Dawn Wink: Dewdrops

Landscape, Language, Teaching, Wildness, Beauty, Imagination


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Language, Culture, and Land: Lenses of Lilies in Langscape Magazine

Waterlily painting by Pilawuk White, an Aboriginal woman artist from Daly River in Australia’s Northern Territory and a friend of Nerida Blair’s. Photo: Nerida Blair

I am delighted to share my essay “Language, Culture, and Land: Lenses of Lilies” was just published in Terralingua‘s Langscape Magazine.

Language, Culture, and Land: Lenses of Lilies

At a pond’s edge, a woman muses about waterlilies as metaphors for mother-tongue languages and their power to anchor story, wisdom, and heritage.

Waterlilies hold a special place in my heart. I did not grow up with them, though. I grew up on a remote ranch amid the sand, rocks, cacti, and dry beauty of the Sonoran Desert in the southwestern United States. I love the intense heat, the plants that thrive on periods of drought interspersed with torrential rains, and the vast open horizons that cup the wide basin of the desert. While I am sure that I knew of waterlilies during my growing up years, they remained something to be read about in books, not anything as real in my life as the towering saguaro cacti, rough bark of the mesquite trees, and treasured green of the rare cottonwoods found near water basins and rivers that only filled and flowed after the monsoon rains. Little did I ever imagine that those read-about and imagined waterlilies would have a profound impact on both my professional and my personal life. More…

A coy fish passes under a waterlily in my neighbor’s pond. Photo: Renee Upston

This piece was inspired by the amazing works of Tove Skutnabb-Kangas and Nerida Blair.

Langscape Magazine was my first choice for publication of this piece for all the reasons detailed here:

Langscape Magazine is an online publication with a beautifully designed print and digital edition issued annually. It is an extension of the voice of Terralingua and supports our mission to educate minds and hearts about the vital importance of biocultural diversity for the survival of life on earth.

As Indigenous Peoples tell us, stories create and shape our world. Langscape Magazine uses the power of story to bolster our efforts to bring about a radical shift in human values that will make sustaining biocultural diversity a primary societal goal.

It features unique, authentic stories from all over the globe that celebrate the bounty of diversity in nature and culture — all told by the people who live and breathe the realities they portray. Novel insights. Stunning pictures, videos, and art.

That’s what Langscape Magazine offers that you can’t find anywhere else: a cornucopia of biocultural diversity. We hope that Langscape Magazine can help create and shape the just, sustainable world we so urgently need. Read, enjoy, and be inspired!”

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Creative Processes—Follow the Spark

My most recent journal

I always love learning about others’ creative processes in all forms. I learn, I study, I weave some of those elements into my own. I find creative processes makes my heart smile and my spirit soar. I share some of my own creative processes here in hopes of contributing to all of us who love these.

My own processes take multiple forms with some common threads. They almost always begin with that energy spark of an idea that can happen anywhere and at anytime. Yes, it can be while I’m writing in my journal, often they happen when I’m running, and they are also equally as bound to happen while in the grocery store looking for my favorite tea.

What I have learned over the years is to trust that energetic hit that comes with the spark. That is the deciding factor whether I heed and pursue the idea or let it go. If I feel the resonance of the idea, I trust. If it feels flat, I let it go. These decisions are based on my intuition and my heart, not my mind or head. This is key for me.

When the spark hits, I scribble it down somewhere or text it to myself on my phone. This is also key. I have also learned that no matter how much I feel that idea is brilliant in the moment, life is FULL and it is likely to be lost in the tides if I don’t write it down.

From there, the idea goes into my journal. Once it is written in my journal, no matter how cryptic it may be, I breathe a sigh of relief. It is now safe. Of course, that is only the beginning.

After that comes many, many pages in my journal playing with these ideas in an intuitive way. Loads of circles, arrows, single words, quotes, and arrows drawn to connect ideas that may seem they flow together. It is all quite messy! And, I love it.

Right now I am working on several different pieces all focusing in some way on language, landscape, wildness, beauty, and imagination. Those pieces are sketched out in my journal in varying stages, along with proposals for several presentations, along with books, essays, and chapters.

One I’ve clustered the ideas, I often add color to highlight emergent themes.

I sketch out main ideas to remember from the work of others to make meaning for myself.

Mother tongues as waterlilies by Tove Skutnabb-Kangas, Lilyology by Nerida Blair

I no longer take my journal to the grocery store with me. One too many times, I wrote my grocery list in my journal and took with me to the store. One time I left my journal, of course decorated with a gorgeous watercolor that I loved and choc-full of more ideas and sketched essay that I want to let myself think about, in the grocery cart. I did not realize until the next morning and when I returned to the store it was nowhere to be found. Never again. Grocery lists now go on pieces of paper ripped from a spiral journal.

I do travel with my journal. Leaving it behind feels like leaving my security blanket behind…or a limb. I have learned on planes never to tuck into the elastic pocket in front of my seat, no matter how tempting. It is on my lap or in my bag.

I often will then start playing with watercolors to add texture to the ideas in my own head. Plus, I love playing with these paints, colors, and textures. The visual adds to my own understandings, as well as for others (hopefully) to see visually. I take loads and loads of photos and play with those images, colors, textures, and what they convey, along with the words.

From there I move to the actual piece of what I’m writing, of what wants to be written. I follow that sparkling thread of energy to wherever it leads.

It is only now that I really begin thinking about shape, form, the craft of written pieces. Dorothea Brande refers to this process as “the advantage of the duplicity of writing,” in Becoming a Writer (1934). First the intuitive, energetic, wild, wonderful listening to ideas, open to all. Next, putting on one’s editor hat, using the skills muscles of the craft.

If there is one thing that I’ve learned along the journey is to trust that energetic, intuitive energy spark of an idea. I don’t have to understand it, just trust it, follow it, and give it oxygen and space to grow.

An elemental space that I create to listen to ideas are the early morning hours of coffee and candlelight, solitude and sanctuary, with my journal. This time is sacred. In these early morning hours, before the fullness of the day begins, I listen, write, muse, dream, play with ideas, and find connections.

Currently, I am at several different stages of the process on several different pieces. I keep track of all in my journal. I look forward to sharing more of the journey with you along the way.

Speaking of journeys, I completed one of my own with a virtual graduation. We gathered on Zoom as a family first and then I shared my screen, so we experienced as together as possible.

Gathered together
Flowers from Noé

What is now one of my all-time favorite photos of my parents—the moment when my name was read during the ceremony.

I mentioned that learning of others’ journeys with creativity makes my heart smile and my spirit shine! I think there are many of us. Would love to hear more about yours!

Love,

Dawn


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TESOL Int’l Convention — Layers of Ideas, Friendship, and Love

The famed Andy Warhol yellow bridges of Pittsburgh

I had not attended a conference in four years and I attended two in the past few months. They were simply glorious! I set conferences aside when I started the doctoral work, as I needed every single weekend to keep one nostril above the water of coursework. Then, came the pandemic. So, to attend conferences after such a long lull was a feast for all senses! I hope to share the spirit of the time, as well as some ideas that I took away from all.

First, TESOL: TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) International Convention, Pittsburgh, PA

TESOL has been a big part of my life for many, many years and in multiple ways. I believe my first TESOL was in Salt Lake City, 2002. Throughout the intervening years, TESOL serves as a foundational stone in my own professional understandings about all-things-multiple-language-acquisition.

Mom and me, TESOL 2018, Chicago

Ever since my first meeting with the Bilingual-Multilingual Education Interest Section that segued from the meeting to salsa dancing in New York City, I knew I met my people. Professional colleagues became dear friends.

Another layer of professional colleagues to dear friends happened when I studied at the School for International Training and became a member of the incredible SIT global educator community.

TESOL always happens at the end of March—it is so wonderful for the organization to plan such a grand shared birthday party for Mom and me with our birthdays on March 20th and March 28th. TESOL also means slumber parties and birthday celebrations with Mom in whatever state the convention takes place that year.

As with learning and language, all begins with relationships. I treasured the reunions with dear friends. Sandra Mercuri, Sandra’s husband, Alfredo, Andrés Ramírez and I talked, laughed, and shared stories in that beautiful way that happens when you’ve been too-long apart. Oh, did we laugh. Especially after the pandemic, it felt so good to laugh with dear friends from the depths of your soul.

Alfredo Mercuri, Sandra Mercuri, Andrés Ramírez, me

On my walk to the Convention Center:

Sandra Mercuri shared her creation and work with CLIFF (Content Language and Literacy Integration Framework):

Me, Sandra Mercuri, Andrés Ramírez

After Sandra’s presentation, Andrés proclaimed, “I’ve been CLIFFed.” Me, too!

A highly engaged conversation is happening around Academic Language. I attended a dynamic panel presentation on these ideas with Luciana C. de Oliveira, Ruslana Westerlund, Andrés Ramírez, and their colleagues. Luciana and Ruslana wore yellow in honor of Ruslana’s native Ukraine.

Luciana C. de Oliveira, Andrés Ramírez, Ruslana Westerlund

Memories of other TESOL Conferences lifted as I sat in sessions, including this time with my dear friend and mentor, Tove Skutnabb-Kangas, when she gave me the author’s socks that she knitted for me. Yes, I still wear. Amazing what they do for one’s writing!

Tove Skutnabb-Kangas, TESOL Salt Lake City, 2002

More time to connect with colleagues and friends from around the world, including Jorge Torres Almazán of MEXTESOL, of the incredible team from World Learning:

Jorge Torres Almazán, MEXTESOL
Evening light over downtown Pittsburgh
The World Learning Team, including Erik Tancorov, Danielle Mistretta, Kara McBride, Aziza ElKolei, Germán Gómez

When not absorbing the ideas of the presentations or connecting with friends old and new, I was taking-in the beauty of the daffodils, which bloomed throughout the city.

Daffodils of downtown Pittsburgh

Next, AERA


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Connection and Creativity on Place Well Tended

Oh, to take the time to sit with other artists and talk about how the land and life shapes our creativity. I had the complete pleasure to talk with Jodi Shaw and Molly Noem Fulton on their podcast Place Well Tended.

“You’re joining Molly + Jodi as we talk with folks about creativity in plains country: what it is, and why it matters that we’re here doing it. Place Well Tended is about love of a place, and tending that place through creative work.”

I was amazed—and momentarily speechless—when Molly read a piece that I had written that goes to the heart of my writing, creativity, life experience, and how they weave together. “I wrote that and put it out into the world?” I asked. I love how Molly and Jodi so beautifully describe our conversation.

Our conversation: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1923909/10391618

Jodi and Molly explore life through the lenses of artists. Jodi finds beauty and meaning in the landscape of the western South Dakota ranch where she raises her family and creates art gathered from the land and life.

Molly’s work of patterned lines and bright colors explores “the people and places that shape us, forming our identity and values.”

This sunset yesterday evening felt the perfect note for our conversation on creativity, place, and beauty.


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Stories of Language, Landscape, Wildness, Beauty, and Imagination

I sit in the early morning time of sanctuary and solitude, candlelight and coffee, darkness and dreams. My journal fills with an ever-growing list of Dewdrops pieces that to write—all swirling around language, landscape, wildness, beauty, and imagination; the most recent trip to the ranch; Lilyology; Scholarly Personal Narrative; translanguaging; beauty; books; family; and so very many other musings and bits of beauty.

2022 is off to a grand start with loads of good energy around ideas. I share some of those ideas here, along with some beauty from my runs and other found beauty along the way.

The past few months have been a time of many presentations, writing, and sharing of ideas. My passion for all things language, landscape, wildness, beauty, and imagination continues to grow. I spoke recently about these ideas and stories:

At last I held a bound copy of my dissertation in my hands.

Another year of the Wink Family March Madness (Luke-10th, Mom-20th, Wyatt-25th, Me-28th, and Wyatt’s girlfriend, Natasha-6th) has come and gone. We ran the Birthday Gauntlet and survived! So very many treasured memories and gifts. I had to share this piece from Daddy, who when he saw it months ago knew that I would love. He was right!


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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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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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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.

*    *   *

Luke created for quarantine Mother’s Day, 2020.

 

 


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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.