We are all one

We are all one
Jennifer Varenchik

Sunday, December 14, 2003

High Prophecy for Low Times

Hey you all! Today it’s raining in LA. It’s not that cold, I’m sitting with my balcony door open. I think I’m savoring my last few days here. I’m going to permanently moving in with my grandmother soon. She isn’t doing so well anymore. It’s really hard. But the hardest part is my family and their reaction to watching our matriarch fade. No one wants to take the necessary time to actually do something about the problem; instead they throw money at it. Wow, that’s really harsh, but sometimes the truth hurts.

I wasn’t at the Thanksgiving dinner this year, but I guess they were asking the younger ones to move in with her, like saying “Hey, what are you doing now, why don’t you move in with her?”. I was talking to my brother about it, we were joking saying “Why don’t YOU do something about it, instead of asking us to”.

Which leads me to my blog entry….

I’m in the middle of writing a screenplay, my first. It’s going pretty good. I mean, I’ve always had these things in my head, like swirling around. They are now at the point that I have to commit to getting them on paper.

It takes discipline, which I am slowly gathering. I’m finding I am willing do anything but sit down and write. Like today I had all day to write, but somehow I needed to do laundry, do the dishes, make jell-o (I have no idea why) and the worst… I made an incense burner out of a diet coke bottle. I actually did a whole arts and crafts project, I thought about decorating it, but then said enough is enough!

If it wasn’t for this book that I read, “The Artist’s Way”, I wouldn’t have recognized that I am not psycho, I’m just used to being a “shadow artist”. Basically, that’s someone who surrounds themself with other artists, lives vicariously through them, rather than getting the balls to be one themselves. Well, the book doesn’t say balls, but in my case specifically, I think I need some…that’s what’s holding me back. That, and discipline. So when I almost got out my paints, and started contemplating the color schemes for my incense burner, I basically yelled out (in my head) “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!” I even felt like I was Peter Finch, from the 1976 classic “Network”. So after recognizing my distractions, I sat down and started typing.

Oh, but before I actually opened my screenplay, I typed this blog entry and this poem. I rationalized that the poem is going to be used in a scene in my film…It really is! Check it out, it’s in spoken word style. One of the characters will recite it in his workshop that all the main characters go to, like at youth conference…

Warriors in the Wings

We’re coming to get ya
Our minds preparin’
Tired of the starin’
Thinking of comparin’
This tragedy
that you call
our – poor - lives
Were gonna rise
You’ll feel our plight
Goin’ to school
Gettin’ ready for fight
Not with our fists
Ain’t that way no more
It’s a battle of the minds
Leading to bigger doors
Each door we open
Shines some light
Scarin’ away the weak ones
For only the strong
will survive
this fight!
Today it’s about what you know
Know your history! Know your language! Know your laws!
And don’t depend on the casino
Greed's a lost cause
Find other ways to line your nest
For giving back and sharing the message
Is the only way to pass this test
Land? Yeah, we got that!
Heroes, yeah, we got that, too!
The rest of the country doesn’t even have a clue
Add stories, music, history and so much more to the list
Things that you wouldn’t understand, so you’ll dis’
It’s ok, you don’t have to fear
Come sit over here, listen to your peer
Remember you said, “In God We Trust”
Check please!
Excuse me, I’ll be taking this land back for us
Don’t get all mad now, now that we found our mission
The truth and honesty would have avoided this position
Our fighting ring is the courtroom
The once mystery place for us
We raised the bar, knowledge is now a must
We got our education, we learned the law
And we are preparing our young
So they won’t fall
All our pride restored
From rez to city to village to rancheria
Throwin’ out the old history books,
And goodbye welfare, we don’t need ya!
Our culture no longer ignored
We’re in the books, the TV and on the radio
We are getting’ healthy, we’re getting’ smart
Scoot over, we’re gonna be in control.
We’ve learned our lessons
It’s time for us to drive
Fasten your seatbelts
It’s gonna be a beautiful ride!

Comments, questions, clarifications:

Monday, December 01, 2003

To Albuquerque and Back Again

I've been back in Los Angeles now for over a week, and I'm still having trouble writing about the events that happened while I was in Albuquerque, NM. I'm having difficulty with describing what I experienced because I want my account to be accurate and honest. So here I go....

While in NM I caught a glimpse into the future of our people. Our people meaning Native Americans, First Nations, what ever you call yourself as an indigenous person....all of us, not tribally specific. I have seen our future leadership and I'm happy.

On Wednesday November 19th, two young women stood up at the NCAI (National Congress of American Indians) general assembly and pointed out that alcohol was served at a fundraiser and youth were present. I know from talking with these women that they were truly upset seeing some of our tribal leaders drinking AND more importantly, having youth around to witness it. One of them said that she wouldn't want to find her leader in an "environment like this", and she would question their leadership skills if they were there.

Hmmmm, she gave me something to think about....

There I was, having a great time (not drinking). I was so impressed with Native Threads and there efforts to raise money for NCAI. The set design was awesome, I mean it was really professional! They had an awesome line up, Drew Lacapa, The Sneezy Boys, Casper and music by DJ Able.

I had just finished watching Drew Lacapa perform his stand-up comedy and I was on my way to the restroom when it all started. I walked out and found one of the young women standing by the exit waiting for one of our major leaders to come out so she could get his advice on the alcohol situation...should they write an emergency resolution? complain to the executive council? say nothing? Since I was there as a trainer for the youth commission, I called it quits for the evening and helped gather the youth that were concerned about the event. The respected leader came out and he advised the group to let him handle it, that it was a tricky situation. They seemed ok with that, and went up to one of the girl's rooms and ordered pizza.

Now since we had arrived at NCAI, the training team had been meeting late at night to review the day and change any plans for the next day. That night our team also ordered pizza and talked about what had happened earlier. I had mentioned to one of the trainers that it had never crossed my mind that the youth would get upset about the alcohol. I was out there having a great time, it caught me by surprise to see the young woman standing by the exit. But that was because I am so used to seeing alcohol at these events, unfortunately it's the norm. One of them said that if a candidate was running for office and DIDN'T serve alcohol at their reception, then no one would go. And you know what, it's probably true. Is it? I can only imagine....

The next day, the youth commission met as usual, we were just getting started with our agenda when a man from Albuquerque came knocking at the door. He said that he had heard that some of the youth were upset about the alcohol being present and he wanted volunteers to testify at general assembly (in front of an audience of about 300 or more Native people). The two young women left with him to get ready to speak. Then the advance group followed to witness and offer their support. The rest of the youth commission wanted to go, so before you know it, we were all on our way to the convention center.

When it was time for them to address the executive council, I was off to the side with the youth commission coordinator, Jeri Brunoe Samson. I don't remember what or who we were talking to, but we were caught off guard that it was their time. Jeri quickly dashed over to where a majority of the youth were sitting and told them to go stand behind the 2 speakers. In less than 10 seconds, about seventy five kids stood up and made their way to support the 2 women speaking. It was in those 10 seconds that I caught a glimpse into the future. The whole room gasped as the youth took their place in the aisle and stood facing the executive council. It was amazing, it was so powerful. Tears filled my eyes and my throat tightened. I looked at Jeri and she had the same look on her face. I closed my eyes and thought how these kids may not realize it, but they were making a difference at the moment. They were telling the leaders that when it comes time for them to be in charge, they will run things differently.

When they were done speaking, the youth all filed out and we went back to the youth commission. I stayed in general assembly for about 10 additional minutes and watched in amazement as tribal leader after leader got up and supported the youth's statements. Leaders were getting up right and left agreeing with the 2 young women. It was great! I walked back to the youth commission feeling secure about the future of our Native nations.

Some of you may think that when it's their time, that these young leaders may have all the intentions to run things differently, but they won't. Or that most young leaders start out wanting to make positive change, but grow tired of defeat and eventually give in. But I have faith. What I witnessed that day gave me hope for our people and our future. I think on their watch, they will raise the bar and raise the standards. I pray for that.

And speaking of raising the bar....

I'm not trying to put on a front about being an angel. That's the last thing I want to do. I drink, I have smoked pot, I have taken a lot unhealthy risks with my life. I'm not proud of that, but I want to be honest. I can understand the youth and their concerns about seeing their leaders in that type of environment, that makes sense. But I also know that as I've grown, I have learned to make wiser choices.

I have been sober driver at a few events...make that at a few conferences. One in particular in Phoenix, I remember dragging my water bottle around with me and everyone making fun of me for NOT drinking. And yes, there have been those times where I have joined the crowd and ordered a drink. However, being present in that convention center when those 2 young women stood up, that has changed something inside me. I'm not sure what exactly it has changed, but something different.

I talked to Jeri about it afterwards and told her that I think it's time for me to move to the next level, I'm going to be sober. She said that since I don't have a problem, that shouldn't really be an issue. I agreed, but I think that it's now time for me to just step up to the plate and just do it. Shoot, I've finished a marathon, I moved to LA without having any friends, I've started my own business....I think I can release this habit without problems.

Well, let me qualify that.

I've already had problems. And now I know why those in recovery need a new batch of friends. I think that is going to be the most challenging part, getting my friends to support my intentions. When I was still in NM, I was invited to go out bar hopping on the last night. On the plane ride from LA, I was really looking forward to going out at least one night while in NM. However, I told my friend that as much as I wanted to go, I didn't think I should. Not only that, but my absolute need to see the nightlife faded away....how strange. I was actually looking forward to just spending time with my friend, but I knew that if I was to go out, we really wouldn't get to talk. We would be in some smoky, loud bar yelling sentences at each other. So I went with my training team instead and we ordered room service.

That was a great night, just sitting around, joking and working. I miss that feeling of being around other Native people, and also being in a safe environment where we could talk without having to put on a front.

But here I am, back home.
I need new friends.
I need my current friends to be ok with my intentions.
Or maybe I just need more strength, I need some of what those 2 young women have. They have true NDN power, they have balls, they are our future.

I don't have the answers, I just know that I'm raising the bar. How can I expect them to lead us if I can't live by the same standards?

Thanks for reading,

comments, questions or clarifications.....

Friday, October 24, 2003

Ready for Take Off

This week was productive. I've been having a lot moments where I feel like things are falling into place. It's quite welcoming- especially since I feel like I was kinda in the dark for a while there.

I once read this book that described 3 forms of deja vu. For those of you that don't believe in angels or any type of "new age" ideas (for lack of a better word), maybe skip down a few paragraphs.

Ok, so deja vu is when you feel like you have experienced something before, but you haven't. The first form is "people", as in you think you have met someone before, but you haven't. It can be good or bad. Good, like you were "meant" to meet that person- or bad, like your intuition is telling you to watch your back. The next is "places", as in you feel that you have been to a place before, but again, you haven't. Just like the "people" category, it can mean you were meant to be there, or to watch out and be careful. The last form is just a general feeling like things are going the way they are supposed to...it's hard to describe unless you have experienced it. When I tell people about it, I usually say it's like having a warm calm feeling come over you and the phrase "this is the way it's supposed to be" comes to mind.

It's a good thing when you have deja vu, it means that you are headed in the right direction. It's kinda like a clue or a sign post that gives you directions when you are lost. Sounds kinda crazy, maybe it is. All I know is that this past week has been full of "it's all good" moments. So if I haven't lost you by now, continue on...

My first "warm fuzzy" this week was from a friend of mine, Willie Carrillo. He works for a Native program and is such a wonderful asset to the communities that he serves. He contacted me to see if I could put on some Healthy Relationship Building workshops for his youth. It's been back and forth with faxes, phone calls and emails- but it looks good. After reading a fax from his office today, I took a moment to reflect. All I could think about was this cheesy line that I say to my brother when it feels like big things are coming...I say "the planets are aligning" (Was that an overshare? I guess I am kinda crazy). I don't know where I picked up that line..Star Trek, The Dark Crystal, some dated sci-fi movie? It's my way of saying that I need to get ready, something is coming.

My second "warm fuzzy" was actually more of a panic that turned into a moment of relief. On Tuesday night I got a call from my friend Jeremiah Bitsui, a Native filmmaker going through the IFP Project: Involve program. IFP is a well known organization that has offices in New York, Chicago, Miami, Seattle, St. Paul and of course, LA. They have this program called Project: Involve that pairs you up with a mentor in Directing, Producing, Acting, Casting, etc., depending on the field that you want to study. I had always thought that I was too old to apply, that it was for kids that were in high school or going to college, so I never applied. Jeremiah called me to tell me he asked if I was too old (32), and his counselor encouraged me to apply. There was a catch- the application was due in 48 hours! Dang! I ran home and started writing my personal statement.

The next day I called my friend Ray Spiess for a letter of recommendation. In less than 7 hours I had my letter signed. As we looked over his letter, I realized how lucky I was to have him as a recommendation. Ray is a member of IFP, Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (the Emmys), Motion Picture Sound Editors and a Sundance Film Festival Alumni..whoa! Not to mention he is now the Supervising Sound Editor of the WB show One Tree Hill and the owner of Soaring Eagle Films.

Let me just take a time out to thank Ray for being a mentor, an awesome friend, a great pep talk giver (is there such a word?) and someone who lets me cry to them when things get crazy. I'm smiling remembering all the fun times we had working in the summer of 2002 on our PSAs and music video. He is truly a role model not just for Native people, but for anyone that wants to get in to the entertainment industry- you've been told!

So fast forward to today as I'm racing over to Beverly Hills to drop of my application. When I walked out of the BMG building, I thought, no worries, accepted or not, at least I did it. If I never applied, it would probably bug me for the rest of my life. I called Jeremiah to thank him and let him know I applied. He gave me the heads up on what to expect next, etc. Sitting on the jam packed freeway, the feeling hit...it's all going to be ok, this is the way it's supposed to be.

My last "warm fuzzy" was only moments later. I called Yoland Garcia, coordinator for the American Indian Children's Council, here in LA. She recommended one of the student business' to cater an event, and it was approved! Woo-hoo! I was so happy for my students Adrian Phoenix and John Mia. They went through the "Start Your Own Business" class and came up with "The Red Chili Shack" catering and one day, cafe. I'm always promoting people, in anyway that I can. I mentioned to Yolanda that I had these kids that could do catering if there was an event, please let me know. I was so happy to call the families and tell the to get ready. The event doesn't happen until May, 2004, so they got plenty of time to prepare. I hung up the phone and suddenly the traffic didn't seem so bad.

What can I say? The planets are aligning. What will happen when they all line up? Heck if I know...but I feel like it will be really good. I pray for my students, my family, my friends and the community. Do I dare think that the day is coming when we as Native people will break the cycles of dysfunction...? It's coming, maybe not in my lifetime, but it will be here before we know it. We're on the tv, in government, on the radio, playing sports and even up in space, we are everywhere!

This past summer I told my friend Jason that I was "on a mission from our ancestors". Yeah, I am. My mission: to bring hope, to love and to help as many Native people as possible. What about the haters, the crabs? Well, they need love, too- but they might not be ready for it yet. Concentrate on helping those that want help, for they will be the ones to help the others when they are ready. Man, where are these words coming from? I'm having my own "Conversations with God" over here in my room. Is that possible? Yeah it is! We all can do that. In fact, that's part of my mission, encourage people to have conversations with the Creator. Talk, He'll talk back and help you. My shoulders are tensing up as I write. I can feel the haters- they're thinking, saying and doing what they can to shut me up- put me back "in my place". Oh well, I can't worry about that- I'm on a mission.

Until my mission is completed-
Pray and give thanks :-)


Thursday, October 16, 2003

The Showdown and the Shawl

I've finally had the conversation that I needed to have for quite some time now. In one of my entries I wrote "surround yourself with love". Now I know what I really meant when I wrote that. It's kinda like taking out the garbage, it sucks but has to be done or everything else will stink. I think I wrote something along the lines of, "those that don't support you, you should kick them to the curb". So I am now on my way to moving from Burbank to Pasadena.

When the dust settled from showdown at casa Villalobos, I reached for the phone to call my good friend Tasha Rondeaux. I was supposed to head out to the Southwest Museum for the Southern California Indian Center dance workshop, but I felt like blowing it off. However, Tasha was out and I wasn't going to be able go kick it with her and give here a frame by frame description of the showdown. Oh well! So I reluctantly headed off to the dance workshop. I sighed when I got in my car, thinking that I at least had a new direction and I actually felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.

As I neared the museum, my thoughts turned to the dance workshop. I had no idea what to expect. I only learned a couple of my Tohono O'odham dances a few years ago, so I was once again going to be student. I have always wanted to learn fancy-shawl, but never really had the opportunity. I heard that there was a free workshop offered at the museum, but I also heard that it was only for little kids. It wasn't until I was volunteering at the 2003 SCIC Orange County Pow-wow that I was informed that anyone can participate in the workshop, even old people like me :-) , yeah!

I walked in and what did I see? Only little girls running around with their shawls, dang! I was going to be the only "big person" in the group. But hey, I really do want to learn how to dance, so I forged on.

Once inside, I scanned the room for someone, anyone, that I knew. I locked in on my friend Avril, and headed for the seat next to her. I had missed the first official class the week before since I was in Bishop, so she gave me the update on what was covered. I told her that I didn't even have a shawl, I just wanted to show up and check it out. I introduced myself to the instructor, Memory Hayes, and gave her my story. In a nutshell, I know nothing and I want to learn everything. She was really nice and joked with me that it's better late than never. I told her while I was showing her how uncoordinated I am, that I hoped my Indian gene kicked in soon.

After a few songs, I went back to Avril's side and chatted. When our break was over, the class then moved to practicing around the drum. Now, I may not know that much about protocol and the ins and outs of being Indian, but I knew there was no way I was getting out there without a shawl, practice or no practice. Memory came over and asked me to join, and I told her I didn't really feel comfortable. She went off to get me the "loaner" shawl (or is it loner?...how sad!).

It was then that Avril and I started to talk about how in Indian country, no one really tells you these things, you just have to learn the hard way. And unfortunately, the hard way usually means that people gossip about you until it gets back to you, and then you learn. Avril shared that she, too, had to learn a few things that way. I said,"How messed up is that? That in order for us to learn about all the unspoken protocol, we make fun of our own people, ridicule them and make them feel bad. Wouldn't it be easier to just tell someone the proper protocol before they had to make a mistake? ". Then I really got on my soapbox and said,"And I don't buy that it's just the Indian way. Or, how else are you going to learn if you don't learn by mistake. That's just setting people up to fail." As I spoke, I thought of people that I have run into in the community who are real "old school". I think they were even happy to see me personally make public mistakes, to see me learn the hard way. As I write, I can see their faces. This only fuels me to make things better for the youth that I work with- I don't want any of them to have to go through what I did when I first started working with the Indian community. In fact, I don't want anyone to have to go through that. I don't understand where this whole "score-card" of who is more Indian than the other began? I wonder when we will begin to start building ladders to help each other advance and get better, rather than try to block others from improving themselves. Ok, I'll get down from my soapbox.

So back to the workshop. I ended up using Avril's shawl and getting the basics down...kinda. While I was dancing, I thanked God that I had a place to go where I could hear the drum and spend time with supportive friends. I was calm and felt assured about my decision. When the workshop was over, I confided in my friend Annette. She's my Tohono O'odham and pow-wow "mentor". I told her that I was so grateful to have a healthy and productive environment to go to, instead of laying around and feeling sorry for myself.

Later that night, just before I fell asleep, I wondered if I was doing the right thing- venturing out on my own. You guys that know me well, know that I'm all about "signs"-as in "Creator, give me a sign". I don't actually ask for signs, I just recognize them when they happen. Kinda like, oh, ok, I see this is the direction that you want me to head in... (Don't worry if you don't get it, I'm kinda weird that way). I said my prayers and fell asleep.

Now let's fast forward to this evening. I was just about to begin my Entrepreneurship class, when I looked up and saw Avril standing in the hallway. She motioned for me to come to her. I got up and thought,"Uh-oh, what happened? What did I do?". She was with her daughter Jackie. Once outside, they handed me the most beautiful turquoise shawl! She said,"This is for you. You do so much for everyone else, we thought you should have it". I was speechless...but only for a second (of course, with my big mouth). I didn't really know what to say, tears started to build up. I thanked them and gave them a hug. I think I might have said something like I could now be official- or maybe they said that, I can't really remember. I was just so touched. They headed upstairs to Wednesday night UCLA tutoring, and I dried my eyes and turned back to my class.

The rest of the night was a success. One of my fears has been about the future of my consulting business, especially now that I'm going to be solo. But again, I had some signs that it's all going to be ok. First, tonight's guest speaker, Sharon Chambers from the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development, brought up a proposal that I submitted after I attended their annual conference in Las Vegas. Friend Clark TallBull and I thought of adding a youth track to their Reservation Economic Summit. Back in February or March, I typed up a concept proposal on how a youth track could be accomplished. I actually thought the whole idea was dead, but Sharon told the class that she wanted to find funding to bring the idea to life. Wow, I was surprised! Next, I came home to find an email request for not 1, but 2 proposals from another friend that works with youth. I replied that I will have them both ready for him by Friday.

On my refrigerator door there's a magnet that reads "Leap and the net will appear". I have leaped and I feel not only the net, but the parachute, catching me. I'm still scared. I'm still really scared. But, I have extreme faith. I think that's all I need for this journey that I'm facing.

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, October 11, 2003

Home again, if only for a little while...

This past week has been amazing! Have you ever had one of those moments when you knew that the events that were unfolding were somehow going to effect you for the rest of your life...? I was fortunate enough to have and recognize 2 events like that this week.

The first started by attending the Rainbow Push Coalition Los Angeles conference. The luncheon keynote speaker was Rev. Jesse Jackson. I was so excited, and I am ever so grateful to Tracy Stanhoff, owner of AdPro and president of the American Indian Chamber of Commerce of California, for giving me 2 free ticket to the conference.

One of the people that I admire and hold as an incredible role model is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Rev. Jackson was lucky enough to spend time and learn from him while MLK was still alive. When Rev. Jackson got up to speak, I was could hardly believe it, he was so close....I could hear him without the microphone. He started with a prayer that asked for our "scars be turned into stars". I liked that.

Now there is this radio station here in LA that has this game where they play a segment of Jesse speaking, and you have to try to interpret what he is saying. I admit, there were some moments where I thought "what the hell did he just say?". But overall, I was impressed by his message.

My "moment" happened about 1/2 way through his speech when he called for us to "say it with me now". He would say something, and then ask us to repeat what he just said. I thought,"Hey, I like that, I'm gonna use that one...". I do a lot of public speaking and training in ndn country, so I filed that away to use at a later date. Little did I know that I would be calling upon this Jackson skill so quickly.

The second moment that I had this week was a matter not more than 18 hours ago. I was in Reno, NV presenting the findings of 3 small groups that I had worked with the day before. Each small group had Native representatives from all over CA, coming together to talk about how they can establish Community Advisory Boards on their reservations. My last group had a member that said he wanted to establish a board, and he wanted to really help his people, but he couldn't stand the politics. If you are from ndn country, you are well aware that politics is one of the major contributing factors holding us down.

His words stuck with me for the rest of the day and into the evening. I hear that type of complaint all the time. "We want to help, but our own people .....(fill in the blank with either put us down, block us, spread rumors, sabotage us, tell their youth not to support us, etc.) I knew that I had to sum up what all 3 of the small groups said, and each one of them had similar complaint to varying degrees. I went to bed and prayed that Creator would send me the right thing to say in the morning.

It hit me when I was brushing my teeth this morning. I was that simple, make them repeat some type of inspirational saying....something that they could take home with them and say to themselves when things get tough. I quickly started thinking...what could I have them say? My first attempt was "change is possible". But then I thought, well, change is possible, but change is sometimes good and sometimes it's bad. I decided since most of the people that voiced concern seemed to think that things could never really improve; I had to make them believe that things could get better. "Positive change is possible". That was it, short and to the point- positive change is possible!

We had 4 presentations scheduled; I was the 2nd to present. My heart was beating a little quicker than usual, which is not something that happens to me that often. I rarely get nervous before I have to address a crowd. The only thing that kept running through my head was...would they actually respond to my words...? What if they all just look at me like I'm some idiot...? I got up, grabbed the microphone and went to work.

When it came time for me to tell them that I was aware that things aren't always great at home on the rez. That some of our worst enemies are our own people, but we have to keep moving forward. That if only 3 youth show up for your event, focus on those 3, don't get upset, keep going and have faith. If you believe, then you can achieve. I asked them if they believed, I saw a few heads that nodded. I said if you think that things can get better, then repeat after me,"Positive change is possible". I heard a few voices chime in. I said that if we really are going to help make things better for our people, then let me hear "positive change is possible". I heard more people the second time, and I smiled. By the 3rd time, everyone was yelling "positive change is possible" and one woman even stood up and raised her fist over her head. I laughed and asked if I could get an amen, and someone yelled "Amen!" from the back of the room.

When it was all said and done, I sat down and thought back on listening to Rev. Jackson. I thought that there was a reason why Tracy was able to give me those tickets, why I was able to get really good seats so I could hear and understand (most of the time) what he had to say, and why I decided to copy his method.

Now I don't know when I will actually use this whole "say it with me now" thing again, but I sure as heck can recognize that I learned something from one of my generations well known orators. I also now understand why my heart was beating so fast. I was stepping out of my comfort zone.

After the conference was over, I found the man that had complained about his community. I didn't really know what to say to him, but I gave him a copy of the book "The Tiny Warrior", by my friend DJ Vanas. I told him that DJ's book was one of the major building blocks in my foundation. I asked him to read it, and when he's done, to pass it on to one of his youth. I gave him my contact information and asked him to call me and let me know how things go on his rez. He thanked me and said he would keep in touch.

And beyond that....Well I'm happy to report that I'm leaving for Sacramento on Monday to continue the work we started in Reno for this company. I think back to earlier this year when I set my goals of getting out there to be a servant for my people....I think about how I said that I wanted to be able to offer workshops- and this Thurs. marks the graduation of my 2nd entrepreneurship class. Man, can you believe it? I just throw it all back on the Creator and thank Him for all the blessings that He gives me.

Until I talk, chat or see you...Peace and Love!
Thanks for stopping by-

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Once again I'm off into the wild blue yonder, excited and yet kinda feeling alone. After an awesome consulting gig last week, I've been invited back to do some more work, this time in Reno, NV.

It all started last week with an incredible opportunity. I got a call to do some consulting for a big ndn company, to kinda step in for my mentor since she wasn't going to be able to make it. Being the person that I am, I wrote to some of my friends and asked if they could include me in their prayers since I needed all the help I could get. I had some big shoes to fill and wanted to do well. Of course, I got lots of responses from my most supportive friends, and I felt good about heading out to Bishop, CA.

When I was about 1/2 way there I got a call from a friend of mine, Bennae Calac. She called to offer her support and had the most encouraging words for me- words that I have never heard anyone tell me before. I was so moved, I can't even explain it to you. I had tears streaming down my face, and I even can feel tears building now just thinking about it. I felt so good to hear that someone believes in me, that I could actually make a difference in this world. Her belief in me, helped me to believe in myself. I told her how much it meant to me to have her in my corner. I laughed because I was using a strained voice from trying to hold back the tears. I was overwhelmed with joy and gratitude. Those of you that know me well, know that I always cry- even at good commercials, I can't help it. We laughed together and I thanked her for her words and prayers.

After hanging up the phone, I would say that was one of the happiest moments of my life. I had confirmation and validation! I was thinking "Hey, I'm on the right path!". I even put on the song Headed in the Right Direction, by India Arie. But then the tears took a turn for the worse. I was so happy, that I wanted to share that moment with someone- but who? The person that is supposed to be in my corner, isn't- and that is a whole other entry. Maybe even a chapter. I suddenly felt all alone, like really, really alone. Man that feeling sucks! It's not that I don't have friends, I do. It's not like I don't have close friends, because I have close friends that are supportive and love me. But it's different when you want to have someone by your side that really understands what you are going through...

I can hear the voices of certain friends of mine saying that I could have called them. I know that, but I didn't because, because, because I don't know. Maybe it was because it's easier to call someone for help, like when times aren't so great and I need a pep talk, than it is to call and share good news (And for my pep talk people, Ray and Robin, whew-where would I be without you guys?).

I think the point here is that I am learning to be on my own now. I realize that what I had as a built in support system really was just a facade. It hurts to have to turn to outside sources to share joy. But since I never really had support in the first place, I'll go where I have to in order to get it. I did the next best thing and called my brother Ron. I left him a message in my trembling voice. He and I can talk for days about our goals and our dreams, and never think that the other can't reach them. That's what I'm talking about! Someone who when you say you want to conquer the world, doesn't look at you and tell you to get your head out of the clouds and come back to reality. Do I sound bitter? Hmmm, maybe just a little. Thank goodness for this Blog thing, a place where I can rant, yet have some creative flow going on. I always tell my kids to "get it out!"- write a story, a poem, draw a picture, go running, do something! But don't let all your anger build up inside of you.

This is my therapy. It might be a little disjointed or hard to read, but in my head it's all good.

Now that I got that whole story out, I think I'm finally ready for bed. I'm actually tired, and it's not even 3am yet.

I am thinking- hmmm- do I need to sum this up? Are there some words of wisdom that need go here? The only thing that comes to mind is Surround Yourself with Love. I am just now learning to do that. Goodbye to the toxic and hello to the supportive. I have big plans for the future; I want to help my people. I want to help others as much as I can- I want to help make dreams come true. I guess if you have those crazy-makers in your life that don't believe in your mission, I say tell them to hit the curb buddy! We only have one shot, so let's make this the best ride it can be.

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Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Before I really begin to post what's on my mind- and invite you into the psycho world of Jennyjenjen- I would like to thank a few people that have inspired me. The first would be Mr. Roscoe Pond. Roscoe is a writer for Indian Country Today and has his own blog at http://rpond.blogspot.com/ I have been faithfully reading his blog and wondering to myself if I could do the same. So here I sit at my computer writing away to a virtual audience.

The second person I "blame" for my inspiration is Mr. Jason Lewis. Jason runs the AIR (American Indian Recruitment) program at UCLA. This past summer he had his own GRE study project that he called "Fam Jam". For one month my inbox was filled everyday with writings from Jason. He sent it to those people that are in his immediate "community", and I was happy to be one of them. Jas is getting ready to take the GRE and wanted to polish up on his writing skills. I, on the other hand, am doing nothing of the sort. I just like to write and thought maybe some of you might be interested in what goes on in my head. I know, sounds kinda egotistical, but that's me.

My only other "shout out" is to the Creator. I believe I have been moving in this direction for some time now. I promise to be honest in my writing...so be warned. Everyday when I give thanks, I remind myself that I need to be humble and learn from others- so if any of you have comments or questions, please let me know.
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Take care,