Word Winding

attempting to spin cacophony into sanity

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Harnessing Inertia

Life decisions are often made in the shadow of an 8am class. We all have wide-ranging interests, but not all of them are compelling enough to lure our eighteen-year-old selves out of bed. By process of elimination, the college classes we are willing to wake up for become the path we pursue.

But those almost-majors, the ones who didn’t make the 8am cut, they still trail along in our wake, ghost-careers that either haunt us or enrich our quirky selves, depending on whether our chosen vocation is currently going well.

I’m a serious physics nerd. The test of my love came in the form of early morning Calculus freshman year; I’d received college credit for AP Calculus, so this class was only required if I wanted to be a physics major. I decided against it by the end of the first week. I like math a lot… but not in the morning. When it came to Counterpoint at a similarly incomprehensibly early hour the following year, however, I magically managed to propel myself out of bed and over to the music building, often in pajamas and occasionally without breakfast, but nonetheless present and enthusiastically engaged. Music major, chosen.

I may have become a musician rather than a physicist (and don’t regret it), but my affection for the subject remains, and I find it frequently moonlights in the realm of analogy.

My latest one has to do with inertia and momentum.

Some folks roll into change with grace and even appear to relish the opportunity. Others resist novelty with every fiber of their being. Some are happy habit formers and others can’t seem to follow a consistent pattern for the life of them.

I’ve concluded this must be because we all have different mass.

We commonly think of inertia only in terms of resistance to motion. But the scientific definition speaks of resistance to changes in motion: essentially, the more massive the object in question, the more it wants to continue whatever it is currently doing, be that sitting still or rocketing along at high speeds.

It is a curious thing, and not one I’d considered until recently, but for those of us who take longer to get off our asses and do something, once we finally do we are kind of unstoppable, are we not? Whereas those of us who can more easily flit between activities, we may transition with envious spontaneity, but sustaining effort can be more of a challenge.

If you, like me, harbor a joy for physics or analogy or both, try assessing your momentum and that of those around you. Not empirically better or worse, just different. It may take more force to get a massive stone rolling, but it also takes a whole lot to stop it. It may be easy to derail a pebble, but it takes a tiny amount of energy to get it going again. We all have different challenges, but they are matched by our strengths, if we can only see them in the right light.

If you struggle to start anything new, see what it does to remind yourself how well you retain habits after the initial formation period. For you, it takes a lot of strength at the beginning, but then you are something of a cannonball.

If you find it tough to keep your nose to the grindstone, try to notice how quickly you reignite after each stumble, leaping up dancer-like to begin anew.

And what if you’re in the middle and therefore seem to sway from one camp to the other, like me?

Well, as you may know, friction also plays a card in this game. So sometimes I’m moonwalking across kitchen linoleum and sometimes I’m swamp-tromping with the bullfrogs, knee-deep in muck. Different day, different texture. If you are at one extreme or the other, the texture changes aren’t going to affect your basic strategy too much, but if you’re in the middle, you may need to periodically assess which way you’re leaning.

This analogy works well for me because it ushers blame, shame, and denial politely but firmly out of the equation and unearths plain truth, which is so much easier to grapple with.

So what if I’m as massive as an iceburg? It might help to fuel up as best I can as early in the day as possible and then expend my effort toward launching into action, knowing that I’m likely to sustain whatever pace I set.

Or let’s say I have a student who eagerly tackles even the most devilishly challenging of new pieces but needs a lot of help staying focused for polishing. Ok. I’ve got a pebble here. I need to work with that. Addressing them as a boulder is never going to get us anywhere.

If I am to grow in any positive way I need to come to terms with who I am and who I’d like to become, and then stockpile tools that take my own unique set of strengths and challenges into account. Same goes for my approach to my kids and students. Inertia can be my undoing or my key to success — my perspective makes the difference.

Because objects in motion tend to stay in motion…


…and objects at rest, well, you know.



Mission Accomplished: No More Placental Procrastination

We have had a placenta in our freezer for over two years.

In that time, we have planted a startling number of little fruit trees, each time failing to remember to include said placenta.

It would turn up occasionally as we scoured the freezer for ground beef or veggies, almost cheekily… a popsicle of a punchline.

I took to scrawling “placenta” on ziplock bags of cooked, peeled, juicy red beets. Thor wrote “not placenta” on some meat destined for the freezer. For clarity.


It seemed likely we would be those crazy old people torturing our children by refusing to be parted from a fifty-seven year old freezer-burnt placenta. Which they finally would pry out of our feeble hands moments before dropping us off at the nearest nursing home.

Instead, despite several mundane mishaps we miraculously managed to do the deed this time; in thwumped the placenta, along with some hair from the kids’ first haircuts so both would have contributed to the tree’s growth, since we didn’t keep Owlet’s placenta.

The goods! No, Granny, we did not put all of the first haircut hair in, just a lock of each.


Action shot! And super cute siblingness.


the other baby blog

holding a sacred space for our childrenAs any parent knows, the size of a person’s emotions has nothing to do with the size of his body.

Babies and toddlers stretch us emotionally by confronting us with feelings that we’ve been taught to dismiss, ignore, or stuff down to get by in Western societies. After all, it wouldn’t be cool for an adult to throw a temper tantrum in a mall or at the supermarket.

To avoid the squashing of emotion, we parents are taught to validate their children’s emotions – giving the feelings names, and letting the kid know it’s okay to feel the way he feels. This is a powerful tool for helping a child navigate the world, and knowing he’s got someone in his corner.

The tool we’ll explore today takes that validation a step further, and it doesn’t necessarily involve words. It’s also incredibly healing to the adult who can pull it off…

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As you gather with family and friends this week, soaking up love and light, send some to a dear little elf to help him on his way. He is full of new life-giving marrow and is healing now in earnest!

C is for Crocodile

On the first side of transplant–the days leading up to the big day, we talk about days in negatives (“Day -9”), but now that we are post transplant, each day is numbered as a positive.

Today is Day +2.

Both today and yesterday, we have gone back and forth between talking about Caemon as a caterpillar newly wrapped in his cocoon and a hibernating bear cub. The bear cub comparison may be coming as a result of the continuous loop of Berenstain Bears videos now playing in his room. He finds their stories very comforting, a little funny, and a good escape from how miserable he feels. It is fairly charming to hear him quoting Mama Bear with her slightly antiquated speech, and given that the theme of the video is looking at the bright side of situations, it all seems fairly appropriate, even if it is driving Jodi and…

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Everyone, near and far, your thoughts are welcome on Dec 3rd and 12th and every other day, too. Let’s heal this wonderful boy.

C is for Crocodile

The message below is from our dear friend Carol, who, among many other things, organizes the Caring for Caemon Facebook page. We hope you will take part in this special event to help generate light and love around this next step on our path.


On December 3, 2012, Caemon is scheduled to enter the Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) unit to begin preparation for his transplant.  The transplant itself is planned for December 12, 2012.

Preparation, or conditioning, consists of 10 days of very intensive chemotherapy which will destroy all his current bone marrow.  Then the new marrow will be introduced.

This conditioning phase is known to be very challenging for the recipient as well as the caregivers.  The patient becomes quite sick, even too sick to eat after a certain point.  He is very isolated and a great deal of precaution is taken to be sure no germs come…

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This is one of the best posts I’ve read in a long time. Enjoy.

Pro-Choice Life-Chooser

[Originally written on October 11th, 2010.]

Why I’m a Pro-Choice Life-Chooser (you could be one, too!)

First, let me establish to whom I am speaking. There are two groups of Anti-Abortionists (which is more accurate a term than Pro-Lifers; here’s a great article on the late Dr. Tiller and what pro-life really means: http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/forum/2010-05-28-cohen28_ST_N.htm). One group is the people for whom abortion is a cover story for a much larger agenda (you can read about them here: http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/2010/10/10/abortion-often-relationship-abortion). The other group, the ones I’d love to reach, are the ones who, like me, could never abort their own child.

Becoming (intentionally) pregnant last year and feeling my tiny baby grow has solidified both my pro-choice stance and my life-choosing belief. And now, seeing her spring into the world and unfold as a person, I feel, if anything, more strongly about it. The reason I’m writing about abortion now, though, is Utah, a state that felt left out, I guess, in all the hubbub about Arizona’s insane immigration legislation. Utah is planning to blur the lines between abortion and miscarriage, and that simply cannot be allowed. Please read more about this here: http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2010/2/24/840197/-Please-Help:-Utah-defines-miscarriage-as-criminal-homicide.

I have always been pro-choice, because to oppose choice seemed immediately to open up a can of worms, starting with the incest/rape argument that a surprising number of anti-abortionists agree with. Several years back I want door-to-door in NH on behalf of Planned Parenthood with my step-sister Victoria, just conducting a survey, and we found people who self-identified as against abortion that then said, yes, rape and incest were valid grounds for abortion. They usually also agreed that it should be permitted to save the life of the mother. If only they were willing to vote in alignment with those beliefs.

I’ve always been pro-choice, but I’ve also always suspected that, even under terrible circumstances (which in my imagination range from a high school pregnancy to rape), I wouldn’t be able to kill a tiny spark of life inside of me. And I think there are a lot of people who agree with that, and many who therefore extrapolate that no one should be allowed to extinguish that little life beginning. Here’s where it gets interesting, because while I do believe an unborn child is a life (gasp!), I don’t believe it is murder if a mother chooses to end that life.

I find this especially true if the mother is:

  • a child (I hope we can all agree that’s just crazy)
  • going to die as a result of pregnancy/labor/birth
  • a victim of rape/incest
  • likely to either attempt an amateur abortion or commit suicide if safe abortion is not an option. This is often due to being in conditions prohibitive to baby-raising (still in school, financially unstable, physically unsafe, etc.)
  • in an abusive relationship – alarmingly enough, some sick and twisted men are actually tricking or forcing their wives/girlfriends into pregnancy as another means of controlling them: http://www.newsweek.com/2010/01/26/coerced-reproduction.html. Who thinks that is a good environment in which to raise a child?

I hope you close your eyes and force your squeamish mind to imagine the above situations. I know, I know, I don’t like to picture such things either. But if you are anti-abortion, you need to know what the results *will* be from a blanket ban that, at first glance, might sound like a good thing. Because they already happen now. How exponentially will they increase if abortion is no longer legal? I can hear you saying, well, in my utopia there’d be legal channels through which permission to abort could be obtained. But how often do you really think a girl or woman in the above circumstances will make it to court? And should she really be forced into the spotlight to prove rape, incest, abuse, or other extenuating circumstances? How do you think the man responsible is going to feel about her seeking an abortion, especially if he got her pregnant intentionally? Mad, enough to endanger her life along with the unborn child’s? Moreover, are the often-glacial courts equipped to rule on each and every abortion case… before the kid is born?

I’m not sure the pro-choice argument should have to go beyond the above… those arguments should already be plenty compelling enough. However, I would like to suggest a parallel to that great legislative disaster, Prohibition. Outlawing something that so many people do is not likely to stop it, but rather will make it more dangerous due to lack of regulation. Among other things.

On the other hand, I hear you saying, prosecuting murderers doesn’t seem to end murder in this country, but the majority of us agree it is important to do. Okay, let’s tackle that one. We hope to catch a murderer and remove them from society mostly to prevent further murdering by that person, and also as a general statement to the public that “murder is bad,” correct? However, a person who aborts her child, usually after a long and painful decision-making process, is not going to go around forcing others to abort theirs. Someone who did would certainly already be prosecutable under existing laws. And a “serial abortionist?” I think we can all agree someone who gets pregnant for the joy of aborting the resultant child is not exactly parent material anyway. Moreover, I doubt such a person exists. The enormous emotional and spiritual trauma of terminating a pregnancy aside, the physical trauma ranges from uncomfortable (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, spotting and bleeding) to severe (heavy or persistent bleeding, infection or sepsis, damage to the cervix, scarring of the uterine lining, perforation of the uterus, damage to other organs) and can occasionally result in death of the mother. It is not something a person does for kicks.

I spent a moment here and there in pregnancy and now, in early motherhood, thinking about how much harder it would be if I had been forced into it. Three months of all-day morning sickness. Growing less and less able to move. Not to mention labor, followed by very little sleep and frequent high-pitched wailing from an entirely helpless being for whom I am responsible. What made it exciting and fun and deeply meaningful for me was my strong desire to have a child, my enormous love for her father, and being in acceptable physical, mental, emotional, and financial condition. Subtract any of those and you might wind up with a mother for whom abortion is the responsible decision, not just for her own life but on behalf of the life that child would otherwise experience.

Do you really still need convincing? If so, I don’t know if I can change your mind. That was always a possibility, I guess. But if it helps, take time to consider all of the women who, given the choice, do decide to have the child. Who embrace the beauty of raising a life, maybe even one born out of tragic or abusive circumstances. I don’t believe it is wrong that these children are treasured in part because they were willingly born, and that to take away the choice is to take away a bit of that special phoenixesque love or, at the very least, delay its emergence from the clouds of despair and resentment.

In conclusion, it would be nice if certain political parties would go back to actually preferring small government, as they profess to do… they’d still moan about health care spending and the like, but at least we’d find ourselves threatened by fewer personal restrictions as to whom we can marry and whether we must incubate an alien life form… or risk dying trying not to.

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