Sun Dance

I had no idea what I was to do as a supporter for John and others during these four days of purification before the Sun Dance, but I quickly learned. We were so tired after that first sweat when we arrived that John and I just dumped everything out of the van and went to bed as soon as we could. It was good to see Spencer again, Gary’s Dad, and to meet some others. In the morning, we prepared the camp. I would be staying in our tent during the dance, and John would be in the men’s tipi. We might be able to greet each other if we passed one another, but we would not really be able to talk until the dance was over.

As I worked, I watched the magnificent tipis being raised. One large tipi was to be for the men, and the other would be for women dancers. All dancers were instructed not to touch the water and not to use sharp objects during purification. They were to drink sage tea. As a supporter, I quickly learned what I was to do. There were requests from the moment I stepped out of the tent that John and I put up until dark. Susanne, can you get me sage tea, help in the kitchen, go to town and pick up meat? Can you find colored cloth? At times, I felt frustrated, but then I remembered, “Do your best, and that is good enough.” The next day of purification, Gary asked, “Susanne, can you make prayer ties to go completely around the arbor?”

On the second day, we rose early and made breakfast for everyone. Then I began making prayer ties. Prayer ties are small pouches with a prayer in each pouch attached to one continual string of yarn. As the sun rose and became hotter, I was asked to go into town to pick up supplies. Anita went into town with me. Upon our return, it was back to prayer ties. I had two little visitors, Dace and Rae Dawn. They were 4 and 7. They quietly watched until I asked if they would like to do some prayers. Yes, they did! We each said our prayer out loud as I showed them how to make prayer ties. They were so proud. They also asked me how to pray. I explained that was the easy part. They could say a prayer for their granddad, their aunts, something they were worried about, or maybe the dancers for the Sun Dance. Dace said, “Susanne, my Granddad (Spencer) will be so proud that I know how to make a prayer tie. So here I was, sitting on reservation soil, teaching children being raised in the traditional way how to make prayer ties.

Allen, Anita, and I worked as a team as we were all from the Oklahoma group. When Anita and I left camp to get supplies, others were going to gather sage. Allen remained to help dancers needing assistance, plus he worked in the kitchen preparing the next meal. Dancers were to eat lightly for the four days before Sun Dance. When Anita and I returned, I always immediately returned to the tipi to work on prayer ties, and she helped Allen. Dace and Dawn often joined me until I finished. I looked forward to their visits.

More and more people kept showing up. I continued to watch and listen. Gary brought white people from Oklahoma. The rest were Native Americans. We were being tested. They seemed to ignore us and loved the fact that we were working hard while they were resting. Some may have been dancers, but we really did not know. I was quite aware that I was on a reservation with people that were different than me. It was my first time to be “the one they were prejudiced against.” They were watching me and waiting for mistakes that might confirm what parents and others had taught them about whites. A little boy started coming over to see me when I was sitting on the back of a truck. His Dad kept calling him back. He did not want him to talk to me. In town purchasing supplies for the camp, I stopped to get a coke. As I entered the restaurant, the few persons, all Native Americans, sitting in booths were laughing and talking until they saw me. They became silent and stared, never taking their eyes off me. I got my coke and gave them a kind smile as I left, but they did not return my smile. This was truly an opportunity for me to see what it felt like for so many people of color when they entered a place where others stereotyped them according to what they had been taught or believed because of a situation that programmed them to believe what they had been told automatically. All the way back to camp, I thought about how awful they had been treated. Part of what they had been told was true, and hopefully, all guilt and dislikes on both sides can eventually be released and healed. What is in our consciousness today?

Back at camp, Anita and I were asked to find gummy sap needed for the Sun Dance. We had not seen trees. We asked where to go, and they told us to find the trees. Obviously, this was a test. We left and did find the trees by turning in a different direction than we normally went—big, beautiful trees. We soon learned that where the tree’s bark had been damaged, maybe from a storm or perhaps a lightning strike, there was a gummy sap oozing from the place where the tree was hurt. It took a while to gather what looked like “enough?” Upon our return, we were proud to take our find to Spencer, Gary’s Dad, that had asked for it. He said that we did well, but they no longer needed it for the eagle bone whistles to call the eagles. They already had some. This confirmed we were sent on a treasure hunt to see if we could do it. However, we passed this test. Now we wondered what would happen next.

The following morning, everyone rose and dressed to cut the tree for the Sun Dance. We all gathered into pickups and automobiles to go to a place where there were cottonwood trees. A tree that stood tall was chosen. We stood silent as a young girl/young lady, a virgin, was handed the ax to make the first swing to cut down the tree. Then each dancer, including John, did the same. The ax was then handed to every person that had not yet swung the ax. When the tree was ready to fall, the dancers lined up to catch it as it came gently down. I watched as so much water was released from the bottom of the tree when it fell. I was surprised by the amount of water within it. The tree was never allowed to touch the ground. This entire ceremony began with prayer, and prayers continued. To my surprise, we saw that when we returned to the cars, some dancers and other men began to walk as they carried this large tree that just gave its life so the people could live. I thought about the healing that will take place, prayers that will be answered, and how the earth will be helped. When we returned to camp, the drum began. We all waited on the tree. I later learned that if the men had to set the tree down along the way, it would be laid on a bed of sage gathered a day earlier for this purpose.

When the tree arrived, it was laid down on a bed of sage placed so that when the tree would be raised and be in the center of the circle. Dancers and supporters placed prayer ties below the fork of the tree. Prayer Flags that were made were placed above the fork in the tree. No one was to step over the tree for that would dishonor it. Sun Dance leaders tied a bundle of chokecherry branches to the tree right below the tree’s fork. We all stood in awe and gratitude as this tree was raised. Then we all were able to wrap prayer ties we had made around the trunk of the tree. It was amazing! The tree looked magnificent. Then Gary motioned for John and me to bring out the bucket of red dirt from Oklahoma. We were to pour it around the tree.

That night we received a gift from above! As we stepped out of the evening sweat, we saw the Northern Lights. I had not ever seen a show like that before or since! After a while, we all headed to bed for tomorrow was the first day of the Dance. John headed to the men’s tipi, and I headed to our tent. Robert was also dancing. He also moved into the men’s tipi. Anita planned to stay in their tent but soon came to my tent and asked if she could move in during the dance. Certainly! We both felt like that was a good idea because neither of us knew what the week would bring forth while supporting.

LESSON: When one steps into a world that feels foreign, observe, listen, and think. Be kind and practice loving having no expectations. If a test comes your way from those unlike you, know that we all just might be changed for life regarding stereotyping each other. We all have red blood. We are all alike in so many ways. Kindness, respect, and discovering how we are alike can help us move the world’s consciousness to a much higher level.

GIFTS: I was so honored to be learning so much more about a culture I always admired and loved from a distance.

On my first date with John, we hugged a tree and told each other how we were like the tree we were hugging. Now we were watching a sacred tree’s life be taken. Its life was about to help so many others. That water coming out of the tree kept reminding me of the water within each of us. The sores on the tree that Anita and I found reminded me of our own hurts within that need to be healed.

Everything used for the Sun Dance is done with prayer. Nothing is taken without a prayer that is made for our earth and its replenishment. What if we treated all we used every day and each person we touched as sacred every day of our lives?

This experience of the Sun Dance was truly touching my heart, mind, body, and soul!

Can we get to the point that we can be like this Sacred Tree?

Trip To Sun Dance

The time had finally arrived for me to be a supporter for John and others. It was our first trip of many to Sun Dances in South Dakota. Kathy drove Gary and Elizabeth from Oklahoma to South Dakota about three weeks before John, myself, and others left for Sun Dance. They went early to help with preparations for the dance. This dance was something John and I ha individually been guided to attend. I had been waiting since that night when the Indian got in my car and told me that I needed someone to adopt me so that I could go to a Sun Dance.

We gathered all that we needed to take and were finally ready to leave. John picked me up in Norman. His van was packed with all that we might need to do this. We had everything from the proper attire for John to dance in, tent, bedding, clothes, and food, plus all that we might need to make prayer ties and prayer flags. We even had a bucket of red dirt from Oklahoma that we were asked to bring, plus other requested objects.

John’s van was packed from floor to ceiling. We met Robert and Anita at a truck stop in Oklahoma City. I had gotten to know them fairly well because they were a couple we had sweat with multiple times here in Oklahoma. Their car, too, was packed to the brim. They barely had room to sit. We all four were so ready to go. John and Robert had been to the Bear Heals Sun Dance last summer, but Anita and I had neither one ever seen a Sun Dance. We met each other in Oklahoma City, ate a quick meal, and then began our drive to Mission, South Dakota. In only a few hours, we were all unbelievably tired. It was dark, and we were on a two-lane road just past the Nebraska border when John suggested that we pull over, pull out our sleeping bags, and crash in the gully that he saw a small distance from the road. I told him that I was game if Robert and Anita were. They definitely were tired and thought it was a great idea.

I was laughing to myself while John was talking to them about stopping here. This was not what I visioned last year. I was thinking more about staying in fine hotels. And tonight, we were going to sleep practically in a ditch on the side of the road. Ha! But we were all so happy and were anticipating a great adventure. Walking a little past that gully, we saw a pond and decided to sleep on flat land rather than in the ravine next to the road. After settling in, I kept hearing buzzing. Mosquitos! Finally, I said, “John, we cannot sleep here.” Anita heard me and said, “Susanne, I agree.” I asked, “Did anyone bring any Off because I did not. Maybe we could make it if we have some.” Nope! Not one of us brought Off. What were we thinking? I wondered what else we might not have thought about. A little reluctantly, Robert and John agreed to climb out of their sleeping bags and return to our cars.

A short way down the road, we stopped for gas in a place that looked like it could have Off for sale. It did not. The night manager said that there had been a run on Off. Apparently, many had been in to buy it that evening. We stopped at another station. This time the station did have some. Thank goodness! We now had Off for the trip. With all of us fully awake, we drove to the next town. Soon we discovered there were no rooms available, so we headed to the police station to see if we could sleep in a park. “Yes,” was the answer. We all slept well for the rest of our short night!

In the early morning, we had breakfast and were about to begin a long trek across Nebraska when Robert suggested we stop and say a prayer about our whole journey. We all agreed that would be good since we were going to Sun Dance. When we stopped, I listened as each of us prayed. John prayed for patience plus other things. When he said “patience,” I knew I would watch to see if a situation would come to him that required more patience later. We returned to our respective cars. Valentine, Nebraska, seemed like a logical place for us to stop for lunch. When we asked the filling station personnel for a good place to eat, they suggested the Peppermill! So that is where we went. Now we had been on the road two days. I looked at how we looked. We made ourselves more presentable and entered.

It was packed. There was one table free. We sat down to order. I said, “I am going to go see if they know anywhere that we might get a shower because we are going to be unable to shower for at least eight days after we get to the Sun Dance grounds.” Robert, Anita, and John thought that was a crazy thing for me to do. I just smiled and went up to the counter and asked while John, Robert, and Anita laughed that I was doing that. The man at the counter called our waitress over and told her what I asked. Then the waitress came to our table and, in a loud voice, yelled, “Hey, everybody, these people need a shower. Isn’t that great?” The whole room started clapping and hollering, “Great!” The four of us knew we looked bad from our work and then the drive plus the night sleeping under the stars. But could they smell us, or what? What was this about?

Then we learned. The waitress turned her attention back to us. She explained that their Rotary Club and Kiwanis Club, and other individuals had contributed money to build a facility where people might be able to stop, go to the bathroom, shower, and make themselves presentable. It was right on the edge of town on the road that we needed to stay on to get to Mission, South Dakota. She also explained that everyone was so excited because no one had used it yet! We ate a great meal, got lots more comments as people left, and began our trek. We stopped at the edge of town, where there was a park, and we each took a shower. We were so impressed with the beautiful facility they created. The wood was even impressive! There were mirrors, electrical outlets, and even fresh flowers by the sink. Quarters paid for the water in the showers. We all took our time and felt great afterward.

We headed to Gary Bear Heals home outside Mission and arrived right at dusk. I had pulled out one sweat dress and one towel when we stopped to shower, so that I would be ready when we arrived if there was a sweat lodge about to take place. I had shared with Anita what Gary taught me about dressing modestly and not looking a man in the eyes. We found the Sun Dance ground and Gary’s house, pulled up to park the car, and saw that indeed a sweat was about to begin. John, Anita, and Robert all quickly changed and headed to the lodge. I was struggling. I took my clothes off to put on my sweat dress. With everyone in the lodge, I thought I could stand behind the door of the van and pull on my sweat dress. No one would see me! But just then, a huge gust of wind came. My dress flew out of my hand and across the land. I went running after it. Here I was, chasing the dress across the land, and I had nothing on at all! All other sweat dresses were in the far back of John’s van. Someone called “Susanne, hurry up.” About that time, Gary looked out the entrance to the lodge and said, “Susanne is chasing her dress. No one look.” I was horrified. I finally got close enough to grab my dress and quickly put it on. I then crawled into the lodge. Most were laughing A few that I had never met were definitely not laughing. I was horrified with my modest (ha!) beginning and entrance to this pretty Sun Dance land. I apologized and made a silent prayer while others began the singing. Then I felt at peace as the sweat began. This was only the beginning!

LESSON: Have no expectations when having an adventure. Flow with what happens and watch how it comes together. Remain kind. Stay aware and listen every day. Pay attention to every word said and, especially, to words I say.

GIFT: I made it this far and was about to see an actual Sun Dance. I knew it was up to me to learn by listening and watching closely.

It was a time to practice setting my ego aside and remembering that every situation during this adventure might not be happening to me. It might be happening for me “to learn” about this culture and the Sun Dance. I knew that God guided me to this for a reason.

A Magical 80th Birthday

Some friends learned from my last blog that John and I would both still have covid on my birthday. Others learned via the Pauls Valley grapevine. Food and help to overcome the Covid-19 began to show up on our front porch. Every need was being met without us asking for help. Some telephone calls came every day, wanting to know if we needed anything. Invariably, we had already received what we needed, and I had to say no. Some really, really wanted to do something for us. Friends brought farm eggs, venison stew, homemade chicken noodle soups, homemade potato soup, and other delicious meals, plus necessary items like toilet paper, paper towels, and even the peanut butter I love from Sprouts came to our doorstep. My heart overflowed with love.

I had been receiving cards over the weekend for my birthday. My daughter had been listening to what people were bringing us in Pauls Valley and telephoned on Sunday, saying, “Mom, do not let anyone bring food on Tuesday, your birthday. I was not going to tell you, but I decided it was best that I do. You and John are going to receive your dinner from Legends. They are personally delivering it to you in Pauls Valley!” I was shocked. It takes about forty minutes to get from Legends to our house. She also mentioned we would have entertainment with dinner, but she would not tell me anything else. She did explain that this present was coming from three of our four children’s families.

John and I were still in quarantine when my big day arrived. I even felt punky during the week but woke up feeling better on Friday. (A gift from God.) Then a long-time Norman friend brought a full meal of turkey loaf, green beans, scalloped potatoes, rolls, and an amazing chocolate pie with real whip cream. She made everything from scratch. The timing was perfect since we were finally beginning to like food again.

Saturday morning, the sun woke me up early! It was the 23rd. I felt even better! I knew it must be all the good food we had received all week and the prayers for health and help for both of us. Before heading downstairs, I looked out our upstairs bedroom window, where I can easily see our whole front yard. I saw something in the yard. I went downstairs and to check it out. I then showed John. He slipped on some clothes to go outside to see. All we could see were cute cut-outs facing the street. Someone had decorated! He took a picture. There was a “Honk to wish A Happy Birthday.” Then there were many placards telling people someone was 80. There was even a banner hanging on the rails of the front porch. Funny! We never heard anyone outside.

We had been eating breakfast in the dining room, sitting at opposite ends of the table every day. When I walked into the room, I saw a card John personally made me for my 80th sitting at my plate. I love that card. Decorating the table was the first wonderful flowers from another Norman friend. Those flowers also came with red lipstick, a basket of goodies to help us heal, and fresh asparagus. While John and I visited at breakfast, the doorbell rang. There was another beautiful bouquet from my cousin in New Mexico. Before we finished, there were other deliveries from a variety of people. John said, “Is this your funeral or your birthday?” Ha! Neither of us could believe what was happening. Telephone calls came, and wonderful cards arrived in the mail. On one telephone call, I learned who, with one of her grandchildren, decorated our yard so great! I had fun calling her immediately!

About 12:30, our Bonham, Texas, family surprised us. They had sent flowers the day before to throw us off as they were planning to come in person, driving 2 1/2 hours to sing “Happy Birthday” from the front yard and to present me with 80 personally made cards.

Then about 4:00, the food from Legend’s was delivered. It was caesar salad, steak, crabcakes, chicken crepes, chocolate mousse cake, plus more. At about 4:30, my cell phone rang. There was a male voice on the other end of the phone. He said, “This is Dave. I am your entertainment and will be at your house in about 8 minutes. We were not quite sure what time he was coming until this call, but we did know he was planning to entertain for about thirty minutes. Friends who apparently planned to sing “Happy Birthday” showed up at the same time he arrived. We told him that they were his pre-show. Perfect timing! He sat up his sound system while they sang. A beautiful birthday cake made by a local baker and another amazing bouquet of flowers also arrived.

I only wish I had known how good he was, so I could have told you to come to hear him. He drove all the way from Dallas! His voice was excellent, and he sang old music from the ’30s, and 40’s that I requested, 50’s and 60’s, 70’s, some country. Sometimes he sounded like he was straight from New Orleans. Good jazz! He also played a beautiful flute and guitar. People driving by saw what was happening and pulled up in front of our house. They sat curbside, rolled down their windows, and enjoyed. Neighbors came out of their homes and listened. The entertainer’s name is “Dave Washburn.”

As it turned out, people far and wide and local were planning a great birthday with multiple surprises. No one knew what others were doing. I still shake my head and think about this “magical” birthday with awe. I could not have planned it better! Every family member and many friends were involved.

LESSON: Do not hesitate to give gifts to others! Expect nothing in return. Do not hesitate to invite people to join you for a meal at home or in a restaurant! I think this is the way Spirit works. When you need something and when you are excited about life, have no expectations. Watch what God sends your way. So much of this past birthday week was totally unexpected! And fun! I am blessed, and you are, too! We love our family, and we love our family and friends!

GIFTS: Love and more Love. Happiness Beyond Words. All I can say is “thankfulness for children, grandchildren, and so many friends for an unforgettable and magical 80th Birthday!

Another big gift that came with this Covid-19 is “double immunity.” After our second shot, we will have triple immunity! Yeah!

Preparing for Sun Dance

It was Spring 1990, and we were all so appreciative of the land provided for our sweat lodge (truly a purification ceremony), and all that was happening there! We had sweats, and then Gary and Elizabeth would return for him to be a guide for a few vision quests. John and I both felt blessed to be able to learn from Gary and help support others. We learned more with each quest as Gary was an excellent teacher. We would all be having fun and sit down around the fire to visit. Suddenly, Gary would start sharing with us. He would draw on the ground to demonstrate what he was saying. Many of us paid attention to what he was doing. Others seemed to lose out on this gift. When doing this, he created a space for answers to come to each of us that sat and listened.

The sweat lodge was made with twelve willows. It represented the universe. The fire represented the great power of Wakan Tanka, the Holy Spirit, and everlasting life as it was the eternal fire. Rocks represent Mother Earth, and when the first seven are brought into the lodge with each sweat, the creation story is shown. The round dug out area in the center of the sweat lodge represents the center of the universe, and here dwells Wakan Tanka in the center of all. A mound is built between the lodge and the fire as dirt is taken from Mother Earth and placed above the earth. It represents the sacred path of life as the feminine is placed outside the lodge. Everything above the earth is masculine. We are all both masculine and feminine. Everything is.

When a sweat began, Gary sat by the door and touched each stone with his pipe as it entered. While doing this and pouring water, he took on a different demeanor. Wisdom poured out of him, and he seemed wise beyond words.

As the flap that makes the lodge door is closed, we all sit in complete darkness. The water that the person by the door pours on the hot rocks brings forth the sweat. I always found this interesting and good because I do not sweat when hiking or working in the yard all day. I never sweat. However, I sweat in a sweat lodge. These purification ceremonies seemed to purify us physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Every sweat was a different experience. More people learned about this lodge and started coming. Many returned, bringing their families and children to join us. I grew interested in watching the teenagers that repeatedly returned to purify. I saw changes in them and wished I could get all struggling teenagers to join us in this lodge.

I slowly began to understand more about this path, the Sun Dance, and how it all fits together. The dance is the offering of body and souls to Wakan Tanka, who is at the center of all things. Gary taught us that “Wakan Tanka is “Great Spirit (God).” He continued saying, “The Sun Dance is a very sacred ceremony. At the same time of the year, many will pray to Great Spirit in this way. For the dance, a circle is to be cut out of rawhide and painted red to represent Mother Earth, for she is sacred. Upon her, we place our feet, and from her, we pray. Another circle is to be cut from the rawhide and painted blue for the Heavens. Then from that same rawhide, cut the form of a buffalo. He represents people and the universe.”

He continued, “At the dance, there will be a huge tipi with sacred sage all around. Each male dancer will have an Eagle Bone whistle. At the end of each whistle, an eagle plume will be tied. When the whistle is blown, remember the voice of Spotted Eagle, who represents Wakan-Tanka. A crescent moon is to be cut from rawhide for the sweat, as well as a five-pointed star that represents the sacred Morning Star. A rawhide circle should also be made and painted red again, but at the center should be a blue light circle representing Wakan Tanka. The light of the sun lights up the universe and reminds you that you are bringing light into the world.”

He then shared, “When you are dancing, one makes spirals into the center and then spirals out. Whenever one returns to the center, they are returning to Wakan Tanka, who is the Center of Everything. A dancer may be told to sleep in the evening on a bed of sage against the center pole. That dancer is to get up in the night and go again to four quarters, returning to the center each time. All the while, he is to send his voice in prayer. Always be up with the morning star and walk towards the East, pointing your pipe stem toward the morning star and ask for wisdom.”

Thus, we learned that the Sun Dance is “Looking At The Sun” and is one of the greatest rites. It is held at the Moon of the Fattening (June) and the Cherries Blackening Moon (July). This dance is a way of prayer. Dancers pray from sunup to sundown. A dancer has to be careful lest a distracting thought comes to him. Yet he must be alert to recognize any messenger the Great Spirit may send to him, for these often come in the form of an animal, even one as small and insignificant as an ant. All creatures are important, for, in their own way, they are wise and can teach us much! Most important of all are the winged ones because they are nearest to the Heavens and are not bound to the earth.

Everything has a spirit or influence which can be given to us if we are attentive. Walking slowly, the dancer goes to the West, offers a prayer, and then returns to the center. He then goes to North, East, and South, always returning to the center. After completing this, he raises his pipe to the Heavens, asking the winged ones and all things to help him. He then points the pipe stem to the earth and asks aid from all that grows upon our Mother. All-day long, the dancer does this over and over, constantly praying out loud of silently to himself or herself.

Gary shared that whites will be tested, especially white girls. We were going to be attending his family’s Sun Dance. The U.S. Government terminated the Sun Dance in 1904. Native Americans were not allowed to have this ceremony for seventy-four years. They were only able to begin having the Sun Dance again when religious freedom was restored to the Native Americans in 1978 with the Indian Religious Freedom Act’s passage. When John danced, and I went to support him, the Sun Dance had only returned for twelve years. Rarely had whites been allowed to attend, much less participate. I began to understand why the Indian I met thought I had to be adopted to attend this ceremony to bring healing to the earth, the world, and the people upon it. I felt humbled that Gary invited us to attend.

LESSON: Pay Attention to Signs and Allow God and Spirit to work.

GIFT: I learned more about the masculine and feminine within each of us and that everything is masculine and feminine.

I also understood more about the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual parts of Self and Others plus what needs to be healed through Sun Dance.

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

Photo by Trung Nguyen on Pexels.com

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

Photo by GEORGE DESIPRIS on Pexels.com

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!