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

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

Philosophy of TEALarbor stories

I believe that the process of conveying our most meaningful stories requires us to be both vulnerable as well as brave. Writing is an act of courage; it requires spontaneity and stamina. Because the power of sharing our stories (as well as our truths and fears about writing) can be profound, I strive to create space and processes by which writers can feel nurtured as they find the format and words to communicate their story.

  • We each have a story to tell.
  • We each have the wise potential to write.


Writing is very much about knowing what it is we want to convey, and why we want to convey it. We also need to know who our audience is (to whom we write). These things combined comprise the "story." I seek to help the writer explore this foundation for writing; once the writer is clear about what, why and for whom s/he is writing, the focus shifts to the task of how to write.

In order to write, we need to be able to "listen" to our deepest selves. We consider questions: What is being called for in this piece of writing? What do I most need to communicate here? What questions do I still have about this topic, idea, document, or manuscript? I believe that emergence is crucial to our writing process. Emergence is the unexpected surprise that arises in writing; an insight, revelation, new ideas, or "just the right word" are examples of what can spontaneously arise as a writer puts the pen to page, or fingers to keyboard. This serendipitous act of creation can occur with any type of writing.


"Story" does not simply mean a narration, report or account of events. In the work clients engage with TEALarbor stories, there is a profound significance underlying the written communication. One can conceive of "story" as that which comes from the soul, spirit, or the heart. "Story" is a compassionate version; it is the truthful whole. In order to write that "whole," we engage everything in service to the writing: body, mind, spirit, emotion. Regardless of whether a person is writing a memoir, children's story, research paper, or business proposal, all writing is put into a story form. For example, the "story" for a graduate student might be the thesis or dissertation; this document is the culmination of the student's research and study written in the story format appropriate for academia. Another example is the resumé; a CV (curriculum vitae) or resumé is the story about who someone is professionally - education, business and professional accomplishments, career goals. TEALarbor stories supports the use of all aspects of ourselves toward completion (of the project) and wholeness (of ourselves).

The Name, TEALarbor stories

The name "TEALarbor stories" implies a weaving together of nature, creativity and soul. An "arbor" is a grove of trees planted for aesthetic value and for the respite provided by the shade. So, too, we are given relief as we come to rest in the fruits of our labors, sharing who we truly are through writing our stories. This profound work is not religious or sectarian. However, when we reach within to our core selves and emerge with our full story on the page, we might consider this spirituality. In some traditions, the color green represents the heart; this is the place in which our deepest stories reside. Teal is a fusion of blue (ocean) and green (earth); our humanity and nature meet in the landscape of our heart.

The acronym TEAL ("The Ecology and Art of Listening") refers to the crux of this story work. 

The "ecology of listening" involves noticing the greater patterns of connection to the world around us, human and nonhuman. It also implies a process whereby the writer learns to listen to the inner self, not just to the intellect (that likes to take charge of our written communication). We look to nature (ecology) outside of us, synthesize what we discover into the core of who we are, and then unearth the new thing that is born through careful attention to our informed inner voice.

The "art of listening" entails a sincere, attentive, nonjudgmental ability to witness our own story. Too, it refers to the creative processes we use to get to the inherent quality and depth of the writing itself, as well as the creation of a final written document.

Copyright © 2009 - Jennifer J. Wilhoit, Ph.D. All rights reserved.

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