New Year’s Day 2021

Now that 2020 is officially a matter for historians, it’s worth reflecting that we’ve seen two general reactions to the year’s passing. The first is “good riddance”, and the second is the sober realization that 2020 is gone, but everything else that made it a difficult year—COVID included—is still with us.


(Written on the road on New Year’s Eve.) This year is drawing to a close. I’m thinking about all the ways I’m going back to places I’ve been before. As I write this, I’m on my way back to my Illinois hometown. My sister is driving us back from Rochester, Minnesota. Our Dad has been […]

Thursday Review: “Restoring the Patient’s Voice: The Therapeutics of Illness Narratives”

The bulk of my work is wrapped up in teaching how stories can be useful in clinical situations. I believe that stories and storytelling make life better and more meaningful. I tend, though, to downplay narrative work that can’t explicitly help doctors, nurses, and administrators serve patients more effectively. I suppose that comes from a […]

Thursday Review: “The Meaning Of Healing: Transcending Suffering”

I enjoy work like Thomas R. Egnew’s article, published in The Annals of Family Medicine. Egnew asks a simple but profound question, and the answers open up new avenues for understanding the role storytelling plays in a medical relationship. If healing is a part of medicine, why is there no operational definition of healing, nor […]

Reunited for the Holidays

The beginnings of what would become MeaningWell happened when Dr. David Thoele invited me to join the Narrative Medicine Committee at Advocate Children’s and Advocate Lutheran Hospital. My first meeting happened to be their 2016 holiday party.

The Examined Life Conference 2017

The Examined Life Conference is a gathering for the medical humanities hosted by The University of Iowa’s Carver College of Medicine. The conference is focused mainly on the intersection of writing and medicine, and is cross-pollinated with the literary chops of organizations like The Iowa Writers’ Workshop and The Iowa Review. Dr. David Thoele, the […]

To Begin: What Illness Takes

Hello, world (from Southern California)! My wife recently took a position at the University of Southern California, so I’m writing this from sunny Los Angeles. I’ve been using the ideas ideas for MeaningWell in practice for a few years: that knowing how to tell a good story and listen to one even better can cement […]