Native American culture & teachings through a modern lens

Tag: Gratitude Practice

Adventures in Grownup Vlog-land

 

From reflecting on my time with women as a kind of worship to sharing my favorite random acts of kindness, I have been soaking up tremendous amounts of positive vibrations from friends and followers of Grownup Navajo. Each of these moments have had a lasting effect on me and I have been having fun creating vlogs (video blogs) and uploading them to YouTube as a way to share them.

 

 

In the past month, I have held space with creative women and even created a fun hair tutorial for a new series I am doing on Instagram and Facebook – Tsiiyéeł Tuesdays. I hope to inspire followers to share their pictures of themselves wearing their hair in the traditional style of our people. As I explain in the video, the tsiiyeeł is the way Navajos are meant to care for our hair, it is how we respect the power of the thoughts found in these precious strands of our lives.

 

 

In this post, I want to share these videos with you and encourage you to subscribe to the Grownup Navajo YouTube channel, if you haven’t already.

 

Grateful Memories and Other Expressions

Expressions of gratitude have long been part of my life. This morning I went to breakfast with my dad. He is always wonderful company as we have conversations about current events to catching up on life’s happenings. This morning as we were talking I began to reminisce about a memory I had with my late Nalí asdzaan (paternal grandmother).

Over my dresser hangs a special letter I sent her when I was in college.  In it I shared how appreciative I was for having her in my life. I was so moved at having just experienced my sister’s Kinaaldá that the need to send a letter to tell her how I saw her role in my life was necessary. I keep this letter visible as it was the beginning of cultivating gratitude in my life.

 I get to see this letter every morning when I wake up. I am reminded of my connection to her but it also is a reminder to think about what I am grateful for before I even greet the world. The ability to express gratitude is a critical part of building resiliency. When we see we are connected beings we are able to see that not only are we not alone but there is so much we can learn from one another. I made this vlog to share this story and in it I read from the letter I mention. I hope you take time to watch but more importantly, I hope you decide to create your own message of gratitude to someone you love. This is type of change we need in the world – one that values responsibility to each other.

Visit our new VIDEOS page here to see all of the videos so far. Of course, don’t forget to follow our YouTube channel as everything gets posted there first.

 

Gratitude as Translator and Other Thoughts in Pueblolands

There are moments when the gratitude for the life I lead feels heavy. Not in a way that is negative, but in a way that I am so grounded by the power of these gifts I am able to experience, that my heart transcends levity and exists on a plane that is beyond words. This week while traveling for work, in one of my favorite places, “Puebloland” in New Mexico, I experienced this state.

My heart on numerous occasions, felt as though it was folding into itself. This sensation is incredible to experience and one which I often can only react to with tears. While traveling for work, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to facilitate a workshop with a Puebloan artist in Albuquerque.  I enjoy cultural sharing and exchange so there were many points in which I was simply thankful for the experience. However, on one particular day the energy in the room was so powerful and strong as participants spoke to each other in Keres. During this exchange, which had nothing to do with me, I found my heart was not at all lost in trying to understand what was occurring. Instead, it was as if my heart knew what was being said and was grateful – grateful to be in a world that holds such goodness.

I think we forget how powerful a tool gratitude can be. I believe it to be one of the best translators. When we tap into the feeling of appreciating a moment, we surrender to the beauty and gifts and are able to drink it in, wholeheartedly. Gratitude allows us to move through a moment without getting caught in trying to dissect its meaning. In other words, we travel to a place where we can suspend reality and simply be everything we are in connection to the world and people around us. This then becomes a propellant to action. We can then move forward continuing to strive to be better. In this latest vlog, I share more on this topic and challenge each of us to think about ways gratitude is not a passive feeling but a motivator to create more positive change in our lives.

 

In Reciprocity…

As if running in the brilliance of spring in the desert wasn’t enough to be grateful for, I returned home to find a special surprise tonight. A follower of the Grownup Navajo’s Instagram account sent me a very powerful and heartfelt message. Completely speechless and teary-eyed I read her words:

“Sister, I have to share how much your words have meant to me. I have been searching for my own light and growth but keep struggling but after watching and reading all that you have shared I cried! Not for sadness but for happiness knowing there are strong, beautiful and empowered women out there…”

These words from a beautiful kindred spirit left me incredibly overwhelmed with gratitude and joy. I decided to make a Vlog especially for this individual – Ms. Lady. Who will forever be a reminder to me to share my soulspeak with the world.

Yes, ayoígo shił Hozhó. I am overjoyed, humbled and honored to walk this path with you. We are meant for this Earth shík’é (my family), let us never forget this.

Keep shining love!

Hai Reflections in Spring

FullSizeRender (2)

The agaves and ocotillo have been blooming here in the desert. I love seasons changing! I have written that before here on Grownup Navajo. But its magic never fails in amazing me. I am completely taken away as I run, hike and simply be in the desert.

At the heart of the transition of seasons is a movement from an ending of one period to the start of another. While these shifts are gradual they can be in retrospect monumental. The past six months have been one of the most intense periods of my life. It has taught me so many lessons and truly dared me to rise like a mountain in the desert.

As a celebration of my favorite season, winter or Hai in Navajo, I challenged myself to not only continue my gratitude practice but incorporate a visual element. The daughter of a photographer, I love taking photos. I love capturing a moment. Through my Instagram account, and in this last season of my life, I made a conscious effort to share a photo each day of a moment that made me incredibly happy and grateful.

FullSizeRender (4).jpg

Using the hashtag #HappyHaiJac, I shared a photo each day. The result is a collection of 88 photos of my winter moments. I am one photo short. It’s the day I lost my best friend Jet, my fur baby – dog. I looked but could not find anything in that day that brought me joy. One of my best friends pointed out to me that Jet remained in my life through my hard moments on purpose and now that I was stronger, she thought he realized he could leave me. Though my heart still hurts for his steady companionship, I think she was right.

I often hear from people how they hate winter. I try to understand this but it always misses me. I am at home, in my element, in the winter. In my culture, winter is focused on healing. It’s when we rebuild ourselves through our ceremonies. When I look at this past fall and winter, this truly was the focus. I learned to risk, say goodbye and hello, I reconnected with my soul’s needs, and I began to see all of my power and fell unapologetically in love with it.

FullSizeRender (5)On the Winter Solstice, I climbed Piestewa Peak, here in the desert, my favorite mountain to hike. My spirit was heavy but I was hopeful as I watched the sunrise that morning. What has happened since then has been full of so much power, I don’t have words to describe it all. All I have is gratitude.

There is a saying I often repeat, when I find myself speechless at the universe’s outpouring of love for me – “Ahé’hee…more please”. It’s my small, mindful prayer to the Holy People. My way of accepting my life as it is in this moment. I find so much, especially in the time of the seasons change, in this month with so much earthen energy to be grateful for. From the vibrant yellow of the Palo Verde trees, to the fire in the Ocotillo blooms, life is everywhere and the desert’s beauty leaves me with a full heart and today, now, all I have to say is…

Ahé’hee…more please.

 

Friendsgiving

Giving thanks has long been a part of my life. As Navajo people we are taught to rise early in the morning and giving an offering as a way to thank the Holy People for the day ahead of us. What I love about this practice is as a people we continuously live in the present but also look forward – we look ahead for the goodness and the beauty. Our efforts in prayer in the morning are meant to prepare us for the journey.

My gratitude practice has continued to formalize as an effect of my grownupness. After college, I was new to the “real world” and would often get distracted by the daily minutia. As a way to quell any negativity I created a daily alarm on my phone with a note to find one thing every day I was grateful for. Four notebooks and counting later, I have a written record of the many things in my life from the best scoop of ice cream, an insightful phone call with my mom or a dream of my late grandparents. Each entry varied some profound, many were silly and all heartwarming.

Through this journey, I have continued to add new aspects to my practice. For me being grateful is a constant state. Last year I started a new tradition of reframing and reclaiming Thanksgiving by celebrating Friendsgiving a time to celebrate the wonderful friends who make my life rich and me a better person.

I’ve mentioned on this blog before the importance of recognizing how interconnected we are to one another. For me this practice of communicating is expressed in saying Ahé’hee’. Whether it is in Navajo or English or Spanish there is power in sharing a moment where no ego only selflessness exists. I think when we say thank you it is our opportunity to just “be human”.

Nearly a year ago I launched my card company the Naaltsoos Project, the motto “putting Navajo to paper”. It merges both my love of letter writing but also is meant to share the importance of communicating with whatever words we know of our Native languages. My favorite card and really the reason for the others is my Ahé’hee’ or thank you cards. I wanted a personal card which would say and carry the love and power of the word.

I read an article years ago about a corporate woman who noted the value of saying thank you before you get to where you are going. It reminded me instantly of me late Nalí who never waited to say thank you. She would always get little gifts for the people who helped her at work or relatives. She was the most selfless person and I know. If I can be even part of the person she was I’d be particularly grateful. I continue to thank her for the example she set and recognize every time I utter or write Ahé’hee’ I am more like her and that is what I am thankful for today.