Hi – A Request

Hi there! You are getting this message because you elected to follow my blog somewhere along the journey.

I am revamping my online presence, and in the process, brettonkeating.com will transition to highlight my yoga, barre, and reiki offerings. I am consolidating most of my writing onto my other page, whitecottonrose.com. I send out a monthly newsletter, full of words + art—it is a fresh breath of life, what I find inspiring in the moment, and a way to stay connected with like-minded individuals. If you are interested in subscribing to this and staying up to date on my words, please click here.

Thank you for your support of my work, and please do stay in touch!

With love,


only art will understand

I feel myself going crazy again today, in the way that only art will understand.

If I can just catch a word, a shape, a color long enough to make something of it. Maybe then it will begin to make some semblance of sense.

Or likely it never will, which I may as well accept sooner than later. Not for my own sanity, per se, because I most certainly had none to begin with. Nor for peace of mind, exactly, but rather for a hope. A hope of what, I’m not so sure, but perhaps solely for the hope of living.

Some brains weren’t meant for logic; some bodies weren’t designed for reason. And I will never deduct the yes’s and no’s of my heart. Instead I will continue to live the only way I know how. By fever-drawn dreams and scratches in sand leading to a place I can only hope feels like home.

It feels like a feeling I will never quite capture. A sound on the verge of being heard. I caught a hand today and was surprised at how close she was there. I thought her a vision I would never quite touch.

I now lie sideways, in a carriage, and type.

The words flew by yesterday, and then again today, and I didn’t catch them fast enough.

Isn’t that how it always seems to go?

What they don’t tell you, beforehand, or even during the adventure, is how mad you must be to partake. They don’t tell you the feelings you’ll experience on the way, skipping along the yellow brick road to nowhere. I’ve floated the abyss for too long. I don’t know how to return.

I paused the screen right before the movie turned real.

I covered my ears just prior to hearing the scream.

I shaved away pieces only to uncover more underneath. More what? I’ll never know.

I didn’t hit save, and all was lost.

The masterpiece slipped through detached fingertips. I wasn’t yet ready. I was born ready.

There are others like me, of that I am convinced. Yet no two of us are the same.

We only feel at home in the ocean. Press your head back far enough, and you can float.

We need each other, desperately, yet we need no one at all.

We crave stillness only to discover, when it comes, that our heart screams a perfectly silent sound.

We tiptoe on the edge, shadowy sunset of a dance, wondering why no one else has joined us on the cliffside. Don’t they know the beauty down below? Or can it only be seen by our (very blind) eyes?

I sleepwalked my way through a world built of numbers.

This morning bright red blood dripped from skin worn away, first by relentless itching, and then infection that spread, stealthily, within.

The ceiling was white; it shook me awake.

Energy buzzed in the walls directly before disaster struck.

Nobody thought to give rest to the water. It ran for hours through a drained-dry pump before the lightest of touches brought it back again.

A chainsaw serves as unforeseen backdrop. Construction’s sounds and smells, a place for one weary head to rest.

Three misfits curled together, late of course, but for what, none of us knows.

The ball continues to roll and I just may have reached a giant circle with my arms.

Side stretches are the kind that feel best, right now.

I’m not sure what I’m doing here, and I don’t know what I’m not doing here, either. But I do know one thing. I finally feel ready, today, to get back to work.

It feels like kneeling a stone’s throw from the answer, yet knowing deep down that there is no answer. There’s only life.

My fingers were made to move and my wild heart’s song beats against unprotected ribcage. Spirit plagued by an eternal escapist, craving to get out. And then just as suddenly, self-imposed walls come crumbling down.

on adopting a puppy in India

on adopting a puppy in India

Everything is temporarily magical, until it starts to become real.

I overstayed my welcome by adopting a puppy here. I crossed the unseen bounds; I took one of theirs and she became mine. We walk up and down the beach and the other dogs growl and chase us off their respective territories. We have no territory; all we have is each other.

If you take a dog off the streets, best to leave quickly, before anyone has a chance to notice. Get on the first flight puppy is old enough to travel on, or ask the vet to lie on her records. Return as swiftly as possible to wherever you came from. Because the staying, that’s the hard part.

I serve an unintentional, visual representation of potentiality. Look at how her coat gleams, how her teeth sparkle, from just a little love. People pass and say, “Special breed?” The children ask, “How many rupees?” Most likely because their parents have told them they can’t have one of their own. Too expensive. I respond with a standard answer of, yes, she’s very special, now choosing to leave the rest unsaid. That there are countless others available where she came from. I’ve learned the painfully hard way, I’m in over my head.

She came free of charge, save for an investment of a lifetime. The return on which has served a lifeline.

She was found on the corner, crying in the rain after her mother rejected her, unable to produce enough milk for the litter. The small, weak ones become food for the desperates.

I don’t know that she’ll ever think of herself as strong. She’s still kind of a wimp. Last night she cried for ten minutes after tripping over a table while playing with her friend Charlie. I thought from the way she yelped that Charlie had bitten her or that her leg was surely broken. Turns out she’d only stubbed her toe.

But this small, weak one has a magic all her own. You can see it in her eyes. Her soul and mine are intertwined, I have no doubt in my mind. We belonged together before we met.

Right now I can’t stop listening to the Sylvan Esso song, “Die Young,” which goes like this:

I was gonna die young

(I had it all planned out before you met me)

Now I gotta wait for you, hun

(I had a plan, you ruined it completely)

I’ve always been a lyric girl. I listen to the same song(s) on repeat for a time and I usually don’t think about why or what they mean, I just know they speak to my soul. And then months later, I’ll listen to the same song again, when I’m in a new place and have moved onto a different stream, and it won’t have the same effect. Sometimes certain songs carry me back to times, states, or seasons. I hear a beat and suddenly I’m traversing a formerly glittering road. I remember the break of when he left. I start to feel stronger on my own.

I very rarely understand what the lyrics mean, exactly. Some things are too deep, too complex, too connected to be put into words. Like art. And movement. And lyrics.

Yesterday, while writing in my journal, I felt the rare strike of tangibility, why these particular words feel like they’re a part of me. She’s my you.

And we all deserve something or one that keeps us here.

It’s become exhausting. I place buds in each ear as a flimsy defence against the line of questioning. I know I stand out, with my clean puppy on a leash, her pink-heart name tag reflecting the sun. I remind myself, every day, that many are just curious.

Everyone wants to know, which country? Foreign dog? What will I do with her, when I go back?

People fling curiosities, judgments, and unsolicited advice at me like the stones some have thrown at her uncontrollably wagging tail in the park. She may be afraid of other dogs, but she hasn’t yet learnt to be wary of people. She loves us too much.

Out of the hundreds of questions and projections I’ve encountered, only one or two have told me I did a good thing. One person, in particular, emailed me, “You have saved a life.” Every time I read these words, I tear up. Everyone sees without seeing. Everyone sees the filter of what they wish to perceive.

I wrote back telling her thank you, that her words came at the exact moment when I needed it most.

Yet again, the most important piece, I left unsaid. Because social norm says you don’t always tell the whole truth over email.

She saved mine.

the lost boys: seeing our own solitary reflection

“You can see it in his eyes,” she told me. I’d asked her how she knew he was lost.

I witnessed a recurring theme, continuing to meet a similar type of person that summer, but really it had gone on for lifetimes. My friend explained to me, each of them fell into the category of “lost boy.”

I guess it’s a current trend in society: The quit-everything-and-travel, let’s all find ourselves because underneath it all we have no damn idea what we’re doing and we’re tired of “faking it till we make it,” there must be something more. Everyone I know complains about “Peter Pan Syndrome” like it’s a lost cause we can do nothing about. Time to move on to the next one; he’ll never grow up.

But then I had a revelation, oh, say, about yesterday, that maybe it’s not so much about them. Maybe I’m seeing a reflection in the people that come into my life. I keep meeting lost people even as I say I have no home and I’m lost myself.

Mainly in a playful tone, but when you move around so frequently, you sometimes get caught in the cycle, the churn becomes you, and then eventually you wake up and realize you’ve forgotten your way out. The exit door you can see so clearly becomes completely unmanageable.

And this is when we become aware that we’re lost.

But I don’t think this makes me so different. My lostness is just tangible; it’s on the outside. Inside, I’m as connected as ever. Except for in the moments when I’m not. I bare my heart wide open for the world to see, and then ask myself, Why? What’s the point?

So we feel less alone — okay, standard cookie-cutter response, but then what? Because at the end of the day each of us is alone, and in order for me to stop attracting lost boys I would need to stop acting so lost myself. And that involves action, most of which I’m unwilling to take.

I would need to stop cooking the most elaborate meals for myself some nights, while on others eating lettuce with a side of three dates for dinner. Because we all know cooking for one is simultaneously simple and complex.

I would need to stop wandering about and moving on whims driven by feeling rather than tangible, logical sense like job opportunities and the ability to support myself.

I would need to stop doing things like adopting puppies while overseas and then making myself out to be the victim of all the vagueness of the bureaucratic country I happen to be staying in, but don’t understand one bit.

I would need to stop creating my own mess and then refusing to sit in it. Already on to the next place, person, thing. Whatever drama will temporarily distract me until I run out of distractions and one day have to face myself.

I would need to stop deep-down wanting to be saved.

This is why a relationship between two lost people will never work.

We play imaginary games of hard-to-get, not realizing that when no one else is aware that any such thing is happening, it becomes not so much a game as a fantasy with which we’ve entangled our minds. Losing ourselves even deeper in the process.

We end the relationship before it’s begun.

We stay with the person we know is wrong for us because the alternative is far too difficult.

We chase after stories, living in a world of romantic idealization, because the complexity of our spirits craves impossibilities even as we know deep down none of it is real. We ignore the here and now because the future looks far more beautiful.

We run away from the truth.

But then the opposite, the found person, comes strolling into my life, and this will never work either. Because in order for us to be together, I would need to start living between the highs and the lows, so you could understand. And I did that once before and it numbed me. Past the point of no return, I was frozen in time. I could feel nothing at all.

My present self cries for that former shell of a person as I drive along roads filled with potholes that just about break me, lining crystal waters of the perfect temperature for swimming no matter the time of day. The velvety fur of the love of my life lies perched on my lap. Tears fall and my heart weeps for the girl who was made to believe her feelings were too large or unmanageable for anyone, even for herself.

As I write all of this, I believe none of it. Because there are a million ways to define a person and not one of them fits. And lost or found or otherwise, I believe in something deeper still, and that’s feeling.

And when you know, you know.


This piece was published on Rebelle Society.

to the magically unrooted: reasons we belong

to the magically unrooted: reasons we belong

I know it doesn’t feel like you’re quite a fit. Here, or anywhere.

I know the pain of this feeling. How deeply it scratches beneath the skin.

I know how you drift through worlds neither real nor unreal, with starry eyes and a soft smile.

I know how throughout the roamings and the wanderings, you feel initially enchanted and then eventually saddened by yet another not-here, not-me, not-now. There always comes a time to move on.

Oh, how deeply I know the feeling of loneliness in the midst a crowded room.

The ache of not fitting and the heart-rending agony of never feeling at home.

But I also know this, firmly: you belong. You carry a home from another planet perhaps, deep within your chest. This home never leaves you behind, no matter how many places you’ve left. The further you run, the stronger its whispered song grows.

Your heartbeats will eventually find (or, if it hasn’t yet come into existence, create) an earthly place that makes so much sense, you know it was written just for you. It’s only a matter of time.

And until then, you will continue to find home in the ethereal. The shimmer of water over rocks. The way the sunlight falls into her eyes, just right. A quick, sideways glance over his new yet familiar shoulder, to make certain you’re still there. At least for this moment. And you are. You’re more grounded than you think.

The mark of true groundedness is stability without roots. Carrying the shell of open existence over mountains and oceans. Flying freely wherever the breeze goes.

I believe some of us become stuck.

We stop listening to the wind and the water, to the sounds of the earth. We believe we need certain things or ideas or knowledge built up like towers around us for comfort and protection. Not you. You are free of all of that. Because years ago, you discovered your castle was made of glass. And with the swiftest of kicks, everything you once thought you knew came shattering down.

Now you dance, freely, with the full realization that you know nothing. There is nothing, really, to know. There is only remembrance.

This ability to tiptoe along worlds you cannot describe, only feel — this is beautiful, and we need this. Each and every one of us does.

The ability to feel, not only for ourselves, but also for those surrounding us — what a magical gift you offer.

It may not seem as such, many and most days. It may feel like a burden you carry upon shoulders that never seem to drop. But one day, those very same shoulders will find the person or place in which they can finally let go. Carried to the home that fits every piece of its perfectly (mis)matched puzzle, your heart will fly open again.

And until that happens, know this: you belong.

You belong in the way you channel your raw emotion into art. In the way your art becomes and remains an expression of life itself. You belong in the way you take notice of little moments and big ones, sometimes forgetting everything in between, but that’s okay because you will remember what needs to be remembered, and not a moment too soon.

You drink too much coffee and sleep too little, some seasons. All to serve your work. The expression of your being.

You fall in love easily and often, with many people, places, and things. Most of all with those that seem to match your energy. But energy changes with the wind, and so you tend to get hurt easily too. Always remember that just as you fall into it, you fall out of love just as easily, and often, perhaps.

And in spite of all this falling, in and out, up and down, above and even (maybe) beyond, you continue to hold a small shimmer of each person, place, or thing you once loved or still do currently, in your heart.

Moving through the world in this way, intricate dance of a jolted dimension, you frequently feel separate, as though you aren’t a part of it all. You were dropped here by accident. You belong with no one person, in no one place.

I cannot tell you how false this idea is.

Society and some of its variant members have striven to make you feel this way. Disconnection creates a sense of power, the false blanket of security. When we’re disconnected, both from each other and from a source of truth, we don’t stand fully in our own right to exist, just as we are.

And you, darling, absolutely belong.

You belong in the crevices of the mountains you climb. You belong floating on the water’s surface at the brinks of sunset. You belong lying in grass so fresh, it leaves its mark in thirsty skin for days or weeks or months or years.

Because if there’s one thing that’s certain, it’s that we creatures of the Earth, we’re not meant to be alone. We belong together. And you may feel like an outsider here, yet you are the one at whom children smile, with a knowing glance. You’re part of their world. Dogs become calmer in your presence. The butterfly ceases its fluttering just long enough to land, for a pause, on your tiptoeing finger.

I watch you sit, on the edge of your seat, in joyful anticipation of all we have left to hope for. About to dance into the next fleeting moment. Who knows what it will bring? No doubt, it will contain rain droplets of art, and beauty, and pain, and life.

People like you, the magically unrooted, able to fly from place to place, person to person, moment to moment, are necessary here. To remind us all, no matter how far we go, and despite everything we encounter in between — the suffering and joy, heartache and happiness — each of us is already home.


This piece was published on Rebelle Society

peeling pomegranates: why we’ll never be together

peeling pomegranates: why we’ll never be together

Pomegranates remind me of you.

You bought a pomegranate and they seemed so foreign to both of us. I asked how you would eat it and you said you didn’t know. So then you found a video. Learning, step by step, how to peel them open.

They’ve seemed foreign to me ever since. I’ve eaten their seeds dozens of times but only when someone has cut them for me. Now I find myself living in a land where they grow readily and yesterday I finally bought one for myself.

This morning I stabbed into the shell without thinking about it at all. And this is why we’ll never be together.

I watch the way you deliberately move and it’s as foreign to me as pomegranates once were.

I don’t think; I breathe. I don’t stop; I dance.

And so I go fidgeting and feeling my way through a society constructed by thinkers.

I’ve scorched too many pans and I know it drives you crazy.

If you had it your way I wouldn’t cook at all.

I glance down, knee deep in words that mean nothing and everything, and realize my white shirt is splattered with blood.

I can hear their voices now:

Be careful.

Watch where you are going.

Cover yourself.

Stop crying.

Stay in control.

Get a hold of your emotions.






We get hurt once, or twice, and we become so careful.

Tiptoeing across a broken-glass floor.

I cannot control how I move and breathe my way through this world and I refuse to stifle how I feel.

Within the pomegranate’s honeycombed pockets, I peel away red, juicy pearls, bit by bit.

You broke my heart that day and a knife stabbed into my back. Between the shoulder blades. It stayed stuck there a moment, before it twisted and turned.

I went to my acupuncturist afterward and she said the place directly behind my heart was inflamed.

Perhaps no one will ever comprehend the extremity of my felt sense, but the physicality of heartbreak cannot be ignored.

I told you, years ago, that I had started writing, and your eyes lit up. In your quiet way that drew me in, a murmur of soft excitement, you said that I “should do that.” I don’t think either of us knew in totality what you meant.

That windowed flicker initiated my fall. I wanted, so desperately, to be seen. But now that sentiment has changed. Eyes are overrated. And all I’ve ever really wanted is to be felt.


creativity is life itself

creativity is life itself

I was once told I have an unhealthy attachment to creativity.

This comment made me angry, which then made me proud because I spent centuries numbing myself from anger. Sometimes it just feels good to feel something again. After the initial, three-second anger burst wore off, I stopped to think, and then I laughed.

In reality, creativity is the essence of who we are.

The opposite of creation is not destruction; it’s death.

Destruction, or the breaking down, the demolition, the annihilation of what must be destroyed, is an essential step inherent in the process of creativity brought to life.

I think the person who made this remark may have been referring to art.

Maybe I do have an attachment to my own artistic process. But maybe that’s because my art is less about what I make and more about uncovering who I am. And this road of self-discovery is one that I absolutely, without a doubt, cannot stop treading. My very life depends on it.

We all wear masks that we’re taught to don from before we can walk. Be the happy, smiling, good girl. Go ahead and say yes. Eat everything society serves you with a big ol’ thank-you-more-please without stopping to question who or how you’re being taught to live, and who or how you would be without any such teaching.

When we break down the masks and destroy the shells, what is left underneath?

I’m finding the deeper I go, the more of an artist is there, clawing and screaming her way out.

And there are so many available mediums, the entire world becomes the artist’s playground. From the human body to food to spreadsheets to paint to anything else you use to shape the world around you. That, dear friends, is creativity.

Maybe I won’t use paint and charcoal and movement and words as my mediums forever. Regardless, I will always have the drive to create, not because it’s an external action that I’m addicted to performing, but because creativity is who I am. We are all artists deep down, whether we choose to recognize it or not.

We all have the internal drive to build and shape and mold, ultimately with the greater intention of leaving our mark here.

And I believe anyone who denies their own inner creative sense has simply stopped listening.

We grow up, as children, scribbling and sketching away. Everything makes sense and all is sacred. We inherently understand the connectedness of it all, without having need for explanation or reason.

Somewhere along the way, we can often lose touch with this childlike sense.

I tend to attract people who want to reconnect to their creative selves. These people, many of whom appear to be in some semblance of a transition phase, seem drawn to me. They want to tell me of their ideas. They feel the need to express their artistic sides to me.

I, too, am an ideas person. I have about a million and a half a day. Some stick; many fly away.

I was in the midst of a difficult life transition, several years ago. Stuck in a rut, and lost along the way, my external situation had become me, and I felt it killing me slowly. My throat was closing. I lived in a landmine of pain.

At the time, I was living in so many ways according to how I had been taught to act rather than how I felt called from within. Throughout the process, I experienced hopeless moments, full of despair. I felt as though I was in over my head in life, and had no idea how to carve my way back to myself.

During this period, I met with a healer whose eyes lit up, when I told her how I had recently found myself immersed in art. I told her how my favorite pastime, of the moment, involved stopping in estate sales and on the sides of roads to select old wooden furniture or even a scrap here or there, before bringing my findings home to repaint and fix up. I painted each and every one of these pieces white. As she heard this, her eyes grew wide and she paused before proclaiming of the symbolism behind me transforming this old, worn-down, forgotten furniture. White.

Art, time and again, brings me back to myself. Art allows me the space to transform back into who I was before the world told me how to be.

Whether it’s painting a dresser in messy strokes of upcycled white or dancing or cooking without recipes or even just coloring in the lines of somebody else’s shape, art gives me space to be, without thought or judgment or reason.

Allowed to wander around the forest of my mind for too long, I would go mad.

When I’m creating, through words or colors or bodily shapes, my thoughts get out of the way of life happening. I am present. And I feel like my existence begins to make the slightest bit of sense.

No matter our belief system, creativity affords us a connection to the divine, if we are open to it.

Our creative urges and inklings needn’t make reasonable sense, for they bring us back to the childlike state, where all things were possible and reason wasn’t necessary for day to day existence. It just was.

All life is, by definition, creative.

Creativity is not an unhealthy attachment, a useless pastime, or something you need to suppress. Creativity is bringing form to life itself.

So despite what others tell you, about the impracticality of your creative dreams, I want to encourage you something different. For in connection to your creative self, you bring light and change and breath to the world. Even when the light you shine is on darkness itself. And in so doing, you give us all meaning.

We were not placed here by chance, but rather to stir positive change through what we create.

And that creation can take an infinity of forms.

For me, today, that form is an empty frame. Which, naturally, I’m painting white. The story behind it, as yet unwritten.