What does it mean to “cultivate”? Well, it could mean to prepare the soil for planting, or to acquire or develop something such as a skill or quality. Whatever it is you are cultivating, that’s the first step– then once you’ve cultivated, you’re ready to plant and tend, and eventually reap the harvest of the … Continue reading 12 Tiny Things: Cultivate
The cold, though not unexpected, is startling. It feels good to walk through fields that have provided nourishment of all sorts to beings of all kinds. Ice clings to stalks of bowing grass. Every step crunches in the stillness of freeze. Muted colors announce themselves in burnt umber, dark brown, and burgundy, reminding us that … Continue reading In the Shadow of an Old Barn
This post is a slightly updated version of one from three years ago, since the message is still relevant. The second to last paragraph has also been adapted as a poem that is found in Cold Spring Hallelujah, available now anywhere books are sold.
It’s Thanksgiving time [a complicated holiday if we look through the lens of colonization] here in the United States, and what a strange season we are in. The Amazon burns while floods swallow sea level neighborhoods. Planned power outages become business as usual to prevent wildfire while incredible amounts of energy are used to keep indoor ski resorts going in deserts. People in high office in too many countries seem to have missed the history lessons about the horrors that result from unchecked, systematic racism and the dangers in acting from fear and entitlement. Constant growth remains the goal while finite resources vanish. Work hours are long, jobs are lost, people are sick, loved ones are hurting, the dog is getting old. There are many things to lament and grieve. Grief and lament have their place in the world, and they are necessary. Yet so is giving thanks. Gratitude is nearly always possible.
Elie Wiesel wrote, “When a person doesn’t have gratitude, something is missing in his or her humanity. A person can almost be defined by his or her attitude toward gratitude.” Gratitude doesn’t mean burying unwanted feelings or looking for the silver lining in the midst of a bad situation – gratitude means acknowledging what is still good even alongside the mess. Continue reading “Gratitude, anyway”
The act of not writing is just as important as writing. Never underestimate the importance of staring out of a window or going for a walk. All too often the knottiest story problems can only be untangled by getting away from the desk. If all else fails, try going to sleep and letting your subconscious … Continue reading Running on Fumes
I’m standing on the front step as my daughter gets ready for bed, something she’s just learned to do by herself. I wonder at what point in the routine she’ll call out for me to help, half hoping she will because that will mean she’s not growing up too fast, and half hoping she won’t … Continue reading Somewhere Between Longing and Joy
This is an excerpt from Woodland Manitou: To Be on Earth, available now wherever books are sold.
Here we are once again. It’s fall in the Midwest, and the weather is changing. The leaves of the maple trees out back are at their peak of orange and yellow vibrancy, and the backyard seems to glow with a quality of light that is unique to this time of year. As I walk down the steps to the lake, leaves crunch under my feet and the air feels cooler than it has in months. We still haven’t had a hard freeze, which is unusual and perhaps yet another sign of a climate that is getting increasingly unpredictable. But regardless the mild weather, the earth is sloughing off her summer skin and slowing down in preparation for what is to come. Winter’s cloak of stillness will be here soon enough.
Though the seasons change every year, sometimes it’s easy to forget the lessons we can glean from this age old rhythm of the planet. Each season has its wisdom, and autumn is no exception. There are lessons to be learned if we let the earth teach. Continue reading “Lessons of Autumn”
A few weeks ago, I took a notebook and a camping chair down to the dock and parked myself there for 45 minutes while my daughter was at her violin lesson. My goal was to observe and note what I was observing in my new journal. I’d filled the old one, the one that I’d … Continue reading A Bit of Practice
Fellow Minnesota writer (and my co-founder of 12 Tiny Things) Ellie Roscher recently penned a blog posted called “To Joyfully Endorse” – she said one of the greatest joys of being a writer is championing other writers. And I wholeheartedly agree. There’s this thing that happens when you are an author – you write a … Continue reading The Honor of Endorsing
A recent conversation I had with a colleague, after sharing the three books I’d just read, went something like this: “Why have you been reading so much about death?” I remember looking out over the St. Croix River as the sun went down, and saying something like, “Because I need to know it’s possible to … Continue reading Laying it Down
To be fair, sometimes I run, which has its own merits and joys and reasons, some of which are the same as walking in the woods. But when I slow down to a walk, when I take the time to really notice what’s going on, things come to light that wouldn’t otherwise. Here are some … Continue reading Why I Walk in the Woods