Tuesday, January 6, 2009

New Year, New face

Happy New Year! I spent my week-plus away from blogging working on a complicated roll-out of my new "public face," including a totally new web site (same address, new and more profound content, more graphics, including slide shows of some of my work restoring urban wildlife habitat), a new blog, and a new weekly commentary and podcast (you can listen to and subscribe to the latter on the new site).

The point of this new public face is to honor my New Year's resolution: I'm going to write and speak with my heart outstretched as if it were my hand. (That's from a line in Mary Chapin Carpenter's song Goodnight America: "dreaming with my heart outstretched as if it were my hand.") I've had this intent for a while now, and this year, I'm working on stretching that heart/hand even farther.

So I spent the time between Winter Solstice and New Year's Day thinking about what I believe, how I live my life, and why I do the work I do. I'm determined to articulate my core values and my experiences more clearly and more compellingly in order to help others who seek a deeper connection benefit from what I've learned. Hence the credo on the home page of my new web site, which begins with these lines:
It seems to me that many of us feel lost, as if we've cut ourselves off from something we deeply need. I think that what we're missing is an everyday connection with nature, the home of our species. ... We may have forgotten nature, but the community of the land has not forgotten us.
What's important in our lives is not how much we earn or how big our houses are, or whether we have the latest electronic toys or reach the highest rung on whatever job ladder we're on, but how we live each moment of every day. I believe in living a green and generous life, "green" in the sense of making my life a positive contribution to a healthy Earth, and "generous" in the sense of spreading around the blessings I have, sharing them with family, friends, and the larger community, both human and wild. Just what constitutes a green and generous life is the topic I'll be exploring in the coming weeks, and I hope you'll join me in that conversation.

But first I have to work through a thicket of technical glitches that have come up as I've designed & integrated my new public face. The web site is up, but still has some formatting glitches that need fixing as soon as my site host works out their server permissions issues. The blog was all ready to go until the blog host lost its address; resurrecting the latter ruined the custom formatting I'd labored over so I'm back to the virtual drawing board there. (You'd think that Mercury, the planet which rules communications, was going into retrograde with all of these hang-ups--in fact, Mercury IS going retrograde starting the 11th of January and continuing through February 1. So I may be in for a long slog!)

Communications issues aside, I'm starting off the year with great news: My memoir, Walking Nature Home, will be published in March by University of Texas Press, and I've been invited to debut the book with a talk and signing at Denver Botanic Gardens on March 25th. So if you'll be in the area, join me and special guest, photographer Jim Steinberg, for "Bringing Wildness Home: Nature as Everyday Inspiration." If you can't get to Denver for that opening appearance, check my web site in the coming months for other events. Also, you can sample the book at the publisher's web site.

Starting next week, I'll be in writing heaven: I've been awarded a three-month fellowship that frees me from my accustomed deadlines. So until mid-April, I'll have the luxury of working on my next book without having to worry about generating an income. Wow! My profound thanks to Terra Foundation for supporting my work, and to Colorado Art Ranch for making the fellowship possible.

Here's my wish for all of you for 2009: May you find what you need to follow yourr heart. And in the doing, may you know much love and joy!


eduardo said...

Dear SJT,
So you're living with your heart outstretched as though it were a hand. (Silly moi, I thought you'd been doing that awhile already.) Being the mystic/punster/word-picturer that I am, I'm wondering whether you'll be wearing your heart on your sleeve, or rather, your sleeve on your heart.
Whether it's hope, or intuitive insight, I'm sensing this still fresh year will be softer and more kind than recent ones. There's a gentleness that already seems to abide.
Brightest blessings for the new years; and for each new year to follow.
Write soon,

Susan J Tweit said...

Dear Eduardo,

Well, I have been, but I'm extending it farther! I wasn't thinking of wearing my heart on my sleeve or my sleeve on my heart--though those are fun images to play with. I had in mind my heart outstretched at the end of my arm, like a hand outstretched.

I hope that your intuitive insight is correct. We could certainly use some of that gentleness and a kinder year all around. Blessings to you too, and to your writing.... Susan

turtlewoman said...

Good morning Susan - I do love the look of your "new" web site. It is beautiful and simple and much easier to read and to navigate than the "old" site.

I am planning to use some holiday gift money to purchase both of your new books. I also love the work being done by Sherrie York and so was doubly happy to see the collaboration by both of you in "Walking Nature Home".


Susan J Tweit said...

Hi, Lindy,

Thanks! Designing the new site was a ton of work, but I'm really happy with my new public face! Next comes a new blog (I'll link this one to it), but I've had some technical problems with that which are proving difficult to solve. It'll come eventually.

I was delighted and honored that Sherrie wanted to do the illustrations for Walking Nature Home. The chapters are named for constellations, and she painted a watercolor of each constellation. They are beautiful, and add so much to the book.

I hope all's well in the land of ironwood and saguaros.... Susan

turtlewoman said...

Hi Susan, It has occurred to me that you must write almost all of the time. You have a website, blog, books to write, articles to write, deadlines, book signings, workshops and classes to teach, lectures, appearances. I'm sure there is a great deal more that I haven't even touched on.

Have you considered writing a book about the life of an author?


BTW - Yes, thank you - things are fine and overwhelmingly busy (always busy teaching 4th grade ELL)in the land of ironwood and saguaros..... The "Wolf Moon" was spectacular at sunset this evening! Hope to have pics. on my blog tomorrow.

©Hotbutton Press said...

Congratulations for starting the new year with such a positive outlook and a marvelous opportunity! I suspect they're cosmically linked, don't you? ;)



Susan J Tweit said...

Hi, Dani,

Yup, a positive outlook is something I'm deliberately cultivating, despite all that's going on. And I'm convinced that we only see opportunities if we're looking for them (and we have some sense of what we are aiming for). I wouldn't have imagined the writing fellowship in this specific form, but once I saw it, I knew how to use it!

Blessings, Susan

Susan J Tweit said...

Hi, Lindy,

I am indeed a fulltime writer. Which means I'm probably certifiable, since writing is not one of those high-paying pursuits, so supporting myself and my spouse with my words and my wit means I work all the time. But I love it: it's my passion and my vocation (in the old-fashioned sense of my calling) as well as how I make my living. I've never thought of writing a book about being a writer--although it might be fun to do that for kids, say middle-graders.

The Wolf Moon was spectacular here just before dawn!


Susan GT said...

Congratulations on such a wonderful opportunity to write and let your deadline go for a while!!

May your experience be inspiring and energizing for you.

Susan J Tweit said...

Hi, Susan (G-T),

As you can imagine, I'm over the moon about the fellowship. I just have to get some other projects off my desk before Friday, and field all of the invites to speak, read, teach that have poured into my email box in response to my appeal for ideas for promoting Walking Nature Home. It's an exciting time, and also a bit overwhelming.

And I still have to get my new blog designed and up. In time. In time. (Patience isn't my best talent either!)


Anderson said...

Bravo Susan!
Those were words well used. I stumbled upon you blog by accident and I’m so glad I have. I’m off to peek at your website.