Archive for the ‘Labyrinths’ Category

MANDALA 3 2011-08-06 15.54.26 TRIM c

Labyrinth Mandala At The Aquarius Full Moon – 30/52, based on a Yantra from 18th Century India, BlackBerry 52 – WEEK 30, July 25th, 2011, photo © 2011 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Medium: Drawn by hand with a black Staedtler archival pigment ink Fineliner on Canson Mix Media XL Series 98lb drawing paper. Colored & collaged with Caran D’Ache NeoColor II Water Soluble Wax Crayons, Sharpie Medium Point Oil-Based Opaque Paint Markers, Sharpie Fine Point Marker, archival photo corners. Photograph taken with a Samsung DROID.

I am sitting still with the Full August Moon at my back. She is high in the sky and refuses to yield to darkness for the the annual Perseid meteor shower. I am undaunted. I know the light from these stars, guessed to be fragments of Swift’s Comet from 1862, will shoot across the heavens, even if I can’t see them in the night sky. As above, so below.

Aquarius the Waterbearer seems like a good sign for a Full Moon (progressive and objective with a crystal clear antenna-like reception of universal intelligence). When I opened the Boundary Waters calendar I bought at the LilyPad Picnic this year, it said that the August Moon was called Miinike-Giizis by the Ojibway — the BlueBerry Moon. The August Full Moon is also known as the Drying Up Moon, the Grain Moon, the Green Corn Moon, and the Yellow Flower Moon, depending on what part of the world you may live.

The Sabbats Almanac claims that the seasonal Lammas Full Moon in Aquarius reflects back to us our relationship with the collective. It is a good time to focus on community, groups, and our hopes and wishes for the future. Aquarius is also the sign of the rebel or iconoclast, so themes may arise that focus attention on unusual issues or people. At the individual level, it’s an auspicious time to notice what we have to offer to our communities and what we might release in order to fully participate.

Two good questions to ask at this time:

1) How do we allow our own need for space and independence
to not hold us back from connecting more with the group?

2) What can we do to create more space and independence
for ourselves so we aren't sacrificing too much of our
individuality for the sake of the collective?

The Full Moon shines the light of awareness on the answers and helps us to understand patterns and dynamics that we may need to release during the dark Moon cycle to come. To celebrate the individual within the group, it is a time to show gratitude for the qualities that each member brings to the table. How does each person in your community shine? Maybe they have a generous heart, excellent communication skills, clear boundaries, or a good sense of humor. Tell them in an email. Call them and leave a voice mail. Mail them a card. The three-day window around the Full Aquarian Moon creates space to show gratitude for the intricate pieces that make up the circle’s whole.

Circles within circles. I created this mandala last weekend after a full and busy month of July. Some days were filled with joy; others pushed me to the limit. All are necessary to grow beyond who I am. I have been studying the circle archetypes of the labyrinth and the mandala for years. A few weeks ago, Liz bought me a birthday present, a book of Sacred Symbols edited by Robert Adkinson. I was immediately drawn to the chapter on the Mysteries and a mandala from 18th century India, a Yantra for the cosmic form Vishnu.  The script around the circle is from the Dhammapada and states:

In the light of her vision
she has found her freedom:
her thoughts are peace,
her words are peace,
and her work is peace.

Peace. It’s right there, yet just beyond our reach. On a final note, if you follow skylore, there is a tidbit about Perseus at EarthSky: the Perseid shower commemorates the time when the god Zeus visited the mortal maiden Danae in the form of a shower of gold. Zeus and Danae became the parents of Perseus the Hero – from whose constellation the Perseid meteors radiate. Perseus, you are beyond sky worthy, a flying, not fallen hero — I’m counting on you.

-posted on red Ravine at the Full August Blueberry Moon, Saturday, August 13th, 2011, with gratitude to Lotus for her labyrinthian inspiration

Lotus and I will continue to respond to each other’s BlackBerry Jump-Off photos with text, photography, poetry (however we are inspired) for the 52 weeks of 2011. You can read more at BlackBerry 52 Collaboration. If you are inspired to join us, send us a link to your images, poetry, or prose and we’ll add them to our posts.

Labyrinth Mandala At The Aquarius Full Moon (Detail) -related to posts: Ears Still To The Lonely Wind — Mandala For RabbitFlying Solo — Dragonfly In Yellow Rain, Shadow Of A Dragonfly, Dragonfly Wings — It Is Written In The Wind, Dragon Fight — June Mandalas, EarthHealer — Mandala For The Tortoise, ode to a crab (haiku & mandala), Eye Of The Dragon Tattoo

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LAB 2 2011-06-25 18.29.26 AUTO

Walking The Labyrinth, Droid Snapshots, Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, June 2011, photo © 2011 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

The July Sun boils. Tomorrow may hit 100 degrees. It’s the heart of Summer in Minnesota, when deep Winter dwellers finally allow themselves to emerge from their cabin cocoons to frolic in the grass and spend intimate time with family and friends. The shadow of the July Thunder Moon will rise at 3:54am on July 1st. This New Moon Partial Solar Eclipse in the watery depths of Cancer offers an opportunity to enhance and transform relationships, and release outdated emotional patterns that might be holding us back. This is especially true of family relationships, since the sign of Cancer is rooted in home and family ties.

The partial eclipse also opposes the expansiveness of the planet Pluto, emphasizing the need for transformation of old patterns and routines. The Midsummer eclipse is a time of healing wounds, and setting intentions that allow us to work with old habits in new ways. There will be surprises that will jolt us awake and leave an opening for the clarity we need to move forward.

Be safe and have a good July 4th Holiday. Venus transits into the sign of Cancer on July 4th, calling out the feminine. Walk a labyrinth. Pay attention to the Sun, Stars, Moon, and Sky. The Earth will love you for it. Here’s an eclipse ritual I found in Llewellyn’s Sabbats Almanac. I thought it might be a good way to dive into the eclipse of a Midsummer night’s dream.

 ∞ Cancer Eclipse Ritual ∞

Think of a particular relationship or issue from the past that has been lingering or holding you back. Write a letter to the person (or people) involved that relays your honest feelings and emotions. Describe how you would like this situation or issue to change and what you need to feel better about it. Then, on the day of the New Moon, go to the ocean or find a stream, lake, or other body of water where you can be relatively private. Read your letter aloud to the spirit of the water and ask this spirit to help guide your message to the right place to allow you to heal, transform, and be free of these feelings that you have been holding on to.

-posted on red Ravine, Thursday, June 30th, 2011, Eve of a New Moon in Cancer Solar Eclipse

-related to posts: ode to a crab — haiku & mandala, Mandala For The 5th Element — The Role Of Ritual In Our Lives, World Labyrinth Day, Winter Solstice — Total Eclipse Of The Moon, winter haiku trilogy, November Frost BlackBerry Moon, Winding Down — July 4th Mandalas, Squaring The Circle — July Mandalas (Chakras & Color), The Shape Of July — Out Of Darkness Comes Light, Here’s To Rain On The 4th Of July

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Mandala For The 5th Element - 10/52

Mandala For The 5th Element – 10/52, BlackBerry 52 – WEEK 10, March 13th,
2011, photo © 2011 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Medium: Drawn by hand with a black Fine Line DecoColor Opaque Paint Marker on Canson Mix Media XL Series 98lb drawing paper. Collaged & colored with Faber Castell 6 PITT Artist Brush Pens, DecoColor Glossy Oil Base Paint Markers, Portfolio Water Soluble Oil Pastels, Caran D’Ache NeoColor II Water Soluble Wax Crayons, Sharpie Medium Point Oil-Based Opaque Paint Markers, Lineco Archival PVA Adhesive, yellow felt letters, metal fastener, archival card stock paper. Photo taken in streaming sunlight on a BlackBerry Tour.

At 6:20 CST on March 20th, 12 hours and 9 minutes of light welcomed Spring to the Midwest. Seasonal rituals are important to our spiritual health. Honoring cyclical changes in the seasons is one way to stay grounded. We delved into daily and superstitious rituals in one of the first Writing Topics on red Ravine. Animals engage in rituals to feed themselves and hibernate, to define and defend their territories; humans do, too. Rituals comfort me in times of loss and uncertainty — walking a labyrinth, creating a mandala, or celebrating the Spring Equinox.

My first response to Cityscape: Behind The Gray in the BlackBerry 52 collaboration with Lotus, was that it captured a late winter mood. The second time I viewed the photo was March 11th, after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Everything changed. I saw Every City, Every Town in her photograph — a skyline, a parking lot of white cars, minutes away from being tossed on the sea like toys. I felt helpless, sad for the collective suffering, for the families living through the devastation.

It was about that time that I learned about terma in Tibetan Buddhism — physical objects, texts, or ritual implements that are buried in the ground (Earth), hidden in a rock or crystal, secreted in an herb or tree, hidden in a lake (Water), or up in the sky (Air), elements that contain sacred teachings, accessible to all when we need them (Essence). Mandala For The 5th Element followed; the center is the symbol for Essence, also symbol for the Sun.

One night at the studio, while collaborating on Obsoletion Blues, an art project for Strange Attractors, I ran across an old article I had copied years ago at MCAD — The Art of Ritual. I read it, remembered the Akashic Records (akasha is a Sanskrit word meaning sky, space, or aether) — source of mystical knowledge, the collective unconscious, the history of the Cosmos. Perfectly in sync, readers began commenting on the same subjects in our daily haiku post. From annie:

I first came across termas when I read Thinley Norbu’s book ‘Magic Dance’. He describes, poetically, exotic tales of the ‘five wisdom dakinis’ (earth, air, fire, water and space/ether). These five dakinis manifest the feminine wisdom energy, bringing strength, power and transformation to our lives. They are known collectively as ‘Sky Dancers’ who dance in limitless space and are the writers of the termas, which they conceal until the time is right for them to be found. Their form of writing is ‘subtle and mysterious’ and the being who finds the terma must call on the five wisdom dakinis to help them interpret it (they also reside in the mind). I like the similarities of the elemental archetypes of Buddhism and Celtic Paganism. It brings it closer to home.

The Five Elements



Summer, Youth, Midday, Full Moon, Intuition

ELEMENTAL CORRESPONDENCES: Flames, Red, Point, Combustion, Energy, Passion, Desire, Inspiration, Beginning, Energy, Individual

fire, flame, candles, lamps, fireplaces, torches, matches, sparklers, fireworks, triangular shapes
Foods: hot-spiced foods, cayenne, salsa, Tabasco, curry, hot foods & drinks
Clothing: light and warm
Scents: sharp, tangy smells like cinnamon, odors from a fire

darting, rapid movements
lighting a fire or candle, burning or sacrificing

reds, oranges, yellows
bright, direct light, steady like the noon sun, or a flickering fire, or candle-light

arpeggios, staccato rhythms
the crackling of a fire, violins and other high-pitched strings, soprano instruments
inflaming speeches, stating an intention, invocations, appeals to the Spirit



Spring, Infancy, Dawn, Crescent Moon, Thinking

ELEMENTAL CORRESPONDENCES: Bell, Incense, Blue, Line, Gas, Mind, Communication, Study, Planning, Merging, Creation, Mental, Relationships

air, wind, round shapes, feathers, fans, incense, pinwheels, books, pens
Foods: light desserts, puff pastry, champagne, sparkling drinks
Clothing: light and free-fitting
Scents: clear and delicate scents

quick, light motions
lifting up or offering up
speaking or reading

sky blue, blues, whites
bright but indirect light, increasing in intensity, electric lighting
the morning sun

sound itself
clear, high-pitched tones; rapid, precise, light rhythms
the rushing wind, rustling sounds
wind chimes, flutes and woodwinds, rattles, bells or drums
speech and laughter, words that direct thoughts, appeals to reason and logic



Autumn, Middle Age, Evening, Waning Moon, Feeling

ELEMENTAL CORRESPONDENCES: Cup, Silver, Plane, Liquid, Feeling Emotion, Integration, Process, Cycle, Deepening, Feeling, Family

OBJECTS: water, cups, liquid containers, crescent shapes, seashells, starfish, fish, dolphins
Foods: libations, clear broths
Clothing: smooth, flowing textures of materials such as silk
Scents: rain, sea air, water lilies

fluid, graceful, rhythmic motions
actions that denote giving and receiving aspects of water: pouring, drinking, washing
dancing, swaying

blues, blue-greens, silvers
filtered, indirect light, gently changing

melodious, flowing
rhythmic chanting, rushing water, waves, rain
vibraphone, harp, rhythm section, alto pitch
poetry or singing, speech that appeals to the emotions



Winter, Old Age, Night, New Moon, Sensation

ELEMENTAL CORRESPONDENCES: Disc, Cube, Earth Tones, Solid, Body, Affection, Application, Product, Ending, Manifestation, Action, Group

OBJECTS: solid, sturdy objects of cubes, globes, squares, stones, metals, crystals, wood
Foods: breads, grains, meat, fruits, mushrooms
Clothing: coats, capes, rough mottled textures such as wool
Scents: heavy, musky odors, the smell of earth, forest floor, baking bread

stillness, slow, steady deliberate motions
lying, sitting, squatting
digging, planting harvesting
eating, ingestion, digestion
moving to each of the four quadrants of the circle

earth tones: browns, blacks, russets, olive greens, yellows
darkness or dim, steady light

silence, the pause between sounds
low, deep tones; slow steady rhythms
bass instruments, drum, fiddle, oboe, tuba
speech that refers to body, the world, actions



Everything Is Connected, The Ethers, Life Force, Energy That Permeates All of Nature, Wholeness, Unity of Self, the World

ELEMENTAL CORRESPONDENCES: Circles, Mandalas, Altars, the Sun, Labyrinths, Centers, Balancing Points, the Bindu (point of origin and return)

OBJECTS: central altar, candle, lantern, lamp, cauldron, the ritual circle

standing in the center of a circle or labyrinth
holding hands in a circle, prayer chains
recognizing life force energy — prana, chi, ether, Akasha, Spirit, God, Tao (to name only a few)

brightness, light itself, the speed of light

sounds of pitch higher than human hearing
solitary clear soprano note, a choir’s single voice, monks chanting
instruments with a lingering echo, Tibetan bells
in speech, giving thanks for what has been received from Spirit through invocation


I posted excerpts from that old MCAD library book (The Art Of Ritual) containing lists of objects, foods, actions, smells, and sounds to remind me to engage all of the senses, and in turn, each of the 5 Elements. Keep in mind that directional correlations and colors may vary from culture to culture, depending on what books you reference.

What rituals help you to heal or feel connected to the world at large? How do you integrate human suffering and pain into day-to-day life. What symbols help you to heal and grow, to come to terms with death and loss, to create balance in your life. For me, art and writing open doors to other worlds

The essence of ritual is that something done in the physical realm is related to the higher worlds. This may be a simple gesture of the hand or an elaborate ceremony. It can be working consciously in everyday life, so that quite mundane actions become full of meaning, or a carefully designed ritual acted out for a specific occasion…Ritual is the mode of formalizing action and giving it not only meaning, but creating a contact with other worlds.

—Halevi, School of Kabbalah

Mandala For The 5th Element (Detail)

-posted on red Ravine Monday, March 21st, 2011

-related to posts: Functioning Ego — August Mandalas (Goethe & Color), Flying Solo — Dragonfly In Yellow Rain

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At The Labyrinth’s Center, BlackBerry Shots, Winter Solstice,
Minneapolis, Minnesota, December 2009, photo © 2009
by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


bright Winter Solstice
Our Lady of Guadalupe
burns at the center


Post Script: Last night we broke bread at a Winter Solstice celebration with friends. Bear made an appearance; we burned last year’s Yule Tree. At the end of the drumming, a Great Horned Owl called out from over the pond through the silence. Last night was the first time people walked the labyrinth our friends created in their front yard over this year’s Spring and Summer months. It was a beautiful Winter evening. In the days before Solstice, they shoveled snow from the path; the way through the cairns was clear. What we didn’t know until we arrived was that Our Lady of Guadalupe glowed at the center. I’ll write more about the creation of their labyrinth in future posts.


Winter Solstice Fire, Walking The Labyrinth Solstice Night, BlackBerry Shots, Winter Solstice, Minneapolis, Minnesota, December 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


-posted on red Ravine, Winter Solstice, Monday, December 21st, 2009. Happy Birthday Grandmama Della Elise. You walked through the circle with us last night.

-related to posts: Virgin Mary Sightings, Winter Solstice — Making Light Of The Dark, “K” Is For Kramarczuk’s, Runes, Oracles, & Alphabets, voyeur haiku, haiku 2 (one-a-day)

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Wisdom Ways Labyrinth, Saint Paul, Minnesota, April 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Wisdom Ways Labyrinth, Saint Paul, Minnesota, April 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

It’s the first Saturday in May. Happy May Day weekend! Hope you got out and enjoyed World Labyrinth Day, “a global event intended to bring people from all over the planet together in celebration of the labyrinth as a symbol, a tool, a passion or a practice.” A few weeks ago, two of our friends began building a labyrinth in their front yard. I told them to be sure and document the process and to register their labyrinth at World-Wide Labyrinth Locator.

World Labyrinth Day is designed to inform and educate the public, host walks, build labyrinths, make labyrinth art and more. Part of the celebration is to invite others to “Walk as One at 1,” setting off a rolling wave of labyrinth walking as the Earth turns by walking at 1:00 p.m. in your local time zone. In Minneapolis, Central Lutheran Church had their doors open to walk their labyrinth from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The labyrinth in the photograph is the Wisdom Ways Labyrinth near the Carondelet Center at the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, Minnesota. The Carondelet Center, built in 1912, is a stately brick Beaux Art landmark that originally served as the Novitiate for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. A few years ago, I walked the labyrinth there over the course of a year, a practice in all seasons, rain or shine. In April, I returned to walk after a long absence. It felt like coming home.

Here’s what the Wisdom Ways Center for Spirituality says about the Wisdom Ways Labyrinth:

You are invited to experience an ancient walking meditation by walking our outdoor 77-foot diameter replica of the labyrinth in Chartres Cathedral in France. Walking the labyrinth is an ancient spiritual act and a physical meditation that has been rediscovered in our time. Anyone from any tradition or spiritual path can walk into the labyrinth and, through reflecting in the present moment, benefit.

The pattern of this labyrinth is a replica of the great 42-foot labyrinth embedded in stone within the floor of Chartres Cathedral in France, southwest of Paris. There is evidence that the Chartres labyrinth was first installed between 1194 and 1220. It was used in sacred devotion to take the place of a pilgrimage to Jerusalem for those unable to make the actual trip. The center is the goal and is shaped like a six petal flower.

A labyrinth is an ancient circular pattern found in many cultures around the world. In its classical form, this sacred path has one concentric circular path with no possibility of going astray – unlike a maze, there are no dead-ends or false trails in a labyrinth. Labyrinths have been found in almost every spiritual tradition in the past 4000-5000 years in such areas as Egypt, Greece, Italy, France, England, Sweden, Peru and North America.

Red Converse All-Star Walks Labyrinth, Saint Paul, Minnesota, April 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Carondelet Center In Saint Paul, Saint Paul, Minnesota, April 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Labyrinth Bench Press, Saint Paul, Minnesota, April 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Circle Bench, Saint Paul, Minnesota, April 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Red Converse All-Star Walks Labyrinth, Carondelet Center, Labyrinth Bench Press, Circle Bench, Saint Paul, Minnesota, April 2009, photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Labyrinths on red Ravine

-posted on red Ravine, World Labyrinth Day, May 2nd, 2009 with gratitude to Lesley for alerting us to World Labyrinth Day

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By Lesley A. Goddin

Spirit walkers. Moving slowly leaves an energy impression on the path. December 2008 © photo 2008-2009 by Lesley Goddin. All rights reserved.

Spirit walkers, moving slowly leaves an energy impression on the path, December 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by Lesley Goddin. All rights reserved.

Slow or fast.

This is suddenly the question of the century for me.

I was born slow. A brown-eyed, curly-haired Taurus—stubborn, plodding (yes, it really says that in horoscope descriptions). Maybe lingering and savoring, which is why we like food so much.

My childhood was given to many daydreams and meanderings, and walks in the woods, among the poison ivy and honeysuckles and magic of light falling through green leaves. Looking and sketching. Slow thinking. One thought cascading down upon another like water tripping down levels of a rock fountain. Nourishing.

But as time went on, slow fell out of style. It was FAST! FAST! FAST! Multitask—no time for lingering or even being present. In my 30s, I actually remember sitting in my corner office on the 35th floor of a building at 52nd and Broadway in Manhattan, thinking, “I am like a well-oiled machine.” I was proud of that, proud of being able to zing from one activity to another; excited by life, excited by my ability; buzzing with importance.

Golden nuggets. As I linger in the fading light, the rocks around me turn to gold. December 2007 © photo 2007-2009 by Lesley Goddin. All rights reserved.

Golden nuggets, as I linger in the fading light, the
rocks around me turn to gold, December 2007, photo
© 2007-2009 by Lesley Goddin. All rights reserved.

Now I am 51. And the fast life is losing its appeal. I moved to New Mexico 14 years ago, but kept up the pace. Except now fast includes email and texting and cell phones and being online with two email accounts and several social networking sites opened at once, as I sit in my home office and work remotely editing an industry trade magazine. Fast means keeping up with it all—answering emails the second they arrive; keeping my train of thought; not finding time to declutter my house or compound the oxidation that has formed on my 14-year old car hood.

This weekend, my body rebelled. It put a knot in my chest and a gasp in my breath and jelly into my legs. I know this syndrome—overloading my nervous system with stress and busyness and then trying to clear it out with intense exercise. My wise body wasn’t having any of it. Dreams of walking and yoga and deep breathing filled my head and my online research confirmed that was just what I needed. A return to the slow.

Solar lit labyrinth. The labyrinth awaits my slow, meandering pace. July 2007 © photo 2007-2007 by Lesley Goddin. All rights reserved.

Solar lit labyrinth, the labyrinth awaits my slow,
meandering pace, July 2007 photo © 2007-2009
by Lesley Goddin. All rights reserved.

So, this is my mission now. To live in the slow. To BE slow. To BE. To savor and linger and walk just a touch slower than I know I can; to do one thing at a time; to give up worry and hurry for Lent. I am remembering who I am; I am snorting through my Taurus nostrils and stamping my bull hooves and pawing the ground in stubborn slowness and defiance of the world’s ever-increasing pace.

I am mad as hell and I am not going to take it any more—except I am not mad. I am sane. I am wise. I will meander through the cobblestone-and-gravel labyrinth I helped build at a local church and let God talk to me.

Tonight, out for my slow walk at dusk, I asked for Divine direction. Across the street and up in the brown foothills, movement along the trail caught my eye. A huge deer, chocolate brown against the mocha dusty trail moved with grace, white rump flashing. Then another and another—seven in all. I stopped, stood smiling, watching their meandering climb, joined by a bicyclist to witness the miracle and share small words, all a gift of choosing to be slow. And I got my answer.

Pronghorns. Not the deer I saw in the foothills, but slow walking got me close to these pronghorn antelope in the Petrified Forest in Arizona earlier this year. January 2009, photo © 2009 by Lesley Goddin. All rights reserved.

Pronghorns, slow walking got me close to these
pronghorn antelope in the Petrified Forest in Arizona
earlier this year, January 2009, photo © 2009
by Lesley Goddin. All rights reserved.

Lesley Goddin has been writing and journaling since her first diary at age 11, and drawing and sketching since she could hold a pencil. Her penchant for observation led to her becoming a paid professional as a trade journalist, publicist and currently as an editor for TileLetter, a trade magazine for tile contractors. She has also written for Guideposts, Walls, Windows and Floors, Floor Covering Weekly, and Low Carb Energy.

Her inspired writing life centers around topics of Spirit, including several sermons and an ongoing e-newsletter called Footsteps, for members of the labyrinth community in Albuquerque, an ancient walking meditation. She is currently working on a book of labyrinth-inspired essays called Letters from the Labyrinth.

-related to Topic post WRITING TOPIC – SLOW OR FAST?

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Ghost Ranch Labyrinth, with prayer rocks under Kitchen Mesa, Ghost Ranch, NM, August 2, 2008, photos © 2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

with right foot forward
in step with the searing heat
we walk in circles

prayer for healing
prayer to Kitchen Mesa
slow walk of courage

-related to posts haiku (one-a-day), Labyrinth Walker, and labyrinth haiku.

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Swirl, Minneapolis, Minnesota, March 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.  Swirl II, Minneapolis, Minnesota, March 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved

Eye Of God, Minneapolis, Minnesota, March 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.  Eye Of God II, Minneapolis, Minnesota, March 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Dust Devil, Minneapolis, Minnesota, March 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.  Celtic Cross, Minneapolis, Minnesota, March 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

I’m cutting it close on the March mandalas! In a few hours, it will be April. Though you would not know it by the 9 inches of blizzard outside the window. The Great Round: Stage Three mandalas follow one of my favorite forms — the labyrinth.

These have been the most fun for me yet. And to my delight, Liz began hand-drawing her own mandalas in March. She has a natural sense of design and color, and creates intricate patterns with line detail more delicate than the templates.

Again, I used Crayola markers and colored pencils. Liz used Fimo modeling clay (for the snake), Uniball gel pens, glitter glue, and Crayola markers. The Stage 3 mandalas are about exploring the body and its surroundings, and organizing the information into a map of reality.

According to the book Coloring Mandalas by Susanne F. Fincher, The healing benefits of the labyrinth as mandala are:

  • creating flexibility & openness in healing old wounds
  • communicating with the Ancestors
  • contacting animal Spirit Guides
  • encouraging active searching & exploring that is not goal-directed
  • translating information from the ego into symbolic language that communicates messages from the unconscious to the Self

FIRST PAIR:  The first mandala pair is designed after M.C. Escher. They are the same mandala, photographed from different angles. The challenge of Stage 3 is to show up and keep walking, even if you don’t know final outcomes and goals.

SECOND PAIR:  The second mandala pair is also the same mandala, shot from different angles. The center rings were added in the process of coloring (the center space on the template is empty white space). Stage 3, the Labyrinth, includes experiences of divergent realities and nonordinary states of consciousness. Shamans cultivate their abilities to move in and out of this stage at will.

THIRD PAIR:  The two mandalas in the 3rd pair are different templates, the Spiral and the Celtic Cross, often designed and used by medieval Irish monks. In the Celtic knot, what appears to be a single endless meander is actually two separate pathways, crossing many times but never joining each other.

Spring Dance, Minneapolis, Minnesota, March 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.  Chromosoma, Minneapolis, Minnesota, March 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Diptyph, Minneapolis, Minnesota, March 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. Turtle Bread, Minneapolis, Minnesota, March 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Spring Dance, Chromosoma, Diptych, Turtle Bread, hand-drawn labyrinths created by Liz, Minneapolis, Minnesota, March 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

The four mandalas above are the beautiful hand-drawn labyrinths that Liz created for The Great Round – Stage 3. She agreed to let me photograph them from her sketchbook and post them with the March mandalas. The coiled snake below is 3-D, made out of clay. You can see names, titles, and more about each one if you click on the image.

Mandalas have been used in Christian churches in the form of stained glass windows and labyrinths since the 12th century, and their centers are often occupied by a mystic rose representing Spirit coming into matter. Walking the labyrinth is a metaphysical pilgrimage, and many travel to Chartres Cathedral in France to walk and meditate on the medieval labyrinth there. The grass labyrinth I walked last year at Sisters of Carondelet in St. Paul is based on the Chartres design. More mandalas to come in April!

Snakey, Minneapolis, Minnesota, March 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.     Snakey, Minneapolis, Minnesota, March 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.     Snakey, Minneapolis, Minnesota, March 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.     Snakey, Minneapolis, Minnesota, March 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

-posted on red Ravine, Monday, March 31st, 2008

-related to posts:  Coloring Mandalas, The Void – January Mandalas, Bliss — February Mandalas, and WRITING TOPIC – CIRCLES

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I thought about getting a tattoo. In my 40’s. I changed my mind at the last minute. It was going to be a lynx. Yeah, the puffy jowls that look like Kiev’s. When you brush her hair back, her face is thin and pointy like Chaco’s. But naturally, it’s wider at the edges than it is at the top. All fur. The girl is all ebony fur and bushy tail.

The tattoos, I don’t remember why I changed my mind. Pain. Or the idea that I might have to live with something just a little bit too long. An image, any image, I might get sick of it over time. I could not find inspiration for this practice. I think it’s because I am tired. I went to the History of Tattoos link, the Tattoo You link, too. The most surprising was the one from The Shining, a tattoo of Jack Nicholson peeking through the door he has just chopped to shreds with an ax, spouting, “Here-rr-ee—rrr—ee’ssss, Johnny!”

Then there was the tattoo of the Holy Mother, all across the broad of a woman’s back. That was impressive. No, I didn’t get the lynx. But I still feel close to her mysteries. The full body tattoo is a signature of classic Japanese tattooing. I didn’t know that before. Women as well as men go under the needle. I’ve always thought that women were able to bear more pain. There is childbirth. I’ve never gone through it. And I never will. But the stories I have heard. Big babies, 13 pounds pushing torque through a small contorted opening.

I’m lost in words. In thoughts. I’m tired. The day was full. But not of tattoos. I can’t land on a pinprick to the skin. My mind wanders out to the crow on the branch of an oak. The pre-spring sunset from a lonely distance. The Fed Ex man stepping up to the door at 3pm. The way my back aches at a certain time of the day, way down in the lower back. Hormones. Maybe the position of the Blue Moon.

Pants crawls into a box tattooed with black ink. A Sony Vaio, a turquoise green screen, a game of Mahjong. I was never good at games. I bought a box of tattoo Band-Aids once. I think I still have a couple of them tucked away in a plastic cylinder I carry in my sling pack, along with a short tube of Neosporin. The black panther swirled in curves across the porous plastic – Band-Aid, yeah, I’d stick her on my paper cuts to ease the drone of a corporate day. I tried those little tricks of the trade, to lighten it up for a serious team of data entry processors.

For some, laughter works. Others, well, they don’t want to buy all the guff. Serious is the way they prefer their jobs, their relationships. I got to the part in Main Street where Carol finds out what the townspeople from Gopher Prairie really think about her. They are serious people who would rather talk about milking the cows or the sloshy mud on Main Street, rather than the last time they laughed or had fun. Midwestern blood.

I remember the Rolling Stones, Sticky Fingers, the Tattoo You cover. I wasn’t a big Stones fan. The Beatles were more my style. Keith Richards was in a Saturday Night Live sketch last weekend. He was advertising leather bags, was it Louis Vuitton? But the news anchor could not figure out which was the bag. Poor joke, I know. That’s what I’ve stooped to on a late Monday evening, tired, with an aching back. This is what comes out of a tired mind.

I don’t have a tattoo. And I probably never will. I think it takes a certain kind of “guts” that I probably don’t have. I do appreciate a good sketch. What I noticed when I checked out the Tattoo You site, is that some tattoo artists are better than others. More detail and color. Just like real life.

I colored another mandala last weekend, the second in the March series. It relaxed me. Liz has taken to drawing her own, surprising me with the accuracy, proportion, and line detail she is able to draw freeform. I could not draw a straight line if my life depended on it. Thank goodness it never has. Even with a ruler, I am straight-line challenged. I’m more of a curve person.

The last mandala was an early labyrinth. The one before that, a Celtic knot. Even the Celts were big fans of the tattoo. All those strings tied up in dyed knots. The journey is like that. A craftless series of heartfelt decisions. I like to think I have choices. That life is a series of daily decisions: what to say, what not to say, how much to reveal, what to cut, how honest should I be. I have not revealed much in this Writing Practice. Some days that’s what happens. The bear eats you.

Too many words floating serifs to the wind. I like to think of sheets to the wind as my grandmother’s laundry, cool blue summer on a sweaty aqua breeze. But truthfully, I don’t remember my grandmother ever hanging out the laundry. It was Mom, rows and rows in the backyard in Pennsylvania, strung line to line through humid afternoons. The damp end of the day. When fireflies lit up the hill at Hershey. And I in my Mod Squad straight hair, faded bib overalls, sans tattoo, rolled one more time down the lawn with the capital H.

-posted on red Ravine, Monday, March 10th, 2008

-related to Topic post, WRITING TOPIC – TATTOOS

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Mandala Coloring (Beginner's Mind), Minneapolis, Minnesota, January 2008, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Coloring Mandalas, Minneapolis, Minnesota, January 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.   Bliss, Minneapolis, Minnesota, January 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.    The Roundness Of Fire, Minnepolis, Minnesota, January 2008,photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved    The Void, Minneapolis, Minnesota, January 2008,photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.     Coloring Mandalas, Minneapolis, Minnesota, January 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Coloring Mandalas, A Few Snapshots, Minneapolis, Minnesota, January 2008, all photos © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Relaxing Saturday winter night. Liz and I are coloring mandalas and watching a documentary on Beat Generation poet, Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Liz bought a book on Coloring Mandalas by Susanne F. Fincher. It contains 48 sacred circle designs for a means of entering the Circle of Life.

There are many ways to approach mandalas. We’ve decided to follow the structure of the mandalas of The Great Round, as identified by American art therapist, Joan Kellogg. There are 12 mandala forms associated with each stage of The Great Round. We’re starting with Stage 1, the Void, in January. Stage 2, Bliss, in February. Stage 3, Labyrinth, in March. Well, you get the idea.

Here’s an excerpt from the book about creating mandalas:

Creating a mandala begins with drawing a circle. It can be as simple as the circle a child draws or as complex as the sacred images created by Tibetan monks. Mandalas arise from the compelling human need to know our own inner reality, to align this knowing with our body’s wisdom, and to awaken in ourselves a sense of being in harmony with the Universe.

As Lama Nubpa Chodak Gyatso has explained, mandalas are “manifestations of the lucid radiance of being.” The word mandala, from Sanskrit, the ancient language of India, translates as “sacred circle.” In Tibetan the term for mandala is kyil-kor, which means “center and circumference.” In the Eastern tradition mandalas also suggest a complete cycle, such as the rituals that comprise a liturgical year.

-from Coloring Mandalas, For Insight, Healing, and Self-Expression by Susanne F. Fincher, Shambhala Publications, Inc., 2000

The word mandala also translates as “cycle,” as in a prayer cycle or a song cycle built around a single theme. A Labyrinth is a mandala. So is a Medicine Wheel, the 12 hexagrams of the I Ching, and the Buddhist concept of emptiness. What does the circle mean to you. Is it openness? Emptiness? Is it inviting, full, safe? Or scary, as in the empty circle of the Void.

As the Full Wolf Moon fades and we head into the next New Moon, it is a good time to begin something new. The New Moon symbolizes new beginnings. At the New Moon, you plant the seeds of what you want to come to fruition at the Full Moon. And then, start all over again. The Ouroboros. Yes, the Ouroboros is a mandala, too.

It’s time for me to start coloring. The show on Ferlinghetti is over. We’ve moved on to a PBS show on cheetahs. It’s fitting to be meditating on mandalas while listening to Lawrence read at City Lights Bookstore. I’ll keep you posted as we progress with our mandalas. We’d love to hear anything you’d like to share about your own experiences with these sacred circles.

-posted on red Ravine, Saturday, January 26th, 2008

-related to post, WRITING TOPIC – CIRCLES

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Circles, I’m popping circles into my mouth. I’m addicted to Trader Joe’s bucket of miniature chocolate chip cookies. I couldn’t figure out why they tasted so good. It was Liz who piped up, “Oh, it’s the butter…” when she read the label after dinner.

Circles in cubes, the rubber bottom of a stainless steel coffee cup, the “O” in coffee, the round plastic tubs of binder clips, primary colors, the paper Caribou coffee cup that holds the pens and Sharpie Accents in florescent yellows and greens. The round knob on the navy gray lighthouse on the mouse pad.

Circles connect.

Watching a show about brains. Men’s brains. Women’s brains. They said men are linear and women are circular. It was the Good Question on one of the news channels. Do men like tech gadgets better than women? Do they buy more tech gadgets than women?

It might seem like it. But that’s all changed. Women are within a few percentage points of men in their cravings for high tech. The survey asked women, “Would you rather have a diamond or a new I-Pod or Palm?” Women are choosing technology, growing up with it. And if you really think about it, technology allows them to stay better connected and that’s really what circles are all about – connection.

The metal sprinkler head with grooved sprockets above my head. The smell swiftly pouring out of the slate paint can on the floor outside the cube. You can get high from that smell. I had to walk outside; my eyes are burning.

The roundness of Sun. Moon. Mercury and Mars. The roundness and curves of a woman’s body. The spokes on my first bike, with two playing cards, Aces, hearts & spades, clothes-pinned to the wheel. Wait, how did we do that? Were they clothes-pinned to the wheel or the spoke? I can’t remember now. The picture that comes up isn’t accurate. I can’t keep typing and scrutinize the image in my mind at the same time. So I keep writing.

Labyrinths are circles. But they are not mazes. You don’t get lost in a labyrinth. It’s impossible to get lost in a labyrinth. The way in leads to center. The way out leads to an open door.

The Blistex DCT lip balm in an orangish pink container next to the keyboard. The mole above Liz’s upper lip. The underbelly of a sow. The eyes of Mr. StripeyPants; Chaco’s are slitted and green, not as round. And Kiev’s are more oval. If I think about it.

And that’s what writing topics do, force you to think about the world in circles or squares or ovals. In do’s and don’ts and what if’s.

The wrinkled trunk on the ash tree outside the deck. The number 10. The sold sign in the window. The Goodyear tires on the ancient Camry. The barrel of a loaded gun…I don’t own one. But my friend wants to go to the shooting range and try our luck on the targets.

That reminds me of the day my mother shot the glass top off of some kind of antenna outside my grandfather’s house. Geez, she must have been only 20 something. What was I? Maybe 8 or 9? The guys in the family dared her, said she couldn’t shoot. Guess what, she could. And I wonder if she remembers it? Or did I make it all up?

We drove by my grandfather’s house last time I was in Georgia. The house is in S.C., horse country. But there it stood, just the way I remembered it, but older. Round, tall pecan trees and the long porch with wrought iron rails. Houses in the fifties were long and sprawling. The more land you had to spread out on, the better. It seems like they shoot up these days. But I am drawn to the wide open sprawling spaces and simple forms of Scandinavian Design and teak and birch and cherry, all those woods that are probably endangered now.

I like sleek but comfortable. Not much frill but strong. I like a strong that is round, not a strong that is hard-bodied and inflexible. Now I’m thinking of the Buddha belly that is large and round, the stomach of a Laughing Buddha, and just at that moment, the circular clock ticks its last tock, the battery is dead.

Not to worry, I saw a Sundog in the sky yesterday, ice crystals circling the Sun, impossibly animated and frozen in time. More energy on the way.

-posted on red Ravine, Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

-related to Topic post, WRITING TOPIC – CIRCLES

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Skin Of A River Birch, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007,photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Skin Of A River Birch, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

haiku (one-a-day)

This post was created for a very specific purpose: writing a haiku a day. Some of our readers have expressed an interest in haiku. And some have left haiku in our comments on various posts. I wanted to create a space for our readers to come back to, anytime they wanted, and drop in a daily haiku.

Last year for the 4 season Writing Intensive in Taos, we read Clark Strand’s, Seeds from a Birch Tree: Writing Haiku and the Spiritual Journey. It is a book I go back to often to support the practice of writing.

Clark Strand is a former Zen Buddhist monk. In 1996 he left his position as senior editor of Tricycle: The Buddhist Review to write and teach full time. In Seeds from a Birch Tree, he describes haiku as the following:

A haiku is a seventeen-syllable poem about the season. Arranged in three lines of five, seven, and five syllables, and balanced on a pause, a haiku presents one event from life happening now. However much we may say about haiku, its history or its various schools, it is difficult to go beyond these three simple rules: form, season, and present mind.

loving its whiteness
I walk around the birch tree
to the other side

haiku practice

When we did our post a few days ago on the release of Natalie Goldberg’s new book, Old Friend from Far Away, one of our regular readers, breathepeace, made several comments on haiku as a practice:

Natalie introduced me to haiku poetry. This year, I am committed to write one each day (or more if I choose).

Haiku is a precise way of working with words and I have found that it does lead me to other writing: poems, essays, etc. I’ve also learned that it helps me to focus on detail, finding just the right word (with the right number of syllables!) and, yes, it is a bite-sized writing practice. I’m happy to hear others exploring and playing with the haiku form.

According to Clark Strand, all you need to write haiku is some familiarity with the form and a simple notebook:

The correct way to use a haiku diary is just to be very free and open. Don’t set a single format. Don’t organize the book five haiku to a page or limit it to poems and dates, excluding prose. You may even find that you jot down an occasional phone number or appointment in its pages when no other book is handy, or — if you are an artist — a sketch of some interesting scene.

Write down your haiku just as they come to mind, without too much deliberation over whether they are good or bad. Improvement takes place slowly, so set them down the way they come and stay alert for the next opportunity to write.

Skin Of A River Birch, August 2007, Minneapolis, Minnesota, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.          Skin Of A River Birch, August 2007, Minneapolis, Minnesota, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.          Skin Of A River Birch, August 2007, Minneapolis, Minnesota, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.          Skin Of A River Birch, August 2007, Minneapolis, Minnesota, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

haiku walk

In the summer of 2006, Natalie took us on a field trip to some of her favorite places at Ghost Ranch, New Mexico. We wrote, swam, and took a haiku walk up Box Canyon. For me, Ghost Ranch was one of the most inspiring trips of the year. Natalie had us follow Clark Strand’s outline for walking and writing haiku:

In the simplest form, writing haiku is closer to collecting shells than searching for the proper word. When you go to the shore to collect shells, you just walk along in a relaxed way, now and then stooping down to look at something interesting or beautiful. Sometimes you pick up a fragment for its shape or color, and sometimes a fully formed shell. If you take a daily haiku walk in this same spirit, soon you will find that haiku come all by themselves.

Loosely, Strand’s haiku walk goes something like this:


  • make sure your purpose is only to walk, to be outside in nature
  • you’re not trying to get somewhere, or even to write haiku
  • relax into the feeling of being outdoors
  • notice weather, plants, animals, but keep walking


  • let your body loosen and relax
  • let nature displace the ordinary day to day concerns
  • take time to pause over things that strike you as beautiful
  • pauses create space in your life for something to enter

end (beginner’s mind)

  • let that something come in
  • take your notebook out of your pocket and carry it in your hand
  • the space you created in your life a few minutes ago now becomes the space to write a poem

Last year, I walked a local labyrinth in St. Paul to write haiku. But it can be as simple as walking around your neighborhood. Or walking around the block. After a while you won’t need to structure your walks anymore. You’ll know the right moment to write.

haiku – looking out, looking in

Haiku as a poetry form provides a way to be present to the outside, in order to go deeper within. Japanese poet, Matsuo Basho, is known for his haiku. In the year before he died, he wrote the following verse:

Chrysanthemums bloom
in a gap between the stones
of a stonecutter’s yard

Near the end of Seeds from a Birch Tree, Strand speaks of Basho’s greatest work, The Narrow Road to the Deep North:

Haiku, in many ways the most outward, most concrete, and most perpetually grounded form of poetry, is also the most inward. It requires a lot of inner work.

Basho titled his greatest work Oku no Hosomichi (The Narrow Road to the Deep North). Basho traveled a long way north on a journey with his student and fellow poet Sora and kept a diary of his travels. The diary contains some of his most famous haiku.

The way north is the way within. This kind of understanding comes when we realize that in looking out, we are also looking in. We learn it by looking carefully at the world.

Basho said:  There is one thing which flows through all great art, and that is a mind to follow nature, and return to nature.

Skin Of A River Birch, August 2007, Minneapolis, Minnesota, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.          Skin Of A River Birch, August 2007, Minneapolis, Minnesota, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.          Skin Of A River Birch, August 2007, Minneapolis, Minnesota, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.          Skin Of A River Birch, August 2007, Minneapolis, Minnesota, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Feel free to drop a haiku into the comments in this post, any time, day or night. Tomorrow, or 52 days from now. It doesn’t matter.

Write a haiku a day for a month. If you wish, break structure and form. Be playful with your writing. With practice, you’ll find your way home.

-posted on red Ravine, Tuesday, January 15th, 2008

-one writer’s review of Seeds from a Birch Tree, Hyperion, 1997 (including more haiku from the book)Tony Lipka on Clark Strand’s Haiku of Mindfulness

-short bio of Clark Strand: World Wisdom

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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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 Edges, Thursday, June 7th, 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

-Edges, labyrinth in Martinez, Georgia, June 7th, 2007, all photos © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

It was 96 degrees at 5pm. Mom and I did a quick geocache in Martinez, Georgia, right off of Columbia Road and Buckboard Drive. Geobrother, who has logged more than 1000 caches, gave us a few tips. I have barely learned to use a GPSr. Mostly I depend on Liz who easily navigates geocache land with stealth and grace.

When we got to the cache site, Church of Our Savior stood in the middle of a drive around circle. Cars were parked on theLabyrinth, center detail, Martinez, Georgia, June 6th, 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. grass, edging their front bumpers up to the hedge. We spotted a cool resting place next to the path and grabbed a pen, handwritten directions, GPSr, and Canon gear. When we turned the corner past the hedge, there it was, a beautiful brick paved labyrinth. Mom knew it was there because she had been talking to my brother earlier. But I had not been clued in. I was gleefully surprised.

I told Mom about walking the labyrinth at Carondelet as part of my practice during the writing Intensive last year. The pattern at Church of Our Savior drew a familiar map – a medieval replica of the labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral. I couldn’t have been happier. Mom immediately spotted the high resting cache, Inward Peace, from the edge of the labyrinth. Liz will be ecstatic. It’s our first cache in Georgia.

Geobrother’s map of found caches goes all the way up and down the East Coast. Liz’s goes from East to West – Maryland all the way out to Wyoming. And now we can add Georgia. Hopefully tomorrow we’ll grab a cache in South Carolina before we leave for the far north on Saturday.

Oleander, Augusta, Georgia, June 6th, 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.For those who love labyrinths, there is a great tool out there called World-Wide Labyrinth Locator. You can type in a zip code, city, country, or state and up pops a list of addresses and descriptions of labyrinths in the area. Some have photographs and there are details of the architect and model, and whether the labyrinth is grass, brick, dirt, concrete, painted, mowed, or buffed.

We didn’t have a chance to walk the whole labyrinth this afternoon. Though I did take a few photographs of Mom winding toward center. The brick red against summer green created high-contrast beauty. The surrounding inner path was lined in oleander. Only the evergreen leaves were present but I was taken by their shape and beauty. Oleanders are also poisonous and loaded with myth and history. My mother knows all the plants down here, most which bloom in stunning and fragrant color. I have spent much of the trip asking her detail names of plants and trees.

Magnolias, miniature gardenias , crepe myrtle, mimosa, yucca, and lantana to attract the butterflies and bees, are only a Lantana, Augusta, Georgia, June 6th, 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.few. We saw a brilliant lantana yesterday when we stopped to see a home that had been in my family. The same woman Mom met last year when she brought my youngest brother down was standing outside the house, tending her plants.

“Remember me,” Mom laughed. And the woman said, “Yes, sure I do,” as she walked toward the car for a chat. She said she used to visit her own grandmother in the same house.

I asked her if I could take a photograph and she graciously agreed. When I stepped behind the chain-link fence, the squat, bushy lantana was to the left, covered in dipping butterflies and darting, fat bees. And that’s when my step-dad and mom piped up about the nickname, Ham and Eggs. I kept being amazed at their knowledge of the plants, trees, shrubs, and flowers surrounding them. It reminded me of what Natalie said about knowing the trees in her neighborhood, about paying attention to the details of our environment. It’s important to know what surrounds us in earth, sky, and water.

I felt glad my parents were in tune with the history of the land around them. And I knew they had passed that down to me. I felt joy at spending that kind of time with them. As an adult, I have come to appreciate the unpredictable and solid makings of a family. For the hundreds of times in my youth when I wanted to run the other way, there are only moments left to discover what I might have missed.

Brick by Brick, labyrinth in Martinez, Georgia, June 7th, 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Brick by Brick, labyrinth in Martinez, Georgia, June 7th, 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Friday, June 8th, 2007

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i come here often
to ponder higher learning
ice like busted glass

crinkly brown leaves glow
first bare feet of the season
away from center

cool black mud follows
the ripple of blowing hair
under secret feet

out of season wind
shadowboxing the bare elm
blending crabapple

winding in and out
green spouts under black pant cuff
gnat, a rising star

twisted shadow branch
you can walk any season
while going nowhere

juicy green center
the perimeter is dry
sweat between my legs

grubby spring tadpole
dark undertones on the lake
snap to attention

winter is over
from crumbling insanity
springs eternal life

humbled by the saints
who walked tight curves before me
moon high in the sky

talking to Louis
in lotus blossom petals
Chartres calls me home

sun hot on white face
naked feet to unthawed ground
mosquito flits by

near the end of March
how bad i need a haircut
stepping in the door

wavy grass petals
undefined by crooked lines
spikes from a spiral

tennis ball popping
off a catgut racket head
damp earth underfoot

rings of blanket ice
i miss the snowy season
the itch in my nose

lone fly buzzes by
a leaf between pasty toes
yells, “March 25th!”

I stopped at Porky’s
remembered the fire pig year
grass grows as I walk

on the edge again
a stubborn leaf pricked my sole
out came a reindeer

a woman walks near
fire red pants & orange striped top
she wants what i have

drive peace & spread love
dare it to follow you here
chasing a faux tale

part of my practice
mixes raw heat with cold fire
a mother’s last wish

-haiku from labyrinth walk, March 26th, 2007

-related to post, Spring Walk and Labyrinth Walker

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Labyrinth - March 26th, 2007, photo by QuoinMonkey, all rights reserved                  

spring walk, March 26th, 2007, entrance to labyrinth, St. Paul, Minnesota, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

-related to post, labyrinth walker

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I walked the labyrinth yesterday. It was 83 degrees in the Twin Cities on a March 26th. Shirts were off, motorcycles tuned, potholes exposed. The temperature threw me. Three weeks ago, we were knee deep in the worst blizzard in 25 years.

I took off my Land’s End quilted moccasins, stripped off my wool socks, rolled up my pant cuffs, and started walking. The cool mud under my feet grounded me. Twenty minutes to the center. Fifteen minutes out.

The journey out is always faster. I don’t know why.

I sat at the center of 6 lotus drops with undefined edges. Growing blades of grass mark the petals in other seasons. But we are only a few days on this side of Spring.

I wrote haiku into a Supergirl pocket tablet with the new Space Pen Liz gave me last week. And then I plopped on my back, legs straight out, and stared at the sky. The moon was backlit against a crisp New Mexico blue. I snapped a few photographs from my position on the ground. I had a thought of David Bowie – planet earth to moon, planet earth to moon.

I was thinking about my step-mother in South Carolina as I walked. She’s been sick, bedridden for some time. My brother called from Pennsylvania on Sunday to tell me that my step-dad wanted me to know – her time may be short. I prayed for her as I walked. But if it is her time to let go, I prayed for the strength it would take to surrender.

With the cool earth at my back, in the center of 41 feet of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet labyrinth, my brother called on the cell. I had forgotten to turn it off. I debated whether or not to answer it. But I knew what he was calling about. So I flipped open the phone.

I told him where I was. He smiled; I could hear it in his voice. We talked for only a few minutes. But the connection felt true.

I sat a few minutes longer, observing a twisted shadow in the distance across the lawn. The walk out moved quickly. I stepped. I wrote. I swerved out of the lines to let a woman pass on the rutted path. She nodded and whispered, “Thank you.”

Each toe dropped to the earth in tune. I can’t tell you how good it felt to have bare feet on earth. In the space between winter and spring, I had both feet firmly planted on the ground. It was the first time in weeks.

Tuesday, March 27th, 2007

-related to post, Labyrinth

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