The other day I received an invitation from Ji Hyang Padma to participate in a “Blog Hop”. Here is a link to his fine blog, Natural Wisdom.
These are my responses to his questions:
What am I writing/working on?
Most of my writing is blog related. I have limited time to write so I try to use that time well. With luck I write three or four posts per week, the majority of which are posted here.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I am an urban Native, brought up to “pass” as European, and working and living in an urban context. I am light-skinned, lack tribal affiliation, and have always lived far from any of the reservations of my heritage. I am still a “Real Indian”. My writing reflects my experience in all of its complexity.
I have been blessed in that many Elders and shamans have shared their knowledge with me. I write about shamanism because so much writing about shamanism takes shamanic ideas and practices out of context. For me, shamanism is deeply nested in Indigenous experience. This does not mean that only Indigenous people practice shamanism or can be shamans. Rather, it suggests that Indigenous concepts about the nature of the world and All-That-Is are at the core of shamanic belief and practice. It implies a moral dimension to the universe, a complex pattern of reciprocity in which there is no such thing as a “free lunch.” It insists that the spirits and the ancestors are immediate and central to human experience.
I find that much writing about Narrative Therapy removes the Indigenous influences that helped to shape the discipline. My conversations with Michael White, and other practitioners from Australia and New Zealand, over the past twenty years have greatly influenced my understanding of the Indigenous underpinnings of Narrative ideas and practices. I am grateful to all who have shared their lives and knowledge with me. I am also acutely aware that Narrative Therapy in the US has been largely stripped of Native influences. This is very much in keeping with historical Psychological practices that privilege European constructions of psyche over Native understandings of self and community. I write to bring Indigenous voices and ideas back to Narrative Therapy in the US.
Why do I write what I write?
In my writing, I give voice to my experience as a mixed race person who was trained in shamanism, and my work as a psychotherapist. I aspire to give others a glimpse into these worlds, and to do so in a manner that honors my ancestors and teachers. I also strive to provide ideas and practices that may be helpful to my readers.
I am concerned that many voices are silenced and cultures erased. I have one bumper sticker on my car. It reads “We are still here.” In smaller type is written, “Polio survivors.” I am a Polio survivor, and live with the ever-present after-effects of the virus. I am also an urban Native, with mixed Indian and European ancestry. Like many urban Indians, I live with feet firmly planted in both worlds. It is good to write about survivance, the task of holding to the truth of one’s life experience under the constant threat of erasure. It is good to remind others that we are indeed, still here.
How does my writing process work?
That is a great question! Unfortunately it is one I cannot easily answer. Sometimes I am given a dream that demands writing; other times a post is sparked by something I have read, a lived experience, or an interaction with a patient or a healer. Often posts arise from conversations with my readers. Some posts seem to almost write themselves, while others are born of long labor.
Who are some of the bloggers you read?
There are many bloggers whose work I read and appreciate. Three bloggers who often influence my work are Tree Girl
, Cynthia Coleman
, and Andrea Smith
. I have invited them to join the Blog Hop.