compassionate guidance through writing, nature, & life's difficult landscapes

compassionate guidance through writing, nature, & life's difficult landscapes

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Last night (10/19/20) I was one of three guests on Conversations with Julie (Daum) of Mediate B.C. via Instagram (live). We chatted about my upcoming presentation at the Conflict Resolution Conference of The Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia. 

On Oct 15 and 19, 2020 I attended three different college classrooms that are using Writing on the Landscape as their course text. Using writer's block as the theme for my visit, students practiced writing in a variety of genres and learning how to overcome feeling stuck. What a wonderful array of questions they asked! 

Today (Sep. 22, 2020) - the first day of autumn - I had the great pleasure of presenting Working Despite Writing Blocks to a classroom of sophomores at Orange County School of the Arts, a high school conservatory in California. These teens (enrolled in a creative nonfiction class) engaged the hands-on lesson with enthusiasm and curiosity, despite being Zoom-weary and pandemic-impacted. A few asked questions, many smiled, and all of them expressed gratitude for the antidotes to creative blocks that I asked them to try out today. The class was recorded on Zoom; watch it here.

I'm excited to announce that I have just had an article as well as several creative pieces published (Aug 2020) in Bainbridge Artisan Resource Network's new online journal, Context

For the week of August 3rd, retreatants gathered on Zoom for TEALarbor stories' Annual Creative Retreat 2020. With nurturing guidance, practical suggestions, and the intimacy of a group with shared interests, we moved forward with our creative ideas. Largely, we focused on nature journaling, particularly process, content, and structure. We also took time every day in our respective geographies to explore the natural landscape and its relationship with our inner landscape. We meditated. We did body work. And there were plenty of inspirational readings. In sum, we had a great week of renewal! Here is a compilation of nature scenes that invigorated us and nature altars we built throughout the week:

On June 30th, 2020 I had the great pleasure of offering my class, Nature as Tool, Antidote, and Inspiration in Writing, through Bainbridge Artisan Resource Network's Writing Studio. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, we met via Zoom. This online format did not lessen our deep experience of nature-based writing practices nor prohibit us from going outside midway through the class for an outdoor activity in preparation for more writing. Students were very engaged and enthusiastic, trying out various practices with gusto and asking compelling questions along the way. I gave instruction about my integrated model for Earth-based, creative, whole-person practices; played a slide show of my nature-based creative work; and gave individualized feedback to students about their specific writing endeavors, focusing on the project as well as the writing process. I'd offer this class again in a heartbeat! 

In mid-June 2020, the Charter for Compassion's Environment Sector featured my co-authored book, Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits (Wilhoit & Jones, 2019), in their webinar. The hour-long event was part interview, part book reading, part discussion. Topics included: biodiversity, niche, islands, transitions, and spirituality, as they relate to ecology and the inner/outer landscape (the interaction between humans' inner lives and the natural world). We had so much fun in our stimulating discussion that we had an after-gathering to finish up the threads of conversation. Watch the recording here

My Creativity Camp presentation for the Charter for Compassion via Zoom took place on May 27, 2020. I began by reading short, relevant excerpts from my recent books and blogs. I also offered participants young and young-at-heart hands-on ways to appreciate the natural world and its beauty including “nature calendars ©,” “nature altars ©,” “nature mandalas ©,” and “lunchtime art ©.” I preceded my discussion with a slide presentation showing completed pieces of some of these forms. I talked about harvesting nature objects in a healthy way for the Earth as well as how to use nature objects, imagery, and natural history information in writing projects and process. Barbara, the host for Charter for Compassion, asked some compelling questions about the role of nature and creative, nature-based processes in bringing humanity back into closer connection with all beings. Watch the recording here. 


On Apr. 2, 2020, I gave a presentation (via Zoom) about spiritual ecology to our region's interfaith council. My talk, Spiritual Ecology: What, How, Why, focused on the interconnection between faith and the divine in nature. I read from my chapter on spiritual ecology (in Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits) as well as offered photographs and Powerpoint slides to illustrate how, for example, we can incorporate the four elements of earth, air, fire, water into everyday spiritual practices. The most gratifying aspects of this time with such lovely, faith-based people were: 1) the encouragement to introduce ourselves by offering one good thing in our lives right now (sweet antidote to COVID-19 stress), and 2) participants' willingness to share some connections between their particular faith traditions/spiritual practices and the practices/ideology of spiritual ecology.

For the spring equinox retreat (3/21/20), we convened on Zoom for a morning of contemplation and creativity. We read poetry and book excerpts about springtime, engaged in journal writing with prompts, and had a leisurely hour to create visual art pieces. Most importantly, we took time to go into the landscape outside our door to explore the opening of spring; we reconvened in the videoconference and shared stories of those nature experiences. We left the retreat time feeling nourished and refreshed. 

To say, "I'm thrilled" is an understatement! An article I wrote (a review of Trebbe Johnson's great book, Radical Joy for Hard Times: Finding Meaning and Making Beauty in Earth's Broken Places) has just been published in the wonderful journal, Minding Nature (Vol. 13, No. 1 (Winter 2020)) - a publication of the Center for Humans and Nature. To be in the great company of its many astute contributors is an honor! The journal even accepted and published six of my photographs (nature calendars, lunch art, a Radical Joy for Hard Times Global Earth Exchange bird image, two life celebration images) - all Earth-based/nature art creations I made and photographed. Please check it out. And here's their compelling cover:

Edmonds Bookshop warmly welcomed me back on Leap Day (2/29/20) to read from Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits. One thing that especially stands out for me about this event was how many newcomers to TEALarbor stories' work and my writing were present; it was very gratifying to receive questions and comments from like-hearted others who I'd previously never met. What also deeply touched me was that for the first time ever a child attended one of my book readings. A ten-year-old and her father walked in to the bookstore and the young, aspiring marine biologist was drawn to my reading. She listened attentively (especially to my weaned seal story), talked to me afterward about her environmental volunteer work as I inscribed her book, and gave me a hug before quietly leaving the store. There were people from age ten to ninety at this event; I continue to be amazed at the reach of these passionate stories about the natural world. 

On Monday Feb. 3, 2020 I had the great honor of being part of World Interfaith Harmony Week by offering a free webinar, Spiritual Ecology: A Nourishing and Practical Approach. Attendees received simple and practical ways for incorporating nature-based and creative activities into everyday spiritual practice. This was not a sectarian offering; rather, it was intended to support people of all faiths and religions in finding and deepening their own relationship to self, nature, and others through peaceable, compassionate, interdisciplinary practices. This event was part of World Interfaith Harmony Week 2020, a UN Official Observance. Watch the full webinar here. 


Between January 22nd and 30th, 2020 I was on book tour in southern and northern California. I read at four events from my 2017 publication, Writing on the Landscape, and at four venues from my (and Steve Jones’) 2019 book, Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits. I also gave an interactive presentation about spiritual ecology, and facilitated a nature-based writing workshop centered around writers’ block and generating creative (and life) flow. All of these events were well-attended with great participation from audiences and attendees. I’ve received invitations from the bookstores and cultural centers to return again in the near future to offer more events. Barnes & Noble and 1888 Center (both in Orange), Napa Bookmine, The Avid Reader in Davis, and Many Rivers Books in Sebastopol were such gracious and accommodating hosts. Several of the book events unexpectedly lasted for more than two and a half hours because participants were so enthusiastically engaged in the material. I am so grateful to the hosts and audiences for warm hospitality and such deep interest in TEALarbor stories’ work. 

What a supreme pleasure to receive such a warm welcome reading for the first time at the esteemed Elliott Bay Book Co. in Seattle! The audience asked interesting questions and listened deeply as I shared my and Steve's nature experiences with them; I signed copies of Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits afterward. 

Nov. 10th (Sun.) I was welcomed back to Eagle Harbor Books on Bainbridge Island; they beautifully hosted me as I read from and signed copies of Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits. I am stunned and gratified by the great show of support by my community and friends; the audience was enthusiastically engaged, thoughtful, and friendly as I read my and Steve’s passionate nature stories to them.  



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