Monday, December 29, 2014

A kind word

I don't write here as much as I think about writing. Life gets busy, or I don't know how to put into words what I'm thinking...or I the topic is personal & I feel too vulnerable to put it out there.

But I do write when I can, mostly because people who I've been friends with for years will start sending me individual messages for updates on life, so it's the most efficient way to keep everyone in the loop. Ok...so that sounds some kinda way...but you know it's true & you wouldn't love me if I were anything but honest. 

From time to time, though, I get feedback from strangers that catch me off guard. Recently I got a comment on a post I'd completely forgotten about. One word, but was simple & appreciated. Today, I saw a notification on Twitter, with a quote I recognized. It sorta took my breath for a moment. 


I recognized the quote & all at once felt strangely exposed, while also grateful they took the time to leave the comment. 

I won't lie, it's hard for me to have people know these things. It's something I don't talk about much, except with others who've been there. 

Years ago, I helped others talk through their own experiences & shared with them, but it was in a protected space, not exposed to the world. But, still, I leave those words out there because I have been contacted by survivors & secondaries who tell me it's made a difference to them. 

So, today, I ask this: make a difference to someone. Even if it's just in a small way, with a kind word or appreciation. You never know who's feeling alone, or unappreciated, or who could just benefit from an extra smile. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Big news

Just got an email from Lil Sis's attorney. The tribe got their affidavits in & rights have been terminated on both parents. So we can move forward to adoption.

While I know this hurts her mother so much, this is a huge step towards helping her feel secure, which is a major part of helping her heal.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Busy, Busy

Lately, there have been a lot of building projects going on. I didn't plan on them all happening at the same time, but that's how it happened.

I'm a big fan on Freecycle & managed to get a load of pressure treated lumber. Free stuff is great. Free lumber is a miracle. So, my older boys (11 & 13) helped me build a new set of bunks for the boys' room.


They love their new beds & I'm happy because it's way more stable than the metal loft bed that was in there previously. 

And, because I despise throwing anything away, I turned the loft bed into a greenhouse. I have to say, I'm happy with the results so far. We're still harvesting peppers, even though we've already had a freeze & my garden is now gone. My greenhouse may actually help me to not hate winter.







Our other big build was a chicken pen. Our city allows us to keep a few backyard chickens. The kids' old swing set frame was bent & no longer safe, but it makes a great frame for a coop. I also covered one end with a plywood roof, covered in shingles fashioned from aluminum cans. It's ugly, but functional. And I'm happy to have some birds again.







Monday, September 22, 2014

Court update from last month

Looking at my calendar, it occurs to me that I forgot to update on court last month. My apologies, but the death in the family took precedence. 

Tpr has been file on both the mother & unknown father. A motion for default termination on unknown father was taken under advisement, pending receipt of an affidavit from the tribe's ICW department, stating they have no objection.

Her mother failed to appear, but the judge called her to have her appear telephonically. She says she plans to start working her plan, but still hasn't done anything yet, nor does she know when she will. 

Pretrial is scheduled for October & tpr trial for November. However, the stand-in attorney for the child (usual attorney was unavailable) made a motion for default judgement against mother, as well, which is under advisement by the Court. What this means is, if she fails to appear at any future proceedings & no attorney appears on her behalf, the judge can terminate her rights without the jury trial. She was informed of this.

So...we shall see...


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Second Mother


"Although you're not my mother
You mean as much to me,
As though you were,
As though you are, 
And~as though you'll always be.
For mothering is so much more
Than simply giving life
It's loving understanding
In times of pain and strife
A love that's freely given
And many sacrifices made
Have made a debt, that all my life, 
Shall never be repaid
I know what good there is in me
Has come from knowing you.
And so~when counting mothers,
I find I have two."

My second mother left this life today. The above poem was hung on her dining room wall; a gift from one of the many "extras" she parented along the way. 

She took me into her family when I was 17 & taught me so much. She helped me find my voice & encouraged me to do what made me happy, regardless of the judgements of others. She encouraged me to repair my relationship with my parents & gave me a place to live when I needed one.

She was a remarkable person. Imperfect, like us all. Through her triumphs & mistakes, she taught me how to live...&, now, how to die, with dignity & grace. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Not broken, just bent

"I can't believe you've never seen The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo! You have to watch it. Do you want to borrow my copy? It is so good."

"I can't watch that. I tried. I can't."

And suddenly the tone of an otherwise friendly conversation changed, as often happens with someone who knows my story. There was the stammering apology. Followed by the awkward not knowing what to say to me. And, always the worst part, the air of pity that sweeps in like a thick, choking fog.

I stopped the conversation immediately.

"Don't do that. It's ok. It's not something that you think about on a regular basis, and that's ok. But the truth is that the things that have happened to me actually change people's perceptions of me more than they actually effect my daily life." 

This conversation has replayed in my head several times in the few days since. What I said was true. Rape changed me. It shattered my reality & changed my view of the world. But I am not broken. I am not hopelessly damaged goods. I do not need pity or for people to feel like they have to treat me as fragile glass. 

I'm sure people mean well when they do that, but it's actually the reason I don't tell people. It changes they way they look at me. It alters their perception of me. And, sometimes, their reaction may alter my perception of them.

The inability of some people to get past this condescending attitude has, in the past, interfered with relationships &, quite honestly, is the reason that very few people know about my history. It affects me, sure; but it doesn't define me & I don't want it to shape who they see me as. I don't need to be fixed.

Just like everyone else, I am perfectly imperfect. Judge me on who I am now & how I choose to treat other people, rather than some detail if my past that was beyond my control.


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Court update

Earlier this week, we had yet another court hearing on Lil Sis's case. As usual, nothing has really happened, but it was certainly interesting.

Her mother was released from prison 3 months ago. According to the CW, Gma called him a couple times in the last week or so. When told that they wouldn't discuss the case with her, she finally made the mother call. 

It appears that the mother is living with Gma again & Gma is pushing her to get her daughter back so she (Gma) can have her. It's like a repeat of 5 years ago. This is the same pattern of behavior that occurred in her sister's case. 

Perhaps that is why I was a lil more forceful in talking to the judge. Instead of objectively answering his questions, I sorta too over the hearing. I informed the court of all the things I thought they should know that DHS had not been telling them. 

Up until this point, everyone else involved (child's attorney, ADA & Judge) had been operating as if this child was only in care because her mother had been incarcerated at the time Gma's house became unsafe. Since the judge gave me more latitude this time around, I took the opportunity to inform them about the fact that this mother abandoned her when she was one, long before her incarceration & I made it clear that the struggles that Lil Sis is having right now are directly linked to the mishandling of her case throughout her life & that they cannot be addressed properly until she has permanency.

At that point the CW tried to blame the ADA for tpr (termination of parental rights) not being filed yet. So the ADA yells at CW for not making the necessary request  for the filing of tpr. 

In the end, next hearing is set out for 60 days to give ADA time to file & serve tpr petition. Oh yeah...and mother is back in jail for violations of the terms I her release. 

The foster care system is never boring...
Or logical. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Step In the Right Direction...

It was 9:29 this morning, when I saw my phone light up. The message I received contained only a link. I was in disbelief when I read the headline: In Landmark Decision, U.S. Patent Office Cancels Trademark For Redskins Football Team

After so many years of advocating against racist mascots, I hate to admit it, but I was not very optimistic that the Trademark Board would reach this decision. After all, they seemed to do backflips to dismiss the earlier suit without a trial on the merits.

It wasn't until other reports started appearing (the New York Times, Sports Illustrated, and others) that I started to really comprehend what had happened. This isn't the end of the fight, by any means. It doesn't signal the absolute immediacy of a cultural paradigm shift. However, it's a start.

Cancelling the federal trademark protection is a start to providing a monetary incentive towards changing the name. Hopefully the acknowledgment that the mascot is, indeed, disparaging will spur those teams that have been on the fence about changing to go ahead and do the right thing.

I'd like to thank Susan Harjo & Amanda Blackhorse for the work that they've done on this issue, as well as so many thousands of others who stand up against stereotypical & racist mascots. This includes, naturally, the members and supporters of EONM, which formed following the success of #NotYourMascot.

It was EONM who requested that I respond to a request for an on-camera interview with Fox News. It was such short notice & I felt completely unprepared, but I wanted to lend my voice to the issue. Hope I didn't embarrass any of you. lol

I'm technologically challenged, so I couldn't get the video to embed properly. I've quoted the print article below, but to see the video coverage, click HERE.




OKLAHOMA CITY - People across the country are joining a decades-old debate in Oklahoma: are Native American mascots okay?Wednesday, the U.S. Patent Office canceled six Washington Redskins trademarks because they "were disparaging to Native Americans when they were register."
Groups have been working in Oklahoma to get rid of Native mascots for years.  Still, many Oklahomans do not agree they need to go.

"I don't think they mean it now as being derogatory. I think that's just the name," Sam told FOX 25.

Brent Sanner posted on the
FOX 25 Facebook page, "I, as a person of Indian heritage do NOT take offense of namesakes and I've watched for several years and have never seen the Washington Redskins belittle in any way the American Indian culture."

Still, others say names like "Redskins" have to go.

"I believe with changing times, we have to adjust with social conventions, so if a change needs to be made we need to make these changes," Oklahoman Jose Escapa said.

Oklahoma group Eradicating Offensive Native Mascotry is celebrating the Patent Office's decision.

"We also found the arguments put forward by the Washington, DC NFL franchise in the trademark case disingenuous. The term Redsk*ns may seem to refer to people in the DC area only to football but this speaks to the elimination of Native voices in the community through the historical fact of genocide. It has only been through the advent of social media and the work of the 900+ Native members and their allies of EONM that many of the team’s fans have ever even spoken to a Native person about how they feel about the name. Citing our elimination from the American consciousness because of genocide is not an acceptable argument to continued use of a slur.," the group said in a statement.

"I think a lot of people don't understand the historical basis for the name in the first place," Summer Wesley said.

Wesley is a tribal attorney who also works with EONM.  She has spent about 15-years fighting for the cause.

Wesley says Native mascots, even those that aren't [intended to be] derogatory are damaging because they perpetuate stereotypes and racism and portray on a caricature of Indian peoples.

"I've found that very few people understand the psychological and sociological impact that stereotypical representations in sports and media have on society on a whole, especially developing children," Wesley said.

 This is a step in the right direction...but there is still so much to do. Many things need to change in Indian Country & being seen as humans is an important first step to achieving those goals.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Employed again

Previously, I mentioned having to find a new job. Initially, at the request of my former boss, I declined to say what happened. However, since he is now publicly posting about it online, I see no reason to keep it quiet (I'm not even sure why he asked me to keep it a secret in the first place).

The owner of the firm decided to relocate to another state. This wouldn't have been so bad but for the fact that the employees were misled so that we would be on staff to cover the work and take care of the business while he took weeks of vacations & secretly planned his transition towards the move. Initially, we were told that they were purchasing another vacation home. Then, when he applied to be admitted to the Bar in that state, we were told that it was just to hopefully start picking up a few cases down there to ultimately lead to a two branch firm. Then, once he had everything lined up, we were told he was going to move...but that it would be a slow transition. Then, a few days after that revelation, he informed me that he was moving completely & I only had 6 weeks of employment left.

The problem with that is most companies don't even complete their hiring process in that amount of time. It also irritated me to finally find out that he had been planning this for quite some time before even starting the process of buying his new home. Relocating was the plan from the beginning, but he wanted us to work for him until the end. Needless to say, I feel rather used by this. I was stuck in his office, doing his job, while he took multiple vacations in the last few months, working for far less than my work was worth, because there was a promise of better things in the future. In fact, a few months prior, I had declined to apply for an excellent position with one of the tribes. Given my experience & references, I think I would have had a good chance of getting the job, but I didn't apply because I felt like I should be loyal to the plans we had been making for the firm. I won't make that mistake again.

I was able to find another job, which I started on Monday. So, I was only out of work for a week. It's not a bad job, but it's not my passion, so I'm looking at it as a temporary arrangement. I've still got some application in for some legal jobs, but those listings don't even close for a while, so they won't even start reviewing applications for weeks. I'm grateful to have a job, but it sorta feels like I'm back in the same place I was 4 years ago (which is why I went to law school), only now I have less support & more responsibilities. Trying to stay positive though.


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Wow. I'm in shock.

This morning I discovered that my girls' mother was released from prison and I have yet to be informed by DHS. I'm not sure what happened here. In February, I was told that she had at least two more years before she would even be eligible for release. How does one go from not eligible for a couple years to being released in a month? I have no idea.

To my knowledge, a petition to terminate her parental rights to Lil Sis has not been filed. Now that the system has played around and waited so long, it will probably be extended even longer to give her a chance to work her plan.

Don't get me wrong, I want her to be successful. I want her to learn to lead a healthy, productive life. However, not at the expense of a child. Lil Sis has not seen her since she was an infant. She is 6 now & has no bond with her and no memories of her. Given everything she's been through already, I can't even imagine...

Nope...I'm not going there.

One step at a time. That's all I can do.

Lord protect my babies & give me strength to give them whatever they need.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Reflections

For the last couple hours, I've been reading the journal in which I recorded our first round of foster care. From the first visit in the fall of 2007, through the time we were granted guardianship in 2010.

The grief she went through. The tears. The nightmares. So much for such a young child.

And then I think about who she is today. She has grown so much. She went from a toddler who they thought may never be able to attach to anyone, to a happy, loving 8 year old.

There are other things in the words written in those pages. So many emotions, mostly anger & frustration, at the system. But the one thing that I didn't remember is how soon Lil Sis came into the picture. Beautiful had only been with us for a few weeks when we were asked if we'd be willing to take her little sister at birth. In that entry I wrote "if the two of them can't have their family, they should definitely have each other."

So, I guess in some ways, the girls were always a package deal. The placement paperwork wasn't even filed yet before they asked us to commit to the new baby, as well (literally, as they moved her in without the proper paperwork & just back dated a week or so later). Perhaps that why it seemed so inconceivable to allow the girls to lose each other, once it came down to it.

Now, I'll be honest, I don't think I'll be able to just keep taking siblings, should their mother ever have any more. But it was always the goal to keep these two together & I still think that maintaining that is best for them, despite what my critics say.

In any event, I'm very glad that I kept the journal & I recommend it to all fost/adopt parents. There are details and observations that I had forgotten about my interactions with their bio family. Since most of them are pretty negative, the girls will probably be grown before I share them all, but it's part of their story & they are entitled to it, if they wish.

All in all, even though many of the entries were difficult to read, it reminded me of how far we've come...& it gave me hope that this round on the whole crazy foster care rollercoaster may have an end, at some point.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Finding things I didn't know were lost...

Sorting through stuff that has spent the last few years in storage & came across an envelope from 2005. I don't know why I noticed the postmark but paid no attention to the return address before opening it. It kind of took my breathe when the family tree full of hand written entries, some of which I can't read, & photos from mom's bio father fell out.

I don't even remember receiving this stuff, but I do recall the circumstances surrounding it. My mother had been in the hospital & they weren't sure what was wrong with her. She wasn't getting any better, and they had looked for everything that we knew was part of her family history. However, because Mom was adopted by her maternal grandparents & we had not had contact with her bio father for years, we really only had one side's information. So, I called her bio father to get his medical history. Although it upset her to find this out, I am glad that I did so. Getting that medical history led to the diagnosis of her medical conditions and she has been better able to manage her health ever since.

However, doing so opened a door that I had closed years before.

I remember meeting him when I was around 3. I'm not sure why Mom chose to not have a relationship after that, as I've never asked. Perhaps she did try & he flaked out, as was his habit. But, for years we received sporadic birthday or Christmas cards.

As a child, I didn't mind getting cards from him. I knew who he was, but I also had a good relationship with my Gramma & Grampa. I thought getting to know him would be interesting, because it would give me a fuller picture of where we came from & such. However, he expected to be instantly taken in as "grandpa" & for me to treat him, a stranger, as such. I expressed quite clearly that I was not going to do that several times but my boundaries were ignored. The relationship that I had with him was my choice & I didn't appreciate his attempts to force me into how he wished for it to be defined. So, when I was around 8, I told him that I didn't wish to hear from him anymore. After that, I think I received a couple cards "from him" (really sent by his girlfriend, so I'm not even sure if he was aware they were sent).

Needless to say, it was a rather awkward conversation when I had to call him and tell him that I tracked him down through the internet & wanted to know about all his medical issues so that, hopefully, his daughter would not die. Thankfully, he provided the information we needed, but he also told me that he had searched for me online & wanted a relationship, etc.

Even though a relationship wasn't something that I needed, I did allow cautious contact with him. He sent me this packet & I took his calls on the few occasions he reached out. He died a few years later.

Sitting here looking at these photos I'm struck by how much my mother looks like him. Also, I'm flooded by thoughts of how this is why, as much as some people would like me to, I can't say definitively that I will never allow my girls to have contact with their bio family.

They may have questions. The may need information. They may just be curious. They may never care to know. What matters is that it is their lives, their family, and their choice. I will support them & try to help them safely navigate whatever choice they make...but it is their choice to make.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day

This Mother's Day, I am grateful to be able to spend time with my mom & my father's mother. She's the only grandmother I have left & I'm so thankful that Memaw is still with us. 

It's been 14 years, this month, since my maternal grandmother died. I didn't realize, until I drove through her small town, how much I've been missing her & Grampa lately. I've even been dreaming about their house. It was a place that I always felt safe, as a child. 

Memaw had a sister, Lovely, who died about a decade ago. When I hear people talk about mothers, I often think of her; which is interesting, since she never had children. She was so nurturing to everyone around her, though. 

Looking back, I think she's as responsible for who I've become, as any other influence in my life. She taught me to be true to who I am & to be flexible & willing to change direction as life changes the circumstances. 

Being a Christian minister, who had been raised with a heavily fundamentalist background, many people would likely be shocked at some of the ideas about scripture, that she & I discussed. But she was an incredible apologist & she wasn't afraid to seperate the text from various levels of superstition that surround it. She taught me to always "study to prove yourself wrong". If you go looking for a point, you'll find it, even if it means unintentionally creating it. However, if you search the original text & intention (well, as close as we have to such) & can't find anything that says your idea is wrong, only then can start to say that you may be right. It's actually quite an amazing strategy, because it frees you from the twisting & taking scripture out of context that happen so often.

Lovely taught me to live without concern for what others think. To live without shame & without allowing others to define me or my relaxation ships. To value myself & those around me, without giving credence to judgement or criticism. To live in a way that makes me happy, so long as it harms no one else. 

She also set an incredible example of generosity. I don't know that I'll ever be able to give as fully & freely to others, without expecting return, as she did, but I certainly try. Perhaps it's seeing how often people took advantage & mistreated her that makes me hesitant. But, then, I remember how much she impacted the lives of so many. What she did was so worth it. 

Lovely only got to meet two of my children. I know she would be amazed & delighted if she could see what my family has become. I really wish my girls could've met such a strong woman, but they will know her through my stories.

My oldest son took his first steps in her home. As I recall, she was as happy & amazed as I was. I remember, even when she was dying, she would ask to see them. In the end, her pain was difficult to manage but, when she'd hold my tiny baby (my second son) she's look truly happy &, for a few moments, seem pain free. 

I will always truly treasure the moments with these people, and others, who have loved & nurtured me throughout my life. On this Mother's Day, remember all the people who have played that role in your life or the lives of your children. And don't forget to be grateful & treasure every moment you have with those who are still with you. They leave this world too quickly. Today, I will be thankful for every moment with them. 


Friday, May 9, 2014

Refocus

I've been out of sorts & anti-social lately. 
And, when I say anti-social, I mean on a serious level...as in, I passed up a date last weekend without even considering it, even though I haven't been on a real date in AGES & I knew it would be amazing. Partly, I'm not ready to see anyone new, even casually, right now. Mostly, though, I just didn't want to leave my house or be around people. 

Stress is at a high level, right now, so I'm tired & moody. Plus my hormones are crazy out of whack. Seriously. Last night I cried uncontrollably over absolutely nothing, repeatedly. It was stupid & frustrating...& completely out of my control. I don't do that. Ever.

I need to go to the doctor. It's time to get my labs redone, after the last abnormal screening. But I really don't want to. The lack of an answer last time was irritating. Plus I've been fighting a UTI for a couple weeks &, if I see the dr., they will insist I take antibiotics...which I can't do unless I'm dying, because of chronic systemic candida. Last time I took antibiotics, it took months of diflucan to finally not be chronically ill. But...yeah...it's really more about not wanting to do the Pap smear again. It's a horrible experience to begin with...& it's even worse with the unanswered questions from last time. I suppose I will have to act like a grown up & get it done before too long but, for now, I procrastinate.

I really don't feel like doing much of anything anyhow. Working, job hunting, recertifying for foster care & trying to figure out how I prepare for the Bar is exhausting. 

The person I used to let off steam to no longer answers my calls, for some reason unknown to me. So, I find I usually just sit in the dark & try to figure out how to work all this stuff out on my own, since it feels like I can't really, consistently count on anyone but myself. I realize that probably seems overly dramatic, but when someone who's been there for years just sorta disappears, that's how it feels. 

I hate admitting that I feel abandoned lately, because it means I have to admit that I need someone. Also, it forces me to own up to the fact that I get tired of feeling like I am expendable & temporary, but I suppose I do, even though I try to pretend that it doesn't bother me. In the end, I can't change what others do, so I try to focus on what is within my control. I'd be lying if I said that I don't miss my friend, though. 

So...I think, tomorrow, the kids & I will drive somewhere and find some woods. Sit on the grass, amongst the trees...near a stream, if I can find one. I will find my center & stop feelin sorry for myself. Regain my focus. I must. 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

My garden keeps me sane

Spider on strawberry blossom

Iris


assorted greens

blackberry blooms

Friday, May 2, 2014

If there's one thing Americans have figured out by now, it's how to kill people...

 I've been following the insanity that is the botched execution in my state.

I know there are many views about whether or not we should be concerned about humane executions. Mostly, I approach it from a constitutional ideal in that, if we allow our government to violate it's foundational laws, we put ourselves & our own families at risk.

More personally, though...my daughter's grandfather was executed at that same prison. When I see his photo, I see her face. She actually looks more like him than she does any other member of her bio family that I met. When I finally have to tell her about his story, I can only imagine how much harder it would be for her to know that he went through something like this.

So, while I understand that this man did horrible things...almost every person, no matter how awful, has someone out there who cares about them. Someone that wasn't responsible for the evil acts done by a monster, but who does time along with them, suffers from the knowledge that their loved one did something unthinkable & who goes through another loss when they are put to death...even the family members who agree with the death sentence. In interviews, many family members of the victims are often quoted as having very little satisfaction following the execution.

So, yeah, I may not have much sympathy for the murderer...but I have tons of empathy for all the other human beings involved in all sides of all this. And I think allowing ourselves to willfully torture people, make us no better than the monsters we are trying to get rid of. I'm not opposed to capital punishment, but we do need to find a better solution than this.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Fallin Fail, Part Tvklo (2)

Last month, I wrote about the daughter of Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin's disrespect to Natives. The following anonymous comment was left on that post:

"Given the Warbonnet is a MALE headdress, you have two choices here.

Call it cultural appropriation, the fight against which used to have other names (xenophobia, segregation and racism, to name just a few). And before you freak out I ask you: Since when is stating that it's okay for you to wear/do something because of your race/ethnic background but it isn't okay for someone of a different race/ethnic background NOT racist?

Or... You can say it's strictly a MALE privilege to wear such a headdress and then be out of line in social justice terms.

But I doubt you will actually address either of my points, because frankly you don't really have a clean way out of this. Other than, perhaps, admitting it isn't that big a deal in the first place."
Perhaps it's just my cynicism, but I assume by the fact that the comment was left anonymously, coupled by the condescending tone, that the purpose was just to be argumentative. However, the false assumptions contained therein are things that I hear parroted quite often, so I felt compelled to address them.

First of all, I won't go into the fact that xenophobia, racism, and segregation, while related and often rooted in common causes, are, in fact, not synonymous; nor are they historical methods for fighting cultural appropriation. To say that they are is to misunderstand what cultural appropriation is, in the first place. Racism & xenophobia have often resulted in segregation, to prevent the equality and intermingling of races, not cultural appropriation. Cultural appropriation is stealing from, and bastardizing, elements of another culture. So, you see, the attempted argument in the first "choice" is foundationally fallacious & logically invalid. In reality, it's a diversionary attempt to dismiss the viewpoints of those who speak out, because it's easier to do so than to face the cognitive dissonance of acknowledging that many of the things that we are accustomed to are actually racist microaggressions. I understand the impulse...just don't expect me to buy into it, or shy away from pointing it out.


As for the second "choice" Anonymous laid out, it, too, is based on faulty assumptions. First of all, traditional gender roles with any given Native society isn't necessarily "out of line in social justice terms". I assume the suggestion is that a headdress being only for males is somehow sexist. However, that there are many layers to why this is a fallacy.

First of all, it is superimposing a value system upon another culture to which is has no valuable or relevant application. Western feminism plays no role in Native cultures. While most Native cultures have (or historically had) prescribed gender roles, to distill the idea down to a simple binary whereas you can extrapolate judgments is to overly simplify & misunderstand. Many tribes believed in Two-Spirit individuals, for example, which requires the rejection of a simple binary understanding of gender. Early missionaries to my tribe recorded their shock at seeing some individuals who were genetically male dressing & living 'as woman'. So there seems to be some persistence of the western idea that sex & gender are synonymous that often clouds peoples' understanding on this.


Secondly, even if we choose to look at it through a lens of binary gender definitions, the fact remains that such headdresses are not solely within the male domain. As Johnnie Jae, of Native Max Magazine, reminded me, there are women who have earned the right to wear the headdress, such as "Minnie Hollow Wood, who fought with the men against the calvary at Little Big Horn, and more recently Chief Theresa Spence as well as other First Nation female chieftains." Therefore, the last "choice" that the commenter left us with is, in fact, not valid, either.

Let's momentarily leave the concept of cultural appropriation as a whole and focus exclusively on that of the headdress. These are not part of my culture, so I have consulted with many people from those cultures, over the years. The refrain that I hear is the sacred nature of them. They must be earned. If someone wears one without earning it, even if they are from within that nation, it is sacrilege.

Since I choose to be a respectful person, I don't deliberately take sacred or exalted objects from other cultures and bastardize, trivialize, or appropriate them. Whether those things are valuable is determined by the culture they belong to, not by me. It really isn't terribly complicated.

As for the young Ms. Fallin, yesterday, she decided to show continued disrespect to the Native community.
Her band posted to their FB, early in the day that they would be appearing in "full regalia" at the Norman Music Festival that night. The backlash was immediate & a protest, led by a local musician, was formulated. Pink Pony attempted to have the protestors removed by security.

Fallin appeared onstage in a shawl with sheep on it. I can only assume that is a reference to the fact that many of her supporters were referring to those that spoke out about her headdress photo as "sheep", claiming that we were outraged  in the name of political correctness, rather than independent thought. Personally, I find their attempts at emotional manipulation and inciting outrage to be juvenile & indicative of their true character.

You see, many people defended Ms. Fallin the first time around. Perhaps she didn't know any better. Now, though, she no longer have naivety to hide behind. Not only did she receive critique, but she also received genuine education. In fact, a woman for the lodge that I participate in, extended an offer for Ms. Fallin to attend a sweat with us and to learn more about/from Native women.

She is clearly not interested in learning about, nor respecting, Natives. Her conduct last night was openly mocking & ignorance is no longer a defense. The first time can be a mistake, the second is malice.

EONM issued a press release about Fallin's performance, please read it. However, I want to go a step further than calling "upon the Riverwind Casino, Blackwatch Studios and Christina Fallin and Governor Mary Fallin to apologize for this direct attack affront to Native American concerns regarding the misuse of our culture and purposeful insult to Native Americans in general." I would like a statement from the Chickasaw Nation, either supporting or denouncing the behavior of Ms. Fallin, as they are not only the owners of the sponsoring casino, but also of the property where the original incident occurred. They need to make it clear where they stand.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Growth & Healing

Fire started on the first try. My friend & I are awesome. ;-)
While participating in a women's sweat last night, prayers went up for those who have been abused,
and those who have abused. As the prayers for peace, healing & forgiveness were spoken, my mind went to another place momentarily.

Memories of standing over the grave of the man that altered the world as I knew it were so clear. I remember seeing the messages left by his loved ones, expressing how wonderful he was & how they'd miss him. Reconciling that with the sadistic sociopath who had preyed on young girls for years, was difficult. Part of me always understood that he had probably become that way from things that had happened to him, as that is usually the case.

Another sweat, that one a healing ceremony for me, came to mind. I had been going through  a lot of personal issues & it was causing PTSD symptoms in levels that I had never experienced prior. The flash backs were so real, with full auditory & even olfactory integration...actually reliving experiences. I was suddenly remembering details that I had not previously had conscious memory of. Body memories were seriously interfering with my sex life; with any sort of physical intimacy, actually, as I couldn't even stand to be touched by others without feeling anxiety. In short, it was beginning to interfere with my ability to function & I needed help.

I turned to a Cherokee friend, who runs a lodge in eastern Oklahoma, whom I had sweated & attended various ceremonies with for several years. She & another friend from the circle brought me in for healing sweat.

The stories & confessions that were shared inside the lodge that day will remain there, & with me, forever. The experience, though, was transformative.

Thinking back, juxtaposing that sweat a few years ago with the one I was in at that moment, I realized how different I am now. Something happened over that time that I couldn't have anticipated. Along with healing and maturity, I gained more empathy & lost the compulsion to judge people (as opposed to their actions). I've become less willing to settle & less afraid to be alone. I have learned that no one is responsible for my happiness, other than me. Perhaps that is how I've reached the point where I largely ignore the expectations and rules that have been externally imposed in attempts to define individuals and relationships. Nobody, & nothing, is perfect. As long as it all averages out to more good than bad, & the cost-benefit analysis balances out, we're doing pretty well overall. 

I am so thankful for all the wonderful people in my life, such as the women in both of the ceremonies mentioned, that help me become a better person every day. I'm happy with who I've become & hope that I can continue to grow & evolve in positive ways...and, hopefully, that will allow me to help others and contribute to their lives, as well.

Time changes things...perhaps nothing as much as who we are...

Friday, April 18, 2014

Taking the animals to the zoo

Today, a friend & I took a dozen kids to the zoo. Like me, she & her husband have a large family that is comprised of both bio & foster kids. Today, she had only 7 of her 9 & I had all 5 of mine. So, the two of us took a dozen wild & crazy kids to the zoo. Ages 8 months, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 11, 12, 13, 13, 13, 14.

When we take our large, diverse families out together, people look at us like we're part of some strange cult. The looks are always interesting. haha

It was fun. It was exhausting. I feel like I need a nap...but I should probably finish mowing the yard before dark, instead...

A mother's work is never done. But, while I'm working, you guys can see some of the critters we met today...












Thursday, April 17, 2014

Updates

Scrolling through, I notice that the blog has turned to mostly photos & I haven't actually written much lately. Mostly it's because I'm busy & exhausted, but what else is new?

So...for the updates:

I am currently job hunting, which is a full time job, in itself. But, I also have to actually work, & raise kids. I only have until the end of May to find something, because that's when my current job ends (No, it's not related to my Bar results, but I'm not at liberty to discuss the reason that my position is being eliminated, at this time). I'll probably have time to get it all done, as long as I don't sleep...or eat...or have any sort of human contact, ever...

I've submitted over a dozen applications already & am writing cover letter for a half dozen more, today. I'm determined to find something. However, I will be taking Saturday off & doing as little as humanly possible, because it will be my birthday. Even if no one else celebrates my existence, I will. ;-)

As for the Bar, I can retake it in July. I've sent for my essays and will be trying to formulate a plan on all that, but don't have one yet.

Let's see...what else?...

As far as I know, Wasband is still in jail. He's scheduled to stay there until the end of May, unless he pays the purge amount. The Bigs seem fine with it, but don't seem interested in seeing him over their summer vacation, so I interpret that as they are either upset with his choices or have just given up on staying connected with him, at least for the time being.

There has been no changes on Lil Sis's case. We don't go back to court until later in the summer, so this process promises to be long & tedious. Her CW is supposed to do a monthly visits, but I haven't seen anyone since January. I know that shouldn't surprise me, because it has become the pattern, but it does. The state has a responsibility to ensure the safety of the kids in their custody, and they can't do that if they don't actually check on them.

Lil Sis's behaviors have greatly improved & we are dealing mostly with normal, age appropriate issues at this point. She continues in therapy, though, and it seems to be helping her a lot.

That's all I can think of right now. If anyone has specific things they want updates on that I haven't mentioned, you know where the comments box is located...


Sunday, April 13, 2014

OU AISA Powwow

Yesterday was the University of Oklahoma American Indian Student Association's Centennial Powwow.

Sorry, I'm not a photographer, but I wanted to post the photos anyhow...because it's just a shameless plug for my alma mater...& I can. ;-)


 













Saturday, April 12, 2014

Flying W Guest Ranch

 My family spent last weekend at the Flying W Guest Ranch in Sayre, Oklahoma.

Today was their official grand opening, under their new management. I would like to sincerely wish them the best, as they seemed to be very nice people & my kids had a blast there.

They have a frontier town, complete with mannequins to set the scene of what things would have looked like in the late 1800s, as well as the usual trail rides and such that you find on a guest ranch.

One thing the Flying W has that most ranches don't, though, is an archeological site. Specifically, it is the "largest  buffalo kill site in the southern plains". Archaeologists from the University of Oklahoma oversee the exploration and excavation at the Flying W Guest Ranch kill site, and have revealed the remains of approximately 800 bison. If you visit the ranch during dig season, you can actually participate in the dig. Of course, I had to visit at the wrong time...but I would like to return sometime to see the dig.


The cabin we stayed in.