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Cool Reads to Kickstart the Year

Updated: Feb 26, 2022

February Mantra: Try Something New

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January was the month of “Dream, Plan, Do”. The dreaming will continue of course, and a rough plan is in place for the year. Now it’s off to the doing… As I honor my “try something new” mantra for the month, I’m visiting favorite woodsy spots regularly for meditation, sketching, and *bird watching*! I have terrible eyesight, so finding the birds has never been my strong suit, but I scored a visit with a pileated woodpecker earlier this month, and it was awesome! Of course, he was digging into a snag maybe 10 feet off the trail, so he was very easy to spot… I'm in the final stages of one more Coastal work to finish that series, and also started a new oil & pen mini-works series based on the floral blind contour drawings I started during the pandemic; more on that as it evolves!

Images: A pileated woodpecker and a wetland pond along a misty morning walk.

As I’ve been sketching and journaling about ideas for the next series, I've also been reading a lot! Inspirational reads, forest medicine, something funny, so I thought I'd share what's on my "active" shelf right now. During the early stages of the pandemic, I shared a Spring book list for my year-long eco art curation project, The Art of Sustainability (Instagram @the_art_of_sustainability), and folks seemed to enjoy it. So, here is a short list of the books that have helped me weather the weather this winter, relax after the flurry of planning and creating, and inspire me to dive into my creative practice with gusto.

1. You Are a Bad Ass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life

by Jen Sincero
Non-fiction | Motivational & Inspirational, Personal Growth - Success

This is the book that really helped me kickstart my year. It’d been sitting by my bedside for months, daring me to open it. January was the perfect time for me to delve in, as I was mapping the months ahead. The overwhelm was already flitting at the corner of my mind, yet the affirmation, “I got this” helped me keep going. Reminders to both follow my fantasies and listen to my intuition continue to inspire me, and I’m adding the meditation tips into my exploration of personal wellness and nature as healer. One of my favorite take-aways so far (I’m still reading this one) is that we often hold ourselves back with the stories we tell ourselves, and yet we have control over our own story. So, if you want a new ending, tell a new tale! For example, I’ve been wanting another venue in my neighborhood, and telling myself it was too competitive. But flipping the narrative, I asked myself, had I really reached out to every venue? No. Had I tried again recently? No. So the new story is, I will fill my year with new venues and events. I’m going to ask whenever I see art hanging in a shop, and apply to some new events, and see what happens. The results are still unfolding, but I do have one new venue booked already! I’ll update the events page soon… So, I’m going to keep on reading this little self-helper, and gleaning timely guidance for making 2022 a great year!

2. The Invention of Nature: Alexander Von Humboldt's New World

by Andrea Wulf
Non-fiction | Environmentalists and Naturalists, Adventurers and Explorers, Science and Technology

Somehow, I was a sustainable building consultant for 20+ years and have been creating landscape and nature theme art for 10, and didn’t learn who Alexander Humboldt was until 2021… I came across this book, at Elliott Bay Books one afternoon while browsing their staff book picks wall. (Elliott Bay Books is one of my all-time favorite bookstores, particularly their original but no-longer-there Pioneer Square location.) Humboldt was a fascinating man who was fascinated by almost everything from natural science and geology to anthropology, sociology, and history, and forged connections between them never previously considered. He’s considered the founder of modern scientific approaches which see nature as connected ecological zones, rather than individual categories of plants or animals. The interconnectedness of ecology (and human-nature links) has been such a given in my life and artwork, that following along with the story of the person who initiated that concept for the western world was almost like reading about a personal mentor. In his research, Humboldt traveled extensively, including throughout South America at a time when Spain strictly controlled access to their territories. Particularly as the pandemic has kept me close to home, this filled a travel urge vicariously. At points this flowed like non-fiction, and I couldn’t wait to read what this every curious explorer would get into next. If you’ve ever wondered why there’s a Humbodlt city/county/park in about every state, pick up this book and explore the world through this super scholar-adventurer’s adventures.

3. Forest Bathing Retreat: Find Wholeness in the Company of Trees

by Hannah Fries, with Foreword by Robin Wall Kimmerer