Archive for January, 2010
This past Friday’s Body Image class was on Parents, Peers, and Body Image. Usually this class is a heartbreaker for me, personal stories illustrating how parents can go awry, negatively impacting their child’s self-esteem inadvertently. It is the “you’d be so much happier if you just lost 20 pounds” comments, the “are you really going out in that” questions that dent away at a person’s body armour. But it is not only that. The other thing that we do as parents, especially as mothers, is teach our children that it is not only okay to criticize our bodies but that it is appropriate and expected. With each “I am so fat,” we teach our children that our bodies should be judged, that we can never be enough, that criticism is a necessity, that we should never be satisfied, that our body is a project and not a vehicle. But do that many parents really crticize their bodies in front of their children? Indeed. Fifty-seven percent of all girls have a mother who criticizes herself in front of her children. Maybe it is not just her body she laments but lament she does. I asked my class on Friday how many of them had a mother who criticized her body or looks in front of them, more than 50% of my students- male and female- raised their hands. I do not always adore my hair or body or whatever, but I know that none of those surface things have anything to do with my worth, and one of my commitments to my child and any future children is that I will not confuse or hurt them by making them think that I am unhappy with my life or self or that berating one’s self is not just appropriate but expected. I don’t want my children to fall into that 57% of children who have a mother who berates herself, not just because of what it says about me and my satisfaction with life, but because of what it might do to them one day. Today, if you are a mother or expect to one day be a mother, can you make the commitment to be in the 43% percent of mothers who don’t let self-criticism fall from their lips? If we each make that commitment, that number changes and with that number changing, we all change.
It was Monday morning, January 26, 2009, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Just an hour or so before we met the other families from our agency who were meeting their children on this same day. None of us had slept the night before, anticipating what was to come, our last nights as the families that we had been, the eve of the families we were becoming. The clock ticked past the time our children were supposed to arrive and closer and closer to our futures, futures we had probably imagined a million times, futures we had no idea of, really. I ran upstairs to our room for something – now, I can’t remember what – and in that one minute, the van with our children arrived and they all unloaded into our courtyard. Running back down the stairs, I crossed the doorway into the common area.
“They are here,” BF told me. Even now, I tear at this memory: I am standing in this common area, not yet at the door. This is the last moment of never having laid eyes on my son, one more step and I will know his face for the rest of time.
I moved towards the doorway and my eyes darted over the older children, each one a picture of sweetness, of shyness, of hope. And then, there, in the middle of the courtyard was a nanny that I recognized from photographs and a baby boy who was our son. I stopped, paused on that doorframe, suddenly struck by the metaphor of crossing this threshold: our baby boy so beautiful, so healthy, so joyful, just steps away from me, and I on the precipe of hoping I could be the mother he deserved. I made my way towards him, towards his nanny, and in Amharic that I had practiced for days, I told her how healthy he was, how strong he was, how thankful we were for all the care she had given him. We knew how small he had been when he was brought to the care house; it was evident how much she had done to make him thrive. To meet us, she had put him in pajamas we had sent two months before. I cried. I marveled. I reached my fingers out to him. And that baby boy, magnetic, charismatic, magic even then, reached right back.
That is it, isn’t it? The magic of how families form– whether they are biological or adoptive or married into or assumed over time. We make gestures, we extend, we reach, and, in the space between feeling and knowing, someone reaches back and a finger, a palm, pressed lips, something, becomes a life line, the umbilical cord of sustenance, making the union complete.
The Art of the Personal Essay with Rosie Molinary
The Art of the Personal Essay is a four week workshop that allows the participant to discuss the art of personal essay writing, explore memoir writing elements, complete several essays, receive feedback on their writing, and begin revising their pieces.
Mondays, February 1st-22nd, 2:30 pm until 4 pm
Tuesdays, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
February 16th – March 23rd
Discovering Your Belief with Rosie Molinary
This I Believe is a popular NPR series that invites everyday people to share a brief essay on something they absolutely believe to be true. From the simple to the profound, essayists selected by NPR share their beliefs in radio spots aired locally and nationally. In this workshop, participants will begin brainstorming and drafting a This I Believe statement that they may wish to complete and submit to NPR on their own for consideration.
March 1, 2010, 2:30 pm until 4 pm
Writing Your Life with Rosie Molinary
Self-reflection gives us a much needed pause. It allows us a moment of inquiry, a moment to identify desire and potential. Generating awareness and then moving to personal solutions takes time and thought, brainstorming and checking in, enough repetition to want to change our choices and build a new habit, and the knowledge of why this habit will be good for us when we want to revert. Journaling predisposes us to a more successful embrace of our self and our choices. In this workshop, participants will discuss the importance of journaling and will actively engage in a range of journaling tools and practices.
March 15, 2010 ,2:30 pm until 4 pm
We have been so lucky to be chosen as the recipient of this year’s BlackOut Belk proceeds. What is BlackOut Belk? It is an annual event where the Davidson College athletics department sells
black t-shirts for fans to wear during a select game and a local non-profit receives the proceeds from the shirt sale and an opportunity to introduce itself to that game’s fans. BlackOut Belk is January 28th at 7 pm and we’ll be in the lobby of Belk Arena from 6 pm through halftime sharing the Circle de Luz mission with fans. We want to invite you to join the fun. Instructions below tell you how to buy a ticket (and have $1 from the ticket sale go to Circle de Luz).
Media consumption. It’s been on my mind lately. I try to make sure the little one doesn’t consume much media (which isn’t hard because he has zero interest in Brian Williams and his news), that we are more outdoors than indoors, that he develops an engagement with life and not media. As I teach semester after semester of my body image class, I am becoming ever more cognizant of the role the media plays in influencing how young people feel about their bodies. So much so, that I am having my students go on media diet later this semester (something that I am sure will win me professor of the year). I personally resist different forms of the media– knowing that if I engage, I will never be able to unengage– while knowing that the media is a wonderful way to get information, to expand my exposure, to realize new ways of thinking. It’s complex, isn’t it?
But today, I had the good fortune of being a guest on an NPR show that I love, Tell Me More. Hosted by Michel Martin, Tell Me More. The topic of our conversation was a recent studio that revealed that the average eight to eighteen year old spends more than 7 1/2 hours with media each day, seven days a week. For Latino and African-American children and teens, that number JUMPS up to 13 hours (a day, yes). On the program, we discuss reasons why minority children might take in so much media, what the consequences are, and what parents should do with this information. I’ll share the link to the audio with you once I have it.
In the meantime, I am curious about your thoughts on media. How much media do you take in a day (computer, television, video games, audio, movies)? If you have children, do you worry about their media consumption? Does media consumption matter? Are there rules in your house about media consumption?
The words for the year shared here were just so inspiring (in fact, so inspiring that each person made me want to claim their word for my word for the year).
Here are the words that were shared…
From Jenny K.: RELAX. Although my acquaintances likely take me for a happy-go-lucky girl, my good friends and close family understand that I have a VERY hard time relaxing. Guys, I have trouble relaxing during full-body massages and yoga class. I’ve been told that it’s the result of my mind’s chemistry, and I’m sure that’s right…but sometimes I find brief moments where I’m truly present, happy, and RELAXED, and the whole world looks different. I can feel my body buzzing with life, see the beautiful colors around me, and notice and appreciate the wonderful life I’ve made for myself. If in 2010 I could have more of these moments…and turn them into minutes…and go from there…how great that would be.
From Laura P.: Presence. In a year where I sense there will be lots of opportunities to worry about what is to come, I want to be able to truly soak up the moments as they come to me without anxiety about the next step. I can be so bad about enjoying what I have while I have it, and I want to focus on allowing myself to enjoy each piece of life as it comes.
From Holly S.: My word this year is Resilience. I have a lot of change coming up this year that should bring me to a wonderful place in life for 2011 but first I have to make it through 2010. This year I am trusting that my past experiences, personal strength, and supportive friends will get me through the in-between time with grace and hopefully that I will learn to be a stronger, more resilient woman for having gone through the experiences and changes ahead.
From Liz S.: My word for this year is: faith. I’ve had a very blessed few years, and now I find myself constantly waiting for things to go wrong — the other shoe to drop, so to speak. No way to live life. So this year I want to have faith — not that everything will always go well, but that I will find the resilience in myself and through the support of family and friends to respond to the challenges that do arise.
From Kelley C: RECLAMATION – “the conversion of wasteland into land suitable for use of habitation or cultivation.” After 5.5 years of full time parenting, I am in reclamation mode . . .for me and for my little loves.
From Lisette: Acceptance. Of myself and others.
And my mother and father in law emailed in their words for the year: Faith and Sustainable (respectively).
BF pulled the names of drawing winners this morning: Kelley wins a copy of Hijas Americanas and Holly wins a scarf from Ethiopia!
And now for some quick reflection on my word for the year: WELLNESS. I am signed up for a race in March so I better get running or it’ll be miserable (and then the rains come so I can’t run outdoors. Yeah, I could if Iwas hard core but I am so not hard core. And then Happy Candelas gets a wicked cold so I can’t take him to the gym’s child watch. And now I’m sick. So there has been a week and a half of no running which means my wellness focus has, um, turned to my food and sleep and other variables I can control right now). So, my wellness goals this week is to get my daily fruit and veggie intake up to a minimum of five (so that it can one day reach the government recommendation of 9), get my three runs in and at least two other cross training workouts, and to get at least seven hours of sleep a night. More next week on whether or not I pull it off or descend back into the path of least resistance.
For the last week, I, like all of you, have just been heartbroken over the earthquake and the resulting devastation – the further devastation of a country where many people already suffered greatly. Because we have adopted and the stories of orphans have been prominent in the news coverage, many people have told us that they can’t help but think of us during this time or they ask us what we know about providing relief dollars for orphans in Haiti. I have worried and prayed over everyone in Haiti and have paid ever close attention to the stories of Haiti’s children. I have wondered what I can do now and in the future, and I have also wondered other things – what if this had happened in Ethiopia, what if it one day happens in Ethiopia and I need to find the words to guide my boy through it, what if I am separated by a future child one day not just by the process of adoption but by disaster as well.
A blog that I read is called Party of Five. It’s written by the thoughtful parents of three beautiful children. They have five-year-old twin boys who were adopted from Haiti as infants and a little girl who is about 18 months. These last two weeks, they have been living with grief for what they have lost as a family and what a country they care greatly about has lost while grappling with how to explain the fate of a child’s country of origin in a compassionate and sensitive way. I encourage you to read this post, In the Wake of the Earthquake. It starts…
When the boys crawled into bed with us early on Wednesday morning we told them about the earthquake. Braydon and I had been up practically the whole night, watching the television in disbelief. “There was a big earthquake in Haiti last night,” I said. And then, gently, snuggled together, all four of us twisted up tight under the covers, “and lots of people died.” Owen’s first response came quick: “Is my birthmother o.k.?” It should go without saying how profound it is that this is what he first said. Generally speaking, in the raising of our children, we go by a rule of thumb passed on to me by my own mother: we answer their questions as honestly as possible, and we answer only what is specifically being asked (as hard as that is to do sometimes).
Come on. Play along. I have goodies for you and a deep desire to know your word. Ready to share your word? Go here.
A few weeks ago, I posted this on the blog:
The book. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. I sat my fanny down in my chair all day long yesterday and typed and typed and typed. My fanny and wrists may never be the same, but this book is almost done. That sound you hear? The soundtrack to my dance of joy. Although, it will soon be replaced by the soundtrack of anxiety and nerves. See, turning a book into an editor is sort of like telling someone you love him/her first. You just don’t have any idea what he or she is going to say back. You think that it might be that he or she loves you, too, but there’s that minute of silence (or in the case of turning in a book and waiting, weeks, weeks of silence). And that silence is maddening! What does it mean? Did the tilting of his head as he heard me say it mean he loves me too? Or does it mean he pities me. Ay.
And here is the good news I have to report today: My editor was happy with the very first draft of the book I turned in. All those hours I spent flattening my fanny in my desk chair? So. worth. it. Seriously, I had a posse of first readers who read their tails off and sent me boatloads of notes and suggestions. Each one of them is a ROCK STAR. There aren’t words enough to thank them, though I’ve tried to find some to do that very thing.
That sound you hear? Again, the soundtrack of my dance of joy. You’ve never seen my dance of joy. It would make you laugh, I promise. It’s not quite as funny as this dance, nor do I take myself quite so seriously while I am doing it, but I thought I would post this video here today as a little gift. Because, today, I am all about giving gifts. Isn’t that how we all feel when the person in question says I love you back?
And now for some Molinary family trivia. When my sister’s hair is long, she looks like Julia Louis Dreyfus. Yeah, I don’t at all, but she does. Go figure. Maybe she dances like her, too.
The last week has been intense for all of us, but not really as intense for those who live in Haiti and who have loved ones in Haiti. Wanting to have a positive impact, wanting to send our love tangibly to Haiti, BF and I have been looking into where we might send donations. You likely have, too, and the Salvation Army, American Red Cross, and others have done a wonderful job of setting up really fast, efficient, accessbile ways to donate. Those are great organizations who do good work. Those dollars will go far. In addition to general earthquake relief, we have been moved by our awareness of the orphan crisis to assist in that area as well. Our family will celebrate one year of being together on January 26, 2010. One of the things we planned to do to celebrate that day was to make a donation to an organziation that provided orphan care. Humbled by our celebration in the midst of so much sadness, our donation will be made to Heartline Ministries, Inc., a 501c3 organization who has spent over 20 years in Haiti doing humanitarian work, adoptions, and education. If you are looking for another way to positively impact Haiti’s recovery, perhaps Heartline makes sense for you as well.
When unspeakable tragedy strikes, it reminds us to hold our loved ones close. The earthquake in Haiti is a horrible way to be reminded of our need to be grounded in our love, rooted in our engagement to humanity. And because of its sheer devastation, because it would be unspeakable to forget what matters in the face of this tragedy, we must, today and everyday, make the commitment to embrace what really matters. This is what I am reminding myself of today and, hopefully everyday.