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!

Interesting Conversation

My friend and I went to brunch Sunday (after failing to win lotto tix to Book of Mormon Musical), and an interesting conversation ensued. Or maybe not so interesting. Rather ordinary, really, but my mind is ablaze with a new idea.

The conversation began when this friend confessed his fear of dying, which I don’t share. (Fear of pain, most definitely.) I’m excited to see what’s there and be able to fly. 🙂 I like it here so I want to stay as long as I can and take in the beauty, adventure and learning, but I’m so into perfect, pure love that Afterlife represents to me, I can’t wait to swim in it. I mean, fly.

As an Atheist, my friend is frightened of the Nothing after leaving our bodies. I said that, having considered that possibility, I’ve found myself still to be unafraid of death. Without consciousness, I won’t notice I’m not around anymore. What’s to regret? “But I can’t imagine it,” I went on to say. “Energy doesn’t end. E=mc2. It becomes mass and vice versa. Mass proves my existence as energy. I couldn’t end if I wanted to. I’ve been organized in some way around a fiery ball. I can’t stop being, with or without a body.”

“Yes,” he replied, “but energy doesn’t have to have consciousness when organized in other ways.” To him that’s terrifying. To me, it’s not. In fact, it’s quite exciting. It bolsters the idea that we’re all connected, to each other, the trees, the stars.

I hope I’m still sentient. If not, what’s to miss?

That got me to this: Manifestation (Law of Attraction, “The Secret,” if you must) … Do you have to have an after-life belief system in order to participate? The simple answer is no, of course, but synchronicity and intuition are so closely tied to my angels that I can’t imagine those gifts coming from nothing, existing purely as a byproduct of my resonance as a breathing thing. In fact, they feel like a very real hug from a crew of loving cheerleaders who celebrate every time I get the message.

I understand that the way I interpret my experience doesn’t apply to anyone but me. I like to say I’m Christian, because my orthodoxy bears my name. 🙂 I don’t need anyone else to believe it, and it benefits me whether it’s real or imagined. But… Interesting!

I hoped my friend could make peace with the finality of death and no longer be burdened by the worry of it in life, and added, “but I still can’t imagine it.”

Funny, ego.

Can it be ego alone that sees me as too important and vast for my consciousness to end? Well, yeah, it can! But if my ego can be wiped away in 80 yrs, then so can my ancestors, and I have one among my angels. I can’t be convinced that she’s a figment of my imagination, because genealogical records prove her existence. She started all of this for me. I had no idea what was happening, except that I was on fire! (Burning in the Bosom, Mormons call it.) My angels are not winged warm fuzzies. Abigail Smith Abbott (b. 1806) introduced herself to me when I was ten. “Hello, Daughter. We’re here.”

I know they’re real. I’m willing to be honest, though. I believe they are. Huh. That made something very clear for me. That is definitively what differentiates me from the flock I left. Mormons have to know, and declare it. “I bear my testimony.” they say. I can’t.

Happily for me, I don’t care. I don’t need sureties in order to enjoy the rich relationship I have with my angels and a loving Universe, which very much responds to the energy and thoughts I choose. I expect to arrive in 40+ years at another between-life phase. I imagine a whole lot of, “Oh yeah! I can’t believe I forgot that! Oh wow, I learned exactly what I chose Christie for. I rocked that round! Next I’d like to learn…” But I don’t know, and I love it that way. “I bear my testimony that not knowing is true.”

I dance in the Question Mark!

(Oh, and I got a ticket to the show at the evening lotto. “I get everything I want!” Manifest!)B of M Capitol resizeeverything is energyThe laws of physics apply to Atheists, too! I can’t believe I had to think so hard to “allow” that, haha!

Korejuga

Finally!

For the entire class last week, I was trying to think of the name of the Lakota group that’s an approximate equivalent to the Korejuga, from the Malinke tribe in the region of Guinea in Africa. (Korejuga are the jesters who show up to your party and tell jokes about you ’til you pay them.) They are the Heyoka. Phew!

Among the Lakota people, the heyoka (heyókȟa, also spelled “haokah,” “heyokha”) was a contrarian, jester, satirist or sacred clown. The heyoka spoke, moved and reacted in an opposite fashion to the people around them. Only those having visions of the thunder beings of the west, the Wakinyan, could act as heyokas.

Korejuga is a really fun, challenging rhythm. It’s a little frustrating, because it’s one in which the difference between slaps and tones really makes the music, and I just don’t differentiate yet. I try not to get – rah! – with myself because I am a beginner and I get to sound like one, but it makes a difference with timing, somehow, when you muddy over the distinct voice of each beat. I catch myself falling out of sync with the recording when I practice. I do love this one, though, and I love Quinn.

Quinn is the Korejuga of my life. He likes me, too, because I make faces and swear at him, haha! When I really zing him, he calls an “Air five!” or “Air hug!” Sometimes when I go for it, I get “DENIED! Oh!” Straight out of the 90s. He’s so much fun! He’s like a kid brother and I couldn’t love him more.

Now… I have got to figure out this signal! Why is this so hard? I can alternately play and fake the rhythm, but this signal is mocking me!

______

In my first sweat lodge, my leader was Heyoka. I was confused, because this event was supposed to be so holy. There was no frame of reference for such an irreverent man. I, myself, am quite an irreverent person. Paradoxically, I also have a great reverence for spiritual things. In my own “Orthodoxy of Christie,” God or Whomever is freaking hilarious, and one of the most healing, loving, delicious things we can do, privately and communally, is to laugh. But my upbringing made occasions of gravity… somber. Not really. People tell jokes at church. The funny talks are always the most touching and human, memorable. The Bishop who made me laugh is still my favorite. But Sweat Lodge seemed to me like going through the temple, I guess. I’ve never done that, but I know how you act in there. Hushed and humble, not cackling and contrary!

I caught on to Chief Shellbone’s oppositional humor. Between one of the sessions, when he opened the door covering he bellowed, “Hot enough for ya?”

“NO!” I hollered back.

He threw cool water on me and I got street cred, haha! Aho Mitakuye Oyasin!

(Incidentally, whenever I start to “go” into the heat, I have visions of prairie people in wagons. Every time. Many of those with whom I pray here are Native. I have come to believe that my people, who met theirs while crossing the plains, are joining with us, just as their ancestors are. It’s so beautiful.)

______

Oh my gosh, I’m the Korejuga! My friends paid my way for all of my twenties. (The “’til you pay them” part cracks me up!) I’d consider myself a mooch if I weren’t so amusing. Also generous and loving. 🙂 I babysat a lot of kids for free. Lucky me.

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

Happy Haunting!

I had the best, almost sacred Halloween! I entertained at my house after a very small group of friends and I enjoyed a haunted Salt Lake City bus tour. I served home-made rum cider and an appetizer of local, organic apples and home-canned plum habañero sauce on a baguette w/ morbier cheese and spring greens. (And Halloween candy.) We spent late evening each telling our ghosts’ stories – I mean the stories of the spirits of our ancestors and lost children and friends and brothers. And laughed our asses off. And really had… just a lovely time together. I’m so blessed.

(“The universe is conspiring to benefit me!”)

(“I’m rich with pocket magic!”)

(Oh, and my Grandpa came by. No, really, he did. Hi, Grandpa! I love you. Thank you.)