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.

“you’re in the right place.”

“you’re in the right place.”

The last thing I wanted to do was to start travel blogging.

I find blogs not exactly my style. I can write them, mostly if other people ask me to, but when it comes to my own website and creative projects, blogging can sometimes feel like pulling teeth. Maybe it’s because I’m driven by emotion. Give me blood-dripping feeling and my fingers fly. Listacles, how-to’s, and having a straightforwardly clear “message” for “the reader” to “leave with” stab like a knife to my soul. I, personally, don’t understand what I’m writing most of the time. And I believe in the hands-off approach with people in general; let them interpret how they will. Writing, after all, is a communication stream of infinite facets. At any point in time, we’re bound to understand differently, based on where we are in that exact moment.

So a little over a week ago, I landed in India where the days seem to spawn weeks. Something I never used to think about before, like getting safe drinking water, becomes a day-long affair here (in my alternate universe, where each day consists of seven), and I oscillate between taking classes, venturing out into the sun to run an errand here or there, and holing up in my apartment, either cooking or spending far too much time on the Internet researching things like whether or not I can fly direct from India to Hawaii, and far not enough time writing.

My roommates — another reason not to leave my apartment!

I arrived to the airport in Delhi and immediately regretted my decision to come here. As I had been for weeks prior. Hardly anyone I spoke to would listen to my qualms. Even my therapist brushed aside my hesitations, saying (as did most) that I was in for the “trip of a lifetime” and she “was slightly jealous”. It’s interesting how we all seem to want to be where we are not.

So I spent the night in the Delhi airport, before leaving first thing in the morning for Bangalore. I had no printed ticket for my third and final flight; in America, this is something they give you at the ticket counter when you check in. Not so in India. To get to the ticket counter, I had to pass through several lines, each of which required a printed ticket. I stumbled through the lines before I was blocked several times. I was beginning to have flight anxiety. Asking anyone who resembled someone-who-might-know-something where I could get a printed ticket, I was directed in multiple angles, all with a vague wave of hand and a head nod, a language I have yet to speak. I walked outside and was hit with a smog so intense my lungs closed, and then I fell into my default, of course, which is to cry.

I finally made it up several rounds of stairs, to a desk behind a glass wall, where I hoped that my ticket could be printed. On complete autopilot, as I had repeated the same question many times, I told the man sitting behind the desk that I needed a copy of my ticket, and here was my flight information. I handed him the tickets to my first two flights as well as my phone, on which I’d managed to find some kind of outline of an airline travel itinerary, while asking him, “Am I in the right place?”

The man looked at me, no doubt noticing my clear disarray. He began checking things on his computer, spending what felt like hours glancing between my phone and his screen, before finally giving me a meaningful look and saying, “You are in the right place.”

He printed something out and pointed to another line I would need to stand in to get my actual ticket.

As he handed me my old tickets he said, “Nice quote.” At first I didn’t know what he meant, thinking I’d heard “Nice coat,” so I said “Oh, thank you.” I think he could tell I was confused because he clarified, “Nice quote,” gesturing toward my ticket this time.

Sitting on my first flight to Canada, I had scribbled a lyric from a song I’d been listening to that spoke to me, thinking the ticket stub to be garbage only to realize later, with a tinge of embarrassment, that I would have to hand it to no less than six or seven other people in various travel lines, to get onto flights and with inquiries and such. No one else had commented on it.

The quote reads: “Cause with you always feels like home.”


Lately, finding a home has been a priority. I feel caught between places. I’ve tried living in different areas and nowhere feels like quite a fit, and I know the next place I go needs to feel like more of a fit than the last because of how hard this last year was for me and how deep of a depression I fell into. I need to find a home; I need roots. I’m filled with meaning but I’m rootless and so it’s been difficult for me to direct that meaning in a sustainable way that doesn’t deplete me of energy. The next place I land needs to be for myself and not for anyone else and it needs to be a place in which I can thrive. These are all big pressure-points building and when it comes down to it, painful feelings to experience.

I hope no one else has to feel the way that I feel, lately.

Coming to India is another in-between stop along the way to finding a home, so really it’s just another leap of faith.

My first week here has been filled with doubts, even wondering if I could leave early, but then realizing, yet again, that I don’t know where I would go if I did. So I’m committing to myself to stay for the three months I signed up for and taking things one day at a time which is really all any of us can do in any given moment.

And with this faith-leap, I have to remind myself, constantly, “You are in the right place.”

It always looks prettier from the outside-in and it always seems more magical in retrospect.

And just because I’m looking for a home, I’m well aware that I most likely won’t find it. At least not the kind of home or in the ways in which I’m looking for it. It’s always the things we don’t seek that fall into our laps unexpectedly and magically and oh-so-perfectly.

Maybe I’m not meant to find a long-term home, just yet. Maybe I need to wander a bit longer.

Maybe I didn’t come to India for any of the reasons I anticipated. I had been starting to heal in San Francisco, and my last week there I had a non-toxic place to stay, and I began to love the city once again. I had a healing support system there, and I had taken great measures to remove what wasn’t working for me.

I came to India with zero expectations but some inklings of what I might-need-to-watch-out-for and what maybe-might-happen-here and I can tell already that the above is probably not going to actually happen, at least not in the ways that I thought they might. Maybe I came for other reasons rather, which will most likely not be revealed to me until years later, if ever.

While here I’ve already found some healing avenues similar yet different from those I had in SF, so I’m exploring these as we speak. I want to think that I can cure myself of depression once and for all, but maybe instead this latest bout of depression is a necessary step along my twisted path. Fighting against my own mind takes up way too much of my energy so I may as well make friends with it. Even when my mind tells me scary things like that I have no place here and I don’t belong. Friends can be scary sometimes. Especially those closest to us. And there is no closer friend than myself.

I don’t have answers, only questions, many of which I’m tired of asking, so I think right now I’ll continue to repeat the mantra “You’re in the right place,” even (especially) when it feels like I’m not.

peacemaker, you have all the love in the world

I recently have been studying the Enneagram model for human personality, a bit, with my Yoga teacher, she herself having trained in it.

I struggled with the analysis model in the past, as I claimed not to believe in what I considered boxing people in.

I did not wish to be pinpointed, or narrowly confined.

I now realize that my strong reaction was primarily due to my ego’s misinterpretation of the whole thing.

Eventually, I consented, and decided, that because none of the numbers truly fit me, I must then be a four. The artistic, intuitive, sensitive and moody type. The one governed by emotion.

It was the only piece that possibly made the slightest bit of sense.

Until I ran into conflict, fairly recently, and through my reaction to the drama, my teacher kindly opened my eyes to a new possibility.

Upon confrontation, my insides twisted and turned and became shaken to such a degree that I tossed through sleepless nights, and wanted desperately for it all to go away.

It is exactly these types of circumstances I work so dearly hard to avoid.

And as I mentioned this to the wise one, she calmly stated,“That isn’t how a four would react. You might be a nine.”

Nine is the starry-eyed peacemaker.

Often checked out of reality, we are the dreamers who idealize the world and our emotions to such a degree that we can lose all touch with reality and our sense of self in the process, not to mention the uncomfortable feelings that go along with human life. Including, among other emotions, anger.

It occurred to me, when she told me this, that maybe, in fact, she was right.

I embraced my nine-ness and began confronting the discomfort of the drama face forward, in remedy.

A few weeks into my newfound approach, I waffled a bit, losing my sense of self, yet again, this time in the story of myself as a creator.

You see, I am highly emotional, as well as an empath, and extremely sensitive. I feel everyone else’s emotions to such a degree that I have no choice but to take them all in.

Every child’s blinking, wide-eyed stare, and every stripped shoelace life slumped by the side of the street, pierces through my paper-thin skin to a heart that dances at the wonder and rends at the very sight of despair.

And the best way I have found, for processing all of this feeling, is through words.

Family members used to laugh at the intensity of the letters I would write, when I was a teenager going through all the aches and pains of growing up.

I would grow so heated and all the emotions would become so bottled up that the only way I could possibly begin to coherently organize my thoughts was through pen and paper.

Even today, I tell people I write because I cannot talk.

Spoken words stumble and trip on my tongue.

The thoughts, ideas, and feelings swirl from my heart, through my head, to an outpouring rush from my fingertip to pounded-upon key, and only then do I begin to feel even remotely okay.

I cannot achieve this same level of okay-ness, in any other way.

Yet, through my brief Enneagram study, I realized that writing is, by no means, the end-all, be-all for me. Writing is not where my true spiritual work lies.

Writing is merely a gateway, a door opening to the horizon of the desert of real growth, through which I must walk for centuries with parched lips croaking at the far-off dream of a droplet of water.

As I waffled between understanding my intuitive, artistic,deeply emotional side, the side that must write, must create, every single day, without negotiation, in order to feel alive, and my neurotic tendencies as a passive peacemaker merely floating by, it suddenly dawned on me.

It became evident, with a spring-into-cold-water awakening, that writing holds the potential to serve an incredibly passive aggressive form of communication, depending on what I then do with those words.

Hammering out my deepest feelings, only to free the thoughts and post them in threads of ether, is a significant form of cathartic release.

But it does not take the place of picking up the phone and reaching out to those who may have hurt me, or even worse, who I may have hurt, in whatever way, shape, or form, of the moment. Even those whom I hold most dear to my heart.

And why do I write about the generality of my feelings, skimming the bottom of the ocean for shells with closed-tight eyes lest I feel the stinging of the salt?

Why do I hold other people at arm’s length, keeping them just far enough from both the brightness of my heart’s beating pulse as well as the sharp flashes of true, human emotion I at times feel toward and around them?

Why do I numb myself from feeling the deepness and the fullness to the rawest degree?

I have no problem speaking my mind around those I know to be just passing through. The temporary coworkers, transitory housemates, and people I meet on various travels.

And in the process, I have been able to foster real connection with so many strangers. Yet with my own family and friends, I am afraid. I hold back.

Because what if they don’t feel the same way? What if they do not love me as much as I love them? That could very well be the case.

In fact, who could possibly hold this much love for itty-bitty old me (as I hold my arms wider still than the span of Earth, moon, and sun combined).

When your love touches mountains, it can never be reached. And so I guess this raises my deepest, darkest fear. Of only ever being able to love on human terms, under human conditions, and in the very limitations of our earthly ways.

I once saw my life flash before my eyes.

I have been waiting for the right moment to write these words aloud (Lord knows, I’ve written them thousands of times, before, in the privacy of my journal’s safe leather binds, as well as in notes for my therapists’ ears alone).

But now feels as good a time as ever to get this off my chest. At the risk of sounding starkingly mad, I was attacked once, and in the moment, I knew I was about to die.

My attacker, as he tazed me with a stun gun shot to the neck, also had a knife, and I intuitively knew in an inexplicable way his every intention to stab me. Only then he didn’t.

And, clear as day, I felt a message from God (because God doesn’t always speak, so much, in the linearity of words or images.)

And the message filled me with a new kind of love, a feeling so full and pure that I knew I had experienced it before, possibly as a child, or perhaps in another life. As I was filled with this feeling, I knew it was not my time to go.

I was here for a mission, to feel this kind of love, again, here on Earth. As I received this divine message, my attacker stood, and walked away. Without reason, he let me go. He let me go, to run.

And so run I did.

I ran until I found the haven of my bed, in a city that would not feel safe for months to come.

I ran until I found a shell in which to hide myself away.

I ran, and I ran some more.

I ran until I found the familiar sensation of numbness I had discovered in recent years, as a soother to all the hurt.

I allowed being numb to swallow me whole.

For far too many years. Under far too many methods. Some physical, but many of which appeared as mental inflictions of an imagined sense of control.

Until I could no longer bear the shutting-down engine, sputtering in the wake of a smogged-out highway full of flat tires and pierced dreams.

I could no longer stand sleepwalking my way through life.

The re-awakening has been a slow, painful process, full of much, much feeling.

Crawling my way back to the light of day has, at times, left me battered and bruised, and feeling deathly alone.

But this aloneness, I am forever in the process of realizing, was always part of the delusion.

As was the idea that I would never be loved, just as I am, anger and all. As well as the idea that I, with all of my feelings, am too much for anybody else.

So, for all you other peacemakers, floating through life on idyllic daydreams so far, up, and away in an effort to keep your too-muchness at bay, please know, that I can feel the rays of your love, down here, from where I stand, as well as those of your anger.

I can reach to the very ends of your dreams, and I will not let go of what I find there, however slippery and gruesome the mess. I will not let go, just as so many, here, did not let go of me.


This article was published on Rebelle Society.

a writer’s dilemma: do we fear balance?

For what feels like centuries, I have been traveling along the healing path.

Healing from what? Who knows.

Healing from every dark stare and all the secondhand smoke that has infiltrated my lungs.

Healing from every whispered shout of Shh! Not now.

Healing from ounces of food withheld from or shoveled through my lips.

Healing from all of this and more. Much of it not mine, originally, but rather absorbed through my empathetic pores, spread through my veins and clogged-up channels. Thousands of muffled cries and dried-up tears and pleas and prayers for protection from all the darkness that exists here on Earth.

Some of you would call this a dramatic interpretation of the current, human state.

I would tell you, those who fear the drama, that there is no reason to run from the rising curtain and that rather, this is merely the gift of sensitivity, bringing to light the energy that lies beneath the rug.

The threads of life binding us all together. The spirits within and without and the ever-fluctuating state of the pieces that make up the whole.

And this sensitivity, this aliveness, it deserves to be felt.

At the same time, though, there are very real things that we can do, here on Earth, as protective mechanisms from certain elements of spirit becoming too much for our fragile frames to handle.

And as I explore these countless healing mechanisms, I continue to learn what works and what does not so much, for me, personally.

Because a lot of what they swear by are simply sugar pills filling bottles of deception.

Be careful of what you adhere to. That is all I will say on that note.

In my opinion, true healing takes account of the whole and brings us to a state of balance.

Thousands of routes, no two alike.

And in my quest for balance, I’ve come face to face with many of the qualms that will prevent me from ever finding such a thing. The latest surfacing of which is something I fear far too many of us artists, deep-feelers and writers alike share. The deep-seeded fear of happiness.

Because happiness is a fickle houseguest. She brings in her bag treasures that we cannot quite put our pinky finger on. We feel the blind taste of sweetness on our lips, or we catch a waft drifting across the shore, without ever quite holding the fruit in our palm.

We can stroke her soft cheek and know everything is right with the world, for that one split second of time. And then we spend years allowing the memory of it to fill us with glimpsing pulses of energy unlike anything else.

Years ago, I gave up the quest for happiness. And then I realized that my heart beats the pulse of a happy home within, telling me everything always is, actually, okay. Even when it’s not.

But still, I fear the unique ring of happiness that I associate, in my mind, with the balanced state of being. I fear that when balanced, I lose the ability to create.

The artistic path is like walking blindly through dripping tunnels, using my hands to feel my way along rocky crevices. Sometimes, fairly often, I fall to my knees, and crawl through a mess of tangled branches. Other times, I stand tall and dance. A weird and wildish dance. The true dance of when no one watching.

But then there are moments when the tunnel falls away, and I find that I am floating in a capsule of space.

In those rare bits of time, Spirit takes over and transcends through my fingertips. And those moments, however few and far between, make the whole journey seem so beautifully perfect.

Yet those moments, for me at least, haven’t always come from being balanced and happy. Rather, they’ve come through feeling. Feeling every last bit of life coursing through my veins. Letting all the feeling swirl around in my cells until my fingers can make form of the nonsense and carve something tangible.

Not thinking about what the words might possibly mean, but rather just writing the waves as they come.

If I become balanced, do I lose this ability?

If I protect my energetic orbs from taking on everything that is happening around me, do I lose the ability to write from a deep place of feeling?

These are all questions I hold, loosely, in my palm, as I decide, once again, that if it does happen, it is okay.

And in the next moment, I will tell myself, again, it is okay.

And again in the next one.

Because as each of these fears arise, they really just shine the light on the roots growing deep in the muck. The fear of not being enough. The desire to be loved. Writing to generate that very love or attention, rather than just for the sake of writing. Every human qualm clouding my soul. Every broken bell sounding out over my voice.

When I asked my Ayurvedic practitioner if, once balanced, I would lose the ability to write, she assured me that, on the contrary, I would uncover a deeper story within, that of my true self emerging.

That sounds nice to me.

But, even if that doesn’t happen, even if I never write another word in my life, it is going to be okay.

We are given so few breaths, so few heartbeats, so few pangs to feel within our chests. All I can do is spend them living. Balanced and happy, or not.

And I would tell you, fellow writers who fear the happiness, that this morning as I write these very words, I feel pretty damn happy, and lucky to be alive. So maybe your voice does not actually ring from the darkness, but rather the life within, screaming to get out…

… the life that contains a unique blend of sprinkles of happiness, despair, indifference, love, and a myriad other emotions.


This post was published on Rebelle Society.

you never know where life will take you

A few months ago, I wrote a piece that generated far more attention than I’m used to. Part of the reason I write is because I am introverted, and my thoughts and feelings don’t always translate verbally, but for whatever reason, when put into written words, I can articulate what is inside a bit easier. I tell people I write because I ‘can’t talk’ and while, to give myself the benefit of the doubt, this isn’t necessarily true all of the time, it stems from the reality that physical forms of communicating such as writing and movement come more naturally, to me, than anything else.

Anyway, people I didn’t already know responding to (or even reading) my words was a new experience for me. I felt grateful and overwhelmed and inspired and uncertain, all at the same time.

Some of my responses were certainly far less than graceful. I was caught off guard, surprised by the attention, and truly just didn’t know what to say. For that, I apologize, while giving myself grace and recognizing that I, like everyone else, am only doing the best I can in any given moment. And sometimes that looks clumsy and stupid and confusing.

One person who reached out to me was the editor of Birth Institute, who asked to set up a time for us to connect, because she wanted me to write for their website. At first, I thought it was a mistake. I scanned through the adorable baby photos on their home page, thinking, “This sounds nice, but I know nothing about doulas, babies, pregnancy, birth or any of the above.” I automatically ruled myself out based on the notion in my head that I was not qualified for this, and therefore had nothing of value to contribute. But then I decided to chat with her anyway, because a phone call never hurts.

Fast forward a couple of months and I’m now published on their website here. In the process of writing this piece, I learned a great deal about my own capabilities to research and organize. I had the privilege of having conversations that left me captivated, with birth workers who have tons of valuable insight and wisdom to share. Through interviews, I fell in love with the idea of doula work, even thinking to myself at one point, “Maybe I should become a doula.” But then again, maybe I just want to be a writer. So I can explore and fall in love with each of these people, places, and things. Every moment, and more.

for when you feel crazy: let it all out

for when you feel crazy: let it all out

When you feel like you are going crazy, I just have one word for you: Good. Or rather, two more: Keep going.

When the whole world stares, wide-eyed, at the wreck, and you can’t stop your mouth from running: keep spilling the beans, and let it all out. Just keep moving forward.

When you’re dancing in a room full of zombies and you can’t find the door: keep moving your body to the rhythm of your own internal beat, and don’t doubt that drum for a second, even when no one else joins the sway.

When all you want to do is sit and let the tornado of your thoughts swirl up and away until they disappear amidst stars made of the same exact ether, allow your whole being to float off into the abyss and know that there is nothing wrong nor strange with feeling as though you really must come from a galaxy ten light years away. And that most days you itch to return to a place you can’t even put into words.

When all this happens and more, all I can say that you just may be the only one sane in the room. Because it is in these moments that you are finally living. In these very pinnacles of time, you allow life to happen to, with, and through you.

You cut the cord between puppet and strings, and realize that you never really needed the hand to guide your movements anyway. Finally present, you and the moment become one.

Know that it takes far greater strength to surrender this way. It takes warrior courage and a heart of gold, not steel, to free yourself from the cage. Out in the open, you cease life as a robot, programmed to bend and to break.

You become like the water, instead. Moving in, of, and through. Loosening ties that have gotten as mangled as weeds. Whittling away at the shell till it breaks.

It doesn’t need to make sense.

Nobody else needs to understand your deepest thoughts, fears, and hopes. Nobody needs to be on board with your own brand of crazy.

There is nothing wrong with you, and you don’t need to be fixed.

Remember, darling, the crazy is okay.

Because you know what happened during your meltdown?

Absolutely nothing.

The world kept spinning. Air kept moving. Water kept flowing. Hearts continued to beat.

Nobody, and I mean nobody, stopped living, because you started feeling.

No, in fact, quite the opposite occurred. While you let your own crazy out, ten thousand children learned to walk today. And somewhere, miles, or rather, planets away, a moonbeam smiled down on the Earth. And under that smile, ten more realized that the crazy… well, it doesn’t need to be contained. And from them, ten others. And so on and so forth it goes.

It is in these very moments, of looking your own bouts of crazy straight in the eye, that you come face to face with all you were sent here to change. Closed hearts blocking doors. Dead marches for life.

Because isn’t crazy just relative, anyway? And that buttoned-up, box-checking ladder to climb, to me, looks insane. Built on two prods of wood, only a matter of time till it snaps. And then we’ll all spiral out of control, mad dash to where you’ve been waiting all along. In that very moment, we come alive in the fall.

The rest? Well, they’ll catch on, too, soon enough. I promise, they will. And until that day comes? Just keep dancing your wildish dance. Striking the drum, and howling the rest. Because, if for no other reason, selfishly, I need you to.

My very sanity depends on knowing that you’re insane too. As does the world. And that planet you’re from. You know, the one on which you and I met.


This post was published on Rebelle Society.