Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

What is hope? It is the presentiment that imagination is more real and reality less real than it looks. It is the hunch that the overwhelming brutality of facts that oppress and repress is not the last word. It is the suspicion that Reality is much more complex than realism wants us to believe; that the frontiers of the possible are not determined by the limits of the actual, and that in a miraculous and unexpected way life is preparing the creative event which will open the way to freedom and resurrection ...

Tomorrow's Child, by Rubem Alves

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Love comes with a knife,
not some shy question.
And not with fears for its reputation!
Love is a madman working
his wild schemes,
tearing off his clothes,
running through the mountains
drinking poison and quietly choosing annihilation.
There are love stories and
there is obliteration into love.
You've been walking the ocean's edge
holding up your robes to keep them dry.
You must dive naked under,
and deeper under,
a thousand times deeper.
Love flows down.
The ground submits to the sky
and suffers what comes.
Tell me, is the earth worse for giving in like that?
Don't put blankets over the drum.
Open completely.

This Rumi poem has really been speaking to me lately. I included it in a blessing for some friends who are having a baby soon (hi Tim and Amy!) because one of the many lessons that Zora has taught me/is teaching me is how to surrender to whatever it is I'm feeling at any given moment - whether it's joy, frustration, awe, boredom, peace, exhaustion, or love.

Friday, October 2, 2009

breastfeeding and fulfilling my civic duty

i had jury duty in district court yesterday. as a nursing mama, i certainly wondered how court staff were going to handle my pumping needs.

upon arrival, i was ushered into the security line and dutifully put my backpack on the security belt. the US marshall (they don't mess around in district court) had two things to question me about after my bag went through security. 1) the fork in my backpack. (me: sorry, sir, that's from lunch yesterday. US marshall: yes, well, m'am, you can't take a fork into the courthouse.) and 2) the "bag of electronics" at the bottom of my bag. (me, totally emboldened: that's my BREAST milk pump. do you want to see? US marshall, completely embarrassed: no, m'am, go right ahead, you're fine. i just need that fork, that's all.)

US Marshalls: 0 Nursing Mamas of the World: 1

whoever's taking notes: add federal courthouse to the list of unusual places susanna has pumped.

Monday, July 20, 2009

zora the explorer.

zora is a trooper. she's almost five months old and she's already been to three baseball games, dipped her little feet in the ocean, been hiking and camping, gotten stuck in thunderstorms with downpours, hail and intense winds (twice in one week!), braved the crowds at the boardwalk at the jersey shore and been the center of attention at various fundraisers and events. and through it all she continues to be the most inquisitive, happy, peaceful kid we could have hoped for.

how she's going to handle this new teething thing she's got going on remains to be seen...

Thursday, July 9, 2009

adventures in motherhood.

so i'm sitting on the 34 trolley yesterday with my backpack on my lap (to make as much room as possible for my fellow riders), minding my own business, when i feel the top of my pants getting wet. i pick up my backpack and notice the bottom is completely wet. my first thought is, "shit! i put my leftover indian food from lunch in my backpack - it must have spilled." so i quickly open my backpack to figure out who's the culprit and start pawing through all my work papers, lunch leftovers, and ... my cooler bag full of breastmilk.

yup, a full 5 ounce bag of breastmilk which i had dutifully pumped that day at work had punctured and leaked all over everything. my calendar, which i use to keep track of both my work and home life, was soaked. a high powered fan managed to dry most of the pages out but it still smells like milk today.

i'm taking it as a sign - trying to separate my professional identity and my mama identity may not be so simple. i'm a mom, and a trainer, and a lot of other things, and when i'm at work i'm also a mama- either because i know i better wrap up this presentation quick so i can go pump or because when i'm scheduling presentations i now do so in my milky-scented calendar or because i'm trying to end domestic violence so my little zora doesn't have to grow up in a world where 1 in 3 women experience violence by their intimate partner.

i'm also taking it as a sign that motherhood will continue to throw zingers at me, and i better be ready to laugh and keep truckin. just when i thought i had had enough bodily fluids leaked on me, as i was heading to bed last night i went to grab fine just the way it is, the book i'm reading right now, only to discover that the cover was, well, covered with spit up. motherhood is clearly full of surprises, and i'm trying my hardest to be up for the challenge!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Support the Breastfeeding Promotion Act

Hi all, See below for a very important message from about the Breastfeeding Promotion Act. As a breastfeeding, working, pumping mama myself I feel quite passionately about this - please take action on this!


Did you know that tough economic times may be making it harder for women to breastfeed? According to a recent ABC news story, one of the fall-outs from the recession is that some new mothers are feeling forced to take shorter maternity leaves due to concerns about finances and job stability.

Unfortunately, women who have to cut their maternity leave short often can’t continue to breastfeed their infants because many workplaces don't adequately support breastfeeding. That's a big problem when you consider that 56% of women with infants are now the in the labor force--we need common-sense workplace policies to make sure that moms who want to breastfeed can.

Act now for nursing moms by urging your Members of Congress to support the Breastfeeding Promotion Act!

Monday, June 15, 2009

mourning dove babies!

the eggs hatched! here are some photos of mama feeding the babies.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

working mama

i've been back at work for about a week and a half. 

the first day was incredibly painful.   i felt physically ill leaving my little one.
did you ever watch a nightmare on elm street, those crazy freddy krueger horror movies?
there's this one scene where he's on one side of the room and his victim is on the other. they're connected because freddy has pulled the tendons of the victim out - you see the victim looking horrified that half his body is stretched to the other side of the room.  that's sort of how i felt on monday.

it got easier every day. it really, really helped that zora was in the completely capable, loving hands of her nana, carol.  and that carol sends me regular text messages throughout the day letting me know what zora is up to.  (i'm not sure how i'm going to survive when she finally goes to daycare.) 

my usual efficient, multi-tasking self has succumbed to fatigue and delirium. i forget my pumped breast milk at work and have to hike up the three flights of stairs to retrieve it. i forget to wear nursing pads and leak all over.  my milk spurts out onto my computer keyboard. i forget words such as bird and bus. the highlight of my work day is seeing how many ounces i was able to pump.  i can't WAIT to get home to give zora a kiss, and could care less about all the work i should stay and finish when the clock says 5pm.

it's funny because my return to work coincided with the return of the mourning doves to the window sill outside my office. mama bird laid two perfectly round, white eggs. i'm waiting for babies birds to appear. stay tuned! i love having a mama buddy right outside my office window! 

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

zora, inside and out

we are overjoyed to welcome zora into our lives.  she was born on february 27, 2009 at 6:34am.
she's the best.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

one year and 37 weeks

it's been one year since mom passed on from this world to the next.
it's been 37 weeks that bean has been getting ready to enter this world from the womb world.

i am celebrating both of them today.

i am remembering mom today - not the mom who died in hospice a year ago, her body crippled with multiple myeloma, but the mom who mothered me for 62 years. the mom who taught me what unconditional love feels like. the mom who was always my champion. the mom who taught me the value of true friends and community, in good times and bad. the mom who provided endless opportunities for fun and play, and knew how to have a good laugh. the mom who, whether working or not, always put a home cooked meal on the table and insisted we eat together as a family - even if this meant dinner at 8:30pm. the mom with the green thumb, whose yards were always beautiful and whose houses were full of plants. the mom who knew how to use coupons and look for sales and stretch a little money into a lot of groceries. the wordsmith mom - with her intense love of crossword puzzles and the way she could command a room during her trainings. the mom who spoke her mind. the stubborn, fierce, my-way-or-the-highway mom. the mom who could talk about her children endlessly to friends or strangers.

i believe that one of the best ways i can honor mom's spirit is to (attempt to) bring some of what i learned from her about being a good mother to my relationship with bean. i have felt her spirit with me strongly in the last few weeks, and believe she's going to be with me during my labor and my early journey into motherhood. i am very excited about bean's arrival, and hope that the love that mom offered to me during her time here on earth will nourish bean and our new family.

i appreciate all of you who remembered me today with emails and phone calls.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

getting closer...

well, this mama (and papa!) are quite pleased that the bean decided to float and kick and squirm and sleep his/her way through the next few weeks head down. last time we saw the midwife we were told that bean was lying "transverse" - in other words, sideways across my belly. today (with the birth center's newly purchased ultrasound machine) we confirmed that bean is head down, getting ready...

at least this is some consolation for the horrendous rib pain i am having in my right side. seems like bean is getting big enough to be crowding my organs, thus causing me lots of pain. (not to mention heartburn from hell!)

i am hard at work reading everything i can get my hands on to prepare for the arrival of bean, including _the no cry sleep solution_, _the happiest baby on the block_, and just to mix it up a bit, _the maternal is political_. i figure the part of me that can't function without sleep needs as much instruction as the activist part of me when it comes to how motherhood is going to change me.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

happy president obama day!

i am so incredibly happy and feel so blessed that the first president that my child will know is obama.  i was moved by both openly gay episcopal bishop gene robinson's invocation at the inaugural concert, and civil rights hero rev. lowery's benediction after obama was sworn in.  here they are for your enjoyment:

bishop gene robinson's invocation:

O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will…

Bless us with tears – for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women from many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and AIDS.

Bless us with anger – at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Bless us with discomfort – at the easy, simplistic “answers” we’ve preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth, about ourselves and the world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.

Bless us with patience – and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be “fixed” anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah.

Bless us with humility – open to understanding that our own needs must always be balanced with those of the world.

Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance – replacing it with a genuine respect and  warm embrace of our differences, and an understanding that in our diversity, we are stronger.

Bless us with compassion and generosity – remembering that every religion’s God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable in the human community, whether across town or across the world.

And God, we give you thanks for your child Barack, as he assumes the office of President of the United States.

Give him wisdom beyond his years, and inspire him with Lincoln’s reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy’s ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King’s dream of a nation for ALL the people.

Give him a quiet heart, for our Ship of State needs a steady, calm captain in these times.

Give him stirring words, for we will need to be inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges ahead.

Make him color-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his leadership, there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United States.

Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still its victims.

Give him the strength to find family time and privacy, and help him remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his daughters’ childhoods.

And please, God, keep him safe.  We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we’re asking FAR too much of this one.  We know the risk he and his wife are taking for all of us, and we implore you, O good and great God, to keep him safe.  Hold him in the palm of your hand – that he might do the work we have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity and peace.


rev. lowery's benediction:

God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, thou who has brought us thus far along the way, thou who has by thy might led us into the light, keep us forever in the path, we pray, lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met thee, lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget thee. Shadowed beneath thy hand may we forever stand -- true to thee, O God, and true to our native land.

We truly give thanks for the glorious experience we've shared this day. We pray now, O Lord, for your blessing upon thy servant, Barack Obama, the 44th president of these United States, his family and his administration. He has come to this high office at a low moment in the national and, indeed, the global fiscal climate. But because we know you got the whole world in your hand, we pray for not only our nation, but for the community of nations. Our faith does not shrink, though pressed by the flood of mortal ills.

For we know that, Lord, you're able and you're willing to work through faithful leadership to restore stability, mend our brokenness, heal our wounds and deliver us from the exploitation of the poor or the least of these and from favoritism toward the rich, the elite of these.

We thank you for the empowering of thy servant, our 44th president, to inspire our nation to believe that, yes, we can work together to achieve a more perfect union. And while we have sown the seeds of greed -- the wind of greed and corruption, and even as we reap the whirlwind of social and economic disruption, we seek forgiveness and we come in a spirit of unity and solidarity to commit our support to our president by our willingness to make sacrifices, to respect your creation, to turn to each other and not on each other.

And now, Lord, in the complex arena of human relations, help us to make choices on the side of love, not hate; on the side of inclusion, not exclusion; tolerance, not intolerance.

And as we leave this mountaintop, help us to hold on to the spirit of fellowship and the oneness of our family. Let us take that power back to our homes, our workplaces, our churches, our temples, our mosques, or wherever we seek your will.

Bless President Barack, First Lady Michelle. Look over our little, angelic Sasha and Malia.

We go now to walk together, children, pledging that we won't get weary in the difficult days ahead. We know you will not leave us alone, with your hands of power and your heart of love.

Help us then, now, Lord, to work for that day when nation shall not lift up sword against nation, when tanks will be beaten into tractors, when every man and every woman shall sit under his or her own vine and fig tree, and none shall be afraid; when justice will roll down like waters and righteousness as a mighty stream.

Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around -- (laughter) -- when yellow will be mellow -- (laughter) -- when the red man can get ahead, man -- (laughter) -- and when white will embrace what is right.

Let all those who do justice and love mercy say amen.


REV. LOWERY: Say amen --


REV. LOWERY: -- and amen.

AUDIENCE: Amen! (Cheers, applause.)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

happy new year!

What I Have Learned So Far

Meditation is old and honorable, so why should I
not sit, every morning of my life, on the hillside,
looking into the shining world? Because, proper-
ly attended to, delight, as well as havoc, is sug-
gestion. Can one be passionate about the just, the
ideal, the sublime, and the holy, and yet commit
to no labor in its cause? I don't think so.

All summations have a beginning, all effect has a
story, all kindness begins with the sown seed.
Thought buds toward radiance. The gospel of
light is the crossroads of--indolence, or action.

Be ignited, or be gone.

--Mary Oliver

Happy 2009 everyone.
Best wishes for a new year filled with fruitful
labor (not just for me and the bean!), delight,
justice and love.