Reflections July 12, 2021

On the homeward stretch

of my solitary morning walk today

I saw two young women walking their dogs

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Words I heard a month ago

given voice by a lonely soul

came to mind

“I used to walk my dog…”

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I used to walk my dog, too

For the third day, I am walking alone

not knowing what to do with my empty hands

They used to hold my little dog’s leash

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for Pinto 1

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Some days I have followed the familiar routes he chose

other days, I have expanded my horizons

remembering our times together as I walk

with both sorrow and deep gratitude

for the wounded soul who trusted me to care

despite a previous life of abandonment and abuse

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I used to walk my dog

Now I walk to give thanks for our time together

and will continue to explore old places and new

with a different perspective that he helped me discover

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for Pinto 3

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For my Beloved Companion, Pinto

Born September, 2010 – Adopted October 29, 2013 – Died July 9, 2021

July 4th, 2021 – Reflections about contining rewounding

Not long ago, I wrote a poem

when I was contemplating a move

to a new home with my family

“I wonder … whether you will still love me

if I risk sharing who I can be

in moments of deep reflection

that sometimes make living difficult

in a world that is too busy, distracted, noisy

to listen deeply to the quiet songs of life?”

It turns out that this was a pivotal question

that helped me decide what I needed in my life

in order to stay balanced and hold center

in these tumultuous times

I realized I already live somewhere

that meets my needs at least partially

– a little cottage with a small plot of land

where I can create gardens to tend

despite the work that takes

in ever uncertain weather

surrounded mostly by people too busy

to even notice trees, flowers, and birds

except for elders who take time

to see and appreciate what youth cannot

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July 4 2021 1

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As I was watering gardens this evening

during another stretch of heat and drought

sandwiched between intermittent rain

sometimes gentle and sometimes a deluge

I realized that the lack of care I notice

for others and the earth in this neighborhood

is a constant source of rewounding,

a reopening of spirit-deep woundedness

in this windigo (wetiko) culture that celebrates “freedom”

to exploit the earth and people for profit

with firecrackers exploding on this day

with odes to “the rockets’ red glare

My heart is touched by the beauty and wonder of life

yet with each day of neglect and misuse

I feel the life force ebbing

as I wait for someone to simply sit with me

and listen deeply to the songs of nature

before it’s too late

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July 4 2021 2

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The art of deep listening, a gift shared by a deep friend:

Dadirri –

“The deep inner spring inside us. We call on it and it calls on us.”

(Dr. Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr)

Reflections – June 6, 2021

Distinguishing “what is really real”

has never been easy

for someone who sees, or imagines,

many things others do not

*

She still laughs when she remembers

her short-lived job driving a van

on the commune where she lived for a few years

to deliver workers to jobs in three states

on winding, hilly country roads

“Oh my,” she thought, as the van filled

with people one-by-one at the end of the day

“It must be their scattered, negative energy

that makes it harder to climb hills or steer.”

It never occurred to her then

that there was a much simpler explanation!

*

Funny, she had excelled in science

but it took years for her to look back and laugh

“Goodness,” she thought, “it’s scary to realize

how much other people’s feelings and beliefs

influence how I make sense of the world”

*

No wonder she found herself drawn

to an increasingly reclusive life

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IMG_0475

Reflections – June 20, 2021

Grateful,

I listened to the sounds of water

on the first day of summer

the steady gentle pattering of rain

on leaves and earth –

so welcome

after many dry days of wind and heat

from the unrelenting glaring sun

Patient,

listening to the increasing pace of rhythmic knocking

as heating water bubbles struck the sides of the teakettle

before the steam arose in an ear-piercing whistle

Peaceful,

transported through time to childhood memories

of the tinkling gurgling brook that taught me to sing

and the power of the roaring waves coming in from the sea

and the hisses as the water rushed back to its home

Contemplative,

sounds once heard that cannot be forgotten

though they bring nostalgia tinged with sadness

knowing how little regard we have shown

toward the oceans, rivers, lakes, and brooks

that have continued to share the essence of life

along with the songs of the water they carry

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june 20 2021 1

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Acknowledgements:

Reflections inspired by my summer reading:

Rachel L. Carson (1989). The sea around us (Special Edition). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Aldo Leopold (1966). A sand county almanac: With essays on conservation from Round River. New York, NY: Ballantine Books.

Although I wish I had read their work decades ago, I am nonetheless grateful for the interesting path my life has followed.

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june 20 2021 2

Reflections – June 26, 2021

I may not look like much

but I’m sacred life, hard won

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june 26 2021 1

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hope emerging despite vulnerability

during difficult times of heat and drought

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june 26 2021 2

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in a world grown weary with uncertainty and fear

I unlock potential to overcome adversity,

offering sustenance and beauty

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june 26 2021 3

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Reflections – May 1, 2021

This morning I made a choice

to simply be with you on our walk

together through the neighborhood

pinto one

watching your shadow

trot alongside you in the greening grass

while I wonder what you see

and hear and taste and feel and sense

that I cannot

as you stop to look around or lick the grass

or gently explore a tree trunk with your nose

still lifting your leg to leave a trace of your passing

long after your bladder is empty

pinto 2

Being fully present here with you

helps ease the soul-deep sorrow

I feel because of things I cannot change

pinto 3

I am truly grateful

for your presence in my life

Please Listen

I wonder if I can ask you

to share a few moments

seated quietly on this land

listening deeply

to hear what it might say

about the untold millennia

it had already weathered

long before we were born

*

Before we move a rock

or remove sod to plant

let us listen to the land

to the winds, the birds

and the animals that call this home

Let us take time to observe

the health of plants and trees

that are growing here

and watch the light

as it changes through the day

*

Let us feel the earth

beneath our bare feet

to learn what we need to do

as temporary stewards

of this small space in the cosmos

remembering that love and care matter

even though we will not be here to

witness their future fruition

*

I wonder, too, whether you will still love me

if I risk sharing who I can be

in moments of deep reflection

that sometimes make living difficult

in a world that is too busy, distracted, noisy

to listen deeply to the quiet songs of life?

*

please listen

A Knock on the Door

Belatedly posting “old” “news” … 

February 11, 2021

On a frigid dark evening in February, there’s a knock on the door I use during winter. “Come in,” I shout out. But the knocking continues as my little dog Pinto keeps barking. Then I remember. I need to unlock the door. It’s my daughter bearing a gift – a key to the house she’s just bought so we can live together as a family in what we all hope will be a safer and friendlier neighborhood.

An old saying comes to mind afterwards, “opportunity only knocks once.” Still, I wonder if moving is the wisest decision even though there are many things I can no longer do by myself, like heavy lifting.

Sunrise – February 5, 2021

I’ve lived in my little old house for almost 10 years – since October 17, 2011. It’s been a haven of sorts that I retired to, finally alone, after a long and difficult journey. Being here has given me a chance to begin the process of life reflection during a stage of life Erik Erikson characterized as “integrity vs, despair.”

I am grateful for the many opportunities life has brought my way. Sometimes I did open the door when they knocked, and sometimes not. In retrospect, I am grateful overall for the choices I made. Often, the choices to open a door brought daunting challenges, but those were the ones that presented the most interesting chances to grow and to learn.

February 22, 2021

A small part of what I learned has been posted on this blog which celebrated its 7th anniversary on February 11, 2021. I actually began blogging with a partner in 2013, but that partnership ended when I wrote a draft article she wouldn’t approve for “our” blog. After the third rewrite of the draft, “In Honor of Caregivers,” I decided to create a space a lot like my little house, where I could decide how to create and cultivate my own gardens both in reality and metaphorically.

It’s interesting to look back at my old blog posts and see how much I have both changed and become more of myself in the process. It’s also fascinating to see which posts have been viewed most over the years.

Every year, the post that has continued to be viewed most often (now more than 2,600 times) is one I wrote in March of 2015, “When You Think of Health What Comes to Mind?

Carol A. Hand – Community-University Partnership – 2007

This morning as I greeted a bright but frigid morning, I found myself thinking of one of my many culture-bridging experiences. I was wondering why it is so difficult for us to listen to each other and find our common ground.

Maybe it was one specific job interview years ago that made this so apparent to me. In my younger years, I would often get calls begging me to take on a new project – Indian education, child welfare, or addiction prevention to name a few. I remember reluctantly agreeing to consider working on a federally-funded project to prevent chemical dependency in selected tribes. There was only one other Native American person on the research team, and he wanted to interview me to make sure I was “Indian enough.” He asked me about the research I was planning to conduct on Indian child welfare. When I explained that I was interested in learning how Ojibwe people defined effective and ineffective parenting and the systems and interventions they would recommend to address situations they saw as ineffective, my interviewer became impatient and agitated. …

The second most viewed post (more than 1,800 times) is “Context Matters When Teaching Diversity.”

Photo Credit: Diversity Tree

One of my dear blogging friends, Nicki Attfield [who deleted her blog a while ago], asked a thought-provoking question in a recent post – “Can men be feminist?” Her discussion reminded me of a similar question I was asked years ago, and my experiences teaching courses in diversity at two very different universities.

More than two decades ago, I was asked to be part of a panel discussion at a university conference for social work students, practitioners, and educators. The question I was asked to address forced me to think critically about my past experiences and observations. “Can non-Native practitioners be effective with Native American clients?” At that point in my thinking, it was tempting to take the easy route and simply list the reasons why the answer was “No.” But the need to be honest and respectful made me go deeper. Ultimately the answer was really quite simple. Ethnicity and overcoming adversity in one’s life doesn’t necessarily make one more empathetic or a skilled deep listener. What matters most is someone with a kind heart who is willing to do the work to understand the world through another’s eyes. To listen deeply, to see not only the struggles but also the strengths, and to help clients see their strengths, connect to supportive resources, and develop necessary confidence and skills to be able to discover their own answers. To help clients discover they have worth and their own answer to the question – What is the best you can imagine for yourself in the future? …

The third post in line at more than 1,700 views is “The Fool’s Prayer” posted January 3, 2014 (and reblogged on January 13, 2020).

Jester Logo by Lesley-Lycanthropy, on Deviant ART

… Presentation day was one of nervous anticipation for me. I was excited to share what I thought was an important message with my classmates. But my anxiety grew as I sat through the recitation of nursery rhymes and “Twinkle-twinkle little star.” “Oops,” I thought, “Maybe I made a mistake, but it’s too late now.” When my turn came, I walked to the front of the class and began. I don’t remember how my peers reacted as I recited the poem, probably with exaggerated drama, nor could I see my teacher’s expression. She was seated at her desk behind me. All I remember is from that day forward, my teacher treated me as if I were a leper. The first time I talked to a classmate seated next to me after my performance, the teacher singled me out in front of the class. “You may not need to listen to what I’m talking about, but the rest of the class does. From now on when we are discussing reading, your job is to stand by the side blackboard and draw.” …

The fourth most viewed (at more than 1,500) is “Circle the Wagons – The Natives Are Restless.”

 

Frontier Wagon Circle

Years ago, I went to a national conference on Indian Child Welfare issues. It is typical for me to feel lost in large urban areas and packed hotels. I easily lose my sense of direction in cities and winding hallways. As I was hurrying to make it on time for a workshop I wanted to attend, I took a wrong turn and ended up in a workshop on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome-Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAS/FAE). This wasn’t the one I planned to attend. Because the speaker was just beginning, I didn’t want to appear rude by leaving, so I took a seat in the audience of 50 plus mostly Native American women. As the Euro-American speaker began, she let the audience know that her expertise in this area began when she adopted a child who was born with FAS. At first, she felt overwhelmed, until she remembered her grandmother’s saying, “When times are tough, put your wagons in a circle.” The audience let out a collective gasp, yet the speaker seemed completely unaware of the meaning of the audience’s response. She went on to describe her challenges. Accustomed to ignorance and insensitivity, nonetheless respectful and polite, the audience remained seated and silent during the workshop. They exited quickly at the end, without a word to the presenter. What would be the point of making someone feel bad? …

The one post that had the most views (almost 7,000), though, was written at a crucial moment in time by a friend and guest author, Miriam Schacht (RoteZora), “Open Letter to White People at Standing Rock.” I am sorry to say I lost touch with Miriam shortly after the former U.S. President took office and extinguished hope for a reasonable resolution of the controversy over the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline. Hope has recently been revived according the EARTHJUSTICE, although there is still a lot of uncertainty about the final outcome of this situation and additional challenges as other tribes join the fight against proposed pipelines that would carry the same tar sands oil threatening communities that depend on rivers, lakes, wetlands, and the Great Lakes for safe drinking water along the way.

Open Letter to White People at Standing Rock by Miriam Schacht

I wrote this note while staying at the Two Spirit Nation camp within the Oceti Sakowin camp at Standing Rock about a week ago. I originally drove out there to help someone else out, but without the intention of staying, because I take seriously the critiques that suggest that white activists have been taking over the protests. However, I stayed much longer than I intended because it turned out that there was important work to do as a white accomplice–work that addressed precisely the issue of white activists at these camps and these actions. Part of the necessary work of white accomplices is to lessen the burden on people of color. At camp that meant I was asked by Two Spirit folks to give white visitors “allyship 101” or “Two Spirit 101” lectures; this letter is my attempt to keep that work up, and keep taking on some of the burden, even when I’m not at the camp anymore. As requested, I’ve sent hard copies to the folks at camp (there’s barely any internet access there), but I’m also re-posting it here.

Read this, please, with an open heart. If you start feeling defensive, take a moment to reflect on why that is before returning to reading. …

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Like the decisions I made about blogging, first to give it a try despite the snobbish disparaging view of blogging in academia, and second to create my own blog when my attempt at partnership didn’t work, I have made a choice to leave the little house where I have lived since I arrived in Duluth, Minnesota, and willingly face a new adventure. After almost a year of COVID, I realize life is too short to live in isolation relying almost exclusively on virtual interactions. I don’t want to miss any more chances to be present in the lives of those I love.

No doubt I will miss my gardens more than some of my neighbors, although others were a gift – Chris, Maddy, Dawn, Shirley, Patty, Judy, Bill, Phil, and Linda and her little dog, Cheeto. They shared their stories and their love of beauty, learning, gardens, dogs, humor, and life. I need to be patient, though. I can’t move until the semester ends in mid-May. There are more lectures to plan, papers to grade, and students to support, so much I need to sort through, give away, or pack, and too much I need to do to get the house and yard ready.

I am so grateful for the years in this little house and for the original blog partner who inspired me to continue blogging on my own. Both opportunities opened up a time and place for deep soul-searching and healing. And I am deeply grateful for the blogging friends who have been part of the journey over the years. Thank you all.

Early March Reflections – 2021

I still wonder “what could be”
if we were able to put aside differences
and work together lovingly
for the sake of the earth we all share
the “pale blue dot,” our home
which contains so many unexplored mysteries
floating in space amid a cosmos that baffles us

Perhaps others grow dizzy like me
trying to envision a spinning moon
revolving around a spinning earth
that’s revolving around a central sun
along with the other eight planets
in a shared solar system that seems expansive
yet is nonetheless dwarfed by the vast unknown

How many take the time to wonder why?
How many ponder the miracle
of the ground beneath their feet?
Or contemplate this concept
called gravity that keeps us rooted
on a planet spinning in space
at one thousand miles per hour
while revolving around the sun
at 67,000 miles per hour?

I haven’t met many who ask these questions
on my journey through life
most have been too busy to wonder
about ground where they stand
or ponder why they remain grounded
and why they can’t fly

Maybe if more people contemplated these mysteries
we would discover how to care enough about the earth
to put our differences aside…

March Morning Moonset – March 20, 2019

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Information Sources:

https://www.planetary.org/worlds/pale-blue-dot

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-fast-is-the-earth-mov/#:~:text=The%20earth%20rotates%20once%20every,roughly%201%2C000%20miles%20per%20hour.

https://www.space.com/why-pluto-is-not-a-planet.html

Following is a link to a fun video I discovered a few years ago when my granddaughter told me she hadn’t learned anything about the stars or solar system in school. We still laugh about this video. We shared it with her mom and brother this year during her birthday celebration on March 5 when she turned 14 and we all laughed together. Learning and remembering can often be fun.

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