Thursday, July 30, 2009


I may have mentioned before that I love Ode magazine ("for intelligent optimists"). I sort of accidentally ended up subscribing to it about threeish years ago and I'm a fan. I saved two recent issues (there are 10 a year) and brought them along to read on the plane during our just-completed trip to California. The August issue had a theme of "Laughter" and I really enjoyed it. I marked the following quote to share from the article "In the beginning was the joke: why cheerfulness is next to godliness":

"So what are we here for? Your modern neo-Darwinist is perfectly certain--for no reason. That just doesn't cut it for me...I prefer this take by the composer Aaron Copland (simply replace the word 'music' with the word 'life'): 'The whole problem can be stated quite simply by asking, 'Is there a meaning to music?' My answer would be 'Yes.' And 'Can you state in so many words what the meaning is?' My answer to that would be, 'No.'"

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Thoughts on Thinking

Today is our 11th wedding anniversary! There is time only for zen quotes...

"Inner peace is the key: if you have inner peace, the external problems do not affect your deep sense of peace and tranquility...Without this inner peace, no matter how comfortable your life is materially, you may still be worried, disturbed, or unhappy because of circumstances."

--Dalai Lama

"In the root and stem of your own psyche, there is an accumulation of bad habits. If you cannot see through them and act independently of them, you will unavoidably get bogged down along the way."


"We spend most of our time and energy in a kind of horizontal thinking. We move along the surface of things...but there are times when we stop. We sit still. We lose ourselves in a pile of leaves or its memory. We listen, and breezes from a whole other world begin to whisper."

--James Carroll

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Paradox of Natural Mothering

I'm getting ready to go out of town and prepping a couple of posts to post when I'm away (be prepared for lots more Zen quotes!). I haven't had a lot of time for this blog lately and continue to go back and forth about keeping it going. I always end up returning to the decision to keep it going, because I do enjoy it, in theory. I do not like that it becomes another thing on my to-do list and feels like an obligation, rather than fun. (This is how I work though, I turn everything into a serious "job" instead of "just for fun" and if I don't do something that I've committed to doing--even if only to myself on a hobby basis, like "update blog on Saturdays"--I feel irresponsible and it nags and nags at me mentally until I do it or QUIT for good. Though I laugh a lot in real life, I also tend to be one of those "all work, no play" kind of people who doesn't really know how to "relax and have a good time"--and, am actually kind of irritated by those who blow everything off to relax and have a good time! Note that I have to even put the possibility of "relaxing and having a good time" in quotation marks, because at heart I'm not sure it is actually possible ;-)

Part of my problem with this blog is that I have tons and tons of thoughts about everything I read and many things I'd like to draw out to write about and explore. I rarely have time to post as completely as I'd like though and, in fact, I'm actually trying hard to just post a paragraph or less per book so that I don't end up with a giant backlog in my to-blog-about pile, but I still feel like I'd like to do a lot more analysis than I do here--I always have so many quotes marked to share and then have to quit before I get a chance to share them. My to-blog-about pile is still insane--I move books out of it fairly quickly, but I have masses of magazines and articles I am meaning to write about and they lurk and make me feel guilty (totally and completely self-imposed! What is wrong with me?!)

In other news, this was a good week for publications for me. I've posted several other places about them, but why not here too?!

I had a short article called Centering for Birth published in the International Journal of Childbirth Education (page 20)

My book review of Fathers at Birth was published in The CAPPA Quarterly (page 14).

My film review of Birth as We Know It was in The CAPPA Quarterly (page 15).

And, my piece of creative nonfiction Nursing Johnny Depp was published in Literary Mama. I had more feedback from this essay than I've ever had about any of my other writing, combined! This was my 85th publication (up to 89 total now! Yes, I keep a list!). I think I got so many comments because it was so readily available online. It was also a funny piece, which is not my usual type of writing. The experiences described in it are from over a year ago and they accepted it for publication about 6 months ago, so this was a long time coming. In reading it again, I'm glad I wrote it because it has captured some moments in time that are past now. Z rarely asks me to nurse any toys for him anymore and if I hadn't written the essay, something would have been lost.

Okay, after some complaining and some bragging, I had a few books to post about today:

I re-read The Paradox of Natural Mothering. I really enjoy this book. Lots of food for thought. It is a little uncomfortable to read too because she is so spot-on in her analysis of mothers like me. It is strange to feel "under the microscope." The author herself is a "quasi-natural mother," so the analysis isn't harsh criticism, but it is a critical look at the "cult" (my word, not hers) of natural mothering and has a LOT of excellent discussion about feminism and natural mothering. I've been amassing a lot of things I'd like to share about feminism and birth and motherhood, but this is one of those takes-too-long-to-completely-delve into things that I may never get a chance to do :( She says--and I completely agree--that natural mothering represents the intersection of three ideological frameworks: voluntary simplicity, attachment parenting, and cultural feminism. Anyway, hopefully I will someday share some more of my thoughts about this book. It is definitely worth the read!

I also finished reading Homebirth in the Hospital. I am reviewing it for CfM News and I already wrote a bit about it there yesterday.

See? That's all I can manage for today and the push-pull between enjoying the idea behind this blog/wanting to share my reads and feeling like it is another drag on my time and resources continues...

I guess if I'd wasted less time complaining at the beginning, I would have had more time for book-analyzing!


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Present Moment

"If we could see the miracle
of a single flower clearly,
our whole life would change."


"Our true home is in the present moment.
To live in the present moment is a miracle.
The miracle is not to walk on water.
The miracle is to walk on the green Earth
in the present moment, to appreciate the peace and
beauty that are available now."

--Thich Nhat Hanh

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering

This week I finished reading a couple of books. I'd looked forward to reading Sarah Buckley's Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering for a long time. It used to only be available from Australia and the shipping was prohibitive. The U.S. edition came out this past edition and I finally bought it for myself. It was a good book, don't get me wrong, but a lot less creative/inspirational/unconventional than I expected. I was expecting one of those phenomenal birth books that really "goes beyond," but much of the content was a review of the literature/research basically and was actually fairly dry. I loved reading her birth story and her placenta story and her breastfeeding story. There was good evidence-based information about several topics--gestational diabetes, GBS, VBAC, cord clamping, for example--that will definitely make it into my birth blog posts. It is definitely a book worth having. It also seems to be written for the first-time mother who perhaps has had little prior exposure to/information about evidence-based maternity care.

I also finished reading Mother Blessings: Honoring Women Becoming Mothers, which was one of my birthday presents this year from my mom. I'm going to a mother blessing tomorrow, so this was a timely read :) It had a couple of new ideas in it for me like making "birth dolls" together (cool!) and also a family mandala project that sounded really neat (I think I will do it with my kids instead of at a mother blessing).

And, I finished reading The Answer: Making Sense of Life, One Question at a Time. Sections were interesting, but overall I found it kind of "shallow." The author made extensive pop-culture references that I found kind of self-conscious and forced--like, "look how hip I am!" or something. You couldn't go more than two pages without the SAME SENTENCE--"as XYZ musician might sing...[lyrics related to the life question at hand]." Lots of references to tv shows, movie dialog, etc. It grated on my nerves. The central idea was cool though--life is a question and you are an answer--and the author had some good insights to share as well. In the section about "am I missing something?" (which I identified with--that urge to stay "caught up" and make sure I'm not missing anything important!) she said after mentioning Schubert's Eighth Symphony (The Unfinished Symphony), "Because you are full of unlimited potential you will always have more music in you, and yet what you have already composed can stand on its own if you're willing to let it." (emphasis mine). As you may recall, one of my favorite quotes is about not dying with you music still in you. I loved this reminder about what I've already composed :)

That's all I have time for today! Time for 4th of July BBQ, cotton candy, and fireworks!