Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Look Back

Yes, finally, a blog post!
My heart is full tonight as I contemplate all the ways I have been blessed in spite of this very difficult season we have been through. The fact that we are still in our home is in itself a miracle and one I do not take lightly or for granted. In the almost two years since Madison’s arrival in our world, I can truly say we’ve been through it all and not just in regards to parenting but in life as whole.

Motherhood, for me, began with a rocky start, post partum depression, family far away, the desperate search for a community to surround my new mother self with, and in all this to find the balance of self/wife/mother/friend/etc. Somehow I have come out on the other side with the deepest of compassion and a depth of understanding that only experience can bring you. I am also grateful beyond words for the amazing, amazing, amazing group of friends that have come along side me, often in the most unexpected ways, to share this journey with. With family so far away, they have been a true life source, offering me so much joy, support, laughter, good times, advice, and friendship. I am also proud to say, that although it does not always go perfectly, I have learned to juggle motherhood, work, housework, fun times, family times and me times. My New Years resolution last year was to learn how to take time to care for myself and in doing so, I kicked postpartum depression in the butt! This is all thanks to the fact that I, FINALLY, have a regular work out schedule and routine, my new "happy pill." I never thought I was the athletic type but I have proved myself wrong and this year had the immense pleasure of completing both the Warrior Dash and my first 5k! You truly do not know what you have in you until you are pushed to the very end of yourself and choose to keep moving.

As most of you know, a month after we closed on our home and with both a new baby and a new dog to care for, Jeremy was laid off. So began almost a year of job searching and soul searching. We came so close to losing everything that we have come to hold dear, our home and our friends. And the prospect of moving to VA seemed our only option for a while. I stayed hopeful and upbeat for the longest time and then when it seemed like nothing was working no matter how positive I stayed or how hard we tried, I cried and I yelled and I got mad and I lost it. Sometimes you’ve just gotta have a good cry! Thankfully, Jeremy finally found a job! It's not his dream job and his schedule is less than ideal, but we are grateful. Most of all though, we have our family to be so very grateful to for coming to our aide when we were at our lowest point and helping to carry us through. Truly, that is what family is all about. No matter our differences and no matter the distance, when we need them, they are there.

There is still so much I could write about, the path was long and winding and overwhelmingly full of ups and downs. But I’ll leave you with this, “If you're going through hell, keep on going, don’t slow down. If you're scared, don't show it, You might get out before the devil even knows you're there.” :) There’s always Hope and I can promise you that you’ll get through even the darkest of days, just keep going!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Frustration to Inspiration

This morning was one of those mornings where I just wanted to kick some butt! I was angry as hell and beyond frustrated, some of it was valid frustration and some of it was just me being my control freak self. I recently had a conversation with a dear friend of mine about the possibility that our job choices have something to say about us as individuals on a psychological level. We both grew up in a very strict, religious, stifling environment and now here we are in our jobs managing and organizing other people’s lives. If that doesn’t say something, I don’t know what does …

For a long time I was told how to act, how to look, how to be and now that I am finally in control of my own life I teeter between easy going and control freak. I am an extremely tenacious, determined, go getter in some ways and in other ways I am a laid back, peaceful, carefree person. I think I draw the line when it comes to my personal life vs. my social life. In my personal life, I want to have control whereas in a social setting I am more willing to go with the flow and defer to others. In my personal life, I don’t deal well with change, I don’t like when things are chaotic or plans go array as they did this morning.

Before Madison was born, I was much more able to ignore the issues. I had so little time between work and school to really focus on bettering myself. After Madison was born, it became a complete necessity. Three months after she was born I was diagnosed with Post Partum Depression, the dreaded diagnoses of every new mother. I mean really, who wants to tell their doctor, “Oh by the way, I think I am going a little crazy?”
Between dealing with my inner demons, adjusting to being a new mother and dealing with other difficulties in my life at the time I finally came to a point where I realized something had to change. For me the answer was far simpler than I imagined; I needed to take the time to focus on becoming a better person and developing better coping mechanisms. So I did two things; I opened my heart up to new friendships that continue to offer me support and a safe place to spill my guts and I started working out on a consistent basis.

Today when my emotions were at a boiling point and I needed a release for all my negative energy, I made myself focus on what would really be helpful to me mentally and emotionally. I went to the gym and I kicked my own butt and it was awesome! By the end of my workout, my negative energy was gone. My frustration had dissipated and I was able to examine the issues with a clear head as well as dance and be silly with my girly girl. I was always told I was not athletic, I never thought I would enjoy working out and sometimes I still don’t, but the overall positive impact it has had on my life mentally, physically, and emotionally make it more than worth the while. And to once again quote John Locke of LOST, “Don’t tell me what I can’t do!”

So wherever you are in your personal journey, realize that only you can change the negative into positive and that you do have the power to overcome. Don’t let your past or how others have labeled you determine how you are going to live out your life today. You have only one life to live, so live it fully, passionately, and have some fun!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

What Happened to Bedtime??

8:45 ... Yep, that's when she finally gave up and went to bed tonight. These last two weeks have brought on a new round of bedtimes which have ranged anywhere from 7:30 - 10:00. This along with the added bonus of middle of the night visits that usually last for an hour of Miss Madi and I in the same bed  until she finally settles and is okay with going back into her crib. My girl has been a 7:00 - 7:30 bedtime girl for ever, what happened to bedtime?

Sleep schedules completely haywire, are topped with the new demands of my suddenly vocal and sturdily mobile child, who of course has never been less than completely determined. Throwing fits at the drop of a hat, just about anywhere and throwing toys and any available object to express frustration, usually directed at me because my attention has been diverted from her, have become daily norms. I'm exhausted, mentally, physically, and emotionally. I'd run and hide but she'd just come find me ... :)

So because I've heard of the Bad Mom's Club, and was certainly feeling like one tonight, after serving Madison dinner on the couch accompanied by a movie, I decided to check them out and found this wonderful little tidbit describing two year olds. So for all of you who tell me my daughter's advanced, its a double edge sword because she had already hit the two's phase by 18 months. Anyway, this quote literally brought tears to my eyes:

"It’s not like having an infant who can’t walk, whom you can then plunk in the middle of the living room floor and at least drink your coffee. It’s not like having a five year old who might be at least capable, however badly, of wiping their own butt and tying their own shoes. No, two – and from the looks of it, well in to three – appears to be very possibly the most bone-wearying exhausting phase of parenting." (Please don’t tell me it gets worse. I can’t take it right now.)

They’re like unleashed orangutans. It’s the constant movement, the need to be in to everything, the seeming inability to listen to anything – or, let me correct that, the ability to listen and then do the exact opposite of whatever it is you’re telling them to do – the running, running, running, usually while shrieking, the NO DATS MINE!s, the grabbing, the food throwing, the food refusing – I suspect you get the point and, if your child is over two, you may be experiencing flashbacks. My apologies.

Never does sinking in to a kitchen chair at 9 pm in front of dinner and a glass of pinot feel so welcomed as the day when the toddler was up all night then up all day and shrieked from one end of it to the other, let’s put it that way."

I am teary eyed because I realize that I am not crazy, I am not losing it, I am not the only one going through this, and thankfully I am not the only parent finally sitting down after a long day with a glass of wine (Or possibly I am teary & bleary from exhaustion). One thing is for certain though, I wouldn't trade being her mommy for the world. I love this crazy, tenacious, overwhelming, amazing, little girl. I'll admit though, sometimes I wish I could be the one throwing myself on the floor and screaming, pushing people I am frustrated with, yelling "That's Mine!" when someone takes my parking spot ... :)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Home Visit Scheduled!

As most of you know, we are currently going through the state to begin the adoption process and sent in our application a little while ago. I was getting pretty antsy and wondering why I hadn't heard anything from DCF regarding our application, so I decided to call and email! Well that got a response and after playing phone tag for the past couple of days, I finally spoke the woman assigned to our case and we are scheduled for a home visit on Friday.

Now I am nervous and excited, I guess because its for real now. So needless to say, I will be frantically cleaning my house and for those of you who know me, you'll know that I will probably clean in areas she wont even look! Better safe than sorry, right? I have also begun to contemplate what the change from one to two children will be like ... I also realize my mom was very right in saying I need to start transitioning Madison from her crib to her bed so that won't be one more thing for her to adjust to. List making will commence as soon as I am done blogging!

So here we go! One more step towards meeting the newest member of our family ...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What it Really Takes to Stay Married

I just read this today and wanted to share this article and my thoughts on it as well.

1. Know That Happily-Ever-After Is A Myth:

Lower your expectations; it's dangerous fantasy to think marriage really means you get to be happy forever. Expecting perfection in a marriage or a mate is a fast ticket to divorce. Listen to the longtime wives on this point: The happiest women have a clear sense of purpose and passion outside of their relationships. We realize that a marriage that runs on multiple tracks makes for a more satisfied spouse who gets to have it both ways -- a committed marriage and personal adventures in uncharted territory. Marital bliss is possible if each partner is blissful without the other.

From a very young age, most girls are spoon fed the "prince charming" fantasy and so there is this unrealistic expectation of what marriage will really mean. Isn't it interesting that all the Fairy Tales end with the kiss or the wedding and everyone lives "happily ever after ..." Yet, we are never privy to exactly how their "happily ever after" unfolds. Instead of raising our girls to find men, we should be raising our girls to find themselves.
A strong confident woman who knows who she is and knows what she wants for her life, is far more likely to find a healthy partner with whom to create a lasting relationship; a relationship that will include mutual respect and an equal partnership. Let's also teach our children that love is not based on emotion; love is a commitment to give of yourself to someone even when times are tough and you're just not feeling it!

2. Don't compare your marriage to anyone else's:
It's your relationship, not your sister's, not your mother's, and there is no gold standard marriage. Everyone has issues, problems, and most importantly, their own secrets. Your girlfriend who is always calling her husband "sweetie" and sits with her legs twined with his may be flinging dishes at him when no one is around. So don't worry that your marriage isn't measuring up. Because no one knows what's really going on in a marriage except the two people in it. That gives each of us the freedom to write our own rules.

I love that! "Write your own rules." Its the same advice I was given and still  give to new parents, "Do what works for you!" This is your life, your marriage, your family - remember when you were little and you couldn't wait to grow up so you could do things the way you wanted to? Well, here you are, grown up, time to do it the way you've always wanted to. Talk to each other about what's working and whats not, be willing to make changes, and stop listening to what everyone else is saying, especially family. 

3. Hang out with outrageous girlfriends and boyfriends -- with boundaries:
The wives with the highest marital satisfaction have a tight circle of wild women friends with whom to drink, travel and vent. Close friendships provide the escape hatch from the inevitable storms that come with living with somebody year-to-year in the grind of ordinary life. Women who love the company of men shouldn't have to eliminate men friends from their lives. These extra-marital males who always think we're beautiful and smart (because they don't live with us :)) definitely make for a perkier wife. So marry someone who is confident and flexible, a man who knows that the more people, male and female, who bolster your self-esteem means there's less work for him!

Jeremy and I have always been open to the other having friendship with same and opposite sex friends. We both have them and we're both okay with that because we TRUST each other. We openly joke about our "list," you know the infamous list from "Friends?" I know he loves Natalie Portman and he knows I was totally in love with Keith Urban for a while but lately I am more into Bradley Cooper ... :) We also chat about the real day to day people we find attractive as well. Be Real! Just because you're married doesn't mean you will never be attracted to someone else, but be open and honest about it. On another note we each need time apart with friends, to be ourselves not Mr. & Mrs.,  not Mom & Dad, just Leah & Jeremy.

4. Take Separate Vacations:
You like to camp and your husband likes to golf? Spend a month of the summer in the Adirondacks while he goes with his buddies to Scottsdale or better yet, Scotland. Obviously this works better once empty nest hits. After some weeks apart from each other, removed from clashing over bills and in-laws, marriage seems way hotter than the tepid state in which you left each other. Make sure you have the fundamental quality of trust going into a marriage. Trust allows couples to liberate each other to explore their own passions independently. And partners who keep growing as individuals during each phase of a marriage are the ones with the best chance of growing together and staying together.

We're not quite here yet, but it sounds wonderful! We are still trying to find the time for a night away together or the funds for a family vacation ... although I have been away on a girls weekend and hope to again soon. Guess I owe him one ... :)

5. Remember to talk to each other, and to have sex:
In between wifely gallivants and self-exploration, remember to love the guy you're with -- kiss him hello and goodbye, and make time for conversation, no matter how crammed your two-career schedules are. Don't forget to have sex -- sex is really relaxing and fun and can make all your woes go away, at least for eleven minutes or so! Express gratitude to this guy who is giving you something huge: This is the person who can help you build a safe harbor in a world of chaos and uncertainly. He can give you children. After years of having to Spanx every body part in order to impress your dates, your husband is the prince who gave you the freedom to soften at the belly, and to finally relax. The biggest surprise secret I found is how many wives are still enjoying sex after 75 with their mates of 50-plus years!

This seemed SO easy before we had a baby and then our carefree world was wonderfully, crazily, tipped upside down by our beautiful, lovebug. Now we have to actually plan time for ourselves and to be completely honest, we had a very deep, heart to heart about this recently - I won't speak for Jeremy, but I will say that I realized that I was making time for everything else in my life but for him. I had put him on the bottom of my list of priorities. I think in some way, I felt safe to do this because I like to think he'd never actually leave and somehow I felt justified as well, because I needed time for myself especially now that I am a mom. True as that may be, why did I decide I couldn't make time for love? I mean isn't that why I got married in the first place, isn't that why I decided I wanted to have a baby? Because of love?  I want my family to thrive, but it can only thrive on love, and that has to start from the top and work its way down. No he's not always perfect, but neither am I and so enough excuses! Our relationship is a priority.

6. Don't try to win every fight:
Surrender once in a while instead of always having to be right. Couples who stomp off with unresolved conflicts end up holding onto vintage rage, and antique blame that forms toxic wedges over time. Even if you can't forgive and forget, at least let go and move on when snarly brawls and/or plate-throwing erupts behind your own closed doors. Say "I'm sorry", even if you're not sorry one bit. Showing compassion definitely makes spouses behave better. And the ability to bounce back from strife is the real secret that makes marriages last forever.

My mom always told me I didn't know when to shut my mouth and boy was she right! When we were first married, oh my, we fought and fought and fought. Then one day it dawned on me, why did I always have to add fuel to the fire? Why did I have to turn a small argument into a raging fight? Some things don't need to be said, EVER, even when you really want to! Other things need to be said, but maybe not right away. Now I can't say I have perfected this or that I am always quick to watch what I say, I mean especially after a baby and dealing with sleep deprivation, but I have determined to be more mindful of what I say. My newest goal for myself has been to cut down on the negativity and begin to speak more positively into my surroundings, into my family, into my friends, and into anyone I come in contact with. I want peace in all aspects of my life and that includes my marriage. Being right isn't always worth it.

These points are inspired by a book entitled, "The Secret Lives Wives:Women Share What it Really Takes to Stay Married " and were taken from an article entitled "6 Secrets to Staying Married Forever," both of which were written by Iris Krasnow, an assistant professor in the School of Communication at American University

Friday, October 14, 2011

You Are the 99%

So I am still  a little unclear as to the exact goal of the Occupiers, but one thing is for sure, at least they are making themselves heard!! I am really tired of people scoffing at them while they sit and do nothing. Whether you agree with them or not, you have to agree that CHANGE IS NEEDED! It's so easy to judge when you are on the outside looking in, but honestly how many of you can say you are not one of the 99%? I know I can't.

I am going to get really personal here, almost a year ago, a month after we closed on our home, my husband was laid off from his job. Our daughter was 8 mos. old at the time and I had just started a very part time job. The day he was laid off set off a series of events that have changed my outlook on life in general and have given me a compassion and a passion for the 99%. All of a sudden our income was cut in half, we had no health insurance, we didn't have enough money to pay our bills, frankly, we were screwed.

My husband has worked since he was fourteen, losing his job while trying to care for his family, was extremely demoralizing and depressing for him. He searched and searched for jobs, he applied to any position he felt that he would qualify for, nothing happened for almost a year. He just started a new job last month, he does not make as much as he did before, we are extremely behind on pretty much all of our bills. We are still in our house thanks to the loving support of our families. All of a sudden we needed Government Assistance and qualified for it as well, something we NEVER expected to take or need.

We have always worked hard, my husband and I are both still paying for our college educations, we have a mortgage, a car payment, utility bills, gas bills, grocery bills, doctor's bills ... All we want is a chance to live the "American Dream." But how are we suppose to do that when we can't live on my husbands income or afford for me to work because child care is too expensive and honestly I'd really like to be the one who raises my daughter!!

So whether you like it or not, the Occupiers have a point and unlike most of us they have a voice. So instead of scoffing at them, why not join them and make your voice heard? Our government is suppose to work for us, but instead they're living cushy lives, paid for by us, while we are getting calls from our creditors. Is that not a problem to you?

This Movement ...
"It is real. Yes, it’s youth-driven, broad-based, determinedly democratic and deeply grounded in the most basic of American values of economic fairness, social justice and equal opportunity for all. It’s not about left-right ideologies, but top-down realities. It’s focused directly on the narcissistic greed of today’s financial and corporate elites and on their gross corruption of our political system by a flood of money from corporations that now masquerade as persons.

Is the movement exactly there? No, not by a long shot; but it has a shot. The spunk, motivation, idealism, creativity and passion of these young people are genuine, not the product of partisan consultants, think tanks, rich funders or large organizations. So the movement’s direct street action is turning out to be the spark that millions of disgusted grassroots people have needed to stop moaning and start acting, which is why Occupy Madison, Occupy Chicago, and hundreds of other Occupies have sprung up spontaneously across the country within three weeks of the Wall Street initiative. These people are on target and on the move." *

So yes, they may be too radical for you. Yes, they lack maturity. Yes, they need to solidify their goals and agenda. But they are going to make changes and if you care to make changes that matter to you then you might want to take them a little more seriously and make you're voice heard as well.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful,
Committed people can change the world.
Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
- Margaret Mead

*Jim Hightower

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Trying to figure out what you REALLY believe

Taken, with permission of course :), from my friends Facebook page. I thought it was very well said and worth reading ...

"Trying to figure out what you REALLY believe about the world, people, church, and family, is a long process--It means looking at all sides of every argument of each topic you are thinking about--Even the sides that we think are ridiculous, not just the sides of the argument that are in favor of what you originally thought, or what you were raised to think.

To my fellow Christians--As Christians, ...taking all of these points of view, (conservative, liberal, independent, on all issues fiscal, social, relational), and bringing them to the foundation of scripture, and doing our best to have an unbiased approach while doing so, is the only way to ensure that we are not just believing and living out things that are only based on what other people (even intelligent, Godly people) have told us before. It's a lifelong, annoying, grueling process that many of us (including myself) have in the past, seen as being unnecessary, because many of us believe (and were raised to believe) that we already have it figured out. This is our biggest problem.

If we are only discussing these major life topics with people that agree with us, then we are not actually doing any truth seeking, but are only reinforcing our own opinions about the world. This will not help anyone, and when we are suddenly in conversations with people who challenge our beliefs and opinions, we will appear shy, sheepish, biased and uninformed. In such crazy times, we cannot afford to be this way."
by Madolyn Zani.
I have had the privelage of knowing Maddy since we were very young ladies. She is a music extraordinaire, she sings, writes music, plays violin, guitar, and piano. She is beautiful inside and out, and I am really proud of the woman she has become. I only wish we could go back to the less hectic days so that we could actually see eachother once and a while. :)

I can see You everywhere ...

This year or maybe I should say these past two years have been difficult, heart breaking, overwhelming, etc. Yet, when I look back I see so much beauty, so many things to be thankful for in the midst of all the chaos. Its difficult to be thankful all the time, its hard to smile everyday, especially when it seems like we can never catch a break, but I have to hold on to hope ...

In my most difficult moments it seems that God always finds a way to let me know that its going to be ok, somehow, someway, it will all be ok. This time my encouragement and inspiration has come through a book, a book I picked up by "chance" at the library because it looked interesting ... it was not in the inspirational/spiritual section. In fact, its listed as a novel and in the fiction section. Someone obviously knew I needed to read this and so because I have been inspired, I decided to share this inspiration with you ...

"Whatever happens in your life, no matter how troubling things might seem, do not enter the neighborhood of despair. Even when all doors remain closed, God will open up a new path only for you. Be thankful!"

"How we see God is a direct reflection of how we see ourselves. If God brings to mind mostly fear and blame, it means there is too much fear and blame welled inside us. If we see God as full of love and compassion, so are we."

"One thing that has helped me personally in the past was to stop interfering with the people around me and getting frusturated when I couldn't change them. Instead of intrusion or passivity, may I suggest submission? Some people make the mistake of confusing "submission" with "weakness," whereas it is anything but. Submission is a form of peaceful acceptance of the terms of the universe, including the things we are currently unable to change or comprehend."

"Patience does not mean to passively endure. It means to be farsighted enough to trust the end result of the process. What does patience mean? It means to look at the thorn and see the rose, to look at the night and see the dawn. Impatience means to be shortsighted as to not be able to see the outcome. The lovers of God never run out of patience, for they know that time is needed for the cresecnt moon to become full."

I leave you with this for now as I could go on and on, but I hope you will be inspired today to believe that it is always darkest before the dawn and that lifes greatest beauty comes through hardship and pain.

"I can see You everywhere, all around me, in the air,You surround my heart with songs of rare belief ..." Rita Springer

*All quotes are from the book, "The Forty Rules of Love," by Elif Shafak

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

And So the Story Begins ...

Today is the day that our application is being sent to the MA Department of Children and Families in hopes of finding the newest member of our family. This is an exciting day, as we are eagerly anticipating adding to our family. Today is also a nerve wracking day, and we have many such days ahead, as we wait, as we wonder, as we fill out paperwork, attend a class, complete a home study, and in between it all we wait some more. Becoming a parent is always about waiting and anticipation no matter how you choose to begin and add to your family. Whether its simply the long 9+ months you wait for a baby to arrive, or the many months/years of trying to conceive, or the numerous fertility treatments, or the journey we are about to embark on, the many months of waiting for our little one to join the family through adoption. Whatever your story is on becoming a parent, the joy that awaits on the other side is like no other and the love that fills your heart is almost overwhelming. Life is such a beautiful, wonderful gift.

Some of you might wonder why we've chosen to adopt when we obviously are able to have biological children and I guess this would be our answer, because that is what our hearts are telling us to do, its what my heart has been telling me to do for as long as I can remember, and so we are following our hearts lead. I feel very privelaged to have a husband who believes in the beauty of adoption just as much as I do, I know this is something to be grateful for, and is not always the case. I have had many people tell me that they couldn't do it or that they could but their spouse would never go for it. I think that love is a lot deeper than most people realize, love only has limits if you choose to give it limitations. At the very core of every succesful family is LOVE and so we are just opening our hearts a little wider to make room for more joy, more cuddles, more chubs, and more fun! Of course we realize that this also comes with more challeges, but what child doesn't? As one of my favorite songs says, "Love's the only House big enough for all of the pain in the world," so we are opening our door ...

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Pro-Baby and Pro-Mother: The Logical Feminist Position

Some of you will wholeheartedly agree with this article, some of you will completely disagree - I know I am broaching a touchy subject but one I feel is worth "rocking the boat" for. This is not meant to offend or in any way meant to be harsh or judgemental, rather I have decided to take a stand for those without a voice because I believe in the value of human rights and that "a persons a person no matter how small." So after stumbling across this article that so eloquently voices my feelings as a Pro-Life Femenist, I felt I needed to share it with all of you ...

Pro-Baby and Pro-Mother: The Logical Feminist Position
by Jeanette Pryor

"The philosophical foundation of all Feminism is the belief in the transcendent value of human life, both male and female, and the subsequent, radical equality of every individual. The objective morality of just behavior cannot be predicated upon thin air. When a woman asserts her right to educate herself, to select a spouse, or to choose a career, it is because she believes that self-determination is an exigency, ontologically rooted in a rational, free nature.

Many Feminists include, in the list of rights to which they lay claim, the reproductive right to Abortion. Several aspects of this “right” are called into question by the new laws regulating Abortion in Oklahoma.

Reporter Susan Donaldson James details Abortion advocates’ objection to the newly mandated sonogram. This detailed picture of the baby living in the womb must be made available to the mother, along with an explanation of the status of her baby, so that the child’s mother is fully aware of all aspects of the terminal procedure she and her baby are about to “undergo”. This is known, in every other medical procedure, as facilitating informed consent. The article portrays this presentation of information as a violation of Reproductive Rights.

But under a new law in Oklahoma… (women are) required to undergo a sonogram…The doctor must then turn the screen towards her and describe fetal dimensions and details like the number of fingers and toes and heart activity. Already, one of the three abortion clinics in Oklahoma is reporting that women are so upset about the sonogram procedure, they are leaving the clinic crying. ‘Not one patient would look at the screen and they all closed their eyes or turned their heads,’ said Linda Meek, director at Reproductive Services in Tulsa, which does 3,000 abortions a year.

‘But it’s hard to turn your ears off,’ she said. ‘Several of the patients were in tears afterwards. No one changed their mind.’

The New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights has filed a legal challenge to the controversial law, arguing it violates both the patient’s and doctor’s freedom of speech and intrudes upon a patient’s privacy in her relationship with her doctor.

The sonogram confronts us, individually and socially, with the reality of the independent human life at stake. The developing child is contingent, yet fully in possession of personal existence. This baby’s right to live and fully develop is based upon the same foundation evoked for every Feminist claim to equality.

There are brilliant warriors for women’s rights with whom I gladly link arms to establish equal standing in society, but logic demands that I part company, in all charity, with these women when they assert that they are inherently endowed with the right to kill another human being.

The James article begins with the story of Joelle, a young girl who was raped for two years by a music teacher and, finding herself pregnant, went to a clinic in which she procured an Abortion. Her story is heartbreaking. Her pregnancy, resulting from repulsive sexual abuse, confronts us with the test of how sincerely we, as a society, believe in this intrinsic value of the gift of life.

Even in the face of this horrendous violation of a woman’s right to dispose of her own body, the sonogram denies us the ability to blithely commit another crime against humanity, in a torturously tempting effort to alleviate one woman’s unjust suffering.

The sonogram stands as an unimpeachable oracle. Turning back to gaze at the perfectly formed toes and fingers, at the beating heart, and cord bonding the baby to the mother who the baby’s whole universe, the nature of the choice at the heart of the “Pro-Choice” question can no longer be camouflaged. The mother can choose to endure temporary suffering, or she can sever the cord, burn and cut the little toes and fingers, and stop the beating heart.

If we establish that women have the right to thus slaughter their babies, we establish as moral one’s right to kill another in order to avoid personal suffering. We cannot, however, destroy another life, without obliterating the very foundation of our rights.

Some women suffer emotional trauma if they carry the baby resulting from rape. Others find relief in carrying the child and giving the baby to a loving home through adoption. Some women are physically tested to their limit by such a pregnancy, while others die as the result of infected Abortion clinics or hemorrhage. The article speaks of the awful mental anguish experienced by women asked to look at their babies before allowing them to be killed. Few Abortion advocates bother to speak of life-long guilt and depression some women feel after Abortion. All of these sufferings are real and terrible. And yet, the individual, subjective emotional effects of Abortion do not change the intrinsic value of the child.

Feminists must be logical. Pro-life is inherently pro-woman, because it is pro-human rights. A Pro-Life-At-Any-Cost position solidifies the justification for all the improvements that rational feminists desire to see in society.

Instead of childishly screaming that the Oklahoma Abortion Laws were specifically designed to oppress women, it is time to behave maturely and consider that perhaps the law was motivated by the desire to affirm and protect the human rights of an innocent baby, and, in so doing, affirm the value of every person gifted with life.


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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sarah Amber

So I have decided that this post will be dedicated to my baby sister Sarah. Call it prophetic, call intuition, call plain crazy, but before my mom was even pregnant with my sister, I knew she was coming. I was eight years old when I told my mother, who at that time had four children, that she was going to have a baby and that her name was going to be Sarah. She laughed, she told me that it would be my daughter, but I somehow knew intuitively that my sister was coming! When she was born, my mom told me that I just took over, I was her second mom. I can remember rocking her to sleep, feeding her bottles, and singing to her when she cried.

Now she is seventeen, she is beautiful, vivacious, strong, and full of possibility. I am amazed sometimes at the person she has become. Five and a half years ago, she moved ten hours away from me and I miss her a lot. This is her last year of high school and she has promised to come home, to come back to live with her second mom. A part of me wants to hold her to this, but another part of me knows that there is a big world out there waiting for her to explore and so my wish is that no matter what, she will do more than I ever did - I hope she will travel, that she will live and live and live before she settles down.

I love you baby girl! You are the closest I get to peeking ahead into Madison future … And if she’s like you, I am one very blessed Mama, twice over.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

To “Those” moms: Why Can’t We All Just Be Friends?

The most unexpected thing that I have experienced in becoming a mother has had nothing to do with my daughter; instead, it has everything to do with other mom’s.

I had no expectation whatsoever of other mom’s beforehand, in fact they really didn’t factor into my ideas of my impending motherhood at all. Towards the end of my pregnancy though I decided that I should try to find a mom’s group to join for two reasons: a. for friendship with other women who were also moms and b. for something to occupy my newly open schedule, as I’d always been working and/or going to school before pregnancy so the thought of hours at home with no “duties” or “assignments” seemed rather bleak.

Oh if I’d only known the disaster that was ahead of me … Instead of finding support, understanding, and friendship I ended up with cattiness, judgment, and enemies. Oh, lordy! I was too open, shared too much, and was too nice so basically I was trampled on and left for “dead.” Is it really any wonder that some mom’s high tail it back to work as soon as possible? It was like high school all over again, complete with the entire unspoken BS, underlying expectations and of course the “in crowd.” I was part of the “in crowd” and then for reasons I still am unsure of, I was “out.”
I could go on but why? There is no purpose in glorifying the drama. All I want to say is that this is RIDICULOUS!! We are supposed to be the example for our children of how to be respectful of others, to embrace difference, to treat others with kindness, and to be proponents of peace – how is that possible if we can’t even operate this way with our own peers?

Motherhood should not be treated like a competition, rather as a journey. Imagine we all traveled on the highway the way many moms’ go about motherhood – there would be an overwhelming number of tragedies and deaths!! Instead we should go about motherhood as we do a highway drive, with respect for the other “drivers,” with the knowledge that our choices have consequences. We cannot drive without regard for the law, if we do so we jeopardize the wellbeing of ourselves and of others. In the same way, being a “mean mom” not only harms others it will harm yourself as well. You hurt other people and isolate yourself. Negative energy breeds negative energy and no one likes a Negative Know it All Nelly.

I am a firm believer that “it takes a village” to raise a child so lets do this together and stop trying so hard to prove that we are perfect, that we have it all together, that we are better …

“The way of peace is the way of love. Love is the greatest power on earth. It conquers all things.” - Peace Pilgrim

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” - Mother Teresa

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Wabi Sabi - Beauty in Imperfection

Perfection will never be attainted, beauty is found in the mistakes we make, and true happiness is found when we let go and just live! I read this article today and thought it was worth passing on:
“In Japan there is an entire world view that appreciates the value of the imperfect, unfinished and faulty. It's called Wabi Sabi, where the first term refers to something simple and unpretentious, and the second points to the beauty that comes with age. Wabi Sabi is the aesthetic view that underlies Japanese art forms like the tea ceremony, calligraphy and ceramics. It's an aesthetic that sees beauty in the modest and humble, the irregular and earthy. It holds that beauty comes with the patina of age and in the changes that come with use. It lies in the cracks, the worn spots; in the green corrosion of bronze, the pattern of moss on a stone. The Japanese take pleasure in mistakes and imperfections.

Day by day, tiny specks of us float away. No matter which exercise or diet regimen we follow, no matter which self-help guru or meditation practice we follow, nothing will dispel the reality that we are not built to last. Death is our supreme limitation, the final proof that perfection was never meant to be part of the human experience. A hundred years from now, there will be all new people. Sooner rather than later, we shall not be here: no eyes, no nose, no ears, no tongue, no mind, no you or me -- gone, and who knows where, if anywhere.

Yet knowing the extent of our limitations, feeling our soon-not-to-be-hereness in our bones, is the best condition we can have for waking up to the miracle that we are here at all. That is the brilliance of the human design plan -- the built-in "defect" is the very thing that can spur us to drink down the full draught as it comes to us.

How did this happen? This incredible feeling, thinking, sensing, moving, joyous, painful, doubting, wondering life -- what keeps it upright even now, right now in this unrepeatable moment that is already gone? No answer to that, merely the gasp of the breath as it moves in and out, and the pleasure of knowing that for now we are here and not elsewhere.

Better to taste it now -- this gritty, imperfect life that we have -- than to defer it to some more perfect future that may never come.”

- Excerpt from “The Pleasure of Not Being Perfect” by Roger Housden

Monday, July 25, 2011

Raising my Independent Girl

My daughter has always been a force to be reckoned with since the day she was born - I'll never forget the moment they laid her on my chest screaming her lungs out. Obviously there was no doubt she had arrived! I was a force to be reckoned with as a child as well, bossing my siblings and classmates around, telling my kindergarten teacher that she was doing things wrong! Somewhere along the lines though I learned to "sit down and shut up," my strong willed tendencies we're discouraged and I was made to feel as if my true voice was better left unheard. I needed to be "lady like." So here I am twenty something years later trying to develop my independence and regain my voice at the same time as I am raising a daughter of my own.

Thankfully my husband and I are both on the same page and our aim is to make gender matter as little as possible when it comes to raising our kiddo. What is difficult are those who are not on the same page and insist on calling her a "little princess," telling their boys to "be gentle because she's a girl," or having little children ask why she is playing with "boys toys" just because she likes to play with her cars and my husband childhood action figures. Personally, one of my proudest moments was when she walked into the Disney store, which I don't advocate but is slightly unavoidable now that she can walk, and she didn't have any idea or interest in the Princess aspect of the store but refused to leave the Cars section! If she so chooses on her own to become interested in Princesses that is one thing, but I am certainly not going to encourage it because what is the value? There are very few real life Princesses, I'd rather encourage her interest in women of action, women who make a difference, women of courage, REAL WOMEN.  

In light of my own experiences as a child, I have become deeply aware of the need to channel my daughters personality not change it. I will not teach her how to be lady like, I will teach her to be well mannered and to treat everyone with respect. And in those moments when she pushes my buttons to the max, I have to take a deep breath and remind myself that her strength of personality is a gift and it will serve her well in life. I am overwhelmed and honored with this breath taking task of raising her and I only hope that I am able to meet the challenge with the right amount of love, patients, and wisdom required because I never want her to feel that I have tried to make her be something she is not. Although it is my duty to walk ahead of her and forge a path, I find that at times I am also walking beside her as I learn to see life from another perspective. Just as she is growing, so I am growing.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Me & Myself Combined

So for months now I have had two separate blogs - one that focuses on my life in general and one that focuses on how I identify myself as a feminist and what it means to me. For some reason it never occurred to me until reading some other wonderful blogs that these two things should not be treated as mutually exclusive topics but rather go hand in hand. So from here on out I will write from both perspectives, I will write about what ever comes to mind on a given day, and stop trying to manage two blogs when I barely have time for one! More to follow, so stay tuned!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Bittersweet Irony

I love my jobs ... I am an assistant to an Insurance Agent who specializes in Long Term Care Planning. I love what I do and I am learning so much. My boss has provided me with amazing flexibility and a wonderful opportunity to grow. I love being a mom, my daughter is such an amazing little person and I feel very privileged to be raising such a tenacious, strong-willed, and intelligent little woman. She has made my life so much more meaningful and fulfilling.

So where in lies my dilemma? I feel as if I am being pulled in two different directions and either way it will break my heart. I know that if I committed to longer hours, I could grow tremendously in this industry and become successful but ... I am having a hard time being away from my daughter for even the two short days that I work. I don't want to drop her off at her Preshool and leave her there and when I do it makes me want to quit my job. But then there are nights like last night where I got dressed up, went out for a nice dinner, and learned even more about the business, had a wonderful time and I loved it! Everyone tells you that you can have it both ways, but I wonder can you really? Ultimately will I be forced to sacrifice something?

In this case, I know in my heart of hearts that I would never do anything that would sacrifice my daughter's happiness. So I will instead, swallow my guilt, hold onto my belief that "it takes a village," and remember that I am my daughter's role model. Will I choose to model an attitude of guilt and defeat or will I instead teach her that Life is about balance? Just because I work part time doesn't mean I love her less, I can let go and realize that a healthy, happy mommy is the best mommy. I have to change the prevailing attitude of "good dad's work," and "good mom's stay home," by being that change.

Oh and PS ... I think I'm going to have to order Madi this cool t-shirt :)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

On this journey ...

Today is one of those days when it is just so wonderful to be alive! The weather is perfect, the stress of the week is over, and I am enjoying a rare moment of time to myself while Madi sleeps and Jeremy runs errands. So FINALLY, I will write. :)

Lately, I have been on a journey of creating a stronger self inside and out. Becoming a mom was one of the most challenging curves life has ever thrown me. It seemed more than I could handle at times and the saying "when it rains, it pours," was more than appropriate for how life was in the past year. Missing family who were far when I needed them close, losing friendships that I thought were certain, my husband losing his job and with it our sense of security, battling for and with a close friend who was dealing with alcoholism, and the list goes on ... But somehow at the beginning of the year is was like I was given a revelation of sorts - You can care and care and care for everyone, which is wonderful, but sometimes the most important person to care for is your self. So from someone who NEVER makes New Years resolutions, one was made. I was going to learn to take time to take care of me.

I still have to make a conscious choice to not feel guilty and there are still days when the stress seems to be more than I can handle, but deep inside now I know I can handle it. So I have a choice, a choice to give into guilt, fear, and stress or to let go, relax, and know that no matter how hard I try to control things it will not change the outcome. I love this quote by Deepak Chopra,"Every time you are tempted to react in the same old way, ask if you want to be a prisoner of the past or a pioneer of the future." This brings to mind a picture of Madi, sometime while walking she likes to turn and look behind her. Most of the time this doesn't work out so well for her because she ends up bumping into walls. So it is with us, our journey forward will never be truly successful unless we stop looking back and start moving fully forward. Looking back only cause pain as we bump, moving forward creates freedom!

One thing I know for certain, ""You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think."