Continuing the Conversation with Linda & José about Community Engagement

As we continue toward the horizon trying to discover our Self with every step forward, we begin to realize how interconnected we are to one another. My continuing conversations with Linda Maxwell and José Quintanar represent this path forward. We are learning from one another how to make sense of a world in which there exists much hatred, violence, chaos, and confusion.

In this discussion, Linda and José talk about community-engaged work through a humanizing lens. I am learning much from them including what it means to live a life of service and to be in the moment as we interact with other people. I am learning that each person with whom I interact is someone to learn from, even if the experience seems and feels negative. There is ALWAYS something to learn. Sometimes the knowledge that we gain is from contrast – experiencing that which we DO NOT want. We understand better who we are when we come across others who embody traits that do not resonate with who we are or want to be.

Linda and José teach us from the ground up. This means that they are interested in PEOPLE not the politics, ideals, or belief systems that may surround a person within a specific context. The ground up is actively listening to a person to understand how to reach that individual’s heart. That is where authentic communication begins. That is where love for one self and for the other reigns.

We live on the edge of spiraling into LOVE for one another or falling into our deepest darkest fears of separation. This fear is a frightening place of victimhood, oppression, and distain for our brothers and sisters. Linda and José constantly remind us to center ourselves and to seek LOVE, even if love seems the most improbable solution or outcome.

Peace, strength, and courage, everyone.

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Inner Balance with Love at the Center

Time is speeding up. Have you been feeling it? Sensing it?

I feel like we are in a deep learning period where lessons are coming in at bullet speed.

It’s hard to describe in words what I am understanding. I see and feel through images what Spirit presents to me.

I can describe it this way:

When I write for EduSpirit I write from my heart drawing on intuition, the flow of consciousness. It is a different sort of writing, completely detached from linear progression and unencumbered by morphosyntactic structures or analytical examinations. It is akin to what I believe surfers must feel as their primal senses hone in on “the fetch” – the area over which the wind is blowing – to determine how fast they need to paddle toward an oncoming swell. It’s the inner knowing of balance, the way we catch ourselves from falling when we slip on black ice. Or the way Joan Miró knew when to add a bold red line to give the other objects in the painting significance and weight.

So back to my questions … have you been feeling it? Sensing it?

But, what is IT?

IT is amorphous, elusive. Like a mosaic, the closer you get to the picture the more fractured and nonsensical the image. Only by taking a step back and detaching ourselves from the expectation of what we believe the image is or should be, do we begin to derive clarity of how all the smaller pieces fit together into the larger whole. Then, and only then, can we perceive the visual narrative.

IT plays with time and space. How are we already in April 2018? I remember New Year’s Eve clearly. I was creating vision boards with my family. And yet, the events that have occurred both personally and collectively since January 1st have been profound, unprecedented, and life-changing.

The lessons during this time feel exponentially more intense and challenging. Maybe because they are coming in fast, furious, unrelenting and without pause. It feels that just as soon as I make a breakthrough by recognizing and understanding the gifts in one lesson, another is right around the corner. I’ve barely caught my breath and Spirit is handing me another challenge.

Yet, one of my spiritual teachers constantly reminds me to reconceptualize “lesson” and “challenge.” What if, instead, I understand the situation as Spirit inviting me (again and again) to view the person or circumstance with love? What if I am being invited to LOVE and be LOVE in every moment? And when I do not feel love and, instead, feel angry, challenged, upset, saddened, or even ecstatic, I can learn to recognize that these emotions – not originating in love – are indicators of a part of me that is asking to be healed.

The lessons are coming in hard and fast. Again, we are being invited to consciously recognize the parts of ourselves that are being triggered by others and that reflect back to us what is begging to be healed. When we understand that we are divinely created – we are love and love is perfection – we begin to focus on the beauty within ourselves and in each person. What we, in our third-dimensional mindset and physicality, perceive as flaws, suddenly become areas where deep lessons reside. We no longer view these ‘flaws’ as deficits, but rather, as doorways to the authentic Self. It’s “through the cracks that the light gets in,” and if we intentionally focus on our inner sacredness with a humanizing and compassionate orientation, then we begin to be less judgmental and much more forgiving. This forgiveness, however, must first originate from within. Though cliché, there is a deep truth in forgiving ourselves – including what we perceive as fractured parts or flaws – before we can deeply and authentically forgive others. We must first cut our own cords that keep us attached to self-hate and admonishment before we tackle the challenge of releasing and severing unfulfilling or unloving attachments to others.

During this weekend when many are celebrating Easter, I am taking time to pause. I am consciously taking time to light candles, focus on my breath, and slow each moment down – at least for a little while. It feels so important to me to recognize the sacredness within myself, the part of me that forgives easily, laughs heartily, and smiles without effort. I go about the week rushing around trying to cram the work of three people into one working day, and I forget my own power. I forget that I, just as all of you, are forces of love. Sometimes we need to be reminded that every choice we make – however small or seemingly insignificant – is an intentional act that has the potential to bring joy and love to others and to ourselves.

May each of you have blessed and sacred moments this weekend,

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Featured image is by Joan Miró, Triptych Bleu I, II, III (1961).

Cracking the Shell

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It wasn’t until the last few days that I felt deeply in my bones that something had shifted for me. I couldn’t pinpoint what it was at first. It was like driving from Tucson to California in the middle of the night and reaching Quartzite at the break of dawn to catch a luminous edge, a glowing orange, peering slightly above the horizon. The feeling at the sight of the first emergence of light over the dusty mountains on a lonely highway was sheer awe. Driving for hours with the road visible only by headlights and the dim sheen of a crescent moon and desert stars, the immensity of deep relief gazing upon the new morning stunned. A rush of energy pulsed through my nerve-endings.  Inky skies no longer blended with black landscapes. A sudden awareness of detail, of sharp contrast, brought clarity to the road. The sun’s fiery threads weaving through the mountains illuminated the path to my final destination.

This week I saw the break of dawn in my own life. I was unaware until the light flooded in that I had been submerged in the dark depths of my own shell, a protective layer of subconscious that kept me suspended in stasis. I wasn’t fully living. Before the Diagnosis, before the Cancer, there was fear. I had married, divorced, and married again. The fear was palpable. Did marriage guarantee monogamy, fealty, unconditional love? My experience said no. My expectations of love set me up for failure, for I had bought into the myth that another person could complete my life, set me free, liberate my soul, and fulfill my longings. I believed in soulmates and twin flames. I believed in complete synergy with another human being who would complement and unify all my parts.

I sought so furiously, desperately, for this union outside of myself. I believed that happiness and true love meant finding that perfectly amazing human being to whom I was fated to be and live with throughout this physical existence and beyond. Everything hinged on me finding this person. So, I searched and searched.

What has taken most of this life to learn is that the person I have been looking for so feverishly is my own Self. This search is the luminous edge. It is the cracked shell. But now it has broken open, the cracks are wide.  No prayer of re-assemblage.

The Hopi have said, “We are the ones we have been waiting for.” In the most profound manner, I have begun to embody this belief. Like an egg, my shell has been cracked again and again until, finally, the Truth of who I am in relation to this life has spilled out. It has been messy, unpleasant. There is no containment. I am who I am. We are who we are. And the internal knowingness that only we can fulfill our intrepidly wild and gorgeous dreams is one of the most powerful truths I have ever encountered. It’s like driving in the dark without headlights and reaching the cliff’s edge. My inner guidance knowing to slam on the breaks as I wait for the Sun’s first rays.

With much love,

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Disclaimer: For those who may be tempted to read into this reflection, please know that all is well at home – with/in and with/out. There is a sense of peace and deep love where before there was sometimes doubt, within and without.

Part 2 of 4 – Community Activism with Youth

Linda Maxwell and José Quintanar

In part 2, Linda and José elaborate upon the four pillars of appreciative inquiry and operationalize them. My paraphrased interpretation includes:

*Our lives are precious – love for self is essential.
*We must recognize the impermanence of life – value every moment.
*Every thought, word, and deed has a consequence – plant positively.
*(Re)discovering our humanity by connecting with others’ suffering – take compassionate action.

They also discuss the following components as being essential to engaging youth:
*The power of relationships
*No judgment
*Reciprocity
*Letting go of ego

Thank you for your continued enthusiasm in learning about their important work. Parts 3 and 4 will be combined in one blog and added to the interview page.

Thank you! Much love,

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Peace, love, and understanding: The real deal in action (Part 1 of 4)

December 3, 2017

Yesterday I had the enormous honor to engage in a second conversation with long-time community activists, Linda Maxwell and José Quintanar. We spoke for over an hour about ways in which to embody and enact lovingness, peaceful action, and compassionate understanding with youth in educational settings.

What I love about these discussions are Linda’s and José’s commitment and passion for living authentically; that is, being conscious of being in alignment with who they are, what they say, and what they do. I am also appreciative of their long-term dedication to social justice and discovering meaning in every interaction they have with historically minoritized and marginalized youth.

Thank you for taking the time to listen to Linda and José’s lived experiences. 

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Interview with Linda Maxwell & José Quintanar, Founders of “We Care for Youth”

December 2, 2017

This is a continuation of a discussion with community activists, Linda Maxwell and Jose Quintanar. This was a lengthy, rich conversation in which Linda and Jose talk about their life’s work through 4 foundational pillars of thought generated through their understandings of “appreciative inquiry.” These 4 pillars are:

*Understanding life as precious
*Appreciating impermanence
*Recognizing every thought, deed, and action has a consequence – either positive or negative
*Having the ability to look outside of ourselves to see and experience the suffering of others. This last pillar requires great empathy in which we decide to DO something about others’ suffering. We bow to the humbling process of recognizing ourselves in others and enact lovingness – a Freirean attribute of humanizing pedagogy.

September 6, 2017 – An introduction to “We Care for Youth”

It is my honor to engage in dialogue with Linda and José about issues and challenges related to youth. I am particularly excited to present their work through a series of video-blog conversations because, in these discussions, they unpack for us what it is to actively listen to youth and act upon the creativity and ideas youth have to offer. Their message is particularly impactful during these divisive times in which historically minoritized youth and their families are positioned as “criminal,” “illegal,” and “un-American.”

Linda and José are founders of the non-profit, youth-oriented, organization “We Care for Youth.” In many ways their activism is a product of a long-term commitment of ensuring the integrity and respect for youth of all backgrounds, particular youth struggling with trauma and violence. Linda and José share tools of authentic engagement that emerged as they listened to the needs of youth who were experiencing difficult and painful periods in their lives.

This conversation is an introduction to who they are and their work. It is also a lived narrative exploring their individual connection to spirituality as they delve deep into youth’s experiences of grief, hope, understanding, and love.

Please take a moment to visit their website: We Care for Youth

You can reach them directly at: WeCare4Uth@aol.com

We thank you for taking the time to engage deeply in their shared story. This is Part I of our continuing conversation.

With love,

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Please check out the interview from May 29, 2018, too!

https://eduspirit.org/2018/07/03/continuing-the-conversation-with-linda-jose-about-community-engagement/