I took a vacation this past week and it was incredible. I listened to music. I binge-watched Supergirl. I relaxed. I did some art. I did some writing. I went to see Paw Patrol Live. It was amazing. It was like I spent time just existing and it was so, so refreshing. I also went for lunch with my husband and we spoke mostly Cayuga to one another. We also spoke Cayuga at the dinner table with the girls several times through the week.
I have to say, it was pretty amazing to know that even though it’s taken a long time—it’s happening. I’m learning language. I’m using language. We’re all using it—together, as a family. We’re filling our house with Cayuga and we can do even more if we continue to work at it. I needed to recognize this simple, good progress this week. I needed to give our family an enormous burst of love and affection for how being awesome and encourage us to keep being awesome—to keep trying. We don’t do that enough. Cheer ourselves on. Encourage ourselves.
Today I made my first author visit to a school in my community, and it was absolutely amazing. For those of you who don’t know, I live in Six Nations of the Grand River, a First Nation community on Turtle Island (what is also referred to as North America). My community is one of the largest First Nation communities in Canada, and like all First Nation communities—it has a systemically underfunded education system and is recovering from the assimilation policies of the federal government. There’s all kinds of nuance and complexity in just this paragraph alone, but suffice it to say that I grew up in Six Nations and have since built my family home here, and my love for my community and the schools in my community runs deep. (I also work at an Indigenous post-secondary education institute located at Six Nations).
The school I visited today is one that places high value on the transmission of language and culture, having programs in both Cayuga language immersion and English. I was grateful to be invited to the school, and more than a little overwhelmed by the response of the students to the book they had read as a class, The School That Ate Children.
So it happened. I returned to work last week after being on maternity leave for a year. My work is exciting to me in that it’s an area I’m quite passionate about—Indigenous education and Indigenous language revitalization. And while I’m excited, I’m also trying to figure out how all of the pieces fit together. How do I keep writing, making art and contributing to my community in the best way that I can? How do I continue to make progress with my language learning and honestly have time to send good energy back out into the world? This is really important to me. Especially because I think the world needs good energy right about now. Needs to be reminded that peace is important and that it is possible for us all to have enough. Anyways, here are some of the things that are working for me—bearing in mind that none of this is really advice, just me sharing how things are going :).
Last week I had my first ever author visit to the wonderful Braemar House School, where my niece attends. I presented to the Junior and Intermediate classes (grades 5-8) on my experiences being a writer, a creator of books and an aspiring language learner. I also read aloud from one of my books. It was awesome to share about how writing has helped me connect with, learn and share about my culture and our history as Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island. It was also nice to realize that I'm really and truly living my dream of being a writer. To be able to look back and see that what I’m doing now—telling stories and starting to make comics—is something I’ve been working toward for thirty years. So yeah. It was an awesome experience and I’m grateful to have had it.
And of course, the students themselves were nothing short of amazing. I’m always so impressed with young people, the questions they ask and their incredible capacity for compassion, understanding and imagination.
2016 was a difficult year for the world, filled with loss and change. In some ways, it was difficult for us too but it was also a tremendously special year and I’m grateful for all the wonder and happiness that entered our lives.
My husband and I celebrated our one year anniversary in September. We welcomed our second daughter in May. And we moved into our new house in October—all very wonderful things.
2016 was also the year that I made the most progress with realizing my writing dreams. I launched my publishing company on January 21st, 2016 and published six books over the course of the year.