Monthly Archives: January 2015

JANUARY 26TH 2021: Don’t Knock Survival

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DON’T KNOCK SURVIVAL: When I was a freshman in college, on the verge of dropping out, a professor trying to spur me on said, “Don’t worry, you’ll survive the year.”

“I don’t want to survive. I want to succeed.” I retorted earnestly, and he laughed. He was one of those old-school anthropologists who had spent a lot of time in Africa studying initiation ceremonies and I could tell he was pretty unimpressed by my freshman-level trials.

“Don’t knock survival,” he said, and thus concluded our office visit. This year these three words have been a kind of mantra for me. How about you? What’s kept you steady?

Mostly, I’ve been taking care of the two sweetums pictured up above; two real-world Looney Tunes that always have some mischief to attend to. I have to give a shout out to my intrepid co-parents Dan Rothenberg and Whitney Peeling who have accompanied me in dealing with the daily transition-wars and endless appeals for more candy while holding down full-time jobs. Only because of their next-level parenting skills have I managed to carve away a little space for some new creative endeavors I’d like to share with you now.

WRITING: I’ve been hammering away at some creative non-fiction and a few renegade poems. A couple of publications have been kind enough to even print a few pieces. I miss collaborative ensemble theater awfully some days, but I gotta say, writing in solitude has got some perks. Two of the three pieces are not online, but if you’re willing to invest in ye old printed word you can find them through these links…

The American Poetry Review: Vol 49 #5
The Iowa Review
Hopper Magazine

TEACHING: I’m offering a short course in The Ecological Theater through the School of Embodied Poetics: MARCH 24th-April 14th. The course will survey a broad range of artists from various artistic backgrounds who put the non-human world at the center of their practice.

I also continue to do Forest Therapy walks throughout the Greater Philadelphia region. At the moment walks are virtual, but we are hoping to return to ones that are in-person in the spring.

If you’ve made it this far here’s a song by the unsurpassable Bengsons to keep you going.

-Anisa

April 24th, 2020: Being Together & Apart

“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”  – John Muir

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Hello Friends. How are you doing out there? Are you finding ways to stay steady and healthy? Are there practices, rituals, or tactics you’ve developed to feel a sense of abundance over scarcity; freedom within your confinement; joy alongside fear and anxiety?

I thought when physical distancing became enforced that my social sojourns in the woods would have to come to an end, and, like the rest of the world, went virtual, in what I thought would be a piss poor version of the real forest therapy deal. The initial virtual versions of my forest therapy walks were an attempt to follow through on some pre-pandemic commitments, but to my great surprise my first online experience was one of the most memorable nature connections I’ve ever had. It included six walkers who called in from Mexico, England, Germany, Sweden, and the United States. They spent two hours breathing with me and gazing out at the greater world. It was wild to hear Mexican ocean waves and Scandinavian winds in the same soundscape, to simultaneous wander by the refugee camps of Berlin and the cherry blossoms on the National Mall. For the first time, I felt a sense of the planet as a single organism, expressing itself in innumerable, immutable iteration. My own species, the narrator, was no longer on the God mic, but now quiet, one step removed, as if observing from the wings, as the beauty of spring awakening took center stage. This is all a very difficult thing to express in words, and is much easier felt through the senses, so I’ve decided to keep hosting these walks online as long as physical distancing continues. I’d love to invite you to join me and to add your chapter of the world, along with your insights. Perhaps we might all begin to understand together a little something about what it means to be alive in this moment.

Hope to see some of you soon. With much love! – Anisa

August 6th, 2019: Forest Therapy

“To the eyes of the man of imagination, Nature is imagination itself.” – William Blake 

Hello Friends,

         It’s been awhile since I sent out a newsletter like this, and it’s hard to know exactly where to begin. Perhaps with my name, which comes from “The Hidden Words” of Baha’u’llah. “The Tree of Anisa” (شجره انیسا) is a metaphorical tree from Baha’i literature which stretches between earth and heaven, as well as the title of a play my parents created the year I was born. That’s my dad on the left being the tree. (Nice extension dad).

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Like the words C. G. Jung wrote on his tombstone, “First, man of the earth, terrestrial. Second, man of the sky celestial” – the tree of Anisa bridges the animal and spiritual dimensions of human nature, creating an integrated habitat within which we can thrive. In many ways, trees have always been a part of my story. Some of you planted over six hundred saplings with me at Little Pond this past spring. And those of you who know my theater work, will be familiar with my habit of dragging problematic amounts of organic material indoors. Throughout a number of plays I wove furniture out of wild vines, built walls with firewood, and embroidered costumes with leaves and fur. Perhaps it’s inevitable then, that I should eventually locate my work to the forest, where trees abound and do not require interacting with UHAUL or gallons of Rosco Flamex spray.

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       Last year I discovered a Japanese-based practice called Shin-rin-yoku (often translated as Forest Bathing) and am currently in training to become a certified Forest Therapy Guide through the Association of Forest and Nature Therapy (ANFT). At its most basic level, forest therapy is a method of bringing people into forest environments so that they can form their own restorative relationship with the environment in which humans evolved. The guide helps individuals to slow down and to access the essential resources available to them within the environment. But to be honest, a lot of the benefits I have personally received from this practice go beyond pharmaceutical effects. A forest therapy walk has to be directly experienced to be understood. I hope you will join me for a taste.