Dawn Wink: Dewdrops

Writing, Teaching, Language, Landscape, Life

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WORDHARVEST Webinars for Writers


Those of you familiar with Wordharvest’s Tony Hillerman Writers Conference know of the incredible community of writers of all genres who have gathered for this conference through the years. Wordharvest, founded by Anne Hillerman and Jean Schaumberg, is now expanding our community and the opportunity to attend a conference virtually through webinars on the craft and business of writing.  

At the most recent Hillerman Conference, one of my great takeaways of information and ideas came from Bill O’Hanlon’s workshop on “The Anatomy of Engaging Stories: Elements That Make Readers Keep Reading.” His engaging style and personality kept the information relevant and energy-filled.

I scribbled loads of ideas in my writing journal.

In the spirit of paying it forward, my colleague and Wordharvest faculty member Bill O’Hanlon now brings his expertise and energy to teaching a webinar for writers that I think will interest you:

C.A.R.V.E. Your Platform for Greater Visibility and Income: 
5 Elements That Can Move Your Book Sales to the Next Level

Publishing’s favorite buzzword these days is Platform.
But what is Platform and how do you create a great one to move your readership and success to the next level?

Saturday, May 7th

2:00 pm MDT (Mountain Daylight Time)
One-hour webinar with live Q&A at the end of the hour

Bill O’Hanlon is a dynamic presenter.
This informative talk is invaluable for writers of fiction and non-fiction who have a finished book or manuscript.

For More Information and Registration:


Bill O’Hanlon is a prolific author. With 35 books published to date, he is eager to coach writers on how to get their books into publication. I’m a tremendous fan. His experience and enthusiastic teaching style are positive encouragement that others can write their books and get them published.

I hope you will take advantage of this unique opportunity.

Dawn Wink

Layers of clouds over Santa Fe.

Layers of clouds over Santa Fe.


Calving Season – A Cowboy’s Heart

It’s calving season on the ranch again—eternal rhythm of life.

Dawn Wink: Dewdrops

Dad with calf Daddy with Calf. Art by Adam Bunting

It’s calving season on the ranch. This painting of my dad conveys the essence of his spirit and heart. Tears sprang to my eyes the first time I saw this piece. A surprise gift for my parents, Bunting conveys Daddy’s spirit and heart. A treasure. Artist Adam Bunting painted this portrait from a photo taken by Sherry Bunting

It’s calving time on ranches all over the world right now. Not only do these calves represent life, they represent generations of bloodlines, untold hours of caring for their mothers, the mothers before them, and on and on… In honor of the heart, spirit, and weeks without sleep that comes with calving, art and poetry to honor all. In honor of the history and hope that is calving season:

Daddy with calf. ©Sherry Bunting Daddy with calf. ©Sherry Bunting

A Cowboy’s Work

by Tirzah Conway

A cowboy’s work is never done,
Like Sheppard’s among…

View original post 340 more words


Of Women, Writing, and Wildflowers: Story Circle Writing Conference

Texas Bluebells and

Wildflowers—Texas Bluebonnets and Gallardia along morning run.

.…Help us to bring darkness into the light,
To lift out the pain, the anger,
Where it can be seen for what it is—
The balance-wheel for our vulnerable, aching love.
Put the wild hunger where it belongs,
Within the act of creation…

May Sarton, Without Darkness, Without Light…An Invocation to Kali

Guitar greeting in airport.

Guitar greeting in airport.

A community of women writers gathered together in Austin, TX for the Story Circle Writing Conference.

First, this is what happens when a women’s writing community flocks to a single hotel—and the hotel management is kind enough to respond beautifully, and convert the Men’s bathroom into another Women’s for the duration of the conference. Bravo!

Women's Bathrooms

Bathroom conversion

Urinals with flowers










I was especially grateful for this time, as many of the women I’ve known purely through our internet community and had never met in-person. What a gift to now have faces and spirits to accompany the names on our emails! These days were a time of deep community, and deep laughter and love, deep wisdom on the craft and business of writing: 

Brooke Warner

Brooke Warner, She Writes Press

Brooke Warner, of She Writes Press, kicked off our time together with her insights on the Five C’s of writing:  

1) Community: Support one another and thrive. Work and women thrive in community.

2) Commitment: Page after page. A time will come for everyone.

3) Championing:  Champion your writing, champion other writers.

4) Claiming: We have to claim. No one will give you time to write.

5) Courage: Listen to the calling. 

“Author your story, author your life. This is why women need a writing space of their own.”

Outrageous Requests

Debra Winegarten, Outrageous Requests

Story Shaper, Debra Winegarten, author of Oveta Culp Hobby and a book of poetry (among many other books) with one of the best titles ever There’s Jews in Texas? shared her passion for writing and life by starting her presentation with all of our dancing to It’s all about those Books

One of the ways Debra lives her passion for writing, books, and life is her ritual of Outrageous Requests, which she makes weekly. These requests have opened previously only imagined doors within the writing world.

One of my great take-aways from this conference is to fold this rhythm into my own writing life. I’ll keep you posted this. Perhaps you might join me. 

Susan & Dawn SCN 2016

Susan & Dawn SCN 2016

Susan J. Tweit and I shared our ideas and experiences with “Character as Place” something we are both passionate about.  Here is the presentation I promised to include: Place as Character. Story Circle 2016

Susan and I curled up over hot chocolate and cafe latte to review the final edits of our essay, “Mother Tongues: Two Writers Explore the Words and Cultures that Shape their Connection to Place” in the upcoming issue of Langscape

Susan Wittig Albert

Susan Wittig Albert

Story Circle creator, and New York Times bestselling author, Susan Wittig Albert spoke of the importance of women writing together in community, of the gender bias in the publishing industry. “This bias goes back centuries. Women’s voices have not been as important as men’s throughout history. Women write in community. Women share life stories. These life stories and women’s writing has historically not been valued by the publishing industry.

Women authors receive letters from publishers with feedback such as, ‘This novel would be better with a male protagonist.’ When you look at the statistics of winners of the Pulitzer, the Booker, they are overwhelmingly male. The gender bias extends to book reviews, contests, job opportunities within publishing. Women writers need more champions.”

Thus, Albert created Story Circle, a community that supports and connects women writers. “We thrive in community, in collaboration. We are literary citizens. Communities work best when all play the part of givers, as well as receivers. We do this by paying it forward.” 

Speaking of paying it forward, I have to share a wonderful class starting soon, “Consider Birds: Trading Anxiety for Peace of Mind” taught by Jodi Shaw. Meadowlark will be featured in the course and I get to pop in virtually via video to be a part of the class. Jodi is an incredible artist and inspirer.

She is currently at work on a piece inspired by “song” in Meadowlark. Jodi wrote, “The altered guitar is inspired by a passage in Dawn Wink’s novel Meadowlark between the heroine Grace and her dear friend Daisy. It is all about living your song, which to me means being true to who you are. It celebrates song, authenticity, and the South Dakota prairie.”I can’t wait to see what she creates. Jodi creates magic, beauty, and inspiration through her work.

Song, Artist Jodi Shaw

Song, Artist Jodi Shaw

Consider Birds, Jodi Shaw

Song, Jodi Shaw

Artist, Jodi Shaw

Artist, Jodi Shaw

I returned to Santa Fe to write, run, and muse on all. Let’s all go out and pay it forward, make outrageous requests, champion yourself and others—and listen to the soul of the land. 

Friday evening run with Clyde.

Friday evening run with Clyde.



TESOL 2016 – Language, Culture, Identity, and Love

Baltimore Harbor

Baltimore Harbor

At the recent TESOL International Conference in Baltimore, we dove into ideas around Language, Culture, and Identity in roundtable panel discussion in a session created by Dr. Francisco Ramos.

BEIS Roundtable

Manka Varghese, Alsu Gilmetdinova, Francisco Ramos, Dawn Wink, Eric Dwyer, Constantine Ioannou

Francisco sent we panelists the questions and guiding quotes to muse ahead of time:

     – What factors play roles in the loss of minority languages?
     – Is this the reality around us?
     – Is it possible to revert this trend?
     – Can we save/Is it worth saving each and every language?
     – Can culture be taught?
     – What is won and and what is lost when we relocate?
     – Do we really manage to belong?
           o “Acoma is home, but I don’t live there” (Simon Ortiz)
     – In order to fit in in a group:
          o Do you need both culture and language or is knowledge of culture enough?
     – Do we feel/act differently depending on the language(s) we use? Why?
     – Can a name change affect/impact who we are?
     – “So, what happens when one combines a deep sense of place with a sense of exile within one’s own home?” (Dawn Wink)

FlagsOf course, these ideas make my own heart beat wildly. If these ideas interest you, grab a pen and scribble your own thoughts to the guiding questions and quotes. Here is the full PPT created by Francisco: Roundtable_Questions copy

“There is a reason why the language we inherit at birth is called our mother tongue. It is our mother, forgiving, embracing, naming the world and all its emotions. Though I have lived for the last forty years in cities where English or French is the language of the majority, it’s Bangla that exercises motherly restraint over my provisional, immigrant identity.” ~Bharati Mukherjee 

This is an especially poignant quote for all human reasons, and for me at TESOL as my own mom introduced me to TESOL years ago. In the intervening decades, the conference has almost always fallen on the week around our birthdays and we’ve celebrated our birthdays together in various states and convention centers. 

With Mom on 27th floor above the Harbor.

With Mom on 27th floor above the Harbor.

Road to Atall School © Joan Wink

Road to Atall School © Joan Wink

This year Mom spoke onBreaking Borders with Stories: Birth to Death.” I was thrilled to be asked to introduce Mom, as the creator of my own birth story. 

Mom shared many stories, including of two young boys from the Congo; Missy and the Most Magnificent Thing in a one-room school house (K-8) in South Dakota, and:

Why Stories

Mom, Baltimore Harbor.

Mom, Baltimore Harbor.

•  To break borders, even our own self-imposed borders;

  • •  To affirm identity;
  • •  To capture a moment in time;
  • •  To create our shared heritage;
  • •  To access language and literacy;
  • •  To teach.

The human brain favors stories or the narrative form as a primary means of organizing and relating human experience. Stories contain large amounts of valuable information even when the storyteller forgets or invents new details. ~ Leslie Silko, The Turquoise Ledge: A Memoir

Sandra Mercuri

Sandra Mercuri

This year’s TESOL Conference leaves me amazed on many levels. As I flew back across the states and thought of this year’s conference, I thought of the richness of ideas, the depth of reflection and dedication, the amazing contexts in which people teach, all of our amazing students, and the life stories of so very many of us filled with both beauty and the acute challenges that reflect the human costs of the bureaucratization of education. 

Underlying all lies love

Mary Scholl

Mary Scholl

As important as the new ideas, the research, the pedagogy and methodology—is the community, friendship and love that come together during this time. Amidst the presentations, we found each other to catch up on the past year, to hug and share, to walk the harbor and talk about life, to talk about upcoming life decisions when there is no easy answer, to toss out ideas about the future, to connect. We texted, “Where are you?” “Coffee?” “I’ll find you.”

This is what sustains, this is community, this is as important as any new research or ideas—friendships filled with shared experiences and roots across the miles and years, heart connections.
Francisco & Juliet

Francisco Ramos & Juliet Luther

Again and again my students ask, “How can we make it in education? What keeps a teacher going?” I tell them that it is the relationships with other kindred spirits, in-person and in writing through their books and our correspondence, it is the professional/personal community that remind us that we are not alone, that we walk a shared path—it is the friendships, the community, the connections that sustain and enrich. Without these, I cannot imagine I would have made it. I encourage students again and again to stay in touch, create that community, and pour energy into those friendships and into this community. These friendships remind us of what is real, what is important in education, where are heart lies. They are our True North stars.

Already ideas and plans for next year’s conference in Seattle. Here’s to community, language, culture, identity and love!
Dawn taking photo

Doing what I do, taking photos. © Joan Wink

Baltimore Harbor

Baltimore Harbor


A Cascabel Birthday

Cascabel Birthday Cake

Cascabel Birthday Cake

The month of March in our family is known as March Madness for the multiple birthdays. Luke kicks off the month the 10th, then Grammie on the 20th, Wyatt is the 25th, and I bring things to a close on the 28th. I’m 48 this year. No need for mystery. I love growing older. A friend recently referred to our family’s Birthday Gauntlet, which I loved and is a perfect description!

Mom, Dad, and Wyatt all came for our tradition Birthday Party (all thrown into one lump day), which included an ecumenical walk around the Plaza for Palm Sunday.

All Family

Wyatt, Wynn, Grammie, Bop Bop, me, Noé, Luke – Palm Sunday

4 bop bop grammie

Palm Sunday walk around the Plaza.

Road to Cascabel. As Mom said, "The road to Dawn's heart..."

Road to Cascabel. Mom said, “The road to Dawn’s heart…”

Dad hauled a pickup, El Blanco, that has been in our family since 1984 and the Cascabel Years. It has been a ranch truck all the past years. With all of the garden work and hauling we’re doing in our new home—and for unabashedly sentimental reasons—I wanted El Blanco in Santa Fe. Dad hauled it down. As most trips involving my dad and vehicles, this one also included an adventure. His pickup and the trailer hit black ice in Colorado, the trailer jack-knifed and his F350 pickup and trailer all plowed for several hundred yards down the interstate. Spinning the steering wheel back-and-forth throughout, Dad kept all tonnage hurtling down the interstate on the road.  Somehow, no one was hurt and the truck and trailer didn’t flip. He was pulled over by an officer several miles later for “losing control of his vehicle.” 

“If I hadn’t kept control of the vehicle,” Dad told the officer, “I’d have been in a ditch back there!”

What Daddy didn’t tell me was that he’d had new magnetic signs made for the side of El Blanco, exactly like what had been painted on there 30 years ago.When I saw, it hit the Cascabel Button and immediate tears. 

Dawn sees Cascabel sign

Dad Dawn El Blanco Close up

Wyatt and Wynn helped unload.

Wyatt WynnPickup


A 30-year old ranch pickup from Cascabel? I am soooooo ditching our mini-van!

Reflections of memory. Cascabel bluffs. © Joan Wink, 1983

Cascabel bluffs. © Joan Wink, 1983

I have had exactly one kind of birthday cake in my life that I remember—the Cascabel Birthday Cake. Cascabel (‘rattle of a rattlesnake’ in Spanish) is the area in southeastern Arizona nestled within the San Pedro River Valley where I grew up. We’ll refer to it as The Holy Land. The sandstone bluffs overlooking the river of Cascabel framed the valley and framed my childhood. These bluffs, these years, these memories, and this cake are inextricable intertwined.

Mom said that original recipe was in some a magazine long lost to memory. In our March Madness of birthdays, this cake is sort of the grand finale of fireworks for me. The rest of birthday rhythms can be consumed by the waters of life—but the cake, the Cascabel Cake, we do not miss. Traditions ground us in the whirlwinds of life. This cake remains one of my own anchors. 

Cascabel Birthday Cake

Cascabel Birthday Cake

Always the same cake: Angel Food cake with the topping of a mixture of whipped cream, crushed pineapple, and lemon Jello. Always cut into thirds with layers of the topping amidst. Whip the jello, so all blends together. Essential to the Cascabel Birthday Cake are the purple irises atop. Purple irises ringed two of the trees in front of the ranch house in Cascabel. They always bloomed right before my birthday. Mom always decorated my cake with them. Yes, bulbs for purple irises will be planted in the gardens of our new home. 

Mom 4 years old

Mom, 4-years-old

Mom’s birthday this year was an especially poignant one for all. Ten years ago on her birthday, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Five years ago, Noé and I walked the Pilgrimage to Chimayó to celebrate her five years as a survivor. This March 20th, she celebrated her 10 years as a survivor. Mom writes of this beautifully here: Joan Wink – 10 Years Cancer FreeMy Uncle Jim surprised us all with this photo of her taken when she was four-years-old. 

My mom and dad, my heroes. Always and forever. 

With the passing of the incredible Cara Esquivel, all feels especially vulnerable and tender. In the midst of these national and international times so filled with so very much tragedy, the events in Brussels and conversations and happenings impossible to understand, a tiny group of people who loved Cara have come together around her passions and fierce love of Oaxaca and the the world. These past weeks, amidst all, I’ve experienced the very best of this tiny circle of people giving all to bring beauty to the world, out of love, out of passion, and out of loyalty. This experience again and again reminds me of what really matters in this world. What a blessing to experience the very best of humanity. 

“Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.” ~ Margaret Mead

Spring buds



Cara Esquivel: Extraordinary Spirit


Cara Esquivel in her beloved Oaxaca

Cara Esquivel in her beloved Oaxaca

If we don’t speak up for the people in our society that are not represented, then we do not have a society that is fully engaged and functioning and healthy. And to me it’s very simple, we all have a responsibility for seeing how we can help people in society that are not able to either help themselves or not able to speak up, or don’t have rights…all of the things that my father did were to defend people’s rights, so I guess that just in me. To me, I don’t understand any other way of being.

– Cara Esquivel

Dios no sabe lo que le espera. (God doesn’t know what awaits). So began the eulogy for the extraordinary Cara Esquivel and amidst the tear-streamed faces and hands clutching sodden tissues within the sanctuary, there were smiles from those who knew and loved her, Cara’s among them. Cara of passion, Cara of love, Cara of life, and Cara of energy. Dios no sabe lo que le espera. Last week, an extraordinary woman of incredible love, passion, and joy passed away unexpectedly and far too young from complications that started with the flu. Cara was 47 years old, a fiercely loving mother of her four children and wife to her husband, tireless advocate, lending her voice for those unheard, passionate teacher, and second mother to many of her students.

Cara and her family

Cara and her family

As word spread of her passing, Cara’s spirit shone through in the outpouring of love. 

Altar for Cara © Giselle Piburn

Altar for Cara © Giselle Piburn

Cara on Window

Altar for Cara © Jennifer Nevarez

Altar for Cara © Jennifer Nevarez

So laden was the altar with candles, that in true Cara-style, it caught fire, bringing fire engines to surround the school and dousing the Gathering Room in water, and a new altar created. Of the many words that describe Cara—passionate, fire-filled, irreverent, loving, funny….subtle is not one of them. As was demonstrated by the Celebration of Life held in her honor.

In loving memory

For Cara, a cuatro vientos (Four Winds) ceremony.

Four Winds Ceremony © Jennifer Nevarez

Four Winds Ceremony © Jennifer Nevarez

Cuatro Vientos ceremony

Cuatro Vientos ceremony

“In honor of my beautiful hummingbird,” her husband, David, paused and took a deep breath, “¡Que viva la fiesta!” Cara loved to dance and among papel picado, flowers, and piñatas, Cara’s community of friends and family of all ages danced.

Dancing for Cara

Dancing for Cara

David and Cara

David and Cara

We dressed in our finest to honor Cara’s love of color, texture, Oaxaca, and all things vibrant. “I thought maybe this was too much,” one friend said, stunning in her skirt decorated with mirrors and threads, a delicate crocheted shawl over her blouse. “Then, I realized, nothing is too good for our girl.”

Another friend wore her necklace, a hand-painted portrait of a young girl, ‘My own patron saint. For Cara.” The sheer energy of Cara’s spirit did rock the house.

Cara rocked the house.

Cara rocked the house. © Robert Jessen

The woman who told a first-year teacher, “Forget about the text books, get your students to write about their lives!” shines through in the memories of her students and loved ones.

We love you, Cara.

We love you, Cara

Zara's blackboard.

Blackboard 2

Middle of blackboard

Cara with basketCara blew into my own life over a year ago with her determination to create a program for teachers in Oaxaca. “No, but we really have to do this. Oaxaca is amazing! People need to understand the real Mexico, not the Mexico they read about on the news.” As anyone who knew Cara knows, there was simply no saying No. Her passion, dedication, and energy swept you up in their flow. Oaxaca, here we come!

“Cool,” the Head Learner at Monte del Sol High School said when he first met Cara, “Monte has its own Frida Kahlo.”

It is those small moments that one remembers—her radiant smile, her scarves flying around her, how she forgot to brush her hair, her love of Oaxaca, how she drew all into her energy of passion, love, and dedication. Cara cussed like a sailor in two languages, and usually mixed them together with wild abandon. Her eulogy with its reference to el “pinche güero” Trump would have her full approval. “She hated that wall. She spent her whole life trying to tear down that wall.”

Somos WindowA friend expressed beautifully what so many of us feel, “I woke up keen to the uncomfortable feeling that there is a hole in the world this week. An awkward and uncomfortable large empty space in my life, where Cara use to be. For a regular person in a regular body, though, the empty space she leaves behind is phenomenally large, much bigger than her physical form. It leaves me feeling pretty darn discombobilated … and oddly and persistently leaky. Now I am staring into blank space and thinking we had lots of good work to do together… and I miss her. And I don’t like the feeling of this hole. I dont like that I can’t just call her or see her bounding into yet another coffee shop for yet another life convergence (and listo meeting) over chai, missing that flurry of unbounded energy and passion. Its strange now. Like writing or reading a sentence with the main word missing. It’s confusing and disconcerting. I am writing about ……..! So very different that the same sentence that concludes with the word Cara. A word far bigger than itself. A word that defies definition amd limitation. A word that is hard to comprehend the magnitude of, unless you actually knew her. And of course, for most of us with a lust for life, to know her was to instantaneously love her, and somehow love life even more because of her. Its odd that she isn’t here to meet me for chai today. I am not sure now how to deal with this hole in the world now, and my heart. But I am drinking chai with my grandson, who is drinking milk and eating a bagel, and I am treasuring the precious tiny moments we have together, which is all I can manage to do today…”

Cara’s zest for life and sheer love expresses itself in her friends and family, as we find one another, recognize Cara in the other’s eyes, and knit together. A friend wrote, “It’s so good to be connected with you and other friends of Cara’s. She had gathered around her and her family such an incredible group of human beings.”

What those of us who knew and loved Cara return to again and again is the sheer disbelief that her energy is gone. Then, I realized, as I experienced the wild love that surrounded her, the impact she had on countless lives, those who will remain forever changed by her, that her energy, her spirit lives on—each time we choose to see the best in all, to believe in each person, to work tirelessly to make the world a better place, to dance, to laugh, and to LOVE. 

Dios no sabe lo que le espera. I have no doubt that God has had a real earful by now about the state of immigrant rights here on the mortal plane. I expect things to change imminently. If anybody can do it, Cara can.

I sat during the Mass and focused on the golden gilt surrounding the Saint painted high on the wall, glowing softly as the sun streamed in from the windows and tried to find meaning where there was none. The only way I can walk with something like this that makes no sense is to carry her spirit forward through our lives and our work. 

Cara with FridaLive passionately.  

Listen deeply.

Write your story and encourage others to write theirs.

Lift your voice for those unheard.

Live with intention.

Love deeply.

Ultimately, Cara taught us how to live

You will be forever missed and remembered, querida Cara.
Que Dios te bendiga. Te queremos.


Write and Retreat: Bone Piles in Silver City, NM

Silver City Sunset

Silver City Sunset

Stories nature our connection to place and to each other. They show us where we’ve been and where we can go. they remind us of how to be human, how to live alongside the other lives that animate this planet…No one story can give us the whole picture. We need every voice to speak its version of truth from silence. We need every story to guide our lives.

~ Susan J. Tweit, Walking Nature Home: A Life’s Journey

This is the sunset that greeted me as my car eased down into the valley after a four-hour drive from Santa Fe to Silver City, New Mexico for a weekend Write & Retreat. Now, what is one supposed to with that—other than to sink deeply into writing and connecting with each other and ideas yet to be discovered.

That’s just what we did.

Write & Retreat Tribe

Write & Retreat Tribe: Melanie Budd, Pam Keyes, Cherry Jamison, Judy Grout, Susan Tweit, Bonnie Hobbs, Linda Jacobs, Dawn Wink, Cindy DuBois, Will Barnes

Write & Retreat creator, Susan J. Tweit, our group of fearless writers, and I spent a lot of time in the “bone piles” of each of our individual stories in Silver City. “Ranchers walk up to most bones,” writes Teresa Jordan in Riding the White Horse Home. “They look physical danger right in the eye and don’t blink. But there are other bones that scare them.”

Silver City charm

Silver City Charm

That’s where we went in our writing—through physical mapping and writing, creating word rings, passages of other writers read aloud to inspire, and ever deepening writing.

We also wandered the streets of the incredibly charming Silver City, walked the creek, and talked about how the land can inspire and tell its own story, explored the incredible art shops, drank coffee and talked about writing and life, drank wine and talked about writing and life, and enjoyed meals together around conversation and friendship. 

We each returned from our weekend together transformed on some way. Our community share their experiences:

Along the Creek

Along the creek. ©Daniel Grout

“First, trust. We talk so often as writers about the ways in which writing can transform our lives, and I know I totally depend on my writing practice each day, just to stay sane. But it isn’t just the daily practice of crafting and making. It’s like the answers are actually in there! There is something really magic about this. In that strange vortex of inspiration and creation, if we can follow it, and trust our imagination and instinct, the pathway will become clear, the words tell us what to do. I think my poems are telling me where to go, and how. So the real work is about listening and about trust. I am not sure how this came to me, but something about all of you did it! And it makes me very happy.” ~ Will Barnes

Together Eating Silver

Community and Conversation ©Daniel Grout

“I was the only person in the retreat who has not had something published but I was treated as a colleague and honored as a writer. This experience solidified my determination to quite wishing I was a writer to identifying loud and proud, I AM A WRITER! I know that by this time next year, I’ll be able to look back and say my life changed for the better that weekend.” ~Cindy DuBois

“Thank you for providing such a safe, supportive, and thought-provoking atmosphere at the retreat. The group energy and sense of kinship was very encouraging. The experience inspired me and broadened my vision of what writing can be.” ~Melanie Budd

Cherry Bone pile

Word Ring © Cherry Jamison

“Among the things that I particularly value about the word and concept of a “bone pile” is that it is so much more elegant than saying that we must each face and go through our own (and our family) “shit” to get to truth, essence or even grace at times. I also appreciate that there is always a choice about whether or not we share what we find in the bone bile. Sometimes facing it is enough, and sometimes it isn’t. I think that we all probably are looking for freedom in our writing and in our lives.” ~Cherry Jamison

~ “Yes, this group was phenomenal. We seemed to meld into such a solid, self-confident, intelligent, supportive, creative bunch. I suspect it had something to do with the leaders teaching us and the lovely environment and perhaps the writing gods zinging us with positive energy. I am honored to be considered a part of this enclave and rejoice that we seem to express a mutual desire for the support to continue.” ~Judy Grout

“Thank you for the wonderful and stimulating retreat. You have a way of bringing out depths of thought which one didn’t know were there!” ~Linda Jacobs


Hatch, NM

For myself, ideas swirled through my mind on the return drive home through the wonderful town of Hatch, ristras of strung chile lining every shop and street, and the long stretches of desert of New Mexico. I returned with a chapter for LOVE STONES that it would not have been complete without and a focus on “re-imagining” areas of life.

Something about our weekend shifted something deep within me and this past weekend found me home—not traveling or teaching or attending any sporting events for kids for the first time in weeks and weeks. I sank into the rhythms of the home, “the sacredness of puttering” or something like that is how Anne Lamott describes this. I checked out of anything online and added another laying of tending to our new home. Inspired by my own clustering and our conversations, I sank into Being Home. I lined linen closet shelves, cleaned bathroom cabinets, and went on long morning runs. I brought order to some of those dark, clogged corners that tend to take us so much emotional energy. I’ve learned to trust that ebb-and-flow of energy and writing and went with it. Oh, and I read and took naps on both days! Heaven.

Beauty of stained glass, stained sky

I returned transformed. That transformation has strengthened my writing and life rhythms these past few weeks in infinitely healthier ways.  

One of those rhythms includes a return to running, something that I have not made time for in my life for the past several months due to life and work commitments. Every morning, with a mutual text from a member of our Write & Retreat tribe, she heads out the door in Tucson for her walk and I head out the door in Santa Fe for my run. The “re-imagining” of other areas of life continues. My journal fills with clusters and maps.

The weekend inspired Susan and I to reserve the weekend of February 17-20, 2017 at The Murray Hotel for the Second Annual Silver City Write & Retreat. 

Sometimes one needs to get away to find what deserves discovery.

Early morning run with swirling sunrise and moon.

Early morning run with swirling sunrise and moon.

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