Four Ways Spending Time in Nature Can Boost Your Mental Health

By Sarah Chauncey | June 2, 2021

In nature, the myth of human exceptionalism is stripped away and shown to be a false construct. The stillness in nature resonates with a part of us that seeks quietude. At some cellular level, we remember that yes, we are part of nature, too.

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Let’s Not Go Back to Normal. We Can Do Better.

By Sarah Chauncey | May 26, 2021

Normal is a setting on a dishwasher. Like many people, I’ve now had my first COVID vaccine shot. While I’m relieved to be protected and glad to contribute to protecting the “herd,” I dread the idea of Western life going back to the way it was. I loved the not-normal. When everything shut down in…

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A New Chapter for Living the Mess

By Sarah Chauncey | May 15, 2021

Have you ever received an email from someone you really care about, and you didn’t respond right away? And after a few days, weeks, months, it became even more awkward to respond, because you waited so long? You really wanted to connect, but your delay became a huge boulder in the path of your relationship?

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Five Ways to Find Calm When Your World is On Fire

By Sarah Chauncey | January 8, 2021

As I write this, most of us in North America are reeling from the events of the past 48 hours (and worldwide, reeling from the past year). Americans, in particular, are facing uncertainty and confusion that I don’t believe we’ve seen in my lifetime.

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Looking for the Light at the End of the 2020 Tunnel

By Sarah Chauncey | December 30, 2020

In my 30s, I began making commitments instead of resolutions, because I could see that making a “resolution” was setting myself up to fail (and therefore, feel bad about myself). Then I began setting intentions. That worked a bit better, though I quickly learned that I can set all the intentions I want, but life might have other plans. A few years ago, I stumbled across a post about someone choosing a guiding word for the year, and that really resonated with me…

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How I Recovered from Post-viral Fatigue Syndrome (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome)

By Sarah Chauncey | February 20, 2020

My doctor didn’t think I would recover from post-viral fatigue syndrome. I did. Here’s what happened and what helped me.

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Reflecting on a Year of Change

By Sarah Chauncey | December 22, 2018

It’s been 18 months since I last posted, yet Living the Mess has been on my mind every day. While I haven’t been writing posts for this site, as a friend pointed out, I have been living the mess and so experiencing source material for future posts. It didn’t seem right to jump back into…

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Five Mindfulness Lessons Learned from Moving

Five Mindfulness Lessons from Moving

By Sarah Chauncey | August 26, 2017

Moving is, by definition, massive change. It may not be possible to have a move that isn’t complex, but it can be (almost) stress-free.

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When Fear and Uncertainty Arise: How to Cope (A Story)

By Sarah Chauncey | June 12, 2017

Renting is a good lesson in stewardship: Nothing is truly ours; we just have responsibility for things for a little while.

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The Human Brain is Awesome. It’s Also Very Limited.

By Sarah Chauncey | April 24, 2017

Imagine a culture where people are valued and ranked based on their ability to smell. One in which those with larger noses and more sensitive nostrils, more olfactory receptors, are revered as superior to all others. In this culture, dogs are considered gods, and bloodhounds, with 300 million receptors, are worshipped above all others.

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We Don’t Know Anything, Really

By Sarah Chauncey | March 27, 2017

None of us really knows what we’re talking about. Not me, not you, not anybody else. I mean, we know some relative things about living on this planet, but in the big picture, the absolute? Nothing. 

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The Lifespan of an Emotion

By Sarah Chauncey | March 6, 2017

In neuroscientist Jill Bolte-Taylor’s memoir, My Stroke of Insight, she notes that the physiological lifespan of an emotion in the body and brain is 90 seconds. The sensations—adrenalin, heat in the face, tightness in the throat, rapid heartbeat—arise, peak and dissipate on their own. When was the last time you experienced an emotion for only…

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How to Separate Facts from Stories

By Sarah Chauncey | March 5, 2017

We humans are story-making machines. Yet our minds don’t limit story-making to those times when it’s helpful for us. We all tell ourselves and others stories all the time. Often, those stories create pain—and they’re not rooted in fact.

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Snowstorms as a Metaphor for Life’s Challenges

By Sarah Chauncey | February 10, 2017

The accumulated snow from the past two weeks finally began melting today, as temperatures moved slightly above freezing for the first time in…what seems like a very long time. As I was walking, I passed the juniper bush in the photo above. It’s right around the corner from my apartment, and I pass by it at…

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Labels are for Jars

Labels are for Jars, Not People

By Sarah Chauncey | February 9, 2017

The very first thing I did, on my path to healing, was to stop labeling my brain. This was a huge shift. Labels had been my crutch for years. I’d been an active and eager participant in finding external reasons why I was the way I was. I’d had 12 labels—diagnoses—placed on my brain over…

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There is Nothing Wrong With You

By Sarah Chauncey | February 8, 2017

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).

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The Benefits of Inner and Outer Silence

By Sarah Chauncey | February 7, 2017

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.

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Learning How to Observe Thoughts

By Sarah Chauncey | January 25, 2017

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…

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