Posted in Blog challenge, Blogging, Daily Prompt, Mi Vida Loca, nonfiction, postaday, writing

Daily Prompt: Singin’ in the Rain

Safe inside, toasty warm, while water pitter-patters on the roof… describe your perfect, rainy afternoon

This is the daily prompt for today. I love rain. Rain showers, thunderstorms, gentle rain, the kind of rain that sounds like a waterfall is flowing over your house. I just love rain.

via Tumblr
Via Tumblr

I remember when I was young and the warm summer rains. The kids in the neighborhood would come out and play and dance in the rain. I would go off by myself and lift my face and arms to the rain and laugh with joy.  The perfect rainy day in my youth.

newtopwallpapers.com
newtopwallpapers.com

Then there were the rainy days as I grew older. My days were chaotic and full of darkness and pain.  On rainy days I would sit and watch the drops through my window. Those rainy days gave me peace and a feeling of being cleansed of the pain in my soul. I never saw them as dark or dreary. They were full of life and the pureness of a new beginning. They were healing rains.

Copywrite Randy Olson
Copyright Randy Olson

Then there is my favorite kind of rains. The thunderstorms. Wild, exciting, heart pumping storms. These make me feel energized, full of power and promise. The more wild the storm the more assured and positive I become. I love them! These storms I watched from inside my home with eyes wide open in excitement, breath held in awe of the beauty. These days are perfect days for me.

fun4friends.net
fun4friends.net

Of course I can’t forget the nourishing gentle rain. The kind that lasts all day but is always gentle and soft. I love to walk in this rain down country pathways. Slowly getting soaked from its caressing drops. I smile even as the rain drops mix with my tears. These rains softly rinse my heart and soul from all my worries and stress. I walk out of these rains with a renewed sense of myself. A feeling of ‘everything will be all right’ sets in my heart and I smile after the tears.

oligoaway.org
oligoaway.org

After the rains come the rainbow. A joy to behold. It shows me that the rain is full of color and hope. I say farewell to the rains at this time, till we meet again and I can dance, sing, walk, cry and smile with your drops on my skin. That is a perfect ending to any rainy day.

Posted in nonfiction, postaday, stories, Stories of my life, writing

Another Favorite Christmas Memory

This is another stroll down memory lane. My most favorite Christmas memory can be found here.  Today’s memory is when I was about 6 or 7, maybe a bit younger. I hadn’t quite grown into my tomboy years, that would come a bit later and stay with me through out my life. 🙂

trees

When I was young we were not very well off. We kids didn’t fully realize that. We were young, we enjoyed what we had, it might not have been a lot, but it was ours. There were 2 boys and 2 girls, plus my Mom and Dad. It was hard feeding, clothing, and affording everything else that goes with kids. That year must have been tougher than others,  because I remember my Mom sitting us down and explaining that we weren’t going to get much for Christmas that year.

She told us  Santa had met with hard times. That there were a lot of  kids in the world, and he was trying to give each and every one of them a gift. He didn’t want to miss a one! So instead of the usual amount of gifts this year, we were each going to get one toy, and a winter coat. That was it.

I remember that her announcement was met with complete silence at first. The four of us looked at each other, my little brother started crying. My older brother got mad and stormed off, my sister and I just  sat there quietly. Then we both looked at my mom and said, “It’s ok, we can share.”

My older sister and I were always pretty close back then. So it wasn’t surprising that we came out with the same thing at the same time. It really was ok with both of us, and later on with my 2 brothers. We decided every kid should have a Christmas present, and if Santa needed our help, well then we would help him! We all knew who the real Santa was of course, well except my little brother,  and we tried to  understand that Mom and Dad didn’t have a lot of money. We wanted to help in any way we could.

So even though we were all a little bit disappointed that Christmas, we made a pact that we wouldn’t show it in front of Mom and Dad. We had never had a lot to begin with, we wore hand me down clothes most of the time, even got hand me down toys from others in the family that were a bit better off then us. It was how we were raised, no big deal. (Can’t really miss what you never had).

We were also getting a new winter coat!  Mostly our winter coats were hand me downs from cousins, so that wasn’t so bad either. We would manage. We also didn’t want our parents feeling bad.

So Christmas Eve we all went to bed excited as we did every year.  We woke up early  and  ran out to the living room. The tree was lit  and looked beautiful and there was a pile of gifts under the tree. As promised we each got a new winter coat, but we also got new gloves! Then we each got our  one new toy! I don’t really remember what my siblings received that year, but I sure remember what I got!

I remember seeing this huge box sitting in a corner, it was bigger then  me! It also had my name on it in big black letters! It had a bright red bow on top and it was mine! I was so excited and couldn’t imagine what it could be.

very close to what I remember
very close to what I remember

My dad laid it on the floor for me and with a big smile told me to open it. I started tearing off the paper and bow slowly, I wanted that moment to last! I finally got all the paper off and  I remember seeing this girl on the front of the box. No wait! It wasn’t a girl! It was a doll!!! I opened the box and there inside was a blonde headed doll that was as big as me!!!

She was beautiful! Her blonde hair shone in the Christmas lights and it looked just like mine! She had big blue eyes and a wonderful dress on and a straw hat! When she stood up she was as tall as I was.

I was never  one of those little girls who played a lot with dolls, but this one was different. It was like having a best friend. I used to dance with her, I would put her little  feet on mine and we would dance around the house together! It was great fun!  I told her all my secrets and dreams. I had so much fun with that doll for many years.

I didn’t just get a doll that Christmas, I got a best friend. A friend who never told my secrets. A best friend that I could do no wrong in her eyes. It was a great Christmas that year.

 

 

Posted in Blogging, Mi Vida Loca, nonfiction, postaday, writing

American Indian Heritage Month

Bo Zho!

That is Potawatomi for hello! As I am part American Indian Potawatomi I wanted to write something of my own ancestors for American Indian heritage month.  A lot of people haven’t heard  of the Potawatomi’s. They aren’t as famous as Apache, Navajo or many others that we have heard about through books or movies.

The Potawatomi Indians or Bodéwadmi as they call themselves were a part of a long-term alliance called The Council of Three Fires with the Ojibwe and Ottawa . The name Bodewadimi means “keepers of the fire”.

The Potawatomi are first mentioned in French records, which suggest that in the early 17th century, they lived in what is now southwestern Michigan. During the Beaver Wars they fled to the area around Green Bay, Wisconsin to escape attacks by both the Iroquois and the Neutral Nation, who were seeking expanded hunting grounds.

As an important part of Tecumseh’s Confederacy, Potawatomi warriors took part in Tecumseh’s War, the War of 1812 and the Peoria War. Their allegiance switched repeatedly between the British and the Americans as power relations shifted between the nations.

Today, the Potawatomi are a thriving community. They provide health services and education to the people, with revenues generated from the tribe’s gaming and other business operations. I remember when I was young, the Potawatomi community were quite poor. They had issues with drugs, alcohol and health. Now, they have active programs to deal with the  drugs and alcohol issues. They also have very active health programs. I know that within a relatively short amount of time they went from being the poorest tribe to  the third richest tribe within the United States. In part because they  got leadership that looked toward the future of their people.

The Forest County Potawatomi (FCP) have lived in Forest County, Wisconsin, since the late 1800s. Around 1880, groups settled in areas near Blackwell and Wabeno and have lived in that area since, as well as in the Carter and Crandon (or Stone Lake) areas. My mother was born and raised in Wabeno, Wisconsin, she is now one of a short list of elders of the Forest County Potawatomi tribe.

I have always loved being part American Indian. My mother used to tell us stories of when she grew up and even as an adult. There were lots of restaurants, bars and stores that would not serve Indians. They had signs up that said they wouldn’t. Much like the Afro-Americans in the south there was much prejudice about Indians. In some places that prejudice still survives. It always seem so hypocritical to me. The American Indians were here way before anyone else. Yet we were looked at as savages when  the white man killed us at every chance,  took our lands away and herded us like cattle onto reservations where  we would starve to death over the winters. Now really, who were the savages??

Here is a timeline of the Potawatomi tribes movements.

In the beginning, the Neshnabek (Original People) settled along the shores of the great salt water (Atlantic Ocean), near the mouth of the St. Lawrence River.

1,000 Years Ago

Movement began towards the Great Lakes.
1500’S

Near Saulte Ste. Marie, the Neshnabek split into three groups – the Ojibwe (Keepers of the Faith), the Odawa (Keepers of the Trade), and the Bodewadmi (keepers of the Fire). This relationship is known as the Three Fires Confederacy.

The Potawatomi moved towards Southwestern Michigan.

1634

First encounter with Europeans: the French explorer Jean Nicolet visits the Potawatomi near Red Banks (Green Bay, WI).
17th and 18th Century
As strong allies of Nouvelle France, the Potawatomi control the fur trade in the Western Great Lakes.
1789-1867

In 43 treaties, the Potawatomi were forced by the US Government to cede all their lands between Wisconsin and Ohio.

In the 1833 chicago treaty, the largest land cession contained 5 million acres.

1838

After the signing of the 1833 treaty, most Potawatomi were forcibly removed west. This march became known as the “Potawatomi Trail of Death”.

1851
Simon Kahquados, last known Chief of the Wisconsin Potawatomi is born at Black Earth Village in Kewaunee County.
1890’s
The Reverend Eric Morstad assists several strolling Potawatomi families near Wabeno, WI homesteads under the Indian Homestead act of 1884.
1907
W.M. Wooster, b.I.A. Special agent conducts census and reports 1,972 Wisconsin Potawatomi Indians.
1913
Through the efforts of Charles Kishek and Reverend Eric Morstad, 11,786 acres of land is purchased using treaty monies.
1924
Native Americans are granted U.S. Citizenship by act of Congress. (The irony of it boggles the mind!)
1937
The Potawatomi Tribe is reorganized under the Act of 1934 and officially become the Forest County Potawatomi Community.
1988
Forest County Potawatomi lands granted “reservation” status
. National Indian Gaming Act (N.I.G.A.) passed.
2005
A four tribe alliance of the Potawatomi, Oneida, San Manuel Band of Mission Indians and Viejas Band of Southern California build a partnership venture and open the Residence Inn in Washington D.C.
We as people have come a long way through out history.  It’s nice that we have a month for teaching about our heritage. It is a rich and vital one. We are people who are tough and resilient. We needed to be. The traditions and rituals have kept us strong. The cornerstone of those beliefs is the Circle of Life that parallels the seasons of nature. The Circle of Life is a demonstration of the Potawatomi reverence for all living things and nurtures the belief that they are a self-reliant and self-determined nation of people.
Bidgek (welcome)

 

Posted in Blogging, nonfiction, postaday, Uncategorized, writing

A Few Feel Good Things To Do

Sometimes when I feel down or need a pick me up, I have a list of things I choose from to do for myself or others that make me feel better. We all need a few things to make us feel good again. We all have our moments of sadness or loneliness or just need something that makes us smile again. Here are a few suggestions I put together to help with those feel good moments. Hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Maybe you can even add to the list! Have any suggestions that works for you and  would work for other people? Add them in the comment section please! If the list grows long enough we can always  have something nearby to help with those moments when we need a pick up!

1. Email a close friend or family member you haven’t spoken to in a while and reconnect with them.

2. In our ever-expanding digital world, everyone enjoys getting some ‘real’ mail.  So take a few minutes and send a paper greeting card directly to a friend or relative by using enGreet or American Greetings. (this is one of my favorite things to do. Just imagine the smile on a friend or relatives face when they receive a ‘real’ card or short letter.)

3. Inspire and spark your creative mind by looking at a rolling slideshow of the highest rated photos on Flickr from the past 7 days. (this one is sure to please!)

4. Add the gentle sound of rain to your environment using RainyMood.com and then simply meditate and relax for a few minutes. (I do this when I need a few minutes down time or need to refocus on a story.)

5. Support a good cause for free at Freerice.com or donate a few bucks to a good cause via GoFundMe. A sure fire way to feel good again. How can you not after helping someone for free?

6. Listen to good music, or find a new musical artist to listen to based on music you like at Grooveshark,  PandoraSpotifylast.fm, or Deezer (international). I love music of all kinds. I have some on my ipod that I don’t understand the language it is sung in, but the music  and the voice makes it all worth while and I don’t need to understand the words to make it special.

7. Start reading a classic book online for free at Project GutenbergThe Online Books PageGizmo’s Free Books Online, or the E-books Directory.

8. Create a cool graphical mind map of some of your recent ideas at bubbl.usMindomo, or Mindmeister. This is always fun to do and might just solidify some of those scattered thoughts we all have.

9. Spend a few minutes watching the sunset with someone you care about.  Nothing more is needed.  Just sit still and take in the natural beauty of the sky, and appreciate being able to share it with someone special. Sometimes it’s hard to be with that special someone just at the time the sun is setting, but that’s okay, imagine that special person there with you and I guarantee it will make you feel good. I do it.

10. Keep track of the things you’re grateful for.  You can’t help but feel good when you literally count your blessings.  Start a gratitude journal and express your thanks on a daily basis.

11. Get your body moving and your blood circulating.  Jump, shake, twist and spin around.  Let yourself feel the joy of moving to your favorite music, or just the sounds in your head.  Run, walk, and bike to your heart’s content. I personally dance around the house a lot. ha! And no, there will be no pictures! 😉

12. Stop to help someone.  In life, you get what you put in.  When you make a positive impact in someone else’s life, you also make a positive impact in your own life.  So the next time you see someone pulled over with a flat tire, or in need of a few minutes of assistance, stop and ask how you can help.

 

Posted in Fiction, postaday, stories, Uncategorized, writing

The Taxi Dancer

 

 

After  the music ended, Anita sat at her table and wished  she could take her shoes off and rub her tired, achy feet. But, she knew the music would start again in a few minutes and there would be another man holding out his 10 cent ticket to her. Then they would dance, maybe have a few snippets of conversation if he was talkative. If the man was on the shy side the dance would be quiet.

Sometimes if Anita liked the look of the man, she would try to get him to talk. Most times not though. It was a job. Times were tough, she had to help  with the family finances and this was better than nothing. She got this job because she could dance. She always loved to dance, even when she was little, Mama would catch her dancing all over their tiny  apartment. Now that Mama was sick, it was up to her to pay the bills. So she came to the Taxi Dance hall and got a job.

The job was tiring and she usually went home with sore feet and achy muscles, but it never stopped her from returning the next day.  The pay was fair, mostly because she was one of the most popular Taxi’s there. Men enjoyed dancing with her and she had her weekly regulars. She knew that some dancers working there did ‘side jobs’, but she wasn’t one of them. She was a good girl and she  wouldn’t shame Mama  that way.

Anita heard the band start another song, and just like she knew would happen, there was a man standing in front of  her with his 10 cent ticket in his hand. Without even glancing up at the man’s face she took his ticket and stuck it inside the small black purse dangling from her wrist. She stood up and took his outstretched hand, finally tilting her head up and see who it was. This one she didn’t know, he was a new face in the crowd. The handsome young man smiled at her and led her to the dance floor.

They glided smoothly across the oak  floor. Not speaking. Anita was okay with that, there didn’t seem to be a need to talk. She thought he was an excellent dancer, better than most of her ticket holders. She felt comfortable. As they twirled once more around, he finally spoke in a soft deep voice. “I’m glad my buddy talked me into coming here tonight.”

“Why is that?” Anita asked.

“Because I just met the most beautiful woman, who dances like an angel” he said with a small smile.

“I bet you say that to all the ladies” Anita joked.

“Only you”  he said. “Only you from now on” he whispered.

 

 

 

 

**I came across some information about Taxi Dancers while I was researching something else. It fascinated me. They were women who in the 1920’s and 30’s who got paid for dancing with men. The men would buy 10 cent tickets to be able to pay for dancing with them. The women received a commission on how many tickets they collected. This is a very short story that came out of that.**

Posted in postaday, stories, Uncategorized, writing

The Dancer Who Didn’t Want To Be

Dani could  feel the sweat dripping down every inch of her body. She was so very tired, but knew she couldn’t stop. Didn’t dare stop. Her body screamed at her until  finally Dani had no choice. Exhausted she dropped down to the floor in a puddle of limp muscles. Her breathing was labored, she had been practicing for 2 hours straight. No breaks, and she just couldn’t do another minute.

“Get up!” she heard a voice yell. “Get up  this instant! Dani!!”

She raised her head  to glance at her least favorite relative. Dani came from five generations of dancers. Her family was world renown, the most famous dancing troupe in the world. And Dani  hated it. She loved dancing, but she hated dancing too. The endless training, the constant traveling, the different towns and cities. Faceless audiences that always demanded more and more. Down through the years dancing had been a way of life for her family. They married other dancers, had babies that grew up to be great dancers. Their whole world was  dancing and practicing and routines. She hated it all!

“Dani! You will never be a great dancer if you don’t continue practicing!” Dani winced at the loud voice  in her ear. Her great-Aunt Claudia nudged her with her cane. It was a bit more forceful than necessary. But Dani has always known Great Aunt Claudia disliked her.  She never knew why, but she certainly knew it was true.

“I cannot go another second, Madame,” Dani told  her. “My body refuses to do it.”

“Don’t be stupid child! It is not your body that is weak, it is your mind! Now get up and continue with the practice!” scolded Great Aunt Claudia.

Sighing, Dani pushed herself up to stand.  She knew her Great Aunt would not give in, and so  once again Dani would.  Even though  her body ached and her feet were bleeding she would continue with the practice she hated so much.  One day I will leave this,  I will run away and become what and who I want to be.  I  will be ME!  Thought Dani as she pushed through the pain and danced in front of the mirrored wall, with the critical eyes of Great Aunt Claudia following her.

“Again Dani! Do it again but with more grace!” yelled out Great Aunt Claudia. “You are moving like a clumsy elephant! Pick those feet up! Jump  higher!”

Dani could hear the thumping of Madame’s cane as it hit the floor behind her. She always referred to her Great Aunt as Madame, like the other students. She had never felt close to her Great Aunt even though she was brought up by her. Madame taught dance to young men and women, because Madame could not dance  herself. When she was 19 she fell down a flight of cement steps and broke her leg and back.  That was 40 years ago, since then she has had to walk with a cane and was never able to dance again. So she taught. Having generations of dancers behind her, Dani knew Madame was a great teacher, very sought after. But Madame was always tougher on Dani.

“I swear you are not Edward’s child! Edward was a fantastic dancer! The best in the family! Even that woman he married was a passable dancer.” commented Madame. “I often wonder if that woman did not cheat on Edward and have some other man’s baby. For you  are nothing compared to Edward!”

Dani sighed inwardly. This was not a new dialog with Madame. Dani had heard it many times before. But it never stopped hurting to listen to it. Madame never liked her mother and it was well-known in the family that Edward had always been Madame’s favorite person. Dani remembered her parents as loving parents. To her and to each other. She was ten years old when they died in a terrible car accident.  Dani’s parents and an older cousin named Amelia was in the car when it was hit by a truck.  They all died that terrible day. Amelia was another one of Madame’s favorites. Something else Dani was never able to forget.

“Why did Amelia have to die too!”  Madame cried. “Such a talent  that girl was. So beautiful and graceful. She was born to dance just like Edward! To die at the young age of 15 was too  cruel!”

Dani stopped dancing and watched Madame work herself up remembering that tragic accident. She wiped her face of sweat and waited for what she knew was coming next.  “Why was it not you in that car! Why were you left behind and Amelia wasn’t?!” Madame asked. “I will tell you why! It is because you were a sickly child, and your mother did not want to take care of you! So she left you with your nanny and took Amelia and my Edward for that fateful drive!” Dani remembered that day also. She  had caught a terrible cold. They were suppose to go Christmas shopping, but she was too sick to go. So her parents and Amelia  went, without her. They never returned.

“It just isn’t fair to take such talented and loved people and leave me with you!” Madame cruelly stated.

That was all Dani could listen to. She had heard the same things spew out of Madame’s mouth for years. The hateful words that stung so sharp. Dani had always tried to be what Madame wanted, but it was never enough. She could never be her father or her cousin Amelia. And she was reminded of that fact in every possible way. She had twelve years of being told this again and again. It gave her nightmares at night. It echoed in her heart every single day.  She was tired of hearing it! She might not be a great dancer but she didn’t want to be! She had never wanted to be.

Dani wanted to be an artist, a painter. Every moment she could she  painted her beautiful pictures.  That was  the only time she felt at peace. She loved the feel of a paintbrush in her hand, the colors flowing over canvas. Watching those colors become  something beautiful, full of life.

Dani had enough. She could not listen to another hateful word. She ran to the door and opened it.  As she ran down the hall and out the building she could still hear her Great Aunt’s words in her head.

“You should have died that day! You and that woman who gave birth to you! Not  my beautiful Edward and Amelia!! YOU!!”