Writing and healing…

Love…hope…love….hope

Peace…joy…peace…joy…

Grief…pain…grief…pain

Dark…light…dark…light

Life…Death…Life…Death

New Beginnings…

Shiawéé in Seattle a few days before she was shot & killed.

Shiawéé (my baby) in Seattle a few days before she was shot & killed. -RIP- Nicole Westbrook

Forever shiawéé

Forever shiawéé -RIP- Nicole Westbrook

Have you ever watched someone you love slowly slip away from your life?

I walked into your room, walked right next to your side, grabbed your hand, leaned over and whispered “Aunty is here, Baby Girl. Aunty is here,” and I gently kissed your forehead. Your hands were so soft and so warm. My lips lingered on your forehead because in that moment you gave me peace and hope. Yes, you…you gave me peace and hope. Seeing you, seeing you fighting for your life gave me hope that you were going to recover and be okay. All I wanted, all we wanted was for you to be okay. I kissed you and I looked at you and your eyes were open fluttering as if trying to tell me something. There was so much rapid eye movement and then there were tears. The nurse told me all the eye movement was due to your brain injury but to this day I know you knew I was there. Shiawéé you knew I was there and you knew mom was coming. I called your mom as I stood next to you. I put the phone to your ear and your heart rate shot up. Your eyes moved even faster as if you were searching, fighting your way back and then the tears streamed out.

Witnessing life slowly slip away from this world is really hard to explain to someone who has not lived it. The phone call at 4am on April 22, 2012 plays over and over in my head as loud and ever present as the life support machine in the hospital room. One is a sound of despair and crying in bitter grief. The other is a meditative pulse, slow and predictable, a humming of breath that resonates in the body through a comforting yet disquieting sound scape.

When someone slips away from your life, slips away with death you are jolted onto a road that will take so many twist and turns, ups and downs, that you feel like your are on the worst roller coaster of your life and the ride never ends. There is nothing you can do to make sense of the moment someone you love slips farther and farther into a world not meant for you at that time.

Wednesday morning when I arrived at the hospital I immediately went to your room and when I walked into your room and saw the doctor, mom and everybody there was no question that your time with us was coming to an end. There was no struggle. Your eyes no longer flickered. They kept you completely covered to keep you warm. The machines did all the breathing. The doctor checked your eyes one last time and made the call. We were all there and we sat with you until the end. None of us had ever witnessed death firsthand (except Aunty Charlene). We all tried to will you back to life, but it was over. Once the struggle ended, you looked so peaceful. Being there when you died was one of the most difficult things I have ever done. It was also one of the most profound experiences of my life. No matter how sad, I wouldn’t have missed the opportunity to be with you, shiawéé and loving you as you left this world.  You died in peace to meet dy’ in’…the creator. The Diné way is not to hang on after you are gone. They say if we hang on your spirit may attach to a place, something or someone so we are not to bind you to this earth with our grief.  We must wash up, take táádidíín (corn pollen) and go on with life.  I love you so much, Baby Girl.

Writing and healing with the knowledge that new stories are waiting to be written. Recovering, rebuilding, loving and living with peace and a grateful heart.

Náá’ahideeltsééh, – Aunty

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It’s time to begin…

“It’s time to begin, isn’t it?
I get a little bit bigger but then I’ll admit
I’m just the same as I was
Now don’t you understand
That I’m never changing who I am”

The last couple of days have been filled with an overwhelmingly peaceful sense of forgiveness that I never could have imagined, especially at this current moment in my life. I know now…I know today more than ever that being unforgiving and untrusting is not ever going to be who I am. I love and when I love, I love deeply, it’s just who I am. Rejection, departures, death it all hurts, they are all heartbreaking and cause a tremendous, almost unbearable amount of emotional pain. But they will not keep me from being kind, grateful, forgiving, trusting, and loving – from being who I am. The pain that comes from loving so deeply is helping to make me softer, kinder, more compassionate, more trusting and has led me to honor and value life even more.

In the midst of heartbreak. In the midst of constant journal writing and what seems like a constant state of introspection I can see myself again. The last couple of days I’ve said yes to things and people I normally would have said no to. The fear of being alone, of not being balanced, of not being myself is being flooded by joy & gratitude. I’m kinder to myself. I am loving myself as I should have been all along. My life is moving forward. Life is no longer what happens around me it is happening with me, with my full attention and respect. I am grateful for the goodness in each new day.

It’s time to begin, isn’t it?

– J

Hope forever in our hearts & love that has the power to move us

The commitment of revolutionary love is sustained by preventing nihilism and despair from imposing thier own life-denying inevitability in times of social strife and cultural turmoil. Anchored in narratives of trangression and dissent, love becomes the foundation of hope. In this way, love can never be reduced to personal declarations or pronouncements but exist always in asymmetrical relations of anxiety and resolve, interdependence and singularity. Love, in this Freirean sense, becomes the oxygen of revolution, nourishing the blood of historical memory. It is through reciprocal dialogue that love is able to serve as a form of testimony to those who have struggled and suffered before us, and whose spirit of struggle has survived efforts to extinguish it and remove it from the archives of human achievement…while we often abandon hope, we are never abandoned by hope.  –Peter McLaren, pg. 172 Che Guevara, Paulo Freire and the Pedagogy of Revolution (2000)

The core value of the quest for Dr. King’s Beloved Community was agape love. Dr. King distinguished between three kinds of love: eros, “a sort of aesthetic or romantic love”; philia, “affection between friends” and agape, which he described as “understanding, redeeming goodwill for all,” an “overflowing love which is purely spontaneous, unmotivated, groundless and creative”…”the love of God operating in the human heart.” He said that “Agape does not begin by discriminating between worthy and unworthy people…It begins by loving others for their sakes” and “makes no distinction between a friend and enemy; it is directed toward both…Agape is love seeking to preserve and create community.”  –The King Center on Nonviolence

I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profits motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand we are called to play the good Samaritan on life’s roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole of Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalist of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits our with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: “This is not just.” The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just. A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: “This way of settling differences is not just.” This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into veins of people normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.  –Martin Luther King, A Time to Break Silence (1967)

Listening and Yearning for My Homeland

A dear friend sent this to me today. Little do they know just how much I needed it.

A dear friend sent this picture of Tse’ Bit’ ai’ (Shiprock) to me today. A picture snapped to capture the beauty of my home right after the rain. Little did they know just how much I needed it.

Farming, herding, walking, running through the valleys and mountains of the Navajo Nation, one can smell, hear, feel, and see the life and endless possibility of Dinétah. The wind, the life breath of the land that lies between the four sacred mountains maintains the connection between the Navajo people, no matter where we reside and our ancestral home.

Dinétah has always been a source of strength and pride during my struggle with violence in the form of rape, physical abuse, verbal abuse, emotional abuse, reproductive control, murder, and the trauma of history. As a Diné woman I am surround by countless Diné women who have their own stories of colonial cruelties and internalized abuse. Each of these women’s physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual survival in spite of severe trauma is testament to the courage, power and inner strength of us all. It is from the struggles of my ancestors that I learn the importance of going back to the beginning in order to go forward in a healthy way. There will always be a time when you HAVE to “GO BACK.”  The acknowledgement of past trauma and heartache is integral to my personal and collective recovery. It allows me the opportunity to lay the foundation for a healthy future by learning from my personal traumas of the past and from the history of trauma suffered by my ancestors. It is my responsibility as a Diné woman to understand the historic and systemic nature of my wounds. I have to learn how to think for myself and not rely on others to think for me. I have to hold tight to who I am. Who I am is – Diné, Navajo ceremony, land, what I write, the words I speak, the kindness I carry in my heart, the love I give, the way in which I care for my children, the way in which I honor my community, the way in which I honor my family, and the everyday acts that allow me to be able to maintain hózhó.

I allowed my hardships to disconnect me from my true self. I allowed my hardships to disconnect me from my ancestors. I have to “go back” to go forward. I have to “go back” to RECLAIM my traditions. I have to “go back” to RESTORE  & REBUILD my RELATIONSHIPS. I have to “go back” to REBUILD who I am. I have to “go back” to have the strength to RESIST. I have to “go back” to RESURGE to LIVE and ACT! There is no other way to heal but to un-become what I am as a result of denial, avoidance, repression, and the impact of colonialism. My RECOVERY is painful and will continue to be for some time BUT it is healing, it is my RESTORATION.

With love and deep respect,

– J

Coyote and the stars…

This is just how life works. Time needs to pass. Time needs to pass to set straight the train wreck of emotions. There is no other healthy way to learn from the pain of a cracked heart. In the last few days I’ve learned things about myself. Most notably, when I love, I love deeply and completely. I’ve also learned that there are endless things that are still reliable in my life. Growing up Navajo I’d always heard the story of Coyote, First Man and the placement of the stars. I was told that First Man took great care and patience with building several constellations because he wanted the results of the work to be perfect, forever lighting up the night sky. Coyote watched and eventually grew impatient and gathered all of First Man’s mica and threw them up into the air. They instantly stuck in random bunches. To this day I can count on looking into the night sky and be reminded of the reliable disorder created by Coyote and his impatience. Stars are reliable. There is always a story in the stars. I need to allow myself to be patient, still, and open to all the stories that are out there and in me. I got so caught up in a whirlwind of love and like Coyote was reckless & impatient with that love and it had the potential to be an everlasting disorder. I’ve learned that I cannot count on someone to know me better than I know myself. I lost sight of the fact that they may not always be around. I’ve learned that I am the only one who has power over my life and I have to take the time as First Man did and patiently build the constellations of my heart. With time and patience I can work to make sure that commitment, communication, warmth, goodness, consideration, respect, honesty, sex, intimacy, passion, romance, love and trust will ALWAYS be secure in their proper positions even when surrounded by the complications, randomness, trials, and struggles of life and love. I am learning that with patience and time there is nothing in my life that cannot be renewed, restored, or remade.

With love and deep respect…

– J