I Wake In Gratitude


My eyes are soaked in the beauty, sorrow, resiliency, history and power of Dinétah. Take the time to get to know what my eyes see and you will see that each day I wake in gratitude,

My heart is molded with the love, attention, strength, wisdom, patience and tenderness of my ancestors. Take the time to get to know what my heart feels and you will feel that each day I wake in gratitude.

The swirls in my fingertips and in my toes bind me to my place, to Dinétah. Take the time to get to know my connection to the land and you will know that each day I wake in gratitude.

I was home this weekend. I was in the place of my ancestors, my elders, my grandparents, my parents, my brothers and sisters. I was in the one place that will always recognize me.

Each step on my run this weekend made me more grateful for forgiveness, trust, kindness, truth, peace, joy, love and strengthened my connection/respect to the land.

I wake in gratitude,

Shiprock Marathon & Half Marathon – 2014 – my hometown, my place. I finished in 2:15 yéégó!

The people of the Navajo Nation Welcome You - Shiprock Marathon & Half Marathon

The people of the Navajo Nation Welcome You – Shiprock Marathon & Half Marathon







Tse'Bit'ai (Rock with wings)

Tse’Bit’ai (Rock with wings)







Posing with my medal

Posing with my medal














Pre-race stretch

Pre-race stretch


My post race binge. Trying to decide between burgers at Shiprock's Chat & Chew

My post race binge. Trying to decide between burgers at Shiprock’s Chat & Chew











Thoughts About Changes and New Beginnings


My sister on October 12, 2005


Alan (Marshal) Westbrook from Shiprock, New Mexico KIA 10-01-2005


In memory of my niece, Nicole Westbrook


Me and the little man of my life, Chad Westbrook (my nephew)


My little man, C. Westbrook

Marshall Westbrook, a 43-year-old sergeant in the New Mexico National Guard, was killed when a roadside bomb exploded under his Humvee in Iraq on October 1, 2005.

His 41-year-old brother, Kenneth, died in 2009 of injuries he suffered in a firefight in Afghanistan.

On April 22, 2012 a bullet had struck Nicole’s left cheek and shattered her spine. Her heart stopped, depriving her brain of oxygen. Nicole Westbrook’s heartbeat was restored, but she never regained consciousness. On Wednesday morning  April 25, 2012, we watched her die.

My sister Joleen Westbrook has lost her husband Alan, attended his brother Kenneth’s funeral, and braided her daughter Nicole’s hair for the last time as  she lay on her hospital bed declared brain dead.

My sister has been through all this and today I received an amazingly heartfelt message from her titled: I know you’re wondering what will happen in…The next chapter of your life.

She told me to just do my best and to stay strong enough to move ahead, because there are some wonderful rewards waiting for me. She said it won’t make sense right away, but over the course of time answers will come and decisions will be proved to have been the right ones. She said don’t give up on hope. Don’t give up on love.   She said “continue to put things in perspective like you always do.” “You are strong, sister” she said *crying*.

Hands down, watching my sister scream with grief and lose herself has been the most difficult thing that has come with the loss of Alan and Nicole. Alan and Nicole’s death continues to be one of the first things she reminds herself of when she wakes up, and it continues to be one of the last things she thinks about before she falls asleep; it  continues to consume her. But somehow she is able to reach out to me in a way only a sister can and offer me what is left of her heart and love me, dearly.

My sister is one of the strongest people I know and she gives me the strength to keep moving forward, to not settle and accept that I deserve goodness, honesty and true love. She is not perfect and is struggling yet she opens her eyes to each new day and today she touched me.

Thank you sister for loving me…

– J.