Grateful Heart

This is a big thank you note to my readers! I discovered with delight this week that thus far I’ve reached people in 71 countries with my blogs. That’s astounding to me, and many thanks to everyone who has visited from:

Albania, Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, China, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Ecuador, Estonia, European Union, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guyana, Hong Kong SAR China, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Libya, Lithuania, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Morocco, Myanmar (Burma), Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Vietnam, Zimbabwe

Also a big hug to my American friends who celebrated Thanksgiving on Thursday. I send a prayer for your country to be unified and healed soon. And with the worldwide COVID-19 scenario and all of its consequences, this has been a rough year for everyone. I really miss traveling, but, I’m very grateful for the Internet that connects us. This is my additional gratitude message for you all:

Around the world, let us embrace our humanness and appreciate our unique cultures. Let’s reach out with respect to connect with others who share our humanity. And with deep gratitude, may we all cherish the Earth that sustains and cradles us.

Gratitude is an opening of the heart; it connects us to the Light. Be of the Light, and do every thing you can, from the smallest gesture to the grandest, to spread your light. Our world sorely needs every candle in the window right now, as we find our way towards the better humanity that we can be. I know we can get there together!

“Be mindful. Be grateful. Be positive. Be true. Be kind.” ~  Roy T. Bennett

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“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” ~ G.K. Chesterton

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“Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good.” ~ Maya Angelou

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Thank You, Etc. © Susan L Hart 2020

Photos courtesy Pixabay, sasint, artsysolomon, 6335159, Daniel_Nebreda

Friendly comments welcome. I post them as quickly as possible. Thank you for reading!

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Checkmate

Hierarchy empire,
kings and queens
in days of yore
ruled the peasants
with iron fist,
wrung the gold
from slaves’ sweat,
their inherent
birthrights stolen
away…

“That was in
ancient times,”
I hear your retort,
but no, wake up!
See the deceit,
game is in play,
want-to-be kings
shroud their decrees,
money buys power,
little pawns weep.

Checkmate © Susan L Hart 2020

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One Wave

Jim Welch loves waves! This free spirit traveler chases his muse around the world, to ride the surf and capture the ocean’s hidden beauty on camera.

Jim’s luminous photographs sparkle with color and energy. Rainbows, fantasy landscapes, and cosmic swirls all unfold in a gorgeous microcosm of nature and the very essence of life. The photos reveal the intimate world of an artist who is deeply connected to the heartbeat of the ocean.

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Jim grew up surfing the waves of the Hawaiian Islands, so he knows well the nuances and moods of the ocean. It is customary for a surfer to tune into the rhythm of the wave sets before diving in. As Jim puts it, “Each wave has its own name tag”. Surfers pleasure in the feeling of being at one with the water, and in the big waves their very life can depend on achieving this synergy.

In 1989, the search for new surf experiences and a desire for freedom led Jim away from Hawaii and on the road. He hung out in a California beach house for a while and found some fun and liberation. Right about that time, he bought a camera and shot his first roll of film with the guidance of a professional photographer. Jim was immediately hooked, and traveling soon became about capturing the world and his experiences in photographs.

Jim explored around Asia and he witnessed the rawness of poverty in the third world and the very real disparity between the rich and the poor. He also made the fleeting acquaintance of people in Costa Rica and Indonesia who owned next to nothing, yet they generously invited him into their homes to share what little they had to offer. It was in these experiences that he found the golden secret of where happiness may be found, at least in part. He has been amazed at the kindnesses extended to him by complete strangers. There was also a realization of the value of simplicity, and “the commonality we all share. In the end we are all humans having experiences and just trying to have a good life.”

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Why does Jim think that everyone should travel?

“The new sensory experiences give you a reborn appreciation for everything, and most of all for life. You feel alive! You discover the magic and richness of living in the moment. There is the fascination of discovering new things and you expand.”

There came a point in the ongoing saga of Jim’s travels when he felt the call to go to Africa. This trip was not about chasing the surf, but rather it was an irresistible attraction to the exotic. Through a synchronistic set of circumstances, he was invited to visit the village of the Pondo tribe, who as it happened was hosting a meeting of chiefs to determine solutions to some ecological problems.

During the meeting there were about seventy people crammed into one hut, and they were all working together towards a common good. There was a strong feeling of community in that African village and a sense that “if we are going to succeed, we are going to do it together.” When the business at hand had been accomplished, everyone gathered to celebrate. Music began and the children started to dance. Jim was struck by their innate rhythm, some of them very young, as they danced to the hypnotic chanting of male and female voices. The throbbing beat of the drums intensified, and as the adults joined the dance it gradually escalated into a frenzied, rhythmic merging of energies. In the midst of it all, Jim felt the deep connection of the people to one another and to the spirit world. He experienced “One”.

Profound experiences have a way of changing a person’s direction, and Jim’s enthusiasm for photographing surfers and landscapes dried up. But as the saying goes, when one door closes another opens. Jim was shown the way by his old friend the ocean. One day at the beach while idly observing two wave sets crashing together, inspiration hit Jim like lightning. His passion turned to wave photography.

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Jim’s new fascination with the intimate world of waves quickly took hold and he fully embraced the challenge of taking wave photographs. Jim works with an underwater camera inside potentially dangerous waves up to twelve feet high. Immediacy and a crucial sense of timing are definitely involved. He reveals, “I am in rhythm with the ocean’s pulse. I sit and watch the waves first and I mesh with the rhythm of the natural elements of the ocean.”

At the heart of the photography lies a deep desire on Jim’s part to awaken those around him. He is aware of a general lack of connection to nature, although he does believe that many people crave to find it again. He says, “I have always felt a deep sorrow for the decline and decimation of the natural world. I hold an appreciation for nature close to my heart. I try to capture it through the lens in such a way that people will take another look and really appreciate the beauty.”

In every photograph you see his love of nature, his connection with the ocean, and that feeling of “One.” Each wave is splendidly unique, but also part of a beautiful whole. And as Jim says, “Waves are unpredictable, and that is what I love most about life!”

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Wave photographs © Jim Welch. All rights reserved. Photos by permission.

“One Wave” © Susan L Hart 2002. All rights reserved.
“One Wave” was first published by EscapeArtist.com in their September 2002 issue of Escape from America magazine.
A version of this story published August 2016 in Friends in Foreign Places: An Expat Anthology.

Words that Empower Us

Our words and stories are powerful. We must be very careful with them, because they create a positive or negative reality when we utter them.

Focusing on negative narrative keeps everyone’s minds confirming and expanding that reality. Have you noticed? Words used in the current COVID narrative too often leave us feeling weak, reliant, and disempowered. But, we’re not. This is just the story that has been thrust upon us, in this moment. We did not create it, but we are responsible if we choose to perpetuate it. We have the power to overcome this negativity with selective word and thought replacement.

Let’s Program Ourselves for the Positive

Start to create a positive narrative now, by actively using expansive and encouraging language. These words aren’t new; we all have them in our vocabularies. We’ve just been using them much less lately. How is this for a short list, just as a start?

Wellness
Love
Joy
Life
Birth
Creation
Beginnings
Beauty
Adventure
Playing
Cooperation
Abundance
Preparedness
Self-reliance
Independence
Celebration

When we use positive words, we raise our vibration and increase our power, as well as that of people around us. Positivity in our minds and hearts does affect the resiliency of our bodies. It keeps us in a healthier state holistically. We are then in a place of taking responsibility for our overall health, and, envisioning and creating a better future.

Taking responsibility for our words sounds simple, but it is not necessarily easy; it takes some practice and discipline, particularly when others around us try to engage us in the negative narrative. However, this is a fundamental way to exercise our own personal power to create positive change. We’ve got this!

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Photos courtesy Brigitte Tohm and Cedric Lim Ah Tock, Pexels

Words that Empower Us © Susan L Hart 2020

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