The Native American Red Road: how I got on it
If you follow my Facebook page, you might have learned a few things about me over the past few weeks. For example, I attend ceremonies, such as healing circles and Pow wows and include Native practices in my day to day life. I am open about my practices and absolutely love looking at older portraits of our ancestors. I integrate my beliefs in my posts on this site and in every day that I live.
That’s just a summary of who I am. I believe in trusting those we share moments with, and who provides us with information and recommends us products. So…this post is about me 🙂 It is about my journey, and what brought me to today. You can also read a short summary of my life on my About me page.
Psychology and spirituality
First off, my name is Emily. However, I was once given, a Native name that I believe was suiting at the time. I was given the name Fruit Fly by a person dear to me. At first, I thought what you are probably all thinking right now “what the hell?”. Well, I looked it up, as my knowledge of fruit flies was pretty much limited to thinking they were annoying insects that reproduce like crazy. Turns out that, according to a British study, the mother fruit fly is especially soothing and calming to her babies. The mother fruit fly is often then seen as caring and soothing difficult babies. Of course, a fruit fly is also annoying at times but is a rather complex organism. The article I originally found over 2 years ago now, I cannot find anymore. Actually, it was a pretty weird experience as I was only able to find that article the day I looked up the meaning of a fruit fly….I obviously asked the person who gave me that name and that person told that the name just came to them when thinking of me. I guess I could have been offended by that but I chose to be honored.
Sometimes life throws you a curve ball…
So yes, I guess I am a bit weird…. However, that encounter, that name, put me on a path that started out as hell and turned into a beautiful life lesson and road. You see, before that moment, now close to 2 1/2 years ago, I thought I had my life all figured out. I knew exactly what I was going to do for the rest of my life and every step I needed to take to get there. Up until then, I was sure of everything. My background is in psychology you see. I have worked with every population there is, from young kids to older adults, to families and men and women in prison. I have worked in school districts, private practice, and jails. And I wanted to spend my life studying those individuals incarcerated to see why they were so different, what their thinking was like. I wanted to study their mind. Problem is that I have always been a caring person but somehow thought that I would not care about those individuals, that they were bad while the outside world was good.
And then I actually sat down with them and listened to their story. And saw that the world is not all black and white. I have said it many times but we all have our story. We all have the grey wolf and the white wolf inside of us. They did and so did I. And so do you. Sometimes, life circumstances, bad decisions make us feed the grey wolf. That’s what I used to say to my clients “your actions brought you to prison, not who you are”. Sometimes, the life we were born into is shitty. Sorry, but I have also learned to be direct working in jails…However, our past might influence who we are today but it does not determine who we become. We have that ability within ourselves to heal, to heal that wounded child that can be in there. Because we become adults, adults who can live a full healthy life.
But I somewhat digress…
I guess what I am trying to say is that working within that environment introduced me to a whole new world that society likes to shield us from. It opened up my eyes and helped me let go of my prejudices. Does everyone succeed at having a healthy and productive life once out of jail? No. Is help provided in jails to address the long history of trauma, including intergenerational and historical trauma that most inmates have? No. You tell me if that’s logical. I know not every one of you might agree with what I am saying. But working within that environment also introduced me to the concept of intergenerational trauma (a post is coming on the topic) encountered by most inmates but especially Native American or Aboriginal inmates. And it also introduced me to the traditional ways of healing that trauma. It introduced me to the beliefs, the traditions, the practices. I worked with Elders, helping them, learning their teachings, learning the story of the Native people.
When I first learned about the stealing of the land, the introduction of alcohol on reserves, of residential schools, I cried. Why? Because I felt it. I felt the pain that was caused. And as weird as it might seem, I felt at home with that pain and every practice that I was introduced to. It was familiar to me. As though I had lived that way in a different life. And I have come to believe that maybe I have. So every chance I got, I spent learning about the cultures, the traditions, I asked questions, I learned, and worked with Elders. And slowly but surely, I integrated those practices in my personal life. I began practicing what I was preaching to clients. When I hear Native music, it touches my soul. I get chills and I often tear up. Because I feel it in my core. When I see dancing, I smile. It makes me happy. It touches my soul and I think that is how we truly connect, through our souls. I have had so many “weird experiences” that I could not explain, that I have come to accept that sometimes, the explanation is spiritual.
The Red Road
I embraced the Native way of life. I committed to it, even if at times, it was a way of life that was hard to understand for those around me. It was not a matter of fact way of life, it was not a scientific based way of life, it was a spiritual way of life. And when I commit to something, I commit to it! Hence the foot tattoo 🙂 It took me a while to see it, to see the change in me. Until recently, I was told “Emily you look happy, you look calm”, even if I had every stressor known to man in my life at the time. And I saw that yes I was happy. I was free. Why? Because I was not alone. I had relations all around me, ancestors with me and the Creator. I smudge daily more than once because not only the smell of sage is comforting to me, it is a moment to be thankful and reflect.
My smudge kit
I committed to a healing circle, I attend Pow wows, and I respect others. I help others without expecting something in return. When I get angry or irritated by something in my day to day life, I take a breath and ask myself if it is really important. Is it easy? No! Tonight, for example, a lot of things were irritating me. But I know that it is because I did not sleep enough last night and it is not the other’s fault. So as before I would have gotten worked up about it, now I let it go. I pray for those around me, I pay attention to my dreams and their messages, I respect nature and everything in this world. Because we are all connected. I also changed course career wise, beginning courses in Native psychotherapy and complex trauma. And I know that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. It used to annoy me soooo much when people would tell me that “everything is as it is supposed to be”). But I know it’s true.
Our ancestors were here before us. They showed us the way to live and heal. The Elder leading my healing circle once said “this is how our ancestors did it. They sat in a circle and they talked about things. That’s how they solved things and healed”. And I could not agree more. There is honesty, truth, and a realness to the native way of life. The land gives us what we need. We all return to it when we cross over to the spirit world. So I am thankful for that land, for Father Sky and Grand Father Sun and Grand mother Moon. None of this is scientific. And I am perfectly okay with it.
All my Relations