Mother/Daughter Date

I should be at the Hyrum, Utah, cemetery right now. My mom, grandma, and I had plans to visit the graves of our ancestors, Sarah Ann Haigh and Louis Frederick Miller. Sarah Ann survived the crossing of the Martin Handcart Company.

We had tickets tonight to the Utah Opera Festival’s performance of Pirates of Penzance, one of my favorite musicals. They’re going without me.

This time last year was grandma’s 90th birthday. I drove all the way to Idaho, only to have a nervous breakdown and leave the campground in the middle of the night.

I’ve ruined everything. What’s the point of living a life like this?

All I’m hearing about these days is the total eclipse of the sun passing over my hometown, Rexburg, Idaho. It will be a 91% eclipse here in Salt Lake, but I wanted to go home. I mean, what are the odds? 100%!

I’m so sad.

The thing is, I didn’t ruin it. I had a breakdown, but it was ruined already. I can’t live the lie when my defenses are down. I tell myself they love me. I tell myself they care how I feel, how I’m treated. But when I’m depressed, when I need anything from them, they tell me what I’ve always known. I do not matter to them. Shut up, Christie. Shut up.

On the other hand, my grandmother has nothing to do with this. Am I really just going to let her life play out and never see her again? I was so excited to share this day with her, especially after I ruined last year. And I did ruin it, for myself. They still had a wonderful party, but I’m sure it was painful for her to see me and then have me disappear in the night after being rude and irritable.

I shouldn’t have gone. I almost didn’t. I was so filled with regret, and I thought the drive would be cathartic, windows down, singing at the top of my lungs. I pictured myself joyful for having taken action, feeling immediately better for not depriving myself of the celebration. I’d organized a family outing on the zip line over Heise Canyon. I knew my mood would lift if I just got there. “Go, Christie! You’re punishing yourself because you’re depressed. Just go! You’ll be so glad you did.”

I thought I was doing the right thing, but it absolutely backfired. It was awful.

They forgave me. That’s something. That’s the thing, though. I’m sorry when I screw up. I take responsibility for my mistakes. No one ever apologizes when I’m done wrong, when I hurt. When I ask them to, they double down on the blame. It’s my fault. I caused it or I aggravated it, so it doesn’t matter. I deserve it.

Get over it, Christie. Shut up.

It’s maddening. It’s crazy-making. I really can’t survive there.

I’m so sad.

Sweat Lodge

I was so gratified to meet the woman I wrote about last week. I had failed at Thanksgiving not to respond to the hate-mongering chatter that accompanies every family gathering, and I felt it: Failure.

Meeting hostility with anger is useless and stupid, but what the hell am I supposed to do? I asked politely. I teased. I asked again. I got mad.

This woman explained the difference between suffering in complicit silence, and going within to meet hatred with love. I’ve been trying for 15 minutes to capture the epiphany I had in a 2-minute conversation, but it was almost funny how simple it seemed.

Of course, the practice of it will be a different story, marked by many failings, to be sure, but it moved from theoretical and seemingly-impossible to entirely practical and doable. There’s a huge difference between angrily holding one’s tongue, and actively holding a space of “non-duality,” she called it. The silence of love is not the silence of restraint. That’s a game-changer for me!

I talk about energy all the time. Everyone knows what it is to walk in a room and feel it. The silence she described isn’t passive at all. It’s energized! It’s silly now that it seemed such a unattainable concept, when, really, it’s a straight-forward product of choice and action. It can’t be mistaken for tacit approval.

Suddenly, my need to act as standard bearer seemed silly, too. It’s not as if my family doesn’t know me. If any of my nieces or nephews is different, in any way, they know there’s a safe place for them. I don’t need to do that anymore.

I’m ready to graduate!

It does hurt that I don’t matter in my family. At best, I’m a joke. My point of view is the minority, so it’s dismissed. No one cares that that hurts me. They know. They continue.

And I’m strong enough.

“I will love, even here. How can I love, even here?” I trust Spirit to answer, if I truly commit to trying a new way, and I’m ready.

(Whoa! I just got really scared again!)

I AM READY.
non-duality

****

I brought a new, blank drum inside the lodge, which was borrowed by a leader and praised by her for its tone. That felt great! It was plenty soggy and bleak-sounding by the end of 4 long rounds, but bounced right back in the cold night air.

[I also made a killer leftover-turkey casserole for the pot luck following the lodge. It went like gangbusters! Jax is teaching me how to cook. We take Mormon comfort food – primarily based on Cream of Chicken Soup – and turn it out! This dish contained organic, home-grown tomato puree and chili powder. And cheese. Lots of cheese.]

My personal drum stayed out on the altar by the fire, to soak up and sing with our prayers and come home to bless me when I dance and meditate. So far, it’s attended a Love Rally and this prayer for Standing Rock, for water, the earth, and all of us. I love my drum!

Here’s my most recent. (So much detail is missing in this grainy shot!)drum-5
13″ on wood frame with mallet
$200
Nov. 23, 2016

I have a few more color incarnations to realize before I’m finished with this design, and more drums than I can paint right now (including 2 with rawhide lacing).

****

This was the first lodge that I didn’t really go into a trance-like state. Usually, when the heat starts to rise, I’m transported to the plains in a covered wagon. I don’t know that any of my ancestors came across in a covered wagon, but that imagery is powerful for Mormons, and it would be a no-brainer for my ancestors to get my attention in that way, to signal very clearly who it was I was feeling. The first time it happened was one of the most alarming and powerful visions I’ve ever experienced. I saw the faces of the Native people my ancestors would have encountered, and recognized that they were the brown-skinned ancestors of the the people I was praying with! Then, “Oh my god, they call the stones ‘The Ancestors.’ Our ancestors are here!” It was overwhelming.

I try not to expect repeat performances of my experiences. I try to be in the now, and learn what new thing is available from each event. But it was hard not to hope for that impression again when I went to my second lodge. And they came. Again and again and again. It was the same wagon journey into Spirit at every lodge, except this one.

Abigail, my favorite pioneer ancestor, did pop to mind in the 3rd round. I smiled. I love her. I thanked her for being with me since we “met” when I was ten, and then I had a thought of Sarah, who doesn’t come to me often. I don’t feel her strongly, but I have had a sense of her quiet, and it would make sense for me not to get it. What’s quiet? I truly don’t understand quiet. In fact, quiet people scare me. I think they hate me.

But Sarah did come to mind, and I had the thought to pray around her voice. “Please come as a signal for when it’s appropriate to act differently. Help me discern between the time to speak and the time to turn inward and LOVE, even here. Come in when it’s time for me to honor the place of neither right nor wrong, and just love, fiercely, quietly.”

I’m excited to see if I recognize her as I begin to practice non-duality. I think I might. I have recognized her energy. It’s harder, but she has a distinct feeling, and I’m excited to imagine I might a foster a relationship with her. Especially if it leads to healing. Especially for my mother’s family. Sarah is my mother’s family.

not-the-end

Not The End, by Julie Rogers, depicts my ancestor, Sarah Ann, on one of her 32 crossings of the icy North Platte River to carry Saints to safety.

Tell My Story gives a detailed account of this episode of the Martin Handcart Company’s ill-fated journey to Salt Lake City. I’m really proud of Sarah. Scroll down and enjoy!

Synchronicity

I had another dance with… let’s see, it was ten 2s this time… on my trip home. They came at a significant location and hit really hard. I mean, you don’t often see ten of anything, but when it’s 222 – my number – I really pay attention.

I didn’t include it in my little report of the home visit, ‘cuz, I mean, don’t you get tired of me oohing and aahing over repeating numbers? And really… Really? Numbers?

I know I’m a little weird.

But that was a signal to me to pay attention. It was such a big one I was feeling really connected and alert, but I didn’t know why. When it’s my regular 222, it’s just a smile. I call it a little hug from my Cheerleaders. Four 2s, well, that’s a real howdy! But ten! Wow.

So I’ve been in dialogue with my Crew since Sunday, thanking them for being with me and getting my attention, and asking what it was I should be noticing.

Yesterday, I ran into my cousin at the supermarket. I haven’t seen her in at least 4 years. She’s an energy worker, with a focus on generational healing. How trauma changes DNA through the line came up in conversation. I brought it up, can’t remember how. “Funny you should mention that,” she said. “I just had an ancestor come up yesterday and I tracked him to 7 generations ago. I’ve been asking myself why he popped up for me, and why there is so much death around him.”

“Well, if you think about it, early Mormons would have left us with an imprint of terror. If they weren’t killed themselves, they were in fear of it. They watched their friends, neighbors and family being run off their property, at best. Terrifying!”

“Oh, I hadn’t considered that. He was a peer of Joseph Smith, too, and everyone at that time would have been in fear of death and loss.”

“Well, there you go. His actual friend was murdered. And it would have been everywhere, that palpable fear. We’re wired by recent history to expect an enemy.”

My spidey-senses were tingling. It confirmed for me that Tarot and other forms of divination are not poppycock. They’re just tools to help me fine-tune my intuition. In fact, the conversation was validating simply because intuition is so easy to dismiss, period, as ego or more hippie goddess blech. But my cousin is an easy-going Mormon gal not given to every mystic whim that rolls around. She’s just intuitive and knows it.

I admire the confidence she has in her connection, and it was a thrill to be in the right place at the right time to help her find some clarity and a new area of exploration.

The best part? She used to work for a homeopathic center. Years ago – right after the Fibro symptoms started, long before a diagnosis – she suggested I try them out. I seriously considered it. After all, she’d suffered from Fibromyalgia for a decade and had complete remission after treatment there. But… Well, you know, there’s the possibility that Fibromyalgia is a made-up malady (I still fight with that!) and herbs are so much… hippie goddess blech. “They’re natural, they can only help you.”

No. Anthrax is natural. Herbs are medicine and I don’t take that shit lightly. Yes, I believe in the benefits of plants – and Western pharmacy – but who knows how much is safe and what of interactions and and and… ?

And it’s $80 just to be seen, before they try to up-sell you on their snake oil.

Yesterday, I updated my cousin on how much worse my Fibro’s become.

“Did you ever go to that clinic?” she asked, knowing I hadn’t.

“Nooo! I should just do it. If I’m willing to spend $45 on a 15-minute phone call with a pet psychic…!”

“Go!” she scolded me.

“A couple of years ago, I could hope it would just resolve itself, but this is unlivable!”

“Go!” she ordered me.

“You know what? I’ve been asking my angels why they got my attention this weekend and I run into you. You say it worked. We’re on the same wavelength. Ah hell, I’m doing it!”

My appointment’s next Tuesday. I’ll tell you all about it! 2222222222!

Sinté

I’m buying my djembe today, and last night as I was going to bed I decided that my new goal in the next year is to learn to play and sing together. It’s hard! With Africa Heartwood Project, all I’ve done so far is to shake a rattle – and sometimes I can’t sing at the same time! (Or keep the beat… Something’s gotta give, haha!)

When I pictured myself singing and drumming freely and with skill, I thought, “Oh, isn’t that strange? That dream from my childhood…”

I used to sing/chant this verse to my dolls that a golden idol taught me in my sleep. She turned into a woman in African dress… and chased me, actually. It was terrifying. But I remembered the song she sang to draw me to her. She was in my dreams for years until Mom forbade me to sing what I’d learned, and then I forgot her. Maybe manifesting African drum and dance in this life wasn’t so random, after all.

I found out years later that my ancestor, Abigail, woke up knowing songs, too. She wrote about it herself in the 1800s. In a childhood dream, Abigail heard the song of “a people in white on a vast plain of grass” and “longed to be numbered among them.” She taught the song to her friends. (I taught my chant to my sister. That’s when I got in trouble. Melanie always told.) Later, Abigail became one of the first Mormons, and she and the other fleeing members sang that song while crossing the plains to Utah.

This morning my friend invited me to a dream workshop on Friday. Should be fun.

_____

Sinté is played for weddings on a large krin, which fits 3 players.
(rhythm modified for Malinke drums, which we play here in Salt Lake)

Location: Boke, Guinea
Ethnic Group: Nalou

23andMe and the FDA

I know, I know… bureaucracy, the feds, mind control, money control, control control… You won’t be surprised that I’ve opted out of a political belief system, other than the fact that I truly cannot be made to understand what is so frightening about gay people, and why do we still have smog? Leaders are dumb. I fully grant that I COULD NOT LEAD, but neither can anyone else without backroom concessions and full-scale sales on the souls of those in power and, sadly, those of us in their wake. That’s trickle-down.

I didn’t say I wasn’t opinionated. It’s simply that I see governance as an impossible task. What then? “My brain hurts. Let’s do something else.”

I try not to rail against it. Futile though it all may be, it is no less futile so say “blah, blah… and blah.” I’m ignorant. I’m the worst kind of citizen: An uninformed reactionary. I do not have an understanding of how it works. As much as I try to relearn the basics, I can’t retain information anymore! Subjects that confuse and irritate me are banished so firmly beyond a cement wall in my mind, I can’t access them even when I want to. Basically, of paid elected leaders, I believe some are corrupt and some mean to do good – or did once – and plenty of others are just as caught up as we are in the nonsensical morass that is American life.

That said, I love my country. I love my home. I love my people. I love the land. I love freedom. (Ugh, that abused phrase – by both sides – makes my skin crawl! How dare they sully my reverence for autonomy! I LOVE MY FREEDOM! I hate leaders who appropriate it and tell us, “Your version wrong.”) Though you can guess what my thought is on war and the reasons we’re given for it (Lies. It’s about money), I am proud of and grateful for my [biological] father’s service (Army) and that of my brothers (Air Force and Navy). I do not take liberty lightly. Others die for saying to those in power, “I disagree with you.” I know freedom and I’m grateful for it.

Guv’ment, on the other hand, alarms me. They just want my money. Here’s proof:

“Dear 23andMe Customers,

I’m writing to update you on our conversation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and how it impacts you.

If you are a customer whose kit was purchased before November 22, 2013, your 23andMe experience will not change. You will be able to access both ancestry and health-related information as you always have.

23andMe has complied with the FDA’s directive and stopped offering new consumers access to health-related genetic results while the company moves forward with the agency’s regulatory review processes.”

Process this: You won’t have access to your own genome until enough people revolt. And who’s gonna revolt about an elective curiosity? It’s just so dumb. It’s so obvious! The government saw that more and more people were willing to pay for this information. Knowledge is power. “Don’t give access to the hoi polloi,” they schemed, laughing and rubbing their hands together. “And/or set up a circumstance where we are the only ones taking the cash.” For MY health information! Unbelievable!

Of course, I feel charmed again. As weird and hard as my life has been, I have occasion nearly every day to say, “Good grief, things work out for me!” Even the silly stuff, like knowing heritable traits and health conditions for fun.

23andMe has been so cool. Every now and then, I get an alert from the company that they’ve identified another potential relative. They’re usually 5th cousins. I get excited when they’re 3rds. I’ve sent out some pertinent last names to see if any match. No one’s replied. That’s okay. That’s not why I spit in the tube last March. And then…

Right before Thanksgiving, I got an introduction to a second cousin! “You probably shared great-grandparents,” the 23andMe robot reported. Do you know what a thrill that is? “Who is this person!? Where do they live?” I sent out my names. He answered!

“Oh!” I replied. “I’ll just die if you’re So-and-So’s son.”

“Yes. So-and-So is my mom.”

As it happened, Cousin So-and-So was at his home visiting for Thanksgiving and nearly jumped out of her skin with instructions to tell my mom and Grandma how much she loves them! Of course I cried. So did Grandma. Bringing her a hug from a faraway grand-niece made me happy. Thanksgiving is the holiday that makes me feel closest to my Grandpa, and all that is good about family. It was a wonderful gift to take home.

I love that even in my unorthodox way, I can still contribute and belong to the family I’m estranged from. I honor the times and ways I feel connected to them. Much of it is my own doing, insisting on gratitude and seeing the good when there is so much ghastly, ruinous wrong in us. Most of it is pure grace, having nothing to do with any effort on my part to stay above the anger. Still, I do feel very much like I’m watching from the outside. Physical separation must remain, sadly, in order for me to try each new day for spiritual connection to my immediate family, but the timing of this blessed introduction reminded me that, yes, I am detached, if that’s what I choose.

Thank you, angels.

And now… Unless 23andMe drops its price, you’ll be getting ripped off now that most of the information is no longer available. Of course, some people don’t want to know the scary truth about their genetic doom blueprint, as pertains to health. The ancestral info was not at all interesting to me, or so I thought before I got it, since my people have done my genealogy since the dawn of the Mormon Church. If you are one of those who might not do gene testing because you’d rather not know your risks, map your genome now. It continues to be one of the best presents I ever gave me. I was stunned by the things I didn’t know about my people’s origins. Nevertheless, I’m so glad I got the whole picture! Suck on it, feds!

http://refer.23andme.com/a/clk/4FPnC7 … and do it here. I get ten bucks. 😉

http://www.23andme.com/

Sarah Was a Dreamer, Too!

I spent 5 days and thirty some-odd hours pouring over my genome. By Friday afternoon, I was done. There was nothing I hadn’t printed out and written copious notes on. Fascinating stuff. Endless.

http://refer.23andme.com/a/clk/4FPnC7

I had a couple of hours to kill before 5 o’clock, so I began to fill out my family tree. I hadn’t considered this important because, as a Mormon, that’s been done for me. To death.

It was amazing! I’ve never had the experience of finding – and meeting – the people myself! Learning their names, where they lived… Filling in those blanks with my own hands was… a mitzvah.

Where did I hear that, so long ago I can’t remember? When did that become the only way to describe, sometimes, the transcendent connection to God and each other, and the enormous blessing that is life? I’ve been saying, “It’s a mitzvah,” for years.

(That’s more of a colloquial use of the term than literal. Really, it’s not even the correct use of it colloquially [good deed], but what would I know?)

It came as no surprise that I’m 52.2% British/Irish (Scottish). It was a shock (delight!) to learn that I am .2% Ashkenazi Jew! 40% of living Ashkenazi* descendants can trace their ancestry to 1 of 4 women!!! Do you know how intertwined and small and big and tearful you feel when you know who you are? When learning who you are surprises you and says, “Hey, we’re all in this together”?

Is there a reason in my blood that I read every Holocaust survival story I could get my hands on? Is there a reason I’ve chased Jewish men? (Totally accidental, but when you’ve been dating for 25 years and yet another suitor is Jewish, in the western United States, you recognize the trend. “Of course you are!”)

(One of my boyfriends said, “Are you sure you’re not Jewish?” when I sang “Hashivenu.”)

I’m an Anglo-American Ashkenazi Jew!

So!… I’m filling in the names and dates. I get to Louis Miller, whom I knew to be the one to bring this wonderful blood to my veins. My beautiful grandmother, whose life story I wrote, is LaWana Miller because her great-grandfather changed the family name from Mueller when they came to this country. Only by Googling the people myself was I to learn that Mueller is simply an Ashkenazi name for the village miller. My family had the blanks filled in already, but I never knew ’til now who they were.

The Muellers, of course, had been Christian for generations, but I found a forbear named Spangenberg. Hm. ??? (I also found the surname Pabst, and anyone who knows me well knows just how perfect that is. “They don’t give blue ribbons to everything.”)

I digress!

By now I was home and couldn’t stop. When I got stuck finding ancestors online, I pulled out my boring stacks of black-and-white paper with names and years and blanks and grids… Like I said, I have it all. Always have. I decided to closely read an account included in the pile. It was a life sketch of Sarah Ann Haigh, whom I’ve introduced you to (https://wildwesterngirl.wordpress.com/2012/02/27/meet-sarah-my-beloved-ancestral-mother/), and Louis Frederick Miller [nee Ludwig Friedrich Mueller]. I’d never read it thoroughly before because I know the story. It’s our lore and we’re very proud of her.
Little did I know…

Sarah was a dreamer, too!

Despondent after her husband died, she met him in a dream across a fence. Expressing a desire to join him, he said her work wasn’t done. He told her it was better than she thought it would be [in Zion], and it would get better still. A man approaching on her side of the fence took her by the arm, and they walked away together. Some months later Sarah met Louis, whom she called “Miller” for the fifty-plus years of their life together, and recognized him as the man in her dream.

Knowing I have another dreamer, on my mother’s side now, makes me feel less psychic myself, and more human and exactly like anyone. We all have access. We all have dreams. We all know. We’re from the same place. We’re in this together. We’re the same.

23andme.com is the best gift I ever gave myself. $108 and some change for thrilling scientific information, and reconnection to my true self, my goodness, my spirit, my people, my fellow man, you.

http://refer.23andme.com/a/clk/4FPnC7

*The Ashkenazi are an ethno-religious group indigenous to Israel that migrated to Europe.

Happy Pioneer Day!

It’s a Mormon thing. Ironically, it involves a lot of beer. Brigham Young and the other weirdos devout got here on July 24, 1847. (Read back for my actual reverence and admiration for my ancestors who did that. They had moxy! And conviction is commendable, even if it’s not your own.) In the morning there’s your standard parade, with “wards” (divisions by area) competing with some impressive floats. It’s a common tradition for families to camp overnight on the best parade viewing spot, often the same one for generations. At night, the ex-patriates and “never-was”s among us carouse.

The real reason I’m writing is that I’m so excited! Tonight, I’m FINALLY going out with this guy I’ve been into for a year. A solid year, people! We met the first weekend of August last year and every time we’ve seen each other since, it’s been our own kind of fireworks. But we can never get it together. One or the other of us has had to cancel. For a year! It’s taken so long, I still feel like it’s not really going to happen. But it is. He just confirmed. And it’s mere hours away! I’m so excited!

The OkCupid experiment was fun. I went out with 3 guys. One was a psycho; One was a great dater but not *sigh,* and the last was just… Been there done that. I’m over it. I’m ready to go out with someone I know I like. I’m so excited!

(Ha! One was completely forgettable – I went out with 4 OkCupideers!)

Tonight, we go to my cousin’s famous 24th of July “Utah’s Other Pioneers” party. There’s a taco cart in the drive and probably a [left] political candidate, with elections this year. I’m LEDhooping! Fireworks are across the street at Liberty Park. Maybe I’ll get to kiss under a glittering explosion or two. Or ten.