As I feared , I didn’t have the energy to attend all the sessions of the wonderful Wild Wonder Nature Journaling Conference . Since I was still interested in participating as much as possible, I took note of the daily challenges, but wasn’t sure I had the steam for them. Fortunately, one of the first sessions I attended gave me a tool to deal with this problem.

In Nature Journaling Mindset: Tips, Tricks, Techniques for Growth, Learning and Motivation (the core of which is also available as a YouTube video ), Marley Peifer suggested we reflect on various nature journaling activities in terms of the energy they require. He refers to it as “finding your juice.” Since this varies from person to person, we each need to do this for ourselves.

He recommends identifying three specific categories of activity:

  • Your bread and butter. These are the things you go to automatically, are comfortable with, and can do easily. Choose this if you’re feeling really tired.
  • Your juice. Anything that gets you excited and energizes you as you do it. This may take a little more energy to get started.
  • Your growth edge (what I consider my soufflé). These are the things that you want to be doing but find difficult, even challenging. Since these activities will take the most energy, save them for those moments when you are feeling strong and motivated.
Once I realized the power of knowing my juice, I took the time to think about it carefully.

I love this idea. I was already thinking this way about some of my other interests, like knitting and sewing. For example, I know socks are my knitting bread and butter. When I want to knit but am not up for a challenge, it’s time to make socks. Making a sweater for a dinosaur is my juice — it’s exciting to me, and different without being stressful. It will take more effort, but if things don’t work out, it doesn’t matter. My dinosaurs never complain. Making a sweater for myself, however, is soufflé-level knitting. It takes concentration and energy, at least to find the pattern and get started, and there is the concern that I may wind up with something that doesn’t fit.

Tiny loves her Velma sweater… mostly.
The first day of school! Tiny poses in her new outfit for Mom (who always has her camera handy).

Knowing your bread and butter, juice, and soufflé makes it easier in the moment to decide what to do. The first day of the conference, I wanted to take on the daily challenge, but I was tired, and the part of me that resists everything insisted I was too tired for nature journaling. Then I remembered Marley’s advice: I should go with my bread and butter. I didn’t have to get out my paints or try to draw a complicated plant. I could sit on my lawn, examine the grass, and draw in black-and-white. So that’s what I did.

Going with my bread and butter made it possible for me to do this page.

I came back inside feeling much better than I had when I went out, just as I usually do when I take the time for my nature journal. But I would never have started at all if I hadn’t remembered that I could match my journaling style to my energy level. It’s a simple idea, but one that’s hard to implement if you don’t know what you find easy and what you find hard.

Do you know what your nature journaling juice is?

For those who missed Wild Wonder 2020, you can now buy access to the recordings of the sessions for just $45, which is a real steal. Many of the sessions were worth this much on their own. The videos will be available until April 10, 2021. (Note: I have no affiliation with the conference nor do I get reimbursed for this endorsement. I just feel this is a wonderful resource that shouldn’t be missed.)

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