Tag: Family

Eurotrip: Leaving on a Jetplane…

The proud Canadian in me is a little disappointed to be missing the festivities and of course, the fireworks, but the part of me that is consumed by wanderlust is quite excited to be heading on my first across-the-pond vacation since 2009. (Yikes! I know…)

Scott and I are heading to the Old Continent for a few weeks; it’s time for a EUROTRIP! We’re attending a dear friend’s wedding in Paris (she’s more like a sister, so it’s a must) via Brussels. Those who love travelling as much as I do are probably sharing my #sorrynotsorry thoughts about missing the National Holiday. Hello, smoother security measures and boarding procedures? Also, it’s a bonus travel day!

Scott hugs Mercedes in New Brunswick (2013)

Scott is humouring me so we get nice travel pics.

Roll With the Punches

As some of you may know, we were in “financial freedom mode” (i.e. paying off loans) so when we heard the news, we had an honest (albeit short) discussion about our priorities; there was no way we were missing the wedding. Sometimes, in life, events come up for us to re-evaluate our priorities. Yes, we were repaying loans and we’ll get back to that mode of “freedom focus” when we return. But we had to ask ourselves why we were even so focused on freedom in the first place. There were many reasons, but a big one for me (as well as for Scott), is to enjoy life and ride the wave of opportunity before it crashes into us. Scott often says he ‘only wants to be happy when he grows up’. It used to be charming, then it annoyed me and now, I see how broad this statement is. I choose to adopt it because it means I follow my heart and I plan, as best I can, for the unexpected. When planning fails, I roll with the punches.

We had to ask ourselves: “what are we doing all this for if we can’t even part-take in our friends’ milestones?”

Scott at Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia

Guess where Scott is? (2013) Hint: It’s in Nova Scotia

A plane ticket isn’t any cheaper if you return sooner, so we decided to make it a holiday. Our first international trip together. It’ll be a golden opportunity to reconnect to each other, to re-discover each other as we discover new (old) parts of the world together and it’ll be a great spiritual practice for us both. It’ll be a time for sharing bits of ourselves that routine tends to put to sleep.

When we’d worked out that we were going, we had to figure out the logistics. We’re pretty proud to say that despite the short notice, this trip is not a debt but planned spending. Rock on, us!

Harmonizing Different Travelling Views

Scott and Mercedes at the Anne of Green Gables House in PEI (2011)

Scott and I at the Anne of Green Gables House in PEI (2011)

My partner and I view travelling a bit differently; he feels it’s a welcome luxury and I feel it’s an essential to balanced adult life. But we’re united in the value of family and friendship that we’re honouring. For me, it’s a much anticipated return to Europe (my last hop was in 2009) but the world changes and it’ll be an altogether new trip to do this trek with my partner. I can’t wait to share my wanderlust with this beautiful person. I want to tell him: “See? THIS is why I want to see the world with you. There’s such wonder. There’s such beauty and I want to share it with you. I want to be a witness to your life. I want you to share my adventures. The world’s a big buffet and although I can’t it like this every day, I want to enjoy every yummy piece of this world.”

Counsellors and therapists always encourage couples to “make quality time for each other” and “try new things together”, which I feel this trip fulfills. They also say that renovations and travel are big tests. I see tests as a rather formalized way of saying you’re practising your life. Yoga is a practice but so are your relationships of any nature. Every day is new and each person evolves so relationships are a dance. I prefer to make mine a connected but fun dance. Missteps will likely happen, as they do in everyday life, but what’s the fun in a perfectly rehearsed waltz? Some days, we’ll be like a tango or a westie dance, but many days are like swing for us; it’s partnership, it’s fun and it’s all about doing it together.

I can’t wait to go adventuring in Belgium, France and Holland. We’ll also be taking scenic and sentimental detours to smell

Mercedes is standing in a garden in King's Landing, NB (2013)

I’m standing in a garden in King’s Landing, NB (2013)

the roses (or the Thames or the Alps, no biggie). Travelling reminds me of my passions, or my love for humankind, or my thirst for learning. It makes me feel alive. For a few weeks, I forget about the humdrum of jobs, responsibilities and other people’s timelines. I remember who I am and I see with my heart. I’m also looking forward to seeing my partner in this light. Let this trip be about love.

While we’re out adventuring, I’ve got a few fun posts for you… and if you’re lucky, I might even post a few short on-the-go updates.  😉

What situations have caused you to re-evaluate your priorities? What choices have you made for your wellness and enjoyment? How does travelling add to your life?

Finding Your Clan

The names Grey Owl, Morning Star and Crazy Horse have held a place of wonder in my mind and in my heart from a young age. I’ve pondered the nature of these names and of the practice behind it. I’ve also wondered about the meaning of clans and if they necessarily had ties to lineage. It would seem that as an adult walking into a culture that was never explained to me, my genuine curiosity is met with warmth and in time, I’m discovering the ways in which these practices hold meaning.

I was not fortunate enough to grow up in the tradition of my Cree ancestors, but I am trying to learn about their ways and find the wisdom in their customs, legends and beliefs. I was named in my late twenties and have only recently received my clan. How do a spirit name, a clan and a person interact?

The truth is, I’m finding out as I go. I have yet to fully understand what my name means, and I’ve even more to learn in regard to my clan.

What I do understand is that we are children of Sky and Earth. We are souls, who’re given a nature and a body. We have an essence that is both metaphysical and physical. We are gifted from our spiritual father and from our spiritual mother.

Spirit Names

In my limited experience in bearing a spirit name, I understand it as a gift from tFather Sky. It’s the guiding principle in my life and in finding myself, despite all the noise. A name is given by an Elder (or a family member), which is used in ceremony, during teachings or when in alignment with my purpose, my true nature. The name is given when the bearer is ready for the responsibility it entails, as the bearer grows into the full meaning of the name and carries this medicine with them. A name chooses the bearer. It is given as a ceremony and must be feasted and honoured.

Dodem (Clan)

Bear Jim Oskineegish

Artist: Jim Oskineegish

A clan, or dodem (i.e. totem is an adaptation of the original word), is a soul family. It helps the clan member understand his or her nature and his or her role in the collective. This isn’t a blood line, as far as I understand it. Traditionally, members of the same clan wouldn’t marry, even if they were not related. My clan, or dodem, is a gift from the Earth Mother. It’s the group that shares my life mission, my values, goals and skills. Clans are also revealed in ceremony and should be considered an honour and it’s a privilege to be “accepted” into a clan. The clan chooses us, much like the name.

A clan is not to be confused with astrology or with power or spirit animals. Power animals (or spirit animals) are guides or helpers that come into our life and journey with us either for a temporary period, to help us learn a lesson for example or stick with us for life. These are considered helpers or teachers, but are not your clan. Your clan is essentially what you’re made of, where you come from and that does not change.

Both clans and spirit names are very personal because they pertain to our truest selves.

Wolf Pack

Source: Massiflux.com

There are many existing clans, depending on the beliefs and customs of the Nation to which one belongs. I asked a Cree Elder because my heritage is mostly Cree. There are far more than I could name here, but I have heard of Fish, Bear, Bird, Moose, Turtle, Wolf, Butterfly and Snake clans to name a few. A common approach when discovering your clan is to become familiar with the animal’s traits, qualities, habits and environments. This, in turn, helps us understand their medicine. What do they carry and what do they have to teach us about ourselves?

What About City Slickers?

In our contemporary world, finding your clan may mean something different to you. It may mean finding a group of friends who love and accept you for who you are. They support you in your life mission, when you are being authentically YOU. Your clan understands you because they are your kin on emotional and spiritual levels. Your clan acts as your support system. These are the people who share your values and your goals. They aren’t competing with you, but rather, are moving independently towards a shared vision and cheering you on.

Remember that First Nations do not marry into their clan, so it’s perfectly normal to find your clan as friends outside of your romantic relationships. Your clan’s place is that of your soul family, so if you have a complimentary relationship with your partner, that’s nothing to be concerned about.

I am fairly certain that my partner and I are not from the same clan, and for us, it means that our natures compliment each other. We share values and goals as well but we are not alike and that keeps things fresh. We also catch each other’s blind spots. Other clans can act as wonderful teachers.

I have met remarkable Moose Clan and Fish Clan Elders and one of my closest friends is Bear Clan. Because they differ from my nature, I learn from their personalities and perspectives.

Different Belief Systems

Thunderbird Norval Morrisseau

Artist: Norval Morrisseau

Whether you adhere to the spiritual concept of a soul family, in very real terms, or whether your belief system differs from this one, the importance of finding the people you most identify with will help you learn greatly about yourself. It will also provide tremendous support in being who you are and provide courage and inspiration. Your clan also offers safe haven and an environment to refuel. We may be born into families, but we all have clans, which may or may not be our physical families. This is something First Nations understood. We are given a physical family but we also have our heart-centred families – or rather, we find them and they find us.

I feel that I have gained so much from learning my clan. Many of my questions about myself were resolved instantly. Others will resolve over time and familiarity with the characteristics and values of my clan. I will study the characteristics of the emblem and meditate on its medicine.

Will you honour yourself by honouring your origins, and your clan?

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