Dawn Wink: Dewdrops

Landscape, Language, Teaching, Wildness, Beauty, Imagination


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Stories at the Intersection of Language and Landscape Through Wildness, Beauty, and Imagination: A Scholarly Personal Narrative — Dissertation Defense (Video)

What felt like an impossible dream for so many years came true on October 6, 2021. I successfully defended my dissertation, “Stories at the Intersection of Language and Linguistic Literatures Through Wildness, Beauty, and Imagination: A Scholarly Personal Narrative.”

The journey of the past four years of coursework and dissertation writing held many explorations, discoveries, dear new friends, amazing ideas, unexpected challenges, and all else that composes life.

My inquiry focused on stories at the intersection of language and landscape through wildness, beauty, and imagination.

The whole experience of the defense was was so much more than I ever let myself hope for or dream. A truly joyous experience! I remain forever grateful to my phenomenal dissertation committee: May Elawar, PhD; Jennifer Wells, PhD; and Luci Tapahonso, Professor Emerita. A recording of my defense here:

The marvelous word for dissertation in Costa Rica—chifladura—expresses a powerful vortex of the coming together of natural powers and energies. This symbolizes my dissertation experience exquisitely.

After my defense, Mom and I cried… beyond words to be able to share this with her 30 years after her own dissertation defense. Dr. Wink squared celebrated in fine form on the swings!

And, I promise to take this t-shirt off someday…maybe…I’ll think about it…


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Luke’s Story–Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

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Luke and I traveled to St. Louis, MO last month for what we hope to be the culmination of a four-year health journey for Luke. We traveled there for Luke to have surgery for what was finally diagnosed as Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. Luke will write of this experience in his own words. 

For those of you who don’t know Luke, introduce you to him. Luke was born with a smile on his face that never stopped, always in a good mood, always positive. His strawberry hair and smile sparkled in the sun, whether the sun was out or not. Luke’s undiagnosed asthma had the two of us in the Emergency Room every month for two years, his ages one -three. His translucent skin slowly took on color as he took in oxygen and he came out of the semi-conscious state that these episodes brought on. He never complained. This kid is tough, tough, tough. 

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Generous of spirit, Luke loved books, reading, exercise, and sports. When people asked me how Luke was doing in college, I said, “That kid will thrive anywhere. It’s just who he is.”

Luke on Mother’s Day, 2017

 

2016

 

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Finish line of marathon, 2016

Luke tells his story in his own words:

“Hi everyone! Thanks for taking a minute to read my story. I apologize if it’s a little shaky. I’m writing left-handed, while recovering from surgery. Don’t worry, I still have my right hand; my arm is just sore.

Like Mom said, this surgery was a long time coming. If you’ve met me over the past four years, you’ll know I’ve been struggling with a chronic and mysterious pain that doctors, until recently, were completely unable to diagnose.

The U of A has a wonderful Recreation Center, and I made a point to lift weights a few times a week. While I was a sophomore, I was bench-pressing the same weight that I always bench-pressed, when something in the right side of my chest gave and tore. I racked the weight, left the gym, and scheduled a doctor’s appointment. There, I was assured the issue was a minor shoulder strain that would heal on its own with time.

Long story short, it didn’t. I spent most of that semester unable to open doors or lift my arm above my head, waiting for the injury to heal. Every time I visited a doctor, I was told that with rest and time the injury would heal, and that I was really too young to be in this kind of pain anyways. That was a phrase I heard a lot “You’re really too young to be having this kind of issue.”

2018

Years passed and the pain evolved, it went from being a muscular issue rooted deep in my chest to a burning pain that radiated up the entire right side of my neck and into my trapezoid muscles. It was motion-induced, which is to say that the more things I wanted or needed to do, the more pain I would be in by the end of the day. Activities that brought me pain included walking, sitting, lifting things, looking to my right, and just talking with people.

At this point, we were desperately looking for a doctor with an answer. We had appointments with orthopedic surgeons, and multiple pain specialists.  We traveled to the Mayo Clinic for a consultation. Almost every visit began with, “You’re too young to feel this way,” and ended with an order for some kind of medical scan, MRI’s, X-rays, EMGs: all tests to try and see some muscular or nerve issue. They all came back negative. At this point, we were trying everything we could think of, multiple courses of physical therapy, chiropractic treatments, orthopedic massage, acupuncture, CBD, a series of nerve ablations, and on and on. You name it and I have probably done it.

2018

At this point, it had been about three years of searching for an answer, while spending every day in pain. I was both embittered at the medical profession, and hopeless that I would one day find an answer. I have my family, and Mom in particular, for never giving up on the hope of an answer.

Roughly sixth months ago, my doctors decided that all muscular issues were examined, we turned to the brain. Maybe, the theory went, my brain had just gotten used to firing off pain signals and hadn’t stopped, even after the muscle in my chest had healed. Working on this hypothesis, we met with a neurosurgeon here in Santa Fe.

I won’t disclose his name, but he was and a different kind of doctor than I was used to seeing, and I’d seen a lot. When I told him the story that I just told you, he didn’t say, “you’re too young to have this problem,” he said, “I’m sorry that you have this problem so young.” He ordered another scan, which was again, negative, and then said that in his opinion I couldn’t have anything but neurogenic Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS), and that he would refer me to a specialist clinic in St Louis, MO.

By this point, I was used to doctors developing a pet diagnosis for my problem that ended up being wrong. My personal favorite was one doctor’s diagnosis of early-onset-right-side-of-neck arthritis, for which I received weeks of treatment with absolutely no benefit. I’d learned to treat their theories with a bit of suspicion.

So, I looked up Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and the clinic in St. Louis, MO. I may also have read the book about Thoracic Outlet Syndrome written by the lead surgeon, just to be sure. What I found was encouraging.

I fit the patient profile exactly. Most TOS patients are young, otherwise healthy individuals with chronic pain induced by most activity. Most TOS patients bounce around the medical system for two or three years before receiving their TOS diagnosis, as the criteria for diagnosis is, get this, multiple negative medical scans. All those MRI’s and X-rays paid off after all.

Leaving for St. Louis

So, what is TOS, I now wanted to know. Well, it’s a condition that develops when the brachial plexus nerves, which run from you fingertips, up your arm, through your pectoral muscles and up into your neck and shoulder blades, are compressed by some obstruction. The obstruction can be anything, well, three things really. Either a permanent muscle spasm in the pectorals or scalene(neck) muscles, an odd growth on the first rib, or scar tissue built up from a previous injury.

Long story short, I had a video call with the lead surgeon who diagnosed me with TOS and scheduled me for surgery in St. Louis. Mom and I took what turned out to be a really wonderful road trip to the hospital, and I had my operation on April 2, 2021.

During the operation, the surgeon found a large amount of scar tissue around my pec minor, which he removed. Hopefully, this was the mysterious cause of the problem: the thing we’ve been looking for all these years. I’m still in recovery at the moment, and so it’s hard to tell if the new pain from the surgery is covering up the old pain, and where I’ll be in three months, but I can say that the burning pain, at the moment, is gone.

So, the story isn’t over, but hopefully this is the last chapter and we’ll have more good news for you soon. Before I go I’d like thank Mom for being the driving force behind my recovery. I definitely would not have made it through this experience without your help, and the help of all our family and friends, that’s all for now, thanks for reading!”

 This is Dawn again. Amidst all, Luke and I had a magical time together. Along the way, we were able to spend time with my Aunt Elaine (Dad’s sister) and cousins, Brian and Brett.

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We made the most of the trip and saw some of the sights of St. Louis between Luke’s pre-op appointment and the day of the surgery.

We took in the Gateway Arch, as well as the Botanical Gardens. We played a lot of chess, drank a lot of Tension Tamer Tea, and crushed it on the Harry Potter Trivia cards.

We loved the Botanical Gardens. It was a cold day. We entered the dome and I said to Luke, “This is exactly like Costa Rica.”

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We quickly shed our coats and wandered for an hour, taking in each exquisite plant, flower, waterfall, Chihuly glass sculpture, lizard, all. Pure magic.

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Surgery/Post-surgery

During his surgery, I escaped (somewhat) into my dissertation.

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Clearly, we needed flowers!

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When not in the hospital, I worked on my dissertation.

St. Louis bloomed with daffodils during our time there. My color, flower-loving heart and spirit drank them in. A dear friend in Vermont mentioned how her daffodils had poked their blooms up through the snow that week, “They’re so resilient.” These are the perfect flowers to be blooming during Luke’s surgery, I thought. Luke’s resiliency throughout this journey never ceases to leave me humbled and inspired.

Six days after surgery, Luke was discharged and we headed home.

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One day Luke will write his full story. One day, I will write the mother’s story of this journey. For now, we focus on his healing and we hope.

When Wyatt was two-years-old, he called me ‘the Mommy Lady’ and I’ve been the Mommy Lady ever since. This Mommy Lady’s heart overflows with gratitude for a diagnosis at long-last and with optimism for what lies ahead for Luke.

Mostly, this Mommy Lady’s heart overflows with love for the brave soul I am fortunate enough to walk through this life with as my son. Here’s to the next chapter, Luke. I know you will write it well.

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Quilts—Composing an Artful Life

#stepscrapquilts ©Stephanie Paterson

Mom and Steph

Quilts often come on the wings of angels.

I saw this photo made by my friend, Stephanie, and fell in love with the colors, composition, “Blessings,” print, textures, all. I commented on the gorgeous nature of the quilt, so impressed with how Stephanie had yet again created such a work of art, such beauty. Steph and Mom were colleagues at the university where they both worked. Here the two of them are at a pre-pandemic conference in Tucson. I love the striking nature of the patterns, how she pieces color combinations that radiate energy, life, peace, and a strong dose of whimsy! I love the independent strength of these quilts.

Raw materials. ©Stephanie Paterson

A few short weeks later, a beautifully wrapped package arrived. When I opened the wrapping, the quilt that I had admired spilled out. The card read, ‘Blessings’… This one is for you! Hope the New Year is full of good books + long runs + candlelit writing sessions. I remembered the beautiful quilt of reds and pinks that Stephanie made for Mom when she was going through chemotherapy. The past year had been a bit of a doozy for me. Stephanie makes quilts to gift. Please enjoy here some of the quilts she’s gifted and notes received over the years. A feast for the senses, the heart, the spirit: Steph Scrap Quilts: Quilt Notes. And, Steph’s treasure trove of books on quilting, creativity, writing, and teaching where she finds inspiration.

Our lives become rich and meaningful when we piece together the joys and sorrows, the questions and answers, the successes and failures, the longings, the people and experiences that have been the colors and shapes of our lives. Out of chaos we can sometimes make comforting patterns. Out of despair, beauty; out of longing, a new possibility; out of joy, visual radiance. —Rev. Laurie Bushbaum (With Sacred Threads: Quilting and the Spiritual Life, S. Towner-Larsen & B. Brewer Davis)

Steph’s work space ©Stephanie Paterson

Stephanie encouraged me to feel all that a handsewn quilt enfolds and shared Alice Walkers’ Everyday Use. Walker writes in the piece:

“Maggie can’t appreciate these quilts!” she said. “She’d probably be backward enough to put them to everyday use.”

“I reckon she would,” I said. “God knows I been saving ’em for long enough with nobody using ’em. I hope she will!”

Stephanie’s quilt

I mentioned how quilts often come on the wings of angels. A dear friend from high school, Gidget, gifted me this handsewn Frida Kahlo quilt. Lush life, colors, textures, and the very energy and essence of the amazing Frida flowed from the quilt throughout our house.

Feet what do I need you for, when I have wings to fly?—Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo quilt

What so inspire me about quilts are not only the colors, the textures, the vibrancy, the designs—it is the what goes into creating or gifting a quilt. Gifted quilts reflect the heart and spirit of the giver. When my kids were born, we received quilts cherished to this day. An Amish wedding quilt graces our home. Love lives through the fabric and all the quilter stitched into its making and through the spirit the giver.

Our well-worn copy of The Quiltmaker’s Gift (J. Brumbeau & G.de Marcken) tells the story of “a quiltmaker who kept a house in the blue misty mountains up high. Even the oldest great, great grandfather could not recall a time when she was not up there, sewing away day after day. The blues seemed to come from the deepest part of the ocean, the whites from the northernmost snows, the greens and purples from the abundant wildflowers, the reds, oranges, and pinks from the most wonderful sunsets.” People come from far-and-wide to buy a quilt. Her quilts will only be given to those in need.

It is a story of generosity, gifting, birds, and beauty.

“The Quiltmaker’s Gift,” artist Gail de Marcken (illustration potentially me in several decades)

Starry skies

I love to sew. I love the textures, colors, creativity, thinking about the composition, the meditative time where all else—including time—cease to exist. I had a limited clothing allowance growing up, but my parents bought all of the patterns and fabric I wanted. I spent days, weekends, and summers sewing alone and with girlfriends, lost in our creations and the rhythmic sounds of our sewing machines. Mom says that after I sewed, my family stepped on straight pins for days! Mom’s forever friend took her daughter and me to a place that sold fabric by the pound. Heaven. I look forward to weaving those textures and time into the fabric of my life again one day.

I made this Mexican Star quilt the summer I graduated from college.

Mexican Star Quilt

Later, I made quilts for babies and then their magic capes, dinosaur curtains, and fairy skirts. In the intervening years the fullness of raising kids, work, and writing leaves my sewing machine dusty. I started a small piece of a sunrise/sunset many years ago. Small felt do-able. The fabrics, beads, and threads still give me great joy. Even when bundled into my sewing basket. One day, one day.

Sunrise/sunset

My dad gave me this quilt made by a local quilter on the prairies. I love that this horse runs the walls and sky of my writing room. She brings the nighttime prairie skies and scents of summer grasses when they turn from green to flaxen with her.

Quilt from Daddy

In her piece Wintering Replenishes, Katherine May writes, “There are gaps in the mesh of the everyday world, and sometimes they open and you fall through them into Somewhere Else. And Somewhere Else runs at a different pace to the here and now, where everyone else carries on.”

When we fall through into Somewhere Else, quilts often catch us.

Sometimes those quilts are made and gifted by others. And sometimes, made and gifted to ourselves.

“Creativity calls for self-forgetting and deeper self-remembering (With Sacred Threads, S. Towner-Larsen & B. Brewer Davis).”

“…self-forgetting and deeper self-remembering” — yes, yes, and yes.

Mary Catherine Bateson (Composing a Life) describes life as an improvisatory art. Life as art. We piece together our lives much as quilters arrange and sew pieces of fabric into the beauty of the whole. I wish for us that we all find some form of art-making, to self-forget and self-remember in creative forms where time flows around us without our notice as we live in worlds of our own creations—worlds to gift others or to gift ourselves.

Flowers for my desk and spirit.


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Citrus Garlands—Strung Jewels

Citrus garlands in our kitchen window.

You know how sometimes you stumble upon a photo or idea and despite having far more important things to spend your time on, you simply must do it? This is what happened with me when I saw a photo of citrus garlands. They looked so full of life, color, and fragrance—like strung happiness.

So, off to buy oranges, grapefruit, lemons, and the coup d’état that required calls ahead to three different stores—blood oranges. When peeled, these reveal the beauty of a sunrise within.

Beauty of a blood orange.

Luke and I sliced and laid out the fruit, accompanied by Spanish guitar music.

Then, into the oven at *170 degrees for 4-5 hours. The house smelled of citrus sweetness and tang.

Wore my fabulous new poppy apron that Mom gave me.

As each pan finished, we laid them out on the table.

Luke and I strung the garlands with twine. We had way too much fun doing this.

When laid out on the table, they remind me of strung jewels!

Then to hang. I love to see the garlands in the kitchen window in the mornings when I wake and pour my coffee for early morning writing.

The sun shining through reveals the intricate details and beauty of each. The blood oranges are especially exquisite.

Glowing jewels!

A friend wrote and said she and her mom had made these when she was a child. They tied cinnamon sticks in between the fruit. This sounds wonderful and we’ll be incorporating cinnamon sticks into our stands the next time we make.

Garland Bloopers: I love when movies include the bloopers. We had some definite bloopers. Note: lemons dry much faster than the larger oranges and grapefruit! Wynn’s bff, Erin, made garlands for her apartment. She sent photos the gorgeous strand strung across her room and another of charred fruit with the following note, “…and then what I call the ‘Gothic Garland.’ Love it!Luke and I played with what to call our own garland of bloopers, we tried Garnet Garland, which sounds lovely and poetic—and then decided “Gothic Garland” really is the best!

Gothic Garland

Garland strand in my writing room.

Writing room

• • •

Thank you to @newmexmattie on Instagram for the photos of the original inspiration! She says she bought hers at Bagel’s Florals. And such gratitude to Linda Archibald (@alegregardens) for diving into doing these garlands on her own and posting photos, thus turning our Teacher Education meeting into me asking her all kinds of questions about how to make. Thank you, Linda!


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Green Space: The Release, the Repose

Artist Anna Valdez

Luke Wink-Moran

 

My son, Luke, just published his first piece here at Curiosity Shots. I did not read this essay until it was published. My oldest son, Wyatt, referred to me as ‘The Mommy Lady’ when he was two-years-old and the name stuck.

I am one very proud Mommy Lady to share Luke’s essay here.

Green Space: The Release, The Repose

by Luke Wink-Moran

When lockdown began, back in March, I decided that I wanted to try something new. I would begin every day with an outdoor walk. Outside, in the early morning air, the sky opening up above me, everything else faded away — which was good — because everything else was a lot: the coronavirus, the election, a national reckoning with race, the headlines got worse every day. It was only on my walks that I could forget everything for a while.

I started seeking out nature in other ways beyond my walks. I spent hours in the garden with my mom, watching honeybees circle our sunflowers while hummingbirds jousted over the sugar water feeders.

My sister and I scoured the internet for houseplants, and that spring, our rooms bloomed with life. The books I read led back to nature, too. “World of Wonders” by Aimee Nezhukumatathil filled my head with whale sharks and fireflies as I read in the predawn light.

Even when I played video games with my sister, we were still kind of outdoors — running around our digital island in Animal Crossing, catching butterflies, and shaking peaches from trees.

Not all that surprisingly, and perhaps as expected, we were not the only ones spending more time and energy in nature. In Britain, sales of plants, bulbs, seeds, saw sales increase 35% from 2019, some individual online plant stores saw an increase of 500%, going through a few months’ worth of supplies in a few weeks. Animal Crossing became the most popular Nintendo game of 2020. “World of Wonders,” became the Barnes & Noble book of the year and was ranked as of the top five New York Times nonfiction bestsellers. Nature, it seemed, was growing on people.

I wondered why, in a time of such extraordinary stress, people were turning to nature for comfort. As doom-scrolling became a national pastime and the world migrated to the internet, why were mountain trails and gardens becoming more popular? Why, with 53% percent of Americans reporting that coronavirus had negatively impacted their mental health, were houseplants flying off the shelves as fast as toilet paper?

“In The Garden” Print // Kim Illustration A Green Space

It turns out that nature has some serious mental health benefits. It can lead to greater happiness and life satisfaction, improve mood and memory, and reduce anxiety and stress. In fact, nature is so good for us that some doctors are writing “social prescriptions” recommending that patients spend more time outdoors or gardening for their health and wellbeing. An over-the-counter fix.

Gardening in particular has been studied for its mental health benefits. In her book “The Well-Gardened Mind ” Sue Stuart Smith suggests that gardening can be a state of play that we may find nowhere else in our adult lives.

Despite my own experience and contrary to popular beliefs, you don’t need a garden to benefit from green space. Most of the scientific literature indicates that you just need to be immersed in nature. Being immersed in nature has been shown to decrease depression scores and even reduce pain perception. As someone coming up on a three-year anniversary with a chronic injury, this is one aspect of nature that I absolutely adore.

Surpassing the physical, plants may even boost productivity and creativity — something that I personally have struggled with over lockdown. While studies conflict — some show a productivity boost, and some don’t — even employees who didn’t think that greenery made them more productive reported that plants made the office feel friendlier and cleaner.

I realized that I’ve been reaching out for green space for the last nine months. In the books I read, the games I played, and the places where I spent my time, the benefits of living around — and regularly interacting with — green space are clear to me. And while 2020 may have been when I truly discovered how good for you nature can be, I, for one, can’t imagine giving up my walks anytime soon.

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Luke created for quarantine Mother’s Day, 2020.

 

 


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Covid Gardens—Flowers and Poetry for our Times

My cousin, Janet, sent me this poem “Covid Gardens” by Claudia Castro Luna and said that it reminded her of my mason jar bouquets. The combination of the vibrant bouquets of summer in contrast to what we experienced this week lifted my spirit.

Anyone who knows me knows how much I adore flowers, textures, and colors. I love growing all kinds of flowers, just so I can create colorful, messy, texture-filled, wild bouquets for friends, colleagues, and students. I love bringing bouquets to classes. I love bringing to meetings. I love gifting people these bouquets. Yes, I hope to create beauty. Just as much, these bouquets and gifting them brighten my own spirit.

Mason jar bouquet from the garden.

Georgia O’Keeffe wrote, “When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for the moment. I want to give that world to somebody else.” I use mason jars, which I buy by the flat, so nobody need worry about returning the vase. Here are some worlds for the moment.

In light of all that happened this week—horrifying and heartbreaking—when I received this poem about bouquets, the thought occurred to me that perhaps a bit of beauty and poetry might be balms for our hurting hearts. When I shared the photo below of my new journal and stickers (gifts from my brother, Bo, and his wife, Lisa) on FB and Instagram, independently people commented, “After yesterday’s trauma, this looks like good medicine,” and “Nice reprieve from the chaos of politics. Thank you. As we think, so we are.”

Those thoughts inspired me to share a bit of beauty and this poem.

Aimee Nezhukumatathil writes of the challenges of the past months and the transcendent qualities of poetry:

I wish I could tell you that this bird reverie carried me upward and onward through this most difficult of months. Not so. The reality and grief over missing my beloved students—I never got to say goodbye in person as classes were moved online over spring break a couple of weeks ago—and all the scary news of the spread of the virus and a thousand other worries for our planet and its inhabitants have kept me awake, in a state of alarm, and when I sleep—it is not sound.

But I believe in poetry. I believe it can elevate you for even just a brief moment—not to forget the horror surrounding us (it’s there, it’s there. I can’t pretend it’s not)—but it can alter how we see the world, how we see each other. I have faith that we will be able to touch each other and break bread together at the same table again soon. Maybe not as soon as I’d like, but soon. At least that is what I tell my sons. And when that day comes, how lucky to find ourselves attached to the rest of the world once again! (Orion Magazine, April 1, 2020 https://orionmagazine.org/2020/04/national-poetry-month-2020-2/#.X_iyUFaV4bc.twitter)

I invite you to sink into the portrait painted through words created here by Castro Luna.

“Garden gifts making for rich tables in slim times — mine, plentiful with print an flowers…” When I read this poem, I felt my breathing deepen and my pulse slow. (Which is actually halfway dangerous, considering how low my pulse and blood pressure already are. When nurses take my pulse, their first question is often, “Is this normal? This is usually when we hospitalize people.” I just say, “Genetics and running.” My dad and I have a competition to see who can get their pulse and blood pressure the lowest.” I call Daddy after an appointment to say, “80 over 40 — top THAT!” We have all kinds of visualization strategies. None of which I admit in public.)

We will get beyond the troubled landscapes of this time. Gardens will bloom again. I look forward to walking into my garden this summer and cutting flowers to create messy, wild, wonderful bouquets to gift. These thoughts buoy my spirit and cast light.

Speaking of casting light and gardens blooming once again, I received this candle as a gift from my friend, Barb. Little did she know that the same piece of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, embroidered by my grandmother, hangs in the hallway.

I lit the candle this morning during my time of candlelit solitude and sanctuary. Wishing you sanctuary and thoughts of blooming gardens, exuberant with color and life.


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Rhythms, Intentions, and A lot of Smoke

 

Chile wreath from the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market

New year, new energy, new beginnings. Seasonal rhythms invite reflections on the past and visions for the future. Sometimes the best-laid plans go awry. Case in point—2020. Even in light of what is beyond our control, the new year brings opportunity to muse, plan, and focus intention on what we’d like to create and bring into being in the new year. This year finds me reflecting on learnings from the past and visions for the future, conveying these in word and image in my journal. I love learning of others’ creative and planning processes and share mine here, in case you may share this passion.

Energy and Intention

I am fairly protective about where I spend my energy and intention when it is within the realm of my control. There’s so much beyond our control that demands our energy, so I take the time and energy within my control seriously. I try my best to focus the time and energy that I have on people and projects that I love and on what I want to create in my life.

Key for my own energy and intentions are two essential rhythms of life— 1) waking early for solitude with candlelight, journal, and coffee in the morning, and 2) running. These are two foundational rhythms that I’ve discovered make a world of difference for all else.

All Wink Women in our family received this cup for Christmas. I saw and knew we had to have.

Intentions for 2021

Scribbled in prose, webs, and lists in my journals with intentions for 2021 include:

Gift from Luke. Perfect.

Dissertation: 2020 began with me still immersed in my breast cancer journey. Then came the pandemic and all three 20-something kids moved home. Gifts and challenges came with all. Once I was on the other side of the health intensity, what truly scared me was that between the breast cancer, the pandemic full house, and a overflowing work life due all happening in the field of education because of the pandemic, I found myself with no emotional energy or space for my dissertation.

None.

I know what can happen here—this is how people do not finish. The thought of this scared me. So, in May, I decided that come-what-may I needed to throw myself back into the PhD journey. I sat down with my family to tell them of this, that I had to carve our time to focus on my dissertation. Somehow. I threw intention and energy toward this journey again, completed and defended my proposal (“Exploring Stories at the Intersection of Landscape and Linguistic Literatures through Wildness, Beauty, and Imagination: A Narrative Inquiry”) and am now focused on my dissertation. My primary intention for 2021 is to complete my dissertation.

A few of the books lining my literary nest.

Reading widely and deeply: Like so many of us, I live surrounded by shelves and piles of books. My heart is content when nestled within a literary nest, both figurative and physical. Fiction and non-fiction line my nest. Through both my writing and academic lives, I organize these readings through bibliographies, papers, notes, publication, and journals. Another of my intentions for the upcoming year is to weave Goodreads back into my literary life. I am reading so many incredible books for my studies and diving into luscious fiction at night before bed, my intention is to engage with this reading community through books review on what I’m reading and learning more about what others are reading and recommend.

“Lift it up”: I am such a believer in this. I learned this lesson through life, especially those chapters of life that simply did not make any sense. For those events and chapters that no matter how hard I try, either don’t make sense or I cannot seem to make right, I’ve learned to tell myself to, “Lift it up.” I do this both literally and emotionally. I may be known along my running trails as the runner who out of nowhere often throws her arms up in the air. I’m okay with that. When my mind returns to difficult terrains, I do my best to “Lift it up,” and channel that negative energy into something positive. Again and again and again, until like a river bed, the re-directed waters form new paths.

We shall see what happens within the narrative arc of this year. Come what may, it feels good right now to both lift and ground myself in these intentions.

Smudging in the New Year with sage and intentions.

We brought last year to a close on New Year’s Eve by smudging with sage what we wanted to release from the past months and focusing our intentions and energy on what we want to bring into this year. A new tradition.

New Year’s Day, during my early morning solitude, I continued letting go and setting intentions with the sage smudge stick. I unwound the twine and allowed more oxygen into the bundle of sage. Over the course of the next hour, immersed in my thoughts and writing, my writing room filled with the purifying smoke. A LOT of purifying smoke, I suddenly realized.

I put the bundle outside in my kitchen garden, where it continued to smoke. I smudged all of our own home, as well most of the surrounding area. The pungent smoke hung in the air. I texted our neighbor to say, “When you step outside and wonder how you were suddenly transported to Woodstock, it is because I’ve been smudging over here. Smudging, not smoking!”

She wrote back, “We need all the smudging possible…good job.” Suffice it to say my writing room is now permanently purified, even after leaving the door open all day!

I stumbled across this poem and it resonates deeply. A gift.

i am running into a new year

by Lucille Clifton

i am running into a new year

and the old years blow back

like a wind

that i catch in my hair

like strong fingers like

all my old promises and it will be hard to let go

of what i said to myself

about myself

when i was sixteen and

twentysix and thirtysix

even thirtysix but

i am running into a new year

and i beg what i love and

i leave to forgive me

 

May you run into the New Year and may the full moon usher in your dreams.


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The Hands that Write This Letter

Early morning writing

The poem, “Consider the Hands that Write this Letter” by Aracelis Girmay came to me via OnBeing.org. Of course, the title of the piece had my attention immediately.

Then, to hear the poem read aloud by Pádraig Ó Tuama—just exquisite.

I share the poem with you here for the sheer beauty of the words and experience. I do hope you’ll treat yourself to clicking on the link to hear read aloud.

 

 

 

Consider the Hands that Write this Letter

Consider the hands
that write this letter.
The left palm pressed flat against the paper,
as it has done before, over my heart,
in peace or reverence
to the sea or some beautiful thing
I saw once, felt once: snow falling
like rice flung from the giants’ wedding,
or the strangest birds. & consider, then,
the right hand, & how it is a fist,
within which a sharpened utensil,
similar to the way I’ve held a spade,
match to the wick, the horse’s reins,
loping, the very fists
I’ve seen from the roads to Limay & Estelí.
For years, I have come to sit this way:
one hand open, one hand closed,
like a farmer who puts down seeds & gathers up
the food that comes from that farming.
Or, yes, it is like the way I’ve danced
with my left hand opened around a shoulder
& my right hand closed inside
of another hand. & how
I pray, I pray for this
to be my way: sweet
work alluded to in the body’s position
to its paper:
left hand, right hand
like an open eye, an eye closed:
one hand flat against the trapdoor,
the other hand knocking, knocking.

Christmas Cactus at the cusp of bloom.

 


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Everyday Patterns

Beauty on my run. #11miles

Gifted shirt from my Auntie Ace. Perfect and timely.

In March 2020—roughly a decade ago—when the pandemic began, I read a piece about about a photojournalist who began “a visual diary of intimacy within isolation, amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” published here: Stay Home: A Portrait of Confinement in Milan. From her home in Milan, Italy, Camilla Ferrari conveys how, “ordinary scenes and everyday patterns, sometimes paired together, take on new meaning inside the one-bedroom apartment where Ferrari finds beauty and comfort in the poetry of daily life.”

At that time, all three adult children had moved home for quarantine. Our home filled with the energies and interests of three 20-somethings. Still able to run outside in nature here in New Mexico, I wondered how different the experience to be in a one-or two-bedroom flat in Europe, without nature easily accessible. I marveled at what that must be like on my daily runs outside through the high desert. This knowledge lifted my awareness of the expanse, freedom, gifts of nature, and fresh air my runs provided, especially in a full house.

My runs also provide the gift of solitude, something during quarantine many of us crave. I have thought of the vastly different experiences of quarantine based on context; for many of us, we had young adult children move home, bringing whole new rhythms and patterns—or lack thereof. Others are separated from children they normally see. Talking with a dear friend, who lives alone, I realized the deep well of loneliness of those who live alone during quarantine, without the norms of moving within greater society, with the human contact of friends, family, and colleagues.

A run under these clouds.

As many places around the world, here in New Mexico we entered another severe lockdown last week, due to the rising numbers in in our state and throughout the US. I thought again of the “visual diary of intimacy” from that one-bedroom flat in Milan. I tend to see bits of beauty in everyday life and stop whatever I’m doing to either savor or photograph. Wherever you are, and whatever the state of quarantine or not, the emotional weight of this pandemic wears on us all. I hope these bits of beauty from Santa Fe and beyond may bring a little of another world to your home.

Yucca pod. Beauty on my run.

I am a person of rhythms. The daily rhythms of my life create the foundation which makes all else possible. Integral to these rhythms are the early morning hours of candlelight, coffee, and solitude. During this time, I write, dream, and envision. I cherish this time, with only the soft light of the candles, lights hung around the window, my journal, and pen. It is when those rhythms are disrupted, as so often now during the pandemic, that I find them even more vital.

Early morning hours in my writing room.

The daily rhythms of sunrise and sunset provide structure and mark each day. Rooftop sunrise, Santa Fe.

“November is chill, frosted mornings with a silver sun rising behind the trees, red cardinals at the feeders, and squirrels running scallops along the tops of the gray stone walls”. —Jean Hersey

How about a walk on the November prairie?  5 Reasons to Hike the November Prairie This gorgeous piece, ripe with the November beauty of the prairie by Cindy Crosby takes me to the ranch.

Crosby begins, “1. November’s prairie is a sea of gorgeous foamy seeds. Exploding asters loosen their shattered stars against the winds.”

“Let’s go look for hope. Peace. Beauty,” she writes.

Yes, let’s.

Sunlight through grass tufts on my run.

The Van Gogh French press and two cups reflects the pattern of our days. Luke and I each pause each day in the early afternoon to share a cup of coffee. Great care goes into the selection of which cup for each of us on that day. I treasure this time and these conversations with my 22-year-old son.

It’s official—I advanced to PhD Candidacy. Now to complete the dissertation/defense.

A gift of the every day beauty included receiving this beautiful photo and sharing with a Book Club to talk about Meadowlark. I just love this photo.

@Renee Roebuck

Speaking of books, a fantastic new writing book out by Linda Hasselstrom. Wise and wonderful.

A final gift from one of my runs, a reflection of the, “ordinary scenes and daily patterns that take on new meaning.” As I ran by this tree and saw this cluster, my first thought was, “Spider web or fairy home?”

I know what I see.

 


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Language, Place, Story, Memory, Myth, and So Much More

I could run forever under these clouds. #11miles

More lovely discoveries here in my continued exploration of language, landscape, wildness, beauty, and imagination with a focus on connections between language and landscape through the lenses of wildness, beauty, and imagination. There are pieces here on language, place, story, memory, myth, landscape, democracy, trees, and belonging. I hope you will enjoy sinking into these ideas and images as much as I did. And, speaking of landscape, wildness, beauty, and imagination, I have to include a photo of these fantastic pants that Mom and Wynn brought home from a consignment store. Best. Pants. Ever.

Please make yourself a cup of coffee or tea and settle-in to explore these worlds. In this complex time, I find exploring these expansive ideas allows me to breathe deeper, hold hope, be inspired, and dream. Enjoy.

The Memory Field by Jake Skeets How time and land hold “fields” of memory that unfold through language and storytelling. Memory is a touchy thing, and I mean that in the realest sense.

Light in my writing room window.

And Peace Shall Return by Ben Okri A stunning and timely piece on power of place, story, and solitude.

Orion Magazine and Point Reyes Books presents Rebecca Solnit and Terry Tempest Williams An intimate conversation about the US election, the state of democracy, and about The Most Radical Thing You Can Do.

Skywoman Falling by Robin Wall Kimmerer: In this excerpt from the new introduction to her acclaimed book “Braiding Sweetgrass,” Robin Wall Kimmerer draws upon the creation story of Skywoman and the wisdom of plants to guide us through our present moment of deep uncertainty. “The story we long for, the story that we are beginning to remember, the story that remembers us.”

Día de los Muertos 2020—Love Lives On by Dawn Wink As I placed each piece, I had to smile. When my Grandma Mary embroidered Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, when my Great-Grandma Grace ground the coffee before dawn in the sod hut on the ranch, never could they have imaged these pieces where they are now. The landscape of our altar reflects the landscape of my life. Yo soy fronterista. I am a woman of the borderlands, as used by Gloría Anzaldúa. My life is one of a fronterista, where worlds overlap: prairie and Southwest, rural and international, landscape literature and linguistic human rights. Here on the altar, prairie and farmland come together with the Southwest; German, Welsh, Irish, and English with Latino; Protestant with Catholic; past with present. The worlds, each with a distinct culture, come together to create the mosaic of the whole.

Close to the Bone by Amy Irvine  Here in the American Southwest, the now naked ground reveals hundreds of ancient spear points, arrowheads, and hand tools once buried in bunch grass and pasture. Quartz, jasper, and obsidian wink like SOS mirrors, an alphabet of artifacts spelling out a story of survival. The fine, fluted edges, impossibly sharp ends. The patience it required to knap such thick, rough stones down to near ephemera. Pierce. Skin. Scrape. Every sharp edge honed for the hides of animals.

Literary Landscape

The Randomness of Language Evolution by Ed Yong The histories of linguistics and evolutionary biology have been braided together for as long as the latter has existed through drift and selection. 

What You Can Learn by Following the Herd in Italy Transhumance, from the Latin trans for “across” and humus for “earth,” the seasonal movement of people and their livestock to and from summer and winter grazing grounds has been practiced for thousands of years by pastoral cultures.

Exploring Eco-Poetics as a Social Art by Dave Pendle I believe this sort aeistesis or sensing and articulating through writing, can be yet another a powerful aid, to reveal and discover mostly inaccessible information and energy dynamics in conventional social fields. Thus this article proposes Eco-Poetics as another possible systems sensing approach in addition to the two mentioned above.

Blue Whales Sing All Day When They Migrate and All Night When They Their mysterious songs could be an ‘acoustic signature of migration.’

Literary Landscape

What it Means to Belong in Many Places at Once by Elik Shafak Motherlands are castles made of glass. In order to leave them, you have to break something—a wall, a social convention, a cultural norm, a psychological barrier, a heart. What you have broken will haunt you…

How language shapes thought by Lera Brodisky. Reminds me of the time a friend told me that she can tell which language I’m speaking from across the room by my body movements alone.
Sharing a Place-Based Methodology and Learnings Aborigines say that their rivers don’t speak English, but they do Suraj their native language because it was born of the land and is part of it.

The Secret Life of Trees: Stunning Sylvan Drawings by Indigenous Artists Based on Indian Mythology by Maria Popova For a moment of respite from the palpitations of the present, from the American insanity, from the human world at all, stunning drawings and dreamings of trees by indigenous artists based on millennia-old Indian mythology.

Literary Landscape

Is the Environment for “Taking From” or “Giving To?” A Young Indigenous Economist Finds Answers On His Own I have always been bothered by the concept of indefinite economic growth and development with no regard for nature.

Quarantine As Ceremony: COVID 19 an Opportunity to Quietly Rebel Against the Dominant Landscape by Servern Cullis Suzuki Representing a profoundly different mental landscape, Indigenous languages reveal entirely distinct ways of being, ones that are not at odds with Life around us.  In her article, “Speaking of Language” (Orion Magazine, 2017), Dr. Robin Kimmerer writes about the grammar of animacy, describing the use of pronouns for life forms in her Potawatami language, which conveys proper respect for life by the language user. She notes, “I think the most profound act of linguistic imperialism was the replacement of a language of animacy with one of objectification of nature, which renders the beloved land as lifeless object, the forest as board feet of timber.” Indigenous languages are a portal to a relationship with Earth.

Nature word by David Lukas (Language Making Nature): LIGHTBECK ‘the haunting call of distant light’ I coined this is word for an emotion I often feel.

Ugulate Love by Amy Irvine In far Western Mongolia, near the Russian border, there is a dusty, dung-spotted hill covered in black-purple boulders. At a distance, the rocks look glowering and contused. Creep closer, though, and things are anything but grim. There’s the lattice of pumpkin-orange lichen.

Early morning candles, coffee, books, flowers.