“Room to Grow.”

Artwork credit: Leslie Molina, (IG: @oh_long_leslie )

“Finding yourself” is not really how it works. You aren’t a ten dollar bill, left behind, in last year’s winter coat pocket. You also are not lost. Your true self is, and always has been, right there – buried beneath cultural conditioning, other people’s opinions, and inaccurate conclusions you drew as a child, as well as an adult, that then became your beliefs about who you are.

“Finding yourself” is actually a returning to yourself. An unlearning, an excavation, a redirecting, a remembering of who you were before the world got its hands on you.

When we finally make it to this point in self improvement, we have a tendency to weed out the toxic people in our lives – the ones who make us feel sh*t about ourselves, who drain us of our energy, or encourage us to act in ways that are counterproductive to our authentic selves.

Once we identify who those negative people are – the gossipers, the complainers, the conflict mongers and attention seekers… we draw hard-lined boundaries around ourselves, or whatever else we feel needs to be done in order to make these friendships work for us. And, if we can’t find a way to make a friendship healthy for us, we wish that person well and we simply let them go.

In many ways, this is good and I wholeheartedly agree that it is a healthy thing to do… but part of the problem is that, for some people, the finger of blame is always being pointed outward and at the other person. In this scenario, the fix is external to us, but can our lives ever really be fixed only with external changes?

I’m not sure who needs to hear this today, but in case it’s you who needs to be reminded: There are no perfect people.

There are lots of people trying to better themselves and improve their lives, but none of them are perfect.

It’s important for us to remember that because sometimes, from the outside looking in, it’s easy to think otherwise.

“Compassion is the key to forgiveness. Everyone’s an asshole and everyone is awesome. We’re all of it. When we’re acting unconsciously and not at our highest level, it’s because we’re in pain and fear. Everyone is fighting his or her own inner battles. Do not define yourself and other people by our less-than-impressive behaviors. It’s the pain speaking, and you can find compassion for a person in pain. If you want to be free, make the choice to forgive.”

– Nicole Arcieri, LMFT

Each and every one of us struggles with something – perhaps even the very same things? Self-doubt, pride, ambition, fear… that’s just what life looks like. Trials, temptations, mistakes, regrets, always falling a little bit short… that’s what life looks for me, for you, and for everybody else.

I feel like, as children, we tend to need our friends. We haven’t yet developed our own selves – we don’t yet know who we are or what what we believe in. As adults, however, we’ve had time to grow. Our experiences in life mold us and shape us into the person whom we have become. If we’re especially sensitive to our influences, we have engaged in some form of therapy, self help, or mindfulness training and we realize that, no matter how old we are or how much life experience we have acquired, there is always room for us to grow.

The thing with mindfulness is that, without even trying to, we slowly begin to learn more about ourselves… and, the more we learn about ourselves, the more we begin to understand the behaviors of others. Gradually, we’re filled with unexpected insights that were hovering just below the surface, undiscovered for decades, if not our entire lives.

Sometimes it really is completely out of our hands. There’s only so much we can do to help other people, no matter how much we love them or how long we have been friends. In instances like that, do what you’ve got to do to in order to salvage the relationship or, if it truly becomes necessary, sever it – but don’t ever forget to keep working on YOU.

Over time, with intentional, mindful living, it is possible for us to accept all that we are, as well as everyone around us, without judgement and slowly begin to see and appreciate the incredible human beings that each of us are becoming.


“It Is What It Is.”

– J.M. Storm

I am learning to normalize not knowing what’s next, as well as, to stop questioning the past or attempting to visualize the future.

It’s okay to simply let things be what they are – even if they’re sad, painful, or confusing.

We can’t fix everything all at once… or sometimes, even at all.

What I’m realizing now, as I mature emotionally, is that I am still worthy – even when I’m hurting. I can still be confident – even when I’m unsure. I can still be peaceful – even when I’m pissed off. And I can still move forward – even when my emotions are in limbo or some issues are left unresolved.

Healing is not a linear process. I am becoming more okay with that.

There are many things that I will grieve forever. There are many things I want to fix, but can’t. And there will be many more occasions where sh*t will just suck and I’ll have to sit with all the feelings that arise, as a result.

Being human is so complex and can be very difficult at times. I know this. There aren’t enough affirmations in the world to make this fact not true. Yet still, I am working on not allowing myself to become hardened by Life when the going gets tough. Giving myself permission to simply not know and be okay with that can be a challenge – but I am committed to giving myself grace when I need it, and the space to fall apart when I need to.

I’m not sure who else may need this message today but, if it’s you, just know that you are not alone. And before you let the chaos in your mind convince you that it’s all just too much, I ask you to close your eyes and take a deep breath.

Sometimes things just are what they are and there’s nothing you can do about it. You won’t always be able to fix things. You can never go back and change the past… but you are not responsible for anybody else or the way that they choose to react.

You may grieve a loss for a lifetime, but you will never lose the memory of what was, even if it can never be the same again. This can be a good thing.

You are not “less than” for not having it all figured out, and it is completely okay to not know what’s coming next. The beauty in uncertainty is that it makes anything a possibility!

“It is what it is.

It can never be anything else.”

– Dr. Michael A. Dunne

There is comfort in this fact. And when you come to realize its absolute truth, peace of mind will inevitably follow.


“I Don’t Care.”

🌎Universal Truth: We’re all in this together.🤍

I don’t care how old you are, what the color of your skin is, or what your sexual preferences may be.

I don’t care where you came from, who you know, or which languages you speak.

I don’t care how much you weigh, what foods you eat, or which brands you wear.

I don’t care if you’re educated or ignorant, vaccinated or unvaccinated, physically fit or “allergic to exercise”.

I don’t care who you vote for or which political party, organization, or religion you affiliate yourself with.

I don’t care if you’re rich or poor, live in a big house or choose to live in a van.

What I DO care about is this: The way you treat others who look, speak, vote, view, worship, work, live and love differently than you.

In a world where you can be anything, simply choose to be kind.


“What Are We?”

“What are we, if not what we see in another.”

~ Amanda Gorman

It seems we are constantly rushing toward some goal or dream – an ever-elusive “finish line” of some sort. Under the pretense of pursuing happiness, and the heavy weight of questions like “Where do you see yourself five years from now?”, we imagine a different version of ourselves existing in the distant future somewhere – often richer, calmer, more stable, and wise. As a result, we spend very little time appreciating where we are today.

By being so focused on how things “could be,” we are under-appreciating how great things already are, right now! Unfortunately, this mindset affects how we approach almost everything else in life. Instead of being grateful for what we already have, we exhaust ourselves with cravings and longings for what we haven’t yet achieved and, rather
than seeing the beauty and the blessing of the friendships and relationships we have in our lives, as well as, how fortunate we are to have them in the first place, we regard them as inferior to the imaginary versions we’ve created of them in our minds.

If we give ourselves very little credit for how far we have already come, we tend to give others little to no credit for their own efforts in life.

When we are impatient with ourselves, how can we possibly be forgiving of others?

And as long as we continue judging ourselves when we look in the mirror, we will continue to do the same to everyone else around us.

Wouldn’t it be great to simply stop and reflect on how wonderful everything is? Pause for a moment and honor the progress you have already made in your life, acknowledge the gifts that you have, and appreciate life itself for a few breaths.

We are continually evolving, growing, learning, and
expanding and, let’s face it, we will never truly be “done”. Do yourself a favor and take a step back – notice how the small details we fret about seem to disappear when we choose to, instead, look at the bigger picture.


“Finding Balance.”

“She learned that she is more powerful than anything that arrives to break her – the darkness will never stop her from finding her own light.”

Manage your reactions, but do not suppress your emotions.

Feel it all.

Whatever may come up.

Even if the present hurts, even if the past comes roaring back. Heroes do not run away and healing is not won easily.

Let your emotions breathe. Even if it is hard. Feel wisely – without letting what is temporary control you.

Find the space where you can honor what you feel without letting it consume you, your days, your relationships. Let it burn – but do not keep feeding the fire.

Find your balance.

Acceptance makes peace possible and forgiveness is the path to true freedom.


“January 12th: An Open Letter to My Friend.”

It’s been two years now and, already, so much has changed.

I finally got out – just like we always talked about. I do not miss it at all and, no, I have no regrets. Sometimes the memories still get to me, flashing back in absurd clarity. Like that night we got called for a lift assist, but the vibes had us both on edge. “Trust your gut”, we always used to say – so we drove a little faster, without any delay.

“What the fucking fuck, Matt-Man?!”, was all I’d ever have to say to bring it all back – and we’d laugh. But, deep down, I know you knew how very grateful I was to have you there with me that night when we bore witness to the most dynamic cardiac call either of us had ever seen – when the “clinically dead” man was talking to us and my mind was reeling, trying to make sense of what couldn’t possibly be.

“Check the leads.” , I heard myself say.

Was our equipment malfunctioning or was this poor soul really experiencing such an abnormal neurological delay? His status kept changing so fast, it would have given even the most seasoned practitioner whiplash – mentally scrolling through a protocol book like a 1980’s flip-book comic reel!

And when the time came to intubate, and suddenly this “dead” man woke up again… and promptly bit me!

This man required so much immediate action and constant attention, that neither of us was free to initiate our own extrication. You called for help. County responded with “No units available”. It was my own husband, always listening and looking out for me, that responded from home in the darkness of that hot, summer night to enable us to move this man and transport him to definitive care.

My heart still races, as I recall it all… I’m still in disbelief and absolute wonder that this man not only survived to hospital discharge, but with full neurological function!

“Good job, Aubs – strong work!”, and you smiled – as if I could have done any of it at all without you.

The good calls – when we laughed so much, it was hard to believe we were actually at work. The pappy who ate pot brownies and was on a trip so bad, he was convinced that he was dead. The postcoital cardiac call… when we noticed the horse bridle tied to the door handle and the whip beneath the bed. Or the time we deviated from protocol, based on a hunch, only to be questioned by our Supervisors, then praised by Medical Command.

The bad calls – when no matter what we did, it would never be enough. The beautiful, but extremely pregnant, young woman who insisted upon helping us do chest compressions on her fiance – after he’d arrived home from a six-month deployment, laid down to take a nap, and never woke up again. That night we sat on the front porch and shared in the grief of a slightly drunk panic attack, having just received the news that her mother was dying of cancer. Or the times we’ve had to endure conditions that make “deplorable” feel luxurious, and perform tasks so grotesque, they could never accurately be depicted in any stress debriefing.

So many things, I wish I could forget – but never will I ever forget about you. You were a good man, a great friend, and the best work partner – honest and reliable, always ready to help. Like when I told you my daughter needed rescued from a bad situation, and you dropped everything to be right there – your gun strapped on and your truck fired up, ready to help haul her and all of her belongings safely back home. Or when my parents died, and you sat silently beside me, watching and re-watching the video of their crash, until every bit of hurt I felt had gone completely numb. And when my symptoms of P.T.S.D. became too severe to ignore anymore, you never turned away or let me feel like less of a person, or Paramedic.

Even when I initiated my exit from EMS, and our shifts together had come to an end, not a week went by without a call or a text – “Hey Aubs, let’s go for a walk.” …and so began our bi-weekly dog walks at Green Valley Park.

I’m so sorry for turning you down on the last one. “Too busy with my new job.”, I’d said… and, as always, you understood. “Next time!”, you replied – neither one of us knowing that there would never be a next time.

It’s so hard to let go of the things that we regret, the things we wish we could go back and change. But it’s these very same experiences that put us in our place, perfectly imperfect, and humbled into a better human state.

Sometimes I wonder where you are now, and if you can somehow see us all as we go about our lives, here, without you?

I hope you know that we’re doing just fine – getting older, growing wiser, never taking one single moment for granted.

Your daughter is beautiful, and growing up so fast. She’s smart, she’s successful… and, I am certain, you would be so proud.

Quint is getting older, but he’s healthy and happy – the “black tail of death” wags on! He’s “fluffier” now, but he loves to eat and “bad bellies” are a thing of the past. He’s slower now too – some health issues hit him hard in the months after your death, but he’s “good” now, and requires minimal meds. Would you believe his best friend is cat??? He still has his BOB, and he still loves to swim… but he can rival Runner any day in crushing a few hours, napping on his couch!

Sometimes I still wish we’d actually gotten to say “Goodbye”… but, I’m grateful not to have those final moments in my memory.

I know you stopped by that night, on your way out, as you departed this world. It was cold and windy, and I was trying to sleep. Visitation had been granted, and my alarm was set – we were to come to your hospital room with Quint in just a few hours. We knew the prognosis was poor. We knew this was our time to say goodbye. The wind was howling outside the house, and I had finally drifted off – the dreams dancing in my head were made of nonsense, nothing that I can even recall today… but The Rolling Stones song, “Waiting on a Friend” rang out in my mind, clear as day, as the wind blew the front door of our house open, setting off our doorbell alarm, and startling us all awake. My bedside alarm clock radio flashed and the song played out, in tune with the remnants of a dream, still lingering in my mind:

“A smile relieves a heart that grieves –
Remember what I said:
I’m not waiting on a lady,
I’m just waiting on a friend.
I’m just waiting on a friend.
Just waiting on a a friend.”

Just then the phone rang… and they told us you were gone.

Take care of you, my friend, until we meet again.

“Waiting on a Friend”


“Un-F*ck Yourself.”

Recently someone asked me how or why I don’t ever seem to be offended by negative comments and my response is really quite simple:

Every word that comes out of your mouth is about you, not me. I am not your enemy. I am not the one fighting you. There is obviously a fight going on inside of you – but it is not my war to win. That’s your journey.

Psychology really is simple. Take your own ego out of the equation and what you have left before you is the truth.

So many people look at others and this life through the lense of Judge, Jury and Executioner… and, while I choose to distance myself greatly from such individuals, I can’t help but feel pity for them.

It may seem a much easier path to outwardly project one’s anger, hatred, judgement or distaste on others when you’re not ready to address what’s going on inside your own self – but really, it’s not. You suffer so much more in the long run by deflecting your own issues and insecurities instead of outright addressing them.

“Worry about yourself.”, my mother used to say, and she was so very right.

Once I stopped looking outward at everyone else – naming, blaming, growing more and more cynical and sarcastic each day, I began to take a good, hard look inside myself. Only then, was I able to identify and address my own personal triggers and get to the root cause of each and every one of them. I am, obviously, still a work in progress but, over time, I have finally begun to start healing these issues and, in doing so, am able to find compassion, understanding and forgiveness – not only for myself, but for the outside world, as well. Through my own experiences, I can now clearly see that this world is full of so many hurt and struggling individuals.

One of my most favorite quotes is:

“We’re all in the same game, just different levels, dealing with the same hell, just different devils.”

That being said, I think we can all be proactive and minimize how much we actually suffer.

One particular Zen teaching that stands out in my mind is: “When you learn HOW to suffer, you suffer much less.”

I’ve spent the past few years working through my own triggers and fears – most importantly, loss and abandonment. I have mentally practiced letting go of everything that I fear losing. This seems to make life’s challenges less of a struggle for me, because freedom from suffering can be attained by eliminating the very causes of it – which are, desire and attachment.

“When you regularly practice walking directly towards what makes you uncomfortable, the discomfort subsides. And when you start looking at the person you despise as another human being full of anguish, pain, fear and insecurities, your hatred turns into compassion. It sounds counterintuitive to do exactly the opposite of what you feel like doing, but as the old saying goes, “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.” In this case, the treasure is freedom from suffering. Do you want it badly enough to do whatever it takes? To practice staying connected to everything, but attached to nothing? Just as professionals in every field must hone their skills through practice and training, let’s become professionals at living fully by mentally readying ourselves to calmly face whatever comes next; prepared to observe and maybe respond, but not react.”

– Timber Hawkeye

I have always been very open and honest about my firm belief in self-help through counseling or therapy. I write vulnerable pieces, I share personal stories, and I have created numerous “It’s funny cuz it’s true” memes that so many people can laugh at, as well as, relate to. Seriously though – I invite you to join me in making yourself a priority this year. What have you got to lose?

“If you don’t heal from what hurt you, then you end up bleeding on people who didn’t cut you.”

– Timber Hawkeye, author of “Buddhist Bootcamp”

It’s not fair to them and it’s not fair to you.

So, go ahead. Unfuck Yourself.
Be who you were before all that stuff happened that dimmed your fucking shine.


“Old Habits Die Hard.”

“My strength does not come from someone believing in me, and my character is not defined by how someone else perceives me. I am made of self-belief, not second thoughts.”

LoLo Jones

Recently, I caught myself slipping back into old thought patterns… ones that I’ve worked so hard to alter, unravel and redirect. It really got me thinking that old habits really do die hard.

I’ve learned so much these past few years, and have experienced more than one life changing breakthrough in 2021, yet here I am – still having to check myself, reign in my thoughts, and redirect my endeavors in order to steer myself back “on course”.

Upon completion of the Boston Marathon in October, I traveled back home a transformed human being. Yeah – sure, my body hurt physically and I was most certainly tired but, mentally and emotionally, I felt invincible – like there is not a single thing that I can not do! I immediately began to plan my next endeavor – an event so much “bigger” than Boston.

But broken things have still been “broken”, and no matter what we do to repair the damage, rebuild with surgery, or rehab with therapy, some things will just never go completely back to the way they were before. Sometimes our bodies, our hearts, and our minds will never truly heal in a way that will return them back to the same, exact, unaffected state that they were in before the things happened that hurt us. We learn to live with this. We adapt, we change, we find our way through… even if it is with new limitations we’ve never experienced before.

Realizing this has taken me several months to absorb, but now I know that I’m okay with it.

If nothing else, training to run Boston while recovering from such significant physical injuries has taught me exactly what is meaningful and what is not. It’s allowed me to take a step back and recognize what brings me happiness and joy and, within that, what is sustainable for me and what is not. I’ve long since come to terms with the fact that the race does nothing to define me, and that a finish will bring nothing more than exactly that – a race finish. It will not validate anything. It won’t make me someone or something that I’m not already and, although it would be nice, it’s also not necessary for me in order to move on. I’ve long since moved on.

So, while I am still re-evaluating my current goal and choosing how I will go about executing and achieving it, I do know one thing for certain – I will still run, I will still train, I will still adventure and I might even still race… but my goals and focus for 2022 and beyond consist much more of simple pleasures and involve way less physical pain.

Thank you, Boston, for all that you’ve given me – the blessings and the lessons. I did something special out there, all by myself, in the miles that stretch between Hopkinton and Boston. I may never be able to accurately describe the transformation that occurred within me there, but I will forever cherish those memories and I will never forget that experience.

To my running friends, I wish you all the best of luck – especially those in pursuit of Boston, as well as, any other race or distance “beyond”. Rest assured that I am good and, as always, I hope that you are too.

– 125th Boston Marathon,
October 2021


“Happy New Year, 2022!”

“The magic isn’t in a year – it’s in a day, an hour, in a minute. And this time is going to be different”, she thought, “because, this time, I have no expectations beyond today – and today feels pretty good.”

– J.M. Storm

I’m heading into 2022 with a clear heart and mind.

If you owe me – don’t worry about it. If you’ve wronged me – it’s all good, lesson learned. If you’re angry with me, you won – I’ve let it go. If we aren’t speaking, it’s cool – I truly wish you well. If you feel I’ve wronged you, I apologize – it wasn’t intentional. I am grateful for every experience that I have received.

Life is too short for pent up anger, holding of grudges and extra stress, hurry, worry or pain! Remember – forgiving someone is for you so that you do not stand in your own way or block your blessings. When you laugh, laugh like crazy. When you are sad, let yourself cry. When you love, love with your whole heart, and when you live – which is every moment of every day – actually LIVE! Be present and make every moment count. Do not look forward – the future is uncertain and hasn’t even happened yet. Do not look back – the past is gone and can not be changed. Just be centered – be here, right now, because NOW is the only thing that truly matters. NOW is the only place where we may initiate a change. Breathe deeply, love fiercely, and live in this very moment in which you are alive!

🥂 Here’s to 2022! Let’s make it a year of positivity and a season of forgiveness.