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Posts Tagged ‘the ABC’s of Gratitude’

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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Blue Moon Over Ice Skating Rink – 0/365, BlackBerry Shots, Full Blue Moon on New Year’s Eve, December 31st, 2009, Minneapolis, Minnesota, photo © 2009-20010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.





Through The Looking Glass


season to season
hindsight is 20/20
reflecting the past;
future remains uncertain,
jumps hoops through the looking glass


–tanka from hindsight haiku — pink cadillac (on the road), October 25, 2009





Writing Practice — Looking Back – 15min


Looking back I see hot hazy days when I didn’t have a job. What seems like the best opportunity to work on writing, art, photography, becomes consumed with worry. Looking back I see that Chaco died. He didn’t just die. We made the hard decision to put him to sleep. An odd turn of phrase, put him to sleep. It’s the second cat where I’ve had to make that hard decision. The first was my cat Sasha; it was years ago. Looking back I feel gratitude. For Liz, Kiev, Mr. Stripeypants. For my writing group, for Roma and her partnership with me on red Ravine. I feel grateful I have my health. Age, I’m aging. But overall, I have survived another year. The gray hair is multiplying.

Looking back, there were visits with Amelia, visits with Marylin. Mothers are important to me. Time with mothers. Time with my mother. How much time do we have? One never knows if they will live into old age. I like the yearly trips I take to the South and this one was no exception. There wasn’t enough time but the time we were in Georgia and South Carolina was relaxed. The reconnections I have made there the last three years are invaluable. Links to what was, links to what might be.

Looking back, I feel like I don’t do enough, don’t accomplish enough of my yearly goals. I hate setting them anymore, but I must. I feel like I get so little done. Recently a friend called and mused that we might feel an urgency to get more done because of our age. We are not spring chickens, not in our twenties, not even in our thirties, and here we are trying to make some kind of alternative life work out. Looking back, my car Greta made it through the recession with only the need for a radiator and some new wiper blades. Sylvia the Saturn made it, too. No new car payments — yet.

Looking back, I am happy where I live. Indria is humble, tiny, small. But every day I wake up and look out over the oaks, ash, and cedar. I feel happy to come home and watch the moon rise behind the cottage. I wish it was larger, that we had two more bedrooms, one to write, one for art. Hers and hers. Should we build on? Or buy a new house? Is it ever in the cards to have enough room? Small is good, too. I’m used to small, crowded houses. That’s the way I grew up with 5 younger siblings. There is something comforting about small.

Looking back, I don’t want to trade my life for anyone else’s. My mistakes are my mistakes. I can live with them. I have to. I don’t often remember the bad that happens in a year, mostly the good. And the gratitude I feel for the richness in my life, no matter how much I might be lacking. Is that keeping me from going forward? Have I gotten lazy. Or am I simply tired. Looking back, I’m happy to have a job, though it takes a toll on me. If you had asked me even a year ago, I would have said, “No, I’m never going to be driving truck.” But here I am. Never say never.

There is an opening in there somewhere. Gratitude for the abundance of having a job. Money coming in. So many are without work. Yet my work is my art, my writing, my photography. It will be the dilemma of every artist — how to make a living while being a creative soul. Our world does not support it. We have to. We create our own worlds, surround ourselves with people who help hold the dream. People matter. But it is each of us who has to do the work. Am I doing the work?



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Post Script: I wanted to combine several of my yearly practices in this post on looking back. Above is a tanka I wrote on the trip to Georgia this year, the Reflection part of my Writing Practice on WRITING TOPIC — REFLECTION & INTENTION, and a photograph of the Blue Moon from my photo practice. Below is my yearly Gratitude list. I do one at the end of every year, a result of peering through the looking glass, looking back on the good things in life.


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A – Accept loss forever. Learned this from Kerouac, then from Natalie Goldberg.  Easy to say, hard to do. Makes the world a much better place to live.


B – Breaking free. From the ties that bind. I am the one who keeps me back. It was a constant battle over the year to let myself be. To do nothing when I needed it. To sit and stare into space. To break free from old worn out habits that are keeping me back.


C – Cats. These 3 bundles of joy brought much happiness to my life in 2009. Chaco has moved on but we don’t forget. We scattered his ashes this year around the fire at Winter Solstice. Sometimes I still hear him pattering through the house, keeping night watch on the back of the couch. Chaco was a Nightowl.


D – Dead of Winter. I love Winter. It makes me feel alive. January to January, the Midwest Winter is nothing to sneeze at. It was -21 this morning. It’s warmed up to -8. Sometimes the Dead of Winter is when I have the most ripeness going on inside.


E – The letter “E”. I’m thankful for the vowels. They hold up a lot of words. Like Elizabeth. I thank my lucky stars every day that she’s my partner, that she’s in my life.


F – Fathers. I have a new respect for the role that fathers play with their children. Young children. Adult children. I have learned from reconnecting with my step-father in the South that it is never too late to heal. Never too late to realize the love. I have learned from my brothers who are good fathers how important it is to be there for your kids. I have learned from ybonesy and Jim how good fathers make a difference.


G – Gratitude – humble gratitude for others, those who came before us, those who run parallel, the children of the future, all teach me perspective. Sometimes I feel great loss. I try hard to get back to Gratitude for what remains.


H – Humble Pie. I’ve eaten a lot of it. Humility helps me remember — Do not waste this precious life. Humility always takes me back to center — Home. (Oh, and wasn’t Humble Pie a band from the 1970’s?)


I – Itches, those nagging, pesky things that make you want to jump out of your skin. You can’t scratch every itch. But don’t the itches raise the most important questions?


J – January. Some years I’m glad to be starting over, to walk into the clean slate of a New Year. This is one of them. Time may be boundless but the calendar offers a structure. Something that helps keep me on track.


K – Kindred Spirits. Make the list again this year. Not just community or people who are alive. But those who travel with us across the Ethers. And animals, like our cat Kiev. She’s solid as a rock. There are so many life forms that walk the Earth with us. The veil is thin.


L – Love. Love is underappreciated. The word is thrown around loosely. There are so many kinds of love, I have lost count. But the feeling of giving or receiving love — I would not trade it for money, fame, or fortune.


M – Mothers. Most of the nurturing of the world falls to women. This was true when I was born, it may still be true at the end of my life. I wish I could say it’s different, that all nurture the world. But it doesn’t seem to be women that take us into war. Or perpetrate most of the violence in the world. If I was wrong, I’d happily admit it. If I’m right, I pray for more balance. That’s too heavy a weight to carry.


N – North Carolina. I know it seems odd. But driving through North Carolina, it seems like one of the most beautiful places. I’ve also discovered that many of my relatives come from North Carolina, something I didn’t expect. This is true on the paternal and maternal side. I am rooted in the South.


O – Overdrive. Wait, I guess this is something that should go on my future Intentions list. But it popped into my head. People who run on Overdrive teach me about reaching goals. I don’t want to be a Type A personality–I only want a pinch of their drive.


P – Pants. Mr. Stripeypants is over a decade old; he acts like a kitten. I can’t explain the joy this cat brings into my life. He plays fetch with me in the morning, drapes over my arm when I write, greets us at the door after a hard day at work, follows us around the house in a constant state of curious abandon. I learn a lot from Mr. Pants.


Q – Quest. I’m always questing. Like a Knight but not in shining armor. I’d be one of those Dark Knights. After all, you need them, too. The ones that sit at the Round Table contemplating, one foot underground, one foot in the sky. They are all searching for the Grail. I think curiosity is an asset. I just wish it would quit jumping around. Hopscotch, 1-2-1-2-1-2-1, back again. Once in a while I wish throwing the rock was enough, just to see where it lands.


R – red Ravine. It makes the list again. Every year there is something different. It’s a practice in the collaborative spirit. Sometimes it’s the thing that keeps me going when things get hard. Where will it lead? Right here, right now. I’m grateful for every single person who has ever visited red Ravine.


S – Snow. It’s practical and romantic. A water reserve for dry summers, a heart bouncer for Winter rides on the horse-drawn sleigh. We got a boatload in December. It snowed like a banshee over the Christmas weekend. I used to ski but these days I’m happy to get out and walk in the snow. I don’t mind shoveling. But I have to admit, this year I thought about buying a snow blower.


T – Tracks. Animal cairns. We follow tracks in the snow in our front yard. Raven, crow, moles and voles. Rabbits, squirrels, raccoon. Tracking takes patience and an eye for detail. I’m not that good at identifying which tracks go to what animal. But I love to guess. Then check my tracking book for the right answer.


U – Understanding. It’s the brother of forgiveness. I had to live a while before I understood what it meant to forgive. Not everyone can be understood. But it helps to try. I understand that not everyone is perfect or impeccable. I forgive myself for not being those things either.


V – Veracity. An unwillingness to tell lies. A propensity for the truth.  They even made a movie about it — The Invention of Lying. Is telling the truth always the best route? What truth? Whose truth? I like looking at the Underbelly — the unwillingness to tell lies seems more realistic.


W – Woodpeckers. We had two sightings of the Pileated Woodpecker on our property this year. What a joy it is to see them. They’ve got to be the closest thing to seeing a prehistoric Ivory-Billed. The Ivory-Billed Woodpecker is a lot like the Loch Ness monster — now you see it, now you don’t.


X – X-Ray Vision. The absence of it. I’m thinking if I had X-Ray vision, I could see into the future. But I wouldn’t want to know. I’d rather take my chances. And make small decisions along the way.


Y – ybonesy makes the list again. She’s made leaps and bounds with her art this year. That inspires me, fires me up for my own creative endeavors. She’s a woman who seems to be able to do it all. I admire that. And feel so much gratitude that she’s collaborating with me on red Ravine.


Z – ZigZags. Like lightning. I’m grateful for zigzags because they are the way I live my life. Cancer the Crab rarely takes the straight line anywhere. Back and forth, testing the waters. She does finally land. Solid. For a day or two. Then off again on her quest. You can’t have a zig without a zag.


-posted on red Ravine, Saturday, January 2nd, 2009

-related posts and to read more about the practice of Gratitude: Feelin’ Down For The Holidays? Make A Gratitude List, The ABC’s Of A Prosperous 2008 – Gratitude, I Am Grateful For The Alphabet ;-), Runes, Oracles, & Alphabets

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Summer Tea Rose, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Summer Tea Rose, from our summer garden, forms a perfect natural mandala, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



I try to end the year with a Gratitude List. I find it a good practice to honor having lived another year. And to equally honor the people, places, and sentient beings who make life rich and worth living.

Last year, I used the ABC’s as a format for a 2007 Gratitude List and liked that structure, so I’m going to continue with it this year. I kept it simple, and I’m sure have only touched the surface. If I’ve forgotten anything or anyone, please know you are in my heart.

What are you grateful for? For many, 2008 was a hard year financially, emotionally, and physically. I find that a belief in something bigger than me, and faith, keep me going in the down times. I want to try to remember to live one day at a time.

On the 2nd day of 2009, it is sunny, blue, clear, and I woke up to exactly 0 degree temperatures, a perfect circle — the best of winter in Minnesota. Winter is all whites, blacks, blues and grays and makes me feel alive. And, for some reason, Winter always reminds me of the color of Spring.



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A – Afterglow – making Art, making love, walking in the sun, glistening humidity on the face of a July Savannah day


B – Building & Blooming – a writing life, a life together, a community, a garden, a studio space, a spiritual foundation


C – Chaco, Cravings, Creating – creating anything: a photograph, a piece of writing, a mandala, a clay set of Runes, a painting, a community, a blog. Chaco — I’m so grateful he is alive to take us into the New Year, our little miracle. Cravings – what do you crave? That’s where your passions lie.


D – Death & Dying – the threat of death wakes us up; the death of dry summer flowers makes way for next year’s Spring blooms; the death of one career makes space for the life of another; the death of a loved one or pet leaves us grieving, sad, yet appreciative at the miracle of one more day.


E – Eating! – food, food, food, all kinds of food. Don’t like to cook but love to try new foods and savor the old Family Recipes.


F – Friends & Family & Fathers – circles of closeness, moving out from center. Different levels of intimacy, all important to a thriving life. It would be lonely without family and friends. Fathers — I have had quite a few. I’m thankful for what they have each brought to my life, and the chance to rebuild broken bridges.


G – Gratitude – humble gratitude for others, those who came before us, those who run parallel, the children of the future, all teach me perspective


H – Humility & Home – it’s a gift to be alive. Humility helps me remember — Do not waste this precious life. Home is the place that holds history, the place I feel safe.


I – Introspection — most comfortable in the cave of Bear, what I learn there can make me a wiser, better person when I go back out into the world


J – J. & January – I’m grateful my brother walks with us into another year after spending time last summer in the ICU. It’s always scary when family members are gravely ill. January offers the promise of a New Year.


K – Kindred Spirits – those who travel beside us. They change faces from time to time, but that is to be expected. Endings lead to new beginnings.


L – Love & Liz – sappy, I know, but love is a wondrous thing. It heals many wounds. Was it in Bucket List where the narrator said, “We are not the things that love us; we are the things we love.” Giving is better than receiving.  Love lost brings the opportunity to love again. You never know when you will fall in love.


M – Mothers & Grandmothers – mothers continue to provide much of the nurturing in this world. My mother is my biggest fan and offers loving support to me in this crazy writing life. Thanks for traveling with me and continuing to answer my endless questions about family history. Thanks for believing in me. And for instilling into your children permission to follow their dreams. Thanks to my Grandmothers who walk with me every day.


N – Noses – medium, broad, ski-jump, upturned, and small. Noses hold glasses close to the eyes. Smells are the best connectors to memories. Think of your favorite smells. A keen sense of smell leads to a keen sense of detail.


O – Optimism – I tend to see the glass half-full. I am of the belief that setting positive intention creates cairns that guide through the tough times. Right or wrong, it helps me through sadness and grief and is the philosophy I live by.


P – Passion & Peace – do they go hand in hand? Maybe not. It’s hard to believe the things people do to each other out of passion. It makes it hard to keep the peace. Still, I believe it is possible.


Q – Quagmire – one of my favorite words. noun:  a soft wet area of low-lying land that sinks underfoot. What would life be without the uncertainty of sinking quagmires that eventually lead back to solid ground.


R – red Ravine – so grateful for the community who visits here. And for the creative practice that has developed around red Ravine. Every day offers new surprises. Thanks for dropping by, for what you have given to creating this space.


S – Summer — the longer I live in a Winter climate, the more I appreciate Summer and the Southern roots I grew up with. When I lived there as a child (and now when I visit) I never stop sweating!


T – Teachers & Time – the gift of time. Every moment is a gift. The next could be our last breath. Or something could happen that changes our lives forever. There is no way to prepare except to honor each moment. Teachers, mentors who are wiser than I am. If only I would remember to keep listening.


U – Underwear – it’s a simple thing, isn’t it, underwear? Some people don’t wear it but I can’t imagine not having it. Cotton, all cotton, please, and I only wear Jockeys For Her. More expensive but they last longer. So worth it!


V – Vacations – oh, how I long for another vacation where I sit on a beach somewhere and do nothing. No writing, no thinking, no work, no nothing. Simply being still and silent and listening to the ocean, Zen heartbeat of the Universe.


W – Writing & Art Buddies – they take many forms. Writing Practice groups, community on red Ravine, writing retreat friends, local writers, regional writers, artists who inspire, writers and poets who have written books that changed the world. It’s too lonely to try to do this alone.


X – X-Treme Living – life goes on with or without us. It can be an extreme act of grace to make it through another day.


Y – ybonesy – I couldn’t do this without her. The creative collaboration of red Ravine has led down many fruitful, winding roads. And it all started that day in Taos after a writing retreat with Natalie Goldberg. I have so much gratitude for Natalie who taught me about the practice of writing and helped me believe in myself.


Z – Zest for Life – passion and doing what we love keep us from becoming complacent. Please, don’t let me take life for granted. (Plus, Zest is a fun word to say!)




Raindrops On Roses, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved   Rose Mandala, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Rose Mandala, Raindrops On Roses, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



-posted on red Ravine, Friday, January 2nd, 2009

-related posts and to read more about the practice of Gratitude:  Feelin’ Down For The Holidays? Make A Gratitude List, The ABC’s Of A Prosperous 2008 – Gratitude, I Am Grateful For The Alphabet ;-)

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A   art, all things Art and Artist, absolute passion for Art, artsy-fartsy

B   billies, that’s what I call the Boys in my life: Jim, Otis, Rafael

C   children, my girls, chattering sitting in the same chair

D   daylight growing, Dad

E   evenings, eating dinner with my family more often than not

F   friends, family, fields (of dreams, of birds, of grass)

G   Goldberg, Natalie

H   home, heart, honesty, humility, hope

I   as in me, the person I am, iffy, imaginative, ignoramous

J   just a job, a just job

K   kindness, kinship, kindred spirits

L   life, what it deals me, love, longing, loyalty

M   Mom, menopause (bring it on), milk for my coffee

N   oh fair NEW MEX-ico, we-love-we-love-you-so

O   old age, grateful for every day of it my parents have

P   pain, parenting, parents, passion, pens (fast-writing), practice

Q   QuoinMonkey, questions never answered, quriosity

R   rest, relaxation, reading, responsibility, romance rekindled

S   sunlight, snow, seasons, siblings

T   truth, trees

U   us, my family, uneven, unfinished, unconditional love

V   Virgin Mary, vulnerability, view of the mountains

W   water, agua, cool muddy brown

X   eXcitement, eXistential, X marks the spot, you are here

Y   saying YES to taking risks (moving, blogging, writing)

Z   zest for life, zaniness at times, zen everyday





-Related to posts, The ABCs Of A Prosperous 2008 – Gratitude and Feelin’ Down For The Holidays? Make A Gratitude List

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The Places I've Walked, brick labyrinth, Martinez, Georgia, June 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved

The Places I’ve Walked, walking a brick labyrinth, Martinez, Georgia, June 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved


It’s New Year’s Eve (almost a whole New Year, ybonesy!). I’m working on the black-eyed peas and rice post. And I’ve got to say the orangutan’s butt is a pretty hard act to follow! But I’m going to risk it and post an ABC meme morph of my practice and Gratitude List for 2007.

I met with friends a few nights ago for poetry, music, and silence. We did timed writings. I chose to make a Gratitude List. It was 99 items long. I admit, I was slowing down a bit near the end, but I think I could have gone longer. My scattered, discursive thoughts turned a corner into this giant web of connection.

When I got stuck, I’d think of the places I walked over the last year. Where did my feet hit solid ground? From there, the strong, silky tendrils spun out across the room, connecting one detail to another.

Each place held its own blessings. I was an unreluctant traveler. There is some sadness in looking back. But through the lens of gratitude, it’s mostly Joy.


Some things I learned along the way:


  • Looking back with gratitude, provides clear vision for the future.   After we reflected and wrote about 2007, we shared. Then we visioned about 2008. Not resolutions – Visions. I took the web of gratitude and laid out a detailed visual map of 2008. In the cluster map, everything seemed clear.

  • The Vision for 2008 is in place. Creating a workable structure and learning how to prioritize my time (balancing internal with external) are paramount to making the Vision reality.   Balancing writing, work, art, relationships, and care of the self are my challenges: (1) Setting up a structure detailing where I spend my time and sticking to it. (2) Limiting the things that seem most addictive or time wasting. I find that I can easily get lost in frittering away time. I know exactly how long it takes to get a task done. I am good at planning. I need a yearly structure that honors and balances internal time with outer action.

  • Time alone is a must for me. Taking action out in the world will be the hardest part of realizing my Visions. Setting intention. Following through.   A friend said how she needs creative space every day, time to just sit and stare at a wall. Most extroverts don’t understand the act of wall-staring, but I’m in full agreement! I get my energy from going within, not from other people (true definition of an introvert). I love connecting with people. I have good social skills. But my creative energy, my refilling of the well, comes from reflection, internal musings, silence.



Practice. Structure. Community. Intention. Follow through. Action. Many of these connections came from sharing my writing practices in community. My original gratitude practice was a free form list. I revisited the list and boiled everything down into general categories, the ABC’s.

May your New Year be filled with peace and gratitude, as close to balance as humans can get, and some semblance of what we homo sapiens like to call happiness.



Walking The Winding Brick Road, labyrinth in Martinez, Georgia, June 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved  Walking The Winding Brick Road, labyrinth in Martinez, Georgia, June 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved  Walking The Winding Brick Road, labyrinth in Martinez, Georgia, June 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved  Walking The Winding Brick Road, labyrinth in Martinez, Georgia, June 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved  Walking The Winding Brick Road, labyrinth in Martinez, Georgia, June 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved



A – APPRECIATION – appreciation for what has passed. People, places, and spaces – I want to preserve and write about them. Places contain our roots. People are memories. History, I don’t want to repeat it or make the same mistakes. I have to know the past for a clear future. The ability to deeply feel leads me to empathy and compassion.

B – BUZZING AROUND ON THE MOTORCYCLES – our little purple Honda Rebel 250 (Ramona) and Suzuki Savage 650 (Suzi) floating by the Mississippi River in summer. Can’t ya smell that smell.

C – COFFEE & CATS – Colombian or French Roast every morning. We make one pot and split it. That’s it for the day. Hmmmm. Don’t forget to take a good long whiff. And then there are the 3 Musketeers: Mr. StripeyPants who made it through a near-death experience in the last few months (a miracle); the elegant mistress of the house, Kiev; and nervous but sleek, Chaco (after the canyon).

D – DULUTH – going up to Lake Superior at Duluth once a year for our weekend getaway. I look so forward to that. Lake Superior is like the Womb of the Earth. It feels like I could be anywhere in the world.

E – EXPLORATION – outside of my comfort zone. In many ways, it was a hard year for me. I was challenged to push myself through situations that were not comfortable but were good for my growth. Sometimes I failed and went back to the drawing board. It was a hard year financially. But I didn’t give up. Looking at 2008, I feel willing to do more exploration. I’m hoping all the structures I put into place this year will bear fruit. Both financially and spiritually.

F – FRIENDS & FAMILY – many communities. I only have a few very close, intimate friends (I’ve known my friend, Gail, since 1980). My blogging partner, ybonesy. And ever-widening circles of communities like red Ravine, Flickr, Taos writers and people at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House, recovery communities, all people I’ve met by showing up and stretching myself beyond my comfort zone. Family and extended family – at least one person in my blood/extended family supports me and my writing in some small or large way, every single day.

G – GRANDMOTHERS, GHOSTS, & GENERATIONAL HEALING – the Grandmothers that guide me, not only the Ancestors, but Elise and Ada who come to visit me often. The ghost of Mabel Dodge visited in Taos and I often feel her when I’m there. Her creative vision was admirable. And I wonder if she feels how writers and artists are still convening under her roof. I believe these Spirits guide us in healing the wounds of the past. In letting go between generations. I saw this on every trip I took home this year.

H – HOMETOWN – Minneapolis, living in the most literate, clean, and green city in the U.S. We’ve got the Walker, the Loft, the Guthrie, Intermedia Arts, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, MN Book Arts, Talking Volumes, Minnesota Public Radio, the Fitzgerald (oh, that’s Saint Paul!), all the warehouse district artists and writers, and on and on and on.

I – INDRIA – the white cottage on the gently sloping hill, new gutters, freshly painted deck, small flower gardens, cardinals, flickers, downys, nuthatches, bluejays, view of the sunset, changing of the seasons, I love living just outside the city proper. It’s silent, quiet, peaceful.

J – JOY – the pure joy of doing art and writing every day. Journaling, blogging, business, lists, practices, poetry. Photography, papermaking, painting, printmaking, sketching, mapping. Any of it. All of it. These creative endeavors bring me JOY.

K – KINDRED SPIRITS – those who walk parallel paths. The faces change from time to time. Some walk hand in hand for a while, then drop away. So many different reasons. But I’m grateful for the time I walked with them. And now I’m grateful for those who are new to me and have come into my life at just the right time.

L – LIZ – her belief in me, her love, acceptance, gratitude, giving nature, smile, giggle, support of my writing, huge and open heart. When she’s in the mood, she also loves to cook, bake, and do laundry. 8)

M – MENTORS – Natalie Goldberg, books, writers that came before me, great literature, my business partners and clients of every nature. What about all the writers and artists I saw this year in the Twin Cities: Ann Patchett, Galway Kinnell, Mary Oliver, Josephine Dickinson, Steve Almond, Jean Shinoda Bolen, Riane Eisler, Mirabai Starr (oh, that was Taos), Ani DiFranco, Nancy Crampton, Diane Arbus (retrospective). All the art profs who mentored me in school.

N – NO REGRETS – I’m never bored. I don’t regret anything I’ve done. I haven’t always made the best choices. But I’ve learned from them. I’m learning to forgive myself.

O – OPPORTUNITIES – so many presented themselves this year. Teaching with and assisting Natalie twice, helping others to write and structure their time, the writing Intensive at Taos, unexpectedly traveling home for Mom’s 70th, cheap flights to New Mexico (twice) and Pennsylvania (twice), road trips to New Mexico and Georgia, quality time at Mabel Dodge Luhan House, time spent in my childhood homes, researching, taping, discovering personal histories of the past.

P – PROMISES & PROSPERITY – the Promises of Recovery hooked me on letting go of self-destructive behaviors. It works if you work it. And you’re worth it. I’m lucky to be able to (almost) make a living doing something I love. I’ve also got a part-time job that is flexible, supportive, and allows me independence in my writing. I’m getting there. I believe.

Q – QUALITY TIME – with myself, with the people I love. The most important thing to me is connecting with those close to me. And learning how to keep the well full so I still have something to give back. I’m especially thankful for all the extra time I had with my mother this year. To walk along the Susquehanna and Savannah rivers, to meditate together, to travel to Georgia, to work on the family tree, to spread mud masks on our faces, to excavate memories, to eat homecooked meals, to be with family.

R – RECONNECTING & RED RAVINE – Mrs. Juarez (after 39 years), Aunt Annette (after 50 years), Aunt Emmalyne (after 41 years), my step-dad (after 41 years), my immediate family, siblings, and Mom and I are the closest we’ve ever been. Launching red Ravine has reconnected me to writers and creative people I’ve met in Taos, to extended family and friends, to other writers all over the world. Through writing and comments I learn new things about people I’ve known all my life. And old things about people I only just met.

S – SILENCE & SNOW – the golden sound of silence, meditation, practice, slow walking the labyrinths of the world. The silence of snow and winter. Winter Solstice by the fire. The exercise from shoveling the driveway with every muscle in my body. Strength in the vulnerability of silence.

T – TAOS MOUNTAIN – for sitting there century after century, just being the mountain.

U – UNDISCOVERED DREAMS – an openness and willingness to go where no QM has gone before!

V – VINTAGE – I’m into what’s old, not what’s new, borrowed or blue. Studying vintage items (books, music, stereos, lawnmowers, tools, historic places, etc.) how they work, the place they once held in the world, fascinates me.

W – WARM COATS, HATS, MITTENS – And don’t forget all my hooded sweatshirts that keep my body thermometer (the neck) warm. I’m grateful for the warmth every day. Your survival here depends on knowing how to dress and being prepared for anything in winter. There are some who only have the clothes on their backs.

X – X-RAY VISION – No, just kidding. I’m more thankful for my Wonderwoman wrist cuffs and strange powers of getting people to tell the truth.

Y – YOU – whoever is reading this at this moment. I’m grateful for you.

Z – piZZaZZ – I lived 2007 with courage, bravery, and pizzazz. I haven’t been perfect. I’ve had sleepless nights. I’ve made bad choices, hard choices, but I tried to do the right thing for the moment. I ran myself ragged early in the year. I rested in December. But life keeps me on my toes. I’ve got gratitude for pizzazz.


Walking The Winding Brick Road, labyrinth in Martinez, Georgia, June 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved  Walking The Winding Brick Road, labyrinth in Martinez, Georgia, June 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved  Walking The Winding Brick Road, labyrinth in Martinez, Georgia, June 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved  Walking The Winding Brick Road, labyrinth in Martinez, Georgia, June 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved  Walking The Winding Brick Road, labyrinth in Martinez, Georgia, June 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved


-Happy New Year, posted on red Ravine, Monday, December 31th, 2007



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