Rodney Smith Jr., who lives in Huntsville, Alabama, started the company “Raising Men Lawn Care Service” in 2016 after spotting an elderly man having difficulty mowing his lawn. Raising Men Lawn Care Service helps young people give back to their communities by providing free lawn care to the elderly, disabled, single mothers and veterans. He wants to help out anybody that may not have the time, the resources, or the energy to take care of their gardens. In addition, Rodney has started the “50 Yard Challenge” which is a call for children across the country to mow 50 lawns in their area. Once complete, participants in the challenge get a free mower. In 2018, Rodney completed his own challenge wherein he mowed lawns for free in all fifty states. This year, he plans to mow laws in all seven continents.
“punishing his /toxic masculinity/, while rewarding him for his most *feminine* qualities” this is such an interesting take. i don’t know much about gender roles in the us and europe except for what’s in the movies (like in my country some of the actions that are desirable in men in american movies are totally crude behavior), so what do you you think his more feminine and his more toxic masculine behaviors are?
first of all let me say I’m not a fan of the expression “toxic masculinity” because it’s another of those discourse-y buzzwords that I deeply side-eye, but it’s the easiest shorthand to communicate what I’m trying to address, anyway:
Kylo is deeply empathetic. I think this is one of the reasons why Snoke had such a field day with him since he was a child. He feels, deeply, acutely. Not only that, but he absorbs other people’s emotions, positive or negative, like a sponge (see how it hurt him to perceive that his parents were afraid of him; how easily he detected Rey’s secret pain about being abandoned by her parents, and connected it to his own experience). Empathy and compassion—the “pull to the light”—might have been the bane of his existence but I think it will ultimately be what saves him, because it’s what allowed him to find Rey.
Like, the whole reason why Rey softened towards him is that he softened towards her. He let her in before she let him in. In the interrogation, when Rey first enters his mind, he’s terrified; but when the force bond pops open for the first time, he’s curious, excited, receptive. While Rey reacts aggressively and tries to reject him, he doesn’t raise any barrier—he likes that Rey is invading his space, his privacy, even though he knows this could be potentially a threat. He also tries to communicate with her, to share his experiences with her, and it’s less a “l want you to listen passively to how tortured I am”, and more a “so how does this make you feel? Also, what about your parents?” In the hut scene, he listens to her without interrupting and he only talks to offer emotional support, not judgment or unsolicited advice. And he lets Rey dominate the entire encounter—lets her talk when she wants to talk and touch when she wants to touch. Rather than proactive, he is responsive. Receptive. Daisy said “nurturing”. These are “feminine” qualities in the sense that they’re traditionally and culturally linked to femininity, not feminine per se; it’s not a judgment on Kylo’s sexuality or anything.
And most importantly, the narrative doesn’t diminish or humiliate him for displaying those qualities, no, he’s at his most beautiful and heroic when he is like this. And he wins. He wins a friend for being like this. He makes Rey defend him against Luke for being like this. He destroys the big bad (who had previously mocked him for being compassionate), something he couldn’t have done without Rey’s support, and it’s all because he let his softer nature prevail.
Conversely, Kylo constantly fails when he’s aggressive and dominant. His phallic lightsaber is unstable, broken, difficult to handle, barely kept together, like it didn’t belong really to him, like he tried to twist it into something it isn’t. The interrogation ends with him retreating with his tail between his legs. The duel ends with him badly injured, lying helplessly in the snow. As soon as he reverts to male posturing and tries to forcibly suck Rey into his own utopia of grandeur, she dumps him and leaves. And, well, we all know what a mess he makes when he tries to play the military commander on Crait. He wastes all his ammo and stamina on a force projection, while the Resistance flees undisturbed and Hux takes notes of his weaknesses. It ends with him on his knees as Rey shuts the door and disappears.
He really sucks at this. At the whole being a tyrant and a violent hypermasculine boogeyman thing. He really is no Vader. And it’s okay, because that was never meant to be his purpose in life. He’s meant for bigger, better things.
you know what beautifully and effectively encapsulates this entire theme? The fact that he didn’t use his “masculine” weapon to kill Snoke—his long time abuser and actual big bad—butthe legacy saber,thematically linked to Anakin and Padme’s love, and now claimed by Rey, the *feminine*. The same saber that resisted him when his intent was to conquer and dominate and hunt Rey down, but responded smoothly to his command when his true instinct was to protect her.
Teach them empathy, compassion, and accountability.
If your child steals a candy bar from Rite Aid, what’s spanking going to do? What will guilt-tripping them do? What will screaming do?
It will make them feel fearful or ashamed. It will make them want to avoid the pain of punishment. It will make them want to hide or protect themselves from you.
Instead, explain to them why stealing’s wrong and why they should not do it. Teach them how to return to the store, be honest, take responsibility, and how to ask for forgiveness. Teach them that one dishonest action does not make them a bad person. Teach them that it is okay to right the wrong. Teach them that you love them even when they mess up.
Then follow up. Have them practice being responsible. Give consequences that are meaningful, such as having them do an extra chore or a favor for a neighbor.
Teach them how to be responsible, caring, and unafraid of imperfection.
The deepest feeling of a compassion that does not seek to alter anything, paradoxically, alters everything. When you touch inside yourself that which is not seeking to alter anything, you’ve touched upon absolute nonresistance, and this alters your perception of everything. When your conditioning touches that inside which is unconditioned, it alters your conditioning irrevocably. That is the sacred alchemy, and that is compassion.
Loving yourself is not casually thinking “I guess I’m a nice person sometimes.”
Loving yourself is a fight. A fight to break down the walls you built to protect yourself, to destroy your negative thought patterns, and to acknowledge and destroy self-sabotaging behaviour. It is not something that you will magically start doing one day "when things are better than they are now.” Self-love is an active process of destruction and rebirth.
Loving yourself is a fierce, demanding, and fiery practice, and yet simultaneously compassionate and hopeful. Just like learning an instrument or a new skill, it takes time, effort, and practice to keep choosing to love yourself, to keep putting energy into it, and to keep a positive mindset toward the end goal.
During the road to self-love, you need to remain vigilant, observe your thoughts and emotions, keeping watch on the horizons of your mind for the enemy that threatens reality.
Those self-delusions, ideals, expectations, and trained thought patterns which capture you into a cycle of negative self-sabotaging behaviour are your enemy. These are not reality. They are something your brain has been manipulated and trained into doing by the selfish behaviour of ourselves and others, usually when our brain is going through childhood or adolescence (it can still occur in adults, the brain is constantly moulding and changing itself). But these are false realities, these are your “enemy” that threaten your ability to perceive total reality. As soon as you realise these, you are able to fight them with wisdom and truth.
And yet, we need to love our enemies. Why? Because it is only love and compassion that truly heal. We can certainly use logic to understand these negative things. But until we accept them fully, and find love for these things we cannot forgive them. This is something that takes patience, practice, and effort to achieve. It’s not something you do passively. You need to sit down and work through things until you can truly accept it without hesitation. This may take weeks, months, or years of fighting internally with yourself. But if you genuinely want to love yourself and understand compassion, you will not give up. This means that even if you have a week, a month, a year, or even simply a day when you completely fail yourself and you fall down a million times, and you stuff up and make mistakes, that you get back up and try again and you forgive yourself for your failure. It’s a process of trying.
See the image below. This shows the transformation of negative emotions and thoughts into higher frequencies of energy. Emotions and negative thoughts actually create energetic patterns or habits which we then attach ourselves to in order to cope with stressors. The goal of self-love and reflection is to move negative energies up into higher frequencies as depicted below. But at the same time, we need to acknowledge that enlightenment or self-love and awareness is acceptance of the alpha point or the negative as well. As is said in the bible- God is both the alpha and the omega. It is also said that muladhara is the same as sahasrara, or in Kabalah- that Malkuth is the same as Kether. So acceptance of our flaws, negativity and unhealthy attachments and coping mechanisms is part of self-realisation and awareness, it is part of falling in love with the self. You need to be as much present in your faults, failures, flaws, suffering, and pain as you are present in your love, peace, joy and expanded self. But the deal is that you need to move these things toward the omega and be working within that state of practice and understanding constantly.
Some good things to invest your time and energy into if you want to work on self-love:
Journaling: Doesn’t matter if it’s a messy book with all your scrambled thoughts or a beautiful scrapbook. Write. Get it out of you. Process it. Writing is very useful, it allows you to process and discuss your thoughts with yourself slowly. It slows down a fast-paced hyperactive mind, and you can always look back at your progress later and make more notes on new things you have learnt.
Prayer: Some people might find this uncomfortable or weird especially if they are not religious. But an active prayer life is extremely important in my personal opinion. I grew up in a religious home and prayer was a major part of it. Speaking out loud can be helpful but if you can’t pray out loud then you can write it down, whisper it, or even just pray in your heart. Prayer doesn’t have to be to a deity. You can pray to yourself. You can pray to nothingness. You can pray to the air if you want. And you don’t have to even talk. Prayer can take on many forms. Praying can be through ritual, through something artistic, or anything that makes you stop and take the time to create a space of gratitude, peace, and abundance. You don’t have to ask for anything either, you can simply sit down and say thank you or sit down and just feel your emotions, reflect on your actions, or just observe the self. But make prayer a place where it is just you and your inner child.
Meditation: Meditation has been said over and over to be incredibly powerful. Meditation has many benefits, but one of the most important is its ability to quieten the mind. Quieting the mind is very important; it allows the brain to focus and direct attention to the physical body and allows for the body to open itself up to listen to the soul. Meditation and prayer can often be considered the same thing, so if meditation is your form of prayer then that is perfectly fine. Meditation takes practice, and you will probably not see results or any benefit on your first go. You will probably have a mind that constantly talks to itself too. But just keep trying, it gets easier and easier each time. But that being said, meditation is about looking deep within the self, it trains your brain to observe from a birds-eye perspective, it trains the brain to think before reacting, and it trains the brain to experience the present fully and to slow down. It also expands your perception of consciousness, allowing the mind to travel into different levels of consciousness in order to experience spiritual lessons.
Tarot and oracle cards: Divination techniques such as these are fantastic for self-love and development. Cards or other divination tools are a vehicle for the intuition, and they allow you to open up and listen to the deep subconscious self. They are fantastic for shadow work when you have identified negative self-talk or self-sabotaging behaviour and you want to get to the root cause of the issue.
Compassionate breath work: Breathwork is where meditation often starts, and this breathwork is extremely powerful. The breath is considered to be the life source or consciousness itself, it is our breathing that keeps us conscious and aware. It is our breath that brings life to our bodies. The breath is essentially the vehicle of the universal energies. And that universal energy is pure love, pure compassion, pure peace. Youtube some breathwork practices if you do not know where to start, there are many yogic practices which focus on creating physical energy, healing the internal organs, healing and cleansing the mind, and much much more. There are different speeds of breathing, different lengths of breaths, different visualisation techniques, and different physical movements that go with these breathing practices, and this makes them extremely powerful especially psychologically. Breathing practices focus your mind on your physical body, or they focus your mind on feeling certain emotions or being aware of something. Choose to make compassion and love your deities, worship them literally if you want to. Personify them and make them your role models. There are many deities and spiritual beings who represent these archetypes. But make compassion and love something that is so much a part of your life that you breathe them in and out into the world around you. Make compassion your focus in life and watch your heart melt.
Have a love affair with the divine: Eventually through all of this, you will begin noticing that your heart opens up, and there deep inside you is a powerful spiritual being or force. This force is universal life energy, it is divine, it is beautiful and it will romance you. It will seduce you. It will lure you deep into its waters of emptiness, its deep nothingness, its deep selflessness. It is simultaneously you, simultaneously “God”, and simultaneously nothing. It is the universe. Have a love affair with it. Worship it, perform rituals to it, romance it. Fall in love with it, find healing within it. Pray, sing, chant, or make music to it. Give it gifts, feel its love. And watch it romance you back. Have a love affair!
To witness others suffering can indeed be heartbreaking, and it can open the heart to a deeper dimension of compassion. But we must also begin to see that whenever we resist seeing others suffer, we begin to suffer ourselves and confine the amplitude of our love. Such suffering is a symptom of our resistance, of our saying no to the truth that suffering is a part of life. It is not our suffering that helps heal the suffering of others, but the depth of our love.
Someone I like and respect just made a post about keeping friends when they have shitty politics, and as someone who has been known to remain friends with people who have shitty politics, I wanted to say a few things about it.
I’m starting my own post on the topic, so as not to start a refutation pile-on:
When I extend such people kindness or friendship it’s generally because they’re homeless, hungry, impoverished, marginalized, abused, lacking access to critical thinking education… the list goes on. In any shitty political circle there are the privileged ringleaders and there are the marginalized people they take advantage of.
And the latter… need someone to reach out to them, and quietly, softly let them know there’s a better way.
Sometimes they’re not ready to listen to a direct argument but can still learn by example.
Sometimes being there to give that example is frustrating and draining… and it’s not a task we should expect of everyone! You don’t have to hang around with anyone who is oppressing or mistreating you!
But often, when I can tolerate someone who’s posing a problem to others, I do, because they’re not going to get better without getting that from someone.
And it doesn’t mean I’ve signed onto whatever bullshit they’re desperately clinging to out of misplaced survival instinct.
(Or even not misplaced? For example if the only people helping someone avoid starvation are also defending North Korea on the internet, it’s easy for them to get caught up in it… so you see what I mean when I say that sometimes the necessary counterexample is just showing up and being decent. For one of my friends… that’s what I was, the person who helped her buy basic groceries while not trying to radicalize her.)
And sometimes they come around. Other times they get angry at you for your own politics, or get more privileged and hang onto their shitty politics and you have to cut ties. But I’ve seen people become better this way.
Be angry at the privileged people who exploit; show compassion, when you can, for those exploited.
The hardmode of that is “even when they’re being used to harm others”. It’s hardmode; it’s not for everyone; you have to be good at boundaries and knowing your limits. But… when you can, how you can, it’s worthwhile.
Hey kids, you know what’s never a good look? Telling people they’re wrong to feel their feels about their fandoms and canons. Take it from me, it’s never fashionable–I’m a reformed “let me tell you why you’re wrong to like/hate the thing” person.
Lecturing/hectoring/side-eyeing/being annoyed by people for how they feel doesn’t work, for one thing, and it just makes you look like an asshat. Calling them names is even uglier.
What IS fashionable is having compassion for people who feel gutted by the thing they loved changing or losing someone important, or happiness for the people who loved it and have something new they’re excited about.
I never go to McDonald’s but my girlfriend was having one of her cravings and I like to help her satisfy them. An elderly man ahead of us in line ordered a vanilla soft serve in a cone. He smiled at me as he walked past us to take his sweet treat to a seat.
“Oh I want one of those too,” my girl said.
While she was ordering, I watched the old man. He was sitting in a booth by himself, enjoying his ice cream. His hair was white and his clothing was slightly disheveled. His glasses made his eyes seem a bit bigger than they were.
My heart ached. There was something so sincere and innocent about this man being alone getting ice cream at McDonald’s on a Monday night.
Over the weekend I began a new compassion meditation practice. I didn’t expect it to start working so soon but this was definitely a result of it. I wanted to say something to him as we left. Something to signal some sort of love and affection. But I felt too shy to say anything. And I regret it.
May the next time my heart feels for a stranger, I will make the move to express some kindness, no matter how small. I will remember this man and my regret.
Within many Buddhist traditions, every meditation practice session is ended by dedicating the merit of the session to all sentient beings.
When we meditate, we release some increment of our own illusions. We allow some measure of our inner turmoil to settle toward peace. We open our hearts. We connect with the basic goodness that permeates our inner space. And, in some sense, we receive blessings from all who have completed the spiritual path.
All of this adds up to some “merit.” On its most basic level, I think of “merit” as that wholesome feeling you have after a good practice session. It is Very Good.
Our instinct is typically to hold onto the things that give us such joy. Or maybe only share it with our close friends and family. Yet such clinging is still the attitude of illusion and ego. Rather than an attitude of abundance, it is one of poverty.
The practice of dedicating the merit accumulated by your practice is a way to loosen your own clinging and at the same time offer something of value to all living beings. Suddenly your practice isn’t just for you anymore. It’s for that guy on the bus. That woman in the cafeteria. That kid you can hear shouting outside. That talking head on the news. That weed growing between cement cracks. That bird flying overhead. That insect in your bathroom.
And when you dedicate something to all sentient beings, you yourself are automatically included. You are not being left out. Instead, you are bringing everyone together.
“When we walk like we are rushing, we print anxiety and sorrow on the earth. We have to walk in a way that we only print peace and serenity on the earth… Be aware of the contact between your feet and the earth. Walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Every day we are adding something to the world by the way we move through it. What are you adding?
When we dedicate the merit of our meditation practice, we make sure that no matter what happens within our days, we are still adding something of benefit.
This can be a simple practice. Take a pause at the end of your meditation session. Put your hands together in prayer. And then say something to the effect of: “May all beings in all worlds receive the benefits of my merit.”
You can say whatever you want along these lines. More important, however, is that you feel it. Pretend like all of this is real and you are really showering all beings in all worlds with the blessings and energy accumulated from your meditation session. Practice sincerity and love in this offering. Cultivate the real wish for all beings to awaken and find enlightenment.
Because ultimately the party is better when everyone is having a good time.
The cautionary tale reading makes me so uncomfortable because it doesn’t see Rey as an actor and hero on her own, but as just some sort of ideal model whose job is to bestow sympathy on those who are deserving or worthy. She can’t break the expected mold of “hero fights villain and defeats him” and do something radical and awe-inspiring like Luke did, her story has to be about learning her narrow role, finding out that her compassion is futile and she has to “overcome” her sympathetic nature.
Sorrow you’ve taught me how to love in your silent wisdom was compassion shown and while no words were ever uttered dear friend on our many sojourns you’ve reminded me that truly never have I walked alone
Ideally, we should show the same amount of compassion for ourselves as we would for someone we love, or for a vulnerable child. Why? Because, by showing ourselves compassion we would be treating ourselves as human beings deserving of love, which is what we are.
(ID: a white block over a pale image of the ocean and sky, text inside the block reads “Oppression, painful as it is, is also a question posed by life to each of us: will your heart grow larger, so it holds the universal hurt, or will it grow smaller, so that, in the end, it can contain only your own?” Text inside a white circle below the block credits the quote to Riki Anne Wilchins.)
Number 7 is my favourite. And after your little speech after Love Story at the Time Gala, it just proved to me even more.
I think of being brave as being strong and totally being yourself, because that indeed, takes bravery. Especially within the society we are in. Breaking down those walls is everything and I’m still continuing to learn this. This is another huge reason I want to become a social worker, I wish to help people break down their walls and stand up for what they believe in.
In your speech you talked about influence and the time we put into what we do - I finished my two year college diploma last year with honours in social work and now I’m in my bachelor degree and just finished my first year with so many learning experiences!
You talked about when we first found out what we wanted to do and the path we wanted to follow - I was 16! I was very lucky to have found out what I wanted to do with my life at such a young age where people have such a difficult time figuring it out.
You talked about people who said “you really should do that!” And “you’re great at that!” And that’s a lot of feedback I’ve received when telling people social work is my life.
My soon to be career means the world to me Taylor and so do you. Thank you for all your inspirational words and everything you do to move people along. I just hope you know how special it is to all your fans❤️💖💓💕💘💓💖❤️💕💘❤️💓💖❤️💕