Of the late I’ve been in a self reflective mode where I have revisited recent and past events that include significant life changes in the last 4-5 years.
While I have completed the 4th year of a doctoral program in education, I have also been a single mom, daughter, sister, Aunty, grand daughter, niece, and friend. The role and responsibility of each privilege has been a blessing at times when I could see it the least and happiness when I have been open. As an Indigenous woman, I am of one of the few .001% of Native people who are enrolled in an advanced degree. Granted it is one thing to be enrolled and another to complete all course work and degree requirements, I am on an educational journey called life as well.
While reading for my program can be dense, I also find that taking a breather and reading the non academic works is necessary. I revisit readings that gave me that good feeling and sent positive vibrations out into the world. The inspirations were provocative, engaging, but most important, life altering. Today I realized and remembered, I had once read the story of a great warrior.
In 2006, I decided to read Nelson Mandela’s autobiography. Not only did I immerse myself in his story, I read to understand what would move a soul such as he. His work, dedication, and sacrifice left such an impression on my mind that I could never see the world the same way. As I read through his autobiography, I also recalled seeing him released from prison in 1990. I had no idea what my future educational journey would be at that time, nor did I realize how influential he would become in my own life journey.
Although naive and ignorant to the ways of the world, back then, when that historic world event occurred, his release from prison was forever burned in my memory. I remember seeing African people crying yet they also danced. Seeing the beautiful people dancing, singing and crying was enough to leave an imprint in my mind. I knew that man on TV was somebody to listen to. When I decided to read his story, I felt it was a responsibility to read what he went through to understand the humanity in life that I questioned.
As he shared his story, I felt the kinship he was fond of with his family and thought about my own family traditions and culture. I understood in those brief moments of peace that his life was preordained and blessed. His story also brought me closer to the fact that no matter where I went, where I travelled, or who I encountered, my ancestors travelled with me. As an Indigenous woman, Dine through my mother, NiMiiPuu through my father, with Lenape descent through my paternal grandma, I knew I was blessed. With names from both my grandmothers (who are no longer here with us) and rooted in both cultures, I can honestly share, Mr. Mandela’s wisdom opened my heart, mind, and soul. I am more than aware, I realize that I have roots that are deep and each one provides me the privilege of being a unique woman.
As I go through my memory files, I am thinking of Mr. Mandela and recalling my decision to go back to school. While I phase into the next steps of climbing this mountain, I realize, I still know so little and have much to learn. Humbled by my own ignorance, it is a challenge and I am not as young as I used to be. Work is necessary but so is surrounding myself with like minded people. Deadweight is dropped and I practice and work to be better than I was the day before. With a lil more humility than say one year ago, perhaps even as recent as last month, or even last week, the lessons that I carry with me include teachings of people who were significant influences in my life.
Mr. Mandela is one of the many who have influenced my life. Besides my Aunty Louise, he has been one of those people that has shown me how to co-exist in a world where hate and racism are prevalent. As a single mother I’ve endured hardships, heartaches, frustrations, set backs, and challenges that have helped build me up while in this program. Without knowing how some things would turn out, I’ve had to put trust into the universe believing that in due time, the truth would reveal itself. With much to learn and much to be thankful and grateful for, at this time, I want to acknowledge that I know so little. I recognize that there are people who influence us in life and in the list of people, for me, Nelson Mandela is one of those influential people. My educational journey is a part of my life journey and my life has been blessed and preordained.
Kind regards and blessings to Mr. Mandela, you bless so many people in the world. Imeeqis Qeciyewyew and Ah’eh’eh many times over.