Things to Read - Five Interesting Articles From Around the Web (on unhappiness, parenting, mindfulness, and breast feeding)

1. How to Live Unhappily Ever After by Augusten Burroughs - "this recipe of defining happiness and fiddling with your life to get it will work for some people—but not for others. I am one of the others. I am not a happy person. There are things that do make me experience joy. But joy is a fleeting emotion, like a very long sneeze. A lot of the time what I feel is, interested. Or I feel melancholy. And I also frequently feel tenderness, annoyance, confusion, fear, hopelessness. It doesn't all add up to anything I would call happiness. But what I'm thinking is, is that so terrible?" . . . .

"A corollary to the idea that we must all be happy and positive all the time is that we must all be "healed." When I was 32, somebody I loved died on a plastic-covered twin mattress at a Manhattan hospital. His death was not unexpected and I had prepared myself years in advance, as though studying for a degree. When he died, I was as stunned as if he had been killed by a grand piano falling from the top of a building. I was fully unprepared.

I did not know what to do with my physical self. It took me about a year to stop thinking, madly, I might somehow meet him in my sleep. Once I finally believed he was gone, I began the next stage: waiting. Waiting to heal. This lasted several years.

The truth about healing is that heal is a television word. Someone close to you dies? You will never heal. What will happen is, for the first few days, the people around you will touch your shoulder and this will startle you and remind you to breathe. You will feel as though you will soon be dead from natural causes; the weight of the grief will be physical and very nearly unbearable.
. . . .

"The truth about healing is that you don't need to heal to be whole. And by whole, I mean damaged, missing pieces of who you were, your heart—missing what feels like some of your most important parts. And yet, not missing any part of you at all. Being, in truth, larger than you were before.

2. Raising Girls, Part III on Sweet Fine Day - "it’s just funny how we find ourselves on the other side, often with the reactions of oh hell no. Now you’re acting like a parent. . . .

We spend the early part of our lives wishing time would speed up and the latter part of our lives wishing it would slow way the hell down. Sometimes when I think about my mom being my age with an 18 year old (me) it freaks me out because I can’t imagine myself with an 18 year old. An 8 year old is almost bad enough because when I stop to think about it I can’t believe I have an 8 year old either. Then I realize that part of all this is a reaction because we’re aging right along with them. Maybe we try to hold on to our kids as long as we can because a small part of us is afraid to get old."

3. Why We Need to Teach Mindfulness in a Digital Age on PBS- "Recent brain imaging studies reveal that sections of our brains are highly active during down time. This has led scientists to imply that moments of not-doing are critical for connecting and synthesizing new information, ideas and experiences. Dr. Michael Rich, a professor at Harvard Medical School put it this way in a 2010 New York Times article: "Downtime is to the brain what sleep is to the body."
. . . .

"The contemporary rise of attention deficit disorder, a condition seemingly linked to the ubiquity of media nets, only underscores how much we need to treat attention as a craft, at once a skill to be learned and a vessel in flight. But the name of this chronic syndrome also contains a clue. For it is precisely disorder that we need to learn to pay attention to, because in that turbulence lies our own future manifold. The mind is an instrument, and we practice scales so that we may improvise with spontaneous grace."

4. A Late Mother's Day Post. Or a Post About Why Gooey Reactions Don't Make You a Better Mom. Love Does. on Overexposed and Underdeveloped. (this one was hard to excerpt, the whole post was so beautiful and it made me cry. alot).

"Motherhood is being instantly slammed into a difficult, wildly exhausting, completely life alternating moment. And I had the same coping skills as I did a year before. Nothing was different. There was nothing quick or Hallmarky about my step into this Big Life Moment. Just like every other Big Life Moment prior, I emerged the same. It took me years to understand that this particular sameness meant a completely different experience from most new Moms. Other woman talked about feeling Mother Bearish from the heartbeat. They looked at their newborn with tears in their eyes. When the OB pulled their children from the womb, their love was instant and crushing. For years, I wondered why I wired differently. And a few times I wondered if that meant I wasn’t Mom enough.

Mothers aren’t the same. We parent differently. We express our love differently. Seven years ago, I was naive to assume that we all enter Motherhood the same. I entered into as myself. And for me, it took time. Gooey isn’t something I do easily. Gooey and Motherhood still seems odd to me. That’s for other Mothers. I finally learned an important lesson: there’s no cookie cutter version of the perfect Mother.
Maybe you loved your daughter before she was even conceived. Maybe you first loved your son at 12 weeks when he belly laughed at your goofy voice. The fact is you love them more than you love your own soul. As Mothers, we have one common thread: the love for our children. We should stop getting tangled in our differences. Stop using them to define who’s a better Mom. Let’s use our purest commonality to remind the world of Our strength. Some people might be afraid if this type of power is ever harnessed.

And in my opinion, they should be."

5. The Case Against Breast Feeding in the Atlantic
"One day, while nursing my baby in my pediatrician’s office, I noticed a 2001 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association open to an article about breast-feeding: “Conclusions: There are inconsistent associations among breastfeeding, its duration, and the risk of being overweight in young children.” Inconsistent? There I was, sitting half-naked in public for the tenth time that day, the hundredth time that month, the millionth time in my life—and the associations were inconsistent? The seed was planted. That night, I did what any sleep-deprived, slightly paranoid mother of a newborn would do. I called my doctor friend for her password to an online medical library, and then sat up and read dozens of studies examining breast-feeding’s association with allergies, obesity, leukemia, mother-infant bonding, intelligence, and all the Dr. Sears highlights.

After a couple of hours, the basic pattern became obvious: the medical literature looks nothing like the popular literature. It shows that breast-feeding is probably, maybe, a little better; but it is far from the stampede of evidence that Sears describes. More like tiny, unsure baby steps: two forward, two back, with much meandering and bumping into walls. A couple of studies will show fewer allergies, and then the next one will turn up no difference. Same with mother-infant bonding, IQ, leukemia, cholesterol, diabetes. Even where consensus is mounting, the meta studies—reviews of existing studies—consistently complain about biases, missing evidence, and other major flaws in study design. “The studies do not demonstrate a universal phenomenon, in which one method is superior to another in all instances,” concluded one of the first, and still one of the broadest, meta studies, in a 1984 issue of Pediatrics, “and they do not support making a mother feel that she is doing psychological harm to her child if she is unable or unwilling to breastfeed.” Twenty-five years later, the picture hasn’t changed all that much. So how is it that every mother I know has become a breast-feeding fascist?

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