August, for me, was a month of overlapping in comfortably simple and beautifully complex ways: autumn breezes on tail-end summer mornings, finishing hours at one job while starting into another, red tree leaves aside still-growing green ones, nighttime and daytime really just rushing together as time, and embarking on intentional friendships and time with others as part of my own self discovery and community building process. In that spirit, let us sit down together and drink whatever it is we crave at the moment. (My mug tonight is filled with Dragon’s Milk Bourbon Barrel Stout, rather than coffee, since I am writing this in the evening and will be laying down to sleep in a few hours.)
Taking the first, warming and taste-bud-expanding sip, I would ask about your month. What overlaps, simple and complex, comfortable and beautiful, layered your life these past weeks? What parts of your life do you masquerade as others, even if it’s as easy as your favorite beer in an old mug? How has your time blended and rushed and slowed?
Settling in to the flavors and the setting, I would share what the powerful surprises and kindness that were August. New Residents starting at Mount Sinai who care about respectful medicine and are open to learning and ideas and challenges. Colleagues who continue to connect with me and love me and encourage my growth and reflection and critique. Professional girl crushes who permit my tardiness in the midst of belief for my role in this world. Family who tolerates my absence and limited information-sharing and obsession with my work (and constant attempt at work-life-balance). Friends who stick by me near and far when I question whether I’d stick by my distracted, conflicted, emotionally-wrought self. Relationships with care and forgiveness and growth and discovery and history. Adrenaline kicking in when sleep should be taking over. All of it happened in August, many times over, and for that I feel challenged and thankful and loved.
In many ways, this month was supposed to be something else than it was. I was supposed to start a new job, and only sort of did. I was supposed to get a lot of writing done, and did a lot of self reflection and personal nothingness instead. I was supposed to be on vacation a few times, and each time those days were completely the opposite of what I ever would have expected. There are so many layers to each experience: what I imagined, what happened, how I let things happen, and then how I reflect on them. The biggest surprise? Saying goodbye to women and families I’ve served for years, learning their unexpressed appreciation for me, their surprise when I haven’t quite gone, and then my own understanding of the impact I played beyond what each moment’s initial experience portrayed. How lucky I am to do this work, to be complexed by its role in my life, and to have additional moments to relive each beauty.
My body has felt nourished in many ways this month, but one way that I have been failing myself is with food. Takeout, freezer meals, quick snacks, desserts, calories through alcohol, forgetting to eat completely… I love whole and raw food, natural flavors, colorful crunches and wholesome sweets. September and its fall growths will bring me back to that.
My second entré into further nourishment came at the end of the month with a few hours outdoors, hiking and breathing and listening. I miss that with my whole spirit, and have already planned more of it in the weeks to come.
Taking another long sip, the life concept I have been pondering this month relates to how and when and to what extent people become accountable to each other. When is it in a life’s overlap with someone else that their care, their attention, their goals and plans, become someone’s responsibility other than their own? I am thinking of this outside of my professional role as a care provider, and outside of legal responsibilities. Parents and their children, family, the complexities of all the relationships in our lives. When is someone the person who calls you just out of nowhere? When do we realize who the people are we call in an emergency? Who are the people we spill all kinds of guts to on a sidewalk outside of our cars? Who remembers birthdays and anniversaries and special moments enough to celebrate them and bring them up when it’s most important? How do we look back on life and our commitments to those accountabilities and know that we fulfilled them to their utmost worth, and in that reflection learn how to do them justice as they are happening?
Okay. Caffeine, errr, beer, kicking in, radical life thoughts put at bay.
In my consumption world:
Books – are those still something people do? Oh right, I do too, when there’s time. I’m a few pieces into Gwendolyn Brooks’ ‘Selected Poems,’ which is surprising and interesting. I’ll get back to you next month.
Movies happen when I’m getting ready in the morning or trying to turn my brain off at night. The one that sticks with me the most is Hillary Swank and Emmy Rosum in “You’re Not You,” a movie about a woman with ALS and the woman who cares for her. There’s a moment when the caretaker screams with her/on her behalf that will stick with me for the rest of my life. True caring, and being “in” something with someone else, is such deep intimacy that to see it sends my heart directly into my fingertips. Watch it and prepare to sob.
Musically, I’ve been hooked on Natalia Lafourcade’s “Hasta la Raíz,” Marian Hill’s “Sway,” ZZ Ward’s “Til the Casket Drops,” and Joe Bonamassa and Beth Hart’s “Don’t Explain.”
What I’m reading, and geeking, lately:
- Weaving a home…how one woman can help millions of people globally
- 13 contemporary feminist books to build a fantastically empowering reading list (I only have Americanah and Bad Feminist of these, <ahem, family, ahem> what an easy gift for the feminist in your life to give the complete the list!)
- Diversity in Birth
- Calling the Midwife, in Chiapas
- Meet the GynePunks Pushing the Boundaries of DIY Gynecology
- How Doulas Substantially Lower The Rate Of C-Sections In The U.S.
- It’s about time young women get credit for their feminism
- 7 Women of Color Who Fought for Gender Equality
- 12 Emerging Feminist Game-Changers
Autumn is my favorite season. The colors, the winds, the layers. It came early this year with August’s overlaps, and it was surprising but welcomed. The layers will settle into the foundation, the leaves will drop and absorb and become part of the mosaic. The lived and visible histories are similar, though only top layers are most noticed. That which we read and consume and love and care for is part of the layers and the overlaps and the existence moving forward. The leaves grown in spring and sunned in summer fall for winter to exist in its glory, and then the cleansing of ice melting and water rinsing brings us all back again to sunny porches and grassy walks. I’m ready to see what’s next, reflect on what happened, and to be present in the moment with intention every day this month. <insert all life and midwifery and love discussions here>.
To who, and to what, are you currently accountable in your life, and how are you fulfilling that? What layers bring you more life, which ones consume you, and which ones need to be layered elsewhere? How does your time become graspable instead of rushing by with the wind? What knowledge are you bringing into September about your own nourishment and need?
This was a deep one, y’all. But it’s my truth lately.
Until next month,