Friday, October 13, 2017

Those Crazy Prayers

Those Crazy Prayers

Life has seemed nuts lately. Flooding in Houston, hurricanes in Florida, and various horrors around the globe. The small town I grew up in is currently on fire. I’ve lost count of my friends, family, and acquaintances who have been evacuated (at best) and lost everything at worst. Of course, worse has happened to some. Lives are being lost. Children dying.

People are suffering.

One thing that occurs when bad stuff happens is that people send their “thoughts and prayers.” They say they’ll pray for you. They send their love. They comment on social media.

Then, there comes rebuttal. Yes, even to sent prayers, there is sometimes argument.

I found a gem of negativity the other day that gets passed around whenever natural disaster strikes. It was a little mockery of prayer.

There are lots of versions of this, so I won’t share a specific one. There are pictures of a starving child, pointing out that “your prayers didn’t help them.” Jokes about someone’s deity. These comments aren’t my favorite.

I’m not talking about all the good things about those people who pray, even though those inclined to pray are more inclined to volunteer and donate and do real, hands-on work that improves lives.
I understand frustration with an ugly, unfair world and how powerless we can feel and how useless our small gestures can seem.

The desire to poke fun is natural, especially when we are scared, worried, and angry.
Today I watch planes and helicopters fly above my house, over and over again. They take water from the lake to dump on the fires. Every time I turn on the computer I learn of another friend who has lost everything.

I pray because there is sometimes nothing else I can do.

In truth, I try to do other things. I try to volunteer. I donate what money I can. I reach out to people.
But when people I know in Houston are suffering there isn’t much I can actually and immediately do for them. I am one person with limited power and the world is full of yuckiness.

So I pray.

I find it sad when people mock prayer. Even if you don’t think it works, which is somewhat understandable, there is no reason to hate something that many others find helpful.

Anger isn’t helpful. At all. I’ve tried it.

It isn’t a superior response to an uttered prayer or a declaration of prayers going out. It’s just anger. It does nothing except for make the angry person worse off.

Last year my dad got very sick. It happened quickly and it was frightening for all of his loved ones. We felt helpless because there wasn’t much we could do. Sure, you can talk to doctors, research stuff on the internet (usually the opposite of helpful) and seek out the best care. But that is where your power ends when catastrophic health problems rear their head.

People often told me that they were praying for my dad. I prayed for him. There were special prayers offered. There was fasting combined with prayer. This was all done.

The funny thing is that they worked. It wasn’t just that he got better. He did. It was a miracle. But you could attribute his survival to modern medicine, good luck, or natural selection. You could assume that the prayers had zero to do with the outcome. And maybe they did. I’ll even concede that point. (Though I’d disagree.) Maybe sometimes the outcome is decided without anyone consulting us.
I’ll tell you how the prayers worked, even if you think the did no healing.

I could feel them.

I could literally feel them. It was like I was being lifted up by something outside myself. It was a bizarre and sacred experience for me. It was something I have not experienced before, at least not on that level.

I was probably more stressed than I had ever previously been in my life and yet there was this light, this hope that defied explanation. I was a hot mess, but I was a hot mess with internal peace. I had a peace about the outcome; no matter what that outcome was.

You could mock this power that I felt. That is your privilege. I am glad it is your privilege.
But it was there and it helped me when there was nothing else that would help.

One of the scariest things about life is that we lack control.

We can make plans, good choices, fill bank accounts and eat right. Those things help. We should do them.

The deeper you get into life, the more you realize how those plans can change.

A fire can start with bolt of lightning. It can move with a shift of the wind. Men can fight it with all their machines and experience. Rain can end it just by showing up briefly.

A healthy person can suddenly be sick, or even dead, in the blink of an eye. We can’t always choose our health, our life, our end.

It’s scary to have our lack of power thrown in our face. Humans don’t like it.

This reminder makes us angry. Sometimes it makes us humble. It’s up to us what our lack of power does to us. How we “deal” is all we have left. Prayer is one way to deal.

I believe that this is one of the reasons people pray. It is a plea to a higher power on our behalf. Sometimes we ask for what we want. Sometimes we get it, sometimes we don’t.

Prayer however is more than just a plea, a request for favor. It’s comfort when there is no comfort. It’s a desire for help and love when there is nothing else we can do but express that.

Prayer is power when we have none.

Just like I felt those prayers when nobody could do anything for my father, I hope that those who suffer can feel my prayers when there is nothing I can do for their situation.

I can’t make a house magically re-appear that has burnt to the ground.

I can’t heal a broken body.

I can’t lift emotional pain with a warm meal or even millions of dollars.

Sometimes prayer is all we have left.

Sometimes it’s all we can give.

Prayer it is a good gift.

It helped me when nothing else could be done. Not because it fixed the outcome, but because it gave me strength beyond my own to handle whatever happened. It also let me know that people cared, even if they couldn’t fix it.

I am grateful for people who pray. I am doubly grateful because I know that those same people are quite likely to get up off their knees and get to work.

So thanks. Thanks for your prayers. Thanks for your thoughts and your love.

Even these tiny gestures have great power.

Photo credit:

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Bubble Wrapping Our Children

Bubble Wrapping Our Children

In my childbirth classes I also cover the subject of circumcision. It’s always an entertaining discussion!
One thing I have heard over and over through the years is that boys should be circumcised so they won’t be made fun of in the locker room.
I haven’t spent an inordinate amount of time in male locker rooms.
I’m not circumcised.
But I really hate this argument. I hate it with a PURPLE PASSION.
My violet colored emotions have zero to do with circumcision or a parent’s choice to have that procedure done on their baby. I respect that choice without loving it.
The problem with the “we need to circumcise him or he will be mocked,” argument does not lie in dislike for the procedure, but in the idea that we must preemptively surgically alter our children in order for them to have a happy life.
It extends to the idea that we should "bubble wrap" our children and thus protect them from all ill.

We all want to protect our kids.

On some level, protecting our children is a parent’s duty. We need to do it.
We have them brush their teeth, thus avoiding tooth decay.
We have them wear a helmet on their bike, thus protecting them from head injury.
We make sure they buckle their seat belt or are adequately in a safe car seat, protecting them from car accidents.

Yes, parents must protect their children in a reasonable manner.

But shielding them from any hurt feelings?
From being mocked?
From being bullied?
When did we become a society that thought protecting them from everything was necessary or even wise?
I see my role as parent to provide adequate protection for my children. Beyond that, I feel a great responsibility to raise children who are able to withstand the difficulties of life.

I don’t want kids that never get bullied- I want kids who know how to deal with a bully.

I don’t want kids who never get made fun of- I want kids who are strong enough to know that the opinion of someone else doesn’t determine their inherent worth.
I don’t want kids who never have their feelings hurt- I want children who know their own inner strength, and know that feelings can pass and that, ultimately, they are in charge of how they feel. I want them to know that when they let someone else determine their feelings, they give up all their power and hand it to an enemy.
Let me backtrack- it would actually be really great if my kids were never bullied, mocked or hurt. It breaks my heart when they come home and tell me that someone was mean to them. I worry for them. I feel an unreasonable desire to go tell that mean 8 year old what a prick he is.
I want to fix all the wrongs and protect all the feelings!
I’m a mom, after all.

But I have to hold back.

I could protect all the ouchies and spend my days calling the parents of a-hole children and encouraging their teachers to watch my kid like a hawk so they are insulated in a safe bubble of compliments and reassurance.
I COULD do this.
I sometimes WANT to do this.
It would, however, end up pretty ugly.

This is a short game plan, not a long one.

Because at the end of this “protected from everything” road, you find a kid who has a really difficult time handling life.
Guess what? Life is hard.
It’s full of hurt feelings, disappointments, people who flip you off when you drive, (Is that just me? Maybe…) and people who just plain disagree with you.
I don’t want kids who need to be insulated from life from the outside.
I want kids who have the inner strength to ride the storms because they are strong on the INSIDE.
So I try to hold back the mama bear when they tell me about their hard day through tears. Instead I try to talk, listen, and help them find solutions. I remind them that other people don’t determine their worth. They are children of Deity. They are strong. They are precious. They are loved.
But they won’t be loved and treated well by everyone: and that’s OK.
It’s painful, but it is OK.
My plan could very well flop. They are still pretty young.

And when I’m honest with myself, really honest, I notice that the person who most needs to worry about treating my kids well is ME.

When I look around this world I see so many children are hurt more by adults than other children.
I see boys without fathers struggling to be “strong” and blink back the tears when they talk about their dad who walked off.
I see children broken from their parent’s messy divorce.
I see girls who have been taught by adults that their only value is in their body.
I see that it is usually me that hurts my kids the most and the deepest. I will be the voice in their head.
Maybe us parents should stop worrying so much about “bully prevention,” and start worrying about being better parents. Maybe we should consider that many of the kids who are bullies, are coming from a pretty sad place of pain.
And maybe we should try to grow stronger children rather than building a wall around their weakness.
Let’s bring this full circle and return to the original scenario.
"Let’s protect our kid from locker room teasing by removing their foreskin."
Who is really hurting the kid in this scenario?

It’s not the other kids.

It’s a parent, looking for a reason to do something they want to do.
Something parents do all the time to justify behavior that hurts their kids.
We do it when we “follow our bliss” even though it hurts our families. We do it when we choose fun over our responsibilities. We do it when we choose ourselves and our wants over the needs required for a healthy child.
Yeah, when I look at the world, I’m far more worried about how adults treat children than by how other kids treat children.
Maybe us adults need to take a look in the mirror.
Oh, and those bully kids who tease people in the locker room- 20 bucks says their parents weren’t too good to them.
The REAL bully prevention starts with treating our children right in the first place.

Photo credit: crabchick via / CC BY

Monday, May 15, 2017

7 Reasons Why I Hate Printers

7 Reasons Why I Hate Printers

Dear Hewlett Packard-

I hate you.

I don’t think of myself as someone who writes hate letters, and yet here I am. I can’t help but feel like you’ve driven me to this, although some self-reflection may be required as well.

My current degree of emotional turmoil over a printer doesn’t seem right, natural, or normal.

Psychological evaluation may be in order. Maybe there is a name for the printer version of road rage...

But before I go look in the mirror, let’s consider why I hate you SO VERY MUCH.
Yes, I’m yelling now.

I prefer to be methodical in my hatred, so I’m actually going to count the ways.

Reason #1 Why I Hate HP- Your products have a stupid/mean return policy.

I can only assume this is because you know they suck and don’t want the public, who pays for them, to actually be able to return them. This would collapse your empire of evil deeds, run by toner.

So, once the box is open, no returns.

Did I mention that you suck? You do. No other industry gets away with this.

Even cars can be returned!

Reason #2 Why I Hate HP- Warranty? Yeah, sure.

What a joke! I’m having problems with my printer and tried to get help. (I’ll return to this in detail in reason #3.) After 5 minutes searching I find the help button. I must enter lots of information. I must actually remove my printer (assisted by large man) and look at the back to find appropriate numbers. You can’t just help me- you need several dozen digits to do so.

Upon entering the numbers I found that the warranty is void, as of one month after purchase.


Thanks. Hopefully nobody was injured in the searching for said numbers. It’s like you expect the product to break within 30 days.

What am I buying? Milk?!

Reason #3 Why I Hate HP- Helpline/Shmelpline

Can a helpline be more difficult to use?

I doubt that very much.

I have actually had an easier time navigating government bureaucracy. I can only assume that you are powered by the Illuminati or vampires.

Now I’m getting error messages that I can’t interpret because I lack a degree in printer tech, and I can’t send a print job from most of my devices. One works intermittently.

I’d send you a (hateful) letter, but I don’t know how to print stuff anymore.

Reason #4 Why I Hate HP- Wireless

What is the deal with all printers being wireless? Seriously. Especially when the wireless feature keeps NOT WORKING.

(Why does HP seem to hate my Chromebook? Is this some kind of contest with Google? Did someone hurt your feelings? Are you punishing them for something that happened at a Frat party in ‘97? My Google Chromebook is awesome and you need to get on board. Yesterday. PRINT FROM CHROME!)

Anyway, when the wireless didn’t work AGAIN, I tried to connect with the USB cord. This seemed to also upset the printer EVEN THOUGH THERE IS A BUTTON FOR IT.

I’m almost ashamed to admit that I miss the days when my printer hooked up to my computer and they were friends who held hands.

And if you are going to make me do everything via wireless, you might want to make sure it works before your force everyone to buy it.

Reason #5 Why I Hate HP- Marriage Problems

When my  husband walked in and found my crying- YES-YOU MADE ME CRY!- over the printer, his feelings were hurt because the printer was a gift for me. He bought me the new printer because my LAST HP PRINTER also made me cry.

He didn’t realize that HP is abusive to my psyche. He was trying help, not knowing that you are just mean to me.

Reason #6 Why I Hate HP- Degree Needed??!!

I don’t want to brag, but I actually have a college degree. It was in a lame, liberal-arts area, so it isn’t much use in life. Still, If you can graduate high-school, much less college, you should be able to work simple, everyday technology like a printer.

And yet, here I am, with puffy eyes and ruined make-up, feeling like an idiot. My marriage is on the rocks (well, that’s an overstatement) because of a printer.

I can only assume that the people who work at HP want this tech to be usable by the general public, otherwise, how else could we burn trees at the rate needed to destroy the atmosphere?

My current belief is that you are in cahoots with big timber. Otherwise, why would my printer spit out random advertisements periodically? Wireless seems to work for the ads! You hate the environment and Al Gore.

I know it.

Reason #7 Why I Hate HP- Printer Cartridges

We all know you make your money off of printer cartridges. It’s common knowledge.

It’s not cool, by the way, to gouge your customers once upon purchase, and then over and over again every time they need ink.

There is a name for this. It's called a PUSHER. Yes, you are basically on the same level as a street corner drug peddler.

And no, I’m not signing up for automatic ink shipment every time you perceive that I need it.

Pound sand, you dirt bag. I have your number.

Oh wait, I can’t find your number. It’s hidden on your website.
Hewlett Packard- I’m pretty sure you know that you are mean. This explains the 30 day warranty, the broken marriages, the hidden serial numbers, and the hidden contact information.

At this point, I can only compare you to 1940's tobacco companies with their false advertising and government contracts.

I don’t know how you sleep at night.

Probably on piles of money that you made selling tiny ink cartridges that get used up quickly running diagnostic reports.

I’m so sad I feel so hateful. I’m sad that I’m mad about my Christmas present. And I’m sad that I feel like a dummy because I can only get my printer to work about 40% of the time, and only then after pressing lots of buttons.

I hope you get a rash from sleeping on all our money.
You deserve it!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Midwifery Care FOREVER

Midwifery Care FOREVER

It’s official. This blog is shifting from, “How to have a baby,” to, “What happens when you’re done having babies.”

As my focus shifts from baby growing/raising, I have found that I am, in fact, still a woman.

Don’t worry, I have a point.

Any of us who have experienced midwifery care can attest that there is something special about it. Often, when I meet women who go from your standard two minute OB visit (after an hour in the waiting room) to a typical midwifery visit, are blown away by midwifery care.

They mention how the visit was so long and they were able to really talk to the midwife and get their questions answered.

Women notice that rather than just using technology and tests to assess wellness and health of the baby, their midwife touched their belly, listened to the baby, and was cognizant of social and emotional factors that may impact their maternal and birthing health.

Midwives listen.

The fear regarding what will be done to them during labor and birth disappears as they build a relationship of trust with their provider that feels like it goes beyond medical needs.

Some women, at the end of their birthing years, express sadness that the relationship they had with their midwife may be coming to an end. In fact, I think that some women who enter birth work as doulas or childbirth educators, actually do so in an effort to maintain these relationships and the good feelings that go along with them.

My youngest baby is almost six, and I can’t say I was greatly saddened to move on from baby raising. It was a pretty exhausting time period with numerous unique stresses.

I haven’t thought much about midwifery care for myself, after all, I wasn’t pregnant!

As I am getting older and discovering the weird way your monthly cycle changes and the extra weight that seems to stick around your middle, I found myself much like a new, confused, expecting mother.

I was doing some embarrassing searches on the Internet…

Remind me to clear my search history.

I was wondering what was going on with me but feeling too embarrassed to ask anyone I knew. I should probably be getting well-woman care, but the thought never really occurred to me. I’m more likely to visit my Chiropractor than an OB.

Things got concerning enough that I finally made an appointment with a local CPM that I like and trust.
We chatted about my questions. She took some notes. We talked about what was going on. We talked about life too and the challenges of raising those babies into teenagers.

After I unloaded all my emotional and physical baggage at her doorstep, something amazing happened.

She knew exactly what was going on with me.

I wasn’t sick. I wasn’t losing my mind. (Well, I was a little, but there were options to help!)

I was just a woman who was no longer worried about the strange new world of pregnancy and birth, but a slightly older woman navigating the early stages of peri-menopause. (New word. Yay for vocabulary lessons!)

My midwife made some suggestions for things that may help. She filled me in on what was going on with my body. Which, despite my impending 40s, is still surprisingly mysterious.

I took her advice. I started taking a little better care of myself. I added some supplements to my repertoire that she mentioned may help.

I’m a month out and I feel SO MUCH BETTER.

I just thought that all these random things that were going on with me physically and emotionally were unconnected. I thought maybe I was going nuts. Or maybe I just couldn’t handle life anymore. Maybe I was stressed out.

But my midwife had some answers, some advice, and some help to offer.

I wish I had gone to see her a year ago. It would have saved me so much grief and confusion.

Which brings me to my public service announcement today.

Make an appointment with your midwife.

Even if you aren’t pregnant.

Even if you have no plans of EVER being pregnant again.

Midwives, and yes, even home birth midwives, offer more than just birth care.

They almost always offer well woman care.

You can see her for your annual exam.

You can get labs done.

She knows things about women’s health and the female life-cycle that people simply don’t talk about.
She is probably also very aware of natural ways to help handle and ease some of the changes that happen as we age. She can help you find ways to support normal female wellness.

It reminds me of those early days of pregnancy and the overall yuck and misery that we have come to accept as a cultural norm.

I won’t argue that pregnancy is all flowers and roses. It isn’t. Neither is menstruation or menopause or many of the things that women are blessed with.

But we have come to believe that all things female suck all the time- and this is not true.

There is, actually, hundreds of years of female wisdom and experience that can greatly help ease the transitions in life that women rhythmically experience.

There are foods that help. There are herbs that help. There is even great help in simply talking to another, more experienced, woman.

This wisdom from past generations isn’t limited simply to birthing and we shouldn’t limit our use of midwifery care to simple birthing.

Call your midwife.

Make an appointment. Yes, you should pay her! It’s her job. She will be worth every penny.

This is just one more way that midwives can help heal our culture.

I just love them.


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