Starblanket eBook available now!

Starblanket: A Mother’s Gift to Her Son available at Amazon and Kobo!

What happens when a Mother’s biggest worry is that her son will bear the burden and blame of a society who do not know how to Respect, or Honour Indigenous women?

“Starblanket -A Mother’s Gift to Her Son” – is a collection of stories about Spiritual Awakening, Motherhood and Healing.
When family bonds are grown from traumatic events a child-of-trauma is born. Starblanket follows the journey of an Indigenous woman facing herself as a child-of-trauma and seeking identity, self-respect, and self-love. A single-mother, she struggles to raise her son alone in one of the biggest cities in the world. Her small family faces ever-encroaching societal pressures of Capitalism, Materialism, and Conformity which contradict the Indigenous values she tries to instill.

“Starblanket” honours the Indigenous child and the family as ancient teachings of love and understanding are slowly reclaimed. As the Morningstar guides us from darkness into light, Starblanket guides readers to self awareness, one story at a time.
Amazon!
http://www.amazon.ca/Starblanket-Mothers-Gift-Her-Son-ebook/dp/B00RC2XHDQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1419859797&sr=1-1&keywords=starblanket

Print copies available at the Cedar Basket Gift Shop

A warrior’s way

Tonight as I reflect on the events of my life. I contemplate the warrior’s way. I seek what our ancestors knew…protect your family at all costs. Protect your homelands. Value all life as sacred. War is  the last resort.

I started martial arts to learn how to protect myself and my son. A single mother alone in a big city. Smart.The more I sit with the teachings I find that my physical being needs to catch up with my spirit. I am learning to speak my mind. Words too, are weapons. I have sheathed my most powerful weapons with kindness even when I knew I needed to let loose my blade in defense of myself and my own spirit.

Yet, I stood there…frozen. Holding tightly to my kindness.

I used to think that if I lashed out intentionally, I would hurt someone…and my conscientiousness would not allow another person to be hurt by my hand…even if they deserved it. On the other hand, my abusive tendencies, unconscious, innate also leads me to lash out on the innocent, defenseless and often loved ones in my life…there is remorse. And resolve to end those ways…

I know these energies are within me. I have never physically struck another person in anger…at least, not in a long time. She reminds me about it all the time. I was ten or eleven. I hit my niece with my cabbage patch doll. Hard. She cried.

I am learning a self defence technique to help me protect myself, and am taking a break right now. Although in class, we practiced gentleness at the same time, the movements we learned in class were vicious and deadly. We do not compete. In many ways I feel uncertain of my growth using this format. So I shy away from practicing the art. Afraid to take the necessary steps to become strong.

I watched my father abuse my mother, and I saw how she just took it. Over and over again, until she finally left.

I swore I would never allow any man who says he loves me – to hit me. None ever have. At least not with their hands but with their words, their energy, their disrespect, their dishonouring of my spirit…I took this abuse and said nothing. It seemed different than the treatment I witnessed at home growing up. So I said nothing.

I’m tired of remaining silent. I’m tired of taking abuse. I’m tired of being afraid. It’s funny – fear. I was always afraid that if I stood up for myself then my love would leave and I would be alone. I never saw that I was better off without them anyway. I’ve been alone a long time. Being alone is not so bad.

I have asked my martial arts teacher to train me to compete. For some reason, my path is about feeling the impact of my punch. I need to know the pain that is training. The pain of defeat. I need to grow, to push myself to the absolute limit. But I haven’t followed through on that request.

I was thinking about all the reasons I stopped going to my martial arts class. Tonight, I realized that it wasn’t because I was afraid of hurting someone. I stopped because I was afraid that if I hit someone, and hurt them, that I would like it. I would like it so much that I wouldn’t be able to stop. I’m not that person…

That, is also the nature of fear. So tonight, I decided to set aside the fear and make good on my request. This path requires discipline. I think I lacked the necessary drive to continue my training…that is until I met someone who taught me pain.  Now, that lesson is what drives me. Knowing that I will never accept that kind of treatment from anyone…ever again.

I reflect on the warrior’s way. Protect myself from harm? Put myself in harms way to protect those I love. It is also to speak my truth. Something I’ve never been good at. Except, I’ve finally reached the end of my rope. Thankfully.

The war between kindness and conscientiousness has ended. Both of these parts of me are agreed: authenticity is where I’m at. Regardless of how uncomfortable I am, or how uncomfortable others are…verbalizing intentions is one step. Now, I need the courage and conviction to stand by my words. I need to stand by myself…

Full circle

I met her almost twenty years ago. Briefly, we helped one another through an academic journey and then she was gone…only to return a few years later…a godsend. Her counsel, her encouragement seemed indispensable. She was my rock. She still is…my best friend. It seemed like she knew so much, her wisdom and experience helped me to gain confidence in my own journey, and for that I am truly grateful. She was there when it seemed no one else was. And she knows who she is. 

Now it is my turn. To be there, to be the sounding board, to listen and provide encouragement as others take that journey inside. The journey to themselves, to their own spirit, to awaken to a consciousness only they know the real answers to the questions they are asking. I am also thankful for this new experience. To be the guide, or maybe even a witness as needed. So many years after starting my journey and now I am seeing some small chance to giveback to add my energy to the mix, what a wonderful feeling of completion. Of well being, to know that in some small way I can help someone shine just a little brighter. It is even that little bit more grounding for me…to know and understand that I have some small contribution to give. I am so thankful. 

Teaching, and giving support after having relied so heavily on my own teachers for so long, is a very rewarding feeling. I can see myself in some of the faces now…and I remember being in a similar space those long years ago. 

I am smiling and reflecting on all of the hard work it took to get to where I am today. With such an innate send of conscientiousness and spirituality to help me to be a good person…I was fortunate to find gentle teachers to help me forward…hopefully and with great care, I can be that for someone else needing a gentle presence…tonight…such abundance and gratitude…

Give me something to live for

Ok. So I have a penchant for drama. Why not. I am a passionate being. For most of my life I’ve allowed my emotions to rule. To lead. To drown out my guiding spirit. Now? I find balance. New passions and old habits.

This past week I picked up a new skill. A creative outlet, and for the longest time this activity – loom beading seemed a daunting skill to acquire. And yet, I found myself in front of a loom. Patient teachers, and encouraging words helped me move forward. Two hours later, I came away with a finished product, and renewed confidence in myself. I found that I really enjoyed the atmosphere. Creativity, conversation, laughter, and sharing. I’ve left that space behind, yet the memory created in those passing moments I shall always carry with me.

I find myself drawn to my loom. Sitting in my home, I’ve poured over my beads, searched out new patterns and exciting colour schemes. I’ve printed bead paper so I can pour out my creativity in colour, shades, and patterns. I’ve finally found something that I truly love doing. I am excited about the colours, shapes, patterns that form through meticulous movement of my multi-coloured pens. Dot after dot, the pattern takes shape.

I’ve found an application that will allow me to pick out base colours in a natural setting and re-create the visual I want. I look around me and see loom patterns. I’m EXCITED about life. This has never happened to me before. Not since…I heard the drum all those years ago. I smile to myself as I think about the moment I walked down the street this afternoon and I saw only inspiration in the leaves, the clouds, the flowers and the vines surrounding me.

Tonight I am so grateful for this new found passion and I can’t wait to start creating. I am excited to go bead shopping. To create. Already, my son is excited for me. Video game inspired patterns, shapes and colours also provide endless fun. Something we can do together. A new skill, a family activity. So much great fun just waiting for us. I can feel this strange excitement in the pit of my stomach. I’ve picked up something new. And…as I do, I say goodbye to an entire way of being. I say goodbye to rumination. I say goodbye to attachment. I say goodbye to insecurity. I’m working my way toward freedom. What a long process, a life long process but I no longer feel as if it is futile. A grey expanse of experience. Now, I see colours, so many beautiful colours everywhere. And many patterns, inspired by all of the life around me. Just waiting in the ether…waiting for life. For me to breathe life into them…what exciting times! What an opportunity!

Not your approval

Elastisicity, Electricity, Eclecticity, Eccentricity

Awakened again, the lover turned inward.

Attachments, attacking, alkalinity, affinity

Neediness and greediness the theme of the week.

Insights, insider, incisions, inclusion

Writing the guide and awareness abound.

Seeking, seer, silently, solemnity

She sees her tendrils reaching out, reclaiming

Approval, Appraisal, Attention, Adoring

Cutting cords, her power flashes brightly

Inspirational, Sensational, Enlightened, Empowered

She needs not your approval, nor your attention.

You were the guide. The teacher. The messenger.

Message received.

Moonlight water

Tonight, I was reminded of many things from my childhood. As I sat by the water, reflection became more than just brilliant moonlight nights. 

As I paddled to my destination, I was grateful to know a canoe song to sing as we worked our way northward across the lake.

I was grateful for a childhood where I grew up on the water. Beautiful, clear blue nibi lapped at the sides of our jiimaan (canoe) as we paddled. It has been many, many sun kissed summers since I paddled a canoe…yet, when I stepped into the boat and pushed off of shore…the confidence wrought from many, many trips with my mother and father rushed back and I was joyous.

I am good at something. I know what I am doing…enough to be confident as we moved forward. As we paddled, marveled at the magestic beauty surrounding me. Completely at awe with the familiar sound of the water leaving my paddle, and the responding dip as I pushed out jiimaan forward.

Under a moonlight night, I hear the song of the water lapping against the shore. I hear the chorus of the wind in the boughs of the white pines, and the quiet murmur of excited young voices enjoying the late evening atmosphere.

Today, out here on the land. I am reminded of the pristine beauty of life. Surrounded by the essence of life at the peak and fullness of summer. Aapta-niibini Giizis, we are now halfway through summer and what a beautiful moonlight night this is…I am so filled with gratitude, love, and light. Chi miigwetch Gzhe manidoo. 

Pride of ages 

I walk alone down these empty hallways,
In the night.

Hollow faces stare as I pass. 

The magestic folds of my gown flow like water behind me,

the soft scent of lightening a quickening in my absence.

You know me.

Tall and aloof, and towering beyond the wretched,

none of them see.

I am a ghost before I am dead.

Marionettes without strings retelling the same lies,

Scripted, sculpted, and choreographed the laughter echoes.

You see…

In a world full of the unseeing, I become alive.

I become.

I feel you in the evening wind,

I feel you in the space between moments. 

Wintering here in the unknown…a storied tale spins unyielding, unending…a Universe within a Universe…

I become.

Thursday thoughts 014: Be

Fight it. 

Every second.

The gauze falls on a familiar world.

You breathe through it.

And push through.

The pain is momentary.

Destiny drew a line in the sand.

You know it is time.

This world is too precious.

Too fleeting.

To be.

Distracted.

Intent. 

And 

focus.

You need to be.

That other world fades…

Every second you push.

Every second you motivate,

Every second you educate.

Every second you tell yourself

you can be.

Great.

Confident.

Certain.

Clear.

Unambiguous.

Graceful.

Healer.

Leader.

Medicine.

Warrior.

Singer.

Artist.

Teacher.

Limitless.

Every second you believe.

Light radiates.

From the golden orb that you are…

that amazing light inside 

shines.

Powerful.

Just be.

Indigenous insight for Event organizers

No one likes to be an after thought. I’ve been invited to events where organizers actually said to me two days before an event…”So sorry! We didn’t even think to include an Indigenous speaker to do an opening until just now”. I’m glad they thought to do so in the first place…it’s not always nice to know you’re cultural participation was an afterthought. In any case, I look at these instances as an opportunity for “teachable moments”.

I don’t speak for all Indigenous peoples, and I am speaking from an Anishinawbe perspective. These tips are not meant to be Pan-Indigenous tips, but they may prove useful to organizers.

As a community organizer myself, I can understand how much responsibility comes with organizing events. It can be stressful, hectic, and full of surprises. In this age of Post-colonial, decolonizing, and reconciliational beginnings, I’ve come up with a list of handy tips for event planners who wish to include an Indigenous element in their events.

1. Start reaching out early. Relationship building is what many Indigenous communities are about. At the very first meeting to plan an event, even if it is a year in advance, start thinking about where to go to find an Indigenous Elder or knowledge-keeper to include and reach out to the local community.

2. Learn the basics. There are certain respectful ways to ask for ceremony. Reaching out early will help you to learn about using tobacco as a respectful way to request something of an Elder. Not all communities observe this method, find out from your local community some of the cultural norms. Openings are considered ceremony. The openings will vary from Elder to elder, and the ceremony will change depending on the purpose of the gathering. To get the most connection for your event, try to have an open mind, asking an Elder early on in the planning will allow for changes to the itinerary, for example, a multi-day event may require an opening and closing each day, or to allow time for smudging (a spiritual cleansing ceremony) you may want to plan extra ventilation, give notice to scent sensitive individuals that smudging will occur, or ask the fire wardens of the building that the event will be held in, to shut off the smoke alarms at the time that smudging will occur. There may be other considerations you haven’t thought of, including an Elder or knowledge-keeper early on will head off these issues. 

3. Working with Elders. Elders, knowledge-keepers, and drummers have different responsibilities. Sometimes you can find all of these elements in one individual, but organizers are encouraged to learn about the types of ceremonies they are asking for, who would be most suitable for such an event, and how long they will be asked to attend. Our Elders are super important in our communities. Many, but not all are very Elderly. Inviting a 75-80year old for an opening that is allotted 5 minutes is not necessarily gaining the full benefit of the Elder’s time and expertise. Especially if they have to travel an hour to get there and back from their homes. Or if they need a helper to do the work they do. Historically, individuals from communities asking for the expertise of a neighbouring community would send a couple of people to replace that individual while they are gone, simply due to the absence of expertise and to help out the Elder’s family while s/he are away.

4. Don’t panic if they don’t respond to every call, text, or email. Our Elders are very busy. They have many commitments in the community, but are often good on their word. Again, this depends on the individual, but calling or emailing multiple times because of your own worry about the event is not helpful. If they agreed to be there at a certain time or place, they will be in attendance. If you are worried, and you have built in time to relationship build, they will be attending planning meetings, or have offered to be available by telephone, and you can speak with them about any anxiety you are feeling over the event, or stress. This is a good use of their time and expertise.

5. A way of life. Elders live the teachings. They are the embodiment of what our teachings represent, they teach us about living authentic lives. While for your organizations, hosting a ceremony and including an Elder, or knowledge-keeper to provide an opening may be a novel idea, or new to you and your organization. To the Elder, it is likely the third or fourth among many that week, even at the beginning of the week. Elders hold vast knowledge about our cultures, but also they hold much experience about being a human being. Human beings are social beings. Everyone loves to be included in dialogue, events, and activities that provide the opportunity to gather, celebrate, and learn from one another. Elders are people too. Sometimes things happen and the plan changes. Go with the flow…you may have a plan B or C. At any rate what occurs is exactly as it is meant to happen. 

In this time of renewed relationships and rebuilding of trust and integrity. Land acknowledgements, political correctness, and fear of offending Indigenous people is rampant. 

Event planners seem to have a much more demanding role than previous organizers. I hope these tips will be helpful for those of you out there who are starting to plan, or brainstorming an upcoming event. Personally, I have started carrying around an extra pouch of tobacco to do a tobacco teaching before an event, and offer it to the organizers so they can offer it back to me. 

It is nice to attend an event where the planners know what to do, and present their tobacco without even being given the teaching first. I think these exchanges are what our ancestors had in mind way back when they made the treaties. All of us growing stronger together, with each other, not despite the other.

Post a comment below, or feel free to respond and ask questions that rise. Like I said, I don’t speak for anyone else but me, though I do have a lot of experience working in the community, and working with Elders and may be of some help. So ask away:)

Thursday Thoughts 013: Water

Building blocks of life, 

energies collide.

The spark begins, fanned by flames and passion.

Shadows turn, and nod.

Sight and sound dimmed. 

Enveloped in life’s most precious, is our most sacred…

The grandmothers teachings come and go,

Three sisters kiss the fourth, and sacred strands entwine…

The ancestors sigh, and the light beams…

A song begins, thunderous and wonderous, and proud…

The several sisters heed the call, rivers, lakes, streams and waterfalls 

A circle of voices respond…

Bubbling brooks, rippling streams, roaring falls, waves of loving lullabies surround…

Grandmother visits her daughter, and the pain is bright…

Each laboured breath, sacred

Ziigwin sighs,

And nibi dances forth always leading the way…

she covers the land and the people cheer…

New life…the cycle begins again, and nibi witness to it all…she tells the timeless tale…

Once again, an ancestor is born…

A promise to me

Pain is a good teacher.

I discovered that recently. Once again, it took a nice healthy dose of pain to finally wake me up.

You know what I did? I made a promise to me. NEVER to allow anyone to abuse me ever again. I promised myself never to allow such cruelty. In doing so, I had to acknowledge any and all abusive tendencies in myself also.

I had to see all of those energies, acknowledge them and make the commitment to myself that I would work harder to be kind, generous, but most of all…authentic.

I also learned that I did not trust, nor did I hold myself accountable to my actions, thoughts or words. In order to trust, I needed to learn to be trustworthy. So I set about the work of earning my own trust. A dream I had once helped me to understand that I have to pay more attention to my health, and so I have been doing that…it takes 21 days to change a habit, those 21 days have come and gone. I persevere.

I have incorporated more accountability to myself by tracking the things I feel guilty about, or wish I could do better at, and I review these things. Then I do better. I watch the fuel I give my body. I watch my thoughts. And exercise discipline. I’m changing a lot of things at once, but this time, it is SO necessary.

I have noticed lately that there is this explosive energy within. Instead of anger, it is a flood of tears, an onset, a rush of emotion…It’s happened a number of times, and all I can do is acknowledge it. It is love. An overwhelming love…for me…

I’m working on being my best companion, coach, teacher, friend, confidant, and self. I still have my low points…battle depression, battle stagnant thoughts, battling in an emotional war zone, battle repetitive thoughts…and I battle to find the moment. The fighter in me has never been more battle weary. So often I’ve felt the anger well up, followed by tears, and finally…begrudgingly…forgiveness.

Anything for my own sanity…and I set about creating a new path for mself. And remind myself of the promise…the promise of something better. Freedom for more accountability, working hard and earning that trust, I need to prove to myself that I am in it for the long haul. I can do this…my family, and my spirit are so worth the effort…that I would do anything to ensure their safety. Anything…especially fulfilling promises, those words to loved ones that they depend on…I need to be someone with integrity. Someone who stands behind their word, Someone who chooses family over everything else…I need to be that person for me…not for anyone else. No one can fulfill that need within. That need to feel trust…real trust, and unshakeable, unwavering devotion.

And so, with motivation…I dig deeper than I have ever dug..to find the will and determination to persevere. Even when I’m tired, even when I protest…even when there is nothing left, I find the strength to carry through on that promise…to be the best person I can possibly be…I think that is the real journey I’ve been on. That has been my ultimate goal since before time was time. To truly unravel the mystery within this lifetime. I can feel the shuddering below the surface…a promise to be me. I’m not afraid anymore…

I can do this…I know it. I feel it. I search for that one…the one that knows joy…she knew it once, and forgot it…in the darkness, back there…somewhere. I made that promise then,. that I would find it again…I would find it, and hold onto it…live into it…authenticity, strong and loving. I promised I would shine…I will NOT give up…I will NOT settle for less than, I will NOT ever stop searching…for my light, for my joy, for that connection…it feels like a combination lock that I know all the numbers to but no the order in which they go to unlock that damned lock… and I love the adventurous one that has been searching such a long time, I love the lost one, the promised one…she’s beautiful…and bright…brilliant, she just doesn’t know it…she will…I promise.