Friday, December 31, 2010

Doula 2.0

Here we are on the eve of a New Year, and like many I am pausing to reflect on the past 364 days. Typically I marvel at the speed of the journey from one year to the next, but this year it doesn't feel that way. Many of my experiences of 2010 have caused me to slow down and think, to critically evaluate my path and to examine my relationships and my roles within them. This year unrolled at a steady pace and I can think back and reflect on each phase with much clarity.

My children have grown of course and although that always takes me aback as they mature and change, I have very much savoured their company, their learning, the lessons they continue to teach me and their love. They have been a beautiful oasis in my complicated and busy professional life. They remind me of what we (my husband and I) have done right in 2010. The most important role of all seems to be holding well, is the most grounding thing I have in my life and caused me the least amount of doubt. I purposefully forced myself to make the most of not only days but moments with each of them.

The biggest change was expanding and moving Birth Source Inc. to accommodate a vision I have had for years. This was the biggest upheaval in many a year! Some days are a flip flop between excitement and regret still, but here we are working at fulfilling the vision and gaining confidence in it. This process did not zip by by any means. It has been slow and methodical, full of ups and downs and lessons that I will be forever changed by, both good and bad. So for this I must be thankful I suppose because if the journey were easy I guess I might not feel as determined to make it better! I have the best customers and support in my community than I could hope to have. Kathleen and Julie who work with me have been so supportive and helpful and understanding of my vision that I am eternally grateful to them for coming into my life! Kathleen is so even and calm and patient with my venting and ranting and offers me the perspective I need and the Mother to Mother support to the families that come to the store with all of her heart.

My professional relationships have ebbed and flowed in 2010. I have both lost and gained friendships within the doula/birth world and continue to digest and metabolize just how much of a profound effect that would have on me. I have many flaws, but lack of loyalty and ethics are not among them. I spent sometime feeling a little naive about maintaining these characteristics this year as they both appeared to have worked against me with regards to my doula work and my professional associations. But, of course after some time to reflect and heal I have come to understand that these are the characteristics that allow me to keep doing this work because I am loyal and ethical when it comes to supporting the families that hire me, the doulas that come to me for advice and a profession that I absolutely love.

Two experiences have influenced the reshaping of my doula self for 2011. The first one is attending the "Gentle Birth Guardian" training with Barbara Harper and Nadine Romain
in July and the second was leaving behind old associations with an organization I no longer felt benefited either of us.

The workshop with Barbara and Nadine helped me be comfortable with the unlearning I needed to do to feel truly comfortable with both my doula self and my personal self. I have been to many workshops, read all the books, bought into all the wisdom of the birth gurus and met many of them as well. When Barbara Harper takes you aside and talks with you about yourself, your dreams and goals and visions it is with such authenticity and grace it changes you. When she takes your face in her hands and looks into your eyes and says "I See You" she means it with all of her heart. She makes you feel like you make a difference and that your effort isn't for not.

All of us get into the birth field to make a difference to women and babies and everyone fulfills this in their own way, but Barbara Harper and my midwife Noreen Walker are the two women I have personally met that I feel are truly there for the Mothers and Babies. These are my mentors, not because they are rock stars in the birth world, but because they are willing to put themselves out there to make birth better for women. They don't worry about political correctness or rocking the boat and when I feel alone I think of them. These two women have made me feel seen and heard.

To examine the doubts I had and to take the steps necessary to be okay with saying goodbye to old associations that were holding me down and disappointing me so greatly was very difficult for me. I felt like I had wasted some of the best years investing in a one way relationships and sharing a common philosophy that turned out not to be. Much like a divorce I felt a big loss initially, a mourning if you will, but I recognize that it was a great learning opportunity and a valuable stop on my journey. It is easy to get comfortable and difficult to get out of( or in my case kicked out of) a comfort zone. I feel good about my service to my association as I furthered the vision of it's "founders" whom I respect very much and fulfilled my role as their ambassador with integrity and a pure doula spirit. I am okay now, with closing that chapter of life and moving on.

So... my resolution for 2011 is to continue improving my doula self, learning, creating authentic relationships, defending my doula sisters and helping them on their journey with whatever wisdom I am able to offer. I'm putting my energy to demanding and shaping not only quality education for doulas but mentor ship and support for them as well, casting off relationships with political ties and egomaniacs and getting down to the work of putting women first, something much is written about, but rarely practiced.
Peace Out,


  1. Tracey, reading this made me feel all warm inside.

    Getting out of our comfort zones is always a stretch but then, aren't most of the things we want outside of our comfort zones?

    I think what you do is wonderful and I experience you as a very dedicated, caring and assertive person. I'm looking forward to what you will create in 2011!


    “Behave the way you really are, even if it ends a relationship. Never suppress yourself in an effort to influence, hold, or win someone. When we are unreal, so are our rewards. To say this in another way, never behave the way you think the other person wants you to behave, but in the manner you must. Nothing you really... need to do or have ever requires a yielding to a person or custom.” Vernon Howard

  2. Niko thank you my friend. I am grateful for your friendship and your quote was just what I needed right now!

    I am assertive, but also vulnerable like everyone and susceptible to wounding. Doula sisters like you make healing much easier.

    Many thanks :)

  3. Tracey, you are free, Hon! You have such a bright spirit and commitment to women and community that to have the shiniest aspects of yourself fettered by imposed patriarchal fear is just not sympatico with your true path. May this freedom open you wide to channel and broadcast the essence of healing to every family you touch and beyond. It is with great honour I hold you in my heart as a doula sister. It is time to fly to the next level.

    Love and respect,

  4. Lesley, I have worked well within the parameters of the association for many years, and did my best to be patient waiting for the changes they desperately need to make to their trainings, education and leadership.

    I would have been happy to stay and help make those changes, but unfortunately I could no longer stand by and watch it be driven into the ground and continually watch as doulas are turned out of trainings unprepared and unsupported.

    Every independent doula training program has been born out of this same philosophy and frustration so I guess it was only a matter of time.

    Looking forward to connecting with you in 2011 Lesley!

    Thank You!


  5. I hear ya! That's definitely how my trainings were born. I just could never do the elite club/big brother is watching thing :) I never believed that not well trained/inexperienced doulas should take the role of teacher, perpetrating the same old stuff.There are many many things I appreciate about solidarity and furthering the important work doulas to to lessen unnecessary interventions, and I deeply appreciate founders of large doula organizations. I just don't like their trainings and their way of pumping out people who think they know enough to do this type of often grueling work. I feel very sorry for excited women passionate about helping at births trained so inadequately. Doulas are getting very bad names BECAUSE of them. I have many large organization trained doulas come to our MotherWit trainings very wounded and with no tools with which to protect themselves or knowledge of how to transform bad mojo in the birthing room into an environment where everyone feels loved in spite of ego and attachments to control. Making trainings and approaches more logical, more according to rules and regulations etc. is not the answer to creating better doulas. That's a very male oriented model of learning where what is most highly valued is information and intellect.
    I get a sense of how hard you worked and I'm so sorry it was disappointing, because there is so much potential with organizations who that kind of presence.
    Here's to new beginnings!