Native American culture & teachings through a modern lens

Month: July, 2014

Yá’at’eeh Ya’iishjááshtsoh

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Normally a month full of activity July seems to pass so quickly. This year is no exception as I post this I am confounded by where the time has gone. In Navajo it’s the season filled with the “flourishing of early crops”. A time when working in the corn fields is critical. This idea of tending to what needs care is something I am working to fold into my daily practice.

I am most comfortable when I have a full schedule but lately I am trying to find ways to breathe deeply and enjoy the warmth of summer. In an effort to stop the glorification of busy, this month’s list is curated with trying to add more “soul time” to your day. With a list of easy to-dos, take a stop day (or hour) to simply treat yourself a little more gently.

CREATE. Check out one of my favorite bloggers and Phoenix native, Kathy Cano-Murrillo a.k.a. Crafty Chica for inspiration to feed your inner Frida. Her stenciled scrapbook paper tutorial is my pick.

TUNE IN. This Sunday, August 3, listen as I, along with my presence 4.0 co-founders Chelsea Chee and Nanibaa Beck, host a radio show on Native fashion and style. We will be joined by Rezonate Art and Beyond Buckskin Boutique owners. Airing 6pm (Atlantic) find more on the show details HERE.

SIP. I am an avid tea-drinker. Find time to savor a cup – I love a strong brew of ginger tea. Problems never seem so bad after a cup.

CELEBRATE. Few people know my passion for noting, knowing and actually celebrating obscure and bizarre holidays. Between National Cheesecake Day (July 30) and National Jelly Bean Day (July 31) there are many options to risk your dental health.

Ode to the Desert

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I was raised in Diné Bikeyáh (Navajo land) but I grew up in the desert, a place that has taught me many lessons. Of them, how important it is to stay hydrated and (one of my favorites) how a place so hot can be full of so much earned beauty because everything, including the people, has survived such extreme conditions.

I moved here after graduating from high school. Arriving to attend Arizona State, I wasn’t shocked by city life or by how big my new school was – all of that excited me. The greatest challenge was taking care of myself. Not because I didn’t know how but because I was used to herding the Roessel clan. The oldest of four, I cooked and cleaned while my parents worked.

Though my sole responsibility was to go to class and do my homework it was a difficult adjustment. I worried about what wasn’t getting done back home and who was helping my mom. I’d think of family members and community happenings. I was homesick a lot but slowly the desert made it easier.

Reflecting on the nearly ten years I have lived here, I have come to love the land. Though winters are glorious here, I am quite fond of the summer. I love how the town feels as though it’s mine without the “snow birds” and long waits in restaurants. I love the comfort of the heat and illuminating sunshine – the power of place, home to the O’odham. I am grateful I have carved a space for myself.

Today after a very long day in the office I found my way to one of my favorite places. As I walked monsoon clouds moved in and the rumbling of thunder sounded. It sprinkled a soft gentle “female rain” on the dirt path. It’s been through my gratitude practice and prayers that I have been able to maintain my connection to home. But in the moments when the monsoons come I am closer to Diné Bikeyáh, the closest I can get being as far away as I am. As my incredibly insightful friend recently reflected wet dirt is “a smell that reminds us we are of this earth and connects us through our senses.”

Traveling recently in New Mexico, I was swept away in the feeling of being home. A grand grownup moment for this current phase of my life, I see being a modern adszaan Diné (Navajo woman), means my state of “being home” travels with me. Though I dream continuously of being able to do my work and “be home” one day, I embrace the blessing of finding home in new lands and wondrously, in people.

As I walked in the rain tonight, I listened to the rain fall and let it engulf me. I was reminded of my childhood, adventures in enchanted lands, how my mom talks of us “bunnies” being brought into this world on days that were filled with rain and as I breathed in the familiar scent I thought of Diné Bikeyáh. I learned in the desert how to connect not just to myself but most importantly to others. In a place so arid and foreign from the playground I grew up in, I was blessed with a life so rich and lush I could never have imagined…Ahé’hee’ (thank you).