This story has several parts; all of them begin and end in nature.
When asked to consider my role models, idols, celebrities, I do not think of Hollywood, or of TV or of popular culture because I did not grow up inside those cults, but on the fringes of them. Instead, I think of the way rain sluices against rocks in pretty rivulets, the sound of crashing waves, the sound of icicles dripping into empty tin cans. I think of the rolling hills I sprinted through, the rocks I scaled, and the trees I climbed; each one holding a singular mystery I needed to uncover. I think of the mothers and fathers who were champs at making do, making the best, and making believe. For it is in them and their struggles that I first glimpsed the world. From this vantage point, these moms and dads taught me. In seeing them making do, I learned humility, flexibility, patience, and persistence. In observing them make the best, I learned gratitude, empathy, and generosity. In seeing them make believe, I learned hope, ingenuity, escape- to dream.
There is the chapter of angry childhood when I took it out on other children. The chapter of my childhood friend Many Stars and the lessons she taught me about Native people. There is the chapter of my business Dancing Warrior Yoga when the journey to become a healer took specific shape and form. There is the chapter of leaving what is familiar in order to make room for risk, growth, change; life. Sex is a chapter. Trauma is a chapter. Domestic violence is a chapter. Defensiveness is a chapter. But, the most important chapters are open wounds, small wonders, grounding, and wide peace.
In 2016, I applied to the University of Maine, Fort Kent’s BSN program. The University is small, sits in the heart of the Maliseet territory running along what is now known as the St John River Valley bordering Edmonston, Canada. The school creates a bilingual community of English and Acadian French. I learned about Aroostook County and the familiar challenges that rural communities face regarding poverty, nutrition, housing, and transportation all set in tandem with Northern Maine winters. I learned that the struggles of a tiny rural community mirror the hardships facing my own community: obesity, depression, addiction, suicide, mental illness and lack of access.
At the time, I was working as a cashier, bagging groceries and pushing carts. There was no “there has to be more to life” moments or come to Jesus ah ha moments, because well, for a lot of people I knew…this was far more than expected. In fact, I was not raised on the brew of “you can be anything you want in life”, but the more bitter tonic of “everything takes time, anything at all requires work”.
Healing myself is what I started with; ong namo guru dev namo, virabhadrasana, and meditation. This practice has continued for eleven years and is the root of my desire to use the spirit of healing as a way to help other people and be of service. In this process, I have discovered health to be a work in progress, a manifestation, a relationship.