Native American culture & teachings through a modern lens

Tag: American Indian

In Reciprocity…

As if running in the brilliance of spring in the desert wasn’t enough to be grateful for, I returned home to find a special surprise tonight. A follower of the Grownup Navajo’s Instagram account sent me a very powerful and heartfelt message. Completely speechless and teary-eyed I read her words:

“Sister, I have to share how much your words have meant to me. I have been searching for my own light and growth but keep struggling but after watching and reading all that you have shared I cried! Not for sadness but for happiness knowing there are strong, beautiful and empowered women out there…”

These words from a beautiful kindred spirit left me incredibly overwhelmed with gratitude and joy. I decided to make a Vlog especially for this individual – Ms. Lady. Who will forever be a reminder to me to share my soulspeak with the world.

Yes, ayoígo shił Hozhó. I am overjoyed, humbled and honored to walk this path with you. We are meant for this Earth shík’é (my family), let us never forget this.

Keep shining love!

Medicine of the Dził and Our Hearts

My recent trip home was everything I needed it to be. There is a serenity my heart feels when I am in Diné Bikeyáh that is hard to match in the city. I have learned over the years since moving away from the reservation that the medicine of my homeland is critical and necessary for my wellness. 

Before I drove back to Phoenix, I sat with my brother. Though he is younger than me, he fills the role of an older brother. Getting to share time with him is always a steady comfort as his presence is strong and reassuring. Before leaving we spent the last of our time together gifting each other traditional medicine. Exchanging different medicines we talked about what we needed to collect more of and reminded each other of how to use it. It was a beautiful memory I will carry forward with me, as it was just the two of us. Our parents were not around, nor any aunties or uncles. Just us two “kids” sharing what we had so could continue carrying out the ways we were taught.

On my way trek back, I stopped to pray at our sacred mountain of the west, known as the San Francisco Peaks in English. I offered thanks for all the medicine I carry within me. Both what I am aware of but also of the medicine that has not yet been called out. Being with my brother and spending time in the mountains was such a grounding experience. It reminded me of how much I still have to learn but more importantly, that as I work on learning more to heal, I can’t lose sight of sharing what is in me to help others and myself.

K’é teaches us we are all interconnected, we all have knowledge to share and within this are the answers to what can help us as a people. We don’t heal each other by just trying to work on ourselves. This is the antithesis of being a part of a community. As a community, we heal each other, by giving more love, sharing more of our light and offering more of our medicine to the world and our relatives around us.

This lesson is what I heard in our dził (mountain) today, a reminder that through the giving and sharing of the medicine of our hearts, we will find our way not only to the remedies we need but our way back to each other.

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Here is a new video recorded on the mountain. Please watch, share and comment. Ahé’hee.

Homeland Mindfulness

On my trip home this weekend, I was able to enjoy the beautiful spring weather in my favorite place in the world Diné Bikeyáh. Surrounded by showers of female rain and rolling clouds and filled with many conversations and laughter, my heart was supremely happy. Driving is a meditative state for me and while on my way home, I thought of many things but focused on how important expressing gratitude can be. I recorded my first travel vlog for Grownup Navajo roadside and in it I challenge us to think about ways we can be better. Watch, ponder, share your thoughts with me.

 

 

If you are looking for more on mindfulness, I encourage you to listen to this conversation I had with Dennis Worden. Dennis founded the podcast NextGen Native to celebrate and raise the profiles of Native people doing impactful work in our communities with the goal of not solely inspiring hope but generating action. I have long felt NextGen Native and Grownup Navajo are aligned greatly with each other as they celebrate the knowledge we have in Indian Country TODAY. For this reason, to be included on this podcast is great honor and privilege. Ahé’hee to Dennis for sharing your vision and continuing to create positive waves for our people.

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Understand, I am Always Becoming

I begin this post by simply saying ahé’hee. Thank you to you, the beautiful subscribers of this blog, for all the ways you support my work and words. I have been astounded by the incredible response to the poems I have shared on Grownup Navajo. It was an incredible challenge to risk, dare and share these words and I am delighted people, mostly women, have found inspiration in them. With this, I challenged myself to record another video of the first poem I shared on the blog. “Soliloquy of Hozhó is an ode to all the ways I am still becoming – still “growing up” in this gorgeous world. I hope you have the courage to share your soulspeak as I call it, with the world. I can truly say there isn’t a grander feeling than releasing these parts of ourselves and basking in the freedom it brings.

With love & light, enjoy!

#DearGirlMadeofHoney on YouTube

This adventure in blogging has brought so many new connections to my life. I am so fortunate to connect with many of you through this blog and each of our social media outlets. When I first posted “Dear Girl Made of Honey“, it was truly meant to be a reminder for the way I wanted to love. But even as I wrote it, it grew to be my hope for the way my niece would love as well.

Since its publishing, I have heard so much feedback from mostly women about their connection to aspects of this piece that it prompted me to want to share how I wrote, what it sounds like to me. With this thought and the help of my friend Jeff Slim, I recorded my reading of this treasured of poem. I hope you enjoy it and share it with those you love. While it will always be for Angela, my niece, it will also be for all asdzaan (women). I share it with hopes we continue to “shine our prismatic rays”.

Hai Reflections in Spring

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The agaves and ocotillo have been blooming here in the desert. I love seasons changing! I have written that before here on Grownup Navajo. But its magic never fails in amazing me. I am completely taken away as I run, hike and simply be in the desert.

At the heart of the transition of seasons is a movement from an ending of one period to the start of another. While these shifts are gradual they can be in retrospect monumental. The past six months have been one of the most intense periods of my life. It has taught me so many lessons and truly dared me to rise like a mountain in the desert.

As a celebration of my favorite season, winter or Hai in Navajo, I challenged myself to not only continue my gratitude practice but incorporate a visual element. The daughter of a photographer, I love taking photos. I love capturing a moment. Through my Instagram account, and in this last season of my life, I made a conscious effort to share a photo each day of a moment that made me incredibly happy and grateful.

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Using the hashtag #HappyHaiJac, I shared a photo each day. The result is a collection of 88 photos of my winter moments. I am one photo short. It’s the day I lost my best friend Jet, my fur baby – dog. I looked but could not find anything in that day that brought me joy. One of my best friends pointed out to me that Jet remained in my life through my hard moments on purpose and now that I was stronger, she thought he realized he could leave me. Though my heart still hurts for his steady companionship, I think she was right.

I often hear from people how they hate winter. I try to understand this but it always misses me. I am at home, in my element, in the winter. In my culture, winter is focused on healing. It’s when we rebuild ourselves through our ceremonies. When I look at this past fall and winter, this truly was the focus. I learned to risk, say goodbye and hello, I reconnected with my soul’s needs, and I began to see all of my power and fell unapologetically in love with it.

FullSizeRender (5)On the Winter Solstice, I climbed Piestewa Peak, here in the desert, my favorite mountain to hike. My spirit was heavy but I was hopeful as I watched the sunrise that morning. What has happened since then has been full of so much power, I don’t have words to describe it all. All I have is gratitude.

There is a saying I often repeat, when I find myself speechless at the universe’s outpouring of love for me – “Ahé’hee…more please”. It’s my small, mindful prayer to the Holy People. My way of accepting my life as it is in this moment. I find so much, especially in the time of the seasons change, in this month with so much earthen energy to be grateful for. From the vibrant yellow of the Palo Verde trees, to the fire in the Ocotillo blooms, life is everywhere and the desert’s beauty leaves me with a full heart and today, now, all I have to say is…

Ahé’hee…more please.

 

Hello Spring

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I vibe at those higher frequencies…

Where love meets light, where spring renews

and is reborn in the cool breeze, in the fire of the ocotillo blooms…

In the place where the sun shines,

at the point of the season’s change

there is the heart of my vibration,

dancing like a hummingbird.

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Sending each of you positive thoughts, love & light as you start this new season. Spring is the time for renewing, replenishing and nourishing the crops we’ve planted.

What seeds have you planted in your soul and what do they need to bloom?

Yá’at’eeh Dąą/Hello Spring!

 

Dear Girl-Made-of-Honey

Dear Girl-Made-of-Honey,

Please remember everyone will be drawn to the vivacity of your sweetness. Take note of who loves you without wanting more than you can be. Remember, especially, the ones who know you are still growing and leave room for you to be all your beautiful forms at once, as you choose.

Dear Girl-Made-of-Honey,

Watch for those whose words align so beautifully with their actions that you lose track of what is said and what is done because the lines of distinction have been erased with intention, attention and devotion.

Dear Girl-Made-of-Honey,

Live your promise to be the giant of your dreams, the queen who is king, never bowing down, submitting to anything less than you deserve.

Dear Girl-Made-of-Honey,

Your light can brighten the darkest places but don’t fear reaching out for a hand to hold. It’s in the darkness where touch can feel the warmest, where kisses can go deep and love of your true self can reach back into the cave within.

Dear Girl-Made-of-Honey,

Remember you come from the heavens. You are not solely stardust but the core of its brightness, your shine will at times be too bright for those around you. Look for the ones who instead of walking away or turn their back on you, sit in your presence with heart-shaped sunglasses so they can continue to stand in your love light.

Dear Girl-Made-of-Honey,

You are the goodness of the nectar, the sweetness of the fruit, the genesis of the bloom…you, dearheart, are a gift, hold that truth close.

Dear Girl-Made-of-Honey,

Remember you are beautiful and are the strength of your people, your mother, her mother and her mother. You are the pulse of a bloodline that traces the circle we walk around the fire in the Hogan. You are the antidote, the medicine that cures.

Dear Girl-Made-of-Honey,

You are a vision prayed into existence, the gift to a people, the leader of the next generation, a vessel of solutions to your people’s heartache. Continue to shine your prismatic rays as you uncover the treasure in the womb of your soul.

Dear Girl-Made-of-Honey,

You are not simply a universe…your existence is the past, present and future. You are a resilient multiverse brimming with the light of millions of ancestors and descendants. So rest in the simplicity of your greatness knowing deep within you there is only complexity of the love of the people you are from.

Shíkeyáh, My Love

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My people came from the earth and because of this, I believe, every story I have ever been told by my parents, grandparents, aunties or uncles, always starts with place. There is always a reference to a specific point in the land to set a story. Whether it’s where a family lives, “Remember where the Kinsels home is? The ridge there…” “Remember the mountain from the stories about the Diyin Diné (Holy People) and how Ma’ii (Coyote) wasn’t supposed to climb the hill? That is the hill.”

Some of my favorite conversations are ones that have happened as I have traveled across my homelands. From early morning discussions shared while commuting with my dad to late night drives with my mom returning from town. The land I come from is the not necessarily the backdrop but is me, the heroine in the story, the temple where my story and my people’s story is written.

I’ve danced across the earth. I’ve played in the dirt. When I was home for Christmas, I woke to a snow draped landscape. Waking up with my family and striping down to little cloths so I could take a bath in the first snow I was home to enjoy. All in an effort to bless myself with a life that leads into “old age”.

I believe I can feel the power of the earth move in me. I can feel the stars’ energy and the lunar shifts in my life. I was taught to be humble. To understand my place in the world. But tonight when I think of the beauty of this winter, the lessons the cold air is teaching me each time it washes over me, I don’t feel small, I feel I am giant.

When I was home in the snow at Christmas and my bare feet began to ache from the shivering cold of the snow underneath me, I felt strong. When I watch a sunrise and see the genesis of the day the Holy People are creating I can feel my ancestors.

I think often of my great-great-great grandmother who was removed from our homelands during The Long Walk, the government’s forcible removal of my people and imprisonment at Hweeldi (Place of Suffering) or Ft. Sumner in New Mexico. I think of her escaping this horrific place and her journey home. I wonder what it must have felt like to see the land again. I ponder how it compares to the joy I feel when I return to Diné Bikeyáh every month.

My day dreams while I am in the city are of the places my heart has found solace in from mountains to springs and washes where flowing water runs. All of these memories are my fuel. Touchstones that create motivation for me to grow, touchstones to help me own my power as an asdzaan Diné (Navajo lady).

For Diné (Navajo) people pride is not a characteristic that is encouraged. But when I think about what has created me. It is the land. I am the red sandstone formations, I am mountains I have hiked, camped and played in. I am the stars’ brilliance, the moon’s shine. I am sunrays that spill through the clouds during every season of the year. So I don’t ever feel insignificant because I come from a people who have learned the sacredness of the earth, the blessedness of the heavens and the medicines of the land.

The feeling I harness most as I reflect on these teachings is pride. It is not boastful but it is a whisper. Like the small voice I use in the morning when I pray at dawn. The quietness of my breath as I wait for the sun to kiss the land goodbye at night. It is that quiver of pride that I hold because it is one grounded in respect for the small amount of teachings I hold and the vast amount of curiosity I try to not to let overwhelm me because there are still so many things I do not yet know. So tonight as I go to bed I will think, dream of shíkeyáh (my land), my love, and pray for more clarity and strength. I will ask with a humble heart that I can continue to have more conversations with sunrises, serenades in my favorite places and offer prayers out of respect for the grandeur of place that is the beginning, middle and end of my story.

My Antidote: Light

Positivity and “shine love” mantras have always been my way to cope, encourage and motivate myself to keep striving for excellence in my life. The thing about being a sparkly, light-filled lovetarian is, people sometimes mistakenly think you have never felt the darkness. The truth about the light I carry, is it not only lights my path but acts as my antidote.

There are many lives, friendships and relationships in my life that have been negatively impacted by alcohol abuse. In some tragic cases, my siblings and I have suffered the fatal loss of childhood friends. Growing up in a tight-knit community you are never numb to these instances. You feel each blow and that heaviness of grief is hard to carry because you know there are better choices.

When I moved off the reservation for college and the option to imbibe legally was presented, I entered this with caution and excitement. While I was responsible and careful, there began to be a cycle that would perpetuate, I’d always have a moral battle and consistently feel guilty, so I would stop, not engage and carry on with school. Until the next invitation to birthday party, work event or happy hour and I’d try again taking part, cautiously but the same result would rise up. I understood later, that because my reservation was “dry”, meaning the sale and consumption of alcohol was illegal, alcohol was always going to be bad.

While drinking was never important to my identity, it was easy for it to fall away. But after much consideration, I began to consider what life would be like if I committed to not drink socially. What would my world look like? What more could I do if I didn’t partake anymore? The answer to all of these questions was it’d be the same.

So a year ago today, I unceremoniously, started not consuming alcohol. Having never struggled with addiction or suffered from any legal issues because of recklessness, the choice was seamless. But it was full of meaning. My decision has become a commitment to a way of life and journey on a path I am privileged to walk.

In the process, I have dramatically minimized the impact of the worry about this powerful thief of a substance. Since starting Grownup Navajo, over three years ago, I have challenged myself to align more and more with my cultural teachings. To seek answers and teachers to the questions I have about how I, as a Diné (Navajo) person, should live.

This choice in lifestyle allows me to live in closer harmony with my traditional teachings as a modern Navajo woman. Through my commitment I have created a powerful shift in my life and I share this personal journey because I am proud of this milestone. I am empowered by this decision and feel able to seize the hold alcohol has had on my life. There are many people who have had a tremendous impact on me and yet I will never see them again because of this substance. While that realization angers me still today, I aim for my action to be a tribute to them but rooted in my love of self. By reclaiming the power of my choices, I am grounded. Through this commitment I weaken the impact alcohol will have on my life and that sense of ownership of choice has added to the force of light shining from me today.