I appreciate this book. Childbirth and parenting are among the most unpredictable and difficult undertakings a woman can do. They are hard enough withI appreciate this book. Childbirth and parenting are among the most unpredictable and difficult undertakings a woman can do. They are hard enough without being judged on how you welcome your baby into the world and learn to be the best parent you can reasonably be. As a Seattlelite and a member of the natural health community, it's easy to fall into the belief that there is a "right" way to have a baby and to feed them during their first year of life. However, reading the hypnobirthing literature, my inner skeptic surfaced--childbirth "shouldn't be painful"? If I think a certain way, I won't feel pain? Yeah right. Similarly, Ina May Gaskin's "Spiritual Midwifery" seemed cultish and dogmatic upon first glance, and when I looked into it and learned that The Farm, where Ms. Gaskin practices, didn't allow couples to use birth control, that feeling was confirmed.
Dr. Amy Tuteur is on a mission to make women feel ok with doing what they need to do to safely deliver their babies and to feed them in whatever way works best for them and their baby. This is right on. New moms don't need to start out their career as a mother feeling guilty and ashamed about how they're going about things as long as they're giving it their best. Maybe you can't deliver vaginally, and maybe your milk supply isn't enough to nourish your baby--should that immediately cause you to feel bad that your baby isn't getting the best start to life that they can get? Absolutely not. Dr. Tuteur delineates how confining women to a specific birth and breast-feeding paradigm is sexist and disempowering, fostering bullying and competitiveness between women. We should be supportive of each other during this epically challenging period of life, not judgmental and and condescending.
However, the righteousness and anger in this book is off-putting, and often detracts from the otherwise very good points Dr. Tuteur is making. I found it oddly similar in tone to the natural birth proponents that she is combating. In addition, her derision of doulas, midwives, and lactation consultants is generalized, and discounts the support that they can give women. My husband and I both appreciate our doula enormously, and she has been supportive of both the possibility of a C-section and a natural birth, no matter what my choice may be regarding anesthesia. She has no agenda to promote, and cautioned us from the beginning against allying with any practitioner who might have one. It gives us both comfort as we prepare for the birth of our first child that someone experienced with the process will be with us throughout the birth, no matter what happens, as nurses, midwives and OBs that have a whole ward to look after and can't hold your hand in the same way.
I'm glad that this book is out there, but the reactionary quality to the writing makes it less comforting than it could otherwise be. Instead of presenting information in a way that could win over the more reasonable natural birth and breast-feeding proponents, Dr. Tuteur seems intent on demonizing and alienating them. I would only recommend this book to those who already believe similarly. This is a shame, because people who ride the fence like myself could gain a lot from Dr. Tuteur's information, and relieve the pressure of feeling like there is a clear-cut right and wrong way to birthing, breast-feeding and parenting. ...more
Travel writing seems to be to be a tricky genre. There's so much room for the blurring of an author's capacity of subjectivity and objectivity that thTravel writing seems to be to be a tricky genre. There's so much room for the blurring of an author's capacity of subjectivity and objectivity that the genre itself is splayed uncomfortably between memoir and non-fiction. Its an odd place to be as a reader, and it becomes even more challenging when you the reader are familiar with the place being described. Often, as in travel itself, the author's shadow side casts itself over the narrative, whether the author intends it to or not. I imagine that much of the worst of this often gets edited out, but a fair amount remains--how can it not?
I mostly enjoyed Colin Thubron's "Lost Heart of Asia", even while some part of my brain prickles at the slight condescension of calling Central Asia "lost" when the only people it has ever been "lost" to are people who aren't from there. Mr. Thubron visited the five 'stans that make the formerly Soviet Central Asian bloc right after the fall of the USSR, and captured with sympathy the confusion and turmoil that these economically tattered and corrupt states were and still are in as they try to define themselves as a cohesive nation. Mr. Thubron has enormous skill as a writer, effortlessly weaving in history and culture as he talks about the sights and people around him. He is very knowledgeable about the region, especially Uzbekistan, and is willing to put himself at risk to find remote historical sights and explore the country around him. Still, there is a subtle tone of superiority when he comments on the people that didn't sit right. Mr. Thubron himself was an interesting study--always willing to engage with whoever he came across, yet very much removed and cushioned by his Englishness. Part of it is that I had some of the same attitude while I was serving in the Peace Corps in Kyrgyzstan, always comforted in my worldly Americanness that my views were the correct ones. I'm not proud of it, but I certainly hope that as I've gained maturity and perspective that I would be more sensitive to the cultural differences that can make it easy to generalize about a whole race of peoples. Central Asia is often very culturally isolated, and that can mean that sometimes the views of the people there are extremely localized--same would probably be found if you visited many rural places in the US. In addition, some of his comments the various ethnic groups are outright racist. Of the Turkmens he sees when he first lands at the Ashkhabad airport, he comments that "[t]hey seemed like nomads still: predators and opportunists...". When in Kyrgyzstan, he speaks of the "flocks of sturdy women", and a people who "looked like last-generation herdsmen, coarser and burlier than their Kazakh cousins...They lumbered along the streets...and would drop unthinkingly to their haunches on the pavements. Their mastiff necks rolled into barrel chests...Many looked like pantomime peasants. Their rolling-pin arms swung out from muscle bound shoulders, and their felt hats lent them a doltish gaiety." Wow. As someone who spent two years in the latter country, that isn't how I'd choose to describe the ethnic Kyrgyz population as a whole. Or any population, really.
Culturally and geographically diverse, and recovering from having the imprint of Soviet Russia forced on them, Central Asia makes for a fascinating study. Often overlooked due to its landlocked and remote location, it can be a rough place to travel. Poor tourist infrastructure, government corruption, and, admittedly, a cuisine that lacks a ton of appeal makes for a lackluster destination for leisure tourists, yet the vestiges of the Silk Road as well as its diverse cultural milieu marks it as a worthwhile place to go for those with some grit who want authenticity in their destination. At the crossroads of the empires that have traversed Asia throughout history, indelible marks of these epochs have been left on the people who reside there. The Turkic language roots coming from the west, the Mongoloid features of the east, the rise of Islam from the south west, the Cyrillic alphabet from the north--each of these affect the 'stans differently and every region has a culture that is uniquely theirs. I loved revisiting the region, but could have left the author behind on some occasions.
I'm giving this book four stars because I wouldn't recommend "Wild Awakening" for someone who hasn't connected with a teacher of either Mahamudra or DI'm giving this book four stars because I wouldn't recommend "Wild Awakening" for someone who hasn't connected with a teacher of either Mahamudra or Dzogchen. Many of these practices are meant to be esoteric, with the practitioner initiated into them after studying with a qualified guru that one can wholeheartedly accept. It's wonderful to have access via books like this to such knowledge and practices, but it's important to be aware of of the limitations as well. This is a potential drawback to practicing Vajrayanan Buddhism in general, as well as one of its strengths. In terms of content as it applies to practitioners of either of these paths, I give this book five stars. ...more
I kept going with the premise of this book--a pain free birth--thru the naivety of the author proclaiming that birth is better in Africa because of laI kept going with the premise of this book--a pain free birth--thru the naivety of the author proclaiming that birth is better in Africa because of lack of medical intervention (fistulas anyone? Highest maternal and infant mortality rates in the world? Check and check), but the moment she suggested that you solve any money worries you have before the baby comes with the "Laws of Attraction", I decided to go no further. I grew up in a household that promoted that ethos and if you think someone is poor and not living their dream just because they didn't wish it had enough, well, I'll just smile at you and walk away. Not for me. Kudos if it works for you. ...more
I really wanted to like this book, but I was overwhelmed by the hippie vibe, which veered a tad too close to cultishness for my comfort level. My hatI really wanted to like this book, but I was overwhelmed by the hippie vibe, which veered a tad too close to cultishness for my comfort level. My hat is still off to Ms Gaskin as a pioneer in her field, however. ...more