New Year, New Dreams? Use This Indigenous Teaching To Help You Take The Pressure Off.

I wanted to cry. Between two rows of corn, I stood like a starfish with a stalk in each hand, pressing my feet down into the ground. I didn’t know what else to do. T was away on a trip, and I felt alone, defeated, and overwhelmed. After standing like that for a few minutes with the wind whipping against my face and rain soaking through my clothes, I decided to let go.

As I looked around the garden, especially our ancient giants: the corn, tobacco, and sunflowers, bending with the wind, I could see their roots, like fingers, trying to grasp what soil hadn’t yet been swept away. I whispered good luck and walked away.

Letting go can sometimes be hard. Especially if you feel like you’ve committed a lot of work, time, and energy on something, like T and I had done with this garden. But this pressure I’d put on myself, thinking I could somehow change the outcome of a storm, was definitely not something I adopted from my family.

Our culture teaches us to understand that there are forces, besides ourselves, that are not our role to influence, control, or stop, but instead, to find balance in our relationship with them.


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But from a young age in this culture, through the education system and society, you learn the importance of control. You learn that control means power and lack thereof being powerless and maybe even a failure at something or in life. You learn to use control to shape every aspect of your life. That all you have to do is set goals and follow a plan to reach them and you’ll be what this culture considers successful.

But if you’ve lived long enough to read this, you know it’s not that simple. In life, there are a lot of things that, despite your plans and efforts, are out of your control. That shouldn’t stop you from dreaming though.


My people say that winter comes to purify Earth, to “begin new dreams and new sown fields.”

Around this time last year, I started my dream of having a garden filled with ancestral foods and medicines that could support myself and other Indigenous people. And like with every dream, fear was always right behind me, asking: What if you can’t do it?

But our dreams are like seeds— if you don’t plant it, it has no chance of growing. So I went for it and I’m glad I did because it, completely and unexpectedly, ended up fulfilling another dream: to meet someone special to share my life with. Enter T—Thae A Gho Wens (He Splits the Sun).

Never let the fear that comes from the pressure of trying to control and foresee everything get in the way of your dreams. Or get you weighted down by stress and anxiety.


Remember this Indigenous teaching to help take the pressure off as you begin this new year or dreams:

On Nag Mapu, this Earth We Walk On, you’re never alone. You’re always surrounded by other forces. And your role is not to stop them or try to control them, but instead, find balance in your relationship with them— whether that’s people, life circumstances, or a storm.

Did you notice that it wasn’t letting go and walking away that made me feel defeated? What made me feel defeated and overwhelmed was believing I could do the impossible: control something I couldn’t.

Letting go removed the pressure and gave me calm, and I think it could do the same for you.

Instead of thinking of life as a linear road that takes you from one place to another, think of it as a river. Currents move you, storms help you grow. Embrace it, and see where it takes you.


Pewkayal (Until We Meet Again)
Mandy Kvyen

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Ps. The storm that hit our area ended up washing away miles of roads and train tracks. Yet somehow, the garden only suffered minor damage and later ended up thriving. Even the corn that had fallen over bent their stalks so they could reach back up towards the sky.

Pps. You might also like: Lifestorms: An Oral Story and Its Wisdoms

Ppps. If you enjoy these stories and teachings and want to support my work:
a) Forward this article to a friend. Or…
b) Treat me a coffee here


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