the illusion of health

You know that nightmare
where you have to take a Calculus final
even though you didn’t realize you were signed up for Calculus,
and didn’t attend a single class?

I had something like that, last night …
except, appropriately, it was about face masks.

I was perusing earrings in cozy, dimly lit second-hand collectives in San Francisco. I’d just found a beautiful pair of enormous red, yellow, and green earrings when I looked up and realized:

There were dozens of people in my vicinity, and no one was wearing a face mask! Not even me!

Panicked, I dropped the earrings and fled.

Then, I’m sitting on a bus, as I did so many times in both childhood and law school. Continue reading “the illusion of health”

safer

On Monday morning, I spent three hours writing about cultivating empathy in the face of COVID-19.

By Monday evening, I was ranting to my husband about a particular group of people,

a divergence that didn’t amuse me until Tuesday morning.

For months now, I’ve half-heartedly worked on making a habit of morning “RPMs”: Read, Pray, Meditate. The days I begin thusly are often the most manageable of all, a fact that isn’t always persuasive to my 4 a.m. self: “Do I really want to RPM, or do I want to just stay here in bed and half-doze until the kids wake up? I mean, both of these things are good for me, right?”

Until this week, half-dozing has tended to win this morning battle within myself. Fortunately, I chose wisely this Tuesday morning, grumbling as I climbed out of bed and went to find my healing books. Continue reading “safer”

extinguished

As a longtime professional contract negotiator,

and now-adult daughter of a profoundly impoverished, stigmatized single mom

who died because she feared the costs of U.S. doctor visits,

and newfound public health student,

I’ve been thinking a lot about

the word “deaths.”

A few times daily, I check the L.A. Times for its updates on measurable local COVID-19 impacts. I then check The Guardian for its broader US coverage.

Each time I close these pages, the word “deaths” lingers with me. I’m disturbed by how passive and neutral is the phrasing compared to the reality, which is that Continue reading “extinguished”

there in love

Waiting in line at the bookstore a couple of months ago, I saw copies of Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal.

I’d checked out the audiobook from my local library before, but I’d never listened for more than two or three minutes before falling asleep. I’d later awaken to some random excerpt, think that’s lovely, and then tumble right back to sleep.

Seeing a copy of the book in print in line that day, I thought I might enjoy actually reading it—all the way through, from its beginning to its final word.

Until finishing Being Mortal last week, I’d read three or four pages at a time.

Having spent the years 2016 through 2018 plowing through a couple of non-fiction books a week, I’ve slowed down when reading those books that touch my heart. In a world currently so full of fear and condemnation, I want to touch in frequently with those things—those words, those hearts, those authors, those places—that fill me with the wonder of being deeply, achingly human. Continue reading “there in love”

Matters of my/our health

On Monday, I didn’t feel well. On Tuesday, I felt worse, and so took the day off from work.

While I wasn’t suffering from coronavirus, there was an indirect correlation with it.

Understanding the correlation helped me set myself down a different path.

In my last post, I wrote about healing the enduring psychological consequences of childhood trauma.

I did not write about the ways trauma continues to impact my physical health.

In my first post on this blog, I wrote:

My childhood home was filled with trauma. Specifically, of the ten adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) studied by the CDC and Kaiser Permanente, I experienced eight. As explained at ACES Too High, experiencing even one ACE can adversely impact a person’s lifelong health. People who experience four or more are at massively increased risks of poor health outcomes. 

I didn’t dive into detail about the “poor health outcomes.” But as Aces Too High explains, Continue reading “Matters of my/our health”

To walk through

Late last Spring, I read a paragraph that sent me tumbling into despair.

Leaning into that despair was the best thing I’ve ever done,

a fact most profoundly clear this last week.

Late one Spring afternoon, I was curled up in bed reading a book on self acceptance. I reached a chapter on trauma and excitedly dug in: Great! Here’s where the healing will really start happening!

Paragraph by paragraph as I read, I felt something unpleasant building within me, until at last I read one that released a landslide. I felt myself tumbling away from my body,
falling,
falling,
falling.

My body knew that feeling. I’d felt it time and time and time again in the face of violence I alternately witnessed and endured as poverty, abuse, and predation throughout my childhood.

I’d just never had a name for it before. Thanks to the pages before The Paragraph, though, I had a name for it. The fact it had a name meant it was real, and the fact it was both real and named meant I could not simply run from it anymore: Continue reading “To walk through”

For old time’s sake

Yesterday morning, I sat in front of my computer waiting for more bad news to appear in my Twitter feed. Some part of me felt it was critical to remain constantly informed, regardless of my inability to actually do anything with most the news I’m reading.

Out of the blue, it dawned on me: This is not healthy behavior! So I stepped away from the computer with the twin intentions to (1) do something kinder to myself now and (2) check news only intermittently and briefly throughout the day.

But what was there to do?

My eyes landed on a couple of journals on a dining room curio cabinet. Continue reading “For old time’s sake”

Resting & reading

Neither my husband nor I are feeling well. This means we’re prioritizing rest and, as much as possible, relaxation, even more emphatically than we would in less tumultuous times.

Our kids are thrilled. With both parents down, their screen time goes up!

(It’s not unlimited. They’re currently playing Star Wars together. Play and movement are also essential to health!)

For me, downtime means one thing: reading!

Unfortunately, with too many excellent books on hand, I’m not sure where to really dig in. Contenders are: Continue reading “Resting & reading”