Can’t Sleep

I’m wide awake and it’s 11:30 on a Sunday night. I fight with myself to get up and clean while it’s peace and quiet or force myself to get some shut eye. Instead I just write this.

Today Greg and I went for a hunt and saw our first bear and also scored some traditional medicine, diamond willow fungus. We had a pretty laid back day. I napped, too, so that explains the alertness at this hour.

Anyway, not much else to say except I have a lot going on this week, so I best be getting some rest. Good night.

Posts Can Wait, Culture Cannot

I’m two posts behind, tonight and last night. I think? Yes, two, it is.

I have a good excuse though. I’ve been dancing alongside family, friends and community. Dancing to the Dene drums. The medicine of our people.

I got to witness, Taden, drumming alongside men 20-60 years his senior and it warmed my heart. Not only is he super cute, he’s gifted with the medicine of our people – the will to drum and carry on our traditions. What a blessing.

Then tonight, I danced while my husband and son drummed, too. I feel so good inside. Taden also received a drum from Dene Tha drummer and community leader, Fabian. I could feel how happy and proud everyone was for the little guy. He totally deserves to drum all the days of his life.

Although I feel like I’ve not met my “100 posts in 100 days” because I’ve fallen behind, I recognize that focusing on the good things are far more important than beating myself over falling behind. I’m not behind, I just was too busy enjoying life and our culture with my family. Posts can wait, culture cannot.

The video is dark but the drums are loud, and that is the heartbeat of the Dene people – strong and proud. I’m so thankful for this way of life. Something I’ve taken for granted for many years, but now I fully embrace.

Good night.

Renee

Your Choice, Your Problem

So, I was worried I’d have nothing to write about tonight since I stayed home and worked on the NDK newsletter all day and didn’t really do anything worthy of talking about but then I forgot I have teens and shit hits the fan sometimes, like just now. Surely, writing about my personal stuff that includes my family is one thing but talking about their specifics is not really fair but then I remembered life isn’t fair, so fuck it. If it happens, I’m writing about it. All in the lessons, kids.

Lately and more so now that my teenagers are growing up and gaining their independence, it’s been a bit of a struggle to be a sane and “nice” Mom. History has shown that I am always the bad guy, it’s a shitty job but as the saying goes, someone has to do it. May as well be the one who doesn’t fuck around, even if it means, my kids hate me some days. So be it. Do I love my kids? Abso-fucking-lutely! If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be almost losing my mind most days and certainly wouldn’t be writing this.

I asked three, maybe even four, times for 16 to clean up the bathroom and entry way, and it didn’t get done after the third or fourth and final time, so there was some yelling exchanged when I got home from a cruise with Dad. Every teenager knows once it gets to that stage, they risk losing privileges, and what do you know?! The cell was in hand, which seems to be a theme every day these days, so away went the cell phone and that ended the argument with the two parties going their separate ways. Two slamming doors followed. Mind you, it is important to remember that said “bad guy” pays for said cell phone which is a privilege and not a right. Right? Right.

Now what? Well, I’m laying here writing this, and keeping my distance. It’s the smart thing to do. I refuse to acknowledge disrespectful and entitled behavior. When we choose the behavior, we choose the consequences. Done deal. Don’t want to do chores, no cell. Don’t want to go to school, no cell. We are all responsible for our own choices so long as we accept the consequences. I shouldn’t have to ask 3-4 times to do your part around the house. We all live here. Let’s all do our part. What will kids do when they have no adults around to do everything for them? Surely, they will learn real quick won’t they? I can only hope since I know some people (not mentioning any names) can’t live without a cell phone.

Anyway, yeah, so that’s my post for today. Life is tough but I’m tougher. Shit, I’m the parent of two teenagers. What doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger. I’m pretty sure I got balls of steel by now. Lol.

GOOD NIGHT.

Just when you think it’s bedtime, you get a call about 17. Great.

Is it a full moon by chance? Ugh.

Renee

Home

The best part of traveling is the coming home part. We made it home safe and sound. Stopped in Fort St. John for lunch and an oil change, then fueled up and hit the road home bound again. It’s a long 8-9 hour drive but when it’s like summer driving, time goes by quickly.

Came inside and chilled for about 45 minutes before our son got us motivated to head outside as a family and do a bit of yard work. Sis and I burned grass and she raked some, while Dad and Ash dug the fire pit out to burn old straw. Then we set up the gazebo mat and started on the puppy pen for the deck. I think this is going to be the summer of the deck. I’ve not used it much or fully enjoyed it since I hate bugs and we finally got a gazebo with netting. YES! Pincher free summer sounds excellent to me!

I don’t have much more to offer than what I did. At least I didn’t miss posting today. The next few days won’t consist of much either unless something totally amazing happens because I’ll be working from home on the May issue of Na Deh Kleh.

Anyway, I hope life treated you kindly today. Cruising down the highway next to my G-Lo, coming home to our kids, spending time outside as a family is my idea of happiness and HOME. There’s no place I’d rather be.

Good night.

Renee

Missed Thoughts

I forgot to blog yesterday, so I’m one day behind now. Shit happens.

We’re in Prince George. Adult road trip for medical isn’t as fun as it sounds but I got to see my cousins Bradley, Barbara and Peter. If only for a brief moment, it was nice. I don’t even recall how many years it’s been since I’ve seen Barb and Peter.

We got up early, drove to get the tire leak fixed, which ended up being about 2.5 hours but got breakfast while we waited, went to the bank, browsed some shops, got a job interview set up, and talked to Labour Canada. It was nice to get up early and walk, something I never do. I really need to start that. Having Greg along for the walk, was a bonus.

We picked up Brad, went to eat, helped him rescue his truck and then just chilled at the hotel. It was a nice day, just going with the flow.

I’m thankful for these moments with Greg. Although we miss our kids, these moments allow us to rekindle the love and appreciation we have for one another. When we’re together we laugh about the silliest things and just take it easy, do whatever we want with no worries. We often think out loud about our future and what that looks like as our kids turn to adults and leave the nest.

We are having breakfast then heading home to our kids. It’s another good day to cruise with my G-Lo. I love him, our kids and our life.

Renee

F*ck You, IRS

WARNING: MATURE CONTENT

Fuck You, Indian Residential School.

We saw Indian Horse tonight. It made me angry and my heart aches. I felt rage and sadness. As a result, I have a few choice words to share.

Fuck you, Catholic churches across Canada and the world that thought they knew what was best for our people.

Fuck you, Catholic churches, and your holier than thou religion that was forced upon our people.

Fuck you, Catholic churches and your priests, brothers and nuns who felt it was acceptable to torture, rape and beat defenseless Indigenous kids.

Fuck you, Catholic churches, and your institutions where 1000s upon 1000s of Indigenous kids died and never got to see their families again.

Fuck you, Catholic churches, for ripping my parents from my Grandmas and Grandpas, and kids and parents from each other.

Fuck you, Catholic churches, for taking our language and traditions from my parents so that I didn’t learn them either.

Fuck you, Catholic churches, for taking my Dad from me.

Fuck you, Catholic churches, for hurting my Dad so badly that he kills himself every day with alcohol. FUCK YOU!!!

Fuck you, Canadian government, for your truth and reconciliation bullshit. It means nothing when I see Indigenous people killing themselves every day with drugs and alcohol over years of trauma and pain.

Fuck you, to anyone who thinks Indigenous people should “just get over it.”

Fuck you. Fuck you. FUCK YOU!

The one thing you didn’t take was our people’s strength and resiliency, so fuck you.

Renee

Focus North

Good morning. We headed off to Fort Liard, Northwest Territories, yesterday morning after the kids headed to school and learned that the Elder we were going to see came to Fort Nelson, so we had passed him on the highway. Instead of turning around and coming home, as originally planned, we got to see family and friends we don’t often get to see.

On the way to Fort Liard, Greg and I talked about how he felt coming home and he shared he felt anxious. Ever since his dad passed away, he hasn’t gone to his home community very often. It’s usually only under my urging that we go or we go as a family for community events, but even those times, are few and far between. We probably only go once or twice a year, if that. I recall not going for about two or three years, and I think we went for a funeral.

I talked to him and told him how important his connection to his community is, for his healing and wellbeing and for our kids. They are a part of Acho Dene Koe (ADK); it is their family and community, too. I shared with him how much I love Fort Liard because it brought us together, and that had I never had the connection to Fort Liard, we wouldn’t be together. Fort Liard brought us together. I am so thankful for that.

My heart is connected to Fort Liard and the ADK people and has been for over 20 years now. It’s funny because I asked my Uncle Bonzo at the conference a few days ago if he had ever partied there, like I did, and he said he had. I think that’s funny that my uncle used to party there, too. He’s 40 plus years my senior. That’s how my connection started there, it revolved around partying, and through that I gained family and friends and the connection has since remained. Although those choices no longer control my life, I always love going back to Fort Liard; it will always be my other home.

We visited Greg’s elderly aunt and uncle at the Senior Citizen’s complex, got to take his Mom for a cruise, visited his cousin Derwin and got to meet his new baby girl, Dayna, stop in at his Band Office, and visit the craft shop. If you’re ever in Fort Liard, the craft shop and Liard Valley General Store are must stops. I love to just browse at all the items they carry. The ADK people are culturally rich and it shows in their traditional crafts. The craft shop has some of the most beautiful work I’ve ever seen. Wow. Before leaving, we bought a piece of Greg’s family’s work, a tiny Dene drum ornament made by his uncle Pierre Berreault. I got some earrings and we bought my Mom an ornament of a little pair of wrap-arounds. I wanted them to remind her of her Mom, my Grandma Mary.

So, that was our day yesterday, a little trip to Fort Liard and ADK territory, and our other home. Like I said, I’m so thankful for Fort Liard because it brought Greg and I together. Through years of partying to today, it was all meant to be and I have never regretted one day of my life, it brought me the best parts of that little community – my husband, Gregory.

Today is a new day. I am thankful.

 

Renee

Some of my Berreault family, Freda and Marsha (RIP)

Lessons

Life is short. As I’ve aged I’ve been made fully aware that this statement is all too true. We’ve lost so many loved ones and grieving is endless. So many have gone before us that I have come to recognize the importance of grieving and working through the grieving process, our health depends on it.

What I’ve learned, too, is that I’m capable of grieving in my own way and if I don’t attend a funeral, it’s not out of disrespect but allowing myself to grieve in my own way. I have helped many family and friends with funeral arrangements and some are harder than others, looking at the many photographic memories of the deceased I relive my own memories with that person. Sometimes, I laugh, sometimes I cry. I have learned through years of healing that the person never leaves us, they are just here in spirit, no longer in our physical world. This brings me comfort.

What’s my point? I’m not sure there is one. I am heading to Fort Liard today to listen to an Elder’s story for the Na Deh Kleh newsletter that I created for our people, and I thought about the lessons I’ve learned over the years. Grief is such a big one, the importance of grieving in a healthy way. Listening to the women in the healing circle yesterday and seeing Grandmas cry for their losses, made me think of years of pain our people have endured. It hurts my heart to see a Grandma cry for a child they’ve lost or a Mom cry for her son. Our people deserve to heal.

I remember many a day when I’d get in there and party with the family and friends of a deceased one to celebrate their life after the funeral. What I didn’t know at the time was that addictions stunt our grieving process, so we remain stuck in that time, finding it harder and harder to let the deceased go. Memories are relived and they are like a record player in our minds, stuck skipping. This ends when we stop using and start addressing the pain and start the healing work our bodies, minds and spirits need.

I still feel pain when I recall the good memories of past loved ones, anger when I think they could have been spared life if only they’d stopped drinking/drugging, and I still cry when the tears come. Healing and tears are good. Allow your self to cry but also allow yourself to enjoy life, too, that is what our loved ones would want. They would want us to be happy, healthy and to keep living life.

Healing and tears are good. Allow your self to cry but also allow yourself to enjoy life, too, that is what our loved ones would want.

Before I wrap up, I also want to share that grieving is not only about losing someone we love. Grieving is many things. We grieve when we lose or leave people, places and things. I grieved the loss of my favorite coat, a job I had to leave, and have grieved favorite places I’ve visited. Ahh, the ocean. My spirit aches for the ocean. So find someone to talk about those things, too. Find a professional or a friend you can trust to listen and help you unload some of that pain, so you can live fully today.

I wish for our people to heal all the years of pain, grief and loss. It seems endless for sure but it’s possible to take care of us so the pain does not control our lives or us. Creator intended for us to live in harmony and I’m sure that is what our loved ones, in the physical and spiritual world, want for us, too.

The sun is shining, so bless you this beautiful day. I wish you a great weekend.

 

Renee

More or Less

We made it home after three nights in Fort St. John for the Walk in Balance conference. Coming home is always a welcome sight. Now that our kids are older the puppies are the most happy to see us, haha. We love coming home to our kids, Mom’s dinners and fresh laundry, and these crazy puppies.

I feel like I should be writing more for you but I’ve been distracted so I recognize the importance of tackling writing first thing in the morning when my mind is fresh and alert. The ideal time is not laying in bed, on my phone, in my pajamas, ready for bed. My mind becomes jello at this hour, so my apologies.

Today marks my ninth year of sobriety, and I got to spend my morning in a women’s healing circle. That’s pretty swell if you ask me! I shared through some tears but not sad tears, tears of empathy. What we go through as women is often suffered in silence because we’re too busy taking care of everyone but ourselves. I heard the pain of the women in our circle and my heart feels that. I know what it’s like to lose a loved one and to fight addiction. I also heard the strength of those women who were still moving forward despite the struggles. Indigenous women are resilient and strong. We are the lifeblood of our communities.

I didn’t get to see everyone I’d hoped to see and talk to because we left right after the circle but all in all, it was a good day and great 3 days overall. I’m happy we were able to go with Shawna’s (and NENAN’s) help. Thanks Shawna.

Good night, relatives.

Renee

Reconciliation

Did I spell that right? Rec-on-cil-i-ation.

I’m tired and it’s late so I’m simply going to share something Chastity Davis said today that hit me right in the gizzards. She asked, “What do you need to reconcile within yourself before you can offer reconciliation to the world?”

Wow, right? POW, right in the gizzards! I am thankful for today. Thankful for this amazing day amongst my relatives in Treaty 8 territory, the home of our people.

Before I go, I leave you with something else Ms. Davis shared that was shared with her also, “You are the healer you’ve been waiting for.” Meaning, everything we need to heal ourselves is within us, we just have to do the work. So, so true. How do I know it’s true? I know it’s true because I’ve done the work and the work continues, every day. It never ends. We are always “a work in progress” because there is always room for improvement. Every day is a new day to learn and grow; a gift to us from the Creator. I am thankful.

Again, one last time…

“What do you need to reconcile within yourself before you can offer reconciliation to the world?”

Good night, world. Be kind to one another. Thank you for your words today, Chastity. I look forward to exploring that question more for myself.

Renee

 

 

United We Stand

Day one of Walk in Balance 5 in Fort St. John with Greg comes to a close. We are both lounging in our hotel room after a great day. I can see the beautiful blue, orange and black sunset sky out the window. I feel content in my heart. Life is good.

It’s a beautiful thing to see so many Indigenous people united for the benefit of all. Our future generations depend on us to lay down the path for them and these conferences and teachings help us do that. Each of us has a responsibility to take these teachings back to our community and move forward in a good way. I am thankful for these opportunities.

I look forward to these next two days. I’m proud to be here, among our people, learning and growing. I am proud to be exactly who Creator made me to be ~ a Dene woman.

Life is good in the North. Good night.

Renee

You’re Worth It

When is the last time someone told you you matter? You do.

As my husband and I drove down the highway, headed south on our adults-only adventure, I got to asking him about the things he values and what he has to offer this world and it stunned me to hear he didn’t feel he brought value. My heart physically hurt and I started to cry. He held my hand as I spoke through the tears.

I cried because I know he has so much to offer this world and Creator gives each of us, including him, purpose when we’re born. He brings value to everyone around him but I also realize he’s not alone in those thoughts. For so many years, I thought that about myself, too. I felt I wasn’t destined for much more than where I was in those dark times.

Growing up on the rez with alcoholism everywhere we looked, experiencing traumatic ordeals regularly and enduring grief and loss endlessly, it is hard to see value, hope, and light at the end of the tunnel. It is hard to see our worth or purpose. It is there, though. No matter the hell we’ve been through, we all have a purpose here on earth, to teach, learn, grow, heal, help and love others.

No matter the hell we’ve been through, we all have a purpose here on earth, to teach, learn, grow, heal, help and love others.

I talked to my husband through tears about post traumatic stress disorder and the symptoms around that and how often we are reminded physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually of the damage caused to us by all the traumas in our lives. Moreover, that we have choices to let those experiences control and dictate our lives or not. I told him how much he has to offer this world, his kids, family and community. I told him how proud he should be of all that he’s overcome. He is of great value to me and our kids.

To summarize it all, I want you to know how much you matter. You, you and you, too. We all bring great value to this world just by our presence. I hope you feel that deep in your soul. No matter your circumstances, you matter, and don’t you dare let anyone tell you different. The world is a better place with you in it.

Thankfully we made it safely to our destination and get to spend some quality time learning and growing with one another over the next few days. Good night.

Renee

Late Night Thoughts

As I lay here in the dark, husband sleeping next to me, washing machine making noises down the hall way, I wonder what the future holds for us. Particularly, my husband and I.

By 2019, both kids will be graduated high school and making their own plans but what does that mean for us? I’ve struggled with that in these last few months, especially after Unleash the Power Within. What’s my future hold? What do I want to do with the rest of my life? What’s going to make me happiest? What am I going to do to make shit happen? I keep seeing and hearing the quote in my head:

“Who were you before the world told you who you had to be?”

I feel like I’ve never really lived my life for me. I haven’t even really lived life at all yet. Growing up, I lived under my parents rules and guidance, as most kids do. I started doing my own thing early on in my teens, which lead me to a life of drugs and alcohol for many years, resulting in my life being ruled by addiction. During those years, I was wasn’t living at all, more like barely surviving. Then when we had kids, addiction continued, and still we weren’t really living. Once in sobriety our lives became fully and completely about our kids. So as you see, our lives were never really ours to live, until now, as our kids have gained more and more independence over time. Funny how that works, the older they get, the less cool we become. Go figure!

That’s not to say we haven’t had some really amazing experiences with our kids because we most definitely have. Choosing sobriety allowed us to save money to take them places we only dreamed about, and experience those people, places and things, as a family. We all got to go to Disneyland as a family for the first time together. What a memorable time! That was living. The excitement. The challenges. The adventure. The first-time experiences. That was living!

As I’ve gotten older and with each death we experience in our community, I’ve realized how limited our time on earth is. In less than 20 years, I’ll be 60, I am running out of time to do all the things I want to do. I want to live fully! So many years have been spent coasting through life while it passed us by. It’s time! Time to saddle the fuck up, get my shit together, and get on with living! It’s not enough to say it or write it. It’s about getting shit done!

So with that, the hubs and I are off on a little Mom and Dad-only adventure this week to kickstart our get busy living or get busy dying plan. I choose the get busy living option! Each day is a new day to start fresh and get living! Let’s live! Whooo!

I don’t even know if I made sense but in my head and heart it does. I just know it’s time for us to wake up every day, embrace life and choose to give it our all. We deserve so much yet we expect so little from ourselves that we cheat ourselves from really living the lives we want and deserve.

Good night.

Renee

Celebrate Every Day

Today marks my husband’s eighth year of sobriety. It has gotten much easier but it hasn’t always been so. We struggled through a lot of shit to get to today. We made it here together.

I remind him often how much I love him, how thankful we are for him, and how grateful we are for this life we have. The one thing we don’t do as a couple is celebrate our successes enough, though. The little successes matter just as much as the big ones.

Like tonight, just so happened we got tickets to Green River Revival, a CCR Tribute Band, and so we invited family to come along and we had a good time, with lots of laughs and loud tunes. I don’t remember the last time him and I went out anywhere together, gussied up and had fun with other adults. Made me realize how important it is to celebrate more often, no matter the occasion, just celebrate. Celebrate our lives, happiness and health. That ought to be enough, to celebrate every day.

Back in the day, we’d get drunk and high to celebrate and celebrate getting drunk and high, it was a lose-lose situation. Now, we can enjoy the good times without drugs or alcohol and remember the whole night. YES! I don’t miss those old days. We have a really good life and I am happy to celebrate that, every day. We deserve it.

I love you, my Lomens. I love this life with you. I’m grateful every day that Creator gifted me with the three of you.Good night.

Renee

They All Count

This is still a post, so it counts.

I’m tired. When I’m tired, I get grouchy.

When I’m grouchy, I can’t get “in the zone”.

When I’m not “in the zone”, I can’t write or be creative.

When I can’t write or be creative, you get posts like this. K? Cool.

Peace out. Sleep tight and so will I. Tomorrow is a new day to start fresh. YES!!

Renee

It’s a Talk Show Life

Have you ever wanted to call Dr. Phil on your family? No? Me neither.

Actually, I’ve thought about it more than once. Honestly. Anyone else? What would you say? What is the one big issue you’d want help with? Parental issues, sibling rivalry, midlife crisis, unhappy marriage, love triangle, unruly kid, mooching adult kids? There’s a lot we all could choose from I’m sure.

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If you contacted the show, do you think your family would participate? There’s a lot to consider. Would work let you take the time off? Would you forget to turn the coffee maker off? Would your life be worse off than before? What would you wear? Do you think calling the show would result in your family being even more pissed off at your or at each other? What will Jane or John do when Dr. Phil surprises them with mandatory treatment? Flip out and tell the camera guy to fuck off or decide to go but decide they hate your guts and are never going to speak to you again? Imagine that scene!

Isn’t it funny to think of the reality of all that happening? What if you got a call tomorrow from a Dr. Phil producer to be on the show? Or better yet, Jerry Springer? We all know Jerry Springer is going to result in some missing hair and/or water to the face. Let’s pray none of us ever land on Jerry Springer.

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Ok, enough of that, I better get to bed. I had myself some laughs. I hope you did too. Let the scenario play out in your mind with the members of your family. It’s actually pretty comical.

Good night.

 

Renee

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Five Questions

It’s day four of my one hundred posts in one hundred days. Today, since I wanted to keep it simple, I’m going to answer five random questions from the book, Question of the Day by Al Katkowsky.

  1. What was the hardest thing you had to do that yielded a huge benefit?

First thing that came to mind was leaving my job. I had been there four years and absolutely loved what I did. I never considered it a job; it was something I loved to do. To me, it wasn’t work and I believe I provided an invaluable service to the people I served. The huge benefit in leaving my work is that I got to heal my mind and spirit from the damage that was caused to me mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually.

The other thing that came to mind was fire walking at Unleash the Power Within! RAWR! I AM A FIREWALKER! I walked on fire, a bed of burning hot coals, and I didn’t feel a thing! I did it. I faced my fears, got in a peak state and kicked ass across that fire. BOOM! What’s the benefit of that? I know I can do anything I set my mind to! I am capable, courageous, smart, fun, and fucking badass! Whoooo!

  1. Who did you most recently meet that made you feel that you really need that kind of person in your life?

Helen and Ivonne, Tony Robbins and my fellow Fire Walkers from Unleash the Power Within San Jose. Each person in that SAP Centre was there with good intentions and a fiery spirit ready to conquer goals and smash the shit out of fears and judgments limiting us. Together we made moves, shook our asses and walked all over the fires in our lives to bust out smiling with an even more fiery spirit than before we got there. I need all those kinds of people in my life. We all do!

  1. What did you most recently notice someone getting paid for, or doing professionally, that you know you could do better?

Ha-ha! This is on page 85 of the book, not even joking, and I randomly picked questions I opened up the page to. This was one of them.

See question and answer 1. Simply put, my communications and newsletter job, hands down.

  1. What do you accept in friends that you don’t accept in strangers?

Well, this is an easy one. I accept friends coming over, taking their shoes off and visiting, strangers not so much.

Actually, that’s not entirely true. My family has, on more than one occasion, invited strangers to crash at our homes because we’re nice (maybe naïve, too) like that. Ha-ha. I believe most people in this world are good people and we like to help people, even strangers. It’s good karma.

  1. Who or what did you not realize you were attached to until that person or thing was gone?

My older than old balls, ratty old Point Zero coat that I ordered from the Sears catalogue in the mid-nineties. I kept trying to part with it but could never seem to let it go. My grandma repaired it for me, the cuffs had because worn out in patched, the zipper on the pouch didn’t work and then finally this winter, I dropped it off at the thrift store. Low and behold, my son asked where it was and I told him. He wanted it for skidooing and winters at the cabin, so we tried to go reclaim it but they said they must’ve thrown it out if it was damaged. It was time to let it go obviously. Needless to say, I was sad. I was hoping it was there so my son could keep it, which meant it would still be in my life. Ha-ha.

That’s my five random questions and answers. I love to write but sometimes, even I need prompts. I’d love to see your responses to the questions above, too. Feel free to post your responses in the comments section.

It’s been a long but really good day. I got to spend the day with my fellow firewalker that’s in town for the weekend. Yes!

Good night and God bless.

Renee

Why Don’t We Dance?

“Head, heart, feet move me,

Beautiful, sacred prayers,

Drum danced till late night.”

#DeneHaiku by R. Lomen

Dene Tha Assembly 2017

Today I got thinking about the Dene drums and dancing and how proud, strong and happy I feel when I dance, especially when it’s alongside my family. I believe dancing to the Dene drums heals us; it is our medicine.

Then I got to thinking about other things, such as why don’t our members dance, or drum? Some do but very few do. Why is that? Why do some communities have many drummers and dancers while others do not? What’s different about the communities?

I remember when I was a child, unsure of my age at the time, but drummers from Alberta came to our community and we celebrated Treaty Days with tea dances at Old Reserve. The only memory I have dancing in those early years was when an Alberta Elder drummed on my grandparent’s lawn for a few of us kids. I’m not even sure who the other kids were but we danced around in a circle as he drummed, having innocent fun, no cares in the world.

Fast-forward to my early teens when we still had Treaty Days Princess pageants and girls vied for the title… remember those? I recall dancing but it wasn’t something that I felt comfortable doing. I didn’t grow up around the drums until those early years so it wasn’t something that I was born around. I guess I felt insecure and unsure of my footing, shy, fearful of judgment or criticism.

Later on, I became involved in drugs and alcohol and Treaty Days became something else to me; a party, the weekend to hang out at the drum dance and then go party afterward, usually missing days two and three. All those years of participating in our traditions wasted.

Now, going on nine years of sobriety, I’ve danced at most community dances and traveled with my family to other drum dances and gatherings just to dance and be surrounded with others that like to dance, too. I can’t imagine not having the drums in our lives. Even in the last two or three years, I’ve been witness to my husband picking up the drum more often to help drum and had the blessing of dancing while both my husband and son drummed. My heart overflowed with pride in that moment.

So, back to my question: why don’t people dance? I guess it’s a culmination of many things, both internal and external. We pay to bring drummers in for special events and pay thousands of dollars to have 20-40 people dance while at other communities there’s 100s of people dancing together, celebrating, having fun, showing pride in the ways of our people. They often dance until the wee hours of the morning and still the dances could go on if the drummers didn’t need their rest. There is something to be said about Elders out dancing people our age. They’re still trying to teach us the ways, yet some of us don’t see the lessons. It’s such a beautiful thing to be a part of. I wish more of our own people danced but in time, with healing, that will come.

Nothing is more healing than dancing alongside your family, kids and friends to drums so powerful that you can feel them deep inside your soul. I missed out on so many years of that because of the choices I made when I had the opportunity. I’m thankful my kids grew up around the drums at an earlier age than I, and that they get up and dance with and without me. They know they don’t need drugs or alcohol to dance and participate in their traditions and that makes me proud. They respect the drum and the dance.

With summer coming, there will be more chances to get those feet moving. I hope more people get up; show their pride and DANCE to the drums. It’s healing. Don’t worry what others may think or say, dance for you, dance to heal your heart, dance for the pride you feel, dance because you can! Dance because your future generations are watching you, waiting for you to lead them.

Close your eyes and imagine the day when all of our community dances together.

 

Renee

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Check out my “Live from DTFN Assembly” Youtube video of a drum dance in Chateh, AB!

Goals and Gratitude

Good morning. The sun is coming up and I am on day two of my one hundred day challenge. I will write one hundred posts in one hundred days. That is my goal.

I woke up thinking, ‘what am I going to write about for ninety-nine days?’ I started yesterday, so technically, there is ninety-nine days to go. Waking up and getting right down to it seems to be helping. Crank some tunes and get on with it.

Today, it’s simple. Gratitude. Gratefulness.

Gratitude, according to Google, is the quality of being thankful, readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.

To recognize day ninety-nine, I’m going to list 99 things I’m grateful for, so here goes:

  1. My family, including the friends I consider family,
  2. The sun coming up shining on the tops of the trees,
  3. Sunrises,
  4. Sunsets,
  5. Driving on the highway when you first notice it’s like summer driving, clear of snow, just you and the highway,
  6. Cranked tunes,
  7. The smell of the coffee brewing,
  8. Silence in the early morning before the world awakens,
  9. Writing,
  10. My MacBook,
  11. Running water,
  12. A roof over our heads,
  13. Money in the bank,
  14. Chickadees chickadeeing,
  15. Journaling,
  16. Reading,
  17. Books,
  18. Bookstores that I can browse for hours in,
  19. Photos,
  20. Sobriety,
  21. My past, it is why I am who I am,
  22. My colorful art from Ashton and Danielle,
  23. Dishwashers, not human, but of the machine kind,
  24. Growing up in a small town,
  25. Small town life,
  26. Childhood friends from Kotchea Sub,
  27. The puddle that always accumulated by the stop sign that allowed us kids hours of play in the spring,
  28. Making mud pies and chocolate milk as a kid (aka dirt and muddy water and no, we never really ate them, but damn, they looked good enough to eat for sure!),
  29. My grandparents, George and Mary Behn, and Fred and Madeline Burke,
  30. Bananas,
  31. Fry meat, potatoes and onions,
  32. A cool shower on a hot summer day,
  33. Our ability to help others,
  34. Education,
  35. Na Deh Kleh Newsletter,
  36. Sober Indigenous men; nothing is sexier than a strong, sober, Indigenous man, who takes care of their shit,
  37. Same goes for women,
  38. A drivers license,
  39. Free courses to learn and grow,
  40. Our public library,
  41. Our cabin,
  42. The wind in the trees,
  43. The wind in my hair,
  44. Sitting by the water,
  45. The ocean,
  46. Vancouver, everything about it, makes it my favorite city,
  47. Airplanes,
  48. Road trips,
  49. Bucket lists,
  50. Checking off items on bucket lists,
  51. Rowing machines, try the one at Infinite Strength Wellness, I love it!,
  52. Getting rid of junk,
  53. Good perfume,
  54. My duvet,
  55. Solitude,
  56. Watching my kids laugh together or with their friends,
  57. Family adventures, road trips, travels, meetings,
  58. Lynda Gwynn,
  59. The Dene drums,
  60. Sweat lodge,
  61. Arizona meetings,
  62. Life on the Rez,
  63. People who stand up for what’s right for everyone’s benefit,
  64. Dateline and 48 Hours, what else would I do on a Friday and Saturday evening?,
  65. Jonni, Cash and Cannon, what’s life without dogs?,
  66. Tony Robbins’ Unleash the Power Within,
  67. Robin Sharma,
  68. Tim Ferris,
  69. My Muck boots,
  70. My Sanucks,
  71. Passionate people, you inspire me,
  72. My voice,
  73. Medical staff in Fort Nelson, it’s nice to have the same doctor since before your babies were born,
  74. Jamie McDonald at Murray GMC, she’s truly the best,
  75. Corbett, Orthodontist,
  76. Great customer service, tip those people,
  77. Our newspaper delivery girl, Sydney (I hope I spelled her name right),
  78. Popcorn and a movie,
  79. Shameless, it makes me appreciate how good life we have, lol,
  80. Kakawis and the families who got us through the first 6 weeks of our new life,
  81. Summer nights in Fort Nelson,
  82. Northern lights,
  83. The brothers I never had, Josh (RIP), Jonas, Brad,
  84. Fort Liard, it brought me so many good things, including my husband and FTL family and friends,
  85. The FNFN Lands staff and building, they helped me through a real difficult time and made me feel welcome, I sure miss them and their space,
  86. Our traditional medicines that heal us,
  87. Healing work,
  88. Days Inn haha,
  89. Our Alberta family,
  90. Josh and Arn’s hospitality,
  91. Crystal’s cooking and creativity,
  92. My husband’s ability to fix, build and work on pretty much anything,
  93. Tattoos, I think I need at least one more,
  94. Bannock,
  95. Rodeo dances, they’re the best,
  96. Laughing with Greg, it’s my favourite thing to do,
  97. Music concerts,
  98. Memories of loved ones past, and finally,
  99. My blog.

Whew! Happy Monday! This is my reminder to start every day with a grateful heart. I’m so grateful for life and the opportunity to wake up to a new day every morning, a clean slate, to improve, learn and grow.

Renee

It’s Time

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. It’s time. I’ve been putting it off long enough. Today is the day I get my ass in this chair and sit down and start writing.

What’s new? The last time I wrote, I was excited about going to Tony RobbinsUnleash the Power Within (UPW) in San Jose, California with my auntie Lycrecia. Well, that was a blast! The hard part was coming home and being full of energy and drive and no one understanding but I’ve still not lost the drive. Honestly, I’ve never been one full of energy but Tony and my UPW family got me to see how important movement and drive are, among other things. At the event, I realized how many of us, including me, just coast through life. We do our daily routines without thought, ensure everyone is taken care of (but us, most times), we settle for less than what we want or deserve and it’s killing us. Stress and mediocrity is killing us. I want to live! I want to live up to my full potential. I know my purpose is beyond my wildest dreams and it’s up to me to make that shit a reality! BOOM!

I can’t recall where I left off when I last wrote and I’m not about to go check, I have no time, I’m on a roll. Tunes are cranked and I’m typing away here.

So, I am not sure if I told you of my newest venture, Na Deh Kleh – Our Paper. I started my own newsletter. Yup, decided one day I wanted to keep doing what I love to do and so I did, I just came up with a name, design and put it all together and ended up with a first edition! See? We CAN make shit happen when we want it bad enough! Whoo! The second issue of Na Deh Kleh newsletter was bigger and better and I’m so excited to include community members in this great passion of mine. After all, it is our paper and I want you to have a say. I welcome all Indigenous peoples from Fort Nelson First Nation, Fort Nelson, Prophet River, Fort Liard/Acho Dene Koe, Treaty 8/Fort St John area communities, and our Dene Tha relatives to contact me if they wish to be a part of our newsletter. As the year progresses, I know we will grow and continue to bring the good medicine to the people. I truly love what I do.

It is now April and it seems like just last month it was January. Time moves so quickly that life is passing us by. That kind of goes along with what I said earlier about coasting through life, before we know it, a year has passed and we haven’t done any of the things we dreamed of doing, nor completed any of the goals we set out for ourselves. It’s time! I challenge you to set one goal for yourself, pick something you’ve wanted to do for a long time but never did. Today is the day to set that in to motion! Find an accountability partner who will hold your feet to the fire and help you reach those goals; can be something big or small, just set that goal. Be courageous and love yourself enough to vow not to live small and DO IT, do the things you’ve wanted to do for a long time. Not every goal has to cost money, it can be anything. Cleaning up the closet you’ve been ignoring for a year, getting rid of the clothes you haven’t worn in 6 months, reading a book from cover to cover or whatever else your heart desires. Do it! Today is the day! I love you. You are worth it. The feelings of accomplishing even small goals are a tremendous gift to your spirit and energy. Who knows what you can accomplish when you start kicking ass on the small goals? Whoa!

I believe in you. I believe in myself, too. For a long time, I didn’t believe in myself. I questioned everything I did, as if I didn’t know myself enough to do what is right for me. Of course I know me! I know me best than anyone! I’d often find myself seeking everyone’s opinion before settling on a choice, even when I’d do what I said I was going to do in the first place. Imagine the time I’d have not wasted had I just done what I set out to do in the first place? I’d probably be off a lot farther than I am now but it’s time. Today, I’m more confident in my choices than ever before. I know what’s right for me. We all do. We all know the answers inside. I read something this morning and it was about our blueprint for our lives and our purpose. We were all born with a purpose and it’s up to us to look inside for what our purpose is. What’s yours? The answer doesn’t come easily. We’ve been hurt and through years of oppression and trauma, we lose sight of our purposes early on, especially if we’ve had traumatic upbringings and grew up in dysfunctional homes. It took me 5 tries to finally stop abusing drugs and alcohol. I knew that is not what Creator wanted for my life or my kids’ lives. I had a choice. No one was making me abuse drugs or alcohol; no one forced the drugs or alcohol in my system. It was a choice I made to do that to my body, my kids, my family, and my spirit. When I could see clearly enough I made the choice to go down a different path and here I am. This April 19 I celebrate nine years of sobriety. It’s time to choose life. Do it! I know you can!

If you ever want to talk, know that I am here. Reach out if you have to. Find someone to talk to. I am not a life coach, a counselor, a therapist but I have life experience and deep love for my people. I know the struggle. I also know how fucking great it feels to celebrate 6 months, then a year and another year, all for my own health and wellbeing and that my kids get to know their parents are alive, sober and really living. They’re worth it. I am worth it. So are you. Let’s choose life today, together!

Have a great and sunny Sunday, relatives. Don’t forget to make that goal! It’s time! Today is the day.

Renee