For as long as I can remember, I have been “in like” and what is now an obsession, with journals! I love to go into a bookstore, a Barnes and Noble especially or any place that sells journals or notebooks, and I will peruse through all of time. I’ll study how the well the book has been put together or whether the paper is college or wide ruled and of course, the price. Although a majority of time I go through them quickly and if possible, I’ll flip the books open and feel the smooth, crisp pages and wait for the feeling of inspiration. Just like a reading book, I’ll have to read a few lines of the book and read the summary to see if I want to read it. The same with a journal or notebook, I have to be inspired to write and create, and I often imagine myself sitting at a table and writing in it.

I can and will spend what seems like hours looking at journals and notebook. I love to see the different forms they come in and where they were made. For example, Barnes and Noble always has a fantastic selection, which include journals that are leather bound…real leather binds the paper and is often enclosed with a snap button or letter string. These often come from Italy or Spain and often have intricate designs etched into the front and back covers.

Before my online writing course with Rowdy Kittens, I would buy a journal here or there with the full intentions of filling them with words and pictures. Usually the first few pages get printed with inked words but then falters after a few days. All of a sudden, the motivation is gone or didn’t exist in the first place. Often I’ll give them away after a few months to friends or family or the students I work with, because I feel they will be used more often by someone else.

Then a couple of months ago, I came upon Tammy Strobel’s writing course which I signed up for and coincidentally I had just come into the possession of a red journal that is in the photograph below. It has graphed pages which I really like and it’s fairly thick and sturdy. The cover is some sort of faux leather and somewhat water proof and it is RED. The color does not allow the journal and I to ignore each other, and it will not blend in with all of my other items in my timbuktu bag. I have been using it consistently; since there are so many pages the book is thick and I can’t really lay it flat like a ring binded journal would, so I have been writing my work (profit and non-profit) on one side of the pages and then from the other end, I write my thoughts, homework assignments or a journal entry. Now I am gradually moving my obsession towards filling my red journal with beautiful words of inspiration or ideas for work.


A View of Love

This is a photo of my family; my daughter, husband and I. We are sitting atop a 32 foot motor boat and the view behind is of the Colorado River and of Marble Canyon. It is an upstream view from Lee’s Ferry where private and commercial river trips launch their multi-day river trips down the Colorado River and into Marble Canyon and eventually into the Grand Canyon. The photo was taken this past May and it is the day before my husband and I launch on an 8 day river trip with a group of folks from Road Scholars. It is a very special day because it is my daughter’s first boat ride. It is her first and most likely not her last time atop a boat (motorized or raft powered) on a river in the southwest. She is wearing a life jacket that I found at the local Goodwill store and paid $5.99, and I was delighted to see the remnants of what seemed like San Juan River mud caked to the jacket. It was an indication that the previous wearer of the jacket used it to its full potential until he or she grew out of it. And that is what I hope for my daughter – to use the jacket as much as she can on river trips and learning to enjoy and respect water.

I love this photo because it is our daughter’s first time on a motor rig and why are we proud of that? In way we are passing along our love for guiding, boating and being on and around water to her. With us river guides, it is a our delusional way of initiating or introducing our child to a world we have lived in for more than two decades. Our friend, Jeff, drove us up and down the river and allowed us to enjoy this family moment that wouldn’t probably happen for another year (when we’d do another trip). It was slightly windy with the gusts occasionally spraying water on us, and when that happened my daughter would squeal with delight and we’d roar with our own laughter and glee at the sound and sight of her. This photo gives a small view of our love for each other and our daughter. I am asking her for a kiss, my husband encouraging her to do so, but my daughter is in a mischievous mood and is considering whether she should grant me a kiss. Plain and simple, it is a photo of happiness and love.

My husband and I have been, collectively, commercial river guides for over 20 years, with my husband doing the longer stretch of time and on more rivers in the entire West coast. The funny thing is that we did not meet on the river but rather we worked for the same river company and we had mutual friends, and connected at mutual gatherings. In a significant way, water brought us together. We were friends for eight years before we began dating, and next Wednesday, October 17 is our four year anniversary. Stay Tuned….

Memory: A Prompt

What comes to mind when I think of the word memory?

When I think of the word memory, I immediately think of my childhood. My childhood was delightful, free, rough, beautiful and hard at times. I remember myself as a child, between 8-10 years of age, riding my bicycle around the front of my grandparent’s grey cinderblock home. There is a circular dirt driveway of sorts and a teepee ground about 200 yards from the house. To the right of the house is a fenced in cornfield on an acre or so, but it is dry and unkempt because it is the beginning of fall season. I am riding the bike and I have white soccer shoes on (cleats and all) and my black hair is in one thick braid. I am playing with my younger brother, L, who is either riding a bike or playing in the dirt, I can’t recall. I remember the day turning to dusk and we were still playing outside and my parents drove up and asked if we wanted to go with them to a graduation ceremony for one of my aunts or uncles. I remember the temptation of going to town (30-40 miles one way) and getting a treat from the store or at the graduation ceremony. I remember my body and soul longing to go but there was something stronger holding me back. At a young age, I knew that graduation ceremonies weren’t always fun, for young kids like me and my brother, and that I probably wouldn’t get a treat from the store or graduation. But what kept me at my grandparent’s home that evening? I am not exactly sure how to explain but I will explain it as the love of my grandfather and the feeling of being home, being in one place, feeling safe and warm under our blankets for the night. That was much more important to me then going to town and being in a crowd of proud family members and eating dinner at a restaurant afterwards. That memory sticks in my head and I always think of that moment as a time when I was very happy and content with myself, my surroundings and the life around me.

Memory also gets me day dreaming about my daughter who is two years old. May sound like such a cliche but it is very true how much a child of your own changes your life and perspective. I think about the night she was born and how painful it was to give birth, but then seeing our daughter on my husband’s chest immediately afterwards was so humbling and amazing. I think of how hard it was the first couple of months with my husband, daughter and I getting used to each other in this new situation. Everyday was a whole new door opened for all three of us, and it just got even more entertaining and easier. It is really something to see a little tiny human command four or five adults in the room, and she always had, and still does, us smiling and laughing. I remember I would study people especially my parents and siblings when they interacted with our daughter and it was beautiful. I’d never seen a look of such love and loyalty in my their eyes and their expressions was of such content and happiness. They never stop smiling and still haven’t! It is just beautiful to think of those moments. I even reserve memories of when my daughter is in pain from a cold or fever or cut/bruise and I want to take it all away so I feel the brunt of the pain. Of course, that is impossible because I’ve learned they need to feel and go through the process of the pain and from which they learn and become stronger. In that process, I’ve also learned and become stronger.

Fast track to the present day where my daughter is two years old and tall and beautiful. Everyday she is learning and saying new words or phrases and sentences. It is so darn cool to hear words you hear and use everyday and take for granted, come from a child’s mouth. My daughter learns and hears Navajo from me and hears a majority of English for most of the day at her childcare and my husband and friends and some family members. She has not yet said complete sentences but she takes and gives instructions in Navajo very well. She is so adorable when she says, “Wooh ch’iish” or “I want to brush my teeth.” I am so proud of her and I hope she is fluent in Navajo as well as I am. During these moments of her speaking Navajo or English, I am transported again to my childhood and remember speaking Navajo to my family. I remember that I was often asked to name the four directions in Navajo and everyone would listen and watch. I do not remember whether they were impressed or were even listening but I remember doing it. When I remember that time, it is like I am looking and listening to myself. The light from the east window is concentrated on me while everyone sits in the shadow of the walls or doorway. I see myself pointing and reciting the fours directions.  Often I ask my mother to tell me things from my childhood, and one of my favorites is her telling me that I did not learn or began speaking English until I entered kindergarten. I just love that and I hope the same for my daughter.

Memories serve me well in the positive sense but sometimes memories make me sad and long for the past. My childhood was stable as it could be because I had adults taking care of us and feeding us, and worked alongside us. I had a place to sleep every night and I was not abused in any way. My siblings and I were and are very fortunate. What makes me sad is the fact that those days are gone and I long to be back in that moment in time. Those long ago days were simple, free and content, and I was very happy. Then I became an adult and now I write about and share those memories on a blog. I still am very happy with my life.

Blessed by the Love of a Man

My husband is a full time student at the local college and works a couple of jobs as a nurse and for a river company but he manages to help raise our daughter, and give me his attention and time. Today we went to lunch and then went to a local shop that sells handmade jewelry, lotions, cards and all sorts of stuff to drop off some eggs for a friend who works there. Our friend told us some new earrings ( I LOVE turquoise earrings) had come in and when he showed them to us, they took my breath away. They were so beautiful but I did not have my wallet with me, so I said I would come back later. But my husband surprised me and bought them for me right then and there. I never have any expectations, in regards to wanting/needing gifts from my husband, because he gives me so much more in our relationship and how he is a good father to our daughter that I do not need/want him to buy me gifts unless he wants to. I appreciate him so much for who he is, and I am so in love with him. Quick story on how we came together: we were friends for approximately eight years before we started dating for two years and now have been married for four years. And I am still in love with him after all those years.

Where did that come from?

Most often my random thoughts come out of the blue, and my husband puts it best when he said to me the other morning, “That sounds like something you would say in your sleep!” Why did he say that? For like the millionth time (literally), I woke up to get ready for the day and said good morning to my husband, and then randomly asked him, “there are 8 ounces per 1 cup, right?” He said yes, and I replied, “So there would be 3 cups in a 24 ounce glass, right?” Again he said yes, and that’s when he said with a laugh, “that sounds like something you would say in your sleep!”

See my husband is a walking encyclopedia and dictionary. He is crazy smart, book smart, street smart, farm smart, etc., you name it, he is it! I just love him for all the reasons but he really does put up with my questions which are very random and out of the blue. He always patiently answers my questions or we find the answer together. We have some of the best conversations because we don’t always agree on certain issues and topics, but we do not disagree to the point where we are angry with each other. My husband is from Iowa and I am from the Navajo Nation and the combination is just magic. That magic allowed us to have our baby girl who is two years of age, and we are raising her to respect all the random thoughts, ideas and issues that will come at her in the future.


Photos may not be used with the permission of the author. All photos rights credited to Nikki Cooley.

When a woman wears her moccasins she acknowledges Dawn and Darkness…
When she warps her leggings around her legs she knows she is protected by lightning.
When she puts on her buckskin dress she knows she is blessed by Talking God..
When she wears her traditional rug dress she knows she’s one with the holy ones..
When she wears a traditional dress she knows she is representing her nation.
When she wears her jewelry she is conveying the identity of the holy ones..

When she rolls her hair into a traditional tsii yeel (hair bun) she becomes diplomatic…
When she attachs her corn pollen pouch to her right sash fringes she knows she is ready to walk among her people and upon her holy trail…with harmony…
This is the identity of a Dine woman respecting her role and her elders….
– Rita Gilmore (Diné teacher)

Writing Tools

Make a list of the writing tools that work for you and help you? What type of writer are you?

What tools help you organize your thoughts? Do you like to outline every detail of each article? Or do you like to write your articles and larger projects in small chunks?

-Hmmm, my list of writing tools? I am not really sure how to answer this question because honestly, the only things I can think of that help me are; my brain, a journal, and a pen. I have tried to search my brain about this and often when I write is when I think of writing. I always envision myself driving home and I think of some really neat things and think I need to write them down, but I don’t usually have my journal or computer near me. Plus I can read/write in a moving vehicle because I get motion sick very easily. And there go my thoughts…..I forgot them. I guess I will have to make the point to carry my journal or ipad with me so I can write down things.

-What type of writer am I? I am sporadic writer because my thoughts are very much all over the place. Sometimes I really believe I have ADD of some sorts because my thoughts don’t stay in one direction. So I am non-linear! I recall writing academic papers and used some of my high school English class training where they suggested writing outlines to bring your paper to fruition. That worked for a bit but then I realized that just the act putting words on paper or screen was more conducive to producing a paper. I would just start writing, even a paragraph was all I needed to begin, but even then that is very hard sometimes when my thoughts are all over the place.

What do I write? In panic mode….

It is Day 3 of my online writing class and I’m panicking. Mostly because I’m still on some of Day 2 stuff. My mind is very much overwhelmed and had a bout with writer’s block. When I think about writing my thoughts, ideas, etc., I am like deer caught in full ton truck’s headlights. Mostly because I feel like I have to be linear (new thing I learned about myself yesterday) but my thoughts and writings are very much the opposite – nonlinear. I guess I feel like someone is going to grade me for my writing when in reality the only person putting that kind of pressure on me is ME! Wow!

I like to write. I really enjoy writing but I still associate writing with academia, and I feel like I have to be orderly the first time around to have a successful paper. I just need to let go but it’s very difficult. When I start writing, whether it’s in a journal or online, I often start at the top of list, top of an event, etc. I feel like I have to go from top to bottom or else it won’t make sense, but in the process I lose some thoughts I meant to write down. Then later, I think to myself, “I wish I wrote that down!” Then I forget for whatever reason.