Before your ever lungs tasted air, your mother breathed for you. I’ll never forget when my mother couldn’t.

October 25, 2020: Day 2 of migraine, Day 10 of covid symptoms… and Day Time-Stands-Still of my mother in the hospital (Covid self-portrait by author)

There’s something very primal about the fear that your mother isn’t breathing; before your lungs ever tasted air, she’s the one who breathed for you.

When my household got covid, my dad, who turned 60 the day his first symptom appeared, mostly just felt like he had a cold. I, 36 and otherwise-healthy, never even felt particularly “sick.” I certainly felt weird, and as things progressed, I had severe aches, pains, and eventually some neurological symptoms that made me downright terrified… but sick?

No, I didn’t feel sick.

Only sick with worry for my mom.

We were all diagnosed in…

One of the most empowering messages of my life was actually an attempt to seduce me.

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At the height of my quarterlife crisis, I was living in Shanghai, at a mouse-and-roach infested hostel, next to one of the most fetid wet markets I’ve ever smelled in my life. We’re talking offal and fish guts perennially rotting in the street outside my door. I was broke. Technically homeless. Roughly 8000 miles from everyone who loved me. Circumstances were not ideal. And this was when and where I met a great guy we’ll call “Alex.”

Alex was my neighbor, and from the night we met, people assumed we were an item, so palpable was our chemistry. I sensed…

Or to unlock life’s magic in general — regardless of where Saturn happens to be right now.

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My Saturn return was… epic. Saturn transited through my natal degree of Scorpio — sign of sex, death, rebirth, and spiritual mystery — not just one but three times during my late-20s/early-30s. Things got pret-ty intense for a while. But once I learned how to play my part in the grand cosmic production? Things got fun. Like, really fun.

Your Saturn return can be fun too.

Saturn gets a bad rap because it spotlights the old hurts and coping mechanisms that hold us back. (An explainer if you’re new to the concept.) However, it does this so that we can…

“I’m special. He’ll love me. Give him time. How could he not?”

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When I was 19 and on the brink of what would become a long-term, live-in abusive relationship, I very clearly remember being very certain of one thing:

This man is going to love me.

When you’re coming from a place of “I believe in my value,” it’s very hard to realize you could possibly be with an abusive partner… because isn’t it only insecure, self-loathing people who end up with bad ones?


As I saw with my younger self — and with self-assured friends who’ve also fallen for abusive people over the years — the logic that enables toxic…

It might be the very first sign that your partner is abusive. You need to recognize it.

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This story is hard to share. I look back at my younger self, chagrined and wondering: How didn’t I see that? But the answer is simple: society doesn’t train us to identify abuse in its earliest guises. We’re left to figure it out for ourselves while we stumble through a gaslight-illuminated maze.

I’ve also hesitated because this story (like many other early warning signs in abusive relationships) hinges on a banal event that reached an absurd level of drama. Banality begs the question, Why even tell it? And drama is a bad look. But that’s the rub: abuse does happen…

How to draw firm boundaries and walk away with grace and equanimity

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Sometimes you need to detach from a friend indefinitely. I’m all for healthy communication and trying to sort out misunderstandings before ending things because I believe in giving people a chance to explain themselves or meet in the middle. But having spent years in academia studying abuse, I also know that unfortunately some people have emotionally abusive habits — and those people aren’t going to change just because you’ve had a heart-to-heart with them.

If you’ve realized on a gut level that a given friendship isn’t likely to work without the other person engaging in years of therapy . …

If we’re anxious or stubborn, we might misinterpret signs — but we can’t misinterpret impossibilities.

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This is the story about a very stupid choice I almost made when I was alone and vulnerable in a foreign country — and about how the universe delivered some very literal (and, dare I say, poetic) intervention to save me from myself:

A long time ago, shortly after I moved to China, I decided I wanted to freelance so that I could live on just part-time teaching work while using the rest of my (hopefully-ample) hours to build a career as a writer or a healer. The problem? Visas for freelancing didn’t exist in China at the time.


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A poem

Last night,
I dissolved in God and wandered out
beyond the confines of my long-impoverished truth.
Some sacrament I drank, its psychedelic sweetness,
reminded me of how it felt to be created whole
and resonate divine
before the dawn of time,
before that big-bang-moment chaos
that had split me from myself.
And in that tranquil place, deep space,
that velvet void of perfect peace…
there was a texture
just like I remember now,
tracing your brow
this morning.

My Soul — last night, I realized
that I have never died, that dawn
is always breaking, like the inhale–exhale waves
that swell upon your…

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In the pre-pandemic era, when going-places was a thing, I used to go to acupuncture. And in my acupuncturist’s office, there was a book called 365 Tao: Daily Meditations that I used to flip through while waiting for my appointments. Since going-places is currently not a thing and I missed reading that book, I decided to buy a copy a couple weeks ago.

And on January 20 — Inauguration Day in the US, when I, like many Americans, breathed a sigh of relief and felt the stir of hope again — this was the daily verse and meditation:

And what if I told you that maybe they already do?

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I think people see me as way more serious (and less playful) than I actually am. This has been something of a private, lifelong insecurity: I spent my childhood and adolescence feeling like an outcast because I was a brainiac, and I guess I never fully shed the fear that people saw me as some humorless intellectual. (I’m an academic editor, for heaven’s sake.)

Combine this with the fact that, as a woman, I’ve been told more than once that I need to “smile more” or that I come off as “unapproachable.” So I suppose a part of me has…

Laura Rosell

Love, sex, dreams, soul, adventure, healing, feeling. I kinda experience life as magical.

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