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Unrest - A Groundbreaking Film that Makes the Invisible Visible
HuffPost | January 18 2018 

This week has been the week of Unrest. As part of the Independent Lens series PBS broadcast the film last Monday, January 8th, and made it available for streaming all week. You can still watch it until tonight for free here. To find how to watch it after the January 15th, click here. But the best news is that Netflix picked up the film and so you can now stream Unrest there! I strongly encourage you to watch the film, as no review or summary can match the experience and emotion of seeing the film for yourself. 

Unrest shows what life is like living with chronic fatigue and depicts that existence so well and so powerfully. Jennifer Brea’s brilliant film encapsulates so much.


How to Deal With the Dilemma of New Year’s If You’re Chronically Ill
HuffPost | January 1 2018 

At the end of the year, we assess the past and look forward to the future. We make plans, set resolutions, outline intentions and dream of goals. We buy fresh notebooks with blank pages and imagine what may be written on them. Our calendars stretch before us with blank days to be filled with exciting and new adventures.

Except if you live with a chronic illness. Then, this time of year brings a painful reckoning, just as milestone birthdays do. When you’re sick for years, you look back and survey the wreckage and see all that your illness annihilated. For me – that’s been my career, financial security, motherhood, my thin body, freedom, self-agency and self-reliance, private health insurance, marriage and nights and nights and nights and nights of sleep.

 istockphoto

istockphoto


 Photo: Maa Hoo

Photo: Maa Hoo

6 Self-Care Rituals For Syncing With Vata Energy
MINDBODYGREEN | November 26 2017 

"Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall," wrote F. Scott Fitzgerald in The Great Gatsby. The crisp air also brings the beginning of the season of vata, in ayurvedic medicine. Vata is the energy of movement and air that brings qualities of light, air, cold, hardness, and brittleness that can affect both our bodies and our minds. Life may start all over again in the fall, but the fall also brings special challenges.

By adopting rituals that ground, warm, nourish, and calm us, we can balance the perils of the season. According to the ancient texts, difficulties can include digestive problems, sleeping disruptions, dry or irritated skin, low appetite, muscles and joint pain, as well as challenges with focus and feelings of anxiety and fear.


Happy New Year! Yes, November 1st
HUFFPOST | November 1 2017

The beginning of this month marks a new season in the Celtic calendar. We are now in Samhain, which literally means “summer’s end.” The other Celtic seasons are Imbolc, beginning February 1st; Beltane, beginning May 1st; and Lughnasadh, beginning August 1st.

The transitions into these times of the year are known as thin times as are the equinoxes and solstices. In the Celtic calendar, November 1st is a very special day. The first of November not only marks the beginning of the Celtic new year, that day (and the night preceding – Halloween) is considered the thinnest time of the all the thin times in the entire year.

 Photo: Anna Jahn 

Photo: Anna Jahn 


 Photo: Public Domain "Preparation for the Class" (1877) 

Photo: Public Domain "Preparation for the Class" (1877) 

Degas & Disability - Lessons from His Life for Yours
HuffPost | September 27 2017

Last week I attended a very excellent centenary tribute to Edgar Degas at the National Gallery of Art. The program was free, and I felt strong enough to head over. A former ballet dancer myself, Degas has long been my favorite impressionist painter because of his numerous paintings of ballerinas. And his most famous sculpture is right here in DC – The Little Dancer Aged Fourteen. Whenever I’m at the National Gallery, I’ll stop by to see her on the lower floor sculpture galleries.

To my surprise, I learned that Degas had a serious disability. Maybe I knew of this in college and forgot; his disability certainly had new resonance for me now as I’ve struggled with disability for seventeen years. He had retinal disease, probably macular degeneration, for nearly half his life. His eyesight was so poor than when he died, his friend and fellow painter Pierre Auguste Renoir said, “It is fortunate for him … any conceivable death is better than living the way he was.”


If You’re Chronically Ill Yoga is the Best Medicine. Here’s Why.
HuffPOST | June 21 2017

Today on International Yoga Day, you’ll see a lot of discussion on the benefits of a regular yoga practice. But those who would likely benefit the most probably conclude that yoga isn’t for them. Many of the popular images of beautiful celebrities as well as athletic and fit people deter those who do feel they are not in shape enough to try.

But just because you don’t have a yoga butt and will never do an arm balance in your life does not mean you can not benefit from yoga. Even the idea of walking into a class may be intimidating. However, if you are sick and live with a chronic illness, you are missing out on one of the most effective tools to improve your wellbeing.

I was lucky. I was already doing yoga when my body betrayed me.

 Photo: Isabelle Carbonell

Photo: Isabelle Carbonell


 Photo: Juan Ramos 

Photo: Juan Ramos 

10 Things I’ve Learned Since Chronic Illness Entered My Life At 33
HuffPost | June 20 2017

If I had known on the day I graduated from Vassar that I would have less than 12 years before I got sick with a debilitating illness, I would have made other choices. I had no idea I would spend nearly 2 decades of my life in bed sick with fatigue, weakness and pain - living a very constrained life and perforce a much different reality.

Over those 12 years, I got forced out of one job and fired from another, went to law school and got my first F, waited on lots of tables (at times with Paul Ryan), studied in Italy, bought my first apartment and then my first house, and eventually secured my dream job at PBS. Then, I started studying part-time for my masters in creative writing basically because I was a super over-achiever and bored in the evening. And then there were the love affairs that I barely made time for because I was so focused on my career. I didn’t pursue the most serious one because he didn’t seem to be interested unless I uprooted my life and relocated to the mid-West. I loved my life too much and him too little for that.

In the midst of that at the prime of my life, I got sick.