Woman. Warrior. Writer.

Breathwork with Amanda Fletcher


I had grand ambitions to send this out earlier, but there are intentions, and there are the hard realities of getting the Kid from practice, grocery shopping, appointments, and then there was having to go get guinea pig bedding for Cookie.

I thought I would explain what happened when I did a breathwork session with Amanda Fletcher, a certified breathwork practitioner, writer, teacher, physical trainer, and all-around genuine and compassionate human being. I try to avoid superlatives in life, but I do think she warrants the use of these descriptors (Amazing! Great! Wonderful! etc..) because she is a brave soul. BTW this is not a paid ad.

In 2018 I got divorced from a two-decade marriage. The trauma reverberated after the papers were signed. A friend told me it was one of the worst divorces she had ever seen. It. Was. Crazy. It’s now five years on since it had kicked off and I’m out the other end and yet the dynamics of the relationship itself, the leftover trauma, still remains.

Most people who subscribe to this newsletter know that I try to situate myself within a social and historical context—this means I’m an Asian American woman living 132 years from gender equity with the privilege of education, a family support network, and basic employment with health insurance (even if I’d make more working at a grocery store).

Over the last several months, my left eye started twitching again—how my stress manifested during my divorce. While I knew divorce was trauma, the feelings were about coming to terms with staying married—despite knowing that my marriage was terrible. And for all of my ability to logically reason, I had bought into the idea that a successful marriage is measured by the superficial barometer of time. A success would have been to divorce earlier. I cognitively knew that we only act upon what we know, but at the same time, it was hard for me to move into self-forgiveness to the level required to fully feel better. In short, the eye twitch meant that the convoluted fear and anxiety, the trauma, it was still in there. And what is the idea that I haven’t fully made peace with? That I stayedI have to keep reminding myself: It’s OK that it took that long. Self-forgiveness.

I booked a breathwork session to help release buried trauma that remains in the body.

Breathwork: The Session

I sent Amanda a list of songs, hard to do as it underscored what I already knew, that I had stopped listening, singing, in short hearing during my marriage. In order to stay in a physical mindset that keeps you in a negative situation. I had to will deafness. I did sing for awhile when my child was young. But I stopped listening to music in the same way. The result was that I could recall very few certain moments of songs and sound, and really very little from the past few decades.

Then on the appointed zoom link time, as she’s in LA and I’m in HNL, Amanda led me through different exercises, some were writing, some were reflective. Some I did in private away from her, (talking to a mirror) some I did with her. I danced. I did deep breathing. Two inhales in through my mouth from my belly and then heart; one exhale out through my mouth.

After a while, I went into a deep state of calm. I felt a vibration in my hands, wrists, and arms. Big sensory moment. I’ve felt this at various times—when having sex that is really connected, when in a deep state of presence in the physical self, when my body becomes seamless with a sound or desired movement—freedom. The vibration took place in my arms, hands, and wrists—significant as I’m a writer.

I cried. Anyone who has had a deep intense massage knows how your body can release through crying. Interestingly enough, it was similar to the experience I often have in hula (I’ll write about hula in another newsletter, it has really changed my life.) It’s when the inner life becomes exposed and surfaces.

I stayed in this physical position on my back listening to music on my headphones, for a long while, thinking about my hands and arms and wrists. I thought about writing. Because frankly, the reason I even arrived at the situation of going to Amanda was because I was feeling blocked. And the reason I was feeling blocked was I couldn’t get at what I needed to write. Fact. Fiction. When we write, we can enter this type of trance state and I couldn’t get there, or maybe, it was just too uncomfortable because of the subject.

Writing is how I saved myself, time and time again. Words are what I come to in and where I find a way to belong. It is on the page, it is in the ocean, the mountains, but most profoundly, in the abstract corners of the imagination where I can find a place to exist and be. Narrative is a constant quest. The circles of story and self, to me, are always opening, closing, unfolding, rolling in, rolling out. I’m the story. The story is me. The story is the world. The world is story. The physical body is the vessel through which the story comes to flower. But there is always more.

As I was coming out of the breathwork session it occurred to me that writing, is the way I can heal and forgive. When we write, we continue to process—knowing always that trauma and life are not linear. In short, the breathwork session inspired me to share with you, Dear Reader, and discuss more esoteric elements of life. The whys on the life I’m living. I hope some of this resonates with the way that you are living too.

As for the eye twitch? Yeah, it’s still there. But it’s calmed down. And I move to think differently to quell it. Thanks, Amanda. I recommend a breathwork session with IG @theamandafletcher



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Meet Woman. Warrior. Writer. Mindy Pennybacker!

My Korean-American family cherished books and music. My mother, a pianist, read aloud to me from infancy; my grandfather took me to the Waikiki-Kapahulu Library every Saturday. Although money was scarce, he bought me books or records—a novel about a young Wyoming equestrienne’s first romance, or the Rolling Stones’ first album–that were just a little too old for me. I never mastered an instrument, but found a musical outlet in the rhythm of riding waves, which also felt like writing on water. Books transported me far away, yet, living elsewhere, I knew Hawai’i was the subject of my writer’s life.

Born and raised in Honolulu, I write a surf and ocean lifestyle column for The Honolulu Star-Advertiser exploring gender equity, public access and natural resource protection. My writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Tne New York Times, The Wall St. Journal, The Nation, Self, The Surfers’ Journal, Glamour,The Green Guide and Honolulu Weekly, and has won National Endowment for the Arts and Wallace Stegner awards.

Surfing Sisterhood Hawai‘i: Wahine Reclaiming the Waves profiles 30 local female surfers and is the first history of women’s surfing to be written by a woman. Order here or at bookstores starting June 1.

Hawai’i events:

June 24 launch @da Shop in Kaimuki, 2-4 pm

July 1 @ Bookends in Kailua, 12-1 pm

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Woman. Warrior. Writer. Grace Talusan

Meet April WomanWarriorWriter. Grace Talusan!

How did you come to author your life?

Being a writer is powerful. I’ve felt the energy in a room change because of something I’ve spoken aloud. I’ve had intense encounters with readers who have shown up at events so that they can tell me in person what my words meant to them. For many years, I wrote without any hope of an audience. That may sound sad, but it was clarifying. I developed a regular writing practice as bridge to myself. There is little in our lives that we have control over, but we can try to make choices within our circumstances. I already have so much, more than I ever dreamed of, and I try to make the best of it.

Grace Talusan is the author of The Body Papers, which won the Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing and the Massachusetts Book Award in Nonfiction. She teaches in the Nonfiction Writing Program at Brown University.

Photo by Alonso Nichols

NOTE: The Body Papers is superb. It was on the 2021 syllabus for Asian/Asian American Women’s Creative Writing Workshop.

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Woman. Warrior. Writer. Marie Mutsuki Mockett

Meet March WomanWarriorWriter. Marie Mutsuki Mockett!

How did you come to author your life?

Tayari Jones once challenged me to think of the kind of life I wanted to lead, and how writing could make this life happen for me. When I am feeling lost, I return to her question. I’m sure I want what everyone else wants, but I especially prize travel, exploring mysteries and appreciating beauty; these things bring me joy. I try to explore new interests and incorporate these into my work. When I get it right, combining these things leads to a feeling of tremendous satisfaction and freedom.

Marie Mutsuki Mockett was born and raised in California to a Japanese mother and an American father and is the author of four books. Her new novel, “The Tree Doctor,” will be published by Graywolf Press in March 2024. Her earlier book, American Harvest: God, Country and Farming in the Heartland (Graywolf Press), won the 2021 Northern California Book Award for General Nonfiction and the 2021 Nebraska Book Award for Nonfiction-Solidarity.  She was awarded the NEA-Japan US Friendship Commission, and a Fulbright to Japan for the 2022-2023 academic year.

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Woman. Warrior. Writer. Christy Passion

Meet January’s Woman. Warrior. Writer. Christy Passion!

How did you come to author your life?

Initially, writing was a voice that bore witness. Renderings of being Native Hawaiian mix raised in a blue-collar family spoke against idyllic island life. I wanted people to see beyond tourism’s depiction of Hawai’i; to see us. I’ve been told my poetry is political. I’ve learned that any woman speaking her truth will always be political. My life moves between calamity (being a critical care nurse) and come backs (plain old life). Writing poetry serves as a diffuser, allowing me to sift through intensity and reshape it. I am currently attempting my hand at fiction which does not come as natural to me as poetry does. But most of life, in my experience, starts in difficulty. Then it gets good.

Christy Passion has authored three books of poetry. Her book of poems, Still Out of Place, has won commendation from the Hawai’i Book Publishers Association. All of her books have been published by Bamboo Ridge Press. She has won the Cades Award for Literature and is a contributing author to When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through: A Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry. She is a critical care nurse at a level 1 trauma center in Honolulu, Hawai’i.

Follow her on IG @christy.passion

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Woman. Warrior. Writer. Devi S. Laskar

Meet December’s Woman. Warrior. Writer. Devi S. Laskar!

How did you come to author your life?

I credit my stubborn streak. I’ve been writing for a very long time. In 2010, through no fault of my own, I lost the bulk of my work. I had to start over. Although many people discouraged me from pursuing a writing life (in light of the real world problems that plagued my family and me) a few encouraged me to keep going — including my family. I have built back my writing life word by word, determined that no one was going to make decisions for me ever again.

Devi S. Laskar is a poet, novelist, essayist, photographer, artist, former newspaper reporter and TarHeel basketball fan. She is the author of award-winning The Atlas of Reds and Blues. Her second novel, Circa was published by Mariner Books and selected as the June 2022 Goop Book Club pick (founded by Gwyneth Paltrow). Her third novel, MidnightAt The War will be published by Mariner in  2024. She holds degrees from Columbia University, University of Illinois and UNC-CH. A native of Chapel Hill, N.C., she now lives in California with her family. You can learn more at and follow her on IG and Twitter: @devislaskar