Before I begin this post, I just want to issue a small statement. This post deals with healing, talks of pain and hurt and ideas that may be uncomfortable because they draw on societal conditioning. Please practice self care. If you need a moment, take a moment.
I dedicate this post to Mothers everywhere.
I dedicate this post to Indigenous Womxn, may we always see and support each other.
I dedicate this post to Black Womxn, may we always uplift each other.
It’s May, and while Spring has made an entrance, I’ve also been called to remember myself and my sisters, my aunties and my mothers alongside the beauty in community. We are halfway through the “traditional year” as we’ve made it through Winter, but just what does that mean?
May is Mental Health Awareness Month and the theme that I carried through teaching yoga this month has been, self-care. All over the internet, you can find the phrase “self care” alongside photos of baths and bath bombs, good food and comfy clothes. Is this self care? Well, that all depends on you. What is one thing that you can do today that feels good and is just for you?
In the past couple of weeks, the National Day of Awareness for Missing & Murdered Indigenous Womxn came in a flood of red, reminding me that sisterhood is paramount to survival. I was reminded that we Say Her Name because we are in danger. Native & Black womxn are in crisis and if we don’t stand up for and with each other, who will?
In this time, I feel as though looking back, helps to look forward. I’m currently planning a move across the country in a couple of days and while planning, I’ve spent a lot of time with my mother. She and I have talked more about her mother and her mothers’ mother and it all got me thinking about just how I love my mother and love myself. This brought me back to the start of 2019.
I don’t know about you, but I started this year of 2019 very intentionally. I began my December month with travel. In the course of almost three weeks, I found myself in Portland, Oregon, land of the Chinook peoples. I then found myself visiting my dear chosen family of Indigenous Women Rising in Albuquerque, New Mexico, specifically on land of the Laguna Pueblo peoples.
While there, I found myself deep in the realization that there is no one way to be Native, just as there is no one way to be womxn or black or queer or any of the spaces that I occupy in my being. There’s just me and the more I uncover about myself in speaking my truth. So often, the month of January brings with it the adage of “New Year, New Me!”. It was a new year, but I’m still me and I’m still learning all that means.
At the start of a new year, there's always this pressure to suddenly change ways, completely abandoning all unhealthy practices and be decidedly...perfect. However, this well-intentioned movement toward “perfection” always ends in becoming incredibly frustrated with myself and probably participating in one or two unhealthy “solutions” with me starting all over again at the top of the year. This year was different.
Just before the start of the new year, I felt the rain soak into my bones through to my soul, reminding me that water really is life. The trees, tall and stately, reminded me just how beautiful the world is when I look up. I then found myself among my Native sisterhood. I heard the pure laughter of children and remembered what it is like to see the world through the eyes of a child. I found crystals that hummed and offered their healing. I ate some seriously delicious frybread and spent time in Laguna on the rez with my loving sister and her family. I felt welcomed and loved with beautiful NDN family and we talked about life, love and the never-ending pursuit of happiness. I allowed myself to be loved in this time, which is very hard for me to do. I am a Black/Native Queer Womxn and love is a radical existence. I cleaned my altar, cleansed and arranged my new crystals, set up some tobacco and wampum shells. I had my tarot and healing cards within view and thoroughly cleansed. I thought deeply about sisterhood, motherhood, and family relationships, especially around community and a state of existence which seems to continually pop up, known as “decolonization”.
What is “decolonizing”? Decolonizing in my experience involves a re-thinking, re-working and re-imagining of our relationship to and reality with space. Colonial identity began, at least in what is now known as the Americas, with the owning and forceful stealing of space and relocation, and subjection of people on it. That is, physical space, mental space, emotional space, etc. Ancestrally and presently, how we black and brown folx relate to space is more than just our traditions, our living areas, and our access to sunlight and our access to our mothers. . How we relate to space is our life blood. This means that our very selves are wrapped in, come from and return to the land and to our communities, our families. Decolonization should not be a kitchy phrase that we use to describe the everyday moment, but also shouldn’t it be? As a black and/or brown bodied individual in this world, simply waking up is an act of re-imagining space. To get up and move through the day is an act of revolution. Should we not call it what it is? How do we keep something sacred and whole without overuse? Maybe these thoughts in themselves are a lead in to decolonizing a way of thinking. How are we framing our thoughts?
In the arrival of 2019 and the time after of various full moons, new moons, retrogrades and energies, there has been much space, time and intention really invested in the formations of family and friendships in the air. Spring is here and with it the sense of warmth and growth. There is change in the air. What does this mean for re-imaginations of space? What does this mean for each of us, for our sisters, for our aunties, for our mothers, for their mothers? I like to think that with each passing season, there are lessons that have made me engage with more and more of self. How to engage with the real me, not the instagrammed, facebooked, made-up version of myself, but the one that wakes up and contemplates the world in those early hours of day. How are you choosing to engage with self? How are we choosing to invest in community with each other through the mis-communications, the growth, the warmth, the truth? The continuation of a strong year is just as important as the intention of a new one. Maybe this is de-colonial and that is enough. Maybe this is self care and that is more than enough.
Here is a small moment of Self Care:
If you can, if it feels right, set up a time alone to smudge.
Find a comfortable seated position.
As you engage with whatever herbs you choose
Imagine something you don’t need anymore, something that you’ve been holding onto
Let it float away from you, never to return
Imagine a bright yellow light at the center of your belly
The deeper you Inhale, the brighter it gets
Out of it, comes something new
Something you are ready to receive
Allow it to build and build until you are embraced by it
Continue your inhales and exhales as you need
until you return to yourself feeling renewed and cared for