Can We Change?

February 24, 2011 by  
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For the last couple of weeks the topic “we are who we are” has been very much on my mind.  Using myself as the basis for my thinking I wondered how many of the changes that have taken place in my process and behavior belong to age and how many to an investment in my own development.  Followed by the question am I still the same girl who grew up in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil just older and wiser?

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PBS’s ‘This Emotional Life’: Now Is The Moment To Hold Your Child

May 9, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured

A beautiful post by Catherine Connors about living life, loving and receiving love to its fullest

Catherine Connors

Some nights, I curl up in bed with my little girl. She lays her head against my arm and grips my fingers with her tiny hand and whispers, I want you to stay here with me, Mommy.

Yes, I say. I want you to stay here with me, too.

And then I rest my cheek against the crown of her head and close my eyes and inhale the sweet, soapy smell of baby shampoo, feel the silk of her hair, listen to the whisper of her breath and I think, I want you to stay here, like this, always, curled against me, warm, safe. And I think, I want you to stay here, like this, for years and years to come, until the days when you and I no longer fit together in this wee bed, when you are grown and I am old and your arms are the stronger. When we will still find comfort in each other. When you will still be my baby, only grown.

I think these things, and I look up at the clock atop her dresser and watch as the minute hand takes one deliberate click forward. I look up at the clock and I wonder, how would it feel if I were counting these minutes? These hours? These days?

I pull her closer to me, as close as I can bring her. It is not possible to hold a child too close, I think, or for too long.

My family is losing a child. My nephew, Tanner, is dying. He has Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy, and his death is inevitable: He will die young and our hearts will break and there is nothing that we can do to stop this. It’s a slow but an inevitable loss; the hands of the clock tick forward slowly, deliberately, inexorably. We count on those hands ticking slowly; we measure their movements carefully, reassuring ourselves that the pace holds steady, that there is no leap forward, that this particular clock never advances an unnecessary hour, that our days hold ample daylight. It’s a slow loss, but an inevitable one.

We are better off, of course, for the trickling pace of this loss. We have many days, many hours, with this child. Not near as many as we would like, but still: we have time to spend and cherish, time to postpone our goodbyes and to pretend that their place on the horizon will hold its distance. My sister can wrap her body around Tanner’s and feel the beat of his heart and the warmth of his breath; she can brush her hand across his forehead and whisper in his ear and assert her love for him in the now and know, as surely as his hand tightens around hers, that he hears her, that he knows. But the clock ticks over her head – over his – and she counts these hours, these minutes, these seconds. Every movement of the minute-hand is a movement lost, a moment lost, one minute less in a cherished life that is measured by the clock.

This is why I hold my children so tightly, so often. Why I cling to them and let them cling to me and why I never, ever resist their embrace; this is why I have done this since they were born, and will do this until they pull away from me: because I do not know how many days, hours, minutes that I have with them. Because I have only now to experience them as attached to me. Because that attachment is so precious, and because I will only be able to sustain the memory of it, once it’s gone, if I let it flourish now. Because enjoying that attachment – insisting upon that attachment – goes so far to helping me keep my fear in check, to keeping me sane. They say that attachment is good for infants, that a strong physical and emotional bond between parent and child does so much to boost that child’s well-being. It is also vital to us, to parents, who need the bonding nearly as much as do our children. Perhaps more. We need it to keep us rooted, to keep us grounded, to protect us from the worst currents of our fear. We need it to insulate us from the worst effects of anxiety and uncertainty, to remind us of why we do this and why we love this, through the best of times and the worst of times and every moment in between…Continued

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Ten Great Things To Do To Lift Up Our Spirits

March 13, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog

1                    – If you have a yard, sit outside on a comfortable chair to read a good book. If you don’t have a yard, take a blanket to your nearest park and don’t forget to add a picnic.

2                    – If you have dogs, take them out for a walk or a hike to a place you’ve never been to.  Make this an event for both you and your animals as you discover new streets and parks.  Enjoy you dogs’ happiness.

3                    – Invite friends for dinner.  Make it a pot luck so you don’t get stuck in the kitchen.

4                    – Get a massage. Always a great way to distress.

5                    -  If you have kids, a picnic at a park, beach or your own back yard is always fun

6                    -  If you have a partner, time to set time aside for each other.  What about a massage or a glass of wine? What about just kissing?  Remember how the first kiss was full of emotions? Give yourself and your partner time to kiss. And don’t forget to be present.

7                    – If you enjoy cooking, go to the market, plan a really great meal and invite a few of your very close friends.

8                    – Go for a drive.  If you live near the beach or the mountains, this is a perfect way to distress.  Driving also has the psychological benefit of making us feel like we’re moving forward. Of course make sure to pick a route you won’t get caught in traffic.

9                    – What about horseback riding?

10                – Do you have potted plants? Could they use repotting? Do you have a garden?

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Will

June 1, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured

Written By Wendy Hammond

kids-2One very cold night when I was 41, I called my girlfriend Yannick.  She was in her early 30s and now lived in Pasadena with her new husband. She was also eight months pregnant. She complained how crammed her bed had gotten. For most of her life  she had slept alone, and now she, Jeff and her enormous stomach crowded into her double bed. All those bodies made things hot, she said.

As she joked, a fierce wind rattled my window panes. Chilly air seeped through my badly insulated walls and I snuggled down further under my comforter. When Yannick and I finished talking, I hung up the phone, turned off the light and tried to get warm. My queen-sized bed seemed enormous that night, and so terribly empty. The wind whistled outside and my mind whirred with thoughts: I’m too old now to have children. I would adopt a child if I had a partner, but I don’t. I’m not one of those women who can raise a child alone. I’m 41 years old without a partner; it’s time to face I’m not going to have a child.

I went through some weeks of mourning over this. I comforted myself with the knowledge that there are other ways to have children in one’s life. I had a niece I was close to. I could volunteer to work with children.

And then I met Paul and fell deeply in love. On my 42nd birthday, he asked me if I would try to have a child with him. I still remember the sensation of my face scrunching up into an enormous smile. But I was worried, too. Some time before this a doctor had told me I’d have a hard time getting pregnant, and this coupled with my age made me wonder if I could conceive.

Four months after stopping the pill, when my period was three hours late, I took a home pregnancy test and watched as both blue lines filled in. My hand started to shake.  I grabbed the phone dialed Paul’s number. “Are you sitting down?” Paul was so thrilled he jumped in his car and drove straight through from New York, where he was working on a job, to our Michigan apartment. He stopped only for gas and at a toy store where he bought a toy chest and a stuffed animal for the child we had conceived.

I was 20 weeks along with a “bump” when we had our wedding. Friends performed a puppet show telling the story of our courtship, and Paul proudly displayed the sonogram photos of our boy child to our wedding guests.

A complication came up at the end of my pregnancy. Dr. Ward said I needed to have a cesarean birth and told me he would call when he got one scheduled. He called at 9:30 the night before my 43rd birthday and told us to be at the hospital at six. The next morning, while we waited in an examining room for a nurse to give me an epidural, Paul read me the Molly Brown section of Ulysses to calm me. What a birthday present. To have a child!

Maybe it was the epidural, but once they wheeled me into the operating room I became flooded with joy. A brand new human being was about to come into the world! A miracle! I began to weep with the wonder of it. Meanwhile, Paul snapped pictures of: the doctors and nurses, the instruments, the light fixtures, the yellow disinfectant they smeared over my belly.

As they worked on me, I saw the doctors begin to weep with joy, too. (Paul later said this didn’t happen.) And then I saw a white, white light fill the room. It felt as though the veil between the material world and the world of spirit had thinned almost to nothing. When the doctor held up our baby, Will, I felt and believed I saw God hand over a most precious creation, a human soul in a tiny body. God loved this child passionately, and was lending him to us to care for and raise up. I loved Paul madly, but nothing in my life had prepared me for the ferocity of the love I felt for our precious child or the overwhelming, bursting joy that consumed me as I beheld this new born boy.

Since then at various times-when I look at people piling into a subway, or when I pass people on the sidewalk, and of course when I look into my child’s eyes-I remember the moment of Will’s birth, how infinitely God loved (and loves) him, and I realize once again that every human being is infinitely precious in just the same way. It blows my mind and fills my chest with the sweetest warmth. This is love to me: to kneel in awe at the overwhelming magnificence of each created human being.

Wendy Hammond is a playwright and screenwriter.  Her plays have been produced in NYC, regional as well as Berlin, London, Milan and Tel Aviv theatres.

She has adapted two of her plays to the screen, Julie Johnson with Lily Taylor and Courtney Love and Jersey City with Dana Delany, Debi Mazar, Jesse Garcia, Angela Sarafyan and Bai Ling.

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