Category: "About this Blog"

Welcome

I am a freelance, nonfiction writer who cares about the environment, individuality, creative expression, and simplicity. I'm glad you've found my blog, and I hope you'll join in the conversation by leaving a comment. Disagreements are allowed, even encouraged, but cruelty, vulgarity, and slander is not.

The Elements of Ceremony

September 11th, 2015

I was gazing out my window when the idea hit for my second blog, Today’s Walk Outside. It wasn't until a year later that I realized the depth of my new plan. I wasn't just looking to get outside and share my experience with those who also enjoy the outdoors. I was actually trying to correct a malpractice, one I hadn't known existed.

I had been, at 45 years old, dragging around a nagging feeling that I was not "doing enough." Yet, at the same time, life had granted me a chance to set up residence in close proximity to a natural landscape, something I'd dreamed of for decades.

The Elements of Ceremony

Guilt crashed into prosperity. I couldn’t explain why, but I felt as if my promise to walk every day, in all kinds of weather, was something I was supposed to do. It felt like my chance to say “thank you.”

First, I planned a strategy. Then, I bought a domain name, setup a Wordpress account, searched for the right plugins and theme, developed a user interface, and drilled down to what I thought was a core message for my blog. For months, I walked every day.

But I still wasn’t satisfied. My walks were invigorating but aimless. I did get to witness the woods in its ever-changing form, but an emptiness remained unfilled. Energy wasn’t flowing; it was just getting stuck in my chest. And writing the blog became just another chore.

So I took a break and thought about it for awhile. After exploring the thought-provoking writing of others such James Swan, I realized what was missing. I had been trying to capture energy from Nature, but Nature also needed energy from me, energy that I had been withholding in silence. I needed to expand my hunger into something more meaningful, something more ritualistic. I needed to acknowledge that my walk was my ceremony.

What is ceremony?

It's difficult to define exactly what ceremony is. Books and articles HAVE been written about the specifics of wedding ceremonies, funeral ceremonies, healing ceremonies, or ceremonies to celebrate religious holidays. But I've been unable to locate any authoritative guide on ceremony in general. Since ceremonies typically evolve from ancient traditions, how do I create a new one? I've decided to answer the question based on the pattern of elements found in almost every one:

1.) Something is honored. It's often something greater than ourselves, such as the feeling of love, the miracle of birth or death, or the belief that a god or creator exists. It can also acknowledge the best of ourselves, such as when a medal is awarded or an achievement is reached.

2.) There is a physical action. You kneel, hold hands, clap your hands, dance.

The Elements of Ceremony

3.) There is musical expression. The most effective is when all participants create music together, such as a hymn in church or a jam among instrumentalists.

4.) Visualization is encouraged. Whether through prayer or simply closing your eyes and imagining happiness, in every ceremony there is "tuning in" to positive energy through imaginative imagery.

5.) An offering is made. Flower petals at the feet of the bride, food on the party table, wine for everyone, a memento laid in the coffin: through giving we prepare for the power of receipt.

6.) Intentions are stated verbally. "We are gathered here..."

7.) Gratitude is expressed.

8.) Place matters. Ceremonies are often held inside human creations designed to instill a sense of awe and respect, such as a cathedral, where thoughts are carried upward like notes of a melody. Better for me is a natural place with an undeniable draw, such as a body of water or a mountain.

The Elements of Ceremony

How elaborate each element is depends on the situation and the parties involved. A princess weds in a regal fashion. An Eagle Scout accepts his silver medal with only his guardians and mentors present. A monk chants alone.

My next step is to figure out how to apply the elements of ceremony to my daily walks in order to fulfill my quest to honor nature in my own way. I share such a private endeavor so that you might find ways to add something that's been missing from your life, too. Suggestions are welcomed. Please stay tuned.

A Path to Health and Connection

October 24th, 2014

Do you wish you could get more exercise? Do you wish you had more time to yourself? Do you wish you could escape once in a while?

There is a phenomenon in American culture: we don't do the things we know we need to. No matter how much we understand the value of exercise and stress reduction, we push aside the activities required to achieve our goals, as if these were luxuries we haven't yet earned.

"I cannot take time for myself; my family needs me," the tired mother says.

"I cannot afford the equipment I need to start an exercise program," the busy employee says.

"Somehow the day's end comes before I manage to take that walk," the blog writer says.

Guilty as charged. Productivity. Health. Focus. Happiness. Success. I know I can gain all five with one act, yet day-after-day I don't do what I need to do. And all I need to do is go for a walk.

Thus, I have made a commitment in order to break this cycle of failure. I have woven together a plan, and I hope you'll come along with me.

Loyal readers already know that I've had a new project on the horizon. I hinted at it when I sent out an exclusive readership survey invitation last season. Fifteen percent responded (thank you!), and a synergy was found in what was written. Here is a summary:

• Of all the subjects listed, no one liked gym best in school.
• No two respondents share the same profession.
• 80% want to be outside.
• While only one person gets to be outside for his or her job, the majority is satisfied with number of hours they work.
• Everyone has reasons to care about the environment.
• No one believes the earth's climate is remaining the same.
• Most people check the weather every day but not more than once.
• Birds and water ranked highest among people's favorite outdoor-related things.
• We live in a variety of environments (urban, rural, etc.)
• Most of us began using a home computer after the age of twenty, and most still prefer to read digital content on a computer or laptop, none of us via a phone.

As for what was liked and disliked about this blog, the answers were all over the map. "Too long," "a bit preachy," "not enough graphics," and "not enough solutions" were negatives offset by "very succinct," "love the kindness," "informative," and "clean design." Of course, I've taken it all into account, both negative and positive. Each comment is a thread in my woven plan.

And so, here it is:


Today's Walk

www.TodaysWalkOutside.com

This is a new blog that is set to launch in the next few days. Walk with me each day, in all kinds of weather, down a variety of paths, and through a world that offers an unlimited supply of prompts to get me thinking about my role in it.

Each post is short and falls into one of four categories: facts (nature-related knowledge), events (cyclical or unusual), observations (life-related metaphors) and tips (instruction, gear, advice).

This does not mean Back to Basics will end. The frequency may change to every-other-week, but the writing will remain the same. I cherish you loyal readers of the Back to Basics blog, many of whom have been here every week since it began in 2008. With fewer than 300 people on the mailing list, 60 of whom I know read every post within 24 hours of its release, I am honored to continue to share my thoughts with you.

Meanwhile, in order to continue to write, in order to stay healthy both physically and financially, I need to expand. And here's where I need your help. Today's Walk must reach an audience that is 100 times greater than Back to Basics. This is for a variety of reasons, most of which centers on satisfying the wants of the publishing industry. I am actively seeking an agent in a very competitive marketplace, and nothing peaks the publishing world's interest more than a large reader following. In short, Today's Walk has to be big.

The first post will be ready soon. After the release, if you like what you see, please tell a friend. Please continue to offer feedback, privately or via the comments. Please continue to care about the natural world so that together we can inspire more people to walk down the path that connects us all to better health.

What's Going On?

August 29th, 2014

It's been a few weeks since you've heard from me. That's because I've been busy with two things:

1.) Music festivals and summertime vacations.

2.) Preparation to launch a new, online writing project.

Though it may feel like it, I haven't been neglecting you. In fact, you've been on my mind quite a lot. With thoughts of you, I have created a reader survey. It is intended to solicit your feedback, which will be useful to me as I develop my next project.

Did you know that I've been writing this blog for more than six years? At the end of the survey, you'll find out how to receive a free copy of my eBook, Looking Back. It's a compilation of the most popular posts from the last six years. But don't wait; the survey closes on September 24, 2014.

Click here to begin the survey.

About this Blog

March 13th, 2010

I started this in 2008 to support individuals who wanted to live a simple life. Today, the content has expanded to include conservation- and Nature-related topics, all while maintaining the idea that simple solutions are often the best. As a commentary writer, much of the posts are about things which weigh heavy on my mind or are written to challenge popular opinion in order to get a deeper conversation started.

The words appeal to readers who, like me, believe the natural world and a person's natural instincts should take precedence over meaningless progress and senseless conformity.

I value debate (via feedback/comments) and want to hear the perspectives of those who take the time to consider the posts. Let the Back to Basics blog be a safe place where old-time conversation can take place using the best of new-fashioned technology.

Examples of popular posts include:

A series on control that encourages people to restrain this basic human desire.

A piece on finding contentment, written after a restful vacation.

An essay on why I don't mind if you call me a treehugger.

Or browse all the posts via the blog's index page.