2018 has been one of the most physically, psychologically and emotionally exhausting years of my life, in a life that has had many challenges and tragedies few know. There are many more issues I’m dealing with now health and otherwise, myself and my son, plus the normalization and tolerance of racist, homo/transphobia, apathy, lack of empathy, and bigotry was really getting to me, and it takes a lot for that to happen. And a lot did happen 2017 through 2018, but losing/choosing friends, colleagues, situations and projects in 2019 where colonial/racist behaviors or lateral aggression are far less, will help alleviate as much of that as possible. In 2019, I hopefully will finish my Master’s degree also, which I’ve been working on the past four years. It takes an enormous amount of extra time and emotion, in addition to all the rest of this, due partly to my research topics listed on my “About” page.
There were many bright spots in 2018, too, and it is more my nature to power through the hard times and losses and then incorporate the learning experiences in a positive way. I am very thankful for the people I’ve met whose courage, determination and spirit inspired me to keep going, to keep loving, to keep believing, to keep living in a good way. Most especially, they helped me not shutdown and shut off when I’ve been hurt, such as with unwarranted criticism and assumptions about things like my identity, motivations & living situation that try to rip your heart out. Year after year of being away from family and home is excruciating, especially in a society where individualistic, insular thinking and behavior is the norm. It takes its toll.
My summation of 2018 is symbolized (and my life and history in general) by the Māori tā moko I was privileged to receive from tremendous artist, sculptor and person Paitangi Ostick. She’s one of the few female Māori tattooists in the world. (Check a short documentary on her and her work HERE.) I say privileged because Pai is traditional and serious. Tā moko is not just for the asking, and I had to think about it a long time anyway, because it is very serious to me, too. Part of the process is the artist asking, listening, singing and praying before deciding what they will imprint upon you that will stay with you and represent you in this life and the next. I didn’t know what was there until almost 9 hours later, when she explained what she’d drawn. Some of the main themes she saw in my life was TENACITY, the connection to my son, and the reality of two-spiritness. So these, along with the history of my family, my son and I, was artistically, symbolically draw on my body. Intense pain and trauma that triggers personal and spiritual elucidation, a path I continue.
This is long enough, and I wanted to keep it short while still conveying what I felt I wanted to share. I wish strength, humility and tenacity in 2019 for those pursuing healthier lives, relationships and freedom from oppressive systems, structures and behaviors that harm us all.