3.28.2013

Trusting The Journey. Enjoying The Ride.

So, I didn't win the Little Black Dress contest....but I still feel like a winner! In 48 hours I got over 1,000 votes and over 200 shares of my photo. When it came down to it, I lost by a small margin of around 40 votes. However, I was, and still am on cloud 9. The love and support I received from people everywhere - some of the things that were said about me and the work I do in the community touched my spirit in ways that will stay with me forever. This contest quickly became more than a simple little Facebook contest to win a night out, people were really rooting for me - pouring love and support onto me. I was truly blessed and I could feel it to the bone. I've sat here for awhile now trying to put into words what it meant to me, and I just can't. It was beautiful and it changed me a little.

Recently, I watched a movie where the man had made his wife some breakfast and was being sweet to her. She asked why and he said "Relationships need water to grow. This is a little sprinkling." I liked that (even if it did turn out to be something he was just trying to butter her up with). My husband and I need some water, pretty badly if you ask me. If you asked him, I'm sure he'd say we're fine. And - he wouldn't be all wrong. We are fine, I'm certainly not going anywhere - I do love him very much....I just wish there was more 'living and loving'. I wish we weren't both such workaholics - him to a very serious degree. I'm watching as these years tick by, our oldest almost 16 now...he'll be gone before we know it, living his own life. Making his own decisions. It's difficult to fathom. I see very clearly that these kids, and myself won't remember that the bills were paid...we're going to remember the times we shared together (or didn't).

Time is a luxury most people can not afford. I feel like a slave to the mailbox. To our 'unseen' bosses. We're both independently employed, and in many way this does grant us certain freedoms. Really, though, we've just eliminated one boss among many - the others being CitiBank, Consumers Energy, DTE, etc. We're working for them as much as we're working for ourselves. And, it's a difficult thing to be self-employed! EVERY dollar you make you truly earned. There is no 'weekly' paycheck, no insurance, no paid vacation....there is always concern over where the next bit of money will come from.  I understand the pressure that he goes through to provide for us, and I honor him. I grew up around people who couldn't keep jobs and were always broke or spending every extra dollar they had in the bar, so the very fact that he isn't one of those people is something I take a lot of pride in. I just wish we could stop and "look up" more often. That's what the contest meant to me. It was a way to make it easy for us to do that. When someone hands you something for free, naturally it's easier to make it happen. It's really difficult for me to justify EVER spending $300 or more on one night in a hotel....no matter how fancy. That's over a quarter of my mortgage, I could remodel a room in my house for that - I need a laptop! All of these things flood in when you start to think of spending or even saving for something like that.

I had to let it go. I began instead to try to get him to go on simple dates - and focus on trying to be content with what we have NOW. To be more present in each moment rather than lost thinking about where I wish I was or what I wish I had. I began some counseling to improve my ability to breathe and be grounded and to love without expectation. I realize that I act like a toddler sometimes. Wanting my way right now. Part of me feels entitled - I had such a shitty childhood where I felt misplaced, abandoned, poor and unworthy of love and care that now that I'm an adult and "in control" of my life - I want good things to happen to me! I'm just tired of suffering. Working to survive. Pouring myself into the things I love and care about, trying to change the whole world and fight for the injustices I see....part of me feels as though I 'deserve' reward, but, all I seem to get is crazy intense situations, issues and things that happen to me. I would never really consider myself "lucky" - things just don't really ever work out the way I would like them to. So, I have been examining that. Understanding that things aren't always going to meet my expectation - and that if I go with the flow and accept the good and bad things as they come for what they are I will find the contentedness that I so desire.

When I look back at where I have been and compare it to where I am now, I can see clearly that I AM blessed - and that 'the process' is working. I opened up my heart and desire to true healing, truth and knowledge many years ago and since then I have been unfolding and opening myself. Yes. It's been work. It's been hard and sometimes ugly. There are parts of myself I'd rather not face, but, I learn and grow every time I do - and THAT is beautiful.

That leads me to this week. I've been trying to put these thoughts and lessons into action and incorporate them into my "real life" with my family. Through this I have been reintroduced and reconnected with the Green Tara - a Buddhist and Hindu Goddess. I've been immersing myself in her chant "“Om Tara Tuttare Ture Svaha” and it has been changing me - opening up my heart. It's amazing, truly. I recommend it to anyone and everyone!

While doing this, I'd been spending time trying to get my man to go out with me and maybe go and see my office downtown (since I've been there for almost 4 months and he's not yet seen it). I was disappointed when it just didn't seem to be working out. Thoughts of the contest came to mind and I feared that the promises that he made then would go unfulfilled - like so many others. Put off again and again. I needed to find peace with that somehow...I still do and am working towards acceptance. I can't make him do anything that he doesn't want to do, I can't make him different in ways that would better suit me, but I CAN learn to accept him as he is. I can learn to appreciate the man he is and that he loves me and our children. Love is love and I'm lucky if I get any at all. Some is always better than none.

Guess what this conclusion and work has led me to? A reward!! A really, really AWESOME reward that means the world to me in this moment in my life. As we gathered last night on the Full Moon for our Sister Circle, where we would be honoring the Green Tara and embracing acceptance and inner peace. Before the circle started I was presented with this:
It is a $300.00 gift card to the JW Marriot and a beautiful card with the names of all of the people who contributed. I was shocked and cried like a baby - thinking this is my sign that the journey - the process - is working. That I am worthy of reward and love. That I am seen and valued by these wonderful people I have in my life and that good things DO happen to me and that they will continue to happen. All I have to do is open my heart and trust.

Up until this point I felt like I had to break my back for everything I would ever get. It isn't that I don't think I need to work for things, I do - however, I feel and see now that it can in many ways 'just be' if we let it. By expecting that everything would be difficult to obtain or would require really hard work, my reality was reflecting that expectation. This is more than a night out with my man....this is peace, it's love and blessings from those in my life who are reflecting back to me the love that I have reflected onto them. It is a gift from the Universe itself. "Thank you" could never EVER come close to the humble gratitude I feel within me for each and everyone in my life. My friends, who are my family - my family, who I am going to work harder to make my friends. It's all good and it's all love. May it be so forever more. For, from this moment on I will be trusting the journey and enjoying the ride.

PS - the necklace that I put up for the contest was won by the lovely spirit, Sara Fiorenzo. <3>

3.04.2013

Sometimes Everyone Wins - {JEWELRY GIVEAWAY}

Out of my frustration for feeling like there aren't many alternatives to the bar scene after dark, I began to think of ways that I could "party" my way. When my friend Val and I organized a visit for her to come here from Chicago, I really wanted to do something awesome - to party and have a good time, to bring my favorite people together to meet each other and enjoy each other's company. So, it seemed a perfect time to  organize a day of fun and love just for the girls. I called it the "FEMpowered Day Of Sacred Joy" (Joy being Val's middle name). We gathered to simply celebrate being womb'en and being surrounded by womb'en. Some of us brought our talents and/or goods to share with the group. There was massage, dancing, readings, anointings, henna, a clothing and goods swap and so much more. We had so much to offer there wasn't time to do it all!! This is certainly going to be a staple in our social lives. I'd love to do something like this at least every other month.

One of the things I went prepared to do was have my pal Mikki take photos of me in my "little black dress" for a contest that the JW Marriot of Down Town Grand Rapids is having during their Original Little Black Dress Party this Friday night. She did SUCH an amazing job that I had a hard time choosing which photo to use! Regardless of whether I win the contest or not, the experience of getting dressed up with my girls and celebrating my beautiful curves was quite enriching and I will value the photos forever. Here are some of my favorites:

 

The one I have chosen for the contest is this one. Super simple, peaceful, beautiful, curvy and elegant.

Now the fun part! 
You probably knew I was going to ask you to go and vote on this photo to help me win a night out with my man  - but, I'm crafty and know how to motivate. SO - yes, please go and "like" this photo on the JW Marriot Grand Rapids page, but if you SHARE the photo I will enter you into a drawing for this Sterling Silver & Labradorite necklace which would go well with any little black dress!

Winner will be announced Saturday, March 9!!

Rules:
Must have also "liked" the photo on the JW Marriot page
Multiple shares = multiple entries
Winner will be selected by Random.org

What's Labradorite all about?
Labradorite:
Iridescent Labradorite is a highly mystical and protective stone, a bringer of light. It raises consciousness and connects with universal energies. Labradorite deflects unwanted energies from the aura and prevents energy leakage. It forms a barrier to negative energies shed during therapy. It can take you into another world or into other lives. A stone of esoteric knowledge, it facilitates initiation into the mysteries. 

Labradorite aligns the physical and etheric bodies and accesses spiritual purpose. It raises consciousness and grounds spiritual energies into the physical body. This stone stimulates intuition and psychic gifts including the art of "right timing," bringing messages from the unconscious mind to the surface and facilitating their understanding.

Psychologically: Labradorite banishes fears and insecurities and the psychic debris from previous disappointments, including those experienced in past lives. It strengthens faith in the self and trust in the universe. I t removes other peoples projections, including thought forms that have hooked into the aura.

Labradorite calms an overactive mind and energizes the imagination, bringing up new ideas. Analysis and rationality are balanced with the inner sight. Labradorite brings contemplation and introspection. Synthesizing intellectual thought with intuitive wisdom, it is an excellent dispeller of illusions, going to the root of a matter and showing the real intention behind thoughts and actions. This stone brings up suppressed memories from the past.

Labradorite is a useful companion through change, imparting strength and perseverance. A stone of transformation, it prepares body and soul for the ascension process.

HEALING: Labradorite treats disorders of the eyes and the brain, relieves stress and regulates metabolism. It treats colds, gout, and rheumatism, balances hormones and relieves menstrual tension, and lowers blood pressure. Labradorite can be used as a witness during radionic treatment, pinpointing the cause of the dis-ease.

10.05.2012

I Danced Naked Under The Blue, Blue Moon.

Women have struggled with body image issues for who knows how long. From the time when our bodies begin to change, giving us breast buds, hair in weird places and ultimately our first blood into pregnancy, breastfeeding, weight fluctuation, menopause, etc. Our bodies are forever evolving, and sometimes that is difficult to accept. While some girls stuff their bras in anticipation of their womanhood, others will bind down those breasts in an attempt to try to hide what is happening to them. Each journey into and through womanhood is our own, and if we are lucky enough we will have strong female and male presences in our lives to help guide us through. Unfortunately, this isn't the case for most of us as we are living with a serious generational gap of empowered, sacred living. Not to worry though, it's coming back through us and now we will be given the opportunity to pass these ways down to our children - hopefully eliminating much of their struggle to find these answers and connections to themselves and their world around them. 

I have spoken in this blog about my journey as a foster child, a kid with no real home or guidance to speak of, especially when it came to matters of spirit or sacredness. Most of what I have learned is because I was always observant and open minded, and always had a deep calling and connection to the Earth around me. Though there wasn't anyone to teach me how to appreciate my body - or to treat it as the sacred temple of my spirit that it is - I still learned. True, I learned the hard way....by first using and abusing my body through what I thought was a means of getting my power back from the men and women who abused and neglected me by giving it away to men and women later on. My body was always a source of power to me - I knew that it could be used for good or evil, and I have used it for both.

I was the kind of girl who wanted my body to evolve from it's boyish childlike state into the curvaceous beautiful body of my mother who had a sea of beauty and character that she gave away to no one worthy. I was raped and molested from a very young age and never really felt like a child, therefore felt uncomfortable in my child body. When I began to change I remember hating the process - the awkward in between. Then, I got curves....but mostly in my upper thighs. I was self conscious of this and didn't learn to appreciate my "Goddess Thighs" until much later in my journey, even if the boys didn't seem to mind. These hips and thighs were then and still are a great source of my sexual power and energy - I've heard myself referred to as "walking sex" many times - and I am. I'm always channeling and drawing from this immense amount of sexual energy I have within me, and, ever since I've learned how to better harness this energy I have found more love for myself and others, more balance and far more peace than I ever knew I could. I no longer look to others to validate me, I look to myself, my spirit. 

I'm finally at a place in my life where I feel balanced and hopeful for my future and especially for the future of my children. As I saw the destructive cycles in many families and how they seemed to play on loop through the generations, I knew that I would have to break that even from a very young age. And, though I did not know exactly how (other than to NOT do the things I had seen others do), I was and still am a quite determined individual who doesn't like to be told what to do. I think that the people in my youth who told me I would "be just like my mom" were really the ones who deserve a lot of credit, because without that I may not have felt so pushed and determined NOT to be like her. Maybe it's the Aries/Taurus in me...or maybe this was why I came. Not only to help myself through this struggle, but to be that example for others, to inspire them to be the change as well - whatever that means for them. 

For me, this meant establishing a family, a circle of support and friendship that is beyond blood and DNA - my "soul family" as one of my best friends, Karen Hays, calls it. It's been almost a year since I listened to the call within me to start a "Sister Circle" and put out a beacon for my soul family to come to. It's been an incredible journey so far, words honestly can not describe. Miracles happen within this circle - the Universe begins to work in our favor and intuition grows immensely - connections to each other are instant and sacred and feel as though they have existed all along, like pieces of the puzzle simply falling into place. Together we address everything - nothing is taboo or untouchable within the circle. We can come to each other with absolutely anything with pure trust and respect for one another, leaving behind all judgement and replacing it with pure understanding and respect for the path that each of us are on. We do not rush a sister through her journey trying to get her to the destination we believes she belongs at - instead, we offer to listen, to walk next to and be supportive, letting her find her own strength and path towards her own destination. 

Recently, on the Blue Moon in August, our circle of sisters gathered in a secluded, sacred place with the intention of shedding our layers and showing our true forms before ourselves and one another. This was profound for all of us in so many different and beautiful ways. For some, taking their clothing off before a circle of women was a great challenge that was scary and intimidating. For others, it was empowering to be granted the permission to be naked with confidence. We talked about our bodies and how we perceived them, we created an intention - a release - which was represented in a piece of paper which we threw into the fire just before baring ourselves before a mirror within the circle under the most beautiful full Blue Moon, who granted us with plentiful light paired with a spectacular cloud display through the night. I will never, ever forget this night as I'm sure the womb'en who were in attendance will not as well. The imagery is ingrained in my existence - "I got naked and danced under the full moon with my sisters".....there is something about knowing that about yourself that changes you. I'm truly getting to do all those things I fantasized about as a child - a sisterhood such as this is something that I think many of us have wanted or even play pretended to have but maybe felt wasn't a possibility....but it is, you just have to create it.

Our Blue Moon Sister Circle
As I walked naked through this perfectly illuminated field of tall weeds on a path that we had beaten down together throughout the night, I felt my animal self emerge within me. I walked like a Lioness. Strong - each step poised and confidently placed in front of the other. I moved stealthily with ease and grace and was unafraid of coming across other animals and 'beings', which I was keenly aware of. The land, the animals and spirits that resided within this space seemed to be aware of us, the woods that surrounds us completely were alive and definitely interested. I did not have a desire to go into the woods, though I was not afraid of them. I was, however, aware of their power. It felt protective to us, but, on a level that kept us away from it as well. There was a point at the end of the night when most of the sisters had fallen asleep, I believe it was around 4 in the morning...I had brought with me my Moon Blood to give back to the Earth Mother ceremonially once I could be alone. As I was seeking the place to do this I walked off the path but was given a definite red flag that I was about to step into something bad - so - I turned around quickly....finding a beautiful spot under the moon that did feel right. I poured my libation there, giving thanks for the Earth and Moon, for my sisters and this night. Asking for abundance so that I may continue the work that has been asked of me. 

My offering was accepted, though sloppy in my own regard. I am still breaking down the walls over the perception of my blood and how to offer it. I am confident up until the moment of actually offering it when thoughts of "What if someone finds it? What if they can smell it? What if the smell will attract animals??"...but, this is all part of the journey of getting over our fears and perceptions. When I first began collecting my blood offerings I was very aware of how strong the smell was. It wasn't "bad" to me, just strong. Now, I love that smell. I enjoy that it is mine - my essence. It's strength represented by how powerful I am as a womb'an and how far I've come in accepting all of me. Every time I offer it gets easier....with this last time with the Harvest Moon being exceptionally beautiful and easy.

I share these details here knowing that there are going to be people who do not get it. After the comments in my previous post, I surprisingly did not find myself doubting what I was doing or where my intentions were coming from. I was confused by some of it, and had some theories about who was posting a couple of times - but, more than anything I felt validated in who I am and that I am doing something good for not only myself, but potentially others as well. The things I write about are intimate, they reflect a journey I am on that I realize not everyone will or can understand. I share these details unapologetically knowing and admitting that I am learning and do not "know all the answers". Writing about this helps me process and heal, so, whether or not you "jive" with what I'm talking about I would hope that there is at least a level of honor and respect granted there. These details are private, and yes, I am sharing them in a very public way. I know that means that I am opening myself up to judgement and hurtful comments from others - but, for the few who will get something out of this - and for myself who grows a great deal from it, I think it's more than worth it. And, I forgive the haters. I've been there and I know that I am not perfect, either, and never would or could be.

A special note to my sisters: You are the most beautiful reflections of love, life, healing, friendship and family I've ever known. I see my story, the potential of us as individuals and of the world in each of you. I am honored to share and grow with you, I'm honored to call you my sisters. Migwetch/Thank You - especially those of you who were in the photo above and granted me your permission to use it here. 

8.09.2012

A Vision For Peace - Shedding Our Blood In Love and Peace For The World.

Are you tired of hearing about bad things happening to innocent people? Of blood being shed for absolutely no reason beyond misguided hatred? Of laws being created by a government that seems to only enforce hatred, separation and our own demise? Like me, do you feel an urgency within you to do something about it but feel helpless and have no idea where to start?

I'm not going to post links to any of the articles which I have read recently which have ignited this fire up and down my body - that would only give 'them' more power, more of my precious energy. We all know things are bad.  Our last straw was years and years ago, and we've taken far too much for far too long. We've allowed ignorance to run rampant in this world, excusing people's behavior, saying  "Change takes time", "It's just their belief or culture", "People are crazy". I don't believe any of it is acceptable or true - and I refuse to sit around and just accept it while doing nothing.

In this grip of hopelessness and desire to know what I could do, I was hit with a vision.

This vision has a hold of me so tightly right now that I would not be permitted to leave my computer until finishing this piece of work and putting it out into the world for you to see. It is a direct call to you, my sisters....the very fact that you are here reading this implies that you are ready to hear and take action.

It's time for sacrifice.

The blood shed on this planet is thick and plentiful. Our Mother Earth - she is drowning in it. She has been calling to me and to all of you, my sisters, for ages and the time has come for us all to hear and come together. To know the secrets of our womb'anhood that has been kept from us for many generations, to awaken who we truly are and to restore this incredible imbalance that has taken such a fierce grip on our world.

Our original mothers would have taught us what it means to be a woman, or 'womb'an'. How our blood is a great gift with an enormous amount of healing, life and love giving power. It is the essence of life itself and yet is treated like trash. The original mothers would be ashamed and sorrowed by how hard we work to control, cover up, hide and dispose of our gift - how some even try to stop it completely. They knew that the blood we shed was our life blood, our direct connection to nature, our Mother Earth and our Grandmother Moon. These things are directly reflected within our wombs, our time to bleed is a gift - a built in stress relieving system giving us a couple of days to rest, reflect, release & renew ourselves. In the days of the Moon Lodges and Red Tents that is exactly what we did - and we took that blood and intentionally gave it back to our Earth.

This is our sacrifice, our blood gift to the Earth.

Just as the water that runs through the veins of our Great Mother is her life blood gift to us, our life blood is a gift to return to her. It is said that every drop of moon blood spilled onto the Earth in peace can counteract a drop also shed in hatred. Can you imagine the imbalance here? It's time to restore this balance and through this journey womb'en will unlock the key to their own inner Divine Feminine, she will begin to naturally restore the balance we so desperately need by simply being the example.

So, yes, I'm asking you all to harvest your Sacred Moon Blood and return that blood intentionally to the Earth. At first you may feel like that is crazy....but is it as crazy as shooting two gay teens in the head, or taking out an entire movie theater of people just trying to enjoy a movie, or a government manipulating a people into an unjust war killing and displacing millions (we could go on and on)? I don't think so. Sit for one minute and imagine the amount of blood shed in hatred. Rape, murder, torture...all over the world. How much of that has taken place since you started reading this article? Too much. This is something we can do. It's time to get over the lies we've been told about our blood - it's time to embrace our gift and to give that gift back with the pure intention of creating peace and harmony for all peoples (whatever that means FOR YOU).

This vision is strong, and I can only pray that you can all feel the energy force that surrounds me as I type this message to you all. I see sisters all over the world getting to know themselves and each other, honoring their time and their blood and then giving this blood back ceremonially to our Great Mother. I can't tell you exactly how this will restore peace, but, I have an extremely strong sense that it will. If nothing else, you will know more peace within yourself than you ever have before and you will be able to teach your daughters better than our mothers taught us. To me, that's more than a start in the right direction....that's a revolution in itself.

It's important for me to note here that I do NOT believe that you need to be taught these ways through anyone "trained". You should not have to pay money for any sort of enlightenment.... There are many paths and there are many people who would do it differently. However, I believe that people should start where they are at and do their own research. If you want to find a sister circle or a "trained" person to help you on that path, than that is right for you and that is great! It is, however, completely up to the individual and all paths should be honored.

One more thing.....do something nice for someone every single day. Get to know people - stop living in your bubble and UNITE. Each woman is your sister...each man your brother. Learn to see your reflection in others and allow yourself to love them regardless. Even the most hate filled violent person has something in common with YOU. From that common ground we can build a foundation of peace and understanding.

Try it. What have you got to loose? It's better than doing nothing at all.....



HOW TO HARVEST YOUR BLOOD:

I suggest a Moon Cup of some sort. There are all kinds - but they are WAY better than any tampon could ever hope to be. It's a silicone cup that you place inside and it catches your blood - you can often use it for about 12 hours before needing to empty it, there is no risk of TSS and it's completely reusable. I have a pretty cobalt blue glass bottle which is what I empty my Diva Cup into until my moon time is over. I keep my bottle on my moon alter - or in a sacred space until I am ready to return my gift to the Earth.

Another option is cloth pads which are another wonderful alternative to regular pads. They are reusable making them great on your pocketbook and the environment while also being a healthier option for your precious lady parts. Simply have yourself a "moon bucket" with a lid - fill it with cold water and let your pads soak there after use. The blood water can then be used as your gift and can be given wherever you feel right.

I don't want to hear anything about this being 'gross' - your blood is NOT GROSS. That's the first thing you need to get over. That is your blood, your smell - it is your essence. If you have babies think of them as being made of this substance. Did you know the reason moms & dads love the smell of their babies so much is because it smells like THEM. We are built to love our musk, not cover it up - but this is another way you have unknowingly been trained to deny your power. Who cares if you get blood on your hands or if you have to actually *GASP* touch yourself. If you have a problem with these things you should really sit down and think about why.

Previous articles I've written on this subject:
Attune To The Moon: Ways To Honor Our Sacred Moon Time
And I Call Myself A WOMBman

Books:
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
The Series Written by Lynn Andrews
New Moon Rising by Linda Heron Wind
(Got suggestions?? Add them to comments!!)

Inspiration:

"Living life in a holy way
Giving thanks each and every day
Universe holding sacred space
Providing I with gifts so great.

I have a gift and I give it away,
back to the ground it shall remain.
Buried alive or lost at sea, 
either way I let it go intentionally.

And, I celebrate my blood today
We the moons we wax and wane.
Bleeding together, feeling the same - 
I am proud of my body, I am not ashamed.

My blood is the sacredness of the woman within me
My blood is the sacrifice of what could be....maybe.

Young girl don't know what her body is sayin'
spending energy not healing but prayin'
for blood to go away, for the "curse" to fade - 
if only she knew what secret she could embrace.

Mother sure never told me how how beautiful it is.
And, Mother if only you loved yourself, you would know this.
I have come to accept it all, I have come to be grateful.
This is not something we must hide - we were born to bleed it's part of being alive.

And I celebrate my blood tonight.
Luna you heal me with your shining light,
illuminate the soul that's inside us all.
Gather up sisters, can you hear the call?
Can you hear the call?

And my blood is the sacredness of the woman within me.
My blood is the ceremony of life flowing to me and through me.
My blood is the medicine from the birth of a baby.
My blood is the gift from the flowers and the trees
to the Earth and all of humanity.

And, I give it all back to the Earth...
and, I give it all back to the Earth Mother."


I want to know what you all think, what your experiences are....please leave comments!! Let's get this conversation going so that together we can create inner and outer change in this world.   

7.26.2012

What Will Happen To Michigan Midwives? YOU Decide!


Recently, Sen. Gretchen Whitmer stood by a couple who lost their son during a midwife assisted birth in April of 2011 as she introduced Senate Bill 1208 which would put many very skilled midwives out of a job and would rob women of their right to choose how and where they wish to give birth and who to give birth with. Sen. Gretchen, apparently unfamiliar with how many mothers and babies are injured or die in hospital assisted births, vowed to this couple that she would do everything she could to prevent this from happening to anyone else. However, this couples grief should not turn into a war setting unfair standards, all but completely eliminating the possibility of home birth and access to highly skilled midwives in the state of Michigan. It just isn't right. 

Now, I understand that this couple is hurting - and I AM sorry for their loss. I can imagine that after loosing a child it is natural to want to place blame somewhere. But, what if this same story had taken place in a hospital?!? Because, THAT is where this story does usually take place - and Michigan is one of the states with the highest percentages of Maternal and Infant Deaths. In 2010, 817 of the 114,717 babies that were born died. Most of these babies (almost ALL) died in the hospital - and likely more than a few were a  DIRECT RESULT of being at the hospital where women, especially first time mothers, are uninformed and unprepared for the battle that is normal birth in a hospital setting. And, unfortunately, sometimes babies and mamas just die. It's ALWAYS BEEN THAT WAY. We are not exempt from nature - no matter how many laws we create trying to make it so.

 As a doula, I can tell you that a lot of the people who hire me are moms who have had a previous birth in a hospital setting. Even if they are planning another hospital birth many feel as though they need professional support because their last birth experience something happened that made them feel out of control, dis-empowered, or even totally disrespected - or - there were questionable interventions that took place resulting in an injury, cesarean or generally unpleasant experience. Most first time parents who chose to give birth in the hospital approach it with a sort of blind faith that the Doctors and Nurses "know what they are doing"....however, in my professional experience, that is just not the case. 

Often - and I mean OFTEN - after attending a truly natural birth in the hospital (well, as truly natural as it can get in a hospital setting) the mother's nurse or OB will make a comment about how beautiful that was and how she has never seen anyone give birth like that. Naturally, that is. In my mind I'm thinking "That's absolutely CRAZY!! You see birth every day and you're sitting here telling me you NEVER see women do it like this?!", but I try to focus on what they might have gotten out of that particular experience. Hopefully she has more faith in the woman's body and her ability to give birth without being connected to a bunch of machines and being restricted from movement and proper care and nourishment. Maybe if she sees me help a woman get into a certain position to move her baby down naturally, or sees me use acupressure or encourage nipple stimulation to encourage stronger contractions she might remember that technique and suggest it to other women. She'll at least know that you don't ALWAYS have to reach for the Pitocin or some other medical intervention to get the desired result. 

CNM's, OB's and Nurses don't SEE birth anymore - that's why they don't know how it works WITHOUT intervention. They just aren't exposed to it because it is SO grossly over-medicalized that they have lost sight of what a normal, natural physiological process it is. They resort to interventions because they don't have the skill to resort to anything else & they are quick to classify women as "high-risk" more because they are not knowledgeable enough to treat certain conditions naturally. Breech birth, for example, is treated as an automatic cesarean in many hospitals when women often can give birth just fine to their babies when given the opportunity. Obviously, there are going to be exceptions to the rule. I know there are some really great OB's, CNM's & Nurses out there - but not nearly enough in the sea of incompetent ones. The whole system could learn a LOT from the Midwifery Model of Care

So, my point in all of this is - until hospitals get their shit together, they don't DESERVE to be the only place that women can choose to have their babies. They don't deserve our business or our trust....that should be earned - not forced upon us. 

So, where do we go from here? I'm not going to take my time making a case for home birth. Anyone can do the research which clearly shows that home birth is a completely safe - if not safer - option than hospital birth. The biggest thing to focus on here is preserving our right to be treated like competent adults when making our own decisions - that's right - our RIGHT TO CHOOSE. No matter what decision I make I am still accountable for the outcome, that's why I make and encourage others to make fully informed decisions based on evidence-based information. If I want to have a home birth - with or without a midwife that shouldn't be ILLEGAL, it should be MY RIGHT. I don't want my government to tell me how and when to make babies just as much as I don't want them telling me how, when and where to have them. 

Friends of Michigan Midwives is an organization that I have known about for years. I never fully agreed with the bill (House Bill 5070) that they were trying to introduce as it would still require getting a license from the State of Michigan. Personally, I want all government out of everything (especially my uterus). I think all of government is a totally broken and corrupt system that must be completely dismantled in order for us to truly evolve and know real peace and freedom. That's my opinion, and I'm not here to debate that. Needless to say, I am not a huge fan of the bill that FoMM is proposing either, but, I was only aware of the bill that they had introduced when the SB 1208 was introduced by Sen. Gretchen Whitmer, so it seemed the only thing out there to endorse (a decent compromise) - and, when I wrote and called my Senator and Representative, I did. 

The next morning I did some more research on the topic and found a couple of other bills that are also out there which are far more up my alley. Not intending to step on any toes I left a link on the FoMM Facebook Group page that said "I'm definitely a friend of Michigan Midwives, but I think I may instead endorse this bill" and left a link to some info about it. I thought that, like me, others might not even know that there are more options out there to support. As a group of midwives, doulas and moms I felt that having a healthy discussion or even just acknowledging other options would be something that everyone would support because it is our job AS doulas and midwives to inform people of all their options so that they can make an informed decision. Apparently, this was not cool with the FoMM as my comment was deleted by admins and I was told that because FoMM does not endorse this bill that discussion of it on their page was prohibited. 

"Really?!" I thought. How is is not OK to mention other options? Isn't that sort of like the same exact thing we are trying to fight against AS midwives and doulas? I mean - how often do we bitch about the government or medical society giving people only the information that they want them to have to push their agenda as the only option? How is this not the same? To be completely honest, after reading the message I received about having my comment deleted, I felt like I had been corralled into endorsing their bill. It's not that I would expect them to talk about the other bills because I do understand that they have an agenda - however, why isn't it OK to talk about all of our options? By not even allowing mention of other bills people are being given the impression that the FoMM bill IS our only other option when that simply isn't the case.

I am thankful for that experience, however, as it inspired me to give birth to this article. I don't dislike FoMM, I still support and value what they are trying to do. Many of the people involved in their movement are friends and colleagues of mine who I have a great deal of respect for. This article was not written in an attempt to damage their agenda, it was written in an attempt to put all of the cards out on the table in hopes that it may help people - YOU -  make a fully informed decision and inspire action!

So, here are your options, folks. Make up your own mind -  

SB 1208 - Introduced by Sen. Gretchen Whitmer - This bill would restrict midwifery care to RN's exclusively, all but eliminating home birth in Michigan and criminalizing anyone who offers it (who is not a CNM - so basically, just about every Midwife in Michigan currently would be out of a job and women would be forced into hospital births). 

HB 5070 - Friends of Michigan Midwives - This bill focuses on State Licensing Midwives - allowing CPM (Certified Professional Midwives) to practice Midwifery out of the hospital with a license from the State of Michigan.

HB 4789 - Freedom of Natural Health Bill - Covering all aspect of natural health (not just midwives). This bill allows consumers the right to choose who they want to provide care from providers who give full disclosure of their certification, education and experience level (informed consent) 

Once you've decided, DO SOMETHING! Write letters, make phone calls, start petitions....do SOMETHING. Even if it's just sharing this article so people can know what is going on and be informed of ALL of their options. Together, we can make a difference. 


"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has" 
- Margaret Mead
 

7.06.2012

Your Penis Is Awesome....Now Leave It Alone.


Imperfect? I think not.


As a doula, circumcision is something I address with families all the time. Often the main reasons I hear for choosing to do it are "They will get made fun of/be different/not look like dad or brothers" or "It's cleaner" or - my least favorite - "it doesn't hurt as bad when they are babies". None of these reasons are actually true enough to justify mutilating a baby boy's genitals, in my opinion - Which, DISCLAIMER: that's all this is is my educated opinion on the matter. Take it or leave it.  I'm addressing all the excuses I can think of that I hear from people regarding circumcision in my usual Gypsy Jewels "I say what I want" style....unlike my nicer and more heartfelt story share on my Crowning Lotus website here: The Tale Of Two Penises {A Mother's Circumcision Journey} ;) Here goes:

"He'll get made fun of in the locker room!"

Currently, the percentage of boys getting cut in America is around 68% UNcut and 32% cut. Out of my clients, I would say about 10% have the procedure done (and half that was for religious reasons). With some insurance companies no longer covering the procedure and more and more information being discussed on the web it is a routine thing that is currently going out of style - and fast. This means that the locker rooms aren't going to be the same as they were when you were in school when your child goes to high school - MOST of those kids are going to be uncut....so, a lot of these boys who are getting cut now because their parents are trying to protect them from locker room humiliation will likely face said humiliation because they ARE cut. Parent's might have some real slpainin' to do, then - or be in for a shock when they walk in on their boy trying to restore his foreskin.

I think the bigger issue here is....what the hell is going on in these locker rooms?! Are guys really THAT into checking each others dicks out?? I can't help but think that they would give the uncut guys a hard time because they are jealous he's got a little more. Maybe we should focus on teaching boys not to make fun of people's genitals instead - because that's a real jerk thing to do.

"It's cleaner and prevents disease."

Are guys really so hopeless and lazy about washing their junk that they need to have skin chopped off their penises to help them keep themselves clean? REALLY?! It's your cock. CLEAN IT! I don't care if it's circumcised or not, you better know how to wash yourself! I'm a chick - I have extra skin around my parts to help protect it from issues and infection....and I was taught how to keep myself clean. Believe me - I'm glad I have that skin. I realize how easily the tables could be turned.

The skin that covers the penis, when maintained well, serves many wonderful functions! It protects the penis, it lubricates, and stimulates both him and her. Obviously if you're letting it get funky - that's not your dick's fault. And, yes there is research showing that circumcision may reduce the risk of getting some STD's and AIDS - but there is also research to debunk this as well and shows that the foreskin may actually prevent STD's. You know what else can? Teaching a guy not to be a slut and to protect himself and his partner(s).

"He won't look like daddy."

OK, have you EVER seen a father and son whip out their pieces and compare them or hear a father proudly proclaim pride because his sons penis resembled his own? How hard is it to explain that "back in the old days it was common to cut skin off the penis of newborn boys...but then we realized how silly that was and stopped doing it."? Besides - he still has a choice at this point. If he's really THAT weirded out because your penis is so magnificent and his is not, he can still get his penis circumcised to match yours.

"I prefer circumcised penises"

Ummmmm......are you going to be having sex with your son? How do you know that his mate wont prefer uncut men? Making decisions on what to do about your child's genitals based on your own sexual preferences is kinda weird. We are used to circumcised penises in America, but, as stated before, circumcision is a fad that is quickly going out of style - in the future the tables WILL be turned in many cases. 

"Not Circumcising is gross!"


If you thing NOT circumcising is gross - you should probably know that that skin that they are chopping off your baby's wang may be sold to cosmetic companies (or did you not read the entire form you signed before they carted your boy of for his slicing - not that the language in there will be clear about what exactly will happen to your baby's foreskin...). Mmmmmm - that's definitely NOT gross, right? Yay!! Let's buy some anti-wrinkle cream and rub a bunch of foreskin on my face because THAT'S not disgusting.....

Foreskins (or the Fibroblasts that scientists develop from them) can also be used as skin grafts, to help heal burns or are also used for cosmetic testing rather than animal testing - these things aren't so bad...I still don't think that's it's reason enough to justify circumcision without consent.

Here is what I like to call MOTIVE, however. Sure - there is absolutely not ONE credible medical organization in the world that recommends circumcision as a medically necessary or justified procedure - they will ALL admit that this is basically cosmetic surgery. So, why then are parents not being given this impression - or being encouraged not to do it? Maybe.....juuuust maybe if they are making money selling this baby's skin to research or cosmetic companies they don't want parents to know the truth about circumcision.....just maybe your ignorance is profitable to them.

This could carry over into a lot of things regarding pregnancy, birth and newborns. They have women so convinced that they can't give birth without all these bells and whistles around them that most women fear birth and go into it ready to eat up whatever intervention they are willing to give them. Women everywhere are giving their power away - and most don't even know it. Women find their truest power through giving birth to their babies - that is taken (or given away) when a mom chooses to "opt out" of experiencing birth by numbing it or just having a doctor cut her open and pull her baby out. The feminism movement made that one fateful mistake when we allowed commercial and medical systems trick us into believing that it was powerful to "control" the pain of labor - or to not breastfeed our babies. Such a sad misfortune that I hope to see soon as an also dying trend. {DISCLAIMER - just so we're clear - this is referring to the women who believe that they can't give birth without pain relief or simply don't want to. There is a time and place for all medical interventions....my issue is when a woman isn't even interested in trying or fears trying to trust her bodies ability. Getting interventions without medical cause is DANGEROUS to both mom and baby - it it not ethical of me to support the unnecessary risk to either, which is why I don't.}

"It doesn't hurt as bad when they are babies." 

This one really irks me. Someone tell me how anyone knows this. Please. Did you remember that it did not hurt? Did a newborn tell you that it didn't hurt? Have you ever seen an infant get a circumcision? Do you REALLY think that they don't feel that?

It wasn't that long ago that the popular belief was that babies simply couldn't feel pain at all. Any sort of medical procedure - including surgeries - was performed without any pain relief or anesthesia in mind. I can not even imagine the sort of torment this was for these poor infants. I also can not imagine how we can possibly allow ourselves to be convinced by OB's and Doctors that this is not a painful experience for them. It is. Don't be fooled.

Yes, circumcision does hurt when you get older...but not "more" than it hurts a newborn or child. Actually, it is a much less invasive procedure because the head of the penis is no longer fused to the foreskin - making half the procedure that much easier. For newborns, the skin that is layered over the head of the penis is fused to the foreskin the way that your fingernail is fused to your finger (do you think separating your fingernail from your finger might be painful? That's actually a torture technique in some cultures). It stays fused like this from birth to around the age of 5 when it will naturally begin to retract. Separating these tissues is excruciating - and you can absolutely tell by their cries.

Babies are telling us that this is painful - we just aren't listening. For the sake of cosmetics and the slim chance that it will protect from disease we are strapping our boys to tables shortly after they arrive here and proceed to slice skin off their penises. No consent, no way out. I have to tell you - as a victim of molestation and rape this part makes me very uncomfortable.

"I had it done and I'm alright."

Are you? Reeeeeally? How do you know that this did not effect you in some way - you would never know the difference because you do not know who you would have turned out to be if you had never been through that experience in your infancy. It may not have effected you at all - but - you'll never really know for sure. Getting tied down and having skin cut off your genitals is a traumatic event, and we know that trauma changes people. How can we just assume that this does not change or have some effect on these infants? 

I think it's certainly interesting, and possibly no coincidence that men in this country are so horny and cock obsessed - and that there is so much penile dysfunction. Maybe, just maaaaaybe these guys are making up for something that someone took from them a long time ago. Maybe they are horny all the time because the head of their penis is constantly exposed and being stimulated (or, maybe they are just horny...). My point is - do you really know why you are the way you are? Why you behave the way you do? There is always cause and effect.  


"There's nothing wrong with my cock."


Now, boys, I understand that it may be difficult to accept that your parents made this decision for you and that your instinct might be to get defensive about the subject and want to do to your child what was done to you. Admitting something might not be right about circumcision might feel like saying something is wrong with your own circumcised dick. Take a moment to recognize that might be happening and address those feelings rather than jump to the decision to repeat the cycle with your own little boy. Man up. Accept what has been and what could be. We're intelligent human beings and we look at things objectively with the information that we are given. Your parents made the decision to circumcise you from the information that they were given - I was among them with my first son circumcised. Forgive, grow and move forward. 



....there's my .02