My latest completed work—which is currently looking for an agent/publisher—is part memoir, part travel adventure, part spiritual autobiography and great part ode to the Earth. I’m calling it Tumblehome: A Paddling Journey into the Church of the Woods.

Tumblehome chronicles an interior journey told within the framework of a series of solo canoe trips undertaken in Canada’s 7,630-square-kilometre (3,000-square-mile) Algonquin Provincial Park over half a dozen summers. In our high-tech urban age, when so many people are disconnected from the natural world, it is a timely and important exploration of where our real roots lie.

Here’s the dust-jacket-style summary:

On a warm summer evening, Brenda Missen, a single, unattached writer in her late thirties, pitches her tent beside a lake in Canada’s vast Algonquin Provincial Park an hour’s paddle from the take-out. She is on a “reconnaissance mission” to find out if she has the capability—and nerve—to go on a real canoe trip by herself one day. Paddling and portaging from her campsite base by day and surviving imaginary bear attacks by night, she believes she does. Then a park ranger arrives to check her camping permit, and an unexpected, powerful intuition tells her this is the man she is going to marry: she will not need to go solo after all.

Two summers later, Brenda embarks on her first real solo canoe trip, still reeling from her brief engagement and heart-searing break-up with the ranger. The experience has brought to the surface the deep-seated belief, rooted in her church upbringing, that she is not worthy of being loved. It also awakens the knowledge that the wellspring of Love is inside her. So begins her real journey, beyond the illusion that she, like so many others, has internalized, that our fulfilment comes from seeking love outside ourselves. On successive summer canoe trips in the healing and testing backcountry, she peels away long-reinforced beliefs about God and romantic relationships. Each encounter with winds and wildlife, and each chronicle of the key healing influences in her life, brings her to a place of growing acceptance, forgiveness and compassion, for herself and others, and to an ever-deepening experience of the divine nature of all of creation.

Who’s it for?

I wrote Tumblehome for women—and men too—who have been indoctrinated into the belief that human romantic relationships hold the key to our fulfilment and happiness. I wrote it for those who battle self-criticism and are plagued by guilt and a sense of unworthiness. I wrote it for those who are looking for the source of their fulfilment in a spiritual context but may, like me, be following a path outside organized religion. And I wrote it for those who love to explore the natural world, those who long to explore it, and those who have no desire to get into a canoe at all but care deeply about the Earth. In Tumblehome, you can come on an interior journey with a kindred soul.

To read a contemplative excerpt, click here. For a more light-hearted excerpt, click here.

What the heck is “tumblehome”?

Besides being a great word, tumblehome is a design term that refers to the inward curve of the sides of a boat (boats can also have straight sides or sides that flare out). In a boat with good tumblehome, a solo canoeist can kneel close one side and lean the boat over without tipping it, which puts the paddle closer to the water and makes the boat easier to control. (A boat with too much tumblehome will tip if leaned over too far—hence the name.) It’s the perfect title: it captures the spirit of this work not only because of its associations with solo paddling but also because it evokes a sense of “tumbling home” on different levels—to one’s literal home, to being at home in one’s self … and to something that might be considered Grace.