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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Selfie Revolution….What Are u Afraid Of?

Big ups to Kim Katrin Crosby, The People Project, for staying on top of the selfie struggle. I am actually floored but not surprised that people are openly; violently opposed to POC; Indigenous people; differently abled; Two-Spirited; Trans gendered…selfie images flooding the World Wide Web. Seriously??? Let me say this, since the selfie I have had the incredible opportunity to visually engage with so many beautiful; unique; diverse; inspiring individuals from around the world. Images of people which never graced the print magazines; or television shows of the 80’s and 90’s. I have always been mad self-conscious about being photographed and even throughout the years as I became more involved with the arts and entertainment industry; I still cringed at the thought of getting my picture taken. Like many of us I had physical insecurities compounded by systemic racism…leading to self-hatred and identity challenges: Too skinny; Too fat; Too exotic; Not black enuff; Not native enuff; Funny nose; Gap tooth smile; Too Flat chested; Too much ass……anyway the selfie is my photo flash record therapy these days. I feel a lot different about my kinda beauty now…which is “my kinda beauty”…I see it shinning inside and out and when social media friends, fans and complete strangers identify positively with my kinda beauty…that’s a validation that speaks volumes to why I selfie and why many of us selfie. When I hashtag #nativepride #afronative under a selfie, I have sent out a beacon to others who self identify in a way that we couldn’t in school or in the work place or even in our own families…communities. I am not completely comfortable with the term “role model”, but I do know a lot of POC and Indigenous youth look up to me so my selfies indirectly encourage healthy positive self-expression; knowledge of self and the decolonization of Western European standards of beauty; and I’m down wit that. I have an inherent right to b “myself”; express “myself”; luv “myself”!! I am more than a serial number! More than a bar code! More than a box to b checked on a census form! I am visually iconic so deal with it!

U can’t box me in cuz I’m wearing my own skin!!!</blockquote>

So to all those selfie haters who claim, “POC and Indigenous people are saturating social media with visual egocentric pollution”
#unplugandstoptrollingus
!!

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Still I Rize #3: Ebb & Flo

Three months into my “nu me” movement and I still have many rivers to cross. My Eastern Direction shifts to healthier eating and regular exercise are slowly maintaining a rhythm of consistency. However as I begin integrating emotional health awareness into my life I will again
need to revisit aspects of my eating habits which actually contribute negatively to my emotional well being.

I will need to reduce sugar, fat, meat and dairy; I have already started looking for healthier substitutes. Starting this month I am also switching to eating only fish with high omega’s. No more chicken; pork or beef…with the exception of liver for my anemia. If I’m eating red meat or fowl it has to be game meat exclusively now.

What is emotional health? It encompasses mental health issues like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, addiction, and other conditions. But being emotionally healthy also means managing day-to-day issues like stress, making and keeping friendships, changing bad habits, and using your creativity, all of which can have an impact on your physical health. Understanding emotional health means paying attention to your overall happiness and well-being. Being emotionally healthy also involves maintaining control of your thoughts and feelings. People with good emotional health are resilient in the face of challenges, find ways to express their creativity, and understand the importance of social connections. They also recognize the power of spirituality and the value of staying positive. One of my challenges is I’m somewhat of an empath; which means not only am I sensitive to the feelings of others, but I have a tendency to carry the emotions of others with me; which includes both positive feelings and negative. If I don’t release these emotions through smudging, drumming, meditation, forrest bathing, writing, exercising…. They can build up and cause me to become moody; overly emotional and can trigger other emotions associated with my own past hurts, which can cause anger, frustration, deep sadness, withdrawal….so I need to maintain those healthy emotional outlets. And keep up open communication with people close to me so misunderstandings can be avoided. This is also a challenge for me cause despite being a performer, I’m actually extremely shy and guarded about my feelings…especially where relationships are concerned.
I am working on letting go of insecurities within areas of my emotional life. Having a lack of confidence is stopping me from growing and blooming. So I am surrounding myself with individuals who show me why I should be feeling better about myself, they shine light on accomplishments that barely register when they should have. I have done more and come so much farther than I give myself credit for. Emotions are like waves. They come and go, ebb and flo….keeping my head above water; while embracing the tidal waves of life….I swim.

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Still I Rize Entry #2: My Body is My Totem

Since my first entry I have been seeking support from local herbalists; naturopaths; a family doctor; nutritionist to explore how to heal my physical state of being. My general physical health on a scale of 1-10 apparently currently sits at about an 8 but is on the decline, despite good eating habits and exercise….so I needed to dig deeper. After a physical and blood work it comes down to the bitter truth I’m getting “older” so my body needs different things in order to maintain optimal health. In my first entry I spoke about “tremors, triggers and traumas”….the physical naggings I have been experiencing lately like joint pain; muscle aches and headaches are tremors or signals that my body is changing and I need to make changes NOW!!! Lol…on the real though…yep gotta do it. I have already stopped excessive drinking and burning irresponsibly and I haven’t drunk coffee in almost 8 years; which will make the next level of lifestyle changes for my physical a little easier according to my support team. So what’s the plan? How is it gonna go down?

Top 5 Steps of the Eastern Direction Detox:

1. 20-40 min of physical activity a day to increase heart rate. I have re- enlisted my Jamaican personal trainer from 2008 days she makes a fitness boot camp look like Primary School Recess. I also need to integrate more daily stretching/yoga.

2. Breathing deeply 2-4 times a day
(4-6-8-10) I will be doing this first thing in the morning at least once in the middle of the day and again before bed. Inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth.

3. Regular sleep routine….easier said than done when you are an artist that gigs….the key will be consistency and being relaxed before sleep through specific herbal tea relaxants; aroma therapy; meditation; music. And no back to back late nights…. Body needs time to re-energize.

4. Diet (this is going to be huge…I gotta remove toxins…balance hormones….increase my iron, calcium, zinc, Omega- 3’s, and Melatonin….had to invest in a app to help me define all this new vocab. For this overhaul I need the combination of my herbalist; naturopath; and nutritionist…damn it’s like puberty all over again except twisted… Lol…here is a snap shop of the key dietary needs my body has now:

Kale, Dark Chocolate, Fatty Fish Oils, walnuts, eggs, apples, alfalfa, barley, baker’s yeast, beets, cherries, chickpeas, carrots, celery, cucumbers, dates, fennel, oats, olives and olive oil, papaya, peas, plums, pomegranates, potatoes, beans, rhubarb, rice, tomatoes, wheat and yams. Seeds such as sesame seeds, flaxseed and sunflower seeds. My herbalist wants more: anise seed, parsley, red clover, licorice, thyme, turmeric, verbena, sage and hops, black kosh kosh and tart cherry juice.

5. Heat: I need to start spending my winters in warmer climates as much as possible and in the meantime regular hot baths and visits to the Sauna at my gym.

As I begin the physical healing journey I will be posting updates on my Instagram Mahlikah. My next entry will focus on the emotional healing which will require major trust and commitment…..Ona:kii for now.

M

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Still I Rize Entry #1

Still I Rize is a new series of posts that will chronicle the healing journey I will be undertaking this year. Most of my social media followers know me as a dedicated hip hop artist; community warrior; educator; poet; radio host/producer….but like a lot of my peers for all the good I share with the worlds I navigate through; I also have flaws; tainted hollows of my subconscious mind that can and have sabotaged my ability to give and receive in a loving; respectful way. These tremors; triggers; traumas that I experienced during childhood; adolescence and early adulthood continue to resurface on occasion despite healthy eating; regular meditation; positive friends and family; exercise; ceremonies; elder consultations and creating artistically.
I’m tired of past pain robbing me of experiencing potential goodness in the present. I moved from victim to survivor years ago but now I need to transcend survivor. Just surviving as it turns out doesn’t facilitate true thriving….especially where relationships are concerned. Why am making this journey public? I’m already a public person and many people, especially youth consider me a role model. Maybe this will help others in addition to myself. As an MC I acknowledge my ego makes me stubborn and as a poet my emotions make me hyper sensitive so this level of commitment to a subconscious
detox will not be easy in the least. And I will not be able to do this on my own. Readers will come to know who will be supporting me and how as the months progress. This self initiated spiritual intervention was motivated by the loss of someone I care deeply for and my genuine disappointment in my own inability to be a balanced person on a daily basis in all aspects of my life. Sunday January 19th after heading home in a very distraught emotional state I lost focus and was almost hit by a car at a major intersection. In a split second my physical existence was almost vaporized. I have a second chance. Without health of mind body emotions and soul we have nothing. You are welcome to join the journey of the freedom of my mind and liberation of my soul one step at a time.

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Health Issues are Top Stories

If 80% of a community is hooked on prescription drugs…this is an issue that Health Canada needs to look into…but they aren’t. Why? It’s Sioux Lookout First Nation. For more read this:

Some First Nations say 80 per cent of their population is hooked on prescription painkillers

Self-Governance apparently does not extend to First Nation’s People building their own private hospital on their reserve for their people….this is going to be played out in the courts for sure:

Westbank First Nation hospital likely unconstitutional, says expert.

Finally the 7th Generation seems to be destined to be the catalyst for intervention to end the cycle of drug abuse within our communities especially amongst parents and elders:

First Nations Children Send Distressing Letter to Addicted Parents.

Our Health Should Be In Our Own Hands

NAHO is no no! It’s a wrap! In a time when Aboriginal Peoples across Kanata got the highest rates of all the major silent killers they cut NAHO. Our water is sick; our housing is inadequate; unemployment is up and education is still not a funding priority and you cut NAHO. It’s time our people thought seriously about putting our health back in our own hands. Our hands can heal. We need our medicines. We need the teachings for those medicines. We need our traditional elders. We need our clean water and our clean soil.

Perhaps this is a wake up call we needed. All I know is when I don’t feel well I don’t go to my doctor first or consult my local drug dealer excuse me pharmacist. I take my medicines, boil those medicines and drink those teas, bathe in those teas, steam and inhale those teas…rub those oils and ointments…and speak to an elder.

It’s been almost 4 years since I have consulted my family doctor. Since putting my health in my hands.

NAHO Gone!