15 Ripples In My Ocean of Gratitude

Tomorrow is not promised today….
So we must show gratitude whenever we can. Today is the only gift we have, the “present”. And the only thing that is certain is the Future is uncertain. So I must focus on today to ensure a better tomorrow.

For many indigenous nations across Turtle Island Gratitude is Eastern Direction medicine. Giving thanks is our soul rising like the Sun at Dawn. Gratitude is healing. Our smile; touch; laughter; presence….is each of us blessing the universe.

Gratitude says: “We all have a story to tell…an ancient story passed through the bloodlines and spirits of our ancestors.” When someone shares their story be grateful. They have exchanged a life giving energy flow as nourishing as water.

As part of my continual work on “self-awareness” and healing. I am going to share my truth and the deeds I will put forth to honour that truth in this 4 part blog post. Many of these revelations of wellness practices through an indigenous lens are currently being explored by participants enrolled in my weekly course at the TD Centre of Learning in Regent Park. To practise my teachings here are my 15 acts of gratitude or kindness, which I will demonstrate in this life time.

15. Continue to celebrate the changing of the seasons in an authentic way. This means calibrating my mental; physical; emotional and spiritual to the natural rhythms and manifestations each season brings. Allowing my eating; sleeping; working; playing; fasting; celebrating and meditative habits mirror those of my ancestors within a contemporary context.

14. Smile effortlessly if I’m moved to. A forced smile is a fake smile. I want to smile because someone or something moves me in a real way and share that moving moment no matter how simple or complex in a giving; kind expression of “some kind of wonderful”. This will be challenging since I am smile self-conscious somewhat still…that whole gap tooth thang. And living in the screw-face Capitol doesn’t help matters. Regardless there is a soft; warm; happy and humorous side to myself that I’d like to beginning sharing more.

13. Say Nya:weh; Chi Miigwetch and Wela’ lin to anyone, stranger, friend or foe who demonstrates an act of kindness towards me. It’s more than manners for manners sake. It’s karma. To get appreciation you must show appreciation. Never let pride prevent you from doing this even to those who curse the ground you walk on.

12. Tell those who demonstrate effort and good intentions that they are appreciated and I am proud of them. Seeing the potential in others and making someone aware that you see it; assists in elevating collective consciousness and when you lift as you rise the universe will reward you.

11. Visit immediate family members at least once a month. Sometimes it’s as if I don’t have kin living in the same city I am these days. We all have demanding careers; families and other commitments on the daily, but this “only getting together during birthdays and statutory holidays” means in fact I’m only seeing my parents; and my siblings maybe 4 times a year. No more. I’ll be checking in on family in the tdot at least monthly. Even if it’s just for dinner. In these times; our family ties need to be strengthened.

10. Make time for bi-weekly chill out’s with fellow artivists; and leaders who are part of my social networks; but we have not spent enough time kicking it face to face to discuss potential collaborations. The movements of a balanced individual embody the intrapersonal and interpersonal. So while I enjoy introspection and independent pursuits I must also make time to build where a common goal between others can be found.

9. Continue to participate civically in my communities. Balancing paid work with volunteerism. Not just talking about making things happen but being motivated to get shit done. One of my motivations for giving of my time is a better overstanding of “MY PRIVILEGES”, what this means is there are ppl who cannot eat at the tables I eat at because I benefit from something they haven’t got. For example I completed high school and have Bachelor Degrees; while some ppl are unable to read and write. Maybe this is why I gravitate towards giving in areas connected to education and literacy. I am also gonna stop turning a blind eye to someone in need if it’s within my capacity to do something. For example if the same homeless elder is asking for change to get a beverage from the Timmies I’m frequenting before work. Why not just ask them what drink they’d like and buy them one. Or drop off that spare blanket I never use. Nuff said.

8. Attend and support at least two artistic, educational or cultural events other than my own per month. This is called “showing love”.
Liking or clicking on Going on an event on Facebook and not showing up is not acceptable to me anymore. Aside from showing love, I also want to gain more artistic knowledge to up my own performance game.

7. Write down a minimum of 4 things I am thankful for at the end of each day in my journal. May sound a lil corny, but they say once you write your thoughts on paper it’s easier for you to manifest their intentions through action. Receiving is giving; and giving is receiving.

6. Conceive a new artistic creation even if it’s as tiny as a three line concept or as large as 16 bars of rap lyrics or a new drum song composition at least once a week. By honouring my artistic gifts I am showing gratitude for my purpose and commitment to my path.

5. Make time to learn from and share teachings with both an elder and a youth on a weekly basis. The more we know the more we grow. And learning is a lifelong adventure. Praising another’s expertise brings everyone in the sharing circle joy. And joy is uplifting.

4. Make time to spend outdoors; outside of the urban jungle at least once a week and long distant travel bi-monthly to maintain my spiritual connection to the land; it’s natural wonders reignite me; keep me grounded. Appreciating Mother Earth is the first and only treaty. A promissory note our first exhale makes with the creator. We owe it to our fragile existence to give thanks for her and all she encompasses.

3. Writing monthly love letters to my partner. I discovered that being involved with someone whose as committed to their art and community advocacy work as I am; means we don’t have as much physical time together as other couples. So every moment we do have we make it like it’s our last. When we are apart it often means my mind and heart are working overtime thinking about him and us…and so I’ve decided to write those questions, reflections down in love letters, which I’ll send him once a month. I want him to know how deeply he impacts my life and where I still have uncertainties or intense longings or just questions…I want to be able to share and ask….If my life were to end suddenly I wouldn’t want him wondering about our love. I am so blessed we have each other.

2. Hug and kiss those I have deep Konoronhkwa for like my seeds, my family, and my partner, my close friends, and tell them how much they are loved, valued, appreciated everyday. Affection wasn’t always consistent in my younger years so as an adult it’s still not easy for me, not only to give affection but to receive it. I do know however awkward this can be at times; it is also good medicine. Healing medicine. We all need love. Nurturing. Love.

1. Before I leap out of bed each morning I must hang my fire. Take four deep inhales in and four deep exhales out. So I give time to acknowledge how grateful I am that I have awoken filled with the breath of creation once again. I have and continue to overcome many struggles in my life. I am still here. Life is the most precious gift of all.

Remember the power of gratitude…
Embrace each nu day like it is the very first day of your life and the very last day of your life…to guarantee it will be a day well spent.

Nya:weh

Mahlikah

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Memorial Memories from Kelowna Entry #3 March 19th 2012

Memorial Day Three

Part One March 19th

Note to readers: I have been asked to remove personal details about the actual Memorial proceedings today. I do however reserve the right to reflect on my own life journey’s as not only a writer but as a human being. Out of respect for my family’s right to privacy, I have modified this entry and re posted.

8:30am

Getting dressed in black for Grandma’s Memorial. Black blouse. Black slacks. I added my peyote braid necklace and hair clip to match with a touch of mauve and turquoise. I decided to pull my hair back away from my face. Not characteristic of me since  I’ve always been self-conscious of my forehead. My forehead is one of those features that let’s you know I got Black DNA. I use to get teased by little white girls in elementary school about it. And when I would reject a brother’s advances in HS they’d always dis my forehead. My Grandmother on the other hand always greeted me with affectionate kisses on the forehead. She said my forehead was beautiful because it was a part of me.

After a cold cereal and sum black tea. I headed out. When I arrived I was immediately greeted by my Auntie Brenda. I no longer felt like I shouldn’t have come. In fact at the very moment during that embrace I knew how much my Aunties needed me there.

It was a simple gathering for a simple woman.

11:00am

I had an opportunity to make reflections about my Grandmother at the Memorial. I almost forgot my own name…lol. Started with “Good Morning”….my name, whose daughter I am and the names of my siblings. And then I went kinda blank. So I focused on my fondest memory; which of course was spending summers in Kelowna as a little kid from big urban city life in Tdot. Those summers introduced me to living off the land and exposed me to natural wildlife like deers; foxes; moose, and the beauty of mountains; pine ridges. I was sooo pumped to return to school in the fall so I could out shine my classmates during the annual “What I did on my summer vacay…sho & tell”….I’d have stories about the beach; picking strawberries in Grandma’s strawberry patch that use to go on for what felt like miles; making a scarecrow that looked like my grade 4 teacher Mr. “Nose Picker” Lockwood….cuz he scared everybody. Going to Okanagan Valley to pick fresh fruit and climb trees; horse back riding; hiking; bird watching; messin’ wit locus…fishing; and hunting (I had a water gun); but learned basic form; learning to knit and make home made ice cream….and standing beside a moose that compared to a 7 yearold looked like a UHaul Truck.

Grandpa and Auntie Brenda wud always make sure I had something amazing to show. Like a real Rabbit’s Foot or the carcass of a June Bug. One of the coolest things Grand dad taught me was how to whistle with grass. However it only seemed to work only with actual Kelowna grass…Tdot grass sucked or maybe there was too many pesticides….

Anyway I was able to find my groundation once I heard ppl chuckle at me mentioning how different Kelowna was compared to my urban jungle childhood. This gave me the courage to focus on my Grandmother’s hands. I told the attendees that I always remember my Grandma doing things with her hands…making things; cooking things; mending; working; playing; creating with her hands. I then tried to remember the section of my poem that my Grand dad liked best…I hadn’t looked at the poem since last Thurs nite so it took me a minute to retrieve the words. Little shaky but it eventual settled into a rhythm and flo and were spoken out loud. The truth is as I get older my hands are reminding me more and more of my Nana’s.

This is the part I shared:

“The touch of her hands
Enabled me to understand
The necessity of connectivity
No matter how long or short
Our distance may seem
Hands tell the story of the skin
Which maps the contours
Of your kin
The herstorical legacies
Molded and shaped
 by maternal Hands
So when I look at my own
Hands this appendage identity
Mirrors who I be
In relation
To my relationship
To my grandmothers hands”

Grandma would have appreciated the tribute it was simple; loving and warm.

On deck….the memorial reception

In Tribute to Grandma Sylvia

Memorial Memories from Kelowna Entry #2 March 18th 2012

Memorial Day Two

10:00am

After breakfast and enjoying Matt & Michelle’s latte maker my cuz Anik from NB and I worked out at a local Rec Ctr gym…lol. Pure chic’s and elderly dudes…all the cute guys were still hung over from St. Patty’s Day the night before.

After the brief work out we checked out how the other half live in Kelowna by checking out lots up in the hills. These homes are ridiculous. Guest homes are connected to the estates by bridges. This land wuz once wilderness…park land when I first visited my grandparents this way in the 80’s. My grandpa use to drive us up the mountain side in his truck. We would see white tailed deer. Now these are gated communities primarily owned by semi  retired and retired Oil Company owners from Alberta.

Apparently Wayne Gretzky has a home up there. Okanagan Valley is the Valley of Mansion expansion…very sad.

5:30pm

Family BBQ wuz a lot more drama free than expected. Jokes tho. Our Auntie’s husband we call Bev  brought jerk sauce to add that JA feel to the chicken burgers. It wuz fun laughing with my Aunties most whom I have not scene since I wuz in High School.

Having a relaxed family gathering before a memorial service is how we do. We also talked about the family members who were absent because the chose not to come not cuz they couldn’t. Both my Uncles; my Mom’s brothers were no shows and everyone felt that wuz sad.  I haven’t seen my Uncle John since 2000 and Uncle Bill only visited me twice when I wuz still wearing sleepers to bed.

It wuz interesting when family members talked about who looked like who. Aunt Carol has Grandma’s nose; Marcel looks like Uncle Bill; Matt looks like Grandad when he wuz in the Military in the 40’s; my mom and Auntie Brenda look alike and everyone thinks I look neither like my mom or dad and I’m sooo tall. Naw…they b sooo short…lol. I do have the slit tooth trait from Gran dad’s side.

Prop’s to Michelle and Matt the food wuz good.
And things wrapped up around 8:30. The cousin’s decided to chill @ Matt’s and watch a movie and have popcorn.

I actually ate popcorn; had 2 glasses of wine and edited two promo reels :-)….never quite stop working it seems.

Rec Centre

 

The Lots in the Hills

The Aunties

The Cousins

On Deck The Memorial Service…

Memorial Memories from Kelowna Entry #1 March 17th 2012

Memorial Day One
8:33pm  Mar 17th

Departure Day and sooo many fine Air Canada Personnel. Cuties working security; working on da plane and @ the airline restaurants.

Last time I flew I watched Thor on the way to Van City with RS. Will our bassist wuz like Mahlikah “You need a guy like Thor, strong and sensitive”; …isn’t that what all ladies want….lol. This time around I’m watching Ushers OMG Concert Tour. The first 5-7mim  I wuzn’t feelin’ but aft that it wuz really good.

RS is planning a 2013 Concert Tour. This is like research. I need a head set mic dat fits (flash backs of Harbourfront…lol). I like the drop down mic’s too. Dry Ice….smoke machines and hot bboys and bgirls.
Usher does random hot stuff too..,like slo strip teases with his back to the audience; taking bling out of a mission impossible type brief case. He also has a gold platted mic in the shape of a gun..,hahaha. The RS guys will need to hit the gym this summer….there has to b @ least one number where they all rip their tops off…u think?

Watching this gave me quite a few ideas for wardrobe…I’ll b able to test this out in New Mexico this April.

I like short shorts with the mid cut hoodie and knee pads with nylons and high tops.

Bra tops and garters….naw…gotta leave sumting to the imagination. Plus that’s jus not me.

I would love to get sum leather tho and it would b great to support sum nish designers.

It wuz refreshing to see Ushers dancers had body….body is interesting for us females. After our gig on March 15th at El Mocambo at least 4 different dudes commented me on having curves.

An OG called me a Queen…:-)

Mixing up the segments of our sets is proving to be crowd pleasing. We have about 4-5 distinct musical components now.

All I need now is a mega phone…

Went from Usher in London to Bjork in Paris

I like how she manipulates the mic building up to climatic moments and I need to get back to bare foot performances when it’s appropriate. I remember performing barefoot summer of 2010 in Wiky felt good.

Having stuff that glo’s in the dark…fluorescent drum sticks for Jav…lol. Lights….we need lighting it creates so much mood shifts in each of her songs it’s crazee. Confetti and audience chants more audience chance.

More quiet moments and more Drum solo’s 🙂

11:30pm

I got picked up by my Uncle Ronnie and my Grandad I wuz so surprised to see him…way passed his bedtime…lol. He had so much energy. I think he is just happy to have so much family around at this time.

I wuz sooo hyped about kickin’ it with my cousins @ the pub. Had my shamrock cap and clover sunny shades…and guess what they all had started drinking @ 3 in the afternoon so by the time I got in they were ready to bounce.

We had some drinks and convo at one of my cousin’s house and crashed around 3am.

On Deck…Hitting the Gym in Kelowna and the Family BBQ

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