All posts by Kristin Giuliani

A dangerous optimist. Wife to a stark realist. Work-from-home public health consultant and mom of three girls. Lover of truth, beauty and Jesus.

The Surprising Beauty of Poop

There has been too much depth and intensity around this blog lately. I figured it was time to lighten things up a bit with a topic near and dear to my heart, a topic that exposes my crazy like none other: feces.  

I could just be feeling sorry for myself, but I feel like in this household, we have shouldered much more than our fair share of poop over our parenting tenure.  

  
We’ve had constipation issues. There was a period of time where we should have bought stock in Miralax. We should have marketed our awesome homemade baby food concoction that we lovingly referred to as “poop cubes.” We had an ER visit for suspected rectal prolapse. We’ve had children crying when they even thought about having to poop.

We’ve had years of diarrhea issues. We’ve had two children with milk protein allergies throughout the first year of life, which involved all kinds of fun, including diarrhea 10-12 times a day with giant, weeping rashes wherever the poop touched their skin.  We found a child who, having gotten up in the middle of the night with diarrhea, was fast asleep on the little potty. We’ve had an entire month where diarrhea was so bad, we couldn’t travel, had to plan trips around town based on proximity to bathrooms, and supplement with electrolytes daily. Our toilet paper use to date could probably supply an elementary school. 

  
We’ve had issues we didn’t even realize were bowel related, including migraines, excema, years and years of night screaming and fatigue. I have been that parent who took pictures of poop and showed it to the pediatrician. I discovered an amazing app called the “Bowel Mover.” I’ve collected poop samples for lab tests. I’ve discovered that I have friends who love me so much that they will collect a poop sample of my kid’s poop to take to the lab (I love you, Sharon!). 

In short, we have been dealing with a lot of crap in this house. 

But, as I’ve been thinking over the common things in my life, looking for the fabulous, I realized something unexpected and completely ridiculous: our family poop saga has actually been a beautiful gift. Here’s how: 

Less embarrassment. Because we’ve had to be such close monitors of private bathroom time, we have been able to have lots and lots and lots of conversations about bodies and bodily functions. We’ve talked about what is “normal.” They have been able to see why it’s important to discuss and share the “abnormal” with parents and doctors rather than hide it, and how this information helps us find out what is wrong and make it better. We’ve helped to pass on the idea that all these gross things in the bathroom are just a normal part of life and they help us make sure everything is working OK on the inside. 

  

Greater scientific curiosity. Because of the aforementioned conversations, we’ve had LOTS of conversations about how the body works, where everything goes and why things come out looking like they do. We’ve discussed why tortoise and horse poop are great for our garden, but our poop is not. We’ve ventured into the realm of urine and chemistry and gotten urine test strips on Amazon to see how our liquid and food consumption affects the chemicals in our pee. Yup, we’re a normal family.  

  

Closer relationships. While there is still normal kid embarrassment with bathroom stuff, the topic is not taboo and they feel comfortable talking to us about what’s going on. Because we’ve been having these conversations on private topics as they have grown, we have established a respectful, safe closeness. This has allowed us to start to cross into other uncomfortable areas relating to bodies with less push-back. I am hoping this precedent continues into the teenage years. There’s nothing like poop to bring a family together.

I would never choose to have the string of digestive issues with which we’ve had to live. But I can see the glimmer of fabulous in our poop-filled lives. 

The Agony and the Sehnsucht: How I find the Fabulous in the Common

Laura’s beautiful post on sehnsucht got me thinking this week (if you haven’t read it yet, you should! My post will make much more sense!).

What is it that allows me to find fabulous in the common?

It has been a particularly challenging couple of weeks. So digging down to find beauty in cleaning up the 37th pile of cat puke or the 102nd glass of spilled soapy-glitter-water-fairy-dust-concoction may have produced a few mumbled expletives and much more yelling and fist pounding than was necessary.

So, I started watching for the transcendent beauty around me.

Sigh.

I wish I could say that I find all my inspiration in the sweet smell of sehnsucht wafting out of a panoramic sunset, woven through the tiny intricacies of a monarch resting in Nick’s garden, or intertwined with Lidia’s infectious laugh.

But I can’t.

Often now, this soul-nourishing beauty is crushing, deflating and debilitating. I return to my life, look around, and can only see the drabness, the endless monotony and frustrations. I think partly it is the season of life in which I find myself, where the sum of my daily efforts do not culminate in a beautiful aria that allows people to reach out to infinity. Right now, because of the huge number of pressing, urgent daily needs, it is so easy to get lost in the world that only surrounds my immediate family. However, over the past few days, I spent a lot of time thinking and rediscovering the lens through which I am able to discern the fabulous hiding in the common.

I need to see the agony of real life juxtaposed with the beautiful foreshadowing hope of sehnsucht. Then I need to let this juxtaposition inspire me to confront the agony and work to bring the reality closer to the hope.


I first experienced this my senior year of high school when I spent two weeks at The Channel, a school for kids living in a favela of Fortaleza, Brazil. I spent the entire trip completely dumbfounded. I had never before seen such extreme poverty right next to such extreme wealth. I had never seen such pain. Such despair. Yet, I honestly had never seen such hope, drive and joy as I did in the kids who attended the school. At the school, the kids were told they were important and their life had a purpose. They were given a hope, a glimpse of what should be. They all lived in a nightmare, but those kids did not let the darkness engulf them. They looked outside of themselves, saw the light in each other, and helped carry the pain of their friends and family. Despite the darkness, the sehnsucht let them see even the tiniest bit of light and beauty in the most common things – homework, laughing with a friend, a bowl of bland rice, a barefoot game of soccer.

 It completely changed me.

There is something forcefully moving for me when I am reminded of the depths of the darkness that exists in the world. It drives me out of my narcissistic pity party. It puts my challenges into perspective and helps me distinguish between real hardship and mere irritation. It allows me to see my prosperity more clearly and share it with others. It helps me identify, ask for and accept when I really need help. The menial, monotonous and mundane tasks that make up most of what I do each day suddenly seem like a gift, because the utter darkness makes even the faintest light seem like a beacon. Suddenly, sehnsucht is not a taunting spotlight that only serves to illuminates how lacking my life is, but is the aspiring hope that gives me the inspiration to fight the darkness.

I really only want to see the beautiful. But I realize that I need to accept them both together, the agony and the sehnsucht. The excruciating beauty that ignores the present reality makes my life seem unbearably common. Facing the agony without the hope leaves me utterly forlorn. Sehnsucht gives life meaning and hope. Agony forces me to have drive and purpose.


I think this is why we are called to bear each other’s burdens. It is why it is so important to us that we cultivate a habit of service and outward thinking in our girls. This is why we are filling up our garage with other people’s garbage. This is why I love organizations like The Channel and Preemptive Love Coalition, who confront the agony, but inspire us with the hope and beauty of sehnsucht.

Because it helps me to see the fabulous in my own common, and inspires me to diminish the agony of others. If I could only just remember. 😉