Perseverance – The Native American Way

Bailey here again –

I can’t stop reading Keep Going by Joseph Marshall III. I wish I could get all my friends to read it. We all run around thinking that nothing bad is ever supposed to happen to us. And then when something does, we’re flabbergasted and wonder what happened.

But Old Hawk says we must expect difficulties, because they will come. That is part of life.

“No one embraces disappointment, sadness or grief, but neither should we deny ourselves the necessity of experiencing the entire array of human emotions. When our spirit tells us it is time to weep, we should weep.”

Now I’m a pretty tough girl, and I admit I don’t like to cry. Especially in front of people – won’t happen. But in the secrecy of my bedroom, there have been times when I’ve let the tears fall. As ashamed as I always am, somehow when all the tears are gone, I’m better able to handle whatever the situation is. I guess that’s what Old Hawk means. If we let our bodies and spirits do what they need to, we can actually heal faster and cope better.

Old Hawk says there is truth to the axiom ‘whatever doesn’t kill you can make you stronger.’ But he says the most important word is ‘can.’ We are in charge of how we deal with the tough things. It’s our decision to take one more step, to try one more time, to wake up one more morning. That’s how we become strong.

HOW COME NOBODY EVER TOLD US THIS STUFF BEFORE? We’d certainly be more prepared if someone had.

Old Hawk says that how we handle the hard times is how we become who we are. We choose whether we’re going to give up and fail, or if we’re going to build integrity and become a person of worth.

In the old days, the Lakota chose their leaders from men of experience. And not necessarily those who were great warriors, displayed bravery, and had many successes on the battle field. They chose men who withstood the storms of life and grew strong from them. Because strength built from adversity does not crumble under further adversity.

I want to be – no, I’m GOING to be – a strong, vibrant person who can handle the storms of life. What about you?

http://www.thunderdreamers.com/

Native American Wisdom – How to Keep Going

Bailey here –

One of my favorite authors is Joseph Marshall III.  That may not sound like a Native name, but Joseph is Lakota and was born on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

I’ve been having a tough time lately, but have gained a ton of strength from reading Joseph’s book, Keep Going – The Art of Perseverance.  In the book, a young man named Jeremy is grieving the loss of his father.  Jeremy visits his grandfather, Old Hawk, who is over 80-years old, and who understands that “life itself is the greatest journey.”

Jeremy asks his grandfather why life has to be so hard, so painful.  Old Hawk tells him, “In life there is sadness as well as joy, losing as well as winning, falling as well as standing, hunger as well as plenty, badness as well as goodness.  I do not say this to make you despair, but to teach you reality.”

Old Hawk goes on to say that if life were the same all the time, there’d be no variety, no excitement and no balance.  Old Hawk says, “Life is not all sadness.  Yet without sadness we would not yearn for joy, and strive to find it, and treasure it when it comes.”

As for me, I wish life could be good all the time.  But if it was, maybe I wouldn’t treasure it.  I really don’t want anything bad to happen – to anyone – ever.  But could Old Hawk be right?  Would life be boring if it were perfect all the time?  Like maybe we’d go nuts because we wouldn’t have something to work on, something to complain about, or some problem to solve.  Do we actually like it this way?  Need it this way?

Could it be we wouldn’t be able to feel joy without knowing sadness?  Oh my gosh!  Maybe we wouldn’t know joy at all.  How could we experience the thrill of winning if we never felt the sting of losing?  How could we know warmth unless we’ve felt the cold (although I’d be willing to risk it on that one).  But seriously, maybe we wouldn’t feel anything at all.  That’s kind of scary.

I guess Old Hawk is trying to tell Jeremy that he needs to keep going through all that life has to offer.  To enjoy the good that makes him happy, and to allow the bad to make him stronger.  I guess I have to do the same. 

Joseph M. Marshall III is an author, historian, educator, motivational speaker and Lakota craftsman.  He’s been both technical advisor as well as an actor in films such as Into the West (one of my favorites) and Return to Lonesome Dove.  Check out everything Joseph has to offer at http://www.thunderdreamers.com/

As always, I’d love to know your thoughts.

Magpies Newsstand Cafe

Bailey here again –

I promised to tell you about my favorite coffee house – Magpies Newsstand Cafe.  It’s on Main Ave across 7th Street from the historic Strater Hotel in the middle of downtown Durango.  In fact, the Downtown Durango Cam is on Magpies’ roof, so check out what Main Avenue looks like right now at http://downtowndurangocam.com/

Anyway, I love Magpies because it’s just a cool place.  Everyone hangs out there, especially on the front patio on the warm summer evenings.  The people-watching is great – you never know who you’re going to see, like maybe some beefy river guides or hot, long-haired Natives!  Then there are all the cool cars cruising down Main Ave.  I’m a Mustang lush, with an obsession for 60’s series ‘Stangs.  There’s a black ’65 Mustang Fastback that cruises through town every now and then.  I’d love to meet who drives that.  And maybe even get to ride in it!

But I make Jazz sit inside on the cold days.  I hate being cold and it’s nice and cozy inside, and you can still see out the big windows.  Oh, and the magazine and newspaper section is HUGE!  I’ve seen magazines at Magpies that I haven’t seen anywhere else.  I swear there’s a magazine for every subject, hobby, and interest. 

So my favorite drink to get at Magpies is the chai – hmmm, tastes like spicy liquid pumpkin pie.  Even though they have a million different drink options, I always get the chai.  I get it hot in the winter and iced in the summer.  And their giant cinnamon rolls and homemade pies are delicious, but I try not to eat too many.  Got to stay in shape for my sports – basketball, track, river rafting and skiing.

So anyway, the next time you’re in Durango, I highly recommend a stop at Magpies.  And you just might see me there.

Durango, Colorado – Why I Love It

Bailey here –

I mentioned before that I live in Durango, Colorado – and I love it here.  I believe the Creator granted extra blessings on this beautiful place. 

Durango is located in the southwest corner of Colorado – close to the four corners of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah.  It’s a gorgeous mountain river valley (at about 6500ft) surrounded by pine trees, red rock mesas, lakes and rivers.  It’s close to the Southern Ute Indian Reservation (me likey!).  And it’s lush, green and fun year-round.

The fast-running Animas River – that weaves through town – is perfect for river rafting, which is one of my favorite things to do.  I love the rush of the water, the challenge of keeping the raft upright with just a paddle in my hands, and the thrill of the rapids.  There are also the cute rafting guides – and I mean every single one of them.  Who wouldn’t want to raft with a bunch of athletically-built river guys?

Then there are the trails all through the San Juan Mountains (which are part of the Rocky Mountain Range).  They’re perfect for running and hiking – which Jazz and I love to do to keep ourselves in shape for basketball and track.  We also ride our horses, Dakota and Cheyenne, along the trails and rivers, and let them cut loose in the beautiful meadows.  There’s nothing like feeling the wind whip through your hair while you’re on the back of your galloping horse.  And there’s magic in those mountains, at the holy places of the ancient peoples.  I’ve felt it.  I know.  Of course Jazz thinks it’s all bologna, but that’s just her.

There are so many other things to do in Durango that make it so cool – kayaking, canoeing, backpacking, mountain biking, rock climbing, hunting, fishing and off-roading, to name a few.  The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad – an historic steam-powered train with a haunting whistle – meanders through the mountains to Silverton, Colorado.  We have Fort Lewis College (where I’m going to go), Purgatory – or Durango Mountain Park – where I like to ski (and tried to kill myself boarding), and Mesa Verde National Park where the ancient Pueblo people built their cliff dwellings – way cool.  And last but not least – and where I like to hang out – is our old west-style Main Avenue.

Speaking of Main Ave, I have several totally favorite places there.  I’ll tell you about my beloved Magpies – the best coffee house – next time.

Michael Spears, Native American Actor

Bailey here –

So I have a poster of Dog Star (aka Michael Spears) from the mini-series Into the West above my bed.  Maybe that’s why I keep dreaming about my Indian.  The mystery ‘Indian-of-my-dreams’ looks a lot like Dog Star, but he’s definitely a different guy.  And he’s beautiful.  First, there’s that long, silky black hair, those dark mysterious eyes, the high cheekbones and chiseled nose.  Oh my gosh.  He’s the ultimate man.  Well, my ultimate man, anyway. 

But back to Michael Spears because I know a little bit about him, and he’s the closest thing I can find to the ‘Indian-of-my-dreams.’

Michael Spears is gorgeous!  I mean, just look at him!  He’s a member of the Lakota Lower Brule Tribe of South Dakota.  He’s an actor, an inspiring speaker, an accomplished hand drum player, and his singing voice is haunting and beautiful.  He’s accomplished in archery, a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, and he works with an Inter-Tribal Group to encourage the creation of natural sustainable energy sources.  Is there anything this guy can’t do?  Did I mention he’s gorgeous?

As far as I can tell, Michael is an all-around great guy.  He doesn’t even drink alcohol because he wants to live a healthy life without hindering his inner spirit.  Who can’t fall in love with that?

Michael’s Personal Belief (abducted from his website)
Live each day well, it’s a great ride.  Always remember who you are and where you came from.  Know where you want to go and acknowledge those that help you get there along the way.  Respect your family and yourself.

How beautiful is that?  Love it!  And did I mention he’s gorgeous?  And that he’s an actor?  Some of the films you can see him in are: 

Into the West
Shadowheart
Skins
Imprint
Dances with Wolves
. . . and many more

Check out Michael Spears at www.michaelspearsactor.com.  You can also find some awesome pics of him on YouTube.  And I mean, NICE!

I can only hope the mystery ‘Indian-of-my-dreams’ will be as wonderful as Michael Spears when I meet him.  Think I’m nuts?  No way.  That guy is real. I can feel it in my bones.  I WILL meet him someday.

Native American Vision Quest – Black Elk

Bailey here again –  

I’ve been trying to convince my mom (yeah, right) to let me go on a vision quest ever since I was 10-years old.  A vision quest is a Native American ritual where you go into the wilderness and connect with the Creator to seek your mission on earth – or to seek healing or solutions to problems.  I want to know what my mission is.  I think I want to be a detective, but how do I know for sure that’s what I’m supposed to do?

I’ve done my research and I know a vision quest isn’t something to mess around with.  Not something to enter into lightly.  It’s serious.  But I know I’m strong enough to do it.  You have to be able to fast for a couple days, camp outside (no problem), be open to the spirit world, and able to be alone.  So, no problem.  BUT, my mom won’t let me.  Ugh.  Someday.

Black Elk, a famous Lakota holy man, had many visions – sometimes when he wasn’t even on a vision quest.  Black Elk lived from 1863 to 1950.  He was in the Battle of Little Big Horn and was wounded at the Wounded Knee Massacre.  Black Elk saw a lot of pain during his life, but he also saw hope.

One of my favorite visions Black Elk tells of was when he journeyed to the top of a sacred mountain and found a circle of stones with a cross in the center.  Black Elk looked around and saw that every created thing had a thread of smoke or light going from it.  A voice told him that the thread connects every created thing to the Creator.  Without the thread, it wouldn’t exist.  Black Elk saw that all the threads connected at the center of the cross, representing the Center of the Universe.  That’s when Black Elk understood that everything is related, all the seen and the unseen of creation. 

I love this vision because it makes me feel safe and connected.  Like everything has a place and a reason.  I want to make sure I’m doing – or will do – what I was put here to do.  Do you ever wonder what your mission is?