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.

To be more like an Ent


Sometimes when I’m anxious about where I’m at in my material life or saturated in the grief of lost love, I tell myself, hey, in this life, you attain spiritual balance. Leave those other things to other people. You’ve got your own kind of groovy cool.

When I leave here, and return, I hope my soul is ready to be an Ent. I gotta be gettin close.


not one or the other



She said nothing can change without hope

was it bell hooks? I can’t remember.

Pema Chodron says to abandon hope

Darkness is okay

Are we talking mental health or

dismantling systemic, structural oppression?

aren’t they the same?

Is this my healing journey or a women studies classroom in 2008?

When you pressed your hands on my face and held me down and i said no i meant it

maybe hope isn’t what we think it is

not seeing light in the dark and all that serenity now, the law of attraction

The scripture that teaches us in the struggle that others are uncomfortable with our pain

maybe hope isn’t the belief that things change

for the better

or the ability to imagine something different

maybe hope isn’t possibility or options

hope is an energy

a life force–

how can we abandon hope?

it’s inside us, with love, right?

When you told me no one would ever love me I believed you and still do.

sometimes it’s just one hour.

Sometimes it’s full days

The time it takes is shorter, but it doesn’t get easier.

When I told you I wouldn’t talk to you again I meant it and still do.


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, 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