Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Talk to Me Tuesday: Youngest Sis Edition!

I'm am ecstatic to bring you this week's Talk to Me Tuesday, which features my youngest sister! Hooray! I rely on this wise youngster for all sorts of moral support--in fact, I always have. She's one of the most creative people I know and she is also one of the most beautiful. And, she's so funny! And crafty! She's all sorts of badass, yet always cries when watching "Extreme Home Makeover." I just plain adore her.

1. Why are you a feminist? What does being a feminist mean to you? And if you don't consider yourself to be a feminist, then why not?

When I think of a "feminist" I envision a person who wants women to have more rights than men. I'm not sure where this comes from, maybe the media. Maybe you. Are you sexist? At any rate, I wouldn't describe myself as a feminist as much as I would an equal-opportunist.

2. What place(s) make you feel truly alive?

The bathtub and cemeteries (haha!)

3. What books, music, blogs, movies, etc. would you/have you been recommending to friends?

Books: The Dark Tower series for sure! Right now, as I mentioned to you earlier, I'm reading The Mummy by Anne Rice and it's pretty dang sexy; not to mention I totally dig on Egypt (pun may or may not be intended!)

Music: The Dresden Dolls and, though I don't listen to much of her music, Amanda Palmer. I admire her and follow her on Twitter. I also love Tom Waits and Bob Dylan and Alice Cooper. I can't remember everyone I love right now, since my laptop is dead and I have no music player to refer to :(

Blogs: http://www.theness.com/neurologicablog is Steven Novella's blog. He is the host of "The Skeptic's Guide to The Universe" podcast, and I have a pretty major crush on him. Billy and I also refer to the Science-Based Medicine site a lot: http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org.

And, finally, there's the "Skeptic Blog," http://skepticblog.org. I know, pretty skeptic-y, but I don't read many blogs and all the others are about pregnancy! :)

Movies: The new Star Trek film is entertaining and full of handsome people! I also liked The Mist, based on the Stephen King story. Knocked Up was funny to watch while being...knocked up. Grosse Point Blank is good, and John Cusack is hot. El Maquinista (or, The Machinist) is pretty weird and interesting. Christian Bale is amazing in it. And, I love Zack and Miri Make a Porno.

Podcasts: "Geologic Podcast," http://www.geologicpodcast.com. Geo, my second husband. And "365 Days of Astronomy," http://365daysofastronomy.org.

I'll stop recommending things now!

4. When was the last time you laughed really hard?

This morning, I'm sure. Billy makes me laugh a lot; it's disgusting :)

5. How are you different from who you were as a child? How are you the same?

I can ask for help now, I'm not afraid of cats anymore, and I can eat ham without getting a "headache." I still love bubble baths and imaginary friends, I annoy people to give me attention, I still want Mom when I'm sick.

6. What issue(s) are you passionate about?

I'm pretty up the butt of Skepticism (yeah, with a capital "S"!). I'm also very concerned about what goes on within the public education system.

7. What have you learned about yourself within the past year?

My uterus really can get that big!

8. What are three things you want to do in your lifetime?

Raise a happy family, have sex in a car, learn everything there is to know about one particular subject.

9. And: what are the top five things you most enjoy doing right now?

Eating, prenatal yoga, reading in bed with Billy, wearing the cat in a sling, and talking with insightful and intelligent people.

(At 31 weeks!)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Iran

I haven't shared much about the protest in Iran. I've found the images haunting (to say the least). I don't know much about Mousavi, but certainly he'd be an improvement over Ahmedinejad. At the very least, we certainly know what it feels like to believe a democratic election was stolen, despite public opinion.

The way in which Iranian women are using peaceful protest inspires me. Roger Cohen's June 26th NYT article provides a nice description of these women.

I also read an MSN article on Gene Sharp's guide to nonviolent protest, "From Dictatorship to Democracy." It looks interesting.


From .faramarz on Flickr.

Indulging in Fantasy, Part I

This weekend I've been having really great conversations with my dear friend, M. Tonight she asked me a series of great, lets-pretend questions--I don't have the answers yet, so that will have to wait until tomorrow. In a similar (though way less awesome) vein, I want to play pretend by thinking of alternate careers (because my desire to toss in the PhD hat is raging near it's peak. Again!). Alternate careers (in no particular order and off the top of my head):
1. child psychiatrist
2. massage therapist
3. in-home child care provider (for like, a week)
4. civil rights lawyer
5. full-time dog walker/babysitter

All this desire and yearning! It's kind of fun to indulge, though; what are your alternate career choices?

ACK!

Last night I had a dream that I was teaching a meditation class with Sister Ellie; the only thing was I WAS NAKED! The new class that I'm running the workshop for starts tomorrow--let the anxiety dreams continue (I guess)!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Lying and Emotions

I'm really believing the power of stating (at least to yourself) how you feel and what you want without harboring the expectation that you'll get what you want. S and I had a fight this week that led me to think about the ways in which sharing feelings (at least in a heterosexual relationship) tend to be shorthand for larger expectations. For example, I shared with S that I felt "sad" and "mad" over a particular incident. For me this was a big deal because I was truly naming my emotions. What wasn't communicated was the fact that I didn't need him to fix these emotions and turn them into something positive; I trusted that my feelings were my own and that, as Thich Nhat Hanh says in Anger, any number of people could feel very different emotions in the same situation. I know what it feels like to be both mad and sad and what types of things I can do to take care of myself in that situation.

Instead of making me feel "better," I wanted S to tell me how he felt and what he wanted. This is just hard for some men, I think--especially if the emotion is anything other than anger. I've heard from different men that they are ready for a relationship when they think they have "something to offer." I don't think I've ever heard a woman say this. In fact, it seems like such a remote idea to me--I at once have a lot and nothing to offer a romantic partner! But I think when it comes to emotional connection, there is a sense that women are ones with the problems and men can be the ones to fix these problems.

This whole model turns emotions into a bad thing, which I think is something our larger culture suffers from. I think it's part of the reason we silence our children instead of explaining things to them--we get afraid that they are going to act or say something ugly. I think there is a larger fear that if we just told people how we felt, then we would isolate each other and create a culture of meanness. This is just absurd. If you're really in touch with your emotions, then you can sense that most mean things you might want to say to someone usually have a root in your own insecurity. So full honesty about emotions would bring you closer to yourself.* On the whole, I think people long for genuine connection rather than surface nicety.

For example, I completely disagree with the following sentiment. In a book review (The Liar in Your Life: The Way to Truthful Relationships) for Psychology Today (July/August 2009), Courtney Hutchison writes:
Most often we lie with good--or at least not ill--intentions: to make someone feel better, to make conversation flow, to be more impressive or likable. Would we want to live in a world without these social smoothers, where every flaw, every passing emotion, is made readily apparent?


Heavens--we wouldn't want our emotions showing! The thing is, I do want our emotions to show because I think as we get more comfortable with our large range of emotions, the more we realize that we don't have to solve them. Really, our emotions don't mean anything--they just are.


*And we can't let ourselves get to know ourselves--that would be just plain narcissistic (which is so unattractive). Instead, popular logic seems to state, lets just gloss over our true feelings and thoughts and just replay our own dysfunction in every relationship we encounter. That wouldn't be narcissistic at all . . .

Louisa May Alcott

Marmee to Amy:
"We never are too old for this, my dear, because it is a play we are playing all the time in one way or another. Our burdens are here, our road is before us, and the longing for goodness and happiness is the guide that leads us through many troubles and mistakes to the peace with is a true Celestial City."

--Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

This quote reminded me of a great story Sister Ellie shared with me this week. It's moral being that our lives take our whole lives to learn; there is no rest or break as soon as we reach some milestone (graduation, moving, job, retirement, children, divorce, etc.). To that end, I like to think of life in Marmee's words, "playing all the time in one way or another."

I hope you're having a playful weekend!

Image of Louisa May Alcott that I stole online.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ray Bradbury and Public Libraries

Last night I was catching up on some news and came across this NYT article on Ray Bradbury's fight to keep public libraries open. In it, Bradbury says,
I don’t believe in colleges and universities. I believe in libraries because most students don’t have any money. When I graduated from high school, it was during the Depression and we had no money. I couldn’t go to college, so I went to the library three days a week for 10 years.

Isn't it true that public libraries are amazing? And this story comes on the heels of another public library being threatened to close (I wish I could remember where I read that). We need our libraries--this shouldn't even be up for debate.

But, also, read the article because Ray Bradbury is just fantastic. I had the pleasure of hearing him give a talk when I was in high school; he's just a magical storyteller (in person and on the page).

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Taking care of ourselves

I think as I'm learning more about myself, I'm realizing that I don't need a good excuse to take care of myself. The fire last year allowed me to slow down and not feel quite as guilty; in many ways it was a perfect built-in excuse for not getting certain things done. And now that I feel stronger and more confident than I have before, I can sense that relying on excuses or making up explanations for why I feel a particular way only serves in creating self-doubt.

I would encourage you, if you haven't tried this before, to notice how you feel and not believe any reason(s) you have for explaining that feeling. (I'm trying to do this now, but, honestly, I'm not sure how I'm feeling. Worthless, maybe? Is that a feeling or a belief? I don't know. I feel a combo of ugly-lazy-whiney-yet-joyful. Actually, I think this feeling is anger. Hooray; I named it!)

Ok, now that you notice how you feel, what are you thinking about? Immediately my mind tries to explain my feelings to either work to get rid of bad feelings or hold on to the good. For example, I might say that I'm angry today because I expected more out of myself that I'm not doing. And then I might say, well, it's summer, I don't need to be doing so much. Or, it's hot out, of course I don't feel productive. Or, I'm ovulating and my body is trying to conserve energy. Or, so-and-so said this and that was way out of line! Or, some of my favorite go-tos: it's the patriarchy! It's capitalism! It's conservatism!

In fact, in just writing that paragraph, I could feel myself getting all wound up! The stories we create, as I'm learning, can work to charge up our feelings instead of aiding in our understanding of them.

As Sister Ellie mentioned in meditation class last night, we are so invested in analyzing things and explaining them; it's like an addiction.

Dropping our stories behind our emotions is related to self-care, I think, because when we can let go of an analysis (even if just for a split-second), we become more comfortable with ourselves the way we are. And when we are more comfortable, it becomes easier to know what we need and what we want and we don't need to find an outside reason to validate or needs and wants.

At first this feels like relinquishing control over our lives, but then it starts to feel like genuine power.

I want you to read this blog on relationships and individuality

I've mentioned this blog before, The Compassionate Eye, and I just want to repeat how great I think it is (especially over these last few days). The author, David Robert Ord, has been writing about needs and wants in relationships (romantic relationships in particular).

I've been having some big breakthroughs regarding myself and relationships, so if anyone wants to talk about this stuff with me, then I would probably nearly die of happiness!

Here's to ourselves and each other!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Talk to Me Tuesday: Kerri Edition!

I'm so excited to post my friend Kerri's responses to the Talk to Me Tuesday questions! I've known Kerri since the sixth grade and she has always been one of the most creative people I've ever known. Kerri deals in aesthetics, dancing being her main medium. Kerri is a true beauty; she's gorgeous, talented, funny, and adventurous. Here is what she has to share:

1. Why are you a feminist? What does being a feminist mean to you? And if you don't consider yourself to be a feminist, then why not?

Growing up my father tried to instill the values in me that women belong in the home, cooking their husband's dinner and raising babies. So I became a dancer! I like the old saying "Anything boys can do girls can do better," though I also like it when a boy holds the door for me or offers me a seat on the bus. I don't consider myself a feminist--if I did I'd feel I need to be more active about it. I limit my feminist activism to telling the boys at work when they're being misogynist assholes--which is pretty often!

By the way, my boss once told me to ask one of the guys to change a lightbulb. I told him I could do it and he laughed and said "you?" So I got up on the counter to do it anyways, and he saw me and said "If you're gonna stand on the bar you might as well dance and make more money"... He's old school Italian.

2. What place(s) make you feel truly alive?
The ocean, the hidden places in the park, a big bright dance studio with shiny wood floors.

3. What books, music, blogs, movies, etc. would you/have you been recommending to friends?
If I only had the time! But I am currently reading a book called The Pirate Queen, which is true stories and myths about women and the sea. And I just finished The Passion by Jeannette Winterson which was lovely!

For music, I've been listening to a ton of White Stripes, and a lot of old forties band music like Duke Ellington.

4. When was the last time you laughed really hard?
Long and hard, or just hard? Ok, I just made myself laugh.

5. How are you different from who you were as a child? How are you the same?
I still play dress up in shiny/silky/feathery outfits. I still wonder what I'll be when I grow up. My blonde hair is no longer real. I'm no longer scared of people, but I still don't talk much.

6. What issue(s) are you passionate about?
I can't stand waste, or thoughtlessness, or mean-ness. I think everyone should just share with each other, and help each other out. I'm a kindergarten teacher at heart. Or a communist.

7. What have you learned about yourself within the past year?
I'm finding limits where I thought I had none--like I actually do need to sleep and sit down once in awhile. It's that age thing.
Family has become more important to me--I'm realizing the need to stay connected with them, especially since I'm far away. But also realizing that you can build a family wherever you are.

I'm learning a lot about love--real love--it's a quiet thing. I always equated love with passion, like your world has to be turned upside down. But I think true lasting love may be just quiet and easy--and that's hard to accept sometimes!

8. What are three things you want to do in your lifetime?
Travel everywhere, find a level of satisfying success (impossible?), have a child.

9. And: what are the top five things you most enjoy doing right now?
Dancing, drinking coffee by the window, walking through the park, cuddling with my sweetheart (eww), showering (seriously, I could stay in there forever--but don't worry--I don't--I am environmentally conscious).

But enough about me . . .

I'm so excited to introduce what I hope will be a regular weekly feature, Talk to Me Tuesday. (As a quick Google search (or GoodSearch.com search) will reveal, this happens to be a regular feature of many other blogs--likeminded people are so fabulous!) I've been dying for a weekly feature especially because I so admire Spring's Sunday Art Chats on Progress on the Prairie! (I always learn so much.)

A quick(ish) introduction: In ongoing meditation class a couple weeks ago, Sister Ellie talked about affirmations and got us thinking about what people have said to us that has meant a lot to us. It got me thinking about my friend Julia, who happens to be one of the most affirming people I've ever met. In that class I realized that often times I praise someone when they've done or said something; Julia, on the other hand, has the beautiful ability to affirm accomplishments (of all sizes) and non-accomplishments (like simple existence). One of Julia's key phrases is "Good job!"

This meditation class happened at a time when I was feeling blue and couldn't figure it out, so I emailed Julia a list of questions I wanted her to answer; I wanted to get a lift from talking about other people's joys. And I wanted to share them on my blog. And I wanted to hear other people's answers, so I emailed a group of friends to see what they would say.

It's been such a pleasure reading everyone's answers! So, here goes the column (I'm already a big fan--everyone is so great!). I'm just asking the same questions to everyone, so if you haven't already sent me answers, but want to play too, then do! In fact, please do!

Some day the world will thank me



You know that feeling you get in the freezing cold winter when you really want the texture of a blended iced coffee, but long for a warm coffee?

Yeah, me too! Which is why I, Courtney, have embarked on creating the as-of-yet-unnamed textured hot coffee drink. I experimented with this the other day and came close to some positive results. It involved making chocolate malt-o-meal with chocolate milk (their idea, printed on the box) and adding it to coffee. Ratios need to be adjusted, but, overall, it was a great first attempt.

And just like all good inventions, I discovered the unexpected. Chocolate malt-o-meal made with chocolate milk (like I exclaimed on Facebook) is amazing. It's like eating cake batter only you don't feel as guilty or as susceptible to salmonella.

Kitties!

Sara invited me to a Facebook group called "All my friends are having kids and I'm getting drunk." I think I need to join! I might also start my own group, "All my friends are having kids and I'm taking pictures of my cats!" Yes! Cat pictures! Best thing ever!

Even though they should not be on the counter (which is the only place in the entire apartment they shouldn't be), I totally took glamour shots of the kitties as they sniffed the bouquet of flowers Mom and Dad sent me. The flowers are gorgeous and the cats look so cute as they nose through them. A couple pictures:


Monday, June 22, 2009

A poem by Sheila Black!

Sheila, my beloved writing group leader, is letting me post her poem, "Ode to the Other" here on my blog. I love it and it resonated with stuff I was writing/thinking about earlier as far as projection goes.

Ode to the Other

Today instead of me, I was you
and I sailed through your psyche
like a needy bird pecking for the crumbs
of your existence. I paced up and down
your character, speaking in your voice,
just to practice the nuances and raw timbres
of your throat, just to listen to the way you give
away love and to the way you accept love.
I told you to write this and I burned for
the comfort of those words of love
that came so easily to you.
Sometimes I think there is someone
else inside who runs me,
someone who shifts her mechanical gears
automatically when required to be human,
imitating others walking along beside her.
The other me is an observer, while I
am a Frankenstein made up of what the Other sees.
We need something but we don’t know what
except when we hear: "Write this."
You have a past, a present and a future.
Or "Write this": the words you’re shaping
come from a source and the words you say
may look like "a basket of tears" or a great
humping bag in the middle of your back,
about 50 lbs. now.
Let them both go.
Say this instead: that other is you.
In a body of words, in an ocean of words
You are lapping at the shore of your existence,
grasping at the hard-earned shale, sinking into
the sea-rubbed shine of pebbled sand,
and the driftwood of your memories.

Happiness!

I feel a little silly doing this, but I wanted to share that I am feeling happiness! (I share when I'm blue, so I'll share when I'm not.) It kinda started Saturday when I realized that no one else can make me happy, so I need to make sure that I'm taking care of myself (and not becoming subsumed in anyone else's business). I'm trusting that when I take care of myself, I'm able to take care of others.

This kind of realization comes a little easier when bad things are happening to you, but it's a little harder to keep in mind when life is rolling along--know what I mean?

In book group last month, Carol shared that you can't let go of things that make your heart sing. Well, you can of course, but it's just not that great. I was thinking about Carol's advice along with the phrase "follow your bliss" yesterday and I realized (again) how short life is and that it's just not worth putting up with things that are sub-bliss. (Like hearing yet another freaking Offspring song on the radio. Not worth it.)

So yesterday I just kind of followed my bliss and did what I felt like doing, which, to my surprise, included things that I needed to get done.

I was also reminded of a phrase I was taught in confirmation class so many years ago, “The satisfied soul loathes the honeycomb, but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.” Proverbs 27:7 Ok--I just found that on someone else's blog because I couldn't remember the whole phrase. And look, it's an adoption blog--I love adoption!

I actually think this phrase is backward; I think a hungry soul is always loathsome, but a satisfied soul always learning. (So suck it, Bible!)

My point? I get caught up in thinking I can control everything. This has manifest itself in my jogging routine, which I started just because I wanted to. All of a sudden it became very regimented and I told myself I wasn't doing it right and I was getting down on myself. So I had to check-in with myself and say that this is something I'm doing partly because I'm no good at it. It's called fun and there's no pressure to ever be good. With that in mind, I set out today (on a so-called "off" day) with the intention to just see what happened. And it turns out that I kind of reconciled with idea of sticking with something for five minutes and realized that running for five minutes, even if I do it three times in one jog, isn't the end of the world. I'm just learning how to relate to time and my body in a conscious way--it's fun for me.

Ok, my bliss for writing this post just ran out. Let me just share that writing group started up again yesterday and I feel so alive again! I love groups! I love writing! And my memoir is atrocious and I love it anyway, regardless! Ha!

Also, it's really really hard to not be happy when you have a kitty sitting in your lap! Here we are, all blissful:

So funny--you must read this!

Over on Shakesville--too funny!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day!

It's Father's Day and I want to celebrate my dad (because he's pretty great and I feel lucky to have him around).
1. My dad has an encyclopedic knowledge of Lord of the Rings. Seriously.

2. Dad is a great storyteller (his own and others' stories). He has a calm voice and he adds a perfect amount of detail. Then, when reaching the moral of the story (which sometimes involves making fun of someone he holds dear), he expertly uses facial expressions and hand gestures.

3. Dad has a seemingly unending capacity to listen to New Age music.

4. Dad will strike up a conversation with everyone he meets.

5. Dad loves food and is great with the barbeque. He's also makes excellent Indian food.

6. He's gotten more conservative as he's aged. This last election cycle, as my family and I were email-debating the pros/cons of Obama and Clinton, Dad emailed information about Bob Barr.

7. Dad taught me how to properly clean a record before putting it on to play.

8. Dad was a founding member of the local astronomy club and always came to my and my sisters' classes to talk about astronomy. Part of his ability to tell a good story transfers to his love of space and I have seen many kids fill with wonder as Dad shows them the stars.

9. Whenever I have a problem, Dad likes to point out that there's still room for me at home and that maybe I should just high-tail it back; perhaps Dad's idea of heaven is his house filled-up with his three girls again?

Dada, happy Father's Day! I love you!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Projection

I just finished writing that last post and I realized that I have a consuming need to be validated and right (about God only knows what) right now. I think it'd be helpful for me to pay attention to when I perceive disagreements because these might be precisely the things that I struggle with.

In fact, this may just be the truth. Projection is so fascinating! I had the experience of having a detailed conversation with my ex-husband the other day. He's coming out of an angry phase and we were processing what we thought happened in our relationship just so that each of us could gain some insight and continue moving on with our own lives.

In the process, I suggested to him that he might just attach my face whenever he feels a particular emotion such that his emotion really has nothing to do with me, per se, as it does with himself.

This has been one of my most deeply held beliefs and one of my most intricate ways of pushing intimate partners away from me. I tell partners and potential partners that they don't really know me because they don't really know themselves; I believe that they feel more gratified by my attention than they actually feel a romantic connection to me.

Isn't this such a marvelous projection, to accuse others of projection?! Then it's no wonder why I close myself off to partners and refuse to be invulnerable--I call them invulnerable first and that gives me ground (in my mind) to not open myself up.

Yesterday S and I were figuring out our plans for the evening. He changed his mind about going to party because he was tired. I understood his reasoning, but then my old insecurities came out. So I noticed them and then tried asking for some reassurance. In the past I would have ignored my insecurities and just bought into his reasoning, but I thought I'd open up a little bit and share what I was feeling (feelings that exist despite reason, you know?!). I knew my whole self-image wasn't relying on S's reassurance which was good because he responded by saying, "It's not always about you!"

Yeah, right S! It is always about me! And it's always about you, too. Instead of viewing that as a threat, I'm just going to try embracing this and see what happens.

Earlier today I was wishing that I had kept more of an open mind during college, instead of thinking I knew everything; I wished I had realized that college was just a testing ground for the rest of our lives. And then I thought (like the slow thinker I am), what if our twenties (and thirties and forties and fifties and so on) are just testing ground for the rest of our lives, too. It just feels more free that way to not expect that my beliefs and actions are set in stone.

Approval-Seeking (and Academia)

Warning: This post might be a complete projection on my part, but somehow I just don't think so. ;)

In ongoing meditation class last week, Sister Ellie had us write our response to the following question (paraphrased), "What lies behind my constant need to be right?" You might just try thinking about this one for yourself for a few minutes; I found it to be, well, delicious!

When we were talking about our responses as a group, Sister Ellie pointed out that sometimes behind the need to be right is a desire for approval. This really resonated with me!

And last night it got me thinking about academia, and especially the English discipline, which has invested so much thought and energy into various theoretical positions. In a discipline which values multiple ways of looking at texts, why are some people (me included) so quick to jump on someone else for being "wrong"?

Uh, maybe because academics are seeking out external approval and validation in a life that they, at varying times and degrees, have perceived as meaningless and cruel. (The last part of that sentence is projection, to be sure!)

I sometimes perceive my peers and colleagues as super-sensitive and insecure, especially when they sound the most sure of themselves. What would it mean, as a discipline, if we just gave up trying to be right?

We're all going to figure things out in our own time anyway, so it'd just be cool if we could stop the bickering.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Tonglen Meditation

This is such a rudimentary overview of tonglen meditation, but I just had to share and discuss it here. I've learned the following about tonglen meditation through Sister Ellie's Foundations in Meditative Practice course. Tonglen is the Tibetan word meaning "sending and taking"; essentially you envision someone else's pain and you imagine breathing it in and breathing out happiness and compassion for that person.

This works in a lot of different ways. In class Sister Ellie has us think of someone we love and imagine what it is we think they need. Then we envision taking away their suffering and giving them some peace. (In case we can't think of anyone, Sister Ellie offers up her brother who could always use more sleep!) After practicing this with a loved one, you can practice this with an enemy; similarly, you can branch out and think about multiple people at a time, too.

Before I started meditating, Sister Ellie told me the principles behind tonglen and said that it would help ease my pain. She told me this soon after my apartment fire and I just couldn't accept that anyone else would know what it feels like to have her apartment burn up in the midst of a divorce and studying for qualifying exams! At the time I politely nodded and considered my made-up childhood friend, a fictitious girl living in China. I imagined that she was now a grad student with a burned-up apartment and that I was one who truly knew her pain.

This kinda worked, but since then I've improved at being more specific about someone's needs, and this has helped me untangle some of my own feelings. And I've had to start small. I remember one meditation session where I did tonglen for everyone who had to fart, but felt self-conscious doing so because they were with a group of quiet people. Envisioning taking away the pain of an enemy truly has the ability to feel more connected to that person (which renders them less an enemy and more a fellow companion bumbling through life).

Lately I've been trying to practice tonglen while jogging. I breathe for every fat girl who wants to jog and I try to hit that space where she wants the jogging to be over even while she feels powerful doing it. Just as I was feeling discouraged about this practice day in and day out (that's a little dramatic), I came across some online communities with new joggers. They were sharing in the pains and joys of beginning to jog; I had such a good time reading their conversations! And I felt reassured that there were people just like me--a fact that I tend to forget sometimes.

I just mention this as a reminder to myself and to anyone else that we are more connected than we imagine!

Trusting Time

So I've had a couple conversations this past week wherein I was catching up/rehashing the past and both people ended up saying to me, "It couldn't have been all bad, right?!"

My knee-jerk response is, "Yes, it could have!" But I realized that I've living so intensely these past year and half that everything has often felt so immediate and grandiose/melodramatic. Which is to say that I think I am sinking a little deeper into trusting the calm of the present moment.

And, again, I'm noticing the sneaky (and overt) ways comparisons between present and past or future mes keep me miserable. It's really strange how comparisons work; I keep thinking of what will make me happy in the future and, really, staying in the moment is the only thing that can help the future. Sometimes it's easier to remember this than others. Which is to say that it's easy for me to forget that this is the pattern that prevents me from experiencing happiness.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Viva la vulva!

I just got the all-clear from my sister that everyone knows so now I can share: MY SISTER IS PREGNANT WITH A GIRL!

Hoorayhoorayhoorayhooray!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Elections

I haven't been reading much more than headlines when it comes to the Iranian election. Although, the NYT had an interesting piece on the peaceful protests in Iran.

The NYT also ran this article on a town in Arizona that settled a tied election by drawing cards. This made me laugh and shake my head at the same time!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

OKC Botanical Gardens

S and I visited the Oklahoma City Botanical Gardens on Sunday, when we rearranged our plans for the day. It was unexpected to be tourists in OKC, but luckily I had my camera with me. Luckily.

It was freaking hot and muggy out, but overall we had a lot of fun. In fact we met some strangers who live just a lake away from where my mom grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan--who lives there?!

I loved spending energy noticing the little details of the various plants in the gardens. And then outside there were lots of birds, turtles, and fish around, and they were sooooo cuuuuuute! The attention to detail transfered to my jog today (which I grudgingly did); I noticed a little turtle jump off a limb and into the lake--it looked like a belly flop! I'm pretty much in love with turtles right now; they are almost as great as baby cows!



Dragonmoon Tea Co.

My friend (and probably yours, too) M, works at Dragonmoon Tea Co. here in Tulsa. I had the great privilege of going there for lunch and IT WAS FABULOUS!

M introduced me to the owners, two sisters in their early 60s, Sara and Susan. They are so kind, funny, and talented.

You simply must go there; it's an old house (decorated in absolutely fabulous art--some local and some from Paris and California) on Harvard and 21st-ish.

I had the turkey breast on a croissant (which had a cranberry chutney and cream cheese) with the potato salad. Then M surprised me with the chocolate pudding, which pretty much gave me an instant orgasm.

Dragonmoon Tea Co. has been listed as Oklahoma's number one kept secret by Oklahoma magazine (forthcoming) and it has been praised by world-travelers as having the best high tea in the world.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Acknowledging and Naming Fears

My secret crush on Martha Beck is now officially public: I adore her! I'm actually going to start reading her books instead of just her column in O, The Oprah Magazine.

This month she writes about naming your secret fears. Brenda Anderson recommends this, too, in Playing the Quantum Field.

After some emotionally draining events of the past two days (Super G and my sister and brother-in-law not visiting, contact with my ex-husband, shifting barometric pressure, etc.), I realized I needed a date with myself. So I took out some art supplies and just started playing around with what's behind some of my concerns.

On several sheets of paper I'd write: "Worst fear: [school, relationship, health, etc.] Edition" and then just brainstorm what I was afraid of. There were some common themes. When I wrote my school fears I said I was afraid that the only way I could make a career is if I was full of shit or unhappy. It lead to some deeper concerns about authenticity and happiness. I have a belief that others' (especially romantic partner's and especially angry romantic partner's) view of myself is more important than my own.

Heaven forbid if I, or anyone, was happy with who I actually am! And heaven forbid I stop making up stories, and sometimes creating them in real life, to provoke other's anger or disappointment in me.

Quote on relationships and emotions

I found this on The Compassionate Eye, Namaste Publishing's blog:
We can never be one, which is a state of emotional dependence. But we can hold hands and walk through life close to each other—once we have learned how to be true to ourselves, without losing ourselves under the emotional impact of the other.

Love it! I really recommend this blog; I have the belief it's been personally speaking to me these past few days.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Trust

Just some thoughts:

I love the title of Alice Walker's book of poetry, Absolute Trust in the Goodness of the Earth.

So what about "absolute trust" in the fact that people will be people? I watched Jesus Camp the other day and, yes, I freaked the fuck out, but I also thought that we are all indoctrinated with different beliefs and each of us are responsible for finding our ways through it all. For sure there are varying degrees of indoctrination and I believe real harm is being done to these kids. And yet our individual beliefs are so amorphous and, usually, shifting and evolving.

I see a similarity in outrage against Evangelicals as I see in outrage against Oprah. It's like some people, people whom I deeply love and adore (like liberals, my brother-in-law, and some reporters), somehow believe that all people who follow Oprah are buying into pseudoscience and faux-self-esteem. It seems that there's an overall lack of trust that people can discern between helpful and unhelpful information. What works for someone may not work for another person. And even what works for a lot of people may not be the truth. But untruths can lead to truths because it's all connected (that's just what I think and am trusting).

I realize that I have the belief that good intentions (however nonquantifiable) count for something. I don't think that's unnecessarily naive, but perhaps it's learning to have compassion for people who are open to making mistakes.

That thought is related to a great conversation I had with an old friend from college. He was telling me how he was learning that when he hands over work to a professor while saying something like, "It's just a draft," then he's setting up a wall that disallows the other person from giving his/her true feedback response. We talked about how this is related to perfectionism.

So I ask: who demands us to be perfect? Some Evangelical Christians raise their kids in psychologically harmful ways. Some Oprah guests make claim to larger truths than what their background allows. But, everyone's just trying to make it in the world. And usually people have multiple inroads to their life truths. Even like-minded people can be so different. Blaming people for putting together their own world-view probably isn't as helpful as cultivating compassion and enhancing our own lives.

I mention this just because I'm learning to let go of some blame, and I think that allows more room for trust.

Hrmph

Fuck you small print: "Pudding will not set if made with soy milk."

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Kid Fever!

I babysat for two new kids today; sisters aged 4 and 3! I had so much fun with them. We went to the park, blew bubbles, played out back, colored with chalk, ate lunch, swam, and played with clay. Since last week I babysat for two brothers about the same age, my mind kept making comparisons between the sets of kids. I don't necessarily have anything invested in those comparisons. It's just such a joy hanging out with kids and seeing how they relate to the world and to each other.

I especially enjoy seeing how the oldest treats the younger sibling. I did notice that I tended to be harder on the oldest child (like don't be so bossy, let everyone have a turn, etc.). Instead of just coming down with those mandates, I tried to be more of an active listener and ask each kid what she was feeling. Whatever feelings of frustration were fleeting and soon forgotten--I think that's just the way of kids (especially in the midst of such a gorgeous summer day)!

But my favorite older sister quote was when we were in the pool and her and her sister were jumping off the steps. They were going back to the steps to jump again when the oldest calls out, "It's not a race, sister! [swim to the steps] I beated you!"

I thought to myself that this older sister may struggle with that notion of rejection of competition versus recognition for quite some time! I certainly relate to it as an older sister myself!

Reading Adoptive Families has also been helpful in showing me some stages of childhood development. This came in handy today. I am definitely a fan of Adoptive Families; the April issue features book reviews of progressive-minded books, like Rebecca Walker's One Big Happy Family.

And, in fantastic kid news, Super G will be here in two and half days!

A place I went tonight

[This is written in about the most unfiltered voice I have access to right now. So it is what it is, you know?!]

What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life?
The world would split open.

--Muriel Rukeyser (quote brought to my attention by Sue Monk Kidd in The Dance of the Dissident Daughter, which was brought to my attention by my dear friend Julia)

I was in Plato’s cave as I watched my shadow dance on the bedroom wall. I was underneath Aquinas’ tree, contemplating God. I was timeless; truth was everything and nothing. Definitions of identity were everything and nothing, too.

Facts: I went to college at Bucknell University. I attended classes there.

Facts: My only truths come from relations. Which Bucknell did I attend? It was my own experience. It was my truth. Bucknell University is unstable. It doesn’t mean any one thing to any one person. It’s not even a college. What is college anyway? A place to learn? Who actually wants to learn, though? And if you wanted to learn, then why would you need to go to a college? What is college anyway? A privilege?

Who the fuck cares?!

Sometimes I go to the land of who the fuck cares and it feels so lonely and futile.

Tonight I went there and I saw expansion and freedom. In fact, I found my smile. I found my power.

Tonight I practiced tonglen meditation for all women who realized that they were not defined by their romantic relationships. These women recognize that they can’t avoid previous patterns because the beast you run from is the one that’s seeking you. So they aren’t trying anymore. They just aren’t trying anymore.

I recognized my pattern. I remembered Carol’s image that we are always spiraling and spiraling and that along the way we learn to make larger loops around. We swirl outwards.

This reminded me of a labyrinth. A way in and a way out. The way in was an accident and a miracle. The way out is death. Death, I tell you!

I told Carol I was more afraid of being alone than being dead. Dead is definite, but being alone seemed infinite in it’s misery.

I was mistaken, Carol!

I remember I told Jason, when I was frustrated over Mom saying I was rebounding on him and that I’m just making the same mistakes all over again, “I might live my whole life making the same mistake over and over!”

How am I to know?!

Everything I’ve held on to, all definitions of me, only make sense in relation to someone else. I am not a woman if there aren’t men. And I’ve scare-quoted the hell out of my past six years. I could give a flying fuck if I’m a woman or “woman” or neither and both. (I’ve also and/or-ed the hell out of these past years, too.) And goddamned if I’m going to parenthesize these next fucking years.

See, even our grammar repeats the same mistakes. (Of course it does. That’s not even a new realization. But, again, who the fuck cares?)

The thing is: I found joy tonight. I danced, on my bed, to Alanis Morissette’s “So Unsexy.” I drank green tea with soy milk and honey. I brushed my teeth with my new toothbrush. I mention these details because it doesn’t matter.

I got so angry and talked to my youngest sister about my anger. And there were so many possibilities and I knew I couldn’t solve the problem of my anger.

This was the first time I saw that I couldn’t solve a problem.

So I laughed instead. And now I’m learning.

And the diarrhea I had all day has subsided, I think. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that all the emotional upheaval of the past few days manifest itself in my digestive system. I never thought it was a coincidence that I could never shit when my ex-boyfriend was visiting.

But, I’ve been wrong before about my hunches and notions of coincidence.

I had a hunch that I was losing weight, so I measured myself tonight. My hunch was a little right. The point is, three years ago I thought I was losing weight because I felt my belly differently. But I was actually gaining weight. That was actually the most I’ve weighed in my life. I mention this because I thought I was gaining belly weight the other day. But, actually, I’m losing weight in my boobs. So now I see more of my belly. I’ve wanted to be skinny, but now I see my tubby belly for what it is—and I kinda want my fat boobs back so I don’t have to see what I see.

Someone said you can’t unsee what you’ve seen.

The point is, I can explain anything and I always think I’m right. Until later and I say oh, next time I’ll consider this other thing.

Oh, god, puh-lease. Can we just drop it? Can we drop this?!

I want to stop the comparisons. I want to stop, especially, comparing myself with who I used to be and who I might be.

When I let go of comparisons, I lose identity.

I know this is true because something hurts me in the area of my heart.

This could be a death and it could also be love.

All these questions of who am I who am I who am I and what am I doing. All the same question. To that I say, fuck. And I say fuck just because it’s the most perfect word.

Living with the utter instability of identity and finding peace, instead of despair, with that state. This is a new place and this is where I went tonight.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sense of Humor: Found

Meditating last night and talking on the phone with Sassy has helped ease the blues. I work up in a good mood and, as if to solidify the good mood, I have to laugh because the cats broke into the closet and started playing with the tampons.

For the record, I'm still against tampons because the bleached cotton releases dioxins into women's bodies. And I'm not really all for the cats playing with them, but this was kinda funny. It's a blurry picture, but here's LZ and the 'pons:

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Blues further noticed, part II

I met with Sister Ellie today and she helped me figure out some of my feelings. She helped me realize that I know I’m making progress, but that I don’t get a lift out of that feeling of progress.

In previous bluesy feelings, I spin my wheels thinking about the cause of the perceived problem. Is it my relationship? Is it my chosen profession? (This is my favorite one to think about.) Is it the place I live? Is it my period? Is it because I didn’t get enough sleep? Am I jealous of someone else? It’s because I’m an inherent failure, isn’t it? And when will those fucking dishes get cleaned? And why can’t I try harder? And I didn’t have this problem last week—what happened to me? Why can’t I just get over it already?!

Um, I could keep going! Does this self-talk sound familiar to you?

The day I went to look at cats for the first time Sara was with me. After I paid for LZ and was told he’d have to have his surgery (and so I couldn’t take him with me), Sara and I went out for lunch together. I was not feeling well and I remember talking to her about relationship stuff. She told me something to the extent that I was just going to make myself crazy. I said, I know, I’ll stop. She responded by not letting me shut down, but rather encouraged me to think what was really behind my spinning. She wanted me to explore what I was really feeling—to see the root cause instead of the symptom.

This was one of the first times I considered my feelings and tried to stay out of guessing what someone else was feeling or thinking. Just like I’m trying to not get inside someone else’s skin (so to speak), I’m also trying to resist thinking about ways to solve my problems; I’m coming out of a state of delusion (and it feels like butt, surprisingly).

In the process of talking to Sister Ellie, we explored the difference in thinking of yourself as your adversary versus that of your advocate. In my bluesy state, I made myself into my enemy; in fact, most everyone was my enemy. My crankiness fed into self-isolation and a false sense of rebellion. I can’t feel good when I’m battling myself. Just like I believe in peace, I believe in laying down my own arms against myself (there’s some imagery to play with). I wasn’t acting like my advocate, or my own best friend (as I like to say).

I have lots of tools for my own self-care, but I am kinda stumped as to how I would act as my own best friend right now. But it honestly does help to have this realization!

Blues further noticed

So I'm feeling like a pisshead today (I don't really know what a pisshead is--maybe someone who's feeling pissy and caught up in thoughts. Like pissy in the head. I don't care what it means, actually (she said, like a true pisshead).). I proclaimed earlier that I don't want to learn things, I just want to know them. A rejection of process.

I lose my patience. I demand things happen the way I envision they should be happening. I start to imagine different future scenarios. I don't do the things I know I can do. I walk around with grumpy face. I annoy myself! I think I'm also a little out of touch with my sense of humor--where is that girl?!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Credo Mobile

I received this offer, via email, by The Nation for Credo Mobile phones: http://action.credomobile.com/specialoffers/may09/thenation1b.html.

Does anyone have service with them or know more about them? They seem like a good company, but I hate switching things--it's just a pain in the ass. I'd love more info!

Feelin' a little blue and confused

Maybe it's just a resistance to the present moment, but I'm just feeling kind of blue, unexpectedly. My mind is spinning and spinning to find the cause, even though I know there's not really a solution to my feelings (because my feelings aren't problems).

I've been feeling a little bottled-up, perhaps. I haven't been writing and I've been feeling like a hungry ghost. I have a long list of things to do (some of which I want to do and others of which I wouldn't mind doing), but I'm not doing any of those things. I'm anxious about problems that don't even exist. I'm craving connection with others, yet I'm ignoring my cats. I feel like a closet genius and the biggest dumb ass, all at the same time. I think I'm trying to make myself in to an outsider--I think I do this when I'm blue. What a mood! I'll notice it and the best I can do is acknowledge it, I suppose!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Margaret Cho: Love Her!

I've been watching Notorious C.H.O. on Netflix, and needed to share this clip (found on YouTube; thanks, YouTube!). I love Margaret Cho--she is so funny!

Communing with Nature

S and I went to Red Rock Canyon State Park in Hinton, OK this weekend--hooray for camping! Well, the camping and hiking were a little lame, but it was a beautiful place to experience. The hiking that did exist was gorgeous--rock, flowers, trees, and even some altitude!


Saturday, June 6, 2009

Up early again on a Saturday.

I had a great idea this morning and then I got distracted posting stuff on Facebook that I forgot my ideas (or now they don't seem that great).

It reminded me of this study S heard about saying that public schools train students to not focus on any one thing for very long. The idea being that a short attention span will help in combat, along with the ability to follow others' orders.

I think Facebook could be a similar mechanism. (Not that it's really any different from the rest of the internet, email, etc.)

This is not my point this morning.

My main point this morning being: I fancy myself a closet rebel, but what do I rebel against? Only the most conformist situations. (Like where I went to college and the institution of marriage.) It seems to me that I've been living my life using a broad paint brush, but I'm now looking for a smaller brush, to fill in some detail.

But all of this makes me think about dissent and it's connection to privilege. At what point does dissent render itself mainstream and therefore isn't dissent any longer?

I'm thinking about all this in connection to my studies (of course, inevitably). America began as a country of dissenters, defined against other forms of government. We're now like the country without a cause; we used to protest other governments, but now we're our own worst enemy.

"It occurs to me that I am America / I am talking to myself again." (Ginsberg; posting full poem below!)

Sorry for the wonky line breaks; the link below will take you to a better full-text version.

"America," by Allen Ginsberg
America I've given you all and now I'm nothing.
America two dollars and twenty-seven cents January 17, 1956.
I can't stand my own mind.
America when will we end the human war?
Go fuck yourself with your atom bomb
I don't feel good don't bother me.
I won't write my poem till I'm in my right mind.
America when will you be angelic?
When will you take off your clothes?
When will you look at yourself through the grave?
When will you be worthy of your million Trotskyites?
America why are your libraries full of tears?
America when will you send your eggs to India?
I'm sick of your insane demands.
When can I go into the supermarket and buy what I need with my good looks?
America after all it is you and I who are perfect not the next world.
Your machinery is too much for me.
You made me want to be a saint.
There must be some other way to settle this argument.
Burroughs is in Tangiers I don't think he'll come back it's sinister.
Are you being sinister or is this some form of practical joke?
I'm trying to come to the point.
I refuse to give up my obsession.
America stop pushing I know what I'm doing.
America the plum blossoms are falling.
I haven't read the newspapers for months, everyday somebody goes on trial for
murder.
America I feel sentimental about the Wobblies.
America I used to be a communist when I was a kid and I'm not sorry.
I smoke marijuana every chance I get.
I sit in my house for days on end and stare at the roses in the closet.
When I go to Chinatown I get drunk and never get laid.
My mind is made up there's going to be trouble.
You should have seen me reading Marx.
My psychoanalyst thinks I'm perfectly right.
I won't say the Lord's Prayer.
I have mystical visions and cosmic vibrations.
America I still haven't told you what you did to Uncle Max after he came over
from Russia.

I'm addressing you.
Are you going to let our emotional life be run by Time Magazine?
I'm obsessed by Time Magazine.
I read it every week.
Its cover stares at me every time I slink past the corner candystore.
I read it in the basement of the Berkeley Public Library.
It's always telling me about responsibility. Businessmen are serious. Movie
producers are serious. Everybody's serious but me.
It occurs to me that I am America.
I am talking to myself again.

Asia is rising against me.
I haven't got a chinaman's chance.
I'd better consider my national resources.
My national resources consist of two joints of marijuana millions of genitals
an unpublishable private literature that goes 1400 miles and hour and
twentyfivethousand mental institutions.
I say nothing about my prisons nor the millions of underpriviliged who live in
my flowerpots under the light of five hundred suns.
I have abolished the whorehouses of France, Tangiers is the next to go.
My ambition is to be President despite the fact that I'm a Catholic.

America how can I write a holy litany in your silly mood?
I will continue like Henry Ford my strophes are as individual as his
automobiles more so they're all different sexes
America I will sell you strophes $2500 apiece $500 down on your old strophe
America free Tom Mooney
America save the Spanish Loyalists
America Sacco & Vanzetti must not die
America I am the Scottsboro boys.
America when I was seven momma took me to Communist Cell meetings they
sold us garbanzos a handful per ticket a ticket costs a nickel and the
speeches were free everybody was angelic and sentimental about the
workers it was all so sincere you have no idea what a good thing the party
was in 1835 Scott Nearing was a grand old man a real mensch Mother
Bloor made me cry I once saw Israel Amter plain. Everybody must have
been a spy.
America you don're really want to go to war.
America it's them bad Russians.
Them Russians them Russians and them Chinamen. And them Russians.
The Russia wants to eat us alive. The Russia's power mad. She wants to take
our cars from out our garages.
Her wants to grab Chicago. Her needs a Red Reader's Digest. her wants our
auto plants in Siberia. Him big bureaucracy running our fillingstations.
That no good. Ugh. Him makes Indians learn read. Him need big black niggers.
Hah. Her make us all work sixteen hours a day. Help.
America this is quite serious.
America this is the impression I get from looking in the television set.
America is this correct?
I'd better get right down to the job.
It's true I don't want to join the Army or turn lathes in precision parts
factories, I'm nearsighted and psychopathic anyway.
America I'm putting my queer shoulder to the wheel.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

With all due respect to life, music, and former partners . . .

Catharsis: comes tonight in the form of killing a monster cockroach with ex-boyfriend's band's cd.

Class Announcements

Alright y'all, here's the news.

1. Sheila is starting up her creative writing class again on June 14 at 4 pm. It's four weeks long and costs $50. It's great for anyone who is writing and needs a group as well as those who aren't writing, but want/wish/need to be.

2. Sister Ellie is beginning the next round of meditation classes on June 17. It's six weeks long (Wednesdays from 6-7:15) and costs $80. It's great for anyone who could use some help with stress reduction. The class is open to people of any or no faith. Ellie is very open-minded and helpful. The class is filling up quickly, so if you're at all interested, then sign up quickly!

3. Also, what's up for the next book we could be reading for the political book club? Sara mentioned doing some eco readings, yes?

Some more about me

So, unfortunately and fortunately, my parents are unable to visit this weekend. Fortunate because now I don't have to scramble and get my apartment cleaned and unfortunate because I wanted to spend time with them in my own space. Unfortunate because we were going to have fun together, but fortunate because now I can blog about my haircut now instead of waiting to surprise my parents with the new 'do.

I loved having long hair because I felt kinda powerful with it. But then I felt more like it was a burden and it just didn't look good to me. So, after three freaking hours getting it cut and dyed here's what happened:

Before:


After:


A little closer up:

Monday, June 1, 2009

Mothering Bodies

So one-half of my readership (my littlest sis) sent me a link to the website "The Shape of a Mother."

The creator of the site, Bonnie, writes:
One day I sat in a restaurant in Anaheim, California eating breakfast, when a woman passed by my table with her infant carrier in tow. As she lifted it up to fit between the tables, her shirt raised and I saw that, although she was at a healthy weight and her body was fit, she had that same extra skin hanging around her belly that I do. It occurred to me that a post-pregnancy body is one of this society's greatest secrets; all we see of the female body is that which is airbrushed and perfect, and if we look any different, we hide it from the light of day in fear of being seen. That makes me want to cry. Sure we all talk about the sagging boobs and other parts, but no one ever sees them. Or if they do, it's in comical form, mocking the beauty that created and nourished our children.

It is my dream, then, to create this website where women of all ages, shapes, sizes and nationalities can share images of their bodies so it will no longer be secret. So we can finally see what women really look like sans airbrushes and plastic surgery. I think it would be nothing short of amazing if a few of our hearts are healed, or if we begin to cherish our new bodies which have done so much for the human race. What if the next generation grows up knowing how normal our bodies are? How truly awesome would that be?

This is an amazing site. Thanks, pregnant sister, for sending this to me!