Category: Uncategorized

How Do We Respond To All The Violence?

Some of my students and I were meeting today for our regular learning circle. It turned out not to be the circle I’d expected. I’d gone in with a list of questions and updates to make sure that everyone’s community projects were on task and ready to be done in just a few weeks.

Instead, we got into other conversations. One of the topics of conversation was the recent mass shootings. We discussed how violence has become the norm, the students spoke to how their response to the growing number of shootings in our country is to do their best to ignore it. They expressed how this is the only way that they feel they have to handle the immense fear, grief, and anger. They spoke of becoming hardened to feeling.

I suggested to them that this hardening seems to me much like that of depression or burnout and that maybe our society is burned out and that’s not okay. They agreed that this may be the case. Not surprisingly, they had no clear answers on what to do. But, I think the conversation was good and healthy and maybe part of what needs to be done. They talked with each other. We came together as community and acknowledged our fear face to face. That coming together and just talking is part of the healing I am sure of that. Community is essential. That’s not social media discussion or meetings to act or anything else other than just coming together as people and just letting the conversation flow.

I had another interesting conversation later in the day. A friend offered to me that part of the problem we may be facing today is inter-generational trauma. My friend spoke specifically to the trauma carried by white people from generation to generation from our role that we’ve played in so much destruction and enslavement of many kinds. Something there made sense to me, not just for the dominant group, but for all of us.

What is it that we do with our history? I’d always heard of the concept of multi-generational trauma associated with Native cultures. There is much to suggest that it is very much a reality. What if it is true of all of us? What if we carry the experiences and energies of past generations? What if we are deepening and speeding up the process with the intensity of the growth of violence in our lives?

Many Native peoples have found their way in life through a revitalization of cultural history, by learning their languages, practicing their spirituality, returning to traditional foods, and simply listening to their stories.

While I believe firmly in pressuring the government to take appropriate actions to address the growing violence and I think it’s important to partake in non-violent protest to make our voices heard, I think there is something more, something for the long term.

I think there is a knowledge in the work being done in Native communities to address inter-generational trauma that is part of addressing the growing issue of violence in our communities. We need to ask ourselves each day, “How can I treat myself and all my relations with respect and caring?”

This begins, I believe, with taking pause, breathing deep, and treating ourselves gently, feeding ourselves in healthy ways physically, emotionally, and spiritually. This gives us the energy to reach out.

We reach out to feed our relations whether those be fellow people or the earth and its other inhabitants. We take time to breathe together and get to know each other, to heal each other’s wounds.

That’s where we begin and that’s where we ultimately find the long term answers, in caring for ourselves and each other, in building our spiritual and emotional connections, in becoming a community.

It seems so simplistic and yet so challenging and so lost over so many generations. Yet, it is what we need. So, today, care for yourself, treat yourself with respect, and reach out with the same caring and respect for all those around.

Day 36

Wow, that sugar really did hit hard. I normally sleep about 8 hours and wake up a few minutes before my alarm clock goes off. Last night I was really tired so I went to bed early and then slept through my alarm this morning. That was after napping yesterday and on Saturday too. Last night I slept about 9 1/2 hours. Thankfully, I woke feeling refreshed.

Today, I am getting back on track. I started the day with a nice fruit smoothie with peach, mango, banana, and kiwi, along with fresh salad greens. Lunch was a roasted chicken thigh with green beans, carrots, and hummus. Dinner was a saute of squash with a bit of banana pepper and onion and salsa with tortilla chips and a little cheese. Dessert was my typical go to, a bit of mixed berries and mango with plain yogurt.

That means that I am back up to seven cups of fruits and vegetables and having deliciously colorful, healthy, and easy quick to prepare meals. This is doable. I am starting to regain my energy and trusting that I will be back to my normal sleep schedule soon.

35 Days of the Fruit and Vegetables Challenge

My recent trip has reminded me that sugar is the big challenge. While traveling I let myself splurge a lot. It wasn’t downing boxes of cookies or gallons of ice cream or anything out of control like that. But, it was eating sugar filled pieces of cake and ultra rich desserts with most of my meals.

Now, I am stuck with the results. Not only did I add a few pounds, but I’m going through the steps of withdrawal again and recognizing how easy it would be to slide back into a sugar filled, processed food reality and destroy all that I’ve worked for.

Sugar withdrawal means being tired, feeling hot flashes, being worn, and getting grumpy and frustrated, needing to just hide away for a bit to recover. It means craving, wanting ice cream or chocolate or whatever sweet option there is. I’m trying to come down with frozen fruits with yogurt and such, but it is what it is and I’ll need to struggle through for a bit again. Maybe someday I will learn, not eat the sugary stuff, and not put myself through this again.

Burnout Politics

I’ve been an activist and organizer for a long time. I used to say my whole adult life, but I suspect it actually started before that. The first formal action I took part in was in high school. Funding was being cut in our industrial arts and music programs. Almost the whole school walked out. A few kids whose religious beliefs didn’t allow such protest were the only ones left inside.

I’ve had the good fortune to fight the good fight in many ways and many places and to count some good wins along the way. I’ve had some good mentors and made some good friends.

I used to be really involved in political organizing. I was one of the leaders of our local Green Party. I co-chaired the state party. I helped start the national diversity committee. I worked on political campaigns. I facilitated meetings. I did it all and I loved it and believed in it.

But then, I got burned out. I was deep in depression and lost on what to do. I had to walk away.

After years of working on the front lines taking on major corporations, working on campaigns from school board to president it wasn’t the work that beat me down. It wasn’t the losses or some sort of evil conservative whatever. It was my own community, those who see themselves as liberal, or progressive, or even radical who wore me down and forced me to back away. They forced some great and strong people away and the movements struggled.

I share this now because I see the same things happening today. I hear the rantings about Republicans, the self-righteous talk of the evils of conservatism and I know some of the best folks I’ve ever learned from and walked beside would call themselves conservative or Republican. I know these folks as people who’ve worked hard caring for families, serving their communities, seeking the same love that my liberal/progressive/radical friends do, battling the same pains.

I write this in honor of all my friends and mentors who understand. The work we do isn’t about Republican or Democrat or Green or any other political identification. The work we do is about that child seven generations from now who deserves clean water, a safe place to live, healthy food to eat, a community to rely on.

To everyone else I say, drop the labels and reach out in love and healing. It doesn’t mean to deny the horrific actions. It means to recognize the pain and fear behind them. Be part of the healing, not one to tear at the wounds with self-righteousness causing infection. Your insistence that all Republicans or conservatives are evil does nothing other than wear out a lot of hard working, caring people and encourage the building of walls.

34 Days and Counting

I’m not quite sure about what to say today other than yesterday and today were a bit weak.

Yesterday, I was still on the road with my work field trip. We started with fruit smoothies, a good start for the day. I had a bison wrap for lunch, unusual and tasty. It had veggies, but not a whole lot. Dinner was bison burgers with potato salad and fruit. I opted to believe that the potato salad was made with red and not white potatoes and went ahead for it. I think all total I probably had 4 or cups of fruits and veggies. I had dessert with dinner that was way too much sugar, but a good splurge.

Today started with fruit and yogurt. Lunch was pizza and salad. Dinner was a vegetarian plate at the local Mexican restaurant. All good and probably worth about four cups of veggies again.

Tomorrow, I get back on track. I think I’m going to head to the garden in the morning and see what is all ready. Then it will be time to make some food for the week. It will be good and I’ll be awake again. These past few days and too much sugar has made me sleepy.

Starting Month Two

I don’t think I quite got my full six cups of fruits and veggies in today, but I wasn’t horribly deficient. It was a rough start with a breakfast of bacon and eggs with the only thing available that had any plant product in it being blueberry muffins which I avoided because I was fairly certain there would be more sugary options in the day and being that I don’t normally eat cane sugar I didn’t want to overwhelm my system.

I did, a bit later in the day, decide to splurge on the snacks being passed around the bus. I took a banana to get some fruit in my system, but also took one of those chewy granola bars with the chocolate chips. I figured, heck I’m on a field trip, why not? Well, the answer to why not is that those things are sweeter than all heck and not really worth it.

Lunch was catered by the Sioux Chef, so quite tasty and with a nice mix of wild turkey, wild rice, and some veggies, along with chips and bean dip, and cookies, I think made with sunflower seeds and maple syrup for dessert.

Dinner tonight was catered at the hotel with a really nice chicken dish and basic vegetable sides, beans, carrots, and potatoes. I opted to not push my allergies with the potatoes, but I did take the risk with the dessert, a chocolate mousse. I can feel my stomach and head just slightly rebelling, but I ‘ll be back on track soon. Apparently tomorrow we start with breakfast at the health food store and we all get smoothies. Hopefully, that will help.

I did well with my water intake today though.

1 Month In

Excellent! I have succeeded in making it through the first month of the challenge. I only missed a few days of writing. I’ve met my goal of 6-9 cups of vegetables and fruits most days and I’ve successfully added in increasing my water intake. I’ve not done so hot with the addition of not eating out, but I’m okay with that. It may come as I can continue to improve my overall diet and health.

Yesterday, I was questioning how successful I would be with my goals while on this work trip visiting and learning about Dakota communities in Minnesota. Day one has been filled with fabulous diet choices. I started the day at home with a bit extra in my breakfast smoothie– greens, carrots, apple, rhubarb, and papaya for a total of about four cups of fruits and veggies. I wanted to pack it in at breakfast in case there weren’t many other options later in the day.

I was happily surprised with a homemade lunch that included a traditional Dakota corn soup. I think it is called Wohnapi. We also had a wild rice dish with vegetables and a cucumber salad. Then for dinner was a Mexican buffet, so plenty of beans and other vegetables there. Afterwards we had another event with snacks including raw fruits and vegetables. I didn’t measure things, but I think I may have hit nine cups again today! I wonder what tomorrow might bring?

30 Days Already

Wow! I think I may have had over 9 cups of fruits and vegetables today! Much of it was thanks to good smoothie this morning. It was made with salad greens, rhubarb, apples, banana, papaya, and kiwi. It accounted for 4 cups of my goal.

Lunch was a chicken thigh with fresh green beans and carrots with a bit of hummus. For dinner I had the remainder of my leftover walleye and vegetable stir-fry. I was still hungry so I had a chicken thigh too. Dessert was berries with banana and plain yogurt.

All were quite tasty. I was in need of chocolate today too, so two organic mint chocolate patties with honey filling. It doesn’t get much better than that!

Tomorrow begins a different aspect of the challenge. I’ll be traveling for work with a group for the next few days. Eating group meals is challenging. It seems our society doesn’t value fruits and vegetables too much. There is often iceberg lettuce with minimal nutritional value, overcooked something or other which just isn’t appealing, and white potatoes which I’m allergic to. But, it’s just a few days and I’ll be able to find something. It may not be nine cups of organic goodness, but it will be something and it will be good.

29 Days In

I did well today. I think I was actually over 7 cups of fruits and vegetables today, though I admit I didn’t measure the peas and other snacks as I picked them from the garden this afternoon.

The big plus today was having leftovers from yesterday to have for lunch, some walleye and mixed vegetables that I’d stir-fried yesterday. It was just one of those things that I could throw together without a recipe and with a whole lot of hope. I like to do that, to say to myself “hmm.. this looks good. This looks good too. I wonder what they’d be like together?” and just throw things together and see what happens. It’s almost always a good thing.

Though it does bring back a memory of being a camp counselor back in the 90’s. Some of my campers and I were in a cabin and the campers decided to make me a cake. They were young teenagers, so I wasn’t too afraid of them taking over the kitchen. They had a couple girls keep watch over me while the rest made my surprise dessert. I think we tried to eat it, but ultimately showed it to the camp director, offered that it could be used as a doorstop, then threw it out. It was a great deal of fun. However, they’d somehow managed to make a cake that must have weighed over 5 lbs! But, generally throwing things together results in much tastier surprises.

Tonight I roasted some chicken with some freshly picked squash and a onion. It was also delicious. And, there’s enough left for another two or three meals if I add another vegetable side. So, I don’t need to cook at all tomorrow. After that I have some work travel and will be fed. So, no more cooking until the weekend. If I can find fruits and vegetables on my work trip, I will do great. There’s my challenge for the week. But, for now I will simply celebrate the day and be thankful that there’s plenty of good healthy food ready for tomorrow.

27 Days

Well, I spent a good chunk of my day at an art show and followed that with another county fair. Neither of these places offered a lot of healthy options for eating. The thing I noticed though was that my diet changes in the last few years and the challenge got me to look for the healthy options and not just go mindlessly to the deep fried cheese curds and kettle corn.

At the art show I found a pretty tasty bacon-chicken ranch wrap with lettuce and tomato. So, I wasn’t completely vegetable deficient there. At the fair I opted to just keep walking. There just weren’t appealing options that had much nutritional value. I wound up getting pizza later.

So, I didn’t quite hit my six cups today. I think I was between 3 and 4. I did, however, get quite a bit of outdoor time and plenty of water. So, some things were good and healthy, some not so much. Still, I feel good. Right now I feel sleepy too. So good night to all!