25 August, 2012

Shofar #BlogElul 7

I can't remember when I last heard a shofar.  Until my cousin's recent Bat Mitzvah weekend I had not stepped in a shul, except for a historic tour, in over 11 years.  Despite my grapplings with a faith that treats women as second-class citizens and repeatedly sanctions genocidal land-grab in the name of a mountain-dwelling, masculine war deity, I did always love to hear the shofar.  Its clarion call echoes the ancient tradition of a people who lived closer to the cycles of life and death, blood and sacrifice than do many of us now.  It heralds a demarcation from day-to-day life.  Stop the presses, it says.  Pay attention. Be here, fully open to this moment.

I have thought about attending High Holiday services again.  The crispness of Fall feels like a wonderful time to pause and deeply reflect.  Not to throw the baby out with the bathwater; there are many aspects of Judaism that I find beautiful.  The Jewish Renewal Community in Boulder showed me a progressive, feminine-affirming Judaism.  But ironically enough, the only congregation here that doesn't charge an arm and a leg for tickets is the Orthodox one.

I will not sit in a segregated section because some guy might get distracted by my feminine wiles from his high calling of convening with G-d.  Life and Spirit are all around us, all the time, to be embraced and felt with passion.

I will not sit in a segregated section because I might be "impure."  My body is holy.  My blood gives life.  If that's not Sacred, what is?

I will not be content solely to keep house and make babies while the menfolk get to challenge their minds.  I have plenty to offer this world.  Why limit half of the population?

I will not cover myself in wigs and long skirts.  I will not silence my outrage that women who dress immodestly in Israel are often victims of irrationally misogynistic violence.  That women may not pray equally to men at the Western Wall.  That women in ultratraditional marriages may not initiate a divorce.  That with a few notable exceptions, our ancient tales are written by and about the patriarchy.  My T'kiyah bellows "knock it off!"

24 August, 2012

Faith: #BlogElul 6

Miss Hortense Robinson was a traditional midwife who lived and served in Belize.  She spoke with the gentle patois of the Caribbean islands, laughed readily, loved red hibiscus flowers, and didn't miss a thing with her bright eyes.  One of her oft-repeated phrases was "Have Fait."

Faith, to her, was the answer to many a dilemma.

But what does that mean?  Blind, dogged trust in the unknowable?  Do we say to people in the path of a hurricane to have faith?  How realistic is that?  Have faith in who or what, exactly?  Is faith foolish?  Does it serve a purpose in a rational (yet equally crazy) world?  I have no answers, just many questions. 

23 August, 2012

Trust: #BlogElul 5

I've been ruminating about trust all day.  Such a huge topic.  What do I hone in on?  Even the simple, everyday act of getting in the car and driving from point A to point B involves many instances of trust.

I watch my 9-month-old daughter playing, then turn and joyfully beeline for me with all her might.  She is completely open, completely dependent, and trusts me inherently.

So much in my day-to-day life occurs without a second thought, and I trust it will. just. happen.
I flick a switch and the light goes on.  Turn on the tap and water flows forth.  (Sadly this is not the case for many people in the United States right now.)  I can go to sleep with my children and trust we will awake safe and sound.  The sun will rise in the morning. 

A father recently thanked me for helping bring his son safely into the world after a rare event complicated his birth four years ago.  And it hit me what to write about.  I've been apprehensive about attending a birth for the first time in nearly a year.  Late at night I lie awake, playing out various scenarios in my head, giving myself little quizzes.  What would I do if I heard wonky heart tones?  Saw bright red bleeding?  But I know better than to dwell in negativity, after all what you lend attention to will grow. I have to trust everything will be perfect and it will all come back to me.  It's like riding a bike, right?

I trust in the synchronous intelligence of mother and baby. 
I trust that my hands will know what to do. 
I trust my mouth to speak with wisdom, and only when necessary.
I trust my ears to be sensitive to mamababy's rhythms.
I trust my eyes to shine love and confidence.
I trust my heart to be open.
I trust my mind to remember, and to recognize.
I trust my body to attenuate to the altered consciousness of the birthing space.
I trust my entire being to be present.

22 August, 2012

Counting: #BlogElul 4

Counting is about value.  Not just numerical value, but also energetic and emotional value.  Numerical counting is objective; energetic counting more subjective.   If someone says "count on me" you know she has your back.  Her energy is of value to you.  Similarly "count me in" means I'm lending my presence, my energy to your endeavor.

Since Miss L. came along nearly 9 months ago, I've found I must limit the number of people and organizations who count upon me.  It feels quite good and wholly necessary to set boundaries, lest I take too much on and drive myself (and those in my immediate vicinity) crazy.  I'm starting to get more calls for birth and herb work in my community again.  It feels wonderful.  I want to say yes to everyone.  But there are two little people and one big person counting on me to be here primarily for them. 

And here's what I have going on outside my immediate family and their needs and activities:
  • On call for a birth in September; prenatal visits up 'til the birth, restocking and preparing my supplies, preparing childcare options, the actual on-call time, and postpartum care.
  • Staffing a table and giving a talk at a Pregnancy Fair, also in September. 
  • Facilitating a Holistic Pregnancy workshop in October.
  • Staffing a table at a Baby Fair in October.
  • Serving on the local Doula group board and two state Midwifery organizations (meetings every month for at least one of those groups; plus online time).
  • Commissioned to encapsulate several placentas each month.
  • Facilitating an Herbal Workshop in the spring; need to create outline for submission.
  • New client due in spring--starting prenatal visits with her.
I LOVE what I do.  Love it.  I count myself very blessed to need to say no sometimes. 

Counting myself blessed to have a vocation I love, a roof over my head, food in my belly, a safe home and a healthy family is still another form of accounting value, of stock-taking.  I'd say the tally-sheet is full in all the right ways.   

21 August, 2012

Intentions: #BlogElul 3

I intended to blog for August 21st/Elul 3rd.

It didn't happen.

Nuff said.

20 August, 2012

Inventory: #BlogElul 2

At the request of my dear darling life partner, I flip-flopped over half our kitchen cabinets today.  With an eager 8-month old assistant.  The jars and jars and jars of herbs were taking up impractical space.  So many dusty jars!  Am I ever going to use this one?  How old is this?  Sniff, sniff.  Yes, still potent.  Why do I have so much Cascara Sagrada?  (That department is just fine, thank you).   When did I make that extract and should I decant it?  Is the moon waxing or waning and is it still in Virgo?  Are the tinctures in alphabetical order by Latin or English name?  Am I an insufferable geek?  Am I an herb hoarder? 

The busy day draws to a close.  Children sigh in their sleep.  Lying nestled between them is truly my favorite place to be.  My body is peaceful, but my mind races.  Is everything ready for tomorrow?  Do I have enough water next to the bed?  Did I take out my contacts yet?  Where is J's backpack?  Does he have clean underwear?  Do I have clean underwear?  Did I un-silence my alarm?  I should check the weather to see if the park playdate is still happening.  Must remember to bring diaper covers for J and gestational wheels for S and S.  I should make dinner tomorrow night; what should I make?  Have to organize the waterbirth bin soon.  Do we need more eggs?  Am I giving everyone in my life enough love and attention?  How can I achieve more balance with everyone when a baby is literally sucking the life force out of me?

Breathe.  Love.  Rest.  All is in order.

19 August, 2012

Return: #BlogElul 1

Forgive me blog readers, all two of you.  It's been--gulp--over two years since my last blog post.

I am taking Ima Bima up on her challenge to blog every day during the Hebrew month of Elul, and today's theme is "return."

For starters, I'm returning some attention to writing.

My oldest child returns to school tomorrow.  This summer household is about to be shell-shocked with a 6:30 am wake-up call.  Oh we have tried, valiantly, to get on a better schedule since we returned (there it is again) from the west coast a few weeks ago.  We have tried earlier bedtimes, earlier rising, melatonin, vigorous daytime activities like sweating at the park and daily swimming lessons, and making plans with friends to get us up and out of the house that only were kept about half of the time (sorry friends!).  But honestly after a fun-filled and scheduled summer, we all needed some unstructured time.   That ends abruptly in 12 short hours.

I look forward to exploring more thoughts but right now the baby has returned to alpha-wave consciousness after her nap, so away we go!