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

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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).

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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!

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.)

Love/Hate/Fear/Yum

I have Binge Eating Disorder. It’s a real thing, and even skinny girls can have it. In high school I used to joke when peers would comment on how I eat and how much, “I’m half bulimic. I forget to purge.” Later, it would devolve into secret eating and shame eating, and the amount is always increasing, just like cocaine.

It’s tougher than other addictions. You can stop going to the bar, or lose your dealer’s number. There’s also some derision in Overeaters Anonymous and other support groups toward those of us who inherited the metabolism to hide this affliction. (I only thank God for it! What a horrible thing to pay with your physical appearance as well as your emotions.)

I’m afraid of food. I’m obsessed with it. I often feel crippled by the inability to even shop for myself. I hate to cook, and I’m bombarded every moment by thoughts of junk food. I crave sodium, and chase it with sugar.

Today, I made a breakthrough in my endeavor to find simple, successful, easy, quick recipes that I love.

Hooray for Quinoa Patties! The only unhealthy ingredient is 1/4 c. parmesan but since I ate an entire bag of chips with an entire jar of dip yesterday (preceded by 2 Burger King Original Chicken Sandwiches), I’m gonna take this as a giant win for Team Christie, whose motto is, “She’s Awesome! She Loves Herself! She Deserves Someone To Love and Be Loved By! She’s Nourished and Strong and Able to Live, Play, Do, Seek, Find!”

No, really. You should see the cheer.
positive attitude about food

Food Addiction

I’ve had a month-long setback with my drug of choice: FOOD. I’ve been bingeing since mid February. The thing that bothers me most about it is that I can’t really identify any emotion that I’m stuffing, so what’s the use of all this bearing my soul and unburdening myself if I still loooong for that stuffed-’til-it-hurts feeling? I guess I have been terrifically anxious about my wrist, but… Yes, I’ve been filled with anxiety about what it means about aging and comfort and my mobility and dancing and teaching and hooping and, and, and, and!!!! And I find myself buried in bags of potato chips, balanced off with bags of Skittles and Snicker bites and Reese’s pieces. I had a pretty good handle on it for a lot of years, but I’m starting to feel out of control again. And the thing about food is that it’s not like you can stop going to the bar or lose your dealer’s number. My option is to have no food in the house, in which case I usually run to the convenience store for 5 bags of chips, or to stock up on non-comfort foods, which I eat one after another anyway, feverishly chasing that ever-elusive feeling of satiety. At least it’s not chips, I reason, even it was 6,000 calories. In that case, I might as well top it off with ice cream. Later…