Category Archives: Fashion and Beauty

Brain Rest: The Hero’s Journey

To be clear, I do not fancy myself a hero. I am simply drawing a correlation between the experience of brain rest and Joseph Campbell’s, 12-step Hero’s Journey. I believe myself to be somewhere between stages 7-9.

In my own experience, brain rest is a journey of simultaneous torture and enlightenment. Brain rest = physical and cognitive rest in order to focus the brain’s energy towards healing as opposed to other cognitive functions. This means “completely withdrawing from any metabolically demanding activities that aggravate symptoms of a concussion.”

In everyday terms: no television, no computer, no telephone/texting, no caffeine, no alcohol, and wait for it…no reading. What’s really left after that? I’ll tell you: eating, showering, sleeping. And the fine art of staring at the ceiling. That’s what’s left.

I’m not much for disclosing medical experiences to the masses. In fact I’m the person that tells her parents days before heart surgery that it’s happening. I’m a silent and private processor when it comes to matters of the body. However, what I learned and experienced in these past few weeks is worth mentioning, worth sharing.


Two weeks of brain rest means you need to actually rest. I realized quickly I don’t know how to do this exactly. This is why I don’t take vacations. The transition to relax is far too hard. This is why a sick day from work is never a day to rest but a day to get all the “other stuff” accomplished. I kept strategizing about how to spend my time over these next two weeks more productively. Lying around and resting seemed, well, wasteful.

I haven’t stopped and appreciated the opportunity to be entirely still, to be with myself for quite sometime. I’ve been too busy fighting and healing and charging ahead over the past year and there are times when fate intervenes and what seems like the most inconvenient of happenings actually brings you to a place you’ve needed to visit for awhile. That place, in this instance, was rest.

On a Scale of 1 to 10

From the moment the accident happened every doctor, every physical therapist, every concussion specialist, has asked me to rate my pain on a scale of 1 to 10. Here’s what: this is a horrible marker for pain. Especially for someone with a head injury because what’s a 5 today feels like an 8 tomorrow or vice versa, and really I’m diagnosed “confused” so how credible am I? It’s all arbitrary. And now, everything is operating on a scale of 1 to 10.

How bad do I want McDonald’s today? Eh…6. How much do I miss coffee? 10!  To assign such specificity and labeling to a feeling, to the category of pain, is intriguing to me. (This is what one thinks about while staring at the ceiling for two weeks).

Getting Creative

I steamed every item of clothing I own. Even the t-shirts. That didn’t cause me pain and it was what I considered “mindless” work so why not. It ate up a day. One day out of 14.

Then, I listened to every CD from Poetry Speaks. I listened to podcasts. I began a love affair with meditations on youtube. I found the settings feature on my computer that would read articles to me. I used the voice recorder to record any notes/thoughts/poetry ideas that I had since it was not comfortable to write them down. In between all of this, I ran the gamut of emotions and the scales titled heavily towards the negative ones.

Thanks to the urging of a great friend (thanks CVB!) I learned to embrace the opportunity. I was granted permission to turn off my mind, to remove myself from social media, email, the phone. I was allowed to be still. And more importantly, I was allowed to heal, from that which got me in this situation and all that came before it.


Up and Down

When one is still and resting, it’s inevitable to become slightly emotional along the way. To think of all the things you’ve avoided or suppressed. To reevaluate your place and your participation in this world. I forgave myself for mistakes and shortcomings. I celebrated myself for persevering. I thought about all the people past and present that have found their way into the fabric of me and took time to be present with the memories and experiences. And I felt richer for that time. I worked on answering the questions of what I want and what’s next.

On the Mend

Meditation, juicing (it’s as close to cooking as I will get), and vacationing. These are my new focuses as I hit reset after this experience. The frustration of doing visual exercises suitable for children to build my strength back up and deeming subtle neck stretches as daily exercise are taking their toll, but I’m learning to take my time. I’m slowing down. I’m learning to be gentle with myself. And every day I’m praying that I don’t forget how to be a poet. It sounds extreme but it’s a real anxiety (again, there was a lot of time to think).

What Awaits

Stacks of books. Poems swimming around in my foggy head. Running at the Parkway again. Somehow I’ve turned into a moderately positive person with a new appreciation for the road I’ve traveled in the past 12 months and am looking forward to finding my new normal.

Can't run but I can sit and enjoy the Parkway!

Can’t run but I can sit and enjoy the Parkway!



The stack of gems I bought in early July that await me.


Interview Up at The Collagist

Thank you to Matthew Olzmann and the folks over at The Collagist for asking me questions about my poem Ode to the Cortex published this summer. Thanks in advance for the read.

Shoes and Books

There are only two things in this world that get more than their allotted amount of attention from me: shoes and books.

Quite often, I am compelled (usually at inopportune moments) to have the ritual of reorganizing and having private little conversations with each shoe or book as I help them find their proper place. The books have been arranged by color, by subject or theme, by author’s last name alphabetically, and even once I took on the laborious task of trying to create a poem by using the titles of poetry books as lines in said poem. It made for a fun project but it took weeks to finalize and once I pulled a book from its spot, it seemed to lose its luster quite quickly.  The shoes have been arranged by color, heel height, season, event and by designer’s last name alphabetically. You get the point. photo-24

It’s more than reorganizing. It’s a bit of a ritual this dance I do every other month where I take them all out, make a mess of them on the floor (this of course applies to both books and shoes), let them breath with no rhyme or reason. Then I take a soft cloth and together we move around the edges, in the folds, wiping dust or debris, polishing these little gems. There is a lot of quiet time involved. Silent conversation becomes quite an intimate process. With the shoes I’m thinking of where they were last wore and with whom. The places they took me and how comfortably I got there. Whether they are “sitting” or “standing” or “stomping” kinds of shoes.

photo-23Today however, it was books. Today’s discovery: I have a lot of books I’ve not given enough time to. For some of them I’ve reread  upwards of a dozen times, and I still feel as if I’ve not given them enough time. As the books are wiped clean, today I’m alphabetizing which I’m sure says something about how my life is craving order right now.  Today, I’m thinking that if all else were lost, these books would make me whole again. I toss them around cars and rooms and bags and scribble in the margins and really interact in a way that is authentic and true to what I need from said books. And at the end of the day, it’s a quite revisiting that happens, similar to flipping through old photos of lovers who for a moment  in time had a piece of you. Had ownership of a quiet moment that even the best wordsmith can’t capture.

Shoes and books. They get my attention. They get my care.

Fashion & Poetry

An unlikely pairing to some, fashion and poetry are top of mind as New York Fashion Week has recently concluded. There’s not a lot of obvious poetic quality to such an occasion, and yet there is.

Bumble and bumble fashion week teams have just finished working their creative magic on over 50 shows and perhaps the anticipation of such a time has me thinking “outside of the box.”

During one of my brief stints in slumber one night last week, I dreamt of a NYFW show where Bumble stylists worked their magic on hair utilizing different word themes. A few examples:

  • Confessional poetry: looks with bold structures and endless, inflated mass.
  • Avant Garde poetry: looks with dual texture: smooth and sleek versus dry and textured.
  • Acrostic poetry: looks represented with one letter in their editorial savvy.

It’s not a partnership of easy proportions. In fact there are some characteristics of each that are in quiet opposition to one another, but there are similarities. And what if poetry was put in the hands of those who still think its about mushy love notes and rhyme patterns. What if, you could – in the name of art and creativity – create a whole new audience for poetry in a way that is “fashionable”?

Jeffrey Levine

poetry, publishing, and mentoring

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