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How do you know who are, if you don't know where you came from?

“If you are cut off from your roots, you cannot be happy.” -Thich Nhat Hanh

I stumbled across this quote about two years ago. It’s stuck with me and always seems to creep back into my consciousness around this time of year.

Scrolling through instagram yesterday and this morning, I found myself reflecting on Indigenous People’s Day. I often wonder what I could possibly do to make things better?

It feels quite hopeless somedays. Something I’ve been digging into is where I am from, what are my roots, who was here before me.

I started reading Belonging, a visual memoir by Nora Krug. It’s about her, a German woman, reckoning with her identity and her German family’s past during WWII. It shows the responsibility we all have as inheritors of our country’s past.

Early in the book she asks:

“How do you know who you are if you don’t understand where you come from?”

Here are some prompts I have collected from this book, from folks I respect on instagram, from workshops I have taken on dismantling systems of oppression, from my study of grounding (connecting to the root chakra) in the Yoga practice:

Who am I, if I don’t know where I came from?

If I’m not connected to my roots, what am I connected to?

I am from… (create a poem by filling in the blanks with memories, places, people, experiences, lessons and whatever else comes to mind that shows where you are from)

How do I view the world?

What belief patterns have I inherited throughout my life?

How does naming the past, present and future Indigenous peoples of the places we inhabit change my view? (Visit to find out what Indigenous cultures once existed or still exist where you live)

When I feel discomfort I... (fill in the blank with emotions, physical sensations, reactions...etc.)


Here's to a steady heart beat, embracing discomfort and giving thanks to the ground under our feet. Peace.


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