Gratitude is something we often talk about in November in the US, but I truly believe it’s important to cultivate all through the year.
In this episode, I tell some stories about how growing up in Appalachia and also my experiences interacting with people from other cultures have shaped my ideas about abundance, lack, and the importance of appreciating what we have.
I truly believe that dwelling in gratefulness is one of the “magic superpowers” of creating a life we want and getting in alignment with our souls.
From recounting the day Big Mommy got indoor plumbing to sharing the story of Juanita and the Tortillas, I get personal about moments that have helped me be more grateful in my life.
Click here to read more about the Ven. Dyhani Ywahoo whom I mention in the show.
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welcome to the what dreamers do podcast. i’m your host carla govan and appalachian musician flatfoot dancer, mama creative and dreamer from kentucky. i’m on a mission to inspire others to realize their dreams and live their most creative lives. grab your mason jar full of sweet tea or something a little stronger, and pull up a chair, because it’s time to get your dream off.
that’s what dreamers do. hey, there dreamers, i am happy to be back with you today for another episode of what dreamers do. and because i’m recording this episode, around the time of thanksgiving in the united states, i am going to be addressing the subject of gratitude. now, this is something that gets talked about in a superficial way a lot. but i’d like to take a little bit more of a closer look at it and just talk about my perspective on gratitude and the function that it fulfills in my life. because i believe it’s a really important feeling or state of mind to cultivate. and i believe there’s a lot of benefits to it, and just makes us better people. so let’s get started. i have heard it said by different spiritual teachers at different times that gratitude is one of the if you want to call it an emotion or a state of mind, that puts us most closely in alignment with our soul. i’ve also heard the same thing about humor that humor and gratitude are to divine emotions that help us to really connect with our truest selves. so we’ll save humor for another episode. and just focus on gratitude today. so for me, one of the things that i get the most of about cultivating gratitude within myself is that it just feels good. it feels really good to wake up in the morning and look around me and feel truly grateful for the people and the resources in my life and all of the abundance that i enjoy. and you know, guys, i’m just a folk singer. i’m not, you know, getting on my yacht, or flying to my private island, but i still consider myself to be incredibly wealthy, especially when we look at things from the standpoint of what our life and quality of life is like, compared to most of human history. i think we live like kings and queens. and gratitude also helps us even in times of struggle, or when we don’t have maybe as many things as we want or need to have to truly thrive in life. it helps us to feel better and get through those those hard parts. but i also believe that it helps open the doors for good things and more goodness to flow into our lives. and as a self employed artist, who has always had to rely on sometimes what feels almost mystical.
that’s a very pragmatic thing for me to find the attitudes, the states of mind, the states of being that help me get in alignment with booking gigs, and making connections and getting work. because as much as there is a pragmatic, real world component of being self employed, and you’ve making the phone calls, and you’re sending out the emails, and you’re making the promotional materials and posting on social media, there is also what i can only describe as a spiritual component of being self employed. and i’ve just noticed over the years that when i get in a certain frame of mind, more stuff seems to come to me more opportunities, more jobs, more people will call me. and if i am in a frustrated place, or i get all twisted up in my emotions, or i’m in fear, then things just don’t flow as well. they don’t go as well. i mean, at the very least even if you don’t believe in you know all the law of attraction stuff. your experience is much less pleasant, when you’re stuck in frustration and lack and fear versus when you’re dwelling in gratitude and love. so that’s why i’m talking about it. i think it’s very important. no matter what you do, no matter who you are, i think it is a wonderful and positive state of mind to cultivate. so i want to tell a few stories from my personal life and explore periences that i draw on or that i reference that are touchstones for me, when i’m having trouble experiencing gratitude, or when i just want to remind myself of how truly blessed i am. so one person that touched my life, one of my teachers that touched my life is a woman by the name of donnie eois, who, who is a leader, a spiritual leader from the cherokee or the salafi tribe. and i had the good fortune to learn from her and to go sit with her and visit with her, and meditate with her son when i was younger, in my 20s. and one of the things that she talked about one of the ideas that she shared, that other people also sometimes talk about now that i’ve heard, but she was the first person to introduce it to me. and it’s what she called the illusion of scarcity. and she was talking about how a lot of the conflict in the world is caused by the illusion of scarcity. in other words, the fear or the idea that there’s not enough to go around. and i remember actually questioning her in particular, when she made that statement, because i was like, but there’s so many people that are starving, and there’s so many people that are poor, it doesn’t seem like an illusion, it seems like it’s real. and her point was, that, if we were just sharing, if we were doing a better job of taking care of each other, and, you know, not perpetuating systems that enable massive, massive, massive greed and exploitation, that there would be enough that there is enough food to feed everybody alive right now that there is enough of whatever resource it is that people need, if we were using them responsibly, and if we’re being true stewards of the earth and respecting the earth. and that was a really powerful shift for me in the way that i thought about scarcity and lack and abundance. and that’s, that’s definitely a piece of my gratitude pie, if you will, that i that i reference over and over. when i start to feel afraid about something that’s financial or something the material world, i just remind myself, the honey said, scarcity, is an illusion. and, of course, we are so many of us working to try to create a world where we are living those principles of sharing, and giving and taking care of each other values that are sometimes associated with indigenous people or people that don’t have as much. so that’s another thing that i noticed in different parts of my life, is that often, people or cultures that have the least, not only seem to appreciate what they do have the most, but they are also some of the most masterful and generous sharers of that goodness. and part of those lessons in that value system i got growing up in appalachia where my grandparents certainly but even other people around me, were maybe poor on cash, but big on generosity and big on making do with what they had on hand and what they were able to grow and forage, and barter. and i think that my background in growing up in appalachia had primed me for the feelings of kinship that i have encountered when meeting people from other countries whose backgrounds were possibly sometimes more similar to mine than maybe somebody that grew up in the suburbs of a bigger city with a few more of the modern amenities and conveniences than than we had in rural appalachia during the 1970s when i was born. so i’m just going to talk about a couple stories and experiences that relate to that. and one of them is about juanita and the tortillas. so i, as many of you know, have a project that’s ongoing called cornbread and tortillas that i do with an eclectic group of artists from appalachia and different parts of latin america. and we have a theater show, and i’ve talked about on this podcast before but we have a show that celebrates music, dance and stories from all those places and our human connections. so often in conjunction with that show. when we do it in a community we will have some sort of community event with workshops and food and potlucks and dancing. and when we can we try to have workshops on making cornbread and workshops on making tortillas because that’s kind of the central theme of our piece. so we had a woman from guatemala named juanita, and she was making tortillas for our event. and that was that’s a whole story. i could do a whole podcast on that, because she doesn’t speak english. and you know, i’m usually trying to translate or someone else is trying to translate for her while the audience asked questions. and she’s, you know, pat, pat patting her tortillas, and they’re wanting to know questions about, you know, like, oh, what, what did you eat this with growing up, and she’s like, salt, we had salt. if we were lucky, we had limes, once in a while we would have beans to have with them. and even just doing the workshops with her and translating, hearing her talk about her life was an education in appreciating what you have when you just have a very small amount. but i’m thinking of a moment in particular, when we were cleaning up after this workshop, and i was in the kitchen with her. and there was a little ball of the dough left, not a very big one, you know, like, maybe this just a little bigger than my fist where she hadn’t used at all to make the tortillas, you know, we made a bunch and then the workshop was shut down. this this moment, when she and i are in the kitchen, there’s this ball of the masa dough, and then there’s a bag of masa flour, which is the flour that you make the dough out of. and it’s very cheap. you know, it’s like $1.75 for a big bag. she’s looking at this little ball of dough, and she’s like, are you going to use that? if you take it home? you know, we’re talking in spanish. and i was like, no, do you want it? you can take it home. she’s like, yes, i have four boys, they’re going to eat this. and she kind of was fussing at me a little bit. she’s very sternly said, like, maybe she could feel that i was contemplating just throwing it away. she was like, that is food is comida. and, you know, she was like, we’re not going to throw this away. she made it so clear. it just reminded me so much of my grandmother. and then then we both kind of looked at this bag of masa flour at the same time. and i was like, hey, why don’t you take his bag of flour home too. and she, yeah, she was all about it. she took that masa flour home. and it’s not that i think she was just so hungry at that point. you know, i think she works and has a fairly comfortable life now. but it was the idea that she wasn’t going to even let this go to waste because she had known what it was like to be without, and food was sacred, and she wasn’t going to waste it. so that story, i think about her and it just you know, it just reminds me of so many memories of growing up in appalachia and you probably have people like that in your life or in your history who you know, wanted to make the most of everything they had my granny would say use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without and manifested that in so many ways. like the button jar. i know a lot of you probably have button jars in your history, but granny would save buttons just like crazy. and if they were fallen off your old clothes, if you made a quilt out of your old britches, you’d save the buttons in the button jar. if you bought a new dress and it had one of those little buttons attached onto it, you’d put that in the button jar. and they were so much fun to play with as a kid it was like a toy. just looking at all the buttons. i saw my boyfriend trying to throw away a button that had come with his shirt. the other day, it was just this perfectly brand new button in this cute little envelope and it was in the trashcan. i’m like babe, what are you doing? you’re throwing the button away, we can’t we don’t throw the buttons away. so i was definitely marked by that attitude. so another memorable moment for me that helps me remember to appreciate what i have occurred when my when grandmother big mommy got running water. and so up until i was about eight years old. she didn’t have running water and it was just they had a will and a pump and you know a dish pan at the sink to wash dishes in and a bucket with a gourd dipper by the door to drink your water out of and if you want to take a bath you just heated up water and washed up and and you wash that way. but i think one of her children was encouraging her to install some indoor plumbing and some running water. and so i remember when the workers came i just happened to be there that day and they hooked up a cistern hooked up the kitchen sink and then hooked up the bathroom and it was one of those you know one of those 1970s tub shower combinations and, and a bathroom sink and a toilet that would flush. because prior to that big mommies we had used the outhouse, which in the wintertime when it was late at night was not always my favorite experience. but some of you know what i mean. anyway, i just remember as soon as they got that bathroom put in the way everybody treated the water was so
it was so precious. big mommy’s daughter, marie still lived with her. and, you know, she would just run a little bit in the kitchen sake, into the dish pan still, she still use the dish pan, and she’d fill it up and wash the dishes and basically continue to behave as if the water was being pumped and carried in by hand. but the cutest part was when big mommy would take a shower. her approach was to use as little water as possible still. and of course, she called it the share. and she say hi, that shares, the best thing ever was you just get in there and you cut that water on, you get wet, and then you cut the water off and you soak up, then you just cut that water back on and branch off. and it don’t take no time at all. and she just her shower is to she would get in and turn the water on just for a minute and get wet soap up, and then just turn it on for a minute and rinse off being around that mindset where you just didn’t always have the most unlimited abundant, never ending supply of water or hot water. it shaped me it affected the way that i felt about resources in the way i feel about being able to fill up an entire bathtub full of hot water anytime i want to at the turn of a tap. it’s like i feel like a queen, i really do. i have never gotten over how much i love and appreciate taking a bath taking a good bath. and there’s so many things like that in our lives. the fancy tea that i drink every day that that comes from india, that’s just a cheap tea. but we consume and participate in an experience so many things each day in our culture that previously would have only been available to the wealthiest, wealthiest, wealthiest people. and that’s something that makes me feel wealthy, even if my bank account balance is kind of low. so i’m going to share one more story. this is also about baths i’m realizing there’s a there’s a theme here. baths are definitely part of my love language. but it really affected me too. and i used to go to my sunday school teachers house fairly often after school because sometimes she would have events for, for us, young women and young girls. and i could just ride the bus to her house and hang out and my mom would pick me up there. she was always helping people. she was always, you know, bringing people in feeding them if somebody was new in town, or sometimes the church would help immigrant families who needed to get resettled, if they were coming from a place of you know, violence or if they were refugees. and i just remember this one family that she had over there one afternoon, when i went to her house, and there were some children.
they were just really little they were like, three and five. and i don’t honestly, i don’t even remember where they were from. i think it was somewhere in southeast asia. you know, she was chatting with a mom. she said, well do the kids want to take a bath. and somehow it just evolved with the kids were going to take a bath and she led them into the bathroom. and you know, the mom was there. so it wasn’t weird. and she started running the tub and getting out the little toys that she had for her grandkids. and the kids were just watching their eyeballs were as big around as saucers. and they kept looking up at their mom. and i couldn’t figure out why they were so awestruck. but they got in the tub. and they kept saying, this is for us. this is all for us. this is just ours, this is our bath, they couldn’t believe that they got to use that much water just for them. and they were so happy. that made a mark on me too. because we are surrounded by so many miracles every day, i always think of that line from the paul simon song. these are the days of miracles and wonders. and it’s true. i mean, we communicate through signals that are bouncing into outer space and back down into these little magic boxes that were holding in our hands. and we can access as much information as can be found in the library of alexandria anytime we want it in these devices that we carry around in our pockets. so there is so much for us to appreciate. we can appreciate material things in our environment, we can appreciate the fact that our heart is pumping blood through miles of blood vessels. without us even having to think about it. we can appreciate the fact that we are living in a peaceful place. we can appreciate the people that love us, we can appreciate our friends, we can appreciate our children, we can appreciate a hot bath and a good cup of tea. so that’s the thought that i want to leave with, i want to challenge you to just let yourself see the reasons that you have to be grateful. so whether you’re in the kitchen cooking right now, or whether you’re walking, whether you are folding up your clothes that you just got out of this magical device that washes them and dries them for you, no matter what you’re doing, just take a moment to appreciate how many blessings and miracles are around you and around us. and you can even bring some humor in there, when you start to get frustrated about something like the kroger clicklist, didn’t put the correct kind of yogurt, which happened to me the other day, and i was really kind of miffed about that. but that is what we call a first world problem. so i think an appropriate way to in this episode about gratitude is with a quote from ernest hemingway, that i really love, and it’s humorous, but it’s also true. and the quote is, every day above the earth is a good day, meaning we’re not dead yet we’re alive. we’re walking around, there’s still opportunities to change the things that are less than ideal. and there’s certainly opportunities to appreciate all of the wonderful blessings that we have. so i am grateful to you for listening. i’m grateful to have you in my life. i am grateful for these magical devices that allow me to record these thoughts and share them with you into your speakers. i am grateful for music and dancing and all the things that we have in common that bring us together. by the way, i just want to remind you if you need another good pie recipe, head to my website, carla gopher.com and sign up for my email list which will get you my mountain mama digital care package. and i just added big mommy’s cushaw pie recipe to that care package for you. so stay in touch, stay grateful. and i will see you next week.
thank you so much for joining me this week. if you want to make sure you never miss an episode. please hit subscribe wherever you’re listening now. or visit my website to get on my email firstname.lastname@example.org. when you sign up, you’ll instantly receive my milton mama digital care package, a bundle of music and videos to help you wring every drop of the heart of life. you’ll even find a dance lesson as well as my granny’s cornbread recipe with new goodies being added all the time. i’ll see you next thursday on the wet dreamers do podcast
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