Another Beginning

We give birth to so many things in our lives.  We create art.  We forge friendships.  We beget children.  These are no small things.

What I notice most about the most significant births is that they are born from a place of surrender.  My ego gives up, and I let what needs to be born come forth.  With each of my children, such is the nature of their birth.  In some of my better writing, the words seemed to form themselves.  My most sincere friendships found their own way to my heart and took root there.

This home, this school, this town we find ourselves in now, I imagine the same holds true.  In the stillness of the morning, I marvel at the sunlight falling down through the trees.  I wonder at the moisture, the thunderstorms, having come from a place not far away experiencing harsh drought.  (Believe me, I’m trying to send the rain back home!)  I am here for formation.  For a true birth to happen, I will have to let go.

That doesn’t mean I let go of all that was, of all who are a part of my life.  In as much as this is a community affair, this is mostly a time for me to grow, not away from who I am but more fully into who I am, who I am meant to be.  No one says a birth is easy, nor do I hear often that they’re beautiful affairs to observe (aside from those who hold the process near and dear to their hearts when a baby is being born). But I give thanks in advance for those who will serve as witnesses to my own birth, who will hold the space around me, love me unconditionally, and remind me that the ground is still there when I feel I’ve lost my way.


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Happy Place

It’s come to my attention that not just laboring mothers need a “happy place,” some place – real or imaginary – to escape mentally when what is real is overbearing. Sometimes what we have to deal with is too much, and we need an immediate OUT.

I remember guiding my childbirth classes through such exercises, hoping to give them another tool for pain management.  Labor is painful; use what you can, and the more options you have lined up, the better.  When the physical demands start to overwhelm, it’s okay to put mind over matter.

Close your eyes.

Visualize your most favorite place in the world, down to the smell . . . feel . . . taste . . . look . . . and sound of it.

Have your loved one whisper about it in your ears or just hold your hand and be with you.

Before you know it, a minute has passed.  The pain subsides.  You might even look forward to the next contraction so you can go back to that magical place.  Maybe not.

Yesterday, in the office, we took turns, the three of us present, to share where we would go given carte blanche.  Where would we go?  What would we do?  Apparently we would scatter across the states and the globe, doing something we’d love or have always wanted to do, being with whomever we chose.

“I’m happier just thinking about it,” one woman said.

Maybe that’s inevitable.  listen to what your heart wants, let the mind pay attention, feeding it a little detail, and see what happens.

Even today on Facebook during my lunchbreak, I saw a friend post about her happy place, and in the comments I read how other friends were joining her!  We are attracted to what is good, no?  Take an everyday, mundane chore, and let yourself use the time to take a vacation.  Take others with you.  Enjoy it for the moment it lasts, and be happy.

Escapist?  Yes.  But for me, a moment to dream is not a wasteful use of time.  I have dreams.  There is so much beauty in the world.  I need to remember this when life bogs me down, heart and soul.  There is so much more to life than what I can see or even imagine in any given moment, and most of that is good.

For a quick reminder, I have a postcard of a German castle surrounded by mountains and trees in autumn color.  It works.  🙂

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“All Will Be Thrown Down”

-Mark 13:1-8

This past Sunday evening, I realized I hadn’t fully listened to the Gospel during the morning church service.  My lapse in memory baffled me.  Others were talking about how unpleasant a reading it was, but I had no recollection, no point of reference.  Could it have been that bad?

Ah, end of times talk.  All the buildings will fall.  Earthquakes.  Famines.  My husband saw the title of this post and asked me if it was about aikido.  No, not that.

But what if it’s not mainstream apocalyptic thought.  Jesus mentions that all this earth-shattering, darkness, foundational collapse “is but the beginning of the birthpangs.”  Now birth I can relate to, and I was listening during the service.  What I hadn’t heard was a negative message, one of destruction.  I heard about a fundamental shift, a promise of a new paradigm, a re-birth.  I heard what had to happen for God’s dream to be realized.

As an active participant in the Servant Leadership School, I’m familiar with the talk about how our authority-driven model is not sustainable, is grounded in fear.  To live into God’s will, God’s dream, would be to assume the servant role, to serve one’s self and others with unconditional love, compassion, to participate in communion.  The servant is in the receptive posture, vulnerable yet open to receive divine guidance, to channel God’s love.  It’s one thing to know this and quite another to practice it.

To live one’s life open to the Divine requires a new way of thinking, of being.  Throw down the walls that bind.  There is no ground upon which to stand.  The fruit of your labors might not be in sight and the path narrow and difficult.  The only sustenance you have is your Faith and a Love that surpasses all understanding.  This living is the active birthing.

The child to be born is God’s dream.  The light at the end of the tunnel is no other than the Light that illumines all.  Jesus knew this.  He lived it.  He was It.  And we, in our sheltered, self-centered lives are still rooted in fear and have yet to take the leap of faith into Faith.  If we could but live rooted in Love, we could get a glimpse of our lives as God sees them.  We could tap into the infinite potential written into our souls.

We just have to let all our illusions fall away, surrender to Love, and live what is real, what is here.  Now.  This is our practice.

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Plugged In, Tuned Out & Back Again

popcorn.jpgFor me, procrastination is an issue, but when I really need down-time (the time when responsibilities are on hold, the dishes can wait and I don’t have to think about anything seriously), I tend to pop in a movie.  Let’s just say I watched quite a few movies over the weekend.  I even took a mommy date to the movies, alone.

The movies are over and the responsibilities resumed, but I notice a common theme in the movies I watched and the movies I love most.  They’re all about women’s lives, the emotions, the trials, the triumphs, the friends and the families.

Driving home from seeing Four Christmases, I thought about movie moms.  Now, in all honesty, I had also just watched The Women at home before I left (since it was due back that day).  When was the last time a movie truly captured what being the average mother is like?  And by average mother, I mean someone who doesn’t have six-figure income, a live-in housekeeper (or one at all) or a nanny.  When was the last time a major motion picture actually depicted a true birth and what a mom really looks like hours after the baby is born, the awkward first attempts at breastfeeding?  (Though I must give thanks to Four Christmases for giving breastfeeding such prominence, despite the negative connotations.)

I’m grateful that we have films like The Business of Being Born and Orgasmic Birth to highlight true birth.  I’m sure there are films out there about real life, true mothering, that I just haven’t seen because they haven’t made it into mainstream.  It’s too easy just to grab the latest blockbuster than to research a truly good film that might actually invoke thought during the movie.

That’s not to say I don’t appreciate the drama of the movies, that which adds fiction or exaggerates an aspect of life to make it more interesting, comedic and/or romantic.  Honestly, I don’t think I would have loved Under the Tuscan Sun so much had the movie just followed the book.  And even movies about ridiculously wealthy women, I suppose, gives me insight into another way of life.  Perhaps some day I might shop in Saks or drive a Lexus, but I won’t consider myself a failure if that day never comes.  After all, why watch a movie about real life when we have our own lives to live?

Next time I movie binge, I’ll try to remember that the movies I watch will affect me in some way, no matter how tuned out I may think I am.  That’s just the way energy works.  Hopefully I’ll be encouraged to live even better.

full disclosure of movies watched this weekend in order of my preference:
Amelie (in foreign films section)
The Women (the new version w/ Meg Ryan as Mary Haines)
Four Christmases
Becoming Jane

the kids watched:
Horton Hears a Who
The Wild
Aloha Scooby Doo
(because my kids’ life isn’t complete without some Scooby)

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Access to Birth

A bit of housekeeping on the blog (as if there weren’t enough to do on the homefront!).  I will no longer be posting about birth on this blog, unless the nature of a story lends itself to appear here.

For local birth-related topics, please visit BirthNetworkNWAs website.

For good birth advocacy commentary and info, visit Birth Activist.

Other good “birthy” sites include, CIMS, Midwifery Today, Childbirth Connection, Unnecesarean, and a slew of others if you go searching around on your favorite search engine.

Birth . . . an every day miracle.

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A Birthday, an Anniversary

Ten years ago yesterday, my husband and I went to our 37-week check up to find out that we were going to the hospital to be induced due to pre-eclampsia.  I was huge and swollen but felt fine.  I wouldn’t be going back to class, though.  (I was still in college at the time.)

Ten years ago this evening, around 7:45 to be more accurate, our baby girl was born in the hospital, and I morphed from a pregnant mama into a mom — drugged, clueless, bewildered.  I had just done the hardest thing ever, experienced the greatest pain ever, was in the hospital for the first time in my life as a bed-ridden patient, and now I was responsible for a baby I couldn’t even see or care for properly.  It may be easy to understand now why I work closely with pregnant mamas and support other mothers.

I teach Bradley classes to help all who want to be healthy and know about the process, all who don’t want to walk into their birthing situations not knowing what’s going on.  I serve as a doula selfishly because it is a window into a sacrament of life, in my opinion, but I also sacrifice my time to help others have a more calm, peaceful, empowered birth.  I hope to advocate for mothers, to help them when they feel they need it.  In my ten years as a mother, I have learned these things can make all the difference.  All these things help mothers in their role, in their lives.

Being pregnant and mothering is not always easy.  It’s hard, frustrating and exhillarating all in a day, with windows of peace of calm (and not always just when the kids are sleeping, though that helps).  Time is our best teacher.  We cannot always go up to a woman and tell her the things that will make her “job” as mother easier.  I don’t know that I would have listened and heeded such advice.  Many of us have to experience it for ourselves, learn in our own time.

So on this, my daughter’s tenth birthday, I also celebrate the anniversary of my motherhood and revel in all the lessons I’ve learned along the way, a few of which I share on this blog, most of which I’ve either internalized or will experience again and again until at last I truly learn what it is I need to know.  I’ll always be learning.  Whether we have one child or four (or heaven help you if you have more!), we will never fully know or understand everything.

As I kiss the kids good-night I always wish them peace and love and hope that when it’s their turn to be parents, they will know more than I.  We do the best we can with what we have, which may sound cliche, but it’s true.

We didn’t plan the timing of our first child, whose birth was also induced, but maybe that’s what I needed to become the mother I am.  Maybe I needed the divine intervention because Lord knows if I knew what I would be getting into, I may not have been humble enough to choose this route!

Blessings and gratitude to my eldest child and to all us mothers who should celebrate our motherhood daily if for nothing else than for the fact that we are doing our best.  The rest is out of our hands.  Here’s to the decades to come.


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pregnant_belly.jpgPregnancy is an exhilarating time — all the anticipation, excitement and sacredness of what’s happening within.  Then there’s birth.  Ah, words can only try to capture what happens. We understand what’s going on physiologically, but for every woman, there’s a different psychological and spiritual story unfolding.  Let us not forget postpartum.  After all this excitement and focus on the mother, now the focus is on the baby; the woman that was once treated like royalty in her pregnant state is now a slave to this infant who is solely dependent upon her.  Hopefully she had a wonderful birth experience and developed the mama bear bond with her babe and gives of her time and body with a happy heart, for what wouldn’t she do for this new love in her life?

For the past week in my blogging absence, I’ve been working with our BirthNetwork for the BOLD Red Tent and the play “Birth.”  My time and energy were absorbed in the planning and nurturing of the events, and I had to draw some boundaries for myself (coincidental that that was my last blog topic, eh?).  Then, one by one, the events were born.  I suppose we had triplets!  Two Red Tents and one “Birth” play.  The events were fabulous, and I have earned a new level of respect for the women in my community and the talent and generosity therein.  I was amazed at the beauty of sharing, the diversity of stories, the openness of women’s hearts given the space and even amazed at my own ability to help pull something like this together — not by myself but with the help of others.

Now in our postpartum phase of the BOLD events, I miss the excitement, anticipation and connection with other women.  Those elements are too few in our society.  Yet it was a lovely birth, and I come away knowing that I have much work to do for improvement in maternity care.  In the words of one of my former midwives, I’ll “do it with a happy heart.”

I believe our lives are meant to serve, and I’ll consider it a blessing to serve the wonderful women in our community.  May we all be blessed with beautiful births, whether it be of children or of creative endeavors, and may we all feel the support of one another.


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Tell Us About Your Birth Experience — Launch of The Birth Survey

Today CIMS (Coalition for Improving Maternity Services) nationally releases The Birth Survey.  The major effort to make maternity care transparent is underway, and your story makes a difference.


  • Pregnancy, a naturally occurring part of a woman’s life, is treated like a medical condition.  The baby is a human, not a tumor, and in a majority of pregnancies, there are few risk factors.  Many of the obstetrical interventions, however, increase the likelihood that a woman will have complications from her pregnancy/birth.

  • The rate of interventions is more determined by the facility or provider than the woman herself.

  • In places where statistics for interventions and quality of care have been made publicly available, maternity care has been highly receptive to quality improvement, most likely because there were so many simple improvements to make.

CIMS, Lamaze International, Citizens for Midwifery and other birth advocacy organizations strive to improve the quality of maternity care — to make it truly mother-friendly — and believe that through transparency, the change will come.


  • When you go to buy a new camera, you read the reviews, check the sites rating the hundreds of cameras you have to choose from and talk to your friends to see what they’ve had the best experience with.  Is choosing your maternity care provider any different?

  • But when you go to look for a doctor or midwife, apart from checking the listings and talking to your friends, you’re not going to find which one has the best rates, provides the features that are most important to you — whether that be in natural pain management, low episiotomy rates or successful cesareans.

  • So, The Birth Survey aims to list the providers and facilities.  We’re collecting data so you can have a “features” list, the statistics for interventions.  And, we’re hoping you will share your experience so that others can learn from you, even outside your immediate circle of friends or those who bump into you at the grocery store.  (We know you’ll tell your story to anyone who will listen!)

Take a step toward making mother-friendly care a reality for all.  Take the survey (if you’ve given birth within the past three years).  Tell your friends.  Let’s paint the picture of what maternity care is really like so we know how to keep it good but to make it even better.

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Clay Mama Beads

Venus_von_Willendorf_01.jpgNot the most interesting title, but true nonetheless.  I’ve been wanting to do this since I myself got a Venus of Willendorf-inspired bead for my blessingway necklace.  I realize that making the tiny beads is a true talent.  Even making the bigger ones is a skill.  As I’ve just begun, please don’t take my experience as the rule.  Take it as inspiration!  I myself received a beautiful gift of a necklace from my roommate at the CIMS Forum.  She made her beads of polymer clay.  Beautiful is all I can say!  Nope, she’s not selling them, or I’d send you her way!  If you’re looking for ceramic clay beads, this looks like a good artisan site.

What I did:

  • Take a small wad of clay


  • Roll and smoosh it to get it compact.
  • Shape away!  I also used the coil technique 
    to add a little extra to the “belly.”


  • I used a tool (above the coil in photo above) to cut the hole through the bead.  Important to remember is that the clay shrinks about 10% when fired.  If you’re using a bead tree, know that your bead needs to fit on the steel rod loosely.  Also, when glazing, I’ll have to make sure to wax resist well so as not to get glaze round the rod/hole.
  • I’ll dry these and fire them with the rest of the items.  This will be a first, so I’ll have to update you on the process/results.I’m going to have my childbirth class make some tonight while we’re discussing birth.  It’s always good to engage the senses!


Have fun!

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