Monthly Archives: April 2014

one little bird

Graduate school in Bellingham was a completely transformative time for me. I lived in a funky old hospital that had been converted into apartments. The town is old, and I lived in an old part, traipsing over wet sidewalks, over perpetually drowning earthworms, and slugs steadily on their way to eat whatever was left to rot in the garden.

In the rain and humidity, my hair turned into a giant mane of curls and frizz. I felt pale and soft and beautiful the entire time I lived here. I was heartbroken when I arrived and began teaching warily, badly, and writing, and reading, and saying something in class, and getting criticized, and being too brash, and being too quiet.

There were parties and there were coffee shops. There was the discovery of so many books and movies. A new world opened up to me. There were long walks along the bay. There were murdered bodies lapping up against the shoreline. I made my best friend there.

In school, there was a grand sense that we were doing something important with our work. In fact, I would say that an unusually high percentage of the people from that group continue to write. Continue to publish.

During my next graduate experience, the one that was not about art, the one that was more about getting a job, I met a new masters student who was strange and wonderful, possessing just the kind of smarts and weird that creates something new entirely. She was generous and reached out to me and others in small and unique says. Once, as an unexpected gift, she gave me a small wooden set of salt and pepper shakers in the shape of Oregon, my home state. To this day, I keep them in my office at work to remember. She reminded me of me and of Bellingham and  of the creativity and energy that we created there. She reminded me of art and ideas in ways that I had forgotten.

Yesterday, I found out that she is dead. I cannot say that I am surprised, because she sometimes seemed too great for all of this, but I am saddened by what the world is now lacking.

on love and loneliness

I grew up near Osho’s commune, where some pretty crazy stuff unfolded, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t have some wisdom.* Of course, I might also be biased because I absolutely love being alone, so I am naturally drawn to having my ego stroked by quotes like this that indicate that I must really, really love myself 😉

Photo: Words of wisdom from Osho.

*Source not confirmed.

on ghosts and spirits

This morning the freeway was completely shut down, and we were shuttled off and then back on. In passing, there was a small, snub-nosed truck bashed in and a semi-trailer askew in the road. Glass was shattered, and there might’ve been blood. We craned and craned our necks to see.

The other day, I waited in the front room of someone’s house, in the eerie morning calm, a woman’s voice came from somewhere in the most lovely, high Om. “She’s singing,” I thought. Later, we heard it again together, and she had not heard it before, and she had not been singing.

Once, my dying refrigerator let out a sigh so endearing, so piteous, so surprised to find itself in that kind of pain, that I quickly fell into a kind of mother’s love. When the motor moaned it’s last, sick “Ohhhh,” I placed my hand on it’s freezer and said goodbye.

In a windowless room, my lips dry, I stand at the threshold between this world and whatever red, watery one slowly emerged before it. Each baby is barely a thing, and suddenly you start seeing spirits everywhere.

the business side of things

It feels like I’ve ran around in circles figuring out the business side of things for my doula work. It’s hard, it’s a new language, but it gets easier. So far, I’ve worked as a doula on a very limited basis. To an extent, that will continue to be the case for me. I have a “day job” that I love, and that’s priority number one. Fortunately, my day job also allows me to comfortably take clients during certain times of the year. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how many opportunities I’ve had to work as a doula, during times that work for me personally, and how quickly and positively the referrals have been flowing in. It’s truly humbling!

It makes sense that I continue to maintain a modest doula business–even if it sometimes feels like more of a hobby than a job–because in my day job I’m beginning to do more scholarship on doula work. Also, I work as a volunteer doula for women who otherwise would not be able to afford a doula, and while that has allowed me to gain a lot of experience with really varied birth situations, the scope of working as a volunteer doula is also limiting in many ways.

Though I’ll admit I’ve had some doubts and fears, this work has come together for me in a way that makes me feel like it is meant to be. It’s similar to my work as a yoga instructor, and similar to my work in the writing classroom. Working as a doula is part of who I am. This is where I’m supposed to be.

Here are a few blog posts that are really helpful for setting up a shop and specific to doula work, all written by Andrea Lythgoe: