This Labor Day, women, men and children gathered in over 100 cities in the U.S. to support evidenced based maternity care as part of Improving Birth: National Rally for Change. In Jacksonville, Florida, we stood in front of Memorial Hospital (whose c-section rate is 44%) in like-minded & hearted togetherness. Each has their own story, their own reason for being there, but we all agree on one thing: we want CHANGE.
It’s not about imposing one way for every mother to give birth. We stood together to raise awareness that there are options beyond epidural or no epidural, to bring to light that women must educate themselves on birth interventions and options.
So many medical procedures have become routine (used without being indicated) and we have moved further and further away from nature. Evidence does not support induction with no medical necessity, automatic repeat cesarean, continuous fetal monitoring, restricted movement and IV fluids, yet these are all commonplace.
This overuse of intervention is like throwing a wrench into the system and it is not without consequence.
We want pregnant mothers to know that they can trust birth and that a gentle, evidence-based birth has potential to shape the relationship to their bodies and protect the optimal growth of their newborn. And it can be a source of life-altering empowerment.
This is the change we want to see. Powerful women accessing their birth wisdom to participate fully in all decisions and actions in relation to their pregnancy and birth. It felt so good to take to the streets with women across the country, knowing that we are a part of something bigger than any one of us could do alone.
We take to the streets with an understanding that all real change begins within ourselves. After many of us rallied, we joined Stephanie Dawn for the Sacred Birth Be-in because we recognize that “if a new paradigm of birth is to be born, it begins first with our own conscious awareness.”
I sat in awe after the first prayer & meditation that we have the tools to connect globally for the good of humanity.
If you are pregnant woman wanting to educate yourself, one good place to start online is www.childbirthconnection.org. Consider hiring a doula for emotional, physical and informational support 🙂
If you are a birth professional, you can register up until September 9th for the Sacred Birth Be-In (click on the link above), and check out all the events for Empowered Birth Awareness Week, including BOLD’s Virtual Town Hall.
A few weeks ago, I’m reading these <140 characters on Twitter: If you loved Rio+Social, check out the Social Good Summit. Within seconds, I’m ransacking the website, reading it backwards and forwards, practically turning it inside out, wanting to keep hold of the thrill and needing to know everything I possibly can about this conference that brings together some of the world’s most influential thinkers and innovative technologists to ignite conversation around using new media to make the world a better place.
I’m pumped. My juices are flowing.
Yet it’s as if I’m on the edge of my seat in the stands cheering on my favorite team.
Though bloggers are clearly invited on the court, who I am to play among professionals?
It had only been a few days previous that my five year old daughter came home with a question: “What is a professional?” My husband answered, “Someone who gets paid to do what they love, like a pro surfer.”
According to this definition, I am definitely not a professional blogger.
I couldn’t possibly consider flying to New York City to attend and participate in The Global Conversation with powerful social activists, corporate trailblazers and young entrepreneurs.
I’D BE SO OUT OF PLACE!
And with that one thought, I bind myself to the stands.
But guess what happens? Over the next couple of days, it’s as if the commentator’s voice booms on the PA, calling me to the court. And it fills the whole arena.
All I had to do was pay attention to what was happening right in front of me. I could no longer deny my attraction to global conversation and social media for social good. I “happen” to read Jennifer James’ blog about her attendance at the first Social Good Summit, where her feelings of intimidation and being out of place morphed into her most transformative moment as a blogger; for the first time, she saw herself as a connector, an opener of conversations, more than “just a blogger.”
Did she say she felt OUT OF PLACE? Wasn’t that my same thought, my same fear?
Maybe that’s what it took- the feeling of unease as I make my exit out of the stands.
Feeling out of place…to get in my place.
My place as a creator of global conversation, of new perspective.
Then Brene Brown’s words, exactly the right ones at exactly the right time, “happen” on my computer screen:
“Inspired leadership requires vulnerability and that often looks and feels like discomfort.”
Leadership and humility, they inter-are.
My decision was made. Plane ticket booked. Blogger status approved.
As if all this wasn’t enough, my dear friend Woody had been inquiring along the same lines and presented these questions to our community of women. Now they are yours for living into the answer:
What does it feel like to lean fully forward into the sphere of influence you have on others?
Similarly, how does it feel to shirk your influence by holding back because you are concerned that others might judge you?
I do not know how to write a poem.
they wait, faithful
Like the trees and the tide
If only I had the faith of the sycamore
Remembering that the poem comes
through the ease and the unease, the joy
and the pain, the all.
They travel along some secret stream,
glide over rocks
gurgling to the song of the cicada.
I do not know how to do what I want to do.
it waits, faithful
If only I could remember the way the soft grass
hugs my wild and precious self.
This is how I will come to do what I do,
Be patient towards all that is unsolved in your heart
And try to love the questions themselves.
Six years ago, when I was pregnant with my daughter, I was naturally living in the fluidity of playing with questions, similar perhaps to how my unborn baby played in the very fluid of life. I wondered: What if my child chose me? What if she has something to teach me? What if this experience of pregnancy and birth is full of potentiality?
Today, as my five year old attends summer camp, and I sit and read and reread the poet Rainer Maria Rilke’s words, I am struck by how much I understood about life during those nine months when my daughter and I swam in the deep, deep waters of life.
Do not seek the answers that cannot be given you
Because you would not be able to live them
And the point is to live everything
Today I wanted answers, I was lacing up my running shoes to resume my relentless chase toward solutions. You see, my mind really enjoys figuring things out, and most of my life I’ve let this solution-izing mind of mine lead me toward some finish line. Today, I had to slow down, I had to quit the race and re-enter the natural flow and pace of a life lived with heart. I sat still in my backyard and remembered everything…And the point is to live everything…live like you’re pregnant, just allowing life to flow through you.
Pregnancy is a tender and powerful time. As our soft and round bellies grow, the world grows softer and rounder, more pliable, less exact. As our bodies stretch and expand, so too does our consciousness. Our babies invite us to grow along with them.
Live the questions now
Perhaps you will gradually without noticing it
Live along some distant day into the answers
This article was originally published in Go Girl Magazine. I share it here to further get the word out- we all have the opportunity to bring our voice to global conversations, conversations to seed the future.
I arrived in 2012 on a wild mustang, bucking tradition. Now this may not sound like an easy thing to do, but let me tell you, it is much easier than how I’d entered previous years: holding on tightly to the reins of life.
It was when I tried to control life that I got it all wrong. In my effort to just get it right, I lost my wild and organic self. That’s how I woke up one day wondering whose life this is anyway. After all, doesn’t life cease to exist without spontaneous leaps and the liquid genius of life evolving? All I have to do is look at nature to understand my own true nature.
Halfway through this prophetic year, I finally see with great clarity that this is not just my story. This is our story. This is the universal story of our times- we are awakening to our whole nature. We are getting tossed around by the wild mustang, through things like financial hardship, depression, isolation, disruption, depletion of energy, so that we might finally loosen the minds grip and surrender. Surrender to the chaos and the mustang will settle, proving once and for all we are more than what we think, we are connected to everything and everyone on this living intelligent planet.
Looking at the crises in the world as an opportunity to jump into this higher knowing helps us to view the chaos in our own lives as a force for positive growth and vice versa. As a humanity, we have come to the realization that we cannot continue to live the way we currently do. We want a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world for everyone. We are propelled toward that future as each individual awakens to their own true nature. With more and more people waking up, we will begin to see new innovations, new possibilities and new creations arise. Take for example what is happening right now in Rio de Janeiro.
Nicknamed Rio+20, but what I like to think of as the wild mustang entering the collective consciousness, it’s the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. In what is proclaimed to be the largest event in the history of the United Nations, world leaders, NGO’s and thousands from the private sector gather to address and agree on smart measures toward meeting our greatest challenges, such as eradicating world poverty and creating sustainable development and peace for everyone.
Why do I think this conference is any different from what we’ve seen in the past? Because I can hear the galloping rhythm of the mustang drawing near in statements like this from the UN’s Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:
“Rio+20 should inspire new thinking and action…should be about people…should give voice to those we hear from least often: women and young people…should issue a clarion call to action: waste not. Mother Earth has been kind to us. Let humanity reciprocate by respecting her natural boundaries.”
Further, the Secretary-General and Rio+20 Secretary-General Sha Zukang introduced a new campaign to promote Rio+20 called “The Future We Want,” which provides an online platform for sharing our positive visions for tomorrow. This feels like real change in the right direction: using technology to connect with one another, to share our ideas, our visions and our stories of what is working. Rio + Social is yet another way to join the global conversation by harnessing the power of social media to gather and foster positive solutions to our biggest problems. And through World Pulse’s community platform, I was able to write a letter outlining my experience and recommendation (which is to put women at the center of birthing, both literally and figuratively as we birth this new co-creative world) to be compiled and presented at Rio+20.
The wild mustang has taken us to a foreign land- we’ve arrived in the new place of radical receptivity, where we are open to receiving. Both in our individual life, as we listen to the whispers of life and connect with who we really are, and in our collective life, as we begin to invite all voices to the conversation.
How will you bring your voice?
Or maybe the question should be, as my dear friend Kassie asked, Are you willing to ride a wild mustang?
World governments, NGO’s and other major groups will meet June 20-22 in Rio de Janeiro at the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development to agree on how to meet the immense challenges facing humanity. The agenda will include a range of smart measures toward eradicating poverty, creating sustainable development and peaceful prosperity for our planet and the whole human family.
Through their community platform, World Pulse, in partnership with the Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO) collected stories outlining women’s experiences and recommendations on sustainable and equitable development to be presented at the Rio+20 Conference.
On the heels of my Changing Birth Changes Everything blog, I thought- how can there be a discussion on sustainable development without the voice of mothers; how can Mother Nature’s voice be absent when addressing the livelihood of our planet?
So I wrote a letter, adding my story and recommendation. Here it is:
Witnessing the birth of a child is like witnessing anything in nature do it’s thing. It’s in these extraordinarily ordinary moments when life truly makes sense.
I remember the moment my daughter was born. Here came this new, fleshy and slippery being, placed on my chest. It was so hard to believe! Birth taught me that my body was capable of something my mind couldn’t wrap itself around.
We are all capable of more than we think. We are more than just thinkers. Our true nature is that we are not separate from nature at all. But we have stopped listening to nature and this is the biggest problem facing humanity, says bestselling author and leader in bridging science and spirit, Dr. Bruce Lipton.
We have stopped listening to Mother Nature and to the voice of all mothers, and no discussion on sustainable development will impact lasting change with this absence. I urge all governments, organizations and other major groups gathering for the UN’s Rio+20 Conference to pay attention and hear the collective heartbeat of a new world ready to be born. Just as Mother Nature creates new life by joining egg and sperm, this new world is being conceived through CO-CREATION.
We must put mothers at the center of birth, both literally and figuratively if we want to birth a sustainable and co-creative world.
Our possible future depends on recognizing and protecting a woman’s right to a healthy, safe and empowered pregnancy and birth experience. Renowned author and presenter at the Rio+20 side event, 9 Months to Save the World: Mothers, Key to Sustainable Development, Dr. Michel Odent says that “if we wish to change the world, we must change the way we are born.” At the side event, the World Organization of Prenatal Education Associations (OMAEP) highlights decades of science to support the radical proposition that mothers are the foundation for our sustainable future, ensuring that children are born with love and respect for themselves, each other and nature. I echo OMAEP’s recommendation to put maternity care at the center of health systems and development programs, with a focus on prevention and natural health.
I call for an end to what famous midwife Ina May Gaskin called “the demonization of women-centered birth.” We must go beyond the old paradigm of either/or (ie. hospital vs. homebirth) and begin to CONNECT WHAT IS WORKING. In making these connections, we give every woman a taste of the potential of birth- that she is part of Mother Nature’s plan to evolve herself in love. By co-creating together, new innovations and novel systems will begin to show up everywhere (we know how to give birth)! The current crisis in maternal health will transform when we listen a little deeper, to our genius, our connection to one another and to Mother Nature.
Birth taught me that my body was capable of something my mind could not wrap itself around. In the very same way, our collective body- our social synergy- is capable of creating this sustainable, peaceful world beyond our wildest imaginings!
WHAT IS YOUR VISION FOR THE FUTURE? YOU CAN JOIN THE GLOBAL CONVERSATION AND HAVE YOUR VOICE HEARD AT RIO+20 AT HTTP://FUTUREWEWANT.ORG
The other day I got to watch birth happen. I got to watch a woman pull up all the strength inside of her and use it to bring a newborn child into the world. I got to remind this woman of that strength when in her mind, she didn’t think it possible. I got to watch her body do what it knows how to do, and held witness as her body taught her mind the incomprehensible. I got to breathe and moan with her through the process. I got to see the baby’s head emerge, out of one world and into another. I got to see the father’s overwhelming joy and awe at that moment as new life came forth. I got to see this baby placed on his mother’s chest and breathe his first breath.
Witnessing birth is like witnessing anything in nature do it’s thing. It’s in these extraordinarily ordinary moments when life truly makes sense. We don’t get it in our heads though, where we usually make sense of the stuff of life; we make a connection somewhere else. Maybe that’s why it’s so hard to put into words.
I remember the moment my daughter was born. Here came this new, fleshy and slippery being, placed on my chest. Why was it so hard to believe? Didn’t I know I was birthing a baby?
My mind had been blown away and it was the sweetest release.
Birth taught me that we are capable of more than we think! We are more than just thinkers. Our true nature is that we are not separate from nature at all. When we start listening to this everything will change.
In the beginning, sleep was all I really yearned for. A good four hour stretch, and I might feel somewhat human the next day. I might perhaps feel like the girl I’d always known myself to be: prepared and in control. I wanted to feel my humanness–not necessarily an easy task for a new mom.
Ironically, though, it was the baby- the very one who was stealing my sleep- who woke me up to my full human being-ness. This is how it happened: Life started to get hard. It really sucked being sleep deprived. Later when my daughter started getting recurring ear infections, I thought- I should be able to handle this. I didn’t want to admit just how difficult it was for me! This was not who I thought I was! I felt ready when I arrived at motherhood, centered, and carrying with me an idea of how life was going to be.
That was the way I had lived- knowing what to expect. (There’s a reason What to Expect When You’re Expecting is the iconic book it is, because our culture places value on what can be known, logically, linearly, rationally). But life was introducing me to a new way, one that is creative, unknown, open and receptive. Life was giving me what I needed in the form of hardship and challenge and it was inviting me to create my own version of motherhood. I was being given the opportunity to define it for myself. To exchange the voice that says, “You should be able to handle this,” for one that says, “Surrender to what this moment is telling you.”
The impulses of creativity and evolving life are at work even in those moments when we want to pop some “Screwitol” pills.
Imagine this: The moment we say SCREW IT ALL is the moment we are being pushed toward something utterly new. Now that is not what we expected!
Barbara Marx Hubbard says, rather than wondering “What is wrong with me?” ask, “What wants to be born in me?” Maybe it is a new belief or a new rhythm to your life. Some thing wants to express!
It took a while for me to realize this, because in those dark moments, it’s so easy to just say Screwitol. But as I began to cultivate a space within myself, and as I engaged in new conversation with wise women, I came to see that Life is always in support of me. I’m no longer who I thought I was, the prepared and in control girl; out of the struggles emerged this new self- a woman open to the divine mystery of life flowing through her. Now all I yearn for is to be awake, wide awake!
No matter if you are a working mom judging yourself when you hand your baby over each day, a stay-at-home mom criticizing yourself because this is NOT the way you envisioned it (wasn’t it going to be all muffin baking Tuesdays and craft-making Wednesdays?); we are all trying to find the balance between caring for our children and caring for ourselves. Stop judging. Stop criticizing. Start creating something new. (It can be simple- create a new goodbye ritual, create a “mommy moment” in your schedule). And this is so important- start having these conversations with other moms! I invite you to start here in the comment section.
We dream a marvelous dream. We show up on bridges across the world and we bridge our minds to our hearts. We show up and we bridge a million hearts.
We dream a marvelous dream. We show up and we ignite a new kind of power. One that has been perceived as weak, but that is proving to be more powerful than anything we’ve ever known.
We dream a marvelous dream; except that we know it’s not a dream. Our souls are wide awake!
As thousands carried signs of peace to the tops of bridges on March 8,2012, we also carried with us a new awareness.
Imagine the world if young girls grow up with a sense of meaning and a knowing that the gifts they have to offer are worthy. With an inner and outer freedom to imagine and create new ways.
Imagine young boys growing into men with their feminine capacities un-compromised. They will be able to hold a holistic view of life; they will begin to use their minds in service to their hearts.
These are the children who hold the blueprint for our future societies.
It is not a dream- these children are telling the story of our potentiality.
How do you celebrate International Women’s Day? If someone would have asked me that question a few years ago, they would’ve heard crickets. What is International Women’s Day?
Growing up in the US, I’d never heard of this day, which happens on March 8th each year, and is intended to celebrate women’s achievements. Honestly, I was disconnected to what previous generations of women had done for me. My schooling focused on regurgitating facts- for example, I may have learned the date women in my country won the right to vote, but I don’t recall conversation around the women who fought for this right- their courage, their hardship, their determination in sticking to what they believed despite the consequences.
There is a lot I didn’t know. I wasn’t aware of the plight of the global woman, nor how our past affects us now. I wasn’t conscious of how the mass executions of women in the 16th and 17th centuries across Europe and America related to me, a young girl growing up in the land of the free in the 1980’s and 90’s. It wasn’t until I was a birthing mother in 2007 tapping into my creative power that I realized it was more than midwives that were burned; it was also the genius of all women. When we are told we cannot trust our bodies or our hearts, we get burned. And daily it continues each time our true voice gets silenced, or written off as lofty girl stuff. But every time we can follow our intuitive, receptive, connected, wise ways of knowing, we bring balance back into the world.
And as we know, the world needs us. The world needs us– girls and women offering their authentic gifts and voices. To change the world to the one in which we envision, we do what we’ve always known how to do- we perceive with our hearts and we trust life. We have been told our whole lives that it is our heads which hold all the power, yet if we get in our heads, we think- the world is a mess, how can I change anything, what can little ole Carrie Lee from Neptune Beach do? In other words, we want to figure it out, and we can’t! But when we awaken our hearts, we see the transcendent opportunity. In my heart, I trust that the crises we face are the opportunities to reclaim our genius, and that is exactly why we are here, facing what we face. Our genius is that we know how to give birth- not only to babies, but to ideas, projects, movements, revolutions! We know how to bring something new into the world. We aren’t here to fix the existing reality, we are here to birth a new one!
In that spirit, I will celebrate International Women’s Day 2012 by joining Women for Women International’s global phenomenon, Join me on the Bridge, that was birthed by the women in Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. In the middle of a violent war, these women gathered on a bridge that connects their countries to call for peace. In two countries where millions of deaths and mass rape span more than a decade, these women envision a radically different world, and dare me to imagine it with them. Women across the globe will gather on bridges, symbolizing that we can build bridges of peace and hope for the future. We are the engineers and architects of new kinds of bridges- the invisible ones that connect us all. We are the creators of new possibilities. We are opening our hearts and birthing the world we have always sensed was there.
Now I ask you: How will you celebrate International Women’s Day?
It is my deep desire that everyone reading this will awaken to something new.