I have some really exciting nature writing news that I can’t share yet. I’ll tell you in a couple of weeks. Cliffhanger…!
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Urban Tree Festival highlights, some of my fave bits
9 days of glorious tree nerdery.
I participated in 27 hours of the Urban Tree Festival, including 2.5 hours of tree meditations (15 minutes each day).
- Tree Stewarding by Stephanie Whitelaw
- Writing Wood Words by Electra Rhodes (3 sessions)
- Tree Feelings by Tamsin Grainger
These 3 events were very ‘right brain’ oriented, more about creativity, connection, emotion, embodiment. I appreciate that a lot!
Being more embodied is something I’ve been practising prioritising since last year.
Emotional & embodied connecting with trees
If you’re looking for ways to deepen your connection to trees, to embrace the emotional and embodied side of connecting with trees, check out these:
Edge of the Hedge promises to nurture “your connection with nature, through sensory exploration and contemplation”.
Each episode will take you on an audio journey into nature, awakening your senses, and making connections with the more than human world; with special guests from many walks of life, who find inspiration by spending time with nature.Hannah Sylvester, The District Herbalist, with original music composed, performed and produced by Mark Holmes.
Special mentions from the Urban Tree Festival
I love learning about the relationships amongst different species, which includes learning more about identification. And not just trees either!
- Games In The Woods by Stella Wisdom, Marion Tessier, Ash Green & Cheryl Tipp
- The Nature Diary of an Elizabethan Gentleman by Daniel Harwood
Games in the Woods really got my idea generating gear going, so much creativity and connectivity. Along with The Urban Tree Wiki-thon, I feel like I’m part of little communities of creative nerds, and it’s great! I’m excited about the game I’m working on. It’s very far from finished, but you can check out my work so far.
What I loved about The Nature Diary of an Elizabethan Gentleman is that it was all about how to learn more about nature, but in an accessible way. I’m a huge tree nerd / amateur dendrologist, but I quickly get overwhelmed by wildflowers and birds, and don’t get me started on insects! But Daniel talked about identifying different species of bee, and it wasn’t overwhelming. I incorporate his approach into my game. Specifically:
- Focusing on a few most common species, rather than trying to get them all
- Starting where you are and adding a little more, rather than trying to do everything at once
- Following enthusiasm & interest, to build on strengths & existing knowledge, rather than ‘shoulds’
“People respond often to facts and figures.” I heard this weekend. Well, yes, and no.
We respond to stories. I find that humans like to talk about how rational we are, but we make so many of our decisions based on our emotions.
I really appreciate how Yuval Noah Harari talks about the importance of stories in Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. And I think embracing compassion, courage and curiosity means feeling and valuing emotions, rather than ignoring or denying them.
Freelancing = becoming a forester, in a manner of speaking
When I was looking over my notes on Sapiens, I saw that I referred to a story about a fisherman and a businessman.
“How long does it take you to catch so many fish?”
The fisherman replied, “Oh, just a short while.”
“Then why don’t you stay longer at sea and catch even more?” The businessman was astonished.The fisherman and the businessman, in 1 minute
Moving from foraging to farming eased some human worries and caused many others.
As a species, we went from fishing to business, and now nothing is enough. It’s all about growth for the sake of growth. Also known as, the legacy of capitalism. Also known as, what happens if you treat life as a ‘resource’?
My switching to freelancing is moving from business to fishing. Or, rather, the vegan equivalent. Maybe forestry.
Moving from farming to forestry
Leaving ‘farming’ for freelancing. It’s not going back to foraging, but rather moving forward to forestry.
Ironically, starting my own business is how I’m getting out of a ‘business’ mindset. It’s how I’m opting out of the obsession with bigger and better, more, more, more. Companies are often driven by endless growth, ever-expanding bottom lines, but I’m dumping that. I don’t want more, I want enough.
And the growth I want, is learning, self-awareness & connection.
And I really value the friends I have who are not interested in ‘keeping up with the Joneses’. Lifestyle inflation is seductive, but not irresistible.
Sustainable working practices
Creating/building an environment that will sustain me, including materially but not only that. I find myself going back to my values of autonomy, focus and joy, with compassion, courage and curiosity.
Email is broken. I thought Hey.com might be the answer. It has its own problems, though. Primarily, the terrible decision to ban ‘politics’ from the work sphere, a decision that I can only imagine folks who aren’t marginalised making – the privilege to see yourself as the default, you know? All that happened about a week after I committed myself to Hey.com (doh!) And then from the view of the product itself, the inability to filter and sort automagically except by email address. This product review is spot on.
What’s important? People and relationships
Something I’ve been putting on hold for a long time (years) is putting more energy and attention into my relationships. I’m excited to be reorienting now. I’ve been lucky to make some really great friends online during the pandemic, and I’m looking forward to building on that.
And exploring connection with non-human beings too.
On writing and artistry feels
An ugly side of being a creative; or, Being human
I want to be open about my creative process, and that includes the struggles and the ugly bits. It includes feelings I would rather not have, and would prefer not to admit to!
One of my friends has taught me a lot about taking the sting out of shame by sharing more. So, here goes.
When the green-eyed monster rears its head
I think it might be time for me to do another jealousy map activity, to move myself from envious to empowered. It’s a good way of both creating clarity and motivating myself to action.
In The Artist’s Way, Cameron recommends creating a list of up to twenty people that you are remotely jealous of, writing down why you’re jealous next to each of their names. Then, consider what action you might take to move towards what you want (what you’re jealous of). I suggest [you] also identify possible unmet needs before landing on specific actions.Jealousy as a Map
Okay, I started a jealousy map. I love this tool; it always leads to so many ideas, and practical ones too. Great way of getting unstuck.
Now, just want to sift and sort all these ideas, from the map, and from the very rich festival of trees, to select 1-3 actions. That’s my priority for this week that is starting.