Latest posts


The Hobbit
by J. R. R. Tolkien

Started Jul 5, 2020
Finished Jul 21, 2020


Wilding: Returning Nature to Our Farm
by Isabella Tree

Started Feb 19, 2020
Finished May 30, 2020


Devil's Road
by Gary Gibson

Started Mar 11, 2020
Finished Mar 21, 2020


by Dan Stout

Started Feb 4, 2020
Finished Feb 17, 2020


Dark Age (Red Rising, Book 5)
by Pierce Brown

Started Jan 15, 2020
Finished Feb 3, 2020


Iron Gold (Red Rising, Book 4)
by Pierce Brown

Started Dec 1, 2019
Finished Jan 15, 2020

Forest Bathing

I try to use my lunch break each day to take a walk outside. The neighborhood where I work is one of Pittsburgh’s nicest, full of charming houses, brick and cobblestone streets, and towering sycamore trees. Usually when I start out, my mind is racing from whatever problem I was just struggling with. As my heart rate increases and I start to breathe deeper, my head clears as well and I gradually relax into the rhythm of walking.

I walk the perimeter of the neighborhood, which abuts Frick Park, a massive woodland in the middle of the city. Along those perimeter streets there are lots of places where trails dip into the woods. I know the park well, but in the past I’ve avoided venturing in on my lunchtime walk; I figured there wasn’t enough time, and I’d get drawn in and miss an important meeting.

Well, the other day, before I knew what I was doing, I was on the trail, winding my way through the woods. There is a palpable difference between walking tree-lined streets, however lovely they may be, and walking in a real forest. The winding path, the dappled light from the canopy overhead, the soundscape of trickling water and rustling leaves. I felt an immediate sense of relief, well-being, and vitality. After a few minutes I was overwhelmed with emotion and had tears in my eyes.

I’m not sure what provoked that sort of response, but I guess it had been quite a while since I took a walk in the woods by myself. I craved it. As I settled into the rhythm of the walk and let myself be pulled along by the trail, I got to thinking: If a walk in the woods is that therapeutic for me, why not do it more often? What are the stressors in my life that make basic self-care so difficult? What long-term harm is that doing to my health? To my relationships? What am I missing out on? What can I do about it?

The older I get, the more I realize this problem isn’t just about adjusting my priorities. There simply are not enough hours in the day to work full time, cook healthy meals, exercise regularly, read broadly, make art, and be an attentive parent, a considerate husband, and an engaged community member. I can prioritize all I want, but it’s hard to ignore the fact that roughly half my waking hours are spent getting ready for work, commuting to and from work, and working.

That’s hardly an original thought, but maybe it’s worth considering why so many people are so vexed by this same problem. The rat race. I’m lucky enough to have a job I enjoy… I just want to spend less time doing it, and more time in the woods, or with my family, or sitting on my porch swing doing nothing at all.

A stone waymarker reading "Skalholt 49 KM" in Thingvellir National Park, Iceland.
A stone waymarker reading "Skalholt 49 KM" in Thingvellir National Park, Iceland.

There and Back Again

And just like that, we’re back from our long-planned adventure to Iceland.

Every part of the trip went about as well as it could have. We explored an incredible variety of landscapes, from seaside cliffs to sulfur-steaming volcanoes to glacial lakes to sheep-dotted grasslands to black-sand beaches to the charming urban streets of Reykjavik.

Each day was busy, but the combination of fresh air, exertion, and wild landscapes nourished me in a way I didn’t know I needed. We explored only a small fraction of the island (from the capitol city to Snaefellsness peninsula in the west, then to the south as far east as Vík). But after eight days, Iceland left us wanting more.

We will be back.


Making Things Right: The Simple Philosophy of a Working Life
by Ole Thorstensen

Started May 20, 2019
Finished Jun 10, 2019