Our Bodies Will Not Be Machines: My Resistance Will Be Bloody

I am thirteen and bleeding all over the floor of Renee’s bathroom. It is the middle of the night. I thought I had to pee, but it’s just that my period has started. I can’t predict these unpredictable occurrences. My stomach hurts. I feel queasy. But my flow is so heavy it’s running down my leg and making a mess on the floor. I mop up what I can. I swallow my pride and wake my friend to wake her mother. We need assistance. Thankfully, in an act of female teenage solidarity, no one ever hears of this story. Until now.

I am fifteen, crawling on my hands and knees through the halls of my high school. I have cramps so severe I cannot walk. I am pale and my English teacher is concerned that I might be passing out at my desk. Thankfully, most everyone is in class, so few people have to see my humiliation. But humiliation is the least of my concerns right now. Basic bodily functioning is my only priority at this moment. No one ever mentions seeing me do this.

I am nineteen and even being on the pill can’t cure me of cramps so bad that once again I cannot walk. I am slumped on the tile floor of the university dining hall bathroom. I might be passing out. A male friend is brought in to find me and carry me back to my dorm room. He never mentions this again.

In each of these moments what isn’t mentioned is that these moments aren’t mentioned. Women are supposed to be quiet about something that our bodies do every single month for thirty or forty years. Don’t make a big deal of your experience. Don’t gross anyone out. This is shameful and people will mock you. Or they willfully ignore it.

Don’t smell of flesh and blood. Don’t leak or leave a bloody stain. Stuff your cunt up. Eat ungodly amounts of pain-killers. Alter your hormones with birth control pills, regardless of the sex you may or may not be having. Don’t let cramps get you down; girl, let’s see that smile! Don’t rest; taking a day off work just proves women are weak and unreliable.

Patriarchy and Capitalism are cozy bedfellows. They are happy to convince women that their bodies are disgusting, so they can sell us one more product to make us more “productive”, to make my vagina smell like candy or flowers, anything that will stop these cunts from bleeding.

blood

HARDER FASTER STRONGER MORE

Anti-Capitalist efforts have always maintained the dignity of the human person, that our dignity is inherent in our being, and is not more nor less dignified according to our material wealth. Our bodies are not machines, and therefore we cannot work 12, 16, 18 hours a day. Thanks to the Socialists of the past, we now have an 8 hour work day.

Except, we don’t really. Our paid work may only be 8 hours a day, but there is no room for rest in our society. In 1974 Silvia Federici tackled the issue of the unpaid work of housework, done almost exclusively by women. She says “the unwaged condition of housework has been the most powerful weapon in reinforcing the common assumption that housework is not work, thus preventing women from struggling against it”. By denying that housework is work, that raising children is work, Capitalism can ignore women’s needs for equality of time, reimbursement, and support. If it’s not work, we can continue to underpay house cleaners, nannies, preschool teachers, (some) cooks, and so on.

We are encouraged to work ever longer hours. We are isolated in our nuclear families, not sharing the collective labor our lives require. Our communities are designed for long commutes. You can sleep when you’re dead. Play hard. Never give up. Always improving, never just being. There is no room for pain, or rest, or love, but our bodies are not machines.

“Women’s work,” women’s bodies, women’s embodied experience, in fact, all human embodied experiences, are inconvenient for the Capitalist enterprise. Because our bodies are not machines.

EMBRACING MY BLOODY BODY

In my late 20s, when I was in graduate school, I decided to try an experiment, because I could, because I had the flexibility to do so. I decided to give myself a 48 hour menstrual holiday. I was on the pill and could ensure that my period always started on a Friday. I would not make any plans. No studying if I could help it. I hung out in my pajamas, eating cheese burgers, napping, and watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And bleeding onto cloth. No pushing myself to look good (when I was bloated and heavily bleeding). No trying to socialize (when I was spacey and queasy). No needing to be ON. No bleached cotton and chemicals blocking me up.

It transformed the way I felt about my period and my body. I stopped hurting as much. I stopped experiencing PMS symptoms as strongly. I started looking forward to my body releasing and resting. I started wondering how many other people, particularly women, were pushing through pain and discomfort, ignoring their bodies, menstruating or not.

It changed the way I understood bodies, period. My compassion for others’ bodies increased.

BY BEING SOFT I WILL RESIST

These days I don’t have “days off.” I have small children, born of a body so used to pain that labor was not that much worse than my cramps. When I am menstruating, I continue to observe my monthly holidays. I try not to schedule anything. We eat leftovers. I put my feet up. I embrace the blood that keeps my womb clean and healthy. I settle into a space, mentally, physically, and spiritually, that feels liminal and helps me wander between the realms of life and death, of this world and Other worlds.

By resting and embracing my bleeding I resist the fetishization of my female body. I don’t have to smell like a prepubescent female. I can smell like the animal I am, iron and flesh, pheromones and earth. I listen to the completely natural urges of my body. Sometimes the slickness and warmth sing a song of sex, needing salt and a firm hand. Other times I want not a single touch, as if every inch of my flesh has gone on strike.

Instead of purchasing conventional period products, I have acquired, over time, cloth products, made by women who work out of their home. They are more environmentally sustainable, easily washable, more comfortable, and supporting, not some corporation, but a family and/or independent craftsperson*. I step outside the conventional model and resist – economically, environmentally, bodily. One act of resistance leads to another.

BLOODY WILL BE THE WAY

I resist Capitalism by not being “productive.” I resist by refusing to accept that my body or your body is a machine. Our bodies need to rest. Our bodies need time and space to heal, to purge, to grow, to be. Honoring my body shows my kids that the female body is not disgusting, but a cause for celebration.

Blood is life. The blood that pumps in my body and your body every moment of every day is life. Your heart’s blood and my cunt’s blood. A bleeding woman is a powerful woman. A bleeding woman can grow a life in the hidden spaces of her body. A woman who resists hiding her power, in her sex, in her blood, lays bare her connection to the sacrality of life, of our flesh.

Who better to understand this than Pagans? We understand the balance on the knife’s edge between life and death. We understand that life is sacred, that blood and sex are sacred. The Capitalist system denies this sacredness and tries to shame us, male and female alike, by insisting that we soldier on, cover up, and purchase more goods to Get Through.

The body is a site of resistance. Resistance to Capitalism and Patriarchy may begin with a glimmer of a theoretical idea, realization, or hope. But those ideas must flower in relation to our lived, embodied experience. Resistance begins in these personal moments, in the ways we love, the ways we bleed, the ways we live and die.

I saw the tentacles of control between the two-headed hydra of Patriarchy and Capitalism, passing our bodies around. I cut one tentacle, only to see that we are tangled in others. But the confidence to cut one tentacle leads to cutting more. Resist once and you can resist again.

Resist beautifully. Bleed.

*Ironically, this form of resistance has finally been noticed by Capitalist powers and the FDA has decided that cloth pads are “class 1 medical devices” and must be regulated and taxed accordingly


Niki Whiting

Niki Whiting is a mother and a student of theology. She was born and raised in Alaska and currently lives in Olympia.


Gods&Radicals is a non-profit Pagan Anti-Capitalist publisher. Find out more about our books here.

Loitering at the Gates of Paradise

By Linda Boeckhout

What exactly do we want from the animals and the plants? At first sight, it seems we have tried very hard to distance ourselves from the natural world we were once a part of. We wear elaborate, impractical clothes. We make sure our houses have comfortable savannah microclimates. We cook and process our food, undoing it of its natural flavours. Our bodily functions are usually locked out of our social discourse or distorted, buried in conventions and assumptions. Yet, at the same time, we cannot seem to leave the animals and the plants alone. Throughout the year man hunts, without being hungry. We have bred a whole class of domesticated animals that are exempt from having any function at all. We treat them as children, albeit disposable ones when we have no longer any need for them. We prefer to wear the skins that belonged to others, even though many alternatives are available. We grow flowers which will never set any seed and can only be propagated with our assistance. We try to retrieve peace of mind through mindfulness techniques that essentially boil down to being present in the moment, like the animals are. There are great differences in these pursuits. Some are invasive, others are harmless. Yet, all of these pastimes and habits reflect a pining for communion with nature, however clumsy or misguided at times. It seems we want to stand with one foot in the animal kingdom, but where is the other? We keep hanging around the Gates of Paradise.

From The Gates of Paradise by William Blake, Wikimedia Commons
From The Gates of Paradise by William Blake, Wikimedia Commons

Old myths, new myths

When did we start to be human and leave the animal way of life behind? It is something that cannot be agreed on by scientists. Was it when we started to use tools or started cooperating in the hunt? Some animals display similar rudimentary behaviour. It is more accurate to say that we are, as a species, defined by immaterial things, the very things that do not leave a trail in a cave or in the ground.

The first circumstantial evidence of uniquely human behaviour is relatively recent. The oldest evidence of artistic endeavour is no older than 100,000 years. Long before these manifestations though, there must have been a gradual shift towards thinking beyond what was present in the here and now. The most human we can be however, is by using the word to shape the world around us. The spoken word, our sharpest sword, however, has not left a trace for the larger part of our history. As a result, even the scientific theories about our cultural origins, are little more than conjecture. Old myths that no longer explain anything, give rise to new ones. The story of Adam and Eve is one of many blueprints for the creation myths of men. While it is an easy myth to ridicule, in the light of all we have come to know about our evolutionary path, it should not be discarded altogether. It tells a powerful story, not about our biological origins, but rather about the birth of our mind. We once lived in a large garden, unaware, and unquestioning of our world. The concept of our own death was unknown. But our sly mind began to live a life of its own. Once we started listening to its ambiguous tongue, knowledge became the glossy apple we sought after. From that moment on, the way back was shut. It is impossible to untaste the fruit of knowledge. And then the world ceased to be a garden and became a hostile place, with danger and death always eminent.

A mythical character of modern times is the noble savage. In a way it mirrors the symbolism that can be perceived in Genesis. It is a myth that often grows on well-meaning soil, a crumbly mixture of environmentalism and cultural idealism. Its underlying premise is that the emergence of organised religion and urbanism, tore our societies from a previously deep, wholesome communion with nature. The attractiveness of this idea lies in the promise of its possible retrieval. If we were once able to live ethically and in harmony with our surroundings, it can be done again. It is fair to say that a myth could not be successful if there was no amount of truth to it. Our ancestors must indeed have worked with their environment instead of opposing it. It is also true that our ancestors revered at least certain elements in nature. Animism is common among almost all indigenous people. It is suggested by cave paintings and body ornaments. It also resonates in the personas we find in various pantheons. Many of them display characteristics of animals. The question is whether our forebears revered nature out of innate wisdom or whether many of their cults were largely driven by fear. However lovely the first thought might be, the second assumption is just as likely. The best way to know ourselves and our ancestors, is to honestly regard the evidence of our contemporary attitude towards nature in today’s society. We are endowed with great knowledge of biology and ecosystems. As a group, though, we tend to be ruthless and at best indifferent about the effects of our behaviour. Now that we believe the laws of nature can be tweaked to an extent, the majority no longer sees any need to confer with it. Our ancestors, on the other hand, wielded little or no power over their habitat, so they feared to tread in this unknown universe. For them, it was better to be safe than sorry. Their reverence for the forces of nature must, at least in part, have acted as a makeshift insurance against a fickle fate. It is also safe to conclude that our ancestors lived in an apparent harmony with their surroundings out of their sheer number. At the dawn of agriculture, about 8000 years B.C., there were most likely only a couple of million people in the world. Without modern technology, their impact on the natural world must have been minute.

What would be a good way to commune with nature, to lessen our universal pain of the paradise that was lost? Our current way of connecting with the rest of the natural world will soon be at a dead end. Even in our seemingly harmless enjoyment of cut flowers and pets, we support an industry that pollutes and corrupts on a large scale. Neither does it do to pine for a glorious past that in all likelihood never was. Life was harsh, people died young. Maybe it would be more fruitful, to put the very knowledge we chose over the garden to work. Our understanding of the workings of nature’s laws provides us with great advantages. We no longer have to fear the forests and the rivers, as long we respect their innate qualities and the creatures that live in them. We must acknowledge that we have shut ourselves out of Paradise, cruel and beautiful at the same time. We can choose, however, to preserve Paradise without us in it. We can live just outside its gates, and be sustained by its renewable life forces. We have to kneel for nature’s forces, like our ancestors. No longer out of fear, but in reverence from where we came, and celebrate that which we now know to be fragile.

Questions for an uncertain future

The future looks bleak. Society as a whole is indifferent or unwilling to see the widespread destruction. The ones that do acknowledge the direness of our situation, have until now been powerless to stop it. But we must remember our departure from the animal kingdom is only an evolutionary second ago. We enter the world as a orphaned, self-destructive adolescent, with no support to fall back on. It is up to us how we deal with our inevitable banishment from the realm of our birth. Do we continue our spree of self-destructive, selfish behaviour or do we get it together? We can choose to put our best asset, the mind, to work and educate ourselves. And if there are no parents around to guide us, we must look for new role models. Our voices call once again upon the Gods and the Spirits of the Land, as we have done for the larger part of our history. The ways of our ancestors can help us, but we ourselves have to reinterpret these ways for a new world and age. If we take the time to stop yelling, we can still hear their voices. They cannot tell us what to do, as we find ourselves in an utterly singular situation, but they might inspire us.

We do not have to invent a new way of life all in one go. The question of how to live a good life outside the Paradise breaks down into countless smaller, but important questions. How would a responsible human community relate to domesticated and farm animals? How do we organise (or better still, disorganise) work in a way that encourages and enables us all to contribute our best? Is it acceptable to eat meat? Under what circumstances? How do we deal with issues of population and finite resources? How much do we really need? There are tiny pinpricks of hope. Permaculture puts the best of nature and our wits to work together. People can, when truly confronted with misery, rise up to display great acts of compassion. Global connectivity increases awareness and causes good ideas to travel and evolve faster. It is time to come into our own, because the window of opportunity is closing. It is time to stop loitering around the Gates of Paradise and vandalising all we get our hands on. We should grow up. Now.

Bonfire Circle

The Enchanted

Imbalance

Everything is spinning out of balance. The world is being polluted and corrupted, and it’s decaying while still alive. Mega-storms, droughts, fracking quakes, and rising seas eat entire island nations and devastate helpless communities which are then swarmed by hungry, opportunistic corporations that sell off and buy up what’s left, and build hungry empire in their place. Entire mountains have been eaten by mining operations, which also leave the land and water around them toxified. Racism bides within social institutions and quietly mows down swaths of people of color, and stands on the necks of those who remain. Colonies of bees die off, Monarch butterflies cannot make their annual migration to overwinter and reproduce, hundreds of birds fall from the sky at once, mysteriously slain. Many, many species of Earthlings are going extinct and taking a lot of the balance and creative diversity of nature with them — taking pieces of the whole with them — now forever secret. Most members of our own species live difficult, oppressed lives in or under the purview of stratified societies and empires which invented poverty and wealth, race and class.

 

Empires

What need did humanity have of empire, in its incredibly long existence? It had none, for hundreds of thousands of years… eons filled with kin and culture and integration with the abundant world. We had wholeness. Now we have fragmented, unbalanced lives being pushed by clocks, pulled by disjointed narratives and misconceptions, stomped by greed, and our only defense the solid reality of community, love, and nature… when we are lucky enough to find islands of it amidst the cacophony of ticking time-which-is-money, manufactured desires, and hyper-individualistic isolation in which this terminally ill culture is drowning.

The decision to unbalance society and exclude all of the community (even the eco-community) except the men (and often only certain privileged men, at that) from the communal decision-making and interest-considering was one of the first steps on this unbalanced, destructive path. Pathological patriarchy arose to control women, and to ensure the tracking of sired children — tracking which hadn’t been necessary in matrilineal societies that took care of all children. Some long-ago group of men thought they needed to ensure that their efforts would only benefit their own children, not the community. Selfishness triumphed over communal responsibility, and became codified into law.

Ownership and inheritance became important to them. Their society was stratifying, and they needed to get on top of the heap. The alternative was poverty and slavery. Dominance became important too. Having dominion over not only your family and community, but neighboring communities and even all living creatures became a cultural value and driving subtext in the script. If [empire], then [be emperor]… or as close to it as you can get, otherwise you’ll [be fodder]. A LOT of fodder lies at the bottom, and only one emperor at the top, with an inverse pyramid of wealth held at the top and a heavy lack of enough resources at the bottom. It’s pyramid shape of hierarchy is inherently unfair and unjust.

 

Cultural Script

We’re still working from this script, a few thousand years later. But not for long. This script is not sustainable. This play chews up the set and buries most of its actors. There won’t even be an audience left, at the end.

This is not the only script ever performed, nor the only one possible. It’s only the most recent. Imperialism is relatively new in human history. Capitalism is even newer – only about 300 years old — and even more destructive. Capitalism is a natural outgrowth of the kyriarchal complex of cultural concepts like patriarchy, dominionism, hegemony, colonialism, wealth, and hyper-individualism that have busily been infecting the cultures and peoples of Earth and rewriting their cultural DNA, re-scripting their histories and futures with lies and false promises.

And we can be done with it.

We can cancel the terrible show and start writing and rehearsing, or even remembering one that does not eat our children and destroy mind, body, soul, Earth, and connection. It made us forget what community is, and what sacred means, but we can find them again. Some of us have already begun. Some of us in indigenous communities never lost them and can share them. There are paths strewn with fulfillment rather than endless hunger. We can find the paths with vital air to breathe, clean water to refresh, and solid ground to stand and circle with each other upon. Our ancestors knew them, walked them, danced them. Some continued to remember them throughout empire, despite the illusions of usurious capital and divine right of kings, and preserved markers for us in myth, symbol, and language. Nature, itself, contains markers and inspiration. Our home and kin are calling us.

Bonfire Circle
Image from https://500px.com/lehoslav

 

The Call

We are some of the first in generations to hear the call of nature, spirits, gods, and ancestors, and our own connected souls. We are some of the first to gather again in circles and remember, to listen to wind and stars and recall. We are organic circles of community, not mechanical pyramids of empire. We remember who we are, we remember all Earthlings are family, and we remember that we belong to the Earth — the Earth does not belong to us. We are now charged with finding the paths again and showing each other the way before this path leads an entire world into chaos and premature death. We must heal this sickness, for are we not the healers Earth has produced in her time of need? Do you not feel the calling of the oppressed, the ancestors, our children’s children, and the Earth, chanting our names and the great need?

We are the enchanted, who will answer the call of justice and of healing, and re-enchant the world, singing up reconnection and dancing up a real future. We have the magic – will and intention, the calling and the help of truth. Let us be the good ancestors who take up these Witches’ brooms, Druids’ sickles, and Heathens’ hammers to clear away, to build, and to relight the sacred flame at the heart of the world.


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Skunk cabbage

The Value of Joy

Skunk cabbage

By Fjothr Odinsdottir Lokakvan

Don’t put off till tomorrow what can be enjoyed today.
― Josh Billings

 

My basic ethical values were well in place when I became a polytheist, and the various gods and other Powers in my life now haven’t really caused any drastic changes in what I’ve held to be guiding values for “right action.” I have some new vocabulary as result of becoming more familiar with my Norse gods’ historic associations, and I’ve become more certain that my previous values are heading me in the right direction, but my religious conversion didn’t come with a sweeping overhaul of my general approach to life.

Recently I realized that perhaps I was defining “values” a little too narrowly in some respects, because there is something that many of Them have emphasized repeatedly, and that is, essentially, that joy is important and I ought to pay more attention to it.

Not that I’ve ever been opposed to joy; it’s more that since They’ve kept bringing it up, and I’ve seen it come up in other contexts as a thing to pay attention to, it has become something I have thought about more, both for very personal reasons as well as in the context of a bigger picture. The bigger picture is seeing it as a form of resistance against the dominant culture, and a vital part of being resilient to what that culture does to us.

I read a lot of environmental news, and I’m well enough aware of other major problems in the world, so it is a real struggle at times to not feel overwhelmed by how awful things are, to say nothing of understanding that some of those awful things are going to get worse before there is a chance for them to get better, because “we” have to stop emitting so much carbon, destroying so much habitat, etc., etc., before things have a chance to heal. The problems are very large and very upsetting.

On a personal level, I was depressed for several years, and it was nearly impossible during that time to find anything that brought me more than a temporary bit of joy; it was hard to even remember what that feeling was like previously – surely I had felt that once? . . . Maybe not. While the worst of that is gone now, I know I’m not that far from the edge of that pit, and some things make the ground tilt towards it. In addition, I have a bad habit of seeing something bad, or potentially bad, and working it up in my head into something that will be absolutely terribly awful, and then there’s the ground pitching towards the void again.

I am pretty sure this is one of the reasons that, when I’ve been in distress and sought advice for how to handle the situation, the People Upstairs have advised me to focus on things I have in my life right now that bring me joy. It has been a good way to keep away from ground-tilting thoughts, or to pull away from them.

But it hasn’t only come up as advice for how to handle my own issues. Several months ago, I asked for advice on how to help a certain group of land spirits I have responsibilities to; the response was to bring them joy. That was unexpected, and I have only the smallest grasp on what that entails at the moment, but it was another reminder that joy is an important thing.

They heard me singing and they told me to stop
Quit these pretentious things and just punch the clock

— Arcade Fire, Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)

I’ve also found the concept of joy as an important, powerful thing outside of my personal life. From a wide variety of political-related things I’ve read, I’ve started to see it as a sometimes transgressive act. Expressing joy doesn’t really seem to be encouraged, for one (my cultural context is a white American from a basically WASP background). Acting “positive” is, of course, but spontaneous expressions of delight – not so much, though you’re probably okay expressing delight about something among like-minded enthusiasts, or friends. But generally, it really isn’t the mature adult thing to do, is it? Unless you present it just right, dress it up in the right toned-down language, so it shows you know how to present emotions in a socially-acceptable manner. In addition, there’s a nasty strain running through the culture that says if you’re enjoying something, you’re doing something wrong, not working hard enough, or you’re merely getting your earned time away from “real life.” Because real life isn’t supposed to be enjoyable, I guess, unless you earn your pleasure through drudgery or pain first. (Why there is this notion that pleasure must be earned instead of being a birthright is a good question.)

I’ve seen similar things come up from time to time in discussions of pagan/polytheist practices, since they are embedded within this same context. If you write too much about being happy about what’s going on in your spiritual life, you’ll undoubtedly get someone coming along to “helpfully” point out to you that this is hard, and eventually you’ll find out. It isn’t all fun and games you know! With the implied “Why aren’t you suffering or struggling more?” and the messages that if you don’t find the hard painful parts, then you’re not getting deep enough into your practice, you won’t get out of it what you ought to, etc., etc.; the basic message I’ve gotten is that you risk being met with all kinds of skepticism, criticism, and outright scorn if you express happiness without also expressing enough of the right kind of “hard work” and experience of pain.

I am absolutely in favor of people having an understanding that life, work, spiritual practices, relationships, etc., will have their ups and downs, and what those might look like in order to be prepared, but the kindest thing I can say to the people who feel obligated to respond to an expression of joy by squashing it is, “Please shut up. Come back later, in a different context, with your helpful advice about how things can be hard.”

Listen: Joy is life affirming.

Lots of things in life hurt and suck. People know this. It is thoughtless if not cruel to respond to expressions of joy with what amounts to the message, “It is wrong for you to feel that, and to make sure you understand it’s wrong to feel that, I’m going to hurt you for admitting you feel that way.” Everyone must toe the cultural party line, or be brought to heel.

In the face of bureaucratic authority, the expression of joy can be both powerful and subversive, partly because it is so unexpected. It disarms those in power through an absolute refusal to be provoked or humbled, and it provides great inner strength for the struggles that lie ahead.

— Michael Edwards, “To remain in prison for the rest of my life is the greatest honor you could give me: the story of Sister Megan Rice

In addition, the dominant culture, the kyriarchy, all the -isms that keep people down, they tell you/us: “You are wrong for being [that], and you are most definitely wrong for feeling joy or pride in being [that] or doing those stereotype-denying things. By the way, you’ll also get put down for enjoying the things associated with the stereotypes.” And so finding joy in life while being [that], in being alive as you are, defining for yourself who you are and what you enjoy, refutes the dominant culture and its abuses – and make no mistake, it is abusive to tell someone, “You are wrong to feel that way.”

The ability to feel joy-at-living again was one of the first gifts I received after converting, and I find it precious beyond words. I thought I had lost that. Around the time I converted, I had gotten out of the worst depression – I felt real motivation and positivity for my future – but I still had no idea how to find that spark, that particular kind of easy delight-of-being again. Finding small moments of joy now feels so much more important as a result. And where I live now, it is so, so easy – it is so beautiful, and I am so glad to be here, it is almost impossible to look outside and not find delight in what I see; and if I pause for a moment and think about the basic material reality of my life now, yes, there is plenty to be joyful about.

Feeling joy in my life, and being really mindful and aware of it, feels like a prayer of thanks – and sometimes turns into an actual spontaneous, directed, “Thank You for helping me get here.” I appreciate what I have now, immensely, and allowing myself to really feel that as not just a staid appreciation, but delight, happiness, joy feels like the least I can do. It is a thanks for helping me find that ability again, thanks for the aid I received in getting here, getting my life more settled, and just simply thanks – to Who/Whatever – that I am alive, here and now, to experience the beauty of the amazing world around me.

Joy is life affirming.

We are surrounded by so many life-denying forces.

Joy can be an antidote to their poisons and a reminder that there is more to existence than what they offer.

“If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty of lives and whole towns destroyed or about to be. We are not wise, and not very often kind. And much can never be redeemed. Still life has some possibility left. Perhaps this is its way of fighting back, that sometimes something happened better than all the riches or power in the world. It could be anything, but very likely you notice it in the instant when love begins. Anyway, that’s often the case. Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb. (Don’t Hesitate)”
― Mary Oliver, Swan: Poems and Prose Poems


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