Early October Reflections – 2021

October 9, 2021

Dearest Mother, I remember

sitting beside you

as you struggled to breathe

on your last day of life

October 10, 2010

I am not sure if you heard me

or recognized that the person beside you

was your daughter

gently stoking your thinning silvered hair

telling you I loved you

letting you know I was grateful

you could finally be free of pain

although I would miss you deeply

for the rest of my life

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Beloved Mother, I remember

the photos I discovered

that you lovingly arranged in albums

chronicling the seasons of your life

Norma 1 g g

the sometimes forlorn little girl

raised on the reservation by an aunt

until you were taken by federal agents

to be shamed for your heritage

in the process of being “saved” and “civilized”

by priests and nuns

in the Catholic “Indian” boarding school

where you were placed involuntarily

without your family’s or community’s

consent or approval

Norma i g

You survived nonetheless

and lived a life

that made the world a better place

because of skill and compassion

that your healing presence

norma loyola graduation

Graduation from Loyola University

Norma nursing home

Owner and Administrator of Keystone Nursing Home visiting with residents

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norma community work

Community Engagement

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brought into the lives

of all those who knew you

august 2020 3
My mother greeting her new great grandson and granddaughter – March 1999

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October 11, 2021

Sorrow sometimes surfaces suddenly

revealing buried grief

that we believed had been resolved

with passing time

Long life leaves losses

that accumulate through the years

as we say so many goodbyes

to family, friends, furry and feathered companions,

and our youthful dreams of what could have been

Reflective resilience reveals rewards

described in a poem …

“After a while you learn

That even sunshine burns if you get too much.

So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul,

Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.

And you learn that you really can endure…

That you really are strong,

And you really do have worth.

And you learn and learn…

With every goodbye you learn.”

(original by Jorge Luis Borges, perhaps modified by Veronica A. Shoffstall who is often attributed as the author)

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The final resting place for Cookie, Pinto and two aged willows

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October 14, 2021

Light sometimes makes its presence known

on the dark and rainy days of autumn

in ways that are surprising

golden leaves that glow despite clouds

or the kindness of virtual exchanges

about topics that are boring to most

which somehow trigger unexpected insights

that help one look back with gratitude

on a long life well-lived

golden autumn 1

A loss of innocence

Tell me again to just look inside

and envision prosperity

so my life will be easier

But I ask you to tell me

how pursuing my own comfort

will change a world of want and suffering

as unimaginable horrors

are visited upon the earth

and on so many people whose only crime

is to be born in places

that are coveted by those in power

by those who will do anything

to consume

and destroy

the wisdom of how to live a life

in peace with each other

honoring earth’s bounty by sharing

grateful for moments

of togetherness,

belonging,

joy,

and beauty

grateful for the chances

to live a simple, meaningful life

walking lovingly and gently upon the earth

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innocence 1

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Tell me how we can work together

to banish the windego

that blinds us to other’s suffering

as we mindlessly and heartlessly pursue

our own pleasures at any costs

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innocence 2

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Acknowledgement

In gratitude to David for sharing the following information and film and for inspiring this reflection:

https://www.creativespirits.info/resources/movies/our-generation

Reflections about the Importance of Knowing Our History

Years ago, when I was forced to confront the egregious representation of Indigenous People in the public school my daughter had attended, I read an interesting book by David Wrone and Russell Nelson, Jr. (1982). “Who’s the savage?” The school district decided to sue me, along with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction as a co-defendant, to prevent the use of “The Pupil Nondiscrimination Statute” to end the demeaning name and cartoonish images they used to promote their high school.

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I spoke with Dr. Wrone, who, along with a distinguished list of other scholars, agreed to be an expert witness in the case. They were never called to testify. I was not allowed by the judge to testify, either. Only the courageous pro bono attorney from ACLU who agreed to represent me was allowed to speak on my behalf as I sat silently beside her. The school district won the case, but lost the larger battle in a later ruling by the State Attorney General. Although I could not use the statute to end the school district’s use of racist caricatures, others could use the statute to challenge local school districts in the future, and many did. (My first post on this blog describes the process in more detail.)

I was reminded of this experience when I watched the following video that features a friend, Carl Gawboy, an Ojibwa scholar and artist.

What’s killing Minnesota’s moose?

YouTube suggested two more.

Why the US Army tried to exterminate the bison

And

How the US stole thousands of Native American children

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I leave you with a question that, tragically, is still relevant today. “Who’s the savage?” Who will benefit by erasing history about the true costs of invasive colonialism across the globe?

Work Cited

David R. Wrone & Russell S. Norton, Jr. (Eds.). Who’s the Savage? Malabar, FL: Robert E. Krieger Publishing Company.

Reflections – September 9, 2021

Greeting the morning from my porch

gazing at the drought-yellowing leaves

highlighted by the rising sun

without a whisper of breeze to move them

muted calls from geese in a practice formation

flying toward the dark western sky

signals of the changing season

reflections september 9 2021

I realize how deeply saddened I am

by the growing distance and silence between us

work is my only solace

as it has been through the years

now especially so during these troubling times

of ever-increasing confusion and fear

looking deeper within for strength and vision

to keep walking this “lonesome valley”

Reflections – August 30, 2021

Grateful for the privilege

to sit peacefully at my computer

while others flee from bombs,

fires, floods, and devastating storms

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Grateful for small things I can do

to make the world a little kinder

by sharing the bounty my gardens yield

with those who wait in line for food

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waiting in line for food August 2021

Reflections – August 25, 2021

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A misty morning view of the front yard gardens – 8/12/2021, 5:59 am.

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How we treat the world around us

expresses profound differences

in what we learned to value

by forces outside of our control

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august 25 2021

A sunny midday view from the back yard – 8/25/2021, 12:23 pm.

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The challenge remains how to peacefully

and patiently coexist with others

whose values are not the same

for reasons outside of their control

Reflections from the Margins – August 15, 2021

Honestly, there are times

when I prefer not to bridge cultures

to make thoughtless people feel comfortable

for behaving in ways that are childish,

offensive, invasive, or disrespectful to others

because they take their unearned

unquestioned privilege for granted

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I reserve the power to simply walk away

without a glance or comment

and let them think what they will

but sometimes I feel called to stand

with others in solidarity against insanity

the sad fact is that self-absorption

has a toxic impact on everything else

and threatens life-sustaining connections

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Protect Our Water (Stop Enbridge Line 3) Demonstration in Duluth, Minnesota on September 28, 2019 – an ongoing issue https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/aug/10/protesters-line-3-minnesota-oil-gas-pipeline

Edited to add an important information shared by Diane Lefer:

August 17th (this Tuesday) there will be solidarity actions in several cities around the US. (Especially for health and science workers, but all are welcome) Check out the map and links, please: https://sites.google.com/view/healthagainstline3/home?emci=1785537b-51f9-eb11-b563-501ac57b8fa7&emdi=4f4f27c2-1dfa-eb11-b563-501ac57b8fa7&ceid=155049

Reflections – August 8, 2021

As the beginning of the fall semester draws near, I find myself remembering “The Clicker.”

If you haven’t read this old post, you might find it interesting. The post describes one of the encounters I had during my years working as a faculty member in academia. I survived those years by writing fieldnotes and reflections to record what I witnessed and experienced. For obvious reasons, I couldn’t share what I wrote then. One of the reasons I began blogging about six years ago was to finally share some of the stories. Although I did my best to remove all personal identifiers, one person did recognize a few of the protagonists since she, like me, was a target of theirs because she was different.” Today, one of those experiences came to mind and inspired the following reflection.

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as she stood by the cutting board

slicing up an old apple

before it finally became too rotten to eat

she found herself once again

looking back at her social awkwardness

chuckling about petty colleagues

who thought they were

meting out punishment by

ostracizing her from their social gatherings

when in reality, from her perspective,

they were actually sparing her discomfort

from the meaningless small talk

she would have had to endure otherwise

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august 8 2021

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I am truly grateful that I retired early and now have the gift of a position teaching groups of diverse, amazing students with the support of competent, supportive colleagues. But it’s time for me to get back to the apple before it turns even browner…

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)

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