15 Ripples In My Ocean of Gratitude

Tomorrow is not promised today….
So we must show gratitude whenever we can. Today is the only gift we have, the “present”. And the only thing that is certain is the Future is uncertain. So I must focus on today to ensure a better tomorrow.

For many indigenous nations across Turtle Island Gratitude is Eastern Direction medicine. Giving thanks is our soul rising like the Sun at Dawn. Gratitude is healing. Our smile; touch; laughter; presence….is each of us blessing the universe.

Gratitude says: “We all have a story to tell…an ancient story passed through the bloodlines and spirits of our ancestors.” When someone shares their story be grateful. They have exchanged a life giving energy flow as nourishing as water.

As part of my continual work on “self-awareness” and healing. I am going to share my truth and the deeds I will put forth to honour that truth in this 4 part blog post. Many of these revelations of wellness practices through an indigenous lens are currently being explored by participants enrolled in my weekly course at the TD Centre of Learning in Regent Park. To practise my teachings here are my 15 acts of gratitude or kindness, which I will demonstrate in this life time.

15. Continue to celebrate the changing of the seasons in an authentic way. This means calibrating my mental; physical; emotional and spiritual to the natural rhythms and manifestations each season brings. Allowing my eating; sleeping; working; playing; fasting; celebrating and meditative habits mirror those of my ancestors within a contemporary context.

14. Smile effortlessly if I’m moved to. A forced smile is a fake smile. I want to smile because someone or something moves me in a real way and share that moving moment no matter how simple or complex in a giving; kind expression of “some kind of wonderful”. This will be challenging since I am smile self-conscious somewhat still…that whole gap tooth thang. And living in the screw-face Capitol doesn’t help matters. Regardless there is a soft; warm; happy and humorous side to myself that I’d like to beginning sharing more.

13. Say Nya:weh; Chi Miigwetch and Wela’ lin to anyone, stranger, friend or foe who demonstrates an act of kindness towards me. It’s more than manners for manners sake. It’s karma. To get appreciation you must show appreciation. Never let pride prevent you from doing this even to those who curse the ground you walk on.

12. Tell those who demonstrate effort and good intentions that they are appreciated and I am proud of them. Seeing the potential in others and making someone aware that you see it; assists in elevating collective consciousness and when you lift as you rise the universe will reward you.

11. Visit immediate family members at least once a month. Sometimes it’s as if I don’t have kin living in the same city I am these days. We all have demanding careers; families and other commitments on the daily, but this “only getting together during birthdays and statutory holidays” means in fact I’m only seeing my parents; and my siblings maybe 4 times a year. No more. I’ll be checking in on family in the tdot at least monthly. Even if it’s just for dinner. In these times; our family ties need to be strengthened.

10. Make time for bi-weekly chill out’s with fellow artivists; and leaders who are part of my social networks; but we have not spent enough time kicking it face to face to discuss potential collaborations. The movements of a balanced individual embody the intrapersonal and interpersonal. So while I enjoy introspection and independent pursuits I must also make time to build where a common goal between others can be found.

9. Continue to participate civically in my communities. Balancing paid work with volunteerism. Not just talking about making things happen but being motivated to get shit done. One of my motivations for giving of my time is a better overstanding of “MY PRIVILEGES”, what this means is there are ppl who cannot eat at the tables I eat at because I benefit from something they haven’t got. For example I completed high school and have Bachelor Degrees; while some ppl are unable to read and write. Maybe this is why I gravitate towards giving in areas connected to education and literacy. I am also gonna stop turning a blind eye to someone in need if it’s within my capacity to do something. For example if the same homeless elder is asking for change to get a beverage from the Timmies I’m frequenting before work. Why not just ask them what drink they’d like and buy them one. Or drop off that spare blanket I never use. Nuff said.

8. Attend and support at least two artistic, educational or cultural events other than my own per month. This is called “showing love”.
Liking or clicking on Going on an event on Facebook and not showing up is not acceptable to me anymore. Aside from showing love, I also want to gain more artistic knowledge to up my own performance game.

7. Write down a minimum of 4 things I am thankful for at the end of each day in my journal. May sound a lil corny, but they say once you write your thoughts on paper it’s easier for you to manifest their intentions through action. Receiving is giving; and giving is receiving.

6. Conceive a new artistic creation even if it’s as tiny as a three line concept or as large as 16 bars of rap lyrics or a new drum song composition at least once a week. By honouring my artistic gifts I am showing gratitude for my purpose and commitment to my path.

5. Make time to learn from and share teachings with both an elder and a youth on a weekly basis. The more we know the more we grow. And learning is a lifelong adventure. Praising another’s expertise brings everyone in the sharing circle joy. And joy is uplifting.

4. Make time to spend outdoors; outside of the urban jungle at least once a week and long distant travel bi-monthly to maintain my spiritual connection to the land; it’s natural wonders reignite me; keep me grounded. Appreciating Mother Earth is the first and only treaty. A promissory note our first exhale makes with the creator. We owe it to our fragile existence to give thanks for her and all she encompasses.

3. Writing monthly love letters to my partner. I discovered that being involved with someone whose as committed to their art and community advocacy work as I am; means we don’t have as much physical time together as other couples. So every moment we do have we make it like it’s our last. When we are apart it often means my mind and heart are working overtime thinking about him and us…and so I’ve decided to write those questions, reflections down in love letters, which I’ll send him once a month. I want him to know how deeply he impacts my life and where I still have uncertainties or intense longings or just questions…I want to be able to share and ask….If my life were to end suddenly I wouldn’t want him wondering about our love. I am so blessed we have each other.

2. Hug and kiss those I have deep Konoronhkwa for like my seeds, my family, and my partner, my close friends, and tell them how much they are loved, valued, appreciated everyday. Affection wasn’t always consistent in my younger years so as an adult it’s still not easy for me, not only to give affection but to receive it. I do know however awkward this can be at times; it is also good medicine. Healing medicine. We all need love. Nurturing. Love.

1. Before I leap out of bed each morning I must hang my fire. Take four deep inhales in and four deep exhales out. So I give time to acknowledge how grateful I am that I have awoken filled with the breath of creation once again. I have and continue to overcome many struggles in my life. I am still here. Life is the most precious gift of all.

Remember the power of gratitude…
Embrace each nu day like it is the very first day of your life and the very last day of your life…to guarantee it will be a day well spent.

Nya:weh

Mahlikah

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It’s Been A Minute Since Someone Called Me A Whore

I overstand that there are people in this world that are deeply disturbed, I also overstand that in this age of social media networking it is almost inevitable that you will have a cyber encounter with a disturbed individual. I know I am not the first nor will I be the last woman to experience sexual harassment online. Since my journey in the digital landscape I have blocked male email accounts; FB accounts and YouTube Users. However this mornings encounter left me shook on a multitude of levels and is one of the reasons I am blogging about it.

Before you read any further I need to issue a *TRIGGER ALERT* and an *Explicit Language* alert for sensitive readers.

Almost 11 weeks ago I posted a selfie of myself as I was getting ready to attend a birthday celebration at the Harlem restaurant. I took that selfie cuz it was one of those rare occasions where I was dressed up. I’m usually dressed in my hip hop gear…hoodies, t’s and caps. I actually couldn’t believe the woman looking back in the mirror was me…she looked beautiful, sexy, confident. So I snapped and posted.

11 weeks later I have some new comments for that selfie that make me wanna throw up. After skimming the comments I clicked on the persons Instagram handle. It took me to a page filled with pornographic images of young white women and girls. I went back to my pic…I went through so many reactions within minutes of reading:

1. I was grossed out
2. I was infuriated and felt violated

And then the language began to set off triggers causing me to actually question whether those comments were warranted because I was dressed up and looking “sexy”… The classic: “maybe I asked for it”…

I had to have a major inner cipher with my consciousness and a major sage smudge so I cud really listen to the truth that my intuition was attempting to lift to my mental. NO YOU DIDN’T ASK FOR THIS SHIT!!!

So I reported this sexual predator. I blocked this sexual predator. And then I responded to the comments:

Here are the comments to my Instagram selfie below:

#meow2U2
I want to cum all over u
A Native whore is a need not a want
Nice Aboriginal pussy

My response:

In light of #MMIW (murdered missing indigenous women I have blocked u and reported u) my physical beauty is not an open invitation for verbally sadistic rape talk. Language such as this is sexual harassment and an act of violence. No matter what the medium this kind of talk is an act of violence against women. And not only are u attempting to degrade my gender but also my ethnicity. You are obviously disturbed and sick and need help.

Will this incident deter me from expressing myself visually online…no. This incident is a reminder that both the physical and cyber worlds I navigate through are rancid with systemic sexism; racism and every other ism u can imagine. I will continue to represent myself with courage; integrity and straight up fierceness. I spent a large part of my adolescences and early adulthood plagued by fear because of perverts like this Instagram dude. I’ve come to far in my personal healing journey to revert back to victim status.

M

Still I Rize #4: Reclaiming Konoronhkwa

It’s been said many times; many ways….so much so that for many it has lost it’s essence and we choose to no longer believe in the power of Konoronhkwa…love. And yet next to laughter it is the greatest healing emotional energy in the universe. It is so sad that this cold world has corrupted it’s purity and therefore has left most of us repulsed by the very notion of it. So where will I begin….how will I reclaim Konoronhkwa in order to stimulate the re calibration of my emotional balance?? The first thing I needed to do wuz admit that I came up with both a lot of luv but also an equal amount of fuckery…dysfunction. And no matter how many times I bumped Mary J’s “Real Love” back in the day…I just couldn’t seem to get it right.
I needed to let go of past hurts; disappointments and pain from childhood and adolescence….grieve; forgive and let go. Love is one of the 7 Grandfather Teachings and sits in the Western Direction. Which is also the Adult Stages of Life. As an adult I must re embrace love and relearn love. I must harness the healing properties of love so I can offer those to others. I don’t want to spend my adulthood twisted up in knots….repelling potential opportunities; friendships and partners because I am incapable of Konoronhkwa. Our teachings tell us love brings us peace; harmony with our creator and creation; absolute kindness; freedom; self-acceptance.
To overstand Konoronhkwa is to overstand that it cannot be demanded; it is earned and once earned should flo freely without conditions. To overstand Konoronhkwa is to overstand that I will never be able to love u if I don’t love myself.

Konoronhkwa has taught me so many valuable lessons over the years. These lessons have enabled me to love without judgement and urgency and devotion when it comes to my art; community and seedlings. Today I am now attempting to love courageously…I am allowing my heart to b handled once again after four relationships had my heart battered; bruised; confused and barely beating.

Abandonment after giving initiates a decree of, “I’ll never give my heart away again.”
My true nature however is to love…cause I long for happiness and desire to make my self whole. So for almost six months I have opened up my heart to someone…we both are very strong and yet fragile and we both want to heal emotionally. As I let go of fear…my belief in the possibilities of Konoronhkwa is allowing me to experience the simple joys that a loving relationship should bring. These simple things make me smile; feel giddy and have me demonstrating “random acts” of affection in both private and public spaces. The key to emotional well being lies in the power of my love….<3

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Still I Rize #3: Ebb & Flo

Three months into my “nu me” movement and I still have many rivers to cross. My Eastern Direction shifts to healthier eating and regular exercise are slowly maintaining a rhythm of consistency. However as I begin integrating emotional health awareness into my life I will again
need to revisit aspects of my eating habits which actually contribute negatively to my emotional well being.

I will need to reduce sugar, fat, meat and dairy; I have already started looking for healthier substitutes. Starting this month I am also switching to eating only fish with high omega’s. No more chicken; pork or beef…with the exception of liver for my anemia. If I’m eating red meat or fowl it has to be game meat exclusively now.

What is emotional health? It encompasses mental health issues like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, addiction, and other conditions. But being emotionally healthy also means managing day-to-day issues like stress, making and keeping friendships, changing bad habits, and using your creativity, all of which can have an impact on your physical health. Understanding emotional health means paying attention to your overall happiness and well-being. Being emotionally healthy also involves maintaining control of your thoughts and feelings. People with good emotional health are resilient in the face of challenges, find ways to express their creativity, and understand the importance of social connections. They also recognize the power of spirituality and the value of staying positive. One of my challenges is I’m somewhat of an empath; which means not only am I sensitive to the feelings of others, but I have a tendency to carry the emotions of others with me; which includes both positive feelings and negative. If I don’t release these emotions through smudging, drumming, meditation, forrest bathing, writing, exercising…. They can build up and cause me to become moody; overly emotional and can trigger other emotions associated with my own past hurts, which can cause anger, frustration, deep sadness, withdrawal….so I need to maintain those healthy emotional outlets. And keep up open communication with people close to me so misunderstandings can be avoided. This is also a challenge for me cause despite being a performer, I’m actually extremely shy and guarded about my feelings…especially where relationships are concerned.
I am working on letting go of insecurities within areas of my emotional life. Having a lack of confidence is stopping me from growing and blooming. So I am surrounding myself with individuals who show me why I should be feeling better about myself, they shine light on accomplishments that barely register when they should have. I have done more and come so much farther than I give myself credit for. Emotions are like waves. They come and go, ebb and flo….keeping my head above water; while embracing the tidal waves of life….I swim.

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Still I Rize Entry #1

Still I Rize is a new series of posts that will chronicle the healing journey I will be undertaking this year. Most of my social media followers know me as a dedicated hip hop artist; community warrior; educator; poet; radio host/producer….but like a lot of my peers for all the good I share with the worlds I navigate through; I also have flaws; tainted hollows of my subconscious mind that can and have sabotaged my ability to give and receive in a loving; respectful way. These tremors; triggers; traumas that I experienced during childhood; adolescence and early adulthood continue to resurface on occasion despite healthy eating; regular meditation; positive friends and family; exercise; ceremonies; elder consultations and creating artistically.
I’m tired of past pain robbing me of experiencing potential goodness in the present. I moved from victim to survivor years ago but now I need to transcend survivor. Just surviving as it turns out doesn’t facilitate true thriving….especially where relationships are concerned. Why am making this journey public? I’m already a public person and many people, especially youth consider me a role model. Maybe this will help others in addition to myself. As an MC I acknowledge my ego makes me stubborn and as a poet my emotions make me hyper sensitive so this level of commitment to a subconscious
detox will not be easy in the least. And I will not be able to do this on my own. Readers will come to know who will be supporting me and how as the months progress. This self initiated spiritual intervention was motivated by the loss of someone I care deeply for and my genuine disappointment in my own inability to be a balanced person on a daily basis in all aspects of my life. Sunday January 19th after heading home in a very distraught emotional state I lost focus and was almost hit by a car at a major intersection. In a split second my physical existence was almost vaporized. I have a second chance. Without health of mind body emotions and soul we have nothing. You are welcome to join the journey of the freedom of my mind and liberation of my soul one step at a time.

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Hashtag Poetry Portraits: an exploration of indigenous teachings through digital literacy

Ahnee, She:kon:

Wow it’s been a minute…almost a year since my last post. Mainly cuz life offline…analogue took a major priority. I think it is only fitting my return is motivated by a little project that could….no correction, “Will” create a nu form of poetic expression grounded in an ancient indigenous philosophy…how kool is that?! Hashtag Poetry Portraits is currently a top 10 finalist in the Neighbourhood Arts Network BMO Seed Arts Project Grant. Right now all 10 projects are fighting to make the top 6 by getting “liked” to death on FB. The 6 projects with the most “Likes” by 5p Monday June 10th…will be awarded
$1, 000 start up for their project. Honestly this is the most bananas competition I’ve ever been involved in. It’s become a full time job….it involves Friends, Family, Arts Networks, Community Organizations and complete strangers. Like after like after like, I feel like I gotta keep motivating all our supporters, rallying my digital soldiers….with the partnerships with ArtCity in St. James Town and Daniels Centre of Learning Regent Park in RP we’ve been able to hustle the whole social media landscape and support is growing. Artists and community members across Turtle Island and abroad have been holding me down. We came in as underdogs in 8th and climbed as high as 2nd. I am doing this for kids 6-13 native and diverse kids who struggle to express the written word but got a lot to say. Kids who live in hoods that get a lot of negative press…but for them that hood is where they call home. My connection to these inner city communities is authentic. I have been a part of them for almost 13 years and don’t plan on stopping.

Click on the link below:

Hashtag Poetry Portraits

Like! Share!!

It only takes on step to start a run…lets run together!!

Nia:wen Chi Miigwetch

M

It’s 2012 We Are Not Chief Wahoo!!

When I was a teacher candidate @ York U I had a placement at a suburban elementary school in the affluent Lawrence and Yonge area. The school lacked the visual diversity I was accustomed to during my middle school and HS years in Scar-Town. The minority group in this school were Jewish students. The majority group were Anglo-Saxon students. I was placed in a grade 5 class of 20 students, only two were of colour. With few teachers of colour on staff it was clear non-white cultural and historical identities were not being showcased or learned about. I soon changed that. One of the curricular focuses my classroom teacher asked me to examine with the kids was Media English. She knew I already had a BA from Ryerson in Radio & Television Arts. The first thing I taught the kids was how to write for radio. And specifically how to create editorials. I don’t think however the school administration was quite ready for the subject matter nor the method of delivery. I spent several sessions on exploring contemporary issues affecting First People’s. One of great interest to the students, especially the boys was the use of Native imaging in American sports teams. Yea those white kids woke up…they created an editorial segment on the use of these images and why it is inappropriate by reading their pieces during the morning announcements. This was the first time student voices were heard on the morning announcements at this school.

Fast forward ahead I’m starting Living Through the Arts Workshops for the RCM at Food Share. The focus is Anti-Oppression through Spoken Word. I was specifically brought in because youth in a summer internship program were regularly exchanging racial slurs and stereotyping each other to the point where things were escalating to physical violence and youth were starting to drop out.

In one of the first sessions we examined the top 10 most oppressive visual symbols in history. Amongst that top 10 were images such as the burning cross, confederate flag and the swastika. Also making this list was Chief Wahoo….I asked the youth participants to give me the first words that came to mind when they saw that image. Some of the words included:
Stupid, red skinned, foolish, disrespect to Native Americans….nobody said, “That’s an honorable Native Chief”….

Nevertheless the youth who was sporting the cap the first class didn’t want to sport it after that.

As a member of the Hip Hop community I see Chief Wahoo often on caps, jerseys and T’s. Everyone has a reason for wearing an “Indian Sambo”…whether their white, black, brown, yellow or red….

I’m still not down with Wahoo and maybe after reading this you’ll know why: Four Decades of Chief Wahoo!!

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