It is difficult when we lose our loved ones especially when it is early and unexpected. On June 1, 2021 my only sister Anna passed into the spirit world at aged 61. Anna was a beautiful woman with a wild spirit and penchant for joking and laughter. She was genuinely kind-hearted and compassionate with a connection to animals beyond words. She loved life and would often say to me “I’ve never been bored – I don’t understand how people can say that.” She was the single mother of three now adult children Valerie, Bette and Will and self identified “crazy Grandma” to several grandchildren and great grandchildren.
I recall one Christmas Anna invited an elderly man to dinner and introduced him simply as her friend from down the street. He was quiet and reserved and seemed to enjoy his time with our family in Anna’s first floor apartment “in the hood’. It was at least a year after that I asked who he was and she disclosed that she saw him often at the beer store asking for change so invited him for dinner. About 4 years ago she saw a man yelling obscenities while yanking the leash of his Doberman pincer so of course she promptly ran down from the third-floor balcony and with her 120 lb frame took the dog away from its owner. She called the SPCA who came and took the dog to shelter.
The truth is Anna was haunted with guilt. You see she was holding our father’s hand when he went under the water and drowned. She was all but 12. Given that my mother was raised by a mom who lived her entire childhood in residential school, she was not equipped to help us kids through the trauma of witnessing our father’s death. For Anna the experience cut her to the very core. She told me once “Karen I don’t know who I am”. I would not be telling the full story if I didn’t say that one of her struggles was addiction, and in the end, this is what took her life. Why do I tell you this? Because addiction is a symptom and NOT an identity. It is not unlike cancer in its potentially remitting and relapsing nature. It consumes people from the inside out. It requires the non-addicted to heal our own perceptions and judgements so that we can release our family members from the bonds of addiction that WE create through tethering their identity to the symptom that we loath and despise. We must replace the loathing with love and human connection so that we create a relationship free of the bonds that addiction holds in our minds – the mind of both the addicted and the non-addicted – to change our view of who our family members are who struggle with it.
Anna was a beautiful woman with a wild spirit and penchant for joking and laughter. She was genuinely kind-hearted and compassionate with a connection to animals beyond words.
And I love her!
Karenna’onwe June 2021
As I contemplate the gifts that COVID has brought I am reminded that there are things that these COVID times have taken away as well. While painful, I see that the things that are leaving me are also a blessing. To be specific there are things, events, happenings, food and drink and yes even people to which my soul has been tethered. Tethered in an unhealthy way. Leaving my energy leaking out on the ground and in some cases leaving my BEING and transferring to others – a sort of reverse vampire kind of thing if you get my drift.
The gift of time and space that COVID has brought with her has allowed me to finally feel these energy leaks in my body and envision the path to seal them. I could say that these tethers represent my lack of boundaries. Clear boundaries that define who I am and that separate my Being from other people, events, happenings. Sure, these things have come into my life but I don’t have to let them into my Being. Let my very essence flow into them in an attempt to somehow change them to be what I want or think I need them to be.
As our Elders have told us, we must name COVID. Why? Because she is part of creation and we must enter into a relationship with her and show our respect and love for her and the lessons she brings. Then and only then can we lovingly ask her to leave us because we have heard her and are ready to heal, change, become our true self. For me her name is Yah teyoyatayen – she has no body. For me that is the lesson she brings in her infinite wisdom. In my tethered living I have not known the edges of my own Being, my own body, and in this way of living I have been unhealthy. Focusing my energy outward on the things I am tethered to, attempting to fix what triggers feelings of un-wholeness rather than putting my energy into becoming the fullness of ME, clearly defined, full to the brim with love’s energy that then overflows to the people, things and events around me. That is the gift of COVID to me. She pushes me to wholeness. Heals my wounds. Enables me to fill with love to overflowing.
Nya:wen Yah teyoyatayen. Nyawen’kowa.
She:kon (hello) friends. Let this be our first blog post from The Aunties Dandelion. Yay! I am Karenna'on:we (Ga-law-na-ooh-way) a.k.a.Karen Hill and my colleague Auntie is Kahsto'serakwathe (Ga-stow-sella-gwa-tay) a.k.a. Paulette Moore.
As great ideas flow from sharing ideas, thoughts and personal stories Kahsto'serakwathe and I spent a lot of time talking about our lives and what we've learned in our time here on earth (cant say how long that's been - wink wink). What we both recognized is that as Indigenous people we are at a crossroads. A crossroads that asks us to look at WHO we are and WHAT we want and need to move forward and support the coming generations. What we agreed on was that it is time to move beyond pushing against the things that don't serve us as Indigenous people and shift to picking up the things that will support us and future faces to come.
What does this mean? It means we don't need to struggle with the status quo anymore. Why? Because we acknowledge that we don't need permission to truly embody the traditional cultural teachings that lead us to our true state of BEING. The truth. Our freedom and survival. It's all in our DNA. Healing truly comes from the inside out as we begin to bathe our Gene's (not jeans) in an environment we create as we nurture our original instructions given to us by our Creator. Now that is true "epigenetics". (I'm trained as a doctor so I just had to say that).
Original post March 26-2020