Reflections

Transitions...what do they actually feel like?

So many times I think we (yes this includes myself) view life or think about life in terms of moments in time, goals we set, obstacles that come our way, etc... I wonder what would happen if we also viewed life in terms of the feelings we have while experiencing these moments, achieving those goals, or through the obstacles that come our way. I am thinking this is akin to "being in the moment," "being present," "just being" - or whatever phrase that suits this feeling of FEELING. 

I am definitely guilty of always "doing" something - having believed that living "life" constitutes always being on the move and that being "productive" means constantly "doing." It certainly can be a vicious cycle and I have definitely gotten stuck in a space of constant movement - where I am actually not moving at all. It has not been until I finally allowed (or was forced) myself to sit still that I actually "moved." I know this may be a little existential but hear me out. 

In a few days it will be about a month or so into this huge transition of mine. I am talking a geographical, physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional transition. Within these past few years I have been really trying to listen to my intuition/spirit in how I decide to move in the world - so when this current career opportunity presented itself, it felt right and deciding to transition was an easy one. I was beyond excited to be able to work with my communities and come "home" - overall everything has felt "right" and on time (whatever that means).  What I wasn't expecting or really thinking about was what this "transition" would feel like. 

I am a firm believer that we all have journey's to walk and that those journey's have already been chartered out - and that gives me solace into my "moments in time." I certainly have stopped and reflected back on those moments and made sense of what those meant for me but I have never stopped in the moment to think about what those moments feel like. Like now, I am in this huge transition and I can understand it mentally and spiritually but have yet to understand what my emotions and heart are saying/feeling about it. I know I feel different and I know something is happening. But how do I make sense of those feelings or do I even make sense of them? I am starting to wonder what would it feel like if I actually let myself be "present in my feelings" and how that might translate into my greater sense of self. 

We are not transforming into something better or more worthy. We are transforming out of everything we are not. We are transforming Into the fullness of who we we truly are, who we have always been. So allow the true essence of you to finally step forward fully.
— Healing Energy Tools via Instagram

13 days before 33

Last night, 13 days before my 33rd birthday I was reflecting - reflecting on how as a young person you envision your life a certain way, shoot...how even last year or last week you envision your life in particular ways. With some sudden changes in my life these last few weeks, it reminded me is how quickly life can change and how you never really know what is going to happen or what journey we are meant to walk on. As I step into my 33rd year around the sun, my life is nothing like any of my previous visions and for that I have so much gratitude. Gratitude for all of the lessons and growth. One of my dear friends gifted me with Rupi Kaur's the sun and her flowers - and her poems touched me in ways that inspired a lot of insight and reflection. As I come to the close of my 32nd year below are 13 reflections inspired by 13 of her poems. 

-irreplaceable

"the universe took its time on you crafted you to offer the world something different from everyone else when you doubt how you were created you doubt an energy greater than us both"

With the way social media has infiltrated our world and our perceptions of others, its hard to not compare our lives to others. There were times where I sought validation and insight within these spaces. Most often times than not, it made me feel worse - feeling unfulfilled or envious of things I thought I wanted or I should be doing in life; as if I would be happier or I would find my purpose by ingesting other people's narratives on social media. These last few years and more significantly this last year, I feel like I have developed a strong sense of self, honoring my originality - believing that the creator made me uniquely so that I could walk the path that has been already set for me. 

acceptance

"if i am the longest relationship of my life isn't it time to nurture intimacy and love with the person i lie in bed with each night"  

Over that past two years or so, I have often told people that I am in a really good relationship with myself, having a good sense of self love. Offering that "I treat my self really well and that my partner needs to be able to treat me as well or better" - (my sis even wrote a piece about this for the Root "#MeCrushMonday: The Audacity of Loving Yourself"). Having to be able to come to a better understanding of my relationship with myself, has not gone without its challenges or growing pains. A large part of overcoming those challenges was 1) breaking down the socially constructed ideas of what it means to be a Native women, to be educated, to be a "good" person, to be in a relationship, to be single, to be a mom, to not be a mom, to be successful (really the list could go on for days)...2) to accept that I am me and no one else can or will ever be me...3) that I am a human being, always constantly evolving and growing.  

- growth is a process

"you do not just wake up and become the butterfly"

Growth and evolution is hard, it takes work and its always constant. Learning to accept my growth and growing pains has humbled me and helped me to feel gratitude for all of my life experiences. Its hard to take every experience as a lesson, because some of the greatest lessons are the hardest ones to experience. 

-it is speaking to you

"trust your body it reacts to right and wrong better than your mind does" 

In the last few months I have been challenging myself to be courageous enough to feel my feelings, speak my truths, and be at peace with my journey. A part of feeling my feelings is trusting my intuition, you know the gut feeling that we can't explain how or why it came but we know its there, yeah that thing. I have always said I have a strong intuition, I think that is a bit of a misrepresentation. I think we all have strong intuitive capacities, we just have to stop and listen to them. For a long time, I have provided space to stop and listen to my intuition, sometimes listening to it and sometimes ignoring it. Most recently I have been trying to listen more closely, so I can sit with my feelings and feel.

(soul sisters - my title - not Rupi's)

"it isn't blood that makes you my sister it's how you understand my heart as though you carry it in your body"

I have and continue to be surrounded by amazing women in my life. From coming from a long line of strong women in my family and my community to the universe placing my amazing soul sisters in my life, I have always had the great fortune to be in community and learn from strong women. I am who I am because of these women, they love me, protect me, ride for me, support me, challenge me, and grow with me in ways that I could never ever have imagined. They have helped to build the strong durable fabric that is me and for that I am forever indebted.  

community

"when the world comes crashing at your feet its's okay to let others help pick up the pieces if we're present to take part in your happiness when your circumstances are great we are more than capable of sharing your pain" 

Often times as women of color and Native women we feel the need to be strong and take care of other people as well as ourselves. That can be a heavy weight to carry, there were times when that weight would get heavy for me, and I would get overwhelmed and exclaim "I know I am strong but I am human too!" For the fear of not "being strong" I would choose to "figure" things out by myself and just get through it, because that is what "we" do. Most recently, as I was allowing myself to feel my feelings - I opened up to my community. I  was met with overwhelming support and love (not that I expected anything different), it was so beautiful to know that they were there for me to "help pick up the pieces" when I let them. Growth.  

- family 

"what good am I if I do not fill the plates of the ones who fed me but fill the plates of strangers" 

Family and community have always been super important to me and I am grateful for all of the community that I have in my life. In my 20's I feel like I was more self-centered, focused on my "goals" and on this "crafted" future I had for myself. But as I shifted my focus to being more attentive to the "process" and the "journey," being closer to my family became very important to me. I joke and tell people that I don't want to be out in "streets" like that anymore, instead I want to be around my nieces, nephews, god-children, cousins, friends, etc. Its been 15 years since I have been "away" and it is time for me to come home. 

- honor your roots

"remember the body of your community breathe in the people who sewed you whole it is you who became yourself but those before you are a part of your fabric" 

While I am always very proud to be a Menominee women, I think these last few years I have been trying to be more intentional on understanding what that truly means. I want to be able to pass down Menominee teachings and language to my children, so they can pass it down to their children, and their children pass it down to their children, etc. Having a more comprehensive understanding of the impact and continued effects of colonialism, I believe its my responsibility to carry on those traditions. These next 30 years I want to dedicate myself to learning as much as I can.

-progress

"Our work should equip the next generation of women to outdo us in every field this is the legacy we'll leave behind" 

I have often said that I did not get this Ph.D. to be called doctor - I did it to serve my community, I did it to uplift and set a foundation for the next generation to come. I could not have gotten where I am without the hard work of those before me and I feel like its my responsibility to walk in a good way, to uphold and pass on the legacy of my ancestors. While I don't know what lies ahead of me in my journey, I am hopeful that in whatever path that comes before me that I can lay or add to the foundation already set by those before me. 

 - this will free you both

"wish pure love and soft peace upon ones who've been unkind to you and keep moving forward"

This lesson has been a hard one to actualize. It's hard not to get wrapped up and consumed by negativity. A few years ago, I came across this quote "how people treat other people is a direct reflection of how they feel about themselves." This really stuck with me and helped me to be more compassionate of people and their circumstances, trying not to take things too personally and offer as much grace as I am able to. 

-pace yourself

"the road to changing the world is never-ending" 

Often times I try to take on the world and try to be super woman - juggling a million things at once.  We live in such a fast pace world and for me, at times, I felt like if I slowed down, I was going to miss out on something or fall behind. However in these last few months I have tried to slow down a bit. Slowing down enough to be present to enjoy and taken in as much I can around me. 

"what is the greatest lesson a woman should learn"

"that since day one she's already had everything she needs within herself its the world that convinced her she did not"

This most certainly has been one of the greatest lessons that I have been blessed to learn thus far and I feel like it actually encompasses a lot of the insights above. I am all I need. 

the sun and her flowers

"this is the recipe of life said my mother as she held me in her arms as i wept think of those flowers you plant in the garden each year they will teach you that people too must wilt fall root rise in order to bloom"

As I enter into 33, I look forward to wilting, falling, rooting, rising and blooming. 

Soul Shaking: Reflections on A Wrinkle in Time

Different from my "normal" routine yesterday morning, I decided to listen to The Breakfast Club  and happen to catch Ava DuVernay's interview, particularly some of her thoughts about her movie opening yesterday,  A Wrinkle in Time - she said:

"Young people...they inspire me because I look at them and I say if we can get it right with them, then by the time when we are old and we need some taken care of as a country, as a family, as a community we have got some kids that will understand the legacy that they uphold and understand the things that we need, you create empathetic, solid strong kids now...that is what this film is, it really is a love letter to our kids - to focus on the things that matter..."

I thought to myself well that was dope - the universe saw it fit for me to listen to Ava's interview  before going to see this movie with one of my best friends.  When I tell you that this movie was so amazingly-beautiful - it shook my soul and being to my core. There were a few times I was beyond emotional - I only held it together because I was in a theater with other people, but could very well have broken all the way down (like ugly-breaking down-cry). I know you are probably thinking, this is a Disney movie targeted towards children and not full grown women.  People that know me, know that I truly believe in the universe and a divine purpose, and that we have a journey already charted out for us, and that it is up to us to be accepting of it.  Last night, this movie provided one of those divine moments for me, I walked away feeling all types of emotions...but ultimately truly inspired and motivated.

Without giving away too much (because with any piece of art, I feel like people should experience it for themselves and take away from it what they are supposed to), when I tell you Miss Ava encapsulated a lot of the things I have been thinking about when it comes to community, love, and healing within this very amazingly-beautifully crafted film. While I was experiencing (because its was an EXPERIENCE for sure) the film, I felt like she had interpreted all of my recent work and thoughts, and crafted them with so much love and intent into this film.  I felt so in tune with her message (hence - almost breaking down) of working to spread light and positivity to heal a world filled with so much hurt and violence. She mentioned in her interview "you have to put positivity in the world and people will find it, people who are looking for it..."well Miss Ava I found it and so much more. 

This movie reminded me of my time at Lawrence University  - my ultimate message was around "just being a good person" - and recognizing that there have been systems built as a result of colonization that have significantly impacting and shaped our experiences. I have been wrestling with this idea of "community" and using it has a tool of empowerment, and as I processed more, I connected it to ideas of decolonization - and re-envisioning our lives past our colonization. In particular using Indigenous knowledge to do so, connecting social justice to "our" seven sacred teachings of living a life full of compassion, kindness, generosity, respect, strength, gratitude, and humility. When I tell you I felt like Miss Ava was saying the same thing in the film - I could barely process it with my best friend afterward without getting emotional - I barely got the words out to her without crying.  Call it a "coincidence" or some sort of divine intervention but in my heart of hearts the universe and Creator brought everything together in perfect harmony last night and for that I am forever grateful and blessed. For that, Miss Ava DuVernay I am wholeheartedly thankful for your insight, intent, and inspiration.

We have a saying in the Native community - "the seventh generation" in most times in reference to this idea that whatever we do is going to impact the generations to come - after hearing Ava's interview and seeing the movie, I truly believe this movie is a "love letter" to our "seventh generation" to just be good people.  Maec Waewaenen Ava!