Wednesday, August 26, 2015

One Heart. One Mind. One Drum.

Yesterday I returned to the trails I used to walk with Ahnung. I walked with the pup my sweet Ahnung led me to ... Ishkode. We walked and we walked and we walked. I was unaware of how far and how long we had walked till we got back to my car -- 3 hours later!! No wonder little Ishka's tongue was hanging out on the side and she was very thirsty! :)

I needed to take time to reflect and to pause and to listen. I needed to re-ground myself. Ahnung taught me so much about just Being .. about listening, observing and being aware of her surroundings. There was a Way about her -- a very wise Way. She is my rez dog and she has led me to my work with tribal nations. Over the past 4 years I have been immersed in working with the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe in northern Minnesota. It has become Home to me on so many levels. I don't know where my life's journey will take me, but what I do know is that must never lose sight of my north star, my Ahnung. I have also come to embrace the Seven Sacred teachings, embraced and practiced by Anishinaabe people and indigenous people.

Humility • DibaaDenDizowin
Honesty • gwayakowaaDiziwin
Respect • manaaji’iwewin
Courage • zoonGiDe’ewin
Wisdom • nibwaakaawin
Truth • Debwewin
Love • zaaGi’iDiwin

There is so much beauty and wisdom in Indigenous Ways .... thank you Ahnung for being my guide and leading me to a people and a nation who have now become my people and my community. 

Ahnung ... I ask for you to continue to guide me and to teach me. 

"If you listen close at night, you will hear
the creatures of the dark, all of them sacred 
- the owls, the crickets, the frogs, 
the night birds - and you will hear beautiful songs, 
songs you have never heard before. 
Listen with your heart.
Never stop listening.”

~ Henry Quick Bear, LAKOTA

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Ahnung's 2 year anniversary - Grief visits again

Today is the 2 year anniversary of when my soul dog Ahnung crossed over into the spirit world. I remember that day (August 25, 2013) as clearly as it was yesterday.

As I prepared for that day, I wrote and I wrote and I wrote. It helped me walk through and try to find peace when my heart felt like it was being shredded to pieces; it helped me to listen, really listen to the wisdom of Ahnung as she guided me through this Final Walk. I share some old writings as I learned to make friends with Grief, and I write a new one today on the 2 year anniversary ... Sweet Ahnung, you are always, always in my heart:

Anticipatory Grief: Making Friends (December 27, 2012)

Grief walks up to your front door. It’s not time yet, you say. Yet she keeps on walking. She walks past the rose bushes in your front yard. She walks past the boulders you’ve carefully laid in her path. She walks past the detours you’ve planted to steer her around you and away from you. This time She is focused. And the rain is pouring and thunder is booming as the earth shakes and vibrates.

“Please,” She says, “I need shelter. I need to come in -- if only for a moment. “

Reluctantly, I let Grief in. I offer her a cup of warm tea. We sit by the fireplace.

“Why have you come?” I ask. “It’s not yet time.”

“It’s time. I am by myself tonight. Tomorrow I may not be alone. I may bring thousands of Me and there will be nothing you can do. We will break down your door. We will drown you. “

She pauses for a moment.

She strokes my dog Ahnung.

“Sit with Me now.”

We share stories. We cry. We laugh. Ahnung lays between us. A calm breeze permeates the room.

“It’s time for me go,” Grief says.

“But we have so much more to share,” I say.

She smiles. She rises, and Ahnung walks alongside her. Ahnung stops at the front door as Grief turns around to face me.

“I will be return. I may come alone, or I may bring a friend. Now, go be with Ahnung.”

We melt into the breeze coming through the open door.

Anticipatory Grief Visits Again (Mar. 3, 2013)

You came to visit me again last night.

Most days I see the clear blue skies, I catch my breath when I look up into the night skies, and I walk with my feet planted solidly on our earth.

Is it too much to ask for the World? For the Universe? For eternity …. For strings of days to never end with my sweet Ahnung? Is it too much to ask for Cancer to step to the back of the line? Is it too much to ask for the Love, the Wisdom, the Resilience, the brightness of Ahnung to shine on forever?

Dear Grief, I respect you. I honor you. I know you have a place in this world and in this universe. I know it’s not my place to negotiate with you. Yet when the earth shakes below my feet and when the ground moves and the tremors knock me off center, I desperately grab onto Ahnung. Last night, it was just an earth tremor. How many more tremors will I walk through with Ahnung? How many more tremors can the ground beneath us withstand until the inevitable quake on the horizon arrives? How many more tremors will I be blessed to endure before the ground beneath us splits open and swallows Ahnung? And will I be swallowed too? Will I be swallowed by the pain of You, dear Grief, as I desperately hold onto my soul, my Ahnung, as she slips away from me?

How? How do I accept, with grace, this Final Walk?

Grief looks me in the eye.

“When the earth shakes, and the ground beneath you falters, look up into the skies. Look into Ahnung’s eyes. Look up at the North Star. I gift you with the tremors.”

“Ahnung is in your heart. You are One. She is in your blood. She is in your bones. She is in the Earth. She is in the Air you breath. She is the Fire inside of you. She is in the oceans, the rivers and lakes, the rocks. When she is gone, she will live on in you.”

I hold onto Ahnung as the earth beneath us stops shaking. I bury my face in her thick neck. I hold her. I hold her as tightly as I can. I hold her again.

Anticipatory Grief … Here to Stay (August 24, 2013)

Grief knocks on my door again. Ahnung greets Her at the door. This time she arrives with bags in hand.

“It is time.”

She opens the door, takes my hand and leads me outside.

We get down on our knees. She places one hand over Ahnung’s heart and one hand over my heart.

And she repeats to me what she said months earlier:

Ahnung is in your heart. You are One. She is in your blood. She is in your bones. She is in the Earth. She is in the Air you breath. She is the Fire inside of you. She is in the oceans, the rivers and lakes, the rocks. When she is gone, she will live on in you.”

I look into Ahnung’s eyes.

Grief takes my hand, “It is time. We must begin the walk.”

In the dark, we are guided by the north star and the slow, steady beat of our hearts.

My old friend Grief visits again - August 25, 2015

Grief knocks on my door again.

I let her in.

“Let’s sit on the patio.”

We reminisce. The summer breeze brushes again my skin, and I know Ahnung is with us.

“The wound is the place where the Light enters you” ~ Rumi.

I ask my old friend Grief, ‘Will you ever stop visiting me?’

There is only Silence as Grief looks gently into my eyes, reaching into my soul.

My friend Grief is Ahnung. My friend Grief is a doorway. Ahnung is on the other side, and in the moments she comes to visit me, it is a gift for me to step through the door and to Be with Ahnung.

I answer my own question, “Dear Grief, you are always welcome in our Home.”

I visit with Ahnung. We walk. We are simply there with each other.

“Thank you Grief for the Gift of visiting hours to the Spirit world.”

She smiles as she gets up, and as quickly as She arrived, She disappears … until her next visit.

"Go and find yourself first
So you can also find Me.

Don't run away from grief , o soul
Look for the remedy inside the pain.
because the rose came from the thorn
and the ruby came from a stone."

~ Rumi

Photo by Sarah Beth Photography

Photo by Sarah Beth Photography

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Life's journey - uncertainty, trust, intention, purpose, passion

It's been a while since I have written for my blog. My blog ... my writing ... was such an important part of my journey as I prepared for the eventual crossing over to the spirit world of my soul dog, Ahnung. We are approaching the 2 year anniversary of when I held my sweet girl, surrounded by friends and a community, as she took her last breath and set her body free. It is time to begin writing again.

The pain, the grief of losing Ahnung was so deep but my sweet girl taught me so much about living, watching, listening ... Being. Letting Go. And that first night without her I wanted to run from the pain; my heart felt like it was being put through a shredder. That night, I prayed that my heart would stopping beating so I could be with my Ahnung. I wanted to drink again. I wanted to numb a pain I didn't know what to do with, but then I kept 'hearing' and experiencing and feeling Ahnung's presence and energy and wisdom .... asking me to simply 'Stay. Be.' 

And I promised Ahnung I wouldn't run from the pain and the darkness and the demons that would rear their ugly head (alcohol, old ways of coping ...). My prayers changed, 'Ahnung, I need you. Teach me to feel you when I can't see you. Teach me to listen and to keep my heart open.  Teach me to be okay with standing still, closing my eyes, and trusting, that yes, this pain shall pass. Teach me to ride the waves of grief, to make friends with grief, to honor and embrace that which hurts me and scares me ... Teach me to simply trust, to let go, to Be Okay with having you ripped from my life ... my heart ... just 5 short years after you came to be with me. This chapter has ended, but you tell me, there is still so much more to come in the Book of Life.

It has been a journey. The waves of grief almost drowned me but I could feel Ahnung's energy and presence every step of the way. She was my life jacket and my guide through the darkest moments. 

On October 11, 2013 (just 6 weeks after Ahnung's crossing over to the spirit world) and on the 5 year anniversary (October 11, 2008) when I met her for the first time at Red Lake Reservation .. I believe she guided a puppy to me. There were many times I remember saying, 'Ahnung, I wonder what you were like as a puppy.' Ahnung was around 2 years old when she came into my life in 2008 (many thanks to a dear friend and a Red Lake elder, Karen Good, of Red Lake Rosie's Rescue). She had just had a litter of 8 puppies and we soon found out she had heart worm, lymes, coccidia, no front teeth (apparently grinding it down in search of food), and pellets in one of her nipples and in her chest. Karen told me the day she introduced me to Ahnung, 'There's something special about this one, Marilou.' And exactly 5 years later, Karen happened to be at Leech Lake Reservation with me when this puppy was surrendered by a Leech Lake tribal member. The puppy looked so much like Ahnung. I did NOT want a puppy nor was I ready to bring another dog into my household ... but there were too many signs I couldn't ignore: she was the first surrender, she looks just like Ahnung, the day the puppy is surrendered happens to be the exact day (October 11) of when I first met Ahnung. There were actually 2 puppies surrendered but I felt an immediate bond to this one puppy. I had my other Leech Lake rez dog Legacy with me and he does not do well with all dogs so I told myself, if Legacy doesn't like this puppy then I can't bring her home because my commitment is to Legacy. The first time Legacy met this little puppy, they immediately bonded. I am sure not a coincidence .. the work again, of Ahnung. 

As I struggled with what to do, I received guidance from two elders. Karen Good (Red Lake elder) said to me, 'Marilou, sometimes it's not up to us' .... and a friend who is a Leech Lake elder said to me, 'Pray to Ahnung. Ask her to guide you.' 

I didn't feel ready but I asked Ahnung and it was clear I needed to bring this puppy home. She also guided me to name this puppy 'fire' in ojibwe, and so I did .. I named the puppy, Ishkode (Ish-ko-day). 

It became clear to me why Ahnung brought Ishkode (aka 'Ishka') to me and why she wanted me to name her 'fire.' This puppy was a bundle of energy and full of fire. She made me laugh (and yes, made me scream in frustration as she would drag gutters off of my house, dig her way out of the yard, drag shovels and dog houses around the yard ...). Ahnung gave me 6 weeks to grieve, and then she dropped a puppy in my lap. It's almost 2 years now since Ishka has been with me and there is no doubt she has her own personality but there is without a doubt Ahnung's energy, spirit and wisdom sprinkled and in her being. 

I now know why Ahnung brought Ishkode to me. Yes, to help me in my healing journey and to bring joy and laughter into my heart again .. but now I realize that it is also because Ishkode needs to continue the work she began up at Leech Lake Reservation. Ishka needs to continue her work of being an ambassador dog for reservation dogs, to help in healing, and to be a voice for her people ... so Ishkode and I are now working towards becoming a pet therapy team. 

There is a new chapter beginning in our Book of Life. This chapter reads, 'Ishkode: Igniting the fire of passion and purpose.'

In a volunteer capacity, I have been actively involved in animal welfare for the past 9 years. My work and passion have now expanded to being a voice not just for animals but for tribal nations. Ahnung has guided me to take on a new role as Vice President of Community Healing Programs for The Native America Humane Society and with Ahnung's guidance and the fire of Ishkode, my hope is that I can be of service to tribal communities and indigenous people and their animals.

Stay tuned for Ahnung's work to continue, through the spirit and fire of the little Leech Lake rez puppy she chose .... may the adventures begin!! :)

Ahnung - photo by Sarah Beth Photography

Ishkode - October, 2013
Ishkode - August, 2015
Ishkode and Legacy - rez buddies

Thursday, January 1, 2015

I will keep walking with you Ahnung

I went back to an old blog post i wrote in January, 2011. As I welcome 2015 I find myself reflecting on the year 2011. Where was I emotionally, spiritually, physically at the beginning of 2011? Was I prepared for what was to come?

From my January 31, 2011 blog post:

To love ... and not lose myself

Part of my lesson for the next stage of my life's journey is to learn to love, and not lose myself. It begins with simply really finding out, discovering and creating who I am ... and once I am able to do that to be solid and centered enough to truly trust that my own voice matters. We learn from every experience, every friend, and every relationship.
There's a beautiful quote by Rilke I love:

"To love does not mean to surrender, dissolve, and merge with another person. It is the noble opportunity for an individual to ripen to become something in and of himself. To become a world in response to another is a great immodest challenge that has sought him out and called him forth."

I learned so much from my trip this past summer swimming with wild dolphins in Bimini, Bahamas. I had no idea how life changing and transformative it was going to be for me. Early in 2010 I had also met with my astrologer ... she said something that has remained with me ... she saw death (and surgery) in my chart and thought that my relationship had ended. I said no, everything was great. I was more concerned with my ongoing health issues. She was relieved to know that my relationship was doing well. My session with her was the impetus for my booking the wild dolphin trip. She told me "you better learn to play, to save your life." She asked what I have always wanted to do ... I said "swim with dolphins ... wild, free dolphins." The dolphins gave me the courage to find my voice, and then to speak my truth.

As I reflect back on the year, she was right about both things ... the ending of my relationship and surgery. I am going back to see her tomorrow. When I called to schedule my session with her about 6 weeks ago I shared with her that she was right after all, and in tears I shared with her that my relationship had ended. Compassionately, she said "i'm so sorry. Marilou ... walk the earth." It was exactly what I needed to hear at moment ... walk the earth Marilou ... stay grounded. And so for the past 6 weeks I have walked the earth and I have placed one foot in front of the other, doing the best I can to keep moving forward.

I have walked through grief, loss, fear ... and some major health scares. I have reached the edge and in the end I have learned that I am much stronger than I thought I was, but most importantly I have learned that I do not have to go through the difficult times alone. I have God, my faith, my furkids (Ahnung, Missy and Mister) my family, my friends and an extremely supportive and loving community. Thank you all for loving and supporting me through some very difficult times.

And so today, January 1, 2015 I find myself reflecting back on my journey. There is no doubt in my mind Ahnung came to me to help me heal and to walk alongside of me on this earth so I could move forward and into the next stage of my journey. In January, 2011 I moved into my current house in Bloomington.. the first home I ever purchased and owned on my very own. It was house with a massive yard and one that Missy, Mister and Ahnung all loved. So much space to run and explore.

Little did I know what 2011 had in store for me.

My health challenges continued but in May, 2011 I learned I had a rare heart disease with poor prognosis and one that would lead to heart failure. How much time I had was unknown. In fact, a lot was unknown. It was also in that month that I was beginning to venture down a new path ... the beginnings of a non-profit I co-founded, Leech Lake Legacy, an organization serving reservation animals and the people who love them. It was a cause I was extremely passionate about but one that would consume my every available waking hour. I found myself asking the question, 'if my time is limited, is this what I should be doing?' And with guidance from my spirit dog Ahnung, my answer was YES! And then in July, 2011 my sweet Ahnung was diagnosed with cancer.

For two years after Ahnung's initial diagnosis with cancer we walked side by side. Through surgeries, diagnostic and medical tests (for both of us) we vowed to embrace every moment we had together and to celebrate life as if there was no tomorrow. If I could blink and bring Ahnung back, in physical form, I would do it in a heart beat. I know she is always with me, and she has given me the gift of Ishkode to remind me she is here with me and that my work must continue. Ahnung taught me not to run from the pain ... to embrace that which scares me and to fall into it. I also believe I am alive today because of Ahnung. 

I don't know what 2015 has in store for me. I don't know what Ahnung has planned for me :)

But dear sweet girl, this I know ... whatever journey I am meant to walk; whatever path I am meant to walk, or to create; whatever window I am meant to look out into; whatever rock or crevice I am meant to lift, or move, or simply stand or stay with ... whatever my journey is meant to be for 2015, whether it is to keep walking this earth and continuing the work you began (through me) with Leech Lake Legacy, or to do some other work, or to be with you, I am with you sweet girl and I am listening to you. Continue to guide me Ahnung as together we step into a new year!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Light .. in the midst of darkness

This morning the following poem appeared on my Facebook wall .. a post from the A Year of Being Here page and a link to the following blog post:

The Unbroken
By Rashani Réa

There is a brokenness
 out of which comes the unbroken

a shatteredness
 out of which blooms the unshatterable.

There is a sorrow
 beyond all grief which leads to joy
 and a fragility
 out of whose depths emerges strength.

There is a hollow space too vast for words
 through which we pass with each loss, 
out of whose darkness we are sanctioned into being.

There is a cry deeper than all sound
 whose serrated edges cut the heart
 as we break open
 to the place inside which is unbreakable
 and whole
 while learning to sing.

I immediately thought of Ahnung ... of our journey together from that day in July, 2011 when I learned my sweet girl had cancer. For a little over two years from that day (and until she crossed over to the spirit world on August 25, 2013) ... we walked, we cried, we celebrated .. and there were many moments where my heart shattered into a million pieces, and I couldn't contain the pain in my heart as I thought of a day when I would longer have Ahnung by my side. And in those moments, as I held her close to my chest, praying and asking her to guide me and give me strength to walk this walk with her, Ahnung showed me that I needed to let go; that i needed to live and cherish the moment; that the light, yes, the light was there in the midst of what felt like pitch black darkness.

It's been 14 months now since Ahnung's spirit was set free. It was time for her to move on to the next stage of her work. Last October she led me to a young puppy (the first surrender at the October 2013 Leech Lake Legacy spay/neuter clinic ... and the first clinic where I did not have Ahnung by my side). I resisted bringing a puppy into my life, yet Ahnung continued to send me signs that this puppy was meant to come into my life even though I didn't feel ready. Ahnung's rescuer, Karen Good (an elder of Red Lake Reservation) said to me, "Marilou, sometimes it's not up to us." In 2008, I wasn't 'ready' to bring Ahnung into my life. I listened to my gut which told me Ahnung was meant to be in my life. That was the best decision I ever made in my life, and in all honesty, I believe is what saved my life with all my health issues.

And so that fall day on October 11, 2013 I opened up my heart and my home to a puppy who Ahnung asked me to name 'fire'. I welcomed an 8 week old puppy into my home and named her Ishkode (Ish-ko-DAY) which means 'fire' in Ojibwe. 

It's been a year since Ishka has been in our home. There were many moments when I would ask Ahnung, 'Why???' ... as I was on vigil with a puppy who was getting into everything and needed constant supervision. I soon learned she had many qualities that Ahnung had yet had many qualities that were different. It became clear why Ahnung wanted me to name her 'fire' and why she wanted me to have a puppy. Ahnung gave me two months to grieve deeply for her loss before leading me to Ishka. It was as if she was telling me, it's time for me to move forward. Ishka's constant mischief and antics kept me busy and she made me laugh as she would drag shovels around my back yard last winter, and pooper scoopers and anything else she could find to drag. Ishka was also a gift to Legacy. After Ahnung left there was a deep sadness in Legacy who grieved deeply the loss of his big sister. I witnessed an incredible bond between Legacy and Ishka that almost immediate, and has continued since then. I witnessed the life come back in Legacy.

Legacy and Ishka - winter 2013

And these past few weeks, I have felt the presence of Ahnung in Ishka in such powerful ways. There are moments when I look at Ishka and I swear I am looking at Ahnung. I know Ishka is her own unique girl with her own fiery, independent spirit. Yet, now .. after a year and maybe Ishka maturing somewhat, it's as if I feel that wise way of Ahnung manifesting in what used to be just a fireball trouble maker who was also an adorable puppy!

I witnessed amazing things happen with Ahnung when she was around. I believe she continues to work in her mysterious and magical ways .. and yes, I believe her spirit continues to live on through Ishkode. Thank you Ahnung for the gift of Ishka .... thank you for the gift of your presence in physical form through little Ishkode :)

Thank you for teaching me a powerful lesson ... that light is there in the midst of the darkness, and that to feel the light in our hearts, we must be willing to let go and to immerse ourselves in the darkness .. and Rashani says it beautifully in her poem, "There is a brokenness
 out of which comes the unbroken,
 a shatteredness
 out of which blooms the unshatterable .... There is a sorrow
 beyond all grief which leads to joy
 and a fragility
 out of whose depths emerges strength ..."


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Hitting the Pause button

Most mornings I take time to sit ... to write ... to pause. It is what grounds me, centers me, and reminds me of what matters. On mornings where I don't take the time, because I am too busy, or my mind is thinking of my ever growing 'to do' list, I find that by the end of the day I am shifting off center.

There has been a lot of loss lately ... some expected, some unexpected.

New doors continue to open and the possibilities of big dreams I've had are starting to feel like they are within reach. I'm a dreamer. I believe anything is possible. I also believe that everything in life happens for a reason, and in the time frame it needs to happen, even as painful as it might. Losing Ahnung last August 25, 2013 was without a doubt, one of the deepest losses I have had to endure .... but I believe she came into my life for a reason, and she moved onto the spirit world that Sunday afternoon because her work was done here in the physical world, and it was time for her to continue her work from a different plane. It's human nature to want to know what know what will happen .. to feel like we are in control. I remember my first true encounter with 'letting go' ... it was on October 1, 1988 when I finally accepted that I couldn't control my drinking and I returned to an AA meeting. I had tried to give up drinking 2 years prior, and as months passed I found myself thinking, 'I can control my drinking; i can drink in moderation; only weak people can't control what they do.' I was drinking to be someone else .. someone more fun and outgoing; i was drinking because I didn't want to feel pain; i was drinking because in all honesty I was afraid to feel. And so yes, I relapsed. And unbeknownst to me, I began a downward spiral into the deep, dark abyss.

I'll be honest, the thought of even going to an AA meeting was absurd to me ..... but I had reached the end of my rope and was trying desperately to hang on [I wrote a blog post shortly after the passing of Robin Williams, 'The Courage to Stay': that shares more about the night of my last drink]. I guess that was my 'bottom' ... at least that's what I used to call it. But now I look back at those years, and those incredibly painful moments, and I realize I needed to go through it to get to where I am today, and to become the person I am today. I needed to simply ... let go .. i needed to surrender to something larger than me. And yes, in AA terms, I needed to surrender to a 'higher power'. Letting go. Two words that were the most difficult things for me to do, and quite honestly, my inability to do so, nearly cost me my life.

We all have our own journeys, and yes, our own baggage and wounds .. some fresh, some so old we don't even know they are there. And so, I meditate and I write every morning, because it is my way of grounding myself and reminding myself that my job is simply to quiet the busyness of my mind so that I can feel my heart ... and to listen to the signs and the messages that come to us in so many different ways .... and to trust that the journey I am on today is exactly where I need to be. And I remind myself every morning to find joy in the questions .. asking questions and living the questions.

And so ... as another day begins .... I invite you to hit the pause button .. i invite you to listen to the whispers .. i invite you to let go. It is what saved my life. And who knows what it might do for you??

Monday, August 25, 2014

Ahnung ... one year anniversary

Today, August 25, 2014 is the one year anniversary of when I held Ahnung in my arms, surrounded by a community of friends, as she transitioned into the spirit world. There are no words for the pain that surrounded that moment, and the days, weeks and months that followed. But I promised Ahnung I would be there with her when it was time to let her go, and that I would walk towards the pain, the darkness and the grief that I so desperately wanted to run from. Ahnung taught me how to live and cherish every moment. In 2011, two months after I was diagnosed with my heart condition, she was diagnosed with cancer and together we walked our Final Walk together. I imagine walking over a bridge with her. When we get to the other side of the river, Ahnung stops and tells me it's not my time. She must go on to the other side. Her work continues from the spirit world but I must return to continue the work she began. I desperately want to go with her, but in the 2 years she prepped me for this Final Walk, she taught me that she will still be with me and that I will just need to learn to be with her in a new way, and I will need to learn to listen to her voice and her messages in a new way.

Dear sweet Ahnung .... I let you go on August 25, 2013. That first night without you I thought I would die from the pain. My heart shattered into a million pieces and I wanted to be with you, to hear you snore, to hear your body thump on the hardwood floor and to watch Legacy yank on your back legs ... and watch the two of you roll around in play :) You asked me to trust you and that my journey has not ended. You are right sweet girl ... my journey has not ended. The month of August has been filled with more doors opening than I could have ever imagined. I know you are the reason these doors are opening up and why I am connecting with people I need to be connecting with at this time.

so sweet girl ... I will keep listening to you. I will keep walking with you in a new way ... and I will share the amazing wisdom of what you have taught me, and continue to teach me through The Ahnung Way. I don't know what lies in store for me ... but I what I do know is that you are right by my side, and you will continue to guide me.

In 2011, you inspired me to co-found Leech Lake Legacy. It was my dream for Leech Lake Legacy to serve as a model for what can be done to provide resources and options for managing animal overpopulation challenges on reservations across the country, and how through reservation animals we could heal ourselves and communities .... 'We Believe in the healing and transformative energy of animals to build a bridge for a kinder, gentler and more compassionate world. We Believe reservations animals challenge us, teach us and guide us to our deepest sense of Home."

I believe you led me to Diana Webster, president/founder of The Native America Humane Society. Tomorrow Diana arrives from California as we take steps to begin what I could only dream and imagine when Leech Lake Legacy began in 2011 ... to explore how Leech Lake Legacy can serve as a model for what can be done at reservations across the country. And this week, we will not only be visiting Leech Lake Reservation but on Friday we will be visiting Karen Good (your rescuer ... and the amazing woman and Red Lake elder who led me to you) at Red Lake Reservation. I have no doubt none of this is a coincidence ... I have no doubt you planned for me to return to Red Lake this week .. to return to your roots and so we could sprinkle your ashes at Red Lake Rosie's Rescue outside the cat house where you lived for a couple months in 2008, in an igloo with the other big Rez dogs (Grandpa, Hazel and others).

As Diana and I meet with tribal leaders and elders of Leech Lake, White Earth and Red Lake reservations I know you will be with us, guiding us, and opening up doors so we can continue the work you began.

Today, and this week is symbolic on so many levels.

I miss you sweet nung-nung. Thank you for all you continue to do ... for being a beacon of love, hope, healing and resilience. Miigwech for being my north star. Always in my heart.

Ahnung in 2008 at Red Lake Rosie's Rescue on Red Lake Reservation

Ahnung .. an amazing observer of life.

At the Leech Lake Legacy August 2012 spay/neuter and wellness clinic
Ahnung with her friend Jaycee