Wednesday, June 3, 2015

POSTED: Thursday, February 13, 2014, 5:00 AM
Meredith’s Story

“Amy, can you meet us at the hospital in an hour?” my doula client asks. “We are trying to decide what to do.”

“Of course. I’ll be there soon Meredith.” I hang up my phone and take a deep breath.

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POSTED: Tuesday, January 28, 2014, 5:00 AM
circa 1952: Little Peter Moore throws a temper tantrum while on a visit to Bournemouth, Dorset. (Photo by Evening Standard (Getty Images)

What is a tantrum? 

According to the National Association of School Psychologists, a tantrum occurs when a young child, usually between the ages of 1-1/2 to 4, experiences a mixture of anger and sadness to the point where he or she loses control. A child doesn’t consciously choose to have a tantrum. A tantrum is an overwhelming expression of feeling that is frightening for a child to experience. It’s also hard to watch as a parent. 

In 2011, two researchers at the University of Minnesota collected a large amount of data on tantrums. "We have the most quantitative theory on tantrums that has ever been developed in the history of humankind," remarked Professor Michael Potegal in a National Public Radio interview. By placing small microphones in the clothing of toddlers, hundreds of tantrums were recorded. The recordings were compiled and the vocalizations characteristic of tantrums were charted according to angry and sad tones. While these tones overlapped, it was clear that after the angry tones peaked, the sad tones dominated.

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POSTED: Tuesday, January 14, 2014, 3:00 AM
April 1950: New born babies in an American hospital. (Photo by Three Lions (Getty Images)

“My penis was cut without my consent and without good reason. This will not happen to our son.” My husband speaks with clarity and conviction.

Long before we became parents, my husband carefully researched the subject of male genital cutting, commonly called circumcision. His opposition to the practice is two-fold. First, there is the question of consent. Small children -- let alone infants -- have no capacity to consent to the surgical removal of sound body parts. Secondly, there is no compelling medical need to cut off healthy genital tissue. The cutting of male or female genitals is a socially constructed practice often linked to group identity or religious doctrine.

“He doesn’t need to look like me,” he continued. “I want him to remain as nature intended.”

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POSTED: Tuesday, January 7, 2014, 10:30 AM
circa 1950: A woman sitting in a chair breast-feeding her baby. (Photo by Three Lions (Getty Images)

Attached to my left hip and resting snuggly in his carrier, Taber spent the afternoon with me exploring downtown Philadelphia. At one point, we took refuge from the winter chill in a Catholic church. The golden tones of stained glass portraits added to the sweetness of carrying my little one throughout the day. We rested there. He nursed. I prayed for everyone to know such peace. On the way back to the train, we stopped to watch a crew of skateboarders perform cement-defying tricks. The free spirited, longhaired boys made my tired little one laugh. We were both weary after a full day. I looked forward to going home, putting Taber down for a nap, and meditating.

While waiting on the platform for our train, a young woman approached us. Dark roots and poorly applied red dye marked her greasy hair. Her long fingernails were painted with fading rainbows of mismatched colors. She smiled at us. I focused my gaze on her eyes. They were friendly, sad, and sought connection. Taber snuggled in closer to me. I could have found a skillful way to ignore her, but I didn’t. I looked at Taber. He trusted me with every cell of his tender goodness. My task was to navigate life’s beautiful and treacherous waters with his well being foremost in my consciousness. I placed a reassuring hand on Taber’s back, and I chose to connect to her.

I set aside my own agenda to daydream on the way home and focused on the life story unfolding in front of me. At one point, the young woman described the drama leading up to her losing her job as a restaurant cook. Fired when a new owner took over, she lamented her unemployed status. “It’s been really hard,” she said. Currently, she could afford to eat only one meal a day. I offered her a banana from my backpack and continued to listen.

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POSTED: Wednesday, December 18, 2013, 3:00 AM
I recently interviewed Louise Inderrieden about cancer at Christmas. May her words be helpful to all who struggle with major illnesses at this time of year.

It’s a quiet day in the hospital. My footsteps echo down the cold, clean corridor. I pass the gift shop and notice red and green tinsel decorations signifying the season of celebration and light.

As a chaplain, I witness people grieve, love, heal, and die. How to wrestle with the reality of the body’s fragility – of the body’s inevitable date with death – at a time when so much of the world celebrates a joyful birth? The juxtaposition between the lights of communal cheer and each individual patient’s pain weighs heavy.

“Cancer at Christmas,” I say softly as I turn the corner and enter the oncology floor. “Many blessings to all with cancer at Christmas.”

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POSTED: Friday, December 6, 2013, 10:49 AM
May your pregnancy unfold with ease.
Oh, you who radiate life
A blessing

May your pregnancy unfold with ease
May gentleness surround you

Joy for precious days
Days of two hearts beating in one body

You radiate wonder
Inspiring poetry, art, worship of ancients

Trust your body
This process and your unique pregnancy path

Soon to emerge as mother
May kindness guide your hands

Oh, you who radiate life
Birth blessings 

May you move with the wisdom of breath
Of your animal form

Of your gorgeous heart
Courage be yours

Radiating mother-to-be
I marvel at your light

For I remember those days
Holy days of goddess awe
And gratitude beyond measure fills me

May it be so for you
And even more
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POSTED: Tuesday, November 26, 2013, 2:05 PM
One way to strengthen our capacity to love is through the practice of “metta” or loving-kindness meditation.

As we move into the Thanksgiving season, the vibrant energy of loving-kindness offers true sustenance. The importance of delicious holiday food pales in comparison to the love of family and friends. The presence of loving-kindness constitutes what matters most around the Thanksgiving table.

However, some of us arrive at Thanksgiving celebrations with trepidation in our hearts. Family discord, addictions, secrets, anger, or sadness often turn the potential beauty of this holiday into an unhappily attended obligatory event. Can the experience of such difficulty be transformed?

Relationships with emotionally unhealthy people are challenging. Their difficulty is compounded by the fact that no matter how much we may wish to transform another, we can only change ourselves. While difficult people may remain unaltered, we can choose to strengthen our capacity of extending positive and loving energy towards them. In doing so, we transform.

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POSTED: Monday, November 11, 2013, 10:54 AM
Through the window of a shoe store, this young girl and I watched each other. Eventually, I was able to get her to smile. Yet, it is this photo that stays with me. Where is she now? How will her future unfold? (Amy Wright Glenn/Philly.com)

I pull my 22-month-old son along in the hand-made red, wooden wagon my husband built last Christmas.  We enjoy our familiar “wagon rides” to our local Walgreens. The cashier with wildly adorned, seasonally inspired hats greets us with a smile. I pull my son through the aisles picking up his favorite Pirate Booty “puffs” and a few odds and ends.

As we move through the checkout line, I catch the headline news. For the first time in over 30 years, the president of the United States and the president of Iran communicate via phone. Hope for the eventual thawing of a cold political stalemate fills my heart. I look closely at the photo of President Obama on the phone. Instantly, I am transported to another time and place

“That will be $6.85,” the cashier says.

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About this blog
Amy Wright Glenn earned her MA in Religion and Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. She taught in The Religion and Philosophy Department at The Lawrenceville School in New Jersey for over a decade. While at Lawrenceville, Amy was the recipient of the Dunbar Abston Jr. Chair for Teaching Excellence. She is a Kripalu Yoga teacher, a DONA certified birth doula, and a hospital chaplain. Her work has appeared in International Doula. She recently published her first book: Birth, Breath, and Death: Meditations on Motherhood, Chaplaincy, and Life as a Doula.

 

Reach Amy at amywrightglenn@gmail.com.

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