What feels most alive in me.


Strong feelings that move us to create, act, and give — they exist in the here and now.

And yet so often we defer our pleasure for later. We project it onto a future vision and often at our present selves’ expense. (Elizabeth Gilbert and Gianpiero Petriglieri have been feeding my understanding.)

Writers do this. The pressure I put on myself to revise my novel this year was stifling all the projects and concoctions and diversions that truly razzle my curiosity.

In the spirit of reclaiming pleasure, here’s everything that’s starting fires in my heart these days:  

1. The music of Patricia Cano

This arrived with a wink from the universe. In the ‘90s I listened to Lhasa de Sela obsessively. I was lucky to see her perform in Toronto and Montreal before she passed away. There was one song of hers that I practically studied (I minored in Spanish).

Cut to last year. The Up Here Festival was canceled, but they did a series of performance videos. I discovered Patricia Cano, a Peruvian Canadian artist from my very own hometown.

I was listening to her album and suddenly that Lhasa de Sela song came on, alive in Patricia’s own way of singing it. The transmission of power is otherworldly. It makes your heart leap and explore and yearn all at the same time.  

2. Ted Lasso

In case you don’t know it yet, this is the show you most want to watch. The second season just came out and both are well worth a month or two’s Apple TV subscription.  

3. The photography of Helynn Ospina

Seeing dimensions of my own imagination in another artist’s work always gives me life. Maybe this is what art is for, to feel this connection? Ospina’s Instagram feed creates an evocative, compelling narrative that reminds me of how I feel scenes in my writing. I think it’s the way her framing asks more questions than it answers.  

4. My twist on Anna Jones’ Beet Red Smoothie

No color is more alive than red. It has been a delight to start or punctuate the day with so much vitality. This smoothie is earthy yet zesty, with beets and an unpeeled half lemon. It’s also a little sweet with vanilla and red summer berries. Here’s Chef Anna Jones’ original recipe. I make mine with dates and spice it up with a bit of fresh ginger. My mouth waters just telling you about it.  

5. The Witches Year with Natalie Rousseau

Natalie Rousseau’s course is shifting my connection to the earth. From seasonal movement to befriending weeds in my yard and working with herbal allies, I feel more alive and connected in every season. Time feels more generative. I’m never just wading through.  

6. Visibility Medicine with Danielle Cohen

Danielle Cohen is a photographer. In as many years as she’s been taking portraits of women, she has amassed such wisdom. This beautiful longform course offers reassurance and instruction to help us take up more space — online, in the media, and even at home. It has helped me budget for the blowback and the stressors because yes, they are real. Showing up anyway is radical.  

7. Healing the Ancestral Gut with MaryBeth Bonfiglio

I now make my own Amaro, aka bitters, with help from MaryBeth Bonfiglio. Epigenetic research tells us our gut biomes carry data from fourteen generations back. MaryBeth brings tons of magic to addressing these roots as well as our body’s root needs. I have no idea if my Southern Italian ancestors made their own Amaro, but I like to imagine they did. So far, I’ve made bitters out of all sorts of things. Dandelions growing in my front yard. Bay leaves from Cortes Island. And tea that was grown in the mountains near Slovakia, the homeland of my paternal ancestors. It’s healing gut medicine that grounds me. Also, a magic potion.  

8. My towering stalks of kale and twirly cucumber vines

The kale is so big I can barely keep up with it. And finally I figured out how to make proper bamboo pyramids that the cucumbers need to grow — their little tendrils twirl around the stakes and it just does me in. They’re so alive, they’re, like, you know... conscious.

Whatever’s giving you life this season, may you have more than a moment to slow down and enjoy it.

Yours in pleasure,


Photo credit: @helynn.opsina on Instagram.

Why I put my novel in a drawer.
Romance & erotica for your pleasure.

1 comment

Cindy Bahl

Completely agree about Ted Lasso. This show is almost like a dose of an antidepressant or, in general, a happy pill every time you watch an episode. I can't recommend it enough. Thank you for all the other suggestions! I'll check some of them out!
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