It's a wonderful thing to be able to travel through Montana, Utah, Washington, most of California, New Mexico, Arizona, and Oklahoma from the big sky country of Montana to the cool of the Pacific northwest, the beauty of the Pacific coast, the Rocky Mountains, the high desert and the big sky country of Oklahoma. This was a trip I have absolutely always wanted to make and, thanks to Eric, was able to do it. He did all the driving in his Prius so I just sat back and looked at the sights. What a wonderful gift!
We took our time so that we could rest when we got tired. Sometimes we stopped at rest stops and took naps. Sometimes we checked into lodgings at 3:00 in the afternoon. Sometimes we didn't get on the road until 11:00 a.m. We used my iphone to search for restaurants that had fresh vegetables and fruit which meant that I got home 3 pounds lighter than when I left. Our country is so big and so varied that being in awe of what I saw became a normal way to be.
I made a list of what I learned at the Grandmother's gathering. The major thing was that ceremony and ritual seem to be the most effective way of healing trauma. One of the attendees at the gathering was a clinical psychologist who is Northern Cheyenne and a professor at the University of Montana. He is also the author of a novel - "The Buddha in Redface." It is his contention that "generational trauma" can be inherited and that many of the difficulties native people face now result from the trauma their ancestors experienced when the Caucasions took over their lands. Many native people simply died out completely. But the concept is that anyone can use the power of ceremony to heal.
What came to my attention is that I still carry the fear that as a woman I am always at risk in the world and that I need healing from that fear. This became even more vivid when I got home and watched some of the news. I had thought that much of the negative beliefs about women had changed except for a very few people. It turns out that, for example, many, many people apparently believe that a woman cannot get pregnant from rape. If she does get pregnant, it means that she is lying about being raped and wasn't really forced. Oh my God! I really got in touch with the fear that's been with me all my life. For sure this is something I must deal with - ceremony and ritual coming up.
I learned a tremendous amount about Native beliefs. I didn't know, for example, that prior to 1978 it was illegal for natives to practice their religion. Of course, the religious practices went "underground" so the ceremonies and language still exist in most of the larger tribes, but have been pretty much completely lost in the smaller tribes. These losses have devastated people collectively and individually because they've lost their foundation and connection with God although they have tried to connect with the mainstream religions.
I learned that recovery groups are the same pretty much everywhere. There is so much peace in entering a room filled with strangers in a strange town and feeling immediately at home and safe. The same principles and heart-felt love are present.
Thanks to Eric's suggestion, I plan to put my wheelchair back in to use occasionally. We missed going to the boardwalk in Santa Cruz because it would have been a very long walk and I simply could not do it. If I had had my wheelchair I could have done it. So when I got home, I stripped everything unnecessary off my wheelchair and plan to use it when I have to go long distances so I can save myself for fun!
We stayed at a resort in Montana that has pools filled with hot spring water and Eric suggested (?) that I try walking in the hot and warm water. Sure enough, I felt wonderful being able to walk without difficulty or pain and the effects lasted for almost a week. I was able to walk on dry land without pain or stiffness. So off I go to join the YWCA with a heated pool and hot tub.
All in all the trip was an amazing experience. The downside was that my beloved companion, Cisco, got very sick while I was gone. He hasn't been well for some months now. The vet tells me that he is in kidney and liver failure and there's no cure. Tammy took him to the vet who gave him antibiotics and an IV so he was better when I got home. However, he is still sick and getting sicker. It looks like it's almost time for him to cross the rainbow bridge. I can only be grateful for the ten plus years he has showered me (and anyone who comes in my house) with unconditional love.
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