It’s difficult to stop when you’ve never stopped, hard to slow the thinking down in a brain that jumps ahead, weaving in the traffic of collective thoughts in any room; finding the way over and under the subtext of a shrugged shoulder, an inflection in a voice that blames and then denies equally, the sore toothed words complete before they are taken back. The target already hit, the beginning of the holding of conflict is also the middle and end, once held the grip seems relentless. There is no thrown word that can be taken back, I caught them well before you reared your hand.

If I let them go, I wonder if those words would fall at the end of the cord they are tethered to, lying in a pattern on a wooden floor showing where the tossed phrase went out of bounds, the point scored, a quiet technical foul. Would I step over them, the doors clicking behind me on the noise of the game ringing in ears so tired of hands held over them.

I’d like to think I would. I have spent years outside other peoples gathered houses, standing in the cul-de-sac to best see the moving between rooms, the leaving, the coming back; turning in those circular drives to get a clearer view. Now, when the days are getting a few minutes longer, the light is melting to show a wintered road to my own yellow lit window.

It’s hard to stop when I’m just trying to do other things, instead of fewer things, saying different words instead of fewer sentences, watching different fevered screens instead of the off white paper of a book I own or borrow. The trick it seems is not to find varied ways to cope, but live with less need to recover.

Creating a life from the morning forward holds unfamiliar choices that do not need a reason. It’s enough to just be doing it differently. When you have lived so far away from yourself, this is a radical relocation. To not live in the middle of so many someone else’s neighborhoods, but to live a day that begins and ends in your own small lovely home.


There are times, slow in motion, soundless, no memory of time passing, where a change can happen from one clock tick to the next. A truth, forever before hidden, steps forward, gaily dressed and obvious. The slow trudge of sameness over in the pause of clicking on a small square on a small screen; this one, on this day, a documentary called ‘Sensitive: The Untold Story’.

I watched for a few minutes, enough to recognize, enough to stand my mind still. Highly Sensitive Person, how did I not know this? In every book and corner cobbled search I had never stumbled across evidence of the possibility I wasn’t abnormal, wrong. I have lived a many cautioned life of being too much, too deep; pushing through peopled weeks, followed by days of blanket silenced retreat, the television a minefield of grim news and startling scenes. Never have I not been fixing this, trying to fly more middle, staying longer when my eyes burned with escape, holding my hands in fists against noise and need, equally forcing myself toward normal and regretting that I wasn’t. I have flown into the dark then landed in light, always searching for higher air. I needed to be better, to heal the places I endlessly didn’t fit.

And then this; this was a trait, not a disorder, a way of a brain built in a different way, not a wrong one. For days my stories unraveled behind me in a retrospect of understanding, the Jenga puzzle putting itself back together. I could see so clearly how I had coped by moving faster, the skipped stone forward keeping me from dropping into the dive of another compulsive trying, the concerns of the people who loved me, that I made my life so hard, so unrelenting. My agreement kept my wings ever open, proving I could learn to lean away from the overwhelm of these days, showing I was lighter than what weighed me.

The truth is I live a life I have to recover from, all the time. To try to be normal is to feel splayed, lit too brightly, noticed. I would love to love what I love. To live unjarred, unrattled — to leave a room and find the calm in a quieter one. To recreate the stark magic of my younger solitary years in the middle of these noisy ones.

It is a revelation to be understood, to find out that under all these flighted days there is a shared road to land, with souled friends and sister selves, a found recognition and relief. To know there is an open door, a not so hidden world that I was born to; gloriously soundless and built to be free.


I hold medicine in my hand, but I don’t want to take it. Read about better living, habits, and ways but don’t do it. I buy products and don’t use them, the promise of them working more valuable than trying it to see if they do. The next step remains hopeful by not taking it, my mind powerful in its endless delayed gratification.

In our orchard we laid to rest our loved and lost pets, and last night, bringing compost to the garden, I didn’t walk around that place. For the first time, I walked over the leaves and snow toward the garden where these scraps I collected from daily living will turn in their bin and make new soil, rich and airy and filled with the seeds of new summer living. This place I have walked around, paused by, looked away from, has become the ground now, part of the home I live. Not all things in life are living, some of the most beautiful things are part of the soil of what has been lost. Already lived, still in your life things; the time comes where walking around them stops, the detours drop away as they become part of the gravity that holds you on the path to endless new life.

I dreamed last night I was boarding a plane, my bag packed, haphazardly, unsure if I had everything I backed away from the line to enter and ran back the way I had come, emptying my bag of all things, seeing what I was taking with me. I noticed I had no make up, no need to blur or blend who I was where I was going, yet I had many red lipsticks. I took one, left the rest in a wide hallway, and ran forward to get on this small plane going somewhere.

I don’t need to be many selves where I am going, I just need to honor all of them. To not walk around who I have been, mourning the loss of those many hers that have brought me here. They are part of the new life being seeded right now, always right now.

There is no cure because there is no feeling better, there is simply feeling. Not living doesn’t keep the hope alive that it will get better, it keeps me mourning the things that have already lived. I am going somewhere, but it is not better, the compost of who I have been forever seeding this ever new summered life.


I had a dream last year, during the time we were losing our soft and loyal black lab, Max, the end of his days a braced denial of what was coming, all of us willing him to stay. I dreamed I was on a high cliff, scary and sheer heights ahead of me, I took a few steps forward and saw Max, sitting on a small ledge looking out over a beach. Walking toward him I could see the cliff wasn’t high at all, it was grassy and sloped, the surf below alive with people and braving birds. I woke up and knew he had already decided, he was going.

That’s where I am. I am already going, on a slope that I fear is a drop off, looking toward the waters edge, my waters edge. Last night, twisting in the unknown of it, I thought of that dream, and him. He beckons me there, this soft and loyal dog, to live forward toward the light and sun of what’s coming, not in the regrets and loss of what has brought me here.

I don’t know how to go forward Max, but I trust that dream of you, looking steadfast and sure, knowing what was coming was meant for you. Leaving when you wanted to, needed to, throwing love back over your shoulder like sand kicking up under your newly young paws.

I am between learning and having learned, a suspension between the two tiring shores of water worn stones and sharp new rocks catching my feet, the beach ahead of me alive with wildness.

I have believed that wild was frightening, the untethered truth of who I am a dark and cavernous unknown. I’m changing my mind about that; it seems the thrashing part of me is the most domesticated, the strictness a noose of perfection that tightens in the twisted trying out of it. The wildness in me is calm, easy, a quiet seat both back and in. I’ve mixed them up in my beliefs, the avoided wilderness the home of true silent bravery.

It’s time to make my way to the wild waters edge, knowing what is coming is meant for me, and knowing the resistance of it is part of the unrested exhaustion that keeps me afraid of these heights. Max, my softly beloved dog, I’ll meet you there.


I’m fine, I say, so good, no complaints—smiling, leaning forward, laughing back. Yes, for sure, I agree, how are you? me too—making sure the light is on, the vision blurred, the veil adjusted. Under it all I am unwell.

You don’t seem yourself, I hear, and I’m caught—do you feel okay? No, but I can’t explain it, I don’t have the words, I don’t know how to say please stop watching, in a nice way. I’m under lights that don’t dim, don’t shut off when the motion stops, only lose their glare when I shut my door, home inside my own spaces, the gravity here different, thicker somehow.

I have underestimated what a life of efforting has done, the bones of me losing their density, my reflexes slowing, the shape shifting not working the way it did. I had younger senses once that used to leap me forward, tensed, ready, now slowed and water warped.

I have spent a lifetime believing in better days earned by hard ones, that life rewards when it has taken payment. I tunneled deeper, lasted longer, and tried endlessly, knowing what didn’t work today would be recognized tomorrow, the stunned recovery gifted with wisdom, esteem. I have always known it to be true, but it’s not working.

Being unwell and saying I’m fine is the longest lasting lie, the endless circle of crops left in fields too dry to harvest. It is walking behind the plough believing the rain would come because I danced for it yesterday, and the day before. It’s not coming, and the sharp relief of this knowing is a cloud breaking revelation. I’m not fine.

I have shown up in predictable ways, in familiar skins for so long, that is true, and I understand I am not the self you recognize, the one you know how to navigate. The being of her is becoming the ending of me, the effort to stand her up straight is unsustainable, a thin ringing hum that slouches who I am, dusted but there.

And maybe, just for today, it is enough that she’s okay.


Part of finding the way back, to the place we left that girl, is to remember. To see her, to recognize her in the listed doings of every exhausted day; and when you find her, to stop, wait and listen. There are tales to tell of when she lost the way to who she dreamed she would be, and visions forward to becoming her after all.

During the beginnings of the COVID-19 lockdown, my sister introduced me to an Instagram account I began to follow with her. A Canadian beauty, filming short videos of outfits, makeup and all around lovely living; it transfixed me, and it connected us, my sister and I. We shopped our closets and online, went when we were able to stores, outlets and malls and found remnants of the outfits we saw. We started to use her name as a verb; I’m going to ‘Liv Judd’ this.

I started to remember what it felt like to dress for fun, in what I loved, what felt the best, no matter where I lived or worked. When I was young enough to not critique, I used to love anything novel, quirky, strong. When I was a young fitness instructor, in the early 80’s, someone at the benign gym where I worked asked me what I would change about myself. ‘Nothing’ I replied, honestly not considering what I would shift in the gravity a handful of years of living had given me. ‘Not even your thighs?’ replied innocently enough. Where there was a no, was now a maybe, a wondering, a glimpse into the delusion of my accepted form. How insidiously this became a maybe so. There are many ways to change and hide and shrink away from what you loved when you were young enough to not be asked about your thighs.

Stopping at a small high mountain town a few years ago I held the door for a woman who must have been my age at the time, maybe a little younger. She wore weekend clothes and red lipstick and her natural beauty stunned me out of social shyness and as she passed into the store the words I sent, ‘you are so beautiful’, followed her in.

I went back to the car and waited in the passenger seat for the rest of my small tangled crew to return, she came out of the store, smiling widely, talking to her friend, jubilant. She caught my eye and held it, paused, and mouthed the words ‘thank-you’. She stays in my mind just that way, standing there, her hand over her heart, beautiful and happy and for a moment, we were both seen. I think of it sometimes, the shared connection of two women, who will never see each other again, who saw each other so clearly in that moment, beautiful.

Decorating myself again feels jubilant and true; a way back from the girl who learned to hide from perceptions, into a woman who stands in imperfections. And in this moment we are both seen. Both beautiful.