Archives

Goddess Cookies!

Photo

You know you have people in your life who really love you when they make cookies like this for your mother blessing ceremony and carry them to you all the way from California! What a beautiful surprise these were from my aunt for my mother blessing ceremony last week. My aunt is a true cookie artist. For these cookies, she did not have a goddess cookie cutter, she invented them herself using a Christmas ornament cutter and a circle cutter to put them together. (See more cookies by checking out her page on Facebook.)

Mollyblessingway 156
Mollyblessingway 196

I couldn’t believe it! I felt like I wanted to keep one in a frame or something. Part of the zen of cookie art, as I understand it, is the impermanence, however, and so we ate them all up!

I have lots more to say about my ceremony as well as the many other lovely, thoughtful gifts I was honored with, but these were particularly special and so cool I wanted to share them in their own post before going on to other special things!

I took some pictures that night and put them on my Talk Birth page. I love Alaina’s winky face. 🙂

My aunt also made dragon cookies with the kids at Lann’s birthday party at the end of the week.

Thanks, Nancy!

Mollyblessingway 155

(*pro pictures taken by Karen of Portraits and Paws Photography. Non-pro, iphone pictures taken by me.)

Sacred Pregnancy Week 4: Honoring, Sealing, & Postpartum Care

“I am the strength of all women who have ever birthed a baby and I am ready to join that tribe.”

–Anni Daulter (Sacred Pregnancy)

August 2014 055Me to my husband last night: “so, I know I might look like I’m just dancing around with flowers in my hair, but I’m really getting certified.”

<Mark wisely refrains from wide-open joke opportunity>

Yesterday, I finished the last assignments for my Sacred Pregnancy class. While I primarily took this class for personal reasons and am glad I did because I truly think it was the absolute BEST thing I could have done for myself to get ready for Tanner, to spend some time focused on my pregnancy, and to get ready for another mindful birth and postpartum experience. I have also completed all the work needed to be a Certified Sacred Pregnancy Mini-Retreat Instructor. On October 1st, I start the Sacred Postpartum training program—again with a dual purpose of personal enrichment and professional development.

I completed some of the activities out-of-order and finished the silk painting and honoring crown from week 3 in conjunction with the postpartum and “sealing” work of week 4.

I chose to use my drumstick as my stick around which to wrap my silk, since the drum is one way I express myself. Bringing the words painted on the silk into my drumming seemed like a logical companion. My silk power was bold fearlessness! Zander and Alaina also worked on small pieces of silk with me.

I’d delayed making the flower crown I thought because I’d told myself that I’ve already had several flower crowns at different ceremonies and so making another one for “no reason” felt kind of redundant. However, after I finished my second silk painting, I looked behind me and saw some wildflowers and I realized I did want to make a crown and I wanted to be with real flowers and not artificial. I’d been going to do artificial since I have some and thought then I could at least check it off the list. I don’t like fake flowers though, I like real ones. As soon as I realized that there were enough wildflowers scattered around the yard that I could make a real one, I got excited about the idea. My daughter helped me find and cut the flowers and then we put it together. And, then took some picture with my new silk and the crown together.

“The first few months after a baby comes can be a lot like floating in a jar of honey—very sweet and golden, but very sticky too.” –American College of Nurse-Midwives

I love the idea of a post-birth sealing ceremony SO much. This is similar to a mother blessing, but it is held postpartum to help “seal” the birth experience and welcome the baby and the mother into motherhood (or mother of however-many-children-hood). Absolutely wonderful. I also love the song Standing on the Edge from the Sacred Pregnancy CD. I identify with it so much as I prepare for my next birth as well as to welcome a new baby who I wasn’t expecting to have. As I’ve noted often in recent blog posts, I’m working very hard to wrap up a variety of projects so that I can cocoon with my new baby and give him and me the time and space I know we will need after birth. I have gotten better and better at taking care of myself postpartum, in asking for what I need, and getting very, very clear with my support people about what is most important to me.

We actually made the flax pillows for the sealing ceremony at the beginning of the week and then used them on Sunday (Alaina and I made the PPD tincture together the same day as the pillows). My husband tucked me in with the flax pillows and scarf and draped the silk painting across me as well. I lit my pregnancy candles and listened to Standing at the Edge. I spoke aloud the things I celebrate myself for–all the projects and children I have given birth to.

As I was setting up my wrap and pillows, my almost-11-year-old son had said he’d like to do it too. So, after my own sealing experience, each of my kids in turn got sealed in the scarf with the flax pillows. And, then they went and got my husband and we sealed him too! For each, I offered a blessing: “I’m glad you were born. I’m glad you are my son/daughter/husband. I love you. Thank you.” I placed my hands on different parts of their bodies as I spoke and then ended with kiss on the forehead. They all loved it and were very calm and contemplative. I think it was good for all of us and was, in its way, a “sealing” of their births and our relationship.

While I always have had a mother blessing ceremony before the baby’s birth, this time I’m going to make sure to do a postpartum sealing ceremony as well. The birth I actually sealed most consciously was the second trimester birth-death of my third son. On my due date with him, which also happened to be my birthday, I did a ceremony outside by our little labyrinth and the tree where we buried him. I spoke aloud, “I am not pregnant anymore,” and took time to hold and honor the powerful, honorable, birth and release I’d given him.

I’ve written a lot about my own postpartum thoughts, experiences, and feelings and they are grouped under the appropriate category on my blog here.

I also want to share a picture of my new mother-of-four goddess pendant! This pendant, too, has been part of my personal emotional preparation to integrate the new baby into my maternal identity. It took a long time for us to get the cast right for this sculpt and I’m so happy to have it to wear now.

August 2014 073

 The Sacred Pregnancy online retreat training experience was a very positive one. Lots of personal benefit as well as professional development! I’m so glad I decided to go for it!
August 2014 070Past posts in this series:

Sacred Pregnancy Week 1, Part 1: Sacred Space

Sacred Pregnancy, Week 1, Part 2: Connecting

Sacred Pregnancy Week 3, Part 1: Fears & Forgiveness

Sacred Pregnancy Week 3, Part 2: Empowerment and Self-Care

 

 

Sacred Pregnancy Week 3, Part 2: Empowerment and Self-Care

I told you I had a Sacred Pregnancy weekend! On Saturday of last week, after my fears and forgiveness work, I moved on to some empowerment and self-care exercises.

I had been trying to find time to do the silk painting since Wednesday and kept feeling disappointed to not be able to make room for it. On Saturday it became Priority 1! I decided to modify the exercise for my whole family to do as a collaborative “welcome” wrap for baby Tanner, rather than tearing it up to wrap onto sticks as we were supposed to do. I’m going to do the tearing and sacred stick making on my own another day using a different piece of silk.

We listened to the Sacred Pregnancy CD and all worked together outside on a hot, hot August Saturday. It was a lovely, sacred, shared, collaborative project (with a touch of a chaos and a sprinkle of yelled, “don’t spill it!”). Very fulfilling and much fun.

Later in the day I also did my sacred bath and self-care day. My 3-year-old daughter and I made a special salt scrub for me to use using sunflower oil, sea salt, and gentle baby essential oil blend (made by my mom). After the empowerment silk painting (which was part of my self-care too), I set up a special altar in my bathroom, turned on Nina Lee, drew a Mother’s Wisdom card and meditated on it, and then did my salt scrub on my entire body, followed by a refreshing shower. I really took my time with the scrub and thought about how often I rush through or “don’t have time” for lotion or other personal care treatments after showering. I felt nice and “buffed off” afterward! (I tend to very dry skin.) I also had two cups of Caramel Bedtime Yogi tea that I’d made in a jar in the sun that morning. I “run out of time” for iced tea often too. So, this time I didn’t!

These next photos aren’t related to the class work, but they are very related to my own Sacred Pregnancy creative process! In addition to the Womanrunes book, we‘ve been working overtime lately to develop an improved production process for my birth goddess sculptures so that we can actually have them available on a regular basis. While still not perfect, we’ve gotten much closer during the last week and hope have four different designs ready to list in our Etsy shop over the next two weeks.

Sacred Pregnancy Week 3, Part 1: Fears & Forgiveness

On Friday and Saturday this past week, I took the time for a Sacred Pregnancy weekend. I did many projects from the class and it was a fulfilling, fun time. Reflection, art, and self-care, for the win! These types of projects are exactly why I wanted to take this class during my current pregnancy (I also went ahead and signed up for the Sacred Postpartum training, which begins on October 1st, and is therefore perfect for the month I am due).

The fears exercise for this week of training took me a while to finish. I wrote my list on Monday morning, but didn’t burn them until Friday afternoon. Interestingly, I continued to add to the list during the week, so I guess I wasn’t finished after the initial song portion (Grandmother by Nina Lee on the Sacred Pregnancy CD). I actually found myself waking up each morning over the whole week with the Grandmother song in my head. Anyway, after writing the list I tore it into individual strips. I waited until I had some time alone in the afternoon while my kids were visiting my parents and then I used the little bean pot I use as a burn pot/Kali pot to burn them each after reading them aloud. I had to play the song twice to finish them all! Most of them were connected to the development of my business this year, but some to my pregnancy/birth as well.

Anyway, when I got to my fear of being “too much” the paper flared up hugely and I dropped both it and my phone on the floor! Luckily, I hit the picture button as I was dropping it! (flare picture below) I found this significant and when I then moved into the forgiveness work the theme of being “too much” was actually what my Mother’s Wisdom card related to.

Mother’s Wisdom deck meditation

This was a powerful exercise also. I picked Oshun and got a much different message from my own interpretation of the card than the book interpretation I later read. I listened to the Standing at the Edge song on the CD while I journaled about empowerment immediately following the fear release and before looking at the book. You can see what I got from the card in my journal entries below. The actual card meaning was about balance and harmony in one’s family and life which is actually a timely message for me too, as was my own intuited message from the card.

As I explained in the class work online:

My husband and I have a creative business sculpting and pewter-casting and making jewelry together. We’ve really grown this year and have been pushing ourselves hard on our co-creative endeavors (hoping to wrap up development of some important stuff before our new baby is born in October). Our most recent was the completion of our first joint book project. I did all the writing, which was an 18 month intuitive process, and he did all the illustrations, design, and layout. We couldn’t have done it without each other! It was a perfect collaboration of our strengths and skills. However, we’ve been working and pushing so hard to get it finished and ready that our family had somewhat fallen out of balance and harmony! (So, the work has been in harmony, but the rest of our family needs have been getting kind of pushed aside!)

And, I know it is an overused analogy but working on a big creative project is similar to giving birth. My current pregnancy is very entwined with my current work and I was really interested to see how both my fears and forgiveness exercise work this week related to both my business and my pregnancy as creative processes and birth endeavors…

After this work and after my kids got home, I worked on my forgiveness tree. I didn’t include a picture of the one with the names filled in–just pre-names and post-colors. It was a good exercise too. I listened to Nina and did the card meditation (above) and then started on my tree and worked on it throughout the course of an afternoon. I’ve done most of the exercises for this class with the company of my little daughter (3), who is entranced by this kind of work. This time she did a painting of a goddess-fairy while I was working on the tree. I’ve never used watercolors before this class, so I’m not very good with them, but having fun anyway! Process, not product, after all…

*You did not miss Week 2. I haven’t made any posts about it yet. Just week 1:

Sacred Pregnancy Week 1, Part 1: Sacred Space

Sacred Pregnancy, Week 1, Part 2: Connecting

Red Tent!

In 2012, when we held our first Mamafest event, my eye was caught by this room within the beautiful setting of Tara Day Spa:

August 2014 013I wanted to have a Red Tent in this room! I could just feel it calling to me. The next year, when the time came to plan the event, I was dealing with a lot of different things and I knew I did not have the energy to also pull off a Red Tent event and so I tabled it again, but still, I saw that room that year and I wanted it.

The following year,  we started planning even earlier for Mamafest and I had been seeing posts and updates from the Red Tent Movie (Things We Don’t Talk About) and I decided I wanted to host a screening and a Red Tent event during our Mamafest this year. While there are things I would do differently in the future, notably that having a screening at the same time as another event was simply too much, I still feel so happy and pleased that I did it. I scheduled the film based on past experience in which the final half of Mamafest slows down in terms of traffic and so it seemed like the film screening would be a good way to keep people involved with the entire duration of the event. However, this year was so busy and vibrant and successful and energetic, it felt like it was actually disruptive to the flow to try to pull people away for the screening and the “calm” and contemplative energy of the film ended up not matching the celebratory, exciting atmosphere of the rest of the event. If I had it to do over again, I would absolutely do the screening separately and then offer the Red Tent space and mini-ritual during Mamafest itself.

Anyway, back to set up. We arrived at Tara Day Spa almost three full hours before the event was scheduled to begin and we needed every single minute of it, plus some. I am so grateful to my husband and my friend Amy who took over most of the actual hanging of the red fabric in the Red Tent space. When I saw the finished entrance, I knew I’d fulfilled my dream!

August 2014 023We set up the inside in an inviting manner with several little stations: a refreshment station with chocolate, tea, and bindis, a henna tattoo area, and a free jewelry making station. Due to size constraints, we actually had to make an “emergency” decision to move the screening of the film itself to the upstairs room at Tara. It was a little stressful to make this transition, but I think it was the right call. We did a mini ritual to open the film (had some technical difficulties getting the film equipment set up and I was extremely flustered to have to make this last minute switch, so that was not ideal for the mood I had wanted to create), we watched the film and then closed by circling up and singing a song together. We ended right on time and then it took more than another hour to dismantle and repack everything. This type of event is not for the faint of heart! Nor is it for pregnant women unless they have husbands and good friends to pack up most of their stuff for them! My midwife was at the event and we did a short prenatal visit in the Tent while we were taking it down. My blood pressure was reasonably normal, but my heart rate was 104 (normal for me is in the 70’s)!

We also had a Brigid’s Grove booth right outside the Red Tent space (plus, I brought the materials for our LLL booth and for the RBN booth itself. My car was so full!) I had mistakenly assumed that I could move between both the Tent itself and our booth and I told Mark that I thought it was unlikely we would sell anything, or maybe just a few dollars worth of charms, so I wasn’t concerned beforehand about adequately staffing the booth itself. My focus was on the Red Tent and on giving this experience as a community service, not on trying to sell stuff. As it turned out, our booth was much busier and more successful that I ever expected (we ended up making almost as much money in just four hours at this event than we did in two 12 hour days at the La Leche League of Missouri conference in Columbia this summer!) I am eternally grateful to my friend Amy who sat at our booth most of the time and did not get to enjoy most of the rest of the event accordingly. It was not her “problem” that I couldn’t divide myself into multiple people (can’t perform that magic trick until my due date in October!) and work at everything that needed me to work at it, but she was very helpful and I appreciated it so much. If I was doing it over again, I would have asked Mark to stay to work at the booth rather than taking advantage of my friend. He assumed it was a woman-only space and it would not be really appropriate for him to stay (plus, someone needed to take care of our kids), but really our purpose is not on an event that is exclusively for women, it is simply an event focused on woman-celebration and men can certainly be involved with that!

IMG_5663Another friend took this picture of me at my free jewelry making station. You can feel the 104 heart rate, perhaps, but also the satisfaction of mission accomplished. I did what I said I wanted to do three years ago when I saw that beautiful temple-like room sitting there waiting for me!

IMG_5659I would like to plan an ongoing Red Tent Circle throughout 2015 and I set up a Facebook group for Rolla area women who are interested in participating in future Red Tent activities.

There were a lot of fun activities as part of Mamafest and one of those was a photo booth from Little Mother Photography. When talking about props prior to the event, I’d suggested a cowboy hat and they brought one! I’ve never worn a cowboy hat before in my life, but when Kandi said she had it there especially for me, I had to give it a try. Unfortunately, they laughed too much at me to capture my lasso pose…

10385401_267689683431682_4380530872449780696_n(1)Other Little Mother photo booth pictures are here.

For additional pictures from Mamafest, check out the photo album available on the Rolla Birth Network Facebook page

When my friend and doula Summer and I conceived of this event three years ago, we said we wanted to plan an event that we also wanted to go to. And, we did it again!

IMG_5687

While Summer was the central organizer and coordinator of this event and I was also responsible for a large portion of it, many other friends and community members came together to make this a true success!

Huge, enthusiastic thanks to Tara Day Spa in Rolla for allowing us to host our event in their space. It is a beautiful and perfect and special setting for Mamafest!

IMG_5691Dream fulfilled!

Sacred Pregnancy Week 1, Part 1: Sacred Space

“Pregnancy often flies by before we have a chance to truly reflect on the miracle of it all.”

–Bonnie Goldberg (in The Art of Pregnancy)

Last week I started the online Sacred Pregnancy retreat training. This has been on my wish list of things to do for a long time and it shows up on my 100 Things list for the year as well. I purposely waited until this training though, rather than doing the earlier spring training, because of how it corresponds to my pregnancy. I’m 29 weeks today and in the third trimester! (What happened?!) I really want to experience this class from the perspective of Pregnant Woman as well as facilitator. I need some “time out” to focus on my new baby and to just be together with him and the process of being pregnant instead of caught up in the rest of my schedule. I feel like this online retreat class is a gift to myself. I remember as far back as my second pregnancy feeling like I needed something more. The regular old birth books and charts of fetal development and nutrition facts and birth plan worksheets didn’t cut it anymore (do they ever?). I had the same experience in teaching birth classes–yes, I could cover stages of labor and birth positions, but what about the heart of birth. What about the “mystery”? What about those unknown lessons in excavating one’s own depths? What about that part of birth and life that only she knows?  I find that Birthing from Within speaks to this heart of birth and so does Sacred Pregnancy.

The first part of the class is about creating sacred space and about creating a “pregnancy practice.” and I really wanted to make my candle and altar for and with my new baby and so that’s what I did. It was very valuable to me to center inward, in this way that I’ve been needing for a while now.

I worked on the candle with Alaina’s help, even though I originally envisioned working on it alone. I created a red candle because I already made a tall white intention candle at the beginning of the year and collaged it like my “vision board” for the year, so I wanted to do something different for this experience.

August 2014 061I used amethyst beads around the top because I have felt a strong attraction towards amethysts during this pregnancy. I used beads and charms from Brigid’s Grove, with the tree as a center point because it is an important symbol for us. The is a deep connection between this baby, the progress of my pregnancy, and the development and growth of our shared business. I chose red because it is a “power color” to me and reminds me of the blood, potency, and energy of birth as well as of the placenta.

I’ve gotten much better over the last year or so at intentional altar building and really delighted in the creation of my sacred space while listening to the recorded lessons for the class and also the Sacred Pregnancy CD. The CD is awesome and I wish I would have purchased it a long time ago! It is just what I need to incorporate some sacred pregnancy, centering, and “pregnancy practice” into my day. I like how I can turn on a favorite song while brushing my teeth, for example, and have that ordinary moment be transformed into a body-honoring, self-care, pregnancy “tune in” moment. I bought a very powerful song, Birthright, from her second CD as well.

August 2014 050

On the altar I put items that are special to me from past blessingways, as well as sculptures that I’ve made. I also painted a little wooden sign that says “laugh,” because I feel like in all my big push to finish so many projects before I have the baby, I’m not having very much fun! The paper I painted the wooden sign on show the outline of the letters and that is the part that actually shows up in this picture (the wooden part is behind the candle and at the bottom of the white “laugh” painting).

August 2014 053

“No matter how many pictures of fetuses you look at or how many scientific facts you ingest, pregnancy remains a stunning, not-quite-possible-to-grasp marvel, a naked connection to the enigma of life. You can’t escape the awe—and why would you want to?”

–Jennifer Louden, The Pregnant Woman’s Comfort Book (quoted in Celebrating Motherhood)

Tuesday Tidbits: Birth Blessings, Life, and Community

“I wish for you a life full of ritual and community.” –Flaming Rainbow Woman

Last week we created some sweet, simple little birth spirals by request for a Sacred Pregnancy retreat in Illinois.  After doing so, we felt inspired to create some more simple little designs specifically intended for gifting for a birth blessing bracelet or necklace at a mother blessing ceremony. We priced them in order to make them affordable for nearly any budget.

(Charms and Jewelry by BrigidsGrove on Etsy)

My inspiration for these birth blessing charms were two quotes from Jeannine Pavarti Baker that I shared in a past post:

The entire Blessingway Ceremony is a template for childbirth. The beginning rituals are like nesting and early labor. The grooming and washing like active labor. The gift giving like giving birth and the closing songs/prayers, delivery of the placenta and postpartum. A shamanic midwife learns how to read a Blessingway diagnostically and mythically, sharing what she saw with the pregnant woman in order to clear the road better for birth

Blessingways and the role of ritual | Talk Birth.

Baker goes on to describe the potent meaning of birth and its affirmation through and by ritual acknowledgement:

“Birth is a woman’s spiritual vision quest. When this idea is ritualized beforehand, the deeper meanings of childbirth can more readily be accessed. Birth is also beyond any one woman’s personal desires and will, binding her in the community of all women. Like the birthing beads, her experiences is one more bead on a very long strand connecting all mothers. Rituals for birth hone these birthing beads, bringing to light each facet of the journey of birth…”

For almost all mother blessing ceremonies that we hold locally, we incorporate beads in some way—either for a birth bracelet or necklace or some other creation (for mothers who have had prior mother blessings and already have a bracelet or necklace, we’ve done wreaths, mobiles, and even a “gourd of empowerment.”)

After this project, we worked out some example projects for participants at MamaFest 2014 to make for FREE in the Red Tent. They turned out pretty lovely as well!

And, considering the role of ceremony in our life passages, I appreciated this beautiful, pictorial exploration of a birth release ceremony designed for a mother who experienced a traumatic birth:

…if a woman PERCEIVES that she or her baby is threatened with damage; or FEELS horror, fear and helplessness at a procedure…even if this procedure is ROUTINE to medical staff; she can experience that as a traumatic event.This is REGARDLESS of her level of pain relief at the time.It is REGARDLESS of the fact that she and her baby leave the hospital alive and physically healthy.” ©Birthtalk.org, Melissa Bruijn & Debby Gould

via Birth Release Ceremony | – Jerusha Sutton | Doula Sydney- Jerusha Sutton | Doula Sydney.

And, speaking of support from other mothers, I enjoyed and identified with this poignant look at the longing for community experienced by so many women:

“…I miss that village of mothers that I’ve never had. The one we traded for homes that, despite being a stone’s throw, feel miles apart from each other. The one we traded for locked front doors, blinking devices and afternoons alone on the floor playing one-on-one with our little ones.

What gives me hope is that as I look at you from across the park with your own child in tow playing in her own corner of the sandbox, I can tell from your curious glance and shy smile that you miss it, too…”

I Miss the Village | Bunmi Laditan.

On a not-particularly-related note, but just as something I shared via my Facebook page recently, I also appreciated this new bed-sharing flyer from some of my very favorite LLL authors!

safesleepIt is available to download for free as a pdf via: Resources | Pinter & Martin Publishers.

Mark and I hit our sixteenth wedding anniversary at the end of July. We went to a BBQ restaurant and took the kids to the county fair, because that is kind of what life after 16 years of marriage looks like.  We also had a nice life-and-biz-marathon planning session and garden cucumber-and-cream-cheese sandwiches dinner while my dad watched the kids too.

These little drummers, while not sale-ready yet, symbolize the harmony and joy of co-creating our lives, love, and work together...

July 2014 049

“…There, in the unplanned darkness,
was unlooked for wonder,
joy beyond ornament,
song beyond instruments.

At last the bride came and like a white flame
blazed among her maidens,
in brilliance more stern and starlike
and vastly more magnificent
than the ribbons and confections
we had planned for that day…”

Rainy Wedding | Talk Birth.

(This post is from three years ago with a poem from a friend that she wrote in 1998 after our wedding.)

Backing up a little further into July (I’ve been really busy lately and my blog has languished accordingly!). July first was my “priestessaversary.” It is also my husband’s birthday AND his “quitzaversary”—the anniversary of his entrance into self-employment and a home-based life. A couple of weeks later, I got my newly completed M.Div diploma via email (physical copy coming later) and the date on it is….July first!

 

 

Rolla Red Tent Event!

poster

On August 2, 2014 in conjunction with Rolla Birth Network’s annual MamaFest event, we will be hosting the Missouri Premiere of Things We Don’t Talk About: Women’s Voices from the Red Tent.  I am thrilled to bring this film to Missouri and I hope many, many woman come to enjoy the Red Tent atmosphere during MamaFest. We aren’t just showing the film, we’re also having a real Red Tent event with free activities available from 4-8:00 (film itself from 6-8:00). If the event goes well, I’d love to continue hosting Red Tent events at other points during the year (perhaps quarterly). I already priestess a small monthly women’s circle and have done so for several years, but a Red Tent event would be broader in scope and open to many women of all kinds of belief systems and backgrounds.

Red Tents are safe spaces for all women that transcend religious/cultural/political barriers and just be about coming together in sacred space as women. While I personally have a Goddess-oriented perspective, Red Tents honor the “womanspirit” present within all of us. Within the safety and sacredness of the Red Tent, women’s experiences across the reproductive spectrum are “held” and acknowledged, whatever those experiences might be. (As well as menopause, menstruation, assault, grief, loss, etc.—it definitely isn’t just pregnancy related!)

In our Red Tent at MamaFest, we will have jewelry making, henna tattoos, tea, and bindis. I have a mini ceremony/ritual to do before the film starts, the film screening itself, and then a scarf dance and song to close it out. This is meant to be an inclusive setting/experience for women of many backgrounds and beliefs!

I’m still collecting red fabric and decor for our Tent and it is really exciting to me to finally be doing this, since I’ve imagined doing it for a long time! (Goodwill last week was a jackpot of red curtains!)

You can learn more about the film and about Red Tents in general by checking out filmmaker Dr. Isadora Leidenfrost’s YouTube channel.

I’ve also written some Red Tent themed posts in the past:

Tuesday Tidbits: Red Tent

Red Tent Resources

Tuesday Tidbits: Pregnant Woman

100 Things List!

mamafest 2014 flyer

 

100 Things List!

As part of Leonie Dawson’s Amazing Year workbook, I wrote a list of 100 things to do in 2014.  My blog has been fairly quiet lately, but that doesn’t actually mean I have been! A lot of the energy previously used for blogging has been diverted into other exciting projects on my 100 Things list. 🙂 I finished my second free gift offering for newsletter subscribers at Brigid’s Grove (if you aren’t signed up yet, fill in your email on the right hand side of the screen at the BG website and you will receive the free book within 24 hours). This freebie is a 56 page book of earth-based poetry. Most of the poems were originally published on my other blog, but there are several released only in this book (so far).

May 2014 078We’re also offering a spring giveaway of one of our new healing hands pendants AND also a 10% off discount code for our etsy shop (2014SPRING10OFF).

May 2014 062

“…Medicine Woman reminds you

to sleep when you’re tired

to eat when you’re hungry

to drink when you’re thirsty

and to dance

just because.

Medicine Woman

let her bind up your wounds

apply balm to your soul

and hold you

against her shoulder

when you need to cry.

Medicine Woman

Earth healer

she’s ready to embrace you…”

via Amethyst Healing Hands Pendant by BrigidsGrove.

Even more exciting from a personal perspective is that I actually finished writing my thesis. Yes, after all my many days of joking, “Oops! I didn’t write my thesis today!” I suddenly really did write it. I had more done than I thought and all I needed was some class-free, focused writing time (my spring school session ended this past Saturday) to get it to a finished position. It might be a first draft if significant revisions are requested/needed (the format is somewhat non-traditional), but I’m hopeful it might be a last draft too! I’ve been working on my D.Min since 2011. I realized last year that I had almost the right credits to do an M.Div first (since my existing master’s degree is in social work instead, I had to take a LOT of M.Div classes as part of the D.Min program), I just had to add a thesis and a couple of classes to the work I’d already done. So, I call it a “pitstop,” because I don’t really need to do it and I’m actually working on something else, but…here I go! I also found out recently that I really only have three D.Min classes and my dissertation left. I’m giving it at least another year on the dissertation though. When I started the thesis idea, I had more like eight classes left, so it seemed like further away and “might as well.” After two partial starts and two different prospectuses submitted, I switched gears again and I actually used my Earthprayer book above as the basic frame or structure for the thesis. I’d been attempting to work with a 400-page document and then I realized it was way too much. The Earthprayer book had ended up being a distillation of some basic themes from my year in the woods experiment and I thought, “ah ha! I’ve accidentally been working on my thesis without knowing it!” I developed it with articles and essays and my theory and process of theapoesis and magically I produced 84 pages and 26,000 words! (My thesis handbook says it should be 80 pages and 25,000 words. Go, me!)

I also booked an official screening of the Red Tent Movie: Things We Don’t Talk About. It will be held in Rolla on August 2nd in conjunction with Rolla Birth Network’s annual MamaFest celebration and it is the first ever screening of this film in Missouri! Before I booked it, a friend surprised me with this lovely little Red Moon painting and said it was for me to use in my eventual Red Tent. I felt motivated after getting it and booked the screening the next morning.

May 2014 005After doing this and apparently feeling the freedom of being off of work for the next two weeks, I took advantage of a full moon special and somewhat impulsively decided to sign up for the Chrysalis Woman circle leader program! This was on my Leonie Dawson 100 Things list with a question mark. Now, it is a question mark no more because I signed up and paid…hope it was a good idea! I’ve only downloaded the manuals and listened to the first week’s materials so far, but I really like it. It feels very thorough and comprehensive and feels like a good value for the discounted price it was being offered for. I’m still a little surprised at myself that I did it though!

I read a post from Elisabeth Esther a few days ago about being all blogged out and I realized this feels true for me too. I’ve been diverting a lot of my writing AND creating energy this year into other projects that I feel really good about and my blog-time is simply falling lower and lower on my priority list.

I also read this post from The Minimalists:

It was Henry David Thoreau who famously said, “It is not enough to be busy. The question is: what are we busy about?” And if I were to append his quandary, I’d say, “It is not enough to be busy. The question is: what are we focused on?”

You see, there is a vast delta between being busy and being focused. The former involves the typical tropes of productivity—anything to keep our hands moving, to keep going, to keep the conveyer belt in motion. It is no coincidence that we refer to mundane tasks as “busywork.” Busywork works well for factories and robots and fascism, but not so great for anyone who’s attempting to do something meaningful with their waking hours.

Being focused, on the other hand, involves attention, awareness, and intentionality. In my case, people sometimes mistake my focused time for busyness. That’s because being completely focused apes many of the same surface characteristics as being busy: namely, the majority of my time is occupied.

via Not Busy, Focused | The Minimalists.

This helped me understand why I bristle I little bit when I am described as “busy” or people say that I’m “too busy,” or whatever little cracks people tend to make about being an “overachiever,” or whatever. While I sometimes feel too busy or overloaded or stretched too thin, etc. it doesn’t feel like busy work or “filling time,” it feels like being focused and enjoying lots of projects/being firmly and passionately devoted to quite a few things at once.

Thesis Tidbits: Feminism, Midwifery, and Motherhood

“Feminism catches fire when it draws upon its inherent spirituality. When it does not, it is just one more form of politics, and politics never fed our deepest hungers.” –Carol Lee Flinders (in The Millionth Circle)

Yesterday, I spent several hours finishing a blog post for Feminism and Religion regarding empowered self-care (it won’t run until next  week). It is a primarily a personal narrative, rather than a political commentary, but as I was writing it, I learned about new legislation introduced in Missouri in an effort to effectively destroy the practice of independent midwifery here. I also have a friend whose family March 2014 082 member just experienced terribly abusive treatment during the immediate postpartum period. I typed feverishly away with an absolutely excruciating headache and a million things on my mind, primarily the very many injustices experienced by women during the childbearing year. I was also left wondering HOW we can truly take care of ourselves when legislators and health care workers actively take dramatic and even cruel steps to prevent us from doing so?

Another friend wrote a comprehensive blog post about this malpractice insurance legislation and the issues involved with it. Midwifery advocacy organizations have already introduced a perfectly appropriate piece of legislation this session and do not need the proposed bogus piece of legislation that offers nothing in the way of protection for Missouri midwifery consumers and instead simply serves to drive midwives out of practice:

…Fortunately, midwives in Missouri do offer a grievance process and adhere to the practice standards set by the certifying agency NARM (North American Registry of Midwives). While there is already a high degree of professional accountability practiced in Missouri, this is because the state professional organization (Missouri Midwives Association) believes it is important and necessary for the professional practice of midwifery and not because the state has directed midwives to do so.

The state of Missouri has continued to be uninterested in working with midwives and home birth families to improve and safeguard the practice of midwifery.

Is there a better option? YES! HB 1363

Instead of HB 2189, we would like to suggest directing legislators to support HB 1363. This is a comprehensive midwifery licensing bill which does provide a mechanism for oversight and responsible, regulated practice. It also addresses the issue of malpractice insurance by requiring midwives to have coverage under the same conditions as physicians. It would also require Medicaid reimbursement for families desiring the care of Certified Professional Midwives and home birth.

via Missouri Legislature Works Against Women, Families and Midwives….AGAIN. | Midwives, Doulas, Home Birth, OH MY!.

I also recently finished a class on ritual theory for my doctoral degree program. The text for the class was To Make and Make Again: Feminist Ritual Thealogy by Charlotte Caron. In it, I was repeatedly reminded that gathering with other women in a circle for ritual and ceremony is deeply important even though it might just look like people having fun or even being frivolous, it is actually a microcosm of the macrocosm—a miniature version of the world we’d like to see and that we want to make possible. Returning to Caron, she explains something similar: “Ritual change is symbolic change, but it can lead to direct action or to ideological change, so it can be an important element in strategizing for change. One way of causing change is to re-form or alter the system. This involves recognizing that we are part of the system and that the system is dependent on feedback from its parts to keep it in balance, which means that we have the capacity to change” (p. 209).

Ritual experience can lead to practical action: spiritual praxis. But, this action does not need to look the same for all women, nor does it always have to involve large structures of society or even sweeping societal change.

“It is important to recognize that not all women will choose to act in the large structures of society. While it is hoped that all women will act toward justice, still electoral politics, lobbying, and revising the economic system may not be the spheres in which some women exert their energy. Ritual actions, raising children to be just and caring people, living in just ways in intimate and community relationships, and modeling different patterns and values are political actions to change patriarchal ideology. The choices of what spheres to devote energy to are important to honor. The constraints of women’s lives—when they are disabled, when they are dealing with past traumas, when they are raising young children, and when they are doing the many other things expected of women in our society—mean that women need to make choices that will allow them to live with integrity and well-being.” (p. 211)

A number of options of action are possible. “What is important are women’s choices to act in concrete ways in every circumstance, to know our neighbors, to raise children to be caring people, to live as if justice exists, to be just in personal relationships, and to live in the community in ways that model the values of justice and well-being for women and all of creation.” (p. 211)

As a mother who works extensively with other mothers, I appreciated Caron’s acknowledgement that raising children is a feminist act with potential to create change as well. “Another strategy for change is through raising children to be just and caring people. A media image portrays feminists as being against motherhood—but in fact, feminists make the best mothers. They raise children aware of themselves and the world, of options and values, of what justice means and how to work toward it, and how to be self-critical and self-respecting” (p. 203-204). Caron also explains that “in a just society, women would be free to make whatever decisions they needed to, for however long they needed to, in relation to political action in the public and the private sphere. All people would participate in the decision-making, and women would be supported in their decisions rather than, as sometimes happens, made to feel guilty for not doing enough or not valued for what they do.”

In connection with women being valued for what they actually do, Caron makes an interesting note about the visions women in her research hold for the future, for the possible:

“Interestingly, none of the visions described by women was based in self-fulfillment, in gaining personal power, or in one’s group having power and the expense of others. Instead, the interviewees talked about the elimination of social, economic, military, and other patriarchal problems, and about living in a world of valued individuals, healthy and diverse relationships, economic and environmental sustainability, equality for all, and shared decision-making and power” (p. 220).

Connected to these themes, one of my classic favorite quotes about women’s spirituality groups is this one:

“…Women’s spirituality groups can become birth centers for social change”

–Anne Rush in The Politics of Women’s Spirituality (p. 384)

March 2014 127