Category Archives: grief

maybe deep beneath.

Is a desire to get better, to grow.

Some days I felt ultra introspective. A new co-worker that I’ve come to see as friend will some days stick a post-it with a heart on her shoulder. On a particularly tough day she offered it to me. I didn’t know it would be a rough day when I woke up. That’s the beauty of it. Life, it doesn’t alert us to those rough days. Sometimes there are successions of them, periods where days blur into weeks, months and then suddenly, a wave shoves forth and like that–we are free.

There have been a lot of changes lately. I’ve been running a lot. Working. Trying to be more patient with things but finding my usually batty rapid thinking that gets me from a to z 68 times before I’ve stopped to consider b.

Recently there have been family issues. Worries that have brought to the surface my childhood. The dark spots, the waiting and sleeping in cars whilst my mother drove bar to bar looking for my father saying aloud prayer that he wouldn’t have spent his whole paycheck or have been rolled by some Godless heathen. Prayers that the car wouldn’t break down or that she’d find $20 more dollars for a couple gallons of gas to get home and get a piece of meat to stretch through the week. Yelling, blood.

I’m thankful for a great many things in this life, one is that childhood is not forever.
I pray and deliberate each day and am thankful that Kale does not have my childhood. I am also sad that he will never get to see the beauty of life on a reservation.


We moved.


dunkin donuts

We made it back to the desert. It’s been busy and happy.

I’m nervously training for a 5k. I feel slow and tired but my body loves the exercise.

I’ve hiked Piestewa Peak with a friend.

Kale is growing.

I mean to quilt more.

I’ve considered dumping the blog because I rarely post. Most days I’d rather live my day than reflect on it.  I still have periods of missing my grandma terribly, she left this earth 2.5 years ago and the grief doesn’t get easier-you just acclimate.

I like my new job. Most of the time I love it. I hope whomever reads this is well.  🙂


The charge of loss.

I wrote this the other day, and it made me cry:

I met someone in a professional setting recently and he asked me how I felt about the Navajo Nation and it’s problems. It seemed like the beginning of a conversation but turned into a mini lecture.  I thought he wanted to talk about the basics: addiction, poverty, low educational attainment.  Instead he offered up modernism.  According to him all the problems with the youth on the Navajo reservation are due to modernism and “being lost.”

He said modernism has overtaken the reservation and the current generation has lost its way.  He told me that the elders spoke our language, but noted that the children did not.  There’s a gap he said, a generation gap.  Some reference to tv.  Not enough time sitting under trees.  He wondered if I was willing (and able) to sway the youth back to their rightful place as keepers of our culture.

I think I may have chuckled a loud both confused and surprised to find myself the middle of the conversation with the expectation that I say something clever, yet oh-so-Indian to convince him I am not in fact modern myself. (Drats, for I am.)

I think he meant it as both a challenge and an attack.  He then went on to discuss how with all “our” (mine) education and “fancy” certifications that we don’t know what’s therapeutic for our children.  (The Navajo children, the children on the reservation.) There was more about “us” not being able to think outside our educated box.  Us being me.

I wanted to ask him about trauma and how he felt that affected these lost children.  I had statistics and research at the ready.  There was no pause to interject.  I wanted to talk about psychotherapy and it’s benefits.  I wanted to ask how he felt about doing therapy in Navajo and how he documented such exchanges.  But, since the children don’t speak Navajo I realized I had an answer.  I began to suspect my educated, experienced and evidenced-based version of psychotherapy was not seen as helpful because it represented the enemy.  An enemy had he named but had not yet slain.

I think he wanted me to pick a side, to state my intentions, to say something:  the White world is terrible!  To shout, ” Navajo Nation is king!” or something equally masculine and heroic. I did not.  I don’t recall how we changed subjects, but we did and we talked about play therapy.  I never put my flag in the ground.

This battle is not new.  I suspect many urban Indians have debated, defended, argued for and clarified modernism.  We’re well aware of our unofficial status as apples (red on the outside, White on the inside) for our decision(s) to move off the reservation.

Our families on the reservation (including mine) do not let us forget we have moved and have left the ways of our people.  Every holiday, every weekend spent off our ancestral home is a reminder that we have abandoned the flock. (Or so I’ve been told.)

Saving the reservation seems wonderful.  It’s a dream I’ve had too.  And the older I get, the more I realize maybe it is just that-a dream.  There are massive barriers and little support.

When I go home I meet tribal members who are quick to judge me.  Who would rather argue and try to slice me up than talk about the social issues, the high teen pregnancy rates, the high suicide rates and come up with a plan.  They insinuate and tell me that I’ve led the charge of loss because I left the reservation and therefore must have left my culture there too.  Fortunately, it doesn’t work that way.

I’m a different Indian having left.  Yes, I’m one that likes Angry Birds and cooking Chinese food, but I’m not bad, just different.

A note about Crownpoint, New Mexico

I grew up in a small town in New Mexico.  Little did I know the town was a gold mine of culture and natural wonder. I did a lot of running, walking and hiking as a child and teen.

I always assumed that was normal.  Living in Kansas has led me to believe otherwise. I think I was meant for mesas and mountains.  I miss the sky there. I miss the food.

I think I’m grieving the loss of terrain, friends and work in Arizona and therefore feel temporarily without a sense of peace.

I’ve learned a great deal in Kansas but it doesn’t feel like home.

Crownpoint is in the recent issue of the Navajo Times. Look for the howler article on

The rug auction is happening this weekend :

Enjoy your December everyone.

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On growing.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted and I’m a bit sorry about that.  Despite my wish to post on a more regular basis, it hasn’t happened.  What has happened is a lot of other good things: work, driving, more work, time with Kale, time with the BC‘s and just general exploration of this beautiful Kansas landscape. 

Driving to work (ok, it’s the getting up part) has been both a blessing and a challenge for me.  I drive 82.2 miles one-way to work.  Mind you in Phoenix I drove about .5 miles (including a Starbucks stop in the opposite direction) to get to work.  It’s taken some pep talks to get up and get into the car.  Once I’m in the car I’m fine. 

Don’t get me wrong, I really love the place I work and the people I work with are kind, caring and inspirational.  I think my boss is one of- if not (so far) the best boss I’ve ever had.  That alone speaks volumes because I’ve had some pretty amazing bosses and supervisors. There are some wonderful opportunities in the works that would both increase my skills as a therapist but also as a human being.

Despite the wonderfulness, it hasn’t been an easy transition.  I miss my old team.  I miss the Arizona sun.  I miss hiking, walking, running and all things outside.  I miss our big old house.  I miss the smell of concrete (that surprises me).  I miss the different types of food.  I miss availability: I could think of or learn about something and go get it.

However, there’s so much to love here.  The beef is amazing.  You might think I’m crazy but Kansas has produce and meat that  would make your organic grocer wet his pants.  The people are kind.  Some of them are odd, but for the most part they really seem to care about things.  My employer and peers are family oriented, so is this area.  The sunrise and sunsets are marvelous.  Most importantly, the BC’s are here.  They melt my heart.  Kale has grown so much.  He’s so joyful when it comes to his aunt, uncles, cousins and his grandmother.  Every according to him-everyone personally belongs to him.

I found this quote the other day and it resonated with me: There are moments in our lives when we summon the courage to make choices that go against reason, against common sense and the wise counsel of people we trust. But we lean forward nonetheless because, despite all risks and rational argument, we believe that the path we are choosing is the right and best thing to do. We refuse to be bystanders, even if we do not know exactly where our actions will lead.
Howard Schultz-Starbucks CE

I’m not exactly where all these little (and big) actions will lead, but I’m hopeful that something amazing will come of it. Some things already have. 🙂

Reflection: Right before Kale was born.

Before they diagnosed my esophageal disorder,  I spent about 6 weeks in what I can only describe as hell. I was 8 months pregnant and couldn’t hold down food or water. I went to work and prayed that something would change.  In the midst of that I experienced many sleepless nights.  I spent much of that time reading, crying, taking showers, pacing and doing other erratic things to try to manage the anxiety I felt about what was happening to my body.  I keep telling the doctors something was wrong. Towards the end, before they finally broke my water-I wrote this letter to my unborn son:

Dear Cheeto,

I know you’re in there, pushing against my pelvis and well, that just rocks.  I must say, the last few weeks have been very, very difficult for me.  You see, I like things to flow and well, the last few weeks have been full of flow-just not the sort I was hoping for.  The last few weeks I have coughed up more mucus, vomited and generally been deprived every option for nutrition as it has violently expelled from my body.

You however, are still very happily attached.  At our last ob appointment the doc laughed about how far down your head is, as if at the right moment you’d decide this ship was sinking and jump off.

At this point, I’m not sure what to say to you.  I’ve had several anxiety ridden conversations about how I’d love it if you’re hatch already, but really the underpinning of it has been:do what you need to do and I’ll continue to this disastrous road as best I can. I want you to be healthy and if that means you have to sap everything from me, so be it.  I’ll try not to resist so much.

I must say that this is by far the most difficult thing I’ve ever done.  I’ve never considered myself a pansy.  I’ve always thought when it came down to it, I could do just about anything.  I had enough evidence lined up to convince a jury that I was capable, but lately I’ve begun to question that belief.  Frankly, this is one of the few times in my life when I’ve felt hopeless and overwhelmed.  My friends joke that this is the perfect prelude to parenthood.  I half laugh & nearly scream seriously are you insane? They all say it’s worth it, and somewhere deep down inside, I believe them.

Given it all, even when I feel pretty bad, I’m excited to meet you and I hope that you’re ok in there, because out here I’m a hormonal and dehydrated mess.

I can’t promise a lot but I can promise that I’ll take good care of you.

Love, your mom.

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An exercise in the ‘tude.

Borrowed from the ever fantastic E’s blog,

Take five minutes to write about how grateful you are for all of the wonderful things that you currently have in
your life. Don’t long for what you don’t possess—instead, take stock of all the blessings you already enjoy.

  • My son. Everyday with him holds a million different little blessings.  Tonight I marveled (again) at his feet in his footie pajamas and thanked the universe that I was able to hold that moment in my senses and store it in my heart.
  • Having had my grandmother for so long.  It’s been hard for me to do a lot of things that I love.  I haven’t ran, I eat too much, I don’t cry enough and I’m always trying to pretend that when I go home, she won’t be gone.  There’s a lot to be said about all of this, but really-I’m grateful.
  • Being able to keep one foot ahead of my finances.
  • Being healthy most days. Having had some scares last year, it’s good to be able to rest, eat and live.
  • Having a cozy home where after a long day at work I can shed my work life and be with my husband and son.
  • The car club.  Who knew I’d like it? 
  • Having enough common sense to let some people go. (Now if I could stop wondering and seeing them roundabout online..) I’m not a big fan of RevRun, but someone on twitter that I follow retweeted this line: “saying good-bye isn’t saying I hate you, it’s saying, I love me.”  I get that.  I feel that inside, it resonates with me.
  • Having a solid job/career.  I talk to so many everyday who have lost or want jobs and are struggling.  I’m blessed to be where I am.
  • Hobbies.  I love me some embroidery these days.  And sewing, I feel successful after my diaper holder project a few weeks ago.  Next up, a skirt.  I can’t wait.
  • Education.  I was fortunate enough to have the determination and supports to make it.  I see now how rare it is for many people to finish. Life is hard.
  • Motivation.  I still have a bit more to learn & explore.
  • My family, my culture.
  • Wisdom from the success (and failures) of myself, those I love, those I don’t understand and those I treat.
  • My clients for reminding every day is a miracle and to embrace it.  That doesn’t mean every day is a peach, but it means that there’s always time to it’simportant reflect and to strive for kindness.  Many people have been kind to me & I’m grateful for the compassion.
  • My elders and their patience with my questioning, irrationality, anger, impulsiveness and my sarcasm. I have had many teachers and I am hopeful that continues for a long time.
  • The sound of my son’s voice and his laughter.
  • My husband’s stories, jokes and consistency.
  • The core of friends that really listen and celebrate all joys with me.  Thank you.
  • Ink pens.
  • Tea.
  • Girl scout cookies.
  • Email that’s personal.
  • Mail.
  • Being able to play Aion when the babe is asleep.
  • Bad television shows.
  • The sound and smell of rain.
  • Pork burritos, they sound dirty and taste good.
  • Experience.
  • New music.
  • Spring.


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Making paper snowflakes.

It’s the holiday season.  I love the holidays.  I’m a sucker for ornaments, trees, glittery wrapping paper, surprises, cookies and other randomly good things this time of the year brings.  I think Christmas really appeals to my inner child.  I get great joy from seeing a well wrapped gift.  I embrace the pleasure from a cup of fancy chai hot tea or cocoa-the result is unsurpassed when it’s cold outside.

It’s been a long and complicated year filled with many, many wonderful things.  This is going to be my first Christmas as a parent and Kale’s very first Christmas.  Being pregnant isn’t the same as being a mother.  Just in time, Kale now says ma-ma (not just when he’s distressed or wants something).  Hearing him speak and watching him grow and explore fills my heart.  I feel like the Grinch who realizes only too late that his chest is too small to hold the wonder and delight in life.

I don’t have much to say about the holidays except that I’m happy, grateful, blessed and glad. I do miss my grandmother, but I know part of her lives in me and in Kale.  Every time I see a box of chocolates I think of getting her one as she often did for me and I miss her more.  I sometimes will think of her and without control will begin to cry softly.  Sometimes it turns to sobbing, but I’m always mindful that she did love me and she had a good life. 

Happy Holidays, I hope you have much to appreciate and enjoy in your life.

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I didn’t think this would happen, no I didn’t.

Today Kale is 8 months old.  It’s fabulous.  The guy is rocking and rolling.  Just this last weekend he started actively crawling.  Before, he was crawling, but not like he is now.  He’s also discovered (OK, so it’s a bit more complicated than that) how to pull himself up.  I now realize, I had way more time than I thought I did before.  Before I could sit him down and know he’d stay in the general range.  Now, I put him down and bam-he’s crawling on something, knocking something over, pulling things that should not be pulled (cords, comforters, etc) and generally continuing his journey as a small and astoundingly curious person.

Yesterday Michael and I watched him push his baby lotion bottle around on the floor and make car sounds as he pushed it.  No kidding, he’s 8 months old and he totally gets pretend play.  It was momentous in a very surreal way.  I used to think people were crazy when they ran around saying things like, “they grow so fast” and “they won’t stay that small forever.”  It’s true, but I still expect my husband to throw rocks at me if I start spouting those and similar euphemisms.

Other new developments include him sleeping through the night.  I know, awesome right?  The irony is that I’m now more tired than before and I struggle to get up at 5 or 6am for his first feeding.  I’ve lost a lot of momentum & if someone asked if I could choose between winning the lottery or a week on an island with a nanny, chef and 5 books, I’d take the island.

This feeling of fatigue and malaise may also be related to recent events.  A week ago today we buried my grandmother.  I can’t write about how strange, eerie and painful it’s been to think about never physically seeing her again.  I feel like a budding bi-polar borderline. 

Regardless, what I wanted to write about today is how strange it is for me to have a new last name.  We’ve been married just over two months and I finally got around to both the social security and mvd offices.  Side note: both places have consumed large pockets of precious time and both places employ very delusional people who seriously overestimate the actual nature of their jobs.  Seriously, I think you have to be both anti-social and learning disabled to work for those places. I wonder what the employment application looks like?

Back to the point: I miss my last name.  There, I said it.  I didn’t realize I’d miss my last name.  I thought-heck, I want to change my name, I’ve always wanted to change it, and well-I wanted the same last name as my son.  And, as nice of a name as it is-it just doesn’t feel like mine.  I hasn’t done any traveling.  It wasn’t there when Trina wrapped my braids around the screws on the back of my metal chair in kindergarten.  This name hasn’t run over the mesas of New Mexico.  This name hasn’t laughed until my stomach ached.  It wasn’t there when I hobbled on crutches in graduate school because I wiped out while mountain biking & the bastard leg got infected.  My new last name feels like a hitchhiker.  It feels like an alien.

Fortunately for me, I happen to like aliens. (Thanks mom.)  It’s just going to take a while to get used to.  Today I’m changing my documents at work.  I’d already contacted the bank and changed my professional license.  This is the last event and the last place I have/use my maiden name.  Goodbye Saunders, thank you for the stability.  Hello BC, let’s see what you’ve got in store for me. 

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