A Note Re: Feminism and Life

Last summer I almost left PT school to become a religious sister.

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I wanted to become like this woman, Sr. Bethany Madonna, SV. She’s a Sister of Life. The Sisters of Life are an active contemplative order, which means they pray a LOT (duh), but they are also ACTIVE in doing things in the world. Specifically, they are ceaselessly active in the work of helping mothers in any income setting and of every race who struggle with the decision to keep a child in the womb. They invite pregnant mothers and their children to live in their convent for the early years of the children’s lives. They provide oodles of practical supplies to families who are struggling and give emotional and spiritual support to fathers and mothers who are in the midst of the difficult period of having a child, wanted or unwanted. They help with logistics of giving up children for adoption. They hold joyous baby showers for single mothers. They go shopping with women who just need a pal. I went to the Bronx once to help the Sisters of Life babysit four children of a single mother so that she could have a tiny bit of rest for the evening. They are the mothers, sisters, listeners, and girl friends of women who are hurting (plus babysitters to their children and supporters of fathers). It is NEVER through force or manipulation but only through hospitality, gentleness, and self-giving love…and gosh darn it, I’ve never heard of anything more feminine than that.

Obviously, I’m not a nun right now. Ultimately, I didn’t feel like Sisters of Life was where I was meant to be, and I desired to come back to Boston to do clinical, finish school, and see what God had in store for me there (it’s been good btw). But the work of the Sisters of Life is not limited to just them, not just to those who chose that path of life. Because of the Sisters, married and single people of all ages and races help support this ministry – not just through a remote donation via Facebook but through real, physical help. For example, my friends and I had the privilege of visiting, befriending, and helping a happily married mother whose latest baby boy has an intestinal disease that required him and his mother to stay in Boston Children’s Hospital for 3 months last fall, away from their family. This wasn’t an issue of whether she wanted to keep her child or not, but this was an opportunity for support, kindness, and empowerment in her state of life as she supported the life of her son without her husband by her side.

This post is not going to answer or address every (or any) pro-choice argument that is out there. This post is not to toot my own horn, because I have done very little in the grand scheme of things. But this post hopefully shows that there is an understanding on the pro-life end that women need to be helped in order to help their children. I’m sitting on a plane currently, and the thought that comes to mind is, “Put on your oxygen mask before helping others.” Women, ESPECIALLY those who are victims of rape or incest, absolutely need to be helped in every way possible. But those “others” still need to be helped too. This post is to show that there is a way to do BOTH, and people are doing it because it matters. There are people, women, in fact, who make it their life’s work and mission to FIGHT for women – those in abusive relationships, those who never wanted to be pregnant, those who do want their babies but can’t support them financially. They do practical things in order to support and dignify and empower WOMEN while also protecting new life as well, thus raising up a whole host of new women. I, too, want to be a woman who can do both.

I’m not a Sister of Life; I am a woman who is pursuing a doctoral degree, but I don’t ever want to let go of this attitude and action of real, personal, compassionate support of women and their children. As a future physical therapist, one of the things I admire most about it is it’s inherent fight for the weakest and most vulnerable. We care for people who literally can’t breathe on their own, who can’t sit up by themselves, and we fight our dang hardest to get them to a point where they can do SOMETHING, ANYTHING functional. I think that same fight for an unborn child (yes, from the moment of conception) who may or may not grow up with a low quality of life is fair and dutiful. Can we as a society give them the chance at SOMETHING, ANYTHING in this beautiful life?

A law won’t necessarily change hearts to consider the life of an unborn child, but feminism like that of the Sisters of Life might, because they care about all life – those of women and those who have not yet seen the light of day.

There is work to do, absolutely, and Lord, allow me to do it wherever I go.

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The Great and Small Things I Learned {Grad School Year II}

Well well well.

If it isn’t the old BLOGGY BLOG. It pains me to see that I have only blogged twice in 2019 thus far, but I am hoping that will change as I head off to clinical this summer and look forward to a (hopefully…please, Lord) lighter semester in the fall.

I realized that I didn’t do a “things I learned” post after last semester, to which I *GASPED* because it has been a tradition to post one after every semester…

Talk about a trip down memory lane! Just looking at that long list of blog posts reminds me of the great privilege it has been to have had such a rich college experience — one full of the most wonderful joys and the most aching heartbreaks in every aspect of life. God is good.

Enough sap for now. There will be more sap sometime later in this post, I’m sure.

Here we go — a list of the GREAT and s m a l l things I learned in this second year of DPT school:

1) B’s get DPT degrees, man. Sometimes you just gotta celebrate that B-level grade with all the joy and gratitude in the world and then mmmove on with ya life.

2) I need to get more sleep to be a good human.

3) There is so much grace and beauty in witnessing your best friend enter into the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony *heart eyes x1000*.

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[Nicole Ellen Photography]

4) Evidence-based health care practice is possible and very important.

5) The why, how, and when to “crack someone’s back” (read: not for everyone and not super often). This is one tiny aspect of what I learned, in addition to a heck of a lot about treating many neurological conditions and neck/back pain, which involves mostly EXERCISE!

6) I’m a big Khalid fan. Also H.E.R. Just into those R&B vibes, I guess.

7) I am capable of taking lukewarm/cold-ish showers for 90 days straight (it was a fasting thing that happened before Lent and through Lent).

8) I have an endless list of weaknesses that seems to grow by the day, but this has caused me to learn how to lean hard into God’s strength and grace.

9) How to really think, pray, and reason through a relatively big decision, even if others do not approve of the decision I make.

10) Young people living out their faith steadfastly and truthfully can and will be persecuted for it.

11) There are many ways that I as a Catholic need to love others better. Through reflection and prayer, I have actually learned a great deal about how to be a better Catholic from my friends who do not share my faith. God has no limits and continues to humble me as a human being.

12) I COULD run a half marathon if I really wanted to run one. I have NOT yet, but I COULD.

13) My sides have gotten pudgier, but I have learned to embrace them and, honestly, I think I perform better in my workouts having them around ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

14) It is important and good to call my parents more often (love you, mom and dad!).

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15) Sometimes, if it’s past 10pm, conversation with friends is more important than studying.

16) “Athleisure” is the way to go, baby (95% of the time). Whether I exercise or not that day. Because studying in jeans is not a comfortable lifestyle.

17) I realized in the last month of school that having a daily goals list is a good idea. Go figure!

18) Studying with friends is very encouraging, motivating, and sometimes it even saves my butt when I’m like, “Wait, I didn’t know she posted lecture that we’re supposed to do on our own…”

19) Talking out loud to myself / a friend to study is helpful and probably my study method of choice. Writing things down is second place.

20) There are plenty of things that I need to constantly reflect upon or let others reflect back to me in order to know how to improve and grow as a person.

21) It’s never too late to ask for forgiveness, and it’s never too late to forgive.

22) Pioneer Woman’s cinnamon rolls are the best cinnamon rolls of all time (thanks to Sarah’s mom and to Zoe for making these and introducing me to such a heavenly treat).

23) How to not take straightforward confrontation/comments personally all the time.

24) I need to work on my spine mobility.

25) Using kitchen scissors to make a “chopped” salad is highly effective.

26) I’m starting to like my overnight oats a leeeeetle more liquid-y than I used to… just 1/4 c. more of milk perhaps.

27) A sense of how to teach and manage an inclusion dance class for children with and without disabilities.

28) I can make it to literally the last pair of underwear / socks before doing laundry, and that takes approximately 2 weeks only HAHA.

29) Talking to trusted, holy people about my inner turmoils and battles is very good and allows for a lot of room for grace to help me emerge from the struggles.

30) Even if I do not have make time to sit down and pray for 20 minutes each day, it is fruitful and good to talk to God throughout the day in between everything that is happening. It’s like texting/calling your best friend to keep them updated on every last detail 🙂

31) The people who have journeyed with me during my time in Boston are some of the most precious gifts I have received these last 5 years.

32) I have to start thinking about real-life things like jobs and ~the future~ in less than one year, even though I still feel like I’m just in school for the rest of my life. AGH!!!

33) I missed blogging. ♥︎ It was kinda hard getting the wheels turning, but here we are.

One more year of grad school to go, and I am both terrified and stoked. It’s been a trip so far, but I’m grateful for each day of the journey.

Thanks for tuning in, friends! I hope you are having a great May so far. We are almost halfway through 2019 — w-h-ho-hooaaaa. Why is it still < 50° outside right now though!?!?

Have a great week!

So tell me:

How has 2019 been for you?

What are some of the great and small lessons you’ve learned so far?

College/Grad school students: what’s new!? How was this year?

What is everyone doing for the summerI have a 12-week clinical at a hospital kinda far from home, which will be an adventure, I’m sure!