Category Archives: Reflection

Not Since 1948

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Super moon

Beavermoon

Tonight we meet again.

Not since 1948.

Is it mere coincidence?

68 years ago we gazed at the moonrise from verandas overloooking the sea

We sipped sweet mint tea and spoke in hushed tones as the sky darkened

perhaps even gasped at she climbed the horizon, illumating her glorious fullness.

What A marvel! I could hear my great grandfather say. How bright it must have appeared to them then in the cloudless Levant evening.

Was the moon whispering messages then, as she is today?

Or it enough to just shine her glow on all our dark spaces.

“I see you” she exclaims dryly.  Like a sibling’s weary game. “You can come out now.”

Be prepared

Come together

Build your dreams

There is no where left to hide.

 

 

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The Shore/ Submit

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The Shore

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My relationship with the shore has always been this.

Nothing but sea and sky.

Nothing else in my head.

How far ive drifted from even this, my most basic of anchors.

It’s enough even just to feel the edges now,

the edges of myself seem satisfying now.

Ill take it.

I recognize it’s not just me, but Earth that is also trembling.

She is heaving, insides upturning. like so many times before,

Millenia folded upon millenia, reaching, streatching.

We become like the dry river bed spreading like tentacles that quickly dry in the sun’s encompassing snare.

Unsure when our banks will taste the water but still we reach.

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Submit

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Submit I said.

He knows this is his challenge, says he can not, will not submit.

The word vibrates like rain striking the ground

Soon this, I can so plainly see, will be under the sea

To submit, I know is not a surrender but an act of active listening

like turning to face the wind so she knows you have aknowledged her

I describe it as an instinct, knowledge we were born with; to submit is to activate the divine deep in the marrow

We were taught how to submit, to place forehead on ground in supplication

There is peace to be found in greeting the earth

But what is prayer to us now?

Oceans removed from where we were meant to be

He will not bow down

Submission requires pliancy, the ability to bend as to avoid breaking

I ask the earth to remind me and here I am doing the reminding.

Sometimes its easy to forget, among the sameness and drudgery- that we are in love

That we are saving each other

that we are catching each other when we fall

that our souls are in communion

we were drawn together for this unraveling-of this I am certain.

 

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Horizon

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Etymology of Hoizon is listed as: bound, limit, divide, separate and limit of view.

 

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I am trying to stay positive in the face of uncertainty,

stay clear headed and patient in the face of parenting responsibilities.

Creative in the face of harsh realities

 

And then there’s Meena.

There is no question that child was wrought out of pure love.

I am so grateful for him. For his presence.

 For his warm squishy body next to mine at night

for his big goofy giggles,

for his squels at Ali or cuddles with Chris.

 

Life is not this or that, not black or white.

 It’s energy, light, flow

and always, always movement.

 

I will long for a snapshot of this feeling, this love long after it might pass

Long after I get grey and achy

Long after he outgrows my lap and his chubby cheeks.

The bittersweet passage of time.

How hard I tug and pull to get to the next horizon only to look back and remember what I forgot.

 

How is it some of us can hold so much love, so much light, while others simply can not?

 

Water on Mars. Plastic in oceans.

Families huddled along borders, waiting.

Pushing and pulling against tides, against horizons

 

Can we evolve to something different? Something we have never experienced before?

How much can our container hold?  

 

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We Are Providence: Featured Essay!

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Learn more about Devon, the “Lonely” tagger and support his campaign: https://life.indiegogo.com/fundraisers/lonely-as-i-have-ever-been-providence/x/12087612

One of my essays has recently been featured in Frequency Providence’s first ever anthology, Missing Providence.

Order the Missing Providence Anthology Here! It’s chock full of local talent and great writing:

http://frequencywriters.org/2015/09/09/order-frequencys-anthology/

 

art and the post-industrial city

art and the post-industrial city

“She came from Providence, the one in Rhode Island Where the old world shadows hang heavy in the air She packed her hopes and dreams like a refugee Just as her father came across the sea “

– The Eagles, “The Last Resort”

He lives downtown...

He lives downtown…

 

We Are Providence

Each section of the city of Providence holds magic for me. Mount Pleasant is home to some of the only old growth oaks in the city, Federal Hill’s original Narragansett name is Nocabulabet, which means place between the ancient waters, and Fox Point was a major international shipping center, with slave ships and all. While the sycamores, forgotten bridges, and the layers of history are fair game for any artist searching for inspiration, Providence has burrowed her way into my dislodged center, setting it right again. She has made me feel at home against all odds.

Growing up Palestinian in Rhode Island, my need for relevance and connection was fierce. While undoubtedly this is connected to Palestine’s longing for statehood and international recognition, its also because Rhode Island is not an easy place to immigrate to. Directions are impossible to deal with unless you happen to know “where the old Dunkin Donuts used to be.” Sometimes the same road has several different route numbers and locations are referred to by their “unofficial” name. No, South county is not an actual county. I never set foot in Palestine, but with my Teta’s grandmother stories I at least got to feel like I did. I know the fishermen and orange groves in Yaffa well enough to imagine the sights and sounds of our ancestral land. I remember her countless retellings of that ill fated spring in 1948, with it’s thunderous bombings and dismembered bodies vividly enough to feel as though I witnessed them myself. While my grandmother’s stories were already seeding my identity, my own experience with fleeing Kuwait as a six year old added to the entanglement of roots.

My mother and I fled Kuwait a few weeks after the Iraqi invasion in 1990. Despite the whirlwind of narrowly escaping plundering soldiers, intense dessert heat, and a custody battle that included a thumb-less kidnapper hired by my father’s family, (a story for another day), I was thrown into this new world without so much as a guidebook. In elementary school while my classmates ate peanut butter jelly sandwiches, I ate Zaet and Zaatar pita my mom packed. In second grade you could easily spot me in the school cafeteria. I was that girl with the frizzy braids and thick rimmed pink glasses, (before they were cool) patiently explaining in broken English that no, I wasn’t eating bird poop, just herbs mixed with olive oil. My mother, finally freed from stifling gender norms could raise me without fear. Since she was divorced, it was law that I would only be with her till age eleven, after which my father-a distant but not wholly unpleasant accountant, would have been my legal guardian. Had my mother remarried or was caught out on a date, she would be deemed an unfit mother, losing custody even sooner, perhaps even securing my fate as a math whiz instead of a writer.

       As the months grew into years, the novelty of Rhode Island faded. I hungered after stability in people and places. I envied my classmates for the simple routines that involved sport practices or family vacations. While they went along their seasonal routines, in my family there was still talk of moving away, of new schools, new relationships, and yet another world to get accustomed to. I ached for a predictable life. I still find myself in awe of people who have the notion that life will unfold in exactly the same way it had for generations. I knew the comfort was an illusion. I understood that friends had some flavor of childhood trauma or economic insecurity rippling beneath the placid surface of their day to day lives, but I envied the illusion. My experiences were too raw to be hidden. They had marked me with a discordant vibration; amplified by the cadence of my mispronounced name. I recognize this discordance is others, in fact, Providence is abuzz with it; all those layers of old world muck latticed through downtown’s polished center. You can see it in people and places like the half collapsed Moshassuck bridge; centuries old, dark in the shadow of newly constructed luxury condominiums. My insecurities mirrored by the city itself. I might not have fit in where I wanted to, but at least Providence understands.

I could never experience home in the same way my Teta did but I could lean on Providence for support. Like so many before me, I have been seduced by this haven for those “distressed for conscience” and I’ld like to think that it’t no mere coincidence. While researching the history of State Pier One’s role in immigration for a story idea, I came across some surprising information.

The Fabre Line, a fleet of steamships, supplied Providence with immigrants well into the twentieth century. Immigration quotas threatened to put the Fabre Line out of business, but they decided to redirect the routes and pick up immigrants and visitors from cities like Beirut, Alexandria and Yaffa. Yaffa! The same city my family was forced to flee in 1948. This steamship came from Providence and went to Yaffa as part of it’s journey, to pick up goods and people way back before my disoriented self ever stood on that Providence pier.

Fabre Line

      Could it be that after several years of defining myself as a misplaced and misunderstood outcast, that I actually been home in Providence after all? Do I have ancestors floating around having a good laugh; chuckling ‘oh silly girl! nothing is random.’ ? I remember downtown before the mall, before Water Place Park and well before those luxury towering condos. The tourism council will have you thinking that Providence always had a glowing face of fancy restaurants and Waterfire, but I knew her before the Botox injections. Before she tried to hide her puffy post-industrial eyes and walk in Boston’s high healed pumps. Maybe if we sit by the Providence River at dusk and look down toward the smoke stacks and consider the gentle lapping of its briny water we could hear the voices that came before us. If we hold still and listen closely we might even hear H. P. Lovecraft famously proclaim, I am Providence. To which we can now respond: “No Mr. Lovecraft. We are Providence”.

misty Providence River

misty Providence River

Fabre Steamship in Providence Hatbor

Fabre Steamship in Providence Hatbor

 

***PUT PROVIDENCE ON THE LITERARY MAP!!   Support Frequency, order the anthology, check out the featured workshops: http://frequencywriters.org

*** SUPPORT Devon and the pursuit of accessable art: https://life.indiegogo.com/fundraisers/lonely-as-i-have-ever-been-providence/x/12087612

 

WRITE OR BE WRITTEN

Lessons in Waiting : Meena’s Birth Story

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“… a woman must go to the place between this world and the next, to that thin membrane between here and there. To the place where life comes from, to the mystery, in order to reach over to bring forth the child that is hers. The heroic tales of Odysseus are with us, each ordinary day. This round woman is not going into battle, but she is going to the edge of her being where every resource she has will be called on to assist in this journey…We are not a culture that waits for anything, nor are we believers in normal birth; waiting for a baby can feel like insanity.”

"Labor" Selfie!

“Labor” Selfie!

Labor:noun
1.  work, especially hard physical work.

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When I was still pregnant, I had a conversation with my best friend about past labor experiences, namely how our mental state affected the outcome.  Our hopes and fears all manipulated our sense of control. We reflected on all the ways our thoughts are interconnected with how our bodies functioned in labor… So having “been there, done that”, I thought I knew what I was getting into the second time around.

My water broke a week after my due date.  We went into the hospital around 2am on a snowy Sunday night.   I thought it was going to be really fast process since my 1st birth was about 6 hours from start to finish.  With this one, I was disappointed to find out that an hour after my water broke I was only around 2 centimeters.  Although I was contracting (not very strong contractions though), this led me to feel like I should have stayed home longer, (which was too late a this point since being Strep B positive, I needed to get hooked up to an IV for antibiotics.)

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Upon arrival, I was greeted by lovely nurses who were joking around and in a good moods.  It was confirmed that I had some meconium (baby poop) in my waters, but not enough to be concerned about.   Then I was checked by a young resident, who was nice but inexperienced.  He said something to me about offering me a “special medicine” in the morning if I hadn’t “progressed”.  Poor dude didn’t know who he was talking to and I am sure he was surprised when I said I am NOT interested in taking pitocin  (I know that names of your “special medicine”!) … Interventions have their time and place when needed, but I trusted my body to do its thing in its own time.

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Little did I know how much this trust in myself and in biology was going to be tested during this labor.

As the hours sped by and soon turned into a full day and night,  it was becoming clear that no amount of walking, squatting, or birth ball bouncing was enough to get active labor started!   My nerves were getting raw. My labor started so quickly last time it felt like I was being carried away by a strong stormy current- no amount of resistance could hold it back- with my last labor, as in my previous relationship to myself and others-life just happened and I simply reacted and went along for the ride. This labor was different. It wasn’t going to just do the work for me.  There needed to be more give from me, but I needed to figure that out…

I was disappointed that due to the meconium in my water I had to be continually monitored.  This was already a trigger from my first pregnancy (even though that was 6 years ago)- because I associated that belly monitor with giving medical staff the reason for starting unnecessary interventions.  Luckly, this hospital and my new Dr. didn’t come in and bother with me at all.  I was waiting for the ground to be pulled up from underneath me, but other than checking my vitals and putting in my IV I wasn’t being pressured about my progress. I was upset that I could barely walk around with the monitor without it somehow slipping off, making the heart rate unreadable…  I thought “If I couldn’t walk around then this baby was never coming out!”  My doula and nurses kept trying though, and eventually – after several hours- got the monitor to stay working long enough for me to walk and that helped get a few strong contractions going.

I know they say not to go into childbirth with any expectations, but I had already broken that rule.  I not only expected my labor to have started already (I mean, my water broke!)  I also passed that judgment on to my doula and husband, who I feared were some how disappointed things were taking so long.  I said no thanks to suggestions of nipple stimulation at first especially via a breast pump- because I assumed it was more trouble than it was worth- I was gonna start hard labor anyyyyyy minute right now, right?- but also because of some deeper fears that I didn’t realize I felt.  I finally said yes to the pump late that night cause we had to keep trying everything we could.  I assumed that I was on that “24 hours of breaking water” deadline before I’ld be forced some sort of intervention. After talking of the Doctor’s assistant, I was assured that there was no rush, they knew the baby was fine since it was constantly monitored and that I was guarded against infection due to the antibiotic IV drip.  It really was just up to me.

The pump was a surprising trigger that reminded me of the last time I used one- when I was worn out, depleted physically and emotionally, in pain, lacking support from my partner and others… All these years and this new life later, and I was still triggered? Clearly I had some internal work to do before this baby could come out… about 24 hours in, I decided I needed some rest.  We turned the lights low and I ended up sleeping for a couple of hours.

That must have been all I needed to get my mind right cause at about 3:30 am, I was stirred awake by some stronger than usual contractions.  At first I didn’t pay them any mind and tried to go back to sleep, but after a few I realized there was a pattern developing.  This was it!

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I was so thankful for every contraction, moving me closer to meeting this baby! I welcomed the pressure that was moving downward and I squatted with every contraction.  As they got stronger, I was reminded of the massive rush the last time.  This was different. The waves moved slower and I had more control. I imagined myself reaching for “that thin membrane between here and there”.  This child, I felt, was increasingly within reach, in that place between worlds.  I still feared all the waiting though. I was worried that this wasn’t really it.

In a moment of clarity I looked at the time, it was about 5am. Dawn. Fajr.

Growing up I was lucky enough to live with my extended family including my Teta (grandma).  She was widowed fairly young and as a result become more devout.  She wore the hyjab, studied the Quran and prayed five times a day, never missing her call to prayer, even that very early Fajr.  She was the one who was home when I came home from school each day.  Who made sure I ate and prayed and did my homework.  She retaught me how to read Arabic after we immigrated to the states- after my new language pushed the Arabic to the back of my mind.  Being a natural storyteller, she shared descriptions of Palestine so vividly that I felt like I’ld actually tasted the salty Yaffa air, smelled my ancestors orange groves after a rain, and felt the roar of the rockets as they flew over her house in ’48.  Teta is 85 now and is remembering her words less and less. Whatever gender this baby was going to be, we already decided they were going to have her name- Ismat-a turkish name from the time of the Ottoman occupation of Palestine meaning Protector.  

 I remember what Teta said to me about Fajr- about it being the most important of all the prayer times.  She said when you ring in the dawn with the Fajr prayer, you set the right path for your entire day because Allah will be with you through it all.  I always considered how simply witnessing a sunrise felt magical. Watching a new day unfold in quiet stillness held the promise of so many possibilities, it made sense to me that she would call Fajr the most important time for prayer.  As the pressure and tighting of my contractions increased, I remembered her words. I remembered the patience and power of a brightening sky.  I remembered the role of stillness and was reminded to let go of any fears.

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  For only the second time since I was admitted to the hospital, my progress was checked. “8 centimeters”.  I was so giddy! Finally!  This was happening! That’s when I also realized that oh 8 centimeters!  I am entering transition…!  Just then, a nurse came in and asked if I wanted to move to  room 4… aka: first class labor suite, aka; the shower!! Knowing what I knew about transtion being fast yet very intense I said lets go! As soon as we moved in there it was non-stop close together contractions that thankfully had the edge knocked out of them in the shower. It got to a point where even the water wasn’t much of a relief and I knew that it was time.  I alternated holding on to the bed, my doula and my partner during each rush.  I was getting so tired that I was literally falling asleep between contractions! Soon I was feeling the urge the push and again-thankfully was only directed by the medical staff to do what my body was telling me to do. This was hard at first since I never felt the urge to push with my first child and it took me some time to assimilate to the new sensation.  At this point my doula was my lifesaver- she guided and urged me to focus my energy downward instead of out- to use the rush of the contraction to move the baby down.  She helped me focus on my breathing, to direct it downward and use it to my advantage. Every woman should have a doula! Without a doubt, I wouldn’t have gotten through it without her!

At around 8am, my Dr. came in to check me after a few spontaneous pushes and said, “you are at 10 and the head is at 0”.

I asked, “What’s the number we’re going for again?”

“0!  Go ahead and push all you want.  What position do you want to be in?”

“Ummm?” Being asked mid-contraction was a bit challenging…

“You seem to be doing great right there squatting on the bed, go for it!”

…So, I did. I again focused my energy downward and pushed when I felt the urge.  As the head moved down, I paused to take in the new sensations.  It was uncomfortable but so much better than still being in transition! At least now it felt like all that hard work my body was doing was getting somewhere to pushing!  After about 20 minutes of pushing, I was asked to put my hand down to touch the head. I was terrified! Why would I want to do that? After more coaxing I finally put my hand down and was surprised how soft and spongy the baby’s head was.  With renewed energy and purpose I kept pushing. The baby plopped out all slippery! How funny and gross! And then he promptly sprayed baby poop on everyone! He cried all on his own,  got wiped up then was placed on me… where he then peed on me…lovely!

 

A big thank you to the good folks at Memorial Hospital, my doula Jessica, my friends and family that came through with gifts and goodies and my husband Christopher!

Introducing baby boy Meena Ismat Samih-Rotondo!

 A few hours old!

A few hours old!

 

 

the bros!

the bros!

The Final Days: 40 Week Update!

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40 Weeks!

So with Valentine’s Day now behind us the month of February is quickly drawing to a close.

so this came home in my son's vday treat bag from school...

sooooo… this came home in my son’s vday treat bag from school…?

In our house, that means we are approaching The-Flood-of-Birthdays… EVERYONE is born in March! And now that I am passing my due date of Feb 23rd, I am starting to think maybe this baby doesn’t want to feel left out…? Come on child!! Let do this!

40 weeks!

40 weeks!

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Pros:

– Having time for Nesting/ Cleaning/ Baking

-Trying out DIY recipes for lotions/ cleansers. ect…

such as:

homemade facewash: http://www.diynatural.com/homemade-natural-facial-cleanser/

homemade sleepytime lotion: http://thepaleomama.com/2014/07/whipped-sleepytime-rub/

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-Got to try acupuncture for the 1st time! (It was great and I am looking forward to doing it more in the future!)

– Being ALMOST THERE!!!

AND almost spring??!!

spring?

spring?

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Cons:

-Back aches by the end of the day…

-My. Belly. Is. So. Itchy… I am constantly slathering something on my skin.  The combination of winter dryness, showering with hot water ( cuz its been so cold!) and stretching skin has made my skin NOT happy…

– Being this pregnant during this cray-cray winter= freak out about ice/snow

he doesnt mind this snow...

he doesnt mind this snow…

– and WAAAAIIITING!

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What we’re doing:  (Besides Waaaaiting!)

-Installing carseats, visiting friends, collecting diapers…

– Figuring out our moby wrap ( with help from rainbow rasta-lion)

photo-6 copy

-filing taxes ( ’tis the season!) and other modern world errands that will be harder to do with a newborn!

-surviving the RI winter ( fingers crossed its almost over!)

-Watching Dr. Who and Sherlock…

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Well, I for one am eager to exchange the discomforts of late pregnancy with that of early breastfeeding and newborn care! Hopefully by this time next week I will be drafting my first postpartum post!

Onward!

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I am not all impatience and disgruntled irritation.  I am embracing this moment for what it is.  A special place of in-between…

Inspiration:

“I believe that this is more than biological. It is spiritual… a woman must go to the place between this world and the next, to that thin membrane between here and there. To the place where life comes from, to the mystery, in order to reach over to bring forth the child that is hers. The heroic tales of Odysseus are with us, each ordinary day. This round woman is not going into battle, but she is going to the edge of her being where every resource she has will be called on to assist in this journey…We are not a culture that waits for anything, nor are we believers in normal birth; waiting for a baby can feel like insanity.”

– Read more at: http://www.mothering.com/articles/the-last-days-of-pregnancy-a-place-of-in-between/#sthash.YgAtDYvV.dpuf

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My Pregnancy Timeline:

1st Trimester

1st Trimester

1st Trimester!

1st Trimester!

Entering 2nd Trimester

Entering 2nd Trimester

about 27 weeks

about 27 weeks

 

32 weeks and counting...

32 weeks and counting…

 

Holidays 2014- 3rd Trimester

Holidays 2014- 3rd Trimester

 

 37 weeks and dropping!

37 weeks and dropping!

 

40 weeks!

40 weeks!

Homemade Nipple Butter aka: My Boob-Milk Manifesto

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The countdown is on and baby-time is drawing near. This is about the time I find myself nesting, preparing our space for a new tiny human and that includes getting the boobs ready for constant feedings.

My homemade Nipple Butter!

My homemade Nipple Butter!

I remember what it was like the 1st time ( geez over 5 yrs ago now!)  trying to figure out that latch and it was NOT fun to say the least. It totally sucked!  I didn’t realize it at the time, but due to my son’s shoulder dystocia and the stress associated with being separated for the first 8 hours, we had a very hard time getting the nursing thing down.  For one thing, my milk took 4 days to come in and the poor little guy was clenching his jaw tight when trying to latch those first few weeks, offering everyone around me free lessons in epic-pirate quality cuss-outs.  I tend to cuss like a sailor in normal daily conversations, but with the added element of aching breast and sore nipples,  I could probably make black-beard blush.

I know DJ, I know...

I know DJ, I know…

I remember thinking that the pain my breasts endured was worse than the actual birth    (and due to certain hormones kicking in, that was probably true!)  Once things got really bad and I was dealing with like ALL the things…. All that stuff they tell you to watch out for on those well-meaning but shallow nursing pamphlets:  engorgement, clogged milk ducts, bloody nipples and a fever… yeah, I had that.   I sought out and received support from a lactation consultant (totally covered by insurance which my broke-self was very thankful for!) and after a couple sessions, nipple cream, and just putting my boob milk on the boo-boo nips, everything was in much better shape and we nursed mostly pain-free for several years.

I am not one to force or even talk up long-term nursing. I didn’t exactly plan it to nurse that long myself, it just sort of happened and it wasn’t stressful for either us so I went with it.   I am also not one to that can be easily embarrassed about most things in general and I am not one to look away when someone (and most of the time it was other women!) gave me dirty looks while nursing in public.

Let my boobmilk go!

Let my boobmilk go!

I remember returning the look right back- with a “dont make me squirt ya in the eye with my boobmilk” stare-which btw should totally be an emoticon…

yeah, kinda like that...

yeah, kinda like that…

Over time I cared less and less about pulling the boob out for feedings. I found it particularly interesting that after months of encouraging my son to say “num-num” as a way to nonchalantly request boob-milk when in public that he would instead shout “Boob!” While also tugging at my shirt.

Well done child.

Whatever decorum was left had surely deteriorated at that point so f**k it!

BOOB it is.

I strongly feel that nursing should happen for as long or short as mom and baby deem right…But that lady on the Times cover ain’t got nothing on me.

who cares what this lady does with her boobs, get over it America...

who cares what this lady does or doesn’t do with her boob? Get over it America…

People thought that was controversial? Hows about putting a Palestinian mom nursing her Black pre-schooler on the cover…?!  What then…?!

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oh man, shit's getting real...

oh man, shit’s getting real…

Aaahh, but I digress…

So I am a boob-milk believer.  I loved learning about it, the health and emotional impacts on both mom and baby. The unique chemical makeup.  I became a boob-milk scholar, learning everything I could and sharing it with others.  I could write a book on the differences between whale and human milk and everything in-between… I was a lacto-scholar. It was super interesting to me… then again so are things like glacial deposits, historical cemeteries, post-industrial rivers, and birding…We all have our ticks.

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Why Nipple Butter?

Issues with Lanolin:  A study published in the September 1992 issue of the “Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry” found that lanolin samples contained several types of pesticide residues, and the contamination level varied significantly among batches. Also, I just wasn’t really feeling the texture of it, it didn’t feel very good on my skin.  I decided to hit up the mighty Pinterest and low and behold there are various homemade nipple butter/cream recipes to try out!

This recipe is a combo of couple different ones I eventually settled on:

Ingredients:

2 parts coconut oil

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2 parts shea butter

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1 part beeswax

beeswax

beeswax

2 drops lavender essential oil

lavender

lavender

2 tablespoons of Calendula infused olive oil

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Where you can order ingredients:

mountain rose herbs: https://www.mountainroseherbs.com

or, if your a local: Farmacy Herbs: http://farmacyherbs.com

images-8 How to:

step 1: Melt the coconut oil, shea butter and beeswax in a small sauce pan over low heat

* It is best to shred/ cut up the beeswax before adding in, which melts it down easier.

step 2: pour in the lavender and olive oil

step 3: pour the entire mixture into 4 oz jars (any desired container would do, but I prefer glass)

step 4: let in cool from anywhere between 1 hour to overnight!

My completed Nip Buttah

My completed Nip Buttah

Uses and benefits:

beeswax: protective to skin, wound healing, antibacterial, humectant (moisture retaining)

shea butter: anti-inflammatory, chemical-free moisturizer, healing

coconut oil: skin-softener, absorbable fatty acids, the lauric acid can kill bacteria, viruses and fungi

lavender essential oilimages-4

Calendula:

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* So many possibilities! It’s exciting to try out new variations for next time including using coco-butter or different essential oils.  I plan on branching out and trying a whipped all over body butter  (among other goodies) for next time!  Check out my growing Pinterest board on all things DIY: http://www.pinterest.com/nsamih84/health-and-beauty-diys/

Next time: My version of “necessary” baby gear and what I am packing in my labor/hospital bag and who knows what other nonsense!

Tackling Nonfiction: Discovering Narrative Medicine

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I’ve shifted to writing nonfiction lately with the hopes of creating a memoir but it hasn’t been the same process as writing fiction. With fiction there is a freedom of imagination, of creating from scratch that doesnt work the same way with nonfiction. I recently read that in order to tell if your story is a novel or a memoir you must ask yourself: Did change come from change of circumstance or from within? This didn’t help much since it was both for me…I know that a memorable voice is most important in memoir and in writing nonfiction, I need to find the hidden patterns in my memories.

I’ve kept a journal consistently since elementary school, but it wasn’t till attending graduate school for creative writing that I finally opened myself up to the possibility of writing longer works of nonfiction.

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I am currently working on a collection of various non-fiction essays, ranging in topic from my study abroad experience in Egypt, memories of my grandmother, my first year in the United States, and my shifting relationship with the city of Providence.  I hope to have most- if not all- of these essays completed and out into the world by the fall.. but the more important part has been sitting down and writing out these long-held thoughts and memories.

Writing in general is a long, arduous process nevermind writing nonfiction… the act of processing memories in a way that promotes a coherent story is even harder, but very necessary.  As I am sure folks have heard before, writing is an addiction…  If I am not writing, I pretty much lose my shit…!

Writing is how I make sense of my world, process my emotions and experience order in an otherwise scrambled day. This year, I was introduced to the concept of Narrative Medicine and after looking more into it, fell in love with the concept.  Originally designed for medical students as a way to sort through their experiences as well better support their patients, it has grown to be an organized program of study at medical schools such as Columbia in New York City.

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Narrative Medicine aims not only to validate the experience of the patient, but also to encourage creativity and self-reflection in the physician.  Sort of serving as healing the healer…

“Our approach begins with the exploration of observational skills. We believe that there is an extraordinary language within the visual world that is often perceived unconsciously; when properly understood, this language can potentially offer new depths of information about and access to the clinical experience.”

Narrative medicine is the encompassing of our awareness of health and disease into a storied structure. We embed the illness into the life story of the person in such a way that we discover meaning and purpose in both the illness and the experience of recovery.  It’s hard, sometimes, to give a simple definition, but in a diagnostic sense, the label of “sickness” becomes secondary to the life of the person who has a particular sickness. In order for a person to get well, there has to be a story, one that everyone believes, that leads the individual back to health.”

After reading that I though about why I write- certainly, to realign or lead me back to emotional health.  What a great reminder to keep grinding and just keep….writing!

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Read more about narrative medicine here : http://www.utne.com/mind-and-body/narrative-medicine-heals-bodies-and-souls.aspx#ixzz32p8bppGW

Welcome to my last week of being a 20 something…

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I have just about one week left untill I turn 30…whoaaahhhhhhh! Party Time! But of course I need to slow it down and take this time as an opportunity to review and give gratitude to the past before plunging forward to my new decade.

So to Recap! During my 20’s I am so grateful I…

-Worked all sorts of jobs from administrative work study college gigs to high school teacher, college advisor, retail at the mall…

-Learned how to live off very little money… and on my own… and as a single mom…

-Traveled to Cairo, London, Paris and Montreal…

-Rode trains for the first time

-Graduated undergrad

-Went to grad school in Cambridge ( thus acquiring a large body of student loan debt…)

-Became a teacher and met lots of amazing young people and their families

– Became a mom

-Made so many new amazing friends

-Got published

-Got my nose pierced

-Dyed my hair purple… and red

-Learned to forgive but not forget

-Started learning about medicinal herbs

-Married Love-o-my-lyfe!

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In my 30’s I hope to:

-Spend more time with my lovely friends

-trust and let go…

-Unlearn all that ‘on my own’ stuff without forgetting the lessons in it

-Get a bike

-More yoga, singing  and dancing…

-Hike more

-Take more trips

-Learn to knit

-Travel to west coast of Canada and US and visit other countries ( Greece, Turkey, Italy, ect…)

-Own house/land

-Start a garden

-Get Tattooed!

-Write soooo much more!

-Know more about natural medicine and herbs

-Maintain financial stability

-Keep learning…

….What else can I try to get in this week before the big 3-0 ??!

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Winter Solstice Reflections: The fine mingling of letting go and holding on

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“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.” Nelson Mandela

Mandela on Day After Release

Mandela on Day After Release

This quote was brought to my attention recently and I couldn’t help but recognize it as execeptionally fitting given not only Mandela’s passing, but also my heightened sense of personal growth as it relates to letting go of habits, thoughts, and feelings that no longer serve me.  In order to live the life I’ve been blessed with, I need to activily let go of what no longer serves me.  ( most noteably- habits Ild developed as a single mother- of a divorced person, of an economically challenged life, of constrained gender expectations…)

This past year has brought me many changes, a supportive partner and co-parent, a new home, a different job situation, opportunites for creative expression, and deeper relationship with the Earth. The future is very much unwritten, with endless possibilities- I dont want to cloud the possibilities with the heavy heart of a painful past… part of my growth has been the recognition that how I choose to move forward  is very much a choice. That recognition is the first of many difficult steps towards becoming the woman, mother, partner, teacher, and writer that I strive to be.

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Fittingly, the month of December is a time that  highlights the need to let go while honoring what brings us joy. It was clear to me that although I’ld already come a long way from the me from last year, it was clear I still needed had some personal work ahead of me.  For example, transitioning from single parenthood towards a trust filled, healthy partnership was a huge shiftt in the day to day routine ( oh so i dont have to work nonstop all day? Dinner is already cooked? like whoa.)

That was something I was able to immediatly feel relief from.  But, on a deeper level, I still had a lot of letting go to do.  I was still prone to jump into autopilot when it came to craming house work alongside childcare instead of simply asking for help, still asumed the worst during those times of exhaustion /heightened stress that my co-parent was not going to have my back or would react in an unhealthy way.  I found myself replaying scenes and dramas from long ago, times where I felt like I needed to downplay my exhaustion in order to shield my son from the less patient co-parent of that time. That was a  short, yet highly emotionally charged time where my protective instinct overpowered my desires of self care. These past traumas-as brief as they might have been, (and as logically picked over and sorted as a leftover thankgiving turkey carcass), still had power over me- still controled the way I shaped my reality.  

And that was the last thing I wanted, to live in a self imposed prison…

December 17:  Use this full moon to expand your sense of what could be. The time between this full moon and the Winter Solstice should be honored and quality time should be carved out to do what brings you joy. What needs expansion and more inspiration?

 What do you need to let go of?

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December 21: Winter Solstice-Do a ceremony around honoring yourself and your own truth. Your desires should be given top priority. Don’t be afraid to dream big. If you are still feeling the weight of what you have carried, changed, released, processed, started or created in these past months, release it somehow in a fire or other ceremonial way.

For more, check out power path-  http://www.thepowerpath.com/index.php/power-path-home/the-power-path/monthly-forecast/583-december-forecast-2013

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“The art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.”  ~Havelock Ellis

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Kindness poem by Naomi Shihab Nye

Before you know what kindness really is you must lose things,

feel the future dissolve in a moment like salt in a weakened broth.

What you held in your hand, what you counted and carefully saved,

all this must go so you know how desolate the landscape can be between the regions of kindness.

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How you ride and ride thinking the bus will never stop,

the passengers eating maize and chicken will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness, you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho lies dead by the side of the road.

You must see how this could be you,

how he too was someone who journeyed through the night with plans and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,

you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing. You must wake up with sorrow.

You must speak to it till your voice catches the thread of all sorrows and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,

only kindness that ties your shoes and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,

only kindness that raises its head from the crowd of the world to say it is I you have been looking for,

and then goes with you every where like a shadow or a friend.

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Creating that balance…

Letting go...

Letting go…