Imagine the world without anger, without greed. We have the power, the tools, the skills and the resources right now to build a peaceful world, where people live in harmony with the Earth and each other. This blog explores ways we are doing just that, one post, one change, one day at a time. Join me. Tell your stories. Ask for help. Spread your ideas for making the vision real and, well, ordinary.

Friday, January 22, 2010


Grattan School Mural, 1/17/2010
Image: © L. Kathryn Grace
I wrote this on January 14, but before I could post it, a strong gust of life intervened, as you will see below, and I received  so much more than I could have expected.

Rebecca of Gratitude Practices has chosen a new focus word for 2010. It is embrace. But it is her 2009 word that arrests me: Receive.

For generations, the women in my family, especially, and to a lesser extent the men, have been adjured as children through adulthood to give up whatever we might have so another might benefit more. Always take the smallest cookie, the smallest piece of meat on the plate. If another child wanted the toy we were using, give it up without a whimper. The constant reminder: "Tis better to give than to receive."

As the oldest child, I was expected to give up most and most often. Truth be told, I did. I wanted to please my parents, first of all, and I hated the beatings. Nothing unusual for the times, they were harsh nevertheless.

Give way. Don't cling to possessions, feelings or to strong views for that matter. Strong opinions are unladylike and cause others discomfort. My father, who seemed to think of me as a "wild child," frequently told me it was his duty to break my spirit, in hope, apparently, that I might one day become a better person.

If you are a regular reader, you've probably noticed by now that I never gave up strong opinions, and my spirit remains unbroken, though it has bent and rebounded aplenty. I did try very hard to be a giving, unselfish child, and later adult. I still give way. A lot. It takes tremendous will and energy to take a stand and stick to it. Who am I, after all, to assert my will in the face of another?
So when I saw Rebecca's 2009 word of the year, receive, I had a visible, palpable, physical reaction. I lurched a bit in my seat. My mouth popped open. My heart beat faster. Of course, I heard my mother's mantra : Don't be selfish.

Then I smiled. For the year 2010, I open myself to receive.

Just typing the words, my chest expands. I take a deep breath. Wow. I open myself to receive right livelihood that includes working with progressive, socially responsible, competent, friendly, emotionally healthy, smart  people who love to laugh, but never at the expense of another. I open to receive a greener, more sustainable home with a washer and dryer in the apartment, not three floors down, or (dreaming really big), I open to receive a fully sustainable home, with a yard big enough for a clothesline and no need for a dryer, and the beginnings of the Village of Ordinary all around us. I open to receive time and energy with my family and to continue my work with Ordinary. I open to receive a strong, supportive community for my work developing Ordinary and making peace. I may be so bold as to say I open to receive lasting peace on Earth, and an end to human-on-human, human-on-animal, and human-on-planet violence.

Who knows what else awaits that my mind has yet to conceive?

Thank you, Rebecca, for opening my eyes to the possibilities.

Update: I had not yet posted this draft when I found myself in the emergency room experiencing chest pain and weakness. Within twenty-four hours a cardiologist sat on my bed, told me I was sick and, according to the numerous EKGs taken over several hours, had blocked arteries. He ordered an angiogram and cautioned that he expected they would do an angioplasty and possibly insert stents to keep my arteries open. He suggested the possibility of bypass surgery.

An hour later, another doctor snaked a tube from my groin to my heart and was baffled, happily so, to discover my arteries were clean and my heart healthy. YAHOO! I remember, in my sedated state, when I could not rouse enough to speak, attempting clumsily to form a circle okay with my thumb and fingers as the doc leaned down to give me the news. I hope I didn't inadvertently flash a much less happy sign before I passed once more into drugged oblivion.

Later, the cardiologist returned to my room and I received the grand good news that I have the arteries of a woman half my age, and a strong, healthy heart, all four chambers, despite the (organic) butter and (organic, "cage-free") eggs I so lavishly enjoy. So, tests and more tests. Before I left the hospital, the technicians used every possible vein in both arms, and I received ever more good news. My thyroid is healthy; my cholesterol is in the good range all round; my vital signs are strong and healthy. We're still waiting results on one more test, and if it comes back negative, then the docs will explore a host of other possibilities for the events they recorded and witnessed those two days.

One week later, having received tender and thorough care from an army of doctors, nurses, technicians, and orderlies, followed by a couple of days rest at home with my sweetheart, I am buoyant with all the good in my life.

What's more, my family is strong and delightfully nurturing. In just a few days I have received so much. I give gratitude for good health, good fortune, excellent professionals and caregivers, thousands of warm smiles and gentle touches, fresh air, gentle rain, and the sweetest helpmeet who ever walked the face of the earth.

Now that's putting the spirit of the word receive to good use already, wouldn't you say? May each of you reading this, wherever you are, whenever you happen across this page, be so blessed.

We make peace in a million small ways every day.
All text and images, unless otherwise noted, copyright L. Kathryn Grace. All rights reserved.


vegaia said...

Aren’t humans amazing? They kill wildlife - birds, deer, all kinds of cats, coyotes, beavers, groundhogs, mice and foxes by the million in order to protect their domestic animals and their feed.

Then they kill domestic animals by the billion and eat them. This in turn kills people by the million, because eating all those animals leads to degenerative - and fatal - - health conditions like heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and cancer.

So then humans spend billions of dollars torturing and killing millions of more animals to look for cures for these diseases.

Elsewhere, millions of other human beings are being killed by hunger and malnutrition because food they could eat is being used to fatten domestic animals.

Meanwhile, few people recognize the absurdity of humans, who kill so easily and violently, and once a year send out cards praying for "Peace on Earth."

~Revised Preface to Old MacDonald’s Factory Farm by C. David Coates~

Check out this informative and inspiring video on why people choose vegan:

Also see Gary Yourofsky:

Wanda said...

Kathryn--I am so glad you are okay! I laughed outloud when I read about your hand signals to the doctors. And I love it that your arteries are so clean and clear and your heart so healthy--even with butter and eggs! I use them liberally, too. It is not those foods that are the problem I believe, but the way foods are processed and turned into non-foods. The non-organic, etc. Same with eating red meat. It it not red meat that is the problem, but the way it is processed and turned into...something other than food.

I hope you receive something good every day.

Sharon L. Grace said...

I will join you in opening myself to receive, because I too, was well trained to give, give, give. Receiving is still somewhat difficult. Must be a generation thing, as many women in our age range are imbalanced in this way.

I love your description of your medical crisis, how the ease of your telling reveals the happy ending before I even get there. You are a lucky woman indeed, and you deserve it!

Paul said...

Kathryn, I'm happy to hear your crisis is ending well. I'm looking forward to reading more about the good things that you receive during the year -- as well as the good things you give us in your posts.

Pamela said...

Oh my. I had no idea you went through this. What did they end up saying about the chest pain and weakness? And how are you addressing it? Of course, you are receiving more, but what, where and how specifically are you doing for you? I look forward to hearing how you nurture yourself!

Pamela said...

PS. I'm keeping the same word 2 years in a row. More work needed on 09's word!!!!

Hayden said...

What a fascinating process and healing you received! Sometimes it takes a huge thunk on the head with a 2X4 to be able to truly receive. Sounds like you got that healing in spades!

Kathryn Grace said...

Thank you, all of you, for your time, comments, support and love. I am truly blessed and receiving all your truths on as deep a level as I am capable.

Vegaia, thank you for writing so passionately about human on animal violence and the unconsciousness with which so many of us approach our food. This is just the type of dialog I hope to foster with this blog. I am heartened that so many people around the world are addressing this problem and finding solutions. I'll continue to speak out on those issues here and elsewhere, as well as to continue to raise my own consciousness. Thank you for sharing the links to the videos.

Wanda, I so agree with you. Many of the health problems we face today have to do with the way our food is grown, harvested and processed. Anecdotally, my grandparents routinely filled their breakfast table with platters of bacon, sausage, chicken, and eggs--all from animals they named, raised and butchered themselves--accompanied by heaps of fried potatoes, large slabs of homemade bread, and carefully pressed bricks of freshly churned butter. They both lived nearly to 100, having experienced little or no exposure to pesticides, herbicides or factory-farmed food. My dear papa, who could work circles around an ox, was not so fortunate and died much younger of cancer and heart disease. My mother is convinced his genes would have given him a long life had he not been exposed in the fifties and sixties to enormous quantities of fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides our government then deemed safe.

Sharon, yes, let us tell our stories of receiving throughout the year. I look forward to yours.

Paul, thank you so much for checking in. Your blog is full of inspiration that keeps me going and lights the path to Ordinary.

Pamela, I'm following through with my doctor to learn what caused the problem. Tests and more tests, and I'm taking steps to be more conscious of the needs of my body than I have been in recent years--working to reclaim the more healthful habits of my youth. Perhaps sometime you will share with us your journey with your 2009-2010 focus word.

Hayden, yes, Ma'am, I certainly did. I'm paying attention now.

MyGreenSide said...

You have such a big heart... I'm glad to know it's healthy. I hope you continue to get great news about your health and I hope you continue to be open to receiving. Thank you for a lovely post!


Post a Comment