Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘uncertainty’

A gift




I went to an art therapy group this weekend for women during this tumultuous political time. A week before the meeting the leader sent out information on the despacho ceremony we would be participating in. A despacho ceremony is a traditional Andean shamanic ritual that aligns personal intent with gratitude offerings to the earth. We were instructed to gather several offerings from our kitchen or yard to contribute. I selected a few things from my kitchen – sprouted pumpkin seeds symbolizing growth, honey to symbolize the glue that holds us all together and four mandarin oranges for health.

I had never participated in anything like this and, honestly, at first it felt a little “out there.” But as I drizzled sparkling honey over the beautiful mound of offerings a group of six passionate women had assembled I felt a surge of hope.

The honey glistened on the feathers of guinea hens, on the pinecones of Durham’s towering pines, on the flowers from my friend’s backyard, on the rocks plucked from the shallows of the Eno River, on the quinoa symbolizing our ancient ancestors, and more. It struck me just how fucking amazing it was that we were all there, in that place, at that time, creating an offering to our earth and praying for peace and guidance.

Think about it. Had one speck of dust landed differently on my drive over I might not have made it there. Had one person’s child caught the ball that another kid with norovirus had tossed, her family might have been struck with illness so she could not be there. So many things had to align perfectly so we could be together, creating amazing art that would later be burned in a fire and offered up to the earth and everyone on it.

That evening I returned to the instructional email and finally found time to read on the history of the despacho, which has its roots in the Andes, primarily in Peru and Ecuador.

“A despacho is created during a celebratory ceremony. In the cosmology of the Andes, all life is perceived as one grand, infinite ceremony. Because physical survival is so hard in the high mountains, life is experienced as a true gift to be lived, not a problem to be solved. ” 

That last line made me stop dead in my tracks. I have been watching a lot of documentaries about the evolution of man recently, fascinated by how we as a species have come so far. In one documentary, they note that as life became safer, we began to have time to start reflecting and creating. For me, we became truly human then, no longer existing solely to find our next meal and reproduce. Suddenly we had a little safety, a little time to start expressing ourselves. We started to create and think deeply.

Today many Americans are, for the first time in their lives, feeling the sharp edge of uncertain survival. Climate change is here, politics are a swirling storm, new and previously eradicated diseases are on the rise, and more. We are watching the physical survival of our species and our planet become increasingly difficult.

With this in mind, perhaps we should take every challenging and frightening moment to reflect on what a gift it is that we get to feel discomfort. Because the alternative is to not feel, and not feeling may not be what is human.

So today, when my child tantrums, when my New York Times app buzzes with another alarming update, when the weather swings wildly once more, I will breathe deeply and remember that this life of uncertainty is one to be lived, not a problem to be solved. I will relish the fact that this uncertainty is letting me feel a moment of discomfort to my fullest human ability.


That lingering voice



March 2011, Canaveral National Seashore, Florida.


Our first IVF cycle is slowly approaching. Every evening I pop another dreaded birth control pill and tick another day off the calendar.

I am a slew of emotions over this cycle. One minute I’m on top of the world – “It’s going to work! I’m going to be a mommy and Mr. Husband is going to be a daddy and our cats are going to have a little kid to play with!” And the next moment I’m engulfed by all the what-ifs.

There is a third emotion that I have not yet admitted to. No matter how “ready” I am to become a mother, there is that shred of independent lady that lingers. Every now and then she whispers ” What the fuck are you doing? Don’t you know your abs will never look this good after a baby? And you are starting to run now… getting knocked up would mean no more running, spinning, etc. AND a baby means less travel and more boring “I can’t do (insert fun activity here) because of the baby.”

I am not proud to admit that these thoughts still linger. I have been avoiding mentioning it here for months because I feel that it might make me undeserving of parenthood. Maybe this shred of independent lady has marked me as “unfit” and cursed me to a lonely life of cooking dinner for two. Some days I beat myself up over these thoughts, ” I bet (insert currently pregnant blogger or friend here) never thinks about how life will never be the same. I bet she never worries about her abs. I bet she never mourns the end of running or yoga…. Shame on you, you selfish infertile.”

Other days I’m kinder. “I am sure everyone has these lingering thoughts. Surely I’m not alone. Buck up Belle and keep going. You’ll find balance between motherhood, exercise, travel and adventure.”

But then I read your stories and nowhere do I read of you mourning the loss of this carefree and selfish life. No one talks about being desperate for a baby, but still a little sad to lose the life they have had for so many years. And so as I approach my CD 1 I decided to bring the topic to the table despite my fears of readers hitting “unsubscribe.” Do you have these secret worries? Or do you think this is a sign that I should reconsider this entire process?

Next Wednesday I have my IVF training session during which we will pay a man I have only met twice $8,000 for a 35% chance at a take home baby. What do I have to do to kick this nagging voice to the curb? Or is this a natural part of a life changing event?