Waking of the Canoes

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Spring has arrived and tomorrow we will be re-introducing the Blue Heron canoe to the water. Many Tribes around the PNW are doing the same.

Some Tribes believe that after canoe pulling season, canoes are to be put away to rest for the winter; others say, a canoe never sleeps. Either way, come spring there is a Waking of the Canoe ceremony.  We gather together with our canoes and ask the Creator to bless the vessel and give us safe travels and a good journey.

As I stated before, the waters can be dangerous and adequate preparation involves not just the physical component, but the spiritual as well. One cannot underestimate the power and might of the sea. Our Ancestors knew that very well.

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On Being Able To Say “Farewell, Seattle”

Dear Seattle,

I never thought this day would come. After five years of fun, risky, wonderful, and life changing adventures, the time has come to bid you farewell. It seems like only yesterday I was telling my friends and family in Texas that I was finally going to take the leap of faith and move here to explore new possibilities.

I fell in love with you upon my first visit back in 1999. The stunning views of the Olympic and Cascade mountains were the most magnificent things I’d ever seen. The ice blue color and crashing waves of the Pacific ocean sent chills down my spine. The smell of evergreens, the Space Needle, Mt. Rainier, the ferries, the bookshops, all these things and more left me yearning to be here. So in August of 2007, after 6 months of prayers, planning, and packing I made my new home here in the Emerald City.

Truthfully, other than the job I had lined up, I really didn’t know what else I’d be doing here. Of course, I was met with much resistance from friends and family who thought it preposterous to move 2,000+ miles away and alone. On the other hand, there were those who supported my decision knowing that I was too creative to be stuck in my one teaching job and too adventurous to be stuck living in the South.

I was destined for bigger and better things.

I know I’m only moving down to neighboring Portland, but you’ve played a very important role in my life journey. I take with me some very valuable lessons — lessons I’ll never forget.

I’ve learned how easily we trick ourselves into believing there’s only one “right” way to live life when in fact, it’s only that way within the context of the bubble we live in. Pop that bubble and you quickly realize your way of thinking is a minuscule ideal in the brain of the planet.

I’ve learned to cope with life without my mom after her unexpected death less than a year after moving here. I’ve learned to let go of my guilt, grievances, and deal with the expectations of my Latino community back home.

Among many challenges including, surviving a concussion from a rafting accident and a broken ankle from a solo hike in the woods, I’ve learned that I’m stronger and more resilient than I’ve led myself to believe.

I’ve learned about social justice issues, the state of arts education, and racism in the northwest. I’ve learned that an ultra progressive person can be just as annoying as an ultra conservative one. Just sayin’.

I’ve been introduced to the importance of recycling, new music, new people, walking up hills, bicycling up hills, lots of rain, and of course the coffee culture.

In just five years, I’ve worked as an emcee, a radio dj, a music programmer, a host at a reputable jazz club, a writer, a teacher, a social media consultant, a vocal coach, and even served as an artist-in-service for an initiative set by Congress.

Whew! I’ve been busy.

I’m sure there are some people reading this letter thinking “it’s not like she wouldn’t have these experiences elsewhere” or “there’s nothing unique about her life experiences.” Well, they’re correct, I’m sure I’ll experience many things similar and different somewhere beyond here, but my life experiences need not matter to anyone else other than me. My time here in Seattle is significant because of where I came from, where I am, and where I’m going in my life journey.The fact is, I’ve undergone a major paradigm shift and as a result, I have a better understanding of the greater purpose in being here.

Seattle, my fair city, you’ve served as the place where I would experience growth and transformation. You’ve given me quiet places to pray, breathe, and meditate my life journey. You provided miraculous sunsets over the coast that left me entranced and pondering adventures beyond the horizon. I’ve reinvented myself surrendering to new possibilities and creating endless opportunities. My survival skills have been tested to the core. I’ve learned what true christianity is all about. I’ve learned to work harder, love stronger, and enjoy each day as if it were the last. Most importantly, you’ve introduced me to the man I love and the reason I’m relocating to Portland.

My life is enriched simply because I took the risk — and for that I’m grateful.

Thank you, dearest Seattle. You hold a special place in my heart. I will visit and return to those quiet places that carried me through many life circumstances, but for now I must I bid you a adieu.

Until next time.

Tall Ships Trading – Columbia River, Washington/Oregon

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One of my favorite outdoor activities is kayaking or canoeing. It’s absolutely peaceful being on the water. The serenity is hypnotic and just leaves me in awe of how small I am in the grand scheme of things. I had an opportunity a few years ago to partake of a tradition that re-enacts the trades between the Chinook Nation and Europeans. I hope you’ll take a look at these photos and read my blog about it. Just another reason I love living here. 🙂

Coming Full Circle…

Hello everyone,

The final video of the Twisit Jordan Adventure series is up on my new page, Al-Mughamara. I’ve so enjoyed sharing all the special moments from that journey. I’m happy to say that I honored my commitment to the Jordan Tourism Board and Her Majesty, Queen Rania in documenting my journey.

I’ve made new lifelong friends and learned new things.

Life is beautiful!

Besides a little back-story to the Twisit Jordan Adventure, all 6 videos are posted there as well. So grab a cup of java, relax, and enjoy.

Until the next adventure…

The Twisit Jordan Adventure PT. 5 – “Wadi Rum”

With only one more video in the series to go, Nathan and Carla a.k.a Farhan and Jameela travel by truck and on camel, through the Wadi Rum desert. Regarded as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this timeless place filled with petroglyphs and stunning views remains as one of the most amazing parts of their journey through Jordan.

Twisit Jordan Adventure PT. 4 – “Madrasati”

The BRAND SPANKIN’ NEW Twisit Jordan video! This is by far my most personal and most important work in this video series. We were invited by Her Majesty Queen Rania to visit her education initiative–Madrasati. I hope you will watch this short video and  share it with your friends, family, and students! Let’s get the cross-cultural dialogue going!