Martin Luther King, Jr. - My Hero
Martin Luther King, Jr. is one of my heroes. I know a lot of people out there admire him and even revere him; to me, he is a hero.
I list him on the top of my hero list.
He inspires me daily in the work that I do. Here are a few reasons why:
- He supported all people to be all that they could be; in a free and open society
- He worked from a place of strength, love and peace
- He was a non-violent man who stood tall, never stooping to vilify those he disagreed with
- He used his words to improve understanding, to make what he was saying clear and then even more clear
- He was unafraid
I work in and for a community that I love and have utmost respect for; the infertile community. I see daily how people are exhausted, ashamed, beaten down and humiliated by an infertility diagnosis. I see how they feel less than other people because of the often temporary inability to conceive and carry a pregnancy to term. I see how they (we) hide from the people we love and trust most; not sharing what we are going through or minimizing it.
Fertility Inspiration from Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. probably had no idea or inkling that he would provide fertility inspiration; that he would inspire someone whose life goal is to support men and women through infertility. That’s another reason that he is my hero; how far reaching his words and actions have been.
There were many times when Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke for his community; that is his legacy, his words and actions. That is who he was, a powerful spokesperson against deliberate and non-specific racism.
There have been many times where I have deliberated whether or not to speak; and then, what to say and how to say it. Martin Luther King, Jr. comes into my mind on occasions where there is something of importance that needs to be said, where being an advocate is more than listening in a loving way; where it means saying things that will be unpopular but are real. I think of him when I am speaking for my community. I think of him when a reader asks me what she can share with her mother who had four children, one after another and does not understand what she is going through. I think of him when I read research reports and sigh with relief that there is no causal link between fertility treatment and cancer. I think of him when I write about how it feels to be alone, reminding you that you are not alone.
Community Support on MLK Day
He is a hero of mine. I’m not entirely sure how he would feel about my using him and his words and actions to support my community. Perhaps he wouldn’t approve. Perhaps he would be upset about it.
One of the reasons that Martin Luther King, Jr. has withstood the test of time as a hero, nationally, internationally and in my heart? He has inspired me to grow from his efforts and, through that growth, I have learned how to effectively fight and support my community.
While he might not agree with my fight, nor support my cause, I have absolutely no doubt in my heart that he would respect my passion, commitment and actions to support this community that I love.
MLK Day, I will light a candle. I will say a prayer.
And I will say thank you.
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Photo: Flickr Creative Commons, AlvesFamily, Martin Luther King Memorial
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Inauguration Day Reflections
I have a slender book that has been in my possession for over 12 years.
It's title: "Why We Can't Wait," by Martin Luther King, Jr. It was written in 1963.
I got it because I like to read what a person has to say. Not what someone else says about what they say. What they say, themselves.
It feels almost miraculous when I sit here, reading the book, to read some of these words. MLK asks the question, "why did the civil rights movement leap forward in 1963?" He answered the question in a way that startled me, as I sit here in 2013.
The Presidential Inauguration and MLK Day
And even more startling as we all prepare for President Barack Obama to be sworn in as President of the United States of America. Today, of all days, on the day we celebrate MLK.
It was because it marked the 100 year anniversary of the emancipation proclamation. It was the centenial anniversary. Haunting, as this year, we are fifty years past when MLK wrote this book.
What, I wonder, would he think about the progress for the Negro people? We no longer use that terminology, of course, but that is the word that he uses in 1963, in this astounding book. What other changes would he see, that he would appreciate or be saddened by?
I'd like to think that he'd appreciate our country voting in Barack Obama, not once, but twice, even with so many problems facing our country, many of which have been blamed on the President.
It seems like the best way to understand a person, is to hear what they have to say. Without an intermediary. So, without further ado, I'll share some of what Dr. Martin Luther King said, in his own words.
The Words of Dr. Martin Luther King
"In 1963, the Negro, who had realized for many years that he was not truly free, awoke from a stupor of inaction with the cold dash of realization that 1963 meant one hundred years after Lincoln gave his autograph to the cause of freedom.
The milestone of the centennial of emancipation gave the Negro a reason to act--a reason so simple and obvious that he almost had to step back to see it.
Simple logic made it painfully clear that if this centennial were to be meaningful, it must be observed not as a celebration, but rather as a commemoration of the one moment in the country's history when a bold, brave start had been made, and a rededication to the obvious fact that urgent business was at hand- the resumption of that noble journey toward the goals reflected in the preamble to the Constitution, the Constitution itself, the Bill of Rights and the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments.
Yet not all of these forces conjoined could have brought about the massive and largely bloodless Revolution of 1963 if there had not ben at hand a philosophy and a method worthy of its goals. Nonvioloent direct action did not originate in America but it found its natural home in this land where refusal to cooperate with injustice was an ancient and honorable tradition and where Christian forgiveness was written into the minds and hearts of good men. Tested in Montgomery during the winter of 1955-56, and toughened throughout the South in the eight ensuing years, non-violent resistance had become, by 1963, the logical force in the greatest mass-action crusade for freedom that has ever occurred in American history.
Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. It is a weapon unique in history, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals. Both a practical and a moral answer to the Negro's cry for justice, nonviolent direct action proved that it could win victories without losing wars, and so became the triumphant tactic of the Negro Revolution of 1963."
Thirteen Amendment-Abolishes slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime.
Fourteenth Amendment-Defines citizenship, contains the Privileges or Immunities Clause, the Due Process Clause, the Equal Protection Clause, and deals with post-Civil War issues.
Fifteenth Amendment- Prohibits the denial of suffrage based on race, color, or previous condition of servitude.
What Dr. King's Words Mean Today
Powerful words, written by a powerful man. What do they mean to us today, with our battles? We are looking at violence, the right to bear arms, the right to personal freedoms and safety.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s words stand strong. 50 years later, they mean something, to the situation and problems we are creating in our country.
Powerful words from a powerful man.
And so we celebrate his birth and his life.
I'm focusing on gratitude today.
Balance yesterday. Gratitude today.
I'm grateful to look out my window, beyond the broken treem from our last major storm, and enjoy the misty light that is the world in this moment. Grateful to hear the shower on, listening to my husband murmur to the cat that he so adores.
I'm grateful for my fabulous job at RMACT. Oh, yes, so incredibly grateful. I do work that I love and feel passionate about and I get to work with a team of people that I adore. No exaggeration. Robin, Greg, Tally, Alicia, you guys especially. I work with doctors that I respect and admire. Dr's Leondires, Richlin, Hurwitz, and Murdock. And it just spreads out from there. Our clinical staff, our lab staff, our finance staff, our MA's, our administrative staff. Very full of gratitude for all of you this morning.
Check out Dr. Richlin on channel 12, he rocked the interview, because he was genuine and compassionate.
I feel very grateful for Fertile Yoga and the women who show up. They talk, laugh, question, make great suggestions.
You are my heroes!
Remember the mantra we listened to last night during Fertile Yoga~
I am beautiful,
I am blissful,
I am bountiful,
Yes, indeed. Full of gratitude this morning.
This may have to become a weekly standard.
Who's my fertility hero this week?
She's a nurse practitioner, who's been with Reproductive Medicine Associates of CT for many years.
She's the person who you ask for help from, get advice from and count on getting ideas without even having to ask.
She's the person who comes up with new ways to support patients and then teaches the staff on how to learn those new ways.
She's the one who emails you on Sunday because she wanted to share what a patient experienced and talked to her about the night before. Saturday night, when she took the time out of her private life to speak with a patient who needed help.
She's the one who goes to the medical, professional meetings and speaks about how to improve the experience at an infertility practice because of the respect that she has in the professional community.
She's the one who without fail, makes everyone around her feel at ease, even in the most uncomfortable, painful situations. Somehow, she manages these types of situations with grace.
While she is a comforting person, she doesn't hesitate to say what needs to be said. Even when it's bad news, she always delivers the message in a way that feels loving.
Perhaps the part that always feels remarkable is her ability to suspend judgement. She is able to listen and respond without pointing her finger at anyone. She helps each of us do our best and supports the effort without judging the outcome.
Monica Moore is my infertility hero today. She will be physically leaving RMACT, but will continue to work closely with our staff, from a new home. While we will all miss her physical presence, luckily, we will not have to miss her.
All of us are looking forward to seeing the new ways that she will create to continue the important work that she does at RMACT.
We hope that her landing in her new home is soft and sweet. And she knows that our hearts and best wishes are with her and her family.
I see infertility heroes everywhere.
All of us going through treatment are heroes, to me.
We deserve medals, trophies, awards, maybe even a crown.
Today, I'm presenting a crown to an infertility hero of mine.
Of course, I'm not going to name her here with her real, full name. I will respect her privacy. Some of you, our Fertile Yoga community, will recognize her anyway. It will be impossible not to because of her particular way of shining.
What do I want you to know about her? What do I think is inspiring about her?
I'll start with her honesty.
She's not afraid of saying her truth. Out loud. In real ways. She is sometimes, often, almost outrageous in speaking her truth. She makes us all laugh. Often. Out loud, with relief. She says, un-sugar coated, what the rest of us secretly think and feel.
Her honesty about her anger and upset concerning her infertility makes us all feel more open to admitting to ourselves that we feel those those things too. Our rage, disappointment, shame, upset and sorrow are feelings that we get to look at because she says them out loud.
We also see how she releases those feelings. She feels them, she says them, she watches them go.
She inspires me. She inspires a lot of us.
And that's not all. There's not enough room here to even mention the changes that she's made in her life to prepare her to become pregnant- her commitment to seeing Carolyn Gundell, (RMACT nutritionist), coming to Fertile Yoga, exercise and more.
The most inspirational thing about her for me is her love for children.
Children are in her life, she surrounds them with love and devotion.
Her honesty about this shines through as well as her honesty about her anger.
She glows when she talks about "her kids".
She loves them, sees them, adores them, knows them well.
My infertility hero is quite sure that she will be raising a child. No doubt about it for her. If the biological child does not come to her, she will move on to adoption.
She is simply not worried about that piece of it. She will raise a child.
Meanwhile, she has many children in her life who are lucky to have her. Who she is lucky to have.
She inspires me every day. To be more grateful, more open, more loving. She inspires me by continuing to show up as many of her Fertile Yoga friends around her get pregnant.
She inspires me by having get-togethers with her friends who get pregnant and who have their babies.
Often, she is the only one in the group who is without a child.
It takes a lot of courage and love.
She has it.
The child she will finally raise is lucky. That child will be born with a special blessing to have her as a mother.
I am drawn in by titles, there’s no question. When I think of those of us treading the path of infertility, on our way to healthy fertility, I think of us as warriors, heroes. Often I practice Hero pose in Fertile Yoga. Virasana. We are warriors; we are heroes, those of us battling with infertility.
Phenomenal Women, yes, you. Because you are you, not what you look like, how thin/heavy you are, how important your job is, or even if you are a mother. Because a phenomenal woman is just that, at their core, phenomenal.
Said best by Maya Angelou
Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.
It's in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman
Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
'Cause I'm a woman
Have a fabulous Labor Day Weekend...Enjoy the stormy weather...Breathe Deeply...
A story of hope. Fertile Hope. We all have our heroes in life. Mine tend to be close to home. My parents, who defied professionals and raised a child who had a little understood disease. My grandparents, who stood by all of us, even when barely comprehending the generational gaps between us. My Fertile Yoga
students are my heroes and I get to meet new ones each week. I say it often, and I'm happy to say it again here, infertility treatment
is not for the faint hearted; it takes a hero.
Oh, and my husband for being in our marriage for coming up on 26 years. He is my hero for putting up with me for so long.
Another hero of mine is Lindsay Nohr, a beautiful soul I am lucky enough to know. Lindsay is the founder of Fertile Hope, a not for profit organization dedicated to fertility preservation for men and women diagnosed with cancer. Fertile Hope is now part of Lance Armstrong's LiveStrong Foundation. (Another hero of mine, but that's a story for another day.)
Lindsay was diagnosed with cancer for second time when she was 24 years old. Yes, 24, yes, for the second time. Lindsay was mature and courageous enough to look ahead, to believe that there would be an ahead and ask about her fertility for the future. And there were no easy answers. So she dug and called and asked and kept going until she found Dr. Lynn Westphal from Stamford who was willing to freeze Lindsay's eggs. This was back in 2000 when the technology was in its own embryonic stages. Freezing embryos is a much more delicate process than freezing embryos; one far less successful. For those men and women facing cancer treatment though, it can often be the only or best option.
Her thought process when speaking to her physician concerning her fertility in terms of her cancer? "He said, 'Let's focus on saving you first. If you're not alive in five years, having a baby isn't an issue,' " Beck said. "I agreed, of course. But I thought there must be something I can do now."
Lindsay was 24 years old when she was diagnosed the second time. A year later, she founded Fertile Hope and has made it possible for thousands of men and women to know what their options are when faced with cancer and seeing ahead to their own fertility. Seeing your own mortality and being hopeful enough to still see possible fertility. That's why she's one of my heroes.