Monthly Archives: March 2013

on birth and doula work


This week I had my first official experience working as a doula. It was a awesome. I got the idea to be a doula a few years ago when I took a training for a pre/postnatal yoga class for my RYT-200 through Yogafit. Teaching yoga is all about guiding people to breathe, relax, and move their bodies in certain ways, and it is something that has always felt really natural to me. Being a doula is a lot the same. I have had some misgivings though. For instance, I have not given birth to a child of my own, and I really do not have a whole lot of experience with new human babies.

However, having grown up on a farm, I do have a lot of experience with the birth, delivery, and life of new baby lambs and calves. At a very young age, I regularly witnessed and assisted in the births of lambs from my own flock of sheep. I have very early memories of being in the barn, helping a cow deliver a very big, breach calf. My brother had one of the calf’s legs. I had the other. I remember saying, “Wait until she pushes.” I remember working to gently, but firmly dislodge and deliver the calf. We were young enough to be left alone by our parents, but still quite young. Maybe 8 and 10? 9 and 11?

013

calves on the farm

After a good deal of effort on our parts, the calf was born, swollen and weak from a long labor and delivery. The mother cow was also weak. Eventually, they both gained the strength to start doing their parts–the mother to lick the calf and the calf to attempt to stand and suck.

007

lambs on the farm

I have always loved lambing and calving season. It is an exciting time on a farm, when life and death are immediate and when waking up to find a calf warming by the wood stove was not unusual. Throughout the winter months, I regularly did “night checks,” taking a flashlight into the clear, dark night with vivid thoughts of wolves and coyotes in my imagination, images that quickly faded once I was among the sheep or the cows and their peaceful cud chewing. 

Working as a doula was a lot like I expected–a lot like the birth I was familiar with from the farm. The peaceful waiting is the same. The unwavering optimism is the same. The assurance that the body is doing what it knows how to do is the same. The love and gentle care for the mother is the same.

This week, in my first official capacity as a doula, I felt quite comfortable in the birth settling. Since I am new to this work, there were moments when I wasn’t quite sure what to do, but those moments quickly faded away and were replaced by a clarity and a certainty in the process and in my role in that process. It was the kind of reassuring experience that was good to have at the beginning of my work as a doula.

The details of the birth are not mine to tell at this time. Suffice it to say that if people were exposed to the kind of power that women have while they are in labor, and if women were allowed access to that power (without unnecessary and disempowering medical interventions), the world would be a better place.

I know that my love for women has grown exponentially this week. And, I already really loved women. So, that’s saying something.

my bff wrote (another) book!

Here’s something interesting: if you preordered Elizabeth J. Colen’s Waiting Up for the End of the World: Conspiracies, then you had the option to add accompanying artwork with your order. First of all, I don’t think I’ve ever received artwork in the mail before, besides the mini-collages that EJC herself has sent me—usually in the form of CD covers. Secondly, how awesome is it that a book order comes with art? The artwork is great. I’m putting it in my boudoir. It will fit there perfectly.

020

The art that came with the book!

In addition to the artwork, I also want to write about the book itself. This is the second full-length book of poetry by EJC. It deals with apocalyptic notions and conspiracy theories. I’ll be honest, given its subject matter, I didn’t know if I would like it as much as her first book, Money for Sunsets, which is painfully beautiful and more about the kind of emotional experience that interests me most. However, Waiting Up for the End of the World is equally beautiful and portrays the consistently purposeful use of language that has become synonymous with EJC’s work.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from a poetic book on conspiracy theories, but the themes and tone are gripping and consistent throughout. The order of the pieces, the progression, and the placing are all masterfully done. For conspiracy theory junkies, this book will add depth and intellectualize the hobby for you. Those for whom conspiracy theories have no real hold will find conspiracies as a theme an apt critique of our dire world, held together by beautiful use of language.

If you want to know what’s going on in the world of poetry (and contemporary writing in general for that matter) you can order her book through the publisher or on Amazon.

our winter of pomegranates

Shortly after returning to Utah after a Christmas Break in Oregon, we received a giant box of pomegranates from Z’s dad, who has an orchard of pomegranate trees in his yard. He sells them commercially, and we were fortunate enough to get some this year.

016

box of pomegranates

Because it was the end of the growing season, we received a huge box of extremely ripe pomegranates that needed to be eaten right away, as well as a huge jug of raw pomegranate juice. I made it my goal to eat at least one pomegranate per day. I also did Bikram yoga once a day for 60 days in a row, which included an hour and a half of yoga poses, deep breathing, and detox sweating. Plus, I did an inversion on most days after class for a lymphatic cleanse. All of that was followed by a powerful boost of antioxidants in the form of pomegranates each day. They are especially known as a cleanse for the digestive system. Needless to say, I felt great and didn’t any of the various colds and flu that went around this winter.

033

beautiful pomegranate

There is something very poetic about having and eating a box of pomegranates. Pomegranates require patience and attention that is not normally required of food. To gently peal and extract the fruit takes time. Each tiny seed is a delight to eat and oddly satisfying, but the whole process requires attention. To eat a pomegranate, one must slow down. At first, I had no idea how I would eat the entire box. Then, I developed a habit, and now I miss not having them to eat. Until next year, I guess.

019

pomegranate seeds

 

daffodils and equinox

When I left for Vegas, the earliest signs of spring were appearing and daylight savings time had just begun. Then Vegas happened and I was entirely separated from nature for five days. (Vegas was fun up until day three, which is when I reached my saturation point.)

Right before I left for Vegas, the snow melted and out of nowhere, new grown from some sort of bulb started to appear! They symbolized something real and historic amid the weird new lawn. I snapped a few pictures.

001

Isn’t the grass so sad?

A new lawn was recently established at my rental. This was before I moved in. It’s nice to have a new lawn, but it somehow feels like a fake, GMO lawn, you know? Also, I would love to plant a few tomatoes along the side of the house, but I can’t mess up the “new” lawn. Oh yeah, and the guy who is paid to maintain the lawn rarely does so. That means the new lawn is usually super dense and really tall and not very pleasant in general. I didn’t realize how much I’d been worrying about the lawn…

006

But these are real beauties!

Anyway, when I returned from Vegas, these little darling little flowers were here to greet me!

Today is overcast and raining just enough to smell like iron and dirt. It feels very much like spring. And so it is.

¡viva las vegas! or something…

As you can probably tell from the last post, I left for Vegas feeling pretty wiped out. I’m somewhat of a delicate flower and require lots of rest and down time. Feeling wiped out is not a great way to start a conference vacation in Las Vegas.

024

However, I rallied and ended up having a really good time. Conferences for my work are often in the south or the east coast, and I didn’t realize how tired, achy, and jet lagged I usually feel at these things until I had one so close to home. I had a ton of energy. I think I set a personal record for attending sessions, and in general, really got a lot out of the experience. I also made time to enjoy the warm weather and the crazy touristy (and expensive!) stuff there is to do on the Las Vegas strip.

I was able to take Z along with me and that also helped make it fun. Not only did we attend sessions and have really great conversations afterwards about them, I also had a compadre–someone with whom I am completely comfortable to unwind with at the end of the day. I also spent a fair amount of time “live blogging” about the conference at this website. It was fun and helped me feel more a part of the whole experience.

So, while it was a great experience (and one of the best conferences I’ve attended), I was more than ready to leave. In Las Vegas, there is nowhere to escape the deafening music and seizure-inducing lights. I read a ton of reviews and paid a lot for the food, and even then it was usually mediocre, which I attribute to the fact that they’re feeding so many thousands of people each day. With those numbers, I get it: it’s hard to produce quality. Don’t worry, I still managed to eat. A lot.

Now I am back home in my stretchies, soaking in the peace and quiet. I can actually hear the birds chirping outside. The whole experience made me glad that I live here and not Vegas. I don’t know how they do it.

when it rains, it pours

I need some down time. Lately, everything has been coming together. These are things that I’ve slowly worked to develop since moving to Utah, and, as my mom would say, when it rains, it pours. For several years (after attending teacher traininng on pre/postnatal yoga), I began to think I wanted to be a doula. This spring was the right time, and I was in the right place. So, I took a few very intense days to train to be a doula was Kristi Ridd-Young, whose life’s work has been teaching and providing support for women in Utah and beyond. The training was incredible, but exhausting. It was actually a lot like a yoga teacher training in that way.

Now that the training is over, I can practice as a doula. I do not expect that I will do this work very often. In fact, to work with my schedule, I might volunteer at the university hospital. They have a volunteer program in place. It would help me gain the experience that I need, and it would be a way to do with the work that does not interfere with my normal day job.

After 60 days in a row, I’ve also had the real sense that I’m ready to practice some other forms of yoga. I’ve also felt like I need to teach again–like this is an important part of myself that I need to feed. I recently received an invitation to be on the sub list at a local yoga studio (on of the best in SLC). So, today I attended a power yoga class at this studio to try things out. It felt really amazing. I’m not sure the subbing thing will work out, but the process has inspired me to start seeking out work as a yoga instructor.

Needless to say, I’m a little bit tired from all of that. I’m attending a conference (and participating in various ways), and instead of feeling rested and ready for that work, I’m feeling a bit weary. I’m sure the time change today hasn’t helped. At least I know that this downpour will slow eventually, and hopefully I’ll look back and realize that this was a good time that was full of opportunity.

60-day double

Yesterday was my 60th day of Bikram yoga in a row, and so celebrate, I took a double, which is two classes back-to-back. I also missed one class a few weeks ago, and so the double worked both to make up the class I missed and to celebrate. My reflections are this: the rigorous daily practice has helped keep me happy through the winter months, the sweat provides a cleanse that gives my kidneys a break (sometimes I even smell ammonia emitting from my skin!), and I have a sense of warmth and friendship from the people who I see there on a regular basis. It definitely helps build my sense of community. It’s been a great experience, and it has made a daily practice seem normal. I honestly don’t know how people get through the day-to-day without yoga. I think because I have some asymmetries to my posture, I’m actually pretty stiff and achy if I don’t work it out on a regular basis. Maybe most people don’t have that?

That was yesterday. Today, I took today off. I didn’t intend to, but at the last minute, Z and I decided to spend some time together, eat pizza, and watch the first season of Enlightenment. I’ll be leaving soon for a conference in Vegas, and so I won’t be able to practice daily. I won’t be able to turn 60 days into 90 days in a row, and honestly, that’s kind of a relief. I’m looking forward to a more normalized practice, where I go everyday, but I won’t feel guilty if I need to (or choose to) take a day off here or there. Bikram is incredibly time consuming, and there are a few other things I would like to spend more time doing in my spare time, like reading and learning to knit new things. This has been a great experience. I feel amazing. And, now it’s over and that’s okay. ~ Namaste.

flickr image by kaiyanwong223

three things related to spring

1) It was sunny and warm here Friday and Saturday (in the 40s, maybe reaching the 50s at points). I took a walk each day, and the sun is showing on my face just barely. I had a lot of writing to do this weekend, so the breaks in the sun felt amazing. I’m attending a conference in Vegas soon, and I am so, so, so hoping that the weather will be warm and sunny. At this rate I could severely burn myself by the pool. It’s been solid winter here for months and months, and my skin is chalk white (but feeling and looking very healthy!). It’s anyone’s guess though; the weather could be rainy in Vegas in March, or it could also be the warm and sunny southwest that I love.

2) There is more evidence that birds have found my feeder (after two months of very little activity). This morning there were cracked sunflower seed shells and rustling sounds out there. I never actually caught it in action, and so I don’t know what kind of bird found it. Hopefully I’ll  be able to see it very soon. Since it is now March (how did that happen?!), new birds will be traveling through this spring, and maybe they’ll be more interested in the seeds than the winter birds were.

3) Yesterday I bought two Topsy Turvy tomato planters and one for strawberries. I’m excited to try these upside down tomatoes though. I really love where I live, but there is absolutely no place for gardening. I can usually be happy with just a small flowerbed. I just need something to tend. My rental has new sod and really no place to grow anything, which is really not a great match for me.

flickr image by techfun