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Posts Tagged ‘joy in the simple things’

Joy. My heart is full of joy. Even though much of December has been a struggle. Joy is connected to giving. To the Holiday Spirit. I feel joy when I am connected to people who are close; I feel joy when I am alone, writing, doing art, sitting in silence. I live in the times between. Joy is not temporal, not limited by time or possessions or Earthly matters—like human happiness seems to be. Joy rises above the everyday slothing about. When I remember what I am grateful for, I feel joy. When I see the Downy Woodpecker at the suet feeder, I feel joy. I feel joy when I am out shoveling the driveway at 8pm, stop to stand in the snow and stillness, view the December Moon rising in the dark.

I remember a time when I was afraid to feel too much joy, or let it grow too big in my life. I was afraid of what would be left behind when it vanished. I waited for the other shoe to fall. I feel more connected to a Higher Power these days. I believe in what I cannot see. Joy lives in the invisible places. Tears that well up when I watch a sappy movie; the director’s vision, a tugboat of joy. Things no longer bring me joy. They might make me happy for an hour, a few days. But I’m not in the mood to accumulate things to fill the Void.

Driving through the snowstorm this week, I started thinking about the future. A solid Cancer/Taurus combo, I dwell mainly in the Present or the Past. The Future, it’s not here yet. I have to sit down and make myself plan. That’s where a yearly practice comes into play. Scheduling time in the studio, writing retreats, or art events. Goals, deadlines, something I can shoot for in the creative fields. What I was thinking about on my drive along snow packed roads and layers of black ice, is that if I live a full life, I may only have a good 30 years left. Then I started to panic. I have so many books I want to write, so many photographs I want to take, so much love. How will 30 years ever be enough?

The thought process continued over lettuce, ham & cheese, past the Grain Belt sign on the Northeast Gateway, and around the bend where the Mississippi River crosses the Plymouth bridge. Then it came to a screeching halt. There are no guarantees that I will live to the end of the day. I am planning for the future; I don’t know if I will even be alive. I still need to plan. But it’s not where I’m going that matters. It is where I am. The panic subsides. This morning I am too serious. Yet the Joy — she’s still there.

No matter what happens, I feel like I have already lived a full life. During one of my 10-year, single jags after art school, I started a timeline of my life. I drew a long thick line on a yellow parchment scroll, began with the year I was born, and started marking in significant life events. The scroll is rolled up on a shelf in my art studio. I want to take it out and look at where I left off. It’s been at least 7 years, maybe longer, since I added a new cairn. It’s a way that I honor my life, the fact that I have walked on the Earth. I am only a small dot on the planet, loved by a few, invisible to most. It’s easy to get lost. The visual teaches me to pay attention to what has passed; it informs the future.

Joy is a day of making art, writing a story, working on photographs, posting on red Ravine. Joy is not fleeting like happiness. It’s always there, waiting for me to recognize its face. Joy is not what numbs me. Joy is the first strawberry on the vine, the Strawberry Moon, the Winter Solstice, Summer in Minnesota. Joy is a film that moves, a tumble in the hay, a Stripeypants in the hand, a Kiev curled in a ball next to me on the couch. Joy is a loving partner, a new dream, the center of the labyrinth, along the edges, too. Joy is a handful of October leaves, tumbling down a mountain path. Joy is a Giant Moon rising over the Bitterroots, half in Shadow. Joy is Light.


-related to Topic post:  WRITING TOPIC — JOY

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Joy is the giant snowflakes that fell last Thursday night after a solid day of rain. The temperature dipped below freezing and the water turned to slush then white fluffy flakes. Dee ran outside and took photos with her iPhone, she later showed me the flakes, which looked to be about the size of big white apple blossom clusters.

Joy is the bed Jim made for us on the patio the night of the lunar eclispe. I’d fallen asleep on the living room couch, the girls in their beds, and he roused us all from sleep. Come on out, he said, I have a cozy spot for you to lay down. We piled into the sleeping bags that he’d placed on a mattress, then he covered us with a Pendleton blanket and another blanket, we were warm and for about a half hour, up to midnight, we could see shadow creep across the lower right hand corner of the moon.

Joy is the woman who I saw standing in front of Walmart with her Salvation Army bell and kettle, she was thin, wore a red sweater and red Santa hat, but other than that she had no costume, and I admired her courage to stand in front of the automatic doors as shoppers walked all around her, in and out, in and out, paying her little mind. She shook that bell, smiled at everyone and said Merry Christmas. What drives a woman my age to be on that side of the shopping experience?, I wondered and wished we could trade places so that I could ring and remember that this was the true meaning of Christmas.

Joy is the Christmas lights last night, a pale blue, the kind you know have been around for decades, each year more of the blue paint on the bulbs chips away or fades until what remains is a ghost of the color covering the white light, an uneven string of blue, blue-white, white, all around the roofline of the house. Those are my favorite lights although I love any place that’s lit up, this is, after all, the season of light.

Joy is our Christmas tree, it’s a live one, or rather, cut, and we don’t usually go in for buying cut trees but we got one this year, I like the way it’s not perfect or symmetrical, how big vacant spots open up between boughs and even after I hang three or four ornaments in them I still see plenty of empty space.

Joy is sitting in a cafe with friends, drinking too much coffee, not thinking about what you still have to do or not do, just being present to the moment, Joy is Taos in December, sit walk write, just being, just sitting, just writing.

Joy is the few minutes I have left in this write, the sound of the space heater, the taste of coffee with soy milk, the Christmas cards I got even though I once again didn’t get mine out on time, Joy is the misshappen tamales I made with Mom and Bobbi and the girls, they will be the laughing stock of Christmas Eve, and see?, that’s Joy.


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IMG00809-20101203-1613 auto

Joy Is, Joy Is Not, BlackBerry Shots, Minneapolis,
Minnesota, December 2010, photo © 2010 by
QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


The days are dark, the nights long. Five days until Winter Solstice. Holidays draw us to friends and family, gift giving, service work. I want to go inside. Reflective heat, ambient light. Darkroom blues. I have spent hours under red safelights in black and white darkrooms. What color is Joy?

At times when there is the least light, we need to find ways to tap more joy. I look to the small things. Sunrise, Tuesday morning. Snowstorm, Friday night. Digging out. Digging deep. An old recipe. A new flame. Joy takes many forms. Clay dangling from red string. One new liver. Two hibernating black bears. Three things I am grateful for.

Some are afraid to feel the full strength of Joy. The intensity makes them fearful. What if Joy leaves in the middle of the night. How will I fill the hole.

What brings you joy?

Joy is a giant taproot of swirling lava at the center of the Earth. Joy is a burning ember in the middle of an indigo night. Behind every Black Dog, Joy sits like the mountain.

Write I feel joy at the top of your Writing Practice notebook. Or sink into the underbelly — I don’t feel joy

Joy is, Joy is not. Ten minutes, Go!


-posted on red Ravine, Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

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What's Under My Fridge - 297/365

What’s Under My Fridge – 297/365, BlackBerry 365, Golden Valley, Minnesota, October 2010, photo © 2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


On October 17th my brother had his third liver transplant. By all accounts, it is a miracle. And something that’s hard to wrap your mind around. It all began with a text: 10/17/2010 @ 9:48am — they called me with a liver. going to Philly now. Will let you know if they will be doing the operation. I’ve been trying to write a piece about it ever since. Eleven nights have passed; the day to day ekes away energy and time.

If you put all the days together, well, that’s a lifetime.

We think we can prepare for what lies ahead, try hard to be in control. Sift, collect, let go, wait. Sift, collect, let go. Wait. Yeah, we spend a lot of time waiting. The best laid plans fall hard. Somewhere between collect and let go, there are surprises. Laundry spins, rattling the floor, defying gravity. Water and fire boil, cooking spaghetti for dinner, but only as fast as the barometric pressure will allow. No amount of wishing can make the dust bunnies go away.

You would think that would be disappointing. You would be wrong. Vacuum under the desk, behind the piano bench, above the paper towel holder. Slide the giant green bottle brush under the fridge again and again and again. Thick rolls of cotton batting dust slide easily over freshly mopped floors. But what are those brilliant points of light, gleaming stars through the Pigpen fog?

Exactly 26 Mr. Stripeypants balls. Silver, gold, and the primaries, blue, red, green and yellow, lost to the swipe of the mighty Pants paw. He loves the small ones with the soft sparkling spikes. He would keep me playing fetch for hours every morning if I didn’t grab the purple lunch pail and fly out the door, late for work. Liz has a big heart for the animals. She carefully peeled and plucked the dust off of every tendril, washed each felt ball with warm water, and sat the bunch on the counter to dry.

Life can change in an instant. You can’t come back the way you came. It’s the simple things that make the day. They are as big as the miracles that make me a believer. In something bigger and better on the other side. Are there dust bunnies in heaven? I like to think they hop to a different beat.

My brother came home from the hospital on Tuesday, Frankenbelly 3 in tow. His 4:25 text said: on the turnpike – ETA 6:45 to 7:00 PM. I’ll eventually write the piece about his transplant. Tonight culminates in the midnight ramblings of a harried woman….and a plane ticket to Pennsylvania. ETA November 9th, 11:28am.


-posted on red Ravine, Friday, October 29th, 2010 – 1:45am

-related to Topic post: WRITING TOPIC — MY REFRIGERATOR, yellow sock haiku

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