Taking the Long Way Home: Slow Words Activities

The following activities emphasize Slow Words Wisdom by encouraging thoughtfulness, play, observation and introspection. Some of these activities suggest alternative forms of communication to the “on demand” culture that currently exists. The complete activity description for Slow Words Wisdom Activities follows below. A summary of specific activities found in Finding Your Way, A Guide to Building Hopes and Dreams is also provided below. The full description of activities from Finding Your Way, A Guide to Building Hopes and Dreams along with many others and suggestions for adaptations can be found in the book.

Ink Text

Write down your texts on a piece of paper. Wait 4 hours before sending them. Then transcribe (rewrite) them into your phone and send them. Keep the original copies in a box or in a diary of texts and emails you send or receive from people that make you feel good. Write or print out texts you receive from other people that make you feel good or inspire you. Paste them into a scrap book.


Instead of texting, hand write or typewrite your texts and hand-deliver them to their recipient or place them in a small box or pill bottle as the “post office” for them to pick up their message. How does taking extra time change what you write? Do you write more or less than you would in a normal text or email? Does the content of what you say differ from a normal text or email?


Write a letter to or from a mythical (fairytale) creature. What would you say to it? What might it say to you? Take a stack of blank index cards and create two piles. In the first pile, (Pile A) write the names of various fairytale creatures, one creature per each card. In the second pile (Pile B), write a different scenario on each card (for instance, “shopping list”). Draw one card from each pile, then write a letter that matches the scenario. For instance, if the player draws a card from Pile A that says “Centaur” and a card from Pile B that says “Shopping list,” then the player should come up with a centaur’s shopping list. After every player has had a turn, everyone can share their results. There are no winners or losers. Examples are provided below, but feel free to add to the lists.

Pile A














Pile B

Shopping list

Wedding gift registry

Love letter

School report card

Job termination letter



Award nomination letter

Parole board letter

Naturalist field note

Snail Trail Message Mail

Write or type out a message on a 9-11 inch long piece of paper.

Slowly roll it up. Cut it length-wise down the middle about two inches.

Then fold back diagonally to make the antennae.

Place somewhere that someone will find it.

Slow Words Wisdom Activities from Finding Your Way, A Guide to Building Hopes and Dreams

Hope Cards

The purpose of the hope card is to give others hope. Think of how you feel when in crisis or feeling low…

Working With Symbols

Petroglyphs and pictographs have been around for thousands of years. This activity makes use of this human propensity to combine art and language to create temporary symbol messages on sidewalks, glass windows and walls and other areas where they can be erased…

Gratitude Journaling

We all have things to be grateful for, now here’s your chance to keep a record of it. The beauty of the activity lies in the simplicity of combining it with another activity I designed “Observing Good Things.”

Letter to Your Future Self

If you could give advice to yourself, knowing what you know now, what would you say? This and other prompts are used in this activity.

To read the full description of these activities and many others, check out Finding Your Way, A Guide to Building Hopes and Dreams.

Ecotherapy Activities

Bring the Outside In

Even the smallest, most low-light space has room for a tiny potted plant or a small cactus. Potted plants do not require much maintenance, but can provide the basis for a relaxing environment that is visually pleasing, calming and adds variety.

Pulling up blinds, shades and curtains to let in sunlight and opening windows to let fresh air into indoor spaces can increase alertness and ultraviolet sunlight can kill bacteria. It can also help boost mood and stimulate the senses.

Keep Something Else Alive

Even watering a withering weed in a sidewalk crack every day to keep it alive is an expression of altruism and a form of taking responsibility and caring for other living things.

Plant a Guerilla Garden

Have you ever wanted to plant a garden but you have nowhere to do it? Maybe you saw an abandoned, neglected public space with already-disturbed soil? Such a place might be a good place to plant some seeds and see what grows, or to make a sculpture using natural materials for others to find. Guerilla gardens must be planted only where they won’t bother anyone else, and only with the expectation that they might not be there when you come back. If you can’t plant an entire garden, it might be easier to plant a tree, a flower or a small plant in places where you think they might grow with a minimum of care.

Take an Urban Wildlife Hike

Take a hike through your neighborhood and see it through fresh eyes, observing how many types of plants, trees, mammals, birds and insects you can identify. If you feel like you’ve seen it all before, take a child with you so you can see things through new eyes and a fresh perspective. Edible and medicinal plant books and teachers can show you numerous so-called weeds that have many useful properties. You can take field notes and keep a natural history journal of your neighborhood and what you observe. It can be fascinating to observe the behavior of familiar animals like rabbits, squirrels, ants or birds, going about their business. If you watch long enough and quietly enough, you might observe some surprising details about their lives. Plants and animals have much to teach us if we choose to pay attention: we can learn from the steadfast tenacity of ants, the carefree play of wild rabbits, and the grace of even “common” birds.


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