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The Bliss Blog

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On a chilly early November day, I sat huddled  under the pavilion of a Central, NJ park, with a group of folks who are part of the community of the ManKind Project. Two branches of life changing weekends have emerged from this single, solid, deeply rooted tree trunk. One is called The New Warrior Training and the other is Woman Within. Many of my male friends are those I refer to as “New Warrior Dudes,” who have become even more loving men, with a determined and commited voice as healers. The first layer of healing is personal and the second is universal. Many of my women friends have entered their own caves and explored what had kept them imprisoned in fear and self limitation. After years of being invited, enticed and cajoled by my friend Janet who had immersed in the training herself and KNEW it would be good for me, I surrendered and in March of 2013, I took the leap.I emerged with greater insight into the woman in the mirror who often felt (and sometimes still does) like either too much or not enough of what I thought people expected of me. These day (more than three years and several health crises later), I am settling into my Goldilocks ‘just right’-ness.
What drew me to these environs was a workshop sponsored by Woman Within Eastern USA Region, DEVA Area (Delaware Valley),that focused on communing with and learning from wolves who live in the Lakota Wolf Preserve in Columbia, NJ. There these beautiful animals are loved and cared for by their human stewards.
I have an affinity for animals; canines in particular, although I have never been up close and personal with this particular version. It was led by seasoned Woman Within facilitators, Lauren Henry and Patty Simpson. The experience included an exploration of various archetypes; which were defined as “inherited, unconscious ideas or thoughts,” as pioneered by Swiss Psychiatrist, Carl Jung.
The two that emerged were:
The Warrior, which was defined by the group as ‘defender, protector, server, who stands up for beliefs, and lives by the code of mercy, courage and loyalty,’ is present in each person, to varying degrees.
The Lover reflects the aspects of ourselves that I think of as peacemaking, nurturing, embracing, including, accepting and softness incarnate.
At first glance, I have seen the Warrior as fearsome and foreign and an aspect of myself that I have wanted to avoid. It carried with it, an erroneous belief that it had to involve violence in word or action. It meant calculated, persuasive, manipulative means of getting someone to see or do things the way the one who embodied the qualities wanted them to be. It meant crawling through the mud, weapons in hand, ruthlessly killing whoever stood in the way.  Not my idea of what a caring human being would do.
The Lover, on the other hand, was what I was raised to be. The safe haven, cuddling, coddling, nurturing, nice girl who didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. The co-dependent caregiver, emotional contortionist who would bend over backward to please people. The soother of souls and healer of hearts, appealed to me far more.
Then Lauren told a story that chilled me and reminded me that I am truly a balance of both. She shared about an experience from two decades ago in which she witnessed a father publicly assaulting his 10 year old son. This dude, who towered above her, was intimidating everyone else in the bowling alley, so no one else intervened to rescue this child. She pulled together her own valiant warrior spirit and stood up to to him and got the violence to stop.  What Lauren was able to do, was harness well prepared skills that spoke louder than any fear she might have been feeling. That is what I think of as a super-power, the ability to think quickly on my feet since I am practiced at certain interventions, as a social worker. Lauren and I share professional background, both social workers in the mental health and addictions fields. The mama bear protective instinct is one that a warrior possesses. It occurred to me at that moment that I have a warrior spirit when it comes to standing up to injustice and care for those disenfranchised, disempowered, or despairing.
Patty prepared us for the visit to the wolves, by speaking about the qualities that wolves embody, which include loyalty, caretaking, co-parenting of pups, strategizing, working as team. Warrior and Lover qualities in one furry, four legged package. I am part of what I call ‘family of choice’ who do those things. My far flung tribe live that way.  I came to realize that although I am a pack animal, I can also be a lone wolf who goes my own way and blazes my own trail. I am a protective mama wolf and Alpha female who loves to be in charge. Although I don’t always like telling people what to do, likewise, I don’t like anyone else telling me what to do.
After the formal workshop part of the day, we hiked up to the preserve itself. Although it was a short walk, it was a stretch for me to trek up a rock strewn incline. I spend hours a week at the gym, strengthening heart and lungs nearly 2 1/2 years post heart attack and yet tackling the uphill climb had my lungs heaving and cardiac muscle pumping rapidly. I definitely needed to call upon my warrior spirit to have me moving one step at a time. I made it to the top of the hill and spent the next hour or so learning about the canines and their ways.
At one point, there was a group howl. I was one of the few humans who joined them in their call of the wild.
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