How I became an organic freak

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rainbowfood2Some 25 years ago, I was sitting in a bustling cafe in Santa Cruz, California, enjoying my morning coffee and a muffin. I had just moved there from my hometown of Vancouver, British Columbia. I had left a life of theater and rain in Vancouver. My goals were few at that time in my life: I wanted to live in the sunshine, learn to surf, and ride my bike to work. A lovely looking man smiling brightly sidled up beside me and asked if the seat beside me was taken. It was the only seat left in the cafe. We began chatting, his name was Will, and I learned that he was an organic citrus farmer in town to sell his organic oranges. The tiny town of Santa Cruz and beyond in Aptos and Capitola, had about 7 natural food stores that he sold his fruit to. I was taken by this unusual man and his unusual work. He also traded stocks on the stock market, which he was doing that day in the cafe. He seemed happy and successful. We began dating. He introduced me to yoga, vegan living and the world of organic and natural foods. I was smitten. With all of it. Soon I moved to live with him at his Hawkeye Organic Ranch where he farmed predominantly oranges and grapefruit in the Coachella Valley in a tiny town called Mecca. So began my education into organic living and farming. I was immersed wholly and completely into this land of fruits and nuts!

Around Will’s farm, we were surrounded by conventional farms that used toxic chemical pesticides, including large farming operations like Dole. I would go on a morning run and inhale the pesticides in the air from the early morning aerial spraying. This just seemed insane to me. How could an organic farm be surrounded by all these conventional farms and still be organic? We began to farm in the San Gorgonio Mountain Range north of Will’s farm far from all the industrial conventional farms. Apples and various vegetables. After three years, Will and I parted and I moved to Los Angeles, but my love of organic living never waned. Twenty five years ago there were no organic foods sold in Trader Joes and Ralph’s. I would add my suggestion weekly in TJs suggestion box and I would talk to grocers in the standard grocery stores to please buy from organic farmers. I began to write a book called the Organic Revolution. I never finished that book, but I realize now, that book could still be written, for while we have made great strides in this country where organic foods and farming are concerned, the multinational corporations such as Monsanto have placed a great threat to small farmers everywhere, in the US and beyond.

My family thought I was nuts. I have preached organic living to them all the years since. I still do. I am now raising my two boys to understand the difference between organic and non-organic foods, so they can make informed decisions about what they are putting into their bodies away from home.

Fast forward to August 4th, 2016. I am sitting in a convention hall at the Gaylord Hotel in Orlando, Florida, listening to author, organic farmer and green foods visionary Dave Sandoval talk about a business deal he recently secured with 60 farmers in Thailand, who oversee 200 farms, to turn their brown and Jasmine rice farms organic, and how he went up against Monsanto to secure the business for his three year old company, Purium. I sat there, one woman in a room of about 1000, imagining what was possible when the company grew to be six years old, and then ten years old. What would the environmental and economic impact be as this company grew? I was smitten. Again. And so the organic revolution continues.

In addition to having lost almost 30 pounds of postpartum (10 years postpartum!) weight enjoying daily non-GMO organic superfoods, I have also ended my 25 year daily coffee habit, I have regained the energy I once had some 15 years ago before I gave birth to my boys and I am watching my skin, hair and nails grow and glow.

I have aligned with this company wholeheartedly to help pregnant, nursing and postpartum mothers and others to drop weight, to regain their optimal health and support them in creating health (and wealth!) in their lives and their families and communities. I was honored to rank Diamond with the company on October 31st and I have just returned from celebrating at their Diamond Trip this weekend where I toured their Long Beach facility, learned a great deal more about the products, and enjoyed time spent with fellow Diamonds who traveled to be together from around the world. To me, this is more than offering non-GMO, organic superfoods products to my friends, colleagues and community, this is an extension of my birth into organic living some 25 years ago. This is a movement, the US food movement, which impacts every country around the world, as Purium farms with partner farmers all over the world. Their products ship to Canada, the EU and soon Australia. If you are excited by what I am sharing with you here and want to transform your health or your experience of wealth in your life and pull in a second stream of income, please reach out to me by commenting here or send me a message via Facebook. I am committed to the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual transformation of human life on earth and my work with Purium is a big part of that. Learn more at www.mypurium.com/radiantdawn. (Be sure to reach out to me if you want to enroll, so I can ensure you receive up 30% off of the products). I am here to support you in creating a life that lights you up. To your health!

Got economic empowerment?

By | business, health, holistic living, Self-Care, Uncategorized | No Comments

9521173-pile-of-gold-coins-in-the-shape-of-heart-isolated-on-white_25_1415648270-300x300Recently I was speaking with my coach about my life, my business, what I have achieved and where I am desiring to go. Coaches are good for that. They offer heaps of reflection and sacred mirroring and I love mine dearly. I was sharing with her about how important I feel economic empowerment is for women in our current age, and the parallels that I am also passionate about in regards to empowerment for women and birth. I was looking at my coaching business and was considering specifically the women I work with. This was all juxtaposed with an issue I was processing around a wealthy individual in my life. I was disturbed by those who have so much, who are seemingly just wealthy for the sake of being wealthy, owning many cars and homes, going on many trips, and not doing a whole heck of a lot of good with it every day. Or enough good, in my not so humble opinion. I was in judgement big time. I thought they could/should/ought to be doing more. Then we circled back to laser in on economic empowerment. And she asked me “Is this person economically empowered?” I was stopped. I had to answer honestly, and as I define it, I had to admit that, no, they weren’t economically empowered. This was a revelation to me. All of a sudden, I stopped judging them, stopped comparing myself to them and could just bless them for who they are, and give thanks for what I had created in my life. I do feel economically empowered. I have created a business and a life that really works for me. I work about four to five hours a day and spend the rest of my time with my kids and husband, doing yoga, reading, walking on the beach. I have consciously created business hours that serve me and my family. Self-care is enormously important and I carve time out for it regularly. I also make time for girlfriends regularly and I love my solitude.

Here’s six tips for creating economic empowerment in your spiritual entrepreneurial life:

  1. Value yourself and charge what you are worth I have done so much work around this. Once upon a time I was a very broke actress, activist and artist. I really didn’t care about money, I just followed my heart, worked my butt off doing odd jobs and trusted Life to look after me. I thought I was free, but really, I was just broke. Don’t get me wrong, I had a lot of fun back then allowing the creative spirit to take me wherever I wanted to go, but I was not of woman of any kind of means. It is so important to do the inner work around your own wealth consciousness, prosperity and money. Get really good at having money conversations. Clean up your credit, hire an accountant. Do what you must to honor your financial life. Pray about it. Find a friend or colleague to help with this, or hey, hire a coach!
  2. Create business hours (including text and email) that work for you The time was when I saw clients at all hours of the day and week. It was crazy! When my first business mentors offered that I create business hours, I worried “Would people come?”. Of course they did and I now have solid boundaries about when I am and am not working seeing clients. Win, win, win, for me, for my clients, for my family.
  3. Carve self-care into your week and weekend Being a workaholic is so old paradigm. If we are going to balance out the world and raise the energy of the divine feminine to the degree that we must in order for our world order to be restored, we must honor our body’s needs, our spirit’s needs, our heart’s needs, our family’s needs and our communities needs. It all matters. But make making time for you a priority and then you will willingly, wholeheartedly have all the love, time and attention for the people and projects that really matter so you can give from the well that is overflowing, not the well that is dry.
  4. Find a mastermind I have always said that when women circle up, great things happen and the same is true in business. With all of the moving parts of having an online or in person business and all the hats you must wear, leaning into those who are in the same boat can help so much. You can bounce your ideas off them, ask for resources, get troubleshooting support in hiring staff, implementing systems and much much more. Give yourself the gift of a group of women/people who are seeking to uplift their lives and their businesses and yes, their economic empowerment so you can be a major player in the expansion and evolution of planet earth.
  5. Write down your business and financial goals This is so important. The Universe can’t give us what we are wishy washy about. As my coach Kendra Thornbury says, “Decision is the point of creation.” So gain clarity about what you are seeking to energize, write it down, share it with the women/people in your mastermind or a cherished colleague. As you have intended and decided that something is going to happen, and work steadily in it’s direction, it will manifest. We live in a creative Universe and we are just that powerful. When we align our thoughts and emotions with action, magic and miracles happen.
  6. Create an altar Place your business goals and anything else you want to energize for your life and business. Place sacred objects that have meaning to you and offer your goals to Spirit.

Here’s to your economic empowerment. We lift as we climb. Goddess bless you as you love into creation all that you desire.

My 7 years of Epilepsy ~ Was it a vaccine injury?

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FullSizeRender 3I am not afraid. Oh sure, I have experienced fear in my life over many things, in varying degrees, but when it comes to speaking my mind, either online or in person, I am unafraid.

For the past year, I have been enjoying a fearlessness and a fierceness that has, quite frankly, taken me by surprise. Perhaps it has something to do with turning 50?

I experienced the fight of my life last year that began when a bill was introduced into the California State legislature known as SB277 that would eliminate the personal and/or religious belief exemption and mandate the CDC schedule of vaccines in order for children to go to school, whether public or private. The measles “epidemic” – the media’s term, not mine, was the precursor to this proposed legislation. I immediately discounted the bill, thinking that such ridiculous legislation would never pass. But it kept me up that night, as I lay awake considering what this might mean for not only our family, but for all Californians.

Yesterday was the first day of school for many here in Los Angeles. I was asked, via some mama activist friends of mine, if I was willing to speak out on the fact that I had to get a medical exemption for my boy Jasper to enter 7th grade. I did. Live. On Fox News show Good Day LA. You can watch it here.

My friend, Safika Erselcuk, who alerted me to the proposed bill one night on Facebook in February 2015, has a vaccine injured boy and I have witnessed her dealing with her son Jackson’s autism for over a decade now. His behavior, his learning disabilities, his moods, problems with his diet, his weight.  In Safika’s situation and many parents of vaccine injured and autistic children, how do you mandate a child to have a vaccine in order to go to school, when the parents know that the child’s autism is from the original vaccines?

Back in 2003, we researched vaccines when I was pregnant. At one point, a parent mentioned in a video about vaccines that we were playing “Russian roulette” with our children.  That did it. No way was I willing to play. I ultimately determined that no childhood diseases were so bad that I couldn’t care for my children and support them in getting well again, and that once well, they could return to school. This was our prerogative as parents and we took it very very seriously. Our children have attended school in California with the personal belief exemption.

My boys are very healthy. We eat organic food and superfoods (I decided some 20 years ago when I lived on an organic ranch, that eating organics was my health and longevity insurance and ultimately preventative medicine, as I wholeheartedly know that what I put in my body affects how healthy I am or am not), drink filtered water, practice massage on each other, use essential oils, see our chiropractor, use homeopathy and herbal and plant based remedies, enjoy early bed times, and have have low screen and EMF exposure. We pray, we meditate and we share our emotions, no matter how difficult, and we listen to each other.

With the onset of SB277, I was a reluctant leader for my local community. Twice I was asked to lead on this issue locally at our school and twice I declined. Finally, I realized that no one else was speaking up to the degree that I felt was needed, therefore the job was mine. We contacted our state Assemblywoman Autumn Burke, and ironically, our Congressman Ben Allen, who was one of the co-authors of the bill, and Governor Jerry Brown, and urged each other via emails, text and on Facebook to do the same. Some listened to us, many did not. Thousands protested at the State Capitol in Sacramento, in the halls and outside, repeatedly over the months until Jerry Brown signed it into law on June 30th, 2015.

I thought we might leave the state. A version of the bill had already been struck down in Oregon and Washington, and since we have many relatives in Seattle and on Bainbridge Island, that seemed like a logical choice. I didn’t want to live in a state that thought this was right. I didn’t want to live in a state that goes against it’s own constitution which promises every child a public education, not every vaccinated child. I didn’t want to live in a state that goes against the international Nuremberg Code, which states such principles as informed consent and absence of coercion, clearly absent from this law.

Last year, while researching vaccine injury, I began to connect the dots with my own health history. Could my 7 years of epilepsy, Grand Mal (big bad) and Petit Mal (little bad) seizures, have been a vaccine injury? Seven years I ingested the synthetic drug Dilantin. To this day I can’t stand the taste of Wintergreen, as that’s what my chewable drugs were flavored. The doctor couldn’t explain it to my mother and I. He said I had probably fallen on my head!?! They said I had a form of childhood epilepsy and it would go away at puberty. How did they know this, if they didn’t know how it started? I had all the vaccines as a child in Canada and I had many of the diseases. Mmm, those vaccines worked well didn’t they? Could this have been the reason that I so viscerally felt a NO in my entire being when the topic of vaccinating my children ever arose all these years? It wasn’t until I was seated in our new pediatrician’s office this past spring, (we were kicked out of our old pediatrician’s office because we had unvaccinated children) telling her my and my family’s health history. I told her of my theory that my epilepsy may have been caused by vaccine injury. Her response? “Absolutely, there was Mercury in the vaccines up in Canada in the 70s.” Mercury… a known neurotoxin…put into vaccines as a preservative. The doctor then went onto say “There’s no way I would vaccinate these children with what you are telling me.” Wow. Vindicated, affirmed, elated, you name it, I felt it. It was like the sky opened up and the angels sang. An entire year had gone by of my feeling like very few in my life were listening to me: my school administrators, some of my family members, some friends, my state legislators and certainly not the man who mattered the most where my boys were concerned, Governor Jerry Brown.

I am sure I lost many on Facebook last year and I may continue to and I just don’t care. Because you know what? I must speak out. I must speak my heart, my truth. I must share what I know and I must do so unapologetically and fearlessly. My voice matters. So does yours, so does everybody’s. What’s the worst that could happen? A few lost friends on Facebook? What’s the best that could happen? Parents research vaccine safety and immunity before the shots are given, if they are given, not after. Time and time and time again last year I heard “I trusted my doctor. They never mentioned any risk.” Well, the risk is right there in the vaccine inserts, but doctors rarely read them. The drug companies know this, but the doctors don’t!?! From Merck’s website, herewith a few of the possible adverse reactions for the Measles, Mumps Rubella vaccination (3 in 1): cases of aseptic meningitis have been reported to VAERS, as well as pancreatitis, diabetes, arthritis, pneumonia, encephalitis, and death. Merck states that the previously mentioned adverse effects are all rare, but as we are seeing with the film Vaxxed sweeping the US this spring and summer, not as rare as was previously thought. If there is a risk, there must be a choice.

If you are a pregnant mom reading this post, congratulations, you are about to experience one of the greatest things we women can experience if we choose to, becoming a mom. And of course, your parenting starts now. Here’s a great resource for you to navigate the landscape of questioning vaccines to determine the path that will work best for you and your family.

My mom has since apologized to me. She said she didn’t know any better. I forgive her of course. What mother would knowingly put their child in harm’s way? But here’s the thing: drug companies don’t care about all these adverse reactions. I don’t even think they care about the deaths. It’s simply collateral damage in the pursuit of public health and safety. What I know they do care about is the bottom line and when we refuse their injections because we don’t want them, or we don’t believe they are safe for our children, then things will change. Unless of course they mandate all of us. Which may not be so far away. Do your research, educate before you vaccinate, learn the risk and above all, follow your heart. In a world that at times seems to have gone mad, it’s the one thing that you have dominion over.

Yours in health freedom,

stephsig250x67

 

 

Can a 51 year old lose 20 pounds of postpartum weight 12 years later?

By | health, holistic living, organic, postpartum, Self-Care, superfoods, Uncategorized | No Comments

IMG_1295Last October, a client contacted me and shared that she had just completed a 10 day cleanse, had great results and shared a video with me on Facebook. The video revealed that the company is dedicated to offering organic superfoods for weight loss and radiant health. I was immediately sold. It was just a matter of determining when I would be able to start, as my life, of late has been incredibly scheduled and I knew it would take planning. Finally, I ordered the products, did the 10 day cleanse, lost about 7 pounds and then promptly went on vacation. Not the best way to keep the weight off and support what I had begun on the cleanse! I kept on with several of the products that are the foundation of the cleanse and was determined to do the cleanse again.

Fast forward to this past Spring. I ordered the products for the cleanse again, did the mental preparations for a strong experience, and I ended it on Mother’s Day. I lost about 11 pounds. This time, after the cleanse, I had a plan. I also hired a health coach. I was resolved to keep the weight off and continue losing. A little over 4 weeks later I had lost 22 pounds and 14.5 inches. I was astounded. These pounds had hung on for 12 years! I just didn’t know how I was going to lose them. I knew I needed a system and I knew that Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers was not it. This cleanse was originally created for stars who wanted to drop weight right before all the big awards shows. Living in Los Angeles, and being married to an actor, I got it. The pressure is real. But I rejected my own internal pressures for 12 long years, choosing to focus on raising my kids and building my business, and seriously, nurturing a long time love affair with chocolate and sugar.

Something shifted when I turned 50. I was at the tail end of experiencing a Candida overgrowth and I was on a very strict diet to eliminate it. I had been making poor food choices after the death of my Dad. I just didn’t care. Cookies, pizza, you name it. But with the onset of my 50th birthday, I made a decision: to be the healthiest I could be for the next 50 years while living on planet earth.

So, as I write, I am in the final month of a three month commitment of clean and healthy eating using these products. I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, a little protein, no coffee, no alcohol, minimal grains and absolutely no sugar. I would like to lose another 5 pounds to be back down to my pre-baby weight. Finally. So the weight loss continues and my commitment to my health is greater than ever.

Through this time of transformation I am experiencing an up-leveling of my experience of greater self-love, as I continue to nourish myself. I have fallen in love with these products and have no intention of stopping any time soon. I know that my daily diet alone isn’t fortifying me the way that it must, in order for me to be the best I can be, and my family is enjoying them as well. Just like any mom, getting my boys to eat vegetables regularly is a big deal. Knowing that they are eating organic superfoods on the daily really makes me happy.

If you are struggling to lose postpartum weight or any weight for that matter, I am beginning another cleanse in August and would love to invite you to join me here. Also, if we aren’t friends on Facebook, please friend me here. If I can do this, you too can have your own health transformation, no matter how long you have been desiring to lose the weight.

8 Self-Love Practices that Changed My Life

By | Self-Care, Uncategorized | 3 Comments
Me and Frank Stella at the Whitney

Me and Frank Stella at the Whitney

Long before I met my husband and created a family, I was engaged in a deep spiritual inquiry that had me releasing the untruths that were keeping me locked in a cycle of self-hate and I aligned with the spiritual truths of my divine true nature that supported my living a life of joy, peace, and love.

How did I do this? Well, it took years to be honest. I received many months of spiritual counsel, cried many tears that represented the falling away of those beliefs that didn’t serve me and practiced acts of self-love that made me feel good, that helped me to foster a relationship with myself that became my new normal. The days of negative self-talk became mindfully put to rest as I began to download ways of living and caring for myself that exalted who I am as a divine being.

Herewith, I share with you 8 self-love practices that changed my life:

Prayer. When I first heard the practitioners at my spiritual home of Agape pray their affirmative prayer, I felt I was swept up into a powerful swirl of light and love and I can recall thinking “I want to pray like that!”. Then I began to work with the Hereditary Chiefs of the Nuxalk Nation from British Columbia to help them save their old growth forests and home. These men prayed before everything they did and I thought “I want to live and pray like that!” So over time I received many many prayers that supported me in releasing what wasn’t true that I had fallen into agreement with. This allowed me to vibrationally resonate with the spiritual truth of my being and then live from that. Completely transformational! What I learned is that whatever I speak with feeling is my prayer, so why not consciously pray on things that uplift my soul and energize the world I am seeking to create? A prayer can be as simple as an “I” statement affirmation that affirms the spiritual truth: “I am Love” or it can be a much longer spiritual mind treatment that creates powerful healing within the neural pathways of your brain and therefore changes your lived reality.

Buying myself fresh flowers. What once seemed a great extravagance became a weekly ritual for me. Why? Because I LOVE flowers and decided that I would have them in my home weekly to enhance and beautify my modest little Venice home. Beauty is very important to me and bringing fresh flowers into my home, sometimes scented, like lilies and sometimes not, just made me feel good! Of course now my husband knows this about me and he brings me fresh flowers weekly when he sees they are beginning to wilt.

Hydrotherapy. While I was studying to become an Agape practitioner in 2000 and 2001, there was a lot of reading about God happening and I would draw myself a nice hot bubble bath and read for about an hour. This time of solitude would feed me tremendously, cost nothing and supported my spiritual walk of self-love and self-acceptance so gorgeously. To this day I lock myself away in the bathroom from all my men, throw in some epsom salts and bubbles and languor in the water for as long as I want. I also take myself to my local Korean spa here in Los Angeles almost monthly now and enjoy hours of away time in the baths and lay reading on the heated Jade floor. Bliss!

Meditation. While I am not a daily meditator I do sit when I am called to sit to quiet my mind and open to the nothingness that comes with allowing myself to become conscious of the breath and let the mind become still. I also enjoy yoga nidra meditation at night to send myself off to sleep.

Taking myself to the beach. The beach is my happy place here in Los Angeles. At the beach I can look out at the waves and tap into the vastness of the Pacific Ocean and feel the smallness of anything that may be bothering me or creating any kind of stress in my life. It puts it all in perspective. I love the sea and will sometimes see dolphins and even whales!

Art Dates. Before having children I painted with oils. Before that I painted with acrylics, practiced collage and various other crafting and art forms, a true child of the 70s! Recently I went to the Whitney Museum in New York City and felt like a kid in a candy shop. My soul was filled with the whimsy of Alexander Caulder’s Circus, Georgia O’Keefe and I was particularly taken with the Whitney’s collection of Frank Stella. It was heaven! My current commitment to my artist self is to manifest an office outside of my home that I can also paint in. Ah creating once again! I can’t wait.

Taking myself to the movies. I love the cinema! For many years as a teen I thought I would be a Hollywood actress, reading all the wonderful biographies of so many female greats: Marilyn Monroe, Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman and others. I acted in high school, in my twenties in Vancouver, and worked for several years in the field upon arriving to Los Angeles. Taking myself to the movies without feeling the need to go with anyone felt like a great act of self-love when I was single. It made me happy and supported me in feeling like I didn’t need a date to have fun!

Dancing.I love to dance and love nothing more than to absolutely lose myself in music while dancing. From dancing in my living room as girl in front of the “mirror” of our large living room to discos in the 80s to Grateful Dead concerts in the 90s to ecstatic dance events here in California to dance parties in my living room with my boys, dancing takes me into the moment and allows my spirit to soar like nothing else. I danced with my babies in my arms when they were small and we turn Pandora on in our living room now and have dance parties all the time.
I even follow a woman on Periscope now who does dance parties! This is very necessary for a woman who sits coaching and writing most of the day!

No matter how you celebrate this weekend, may it be infused with heaps of self-love!

Big love,
Stephanie

Healing Trauma for Birthkeepers in the Age of the Spiritual Birth Crisis

By | Birth Trauma, Self-Care | No Comments

If you are a birth professional, you uphold the highest tenets of birth practices, including a deep sense of integrity for evidence-based care, as well as mother-centric and baby-centric pregnancy and labor, delivery, and postnatal care. You strive to promote peace throughout the entire period of gestation through infancy. You know that the environment a mother experiences for her pregnancy and birth are highly influential for not only the mother, but for her baby, her partner, and her relationships. Breastfeeding, postnatal health, intimacy, and much more all follow cues from the birth environment.

Is it any wonder that you carry a great deal of responsibility on your shoulders?

Even in your “average”, smooth births, you recognize how much of yourself you give. You are a giver. But you walk through many fields to attend births. The landscape varies from birth to birth.

You help support a mother’s (or a family’s) vision for her birth, helping her form and develop her birthing plan. When the birth experience veers from the plan, the resulting dynamic typically becomes quite tense, and you need to pull your inner resources to help inform, reassure, and soothe your mothering client. This can be taxing if you have been supporting her for many sleepless hours during her labor, and it can be emotionally draining as well.

When working in a difficult birthing environment, things can (and often do) stray from the peaceful realm that you and your mothering clients have envisioned, planned for, researched, strived for. Midwives and doulas take on a great deal of added pressure when they have to contend with non-evidence based interventions.

Birth is a dynamic event, and can change course for various reasons. This can cause added stress to the mother-to-be and her partner, not to mention her baby. Intervention rates soar in our modern birth facilities, which heightens the adrenaline response, which thwarts the natural course of birth. In addition to providing a calm and peaceful environment and assisting a mother with managing all of the sensations throughout her labor, you now become a diplomat, an advocate, perhaps a gentle activist.

On a “smooth delivery day”, you have likely given up hours, possibly days, of time on-call. Lovingly, you have shelved your task list, or have found a way to squish it into a tiny window of time, molded around nature’s schedule.You take hours and days away from your loved ones. Maybe even from your own babies.

You are a goddess-serving warrior.

How do you maintain your own self-care and balance with all of these criteria factoring into your job description?

Our modern-day birthkeepers, especially doulas, are on the front lines of the modern birth terrain. It is not for the faint of heart. You are warriors. You stand in to hold the space when a mother should be left in peace to focus inwardly during her transitional phases. You speak up when a mother is vulnerable and her energies should not be engaged in contentious dialogue with abrupt birthing staff about policy versus personal needs.

How many of the births you attend play out in peace and joy? How many births find you gritting your teeth and doing double time as a patient advocate on top of a mother’s labor support person? As the Cesarean rate sits at a steady 33% national average (that’s 1 in 3 births on average, varying by state), and violent interventions are now coming to light in the media, are you at all surprised by the high burnout rate of birth professionals? Are you exhausted?

How do you prepare mentally/emotionally/spiritually to attend a birth?

When you come home from a birth, are you available to your families, or do you need time and space to decompress, to process what just occurred?

How do you clear those energies from a birth? Even the beautiful births are a wide open energetic space. All of the psychic energies from mother to partner to birth staff and medical staff meld together, and it leaves an imprint.

If you prepare placentas as part of your work, how do you keep your own energies separated from those subtle energies?

As a healer, I work with women to heal traumatic cellular memory – that’s how our life’s experiences get “stuck in our cells” as we perpetuate mental-emotional-physical responses through reliving the memory of the event. I work closely with mothers who have experienced birth trauma, and who have experienced physical and emotional postpartum challenges. I help to guide women from a “locked in” state of grief, emotional or mental paralysis, and anger, moving to a safe place of acknowledgement, deep self-acceptance, self-love, and empowerment.

Everybody deserves this status. And we all encounter experiences in some form or another, in varying degrees of intensity, which can weaken our foundation or press our buttons, causing anything from fatigue to anxiety to burnout.

When I work with you in healing space, we work through several different forms of modalities (I liken this to an artist using mixed media). I offer active listening to you, and we discuss patterns which arise for you which serve as triggers for suffering or perpetuating challenges. Once we illuminate these triggers, we safely and gently transmute those energies in healing space. We may employ energy healing, yoga and meditation techniques, journaling, affirmations, or homeopathy.

Would you like to learn methods to consciously prepare your personal energy field as part of your birth work? And how to self-clear your energy after you have completed a birthkeeping assignment (including a day of doulaing, or handling a placenta)? How to recalibrate yourself so that you are reinforced and therefore less susceptible to fatigue and burnout?

Consider joining me at the Sacred Birthkeepers Retreatmarnie_04, hosted by Stephanie Dawn, and filled with deep self-nurturing and recalibrating offerings including bodywork, yoga, delicious and healthy specially prepared meals, and sacred circle. I will be facilitating a group healing circle to address the spiritual needs of birthworkers within this circle.

Ready to find out more? Join us for a tele-gathering on May 20 at 8:00 Eastern/5:00 Pacific time and get your travel plans in order to join us this July!

To our highest healing and success!

Through Dragonfly Holistic, Marnie McKnight Favell works with women who are healing from trauma, abuse, and disorders. She specializes in serving women who are healing from birth trauma and postpartum issues so that they can be fully present for their children and partners as well as themselves, and to find freedom for their subsequent pregnancies. Marnie works locally in her Poughkeepsie and Rhinebeck offices in New York State, as well as nationally and internationally via Skype sessions. Find out more at www.dragonflyholistic.com.

Marilyn Monroe and Radical Self-Care: A Love Affair

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images-2Long before I met my husband and was married and there were babies in my life, I was an absolute teenage Marilyn Monroe fanatic. My love affair with her lasted into my 20s! Even now, in celebration of my 50th birthday, my dear Aunt Fanny gave me two books about Marilyn by photographer Andre de Dienes and I am loving them! To me, she was the height of feminine beauty. I read all about her in many books, purchased head shots of her when in downtown Vancouver memorabilia shops or while visiting Hollywood on family vacations, that I would then plaster all over my room.

And yet her story was so sad. Her early death seemed so senseless to me. For all of her glamour and talent, she was a deeply pained individual. She wanted a baby so badly, wanted a sustained relationship and mate and it never happened. She could turn on her glamorous Sex Goddess on the spot and could just as easily turn it off when she wanted to be incognito, so she was no dummy to how to deal with her fame. She was adored by millions around the world and yet, she ultimately died under suspicious circumstances, with a lot of drugs in her body.

I believe Marilyn never learned the art and practice of self-love.

Thankfully, in my late 20s and early 30s, I did.

It came in tandem with my spiritual studies, when I was studying to become an Agape practitioner and spiritual counselor. It came as I energized my relationship with myself/Spirit and recognized that in caring and loving for myself I was ‘glorifying the goddess’, in other words, God as me! I knew I would never be like Marilyn, nor did I want to be, but I could treat myself as a Goddess anyways.

My self-care took many forms before I had my family: eating food that made me feel good, taking myself to the movies, working out with a personal trainer, taking long bubble baths where I would read about God. I did what made me happy, in addition to all the other commitments that I had in my life. I carved out time for me. Deep inside I knew that these self-care rituals and this muscle that I was exercising would serve me well, as I knew the creation of my family was just around the corner and the one who would be caring for me the most, while raising a family, would still be me!

This cultivation of a loving relationship towards myself was years in the making. I certainly wasn’t taught this by any mentor in my life. It came part and parcel with my newfound understanding that my life was sacred, my body was sacred and the only one who could truly relate to it like that before anyone else would, was me.

This was a radical about face from how I had been in the past. For many years, I would say that I was spiritually bereft, with little to no understanding of God, no spiritual practice, and a very short supply of self-love. Like many, I had grown up being criticized by family members as being too dramatic, too sensitive, too this, too that, and so what happened is that I unconsciously came to think that there was something wrong with me. I wasn’t accepted for who I was so I learned to put on a smile even when I was hurting deeply inside.

This all came to light when I was in an acting class in my early 20s, and participating in an exercise on stage. I had memorized a scene as Marilyn Monroe and my teacher, Alex Bruhanski had me sit on stage in a chair next to another empty chair. He asked me to imagine that I was speaking to “little Stephanie” in the empty chair and I was to tell her all that she had to look forward to in her life. Well that started the floodgates immediately. I spoke to my past self about the difficulties she would endure and then at some point he had me go into my Marilyn monologue. Of course, it was some of the best, most honest work I had ever done on stage. There was just one problem. After my monologue I couldn’t stop crying. I grabbed my cigarettes (ha!) and ran outside with my friends trailing after me. One of my friends, Chai, walked with me for a bit and offered that I might want to consider counseling. I said something like “Counseling? I didn’t even know anything was wrong!”.

I was very very far away from myself and was completely oblivious to this fact. This began years of inquiry for me, and yes counseling, about life, the universe and everything. I believe I have surmounted a great deal of pain and misery brought about by “wrong thinking” about who I am/was, based on how others related to me and how I learned to relate to myself.

My radical practice of self-love became a daily opportunity to accept myself, warts and all, one day at a time. I have utilized prayer, meditation and other practices as I deepen my self-love walk. And of course I teach these things now. I also have learned the fine art of forgiveness in the process. I don’t believe you can have true self-love without forgiveness.

Last year I was humming along in my life, thinking that my self-care was going great and then I discovered that I had Candidiasis. I hadn’t a clue what it was or why it happened, but in sheer desperation this past fall, I learned quick! Essentially it’s caused by stress, too much sugar, white flour, caffeine and alcohol. None of which I thought I was doing in excess, but when I strung together a series of events; a move, a nasty fall that injured my shoulder badly, my Dad’s death, it all created the perfect fertile ground for a Candida overgrowth. I have since learned that approximately 70% of Americans are walking around with an overgrowth that manifests in a myriad of physical ways. If you think this might be you, this excellent program helped me.

Something else that has helped me along the way is to to say YES to that which I truly want to do and NO to that which I do not. As women, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with life, because we give and give and give. This can be really hard, learning how to say no, but it’s really necessary in the radical practice of self-love.

Life will happen, good times and bad. But the love in my heart for myself, for this sacred life and for those that I love is changeless. Oh and Marilyn’s beauty, that’s changeless too! Goddess bless you Marilyn for your light that continues to shine on!

Could you use a little radical self-love? In just a few weeks I will be co-hosting a day with my friend Myrriah Raimbault, Sacred Medicine Woman creator, with some beautiful women in Los Angeles where we will take a deep dive into practicing self-love. We will share the processes and practices we have learned and practice daily, we will play in the hot tub and pool, receive acupuncture and spiritual counseling and coaching and eat yummy food. You are invited to join us! There’s only 6 spots left! You can learn more here at this link.

Midwife charged with murder? An Interview with Babz Covington

By | Human Rights in Childbirth, Midwives, Previously Published, SBMP Mentee | 4 Comments
(Originally published in my online newsletter October 2013)
 
Babz and I at "Birth Heaven Now!" Immersion in Asheville, North Carolina August 2012

Babz and I at Birth Heaven Now Immersion in Asheville, North Carolina August 2012

 
Thanks so much for agreeing to speak with me about a topic that is both near and dear to our hearts: the charge of murder of our dear friend and colleague Rowan Bailey, the climate in North Carolina around midwifery and the whole midwifery licensing debate nationally.
 
Stephanie: Tell me a little bit about your history as a community midwife, when did you begin?
 
Babz: In 1975 a lovely woman who has changed my life many times, Laura Pierce sent for me to come to her side at her birth. When her daughter was born it was like my hands already knew everything. There was a pregnant lady at that birth, who asked me to come to her birth in a few months and after that another lady, and then another. In between of course  there was  the influx of books, and the midwives who taught me, and the touch of the universe to let me know, this was where I belonged. The first baby I was blessed to catch is nearing forty years of age.
 
S: Are you still practicing?
 
B: I have not practiced in a few years now, in the state of North Carolina, but I have traveled to states where the laws kept other instate midwives from being able to attend a woman who fit a “high risk” category. Often that category is as simple as being a VBAC mother.
 
S: What do you know about Rowan’s case?
 
B: She is one of many midwives wrongly charged, unfortunately. The war on women takes many forms. One of them is stopping you from the right to have your baby any way you want to, with any care you prefer, and alone if that is your choice. She is not the only midwife charged for attending births, but she is the only midwife at this time charged with murder. Midwives do not murder. She is charged under a law titled Ethans Law, which was put in place to charge a madman who murdered a mother who was pregnant. She is charged so harshly to get her to take a plea to another charge. Pleading down is the American justice systems way. Hundreds of midwives have been forced to stop serving. To leave their home states and practice elsewhere, to lose their homes to attorneys fees and fines. This is a mouthy human rights woman who is being shushed. The facts of the case are not to be discussed because it is now in a court of law. Anything I can say on the subject must be prefaced with this is what I think I know, and that is not even half a step above gossip.
 
This is what I do know. Rowan opened a cooperative that taught people to care for their own health and got plenty of publicity for it, it is frowned upon to take responsibility for yourself nowadays. North Carolina is not a state where it is legal to have any other midwife at your birth but a nurse midwife. There are no where near enough of them to go around. I know six midwives in the state of North Carolina who have been forced by being arrested into stopping their practice. They all served their communities for decades and their communities were left no choice on their births. I know twice that number who were served cease and desist orders and forced to stop and two who left the state to serve, leaving the communities they had served without a midwife.
 
I know babies die at birth and doctors are not charged when that happens. Before my retirement I had attended at least a hundred births where I kept no records, or left them with the parents to guide their next midwife. I do not care what went “wrong” at this birth. Things go wrong at birth. I care that there is a woman poised to be the Nelson Mandela of midwives, to spend years in jail for the much mourned loss of a baby, as a lesson in fear of authority to the rest of us.
 
 
S: What is the state of midwifery in North Carolina?
 
B: You cannot be a midwife in the state of North Carolina, attend a home birth and not have broken the law. Your CPM means nothing here. My forty years of experience means nothing here. If you transport a woman in labor who needs medical attention? You are lucky if you are not going to jail. The end.
 
S: Is there a national Midwifery Standard?
 
B: There is no nationwide midwifery standard. What is legal in Arizona is illegal in Utah and so on. We all have to wiggle and work within the constraints we have or to throw them away and say, no I will not follow an unjust law. I will stand between this woman and the system bullying her into a [cesarean] section. I will stand between this woman needing a section and people who treat her as if she is a failure. I will stand for all women to make their choices about their body.
 
There was a midwife on the West Coast charged with homicide. She took a plea of assault so she could just go home, cost her a $100,000. There was a midwife in Raleigh who lost one child in a seventeen year practice, those are damned good stats, hundreds of babies she caught for a grateful community who supported her whole heartily. She was forced out of state, leaving her community.
 
There is a midwife I know who responded to a neighbors emergency call in the middle of the night, not a client, a neighbor who called. When she got there the primaries had already transported. The lone policeman asked her name, she gave it, she was arrested and eventually charged with practicing medicine without a license. She lost thousands and thousands of dollars to defending herself. Not because the mom and dad had a complaint, because the state wanted her to go away.
 
I know a midwife who attended a breech birth, nothing went wrong, no one was harmed, she still went to prison, because it was against the law to attend a breech where she was. No matter that she had decades of experience, no matter that it was the mothers choice not to present herself for a doctor ordered section. She went to prison. How the world still dearly loves a cage.
 
I know a mother who begged for midwifery help with the birth of her twins. There was none available to her in her midwifery illegal state. Her pregnancy history was fast births. Her obgyn said the only way he would attend her was a planned section at 38 weeks. She stayed home unattended, because there was no midwife available to her. She indeed had her kids in under an hour, loaded into the car to present at the hospital and bled to death on the way there. Forty five miles. She died. She died! Because there was no one at her birth to just lift out the placenta and let the uterus tamp down and control her bleeding. Babies and mothers die in childbirth. It happens every single day. Birth is as safe as life gets. And midwives go to prison. Or to another state, or to the poorhouse, because they are no longer allowed to practice their craft. You either support parents rights to their births and their children, or you don’t. The choice is always yours. The choices should always be yours.
 
S: These stories all sound very unjust, in the truest sense. What is the answer?
 
B: I believe the answer is self regulation of midwives, peer review groups in the community, information passed mother to mother, friend to friend, midwife to midwife, in loving honesty and with respect for the mother/baby unit at the forefront. There are too many differences in practice and too many different women who require midwives, to have just one standard. I believe there should be a midwife for every woman to guide her through the birth the mother has chosen as her ritual into motherhood. I believe all of the choices should be the mothers guided by who she chooses to attend her. I believe it is the midwives job to educate women in the art of birth. 
 
S: Finally, I know you attended to Jeannine Parvati-Baker in her final hours on earth. She is a deeply respected birthkeeper and many reading this may not know that she coined that term. She is an author and the founder of Hygiea College. Have things changed so much since she passed? What would Jeannine do or say around Rowan’s case?
 
B: I feel quite positive that Jeannine would be at the forefront of this support for Rowan. She had an innate knowing of birth, of the life and death of being a human. She was authentic in her midwifery, in her being with woman. Her support for laboring mothers getting exactly what they needed to have their babies is in its own way, legendary. She honored me to pass while I cared for her and the way she blessed me as midwife was as life changing as any birth i attended. She told me I was her final student, and that I was a good one. I will never forget the feel of her, of her grace and style, the touch of her hand on mine. She was the most centered person I ever loved.
 
Bless you Babz and may God bless Rowan and the Spirit of Jeannine and all midwives everywhere who serve women in birth. Thank you so much Babz for spending this time with me. Many blessings to you and your family.
 
Rowan Bailey is currently under house arrest in Asheville, North Carolina. Her case is due to go to trial in March 2015. Families for Birth Freedom is currently raising funds for Rowan so that she may heat her home, put food in her fridge and pay her rent. The rules of her house arrest are very restrictive and limit her ability to earn money, which she does when she can, taking house sitting and pet sitting jobs, but she needs more. If you can help, please do by sending a Paypal donation using the email: familiesforbirthfreedom@gmail.com. Thank you. 
 
Barbara ‘Babz’ Covington is a natural living advocate who believes in treading very lightly on the earth. She knows in her heart, the love you take is equal to the love you make.
 
Related blogs: In Defense of Midwifery by Shannon Mitchell and Independent midwives: why we can’t afford to lose them by Annalisa Barbieri

Why I Support Human Rights in Childbirth

By | Human Rights in Childbirth | 2 Comments

I Support Human Rights in ChildbirthI support the organization Human Rights in Childbirth (HRiC), and the movement to understand birth as a human right because as a culture, on a global scale, we have forgotten who we are. We have forgotten that life is sacred. We have forgotten that birth is sacred, that women and babies are sacred. I would go so far as to call birth sacrosanct: “regarded as too important to be interfered with”. Every day, women, babies, birth and life are being desecrated in the name of ‘maternity care’ in the form of needless, fear-based and power-dominating interventions. Pregnant women are repeatedly misled, bullied or coerced into actions they would not have chosen. Of course, sometimes surgeries are needed to save a mother’s and a baby’s life, but all too often, the episiotomies and cesareans are unnecessary or preventable. The stories I hear from the women I work with every day, midwives and doulas working on the ‘front lines’ of birth, are heartbreaking and horrifying. It’s unconscionable to me that women, in the midst of one of the greatest transformations they will experience as a human being, giving birth and becoming a mother, are treated roughly or even aggressively by nurses and doctors — bullied, cut and emerging from their birth experience physically and emotionally scarred for years.

My births were profound rites of passage for me as a woman. Through them, I found power and strength I never knew were in me. I honestly felt I could die, knowing I had truly lived to experience the birth of my two boys.  As a woman who had two positive, empowered and sacred birth experiences, it is deeply troubling to see this power and strength usurped and trod upon daily by a power outside the birthing woman, namely the Western Medical Model of Care. This model, that has been adopted globally as “the best”, insists that in its actions it knows better, and consistently exerts power over women. This is unacceptable.

Shaming and blaming are not ways to create transformation, I know. However, we must not shy away from calling out the atrocities performed in the name of ‘maternity care’ if we are to transform this current paradigm of birth that persists in dominating women. We cannot sit idly by and allow such violations to continue. Many women who experience such assaults upon them have no legal recourse. At the Stand on Your Rights workshop in Manhattan that I recently co-hosted, speaker Cristen Pascucci, founder of birthmonopoly.com declared “[Women’s rights in childbirth] is a non-existent area of law.”

This is where HRiC comes in. To support women in receiving the legal assistance, as well as the emotional support required when they confront this dysfunctional model of care. It is standard practice for hospitals to apologize that “a woman’s experience did not match her expectation,” but rarely if ever, is there any acknowledgment of the coercion, bullying, violations and unnecessary cutting that trusted providers perpetrate upon these vulnerable women.

Human Rights in Childbirth is a powerful global network of lawyers, midwives, public policy makers, doctors, counselors, anthropologists, therapists, activists, and mothers and fathers who are dedicated to advancing the fundamental human rights of birthing women everywhere. We come together to support the basic human rights of a woman to give birth where she wants, when she wants, with whom she chooses, and to do so with dignity and respect. It’s very simple.

HRiC is a beacon of sanity in an insane birth world, a ray of light to brighten the road of awakening and transformation as we, each of us, diligently work to transform this dominant global paradigm of birth and support those who are waking up to the error of these archaic ways.  We do so not with force, but with what is right, fueled by the power of love.

Human Rights in Childbirth is currently raising funds via an Indiegogo campaign to support its continuing work in the world to help make human rights in childbirth a reality. You can learn more about HRiC and the people that are contributing to this movement by going here.