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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Summer Catch Up {Part 1}: Clinical

Are we now in what people/Florence + the Machine would call the “dog days” of summer?

It’s hot and things are winding down before the start of school again (second year of grad school, baby, here we come!)

It’s been 5 weeks since I posted about life (besides this post), because, like I said before, life has been full. From ab-sore laughing to nearly punching walls out of frustration to crying happy and sad tears on the train, it’s all been very rich and very good overall.

I’ll split up the summer catch-up into a couple posts for everyone’s sake.

The 6-Week Physical Therapy Clinical Experience

I walked out of my 6 weeks working at an outpatient PT clinic b e a m i n g. Not because I was happy to leave but because I was beyond grateful for how much I enjoyed it.

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the sunset view from the train station on my last day of clinical

All the staff were incredibly compassionate and encouraging. My clinical instructors were laid back yet competent clinicians and teachers. The patients were welcoming and supportive of me while I treated them.

Usually, something like clinical — where I know I will be evaluated on my knowledge and skill base, ability to communicate, and ability to just be a good person — would make me feel anxious and stressed up the wazoo. But by the grace of God, I stayed pretty calm throughout the whole experience, and I think that helped me to think more clearly and bring my best to the table at each moment. I almost never did anything out of fear for being judged or ridiculed; I was able to speak, ask questions, and perform with a genuinely free heart, and from the feedback I received from my clinical instructors, all of that made for a successful clinical experience.

I made many mistakes and there is always so much room to grow, but I have learned that the two things that make me a good PT student (and hopefully a good doctor of PT one day) are honesty and humility always. This clinical experience has made me fall back in love with the profession of PT, and for that I am pleasantly surprised and grateful.

Odds and Ends

Outside of clinical, I’ve been enjoying lots of food and fellowship.

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I think the collage sums it up quite nicely. I’ve eaten many dumplings, seen my friends do many ratchet things (i.e. Sarah spreading dijon mustard on her sandwich using a baby carrot as we waited outside with all her stuff before dorm move-in), and spent a long weekend with nuns. Among other things.

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feeling small and weak and sub-amateur but He is not

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I’ve also been running more!

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I, like, kinda enjoy running now?? Sometimes?

This summer catch-up is to be continued… (Spartan Race and Bachelorette party!)

So tell me:

How’s the summer work/job been?

Are you headed back to school (whether yourself or your kids), and how are you feeling about it? 

Big Kids in the Big City

I just finished one of the best smoothie bowls I’ve ever made!

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How I made it: Last night I mixed together 1/3 c. milk, 1/4 c. Greek yogurt, 1/4 c. [dry] quick cooking steel cut oats, 1 tbsp. chia seeds in a bowl. I also sliced and froze a whole ripe banana and half a mango. This morning I added to a blender another 1/2 c. milk, the oat mixture, a lot of mixed greens, a pinch of salt, a drizzle of honey, and the frozen fruit. Then I blended ’til the cows came home (probably also ’til I woke up Madre, sorry :/ ).

This was the thickest and coldest smoothie ever, thanks to the overnight chia mixture + the frozen fruit. Topped with sunflower seeds, Honey Bunches of Oats, and sweetened shredded coconut.

All I need is a tropical beach.

Other fun eats from this week at home:

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quick cook steel cut oats (that 1/4 c. serving size is diddly squat) with butter-caramelized banana slices + Greek yogurt with the rest of the caramelized banana, chia seeds, cheerios, and sunflower seeds

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half of one of my lunches: salmon and hummus on top of the last of the spinach in the container (fewer dishes FTW)

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crockpot split soup – one of my all time faves

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overnight oats (made with the quick cook steel cut oats again, because that’s all we have at home), topped with sunflower seeds + Honey Bunches of Oats

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leftover split pea soup + salad with homemade honey dijon vinaigrette

I’ve also been eating copious amounts of Boom Chicka Pop’s kettle corn, because once you start you can’t stop.

On Wednesday I had the privilege of hanging out with some of my beautiful friends from Boston University in NYC! Casey, Connor, Louis, Adrienne, and Fiona ♥︎

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We met up in Times Square and walked almost 4 miles down to The World Trade Center from there. We lucked out with some gorgeous weather!

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I also lucked out when this famous bagel place was on the way.

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It’s called Best Bagel and Coffee, which is the most gimmicky name ever, but over 1,000 people on Yelp loved it, so I went. In Yelp I trust.

I went for bacon, egg, and cheese on a whole wheat everything bagel.

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Indeed, this was whole and everything.

Confession: This was my first NY bagel in my entire life. Like, I’ve eaten bagels in the state of New York, but I’ve never had a quality NY bagel until this day. I’ve only lived here for 12 years. I’m a slow person in many regards.

My bagel sandwich was absolutely delicious and great walking fuel while the rest of my friends built up a “hangry” appetite for lunch by the time we arrived at the World Trade Center. It’s so interesting being the only nourished one in the group. You just watch everyone else get angry and/or delirious.

After they were all fed at a gastropub called Suspenders, we walked around to the 9/11 Memorial.

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Connor is from Maine, so the big city was a bit too overwhelming for him.

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sees grass. lays down.

And since I’m queen of navigation when it comes to food places, I brought my pals to Rice to Riches (the most vulgar but amazing rice pudding place you will ever enter)…

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…and then Eileen’s Special Cheesecake (it was featured on Food Network, so you know it’s legit).

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Holla for International Women’s Day!

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A delightful amount of food, a crap ton of walking, and countless laughs with some of my favorite people (I kind of hate myself for the cheesiness of that last one…but it’s true).

When I got home, my body wasn’t sore and had a lot of energy for the first time this whole week, so I did a quick 16 minute workout in the basement (30 seconds work/10 seconds rest/4 rounds):

Yesterday started with that smoothie up there + a manicure and pedicure with Madre early in the morning, because I had to take a train right back into the city for lunch with Pop, my brother, and Christine from Boutiquefull (also my good friend from BU)! Christine met my brother and dad in NYC, since they all work down there, so Pop asked to take us out to lunch one day.

I wouldn’t usually take a 40 minute train + 20 minute subway ride just to eat lunch in NYC, but I’d do it for these folks 🙂

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We went to Harry’s Italian, and let me just say, thank God for complimentary focaccia bread.

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Also for giant meatball subs, one of my favorite meals on the planet.

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It was so fun catching up with Christine and hanging out with Pop and bro Ben!

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After lunch, I headed uptown to meet with a couple of the Sisters of Life. I signed up to be a co-worker for them, which is essentially a volunteer to help women in crisis pregnancies (with resources, babysitting, material donations, praying, just being a friend, etc.), so we just chatted about that and all about life (duh).

All the Sisters of Life are just pure JOY. Ugh. Love ’em.

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stopped into this church as I was speed walking to catch my train back home

Last night we went to flavor town (as Guy Fieri would say) for dinner. In other words, I roasted/grilled a bunch of veggies, Madre made salmon and rice, and we dug in.

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grilled eggplant with s+p

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Moroccan roasted carrots (olive oil, salt, pepper, Moroccan spice, brown sugar)

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honey balsamic roasted brussels sprouts!!!

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the crispy leaves are the best, and I pretty much ate all of them straight out of the oven

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homemade roasted bell peppers for the first time ever

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Madre’s perfectly cooked teriyaki salmon

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altogether now

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Madre bought apple strudels, so I ate one a la mode of course

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Fancy, eh? The occasion was our friend Brother Sam visiting for the night!

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‘Twas a lovely evening of food, fellowship, and watching embarrassing home videos with the guest.

I’ll catch ya back in Boston! I need to buckle down and study, because I spent 75% of this spring break reading blogs (#noragrets).

Hope you all have a blessed weekend!

So tell me:

Do you like to sip or eat your smoothies? Eating them out of a bowl with a spoon is the superior way, but your opinion is still welcome.

Have you ever eaten a real New York bagel?

One fun thing you did this week!