Dawn Wink: Dewdrops

Writing, Teaching, Language, Landscape, Life


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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A Conversation Among Friends: The Writing Life

Anne Hillerman, Jann Arrington-Wolcott, Dawn Wink, Lesley Poling-Kempes, Lucy Moore

Anne Hillerman, Jann Arrington-Wolcott, Dawn Wink, Lesley Poling-Kempes, Lucy Moore

Rising Moon Gallery and Art Center

Rising Moon Gallery and Art Center

So much of a writer’s life is spent in solitude, a condition we crave. Solitude is our oxygen, our life’s breath, the lifeline upon which our work (and rare sense of sanity) depends. So, what happens when you bring a group of writers who crave solitude together? Yesterday this meant friendship, community, thoughts on writing and life—and large doses of irreverence and laughter. 

Preparing for the our conversation

Preparing for the our conversation

Okay, so we’re not a random group of writers. Anne Hillerman, Jann Arrington-Walcott, Lesley Poling-Kempes, Lucy Moore, and me—along with our literary agent Elizabeth Trupin-Pulli and literary conference organizer extraordinaire Jean Schaumburg, are dear friends with deep roots and frequent gatherings of the self-named Literary Ladies of Santa Fe. We meet throughout the year to celebrate birthdays, friendship, conferences, and any other event which gives us an excuse to get together. Yesterday, we gathered together for “A Conversation Among Friends: The Writing Life” at the Rising Moon Gallery in Abiquiu, New Mexico. Our hosts, Jaye Buros and Peggy Thompson, have created a treasure in the high desert, a space filled with textures, art, blown glass, books, color, music, and lovers of literature. This space is a feast for any writer’s or artist’s senses and spirit. 

Ghost Ranch ©Katie Hawkes

Ghost Ranch ©Katie Hawkes

Abiquiu, New Mexico was home to artist Georgia O’Keeffe, whose spirit lives on in an extraordinary community of writers, artists, readers, and lovers of all creative. As we prepared for the introductions, Lesley reviewed our bios with each of us for our introductions. “Whatever you don’t know, just make it up,” I said.

“Yes, we could say that you spent a year living in Malaysia…” she said, “with a sheik!” This is now forever a line in my official biography. 

We dove into a couple of hours of talking, laughing, and wrestling with the beauty, challenges, and reality of the writing life. Because of our combined experiences and the different chapters in which we find ourselves in our writing lives, our conversation highlighted the the variety of paths—and how those paths weave together to create a reflection of a whole. Here is some of the essence of our conversation.

Lucy Moore, Dawn Wink, Anne Hillerman, Jann Arrington-Wolcott

Lucy Moore, Dawn Wink, Anne Hillerman, Jann Arrington-Wolcott

386167.rockwithwings-hc-cAnne Hillerman: Much to Anne’s surprise, she decided to carry forward her dad’s literary legacy in fiction. “I loved my career as a non-fiction writer and really didn’t think I’d move into fiction. Then, after Dad died and people asked if he had any last novel or work and I told them that he did not, I just saw the sadness in their eyes. I decided to continue the story, but to bring Bernie Manuelito, who had always been a side-kick bringing the guys coffee, into the foreground and give her the attention and voice she deserved. As far as making time to write, no matter what the circumstances, life is full of juicy distractions for writers…kids, jobs, partners, friends, concerts, beaches to explore, mountains to hike, books to read, research to pursue and more. If you want to write you have to make it a priority in your life. Otherwise it just doesn’t get done. I try to walk a lot in the mornings. When I walk, those tangled knots in the plot or things I’m wondering about the story seem to fall into place.”

Ladies of the CanyonsLesley Poling-Kempes: “I would just say DO IT with writing. Find support group, set a schedule that is doable, follow your dream/passion with intention, and understand the process is personal YET everyone, even experienced writers, have moments of doubt. Do it your own way. And find support. I enjoy writing both fiction and non-fiction. The research for fiction is fascinating and I enjoy the structure of a non-fiction book. I love the imaginative journey of writing fiction, when really there are really no limits and you create the story. I crave time alone. Even within my hermitage, I am a hermit. Along with that, belonging to a writing community is truly remarkable, affirming. My writing life involves both. I spend most days alone, writing for hours. I also hold a writing workshop here at the Rising Moon Gallery. Each of these parts of my writing life enriches the other.” 

common-ground-book-200x300Lucy Moore: “It’s all about the story — whether the story is from your life experience, or made up out of your head. If it’s a compelling story, one with drama, personalities, maybe lessons, and touches my heart in some way, I want to write it. I find plenty of these stories in my work as a mediator, where people are at their best and/or worst in conflict. I make time to write when it bubbles up in me, often after mulling and musing for awhile as I go about my life. There comes a point, and the pressure cooker pops its lid, and I am writing! maybe for hours at a time, often late into the night. If it’s not fun, I don’t write. I don’t have a schedule. I don’t sit and wonder what I’m going to write. The only question is can I get it down fast enough before it evaporates!? What I usually write are vignettes from my life or work, stories I have heard from someone else about an incredible happening of some kind, turning point, etc. I chose memoir over fiction because I wanted the story to be mine. I wanted to own it and grapple with it, and I wanted the reader to see me doing that. I also wanted to offer an example of opening up your heart and soul and spilling it on the page, hopefully not too messily, to encourage others to do the same, or to think about themselves and their own life-adventures.I don’t like to revise. I love what comes out, straight from the heart. I value that first burst as something authentic, and sometimes I feel that revising takes the “life” out of it…..or maybe I”m just lazy!”

Deathmark_coverJann Arrington-Wolcott: “I didn’t start writing until after 40-years-old. I was busy writing for magazines and raising five kids! I’m glad I didn’t start writing any younger. I needed to live and with the years and experiences, I had so much more to write about. For my latest book, I discovered how fun research can be. I knew I needed someone wildly inappropriate as a love interest for the main character. I was in San Francisco at the time, reading the paper, and found myself reading these advertisements for escorts. That’s my love interest! I called the company and explained that I was a writer, a wife, a mother, and grandmother, I was doing research for a book and wanted to make an appointment with an escort. ‘I just want to talk and do research for a character,’ I told him. ‘Lady,’ the man on the other end of the phone said, ‘I don’t care what you do, but you’re paying by the hour!’ The characters of my books tell me what they’re doing and what is going to happen next. I have a somewhat obsessive personality, which works well for a writer! If I could offer advice to my younger self, I would say: “Stop being such a people pleaser. Believe in yourself. Guard and follow your enthusiasm.”

untitledDawn Wink: “I decided to be a writer when I had three kids, ages three and under. It seemed like a good idea at the time! My writing fits into the nooks and crannies of a busy family and professional life. Most of my writing happens between 4:00-6:00 am. After that, my day belongs to family and work. I’ve learned to trust my body’s natural biorhythms when it comes to writing. I am an early morning person. I light candles and oil lanterns and write during that time. I used to feel guilty about not writing late into the night when the kids slept, I felt I was losing precious time. I now know that it’s far more productive for me to just go to bed, let my mind and body rest, so that I’m ready to awake early in the morning and return to the work of writing. The initial writing process for me is initially highly intuitive. I cluster ideas, for essays, chapters, books. I trust whatever path the clustering takes me during that stage, no matter how wild it seems at the time. I love clustering, because writing is always somewhat of an adventure at this stage, I’m never quite sure what might unfold. Clustering has resulted in some amazing surprises that I never would have stumbled upon otherwise. Really? That’s what’s going to happen? Who knew? Eventually within the clustering, a linear organization of what’s meant to be written takes shape. I write whatever comes for the first draft. Only after that initial intuitive process, do I start to revise, which then feels like a sculpting of the work, a paring away of the excess to highlight the essence of story.”

Conversation 2

Dawn and LesleyOur literary agent, Liz, wrote this of our time together, which offers other insights into the writing life:

“Because each of you is a strong individual, you all had different things to say and you were generous in sharing personal insights/bugaboos/difficulties – it was truly an open-hearted forum. The writers and artists in the audience responded to your answers as they did because they could tell you were being totally upfront and honest. There was never a false moment or a sense that you were performing. You were intent on sharing your own experiences – from the trials and tribulations of trying to write in the midst of child-rearing, home-tending and feeding of family mouths and souls, going to work at jobs to provide sustenance for your families, all the way to being over all of that and still trying to find the right rhythm of writing and all the rest of what makes up your lives.

I like that each of you had a different approach to that so that the audience got the message: there is no one RIGHT WAY to approach the difficult task of writing; you simply must do it according to what works best for you.”

We all agree whole-heartedly—there is no one RIGHT WAY in the writing life. Life IS full of juicy distractions for writers. Create your own path.

Whatever the path, just write. 

Moon over Abiqiui

Moon over Abiqiui




When Moments Reflect a Lifetime

There are some things one simply must do in life— attendance when your dad/BopBop sworn in as Speaker of the House of the South Dakota Legislature is clearly one of them.  Better yet to tell The Speaker that you cannot possibly attend — and surprise The Speaker with your arrival.

Surprise - 2007

Surprise – 2007

Eight years ago, for Dad’s first term in the Legislature, my brother, Bo, Mom, and I conspired for Bo and me to surprise Dad on the first day of Session, as he was sworn into office. Bo arrived first and told Dad that he needed to shower, went to his hotel room, and promptly slipped out the door to come pick me up at the airport. My plane was 45 minutes late and by the time we arrived back, Dad was ready to break down the door to Bo’s hotel room, convinced he had fallen and knocked his head in the shower. 

This time, we got the kids involved and Bo and family headed the 10-hours west from Wisconsin and our family (minus Wyatt in the midst of an avalanche course and Wynn who needed to be in Santa Fe) headed the 17-hours north from Santa Fe. We arrived in Pierre, South Dakota within minutes of one another at the Capitol building. We threaded our way down the hall in single file, whispering, peeking, and finally arriving to Dad’s office, where we entered en masse. One look, two looks, a triple-take later, Dad believed his eyes. 

Surprise, Mr. Speaker!

Surprise, Mr. Speaker!

Surprise, Mr. Speaker!

Lisa, Garrett, Austin, Bo, Mom, Dad, me, Noé, Luke

Cousins in the Capitol

Cousins in the Capitol

The South Dakota Capitol building is simply gorgeous. We explored the building, looking for the famous cobalt blue tiles amidst the 30,000 square feet of tiled floor. Legend has it that the Italian craftsmen who laid the tile were each given a single tile to place wherever he wished (South Dakota Magazine). Apparently, 66 tiles lie within the terrazzo floor and 55 have been found. The cousins roamed the halls found four, including some hearts.

Cobalt blue tile in capitol floor.

Heart within tile floor.

I loved the miniature replicas of each dress worn by a First Lady of South Dakota for Inauguration and the soaring stained glass ceilings above. The cousins were not nearly as taken with these and ditched me to keep looking for tiles. 

Dresses of first ladies

Stained glass ceilings.

We arrived prepared. “Oddly,” Bo said, “the Winks were the only family to show up to the Session Opening with sideline signs…” 

We love the Speaker signWith Bo, very proud of our dad.

Bo and Dawn

Dad took the Oath of Office and my heart overflowed with pride and love. Life is so very busy and so often we fly through days in a blur of all that must be done. It was a rare moment to sit and allow all that Dad has done in his life to wash through me. When your dad’s a cowboy there is never a dull moment. Of the many life lessons that I’ve taken from my parents, one of the largest has to be their steadfast determination to create goodness in life, no matter the circumstances life may toss their way. This moment in time reflected Dad’s strength-of-character, integrity, resiliency, vision, leadership, hard work, and sheer generosity and goodness of spirit throughout his lifetime. I burst with pride.

Daddy waving Speaker

After Dad took the Oath, he acknowledged each of us beautifully. I was doing okay until he started talking about Mom. He spoke of their 50-year marriage, of what an incredible mother, wife, friend, and all she’d done for our family, all while creating an international career and writing five books, with a sixth on the way. He spoke of the emails she receives from students around the world who tell of the difference she’s made in their lives. “And,” he said, “on top of all of that, she’s a GREAT dancer.” At this point, tears streamed down both of my cheeks. So much for legislative decorum…


We love the Speaker

Noé, Luke, and I slipped out right after his speech and started back to Santa Fe, via the ranch. It had been far too long since I’d been there and I savored those precious hours. As we made a final trip to the car, I looked up to see horses on the ridge above the ranch house and drank in the beauty.

Horses on ridge above ranch house.

We headed up the lane and out past Mom‘s Little Free Library. 

Wink Ranch Little Free Library

I give thanks for every single second of the journey. The photo of Dad and me below was taken on the Cascabel Ranch in 1977. I love this photo for many reasons; the sense of fun, our Wink eyes that close when we laugh, that this was clearly a break in the shade on a hot ranch day of work. What I love most about this photo is that my love for my dad shines through. 

Cascabel Ranch, 1977

With Dad, Cascabel Ranch, 1977

Some things never change.

Daddy and Dawn


Write and Retreat: Silver City, NM

Silver City, NM

Silver City, NM

Write, Workshop, Relax, Repeat...

Gila Wilderness

Gila Wilderness

Are you… Craving creative inspiration? Looking for new insight to fuel your words? Searching for the heart of your work?

Join award-winning author and plant biologist Susan J. Tweit and me an immersion in writing, crafting narrative, and landscape as character in the heart of historic Silver City, New Mexico. Stay at the beautifully restored Murray Hotel, an Art Deco classic right downtown, and close to the Gila Wilderness, Gila Cliff Dwellings, the Catwalk slot canyon hike and more.

February 19 – 22nd, 2016
The Murray Hotel, Silver City, New Mexico

The Details


We’ll write, workshop our pieces, learn from great writing, and explore how landscape and place inspire our stories. You’ll take away new tools & a new understanding of your words and your work!

Note: This is a small-group workshop, limited to 15 participants, with lots of time for interaction and individual work. Participants will have the opportunity for individual consultations.

Gila Cliff Dwellings

Gila Cliff Dwellings


Join us for daily chair yoga and walks. Or get a massage, explore nearby galleries and the Silver City Museum, or curl up and read a book….

Or visit the Gila Cliff Dwellings, hike the Catwalk trail, ramble Silver City for a look at history and art, or soak at Faywood Hot Springs.


Susan J. Tweit & Dawn Wink © Nancy Fine

Susan J. Tweit & Dawn Wink © Nancy Fine

Susan J. Tweit is an award-winning writer and plant biologist with a passion for words, stories and life itself. She is the author of twelve books, including the memoir Walking Nature Home, and hundreds of magazine articles, columns and essays for markets as diverse as Audubon Magazine, Popular Mechanics, the Los Angeles Times, and public radio. She teaches workshops across the country.

Dawn Wink is a writer and educator whose work explores the tensions and beauty of language, culture, and place. Wink’s non- fiction includes “Raven’s Time,” “Wild Waters: Landscapes of Languages,” and Teaching Passionately (with Joan Wink). Her novel Meadowlark was a finalist for the WILLA Award, High Plains Book Award, and NM/ AZ Book Awards. She lives with her family in Santa Fe.

DATE: February 19-22, 2016, a beautiful time in Southern NM! Location: The Murray Hotel, 200 West Broadway St., Silver City


Workshop includes workshops, readings and individual sessions, plus field trip: $600 ($50 discount for previous W&R attendees!)

Murray Hotel

Murray Hotel

Lodging: The Murray Hotel is offering a special workshop rate of $84 per night for their double-queen rooms, including continental breakfast. Make reservations directly with the hotel by calling 575-956-9400. You must mention Write & Retreat for special rate.

Food: Lunches and dinners will be catered by the Murray, except for one night at a local restaurant. The cost is still being worked out, but should run no more than $50 apiece per day.

Companions are welcome to join us for meals and field trips on a space-available basis for a reduced fee.

Click here for workshop brochure

Take a peek at the Murray Hotel

Questions & to Reserve Space: Email tweitdesk@gmail.com



Tony Hillerman Writers Conference 2015

Dawn Wink, Jann Arrington-Wolcott, Anne Hillerman, Jean Schaumberg

I am over the moon to be included again in this year’s Tony Hillerman Writers Conference. Wordharvest  just sent out this update about the conference. I’m so glad to share with you. We hope you will join us at the conference!

Tony Hillerman Writers Conference MCs

We are delighted to introduce the two fabulous women who will share MC duties with Anne Hillerman this year. 

Dawn Wink and Jann Arrington-Wolcott have a long association with the
Tony Hillerman Writers Conference and we are delighted that they will join us in November.

Dawn Wink is a writer and educator whose work explores the beauty and tensions of place, culture, and language. She is Director and Associate Professor of the Department of Education at Santa Fe Community College. Her books include Teaching Passionately; Raven’s Time; Wild Waters; and Meadowlark: A Novel, inspired by the stories that her mother told about her great-grandmother who lived on a ranch in South Dakota. Dawn was MC for last year’s New Book/New Author Breakfast. Her next book, Love Stones, will be published in early 2016.

Jann Arrington-Wolcott is a third-generation New Mexican. Her colorful family tree includes a frontier sheriff grandfather, a Harvey Girl grandmother, a native American great-grandmother, a Methodist minister great-grandfather, and “an assortment of horse-thieves and train-robbers—a great mix of sinners and saints.” Jann is the author of the thriller Brujo, and an award-winning coffee table book, Christmas Celebration: Santa Fe Traditions, Crafts, and Foods. Her long-awaited thriller, Deathmark, made its debut in 2014. Eye of the Raven, the revision of, Brujo, is scheduled for a November 2015 release.

Visit www.wordharvest.com and register for the
2015 Tony Hillerman Writers Conference.

We hope to see you there.

Anne and Jean

Conference Tips

DRESS SUGGESTIONS: Dress casually and be comfortable. Wear your jeans if you want to. We will. You might want to have a light jacket or sweater while sitting in the sessions. Conference room temperatures vary. Bring something business dressy for the Saturday banquet.

WEATHER IN NOVEMBER: Winter weather will be settling in but days are normally sunny and clear. Nights can be cold. Dress in layers when you go out. Santa Fe is at an altitude of 7,000 feet. If you are not used to the high altitude give yourself time to acclimate. Drink plenty of water to keep hydrated and be mindful of alcohol consumption. It will get to you much quicker than at lower altitudes.

We look forward to seeing you at the 2015 Tony Hillerman Writers Conference
November 5 – 7 – Hilton Santa Fe Historic Plaza, 100 Sandoval Street


Families – Living Altars

Together for Friday Night, Family Night

Together for Friday Night, Family Night-Wyatt, me, Wynn, Dad, Mom, Luke, Noe

We create altars through how we live in this world. We are a living, breathing, loving altar, including all of our scars, broken pieces and missing parts. An altar is composed as much by what is not there, as what is.

All create the whole.

Last week, I wrote of my love of altars and invited readers to share photos of your altars and what they mean to you. Since then, life has been a swirl of Spring Break for kids, Noé and me, the arrival of Mom and Dad from South Dakota and Wyatt from university in Colorado.



Throughout all, I thought of history. I thought of each of our humanity. I thought of all of the years this experience felt impossible to me, for the mosaic of life. The Japanese art form of kintsukuroi mends together pottery that has been broken with gold. This art of repairing pottery understands that pieces become more beautiful for having been broken. I cannot think of a person or family that has not been through a time where the pottery of their life was shattered. In our family, we have certainly experienced this in our own lives. This idea of repairing the pot with seams of gold, of seeing the breakages of life as enhancing the beauty of the whole deepens my understandings of life—my own and others. 

Birthday Boy Luke - 17 years old

Birthday Boy Luke – 17 years old

Our own Birthday March Madness has begun, with four birthdays (Luke, Mom, Wyatt, and me) falling within two weeks. This past week, time has unfolded not in the structured rhythms of school, work, and sporting events that normally defines our days, but in a jumbled mass of people, love, comings-and-goings, and load of cooking and baking.

Luke kicked off our Birthday March Madness on the 10th with a request for homemade peach pie. A dear friend responded to the photo of Luke and I with, “You sure make good babies and good pies!” If I were to be remembered for anything, these are two at the top. 

Mom came from the ranch, stopping to see Wyatt on campus in Colorado first.

Wyatt and Grammie

Wyatt and Grammie

Mom arrived and off we went to yet another sporting event, this one for Luke playing basketball. We all donned our St. Michael’s High School spirit t-shirts. Wynn made a special one for Grammie. 

Off to the game! Me, Noé, Grammie, Wynn

Off to the game! Me, Noé, Grammie, Wynn

Dad rolled in a few days later. Our house filled with story, laughter, early mornings of talking over coffee and candlelight, and horsebites on the legs that kept the kids ever- vigilant! The past number of years have overflowed with work for me. I haven’t been able to spend nearly the time on the ranch that I would love. I’ve so missed time with my dad. Treasured each moment. 

Dawn, Bop Bop, Wynn, Luke

Dawn, Bop Bop, Wynn, Luke

Mom/Grammie celebrated her birthday amidst all. The world became an infinitely more beautiful place on the day Mom was born, March 20th. 

Mom and me.

Mom and me.

“Wynn sure does love her mommy,” Mom said to me a number of times throughout the week. For anybody who knows Wynn, a woman of few words and a reserved presence, this meant the world to me. “I learned how to be a mom from the best,” I said to Mom. And, I did. We took the first photo ever (I think) of Wynn, Mom, and me – three generations of Wink Women. 

Three generations of Wink Women.

Three generations of Wink Women.

We were all home together for Friday Night, Family Night for the first time ever. We sat around the table, eating apple pie, talking, laughing, telling stories, and I realized that altars are not just objects on shelves—we create altars through the way we walk through this world.

Families in all of our compositions are living, breathing, loving altars, including all of our scars, broken pieces and missing parts. An altar is composed as much by the open space of what is not there, as much as by what is present. All create the whole. No altar is perfect, just as no family is perfect. The altars on my windowsills and shelves are jumbled, imperfect, and need tending—just like the people within the living altar of my life. It is in all of their beautiful, messy, exquisite, unique essence—and all of our jumbled imperfection—that I treasure each beyond reason. 

Just as the seams of gold highlight where pots have been broken and survived, so we create beauty in the journeys of our life.


Dawn, maker of good babies and good pies

Altar of hands.

Altar of hands on Friday Night, Family Night.

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Early Morning Light and Stillness

Chile lights

Chile lights around kitchen window.

“The Solstice is a time of quietude, of firelight, and dreaming, when seeds germinate in the cold earth. . . All around us the season seems to reach a standstill — a point of repose.”

—John Matthews

Holiday party.

Holiday party.

The holiday season swirls around us. Days fill with shopping, baking, cooking, parties, photos, letters, expectations, missed loved ones, travel, plans, and changing plans.

Our own home fills with the sounds of all the above and the added presence of Wyatt now home from college. It brings a sense of deep peace to have all kids sleeping under the same roof.

With Noé—a time to dance.

With Noé—a time to dance.

Parties unfold with the season, a time to at last connect in ways that the busyness of life has conspired against in the previous months.

A time to dance.

Amidst all of the festivities, the potential for stillness awaits. I crave this stillness. Stillness if oxygen for my spirit. The Winter Solstice dawns with stillness, the shortest day of the year. With each new day, a bit more light.

Early morning writing.

Early morning writing.

Light is a constant early morning companion in my life. I wake early for time to write, time to be, time to sit alone with the candlelight in the pre-dawn dark. Only candles or strings of soft light are on in our home before the sun rises. I love this time of the day.

The pre-dawn dark holds promise, magic, stillness. Ideas, dreams, and paths to follow unfold onto the pages of my journals in the pre-dawn darkness. I sit and write now by candlelight. This is the time to listen to life and beyond. Like the Solstice, this time offers a point of repose.

In honor of the solstice, of the pre-dawn dark, of the companionship that comes among those who rise hours before the sun for creative time, some candles and light to share.

Early light angel.

Early light angel.

Early morning writing in journal.

Early morning writing in journal.

“When you possess light within, you see it externally.” —Anaïs Nin

Early light with glass heart..

Early light with glass heart.

Early light glass.

Early light glass.

“There are two ways of spreading light; to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” —Edith Wharton

Early morning writing with stones.

Early morning writing with stones.

Early morning light on glass.

Early morning light on glass.

Early morning writing with coffee in treasured cup from Mallorca.

Early morning writing with coffee in treasured cup from Mallorca.


Pre-dawn hours with Mom and Dad.

Pre-dawn hours with Mom and Dad.

To the pre-dawn dark and all of the potential she holds and to candlelight. To the creativity that comes in these hours. To the companionship that lovers of the pre-dawn dark feel across the miles.

Early morning writing by lantern light.

Early morning writing by lantern light.

Golden early morning light.

Golden early morning light.

To stillness.

Early morning writing with fairy.

Early morning writing with fairy.

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