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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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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