Friday, January 15, 2010

What I'm Grateful For As the New Year Gets Underway

First of all, I'm grateful for the man I share my life with, my husband Ben. A scholar, an editor, a publisher, all to the highest degree. Also, my best friend and my strongest supporter. And funny and fun. Who could ask for more?

Of course, the fact that he looks 20-30 years younger than he really is has never made me happy, especially when folks ask if he's my son, but I've come to terms with it over the years. I know that skinny neck's going to wrinkle like a turkey's one of these days, and I'll get the last laugh then.

Next are my children. This is my youngest son, who's brilliant and snarky and sweet. I'm just as grateful for my oldest son, who's handsome and smart and generous, and my daughter, who's bright and funny and creative, but their photos are on the dead desktop, not this laptop. (The hard drive survived so I haven't lost them, but I can't access them right now.)

Next comes our Plott hound, Dyson, rescued just before the ax dropped. He's turning out to be a wonderful companion.

But I'm also grateful for the many years we enjoyed the company of our wonderful Shar-pei/husky mix, Mina. She was loyal and loving and brave and protective and the sweetest dog I've ever had, and we'll never forget her.

I'm grateful this year for having the chance to meet and get to know Sandra Cisneros. She came to Kansas City as the highlight of our most successful Latino Writers Collective reading series ever. And then later in the year, I had the chance to spend more time with her at...

Macondo! Another thing I'm so grateful for in my life in 2009. This writers workshop and writing community founded by Sandra is an incredible mix of great talent, huge fun, focused intention, and always compassion, if not outright love. Becoming a member this year was a true privilege. This final shot of Macondo 2009 missed some people, unfortunately, but all these people are incredible, and I'm truly grateful to have gotten to know each of them.

This photo is of my Casa-Hearth-Diaspora writing workshop at Macondo. Led superbly by Ruth Behar and Marjorie Agosín, these multi-talented people worked on each other's manuscripts with such care and caring that it was a great blessing to be in their company. They embodied the Macondo spirit, and they are each precious to me.

(Note: This list is not really in any order because I haven't mastered moving and placing photos in Blogger. In fact, today I can hardly upload them!) This photo is of the Konza Prairie around Manhattan, Kansas.
Last year, I had the opportunity to go back to my old high school in Manhattan (the "Little Apple"), and reconnect with long-lost classmates. I'm grateful for that opportunity and their continuing presence in my life.

Always, always I'm grateful for my Latino Writers Collective familia. Here are a few of us in Chicago at our reading at LatteOnLincoln. Front and center is another person I'm grateful for, Carlos Cumpián, terrific editor, poet, and friend to the Collective and to me.

Of course, another thing I'm thankful for is the publication of my book, Heart's Migration, this past year--and for the very positive receptions it received. Much appreciation to Tia Chucha Press for publishing it and giving me such a beautiful book.

Another thing I am grateful for is receiving the Elvira Cordero Cisneros Award from the Macondo Foundation. This award is "for exhibiting exceptional talent, a profound commitment to their chosen form of expression, and dedication to the work of nurturing the creativity of others." That kind of recognition seldom comes around, and when it does, it means so much.

One of the other things I'm thankful for is the Midwest Voices and Visions Award from the Alliance of Artists Communities and the Joyce Foundation. I will start my month at Ragdale in a few weeks, and my creative heart, which has been buried lately under nonprofit and grant business and minus-degree hills of snow, is hungry for that dedicated time to do my own work and connect again with the deep well of intuitive inspiration at my core.

So goodbye to 2009. You were very good to me. I hope 2010 will be even better.

What are you grateful for as the new year gets underway?