The gift of strife

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the elements of classic literature. It’s not because I’ve finally undertaken The Illiad or spent the last few weekends binge-watching period pieces.

I’ve been reflecting, as one does when another year approaches, about where I am in my life, and how far I’ve come to get here. As I step off what feels like a precipice, hold my breath, and hope there’s water below, I’m reminded of how all great journeys start.

Quick refresher (because you know you Cliff Notes-ed your way through Mr. Hopkins’ freshman year English class). The monomyth (or “hero’s journey”) is the classic story structure you see in everything from Shakespeare to Star Wars, in which the main character goes on an adventure, rife with challenges along the way which they ultimately overcome, and subsequently return home, transformed.

There are three acts, each with several stages within them. I’m not going to go through all 12 stages. But I’ve highlighted my favorites (and I think the most important) in each act.

I. Departure

  • The call to adventure (so it begins)
  • Belly of the whale (death of known world/self to necessitate a rebirth)

II. Initiation

  • The road of trials (struggles; must undergo to begin the transformation)
  • Apotheosis (climax; a new consciousness is achieved)

III. Return

  • Master of two worlds (transcendence; successfully balancing the inner and outer worlds)
  • Freedom to live (presently; without fear of future or regret of past)

Conflict is a literary device used to drive the story forward. It’s the challenge the main character faces and needs to overcome in order to achieve their goals. There are two categories of conflict: internal and external. And there are three main sources of conflict within those categories:

  • man vs. man (external)
  • man vs. environment (external)
  • man vs. self (internal)

You could argue for man vs. machine and man vs. society, but in my mind those still fall under man vs. environment (because machines are within the “made” environment) and man vs. man (because society is people). I’m not going to fight you on this… though if I did, that would definitely fall under man vs. man (*Ahem* or human vs. human).

We have all completed some part of this arc. Some of us are stuck in the rising action and awaiting what’s to come; some are still battling themselves or out slaying dragons; some are trying to figure out how to retain the wisdom gained on the quest and integrate it into their everyday life.

I’m not sure where I am currently, but I have a sinking suspicion that you don’t get just one. Life is a continuous hero’s journey. You will continue to be challenged, and undoubtedly you will fail some of the tests. What you encounter along the way will delight you, and it will cause you great pain and make you afraid. It will force you to stretch and grow in new and uncomfortable ways.

Birth is never an easy process.

Be brave. Have the courage to persist. And I promise that slowly, heroically, you will understand more fully how to live. It is written.


Last thoughts on 34

In a few weeks I turn another year older. Some people celebrate the passing of time with fireworks — going out in a boozy blaze that makes you wish the next day that you were never born.

Some choose to go inward and reflect on the year passed.

Some say fuck it and play hooky with their bestie, reveling in the rebellion (and good food and nice wine and whatever beautiful place you decide to explore).

Some say fuck it and go about their day like any other.

I’ve celebrated in all these ways over the years, except for the last approach. It has always saddened me when people don’t do something special with their day. But now that I’m approaching 35, I get it.

This year, I’ve received several rounds of early birthday gifts from people who won’t see me on my birthday (mom, dad, boyfriend, aunts). I’m not complaining. Any day you get to open an unexpected present is a good day. But it does de-emphasize the main event to a nonevent.

I think I’ve finally reached that age when you start trying to forget how old you’re turning. Going out of your way to celebrate it only drives the stake in a bit farther.

Another thing that changes as you get older: Everything becomes way more deliberate. You start “gifting” yourself practical things like freezing your eggs or designating more funds to your retirement plan.

And you hold off on things like those expensive noise-canceling headphones that seem too indulgent for an everyday purchase, so you wait for a special occasion so as not to ignite a flair of Catholic guilt for buying something you need — God forbid — when you need it.

My Dad literally buys himself stuff that he needs or wants and gives it to us to give to him for his birthday, Christmas, or Father’s Day. I still don’t know if that’s just an overly practical German thing, or if it’s because he’s past the age where being a bit frivolous is acceptable and not considered selfish.

But perhaps the best gift I’ve thought of giving myself this year is to abstain from Instagram.

I was a late adapter of Facebook, and it didn’t take me long to close my account for good, just a year or two in. I was constantly flooded with images and opinions that either made me feel “behind” (hubby, house, kids — and in that order) or completely disconnected from the people I thought I knew.

I didn’t like it, but like crap TV, it sucked me in and I’d find myself scrolling with a zombie gaze anytime I had a spare moment.

Instagram was my social platform of choice because it seemed to evoke more artfulness and less of the “look at me!” mundanity. But I’ve found myself posting less and less lately, and I recently realized I no longer enjoy it. I still love taking photos, but somehow the whole sharing/liking/following thing really taints it.

It’s become exhausting.

So during the days preceding a fresh start in the form of a birth-aversary, I am meditating on the (always) wise words my beloved Bob Dylan once wrote to commemorate his dying idol, Woody Guthrie.

I printed this in my high school year book, and I still turn to it during times of self-doubt or disillusionment with the world, or any time I need a reminder to come back to what’s important.

I’ll be signing off for at least the month of October. I hope to do more writing and less scrolling, so check back here every now and then. And I hope to connect with you outside of the pocket-sized TV that we have all become conditioned to perform within.

Last Thoughts On Woody Guthrie

When yer head gets twisted and yer mind grows numb
When you think you’re too old, too young, too smart or too dumb
When yer laggin’ behind an’ losin’ yer pace
In a slow-motion crawl of life’s busy race
No matter what yer doing if you start givin’ up
If the wine don’t come to the top of yer cup
If the wind’s got you sideways with with one hand holdin’ on
And the other starts slipping and the feeling is gone
And yer train engine fire needs a new spark to catch it
And the wood’s easy findin’ but yer lazy to fetch it
And yer sidewalk starts curlin’ and the street gets too long
And you start walkin’ backwards though you know its wrong
And lonesome comes up as down goes the day
And tomorrow’s mornin’ seems so far away
And you feel the reins from yer pony are slippin’
And yer rope is a-slidin’ ’cause yer hands are a-drippin’
And yer sun-decked desert and evergreen valleys
Turn to broken down slums and trash-can alleys
And yer sky cries water and yer drain pipe’s a-pourin’
And the lightnin’s a-flashing and the thunder’s a-crashin’
And the windows are rattlin’ and breakin’ and the roof tops a-shakin’
And yer whole world’s a-slammin’ and bangin’
And yer minutes of sun turn to hours of storm
And to yourself you sometimes say
“I never knew it was gonna be this way
Why didn’t they tell me the day I was born”
And you start gettin’ chills and yer jumping from sweat
And you’re lookin’ for somethin’ you ain’t quite found yet
And yer knee-deep in the dark water with yer hands in the air
And the whole world’s a-watchin’ with a window peek stare
And yer good gal leaves and she’s long gone a-flying
And yer heart feels sick like fish when they’re fryin’
And yer jackhammer falls from yer hand to yer feet
And you need it badly but it lays on the street
And yer bell’s bangin’ loudly but you can’t hear its beat
And you think yer ears might a been hurt
Or yer eyes’ve turned filthy from the sight-blindin’ dirt
And you figured you failed in yesterdays rush
When you were faked out an’ fooled white facing a four flush
And all the time you were holdin’ three queens
And it’s makin you mad, it’s makin’ you mean
Like in the middle of Life magazine
Bouncin’ around a pinball machine
And there’s something on yer mind you wanna be saying
That somebody someplace oughta be hearin’
But it’s trapped on yer tongue and sealed in yer head
And it bothers you badly when your layin’ in bed
And no matter how you try you just can’t say it
And yer scared to yer soul you just might forget it
And yer eyes get swimmy from the tears in yer head
And yer pillows of feathers turn to blankets of lead
And the lion’s mouth opens and yer staring at his teeth
And his jaws start closin with you underneath
And yer flat on your belly with yer hands tied behind
And you wish you’d never taken that last detour sign
And you say to yourself just what am I doin’
On this road I’m walkin’, on this trail I’m turnin’
On this curve I’m hanging
On this pathway I’m strolling, in the space I’m taking
In this air I’m inhaling
Am I mixed up too much, am I mixed up too hard
Why am I walking, where am I running
What am I saying, what am I knowing
On this guitar I’m playing, on this banjo I’m frailin’
On this mandolin I’m strummin’, in the song I’m singin’
In the tune I’m hummin’, in the words I’m writin’
In the words that I’m thinkin’
In this ocean of hours I’m all the time drinkin’
Who am I helping, what am I breaking
What am I giving, what am I taking
But you try with your whole soul best
Never to think these thoughts and never to let
Them kind of thoughts gain ground
Or make yer heart pound
But then again you know why they’re around
Just waiting for a chance to slip and drop down
“Cause sometimes you hear ’em when the night times comes creeping
And you fear that they might catch you a-sleeping
And you jump from yer bed, from yer last chapter of dreamin’
And you can’t remember for the best of yer thinking
If that was you in the dream that was screaming
And you know that it’s something special you’re needin’
And you know that there’s no drug that’ll do for the healin’
And no liquor in the land to stop yer brain from bleeding
And you need something special
Yeah, you need something special all right
You need a fast flyin’ train on a tornado track
To shoot you someplace and shoot you back
You need a cyclone wind on a stream engine howler
That’s been banging and booming and blowing forever
That knows yer troubles a hundred times over
You need a Greyhound bus that don’t bar no race
That won’t laugh at yer looks
Your voice or your face
And by any number of bets in the book
Will be rollin’ long after the bubblegum craze
You need something to open up a new door
To show you something you seen before
But overlooked a hundred times or more
You need something to open your eyes
You need something to make it known
That it’s you and no one else that owns
That spot that yer standing, that space that you’re sitting
That the world ain’t got you beat
That it ain’t got you licked
It can’t get you crazy no matter how many
Times you might get kicked
You need something special all right
You need something special to give you hope
But hope’s just a word
That maybe you said or maybe you heard
On some windy corner ’round a wide-angled curve

But that’s what you need man, and you need it bad
And yer trouble is you know it too good
‘Cause you look an’ you start getting the chills

‘Cause you can’t find it on a dollar bill
And it ain’t on Macy’s window sill
And it ain’t on no rich kid’s road map
And it ain’t in no fat kid’s fraternity house
And it ain’t made in no Hollywood wheat germ
And it ain’t on that dimlit stage
With that half-wit comedian on it
Ranting and raving and taking yer money
And you thinks it’s funny
No you can’t find it in no night club or no yacht club
And it ain’t in the seats of a supper club
And sure as hell you’re bound to tell
That no matter how hard you rub
You just ain’t a-gonna find it on yer ticket stub
No, and it ain’t in the rumors people’re tellin’ you
And it ain’t in the pimple-lotion people are sellin’ you
And it ain’t in no cardboard-box house
Or down any movie star’s blouse
And you can’t find it on the golf course
And Uncle Remus can’t tell you and neither can Santa Claus
And it ain’t in the cream puff hair-do or cotton candy clothes
And it ain’t in the dime store dummies or bubblegum goons
And it ain’t in the marshmallow noises of the chocolate cake voices
That come knockin’ and tappin’ in Christmas wrappin’
Sayin’ ain’t I pretty and ain’t I cute and look at my skin
Look at my skin shine, look at my skin glow
Look at my skin laugh, look at my skin cry
When you can’t even sense if they got any insides
These people so pretty in their ribbons and bows
No you’ll not now or no other day
Find it on the doorsteps made out-a paper mache
And inside it the people made of molasses
That every other day buy a new pair of sunglasses
And it ain’t in the fifty-star generals and flipped-out phonies
Who’d turn yuh in for a tenth of a penny
Who breathe and burp and bend and crack
And before you can count from one to ten
Do it all over again but this time behind yer back
My friend
The ones that wheel and deal and whirl and twirl
And play games with each other in their sand-box world
And you can’t find it either in the no-talent fools
That run around gallant
And make all rules for the ones that got talent
And it ain’t in the ones that ain’t got any talent but think they do
And think they’re foolin’ you
The ones who jump on the wagon
Just for a while ’cause they know it’s in style
To get their kicks, get out of it quick
And make all kinds of money and chicks
And you yell to yourself and you throw down yer hat
Sayin’, “Christ do I gotta be like that
Ain’t there no one here that knows where I’m at
Ain’t there no one here that knows how I feel
Good God Almighty

No but that ain’t yer game, it ain’t even yer race
You can’t hear yer name, you can’t see yer face
You gotta look some other place
And where do you look for this hope that yer seekin’
Where do you look for this lamp that’s a-burnin’
Where do you look for this oil well gushin’
Where do you look for this candle that’s glowin’
Where do you look for this hope that you know is there
And out there somewhere
And your feet can only walk down two kinds of roads
Your eyes can only look through two kinds of windows
Your nose can only smell two kinds of hallways
You can touch and twist
And turn two kinds of doorknobs
You can either go to the church of your choice
Or you can go to Brooklyn State Hospital
You’ll find God in the church of your choice
You’ll find Woody Guthrie in Brooklyn State Hospital

And though it’s only my opinion
I may be right or wrong
You’ll find them both
In the Grand Canyon
At sundown


I took the month of December off, to get away from the daily grind and recoup from a particularly daunting year. I’m lucky to work for a company that’s as loyal to me as I’ve been to them. In fact, it wasn’t my idea or really even my choice. My boss sensed my burnout and insisted until I agreed. (You can say I have an overwhelming sense of responsibility that sometimes blinds me to my own basic needs.)

Friends and co-workers were enthusiastic and supportive (and only a skosh jealous). They commented on the length of time I was taking off, the variety of destinations I had planned, and always threw in that it was well deserved. (I guess everyone in my life except me recognized I could use a break.)

After getting over the initial feeling of guilt from leaving my post for that long, I began to get excited. In spring, I’d booked a trip to Iceland over the new year, and as new opportunities arose, plans seemed to fall into place. I spent a weekend in November with two computers open, scouring travel sites for deals and figuring out timing and other logistics. (Conclusion: God bless you, Mrs. Reynolds, my friend’s mom who was a AAA travel agent for 30 years. Even with the “convenience” of sites like Kayak and, it was my idea of a very specific nightmare.)

The itinerary went like this:

  • 5 days in SF
  • 3 days in NYC
  • 2 days in Miami; 4 days in Key West
  • 8 days in Scranton, PA (home for Christmas)
  • 9 days in Reykjavik, Iceland (New Years; 5 days leisure, 4 days work)
  • 2 days in London
  • 5 days in Brighton, UK (for work)

Packing was… interesting, to say the least. When it was time to finally take off, I was wide-eyed and wildly optimistic, with that twinge of gut-wrenching excitement that accompanies all beginnings.

It didn’t take long for the East Coast to remind me why I moved away from extreme seasons. The bitter cold forced me to immediately buy a puffy Eskimo coat (the kind with the fur-lined hood), and it still felt bone-chilling.

Florida was a nice reprieve in many ways.

The first day home with my family, I got hit with a monster cold — the second one in a month. (I guess I was pretty run down after all.) The previous cold had left me with raspy lungs that hurt when I breathed deeply, so I self-diagnosed and started taking an inhaler I’d been prescribed for bronchitis earlier in the year. I’d later come to find out that corticosteroids can trigger a nasty and persistent form of dermatitis that occurs on the face… which it did for me.

I’d admired Iceland since I started following the atmospheric band Sigur Ros, which has become a favorite of mine over the years. I decided to finally make the pilgrimage to see the strangely beautiful landscape for myself when Sigur Ros announced they were putting on a 4-day festival in Reykjavik at the end of the year.

At the time, I hadn’t considered that there would be 20 hours of darkness a day. I hadn’t thought through what it would be like coming home to an empty apartment (AirBnB always seems like a good idea… ) after wandering the desolate landscape alone all day. Icelanders aren’t particularly friendly, and I realized quickly that small talk wasn’t going to cut it with them. But as a tourist with no other grounds for initiating conversation, that’s all I could muster. So I basically acted like I was on a silent retreat for a week.

I hadn’t reflected on how it would feel to be in literal isolation during a holiday that primarily exists to celebrate being with loved ones (but really, what holiday doesn’t?). And one thing they don’t tell you about about the stark beauty you see in photos of Iceland is that it feels as desolate as it looks. Most days I felt like a ghost floating around town, unsure if people could even see or hear me. (At one point I questioned my actual existence. I went home and drank a bottle of wine by myself and watched Netflix. It worked: The next morning my existence was very apparent.)

Needless to say I was happy to get back to work when it came time. Over the course of last year, my company acquired a small website located in Reykjavik, so I extended my trip and worked the back end of the trip from the office there. (PEOPLE! CONVERSATION! EXCHANGE OF HUMAN WARMTH AND KINDNESS! YAY!)

London was a whirlwind, but felt a lot more like New York than I’d remembered, which was both familiar yet disappointing.

Brighton was a delightful little seaside town, but I only got to see the few blocks between my (trailer of a) hotel and the office in daylight. I’m sure the English coast is lovely in wintertime.

In other words, the trip wasn’t exactly as I expected (but what ever is?). I got sick. I got a weird face rash that made me feel like the elephant man. I got lonely. I got scared at times. I got homesick. But I got to see some places I’d never seen and spend time with people I’d missed dearly. I got to meet new people (particularly my far-flung co-workers) and try strange foods that I’ll probably never eat again (like fermented shark, smoked whale, and puffin — I know, I know! I’m sorry!). I took a few nice photos. I saw one of my favorite bands perform an amazing show. And I did a LOT of thinking and self-reflection, even by my usual standards of non-stop thinking and self-reflection.

I thought about how old people without family must feel every day: no one to talk to, wandering around by themselves, feeling extremely isolated from society.

I thought about people who live with conditions that affect the way they look: how isolated (in a different way) they must feel, how it might affect their self-confidence and their desire to be social, the way they notice people looking at them, and how frustrating it must be that their physical appearance so inadequately reflects their true selves.

I thought about all the beautiful Instagram photos that belie the actual experience behind the image of it. How we’re made to believe that everyone is always having such an amazing time, without any hardships or moments of self-doubt or suffering.

I thought about what we are trying to achieve when we “vacate:” a departure from our environments and our routines, an escape from ourselves, or maybe all three. And in depriving myself of my normal everyday life, I found myself wanting it, even the pettiest things.

I wanted to go home. I wanted to get back to my routine. I wanted to have my alone time, (but not too much of it!). I wanted to be in my beautiful apartment that I decorated with all the things I love. I wanted to sleep in my own bed and use my own shampoo and have a closet full of clothes to choose from. I wanted to be in California in wintertime. I wanted to sleep with my window open and breathe in the intense saltiness of the ocean air all night. I wanted to see my co-workers. I wanted to work from my office again. I wanted to feel productive. I wanted to do yoga at the studio down the street from my apartment. I wanted to go shopping at the farmer’s market and cook for myself. I wanted the convenience of ordering things I need on Amazon Prime and calling a ride with the beep-boop-bop of a finger. I wanted to be in a place where I know where things are and how to get somewhere without constantly consulting a map.

It took traveling thousands of miles away for me to discover that I’m content with my life as it is, and that’s a pretty big accomplishment — one I’ve been working at for a long time. Maybe that’s the purpose of a vacation: to reset your appreciate for what is. To reintroduce you to yourself and rekindle the spark with the life you’ve set up for yourself. To wake you from the slumber that arises from monotony. To wrap you in the familiar comfort of that towel your mom would warm on the heater during bath time. To gingerly dry the pruney fingers that result from being somewhere too long. And to confirm that you’re precisely where you’re meant to be.

Growth rings

When you’re born, you’re not yet you. You’re not [insert Baby Girl/Boy Last Name here]. You hold the beginnings of a personality, a set of automatic behaviors the ego develops to protect itself. And you hold the seeds of possibility: the potential of your higher self. When you come into this world, you’re all that you are and all that you could become, in one tiny little piglet package.

You have a lifetime — length not guaranteed — to figure out who that is. And if you believe there may be some meaning behind all this, you have the same amount of time to uncover what you’re meant to do. Or, if you choose to follow Nietzsche down the path of nihilism, you have a lifetime to make something meaningful out of nothing.

Trees gain another ring on their trunks with each growth cycle, which is typically spring to end of summer. But the number of rings indicate more than the tree’s age. These demarkations, stored deep within their cores, are a record of their history as well as environmental events that affected them like drought, fire, insect plague, disease, and air pollution.

Whether you believe in past lives, collective consciousness, or even just life lessons learned in this one, who you are today is due to a layering of former selves.

When we’re young, we’re clued into our growth through bodily changes: Our teeth fall out and we get new ones. We get taller. Hair sprouts in new places, and our limbs ache as they expand.

We see a lot of the same changes as we age, though some appear in reverse. Our teeth fall out, but new ones don’t magically appear to replace them. We shrink. Hair continues to sprout in new places while it falls out in others, and our limbs just plain ache. The physical record of our experiences show up as wrinkles that develop around our eyes and mouths and tell of all the laughs, frowns, worries, and cigarettes smoked. Spots on skin reveal summers spent at the beach. Scars hold stories of childhood accidents (and some adult ones), surgeries, and past pain.

When a tree’s cells die, they don’t get sloughed off by the elements and cast to the forest floor like you might think. Instead, the tree forms new layers around the old ones. Dead cells (appropriately called heartwood) make up the largest part of a tree and form its core. They provide the tree with the structural strength it needs to support itself and keep growing.

The human growth process is painful, and most of it isn’t physical. Like trees, we store the dead cells, the lessons learned, deep within our cores. They provide structure to our character, make up our beliefs and values, influence our life choices. While we may not enjoy the process, it’s necessary. After all, cells that grow too fast turn into cancer.

I went to an intuitive reader last year. After telling me a lot of truths that I’d been ignoring because I wasn’t ready to deal with them, she said that 2018 was going to be a year of transformation for me. But isn’t every year, for all of us? And don’t the years that leave the deepest scars also seem to produce the most heartwood?

Some species of pine trees actually thrive on disaster. It’s an evolutionary adaptation called serotiny, and it allows forests to flourish despite harsh environmental conditions. The most common trigger is fire. These trees grow in areas prone to forest fires. Their cones are tightly sealed in a thick resin, and they need the heat of a flame to melt the resin. Fire allows the cones to open and release their seeds into the wind.

This year has been one hell of a fire for me. I’m still a long way from my higher self, but my core is solid and I’m open. Perhaps 2018 won’t be a year of transformation, but one of regeneration. The damage is palpable, but where there once stood a single tree, now appears the beginnings of an entire forest.

Jesus year in review

The sun didn’t rise on my birthday (the horizon was far too hazy from all the wild fires), but I did. Something about another orbit under your belt makes you take a beat to reflect, and 33 was certainly one for the books.

They call it your “Jesus Year” because that’s how old he was when he died and rose from the dead. Metaphorically, that’s the age of rebirth for many people. And 33 was exactly that for me.

I went to see an energy reader/healer shortly after my last birthday. (I know that makes it sound like I have gone full Californian, but when you grow up Catholic, you’re basically raised to believe in magic, so it’s not such a stretch.) She told me a lot of things that were helpful and made sense, but the most dead-on was that this year would be extremely hard. “In fact, it’s going to suck,” she said, and she told me that I just needed to be strong and push through it, and I’d be transformed.

Without any exaggeration, that’s exactly what happened. In March, I broke off a six-year relationship that was supposed to end in marriage. At five in the morning after yet another sleepless night of being yelled at and berated by a drunken, unprovoked angry partner (in a long chain of those types of nights), I arose from bed like a marionette on a string and calmly stated that I was going to take a shower, get dressed, and leave. And I did just that.

My body felt like it was on autopilot. My motions were mechanical: turning the knob of the shower, pulling on my clothes, even packing a bag. I grabbed things without thinking — a toothbrush, contacts, a change of clothes, my checkbook — as if a giant magnet was pulling my hands towards these things, not the other way around. It was as close to an out-of-body experience as I’ve had.

It was still dark when I left, but I instinctively walked towards the park a block away and called my mom. She picked up immediately, knowing something was wrong. It was before six in the morning on a Saturday, after all. “Rachael-what’s-the-matter-honey-are-you-all-right,” she asked in the rushed, frantic tone she uses when a baby gets too close to a staircase and she calls out that one-syllable prayer: “Jesus-Mary-and-Joseph!”

I opened my mouth to speak, but all I could do was cry. And she just knew. “Oh, not again, honey” she said. I continued to sob into the phone and when she said in a strained voice, like she was holding back tears, “Rachael, you can’t keep living like this,” that’s when I knew I was never going back and my Jesus year was just beginning.

It was hard. It was damn hard. I put a lot to rest in the months that followed. There was a lot to handle, logistically and emotionally. There was a lot I left behind, not unlike what happens when someone dies. But I handled it. With the help of countless friends, family, and co-workers, I pushed through.

The morning of March 18th, I sat in darkness on a park bench talking to my mom for two hours. I watched the sun rise over San Francisco, and I thought to myself “The sun it rises, and so will I.”

This morning of October 11th, I watched the dark purple fade to pink and orange swirls, and I couldn’t help but think back to that morning and all the mornings since. Like the sun, I have inched my way above the horizon, getting brighter, warmer, and stronger by the minute — by the day.

I am rising.

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Addendum: This is an important account that speaks to a lot of the unspoken details and feelings I could not here. Maybe in time I’ll add my own explicit account to this post, but right now I’m still learning the vocabulary required to write about my experience. In the meantime, I admire the bravery of those who have found the words to express themselves and give a voice to those still trying to find their own.