The ManGuide

Working away on The ManGuide, refrigerator magnets, and “her rhythm” card for his wallet, and of course, finishing the book!

A very good place to start

It’s important to know why you do the things you do so that you don’t end up in a place you don’t want to be.
Understanding your natural female rhythm is a very good (and crucial) place to start.

Men, Dads, and the Steady Burn

Since, in my opinion, men carry the rhythm of the sun, and women, the moon, I find it FANTASTIC that Father’s Day falls on the longest sunlight day of the year?!

Think of it this way: Before artificial lighting, women used to ovulate at full moon. When full, we see the moon as receptive to the full light of the sun. Women, when ovulating and shining most brightly, are most receptive to the full light of their man. I think of men as having a steady burn that wanes in and out possibly every 3 months like the … Read Moreequinox and solstices. Women wane in and out like the moon, monthly. It might not be the steady burn, but when they DO peak and shine, like the full moon, it is powerful and intoxicating to everybody.

Moods

Moods, such as anger or sadness are highlighted or diminished by hormones, but hormones are not the cause of the moods. When a woman is angry, it’s probably because she’s actually angry , not hormonal.

My Guest Blog on Gloria Feldt’s Site!

I’m incredibly honored to be the guest blogger on leading women’s activist and best selling author, Gloria Feldt’s site!

http://bitly.com/PlSNP

People Magazine called this former teen mom who became the CEO and movement leader of the world’s largest reproductive and sexual health care provider and advocacy organization "the voice of experience". Gloria exemplifies courageous leadership, with 30 years on the frontlines of challenge and change. She brought phenomenal growth to the Planned Parenthood affiliates she led in West Texas and Arizona. Then during arguably the movement’s most challenging time since Margaret Sanger’s uphill battles, she revitalized the national movement, serving as president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America .

http://www.gloriafeldt.com/powered-women-blog/2009/5/12/what-are-the-rythms-of-a-womans-life.html

Thank you, Gloria!

This Ain’t Your Mama’s PTA

Happy Mother’s Day! OK, so I’m a day late, so let’s go with week…

It was 20 years ago that I received my very first newsletter as a parent of a first grader, announcing the very first PTO meeting of the new school year. Believe it or not, I was ready; I was excited.

Being new at all this, my only reference was my own childhood experience. I remember going with my mother once to a PTA meeting and finding the whole event quite fascinating and marvelous. The auditorium was absolutely packed with women catching up on the “latest” from each other before finding a seat. My mom seemed a little overwhelmed at first, but she had that Jackie Kennedy thing going on, which was a good strategy I decided because all she had to do was smile and act interested.  One very commanding woman welcomed everyone to the meeting and proceeded with some enthusiasm about this and that. I spent my time checking out all the beautiful hats and hosiery, while catching wafts of lovely fragrances. I concluded that these meetings were actually informational parties, including cookies and coffee.

So here I was, in 1989 getting ready to go to my child’s PTA meeting (party). I actually thought it was required (just like my kid had to go to school, I had to go to the parent meeting). I dashed home from work, freshened up my look, and crammed down the rest of my child’s cheese sandwich from his He-Man lunchbox. Dressed for success and curling-ironed hair, I went off proudly to the big person’s meeting (party), ready to schmooze with every other parent there, including fathers, because surely times have changed (although come to think of it, my husband wasn’t going).

Noticing very few cars in the parking lot, I headed toward the gym, scanning my brain and checking my watch to figure out whether I had the wrong date and time. A janitor pointed me toward the teacher’s lounge in the back, and as I opened the door I felt the word “sucker” smack me in the head.  The handful of casually dressed women looked quite pleased to have one more victim, er, I mean, volunteer.  So there I was with the deer-in-the-headlight look – frozen; stuck; a prisoner of the PTO. Freaked out about the potential to be asked to head up a gigantic fundraiser, I bailed. I felt the best I could do that year was to work in my child’s classroom cutting out construction paper valentines every other Thursday.

Times have changed – more parents are working and schedules are hectic, but the parent participation seems better than ever. And yes, tons of MEN are helping too. The PTO or PTA deals with school-wide activities and as a parent, you’re automatically “in” whether you go to the meetings or not. So if you haven’t figured out how to participate yet, don’t be afraid – find your niche, on your own terms.

Read your child’s school newsletter, or talk to the teacher. Don’t feel obligated to take on something big. The smallest bit of help is more fun than you think and makes your child feel proud. That much hasn’t changed in 40 years.

Bristol Palin: I Feel For Her

Honestly, I feel sorry for Bristol Palin. Somebody please mother this young woman!

It’s bad enough that your parent takes on a vice-presidential campaign, at all, knowing you will be thrown into the limelight when you’re an unmarried pregnant teen. It’s abusive when this parent has been an advocate for abstinence-only education.

What kind of parent is OK with potentially making her daughter a laughing-stock? The butt of worldwide jokes?

I’ll tell you who: one that is self-centered-bordering-narcissistic, that’s who. I’ve had it with all of this holier-than-thou-family-values display from people who don’t seem to know the first thing about respect, love, care, and consideration for their kids or their self-esteem and futures.

Just because you have kids, doesn’t mean you’re kind, thoughtful, or have a good mothering instinct.  First Sarah Palin puts her "about-to-be-delivered" baby and herself in danger by flying from Alaska to Texas and back to make a speech after her water had broken. "I wasn’t going to miss that speech!" Then the next thing you know, she’s subjecting her pregnant teen, Bristol, to having her pregnant body scrutinized and photographed by the press.

I’m sorry. I’m a mom. You don’t do these things.

If I had been offered the Vice-Presidential candidacy under the same circumstances, would I have taken it?  Never say never, but whether I was a man or woman, no, I would not have. If my political future looked good enough to be asked, I would know that my political future would only get better, and gracefully decline the appointment at this time. Sometimes you have to make the tough decisions. Sometimes you have to do the right thing.

Your kids have to sacrifice like any family member for career moves. But you don’t sacrifice your kids. You don’t exploit or embarrass them for your own gain.

Now maybe Bristol is a big girl by now and can make her own decisions, but  she doesn’t seem to be. After all she’s been through, Bristol is towing the family "no sex-education" line. Being the poster girl for abstinence seems yet another bizarre step toward her place in the world and her family’s strange decisions and legacy. I believe in this girl though just as I believe in any young person. It’s time for Bristol to grow up and get real about her knowledge and experiences before its too late. She’s getting dangerously close to becoming as unaware and self-serving as her mother.

I look forward to a day when she has busted loose, recognizing she is someone with power who can "do good"; willing to council young men and women with truth and heart, standing on her own two feet.

~~*~~

Here’s a terrific piece by Gail Collins, NY Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/07/opinion/07collins.html

You, In Charge

Wouldn’t it be great if we could just get up in the morning feeling great after a perfectly sound night’s sleep, and have that last all day long until we went to bed, each and everyday, throughout our entire lives?

Having perfect health from the day you’re born until the day you die is not likely. However, you can greatly improve the way you feel by doing something that not many of us are taught to do: truly get to know yourself.

Depending on the country, the culture, the religion, and the time period you were raised in, most of us were taught a self-care protocol that most likely programmed us to consciously or unconsciously understand that we are not in charge of much. The people in charge of looking after us have/had very good intentions when making decisions for us and generally take/took their jobs very seriously regarding our best interest. Yet, this care for us, pretty much across the board, is based on learned knowledge either from an educational institution or passed down from generation to generation. Intuition or personal observation is generally disregarded and seen as arrogant, ignorant, and/or immature. So we’re taught that until we have the proper credentials, the doctor knows best, your parents know best, the food, exercise, and psychological authorities of the day know best, the hairdresser knows best, celebrities know best, the clergy knows best because God knows best. Basically, any unique thoughts or personal studies of your own about your health and well-being are based on nothing, because you are no authority. You are not in control, Missy.

Unfortunately, over time, the resulting tragedy of this thinking is that most of us become out-of-control and out-of-touch with our own bodies and our own ways of perceiving the world. Because we have been taught that we are not responsible for what happens to us, we have not been taught how to take charge when needed and take stake in our own futures. When we don’t know how, or it doesn’t come naturally, we dread having to adjust our food, exercise or attitudes. It becomes a major chore and often, we just skip the chore, rationalizing that it won’t do any good anyway, and look for a little pill to cure us. We look for somebody else to fix us. We learn to blame our poor health or personalities on our aging, genetics, job, families, weather, or destiny.

Not that these factors don’t contribute to your poor health.

They are challenges that you must find a solution to, not chalk up to being out of your control. There is not much that is out of your control. You must learn to identify and adjust or problem-solve. It’s time to reclaim your power over yourself. Most religions believe that even God helps those who help themselves. I personally believe that destiny can only be blamed after you’ve considered and done everything you possibly can to treat your body and mind and spirit really well.

Only when you decide to take charge over your body and your life, to constantly observe your actions and behaviors, can transformation for the better actually occur. Only then can the above-mentioned authorities (the doctor, exercise gurus, the clergy) be of any real help to you, and only then can you be of any real help to them. Your consultations with them will produce greater results because your questions will actually have meaning and your conversations will be deeper.

If the personal and professional mentors in your life find this new-found self-interest offensive, it’s time to find some new ones. There are definitely people or programs out there that will support you in your quest for health and happiness. Keep your mind open to new thoughts and studies that could be of benefit to you. Learn what you can; read and listen, but remember, you are the final decision maker regarding you . You are the only one putting food in your mouth, exercising your body, getting to bed at a certain time, and monitoring the thoughts in your head. No one is babysitting you and no one else who is going to do this for you. You’re a big girl now and it’s up to you.

The Girl and the Garden

When I came home the other day, I was greeted at my front door by a collection of small, brown, curled up crunchy things.

My small portico creates a recessed entryway, which actually just translates to “leaf catcher”. An unusual wind showed up the other day: suuuuper blustery. All the leaves and debris in my neighborhood, probably even the entire city, ended up on my front porch, blanketing my front door mat.

Making my way through the front door, I immediately hear, “Mama, I’m hungry!”

Raising my daughter is a lot like growing my front yard. Even though I live with them both, birthed them both, and even though I’ve cultivated them both, I’m never sure what to expect. Right when I think the heavy cloud of gray gloom is never going to go away, a bright, perfectly red tulip appears suddenly in the most unlikely of places; “Mama, come watch a movie with me”. A glimpse of purple breaks through the crusty mortared crevices of my low, rock wall. “Mama, come and listen to this song I just downloaded”.

My daughter is 14, which as you know, means never knowing whether I’m “in” or “out”. Today. Lately, I’m in. I know this, because even during the stark, frozen days of winter, the herbaceous aroma of my yellow-striped sage and dulled Rosemary plant – the structure, the foundation, the bones of my garden, can be summoned and relied upon. All one has to do is pluck a leaf and caress it, massage it a little, for its essence to come alive. The same for my daughter: when she has a bead attitude and distances herself, I give her space, and lots of it. Then, I pluck a leaf (I make marshmallow treats out of the blue, show her a really funny YouTube video, or walk into her room with a ridiculous outfit on) to bring out her naturally bright and cheerful disposition, which to my delight, will then linger for hours.

My daughter and my garden require the same maintenance tools:

Gardening gloves – in the garden, these are handy for protecting my hands from getting torn up or dirt under my fingernails. With my daughter, they are invaluable for extracting unrecognizable items from her lunch bag, as well as protecting me from any thorns she might get tossed in my direction when I least suspect it.

Hedge clippers – I have LOTS of crammed in bushy plants in my big front planter which takes up my entire yard. I never really can quite keep up with shearing the masses. My daughter has about 4 times the amount of curl and frizz that I have. She’s a skinny girl with big hair. She used to look like some white mini-version of Diana Ross. It is no small feat to trim her hair so I get out the loppers.

Leaf blower – In about 60 seconds, I can take my cobbled front porch from looking like trailer-trash Hicksville to a pleasurable, well-groomed newspaper-reading haven surrounded by trailing lemon chiffon roses, golden California poppies, and goldenrod daylilies; a place where even my cats will sun-worship all day long.

I’m not sure I have the same outcome when it comes to my daughter’s stuff, but she knows that if SHE doesn’t clean it up, I’m going after it with the big gun.

My daughter’s name is Myan, (sounds like Ryan), and it means, “Water from the spring”. She was home all of last week with the flu. As much as I hated seeing her sick, I can’t help but feel the much-yearned-for-comfort-of being, not only needed, but wanted, when I heard her cry out: “Mama, come lay down in bed with me”.

What a sweet, refreshing message, just like the dewy mist on the ferns in my window boxes.

Dark and Stormy Night

Twenty-six years ago today, I held a brand new baby in my arms.

It was a dark and stormy night as they say. Really stormy. I was a week late and this was my first baby. I was beyond tired and surrendered to the fact that this kid was never going to come out.

Because of this, I decided I didn’t need to stay close to home and declared we should just go on with our lives. We went to a barbeque/party that afternoon and I ate chicken. I can’t tell you why that sticks in my head, but it does. By the time we got home I was exhausted, and headed for bed early, when all of a sudden, at about 9:30, they came hard and fairly rapidly. Contractions. Please God, (I remember thinking). Not now! I’m so tired. Please just let me sleep first! All I wanted to do was sleep and then we could get to the task at hand.

But Noooo.

My midwives lived down the coast. After talking to my husband, David, on the phone, the one who lived closest, Robin, ascertained our timing was fine. She would put her own kids to bed, make arrangements for their morning care, get a couple of business things in order (she owned a café just down the steps from Nepenthe) and get to our place in about an hour. The one who lived the furthest, Peggy, lived way the heck down in Gorda and was a massage therapist at Esalen. She had been in a horrific car accident EXACTLY one year ago (and had a ginormous scar across her belly to prove it) so she was nervous about driving the coast in a storm. As I recall, her plan was to pick up my husband’s aunt on the way, who actually lived at Esalen (and also a massage therapist there). Char would be in charge of rubbing my feet and back. After talking to Robyn on the phone, they would arrive in about 3 hours.

They all made it and Peggy was feeling exceptionally triumphant for overcoming her paranoia of driving the coast at night in bad weather.

All of them were mothers and each had been through childbirth and homebirth more than once. They had a well-established background in baby delivery, even though midwifery was illegal in California in 1983. Luckily, there were a few great docs in that county who respected their work and agreed to be the back-up doctors should we need to meet at the hospital.

I knew we wouldn’t need to. Home is where the heart is and my comfort zone.

Ian was born at 4:42 am in a single-wide trailer (very cute) overlooking the ocean on 55 acres in Big Sur. Our only source of heat was from the fire going in our quaint wood stove. It was me, David, Peggy, Robyn, Char, and our dog, Brandy (an all black 1/2 springer spaniel and 1/2 golden retriever, all crammed into that little tiny space.

The next day (or maybe it was 2 days later) was one of the worst landslides in Big Sur history, closing Hwy 1 to the north and to the south of us. We were an island on a mountain top overlooking the ocean with a newborn baby as its little prince.

Today is Ian’s Golden Birthday: 26 on the 26th.

And even though it tore up my body parts and changed them for evermore, it was the most powerful thing I had ever done or would ever do to date, including the births of the next two. The unknown adventure of my first birth was a ride as dark, stormy, and exhilarating as the weather he road in on.

What’s your special birthing story?