June 23, 2013
Today’s class was an early Sunday morning hot yoga class at Moksha here in Victoria, BC. I arrived early and had about 15 minutes on my mat before class started. It was a fantastic opportunity to totally let myself unwind and when class started I felt like I had just woken up again. It was an intense workout and my trembling legs and arms regularly reminded me of how long I’ve been away from my mat, the long bike ride I had with my son yesterday. I was also reminded of how much I love the feeling of sweat dripping off my nose and how beautiful my skin looks in the glow of enhanced blood flow and prespiration.
Near the end of class, we were asked to pause and take a moment to notice what we might be seeing or what we want to see through new eyes. I realized that it had been a long time since I paused and looked around at how truly blessed my life was…and that it was time to look at my life with new eyes.
In the busyness of raising twins, running my own business and preparing for the launch of my new book, my life is full and I have not been pausing and reflecting as often as I would like to be. Part of the reasoning for this commitment and blog. What I have come to know is that when I do not pause, reflect and offer gratitude, I get grumpy, less flexible and less open to receiving opportunities.
Today I decided to see my life through new eyes. To take time and reflect on how extraordinarily blessed I am. Blessed to be healthy, in a loving relationship, mother to healthy and beautiful twins, blessed that both my parents and my sister are alive and healthy, blessed… oh how I could go on and on. Choosing to focus on gratitude and speaking kind words of gratitude help define me. Tonight as I lay in bed, I will close my eyes and say a prayer of thanks for oh so much!
I left class remembering that I have a responsibility to those who have gone before me and those who are yet to come, but I can choose how I honour that responsibility. I see this responsibility today through new eyes.
I encourage you to consider what or who you might want to see through new eyes.
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This entry is a portion of the Chapter called Our Children Remember from the new book Hope, Faith & Empathy available at http://www.littledrum.com Hope you enjoy it!
One day, about five years ago, when my twins were not quite three, I took advantage of one of their rare afternoon naps to get some housework done. I was washing the dishes when I faintly heard the Women’s Warrior song. In my sleep-deprived state, I thought it was me singing; after all, no one else in our house knew the song that was softly filling the rooms. However, I soon realized that it wasn’t me singing. It was the voice of a child. I turned off the tap and dried my hands, then followed the melodic voice down the hall towards my twins’ room. As I got closer, I realized it was my daughter singing. She was lying on her back, nestled under her comforter with her hands in the air. I stood in the doorway—watching and listening. She used the back of her right hand like a drumstick, gently beating the palm of her left hand in perfect beat, like that of a heart. Her little voice had turned the “y” sound of the song into a “w” sound, “Wah, wah, wahoo, wah, wah wahoo….”
How did she know this song?
A chill ran through my body as I watched her, my eyes wide taking in the preciousness of what was unfolding in front of me.
Although I had sung it almost daily while I was pregnant with them and many, many times over the last two and a half years since they had been born, I had never intentionally taught her this song.
Quietly, I leaned against the doorframe and closed my eyes, her voice and the drum beat of her little hands easing me into a peaceful state, erasing the stressors of my day. My daughter and I were connecting beyond our physical selves, beyond the two of us. It felt like the air danced around and within us, removing negativity and hurts and filling it with strength and courage. I felt the power and healing of this song so profoundly.
I was reminded of that beautiful summer with Mabel and the workshops we facilitated, how she so taught me so much that summer: ceremonies, this song and others…and so much more. Mabel’s words came back to me. “This song is a women’s warrior song, a song of great strength, beauty and power. As women, we have incredible power because we are the givers of life. Being a warrior doesn’t mean we have to fight or force our opinion, beliefs or ideas in an aggressive way. This song talks about our strength and importance of speaking our truth, living an honest and respectful life and honouring the beauty within each and every one of us.”
I am not sure how long I stood in my daughter’s doorway, each breath full of the preciousness of this moment in time. Mabel also taught me that our children remember: they remember the traumas and painful experiences of their Ancestors, but they also remember their ceremonies, languages, customs, and stories. She was right.
This song I was listening to my daughter sing had been sung for generations upon generations, and now I knew it would continue to be sung by future generations, thanks in part to my daughter.
Yesterday we started our Pre Launch sale of my new book, Hope, Faith & Empathy. Sales have been extraordinary so far:)
Hope, Faith & Empathy is the story of Tilly, a young Aboriginal woman growing up in Canada, and the individuals who helped shape her life, her survival and her irrepressible spirit. Together, they tell a unique perspective of the history of the First Peoples of Canada; a history rooted in strength, resiliency and hope. Woven throughout the book are stories, humour, wisdom and thought provoking teachings. Hope, Faith and Empathy is relevant, insightful and inspiring to both Aboriginal and Non Aboriginal readers; including readers outside of Canada.
To purchase the book, visit http://www.littledrum.com and your copy or copies will be mailed in July 2012. Pre Launch sale price is $15/book going up to $20 as of April 1, 2012
Here is an excerpt of the chapter Insights into Mom
Insights into Mom
Skipping along the sidewalk, my pigtails bouncing rhythmically on the sides of my head, I hung onto my Mom’s pinky. We had left my tag-along sister at home, and I was thrilled to have Mom all to myself. For that hour or so, she was all mine. I knew that if I behaved while we did our shopping, a stop at Monty’s ice cream shop would be in the cards for me. Monty had the best homemade ice cream in town, and every time, he double-dipped my chocolate cone for me. “Just to match your eyes there, little beauty,” he would say as he handed me my scrumptious cone.
I wasn’t really paying attention to where we were going. I was more interested in watching my pigtails take turns flying in front of my eyes as I skipped along. All of a sudden, Mom’s pinky slipped out of my hand, there was a hard crack to my face and I felt myself falling. I landed so hard on the sidewalk that the wind was knocked out of me. Worn-out cowboy boots were what I saw as I tried to catch my breath. When I looked up, the sun stung my eyes and all I could make out was the hugest belly I had ever seen. “Jesus Christ kid, you ran right into me.” In one swift move, he yanked me up by my elbow and pushed me towards my Mom. “Goddamn Squaw. Get control of your kid or go back to the reservation. Back where you belong. And stay there!” He spat these words at my Mom, pushed past her and continued on his way. I didn’t really know what had just happened. I felt like I was going to throw up. I reached for my Mom’s pinky, but now it was as cold as an icicle and it shook so fast that I had a hard time hanging onto it. I was afraid to look at her. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw her quickly wiping away tears. She didn’t seem to be quite as tall as she was before. I waited until her pinky felt warm again. “Mom, what does Squaw mean? And why did he tell you to go back to the reservation. What’s the reservation?” I paused briefly, “Momma, why was he so mean?” She kept on walking, but looked away from me. Her chin trembled and another tear slid down her face. I let go of her pinky and held onto her whole hand. I needed to feel more of her. “I’m sorry I made you cry, Momma.”
Monique Gray Smith is a mixed heritage woman of Cree, Lakota, and Scottish descent. She comes from the Cardinal Family at Peepeekisis First Nation and is the proud Mom of eight year old twins. Monique has been sober and involved in her healing journey for over 20 years. Her formal training is as a Psychiatric Nurse and her work experience has been in the areas of Aboriginal Education, Stress and Trauma Recovery, Staff Development and Wellness, Strategic Planning and Addictions. Monique’s strong understanding of the Early Years has lead her to work as the previous Executive Director for Aboriginal Head Start Association of BC and National Aboriginal Advisor for Roots of Empathy and Seeds of Empathy; as well as an instructor for the Justice Institute of BC. She has had the privilege of doing contract work, facilitating workshops and keynote addresses across BC, Nationally and Internationally, with a focus on fostering an understanding of the strength and resiliency of First Peoples in Canada. Under the umbrella of her own business, Little Drum Consulting established in 1996, Monique is also an accomplished writer with a diverse body of work that continues to influence the Aboriginal Early Years field. Monique is currently working on her first novel that tells the history of Aboriginal people in Canada through a lens of strength, resiliency and hope.
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