Physiology

[I’m feeling sentimental, so here’s a little something that I wrote four years ago shortly after I met my husband, KJ. Free time and internet connectivity are both sparse right now, so I won’t be writing anything new for a couple more weeks.]


We are just chemistry, the Wilderness First Responder instructor said repeatedly. Oxygen in, carbon dioxide out; the blood becomes acidic and basic, its pH signaling the brain to monitor the drive to breathe. Oxygen transported by hemoglobin, exchanged through narrow capillaries to perfuse the organs. The vital signs are a window to the critical systems. They tell us the status of the respiratory, circulatory, and nervous systems, the processes necessary to sustain life… 

If a patient has no pulse after a sudden trauma or fall, we are not required to begin CPR. This means the aorta has been ripped from the heart, its one-and-a-half-inch diameter emptying the body’s entire volume of blood into the interstitial body cavity in seconds. Death is instantaneous… 

The body is built to protect itself. The organs most susceptible to bleeding are protected by the ribcage—lungs, heart, liver, spleen. But there are exceptions: a little lobe of the liver hangs down below the ribs unprotected, where a sharp jab or well-placed blow can cause fatal internal bleeding… 

The first time we kissed, I felt KJ’s heart pounding rapidly in his chest. I was aware of the adrenaline surging through his sympathetic nervous system. My heart was pounding too, but his was more exposed, an offer of vulnerability, and it calmed me. I rested my head against his shoulder and watched the buttons on his shirt dance like puppets on the strings of his heartbeat, a rhythm so intense that it echoed through me.

The next night I lay in his arms, his cardiac muscle thumping gently below my ear at 70 or 80 beats per minute. It gave me immeasurable comfort, this pulse of life, a glimpse into his critical systems. I wanted to disappear into the curve of his sternum, my hand captured there between his hand and his heart. His fingertips stroked my shoulder as our feet touched gently, sending sparks to my limbic system. The tender lobe of my liver felt more and more exposed.

We are just chemistry. What are these rivers flowing through me, painting a strange and beautiful landscape? They take my breath away, altering my respiration unconsciously. When I think of KJ, my blood becomes acidic from too little carbon dioxide. I don’t realize it until my brain kicks in automatically to correct my breathing.

Exciting, but scary. To hand myself to someone, the unguarded lobe of my liver at his mercy. How can he not be scared? How can he open his heart to me, that tender juncture of smooth cardiac muscle and aorta so easily broken and spilled? Be gentle, I want to say. I am tender through and through.

Parenting by Type

Anyone who has spent time around babies knows that children have unique personalities almost from birth, but you may not know that even babies’ and toddlers’ personalities are influenced by their Myers-Briggs types. Nurture by Nature by Paul Tieger and Barbara Barron-Tieger is a parenting guide that recognizes that at all ages, a child’s unique Myers-Briggs type influences their behavior and their needs. It is never too early to gain an understanding of your child’s type and tailor your parenting approach to it.

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We are each born with one Myers-Briggs type that remains the same throughout life. According to the book, most children’s complete Myers-Briggs type will become identifiable around age three or four, with at least one of the four type dimensions identifiable by age one or two. Usually it’s the dominant function (Sensing, iNtuition, Thinking, or Feeling) that can be seen first. I have definitely found this to be the case, based on what I’ve observed in my 16-month-old daughter and her toddler friends. From the time they were barely crawling infants, aspects of their type have been apparent, and usually become even stronger as they grow.

As a Myers-Briggs enthusiast, I’ve been eager to identify my daughter’s personality type since before she was conceived. But I have to stress that this is not due to a desire to pigeonhole her or control her destiny; rather, I want to understand her natural tendencies so I can help her grow in the direction of her potential. Instead of imposing my interests and desires on her, like forcing her to be rational if she’s a Feeler or encouraging her to focus on solitary activities if she’s an Extrovert, I can help her define and explore her own interests, and encourage her to develop her strengths even if they differ from mine.

The book is split into two parts. Part One gives a detailed introduction of Myers-Briggs and tips to help you identify your child’s type. This section is very comprehensive and would even be a good introduction for adults who are interested in learning about Myers-Briggs and figuring out their own type. These chapters cover the basics of the four dimensions of type, the cognitive functions, Kiersey temperaments, and brief descriptions of each type. You will need to know your own type and that of your child, as well as anyone else in the family, in order to fully utilize this book. Continue reading “Parenting by Type”

An atheist mom

Apparently, a lot of people who don’t know better think my husband and I are Mormon. I can see where they might get that impression: we got married and had a child quickly, and at a relatively young age compared to our college-educated peers. I’m a stay-at-home-mom. My husband wears glasses and unstylish button-down shirts. I don’t drink caffeinated beverages.

If you’re one of the readers who clicked over to INTP Mom from my old blogs, Leaving Eden and Peaceful Atheist, you might know me as a former evangelical Christian who became an atheist while attending a renowned Christian college. A lot of people ask me if I’m still an atheist. I am, but atheism takes up surprisingly little residence in my mind now. I rarely read or talk about atheism or religion anymore. I would happily discuss it if asked but I don’t feel the need to initiate conversations about it.

My husband KJ is an agnostic and skeptic who never dabbled in religion. For him there was never a God, never the promise of eternal life, never a divine plan for his life. All of these things were once central aspects of my life, and when I became an atheist, I had to deal with the absence of them. KJ and I have very similar philosophies about life, morality, and values. For him, skepticism has simply always been the obvious, common sense way to live. That’s why, even though our beliefs about God and the supernatural are the same, he calls himself agnostic while I call myself an atheist.

Atheism is simultaneously very important and very unimportant in my life. I don’t think about it, but it affects every area of my life. Here’s a little bit of what being an atheist looks like for me:

Because there is no divine plan, I know that I am responsible for what happens in my life. I don’t expect things to be accomplished in my life unless I accomplish them. I don’t make decisions lightly because I know there is no such thing as fate. I know that there are direct consequences for all of my decisions and actions (and all of my indecisions and inactions), from my career choices to the amount of polyunsaturated fat in my diet.

Because there is no God to sin against, I know that the only forgiveness I need for my transgressions is from the people affected by them. I spend my time and energy on trying to do better instead of lingering over my unworthiness.

Because there is no afterlife, I know that the time I have with my family is limited. I savor every moment with them and I never miss an opportunity to give my husband or daughter a kiss.

Because there is no God, my husband and I know we are our child’s best supporters, advocates, and protectors. We do everything we can to keep her healthy and safe. We make sure she gets all her vaccinations on time, save and plan for her future, and keep up with the latest developments in pediatrics and child safety. We make every parenting decision consciously because we know that the molding of her character depends on our guidance, not divine guidance.

Eventually I would like to blog more about atheism, especially as it pertains to parenting. So far it hasn’t been a subject of focus because my daughter is so young and other concerns have taken precedence. If there are any specific topics you would like me to blog about, let me know.