Transitions Arn’t Easy. Best to Take Your Mind Off It.

11930957_10153591547250856_6033306536110665900_oI wrote this, then didn’t publish right away… so a few days late. Darn.

Here it is almost 20 days later from the first time I posted something in my new Denver digs. Thought I would be better about writing… oh well.

Life so far has felt “normal” in the sense that I am doing my chores, cooking my meals, sleeping in my bed, and getting by. I’ve noticed there have been a few things that made me thought, “This is it. I do this thing and I’m ‘declaring’ a new home.” These “things” have so far included washing clothes, opening a bank account, getting a library card, drilling shelves into the wall… each time I’ve felt a little more “nailed down” to where I am now. It brings about a mix of emotions. I guess it’s a good thing to be finding these small grooves, but at the same time I still miss South Dakota.

I felt a little step in my progression to find a “bigger groove” when I joined in an open mic last week. I played a couple of originals in front of a mostly greying audience, which they all seemed to enjoy. The facility itself, Swallow Hill, is folk and americana based, so the audience tends to be a little older. However, I do like the atmosphere and they seem to do some cool things, so I hope to be more involved there.

12006680_10153581496315856_7691007652019669492_oJoining in ultimate frisbee games and going on night hikes with total strangers are just some of the ways I’m attempting to make friends, experience new things, and find my place here. It’s only been a few weeks since I’ve arrived so I guess this transition is going at a normal pace. You always wish that it would speed up, though. And having my Facebook newsfeed flooded with news of South Dakota makes my stomach hurt on occasion.

This happened last time I moved away from South Dakota. And I never did feel like I found my place in the new environment at the time. Maybe I gave up too soon, but I also know that I was meant to go back to SD. These last two years were meant to happen and they’ve guided my journey more than I can express. I have a feeling that SD will always be calling me back. But for now I need to figure out what the Denver Anna is like. I’m here. It would be foolish not to make the most of it. So, to wrap it all up – transitions are not easy and sometimes it’s just best to take your mind off it (like actually doing things and ultimately transitioning).


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Posted by on October 4, 2015 in Denver Days


Denver – Day 1

City_Park_Panorama_2Seasons have passed since I last wrote in my digital diary. For the last two years I was an Artist in Residence in a young adult volunteer community on the Rosebud Reservation. I wrote and performed music, solo and with a band, created commercials and PSAs at a local radio station, assisted youth groups and after school programs, and helped with church functions. I liked it – living on the prairie in a peaceful home with a beautiful view of the sky. I liked the people I had gotten to know there – the locals, the volunteers, and wanderers. I liked the culture – going to pow wows and celebrating the many stages of life.

But all of that changed yesterday. Yesterday I moved from a tiny South Dakota town of 1,200 people to the adventurous city of Denver, Colorado. I have a new apartment with a new housemate. Soon I will have a new bed and new furniture (because up until now everywhere I’ve lived, furniture was provided). I will be in charge of my finances and bills, my employment, and my obligations. This is the first time in my life I haven’t been a part of an official program. This is a complete change of lifestyle. I am completely on my own. And it freaks me out.

I woke up this morning with a plan – go grocery shopping, hit the thrift stores for furniture, research local banks, get a library card, etc… I also took my time getting ready for the day. Before I knew it my clock read 11 in the morning and I hadn’t done any of that. I quickly realized, as I stared at the front door, that I was scared to leave the apartment. Not because of the neighborhood, but because of all I had to face today. I had to face a new environment, new people, new schedules – something I had done numerous times before. But for whatever reason this felt different, and as I said earlier, I was freaked out. As I write this my nerves still feel a bit shocked and my stomach a little uneasy. Adjusting will take time. I never denied that, but I wasn’t expecting to feel this out of place, nor this “homesick” for something familiar. I had visited Denver many times before. I liked it. It made me want to move here. Now I’m here. What’s up with this?!

I think part of my fear is the knowledge that I have nothing to retreat to. What was home is now someone else’s home and I’m out (granted it’s of my own choosing). I have to make this work. I’m committed now. At least for now.

And so I begin my adventure in Denver. I have a part time job producing videos (more on that later), and I will be pursuing a career in music. Plus, a life in Denver is not a life without adventures in the great outdoors!! This year will be an experiment. I’ll be testing my self-motivation and dedication, my sense of responsibility, my ambition, my spirituality, and my adultness. Yes, I question my ability to be a real adult. Guess we’ll find out pretty soon…

That’s it for now. I hope to write more regularly as I figure out this new lifestyle. Stay tuned!

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Posted by on September 10, 2015 in Denver Days


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Racism: We’re not getting the whole picture!

8688172745_5729def4a1_nI live on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota where I help with a youth program once a week. Last week one of our students was teasing his cousin (with very insulting phrases) for being part Mexican. Of course the other adults and I addressed the kid immediately and told him that what he was saying was racist. His response was, “But she’s not black!” (That’s a direct quote, there!) According to this child, slurs towards a person because of their race only counts as racism if the targeted individual is black.

Recently there’s been a story circling local, state, and Indigenous news circuits about 57 native children who were harassed at a minor league hockey game in Rapid City, SD (see an article here). This story was then followed up by an article by the Rapid City Journal titled “Did Native Students Stand for National Anthem?” Bloggers and other individuals responded urgently that the Journal’s article was justifying the racist behavior towards the children and demanded an apology, which they got a few days later. You can read a news report about the responses here. I think “anger’s some” is an understatement (and you’ll notice that the only people interviewed were white… couldn’t even bother to get a Native’s opinion).  Last I heard, they’ve identified one of the racist men at the hockey game and have brought charges against him. We’ll see what happens next…

Last fall there was a relatively small wave in the social justice circles calling for the owner of the Washington Redskins to change the racist name of his football team. It got some media attention, built up a small movement… and we still have the Washington Redskins. There are still efforts being made to persuade Daniel Snyder, but have you heard of any of them lately? I really haven’t. Every now and then I catch wind of something with that and I think, “oh good, that’s still going on” like I had forgotten it was even happening.

Meanwhile, around the country we have incidents like Michael Brown’s killing in Ferguson that has the nation in a fury! Ferguson dominated the national news for months! It still gets national air time! Rallies, discussion groups, and community events are being organized around the slogan “Black Lives Matter!” There’s a hashtag setting off twitter storms. Amidst all of these national “Black Lives Matter” rallies, a “Native Lives Matter” rally was held in Rapid City, SD on December 19th, 2014. Bet you didn’t hear about it, or of the Native man who attended it and then was killed by police the next day (read article here).

I am not writing this post to diminish the honest and needed work behind the #BlackLivesMatter movement. I’m with you on that one! But I’ve had a lot of conversations around this topic with people lately and needed to get some thoughts out. I’m just trying to spotlight the fact that there’s more to the racial issues in this country then what popular media has decided to focus on. Not that it comes as a huge surprise to some of you, but now I see a VERY scary consequence coming out of this focused, although well-intentioned, cause – children of all colors (like the kid in my youth group) are getting the idea that racism only applies to one race (Black) and that racial slurs/behavior of any kind targeted at other groups is justifiable. Did I mention the child in my youth group is Native?

Even Martin Luther King Jr. acknowledged that racism included indigenous people. He once said,

“Our nation was born in genocide when it embraced the doctrine that the original American, the Indian, was an inferior race. Even before there were large numbers of Negroes on our shore, the scar of racial hatred had already disfigured colonial society. From the sixteenth century forward, blood flowed in battles over racial supremacy. We are perhaps the only nation which tried as a matter of national policy to wipe out its indigenous population. Moreover, we elevated that tragic experience into a noble crusade. Indeed, even today we have not permitted ourselves to reject or feel remorse for this shameful episode. Our literature, our films, our drama, our folklore all exalt it. Our children are still taught to respect the violence which reduced a red-skinned people of an earlier culture into a few fragmented groups herded into impoverished reservations.”


I don’t know what the answer is to this problem. I am white. I have not experienced racism. Maybe it’s not my place to write this post. Like I said before, I don’t mean to take away the importance of the #BlackLivesMatter movement or strip the identity of these different racial groups and smash them into the same category. I’m trying to recognize that each group has their own history, their own struggles, their own solutions.  But I am wondering how some people can proclaim #BlackLivesMatter and then go to a Redskins game. There is a very apparent double standard when it comes to the strife for racial equality in this country. There is a common problem and we need to address it before the next generation grows up. I’m nervous for these kids…

Below are two videos that do an excellent job of demonstrating this double standard in racial acceptance. Please comment with your thoughts. Your voice matters as much as mine.


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Anna Robinson and The Suitcase Set at the Folk Off

I’m so excited!!! 😀

Anna Robins

Summer is a time of festivals, jamming around the campfire and competing in awesome folk battle-of-the-bands!  At the end of July, myself and The Suitcase Set will appear at the Strawbale Winery Folk Off just north of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  We’re bringing a driving rhythm and fun harmonies in a set of original songs and popular, folk favorites to the plains.  Winners of the competition headline the Sioux River Folk Festival the following weekend.  We’re out to have fun, make some good music, and make new friends! If you’re in the area come to the festival, check us out, and help support Friends of Traditional Music and Nashville Songwriters Association International.


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Posted by on June 16, 2014 in Uncategorized


There Is Much Left to Do

The last couple weeks I’ve spent some time exploring the different activist groups and their events around the rez. For such an isolated area you wouldn’t think much would be going on, but I’ve actually found it to be the home of some major issues that not only affect the local people, but people around the world.

2800-Keystone_Pipeline_RouteA couple of weeks ago I visited the Spirit Camps – a compound of tipis set up as a spiritual presence along the Keystone XL Pipeline route. It’s sponsored by Shield the People (Oyate Wahacanka Woecun) and existing off the efforts and donations of volunteers.  My housemate and I went out there one Friday afternoon with the hand-game team from Sinte Gleska University and brought some donations like paper towels, toilet paper, and coffee.

IMG_20140418_190430There weren’t a lot of people out there, and those who were around were in the dining tent with hot soup and fry bread waiting to be blessed and broken.  After we unloaded our donations we were invited to join them in the meal.  A prayer was offered in Lakota and they began to eat.  My housemate and I joined the hand-game team in a few rounds of the game before we ate.  I learned the game last summer and I still feel like a beginner compared to their confidence.

While we were eating we met a young woman, Lesley, who is following the route of the pipeline, blogging, filming, and talking with people about the issue.  It was nice to meet someone so dedicated to the topic – sleeping on the ground, hitching-hiking, living off the kindness of these other concerned citizens (you can read her blog about the Spirit Camp here).  There were a couple other people like that in the camp. One guy from Montana had just arrived to stay for the weekend in solidarity with the cause.

After visiting with the camp I was more motivated and eager to get involved in the cause.  It was soon after that I heard about Moccasins on the Ground – a weekend of prayer, fellowship and networking, and training in direct action.  It turned out that I was headed to Pine Ridge that weekend anyway for another event, so that Saturday we just made a little detour up to Red Shirt where the training was taking place. We arrived just as the group was finishing up a prayer, then we hopped into a small group discussing non-violent action.

IMG_20140426_151720This group was led by some activists, one who had been a part of Greenpeace actions, and included demonstrations and hands-on examples of different protesting techniques. I had my neck changed to someone else in a stance to block a gate.  It was uncomfortable and I couldn’t move much. Others were chained to fences and some stopped a car from getting into a parking lot – all in a safe and controlled environment. I did find the training interesting along with adjectives dancing around words like “radical” and “extreme”.  It certainly had my blood pumping a little bit.  However, I’m not sure this is the kind of protest I would get involved in, unless I felt it an absolutely necessary last resort.

We ate a great taco lunch, listened to protest stories from activist veterans and ran into Lesley, again!  We were only there for a grand total of three-ish hours, needing to get back to Rosebud before it got too late, but I’m really glad we made part of it.  It was a beautiful day and a good instigator for further reflection on the different ways and need for action.

IMG_20140426_162347On the way back home we stopped at a Badlands overlook and Dairy Queen (ice cream was essential to our survival), but not before we passed by a small river on the Pine Ridge reservation with a bright yellow sign by the entrance of the bridge.  The sign read “WARNING: Radioactive River”. I had heard before, and some people brought it up at that day’s training, that uranium mining was polluting the rez’s water ways, and thus poisoning the water source for many people and animals in the area.  Uranium pollution, oil pipelines…. the South Dakota reservations are facing some very tough and dire circumstances, and that’s on top of the historical and race induced poverty.

If anything was learned by these experiences, it’s that there is much left to do, and there are strong, dedicated people putting every effort towards change.  I could be one of them.  I’m going to see what else I can do… and you can, too.



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Sleepless in Seattle

Sleepless in Seattle

To everyone’s shock I haven’t seen the movie (gasp!).  But nonetheless their title also works for me, because I just got back from a quick, three-night trip to the Seattle area and I’m exhausted!

Saturday my housemate and I flew out of Rapid City airport at 6 am, connecting in Denver, before arriving at the Seattle airport where we waited for a shuttle to take us to the Tulalip Resort Casino on the Tulalip Reservation.  This was the location chosen for Winter Talk – an Episcopal gathering of clergy and lay leaders from across the country representing Native and Indigenous ministries.  Folks came from Oklahoma, North Dakota, Alaska, Nevada, Wisconsin, and of course South Dakota.  It was a couple of days getting to know other people, many from various tribes, learning about different cultures and customs, and exchanging ideas.  I really enjoyed meeting the other participants especially those with ties to the Rosebud Reservation (where I live now) and the Green Bay area (where I use to live). It’s resulted in many new friendships and contacts that I hope continue moving forward.  But that wasn’t the only great thing about this trip. The place itself was one to remember!

PSX_20140218_010402The resort is by far the nicest place I’ve ever stayed. Big rooms beautifully decorated with local tribal art. A BIG screen TV that I enjoyed watching the olympics on every night. A huge window looked out from our spot on the seventh floor towards the east, where on a moderately clear day, we could see the lower end of the Cascade Mountains.  What I could have done without was the Casino. I’m not one for gambling and it was really noisy.  Plus the food is so darn expensive.  My heart was hurting a little bit knowing my stipend was going to buffet that I could barely finish a plate from.

IMG_20140216_163421We did not get to see much of the surrounding land, but took in what we could get – the edge of a very lush, green, and wet forest.  It does rain A TON, but that didn’t stop us from getting some refreshing air that smelled like spring pines.  The mountains were calling my name in the distance and I was very disappointed that I could not go greet them, but promised that I would be back to play another day.

PSX_20140216_143100PSX_20140218_111241We also learned some things about the local tribes.  Tulalip is the name of the land (the reservation), but the area hosts many tribes with names I didn’t catch.  The last night we were there we went to the Hibulb Cultural Center where we saw displays of what life was like before colonization and many more beautiful art pieces.  I really like the style of art there – big, bold lines, usually using black with distinct, contrasting colors.  We heard some local stories including how a couple of orca whales saved one tribe from starvation (by destroying the seals that would hog the fish supply). The orca whale is a very prominent symbol of the area and is beautifully depicted in their native art.  The only whale I saw was the statue outside the resort.

All in all, it was a nice trip to the West Coast, one that teased me by how short and fleeting it was.  I did promise the mountains that I’d be back, and I intend to hold my word.  But I haven’t even mentioned one the best parts of this trip. The airport!

IMG_20140215_131916I love airports.  Love, love, love airports. I love being around other travelers, especially ones who are willing to chat with you while you’re waiting to board or while in the air.  I love the planes.  They look so beautiful and graceful to me, especially against the natural landscapes of the earth below (taking aerial photographs is one of my favorite things). And I love the fact that being in an airport usually means I’m going somewhere and that’s always exciting!

The flight back from Seattle was particularly interesting.  We flew from one major airport to another, Seattle to Denver, without talking much to anyone.  Most people were wrapped up in a book, napping, or preoccupied with whomever they were accompanying. And that’s fine.  I passed a lot of the time writing some new music (I was actually quite productive). But once we landed in Denver and boarded our tiny, jumper plane to South Dakota, the atmosphere changed drastically.  The whole plane was chatty!  People were reaching across the aisle.  I saw strangers help some elderly find their seats and store their carry-ons.  I saw a high-school student pass the flight by talking with the grandmother sitting next to him.  I chatted with the woman sitting next to me.  The flight attendants were really friendly and had a sense of humor I hadn’t seen on any other planes.  They cracked jokes while giving the safety instructions, which probably doesn’t sound good, but a majority of the people being from South Dakota appreciated the references.

There are many reasons I love South Dakota.  I’ve mentioned many of them on here, but I’m adding this flight to the list.  You don’t get company like this in the bigger cities.


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A Shot of Unconditional Love

I didn’t have a name for it until I talked with my parents.  We had the usual Sunday chit-chat: how are things going? What have you been up to?  I may never feel bored, but my life here is as much routine as I have ever experienced.  Go play with kids this afternoon and that evening.  Help at the radio station this day and maybe a little that day, as well.  And the stuff I do there is the same: read books, input programs in the system, play games, make a commercial.  I don’t usually have a good story for our phone catch-ups.  We often discus things I’m trying to digest from my experiences here, embedded in the day-to-day activities.

1488267_662935623729422_152042853_nMy experiences here include volunteering at the local Boys and Girls Club one afternoon a week; reading, playing music or games with kids after school.  I am also part of a team of people who organize a Christian based youth program for kids in the area once a week.  Every week we have dinner together, play some games, say (or sing) some prayers, and discuss a theme for the day like God in creation, friendship, and Jesus the Superhero (that week was fun).

Lately what I have been digesting is the joy and frozen-in-time kind of peace I’ve been feeling whiling playing with the kids at these programs.  Like I said, I didn’t have a name for it.  It’s kind of a mystery to me, for I like (and value) my time away from kids.  They can be overwhelming and often want to do things I don’t want to do, like elementary crafts or reading (two things I admit I’m not so fond of, but do anyways).

What do I like to do with kids? Be goofy.  Listen and chat with them about what’s going on in their lives, but mostly be goofy.  I’m not great about giving advice or teaching new things, but if someone needs an ear or a funny character out of one of their books, I know I can help!  The reactions; the smiles, the laughter, the interaction, the hugs make it so rewarding (just note that this character acting will not be delivered to anyone over the age of 13).  Even the thought of some of these kids brings a smile to my face and I look forward to seeing them the following week.

As I explained this phenomenon to my parents, my Dad replied like it was so obvious, “Everyone needs a shot of unconditional love now and then.”  That took me aback for a moment.  I hadn’t thought of it that way.  Walls usually erect to keep up acceptable appearances around my age group and those older than me, fall like Jericho when I am around these kids.  I let go of any worry or fear of being accepted.  They make it so easy.  They are just happy to have someone to play with.  Someone who shows that they care.  In that way I guess I am also showing some unconditional love.

What I hadn’t realized until recently was how much I needed it as much as they did.  Our country puts a great, weighing emphasis on independency and I believed that I could stand like a pillar, do everything myself with little reliance on anyone.  But as I get older I realize more and more that I am not made of stone or marble.  These kids found and brought out my soft side, much to my relief.


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Posted by on February 6, 2014 in A Rez-ident: Rosebud Edition


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Anna Montana

Growing up we had a puzzle of the United States and each of the pieces were a different state.  I’ve loved geography since I was really little and every time it came to put in the Montana piece, I’d freak out. “Montana!” I’d yell with excitement.  I have no recollection as to how I became so enthralled by this state, but for the longest time I’ve been waiting to see it in person.  And now I finally have!

IMG_20140117_163804Late Friday evening 14 people including myself piled into four cars and headed west towards the setting sun.  It took us about 9 hours to drive across South Dakota, cut the corner of Wyoming, and cover a good chunk of Montana, but eventually we reached the little town of Red Lodge at a very late hour.  I would never have guessed it, but the drive looked very much like South Dakota all the way; beautiful, but similar.  Where were the mountains?

IMG_20140109_220530We found them the next morning.  Red Lodge butts up against the very edge of the rockies.  Still wiping away the sleep from our eyes a majority of us got ready to hit the slopes.  Did I mention the main purpose of this trip was to go snowboarding?  SO EXCITING!  I had just gotten a new board, boots, and helmet for Christmas and I was eager to try them out.

IMG_20140118_122606The ski resort was pretty busy, but the area is still a little under the radar so we didn’t have to wait long in lines or scramble for a table at lunch.  Even though this was only my third time going snowboarding, I skipped the bunny hill and figured a beginner’s slope would work fine as a refresher.  It was as refreshing as the powder snow swiping my face with every fall.  I was lucky enough to have a friend talk me through some new tips and tricks to perfecting my ride.

After the first run I followed her from one lift to another until we found ourselves at the very top of the mountain looking over the vast space of eastern Montana.  It was a beautiful view and we were looking forward to a long run down before lunch.  Unfortunately the run was mostly made up of black slopes (advanced slopes) and I had to brake most of the way down.  I’ve never worked my quad muscles so hard in my life!  But about half way down the mountain the workout became a necessity.  Lunch was well deserved.

The rest of the day I tried to practice turns and switching edges on the board, but about every 500 ft. I would intentionally fall on the side of the slope, because I greatly needed a break.  I was so tired and worn out after that second run that I couldn’t get through another run without purposely wiping out for some relief.  The greatest skill I probably gained that day was controlling my falling.  Not the worst thing in the world.  I just waved at the better riders as they passed me by.  Nice.  I’ll get there eventually.


The day ended sore and used up in the best possible way, with a bright, gorgeous sunset over the mountains.  We headed back to the hotel and finished out the night with a little white chili (so yummy) and a jam session.  Day 1 in Montana was a success.

IMG_20140119_140048Day 2 was going to be another day on the mountain for most of the group, but not for me.  I woke up with thoughts of, “snowboarding is awesome! I want to practice my edges!”  But my body was saying something different in the form of stillness.  In the end I caved to my protesting legs and chose other activities for the day.  A group of us went to the local wildlife sanctuary and saw many animals popular to the area and was serenaded by some coyotes and a wolf.  Then after lunch I walked around downtown with some friends, stopping in a old-time candy shop glittering with antique decorations and a book store with a tea bar.  That day finished out with some time in the hot tub (trying to help those poor, sore muscles) and dinner at a pizza cafe (gluten-free!).  Day 2 in Montana was also a success.

IMG_20140120_132606On the drive back the next day we took a different route that went mostly through Wyoming.  We cut through the Crow Reservation, which is a very beautiful stretch of land untouched by industry, but it challenged our bladders for a few hours.  We stopped at Devil’s Tower before entering South Dakota.  I had been there before, but it’s such a unique sight to behold that I could visit it a thousand times more and still be awed by it’s towering presence.  (Tip for future trips: National Parks are free on Martin Luther King Jr. Day!)

We drove on into the night and finally reached the reservation where wind had dropped the temperature far below the beautiful 40-degree weather we had experienced in Montana.

I slept well that night, feeling refreshed and just happy to be in my bed again.  Red Lodge was very teasing.  We were just at the edge of the rockies.  There was so much more to see!  Guess I’ll have to go back…

For a little more taste of my weekend in Montana see video below —->


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Welcoming 2014! And the Anatomy of 2013

It’s been a couple of weeks since New Year’s, and I’ve meant to write this post sooner, but if it’s still in the month of January, I still consider it New Year’s season.  I did manage to write in my journal on New Year’s Day.  I had been looking forward to it for several weeks!  Take a couple of hours to just sit, listen to some calming piano music, reflect on the past year, dream up the one to come….  I think New Year’s might be one of my favorite holidays!  (I will admit that I’m just a holiday person in general; I like celebrations.)  Indeed it took several hours to go through my journal, to read past entries, rediscover the epiphanies and transparencies.  My flannel pillow and quilted star blanket make it easy to sink into the moment and I was lost in the memories, hopes and fears of 2013.

I remember celebrating New Year’s at a house party in D.C. a year ago.  Some friends and I were spontaneously dubbing the new year with whatever random thought came into our heads, “2013: The Year of Awkward Glances.” “2013: The Year of Board Games.” “2013: The Year of Potato Chips.”  If the new year to come was truly to be determined by that party, I’d be about a hundred pounds heavier and locked in my room researching conspiracy theories.  I do remember randomly telling a friend at one point, “2013 just sounds like an awkward year, you know?  Like the century is going through puberty.”  It was a humorous thought for some young adults at the time, but oddly enough, it kind of fits my year pretty well.

You know how when you go through puberty you start realizing that you are an individual? That your personality digs deeper than just the smiley-face backpack you wear to school?  That there’s more to you, more to life, than what you had previously experienced with your younger siblings? You start wondering, exploring, understanding abstract ideas that were just complete nonsense before.  You start realizing that as much as life is a rapid ride down a river, with its ripples and waves, you do have a paddle!  So, you start figuring out what path you want to take, when to slow down, when to work hard, when you need a team, or when a team needs you.  The whole entire world that once was a blur of environments now becomes more focused and you start wondering why you’re standing on this patch of gravel, rather than that other patch.  It can be a very awkward time with its trials and errors.  But always full of surprises, welcomed or not.  It’s puberty, after all!

This rapid ride, this exploring never ends.  Hence the “lifelong journey.”  And change is just a part of life, but puberty is when it hits you in the face and you have no option but to deal with it.  I admit I had an identity crisis at 13 years old.  Yup.  Suddenly TV, cookies, or biking on a sunny day could not distract me from the big questions that were popping into my head!  And a similar slap of reality happened this past year.

I was born into adulthood several years back when I graduated from college, I thought I would take one year, maybe more, to expand my understanding of what was out there in the world.  I pictured myself trekking along a highway, backpack and guitar strapped to my back, opening up my time and energy to whatever came along.  My childlike wonder was fascinated and distracted by new things, new experiences, and new teachers.  I’ve visited three countries abroad and added more US states to my been-there-done-that list. I’ve tried, and scratched off, three career paths and have been the country and city mouse.  I’ve also realized my spirituality is more than just a gathering for an hour on Sundays.  And then 2013 came along….

That childlike wonder is definitely still present, trust me.  However, come January 1st, 2013, I suddenly felt… older.  Maybe I was just tired from the night before.  But, I also felt more aware of myself, and as the next few months went on I faced the same question over and over again, “Where do I belong?”  How many of your pre-teen, teenage-selves asked that question?  That question, was actually asked in the form of many other questions, but that’s basically what I was getting at: “Who am I and where is home?”

I was struggling with my life in DC, but felt lost looking forward.  I just knew that after several years of being the stranger in a new land, I think I wanted to try finding a place that felt more me, giving up my adventurer status for the title “community-member.”  It took a lot of reflection, writing many songs later, but come summer I finally had chosen my river and I was ready to paddle.

My wonderful parents helped me out and we agreed, after moving from state to state all my life, that it might be a good idea for me to find a situation the I could see myself staying in for longer than ten months.  I was ready for a real home.  (Growing up we did live in towns we called home for several years, but it’s been several years for me since that’s been the case.)  So, I came back to South Dakota, a place that I have a special affection for after my year in Pine Ridge.  I’ve been very blessed to have found a situation that not only is helping me connect with the community, live a stable life with antiquate housing and food, but also is allowing me to explore what I believe to be my true calling in life.

This was also part of focusing my once blurry world.  Instead of trying out different jobs that I thought, “oh, I could do that” I’m actively seeking a career that I have long wanted, but thought too elusive to even try to pursue: writing music.  I’ve invested in equipment and have set aside “working hours” to specifically labor on projects.  I even bought a textbook (didn’t think that would happen so soon after graduation) on recording and music production.  It’s challenging, and there have been times where I’ve been discouraged, but I find that I’m enjoying the learning and every new opportunity feels like a present on my birthday.

Going through the century’s puberty last year was difficult and about as emotional as I remember the first one to be.  But coming back to South Dakota after having been home for Christmas last month, I realized that I was happy to come back, that there was no other place I wanted to come back to.  Honestly, it’s a new feeling for me at this time of year.  And while life will continue to change, and I will continue to question existence on this earth, I am content with where I am.  I realize it may be a few (or a very many) years before I can financially swing a trip abroad again, but surprisingly, I’m okay with that.  I have no doubt that this adventurer will have future calls to the wild and unknown.  But for the moment she’s just taking in the adventure that is home and community.

So, YAY 2014!  I’m so happy to see you.  After that long, awkward description of my past year you are invited to keep reading, but I understand if you can’t.  Maybe check back later because I have a few exercises I’ve adopted as New Year’s activities that you might want to consider.

So, as part of my New Year’s celebration, that I was looking forward to for weeks, I pulled out my “In 2013…” list I wrote in my journal a year ago.  You might call it a bucket-list, but it’s more than that.  It includes self-improvement kind of things as well as new things to try.  Just to give you a taste of how successful my year was, I was able to check-off:

  • Launch my music website (
  • Visit a new place (South Africa)
  • Do not lose the light
  • Smile more

Like most years I need to do better at adopting an exercise routine and journaling more often.

Once I went through that list I moved on to my second New Year’s list: “Things to Remember in 2013.”  This was more of a reference for me to look back on throughout the coming year, referencing revelations I had in the previous year:

  • When you’re down, listen to or sing a song.
  • There will be down moments.  It’s allowed.  Just don’t let it drag and shadow the light.
  • Cleanliness can do wonders for the soul.
  • Facebook is not going to make things better. Getting off it and doing something else will.

I think I got through 2013 alright, and after reading those lists I was ready, and excited, to make new ones for 2014.

In 2014…

  • Learn to let go
  • Be more patient
  • Learn gardening
  • Read more books
  • Go to a new place
  • etc…

Things to Remember in 2014:

  • Assumptions really do no good.
  • Share your gifts, that’s why you have them.
  • Cleanliness can do wonders for the soul.
  • Facebook is not for killing time.  Log-on with a purpose.
  • You just never know.
  • etc…

As you can see, I have a very personal battle with Facebook.  And I realize that a clean bedroom is refreshing even though I’m not always motivated to make it that way.

Well, this has to be one of my longer posts.  But an entire year is a long time to cover!  Especially from my perspective.  My time in DC already feels like ages ago.  I also tend to have “Aha!” moments while I’m writing, which was definitely the case this time, so that just added to the word vomit.  But I’m not apologizing; not for my long blog post, and definitely not for my enthusiasm for the new year!  Hello 2014!  Bring it on!


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A Troubled Spirit

IMG_20140105_142053I have been very blessed to have traveled quite a bit around the holidays.  My car has gone through more tanks of gas, more miles, and more tires (I will explain) than it has it quite sometime. And that’s what this post is about.  My car.  It’s name is Spirit and lately it’s been recovering from some problems.

It started about a week before Thanksgiving. I was leaving the radio station, reversing slowly out of my parking spot.  When I motioned to shift gears I realized quickly that my brakes were not working.  Panicking, I slammed the car into park before it could roll down a hill.  I did manage to get it back to the parking spot, me and it unharmed, but I had to wait for someone to come pick me up, and another person who was kind enough to come look at what the trouble might be.

Quick fixes didn’t do much and my car sat in that parking lot for a few days while the South Dakota snow monster returned for another blustery party.  I finally arranged for a mechanic to take a look and made a plan with my housemate to get the car to the garage 15 minutes away.  This plan meant going 30 mph on the highway, blinkers running, with the community van following behind me.

I drove very slowly on that rez highway, rubbing my fingers in front of the heat vents.  It was one of those moments where you just had to ride time like the lazy river tube ride at the water park; no way you could make yourself arrive at your destination any sooner, so just sit back and relax.  I didn’t completely relax because I had to be aware of the icy patches on the road and slow down as much as I could going down hills, but I did sing along to some tunes.

The car shook every time a driver flew by at the speed limit.  There were quite a few, and out where cops, and people in general, are scare, drivers tend to have a heavier foot.  But usually there is at least one type of car you’ll pass on the rez highways and they all have the same features: slower pace, older model, mild to severe damage, and fading decor.  I quickly realized that on that day, that car was me.  I happened to fit the description quite well given my speed, but also the different colored hood my car bore thanks to a very mild accident a few years back.  When my friends discovered my manual locks they official dubbed it a rez car.

My guess is that every car I’ve ever passed out here, passionately questioning their 30-below speed or lack of lights or turn signal, was moving as quickly as they could, riding that lazy river, just trying to get where they needed to go.  My guess is that they had the same worries I had driving: will someone ram me coming over a hill?  How will I ever pay to have this fixed?  And how will I continue my work if I don’t?

I was blessed to have answers to my questions.  My car was taken care of and I was able to put many more miles on it.  But I will never again criticize the slower driver.

IMG_20131223_110255Unfortunately my car problems were not over.  One of my front tires shredded on the interstate heading home to Wisconsin.  I had been slipping on roads for weeks.  I blamed the roads but apparently it was my car’s fault, for in the end all four tired needed to be replaced due to ware.  But my Spirit is still alive!

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Posted by on January 6, 2014 in A Rez-ident: Rosebud Edition


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