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Jason C. VennerJan 1, 2021 6:29pm

PROGRESSION

I'm now at the stage where I'll begin guiding others in my forestry work. I know I started this side gig with the notion of helping people tap in and write from their center. But...eeek! I feel sort of odd telling people about it thus far, and I've been calling it my "forestry work" because I haven't had the words to really describe it to my peers in business. Perhaps because I'm a bit afraid to really say what it is. Much of this is heart-centered work. The stuff I'm really into anyway. After all, what do I have to take with me when I pass anyway? So, as I get closer to this edge, I realize that this is sort of "coming-out" for me.


People have often desribed me as a bit of a mystery, and I've often used this to my advantage in getting any kind of work done, especially when I have my business "hat" on. But this type of training has put me squarely back in the spot where I was when I was in graduate school. Writing my thoughts and visions down. You know, the things that might get you locked up in the ward. It's nothing crazy really, if I've always experienced it I guess, but to others, getting in touch with your feelings and intuition can seem quite radical, and threatening.


We are trained from such an early age to fit into a tamed model of the world, and I've always been saddened by the loss of what potential we're all pobably missing. So, as a person who has a repsectable position in the real world, and someone who's expected to carry the mantle of a family business forward, yeah, you could say this is a little scary for me...this process of guiding people in the forest...this work of helping people to write it out, to think it out. To say what they actually want.


I do want to offer my work to both the individual and corporate world. Because I don't see any progression of humanity on this rock unless we learn how to deeply connect with nature. No, to remember nature. After all, it is nature who is the target of our current business model, is it not? Infinite production in a finite world? Conquest? Consolidation? Don't laugh, how many times have you checked your Facebook today? How many times have you asked yourself if you had enough money to live "comfortably" but you're afraid to acnkowledge that all you ahve is now? We all know it a bunch of crap, but we're all super scared to first acknowledge it, and then do anything about it. So we find ways to distract ourselves. Everyone does it. I do it.


Because there is no model forward, and what has been presented up until this time through art and science has been simply squashed as nutsoid. Heresy. In the hauting words of Thomas the Tank Engine...how effective are we at becomming useful? And so, this divorce, so to speak of my usefulness from my desire, which is not a bad thing people - it's simply a human animus - is what will be scary at first. But less so, with practice.

Jason C. VennerJun 30, 2020 6:03pm

The Middle of All Things

I've done something sort of crazy, but sort of right up my alley. I've registered to become a Forest Bathing Guide through the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs. I simply can't hide it from people any longer. I talk to trees and animals, and I want to further understand this phenomena and deepen my relationship with nature. I start my coursework October 9th.


I'm doing this because I feel it can help me with Whisper Shifter in walking and helping people dig into their work. But I'm also doing it becasue you and I are in constant motion, like the planets and the stars of which we somehow feel are "fixed" within the sky. One thing is for certian having moved out to the county: there is constant change. There are epic beginnings and inevitable endings. The sky is so beautiful without the hindrance of a city's lights, but in a way it reminds me that I'm small, and nothing really. My body is sort of like this tube walking around, housing an animus that is restless and searching for its route back home, and this learning has to be done, or else I feel I'll end up in ruin. Yup.


Also because there is death here where I live and I need to come to grips with this. I've seen so much of it in four short years, along with the ever-overwhelimignly insistent life that oozes from everything. I've dealt enough mercy death to suffering deer, turtles, mice, snakes and racoons that I could pastor my own congregation at this point. Just the other day, I happened to catch a mouse in a glue trap. It was intended for the snakes in the basement, but he was the unfortunate one. Luckily he'd died by the time I found him, and I didn't have to end the suffering, at least directly by my hands. I took the trap outside and set it down so that I could open the trash can. Without any notice, a sparrow flew smack into the trap, like a moth to the flame, and it was stuck right next to the mouse. It was frantic having been stuck, and it ripped its wing bones out of its skin tyring to escape. I had to be quick and grabbed my hatchet. I smudged it and asked for it to forgive me when it becomes my time.


I don't enjoy this part of living in the country. If you think I do, you'd be a maniac. I know people who are. I don't hunt, but my neighbors are constantly practicing with their guns. Shooting, almost every night. The riots saw an uptick of activity from my surrounding neighbors - just the sense of fear eeking through the woods was enough to make me feel phsycially ill as gunfire rattled from all sides. Some idiot has a semi-automatic rifle, so I hope that's necessary to corrall those cows. Jeez. And so, my woods is full of deer right now, seemingly thanking me when they pass by the bedroom window in the early morning hours.


But back to the forest bathing coursework...I'm doing this, all of this idea, because there has been no culutre on this earth that hasn't succeeded by the detriment of the environment or of each other. As I type on this computer, precious metals were mined from the earth by underpaid and abused workers to construct it, and the electricity that powers it comes from a sytemmic failure to protect the natural resources of this earth. We have seriously messed with our only home, and my heart is heavy with this knowledge that we may not have enough time to heal it and ourselves. There has to be a better way, and I feel I must be a part of that change, how ever loudly or quietly I choose to do so. Again, all this against that constant backdrop of natural change, inevitably occuring all around us. We can't see it, and I'm sickened by our blindness. I physically am.


Call me crazy, that's fine. Tell me I need a doctor and meds. That's fine too because I already do that. But regardless, I start my training in October. Don't worry, I'll still continue to bathe and I'll be better for it.

Jason C. VennerApr 6, 2020 7:35pm

BEGINNINGS IN ENDINGS

We will all die. It’s a simple truth. I’ve been wrestling with it quite a bit the last few weeks. It seems as if our health professionals are pushing their timelines back in an ever-increasing hedge against what they probably would like to say, which is “we don’t know when this will end, and by the way, we’ve all got it.” It’s not disingenuous at all. I just don’t think they have the ability or the permission to say, “make your plans, now.”


And so, I find it sort of fitting that I finally have put the finishing touches on a short poetry thread that has taken me a few years to write. I’m usually quite prolific in my writing, but this one took quite a while to formulate – more or less, to get out. Work, parenting, and a massive 14-acre property project has taken up a lot of my free time these past 4 years, but this is the natural way of things. I was meant to be a father, and I’ve allowed myself the grace to know that I am indeed a good one!


So, I promised that I would share my work with this blog, and to that I hold (Lord of The Rings reference, sorry). It’s just that I came to realize over the course of refining these works, and then sequencing them, that I had clearly undertaken the task of mourning the death of our second child, who was lost in the womb. I knew it was a girl. I just did. My marrow moved with knowing.


The concept of the Dandelion Man first came to me when we moved out to our property, and our first full Spring there revealed a sea of dandelions across the mowed sections of our yard. Then at night, with the curtains pulled back in our bedroom, fireflies lit up the night like I’d never seen before, as if I was looking at the yard, just at nighttime.


Being around nature has forced me to deal with death in a different sort of way. We often feel that we can live without it, but I’d beg to differ that it is our friendly companion who walks about our days along side of us. We must, and especially now during this pandemic, turn and look it in the face. Welcome it even into our hearts so that we can put negative energies aside and become our true, heroic selves.


Wow. I know all that sounds like a motivational speaker who’s really had one too many energy drinks. I realize that. But, it’s true. This world is changing, and the world needs kind warriors, especially now. Talk to your loved ones, soon if not now, about what life might be like without you. Have the discussion, so that you can move beyond fear and get to the good, if even in making someone smile for a second during these crazy times. Divine love is something fear could never handle.


But in getting back to the work. People often read my stuff, and they’re left with a feeling much like I’ve tricked them somehow. Then they are embarrassed and ask a lot of questions. But that’s never been the aim of my art. As I begin writing, most often as I do, it’s about trying to put words to visceral images or dreams, or perhaps rhythms that I’m feeling in my body that I just can’t shake. Crazy stuff. Yup. That’s how this stuff comes to me. It’s not like I sit down and say to myself, “Jason, now it’s time to write…begin!” There are no white plumes of inspiration. Just my heart leading me down a path with words much like the feeling of holding a baby mouse in your hands.


So, as I have told my friends or family members who have been taught to figure poetry out like a math problem, I say, just read and contemplate the images that come to you. Nothing more. And of all the things you could be reading right now, I thank you for looking into my mind, if even for a second.


Over the next few days, I will post between two and three poems a day and will number them for you, for the sake of sequencing in your mind. Thank you for reading!


Whisper Shifter

Whisper Shifter LLCApr 2, 2020 6:20pm

GIVING WAY


You know that whole hourglass thing. The race against time, where you feel like every second matters. You begin utilizing time differently. Seconds are spliced into bits and pieces of seconds and then your mind does these weird things, like tricking you into thinking you’ll spontaneously combust if you don’t have the answer or complete the task. This is how I’ve felt over the past month, waking up each morning to find the outbreak hitting the West coast first, then the East, then Cuyahoga county, then Ohio. In my profession, I’ve gone from thinking I’ve seen just about everything to simply and brutally asking, “have I done enough?”


Some may argue, vehemently, that I’ve failed them. Yet some thank me in the hallways for keeping the doors of my family’s business open. Opposites of a struggle where everyone feels as if any measure is too late. People rally around a common enemy when it is seen. But this? This is like a black snake in the water at night. You only become afraid after its brushed past your leg, and you realize you’re too many strokes from shore to stave your fear. We’re learning about this virus as we go, without much guidance other than to stay 6 feet away from each other and to kill any-and-all germs. Healthy people are needed to perpetuate our culture, which is, let’s face it, about making money and not actual culture.


I’ve found myself finding any excuse to sneak away, alone, so that I can read the bad news on my phone. As if the device itself would suddenly give me the one line I crave: “it’s all just a hoax.” Except it’s only more of the same, every time. More infected, more dead, no supplies. Stay at home, but you’re free to order carryout and go to work under 8-million exemptions. I’ve come home from work over the past month and sat at the dinner table, mindlessly eating food that suddenly has no taste, hoping that by doing the same thing over and over again, I’m squeezing something, anything, out of nothing.


I was out my woods the other day. Winds were 50-60 miles per hour, and this massive black cherry came down just yards ahead of me. It was a glorious way to go out for a tree, just the way it gave itself to the wind. The virus is even taking my trees I felt. The trunk had lodged into the joint of another tree, and then squirrels soon began to run back and forth, transferring their hoards from one hiding place to the next. That fast. The tree had given itself to the forest, to life. Even in death there is a purpose. But I still didn’t want to die, and I still don’t now.


Americans like a purpose. Having shit to do. They like their luxurious cars, and Netflix. The superiority of their preferences. Our routines and beliefs, which, though polarized, offer comfort against what lies deeply within us that we keep ignoring. COVID-19 is forcing us to reckon with the dark and crawling shadows within us. I see my colleagues at work as they grapple with it. They go through the stages of grief each day. I go through the stages with them.


This can’t be real. Can itbe? Is it. Is it? We bargain for reassurances from one another. Then the conference room falls silent yet again unitl one of us says, "but seriously..."


Perhaps we won’t have as much money when we come out on the other side of this thing, but then again, we may not even have our way of life. Nothing is assured. Nor are our lives. I have made friends, both religious and of other schools of thought, and they all agree to some certain extent, that what we are faced with presently, is a battle of unseen proportions. Unseen measure, which will force us inward before we can outwardly transcend the present.


None of this changes the fact that this thing is coming, for us all. And fast. We’re even told now that we should assume that all have it. And so, even though I don’t like to think about it, I’ve been forced to picture that tree, and the way it shook the ground beneath me as I watched it fall. It was a beautiful sensory experience, almost as if the wind muted itself and I was able to feel it give way. All for me. A private moment with God. Still doesn’t change the fact that I’m scared. Even now. But whatever came of great people or things hadn’t they been scared out of their gourds?

Whisper Shifter LLCMar 18, 2020 7:07pm

Peeking Beyond the Curtain

American Life Changed the moment we saw epidemiologists telling us this was going to be real, and fast. In times such as these, we all recoil back to lizard brain as I like to call it. Looking inward and to ourselves. This is hard-wired into us, yes. And we must take care of ourselves and ours. Absolutely. But we're also wired, no, woven throughout the collective unconscience.


Now, is not the time to sit upon piles of gathered resources, haughtily looking down on others for their lack of cleverness. Darkness wins, you see, when we allow it speak too loudly, as it oozes and groans from unkempt spaces within our hearts. COVID-19 has already devasted our confidence in our economic system, let alone our belief that we as humans, who think we can live outside of nature, and who have created all of the problems of this world, can't think out way out of this. We can. Most certainly. By trusting one another and sharing in a time when we have driven wedges into even our own families based on political affilation to the point where people pass away without ever having spoken again.


I cannot change the world on my own. Any living creature instinctively knows this to be but a fool's errand. Simple acts of kindess rather, perhaps even of the simplest gratitude, are the tiny packets of energy that slow the brooding and visceral dark matter that seems set to destroy our minds. Our god given right to freely think...which in my experience, can only establish a direct connection with the Divine is under attack. Only now, when we are faced with not having our creature comforts and xenophobia becomes more palpable, do we need to fight, literally, for our future as a human race.


With that said, I've been turned off by the fact that I can't publish my work - more specificically my unconscoius knowing - without having it be "approved." I simply don't care about being artistically "acceptable" any longer. So, in the spirit of this post and in you getting to know me more, I've decided to publish a series of my latest work on this blog. For free. Even if you spend two minutes making fun of my work for what it's lacking, I'll still have made my mission a success, by giving you something to think about, if even just a momentary image.


Imagination "1,"

Bad Guys "0"

Whisper Shifter LLCFeb 16, 2020 2:45pm

The Great Outdoors

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Whisper Shifter assists individuals, professionals and businesses foster creative power through thinking, writing and walking.