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Posts Tagged ‘daily practices’

Fire 3 - IMG_20150308_131427 copy5




We sat in a circle around a ring of snow, inside a ring of stones, inside a ring of kindling. It was damp outside. The moon rose in a foggy black and white photo over the house to the east. The fire felt good on my bones. After a while, my feet got cold but it didn’t seem to bother me. I saw something hop and trot, then stop. Is that a fox? I said. It is, it’s coming our way. The fox stared and came right for us. It walked close to the fire, headed to the next yard, and circled back. Susan said she had put out a lamb shank earlier in the day. The fox must have smelled it. The shank was gone. The fox came close to the spot where it had been and dug up a bone out of the snow, crunched on it. The fox was small and petite. A month or so ago, I saw a fox at Lake Como near the Conservatory over lunch. I watched it for a good fifteen minutes before it disappeared into a grove of trees. After the petite fox left, we saw another fox out on the pond in the distance. Then we heard them barking to each other across the ponds that are Twin Lakes.

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-haiga & excerpt from today’s writing practice posted on redRavine, Sunday, March 8th, 2015
-Part of a yearly practice to write a short form piece of poetry in my Moleskine journal once a day for the next year. Related to post: haiku 4 (one a day) Meets renga 52

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Thirsty

Thirsty, Droid Shots, Minneapolis, Minnesota, January 2015, haiku & photograph © 2015 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


-haiga posted on redRavine, Saturday, January 10th, 2015
-Part of a yearly practice to write a short form piece of poetry in my Moleskine journal once a day for the next year. Related to post haiku 4 (one-a-day) Meets renga 52

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Top Of Minnehaha Falls, Droid Shots, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2014, video © 2014 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.




Top of Minnehaha Falls

Twilight turns the water to mist.
Mosquitoes hum, a cool breeze
grazes the hair on my arms.

Laughter echoes off steep walls,
the three of us pull close
for one last photograph.

“You are lucky to have her,” she told me.

White winter night,
bundled beneath down comforters,
the warmth of your skin sizzles against mine.

silent monarch wings –
top of Minnehaha Falls
drowning in summer




-posted on red Ravine, Sunday, January 4th, 2015
-related to post haiku 4 (one-a-day) Meets renga 52

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The gift of time. Rocking in a white porch chair, drinking Stash Fusion Green & White tea. My stomach is full on residual Thanksgiving, a small feast for two (plus two cats). I am grateful for those who checked in on red Ravine while I took a break. It started as a short week away from the Internet, and turned into boots on the ground living—time for Liz, for my brother’s visit to Minnesota, for Mr. StripeyPants and Kiev. I checked in with my family on Facebook once in a while, but rarely fired up the laptop during the week. It was refreshing to take time to think, to sit, to be.


Unconnected.


I stopped all my practices for a month, including red Ravine. Since 2001, I have done at least two yearly practices, one writing, one visual, each beginning in January and ending in December. Writing practice, haiku, haiga, renga, BlackBerry 365, the Great Round mandala series; I stayed true to them. I honored them. This year it felt like all I was doing was trying to keep up with the many practices I had taken on, my agreements to others, my commitment to myself to keep going for a full year. I made it January through September. It was freeing to choose to take a break rather than force myself to continue.

But I miss this place, this creative space. Something I learned when I stopped doing my practices was that a part of me went into hiding. I am not happy when I am not taking photographs, writing, painting or drawing. Last night Liz and I watched A Very Gaga Thanksgiving. Lady opened up in a short interview. She said her song, “Marry The Night” was about the moment she made a choice to give her all to music. Right or wrong, up or down, her first relationship would be with the music; she would be true to herself.  It is another form of befriending the Black Dog, the dark shadowy side that comes with deep exploration of your writing or art.

When I listened to her, I knew she was right. It takes great sacrifice to marry the night. And part of the ritual is to know when you need a break. Near the end of the silent workshops with Natalie in Taos, there is a short meeting with her in the round. We sign up on a sheet of paper taped to the zendo wall. Five or six at a time, we slow walk to the cabin at Mabel Dodge Luhan, take our shoes off, sit in a semi-circle, candles lit, in silence, and Natalie goes around and checks in with each of us. Almost every time, there is one person who says they don’t want to write anymore. Natalie inevitably responds, “Then don’t write. Take a break. See if you come back to it.”


Those words are as important to me as the day at my first workshop when she told us to plan on at least two years of Writing Practice before stopping. Oh, and don’t quit your day job.

If you are listening to your teachers, good advice sticks in your craw, and rises to the surface when you need it. The list of things Natalie has taught me over the years would fill a notebook; I bring each one out as I need it, and practice those I believe will make me a better writer, a better artist, a better person. Sometimes I fail. And that is okay, too.


At the one month mark away from my practices, I started adding them back in, one at a time. I added Writing Practice first and continue to write with my online group. I am grateful they have stuck with me. After a little over two months away, the next thing I am adding back into my practices is red Ravine. I have noticed that I am happiest combining writing and art; red Ravine is a good venue for the collaboration and synthesis that happen between the two. I want to look at restructuring, infusing the past with a burst of new life.

It is Thanksgiving weekend and I have much to be grateful for. I will take time to make my yearly gratitude list and begin work on another mandala. I have not been tossed away. The work continues. Positive effort for the good is the best practical response to a hungry world. I am grateful to be back on the page, thankful you are still here. The silence doesn’t scare me anymore; it is filled with light. The wind bristles and becomes her own wingman, sailing to the next stop. The best I can hope for is a gentle landing.


-posted on red Ravine Friday, November 25th, 2011, Thanksgiving weekend, an edited Writing Practice

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Detail from ybonesy’s journal, 2007




I’ve been wanting to do a post on the power of journals for some time now, ever since I read this article in the May/June issue of Poets & Writers. It’s about Brian Singer’s 1000 Journals Project. Here’s the gist: one thousand journals are sent into the world. Some are sent to friends. Others are left in public places. The journals land in the hands of artists and writers and average Joes; they’re filled and when they’re complete and available for viewing, we discover each page in each journal is a piece of art. Collaborative art.

Bald Tuesday, from ybonesy’s writing journal, 2007I love this idea that people are making art separately and together out of something they find. What I love even more is that it’s something as ordinary as a journal. Nothing to fret about. No worries about perfection. It’s a page in a notebook. After you paint on one page, there are a whole bunch of pages left just waiting for you to take your pen and scribble. Doodle. Do whatever you want. And when that page is done, there’s another, then another.

This idea of “journal as art gallery” is enticing because it is so impermanent. Nothing to be framed and hung. Nothing to publish or sell. Always another page, and every page your own.

During a year-long writing intensive with writer and teacher Natalie Goldberg, I kept a journal to track my daily practice. All of us in the intensive did. Days we practiced—writing, sitting, or walking—we noted what we did and for how many minutes. We also recorded days we skipped.

Skipped Wed from ybonesy’s writing journal, 2007I loved the journal part of our commitment to the intensive. I liked picking out my book. I settled on something mid-size and thick yet flexible, with a bright red vinyl cover. The pages were graph paper. For me the journal signified witness–witness to the fact that I showed up. It added structure to what was already a year of discipline.

Something broke free in that structure. I suddenly found myself doodling like I did when I was younger. I’d open my journal while at work sitting in a meeting and I’d draw the fellow giving a presentation, or I’d draw my hand. I got into inking typefaces, serif and san serif. Flowing, flowery cursive. Tight, narrow lettering.

I played with the headers for each day of the week. Sometimes I stamped them out with alphabet stamps I bought for the girls at a paper store. Or I wrote the days in a loose freehand.

I threw in color. Some days if I went somewhere interesting, like the time I took Dee and Em to see the Mexican Modern exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts in Santa Fe, I included a memento. The journal reminded me to be present, and any time I was cognizant of this effort to be present, I documented it as practice.

Another page from ybonesy’s journal, 2007Once the intensive was over I stopped keeping track of my writing. I stopped recording my creative process. I still have my journal. I still have notebooks for my writing, and I have a painting notebook as well. I haven’t stopped writing or painting or doodling, although I have lost the structure. I’d like to get back into recording my practice, maybe once I settle into the new house. Once my life becomes sane again.

I’m struck by how for me the journal became a creative medium in and of itself more than simply a record of my work. It was like verb and noun all rolled into one.

I’ll let you know when I get back into it. Maybe we can start it up together. In the mean time, if you have a chance to keep a journal—a hard-bound book in which you draw, paint, make collage, and write—give it a try. Make it be about more than just the journal itself. Log your progress toward practicing your art. I think you’ll enjoy the process.

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