All posts by Jessica Sahlstrom

"When we choose to love, we choose to move against fear, against alienation and separation. The choice to love is the choice to connect, to find ourselves in the other" -bell hooks.

Conversations with Owls and Stellar Jays and other birds:


Emergeplease take a second to scan your body for the place that hurts the most.

(my body isn’t relevant; I’ve transcended my body. )

Please take a second to feel your feet on the ground.

(there is no ground; I am underneath the ground)

Please find a surface you can connect with.

(a surface? I know what you’re doing. I know how to help someone do what you’re doing. But I cannot rise to a surface point, or emerge as something else until these ghosts notice me. NOTICE ME, I scream.)

Sweetie, they can’t hear you because you’ve invented them.

(Ghosts stuck in scenarios I keep playing with I know I need to introduce something new and blow this toxic place up; I need to be surprised. But I still want to be seen and heard and loved…..)



Gotcha. Can you get the fuck up now? You have a thesis to write.



This is how you love,


You breathe compassion into your choice of language

You occupy a humble disposition.

You set boundaries because you honour your energetic, physical and spiritual needs;

You practice a consensual lifestyle.

You ask for you what you need,

You don’t expect

And then you respect “No”.

You learn to support yourself first.

Be there for yourself, first.

And then, you meet the people you love where they’re at—

You learn how to forgive, which helps you let go.

You learn to walk away from people who don’t see you, who don’t know how to love you. You walk away, with all of the above in your heart.


And then you rise, love. You rise into your own. You rise like the warrior you are, tackling the shit out of all the things that try and keep you small and pretty.

You are magnificent, Love.

Breathing out inherited diseases is hard


Asthma is a disease of never feeling like you can inhale enough when all you need to do is breathe out.

A bronchodilator temporarily reduces inflammation, therefore allowing exhales to proceed as they would in an asthma-free body. Or, as close as possible to that type of unfettered breathing I’ve never known.

Sometimes it doesn’t work right away, and I take another puff, but never more than two. I call them puffs, the doctor calls them puffs. Puffs of medicinal vapour.

I use to puff cigarettes and marijuana and say things like, I really shouldn’t do this cause of my asthma. I don’t think anyone ever believed me–believed that I have asthma. They’d say, oh yeah, or you have asthma?  or just start talking about something else, as if it wasn’t serious. No one ever said, what’s that like? or What should i do if you have an attack? They just went on worrying about themselves and their cigarette and getting high.

I liked that because it allowed me to disassociate from lung diseases. I stopped filling my prescription. I started proceeding as if my exhales were sufficient.

And then I had an attack, and another attack, and another. And I wondered why this pretend disease was withholding. As I’ve learned from Cheryl Strayed, withholding is its own form of toxic control, a symptom of fear and power and shame. Withholding is not so much a disease but causes disease and in this particular situation, the disease is Asthma.

I need my exhales.

I exhale things like CO2 and grief and yeah, I exhale you. Who I inherited this disease from. Every time I face my asthma and my allergies, I face you as well. Mom’s bronchial tubes only swell when she’s experiencing her chronic pneumonia, which I think you gave to her, too, but in a different sort of strange traumatic osmosis.

No matter the outcome of everything, no matter the work I do to heal, I am still left with my Asthma and the memories of you.


Inherit (v) to receive or be left with


why do we use 100

as the biggest number

like I could write 100 poems about

losing you

and I’d still of lost you.

Like it’s just a number

Lots of people live longer than 100 now.

100 years doesn’t seem like a long time

But 26 months without you is longer than 100 years.

Fear and Love.

Things that I am afraid of:

Romantic love.


My dad.

Eating duck eggs.

The point on Finlayson Mountain when the rock is exposed and there are no trees.

Getting pregnant; engaging in unprotected heterosexual sex.

The word “free” from the mouths of White Nationalists.

Creating equality at the expense of loving difference.

Unexamined power– where does it come from and what is it doing and at the expense of what?

Things I love:




Best friends

Sisters and Mom and Kiddos



Books about space


Listening to people’s stories, passions and dreams

Animals, except silverfish

(But maybe even silverfish?)

(Snail and Spider by Caleb Kotcherofski, age 2.)


I mistake your disinterest

As someone who will never use your words and body to take up all my space

As someone who will give me distance and time away

I mistake your disinterest

As love because you meet all my needs,

Which are all about being free

I mistake your disinterest

As safe

As I keep myself and you strange.

I cannot get far enough away from you to love myself more;


Maya Angelou wrote of the free bird and the caged bird,

And so I learned to see those with keys hidden beneath their nails

Holding onto my body at night to keep me;

To keep me kept–

I can see these keys glitter and glint, slip to reveal a hope that I might fit inside

Inside whatever breed of cage

they’ve constructed for someone just like me,

As if I should feel freed and seen and heard when I learn that I walk right into the cut-out copy human woman you yearn for; unlike anyone else before.


I choose your disinterest every time.