In the middle of 2016, I was doing what I was supposed to. I had graduated from College, I had volunteered for two years of national service; I had gotten a real job where I worked hard, did well, and moved up. I made money, spent it and travelled to exotic places.
Even so, over time, in the middle of the nights I awoke hardly able to breathe. The gnawing question was always immediately present – What am I doing? That’s it. That was the plaguing conundrum which jerked me awake in darkness, night after night.
Then, during work one day, I was gifted an experience with a prospective client that rocked my days as well. It was clear pretty quickly that this gentleman was outside of the parameters of my target and yet, I remained with him for an unjustifiable amount of time (in the world of business and productivity). Our conversation, however, was of higher vibrations than daily this-and-that and metrics and cost/benefit analysis’; we were speaking to the things of this life and our purpose. Somehow he knew at the heart of me, there existed a forgotten past – the origin of my people, Oglala Lakota, the details of which I knew not too much at all.
My Nana took her family from the reservation long before I was around to learn that it is no place for a free person. She sacrificed our culture to save our dignity – so that I could even fill the shoes of the person who wrote the first paragraph of this post. There are grandmothers who shared in the same impossible choice and took their families down the other road. I’ve found now, years after the moments I spent with this guy, that the descendants of either choice have been left in a state of lostness, without the peace or power of remembering Who I Am.
It has been a real journey since that day when that man struck me to my core with a new, more catalytic question than the one waking me up each night: What are You doing for your people? It brought tears to my eyes. For I was in sunny, southern California. The house across the street from where I was standing was poised upon the cliff, above the shoreline, overlooking the ocean. I did know enough by this point that the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation of my people, like most reservations across Indian Country, was still no place for a free person. Statistically, it beats most places that service-minded folks in this country choose to travel to on Volunteer Vacations, to ‘developing countries’.
By great blessing, less than a week later, news erupted for a short blip giving truth to the reality of private security guards of an oil corporation allowing attack dogs to maul peaceful elders and children on the treaty land of the Standing Rock Tribe.
I’ve made a personal study of change and the conditions which cause it in recent years. These describe the truth of my own: a rock-bottom of sleepless nights and absolute cringing commutes to work in apprehension of arriving (my spirit singing to take the driver’s seat!), a single, sincere conversation with a stranger (compassion) and an invitation (to serve)! My people were finally taking a stand and they were inviting us to stand with them!
And from that, a whole new life…
- Quit my job
- Bought the Snowbeast! A 2005 Nissan Murano with 180k miles on it for $2k – solely for the purpose of getting to Standing Rock and serving.
- Attended a community event in which a local Tribal leader was speaking about his journey’s to and from Standing Rock delivering supplies. He shared the date of his next trip and invited anyone who wished to go to Standing Rock to caravan out with him.
- Built the Site
- Gathered as much support as possible
- Rolled Out!
- Fam came to Standing Rock!
- Broke camp as requested by the tribe for safety during the winter, left no trace and rode home with an off-the-grid skeptic/investigative journalist, finding out even more things about this world I had never known nor wished to.
January – February
- Effectively dismantled in mind and spirit, disillusioned, filled with anger but also in awe of the beauty and peace of my people and that place, I tried to collect the chaos within by writing it all down and organizing the special moments captured in photo and worth a thousand words, into a book.
- Learned to make my own power message t shirts, decided the process requires too many of mother earth’s resources to pursue further; natural dyes would probably help but still
- Went to the ocean for peace
- Decided to locate things people were giving away and flip them around to people who would buy them on Next Door and OfferUp; while this did generate some good funds the resources required of mother earth to get it done is a no win.
- My motorcycle, Julez, died
- I reached into skills of days passed and repainted my nephews room
- I watched the Women’s March on TV instead of going
- I attempted to get involved with a local group that was getting people organized around political action but found that my personal expectation to go forward with meetings in a holistic way, as in the way of the Lakota, at Standing Rock, has no application in business-as-usual yet – too much for me at the time
- Gave Fire Cider a go, using a recipe from the Hobbit at Standing Rock
- Discovered a best friend was going to be working in Austin for a month
- Simultaneously a self-defense instructor certification was going to be taught there in the same month with a following certification training available about two weeks later in Utah (the idea of Self Defense as a path forward was a fleeting inspiration by the Creator in that exact moment I learned of my friend in Austin)
- Queue my return to reading but in a new way, as momz gifts me Living Your Strengths, in which my own healing attempts to go deeper and my mind glimpses the possibility of theTrue aligned potential within
- On the Road to Austin
- Still haven’t cut my hair, guess we’re growing out
- First WWOOF! Thank goodness for Mary and Lucy in the world! Thank goodness for WWOOF
- UT Austin RAD training and SXSW
- Back on the Road to Utah – but through the natural places: Big Bend, Candelaria (where my phone dies), outside Roswell where I bendered somebody’s fender, Albaqurque, Bear Ears where I got stuck at the top in muddy snow forced to finally reckon with my lifelong competition with my own instinct, Hite where I ate dinner by a campfire acknowledging my ignorance and letting it All go, finally slept peacefully, under the stars, waking up a changed person – and on to Provo, but not before the Snowbeast stopped at a gas station and turned over for about 20 minutes before deciding to start again.
- RAD Training #2 and instructor certification,check; miracle at Utah Lake before rolling out of town and back into the nature.
- Let many layers go, across many miles, hiking and camping through Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, Grand Staircase-Escalante and Zion.
- Made it home to the fam
- Retreat to the Mudcaves
- Flew to Florida at my Sister’s request to help her with her Grandfather’s Estate Sale
- Road trip with pops in a Moving truck from Florida to San Diego, a path of many moments to savor and learn from: things like life and death, alcoholism, true friendship, grace, beauty, exhaustion, humility.
- Splinter Jones startup
- Wet and Wild Summer, back in Austin!
April to September
- I come to know how to cook in a tiny house
- Off grid living: chickens, dogs, coyotes, electricity, rain water
- 70 names a week and watering holes far and wide
- Hauling giant mats, tubes and trailers, steering pontoons, floating with the Big Kidz
- Baby turtles at the coast , the ayers rock of N. America
- Nani’s surprise 85th birthday in Denver!
- House sitting the homestead, Harvey, coyote massacre and the manual of fun
- Stop ETP march in Dallas
- St. Louis roadie with Momma!
- The magic of Kauai
- Nextdoor brings the cats and dogs!
- The great Cookie Monster Challenge
- The Miracle of Jane and Aggie!
- This time we make it to the Women’s March
- Speak at AIM Gathering
- Begin building Tour of Hope, Develop Shoestring Love and Nations Rising Tea Program to fund tour and mission
- Nani’s Journey begins
- Hit the road for the Longest Walk, Washington state to Washington DC
- Emergency trip back to CO to be with Nani
- So begins a time of learning and preparation: First up> Zero shoes, Fasting, Postmates, Dr. Santos
- Nani moves on, Cricket joins the pack
- Momma’s time of mourning, not the time to go across the country
- Building mom’s healing pond, all natural with a solar powered waterfall
- Janes first Surgery
- Dumpster diving
- Jilly arrives from Brazil
- No Regatta protest miracle
- Plans Change, partnerships shot
September – December
- We meet master Heidi and begin huge focus on training to teach self-defense from a different lens than RAD
- Desert fast and Sunshine boy
February – May
- Training and teaching with Heidi
- Walk for the Bees
- Book is Finally Ready! On to the next!
- Fundraising for Barb and Chief
- Jane Surgery 2
- Built Nations Rising with Chief
- Olio, Booch and Congee
- Sampson Stay
- New locs
- Magic of Kauai
January – February
- Starhawk teaches the way of Permaculture Design at Earth Activist Training
- Kamila reminds me the world of online and social innovation
Through time, much evolution, it all amounts to Health, Happiness and Freedom… My life is my message.