In a few weeks, I will be teaching my first class on journal writing at a local folk school. A workshop on "how to keep a nature journal," it will marry three of my true loves: writing, nature, and mindfulness. Keeping a nature journal is a way to connect with the natural world around you by recording seasonal observations and reflections about what is happening outdoors, right now, right where you are. I'm deep into the class preparation over here, and I'm really loving where it's going!
I think one of my favorite things about keeping a nature journal is that it helps to foster a sense of place, and to develop your role in that place. I live in the suburbs of a small beach town in Florida. Most would not recognize it to be autumn here, as it is still hot and humid, lush and green. But through mindful observation, I've come to recognize (and appreciate) the signs of the season here, in my place. On a neighborhood walk I collect fallen leaves to record in my journal... they are not the blaze of beauty one finds up north. But look at the variety in color, texture, shape! Look at their beauty! They make me feel happy, connected, even blessed. Nature is everywhere... our connections are endless from season to season, place to place.
It's my goal to offer my class "Keeping a Nature Journal ~ Journaling through the Seasons" here, online. Sometime soon. But in the meantime, would you like to join me in connecting to your place in nature? You'll have to make the time and space to slow down, observe the world around you, and reflect on your life within it. You'll have to make a small commitment - be it for 10 minutes or an hour - to be present in the moment, and alone in nature. However, the rewards are great... you'll emerge refreshed and recharged, with a new approach to your day. If you dare to join me... here's your mission:
Materials needed: blank book or blank paper, pen and/or pencil, colored pencils if desired.
- Select a place in nature that intrigues you, or that you have easy access to (remember, nature is everywhere). Or simply look out your window!
- Record the date, time and place in your journal.
- Observe what's going on around you upon first glance... use your senses. What do you hear, smell, see? What does the weather feel like; how does the earth feel under you? Look at the ground, look at the sky... What stands out at eye level? Notice the plants, the animals, the insects, the clouds...
- Record your observations using any combination of words and drawings. Don't judge what you're doing - just do it openly. Freely. Work at your level of ability, and know that it's good enough. In fact, it's perfect.
- Reflect now, for a few moments, on what you've observed and recorded. How does it make you feel? Can you make any personal connections to this place and what's happening in it? Did you gain any insights into yourself or your environment? Do you feel differently than when you first began?
- Record your reflections in any way you like... make a list, write a poem, draw how you feel. This is your space to make a connection, so make it personal. Let it flow naturally.
- Repeat this exercise as often as you can - in as many places as you like - and discover the power of keeping a nature journal!
Locals, you can register for my class at the Crowley Folk School, available Nov. 3 or Dec. 1. For details or to sign up, click here.