Plugged In, Tuned Out & Back Again

popcorn.jpgFor me, procrastination is an issue, but when I really need down-time (the time when responsibilities are on hold, the dishes can wait and I don’t have to think about anything seriously), I tend to pop in a movie.  Let’s just say I watched quite a few movies over the weekend.  I even took a mommy date to the movies, alone.

The movies are over and the responsibilities resumed, but I notice a common theme in the movies I watched and the movies I love most.  They’re all about women’s lives, the emotions, the trials, the triumphs, the friends and the families.

Driving home from seeing Four Christmases, I thought about movie moms.  Now, in all honesty, I had also just watched The Women at home before I left (since it was due back that day).  When was the last time a movie truly captured what being the average mother is like?  And by average mother, I mean someone who doesn’t have six-figure income, a live-in housekeeper (or one at all) or a nanny.  When was the last time a major motion picture actually depicted a true birth and what a mom really looks like hours after the baby is born, the awkward first attempts at breastfeeding?  (Though I must give thanks to Four Christmases for giving breastfeeding such prominence, despite the negative connotations.)

I’m grateful that we have films like The Business of Being Born and Orgasmic Birth to highlight true birth.  I’m sure there are films out there about real life, true mothering, that I just haven’t seen because they haven’t made it into mainstream.  It’s too easy just to grab the latest blockbuster than to research a truly good film that might actually invoke thought during the movie.

That’s not to say I don’t appreciate the drama of the movies, that which adds fiction or exaggerates an aspect of life to make it more interesting, comedic and/or romantic.  Honestly, I don’t think I would have loved Under the Tuscan Sun so much had the movie just followed the book.  And even movies about ridiculously wealthy women, I suppose, gives me insight into another way of life.  Perhaps some day I might shop in Saks or drive a Lexus, but I won’t consider myself a failure if that day never comes.  After all, why watch a movie about real life when we have our own lives to live?

Next time I movie binge, I’ll try to remember that the movies I watch will affect me in some way, no matter how tuned out I may think I am.  That’s just the way energy works.  Hopefully I’ll be encouraged to live even better.

full disclosure of movies watched this weekend in order of my preference:
Amelie (in foreign films section)
The Women (the new version w/ Meg Ryan as Mary Haines)
Four Christmases
Becoming Jane

the kids watched:
Horton Hears a Who
The Wild
Aloha Scooby Doo
(because my kids’ life isn’t complete without some Scooby)

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Waaa-hooooo!

pregnant_belly.jpgPregnancy is an exhilarating time — all the anticipation, excitement and sacredness of what’s happening within.  Then there’s birth.  Ah, words can only try to capture what happens. We understand what’s going on physiologically, but for every woman, there’s a different psychological and spiritual story unfolding.  Let us not forget postpartum.  After all this excitement and focus on the mother, now the focus is on the baby; the woman that was once treated like royalty in her pregnant state is now a slave to this infant who is solely dependent upon her.  Hopefully she had a wonderful birth experience and developed the mama bear bond with her babe and gives of her time and body with a happy heart, for what wouldn’t she do for this new love in her life?

For the past week in my blogging absence, I’ve been working with our BirthNetwork for the BOLD Red Tent and the play “Birth.”  My time and energy were absorbed in the planning and nurturing of the events, and I had to draw some boundaries for myself (coincidental that that was my last blog topic, eh?).  Then, one by one, the events were born.  I suppose we had triplets!  Two Red Tents and one “Birth” play.  The events were fabulous, and I have earned a new level of respect for the women in my community and the talent and generosity therein.  I was amazed at the beauty of sharing, the diversity of stories, the openness of women’s hearts given the space and even amazed at my own ability to help pull something like this together — not by myself but with the help of others.

Now in our postpartum phase of the BOLD events, I miss the excitement, anticipation and connection with other women.  Those elements are too few in our society.  Yet it was a lovely birth, and I come away knowing that I have much work to do for improvement in maternity care.  In the words of one of my former midwives, I’ll “do it with a happy heart.”

I believe our lives are meant to serve, and I’ll consider it a blessing to serve the wonderful women in our community.  May we all be blessed with beautiful births, whether it be of children or of creative endeavors, and may we all feel the support of one another.

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Boundaries

For women, this topic is HUGE.  Boundaries?  What is this of which you speak?

As women, I feel there’s a general expectation that we are to be loving and compassionate to all, and little thought is given toward our personal, individual well-being.  Champions are the women who sacrifice everything for the sake of others.  Selfish snobs are those who have a defined sense of their personal space and time.  Shame on us for letting such boxes be drawn.

For all that we do, may we do it with love, but may we first make sure there is love for ourselves.  My work with Time for JOY has taught me that our offerings to others are more enriched if they come from someone who has nourished her own spirit.  (After all, JOY stands for Jesus, Others, and Yourself.)

I just spoke with a friend moments ago who canceled an early-morning obligation because stress was rising too high.  I had to commend her boundary-setting.  I know how hard it is to say no.  I don’t do it often enough; just ask my husband.

One of my fears of boundaries is that I will limit my ability to receive a true gift or <gasp> will let someone down.  Other times I’m afraid that if I don’t do something for cause x, no one will.

Fortunately, I’m working through those apprehensions.  I know that Spirit is stronger and smarter than me . . . and much more patient and persistent.

We do well to make sure that we are in a good place in every step.  First, be healthy, strong and wise, and then give and grow.  The cycle is something like that, right?

Have a wonderful weekend, and don’t forget to
 
header_subpages.gifFor more information about BOLD events in Northwest Arkansas, visit BirthNetworkNWA‘s site.

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Falling into Reflection

bridge_autumn_fall_234841_l.jpgThe air gets cooler every morning now, and while it’s not officially autumn yet, the leaves in places on our cherry tree are turning a deep red.  Being a fall baby, I always feel like I’m coming home as it turns cooler and the skies are gray.  It’s a time to be honest with myself and others, a great time for reflection.

In a dream night before last, I was talking with my midwives about my new pregnancy.  (Just in the dream was I pregnant, so no one needs to get concerned about me having 5 kids!)  Of course I’ll be having “pregnant” dreams now; I’ve just started two new journeys — one the women’s spirituality group (which meets Wednesday nights) and the other a Servant Leadership course (which meets Monday nights).  Also right now we’re having rehearsals for the play “Birth” by Karen Brody for our local BOLD events.  The time is ripe for potentiality even though the light will be less and the earth will be retreating into slumber.  It’s a good time to go inward.

For a reality check, where are you in your journey of life, of spirit, of health?  It’s time to be open to new discoveries, to be aware of what Spirit might reveal.  O, if only that could be how I live every day!

Blessed be.

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“Intuitive, Brash Hope”

Despite the boys’ bickering noise and the monkey brain I was having yesterday during our priest’s sermon, I managed to listen to most of his message.  One thing he said shined through the rest.

“. . . Live with intuitive, brash hope . . . even though you know you will fail.”

Even today, it makes me sigh, not as in “oh, well, there’s no use,” but in an “okay, full speed ahead” sort of way.

At first I thought of all my activisms — mother-friendly birth, women’s spirituality, sustainability and such.  These struggles are huge and up against great walls of consumerism and ego.  The chances of me doing anything significant are small, almost infinitely so.  Now, as part of the larger organizations I’m associated with, our chances are much greater.  I’m inclined to be more daring, more hopeful.  Now I find another meaning in the words.  I can live with my intuitive, brash hope in these ideal causes because I know they are good ones.  I also know I will fail, my ego will be dissolved in the effort, especially if the obstacles are overcome.  Life is just ironic like that.

But what about my life as a whole?  Two stories came my way yesterday.

One was as I shared this bit of the sermon with my husband.  He said, “Yeah, (our friend) said his wife devoted her life to activism, and then she died.”  Was I to take this as a sort of dramatic foreshadowing?  Or could it be emphasis to the point I mentioned earlier?  Would I change my lifestyle, do anything different if I knew I wasn’t to live much longer, or would I live even more brashly?  (When I think of “brash,” I think of it more as without shame.)

The second story came from a woman in my writing workshop class (yes, I made it to another one!).  She said that us younger women needed to write while we were young and full of passion, that opinions grew less potent as we age.  She said that a friend told her once she reached 57 that she wasn’t as full of fire as she had been when she was younger.  “Write now.  Write while you have these strong opinions.”  Was she really telling me this?

It felt like a long weekend, and to receive so much in one day leaves one much to consider.  So here I am, writing, sharing, learning and hopefully growing.  I continue in my activism, and my activism is fueled by my intuition.  With a deep breath, I go forward from here.  I’ll consider it a blessing to have my ego die, and when it comes the day for my body to die, may it be said that I lived with “intuitive, brash hope” that good would prevail.

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What’s Your Style?

Can your friends and family see you coming from far away just by what you’re wearing?  As soon as you start talking on the phone, does the person on the other end of the line know it’s you?  Do people feel comfortable in your home, if for no other reason than because you are comfortable there?

You can take style surveys all day, but when it comes down to it, only you know what speaks to your soul.  You know what makes you comfortable, what makes you feel like a queen, and only you know what makes you feel like . . . well, what makes you feel really badly.  So, why waste your time?  Rather, let’s take some time to find what echoes the sentiments that is the music of our being.

How?  Here’s an example.  Go through your closet.  Are you really going to lose weight?  Would you even wear that if you did?  When’s the last time you wore it?  If you didn’t wear it last season, you’re not going to wear it this one.  Does it make you feel loved and beautiful?  GIVE IT AWAY!!!  You have to give to receive, and the more you do it, the easier it is.  Now, when blessings and opportunities come your way, fill your closet only with what you truly need and only with items (from undergarments to clothes to shoes) that make your heart sing.  Now, when you wake up in the morning, you’ll have lots to choose from, and you’ll be dressed in a style that suits you . . . if you’re honest with yourself.  No one but you knows if you’re being truly honest, but everyone will know if you’re comfortable and confident.

When I was in high school, I bought Levi’s at a thrift store and packages of white pocket T-shirts.  Jeans and T-shirts and Birkenstocks.  That was my favorite outfit.  Four kids later, I still love jeans and a white T, but jeans right now fit a little too snug at the waist.  I feel more feet_rings_toerings_313512_l.jpgbeautiful in a flowing skirt and pretty shirt, and I have a few other outfits I love.  Comfort for me is key to my style, not fashion.

What about accessories?  For me, I only have a few pairs of earrings, each with their own meaning and an energy they give me for that day.  Every necklace that I’ve had and worn because it meant so much has broken or been broken.  I figured I was too attached, and it was its own lesson.  Everything we wear carries a message with it, offers a window into our being, even if on some days the meaning isn’t very deep (i.e., “these were on sale at the store and match this shirt”).

As for your personal life style, you know your disposition.  Are you optimistic?  Sincere?  A pessimist?  A cynic?  Do you prefer Victorian or contemporary?  Intelligent?  Practical?  A ditz?  (I know, some days vary!)  Do you reflect this in your voice, your expressions?  I don’t have to ask if this plays into your relationships.

I’ve asked a lot of questions, but really there’s only one here.  How well do we know ourselves?  Our true self.  The one that when you come to end of all your days, you know that this is who you are, who you’ve really been in every moment.  May you live fully into that being.  Can we be so honest with ourselves?

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A Selfish Mother

She looks like an ordinary woman, except maybe her quick smile and honest eyes.  Before long you notice her children, the whole lot of them.  Now she’s a mother, and from the looks of it, she has her hands full; she has your sympathy.  Then you start to talk to her.  She’s kind and smart.  The more you talk, though, you notice that you start to hear some of her interests but the list keeps going.  Wait a minute.  She’s a mom, right?  She doesn’t have time to be doing all that stuff.  What about being a mom, being there for the kids?

This might be how I describe a selfish mom.  At least, it’s how I might, hypothetically speaking, describe myself if I were to meet her for the first time.  How should I feel about this?  How do you feel when you realize that your commitments in the day take the focus off of the kids?  Maybe this doesn’t happen to you, but you’ve probably met women like this.

Are mothers so stereotyped that we have a guilt complex if we don’t fit the bill?  Isn’t that why working mothers often experience or receive so much grief?

I know mothers who seem like the “perfect” mom.  They have lots of kids, homeschool all of them (though some send them to school), and every moment of their life seems to be for and with their kids or the family as a whole.  I admire that . . . because that’s not something I can do.

First, I was a young woman.  Then I became a wife and mother.  Always, I will be a woman through it all.  I cannot imagine my life when I forget that I have my own being to nurture, too.  The wife and mother that I am suffers when the woman that I am is not loved, supported, growing.  Can you relate to that?

Rather than calling ourselves selfish, why don’t we just say that we’re wonderful women, and as such, we make better mothers.  Maybe then the “perfect” moms can pause and take a breath for themselves.  Or maybe they are so perfect because they already know how to do so in each breath, and I just didn’t notice, being too busy judging and all.

Let’s sit back and enjoy the day, our kids, all the shtuff we do for everything and everybody.  While you’re at it, mark a day in your calendar for a date with yourself.  Do something nice for you.  I plan to go to a writing workshop on Sunday, that will make my second one.  Indulgent?  Perhaps.  Necessary?  Absolutely.

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Tell Us About Your Birth Experience — Launch of The Birth Survey

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Today CIMS (Coalition for Improving Maternity Services) nationally releases The Birth Survey.  The major effort to make maternity care transparent is underway, and your story makes a difference.

Why?

  • Pregnancy, a naturally occurring part of a woman’s life, is treated like a medical condition.  The baby is a human, not a tumor, and in a majority of pregnancies, there are few risk factors.  Many of the obstetrical interventions, however, increase the likelihood that a woman will have complications from her pregnancy/birth.

  • The rate of interventions is more determined by the facility or provider than the woman herself.

  • In places where statistics for interventions and quality of care have been made publicly available, maternity care has been highly receptive to quality improvement, most likely because there were so many simple improvements to make.

CIMS, Lamaze International, Citizens for Midwifery and other birth advocacy organizations strive to improve the quality of maternity care — to make it truly mother-friendly — and believe that through transparency, the change will come.

How?

  • When you go to buy a new camera, you read the reviews, check the sites rating the hundreds of cameras you have to choose from and talk to your friends to see what they’ve had the best experience with.  Is choosing your maternity care provider any different?

  • But when you go to look for a doctor or midwife, apart from checking the listings and talking to your friends, you’re not going to find which one has the best rates, provides the features that are most important to you — whether that be in natural pain management, low episiotomy rates or successful cesareans.

  • So, The Birth Survey aims to list the providers and facilities.  We’re collecting data so you can have a “features” list, the statistics for interventions.  And, we’re hoping you will share your experience so that others can learn from you, even outside your immediate circle of friends or those who bump into you at the grocery store.  (We know you’ll tell your story to anyone who will listen!)

Take a step toward making mother-friendly care a reality for all.  Take the survey (if you’ve given birth within the past three years).  Tell your friends.  Let’s paint the picture of what maternity care is really like so we know how to keep it good but to make it even better.

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Even If You’ve Seen This Before . . .

It’s worth seeing again.  Brush up on your art appreciation, or just appreciate the art itself.  Imagine the story each woman could tell, that each image does tell.  The creator of this video, eggman913, deserves full recognition.  I love this.

Women In Art

(I’ll embed it after I learn how to do that . . . again!)

Have a beautiful day.

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Share a Story . . . Yours

These past few weeks I’ve spent more time thinking . . . and reading . . . rather than writing.  I wouldn’t say that my well was dry or that I’ve spent time filling it.  I’d say I’ve been listening, which is the largest component in discernment.

In the coming weeks, I’m going to be working on a new site design, or branding, if you will.  I’m going to come up with a more consistent schedule of topics to reflect what is most dear to our hearts.  And probably most importantly, I want to work on building our community, sharing our stories so that we encourage each other along our journey, provide a little direction, maybe, if we need assistance.  Whether you’re a maid, matron or crone, you are welcome here, and I’m sure you have inspiring stories to share.  Contact me, and we’ll see how and if it fits.  Communication is what it’s all about.  Either leave comments or e-mail me — sara at everydaysimple dot org.  (trying to prevent spam!)

Together our stories weave a beautiful tapestry.  Collectively our creativity fluorishes.  Journeying together, the Divine is ever-present.  That is what being a woman is all about.

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