Saturday, January 29, 2011

Sunshine on Saturday

"How delightfully rich is one's mind
when doused in hope
and left overnight to seed."

Is there anything sweeter than receiving an unexpected package?
Thank you, Kim!

red stained glass surrounded by crystal, beautiful
every time I look towards the west i'll be filled ~
tatting, by her own hands, a treasure
another nearly lost womanly art like traditional midwifery
that she is keeping alive,
her words, her blessing

Talk about perfect timing. . .
It's been a hard week.
Long flights, little sleep, reality of all that I've signed up for in the next few months,
shifting back to midwife mode, reminder that MCU conference is soon, missing what was, opening to what will be, so much sorting, making things fit,
wondering why in the world anyway
I could be watching soaps by day and hot tubbing by night.
What matters?

She said:
This can be the "rope" you asked for in your blog.

Thanks again.
This wave will pass and now I know I can ride.

Monday, January 24, 2011


I don't believe that dreams lose grandeur as they come true.
Just the opposite.
As we open ourselves up to the dreams that have been there waiting all along,
well, I have to wonder if this heart vessel of mine can really hold it all.
Dreams are more than wishes I've decided.
I wish for an Airedale puppy.
I dream about my heart and hands connecting and touching, of being where I should be, of feeding and being fed. I dream about getting it right, of making things right, of being whole enough to receive and then carry light. I dream of making a difference in one life, in a few lives.
Give me an opportunity to give back as much as I have received and my dreams will come true.

Thanksgiving Feast

spotted on a street in baltimore yesterday
it was a cold, cold day
this warmed my heart
i gave thanks, too
<< >>

Monday, January 17, 2011

Birth Story

"I've tried to teach you well son,
all of everything I knew.
Of how to live this life, be true.
Don't bow your head to no one,
and no matter what you do,
if you start then see it through.

So sturdy up, sturdy up your heart,
for the road is long ahead.
I'll be with you even though we're apart,
but your road is yours to tread.
And so it goes, and so it goes"

From Charlie Grey's birth playlist, La Mar by The Beautiful Girls

My story of Charlie began with a text. On Feb. 20 Lindsay sent a picture of her + pregnancy stick and this caption: So . . . when were you planning on going to Africa?

Nothing like a little good news to rearrange things. I had already made the decision to suspend my midwife practice after July to travel. How cool to be all freed up for Stoyan baby #3.

This baby’s growing season was a love adventure. We didn’t worry about the logistics of prenatal care. It all fell peacefully into place, just the way it was meant to be.

My text log alone could tell the story. Here’s one:

Lindsay: I dreamt that you were listening for my baby’ heart and instead of beats we heard the baby singing Beatle songs. Not kidding.

Me: I looooove that dream.

Washington was the final destination of a road trip with Briana in the spring; my first opportunity to put my hands on Lindsay’s baby belly. On her living room couch, on her birthday, her little bitty one announced, “I am here. I am really here.“ 160 beats per minute and faint strains of “I Will”.

The big day of revelation, May 18. A brother or a sister? The whole family gathered at my office in Sugar House to see and hear as ultrasound tech, Phillip, shared his findings. Baby Boy! No doubt about it! It was fitting that we all celebrated at Tres Hermanos afterward.

Choosing brother’s name became an obsession. Lukey never deviated. His brother would be A. Hammy. It got crazy. Lindsay got desperate. Here’s another text:

“Do you like the name Max?”

“It’s Ok. Yeah. Maxwell Silver Hammer.”


“Paul Simon.”


“Paul Simon has a Harper.”

“I know. Tripper. Tripper Joe. Tripper Joe Palin.”

“NO. Jimmy. Jimmy Buffet Cliff Bingo.”

It was looking like Luc might get his way.

More trips back and forth. Babe growing. Sweet little clothes collected. Name list longer. Who are you in there? A gift of light, no doubt.

Finally. Li’l Red and I packed up and headed north. I planned to arrive 2 weeks before baby’s estimated due day. If he came early I would be ready. No running through an airport this time. If he didn’t come early, Lindsay and I would have the luxury of sacred days together in preparation for the birth. My return date? There was none. Peace would be an element of this story; time would not.

I had a room of my own at Stoyan house. First order of business, decorate. Off to the Octopus Garden we go. Peace flags, candle, pictures of my loves, my birth supplies in order, music set up. Perfect Midwife Mama Meditation Space. I had some work to do to prepare my heart and my hands to welcome this baby.

The magic calendar day came. No baby. We celebrated Andrey’s 30th birthday instead. The phone calls and emails started up. “No baby?” Uggh. Strangers in stores with their unwelcome offerings. “Just one baby in there?”

As a mama-grammy I felt at peace. As a midwife, I had to go through my mental checklist and felt I should offer Lindsay the bring-it-on list. She chose to do the important things and wisely let the rest go. I followed. I guided. The Spirit peacefully led us both.

*Friday, Oct. 22, full moon over the Columbia River. I paid homage. It was a beautiful night full of promise and love. I knew, really knew that everything would work out. We had done our part.*

Saturday, Oct. 23, a Baby-Come-Out Party, a whole family festivity. It was so wonderful, a houseful of love, music, good food and happiness. Around 9:00 when everyone left, Lindsay said that she’d had a lot of tightening during the day and the baby seemed quieter than usual. We gathered on my bed, soft light, beautiful mama and excited brothers in waiting. Baby seemed lower, nestled in the perfect spot, heart was strong, and all was well. This is where the pure joy of this experience etched itself forever in my heart. I stepped back to take it all in. My daughter, my trusting lovely Lindsay, belly bursting with light and love guarded by her boys. Lucas cradled her baby belly with his arms and put his ear close. Then he kissed it and said, "Come out brother. We are ready to meet you." Gavin followed suit with a big grin, rubbed his mama's belly and kissed it.

For 5 weeks I lived in Stoyan house. On this particular weekend, Chuck was in Pasco and we were staying in a hotel. I said my goodnights and left.

First text arrived at 11:30. “Luc just barfed.” Oh no.

I fell asleep. Deep sleep.

Next text at 3:13 am: “Contractions that hurt.”

Here’s where texting is so inferior to voice communication. My tired brain translated that to mean something’s starting. I responded: Great. I can come anytime.

As I moved toward awake I realized Lindsay would not have sent that at such an hour unless it meant something . I wrote again: I’ll take a quick bath and come now.

On a rainy, gray, early morning I entered the house around 3:45.

Lindsay was in it. Deep in it, laboring in the living room, on her knees. Andrey had set up the birth pool and I hurried to start filling it. I hurried to do a lot of things. There would be no time to formally set up a birth tray, a baby tray and all of the other orderly steps of midwife birth ritual. As I was dumping supplies out in the middle of the room, Lucas woke up. He sat wide-eyed on the couch. A minute later Gavin woke up. He was not going to sit on any couch. He howled Gavin style.

I called Amelia. “I need you.”

She replied, “I’m on my way.”

She arrived and knew we needed big help fast. She called Jeff to come and get the boys. Andrey was worried about Gavin and followed Jeff home. I took over supporting Lindsay. She was not getting any break between her powerful surges. I coached Amelia to set up essentials, start boiling water for the pool. She was amazing, working quickly. As soon as there was enough water, Lindsay got in the pool. I made a quick check for labor progress. Baby was so close. I made a hurried call to Midwife Ginger who was to assist me.

Where’s Andrey? He’s going to miss this birth! Another quick call to Chuck.

“Please go help Jeff with the kids.”

“Right now?”

“Yes, now. I need Andrey.”

After that, everything that could be done was done. I settled in to welcome a baby. Lindsay was beyond awesome in her birthing power. Precipitous births as these fast ones are called, are not easy. It’s very challenging to stay present in your head as your body is zooming at hyper speed.

She asked “how much longer?” once.

I answered, “Before the sun rises.”

She wasn’t satisfied with that.

She said, “No. Now. He’s coming.”

Andrey arrived then and took his loving place at her head.

Amelia saw him first and softly exclaimed, “Lindsay, he’s almost here.”

Gently and quietly, our peace baby was born. As his father held her, his mother received him. 5:05 am.

Oh, and Ginger. She got lost enroute, arrived a few minutes later. It was OK. This birth happened just as it was meant to. It started with me in another place, allowing the birthing couple private space. The swiftness left no room for doubt or worry. When it was all calm as it should be, time ceased. Thick, sacred energy surrounded the four of us. We felt the honor that was ours to welcome this new life home.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


I jumped in.
This is where I'll be for the next 4 months.
Sinking or swimming.
Feel free to throw me a rope.


One light
One sun
One heart warming everyone.

I love Raffi today.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Birth Class

What's more fun than kinesthetic learning? Kinesthetic teaching.
Is there a term to describe the learning exchange, the knowing that occurs when souls connect?
I love First Class. I have a sketch in my head but no syllabus. It is a free flowing exchange known on my schedule as "Beginning Your Journey." More accurately, WE are beginning our journey as a Birth Class family. I love this part of my life, love my opportunity to guide couples to their own "right way".

From Birthing From Within

The essence of childbirth preparation is self-discovery, not assimilating obstetric information.

The teacher is "midwife" to the parent's discovery process, not the expert from whom wisdom flows.

Childbirth preparation is a continually evolving process (for parents and teachers), not a static structure of techniques and knowledge.

Fathers help best as birth guardians or loving partners, not as coaches; they also need support.

I love this class of 5 couples already. I love the 5 little growing ones that we have not yet met. Before we know it, Last Class will happen. It is a festivity that I look forward to.
Here we go . . .

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Out the door. . .

Even though. . .
my mom wasn't here to take my picture,
no one made heart shaped pancakes for my breakfast,
I didn't have a new outfit to wear
and no love notes were tucked in my backpack,
my first day of school rocked!!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

African skies

God is good.
All the time?
Yes, all the time.
God is good.

I will be celebrating the March full moon in Dakar.
Yes. I am going. The door opened and I'm going through it.
I will be exchanging "ways" with the matrones of the southern Senegalese villages.
It is a data gathering expedition for Women's World Health Initiative
It is soul food for me.


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Blankie Bliss

Dear Lindsay,
Thought you should know that my relationship with your blanket is getting serious. It was not my intention. I didn't even find it until you had been gone for awhile. There it was, tucked in the bench seat, patiently waiting to be found. It has become my soft place to fall. I just discovered this graft. Everyday, something new. I could box it up and send it back to you. That just sounds like a bad idea. I want it.

Monday, January 3, 2011

I thank God for all I've got
Mind, body and heart,
I thank God for all we've got
And pray to keep us from the dark.

The Grand River

I could spend a day here,
on the rocks, on the bank.
I imagine it in the spring.

April, come she will,
When streams are ripe and swelled with rain
May, she will stay, resting in my arms again.

~ A perfect day ~

And when she shines she really shows you all she can
Oh Rio, Rio dance across the Rio Grande


"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us."

There isn't a better expression than this classic quote to describe what I am slowly learning to be so.
We are powerful beyond measure.

I felt compelled to go somewhere for New Year's Eve. This "off call" time was coming to an end and I wanted to maximize it. I tried going far away. Bali. Michael Franti was doing a NYE benefit show for Bumi Sehat, Robin Lim's birth center. I got tickets, found a hotel but hit a huge roadblock - flights! So, I backed up. Tried on San Francisco. Not the right fit. I almost bagged the going away idea. Then I got a flash of something good. Santa Fe. That's it. Luminarias, crisp air, bright sun, sacred spaces and green chile stew. I researched events and found a very small reference to The Turtle Dance ceremony at the Taos Pueblo on New Year's Day. Done deal. It took all of 20 minutes and it was done. If room availability had not been tight it would have taken 2 minutes! It all happened better than my something good flash.

That's how it is. We are powerful beyond measure, beyond our capacity to imagine. It can be kind of scary. It is also quite exhilarating.

I let 2010 go, blew it gently on its way.
2011 came quietly in with so much promise.

With not even seconds to spare, we made it to the Taos Pueblo in time to catch the last leg of the Turtle Dance. I understood that for a small fee, my camera would be allowed in. Not so on a ceremony day. Cameras and cell phones must stay in the car. No exceptions. That turned out to be a very good thing. I had to record in my heart what I witnessed. No words for the impressions and emotions I felt. I was among my people, in the land of my ancestors, bringing in a New Year with ancient ritual. A year full of hope, of dreams coming true, of light and
the realization that even I am powerful beyond measure to make it so.

The Turtle Dance is easily the most important public religious

ceremony of the San Juan calendar, defining as it does the end of one year and the

beginning of a new one.The dance is named for the turtle, believed to be the first

hibernating being that moves about after the year has turned; thus, the turtle is seen as

symbolizing the beginning of each new annual cycle.

The dancers, all men, line up in a long single row, shoulder to shoulder, each man clasping

a gourd shell rattle and evergreen branches before him in his hands. On their right knees the

men wear rattles made of turtle shells with pigs' hooves attached to the tops by leather thongs.

There are no other percussive instruments used, and there is no separate chorus as in many other

Tewa dances. Rather, the dancers themselves form the chorus, with the most prominent singers,

the composers of the songs, placed at the center of the line.

It was a day. A very good and beautiful day.

The City Different

While in Santa Fe last weekend, I read this somewhere:
"This city different either embraces and keeps you or lets you go."
I'm feeling pretty well embraced.

Turquoise Sky

The most amazing thing about New Mexico is the sky. Even at -14 degrees, the sky is turquoise. Luckily, nature provided a way for us to adorn ourselves with pieces of sky. I have determined that I will need to spend several weeks in this Land of Enchantment searching galleries, shops and vendors for my perfect piece of the sky.

sky reflecting off snow

Sangre de Cristo mountains

Santa Fe Plaza