Are you Indigenous Indian?

“Are you part indigenous Indian?”  Asked a man waiting in line at the Post Office.  A secret smile crept onto my face.  I really wished I was and told him that.  He said he was part and commented on my looks.   No one has ever asked me that before, though I did have one boyfriend years ago, who commented on my feet and how they looked like I had walked many lands and that meant to him that I was very wise.  I decided to just let that be true… for him.

I wondered what the man at the Post Office saw that made him ask. I searched my history and memories like they were typed pages holding secrets, hidden between words.  When I was little I was a blue-eyed blonde with Russian ancestors. But I always thought my grandmother, who was born in Russia, looked like an indigenous Indian and wanted to know the story of her parents and childhood.  I wondered how her looks came about, the tall thin woman she was, with high cheekbones, and sunken cheeks.

That small comment, that day, made me feel so special.  The man spoke to my desire to be with or in as many cultures as there are people, a desire to be part of a tribe, well, many tribes.

Images flutter in front of me and I see my grandmother next to an ancient wise Indian, one whose feet have walked the earth, touched the actual soil. I see the deep sun-dried lines that suggest, wisdom and natural beauty which is simply, beautiful, worn and filled with stories.

Good pick up line, I thought.  It turned me inward, into things deeper in me than I can understand. It made me aware of a ball of light deep inside that glows when I decide to look that way.  It may glow all the time, even when I am not looking.

And when those words enter my thoughts I also hear, “There she goes…off the deep end… again. She is sure that is what certain friends and family are saying about her now, “Ball of light, glowing deep inside…whaaat!”  That says too many years in California, for sure!

So, of course, I am headed back to California, with plans to meet old camping friends, and we will camp our way back, through indigenous lands, where I am pretty certain, no one will ask if I am indigenous Indian.  And I will be back in the land where spoken words of balls glowing deep inside are more commonplace, as well as shamans, healers, and therapists.

Dad's Glass

Scared…Sacred

The fences we create bind us to the stories we tell about ourselves.  I am looking for the light in the fences.

I have learned something about scared and sacred.  Scared wakes me up. Sacred lets me steep in an experience of what I am feeling, what I am seeing and what I am doing.

4/17/2017

After a meeting with my two daughters in which they told me that I needed to change something and it needed to be big, I embarked on a very unexpected journey.  My girls spoke from their hearts to mine with love and a deep knowing.  It was January of this year 2017 when I actually let my mind and soul consider moving and returning to the land of my growing up, on the North Shore of Chicago.  I knew that was where I needed to start.  I didn’t know what would happen past April and then May came around.  Now I don’t know what will happen past May.

I have a constant, questioning voice about my decisions or life choices. It makes me completely miserable.  I am working on a better relationship with that voice. Working on hearing it and reminding myself this is an experiment, not a done deal.  That all I can do is be where I am and when that makes me edgy, when I can, I turn towards it and look at it square in the eyes. When I have eyeballed it, I look at it from head to toe, I see the light of it and the dark of it, the shape of it.

This move was yet another life decision and I wanted to be sure it was the right choice. Embedded in my head was my father’s words just before his death, “Never regret anything, Ellen.”  It puzzled me then and puzzles me now. I regret most things at some point or another, except having my two girls and going to Del Art. Did my father really never have regrets?  Or was he saying that because he had so many regrets and regretted regretting?

My choice to move away from the Bay Area, my friends, my kids and what I have known for 30+ years felt risky, scary, and so crazy. I suffered the 10+ required days of thinking about how this would work and each day was filled with fear. I had no appetite, and a gazillion roiling thoughts going around and around in my head about how this would work, what would I do with all my stuff and all I really wanted to do was to discard everything. I was exhilarated, and exhausted, eating and sleep suffered a bit. All of that continued as I proceeded to get a renter for a year, empty my home, fix a few things in the house and leave by Sunday April 2nd.

I arrived in Evanston 4 weeks ago as of this rewrite, moved into an Airbnb with a wonderful hostess who also takes care of dogs, and the only things I know for sure are that I will be feeding and walking Henry twice a day, going to Lake Michigan and eating in or out. Other than that, I really do not know how my days will be filled when I get up in the morning and the quiet voice of doubt whips up and I am flattened by thoughts of what the hell have I done by moving here.  How will I bring in income? Maybe I will just get camping gear and stay on the road.

My days always get filled regardless of my chattering mind, some days are slower than others. Some days have been filled with what I must do. I have had to get dog permits for the Mr. to go to the beach. That alone took 3 visits and a very patient clerk at the City of Evanston who commented on my commitment to get this done. I told her that I would come back from time to time just to say hi, so we wouldn’t miss each other too much.  We both laughed and wondered if I actually would do that.  I have had to get my car tuned up, take a ring in to be fixed, get a button for a shirt and sew it on. I have gotten a library card, found art and needlework classes, continued my writing, working on my website and figuring out licensure here. I have met friendly strangers, explored cafes and restaurants. I have located sanghas that offer insight meditation, and most days I have gotten in my 10,000 steps while exploring the many villages on the North Shore.

Each errand I have gives me another opportunity to meet people, and the people I have met are really swell.  That 50’s word, swell takes me to when I was growing up here on the North Shore of Chicago. Swell reminds me of the harlequin print peddle pushers my mother made from altered hand-me-downs, of the ice cream truck with organ music that would arrive in front of our house at 1083 Oak Street on Saturdays.  Swell reminds me of the light pouring in through the glass shelves at the bottom of the long steps to the second floor of our house. It was the house where I would sit in puddles of sun which poured out on the carpeted floor. Swell takes me back to the wonderfully long summer days on Lake Michigan, and most of all it reminds me of my mother in her handmade batik moo moo dress busy in the kitchen or helping at my father’s store. I felt connected back then. Being here, in the land of “midwest, milk fed beauties” (thank you Max Greenstreet), connects me again to a place I feel I might belong.

The other day while waiting for my car to have a routine check at the recommended Duxler Auto Repair on Greenbay, I ate at Prarie Joe’s.  I sat outside with Mr. H. soaking in the sun and trying to remember the cold of winters here as if to prepare ahead. Good old Henry drew a visitor to us and she was the self-proclaimed mayor of Central Street, Tina. While chatting, sitting right there on Prairie Ave., Tina told me about the many different streets she lived on, all bearing the name Prairie. She reminded me of a time, before my time, when there were prairies around here, and of the time my family drove out to the so-called first McDonalds in our two-tone Ford, passing by prairies all around.

Those days of my youth could have been held as sacred if I had known what that meant. The only thing I knew was that I was alone a lot, and life at home gave me both comfort and fear. I knew where I belonged and that was a comfort and knowing where I belonged made me a little bored and antsy.  As a kid I seemed to have spent a lot of time waiting: waiting for a ride to come get me, waiting for a classmate to come over, waiting for my brother to play with me and make silly jokes, waiting for my dad to be home for dinner and waiting for him to be in a better mood.  I felt bored a lot like my mind was hungry for concepts to mull around. I needed something to think about to drown out my yearning for my dad to be okay, not grumpy, not depressed, and not angry.  I needed concepts like sacred as an antidote to being scared.

 

 

The Chaos of Personal Change: An Unraveling

At first, things seem impossible…

This is not a how-to, this is just what has happened. Choices I have made, where I have been and what has happened.

This story started too many years ago but I will spare you and only go back to Dec 26, 2016, at about 9 am. As we started to make the bed and ready the room for the next Airbnb-er, my youngest adult daughter started to talk to me about how unhappy I seemed. The conversation continued at the Cerrito Grocery Annex with my eldest daughter joining us.  Both beautiful, with different versions of wondrous blue eyes–my daughters, spoke from an intrinsic beauty that is not about hair length, color or cut, not about clothing or make-up worn, how skinny or fat they are, or how pretty they are. They spoke to me from those hues of blue found in their loving souls, “Mom, you are so unhappy. You need to do something, don’t stay here for us.” Tears welled up from a place I had forgotten resided in me,”We hate seeing you so unhappy. We have seen how strong you are, how you’ve changed.  We want to feel inspired by you, you have lost yourself.” The inside pain informed me and I knew they were saying some things that were true.

Later that day, my eldest and I went shopping in SF and as I parked the car, I had a sense that my wallet was going to be stolen.  Though I heard that voice in my head, I did not act on my intuition. As the day went on, my wallet was in fact stolen. Pickpocketed from my purse which hung too loosely from my shoulder, in that casual, chic stupid way.  Panic shot up inside me like an explosion. My thoughts were like fireworks, shooting around about identity theft, mug shots of the hundreds of people who’d walked past me that day, and wondering why. Thinking of the poverty that lurks in every corner waiting to steal what it needed. Wishing that I had listened to that voice, going over and over what was in my wallet that I needed to replace. What was I forgetting?

My identity was stolen, my finances were at risk. I couldn’t help but miss the ironic meaning of this timing and intrusion into my life, into my psyche, into my soul.

As a good and proper adult would do, I went off to the DMV  first thing the next day to get a new license only to find out that there was a tie to my ex-husband I wasn’t aware of. After much hunting, and searching, I uncovered that there was a photo citation of a female, (supposedly me) driving through a red light in my ex’s truck from 3 years ago. But no one could show me the evidential photo. I ended up in the Wiley Manuel Walk in Court Jan. 3, at 8 am and by 11 am I found that the photo no longer existed. The citation was dismissed due to lack of evidence.  Identity returned with required searching and suffering.

Words like the victim being victimized came to mind. My wallet was stolen and I was treated like a perpetrator for a crime that was no fault of my own. I felt that I was working so hard to not be a victim in my life.  But here it was, official, in my face, undeniably the victim, twice, at least twice.

The conversation with the girls that morning had time to cool in my heart. The stolen wallet distraction was useful, allowing the thoughts and concerns from the talk to find a place inside where they could be attended to with care. Having let my girls down, feeling so exposed, still, aches in my gut and makes me teary. It is a good reminder of a responsibility  I hold for my daughters and my daughters’ daughters and their daughters. The responsibility to keep waking up, showing up and saying what is so (thinking respond-ability…yes I have been in California too long).  The girls became the agent of change I was needing. They spoke a truth I had to listen to. Another layer of unraveling since my divorce 8+ years ago was offering up an opportunity, or as I would joke with my sister-friend, another opportunity to experience pain.

I was not happy where I was living. Though beautiful with green all around, it was not right for me.  These truths were daunting.  But I knew I needed to sit with it knowing I wasn’t happy, knowing I didn’t want to live where I lived and knowing I had not one answer about what to do next.  Finally being pushed so far, I could not even consider forcing an answer, I could only sit with what I didn’t know.

At first, things seem impossible, then things seem improbable…then…