News & Updates
On Aug. 9th, we had a Second Tuesdays Lunchtime Webinar that focused on "everyday retreat." We discussed the potency and potential of incorporating small, meaningful, soul-nourishing activities into our daily lives in order to sustain that liminal space sense of "retreat" even as our lives unfold as usual. A short talk was followed by discussion and sharing. This was the last Second Tuesday webinar of 2022. Join us in Feb. 2023 when we resume this free, bi-monthly event.
This year’s annual TEALarbor stories retreat (July 31 – Aug 5) was filled with creative time and experiences in the natural world. We met on Zoom for morning and afternoon sessions. Retreatants took evenings, early mornings, and the midday off-Zoom time to intentionally explore their local nonhuman communities and to build relationship with their wild neighbors via prompts offered in our group time. Using a combination of guided time in natural landscapes, various creative techniques (sketch-painting, scribble mandalas, collage, and more), and reflective opportunities (journaling, meditation, poetry, story-sharing, and mirroring), we immersed ourselves in the inner/outer landscape. By the end of the week, we had deepened connections with the nonhumans living outside our homes as well as with our own creative and spiritual lives.
I'm happy to announce that I have just been invited to be a speaker for the Fox Valley Area chapter of Wild Ones' Annual Conference in Wisconsin in January 2023!
Here's my photo, Babies, published on the EarthSky site (June 29, 2022).
On Jun. 14th, I convened the Second Tuesdays Lunchtime Webinar on the theme of "ritual." After a thirty-minute talk about what ritual is and how it can be so simply done, the very attentive participants added a richness to our hour together by sharing stories of their own rituals. I left feeling grateful and blessed by the people who showed up today.
You can see my photo, Homeward Nourishment, published on the EarthSky site (May 17, 2022).
Please check out Dandelion Feast, my latest photo published on the EarthSky site (May 11, 2022).
Several months ago I was invited to present a poster of my work at the Children & Nature Network's international conference, Inside Out!, being held in Atlanta, Georgia and online May 9-12, 2022. The gallery has just been posted online; click here and scroll down to find my poster, "Ecotones & the Inner/Outer Landscape." (Just below my poster/write-up, you'll see a green "download poster" button - clicking on this will enable another browser tab to open which offers a closer-up view of the poster so you can read it.)
I've just added three videos to my YouTube channel. All three are from recent work I've done as co-lead of the Environment Sector for the Charter for Compassion. Two are our TERRA events (a film and book discussion forum) this spring (Feb. - featuring "Symbiotic Earth" and Apr. - featuring "Laudato Si'") and the third is our Environment Sector's video that we made for Golden Rule Day (Apr. 5th). Go to the playlist by clicking here.
I'm pleased to announce that I have just had another article published (May 2022) - "Ecological Reveries: A Medley of Belonging to Land" - in Bainbridge Artisan Resource Network's online journal, Context.
A Monday morning nature moment was a gift: see and read about it on the EarthSky website (Apr. 18, 2022).
In mid-April I was invited to present on the topic of "hope" for Rolling Bay Presbyterian Church's lenten soup supper. Drawing from the varied sources of an interview with nature writer David Quammen, the church's lenten reader, and my own spiritual ecology experiences with hope, church members were provided a very practical roadmap to everyday hope.
April's Second Tuesdays Lunchtime Webinar explored the interconnections between breath, creativity, and spiritual ecology. Fortified and inspired by poetry, the practical application of breath work, an understanding of how "respirare" can inform our lives and creative process, we spent a rousing hour in discussion. Participants shared about their own professional, personal, and spiritual work as these relate to nature's breath. We are all looking forward to the next free Second Tuesdays webinar in June.
Mar. 29th and 30th, I presented Overcoming Writing Blocks via Zoom to two college classrooms in California that are using my book, Writing on the Landscape, as the course text. This was my first of two author visits I'm making to their classrooms this semester. These young people explored becoming unstuck in their writing via nature-based and creative practices, Q&A, and a discussion about what "writer's block" really means. I find these interdisciplinary sessions to be very stimulating for the students as they try out ways of writing that are not part of their everyday curriculum.
On Mar. 19th (Sat.), we had a lively Spring Equinox Half-Day Retreat with participants from both coasts of the U.S. on our Zoom call. We celebrated and contemplated the season of spring through poetry, meditation, writing, and visual art. Diving deep within through guided free-writes and intentional time outdoors in our respective locations, we identified where the buds of growth and wellbeing are hindered and helped in our own lives. Participants shared richly about their process as it shifted throughout the retreat. We each left our time together with a start on a creative project, and a renewed commitment to personal and global wellbeing.
I'm excited to be invited back to Society for Human Ecology as a peer reviewer of scholarly research about the intersections of humans, culture, ecology. I held this role many years ago when I was fresh out of my doctoral studies. After longtime membership in - and many conference presentations for - this organization, it is good to get back into hands-on academic work. Over the years, I have been accepted as a presenter at their national and international conferences (notably - in Australia in 2013, and this past October 2021 organized by our peers in Brazil). A few months ago, I was reminded of the innovative research that is being done all over the world to support vulnerable communities (human and nonhuman) who are being drastically impacted by climate change, genocide, pervasive war, water and food insecurity, lack of health care, and so much more. This organization's professionals are working toward the alleviation of these, and so much more. My task of critiquing the practitioners' research, articles, and books feels like an additional way to positively contribute to global healing.
For four Tuesdays (Feb. 15 - Mar 8), we convened the 30-Day Creative Challenge. We did, indeed, get a boost on our creative projects! I offered guidance, tips, and encouragement for the commitment to do consecutive days of creative work. Themes for the weeks included: setting manageable intentions, navigating roadblocks and antidotes, the creative life, and feeding and sustaining the inner well of creativity. Through poetry, quotations, free-writes, discussion and troubleshooting, as well as gallery shares, we each found ways to deepen our experience of creative process and output. What an inspiring time we had during this first-of-its-kind offering at TEALarbor stories. And how joyful it was to support the creative processes of those seeking greater connection with their inspiration!
How wonderful to have yet another one of my photographs selected for publication on the EarthSky website (Feb. 2022)!
The first Second Tuesdays Lunchtime Webinar of 2022 (on Feb. 8th) focused on the topic of "100 Days." We began by exploring the process of the annual "#the100dayproject" - an international creativity challenge. (This year's challenge starts on Feb. 13th and I'll be participating again!) I shared how the project was for me last year: what I learned, created, and how I shifted. I also mentioned some important transformations that can happen for people willing to engage such a process. Finally, I shared a bit about other creative projects that I have done since then, as well as the creative support TEALarbor stories is offering to folks starting next week (Feb. 15th) - the 30-Day Creative Challenge. We spent the second half hour listening to webinar attendees sharing about their own creative projects, processes, ideas, and more. After several months away from the webinars, it was a wonderful opportunity to see participants again from last year's Second Tuesdays events. I look forward to April's Second Tuesday Webinar. Watch February's webinar here.
On Feb. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, I presented Spiritual Ecology: Nourishing Practices for the United Nations' World Interfaith Harmony Week. (See my event on the WIHW website.) This interactive, nonsectarian event offered participants ways to incorporate nature-based and creative aspects into everyday spiritual practice. Through poetry, quotations, slide shows, meditation, writing prompts, readings, guided activities, and more, we explored contemplative writing, nature mandalas, and gratitude. The event was intended to support people of all faiths in finding and deepening their own relationship to self, nature, and others through peaceable, interdisciplinary practices that they create consistent with their specific beliefs. As in prior years, this event was attended by very compassionate, wise folks who made wonderfully heartfelt contributions to our collective understanding. We even discussed having a WIHW reunion later this year in which we can celebrate and deepen the contemplative, creative, Earthy connection we have ignited this week. I'm so very grateful to each of the inspiring, beautiful people who attended this week's lineup.
On Dec. 1st and 2nd, I enjoyed offering my workshop, Making Writing Easier, during my second author visits this semester to three college classrooms in California. The end-of-the-semester, weary students eagerly engaged a number of written and oral activities. I offered them reflective writing practices, a self-care review using the four components of human nature, the option to write a haiku, and guided free-writes using nature photos and objects. I also gave an interactive mini-lesson on fleshing out topics in their papers so that the thematic ideas become clear, detail-rich, and interesting for their readers; I used a passage from my book, Writing on the Landscape (one of their course texts), to illustrate my points. Afterward, their professor sent an email reporting that students had found these sessions to be: "very helpful, calming, a positive experience, and fun."
On Oct. 22nd, 2021 I gladly presented Ecotones: A New Conception of Borderlands at the Inaugural Northwest Collaborative Futures Conference. I LOVE ecotones and all that they represent, so sharing this topic with others was exhilarating. As areas of confluence in the natural world, “ecotones” are especially rich in biodiversity. Viewing ecotones as a concept, we can begin to apply their value in human contexts – in particular, life transitions or crisis moments such as seemingly-impassable conflict. This interactive presentation offered conflict resolution professionals: a definition of ecotones and examples of their value in natural settings, a means for “translating” the language of ecology into useful concepts in their professional work and personal lives, and how ecotones as borderlands can help us re-vision other types of boundaries and borders. Through guided activities, small and large group discussion, and brief case study samples, attendees had opportunities to see the specific ways in which a new vision of borderlands can invigorate and expand their work.
The Parliament of the World's Religions convened Oct 16-18th, and on that Monday I presented Love in Action: Nature-Based and Creative Compassion. This interfaith gathering of thousands of people from dozens of faith traditions and scores of nations was as compelling this year online as it was when I first attended/presented in Salt Lake City (2015). This event is always so rich with cultural and spiritual diversity! Via an online chat function on the event platform, I was able to have one-on-one conversations with a host of heart-full spiritual seekers, peacemakers, global climate change activists, and those helping to create a fair and just world for all. Every plenary, breakout, and workshop session I attended was heart-opening, insightful, and profound. I can't wait to attend the next POWR in Chicago (2023).
What a gratifying experience to present Spiritual Ecology as a Transformative Practice in English & Spanish this year at the XXIV International Society for Human Ecology (SHE) Conference (17-21 Oct). My session offered a transformative pathway and supporting practices to guide us through this time of environmental and cultural upheaval, and into a future with greater wellbeing for humans and the ecology of which we are a part. Using Spiritual Ecology as a framework, I offered theory as well as action steps. Kudos to the conference organizers, SABEH of Brazil, for putting on a truly multilingual conference! I video-recorded my talk in English, made a Spanish translation audio recording, and then waited "backstage" until the Q/A - when I answered conference-goers' questions after the live online airing. While only on the third day of the conference, I am already learning a lot from my human ecology colleagues across the globe. Watch it here.
On the 13th and 14th of Oct., I presented Overcoming Writing Blocks via Zoom to three college classrooms in California that are using my book, Writing on the Landscape, as the course text. These inquisitive young people explored becoming unstuck with writing via nature-based and creative practices, Q&A, and a discussion about what "writer's block" really means. I was quite struck with the quantity and quality of very interesting questions and comments that these early writers posed.
The Oct. 12th Second Tuesdays Lunchtime Webinar focused on the topic of "letting go." We explored some of nature's examples of easeful letting go (like falling leaves in autumn), as well as the writings of a poet, a Franciscan priest, a scholar, and Buddhist nun. Our conversation also spanned topics such as grief, life transitions, forgiveness work, and other related forms of release/letting go. I very much look forward to next month's webinar on gratitude.
On Sep. 20th, I participated with colleagues from Rincon Resolutions in offering Simple Living, It Ain't What You Think: Words from a Migrant, a Nomad, and an Aesthete at the "Coffee and Conflict: The Housing 'Choice'" series hosted by CORE (Conflict Resolution Clinic) of British Columbia. This ninety-minute presentation, with our three unique perspectives on what it means to live simply, provided for thought-provoking reflection for the mediators and attorneys who attended.
I am excited to announce that my proposal for the Inaugural Northwest Collaborative Futures Conference has been accepted. In late October I will be presenting Ecotones: A New Conception of Borderlands to an international community of conflict resolution professionals, attorneys, community activists, and others who are pursuing peacemaking work around the globe.
In mid-September the Second Tuesdays Lunchtime Webinar discussed "transitions." Using examples from the natural world and everyday life, we looked deeply into how to honor the processes and periods that mark change in our lives. Participants (from three countries) each focused on a particular transition in their own experience and how they can endeavor to find the richness and gems even amidst the most difficult of times. Watch it here.
The August 10th Second Tuesdays Lunchtime Webinar focused on "Earthy compassion." Gratitude, beauty-making, acceptance, relationship-building, nurturing peace, and offering care were ways we discussed being able to compassionately engage all beings. Honoring the human and nonhuman lives we encounter was central to our discussion. Astute participants also raised the importance of cultivating joy in our Earthy compassion endeavors.
This year’s annual TEALarbor stories week-long retreat (the week of Aug. 2nd) was rich and potent. Retreatants deepened connection with themselves as nature beings as well as with the natural world surrounding their homes. Using a combination of guided time in natural landscapes, various creative techniques (painting, printmaking, bookmaking, sketching, collage…), and reflective opportunities (journaling, meditation, story-sharing and mirroring…), we explored immersion in the inner/outer landscape in the present moment, and ways to sustain deepened connection in our everyday lives. We were fortified by poetry that bookended each day; miraculous moments with the flora and fauna that visited us; and a variety of gratitude and beautymaking practices. We spent time learning details about the creatures and plants we encountered including species, identification, behavior patterns, and life cycles. Participants also engaged some phenomenological and spiritual ecological processes to better connect with the nonhuman beings around us. Oh, if only every week could be retreat week! But we also realize that out of this sumptuous time together, we have been given gifts to offer the world … so we return to our daily lives and routines refreshed and with open arms.
I am thrilled to share the news that my presentation proposal has been accepted by the Parliament of the World's Religions! In October 2021, I will present Love in Action: Nature-Based and Creative Compassion. Here's what I wrote in 2015, upon returning from my first attendance and presentation of my work at the Parliament: This interfaith gathering of nearly ten thousand people from fifty faiths and eighty nations, was a very potent, rich, diverse, heartful community of spiritual seekers, peacemakers, global climate change activists, and those helping to create a fair and just world for all. Truly, it was a transformative experience. The Parliament is the oldest, the largest, and the most inclusive gathering of people of all faiths and traditions; the first Parliament took place in 1893.
On July 13th, we had a wonderfully enriching Second Tuesdays Lunchtime Webinar focused on the "inner/outer landscape." We began with a brief overview of how we bring our inner selves to the outer world of nature, natural settings, and landscapes. Then we got especially interactive as participants were guided through activities to understand more deeply their individual bodily, emotional, cognitive, and spiritual responses to the natural world. We ended with each of us sharing one way that we can offer something back to the natural world.
In mid-May I was invited to offer two presentations and reflective practices to various team of hospice staff (doctors, nurses, social workers, administrators, clergy, aides, volunteers) in order to promote and explain The Letters Project. It was such an honor to be welcomed in and to have my work seen by those who will refer people at end of life to utilize this service I have created.
I have just created an initiative called "The Letters Project" for hospice. As a twenty-years-plus passionate hospice volunteer, I have been seeking ways to bridge my professional life and skills with my work at the bedsides of people who are dying. I have written a lot about this and have found ways to bring nature-based and creative modalities into that service commitment. But in the last few weeks, my proposal for a letter-writing project has been vetted and accepted by my local hospice. This service is a more formal manifestation of what I've done informally over many years: listening deeply to others' stories ... and capturing those via the written word. While there is a fair amount of research and literature on the significance of having opportunities to review life and convey important messages to loved ones, there are not many projects that are commonly dedicated to these important end-of-life tasks. My project offers this; I will be called to the homes of people on hospice service who have a letter they want to write and send to a loved one. I will listen, transcribe, and send that letter to their designated beloved. I am so, so excited about this work! I want to extend this service beyond my local hospice, so if you know anybody at end-of-life who needs the tender attention that this offering provides, please contact me.
My work as co-lead for the Environment Sector of the Charter for Compassion is already very compelling. I have been involved with the Charter in various roles since 2014 including creating courses and teaching for their Compassion Education Institute, offering webinars, being featured in their Global Read (Writing on the Landscape) and Environment Sector Read (Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits), facilitating one of their creativity camps, and in other capacities. I wholeheartedly believe in compassion-embodied; focusing on compassionate environmental action in my new Sector role is very gratifying. We had our inaugural (free!) TERRA discussion forum this week and we're planning many other ways to support our sector partners and projects that serve the planet. After all, compassion is at the heart of TEALarbor stories' mission. Please keep an eye on the Environment Sector page of the Charter for updates.
Our Second Tuesdays Lunchtime Webinar for June focused on nature journaling. The first half hour looked at the myriad ways we can keep a nature journal, including the content, structure, and benefits of doing so. During the second half, we talked about materials and discussed personal experiences in the natural world including photography, reverie, and memory as ways to capture the wonder and details of nature. Watch it here.
I am so pleased to learn that my proposal for a presentation (Spiritual Ecology as a Transformative Practice) has just been accepted by the Society for Human Ecology (SHE) for their XXIV International Conference in October, hosted online by the organizers in Brazil. I've been a member of SHE for over twenty years. In that time, I have had the great honor of presenting my work at the international conference in Canberra, Australia (in 2013), as well as in a few of the U.S. conferences they have held. It will be good to reconnect directly with this amazing group of folks.
During the afternoon of June 3rd, I had the honor of presenting Nature-Based Wellness in Virtual Times to Judicial Council of California’s Family Court Services officials, staff, attorneys, social workers, and judges at their continuing education/professional licensure event: the Child and Family Focused Education Biennial Conference. This interactive presentation offered attendees a philosophical background and participative activities for inclusive, nature-based wellness strategies particularly in virtual settings. We began with an overview of a particular model of wellness and its relationship to ecology. Attendees had the opportunity to try out tools and practices for increasing wellness and a sense of wellbeing through hands-on tasks, discussion, and reflective time. We also touched on what wellness means in high-stress contexts and diverse settings.
On the mornings of June 2nd and 3rd, I enjoyed offering my workshop, Making Writing Easier, during my second author visits to two college classrooms in California. The end-of-the-semester, weary students somehow mustered enough enthusiasm and creative juice to compose three reflective writing practices, one haiku, and a micro-story; ask many engaging questions; as well as to review the four components of human nature. We used nature photographs and nature objects as prompts for writing activities.
I had so much fun this week (May 17-20, 2021) guiding a workshop based on my book, Writing on the Landscape. This course was offered through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at University of Alabama Huntsville. The wonderful students had an opportunity to understand the nature/creativity connection and to delve into their inner/outer landscapes via reading, hands-on activities, and discussion. I marveled every day at their wisdom, courage, and willingness to push their own edges in order to experience the natural world more fully and deeply, as well as to explore various facets of their writing process. Every student left class with an intention for moving forward with their projects.
I have accepted the invitation to co-lead the Charter for Compassion's Environment Sector with my dear friend and colleague, Kate Trnka. I really look forward to helping shape the vision and activities that will characterize our sector's integration of ecology and compassion.
In mid-May, I was invited to make a mini presentation of my work to a couple hundred aspiring and seasoned spiritual ecologists in a month-long class we had engaged. It was truly a thrill to illustrate how the core values of spiritual ecology show up in my TEALarbor stories practice every day with clients as well as in my writing and published works.
Our cozy little webinar (Second Tuesdays...) got a bit more interactive this month (May)! The topic was "Nature as Phenomenon" and there was the usual thirty-minute talk; in this one I featured the work of Gaston Bachelard and David Abram. During the second half hour I offered a practice to give participants a tiny taste of what it means to be engaged with nature (imagery) in a phenomenological way.
This morning (May 5th) I was invited to offer a reflective practice to a team of hospice staff (doctors, nurses, social workers, administrators, clergy, aides, volunteers) at their interdisciplinary meeting. I presented Mary Oliver's Morning Poem, springtime nature photographs and quotations, as well as a short reflective writing practice. I wanted to leave these amazing folks with inspiration and Earthy beauty that they can take into their workday as they support people who are dying and their families to navigate the potent end-of-life transition.
Our Second Tuesdays Lunchtime Webinar for April focused on "Inspired Aspirations." After a thirty-minute informal talk (including a reading of my piece, Spiritus), participants shared insights about their own creative, meditative, or aspiration-seeking endeavors including where they find their edges and inspiration.
One of my short videos is included as part of the Charter for Compassion's International Golden Rule Day on April 5th, 2021. Watch it here (my video airs at about the two hour forty minute - 2:40 - mark).
I'm excited to announce that I have just had another article published (Apr. 2021) - "Fledglings" - in Bainbridge Artisan Resource Network's online journal, Context.
March 29th and 30th, I made author visits (via Zoom) to two college classrooms in California that are using Writing on the Landscape as their course text this semester. We discussed writer's block; practiced nature-based activities for arriving to the writing page; and spent considerable time looking at tips and strategies for moving through difficult writing projects, finding inspiration, managing time and tasks, and nurturing positivity toward challenging writing assignments. The students had many wonderful questions and were willing to try a variety of novel ways of approaching their papers and finding balance in their lives. I'm excited to be able to visit them again at the end of the semester.
On the equinox, we gathered on Zoom (for the Half-Day Spring Retreat 2021) to contemplate the new season through poetry, meditation, writing, visual art, story, and outdoor experiences in our respective locations. Retreatants led us to a focus on beauty and wellness as we explored our individual inner and outer landscapes, and created collective meaning out of them. We each left with intentions for the budding springtime.
We had a wonderful time together on March 13th in the Let Nature Inspire Your Writing class through BARN. I guided students through some ways in which nature helps us unlock and feed our writing process, inspiring not only our writing but also our lives. Students learned about the nature/creativity connection; were guided through free-writes and practices; learned ways to bring nature into their writing projects and creative processes; and received feedback on how their individual projects can incorporate these practices. We had a robust discussion about the rich terrain of landscape, nature, objects from nature, and how to transition to writing in any genre that includes more word choices, symbolism, and aesthetics that reflect the very natural world itself. I was invited to teach this course again at BARN - to which I heartily look forward.
For the March 9th Second Tuesdays Lunchtime Webinar we discussed "Nature-Based Rituals." A thirty-minute informal talk was followed by Q/A, discussion, and participant sharing. The conversation was very rich and we left with much to contemplate. I look forward to next month's time together. Join us!
Nature Rituals That Heal occurred courtesy Wimblu via Zoom on February 23rd. This live presentation honoring the contributing authors of the "Death and Grief" (Vol. 4) issue of Wimblu offered participants a chance to be guided through the creation of a nature mandala. The publisher offered a space that explored the link between my article, The Ecology of Grief: Weaving Beauty into Death and Loss, and the natural world. The beauty that came out of our hour together - stories, shared photos of nature creations, the respite of a few quiet moments together - was very nourishing. Watch it here.
I'm happy to announce that my recorded (audio) version of “The Ecology of Grief: Weaving Beauty into Death and Loss” (published in November 2020) has just been uploaded to the Wimblu site. I narrated it in English, but it is available on the sites of both the English and Spanish versions of my article. I hope you enjoy your sixteen-minute auditory journey.
On February 9th we had an international gathering of folks for the Second Tuesdays Lunchtime Webinar. The topic was "Natural Beauty." A thirty-minute informal talk was followed by Q/A, discussion, and participant sharing. I'm eager to see who returns next month!
For the first week of February, TEALarbor stories celebrated a commitment to interfaith work by collaborating with World Interfaith Harmony Week (A UN Official Observance). Each weekday I hosted one-hour, highly-interactive sessions for this event, Spiritual Ecology: Nature and Creativity for Soul Nourishment. Our specific daily topics, with focused, nonsectarian, creative and nature-based rituals, included: contemplative writing, gratitude, beauty and nature, compassion, and service. Together, we created an international, interfaith community that shared perspectives, stories, and faith practices. Participants shared poems and nature mandalas they created during our time together, asked one another questions, offered support and encouragement, and explored new ways to implement creative, nature-based rituals into their daily faith practice. Watch recordings from the week here. Read the full report (and see all of the videos) on the WIHW website.
January 12th, 2021 marked the very first Second Tuesdays Lunchtime Webinar, a free offering. The topic was "Nature and Creativity." A thirty-minute informal talk was followed by Q/A, discussion, and participant sharing. I really look forward to next month's webinar!