June 22, 2010

Women's Ways of Knowing

Women's Ways of Knowing: The Development of Self, Voice, and Mind by Belenky, Clinchy, Goldberger, and Tarule.

My scholar self really enjoyed this book.

"People discourse to one another; they gossip with . . ." (p. 116)

"Patience," says the writer Simone de Beauvoir, is one of those "'feminine' qualities which have their origin in our oppression but should be preserved after our liberation." (p. 117)

"The pattern of discourse that women have developed, however, may best be considered as an appropriate response to women's work.  The care of children, or maternal practice, gives rise to maternal thought . . . Many mothers interview their children, rather than lecture . . . Question posing . . . is central to maternal practice in its most evolved form . . . at the heart of connected knowing."  (p. 189)

June 8, 2010

Questions to Awaken Your Creative Power to the Fullest

Questions to Awaken Your Creative Power to the Fullest by Michele Cassou.

"Judgements point out to you where you are closing the door to your creativity." (p.27)

I am very, very resistant to the philosophy of process painting. Learning about it and doing it are part of the process for certification as a Birthing From Within Mentor, though, so I'm being "forced" to push into this resistance . . .

I know my judgements about process painting close the doors to some creativity. I do. But my judgements are really strong. I have really strong "agreements" or rules about this. But I'm not at all sure what they all are.

Here are some preliminary guesses . . .
Rule: creativity is relational. What I create is not just for me. It's for the community I'm embedded in.

Rule: a beautiful thing is more beautiful if it is also functional. I.e., when I create something, I don't want it to be only aesthetically pleasing. I want it to be useful, too.

Rule: corollary: time spent on creativity must be useful (produce income, entertain others, etc.) - not "just for me"

I'm not phrasing these very judgementally, but there are strong judgements embedded there.

I also found this book an interesting one to read at the same time as another one I'm reading: Women's Ways of Knowing. One of the things the authors of that book talk about is where knowing comes from: not-knowing, knowing based on external authority, knowing based on internal authority . . . it seems to me that Cassou is reacting to common ideas about where it is okay for artistic knowing to come from. More on that later.

June 5, 2010

Bestfeeding: How to Breastfeed Your Baby

Bestfeeding: How to Breastfeed Your Baby by Mary Renfrew, Chloe Fisher, and Suzanne Arms.

What a lovely book! So straight-forward. I think it would have been useful to me as a first-time mom; maybe even the second or third time around.

However, I would like to recognize a bit more ambiguity in my work with mothers than this book allows.

"Breastfeeding should never hurt, and if it does, it means you're doing it wrong," is one of the basic messages. That may be thoughtful, honest, intelligent, but I'm not sure it's necessary or kind. My own experience of breastfeeding the first time around was that it did hurt, a lot, for at least 6 weeks. And sometimes after that for another 6 weeks or so. I probably was doing some things wrong. But what I was doing right was persisting, getting to know my baby, working with him, telling him and myself we could do it . . .. In retrospect it would have been nice to know that his latch was lazy, I had a mild over-supply, and block feeding would help tremendously. On the other hand, I probably would not have listened if anyone had told me these things. For whatever reason, I believe he and I needed to work it out together, learning how to do it together. It was in some way part of our bonding process. And we made it.

My hope in working with mothers is to encourage their learning process as new mothers - whatever that includes. Simple, clear advice from me is good, and I should know the facts such as they are. But I never want to forget that the mother and baby's nursing relationship is not mine. It's theirs. And I am only incidental to it.

June 1, 2010

Sisters on a Journey: Portraits of American Midwives

Sisters on a Journey: Portraits of American Midwives by Penfield Chester.

I feel I have been given a treasure in this book; reading it felt nurturing and joyful.

Possibly in part because I began reading it at a birth (I was the sibling doula and the sibling was asleep.)

"Medical ethics are all about power - doctors' authority over patients, policing each other, shepherding the patient through the process - which doesn't have anything to do with what we [midwives] do. We are basically grounded in an ethic of relationship, in interaction and honesty. ... There is a discussion of how one makes an ethical decision based on one's values, and that's why we can't have an explicit ethics statement because everyone's decisions and how they act is dependent upon their social, cultural, racial, religious, and class background." p. 122 (Anne Frye)

"I would describe that one is either codependent with one's fellow humans, or co-creative with God." (p. 147, Faith Gibson)

I just want to keep the whole interview with Candace Whitridge and read it over and over again. I've never heard of her before, but it's so full of things I need to remember and know. One example is the recounting of an African folktale about birth (which I think I have heard before). "It's a one-person log. Only one person can get on this log." (p. 240)