How did The Ahnung Way come to be?
Ahnung (means ‘star’ in ojibwe) was rescued by an elder, Karen Good, at Red Lake Reservation in northern Minnesota in the fall of 2008. She had just had a litter of puppies, remnants of lead in her body from bebe pellets and no front teeth from grinding her teeth down in search of food. 2008 was an incredibly difficult year for me. Memories, nightmares and flashbacks from sexual abuse that had occurred when I was 9 years old came flooding back. In my volunteer role as president of a foster-based animal rescue in Minnesota my path led me to this amazing elder at Red Lake and to Ahnung. I chose the name Ahnung, as I wanted a name that represented her Anishinaabe roots and because she had become my north star and guided me out and through a very painful childhood trauma. We became a therapy dog team and together we volunteered with ‘at risk’ youth and in hospice. She touched hearts and healed wounded spirits with her presence, her resilience, her way, her wisdom.
I will share more in future blog posts about our story and how she helped me find my way out of the darkness, and also heal physically. I had five short and incredibly precious and magical years with her.
I wrote the following in March, 2014 when the seed of The Ahnung Way was planted …
It’s been 6.5 months now since my sweet Ahnung crossed over into the spirit world. My heart still aches for her and often I find myself hoping I will wake up, and this will all just be a bad dream …. and she will be there right next to me, or I will hear a big thump as she throws herself down on the floor to sleep, or we will be taking one of our long leisurely walks. I feel her presence with me every moment. I feel her guiding me from the spirit world, and yes, she continues to send me signs and messages. She led me to Ishkode (menas ‘fire’ in ojibwe) and the little fireball girl continues to make me laugh and smile with all her antics and mischief. I have no doubt Ahnung gifted Legacy with Ishkode … as the two of them are as bonded as Legacy and Ahnung were .. only this time, Legacy is the big brother guiding his little sister in the same way Ahnung guided him.
A few weeks ago, Ahnung appeared in my dream. This was only the second time she has appeared in my dreams since she left the physical world on August 25, 2013. I shared the following on Feb. 20th:
“I am sure it’s not a coincidence that the morning after Ahnung appeared to me in my dreams, in what was so real and vision like, that I got a call from Purina to meet with leaders of animal welfare organizations in St. Louis. In 1968, when I was 4 our family traveled across the world from Thailand to Barnes Hospital in St. Louis in hopes doctors could save his life. He crossed into the spirit world on December 20, 1968. I returned to St. Louis in 1980 when we moved to the U.S. for our education and lived in St. Louis for ~ 16 years. Purina, in their efforts to build a coalition in Missouri ‘found’ me … I have no doubt my Papa and Ahnung had something to do with it. Here is what I posted on the dream I had the night before I received the call: “And last night, Ahnung (for the second time since her spirit crossed over on August 25, 2013) appeared in my dream and she showed me a new way, a new vision. I am not a visual artist, and I woke up with an image so vivid, so clear … a circle with with people of all colors, races, ages .. of animals, of trees, of rocks .. and at the center was a fire and flame that reached up into the skies; and with us were stars, a squirrel, an eagle and a turtle. And I could hear drums. It was as if I could hear the heart of the earth beating. I could hear Ahnung’s heart. I could hear my heart, everyone’s heart. We were one heart .. and then I woke up”
So I reach out to the stars … to Ahnung and to my Papa, for guidance, as I travel back to St. Louis next week. My life is not my life … and my work on earth must not be done.”
The vision remains so clear and vivid. I have been unable to erase the image from my mind and from my heart. And over the past few weeks, the words “The Ahnung Way” keeps appearing.
I hear Ahnung telling me I have more work to do, and that my work goes far beyond animals … I hear Ahnung telling me to listen and to open up my eyes, my senses, my heart to the expanse of something so much greater; not to limit my world and energy to the world of animal welfare, and to not even limit it to this physical world. There are many bridges that connect all of us in this world, and there is a bridge that also connects us to those who have crossed over into the spirit world.
Ahnung is asking me to walk a new path …. The Ahnung Way. I don’t know exactly where this path will lead me, but I know that the vision she brought to me a few weeks ago is something I cannot ignore …
It is now 4 years later. The Ahnung Way has been growing and spreading roots beneath the soil … in that time Ahnung has guided me beyond the world of animal welfare into working with indigenous communities and my roots of Asian American communities; expanding and exploring collaborations and building bridges to work with underserved communities; reaching beyond my current practices of meditation and writing to other forms of healing (embodied transformation) … and recently, to taiko drumming as a healing practice on so many levels.
It is only in still water that we can see – Taoist proverb