Congratulations on a huge accomplishment in your life time. Your journey speaks for itself the time and energy you have spent working on yourself, learning and growing as a community leader, and serving as a catalyst for change. Your past represents the strength you carry to preservere and the resilency to face all circumstances that impacted your life. Whether they were good or bad they are important aspects of our life that identifys you as a leader in your community and family. Your beauty represents all the teachings, ancient customs and ceremonies that are the heart of every that is and that is you. Your future as a Bush Fellow is illuminated by the fact that anything is possible if you believe and work hard. You will walk through doors you never thought imaginable, you will meet interesting people, and you are given a moment in time to reinvest in yourself. So many times as people working tirelessly in our communities we forget what it means to take care of ourselves and be present for our families. You did it and your honor is a accumulation of your passion, hard work, and believing in yourself.
In all honesty I missed the deadline to submit in 2021 all due to me misreading the deadline time. I resigned from my job of 30 years and was searching and asking myself the question "what is my purpose in life?' I reapplied again in 2022 and this time I made sure I followed all the requirements and reflected on what got me to this point in life, what I have accomplished and what my dreams and passion are working with mothers and children. I had doubts and at times I felt I maybe I didn't do enough, maybe I am not good enough but I had to turn those old tapes off and speak from my heart.
Take a moment to breathe and wallow in the the light of being selected as a Bush Fellows...wow what an honor. This honor speaks for you as well as all your ancestors who took the time to teach you what it means to be a leader. Sometimes we have no idea when we take the time to learn from our parents, elders, and healers that their stories and experiences are actually preparing you for this journey. Yes, there will be challenges and you will face road blocks by people within your own community and family. Don't stay there you have some of the best support from other Bush Fellows and peers who are leaders in your community. You will select a coach who will work by your side and be that strength when you feel weak at times. So take the time to really look at the characteristics when selecting your coach and a coach will will not be afraid to push you and challenge your thought and ideas as well.
I realized after all the excitement, life gets busy, people find other things to be excited about, this is the time you spend reflecting, building yourself, and begin your work quietly and ethically. Through the course of my life and facing some of my greatest sorrows I reflect on a teaching my mother taught me "There is great strength in silence." Its in those quiet moments when you may feel alone that you are actually being lifted by other peoples thoughts and prayers. Take this time to explore, learn and grow. Most importantly use what you learn and gain from all your experiences as a Bush Fellow with other women or men, elders or young people to realize their potential. This journey has afforded to take my family and reconnect by visiting two National Parks, I was able to attend some training to enhance my Lakota beliefs, language development, develop a network of partnership. One partnership in particular is education young mother and parents in conducting the "Welcoming new birth" ceremony in our communites. This ceremony was almost lost but was revitalized by elder women who I had the honor of working with. I sat with one of our oldest elder women and she explained the importance of this ceremony and why it msut be done in every community. She stated "This is one of our most humble and simple ceremonies we have for our children but this ceremony grounds our children to their identity, their language, connection to the creation of life and our hope for every child born." These two elders women made their journey so I feel it is important that through partnership we conduct this ceremony in every community. Our children are our hope for a better generation.
This opportunity has provided me an avenue to develop my plan and part of that was finishing my Masters degree in Administration, specializing in Organization Leadership. It alliviated one less stress by paying for my tuition, books, and fees. When I want to give up I remember all the past and present fellows who are cheering me on and the Bush Foundation for giving me an opportunity to develop the best version of myself and the opportunity to accomplish some of my goals in life.
When you strengthen a woman or a man, you strengthen the family and community. This opportunity allowed me to celebrate successes with my family and friends. When I learn and grow my family, learns and grows with me, when I develop strategies and plans its not about me it about being inclusive of your nation.....Bush Fellowship is not about self only, its about taking the hands of others and walking with them. That is the power of being a Bush Fellow. Chart your journey, live and learn, forgive yourself and others, and be gentle and kind to yourself.
Welcome to the family.