Honesty.

12/21/17

 

Shift of season. Changes and growth,
In perspectives, way of thought and way of life.
Winter Solstice.
Authentic, raw beauty.
The real soul weeding its way through the implemented stories and strategies for survival.
A code decoded.

I’ve always been better with words down on paper. The mess of my mind allotting space for my thoughts to organize themselves out and create structured sentences that makes a little more sense then the jabber in the mind. Creating space anywhere in society, to be read or not. The beauty of my words floating through cyberspace, without an unknown destination or gaze of an individual’s eye. Strangers, friends, my mom, who knows?

As I sit perplexed on weeks on end, bashing myself for not coming up with blog ideas, always thinking of the other. What would THEY want to read? What would THEY like and love? What will get THEM to share, comment and engage in my content? Who’s THEY and THEM? And why are they so important? Instead I actually enjoy the unknowingness of this process. To send out art and words, to release the torments of my mind out into the universe, just for little old me. If it inspires people, great! If not, that’s fine too. I want to share what I want when I want and not fear a response or a lack of response. I want to be authentic and raw and real. I want to share my experience just for the sake of sharing it. I want to release that pressure, that fear and let it go. That’s the beauty of art right? To find solace in the creations that derived from a deep space in your being. The exposé of the soul. This New Year will bring forward more real life stories, rawness and beauty.

So Shanley, how are you? How is your spirit? Well honestly, not well but I’m working on it. The winter months, the darker, shorter days getting to my spirit. The floating stage of my life swallowing me whole. I’m a graduate with no job, with dreams of beginning my own business but I have no idea where to start. People say I’ve already started? Perhaps that’s true. Dancing for audiences worldwide, being the token to be glorified for organizations, etc. But is it really my spirits passion? Maybe. Sometimes it feels good. The energy keeps me sane. The love that is spread makes me feel whole for a little while. But then I always sink back down into the abyss of lostness. I’m healing, I’m learning what this darkness is and what those sparks of light are and how to align and balance those both for longer periods of time instead of one or the other maximized. I’m sure it will be a life long process. Right now, I’m learning what makes my spirit happy like painting, playing, laughing, dancing, writing, drinking an overpriced Chai Latte, seeing my plant babies grow, baby animals, spending time with my family, loving my twin flame and seeing the world.

I’m also trying new things like morning guided meditations meant to clear negative energy and fill it with positive energy, guided by a man trying way to hard to speak relaxingly and stoic. Telling me to imagine a single white cloud drifting through a blue sky. Okay I see it, but I feel the same. Is it supposed to make me feel something? I’m also trying to stretch out my muscles and my body, even if I can only make it to my thighs and not all the way down to my toes. I’ll get there right? If I keep practicing? I’m trying to uphold the responsibility as an Indigenous identified young woman. Because my ancestors fought for me right? I must live up to their expectations and carry on the fight. I’m trying to nourish my body with conscious eats like weird looking veggie meat. It actually tastes pretty good! And little sponges of tofu, I swear I actually like it though! Oh and Soy milk that goes bad in like 5 days after opening.

Anyway, I’m getting off track.
Let’s just say I’m going through things, just like everyone else and I’m not afraid to hide it anymore. I mean I probably will be sometimes. But the fact is I don’t WANT to be afraid and hide it anymore. I feel as though I’ve gotten a lot of praise for some of the work that I do and I know that some youth may look up to me and I don’t want to become one of those role models who’s life seems perfect and wonderful and happy. For that simply isn’t true and just a projection or an illusion created by me. But I want to change that. I want to share my more authentic moments and experiences. To let the soul within this physical body express itself without borders or barriers. So cheers to a new year and the hopes I doing so.

Music Festival Season

Music Festival season is upon us and it’s glorious.
The summer heat mixed with the satisfying sounds of music flowing into our ears.
Giving us that sense that every little thing is going to be fine, reality forgotten.
The exhilarating feeling of unity as every individual around you embodies the same vibes,
flowing into their bodies creating electric movements and exposing their soul.
Time ceases to exist, living in that moment, for that moment.
The excitement of greeting old and new friends,
acceptance and love felt from all.

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IMG_7796 (1)One of my all time favorite music festivals is our local festival here known as the “Winnipeg Folk Festival”. However, I must admit this is the only one I have been too but I have a wishlist of others I’d love to attend in the future including Coachella, SummerFest, Lollapalooza, etc. This was my 3rd year camping at Folk Fest and it was the best one yet. From the moment you  lineup to even enter the parking lot you are greeted with constant cheers, happy vibes, friendly volunteers/workers and many unique things that put a smile on your face. Once you’re in and have scoped out the perfect camping spot equipped with trees (a.k.a morning shade so you don’t wake up in a sauna at 8am), a fire pit for late night shenanigans and jam sessions and being somewhat close to the campground amenities (but not too close, you don’t want to be smelling everyone’s discretion’s) you can finally enjoy the rest of the festival.

IMG_7813Some of my personal highlights of folk fest was the discovery of new artists such as Bobby Bizini from Quebec with a soothing indie voice and adorable timid presentation, Birds of Chicago and their impressive blended harmonies and playing of instruments, Nahko and the Medicine of the People with his empowering lyrical performances and thrilling engagement with the crowd and of course the many other beautiful and unique artists that graced the stages of folk fest. I also enjoyed the artists I knew such as Jose Gonzales with his calming voice and indie vibes and of course Leonard Sumner who kicked ass from main stage to solo concerts to group workshops, his insightful words and lyrics enlightening us all and representing our indigenous communities with such pride, grace and style. Each new day was full of wanders through the festival, naps in the shade, friends by my side, incredible artistry, music heard from every direction, delicious food and being surrounded by wonderful, friendly, loving, accepting, like-minded people (except the one young woman who had the courage and the nerve to wear a headdress and face full of tribal print paint – like, really?).

 

IMG_7786Now, the festival campground – that’s a whole other story!
That’s when us true folkies come to life, that’s when the music festival doesn’t end! It goes on all night until dawn and continues and repeats again. That’s when we all mingle, meet each other, make friends with our neighbors and our neighbors neighbors. That’s when you experience the oddity yet fascinating side to the festival such as the many animation stations operating 24/7 like the wardrobe closet with parades of people coming in and out in outrageous costumes or the Vinyl Village with endless quirky instruments and jam sessions happening non-stop. You also experience sunsets and sunrises from atop pope’s hill or campsites you can see a mile away because they are pouring gasoline into their fire and you go to check it out and join in their song..“gasoliiiiine I loooooove yooouuu, I love you gasoooooline”. The festival campground and the festival itself is always so hard to explain and there is always something going on and too many things happen in the duration of the 5 day festival that you can’t recount every single adventure to those who ask. I simply say that it’s something people need to experience for themselves to really see and feel what folk fest is like. It’s truly a wonderful event and I imagine that other music festivals must feel this way. It has it’s own specific music festival feeling.

I hope that many of you festival goers understand that feeling I’m talking about and those who haven’t experienced one yet, I only hope you’ll get the chance to attend one in your lifetime. I feel like a lot of people have presumptions of music festivals to the point where it prohibits them from attending and their judgments get the best of them. They assume it’s just a wild hippy world of naked people mixed with drugs and alcohol and I won’t lie, there are the few that do represent that stereotype but it’s not all that way, not everyone participates in that lifestyle. Music festivals, specifically Folk Fest are inviting to all and that’s the beauty of it. Anyone, not matter your age, race, sex, gender, background, etc can feel comfortable and accepted and come together with a common cause to enjoy the music and to be themselves. I remember thinking after my first festival experience that if everyone in the world participated in this festival, the world would be a better place.

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One of the many reasons why I fell in love with Folk Fest
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Birds of Chicago performing in Shady Grove
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Beautiful lady singer from Birds of Chicago
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Nahko and the Medicine of the People rocking main stage
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Leonard Sumner impressing the crowds and representing our Indigenous communities with pride

 

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Jose Gonzales soothing our hearts on main stage
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Winnipeg thunderstorm cancelling the grand finale of Folk Fest

West Coast Love Affair

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Traveled up to the West Coast of Canada a few times and can never get enough the breathtaking scenery of oceans and mountains and vast landscapes. I tend to go a little picture crazy. I figured many of you would appreciate these select few, they are some of my favorite shots that I captured while I was there. I have many more from where they came from so just comment below if you’d like to see more.

Indigenous Hoop Dance

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Hey Everyone! First of all, I would like to apologize for my absence from this blog. Classes have started, I’ve already caught the “change of the season” cold, I’ve been super busy and I had an extreme case of writer’s block and couldn’t think of anything to write.

However, I thought I would discuss the Indigenous Hoop Dance for you all since I think many of you don’t fully understand the reasoning for why I do what I do or what it is that I do. Let me give you some insight into my world…

I was introduced to the hoop dance at 13 and have continued to practice and grow with it over 7 years now. The teachings I was given was that it was used for storytelling, guidance/direction and healing. People would come to this individual if they were seeking guidance and/or healing in their lives and once this individual would dance it would show them the answers they were looking for in order to move forward in positive ways. It was also used for storytelling in the way the hoops intertwine and move to create images and dancing designs of many different things such as animals, things of nature, humans, etc. The hoop dance also symbolizes the importance of keeping a healthy balance in life including the 4 important areas of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual and understanding the negatives and positives that come with it. I was also told that the hoop dance could symbolize deeper meanings such as the circle of life it’s self. Most hoop dancers will have the four directions on their hoops which represents that medicine wheel and journey we take in life beginning as a newborn, throughout childhood, young adult, as an elder and then beginning that circle once again.

These are quite similar to the reasons why I dance and what I keep in mind while dancing. I dance for that healing, not only for myself but for my community and all Indigenous people. We have faced the residential school system, oppression, complications within child and family services, suicide rates among our youth and many more experiences that have led to inter-generational effects and hurting within our communities. One of the main things we are still facing is the 1181+ missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada. I dance for them, their families and their communities. I also dance for the showcasing of positive cultural pride, to break down those stereotypes and not only show the beauty of our heritage but also educate those who are willing to watch about the history and culture of Indigenous people in Canada.

I also dance for the youth, to stand up and dance along side of them for sustainable futures and the next generation. I want to inspire the younger ones that they can do anything they set their minds too and that just because you are an Indigenous person does not make you anything less even though negative connotations can in some ways unfortunately make them feel that way. Also, the fact that I am a woman and can hoop dance also gives a sense of that empowerment because of the fact that so many are used to seeing primarily males hoop dancing. It’s something new, exciting and different and I believe that this empowerment is also felt by the younger girls that I teach. I was incredibly happy and looked up to many other women I saw hoop dancing growing up such as Lisa Odjig.  On top of everything and what ties all of that together is the entertainment aspect of why I dance. To make myself and others happy through that storytelling concept and some fancy moves hidden in between. I enjoy the process through learning and watching other hoop dancers and I hope to continue to do this for a long time. I will also be travelling to the world championships in Arizona next year so you can anticipate a blog post about my experience there along with some photographs!

Thank you so much for reading, if you have gotten this far! I will be posting a lot more often, so stay tuned!

Sorry If I’m Not Distracted.

Through Imagethe last couple of years I have attended conferences, peace rallies, protests, etc. Every direction I’ve gone I have learned a harsh truth about our society. I started feeling overwhelmed with these issues that have never been brought to my attention before. I’ve discovered the millions of women across the globe being caught in cycles of abuse. I’ve discovered that many Indigenous and Non-Indigenous women are still going missing and are still being murdered. I’ve discovered that the government and other officials aren’t doing much about these women and not starting any inquiries. I’ve discovered that Indigenous communities up north – in our own backyard – are living in 3rd world like conditions. I’ve discovered the inter-generational effects of Residential schools and the thousands of horrifying stories from residential school survivors themselves.The fact that so many people, especially our youth, each year, end up taking their own lives.

There is so much more I can say that I have heard, stories and speeches that I’ve listened to. Cries for help and prayers for action to be taken. I have witnessed frustration, urgency and most importantly hope.

The thing that bothers me the most is the fact that so many people are oblivious to the actual truth and to the harsh dark realities that are in the world. I almost feel as though most of the world are distracted or maybe they choose not to be faced with this awareness. The fact is, millions of children, millions of people YOUR age are going through horrifying things right now. It’s come to the point where even the safety of our own planet is at stake and the safety of a sustainable future is at risk.
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I have found a frustration when the people around me are distracted by other things such as Miley Cyrus’ latest twerking debut, The latest fashion trend, Justin Bieber’s latest DUI, Getting the hottest new phone, etc. I’ll admit and be honest that I have been caught within these distractions that the media and dominant culture portrays from time to time but after becoming aware of much larger things I have just grown frustration to our mainstream society.  I also start to get frustrated when people view me as a “superhero” simply because I involve myself with many different community organizations and youth groups. I am not even close to being a superhero. The true hero’s are the mother’s who travel miles and miles a day to retrieve clean water for their families. The true hero’s are those children who have the strength and courage to tell their stories despite the many risks they face. The true hero’s have faced far greater adversities that I have ever faced in my lifetime.

All I ask of you – if you have continued reading to this point – is to wake yourselves up and wake up those who are around you. Make yourselves aware, let’s educate each other and begin a dialogue as to how we can move forward and start tackling these issues a little at time. Everything will take a group effort and if magnitudes of us come together we can create the change we want to see. By each person doing their small part it can really make a difference. We all have a choice and I’m asking for you to choose the path of awareness and to think a little less of those everyday distractions.

Thank you for sticking until the end. Take care ♡