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Posts Tagged ‘change’

Mr. Stripeypants wraps his feline body, a curled half moon in front of the space heater. Liz is still sleeping. Out on the deck, the bear chimes I purchased in Ely last July ripple with the wind. The sky is dark. It’s 50 degrees. Later in the day, the wind will pick up, the air will drop into the twenties. November darkness refuels my passion for the Arts. It’s a chance to reflect, to take stock of my life. Not the long term dreams and goals I harnessed as a twenty-year-old. But the smiling clerk in the grocery line at Byerly’s, lunch alone at Como Park, the smile in my lover’s eyes — minutes that end up creating years. I am grateful for each moment.

I used to dread change. I thought it meant the loss of loved ones, the fleeing of love, abandonment. Now I welcome what is fresh and new, the unplanned. Change means I don’t have to cling to what I have lost. Change means I don’t have to stay stuck where I am — emotionally, spiritually, physically. Change means I am willing to face the future. Change means I don’t have to like something or someone to accept them, or forgive. Change means the body breaks down, the mind remains stubborn, the heart swells with appreciation. Change. I am grateful for change.

Thank you to family, friends, readers, teachers, patrons of the Arts. Because of you, my life feels rich and full. Happy Thanksgiving.



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Gratitude Writing Practice 2012


A is for altitude, the steady climb before the peregrine’s dive. B, let me not be brittle, but open to the opportunities life has to offer. C is for centered, concrete, creative, cushion. D, that last cool drink of water from a mountain stream. E, grateful for all the Elizabeths in my life. F will always be for family and friendships, for those who have stuck with me, even when I hit my bottom. G, gratitude, gratitude, gratitude. So much to be thankful for. H reminds me not to hurry. Slow down. Watch for the edges. Hypocrisy, emerald hedges, the hollow bone. I, irresistible words. Letters, dots, dashes, the incurable love affair with language. J is for justice, judges, journey work. The realization that I can’t control what is just and fair. Acceptance of the slow turn of arbitration. Solomon. Did he have it right? K is for the keys to the passage, low island reef at high tide. Keystone, quoin, foundation, groundwork. L for the lionhearted, those with courage, grace under pressure, the fearless who inspire me. M, morgue, decay, melodrama, the things we leave behind. Laurie Anderson reminded me, it is in times of death that we experience the most intense feelings of love. Anyway, N is for nesting, nudging noxious thoughts away, purging what is not useful to living a full-hearted life. O, owing a debt of gratitude to those who serve humanity. Out-of-the-way places where I can be my true self, unmasked, unafraid of a face-to-face with my own shortcomings. P is for play, paper, Mr. StripeyPants, Kiev, parables forming nuggets of truth. Q, there are Questions, there can never be too many questions. Quandaries, crossroads, quagmires, quests. A call to action. R, rest, solitude, unconnected, unavailable, alone. Remember, reverberate, don’t be too rigid. S, steady, slow, steadfast. Grant me the serenity. Sugar, shug. T, the topple of empires built on shifting sands. Trounced by the tough and true-hearted. U is for unburden, unbroken, unbound. Underdog, under the weather, underestimated. V, vivacious, high-spirited, don’t play your cards so close to the vest. W, the winsome and wise do not dismiss what is wistful and wintry. A windfall comes your way. X is for seeing through the xenophobic, just in the nick of time. Y, yearning for solitude, receiving a yen, unwilling to be the yes woman, corralling the yowling, howling courage of my youth. Z, life is a zigzag of faithful moments laced with bad decisions, and wretched zaniness. A short walk through zoological gardens of wonder, a long conversation. Listen. Listen.


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-related to posts: Gratitude Mandala — Giving Thanks, This Thanksgiving Weekend, Make A Gratitude Journal, A Simple Gratitude List, gratitude haiku (orange), The ABC’s Of A Prosperous 2008 – Gratitude, Feelin’ Down For The Holidays? Make A Gratitude List

-posted on red Ravine, Thanksgiving Day, November 22nd, 2012

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DRAGONFLY BACKDROP AUTO

Dragonfly Wings, BlackBerry Shots, Golden Valley, Minnesota, July 2010, photo © 2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


I’ve seen a dragonfly every day since I took this BlackBerry photograph on July 2nd. It landed atop a daylily in the garden on a sweltering afternoon. Earlier that day, I saw two dragonflies mating on the wing, the first time I had spotted the insect all year. Dragonflies, butterflies and fireflies — highlights of Summer. We don’t see the volume of fireflies here in Minnesota that I used to see growing up in the Deep South and in Pennsylvania. So I look to the Dragons for inspiration. If I see enough of them, I start to pay attention.

According to the Minnesota DNR site, dragonflies are prehistoric insects that date back to the dinosaur:


Dragonflies and their close relatives called damselflies are ancient insects and prehistoric reminders of the age of the dinosaurs. Enormous dragonflies with a wingspread up to 30 inches across were part of the Paleozoic landscape about 300 million years ago. The largest insect ever known was a dragonfly called Meganeura monyi. It had a wingspread of 30 inches and a body 18 inches long. It lived until about 250 million years ago and then became extinct.


The last time I wrote about Dragonfly was in May of 2007. The second Canon Powershot photograph on Shadow Of A Dragonfly is one of my favorites, with the recent BlackBerry Dragonfly photo closing in for the tie. There is just something about Dragonflies. I pulled out the Medicine Cards tonight and this is what I read:


Dragonfly medicine is of the dreamtime and the illusionary facade we accept as physical reality. The iridescence of Dragonfly’s wings reminds us of colors not found in our everyday experience. Dragonfly’s shifting of color, energy, form, and movement explodes into the mind of the observer, bringing vague memories of a time or place where magic reigned. Some legends say that Dragonfly was once Dragon, and that Dragon had scales like Dragonfly’s wings.

Dragonfly is the essence of the winds of change, the messages of wisdom and enlightenment, and the communications from the elemental world. This elemental world is made up of the spirits of plants, and the elements Air, Earth, Fire, and Water. On one level, you may need to give thanks to the food you eat for sustaining your body. On a psychological level, it may be time to break down the illusions you have held that restrict your actions or ideas.

Dragonfly medicine always beckons you to seek out the parts of your habits which you need to change. Have you tended to the changes you have wanted to make in your life? If you feel the need for change, call on Dragonfly to guide you through the mists of illusion to the pathway of transformation. See how you can apply the art of illusion to your present question or situation, and remember that things are never completely as they seem.

–excerpt from the Medicine Cards by Jamie Sams & David Carson, published 1988, Bear & Company, Sante Fe, New Mexico


There are over 5000 species of dragonflies and damselflies. Not only do they eat mosquitoes and fly between 19 to 38 m.p.h., they are magic. When we were at a Fourth of July gathering and ritual healing for the Gulf of Mexico, a friend found a Dragonfly wing in her garden. When she heard about my encounters with Dragonfly, she handed the veined, translucent wing to me. I tucked it inside the cover of my writing notebook. The things I carry. Dragonfly secrets. Written in the wind.


-posted on red Ravine, Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

-related to posts: What Is Your Totem Animal? and WRITING TOPIC – INSECTS & SPIDERS & BUGS, OH MY! (You haven’t lived until you’ve seen ybonesy’s photograph of a Jerusalem Cricket in the Rio Grande Valley. Check out Child of the Earth and Me at the Insects & Spiders & Bugs Writing Topic link!)

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pig on a scooter

pig on a scooter, pen and marker on graph paper, doodle and
photos © 2009-2010 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.





This is my seventh visit to Vietnam. Seven trips, back and forth across the great expanse. If I added up all the hours spent on just one leg of the trip—San Francisco to Hong Kong and back—it would be 182 hours in the sky. Over one week on just these seven trips.

That’s a lot of time to spend in a vehicle that I liken to an empty toilet paper tube with wings. A lot of time spent sitting, eating, and sleeping in the company of strangers. As someone who doesn’t necessarily enjoy being in such close proximity to people I don’t know who sniffle, snore, and sweat, it is noteworthy, then, that I can muster the mental fortitude to make the slog again and again. The reason I do it, the reason anyone does it, of course, is for what waits on the other side.

My first trip to Vietnam, I wandered the streets of Saigon, lost but unafraid, except perhaps any time I stepped off a curb and into the onslaught of motorbikes, which parted and flowed around me as if I were a boulder in a rushing river. That and my second trip were spent solely in Saigon, or Ho Chi Minh City, which is a sensual feast and assault all at once.

The roads are clogged with motor scooters, and not just one person per scooter but entire families and small businesses transported on two small tires. There are rickshaws, bicycles, small cars, SUVs, tourist vans with sleeping Japanese or Koreans, and the ubiquitous container trucks, what we call semis, reminding us that this place is being rebuilt before our very eyes.

But traffic and congestion you can see in any big city in the world, and Saigon holds not a candle to many of the largest. Still, where else can you witness the harmony of millions of people and their wheels in synchronous motion, as if this is something they’ve practiced all their lives—driving motorbikes loaded down with baskets, glass panes, multigenerational families, televisions—and are now performing in the symphony of daily life.

There is a Zen quality to the way traffic flows in Vietnam. School girls dressed in white Áo Dàis, the traditional attire for women, stroll in pairs down a busy thoroughfare, impervious to the crazy tourist vans and containers that roar by, spewing their black exhaust. I peer at the chatting girls with both fear and admiration. How do they manage to stay so calm when I am reciting Hail Mary’s and praying that I will return home in one piece?

As I have traveled from Saigon to the Mekong Delta, through the center part of the country in Da Nang and Hoi An, then north to Hanoi and Halong Bay, I’ve seen more than I can ever recall. A naked man walking along the cement divider on a narrow and packed two-lane highway. Cows grazing in the grassy medium. Women bent harvesting rice. Raised graves that look like small cottages. Buddhist statues as tall as skyscrapers.

On my morning commute to work, colleagues on the shuttle bus doze off or talk to one another. Not me. I keep my eyes glued to the passing scenery. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve seen a bus pass so close that I could touch it or the tangle of rivers we seem to always cross, or the row of shops that sell marble statues in the likeness of any spiritual figure—Buddhas, goddesses, Jesus and Mary—I am still drawn in as if seeing it all for the first time.

On my last trip I went in a minivan from Hanoi to Halong Bay. I’m now accustomed to seeing animals transported on the backs of scooters. Chickens in cages or ducks with their bills and legs tied with twine for the trip. But I had never seen an adult pig, five or six hundred pounds of pink jello-y flesh, roped onto a motorbike. As the young man carrying the pig passed our van and I stared with mouth open, he seemed nonchalant, so at ease bumping along the dirt road with his jiggling sow in tow.

There is no way, really, to describe how exotic, how absolutely delectable Vietnam is to my senses. Roads are torn up, rice paddy fields relocated, new business parks and high rises rise overnight. It is a country in transition, moving to claim its place among economic powerhouses. I am in the midst of it, working with government, industry, and education to prepare for what is to come.

On one of my early trips, I walked with two Vietnamese colleagues down an alley near the coffee house where we’d just been. I looked up at the tangle of communications and electrical cables, signs of growth unplanned. Before us motorbikes surged six rows thick, mixed with taxis, cars, and bicycles. I turned to my friend and said, “I hope Vietnam never changes. I hope I can always see this,” and I motioned with my hand at the chaos before us. She looked me in the eye and said, “Ah, Roma, I hope very much that my country does change. I hope we someday have roads to fit the cars, safe roads and infrastructure for all the people who live here.”

It was then that I realized how unfair of me it was to want Vietnam to remain the same, as if it were a curiosity put here for my own pleasure. The people of any country should be able to determine their own destiny. And especially Vietnam, ravaged by war and poverty, a legacy of imperialism.

I’ve come around to embracing the change that is inevitable. These days I simply observe everything I can, take it in as if I were a recorder. Ten years from now, I vow to come back and see how different it is.



stop light (ho chi minh city) waiting to cross (ho chi minh city)
sharing the road (ho chi minh city) in transition (ho chi minh city)
going for a ride (ho chi minh city)

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I woke up writing haiku in my mind. Chaco, the black Siamese, could not sleep. And kept rattling the door. So I couldn’t sleep. The wind howled. The chimes rang. It reminded me of writing retreats in the Zendo. I’ll be back again in February. Writing haiku.

I stared at the ceiling. I composed haiku in my dream. I have long forgotten the lines. And so I start over.

We are all starting over in some form. New beginnings. Thank god. New beginnings teach me to love change. I used to fear change. But now I understand.

Without it, I don’t get the chance to start again.

            ***

the black pond melts clear
snow drifts against the window
and floats into cracks

the rope swing dangles
under the leafless white oak
breathless in the cold

water pools, leaves blow
chimes stir, January winds
blast hard from the North

chimney smoke waffles
off the neighbor’s snowy roof
seamless resistance

gnarled knot in the oak
I turn my head from the wind
dead leaf clings to life

weathered bat house nailed
into bark near a hollow
filled with emptiness

I rest in a thought
spring hides around the corner
buds sigh in relief

ancient potted soil
holds gangly roots of bamboo
flecks of snow swirl by

tawny rabbit tufts
snatch hare tracks from crusted snow
my gaze blazes trail

chocolate red bells
in the tray on the table
January 7

green leaf, dirty pane
stares at the naked buckthorn
steamy dimpled cheeks

no one understands
the winter frosted writer
curled up on the bed

Sunday, January 7th, 2007

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