You’re Doing It Wrong

“You’re doing it wrong.” Is an ancient colonial teaching that nearly all of humanity has to overcome. (Insert mystical wise voice LOL)
 
It’s so engrained that when I was 5 years old I KNOW I felt like there was a “right” way and a “wrong” way to do things. I learned very young. I was not encouraged to explore my creative mind. And, unfortunately, I feel like I failed to do the same for my kids. I mean I barely know how, so how can I teach them. To be clear, my goal after I get my diploma is to drop everything and just explore our creative expression together. I admit I feel a little powerless, but I’m doing what I can in the meantime. 
So, when I was in kindergarten, I had a Kindergarten teacher named Mrs. Pope. She also would become my grade 1 teacher. She was kinda nice, but kind of cold. Our school had two kindergarten teachers, and the other was Mrs. McDonald I think? She would be my sister’s teacher the next year when she entered kindergarten. Mrs. McDonald seemed nice and fun. I never got the nice and fun teachers. Ever. My grade 2 teacher was considered nice and fun, but she didn’t like that I would show up late to school a lot. I think I probably had some positive experiences, but I no longer remember them. Haha, I remember we were reading a book, and the word “Native” was in it, and she said all people born in Canada were Native because of the definition of “Native” and I was like, “Ok. You’re super invalidating the existence of Indigenous peoples right now, I wish there was an adult to teach you how to approach this matter in a more well-rounded perspective.” It just made it awkward that day. Lol. I’m digressing. I asked Mrs. Pope to help me with my writing in my journal. I often would get the letter N and the letter M confused. I also didn’t know how to spell ANYTHING. She was like, “Write in your Journal. Whatever you want.” I was like, “Ok, but I don’t know how to spell anything.” And she basically was telling me to “Just try.” I was like, “So, can I just write random letters?” “Well, no, you have to try and challenge yourself to spell and write something.” “How tf? WTF?” was basically my internal reaction. Here’s a moment I would’ve loved to express rage. Or meltdown. Because honestly, I felt like doing so. This God damned teacher was giving me no sense of how I could be accepted. How I could survive, essentially.  But, I didn’t do any of that. I spiralled into pain, shame, and embarrassment of my identity as Indigenous. As a Girl. As an unpretty girl (I had bad teeth and I felt like I always had a snotty nose lol). I felt like I had to protect my Mom from being judged for not teaching me these skills before I got to school. But then,  I kind of remember a “Fuck that bitch” kind of feeling, because I was like, “I’m getting help. And, if I don’t then I’ll just write whatever I want.” So, I found Mrs. Knee. Mrs. Knee (I dunno if she spelled it that way or not) would assist with special needs children, usually. I believe she was a volunteer. She would helping a boy Peter for many years, who was the same age as my sister (I’m the oldest so every sibling reference is younger siblings). But, she was a bit softer than Mrs. Pope. So I sort of cornered her and was like, “Can you just tell me which letter sounds like Mmm and which letter sounds like Nnnn?” It was a challenge, because she had an accent, I believe. Plus I was shy as fuck and quiet as fuck. So, there were barriers. But, she did her best to help me but she, too, basically ran away from me.
But honestly, I think when we’re little like that, We THINK we’re saying all this stuff super clearly, but I don’t think we always were. Especially those of us who were shy and quiet. It was super clear in my mind, though. I just remember thinking a lot of the times that adults who couldn’t understand me were basically assholes who thought they were better or smarter than me. I was like, “Hello, children are here to teach you. IDK wtf I’m gonna teach you but you gotta learn how to listen.” Lol. I feel like that’s the blessing of the family I was born into. This message was relayed from generation to generation. So, it came through for me very early on.

I don’t know why I felt so exhausted most of the time at school. I felt super stressed. And, I’m trying to understand how to get to the core of that. I feel like I have dealt with it a lot… But I think ultimately, my soul craved to choose it’s own direction. Craved some safe space to be created around that. I think my parents did a pretty good job in somehow passing on that I was allowed to explore the world in ways I saw fit, but I also feel like I wasn’t nourished emotionally. I’m ok with that. I chose that for a reason.

Astrologically, I think it’s my Saturn in the 12th… a huge sense that I must deny myself pleasure, and that must conform to someone else’s expectations of success. That feeling that some authority determines whether I’m good enough… It stuck itself deep. I believe it’s imprinted from experiences of my mother and grandmother. Physically, I think it’s represented by the pain in my solar plexus area… This ache that has stayed with me since I was 18 or 19 and pulled a muscle in my back.
I pinched this nerve when I was exercising with my friend. We were training for basketball. I think at that time I just felt like no matter how hard I practiced, I’d never be fast enough, strong enough, skilled enough to be a good basketball player. I’m Canadian. Even if you become really good as a female basketball player in Canada, the best up here would get their asses kicked down in the states. So, I’ll never make it to the WNBA or anything like that.
I also was working with my dad at the time. I was stressed there, because I saw all this stuff we were throwing out. All this lumber. It depressed me thinking how much we just get rid of. And then I’d think of how much materials we put into skyscrapers and malls, etc.  I was like, “Ugh. I can’t just see this and do this for the rest of my life.”

Boom. There goes my back.

It’s very hard to know what’s right for myself. Whenever I’d get interested in something I immediately would be like, “How do I do this right to know I can become the best and make a good living with integrity in my relationship to myself, others, and the environment? How do I become rich doing this?”
It was an exhausting way to think. And, I think that’s society’s influence.
I’ve been thinking lately, I don’t wanna be the best at something. But, I think sometimes I just experience things that way because I just think I’m not good enough.
Maybe I’ll figure out soon whether that’s fear based. Or, maybe, I authentically just want to learn things for my own interests and I don’t need to make a living off of them.
Question is, if that’s the case. How do I make a living and just get to live a life of learning? Also, how do I make my own learning my utmost priority while also honouring my children? Because honestly, I feel like I could jump into a rocket and go and learn from place to place to place, but then I’m like, “Well what about my kids? Are they coming? are they staying home?”
That’s why my plan is, once I’m done school, I will make a commitment to all of us discovering a creative expression focused life. Because I will find my answers that way, I truly think that’s possible. For now, I have to write these things, because I don’t want to lose myself.
What I recognize is that elements of my expression here still kind of are reflection of “What is right?” and “What is wrong?”
Also, that I still see myself in a pretty “black” and “white” way when it comes to decision making. And, maybe that’s ok. I just feel chaotic when I’m in the “grey”. 😀

Creativity and Originality

So, I’ve been labeled an artist. I’ve been called creative. I used to say, “I’ve been accused of being creative or an artist.”

However, to be honest, I don’t feel like I’m creative. I don’t think I’ve had an original thought that wasn’t somehow influenced by something I had seen or read before. And, I don’t think any of us have. I don’t think that exists.

Some people might be better at channelling creative energy. Where they come up with ideas without being taught. Example, all of our oldest ancestors would have had to have creative thought to be able to build the plentiful amazing structures we are all familiar with today. Even then, my ancestors would have said they observed another life form – example perhaps they saw a bird building a nest, or a beaver building  a dam, or some sort of burrowing animal with an underground home – and built based on that observation.

Wisdom was gained also by channeling messages from the life around them, example trees and stones. That could have been a source of information for which our ancestors figured out how to build our earliest homes.

Whatever creativity or originality is, I think from a very young age I was detached from it. And, once I am done school it is my mission to find the original/creative spark. I think I was severed from a very young age, because my earliest memories were of me wanting to just know what people wanted from me. “How do you want me to do this?” “How can I do this, “Right?” I had very little sense of being able to physically create anything from a creative space.

I pass as a creative thinker, but I really don’t think I am. I think I’m pretty logical and irrational in my expectations, which draws me to solutions that sound innovative. Really, I just caught bits of information here and there. What I think I have in my favour is that I know that certain things feel good and loving, and others don’t. And I go towards the things that feel loving. And, I try to understand why I feel the ways I feel. I think ultimately, my love feelings drive me to all beings discovering their inner desires and motivators, and being able to separate the motivators rooted in fear of being unloved, or lack of love and seeking it.

 

Minimum wage

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Read this and think.
The colonial Government sets standards of worth, and we all somehow manage to align with them (whether we like it or not). Basically we are constantly separating ourselves from others… When we must remember that many Indigenous peoples understood that everything is connected. Many of us will say this about “white people”… that they just don’t get how all things are life, and all life are beings, and all beings can teach us… But, by speaking that way, we’re falling into the same ideation that the Colonizers treated us with. That we are separate. We’re creating the very separation that we accuse invaders and settlers of having. We make them an “other”. Which is making them a non-life, non-being, and incapable of learning and teaching. And we can argue lots of reasons why we do this… but it usually boils down to “they started it!” So, the question is, if “they started it” how can we end it?
Well, I don’t know the answers, but we can always question our judgments, “Is this what my ancestors would think? Is this what the Queen would think? Is this what John A. MacDonald would think? Is this what the Premier or Prime Minister would think? Is this what my teacher would think? Did I even like my teacher?” and “Is this what I TRULY believe?
So, if we say, “People who can’t spell don’t deserve $15 an hour.”
“Is this what my ancestors would think?”
“Well, no, we didn’t even have a writing system. Our currency, for the most part, was food, wool-woven and cedar-woven blankets and regalia, jewellery, and products of craftmanship (i.e. canoes). Food was a right for all people. If someone was “rich” they would have owned the woven regalia and blankets and canoes. Everyone was expected to contribute, but it was understood that if you contributed you’d be well fed and aptly housed with your family within the longhouse. And, if you felt you could gain more esteem in the community, it would mean you would master a skill, like weaving, hunting, fishing, healing, longhouse building, canoe building, etc. That esteem was received by being exceptionally skilled. Example, if you were THE BEST canoe builder, and I wanted a canoe built by YOU. It would be expected that I have a lot to trade with you so I can obtain a canoe built by you. A young builder might just get food, and some materials for building tools maybe. But, a master canoe builder might get the same goods, but also some regalia, or baskets, perhaps some jewellery. Who knows, this is just my imagination based on what I’ve been taught.
So, if someone has a willingness to work, then they can be loved, respected, and provided for in an ancestral worldview (as I imagine it to be). Nobody goes without. It’s evidenced when someone in our community experiences a loss. They are encouraged NOT to work while grieving, and much is done for them – cooking, childminding, harvesting. It is understood that this will be returned to you someday.  So, no, this is not how my ancestors would think. We were all provided the chance to learn how to live on the lands we belonged to through learning the ways to harvest plants and animals, and were expected to help others in their times of grief or illness, and could expect help in return. The catch is, if you decide you don’t have to work, or support, or give away excess wealth, then you could be seen as a problem. However, this conclusion that you were either too greedy or too entitled was not came upon lightly.
I say the Queen, because she is the one who colonized Canada. She is still on Canadian currency. I believe it was my Grade 8 Social Studies class that informed me that the people sent to Canada were prisoners and the impoverished. If this is the case, I’m sure somewhere, there’s a document somewhere that has the Queen or one of her officials speaking to their own belief of these people – their own countrymen – as disposable. And, I’m sure they arrogantly cite illiteracy as one of many reasons they consider them useless and expendable.
John A. MacDonald was the first Prime Minister of Canada. He wanted to wipe out Indians and assimilate us into what he was taught was the “right” kind of culture of colonialism and colonial education and colonial identity. So, residential schools were created to make Indians like white people. And, he felt only white people should shape the minds of the Indian, because if they were allowed to be with their family, then they would never learn how to be white. I’m not joking, nor exaggerating. He enforced there was only one way in which people can learn and operate in his country, and if you conformed and assimilated to his idea of a proper colonial, then your life was, possibly, spared. This is proven by “enfranchisement” which basically stated that if an Indian were to gain a degree, join the military, or become a professional, for example by articling to become a Lawyer and taking the bar exam, then they must give up their Indian status in order to legally receive payment and operate as a businessman. So, basically, he set up this country on a foundation that there must be only one acceptable way of consuming education, and only one set of values must be upheld, and it’s very prescriptive and exclusionary.
I say the Premier or Prime Minister, because they’re the ones we rely on to govern our collective values as well as maintaining old (intentionally or unintentionally) outdated values. Are they saying they care about minimum wage? Are they doing something about it? If so, why? If not, why not? Do they feel like the collective of your province or country don’t believe that illiterate folks deserve a living wage? Are they maintaining capitalist ideals which keep the rich rich and the poor in poverty? Do we know the difference?
I say “What would my teacher think?” because my teachers spent more time with me than my parents did. And, my grade 2 teacher told me, “You’re late again Tiffany. You’re fired.” As a way to “teach” me that to work and function in the colonial society, I must always show up to work on time or I’ll be fired. Which basically teaches me that I cannot be on time for work if I cannot be on time for school. Is that real proof? Is that a real way to measure my success outside of school? It sure teaches students that. However, that’s not really how motivation works. We procrastinate for a lot of reasons, but I resisted school because it’s just not the right place for me to learn. I resisted school for a lot of reasons, self-esteem being a huge factor, but none of my teachers ever asked me why I had such low self-esteem. So, I don’t know if my teachers would agree with the idea that poor spelling = unworthy of a living wage, but I’m pretty sure they tow the line that supports that concept, whether they want to, or not. The education system has supported this idea for a long time. And, I’d like to think it creates a lot of inner conflict with at least some teachers.
And, I think the most important part to address is how did you feel about all these people??? For myself, for the longest time anytime I imagined Premiers or Prime Ministers thoughts or feelings on anything; I just felt this giant void in my heart. When I think of my grade two teacher, I feel like she definitely doesn’t align with what I FEEL to be true, but she lined up with THOUGHTS I had about myself and the world. She was mirroring my sense of self worth, and that’s important information to know. When I think of my ancestors, to be completely honest, back when I was a kid, it felt like their ideals on the world felt impossible, for even I lacked the amount of compassion my people seemed to hold, but also I was aware of the times they didn’t have compassion, but I’ve woven a story that the people who were held to the highest standards had the greatest consequences. If you were admittedly an average citizen, I feel like you were given more chances because you were honest enough to admit your flaws or shortcomings, and didn’t try to pretend to have esteem you didn’t have. And, even if you did, the proof would be in the pudding, so to speak. Our measure of wealth was how well you took care of yourself and your community. That’s something that’s hard to fake.  So, I’ve used that as a guide. I can also say that it did not support me in a loving way. It gave me self-esteem issues. I didn’t feel worthy. But, at least I know what creates limiting feelings inside.
So, whatever beliefs you come down to, just decide for yourself what feels right. The mistake we make as humans is we make a lot of decisions because we want to be good people. Even the gravest genocides were thought to be actions of what was “good” for everyone. Even insulting someone’s spelling ability is because we think we’re “good.” Some of us think that if we embarrass someone about their lack of ability, they’ll be motivated to become more able. However, that’s just not how motivation works. I don’t really honestly know how positive motivation feels, but I know if you try to insult me I’ll feel inclined to fight you or to never see your face again.
After sorting through all the influences, then it’s a matter of just sitting with yourself and having a conversation with yourself about all these people lol. Ask yourself what they taught you feels like a loving act. I think what feels loving is that we help people know their strengths. It’s important to keep the definition of worth and success as wide open as possible, so that the world is filled with people who love what they do. Ability to spell is not the only way we can assess someone’s worth. Learning how to read each other on an emotional level is so insanely necessary. It’s insane that we don’t know how to do this! If we did, we’d be able to be like, “Hey, you can’t spell fries, but you’d be really happy working in landscaping. When I look at your higher self you have grass-stained khaki overalls and dirt smeared on your face and you smell like roses.”
I wrote this blog to do my best to help people understand how my thought processes have worked throughout my life. I write this also, because I feel like I can jump to core beliefs or traumas on people and they’re like, “whaaa?” And since I don’t really know how to explain why I think what I think about people, this can show that I have spent a lot. of time. thinking. about a lot. of things. Lol. And this is the best way. This isn’t even taking into account the 1000s of potentials related to all of these things…. nor the tears shed when I would think about these things. But maybe that sort of comes through because I keep changing tense. Maybe I just confused you more. LOL.

Standardized testing in Kindergarten

You know what’s interesting… is that now it’s a lot more commonplace, apparently, for schools to be incorporating more standardized testing at earlier and earlier ages… according to ONE article I just read. Lol. But if this is true… that means that this practice has actually been something I experienced for as long as I can remember in the school system as an Indigenous person.

This could mean, that this is one more thing that the Government used Indigenous students as an experiment.

As an Indigenous student, I, and all my Indigenous peers, were called from a regularly scheduled day over the P.A. system: “All First Nations students please report to the cafeteria for the [insert name of standardized test’.”

Non-Indigenous parents are now feeling the frustration of your kid being subjected to the testing of IQ at a young age…

Sorry to tell ya, Indigenous kids have been experiencing this for at least the past 25 years. This is new to you in the 2000’s. I’m sorry. Your government never stopped its experiments on us.

Some people would say not to say sorry, but it’s authentic. I don’t want people to feel pity for my people for being the governments guinea pigs. I’m sorry that they have to suffer the same oppressions we’ve experienced for decades longer than they have. I’m sorry that they thought we were crazy when we were trying so damn hard to wake them up. I’m sorry that the chance to turn things around without a complete breakdown has passed. I’m sorry you listened to the oppressor instead of the revolutionary. I’m sorry you saw anger instead of the pain behind it. I’m sorry that you get the pain and anger on a very personal level. I’m sorry that it took you so long, because we’re all going through this shit now.

I hope to break myself free and my family free from this demonic system. Which sounds dark and extreme, but it’s true, and it’s not like I think it’s a scary monster, which it basically is… but it’s just like. “Let’s stop participating in this shitty system.” And, I think most people want to, but the desire to be socially acceptable is stronger. The thing is. People actually are looking for that refuge from the status quo. And I hope to find it or create it.

History

The loving people in my history taught me that no matter what’s going on in the world. Don’t lose yourself. Don’t lose your ways. 
When Europeans came here, my elders and ancestors had to live their lives watching everyone they loved drop like flies by the thousands. They had to grieve… Through our ways… They would’ve had rituals to follow and others would support them through that. But, everyone was grieving, and everyone needed support. 
And all they could do was make time to honour their feelings. But they also had to set them aside. Put it on a hook, they called it. They were very hard working people. They put down the grief, and picked up love for everything they had. And they’d work in mines. Work in forestry. Some, like my grandpa, managed to remain entrepreneurial. Men managed to fish… Women managed to knit and weave… But the oppressive system establishing itself was discriminatory. And didn’t want Indians to thrive. But they still didn’t lose their ways. They loved. They worked. They grieved. And loved some more. And they prayed. 
They prayed my generation didn’t have to have so much pain and loss. They prayed we could have the freedom to have a heavy heart and sit in that grief with the support of a community. Because they saw how many people had to bury it. And that’s heartbreaking to witness. They never lost their way, but they hoped to be strong enough to pass on strength for the future. They fought the battles worth fighting. They walked away from the hopeless fights. They celebrated each day. In the way they drank their tea. In the way they played on a soccer field, paddled a racing Canoe, carved into wood, wove strips of bark into baskets, knit wool into socks and sweaters. 
And all the while… The outside world has slowly slowly been awakening to the time of the world ending. 
The end of days started when Europeans brought their diseases, their vermin, and their pain… That’s centuries now that we’ve been in the apocalypse. 
But, we’ve just been evolving and growing and crying because we watched this pain unfold and spread. 
“Remember our ways” became our mantra. This world is not a place to fear. My body is not a place to fear. My mind is not a place to fear. All beings have life. All life are beings. “Remember our ways.” 
No soul is promised life unless they breathe life into themselves. 
Try as we might to save the ones who have lost their ways. Try as we might to breathe life into them. The best we can do is live in a good way. 

Sibling to highly sensitive person

If you know me, you know I’m pretty sensitive. I’m sensitive to other peoples’ feelings. I invest a lot of energy in other peoples’ well-being, and it’s really hard to change that and think of my own. I feel like once I think of my own feelings I’ll be condemned or villianized for being selfish. I’ve learned to chill out a bit on that way of thinking, but it’s hard to shake, because that’s scary. It’s hard to be selfish when that’s the very fear itself.

I have a sibling who was very sensitive. And, it always felt it was important we know she had the most sensitive feelings and we had better dance around them otherwise we were bad people. I want to say “I”… and not speak for other people. But, I feel like it was a team effort. Although, perhaps others in my family didn’t get so affected by “the dance” as I did. I’m the oldest sibling. And, it felt like it was my job to be the most responsible in the family, although I also felt like I didn’t quite have the skills to be the most responsible. I had no idea what that entailed.

We’d play games and she’d cry cuz she was slower than us. We’d slow down and she’d be hurt because we let her win. I know that’s typical. Almost anything I’d say was a trigger for her feeling dumb, fat, ugly, a loser, etc. I could’ve become bitter, and I’m sure I came across that way as a kid. But, I never WANTED her to feel bad. But, nothing I did was right. And, it was really unpredictable as to when she’d flip out because her feelings got hurt. I’m sure the same would’ve been said for me. But, I know I always cared. And, I spent a long time feeling bad about the times I hurt her feelings, and wanted to change. I think since I was a kid it’s been my mission to learn how to deliver honesty without hurting people. Or to just even have a sense of humour without hurting people. Of course, that’s an insane and ridiculous amount of pressure I have put on myself.

This is just how I function when I get close to people. I’ll speak and be like, “Oh shit, I just hurt their feelings didn’t I?” or, “Oh fuck… I just triggered something in them. They’re gonna melt down… and they’re gonna blame me. And, I won’t be able to say anything because I know I triggered them, even though I didn’t cause their initial pain.”

And, I usually don’t know what to do. Because I had no-win situations with my sister. I also just felt like a failure for hurting someone. When I was a kid, my solution to deal with this was just to isolate myself. As an adult, the feels that manifested themselves into friendship connections. So, when those moments when I felt like I failed or hurt them, in my reality it was over. I knew it wasn’t, but I didn’t know any other outcome. That’s the hard part about visualization. How can I visualize a better outcome, when I have no idea what a better outcome looks or feels like? I get stuck and if you ask me, “How can you change this to be a better outcome?” I’m just like, “How about it just didn’t happen?” lol.

So, writing is my solution for my feels. I can’t visualize more positive outcomes, yet. So, writing is just me witnessing myself. I know I did my best. I know I cared about her feelings. I know it’s ok to be selfish, because selfishness isn’t inherently evil. Selflessness isn’t the purest manifestation of being human, so I don’t need to sacrifice myself to be considered a good person. My feelings matter. My experience matters.

I recognize that I really want someone to know that I really cared about my sister’s feelings. So, I am just sitting with that right now. (I fell asleep)

It’s hard to know what I actually want. I just know of things I don’t want. And, I think that’s a wonderful place to be. It’s my feeling that people think they knew what they wanted but their desires were rooted in their fear. That’s been my experience of the world. I haven’t witnessed often peoples’ desires rooted in love.

My own needs. Well, I think my needs get filled pretty well by my spouse. And, I think I do have a desire to meet my own needs. I acknowledge that there can be something behind that, but in my need to meet my own needs – I write this blog. I know I have a need to be seen. And, writing a blog lets me be seen by myself.

I know that the idea of sharing this feels icky. That the idea of me sharing this with someone and it being shrugged off bothers me. So, I feel comfortable enough to publish, but not to share. I want this to be seen, but by someone whom it helps them feel some sense of healing, too. Or, they love me and want to understand me so this helps them understand me. And, I think that makes sense.

When I focused on my breathing and sat with my emotion earlier, I fell asleep. I think that’s a positive step for me. I’ve heard that people who fall asleep from meditation are just working through their habit of using sleep as an escape. And, I might’ve used sleep as an escape by staying up super late into the morning and then falling asleep so I didn’t have to spend time with people. And, if I’m working through that, cool. But I like falling  asleep anyway lol.

Super awkward person :)

Their are many spiritual ideals, which when you explore religion and spirituality… You come to same conclusions. The Law of Attraction is something many Nations of peoples knew of, and healers and seers found ceremonies and medicines and ways of living to help their people live in good ways based on their understanding of the Law of Attraction.
For some of us, we’re born into peoples and cultures that make you feel like you need to do spirituality in a certain way, or you’re doing it wrong. An obvious one is if you were raised any sort of Christian. For a long time (seriously not that long ago) I felt like if I didn’t pray to Jesus I could potentially be fucking up my life entirely. I didn’t discount my Sḵwx̱wu7mesh culture or spirituality. But, I couldn’t let go of the concept that Jesus was my saviour. I wanted to shed that belief because Christians hold beliefs that actually rejected my identity. My soul. But, in my moments of greatest despair I’d pray to Jesus. I couldn’t help it. Those Hail Mary’s and Our Father’s did bring me some sense of peace, and it wasn’t worth letting go when I needed them.

On the other side of the coin, my Indigenous ancestry has ceremonies and rituals for healing. But, what happens in our community, is people will discount a healer or a teacher. They’ll say their corrupt, or just plain doing things wrong. They’ll say that because they do things “wrong” they’re shaming their family. And the work they do corrupts the people they’re supposed to be helping. It’s a violent way to look at spirituality. I could use the word “hostile” but I do choose the word violent. Because it’s damaging to everyone. And, because of that, it’s hard to have any trust that you can learn spirituality in a good way. Which is nearly ironic. Because a teaching I know from most Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island is that you must do everything with a good heart and mind. And, if people took time to look at themselves, they’d see all the times they said, “They’re not good enough. They’re corrupt. They don’t do things in a good way.” They’d realize in that exact moment that they’re not living in a good way either. To criticize is unloving. And, there’s a lot of people who would argue or get caught up in semantics, or even use this against me (which has totally happened) but I’m not here to debate that. I invite you, like I invite myself, to ask yourself how you can live your life authentically without criticizing others, but more importantly yourself. We criticize for a lot of reasons. Usually, we’re trying to find a way to get our needs met. But, sometimes, people use this idea of “no judgment” or “no criticism” to shame someone. When this happened to me, it was someone I had spent a lot of energy trying to help. It was used against me in a way that, they were judging themselves so hard for parts of themself, that I just had to say what they were basically saying to themselves, and when I said it, I got seen as the bad guy. I’m not playing myself as a victim here, we both had lessons to be learned. We’re still friends. It was a hard time, but it was necessary for my learning. I’m sharing this story to assure you that committing to believing that “criticism is unloving” can be quite a difficult concept to grasp, but I know it feels good for me to believe in this idea and conduct myself as such. One way I help myself make decisions when it comes to finding loving ways to think and act when I feel like criticizing is, “What am I doing, or what Can I do, to make this thing work that I want to criticize?”

Here’s something really simple. If I don’t like how someone makes coffee, maybe they make it too strong. What can I do right now to make the coffee better right now? What requests can I make for weaker coffee in the future? Can I show them how I like it made? Will they respond well to that? Can I wake up earlier to make the coffee myself? Can I water it down? Am I mad about this coffee being too strong? Why am I mad about coffee? Is it really about coffee? Or, do I feel like I’ve communicated about how I like my coffee, have I showed this person how I like to make it, yet my needs still weren’t met? Or is this something else from a long time ago, and this feeling just reminds me of an old wound? Did someone show me, you’re supposed to bitch about coffee, so that’s just what I do because everyone else does it? If I’m having a “negative” emotional response to the state of the coffee, am I able to observe and accept that feeling and let it pass? Because sometimes people hang on to a criticism as simple as “That was a terrible coffee” ruin a big portion of their day.

I share this, because when I say “Criticism is unloving” I don’t just shrug everything off (some things I can!) without some focused thought helping me to achieve that in an authentic way. I do this regularly. And, sometimes I don’t have the time and patience. But, the more I practice this, the more that, over time, it because easier to shrug things off. I need to write this, because I do have a fear that people will think I just shrug things off and have weak standards. That would be false. I just want to live a life where I won’t die because I started my day with a shitty cup of coffee.
To get to this place of knowing more peace and love, though. I had to be present with myself often. Yes, in moments where I raged over a bad drink, or cried over spilled milk. I had to be present with myself. And, sometimes that was really hard, too hard to achieve in the moment of rage. And had to be present with myself after the emotions died down. And to understand how to be present took a lot of spiritual tools.
I’ve largely relied in introspection. And most of this I did on my own. I also sought therapy. Throughout my life I’ve also seen energy healers. Remember that criticism that I mentioned before? Well, another criticism from my community is that we are losing our ways. And it’s the young peoples’ fault for not learning them from elders. But then, a lot of elders have trauma from residential school. Which creates barriers in many forms between the transmission of knowledge from an elder to a family or community member.
I put a lot of pressure on myself that I had to learn spirituality and healing “the right way” and that it had to come from my people, but also felt stuck… that I had nobody to learn from.
As a kid I’d always been interested in Horoscopes. The idea that there was messages for me in the stars fascinated me. As a teenager, my cousin shared with me a book that his sister got about astrology. I feel like I had been looking things up a bit by that point on astrology, but this book was mind blowing in it’s accuracy of what was going on in my inner world. But, it worried me, because this astrology concept wasn’t from my culture. It was also a question of appropriation. Something I felt worried about inside, but never had a word for until I became an adult. How could I learn something that may have been “stolen” from another culture. If this concerns you, I have only two pieces of advice. Do your research, or trust your gut on what feels right. In terms of spiritual practices, I do yoga, and I follow a Yoga teacher who is of European descent on YouTube, I’ve had acupuncture from Chinese people and a person of European descent. I had an energy healing by a Japanese practitioner that was mind blowing in how much I felt the energy move within my body. I’ve had Indian Shakers (Indigenous healers who believe in Jesus) do healing on me. I’ve had Reiki done by a lot of people. I’ve had Cranio-Sacral work done where the message I received was that I had my community and a community of spirits behind me. I’ve been smudged with sage by dozens and dozens of Indigenous people.  I’ve seen many therapists since I was 17. I’ve had a lot of help by a lot of people, but I also did a lot of work myself by not being afraid of my “shadow side”. Our shadow is part of our life that is just a mystery to us. And, it’s really just working  with yourself to trust that the things we don’t know aren’t so scary as we imagine them to be. They were just scary when we first felt them in our tiny childself bodies. Or even fetus bodies. We were really new to the 3rd dimension and the feelings were fresh, so when we felt them for the first time we didn’t want to remember them.
I feel its very important for all people to acknowledge their spiritual side. They have spiritual gifts to share with the world. And, sometimes we need someone to teach us or help us learn along the way, but the most important thing you can do is to tune into yourself. It’s hard at times, because you don’t have tools to help you move through those energetic or emotional walls. I encourage you to start finding those tools. I say this a lot that Changing Core Beliefs is how I’ve dealt with a lot of my “shadows”. It’s a pretty logical approach, but you have to be present with emotion, too.  Doing work to release tension from my body. It started out with Progressive Muscle Relaxation. Yoga is really great for me. Breathwork is super important. Learning how to feel pain in your body early is very useful. And, this all seems really hard when you first wake up to these ideas. I remember hearing about meditation as a kid. The idea of stopping my thoughts for 1 minute-20minutes seemed IMPOSSIBLE. I couldn’t stop my thoughts. I still find it hard, but I’ve slowed down a lot, for sure. And how you learn your lessons and tools is up to you. When I started learning astrology, I felt like I was betraying my identity, but that feeling of criticism from my people was way too real to ignore. So, I did it anyway, but I trusted that, in due time, teachings from my ancestry would come to me that I could make the connection between this “new-to-me” wisdom and my Indigenous ancestral wisdom. However, I must note that “Western” astrology is at least a couple thousand years old. If it concerns you, do your research. I really just trust my feelings. I longed to learn astrology, so I did it. And, so much healing has come from my knowledge of my natal planets and the houses in which they fall, and I’m still learning.
I also trust that this knowledge came out for a reason. We’re so quick to say that someone stole something from our culture, that we don’t consider that maybe someone shared it for a good reason. The world needs us to be spiritually woke. And, for sure, some of us can fall back on ancient teachings. But, even if we have a lineage to them, they might not feel right for us. And, a good spiritual teacher would expect you to honour that feeling within yourself, because that’s simply what being spiritual is. Honouring your feelings. Living from love. What we call ÍY ŚḰÁLEȻENs in many Coast Salish languages. Based on that concept, I usually seek people (in general, and in healers) who carry the same belief that I do… Who aren’t caught up in classist systems. Who seem kind, and believe in all things being equal. If I feel that, I choose that. I go with that.

Tell me something I don’t know…

… That I don’t know.

For most of my life, I feel like I’ve known a lot. From my earliest memories, I had instances where I knew what people were feeling. And, as a kid, I “got” a lot of what I was being taught in school. Other kids would ask me for help, and I’d be like, “Well, the teacher explained it really well, and I am able to solve the problems, I’m not sure I’d do it any better.” Granted, that shows I had a hard time explaining things I know and understand in a different way. And, this still exists today.  But, to be fair, it’s really effective if someone asks you for help that they give you some guidance into where they get lost. And, in saying that, I’m realizing that my blog name is quite appropriate because a great way to find out where someone gets lost is taking things one step at a time.

Most of my life, though, when it comes to the emotional experiences. The times I felt lost. There was a lot I did know. I knew the areas of my life where I felt insecure or unstable. I knew people who I didn’t feel comfortable around. Or, even people I felt alright around, but felt like there were some things they didn’t want to talk about. All those kinds of things.

I’d go see counsellors and I’d share my emotions, and usually they say something that it feels like I already know. I love counsellors, though. It’s great to have someone to be completely vulnerable with. That in itself is immensely powerful.

I’d go see tarot readers and the cards they’d pull were things I already knew.

It often has felt like I’d get told things I had already felt within myself. Throughout my life I’ve known what my fears were, and they’re common ones. So, I took steps to prove they were just my imagination. Like public speaking. As a five year old, I was so deathly shy it was hard to speak to anyone but my mom. So, as I got older I told myself I’d be able to speak in front of people. I remember being in a youth conferences and they’d pass a mic around and asked us kids to say something they learned, or something they enjoyed. I think the first time I really tried to be honest, I cried. So, the next time I was like, “Just say one sentence, and don’t cry, and you’re a success!” So, I spoke, said one sentence, and I didn’t cry, YAY! But, I still felt pretty embarrassed and exposed. I just hid my face (which you can get away with as a kid as a normal response… phew!). So, the next time I told myself, “Don’t cry, and stay chill after, seriously, nobody is looking at you.” So, I spoke. Didn’t cry. Looked around, nobody was looking at me strange… So, I felt comfortable. I got to realize, it wasn’t as scary as I made it seem. I realized that people really aren’t too concerned if you make a mistake when you speak in public. That’s what a lot of people reflect on after. Weird stuff like, “Oh my god, I said way too many “ums.” And, I say “weird” because a lot of the time, they said something really amazing. And, nobody noticed the “ums” they said throughout their speech. They were too busy being emotionally moved.

I like explaining myself through story. Because when you’re someone who (this is gonna be like a catchphrase it feels like) carries that thinking, “Tell me something I don’t know” you can come across as a know-it-all. And, it also can come across as I just woke up with resolve one day, out of the blue, to accomplish something, and that I did, overnight. So, in the public speaking example, it actually took years to overcome. I just decided to overcome it super young, so when I was 17 or 18 and decided I had wanted to be able to speak in hopes of helping grieving people feel some sense of peace even though they suffered a great loss – I did just that. I had a few people tell me that what I said was really beautiful.

So, when I experienced a lot of instances where I felt like I kept getting told things I already knew. I got really frustrated with myself. Because, I felt like I had a lot of solutions to a lot of problems, but it just took time, or commitment. And then, I just kind of felt more annoyed with myself because it’s like, “I know I need to work, be patient, and commit. I can definitely commit, but can someone guide me, just a little?” Then, I decided to start saying, “Maybe I don’t know something.” That honestly took a lot of wind out of my sails. Unfortunately, I spent a while letting myself say/try to believe that. It was a dumb choice for me. Because, part of saying that is that I could be wrong. I feel like I’m pretty in tune with myself. So, I feel like that’s a betrayal to myself to think that I don’t know myself. Ya feel me? My internal guidance system has been pretty damn good. Even the tragic things I could see why I was lead to them. I think my biggest struggle is that I’ve felt so attuned to others and their needs, and would do what I could to help meet them, but people (even if they knew what my needs were) wouldn’t meet mine. I was suffering and they wouldn’t (or couldn’t) help me. And, my own thinking that I shouldn’t need peoples’ help was the reason behind a lot of that. That being said, because I know so much about myself, and because I do want to be open that there’s something I don’t know, and because I do want help. I am making a point to say, “Tell me something I don’t know that I don’t know.” Because I feel like that honours that I do know myself really well. But, I’m also open to help and guidance from another person. That I can be lead to a book or some sort of new information on the internet. Or, that I can receive that knowledge through epiphanies, or dreams, what have you.

When I write blogs like these, I feel like they’re extremely self-centred. That I am really strange. That people think it’d be odd that I find my self-awareness to be an actual struggle with living, sometimes. And, the fact that I don’t even want to make it a negative thing. I just don’t want to become arrogant in thinking I know everything. I also need to be open to help. I know I’ve limited that understanding to needing help with childcare, or money, or chores, etc. But, I am open, now, to the idea that there might be something that I don’t know that I don’t know.

New Blog

Netsnetseol means “one at a time.” In SENĆOŦEN it is written as :

NEȾNEȾE OL.

In Sḵwx̱wu7mesh it is said/written as:

men’chn’chu7.

I don’t really remember why I chose the name for this blog. But, I know it’s hard to take things one thing at a time. I’ve worked very hard throughout my life to help my mind focus on one thing at a time.

How that manifests and what it really means for me, is a confusing thing.

Right now, I realize that I am choosing to focus on language revitalization in my career. I’ve done and am doing a lot of things that are quite hard to define. Language revitalization is really easy to define and say, “This is what I’m doing.”

I don’t like being called an artist, because I don’t find myself expressing creatively in the definition that things come from me as an inspired place in my heart. Rather, I dig deep into problems in search of solutions. Or, I dig deep into feelings and try to find what need (whether emotional or mundane) they’re actually wishing to have fulfilled in their distress.

When you spend your life thinking that way, you’re open to all the possibilities and then you boil it down to that “one” desire, need, or goal. I think there’s a fullness to “one” that is hard to describe, but if I were to attempt to (over?)simplify what I mean. This. I’ve sought solutions to conundrums through looking at the big picture. And, now, I’m trying to look at the small picture. To take things step by step. Day by day. Because that’s where the work gets done.

Example, if I feel like the people I’m working with in doing language revitalization work need a mansion (or dare I say longhouse) sized home in which everyone lives and works together and are speaking the language but I don’t do any work to make that a reality. If I’m just dreaming big ideas and not focusing on it every day, what good is that solution?

There are a lot of struggles within my community. And, I believe language revitalization will help solve A LOT of them. It could actually obliterate things like abuse, suicide, violence, mental and physical illness etc. And, I know that revitalizing language revitalizes our culture. And, I know that the daily rituals. The daily work. Is actually what’s going to make all of that a reality.

So, I saw the big picture of high suicide rates, high unemployment, high rates of depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses, physical illnesses like diabetes and cancer. As a kid I just wanted to be a super awesome celebrity, because I knew Indigenous kids could really use a role model to look up to, to inspire them to believe they could know their own greatness. So I thought sports, or modelling would be a great idea. As a teenager I started going to counselling, and realized people really need that so I wanted to become a counsellor. I saw that women were not treated with respect like my teachings taught me we should be,  and that reclaiming birth ceremonies could be immensely powerful for our future generations. To bring life into the world in an extremely loving way could heal women of today and ensure children don’t have to struggle the way we all do and have for decades since colonization – so I wanted to become a midwife. I recognized that the concept of family has been very damaged by  colonial education systems, so I thought I should be a homeschooling parent. I saw people could really benefit from energy healing, so I considered many possible ways of healing peoples’ energy (still not off the shelf). I realized we have a lot of unhealthy foods, so becoming a nutritionist would for sure be my way of helping my people. And then upon that realized we actually really need to reclaim our traditional diets. And upon that realized it would be a challenge to feel like you’re honouring the land if the foods and medicine places for harvest are either paved over, or low in abundance, that we could learn to grow our Indigenous food systems in our own backyard.

And, I can honestly say I’ve touched on a lot of the work I’ve listed above, in my own way. But, I’m allowing myself to trust that if I focus on the one thing – language revitalization – that all the other things will fall into place. I even trust that all of those roles (inspirational motivator, counsellor, birth worker, healer, nutritionist, plant gatherer extraordinaire) don’t have to be sacrificed. And each role will arise when needed. No part of me needs be sacrificed. And, when you’re a mom you have to be all things anyway, right? 😉