Into the Woods

There’s heat in my belly. It’s a yearning to help. It’s an intensity wired into my Being. To do something. I’ve written and written and written over the past two weeks. But I haven’t sent you

any of it.

I don’t have writer’s block.
But I do have sharer’s block.

I worry that I’ll say the wrong thing. I worry that I won’t know how to help you. I worry that I’ll instead hurt you. I worry deep down that the words that spill from my soul, will accidentally bind your’s.

But I’m clear that my intention is to share more than you might see on your own.

My intention is to learn from you, from my children, from this earth, from what I read, from what I watch… my intention is always to learn. To expand. To become bigger and broader and more from that which has touched me. Good or bad. Hard or easeful. My intention is to let it all in.

In the midst of letting it all in, there’s a critical medicine that I drink of.


This is not joy in the sense of elation like the day of my wedding or the births of my children.

This is a day to day joy that permeates the unavoidable suffering of our world.

Suffering. The hard. The heavy. The impossible to bear when held in the confines of tunnel vision.

So, let’s walk together now. Walk with me through the dark and toward the light. And perhaps we’ll see more.

I’ve lost someone dear to me. 48,344 people committed suicide in the United States in 2018. My someone is 1 of those. I don’t know if he is #34 or #340 or #34,000… or what.

But he’s not a number. He’s a name –


Thomas was a person. He was my nephew. He was 17 years and 11 months of spectacular. He lived and breathed and pulsed with his fleshy realness.

Thomas is now a Being. He is a soul who flies free of his body. His prison. Our bridge. How we might imagine him. How we might remember him. How we might learn from him.

And I know. I know he’s in that number. 48,344. Mashed up in it. Smushed into it. Twisted around other names, faces, lives, laughter, sorrows. He’s in there.

And I know there are 48,343 more like him.
Stories of for better and for worse. Intricacies of who and how.
Lives lived to their individual completion.

In every one of the 100,000+ people who have died from covid-19 in the United States,

in every one of the 250,000+ people worldwide that have died from covid-19,

there is a story made of beauty and tragedy.

Those numbers aren’t just statistics.

Neither is Thomas.

Breathe with that for a moment.

Pause with it. For real.

Take 3 breaths and feel it.
The gravity.
The realness.
This is.
These people.
Hold them all in the space of the big blue sky and let them rest there.
Seen by your breath.
Felt by the tightness in your chest and throat.
1 breath.

2 breaths.

3 breaths.


No, they’re not just statistics. They are all part of something bigger.

You and me too.
And so it goes.

In the midst of this suffering, in the midst of any suffering, there’s an elixir that awaits.

How fragile life is.
How temporary life is.
How beautiful this opportunity to Live is.

Heartbreak can crack the door to joy. To our very Hereness and Nowness.

5 year old Nora rolling in the mud with her dear friend.
Head to toe they’re covered. Unabashed by their all-in the shit’ness.
Her bath afterward, her brown eyes sparkling with newness and satiation for her puddle fun.
An awakening from the sometimes sludge of homebound aloneness.
Me cracking Nora’s door moments ago at 3:30pm to find her snuggled into bed.
Rabbit string lights aglow above her bed and whispering waves  crawling out of her sound machine.
Her mouth closed in peaceful slumber as her breath slips in and out of her nose.

My heart breaks open as it flies high into the air. Far above our house it goes with joy to see this Being in all her aliveness.

A raindrop in time. We fall together from Before to Next.
I am in awe.


And with my next inhale, Knowing. Sand through my fingers.

Joy is a hair’s width away from heartbreak.

It allows us to orbit around the axis of Now. Joy into heartbreak. Heartbreak into joy. Inextricable as night and day.

Embark upon your quest for joy. Joy doesn’t have to be big and flashy. Joy doesn’t have to be arresting and mind blowing. Joy pulses as the beat of our soul. Joy rests on the slipstream threading its way in and out of every. single. moment. It hides in corners. Dances behind doors. It awaits us even in the darkest of times.

And I choose to believe that those who’ve died wish us to Live. They wish us a few more spins on this rock called Earth. So let the heartbreak in. Read obituaries and feel the weight of those lives lost. And then look at what stands in front of you. That child. That neighbor. That parent. That dog. That tree. That ocean. Those stars. That moon.

That big, glowing, white washed moon suspended in the pitch of night sky.

Look at them with eyes clean of your tears of grief. And drink in the joy that is here and now.

Pause. Reflect. And, if you desire, leave a comment sharing your truth,

Joy is……

Then breathe it in.

Feel it.


1 breath.

2 breaths.

3 breaths.


Choose to see the heartbreak. Choose to see the joy.

Your courage travels galaxies. And you never stand alone.
May we be in it and move through it together.

With gratitude for your presence,

p.s. If you’d like to hear about joy as a tool of yoga, take a look at this 5 minute clip about ojas that I’ve posted to Vimeo. Explore and expand.


2 thoughts on “Into the Woods

  1. My Joy is just having read this with tears streaming down my cheeks…not from sadness but from an opening up to all that you said…Joy is being touched by so many moments in our lives from which we have the opportunity to take 1, 2, 3 breaths and feel the life in all that surrounds us…Joy is not being afraid to reflect on those suicides and deaths who ALL have a name…not just a number. And Joy is having sweet Nora’s friend, my Parker say, “Grammie, guess what?” “I got to play in the mud with Nora and when we finished, I was dirtier than a worm!!” Joy is that excitement!
    Rachel, I shall read this again, but THANK YOU for your voice, your words, your sharing! I am grateful!

    1. Dearest Anna… thank you so for this. Sending humongous love back to you! And on this very special day. Happy anniversary!!! You and Don have given so much to the world over your 50 years together. Big smiles and joy for that!!!

Leave a Reply