Wednesday, December 9, 2015


John Trudell died yesterday. He was 69, my husband’s age.  John is one of those select people that I always wanted to meet. He had little formal education but he was a brilliantly complex thinker and vibrant communicator. He was also a visionary. While he participated in the AIM (American Indian Movement) protests at Alcatraz Island and Wounded knee South Dakota, he saw much further to the importance of recognizing the rights of indigenous people for the benefit of all people and even for the future of the world. He was aware that losing awareness of being indigenous was losing one’s human identity as a child of mother earth.   Here we are almost at the end of 2015. I guess it wasn’t in his contract to go further into this 21st Century.  He delivered his message in print and with his earthy sonorous voice and he lived and suffered this message. It was his job, the one he was born to do.

I identified with him as a freethinker and visionary but wished I had his courage and public presence.  He had little formal education because he was born a child of the world and there were no schools teaching those skills. His philosophy and worldview confirmed my own hard-lived beliefs. There is no doubt that he was the most eloquent of native activists, but he also saw beyond his own people and recognized that the Red Road empowered him to live good medicine for everyone. He saw the real plight of his people and he saw beyond it to the faltering essence of being a human in the modern world.

John Trudell lost his mother at an early age and his wife and children to a house fire that may not have been an accident since at the time he was bearing down hard and effectively for native rights.  There was always controlled fire in his words and I suspect he knew that he was planting seeds but the harvest would be a long time in coming. 

John Trudell deserves a rest. I hope there is someone worthy to take up his work and carry it forward.  I am so thankful that he stayed with us as long as he did.  He was a very passionate man. You heard it in his message and you heard it in the fiery delivery of his speeches and poems, but it always aimed precisely like a laser beam. Despite the personal struggles and losses, he didn’t succumb to hateful reactive words. He knew that the big picture always loomed behind his words.

I always felt some fragility about his earthly presence. There are certain people that you just know are hanging to this dimension by a fragile cord.  I’m not accusing him of any death wish. Far from it, but he was cloaked in the essence of someone far ahead of his time who may only be hanging out here for a particular reason and when the message was delivered might fade into another dimension.

No matter what they ever do to us, we must always act for the love of our people and the earth. We must not react out of hatred against those who have no sense.”
― John Trudell

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Shining Light on the Shadows

This morning with coffee and notebook on the old green rocker, I was getting in touch with my feelings and thoughts for the first time in several days. A house full of people and animals is not conducive to meditation but it is conducive to material to meditate on when you finally get the opportunity.

This time of year seems to be especially volatile.   Expectations heightened and resentments based on disappointed hopes and unfulfilled socially generated desires explode to the surface like lava boiling up beneath the garden of hope. Then there are the terrorists who seem to have upgraded their activity.
My inner voice said- Don’t look too much at terror and destruction. There are good things, eternal things all around us. There are people being kind, people being healed of cancer, people putting their life on the line for other people, love between dogs and cats, children of poverty helping other children, and  rain falling on parched ground after years of drought.  
My writing companion

We are encouraged to focus on inequality, poverty, rabid terrorist groups, government corruption, increased police brutality, copycat mass shootings, global warming or the fragile condition of the economy. The list is quite long. 

Our conditioning tells us to see news as bad news. Our curiosity magnetizes us to fear horror, loss and destruction.  I remember the scene from childhood when my uncle slaughtered a cow, or sometimes just medicated a cow against its will. The other cows formed a ring around one of their own in distress and bellowed in unison.  It’s instinct to concentrate on a threat and try to eliminate it or at least announce it in hopes of challenging it. But, if there is too much emphasis on the threat, after a while that’s all we notice.  Attention is drained from life, the lights dim and darkness settles over our thoughts. 

I’m not recommending a state of denial. That is another form of domination by darkness. We must not deny the truth, but the point is we must include the whole truth and aim at balance.  Although light and dark are always with us, they are not equal.  Light shines on the dark and it goes away. Darkness takes over as the light goes dim and triumphs only when the light goes out. Darkness has a passive background quality.

Of course, dark and light are always cheek by jowl but don’t think they are equals or of the same substance. Darkness has no energy of its own. Absence of light is what it is. It snuffs out energy, gobbles it up. Light is the good, the beautiful, the courageous, the creative and even evil wouldn’t have a stage or a script without the creative vitality of light.  Real life is of course a blend of light and dark.  Our everyday world is made of shades of grey.  Love fuels life and light and its absence is very dark and empty.  We need to feed our hearts and mind with love and its creative flame. Without light, we become hungrier and hungrier until starvation drives us mad.

This world and its creatures are a work in progress in a universe in process. Because it’s not complete and perhaps never will be, its role in the universe is not set in stone and weeds are still growing on the other side of this metaphor.  Sometimes the unwanted growth of weeds is suffocating to whatever is trying to grow among them and sometimes they are protection for whatever is sprouting in their shade.
Why does God allow misery, destruction, ISIS terrorists, crooked politics, the sudden death by drunk driver of a loving parent and an innocent child, or the extinction of a species, and a rain forest destroyed for short-term gain?  Still, the source never dies.   Only the forms die and they will come back again and again with gracious variation. 

When I was a child, I enjoyed sick days alone on Mom and Dad’s bed. That was when our house didn’t have bedrooms and I generally slept on the couch. Sickness was an upgrade. I had my watercolors, paper, pencils, and kaleidoscope.  Even if my vision was blurry from fever, the kaleidoscope was a source of endless fascination.  Breathtaking mandalas appeared with each twist of the simple tube, colored pieces of glass and mirrors in endless variation.  Maybe God likes kaleidoscopes too. Perhaps God  is twisting the tube and yet each stone is also God experiencing the ride.

However, we mortal creatures tumble hard with each twist and God must be reminded that every small piece is part of the total effect and each tumbling stone adds to the great design.  It is the feedback every creator needs.


Friday, October 30, 2015


 Many of you have asked about the completion and release of Awakening in Taos the biopic of Mabel Dodge Luhan. Well, here it is. This film and the process of its creation has been an important part of our lives for five years. We have made friends that are like family over this time and it is hard to believe that completion of the goal is so near. Here is the information that will be in the press release. It may be edited a bit more for The Santa Fe New Mexican-- Pasatiempo but this is the essential information.

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Awakening in Taos World Premiere at LensicTheator
Date: November 18, 2015
Pre-Screening Party at Blue Rain Gallery 5-6:30 PM
World Premiere Screening at Lensic 7:00 PM
Tickets: $25 for Premier
               $75 for Premiere and Pre-Screening Party at Blue Rain Gallery

Screening will be attended by Mayor Javier Gonzales, actors Ali MacGraw and Marsha Mason. Awakening in Taos is narrated by actor Ali MacGraw and features Marsha Mason as the voice of Mabel. Taos actor and photographer Zoe Zimmerman portrays young Mabel in historic re-enactment sequences. Project producer Awakening in Taos, LLC, has a mission to make meaningful films about extraordinary people who live or have lived in New Mexico. This film was created in partnership with New Mexico PBS.  Heading the project are producers Katie Peters, Pat Hall, Jill Drinkwater and writer-director Mark J. Gordon. Support comes from a unique consortium of creative independent women, actors, film professionals and volunteers who believe in this story about one of New Mexico’s most remarkable women: Mabel Dodge Luhan.

Awakening in Taos is a documentary about the extraordinary life of Mabel Dodge Luhan, influential writer, solon hostess, patroness of the arts and catalyst for cultural change.  Inspired by the native culture and distinctive landscape of Taos, New Mexico she promoted a vision of social transformation. She broadcast this ideal by inviting to Taos many famous and iconoclastic artists, writers and social activists, in her words, “the movers and shakers” of the early 20th century. Her list of guests included D.H Lawrence, Georgia O’Keefe, Willa Cather, John Collier, Marsden Hartley, John Marin, and Carl Jung among a host of many.

Mabel was born to a wealthy family in Buffalo New York at the height of the Victorian era. As a child and young woman, she experienced little warmth and no sense of meaning within the confining social conventions of the age. The role of women was passive and secondary in a world ruled by men. Literally tricked into her first marriage, she became a widowed mother when her husband died from a hunting accident. Confused and depressed, her mother sent her to Europe, the customary cure for emotional distress among the Victorian upper class.

 In Paris, she met architect Edwin Dodge who became her second husband, and in her quest to experience aliveness, she acquired a villa in Florence Italy and soon launched a salon. She met Gertrude Stein and hosted many now famous modern artists, musicians and poets on the cutting edge of social change in pre-World War One Europe.  In this heady milieu, Mabel charged into the complexities of self-discovery.  In the ensuing phase of her life, she experienced several failed marriages and disappointing love affairs before eventually taking responsibility for her own happiness. Producer Kathleen Peters notes, “Mabel grew up a tormented young woman. For her to expand from repressed Victorian into a leading exponent of the modern age was a huge character arc. She did so using the tools of Modernism—art, psychiatry, travel, marriage and divorce.” 

Intuition and a sense of adventure were the impetus that first brought Mabel to the remote New Mexico town of Taos. While visiting third husband Maurice Sterne in Santa Fe, at that time beyond the outer edge of civilization by east coast standards, Mabel made up her mind to take the 17-hour trip to Taos. She found the stark natural, almost supernatural purity of the place in exquisite contrast to anything she had previously known.  To her, Taos seemed a harsh mirror exposing all that was false strained and without heart in the world from which she came. She soon rented a house in Taos and before long began visiting the Red Willow (Tiwa) People in nearby Taos Pueblo. 

It is hard to overemphasize the impact that this ancient pyramid of rectangular mud homes had on the new visitor. Soon after discovering the Pueblo, Mabel met her last husband, Antonio Luhan a full-blooded member of Taos Pueblo. Their marriage lasted 40 years ending with her death. Tony passed the following year.  Such a pairing was almost inconceivable for their time.  Tony especially sacrificed his considerable tribal powers to be with Mabel and share her vision. 

With Tony she campaigned to defeat the Bursum Bill of 1924 that had it passed would have taken hundreds of thousands of acres away from the 19 New Mexico tribes.  This campaign set into motion the events eventually resulting in the return of 45,000 acres including their sacred Blue Lake to the Taos Pueblo.  Mabel also made many contributions to the Town of Taos including the donation of a building once constructed for her son to the Town for Holy Cross Hospital.  Her greater vision of the intuitive, earth based spirituality of Taos Pueblo as a model of wholeness for a civilization that had lost its perspective and humanity remained beyond her reach in time.


Kathleen (Katie) Peters, Filmmaker—Producer
Mark J Gordon, Filmmaker—Director, Screenwriter
Michael Kamins: Executive Producer at New Mexico PBS
Marsha Mason, Actor—Voice of Mabel Dodge Luhan
Ali MacGraw, Actor/Activist—Narrator
Zoe Zimmerman, Actor/Artist—Appearing as Mabel in re-enactment scenes
Blue Spruce Standing Deer, Voice of Tony Luhan--Taos Pueblo Consultant
Bob Willis: Cinematographer
Pat Hall, Filmmaker—Producer
Jill Drinkwater, Financial Advisor—Producer and Story Consultant
Nancy Kenney, Filmmaker—Producer, Sound Track Supervisor
Jennifer Schiffmacher, Grant Writer—Script Consultant
Ellen Bradbury, Executive Director of Recursos de Santa Fe, a Non-Profit Fiscal Agent
Kathryn M Davis, Art Historian—Writer, Editor, Script Consultant
Beth Kennedy-Jones, Script Consultant, Actor, Dramatic Coach
Lois Palken Rudnick: Script Consultant, Biographer
Flannery Burke: Biographer
Suzanne Campbell, Art Historian—Script Consultant
Cindra Kline, Writer/Editor—Script Consultant
Martha Corder, Pharmaceutical Sales Manager—Funding Development Director
Carole Baker, Internet Consultant—Social Media Director
Marti Fenton, Artist and Blogger—Story Advisor

I wish that all of you could come to the premier, but hope that those of you who live near by can make it.