Rites of Spring Begin with “B”

Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night.

– Ranier Maria Rilke

 

Earlier this week, it happened; the sun and earth danced in such a way that, for equal portions of time, we knew light and dark.  And then, just as quickly, we were pushed beyond the balance into a new season –- for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, Happy Spring!

 

Spring Rites abound: birds returning, daffodils bravely pushing through cold, dark soil to reveal their strong, sensitive beauty, and of course “longer” days – the journey home from work includes appreciating the sunset, each one later than the evening before.

 

More personally, I noticed this week that my Rites of Spring Begin with “B” for Blessings:  Blessings for Boys, Birthing, Blogs, and Bees.  I’ll be Brief:

Isaac extends Blessings

 

 

  Blessing Boys – please enjoy my post on the Ritual I co-created with Joel and Jessica for their sons,    Isaac and Emmet;

 

 

 

Tristy & Justin Birth Anew

 

 Blessing Birthing – learn about the Ritual I co-created for Tristy and Justin, honoring their journey   from  unsuccessfully trying to make a baby to birthing new, child-free possibilities;

 

 

 

Blessing Blogs – when you read my blog it feels like a blessing! And, new this week, there’s a SUBSCRIBE feature, so you don’t have to miss any new posts!! Thank you, so much, for reading.

 

Blessings Bees – Ah, yes! Well, I don’t want to tell you everything all at once, so stay tuned for this story. Sneak preview? I bought a beekeeping suit yesterday. Buzzz, buzz…begins with “B.”

 

Happy Spring!!! Now stop reading this, Silly, and get out there to enjoy it…

 

Go Forth and Blossom...

 

 

RITUAL: A Journey from “Infertile!” to Choosing “Child-Free”

RITUAL:  A Journey from “Infertile!” to Choosing “Child-Free”

 

I have been on a 6-year odyssey to make a baby with my husband. This included all the usual

methods(!), as well as fertility treatments like taking the drug Clomiphene. We were not

successful in our quest and last year we decided to “stop trying.” While my husband more or less

happily moved on to start his new business, I felt stuck. I had poured my whole heart and soul

into making a baby and now that we were done with that chapter of our lives, I realized I had no

idea what came next.

-Tristy Taylor

 

Sometimes the things we can’t change end up changing us.

 – Unknown

 

Tristy’s Ritual: Grief, Shiva, and the UN-Baby Shower

March 3-11, 2012

 

Needless to say, Tristy’s grief began long before March 3rd.  And her extensive efforts to move beyond her grief brought her to my home one morning, early in February.  She began the conversation with a wise pronouncement: “I get it now – and it’s hard to ask – but this requires a ritual.  My grief isn’t going to leave until I ask for help from my community, and from a deeper source.”

 

Why was it hard to make this request?  Why, when women are so quick to shower one another with advice and gifts and mothering tips for those pregnant with little humans, have we not also found ways to celebrate, tend and care for the ones who incubate ideas, gestate projects, birth artwork, tend gardens, rear nieces, nephews, neighbors?

 

Maybe it’s because we haven’t first acknowledged the sadness that comes from attempting and failing at one’s birthright: making a child.  Infertility is a shame magnet, and choosing to live and love in ways that doesn’t include bearing children often mystifies.  And so began an exploration of acknowledging the grief, honoring a time for transition, and celebrating a willful choice.  Here’s how Tristy’s ritual went.

 

Saturday, March 3rd: Giving Up the Grief

Like giving up the ghost, the women who gathered late Saturday afternoon were there to support Tristy in fully expressing the sorrow, disappointment, and rage she’d been holding as a result of her six years of trying and failing to conceive a child.

Tristy in the Oak Grove

In the safety of twilight and with the guidance of Tristy’s talented priestess and friend,Lila, who offered her comfortable home, Tristy and a handful of wise women gathered to meditate, drum, and mourn.  The women, each in turn, invited her uterus to speak – and Oh, the stories!  Details of the night were held in sacred confidence by the ears that listened….and ultimately each one was surrendered to an Oak Grove, where it was understood the trees could transform it all. When it was over, Tristy’s husband,Justinretrieved her, taking her home for a week of resting in what was, and in what would become….

 

Sitting Shiva

For the next 7 days and 8 nights, Tristy sat Shiva, a Jewish custom following death.  To experience more of this part of the ritual, you may wish to read Tristy’s blog.

 

Sunday, March 11th: Tristy’s UN-Baby Shower

The flock of women who arrived at Tristy and Justin’s home Sunday morning arrived in precisely the fashion women do when they are showering a loved one — uproarious giggling and cooing, one arrival after another — alive, vibrant and a flourish of feminine chaos.   As the gathering, greeting and welcoming continued, Chef Justin wowed everyone us with a delicious brunch, featuring eggs (of course!!!!) and other bounty!  Settling in with a round of introductions, the women were asked, and consensus was found: it was everyone’s FIRST  UN-Baby Shower.  In short order, unanimous agreement resulted: it was an important event.  There were mothers and non-mothers in the room, each of them so grateful to be included, so moved by their friend’s courage, so willing to support Tristy in her choice to begin a new chapter as a child-free woman.

 

Hand on Heart

 

Each guest was asked to bring a quote from a woman who had not born children.  Quotes ranged from Dolly Parton to Julia Childs to Whoopi Goldberg; and as the quotes were appreciated and celebrated, so too was Tristy’s body, with colorful body paints – not just her womb, but her back and her chest and each appendage.

Artist's at Work

We called upon each facet, capable of imagining, making and mothering new creations.

 

 

Justin's Finishing Touches

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tristy’s friends showered her with creativity-inviting gifts: art materials, plants, libations and recipes!

Gifts for Bearing Fruit & Creativity!

Gifts for Bearing Fruit & Creativity!

 

To finish the ritual, we asked Justin to join Tristy.  Encircling them both, we acknowledged Justin’s role and voice as co-creator and co-parent both in what had been and in what will be.  With hands upon Tristy and Justin, the community set sacred intentions for the couple’s next chapter.  We prayed for surprise and delight and adventure in their choosing to be child-free.  And then, we told them how much we loved them.

 

We Love You, Tristy and Justin.

 

Flower Exchange Ecstasy

 

The UN-Baby Shower ended with some frolicking in the sun and a flower exchange (each woman brought a bouquet of flowers that were co-mingled and redistributed in bouquets to take home and enjoy.)  Brilliant!

 

Lauren & Tristy, Frolicking (lightly)

 

The Intimacy of Texting

My Dad and Juanita (his wonderful wife), came for a visit in February.  They were here over Valentine’s Day and to celebrate, I had some friends over for a dinner party.  One thread of conversation at the table that night revealed varying opinions on the cost-and-promise ratio of text messaging.  “I think it’s making us stupid,” said one friend.
“Nah, just less verbal,” said another.  “It’s about dopamine,” someone else suggested.  “I think it’s about intimacy,” I said.  “Interesting…,” stated a voice; “…Depressing?” floated another.  And then, those of us willing to reveal our affection/addiction for texting, mentioned that several of the “Valentines” we’d received that day had been via SMS.

 

Photo Courtesy of J. Maccherone

I set out to do some research, and in a nutshell, here’s the deal:

  • Initial studies  suggested that dopamine controlled the “pleasure” systems of the brain, but newer studies reveal that dopamine causes seeking behavior – it’s what makes us desire, want and seek.  From a survival standpoint, we can be grateful to dopamine for keeping us motivated to move, learn, find food, etc.
  • A compliment to, but different from dopamine, is our opioid system, the stuff that makes us feel pleasure.  In short, dopamine makes us search, and satisfaction (pleasure) helps put the pause on our seeking practice, and find rest.

Guess which system is stronger in most humans?

  • Yep, we seek more than we are satisfied.  AND, with finely tuned and insanely accessible seeking instruments at our fingertips (literally), we can actually put ourselves into dopamine-induced loops: seeking, being rewarded with a new prompt, and seeking more.  Interestingly (…depressingly?) the dopamine system doesn’t have satiety built-in.   [Reminder: clicking the hyperlink WILL induce your dopamine system.]

Ah-ha!  I’m well acquainted with the aforementioned “dopamine-induced loop.”  Are you, as well?

 

A few days after the dinner party, I was riding my bike home on a dark, crisp evening.  My headlight was flashing, the cool breeze was finding my neck, my nose and my cheeks.  I felt happiness in my chest, exhilarated as my pedaling legs pushed me through the darkness.  I thought, suddenly of my brother, who’d been feeling sad recently, and how I wished I could text him what I felt in that moment.  I wanted somehow to share this feeling of contented aliveness.

And this is what I meant when I suggested that texting was in some way a bridge to intimacy (“in to me see”).

 

I’m a bit of a luddite; call me a (really) late adopter. I’ll be the first to admit, though, that I LOVE to see the text message icon smiling at me from the screen of my smarter-than-me phone.  “Who wrote?” I wonder, and, “What will the message say?”  Sure, often it’s practical details, logistical instructions.  There’s a sexy satisfaction in the highly efficient delivery system of texting or looking something up on google – but it’s short-lived and it doesn’t sate my opioid side.

 

Where, when, how do you practice Pausing?  Where, when, how do you practice resting in satisfaction? Resting in Pleasure?  I’m not talking about hedonism; I’m talking about simply experiencing what is and tasting it in its completeness.  Intimacy with the moment.  No striving.  No seeking.

 

Image: flickriver-com.jpg

 

I couldn’t “text” the rush or the joy of that evening ride to my brother’s phone, perse, but I did send him an attempt, and he texted back.  And the sentiments conveyed in these messages?  I wouldn’t trade them for anything.  They’re the messages that trump the dopamine-loop.  They’re invitations to love, revel and rest in the appreciation of,  “in to me seeing” with another.

 

What if we were to make a pact with ourselves and those we love, to temper our dopamine tendencies by leveraging our information-fueling devices to send pleasure in equal or greater amounts?  I’m not even sure I can appreciate what this means, but I know the taste of relief and sweetness that comes when I step off the seeking-cycle for a spell of satisfaction.

 

May a dose of enoughness find you…and may you spread it lavishly to others.  And if this post has filled you with a desire to seek, check out these Valentines (belated) that I SO wish I could text to you!

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