How animals can heal us from grief

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The last two years were utter shit. Several intense personal losses completely unhinged my faith in the universe. While I was no stranger to death, grief, and heartache, the trauma and loss profoundly altered me. It forced me to question what I thought I knew, and my atheist, science-based-self was rattled to my core.

On April 16, 2019, I rushed my ten-year-old dog, Peanut, to the ER vet. She was newly diagnosed with heart disease but was on medication and doing well. Early that night I had approached her as she was lying on the sofa, and I realized she…


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Let’s talk about you and me. Let’s talk about grief. Let’s talk about grief.

If the Salt and Pepa’ reference is lost on you, I’m sorry. I’m a 90’s kid.

Much like sex, grief has become a dirty word. Though while we are all secretly interested in talking about sex, no one really wants to discuss grief. Grief is like the drunken uncle at family holiday dinners — always there and obnoxiously making his presence known, as we annoyingly try to ignore him. Emotion makes people uncomfortable. The most uncomfortable of those emotions are those that come from grief.

I…


Finding peace in nature, and solace in animals

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Three months ago, I made the 2nd most significant personal endeavor of my life. On a whim, I decided I wanted to leave rainy Washington state and move to the sunny desert of Arizona. The desert called to me, and I followed its call.

As I write this, we are gearing up for our first summer heatwave: 118 degrees over the coming days. The heat is stifling. It hits you when you step outside, and the only true escape is to go back into your air-conditioned home and ride it out. This…


Why I finally ended our toxic relationship

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“You no longer mean anything to me, and I hope you know that.”

“I should have had an abortion like I wanted to.”

“You are nothing but a godless, liberal bitch.”

These are just a few of the voice messages my mother has left me over the years. I saved them. I’m not sure why. Listening to them is just as painful as the first time I heard them. I think I keep them to remind myself of why I no longer talk to my mother. When the creeping doubts come sneaking in, and when I start to think I…


How dork culture is damning

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Like many 90’s kids, I grew up watching Saved By the Bell. I still watch it. Every Saturday morning I turn on the tv to watch reruns of Saved By the Bell on IFC. Watching as a kid, it felt hopeful, and as a young adult, it felt comforting and nostalgic. Yet, watching it now, I see many glaringly obvious issues with the show, in particular the overused trope of the “dork.”

Played by Dustin Diamond, “Screech” is the stereotypical nerdy character. He is incredibly smart, loves science, and has little luck with the ladies. His best friend is a…


Loving a partner with a chronic illness

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When you fall in love, there is a silent expectation of hope. A promise that everything will turn out just as you envision it. I had all of these thoughts floating around in my head when I fell in love with my husband. We ran the gamut of the joys of a new relationship: romance, passion (plus some damn good sex), dreams, and future goals — all culminating on an intimate elopement two years after we had met.

Yet, from the beginning, and at the center of it all, was an illness. A disease that cast its ugly shadow over…


Do we compromise our morals out of a sense of loyalty?

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I can always rely on my mother for her unwitting contribution to my blogging content. I could write for days about her odd behaviors and emotional baggage and the challenging nature of our relationship. I have periods where I cut off communication with her for my own sanity. I haven’t spoken to her in several weeks after a disagreement. Last night she sent me this random text message:


At the cost of our health. Why I put the wine glass down.

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Four years ago, I had a terrifying personal health scare. During a routine well-check exam, my doctor found a lump in my breast. This is probably one of the most feared situations a woman can go through regarding her health. Those few days waiting for my mammogram were some of the most anxiety-inducing days of my life.

I was only 35, so while the odds were in my favor, it left me questioning every lifestyle choice I had made in the last 20 years. I was a smoker for a long time, though I had quit years before. My diet…


Why shielding children from death is troublesome.

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Children have incredible imaginations. They also take things in a very literal sense. Chocolate milk comes from chocolate cows; clocks have actual hands; imagine the first time that you tell them about a bear named Pooh. When I picked up my daughter from her first day of Kindergarten, she was full of excitement and told me all about her teachers.

“Momma! I have a teacher named Mrs. Strong-Arms!”

I puzzled over this as I ran through the names of the staff I had met during orientation. Then I remembered the name of one of the teacher’s aides: Mrs. Armstrong. …


A case for microdosing Psychoactive drugs

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In Episode four, Season One, of Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia (my new favorite obsession) host Hamilton Morris travels to Mexico in search of “magic mushrooms.”

In each episode, Hamilton goes on an Alice-In-Wonderland-like journey in search of the history of a particular psychotropic drug. In his hunt for psilocybin-containing mushrooms and their role in Mexican culture, he talks with mycologist Laura Guzman at the University of Guadalajara Fungarium. Laura’s father, Gaston Guzman, is a famed Mexican mycologist and expert in the genus Psilocybe.

Gaston found depictions of mushrooms on the walls of a cave in Spain…

Amanda Kristen

Chewing bubble gum and writing. Normalizing death and grief. Desert living, coffee-addicted, dog-snuggler.

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