Anger and Spirituality Are Not Mutually Exclusive

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Kali, the Hindu goddess of death, destruction, creation, fertility, healing, and compassion.

I’ve been thinking a lot about anger. I’m working with it at home in my efforts to quit yelling at my kids. While I navigate that process, I’ve also been thinking about how anger plays a role in our responses to the injustice, corruption, and violence we see in our world. Unfortunately, there’s been no shortage of material for this kind of exploration.

There’s also no shortage of pressure in spiritual growth culture to beware of negative emotions and be all about positivity and good vibes at all times.

Having the sole mission to spread love and inspire others with positive messages is one way to serve, and we need more of this for sure. And there are other valid ways of being in the world that are a little more down and dirty, but can still effect positive change. Anger has its rightful place in this realm, as the call to direct action and the generator of energy. Continue reading

Monster Mom Meltdowns: Forgiving Ourselves and Making Amends

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Photo credit: Luc Latulippe

I’m a believer in peaceful, gentle parenting. And I’m a yeller. Not from the beginning, though.   As challenged as some parents are by toddler behavior, I rarely felt angry with my children until age around age 4. Apparently, I view toddlers as cute and impulsive little wild animals, and thus have few behavioral expectations at that age.  For my first 3+ years of motherhood, I was so proud of myself for my infinite patience and obvious knack for this parenting thing.

That was short-lived, because boy, can they trigger me now! Continue reading

Belonging, Where You Least Expect It

IMG_6557By the time we took our most recent trip to India, our fifth, this radically different and magical place had become familiar to me. I am used to the color, the beauty, the tragedy and the chaos. I am used to the horse drawn carts alongside huge top-loaded semi trucks, free roaming livestock, and entire families on motorcycles all together on busy main roads. I am used to seeing roadside barbers and bicycle carts carrying anything you can imagine, including furniture, and the hustle-bustle of the street markets that photos and video can’t capture. I am used to seeing slum shacks and pigs and cows foraging in giant garbage piles in residential areas as women walk by wearing the most beautiful, colorful clothes. My husband no longer gets a sore arm from me hitting it every two seconds, saying, “Oh my God, look at THAT!”   Continue reading

An East-West Love Story’s Strange Beginning

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In 5 days, my husband, our two boys and I leave for India. This is our fifth trip, our third with kids in tow. The picture above is G and I the day we left for our first trip to India together 13 years ago.

As I make lists, run errands, and get out suitcases, scenes from previous trips always play in my mind. This time, that first trip is coming back to me the most. Continue reading

Stories About Circumcision: One Midwife’s Perspective

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Circumcision can be a touchy subject. Parents are in the unenviable position of having to make this important and permanent decision for their sons with a lot of conflicting information. Those who choose to fully investigate the issue find an overwhelming spectrum of opinions amidst the facts, and most will encounter heated debate in the media, their social circles, or even within their own families. They hear from staunch defenders on medical, cultural, or religious grounds. They hear from others who consider the procedure unnecessary but relatively benign.  They hear from those who see it as a human rights violation, ethically no different from female circumcision common to other cultures.

As you may have guessed, I am among those who hopes cultural change will make circumcision a distant memory. In the future, I suspect we will all be scratching our heads in disbelief that this is what we used to do to almost all our baby boys.   Continue reading

Are Women’s Birth Sounds Silenced in the Hospital?

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Attention birthing women: This will be the hardest work of your life. It will test you on every level. Childbirth education is very helpful, yet there’s no way to know how you will feel physically and emotionally until you’re in it. There are many schools of thought on how to cope, what to call the forces of labor (contractions or surges?), and how to label the feeling (pain or sensation?). I like to keep it simple: it’s really hard, and yeah, it hurts. And, you are stronger than you know, and you can do it. Whether or not you plan to use pain medication or epidural anesthesia, know that you have what it takes within you to get through however many contractions you choose to feel fully.   Do your preparation, trust in the birth process, and believe in yourself.

But once you get to the hospital, whatever you do, for God’s sake, maintain some decorum and do it quietly! And if you can’t do that on your own, we’ve got something for you that will fix that problem quite nicely.  Then, we can ALL be comfortable.

Is that the unspoken message women receive from hospital staff during labor?   Continue reading

Lessons From Books (Not the kind you think…)

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As some of you know, I’m in the process of a massive decluttering project using the KonMari Method from the book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. The author recommends purging by category rather than area or room. Per the suggested order, I did clothes first, and after a long break during which life happened, this week I finally moved on to books.

Before I read the chapter on books, I was dreading this category, having always found it near impossible to part with books.   I did one purge already last winter, but only got rid of a couple boxes. After reading Kondo’s chapter on books, I felt excitement rather than dread because she gave me new ways to think about it that made sense to me.   Continue reading

The Gift of Ritual

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Sometime during the year after Boy 2 was born, depression snuck up on me. I had experienced several bouts of it since adolescence, but it took a while for me to figure out what was happening since it came on gradually and I had some legitimate stressors to pin it on. Once I finally accepted that it was more than just situational stress, I got some counseling.   Just as important, I thought about lifestyle changes I could make—more exercise, a regular meditation practice, etc.  I was talking with my husband, Gurpreet, about that and he said very definitively, “You need to do prayers.”   Continue reading

What I’ve Learned from Our First Year Homeschooling, Part 1: FAQs

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This post also ran on KiDOinfo: Connecting Families, Rhode Island and Beyond on April 27, 2015

“Decide what your truth is.  Then live it.”  -Kamal Ravikant

We are in the 7th inning of our first year homeschooling Boy 1 (age 8). We are taking this year-by-year, and who knows? A brick and mortar school may again be the best choice for our family at some future time. For now, though, this has been a great decision for us, and Boy 2 will be home next year for kindergarten as well.

Since we started this adventure, I get a lot of questions about the challenges of this educational choice and lifestyle. Many of the things people understandably assume must be really hard have not been big issues for us.   The most common questions I get are some version of the following:   Continue reading

Say Yes.

“Say yes and you’ll figure it out afterwards.”—Tina Fey

I’ve always loved writing. Papers in school. Long letters, and later, emails. Journals. Proofreading, editing, and revising all things written for several family members.   Occasional masterfully crafted scathing texts to my husband (he insisted I include that!). That’s as far as I’ve taken it.

Now I’m 43, and as often happens in midlife, I am waking up to the precious, fleeting nature of this crazy, beautiful life. This means I want to live in alignment with what is most true for me. At long last, I must give integral parts of my being their due rather than continuing to pretend they aren’t real. (And if you’re a younger person reading this and it resonates at all, please begin NOW.) I’m claiming my writing, finally—accompanied by a few stomach butterflies, but without guilt, apology, or sheepishness. I’m doing it for me first. Yes. But I’m doing it for my loved ones, too.   Because nagging regret is a big time energy suck and joy-killer, not to mention a breeding ground for eventual bitterness. Removing a major source of all that means I have more love and more energy to give to others.

I don’t yet know all the reasons I have been holding back this part of me for decades. Fear of unworthiness as a writer surely is one. Being easily distracted is another. I may discover more over time about what took me so long. For now, I’m just happy the floodgates have opened!

I see this writing journey as part creative outlet and part spiritual practice—if there’s even any distinction between the two. The only question, then, was whether to make the journey privately via journaling or publicly via blogging. I have been floored at times by what people are willing to share on their blogs. I love that, because I get to read them. But I’ve said before that I’m much too private a person to ever do a personal blog myself.   And yet, here I am. So why would a private person like me start one? I don’t know, except to say that when I think of meeting this desire to write by simply journaling more regularly, it feels small and flat. When I think of doing more, and sharing some of it, that feels scary, but also lush and colorful and expansive. I want to do the thing that feels like more. That’s all I know, and I decided for now, it’s reason enough.

I’m ignoring all the blogging advice that says every blog must have a tight focus. Some possible topics include home, family and parenting stuff, midwifery and women’s health, homeschooling, life in a bicultural family, writing and the fledgling creative process, music, world travel, and/or spiritual growth.  Whew! Whatever the topic, I want to write about making the most of the opportunities life hands us to learn how to live and love better, and I hope to connect with others trying to do the same. If I waited for my brain to pin it down any more than that, I may never get started. So I’m saying YES first—then I’ll figure it out!

Welcome, and thanks for joining me!

Love,

Camille

© Camille Williams and Wake Up, Mama!  2015