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"Showing Up Is Half the Battle" - Shawn Imitates-Dog

Showing up is half the battle. Simple words often spoken but how many of us really know what it means to live them?

Showing up takes courage. It means you have to do a lot of things you are afraid to do and a lot of other things that you swore you would never do in your whole life but you find yourself doing just to get by when times get hard.

Showing up isn’t about taking the easy way out. It usually means doing the hardest thing, which is often the right thing.

As one of five children, I was raised in a small house In Martin, South Dakota, by my loving mother and hardworking grandparents. Every day, my grandparents would wake up at the crack of dawn and walk for miles in all kinds of weather to meet their potential employer to perform day labor. Back in those days, we didn’t have cell phones or email and the only way my grandparents could be guaranteed a days’ work was to show up. Sometimes the work was there and sometimes it wasn’t. Either way, the next day, my grandparents rose at dawn and started all over again. No matter how difficult it was, no matter how tired they were, they got up every day and they showed up.

I consider myself fortunate to have such a strong work ethic engrained in me from such a young age. When I was 11, a handful of other Pow Wow dancers from Martin and I visited California to dance at a junior high school. The event was sponsored by a local family, who eventually brought me and my little sister out to visit them each summer. I wanted to work and took summer jobs at Six Flags Magic Mountain each year. I fell in love with Los Angeles and when I was 18, I moved to LA and worked to put myself through school. It wasn’t always easy and I was usually tired. I had to miss out on a lot of parties and social functions that most young people get to participate in when they are college students. Sometimes I felt frustrated and like I wasn’t going to make it but every day, I got out of bed and I showed up.

Persistence paid off and not long after I graduated, I got my first job in the entertainment industry, working as a personal assistant for a director who was filming a movie in North Carolina. That job led to a temporary assignment at House of Blues, which ultimately became my career. I started there as a temporary employee and left 10 years later as the Director of Human Resources. I went on to work for Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) and was fortunate to help open some of the most iconic venues in the world, including the LA Live Complex and Globen Arena in Stockholm, Sweden. I also worked for Creative Artists Agency and Equinox Fitness before returning to House of Blues, where I am now the Vice President of Human Resources, overseeing HR for more than 45 clubs and theatres all over the country. It’s a big job with a lot of moving parts and a LOT of responsibility but every day, I show up.

I’m also showing up for the people of Pine Ridge. I grew up in poor conditions in a crowded household watching my grandparents perform backbreaking manual labor to keep clothes on our bodies and food in our bellies. I didn’t have it easy back then. Life was pretty tough sometimes. And I know it’s tough for people on Pine Ridge. Martin isn’t far from the Reservation and I have seen first-hand the conditions these people experience on a daily basis. Most of us wouldn’t know how to cope with the day-to-day living situations these people and their families endure. But I know that if we show up, things can change.

I’m showing up to let the people of Pine Ridge know they’re not alone and that there are people out there who do care and want to help. And that if they can find the courage and stamina to get through each day, things will get easier. Through True Sioux Hope’s newly-launched education, counseling, critical aid and housing programs, the future is getting brighter. I want to tell the people of Pine Ridge to keep showing up, no matter how hopeless things may seem, because with determination, dedication, hard work and the courage to accept the help being offered, things will change. And I also want to tell you, the reader, to keep showing up on behalf of these vulnerable people who are counting on us to make a difference. By working together, we will see the spirit of the Great Sioux Nation thrive again.

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