Todos tenemos la oportunidad de cambiar el mundo cuando caminamos como una bendición.
We all have the chance to change the world when we walk the world as a blessing. ~ Marta
In the summer of 2020, while all of us around the globe were isolated in some way from those we love, award-winning photographer and filmmaker Doug Menuez found a way for us to gather safely, outdoors, to listen closely to the stories of seven individuals for whom grateful living is a way of life. The result of Doug’s beautiful work is a new video series, Grateful Voices. In the short film and narrative below Marta, who generously participated in the project, shares her story.
“I’m from Nicaragua. I was born during a dictatorship and lived through the falling of a government and civil war. My family, having grown up on a small plot of land, experienced great violence during this time. Conditions were so dangerous that we moved from a farm to a city to try to save our lives. And then from a city, we crossed a border, and then another border, and that led to displacement.
Arriving in the United States for my family was like the coming to the promised land. It was coming to a place where there was freedom and liberty and respect — democracy. However, arriving here was a different story. Although the landscape of the U.S. is one of immigrants, I was unprepared for the work ahead including being discriminated against, while expected to assimilate and acculturate. Gratefulness has invited me to explore my background, and how difficult memories such as those of displacement can be transformed into joy and happiness.
I’ll never forget the moment when my son was born. Being a mother changes one’s life — becoming a mother is becoming a legacy. To become a mother, I have embraced the present moment. To embrace life, I had to embrace history by exploring my past. To become a mother, for me, first meant that I had to embrace where I come from and then how I would pass that on to the next generation — to be present!
Being a mother is not knowing how to handle every situation. Meanwhile, I have to remain present, again and again and again, which is the practice of gratefulness. To teach gratefulness to children, first we get to be grateful to the children with the children. Second, we get to be grateful to our own self as a parent. Being a mother is about humility. And I get to appreciate all that is in front of me so that I can be more present. As a parent, I also practice gratefulness at the kitchen table, welcoming the opportunity to appreciate daily life with my son.
I also teach gratefulness as an acupuncturist. I do this because it can be a path to joy, happiness, and reducing pain in your body. When you have negative thoughts, you have a physiological response in your system that can increase pain. But when you practice gratefulness, you can instantly reduce pain by changing your vital expression.
To experience peace, hatred and violence are not required emotions to catalyze change in oneself, however these emotions can be integrated and therefore understood, through the practice of gratefulness. Defined by gratefulness, I can remain, as Brother David says, in that present moment. When I’m in that present moment, I can be with you, even in the worst of pains. When I separate, when I leave this moment, I leave gratefulness, and therefore I lose what Brother David says, “The opportunity to heal, the opportunity to share.”
We invite you to share comments in the space below the video transcript which follows.
Thank you, Doug Menuez and team, including Executive Producer Pear Urushima, Director of Photography Luke Carquillat, and Sound Technician/Gaffer Dino Davaros, for the grace and heart you bring to your work in making it possible for the diverse stories of grateful living to be shared.
To watch more films in this series, visit Grateful Voices.