Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A Birth At Home

Sweet baby girl probably somewhere around 1981
I am going to give you a little background on this next childhood memory. While the details are foggy, I was only about 5 years old at the time, what I do remember clearly is that I was a privileged witness to something  very special.
During this era we lived in a remote valley on the Columbia River in Eastern Washington. Nestled in woods there were two rustic pine-sided cabins, equipped with electricity and limited indoor plumbing. (Hot and cold running water but no flush toilets) We used a wood burning iron oven for both heat and cooking.  We kept large and prolific gardens, and orchards. We also kept chickens for eggs and meat. We were at least an hour and half from a hospital and had no phones. So when I say we lived like pioneers I am not exaggerating. There were also several yurts perched on earthen platforms that served as the sleeping spaces for the several families that called this place home.  These were kept warm in the winter by hanging colorful parachutes from the ceilings, and lining the walls with moving blankets. Each one equipped with a wood stove. All in all we were warm and well fed. It was in the larger of the two cabins where this special event took place.
A Birth at Home
Me and my small step brother sit quietly at the top of the stairs listening to the bustle below. The hushed voices of the grownups floating up to us. The anticipation in the air is palpable, a baby is coming! We have been awaiting this day for a very long time. We are very quiet and do exactly as we are told.
Soon we are ushered downstairs to sit quietly in the corner of the dimly lit room. I don’t know if it is dawn or dusk, but the lights are low, voices are hushed, and the air smells of incense and tea. There are women working at the foot of my Godmothers bed, speaking words of encouragement. The men are laughing and speaking quietly to each other, helping to carry in basins of warm water and staying out of the way.
Low moans are coming from the bed, I sense that there is pain, but it doesn’t frighten me. When I look around the room the faces of the grownups reflect anticipation and joy. Soon my mother comes for my little brother and I, and walks us quietly to where we can see. The baby is almost here! I see a head squeezing through the birth canal, and suddenly with a gush the rest of baby enters the world.
It’s a girl! The air is filled with laughter and celebration.  The women help my Godmother to clean up and the small baby girl is washed and wrapped in blankets. My brother and I are allowed to look at her and touch her now. She is so tiny and wrinkled and her head is pointed, my mother tells me this is because she was so squished coming out.  We look at her and touch her soft cheeks and marvel at her tiny fingers and toes.
I know I have witnessed something miraculous, I know that it is special. The room is filled with love, and joy…it’s the peaceful beginning of a new life.
This baby girl, while from different genetic parentage than I, is every bit my sister today. I am blessed that I was able to be there for her very first moments on earth. She has grown to be an intelligent beautiful woman whom I admire very much.  Our mutual experience with communal living and the tight relationships of our families has bonded us together for life.  
As a side note, I am very opposed to the way our society treats birth as a medical condition. I did not have my children at home partly due to the fact I did could not find anyone to deliver the baby in my home environment, and partly due to the fear of the unknown. I had my first child in a birth center with very little intervention, and my second in a hospital because there was no one available to deliver me in my domicile. The two experiences were vastly different, and only served to strengthen my belief that our system is lacking.
Child birth is a natural occurrence and yes, many things can go wrong, but in all likelihood will not. We are frightened into thinking medical intervention is necessary. Many times the interventions received lead to more complications. My hope is that one day it will be the norm to birth at home, with family and loved ones, and that the glaring medical lights and latex gloved hands will be reserved for the very worst case scenarios.  Happy birthday!
Oh! I'm adding this in as an after post edit, this baby girl I witnessed coming into the world, in turn was witness to the birth of my first born! Now that, my friends is a beautiful circle! 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Think Your Way To Happy

Peace of mind does not mean everything is right with the world and you are care free. It means you acknowledge your world the way it is, are doing what you can to better your reality, and accommodate whatever it is that you cannot change. It is a meditation in acceptance. I think when you reach this place in your mind you radiate a positive energy that comes back to you tenfold and amazing things start happening.
When you find peace of mind, your eyes are open to the goodness, fullness, and opportunities life offers you. You clearly see the difference between “want” and “need” and whatever you need comes easily, and many of the things you want follow. It’s about the ability to see these things.
When you let your mind wander into negative thought patterns, self doubt, insecurities, etc…It makes it very hard to recognize the goodness in your life that is already there, waiting for you to notice. It takes only a few moments, but sometimes a monumental effort to redirect your mind. If you can just for a minute or two, focus on one thing, one tiny thing that you are grateful for in your life you can begin to make a shift.
The sun on your shoulder, your faithful dog, the view from your office, anything can help. I have been waking up each day, trying to start my day with one positive thought, knowing it will set the tone for my day. I am not naive, I know life gets really rough, and sometimes one needs time to grieve or be angry, I am just referring to a whole-life practice.
I find by practicing this I actually develop a buffer to others negative energy, I don’t get sucked into drama, and when something happens in my life that’s not what I wanted or anticipated, I am able to let it just pass through. That’s not to say I don’t want to listen or reflect when loved ones come to me with grief or sorrow, It just means I put myself in a position to do what I can to help, and can let go of the rest.
Developing a pattern of positive thought can change your life.  Peace of mind, or happiness is not given to us by some outside force, it’s up to each individual to find or create their own happiness. To look for it outside yourself is not only giving away your power, but is also a fruitless venture. I know this is all very cliché, but it’s been my focus of late and just thought I would share. I am currently living my life with a very full heart and a peaceful mind. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Standing On The Precipice Of Awesome

Sometimes in ones life everything is so right, that quite literally your mind and body are buzzing with positive energy. It’s as if one little piece of your lifes' puzzle found its place, and then a dozen others followed suit. Suddenly your life fits.
Whatever it is that your soul yearns for is right there, within your grasp, and now, now you are empowered to reach out and grasp it.  Even the not-quite-right things are okay, you are going to beat this game of life.
You can feel the things that held you back before losing their grip, fear, self doubt, lack of inspiration, and you begin to step away. Like setting foot on a new path with a light pack, the sun filtering through the trees, birds are singing, and all is right with the world.
I know it’s not possible to always feel this way, but when you do, when you are most alive and awake to your life, your creative juice, the universe sees it. Opportunities come and you know without a doubt what to do with them. You know what to do to make amends, to clean up your messes, solve your problems, to make your life amazing. 

When you're standing on the precipice of awesome…you JUMP!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Coloring Outside the Lines and other “Antisocial" Behaviors

I have had people tell me I’m stubborn and even “combative” which while I can see why they might think that, I don’t see myself that way. Rather, I am unwilling to accept things as they are just because “most people” think that’s the way it should be.  In fact, I like to challenge the status quo, and challenge myself to try to see things the way others might. But I will always question someone if they are trying to be the boss of me. 

I grew up in a commune whose members relished going against the grain, for example, not using money for a period of time, not putting their birthdays on their ID’s, instead telling the powers that be they were “eternal”.  They also practiced non-monogamy or “free love” and other such things, that fly in face of acceptable behavior in our rather puritanical Christian dominated society. Ironically, within the community, expressing dissent with the communes’ leader and his guidelines, or being autonomous or independent in any way was highly discouraged.

So I believe I ended up with an interesting mix of influences. I was taught by example both to thumb your nose at established cultural norms but also to taught to accept blindly what I was told by my “elders” Guess which one won out? I love coloring outside the lines, I don’t like “society” to dictate to me what I should and shouldn't do, other than your basic good and evil issues such as rape and murder, the types of rights and wrongs that basically cross all cultures, or harm innocents. 

Beyond that, I find it rather distasteful for the government to have their proverbial hands on my body, or in my home.  (I did not give them consent, last I checked that was rape.) Now I understand there are people who feel we need to control what other people put in their bodies, or do behind their bedroom doors, or even how to educate their children, because we hold the higher moral ground don’t we?  Wrongo! It’s appalling to me to think somebody else can dictate those kinds of choices for anyone else but themselves.

I understand, and have heard, all the arguments.  There are many issues we make broad and sweeping laws to try to prevent, and fail miserably. Last I checked, not selling liquor on Sundays hasn't prevented alcoholic people from being alcoholic, illegal drugs are used by the masses every day turning good people into "criminals", and for Petes' sake you can't stop a gay from gay!  But this country was founded on “In God We Trust” wasn't it? Shouldn't we guide people to be morally upstanding? Wrongo…It was established with the idea that people would be free to practice whatever religion or lack thereof without fear of persecution, and with freedom as a foundation.

What we need to stop doing is wasting time and money trying to monitor people’s moral values; WE ARE NOT ALL THE SAME!  If you want to go to church every Sunday and abstain from alcohol, guess what? That’s fine.  You are entitled. Worship Chickens? Have at it. Believe Aliens are coming to take you off the earth and into heaven…enjoy the wait. Just don’t try to force your beliefs on the rest of us. The War on drugs, the endless battle to suppress gay rights, restricting womens' access to healthcare etc…is heavily influenced by antiquated religious beliefs, and is a huge waste of resources.

And now instead of wasting all that money enforcing and arguing those ridiculous and tedious “moral judgment laws” lets EDUCATE! Educate our children about dangerous substances, responsible sex, and tolerance. Let’s TREAT addictions and mental health issues…and most importantly RESPECT peoples' choices to live their lives how they wish, instead of forcibly trying to make people conform. Because in the long run, that is the only thing that makes us a free society. I would like religion to get its dirty hands out of government, and let us have real “American Freedom.”

Now lets all go smoke a joint and get gay married! 

Friday, August 2, 2013

Stories as Fragile as Butterfly Wings

 When I started writing my blog I wanted to share my story, I have been told it’s an interesting one, and I believe it so. I also believe every person has an intimate and beautiful story that most of us will never see or hear, because something is lost in telling, even if you are one of brave few who try. So I began, but was barely able to scratch the surface. What I have found in my evolution as a blogger/writer, is that I am more inclined to share my thoughts, or stream of consciousness, and my opinions, (being both steadfast and flexible in my beliefs), than I am to chronicle my life.  

Perhaps it’s the narcissism, of someone who feels as if the world can't live without seeing what is in the dark recesses of her mind. Maybe it’s just the voice of someone who has in the past felt unheard and now shouts from the tops of mountains, finding comfort in the sound of her own voice. Whatever it is, I am driven to turn my thoughts inside out and expose them to light, all my musings, both the joyful and miserable.

But even more so, I feel that my musings are like lifting mental weights, practice for something more. I am still quite inadequate at expressing my thoughts as I want to. I have beautiful thoughts floating around in my mind like little orbs of light, beautiful colors and sounds and smells, only lasting a fleeting moment and then they are gone. I try to capture as many as I can, but I always seem to fall desperately short.  Like chasing a beautiful butterfly through a field of daisies, what will you do with it even if you are able catch it? Sometimes catching it harms the fragile creature, if your touch is not delicate enough.

Sometimes there are a few beautiful moments, when my thoughts transform from those little orbs of light, or fluttering wings, to something poetic and pure, in black and white on the page, but that is infrequent.  I have words like incandescent, and indelible, puritanical and putrid, audacity and auspicious, floating around in my brain…just words by themselves but to capture them, to use them to tell a story, to make someone hear, see and experience  almost as clearly as I do, what I am trying to express... is elusive.

And so I write…I write and write and write. Sometimes it’s dull and disappointing, (or dismal and drab if I feel poetic) But sometimes, very very infrequently, I capture a light, it’s like the words flow through me, they are of me, and are mine, but also take on a life of their own.  Fragile and yet tangible, and I am able to use those words to paint the pictures in my mind. It’s those moments I write for.
Thank you dear reader, for wading through the dismal and drab, for the rare gem, the fragile butterfly, that is a fleeting glimpse of the little lights in my mind.