Sunday, December 18, 2016

Santa Baby

Dear Santa,

It's been a rough few years, I'll be honest.

It's been sixteen years since my last confession, 30 since my last wish list.

A hundred since I last slept well.

In thinking about where I must be on your list... I'm feeling pretty even between naughty and nice. Sure, I've done a few things against my better judgement, but life has already dealt me the coal that I earned in those transgressions, and I've lit it up. Paid penance for my sins. And there were times when I've been nice, or mean for nice reasons.

You know what I mean.

You should know my chimney's stuffed up, and I think the HOA has welded a cap over the top, what with the wind storms here on the bluff. The same thing has happened to my heart, unfortunately. I've tried to seal it off, to batten down the hatches during the emotional tempests, but it seems feelings are getting in anyway.

So you shouldn't have any trouble.

This year, I'd love for you to explain a few things to me. No need to gift-wrap, just tell it to me straight.

You've done some miraculous shit before, and I'm not talking about the flying reindeer or the tricks of quantum physics that appear to allow you to gift all the Believers in the span of a single night. I can't tell if you're ubiquitous or scattered, but you do seem to get around.

I'd like to know how we got here – this election, this defection, this eruption of evil. I'd like to know why there isn't a food bank collection at the grocery store by my house, why there was a man in his pajamas walking home last night in frigid temperatures. Why good people can't get or stay pregnant. Why no one is doing anything about Aleppo. Why the truest source of news these days is Saturday Night Live.

What I'm supposed to do with my life.

I'm wondering what kinds of cookies it will take to get a solid answer out of you, or if I have to sit on your lap, or if you even still exist.

How did we twist this story around you anyway? Isn't there a virgin somewhere below, laboring, scared shitless in a barn full of livestock? Isn't the real story a cascade of miracles that started with a woman giving birth? I imagine Mary crying out, as I imagine I would, Sweet Baby Jesus make this pain STOP.


The whole thing is perverse, if you ask me. Heads up: the Holy Spirit will come upon you? That dirty bastard. I'm pretty sure that's still a crime in all fifty states. Well, at least for the next month.

English and the double entendre ruin everything.

Or maybe that's my dirty mind.

Dear Santa, even Jesus gave up when he was three years younger than I am right now – how do you do it? How do you persist, in the face of Scrooge and the Grinch and the Zombie apocalypse in Washington? It's got to break your heart to fly through the smog, to leave sick children in the dust, dropping plastic crap fabricated by toddlers in China under the shrine to environmental destruction.

I'm sorry, I know I'm circling the drain here. Let me be frank.

Santa, baby, what we're all wishing for this year is a recount. An asteroid. A miracle.

We'd even settle for the second coming.




Friday, December 9, 2016


I drove past the cemetary on the way to the airport today. The air was so clear, warming from the desperation of the cold – the beauty that has kept us inside for the last few days. And I blew a kiss. I don't always, sometimes I drive right past, but your memory is dancing all around me these days as I consider working in the world of addiction, returning to California. As my best friend is burying her brother, who shared your struggles. I called 911 two days ago, after a mama locked her little in the car in 10 degree weather. It wasn't a panicked phone call, it was calm and calculated, because I don't know how long it takes a fifteen pound baby to freeze to death, but I know that it was more than twice as warm the night you did.

I don't know how long it took – how long you were down before you were out. Whether you suffered or simply slowed as your blood turned to ice. In the dark, cold month between the anniversary of your birth and the anniversary of your death I often wonder what song was playing in your mind, what images were dancing in the fog of your last breath.

Where you've gone.

Why your memory returns without warning.

How to forgive myself for our last meeting, when my attention was lost in a triangle of men, when I ran away into the arms of someone who didn't deserve that kind of reward. I wish that I could go back to that moment and say something – anything – worthy of a goodbye. Or better, something that would remind you that I still cared, even though I wasn't sure how to say so.

I'm cautious with goodbye now, cautious with saying what I mean, even though it isn't culturally appropriate to do so, even if it has lost me some friends or affections. Even if it closes some doors, this is something that I've learned from losing you.

My driver this morning was named Jesus – auspicious, for sure – but also a harmonic of you.

The sweetest Gethsemane, birthday buddies. My lost boy who slipped through my fingers.


Dear Jon, I wish I could have saved you. That's my sickness, the shadow side of my gift. A lesson I didn't learn until it was too late. Something I had to relive to truly learn, a darkness I barely escaped.

This year I'm going to learn how to drive a stick (again); I'm going to say goodbye with compassion and the fullest expression of honesty that my tiny body will allow me. I'm going to write a book, and in it, I'm going to call the chapter about you Buford, because that's the word that keeps your memory alive in me.

I'll keep blowing kisses, keep remembering.

Because my curse is loving too well, too often, without the ability to disentangle my heart from the places it's been.

And this year, that will also be my gift.  

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Home, if that's a thing

Let me start by saying that you will not understand a single thing I'm about to say – you cannot. You weren't there, and even though I'll do my best, what you'll get is the syrupy post-massage haze, where you try to explain an epiphany without full use of all of your faculties, as your body, mind, and spirit reintegrate into the same space-time continuum.

(See what I mean?)

Tomorrow I go back.


Tomorrow, my body, mind, and spirit fly to the States United by Disconnect.

But not back.

There is no way back.

You cannot backtrack through a hurricane, through the loss of your spiritual teacher, your partner, your president, the sanctity of unions, the freedoms on the line. As it appears, this is a one-way wormhole and resisting the ride is the definition of futility. This has been my experience so far – like doula-ing a scorpion out of my room, complete with gentle, supportive words – first for the scorpion, second for me.

It started with an exploration of what it means to be a woman – the power of a woman is in her prayer. Whoa. An invitation to return to some form of spiritual path, to have a semblance of reverence for something higher, something that has consciousness, if not a plan. And a song – the chant that started this invitation years ago.

Akaal. Dearly departed. A safe return to the union of souls.


A homeland, glowing red, connected by spotty internet and trapped sobbing on the floor of the kitchen, my head in my hands, my heart in my throat. Comforted only by a scorpion in the corner, as afraid of me as I was of her. Shit, girl, she said. That is not what we of the jungle thought would happen.

Choking up the lies I had swallowed, while learning how to breathe a new kind of truth, in the arms of a jungle shaman. She called me a jaguar seer – magic will have no choice but to dance with you.

And then isolation – a shipping crate in a rainstorm, a resolution to evaluate which decisions I was making out of fear, and where I might start to uncurl a finger from the curtain rod and come back down. Where I could say yes, or find a new answer that defies the binary of yes and no.

Practice saying yes – and no. And humbly asking questions, rather than assuming. Courage.

And then, the calm in the storm. Peace in the certainty of the hurricane. Alone in the night with my fear of the destruction that would come, once the lights were out and no one could see me. Staring into the darkness, having closed so many doors all at once.


The great crossing of the greatest teacher of my life.

My sweet Hunter, my angel. He wasn't mine, per say, but I was his. You could tell. The questioning look when I hadn't seen him in awhile – as if to say – why haven't you called? A little bit of contempt, and then without warning, he would grab my nearest arm and start chewing on my wrist, working his way up as high as he could get, giggling the whole time. Cara Mia. Forgiven.

When I lay on the floor, broken by a migrane, exacerbated by too much sun and not enough rest, he would pet my face. Get quiet. I understand deep pain, my love. It is palpable. But we're in it together. You hold me in the darkness, and I'll comfort you.

And his laughter. The sweet song that calls to mothers everywhere, but sweeter it seemed because of his pain. His dark abyss so deep that the joy upon overcoming it for a moment or two? Unlike anything I've heard since.

He taught me that there is nothing worth complaining about, that laughing in the darkest moments is the only way out. That humor doesn't always beget happiness, but it is medicine.

And finally, a temporary community that got me, that didn't ask me to gut myself, but lovingly invited me to let the light in. Who said, we see you, even if you're crying, even if you're holding yourself together with duct tape and a safety pin. A frantic photo in a white spiderweb. A paradigm shift. The piercing truth of what intimacy could really be, not the black and white chessboard I had always assumed it to be. An angel, holding me in the darkness.

I don't want to go home.

I want to find it.

To stop sealing a business deal, to approach a romance with it's own magic, rather than the same business tactics. Because that? That has been a recipe for disaster.

Unless there is sex involved, which there isn't.

Sex paves over a myriad of imperfections, files down ill-fitting puzzle pieces so they nestle as though they were always supposed to, even if the picture they create makes no sense. Fuck it. And so you do, and what happens is something fits when it shouldn't. Something stops seeking because it is wedged where it wasn't supposed to be, but why would it seek a better fit – a match it can no longer accept?

I've punished myself too much, too often, with too many negative words and mirrors of things I'm not and will never be. Things I'd never desire to be. And I think in part this is why. Because in the dark, under the influence of chemical messengers who have motivations of their own, we force a fit that is illogical, and then we use our wits to rationalize it in the light of day. Rather than forgiving our transgressions, we try to relive a moment – or make something fleeting last.

I am guilty of this. I've made things last in the hopes that some point I would feel like a grown up – like at some point the “faking it” would turn into “making it” but instead – instead the sick waves of self realization have crashed over me and I limp back to shore, a half-drowned rat who has spent 30 years faking it to fake it.

But no more.

For three decades I've looked for a home in someone else – since Mark Havens carried me across that footbridge, I've never asked what my country could do for me, I've only asked what I could do for it. What can I do for you? How can I cut off pieces of myself to fit within your puzzle? Tell me what to cut out, what to add on and I'll shape shift.

I am coming home in pieces. Ready for assembly.

To meet me where I am.

Haseya. She rises.

Like I said, you had to be there. The food was great, the sunsets amazing. Time expands and contracts in the jungle, and so, it appears, does spirit.

Magic will have no choice but to dance with you.

Sat nam.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016


Anne Lamott says bird by bird, but this chapter has been the kind of metamorphosis that typically exists in science fiction - no birds existed at the start or finish - rather, it has been completely bizarre, with full discombobulation and incomplete or incalculable recombobulation. I’ve become something totally unrecognizable, which seems to be par for the course these days, in these United States.

I’m in a state of mourning and grief, which I’ve tried to skip by paving over with more mourning and grief, inappropriate sexual relations, some stress, a few automobile accidents, some codependence, and a little bit of accidental home amputation.

Oh, and work.

I think I’m one of the fortunate few who doesn’t turn to the typical - the alcohol, the drugs, the evenings full of monotony: Netflix and News. It seems my preference is to attempt to transcend the pain and personal loathing that comes from the collapse of one relationship by immediately patching over it with another. And this worked - sort of - maybe - for a portion of my life, but in my vapid attempts to escape myself through the cunning use of other, I’ve never quite sorted out how to fully escape from myself.

Peter is escaping from me now - or at least, that’s what I keep telling myself. He’s going to India on a spiritual journey of the Self, amid the ashrams and meditation holes, the slums and cremation stations. If you’ve asked me how I feel about it, I’ve sometimes said sad, or abandoned, or angry. And these are all true. I have felt a variety of things, mostly at the same time, mostly on the 10 end of the 1-10 scale.

Intensity is something I do well.

My instinct is to jump into something else - seek out someone to fix, or someone to fix me. To be half of a unit, even if I have to do More Effort than would reasonably be my share. Because being alone is something I cannot tolerate. It’s a place I’ve never really known, a place my parents never warned me about and every movie of my childhood told me was the source of all suffering in the world. I’d like to paint over the bloodshed and the tears of this last chapter with a fresh coat of paint - maybe some stucco, to hide the places where I kicked through the wall. Spackle for the mortal wounds we each inflicted in an attempt to set the other free.

Except I think that this will keep happening, and eventually, the walls of this cave will swallow me whole.

I know that Peter isn’t doing this for me, even though he sometimes says he is, sometimes with nice words and sometimes with the sharp words that no one who knows him could ever imagine him uttering. I like to fight back, not promising fidelity or even that I’ll meet up in India with him at the end of this chapter. It isn’t exactly what I want to say, or what I mean, but I’m not sure that even the writer in me can fully express the simultaneous gratitude and rage at his decision. Gratitude at the time and space, rage at the abandonment.

It is difficult to admit that I’m a difficult person to live with. That the baggage I come with is that annoying-ass present that continues to yield box after gift-wrapped box, the sadist’s matryoshka doll of all of the Things I never took the time to feel or unwrap myself. An insidious gift for anyone who gets too close to see. I’ve recognized that this is not unique to me, that we all have various sorts of unusual baggage at the backs of our closet or up on cinderblocks in the front yard. We have this mistaken belief that we are here in this life to learn and take on, to earn more, make more, create more, have more. But I think that’s a modern mistake, compounded by our access to Stuff and our unwillingness to let go. I have it. I feel the inner hoarder in me, who has carefully and skillfully packed away all of the emotions I chose not to feel into matching rubbermaid containers in the basement, amid the original packing material of the things I haven’t decided belong to me, the dust, the erosion, and of course, the layers of sentiment. Or sediment. Grief, the silt that completely obscures my vision as I dig through treasures forgotten at the bottom of my emotional ocean.

I have withdrawn into the smallest room of my house: a nest I built for myself over the last seven years. It overlooks the canyon, the mountains, the sunrise. It doesn’t have other people’s shit in it, nor is it more than I can handle. I’m retreating into the tidiest corner of my mind to slowly and methodically unpack Jon’s death, my divorce, the infidelity and incredible and shameful compromises I made in order to fit into whatever identity mattered to be half of a whole. The incredibly old baggage that simply will not disintegrate on it’s own, like sexual abuse, relationship abuse, and The Ones That Got Away.

(I keep typing hole, by the way. Like I’m half of a hole, which is the most succinct way to describe how I actually feel right now.)

I suppose this is where the gratitude for Peter exists. That he’s escaping the mess that I’m in because he’s got his own baggage that he’s tried to outrun in his own ways, and boy does it feel cramped when everyone is unpacking and feeling. Wouldn’t it just be easier to drink, or gamble, or fix absolutely anyone else?

Yes. Except that it’s completely impossible to fix someone else. I know this. It feels like birth. Instead of doing the work that is needed, we have to do the surrounding work. Defend the door, the space. Bring cool towels and dangle precariously around the edges of the bathtub, applying the healing touch that reminds the animal body - the body that has no use for words - that as messy and as incredibly terrible as each feeling may be, the way is through.

And the way is alone.

This last chapter has felt most like transition - the angry, incessant and unyielding phase before one decides to walk through the fire. The chapter where we hang on to the life we lived, complain about the pain, lose direction and perspective. The rabbit hole that cannot be understood or explained to anyone on the outside: cracked-out caterpillars, unbirthdays, and all.

This chapter? I have a sense that this chapter is the pushing phase. Potentially equally long or longer, with sustained effort in a particular direction. Wasted effort as the path is paved, two steps forward, one step back. Better to conserve the energy and allow the body to push than to intellectualize the process.

Sweet Jesus, that’s terrifying.

What I’ve noticed about the pushing phase from watching birth, is that it feels as though it will never end - and then it ends. Almost as a surprise. With disbelief that something has been born – that something which occupied you has escaped.

Sat Nam

Saturday, October 1, 2016


In the wild word of modern yoga there exists a significant amount of bleed-over from the world of the New Age, almost like someone tried to paint the Venn diagram in watercolor, during a gentle drizzle.

I’m not sure that you can define New Age, just as I’m not certain of the definition of yoga. I say yoga is like music - many traditions, backgrounds. Some with explicit rules, others without. But generally recognizable. Distinct. New Age is harder - the melting pot’s self-aware decision that every tradition has something to offer, and the pioneering spirit to move away from dogmatic and puritanical roots. Exodus from the flames is all the direction needed.

That feels comforting, I think, to people raised with rote memorization of Thou Shalt Nots, but it is also inherently directionless. Nothing to work towards, just clear ideas of what to run away from. Spiritual bumper cars. Except in the dark, without the aid of gravity.

And sometimes, when running in the darkness, people stumble onto the path of yoga. While tending to a scraped knee, they hear the music and start to follow. Direction for the directionless. It soothes their aching backs, gives their monkey minds something to chew on, and starts to shine a light into the broken places.

For many people, this instigates a revolt, because the broken places should be healed - ignored - paved over - not highlighted. Deeply engrained habits, desires, wounds? This is not the kind of yoga that makes it onto the cover of a magazine. Except this can be a teaching of yoga: get quiet, look around you, look within you. Examine the wound that would be so easy to airbrush from the historical records, the mental instability that you can cleverly hide within the four walls of your bedroom or in the tomb of the couch. The unfulfilled longing. What is really happening? Why are you doing this? And: are you sure?

In the great bleed from New Age to yoga, synchronicity is like breadcrumbs along the path. Reassurance that you’ve chosen wisely.

A sign.

For me, synchronicity is different. It’s a glitch in The Matrix (they sure got that part right). It’s a signpost that you’ve been here before. That your’e walking a path you’ve been down, and while it can feel familiar, it only becomes home if you spend your life retracing those steps over and over. To me, synchronicity doesn’t say you’re on the right path - or the path out of here - it says, pay attention. There’s a curve up ahead and you have a chance to break free. Or loop back around, if you’re not ready to leave this well-worn part just yet.

There’s always next time.

And here I am, dear friends, on the doorstep of next time. Breadcrumbs having bulldozed a path straight through the forest, illuminated by neon signs and a searchlight.

Yet something is different - eerily different - as this time, I’m not following a path. My eyes are closed, my gaze inward.

And the path is rising up to meet me.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Law of Attraction

I think I was in college the first time someone mentioned The Secret and Vision Boards and Drawing the Life You Want Towards you. It didn't sit well with me, but I was skeptical of gravity in those days, so less-established phenomenon didn't get much play time among the reruns of anxiety dreams and catastrophic daydreams, fantasies, and contingency plans. I believed in something subtler, and I suppose a felt an emotion more subtle than “believe.” My grandmother used to say “inkling,” which may not be an actual word, but that's what I had – an inkling that there was something true about the Law and something equally wrong about The Secret.

A paradox, of sorts.

Now it's unlikely to surprise you that faith and trust aren't getting their fair share of my brain sugar, either, but I do have a sense of The Way Things Work. For instance, I don't so much think that everything happens for a Reason, because Reason doesn't appear to drive on most winding wet roads late at night, and there's quite a lot of action there. No. If some higher power, or network of higher powers, or subset of anyone with enough wherewithal to balance a checkbook is in charge of this rodeo and splashing in a dash of Reason every once and again, then I'll stand corrected. I even get that you may believe this, and you may be right! But in my many odd years of experience, even Reason herself hasn't always made the best decisions. Instead, I feel that we can – I can – I choose to – make meaning out of things. We look at the odd collection pulled in from the garden this morning and cook up something glorious – or useable – or passable. We do our best, making sense through the rearview mirror that distorts and fades, whose image grows smaller each time we glance back.

As it is, some people are better painters, other better cooks. But no one gets a package of perfectly selected, pre-cut ingredients delivered to their door or the set of their cooking show. Nope. God and The Great Hereafter don't send Blue Apron boxes with secret instructions just to see if we can do exactly what they had intended, or at least, that's not what I believe. I think – I almost believe – that we get this box that would have been perfect for our recipe, except it has no eggplant. Or because it has an eggplant. Because it didn't all fit in the pan, or there wasn't enough to go around. And we can sink into moaning, as I have done, despairing the parmesan that God left out, leave it on the porch for the bears and the mice to dive into, or we can fucking make something out of it.

That's where I am right now, although i'm not sure what the hell I'm making. I've been taking instructions, half-following too many Pinterest recipes, chopping and sauteing, but God help me, I haven't a clue what the fuck I'm making. The Reason hasn't appeared yet. Sister Meaning is still out to supper with friends while I feel the resounding click of the clock as this produce does not get any fresher. I've gotten lost in wondering what my parents would do or want, my partner, my friends. How I could coerce this recipe based on a friend's allergies or preferences, and I've forgotten to ask myself.

As in: self, what are you doing here?

And, what would you like to do next?

I'm in the no-man's-land of the northern Pacific right now, halfway between the two places that feel equally like home to me. Wondering what's in season on that side of the world? Answers? Belief? New prayers?


What will be waiting for me when I get back?

I'm hoping to dance in the waves with Sister Meaning, make friends or have a casual fling with Reason. But I also know better. I know that these things don't happen to us, they don't happen because We Set The Intention or put up magazine cut-outs on our vision boards. The Secret isn't halfway through the Pacific, in a magical group of islands, no matter what the advertisements told you while you were scouring for pictures of People Riding Horses on the Beach. Spending $800 on an airline ticket against your better judgement is not evidence of the world conspiring to make those dreams come true, it is a persistent reminder that money doesn't buy Happiness, but you can throw it and see if it sticks anyway.

Money, that is. I'm not sure if you can throw happiness.

I'm still just trying to find it.

And maybe that's just it. If you've found happiness, get out there and throw it around like it's a football and you're a cloudless fall day, full of crisp leaves. Perhaps those of us seeking will wind up there, gaze turned down and in our own world of mental sorting. Hit us in the head with it – pull us into the game. Help us realize that Brother Chance will tag us in at any moment, whether we're seeking happiness on our vision boards or not. Our job is not to have the blinders up.

And then, to make meaning.

And dance.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

An Eye for An Eye

I got it wrong from the beginning.

I misunderstood “an eye for an eye” because I was a sensitive child, or an ornery child, or a brilliant child, depending on your perspective. Perhaps the idea came from a teacher or another student, I'm not sure. But poking out eyeballs didn't make a lot of sense to me, so I figured it was more of a restorative justice kind of punishment. Like, hey, you poke out someone's eye, now it's your turn to see for them.

This is not how other people see it.

And that's ok. The world is full of soul-crushing news, like zoos have trained snipers on staff just in case.

That beat isn't part of the music.

The explosion wasn't part of the show.

I work in the world of babies – I saw several of my babies today – they all showed me their shoes, full of sparkles and light-up insteps. They can walk and talk and cause all sorts of mayhem. And instead of marveling at how grown up they all are, I had the sinking feeling.

Which one of you will become a murderer?

Get shot on purpose?

By accident?

You see, you might think I'm exaggerating to make a point, but my 14 year old cousin completed a firearm assisted suicide, two of my childhood friends were shot by their husbands. My flower girl shot herself in the head. I lost a friend in Columbine. A friend's father worked at Sandyhook. A friend's daughter was in the theatre in Aurora.

My world is too small. 

It is too small for automatic weaponry.

For guns in the hands of children.

Or adults.

How many people do you know who were shot to death?

On purpose?

By accident?

Should there be a charm necklace for this? Because my number is so high now, I'm starting to forget. I'm losing track. I need a way to remember, and the burden of the memory is crushing. It is messing with my head.

I'm starting to wonder: who is next?


Your baby?

I am not naïve enough to believe that changing the way we access guns will eliminate tragedy. That people will not still die early. That senseless things will continue to happen.


If we continue to behave this way,

how long until we are all blind?

Monday, May 9, 2016

Oh F*ck, It's Mother's Day

I'm sure a lot of you are saying this right now, perhaps because you didn't buy a card or you forgot to book brunch, so you're taking Mom to an afternoon tea at an obscure German restaurant because all of the popular places are full.

This post is not for you.

If you're taking your mother or children to get a pedicure or wreak havoc in a family photo, go and get on with your life. You're wasting daylight by reading.

If instead, you woke up in shackles, compelled to drink not because of family drama ala Everyone Loves Raymond, but Family Drama, this is for you.

This is for all of the people who drop off of social media out of self preservation.

The people who hang cloths over the mirrors.

The people who bury their heads in the sand because this day was brought to you in part by The People of Hallmark, who are very first on my list of people to launch into outer space and the very last on my list of people who get to join me on my ark.

Today is a day that finds the hidden wounds, the things that didn't magically heal in the last year. The gremlin in the basement, the blood stain under the rug.

This is for the mama who has a variety of rehearsed answers to, “Why don't you just adopt?”

This is for the mamas who hear someone call out their baby's name and see the child they lost, they never had, run into the arms of someone else. She's the same age, with a reasonable resemblance to The One That Got Away.

This is for the mama who couldn't decide, couldn't flip a coin, and imprisoned her soul to the one that came through her, sacrificing her own dreams.

This is for the mama whose babies rain out before their time, whose body cannot seem to catch or hold.

This is for the mama who had to unplug her baby from a machine, without the added option of disentangling her heart and soul.

This is for the mama who opened the door to the man in uniform, who started with, “I don't know how to tell you this.”

This is for the mama who cannot seem to redirect her focus back onto herself, whose babies became her world and now lives imprisoned by her perception of their happiness, who forgot that she had work to do and that only a part of it included her fruits.

This is for the mamas who do it anyway.

This is for the mamas who have to answer why they kept “it”, knowing “it” would never “live a full life.”

To the mamas who never get asked the question, because they made the other choice.

The mamas who have to lie about how blessed they feel in every moment, because they'd rather be anywhere else.

The mamas whose babies don't or can't love them.

The mamas whose own mamas drank or hit, detached or never dropped-in in the first place.

The mamas whose brunch dates involve a bottle of champagne and a headstone.

My life's work appears to be about motherhood – helping people navigate the minefield of horrors that surround the greatest Wonder of the World. It's about reclaiming birth and women's rights and advocacy. It's about recognizing all mothers who choose to mother, or try to mother, whether that means carrying or birthing or raising or some combination of the three.

Mother is a verb, people. Maybe in your life it's a person or two or three. Maybe you add fancy terms like “step” or “in-law” or “formerly-known-as.”

They say it melts their hearts to hear their little call them “mama,” and I believe that's probably true. My heart already melted, it's somewhere under the rug, or painted on the door. The crime scene tape is ratty and faded, but the neighborhood kids keep their distance anyway. I have nothing left to give, and those sparkly little souls out there, flitting above, choosing their mothers based on their karma or samskaras or who already drives a mini-van? They are not interested in me. Fly over, they say, this one's marked and mutilated.

I'll pick the meth addict.

The woman whose shopping cart already runneth over.

This post might seem a tad bit negative (is my depression showing?), but really, it is intended to highlight the aspects of motherhood, of mothering that are deeper and more innate. More universal than flowers and pedicures. The Solidarity of Motherhood is that this shit is the hardest thing ever – to be caught up in a tornado of love that you simply cannot detach from. Or to stand in the field and chase the tornado saying PICK ME! Make ME feel LOVE! Get my ass out of Kansas, please.

We whitewash motherhood, degrade and deflate it by simply saying YAY MAMAS: here is a card, see you next year.

Instead, this year, will you do something, for me?

With me?

Write a letter, to the mother you had or wish you had. The mother you are or wish you were. The children you have, or wish you had. Define motherhood for yourself. Give yourself a reference point. Acknowledge all of the sides of yourself.

And then do it again, tomorrow. And the next day. And the next.

Make an Agreement with Motherhood that you will meet it on your own terms. Become aware of the sticking points and make an effort to move through them. Appreciate the highs when you can, locate the barriers that keep love from flowing through you. Maybe for you it is sadness, or grief, or regret, or things you simply cannot post about on the internet.

I'm not asking you to post them on the internet.

That's my job.

But, spend today in relationship with this word. From a place of reverence, devotion. For the power it wields to both build and destroy. Let it build you. Let it destroy you.

And do it again tomorrow.

Sat Nam.

Last Mother's Day


17 years ago I was 18. I submitted my deposit check to attend THE Colorado College (into the hands of MLB, who would later be my supervisor) and drove home, through Denver. My mom and I stopped for lunch and saw lots of EMS drive by, and said a little prayer for wherever they were heading.

When we got home, I turned on the TV and my heart sank as the same footage was on every channel.

From that moment on, life was different.

Life keeps changing like this. Waves of grief, moments of stillness. Unimaginable things that happen, then fade, then become commonplace.

Do you remember the time before "school shooting" was a part of your vocabulary? When the biggest drama in high school was... drama?

I do.

In many ways, today is one of those days. It is a before and an after. Remembering the before, mourning the after. Maybe this isn't a bookmark in your life, and that's just fine. Maybe for you today is mourning the before, and relishing the after. Your bookmarks are different.

But here we all are, awash in the sea of forgetting the most important moment, the now, as we all face different directions and focus on what once was or what might be. What does it take for you to be in this moment? To see the full spectrum of your experience?

I forget 'now' almost every moment of almost every day. I think that's a natural, normal human condition. But every once and awhile, sometimes with the perspective of before and after, from the path I've walked, from the open field in front of me, I realize that this is it, baby.



Friday, April 8, 2016


This week marked an important anniversary.
(you know how I get around anniversaries)
This time it skated past me for the first time. Is time so short, that four years is now all it takes to forget the word – the promise of certain death and the redemption – the vow to pave over the regrets, to Live Life Always, without ever allowing a sunrise or sunset to pass unnoticed?
On it's own, it sounds like the next greatest recyclable, a breathable material perfect for sailboats and umbrellas, reusable diapers and carrying your groceries home. The Revolution.
When a doctor blurts it in a well-rehearsed sentence on the way into the room, locking eyes with you in desperation for your uterus and your health and your Salvation? Less sexy.
It's a cancer word, she said.
We don't have time, she said.
And everything I knew about medicine, about second opinions, about breathing? Drowned out by the fear in my ears, the tears in my eyes, the well-worn anxiety button in the pit of my stomach.
I am a Kwinn, afterall. We survive on contingency plans and fatalistic thinking.
Damage control.
I dropped into the well of myself as she laid me down, took pieces of me, her serenade reverberating in my head: your best case scenario is a full hysterectomy.
The next day, I flew into the four winds. I fast-forwarded to spring in the partially-digested thinking, flew over the emotional storm and landed in the arms of friends. The resolutions I made on the plane – to never again participate in soul-sucking monotony, to eat well, to say my prayers. To forgive those who had trespassed against me.
To keep the C word at bay.
To keep certain things sacred, like the sunrise.
You've read the rest of the story, or you can if you'd like. I kept my uterus, lost my fertility.
Kept my wits, lost my marriage.
Kept my fatalistic fantasies.
Burned down my life.
And just when I thought all was lost, I forgot. I forgot to worry, to plan for the worst.
I remembered to breathe, to follow the tiny compass inside of me. To hear the beat of my own heart, without imposing sorrow or desperation.
To see myself with new eyes.
Neoplastic does not mean cancer. It means new and uncontrolled growth (how's that for a mind f*ck?). And yes, when a doctor uses it in relation to laboratory results, it's not a good thing.
But I'm ready for it to be a good thing.
I somehow lost the memo that I'm attractive – in more ways than one. That a man (and The Man) don't get to define that for me. That I may be 35, which may be older than I feel, but it's a lot younger than I'll ever be again.
So while I could concern myself with not being 19 and blonde, not being moldable and shapable into someone's pet project or Flavor of the Week, instead I'm concerning myself with being exactly who I am.
Growing, uncontrollably.
I'm getting ready to fly into the four winds again – this time without an agenda or sense of direction.
In no one's cage.
Not even my own.
With a New Age definition of neoplasm.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Throwing Gratitude

Yoga teachers have a bad habit of telling everyone to be grateful for every moment, in every moment, like it is the secret to happiness or something.

(It is, but that's not important).

The nugget often lands off-target, particularly if someone is experiencing grief or suffering or anxiety. And if they aren't experiencing deep despair or sadness, if they're having an up day, they just sing right along – yup – gratitude.

Preach it, sister.

Until they experience grief or suffering. Then the lost relationship, the illness, the expense – it catches up and overtakes. It is hardest to hear and hardest to remember in these moments, which punctuate life and give it spice and meaning.

Or at least, make it worth writing about.

A few years ago my friend gave me a polished rock with the word “gratitude” carved into it. I put it on my meditation altar, carried it in my pocket, took it out and rolled it around every once and awhile. It was there to be that reminder, that port in the storm, that piece of solid matter or fact that could literally be held.

About the 18th or 19th time I tried to get pregnant, and failed, I threw it off the back porch. I was standing outside, in a staring contest with the sunset, miserable and full of anger, jealousy, pain.


I f*cking threw gratitude down the hill.

It marked the beginning of a dark period. I would like to capitalize all of those words, ala The Blue Period of my Picasso, my brotha from anotha motha, but I cannot. Capitalizing it makes it seem like an epoch that came before, indicating that it has ended.

I slogged through life, overtaken by spontaneous naps, overwhelmed by the good news of others. I held zero gratitude for the little things, like the sunrise and the fact that my body was working.

Well, some of my body was working.

I'm certain that anti-gratitude isn't a thing, except that it is. It is the Scrooge and the Eeyore, the dark cloud that does not permit access to the healing rays of the sun. And in this dark place, it is particularly hard to find gratitude, to determine which way is up or out. You bounce – I bounced – between taking one step in each direction, then backtracking to the neutral zone, where it was safe, deep in the heart of my own suffering. Yoga teachers kept telling me to Be Grateful. To recognize the things that were going according to plan. To play. To adventure. To rest.

It never managed to permeate my bubble of sadness.

And one day, when nothing was particularly remarkable, I decided to walk down the hill. It is rough and scraggly down there, with scrub oak and cactus and a myriad of non-human footprints. It is a sacred and timeless space – yet untapped by the internet and the footsteps of those who walk on two legs. The grasses are very tall, and the slope is untamed, rocky and precarious. It requires full attention and focus when you're on the move, because every step has the potential to be a misstep, to take you to your knees, to drop you into the canyon.

It was a misstep that landed me squarely on the smooth stone, whose message was as clear as ever.



This is life. And this is the practice of gratitude. I think Forrest Gump got it right, that sometimes you have to throw it. And having thrown it, you have to throw it more. And eventually you stop, because you learn that sometimes, there just aren't enough rocks.

You can carry gratitude with you, look at it on your altar, remind yourself continuously to be grateful. And you don't have to. You can chuck it down the hill and into the hinterlands when your wounds are still seeping and you need a little time. Gratitude isn't something that someone can give you – it must be found, again, every day. Instead of remembering to be grateful, perhaps we as Yoga Teachers should remind you to look for gratitude. To find the smallest thing that is going right and to give thanks to God or the Universe – or simply to yourself.

If you are breathing, something is going right.

If you are seeking gratitude, if you have thrown it out or smashed it to pieces, remember that you carry the secret of gratitude in the grace of each breath.

The capacity to seek it.

So throw gratitude. And then find it again. Maybe sooner next time, maybe without as much wallowing and weeping. Maybe not. No one promised you happiness, not life, not the Founding Fathers. But the promise of gratitude is available in every breath, and gratitude is the seed of happiness.

Help it grow.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Equinox Paradox

I can tell you my life's story like a leap frog – how I've hopped from seeking one person's affection to another, to another.

(You do this too, I'll bet. At least to some degree.)

But recently, I've realized how significantly this pattern of behavior has influenced the path I've taken. How eager I have been to conceed, negotiate, bend, fold, or twist into the shape that seemed most appealing at the time, to keep those in my life happiest.

As though their happiness were my sole responsibility.

Or the reason I came here this life.

This is a seed that sprouted early in my life. I'm not certain where it came from – I cannot seem to see farther back into the distance than this incident. But it the shadow it has cast upon my path has served as an unwanted guide that has steered me so far from what I'm here to do.

My family jokes about how wise I was as a child – my violin teacher remarked that I aged backwards – which may explain why I feel as though I'm mired in an additional adolescence. I'm five years older than my brother, and when he was born, I'm reported as expressing dramatic relief that if no one else would marry me, at least I now had a backup plan.

Kids say the darndest things.

(This is troubling for many reasons).

The summer before was my first year in summer school. I was four and a half on the outside, which must have made me 74 on the inside? I'm not sure. Regardless, the troup of my elementary school classmates was headed to the park to run through the sprinklers. The teacher, at the head of the pack, helping the kiddos cross the rickety bridge, one of the “senior” students (probably 12 years old?) held up the rear.

I tripped, and skinned my knee. The 74 year old in me was mortified. The four year old cried.

In an effort to delegate, the teacher yelled to the back of the pack, to M.H., to pick me up and carry me the rest of the way to the park.

Save me from my pain, my shame.

Distract me from the Work I am here to do.

Every step I have taken since has been in an effort to recreate this feeling – the rescue.

In my romantic life, I've sought the rescuer.

Everywhere else, I rescue.

I've thought – felt – desired – to be That for another human. I've forced that idea of motherhood and waited for a baby to choose me. To Be The One. To rescue. To rescue me.
But that's not why I'm here, either.

I'm headed into retreat for the next ten days to do some deep soul-searching for myself, by myself, which means I will not get back to you. But it is ok; you will be ok. I've always thought you would need me, paid close attention to how that might look, how I might rescue you from the middle of the ocean or the nightmare of your life. Or maybe in your case, I've considered how you might rescue me, if I did and said exactly the right thing at precisely the right moment.

But now, at 35, on this Vernal Equinox, I meet myself in the middle. The day and night the same. My body and mind the same age for a fleeting instant.

To rescue myself, from myself.

See you in April.


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Just Relax - and other unhelpful suggestions

Just Relax

...and other unhelpful suggestions.

As you know by now, I sometimes work as a doula. This year, I had a realization while sitting at a kitchen table with a couple of clients. I always ask how women think they wanted to be supported in labor, and if there are things they don't want me to say. Like most of my clients, she knew little about what she wanted.

And exactly what she didn't want.

"You always tell me to relax." She said to her husband. "DON'T TELL ME TO RELAX!"

(I may have done the same thing a few thousand times myself).

Her husband shot back that sometimes that was what she needed. They volleyed back and forth for a little while and some little nugget of realization came to me, so I shot it out there. I think I interrupted.

"What do you want him to say?" I blurted.

"I don't know, just don't say relax."

THIS IS THE AMAZING THING THAT CAME THROUGH ME LIKE I WAS SPEAKING IN TONGUES ---> So when he says relax, what he is saying is, "I have no idea what to say right now, since you don't know what you want me to say, so until then I'm going to keep saying the word 'relax' which means [space filler for the right thing]."

This experience changed my life.

First, I have realized that all annoying things ever are simply the annoying person trying to do their best in the absence of clear direction. If you don't state your expectations or needs or desires, how can anyone ever (ever) hope to meet them?

Second, instead of saying "relax" or "I'm sorry to hear that" or fill-in-the-blank, I now say, "let's pretend I'm saying the exact right thing in this moment, because I have no idea what that exact right thing is. If you know, tell me and I'll say it. Otherwise, please hear my intention, which is to be for you whatever it is you need in this moment."

(It's a little longer than 'relax').

Friday, February 12, 2016

The Mess

"This was not part of the plan."

I hear myself say this a lot, and I hear my students say it, too.

Life has dealt a Thing – an injury, an illness, an unplanned pregnancy, a different ability.

A tear in the fabric.

The Thing we thought would last forever, the unimaginable Thing, the dreaded Thing. The Thing we forgot to plan for. The Thing has become a mess.

Life has misplaced her end of the contractual agreement that we wrote, promising warm nights and salty breezes, punctuated by sweet moments and ample rest. Life did not accurately keep score on the times we arrived early, pulled more than our weight, paid for the next person in line. She was turned the other way when we gave our brother the bigger half of the cookie, and somehow didn't notice just how many times we dug for genuine joy when someone won the prize we were after.

Even when they didn't appreciate it.

Life seems not to notice the big and little efforts, even when they are unsuccessful or particularly bitter. Life behaves, at times, like an unruly toddler – destroying best-laid plans, biting your ankles, and speaking emphatically in a language you do not understand.

I like to think that my life would be better if it would just follow the f*cking plan. Like we alternate back and forth with who is in the lead, because while I've never been strong with the tango and often forget the steps, I would still like to be in charge. Even though the dance would probably go smoother for everyone if I would simply abdicate, I can't get over the fact that she did not give me full credit for the things that I have done – so how could I possibly trust her?

And then she steamrolls me. All of a sudden I'm upside down in a massive dip, my feet flailing in the air, thinking – I was not prepared for this. I did not learn this wacky move in the Cotillion. I hear my mother's voice yelling something like, “ass over elbows” or “ass over elephants” and I think – yes, that is exactly how this feels. This thing is it – not survivable. Not part of my plan, no tools to extricate myself.

Except that over and over I find myself surviving situations just as these – the unthinkable things that defy the vocabulary of the After School Special, the things that linger between the lines of sacred texts.

The things too unimaginable to be warned about.

The Things that I have survived – The Things that YOU have survived – that is the miracle. That we made it through the unimaginable, or that we're making it through the unimaginable, or that despite the fact that we cannot see the edge of imaginable, from our ass over elbows position – we are going to make it through. We somehow have the tools around us and within us to weather the most unpredictable, the most epic, the completely unprecedented.

That, is life.

The next time you think, "I didn't sign up for this!" remember that you did. Remember that this is exactly the mess that you signed up for. The things that you have done and the reason that you came here: to untangle this mess. You have the tools to do this.

(At least, that's what I keep telling myself)

Friday, January 29, 2016

Grabthar's Hammer


It's windy in my world, which makes sense to my soul. The dust hasn't settled in my world, today.

I am often the calm in the storm of the lives of my friends - I used to joke that I was the person people would call in the middle of the night if they needed to leave an abusive partner, despite the fact that I'm just about the smallest person with just about the smallest car.

Except I've answered that call, many times.

I have stood by and made the important decisions, like photo albums and prescriptions. I have been the voice of reason when the 150 pound jade plant was the anchor that kept calling "stay."

I have blocked the driveway with my body and my trusty steed to aid the getaway. Driven tearfully into the sunrise as someone else's butterfly wings dried, opened, and prepared for flight.

Even when the phone doesn't ring, I often find myself speaking the answer on the behalf of others. 

Now, I play a different role.

Like you're right - there is no god, no sense, no rhyme, no reason. No right action. When a baby dies, there is literally no right thing anyone can do or say. You become a mountain of pain, dissolving pieces of yourself that used to be solid into liquid anguish - erupting regularly, irregularly. Spontaneously. Destroying anything and everything, like friendships, savings accounts, plans, futures. Pasts.

And that's ok. It is all ok.

The death of a child is not a survivable thing, and I say this as a woman who has experienced the next worst thing, a woman who can hum the tune of loss and grief but can't seem to remember the words.

A woman whose womb has never been able to catch and sprout.

The woman whose child has died is a living symphony of fury - an epic opera - an auditory hallucination that colors and clouds and obscures everything else.

A cloud of ash that blacks out the sun.

I've spent a lot of time looking through the green-tinted glasses of envy and jealousy as other women - as this woman - announced her pregnancy, celebrated her future as I tried very simply not to die. And then to see - to stand witness as the biggest gift in the world carves the biggest hole.

And the sun explodes.

People who say "everything happens for a reason" are people whose lives have never truly been touched by grief. It isn't truth, and I say that on great authority. What is true, maybe, sort of, if you want it to be, is that we can make meaning of the asteroids and volcanoes in our lives.

The deaths of stars.

And this is what I've done, in this instance. Knowing this mama in a variety of ways, I know several things. That if she were to populate a place - a realm - to send her child, she could only hand this child to the person she loved and trusted the most, her brother, his namesake.

It would have complex characters who play double agents, who understand grey, who keep things interesting, like Snape.

It would be ruled by the Goblin King.

And so while I know that Alan Rickman and Davide Bowie didn't die in order to be on hand for the great crossing of this tiny child, I choose to believe that this is the case. Because I am a writer. A storyteller. A finder and maker of meaning.

Because I don't know the words to the song, and there isn't a right thing to say. And I'm too far away to sit shiva, and I'm not Jewish anyway.

But I know the melody.

So this is for you, dear baby Josh, on the day of my dear Jon's death.

By Grabthar's hammer, you shall be avenged.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Sola Dosis Facit Venenum

I have choked down a lot of shit in my life – including, but not limited to, my weight in spirulina and spirituality. I've dished out quite a bit as well, like unsolicited advice, opinions, and Creative Ways to Cut Dairy based on the moral superiority I assumed as a quasi-vegan for several years.

(sorry about that).

After three years of veganism and one year of infertility, I started seeing The Specialists. Not the Western docs who said I was fine, hearty, iron-filled blood, exceptionally low cholesterol, and bright, glowing skin, but the “alternative” specialists, who've been at this game a bit longer. Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners. The ones who looked past the labs and into the dark circles under my eyes, my rampant hair loss, my truly horrifying tongue and said – you're at death's door.

Now, before you get high and mighty and call me a salad and french fry vegan, let me assert several things. I'm exceptionally well educated about nutrition and followed the advice of several very well known, published, medically credentialed professionals, including:
- cooking with a cast-iron skillet
- eating whole-soy products like tofu and tempeh on a daily basis
- eating seeds, nuts, green leafies, berries, veggies and even mushrooms
- avoiding caffeine, sugar, processed foods

And in full disclosure, I wasn't a “true” vegan because I ate eggs once or twice a week. I ate so much I actually gained weight, something my body has resisted for essentially my entire life.

For the first thirty years of my life, I managed to avoid the disordered eating behaviors that were so common to my friends. I've always loved food, cooking shows, recipe books. I'll watch someone cook something that I would never consider eating because I'm so fascinated by the process, but as far as I know, PBS marathons do not constitute disorders.

Then I became vegan(ish).

And for the first time, I was truly hungry.

And so I developed an eating disorder.

It started slowly, in an effort to make sure I was getting adequate nutrition from the vegan diet I was so in love with. I read articles published in scholarly journals describing the impressive effects of a vegan diet on people with cardiovascular concerns, diabetes, and more. Vegetarians live longer – they promised, and so I re-learned how to cook and eat without using animal products.

And I was very happy with the results! The food I made was delicious, and I didn't miss the taste of cheese or meat. My labs were stellar, with cholesterol so low it tripped the marker for “outside of the range of normal” which I perceived as clinical evidence of my moral superiority.

I was pretty much going to live forever.

(except I felt like shit).

I started to develop interesting quirks around food. I've always liked to “have” a lot of food – a full pantry, a stocked refrigerator, a snack bar in the glove box for emergencies, but I started to hoard.

And worry.

When we would travel to Texas, I became consumed with the idea that there would be anything I could eat, so I started hoarding nuts and eating tremendous amounts of hummus to “pre-game” the parties. I would stuff myself out of fear that I would be hungry, or that I wasn't sure where my next meal might come from.

Maybe you're laughing at this – my priveledge is showing, because this was the first time in my life I had ever not felt completely confident that my next meal would appear.

But I kept on.

I started to listen to popular podcasts and read blogs about veganism – the superiority of the diet for the body, the planet, the animals, and only reinforced the absurd boundaries that I had placed upon myself – imprisoned by ideals and with a stubborn enough personality to persist.

I started to believe that what I put in my mouth was an expression of my highest good. “You are what you eat,” as the adage reminded me on a daily basis, and I wanted to be healthy and fertile.

Instead, I was becoming a vegetable.

About a year after I started “trying” to get pregnant, I saw an Ayurvedic practitioner who insisted that I start eating full-fat dairy. Soy and coconut were not going to cut it, I needed animal fat, and if I wouldn't eat meat, it had to come from dairy.

Of course, I knew better.

Because no other animal drinks another animal's milk. No animal drinks milk beyond the age of weaning. Milk is laden with cholesterol and galactose and PAIN AND SUFFERING AND DEATH.


So I went to see an acupuncturist.

She said the same thing, and in no uncertain terms despite our language barrier.
“No meat?” she asked me.
“No meat” I said.
“Must eat meat. Organs. Eggs.”
“Not a chance.”

Seriously, people, I thought. My labs are excellent. I'm the picture of health. Clearly you need to update your manuals for modern times, what with all we now know about the marvels of veganism.

As a last-ditch effort, I saw a friend from college who is an acupuncturist who was raised in the West. We share a common language, hobbies, and interests, and surely (I thought), this young, vibrant, hip mama would tell me how to use the magic of TCM while on a vegan diet.

“You're going to laugh at what I have to tell you,” she said.

I hadn't told her what anyone else had said, just that I wasn't fully understanding my acupuncturist's recommendations because of the language barrier.

“You MUST eat full fat dairy, starting now. And meat.”

“Tell me more,” I said.

Same thing. Organ meats. Fish. Full fat dairy. All of the things I had trained myself to equate with the word “poison.” I argued with her a little bit, pushing back and touting the bright shiny claims of veganism. And she politely informed me that literally all of my systems were shutting down, as evidenced by my inability to stay awake, my hair loss, my shitty attitude, and the fact that my tongue looked exactly like the poster on her wall – an indication of everything that could possibly be wrong with your tongue at once.

I started to crack.

I walked into Whole Foods and stood in front of the yogurt section. I had made my peace with never again asking a cow for nutritional support, and here I was sheepishly and shamefully stopping where everyone could see me. Where my yoga students could observe my fall from grace. Yogurt, cream, a few other things to try out, and I zipped out of there faster than I've ever skipped through the Feminine Product aisle.

Slowly and with an abundance of resistance I started to incorporate milk into my diet. Cheese, yogurt, butter. I didn't want to admit it, but I felt better. I thought perhaps it was the opiate-like chemicals in dairy products that stimulate the same pathways and create an addictive cycle. But I actually think it was my body saying YES – THANK YOU. WE'VE BEEN TRYING TO TELL YOU.

I'll spare you the additional fertility woes, ensuing divorce, and other belabored topics, and fast forward to the ashram.

Two and a half years into my “fertility journey” I went to an ashram for a spiritual time out. I had blossomed from irritating to irate and my friends were slowly starting to disown me. I simply could NOT force my body to become pregnant, no matter what I did.

The ashram was a positive experience for me, even though I struggled most of the time.

It was vegan, with the addition of butter and yogurt for breakfast. Eggs and meat were strictly prohibited, both on and off site – as in – they send you home if you even look at it.

After the first month, when I had run out of my acupuncture herbs, I saw their resident Ayurvedic practitioner. I was hungry and sleep deprived, like everyone else, but it was a life-changing meeting.

I filled out the forms before our visit and was completely honest about what I normally ate, how I exercised, how I felt, etc. She greeted me after reading through and said she was so happy to see my incredibly healthy and sattvic ways. She mentioned that it would be a special treat for her to work with someone so well-educated and healthy.

And then she looked at my tongue.

Her face fell. She grabbed me by my shoulders and said, “Do not tell anyone I'm telling you this – but you MUST eat meat. As soon as you get home, at minimum three times a week.”

I protested. I had come so far against my morals by eating dairy – yogurt and cream – wasn't that enough? Why did I have to push so hard against my moral superiority and actually take the life of an animal just to be well?

She had compassion, maybe pity. She told me that from the perspective of Ayurveda, we do not incur karma for eating meat when it is used as medicine. That so many of my bodily systems were damaged that it would be a full-time job for me to get healthy enough to ever get pregnant. She gave me a prescription – herbs and practices and dietary rules. Meat or fish at least three times a week, five Tablespoons of ghee and other oils every day, and rest.

I relented.

Well, I'm relenting.

It's a process – to backtrack against the Truth you've learned.

To eat your words.

To swallow poison

and pride.

And so I'm sharing this now, because I keep seeing the Moral Superiority of others on social media, spouting nutritional advice and ways of living based on western science, or pseudo-science, or hearsay, or wonderful intentions. Amazon recommended a new book to me called, “How Not to Die,” which is yet another vegan book written by a doctor. It is written with excellent intentions, and while it will not prevent anyone from dying and is therefore inherently false advertising, it may well improve the quality of life and the quality of death of many people.

It may kill others.

When you know better, you do better, and I'm no longer allowing my intellect to kill my body. I acknowledge that what is healthy for one may be toxic for another. That veganism itself is not to blame, ego is.

Sola dosis facit venenum.

(Dose alone determines the poison)