Pieces too long? Read this monthly summary!

Are you overwhelmed by the long articles or don't have the bandwidth? Have no fear: TL; DR for JULY is here! This digest summarizes the vital bits from the previous month's "How to Live" newsletter so you don't miss a thing.


I’ve launched a members-only tier that includes a live monthly group Zoom call with me (starting in September), members-only Q&A posts, and members-only invites to local (NYC) in-person gatherings I’ll host (poker, picnics, pool, movie nights in the park, and more!)

Our first outing was for Chinese food. It was a delight!

If you want to engage more deeply, find your people, and build community in real time, become a member today!

In 1898, on the outskirts of Vienna, Austria, a psychiatric institute called the Maria Gugging Psychiatric Clinic opened its doors.

The institute had a particularly troubling past. Forty-two years after its founding, the Nazis used the site for their involuntary euthanasia program, Aktion T4. This program called for experimenting and exterminating people with mental or physical disabilities. The Nazis abused and murdered hundreds of people with mental health conditions at Gugging.

That the clinic survived and then thrived is a miracle unto itself.

In the 1950s, Dr. Leo Navratil was a psychiatrist at the clinic. To better understand his patients, he inadvertently created a way to humanize mental illness, expand therapeutic forms, and contribute to the Art Brut movement.

Devoted to his work, he read and researched ways to help his unresponsive patients. After reading Karen Machover's book, Personality Projection in the Drawing of the Human Figure, he created a nonverbal measure to assess and diagnose personality and mental states. He asked his patients to draw a person.

What his patients did in response forever changed the landscape of mental health care.

Years ago, at a stoop sale in Brooklyn, I grabbed a particularly unsullied copy of a book called Already Free by a Buddhist Psychologist, Bruce Tift.

This book would change my life.

Already Free explores how using two opposing ideologies and practices—Western psychology and Buddhism—can help people who feel stuck, keep repeating destructive patterns, have trouble maintaining successful relationships, feel disengaged, uninspired, or want a more satisfying life.

Many people believe that the freedom they seek lies somewhere in the future, outside themselves, only to be felt once their suffering is relieved.

But the premise of Tift’s book is that freedom is here, now, all around us, all the time.

This idea that we spend our lives trying to get somewhere and become something we already are is very appealing. I mean, talk about cutting the line! BRING ME TO THE FRONT BRUCE!

That concept pairs well with the idea that everything is neutral until we give it meaning.

When we feel things we don’t want to, we try to flee from these emotions as though they were separate entities from our bodies. These emotions are not just inside us; they’re a part of us, and trying to banish them means exiling a part of ourselves.

This book is about that exiled part and how facing it frees you.

The July 19th piece was about when Helen Keller was accused of plagiarism.

In the fall of 1891, eleven-year-old Helen Keller wrote a short story called "The Frost King" as a birthday gift for Michael Anagnos, the Director of Perkins School for the Blind.

Anagnos, highly impressed by the story, published it in the Perkins alumni newsletter.

This triggered a cascade of events, resulting in an accusation of plagiarism against Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan of fraud. The resulting “trial” over the story that gained national attention was worse.

A group of eight experts questioned the twelve-year-old girl regarding the sources of her inspiration. Was the resemblance between Keller's "The Frost King" and Margaret Canby's "Frost Fairies" coincidental?

Each “expert” passionately argued for or against Keller's culpability.

Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, came to her aid.

Here’s the letter he wrote her…

The July 26th, 2023 piece was about ending therapy after 23 years with the same person.

SPOILER: this edition of HTL revealed that I have a pseudonym named Fiona Rosenbloom, who released an updated version of her 2005 book, You Are SO Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah. Buy it for your favorite tween now!

On Wednesday, July 19th, at 5:15 pm, after 23 years together, I had my last therapy session with my beloved therapist, R.

I started seeing her in 2000.

There were times I took months off, and for the past two years, I’ve seen her only twice a month, but for 23 years, R has been my ride-or-die.

She was the most consistent thing in my life, my longest relationship, and ultimately, a bonus mother.

So why did it end?

I successfully individuated.


Our pal, Carl Jung, originated the concept of Individuation, separating from others while maintaining one’s unique identity and sense of self.

It took me decades to trust my experience and act on my intuition. It took me decades to tolerate uncertainty and to end platonic friendships and romantic relationships with people who couldn’t tolerate my feelings or respect my boundaries.

Having reached those markers, I felt ready to go at life alone.

Here’s how I did it and how my therapist reacted.


The New Yorker dedicated an entire issue to therapy, and I couldn’t be happier.

The Retrievals is a new and utterly brilliant (albeit painful) 5-part Serial Productions podcast hosted by This American Life producer and author Susan Burton.

Until next week, I remain…



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Nope, I'm not a therapist or a medical professional; I’m just a human trying to figure out how to live.

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