This new life we have founded in South Africa, is as consuming as a newborn baby.
Why what? I want to ask, but I don’t, because I know what you are asking and my heart fills with tears.
Tuesday was Women’s day and we were celebrating with hundreds of Joburgers at Emmarentia Live. With legendary vocals like Freshly Ground and Mango Groove and less familiar to me; Goodluck and others. It stood out how much we have to celebrate as women in this country and many parts of the world. It was also glaring how much of the intricate work now has to be faced. It’s an uprising, and an understanding of the feminine, not only as women, but as humans raising each other and our children. We have to learn how to listen like mothers do. How much we should care to teach our boys how to be gentle with each other and women. There is too much that is still so destructive to our evolution as man, so disruptive to the harmony that could exist. My heart burns with passion for all that still needs to be handled and for all the voices being ignored when we should be quiet and listen, seeing how we can make it better.
I loved being under the African sun, smelling the warm Joburg winter, people watching and being among such a diverse crowd. There was groups of people from so many generations. Walking from one end to the other, all the different languages spoken was like its own kind of music. When I looked at all the different little groups set up under their umbrellas I also became aware of a separateness among us all. There seemed to be understanding, freedom to be and a beautiful tolerance for different sentiments. Seemingly natural. Yet I hope that there is not a silent hypocrisy and pretence building among us. I hope that when opportunity affords us we engage each other and listen with open hearts not judging with stereotypes leading our perception and giving us the excuse to only hear part of a story.
Excuse my tangent, I am in observing mode. I became a mother in California, in the US I became an adult. I do not want to assume too much about my new landscape. Even if familiar, I am different and the emotional, economical landscape of my once very familiar home has changed. I am desperate to have a clear understanding of her again. The one thing that has not changed is my love for this land, these people, voices, faces, smells and tastes. We landed during a harsh dry winter. Trees are bare and it all has a yellow-brown glow. Days are short and nights long. Its nose-biting cold. People are standing in icy wind blasts trying to get by on the generosity of strangers. Yes this is the home of my heart. A place where you are faced daily with contrasts and your participation feels questioned. How much to give to those that seems stuck in a reality of harshness and how to protect or rationalise those living within walls of great luxury. A constant existential question seems to hang over ones head here. This can be exhausting and exhilarating, I guess it depends on the day, and what is going on at home:)
I loved being in California, San Francisco to San Diego. Good people, beautiful seas, beaches, mountains and desert. Great learning and many opportunities. And yet I felt disconnected. Always working to reconnect, finding the truth of it lies within. My relationship with self strengthened and my true purpose, passion and place became evident. In California I found the space to figure it out. Once I did, I longed to be here, in South Africa, among people and a place where I wanted to share and participate.
Why Johannesburg then? Why not the beloved Cape, “your husband brews and wouldn’t it be more fair to take him there?”. He does not surf. He will miss the ocean, but I promise to take him at least once a year for a good get away. His real passion is “die bosveld”, it’s game and the adventure of it. He would love to learn how to be a game ranger “for-pete-sake”! He’s other passion, business. Johannesburg is where my family is, and my brother is always visiting from the Cape(we make him). Johannesburg has a vibe and a people/business sense that we crave. It’s alive with possibility and trees. We are supported and surrounded with love here. Having been away for almost, not quite, ten years, my being craved the familiar. I have always loved Johannesburg. It’s wonderful to listen to those passionate about being here, choosing to stay here, feel the same. They have also fallen in love. This city is rich with people, it’s neighborhoods are gems and is buzzing with creative business minds.
Still you look at me like I am crazy…Ok, so we needed change. We were only surviving and living, to pay rent, suffocating in roles that did not serve us. It was time to give ourselves the opportunity to breathe and create our lives, to live with daily passion. To wake up to work that serves our passion and purpose. One of the priorities, for our children to witness this kind of living. For them to be part of both worlds. It’s South Africa’s turn and they are at a great age to make this change and integrate.
Here is another big why… we can afford it. We are lovingly supported on two continents, family that has surrounded us with incredible safety nets, passports that give us freedom of movement. We can afford to take a risk and try this path and life. We stand humbly in gratitude for the grace with which we are afforded these changes and opportunities.
I can only stand on the outside for so long, then I also want to join the dance or process. South Africa, it seems we are like a beautiful teenager trying to figure ourselves out. It’s so destructive and in many moments the choices and behaviours makes no sense, and consequences are great. I am still an observer but at least an engaged one now. Soon I hope I can become part of the process and be part of what helps our country heal from the inside out.
Why? because this is what we want to do right now, this is where we want to be right now. Here is where we want to raise our children right now. Here is where we want to create and play right now.
With love and light
We have lived and breathed in our new home and life for the past month/4weeks. Unpacking our few belongings, settling in and embracing, saying hello, drinking wine, eating biltong. Its been exhilarating and overwhelming. Mostly it’s been a beautiful time filled with what feels like abundance. Comparable to when I held my newborns and soaked up the newness and beauty of them and our choice to have them enter our world and expand our lives.
It’s been a couple of months of distracted living. I mean distracted from sharing and blogging. We had to do farewells and find a way to squeeze ten years of accumulation, into ten boxes. Ten boxes that would fly with us, so they had to be of specific measure and weight.
So we laboured and then the inevitable …
The pushing phase…Stage 2 (some breath, some grunt and some of us growl and scream)
Beloved women, mothers, daughters and grandmothers of South Africa.
I have sat on this letter for four years now…
Why? I think I was afraid! Yet I feel a passionate calling to remind us of our incredible powerful selves, being women. I have a feeling that our beloved South Africa and world could only benefit from a feminine awakening. This is not a conversation about a right way of doing life or birth. Its meant to be a reminder to choose love. I have only one agenda and that is to create more space for more love and light and to push fear to the back seat. I love sharing my story and learning because I know we are all connected and I love your story, my story, our story, this life…so here goes. All I had to say 4 years ago…
I visited our beloved South Africa in July 2012 to doula for my sister’s transition into motherhood. I was so blessed to witness the birth of their baby boy. Off course nothing went as planned but I was witness of her strength, the strength each woman carries within and was humbled and astounded by it once again.
In the five weeks that I stayed with her I visited with my dear friends and met some beautiful new people. Traveling between Johannesburg and Capetown my passion for how we allow ourselves to be women grew and I was incredibly saddened and shocked by what the women in South Africa is choosing to believe about themselves.
Vusi Mahlasela wrote in a song, the “Red Song”( it makes me laugh with tears every time I hear it),”I want to sing my song of love For that woman who jumped fences pregnant and gave birth To a healthy child, Softly I walk into this embrace of this fire That will ignite my love song, my song of life”
It is a reminder of where I come from, the soil I was born a part of, I grew up on, is in my soul and in my bones.
It is a reminder that when we are healthy pregnant women, we are our strongest selves, that can fight of the worst enemy and we can surely birth our babies, allowing ourselves the opportunity to be all we can be.
The fear that we as women have allowed ourselves to rule our innate being is a fear we have to befriend again and not give it the right to deprive us of the beautiful act of giving birth. No-one delivers our babies. We give birth to them and in the process we give birth to ourselves as mothers.
It’s a business, it’s the business of birth that has warped your minds into believing that you cannot withstand the pressure or intensity of a surge or contraction, the incredible work of the uterus and your baby. Why are you so quick to trust that you cannot do it? It absolutely left me flabbergasted that any women would choose a Caesarean birth when she is healthy and deny herself and her baby the transition; birth at its own pace allows for both mother and baby.
Who made you believe that it’s so painful that you cannot withstand it? It’s not a lasting pain, it’s a pain with a purpose and when the mind is prepared and couched appropriately it might not be perceived as pain at all. Yes this takes work and time spent educating yourself and surrounding yourself with love and support.
An example: We become so easily obsessed with a wedding, we will prepare for this one day, this transition, for almost a year, some will even go for extensive marriage counseling before entering into this life long relationship. It’s a big day that celebrates a huge transformation in our lives, but for the birth of our babies we don’t want to prepare and acknowledge the power of the birthday? I just don’t understand.
I spoke to many women over the course of my 5 weeks in SA, only one other than my sister was more afraid of serious major abdominal surgery than having a vaginal birth. Every other woman acknowledged that it’s probably better for her and baby to go “natural”, but that given the choice they would choose a C-SECTION??? Why?? Because they did not think they could handle the pain or the idea of pushing the baby out was too frightening!! “Woman!” I wanted to shout, “don’t you understand how perfectly nature has designed your body to do this, that technology could never catch up to the incredible science of the human body. Your body knows how to do this, educate your mind to come along for the ride and for once be your primal self and allow yourself to experience the power of your truest nature.” Read positive birth stories, go to my library and go look for those books. Watch “The Business of Being Born” and “More Business of Being Born”-4 separate episodes. You will marvel at the information and the logic and the truth of it. Not scary just educational.
South Africa’s Caesarean rate is becoming inhumane, a c-section rate of 70% is crazy, and means our community is not supporting women and babies. Because if they were the rate should be under 15%, especially in a place like South Africa, where women are strong and have endured so much, why shy away from something so rewarding and healthy.
Please believe that birth is an initiation not a punishment. When did we allow fear or the belief that birth is women’s punishment to take over our minds and bodies and ruin what is one of the most creative miracles of life? Think about it…. and when you realize and learn when that was, you will very readily take back the power of your birthing body.
Start believing that Birth Matters, it matters in the long run! How we allow women to feel during pregnancy, the birth and as mothers, create our society and the way we treat each other. It has a long-term effect, understand this and if you listen with your heart you will hear that it’s true. You cannot deny the impact the birth of our children have on our society and world, and remember with every baby born a mother is born too.
Trust your body.
This is an emotional letter, this is me trying to speak from my heart to your heart. There is so much science and incredible stories you can find all over the net, in many amazing books and films, if you are only willing to hear the other side of it. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Fromwombtoworld.com (Anna Verwaal)
Ted talk by Anna Verwaal, who I had the privilege to do a workshop with.
WOMBS (Women Offering Mothers Birth Support)
If you are with your midwife/doctor/care-provider; ask WHY? a million times if you have to, make sure you truly understand. Ask about the BENEFITS? Ask about the RISKS? Ask about ALTERNATIVES? Listen to your INTUITION! Finally always try to buy time. Ask does it have to happen NOW? Could it be to the benefit of the system, the doctor, the hospital policy, the nurses or your is it to save and help your baby????? And then YOU decide.
Okay I think I am done for now. I did not know how I was going to start this conversation, I just know that I have to. I hope to have more conversation with you. If nothing else please know that you deserve to experience the birth of your baby and be there from the first moment of your child’s life. Believe that WHEN and HOW you birth your baby, matters.
I want to re-iterate that I do not believe that there is a right way to give birth. I believe that babies, people, choose their birth-way, and some intuitively and necessarily choose a cesarean or medicated or assisted entrance/birth. I believe in a woman’s intuition as the truest guide. Maybe when we, the mothers, care-providers and society can step out-of-the-way, with our fear in our pockets, trusting love as the guide, babies choice would more likely be honored.
With Love and Light
“If we can recognize that change and uncertainty are basic principles, we can greet the future and the transformation we are undergoing with the understanding that we do not know enough to be pessimistic.”
-Hazel Henderson (1981)
chorus) Halala ho hom (x4) I might break into a song Like the blues man or troubadour And in from long distance in no blues club I might say, baby baby baby Should I now stop singing about love Now that my memory is surrounded by blood Sister, why or why do we at times mistake a pimple for a cancer So who are they who say no more love poems now? I want to sing my song of love For that woman who jumped fences pregnant and gave birth To a healthy child Softly I walk into this embrace of this fire That will ignite my love song my song of life (chorus) My song of love My song of life (x4) Oh when I try to run away from song I heard the persistent voice more powerful then the enemy bombs Demanding the song that washed our lives in rains of our blood (chorus) My song of love My song of life
As I am contemplating my day and some of the conversation that took place, in my head and with those I love. I suddenly realize my inquiry of the day was answered in a conversation that happened by and by. I was wishing my sister-in-law a happy birthday and we were enjoying the idea of all that lies ahead and what we have to look forward to in each new phase. She mentioned how people question certain destinations she has in mind and I thought, “well does it really matter, as long as we have a destination there will be a journey, and that is the interesting fun part.”
Ok so my inquiry of the day was: “How do I manage my expectations when there is such specific goals and plans?” I am always on a mission to manage it(my expectations) to the point where I would love to live with out expectations, finding for me it only creates debilitating tension. When I can enjoy and learn and be without expectation the freedom it harnesses makes me fly and take that one extra step. Now I realize this is not so for everyone, there are many ways to look at this and what motivates each of us. I am not afraid of feeling disappointment or maybe I am and I just don’t have the guts to admit it, yet I am more reluctant about being frozen in place, feeling as if I am so stuck on it looking as expected, or someone else acting as expected that I cannot see it any other way and then the tension blocks my view.
Currently I stand in the midst of the most specific plans and ideas I’ve ever had, and I would love to see them come to fruition. I also realize that I have only so much control and things might not go as expected, agh…. Then after this short yet sweet moment between me and my sister, I again realized it doesn’t matter. Because here I am on the journey, this very specific plan has set in motion. I am enjoying and learning and creating everyday, the mission is to stay present. Personally the unknown is exhilarating to me, it invigorates my soul. I feel my shoulders relax after a tense morning where it felt like things just wasn’t going according to plan, and I again smiled and decided to enjoy the ride.
This is some roller coaster.
I dream of more time with my sister, mother, best friends and family. To be in a space and time where our sharing is more immediate and in real time. I dream of working with people that inspire all the good story in me, having time to work and live my passionate heart. I dream of speaking and working with women of all ages, inspiring our connection to each other and our world. I dream of a playful, free and loving existence for my girls and husband. I dream of us all doing what fuels us.
I dream of a big open kitchen filled with light (with a gas stove). Enough space for us all to play and create. A king bed for us all to cuddle in. A garden and space where we can roll around with a cat and a dog. Friends, family, school, coffee and parks nearby (walking distance).
I dream of a brewery and pub where I watch everyone enjoy Ryan’s beer, he is a master.
I dream, I feel, I tune in. I listen and wait. I actively speak and take action. I create my dream and stay flexible. I have come to realize how powerful my dream and my knowing of its truth is. I have witnessed a dream become part of my here-and-now experience, always with a little twist to keep it interesting. I love it and trust it a little more each time a new dream is revealed.
How sweet the sound of my girls laughter as she’s rolling on the ground with her best-friend-forever. They make each other laugh, they giggle and tumble. And they also declare war when feelings become too intense. They learn how to govern these unkind feelings, finding the words, the space, acknowledging the truth of them without the lash-out that can cause such intense pain and hard-to-over-come barriers. I love hearing their stories grow and expand when they play and create together. My heart sings…
I watch them and realize yet again the value, the necessity of friendship. When I can Be with people truthfully and freely, those are what I call friends. A space where conditions don’t exist. It becomes easy to speak my truth and I am revealed to myself when in the company of true friends. I absolutely value these soul connections and feel at a loss when I don’t feel connected.
I was lucky to be witness of my mother who showed me how to recognize friends(soul-family) and how to cultivate and nurture the precious gift of it. As a live and travel all over the world, I know: recognizing our friends can be hard and sometimes seem to take forever. Then when they show up, its the most natural event, its like we’ve known each other for life times. Its electrifying and energizing. I feel blessed today with a global soul-family. I am guided and love the giggles and tears that happen so naturally with those who I can show my young heart to.
The most overwhelming feeling is gratitude.
While in relation with you I know and recognize myself. I learn. THANK YOU