No one seeks out insecurity. No one anticipates the idea that tomorrow may not go according to plan. Like it or not, however, life often seems bent on twisting our rigid roads and turning our maps upside down.

Our natural response is to safeguard ourselves with even more tenacity than we did before. Billboards and status updates reinforce our dream of carving a life full of possessions and policies that keep risk at bay and harm at arms length.

And yet the world continues to push back like a pounding wave against our fragile sandcastles. Everything from foreign bombs to personal explosions brings us face to face with the idea that safety is a myth and our pursuit of it is futile.

If that’s true, perhaps there’s another way to respond when crisis creeps into our lives and culture.

…Once, when trying with chin against a well-curb,
I discerned, as I thought, beyond the picture,
Through the picture, a something white, uncertain,
Something more of the depths—and then I lost it.
…What was that whiteness?
Truth? A pebble of quartz? For once, then, something.

—Robert Frost

I have a love-hate relationship with epic novels. The Red Horse by Corti, The Idiot by Dostoevsky, the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I love the gasps and sighs and ups and downs of that first read. I get enamoured with the character development and crave the distraction at work waiting for lunch when I can read while I eat my soup. Nothing beats the kind of 3am and my light’s still on because I need to get to the next chapter thrill. Yet, even though I quest continually to find the next “big novel,” I in turn truthfully hate something about each one: I’ll never read it for the first time again.

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Sometimes, it’s not until we are feeling ill or uncomfortable that we pay attention to what our bodies might be trying to tell us. When we are truly sick, there’s nothing else we can attend to; our bodies force us to stop, heal, and replenish.

Attentiveness to our bodies — and also to our minds, and hormones, and spirits — can pay wonderful dividends. A health journal is a wonderful tool that helps us track changes in our physical, emotional and spiritual experiences, possibly helping to pinpoint the sources of insomnia, distress, or pain. Additionally, if there is a family history of a particular health issue, journaling can help us to stay on top of genetic tendencies that we want to keep an eye on.

It’s not necessary to journal for all of the following categories, but what follows are ways to stay in tune with your body. Entries can be as short or long as you desire, but consistent entries will yield the most insight.

When I walked into the Sistine Chapel, I never imagined I’d walk out believing in God.

I never could have imagined it because I had never really wanted to believe in God. “Believers” had always seemed so boring to me, so vanilla, like they wore orthopedic shoes and followed all the rules. I wanted a life of kaleidoscope color and I was certain (or was until this moment) that God had nothing to offer me.