Seeing People as They Truly Are

my family history

It’s been a very sad, heavy and wearying week, hasn’t it? As much as I want to come onto this blog and start chatting about clothing and personal style and my latest sewing project…fashion just isn’t what I’ve been thinking about. My mind has been occupied elsewhere this past week, as I think we all have been- and rightly so.

For the past few days I have been delving into the issue of discrimination and wrestling through my thoughts on all the sides and aspects of such a complicated topic. I have wanted to run away from this issue. I have wanted to avoid the turmoil and stay wrapped up in my cozy little home. I have been afraid to post in case I say the wrong thing.

But I have not been called to hide, and change must come from each of us. I may not have all the words to say, but I don’t think that I can ignore the issue and post pretty photos of lilacs and dresses either, so I thought that I would write this out, just to get it out on paper, and share it here in case it can be of any help to you too.

I don’t talk about it a lot because it doesn’t come up very often, but I am Native American. I don’t look like it, but my dad’s side of the family is from northern BC & Yukon, and I am in fact a member of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations. It’s not a very big part of my life, because I didn’t grow up in the Yukon, I didn’t grow up on a reserve, and for the most part have lived a very “white” life.

Oh, that and the fact that I don’t look Native.

I live in Western Canada, in Alberta, and I have not seen a lot of racism towards black people in person (the black lives matter issue that is specifically tearing the world apart right now), so I cannot speak to that, and it would be hypocritical for me to do so. However, I have seen discrimination against native people, where I live in Canada. My own family members have experienced discrimination because of how “Indian” they look. (Bullying while growing up, getting beaten up, mockery in the workplace, not even to mention the historical oppression of Native Americans…)

I have seen this racism, but I have never experienced it firsthand because I don’t look “Indian”. This just goes to show how ridiculous this kind of discrimination is; I am genetically Native American (with some immigrant heritage thrown in), but because I don’t look like it…I am somehow exempt.

When it comes right down to it, scientifically our skin colour is only a very small fraction of the layers of our skin, and skin colour is a direct result of how that layer reacts to the sun. According to The Body by Bill Bryson, that layer is only about 1 mm thick (so thin that it is translucent). That is a very small amount of cells to divide people so radically.

After thinking about this issue for several days, and wrestling through my thoughts on all the sides and aspects of such a complicated topic, I have come to the conclusion that these problems we are seeing across the world are not rooted in racism.

What is racism really? We are all members of the human race. Whether you are black, white, red, or whatever colour you identify as; we are all human. Biologically there is no such thing as race. Our bodies do not have any defining characteristics to divide between people.

Even though it seems that the root cause of racism may be unique to one people group- looking at someone and discriminating against them because they have a different skin colour than you- that isn’t really the issue. After all, a white person can discriminate against a black person. A black person can discriminate against a native person. A native person can discriminate against an asian person….

I do not give these examples to distract from the very real and scary problems that people of colour are facing every day, but to show that discrimination can come from anywhere, by anyone and it all comes down to the same root problem: a desire to puff ourselves up and selfishly put ourselves first.

The real problem is in looking at someone else, picking out what is different about them, seeing them as somehow “less” than you, and discriminating against them because you don’t value their humanity.

By removing someone of their humanity, suddenly no evil action is beyond the scope of imagination.

Why were Native Americans wiped of their culture, taken from their families, put in residential schools, and made the subject of systemic abuse and stereotypes that exist to this day? Because their humanity was erased.

Why were people with physical and mental disabilities exterminated by the Nazis in the 1930’s and 40’s to sounds of celebration? Because their humanity was erased.

Why were Africans enslaved for hundreds of years in North America (and Europe) and still face real danger and prejudices to this day? Because their humanity was erased.

Why are people of colour being killed unjustly all over the world, no matter which culture or country they live in, still today? Because their humanity is still being erased.

This root of this problem is not racism.

This root of this problem is not oppression and power.

The root of this problem is the arrogance of looking at someone else, separating yourself from them, elevating yourself above them, and refusing to see them as a human made in the image of our Creator God.

The root of this problem is Sin.

When it comes right down to it, our actions towards others are determined by what we believe about others. Why is life valuable? What is it that makes us human? What is it that makes each of us worthy of life, dignity and respect? Before anything can change, we need to recognize the inherent value that each person has because they are a human made by God. We need to believe what God himself has said:

‘Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.’ Genesis 1:26-27

So, what is the solution to the problem? It can’t be fixed with human ideas.

The solution to the problem is not overthrowing those who are oppressing us. There will always be someone new to trample upon someone else.

The solution is not in educating everyone and making them see things from our perspective, though activism can be a great tool.

The solution is not in creating distinctions between people or even in trying to celebrate our differences.

The only real solution that can be found is to humble ourselves, take the focus off of ourselves, and follow the example of Christ:

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross! ” Philippians 2: 3- 10

I do not give these examples today to point fingers at others. I have done some of my own self reflection this past week and have taken a look at my own ideas. I have wanted to run away from the issue and not think about it; I did not want to stare my own prejudices in the face and see where I have acted wrongfully towards others. I have had to repent of some of those actions and attitudes.

“Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves.” Romans 12: 10

“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends upon you, live at peace with everyone….Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12: 17, 18, 21

I may not have been as eloquent as I hoped to be, and may not have said everything as it should have been said, but I hope and pray that these words, dear friend, will have entered into the chaos and turmoil that is spreading all over the globe, and that they will have given you a pause and a peace to reflect upon. My prayer is that in the midst of all of the pain of the past few days and weeks, we will not find peace and fulfilment in anything on this earth, but will instead turn to the only One who can truly heal.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

April Showers Bring May Flowers

purple violets amongst the grass

Spring took its time arriving this year. The leaves have finally popped, and the flowers are just starting to bloom. We are several weeks “behind” (though it’s not as though Spring follows a schedule) so it’s been lovely to finally see the garden coming up in the past couple of weeks.

tiny yellow tulips blooming

These are tiny yellow and white tulips- only a few inches tall, and they were the first to come up!

I don’t have much to say today. I was looking forward to getting into blogging regularly again and had a schedule planned, but then hit a bump in the road health-wise which has slowed me down quite considerably for the past week. Thankfully, I am now on the road to recovery, and at last able to put down some words and edit some photos! I’ve also been thinking a lot lately about different fashion related topics. I haven’t written up any posts lately, but am hoping to get some thoughts down on paper soon, and be able to bring you some more blog posts, like back in the “old days” of this blog. (haha- only a couple of years ago, but time does fly!)

I hope you are doing well, and happy weekend everyone!

periwinkle iris bloom

I wish you could smell this iris- it has the sweetest scent!

pink blooms

Nanking Cherry with such a pretty pink bloom, 

violets and hens and chicks

These tiny little violets came up in the lawn- so adorable. And hens and chicks on the right.

tiny white flowers

These tiny white flowers are a weed, but so pretty! Each bloom is only about 3-4mm across.

yellow buttercups and baby leaves

These tiny yellow cinquefoil flowers also came up in the grass- so cute. Right: don’t you love new leaf green?

plum tree blooms

My favourite plum tree, just covered in beautiful, sweet blooms this year!

plum tree and false spirea

More plum blooms, and False Spirea leaves on the right. 

bog flower

Bog Rosemary- such a cool pink flower!

Elephants Ears on the left and Bethlehem Sage on the right. 

baby oak leaves

Some tiny, baby, oak leaves to finish it off. 

Florals for Spring, From my Fashion Scrapbook

This is from a wedding magazine, but I would love to wear a floral headpiece like this for other occasions too! Isn’t it beautiful?

Florals for Spring may not be “groundbreaking” according to Miranda Priestly, but no matter how cliché they may be, isn’t there something so nice about reflecting the changing of the seasons in your clothing choices?

I think that Spring is the most anticipated wardrobe change of the year, since it is such a dramatic departure from winter clothing. After a long, cold winter, there really is nothing as lovely as wearing your floral pieces!

I do, of course, wear florals all year round, but even so, it is still nice to be “seasonally appropriate” from time to time.

After taking a look through this scrapbook the other day, I thought that it would be nice to share some of my favourite floral and Spring themed magazine tear-sheets with you all!

It’s at times like this, that I miss living in town, because my bicycle, sadly, isn’t meant for country roads!

I love the photography, and this jumpsuit, from this page from an old Free People catalogue.

I do love a good clashing pattern, like on the left. And that skirt on the right is all of my Spring/Summer dreams come to life.

This one was from a Vogue article about “how to wear Vintage”. I like the updated take on the classic 1950’s silhouette (though I didn’t agree with all of their “advice”!)

Another lovely image from this spread…

And another gorgeous Free People image. I’ve never actually worn a flower crown…but I’m beginning to think that it is a must-have Spring accessory!

One of my favourite ads, above! The retro, pastel colour palette is just so fun.

Which of these images is your favourite? Are you an all-year-round florals person, or do you wear them only for warm weather?

A Different Kind of Easter

feeding the chickens in my easter outfit

Happy Belated Easter everyone….I’m only posting these 2 1/2 weeks late, but better late than never!

It’s been a very strange year so far, I’m sure we can all agree, but the hardest part for me so far was Easter Sunday. We woke up bright and early… and then weren’t able to leave the house to go to church. To be honest, I debated whether to dress up in my traditional Easter dress and bonnet or not. I’m so glad that I decided to after all: even if only my family (and now you) saw me dressed up, it really did make the day more special.

It’s been a busy April. I ended up having to move-again- right before Easter weekend, so even though I wanted something fresh and new to wear, I wasn’t sure whether I was going to have the time to make something. In the end, I was able to grab a bit time to refashion an old dress into a new wrap skirt just in time for Easter!

pressed wishes pendant necklace

I made the dress about… 7 years ago? You can see it here. It was Butterick 4790 and it was never a very good dress, since it’s not a very good pattern. It’s made to wrap from back to front, but the overskirt of the dress is heavy compared to the underskirt, so it had an awful tendency to pull from the shoulders and for the fabric to catch on the underskirt making it crawl up. I did love the look of the dress and the fabric it was made of but, even though I did wear it quite a lot, it really wasn’t the most fun while wearing.

While looking through my closet a few weeks ago, I saw the dress and started thinking about how I could reinvent it. After a few hours of unpicking, cutting and reassembling- I had a new circle skirt! Paired with a cream lace blouse, navy peep toes, my new botanical necklace by Pressed Wishes and a vintage straw boater, it was the perfect festive Spring outfit.

new hummingbird patterned wrap skirt

I’ve already worn this skirt several times since then, that I am thinking about adding another in this style to my wardrobe- the only difficulty is that the fabric stores are closed. Maybe I can find something in my stash that would work….? I’ve got so many plans for sewing projects, now that I’ve got some more free time, but we’ll see how many of those plans end up coming to fruition. I don’t always have the best track record- remember the “made one” of my #makenine challenge? And in case you’re wondering, I haven’t sewed any more of the things on that list…. 🙁

easter 2020 outfit

I’ve been wanting to take some pictures with our chickens (my mom’s chickens, rather) for quite a while, but the weather has only just started warming up in the past couple of weeks. You can tell that the chickens really don’t care about me: while we were taking these pictures, they kept wandering away since I had no treats for them. At least we got a few photos with them in the frame! And what better friends to include in an Easter post than your flock of chickens with their pretty speckled eggs?

speckled eggs and black copper marans chickens

How was your Easter this year? And how have you been doing these past couple of months? Have you been dressing up for special occasions or everyday events even though things are all topsy-turvy right now? And have you been finding any time for extra sewing/crafting/other assorted hobbies?

vintage straw and navy ribbon boater

black copper marans chickens and a new easter outfit

easter straw boater hat

new circle wrap skirt and flock of chickens