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On Cancer and the Natural World

Nearly two years ago, at age 39, I received the shock of my life: a diagnosis of breast cancer. In the face of an existential threat, it's not uncommon for people to radically readjust their lives, to let go of concerns that suddenly seem trivial and pay more care and attention to what really matters. This was certainly my experience. In many ways, I feel like the ordeal of cancer deconstructed my life and my self like a mechanic with a busted engine, and it…

Eating for Two

Recently I had the opportunity to speak with a woman, a counselor and fitness instructor from California, about the harrowing experience of recovering from anorexia nervosa. Her unhealthy relationship with food started at the heartbreaking age of eight, and she suffered for more than four decades before finding true respite. What finally worked? An eating disorder recovery coach. Thanks to the establishment of a rigorous and credible certification program four years ago, coaching is a growing trend in eating disorder recovery. The practice is designed…

I Was a Bad Dog Owner…

Pet adoptions famously spiked during the first year of the pandemic. After watching a couple of my friends' dogs chase a hare, likely to its death, I got to wondering: As more people adopt, what is our responsibility as dog owners—to our fellow humans, other dogs, wildlife and our communities? These are questions I had never pondered as an actual dog owner myself, to my current chagrin. The bar for good dog behavior in my town, admittedly, is pretty low. Dogs are all over the…

Nature, The Self and Healing

Some stories have a long incubation period. Sometime in 2019, I pitched an essay to Outside about how immersion in nature was crucial to my recovery from an eating disorder. Not long after that, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Needless to say, plans changed. Throughout the year of subsequent treatment, I couldn't fathom writing about my body when it was going through such a different process of devastation. And yet, on some wordless level, the processes of recovering from cancer and recovering from anorexia…

Precious Stones

You might think that a story about a graveyard would be sleepy. Not God's Little Acre. This burying ground in Newport, Rhode Island is packed with incredible stories of some of the first Africans to live on this continent. Many of the historic African-descent burying grounds in the U.S. were destroyed, relocated or lost in various ways. God's Little Acre is a significant and very notable anomaly. It holds the remains of thousands of people, many of whom lived tremendous lives and made great contributions…