compassionate guidance through writing, nature, & life's difficult landscapes

compassionate guidance through writing, nature, & life's difficult landscapes

About Jennifer, Writing Mentor

I am a writer. I help others write, too. This is a story about my journey. 


Published Author

PhD: Environmental Studies (Crafts Coops & Protected Areas)
MA: Education (Intercultural, Environmental Group Learning)
BA: Liberal Arts (Ecology & Spirituality, Special Educ, Spanish)
Certificated Mediator, Community Boards; Certificated Online Mediator-via-Zoom, Virtual Mediation Lab
Certificated Vigil Volunteer, Sacred Dying Foundation

Relevant Experience: Spiritual Ecologist, Faculty, Environmental Researcher, Speaker, Editor, Consultant, Conflict Coach/Support, Rites of Passage Guide, Wilderness Guide Assistant

Current (& Recent) Memberships: Environment Sector Volunteer - Charter for Compassion, BINK Interfaith Council and Climate Circle, Board of Directors - Life Story Library Foundation, Research Reviewer - Society for Human Ecology, Instructor - Compassion Education Institute, Wilderness Guides Council, Partner (Arts, Education, Environment, Peace, Religion/Spirituality/Interfaith, and Restorative Justice Sectors) - Charter for Compassion, Parliament of the World's Religions, (Washington Mediation Association, Association for Dispute Resolution of Northern CA, Community Boards of San Francisco)

Passions: Writing & Reading, Ecology, Arts/Crafts/Creativity, Compassion, Community Service, Hospice, Photography, Spirituality, Travel

To request a copy of my CV, a list of prior research projects or past speaking engagements, please use the contact form.

The Seed

When I was twelve years old, my English teacher gave us an assignment to write a twenty page, typed, fictitious story. At first overwhelmed, I soon found myself writing and illustrating page after page about someone around whom I felt my life revolved. I added in a bit of wishful thinking, changed some names, and altered a few details; voila! it became a piece of fiction. I reached an impasse when I realized that I did not know how to finish the story. (This was, after all, a memoir about my still-unfolding life.) Well ahead of the deadline when this dilemma with the ending presented itself, I took a break from writing. Several nights later I had a dream in which I was offered a conclusion for my story. When I awoke, I added the dream's wisdom to the fifteen pages I had already written and proudly held the completed twenty page creation in my young hands. This experience planted the seed of writing in me; my passion and power to write were born!

From prolific journals and melancholy poetry that I kept hidden from the world, to children's stories for my once-young nieces and nephews, I never stopped writing in my youth. The themes began to focus on my relationship to the natural world by the time I was in my mid to late twenties.

Academia & Professional Beginnings

During graduate school I primarily wrote academic pieces and further developed my skills as a writer about nature and the environment. I also began to critique fellow grad students' work as part of my professional development as a scholar. This led to teaching at the undergraduate and graduate levels. I was especially interested in working with students conducting research, writing a thesis, or writing about passions similar to my own: creativity, relationship to nature, conservation. This experience as an instructor and mentor of writing was invaluable. I discovered that I love helping people hone their writing skills, nurturing their process as writers, and supporting them as they find their writing edges.

More recently, I have worked as a writing tutor, proofreader and editor both within and outside of academia.

Writing as Ecotone, about Ecotone

As a spiritual ecologist, I am deeply inspired to write about how experiences in natural environments interconnect with and transform our inner lives - and how our inner lives guide our action in and on behalf of nature. I call this interface the inner/outer landscape. I am compelled by the dynamic ways in which Self and Nature are one, and how they influence each other. In ecology, the term "ecotone" refers to the transition zone between two or more natural areas (such as where the forest meets a meadow). The ecotone typically contains characteristic species from each of the contributing natural areas and is thus considered to be especially rich in biodiversity. I often experience the inner/outer landscape convergence as an ecotone and much of my published writing focuses on this rich idea.

I am intrigued with notions of shadow and light, beauty and pain, the Wild Other (outside of and within us), and balance and excess. Most readily I see these manifested in death, loss and grief; addiction and recovery; meditation and spirituality; and in the visual arts. I see in my written work layers of stories and concepts related to these themes.

Service to Others

Community service has been part of my daily landscape for forty years. Since my first trained position as a thirteen year old candystriper, volunteering has been a steady personal commitment. In an eclectic array of contexts (including environmental and human rights groups, soup kitchens, conferences and workshops, arts venues, and crisis hotlines), I have offered support to my community. Since 2001, my primary service work has been as a hospice volunteer, and as a vigiler. I am honored to be called to the bedsides of people who are dying and to support their families. I am utterly and deeply moved by their stories. More recently, I have facilitated grief and loss groups too. I have been privileged to sit in the sacred terrain of vision fast circles mirroring the fasters' stories and witnessing their spiritual quest in the wilderness. I also spent time serving on the local Diversion Board for first-time juvenile offenders; I worked with other community volunteers listening and offering guidance using a restorative justice model. Currently, I sit on the Board of Directors for Life Story Library Foundation and on the Environment Sector Task Force of the Charter for Compassion. I am also a partner of the Charter for Compassion as well as an instructor for their Compassion Education Institute.

I thrive on and am sustained by these experiences of voluntarily serving others. When I open to my community in compassion, I am led back to the writing page with renewed gentleness and honesty.

I currently live in the Puget Sound area of Western Washington, writing and wandering my way through the glorious days of rain and verdant landscapes. My story continues to unfold.

Copyright © 2009 - Jennifer J. Wilhoit, Ph.D. All rights reserved.

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