The Brakeless Bike

Imagine that you had a bike with no brakes. You just used your feet when you had to slow it down. You never even questioned why your bike came without brakes, you just rode it. Figuring out along the way how to keep yourself safe.

You lived your whole life with this bike and one day someone asked you to take theirs down the street for them.

You would do them a favor. Without a thought in the world, you got on the bike and rode it.

When it was time to slow down and stop, your hands naturally held on to the brakes feeling an unfamiliar ease, a kind of sudden freedom. You may even go as far as to say, you encountered the kind of slow motion, time standing still type of slowing down that feels like you are on a movie set. The wind blowing on your hair the right amount of air.

You finally arrive at the spot your friend told you about and, as you are about to step off the bike, you sob. Right there on the street. Your friend sees you from afar and is rushing towards you, thinking that you fell and hurt yourself. ‘What is wrong?’ she asks. You don’t even know how to tell her you have never used brakes before in your life. How you scraped your feet on the asphalt every day for as long as you can remember. How you did not know how it felt to not have to. 

You just realized that you lived life in a way that was harder than everyone else’s and you didn’t even know it. You thought everyone struggled the way you did, you thought everyone rode the bike the way you did, and that those handle brakes were just there for show.

You did not know it was so that you could rest your feet on the pedals. So that you could keep safe when a car jumped in front of you. So that you could slow down without having to scrape every sole you ever owned.

You gave the bike to your friend and just turned to walk back to yours.

Thoughts swimming as if they are drowning in your head. You look at your feet and they are full of small sneaky rocks and sticky dust. You never had shiny shoes on them. As you approach the bike, you know what you have to do. But before you do, you tell yourself that it will take time to forgive the part of you who just survived without asking if there was a better way.

The part of you that never wondered if everyone endured that same daily hardship. How you didn’t notice the shiny shoes everyone else had on but you. The day will come when forgiveness will set in. While you are finally riding the bike, you should have had all along. Your shoes are glimmering in the sunlight and you are enjoying the turns and twists of the road. You notice the wind in your hair. And you don’t have to carry wash clothes in your bag to care for the shoes. Sometimes there are parts in our lives that are really hard, but we never question them. We just find a way to get through them, never indulging in the possibility that we don’t have to work so hard, or live this way. Without questioning what is and what has always been, we miss the fancy handle brakes and the chance to have nice shoes. It may not be everything, but when we just get by in life with parts that don’t have to be so hard, then the things that do, feel even worse. 

Recently, I realized that a hard part of my life didn’t need to be that hard. I was furious at myself for not knowing this sooner. For not knowing that I didn’t have to scrape the soles of my shoes.

Oh my friend, what a lesson that was. It had me sitting staring out my backyard for a while. Remembering all the times I was scraping down the streets with a brakeless bike that I didn’t have to have.

As I was staring, I knew that this moment of knowing was immeasurable. It felt like art. Like a Picasso showing up at my front door. I may have had scrapes at my feet and no shoes that looked decent, but I had learned a big lesson.

It won’t be long now, you’ll see me strolling down the street with my brand new bike. I will be looking out for you. So we can ride together, with the perfect wind on our hair, and with the most shiniest pairs of shoes the world has ever seen.

With bike rides for miles,


P.S. If you know someone who would benefit from Friday’s letter you can send them this link to subscribe:

The Field of Ghostly Winds

I have been changing things up in my life lately and I was reminded of the extreme discomfort change brings along with it. 

It feels like you are standing in the middle of a field with high winds coming at you from all directions. The winds are like loud voices screaming at you to get off the field. 

Expectations. Beliefs. Doubts. Old self. 

The Past. The Future.  

Everything is coming at you. 

You are scared you will blow away. 

And as you are holding on for dear life you wished you never made it to the field. 

No wonder change is so hard to choose. 

The moment you start changing things it brings in a storm to keep you inside. 

But did you notice something? 

Someone is missing from the wind blowers. 

Look at your feet. I’ll give you one guess. 

Who do you think is keeping you standing there, holding your feet in place in the midst of 75 mph wind? 

The present. 

The only reason why you even went to the field.

You wanted to give yourself a happier present. 

But you see the past and the future are strong wind blowers and why the present always struggles. The past has done it for so long that it can create quite the hurricane. 

The future is temperamental and unpredictable, you never quite see it coming. 

The present is always younger than the past and too slow for the future. 

Now you see where the wind picks up speed, and why it feels impossible to stand on that field long enough so your present changes. 

But I am writing this letter to you today to remind you of something you may have forgotten.

The present does have something the others don’t.

It is the only real thing on that field of winds. 

The past is gone and the future hasn’t arrived yet.

The longer you make it out there, the stronger the present becomes. 

The longer you stand inside the wind, the wind lessens. 

The present starts to grow in all directions, past and future. 

The past gets added to, and the future is being rewritten. 

By now the wind is more of a strong breeze which lets you enjoy the present a little more. 

I don’t know why it took me so long to take care of my today more than my tomorrow. 

Why I considered the past to be more important than the present. 

As you can imagine I have a lot of explaining to do, but my present and I have been having a lot of great conversations lately and I am making amends and righting all the wrongs. 

I hope you take a chance on that field of ghostly winds too, you and your present are stronger than you think. 


With a breeze,


The First Scratch

Everyone says that love is the most important emotion of all. 

It has been documented forever. 

After all, literature and poetry over centuries captured the feeling of love. 

Like the most famous celebrity. 

The Queen of all emotions. 

But what if the most profound feeling of our existence is not love, but loss. 

And it never got the fame love did.

It has been hidden. Shamed. Forbidden. 

Cut short. 

‘They’ took away its words, and expression of it. 

We had to adjust our behavior to mimic its invisibility. 

We learned that communicating loss externally meant weakness. 

We were supposed to keep on working, caregiving, functioning regardless of what we felt internally. I believe this has been a type of human suffocation. 

It is easier to discuss and fight for an outer form of human suppression than demand validation for inner suffering that lasts longer than 6 months. It is nearly unheard of. 

It is hard to command a revolution for something that is invisible to the naked eye. 

You see, loss is not famous. 

But love, well love has been expressed a million times, in a million ways. 

If only loss had that same luxury. 

And I don’t just mean the loss of another person. 

I am bringing forth the loss that has not yet been defined, expressed and shown in all its parts, because it has been deleted from our rights by shaming us for ever expressing it. 

Even as I am writing this, I am thinking that maybe I should not be so dramatic. 

Maybe not everyone is feeling loss. 

Because even I have been brainwashed to believe that talking about it in the extremes, is an exaggeration. 

What a lie. What a false sense of existing that has been forced upon us. 

It is as if we get scratched every day and everyone around us is pretending not to see the scratch. Well, it is just a scratch right? 

Then every day, a new scratch happens. 

Some of the new scratches happen at the same location. 

After a while the scratch is a deep wound, but you can’t tell anyone because after all, it is a scratch. So we deny the wounds that did not start out deep. 

We deny them, because we are taught to believe that what we feel, what hurts, what looks like a deep wound is just a scratch. 

For some people, especially the ones who are really good at enduring the daily scratch, and even better at ignoring the becoming of the wound, one day they wake up preparing for another scratch and they don’t make it. 

The wound was so deep from the thousands of daily scratches that it took over them. 

Now imagine, if only that first day when the first scratch took place, someone taught us how to tend to it. Care for it. Talk about it. 

Imagine how things could have been. 

Since we can’t change the past. And my next book on this won’t be here until 2023, can you try and tend to your scratches daily? 

Can you witness and validate every seemingly insignificant moment that caused you to sigh. Made you lose sleep. 

And if you are not ready to share it with others, or there is no other to share it with. 

Write it down for yourself, and give yourself permission to look at your scratch as the big deal it can be. 

May your weekend be filled with a knowing that someone, somewhere knows how painful those scratches ended up being. 

And just like that, we start the journey to making loss as famous as love. After all, we know it better than we know anything else. 

Maybe even better than love. 


With scratches, 


P.S. This week’s Dear Life Podcast was 9 minutes with just me, talking to you. I hope you listen here.

A Quick Stroll Along My 49 Year Old Life

Today I decided to share a little more about my life. 

There are so many new readers who joined the Friday Letter Subscription that I think it's important to tell you about my journey here. 

My name is Christina Rasmussen and 49 years ago I was born in Greece in a small town called Volos. When I was growing up, there was definitely an inner guide that lived within myself but it was a very quiet one. 

I was me but there was the essence of another me, witnessing my life. 

I also believe this is true for everyone, you just have to look for that other you. 

In my early years I didn’t like to eat much.

I had a lot of anxiety and it often took away my appetite. 

I did not know this about myself, or that I struggled from anxiety growing up until my 40s. 

I also felt very nauseous every morning before I had to go to school. 

I deeply disliked school. 

The only good memory I have from those early education years was in Kindergarden. Everything after that first year was like a loss experienced every single day having to wake up and go to school. 

My grades in school were never good. I never studied. 

I never wanted to do homework. 

When it came to math, I nearly failed year after year. 

One time, the school nearly kept me back a year. 

My math teacher told me how I nearly didn't make it. 

I have dreams about failing math to this day. 

Never underestimate your early schooling experience. 

When I finally graduated from high school, my parents sent me to England to study. 

I went to live with my two great aunts for the first three years.

I honestly never thought in a million years I would be able to go to college. 

After all, I nearly failed at everything. But I did go. 

I spent 5 years in a very old and historic town called Durham where England’s third oldest University is, and where some of Harry Potter was filmed also. 

I had a boyfriend during those years, we dated for 5 years. Until I found out that he cheated on me multiple times and I had no idea. 

I experienced my first traditional loss then. 

One of the invisible losses that stemmed from that experience was that I had no idea that he was cheating. He seemed so dedicated to our relationship. 

He spent every summer visiting my parents home in Greece, he even learned Greek. 

How did I miss this? How was I fooled like that? 

I did my Masters in Counseling two years after. 

I also went to Denmark for a study abroad program and where I met my first husband Bjarne. Sometimes life is very strange. I was planning on going to Spain for my study abroad but one afternoon, I ran into one of my professors in the coffee room and she said to me, don’t go to Spain, go to Denmark you will love it there. So I went. 

Denmark was wonderful, and one night at a 70s party with some new Danish friends I met Bjarne. He moved to England to be with me.

We then decided to go on an adventure and move to the US. 

He asked his company to transfer us to their Houston office. 

And this is how I found my way to the country that I would call home for over 20 years now. Just before we moved here, we gave birth to our first daughter early as her lungs did not mature and her heart was not functioning properly. She passed the day she was born, on December 18th 1998. On her 20 year anniversary my book Where Did You Go? was released. Talk about timing. 

We moved to Houston on February 14th, 1999. 

That is when I volunteered at the Houston Hospice. I spent a few months there, sitting with the dying, running support groups, visiting people in their homes after they lost someone they loved. 

Until my daughter Elina was born in Houston. We were off again. This time in California. 

Our daughter Isabel was born there. And we then moved to Boston, where he was immediately diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. 

He was 31 at the time. I was 30 and our daughters, 9 months and 2 years. 

We did everything to keep him alive. 

We even went to the Philippines for an experimental drug. 

He nearly died there. I lied to his doctors, I told them I was going to bring him to the hospital to be admitted but I knew he was never going to make it out. I did not want him to die there. So I lied and got him on a plane back home. 

I remember at the time thinking, this cannot be my real life. 

It must be some kind of movie. 

We made it home, he lived for another few months. 

This July 21st, it will be 15 years since the day he passed. 

At first, it was as if the nightmare was never going to end. 

Being a single mom, and working full time at a corporate job while at the same time grieving the loss of my husband was not for the faint of heart. 

You enter the most unloving, uncaring and cold world. 

Where nobody wants to know about the widow who is sitting at the cubicle. 

It felt like I walked inside a zombie world. 

That is how the corporate world felt to me at the time. 

I spent 3 years there. It did get better. Or, I did adapt. 

After all, we are made to adapt to anything. 

In 2010 I remarried.

I met my second husband at a support group for the kids. 

Eric had lost his 35 year old wife and he was raising two young daughters also. 

During our first dates, I would sit across from him and not let him anywhere near me. I called those early months with Eric, my frozen months. 

We finally started our lives together, blending two families, and four children. 

I never talk about the blending. 

As part of that story is not mine to tell. 

But it was a very hard experience for many reasons. 

And I will leave it at that for now. 

Sometimes, life is so surprising that it feels like someone is playing a prank on you. 

I know you know this feeling. 

After three years at the job I decided to resign and do something on my own. 

That is when I started this letter, you are reading. 

It was just a paragraph at first. 

Thinking who would want to read anything from me. 

But it grew and grew and now tens of thousands of people read it every week. 

I did a lot of other things too, but today’s letter is not about the books I wrote, or the classes I taught, or the mission of the work. That is not the story. It feels like it is, but the story is written by memories. I am now living in Austin, both of my kids are in college, writing my next book and I just recently signed up for my MFA in Painting. Making my oldest dream come true. 

Someone asked me the other day, why has it taken you so long to say yes to this dream? 

I think the answer is in the story. 

It is inside the invisible parts of the story. It always is. 

Otherwise we would all be doing only the things that feed our soul. 

If this is your first letter, I apologize for the length. It normally is very short. 

So don’t unsubscribe yet. This is a rare version of it. 

A personal letter that hopefully can also help you to look at your whole story. 

And connect some of the dots. I write to you every week so we can understand our lives, our days and our weeks. Maybe in ways that are not often discussed with our families and friends. I started writing this letter in 2010 talking about traditional loss, but it transitioned to the invisible losses, the kind that hide under everyday life. 

Under the bigger losses. 

Under our most important relationships. Under our breath. 

When that boyfriend cheated, it never was about losing him but about not trusting myself to know other people. 

Look for what is lurking underneath your big losses. 

The knowing and the healing of ourselves lives there. 


With trust,


The 5 Legged Chair of Joy

Happiness is personal. 

A journey, as unique as the way you look. 

As rare as a doppelganger, as surprising as a few people in the world that look like you. It is the same with happiness. 

We have very quirky ways of experiencing happiness. 

For instance, when I say I love the color of the sea water, there is a particular shade of blue that makes me happy. 

It takes place when the light hits the water early in the morning, about an hour after sunrise. 

I feel joy in that moment that I can’t feel any other time of the day while next to the water. 

I also find happiness when I am holding a book, just holding it. 

Even more than reading it. 

And if I pair it with a cup of coffee between 6:00 to 6:30am then it's true bliss. 

The silence of that early hour does something to my soul and it cannot be experienced in the same way later on, even if I hold that same book and drink coffee from that same mug. 

You see, the more loss you have experienced the more tailored your happiness will need to be. But we can have the same losses, the same stories, the same heartbreaks. 

We may visit the same places. Walk the same roads. Look at the same views. But our feelings of happiness will not be found at the same exact moment, as everyone else’s. 

Don’t look for it there. 

Go after your own version of what feels good. 

Even if it is a half painted wall in your kitchen. 

Or a chair with 5 legs. 

Maybe even a dish made of plain spaghetti. 

Whatever it is, remember anything that mimics the five legged chair or the coffee mug you love won’t cut it. It won’t make you feel the things you need to feel. 

Now let’s say we take this point of view to finding someone new to love. 

It is hard to meet someone you can fall head over heels for when we don’t pay attention to the peculiar ways in which we can fall in love. 

Maybe who you find attractive is someone with an interesting smell, or someone who wears old burgundy coats from thrift shops. Who knows. 

Just make sure you notice your own peculiarities so you can find your way to the happiness that occupies them. Tell yourself about the chairs with five legs and the books that like to be held and not read.

Oh and don’t forget to visit a thrift shop along the way. 

Just in case. 


With 6:00am coffee and book holding,


The Water Shoes

Did you know that when you choose a different life, it feels divergent? 

Unalike the one you are walking out from. 

Logically, this should not be a surprise. 

A different life should feel different. 

But as I stepped into a new chapter in my life this week I started to feel unfamiliar.

Even my body acted anew. 

I saw my reality through different eyes. 

It was as if someone put me inside another body. 

I have written many new chapters in my life, so when I was writing this next one for myself I expected it to have some of the same elements. 

Some fear, excitement, doubt and difficulty level. 

As everything is always more challenging when it's new. 

But here is what was completely different. 

The challenge part. 

It was hard but it was easy at the same time. 

Almost like I had water shoes on to walk on a pebble beach. 

I sat with this for a couple of days and tried to understand, how did these water shoes go on my feet? Why weren’t they there in previous chapters? 

How come I have never worn them before, or never thought it was an option. 

So, this is what I think happens. 

When the choice you are making is deeply right for you, then the Universe/God sends you water shoes. 

I have never had them sent to me before. Ever. 

This choice that I made for myself must have been unlike any other choice before it. 

The closest I ever got to previously was loaner water shoes.

But this time the water shoes stayed on. 

I have been wearing them since last week. 

And the longer I have them on, the more I feel this is a very different chapter. 

It feels like more than just a new beginning, more than just a chapter inside my book. 

I think it may just be a new book. 

Here’s to you choosing what you know is true for yourself and receiving your own water shoes. 

I believe there is a pair available for every person on Earth. 


With my very own water shoes,


P.S. Art by me.

The Art of Answering Your What Ifs

Sometimes the new life is hiding behind a tiny moment.

Behind just one thought. 

If you could look inside your mind you would see two words connecting the old chapter with the new one. 

These words can be missed completely if we are not paying attention to our inner experience. 

It is almost like a lottery win. 

Rare. Unexpected. 

Invisible to the naked eye and inaudible to our ears. 

But then how could we hear it or see it? 

How can we find something that is not seen or heard? 

Well, let me show you. 

Imagine you are going about your day, and wondering the same things, thinking the same thoughts. 

And just like that, a question pops up and it starts with the words... what if. 

Just... what if? 

When this happens, complete the sentence and answer the question. 

When you answer it, add, and then what? 

And then, what would happen if I did this? 

Keep going. 

Don’t stop the trail of the thread. 

That is how you jump from one chapter to the next. 

How you change your life. 

I was on a road trip from Austin to Los Angeles last week and in between Albuquerque and Sedona the what if question popped in while I was thinking about something and I stayed with it. 

I answered it. 

All the way until it became a decision which I acted upon. 

What if you did the same thing. 

Answered your what ifs? 

Then, the what would happen if you did this?

If you dared yourself, with the answer. 

We take life so seriously. 

We agonize over big decisions. 

We wait. 

We let time pass by these words, unanswered. 

When I finished the answering of my what if, I stopped at a rest area where a jewelry shop was magically there, in the middle of the desert. 

I walked in and bought a beautiful cross to signify the moment of the answering. 

You can never let your brain forget the seeing, the hearing of the unseen, and the unheard. 

May you listen in, find your what if, answer the question and make it a memorable experience. 

Will you dare? 

With many what ifs, and a few... then whats,


P.S. I hope you find your way to this week’s podcast with one of the greatest teachers I have ever met. Listen here.

Grief's Monastery

There is a place deep inside grief that can hold us without pain. 

The deepest most hidden place of the grief experience is a seat of Trinity to witness life from. 

I was trying to explain this to someone this week. She saw me looking sad and struggled believing me when I said I am very happy.

It is hard to explain that this feels good to me and not be seen as my suffering.

The nostalgia and sadness that stems from that corner is not the same as the mourning experience. 

It is not anxiety. Nor trauma or depression. 

It is a grounding and integrating of the self. 

When you have spent years in grief there is a spontaneous evolutionary experience that takes place but rarely noticed by others. 

We experience a feeling of depth, deep reflection and insight that sits in a quiet, silent elysian space. We carry that with us at work, in our craft and in our relationships. 

It is never talked about. 

When it is, it is presented as meditation, or a zen experience. 

It is not that. It is grief’s long term healing depth. 

It is grief’s version of a monk like experience. 

It is grief’s Monastery. 

Most people don’t know about the real magnitude of grief and why we need to find the precise words for it. 

I struggle when I get put in a box because it is the easiest way for someone to understand me. 

And why I light the way for the places within me and you that get by passed, dismissed and never seen. 

This tiny monastery that grief built inside of me and you is the deepest place of the soul. 

It is the most beautiful experience I have when I am there. 

The tears that stem from this place are bathed in a timeless existence of the self. 

This tiny monastery of grief inside of us is similar to a quiet church visit, a peak experience on top of a mountain. 

It is holy. It is transcendent. And universal. 

How does it look like from the outside? Sorrowful. 

How it feels from the inside? Ancient and divine. 

It is the face of our soul in human form. 

How do we get there? 

By crying all the mourning tears, all the healing tears. 

By not bypassing the magnitude of grief even when it feels like a tsunami. 

By being present in the aftermath. 

And by feeling all the pain before it. 

Grief’s monastery requires time. 

Years of pain and sorrow. 

Then moments of joy and gratitude. Life. 

When we merge it all together, going back and forth between the painful grief and the joyful life, we stumble upon that deepness of what may look like sorrow but it is not. 

It is an unspoken world of deep knowing of what it is like to live with both grief and joy. 

When you find that tiny corner of gravity where the monastery is built inside of you, don’t be fooled by the tears. 

It is your soul being seen by you. 

At long last. 


With monasteries,


P.S. This week’s Dear Life Podcast Guest is the one and only Anita Moorjani. Listen in here

P.P.S. Here is the blog version of this letter.

Have I been Faithful To Myself?

I was interviewing Dr. Parker J. Palmer, an extraordinary poet, writer, change maker. 

And in the middle of the interview, he asked me if I was faithful to my gift. 

My eyes must have widened quite a bit. 

My brain repeated. 

Faithful to my gift? 

How would that look like?

I thought about us in that moment in time. 

About all of us. 


How faithful are we to ourselves? 

I mean, have you ever thought about asking yourself this question? 

When you are in a conversation. 

In a relationship. At work. 

Every place in your life. 

Do you stay true to your specialness? 

Faithful to your gifts. 

Or do you drop yourself on the floor while trying to hold someone else up? 

Are we cheating on ourselves? 

Oh my world. What a question. 

One I had never asked myself, and why it stopped me in my tracks. 

I saw the thousands of times when I cheated on my gifts. 

And chose someone else’s. 

The times when I rejected myself while choosing another. 

What an abandonment. 

What a neglect of self to be unfaithful to the specialness of me. 

I went to bed last night thinking about this. 

Have I been faithful? 

To me. 

Have you?

Been faithful to yourself. 


With unfaithful moments,


The Two Moons

It’s late Thursday evening as I am writing to you. 

And the dark of the night makes for a deeper connection between us. 

It’s almost as if we slightly step out of space so we are closer together. 

It will be morning when you are reading this letter, night when I am writing it, and so we meet at dawn. 

Dawn has always been a sacred time, a non-local world between the sleeping and the wake. The light and the dark. The spoken and the unspoken.

The things that make us. And unmake us. 

Grief. Love. 

Remembering. Forgetting. 

It is the place where loneliness and solitude reside side by side without touching.

The place where impossible things exist. 

Unearthly worlds. Unimaginable lives. 

But somehow, this place of dawn, the in between day and night, makes everything less earthly. Less humanly. More outwardly. 

I often found grief to feel both heavier and lighter there. 

It feels as if we know we can endure it but we also know it's torture. 

During that time we can believe in both fairies and science.

In healing but also in the infinity of life’s hardship. 

I don’t think, though, I could have felt the specialness of dawn if I had not been touched by grief. Dawn without deep loss is just a place semi-dark. 

Nothing magical to it. 

Life without loss is also just a place. 

Nothing magical to it. 

In Michael Collin’s book Carrying the Fire (the third astronaut on the Apollo 11 mission) he says,

“There seems to be two moons now, the one I see in my backyard and the one I remember from up close.

Intellectually I know they are one and the same but emotionally they are separate entities.” 

I know you and I have not gone to the moon, but in many ways losing someone we love is as life changing as seeing the moon up close. 

It resembles Michael Collins' two moons experience. 

After loss. We have two views. Two lives. Two selves. (Click to tweet!)

But if you ask me, at dawn they become one.  

They find their way to each other and blend in. 

Grief becomes life, dark becomes light. 

And just like that, there is no duality, not duplicity and certainly no extremes, just us and the moon waiting for the sun. 

Preparing ourselves for the day ahead.

Today, remember how incredibly lucky we are to see two moons instead of one, to carry the fire within us, and maybe even to have the power to put it all back together at dawn. 


With carrying fire at dawn,


P.S. Read the books, listen to the podcast, and live a life full of moons.