I have been making hard changes in my life lately, switching myself into a higher spiritual gear, making commitments to my health and spiritual growth and keeping them. One of my internal resolutions has been to wake up and meditate for at least 10 minutes a day.
It is funny how a habit begins to form, how the cellular memory starts kicks in, and through a simple decision to "keep at it", the body finds its way to support and kicks in the practice when the mind might want to do other things.
This is what happened to me this morning. When I awoke, I started to play on my phone, a habit I am soon to break. Yet after I read news from the "good news" site and checked my decaying social media presences, I sat up in bed, needing to go to the bathroom.
Yet, the moment that I sat up, my body clicked in to "meditation mode", because I was sitting upright on the place where I meditate each morning. I held my bladder and immediately went into my meditation practice, remembering to set a timer for 10 minutes. I listened to my body, and I took the time, resisting my bodily needs for a moment.
After the 10 minutes were up, I went for another 5 minutes. By then, my doggie was starting to whine a bit, reminding me that he has bodily needs also. As quickly as I could, I began the series of motions and sang a "good morning" song in the process, getting myself ready to take the dog on one of his two long walks of the day.
We found ourselves at our dog park, where the day before, I had found a place in the trees, away from the main trails. A place where green spongy moss is surrounded by trees. Yesterday, I had sat on the super spongy moss and meditated for 15 minutes, as a continuation of my bedside morning breathing and letting go. Yesterday, my butt got wet, as my doggie darted back and forth, waiting for me to be done sitting still.
Today, I thought to bring my rain poncho, so my butt wouldn't get wet as I sat. With my "good morning" song still resonating in my brain, I began to meditate again, this time for 15 minutes, as my doggie darted back and forth, pulling a root up from underneath the moss nearby, chewing it off into a stick to play with. At the end of my time on the moss, I played tug of war with the stick my dog had fashioned for himself, until it broke in two.
These are the songs of new habits forming, taking hold, like new ice that forms on a small pond. Sikutchiaq.
I am that new ice, forming as part of the cycle of the seasons. As I let go of what no longer serves me (like social media), I discover new spaces, and new ways to sit to give my spirit what it needs.
Tavra. (that's all)
If you are reading this, there is a strong probability you have thought about the impact of social media upon your life. You might have even entertained thoughts of leaving it all, deleting accounts and doing something different with your time.
I have entertained these thoughts for about a year and a half now, and the thoughts turned into research and nudgings from my heart added into the mix, and then a book came into my iBooks, and just like that, I made a hard and firm decision. I picked dates, and with love, I started to plan my exit.
The overriding tone that I have been holding for myself is that of gentleness. Once I made the decision, I wanted to be sure to be as gentle as I can be with myself in this extraction process, as after all, I have been part of my facebook community for eleven years now.
Part of my strategy to honor my spirit in this endeavor is to leave in stages, for example, I left snapchat almost right away, and am planning on leaving facebook and instagram by November 25th. I will give myself until December 24th to figure out my exit from twitter, which might be keeping the account but not posting, and then re-evaluating it in two years, to see if I need to rejoin the twitter community. Or, it might just take me until Dec. 24 to really let it go. I am at peace with not knowing at this point, as my focus has been on the other two, the "big ones".
You can see in the image above a photo of my new physical address book that has been created from this process. Some of my fears in leaving fb and instagram have included, "What about all your friends and relatives, far and wide? How will they know to find you?" and "You are a full-time artist, how will people know to find out about your new work and past work?" and "What about fb invites to gatherings of friends and events?" and so on, many many thoughts presenting arguments for me to change course.
Yet I am pressing on. Letting people know with as much grace and love that I can that I am making a choice to leave, because it is the best choice for me, right now. I am allowing myself to re-evaluate after two years, letting those know that there could always be a re-entry point, if after two years it seems like it needs to happen. I am reaching out to everyone to send me their snail mail addresses, if they feel so moved. Even if they haven't met me in person yet. And I have been searching for family that I know I want to stay connected to, so that I can get their contact information so we can know how to stay in touch.
And the addresses have been pouring in, and each one that is offered, I diligently and lovingly pen the names of my connections into my physical book, the one you see above. Each message sends a pocket of love, of a desire to stay connected, to be a friend, to remain connected. These waves of love keep hitting me, and I feel the hopes of these very real living beings, hoping to possibly get a piece of paper with writing on it from me, and perhaps they will send them back.
Like a message in a bottle, are these words reaching you, now reading this?
I am getting ready to let go of spaces where I have spent time expressing myself, connecting, sharing, contemplating. And in that letting go, I find myself here. This blog is my new portal on the internet. A place to be found.
Thank you for finding me here. I strive to be my authentic self, keeping the fire going. Oh, and as for the caribou golden curry? It turned out very good, made with smoked caribou from a Potlatch in Minto. Just what I needed to reflect, write and share.
Above is a photo of me and Paula Larke, an artist of whom I deeply respect and admire. As part of the training, I was honored to witness her perform not once, but twice. Her work, her presence and her love for her audiences impacted me and my artistic processes in ways that which I do not yet have the words.
I was recently blessed with the opportunity to be a part of the 2019 cohort of the Art Equity National Facilitator Training, which was held over two sessions in Atlanta, Georgia. I recently got back from the second and final session, and now I am considered to be an Art Equity Alumni, which connects me to a larger network of previous cohorts. Before too much time passes after my experience, I wanted to share a few brief reflections on my overall experience of being part of the training.
To give some context, as an artist, when I think about approaching a new piece of work, I start from the end feeling, the feeling that I want my audience to walk out of the door with when they are leaving the venue. Everything for me in my process begins with this feeling at the end, and from this understanding, I work my way from the beginning towards that feeling.
I wanted to share the above, because the end result of my deep participation in the Art Equity National Facilitation was one of the most transformational of my life. I went through a journey that engaged me to my core and challenged me to dig much deeper into my healing process.
At the end, I felt a sense of connection and community, of the promise of more connection and more conversations that push towards growth. I do have to admit at one point I had to make a personal choice. To either look into the mirror and see myself exactly where I was at and make hard and necessary healing changes, or to not. It was not easy, and I am still learning from the entire experience, still healing, making adjustments and growing. I am very grateful for the entire Art Equity National Facilitator experience, all of the uncomfortable moments that pushed and challenged me, and all of the new friendships and new pathways in my mind that were opened up from the experience.
Thank you to the facilitators that held space for our 2019 cohort. And thank you to my fellow cohort members. We did it!
Quyanaqpak. (thank you very big)
I have made a dramatic decision in my life recently. I have decided to unplug, delete, withdrawal from all of my social media accounts, with the end date of November 25, 2019. This decision came to me over about a year in time of thinking, doing research and personal reflection. This is a big experiment in my life, one that I intend to keep for at least two years. After two years of absence, I may re-evaluate. I am keeping a relationship with you tube, but in that relationship I will vow not to look at the comments of any of the videos that I watch and I will monitor how I access videos on youTube. It is a process.
Right now, I am reaching out on facebook, snapchat and instagram, giving people a "heads up" of my departure. I am also deliberately keeping an old fashioned address book, methodically writing down the physical addresses, emails, phone numbers and sometimes birthdays of those that I want to keep in touch with, or those who want to keep in touch with me. One idea I have around keeping physical addresses is picking a few people from the book and sending them a postcard from one of my travels. Another is to craft an end-of-the-year letter, or perhaps a beginning-of-the-year letter to all the folks in my address book. Also, when I have my next show opening or performance, one idea is to send notice through snail mail and perhaps email, depending on the individuals in my network.
I am also committed to post more here, on my blog, where you are reading right now. I feel that on my blog, I can give more context to my thoughts, ideas, movements, reflections. It will be my own way of keeping people who are interested in what I am doing "in the loop" of my personal and artistic journeys. A one-stop place for audio, video, photos and writing.
My biggest internal resistance so far is letting go of twitter. I have built a strong relationship to the medium, having developed a way of communicating there that is unique and authentic to me and my voice, by creating twitter poems. Because of my biggest relationship to twitter and my reluctance to leave, I will give myself until December 24th, 2019 to extract myself from that social medium. I need to slowly extract all of my poems, document them and find ways to point my followers to this blog medium.
I am so excited about this transition. I am looking forward to keeping a more regular blog, as a way to share who I am and who I am becoming. Thank you for coming along with me for this journey.
I am writing this from Manndalen, Norway, home of the Riddu Riddu festival! Riddu Riddu is an Indigenous music festival in the northern part of Norway. I performed as AKU-MATU here last year as part of the Alaskan Native contingent as Alaskan Natives were the "Northern Peoples of the Year" in 2017.
This year, I have returned as part of a first ever Inuit Circumpolar Arctic Hip-Hop Collaboration. We are creating new music that will be released as mp3's and also on vinyl in 2018. It is an exciting collaboration, led by Greenlandic beatmaker and producer, Aqqalu Berthelsen.
It is beautiful here in Manndalen. We as a collaborative team arrived to the festival to work on our collaborations. There are also hip-hop dancers here that will be part of the festival and part of the collaboration.
After Manndalen, I will travel to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates to do the initial research for "Everybody Will Be A Millionaire!" which is a collaboration between myself and Iñupiaq photographer Brian Adams. I am nervous about the heat, about being in 106 degree fahrenheit temperatures for six days in a row.
I hope to sit on a camel. I am excited to be in a different part of the world.
I recently spent almost three weeks in Kaktovik, my traditional homelands. I had no internet access while there, which was great in many ways. It was so good to be home. Now, I travelled halfway across the world to be in the Arctic again, with Inuit from different places in the Arctic. Collaborating, creating new music.
I highly recommend visiting the Riddu Riddu festival. It was a longtime dream come true to be able to perform here last year, and a big honor to return again so soon as part of a collaborative team.
The above photo is of me as a little girl, in Kaktovik, with my dog Nanook. The more legit way of spelling it is Nanuq, and it means polar bear in Iñupiaq. I grew up in Fairbanks, Alaska. I was born and raised there. My Mom was raised in Kaktovik, Alaska. We would travel to Kaktovik throughout my childhood and my Mom ended up moving back to Kaktovik at one point in her life, and I stayed with her off and on while she had a place in Kaktovik.
It is a dream of mine to eventually build a home in Kaktovik and to live there part of the year.
Growing up in Fairbanks, relatives from both Kaktovik and Barrow would visit Fairbanks for different reasons and often they would stay with my Mom and I. Even though my Mom was raising me in an urban environment, she did get quite a bit of subsistence foods sent down to her and we ourselves would go ice fishing and also berry picking in the greater Fairbanks area. I remember we would also go up to Kaktovik to go camping out on the land. I also remember hunting as a small girl, up in Kaktovik.
This photo is taken outside the post office in Kaktovik. It looks like I have bandages on my hands, and it might have been from a four-wheeler accident. I remember going home to my Aaka's house (grandmother - the newer word for grandmother, the older way is to say Aana, I grew up calling her Aaka) and I had my parka all dirty and muddy and my legs and boots were muddy. I had gotten into a four-wheeler crash with a cousin, but I was ok.
I think Nanook was the first dog that I remember having. My Mom says we had an Irish setter named Prince when I was a baby, and after Nanook, I remember a black lab named King. We also had Irish setter/lab mix named Sam, a husky named Evan, a lab/german shepard mix named Geordi (my mom's dog), and then later on I had a chocolate lab named Logi. My mom later had a Nanook of her own (a rat terrier). I would like to have a dog again, yet the timing is not right to have one now.
I am writing this blog, going back in my memories with you while I take a break from my current self-funded, self-directed artistic residency in Seattle at Hing Hay Coworks. I have been here for two and a half weeks, and I leave in a week. I have had a very productive residency, and I would return to Hing Hay again to work. It has been a period of intense focus for me, which has been very healing.
I work for myself, so I have been doing a lot of different things, all at once, making sure everything is covered and taken care of. It's a fun challenge. I do envision having a team that supports me in the future. A team of people of whom I trust and who bring a lot to the table. A fun, yet focused team, getting my work out into the world.
Thank you again for reading my blog. I forgot to talk about my visits to Missouri as a kid, where my Dad is from. I will save stories of that for a different post. If you want even more access and stories, subscribe to my Patreon account. See you next week for my next blog installment!
Hello. Welcome to my blog! A place for you to get to know me more. I intend to post here once a week, possibly more about my life, my artistic practice, and about where I am and what I am working on.
Thanks for finding me on the internet! The above photo is of me, as a baby.
It might sound crazy, but I remember being a baby, and more specifically, I remember smiling for this photograph. I remember thinking, "I made it!" I made it to another lifetime. And here I am.
I am Iñupiaq. I was raised to be Iñupiaq. My Mom is full Iñupiaq, and my Dad is a redheaded man from Missouri. I attended my grandmothers funeral in Missouri a couple of years ago (my Dad's Mom), and I was surprised to find out that she was part Indigenous, from a tribe in North America. I am not sure which tribe, it is something that I need to do research on. I'm not sure if my family knows. I talked to some of my cousins about it and asked about the tribes that were from that area. I need to travel there, talk to my older relatives that are there and hopefully see if there are photos. I think from the photos I will be able to contact the different Nations directly and hopefully get help solving the mystery.
My Dad divorced my Mom when I was two, so I was raised fully as an Iñupiaq, as my Mom likes to say. I grew up around Elders. I was given Iñupiaq names as a baby, which is part of our traditions. I grew up in a small city, yet travelled to Kaktovik, where my Mom is from and where I am a tribally enrolled member of the Native Village of Kaktovik.
There are so many stories to tell. I am in a really exciting moment in my career as an artist. I am like a bird, just catching the wind, seeing where I can go, how I can get there. I see my blog as a way to give you more insight into how I became the person I am today. A way to take you along on my journey with me. I'm very excited to share with you. Thank you for being here. If you want, check out my Patreon page where I list out goals for each month and report back to subscribers on my progress. It is another way to have deeper access to my process, my goals and intentions.
I look forward to sharing more. Quyanaqpak (thank you very much)!
Allison Akootchook Warden