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suffering
Posts

  • It’s Going to Hurt!

    We adult humans spend a good portion of our lives avoiding pain. When we get too cold, we most likely go inside to stop the discomfort of freezing fingers. When we’re too hot, we again go inside – but this time into chilly air-conditioned rooms. We take painkillers to dull the uncomfortable sensations in our bodies, and medicate our brains to ease the uncomfortable thoughts in our minds. We often don’t attempt physical risks in fear of injury, and will avoid relationships altogether that we think have the potential of breaking our hearts. And when we participate in golden showers, we do so in the comfort of a Ritz, not in a grimy a Holiday Inn.

    We run from pain because we fear it.

    Because of this pervasive trepidation of suffering, we socialize our children to avoid pain also. If you go to a playground, you will hear a chorus of parents shouting “careful,” over and over in a round – like an extra annoying version of “row row row your boat.” Parents are constantly trying to protect their children and keeping them from falling – forgetting that a face-plant is actually a pretty important part of learning. Sometimes falling off the monkey bars and getting the wind knocked out of you is a good thing. That way next time you’ll know to fall on top of another kid, to soften the impact.

    I guarantee you that the most crucial and life-changing moments of your existence were not your happiest – but rather overcoming something challenging. We don’t learn from ease, we learn from pain. When we breakthrough pain, we realize our own strength and resilience. That is how we grow and evolve. No one remembers the days that were super chill, nothing difficult happened, and someone served you bonbons on a golden plate. We instead remember the times a grown man pissed on a prostitute, or got pissed on by a prostitute.

    I think one of the greatest disservices that we can do to ourselves, or our kids, is thinking that life shouldn’t be painful – because guess what? IT’S GOING TO BE! The expectation that we can evade pain is not only unrealistic; it’s setting you up for a lifetime of disappointment. I don’t know about you, but I would rather know I can get through painful experiences than pretending life will shower nothing but prosperity upon me… because only then will I realize that I’m actually wet with urine.

    You guys… I just can’t stop with these references. It’s too special. Trump’s life is comedy gold…en shower.

    Back to the point. The other day The Munch got a splinter. Now there are two kinds of splinters in the world. A splinter that goes into your skin at a diagonal angle – which means it is easy to get out – and a splinter that goes into your skin at a 90 degree angle – which means your fucked.

    The Munch got a 90-degree splinter into the heel of her foot. I was out of town, and her dad called me to explain the situation. I told him to soak her foot in warm water to soften the skin… but I forgot to mention SOAPY warm water. So basically he put her foot in purely warm water, and immediately the wood expanded – making the splinter even harder to extract. He tried to get it out, but at that point it was too embedded.

    The next day I came back, and the splinter was still there despite many attempts, and holistic remedies. We tried olive oil, eggshell, banana peel, Epsom salts, whale sperm. Nothing worked. I could run my finger over the skin, and it wasn’t even poking out anymore. Anytime we tried to grab the end of the splinter with tweezers, the wood just splintered off. The Munch couldn’t walk, so there was no choice but to get it out, yet the question was how? I’m not sure if you’ve ever tried to take a splinter out of a 6-year olds foot, but it’s kind of like wrestling a rabid wolverine.

    Munch: Ow mom OW!!!!! Don’t touch it! IT HURTS!!!
    Me: Well I have to at least look at it…
    Munch: OW OW OW OW OW OW OW!! STOP NO OWWWWWWW!!
    Me: I can’t get it out if you keep moving around and kicking your foot!
    Munch: YOU’RE NOT BEING GENTLE!
    Me: I am trying to be… but if you don’t let me get it out, we will have to take you to the doctor to do it. You can’t walk, and it can get infected.
    Munch: NO WAY NO WAY NO WAY NO WAY!!! I AM NOT GOING TO THE DOCTOR!!!!!!
    Me: Then you’re going to have to let me do it.
    Munch: OW OW OW OW OW OW!!!
    Me: Dude you have to stop kicking!!!
    Munch: I CAN’T STOP KICKING BECAUSE YOU KEEP POKING AND HURTING ME!
    Me: Well, do you want to go the doctor then?
    Munch: NO NO NO NO NO I WON’T GO!

    You can see this was not going well. Then I realized something. Part of why The Munch was resisting so much was because she thought I was going to be gentle, and not hurt her. Yet the problem was that there is no way to dig a splinter out of a foot and not have it hurt! The only way to get this demon wood out was to pick, prod, squeeze, and shear the skin.

    Me: Listen. This is going to hurt. There is no way I can do this and it won’t be painful. But if you don’t want to go to the doctor, you have to let me hurt you.
    Munch: Fine, but you have to be gentle.
    Me: I’m will do my best to be gentle, but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to hurt. It is. I am going to hurt you. You have to wrap your head around that. But that’s the only way I can get it out. Life is full of pain okay Munch? There is no running from it. But you’re the bravest girl I know. You had someone cut your eyeball out of your face… twice. You’ve lived through surgery; you can live through this okay?
    Munch: Okay. Just don’t take me back to the hospital. I hate that place.
    Me: Deal.

    For the next hour of our lives, with her dad holding a flashlight to The Munch’s foot, I dug into her skin. Sure The Munch would have to take breaks, but there was no more resisting, no more kicking, no more shouting. She just let me carve my way into her foot and then squeeze the shit out of it to try and loosen the splinter. Then, I finally saw my moment. I got the tweezers, and pulled it out. We all started screaming and jumping up and down in celebration. I swear on everything holy pulling that splinter out was as emotionally satisfying as watching the birth of my child. In fact, it was more gratifying.

    Obviously the Munch had a shift of consciousness. Once she not only expected the pain, but also accepted it, her tolerance quadrupled. She was able to sit there peacefully and deal with the discomfort because she had surrendered to that reality. Once you allow the pain, you realize, that it’s not that bad. You will survive, and the satisfaction of getting through it is profound. I think we all can remind ourselves that pain is not the worst thing that can happen to us. Stagnation is. Allowing ourselves to be stifled by the fear of suffering. So go out there, make mistakes, get hurt, have someone destroy your heart. You’re going to be okay! I promise. Live life embracing pain. I know I for one am going to remember this the next time I get pee in my eye from a presidential golden shower, because that shit does sting.

    The tools and splinter

    splinter-blog

  • Health and Healing Hypocrisy

    I see all physical ailments as metaphysical messages. I believe our souls communicate to our egos through the language of the body. Every time I am sick, hurt, or in pain – I see it as an opportunity to dig deep in the bowels of my inner being, and extract a warm brown piece of who I really am.

    Because of this belief system, I never take western medicine. The medical establishment may lesson your symptoms, but it drives your sickness deeper inside. When you take pills for momentary relief, you are denying yourself the opportunity of self-reflection. Rather than trying to mask my pain, I will willingly sit in it so as to discover what it is I need to learn.

    Yet when my kid is suffering, I just want her to stop complaining – I mean I just want her to get better fast.

    The Munch was really miserable the other day. Usually when she is sick, she takes it as an opportunity to watch TV all day. Yet this time, she was in such a state of distress, that she wouldn’t even watch “My Little Pony!” She said that her eyes hurt too much to open them, and was writhing around in my bed in a state of physical crisis. The only thing I could do was to tickle her back to relax her.

    I felt so helpless. It’s traumatizing to see your child in anguish. But she was also being really dramatic and annoying about it. Sorry that was my auto correct. I meant to write; she was being SUPER dramatic and annoying about it.

    At first I tried to examine the mystical meaning of what was going on with her.

    Munch: MOMMY! It hurts! Wahhhahhhhaaa!
    Toni: I know it does sweetie. Can you tell me what it feels like?
    Munch: My eyes are pushing into my mouth.
    Toni: What do you think that means? What is it you don’t want to see? Or don’t want to say?
    Munch: WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? My eyes and mouth just hurt! Wahhhaaahha!
    Toni: I hear you – but what do you think is the significance of your eyes hurting? Do you feel like there is some hidden question you could be asking yourself? What are your eyes and mouth trying to teach you?
    Munch: MY FACE HURTS! WAHAHHHHAHH
    Toni: Is there something about yourself that you have to face, and that’s why your face hurts?
    Munch: I DON’T KNOW! I JUST KNOW IT HURTS!!!

    My philosophical inquiry wasn’t exactly getting to the bottom of things. The Munch didn’t seem too interested interested in delving into the spiritual significance of what was going on with her health.

    Then my mom called.

    My Mom: I think she has allergies.
    Toni: How do you know?
    My Mom: Because she is experiencing the same symptoms I used to have. Stuffy nose, itchy eyes, irritability… That’s why I take Benadryl every day.
    Toni: But what do you think that your runny nose and itchy eyes are trying to tell you mom? Is your nose running perhaps a metaphor for something else you are running from?
    My Mom: Jesus Toni, it’s just seasonal allergies from pollen. Stop being such a hippy freak and go get your daughter some over the counter allergy medicine like Zyrtec.

    So I did.

    The Munch ended up sleeping the entire day, and I kind of felt like I drugged my kid. Which I guess I did. But then she woke up the next day, and was perfectly fine.

    hiding under the pillow munch

    munch sick sleeping

  • Dealing With Your Addictions

    I have never been addicted to anything, but I have abused a variety of substances. Even though my relationship to drugs and alcohol was excessive – and would lead to my doing things like being at a bar and falling onto a glass table full of drinks, breaking said table as my entire body became submerged in cranberry juice and vodka, then getting right back up to dance like that never happened – I never got hooked.

    So I can’t say I personally understand the struggle of addiction, but I do understand the urge to fill the existential hole in your soul with cocaine. It happens!

    I think the root of addiction lies in wanting to satiate your emotions with something outside of yourself. It’s a way to deal with the monotony of existence, or mask the pain of life. You turn to a chemical compound that will shake shit up inside your mind, and dull your heart from having to feel.

    I know my kid is only 4, but I want to set up good patterns of behavior even now. I don’t expect that The Munch won’t ever experiment with drugs. I am sure one day she will get super fucked up, hippy flip at a festival, and then have to vomit on her best friend because she mixed nitrous with an ecstasy acid combo. These things happen! I can’t shelter her from wanting to party in her youth, but hopefully I can build the groundwork so she has the mental fortitude to avoid being consumed by chasing the dragon – because that guy is fast!

    I want The Munch to be able to express her inner being, and not feel confined by the confusion of the human condition. I figure the more we confront things head on, the less she will feel the need to escape later in life. Sure, I am not dealing with any hard-core strife right now. I mean, it isn’t that complicated to process your tears after losing a Frozen flip-flop. Yet I have noticed that when The Munch hurts herself, her first request is to watch something on TV to “take her mind off it.” And when she is bored, and doesn’t know what to do, she always asks for a treat.

    I decide that we needed to unpack these instincts so she doesn’t one day move to Tampa, Florida.

    Munch: Mom, my sunburn really hurts. Can I watch some Carebears?
    Toni: Munch, you don’t want to watch something just to run from being in pain. You need to face it head on.
    Munch: But I really wanna watch something so it doesn’t hurt.
    Toni: Yeah, but life is full of pain. And sometimes you have to just sit with it. That’s the only way to realize that you are not your pain, and you can overcome it.
    Munch: Can I overcome my pain tomorrow morning and watch something tonight?
    Toni: I’m not sure it works like that.

    THE NEXT DAY

    Munch: Mom, can I have a treat?
    Toni: You already had like 5 chocolates today.
    Munch: But I REALLY want another treat.
    Toni: Munch, if you have a treat every day then it’s not special any more. You are just eating sugar all the time and cultivating a sugar addiction. Remember when we talked about how sugar is addictive?
    Munch: Yeah but what does it mean again?
    Toni: Well….
    Munch: Oh right. Addiction is when you can’t control yourself and you just want more and more and more even though it’s not good for your body.
    Toni: Exactly.
    Munch: How about I have one more treat today and none tomorrow. I will work on my addiction, and I won’t have treats every day. Just sometimes. And a lot of them.

     

    addiction-blog

  • The Heartbreak of a Broken Heart

    Do you remember your first broken heart? Did it feel like someone peeled back the layers of your skin only to pry their fingers deep into your aorta, and scrape the inner walls of your ventricles with their nails? Were you writhing in agony as the seething suffering traversed your veins and settled into a cantankerous cavity hidden inside the bowels of your being? ME TOO!!!

    My heart was broken for the first time when I was 15. He told me we lived too far apart, and he couldn’t be my boyfriend anymore because he wanted to finger-bang other girls. I wasn’t just devastated… I was destroyed. Forget the fact that I had another boyfriend who went to my school. The loss was too profound to bear. I would think of him every night when I went to sleep, and he was the first thing on my mind when I woke up. I sometimes wouldn’t leave my house in hopes that he would call. (The tragedy of being a teenager in the 90’s, pre cellphones *tear). I thought of him obsessively, and would look for him in any crowd I was in. It took me an entire year to move on emotionally, and of course as soon as I got over him, he was like “let’s date again,” – so we did.

    Being broken hearted is a helpless and vulnerable feeling because it is rooted in rejection. No matter how the other person tries to rationalize their reasoning, the piercing truth is that they don’t want you. That sinking reality is so painful because it also digs at the core of your self-esteem. The ego becomes enmeshed with the heart. Not only is the object of your love leaving, but they are also scarring your sense of worth with their disinterest to stay.

    The Munch is going through her first experience with heartbreak, and it has been breaking my heart to witness her sorrow. Her baby sitter since she was one year old has decided to move on. We had a conversation about it last week, and I think at first Munch was in a state of shock or denial. She didn’t really mention it, so I was hoping maybe it would be a smooth transition. Then the other morning, Munch came in my room while I was meditating wondering what I had done with a picture her babysitter Liliana had drawn her. It had been hanging on the fridge, and I had taken it down. At first I didn’t want to admit that, and tried to claim I didn’t remember – but Munch kept asking me where it was.

    Toni: I took it down.
    Munch: Why?
    Toni: It made me sad to look at it.

    That was when everything hit her. Suddenly Munch had to face reality. She started weeping in my arms telling me how much she missed Liliana. I held her, and began crying right along with her. Her pain was so relatable. Of course wanting to discontinue employment as a babysitter is drastically different than ending a relationship – yet in Munch’s world, the sentiment is the same.

    Munch: I still want her to be my babysitter. I don’t like those things she said. They really hurt my feelings. I don’t want her to leave. I miss her. I can’t stop thinking about Liliana!
    Toni: I know baby. It is really hard. But people can’t always be who you want them to be. Sometimes they have to be who they want to be. And when you love them, you have to give them that space.
    Munch: But I miss her so much and I want to see her. I am so angry that she doesn’t want to see me any more. I want to be with her. My heart is broken. She broke my heart.
    Toni: It hurts, I know. But Liliana wants to go back to school. And we want her to be happy. She needs to find her happiness. Don’t you want her to do that?
    Munch: Yes, but I also want her to stay with me.
    Toni: It doesn’t always work that way baby. Sometimes happiness means you have to leave.

    We sat, talked, and cried. I didn’t want to talk her out of her feelings, because that seemed like a fruitless effort. We can’t rationalize our way out of loss. We have to go through it. The only thing I could do was to listen, and suggest different ways of seeing the situation. After a while, we got up, got dressed, and got in the car to go on an adventure. We decided that we would listen to music as loud as we could, and sing as loud as our voices would go.

    As I was driving I realized the universal truth of heartbreak. The other person is happier with out you. That is why they have to go. Suddenly I felt elated by this knowing.  Even though there is a sweet sadness, there is also hope. Your aching has meaning because the person you love is happier. Even though that bruises the ego, the true self wants the people you adore to find their bliss, even if it means they take a different path.

    I know Munch is still hurting from this separation. She will go through her iPod, find videos of her with Liliana, and then cry as she watches them. Although the tragic rawness is brutal to witness, I also respect that this is a process she has to go through in order to let go. All I know is that I considering Munch is only 4 and feels this deeply, I am seriously in for it when she is a teenager.

    heartbreak-blog-(i)

  • Unleash Your Inner Teenage Girl

    When I was a teenager I would come home from school, put on really sad music, and cry. Just to drive this point home and make sure you have the visual… every day for four years I would blast Fiona Apple, Tori Amos, Alanis Morissette, Sarah McLachlan, and *insert any 90’s angst- ridden singer songwriter here – just to make myself weep FOR HOURS! When I look back at that time in my life I have to wonder what the fuck was going on with me?

    The obvious answer is I was a hormonal mess, controlled by the insanity of estrogen pumping through my system at an alarming rate as it surged through my veins. Yet at the same time it was deeper than that. It was the one part of my day where I actually felt alive. For whatever reason, being a teenage girl made it possible for me to easily access my sorrow. It didn’t take much for me to feel infinitely sorry for myself, or even for all of humanity. I could tap into grief with a calm effortlessness, and access that intensity more than any other emotion.

    I didn’t know how to make myself feel boundlessly joyful, but I did know how to drop into sadness. Even though the melancholy didn’t feel good, the extremeness of the sentiment was full of vitality. The heightened sense gave meaning to everything, even if the moment was blurred by my salty vision.

    I don’t suggest this as a daily practice – unless I can get a book deal, in which case sign up for my 3-week course “Weep Your Way Into a Better You,” – but I do think there is something profound about releasing into the chaos of desperation. Perhaps if we were more willing to feel the truth of the lows, there would be more room for the altitude of the highs.

    Pain is also terrifying. I don’t want to feel hurt, nor do I want to see other people suffering. I once saw a cat that had been run over and was lying on the side of the road. I stopped to help it, but I didn’t have the capacity to handle how much the poor creature was in agony. Another car stopped right after me, and the driver went right over to the mangled animal and held it in her arms as it died. I had so much respect for this woman. She was able to bear the burden of this being’s transition when I was rendered impotent by my own excessive empathy. I felt so deeply for the cat that I couldn’t be there for it because I was too lost in my own feelings. I would like to think that if that woman hah never showed up I would have pulled myself together, and been more proactive then sobbing uncontrollably. Yet I am so grateful that she did, because she was there for us both that night.

    I was once part of a hippy new age shaman ceremony celebrating the descendants of grandmother moon, and go figure, I was actually feeling pretty good. Then this woman started writhing in discomfort as her primal cries filled the room. I found myself totally distracted by what was going on with her. As much as I wanted to help, I also knew that there wasn’t much I could do for her. She was on her trip. The best way for me to have been there for her was to visualize her as the perfect self. Yet it was so challenging not to get caught up in the drama of her experience. I had to repeat the mantra “this is her healing” in order to maintain my own sanity.

    Even though I felt terrible for this woman, I also wanted her to stop being in pain – not only for herself, but for me too. Her anguish was harshing my mellow! I felt so guilty that I was feeling fine, and she wasn’t.

    Isn’t that a metaphor for the global suffering that is going on all the time? When you are having the best night of your life, someone else is having the worst night of theirs. That is why it is so hard to really contemplate about all terrible realities going on. I feel awful when I really allow myself to think about child brides, therefore I don’t want to think about it. It is too hard for me to be happy when I remind myself of the millions who are not.

    So that is why we all need to unleash our inner teenage girl, and allow the totality of suffering to pass through us. Not only for ourselves, but also for all the beings on this fucked up planet we live on. To run from the hurt doesn’t mean it goes away. Maybe the best thing we can do is to truly turn towards it, so we can actually deal with how much it all sucks.
    (Look at me! I am on the verge of tears just sitting around xmas eve when I was 14)

    teenage-girl-blog

    January 15, 2015 • Musings, Old School Stories • Views: 1390

  • East vs. West vs. Hippies on my FACE!

    Fuck my life.  I got shingles again.  I felt something on my face Friday night, and just assumed that something weird was formulating.  No big deal.  I didn’t want to over think it.  Saturday morning I woke up, felt my face, and knew something was wrong.  So very wrong.  The same wrong as my fucking shingles that I had only 6 months ago.

    I was supposed to go to my cousin’s baby shower that morning but I knew I had to go see the white man doctor to get the white man medicine.  So I called the dermatologist I went to before assuming that would be the best first move since he already had dealt with me.

    Toni: Hi. I have shingles festering on my face and I need to see a doctor.

    Operator: Well, it is Saturday so dermatology is closed. You will have to call Monday morning to make an appointment.

    Toni: Please, I really need your help.  I have had shingles before.  I know that is what I have.  I can’t wait until Monday.  Last time they were almost as painful as childbirth – and my baby came out horizontally.

    Operator: Well, who is your general practitioner?

    Toni: I don’t have one.

    Operator: You don’t have any doctor that you see?

    Toni: Well, I have my hippy doctor.  But they are hippies.  They don’t answer their phones – especially on a Saturday.

    Operator: I guess you can come in to see the after-hours family practitioner.  But you really should get a doctor.  Can you get here by 10:15?

    I was out the door and at the hospital by 10:00 am, feeling really sorry for myself.  Let me tell you, there is nothing more depressing than a hospital on a Saturday.  The after- hours family practitioner’s office was literally abandoned.  There was no one in the hallways, no one in the waiting room, no one at the reception’s desk – everywhere was just empty.  It was like a Twilight Zone.  I sat there for 20 minutes by myself, thinking that a nuclear bomb had gone off and somehow I was the sole survivor of the blast, when finally a man hobbled out the door with puss-soaked gauze wrapped around his leg.

    Eventually a woman called me back to the offices, and I waited in the room poking at medical equipment for the standard half hour to see the nurse practitioner.

    Nurse: So what is going on here?

    Toni: I am pretty sure I have shingles.

    Nurse: I see in your chart you have had them before so I am sure you know what you are talking about. Let me take a look? Did you put makeup on to cover them up?

    Toni: No, I don’t wear makeup.  Last time I had shingles I had an acupuncturist see me, and she gave me this cream to put on them.  I have no idea what is in it because it is all in Chinese, but I put it on anyway.

    (I have to say I was pretty offended that she would imply I was vain enough to cover up shingles with makeup??  I mean I know they are not pretty, but putting makeup on a festering wound seems like a pretty bad fucking idea.  Not to mention the fact that said cream was white, and looked like I had sloppily slathered toothpaste on my face.  So this double insulted me because the nurse obviously thought I was really pathetic at applying makeup discreetly).

    Nurse: Yeah.  You definitely have shingles. Do you see how the pustules have already formed here around the eye and nose?

    Toni: Please don’t ever say the word “pustules” again.

    Nurse: Those are the shingles erupting from your face.

    Toni: Yeah, I get it.

    Nurse: So do you have a general practitioner?

    Toni: No.

    Nurse: Do you go to the doctor?

    Toni: Not really.

    Nurse: Have you had a pap smear then?

    Toni: You mean at the gynecologist? Yeah those things are horrible.  I don’t do those.  I guess I went about 3 years ago, and then about 6 years before that.

    Nurse: Maybe you should go the doctor more often…

    Toni: Yeah, okay

    Nurse: You know you can get a vaccine for shingles.  I highly recommend you doing that once this clears up. Here is your prescription.

    Although the crazy burning itching pain of the shingles hadn’t started yet, all I could do was anticipate the suffering.  Last time I had shingles, I didn’t know how bad it could get. But this time I was fully aware of the potential agony, and was in a state of total panic.  When I got home I called the acupuncturist and made an appointment for 1:00.  I then started recklessly taking supplements, unsure which where for my allergies, frequent periods, or the last time I had shingles.  I took 3 out of every bottle… which was about 60 of them.  I then started pacing maniacally waiting for the acupuncturist to torture me, and by they time she got there I was terrified.  Not only of the pain of the shingles soon to come, but the pain of this tiny Asian lady jabbing me with needles then twisting them around sending electric shocks throughout my body.

    Toni: Yeah, so my shingles are back.

    Acupuncturist: Mmmmmm… yeah I see the pustules.

    Toni: Great.

    Acupuncturist: Let me take your pulse.  In acupuncture we don’t just want to treat the disease.  We want to know why it is happening.

    Toni: Yes, yes, yes, I want to know why too! Can you tell me why?

    Acupuncturist: Too much cold.  Here.  In stomach.  Stagnation.  Very cold.  Energy needs to flow.

    Toni: Okay, so why do I have them again.

    Acupuncturist: Stagnation.  Here.  Stomach. Lower back.  Energy stuck.

    Toni: Okay… that really clears things up.

    After the acupuncture, she gave me a bunch of Chinese herbs to take.

    Acupuncturist: Just take these.  Chinese herbs.  No supplements.

    Toni: The hippy doctor gave me the supplements.  So I shouldn’t take them?

    Acupuncturist: No.  Just Chinese herbs.

    Toni: What about the pills the doctor gave me? Should I take the white man’s medicine?

    Acupuncturist: No, just Chinese herbs.  Acupuncture and herbs take pustules away.

    Toni: Why does everyone keep saying that word?

    Acupuncturist: Excuse me?

    Toni: Never mind.

    I don’t know what I did to deserve this.  This whole experience brings up a host of issues for me.  For one, my conflict with vaccines, and how paralyzed I feel about them as a practice.  Should I have vaccinated myself for shingles, should I in the future, should I be vaccinating The Munch?  My head is spinning.  Then of course the western doctor is in conflict with the eastern doctor, who is in conflict with the hippy doctor.  I don’t know what to do.  The last time I did everything – the supplements, the acupuncture, the herbs, the white man’s medicine, and I have no idea what cured me for sure.  Was it a combo of all of them?  I don’t know? Who should I listen to? Who should I trust? Help me!!

    (Have you ever seen anything more surreal and sad than this waiting room?)

    shingles-saturday-blog-(i)

     

    August 19, 2013 • Adventures, Health, Mommy Body, Mommy Mind, Musings • Views: 5591

  • Life is Pain, Sweetie

    I really like The Munch.  I think she is pretty badass.  But damn – she can also be quite the drama queen.

    Kids hurt themselves a fuck of a lot.  They don’t watch where they are going, are easily distracted, and are just about eye-level of all table corners.  They are going to injure themselves at LEAST once a day, and in The Munch’s case she makes an event out of every instance as if she were auditioning for role of Lady Macbeth.

    Here is my conundrum. I don’t want to deny The Munch of her pain.  I think saying “oh never mind… forget it… you are fine” is demoralizing because it is telling your child how to feel rather than listening to what is actually going on.  But as much as I want to honor her life experiences, and for The Munch to understand her mind, body, and spirit in all its complexities – I also don’t want her to be a total pussy.

    One major mistake I made recently was letting The Munch watch the iPad after a particularly bad fall.  She was just in such a state of personal chaos… and I was super hungry for lunch.  The problem is that now she asks for the iPad when she is in pain like some possessed post-modern Pavlovian dog.

    Munch: WAAAAHHHHAAAA MAMMA IT REALLY HURTS! I NEED TO WATCH A MOVIE!

    Toni: Munch, no you don’t need to watch a movie.  Would you like me to give you a hug though?

    Munch: NO MAMMA NO!! I NEED TO WATCH CURIOUS GEORGE!! WAHHHHAHHHHAAAHHHHHAHAA!

    Toni: Sweetie, that is not going to happen.  But I can give you a hug, or I can tell you a story about the little girl named Adelia who fell and hurt herself?

    Munch: NOOOOO! I NEED TO WATCH CURIOUS GEORGE BECAUSE I HURT MYSELF AND THAT WILL MAKE ME FEEL BETTER!! WAHHHHAHAAAAHHHA!

    Toni: Munch, I know one time that happened, and that watching a movie helped you to feel better.  But that was a special occasion. I am not going to let you watch Curious George every time you hurt yourself.  That would be setting you up for disaster.  For the rest of your life you will turn to TV as a distraction from you pain rather than facing it head on.  I don’t want to create bad habits like that.

    Munch: WAAHHHHAAAAA BUT I NEED TO WATCH CURIOUS GEORGE SO I CAN FEEL BETTER!!!

    Toni: Munch listen to me.  Do you know who else hurts themselves?

    Munch: Who?

    Toni: Your cousin Calvin – he hurts himself.  And so does your friend Amelia.  Remember how she broke her arm?  And your friend Julien – sometimes hurts himself too.

    Munch: WAHHHAAAAHHHA!

    Toni: You see Munch, everyone hurts themselves.  It is a part of the human condition.  Life is pain sweetie.  And the challenge of existence is how you deal with that pain.  So you have to remember you are going to hurt yourself a thousand more times in life, and it is important to cope with pain with grace and humility.  So not every time you hurt yourself you have to get into a state of hysterics.  It is important to not be controlled by your suffering, but realize it will pass in time.

    Munch: Can I look at pictures on your phone then?

    Toni: Sure.

    I think I made my point 😉

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  • Can You Define Spirituality?

    What is spirituality?  No seriously.  What is it?  People often say they are not religious but they are spiritual.  Yet that feels really vague to me with such a broad spectrum of possibilities.  Even my own understanding seems convoluted to myself. Am I still considered spiritual if I worship the dark lord Ungoolu and believe my child is an immaculate conception from the venom of his black seed? But don’t worry it didn’t hurt.  It was only a little prick.

    When I was growing up I went to Catholic Church every Sunday until I was 15 years old.  My father’s mother was very religious, and it was important to her that my brother and I attended mass, so my dad made sure he honored her wishes.  But neither of my parents every told me what to believe.  They just brought me along and exposed me to it.

    My dad was also a professor of ancient Greece, so I was very familiar with their Gods and the stories of Zeus, Hera, Aphrodite and the rest.  So herein laid my conflict as a 6-year old trying to wrap my head around God and religion.  I couldn’t understand why the religion of the Ancient Greeks was now so commonly considered “myth” where the modern religions were said to be “truth.”  What made one a fable and the other one fact?  Why were the gods of the past relegated to fairytale?

    I didn’t like the idea that one religion was right another was wrong.

    My other issue was around the concept of eternity.  My grandmother would tell me that when I died I would go either to heaven or hell forever.  I don’t know about you, but that concept freaked me the fuck out.  Eternity.  Forever.  Still gives me the heebie-jeebies.  I didn’t want to be in either place forever.  Even being in heaven for eternity was a terrifying concept.  So I asked my dad if he ever felt this way.

    Child Toni: “Dad did the concept of forever scare you when you were a kid?”

    My dad: “Of course.  It still scares me.”

    Child Toni: “I don’t want to be dead forever.  I really don’t want it happening for that long.  Why can’t it just be over? What does the after life have to be so long?”

    My dad: “Well, the idea of eternity in the western mind is very linear.  Like a line that just extends forever in one direction.  But the Greeks thought of eternity as cyclical.  So they had this concept called Telos, which means coming full circle.  That always makes me feel better.  To think of time as a circle not a line.”

    Child Toni: “Okay.  Can I have fruity pebbles for breakfast?”

    My dad: “Maybe another time.”

    Even though I had these fundamental questions that made me feel unsettled, I would go to church every Sunday, and I would think.  I would contemplate the concepts of life and death.  I wondered about mortality constantly, but never felt like I was getting any closer to comprehending it.  And then when I actually lost someone I truly loved and cared about I finally understood.

    When I was 20 my best friend died, and it broke me.  She was an angel of a person, and the tragedy crushed my soul.  But I realized that if I still let myself love her, that we would still be connected.  There was an energetic tie that kept us together even if she was no longer living on the planet.   I allowed myself to love her just as much as I ever did and even though I missed her more than anything, I still felt close to her.  I had to let go of the expectation I would ever see her again in a way that my human mind understood, but I would forever hold on to how much she meant to me.

    And then spirituality started to make sense… even if in a very esoteric way.  Thinking in terms of love, energy, vibration, and connection.  It was around the time that my friend died that I started getting interested in Yoga. And through my physical practice came the introduction to the philosophical and spiritual elements.  Although I have never actively studied eastern religion, over the years I have had many experiences with meditation and chanting.  And it is through those practices that have helped me find a small semblance of inner peace.

    It is when I am meditating or chanting that I can turn off that voice in my head that keeps chirping.  The connection to “Godliness” or “spirituality” I think can only truly be felt when the chatter of the ego is quieted.  It’s hard to have a spiritual moment while your ego is saying in your mind’s ear “I think yellow suede boots would make my butt look tighter.”

    So I meditate and chant to help quiet my inner mind.  But I realize that I don’t really even know what I am saying half the time.  I bring The Munch to Kirtan where we chant in Sanskrit, and I could be singing how “I want a pigeon to peck my armpits” for all I know.  But I go because I believe there is healing in mediation and chanting.  That it connects you to the vibration of the universe.  Through those channels you can find moments of genuine noiselessness in your mind in heart.  It is in that silence where the truth is hidden.

    The Munch loves going to Kirtan and all the other new-agey things I drag her to.  She sings along, plays with her babies, and emulates the weird dancing of hippies swaying their bodies around while failing their limbs.  But hopefully through these experiences she will contemplate the greater mysteries of existence and one day find her own beliefs.

    (Notice that Munch is wearing her lady bug bathing suit…)

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    May 22, 2013 • 2 years old, Adventures, Education, Mommy Mind, Musings • Views: 5861