Saturday, October 23, 2010

Poetry News: Breadcrumb Scabs

Check out my latest publication, in Issue 22 of Breadcrumb Scabs:

The poem titles: "November Disguises" and "Fear of a Word like Polyamory, Or"

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Best is yet to Come, 26: 26th Birthday Midwestern Farm Adventure

I have to post this photo of Sandy and me. It was taken by the skilled and talented photographer, Erica Clark. If this speaks to you, please visit her website: It, in essence, sums up my 26th birthday. It also sums up the moment. It also sums up the part of the parenting and partnering journey that Sandy and I are on. It also sums up more. If I could give it a title, it would be "We're in this together." It reminds me of a photo of two elderly lesbians who are celebrating their 50th anniversary. But we're not elderly, and we haven't, technically, been together for fifty years. We have been together, however, for eight years - and that's a long time. About a third of my whole life span, actually.

My 26th birthday was fantastic. I didn't have many expectations, and that was the key to being able to ENJOY. Enjoy, I did. I enjoyed the photo shoot with Erica Clark in the morning. We walked around outside the Malpass Library. When we went to change clothes and enter the building, it was locked (closed until 1PM). Bummer. I didn't think to check hours ahead of time, and I was very much looking forward to taking the girls through the library for the first time (catching that experience through the lens of Erica Clark). We'll have to do that another time - and it may just have to be captured through the lens of Mummy J (two hundred mediocre photos that I will admire and everyone else will be too tired to look through).

Instead of the library and its greeneries and pages, we headed out to the Spring Lake Nature Preserve. That was a neat place to check out, even though it was getting hot - the temperature started reaching the 80s range, so I had to forget about all the cute autumn/winter clothing that I picked out (like the red and white striped leggings with the red jumper) and put on two summer dresses that I threw in the bag right before we headed out the door that morning ("just in case"). It all worked out very well. I remained calm and easy-going, and so did the girls. Elanah even managed to get a quick nap in on the ride over to Spring Lake. Darah's mood improved a bit when she got the heavy clothes off and the lightweight dress on - of course, she still remained her willful self (refusing to stand by us for most of the shoot). Erica is really great at capturing the moment and the personalities of the individuals. And that's important. We're a family AND we're each individuals. She captures both elements so well.

After the photo shoot, Sandy drove me around town while we decided what to do next. As we were driving around trying to decide, I noticed that my thumb felt numb and was swollen. We looked for a bite mark, but couldn't find one easily (although we did note a red area near the knuckle). I must have either been bitten by some creature at the Nature Preserve OR had an allergic reaction. I did recall that the palms of my hands were itching earlier (and I was sneezing). The swelling lasted about 40 hours (and the numbness turned to itching and went away). But, despite a big thumb, we ended up driving to Donnellson, Iowa to visit Kathy's Pumpkin Patch. The place was great. They may not have had all of the things I miss about Pumpkinville (one of my favorite places, period...located near Ellicottville, NY...where you can get pumpkin ice cream and pumpkin donuts and so, so, so much more), but they had other things. The main attraction for me (and the whole family) was the corn pool. They had a pool filled with large corn kernels and a big, wooden box filled with corn kernels. It was amazing. Genius idea. I don't know why there aren't more corn boxes around. Forget sand boxes (too messy).

The future is in corn boxes! Darah had a blast. She enjoyed sending rubber duckies down a water shoot using an old fashioned pump. She also enjoyed the play houses, until two older girls tried to play in the same house as she was playing in. She basically said, "No, no. Don't pway wis dose." She took every piece of fake food that they picked up out of their hands and scolded them. They were probably at least five years older than her but I don't think they knew she was only two and a half. Darah has no problem sharing, if she is in the mood. She also has no problem being bossy and ruling the roost. She rips plastic pears out of the hands of eight year olds and then scolds them, saying, "No, dats not fair. Dats mean." We're still working on her sense of fairness. It's rather strong, but it's evolving.

The drive there and back was somewhat scenic. Our GPS basically told us to drive off the side of a bridge, twice (we're pretty sure she wants us dead). When we got home, Sandy and Darah baked a cake for me while I took a bath in the jacuzzi tub (Elanah played in the crib...and by play, I mean stood at the side looking for me). Sandy made clam sauce for me (yummy, one of my favorite meals). Darah and Sandy sang happy birthday to me, and then we all ate buttery yellow cake with chocolate butter cream frosting and orange sprinkles). Sandy also cleaned the whole kitchen afterward (as she often does). It was a wonderful day with so many precious moments, and the best part was that Sandy didn't work at all. She didn't even show any signs of stress in regard to not working, as far as I noticed. Lovely.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

In Regard to Being (a mother) and Being (a child): An Enneagram Excerpt

I found this excerpt from Sandra Maitri's The Spiritual Dimension of the Enneagram to be extremely poignant. Pages 27-29.

I feel that these ideas, if or even if not adopted, could, potentially, transform parenting and the way in which we exist. I read this and cried, because I could understand so much about Being and Life through such a short paragraph. I don't expect to wake up tomorrow and do things differently, but perhaps I will FEEL differently about the things I do. I have struggled with daily stress (in relation or not in relation to my life with the kids...and I do realize everytime I refer to myself and MY life I'm stuck in my ego). I have struggled - perhaps because of Ego, perhaps because of hormones and chemicals in my body, perhaps because of the ebb and flow, perhaps because of lots of noise and stress. But as I read this, I think of how I label my kids based on things that have nothing to do with their Beings and Beingness. I label them based on my ego and my constructions and my narratives. And by labeling them and their behaviors, I am forming the confining egos that they may live with the rest of their lives.

Elanah's reaction to the loss of holding has always been very strong. It is not her essence that has been reacting. I wish she never has to react to the loss of holding. I want to help her. I cannot even articulate what I wish to say...however I feel things inside that, I hope, will come through in my actions. She and I are the same - we are Being and Beingness. Maybe, together, we can let go of the ego. Maybe not. But I want to do whatever I can to be at one with her (and Darah) in Beingness. That darn ego makes it hard every day, though. I'll go get into bed and get caught up in my ego and my narrative. She'll start fussing shortly thereafter because she is not being held. I'll jump out of bed, surely wishing she could be content in the loss of holding, and bring her into bed with us for milk and holding. She'll return to the holding and the state of Being. I'll fall back into sleep. She'll fall back into sleep. We'll sleep. We'll be united in Beingness. I regret the times in the past when I have said (and the times in the future when I will say): "Oh Elanah, you're so difficult. Elanah, my God, you are one fussy little girl. Elanah is one tough baby, isn't she Darah?" Is there a struggle? Is there not a struggle? Is there a there? Is there an is? I just am. Or I just am not. Ah. Beingness.

(The excerpt below:)

"This cycle of reaction and relaxation repeats again and again, depending upon the environment. If there is abuse or other forms of severe impingement, the reactivity will become more or less constant. Even in the absence of extreme trauma, the environment registers as more or less inconsistently supportive for all normal neurotics, and we therefore grow up more or less disconnected from our essential nature. Almaas describes below how the loss of continuous attunement and responsiveness—holding, in psychological terminology2 —leads to distrust in the environment, which in turn leads to the reactivity at the core of ego development:

By having to react to the loss of holding, the child is no longer simply being, and the spontaneous and natural unfoldment of the soul has been disrupted. If this reactivity becomes predominant, the child’s development will be based on that reactivity rather than on the continuity of Beingness. If her development is based on reactivity to an unsafe environment, the child will develop in disconnection from Being and therefore, her ego will be what becomes most developed. If her development unfolds out of the continuity of Being, the child's consciousness will remain centered in her essential nature and her development will be the maturation and expression of that nature.

The less holding there is in the environment, the more the child's development will be based on this reactivity, which is essentially an attempt to deal with an undependable environment. The child will develop mechanisms to deal with an environment that is not trustworthy, and these mechanisms form the basis of the developing sense of self, or ego. This development of the child's consciousness is then founded on distrust, and so distrust is part of the basis of ego development. The child's consciousness—her soul—internalizes the environment it is growing up in and then projects that environment onto the world.

Implicit, then, in the ego is a fundamental distrust of reality. The failure of the holding environment leads to the absence of basic trust, which then becomes disconnection from Being, which leads to reactivity, which is ego activity.

The disconnection from our original undifferentiated state creates a division or duality between ourselves and Essence, which, along with identifying ourselves with our body, gives rise to the belief in our inherent separateness. This is the genesis of the illusion of duality, the spiritual issue par excellence in which we experience ourselves and Being as two distinct things.
The third factor contributing to losing contact with Being is parental lack of attunement to our depths. The fact that we were raised by parents who themselves believed that they were ultimately discrete entities (unless we were born to totally enlightened parents) profoundly shapes our consciousness. Because of their own lack of attunement to their essential nature, our parents could not perceive, value, or mirror back to us our true depths. Since our consciousness during the first few months of life is merged with that of our mother, what she experiences of us becomes what we experience of ourselves. As Margaret Mahler has said, “Mutual cueing during the symbiotic phase creates that indelibly imprinted configuration—that complex pattern—that becomes the leitmotif for ‘the infant’s becoming the child of his particular mother,’” 4 meaning that we become what our mother perceives us to be. Not only are society and culture passed on to us by our parents, but also the entire worldview that they rest upon is imparted to us. This worldview that we absorb with our mother’s milk is that of the personality, in which the physical is experienced as the only dimension of reality that is real. Because the deeper dimension of reality—that of our essential nature—is not held and mirrored back to us, we gradually begin to lose contact with it ourselves."

To See the work of D. W. Winnicott and Almaas’ Facets of Unity: The Enneagram of Holy Ideas (Berkeley: Diamond Books, 1999) for more detailed information on the concept of the holding environment.
3Ibid., p. 43-44.