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'We don’t preserve our natural landscapes by turning them into a museum. We heal these rifts by inviting back gentleness into our relationship with the earth, by allowing meaning to take hold again. We should encourage enchantment to bolt like a weed.’
- Katherine May, ‘Enchantment '
This April I have been saturated in deep all enchanting nature; a submersion into every element, a rooting into the virile earth and fertile ground and a blossoming alongside all the spring buds (not to mention the first tickles of hayfever!) As I sit here in my ever so new and fancy chemo chair for my routine monthly bloods, I am buzzing with a new energy, feasting on any relevant reading I can find, surrendering to the lure of creative play, scribbling words as my pen tries to keep up with my reenergised stream of consciousness.
‘The name April is derived from the Latin word aperire, which means to ‘open’, reflecting the flowers opening to bloom.’
- Joey Hulin, The Spiritual Almanac
Days spent in Devon during the Easter holidays solidified a quintessential craving for new starts and creative projects, giving me that unadulterated space to breath deeply on the beach and immerse myself in the wild ocean. While my toes and fingers turned into individual blocks of ice, after a less than graceful entrance into the water and a somewhat frantic doggy paddle type effort to stay afloat, my circulation went into overdrive, a tornado of energy shifting around my body, blood rushing and a focus so fixed on the breath that my ego retreated into the recesses of a hardened state of brain freeze, offering a clarity so clear and bright I may as well have had stars twinkling around my head!
These themes of brave blooming and opening to the elements have been skittishly playing on the breeze, blowing gently into my postnatal world too. An April baby, just like me, has been a beautiful new addition to a wonderful family and by all accounts, mumma breathed through her labor majestically, channeling every ounce of her inner strength and courage, summoning breaths so deep and empowering, baby was born quickly and with all the air of peace and beauty.
Visiting this new mummy and baby on day 4 postpartum, with healing soups and a myriad of homemade snacks was joyous, a lovely opportunity for us to be, so she could offload some initial thoughts and feelings in these early stages. I offered some reassurance, inviting her to experiment with alternate feeding positions that she hadn’t felt comfortable trying alone. As we sat, it was heartwarming to hear how much our antenatal meetings had helped with her labour and how she had surrendered to the process, tuning into the breath, reaffirming how ’essential’ our conversations had been.
During those last sessions before due dates, I invite clients to consider some affirmations to help ground and anchor them through labor, such as;
‘I am worthy and deserving of the birth I want.’
‘I release control. I am patient and trust that my baby is choosing thier perfect time and way to be born.’
‘My body contains all the knowledge necessary to give birth to my baby.’
‘I surrender to my own powerful body. I am strong and give gratitude for the honour of giving birth.’
Tools such as keeping the voice low, if she needs to vocalise the pain, as well as keeping her physical body supported and close to the earth, if she can, staying in water for as much time as possible and places where she feels safe, can be beneficial. When my client messaged me to say her waters had broken, I reminded her of these by text, repeating the affirmations so her partner could read them to her too. Hearing how game changing that was and celebrating how it resulted in her birthing her baby in the birth pool with no pain relief, was awesome! Spring and all her energy had exploded right there and then, just as Kirsty Gallagher recognises in her Sacred Seasons book;
‘Nature is inspiring us to uncover the full promise that lives within us and celebrate the creative life force energy flowing through everything.’
Not working as a birthing doula, but offering to hold space for clients as they prepare for birth, is something I am truly honoured to do as a doula. Acknowledging that innate nervous amalgamation of anxiety and excitement, encouraging exploration of these feelings and verbalising them, can be hugely valuable in laying the foundations for a powerful body and mind connection, ready for birth. Clients who I have the opportunity to support in this way, may also be using NCT and the birth and beyond programmes, as well as more holistic methods such as hypnobirthing courses to help them prepare. The antenatal journey can be a hugely overwhelming and challenging time for anyone, but there is such power in being reminded that it is such a personal process, individual to each and every mother and there are many different types of support available. Not all flowers bloom at the same time, they do not confer with the flower next door to them, they just bloom when they are ready; organically, delightfully willing and able.
This month has also seen me venturing into the hypnobirthing world myself, not to train or teach, but to learn, deepening my experience and curiosity in antenatal support. The incredible Sarah Doman has joined me in supporting another of my clients as she prepares to birth her baby later this year. I have been supporting her throughout the entire pregnancy due to hyperemesis and it has been incredible to watch her embracing and opening up to her approaching second birth.
Sarah and I have known each other for a while, but combining our energies and differing areas of expertise for pregnant women is one incredible oxytocin high! I think the three of us were slightly blown away by our first session. The laughter and sparkle in the room was palpable, as if we were in our very own vibrant technicolour cartoon! Having the opportunity to learn something new felt so symbolic of this season, something we had been planning for a while, now coming to fruition.
‘When we know the detail of the places we inhabit - when we tend them with our hands and walk them with our own feet - we enter into a conversation with our places that is mutually nourishing.’
- Katherine May, Enchantment
Starting with a client and six week old has brought a wonderful new energy to my work too.
Knowing family would be visiting for the first few weeks, she saved postnatal support for when she could block out a morning a week on herself and her baby. There is a specific focus on nutrition and nourishment, a gathering of seasonal salad recipes and ingredients to encourage and inspire. Squash and chickpea salad, prawn and tarragon salad, as well as courgette and pea soup have been stirred and blended. I have loved this opportunity to create new menu ideas and have been found sat in front of the scanner in my office, surrounded by recipe books and magazines, assembling photocopies galore for clients reference.
Mindful breastfeeding and postnatal massage sessions across the board have been of mixed success timing wise, reminding me, as well as clients, to flow like water, with the days events that are out of our control. Some sessions have been deeply relaxing, perfectly timed for mumma and baby and an opportunity for deep rest. Others have been graciously abandoned, simply because time has not allowed, or baby has had other ideas. We work within these parameters, feeling our way in the moment, reverting to other ways of holding space; folding washing, taking baby for a walk, running a hoover around or simply sitting nearby and listening and making tea.
With another forty something birthday rolling around, I returned to Dartmoor for my first yoga retreat, letting the reciprocity of nature and be-ing wash over me. While the Avon river flowed emphatically past the glass walled yoga studio, camouflaged in the orchard of the Bala Brook garden, I felt fully immersed in the element of water, as she whispered conspiratorially, ‘go with the flow, go with the flow, open up, blossom, bloom and flood the world’ It was a mirror to all the synchronicities throwing themselves at my windscreen this weekend, in my face, blatant and undeniable! It all felt so fresh, poignant and nurturing for the soul, reminding me of the saying,
‘Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.’
- Arthur Ashe
We can start wherever we need to start, physically and emotionally open up to all opportunities at any time. As April has birthed new life in nature, we are birthing new plans, ideas, projects as well as babies! We are all blooming in our own unique ways and with what we have. We don’t judge the direction a river flows, or how high a bird flies or what shade of pink a flowers petal might be. We do our best. As Julia Cameron writes in her best seller ‘The Artists Way’, a much treasured birthday gift,
‘Creativity is our true nature, blocks are an unnatural thwarting of a process at once as normal and as miraculous as the blossoming of a flower at the end of a slender green stem.’
Just as nature continually flourishes in varying degrees at varying times, so do we. We are made up of energies born of all the elements; fire to drive our passions, water for us to flow and quench our creative thirsts, earth to ground and support us and air to breathe deeply, to revive and function. I witness women thriving and surviving, every day, me included, each turn teaching and healing. There is no failure in nature and we are nature.
‘So, if women must, they will paint blue sky on jail walls. If the skeins are burnt, they will spin more. If the harvest is destroyed they will sow more immediately. Women will draw doors where there are none, and open them and pass through into new ways and new lives. Because the wild nature persists and prevails, women persist and prevail.’
- Women Who Run With The Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes
April Recipes I have been cooking;
April Playlists & meditations I have been listening to;