Book Review: How to Change Your Mind

I listened avidly to the audiobook version of Michael Pollan’s new book   and finished it in two days ( I got it the day it came out). This book is worth a read (or listen) for anyone interested in the mind, philosophy, death, and the treatment of mental illness. The book is especially useful if you or someone you love is dealing with anxiety, depression, addiction, or the recent death of a loved one. Here is my review:

For more about Pollan and the book check out his site: here

Michael Pollan on Psychedelics

Michael Pollan is one of my favorite authors to take up the task of examining human-nature relationships. He examines ways in which nature and culture intersect on the most basic physical levels hence his interest in gardening and food. In his new book, “How to Change Your Mind” he looks at the “food of the gods,” psychedelics, and the role they may play in a better understanding of the human mind and the treatment of mental disease such as anxiety and depression. I will definitely do a video review of this book once I have received and read it.

Before you order the book listen to this great interview where Pollan describes some of his thought process and excitement around the topic of psychedelics with Tim Ferriss!  In this interview he asserts that despite the fact that he has often been pigeon-holed as a food writer that he is in fact a nature writer. If you want to skip adds, start about five minutes into the podcast below.

Learn Faster:

Here is a practical technique that you can apply to learning almost any new skill but is especially useful for nature artists and nature journalers!

I have been unintentionally doing this for a while and have only recently recognized the value and started to conceptualize it.

Do you have information dense places that you seek out to accelerate your learning?

Do you have trouble drawing, painting, or journaling in public places? If so, my next post is for you!

Share Your Work!

You might remember your math teacher telling you that the answer was important but “showing your work” was also part of the points on a test. As it turns out, your math teacher was right. This principle still applies today, especially for creative professionals such as visual artists. Social media takes sharing your work to a whole ‘nother level.

This concept was driven home to me by Austin Kleon in his aptly named book  Show Your Work . I found out about Austin Kleon thanks to Chase Jarvis.

An image from Kleon’s book.

I am an avid learner of new things and  my goal right now is to keep my sharing/teaching as up to date with my current passions and studies as possible. It is easy to want to wait until I am an expert about something before posting videos on youtube about it. However, Austin Kleon has convinced me that it is better to learn from a passionate student than a cynical and jaded old expert.

Right now,  I am most passionate about learning as much as I can about herpetoculture, snakes, bioactive vivaria, and the scaping of functional and aesthetic miniature ecosystems.

Here is a recent youtube video I made about this exciting learning process that I knew nothing about 6 months ago:

 

What are you passionate about right now? Are you avidly learning about it? Could you be sharing your process more?

 

For more of the benefits of showing your work check out this short video about the book:

 

Explore Sunset at the Laguna!

In December we will meet at the Laguna de Santa Rosa trail during the most exciting and most beautiful time of day! The crepuscular hours are when many raptors can be seen hunting and many mammals are out in the open. Every time I walk this trail near sunset I’m surprised by how many birds I see and by the incredibly lit landscapes. Last time, I saw a family of owls!

We will focus on techniques for drawing and painting quick landscapes and how to crop and choose a good composition. We will also work a lot on colors and light as the sun drops. While we are working on these, there will probably be cool bird sightings mixed in.

This trail is a very easy hike on flat and mostly paved paths. It is wheelchair accessible. We won’t cover much distance and we will probably have long stationary moments. The weather is unpredictable and can get cool as the sun drops. Bring a packable snack item to share because we will eat on the trail. A foldable lightweight stool and binoculars will be very handy on this trip.

For this trip we will meet later than usual at 1:30pm until 5:00pm to allow us to be out in nature at a special time of day. Our potluck will therefore be more of a “Linner” than a lunch. Meet at the Laguna de Santa Rosa trail parking lot off of Hwy 12 just before the entrance to Sebastopol. There is no address or street name but it is the next turnout after this  Saddle Shop: and before the Chevron.

If it is raining hard the morning of the event we will meet at our backup location, California Carnivores, and draw the incredible plants inside their wonderful greenhouses!The address is:

California Carnivores 2833 Old Gravenstein Hwy Sebastopol, CA 95472

For more information about this incredible carnivorous plant resource in South Sebastopol check out their page: https://www.californiacarnivores.com/

$20 recommended donation

Spoken Reflections From Tanzania: Ngorongoro to Karatu

Tanzania 2017During my trip to Tanzania, I used my nature journal and my pocket notebook for drawing and writing and I used my phone for photos, short videos, and audio recordings. With this diverse toolbox I tried to document my observations, feeling, and impressions.

In this particular recording I give some of my observations about agriculture, tourism, and my personal reactions to the land of contrast.

Most of these observations I make in messy notes in a tiny notebook in the moving bus or car, a practice I have kept up on my last three tropical expeditions. Even though I get car sick I find that there is so much to see during these trips and I have so many ideas that it would be a waste not to record them. The notes are almost illegible because they are made while in motion. I also use this book when I am on fast paced walks or hikes that do not allow for me to pull out my big nature journal sketchbook. On this trip I began the pattern of rereading these notes and elaborating on them verbally with an audio recording. I plan on repeating this system in the future.

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Spoken Reflections From Tanzania: Manyara to Arusha

IMG_5367During my trip to Tanzania, I used my nature journal and my pocket notebook for drawing and writing and I used my phone for photos, short videos, and audio recordings. With this diverse toolbox I tried to document my observations, feeling, and impressions.

Here are some reflections from the last day of the Nature Journal Safari when we drove from Lake Manyara back to Arusha. A lot of observations during the drive, covering a lot of land, seeing a lot of patterns and trying to make landscape level connections in my mind.

IMG_5414 During this drive I was constantly surprised by how barren and dry the landscape looked and how many people it actually supported.

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Spoken Reflections from Tanzania: Day 2

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During my trip to Tanzania, I used my nature journal and my pocket notebook for drawing and writing and I used my phone for photos, short videos, and audio recordings. With this diverse toolbox I tried to document my observations, feeling, and impressions.

The following is a recording where I review my second day:

It was the first day of the Nature Journal Safari and contains many of my first landscape scale impressions from the hours of cross-country driving.

One correction from the audio regarding the hanging beehives. I think they are not actually managed hives but traps for enticing homeless swarms.

IMG_5278I was not expecting so many agaves.

IMG_5279While we were waiting for our permits to enter Tarangire national park I sketched the elephant skull then posed in front of it. Thanks to Dana Vallarino for the photo.

tanzania scans 6-6A page of sketches from that morning.

IMG_5285I took this photo when Impalas were so fresh and novel. By the time we left the Serengeti, Impalas and Gazelle by the hundreds were commonplace.

Scope Out Schollenberger Wetlands!

In June, the North Coast Nature Journal Club will scope out the marshes of Schollenberger park near Petaluma. This convenient park provides ample opportunities to sketch water birds and learn about California’s coastal wetlands, the most endangered of all our ecosystem types. There will also be expansive views of the long extinct volcano that is Sonoma mountain. We will focus on drawing and learning about the plants and birds that inhabit this area and we will also practice composing and executing small landscapes showcasing Sonoma mountain in the background.

Meet at the parking lot at 9:00. Earlier than our normal time! We are meeting earlier to beat the heat a little bit.

The address below might only get you to the intersection of Cader ln if you are following a GPS. From South Mcdowell blvd you will turn onto Cader lane/ Schollenberger park rd and continue to the parking lot. It could be a warm sunny day and we will be out in the open so plan accordingly. Sun hats, sunscreen, lots of water. The walk is very gentle, flat, and wheelchair accessible on a paved route. We will return to the parking lot before the potluck so you can keep bulkier food and beverage items in your car. Bring a light folding stool if you have one, we will do some more extended landscape and plant paintings at this location.

As usual be prepared to get super-curious in nature and connect with like minded people! Bring a potluck item to share for lunch around 12:30.

Suggested donation $20