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Posts Tagged ‘the practice 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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cool auto p20111126-115412

Cool To The Touch, by the Thanksgiving fire with friends, Droid Shots,
edited with Little Photo, Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, November 2011, photo
© 2011 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.




Gratitude unfolds,
hot fire in the belly
cool to the touch—
River of self-doubt,
I carry the light
all the days of my life.






-posted on red Ravine, Sunday, November 27th, 2011

-related to posts: haiku 4 (one-a-day) Meets renga 52, Gratitude Mandala — Giving Thanks

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Gratitude Mandala

Gratitude Mandala, Dymo LabelWriter 1895, Portfolio Brand Water-Soluble Oil Pastels, Prang Metallic Markers, Tul Permanent Markers, Black Sharpie, Crayola Colored Pencils, BlackBerry Shots, Minneapolis, Minnesota, November 2010, photo © 2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


Inspired by ybonesy’s journal post (This Thanksgiving Weekend, Make A Gratitude Journal), and with a little Holiday time on my hands, I took a different approach to my yearly Gratitude List. I still used the alphabet as a jumping off place. But instead of making a vertical list, I wound around the first page of Gratitude List, Journal Style the journal I’ll be using for my Journal Practice 2011. Then took the major categories of that list and incorporated them into a November mandala.

I always feel full and abundant after making a Gratitude List. The passing of time can be difficult, scary, life-threatening. But remembering what I am grateful for eases whatever pain I have felt. It tips the balance.

I want to move into the New Year giving thanks. Christening a new journal with a Gratitude list comes from a place of wholeness, leaving feelings of scarcity and lack in the dust!

Thanks for the inspiration, ybonesy. And I have so much gratitude for our red Ravine readers. I hope everyone is having a good Thanksgiving weekend.



At The Mandala's Center

-posted on red Ravine, Sunday, November 28th, 2010

-related to posts: The ABC’s Of A Prosperous 2008 – Gratitude, Feelin’ Down For The Holidays? Make A Gratitude List, A Simple Gratitude List, Reflection — Through The Looking Glass, I Am Grateful For The Alphabet ;-), Coloring Mandalas, On Providence, Old Journals, & Thoreau

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Loteria Journal

Lotería Journal, altered Moleskine cover with ybonesy doodles (plus Caran d’Arch, gouache, and ink pen), design © 2010 by ybonesy, all rights reserved.




I love journals. I’ve written about my love of journals. I have doodle journals and writing journals, and I even have my first ever journal, a gift from my sister Bobbi, who got it for me as part of a Scholastic book order she made for her new class. She gave it to me about the time she started teaching: 1974. I was 13 years old, a newly minted teen, and my journal (it was actually more of a diary, although I’m not sure what the difference is) was the perfect place to log news of piddly babysitting jobs (for which it was not uncommon to make 75 cents!), swim lessons, and crushes. That early journal got me believing that any life—even one so boring as my own—was worth recording.

That’s the beauty of the journal. That it might collect the ordinary and occasional extraordinary goings-on of your existence. And that someday you might look back on it as one experiences the family photo album. Memory, insight, a looking glass into your world, or at least a snippet of it.

So it is not surprising that I’ve recently discovered the joy of making journal art. I’m not sure what else to call it. I take blank journals—the basic Moleskine works great—then figure out designs to create on the covers. It’s a fun project, one that can easily be done over a long holiday weekend.


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loteria journal in process (one) loteria journal in process (two)



To make the Lotería Journal, which I fashioned after the Mexican Lotería cards, I used the following items:

  • Moleskine or other journal – I like the Moleskine brand, but it is a bit pricey. Any simple journal will do; for this project it’s best to stay away from leather or cloth covers.
  • Gesso – to apply to the cover so that you can color or paint the cover (the gesso acts both as a whitening agent to better absorb and reflect light in color, as well as a primer so that whatever you apply bonds well to the surface).
  • Evenly sized images – for this journal I used my own, but you could cut images out of magazines or tear out cool papers and draw different designs on each one.
  • Mod Podge – to glue the images to the Moleskine cover, and later, once the piece is completely done, I’ll paint the entire cover with Mod Podge to seal the design and give it a glossy finish.
  • Paints and wax crayons – to add color.
  • A black pen, preferably permanent, but if you use an impermanent one, just make sure it is completely dry, and when you do your final paint with Mod Podge, do a quick brush; don’t go back and forth or linger else the black ink will smudge.
  • Brushes – a one-inch one for the Mod Podge and a small one for my paints (both of which I keep in water while I’m not using them).


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And given that we are in the Thanksgiving season, I can’t think of a better use of a lovingly created journal than to transform it into a Gratitude Journal. Now, folks out there may practice daily Gratitude, but for my part, this is an area that I’d like to improve. I want to spend more time giving thanks for what I have and less time wanting whatever it is I don’t have.

A Gratitude Journal can take several forms. One idea is to use it as a way to say Thank-You to someone in your life. My sister Janet once created this type of Gratitude Journal for me, although we didn’t call it that back then. But now as I think about it, that’s exactly what it was.

About thirteen years ago I organized a trip to Spain for my dad, Janet, another sister, and my sister-in-law. The five of us spent two weeks traveling all over the country, staying in unique and at times quirky places. An olive-farm-turned-bed-and-breakfast, a renovated monastery, and a former brothel, for example. We had a wonderful time, and afterward Janet made me a journal as a memento of our experience. Handmade paper adorned the front and back covers, and inside on a long single sheet of paper that she folded like an accordion, she made a collage of different scenes from the trip.

You could create a Gratitude Journal and inside turn it into a personalized Thank You to someone close to you. I know I often pull out the journal my sister made for me. It’s so much richer than a Thank You card.



gratitude journal (one)
gratitude journal (two)



A Gratitude Journal could also be something you keep for yourself over a certain period of time—say, the upcoming year—to help practice gratitude in your life. There are a lot of ways you can do this. For example, each day you could think about what it is you’re grateful for and then write about that particular topic. Or make a doodle about it, or do a collage on that page.

QuoinMonkey wrote a post at the end of 2007 titled Feelin’ Down For The Holidays? Make A Gratitude List. She made her list at the end of the year, as has been a tradition of hers for several years now. Here you can see her Gratitude List from 2007 looking forward to 2008, along with mine. And here are QM’s Gratitude Lists from 2009 and 2010. You could follow QM’s example and dedicate a sheet of paper to each letter of the alphabet and see what flows onto the page.

Or maybe your Gratitude Journal project is more about simply focusing this weekend on creating a beautiful cover for your journal. Maybe that in itself is the act of Gratitude, giving Thanks by allowing yourself to spend a few hours making art.

And speaking of giving Thanks, QM and I are immensely grateful for the community and inspiration we’ve received over the years from working together and from all of you.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!



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love journal



prayer practice journal

Journal Art, mixed media journal covers—washi paper, Caran d’Arch, collage, small wooden canvases top two), postage stamp (third), stickers, etc., design © 2010 by ybonesy, all rights reserved.


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-Related to post On Providence, Old Journals, & Thoreau

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Gray Spring day in Minneapolis. Rain pings the windows of my Casket Arts studio, wind rustles the frayed telephone wires. I’m staring at a city shrouded in fog. A Westclox Big Ben on the table next to me ticks away the minutes; the first quarter of 2010 is history. March in Minnesota was one of the warmest and most snowless in 100 years.

In the context of a whole century, the 90 days I’ve persevered with the BlackBerry 365 Project seems like a small effort. In busy human terms, it feels like forever. Some days, the photographs are grayed out snapshots with little focus. Other days, I can see the image framed and hung on the wall. It’s the nature of creative effort. And the boundlessness of living.

Once a quarter, I’d like to acknowledge this strange little body of work with a slideshow of my favorites. The project makes me keenly aware of the passage of time. Endings. New beginnings. I am learning patience, the consistent ability to show up for myself, progress not perfection.

I am grateful for the support. Thank you. And if there is anything you notice about the photography — subject matter, framing, content, I’m all ears. What seems lacking, what’s appealing? Sometimes we are too close to projects and practices to see them clearly. Hearing from others can help tap into new veins of work.



This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Best Of BlackBerry 365 — First Quarter, favorites from 90 days of shooting & posting a phone photo a day, January 2010 – March 2010, all photos © 2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



Note: the full BlackBerry 365 set is posted on my Flickr account. Along with a daily commentary of little details about the photograph, where I took it, what I was doing that day. I’m excited to be heading into Spring. Expect days to move from white, ice blue, and gray to seaweed, azure, and copper green.

-posted on red Ravine, Friday, April 2nd, 2010

-related to post: BlackBerry 365: Things Loved, Things Learned

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Letter From Elizabeth Alexander, Minneapolis, Minnesota, March 2009, photo © 2009-2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


Our Poetry & Meditation Group began meeting again in January. We celebrated new beginnings with the poetry of Ruth Stone (the poet mentioned in Carolyn Flynn’s piece An Evening With Elizabeth Gilbert & Anne Lamott). This Friday we’ll read the work of Pablo Neruda.

It’s hard to believe it was over a year ago when we gathered to learn more about poet Elizabeth Alexander. We went around the circle and read her poems. Then, in gratitude, sent a card thanking her for her work. A few weeks later, she would be reading at the inauguration of Barack Obama.

A few of us met in South Minneapolis that historic Winter day to watch the inauguration on the big screen at Sabathani. When Elizabeth got up to read, we knew a little about her life; we had read her poems. We never dreamed the poet would write back. Then, one frosty day in March, her letter arrived in Teri’s mailbox. We passed the parchment during poetry group:



My dear friends in Minnesota,

Thank you for your lovely card and my apologies for my late reply. I’ve found myself in an unusual whirlwind for the last few months.

It was indeed an honor to speak at the inauguration. One of the wonderful gifts that comes from reading is hearing from people like you. What a precious group you have! I hope it continues to flourish.

Yours,

Elizabeth



Last week I was listening to NPR’s Talk of the Nation. At the end of the segment Henry Louis Gates Uncovers ‘Faces Of America’ I was surprised by the voice of Elizabeth Alexander. She was responding to what Gates had uncovered after he traced her ancestry back to Edward Honeywell and Esther Power and King John of England. I thought of Elizabeth at the presidential podium. And I thought about her taking the time to respond to a card from a small Minnesota poetry group. How a letter from a young poet transcended the political. It meant the world to us. The card, the letter, the poems — the poet’s lineage.


Elizabeth Alexander At The Inauguration, Yale University, Letter From A Young Poet, Minneapolis, Minnesota, January & March 2009, photo © 2009-2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


-posted on red Ravine, Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

-related to posts:  Got Poetry? (National Poem In Your Pocket Day), The Poet Writes Back — Gary Soto, Which Came First, The Grasshopper Or The Egg?, The Poet’s Letter — Robert Bly, Postcard From Billy Collins — Kicking Off National Poetry Month

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Night Fog (0) Emptiness – 19/365, BlackBerry Shots, Minneapolis, Minnesota, January 2010, photo © 2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 
 
 
 

One seagull feather
hairy sculptures of seagrass
piled up on the dunes;
lady bugs and beetles land,
shelter from the cold, coarse sand

found in the sand
someone lost a loved one–
this wedding band,
years of what could and could not
happen in a span of life

life’s changing seasons
happy, sad, up, down, laugh, cry-
stay or go away;
underneath the roiling waves
calm moonlight draws me back in

breathing in bath salts,
I think of the tears I tasted
when you said goodbye
bitter wind off oceans spray
turns my heart cold like that day

bare truth, bald faced lie,
why does nothing satisfy?
how fickle my heart
swinging between trees
like a hammock

creaking bending trees
crying out pains agony-
red eyes of grief’s lava tears
into the wind I let it go
a feather across the sand

between power lines
the crows can’t decide whether
to leave or stay
feet hold fast to whir of wire
head says run to shifting ground

from the earth
a crack
of fresh earthworms
slither through the pouring rain
clinging to last bits of life

the soccer field–
a marshland for herons
after the rain
reminds me of Nebraska
slow drum of Janis Ian

naked oak and birch
still in the November wind
haiku for the sky
only my breath caught
in the branches

birdsong–
my dog echoes the warbler
with her sore throat;
the trill can be heard for miles,
is the bark worse than the bite?

from the birch tree
I peel away the bark
and write this haiku
I find the sap sweet, congealed
While my tears remain bitter

The backyard rubble
Holds wisps of waylaid dreams It’s
Slim pickings for birds;
they are dreamcatchers
tying each nightmare to bare branches.

crows light on the wing
Raven holds November court
while hummers fly South
dipping in the sunlight
they pull away the clouds

Sun sextile Saturn
Thanksgiving relationships
may take a quick turn
family feuds holding still –
peace returns, if just one day

on the corner, the Raven
returning for a quick meal
dissolves into night
The autumn also takes wing,
A snowflake heralds winter.

trees crawl toward the sky
ochre moonlight silhouettes
dreaming of Solstice
The nights are long and heavy
but soon the light will lift us.

trenches around fire
reflected deep in your eyes
labyrinthine pools…
I think of the night we held
each other from our own shadows

Your softest caress,
each tremble and kiss of tress,
a single raindrop,
creating dry dust devils
littered with blurred distinctions.

on the windshield
cracks become softer
in the fog —
-1 freezes in place,
fingers draw cold words–your name.

linked crescents–
I fitted your faded last name
around my lip print –
morning sun, and it’s still there,
remnants of what used to be.

the future so uncertain
as I drive through
the Monday car wash –
when I pay, their parrot talks,
Cackles “I love you” out loud.

 
 

________________

 
 

for every life
there is a reason to live
and there is an end
And in this divine resort,
God grant us late, quick checkout.

soulful salvation
a rest of quiet peace; not
exasperation.
Still, I wonder what happens
to our dreams after we die?

Perhaps they live on,
in the hearts and minds we touch,
then eternity.
Or disappear like the wind,
ideas whose time never came.

All is illusion.
so say the masters of Zen,
and whispers the wind.
Monkey Mind clings to what’s “real”
while life passes by in zeal.

Our earthly moment,
gestation for mind and soul,
to transcend mere time.

 
 

________________

 
 

devouring time
underneath the work ethic
wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Toss a coin into a pond,
the ripples subside quickly.

That which glimmers bright
quietly fades from our sight,
we race the sunset.
Full throttle, going nowhere –
What remains? An empty shell.


________________


It has come to this:
An ad on a vomit bag.
Is nothing sacred?
Sacred cow branding?
Or designer-stigmatas?

Open your hands and hearts,
Brand all with love and kindness,
lest they wander lost.
Besides, emetophobes won’t…
I repeat, won’t read puke bags.

Suggestive powers,
A greasy pork chop and fried octopus,
from dirty ashtray.
These are mental images,
to cure one of mal de mer.

Yet, on second thought
one might not regain sea legs
while eating frog’s legs.
And speaking of splayed legs,
we’re covering quite a spread.

jumping through mind hoops
e.e. cummings comes to mind;
humor of Mark Twain
Whole lotta jumpin’ go’n on
In Calaveras County.

Sliding through worm holes
Ol’ H. G. Wells comes to mind;
Brakes would be handy.
Invisible man flees scene,
hoping someone will see him.

Twain is consarned wry,
“Such happy rascality”,
is his catchphrase child.
Left to fend laughs for itself,
in his novel “Roughing It”.

Or Aldous Huxley,
Seer of socialist folly,
Eyeless In Gaza.
A voice for Albert Hoffman
or at least his Problem Child.

Aldous knew O’Keeffe
typed books at Kiowa Ranch
under Lawrence Tree
Look up! Reach toward the tree top
but don’t forget the journey.

A naughty dream date,
Aimee Semple McPherson,
and Sinclair Lewis.
She was Sharon Falconer,
penned in “Elmer Gantry”.

Another Sinclair
was also interested,
He was an Upton.
Then there was Pete Seeger whose
ballad belied her scandal.

‘Twas Seeger’s refrain,
that “the dents in the mattress
fit Aimee’s caboose.”
and bared the dented psyche,
of our “modern” pop culture.

they’re turning in graves
What’s with Dylan sings Christmas?
he does what he wants.
And much like a rolling stone,
‘becomes a complete unknown.

disjointed puzzle
Springsteen’s Santa comes to town
all dressed in bright red
Hark! The Big Man’s ho-ho-ho’s
Crack The Boss up near the close.

Lady Greensleeves sings
‘Twas the night before Christmas –
hot broadside ballad


________________


New Year’s Eve Blue Moon
cookin’ up the black-eyed peas
always takes me back
Lawd, thas’ whole lottah peppah,
this etouffee gonna hurt.

need that New Year’s luck –
in the North, it’s pork loin
sauerkraut in tow.
Comfort food takes time and love,
so keep stirring and we’ll drink.

Oh tiny bubbles,
like the kiss of a hot fist,
you knock me out cold.
Milk goes with chocolate cake,
champagne, with everything.

Milk lovers unite!
milk fluffs the mashed potatoes
wraps the egg in nog.
How about slow-cooked grits?
A hominy homily.

All GRITS learn to love
hushpuppies fried in hot grease
not a dog in sight
“What are grits?” asks a Yankee.
Honey, it’s like hot ice cream.

Southern scratch biscuits,
then, there’s the red-eye gravy
smothering the plate
‘Jes add a chonk of cornbread,
and a ‘lil “Who Shot Sally”.

Lawd I am hongry,
‘Looks like the rooster dies tonight,
Chicken on Sunday.
Not if Foghorn Leghorn crows,
Or Looney Tunes Barnyard Dawg!

Oh Creme Brulee,
Immortalized in menus,
struck down by the spoon.
How fallen are the mighty,
The weapons of chefs perish.


________________


haiku, senryu, tanka, & renga


Part II of community poetry — the nature of renga. Year two of our Daily Haiku explored the intimate connection between haiku, senryu, tanka, and renga. In gratitude to all who participated, we wanted to post the year in renga. Renga is a form of collaborative poetry, written in community.

At the beginning of the year, the poetry leaned toward haiku, senryu, and tanka; renga was slow to develop. By year’s end, the renga spanned weeks, and the trend moved to longer strands of poetry. For that reason, we are dividing a year of renga into two posts, in the order they were written.

You can find helpful links, definitions, and read more about the relationship between the poetry forms in haiku 2 (one-a-day). Deep bows to Natalie and Clark. And to the poets who visit red Ravine, and help keep poetry alive.

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