Talks & Teaching

SPEAKING

The slenderest sliver of new moon, a symbol of new beginnings…

Are you looking for a passionate and inspiring speaker for your conference, symposium, group or corporation? I speak and teach from both head and heart, informed by my life experiences, education and craft. 

Watch this three-minute Nature Conservancy video on pollinators featuring me, or sample this keynote talk. (It’s the full talk, in two parts.)

Speaking from my Terraphilia

Terraphilia n. An intrinsic affection for and connection to the Earth and its community of lives. Without this connection we are lonely, lacking, no longer whole. (My late husband, sculptor Richard Cabe and I coined the word to describe what motivates our work and our lives.)

Our “Terraphilia,” entry in the 33 Ideas Art Show at Denver International Airport (2010)

I believe that people have a positive role to play in the community of the land, even if we’ve forgotten it. And I believe that life itself is numinous, charged with spiritual power. As a Quaker, I try to live what I believe. Hence my vocation: healing our relationship with this blue planet by rekindling our terraphilia. Bringing awareness of and appreciation for our innate kinship with nature–and the responsibilities and blessings that entails–home to our daily lives.

It seems to me that many of us feel lost, bereft–as if something essential, something we deeply need is lacking from our lives. I think that what we’re missing is an everyday connection with nature, the home of our species.

We like to think we are above belonging to the messy stew of wild relationships that birthed Homo sapiens. But that community is part of who we are, from the myriad microorganisms that help our bodies function to the plants that respire in tandem with our breaths, exhaling the oxygen we breathe in and absorbing the carbon dioxide we exhale. We may have forgotten nature, but the community of the land has not forgotten us. Every day, the other species around us go about their lives in our company. It’s often no harder to get to know them than it is our human neighbors, and it’s just as enlightening. Better still, it weaves us into the fabric of nature, and brings us home.

I just wanted to tell you how much your talk meant to me. You are an incredible person, a beacon of light and wisdom to the rest of us.      —Conference attendee

Email me, and let’s talk!

WORKSHOPS

Teaching for me is another way to offer my gifts, whether helping writers reach their dreams through creative writing workshops, helping scientists communicate about their work, or by helping gardeners grow sustainable landscapes that restore the vibrancy and health of nature right at home. I’m a dynamic teacher, listening to my students, adjusting to their needs, and digging deep to inspire and inform. I bring all of my experience in life and work, all of my knowledge and my whole heart to my students to help them grow, learn and reach for their dreams. 

My workshops can be customized to suit the audience and the length of time available, from a few hours to a week. Read the examples below, and then contact me to talk about what you’re looking for. 

CREATIVE WRITING

Stories nurture our connection to place and to each other. They show us where we’ve been and where we can go. They remind us of how to be human, how to live alongside the other lives that animate this planet. …No one story can give us the whole picture. We need every voice to speak its version of the truth from the silence. We need every story to guide our lives. 

     —from my first memoir, Walking Nature Home, A Life’s Journey

I didn’t write that passage as a teaching philosophy, but that belief in the importance of each voice and each story guides my work with writers. Here are examples of writing workshops I’ve taught:

Words to Live By

What do the words we use mean? And how can we call on their essential power to guide our craft and imagination? Build a “word prompt ring” with key words to motivate and inform writing and life.

Thank you for sending me out to look at the stars last night before I went to bed and for giving me a push in the direction of taking charge of my dreams.      —Workshop participant

Finding Voice and Grace in the Hard Stuff

How do we handle the hard stuff in our writing? How do we write about the issues that are controversial, painful, or just no fun? Practice writing techniques that strengthen our voices and reveal the grace and wisdom to be found in tough times and tough writing.

This was my favorite workshop at the conference. It gave me great tools for dealing with current issues in my writing.      –Writing the Hard Stuff workshop participant

Field Notes: Writing From Life

Use the techniques of scientists to sharpen your observation skills and bring the richness of detail to your work. Draw on the lessons of nature to stimulate your creativity and hone your words.

Your workshop was exactly what I needed. I can’t thank you enough for inspiring my writing.            —Memoir writer

Take One a Day: Haiku as Writing Practice

Show up! is one of the most difficult tenets of writing. The ancient art of haiku teaches us how to be present and make use of every moment. Think you don’t have time to write? Try one haiku a day, and watch your creativity grow and your words come forth.

Thanks for breathing life into my words. You bring a story to life with what you leave out.     
     —TED speaker

A western swallowtail butterfly drinking nectar at a Rocky Mountain beeplant on what once was a barren and weedy industrial property, and now hums with pollinators and wildflowers.