Friday, August 1, marked the anniversary of two years committed to my healthy lifestyle changes. That is, 730 days of no gluten, no dairy, artificial ingredients, very little processed garbage (I’m still a sucker for a gluten-free cookie or chips once in a while!) – just real, whole, (preferably, and when possible, indigenous) foods. I’m still in disbelief sometimes considering this is the girl that used to slug down a Pepsi while munching on a bag of Doritos, watching episodes of ‘Sex and the City’ ten years ago. I’ve come a long way since then! It has been an amazing journey full of healing, growth, positivity, and change. I have come to know my body better and appreciate it for everything it does.
While I love and appreciate cooking, foods, and the physical changes I experienced, this second year has been about healing the internal parts of myself. I was recently at the Haudenosaunee Great Law Recital this week at Onondaga Nation Territory. I had a moment to sit down and talk with an elder about my experiences, and he said that healing needs to take place in the body, the mind, and the spirit. This most recent year has been about these final two levels. I have made great strides to try my best to have peace in my thinking, to heal from pain from my past that I had previously buried away, and remove myself from negative energy sources when possible. I’m learning to listen more, be more patient, understand my strengths and weaknesses, approach life with a sense of gratitude and curiosity, and to live with a “good mind.”
Sure, these all probably sound like pretty common sense instructions, but I will tell you that it’s difficult to be of a good mind when your body is in a crooked state (see what I did there, H-peeps?! J). Part of Bob Antone and Rick Hill’s presentation on Monday was about how we need to decolonize all of the parts of ourselves, including our bodies, a message that often gets lost in the mix. When we feed ourselves foods that contain chemicals, genetically modified ingredients, post-colonization foods that are foreign to our bodies and genetics, and high-glycemic, inflammatory starches (including gluten/wheat) that embroil our bodies in an insulin-spiking battle, we set ourselves up for unwellness. When our bodies aren’t given the appropriate nourishment we were made for – foods close to the earth and creation – it’s hard for our minds to be well also. When our minds are unwell, it’s hard for us to make good decisions, treat each other well, and be strong people and nations. This is a lesson that I encountered along my way.
Spiritually, I am still healing and I know this work will never be finished. As human beings, we are constantly growing, learning, and changing. Personally, my path has been about reclaiming who I am – being part of my community, learning the language, going to ceremony, and really trying to understand and apply our teachings to my life, thinking, and work. Studying and speaking Kanienkeha (Mohawk language) has truly been life-changing as I’m learning that our Native languages restore an ancient way of thinking, speaking, and being. It took me a long time to understand why language is so important, but I know that it too has been a powerful part of my healing process. Being at the Great Law this week also really shifted my perspective in terms of our traditional teachings. I was inspired by the many good-minded people who were there, feeling the presence of the wampum belts together again, and the power of that message. The Onondaga Cookhouse staff also graciously fed us three meals daily with nation-raised buffalo, turkeys, chickens, and pigs, traditional corn soup and corn bread made from Haudenosaunee corn, and a bit of fresh fruits and vegetables. I felt such peace and good energy after this week-long gathering (some of which can be attributed to the good cooking!). Things are at last coming together.
This brings me back to why I am here writing. I started this blog in July 2013 with a lot of hesitation, not sure about what to do with all these thoughts, recipes, readings, and ramblings. I knew that I wanted to help people in whatever way I could short of going back to school for a nutrition program certificate. I thought there had to be a way to share the power of this journey I’ve been on and maybe encourage others to reconsider their sources of nourishment and ways of thinking about food. I truly believe in the power of healing through food, that it connects us in so many deep and complex ways to all of creation, and we can heal our bodies, minds, and ultimately, our nations, by re-indigenizing our traditional foodways and sustenance. This path, so far, has been incredible and I’m so grateful for the people I continue to meet and become inspired by, the readers who take the time to look at my posts or even cook recipes, and the opportunity to combine what I love doing (cooking, writing, reading, photographing and connecting with awesome folks). I hope you'll continue to walk with me! Niawenkowa, sewakwe:kon! (a big thank you to you all!)