“Love Actually” and other musings about emotional energy

In the introduction of the movie “Love Actually“, Hugh Grant muses about going to the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport, witnessing the reunions that happen there and how nice it is to watch. I got to experience that firsthand the other day when picking up my husband from the DFW airport.

I was surprised when I got there because I’d forgotten how crowded the international arrivals gate can be. There were families of all kinds; some holding signs, some holding flowers, some just bristling with anticipation. I was instantly energized and uplifted although it took me a minute to realize why….then I saw my first reunion. Two people obviously thrilled to be in one another’s presence again. Maybe they’d been apart for a few days, or a few weeks, or maybe even a few years….who knows? So I sat down and watched more closely.

The same thing happened over and over. A traveler walking through the door with a searching look on their face….the eyes widening….a grin appearing…..a new purpose to their steps until they physically met their loved one. There were children screeching, running and being swept up into the arms of parents. Not to mention hugs and kisses all around. The atmosphere was amazing, and indescribably beautiful which is interesting to me because picking someone up at the airport is really such a mundane task.

Yet, I found myself reluctant to leave once I’d reunited with my loved one…with all of the requisite hugs and kisses of course. The world we live in is short on overflowing joy and happiness and I wanted to continue to be a part of it. However, reality is reality and my poor husband had spent long hours on a plane to get back home. Asking him to hang out at the airport and bask in the glow of complete strangers hugging would have been a bit much I think.

That experience got me thinking about emotional energy and how we feel and respond to it. It’s one of those phenomena that is nearly impossible to describe, but my guess is that most people understand what I’m talking about. For good or bad, we sense the emotional energy around us. When we are around genuine happiness we are drawn to it. When we are around anxiety and fear, we tense up. We can get swept up in anger and indignation as well as relaxing in the presence of the truly peaceful.

Are we all just emotional sponges?

A friend recently commented about how she doesn’t watch the news because she becomes very emotional and didn’t want to expose her body or mind to that kind of stress. At the time I understood what she meant although I didn’t quite agree with it. After all, if no one pays attention to what’s going on in the world how can we hope to improve it? I think I have a deeper understanding of her point of view after my experience at the airport.

We watch horror on the news and we can’t sleep. I know that happened to me after seeing the Batman premiere early Friday morning, and arriving home to the news of the shootings in Colorado. So we feel grief and even visceral fear about an event that didn’t impact us directly

We get onto FaceBook and start steaming at the rhetoric of some of our “friends” about any number of things. Politics, religion, parenting…you name it.  So we don’t even need to be in a room with someone to feel their emotional energy. If they are angry, and we agree with them, we get angry. If they are angry and we don’t agree with them we get indignant at least and maybe defensive and angry ourselves.

What does this emotional energy do to us? I have to believe that there is an effect, and not just in the moment. We may not have figured out how or why but we do know that there is a link between our physical health and our emotional health. So maybe the best medicine is cultivating positive emotion in our lives while minimizing the negative. Maybe we learn to let go of the people whose energy seems to be unrelentingly  angry and tense.

And just in case I get really down on life and stressed out to the point where I lose my perspective on things, I can always go hang out at the airport. That is where the love is.

Time Magazine Overload

Are we all sick of this story yet? Are we done ranting about one side or the other? I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted.

I’ve spent more time thinking about everything I’ve seen and read over the last week, than I will admit publicly, (I would diagnose myself as OCD, but looking around my less than sparkling clean house I know that’s not the case.) and there are two things that I keep coming back to.

  1. The comments of people who disagree with me.
  2. Why we’re collectively spending so much time arguing about whether or not a particular person is too affectionate/nurturing/attached to her kids when there are so many horrific cases of actual child abuse in the news, not to mention every other thing that’s wrong with the world we’re living in.

I’m not averse to people disagreeing with me, generally speaking. (My kids would scoff at that statement I’m sure….and perhaps my husband too) I didn’t have a problem with any thoughtful comment from people who had obviously taken the time to get the facts but had a differing opinion from my own. What I didn’t understand, and am not sure I will ever understand, is disagreeing without hearing the other side of the argument. Basically just putting your foot down and saying, “I think that’s wrong, so its wrong.” Or sticking your fingers in your ears and saying “La, la, la, I can’t hear you.”  I guess there’s no arguing with that sentiment, but I still want to.

What I spent most of my time thinking about however, was deeper. I found myself wondering about the topics I blog about and whether I feel like I’m part of the problem or part of the solution. I started blogging to add a voice I wasn’t hearing in my day to day life and with the best of intentions…….but you know what they say about good intentions….

The road to Hell

So I had to take an honest look at myself and say, am I just like everyone else out there with a keyboard and an opinion? Am I jumping on the pop news bandwagon? Why do we get fired up about a person we’ll never meet, or a celebrity, or a sports figure? Why do these seemingly trivial things end up on the front page and then taking the internet by storm? Surely there are more important things to discuss and pour our energies into.

As luck would have it, in the midst of pondering all of this, a new post from a fellow blogger appeared in my in box giving me the answer I was looking for, at least to the question of why we pay attention to seemingly small stories while essentially ignoring the bigger picture.

It was called “Everything’s a Circle” by True Stories: http://jessicavealitzek.com/

In it the author talks about the phenomenon of “psychic numbing” and how in today’s climate of 24 hour news coverage our minds get so overloaded with information, we can’t process all of the difficult subjects we’re faced with, and the greater the problem, the more likely we are to tune out. Seems about right to me; not right in the sense of okay, but right in the sense that that kind of behavior is just plain human nature. Unless we’re confronted with an “in your face” crisis, there are just too many worthy causes clamoring for our attention and we don’t know where to focus, which means, I guess, that we will focus on the easiest target.

Alternative parenting techniques, gay marriage, politicians’ thoughts on gay marriage, Kardashians, flesh eating bacteria, Jessica Simpson‘s pregnancy weight gain,  the war on women, Fifty Shades of Grey….and on and on it goes.

And, yes, I guess I have to admit that I do get caught up in the emotion of the sensational news stories of the day, but what I’ve noticed, is that my best writing and my best reader responses come when the story du jour aligns with the things I’m most passionate about, like the breastfeeding cover, the debates on birth choice and women’s healthcare. So I will keep looking for things to talk about and pick carefully those topics which mean something to me. It may mean that my blog starts going in a different direction than I originally foresaw, but I will endeavor to never have to wonder again if what I’m blogging about is worthy of putting out there.

Wednesday Off

When I started this blog a little over a month ago, I decided to really try to post on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, so I apologize but I’ve spent the last couple of days not blogging. I was preparing for my husbands’s 40th birthday instead. It was definitely time well spent since we had a great night, and I’ll be back on Friday!

Thank you again to everyone who is reading and I’ll leave you with a quote from Rumi!

Living Life With Passion

It’s funny how sometimes in your life you get the same message from a bunch of different sources and depending on your personal philosophy think “what an interesting coincidence” or “Hmm, the Universe (or God, or whatever your frame of reference) is trying to tell me something.”

That happened to me this weekend. It seemed that everywhere I turned I was getting messages about living life to the fullest, following your dreams, and how the world needs people who are passionately living their own lives instead of being just another cog in the wheel of modern living.

I noticed people around me who I know have gone against the grain of society and are living their own unique lives and just exude peace and joy. I noticed people around me who are not yet doing that but have started to understand that perhaps the expectations that have always been placed on their shoulders are a burden they are ready to release. I noticed my own reaction to my kids’ desires for their lives and realized I have to let go of some of my ideas about how their lives should be  and teach them that not only is it okay to live authentically, it is essential. Blog articles on the subject appeared in my in-box. Quotes and comments on the subject appeared on my FaceBook wall.

And what I choose to believe is this:

I have just made the decision to go back to school, and while I’m excited about it I am also apprehensive. It will be hard on me and my family. It will be expensive. I might fail, or decide it’s not for me. I might make a mistake at some point which will hurt someone. However, by pursuing this dream I am pursuing a passion in my life. Writing this blog, and exposing my personal thoughts is me, finally, at almost 40, starting to be my authentic self. I needed reassurance that I am on the right path and I feel that the energy of the Universe has placed that reassurance in my path.

I am grateful, and I am ready.

Reflection on Birthing and Reproductive Choice

In my last post I did a little Bill Maher bashing, but more importantly I brought up the bugaboo topic of abortion, and then spent a good chunk of the next day reflecting on how I feel about that difficult subject especially in light of my chosen profession as a labor and delivery nurse and, as of this morning’s acceptance letter, a student midwife.

In light of my return to school and following a dream, let me take a moment to post George Takei‘s Happy Dance, since his is much more fun than mine:

OK, back on topic……

I haven’t always been pro-choice. Actually, as a teenager and in the early years of my marriage I was strongly pro-life. I remember having a heated debate with a friend about this issue when I was quite pregnant with my daughter. It was somewhat horrifying to feel my baby moving inside me, and anticipating her arrival so keenly, while listening to my friend argue that every woman should be able to terminate a pregnancy if she feels she needs to.

My pro-life leanings never had anything to do with religion. Back then it was really about biology.  I was so fascinated by early ultrasounds and how you could see heartbeats, arms, legs and movement, and I couldn’t understand how anyone could decide where to draw the line  for abortion being okay, so I drew the line at never. I figured that a fetus, while not viable, was a potential life and deserved to have a chance to live. Of course, as you may have been able to tell by my previous post on sex ed, I was also all about excellent contraception information and access in order to prevent an unintended pregnancy in the first place.

Over the intervening years, I didn’t give the issue much thought. I was raising my own babies, trying to balance kids, work and an across country move and it just didn’t seem have anything to do with me or my life. The furor had died down a bit; abortion wasn’t a big topic in the news. It was all about terrorism, the war on terror and the economy. Then, all of a sudden it seems to me, abortion was in the news again. There were new protests, and new pushes to place restrictions on abortion, so I sat up and started to take notice. And what I noticed most of all was a shift in my own thoughts on the subject.

Maybe I’m thinking of my own daughter, and her options as she nears adulthood. Maybe I’m just being contrary and adopting liberal ideals in response to being in such a conservative area. Maybe I get to see babies born every day who are desired and cherished and want that for every baby that is born. However, as I reflect further on my change in allegiance, I think that the thing that has most influenced my opinion is that as I’ve gotten older and gotten more experience I understand that motherhood is not about being able to conceive. Motherhood is about raising a child.

Having a baby is the easy part. Nurturing, teaching, and enabling a child to be their best self is challenging beyond description. It is at minimum an 18 year job, and truly, it is a job that lasts as long as you live, and I feel that every child that comes into this world deserves parents who want them, who want to care for them, and who will do their best to love them.

There are so many stereotypes out there about the kind of woman who would have an abortion, the three most prominent I think are careless teenagers, women of low socio-economic status who use abortion as birth control, and older, professionally successful women too self-absorbed to have a child. In my experience, though, while there are certainly some women who fit into those stereotypes, most women who seek abortions are just like you (or me) or your best girlfriend. They are single, married, younger, older, and from every economic background. They are from every race and religion and every part of the country. I have sought out friends and acquaintances who have had abortions to ask them their stories and they are all deeply personal and deeply varied.

I have never talked with a woman who had taken their decision to have an abortion lightly, although I guess it happens. The decision was always made with a lot of thought and generally a lot of tears. Yes, there may occasionally be thoughts about the child that might have been under other circumstances, but there is not a lot of regret. They know that, for whatever reason, they were incapable of carrying and parenting a child at that time in their lives and were unwilling to bring a child into this world without the best possible start. Now with the benefit of time, and hopefully, wisdom, I see their point.

I can’t imagine a world where women are forced into carrying a pregnancy that they feel they cannot. Pregnancy and birth are such all-consuming, life changing events; women have the right to be in control of their own reproduction and the timing of when they become mothers. That’s what’s right for women and that’s what’s right for their babies.

Yup, I’m Pretty “Uppity” When It Comes To Women’s Healthcare

My first two blog posts were about birth choice, and my next two were about politics which may seem like random subjects to start off with, but here is where I tie it all together.

As I stated before, I am passionate about women’s health. An acquaintance of mine asked me about work a couple of weeks ago and as I was telling her about my weekend on call she interrupted me and said, “You know, you light up when you talk about your job.” I can’t think of a better compliment; yes, I LOVE what I do.

And so, we come to the issue that has been sticking in my craw, the recent attempts to legislate women’s healthcare, specifically reproductive choice and the relationship between women and their healthcare providers. I don’t think any picture sums it up better than the cover of the April Issue of The Texas Observer.

Disturbing, no?

Of course,  Texas is not the only place where this is happening. State by state, legislatures are taking it upon themselves to pass laws stripping women’s rights of autonomy in making certain healthcare decisions, interfering with doctor/client privacy and, in the case of Arizona, trying to force women who take birth control pills to prove to their employer that they are taking it for reasons other than birth control if they want it covered by insurance. Because that’s what we all want to do, march into our boss’s office and talk about our sex lives (or lack thereof), our bad acne, our heavy irregular periods, or our polycystic ovarian disease.  (As it stands, the Arizona law only applies to religious non-profits. Thankfully, the bill that would have expanded that exemption to all employers was voted down last week, probably due to the public pressure generated by social media.)

The commentary I have seen in the news surrounding these laws is absolutely disrespectful of women, comparing them to farm animals (Georgia State Representative Terry England), dismissing the invasiveness of a vaginal probe ultrasound  (A Virginia Lawmaker who said that a woman had already consented to vaginal penetration by having sex so a vaginal probe shouldn’t be a big deal.), and probably my favorite comment, that in the good old days, all a woman needed for birth control was to hold an aspirin between her knees. (Foster Friess, a Rick Santorum supporter). Wow. What year is this again?


So hell yes, I’m uppity. I’m not  a primary healthcare provider yet, but as an aspiring one, I feel a protectiveness towards all women who have to make decisions about abortion and birth control for reasons I may not even begin to comprehend. It’s not my place to judge anyone else’s decisions; I get to make decisions for myself and that’s it. Can I offer an opinion? Sure, if asked. Can I offer support and information? Absolutely. Can I walk in someone else’s shoes? No, not really, so I don’t get to tell them how to live their reproductive lives. And neither do you. And neither should the government.

I have the nerve to believe that women have the same rights of medical autonomy as men, and that together with their healthcare providers they are capable of understanding the risks and benefits of any intervention without some politician’s input. I have the nerve to believe that the men and women who are degreed and licensed to be healthcare providers know a hell of a lot more than legislators do about what constitutes medical need and informed consent. And I have the nerve to be outraged at anyone who makes access to legal interventions in healthcare harder on women. But then again, I also have a sneaking suspicion that there are lots and lots of people out there who feel the same way I do. Their voices have already made a difference in Arizona, Virginia and Oklahoma, and for that I am profoundly grateful.

The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Barak Obama…

…..has got to be Rick Santorum. He of the sweater vests, and earnest religiosity.

Seriously, all you moderate Republicans out there, are you just about losing your minds yet? I feel for you, I really do. Without naming names, I have some moderate Republicans in my life, and by moderate I mean very fiscally conservative, but more liberal on social issues. And I know that they cringe every time they watch what passes for the Republican field this election season.

We all know that the Republican nominee is going to be Mitt Romney; the math just doesn’t work out for anyone else. Yet, on and on the primary season goes complete with name calling and mud slinging, not to mention Rick Santorum’s epic doomsday commercial, Obamaville (For the best effect, watch in full screen mode). A video so over the top, that my daughter, who is a budding journalist, couldn’t believe it was for real. She thought it must be some type of parody or satire. But no, this is Rick Santorum’s vision of a second Obama term, a world in which he (Obama) is apparently the only black person left, and all the white folk are on the brink of utter destruction.

With every passing day, and every sound byte the Republican candidates become less and less likable and/or credible. Meanwhile, I have to imagine that the Democrats are sitting behind closed doors and cackling with glee. Can’t you just see them with a gag reel of Santorum/Gingrich/Romney comments, clapping each other on the back and saying they couldn’t have done a better job of discrediting their opponents if they tried?

If the Republican party wants my advice, and I admit no one has knocked on my door just yet, please, for the love of all that’s good and holy, stop bickering and fear mongering, stop the religious crusade, and start talking about your fiscal and foreign policy plans. You know, the things Republicans are supposed to be good at.

Religion and Politics

Aren’t those the two things you’re not supposed to talk about in polite company? Well, here goes anyway…..

When did religion hijack politics?

I don’t remember it being this way growing up. I never saw politicians talking about their particular religion or justifying policy “because the Bible says so” .  Maybe that’s because I’m from the northeast, which is an admittedly liberal kind of place, or maybe it’s because in the past I’ve tried to avoid political debate because I find it intimidating to discuss.

Things have changed and like it or not, I feel like I have to jump in with both feet. It’s increasingly hard to be a moderate nowadays because the tone of the conversation has definitely amped up. In high school I had a social studies teacher who would compare the events leading up to each upheaval in U.S. history saying it always begins with “the polarization of the moderate attitude.” (See, Mr V, I was paying attention in class!) And that is exactly what’s happening at this point in U.S. history. It feels like everyone around you wants you to pick a side, and PICK IT RIGHT NOW!

I’ll admit it…..I’m angry at the Republican Party. And the Democratic Party. And pretty much every political party, especially the Tea Party. I’m angry because all I’m looking for is an honest debate about the most important issues our country is facing, like the economy, our educational system, our infrastructure, how our country is going to compete in a global market and foreign policy. But no, what we’re talking about is whether birth control pills should be covered by insurance (Yes) and which talk show host is the bigger jerk, Bill Maher or Rush Limbaugh (Probably a tie).  Are you kidding me??????

I really wanted to be able to follow the Republican debates this primary season, but I just can’t anymore. Each candidate is trying to “out-conservative” the others and they throw around “Moderate” like it’s a four letter word. They are doing a damn good job of turning issues with all sorts of shades of gray into issues that are black and white. Even worse, they are spending an awful lot of time and energy arguing over who’s the better Christian based on his track record and implying that the biggest test of your faith is in who you vote for in November, and it better not be for that Muslim in the White House (wink, wink).

I don’t care what your religion is, that is a private and personal matter. I don’t care how closely or loosely you practice the tenets of your faith because again it is personal and private.  Its time to get back to discussing secular issues on the podium and issues of faith on the pulpit because what I do care about is whether you want to change or impose laws based on your religion and force the rest of the country to live by your faith which we may or may not agree with.  That, my friends, is a theocracy and we all know how well it’s worked in the past.

The Start of a Revolution?

You know what the problem is with moderates? We tend to be quiet. Those at the opposite ends of an argument tend to be very passionate and vocal. Moderates? Not so much. We see both sides of the story and so we don’t tend to get so heated. We just wait things out and dismiss the radicals as radicals. You know what the problem is with that? The radicals get all of the airtime and start to sound not quite so radical.

So here I am, The Passionate Moderate. I am here to talk about being in the middle of polarizing subjects. I am here to be the voice of understanding and tolerance. I am here to give a voice to cooler heads.

So who am I?

A non-conservative living in one of the most conservative political counties in Texas.

A former Catholic, Unitarian Universalist in the bible belt.

A RN/midwifery student who absolutely appreciates obstetrical care while practicing in an out-of-hospital setting.

A vegetarian who cooks meat for her family every night……amongst other things.

So, have you characterized me as a flip-flopping, wussy, fence-sitter yet? Well, I am here to tell you that is not the case. I believe with all my heart and soul about the choices I’ve made for myself, and amazing as it may seem, I believe you have the right to make choices for yourself without my help. What frustrates me to no end are the people out there who want to make my decisions for me or tell me what kind of person I am based on the decisions I’ve already made.

Over the next few posts, I’ll tackle a number of divisive subjects, and I welcome all respectful comments and debate. No name calling or insults on either side will have a place on my blog. I’m here to encourage a civility that seems to be lacking in the current culture. Who’s with me?