Soldiers Died For People Like Me, a Memorial Day Message, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

Soldiers Died For People Like Me,

A Memorial Day Message

by

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

Memorial Day must suck for the extremist right-wing-white men in our country.

They get all emotional on this day for all the fallen soldiers. And for good reason.

However, they need to understand those fallen soldiers fought for the rights of people on the #LGBTQIA spectrum. They fought for the rights of women, minorities, the poor, the uninsured, Planned Parenthood, senior citizens, and all the Muslims living in our country, and the environment, the right to impeach a barbarian president.

The alt-right white “christian” KKK-loving men can’t get around this truth. And it must really piss them off.

Of course, some of wars were unjust, wrong, a political pawn. Some however, were not. Some, I suppose, needed to be fought.

Thinking of those people who died to help keep America safe, we need to remember they died for people like me.

 

easter me

 

 

 


 


Any donations specifically from this post will be in turn, donated to Veteran’s Mental Health Programs. <3


When Mother’s Day Doesn’t Quite Fit, By Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

When Mother’s Day Doesn’t Quite Fit

 

By

 

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

As I was reminded at church today, Mother’s Day may be hard for some people. Some, like me, have lost their mother’s–in my case, six years ago. And while I can still celebrate her life she isn’t physically present to go out to lunch with or something like that. Others never had a mother–in the sense of one being present in their lives. Others couldn’t have children and desperately wanted to. Others have lost their children to miscarriages or other tragedies. Still others have had mothers who were abusive or negligent. And still others have a strained relationship with their mothers, and some mothers have a strained relationship with their children.

There are also people like me–people who lived most of their parenting lives as “Dad.” I will always be Dad to my kids–I know I was a father to them and I am glad for that. I am also their mother. So, for me, Mother’s Day is very special. I get to parent in a whole new way and in the same ways I did before coming out. Luckily for me my kids are amazingly supportive and I have already received Mother’s Day greetings from them. However, I am also one of those people who has always (even before coming out as trans) ached to be able to have children—I was always deeply envious of pregnant mothers. I have always ached to be able to nurse a child. I have come to accept neither of these things will ever happen–and I am no less a mother. So, to all the non-binary “Moms” or people who act as mothers to others–regardless of their gender. Happy Parent’s Day to you.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the people out there who mother other people’s children—teachers, nurses, doctors, librarians.  Blessings to all the foster moms and moms who have adopted children from around the world or their own communities.

And to all the grandmothers and aunts who have taken on the role of mother again because of special circumstances.  Blessings to all the grandmothers who simply get to grandmother grandchildren, and do so with wisdom.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the single Dads who serve as mothers all day, everyday.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the people who have consciously chosen to not bear or raise children.  I am willing to bet there is someone or something in your life that you mother, and do so with grace, dignity, and love–be that a pet, a plant, a poem, or a person.

And of course, Happy Mother’s Day to ourselves–no matter who we are–for we all, one day, must begin, and never stop, mothering ourselves. It is just the way that it is–we all become our own mother’s one day–giving birth over and over again to ourselves.

To wrap up I would like to lift up all those for whom Mother’s Day is a hard day. Your soul and spirits are Mothers. You have been mothered by the world. You are Mothers of the world.

And also grieve, or be angry. Seek safe support to be with you today as you move through any difficult or challenging feelings and memories.

You are loved. You are special. And you are held in the hands of Mother Gaia.

 

IMG_20161101_170759

 

 


 

 


Thank you for your support.  All donations go to medical expenses and groceries. <3


Nursing the Dark, Eating the Light, a Fable, by Radiance Angelina Petro

Nursing the Dark, Eating the Light

A Fable

by

Radiance Angelina Petro

 

 

One day, an acorn and a cicada nymph were talking underground, when a beam of light suddenly appeared shining down on the acorn.

“What is that?” asked the acorn.

“It’s light,” said the cicada.

“Why is it tugging at me?”

“That’s what light does.”

“What if I don’t want to move?”

“Dunno,” said the cicada, “I’ve been under here for 17 years. I like the dark.”

“I haven’t been under here for nearly as long,” said the acorn, “but it sure is comfortable.”

“And cool,” said the cicada, “and snug, and yeah, so cool—wonderfully cool.”

“What do I do?” asked the acorn.

“About what?”

“The pull.  I mean, my heart feels like it’s breaking, and something inside wants out.”

“Go with it,” said the cicada. “So part of you moves into the light? Your roots will always be in darkness.”

“And what about you?”

“Me?” Said the cicada, “Well, when the light draws me out, and I climb a tree and wait for my wings to spill out, then my roots will be in the sky.”

“Should I try to fight the light?” asked the acorn.

“Good luck,” said the cicada. “Funny thing is, once during late summer, you fell to the ground and the darkness pulled you under and you loved it. You didn’t resist. You couldn’t resist. I heard you sinking down. You were weeping and laughing all at the same time because it was so nourishing and safe-feeling to be under here. Now you want to fight the light. Try this, just try breathing in the light, and see what happens.”

The acorn did as the cicada suggested and she suddenly felt the light breathing her and she found herself unfurling into the bright, blue sky, and the light–she was eating the light.

“There ya go,” said the cicada.

“Aren’t you coming?” asked the acorn as she turned away.

“When I have suckled the roots of the mother tree long enough,” said the cicada, “then I will come. For now I am still nursing the dark.”

 

 

 


 

 

 


As of the posting of this story, I am still unemployed and without an income.  Please help if you can.  All my love, Radiance

Questions for You

Questions For You
By
Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

My wise friend, Mika and I were talking recently and she observed that if we can allow negative actions, words, and energy from some negative people to drain us, then the implication is that we can allow positive actions, words, and energy of positive people to fill us. I am working on ways to do this, for while I have received TONS and TONS of loving, kind, encouraging, compassionate, and just plain AMAZING support as I have come out as trans, there have been a few people who have said some very cruel things, mean things, reprehensible things, and acted in heartbreaking ways towards me. And my silly mind starts to focus on those few instead of the many, many, MANY who support me. And then I begin to fade, nudge closer to a depression that seems suddenly so far away, and I become afraid, feel guilty, begin to believe I am doing something wrong, when in fact I am not DOING anything. I did not choose to be trans. I am not BECOMING a woman. I AM a woman who is finally conscious of this beautiful and affirming truth and am simply moving closer and closer to fully living and presenting as the person I am. I was born the right gender, wrong body parts. And so my loving supporters, what things do you do to help increase the positive, to draw that loving energy in? This is without a doubt the most intense time of my life—and the most wonder-filled, and beautiful, and yet, it is hard to know there are people who a few days ago were my friends that now literally hate me, and that’s hard. Really hard. And thank Goddess there is YOU. If you’re reading this I believe you’re one of the ones who love my heart. Who looks past what I may wear or what I may call myself, who doesn’t worry about losing anything, but instead is happy they are gaining the best me ever. What suggestions do you have for increasing the positive, for helping a negative-focuser like me to focus on the good–the good that is everywhere. Truly the outpouring of love I am receiving is incredible, and I feel guilty the haters affect me so much, like I am insulting you. I do not mean to, my dear friends. This is all new to me—this complete acceptance of who I am, and I am so happy, really, giddy-magically happy, and need and want your continued support, but I am working with a mind that is trained in negativity and self-hatred. I would be honored to hear how you gather in the positive and release the negative, how you focus on the positive and ignore the negative. You totally rock my friends. I love you. Yours with grace and love, Jennifer

 

 

 


 

 

 

 


Donations go to a fund for my transition.  Thank you for supporting me and this journey.  <3


Playing With Words: Curiosity, by Joseph Anthony, EFT Practitioner

Playing With Words

Curiosity

By

Joseph Anthony, EFT Practitioner

 

Curiosity
killed the cat, so the saying goes.  It
also sparked every idea to improve something or to discover new ways to treat
illnesses or to make better mousetraps. In today’s world however, other than
cats feeling annoyed at fewer mice to eat, hardly anyone ever notices, or even
cares about curiosity.  Especially
teachers and corporate leaders.  They
need their students, employees, and consumers doing the same old-same old, day
in, day out.  The average Joe isn’t
supposed to be curious or to come up with new, innovative ideas.  That’s for the higher ups.  We’re not supposed to wonder about new foods
or brands.  Students aren’t meant to ask
any questions that don’t pertain to standardized tests.

Yet curiosity
is the very thing that will save the world. 
For this world to continue to grow, blossom, and evolve, more and more
people, especially children and their teachers and parents, need to become
increasingly curious.

Curious comes directly from the Latin and
means “careful, diligent, inquiring eagerly, and meddlesome (Online EtymologyDictionary).”  In mid-14th
century France the word took on negative shadings and began to mean “anxious,
odd, or strange (ibid).”  And, speaking
of odd, curious, when used in booksellers’
catalogs, means, “erotic and pornographic (ibid).”

Let’s hold
on to the original Latin for the sake of this post (it’s usually a good bet to
stick with the Latin): “careful, diligent, inquiring eagerly, and meddlesome.”  We can easily see the benefits of children being
careful and diligent, but once they start asking lots of questions we call
them, “Why Birds,” and get impatient: “Because that’s the way it is,” we say, or
worse: “Because I said so.”  We stifle
their questions with another DVD. We tell them to go play or take
them to another soccer practice—anything but sit and really answer their
questions or vulnerably admit we do not know the answers. 

Leonardo
DaVinci’s painting teacher quit when he realized young Leonardo was a better
painter than he was.  That man was a
coward.  Courageous and wise teachers
should welcome their students becoming smarter, more creative, more innovative,
and more enlightened in every way than they are.   They’ve done their job once their students
outshine them. 

The spirit
of asking questions eagerly should run like blood through the veins of our
minds and hearts.  It should travel our
very nervous systems and tickle our fancies. 
I am not suggesting questioning everything.  I am suggesting asking important, revelatory
questions that will change the way things are done—questions that will revolutionize
your life.  This is not knocking traditions
and well established practices in a wide variety of subjects.  It is to say however, if there are areas in
your life where you just go with the flow in the sense of living blindly (not
Taoistically), unconsciously, without care, apathetically, without any thought
of why you’re doing what you’re doing then you need a jolt of curiosity.  Ask questions that make you feel
uncomfortable, sweaty in your palms, nervous in your assumptions—thrilled with
wide-eyed wonder.  Ask the questions that
raise eyebrows, ruffle feathers, inspire sneers.  Don’t ask to offend.  Ask to know. Ask because you want a better
life, a more evolved, conscious life. Be meddlesome. Meddlesome into questions
of your faith and life-long held beliefs and prayers.  Are they working?  Are they bearing fruit in your life and in
the lives of those around you?  Your
everyday practices of thinking.  Are they
healthy, productive, fun, inspired, compassionate, open, creative? If not.  Change them. 
Ask for help if you need to. 
Revolutionize your life, one thing at a time.  Invigorate and innovate your spiritual and
emotional life with the light of curiosity.

And if you
make a change and “fail,” so what? Go back to the old way, or try another new
way.  The more we give ourselves the
freedom to fail and take healthy risks the better our world will become, the
more enlightened and plain old fun and amazing it will turn out to be.  Practice this discipline of curious
questioning, develop your sense of wonder, then pass that spirit to the
children of the world.

You might
think children have curiosity and wonder naturally, and they do to an extent,
but today’s children, raised on hand-held devices, computers, TV-nature shows,
have all the facts about everything at their fingertips.  There is no need to ask questions–real
questions.  Yet deep down, the children
of today are becoming increasingly restless (it shows up in teenagers who walk
around with their pants around their thighs and ear-buds in their ears).  Some attribute this restlessness to
diet.  I attribute it to a deadening
education system and to their own observations of the adults around them doing
the same tired things every day, watching the same old shows, going to jobs
they hate, watching the same old terrifying news sound-bites, and so on.  They are agitated, worried, concerned—they want
to know growing up is worth it.  And so
their insides stir with questions while their outsides play video games and
watch movies.

Curiosity is
the cure to the world’s restlessness.  In
fact, curious is related to the word,
cure (ibid).  If we would only ask questions—deep,
meaningful questions, inventory our lives (and ask trusted friends to help us
do this), cultivate our sense of wonder, then the gray layer of dust that
covers some aspects of our lives will clear. 
Even if we never find out the answers to our questions–the adventures of
searching and exploring, of rambling through the ancient forests of our souls,
traveling through the old towns of our unused talents with their wonderful old
diners serving up heaping plates of steaming wonder and joy, navigating through
the narrow straights of our limited beliefs towards the open, sun-dappled waters
of freedom, driving down the old back roads of our dreams—rediscovering the lost
tree house or the path leading to the creek where we used to sit for hours
writing poetry—these are the journeys into how we are meant to live.  Live the questions as Rilke would say.  And if the answers bloom before us or from
within us, then so be it.  And if they
don’t–enjoy the ride.  For through the
practice of curiosity you will be cured of complacency, the status quo, the
uninspired life.  You will become a
living lighthouse for the lost and the weary. 
You will, in effect, become truly alive.

 Thank you for you kind contributions to keeping the Wonder Child Blog going





 

Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog


On the Importance of Sleepenings

On the Importance of Sleepenings

By

Joseph Anthony

 

Awakenings
are the spring of all things. Awakenings breathe out rebirth and entire fields
are covered with flowers.  Awakenings can
be sudden, like lightning cleaving a tree. 
They can be gradual, like an iceberg melting slowly over decades into a
roiling sea.

When we have
them we sometimes cheer, laugh, weep for joy, or melt into an embrace.  We are unloosened and free to move.  

Sometimes
however, things need to rest. We need to put things to bed.  We need to rest our minds, bodies, and even
hearts and souls. 

Let us call
these rests: Sleepenings. 

When we are
tangled in a skein of fear and doubt, let us try not to fight them.  Be still, rest.  Have a sleepening.  When we do, our breath slows, we relax, and
so when we do eventually awaken, the fear and doubt will be at our feet and we can
walk unencumbered.  In fact, we can pick
up the muddle and wind it into a ball and then weave hope and wisdom out of
those fears and doubts. 

While working
towards our dreams, fairly obsessed with the joy and excitement of the torrent
of creativity or the steady stream of ideas and inspirations, if we do not take
moments to pause, then that self-same torrent will slow to a trickle, the
stream will dry. 

We need a
sleepening.  Literally and
figuratively.  A rest for our bodies and our
minds.  Let the torrent naturally slow;
let the stream flow without us always splashing in it and muddying it up.  When we awaken, the torrent will be waiting,
and somehow refreshed with clear water. 
The stream will be there, a crystal blue ribbon guiding us through the
forest of possibilities.  We needn’t view
the sleepening as if it’s something wrong. 
Winter isn’t wrong.  It gives
spring its juice.

Try putting
some old fear to bed.  If you try to
fight it, it will grow.  Let it
rest.  Give it some time alone.  Give it some space. Turn your attention to
something else.  Consciously move your
gaze, your hands, your inner and outer attention towards something that gives you
strength and courage.  Consciously
breathe yourself into calm. And not just for two minutes.  Sometimes the sleepening needs to last for
days or weeks.   Sometimes it needs to
last forever.  However long it lasts, if
you can turn your heart towards hope, towards big and little steps in another
direction, then when the awakening happens, when the fear eventually rises from
its cold, dusty bed, it will be changed into courage, faith, a being of
light.  And if it still looks like fear, you
will be able to see through it, like a ghost, and keep moving.

What things
need to be put to bed in your life?  An
old idea that no longer makes sense?  An
old, limited belief (or a new one?) holding you back from sharing a talent,
interest, or wild idea? What worries or fears need a good wintering?  What shames tucked away in the dark folds of
your memories need to be laid to rest once and for all?  Try having a sleepening for each of
them.  Honor them with sleep.  Give them the grace of hibernation.  When they awaken, they will be transformed
into gifts for yourself and others.  They
will be winged things or stories, songs, dances of healing and light, paintings
full of vibrant color, hymns dripping with gratitude.  Whatever they become, they will no longer own or
terrorize you.  They will be harvests of
grace meant to be shared.

And in the
same way that we do all sorts of wonderful, ritualistic things to help us have
awakenings, let us discover creative and healthy ways to have sleepenings.  We can sing our shame lullabies of
affirmations, rock our fears in the steady arms of faith, hand our worries over
to someone else, let them rock them to sleep while we find a place to curl up
and dream.  Light a candle in honor of a
long held limited belief, say a prayer that it find its way home and when it
arrives, pray that it is a new creature in God. Let your grief cry itself to
sleep in your arms.  Bear witness to its
pain.  Tell your doubts a story of
hope.  Prepare a room for your financial
stress with the open windows of amends and restitutions and with the clean
sheets of thoughts of giving, sharing, and of abundance. Take some old unhelpful
idea about your body or sexuality and make a bed for it–a grand, welcoming bed
of satin and silk, dappled with roses and candle light.  Ravish that old idea with the kisses of
acknowledgement, awareness, and conscious presence, and then let it fall back exhausted,
changed, breathing the deep breaths of blissful acceptance.  Not the acceptance of surrendering to it.  Let the old idea surrender to you, to the
touch of your passion and desire, and tender openness to exploring new ways of
being alive.  Let it awaken in your
hands, and blossom before you as a new possibility shoot through and through
with warm, luxurious amazement.

The more
ways we can learn how and when to put something to bed, to let things have
their sleepenings, the more our awakenings can be full of light and gratitude,
creativity, and clear, fresh energy.  And
often we need other people to help us know when we need to put something to
bed.  So often we are like children so
frazzled with the activity of the moment that we forget what exactly we are
doing and how to stop.  I’ve been
there.  Many times.  And were it not for mentors saying: “Put it
to bed, slow down,” I would not be here today.

The paths of
sleep and of awakening were not meant to be traveled alone.

Of course, I
am not talking about procrastination, avoidance, delusion or denial.  I am talking about releasing the tight grip
we sometimes have on things that are actually unhealthy or unhelpful.  When we loosen our hold, allow ourselves to
be held in the hands of another—a mentor, for example, we can put those old
things to bed so other things can wake up and smell the roses.

For all
sleepenings are really reawakenings and all awakenings are really
resleepenings.  With every awakening
something is laid to rest.  With every
sleepening something is woken within in us that says: “Breathe.”


Thank you for your contributions to the Wonder Child Blog





Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog


Haiku for New Year’s Resolutions, by Joseph Anthony

Haiku for New Year’s Resolutions

By

Joseph
Anthony

 

It’s customary to make New Year’s
Resolutions. 

Unfortunately it’s also customary to
break them. 

It is my hope that these little poems
will help you pick one resolution

and succeed in that one resolution

before embarking on another.

You can make conscious decisions

To change your life

Anytime.

So pick one.  Bring a friend along.

Let your every step be a prayer.

And then 

pray some more.

Happy New Year. 

Blessings to you and yours.

Love,

Joseph

 

The Haiku

 

a list a mile long / of new year’s resolutions
/

will slip through your hands

***

think with your heart / infuse these thoughts
with the soul /

and then begin the journey

***

one resolution / wept over in silence / brings
angels to your side

***

one resolution / shared with a single friend /

will cause both souls to change

***

one resolution / tended to like a garden / will
yield crops of light

***

one resolution / held like a seed inside / will
give birth to joy

***

one resolution / that you keep forever /
becomes a light for all

***

make a single change / and the whole landscape
changes /

into an orchard

***

the thing you need to change / awaits your
letting it go /

into God’s hands

***

putting it in God’s hands / means share it with
a friend /

that is your prayer

***

big steps, little steps / just keep on walking
/

or better yet, keep dancing

***

the road to freedom / is not a solitary road /
walk with the world

***

walk through fear’s dark woods / with a friend
at your side /

and the way opens clear

***

One last one (not a haiku) J

A Re-solution is like a re-run. Make one
heartful, mindful decision

to make one heartful, mindful decision,

and experience success.

***

Peace and Light. 

 Your kind donations help keep the Wonder Child Blog going.

Thank you. 





Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog


On the Rebirth of Innocence, A Christmas Meditation

I wrote this last year around this time and was inspired to share it again today.  May it help fill you with hope and joy.

–Joseph


On the Rebirth of Innocence

A Christmas Meditation

by

Joseph Anthony

Everyone has
things happen to them that shouldn’t happen. 
Everyone carries wounds within their very cells.  This being said, everyone also has things happen
to them that should happen.  Everyone carries healing and purity within
their cells. Both leave imprints on the soul and the cells of the body.

Learn to
slowly integrate both into your life.

What?  Integrate pain?  That’s crazy. 
Except that every human life experiences pain—emotional, mental, and
physical.  Of course, it’s good to avoid
the unnecessary manufacture of pain and to not put one’s hand on a hot
stove.  However, we cannot avoid pain completely.  So when it comes, learn, within reason, to
feel it, especially the emotional and mental varieties.  All pain is a messenger.

I was asked
recently how often I moved towards the pain—the emotional pain.  I replied that most days the pain moves
towards me.  It’s safe to do that now.  Once not too long ago the pain wasn’t welcome;
I treated it like a monster, an outcast, a pariah.  Now it knows I will give it a place to spend
the night.  I will listen to it, sit with
it, and move towards it with intent to honor and ultimately transform it
through the very act of listening and embracing it.  It can be itself while knowing, its heart of
heart is love—protection—the desire to be whole.

The same is
true for healing.  It is safe to flow
towards me and from me.  It is welcome in
my heart, body, and soul.  I am learning
to open my arms to healing, to sit with it, listen to it and transform it into
anything it needs to be.  It can be
itself, even as it manifests itself as music, poetry, nature, the touch of a
friend, the smile of a child, you.

How does one
open their heart to healing?  Can
innocence really be reclaimed, reborn, rediscovered?  Is it ever completely lost?  Does it ever completely die?  Can it ever truly be stolen? And if it can be
reborn, how does one make room inside for that to happen? 

Keep in mind
the roots of the word: innocence is
related to the word noxious, and thus
means not-noxious, not harmful, not poison, and not sick (online etymology
dictionary).  This being the case
innocence can certainly be born again in our lives, indeed, it must be.  Our very bodies are equipped with healing
cells.  The same is true for the heart
and the soul.  We are all born with the
white blood cells of spirit and joy.

To be
specific, here, in a nutshell are some suggestions for allowing innocence to be
reborn within you:

Learn to
embrace your sorrow and pain.

Learn to
stop doing things that harm yourself and others.

Learn to
forgive others and yourself.

Learn to
seek forgiveness and repair anything you have broken.

Learn, with the
help and guidance of mentors, trusted friends, and therapists, to find
direction in your life.

Learn to
breathe fully.

Learn to be
in the moment—every moment.

Learn to
love yourself—your body, your own unique ways of thinking and praying and being.

Learn to be open to and to integrate healing modalities such as EFT into your life.

Learn to
play.

Learn to
sing.

There are
other things as well.  And while I think
the ultimate journey towards innocence involves unique moments of pain and
darkness for everyone in one way or another, everyone’s path also involves
unique moments of healing and revelation.

Know that
the worse you feel (even if you feel down and out right now), the more you are able to sit with the pain, the more
your life has been reduced to spiritual poverty, where your animal instincts
are crowding around your life, there is another part of you, a union of quiet
strength and willingness; a union of intuition and openness; a union of dreams
and passion, that is seeking your heart, your very own dingy, broken heart to
give birth to innocence.  It is looking
for a “house of bread.”  And it is guided
by both the star of your dreams and the light of your wounds.  And when you have humbled yourself or life
humbles you, know that innocence will be born again inside you.  It is seeking a place, daily, hourly, ever
more, to find a safe place to be born. And when it finds the manger of your
heart, open the doors, let the night winds swirl and dance, let those same
clumsy animals gather round for the body is beautiful, let those who shepherd innocence come near, and lo, let the Wonder Child be born anew.  Let the gift of the birth of your Divine
Innocence be adored, be praised, be showered
with treasure. Let that innocence rise and celebrate who you really are—your gifts
and talents.  Share them with the world,
help others, inspire others, nourish others with the Bread of Life growing within
you, and you will truly experience the rebirth of innocence–Divine innocence,
Holy innocence.  And your life and the
lives of those around you will truly help save the world.

Happy Holidays

from Joseph Anthony

at

The Wonder Child Blog





Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog


I Am Not a Computer, by Joseph Anthony

I Am Not a Computer

By

Joseph Anthony

 

“You must
unlearn what you have been programmed to believe since birth.  That software no longer serves you if you
want to live in a world where all things are possible.”

–Jacqueline
Purcell

Someone
posted this on my timeline recently and with no disrespect intended to its author, I was immediately struck with antipathy
towards it.  As I reflected on why, my
feelings became clearer, as I have had similar thoughts and feelings in the
past about such ideas.  I think I have
them clear enough to share. At least, I’ll try.

I am not a
machine.  My mind is not a computer.  I much prefer to imagine my mind as a garden,
a vast network of soil, herbs and flowers, whose roots mingle with yours and
with the Divine’s.  A place of beauty and
mystery, wonder and creativity, a rich tapestry of land with golden harvests of
possibilities where the fruits of meditation, discipline, and prayer blossom to
be shared and enjoyed by all.

And that’s
just the beginning, the poetic beginning. 
Every time we compare our minds with a computer we distance ourselves
from ourselves and the natural world around us.  And the space that occupies this distance
devolves into fears, superstitions, and apathy.

My mind is
not a hard drive.  My beliefs are not
software.  My mind is not
programmable.  To keep such analogies in
our mind’s eye makes us look at the world more impersonally, less human, less
feeling.  We are no longer responsible for ourselves.  After all, someone “programmed” us. And since computers can’t program themselves then we wait, victims, until someone solves our bugs.

As a garden,
any unwanted crops may be removed. 
Sometimes weeds need removal. 
Cultivating an inner garden stirs more of a sense of devotion and life
than having to defragment your mind to remove limited beliefs.  Cultivate the flowers you want.  Graft the trees of your imagination’s orchard
with those of like-minded friends.  Grow entirely
new fruits.  The flavors and nutrients of shared ideas are limitless. 

Some might
argue that I am being nitpicky.  Perhaps
I am.  However, I believe we believe what
we say to ourselves all day long.  I
understand computers mean so much to us in today’s world.  I am very grateful for them.  I am not anti-technology.  It’s just that metaphors and analogies are
made up of words and images and these are both living things.  What images and words do you want living in
your head, your heart, and your body?  Are
you a robot?  An automaton?

You might
not think this matters, but look around you. 
Look at people as they walk the streets, ride the bus, sit around tables
at restaurants.  We rarely look at each
other nowadays. We rarely listen.  Our
ears hold ear buds, our gaze is turned downwards at little screens.  This is all due, in part, to identifying
ourselves with these machines.  We always
want to be one with ourselves and those around us.  We instinctively seek union.  And we do that with what we feel drawn, close to,
like.  And if we identify with our minds
as being portable programmable computers and hard drives, then, of course, we
would look away from one another and towards the objects of our imaginations.  

Lastly, these mechanistic images lead us away
from intimacy with the earth.  They
depersonalize us and separate us further from the planet.  And that’s the last thing our dear Mother
Gaia needs.  She needs us touching her,
believing in her, healing her, nurturing her, helping her breathe.

This moment and
this earth are not virtual reality.  This moment
and this earth carry the essence of all that we are.  They are alive.  They are ever pregnant, ever giving birth, ever absorbing the seeds of new
ideas and inspirations. If we think of them as mechanized or computerized, we
will not want to touch them or become intimate with them.  We will move further and further away and
wonder why we are lonely.

So the next
time someone says your mind is like a computer, imagine it instead like a
garden, or an ocean, a lake, a field, or a forest.  Let these images draw you closer to yourself,
to the earth, and to others.  You will be
surprised at the beauty, the fragrance, and the infinite possibilities of
oneness that bloom and spread from such active, living imaginations.

PS: Not
everything we learned as children needs to be unlearned.  The majority of our lessons still benefit us,
even the painful ones.  Plant new
beliefs, cultivate new desires, weed out any that you no longer want, but if
you uprooted them all, well, you’d have an empty garden. 


“Metaphors are not to be trifled with. A single metaphor can give birth to love.” 

–Milan Kundera






Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog


Happy Thanksgiving? A Few Thoughts on What Gratitude Is and What Happens When We Don’t Feel It

Happy Thanksgiving?

A Few Thoughts on What Gratitude Is

And What Happens When We Do Not Feel
It

By

Joseph Anthony

 

Gratitude is
often considered a virtue.  For years I
agreed with this sentiment.  Until, that
is, I looked deeper into the etymology of the word virtue.  Having researched it
a bit, I have come to the conclusion that gratitude is not a virtue at all.  Just what I believe it is will be described
below.  First however, let’s have a quick
look-see at what a virtue is.

According to
the indispensable Online Etymology dictionary, virtue comes from the Latin, virtutem,
which means moral strength, manliness,
valor
.  It comes from the root, vir, meaning “man” from which we get the word virile,
which means, manly or heroic.

You can probably
see from these definitions, why I think gratitude is not a virtue.  Gratitude has nothing whatsoever to do with
“manliness” (whatever that is, really), nor with valor or strength.  It’s not heroic either.  Sure we sometimes have a hard time “feeling”
grateful for one thing (event, situation, person, experience, etc.) or another,
and sometimes we try to force ourselves to feel grateful even when we don’t
feel it, but that doesn’t make it “manly.”

A lot is said
and written about gratitude.  From Oprah
to nearly every other self-help, spiritual, psychological writer or speaker,
everyone extols the benefits of feeling, practicing, and expressing gratitude.  And underneath many of these experts of
gratitude runs a thin (and sometimes wide) stream of guilt and shame for those
who don’t get it or feel it.  I think
this is partially because most people confuse gratitude, the action, with
gratitude, the feeling.

What is
gratitude if it isn’t a virtue?  And what
do we do if we don’t feel it sometimes, especially on days like today,
Thanksgiving?

Gratitude is
related to the word grace (ibid) and
means good will, elegance, to sing, to
praise, to give thanks
.  These are
actions, not feelings. When I am living my truth—my dreams and desires, or
working towards them, then I will automatically express gratitude in how I
live; how I take care of my life; how I treat myself and those around me; how I
speak, how I act, regardless of how I’m feeling.  When I am in a healthy place of self-love and
loving you then my movements towards myself and you will be graceful, elegant,
like little dances; they will be full of praise for you and me, and the sky,
the trees, the ocean; I will naturally be polite, express manners towards you
and myself—basic, human decencies will be there just as my heartbeat is there.  And this way of being can happen regardless
of circumstances or environment because it isn’t a feeling.

But what
about gratitude, the feeling?  What
happens when we take grateful actions but still don’t feel very grateful? 

We are
trained in society to think there is a problem when we’re not feeling grateful.  We feel guilty, less than, like we’re doing
something wrong by not feeling something others, or our high-perfectionistic-standards
think we should be. 

Yet to feel
grateful all the time is as unrealistic as feeling sad all the time, angry all
the time, happy, ashamed, joyful, silly, guilty, etc.  Feelings were not built to last.  They come in waves. Of course we can seek out
experiences, songs, people, art, and so on, which help us feel more of the
feelings we like and, in and of itself, there is nothing wrong with that–if
however we do not consider it a moral failing for not feeling something we
think we should be feeling.  I guess
that’s where gratitude has come to be referred to as a virtue—a manly
thing.  We are supposed to feel it and if
we don’t work hard to feel it—just like the outdated and potentially dangerous
“male” work ethic; the one that says “never stay in your comfort zone (more on
that in another post).”  But we can no
more practice feeling the emotion of gratitude than we can practice feeling sad.  We can practice taking actions of gratitude however. 
We can practice what to do (and not do) once we’re feeling a certain
emotion, but feelings cannot be made to manifest on order.  We can invite them in, but they are like
spirits, they come and go as they will.

But Joseph,
you say, it’s Thanksgiving.  We’re
supposed to feel grateful.  Are you suggesting we shouldn’t feel grateful
or express our thanks for our many blessings?

Of course
not, what I am saying is we can express our thanks by how we live and treat
ourselves and those around us on a day to day basis.  When we treat ourselves and others with
class, love, respect, kindness, manners, dignity, grace, humor, mercy,
sweetness, strength, empathy, and so on—not just with a card and a turkey
dinner, we are expressing gratitude regardless of how it feels.  Live from a place of grace.  Live from a place of self-love and of living
your dreams.  Gratitude, the action, is
about learning to gracefully give and gracefully receive blessings. And
gratitude, the feeling, will come when it will, and, in my experience it does
come, and yes, it goes too.  I have
learned not to be too excited when it arrives nor too concerned when it
leaves.  Perhaps it’s simply sharing
itself with someone else after having been touched by the hospitality of your
heart. 

To close, gratitude
is both a way of artful living and a feeling. 
Gratitude, the action, manifests when we are responsible for our own
lives and thus, when we are able to both give the gifts of ourselves and receive
the gifts of, and from, others.  It
manifests because we create it with our actions.  Gratitude, the feeling, is wonderful, and yet,
will come and go like all other feelings. 
The trick is not to panic when it isn’t being felt as warm and fuzzily
(is that a word?) as we’d like and to keep taking grateful actions even if the feeling isn’t there.

This
Thanksgiving, let there be no shame in feeling or not feeling any human
emotions. Let us simply be who we are: human beings trying to live as best we
can.  Let us give and receive the
blessings of who we are and let the grace of the One flow through us all.






Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog