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Fertile Gratitude: It’s a Word, It’s a Deed, It’s an Attitude

By on January 14, 2011

GroundZero9/11/2010
An Invitation to an Evening of Gratitude in Action

In spite of the title, this blog is really a further unfolding of the courage to receive theme, since gratitude–genuine, full-bodied gratitude–can only be born through having fully received the gifts placed before us.

Leslie Young is the owner and president of Cliff Young Ltd, an interior design showroom in the New York Design Center. She is also one of my former clients–a woman who taught me more about the power of commitment and the power of gratitude– than I could’ve learned from a thousand self-help books. Now, Leslie is challenging my own courage to receive.

This post intends to be among other things an invitation to Meeeting a Miracle Halfway, a Workshop/Fundraiser for the Turn It Around Project. sponsored by Cliff Young Ltd, on February 1st, in New York City. The sponsorship is an expression of Leslie’s appreciation for the work we’ve done together that contributed to the birth of Isabella Grace, Leslie’s beautiful little girl.

Before I invite you to the workshop, I’d like to share some thoughts on gratitude as medicine and agent of healing.

As some of you know, part of my 9/11 Bowing Project is a commitment to bow in public place on the 11th of each month, which I have honored since September of 2007. The recent Arizona murders made my bowing particularly healing this past Tuesday. Still, the faces of the six people who died continue to haunt me. As sages of wisdom traditions remind us, when it comes to societal trends: Some are guilty but all are responsible.

So the question as always remains: What do I do in response to my grief and this idea of collective responsibility?

And in my ongoing Fertile Heart Ovum Birthing Practice I wake up to the same question each day: What do I do in response to any feeling that rises up in me?

For me, the overwhelming feeling weaved into pretty much every second of my day, is gratitude. Perhaps because I was born into a devastation of a post-world-war-II-environment,the idea that being alive is in itself an astounding gift, is a constant for me.

But unless I act on this feeling of gratitude, I can cry a river of thank-you-tears and it’s not going to make a hell of a lot of difference to anyone, is it?

As I see it, gratitude is an ingredient that can powerfully alter the Holy Human Loaf And yes, even alter it in the direction of conception. I’ve seen it happen.

The problem is you can’t require people to be grateful.

You can’t teach gratitude. True gratitude can only be conceived by a heart that’s opened. You can’t make gratitude a requirement in the classroom of life or any other school. You can only, if you’re a teacher worth your salt, create a structure that will gently move the student toward feelings of generosity. And life is a tireless master teacher. Over and over it attempts to soften the stubborn spine of our pride in order to open our eyes to the bounty before us.

But gratitude is not enough. What good are the 10,000 affirmations of our appreciation without a follow up action?

One of my CEO’s (Chief Executive Orphans) is the child that says: You’re on your own kid, so you better fend for yourself! As we prepare for the February 1st, event, and I see Leslie and her brilliant assistant Iliada work hard at pulling things together, my CEO is getting really uncomfortable.

The good news is, she doesn’t run my life anymore. As I do my Fertile Heart Guided Iimagery practice, and Body Truth, giving her more breathing room, I am able to see and receive the astonishingly generous acts of support from the many women and men I’ve been privileged to meet.

Leslie Young is one of those gorgeous mamas and I”m blessed to have been part of her journey. And there are many, many others.

Funny isn’t it? The scariest part is not that we won’t get what we want; the scariest part for the Orphan is that she gets exactly what she’s been starving for.

That’s why we have to keep practicing giving and receiving. To strengthen our Visionary receiver muscles for all the unfathomable gifts of the human experience. To fully receive them, and be so filled with appreciation that we HAVE NO CHOICE but acting on such feelings.

So, fear and all, I’m also getting pretty excited about this next step. Take a look at the wonderful flyer for this event created by Leslie and Iliada, come to the Fundraiser, and bring your friends. Don’t worry about the “funds” part, just come if you can. More than anything the evening is meant to move the project forward a few more inches. The Turn It Around Project feels more and more important and right to me. And I do need help with it. Thank you!!! for all the support I’ve already received from many of you. You can RSVP to me or to Iliada.

Perhaps this could also be a follow up on the beautiful gratitude thread started by Suzanne L. on the message board. What do we feel grateful for and how to we act our appreciation?

14 Responses to “Fertile Gratitude: It’s a Word, It’s a Deed, It’s an Attitude”

  1. MM says:

    Just to clarify part of my previous post, when i wrote that it can benefit us to celebrate what others receive “whether we agree with how they got it or not” I didn’t mean to imply that we should be happy, or in any way condone, any dishonest or unethical activity. I want to be clear about that! I just meant that we don’t always have to agree with each other to be happy for the elements in each other’s lives that are going well.

  2. MM says:

    I’ve been thinking a lot about gratitude, and what comes to my mind is that the most powerful and delicious form of gratitude for me is when I am able to be grateful and joyful for others- for what THEY are experiencing and for what THEY have. Maybe because it shows the possibilities of what’s possible; maybe because it supports my belief that we’re all interconnected. It seems true that when we stay envious or resentful of what others have, we choke ourselves off from receiving, and when we celebrate what others are receiving, whether we agree with how they got it or not, we open ourselves up to receiving something similar. And when we are truly happy for others, we don’t notice what we’re “missing” anyway, because our joy for others becomes fulfilling. I am not sure I really understand where the line is drawn between gratitude and joy. I would like to be a bigger and better giver, a healthier giver, in a way that doesn’t deplete me. And I am trying to create changes in my life so that becomes possible. I am now going to begin asking myself, “How can I turn giving and receiving into a practice?”. And, “am I willing to?” I think there’s a lot of insight to begained from asking myself that.When I think of what I feel most grateful for, aside from people in my life, I think of nature. I love the forests, mountains, beaches, waterfalls, and all the beauty of it. It excites me!I feel cleansed and recharged, and I just realized, “nurtured”, nurtured by mommy nature herself. (Thanks, Julia, I had never thought of it that way…I’ve been wanting to feel nurtured)

  3. Suzanne G says:

    Hello Julia and Everyone,

    Thank you for your blog Julia and for your continuing dedication and commitment to Fertile Heart and for bravely putting yourself out there wholeheartedly in everything you do.

    A major aha moment for me was when I understood in my heart that a baby wasn’t going to make all my orphans disappear; it wasn’t going to make my life perfect and it wasn’t going to be the balm to soothe my wounds. I had known this rationally of course but it wasn’t something I could convince my heart of. Through my Fertile Heart practice my heart opened and softened and I started to allow myself to grieve not for my baby waiting to be born but for myself, for the person I wasn’t allowed to be. It feels incredible to be giving birth to myself! I can’t get enough of the Soul on Fire Body Truth. It makes me feel so alive and juicy.

    Like many of you have shared, I feel incredibly grateful to have found Fertile Heart. I remember when I first logged on and saw posts from people who had been trying to conceive for five plus years and I thought to myself ‘that could never be us’ -I wouldn’t be able to go through that. But here I am, five years later and feeling enormously lucky that I found Julia through amazon. And yes my impatient orphan pops up from time to time – just one of many orphans! – but nothing can take me away from this life-affirming path. However our baby is conceived.

    I act on my appreciation by doing what I can to spread some Fertile Heart love and by hosting Open Circles in London. I so believe in this work and want to share it with others.

    Thank you thank you Julia!

    Suzanne

  4. Fiona says:

    I am particularly struck by the last line of your blog Julia,
    What do we feel grateful for and how do we act our appreciation?
    Suzanne’s thread has been helpful for me to take a moment and reflect on the things that I am grateful for in my life. But how do I show appreciation? Well…I’m not sure I have any answers yet about that but it has got me thinking…
    I also appreciate what Maryann posted in her comment,
    “Julia says ‘open our eyes to the bounty before us’. Life doesn’t start after the baby comes, it’s happening now!”
    I think sometimes I get in the habit of thinking how things would be different or better if there was a baby in the picture right now. I don’t always recognize the gift in front of me at this moment.
    Thank you. Like Anna, I bow to you to all of you.

  5. Robyn says:

    Hi,

    Several of the comments here really hit home for me. Annafrom Wales wrote: “there have been times when offered a gift of my choosing I could not choose and in the end got nothing or something I didn’t actually want.” Gosh that is me in a nutshell.

    And Anna and P both wrote about not wanting to “use up” the help offered to us, and working from a mindset of scarcity — yes, I’ve been there for sure and it’s still very difficult for me to ask for help.

    P also wrote about receiving just “for the pleasure of it.” It’s a wonderful way to put it and it made me realize that I’ve never even thought of things that way before now.

    I’m very grateful for these posts, and also the comments, because I always seem to find that someone else has felt the same way I feel. Things might still be difficult, but I feel less alone. Thank you. My follow up action is to make this post to let you know I’m grateful you all took the time to write them.

    I’m also especially grateful to hubby right now as I’ve been floored for most of this week with a terrible head cold, and he’s been basically waiting on me hand and foot.

    Julia, all the best for the Turn It Around workshop — I’d also love to see something about it in a youtube video, podcast, something.

    Robyn

    • Hi, Robyn, it’s lovely to see your comments here. Thank you for the good wishes, I have quite a bit of footage from Ground Zero that I need to edit. We won’t be filming Tuesday but I’ll keep you all posted. Thank you again for coming to San Francisco, such a treat to meet you and D. in person.
      Julia

  6. Amanda says:

    I’m thankful for this post. It gave me a bit of chils to read: “The scariest part is not that we won’t get what we want; the scariest part for the Orphan is that she gets exactly what she’s been starving for.”
    I have been trying to look to my visionary for guidance of how to trust in the universe and beleive that the good parts of me can get what they want.
    Thank you Julia for all that you do to help so many women learn to trust their beautiful selves.

  7. Maryann says:

    Thank you thank you. I really needed this. Had sunk in the slumps, feeling sorry for myself. I have so much to be grateful for, but it’s so hard to see through the fog sometimes.
    Julia says ‘open our eyes to the bounty before us’. Life doesn’t start after the baby comes, it’s happening now! What am I waiting for?!
    Practice giving and receiving.
    Thank you Julia for Fertile Heart, thank you for helping me turn my spirit around.
    Maryann

  8. Robin says:

    Julia,

    I am so grateful for the OVUM work and that you care so much about others. I am grateful for everyone here and the opportunity to share in this journey.

    Congratulations so much, Lisa!

    When the rescheduled Turn it Around Teleconference occurs, I plan to sign up.

    Thank you so much.

  9. AnnafromWales says:

    Lisa – congratulations! How exciting and thank you for posting, its wonderful to hear success stories, they are beacons on a road of hope that can sometimes feel unclear at times.

    Receiving is definitely something where I have an orphan… there have been times when offered a gift of my choosing I could not choose and in the end got nothing or something I didn’t actually want. I have found it very hard to ask for help, like P, treating it as a rare commodity that I don’t want to use up. Also for me there is an element of not wanting to be ridiculed for daring to think I know what I need.

    Gratitude is such a wonderful thing, so powerful, but I realize I have hardly begun with it in terms of acting on my appreciation, thanks for the spotlight on that Julia!

    When I managed a small team of people at work I was really struck by the fact that rarely does feedback reflect the true picture of someone. So if there is problem that is only say 5% of what someone does why is there a tendency in our western culture to focus 90% of the discussion on it? Perhaps this is just a British thing, but my response to this was to be much more conscious of giving balanced feedback and showing my appreciation for the things that are often taken for granted.

    Happily this practice has spilled into all areas of my life (although it sometimes goes on holiday unfortunately). I balance expressing gratitude, so to speak, with also speaking out when I feel I have got things wrong. Somehow for me its par of the same picture, speaking the truth.

    Hmmmmm so acting on my appreciation… its got me thinking. There’s some bits and bobs there but there is fertile ground to explore there. Words are clearly not enough.

    So I have just bowed to my computer in thanks to you all, to Julia and this whole community, to echo what Gal and Lisa say, I have no idea where I would be without this practice, it has completely enriched my life, my view and understanding of myself.

    Good luck with the event, I’d love to be there but will found a British/Welsh way to engage instead.

    A

  10. Lisa says:

    If this question was asked of me a week ago, I would have an entirely different answer for you. As I type this today, I am grateful for the fact that I am now pregnant. I believe that every single moment on this journey was worth it. The tears and the excitement, equally worth it.
    The way I have shown my gratitude in this capacity, however recent, is to help heal the women around me who are struggling with their own “fertility”. I promised myself a long time ago that when my time came that I would not immediately forget what it felt like to lose hope.
    I am meeting with a woman who lives in my community and introducing her to the fertile heart program. It, and all the work I did through it, saved me. In every respect.
    Thank you thank you thank you, you beautiful community of sisters.
    L

  11. P. says:

    Julia,

    Even if I will not be able to be physically in NYC, I’d love to follow the event and learn from it. I look forward to reading a summary (maybe a youtube video?) and the experience of the participants.
    As for the difficulties in receiving, I often think and act from a world of scarcity, where support is rare and is better not to use it up, to keep it for the difficult moments ahead. I will start thinking of a world of plenty, where support is available and there are not only difficult moments ahead, and where is actually nice to receive for the pleasure of it.

    P.

  12. Gal says:

    Hi Julia and all,

    This is so timely for me as well. As a member of the Tucson Community the tragic shootings have been a topic of much discussion, emotion and outrage. This morning I visited the growing memorial of candles, notes, teddy bears, flowers and assortment of items left on the lawn of UMC hospital where the survivors of the incident are being cared for. While i have spoken to many feeling such sadness and anger which I do share I have also noticed I am feeling so much affirmation for life. Specifically I am noticing the gratitude I have for my life which I greatly lost touch with for a time this year and may not have had the strongest of hold on for much of my life. I am also realizing that the way I reinforce and validate these feelings is to do something tangible to reflect them. I am very thankful for the OVUM work Julia because I don’t know I would have ever been exactly moving in the direction I am with out it!

    Galina

  13. Suzanne Lang says:

    Julia-

    This is so timely for me as even before our private, i have been thinking all week about how hard it is for me to receive but also how much i crave it. It’s like i’m attention starved but once i get it, I move on or can’t take it in or bounce it. I’m going to committ to just noticing it more lately and giving this orphan/orphans a hug. I can’t wait for this event. This is great! I’m not going to offer to help right now as it’s my compulsion and I feel like i’m a little busy right now but hope you will post a list and if i can join in (things you need help with if you even need help) if it works for me.

    Much love-Suzanne



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