Great Expectations-Turning 80

This week, I turn 80! This milestone has been a long time coming, but the pace has seemed to quicken in recent years. Change has been a part of that. Out with the hair dye. What color would it be? My natural hair color is pretty silver. Who knew! I noticed more people were opening the door for me and treating me differently, perhaps with a little more respect, if that is the term you use when someone calls you “Sweetie.” I was having fun as I watched for little differences.

The world has changed, and I have changed with it. My skin has developed, what shall I say, a little more texture, and the makeup I used to apply out of vanity I now apply out of necessity. My center of gravity has certainly shifted towards the equator.

When I turned 70, John and I visited our four children’s homes and celebrated in the finest restaurants we could find. At 78, I began planning in my mind a wonderful 80th birthday celebration, the guest list, the gifts I would give to others, the special venue I would treat them to. I still remember my 50th birthday surprise party fondly at Legend’s Restaurant in Norman. Perhaps some of the same guests would attend my 80th and family, and new and old friends. I had such big ideas and high hopes. My excitement built into great expectations. On my 79th birthday, the countdown to the big event began, but then came the spoiler. One month into my final year, we began to hear about this thing called Covid-19. My hopes, my dreams, my plans were set aside. I had a new goal and a new purpose. I just wanted to live until I was 80. The guest lists and venues were set aside.

So John and I isolated this whole year carefully. We have not eaten out in eleven months. We have only picked up takeout food twice. We will navigate this inconvenience. We will follow the rules and the protocols and do it right. On January 6th, the vaccine was finally here, and we received our first round of vaccination. Then on January 12th, I began to feel ill with fever, chills, and congestion. A reaction to the vaccine, I reasoned. On January 14th, I tested positive for covid. I began to feel my 80th birthday celebration might be a bridge too far. The next day, John tested negative. Figure that out! We had spent a year avoiding the world, and now we must avoid each other. I began to appreciate the true meaning of isolation. There is a Norwegian saying, “It usually ends well.” So far, that is the case for us. My symptoms have resolved. Ironically, after John testing negative, he has been sick with what we trust, and hope is a bad cold or the flu. He, too, is feeling better.

I am just thankful for each day when it comes. I try to enjoy every day without expectations and to flow with each situation.” The Psalm says we can expect three scores plus ten years, and with strength, fourscore. So I believe anything above 70 is just gravy. My 70’s have been wonderful, and I expect my 80’s to be equally fabulous! Even without the big party. I try to remember Life is good in all it offers and think about all of the gifts I have received in the most unexpected places.

LESSON: Every second is priceless; seconds turn into hours, hours turn into days. We have opportunities to tell people we love them and to send love to those who are absent. Love is the answer, but now is the time for healing if covid teaches us nothing else. Now is the time for forgiveness. Now is the time to tell someone we love them. We do not know what tomorrow may bring, and tomorrow may be too late.

GIFTS: I have had my first vaccination. I have the coronavirus-19, the worst part of which is hopefully behind me. I look forward to a second vaccination. Double immunity looks pretty good right now.

Perhaps soon in the months to come, we will see all of our children and grandchildren for an 80th birthday celebration, to get dressed up to find a newly opened restaurant, and failing that, we can celebrate at home with a self-cooked meal surrounded by the ones we love, making the memory of my best birthday ever!

I am sending love to you each one of you with prayers for your health and well being. !

Dating John, Understanding, and Allowing

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So I had a dream about a wing being laid on the bottom of my bed, a lunch with Gloria where she mentioned a vision quest, a full blood Native American that said I needed to go to Sun Dance. When I knocked on the door to see the home of John and Susan when they were married, John answered the door, not Susan. When I met the two of them three years earlier, they suggested a part of my grandparents’ home might be in the home they renovated. When I saw her in Oklahoma City, Susan reminded me to see the house soon because they were divorced six months earlier, and the house was for sale. During the home tour, John said that he had wanted to call me but was waiting to heal longer. As I was leaving, he asked me to stay. He wanted to talk to me about the spiritual experience he had just had at the Sun Dance. I was getting in the car. I was stunned. Since meeting that Indian that got in my car, I kept telling myself that I needed to research Sun Dance. I stayed to listen. John described his Sun Dance experience and shared that he committed to dance the following year after supporting his friend at the Bear Heals’ Sun Dance in South Dakota. I knew I would be going to Sun Dance the next summer with him, but I just kept listening and said nothing.

So that began our dating on July 2, 1989. You can look back at the “Dancing With Destiny” blog if you want to learn more. Anyway, next came Hawaii, my first sweat, a traditional vision quest for me in October. October was big. Not only was that my vision quest during the first weekend, but I also sold my house, had a surprise birthday party for John, moved into my apartment, and kept working. Our relationship seemed great. Some weekends brought more sweats. I went with John. Sometimes there was a vision quest and we would spend the entire weekend camping. Other weekends when he had Boston and Savannah, he invited me to join them. We had space from each other during the week while we each focused on work and our own lives, but weekends were fun. Once in a while, we grabbed a date during the week.

John and Gary and others kept giving me snippets about Sun Dance, saying what I could do as a supporter and what John and the dancers would do. They were delighted when I shared that John had asked me if I wanted to go with him and support him and others that were dancing. I certainly did want to do this. I was definitely looking forward to Sun Dance. I wanted to know why that Indian that climbed into my car told me I needed to go to a Sun Dance!

Now through all of this, I considered John and I “dating.” However, John would not say that. If he introduced me to someone, and they asked if I were his girlfriend, his reply always was, “No, we ride together.” It was obvious he considered us friends that totally loved being together on weekends. Many of my single friends would not have been happy with that response. I did not love it, but I did not get upset about it. I kept in mind that I had been single for three years when we began this adventure together, and he had been divorced for only six months. Sometimes when I was at his house, he received phone calls from a female friend that really liked him. I said nothing until a few months went by. Now this is important.

After studying myself, my patterns in my past, and my lessons, I made several adjustments about myself. I wanted to “understand” my reactions “in the relationship” and how to respond when I was frustrated. I looked at “What changes do I needed to make,” not “What do you need to do or I would just be happy if you would do?” This changed my whole way of being, not only with John but also with friends and people I worked with! If I became unhappy about something, I said “Let me look at this and get back to you,” I did not react until I had time to sit down to write out the situation that I was unhappy about out. Next, I wrote down when a similar situation took place in my life and when before that, until I got to the first time that I could remember. I wrote down how what took place affected my pride, hurt my ego, or affected my self-esteem?

Then I looked at the part I played in the situation. This helped me understand clues about what needed to be healed inside me, so I would stop drawing the repeated lesson to me and repeat my pattern. After I writing it out, I usually could tell John or a friend “thank you for what I learned about myself through our disagreement.” I also would shared how the situation affected me. I simply wanted them to know what I discovered about myself and my past. I did not ask them to change one thing about themselves. If I saw a change within me that I needed, I made a personal decision to work on it. I was healing the past to change my future and life was so much easier when I began doing this with John and other situations.

In the beginning of our friendship, courting, or riding together, John would come to Norman to pick me up to go with him and the children to a specific destination. One of them would generally be in the front passenger seat next to John. I would slip into the back seat. That front seat was their territory at present, and I did not want to move them into the back seat. Some of my single friends were aghast that John did not make them move into the back seat or that I did not ask them to move. Guess what! By staying aware that their Dad was now inviting another person into their space helped. The way I handled gently spending time with them paid off big time later. Savannah and Boston had no fear that I was trying to replace their Mom or their space with their Dad. Savannah began telephoning me herself and inviting me to come to see her basketball games. Her wish was my command. Boston had trouble with my showing up initially, but also slowly warmed up to me. I let them each decide when to put me in the front seat. As a result, I did not have the problems with the children that my friend did.

John began inviting me to family gatherings. That was great for me since Dawn and Johnny generally worked on holidays, and my father and Bonnie generally went to Durant, OK, during the day with her family to celebrate. Dawn, Johnny, and I generally went to a movie together in the evening. We invited John, Boston, and Savannah to join us. It was all fun. I even chaperoned a New Years’ Eve party for Savannah in Susan’s home in Pauls Valley. She wanted to have a date, so while John chaperoned Boston’s New Years’ Eve party here at this house, I chaperoned Savannah and her friends at Susan’s home. John and I telephoned each other and then after all guests left, we all four celebrated together.

My Dad, some of John’s family, and a few of my friends were very concerned that I was going too far with the activities and planned to spend more time doing so. I understood and have most likely felt the same way if it had been my daughter or a friend doing something so “out of character.” They wanted me to come to church with them, questioned me, and were afraid for me. In other words, they thought I was losing it or were concerned that I was not going to make it to Heaven. They had no idea what I was learning about prayer, about healing, lessons and truths, the pipe and its meaning, and what I was receiving and learning from every sweat and ceremony. It all goes back to prayer! It all goes back to God! I knew that what was happening within me and outside of me was improving me. I stayed true to Self and continued learning. The sweats and the ceremonies I attended taught me so much about “how to let go and allow God to work. I spent hours and hours making prayer ties rather than saying a quick prayer and going on my merry way. I was doing focused prayer, and those prayer ties helped me do that.

LESSON: Be true to Self. Be a truth seeker. Let go of control and allow!

GIFTS: I loved the peace I felt in the sweat lodge, learning the Lakota prayer songs, having Gary explain the meaning of each song when he was here from South Dakota, and the gifts that came to each supporter while supporting others on their vision quests. Listening to what a person said when they told what happened to them while doing their vision quests, what they were thinking about while they were praying, and what we were praying for them surprised me. Supporters discussed issues of someone questing around the fire when we were visiting during the day and evening. This was Spirit at work!

When Gary came to help with a vision quest, he many times stayed with me. I learned that he had read the entire Bible six times. They had no books growing up and only had the Bible. When he suddenly got an idea and wanted to teach me something, I listened. Gary never called himself a Medicine Man. Every person that met him felt he was and said so to others, but not to Gary.

Peace In Every Step

If every one of us consciously carried peace in every step during 2021, would this be a great year? I began thinking about this, but about “peace in every step” when John and I were doing the Lakota ceremonies we loved. Every sweat lodge and Sun Dance was an outside event. We were making prayer ties almost every weekend for years sitting outside in all sorts of weather, good and bad. While doing this, I began watching how connected I was to the earth, and all that was taking place on her as my own life seemed to change with the earth’s events. There was more chaos in my own life when chaos took place on the earth. Going through chaos made me focus on how I might maintain balance in my life and bring peace to me rather than draw more chaos and confusion. I also saw that as flowers began to emerge with the change of seasons from Winter to Spring, businesses that I had not yet contacted myself were calling me, asking prices, and wanting me to present

When I was making prayer ties and thinking about what I was being taught in this way, it dawned on me. I had been told that we make prayer ties before going into a sweat lodge to open the path for answers to come during the sweat. Duh! Sometimes I am a little slow. With or without prayer ties, when we say a prayer aloud, our words go up to Heaven, and they also go out in front of us into the earth. Thus, the earth can help us on our path. For instance, those little light beings that live within mother earth and have shown themselves to many at our sweats can help us increase our own light on our path. It seems like we get lots of invisible help from above and from within the earth, which we are not aware of! I suddenly realized that we plant seeds in both Heaven and on Earth when we pray. When praying silently or out loud, we are heard. When we pray out loud, our prayers go out into the universe stronger. I feel certain that all prayers are heard. Some prefer to pray quietly, and that is just fine. I pray both ways, but I feel like I am heard more strongly when praying out loud. So with the help above and help in this beautiful earth, we all stand on and walk upon, our paths will open and improve. Making prayer ties with my hands truly helped me stay focused on prayer.

I have also have learned that writing sends thoughts into the universe stronger. Thus, when something is really bothering me, I make a prayer. If something hurts me or makes me angry, I write out my situation and ask that God and Angels take my problem. I then let go as I put it into my God Box and step aside. I mention this again because I have seen miracles come from a God Box for many people. It helps me to quit trying to solve the problem myself or control the situation. Instead, I get out of their way so that they can help. Writing out a problem moves the problem bothering me from inside me, and I am better able to let go. I also do not react as quickly. Before I react, I take the time to sit down and write what happened, then write my part in what happened and theirs. It helps me see old patterns and look closely to see if I need to heal within. Did it touch an old hurt? First, I see it, and then I can heal it. I can change no one else but me!

Through all of this, I saw that “It all goes back to prayer.”It takes us to look both within and without for answers. The seeds we plant through prayer and those first thoughts about what we want form “our seeds sent to God and Spirit.” Sometimes we get our answers from God/Spirit quickly and, at other times, we get it in God’s time rather than our time. However, it helps us maintain peace within and rebalance. When balanced, we will be more aware of our problem being worked on when receiving a sign.

So, in 2021, what if we began to use skills we know to maintain peace within and walk more gently upon our Mother Earth. We do take our earth for granted. When we Sun Danced, we did it barefooted. I became conscious of our earth and being gentle as I walked upon her or danced upon her. What if we mindfully stop taking for granted so many simple things in life and start seeing with new eyes and more gratitude for the smallest of gifts, no matter our situation? Every time we use water, we need to be aware of all it took to be available. It is time that we do not waste it. When we sit down to a meal, we must be conscious and mindful of what it took to grow our food and deliver the food to us.

What if we made a conscious effort to become more cognizant of the words we speak? I consciously decided to stop reacting quickly when I saw something on social media or when a person irritated me or hurt me with what they said. I learned techniques to help me not respond and perhaps later regret how I sounded. Every word we say and every word we write that is negative will come back to us in our life when we most need something positive to come to us. So if we speak negatively about someone or say a nontruth, we will receive the same in our future. I study my own words carefully. I even stopped using some words as I did so. For instance, I no longer ask to be stronger or to be more patient. When I did that, I discovered that I was drawing lessons to make me stronger or become more patient. What if we became more compassionate and empathetic?

Here is something I took for granted. Most people do not know this, but a year and a half ago, I went for about three months without being able to urinate from the time my feet hit the floor in the morning until I went to bed that night. Some doctors I finally got an appointment with did not seem too concerned because I could go during the night. A pain came every time during the day when I felt like I had to go to the bathroom. All liquid that needed to be released made me feel like I had to go to the bathroom. I would sit down, and then the pain came instead. It took three months before I could find a doctor that could help me. It required a complete pelvic surgery. I was finally told about OU Physicians Women’s Pelvic and Bladder Health, where I was fixed. I thankfully feel great again, and I now make a gratitude prayer every time I sit down to use the bathroom. Yes, we do take little things we can do daily for granted. This helped me be more compassionate and have more empathy for others having a similar difficulty or even a different limiting problem.

As I thought about Peace In Every Step for years and how to achieve it, I eventually saw a book in one of our children’s house. Thich Nhat Hanh wrote it. The title was “Peace Is Every Step.” It is a great book. First, we have to find peace within Self. This peace will spread to our family. It will then expand to our community, and we will eventually have peace covering the world. Love, compassion, and altruism are the basis for peace.

Happy New Year! It is a new year, a new beginning, and we have many new possibilities coming to us! As we go forward, I invite you to join me in achieving peace on earth and let it begin with each of us.

LESSON: Consciously breath in everything good while taking a deep breath and then release all that is negative when exhaling. Do this repeatedly. It is a beginning. Then when upset, take a few minutes and do this suggested activity. We are all worth the effort we do this.

GIFT: I am more conscious of my internal life and external life physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. The peace within brings joy and greater understanding and gives me the ability to have greater compassion. This is a big gift! This does not mean that I succeed all of the time, but I love my life and all I have gone through, both the negative and the positive! I am still learning!

Magical Days and New Ways

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Gary and Elizabeth came from South Dakota to help with another vision quest for several people. This meant many sweats over the weekend. Back at my apartment afterwards, Sally and Don showed up to tell us some amazing news. After attending my vision quest, they began thinking about how perfect some land that Don’s parents owned would be for a sweat lodge and vision quests. They went to visit them and shared with them all that they had been experiencing with this amazing young Lakota that was teaching us so much. They became interested and discussed this possibility. Their final decision was “yes.” Sally could not wait to share with us this news. They wanted to know if we would like to go see the land that was right outside Noble. She said, “It will be lots closer than the other sweat lodges are for us.” The land was perfect for everything we were going to be doing! The following day we all began working on the land, cutting the tall weeds down, making paths up the hill where someone might go to pick out a spot to do a vision quest, and even a path down into a field. It had a pond people could fish in if they were willing to throw them back. Absolutely great! It was a huge gift for all of us.

The following weekend we built a sweat lodge on the land per instructions from Gary. It was a full weekend of gathering what was needed, sharing food that we all brought, laughing lots, and making prayers for what all might take place on this land. We made prayer ties and did our first sweat in the lodge. That was the beginning of many for us and for so many, many that joined us. We camped there for the weekend of activities, sleeping in John’s van. He took a seat out and purchased a mattress to put into the back. On the way home, John decided to have a Sun Dance meeting at his house. I was delighted and hoped to learn what we needed to take with us.

The Saturday of the Sun Dance meeting came. We knew everyone that arrived. As people began to arrive, I heard John say “I cannot believe it” as he looked opened the door for a person I did not know. John then told Ross Bannister that he had been wanting to meet him for a long time. There had been a long article about Ross in the Daily Oklahoman. He had a sweat lodge on his property in Talihina and was making rattles from turtles to be used in healing ceremonies. John had cut his picture out of the newspaper when it came out and put it in the drawer of his desk, hoping to meet him. As he was telling me about this, I followed him into the desk a room downstairs in what is now his office. I was looking down at his picture in the drawer when I noticed my picture also in the drawer. That surprised me. I knew the first discussion John and I had on the dance floor three years before we began dating about God and Spirit stuck with me. It must have stuck with him also because he not only told me that discussion stuck with him, but he also had my picture he cut out of the newspaper a newspaper photographer took when I spoke in Pauls Valley. Apparently John wanted to talk to me more just as I had wanted to talk to him more after that initial meeting. Ross and I were the only two pictures that he did that with! Now we were at the same meeting.

A few shared their experiences at Sun Dance the previous year. They discussed what to take, how we could make an Oklahoma camp on the lands, what needed to be taken in order to cook our meals, and how the four days of purification would take place prior to Sun Dance. Part of what would be used would be acquired after we arrived, such as sage.

Every time we had a ceremony, no matter if it was a healing ceremony or a vision quest, or a regular sweat, I felt so blessed to be participating. I was learning and understanding more each time. Every weekend seemed magical. It also felt magical every morning that I woke up at home. I thought about my whole life. At home, I was making prayer ties. Why? Those prayer ties helped me focus on prayer. On the weekends we were going to sweats or to help others with vision quests, I was making many, many prayer ties and was teaching newcomers how to do them. Getting into the sweat lodge, hearing the songs, and listening to the prayers as we went around the lodge one at a time brought peace within me and new understandings. What was so good about the lodge was that the lodge became totally dark when the door was closed (the flap where we entered was pulled down tight). When a person made a prayer, one could not tell who the person was that was speaking. People said things during their prayers that might not have been disclosed in another setting. Why? They felt safe in the lodge, even if it was their first time. Some never dreamed they would be praying out loud, and they had never done that before. There might be fifteen or twenty in the lodge or maybe even more. Most of the time, we had to make a double row due to so many showing up.

We all looked the same. Dressed for camping and after one sweat, we really looked the same…like we each had been in a shower. One never knew who they might be sitting next to or what that person did when we went to the lodge unless it came up in discussions later. One time over 50 people showed up for a vision quest weekend. There are so many stories. There were people of different beliefs and faiths, some people that had lost their faith, but wanted to sweat and purify (we had the honor of watching as they regained faith), and still others that heard about healing received in the lodge and wanted healing.

When someone entered this land and walked down the hill to the lodge and where we had lodge area and where, after sweats, we feasted on food brought by all, we shared it was important to “leave your ego out there and watch what happens here. Know that everything that happens to you here is happening for you. Listen to the words and what people are talking about. Listen to your own words coming out of your mouth. Let ego be gone and enjoy.”

Perhaps this is where I got the idea of remembering in all of my life that perhaps everything that happened to me in my past was happening for me rather than to me! Of course, I could not “see” my lesson or heal until I was past those hard times and looked back. Once I could see it, I could work on the healing.

LESSON: I write goals open-ended, always have. In other words, I do not get descriptive. I laughed many times because I wrote down that I wanted to learn more about Prayer, Blessings, How Spirit Works in our Lives! Now I assumed I would do that in weekend retreats and seminars at lodges and hotels, not with me camping out, going into a sweat lodge, and no hotel!

Gifts: I began connecting to nature differently. It started with my first real date with John when we went to dinner. We walked afterward, and John said, “Would you like to hug a tree?” He shared that we were about to pass one of his favorite trees on the OU Campus. Then he asked questions like, “How are you like that tree?”

Gifts: Camping out made me pay more attention to season changes, and each season’s results. I compared the changes to my life. Looking back, I can see that I have moved through many seasons and changes along my path of this life’s journey. When looking back, I now know that I can face change and challenges in a new way as I have learned to adapt to twists and turns in my life and not resist them. This brings me more peace. With this peace within, I can hear more answers from God and Spirit.

Great Dreams

Do you dream? Do you pay attention to your dreams? Have you ever followed your dreams? Today, I realized that forty years ago, my first husband of seventeen years died at midnight on November 30/December 1. He had just turned 40. I was 38. Before he died, I asked him to talk to Jesus and God and tell them that I wanted answers while I was still on earth. I did not want to die to get my answers about life, how this works, and more. I always dreamed but paid little attention to my dreams. Many I just forgot as I got up and immediately began my day.

Well, it was about six months when I had a dream while on the 80-mile backpack trip with my own children and eight others about their age. We formed a coed Scout troop and were at Philmont Boy Scout Ranch when I had a dream where I saw Don very clearly in a tent on a cot. He said that he was doing better, but he did not look like it to me. When I woke up, I had to shake that off and tell myself that he was fine. A few months later, I had a dream where I was talking to his mother on the phone in the early morning. I heard Don come in and recognized his laughter. She handed him the phone, and he told me how good he was and that it was time for me to move on. This was nine months. I had just met a man I might like to have a date with. Interesting, and I thought he was encouraging me. I married that man within a year. It was an important marriage, as was my first. I knew my first husband loved me, but the second one may never have loved me. He was an excellent con artist and continued to be so after our marriage of five years.

Six weeks following my marriage to my second husband, I had a very vivid dream about Don. He looked great. It was so vivid that I turned over and called my second husband, “Don.” That was not his name. For a minute, I could not figure out who he was. I knew he was not Don. Then he said, “I know why you called me “Don.” He was here. Me: “Where?” Him: “Standing right by the bed. I recognized him from pictures Dawn and John showed me.” For the rest of the day, we were amazed at what happened. Perhaps he came to warn me about this marriage?

I was in my apartment when I had a dream about the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City blowing up. I had seen a circle of friends rising, up, up into the sky. They seemed alright. Some were smiling. Then this happened. The telephone rang, and my cousin told me to turn on my television and see what was happening in Oklahoma City. I then understood why I dreamed that dream.

My next vivid dream came when John and I just began to date. By this time, I was writing down my dreams when I first awakened. I kept a notepad by the bed. I had a dream in which I was told to go stand in the center of my father’s original home in Pauls Valley. Both grandparents lived in Pauls Valley, and I was born here. They moved us to Oklahoma City at six weeks, and I did not get back permanently until age 54 when John and I married. Anyway, we had only been dating about six months when this dream came. As soon as I could get a break from work (and that took a few days), I drove to Pauls Valley. I went to my friend’s home. Terri was a schoolteacher and already home from school. She was married to Earl, who was Mayor of Pauls Valley. She asked, “What are you doing here?” I explained my dream and said that I was going to follow my dream to see what happened. I asked if she would like o go with me. She agreed. We drove to where my grandmother’s home used to be. Now a nursing home sits on their property. After circling the entire block that Pop and Lizzie used to have, we decided the house’s center would be within the nursing home. I turned to Terri, “Want to go in with me?” Her response was, “No way. I live in this town, and Earl is the Mayor right now.”

So I entered the home alone. The best I could tell after walking around was that the center was right by the nursing station. I stood right beside the nursing station. A nurse asked, “Can I help you?” Me: “No, I just came to make a prayer.” She looked concerned but allowed me to do so while she worked. I made a silent prayer and looked around as I asked God and Spirit, “Now, why am I supposed to do this?” I took Terri home and went to see John at his office. He asked what I was doing in Pauls Valley. I explained that I was doing what I was told to do in my dream. He just shook his head. I said, “We agreed that dreams are important, right? So let’s see what the result of this dream might be.”

In four days, John telephoned and said, “Susanne, you need to come to have dinner with me tonight. I have a surprise for you.” I did so. As soon as I arrived, he handed me The Pauls Valley Advocate. There was a 5 x 7 picture of the house on the front page plus a huge story about the history of my grandparents’ home. The title said, “Old Home Long Remembered.” This was fascinating enough to me, but what was also exciting about this article was my aunts and uncles had no pictures of their homestead. I went home, slept, and returned the following day to get fifty copies for everyone attending my Aunt and Uncle’s fiftieth wedding anniversary the following Sunday. John and going with me, and we could pass these out to the delight of everyone. There was happiness all around. So it was the fourth day following my coming to the nursing home. That was important to note. I had been learning through the Native American teachings were receiving to wait four days for a change of energy to take place, for answers to come, or for gifts to be received from actions taken. We were even taught that prayer ties stay alive for four days.

It was 1990. I planned to slow down on my nutrition business and begin going into businesses to consult and speak. But where should I begin? I had another dream where an airline stewardess told me that I needed to go to the Waterford Hotel in Oklahoma City to begin. As soon as possible after this dream, I drove from Norman to the Waterford Hotel, a beautiful facility. I smiled and said hello to the two people behind the desk and then chose my spot to make my prayer. asking to help me learn why I was to come here?” My chosen spot was in the foyer’s center, about twelve feet in front of the check-in desk. Perhaps this dream had to do with beginning to speak to businesses in Oklahoma.

Before leaving the Waterford completely, I found a list on a glassed-in board showing what businesses were housed in the Waterford facilities surrounding the hotel. I wrote the names of every business down. Then I went home to cold call, asking questions of each business that might give me a clue about where I might be of help and able to set up an appointment. After two phone calls, I stopped as I realized that I needed to wait four days to see what happened. Sure enough, a letter did come. Within the letter, four names of businesses were named. I called the first one listed. No interest. I then telephoned the second one and had great success. As a result of that phone call and a follow-up appointment, I presented my first seminar for a business in Oklahoma on the Waterford Ballroom stage, presented a three-hour seminar for over fifty people, and was rescheduled for more! I was being guided on how and where to begin my seminars in Oklahoma.

Other major dreams were about my son marrying the wrong person (I received a call the next day that they eloped.). Then two nights before the Twin Towers were hit, I had a horrible dream about walking down a long flight of stairs. It was awful. I was shown as I went down the stairs, people with body parts missing and blood everywhere. (I rarely have a bad dream. My daughter telephoned from California, saying, “Mom, I had a horrible, horrible dream last night about a plane hitting a building.” I replied, “I had a horrible dream also, but I do not want to put it into the universe, so I am not going to share it right now. I again would not talk about my dream when John asked me, “Did you dream last night?” We share dreams most mornings.

However, the next night I dreamed that I climbed a ladder and had to hoist myself over the ledge. I found myself in a blue room. A bench against the wall held a young boy. We visited until we heard voices coming. They were in a line and were ready to cross a plank that had been set up for them. I took each person’s hand and helped them as they crossed over. I actually had the opportunity to hold their hand as they began their journey. Many were visiting with each other while waiting to go. After each person, I went to the next one until all were helped. Next, a picture came into the dream. There was what looked like part of the building at an angle across the scene with one end going into the ground so deep; the whole piece was steady in its spot. A huge eagle sat in the space under the angled piece of structure that was there. What was that huge eagle doing there? I later found out. There was so much peace in that long dream. Like I said, some were happy and sharing, some were quiet but peaceful, and others looked contemplative but fine and accepting. A few days later, the twin towers went down! When I saw the picture on the front page of the newspaper afterward with the angle of iron across the picture going into the ground (no eagle) I realized my dream and my daughter’s dream had been showing what would happen.

The next dream took place about four days before that barge ran into the bridge going across the Arkansas River, I had a major dream about people on a barge in the water. John was in front of me in a boat. They each were given a boat and were rowing beside and behind me. We were all paddling. I was standing up paddling and could feel the breeze. It felt wonderful. We went through an arch. On the other side of the arch, many were waiting to greet those coming. Again, I had no idea what this dream was about until I realized my lights had initially shown me a pig for “razorback hogs.” Then a barge hit the bridge. It all became clear.

I could go on with more dreams. One dream told me exactly what to move to Pauls Valley when I married John. (My computer, my telephone (before cell phones), clothes, and pictures I had taken). In

More fast snippets of dreams took place when I saw a bedroom in my daughters’ home in great detail a few nights before seeing her in San Francisco. I then saw a bedroom in Taos, NM. Sure enough, several of us went to Taos and stayed in “The Laughing Horse Inn.” We shared a suite in Taos with friends. I opened the door to a bedroom, and it was identical to the room I saw in my dream. Obviously, John and I got dibs on that room. For some readers, I perhaps told some of this in an earlier blog. However, I do believe it is of utmost importance to pay attention to dreams.

LESSON: Pay attention. Write them down as soon as you can. If you do not dream, put a pad by your bed. If you can write one word to help you remember, it helps. Yes, there are many books on dreams, but take note of symbols in your own dreams that reoccur. They will bring you answers!

GIFTS: I learned to pay attention to my dreams even if I did not know what they were about. Before the Native American path opened to me, I knew the woman that came during a nap and laid a large multi-color wing across the bottom of my bed had a big meaning. I knew this dream was important.

I began to understand that when a car I was in backed up in a dream, even when I was not driving, it warned me to look back in my life and understand what I needed to heal before going forward. Or perhaps I was being warned not to fall into an old pattern I was attempting to remove from my life completely.

I learned that dreams are also a window to our souls. They show the extraordinary at work in the ordinary because spiritual overtones of meaning are inherent in the most simple dreams of the most “ordinary” people.

John and I talk about dreams and attempt to analyze dreams every morning. It is a gift. If you do not have a partner to do this with, write out the dream and look at every part of the dream. In one dream, I picked up a pen from a table. If I were that pen, how did it feel to be chosen from the others? If I were the others, how did that feel? Before John, I had a friend that loved to interpret dreams, and we helped each other interpret our dreams.

A Spontaneous Trip

Friday came along again. John telephoned and said that he thought he needed to remain at home this weekend. From previous statements he made, I thought we were going to have a fun weekend together. I was looking at his actions carefully due to my past, and I felt certain he was doing the same with me, but this was bothering me. I used all I had learned since I began working on me. I let it go and focused on the present.

Gary and Elizabeth were here. Katharine telephoned and joined us for a visit Friday afternoon. At 6:00 p.m., we decided to go out for dinner as we laughed and were in the middle of a great conversation. We were all four in a happy, playful mood when Katharine and I began asking Gary and Elizabeth questions about their life, where they each grew up, and where were he and Elizabeth living now? After sharing just a little, Gary said, “Let’s have coffee with my Dad in the morning, and I can show you two where we live. You can see a little of the Rosebud Reservation.” I remarked, “Now? After we eat?” Katharine said, “We can take my car.” We all ate quickly, and by 7 o’clock, we were on our way to South Dakota.

Gary told stories about life on the reservation. Elizabeth shared her life in Louisiana. We also had some serious discussions about what happens when a person separates from another spirit. It has to be done at four levels: mind, body, heart, and soul. Until there is agreement on all levels that it is necessary, it is not time. This led our discussion to the medicine wheel and all it represents. After some serious discussions, Gary would pull us out of our thoughts and take us back to a fun continuance of a lighter discussion. We finally arrived in Mission, South Dakota, about 5:00 a.m. Deciding not to wake Gary’s Dad, Spencer, up until 6:00 a.m, we stopped to gas up, go to the bathroom, and get something to drink before seeing Spencer and other family members also living in the home.

Gary did call and warned Spencer that we were coming to the door quickly because we were about to his house. Gary next told Katharine and me that we were not to look Spencer in the eyes. It was not appropriate on the reservation. That instruction surprised us as he also explained that a mother-in-law was not to look a son-in-law directly in the eye. I took note that we were driving in the country, Everything looked desolate, but the roads were alright. Gary had already shared with us that he used to run 16 miles each way to school and back home as he grew up. He also said that he still held the honor of being the fastest runner at his high school. We came to a long driveway that went down a slight decline to a house. Gary explained that this house was like many other houses on the reservation. It sat on land allotted to his family.

As we entered the small living room, I noted that there were not many furnishings. There were a couch and one chair. Both were facing a television. Then I noted there were a dining room table and chairs next to the kitchen. The living area, dining, and kitchen were open areas. I could see a hall that must lead to bedrooms and a bathroom. Spencer greeted us and said for us to sit down while he made the coffee. I sat down on the couch. A little boy came wandering down the hall, rubbing his eyes, and walked over to me. I asked if he would like to sit in my lap since all the other seats were taken. He nodded, meaning yes. I picked him up and lifted him into my lap. I just loved him sitting there enjoying looking at us, the strangers.

Gary and Elizabeth showed us the bedroom they lived in and explained that Gary’s brother and sister’s families had their own bedroom with their wife or husband and children. A few other family members heard us talking and rose to see what was happening. The rest kept sleeping. We only visited for about an hour and a half before leaving. When we left, we added one more passenger. It was Elizabeth’s parrot. Due to a nervous condition, it had been pulling out its own feathers and looked pathetic. Elizabeth wanted to bring her parrot back to Oklahoma to see if it might be better.

Before starting the drive back to Oklahoma, Gary wanted to show us the reservation. We went into town and saw a few places plus the local small college. Next, he showed us the prettiest areas on the reservation as well as some desolate areas. It was obvious that life is hard on this reservation. As Gary shared about reservation life, we discussed dependency, alcoholism problems, few jobs, how the reservation Indians felt about whites, children watching television on the reservation, and becoming dissatisfied rather than satisfied with what they do have. They begin to feel their parents should provide them with what they see and think other children have, and so many other subjects. We visited the grave of Chief Eagle Feather and left a few prayer ties. According to Gary and Elizabeth, families had so little, and yet some were happy. I felt like we were in a foreign land. It felt something like a third world situation. This dependency of proud people began many years ago.

On the way back, we stopped in Valentine, Nebraska, for a good meal. We then continued home, visiting, taking turns driving, and stopping a few times for snacks and bathroom breaks. I happened to be the driver and almost missed a turn. Thus, I swiftly turned. From the back, I heard the words, “Whoa! What was that?” We were all so surprised. It was a parrot that I had never heard before. It spoke so loudly that it woke up the sleepers. Elizabeth’s parrot gave us a good laugh.

We were home by 3 a.m. John telephoned about noon the next day and said, “What did you do this weekend?” I smiled as I thought about our fun trip. I knew he would have loved it. I replied, “We went to South Dakota and met Spencer Bear Heals” His shocking reply was, “You did what? Susanne, I talked to you at 5 o’clock on Friday, and you said nothing about that. Yes, he was sorry he had canceled our weekend plans, and he asked me to come to Pauls Valley for the afternoon for dinner with him. I did so. He next came to visit us on Wednesday night to see Gary and Elizabeth before leaving on Thursday.

LESSON: When feeling frustrated about someone else doing something that hurts, like uses hurtful words against you, changes your plans, or perhaps does not invite you to a party, or maybe even no longer talks to you, bring your focus back to you. Be slow to react. What can you do for you? Perhaps this space opened up so that something different might happen. (like John canceling plans for us opened up an adventure for me). Just do what I learned to do through Al-Anon. Put one foot in front of the other, take the opportunity to clean a closet, or write a letter of gratitude to someone that has done something nice for you in your past. For a deep hurt, make prayers for the person or persons that hurt you every day for thirty days. Watch how your feelings begin to change. If nothing

Gifts: I saw a part of the United States I had not seen before, plus reservation life and how people survived there with so little. Meeting Gary’s family and seeing where he grew up brought appreciation and gratitude to mind. Spencer and three families lived in the same home. There were seven children, his grandchildren, there. I learned about the high cost of utilities and the suffering of so many during the cold season. It was a reminder that we take lots for granted.

I got to see the Sun Dance grounds where John committed to Sun Dance in the coming summer. The Sun Dance was to be on Spencer’s land.

We all felt joy and gratefulness when about this spontaneous trip to South Dakota. However, we were certainly happy to get back to my apartment for sleep!

Thanksgiving Reflections

Thanks to zoom and cell phones, we could text, see family, and visit with family. We also received many texts from friends. I thought about the difficulties and positive experiences in my past. The fact that John and I get along so well still makes me appreciate everything my past has taught me. We had a good Thanksgiving even despite Covid-19. Friends dropped by with special treats during this past week or called with a surprise! We did sit about twelve feet apart and share one meal with a few local family members. It was a time of sharing and remembering thankfulness for all of us. Perhaps next year we can all be more grateful than ever for being “in person” with both family and/or friends. I won’t mind wearing a mask if we can be closer to visit!

During this entire Thanksgiving, I also thought of you, each reading this blog. I wanted to thank you for reading and sharing with me one or all of my blog postings. The life of this blog has already brought me so much joy. Of course, I am grateful for Boston, my stepson, for getting me started. He showed up to isolate with us at the perfect time for me to begin the blog. He set me up with my web page and encouraged me to begin. John, Boston, and I brainstormed all sorts of stories that I could share with you. I have not even gotten started on those. The best is yet to come. There are some hilarious ones. I finally began the blog I wanted to do for over five years. When I did begin, I became so grateful for each person who left me a comment. By reading and commenting, you encouraged me to keep going.

As I continued blogging, I began to notice changes within me. It was like my brain cells were waking up. I was pulling up names faster and able to remember situations that I had long forgotten. My ability to focus even improved. I was putting my life in order from memory, hoping that someday my grandchildren could read this blog and catch a glimpse of my life. While organizing and typing, it was so much fun because as I wrote, I could actually step into that scene in my past and see all involved faces. Before writing this blog, I was unsure that I could even recognize some of those mentioned if I passed them on the street.

Even if you do not want to do a public blog, consider doing a memoir or writing something where you put your life for someone else to read at a later date. You, too, will have brain cells open and you will feel years younger. I am serious! Think about this. Writing a daily journal might be another answer. That will help you write present-day information. Writing about your past to the present does something different. Even though it might be done very simply, I believe this exercise will open up brain cells you have not used in a long, long time. You will see your own difference.

As I looked back and wrote about the hard times that I thought I could not bear, I could see that those times did pass. As hard as those times were, what followed was more healing and gratifying than anything I could have imagined. Oh, it definitely took time, but I could see how miracles unfolded, and life became quite bearable again.

Always remember that favorite saying of mine. “Faith is the bird that sings when the dawn is still dark.” My blog showed me that faith was the strength of all of those struggles that I went through in my past. When I could not find my faith in the past, this blog helped me look back and see how faith existed. The healing and change I went through lead me to where I am now.

Today I believe that I have a strong foundation of faith that will guide me through my future in a good way. It does not mean that there won’t be difficult times. It does mean I will maintain “joy and gratitude within” during those times.

As I write this now, It is no longer “Faith is the bird that sings when the Dawn is still dark.” Instead, “Faith is the meadowlark that sings in the morning, signaling hope for bright and sunny days in my future.” Faith is something I used to call upon in the past when in despair. Now faith is something I call upon in my time of joy.

I have spoken and I am grateful for all of you! Please know it!

LESSON: Writing improves “thinking abilities.” This helps one focus, pull up words faster and remember names more easily.

GIFTS: I am writing again and have received so much joy. I see my past more clearly and am ready for all the gifts that will be coming in my future.

I see even more clearly how every loss brought gifts in my future. Thus, writing about both the positive and negative in a blog or a journal will help me remember to be grateful, have faith, hope, and always know God, my divine source, is so good.

Returning to Normal Life

So many thoughts kept coming to me about this experience of a vision quest. I could not, by any means, share everything with someone or you. To this day, I am still having “aha’s” about something that happened on that quest, as well as the other three that I did.

As that last sweat where we told stories ended, Gary suggested I make prayer ties for each of the animals I saw and all of the signs I received on the hill. After the feast, John helped me gather what I was to keep, and my part of we took for camping before the quest. He must have known how tired I was and realized that I did not understand how tired I was. After helping me into my apartment and getting me something to eat, he immediately said that he would head down the road. He left. I took a long shower and walked into the bed, and laid down. When I did so, I heard an Indian singing the four-direction song. I opened my eyes and still heard it. I closed my eyes and listened and fell sound asleep. When I woke up, it was 7 o’clock. I called Sally.

Sally came to get me, and we went to get a malt. She wanted to talk more about the Deva Kingdom lights that I saw. Did they represent “illumination” about life? Perhaps the three fingers lighting up had something to do with healing or writing and helping others. When I returned home, I again went straight to bed. It was now at 9 o’clock. I slept well and dreamed. John and I were standing on a big piece of land. I was handing John things, items that I could not identify. I was helping him prepare for the Sun Dance, helping him be ready!

It dawned on me how much Mother Earth helped me. At the beginning of the quest, when the people left me, not a single person looked back. I spread my blanket on the ground, sat on it, laid down, and dozed. I heard a rumbling in the earth. Was that noise in the earth? Yes, and it returned. I opened my eyes and saw that the clouds were beginning to move across the moon. But my warning came from within the earth. Then the lights came. I had lights coming from Heaven during the day and lights coming up from Earth during the night. Was these light attempting to tell me that what happens in Heaven also happens on earth or that my affirmation about creating Heaven on Earth can come about? If this happens for me, perhaps I can help others bring Heaven to Earth.

(I typed this statement about lights yesterday and went to bed thinking about all the blessings I have received since that first quest. Today my devotional quoted a verse I must have previously read several times in the Bible but did not truly see and relate to my lights. Today this verse opened up for me. It is from James 1:17. Both James from Heaven and the lights are important to me. I had a major dream about James of Heaven that brought a gift I will share with you later in a later blog. But look at this synchronicity. I wrote about lights in this blog yesterday and today opened my devotional to Friday, November 12, 2020, to read: “Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”)

The banana spider that caused me to pick my spot was the sign I needed to pick my spot. A banana spider is that black spider with yellow on it. It made its home and beautiful spider web on one side of my house’s porch. I spoke to it every day and would not let anyone touch its spider web. I knew it did not bite and that it ate mosquitos and helped in other ways. Then it was where I could watch it on my vision quest. The spider in the Native American way is called Iktomi. It is a trickster. When it appears, it can warn us about something that can be a mistake for us to do, something that we might say “yes” to when we should say “no.” Making the wrong choice, though, might end up showing us something about ourselves that we need to change, or it might create a lesson that we find ourselves repeating over and over again. So it might bring the negative that can lead to the positive; thus, it might be a trickster coming into our life when we are willing to learn from a mistake or be a healer when we see it in a new light. This spider worked its way onto every prayer flag and ended up in the South, where healing takes place. It entertained me during the light of day. I felt like there was healing during this time of fasting and prayer for mistakes I made during the fifteen years since Don’s death.

By Tuesday, I felt better. Gary came by. He told me not to worship my pipe. Use it to focus. He brought me a small medicine bag and said it included everything I received on the vision quest. He asked if I was still receiving answers from the signs shown to me during my quest. Yes, I definitely was. I shared with him about the eagles and what they possibly meant and about the butterflies, wondering what was in each prayer tie they landed on. We talked about the many yellow-breasted birds that came into my tree closest to me. Yellow represented the East and new beginnings, like when the sun comes up. Gary and Elizabeth were going to go with Janet to Texas. His last words to me before he left were, “Always watch for signs, Susanne.”

Finally, I began to do a few things on Wednesday to catch up on my work and prepare for John’s birthday party that Boston and Savannah helped me plan. It was to be in my back yard in Norman with a few of his friends from Pauls Valley and some of my friends he knew. Also invited were some of the people that we normally participated in sweats with. That evening John and I had a fantastic discussion. It was evident that he knew nothing about this party.

Sunday afternoon, everyone invited showed up for John’s party. It had only been one week since my hanbleceya, but I had to have the party before I moved. Phil and Susan Henderson came from Pauls Valley. Phil brought Ebony, an eagle that Phil had nurtured to health, to the party. Ebony was a total hit and a gift for everyone. John was truly surprised. when everyone began showing up. It was a fun time.

Monday was the beginning of my move to my apartment. The couple that purchased my house luckily walked through my home and purchased many furniture pieces that I could not take to my small apartment. I moved all week and had something like an estate sale to rid myself of so many other items that the new owners did not want. I was truly downsizing, and it surprisingly felt good. I would have no storage shed, just an apartment. I also let go of everything in the garage that had been boxed up since I moved from New Mexico, plus tools. Luckily, John was gone the next weekend. By the time he returned, I had my apartment half done. Both Cathy and Kathy helped me move, plus people that purchased my home. Then, the remainder of my move was done by five other women friends. We were all named Sue, Susan, Susie, or Susanne. The six of us were single and helped each other move whenever one of us needed to move. They were now helping me. This move was super easy with the six of us working together.

Each of their moves had also been this easy. We all noticed how interesting it was to do this with only women. We all automatically knew how to set up a kitchen, where this or that would go. It was good. However, we did have two heavy items that we needed help with, my desk and my bed. Two men did help with that.

Dawn and Johnny both came to see my apartment. They looked at how small it was, and Johnny said, “Okay, Mom, we get the idea. No more moving back in with you.” Dawn laughed and said, “Right.” We were all having fun. Each of them did move back in with me during their lifetimes, staying with me or later, John and me, for different reasons. I loved each time.

The apartment looked okay but was not finished. Thursday afternoon, I received an unexpected call from Gary and Elizabeth. They wanted to come to stay with me. I explained that I was no longer in my house and was now in a small apartment. They said that it did not matter. A friend of ours from Texas drove them halfway. I met them and brought this big Indian and petite blonde to visit me in my new apartment. I enjoyed them. Sometimes Gary would be in the teaching mode, and I became his only student at the time. I was blessed with a new understanding each time he shared.

LESSON: We all receive signs that we ignore. Perhaps we do not want to notice, or perhaps something might have to change if we paid attention to the sign/signs that we were being given. Once we wake up, open up, gain courage, practice acceptance, and only focus on improving Self rather than changing family or friends or a partner at home or work, our whole life begins to soar to a higher level.

GIFTS: God and Spirit are in the middle of every situation. To always remember, that brings more peace within, even when it is difficult. I had the opportunity to practice remembering this through all three long nights that brought wet and cold. And I felt so, so good afterward. I believe I saw my life, and the hard times, and lessons I was still learning. I had faith that complete healing was coming in my future with all that I was shown.

Another gift of this quest was the support I had. I asked for support. It was hard to do this, but I needed it for the quest. The fire had to be tended and kept going day and night. I did not know it would rain at the time I asked. Supporters would also eat and drink for me, and pray for me. I had some wonderful supporters that were willing to give up a weekend to support me. They each knew the importance of this quest for me.

Now Cathy and I knew about a “real vision quest.” I knew more answers would continue to come and be revealed during my lifetime.


A Real Vision Quest

In a past blog, I talked about going to Sedona to support a woman named Cathy to do her vision quest. Do you remember? Please note that this is not the same person as the Kathy I recently met at my first sweat. After I committed to this quest, I asked the first Cathy to support me on my quest. She definitely wanted to because she wanted to see what a vision quest conducted by a Lakota Native American looked like. Do you recall that the one in Sedona lasted only a few hours, with us stopping to get cokes and chips before going out to Bell Rock for the vision quest? Well, this one appeared to be quite different. Now, before you begin, know I attempted to shorten this. I am dividing it into two parts for you, but I still did not include all I wanted to share with you. Now, let’s begin.

Gary guided Kathy and me by phone through the preparation process with only a few telephone calls. Even though Kathy and I were both single and working, we each began gathering items for our vision quests that he suggested. One of our assignments was to pick up 400 stones. We spent multiple days together, picking up the four hundred stones that would be used for sweats during purification and the quest. We got to know each other well. Gary also told us to be certain to make a tobacco offering and say a prayer for the rock nation before picking up the stones. We decided to also pray with each stone about our vision quest as we carried it to Kathy’s Blazer, gently placing each stone in the back of her Blazer.We both wanted strong answers on this quest for us and the other two that committed to the quest when we planned to do so. When we were fully loaded, we had to drive more than an hour to the land chosen for our vision quest to unload the rocks just as gently. Multiple trips were required due to the heaviness of the stones and what her automobile held.

Gary also explained that we were to begin purification four days before the quest. I realized that I would be the first person to begin purification and the first one to go on the hill since I chose to go for three days and nights. As the time came closer, I felt like I had everything I needed except for finishing the remainder of my six hundred prayer ties. I remembered that when Gary told Kathy and me what we needed for this adventure, I almost panicked. Both John and Gary saw the look on my face. How could I get all of the things I needed? I also needed money that I did not have at present. I did not even know what some of the items on the list were! Both assured me that I had no need to worry, and I would be surprised by what would come to me and what would happen in my life to help me do this quest.

It all went back to “Have Faith.” Sure enough, everything did happen to bring this about. With guidance and an extra good check from sales for the month, I was okay. John gifted me his pipe, Kathy and I had delivered the 400 stones we prayed with. I also had the clothes I needed and the Pendleton blanket I purchased to use on the hill. Kathy had all the camping gear we might need. We only needed to stop on the way to purchase the food that Gary and Elizabeth could eat during their trip to Oklahoma to help us.

An unexpected phone call from Gary and Elizabeth came the day before purification began. They were already at Mary’s and asked if Kathy and I wanted to come sweat with them the next day. “Yes.” Even though I had just returned from John’s, I telephoned him to share the news that Gary and Elizabeth had arrived. Then I made my sage tea I was to drink during the four days of purification rather than water. Next, I enjoyed a long, hot shower because I could not touch or drink any water after midnight until my quest was over in seven days. After the shower, I had a cup of sage tea, and it was surprisingly good.

I thought about all that had happened in the last three and a half years since I began to work on “me.” I also thought about how things had worked out in the last two weeks. I sold my house for $100 above what I owed (thank goodness) and even rented an apartment. I had no idea what would happen during this quest, but I kept focusing on “trust the process and praying three times a day as Gary said to do. I also kept knowing all will be fine.” My life had been orchestrated perfectly to get me to this point, and I felt that my quest was already being orchestrated.

Kathy picked me up. When we arrived on the land, the fire was already started. The stones were almost ready. We greeted Gary and Elizabeth, set up our small tent, and dressed for the sweat as quickly as possible. During the sweat, Gary explained that the vision quest helps each person look over their lives; past, present, and future. He suggested that Kathy and I might want to remain on this land and camp rather than return home. He went on to share about lessons being presented to us during these four days of purification. It seemed that the lessons would come to us stronger if we remained at home working rather than on the land. He encouraged us to stay and not return home, saying that, at home, those lessons might come from people we care about. It would be better to remain on this land. We would have the same lessons here, but they would be more gentle. Kathy and I both had appointments for work the next day and explained that we probably needed to return home.

However, the next morning, things changed. Kathy showed up at my place, unannounced, and asked if my morning was as difficult as hers. It had been. We agreed we preferred to go camp and finish our prayer ties there. We canceled appointments. I gathered a few more items I needed, and we headed to our destination.

I finished my ties before the evening sweat. In that sweat, Gary told us to rise with the Morning Star and make prayers. He suggested that we might want to make friends with the morning star. On the third day, we chose our spots where we would be for our quest. I placed my big, red heart-shaped stone that Cathy gave me in Sedona in my spot. After the evening meal, there was another sweat. More people kept arriving. Early the fourth day, Gary sent me to John’s house to acquire something for him that he needed. John casually shared with me that he would be going to a reception that night and would not be at the sweat. He did quickly add that he would be there before I went up on the hill. I could not believe my ears, because he had educated me about how one supports a quest. Now he was attending a reception rather than coming to this last, important sweat! He also said some odd things unlike himself.

I realized this was part of my quest and exactly what Gary told us about remaining on the land. I needed to look at my feelings and my reaction. I also knew that I needed to work on something I was being shown during this quest. Was it about “my worth?” My feelings were hurt, and I was not happy as I returned to the land, but I still had lots of work to do before going up on the hill. Gary had told us how important it was to go on the hill balanced. Perhaps work would help me.

It was time to gather my trees, six fruit trees and one cedar tree. It had to be fruit trees to represent growth. Mary said that she would help me acquire my trees. She knew where there were prune trees. She was the perfect person to help since she owned this land. I made a prayer to the tree nation as I gathered the six fruit trees and one small cedar tree. The cedar tree had to be stripped with only about two feet of the top remaining. Four were to be placed in the four directions. The cedar and two fruit trees were to be placed in front of me when standing to pray facing West. I attached prayer flags to each tree. They would be right in front of me for the entire quest.

Finally, it was time for this last sweat before I was to begin the quest. I had all trees and a few items leaning against the sweat lodge that people would carry up the hill when I went. Just as we were about to get in, John pulled in to park his van. Sally was with him, and I was delighted to see both of them. John hugged me. He explained that he wanted to hug me now because after the sweat, I would be wakan (That meant holy in Lakota) and no one could touch me. They were both ready to sweat. Gary told me to get into the lodge and to sit in the East for this sweat. When Gary crawled in, he asked for the pipe John had given me. I passed it to him. Knowing it was a gift from John, he then cleaned it by making a prayer with it. We all watched as he filled my pipe with natural tobacco and gently handed it back to me. Gary then instructed me not to let it touch the ground during the quest, saying I was to keep the stem of the pipe always facing West when I was to be on the hill. He added, “Now that pipe is yours.”

Following the sweat, a few women remained in the lodge to help me change my sweat dress to my clothes for this quest. I held the pipe carefully. When I crawled out of the sweat lodge, A woman carefully draped my blanket over my shoulders, and Gary told me to guide everyone to the place I had chosen. All supporters that had been in the lodge for this sweat, and others that were going to quest for fewer nights and days, followed me to my spot. They carried what I had leaned against the lodge up the hill. No one said a word. Everyone walked in a straight line behind me, stopping four times to make a prayer for each direction: West, North, East, and South. Walking up this hill made me think about Jesus. I knew that I had relatives and friends that did not understand what I was doing. I also knew some of them were mocking me. Jesus had many more that mocked him during his lifetime.

Vision Quest, Part II

I arrived at my spot and stood facing West. My trees were placed in each direction and front of me. Next, my prayer ties were placed around my trees. They defined my area. I was to stay inside this space of about four by six feet until it was time that I return to camp. I had cleared a bigger spot, not knowing how big an area I should clear. Each supporter made prayers for me one at a time. Then they all turned and left. Gary told me that someone might come to check on me. They were not to talk to me, and I was not to look them in the eye. He left, and I was alone. Soon the weather began to change. Clouds covered the moon. The wind was blowing. All I had was a new wool Pendleton blanket wrapped around me, the one to present to Gary when this quest was complete.

It began to rain, and the night turned freezing. I covered myself and lay down to sleep. It was so wet. Not being able to sleep, I sat up and looked around. It was still raining, but there were three lights in the grass. No one was there but me, so I said out loud, “Are you part of the diva kingdom? I am so happy to see you. It is frigid. After visiting with them for a while, I said, “If you are part of the deva kingdom and have any friends that would like to come to join us, invite them.” I told more things to this little light before I laid back down. I was so excited. Could it really be a little light being from the deva kingdom?

I remembered when Sally mentioned the deva kingdom to me a few months ago. We were sitting in her kitchen at the table when she mentioned it. I said, “What, Sally, is a deva kingdom?” I thought she was talking about something mythical or perhaps women. She was not. She admitted that she had never seen one but thought she had discovered a place in New Mexico where they lived. In fact, John and I were going to Taos, and she asked that we deliver offerings to the place she felt they must live.(John knew Sally, my Al-Anon sponsor, and I could not wait to see his face when I shared with him that we were to make her offerings for her. He agreed to it.) I loved her next explanation that she shared with me about the deva kingdom. “They are little light beings that live under the earth. Their only light is within them. They had to learn how to radiate their own light to find their path within the earth.” Now, were these the devas she talked about? Did that offering work?

I had been doing affirmations for a long time about my own light shining brighter. Perhaps this little light came to teach me something. Still super cold, I sat up again. I was so, so cold. This time there were six lights! I thought, “Oh, Sally, you would not believe this!” She was down in camp being a supporter. She would love this possibility!. Those light beings stayed with me until daylight. I prayed lots and talked to those little lights, my new friends. They helped me through the night. The rain ended as morning came.

By mid-morning, the sun was out. Everything looked clean and crisp. I knew I had not been fasting long enough to hallucinate, but directly in front of me, I began seeing white dots in the sky while looking out over the land. They lit up like little stars. I sat straight up with attention! They immediately moved down into the earth and came up to form a symbol directly in front of me. I had to look fast to recognize the shape they were showing me. They went into the earth and came up again. Soon I learned that I could ask them if they could show me the same symbol a second time, and they did do that. They would go down into the earth and return in front of me, making the same shape twice. The process continued. First, show themselves right in front of me against the sky, then go down into the earth, and then come out of the earth showing a different symbol. This was better than a picture show!

Eventually, that stopped. I tried to remember the shapes shown. With it warmer, I was able to sleep some. The lights in the night and the day were phenomenal. I continued to pray and continued to say “thank you” in my prayers. I watched which direction the wind was blowing, what animals came into my view, where a butterfly landed on a prayer tie, everything. I knew I was being shown things about myself through each event. I also knew I would learn more about my vision quest and what I saw as my life unfolded when I returned to my regular life.

Night came and was just as cold again. The second night I thought my deva kingdom lights were not there. The night was again cold. I finally stood up to pray. When I pulled my blanket back to crawl back in, a 2″ space on my blanket lit up. Then when I put my hand down by my side, I noticed my three fingers on my right hand lit up. I looked at my left hand. It had no lights, but my right hand still had lights on the same three fingers.! I pulled my hand out, and all lights went off. When I put it back in, the lights went on. However, on about the fourth time I put my hand in to see it again, I said, “That can’t be!” And guess what, the lights turned off and did not turn on again the rest of the night. The rest of the night was cold and long. However, I did make it through the night with the help of that interesting visit of the deva beings. The day came, and my daytime lights returned. Everything was amazing to me! I napped, and when I woke up, two large eagles flew closely over me and circled above. They seemed to be playing tag with each other. Was that an answer to a prayer about a kind companion to have fun with?

The third night was again cold and wet again! No deva lights showed up to help. I started negative self-talk. Was I just crazy to do this? Gary had said, “When you come to the point of deciding between returning to camp and not continuing any longer, stand up and pray. Face your cedar tree and your fruit trees surrounding your space and look at all of your prayer ties. “When you complete your commitment, know that every prayer will be answered.” Billy came to mind, my young cousin that was 14 and had a drunk hit him on the first day he rode a motorbike to school. He was in intensive care for three months in a body cast. They told him he would not be able to do this or that or anything. I encouraged him not to listen. They even asked me not to encourage him, saying that he would never talk to us again. Billy was in some of my prayer ties. If Billy could be in that situation and come out of it, standing in the cold was worth it! Billy is alive, talks, and is a great young man in his forties today. He is in a wheelchair, but you should just see his smile and how he lives life! Obviously, I stayed!

My life had been a pattern of money problems, no money, money, no money, etc. So I thought about my financial patterns with money issues throughout my entire life, relationship patterns of my past, decisions I made about my children, etc. I prayed about all of this and a closer relationship with God and Spirit, to have a greater understanding of death and life, why some things happen to one and not another, and other questions I hope to be answered! I knew these answers would come.

I kept praying and praying, and finally, it began to be warmer. Mid-morning came, and my little star-like lights came again to show me shapes. I was afraid they would come to get me to return to camp before my show was over, but they did not. Soon afterward, Gary and a few people showed up to collect the trees, my prayer ties, and what was in my spot. They told me to head back to camp, sit inside the lodge, and not speak. All of us that did a quest seemed to be returning about the same time. Those that supported crawled into the lodge with us. No one spoke. When Gary crawled in, and the door closed, he began the sweat. After a prayer song, he asked each one to share what happened. It was amazing to listen to everyone’s story. Afterward, I changed into the new clothes I was told to bring and wear after the quest. Why new? Because we were new. Then there was a feast and water. I ate and drank lightly, presented Gary with my blanket, and gave all supporters a small present. The other persons that completed questing also did this.

LESSON: Open to answers. Allow yourself to receive answers. Ask your divine source for answers about your life. Answers will come. Do not justify a miracle away when an answer comes. Take all limits off for answers will come in many ways.

GIFT: My gifts were huge. We limit God in so many ways. God wants us to “ask, see, and receive.” Too many times, we allow a statement made by someone, belief parents perhaps taught us, or a teacher, or a friend, or a preacher to hold us back. God is so good. All that makes up the Holy Spirit and helps us amazes me!

I did make friends with the Morning Star. It is the first star in the morning. It shines when it is still dark so many times, just like we can. It is the dawn of a new day, a new beginning for each of us. How can I learn to shine in the dark or before the sun comes out in my own life! It teaches, supports, and brings new beginnings.

The rain at night and super cold at night represented the pain I have felt during long, difficult struggles in my life. The deva kingdom beings reminded me of the family and friends’ support during difficult times. They also reminded me that I, too, can shine my own light during dark times, and it is important to do so. Then the warmth that came following each miserably cold night brought the same feeling we have when the clouds in life lift, difficulties pass, and warmth returns to life.

When we go through a difficult time, we can stand up and pray and face the storm. Focus on all of the answers already received in life. Eventually, the warmth and sun will return to our lives, and life becomes better and better!

I learned that every time a supporter in camp ate or drank while we were on our quest, they prayed that those on the hill doing a quest receive nourishment. That is why I did not get hungry or thirsty!

I learned about my own foundation I was strengthening. It was four years ago that I fasted one day a week for four weeks for answers. Apparently, my God thought it might be good for me to fast three days and nights for answers. Then I went with Cathy to do a vision quest in Sedona two-three years ago! God apparently thought I needed a true vision quest with the guidance of a Lakota that truly was a Medicine Man, but never said that about himself. Pay attention to what you do and what God presents to you later. I believe that this gift from God is wonderful!

I knew I wanted to learn more about this Native American path I stepped upon. I had no doubt now. The vision quest was for me. I could not wait to see what the Sun Dance would be like!

Reflections About The Sweat And Coming Vision Quest

John took me back to my apartment. We visited, and then he returned to Pauls Valley to spend time with Boston and Savannah. I slept well and got up in the morning to think about my experience during this sweat lodge (purification ceremony) and what I had done when committing to do a traditional Lakota vision quest. Another lady named Katherine also presented a pipe to Gary after I decided to do so. She wanted to do hers in October also. Gary shared with us following the sweat, giving the two of us more instructions about what we needed to begin gathering to prepare for the vision quest. He then shared with me that this way was not for everybody as he said, “Relax and see what comes to my mind in the next few days. And, yes, you will do your vision quest for you committed to it, and I committed to helping you.”

I pretty much sat and stared at a wall with so many thoughts running through my mind. The salt that came out of my body due to the sweat might represent all that “stuff” within us. Then I thought of the story in the Bible of Lot’s wife. I thought, “I will not be left behind to turn into a pillar of salt.” Salt crystallizes, and then after it crystallizes, one cannot move. It made me think about not looking back, but looking forward to all I could learn. I saw shapes of a leaf, purple surrounding a heart, and many indefinable other images in the sweat.

Sunday afternoon, I laid down to take a nap and had an amazing dream. While I was asleep, someone came to me. She was standing over me on my side of the bed. She had brown hair, a peaceful, gentle smile, and was wearing a white dress. I tried to wake up, but she said, “Go back to sleep.” I kept sleeping, and then there was a beautiful feather at the end of my bed. I was in a queen-size bed, and it covered the entire end of the bed. It was beautiful. I looked at it. Where did it come from? I had never seen a feather that looked like the one on my bed. The feathers on this wing looked like the sun and the rainbow. The lady was no longer there when I looked up. Then I heard a live lady come in and call my name. That awakened me. I attempted to come back to reality. That dream was so vivid. It was one of my most amazing dreams. I had only dreamed a few others that seemed that real. Each one of them meant so much to me and my life!

I was glad I was awakened because I had to present a seminar that evening at a church in Oklahoma City on relationships. Before I left, however, I telephoned John and shared my dream. He suggested that I study a little bit about the Phoenix. As soon as I got home following my presentation, I began my study. I had never known about this mythical bird? I learned there was only one such bird that existed at any time. It had gold brilliant mixed with other colors, reddish, blue, green, and purple feathers. It was larger than an Eagle and had a life of 500-97,200 years. At the end of each life cycle, the phoenix burned itself on a funeral pyre. Another phoenix then rose from ashes with renewed youth and beauty. After rising from the ashes, the young phoenix carried its father’s remains to the altar of the sun god. The long life of the phoenix and its dramatic rebirth made it a symbol of immortality and spirituality. Real or Not Real? I did not care. Perhaps I was in the process of losing my life to create a new one. Perhaps this was about Sun Dance. I needed to listen carefully to my thoughts!

A telephone call pulled me away from those thoughts. Someone was interested in my house. I knew I had to sell 95% of my good furniture if I sold the house and moved into a small apartment. How would I do that? I decided that I would not worry. It had not been sold yet.

Monday, Kathy and I shared what led up to the sweat we both attended and all that had been happening with us since we committed to this vision quest. I shared with her first about our trip to Hawaii and how we met a Native American before getting to Kauai. On the first lap between Oklahoma City and Dallas, we saw an interesting, tall man that looked to be multi-race. I began concentrating on him and thinking about meeting him. John had a chance on the first plane to speak to him. When we got on the lap that took us to Hawaii, he was on there with us. (Try the concentration when you want to meet someone on an airplane.) Then we got on the plane to Kauai, and he sat down with us. It turned out that we were going to the same place. He lived in Kauai. His name was Stretch Howard Johnson. I mentioned Al-Anon, and he told us about a meeting we might like to attend with him. Talking a little more, we learned that Stretch actually used to dance at the Cotton Club with Lena Horne years ago and that he was now the Native American newspaper’s editor on the island. I shared with Kathy that this was yet another sign that I kept getting about a path I was not looking for! This Native American path was not what I intended. But I kept being guided to it.

I returned to my story about Stretch. We made arrangements to meet him one day to go to the meeting while in Kauai. We met, and afterward, he took us to his home to meet his grown daughter. They both put on their tap shoes and performed for John and me. What a gift. After their performance, Stretch took us on a tour of Kauai. Luckily both John and I knew what a diabetic reaction looked like, thanks to my mother and Pearce. We each grew up helping a family member with diabetes, and we knew what to do. So I guess that we shared gifts that great day! He went home, and we returned to the Westin Hotel to discover more swan feathers in front of our door wrapped so no one else could see them. There was a man taking care of the swans in the fountain in front of the Westin Hotel. He surprisingly gifted us after I told him how much I loved the swans. When the first feathers were left at our door, we made a decision. We passed champagne presented to us by the stewardesses as we left our flight to the person taking care of the swans. Every evening we discovered some more feathers at our door.

I had already learned that they completely let it go when they give a gift in the Native American way. It does not matter what they do with the gift that was given to them. Of course, that is the way one should always be when giving a gift. However, many also judge this. They resent that they gave a child or a friend a gift, and then they pass it to someone else or let it go. When we truly give, we completely let go. So we felt free to give this to Manny rather than open it.

On the way to look for stones, I just kept talking about all of this. She finally looked at me, saying, “I think we are going to have a great vision quest, and I do believe you just might have found the path that will bring you surprising answers.” Kathy had been doing this longer than me! With that, we began picking up the first of 400 stones we were to bring with us to our vision quest. We were both quiet while we did this. We were told to carry them to the car one at a time, making a prayer with every stone. We knew we this day would be only one of several days picking up stones.

LESSON: When we commit to what is good for Self, a miracle in life can be the result. Obstacles often come about with a commitment like this because our ego does not want us to change. I knew there might be frustrations and obstacles that might come with this commitment. There is a difference between a commitment and a promise. A commitment is made with Self, the Awakened Self that is connected to an Eternal Source. A promise is made between two people. A promise is easier to break between two people than a commitment to Self and my Eternal Source. It is important to commit to Self before committing to another.

GIFTS: Within each of us is a Unique Self. I felt like I was moving through the first part of another journey to help me reach within. Al-Anon was my first way. I knew there was more work to do as I connect to my Eternal Source and my destination. When I reach that, I can have peace within, and my life will be less chaotic. Knowing obstacles might come with my commitment to do a vision quest, I knew I had gone around many other obstacles in my life, and I could do that again.

When I presented that pipe to Gary, I committed to my Self. I just needed to surrender and trust the process as I participated in other sweats, followed directions, and walked toward the quest.

The dream with the woman and the phoenix feather came, I met some fascinating people, and completed my commitments in my work and Al-Anon that I already made! I also felt positive and supported.