Native American culture & teachings through a modern lens

Tag: Grownup

Appreciating the Diné New Year & Seasons Change

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Ghąąjį’ bee nínáánááhai (It is the new year again with the mid-season)!

To mark the spirit of the season in the Diné (Navajo) calendar Grownup Navajo is hosting an inaugural event in appreciation of this time of year, TONIGHT, October 27, 2016.

We are holding a gathering to appreciate the Diné New Year and the seasons change. There will be a K’é (kinship) mixer, celebration, blessing and action.

I am so grateful for the generosity of our host venue, K’é and owner Pam Slim and her family who have been great supporters of Grownup Navajo. I am giddy at the thought of everyone sharing in kinship in their beautiful space.image

This month, Grownup Navajo also celebrates its fourth blogiversary, so we’ll have door prizes to share the love light! I am sending my gratitude to Beyond Buckskin Boutique, Rezonate Art, OXDX Clothing, First Nations artists Aura Last for their contributions of door prizes for both the in-person event and online contest happening now.

 

Also included in the festivities is a select number of Native creatives, sharing their work Nanibaa Beck of Notabove Jewelry will be sharing a showcase of her work along with pieces newly created! Kelvin Long the owner of Yeego Coffee will also be sharing delicious gowééh (coffee).

yeego-coffee

As I have been sharing, Grownup Navajo has truly become a community and hosting this event will make that connection tangible. I am so eager to meet more of you and look forward to the fun we will have as we gather in – Ghąąjį’ baa ahxééh hwiindzin/appreciating the new year and seasons change!

 

 

 

 

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Event Details

October 27, 2016

6:30-8:30pm

K’é – 125 West Main Street

In Downtown Mesa, AZ

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Yá’at’eeh Ya’iishjááshchilí!

GN sun

A near holiday in my world is the Summer Solstice. Approaching quickly, June 21, it’s the half way point of the calendar year – the longest day – full of the most sunshine. I find this day a perennial reminder of the need to stay connected to the natural world, a feat in the city.

A long standing tradition of mine is to celebrate both the winter and the summer solstice. The Summer Solstice serves as a special cause to gather friends and celebrate. Despite being domestically disabled (read: cooking is not my strong point) I revel in the opportunity to host friends and entertain. Over the years my lady loves and friends have joined in game night, sunrise hikes and pool parties all celebrating the joy of spending another season together.

June or Ya’iishjááshchilí means, “asking permission to plant early crops”. As Diné we are meant to prepare, pray and begin to plant the summer’s crops. It’s a cycle “always becoming” meaning we are continually focused on bettering ourselves, our practices. We have many stories of the important lessons the Sun has given us what better time, in the sunlight of summer, to note its brilliance and our necessity as “five fingered-people” for its warmth.

This month’s special “summer do” list is all meant to help to align, re-focus and make our life a little bit brighter…

MAKE. Tomorrow, June 18, has been declared National Maker Day. A day meant to encourage and celebrate the innovators and incredible creative who have contributed to the dynamism of our world. Why not set aside time today to make something…even if it’s just your bed, it’s a start.

GET TESTED. June is home to HIV/AIDS Testing Day June 27 and Native Health, a Phoenix non-profit, is hosting a screenings locally on select days this month. Take some time to practice some safe self-care.

VENTURE. Make plans this month to spend some ample time outside. Happening in Concho, Arizona June 19-22 and 26-29, is the Lavender Festival. Held on the Red Rock Ranch and Farms, this Arizona business, grows several different varieties. Summer is the perfect time to enjoy an event or festival.

BREATHE. Take a moment on Saturday to breathe in the sunshine, whether in the morning or at dusk what better reminder to understand our place in this world and focus on finding balance than the most center point of the year.

To Shízhe’e’ With Love

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Even after thirty years, I still fall in love with shízhe’e’ (my dad). He is a person who has inspired my vision and encouraged me consistently not to be content with mediocrity. As his Dad taught us to fight – for love and our people – my dad taught me to be brave. Whether it is bravery to say what is unpopular or bravery to feed my creative soul. I have been blessed to have a man in my life that has shown me the power of my own strength.

It was my dad who tied my hair when I began each of my Kinaaldás, wrapping my hair with all his and my mom’s hopes for my life. My ceremonies are the greatest gifts my parents have given me. As the ceremony instilled in me a deep connection to my faith as a Diné woman and certifying my place in this world and allegiance to shíDiné (my people).

Existing in a world which is always changing, today I send a special note of love, light and gratitude to a wonderful man who continues to inspire me to be better and for whom I would certainly not be the woman I am. Ahé’hee’ Dad for reminding my best is always enough and I can always do more. Happy Father’s Day today but know I am never without your lessons and words. I love you.

I Come from Strong Women: A Tribute

DSC_0482“It is through my mother I entered this world.” Everything I have come to understand and even question about my role as a young asdzaan Diné was first nurtured by my mother. She and the women in my life have continuously taught me the lessons I need to know and most important have shown me how to carry myself as an asdzaan Diné. It was my mom who prepared me and my sister prior to us having our Kinaalda (puberty ceremony). She instilled in us such excitement for this change in our bodies, I could not wait to “grow up” and join the club. I think my mom thinks I don’t need her so much today but I feel what she created in me is such an innate sense of self as a woman that I feel assured, most of the time, of what I am suppose to be doing. I am everything because of her and she is my everything.

“I come from strong women.” This is one of my mantras I repeat daily as it encourages me to continue to push forward and live with integrity. I grew up hearing the story of my great-great-great Nalí Asdzaan who was captured and taken to Ft. Sumner during the period of the Long Walk when my people were imprisoned hundreds of miles away from our homeland. My Nalí Asdzaan escaped. Her faith in our traditional values was what ensured her safety and because of her risk I am here. Her story is a constant reminder of the price of the privilege I have become accustomed to today as a modern Navajo woman. It is my obligation to always maintain allegiance to my family above all else and continue to carry on my traditional values she fought hard to keep.

“I am who surrounds me.” I am blessed to reach a point in my life where I am surrounded by so many women who challenge and love me selflessly. My “lady loves” are a tapestry of people whose encouragement, support and guidance pushes me daily to be better. My prayer for every young lady is to be able to have at least one friend who is always able to share in your journey and remind you are not alone.

Recently, I partnered with my soul sister Jovanna Perez on a new venture – creating a podcast which would share the stories of women primarily in Arizona. Schmooze is a show dedicated to raising every woman’s story as remarkable and celebrating the diversity of experience in modern women. I encourage you to listen to our first episode and follow along on our Facebook page. I am blessed to have Jovanna as a partner in this as her guidance has made the experience all the richer as we blend both of our experiences together to create a project which we hope will inspire others to create change in how we see women in our world.

Today is International Women’s Day, established in the 1900s the day was created shed light on both the achievements of women and the action needed to move women and society forward. Our society doesn’t frequently lift women up. Though women have had significant achievements, for every story about a woman’s success there are still misogynistic comments and policies which threaten the personhood of women. There is still much progress to be made in the area of equal pay and violence against women. So as we celebrate women, let’s challenge ourselves to act moving forward and participate in the fight to assert a more equal view of women in our world.

A significant part of my Kinaalda ceremony was the point at which my Nalí Asdzaan molded me. She pressed weaving tools and other items against my body as a way to ensure my excellence within each area. I was molded in her image and I am grateful everyday to have this connection to her as it reminds me of the interconnectedness between us all – to all the women in my life. We are the bloodline. It is our role as life givers to nurture and challenge those around us. So today, I say ahé’hee’ to my mom, my elders, my sisters, my niece, my lady loves and those who have gone before me as I would be nothing without them. To all the fly, fearless, brave women fighting a battle today, you inspire me and your work provides our world so much beauty. Ahé’hee’.

Friendsgiving

Giving thanks has long been a part of my life. As Navajo people we are taught to rise early in the morning and giving an offering as a way to thank the Holy People for the day ahead of us. What I love about this practice is as a people we continuously live in the present but also look forward – we look ahead for the goodness and the beauty. Our efforts in prayer in the morning are meant to prepare us for the journey.

My gratitude practice has continued to formalize as an effect of my grownupness. After college, I was new to the “real world” and would often get distracted by the daily minutia. As a way to quell any negativity I created a daily alarm on my phone with a note to find one thing every day I was grateful for. Four notebooks and counting later, I have a written record of the many things in my life from the best scoop of ice cream, an insightful phone call with my mom or a dream of my late grandparents. Each entry varied some profound, many were silly and all heartwarming.

Through this journey, I have continued to add new aspects to my practice. For me being grateful is a constant state. Last year I started a new tradition of reframing and reclaiming Thanksgiving by celebrating Friendsgiving a time to celebrate the wonderful friends who make my life rich and me a better person.

I’ve mentioned on this blog before the importance of recognizing how interconnected we are to one another. For me this practice of communicating is expressed in saying Ahé’hee’. Whether it is in Navajo or English or Spanish there is power in sharing a moment where no ego only selflessness exists. I think when we say thank you it is our opportunity to just “be human”.

Nearly a year ago I launched my card company the Naaltsoos Project, the motto “putting Navajo to paper”. It merges both my love of letter writing but also is meant to share the importance of communicating with whatever words we know of our Native languages. My favorite card and really the reason for the others is my Ahé’hee’ or thank you cards. I wanted a personal card which would say and carry the love and power of the word.

I read an article years ago about a corporate woman who noted the value of saying thank you before you get to where you are going. It reminded me instantly of me late Nalí who never waited to say thank you. She would always get little gifts for the people who helped her at work or relatives. She was the most selfless person and I know. If I can be even part of the person she was I’d be particularly grateful. I continue to thank her for the example she set and recognize every time I utter or write Ahé’hee’ I am more like her and that is what I am thankful for today.