Tag Archives: gratitude

Gratitude – A Daily Practice

“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-painting-by-judith-shaw

“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.

This post was originally published as part of my recent newsletter. Sign up for my newsletter and receive info about forgotten women artists, my thoughts on mythology and art, notice of sales of my work and much more.  There’s a sign-up form on my Facebook page (on the left – scroll down).
“This a wonderful day. I’ve never seen this one before.” Maya Angelou
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The Healing Power of Gratitude

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-painting-by-Judith-Shaw

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.

Celtic-Goddess-Oracle-cards-by-judith-shawUPDATE – 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.

The Gift of Life

Life – a precious gift I so often take for granted.  Events of the past week have turned that blatant disregard into profound gratitude.

I began keeping bees about three years ago.  My first two years were unsuccessful.  But last year, bees I obtained from my bee mentor, Mike, were strong and vibrant.  They provided me with my first honey harvest, wintered well, and come spring were out and about pollinating the neighborhood.

Brigid's Garden, painting by Judith ShawTwo Sundays ago I knew it was beyond time to open the hive to see what the bees needed.  As Mike was very busy with other bee issues, his work and his life, I decided to go it alone even though I felt a bit of trepidation since I’d never performed this task before.

While working the hive one bee got up inside my veil.  This is where my inexperience kicked in. Instead of simply killing that one bee, I ended up taking off the veil.  The bees went at my head, getting into my hair and buzzing all around.  Trying to remain calm I used my gloved hands to comb them out of my hair.  By this point I was getting stung repeatedly.  Finally I got them all off, went inside, showered and pulled out the stingers I could find.

Having been stung before I didn’t think I was in danger of anything besides a number of hurting, swollen spots.  But my body responded differently to around 20 stings. Not long after my heart was racing, my face was beet red, my chest hurt and I felt my throat closing up.

I tend to think I’m invincible but at my son’s insistence I went to the ER.  They fixed me up with their drugs.

Still I am dealing with the systemic problem of the toxins in my body and have felt quite strange since the event – coughing, weak, nauseous, tired and a seriously non-functioning brain.

Then on the following Friday I learned that  my sister had a freak bicycle accident on that Thursday.  She ran into a garbage can, fell and broke her hip.  She ended up in surgery with a total hip replacement. Needless to say I was very upset and worried by this.  Life was seeming very precarious.

As it turns out recovery from hip replacement is very good and most people can return to a normal life maintaining activities such as low impact sports like hiking, biking and swimming.

The Morrigan, Celtic Dark Goddess, painting by Judith ShawBeing to forced to slow down has made me reevaluate the way I live.  My worry about money sets me on a course of constant doing – striving to create income from my art – creating a life seriously out of balance. The Celtic Dark Goddess, The Morrigan comes to mind.   She is a complex and difficult goddess who reminds me that chaos and darkness are part of the flux and flow of life.  For something to come together, something must fall apart. When facing overwhelming challenges The Morrigan with Her power of life and death guides us  to our own inner strength. Another world, another way is possible

Sunflower Spiral, painting by Judith ShawThese experiences have given me new eyes with which to see the world. All seems to shimmer around me now – the beautiful turquoise sky, the crystal clear mountains, and the blossoming trees and flowers glow in sharp relief. While at the same time the sterile techno world of gains and acquisitions, the extreme separation from nature, and the frenetic speed of freeways and byways seem ever more unreal.

Any petty hurts or sadnesses I have nursed retreat to the realm of the absurd, chased away by love and gratitude for the gift of life. Tears well up in my eyes for no real reason as I feel the sweetness of life and the love of a billion hearts.

 

A Beautiful World

Deer in the Forest a painting by Judith Shaw

Bright the light, deep the darkness –

The Beauty, the intense and stunning beauty of this world

Strikes my heart with prayers of gratitude.