I spent five days last week immersed in a nature journaling conference. I had never attended this conference before or even known of its existence. But a dear friend told me about it this past winter and I registered right away.
I have been writing, noting, journaling, recording, thinking, researching, meditating, photographing, occasionally painting and collaging, and guiding others through the natural world for a very long time. The journals I have kept rarely have hand-drawn sketches; often they are prose, praise, prayers, and (less often) poetry about wild beings outside my door.
So, a conference that was utterly focused on creating images for journals about nature was a refreshing and welcome challenge. I was introduced to a host of new media (art supplies – yes!) as well as how and when to use them. I met a whole slew of new folks who put nature journaling front and center in their lives. I listened to inspiration, encouragement, exhortation, poetry, stories. I watched video clips, heard music (human- and nonhuman-made), traveled around the globe virtually, was guided through others’ notebooks and journeys, and took field trips. (Alaska’s icebergs were refreshing to view even as I sat sweltering at my art table on the second hottest day on record here!)
Nature journaling is so very much more than it’s cracked up to be.
This conference opened a door to a wider view of possibility.
It is possible to thoroughly engage and completely enjoy-as-thrilling something that is difficult, at which I don't feel very adept, that will take years and years of practice.
But two of the most important gifts I received were “sight” and “fire” -
I now see the world more deeply: patterns and details, priorities and frivolities, as well as
the richness of an angle, hue, arc, shadow …
I am now impassioned to continue with this new way of journaling: with stamina and
practice, showing up for and nurturing intimacy with all beings, as well as letting go and
letting go and letting go of expectations, outcome, judgment …
These are life lessons, not just nature journaling ones!