Look for a sign from nature to access aspects of creativity beyond conscious thought
Look for a sign from nature to access aspects of creativity beyond conscious thought
Helpful signs are out there if you look. Photo by the author.

Help from beyond doesn’t have to be “woo-woo.”

Maybe you’re struggling with a decision or problem. You could be hoping for an inspiration to take a creative project to a new level. Or perhaps a loved one has died, and you long for some suggestion you still have a connection.

You don’t have to wait passively for an idea or answer. Try the approach I’ve used in these situations: Take proactive steps to unlock your conscious mind so something you’d consider a sign can squeeze through.

How?

Change your surroundings. I always head into nature, even if what’s convenient is only a local park or my own yard…


Roadside cleanups are funnier than you think. Try one!

Litter bin with a happy face
Litter bin with a happy face
Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Our 50th Earth Day is April 22, and going outside for an informal litter pickup is a great way to get fresh air, support your community, and relieve lockdown stress. Go alone or with distanced strangers—there’s enough litter for all! You’re almost guaranteed to laugh, which is good for your health.

You’re almost guaranteed to laugh, which is good for your health.

I’ve been a litterhawk—the litterbug’s native predator—since childhood. Woodsy Owl ruled my formative years: “Give a hoot, don’t pollute.” I’ve yelled at teen boys tossing fast-food bags and honked at pickup drivers flinging cigarette butts.

That’s futile, though…


These are at least as sensible as hoarding toilet paper, y’all

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This is not a silver bullet. Photo by the author.

If we needed more proof that humans are irrational, we have it. I live in Washington State, the epicenter of the coronavirus in the United States. With its arrival, there’s no longer a roll of toilet paper or a bottle of water available for purchase for 3,000 miles. Maybe more. Stores are literally hiring security to enforce rationing.

Why? Does Covid-19 affect our bowels or nether regions, which need generous and more frequent wiping? No. Nor does it cause dehydration, although if you already have a respectable supply of alcoholic beverages, a mixer might be handy.

It’s respiratory, people. Lungs…


How do those of us who love it share its benefits more broadly?

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Nature: Lots of colors, not just white. Photo by the author.

I’ve been wandering in woods and on seasides almost since I could walk. Nature is where I turn when I’m wounded or undecided. But I don’t think it can help with my current frustration, which is why I’m turning to you.

I recently spent more than an hour awaiting a friend in a lobby at a resort in a U.S. National Park. Four different promotional videos played on large wall-mounted monitors. Beautiful, enticing productions were filled with smiling faces, laughing children, great scenery, and fun pastimes.

There was only one problem, but it was enormous: Out of hundreds of people…


4 things I’d love to see that would make a difference

row of dark light bulbs with one illuminated
row of dark light bulbs with one illuminated
Turn on a prospective writing client. Photo: Colin Behrens/Pixabay/Free for commercial use

Especially when you’re starting out as a freelancer, it can be hard to demonstrate you have the skills editors and corporate clients need most. I’ve hired writers for both experienced and entry-level corporate writing work, and too many portfolio collections look the same, and some miss the point altogether.

Here are four things I’d love to see more often among work samples (and one I hope vainly I might never see again). Whether you were paid to write them is irrelevant. Including some or all of these can demonstrate your chops and help you emerge from the crowd.

  1. Persuasion: two…


Maybe you need to fast on a vision quest. I did. It helped.

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My view of daylight approaching at dawn during my vision fast. Photo by the author.

When you tell someone you just returned from a vision fast, you can see the question dance in their eyes:

“Did you have a vision?”

It’s not the right question. (But yes.)

For me, the right question is, “Do you feel less stuck?” Or simply, “Do you feel better?”

The answer to that is a resounding yes, too. Here’s how I used a vision fast to feel better—and have fun (really!) getting unstuck.

We need challenging rites

Once upon a time, humans everywhere underwent rites of passage that marked key life transitions: child to adult, maiden to mother, adult to warrior, parent to elder…


How a personal ritual helped me cope with a lost love

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Traditional rituals and markers are only one way. Photo by the author.

I’ve just come back from the desert where, among other things, I held a private funeral rite for my partner, who died three years ago. I built a rock cairn, each stone representing one of his best qualities. Two days later I took it apart, tossing his gifts to the wind and the earth.

Perhaps this rite seems belated or strange. But my time building that grave cairn, pacing around it, speaking to him, and weeping is one of the most comforting and transformative things I have yet done in trying to cope with the loss. …


6 unexpected benefits from a vision fast in the desert

A place setting with no food
A place setting with no food
An empty plate can be medicine. Photo by Alla Hetman on Unsplash

I just came home from two weeks in the desert, four days of which were spent solo and fasting.

The emotional and spiritual benefits, which exceeded my hopes, won’t fit in a single article. But I was also surprised by a few simpler benefits I didn’t anticipate at all.

  1. Best detox ever. I’ve used elimination diets, but a week with no caffeine, white flour, or sugar other than dried fruit, followed by four days with nothing but water, has been much more effective—and healing. Just one example: I realized the evening after ending the fast that I was sitting cross-legged…


How a random dog led me to a meaningful treasure

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My new best friend led me to a sweet discovery. Photo by the author.

In a couple of weeks, I’ll fast for four days in Death Valley as part of a vision quest. (I specialize in oddball experiences.) Prior to embarking, questers like me have been directed to walk out into nature to set an intention and, maybe, find guidance. Since a foot of snow covers my local nature, I took my snowshoes.

I had no idea what to expect. The first minor surprise was the appearance of a literal guide. Two unfamiliar dogs greeted me before I reached the trailhead. …


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Determination. Photo by Joni Sensel.

A lyric to the lowly

Joni Sensel

Exploring intuition, imagination, creativity, and other paths to the Divine. Writer, adventurer, creativity advocate. www.jonisensel.com

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