Thursday, June 23, 2011

Birth Poetry

I'm obsessed with a few poems recently. This is one of them. It's by Anne Stevenson. If I could draw a heart around her name right now I would. For now, here is my <3.

The Spirit is too Blunt an Instrument

The spirit is too blunt an instrument
to have made this baby.
Nothing so unskilful as human passions
could have managed the intricate exacting particulars: the tiny
blind bones with their manipulating tendons,
the knee and the knucklebones, the resilient
fine meshings of ganglia and vertebrae
in the chain of the difficult spine.

Observe the distinct eyelashes and sharp crescent
fingernails, the shell-like complexity
of the ear with its firm involutions
concentric in minature to the minute
ossicles. Imagine the
infinitesimal capillaries, the flawless connections
of the lungs, the invisible neural filaments
through which the completed body
already answers to the brain.

Then name any passion or sentiment
possessed of the simplest accuracy.
No. No desire or affection could have done
with practice what habit
has done perfectly, indifferently,
through the body's ignorant precision.
It is left to the vagaries of the mind to invent
love and despair and anxiety
and their pain.

I love the phrase: "ignorant precision." If you are poet and have some birth poems or poetry about motherhood, send them to me! We have a few poems we'd like to use in the book. If we can get more that we love, that would be fabulous. I can't guarantee we'll use anything, but if you'd like us to consider it, please send it ASAP to ldsbirthstories at gmail dot com.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Lessons From the Bonsai - Finally

Japanese Elm bonsai tree.

In February there were 3 babies due in our little collaborator group--so we did a virtual mother shower/ blessingway for each of them and sent our love and wishes for their birth along with some beads and a little bonsai tree suited to their climate. Above is a picture of Busca's tree.

In doing the research for the trees I became obsessed with bonsais, so I had to get one for myself, too. Mine is the same as the one above, a Japanese Elm.

As soon as I unpacked it and started to care for it and nurture it, I wondered what the lesson was. I knew there was something this tree was going to teach me that I would one day write about. But everything about bonsai trees seemed to be backward. Rather than letting it grow big, I was keeping it small--which is the opposite of what we should do with our children and not really possible with them anyway. Other metaphors fell just as awkwardly.

So I gave up on finding meaning and just found joy in the little tree and learned a little about pruning from my friend's husband who I learned is a closeted bonsai master. Pruning is tricky. It's all about trying to mimic nature--but perfection in nature. Fat trunks are desirable, and little cloud-like tufts of leaves with a tapering toward the top are also desirable. Shaping bonsais takes years and years of practice and patience. Whenever I prune my bonsai, I go into trance because it is totally meditative--you have to have a vision.

You can keep your bonsai under a foot tall forever, or you can let them grow larger but still keep their miniature look. If you want them to grow, you have to re-pot them every few years in a larger pot, let them grow wild for a bit, then prune the heck out of them. You do this over and over till you get the shape you want. Some people wire or tie branches to achieve a certain shape or windswept look. Here are some pictures and examples:

This is a bonsai (Ficus Retusa) after a hard prune.

This is a mature ficus retusa--probably at least 25 years old. Although I'm betting this one is closer to 100--probably owned by some Japanese bonsai master who has spent his whole life shaping it.

Here is a picture of some wiring on a Azalia bonsai that is just beginning to bloom.

Here's a smallish azalea bonsai in bloom.

Here's a large azalea bonsai. If you look closely you can see the wires on this one.

I'm not sure what this one is, but it is gorgeous.

This tree is about 25 years old. Mature trees like these can sell for thousands of dollars. Some as much as $25,000.

This is an award winning 75-year old Bonsai (Gmelina histrix).

It was a long time in coming, but I think I finally got my inspiration from the bonsai tree. The other morning I was lying in bed and some words came into my mind so powerfully that I knew I needed to write them down. They were: "restriction is training." I had no idea what that meant, but as I lay there in that early morning hypnotic state where connections and free association happen easily, thoughts of my bonsai tree came to me. Restrictions placed on a bonsai train it to grow in a certain direction. A bonsai master places restrictions on the bonsai in order to shape it into an amazing thing of beauty. It takes patience and practice, and sometimes after a hard prune doesn't look like much, but it is well worth it in the end.

The metaphor seems so obvious to me now, but it was a huge epiphany in the moment, when I was feeling annoyed about some restrictions in my life. It is clever how God saved or withheld this teaching moment from me till I needed it most. Also, is saw the metaphor as hugely applicable to parenting. It is our job to train up these little prophets and prophetesses, (with God's help), and sometimes we need to restrict and train them--while at the same time, God is training us. I hope that my little tree, which gives me so much joy, will always remind me of this. And one day, when I die at a ripe old age I hope one of my posterity will take over the care of my bonsai(s)--because by then I will surely have a dozen or more.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


I didn’t start out this way. When I first learned that I was pregnant, I wanted to have a planned C-section, and I had no intention of breastfeeding. I can hardly believe it now. What changed? Everything—but not overnight. The transition from hard core independent woman to all-natural earth mother was slow, and not without pain. Resisting is always painful.

My first big shock was the nausea. I wasn’t prepared for how totally pregnancy could ruin my life. I had to drop out of the photography class I was enjoying. I had to stop working on my writing projects. All I could do was lie down and munch saltines and puke them up again. I was furious. I decided having a baby wasn’t worth the trouble after all, and wished I would miscarry. Then, in the middle of the night, I had a terrible cramp on my way to the bathroom. It was so sharp I fell to the floor and had to crawl across the rug. I thought for sure I was loosing my baby, and I was terrified. I repented, and I started bargaining with God to just let me keep her.

Clearly, I was confused. Even after the middle of the night incident, my mixed feelings persisted, until one day I was sitting in my car in front of a friend’s house on Alla Street. (Alla means God in Arabic) I had one foot out the door in case I needed to lean out and vomit, but the rest of me was too tired to get out of the car. It was fall. The trees were turning orange and the sky was an electric blue we only see in winter here. The surprising thing was, that I noticed it. Even though I felt miserable, I was awed at this small gift from God that could make me so happy. I cried and smiled and worried I might vomit but didn’t care if I did.

I realized that when I stopped fighting the nausea and submitted to feeling miserable, I was less miserable. I was finally able to see small moments of light and happiness everywhere around me. I began to let the child inside of me take a place in my thinking. To be real, and to bless my life.

What happened to me that day on Alla Street is that part of me died, so that another part of me could live. I sacrificed something, so that the mother in me could grow. In order for you to become a mother, some part of the old you has to go. Some women may feel her die peacefully in your sleep, others of you may have to kill her in an intense physical battle.

I guarantee it is worth it. Even if you struggle. But why struggle? I'm going to get a little preachy now and invite you to just surrender to the earth mother inside you. The old you wont be all gone, but part of her we be forever. Accept this. Try to help your partner accept this. The sooner you do, the sooner you will be able to have joy and revel in this spiritual journey.

Perhaps you’re reading this and you don’t think that it applies to you, but this invitation to surrender is important. Think about what you are resisting something else in your life. Maybe you have not forgiven yourself for something. Maybe you are resisting learning more about your options for birthing because you know you will then have to make an educated choice. Maybe you are resisting this pregnancy for what it can be, a spiritual journey.

I sometimes wonder why is this so difficult for us to surrender our will to God’s when we have so many evidences of it working out much better than our plans. My two year blog-iversary is coming up, and it reminds me of all my resistance to starting this blog. But God knew what he was doing, and only good things have come from it. If I hadn’t started this blog, this book would not be almost finished. I have also made amazing friends. It is interesting how the Lord’s promise about when two or more gather in his name, "I will be in their midst” applies to people gathering virtually as well.

I have to admit that surrendering gets easier with practice, perspective, and with support and love.

Thanks everyone for reading and sharing my blog for the last two years. We are very excited to announce the release date of the book very soon.



Sunday, June 5, 2011

Relaxed, Peaceful, Divine - Recording my First MP3

I went to the recording studio last week to record my first official, professional hypnosis MP3. I have titled it: "Relaxed, Peaceful, Divine." It a general relaxation journey that is also a bit spiritual or meditative. I kept it somewhat generic so that anyone can listen to it and get relaxed, whether they are pregnant or not. I think your dude might even like it if he's open to that kind of thing.

It was at my friend's home recording studio so I just made myself comfortable while he went into the garage to work all his knobs and levers. Sound is very complicated. I am glad he's a professional.

Then we edited out any loud breaths or sounds I made. It took about 4 hours total to record and edit a 16-17 minute track. That was actually pretty speedy. We still have to lay down some white noise or beats in the background, but once we do that, I should be able to make it available for download. So that is potentially in just a few days. It will be for sale to the general whoever on iTunes and audible, but you can get a free copy. All you have to do is sign up for our email newsletter (that's how I'll send it to you) in the left sidebar. And then if would be so kind as to LIKE our page on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter (if you are of the tweeting persuasion), and "Follow" the blog, then we will keep giving you love back. And if you really love us you can grab our button and put it in your sidebar.

Also, if anyone has any love they would like to donate in the form of prizes that pregnant ladies or moms might want, feel free to hit me up and maybe I'll do more giveaways. Personally I didn't understand the whole giveaway thing for a while. I feel like I am giving my soul to the world by writing this blog. And if I am going to give something away, I want to give it to everyone--which is easy with MP3s, but I see that it is not so easy with other things and the idea of a lotto or contest might be kind of fun for some readers. So maybe soonish. We'll see.


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