The Questioning and Refining Stage of Life: Middle Years of Adulthood

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Embroidered jacket with Takini School logo awarded for years of service

I have been blessed with numerous opportunities as I lived within the laws of Grace. Between the ages of forty-one to sixty, I have been the director of a middle school program involving a caring, empowering disciplinary approach; I have written and recorded a telecourse that was chosen for national distribution and remained on the air and available for graduate credit from the University of South Dakota for eleven years; and I’ve learned how to operate a resort from the bottom-up by positioning myself as a front desk employee in a resort in Sedona, Arizona (my family and I plan to create a health-centered resort someday). While I was in Sedona, a friend and I also bought and operated a home health care business to provide financial support. I’ve learned a lot from my experiences, and to this day, I’ve continued to use what I’ve learned.

Of course, I’ve also experienced loss during that period in my life. When Ken and I were in our fifties several synchronistic events resulted within the time span of two years that drastically altered our future. Both my parents passed on within two years of each other. However, that profound loss was accompanied with new-found freedom, as Ken’s mother, who had been with us for ten years, left our home and moved to a subsidized apartment. Ken also decided to retire early from his job as dean of the education program of American Indian students across seven South Dakota reservations, because some new faculty-members wanted to go in a different direction with the program.

As we reflected on all that has happened during those two years, we realized that there is nothing holding us down anymore and new opportunities awaits. We didn’t have to wait long as another opportunity came knocking on our door a couple of weeks later. A Native American friend of Ken’s informed him that a school administrator was needed in the most isolated area of his reservation and that Ken would be perfect for the job. Ken did saw the potential and approached me with the idea. So, off we went to the place where I grew up. Within the year Ken was asked to be superintendent of the new school, and I was asked to be the curriculum specialist and federal compliance officer. The Lakota people decided to call the school Takini, which means “survivor” in the Lakota language.

We spent nine years there, and it was such a privilege and challenge to create and implement an entire curriculum structured around Lakota values. Those years were an affirmation of what can be accomplished in such a unique arena when one lives within the laws of Grace. Of course, we knew we were only guests there, so when we were no longer needed, we decided to leave.

With no permanent home, we decided to travel around and visit our children. We have our share of ups and downs, but with each opportunity and struggle came the inspiration to question and refine my thoughts and behavior. I knew I was functioning within the laws of Grace, and with every step I took I was guided by Grace.


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