Tina Welling and I met for a cup of Goddess tea at a popular restaurant in her hometown of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I was a little nervous – this being the author of one of my favorite books : Writing Wild, whose pages in my copy are dog-eared, highlighted, and trimmed with skinny colorful post-its.
Dressed in three shades of lilac, her silvery blonde hair loosely framing her face, Tina has a striking presence which belies a soft-spoken demeanor. I found myself wondering whether it’s the latter that facilitates her profound connection to nature, or whether it’s the extensive amount of time she spends in nature that has shaped her gentle manner.
After spending time with her, I imagine it’s a little of both.
In Writing Wild, Tina Welling reminds us that our connection to nature plays a vital role in us being our most authentic, best selves, “When we let nature befriend us we are comforted by her bounty, exhilarated by her beauty, fed by her abundance, and energized by her rhythms.”
And when we align our creative practices with natural principles, we find joy; healing both ourselves and the earth.
I’m excited to share my interview with Tina Welling, along with some excerpts from Writing Wild:
- How would you describe your relationship with Nature?
My relationship with nature is one of unconditional love on both ends. No matter what is going on with me, I can walk out my door, breathe deeply, take in the sounds around me and the silence beneath them and remember that I am a part of something sacred and alive. This moment of realization opens me to an acceptance of the moment and whatever it holds for me. I’m offered space then for many things, including creative energy.
- In your book Writing Wild you mention having had a deep fear of the wilderness, and that you are a different person now than you were before having a relationship with Nature. How did you overcome the fear, and what are the main ways you have changed?
My relationship with Nature was an exact replica to my relationship with inner self. I was in fear of both. I suspected – rightly – that opening to the natural world and my authentic self was going to complicate my life before simplifying it. I’m a big fan of baby steps and that’s how I worked with both issues. I began to walk just a bit farther from my doorway each day, until I ended up deep into canyons in the Grand Teton Mountains. And all along I was spending time alone with my thoughts and emotions, writing in my journal, reading the wisdom of others.
I totally revolutionized my life, without actually intending to. I moved from being a housebound, dependent wife and mother to being an independent thinking woman who hiked, skied, wrote novels, and owned a resort business.
- Why is a relationship with Nature so important for us all?
Somehow the wisdom that we are made of “star stuff,” as Carl Sagan put it, has taken a backseat to more cultural concerns. The fact is that we are nature. There is no divisive line separating us. I am the new leaf sprouting on the tree, the call of the raptor, the wave on the sea. We are life – humans, animals, stars, and streams.
- You live in one of my favorite places in the United States, Jackson Hole, Wyoming where 97% of the land is protected as wild. I imagine you have had many memorable experiences in wild places and with the abundant wildlife there. Tell us one of your favorites.
Although I live in a valley of extreme sports adventurers, I tend more toward a sense of being when outdoors, rather than accomplishing things like checking off peaks to climb, slopes to ski. But one summer my two sisters flew into Jackson Hole and we backpacked the Teton Crest Trail, an activity alien to all of us.
The first night out, our camp was attacked by a black bear who stole all our food and chased us in our pajamas away from camp. We had to hike out ten miles without the proper gear and no food.
The next summer, my sisters came back and we backpacked the trail again, this time successfully hiking the crest of the Tetons for five days. It was a fabulous experience – both summers.
- In the chapter The Body Never Lies you write: “A relationship with our body, creating a home within ourselves, a friendship in which the mind speaks for the body’s experience, is the basis for our relationship with our greater body: the earth.” How does that work?
An old spiritual law states, “As above, so below.” What is true for the larger pattern is true for the smaller. The earth is the macrocosm, our bodies are the microcosm, so we can know the natural world through a deepened relationship with our own bodies.
Our senses are our power lines between our bodies and the natural world. It’s through our senses that we experience both our bodies and our place on the planet.
- You compare being in nature to being in love, “An exchange of energy occurs with the natural world itself and feels similar to an exchange of intense eye contact with our beloved.” How do we best go about creating our personal relationship with Nature?
In Writing Wild, I explain that we create a relationship with nature the same way we create a relationship with a person. We spend time in their presence. We offer our attention. We enjoy the exchange.
- You write about how a relationship with Nature helps our writing and our creativity. How does it also help our life?
Being in nature teaches us how to become comfortable with stillness, it nourishes us, demonstrates that the present moment is all we have, that nothing is wasted, that everything is connected to everything else.
The natural world is filled with lessons about how to live our lives, solve our problems, giving us patterns to follow and trust.
- Do people have to live in a place like Jackson Hole in order to have a relationship with Nature?
The quality of a person’s relationship with the natural world resides within us, not without. No matter where we live, we have the sky; we have the earth. If we spend our time in cities, we can adopt a tree, enjoy house plants, admire ants in the cracks of the sidewalk, pigeons on the windowsills. We can take a thread from our pants cuff and follow it to the sun, knowing we are holding a rain cloud, composted earth, energy from deep underground and moonlight. A single thread of our clothing is a microcosm of life.
Look inside Writing Wild by Tina Welling.