The other day I was allowed to walk for the first time in over two weeks. Here, walking is a privilege I have to earn.
There was a time, not too long ago, when I couldn’t sit still. I lived in New York City where stillness had an opportunity cost; to be still was to lose time, to move was to be heading somewhere. To sit on the subway was to occupy the seat of someone who needed rest more than me. So, I stood, my two feet firmly rooted on the floor of the train, knees slightly bent, bracing for unexpected lurches and turns as we sped through the city’s worn underground tunnels.
I was always ready to run at a second’s notice. And running I did. A lot of it. New York’s pace was so frantic, walking was equivalent to a slow jog. And when that wasn’t enough to cure the craving for movement, I’d run, every other day in Prospect Park, or on the worn treadmill belts that tiresomely cycled like hamster wheels at one of the many Crunch gyms scattered across the city.
It might sound cheesy, but my heart was broken. And the only fix was to keep it going at a rate just high enough to quiet my mind. You know that feeling, when your heart racing inhibits your ability to follow one particular thought for too long, and all you can focus on is steadying the inhale and exhale of each breath. Running, both literally and figuratively, became a form of meditation that grounded me in my body and took me out of my thoughts; it brought me into the present while also keeping me perpetually moving forward from my past.
I knew I was running from myself. Like the gym treadmill and running loop in Prospect Park, I soon realized I was running in circles. Circles that always brought me back to myself. And so I stopped. A year ago I went cold turkey on the movement, thinking it would prompt me to confront whatever I had been running from all these years; force a pause that would lead to some kind of healing. Instead, my body atrophied. Movement had been my coping mechanism. It may have contributed to dissociation and avoidance, but it also kept me strong. I didn’t realize how much that strength defined me until I lost it.
I went from constant busyness to complete stillness, from running to the wheelchair—what did I learn? Stay tuned for the conclusion next week.
Among the many things I don’t miss about living south of the border? Calling the washroom the “bathroom,” assuming I mean pop when I ask for tea and the constant fear of roaches and rodents in my apartment.
Canadians, if you felt I did a disservice to our country in my last Insider story on all the things I miss about living in the U.S., maybe I can redeem myself with this one. As for my American readers, ya’ll are a patriotic bunch, you loved my first story but sure aren’t holding back on the trolling for this one.
Growing up with a disabled mom, I still instinctually remove all the packaging of my personal care products the minute I get home out of habit of doing it for her. Not only is all the excess packaging wasteful, it makes accessing personal care products a potentially disempowering experience for people with disabilities.
But the tide is slowly turning, with brands like L’Occitane and Herbal Essences making products with adaptive features. Humanist Beauty is following suit with a Braille ID band that snaps on their signature Facial Oil.
I interviewed the founder Jennifer Norman, on what inspired her, at the age of 50, to give up a 20-year career working with top tier beauty brands to start her own company. As a Korean American adoptee and mother of a son with a disability, she is determined to make beauty more accessible and inclusive.
👤 Why we need to reframe mental illness (this is the most eye-opening and relatable story on suicide I’ve ever read!).
“Who am I, really? How much is a matter of pathology? How much does my fear of owning this darker voice hinge on a cultural insistence that it’s unhealthy, even unnatural? What if I’m all of it?” - Arianna Rebolini.
👩🏻 The cost of being easily confused as another Asian in the workplace.
✍️ Why walking helps writers think.
“Writing forces the brain to review its own landscape, plot a course through that mental terrain, and transcribe the resulting trail of thoughts by guiding the hands.” - Ferris Jabr.
🧘♀️ On why we leisure.
🔥 Is burnout a modern affliction or human condition? If it is universal, are we overusing the word to describe our dissatisfaction with life?
“May there one day come again more peaceful metaphors for anguish, bone-aching weariness, bitter regret, and haunting loss.” - Jill Lepore
🙋♀️“That Girl” is what you get when you combine hustle culture, productivity porn and clean eating.
“I’m never going to be ‘that girl’ because she’s become a parody of excellence which is impossible for most of us to attain without burnout.” - Ruchira Sharma.
👑 The Diana resurgence explained.
📅 Be careful not to fall down the Emily Mariko rabbit hole.
“This is the fundamental contradiction in nearly all working influencers’ lifestyle content: that everything presented as part of an attainable aesthetic is labor twice over.” - Jenna Mahale.
The trailer for The Humans because the apartment looks just like my last apartment in Brooklyn and Steven Yeun + Beanie Feldstein? Yes please! If anyone’s seen this, tell me your thoughts!
Tara Brach is my go-to when I need to regroup. From hunter gatherers hyper-attuned to their surroundings to modern children who spend all day in front of a screen—Brach says we’ve become increasingly prone to dissociation over history.
Brach’s four red flags of dissociation:
Obsessive thinking. Notice it, name it and then bring the breath into the body.
Judgment. Ask yourself what you’re afraid to feel.
Distraction and numbing—think: food, alcohol, technology, staying busy. When you have the reflex to check that text, pause and ask yourself if it’s necessary.
Moving too fast through life. Does the person who gets more done really win?
“When we race through life, obsessing, judging, distracting, we’re not living the life that’s here. It may be that the un-lived life is that we never pursued a career in music or art, but it’s deeper than that, it’s really the un-lived passions, and we need to be in our bodies for that.”
I’m not snacking in the traditional sense. But I am eating a lot... of hospital food. Maybe I’ll get into it later, but for now, I’m dreaming of the day I can eat some of my go-to snacks again: Salted caramel banana bread spread with cinnamon butter and overnight oats that taste like cereal milk, topped with granola butter, both sided with banana milk. For an even easier protein-packed snack—peanut butter cup bars and pre-mixed vanilla shakes.