Dawn Wink: Dewdrops

Landscape, Language, Teaching, Wildness, Beauty, Imagination


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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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What Creates Heroes

Mortar boards fly!

Mortar boards fly outside the Cathedral!

My oldest son, Wyatt, just graduated from high school. One year ago, I was asked to write a letter to him. When I sat to write, I thought of the mosaic of our lives.

Wyatt and The Mommy Lady, 1996

Wyatt and The Mommy Lady, 1996

February 22, 2013

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Dear Wyatt,

I remember the first time I felt you move when I was pregnant with you. I was reading and resting the edge of a book on my tummy. Suddenly, the book popped up. I knew then that there was no way I was imagining you and your movement. When I think of this now, I think of your love of books, reading, and ideas and wonder if you were anxious to read yourself and trying to grab the book!

What a journey, our lives together, Wyatt. I don’t think there was ever a child more loved or cherished than you. You were born into a world of love. 

My journey with you as your mom has been, and continues to be, the most important in my own life. When you were 2 1/2 years old, you started calling me The Mommy Lady. Of all of my names, this one remains the most cherished. 

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

The best journeys are like those of the great novels, those of Tolkien – journeys of both beauty and hardship, of love and despair, of being tested and tough decisions made, of sorrow and joy. And what a courageous and honorable path you’ve walked. This has been your journey, dear Wyatt. Like the heroes of these tales, you’ve experienced all of this and more.

What separates the heroes, from those lost to history, is not the circumstance of their birth and not their wealth. What creates heroes is their courage and willingness to make the difficult decisions for Good. Think of Aragorn, Frodo, Sam, and Gandalf’s paths and all of the times it would’ve been far easier to succumb and give up on their journeys. For Aragorn to continue to hide in shame for what his father had done, Frodo to deny his destiny, Sam to leave Frodo in the Shire or on the mountain in Mordor, and Gandalf to stop trying to slay the dragon as they hurled into the depths of the crevice. And yet, they rose above again and again, living out Gandalf’s wisdom, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

Wyatt, Black Belt test

Wyatt, Black Belt test

This is what you have done, Wyatt. There were times in your journey when it would have been the easier decision to give in darkness, and a few times, you did, as we all do.

What demonstrates the greatness in you is that you looked within, learned from these experiences, and set about doing the hard, hard work of creating a person founded upon the very best of you –integrity, willingness to work hard, honor, kindness, intelligence, compassion, respect, trust, and goodness. What a young man you’ve created!

One of the things I most admire about you, Wyatt, is your courage in looking within yourself and choosing kindness, and respect for all, honor, and love. Often, this is the most difficult journey of all. And—as with all great adventures—the one most worth taking.

Wyatt, hurdles 2014

Wyatt, hurdles 2014

I burst with pride for you and with excitement and anticipation for what lies ahead in your life. Whatever comes, I know you will rise to the occasion to create a life of wisdom, adventure, wonder, I fill with gratitude that I am blessed to take this precious journey with you.

I love you to the moon and back,

The Mommy Lady

Wyatt’s journey of courage and integrity continues. Last week, Mom had just arrived for Wyatt’s graduation from high school. Dad was to arrive the next day. Two hours from Santa Fe, Mom received a phone call that my dad had been thrown from his horse and was en route to the hospital in Rapid City, SD with a crushed lung, five broken ribs, two cracked ribs, and a collarbone broken in five places. A dear friend forwarded this piece about Dad and the horse wreck, Lawmaker, rancher in hospitalized after being bucked off horse.

“If he goes into surgery, I have to drive back,” Mom said, having just completed the 15 hour drive. She left the next morning to return to South Dakota, putting in 30 hours of driving within two days. The poignant aspect of this horse wreck is that less than ten years ago, I was with Dad for another awful horse wreck that left him with a separated pelvis and shattered hand. I wrote about life when your dad’s a cowboy.

Wyatt and The Mommy Lady, 2014

Wyatt and The Mommy Lady, 2014

“Wyatt,” I said, after Mom arrived in South Dakota and we realized the extent of Dad’s injuries, including his all-too-early release from the hospital. “What about heading to the ranch earlier than planned? It’s your decision. I know there are graduation festivities with your friends for the next weeks. This is your time. What do you think?”

“I want to go with Bop Bop and Grammie, Mom,” he said, without hesitation. “I want to be there and help.”

Let me say again, so there is no romanticizing any of this, that Wyatt and I shared several very dark and difficult years—years in which I had no idea what the future for either of us held. Yesterday, Wyatt graduated at 10:00 am in a beautiful ceremony in the Cathedral on the Plaza of Santa Fe. This morning, he was on a plane to South Dakota at 6:00 am. Tonight, Wyatt is with Grammie and Bop Bop on the ranch.

As I wrote to Wyatt in his letter, What creates heroes is their courage and willingness to make the difficult decisions for Good. 

Wyatt, you are my hero.

The Mommy Lady