Dawn Wink: Dewdrops

Writing, Teaching, Language, Landscape, Life


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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

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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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Dewdrops Birthday

First summer bouquet

First summer bouquet

Happy Birthday to Us!

We celebrate our 2nd birthday in August. Two years ago I wrote, “So here is my hope – that this blog will be doses of writing, dewdrops, that might knit us together in this wild, heartbreaking, and exquisite experience of life. Inevitably along the way, there will be thoughts and questions about language, culture, writing, teaching, the land, kids, and anything else that composes the chapters of life. I look forward to our journey together.” 

So much has happened since that time—and along the way, we’ve laughed, cried, questioned, and been Still. Here is the last year of writing. As I composed this piece, looking back over the past year, an image of dewdrops beaded together on a leaf came to mind—each unique and beautiful, and yet in their cluster create a whole. Just like our community.

First touch

First touch

So deeply grateful to share the journey,

Dawn

One Year of Dewdrops

A Blessed Busy

It’s About Illuminating Life on Earth

Beauty, Skulls, and Culture

Today’s the Day! MEADOWLARK Book Launch

Cove, Dominican Republic

Cove, Dominican Republic

Birthing Rain: Meadowlark’s Book Launch

Deadwood to the Dominican Republic

The Blizzard that Never Was—and its Aftermath on Cattle and Ranchers

It Takes a Ranch—South Dakota Ranchers Affected by the Blizzard 

Storm Atlas

Storm Atlas

Kindnesses and Bones

Rhythms and Day of the Dead

Touchstones

Gratitude Amidst the Messy Parts

Threaded Beads

Writing the Land Class 

Cut tissue paper - Papel picado

Cut tissue paper – Papel picado

O’Keeffe—Spirit of the Winter Solstice

Christmas in Santa Fe—Photos and Recipes

Books to Curl Up and Savor

Magic and Dreams in 2014

Friday Night, Family Night—Love of Place, Belonging… 

Horses on prairie.

Horses on prairie.

Snow-laden Nest Waiting for Spring

When I am an Old Horsewoman

Women of Atlas: Song through the Storm 

Tucson Festival of Books and “the Benson kids”—Roots and Love

Starfish, San Juans.

Starfish, San Juans.

Language and Story: TESOL, Puebla, and the Story Catcher Writing Workshop

What Creates Heroes

Rainbow Between Storms

Story Catchers: The Story Catcher Writing Workshop

The Problem and the Fix on the Ranch: Broken Powerlines

The World Cup—A Surprising Love Story

Gift from the Sea—The San Juan Islands

Dawn

Dawn

I have birthday presents! In honor of our birthday, I have three copies of Meadowlark to gift. If you would like a copy, just mention this in the comments below. I’ll sign, bundle, and send to the first three people.

Gratitude.

 


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Tucson Festival of Books and “the Benson kids” — Roots and Love

Power of Kindness

Power of Kindness

Tucson Festival of Books, ©Benjie Sanders, Arizona Daily Star

Tucson Festival of Books, ©Benjie Sanders, Arizona Daily Star

A reader’s dream—that’s the best way to describe the Tucson Festival of Books.

The Festival of Books (FOB) is particularly this reader’s dream, since it takes place on the University of Arizona campus, in the heart of southern Arizona. Imagine warmth, palm trees lining the grassy mall, and 120,000 bibliophiles wandering booth after booth of books, listening to authors’ talks, and enjoying gelatto in the sunshine. The air of the FOB pulses with a love of reading, of books, of writing, of literacy. People of all ages (an entire area is devoted to children’s literature and fun things for kids to do—including watch a circus) wander the mall.

Tucson Festival of Books

Tucson Festival of Books

Last weekend, we headed for Tucson and the FOB. This year, MEADOWLARK joined the books featured and off we went. I was deeply grateful for the opportunity to spend an evening talking about writing, reading, and the journey of Meadowlark with the Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona, whose mission reads, “Working for a world where women and girls are able to achieve their full potential and pursue their dreams.” The beauty and magic of book clubs and friendship wound together, as I spoke with an amazing book club in Tucson, and also saw a member of my own dear book club from my years in California at the Festival. 

An unexpected blessing happened during the Festival, nearly 38 years in the making. During my growing-up years on the Cascabel ranch, I attended school in the town of Benson, an hour by dirt road from the ranch and only 45 minutes by highway from Tucson. For those who know me, Benson, Cascabel, Tucson, the Sonoran Desert have a very, very special place in my heart. I attended school in Benson from third through tenth grades. In eleventh grade, I lived in Chihuahua City, Mexico as an exchange student, and my senior year of high school, I moved with my  family to California. While, technically I left after the tenth grade, this in no way kept me from feeling as much a part of my class as always, something I implored the Vice President of our class, who kept us all together via email and contact, to remember, which she has done magnificently.

I’ve stayed in touch with Benson friends, though years, miles, and the busyness of life for all has often kept years between any kind of contact. Knowing I’d be in Tucson, I connected with two wonderful friends from the Benson years, one of whom I hadn’t seen in 25 years, and the other I’d just seen for the first time in 25 years in December. The three of us were to meet at the Festival. I couldn’t wait.

Benson Reunion—Annette Brunenkant, Michelle Owens, me, Kandie Ward, April Murphy, Patrick Padilla

Benson Reunion—Annette Brunenkant, Michelle Owens, me, Kandie Ward, April Murphy, Patrick Padilla

As I stood under the shade of the author’s pavillion, I lifted my eyes and suddenly another face from 25 years ago walked through the crowd. I leapt up and we hugged and hugged. Then, another face. And another. Soon, a veritable Benson Union High School reunion was gathered at the pavillion. I found myself speechless. I had no idea and just kept staring and hugging and staring and hugging some more. A few tears later, we moved to gather around a table under the shade of the eating area—and settled in.

I sat at the table and drank in the roots and love at the table. There is something unique about friends from childhood and those high school years. As I gazed around the table, I thought of the 15-year-olds we’d once been and all that had happened since that time that none of us could have imagined—marriages, births, deaths, divorces, new marriages, parenthood alone and in partnership, grandchildren. Some of us became parents quite young and others have weathered infertility. We no longer have the 15-year-old bodies of our high school years. Years of living show on our faces now and I love that. Some of our bodies had betrayed us, cancer survivors sat among our small group. I took in each face and thought of what I knew of their stories.

Mom and "the Benson kids"- Lisa Dryden, Tommy Santoyo, April Murphy, Annette Brunenkant, Michelle Owens, Sandra Leverty

Mom and “the Benson kids”- Lisa Dryden, Tommy Santoyo, April Murphy, Annette Brunenkant, Michelle Owens, Sandra Leverty

My mom, Joan Wink, was the high school Spanish teacher during these years. Mom’s roots with my classmates run as deep as my own, and deeper with her students that came before and after me. She’s written frequently in her books about “the Benson kids” and all they taught her about teaching and life. Mom accompanied this photo with the caption, “How I love my Benson kids!” Appropriately, Mom was wearing her t-shirt that states, “Those who can, TEACH. Those who can’t, pass laws about teaching.” Hear, hear!

There is a connection with these deep roots and time shared together during our growing-up years that goes beyond the rhythms of daily life, that threads deep and binds beyond differences that might fray a more recent friendship. In our group, we did not talk politics or the economy or religion or the latest headlines. All of those conversations seemed to lift aside, winnowed by years of our roots and our memories of who each of us had been and had become, leaving only the depth of our shared history. We shared recent losses, old scars, and gratitude for healing and hope. We laughed, we told stories, shared memories, held babies, held hands, hugged, and told one another how very proud we are of each other. Somehow, our shared roots brought out the best in each other.

San Pedro River Valley, AZ

San Pedro River Valley, AZ

The drive home to Santa Fe, took us past my beloved San Pedro River Valley, home to Cascabel and my childhood. We didn’t have time to drive to Cascabel this trip, so I stopped to take a photo instead. Next time! The drive also took us through Texas Canyon, a sight I marvel at as much now as I did as a child. Those rock formations never cease to set my imagination aflame with possibilities. 

Mango chile ice-cream shake

Mango chile ice-cream shake

We stopped in Hatch, NM (where the world-famous chile is grown) for the traditional green chile cheeseburger and a newly-discovered tradition, a mango and chile shake. Mango and chile, a flavor combination I came to crave and adore while living in Mexico. Divine. I hung my purse on the back of my chair—and discovered two hours later when we stopped for gas, that I’d left it there… Luke and Wyatt were especially thrilled with this latest development. Back to Hatch we drove and on hour number eight of our drive home, when we should’ve been pulling up to our front door, and instead had three hours of driving before us, there was a brief energy-filled exchange between Luke and me, after which Wyatt announced to the car, “And the matriarch asserts her dominance.”

Cracked. Me. Up.

In honor of National Reaching Month, KASA TV of Albuquerque featured New Mexico authors and books, including MEADOWLARK. Our conversation revolved around family stories and writing the land:

Our time in Tucson brought home for me the transcendent power of deeply rooted friendships and shared experiences. I was reminded how deep roots hold the potential to create openings for connection and caring no matter how many years have passed. In this wild journey of life, true connection and caring are gifts to be treasured.

Roots and love.

Tucson bougainvillea in full bloom.

Tucson bougainvillea in full bloom.


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Threaded Beads

Meadowlark in stained glass. Artist, Marie Hooper

Meadowlark in stained glass. Artist, Marie Hooper

Christmas tree

Christmas tree

It’s early morning, Noé and Wynn are off to her 5:45 am dance practice, the boys still sleep, and I sit by the Christmas tree with my candles and write to you. I made my first batch of Christmas Tea of the season and the scents of orange, cinnamon, and clove mix with the candlelight of the morning.

I’ve been hoping to write for the past month, and the swirl of the end-of-semester intensity, combined with my computer crashing and burning, laughed in the face of my hopeful intentions of connecting with you.

So often, I’ve thought of you and hoped to write. Then, yet another meeting, pile of student work to read and respond, class to be taught, or any of the other myriad of aspects that are a natural part of the rhythm of any semester rose to the surface of what needed immediate tending and I scribbled in my journal yet another idea to write about to you. Then there was the whole no-computer-thing and the scribbles of notes for Dewdrops multiplied on the pages.

Until this morning.

Holding Trinity at our Christmas party at the college. Heaven.

How I spent  the Christmas party at the college. Heaven.

It is my hope that the next few weeks, those notes jotted in my journal find their way to you. Normally, I write Dewdrops pieces every few weeks, out of respect for the busyness of all of our lives. That rhythm will change for the next couple of weeks, with a series of brief pieces that I think of as ‘threaded beads.’ Small written pieces – threaded beads – about the power of perseverance and magic, wonderful books to read, images of Santa Fe at Christmastime (which really is as magical as it appears), and other thoughts and ideas waiting patiently now between the pages of my journal. 

First – the stained glass piece above for the sheer beauty of it! On one of those very long days this month, when I looked at my To-Do List and whispered, “Impossible,” under my breath, an unexpected package arrived from Marie Hooper, my former Teaching Assistant from my undergrad years at UC/Davis. In a great gift of this year, we reconnected after more than two decades in which life took us on separate paths. In addition to serving as Chair of the History Department of her university, she’s a stained glass artist. This piece, the cover of MEADOWLARK in stained glass, now hangs in our living room window, so I can see always. The light, the color, the time and attention, the love, the history all shine through the panes and design. My heart overflowed and speechless, I scribbled some barely coherent thank you. A friend responded to this photo of the piece by writing, “When we are inspired we truly inspire others; it is a gift to the world.” How true and oh-so-wise. Now, not only does this piece symbolize deep friendship, love, and beauty – but it also reminds me of the essence of each of us bringing the beauty we can to the world. Beauty begets beauty.

Threaded beads over the next few weeks. I look forward to our shared journey. I’ve missed you!

Love,

Dawn

Colors of winter in Santa Fe.

Colors of winter in Santa Fe.


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Deadwood to the Dominican Republic

Harvest moon hung over the prairie.

Harvest moon hung over the prairie.

Prairie to sea. Mountains to strings of palm trees. The West to the Caribbean.

You know those rare, rare moments in life when things actually unfold in ways that you hope, work hard for, and plan? Those moments when in the midst of all of this working and planning, you allow yourself a few glimmers to hope for, but the thought of allowing yourself to truly believe feels like you’re setting yourself up for failure, so you just get back to work.

Meadowlark shirt!

Meadowlark shirt!

This past week one of those rarest of rare confluences of life actually came together in ways the years of working, planning, hoping, dreaming, and working actually unfolded in ways I’d allowed myself to think about only in rare, private moments—before getting back to work.

First, I have to share this shirt with you. My dear friend and author, Pamela Keyes, sent this to me. I may never take it off. Decades from now, friends and family may be begging me to wear something other than this shirt. And, I’ll just nod, rub my hand along the fabric of my worn, tattered, an faded garment, and smile. 

As I write this flying at 30,000 over the Atlantic on my way back to the US, what lifts again and again to my mind is sheer wonder.

This week started at the Prairie Edge in Rapid City, South Dakota.

Prairie Edge, SD

Prairie Edge, SD

From the first time I stepped foot in Prairie Edge, nearly 20 years ago, this place has been a portal that took me into other worlds—worlds of art, beauty, textures—past and present. This is a space of presence. We visit Prairie Edge nearly every time we’re off the ranch and in town. As my daughter, Wynn, said to me this year, “Mom, we always come here and you always take pictures of the same things!” I realized that is true. Somehow everything feels newly beautiful each and every time. Their bead library inspired the descriptions of Daisy Standing Horse’s beading by candlelight in the novel. 

I have spent hours in their bookstore, searching the shelves for books about the turn of the century, the time period of Meadowlark, or any book about the prairie or West that caught my fancy.

Reading at Prairie Edge

Reading at Prairie Edge

Every once in a great while I’d allow myself to think for a moment about the worn manuscript of Meadowlark as a published novel,  and holding an event for in this place that was full of meaning. I’d allow myself an Imagine if

That Imagine if happened with a reading at Prairie Edge last week.  Along with dear friends and family, Grace’s descendants, we read. Mom brought Grace’s wedding dress and riding jacket in from the ranch.

Signing books, Noé, Prairie Edge, SD. Photo © Jodene Shaw

Signing books with Noé, Prairie Edge, SD. Photo © Jodene Shaw

Skull at Prairie Edge

Skull at Prairie Edge

Photo Jodene Shaw

Lunch after with Susanne Bendigo, Mary Kay Sandal, Mom, Wyatt, Noé, me, Missy Urbaniak, Denise Weyer, and Jodi Shaw Photo © Jodene Shaw

With author Kent Meyers

With author Kent Meyers

On to the South Dakota Festival of Books with Mom, Noé, and Wyatt. In attendance at the conference was one of my writing heroes who with such generosity of spirit wrote a blurb for Meadowlark. I was able to meet and thank Kent Meyers, author of one of my all-time favorite books The Work of Wolves (South Dakota One Book 2005), in person. What a gift! Meyers wrote about Meadowlark, “Dawn Wink writes in the tradition of O.E. Rolvaag, Willa Cather, Mari Sandoz, and Mary Clearman Blew, with a clear-eyed understanding of the connections between isolation and oppression, especially for women, on the Great Plains. Wink is not afraid to look at difficult and uncomfortable issues such as domestic violence, Indian boarding schools, or the law’s corruption. She also surprises us by writing about intimate and hidden issues like early 20th-century contraception. She has a fine sense for characters and a deep understanding of land. The scene where Grace Robertson, her protagonist, makes a punching bag out of a feed sack in order to work out her anger, and then returns to work and love, is worth the price of the novel by itself. This is a gritty novel but also a hopeful one, exploring the ugliness of power and the ways despair can drive good people to do awful things but also exploring compassion’s ability to bind, rejuvenate, and redeem.”

El Dominicano-Americano

El Dominicano-Americano

Then, from Deadwood to the Dominican Republic for the Annual Conference for Teachers of English 2013. 600 teachers from across the country gathered in Santo Domingo for a day of community, ideas, and inspiration. My first impression as I walked out of the airport and into the country was overwhelmingly about the air. The air, the air is so soft and warm. I felt as if I could palm this air in my hand and run the softness over my skin.

My hosts, Grisel Del Rosario and Rosa Rodríguez, treated me to a tour through the Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo, including the first cathedral of the United States, and such an array of beautiful windows and doors that me throwing my arm out to the side of our tour train to take photos at every opportunity. Join us: 

A path to wander in Santo Domingo...

A path to wander in Santo Domingo…

“You’ll here us say ‘First’ all the time.” And I learned this is with good reason. Columbus landed first in Santo Domingo. “We are the belly button of Europeans coming to the Americas,” the school director, Don Rafael.

The oldest cathedral in the Americas.

The oldest cathedral in the Americas.

Park in front of the cathedral.

Park in front of the cathedral.

This is a country drenched in history, the past pulses barely under the surface of the people, the buildings, the cadence of the language. It is a land of deep contrasts, the beauty of the land and people, the wrenching history of slavery, the era of the dictatorship, extreme wealth alongside desperate poverty. The people reflect every epoch of the past and present. -Aquí nos mezclamos todo – Los Españoles, los Africanos, y hasta los indígenas. “Here we mix all – the Spaniards, the Africanos, and even the Taino, the indigenous people who the Spaniards wiped out. They say they’re all gone, but my father had their straight hair, dark skin, full lips, and green, green eyes.”

Streets of Santo Domingo

Streets of Santo Domingo

Streets of Santo Domingo

Streets of Santo Domingo

We ate dinner in a candlelit subterranean cave. Beyond lovely.

Dinner in a subterranean cave.

Dinner in a subterranean cave.

And the teachers , the teachers with a generosity of spirit, warmth, and smiles that elevated the day into something extraordinary.  I spoke on “Teaching Passionately” and “Freedom Within Structure: Composing an Engaged class (PowerPoints included below). I am forever enriched by these experiences.

Teachers at the conference.

Teachers at the conference.

Teaching Passionately plenary

Teaching Passionately keynote

With speakers and distinguished members of El Domínco-Americano

With speakers and distinguished members of El Domínico-Americano. New friends all.

I fell in love with the artwork of Jorge Severino, whose pieces hang in the hotel and I’d noticed when I arrived—bold, evocative pieces of the women of the Dominican Republic.

Jorge Severino

Jorge Severino

Imagine my delight when El Domínico-Americano gifted me a piece of his – a Dominican woman with the wings of a butterfly. How beautifully poignant and meaningful from the land of las mariposas Mirabal. 

Jorge Severino

Jorge Severino

On the ride to the airport, I hadn’t yet touched the sea. I said to the driver, Nicolás, Por favor, no me dejes ir de éste país sin tocar el agua de la mar Caribe. (“Please don’t let me leave this place without touching the waters of the Caribbean.”) Yo sé exactamente en dónde. La playa por mi barrio. (“I know just the place,” he said, “near my neighborhood.”) We stopped near a cove on the beach, so I could touch the Caribbean Sea. Look at this cove… Places like this actually exist in this world. Dressed in jeans and long sleeves for what are always cold plane rides, I waded in jeans and all. Yes, the water really is as warm and delicious as it looks in this photo. Around us, fishermen brought in their catch for the day, boys jumped off rocks into the water, and a couple floated, swam, and flirted. I stood and stared around me, hardly able to believe I was there. This was out of a dream.

The cove.

The cove.

The connecting threads of life that had brought me here began with the School for International Training (SIT) TESOL Certification course. The idea had been to create opportunities to supplement my income, in ways that fit with the college and in ways I loved, to support my family. The road to certification turned out to be intensely bumpy, with unexpected events that had me wondering if this was a path I wanted to take. I came close to stepping away from this path a number of times over the three years of the certification, not at all sure that the investment of time, emotions, and expense was going to lead in a positive direction. Thanks to the angel-like appearances of Mary Scholl, Beth Neher, and Noemí Villarreal along the way, I held on to complete what I’d started. 

Couple swims in the sea.

Couple swims in the sea.

Fishermen's boats.

Fishermen’s boats.

Jeans and all, I wade in. I am not missing this.

Jeans and all, I wade in. I am not missing this.

There were so many times, years, during the writing of Meadowlark and going for my SIT TESOL certification that the most logical thing in the world was to give up, the universe seemed to be sending clear messages that these were not meant to be. Life does this, in its ebbs and flows.

I watched the ebb and flow of the tide swirl around my feet, the sand flowing in its tow, and the bubbles brought back up again. Somewhere beneath it all sparkle shards of hope that maybe, just maybe, if we hangs in there and keep working, maybe, just maybe things might turn out as we dream. And at sometimes, for brief, treasured moments in life, maybe, just maybe….definitely, most definitely, they do.

The cove.

The cove.

PowerPoints from presentations:

Teaching Passionately

Freedom In Structure, An Engaged Clasroom

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Today’s the Day! MEADOWLARK Book Launch

Flowers and notes for reading

Flowers and notes for reading

Today is the day! Meadowlark’s book launch at Collected Works at 4:00 today. 

A soaking desert rain.

A soaking desert rain.

We woke this morning to a soaking rain. A soaking rain accompanies a birth in Meadowlark. It seems only right that a soaking rain accompany the novel’s birth. 

Mom and Dad arrived safely yesterday after driving 15 hours through the unbelievable rains in The West. Mom said there were hours when the windshield wipers couldn’t keep up with the rain and they crawled along the highway, following the white lines  of the road.

They arrived and we went to Wynn’s volleyball game, Grammie and Bop Bop dressed appropriately in the St. Michael’s school colors of royal blue and white! Luke was at soccer practice, and Wynn had her own cheering section with Grammie, Bop Bop, Noé, Wyatt, and me.

Friday Night, Family Night - Wynn's cheering section!

Friday Night, Family Night – Wynn’s cheering section!

Wyatt, Grammie, and Bop Bop

Wyatt, Grammie, and Bop Bop

I thought of all of us in the living room last night after the variety of sporting events – Wyatt in karate, Wynn in volleyball, and Luke in soccer.

Wynn playing volleyball.

Wynn playing volleyball.

Wyatt karate.

Wyatt karate.

We curled up in chairs and on couches last night, kids all still in their uniforms, adults had slipped into comfortable cloths, the rain fell softly outside. I sat and thought of the journey of Meadowlark and felt such gratitude. 

In the midst of all yesterday, I did buy my first new pair of boots in years for today’s reading. I love them. 

New boots.

New boots.

I think back on the journey of Meadowlark and can hardly believe this day is here. We’ll take lots of photos and video and I’ll share all here. 

The rain continues to fall—bringing Meadowlark into the world. 

Thank you and thank you for sharing this journey.

With love,

Dawn