feel as if I’m trudging through neck-high water, pushing myself to complete the simplest of tasks.

Lucie Stastkova Art
Image Courtesy of Lucie Stastkova

I’ve lived with this condition for over 25 years and generally take it in stride. But since flareups are random and of unpredictable severity and duration, I’m finding it difficult to plan and write blog posts, visit other’s blogs and share their posts on a regular basis, and read the books on my overflowing TBR in a timely fashion. When I visit blogs, my ability to comment depends on my cognitive state at that moment.

When in a flareup, I have to accept a stop-and-start work scenario:  work a little, rest a little; work a little, rest a little. And I’m usually unable to do little more than click on a few share buttons, unless the fatigue and mental fog clear long enough for me to write a few lucid sentences. If lucky and my head isn’t dropping to the keyboard, I’m able to do a reblog or create a post. The challenge in all of this is self-acceptance and not giving in to frustration.

I remind myself each day not to become my own worst enemy. Self-acceptance on all levels is crucial to survival. Compassion for oneself is as vital as breathing. What concerns me most is not being understood by the people in my life. It’s difficult to imagine – much less believe – what someone else is experiencing when their condition or situation borders on unfathomable.

I hope my fellow bloggers will understand when I’m unable to visit their blogs as frequently as they visit mine. I hope my fellow authors will understand when I’m unable to read and review their books as quickly as they do mine. My desire and intention are to pay it forward; at the very least, to be reciprocal. Yet when a flareup strikes, I fall short in meeting my goals. I’m still learning to accept this as a life lesson for which I contracted before I incarnated. We all choose the lessons we want to learn before we come in to this earthwalk. The trick is not to give up on ourselves.

Self-acceptance. Self-love. Self-compassion. I’m still a work in progress . . .

Until the next time, my friends . . .  Namaste
© Tina Frisco 2017