Making Clearings in the Forest

It’s Earth Day!


It seems fitting to connect my recent Nature experience to the Nature of being an Artist.


Last week I took one of the most fulfilling hikes of my life. I hiked around the majestic Mount Shasta, in Northern California. Inhaling such crisp, fresh, air is always revitalizing. And there’s some kinda special energy around that omnipotent mountain in particular. It’s just so alive!


While soaking in nature on my hike, I felt connected to my creative core.


And then I turned a bend in the path, and stopped dead in my tracks.

My husband and I had walked into a clearing in the forest, with tree stubs and piles of dead, logged trees.  I was stunned.

Now, I’m a mountain girl from Virginia. I’ve been in tons of forests.  But I hadn’t ever seen anything like this. Clearing after clearing. Pile after pile, of logs.

I was so deeply pained by what I saw that I actually felt moved to tears about the human destruction of natural habitats.  This view of the forest shifted my experience of the hike. I became sad, depressed, angry, and totally took it personal.


A bad moment started to ruin my entire experience.


Like when you go into an audition, ready to have fun and take in the whole room, but the casting director treats you badly. You want to run out of there and loudly shout, what is wrong with this world?

But that evening, as I chatted with some locals, my head got turned around again.


I learned, in order to promote growth, sometimes you have to make clearings.


The locals explained that thinning out the forest is essential to the forest being able to regrow itself. “Thinning in forestry is the selective removal of trees, primarily undertaken to improve the growth rate or health of the remaining trees.“- Wikipedia

I’m still not sure if what I saw was forest thinning or deforestation. I don’t know. And, yes, there is debate about whether thinning actually prevents forest fires, or worsens them. There is even debate around whether it is helpful to wildlife habitat.


But the thing that everyone seems to agree on is that mother nature needs a little help.


Working in the industry, surrounded by concrete walls, getting artificial halogen light, living in the big city, we forget that we are part of nature too. Part of the big picture of this whole eco-system.

From time to time, we also need a clearing, like Mother Earth.  And, like Mother Earth, we need to preserve some things and plant new seeds for others.  We seem to thrive most when we have a sense of balance in what we do. This is the nature of it all.

Ask yourself…


What aspect of your life/career could use a little focus and support?

Where can you plant more seeds ?

Where can you do some cutting or weeding out so that new, great things can have space to grow?


My Top Tips


1. If you have a gut feeling about a clearing that you need to make, do it.


It feels AWESOME to make clearings. And, making a clearing doesn’t have to mean chopping down all of the trees, it can just be about thinning out a few trees.  (Talk to your agent about your goals versus leaving an agent, dump old headshots off your website, delete old acting clip samples that don’t represent you now and make new ones, exit a project that isn’t feeding you and start a new one yourself.)


2. Don’t do things just to do them.  


Being busy is just filling your path with shrubbery. Have you overloaded your schedule so you don’t have time to do what you WANT to be doing? (Select to do items that make you happy to do, try the most terrifying acting opportunities, say NO so that you have time to say YES! to the things you want to be doing more of in your life.)


3. Plant seeds in the areas that you most want to thrive in. 


Identify where you want to expand and make some connections in those areas. (I wanted to meet more women filmmakers a year ago, posted it on Facebook, and friends led me to a new community of awesome women filmmakers. Actors, create communities or generate work that you want to be a part of. Plant the seeds now and start your ideas – you will see them come to fruition in time.)



(I took this photo of a cloud halo over Mount Shasta with my phone. Sorry it’s a little grainy but it’s REAL. A real moment. A real beauty.)


  1. Andrew David Rabensteine says

    Great blog post, Heidi. I did, indeed, do the clearing of which we spoke. Although it was scary to do, it absolutely felt the right thing. Once it was over, I felt as if a huge burden was off of me. I felt lighter, freer, and happier. That helps me to know it was the right decision. Now to plant new seeds.

  2. Lauren Sowa says

    Thanks for posting this, Heidi! I have been thinking about this myself, in terms of my career. I made the choice this year not to work for free anymore (this includes showcase code shows, which pay a ‘stipend’) I am clearing the path for the jobs that will fill my soul AND pay my rent!

    On an Earth Day note, I’d highly recommend watching the Showtime show “Years of Living Dangerously” if you can.. It’s a documentary-style show about climate change. It’s completely eye-opening.

  3. Lisa Donmall-Reeve says

    So inspiring and so apt for Mother Earth Day!Feeling brave to plant new seeds….you also inspired me in our class to give my website a do-over, I made it more me and less generic and have finally started a Blog ( on lifestyle page) so thank you! For the continued inspiration and support.:)

  4. Susan McCollum says

    Heidi, Such an inspiring piece with tips applicable to all areas of life. Clearing, pruning, planting….beautiful lessons that come from nature. Fantastic photo too!

  5. Carole Monferdini says

    What a beautiful, fresh & clean image you photographed and posted. Alongside your post, it reminds us all that we can always make a beautiful, fresh & clean start–no matter where we are in our careers or how long we’ve been “at it”. Looking forward to seeing you soon!

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