It’s life, my life

It’s life, my life

Well, here I sit. Drinking my coffee, espresso with some heavy cream, looking out the window greeting the new day that Creator has blessed all of us with.

A wave of gratitude came over me, as I reflect on the past four months and beyond.

I started thinking about DriftlessNow.com. While my wife Amanda and I started this website to share stories about the Wisconsin Driftless area, I thought to myself, I know my readership at least demographically, but they know little about me or my wife and family.

Now, I would never speak for my wife nor her feelings, so, if she chooses to share about herself, well that’s up to her.

While, I could go deep into my whole life and experiences, both good and bad, I think I will stick to more recent with a hint of nostalgia, sharing a few memories of years gone by.

Our website and Facebook page have done very well since we started back in May, and I have enjoyed interacting with many in the Driftless area.

Most importantly, I have enjoyed traveling a few thousand miles meeting so many special and unique people, viewing the endless scenes of nature and amazing geology that the Driftless has to offer.

Very few know, that while you read and view our content, the past two months have been rough. Now, by no means am I complaining or forgetting to be grateful of every day Creator gives me, or the struggles of those that have it much worse in their walks of life.

I recently have been dealing with some pretty serious health issues that have affected the amount of time I’ve been able to jump in our car and find amazing stories.

In addition, my oldest son Tyler is battling stage 3 Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma along with Castleman’s disease, which unfortunately is an autoimmune disease of the Lymphatic system. So, a double whammy.

See my son was born at about 23 weeks, a true miracle baby. Having a 4-hour surgery the day after he was born, Tyler would survive and make it out of the hospital after months of intense care and reaching a whopping 3 pounds.

Watching my son go through this and to seeing his physical change due to the round of Chemo he is currently receiving, is well, challenging and emotional. Any parent, me included, would want take the pain and suffering from their child. I feel helpless that I cannot.

I am amazed by his tenacity, courage, strength and positive attitude. You could say he is my hero.

It always could be worse I think to myself. It could always be worse.

I carry on each day doing a little more writing and covering a bit more these past two weeks, constantly thinking of my commitment to you our readership.

As some may know, I am Native American. My mother hails from the Acoma Pueblo and my father from the Tecuexes tribe. My Waksik (Native American in Hocak) name is ‘I in bit’s’i-Ligai (meaning White Feather in Dine or as you might better know as Navajo). It was given to me by my Dine father Carl Nakai. Though I live up here in the North, I am a transplant from the Southwest by default.

I have spent most of my adult life around and living with the Hocak (Ho-Chunk), and have great respect for the way they treat me as family and their culture. I spent many years dedicated to working for them in the past while advocating for Native American issue for all Natives on Turtle Island (North America).

I pull my strength from my culture, and have a deep faith in Creator and his plan for my life. Spirituality is not a part of life for me, but a way of life.

Before I get to deep, let me get back to some of my thoughts this morning.

This Labor Day weekend, I went over all the events I could cover, and one kept grabbing my attention, the Annual Hocak Nation Labor Day powwow in Black River Falls.

I miss seeing my friends and relatives as often as I have in the past, and being around the Native culture daily. But a feeling of guilt came across my heart. ‘You need to sacrifice for your readership, and cover what they want to read’, I thought to myself.

Ugh, what to do, what to do.

I continued to think about all my extended and adopted Hocak relatives and those that I have seen walk on over the years.

My mind goes back to a decorated Hocak Vietnam Combat Warrior by the name of ‘Haga Mike’, aka Owen ‘The Bull’ Mike. 

Years ago, while serving as the Hocak nations Editor of their newspaper the Hocak Worak, Haga came into my office for a visit. I asked how he was doing, and he just stared at me. He finally spoke, telling me that he appreciated me as a brother. He liked what I was doing for his people with telling the news. I told him it was all of my staff that should be recognized, and not me.

With a chuckle and a smile, Haga said, ‘I would like to honor you’. I couldn’t quite grasp the words he just said and replied, ‘Honor me, I didn’t do anything that remotely deserves honoring from a great warrior.’

He said he wanted to feather me, and introduce me into the dance arena at the Labor Day powwow.

I was speechless. Well, actually beyond speechless, that a Warrior I had so much respect for would have a feeling like this for me. I quickly accepted.

Now, for those of you not privy to what a feathering ceremony is, let me explain.

When you see Native Americans dancing at a powwow, many have an Eagle feather on their head. It is right that is only given by a Warrior that has taken a human life in combat.

Being feathered is a high honor and very holy.

The Warrior shares the story of a time and place in combat, where they were faced with taking a human life. That story goes with that specific Eagle feather, and is meant as an honoring of the person they killed and their spirit. A kind of for a lack of better terms (a big lack), a recognition of their existence on Mother Earth and an apology for taking their life.

Today my mind is on my culture and the meaning behind powwow. A gathering of friends and relatives, a time to eat, share memories and laugh, that can and does re-energize the spirit and enjoy culture.

I always think about what Haga Mike would tell me. ‘Go to powwow, get out there and dance. Dance for those that can’t and enjoy your life that Creator has given you. Enjoy the gift,’ he would tell me.

Today, I will go up to Black River Falls, Wisconsin and do just that., enjoy my gift, visit with my Kaka (Grandmother) Anita Whiteeagle and other friends and relatives. I will enjoy the singing, dancing and feeling the drum beat of Mother Earth. I will feel the beat in every part of my body. I believe that all is good medicine and can heal me, both physically, spiritually, and mentally.

I have enjoyed and will continue to, traveling the Driftless and meeting people and hearing their stories. There are endless stories to tell, and I feel honored to tell what is just a fraction of them.

I could spin off a blog, but I am content on sharing now and then, a snippet of my thoughts and feelings. I mean why shouldn’t you learn a bit about me. Not to say Driftless Now is about me, it is not. It is about you, the people that live in the Driftless.

Thank you for taking a few minutes to read a few of my thoughts and feelings. Thank you for the support afforded me and my wife Amanda in our amazing journey with Driftless Now.

Photos are always good. I share a few very dear ones that bring back memories of my life.

If you have some time this Labor Day weekend, I invite you to join the celebration in Black River Falls. Come eat, listen to the singing, hear and feel the beat of the drums, get out there and dance when invited. Just live the gift Creator has given you.

I would be remiss if not to thank my mother Lillian, my beautiful wife Amanda, and my amazing sons Tyler, Nathan, Brayden, and our two babies in heaven, Antonio and Josiah. I love them all dearly.

It’s life, my life.

As always, be blessed.

Tasty Tomato Fest celebrates end of summer

Tasty Tomato Fest celebrates end of summer

Happy Hunter Farms, a lot to sauce about

Happy Hunter Farms, a lot to sauce about