Knocked off her feet after twenty years in public health nursing, Iris Graville quit her job and convinced her husband and their thirteen-year-old twins to move to Stehekin, a remote mountain village in Washington State’s North Cascades. They sought adventure; she yearned for the solitude of this community of eighty-five residents accessible only by boat, float plane, or hiking. Hiking Naked chronicles Graville’s journey through questions about work and calling as well as how she coped with ordering groceries by mail, black bears outside her kitchen window, a forest fire that threatened the valley, and a flood that left the family stranded for three days.
It is an unusually sunny and warm day in mid-spring, and my spouse Nick and I are out on a state park trail near our home, enjoying the mild conditions after a long, cold Minnesota winter. The air is laced with the subtle scent of blossoms, and a gentle breeze is inviting us to walk slowly and savor the moments as they unfold. We aren’t in a hurry. We aren’t feeling anxious or in need of anything. And then we come around the bend and see a naked man standing knee-deep in what is usually a dry creek bed, bathing. This year, due to a winter of above average snowfall, the creek is full to the brim with cold, clear water. He doesn’t see us, and we hightail it backwards until he’s out of view, wait ten minutes, and then I make Nick check to see if he’s got any clothes on yet. He does and we continue on the trail, smiling hello as we pass. I still wonder if we or he would have been more uncomfortable had we announced our presence. At any rate, I hope he had a refreshing dip, and I admire his courage to do what felt good at the time. I have a feeling he doesn’t regret his decision to bathe in the creek that day. Continue reading “Hiking Naked”
Writing a book takes a long time. And then publishing it takes a little bit (i.e. a lot) longer. But it’s worth the effort and the wait, I think, to have something tangible that says what you want it to say that you can hold in your hands and give to others. It’s fair to say that yes, it does require using trees to print the books, but when your publisher is committed to ecological stewardship, that helps. It also helps when your publisher is committed to putting forth publications that are meant to be returned to again and again, not thrown away after a quick read. And when they donate a portion of all profits to a different charity every year. Add the mission that the mainstream is not the only stream, and you have a pretty stellar combination. Continue reading “Woodland Manitou: To Be on Earth”
Last spring I heard a woman named Cynthia Jurs speak. She said a lot of interesting and important things during her talk, but what stood out to me most was the way she spoke of “acting from the subtle” and how important it can be to stop and breathe in the midst of the chaos that seems to punctuate our world more than we want it to. She spoke of focusing on the space that is in between where we are and where we want to go. She said it’s that ‘in between’ space that allows new things to come into being. From that space we can learn to recognize our gifts, and once we’ve recognized them, we can offer those gifts out into our communities, our workplaces, and our families. She reminded us that it is from our gifts – those gifts that are unique to our own being — that we can affect our life situation in the deepest way and contribute to the healing of the world. She reminded us that due to the nature of “in between” space, we all have a different version of what’s true for us, but that we can still support each other despite being on differing paths. Continue reading “The Space Between”
Go out into the woods, child, go out. Let your feet carry you on the worn path behind the house, down to the marshy shore of the lake.
Go out into the woods, child, go out. Wander into the dense tree cover, trail your hand over the bark of an adolescent maple tree, and find your shelter among the roots and branches.
Go out into the woods, child, go out. Splash through the puddles that pool at the base of the valley and listen to the call of the Sandhill crane in the fields as it stands at attention amidst the dying autumn crops.
Go out into the woods, child, go out. Lay down in the hay-field and let your gaze drift with the passing clouds as the leaves rustle their lullabies.
Go out into the woods, child, go out. Race through the blazing midday light, and once you are tired, pick up a stone and let your hand fit its shape to the smooth sun-warmed surface.
Go out into the woods, child, go out. Rest in the shade of an old oak tree and feel the wisdom and strength of deep roots and patience fill you up with something you didn’t know was missing.
Go out into the woods, child. Go out.
I watched a robin explore one of our crab apple trees yesterday afternoon. He hopped from bare branch to bare branch, stopping now and then to poke at old, dried-up crabapples with his beak. At one point he seemed to look right at me, as if he were making sure I noticed his presence. I wasn’t sure how to respond.
Robins usually don’t come back to this area of Minnesota until at least the end of March, though last year we saw one on February 18th, the same day the seasonal ‘spring melt’ stream ran — unseasonably early. Yesterday was February 16th, so it seems this trend of early melting will continue for another season. The snow is almost gone after a few days of 40 degrees, and today it’s 50. Tomorrow it is projected to be 55, and Sunday, 57. Winter as I remember it just doesn’t seem to happen anymore, and this early warmth doesn’t feel normal.
Continue reading “The Reality I’m In”
Henry David Thoreau once wrote the words, “In wildness is the preservation of the world.” Though Thoreau lived in his cabin on the shores of Walden Pond many years ago, those words hold a deep truth. Wildness can mean so many different things to so many different people, but whatever it means to myriad humans across the globe, I have found embracing wildness to provide healing, inspiration, introspection and reason to explore. I have found wildness to be a foundation from which to do my work in the world, and I have found wildness to drive my choices as I tap into the potential of life on this beautiful earth. I have found wildness reason to cultivate community and exist in the world in a way that aligns with beauty and truth.
Here are 10 more reasons to embrace wildness, in all its forms, in the months to come. Because you just never know how making some little changes to your way of being might contribute to the healing of the planet. Continue reading “Why To Embrace Wildness”
You might already be aware of the fact that work takes up a lot of time for a large number of people in modern culture.You may even be one of those folks who feels like they spend more time at the office or behind the till or at the wheel or tapping on a keyboard than is ideal for human health and happiness. And it’s also likely that you, or someone you know, are one of those folks who just doesn’t see a realistic way to do things differently right now. Maybe there’s a job change in your future, maybe you’ll move to a yurt in the Andes or maybe you’ll figure out how to finance a simple lifestyle without living the nine to five. But for many of us, there are school loans to pay, a mortgage with which to keep up, kids to care for and cars to upkeep. I’m guessing leaving it all behind to move to a cabin in the woods sounds fabulous to many reading these words….but for a lot of people, it’s just not going to happen in the next week, or month or year. Maybe it will. Maybe tomorrow will bring a shift that will allow our ideal situation to come closer into being. This post isn’t about giving up on trying to live in a way that requires less money, resources or big life changes. But it is a post about what you can do right now to feel just a tad bit more wild in your day to day. Continue reading “5 Ways to Increase the Wildness of Your Workday”