Equanimity

A few weeks ago my little family and I took a trip to a neighboring city about an hour away. We had lunch, got some fabulous family pictures taken by the lovely and talented Alisha Stamper and then headed to the Springville Museum of Art.

Springville, Utah! Also known as Art City, piqued my interest as we drove up her streets. I could see myself living in a quaint town like Springville. Especially a town with an incredible art museum!

Lately I have been craving art. Can one crave art? I think so. For Christmas I took some liberties with the pocketbook and purchased myself a few Caitlyn Connolly giclee prints. She is…well, amazing.

There are a few Connolly paintings in the museum and their larger than life size could put anyone in a thoughtful mood. Art does that. In browsing the art galleries, it felt to me like all of the artists were able to portray so much in their work. It was almost as if they climbed into my heart and created their pieces with me, a disgruntled commoner, in mind. There were two pieces that touched me very deeply. I didn’t expect to be moved like I was. The first piece was a marble sculpture of a nude mother nursing her newborn. A perfect depiction of a very special brand of beautiful.

Wow. I am a mother. I have a new baby. I breastfeed. I am beautiful. This process is beautiful. How grateful I am. 

Unfortunately, with my little family in tow, it was difficult to fully acknowledge the upwelling I felt. We hurried on from one gallery wall to the next, all while monitoring little wandering hands.

Henry! Don’t touch the art! Keep your hands in your pockets.”

Yet, I was thinking:
I know, I want to reach out too, and say thank you with my gentle touch. Are you real? Did you just speak to me? How did you know just what to say?

I learned a new word: Equanimity. It means being able to keep a balanced, mental calmness, particularly during difficult situations.
I realized that I have been getting the word “apathy” confused with this new found word, “equanimity”. I read this paper which explains the difference beautifully. Maybe you’ll take a gander?

I won’t take the time to go into detail about why the girl in this painting by Justin Kunz reached out and held my heart and my tears for a fleeting moment that day. But she did and I am so grateful.

Learning the practice of equanimity is something that is becoming very important to me. This seems to be what is allowing me to survive and I’d dare say, thrive, right now.

Image

Equanimity 2011 by Justin Kunz, Lindon UT

Peace & Comfort

“If a Mother in Heaven has a recipe for joy,
I know you will learn to make it.
If a Mother in Heaven knows a tincture for grief,
send it to us soon.”

excerpt of “Keeper of Ferns” by: Missy

Just saying the word feels so surreal. Death. It is difficult to understand why and to find peace in the inevitable. But find peace I must, in order to move forward and become the changed woman I crave.

Death acts like an acetylene torch in the refiner’s fire, burning away impurities and giving those left behind the chance to start over, to make new decisions and come to a greater understanding of God’s true love for us.

David Peterson

There have been many tributes written for dear Briana– so many that it seems that what I have to say will go unnoticed, or has already been said. I wanted to share with you a few things about Briana in the hopes that you would catch a glimpse of who she was. I have read each of these tributes and watched these videos describing her and the story of the accident. I have attended the celebration of her life. (Hardly a funeral.) And been thrilled to know that a Scholarship Fund has been established in her name at MCU Yet, my thoughts are uncharacteristically unable to flow freely. Honestly, I don’t think there is much else I can say except that my heart is broken and peaceful all at the same time. Her life was one of peace, love, devoted service and passion. It is because of Love that she even existed, and it will be because of Love that we will all carry on.

“Love is life. All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love. Everything is, everything exists, only because I love. Everything is united by it alone. Love is God, and to die means that I, a particle of love, shall return to the general and eternal source.”

-Leo Tolstoy

The birthing community is a tightly knit one. And I am so honored to be a part of this sacred network of women. I grieve for the loss that this community feels; for the Mamas she left behind. And all in the same breath I celebrate the motivation that Bri’s life has instilled in me in my callings in life.

*****

Amidst all of this, I drawn to the remembrance of my baptismal covenants which I made nearly 22 years ago.

 “…And now, as ye are desirous come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;

 Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort…”


Mosiah 18:8-9

I certainly have had opportunity to come through on my promise to Him. And I’m sure that I have done my best to be there for people in my life as events have unfolded. But this. This time it feels different. This time I can see His hand in it all. This time I can see how he has hand picked my friends. I can see how we all are playing in integral part in each others’ lives. I know that I am being used for good for those who are struggling with this difficult time. And I am so grateful for that. On the other hand, I see how certain people have been placed in my life for right now.

Because I need comfort too.

I know that He really does know me and understands, even anticipates, my needs. What a miracle. What a comforting, peaceful thought.

I am so grateful for it all.

Change

Soon after the birth of my son (baby #2), I felt myself being stuck. I was down. Blue. Very melancholy and just all around blah. But the interesting part about it was that I actually liked it. I was experiencing emotions that had been buried for so long- I did not even know what to do with them! My poor husband! On the other hand, that place I was in was a motivating factor for me. I saw where I was and where I wanted to be. In fact, I wrote all about that place here.

During that time, I had an email exchange with a dear friend from high school. She and I have been in touch off and on since we graduated. It is amazing that she and I have chosen much of the same things in the way we choose to live our lives. (Natural living, home birth, reading, spirituality) Although I’d wager that she is more of an Intellectual than I am. And I’m okay with that.

Anyhow, I thought I would share Mel’s words with you because they helped me so much. I hope she doesn’t mind…

*****

Holly –

I’m sorry you’ve been feeling hints of those darn winter/baby blues. Change is challenging and stretching and beautiful and some days downright hard. I think the transition of adding children is particularly multi-faceted. We want to add to our families, we know it will bring unmeasured joy, but this quote has always spoken to the feelings I’ve had moving from one to two and then two to three:

All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another. -Anatole France

There is a loss of what previously was and never again will be. In those moments of frustration, sadness, or whatever the emotion of the moment is, perspective is our salvation. There are so many sweet reminders that the new normal is full of adventure, joy, wonder, and growth. It is the plan of God that we may learn to love as much as our mortal hearts can possibly bear. It is His plan that we learn to sacrifice that which we didn’t think we could – our time, energy, preferences, ideas of things as we think they “should be” etc. And the process is refining, beautiful, and wholly Godlike.

A recent essay in the Chronicle of Higher Education made the following point (ht: Andrew Sullivan):

“I for one am afraid that American culture’s overemphasis on happiness at the expense of sadness might be dangerous, a wanton forgetting of an essential part of a full life. I further am concerned that to desire only happiness in a world undoubtedly tragic is to become inauthentic, to settle for unrealistic abstractions that ignore concrete situations. I am finally fearful of our society’s efforts to expunge melancholia. Without the agitations of the soul, would all of our magnificently yearning towers topple? Would our heart-torn symphonies cease?”

We shun sadness, but yet we worship a weeping God. A God who knows all there is to know of sadness and heartbreak. And we strive to be like Him. That means we strive to feel, experience, and to some extent come to understand and maybe even embrace sadness. And that’s an uncomfortable thought and reality.

Feeling that melancholy is a beautiful process of this mortal experience thing. Love it. And then let it pass by and choose joy.

*****

I have reflected often on these words. About how we must die to one life before we can grow into another and how it is important to feel the Ups and Downs of life. About how dealing with Change is Godly. What a beautiful thing that is. I am grateful for this realization. I should report that since I have been aware of this, things have gotten better. I still have those days. However at times, I enjoy their presence because it reminds me that I am Real. Part of being Real is feeling and changing and being okay with processing all of it.

I don’t really have anything that I can add to what has already been said.

If you have struggled with postpartum emotions or just have a difficult time dealing with Change, I hope that Mel’s words will help you like they have me. I am so grateful for them!