Everything You’ve Been Told About How Your Body Works? Is WRONG.

Read and understand operator's manual

Last week my friend posted this on Facebook. Is she talking about ME? I wondered.

Yes! It’s me! I’m the friend! And she’s right that it’s a fascinating read (you’re welcome) but.

I have some thoughts:
1. These tracking methods are only fascinating because we’ve never heard of fertility tracking before.
2. Wait, what do you mean we’ve never heard of it before? I think I know how my body works.
3. No. You don’t. And it’s CRAZY when you actually find out. How do we not know how our own bodies work?
4. Women. I’m talking about women, here, because we have some crazy complicatedmiraculous bodies that people still–in 2017!!–don’t really understand.
5. Mostly it’s because of the patriarchy and hundreds and thousands of years of our reproductive organs being associated with uncleanliness, impurity, and and sweet sweet danger.
6. I want to teach everyone about the fertility awareness method. I want every single woman on the planet to know about it. I want it to be so known, that “fertility awareness method” becomes obsolete because now it’s just “biology”.
Starting right here with this blog. Don’t let the “fertility” part throw you. If you’re a woman, you want in on this action.
Action items:
1. Order yourself a copy of Taking Charge of Your Fertility*. It’s awesome. And I know “fertility” is in the title, but think of it just as like the Woman Operation Manual because if you have female reproductive organs, this book is for you.
2. Get a period tracker. I use Kindara and have for years so I’m a fan, but, admittedly, I’ve never used anything else.
2a. But do other trackers come with thermometers? Because if you’re going to track, you want a wink. You really do. It’s the best.
3. Tell you friends! And your enemies! And your Twitter list! Just freaking let everyone know that everything you’ve been taught your whole life is wrong and that the world is backwards and upside down and you’ve found the way forward and rightsideup. Because seriously, that’s how it’s going to feel. That and some anger.
BONUS: I just found this podcast called Fertility Friday. It is really good because it covers all kinds of topics related to women’s health and reproduction and fertility and PCOS. I mean, just look at the episode list.
*Amazon is the cheapest and quickest way to get your copy, but I’m giving you the option of supporting an independent bookseller, which I’m working to do more of.

8 Years Later

I wrote an impassioned post on October 11, 2008 called Why I’m Voting For Barack Obama and published it on Facebook, as we did in those days.  I was re-reading it today, on the eve of the end of his presidency (*cry emoji*) and am excerpting it below. The original post talks more about McCain, Palin, and the ugliness of that election. This speaks to my hopes, the things I wanted from an Obama presidency and which I now, 8 years later, think I got.

My favorite part of that DNC speech all those years ago, the one that made an Obama supporter out of me, is this:

it’s not enough for just some of us to prosper — for alongside our famous individualism, there’s another ingredient in the American saga,  a belief that we’re all connected as one people. If there is a child on the south side of Chicago who can’t read, that matters to me, even if it’s not my child. If there is a senior citizen somewhere who can’t pay for their prescription drugs, and having to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it’s not my grandparent. If there’s an Arab American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties.

It is that fundamental belief — It is that fundamental belief: I am my brother’s keeper. I am my sister’s keeper that makes this country work. It’s what allows us to pursue our individual dreams and yet still come together as one American family.

E pluribus unum: “Out of many, one.”

We’re so far from that. On the eve of a Trump administration (! can it really be?), I feel like we have never been further.

So I’m taking  a moment to be so thankful for the past 8 years, for the leadership of Barack and Michelle. We’re not more unified right now. We seem to be more like one big estranged family.

But I got hope. Not blind optimism and willful ignorance, but hope that the folks like me will come together yet, that we’ll reach out to our hurt, angry relatives (and they to us) and we’ll be stronger for it.

First, though, it’s going to get really ugly.

So I’m taking a moment.

—————————

I have been an Obama supporter since the beginning. Shortly after he entered the race in the spring of 2007, I stumbled across his address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Listening to it sent through me a surge of pride for America I hadn’t felt in a very long time.

I’m quite certain we all grew up believing everyone outside of America wanted to be in America. Everyone sees America as a land of opportunity and wanted to come here and live out the American dream. America is a land of freedom and equality and opportunity. Our constitution is the best, our military the most honorable and our people the most successful. This message has been repeated so many times in our lifetimes that most of us accept it without question. I did.

For two and a half years, though, I had been surrounded by people down on America, overwhelmingly because of President Bush and the Iraq War. They felt the hurt of family members in the US who had been discriminated against in the aftermath of September 11th. I met several Arab students who were forced to return because the government cancelled their visas. I met Iraqis frightened for their family members still in Baghdad. Iraqis who had to flee their homes, leave their jobs, their own country because circumstances in Iraq had gotten too dangerous and miserable to continue living there. But it wasn’t just Arabs who were upset. In 12th grade, my first year in the United Arab Emirates, I was grilled by many of classmates who wanted to know whether I supported Bush, whether I supported the war, and why so many Americans did. It puzzled me that they even cared. What does South Africa, Australia, Europe care what America does? No, I don’t support Bush (though I don’t really care all that much), or the war in Iraq and I neither know nor care why so many do. America rocks! The end.

I started college at the American University of Sharjah and began seeing America in a more complex dimension. America, the greatest nation *ever*, had hurt people. Lots of people, and very deeply. I traveled to nearly a dozen countries in the three years I lived in the UAE and in each place it was the same. They were excited to learn I was from America because they had a son, cousin, uncle or sister there and, oh, it is so beautiful. But isn’t it violent? (Thanks a ton, Hollywood!) I could never go there because I have a beard—or I cover my hair or my name is Khaled—and they’ll think I’m a terrorist. Many Europeans I talked to had great things to say about America and its people—they had actually been here—but, for one reason or another, were resentful for President Bush and his policies.

In June of 2006, I spent a week in Lebanon. Just days after getting back, Hizballah kidnapped an Israeli soldier, Israel retaliated and the rest of the summer was engulfed in war. Anti-Americanism in the Arab world spiked. Lebanese children were being killed, the airport and the road to Damascus (a main route out of the country) was bombed and the US—Israel’s closest ally—wouldn’t even call for a ceasefire. What happened to everyone being created equal?

I spent the summer in the US studying Arabic (no kidding) and on my return to the Middle East, I had to confront a whole new level of bitterness. People across the Middle East were openly and increasingly supporting Hizballah. One Lebanese friend got hit in the leg by some shrapnel. Another hadn’t gotten to see his family because the airport was bombed a few days before he was to land. Many more Lebanese and non-Lebanese expressed to me their resentment of America’s inaction.

I knew this was my last year in the country and thus my last chance to help my peers see the America I knew, an essentially benevolent nation full of friendly and hospitable, moral, nonviolent citizens.

I know it looks bad, what with the wars, the President’s incompetence and the outright belligerence of his administration. Okay, it looks really bad. But America really isn’t all that bad. Honest! Remember Abraham Lincoln? Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement? Remember Jimmy Carter? The Statue of Liberty?

But my peers hadn’t grown up on School House Rock and so they didn’t know that America was a melting pot. They didn’t know the progress we’ve made since its founding. They didn’t know that when a bunch of Americans come together and rally for a cause, change happens. They weren’t aware of all the criticism that had lobbied against the Bush administration. Most knew America through its entertainment and saw little more than moral decadence and violence. Most had experienced the negative effects of its foreign policy. Few knew of its warmth, beauty and diversity.

It was in the midst of this identity crisis, this reconciling of the two Americas I had come to know, that I came across this speech. He described my America. The one I grew up with, the one I was trying to keep faith in. His message, that America is not just a great nation, but a good nation, too, is the one I wanted to pass on to my peers. I wanted them to know that maybe America has been overshadowed by divisiveness and greed, but that our founding principles are still in tact. There are people in America who think that the nation could do a lot better and are willing to make it so, for us and for the rest of the world.

Most people know I’m excited about this election. My roommates know I can hardly refrain from talking about it. To my parents, I don’t shut up about it. The reason, above all, that I am so zealous in my support is that I have hope for America. I have hope that we can make our similarities more important than our differences. I have hope that we can be a force for good–not resentment and fear–in the world. I want to be led by a person who has proven himself above ordinary politics, smear tactics and who truly embodies change. I have hope that together, we will begin the next great chapter in the American story with three words that will ring from coast to coast; from sea to shining sea —

Yes. We. Can.

Church | With Geese and Mary

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Wild Geese
By Mary Oliver

Some days, this is my mantra: You do not have to be good. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.

Sometimes I say “want it wants” instead.

Either way, it brings tremendous peace.

Hump day! Podcast Recommendation

But I think a calling in this – kind of as we move into this part of the 21st century for some of us is to be calmers of fear, to help create spaces where some of that raw pain and fear can actually show itself instead of acting like anger and instead of being attracted to voices and energies that can turn it toxic, that can make it dangerous.

I started listening to Krista Tippett’s new podcast (!) Becoming Wise yesterday. I highly recommend it. It’s deep, but quick. A great little bite to start your day with. Here’s a little interview about her book of the same name, which will give you a good taste of the podcast.

Art | Desperate to be done.

I took this screenshot to send to my husband–who adores Adele, but opposes the very existence of pop music. Adele praising Beyonce's Lemonade on Instagram

Amen, Adele.

 

The other day, facebook brought me this memory:

To whomever finds this note

Days before graduation, it really does feel that desperate.

ETA 1/5/17: Also, college Anna was so funny.

Monday Wisdom: One day you are going to find yourself again.

First, a poem:

Everyone who terrifies you is sixty-five percent water.
And everyone you love is made of stardust, and I know sometimes
you cannot even breathe deeply, and
the night sky is no home, and
you have cried yourself to sleep enough times
that you are down to your last two percent, but

nothing is infinite,
not even loss.

You are made of the sea and the stars, and one day
you are going to find yourself again.

Finn Butler
Here’s the link to the poem. It’s from three years ago, and when I went to investigate, I found that she’s published her first collection of poetry and it’s available here! Congrats, Finn!

This Monday, start your week with some wisdom, introspection, and inspiration. I go back to this talk over and over again because it is so good.

It looks like I was a talk show host. It looks like I’m in the movies. It looks like I have a network. But my real contribution, the real reason why I’m here is to connect people to themselves and the higher ideas of consciousness. I’m here to raise consciousness.

What are you here for?

Hell, what am I here for?

myriad petty little unsexy ways | Church with David Foster Wallace

Everything in my own immediate experience supports my deep belief that I am the absolute center of the universe, the realest, most vivid and important person in existence. We rarely talk about this sort of natural, basic self centeredness, because it’s so socially repulsive, but it’s pretty much the same for all of us, deep down. It is our default-setting, hard-wired into our boards at birth.

Think about it: There is no experience you’ve had that you were not at the absolute center of. The world as you experience it is right there in front of you, or behind you, to the left or right of you, on your TV, or your monitor, or whatever. Other people’s thoughts and feelings have to be communicated to you somehow, but your own are so immediate, urgent, real-you get the idea.

This is not a matter of virtue-it’s a matter of my choosing to do the work of somehow altering or getting free of my natural, hard-wired default-setting, which is to be deeply and literally self-centered, and to see and interpret everything through this lens of self.

But of course there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talked about in the great outside world of winning and achieving and displaying. The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day. That is real freedom.

The alternative is unconsciousness, the default-setting, the “rat race”-the constant gnawing sense of having had and lost some infinite thing.

David Foster Wallace
excerpt from This Is Water

Monday Wisdom: Creativity, Discipline, and John Green

I read an AMA by John Green several months back and it planted a seed of change in how I thought about creativity, and writing in particular.

The redditor asked about what John Green has learned since 2007, when the Green brothers made their debut as the Vlogbrothers. If you don’t know about the project or Vlogbrothers, just keep reading. It’s not essential to his point.

I think the biggest lesson I took away from B[rotherhood]2.0 was about discipline. Just making something for people every other day for a year stretched me a lot and showed me that I had more creative bandwidth than I initially believed.

I’d always imagined discipline and deadlines as the enemies of creativity, but for me at least they made me more creatively productive. That changed the way I approach my work.

This wasn’t shocking news, or even news at all. Write everyday. Writers say that all the time! And many of them do it! And I’ve known this for years!

But somehow this quote was a revelation, probably because I’ve been following the project for a few years now and somehow seeing the product as it’s made (kind of) instead of just once it’s done (like a book) drove the point home in a way nothing else has.

Lots of my favorite people, it turns out, are disciplined about their creativity. The Vlogbrothers, of course, but also Elizabeth Gilbert, Rob Bell, Chris Guillebeau, and does Momastery still keep a daily writing date? There are tons more, I’m certain.

So I’m being more intentional, and uncharacteristically disciplined about my writing. I’ve never been one for routines (ugh) but I am finding myself liberated by them.

It’s rather strange.

Church | The Course of Human History

Sand Dunes
Liwa Oasis, 2005

When Dad was tucking me in that night and we were talking about the book, I asked if he could think of a solution to that problem.
“Which problem?”
“The problem of how relatively insignificant we are.”
He said, “Well, what would happen if a plane dropped you in the middle of the Sahara Desert and you picked up a single grain of sand with tweezers and moved it one millimeter?”
I said, “I’d probable die of dehydration.”
He said, “I just mean right then, when you moved that single grain of sand. What would that mean?”
I said, “I dunno, what?”
He said, “think about it.”
I thought about it. “I guess I would have moved a grain of sand.”
“Which would mean?”
“Which would mean I moved a grain of sand?”
“Which would mean you changed the Sahara.”
“So?”
“So? So the Sahara is a vast desert. And it has existed for million of years. And you changed it!”
“That’s true!” I said, sitting up. “I changed the Sahara!”
“Which means?” he said.
“What? Tell me.”
“Well, I’m not talking about moving that one grain of sand one millimeter.”
“Yeah?”
“If you hadn’t done it, human history would have been one way…”
“Uh-huh?”
“But you did do it, so…?”
I stood on the bed, pointed my fingers at the fake stars, and screamed: “I changed the course of human history!”
“That’s right.”
“I changed the universe!”
“You did.”
“I’m God!’
“You’re an atheist.”
“I don’t exist!” I fell back onto the bed, into his arms, and we cracked up together.


-Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Friday Round-up

Here’s a cool quote I heard this week:

The reason that Fear and Creativity are so innately linked is that Creativity will always ask you to enter into a situation where the outcome is unknown. That’s what Creativity does. And Fear hates that. 

-Elizabeth Gilbert on the podcast No Filter with Mia Freedman (#16 on the list).

Hearing

I’m really liking Sampler. This week’s was scary stories and of course I was disappointed. Scary stories never reach satisfying conclusions. With the exception of Pet Cemetery. Maybe I just need to read more horror stories. Or maybe I don’t.

There are not enough good Friday podcasts. I listen to Dear Sugar, usually on Saturdays–what am I missing?

Watching

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Season 2 tomorrow. So excited for more music, and to see that cow shirt.

This routine is so beautiful I cried. (Word note: I always think of routines as boring. I looked up its etymology and it’s from the word for “route” (which, duh, why didn’t I see that?) and now it doesn’t seem boring but very apt. The routine you establish is your route to success.)

 

Reading

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. But actually I’m listening to it. 4 hours in. 33 hours to go.

Torch by Cheryl Strayed. Barely started this one. Thinking I should have just picked up the book. Oh–because I’m listening to it.

Tonight bought Born For This by Chris Guillebeau and Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, which has been on my list for nearly a year. Would be reading it now if I weren’t writing. (I’m linking to author pages to make placing an Amazon order less convenient. Buy independent!)

The Hamiltome. (Which was bought through Amazon.)

Living

The hus gets backs tonight and I can’t wait. I make terrible choices when he’s gone.

Pondering 2 Kings 4, the miracle with the Widow’s oil. To me it’s the story of sorrow and fear, and letting your friends carry you through it. And economic independence and self-reliance and awe an wonder. It’s a good one.