Being the un-technological person that I am, I can't figure out how to move my old blog posts to my new website! so I have copied and pasted the lot over here!
I'm a bit funny with winter in Australia. On one hand, It feels like a half-assed season. Winter for a Canadian is snow and freezing rain and really, really cold for many months. Here, in Newcastle, It's cold and its wet and the cold seeps into your bones making it really hard to warm up. My hands are pretty icy as I type this in my cold kitchen. I am a summer born baby, a heat lover, a sun worshipper, someone who laps up the 40 degree days of an Australian summer. Winter? I struggle.
Trying to get out of my "feeling cold living in a house with inadequate heat" funk I'm going to think well of winter. A fire place, ugg boots, wooly sweaters and blankets, watching whales on their migration North. But the best part about winter? Hibernation. Going within. Spending time crocheting and contemplating my inner world. Watching the garden have minimal growth and knowing that there is so much brewing under the ground, waiting for the first warm days of spring to bring up the new goodness. So that's what I'm going to sit with right now. Warm cups of tea and biding my time.
So often in our culture we are pressured to always be on the go. Always producing something new, getting out there, working hard, being social, being out in the world with wild creative and fun energy. We are pushed to live the energy of spring and summer all year, at all times. We don't put much stock in having a winter. In hunkering down and staying in. In warm cozy nights under blankets. In having a retreat from the busyness of life.
As people who walk on the earth, we are the earth. Her cycles are our cycles. So what does it mean to have a winter cycle? It means that we can call on the energy of the Crone. The wise elder. The Grandmother. The one who has seen it all and knows that there is great power in being quiet, and watchful and still. It means we can call on the energy of Death, of transformation. We can watch the earth quiet, and become still. We don't see a lot happening in the top layer of our gardens in Winter, but there is magic brewing underneath.
Can we truly embrace Winter in a world that gives no respect to the dark, the old, the dead? I'm going to. No more whinging about being cold. I'll pull on a pair of mittens and embrace the icy wind that blows through our lane. I'll embrace the early nights and the wild dreams that come. And who knows what will come in spring.
People often ask me how I came to be a doula. It started with the pregnancy of my first beautiful baby Jarrah. I was unexpectedly pregnant, with no friends who had become mothers and the only baby I could remember was my littlest brother many, many years ago. So naturally google was my friend and that brought me to forums and the idea of a doula. My pregnancy was a funny time. All the big stresses came at once. Partner starting med school, having to quit a job I loved, moving states, dealing with Centrelink and Immigration all at the same time. To say it wasn't particularly enjoyable is an understatement! I had antenatal care in Sydney and knew there was no way I wanted to have my baby in a hospital like that.
I was more than 8 months pregnant when we moved up to Brisbane. Homebirth was out as we were now officially a penniless student family. I was too late for the local birth centre and the local hospital was a huge super medical facility that i didn't fancy having my baby in. So we decided to travel 3 hours to mullumbimby and use the birth centre there. I know! crazy! and in hindsight I think why didn't we just stay home? lets answer that one later.
I had a local doula support me in the information i might need but she was unable to travel to Mullum with us. The birth centre midwives were unable to see me before or after the birth. I was made to see the local doctor instead. Can you feel the pattern of disconnect yet? No continuity of care, no one travelling this road with me that would see me through from beginning to end.
In the light of a full moon my labour started. we left early to do the drive down with no traffic and I breathed and stared at the moon as we drove through the night. Once in the birth centre we tried to rest but it wasn't long before my labour ramped up. I spent many hours in the pool with my partner and a dear friend who met us for the birth. Breathing, moaning, crying, struggling, swaying, OMing, holding, releasing. My baby was determined to take his time. After a 20 hour labour and pushing and crowning for 2 hours my sweet boy was born with the caul on his head into the warm waters of the pool. sweet relief flooded through me. Until he stopped breathing and was rushed away, out of my arms, out of my sight. I sent my partner to be with him while I was supported by two new midwives I had never seen. It felt like forever before I could touch my sweet boy, and even longer before I finally had him in my arms and at my breast. I'll never forget the midwife who dismissed my fears and my pain. "he's fine, what are you upset about?" Those few words stayed with me through the initial disconnection I had, through the sleepless nights, through the baby who wouldn't leave his mamas arms, through the profound sadness I felt at what the fuck was wrong with this baby who screamed and didn't sleep and drove me mad? It was a long road to healing. Lots of reading and finding women who acknowledged my birth trauma rather than dismissing it. Herbs, sunshine, and wine helped too.
But it was this phrase which allowed me to finally see his birth as a gift. "We have the birth we need to have, to teach us what we need to know, to take us on our path to wholeness" Jane Hardwicke Collings. I finally started to find the gold in that experience. The power I had in myself to birth my baby, the experience of lack of support gave me the incentive to support other women in finding their power to birth their babies and that no woman should feel belittled, unheard, or alone in this amazing moment in our lives.
8 years later that little baby is still the boy who takes time. He is still a challenge, and a joy. He still watches the moon with me. And I still hold the knowing that every single woman deserves to be held and supported in how she wants to have her baby and be heard, acknowledged and loved through whatever that experience bring her. Women matter. Birth matters Each woman's journey is a transformational event and I am honoured every time I am asked into that sacred space to hold, and vocalise and pour water, hold hands, massage, and witness the amazing event of babies being brought earth side by their mamas.
I love circles. Women's circles, crafting circles, mama circles. There is something so nourishing about coming together with friends and strangers and creating a sense of deep sharing and intimacy. Coming together in that way creates a tangible magical energy that you can hear in everyones words and feel in the energetic pulls between us. Folks don't often want to leave circles because of the warm and welcoming space that allows them to be heard and seen with no judgement. When I explain to people that I facilitate women's circles I often get asked is it the circle or the people that creates the feeling? Well, its both.
Coming together with the intention of creating sacred space is powerful magic. Each person comes to the space with their own needs, desires and agendas. And hopefully what they find in that space is a place to be heard and held and feel whole. To be witnessed in whatever it is you are sharing is pretty amazing. It strips away all pretences and means that you are open and willing to have people see you as who you really are. And we are all so beautiful. When I host circles and workshops I always get the ego-fuelled anxiety of wondering who has booked, is it enough, worrying over who drops out or stressing over there being 5 not 6 people. and when I take a moment to take a deep breath and chill the fuck out I realise that whoever steps into that space is absolutely perfect. Maybe there will be a circle of 10 and its all about laughing and eating chocolate. Or maybe we will be a small group of 3 and each person needs a lot of time to share her story.
My biggest lesson in this came early in the days when I was running women's circles. Normally about 8 women would come and this night it was all cancellations and no shows and I felt a bit down and blah. I took it as being about me rather than being perfect. And the one woman who did come that night turned up with a homemade pizza and a whole lot of stuff to talk about so we sat in the kitchen munching pizza and talking for hours. And it was as sacred and beautiful and healing as setting a ritual circle. I learned a BIG lesson that night about allowing the magic of intention and creation to flow. A really big lesson about how this work is about healing ourselves and all of our relations, our sisters up and down the red thread. Not about it looking a certain way, or being a certain way, and certainly not about me! So much healing over one delicious meal!
After many months of transitioning to our new home I feel like I'm in a place where I can offer this space again to women. I have created a workshop called "honouring the Woman" which is in its 6th round. It's pretty awesome to write that actually! To remember the 5 other groups of women who have come through to circle, to gather, to share and learn. We come together and we connect. The healing and learning comes from each of the women who sit in that space. Circle as Shaman. So we talk about our experiences of being a woman, our menarches. We learn about cycles and goddesses. We get to experience what it is to create a ritual. We go on drum journeys and we honour each other with blessing the way of our journey as Woman.
I love this space. It makes my heart sing to be in circle. One of my missions is to bring this work to as many women as I can and for them to take the skills learned and bring it to their women and their communities. To do this, I'm giving away a space in my upcoming workshop. It's happening on July 26th and 27th in Mayfield. To enter you need to go to my Facebook page, like it, share the post with the details and comment on why you would like to sit in this circle. I'll draw it on the Full moon. You need to be local or willing to travel and be able to attend this workshop. If it is cancelled for any reason you will be able to attend a future workshop.
Today I took my dog for a walk along the beach for a spot of playing and whale watching. We didn't see any whales, but what we did see was a sign on top of a big bucket of tennis balls that was in memory of Zeke, a loved animal companion who has passed on and the gift of toys to play with on the beach in his memory. Reflecting on the sadness of losing your animal companion and what a beautiful gesture this was I was flooded with a huge sense of gratitude. Gratitude for my beautiful and faithful dog walking with me, for the cat and kitten warming their spots at home. Gratitude for my gorgeous partner who instantly responds to the friends who text him worried about their little ones. Gratitude for my sweet, wild children for happily going off to school and childcare and leaving me a few wonderful hours to dream and write. And really feeling gratitude that I have the opportunity to do the work that I do. That I can go away for days to the forest and sit in a red tent, that I can hold the space for women in a birth and witness them in their power of bringing their babies earth side. And deep gratitude that I can create workshops and spaces for other women to connect with each other. We are so, so lucky and blessed to be able to come together and heal our red threads in every moment of connection. So I decided to honour that feeling by having a giveaway to say thank you to all you beautiful people who have supported me over the years. Moving states is pretty huge undertaking and I feel ready to step out into my new home in the work that I do.
I am giving away the amazing "10 moons ~ the inner journey of pregnancy" by Jane Hardwicke Collings and a beautiful white sage smudge stick to say thanks. All you need to do is head to my facebook page, like the page, like the photo and share it on your page and you are in. I feel like there might be a bigger giveaway coming for a local to celebrate my new home so keep your eye on the page.
It has been a busy and intense time for our family. Moving to Newcastle and leaving behind our lives in Toowoomba has been a huge, scary and wonderful venture. Our new home is a stones throw from the beach and the salty air seeps into your pours. What should be a time of bliss has been a time of deep and difficult inner work. While we work out a life of new school, new friends, new routines and a partner still finishing up in QLD there has been a significant arising of wounds. The wound. The sacred would that we all carry, that raises its head and demands our attention.
In the midst of this moving chaos, I have left to the wayside all the things that nurture me. my bleed is shorter and painful, i find no time for retreat. I am lost in the moon cycle, not even managing to go an look at her beautiful face. There is no place for journeying in a house filled with cardboard boxes and mess. There is no time for meditation when mediation between 2 small children is needed. So in the bad moments of berating myself for "not doing the shamanic thing" a curious thing has been occurring. The sacred wound has been gnawing at me, opening up, bleeding a bit into my psyche.
It comes up at the funniest times. when I am offered a drink or an invitation to come over by my new neighbours it is there. the voice that says they don't really want me, they don't really like me. It's the cold feeling that comes sitting at a table with new people and feeling like the 9th wheel. It's the sadness that wells up when safely behind my own fence that i am not the loved one. That wound has been commanding my attention for 3 weeks now, relentlessly clawing in my heart and mind.
And a glance at the calendar reminds me that in a couple weeks I will be taking my place in circle under the full moon delving deep into these wounds and our power animals medicine. And I have done exactly zero preparation work. And I can't help but laugh when I realise that my shamanic life is never left to the wayside and I am living my preparation work. It is in full force at all times, and I navigate it like the warrior and Priestess that I am. I feel it and I sit with it and I howl with it. And as the dark moon comes over us I give great and deep thanks for this teaching. I give thanks that once you step onto the path of mystery there is no veering off.
I've been spending some time and energy lately working on the workshop I am presenting at the end of May. I've called it "Honouring the Woman" and in the flyers I've been printing, the facebook invites I've been sharing, I've been pondering what does that actually mean? What does it mean to Honour a woman? In workshop space we sit in circle, we hold hands and connect in a magickal space. we learn about bleeding and cycles and how it affects and connects us, we drum journey and we create moon rituals. And we walk away from the weekend feeling amazingly connected and refreshed.
And then we head home to squabbling children, piles of laundry, dinner that needs to be made, and at my house it is the same few things my son will eat on repeat! No creative release in the kitchen for me. The blissful feeling starts to go away and we can't wait for our next hit of juicy women's business.
How do we keep that beautiful connection and feeling all the time? How do we feel honored in our daily tasks and work, to feel and to know that we are awesome creatrixes, in every breathing moment, and not just when we do deep journey work?
Stepping into my power, really and fully understanding who I am and what I can offer this world, has been the best way that I can honor myself. From that flows everything: I am enough; I am wonderful; I am love; I am transformation. When I know that at my core, I feel honored in any role that I choose, be it Shamanic Midwife or tired mumma. Since claiming my power, I have felt at peace with everything I do, even when i lose my shit, I know I am enough and perfect as I am.
Lately, I have been grabbing some time for myself in the late hours of the night and indulge my creativity. I have been making necklaces that have been sitting in a box for years and crocheting several different projects at once. This act of simple creativity connects me to the women who have taught and inspired me to crochet and be creative. We have started a fortnightly craft circle and claim this space in out busy lives as time for us and us alone.
quick coffee catch ups, sharing over emails, connecting with photos when people live oceans away, drawing in the light of the moon before bed, lighting a candle for another woman who is labouring with her babe, bringing a meal to a new mama and family, It's all ways to re-member our sacred and special connections as women.
It's not easy to honor yourself when we live in a world that does not support our power and our strength. Weaving the connections with our sisters creates the network, the web, that is strong and supports us all to shine in our full power.
How will you be honoring yourself today?
Reflecting on the Harvest02/01/2013
This morning I woke up and was thankful that I was no longer having head spins and feeling off balance. I stuffed up my neck and shoulder camping and have been visiting my chiropractor to get the problem sorted. So it's been a few days of feeling pain and not feeling well, being ratty at the kids and them being ratty right back at me. Lali is fully embracing the two's and delighting our entire neighborhood with blood-curling, ear-splitting tantrums at least twice a day.
This morning I stood at the sink, washing dishes, doing the most mundane chore on the planet, looking out the window at the garden. The downed branches from the storm, the random plants that popped up from the compost are producing mystery fruit, the giant sunflowers still in their infancy. And i realize that we are coming into Lammas, the first of the harvest festivals, where we gather the fruits of our labors and give thanks for abundance.
So I start thinking about what fruits I have to pluck from my life. I think about the work that I have been doing with circles and red tents and how it has been an amazing year, but also extremely challenging on many levels. Lots of learning and growing, and that is not always the most pleas and a feeling washes over me. One that has been visiting over the last few months. it's cranky and irritable, it has no patience, it wants to run around screaming while at the same time hiding under a mountain of blankets in a giant bed. And the thoughts start. Ones that have been circling in my mind, when this mood sets in. I remind myself that I am awaiting my bleed, I try and honor that feeling. But it's deeper. The same issue raises its head, again and again over the last while and finally I ask myself "why is this upsetting me so much? why is it still affecting me?" and the answer comes with my hands deep in soapy water. It is tearing off the scabs of a very deep would. The wound, the cosmic wound, the sacred wound.
It is digging into that place that we try and bury, the issues we don't want to see. And I feel a releif wash over me. Finally it makes sense. Finally I can gain some understanding as to why this has affected me so much. My inner garden is crying out for some pruning and some tender loving care. I don't want to plant the seeds of this pain again. I can hold it, examine it, think about it, cry about it, feel it move through my body and ultimately I will see it flow out of me in a few days time when my moon blood comes to earth. I can know myself, I can walk this path of Shamanic Midwife and hold my own space for transformation.
So I decide I'm going to spend a few days being gentle with myself. Have a massage or two, watch some movies with buttery popcorn with the kids, indulge in the late night when i have time and space to think and write and dream. And I can treasure these gifts. As painful as it is to witness the process and be with it, I know that the gift of deeper understanding in how I am in this world is worth it.
So I give great and deep thanks, for the turning of the wheel, for the shift in energy, for the harvest, for the descent, for the blood.
One Billion Rising01/28/2013
Have you connected up with this global movement yet? Here is a exert from the above website that explains what it is about:
About One Billion Rising
ONE IN THREE WOMEN ON THE PLANET WILL BE RAPED OR BEATEN IN HER LIFETIME.
ONE BILLION WOMEN VIOLATED IS AN ATROCITY
ONE BILLION WOMEN DANCING IS A REVOLUTION
On V-Day’s 15th Anniversary, 14 February 2013, we are inviting ONE BILLION women and those who love them to WALK OUT, DANCE, RISE UP, and DEMAND an end to this violence. ONE BILLION RISING will move the earth, activating women and men across every country. V-Day wants the world to see our collective strength, our numbers, our solidarity across borders.
What does ONE BILLION look like? On 14 February 2013, it will look like a REVOLUTION.
ONE BILLION RISING IS:
A global strike
An invitation to dance
A call to men and women to refuse to participate in the status quo until rape and rape culture ends
An act of solidarity, demonstrating to women the commonality of their struggles and their power in numbers
A refusal to accept violence against women and girls as a given
A new time and a new way of being
So. I dare you to read that and not feel moved. I dare you to watch the clips on youtube and not feel like crying.
I remember being a uni student, many, many moons ago. We had the obligatory "how to avoid rape" talk during our orientation week. Even my pre-women's studies radical feminist self knew that was a giant crock of shit. How about an orientation session on "how not to be a rapist", how about some responsibility put firmly where it belongs, with the perpetrators of violence, rather than insinuating that women must be careful not to bring rape onto themselves. No one stood up in that session to protest the rape culture that was being perpetrated around us. We all looked around the room at the other women wondering which of the 1 in 3 would be the ones raped, and how fucking horrible it was that the stark statistical reality was that our friends, ourselves would, or already were, intimately acquainted with violence.
After learning, studying, traveling, being out in the world I'd say that the numbers are probably much higher. Had someone kiss you when you didn't want to? Call you a slut when you wore a short skirt? Had your ass groped when working as a waitress? Been leered at, cat called, insulted, stalked? Been coerced into sex with a partner because it's easier to give in than deal with the fall out of refusing? Had your car kicked, stuff thrown at you, spit at? Think that it's okay because it wasn't so bad, it's a one off, it doesn't really matter?
Well, it does matter. On February 14th I am RISING because I am not going to tell my daughter that I sat around and did nothing while the rape culture sets her up to be nothing more than a piece of meat. I am RISING because I am not going to tell my son that I did nothing while the rape culture sets him up to be an entitled piece of shit. I am RISING because I will stand with my sisters an fight to end rape, domestic abuse, sexual slavery, obstetric violence, harassment, assault, pornification and degradation. I am RISING. I am RISING. Will you?
So today is about 35 degrees in Toowoomba. It is hot and sticky and sitting under a tree with feet in a a kiddie pool is where I would like to be. But my wee one climbed into my lap and decided to have a nap, so of course now i cannot move for fear of waking her!. Every moment with a baby, a toddler, I am learning the art of patience. To slow down, to fully stop and just be in the moment. My natural state is to *do*, to be busy. I have a very difficult time sitting around and doing nothing. But this little one in my lap is teaching me how to relax, let go of to do lists and expectations and just enjoy the moment, enjoy the snuggles and the love.
Writing as Witness01/02/2013
In my very first blog post I have borrowed the title from a book that I read many years ago (and have re-read many times since) by an Indigenous Canadian writer named Beth Brant. Her essays were eye opening to me as a 19 year old university student. They made me angry, hopeful, happy. They made me think and more importantly they made me feel.
So I am starting this blog and opening myself up to something I have wanted to do for a long time, which is write. I'll probably hop around my life making no sense as to order or timelines. I will write about what I have done, what I am doing, and probably get angry about a lot of things that go on in this world. I'll most likely post a lot of pictures of my kids.
I will write as witness to my process and my experiences. And in this space I invite you to be the witness. To see me and hear me for what I am, a woman, a mother, a healer, a doula, a shamanic midwife, a witch, a daughter, a partner, a lover, a feminist, a dreamer creating her story and sharing it in this world.