Dr. Brene Brown says, “Stories are data with a soul.” They normalize, they create opportunities to connect, and they heal. Sharing stories matters, which is why this week, I decided to share something personal, even though that is downright unpleasant to do. As many of you know, I do a bit of guest blogging for sites like Social Work Helper and We Are the Mighty. I love the chance to talk about my work and research in mainstream spaces. Publishing research is fine (and required in my line of work), but very few people read scientific journals. Even when I write for more mainstream periodicals, I find myself hiding behind data a bit and avoiding personal pronouns with the skill of a trained academic. We love to pretend to be distanced and objective…

I tried to do things a bit differently for Task & Purpose this week. Check it out if you’re curious about the why behind some of my work.

I think we all need to keep telling our stories, uncomfortable as it may be to do so. That belief is one reason it was such a pleasure to attend the launch party for the latest issue of O-Dark-Thirty in Bethesda. I got to hear other writers read their own work and share a small excerpt from my first book. They published a story about visiting prisons in Iraq and coming home afterwards. Having work selected for a literary journal was exciting for this health scientist, and I feel like I learned a tremendous amount from the contributors who gathered to read selections.

My job was to make some recommendations for how conditions
might be improved for those women and those sleeping babies. I felt
woefully out of my depth, and knew I would depart leaving little
changed. One infant in particular was sprawled out, sleeping peacefully
with his face pressed against the hard ground. He was sleeping the
way one does when truly spent, oblivious to surroundings. His arm
reached out, just so, to brush the legs of his mother. As our gazes met,
I was struck by her sad eyes.

Read the full essay here.