“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” A.A. Milne
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the United States and we all we turn our thoughts to thankfulness and gratitude. Though gratitude and thankfulness can be synonymous, positive psychologists contend that gratitude expresses a deeper appreciation than thankfulness and produces longer lasting positive results.
Harvard Medical School defines gratitude this way – “a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives … As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals – whether to other people, nature, or a higher power”
With gratitude we not only acknowledge the goodness in our lives but also recognize that some of the sources of this goodness lie outside the self.
“Giving Thanks”, gouache on paper
Taking time everyday to express gratitude can benefit us all in many ways. Many studies have found that people who consciously count their blessings tend to be happier and less depressed. It has also been shown to improve physical health. Practicing gratitude enhances our ability to feel empathy, reduces aggressive behavior, and allows us to appreciate other’s success without envy. In addition gratitude enhances our resilience when faced with difficult situations.
We know how easy it is to fall into negative thought patterns so how can one cultivate gratitude? A couple of suggestions include noticing your every day life from a point of gratitude and vowing not to complain, criticize or gossip for a week. And for those who like arts and craftsy kind of aides to their practice here’s a good article.
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“This a wonderful day. I’ve never seen this one before.” Maya Angelou
I just have to reblog this poem from fellow contributor at FAR. She expresses so very powerfully the rage women are feeling and the sense of power and solidarity to finally speak up against the violence that has been perpetrated on the battlefield of women’s bodies for millennia.
She begins like this:
“I need the grandmothers to help me
re-member my rage.
Cross stitch. Double knot. I sew it back on. The raggedy parts I let fly loose
when I thought it was OK to not be “so angry.”
“Boys will be boys.”
And so then, girls will be angry.
And we will re-member—our rage.”
Continue reading here.
I have a confession to make. I have turned into a raging maniac when driving. Blame it on the orange barrel hell my town has become for over a year now; blame it on rude drivers; blame it on my own spiritual deficiency – but no matter the source, it’s unpleasant and I want to be in peace even when driving under insane conditions.
So I began to consider the healing power of gratitude. With so much anger bubbling up on all fronts is it possible that gratitude could be the salve to heal our wounds?
Reflections On Light And Water, gouache on paper by Judith Shaw
It is hard to feel grateful while the ongoing destruction of our Earth’s systems creates more and more climate catastrophes. Yet these catastrophes remind us not to take Earth’s bounty for granted. After my sister lost power and water for almost a week from Hurricane Irma, I remembered what I usually forget and said a small prayer of thanks every time I turned on the water. The miracle of running water is something we all take for granted. I am grateful for the modern convenience of running water and the ease it provides to our lives. I am even more grateful for the waters of Earth, which arrive in many ways and provide life and well-being
Read the rest of my thoughts on gratitude in my recent post on the Feminism and Religion blog.
UPDATE – the Celtic Goddess Oracle Cards
The decks and guidebooks are in production!
Expected date of arrival in my hands is the first week of December, 2107 (only a few days later than my projected date). That still gives plenty of time to give the deck as Christmas gifts. In the meantime you can pre-order through my website Judith Shaw Art. There are still about 20 or so decks available from this first run.
We are in the winter of our souls.
A cold wind blows across the land.
A bleak sky pours down.
The land is strewn with the dead,
mowed down by hatred, bigotry, and ignorance.
The gates of the Underworld are open wide.
And we must walk through to get to the other side.
Wild Things, goauche on paper by Judith Shaw
It might be long.
It might be hard.
It might be cold.
But winter will surely give way to spring one day.
Life Awakens, oil on canvas by Judith Shaw
Somewhere deep within the DNA of each one of us lies the memory of a time of peace among humans, a time before the horrors of pride and glory spilled blood and blood on the earth.
Yellow Flower Mandala, oil on canvas, by Judith Shaw
The work of archeologist Marija Gimbutas revealed a time around 6000 – 4500 BC in southeastern Europe where people lived in harmony, with no weapons or warfare, where nature and life were revered.
What was once – what can be imaged – can be made reality once again.
I am from my mother
from the swirling stars of the cosmos
through the long passage,
contacting and expanding
birthed of her body
nourished by her love.
I am mother.
You came to me
through blood and bones
to be suckled by me
and then slowly set free.
I am the Mama bear, ready to attack when you are threatened,
your pain harder to bear than my own.
I explode into a thousand stars when your star rises.
Your life always more precious than my own.
Mother Goddess your names are many – Isis, Rhea, Cybele, Danu……..
Your love flowers in our hearts.
Your strength gives us the courage
to birth, to grow, to die.
As surely as night turns to day,
Suffering will turn to joy.
A Dark Night, gouache on paper, by Judith Shaw
A New Day, watercolor and ink on paper, by Judith Shaw