I helped a friend yesterday with a bit of yard work. Helped to plant a few flowers. Trimmed a tree. Pulled a few weeds. Burried a bird. Enjoyed these existing flowers coming to life in spring. I’ve always loved the persistence, and perhaps creativity, of flowers that grow among rocks. The yard care, and the company, were very renewing.

Four weeks ago I took a rest from posting in this blog. Though writing remains tremendously edifying to me, and is one of my offerings, I followed my instincts, to surrender even that. We were all in some surrender those days. And are in these days. I needed to be in the space of “no words” to follow some grief. To go further with the surrender. To rest in a slowed and emptied landscape.

Well, in the surrender and the renewal I found myself in an unplanned website redesign. The platform I was using was about to expire. I have to say it was fun to upgrade a few skills (after my giant gulp of “oh no”). It was fun to tend to my website, migrating a few materials, removing some, playing with look and feel. I loved selecting a few recent photos to highlight this site, scrolling through my phone from a few recent important gatherings.

In the last four weeks I spent a fair amount of time writing in a different way — on flip charts and grouping post-it notes. I think I needed to revisit in a very visual way what I was learning and what I was loving. I loved having those visuals on my wall, much like I love these spring flowers growing amidst rocks. Some of that will likely come out in the coming days and weeks of posts.

In one part of the conversation yesterday, my friend and I shared that we’d been going through what feels a full spectrum of CoVid related emotions every day and sometimes every hour. Grief. Fear. Surrender. Mesmerized appreciation. Joy. Panic. I’ve heard this from a lot of people I’ve been in touch with.

Such it is. We live in the times we live in. Until we don’t. I’m grateful for renewal. And tending with friends.

Teaser — Book Publishing Nearer

For the last year, a lot of my writing practice has been creating and compiling poems. The poems mostly begin with raw material from my private journal. It’s been sense-making. It’s been healing. It’s been getting the inner to the outer. The title came to me as I was learning to befriend despair, rather than just resist or deny it.

Along the way, a friend encouraged me to consider publishing to book format and harvest. I’m grateful for the support of CentreSpoke Publishing.

I’m excited (and a bit nervous also) to share that a book release is near.

A Cadence of Despair:
Poems and Reflections on
Heartbreak, Loss, and Renewal

I’m awaiting “proof copy” now. Which means that after a few more edits, it’s going to print. Ordering information will be available mid March. As will a  website with more info and context.

A Cadence of Despair has some pretty thick and heavy material in it. It’s got the deeply personal that I believe connects to the broader universal. My intent has been honesty. Authenticity. Vulnerability. The chapters follow a progression that descends to shame and grief, peeks up with hints, insights, and friendships. It descends again to loss and fear, to rise again to renewal and new life. I would offer that the descent is as important as the ascent in these journeys of well-being that so many of us seek. I wrote this book (it’s also accurate to say that this book wrote me) originally thinking it was more for men, but I think it is for women also — we are all trying to find our way.

I’m grateful for readers and the praise they’ve offered, which will be included in the book or on the website. Below is a little sample from a few of my writer friends.

From Christina Baldwin, Author of Life’s Companion, The Seven Whispers, Storycatcher, and The Circle Way

In this brave and vulnerable book, Tenneson Woolf illustrates once again that we humans are made stronger at our broken and mended places. His mid-life descent, survival, and ascent into a man still in process is a profound map. We may try to avoid these dark corners, but whatever we, the reader, face will be strengthened by the light he shines.

From Margaret Wheatley, Author of many books including Perseverance, Leadership and the New Science, and Who Do We Choose To Be

Whenever anyone tells the truth about their experience, hiding nothing, we have the chance to recognize the human experience. Dark nights of the soul are an initiation into spiritual wisdom. Dwell with Tenneson in these poems and you’ll know what this means. If you find yourself in these pages, you will have received the gift that Tenneson offers.

From Charles LaFond, Author of Note to Self: Creating Your Guide to a More Spiritual Life

Tenneson has wandered the valleys of grief and the mountains of success. His poetry is a companioning prescription for anyone living life with all of its joys and sadnesses. These poems are soul-food – healthy and healing. Drink deep of these poems and be not alone.

From Ann Pelo, Author most recently of From Teaching to Thinking: A Pedagogy for Reimagining Our Work

In his brave book, Tenneson embodies the courage of vulnerability and the grace of truth-telling. “Be with life,” he writes, and that’s the story he offers us—the story of being with life, in grief and discovery, with companions and alone and, always, with steadfast presence. In his poetry and essays, Tenneson opens his heart to us, and invites us to open our hearts to life.

Excited. Nervous. Grateful. And near.


3/17/20 — It’s now live. Please enjoy exploring here and ordering a copy as inspired. With appreciation.