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Human Parts
A publication from Medium about humanity: yours, mine, and ours.

HUMANS 101

Practical tools and tips for everyday living

Image: Okan Caliskan/Pixabay

I was 21 when I learned to meditate. After graduating from college, I moved into an ashram to study and practice the teachings of an Indian guru, Prem Rawat.

Five years later, he invited me to be a meditation instructor. After completing a three-month training program with a dozen other young people, I went on tour for four years throughout North America, Europe, Africa, and Australia, speaking at nightly meetings and helping people from all walks of life learn how to meditate.

After 49 years of practicing meditation as well as teaching, counseling, and observing others, I want to share…


Lived Through This

16 years ago, my entire life changed in an instant

Photo: Jr Korpa/Unsplash

No, this isn’t the story about the worst thing that’s ever happened to me. Don’t get me wrong, it was a singularly miserable experience filled with pain and tears, frustration and depression. But if you’re looking for “sorrow porn,” look elsewhere.

If you read the title and thought, “That sounds like the worst thing that could happen to anyone,” you would be partially correct.

For some people, suffering a spinal cord injury and becoming a paraplegic or quadriplegic is the worst thing that will ever happen to them.

For me, it wasn’t.

For starters—spoiler—I survived. I’m here typing this in…


THIS IS US

Grandma, why do you have so much hand sanitizer?

Photo: Aleksandr Zubkov / Getty Images

My great-grandmother saved Sweet ’N Low packets. Those little pink rectangles of currency now only found in very old, very sticky diners where rent is minimal and corporate interest in property nonexistent. In her lifetime I don’t think my great-grandmother ever purchased an artificial sweetener of any kind. She never needed to. There was always a healthy supply in whatever giant purse was within arm’s reach. If those ran out (they never ran out), there were old shoe boxes in cabinets serving as secondary stash. …


A Memorial Meadow

Yellow poppy unfolding in early morning light
Eschscholzia californica

Last October, I stood in my seacoast yard, listening to the waves and grieving the death of my wonderful Aunt Kathy from pancreatic cancer. My landscaper pressed me for a decision about mulching a ledge-filled patch of earth with a tiny view of the water. It begged for something other than lawn, but I could scarcely listen to the man or the land.

I’d hit my breaking point. Five people left our circle during the year. None died from the virus. Without that point of contact with the frightful reality of the pandemic, against the background of global suffering, I…


THIS IS US

In a binary world, everyone who looks at me sorts me into “man” or “woman.” Everyone is wrong.

Pictured: Fluid, probably some genders. Photo by Giuseppe Famiani on Unsplash

“You look very much like yourself,” my husband told me. We were in a pool in Virginia, late at night, taking turns dragging each other through water as warm as blood.

I had no idea what he meant. My husband went to grad school to study Wittgenstein, at one point, and he has an academic’s habit of choosing a word located two doors down from the one you’d use in casual conversation. You can sit with his little poems forever without decoding them.

“You’re all sharp and spiny,” he said. “I can always tell exactly what you’re thinking when I…


A message to the swimsuit industry

Photo by Luka Reedy on Unsplash

This summer, I’ve decided to jump in the lake. There’s a big, beautiful lake minutes from my house and I haven’t been in it since my kids were little. A decade, at least, of thoughtlessly avoiding the pristine waters of my home place, ignoring what may be the perfect therapy. It’s time to change all that, so this year I have resolved to get in the lake and take the water cure.

I bought a state park pass and some water shoes, to protect the feet from slime and zebra mussels. And now, the last piece: A swimsuit. I have…


THIS IS US

Don’t depend on the kindness of strangers, but do celebrate it

One-stop Subway Artist Sketch

To paraphrase a great sage: The subway’s like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.

Some days, what you get is human fecal matter underfoot. In case you’re wondering, that’s the best case scenario for encountering human fecal matter. It’s also possible to encounter it underhand, as my sixteen-year-old son discovered one afternoon during his commute home from school. Never since Lady Macbeth, or the year 2020, has someone washed their hands with such desperation.

Other days on the subway, what you get is tourists from Paris who let you speak terrible French to them and…


THIS IS US

How moving into my own space helped me find my own joy as a first generation immigrant woman of color

A bookcase dedicated to my love for healing, travel, and community. In my apartment in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn, 2020. All photos courtesy of the author.

When there’s a full or new moon, I have this ritual. I like to write my intentions in this journal with a silk sari print blue cover. I have entries filled with things I wished to release, like deeply held insecurities. Things I wanted to call into my life, like healing my inner child who was bullied in school. A conscious and healthy romantic partnership. Job opportunities from companies with leadership that cared about anti-racist business practices and centered community care and healing. And a home. I described the space with vivid images: an open, airy room or apartment filled…

Human Parts

A publication from Medium about humanity: yours, mine, and ours.

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