A Thin Line

"I'm sorry," he said.

"Don't be sorry. Just be better." And she meant it.


Empathy is an amazingly beautiful thing. It allows us to step outside of ourselves and place ourselves in someone else's situation. It can be hard. It is usually painful. But empathy connects and allows for incredible vulnerability. Unpresidented connections can be built from these moments. 

But what happens when empathy becomes about us? Seeking, craving, and grabbing for empathy for empathy's sake? Or worse, for our own self validation? 

The reality is that there is an invisible line between empathy and ego.

And the line, so hard to see, can be traversed without even noticing. And then it is not longer beautiful. It is just a shameless exploitation of others. Empathy is never for us. But if you find yourself seeking it out for your own gains, it might be time to be better.


Winter to Spring

“Is this crazy?” she asked.

“Of course it is,” she replied, “that’s what makes it life.” 


It’s been a little over three years since my marriage ended. I’m 32 years old and it feels impossible to know that I could have been married and divorced already in this lifetime. It feels impossible to know that I can live a completely different life. It feels impossible to even predict how life will change and unfold and hurt and be glorious in the future. Everything, most of the time, feels impossible and, yet, worth doing. 

The winter is never easy for me. Next week is daylight savings and I am practically marking the days off on the calendar in anticipation. Longer days. More light. Spring and growth and green and sun and, PLEASE WINTER PACK YOUR BAGS I AM READY TO BE DONE. I’ve already started to wake up on my own in the morning as the sunlight arrives as a natural alarm clock. It feels like hope.

Over the past three years I’ve learn a lot about myself. Most of it has scared the shit out of me. A lot of what I learned was undesirable. Yet, in some crazy way it has brought me closer to an amazing respect I am able to have towards who I am. In a lot of ways, the last year have been like a long winter. Some sun but mostly gray. It’s hard to move through a life knowing you got some shit to work out and being scared as hell to face it. It’s hard to live with regrets and guilt (oh, guilt? Seriously, fuck you). And it’s even harder to step up the plate when you know the work you have to do involves crawling deep inside yourself. Into the winter of your soul. 

But it feels like spring is near. 

Pockets of Joy

“I find you to be intriguing,” he said, with a smile. 

“I don’t consider that to be a compliment,” she lied.  


Life is full of small, short, moments. The kind so fleeting you may not even remember them as time passes. Moments that feel like a pin prick. Sharp. Shocking. All consuming. Then, gone. In a world full of all sorts of ways to representment ourselves, I think the small moments are most telling of who we are. 

In July, I took a seemingly innocent trip to a second hand store to search for a mantle for my new house. My home has an incredibly majestic wall, and I despartly wanted to install a mantle. While rounding a corner, I came upon a fleet of pianos. Aisles and aisles of pianos. Right in the middle, a broken, red piano cried out to me. I loved it. I lamented my love for this piano. In a small moment, I said, “I want this piano.” In the next small moment, he said, “We can make that happen.” 

The piano now lives in my home, thanks to a now stranger but once lover. Our moments ended but that piano lives here with me (seemingly forever because this beauty is heavy af).  

It is a fascinating thing to learn something completely new as an adult. To have to be taught like a toddler, having no sense of how something works or how to teach yourself to be better. This piano, each week, is teaching me about humility, patience, exhaustion, presence, and joy.  

In many way, this piano serves as a metaphor for my adult life. The reckless love, the regret once realizing how broken it was, the sense of fear I’ve felt in trying to learn and understand it, and the awe I am in when I watch its ability to produce happiness in others. 

Being an adult, for me, is about recognizing the joy that exists. Not being so greedy that I want more. Not being so scared they aren’t big enough. Not being sad they aren’t more. And not being selfish enough to sabotage them. Just sinking into to those small moments and being thankful they exist. Being an adult is about making sure my expectations of myself are right-sized, not overshadowing or washing-out the small, tiny, pockets of joy. 

Hand on My Heart

"Do you even know what you want?" he questioned.

"I just want to be seen," she whispered.


Seventeen presidents. My grandmother lived through seventeen presidents. Two world wars. Pearl Harbor Day. JFK's assassination. 9/11. Basically every major historical event that happened in the 20th century she remembered. She could tell you were she was, what she was doing, what she felt hearing the news of each event. Incredible, isn't it?

I've spent my adult life far away from this women, but always making a trip out west to spend time with her. When I visited her over the last few years, taking the trip to Vegas to see her, I made a point to ask her to tell me stories of her marriage. Asking her about her childhood. Trying to hold on tightly to the untold stories that lived inside her, knowing she wouldn't be telling me stories of her life forever. I desperately wanted to know the stories she had never told me. I wanted to see all sides of her.

I had so many questions: How did it feel to fall in love with my grandfather? What did she do when he died? What was it like to deliver babies for a living? To be a working mother in the 1950's?  What did she regret? How did she stay so amazingly true to herself? What was the saddest moment of her life?

When I got the call she passed away last week, I didn't cry. I've imagined getting this call, and it always played out with sudden and uncontrollable crying. I am not sure why. I don't really cry often. I have also not experienced grief of this sort as an adult. When the words were softly spoken that she had passed, it just felt like a hand had grabbed my heart, squeezing it. Hard. It hurt, deep in my chest. 

I started to think about all the stories she has shared with me over the years. It instantly felt hard to remember the details. And now I can't ask her to tell them again. Fuck.

The hand gripped tighter. 

Grief has come differently than I imagined it would. It isn't fits of tears. It isn't a visible sadness. It is heaviness. And exhaustion. It is a heart that is bruised from a grip too tight. It is a lot of not knowing how it will feel to not hear these stories, watch her smile, or be in awe of her in real time. It is a lot of wishing she was still here. It is waves of breathlessness when I realize she is gone. It is a lot of begging that hand to loosen, please, just a little. 

It is so much unseen.

Maybe that is just grief in this situation, for this passed woman, for me. Perhaps a larger reflection on how much of what I experience is unseen, by choice and on purpose, is needed. How much I wish to be seen more than I let on, or more than I allow. Somehow I'm not surprised that even in her passing my grandmother is disrupting my own image of myself. I just wish I would ask her some questions about it.

Hopelessly Human

"I just can't pour from an empty cup," he told her.

"But if you let me," she said, "I will hold the cup while you fill it."


I came home from work last week and couldn't find my cat anywhere. Unusual, considering he is always waiting for me at the window or by the door as my car parks, I didn't think anything of it. Figuring he was lounging around my house or investigating a new house guest that had just checked in, I went about unwinding from my day. But I was scared he was gone. My eyes welled up and I was crushed with the imaginary thought of losing him.

As I went to pour a glass of wine and planned to finish reading the last few pages of a book, I turned around and noticed a small black cat at the back of my legs. I breathed a sigh of relief, maybe the first all month, and took a sip of wine. 

October is a hard month. A month where loss seems so close. In all honesty, as I look back, October has always brought a flood of emotions that have neither been welcomed or expected. The cold comes. It gets dark and warmth fades. The drop into fall often leaves my bones tired. This October seems to be no exception. And like Octobers of the past, I entered the month seemingly unaware that heartache was waiting.

Almost exactly a year ago I took a trip to Puerto Rico. I had been desperately struggling with my health and falling deeper into a cycle of constant busy-ness that did not allow rest or healing. Four days before the election I boarded a plane and soaked in the humid salt air, ran along the blue-brick streets in the rain, and swam in the cool autumn waves. I arrived home just in time to be devastated by the results of the election. I think many will agree that we haven't quiet been the same since that night.

One year later, I sit on the first dark night of daylight savings, wondering where a lot of the light has gone. Of course, there is much joyful light that has beamed in over the last year, but the crushing weight of sorrow has felt like the the pages of calendar are heavier than they have been in the past. And this October, especially the last few weeks, are ones I would not choose to relive. My cup has been incredibly empty, and I've been working real hard to get to know the bottom of that cup without judgement or hate. But it's been hard.

Sometimes I think that we fill our cups with stuff that just isn't right. But fullness, even not-right fullness, is less frightening than discovering what lives at the very bottom. It is less scary than that moment when you pick up the cup, thinking it is full, and have the disorienting realization that the cup is weightless with what one can only feel in the presence of absence. 

And that is when I crumble with the realization that I am hopelessly human.