September 29, 2015

Speaking Strength Into Being

What is your personal mantra? What do you tell yourself when the going gets tough, or when you're nervous, tired, upset or down? We've all had those moments when we need a little extra encouragement.

I hit those moments a lot. I don’t think people know this, but I get insanely nervous every time I’m about to do a presentation or host an event. Deep down, I either feel like I want to flee (“run Jessica, just run for it!”) or vomit. I have a mantra that gets me through those times.

I also get really hard on myself. For example, if I think that I could have done a better job, or if something doesn't work out, I’ll get upset or even depressed. I have another mantra for those moments to shake myself out of it.

I think we all have those sayings that we bust out in rough times either to ground ourselves or to cheer ourselves up and on. Maybe the saying came from a friend, a grandma, a role model, or even a meme. But, you heard it, and it clicked, and it opened a whole new understanding of the world, and it guided you through that rough patch.

Although I'm calling it a mantra, Native American communities have long thought the act of speaking to be a form of creation - you could speak things into being, so it was critical to be mindful of what you said. Words hold power.

I wanted to tap into that energy and that process with this post, and so below, we share the various mantras that get us through the darkness. Here are 6 awesome Native American females and the words that empower them to stand up, push forward, and do their best.

“Keep it moving.”
- Tailinh Agoyo (Naragansett / Blackfeet), artist and promoter

I’m a parent, and so I pretty much have to exercise positive self talk all day. But I think the three that I focus on most are 1) “Be kind to yourself,” and 2) “Keep it moving,” and 3) last, I loved this meme that I saw on Facebook, “To be happy is a great decision.” Also, there is that Elizabeth Gilbert quote, “You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestation of your own blessings.” I've got variations of that going too.

“It’s not getting done if I’m not getting it done.”
- Jamie Okuma (Luiseno / Shoshone Bannock), artist and designer

When things don’t work out as planned, or bad things come up, I allow myself a day to be angry then reflect, process and problem solve the next day. I take a breath and realize that I can’t get upset about things that are beyond my control.

“Your life has already been prayed into existence.”
- Jaclyn Roessel (Navajo), fashionista and museum professional

I have two mantras right now; one shared by my love, "Be your resilience," and two, "Your life has already been prayed into existence." They remind me of all the fierceness in my bloodline and my support circle. People who love me and want to help me 'shine love.' They also remind how being connected to prayer is important for my healthy existence.

One step at a time!”
- Kristen Dorsey (Chickasaw), jewelry designer and metalsmith

When I feel overwhelmed, which happens often as an entrepreneur, I take every challenge and project and break it down into very small steps and go from there. I also love the quote by Chickasaw author Linda Hogan: "Walking, I am listening to a deeper way. Suddenly all my ancestors are behind me. Be still, they say. Watch and listen. You are the result of the love of thousands."

Everything happens for a reason.
- Alicia Littlebear (Tamaya / Mvskoke Creek / Absentee Shawnee / Euchee), model and fitness advocate

Whether things are going incredibly great or horribly wrong, I tell myself "everything happens for a reason." When life is great, it's amazing and beautiful. The creator gives gifts. Gifts that have been earned or ones that are needed to change life for the better. However, when those tough times in life hit, they hit hard. Then I have remember to tell myself "everything happens for reason." This bad thing happening to me is for a reason. The creator is trying to teach something or keep me from harm. I may not know why in that moment because I am hurt and sad. I do have faith in the creator that he would never harm me. Remembering that this bad thing is happening for good reason is what gets me through. Then I remember this quote as well: "we control nothing, the spirits control everything." I immediately go into prayer, asking the creator to make the way for me. To guide me. These are things that I have been taught by my mother, grandmother, and aunts. They are strong women who have taught me to have faith in our creator.

“Believe in yourself, never give up!”
- Jona Peltier (Turtle Mountain Chippewa), sister and clinical social worker

I even put it on my business cards! This is what I tell myself. I actually want to get a tattoo saying this. The most important thing is to stay positive.

“Good thoughts, good things.”
- Jessica R. Metcalfe (Turtle Mountain Chippewa), fashion promoter and educator

I bust this one out a lot. Anytime that I find negative thoughts creeping in, I remind myself that good thoughts, or positive thinking, always leads to good things, or positive outcomes. It’s tough though; I’ve had dark times and negative thoughts take over my mind. I just repeat this phrase over and over – like meditation – until I feel it in my heart and until I feel uplifted. It seriously works - it can take time! - but it works. I feel comforted, and I can see the path to light or a resolution to the problem.