Despite my last “unravel” post, and the fact that things are still unraveling, I have been feeling very lovey, very *in the now*, and fairly optimistic about my future. And, despite the upheaval, Valentine’s Day was a delight. It involved a gorgeous bouquet of flowers, a pretty card, covered in a long love poem, followed by bacon, then skiing, and mermaid hair, red lips, and a no holds barred, oyster shooter and all, sushi dinner. So yeah, a pretty good day, all in all.
I’ve had the fortune of falling in love with a man who is a wanderer. He dreams of far away places and languages and new ways of living and looking at the world. My own wandering spirit is drawn to daydreams of places, and so I do not fault him for that. In fact, I love him for it. We frequently talk about the human experiences that one must have while on this earth–travel is one of them. However, this dynamic means that we are together, apart, together, apart, and together again. A less romantic view, may interpret this as two very frightened people, who are pushing each other away as hard as we possibly can.
It’s the kind of relationship built on heady reunions, longing, and then space and silence to write, and look very closely at my surroundings, followed by more longing, and more heady reunions. This has been going on for seven years and counting. I doubt this is the end. In between the longing and reuniting, I sometimes date, and probably will again, and maybe even fall in love, and have some entirely new experience. I think that’s the point.
Recently, it has become clear to us than an unraveling is imminent. I have my doubts about what that means and what we’re doing. For sure we’re just two idiots fumbling in the dark, twisted in the sheets, and searching for a light switch. What is less clear is whether or not two people can ever really be anything besides that. The key is to enjoy the searching and the fumbling, which I do, especially when it is with him, who is so beautiful that it hurts. I am in love, and I am heartbroken to be sure.
Since I began the doula certification process through DONA International, I have had to read myriad required books on labor and the work of being a labor companion. My favorite book by far has been Ina May Gaskin’s Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. I pretty much love everything she does, but that book was has been the best so far.
As I’ve completed the required reading for the doula certification, I’ve been able to branch out and read some related works that are not on the list. While I’ve browsed through a few other titles, Birth, Breath, and Death: Meditations on Motherhood, Chaplaincy, and Life as a Doula by Amy Wright Glenn has been the standout. It’s a really interesting book that (perhaps controversially) makes the connection between doula work and chaplaincy.
Let me get my criticisms out of the way first (because that’s always the worst part). Organization. This book has an organization problem. It appears to be a mash up of personal reflection (that is wonderful!) and what reads like long excerpts from a recycled academic paper on spirituality, love, philosophy (which is fine, but less wonderful). I sometimes found myself wanting her to get back to her stories, lovely insights, and self-reflection.
Glenn’s experience and her perspective is absolutely rich. It felt like an indulgence, and I wanted more. Since I began this work, I have often thought of the close connection between doula work and chaplaincy—although I haven’t thought chaplaincy was the right word—it makes me think of religion. Like yoga, doula work is more than spirituality. It also deals with the emotional and very much the physical. In fact, I imagine that chaplaincy work would do well to take a lead from the female-centric way that doulas have of guiding new life on to Earth (no big deal).
At a recent doula gathering, a new friend, still very emotional, shared that her father had recently passed away. As doulas, we discussed the way that doulas might facilitate a more peaceful, less medicalized passing, just like we are often asking questions and making plans in advance to help facilitating a more peaceful, empowered, and oftentimes a less medicalized birth.
It appears that Glenn has made that connection between birth and death in her own life’s work. A highlight of her book is her birth story. It’s one of the best I’ve ever read (though I have read [and witnessed!] many beautiful birth stories). Like all births, Glenn’s labor is unpredictable, and she is skilled at reflecting and sharing insights from the experience. More generally, I loved her insights on motherhood. I wanted to know even more about her thoughts on her own mother. I loved reading about the way she loves her son and the hesitations she had at becoming a mother in the first place.
If you find deep complexity in doula work, motherhood, childhood, life, and death, you’ll like this book. You might have to forgive it for lacking some of the polish (and organization) of other books, but if you’re like me, that forgiveness will be easy for the insight she offers.
Ok, it’s official. I’ve sent the text messages and the emails to confirm that I will not be getting a retired racing greyhound. Once again, I had an allergic reaction to the dog, and dealing with a new allergy is just not something I’m willing to take on at this time. I’m sad to reach this decision because I really love the breed, but I am allergic to these dogs–which I hope I can remember in a few weeks when I really want to get one again!–so they are not an option for me.
I’ll probably still get a dog, but not right now. I did a lot of research on the retired racing greyhound, and I’m sad that I won’t be able to get one. The only drawback was that they can’t be off leash. That puts a damper on camping and hiking. I loved everything else about the breed, though. I love the way they look. I love their history. I love their peaceful demeanor. I love the personality traits typical of the breed.
Now I have to start my research process all over again. I am hoping that if I stay open to the possibility, the right dog/breed of dog will find me. So, I’m doing more research. I don’t really want a puppy. I’ll probably end up with a smaller dog and one that is more traditionally hypoallergenic like some sort of terrier/poodle/shih tzu mix. Small enough that there isn’t a lot of dog to have an allergic reaction to in the first place, but big enough that it won’t get swooped up by a hawk. Knowing me, my need to research everything, and my schedule, it might not happen for awhile. In the meantime, the search continues.