Grownup Navajo

Native American culture & teachings through a modern lens

Month: January, 2015

Shine Love.

It is hard to escape the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. today as it is the day which bears reminding of his work and sacrifice of life. There are many favorite quotes of his I have gained inspiration from, “To serve. You only need a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love.” “Everyone can be great for everyone can serve.” But today what I choose to focus on are his words of love.

It’s his belief in the power of love which echoes an outlook which I spent nearly half of my life basking in, learning from. When my late Nalí asdzaan was alive she would talk about her day and share stories of her interactions with her students. She would note the top students in her class but much of her recollections were the students who struggled. She would note how hard talking to them was or what trouble they may have gotten into. At the end of her story, she would sigh – this was her trademark sigh as it would be her entire body surrendering to the situation but also accepting her place in that moment – it was a beautiful moment when she did this. I remember once asking her what she was going to do. She smiled and say, “I am going to show them I love them.” It was simple.

Her answer was love. Whether it was a child who would act out in a classroom or someone who wronged her, she would always choose forgiveness and love. My late Nalí asdzaan did so many incredible things during her life, in her career but of the many things I treasure is her showing me that love can change the world because it allows us to strengthen our ties of Ké’ (kinship) by showing we will be here and we are responsible to one another.

Since her passing, I’ve adopted the mantra – “Shine Love.” It is the way I work to live my day by exuding a love for life and respect for others. “Shine love”, is my attempt to leave those I come in contact with a feeling of being appreciated because you and I are here. (Of course, it also shares my unwavering connection to all things sparkly.)

On this day as we reflect on the work of the giants of grace, love and change in our lives and past, let us think of our call to action. Because these quotes and mantras are only words – stagnant on pages, resting on computer screens in the latest meme – without action. How will we summon the greatness in our souls out into the world? For these words to create the next movement our society needs we need to live them out. I believe love is the action, love of ourselves and others.

Shine loves.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Yá’at’eeh Hai


I rang in the New Year surrounded by family, in the land I love and call home. Diné Bikeyah (Navajoland) was white with snow and blissfully cold the first of the year. I ended and begun the year in the way I aim to start and end every day, with a grateful heart.

Processing my hopes from the vantage point of a fresh year, much of what I want to be is better. Whether it’s a better daughter, sister, girlfriend, auntie, or friend, I believe I can be kinder and give more love to those around me. I share these aspirations in the middle of the Hai (winter) season in the “time of the melting snow” Yas Niłt’ees (January), a period of time whose cold air and weather is seemingly harsh but also reaches out to us with caring grace of warm homes and family love.

I am looking forward to a new year sharing more of what I have learned in this undeclared break from blogging. Grownup Navajo celebrated two years in existence and there is much planned for this next year but for now I want this post to simply be a reminder that we are enough even as we strive to be more. Yá’at’eeh Hai (Happy Winter).