Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Canada Day

Canada day used to mean just picnics and fireworks, but in the past few years I  find this a day with a lot more to ponder.  How I see myself fitting into this country and celebration has changed.  The booths outlining our "glorious" history seem a little darker.  Do I really want to celebrate John A MacDonald?  Is it really all about the glorious meshing of the French and English languages?

While the day still has lots of picnics and celebration, it is also a time to spend as a family talking about our history.  To talk about why certain companies are giving things away for free, and why certain booths are set up.  We talk about what role our ancestors played in this country and how fully they believed in this idea of Canada that they played by the rules even while the newcomers did not.  What are you going to talk about tomorrow?

Monday, June 29, 2015

Marking the body

I got my first tattoo about four years ago after years of drawing on myself.  Joel would also draw on me as I found it eased my anxiety.  Especially when I had those repetitive questions but was too anxious to remember the answers it was helpful to have them spelled out and tactile.  I even recently found this shop on Etsy where the woman creates self care tattoos with kind words on them.  I have even used this technique with Sophie at times.  One day it occurred to me that if I liked drawing on myself so much then tattoos were probably a good idea.

My first five tattoos form my medicine wheel.  I will blog about those later, but today I wanted to share my recent tattoo.  It is inspired  by a piece of cave art from Chauvet from about 33,000 BCE.  Into the cracks of the walls I have Joel's words from one of my anxious days  U R OK.  I wanted to keep these, I like the play on words of "you are ok", "You rock" and "Ur rock".  I like that I will forever have his words on me.
Shaded image of a cave bear, with an incomplete outline of a second bear below.   Chauvet, 30,000-33,000 BCE

Shaded image of a cave bear, with an incomplete outline of a second bear below. Chauvet, 30,000-33,000 BCE
I really love having myself covered in portable art.  I love how it interplays with my skin tones.  How I carry my stories with me in a visible form.  This is my second bear.  Bear speaks to me with his times of quiet and times of action.  I feel like this is me.  I feel the move from rock to flesh is also a reminder to me of my work to better understand rocks.

The process of getting this tattoo was surreal for me as I worked with the tattoo artist using a picture from 35,000 years ago on rock given life on my arm.  How would that person who drew the picture so long ago feel to see the world I am in?  How would they feel to see someone work with the needles?  To see his/her art online - still remembered all these years later?  Who will I affect through my life and what will I leave behind?  What about you?

Rising from the Fire

I started these vamps for Sophie in April when we went to Vancouver and I wanted a small project to bring with me.  She wanted a phoenix and it seems like good imagery for her coming from her place of anxiety and having to rebuild herself time and time again.  I really enjoyed working with these colors.  The first picture is the vamp partly sewn into the moccasin.  The second it the other vamp which I finished and will post shortly.  Rather than try to get these identical I made them to be a pair rather than the same bird.   Now I am trying decide what I want to work on next.

Almost finished Phoenix moccasin by Métis in the City

Friday, June 26, 2015

Children's Literature Resource

Came across this blog yesterday called "American Indians in Children's Literature".  The author does review of children's books with an indigenous and decolonial perspective.  She also review books by aboriginal authors.  I think this blog would be a really good resource if you are building your library or planning lessons for and choosing books to read with the children in your life.  It looks like it would also be a good way to keep up with what is being published in this area.

Post-modern Metis Barbie

One of our purchases at Powwow last weekend was this Barbie from Native Bebe.  She had a number of dolls and some in sweet moss bags.  Runa got a Jasmine Barbie in a jingle dress last year and I couldn't resist this one.  The post modern beauty of the ultimate European princess in a jingle dress - the frozen girl herself - her very emotions frozen like the world around her.  Could you be any more Scandinavian?  I also liked this doll as a reminder that even though my girls are pretty pale skinned  they can show their metis pride.  Plus this is a fun imagination of the metis blending of the European and indigenous dress.  At the same time I can see how someone might see this as consuming the other and the white princess co-opting a culture that is not her own.  I thought this girl would give us a lot to talk and think about over the years.  What do you think?  Post-modern awesomeness or consumption of the other?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Acting vs reacting

I am reading a book about co-dependency "Co-dependent No More" and I got stuck on this quote

"Codependents are reactionaries.  They overreact.  They under-react.  But rarely do they act.  They react to the problems, pains, lives and behaviors or others.  They react to their own problems, pains and behaviors.  Many codependent reactions are reactions to stress and uncertainty of living or growing with alcoholism and their problems.  It is normal to react to stress.  It is not necessarily abnormal, bit it is heroic and life saving to learn how to not react and act in more healthily ways"

This really hit me.  I spend a lot of time reacting and little acting.  The thoughts and worries stay inside and wander through my body creating chaos.  I am sometimes surprised that the world seemed so normal when such a storm has gone through me.  Afterwards I feel ashamed and weak.  Nothing outside has changed, but I am diminished.  I am thinking on these things.  Thinking about how to act and not just react.

Him Standing - Fear Medicine

Finished "Him Standing" by Richard Wagamese today.  I really enjoyed this story.  In particular there is a powerful discussion of fear.

"Fear is power that we all have.  Except we are never taught to accept it as a power.  We get taught that it is a weakness.  We are ashamed of it.  We think it makes us less.  But in fact it makes us more."

"It's only when we walk fully into it that fear shows its powerful side.  The darkness isn't the absence of light.  It's the threshold of light.  When you are courageous enough to stand in your fear, you are learning how to step forward into the light.

"Walking through your fear makes you stronger.  It makes you able to walk through other fears.  It givers you courage.  It gives you faith that there are bigger powers in the world than fear.  When you walk through fear, you, Lucas, become a bigger power than the fear.  It is its own medicine in the end."

Can't add much to that.  It is making me think about what I fear right now and what I need to face.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


As I mentioned before, I am living through some life changes and there is some grieving that goes with these changes.  I am cleaning out my email and came across these other thoughts on grief and moving.

The grief in trying to work through my relationship with my mother and the need to say goodbye....

i want to owe her to have a reason to stay in the relationship and the fact that i don't is part of the grief and the grief is all that is really there in the relationship and when I think of many of the very significant moments of growing up I was alone.  Alone and not allowed to talk about so many things.  Not allowed to retain memories.  Not to know truths or heal.  Alone in that every conversation we have where I rip the bandage off the next time she ignores and I am alone with the memory and the reality and futility of it.  Alone in dealing with my special child and learning disabilities and social issues growing up.   Alone feeling stupid with a smart parent.  A talented parent.  A more pretty parent.  Alone with my first period and realizing the loss of family in that moment.  Lost to all those celebrations, all those moments of ordinary and sublime that were broken with her tantrums or mood or misreading.

I mourn.  I feel the openness of my back keenly (I am working through a visualization of my open body).  The cauterized wounds of my evisceration.  Where the fish and sand have eased some of the sharpest points.  I have progressed in these five years, but the core issues are the same. Why cannot I change?  What is holding me back?  Are these the wrong changes for me?  Have I simply not had the basics in place to support the changes?  Am I incapable of change?

I am bowed over in grief.  I am swamped by it.  I am a nice, rich white middle class girl.  Well educated and resources and it is all too much.  Am I over sensitive?  Is the culture, these spaces we have made for ourselves sick?  I want a real relationship with my children that extends through time.  I want reality even thought it hurts.  I feel the wounds.  I feel the wind on me.  I feel bear and wolf beside me.  I feel the burden of a lot of questions to be lived.  I must challenge myself.  I survived this last crisis better than the one before.  It is slowly getting better.  I just want to be rid of_____.  I do not want to say the word any more.  How to mourn or stop mourning?
I ate to be sick today.  I am sick in my core.  I feel the dirt and disorder.  I fell the urge to call and the urge to be alone and angry.  I am tired.  I am bent in pain.  I want to buy.  I want to live through that to create a temporary difference a pretend better future through my purchase.  I want to rest in that neutral space.  Unknown where I can make any reality and imagine any number of futures.  Do I rob moments of time for my children with these trips?  I am oversaturated with sound and thoughts and people. 

 I am happier today.  The work helps.  It makes me feel strong and ok with being tired.  I was upset last night.  I did not want to come.  I did not want to talk to her to have her come even to invade my space with her voice and unreality.  I am still open.  Grasp in the arms of bear and world.  The spine left out, vulnerable.  I saw it as an I.  I sense that I need to know this I before I can move on to build from this space.  The I of my spine was held by her to a great extent and while there is much there I need to go in one direction of the other in order to let things heal and let the skin move back over me.

Wolf Art - I want to get something like this to cover up my wrist tattoo
 Bear I ask you to take your strong hands and pull me even more asunder.  Let the sunshine on me to bleach these bones, to cast deep shadows and dancing light across the scars.  Wolf use your teeth.  Pull it back.  I want all revealed.  I want to be seen.  I am broken a lesson for others.  A signpost.  A memory.  Oh ancestors.  Your legacy so deep and complex.  I know these truths.  I must be connected to the earth.  I live to feel it’s cold and the wind brings me cleansing peace.  I am a child of the sun.  I was made to watch and to tell back.  I was made to talk strong and with health.  But my tread is heavy.  I am tired and pulled down.  I am weighed by my worries and fear.  I long for rest to connect to the earth and her animals.  To speak to the wind again.  I will listen for her.

What I have been trying to live for the past few years has had limited success to some extent.  I have gone back on things back to old habits for expediency and for the sake of fitting in a little.  I am trying not to save so much stuff for the catastrophes feel ready to move on, professionally and personally, mentally and physically and how can I do it?  I know all the change management rhetoric, all the logical ideas for why I need to change and take up another path, yet I do not.  I am afraid?  Too comfortable in mediocrity?  To tired in all that is this current life?  Am I afraid to let go those last bond of what holds me to her and forge my own way?  To let goes says that there is nothing there and that scares me.  I will be alone, unmothered, the same as I am now but in open all others will see it too.  I feel it a dirty secret some of us have.  This fractured relationships with our parents and we don’t like to see it usually.  What if that should be us with our children?  The real fear I think.


"Women often find themselves in a caring role, putting their own needs last. This can grossly undermine their sense of worth, their opinions and strengths. In due course, a woman may come to feel she is an unimportant, silent witness to the abuses she has to endure. She may lose her sense of identity, power and rights. To survive, she may cut herself off from her real needs"

This quote spoke to me.  I feel like my needs are sort of met but in a way that is harmful to others and so I feel guilty about it.    I am on fire.  I feel the flames in my back around the bleached bones of my spine.  I will live this openness for 13 days more.  I am not going to fight the food.  I am going to sink deep into myself and listen to me and the wind and the earth and I am not going to plan or fight or push.  I am going to float and be.  On that Tuesday I am going to take some time and rebuild a plan and start closing off and protecting some of those sore places.  I want to sleep and play lego and sit at the park and on the back poach and create and listen to my children as they live.  I want to breathe and feel real things under my toes. I am so tired.  So lacking in space right now.

I sat for those days and breathed.  I let my open back feel the wind and I lived the questions.  I have come to the answer small for now.  I need to be small. To live in small and embrace small for my body, life and mind.  We spend small this weekend.  We kept close to home.  We looked after ours. We practiced being.  I am going to changes and that is my keep word.  I will keep on keeping on.  I need to bring back in the broken skin of my back now.  I need to protect my spine and that I.  I float away from the earth.  I can see all below me.  So small and insignificant.  I am left just with me.  My own thoughts and breath.  I am eagle. 

The wind lifts me up  I come down to the salt pillar at pillar lake.  A sacred place that scared me as a child.  How many ancestor feet have walked this path?   I always wondered what was in the hills as we drove and we never stopped to explore.  Gordon always said latter.  That never happened. I remember the fear of you that made us so often aware of our circumstances most clearly.  I run my spine along the pillar.  The sun shines down on it.  The salt stings.  I push hard against the stone.  I draw power from the earth herself.  I stand tall and reach for the sky.  I want to put four things in for the four seasons, directions and my four commitments to myself.  That I will not starve if I do not eat now.  That I can be small and that is ok.  That I can make good choices.  I have started out on this journey before and succeeded.  And that I can forgive myself.

I always did like an ostrich... "Omaëlle", 30x40, acrylique sur toile by Sophie Wilkins Arts
Omaëlle", 30x40, acrylique sur toile by Sophie Wilkins Arts
For the fear of starving I will give myself a ember from the fire, that I will not be alone or in the dark or hungry again, that I carry a bit of this comfort within me.  I will place this over my left thigh.  For my fear to be small, I will put the power of the wind -who does not even have a body, but who can be a mighty force.  I will place this over my right thigh.  For my ability to succeed, I will place an eagle feather over my left shoulder.  For my forgiveness. I will place the water who is eternally moving on and forward.  In my belly I put the solidness of the earth which holds me.  I am beautiful and worthy of love.  I can do things that matter.  I can live with dignity and grace.  I care for others and not lose myself and often in caring for myself I can care better for others.  I will not let things distract me.  I will not give time to those who hurt me.  I will strive for small.  I will make small as I go through life and I will work to embody small in my mind and body. This is not about losing weight, but it is about finding me that me that is lost beneath all this stuff and overwhelmed by the eating and the guilt and the anger at____.  The anger at me.  I have a safe space to be in.  Bear and wolf pull the pieces together.  Patch the red wounds with moss and fir.  I will go down the mountain with you and bathe in the lake.  Then I will find a place to rest before beginning my journey.  Thanks to my faithful friends.  The pebbles are cold beneath my feet as we come down the mountain.  The small stones slip and some dust is raised.  The water embraces me.  I dive deeply.  I will swim to the other side and find an evergreen to make shelter for this afternoon to rest and let these wounds begin to heal.

Moondance - Annette Hendricks
I need to dance when the wounds are better.  My mind dances, with all the possibilities.  My soul dances.  The pine needles smell fresh and tart.  I have found and clarified me.  I will enjoy the silence of only being me in this space.  I will learn to walk alone with confidence.  I will learn to walk with dignity and respect.  My body I love you for carrying me for so long without thanks or care.  For bearing children and keeping me going through difficult times.  Now I will look after you also.  I will be your support and let your rest for some time.  You are amazing.  I have abused you and will stop this.  It may not always be a perfect path forward and old habits will be hard to let go, but I will do it.  You are important and you matter to me because you are part of me.  You are an important part of me.  I respect and love you.  I listen to your heart beating.  The breathing, the living that you get on with even in my abuse.  I will bear the scars of the things I have done for a long time.  They will be a memorial for us.  It is done.  It is begun.
In reading this, I remember what I have to pull from.  I need to live these things and come back to these answers and spaces over and over again.  I must let go of the shame.  I have done these things to survive.