Earth Day withdrawal

I might be sick, but I just slept more than I’ve slept in ages, and my eyes are tender for it, and it’s Earth Day, which is the first day I learned what it was to hold space–by doing–nothing.

25 years ago, I served on the committee planning the very first Earth Day Celebration in my county, but a handful of days ahead of the event, I miscarried, and so I spent it, not coordinating anything, like I did so well, but simply sitting, resting, in the middle of all the action.

I can still feel the odd surrender inside, the portal of new, uncomfortable growth, a band playing in front of me, people moving all about, me, irrelevant.

The older I get the more I respect the wisdom of the weary, the sick, the aged, the disabled.
The more I feel what happens to the Earth is happening to me.

I want to write something poignant today, but my head is too heavy so I’ll simply share my gratitude & respect for all those speaking/marching/shouting/teaching on behalf of the planet–clean, abundant water; pure air; healthy soil–upon which all life depends, and without which so many suffer.


Days 21 to 12

21 days.
Between me & Menopause.
There’s something to that 21, but I can’t place it.
And then it comes…

In a textbook 28 day menstrual cycle, there are theoretically 21 non-bleeding days. So that by the 21st day, if you’re young & fertile, but not desiring pregnancy–say because you’re much too young, or in school, or you’ve just started a new job, or you’re not financially or emotionally prepared to become a parent, or to have another child, or to have any more or any at all, then it’s about 21 days when you start cupping your breasts to be sure they’re showing signs of your next menses–tender, swollen, sore.

Or conversely, if you’re desperate for a baby, having tried again and again, or having miscarried once or twice or more, or longing to give your child a sibling, it’s about 21 days when you begin looking for signs that your menses isn’t coming–cupping your breasts to be sure they remain soft & supple, just before they double in size with conception.

And then further back in memory–way back–is “the pill.”

Don’t you take it for 21 days, and then skip 7?

Wow, that’s a dusty memory.

And I can’t help thinking that even though I had to travel offshore for birth control, about 20 minutes or so, and then triple that for access to abortion, both were available to me in a climate that said: We’re trying to support you, even while we hide the very things you need so as not to draw too much attention to your pregnancy, your sexual activity, your bleed; even while your bodies are plastered on every movie screen and billboard and magazine, not to mention the Playboys tucked under the bed of your uncles and their friends who will later vote to turn back the tide of your possibilities to your mother’s and grandmother’s time–when your own bodies, and even love, were the enemy, plotting against your dreams and rendering you property of home and husband, and relegating your much needed voices to dinner and diapers, while around the world, those who impregnate continue to rule (and ruin) lives, while claiming to protect them, with the lie that we, the life givers, are the ones who forsake life by desiring full agency over our flesh.

Today’s number is 17. That is–17 days left between me & the Motherhood Archetype on the 365 Day Heroine’s Journey to Menopause. In a textbook menstrual cycle, day #17 is the day when one might wonder if she has conceived during her preceding fertile period, particularly if she is desperate to conceive, as I once was in my late twenties to mid-thirties. Conversely, if avoiding fertile days, day 17 might be the last in the agony of abstention. Alas, this is not a successful form of birth control; something that I learned, the hard way, twice, in the months before I turned 17.

(Also, 17 is the # of new messages in my inbox at this moment.)






The arrival at 13 days before the end my journey holds the sweet symmetry of being the number when I began, 40 years ago.



There are 12 days remaining in this 365 day journey to Menopause, ie. a complete year without a menstrual cycle. The migraines came at the end of my journey as Maiden (first menses); a year or two after I began bleeding, and they increased in my early twenties with birth control pills, and then again with the hormones of pregnancy, and then spiked with the shifts leading out of the fertile years in my late thirties and forties. Lately, I’d almost thought they’d left me entirely, along with the hot flashes (which to be fair were only here for a short stay this past summer) and the night sweats (which took up a much longer residence, say like a bachelor’s degree, with a summer capstone intensive.) Oddly enough the three of them had been companions of sorts, like a relative whose annoyance you’ve come to rely upon. So that when I woke this morning to a migraine, it was a bit of a reunion, as I noted how every sound in the room was heightened–the door latch, the foot steps, the crinkling of paper at the woodstove, and how the morning light was felt more keenly; and it occurred to me then that a migraine and this long journey to menopause (from 37 to 54)–this surrendering of the body’s fertility–is every bit a meditation.



Prescription: the Feminine

cropped-mother-earth-midwifery221 years ago, my new doctor prescribed a summer off to get in touch with my “feminine side.”

I had no idea what that meant, but I was desperate enough to step outside my own understanding.

In misery.

Later she suggested that I take a break from full-time work.

I tried that too.

And still, I did not get pregnant.

What I did get was community: A town called Marlboro. My first pair of Birkenstocks. A taste for hummus. An invitation to a women’s circle. A practice called yoga. An inkling to garden. A return to the slower cycles of nature.

By the New Year, I missed my period; and by the last day of summer school, I was ready to deliver.

What came through me was a boy. Two of them. Five years apart.

What came to me was the reclamation of the feminine:

in softer ways of knowing.

in a gentler orientation toward my days.

in the fierce clarity that comes from inside.

in the strong tide that washes away that which is no longer needed.

20 years later, I’m still discovering Her.

In me.

Around me.

Beside me.

In ALL things.

(note: just as I prepare to publish this piece, a spider drops down in front of my face)


love-rose-quartzWhen I was 16, not only did I have two abortions. but I also threw a baby into the trash.

I worked in the pathology department of a hospital that summer, and my job was to catalog the body parts from surgeries, and then to dispose of them once the reports came back.

On one occasion, I opened up a sterile plastic container, dumped out the contents (and  formaldehyde) into the metal strainer, and saw not an appendix, or a gall bladder, but a baby; a tiny little baby.

I had forgotten about this, not forever, but for a long time, and it wasn’t until tonight that I truly felt what it was that I faced all those years ago.

Recently, some of my anti-abortion friends on Facebook have been posting abortion videos and images, suggesting that those who support the choice of abortion should watch it; and I thought to myself, they’re right; if I believe that abortion should be legal, which I do; I should be able to face what it looks like.

So I did, I clicked on a tab that said “Abortion Pictures.”

And suddenly I remembered…

the baby in the plastic cup.

At the time, I thought she must have been only a couple months old, but now I realize that she was at least 5 months old; because although she could fit into my hand, she was perfectly formed, legs curled up and all.

Though I had easily disposed of hundreds of bodily organs, I left her waiting on the shelf for some time.

In retrospect this job at the hospital was too much for a 16 year old, but I didn’t know it then. I even said, “Go ahead, I don’t mind,” when they asked if they could do an autopsy in the room while I worked at the sink (because Pathology was housed in the Morgue at the time.)

There were jars of organs on shelves; one jar of someone I knew who had died in a recent plane crash. There was a man in the freezer on a stretcher with a single shoe. A sneaker. Was he hit by a car while crossing the street? I remember his big belly. He wasn’t wearing a shirt.

I did my job every week, and I was paid well, and for the most part I thought myself lucky, even if I did have to dump body parts right after lunch while nauseous with early pregnancy.

It was the prostates that bothered me the most. They looked like ground up hamburger, and I dumped them as fast as I could, without looking, while I gagged.

I’ll never forget the hard yellow tumor that I saw the Pathologist slice out of a large breast. The woman to whom it belonged must have been old and must have been too afraid to see a doctor until it had grown almost as large as the breast around it. I had a hard time rinsing that breast and throwing it away.

But in my imagination, the baby is still there, on the shelf, because I cannot toss her into the trash. She is not sitting in a strainer while I look at her, wondering what to do.

Instead I’ve taken her home, in a tiny box, and placed her deep in the earth, with a beautiful rose quartz stone.

I’ve said a prayer for her soul and for her parents who must be grieving.

I’ve wondered why miscarried babies are thrown into the trash and not buried.

And now I wonder what becomes of the aborted.

Where were you?

There is a field out beyond right doing and wrong doing. I’ll meet you there. 

woman, cryingVan Gogh (

If a 7 week or a 11 week fetus is a child, where were you?

Why didn’t  you come?

When were you planning on bringing the casserole?

What were you thinking when you said, “Try again.”

How could you dismiss such a loss without ritual or ceremony or a fruit basket?

But you did. All of you. Even those who came–in whispers–to say that you lost a baby once too.

Dark secrets…

Like those of menses. Unwed pregnancies. Abortions. “The Change of life.”

It is dangerous to be a woman.

malala_yousafzai_by_hanciong-d5ikyp7It always has been. Some of us sense that more acutely. Others live it.

Why would you give up or give back what so many fought to give forward? Why would you let a bunch of white men decide?

You say abortion is killing? It is. Everyone knows that. Especially our devout friends who also make this choice.

Mothers who choose abortion aren’t heartless or ignorant. They just don’t want any more children, or a child at 15, or one with a man who is cruel or one who won’t be there.

1011032_10151702454678746_1452961399_nYou want less killing? Support women. Support children. Support families. Support education. Support birth control. Support kindness and compassion.

My sister worked at a Crisis Pregnancy Center where they ministered to women even after they aborted. The Planned Parenthood Center where I went at 16 encouraged me to look at options. They asked me if I was sure. Again and again.

Love on women. Empower them. Educate them. Show them the development of a fetus at 6 weeks. But don’t ask them to have a baby that you will later condemn them for delivering–without a man or money.

If it’s the innocent you care about, show it. Show it to the children who are here, among us.

Stop pretending that abortion has something to do with Obama, or Democrats, or liberals. It’s us. We’re the ones who want to decide, who have to decide, who must decide–because our world depends on this sovereignty. Women make the world a safer place.

I’ve had two abortions. Two miscarriages. Two children.

I’ve loved all six of my babies.

Only two will have funerals when they die.

Kelly Salasin, April 13, 2013

More on women from my blogs:

Feminism or Make Believe, Two Owls Calling blog

22nd Women’s Film Festival, This Vermont Life blog

Violence Hides in the Home, The Empty(ing) Nest Diary blog

The Healing Eggs, Two Owls Calling blog

Father Who Used FB to Teach his Daughter a Lesson: A Human Rights Issue; Two Owls Calling blog

Feminist or Whore, The Empty(ing) Nest Diary blog

“First Love & Abortion” The Empty(ing) Nest Diary blog

Sarah Palin & Me, Part II. Choice & Health Care Reform, Kelly Salasin blog

Heaven’s Daughters, Two Owls Calling blog