Gratitude, Mandala Series, Minneapolis, Minnesota, November 2016, photo © 2016 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.
Posts Tagged ‘giving thanks’
Posted in Art, Gratitude, Holidays, Mandalas, Personal, Practice, Seasons, Silence, Spirituality, Structure, tagged creating mandalas, end of the year rituals, giving thanks, inspiration, making a Gratitude List, seasonal rituals, Thanksgiving, the practice of gratitude on November 28, 2016| Leave a Comment »
Posted in Body, Bones, Dreams, Gratitude, Holding My Breath, Holidays, I Don't Remember, Life, Personal, Practice, Relationships, Silence, Wake Up, Writers, Writing, tagged addition & subtraction, break from the rat race, community as witness, continue under all circumstances, daily practices, deep listening, don't be tossed away, giving thanks, listen to the Black Dog, make positive effort for the good, marry the night, refuge in the Wind, taking a break, Thanksgiving, the gift of time, the value of being unplugged, using time wisely, yearly practices on November 25, 2011| 13 Comments »
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.
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
Posted in 25 Things, Art, Bones, Gratitude, Holidays, Mandalas, Practice, Seasons, Spirituality, Structure, tagged creating mandalas, giving thanks, gratitude for community, Gratitude Journals, Gratitude Mandala, making a Gratitude List, the power of Gratitude, the practice of gratitude on November 28, 2010| 15 Comments »
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 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.
-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
Posted in Art, Doodling, Everyday Art, Fotoblog, Gratitude, Holidays, Practice, Seasons, Structure, Vision, Writing, tagged altered journals, altered Moleskine journals, Art playdates, doodles, giving thanks, Gratitude, gratitude for community, Gratitude Journals, Happy Thanksgiving, how to make a Gratitude Journal, inspiration, journal art, keeping a journal, lotería art, making a Gratitude List, making art, Moleskine art, Thanksgiving holiday, the power of Gratitude, the practice of gratitude, ybonesy by Roma Arellano on November 24, 2010| 17 Comments »
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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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.
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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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
Posted in Body, Bones, Culture, Death, Family, Gratitude, Growing Older, Haiku, Holding My Breath, Home, Life, Memoir, Obituaries & Epitaphs, On the Road, Personal, Photography, Place, Practice, Relationships, tagged BlackBerry shots, cell phone photography, cemeteries, family history, Georgia, Georgia pines, giving thanks, granddaughters, graves, honoring life, honoring the past, honoring those who came before us, importance of grandmothers, influence of grandmothers, living the answers, living the questions, living with the past, researching memoir, The Grandmothers, The South, things I learn from my family, trees, visiting graveyards, writing about grandmothers on November 24, 2009| 15 Comments »
Georgia Pine Over My Grandmother’s Grave, BlackBerry Shots, Augusta, Georgia, October 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.
gravestones outlast the living
markers for the dead
all that’s left behind
a letter, a horseshoe ring
lasting love and luck
face of a pine tree
warm thoughts of the Grandmothers
hover over me
It’s the time of year when I think often of family and loved ones, living and dead. One of the highlights of my October trip to Georgia was visiting my Grandmother Estelle’s grave for the first time. I did not know her well, had not seen her since I was 2 years old. I knew none of my blood father’s family. It was synchronicity when in 2007 my paternal aunts ended up in the insurance office of my maternal uncle and asked the question, “Are you related to….?”
It happened to be two weeks before Mom and I were scheduled to travel to Georgia. After 50 years apart, the question’s answer led them to me.
It turns out, my paternal grandparents are buried down the hill from my maternal grandparents in the same cemetery. I’ve been visiting the cemetery with my mother for years and never knew. These photographs are of the pine tree that grows high over their graves. My Aunt Annette told me that my grandfather loved pine trees. So do I. When I was a child, I would spend hours sweeping pine needles, the scaly bough of a branch curving to make just the right shape, a prairie-style home.
The thing about cemetery trees is that they are many times old growth trees, never to be cut. I like to think this pine is a guardian for my grandparents, its long roots extending deep underground, branches tall and proud (reminds me of another pine in New Mexico that I’m quite fond of, the Lawrence Tree).
There is more to the story — a letter, an obituary, a ring. Perhaps another post. This week I give thanks for all who live, and those who have come before.
Skin Of A Pine Tree, Pine Trunk In The Graveyard, My Grandmother’s Grave, Cemetery Pine, BlackBerry Shots, Augusta, Georgia, October 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.
Post Script: the day Mom and I met my aunt at the cemetery, we also visited the Gertrude Herbert Memorial Institute of Art in Augusta. That’s where my Canon G6 battery died; I had forgotten to charge the backup battery. These photos are all taken with the BlackBerry cell phone camera.
-posted on red Ravine, Tuesday, November 24th, 2009
-related to post: haiku 2 (one-a-day)