This is a mantra.
You are not your mind.
Read it, write it, state it, repeat it,
You are not your mind.
You are a body.
Tangible, visible, audible, recognizable to all of the senses
But, then, isn’t it edible too?
You are a body that can be devoured, degraded, and is dispensable.
Grabbed in public spaces with the grip of ownership.
A slave must obey its master and face the consequences of dissonance.
My body is my master
And you are my body’s master
And I obey.
I know no other way to feed the hunger, but to allow myself to be
You are a body.
As such, your body will receive apologies for their drunken stealing of its sacredness,
and for inciting the body’s clenched-fist anger,
but only after his restful sleep and temporary sobriety
And never for the blatant disregard of your mind
and the way you clearly stated “stop”.
You are not your mind,
You are a body.
I know no other way to be respected, but to allow myself to be
Your body will think it knows love
Until love is screaming in its face in a dark alley, demanding an explanation for not taking him home.
Your body will tremble from fear and associate it with ecstasy.
For this, you will see him again,
but your mind will know this time that it is not love
Because love will see the mind, too.
I know no other way to be a necessity than to be
You are not your mind.
What if I do not want to be my body, either?
Or, rather, what if I want to be more than a master of my body;
More than just a slave to my mind?
I AM my body.
I AM my mind.
Without both, I am nothing.
And you cannot rule over nothing
Cannot steal nothing
Cannot love nothing.
This is a mantra.




I woke up this morning to blue skies and untouched snow.

I thought: “I would have loved this.”

Indeed, I would have

if I were there.

I had slept through the storm,

which is what I tend to do lately.

It matters not to me whether it snows or hails

or thunders or shines,

or I’m asleep or awake –

only that it does matter.

Within an hour,

the clouds rolled in

and the melting snow rolled down the window pane

and I rolled under my sheets.

They are white,

like clouds,

and hold within them

the promise of the blue sky’s return.

I haven’t heard the forecast

so I do not know when that will be;

I only know that

I woke up this morning.

Going In

I am a classic over-thinker. My whole life, I have strategically weighed out the pros and cons to the point of mental exhaustion and, at times, it has actually held me back from experiences that may very well have been wholly fulfilling and transformative.

Somewhere along the way, I began to learn and practice the art of letting go and it has allowed me to see the world from a place of openness rather than one of fear. For some, this may come easily. For me, it truly is a practice. Just last week, surrounded by the beauty of a new country, I found myself hesitating to participate in some things that were actual “once in a lifetime” experiences because I was calculating the dangers in my head. Should I not run through the Baltic Sea on a chilly Autumn day while the tide is rising because I am going to get wet or should I do exactly that because I get the chance to walk along one of the most scenic and interesting places I have ever been and will likely never be again? Should I not go to Colorado because my friend bailed and everyone is telling me that it’s unsafe to go alone, or should I go because it’s a place that I have always wanted to see and I shouldn’t let the fears of others control my decisions?

Time and time again, I have faced fear and overcame it. I have witnessed the gravest human sorrows alongside the deepest commitment to resolve. I have absorbed trauma and transformed it into resilience. That is what I reminded myself of when I allowed fear to trickle in once again, while facing the decision to make another career change.

“I could never do that.” “You know that’s going to be really sad, right?” “Do you think you can handle it?” – These are some of the responses I received when I told people that I was considering pursuing a career in hospice nursing.

So, here I am, one year into nursing and a lifetime into learning my strengths and improving my weaknesses, announcing to you all that I am onto the next journey. Because the water may be cold, and I will undoubtedly get wet, and exploring the unknown can be scary, but this place is beautiful and I may never be here ever again, so I’m going in.

The Season of Becoming

img_4407I’ve always had an affinity for Autumn, as an overt reminder that transformation can be graceful… comforting, even.

All year long, we experience adaptations as each day comes to a close: The brightness of light dulls, fading details into monochromatic gray. The ending of daytime deceives your senses slowly and imperceptibly and then all at once. Suddenly, you blink your eyes and the darkness jolts you to recognize its presence. Nightfall has cunningly crept in. Another day concluded.

The passage of day into night, though consistent in its routine, is too jarring for me to admire. I much prefer the slow, steady progression of Autumn. It allows time for my senses to process reality and make amends with impending change.

Transition periods are necessary for progress, but they also bring a disquietude similar to dusk; a sense that perhaps nothing is changing to bring you closer to the next phase. You are adjusting, but it seems to be happening so slowly that you cannot distinguish between where you once were and where you’re going.

This year especially, I used the leaves as my compass to gently assure me of my bearings, in spite of nightfall’s mundane consistency which betrays the notion of distinctness. I was no longer oblivious to the understated pastels of late August, apparent only to those craving a reminder that each day is in fact discernible from the previous.

Weeks passed and these hues became brighter. They were accompanied by brilliant reds, coinciding with my personal triumphs and alerting me of the tipping point towards novelty, finality, or possibly both.

I climbed a mountain for the last time this year, and met a nurse at the top. She was recently retired and I couldn’t help but admire the serendipity of crossing paths with someone on the opposite end of this journey, yet in the exact same place. She told me we had just missed peak foliage by a week, but I knew that the real beauty still lay ahead.

The leaves loosened from their attachments to the trees just as I was leaving my childhood home. I lay in my back yard and watched them pirouette towards the ground with a playfulness that reminded me to find joy in letting go.

I drove along mountain roads painted by a palette of burnt orange towards my new home. The fiery hues epitomized the incongruity of Autumn’s end: a final flash of warmth before Winter’s ruthless cold. The perfect kindling for my passion to ignite.

The last leaf falls, allowing the trees to bare their most honest, exposed selves, trusting that they will persevere regardless of how unrelenting this new season can be. In their vulnerability, the trees withstand and will always find the means to bloom again. In fact, it is in the days just before Spring, when they have endured for months that they are humbly prepared to achieve their fullest potential.

I, like the trees, am new and raw and exposed. Most days there is a biting wind of apprehension, a silent prayer that I could have remained safe in the steady striving of Autumn rather than face the unpredictability of now. But I also know that the seasons keep moving in succession, one after the next, and that this one is just as necessary as the last.

I blink and my eyes adjust. This time, it is not nightfall that saturates my vision, but rather, the blank canvas of myself.

Empty Spaces

The first hot, humid day of the year lured me to the basement of my parents’ house, where the cement floor promised to keep me cool with almost the same efficiency as our not-yet-installed air conditioner. I had been planning to sort through the storage bins that held the contents of my life, to purge the items that no longer serve a purpose, in preparation for my inevitable and final move out of my childhood home. Almost three decades of a tangible memoir loomed ominously below my floorboards, a task so daunting that I willfully postponed its undertaking for weeks after the initial idea crossed my mind.

On this particular day, the sticky air was the impetus for me to finally burrow underground and get to cleaning. However, once my feet touched the cold floor, I was immobilized by the man-made towers of belongings that had turned the space into a crowded metropolis of nostalgia and trivialities. My eyes surveyed the scene with a sense of unfamiliarity quickly stifled by shame.

I stood amongst the overwhelming rubble of collapsed memory structures, trapping bodies of our former selves in their wreckage. The entire basement was like an ant farm, with narrow tunnels carved between lofty piles of dusty possessions, weaving in directions that all lead to walls and the stark realization that we are merely prisoners to the confines of our perception. The smaller the cell, the more enclosed we feel. The larger the cell, apparently, the more space we fill with items that time eventually robs of their significance. Irregardless, we end up bound by limitations, restrained by our own will to define our existence by objects rather than the openness available to us.

Herein lies the trouble with expanding your consciousness – your awareness does not selectively focus only on what you are comfortably willing to see or experience. Instead, it is unbiased, unrelenting. If I am constantly changing and evolving, I must accept that so too are the spaces we occupy. The very foundation of our home, of our lives, had become cluttered through disregard for the sanctity of the expanse needed for our roots to take hold.

We have a tendency to find comfort in the material world we create while ignoring the imperceptible breadth of nothingness that allows those things to exist. We keep crypts of photographs and childhood mementos because we fool ourselves into believing these things form our identity. Perhaps we fear that without these corporeal treasures and once our physical form submits to certain dissolution, we cease to be anything. Lack of substance is nothingness, inanity.

The atoms in our bodies are comprised of significantly more empty space than they are matter, and yet they are not devoid of purpose. It is this very emptiness which defines the borders of substance that we regard as the manifestation of our physical selves. By this notion, we should honor the freedom and unfathomable possibility of our empty spaces rather than feeling compelled to fill them with mundane objects of transient importance.

We are not merely abandoned relics covered in cobwebs. We are limitless, undefinable immensity. We are foundations on which we can build ourselves. We are empty spaces. And I choose to leave mine open to opportunity.

The Pulse of Unity

You won’t read this.

You may have read my words before, but they were too exhaustive to hold your attention. The first line doesn’t grab you or it’s a topic you don’t care about. And so you stop reading.

You may have disagreed with me enough times, or even just one time. Still, novel ideas are presumed to diverge from your views and are disregarded as irrelevant or wrong. And so you stop reading.

You may feel frustrated that anyone can believe in anything so dissimilar to your own convictions. This makes you uncomfortable. Or it fuels you to respond with incendiary rhetoric, which inevitably ignites the flame of anger. And so you stop reading.

You may be tired of the platform of social media and the barrage of diverse opinions it contains. You’ve had a long day at work and just need some time to scroll mindlessly. You look for the funny memes and videos. And so you stop reading.

You can’t be bothered to feel the discomfort posed by disagreement and you certainly can’t see any common ground or room for compromise. And so you stop reading.

Five days ago, I stopped reading too. I stopped reading for all of the reasons above.

The Orlando shooting is the first time that my gut reaction to a mass shooting was not fear, sorrow, or anger. It was somber resignation followed by crippling chagrin.

You see, I had to stop reading because I’ve read all of it before. Take away the guns. Protect our right to bear arms. Hate crime. Terrorism. Mental illness. Homophobia. Radicalism. Love. I’m right. You’re wrong. Mourn, blame, argue, defend, politicize. Like posts that we agree with; delete people that differ. It’s our nature to simplify things after a tragedy and we usually do that by categorizing, labeling, and blaming. But by doing so, we strengthen the very divisiveness that underlies all the discord we wish to eradicate. When we stop reading, or choose to read only the views we already agree with, we are doing ourselves and our values a disservice.

So I started reading again. Some members of the LGBT community wrote about their disappointment in the silence from their hetero friends after this tragedy – the same allies that showed support for Paris by changing their profile pictures. My first thought was – we do not have to speak to grieve. We do not have to speak to react. We do not have to speak to support. Everything does not have to become the dichotomy of you do this, you’re with us; you don’t, you’re not. Most importantly, no one has to react the way we want or expect them to – “our” way is not inherently the “right” way.

I believe that something needs to change. I could write about how I don’t understand why it is necessary for civilians to have easy access to assault rifles. I could write about how radicalism is incited by our dissidence. I could write about how our mental health system is not just weak; it is debilitated. I could write about the tragedy of living in a time when we leap forward towards acceptance and love, and then take ten steps back.

Or I could write about how we can practice the tolerance we preach through reading, not reacting. Read the things that make you uncomfortable with an openness to understand. Read to be tolerant of the very diversity you claim to embrace.

Take two fingers and place them gently on the inside of your wrist and feel the rhythmic flow of the blood that courses through your veins. These words exclude no one. Realize we all have a Pulse.

I could write the above as an exercise in humanity.

But if I do, you won’t read it.