Monday, May 23, 2016

Teachers All Around Me (And Around, And Around, And Around...)

My hoops are here my hoops are here my hoops are here!!!!

I've been taking them with me everywhere I go since they arrived on Thursday.

Getting my hooping game on feels like getting back in touch with an old friend: hooping was the thing that gave me joy when I struggled to fit in as a college freshhuman on her own in NYC.

But I'm approaching hooping so very differently these days: instead of buying kids hoops at wal-mart, or making them out of irrigation tubing, I bought properly sized and weighted circus hoops.

Instead of making up things to do, or challenging myself to learn something I saw on youtube in the courtyard of my building, I'm meeting my coach once a week to be led through a progressively more challenging set of skills with proper technique.

My self-taught background gives me somewhat of an advantage, but I've also had to relearn how to stand, how to hold my arms, and how to simply hoop around my waist. Apparently the pros don't look like surfing chickens.

There is something inherently meditative about hooping, even when you're wacking your knees, hands, and head in an attempt to get the timing down for moving the hoop up and down your body. The drive to keep the hoop moving feels strangely deep and instinctive. When it clatters to the floor, I feel like I've let it down figuratively as well as literally. I think that deceptively simple and rhythmic activities like hooping, or drumming, tap into something rooted deep down in our humanness.

This makes it easy to keep practice, especially on a nice day when I can be outside. But it also can bring out my disciplined-to-the-point-of-masochism side in a way that aerial work just doesn't, especially when I'm re-learning an old skill with a new, more challenging to work with hoop.
 After several attempts, the "WHY CAN'T I JUST DO IT?!?!" monster comes out, followed closely by the "*##&$^@^*#&@^*&#^@% I HATE EVERYTHING" monster.

There's definitely irony in an activity that feels so innate, so soothing, so joyful, and so peaceful also being a source of frustration, and self-flagellation...sometimes literally when I keep hooping over giant bruises in an effort to force myself to conquer a new skill for good. But I'm not surprised that my hoops have more to teach me than just kick-ups and splits.

I'm finding that when you pursue something with your whole heart, it demands that you rise to the occasion, not just in terms of your skills, but as a person. Finding your passion means finding your path, and one thing all paths have in common is that they lead to growth, and giving.

Learning to balance a burning desire to improve my skills with a sense of love and compassion for the journey will enhance my ability to balance the deeply giving work of being a birth doula with the necessary strong self-care practice to avoid burn out.

I'm grateful to my hoops for the lessons they have to share. What lessons have the things you love had for you? Your teachers are all around you. Take a listen! :-D

Live Omily,

P.S. I'm hard at work preparing for my hooping debut at Big Sky Work's Prince Tribute Cabaret on June 9th! I'll show you no mercy, but I'll sho' 'nuff show you how to grind! ;-D

Monday, May 2, 2016

What's a Doula??

Tomorrow I'm going to my first "Meet the Doula" event at a family care practice in the city. I'm so excited to share information about what doulas offer to birthing people. I wrote up a handout that covers the most basic info about what a doula is...aptly titled, "What's a Doula??", so that during my ten minute presentation, I can focus on answering questions and getting more detailed about what a doula does and doesn't do. I wanted to share my "What's a Doula??" handout with you, too! :-D Here goes...

What’s a Doula??

‘Doula’ is a Greek word for ‘women’s servant.’ There are actually two types of doulas: birth doulas, and post-partum doulas. I’m a birth doula! A birth doula is a professional non-medical labor support person. Birth doulas are trained in the normal physiology of labor and childbirth, common complications, and medical interventions, as well as a variety of proven comfort and support techniques.

Doulas are great for everybody! Before the birth, the doula is a valuable resource for information, helping the birthing person to make informed decisions regarding their care. During the birth, whether it’s a ‘natural’ (pain med-free) childbirth, or one with an epidural, a spontaneous labor in which the birthing person spends most of their labor at home, or a planned cesarean, whether the partner has taken childbirth classes with the birthing person, or there’s no partner present at all: the doula is there to support and encourage the birthing person and any support persons present, and has the tools and knowledge to do so, no matter the circumstances of their birth. Immediately after birth, the doula helps the family to get settled, and begin breastfeeding if that is their choice.

Doulas in childbirth have been extensively studied in scientific trials, and they have been found to shorten the time people spend in labor, decrease the incidence of medical interventions, including cesareans, decrease the use of pain medications, and increase satisfaction with the birth experience.

As your birth doula, I will meet with you one to two times before your birth so we can discuss the kind of birth you want to have, plan accordingly, practicing relevant comfort techniques, etc. We’ll also be in touch via phone and e-mail. I’ll be on call anytime day or night for two weeks before your due date, until the baby is born. When you believe labor is starting, we’ll be in touch, and when you feel you need my support, I’ll be there. I’ll stay with you for your entire labor and childbirth, at home, in the hospital, or in a birthing center. I’ll stay for an additional hour or two, to assist with initial breastfeeding as desired, and to make sure your family is settled, and ready for some alone time. We’ll meet one more time to discuss your birth experience, and any additional resources you may need for your postpartum period.

What do you think? Are you left with questions for the doula?? I'd love to hear them! Maybe there are things I should be mentioning that I'm leaving out! :-D

Live Omily,