Saturday, May 30, 2009

there is transformation at the centre

This past Thursday I held a labyrinth walk at Damali Lavender Farm. It was an amazing evening of women gathering together to experience the metaphor for surrender as they walked the path. Everyone came with their own purpose, their own intention and were all amazed at what came out of the experience for them.

When talking about the labyrinth as a metaphor for our journey, a place of surrender and trust, I liken the arrival at the center as a place of transformation. Whether we are looking at it as a symbol of labour and birth or a new arrival in someones life, as we reach the center, we are transformed. On this very special spring evening, the women not only found a transformation within themselves, they also found a butterfly sitting at the center. What is a more vivid image of transformation that that of the caterpillar who goes into it's cocoon and emerges something beautiful with new abilities that it never had before? So much like becoming a mother....

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Labyrinths are ancient symbols and tools, some dating back as far as 7000 B.C. Some people walk them to meditate, some people use them as they pray, often someone will be seeking answers for something and through the quiet rhythm of walking the labyrinth, they may find answers within themselves.

In Birthing From Within classes, I use the labyrinth, or LabOrinth™ as a metaphor for labour, birth and postpartum. Unlike a maze where there are walls and dead ends, the labyrinth has a forgiving path. There is only one way in and one way out, allowing us to follow the path, trusting that it will lead us where we need to go. We are not required to figure things out, only to put one foot in front of the other. It allows us to turn off our mind chatter and be fully present.

As we walk the path of labour, we are always allowed to rest wherever we feel necessary. Some labyrinths will actually have benches on the path where people can take a break and meditate or just experience what they are feeling. In labour we are also given these benches. They may come in the form of a bath, a shower, change of music, nourishing food, even an epidural. We are given the grace to pause and do what is necessary to continue.

Once we reach the centre and give birth, we are again given the space to rest and pause. As we emerge from the transformation of birth, we slowly unwind and make our way out of the labyrinth. For many women this takes much longer than the 6 weeks we often hear about, for some it can take up to 3 years or more. This unwinding encompasses getting to know your baby, breastfeeding, adjusting to your new life, changing relationships, finding a new way to be in the world, negotiating sleepless nights, and so much more. As we emerge from the labyrinth we are transformed. We can see where we were going, and where we have come from and most importantly, where we are now.

On Thursday May 28, at 7:00 pm, I will be holding a labyrinth walk at Damali Lavender Farm in Cobble Hill. Anyone is welcome to come, whether you are pregnant, a new parent, or anyone who is on the threshold of a change in your life or simply looking for a space to meditate. You will have an opportunity to walk the labyrinth and connect to the path of surrender on your journey, whatever that is for you. This will be a beautiful and peaceful time and I look forward to seeing you there.

Cost: $5.00 (goes towards the upkeep of the labyrinth)

Friday, May 22, 2009


I found this video today that was created by a homebirth midwife in Oregon. It is a collection of families in her care that gave her permission to publish their photos. I often hesitate to post things like this, worried that I will send the message to anyone who is reading that I only support home birth. This absolutely is not true. The main component to my practice, both in my classes and in my doula care is supporting women in making choices that are right for them, including where they want to give birth . I truly believe that whether at home or in hospital, birth is an amazing, life changing, powerful moment in any woman's life, it is her right of passage and location doesn't change that.

For low risk women under the care of registered midwives, home birth has been shown to be a safe option for women and their babies. I want to share this video with you so for those who have never seen a home birth, you can have a glimpse of what it can look like.

Note: This video has some graphic images.

Grab a tissue....

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

what if....

Do you ever have those days when no matter how many cups of tea or coffee (pick your poison) you drink, you just can't seem to get it together? Those days when the dishes pile up, the laundry gets ignored, groceries stay at the store, the gas tank runs low, emails seem too much to answer, work seems impossible and the notion of being able to put together a complete, intelligent thought sounds like an insurmountable task? Those days where you wish you could just sit down and watch TV for a few hours and forget all that looms over you?

I am having one of those days. It is 12: 50pm and my major accomplishment of the day was running the dishwasher. I have so much to do and so little energy to do it. So as I sit here, I am wondering, what would it be like to just give myself permission to not roast the chicken for dinner, make the cookies, finish the laundry. What would it feel like to just sit down quietly while the baby naps and rest myself? Could I turn off my mind, ignore my need to always be productive, to somehow prove that I did something with myself for the day? Could I just be? And if I let myself do that, could I then muster up some energy to finish the day?

What if we all gave ourselves permission to just embrace how we are feeling instead of trying to run away from it? Our value is not determined by how clean our homes are, how quickly the laundry gets folded, or how lovely of a dinner we make. We are valuable just as we are. If we actually stopped to fill up our own tank, either with a nap, a book, a conversation with a friend or even with a little TV, we might not be sputtering through the day like a car about to die on the road. Children are masters at pausing, they often are able to stop and take stock of what is around them and what they are feeling and if we don't listen, they meltdown until we do. What if we could pause on this path of motherhood, before we had a meltdown? If you could take a break on the path, what would you do?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

our voices

I've been thinking about our voice as mothers, as women. How often have our mothers', our grandmothers', our great grandmothers' stories been lost? Do you even know the name of your great grandmother? Do you know what her life was like? How she navigated her way through a time and a life that had little luxury? My great-great-grandmother had 18 children and lived on a farm in Wales. Beyond that, I don't know much. My great grandmother Elizabeth moved to Canada from Belgium, lost her husband in the coal mines of Crowsnest Pass, moved to Ladner where her son built her home and opened a birth house. She was a midwife. Beyond that....I'm still searching.

When I first started my blog I didn't want to tell anyone about it. I wasn't sure if my writing was any good, if anyone would read it, or if I could keep it up. But, as someone who never liked to write "Dear Diary...", I took the plunge and started it anyway. Now 10 months later, I Love It. I love having a space to write from the heart, to be honest, and share what inspires me, what makes me laugh or where my journey takes me as a mother.

I have now started delving into other women's blogs and what I am finding is amazing. Has there ever been a time in history when women had such a public venue and audience to express themselves in such great numbers? The community of women out there writing about their lives inspires me. And the best part is, you don't need to wait until a book publisher decides you are good enough to write, you can just jump in. What's the worst that can happen? No one will read your blog? But in the end, does it really matter? This is a place for our voices and if for nothing else, it is an empowering thing to be a part of, even if it just for ourselves. For the first time in history, women all over the world are recording their stories. We are creating our own windows into our lives. Wouldn't it be amazing if you could read your great-great-grandmother's stories about her everyday life?

I encourage you to be brave, jump in and write something. Our stories as women, as mothers, are so valuable; you deserve a space to share, your story deserves to be heard. I write for myself, for my children, and for the community that brings us all together.

Monday, May 11, 2009

best mother's day present EVER!

Just when I thought I was working at a thankless job (motherhood can feel like that sometimes), my husband gives me the best gift EVER....a retreat for mothers in California with Karen Mazen Miller, amazing author of Momma Zen and a true inspiration to me. So, not only do I get to go to California for a remarkable retreat, I also get to visit my very dear friend who I haven't seen in 4 years....and I get to go on my own! Thank you Stefan!

Friday, May 8, 2009

motherhood is a journey

The moment we become pregnant our lives change forever. What was once a life all about ourselves, suddenly becomes about someone else. We think twice about that second cup of coffee, swear off sushi and walk with the knowledge that we are nurturing the life of a little soul.

Once that first contraction comes, we stand at the gate of labour and realize that we are now entering a new journey, one that is both unknown and one that we know will change us forever.

In my classes I talk a lot about birth as a labyrinth. Unlike a maze, labyrinths don't need to be figured out. They have one path in and one path out. We can walk them with a quiet mind, letting our thinking mind go. As we allow our feet to take the twists and turns, we know that all we must do is trust the path in front of us. We are always allowed to take a rest, even in the midst of the path until we are ready to continue. Once in the centre (which represents the birth) we pause and look back at where we have come from.

The journey out of the labyrinth represents the postpartum time. Unlike in our culture that says after 6 weeks you will be fine to continue life as usual, the labyrinth acknowledges the time it takes to unwind. Everything from getting to know your baby, breastfeeding, negotiating sleepless nights, changing relationships and so much more. Many women find it takes about 2-3 years to fully exit that labyrinth, certainly a substantial journey, one full of surprises, challenges and awakenings.

Motherhood is a journey, something that continues through the rest of our lives. We all experience it differently, however we all share a common thread. It is challenging, amazing, wonderful, tiring and asks us to surrender on a daily basis, always being willing to release attachment to our ideas of "what should be" to "what can be." Just like the journey of the hero (think any epic story-Lord of the Rings for example) motherhood takes ordinary people with extraordinary ability and transforms us into something so unexpected. So whether you are standing at that gate getting ready to step through it, or you are in the labyrinth making your way out, remember to be gentle with yourself and know that you must do nothing but trust your inner wisdom and follow the path before you. This is your journey.