News & Updates
In the News
Solstice Blessings! The day after this year's summer solstice, I participated again in the annual Global Earth Exchange in collaboration with Radical Joy for Hard Times. This year we made our bird image at the base of a transformer that had caught on fire at the edge of a protected forest down the road from my home. The subsequent clearing around the site caused some aesthetic wounds to the forest trail. Our bird is constructed of grasses, flowers, twigs and leaves, moss, ferns, and a rock. This beauty-making with whatever nature provides at the site is always a replenishing ritual for me.
Saturday June 1, 2019 I offered two sessions, Nature as Balm and Retreat into Gratitude, for the Rolling Bay Presbyterian Church Women's Retreat. Nature as Balm included using natural objects and images of nature to explore via journaling one's personal connections between creation and faith. Retreat into Gratitude explored individual responses to and expressions of gratefulness, also utilizing inspirational images of and objects from nature. The women who participated in these sessions offered very positive feedback about the inspirational and replenishing effects of these activities.
I am thrilled to announce that my latest book project has just made it into our publisher’s hands (5/31/19). Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits: Stories of Passion for Place and Everyday Nature is a co-authored volume with my colleague and friend, Dr. Steve Jones. Our book is “a collection of nature stories seeking to inspire deeper relationship with and care for this beautiful Earth.” We've received advance praise for our book from our early readers. We are eternally grateful to them for writing blurbs that will appear on the covers and inside of Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits. One endorsement, by Dr. Cheryl Charles (Co-Founder, Children and Nature Network), calls our work “…an enchanting, inspiring, important book.” Please check back here for updates on the publishing process and the book's release.
On March 28 - 29, 2019 I presented Transforming Conflict, Transforming Lives: Re-Writing and Re-Rooting Stories at the Twenty-Fifth Annual Northwest Dispute Resolution Conference at University of Washington School of Law. On a side table in the conference room, I had placed natural objects from my backyard: pine cones, leaves, dried flowers, mosses and lichens, rocks, twigs, and more. Additionally, I passed around vivid postcards with photos I'd taken of four aspects of flower development (unopened bud, backside and stem, stamens inside, decayed petals). Using particular prompts about conflict/peace as well as the nature item and photo of their choice, each participant was guided to freewrite about a current difficult (personal or professional) situation. I also facilitated several rounds of discussion/debriefing in between Powerpoint slides. I have since received notes, phone calls, and in-person feedback from about half of the participants who have shared with me very personal and specific ways in which the presentation/workshop opened up their understanding of a challenging issue they currently face. Many have asked to keep the photo and object; a few have reported that they placed them prominently at home as a reminder of their process. I continue to be amazed at - and so grateful for - the courage with which people engage this inner/outer landscape work. Additionally, I'm filled with gratitude that the conference organizers chose to highlight all three of my currently-published books at the literature table:
We are so very excited to announce the title for our upcoming book: "Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits: Stories of Passion for Place and Everyday Nature"! Steve Jones and I (Jennifer Wilhoit) are in the final edits of our chapters and we expect the book to be available by late spring.
The first weekend of February 2019, MJ Linford and I co-taught a class at Bainbridge Artisan Resource Network (BARN) called Life, Loves, and Explosions. It was such a joy to journey with students through the construction of an explosion box (whose sides fall open - revealing content - when the lid is removed), as well as guiding them through themed writing and other activities as inspiration for filling and embellishing their boxes. Afterward, we wondered if we'd been co-teaching or co-playing; I think it was both! We're excited to have two more offerings this spring (see www.tealarborstories.com/pg4.cfm for details).
I've just been notified that my proposal has been accepted for the Northwest Dispute Resolution Conference 2019 to be held at University of Washington School of Law in late March. I'm thrilled to be able to go back again and share my work with attorneys and mediators.
On the Saturday after Thanksgiving (Nov 24, 2018), I sat all day at our local Kitsap Mall for a book promotion for Writing on the Landscape. More than thirty of us (authors) worked in collaboration with Kitsap Literary Artists and Writers, Barnes & Noble, and the Kitsap Mall to offer holiday shoppers the gift of reading. While this was such an unlikely place for the Earthy work of TEALarbor stories, I was surprised to have a number of deeply engaging conversations with mall-goers about the use of nature-based practices in writing and healing.
On November 19-20, 2018 I was invited to Vancouver, Canada to facilitate a half-day presentation/workshop called The Role of Nature-Based Writing Practices in Conflict Engagement. This was for The Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia's Conflict Resolution Conference 2018: "Evolving Practices for Changing Times." As I candidly wrote afterward in a private correspondence: "It makes me feel joyful that they (the practicing attorneys) respect the work and find it useful for themselves and their clients."
Last Thursday (Sept 27, 2018) I had a great time teaching the class, "Journeying Through Emotions in Memoir Writing" for the "WhaMemWriMo" (Whatcom Memoir Writing Month) course series at Village Books in Bellingham. The full class (with waitlist!) spent ninety minutes learning about and applying practices to assist them in dealing with difficult feelings that arise as they write their stories. We kept a robust pace as we covered details such as how to effectively engage in self-care, emotional safety, others' emotional reactions to our work, and what we consider "truth" in writing about our lives. Please see the testimonials page for some of the favorable comments.
On September 22-23 expert bookmaker MJ Linford and I co-taught Books Meet Writing in the Natural World: Coptic-Bound Nature Journal/Sketchbook. Students enthusiastically crafted groups of pages ("signatures"), created lovely covers, and sewed their books together. We alternated book creating with guided time in the natural world and prompt-driven nature writing practices. The inspired and beautiful outcome included unique, bound journal/sketchbooks that were partially filled with photos, sketches, journal entries, prompts, poems, and written and visual musings of all sorts. It was such a joy, and we've been asked to offer this again soon.
On June 16, 2018 we did our annual "Treephilia" Global Earth Exchange in collaboration with Radical Joy for Hard Times. We used an abandoned junco nest with three eggs for the bird's head, douglas fir cones for its bill, a log from a felled tree as the body, and weeds that had grown up in the sand as feathers. We laid the yellow string (unique to this year's ceremony) across the wingspan.
The TEALarbor stories retreat (May 18-20, 2018), "Storying Through the Inner/Outer Landscapes: Writing & Ecology for Healing" was a deeply touching experience. Our host, The Whidbey Institute, offered beautiful, new, quiet cabins; delicious, healthy meals with decadent desserts; gardens, a labyrinth, hiking trails, spacious meeting area; and very gracious staff who met our needs at every turn. Nature conspired to create a luscious and nurturing natural environment for the deep work and ample play that we engaged during our weekend: flowers in full bloom, a mix of warm sun and refreshing downpours, rabbits and birds in plenitude, and new spring growth on trees and shrubs. We agreed at the end of our time together that we'd gladly do it all over again. Please check out the events page frequently to keep abreast of the newest offerings, including another retreat!
On May 8th my latest work, Writing on the Landscape, was the featured book for the Global Read webinar hosted by the Charter for Compassion - click here to view the full replay. It was a lovely experience being interviewed by earth-loving others, and it's always an honor to be part of the heart-centered work of the Charter for Compassion.
In early May I was hired to do an in-service/training for staff at Habitat for Humanity. The focus was on using nature and writing as means to self-care, particularly during difficult transitions. Being able to offer my work to people who are doing so much good meeting the basic needs of shelter, dignity, and "home" to those who would not otherwise be housed is very gratifying!
Writing on the Landscape book readings on Apr 5th (Village Books - Bellingham, WA) and Apr 9th (University Book Store - Seattle, WA) were great experiences. At Village Books - in collaboration with Chuckanut Writers/Whatcom Community College Continuing Ed - I led a small writing workshop prior to the reading. It takes a very special brand of wisdom and tenacity to open one's heart across a page via a pen in hand; each of the writers at the table clearly demonstrated their possession of such qualities. The book reading that followed was probably the most robust one to date; the audience freely asked questions throughout the evening and even stayed a bit late to try out an activity related to my book. The audience at University Book Store a few nights later was much quieter but I could see and feel their deep attentiveness. One woman spoke to me as I signed her copy of my book and exclaimed how my demonstration (guided activity) really opened something up for her. It turns out she and I have visited the same holy place in the same foreign country. The power of books - writing, nature, and conversation - is palpable at these events.
During the month of March (2018) I again facilitated the online course Growing Words of Compassion: Nature and Writing Practices to Love By, offered in collaboration with the Compassion Education Institute of the Charter for Compassion. Like the first time the course ran (July 2017), students from all over the world were deeply engaged. There were: cultural exchanges; sharing of stories, photos, writing excerpts, conceptual insights, and so much more! Several dozen participants from four continents, at least eight countries, and myriad walks of life (clergy, retirees, artists, therapists, professors, doctors, international aid workers, educators, artists, volunteers, grandparents, nurses, meditators, writers, nature lovers...) joined in the course this time. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to guide and bear witness to the journeys of these people who demonstrated such heart, integrity, and openness.