Your Best Investment

By D.J. Vanas © 2009
News From Indian Country 8-09

My throat was suddenly dry and my heart pounded wildly as I peered into the room we'd be staying in for a week at the YMCA facility just outside of Rocky Mountain National Park. My eyes glazed over and my hands trembled. The kids stood there with mouths hanging agape, poor creatures, and my wife gasped in horror...  not a TV or computer in sight.

The kids desperately searched the room for the TV as if trying to find an Easter egg, sure that it was here somewhere, glowing with images of Sponge Bob and The Backyardigans. The cell phone was giving me the dire report of no signal as if warning me to run while I had the chance. How could we survive this situation? How could we endure the unspeakable agony?

Of course, that disconnect from the world of vital technology was a hassle – the first day. After that, we all settled into a wonderful rhythm of early to bed, early to rise, fresh air, incredible hikes and lots of quality time together as a family. Even now, weeks later, I feel rejuvenated to my core! It is amazing what we suddenly have time for when we're not becoming The Borg from Star Trek with a flashing, wireless device stuck in our ear, when we're not Facebooking, Twittering or frantically checking e-mail or text messages every thirty seconds. Instead, the nights were spent reading, looking at the stars and telling stories. We did a hay ride in the rain, roasted marshmallows over an open fire and were hypnotized by the rainbow of wildflowers. As the character Wind in His Hair said in the movie Dances with Wolvesä good trade.

The economy seems to be timidly crawling out of the hole it has been in for the last year and people are wondering again, albeit in whispers, "what should I invest in now?" Money aside, our best investment is still in the things that sustain us – our health, our spirit and our family. It is still, hands down, our best investment in good times and in bad. T. Rowe Price and Fidelity are good financial companies but they will not come to your bedside when you're sick, but your family will. A bond may be a stable investment, but time spent on your health and wellness is safer still. I'm not saying don't be smart with your money. What I'm saying is we should learn to be smarter with ourselves.

I learned from one of my mentor elders and fellow Odawa, Bea Shawanda, that we have two types of learning – kendaaswin (head learning or logic) and bokaadwin (heart learning or intuition).  In our logical, linear society, kendaaswin is king and though it's good in countless ways, to rely on it solely is dangerous. What happens is that we use logic to justify self-abuse and self-neglect, saying "I'll take better care of myself later when things are easier and not so busy." I got news for you – life is always going to be challenging and always going to be busy, so if you use that line of logic, we can "logically" send ourselves right into burn out or a health crisis.

Learn to listen to bokaadwin, that intuitive voice (and heed its call) that was once loud and clear when we were younger, telling us what we need and what is good for us. We ignore it at our own peril. When we were kids it revolved around naptimes and chocolate milk. What is it for you now? Rejuvenation is necessary for growth and something we all need, just as nature teaches us. The prairie is rejuvenated with rains, the forest is rejuvenated with fire and the whole land is rejuvenated in spring. What does your rejuvenation involve? Maybe you need a getaway, a vacation, the spa, a day off or a date night with your other half. Whatever it is, I'm sure it doesn't involve more e-mail, web surfing or one more text message. And by the way, take that blinking device out of your ear once in awhile before it starts to take rootä or you become The Borg.       

D.J.'s upcoming schedule

(booking now for Fall/Winter programs):


23-25 Southwestern School for Behavioral Health Studies (Tucson, AZ)

26 Vail Mountain School (Vail, CO)

28-29 United Tribes Technical College (Bismarck, ND)


2-3 Prairie Band Potawatomi Health Fair (Mayetta, KS)

8-9 Coalition of Indian Housing Authorities (Bismarck, ND)

13-14 Sierra County DWI Prevention Program (Truth or Consequences, NM)

17-18 Klamath Tribe - HOLD 30 National Human Resources Association (Portland, OR)


1 National Human Resources Association (Portland, OR)

2 Oklahoma City Indian Clinic (Oklahoma City, OK)

15 Department of Veterans Affairs (Denver, CO)

20-21 Montana Association of Student Councils (Hardin, MT)

D.J. Eagle Bear Vanas (Odawa) is a nationally acclaimed motivational storyteller, success coach and the author of the celebrated book, The Tiny Warrior: A Path to Personal Discovery & Achievement and audio CD series The Warrior Within. D.J. uses traditional warrior concepts and wisdom to inspire people to achieve their best in life, school and career and owns Native Discovery Inc., a company dedicated to "building the warriors of tomorrowätoday." He can be reached at (719) 282-7747 or at