So the former science teacher in me has to concede to daughter of a math teacher that is equally alive in me - Life is a Sine Wave NOT an Inclined Plane (Sorry simple machines)
(And, yes this is another spin on the "Life is a Journey Not a Destination" theme. What can I say, at the core of most cliches are undeniable, sparkling truths.)
I've learned this lesson over and over again in my life:
Homesickness - it's not something that you "beat" one time and then you're done with it. It comes and goes in waves.
Children's development - Often kids will try something new or seem to reach a developmental stage only to stop or seemingly "regress". This could be food or a skill or anything really. It could be their moods. It could be their ability to sit through a church service. It all waxes and wanes.
Relationships - Again, I think about my children. Marisol's "adjustment" to being a big sister was not a one-time event. Her relationship with her brother is like all human relationships - it has its ups and downs. As their parent I can do many things to help them understand and weather these different phases of their relationship. And of course we can see similar trends in all of our relationships.
Energy - Our overall energy ebbs and flows. Honestly, after a rip-roaring start to 2013, March was a little bit subdued for me. I had days in which I struggled. I felt very emotional. In the midst of this different energy I did some things that helped a lot though. I connected more with my loved ones. I meditated. I took more time away from the computer. And in the past few days I've felt the energy coming back up. (Hooray for Spring and new beginnings!)
These are just a couple of the examples that jump to my mind. But really we can see this idea in just about everything in our lives. It's about the flow and change and different seasons in life. The only constant thing is change.
And actually a simple Sine Wave doesn't even tell the whole story. Because even a Sine Wave is very predictable and regular. But in actuality life may look more like this:
Sometimes we stay close to our "baseline" so that it almost looks like we are on an even keel. And sometimes we stray from our baseline a LOT (look at those huge waves and crests! My what a large Amplitude you have there, Grandma Sine Wave... oh wait, never mind.)
But what about our baseline? Are we not in control of this at least a little bit? I believe we are. We can raise our energy level (what some call our vibration). This might look something like this:
That's why it's so important to take care of ourselves and notice what helps us feel good in our everyday lives.
But, I also am finding how important it is to not fight things. Someone told me recently that feelings are neither good nor bad - that we should let ourselves feel them so we can process them and release them. This has been a very helpful idea to me recently. What does this have to do with my Sin Wave analogy? Well, I guess it means that I let it happen. That it's ok to have dips and troughs in my emotional landscape. I definitely try to "fight" my feelings sometimes and it just isn't helpful. Partly because I'm trying to beat feeling bad with my mind.
But if I can surrender to the feelings, while continuing to make choices that I *know* from experience are good for me, then I can ride it out. And then my baseline level of feel good can rise back up more easily.
So there you have it. Life is a Sine Wave.
What are things you do when you're feeling low? Have you found things that help you bounce back quicker, or do you just need to let life run its course?
"I must be a mermaid...
I have always loved that quote and it still resonates with me.
I think a lot. I analyze more. I'd say "thoughtful" is a characteristic that pretty well describes me. I've always felt "wise for my years" - although the longer I live the more I realize how little I know, and that growth will always be a part of my journey.
But last night as we finished up watching "The Bachelor" and I had a Facebook "conversation" with a couple of friends about the show, I realized that I'm not really a mermaid... I'm a sperm whale (I know it's not as exotic as a mermaid, but come on, the image and the word "sperm" must make you giggle a little!)
I've talked about this with some of my friends. One of my best friends told me that she can "only" be friends with people who would subscribe to the Wall Street Journal and US Weekly. (We only subscribe to one of those in our house - luckily she's still my friend.) The point being, we can't take life too seriously ALL. THE. TIME. It's good to be thoughtful, deliberate, and be AWAKE in our lives. And that takes some effort. We have to examine ideas, question "truths" that have been fed to us our whole lives, identify what's most important to us.
When we grapple with these issues we're like the sperm whale diving deep into the ocean and wrestling with a colossal squid that will hopefully be it's dinner.
The sperm whale can dive down almost 2 miles and stay under for almost an hour and a half if it needs to. But eventually it needs to come to the surface to breathe. We all do.
And those long, deep dives aren't even the best for the whale's health (I just learned a lot from Wiki-pedia! My base knowledge of sperm whales came from "Wild Kratts" though - thank you PBS Kids.)
And just like the deepest dives are hard on the whale, we can't be serious all the time. It's not good for us! Laughter is good; and, combined with lightness, fun, and connecting with others, it's not just good, it's life-sustaining.
I need to remind myself not to take everything so seriously all the time. I do pretty well in my everyday life - my kids won't let me stay too serious (I mean a day can't go by without a huge belly laugh from my boy and a sparkly smile from my girl!) As a writer I seem to like to stay down in the depths, wrestling with my own giant squid ideas. It's where I'm comfortable. But I like to push my comfort zones, so I'm going to try and share even more of myself here, and include the silly, immature, and "shallow" parts of me. I hope you'll join me!
Can you guess which we subscribe to, the WSJ or US weekly? (Family and friends, please don't give it away!) How do you make sure that you come up for air and lighten up when things get too serious?
This is an invitation. To stop and reconsider ideas that you have held tightly, maybe for a long time. To ask questions. To look at someone else who holds a different idea, belief, or conviction than you do, with eyes of love. To speak honestly and with love and to listen earnestly and open your heart.
I'm not sure why I'm called to write on this particular topic at this specific point in time. Perhaps it is the strong relationship between my last post on NFP, contraception, pregnancy, abortion, and how all of these relate to women's empowerment and the world we live in. And of course there is the imminent election - abortion keeps popping up on my radar as the election approaches. (Of course I already kind of gave away where my presidential vote is going here!)
In the interest of full-disclosure (gotta walk the honest walk!) I will state up front that I definitely identify more strongly with the "pro-life" movement at this point in my life. But I have considered myself "pro-choice" at other times. I also have experience talking with close loved ones about abortion - those on either side of the issue - and I know that it can be discussed both passionately AND compassionately.
That being said I believe that part of the problem is the "dichotomy" of "pro-choice" versus "pro-life". This is not a simple issue and even people who call themselves one or the other, may have very different views or ideas than people in the same "camp" as them.
Frozen fingers hover over the keyboard. Where to start? Which "side"? What is THE ANSWER? I'm afraid I don't have the answer but I do have more questions. As with many controversial issues, if you start to read about abortion you will quickly start down an endless rabbit hole of information and of course, opinions. For someone like myself (a Gemini of two minds, wishy-washy, open-minded, undecided - whatever you wish to call me) this can be very confusing as you click, read, and follow the infinite path. (Comments, as always, are particularly deadly! Beware.) Instead of clarity you may end up with your brain twisted into dendritic knots. I may not have anything new to say, but I do have my own unique experience and perspective. Hopefully writing about abortion may bring new transparency and open conversation on a very sensitive issue.
For me, it helps to break abortion down into relevant and irrelevant issues and the questions that we must ask ourselves. There are other people's stories and perspectives to consider. And when all that is said and done, after we've done the research, and asked the questions, what do our spirits whisper to us when we get very still and quiet.
To me the most relevant issue is the baby. Is it a baby? Is it a fetus or embryo or zygote? Is it just a ball of cells that feels nothing? When is the point of viability?
The biggest problem with abortion is that we don't really know the answers to these questions. And actually all of these words are just terms - scientific words - to describe the process of growing and developing. As in all things that we humans break into stages to understand them - pregnancy, childhood, the metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly - these separations are artificial. Everything that is needed to form a whole human being is there when the sperm and egg are joined together.
What about pain? When is the baby able to feel the pain of an abortion? It is clear that there are abortions being performed on babies who feel and some who are "viable". I recently heard of twins born at 24 weeks gestation and surviving. About 12% of abortions are in the second trimester of pregnancy, and, although rare, some past 20 weeks. This year a baby was born at 21 weeks 5 days and survived. The point of "viability" is a huge gray area in the argument for allowing abortions.
To me technology does NOT always = better. It has not proven better in birth, in our food sources, or in caring for our children. But with improvements in our medical knowledge babies are surviving against all odds at more premature stages. Also as we get clearer images of babies in the womb through ultrasound and other images we get to see exactly how human babies are from a very early stage of development. So in a bit of an ironic twist, technology is showing us very clearly the miracle of life that begins as a baby in a mother's womb.
I recently read the book Unplanned, by Abby Johnson. I believe everyone should take the time to read it - both "pro-lifers" and "pro-choicers" and everyone in all the shades of gray between. Abby Johnson was a director of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Texas who ended up having a dramatic conversion after witnessing and participating in an abortion. The description of that event alone makes the book a worthwhile read. Also since she was a very active participant in the pro-choice movement, and now the pro-life movement, she has a very unique and informed perspective.
Did you know that there are Abortion SURVIVORS? Yes, people who were meant to be aborted as babies but live. Awful but true.
I was thinking the other day about what children might have to say on the issue of abortion. Now, I'm not suggesting that we all ask our kids what they think, because in my opinion it is not a topic that children should be burdened with (heck, I'm still barely able to wrap my brain around it!) But I have a decent idea of what most kids would think and say. Kids have a way of cutting through everything - fancy rhetoric, scientific terminology, and emotional baggage - and I'm pretty sure kids would naturally be against abortion. Here you can find some voices of children and their feelings about abortion. I'm not saying that children can understand all of the complexities surrounding abortion, I'm simply noting that kids have a way of seeing things how they are and they are much better than adults are at trusting their instincts. Thinking of their reactions, thoughts, and words can help us reconnect to our inner-voices.
I guess it's pretty obvious that I've convinced myself that when talking about abortion, we're talking about taking a LIFE. I have a difficult time seeing much of any other way (but as I've stated, am willing to read material that may change my mind).
Once that is clear in my mind, there are some things that just become irrelevant. One of those is that there are people in the "pro-life" camp that are hypocritcal. This ranges from statements such as "I don't want a white, middle-aged man telling me what I can or cannot do," to "Pro-life people care about a fetus but then don't do anything to help real, living people (poor children/mothers etc.)" or "How can you be pro-life and be pro-gun/pro-war/pro-death penalty".
Sure, there is hypocrisy. There is hypocrisy everywhere. But that doesn't mean that we reject everything the Hypocrite believes just because that is what they believe. In fact, the Hypocrite may have some things right.
Another argument that doesn't sit well with me is "It's my body". It seems pretty obvious that there are always two bodies involved in abortion.
Another irrelevant, peripheral argument that come to my mind is the world's population. Yes, there are a lot of humans. Is this a problem? Could be. Is abortion the answer? I don't think so.
The Gray areas:
Finally, we get to the hardest part of this topic. The mothers. Our mothers, sisters, friends, and daughters. Women with stories. Women who feel trapped and out of options. Women without a partner, or an abusive partner, with few financial resources or with big dreams. Young women and old women. In the most horrible cases, women who are taken advantage of, abused, even raped - often by people that should love them. In the case of poor women, the hard-reality that they cannot give a child the life they dream of. And of course the children that actually live this reality - of poverty and lack, or even worse of pain, abuse, and neglect.
From the Facts on Abortion, "At least half of American women will experience an unintended pregnancy by age 45, and, at current rates, one in 10 women will have an abortion by age 20, one in four by age 30 and three in 10 by age 45."
30%of women by age 45 will have an abortion!
For me, this is not about judgement or condemnation. Many women I know who are pro-choice readily admit that they don't feel abortion is right for them but they don't think it's for them to decide for another woman. We *feel* for the mothers that come to a place in their lives where they feel like this is the best decision for them. Because the truth is:
NO ONE *WANTS* TO HAVE TO HAVE AN ABORTION.
I don't have the answers to these terrible, unfair, inhumane circumstances. I believe the big questions we need to ask ourselves are -
Are we fighting AGAINST the world we actually live in now?
Are we aiming for what we know the world SHOULD BE?
I know it's idealistic, but I want to aim for a world where abortion isn't even necessary. I know that all "the bad stuff" is still there - it's still happening every day. So we work to end these terrible things. We reach out with compassion and love to those who aren't as fortunate as we are. But we can't use one, or even many, bad things to justify another. Two wrongs never make a right.
Holy Tangled Monkey Chains! I know that this post was hardly an unbiased look at the "sides" of abortion. In the end I make up my mind based on what makes sense to me and what my heart is telling me. The only thing I know for certain is that most likely I will change my mind again tomorrow and the day after that. I welcome other respectfully stated viewpoints here.
I do think I've shown that I respect and understand parts of the "pro-choice" perspective and the "pro-life" perspective. I'd like to propose a paradigm shift to "pro-humanity" - the humanity inside a woman's womb, the humanity of the pregnant woman who feels alone, trapped, and without options, the humanity of the father of the child in the mother's womb, the humanity in the religious and non-religious, the humanity in politicians and priests, and for everyone in between. Because I love humanity.
I made this Venn Diagram a while ago to remind me of the ways I can take care of my body, mind, and spirit. Then this past weekend we were doing various things around the house and another analogy popped into my head.
I've been aware for some time now that I need to get back to exercising my body regularly. I've just not gotten into a regular habit since Marisol was born 6+ years ago. Luckily for me my lifestyle is such that I stay fairly active and I'm also continuously expanding my healthy diet options, so it's not that I'm in TERRIBLE shape exactly. It's just that I've not made it a priority and I'm really starting to crave that now.
So we were doing a couple of things upstairs where our bedrooms and one bathroom are and I thought (not for the first time!) how it was the most neglected level of our three-level home. I really don't want to describe to you the state of affairs upstairs, but let's just say it is far from clean or neat. Dusty, clothes often everywhere, Marisol's many babies piled here and there... and the bathroom! Let's just not go there. Yet the rooms are used every day for very important things - namely sleep, potty, and hygiene. So I thought, jeez, that's just like my poor, neglected body. My body is also used every day for very important things yet not getting the love it truly deserves!
Now the main living level of our home which includes the kitchen and attached craft area, dining area/computer desk, and living room - well, let's just say we "keep up". The kitchen of course needs to be relatively clean just to use it every day. This "mid-level" is comparable to how I keep up with my spirit. I mean it's pretty darn important to tend to your spirit regularly, right? I definitely have room for improvement both in the mid-level of my home and in tending to my spirit. Ironically, the biggest thing I do once a week on this floor of our house is make sure that there is a safe path for my students to walk to the stairs to the basement.
Ahh, the basement. This is my teaching space. Every week it gets cleaned up really well (by my standards anyway). The bathroom is the cleanest bathroom that I've ever personally taken care of. The toys must be put away and the rug vacuumed every week (especially for my students with cat allergies!) And this of course is analogous to my mind. I'm constantly feeding and exercising my mind - primarily with reading, but also with having conversations with friends and loved ones, and now I've added writing regularly to my mind's "workout". I've got this one COVERED! In fact, I'm realizing that I'm a little too good at exercising my mind and not so good at resting it which would be better for my spirit and body. I find this analogy ironic but appropriate because 1) the basement is the best taken care of space in our house (this doesn't seem normal) 2) my analogy is a little backwards with the bottom of the house being compared to my mind - which I think of as being housed in the attic of my body and 3) Teaching is a very "mind" centered activity - although it does serve my spirit as well.
There you have it - how I the levels of our home are similar to how I take care of my mind, body and spirit.
In the middle of my Venn Diagram I spelled out the word balance (it fits perfectly!) because I believe if I'm feeding my body, mind, and spirit I will find the best balance for myself. (I'm beginning to think that "Balance" is my word for this year, not "Embrace"... but oh well, they're both good!)
The "e" in the center symbolizes emotions to me. When we are balanced we will experience peace, happiness, joy, acceptance, love and many others. So I am more and more getting to a place where I realize I need to feed, use, and rest all parts of myself. The saying below is becoming a new mantra for me and is really helpful when I'm falling asleep, "Rest your mind... Calm your heart". Ahhh, it just feels peaceful and I can let go of all of the busy thoughts of the day.
How about you, is there are specific "part" of you that you particularly take good care of or neglect? What could you change to feel more balanced?
Sometimes I have the weirdest thoughts go through my head (ok, lots of times!) Often the analogies that pop into my head have to do with birth - I'm cool that way.
So yesterday I was unpacking the van while Mike watched Nascar and did puzzles with Gerry, and Marisol watched Cyberchase on the computer. I was so proud of myself for getting so much done even though I am sick and we had just had a long day of packing up that morning and driving home (about 5 hours).
But it was actually the perfect thing for me to do after sitting in the car for so long. I got to stretch and move my legs AND I got some quiet "alone" time (we mamas take that however and whenever we can!) So I'm walking back and forth to the car and thinking how this was just the perfect "window" of time for me to get some things done - the kids just wanted to veg out. And I was like this is just like the window of time right after a baby is born and they're awake in a quiet alert state for a few hours before sleeping (is anyone having a hard time with this analogy? Come on - stretch yourself! Like I said, this is just a stream of consciousness moment from me to you. I didn't say that it made total sense!)
Of course then I had to think of exceptions. Like I'm sure there are times when we get home from a long road trip and the kids are tired and whiny and cranky and just want to cling to me and I don't get anything unpacked, or laundry done or food put away. Just like I'm sure there are newborns who go to sleep pretty quickly after birth. Because life really isn't all that predictable is it? But when we have a perfect "window" for something to occur, it feels so good to take advantage of it! So keep your eyes and heart open and let life keep flowing through and around you.
(I need to create one of those cool signatures for my blog - anyone know how to do that?)
ps These pictures of my alert babies are not just after birth, but they are two of my favorites from when they were just hours and days old. If I ever do this baby thing again I'm going to get more pictures of them when they are fresh out of the womb!
Wife, mom, information and peace seeker.