Being a linguiphile, the parallels of this named month are not lost on me. What may May bring? Mayday, may(be)(to)day… Thanks to Mirriam Webster online, the month meets its lingual ambiguity with both explanation and question:
Definition of MAY
- a archaic : have the ability to
- b : have permission to <you may go now> : be free to <a rug on which children may sprawl — C. E. Silberman> —used nearly interchangeably with can
- c —used to indicate possibility or probability <you may be right> <things you may need> ; sometimes used interchangeably with can slipups that mayhappen from time to time — Jessica Mitford> ; sometimes used where might would be expected <you may think from a little distance that the country was solid woods — Robert Frost>
Sitting down for our monthly date, I would take a deep breath in and out. I find myself doing this prior to most purposeful tasks lately: similar to the release and preparation I would take when first stepping onto my yoga mat, or before pressing off my back foot for a long run, or when sitting down to write. Let’s maximize our time together, and I will maximize my lung capacity and neural oxygenation, all the better to converse with you, my dear. I find that others interpret deep breathing as problematic, as sighing, as though something is wrong. I assure you, for me, this is not the case. It is a resetting and a cleansing, so that I can come to the task cleared of the prior one. How do you find yourself instinctually or purposefully being present for the activities which mean the most to you? Perhaps do that now, whether it’s writing down what’s on your mind to get to later, or breathing with me, or taking five minutes to walk around the block before we sit down. Now let’s get started.
Gulping my first step and widening my eyes in ridiculous fear, I would admit that later this year, I turn 30. I have an incredible group of friends who are entertaining my Sex & the City-style freak-out over this impending age, and we are renting a house on Lake Michigan and spending quality time talking about the deep stuff, the superficial stuff, and everything in between. Just the planning of this trip has made me so grateful for these incredible people, their friendship, and a life that makes this all possible.
Already thinking about tomorrow’s chai, I would share that I am about to do some serious work at the Denver Annual Meeting: presenting a motion at the Thursday Business Meeting, having lunch with my summer integration student, joining the Division of Education Student Issues Section as Co-Chair, putting final edits on a new graduate section of the student report, hosting a pro-choice happy hour with Nursing Students for Choice, working the NSFC table at the Exhibit Hall, attending the Yale alumni reception, attending the Michigan alumni reception, attending the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) reception, attending a social media gathering, bidding on the auction items for the midwife Political Action Campaign (PAC), and getting down with my bad self at the awards dinner and celebration Friday night. Then I fly to Detroit for my partner’s family reunion very early Saturday morning – life never stops!
Reflecting happily, I would tell you that the other night, I attended my first feminist book group. The group was diverse, opinionated, strong, hilarious, and great. We read Gaga Feminism by J. Jack Halberstam. I thought some important points about questions on gender and the roles of feminism were brought up in the book, but that it missed some key links between ideas. Some in the group hated the book, others loved all of it, and still others struggled with some of the more radical ideas it brought forth. I really enjoyed the conversation and people. I have never been involved in a book group, and am really looking forward to the next meeting, which is a potluck and book selection evening. If you have ideas of what I should bring up, let me know!
Thanks to a friend who made a new year’s resolution to send five random gifts to five random people, I received Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being, which (so far) is an incredibly intricate parallel tale of one woman’s work to write her memoir while reading another woman’s memoir. I’m finding it a bit reminiscent of Anita Shreve’s The Weight of Water, which I also experienced deeply and emotionally. When it comes to discussing time, and life, and our existence and purpose and interaction with each other, I struggle with keeping my emotions under control. Reading about these topics gives a safe space to read others’ thoughts, but sometimes I walk away at the weight of it all, without my own resolution. Such is the beauty of fiction and nonfiction and our own reality crossover. Would love to chat more about this…
Expressing gratitude for caffeine, I would share that finally I have a few night shifts under my belt. I bring a chai with me to sip through the first few hours, the effects of which last a few hours more. Then I take to a 1 liter bottle of Trader Joe’s sparkling water, which works like a charm through the next few hours. Most shifts have been busy, and on only one of them have I been able to sleep more than two hours, so adrenaline has been effective at keeping me going. Nights are different, in the sense that there are fewer providers around to chat with about management and grey spaces, so all I have is myself and my own intuition unless I want to wake someone up for a quick question, and that has been a learning experience. What I am knowing, just at the beginning of night work, is that not only is there the task to stay awake, but also the task of provider independence. In conclusion, thank goodness not only for my effective intuition, but also for nurses and their experience and patience and support. I also so appreciated the suggestions from those on Facebook who have worked night shifts for many years: napping a couple hours the day of, going immediately to sleep the morning after for about four hours, brushing teeth every few hours, sunglasses on the drive home even if it’s cloudy. My favorite recommendation about staying awake is to eat an apple on the drive home – works like a charm!
At the end of April, I completed my first work of precepting a midwifery integration student. Four months flew by, and I have no idea what meta and micro work of midwifery I was able to impart. I feel as though on many shifts together in the clinic and the hospital, I was struggling with frustration toward patients and coworkers, and spent a lot of time in introspective reflection. I know we talked a lot about life and midwifery during the in-between times. I can only hope I provided enough space for processing, since I often have to force my own writing to ensure I do my own processing. And I am sure that whatever facade this blog provides for those who don’t know me is a very different world once someone spends every day in practice with me. I feel like writing about something, in effect glorifies it, even at its worst, and while I may not be incredibly eloquent in thought or delivery of ideas in real time, perhaps I am more so through writing. All of this is to say, that, in the end, precepting was a humbling experience. Midwifery feels more real to me when I have shared my own way of practice with another midwife. I felt challenged by her (in great ways), I saw her growth and questioning, and I saw her strength, and felt empowered by her individuality in midwifery. At this point, I am just feeling reflective and curious about the next experience.
Getting down to the potent, gritty, eye-opening dregs of my chai, I would celebrate many successes over the past four weeeks. Eighteen months into living here, with what has been both work and luck, life is starting to take a turn toward the long term. I am at the beginnings of finding “my people” in this city, forming a friend group which feels solid and intentional and aligned. I also have just been offered (another) per diem job, which puts my foot in the door for a job I would like to keep long term, with a midwife practice which, in just the few days since the job acceptance, has celebrated me more than my current job has in a year and a half. I am stepping up into more leadership roles in midwifery both in my state and nationally, which feels strong and purposeful. Finally, we are searching for a more permanent home in this city, and have some great prospects on the horizon. May, may this work and luck continue.
What definition of may most resonates with you this month? For what are you expressing gratitude lately? How is your emotional health when you think about the short and long term of this life? What is coming up for you next? What fiction and reality and teaching and learning are reflecting on your work? What do you hope we could talk about next month, that you could put into writing now, and perhaps make it intentional going forward?
See you next month,
PS: My favorite joke for the month of May? May the fourth be with you.