wearehumanityFor days I had been having this sense of grief and anxiety. I was referring to it as “feeling blue” – mostly because I didn’t want to use the word depression, and I couldn’t find the right words to describe what I was feeling. As an empathetic person, with a good intuition, I was ‘checking in’ to the field of energy around me and trying to figure out what was going on. Sometimes, the feelings don’t make any sense. It was a very heavy and bad feeling, and it wouldn’t go away, no matter how many times I prayed prayers of peace. What I could perceive in my ‘field’, where my family and friends live, seemed to be fine, but that feeling persisted.

Today, I understand what I was feeling. This is a gift that my mom also had. For her, it was extremely frustrating to get these feelings ahead of time and not be able to do anything to prevent the tragedy about which she was sensing. Last night was the first time that I felt that same frustration. Why couldn’t I have been more tuned in and been able to speak more specific words? Why didn’t I devote more time to the deep meditation and practices I know work? Quickly, though, I came to the realization that today is about learning the lesson and doing the work that is left to do. To try to bring healing energies into this field and make way for wisdom in this aftermath. It’s smarter to learn a lesson about doing the work ahead of time, and not to get caught up in the frustration. Just to be clear, writing and speaking words feels like a vain and lame part of the work.

There are a lot of lost, critically wounded souls walking around right now. I’m one of them. But I see a light, and that light is telling me to keep lighting candles, keep praying wisdom prayers, keep speaking peace to anger so that it transforms from violent/retributive anger to sacred anger. One destroys. The other heals. And moves us forward. So, I do the work, alongside many, many others who are also doing the work. Praying. Shifting. Crying. And I will be calling my government representatives.

We have to stand up and say enough is enough. I am tired of having conversations with people, explaining why a weapon of war should AT LEAST require a background check. I know I can’t change someone’s heart who gets their jollies firing an automatic weapon for sport, but I will be damned if I stand by while the murder of innocent people continues to be that sport. So, at the very least, we must say that this is the TIME for us to make people go through a background check. We have no more excuses. Any inaction past this date that leaves us in our current paradigm is straight up black-hearted and cold-hearted inhumanity. 

‪#‎DemandAPlan‬ ‪#‎Enough‬
Please call your Senator & Representative tomorrow and demand a plan of action. https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials
‪#‎CallToAction‬ ‪#‎BeASuperHero‬ ‪#‎BeTheChange‬

One last thing I want to offer – are words from a book called “The Alchemy of the Heart” by Michael Brown. There is a lot of talk about revolution, and yet, I don’t think revolution is the highest action we can take. I bought this book several years ago. All attempts to read it were in vain. Last night, that changed.

In the Introduction, he makes some very profound distinctions that I think can help us move forward. I’ll use his words, since they are much better.

“It {the process in the book} empowers us to transform the quality of our human experience by revealing the alchemical role of our heart. The perceptual journey it initiates inspires a movement of our awareness from revolutionary to effortless evolutionary behavior

By continuing to behave as if we can authentically transform our circumstances through imposing our will upon the outside world, we constantly enter revolutionary behavior. The very word ‘revolutionary’ reveals the outcome – we inevitably revolve into similar circumstances from which we are attempting to extricate ourselves, and often worse.

A revolutionary approach is born of a mentality that seeks to liberate itself with the same approach that it perceives to be the cause of its suppression. By resorting to this reactive mentality, a revolutionary always becomes an oppressor. This in turn seeds a whole new crop of revolutionaries.

Alchemy of the Heart invites us to consider the option of evolutionary behavior, an approach to adjusting the quality of our human experience that doesn’t lead us back in the experiential circumstances from which we seek liberation, but it takes us beyond.”

There’s much more, but I’ll stop there and encourage you to pick up the book yourself. Even if you don’t read the whole thing, there are pieces of wisdom that you can land upon just browsing and the book itself is energetically healing. If you only take one thing from that section, I hope that it is this….


Let us evolve into the loving, compassionate and wise human beings we were meant to be.


where i live….

its true…I live above a working port. A port that has historically been heavily industrialized. Call me crazy, but it seems to me that two major superfund projects and about 75 years of environmental degradation tells us that’ working port’ should no longer mean ‘environmentally irresponsible’ port.

I am Anishinaabe-kwe – an Ojibwe woman. I have a responsibility to my relative Nbi (water). My teachings (which were semi-aborted as a result of “kill the indian, save the man” policies) are that I have a responsibility to maintain a healthy reciprocal relationship with Nbi. My teachings are that we leave a place better than we found it; that we honor the sacrifice our relatives have made for us; that we honor the gifts that Nbi gives to us with ceremony and practice. Nbi is life.

port of tacoma

This is not my territory. This is the territory of my close relatives: the Puyallup, Muckleshoot, Nisqually, and the Duwamish. I honor their relationship to this relative and stand by their side to protect our relative. To honor our relative. To give gratitude to our relative.

I’m not opposed to progress. I’m opposed to progress that doesn’t honor our responsibility to the sacredness of our relationships. As Anishinaabe-kwe, I have to think about ALL the other beings who are impacted by decisions and interactions with Nbi. It’s a holistic viewpoint, but the word holistic tends to deprive the matter of the emotional and energetic weight it should be afforded. This is why I rely on the language of relationship.

We no longer have to buy in to the idea that the promise of an ‘economy’ gives a free pass to industry to inflict damage on our more-than-human relatives.


where the reciprocal relationship is…



Image via theveiloftime.com

Some may consider it a curious thing for a person to identify with more than one ancestry. For me, it’s just par for the course. 16 April was spent remembering the battle at Culloden Moor in Scotland; the last Jacobite uprising and what led to the eventual destruction of the Highland way of life. I say ‘destruction’ but I know that through the course of time integral pieces of the Highland culture have survived. More than just survived, they have been curated, nurtured, even if only in a quiet, dark room. The whispers of our ancestors also play an important role in keeping the cultures and traditions alive and relevant.

Last Saturday morning, I spent time in the waters of Commencement Bay, as Anishiinaabekwe, speaking words to Mni. Words of giizaagiin (love), words of maamoyaawendamowin (gratitude), asking forgiveness. Asking for my ears, eyes and heart to be opened….and courage if it is to be my place to help restore the reciprocal relationship between humans and our more-than-human relatives. Affirming my relationship and responsibility to my more-than-human relative, nbi.

Nbi was very gracious. Cold, but loving. I stood knee-deep in nbi, watching the ebb and flow. Listening with the ears behind the ears. Trying to see with the eyes of my spirit. The language of mni is much different than what we are used to comprehending, but I feel like I was able to get at least a tiny glimpse of how she communicates. The ripples on the surface are a very distinct language.

Reciprocal relations.

I’m very careful to remember that the teachings I have, though important, are not formally passed down. I remind myself to be very careful with how I practice my beliefs, because not being well-educated in the protocols has the potential to damage instead of heal. I try to approach my healing practices from a place of humility and respect. Foremost in my approach is the knowing that there is so much “I don’t know that I don’t know”. Respect is essential, so as to not find myself cross-wise with my more-than-human relatives, or anyone else, for that matter.

These is much to heal, in our world. My thoughts on Culloden Moor…Sand CreekWounded Kneethe Dakota 38: not ancient history. Not when the science of epigenetics is starting to reveal that trauma is passed down through the DNA. It is as present today as when our ancestors experienced it.

I believe that we have a beautiful opportunity now to heal what damage has been done. We must work to heal, of sound spirit and mind, as much as possible. But we must find a new way to do the healing. Historically, the path has involved blaming and shaming, but that has only gotten us so far. In fact, I would say that we live with the results of centuries of blaming and shaming and, to my mind, it’s gotten us nowhere near to living as healed, real human beings. Acknowledging and forgiving are key….and in order for both to happen, a spirit of reciprocity must be nurtured.

We have work to do, now. When our ancestors looked at their environment and saw that their more-than-human relatives were not well, they knew that they needed to get to work healing the reciprocal relationship between their communities and the communities of the more-than-human relatives. Their ceremonies were integral parts of rebuilding respect and facilitating healing. But their ceremonies were outlawed and forbidden. Huge chunks of wisdom and knowledge passed away.

But all is not lost. I believe that, like the trauma that is passed down through the DNA, so is the wisdom and the knowledge of the ceremonies. Not only must we remember with those who have curated and nurtured the ceremonies and the traditions, even if only in a quiet, dark room….we must also heal ourselves so that the wisdom and the ceremonies, which live in our DNA, can come to the surface and heal our communities. The ceremonies and traditions, the language – they are the keys to having healthy reciprocal relationships with each other and our more-than-human relatives.

Acknowledging and forgiving. Fostering a spirit of reciprocity.

Agegish wii-zhawenimish Manidoo. Go mbeannaí Dia duit.

Where art creates space for life

Years ago, I watched a documentary about the fight Native Hawai’ians had undertaken to restore the sovereignty of their nation, which had illegally been stolen from them. It was a powerful documentary, and sadly I don’t recall the title of the work. What I do recall is a statement made that detailed how Native Hawai’ian culture was so efficient in yheir work that all their physical needs could be satisfied by a work day of four hours. The rest of their time was then devoted to family and culture development, including the devotion of time to artistic endeavors. 

A monumental paradigm shift of awareness occurred for me with that statement. Art is creation. Not just the creation of a piece of art. Art is a process of creating life. Where the space for a full and loving life is created….when people sing, write, draw, weave, mold, build they are making so much more than objects. My understanding includes the idea that art creates reality. Art doesn’t imitate life, to my way of thinking. Art creates life. 

We live in a reality where we are not afforded the time or space to create our realities using whatever artistic abilities we each possess. An argument can be made that we can make our “work” an art, and I will agree to an extent with that argument, saving a piece of debate for the question about who benefits from what we create in our “work”. 

We are fortunate enough to have people and organizations that still make time and space for those who are able to create life through art. And, to that end, I would like to present two opportunities for you to support these people and their organizations. 

First, consider the “Weaving a New Future” campaign currently underway for the Longhouse Fiber Arts Studio on the Indigenous Arts Campus of The Evergreen State College Longhouse. For over 20 years, the TESC Longhouse team has been creating space for Indigenous Arts, where talents could be developed and shared and creation could transpire. There are only a few more days in their campaign, and they could use the support. If you can’t support (and every little bit helps), please spread the word far and wide. I’m proud to support them. 


Secondly, consider making a donation to the Morgan Family Y. Because of the Y, so many kids in the community have the opportunity to experience art and to develop their creative capacities. The Y does so many more things in the community, and I consider it a worthy investment. A little goes a long way, and kindly spread the word far and wide. 


of bark and bone….

of bark and bone

A recent trip to the water for a very special ceremony found me carrying home some sea-soaked bark and a sea-bleached bone. There is great synchronicity in life, when one is disciplined and able to pay attention.

This morning’s meditation was a lesson in perseverance. Because I have been working so much, I haven’t been carving out the time to sit. I still do some form of meditation and prayer, even if the sage and candles aren’t lit. Kind of a continual conversation, when I find myself stressed or anxious. It’s a good back up plan, but I know real growth comes from being able to sit, intentionally, in quiet and with discipline. This morning, discipline was in short supply.

**need more coffee, go downstairs for a cup**oh, i was going to reply to this person’s email, grab the phone**i left my medicine bag in my purse, gotta go downstairs and bring that up here for a REAL meditation**snapchat with the kids so they have a little bit of this peace** (oh the irony) on and on and on….

Eventually, I settled down. I was able to sit in stillness and focus. I read a piece from “The Mandala of Being: Discovering the Power of Awareness” by Richard Moss, M.D.

“Only in the present moment do we have any true power over the future, for if we experience ourselves as full and whole now, we intrinsically trust whatever the future may bring. We do not exercise this power with thought alone, but with the full strength of our awareness and the whole of our beings. True change comes about through the non-reactive gaze of attention that deepens us into the present and thereby opens us to a new vision of life.” p. 270

This wisdom seems to me to be particularly relevant now. We are in a season of concern for the future, some of us looking at the past through very distorted lenses, and we aren’t fully engaging in what we are creating in the present moment, which to me feels like a lot of fear, anxiety and anger. That’s not to say it’s not real or deserved….but I do believe that we must shift our attentions and intentions to focus on what we desire and not so much on what we fear. It’s not easy  to do (reference comments above) but I actually believe it is an innate skill we possess; we are just out of the habit.

So, after having sat with Dr. Moss’s words and captured the essence and spirit in words in my personal journal, I wandered downstairs and started looking at other books, for other pieces of wisdom that might be timely. My spirit landed on two other books: “The Essene Gospel of Peace” and “Chippewa Customs”. Yeah, that’s how I roll. 🙂 It might not seem so random once I’m done writing the words…

From the “Essene Gospel of Peace”:

“And Jesus answered, ‘Seek not the law in your scriptures for the law is life, whereas the scripture is dead. I tell you truly, Moses received not his laws from God in writing, but through the living word. The law is living word of living God to living prophets for living men. In everything that is life is the law written. You find it in the grass, in the tree, in the river, in the mountain, in the birds of heaven, in the fishes of the sea; but seek it chiefly in yourselves. For I tell you truly, all living things are nearer to God than the scripture which is without life. God so made life and all living things that they might by the everlasting word teach the laws of the true God to man. God wrote not the laws in the pages of books, but in your heart and in your spirit. They are in your breath, your blood, your bone; in your flesh, your bowels, your eyes, your ears, and in every little part of your body. They are in the sunbeams, in the depths and in the heights. They all speak to you that you may understand the tongue and the will of the living God.'”

That’s really as far as I could get in that book. But as I read that, I thought about my Ojibwe and Scottish ancestors. The pagans, so-called. Their education and their spirituality, their understanding of the world, wrapped up in the stories that they told and passed on….because the word, in the heart, is alive. More alive than even the words I’m writing. What was created, not just in the telling of the stories, but in the tools and bundles and artwork crafted while the stories were told…was an aliveness that far exceeds what we currently allow ourselves to experience, penned up in concrete boxes and wagons made of metal. We move from one confined space to another, saying, writing, speaking words but what are we creating? What piece of being alive are we missing when we don’t have that conversation with birds, water, tree, grass, mountain, with the hearts of our neighbors? What piece of true mutual understanding are we denying ourselves and each other?

So, then I put my attention on the words in the book “Chippewa Customs”. I don’t have words from that book to share right here. Mostly this book, written by an ethnologist during the first half of this century, tries to capture some of the ‘nuts and bolts’ of Chippewa customs. For whatever reason, I opened the book to the section on dreams, but then went back a few pages and read intently about the customs around death. I paged through the plates to see the artwork which brings a joy to my heart and soul that I can’t explain in words. And it reminded me….there is a basket full with opportunity to learn in a meaningful way, sitting out in the garage, waiting for you to remember.

As I approach the 1200 word mark on this post (good lord), I’m keenly aware of the irony. And hey, I’m kind of a nerdy, scholarly girl with way more books than she probably really needs, so i TOTALLY get the allure and the power of reading/writing/having written words at hand. At the same time, again, my ancestors remind me that the other day they gifted me with some sea-soaked bark and a sea-soaked bone, and there is a great deal of learning and mutual understanding to be had putting them in my hands. So, on that note, I’m out. Find yourself some space in the woods, on the water, or even just in your backyard. That is where life and learning live.



The gross and the subtle

This is me, trying to find my writing voice again.

So many books to be read, cover to cover. And so little attention I have to pay. My proverbial cup is full and unable to hold anymore information. As a serial life-long learner, I don’t see myself ever walking away from reading and research. So, this is me trying to drain my brain, soul, and spirit of information to make room for new ways of knowing.

I have decided to practice writing based on passages randomly selected from books randomly pulled from my shelf. My intent is to share in a good way, for the good of my soul and yours.

Today, I have chosen two different passages. One from “The Earth Has a Soul: C.G. Jung on Nature, Technology & Modern Life” and “Facing the World With Soul: The Re imagination of Modern Life” by Robert Sardello.

From Jung:

“One can be – and is – just as dependent on words as on the unconscious. Man’s advance toward the Logos was a great achievement, but he must pay for it with a loss of instinct and loss of reality to the degree that he remains in primitive dependence on mere words… {…} It is just man’s turning away from instinct – his opposing himself to instinct – that creates consciousness. Instinct is nature and seeks to perpetuate nature whereas consciousness can only seek culture or its denial.” pp. 72-73

Words. Words. Words. I saw a blip on social media today, something about how most Americans don’t read and how that’s affecting their approach to the political season. I’m not going to go into a diatribe about that, except to say that it’s so weird for me to contemplate the fact that in some people’s lives, it is the norm to never read. As much as I love words, thoughts and ideas, though, I also am keenly aware of their limitations. It’s foolish to spend too much time paying attention to the letter and totally ignoring the spirit; we ignore the spirit and our instinct at our peril. Our very humanness depends on a happy marriage between the two.

One of my pet peeves is people (including myself) not taking the time to build the bridge between meaning and understanding. I can’t tell you how many times I have been in situations where words are being spoken, using agreed upon language, yet those involved in the conversation have a difference of understanding. Sometimes, the difference is profound and the consequences as well. The spirit in the words is lost because we are so dependent on the words in their gross form. We have lost the art of using instinct to build a bridge between meaning and understanding. And today, especially, our words are failing us. The words in our general lexicon have become long-swords.

From Sardello:

“The alchemists practiced certain disciplines to engage imagination with the things of the world. John Lash tells of how a discipline of concentration was central to their work. … The city is our home, but the earth is our dwelling place. We live on the earth, beneath the sky, the drifting clouds and the stars, and the golden sun. … The city, seen through the soul, is a gathering together of elemental beings to be brought further into the workings of the world – as city.”  pp. 50-51

Sardello spends a fair amount of energy in the paragraphs prior to the  quote above discussing the practice of alchemists – called extraction – whereby they are able, using imagination, to create an environment, or reality. But while the practice is extraction, the intended result is to achieve a holistic knitting together of elements. Jung and Sardello both point to our ability to create. Jung bemoans our reliance on words, Sardello entices us to practice as the alchemists. Both men point to something outside our consciousness as allies in creation. Sardello encourages us to contemplate the possibility of creating a reality using the imagination and focus.

My Ojibwe ancestors were masters at using instinct and imagination to co-create their world. Their dedication to art, to nurturing and sustaining a reciprocal relationship with more-than-human relatives, allowed them to thrive culturally and traditionally. My Gaelic ancestors also possessed these skills. Their facility was expert level, artistic. Their languages consisted of words which described the spirit of a thing as well as the physical manifestation of something. The subtle and gross were successfully married and fed their souls, bodies and minds. Their methods were more sophisticated than many of us have the capacity to understand. Their language is definitely more sophisticated than some of us have the capacity to understand. I believe that because their blood flows through me, I possess bits and pieces of their knowledge and wisdom. While I may not be expert level artistic yet, the potential exists in the blood.

The art of using instinct to build a bridge between meaning and understanding, of bringing all our gifts into service of the world is perhaps not lost, if we can remember that it flows through our veins. When we are able to comprehend, using our instincts, that our ancestors are with us in ways more profound than a nostalgic, emotional wish, then perhaps we might start to heal and grow as real human beings. I believe that because their blood flows through me, I possess enough of their knowledge and wisdom to begin to move forward and to grow and heal as a real human being.

the dirtiest ….

We have a big storm moving in today. Lots of wind, rain and darkness. This is our reality in the Pacific Northwest, but I’m starting to feel like we are getting more than our fair share of inclement weather. I welcome the wind. I hope that it brings change. I welcome the rain. We can certainly use a lot of cleansing. But I’m going to need a break from it all fairly soon. 🙂

Two weeks ago, I was traveling for business and had the opportunity to be in four different airports. MIA, PHX, DTW and SEA. For those non-aerospace geeks, those codes represent Miami, Phoenix, Detroit and Seattle. Of these four airports, I am sorry to report that my hometown airport was the dirtiest. This doesn’t come as a surprise to me.

Drive up and down almost any road in Washington state and notice the litter. How can this be? We pride ourselves as being an environmental leader in the country. Our state motto is “The Evergreen State”. We are fortunate to live in country that is astoundingly beautiful, even when covered in litter. Mountain ranges, bodies of both fresh and salt water, high plains, alpine and sub-alpine forests, rain forests….we have so much beauty here.

From an Indigenous perspective, we are blessed with powerful more-than-human relatives. We share water, land and air with salmon, cedar, alder, hemlock, raven, eagle, bear, bobcat, wolf, horsetail, cattail, beachgrass, moss, scheist, granite, olivine, geoduck, octopus, whale…. They give to us in so many ways. We take and leave mostly garbage in our wake.

I’m not asking a rhetorical question. I’m very interested in the psychology of ecological destruction. It’s not just litter, either. It’s also the level of light pollution that is allowed. Forgotten is the role that darkness plays in the natural cycle. The ability to view the planets, stars and darkness of night is being destroyed. When hundreds of tires are dumped along the sides of roads, I can infer one piece of the puzzle: greed. However, I think greed as a cause is only scratching the surface. When stretches of state highways and interstates are clogged with the detritus of human existence, what are we saying about life? Where does the trash come from? Are people randomly tossing it out of pickup trucks in the middle of the night? What mindset prevails where people are accepting of the amounts of litter dirtying our environment? Why are we so afraid of the dark and out of touch with the healing that the deep night brings?

Maybe it’s just me. Knowing that most of what we dispose of doesn’t degrade; that it ends up in our waterways and in the guts of our more-than-human relatives. Missing the ability to see the stars and planets when I step out into the night – wondering how my more-than-human relatives are fairing physiologically and mentally when they also are deprived of the healing that night brings.

I believe that there is a connection between how we treat the environment and how we treat ourselves. To my mind, the litter and inevitable destruction caused by litter is a sign of mental and spiritual illness. The level of denial involved in the belief that litter doesn’t equal environmental destruction is monumental. The inability to make the connection between disrespecting the sanctity of the Natural World and disrespecting the sanctity of our Natural Selves. This level of denial is what leads us to accept much more devastating levels of environmental destruction created by industrial waste.

This isn’t simply an environmental or social issue. It’s a spiritual issue as well. I am contemplating the conundrum here: we are on a suicidal mission and yet the normal human response to danger is to stay alive. We are ridiculously weird beings.

off the grid

Yesterday, after spending some quality time with my beautiful girls, I took a spontaneous road trip on Washington Highway 20 toward Washington Pass and the American Alps. As a south-sounder, I tend to forget how beautiful the north-sound and northern range of the Cascades are. As I hit traffic (ugh) heading south, I decided to heed the call to reconnect with my Natural Self and experience the beauty of these woods.

It was a much needed trip and I’m very grateful that I had the luxury of time and resources to be spontaneous. It was a sorely needed adventure.

For three hours, there weren’t many people on the road. Once I got past Sedro-Woolley, for all intents and purposes, I had the road to myself. For a good portion of the trip, I was off the grid as there was no cell service in the area. If it isn’t obvious, I’m not complaining. Once I passed Birdsview, the air became fresher and had that distinct smell that rain has when one isn’t continually exposed to the scents of city living.

I’m still processing all the treasures that were discovered during that quality quiet time with my relatives. I will share a few here.

There is deep healing in the darkness of woods. And I do literally mean the darkness – where the trees live in a closely-knit, healthy community. Our elders, rocks and trees, have stories to tell, if one can hear. Nbi (water) is life. Since time immemorial, nbi has sustained us. We owe nbi our gratitude, our respect and our love. I was reminded how healing silence can be. The majority of my trip involved me, parked on the side of the road, getting out and walking around until I was too wet for comfort from the rain. Getting back in the car was difficult each time. Driving into the gorge outside of Newhalem reminded me of a few truths. The one that I can put language around concerns a realization of how small I am in the world, really. Robin Wall-Kimmerer has written of the Indigenous epistemology where humans are the younger brothers of our more-than-human relatives. Her words rang true as I drove into the gorge. There are other truths that can’t be described with my current vocabulary. Maybe another day.

For several months, I have heard my more-than-human relatives calling my name. Especially from the Olympic Peninsula. I have put off heeding that call. Yesterday’s trip was a catalyst for me to resolve not to ignore that call any longer. The work I want to do to protect and preserve the world and my more-than-human relatives has to be rooted deeply, and reading books and writing is only a tiny portion of the work. The experiential learning, the restoration of the reciprocal relationship between myself and my relatives….this is the real work. We live in a quantum universe. My healing in the woods can be just as powerful a teacher whether or not I write a word about it. That’s where the real work is.

The last thing I want to share is that, as beautiful and healing as this trip was, it was also a little nerve-wracking. We have had a lot of rain over the last few months. There was evidence of slides in many places on the road. I think the message for me was ‘change is the only constant’….and no matter what position or form my relatives may take, their presence here is eternal. As is mine.


I’m back at the research gig again. A topic that I had been considering as a research idea has finally gotten some traction as a result of some shenanigans taking place in my community. It feels like I finally have a reason to read the books, ask the questions, and maybe write the words. Just gotta organize my thoughts a little bit. Focus. Don’t get distracted. SQUIRREL!

My topic will be “Granting Standing to the Salish Sea”. Person-hood. Notice that isn’t a question. To my mind, there is no question about it. Whether standing as an entity in a court of law will actually hold, I’m not sure. But I still hold to the idea that this is the right course to take. I’m encouraged by the long battle the Whanganui iwi of Aotearoa fought to have the Whanganui river granted personhood.

What shifted?  Well, besides being an Anishinabe-kwe, I recently came to learn that the local government and municipal agencies are practicing chicanery in trying to put some harmful projects in our region. Harmful, as in epicly harmful, in the sense that the projects could be the death knell for salmon and the Salish sea. Without meaningful notification of the key stakeholders in the process, a trifecta of three methanol plants are being proposed for northwest coast ports.

I’m trying to determine at the underlying, contributing factors that have led to this moment in time, where the love of money and power is more important than the love of our more-than-human-relatives. How, after 50 years of environmental legacy, have our environmental philosophies become bankrupt and our most trusted institutions co-opted? What pre-emptive pieces of legislation might have been crafted and led to this very undemocratic process.

A strategic, clear vision is key. Understanding that fear and anger can lead to weak arguments and hyperbole, I must manage the fear and anger so that the words are strong.

There are legal fictions to unravel and legal precedents to uncover, and make.

As gloomy as it seems, I still believe that we have more than enough hope. I still believe that we can change our minds, change our actions if we remember to fight FOR what we love rather than AGAINST what we might hate. If the vision and mission are held clear. And if they are guided by love.

I love the salish sea


where love is stronger than grief

eaglesatcypressmountainEagles at Cypress Mountain

I haven’t slept well the last few nights. Grief and worry both have been keeping me from restful sleep. But when I wake, my first thoughts are prayers. Prayers for peace. Prayers that those who are struggling are protected by the wings of the dove of peace.

As this year comes to  a close there are many moments for which I have deep gratitude. I have an amazing husband. We have healthy, wonderful children. Our home is warm and comfortable and we have a basket overflowing with beautiful friends from so many different walks of life. The tapestry of our lives is richly colored and well-woven.

But also, I come to terms with knowing that I have grieved the passing of four amazing men this year. All warriors, in their own ways. All offering inspiration. All gone too soon. I am not the only one who has experienced this grief, and my sense of loss, compared to that of their families and close friends, was pale.

Heartbreak leads to soul searching. What do I really want in this coming year? Beyond the age-old tradition of making resolutions and setting intentions, what meaning can be extricated from such a challenging year? What might be transformed into another piece of well-woven, rich tapestry? Funny thing about grief, when there is love, strength is not far away. So, at the risk of sounding preachy, or holier-than-thou, here are some thoughts about 2016:

More than anything, I wish to have a renewed passion for life; to choose optimism over cynicism. I wish to see the beauty in the small things and to be open to the presence of miracles. I wish to be more receptive to the love and care that comes my way, and to be more open to giving love and care to others. It is one thing to say such things, it is another thing to act upon them. I hope my wishes becomes action.

I hope we learn to take care with each other. I hope we learn to cherish our relationships in meaningful ways. We are all here for such a short amount of time. I hope to be more forgiving and understanding….towards others and towards myself. I hope to remember that love is really all there is.

I hope to remember, if I must correct someone, to give that criticism in a way that promotes growth. I hope to have the strength to fight for what I believe, and to inspire others to fight for each other. I hope to remember that each fight does not require a “fight to the death mentality”. Very few fights require the extinguishing of relationship. If a relationship must be ended, I will try to do so with as much grace and forgiveness as possible. I will give no quarter to resentment and bitterness. Instead, I hope to learn to let them pass, quickly.

I think I can say with confidence that my grief has been tempered by the realization that it is rooted in deep love. This has been a very powerful lesson for me, and a comfort. This is the mindset with which I greet the Year of the Monkey, the Year of the Humanitarian.

I will continue to hold those who have crossed over in my heart and to act in their honor.