Living The Mess Logo

We are all part of a living system.

I believe that who we are-how we show up in the world, how we treat others-is more important than what we do.

I've also experienced that, when we change how we are in the world, the world around us changes.

I write about the practices that have helped me.

Spoiler alert: It mostly comes down to walking, nature, mindfulness and acceptance.

What Is Living the Mess?

Hi, I'm Sarah. I'm a nonfiction writer and editor, and I have a very active and creative mind that can be the source of great inspiration…or great pain.

Living the Mess grew out of my personal adventures in neuroplasticity and my search for inner peace. I sought to find answers; I read and listened to every spiritual and metaphysical teaching I could find. I tried everything - and that's what much of this blog is about. Well-being became, and remains, my top priority. 

Newcastle Profile Photos Sarah

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In nature, what looks like a mess
in the ancient forest
is actually an intricate ecosystem,
in which each element,
no matter how small,
plays a crucial role.

From the Blog

© Volkan Olmez / Unsplash

There is Nothing Wrong With You

We live in a culture that sells the promise of 24/7 productivity (without even asking if that’s desirable), constant giddy happiness, creativity that never gets blocked, financial wealth and endless sexual vitality. Oh, and perfect pores. That’s not life. That’s what we tend to label ‘mania.’ (Except the wealth and pores parts).


The Benefits of Inner and Outer Silence

I wrote this post more than three years ago, long before COVID-19. Today, many people are dealing with silence and solitude on a level they never expected (or wanted). I’m feeling powerless to help, so I’m sharing my experiences in dealing with solitude and uncertainty.


Learning to Observe Thoughts

One of the foundations of inner peace for me is realizing that I am not my thoughts. In order to do that, though—and this is pretty much the core of everything I practice and write about—I had to learn to observe my thoughts, to recognize that the thoughts exist on their own plane, and that thoughts weren’t…


My Word for 2017: Allow

I don’t have any particular New Year’s traditions any more. Through my 20s and 30s, I grew tired of resolutions, then commitments and goals—all things that ultimately made me feel bad about myself (usually within about six weeks). In my early 40s, I decided to focus on how I wanted to grow, and then I released…

© Emma Simpson / Unsplash

6 Benefits of Slowing Down

We all want to matter to others. The mistake is in believing that busyness is a sign of our value as human beings. There’s a saner way to live.


Tree Portrait 16-Oct-23

From a distance, these trees look uniformly bright pink. Up close, the colors are much more intricate.  


Coping with Really Big Challenges

It is possible to find inner peace even when you’re dealing with survival-level issues. In my experience, though, it takes significant time and intense focus.

© Annie Spratt / Unsplash

50 Thoughts on Turning 50

On the last day of my 40s, I’m writing a list of things I’ve learned so far. (I know, it’s not exactly original, but it is mine.) Without children, a marriage or a traditional career milestones, this birthday has snuck up on me. In some ways, I feel blindsided. And yet, here I am. Arguing…


An Open Letter to Those Going off Medication

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” —Anaïs Nin Recently, I’ve been seeing more and more stories / posts / tweets by people in the process of withdrawing from medication. These have brought up both a swell of compassion and a…


Music as a Teaching

I love music—who doesn’t?—yet it had never occurred to me that music itself could be a teaching, that it could bring people to the place, the experience, that spiritual teachers’ words point to, the transcendence that’s sometimes found in meditation (and often isn’t). But that’s exactly what one song did.  As Martin Mull famously said, writing about…


Mindfulness and the MRI

Note: A friend expressed concern and mentioned that, in the U.S., people only have MRIs if something is seriously wrong. In Canada, MRI is sometimes used in place of other screening technologies; this was just a checkup. Ok, I admit, this is a bit of a departure from the whole nature and walking thing. Bear with…


There is Only One Teaching (Eckhart Tolle essay)

In 2013, Eckhart Tolle’s website put out a call for essays about how his teachings. I spent the next year writing and revising this essay, which was published on his site in January 2016. The page no longer exists, so I decided to share it here.