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Category: spirituality

The Tenderness that Tears Me Apart

“Becoming a parent brings you this sadness you never would have known otherwise,” said a dear friend to me on the phone, as I pushed my toddler in her stroller through the sharp wind and shushed my newborn baby, who was zipped up inside my coat in her carrier. And I felt that delicious sense of recognition, of discovering someone else feels the way I feel. And while I don’t wish sadness upon my friends, it is incredible to have a peek into someone else’s tangled thoughts and feelings and find they look a little bit like mine. Before I became a parent, people told me that motherhood would open me up to more joy than I thought possible. But no one mentioned it would also hurt—that the hard times would hurt and the joy itself would hurt, in an aching, stretching sort of way. Kind of like the growing pains of childhood, or the opening pains of early labor, when it’s more of a dull ache. Like when I crawl into my toddler’s bed to wake her up in the morning, and she wraps her arms around…

Multiple Perspectives on Warrior Girl’s Birth – Which is the Better Story?

Warrior Girl is 2 years and 3 months old now, and as I prepare for her sister’s upcoming birth, (did I mention we’re having a GIRL?!?) memories of Warrior Girl’s birth are fresh on my mind. It was one of the most incredible days of my life, because it was the day I met my daughter and the day I became a mother.  But in addition to that, part of what was incredible was the actual process of giving birth. Reader beware: the story below contains talk of cervix, dilation, etc. Oh, and one F-bomb. Because birth is messy, people. Turn back now if you don’t want the details. *** My water broke at 11:30 pm on August 4th. It was the full-on gush that happens frequently in movies and much less frequently in real life. I was suddenly confronted with many of my fears about giving birth and remember vividly thinking What have I gotten myself into? I laid in bed that night analyzing every cramp and twinge, waiting for labor to start. Was that a contraction? What the hell does a contraction even feel like? I got a…

Speaking of Mindfulness…

Speaking of mindfulness, I just got out of the shower and discovered I had only shaved one leg. And I have two. Legs, that is. On an unrelated note, also speaking of mindfulness, I opted to eat 5 mini-snickers after a pretty heavy therapy session the other day. But! I knew I was emotionally eating while I emotionally ate. Hence, mindfulness. Today, I also opted to be aware I was emotionally eating while I emotionally ate a large quantity of Lays and french onion dip. Then I demanded to my husband that he should let me unilaterally name our baby this amazing name I made up, which he thinks sounds like a brand of eye drops, and while we’re at it, he should also let me decorate our apartment exactly the way I want it with no input from him. As I said it, I knew I was being ridiculous. So yes, I was being pretty mindful. He laughed, which is the only kind response when your wife is getting a bit nutty and approaching the third trimester of pregnancy (are those two things related?). It’s so great to be a self-aware wreck. On…

Living Gracefully With Regret

“No regrets.” It’s a phrase I will probably never understand. All I think when I see a meme like this:   this, or this is….seriously? For real, bro? There’s nothing in your past you wish you could change? On the one hand, there is the whole, “I ate 3 more tacos after I was full… no regrets” kind of no regrets. You know, or the “I danced ‘The Macarena’ in front of my entire office…no regrets” kind of no regrets. But what about times we have just plain screwed up? When I hear these inspirational quotes about how you should have no regrets, because your choices have made you who you are today, and mistakes are just lessons learned, I am left thinking, “yeah, but what about the impact our choices have on other people?”  Yes, the other humans who inhabit this planet. We don’t live in a vacuum; our choices have consequences for us and for other people as well. If I could go back and change the ways I have hurt people, I would do it in…

When the Only Way Out Is Through

When I was nearing time to give birth to Warrior Girl, they were going to induce me because labor hadn’t started some 12 hours after my water broke. Consequently, they had me lying in the bed hooked up to a fetal monitor. Nurses kept coming in to adjust things and check me, looking rushed and somewhat concerned. I hated it. I wasn’t even technically in labor, but I felt every little cramp and pain lying in that bed. Fortunately, I went into labor literally moments before they were about to induce me. Once they determined I didn’t have to be induced, I was out of bed like a rocket, power walking the halls like “I’m in labor ya’ll!”  Some hours later, I was in the bathtub feeling calm and serene when I suddenly vomited multiple times in a row and felt overwhelmed with an energy that tore through me and made me feel like I was climbing the walls. It occurred to me, this is transition. This is when people who weren’t planning to get an epidural ask for one.  But the thought of lying on…

Paradigm-Shattering Experiences: Mind=Blown

(Image Credit llreadll) One time, my friend had what I like to call “a moment of clarity.” That is, a moment of awakening, a moment in which she was at peace, a moment in which her thinking mind had stopped trying to figure out ALL THE THINGS, and paradoxically, it all made sense. How do I know this? Because for about 60 seconds, she had a look of wonder on her face. And then panic. Then she said something to the effect of, “But how do you hold on to this?” Which is nothing but the hallmark of a fleeting experience of awakening. And it’s frequently those very words, thought or verbalized, which bring it to an end. I could never forget being there when this happened for my friend. My friend, on the other hand, had completely forgotten about it two years later. How could that be? I like to think of our minds as containing a vast maze of filing cabinets. All incoming data is processed through the dependable-yet-conventional filing lady, Mildred. Mildred always wears sensible shoes. She is very kindly, and she isn’t taking any chances with our well-being. She does…

In Which I Overthink a Simple Nursery Rhyme

Row, Row, Row Your Boat: Wisdom for the ages. An exploration of the nothing matters/everything matters paradox. A beautiful image of the unfolding of wisdom, of awakening. For me, this nursery rhyme ranks up there with advice from the spiritual masters. Also, I tend to get all awkwardly deep about random, casual things and I thought the internet was the perfect place to unleash my weirdness on this topic. Let’s break it down, shall we? Only let’s do it backwards. Life is but a dream… During moments of clarity, across time and cultures, people have been struck with a realization that the world as we know it is illusion. We only interact with the world though our paradigms, what we view as solid is shifting, who we think we are is not real, we see only “through a glass darkly.” We realize all we stress about and strive for and obsess over is only “dust in the wind” and all our busy comings and goings cannot change the Truth of Our Being. When this happens, it is like a 2×4 to the head which puts everything into perspective…

Yes, Goodness and Courage Exist. Here are 10 Books that Taught Me So.

When I was an undergraduate in psychology, we learned some less-than-pleasant things about human nature. We learned about how “bad barrels” (situations) can produce “bad apples” (behaviors/people), about how people frequently stand by and watch atrocities without intervening, and how pressure to conform can cause people to do terrible things you would never think them capable of. Ultimately, fear of personal risk, pressure to conform, a feeling of powerlessness, and a belief that someone else will handle the situation (passing the buck) lead otherwise good people to allow horrific things to happen, or even participate in making such things happen. I found all of this to be useful in helping me understand the world we live in, one in which people do terrible things… all. the. time. In that same class, we debated whether altruism (doing something for purely selfless motives) even exists, since we benefit via warm fuzzies and in other ways when we help people. I come out firmly on the side of yes. Yes, altruism exists. Yes, people can do what is right. I have seen it in person, and I have read of it happening. The books below…

Why We Secretly Hate and Fear Making Choices

(Image credit Julie Manzerova) Remember growing up, and rolling your eyes as your parents droned, “With privilege comes responsibility” for the hundredth time? Or is that just me? Most of us humans believe we deeply value and desire freedom. This is certainly part of the story, but the reality is rather more counterintuitive. In practice, freedom creates a “dizzying” (as Kierkegaard would put it) array of possibility and choices that invoke incredible anxiety in most of us. This can certainly be seen among Millennials like myself, many of whom grew up around the idea that you can be anything you want to be, and that you should pursue your passion. But what if you don’t know what your passion is? What if there are twenty-three things you could potentially imagine doing? What if you’re the type who doesn’t want to miss a single opportunity and thus struggles to settle for one (or two, or three) careers at a time? (While particularly relevant to our time, these ideas are not new. For example, in the 1940’s and 50’s the existential psychologist Rollo May and his contemporary…

The Great Surrender Experiment

Here’s the thing: I do not like to leave things up to fate/the universe/God/whatever. I am not one of those “go with the flow” people, one of those “let go and let God” people. I am more one of those “If I can’t create a 30-step plan to make it happen, it must be impossible and therefore will not happen,” people. I have always actually believed that: that if I can’t see every step of the way for how an outcome might be achieved, it cannot be achieved. Yes, I know how arrogant that sounds. Much of what I have accomplished to this point has been through sheer force of will, for the most part, and brute effort. Very bootstrappy, if you know what I mean (towards myself, mind you. I will never tell you to pull yourself up by your bootstraps. Unless your boot is falling off). In many ways it has worked well: I have a master’s degree, a fulfilling career, and beautiful daughter who I got pregnant with by obsessively analyzing my cycle and fertility signs. On the other…