It feels good to be here again. Writing. Writing what I want. Finding my way back to the blank screen only to find that it brings a refreshing calmness and healthy jolt that I have been away for a long time. WordPress has changed its layout again and I’m worried what challenges that might bring me in putting this article together. I really do wish I could have gotten to you sooner. It feels like a revisitation. However, I have been stuck. Stuck in an internal maelstrom for quite a while which has only just realised me to some slightly more gentle water rapids. The long and short answer is that I have been waiting on a visa as well as waiting on the opportunity to move. Even though I have been applying for visas in what is now close to a decade there are few that can describe the chronic anxiety of the state, that I have yet to master. So there it is my anxiety got the better of me and hopefully, that lets you off the hook too.
So I am here back in Mkhanda here to complete what I didn’t finish the first time around. I think really what has really spinning me out is how complex my life is as well as the work that I do. I wonder what you must all think as look at me going through this process which is my life that is all about trauma, when I can’t tell you exactly what I am working with because it is bound by confidentiality. Maybe at this point, I should probably be referring you to my other website which is also deeply neglected. Make you wonder why I have them at all if I am just going to ignore them. It makes me feel like an errand mother. However, that’s life sometimes we have to juggle. Something that seems negligible one week is critical the next as we attempt not to rock the boat from running from one task to another. That’s where my life has been at and although I have been very well looked after over the last several months, sometimes we just have to accept the innings we have and play from there.
Part of me wants to make promises or tell you what I will do next or even more about where I am in terms of work and who I am working with. the things is that belongs on the other website and maybe that just tells me where my next piece of writing should lead me.
It’s the 1st of May. It’s Summer what a bummer that we are still trapped indoors feeling thoroughly confused about the unkownness of our butterfly existence. Just the other day I got into a fankle about what I was doing with my life. Then realised that a global pandemic was no the time to start future faking yourself about the intentions you have that right never be fulfilled (the things we do in our head).
If you go look at my Instagram you’ll see that I’m in the middle of rebirthing right now. What exactly does it mean? Well it’s all about the Heroes Journey, Life Cycles, Rites of Passage and much much more. I’m right in the middle of my story so I am unable to outline the predominant themes. When I do know I’m sure I’ll be writing about them. Right now though in this moment it’s the know and unknown of birthing and rebirth. It’s epistemic or as some therapists might say;It’s preverbal.
What exactly is rebirth? I suppose it’s a bit mystical. It’s about making changes and knowing that who you are, has intrinsically changed. Birth, Death & Rebirth it’s like life is an endless loop. That’s why I’m all about the Trequetra. A repeating cycle caught in infinity.
Rebirth is fucking painful, most modern-day coaches or gurus might talk about, transformation. I myself might even talk about crisis, or crises (I kinda specialise in that, the more fucked up the better if you ask me) as an opportunity (I know it’s such a cliche).
Mainly it’s about living inside the body of a disintegrating caterpillar rather than the moment of the emerging butterfly. Does a butterfly even know it is a butterfly? If it had a word for itself what might it be? So seriously this is what all Life Doulaing is all about it’s witnessing you in your protective cocoon and figuring out what might cause you to break out. You see you need to be safe to be effectively vulnerable. What might you be if you believe in something, anything? Even yourself? That’s all it is. That is what secure attachments are all about. That is the work of a doula. Push, breath, take up space. Birth. Then at some point, you do it all again knowing that you can.
When it’s time to rebirth we often don’t even know what we are birthing. We don’t even know what it is that we want to create or even that we might need to let go of something. All we know is that we can’t spend one minute, not a moment longer tolerating that which doesn’t serve us. We are evicted from the lives we live. We are liberated and it’s up to us to find out what is next. Where are we going? You lose all your friends, become estranged from family and actually it’s ok. It’s time to move on. As they say in Scotland “What is for you will not go by you”. And as it stands you just have to trust in the universe as you take a huge leap into the abyss. Its ok monsters can be friendly and incredibly kind. Dancing with the devil in the sea of the blind. ‘Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose’.
Then all of a sudden it’s time for reinvention and you literally get to decide how to invent yourself. What a wonderful thought….
Right up until this week the primary focus of my work as The Life Doula has aways been Emotional Labour. Louiza Doran very kindly reminded me of. Emotional Labour is largely the work or women and is the internal unpaid work we have to do in order for The System to function effectively. In addition to this Emotional Labour is our way to embody our collective wisdom, it also the way in which we navigate our own trauma; release and mitigate it on behalf of the collective. I was first introduced to Emotional Labour via a friend Natalie Swan, who had been reading Emergent Strategy by Adrienne Maree Brown (which I still haven’t read yet due to the clusterburach that was 2019). Part of that Emotional Labour has been the slow-moving realisation that there just hasn’t been the language or terminology to explain what I do. Which left me somewhat forlorn and frustrated in my slow diligent movement forward through life. I’ve been delighted to discover that the language that I am looking for is that of decolonisation. And beyond this I discovered a knew word this week epistemic – relating to knowledge or the degree of it’s validation.
Mental & Emotional health have been colonised by the limited insight of science that is bound up in matter. The only way I have been able to explain The Life Doula being “that you wouldn’t leave someone in labour. Why would you leave someone in emotional pain?”
In the process of becoming The Life Doula I have had to unlearn and challenge much of what I have been told is true. That one-hour sessions are optimum so that clients don’t learn dependency. That offering too much value undermines the financial stability of your business. The thing is I’m interested in healing. In ways that only The Great Pause could highlight. Our world is fucked because we failed to pay proper attention or take due care. That all of my work and the approach that I take is painstakingly considered through the teaching of my own healing journey. Now the science is catching up with my own theory and I find that I have allies in the shared work of trauma healing. To my disbelief, I stand on the precipice of being an educator nor just a dessentor.
You see the informal healing culture of the west is covert, as it has needed to be to survive. “You’ll be needing a cup of tea” is short form code for you’ll be needing a long chat and some ritual connection. We have always known how to heal each other. It’s that our wisdom has been removed from us in favour of the linear precision of the surgeon’s knife. We would rather have things cut out of us than gently resolve our inner wars through presence of mind.
Our healing challenges are now systemic. That we have outsourced our intuition, sovereignty and our ability to heal; to people that have no connection to us. Our being, our lives, our place. That somehow the human spirit and body is one miraculous generic creation that can be ‘fixed’. I think not. This is why I am a doula, not a coach. I’m not interested in your productivity, functionality or civilisation. I’m interested in the jagged edges of your soul and how they cut you to ribbons at night, silently in the dark where your screams consume you. Maybe this can be best described as your Emotional Labour. Now we long for something else beyond the pain of oppression, repression and survival. We long to be heard honoured and cared for. These radical ideas of worth are the decolonisation of a species. The decolonisation of a planet. Where the forced extraction economies of Mother Gaia may be coming to an end, it’s all very symbolic.
One of the most valuable lessons that I have learned this year is that you can’t have true love without respect. Which seem very pertinent as I start my Birth Doula training. You can’t extract a baby and the creation of one under force isn’t recommended. All creativity stems from vulnerability both sex and birth are representative of this act. The truth is you can’t achieve human life through human individuation, nor can you achieve optimum human status without the support of community. It is our human connections that make us capable of bearing human life, as well as bearing the wait of pregnancy. Like everything birth and birthing are a process. Where it is once again hard to know where is begins and ends. Where thresholds are crossed both literally and metaphysically, a baby is born, just as the mother is birthed. Birthing is painful, life is painful. It is also exquisite, miraculous, beautiful and extraordinary as The Great Pause is amplifying that stillness, waiting and gestation all hold purpose. Nothing is conceived fully formed. Where would the fun be in that anyway? We have to honour what emerges.
I started out this year following a theme of rebirth returning to Scotland after several years abroad. What occurs to me now is that I am deep in a birthing process; is that I am only now creating a life, a practice and knowing that I conceived years ago. That I was not ready to bear. The deep truth that I was not ready to bear being me and all the very real things that I would have to lose in order to find respect aka love. That the birthing process is one of love, protection and care that cannot be commodified and doesn’t belong in a system that wishes to do so. That my real work is birthing the sacred in all of us where birth, death and trauma are inextricably linked. Where the light meets the dark and the shadows create the sparkles.
This year it feels like I’ve taken a crash course in all of the above. I’m also feeling pretty proud of myself in the process. For the first time in the history of my own community activism, I have refused to take on other peoples shit. True Story.
Emotional Labour is the work of me, The Life Doula. I create space, I hold space and I offer up time as if it is an infinite resource and utilising a lost healing magic that seems to have been long forgotten in the realms of 21st-century healing. You can’t hack everything. It is at the very moment we can become grateful for the ageing process, proud of the whispy grey hairs and that wisdom usually has to be earned.
The truth is that Emotional Labour is, for the most part, the work of women. The absorbing, the explaining, the understanding, the coaxing and sustaining of families and communities. It’s the care of the dying, the nurturing of children, the comforting of the ill and distressed and the perpetual maintenance of the household. It’s also the commitment to healing, healing ourselves to be of better service. Healing our selves to create better homes, stronger families and resilient communities and yet so little of this work are appreciated and honoured even though it is the very stuff of life.
These days as healers and let’s be honest here as women we now have to resolve to set boundaries for ourselves. We have to decide to take care of ourselves first, heal our selves first before we ever hope to have a deeper impact on the world at large, even though there is so much to heal. Too often now I have had the call to action. “Kimberley we need your help” and too often now I have learned that the help I have to offer is mistaken for something else. That somehow I can do the work for you. That by me showing up and listening to the problem at hand is a cure and that due to my caring nature I might be willing to solve the problem by taking on the role of community enabler. That I will be project manager, researcher, facilitator, admin assistant, fundraiser and counsellor. All for free of course.
The answer is I can and I won’t. The truth is my house isn’t in order. I expect too much from hurt people. The best remedy I have for this is, of course, is getting back to the drawing board and straight back into dharma. Chopping water and fetching wood, figuring out where the mix up happened and re-committing to healing myself first, loving myself best and serving reason from a cup that radiates joy.
The age of Aquarius is here. The divine feminine is on the rise and emotional mastery is calling to us. Nurturance is key and taking on the emotional labour of others is over. Nothing is disposable. The energy we put out into the world is the energy we get back. After all, it’s the circle of life.
Re-parenting has been a theme that has been coming up again and again over the last few weeks. When I very first started out on what we might call the coaching journey; which is an entirely different thing to the healing journey I thought I might advertise myself as a Self-Parenting Coach. Only now do I realise, one how ironic that is in terms of my own personal journey since then, and two how ahead of the game I was. Even now The Life Doula as a concept seems so way out there that only one of my clients so far has actually got it. (Hey ho) without me having to explain it. Re-birthing yes that too is a thing. Re-birthing as you can well imagine goes hand in hand with Re-Parenting or Self-Parenting as I have termed it.
So here we are talking about terms. What I really want you to know, is that although I might think up terms regularly, I do try to think about the terms that I use at great length. Especially what they might mean to people or make them feel. So, for example, the term Re-Parenting, though very valid, automatically brings up the for me a bubbling kind of resentment and shame. Filled in with exclamation points!!!! Like “For fuck sake, like being parented wasn’t horrific enough as it was without having to take on the actual role of my parents as well in order to gain insight into how truly fucked up they were.” After all, assaulting a four-year-old wasn’t bad enough as it was without having to relive through both parties. Yup, it’s full-on inside my head. Then I get to Self-Parenting and it lets me give out this resigned sigh of “Well I suppose somebody’s got to do it” as I look round the room for an imaginary adult that might be willing to take on the task. After all, wasn’t that what you were always looking for another adult that might help and then, of course, didn’t….. Yup, it’s a bit fucked up no two ways about it. The abandonment buttons are very real in this process. As well as that it also leaves a certain element of blame on the parents part, like they should have done better, known better behaved better. When in fact they are fucked up, still fucked up and very committed to the process of avoiding that reality. Oh well and to leave yourself with the role of re-parenting or self-parenting leaves bigger questions about the need for the do-over or the very real neglect and abandonment, that may never be answered or might indeed leave us more traumatised. It’s not our job to re-parent ourselves it never was and it’s a mild form of victim-blaming to suggest that we should have to take on that role for ourselves. So both terms linger within me with a mild toxicity. That seems to be corrosive over time.
So after all that and all that feeling and how I felt and how I thought other people in the same situation as me might feel I came up with the idea of Self-Nurturance, and I love it. Self-Nurturance seems light and fluffy and cuddly. It’s all the things you might want and need from a responsible adult. It’s all the things that you might want and need for your responsible adult, that makes me love it even more. It’s not as lofty unavailable as Self-Love nor does it seem as socially weighty and thus drudgingly boring as Self-Care it’s somewhere snuggly in-between. More than this it also signifies that its role is poised to create growth. That if we nurture ourselves we can have whole vibrant lives. That we are getting fully prepared for new adventures. Where lemon water is exciting and yoga can feel nourishing. Where we step away from what we are supposed to do, into what we want to do and that those things though separate in our head are exactly the same thing. It’s just no one ever told us. Do you know why? Because no one ever told them.
Exponential personal growth has been a massive feature in my life over the last 2 years. Over the last few weeks I have been witnessing my programming change. That for the last few years I am becoming increasingly savvy at figuring out what is my stuff and what is other people stuff. Creating clear boundaries and operating from a space of compassion without enabling. Which is can be very easy with clients. Yet increasingly difficult within the personal relationships and friendships that I’ve been growing within over the last few years. All of a sudden I’ve been finding glitches in the system and I have felt for the last few days that I have been merging old and new files of myself within relationships. Who I am and who I was, who I can be and how everyone benefits. That the programmes of the past no longer serve me in my future.
It many ways it might appear that I am becoming what would classically be described as more selfish. That word alone makes me begin to understand how quickly and how early we are trained out of fulfilling our own needs. That somehow me buying myself flowers could be a whole host of things from uppity to attention-seeking or even doing it to make someone else feel bad. Not today, not in this home but you can feel where this is coming from, can’t you? That if nobody loves you enough to buy your flowers then why should you buy yourself flowers? Creating a cycle of depreciating personal value in your life.
What is more, other words than selfish are creeping into my insight of the shadow. I witnessed more and more how poorly the words manipulative and complaining are being banded around in response to emotion. If woman or children cry for example it is often classed and manipulative, in order for them to get her way. Or even when someone says how they feel “I don’t feel you are listening to me” “Stop complaining”. These words as defence weapons largely by people that have no connection with there own emotional landscape. It’s kind of like watching someone who’s been jagged by a thorn lashing out a thorn tree without removing the thorn. Painful very very painful to watch. As we see so many online videos of how to negotiate emotions with children it becomes clearer to me that who is doing this for the adults out there running the world and in need of so much more support than a paid therapist or councillor. Even who is looking after me? As I look round more and more I begin to understand it has to be me. That I have to learn to nurture myself deeply, on levels I have of yet to fully understand. That I need to get to my three-year-old self before anybody else can and ask her questions. A simple question like why are you standing outside a locked door waiting for someone who clearly hasn’t and isn’t showing up for you? My heart breaks for her and then all of a sudden I adult myself, who are you waiting for and why? How long have you been waiting? Then all of a sudden I realise I’ve been waiting for me and it’s my job to show up and care for myself in ways I never was. Love myself in ways only I know-how and trust the adult in my life, me.
It’s officially winter here, now, in the Southern Hemisphere and in the last two days I have awoken to thick mist on the slopes of our beloved Mother City’s Table Mountain. It’s quite a change after a week in the desert, where only the wispy clouds of the upper hemisphere were visible.
We are meant to go on a journey to change things, shift things and find a new connection. Increasingly, more and more as I get older I find myself even more earthbound. That no matter how big the adventure, no matter how far I go, that the physical journey barely changes me. The beauty I find is no more transformative than the cinematography of a good film. The things I find wow for a moment and then they’re gone. I am left with a photograph, a story, maybe a new friend and a slightly shifted future transmuted to help me discover another side story. These days I head off on adventures curious to find something new and instead I always end up anxious to get back. When before I would have longed to stay now I’m always ready to come home. Maybe that is because of something better waits for me here.
If there is one thing that I have learned in the last 12 months is that our life journey is more caught up in the emotional environments of our friends and relationships than they ever might be from escapist journeys of travel, about who we are in our day to day lives and the intricate weaving of the shared emotional journey we seem to embroider each other with. That relationships are the stitching that holds us together.
It seems for me now that mystery and adventure somehow seem to hold far less magic that the long drawn out conversation that occur between two people. That the pasts that the histories that people share are far more imbued with wisdom than the idea that we might learn something from leaving the lives we are in. People are valuable they are all round us with ideas, dreams and understanding that moved beyond our own life experiences, that no matter where we go we take ourselves with us. That we view the world from the paradigm in which we occupy and that magic only truly finds us when we are ready to upgrade our own frequency. That, that frequency only every changes on the basis of how much we are willing to give of ourselves. That sharing is, in essence, is caring and that holding space for people including ourselves is the best chance that we have at deepening the connection we have with the world around us.
First of all even though I preach love, light, compassion and nurturance you’ve got to know that I am human. I’m espousing about the mastery of the potential human condition that I myself have am still working on. I get angry. I’m far more likely to jump to angry than to sadness any day of the week and I have a reputation for resolving conflict somewhat aggressively, even in what should be serene moments of bliss. I kid you not. What has that got to do with love? The fact that I am able to love myself in that process. I don’t reject the feelings. I don’t judge anger bad, I don’t judge aggression as bad and I also know that we all make mistakes. That although at times I can be a dick, it’s because I am not yet able to permanently tap into endless universal love. Yup that’s me. Imperfect. Fuck it’s wild huh? To find the solution is always love. In 2019 I have finally come back to myself and my way of thinking. Where my own personal mantra is “I trust myself”. Yes little old me. I trust me.
Trust isn’t exactly love though? Is it? No not exactly and yet most people would say that in any relationship that you can’t have love with without trust. So they kind of go hand in glove. The connection of love and trust is far harder to put a finger on when we think about love and trust when it come to our own interpersonal relationship with ourselves. Through my own journey I am becoming increasingly aware that self-trust is the key to any kind of love. That we have to trust ourselves, our preferences, our feedback, our story in order to experience love. That if it feels right it is right. That something feeling right is only a hop skip and a jump into personal happiness. Happiness is only a 1/2 a centimeter from love. Any kind of love, love of a person, love of a situation, a place or even a thing. If we can create love by trusting ourselves, we can change our world.
Sooooo I trust myself.
This year after many years of trying to figure out how to be a coach I’ve made the decision to go donation based. Sounds crazy right? or does it really? I trained as a Life Coach as I wanted to find great tools in order to be able to assist the people that I talk to on a daily basis. I knew that if I was able access conversational tools that allowed people to truly feed into their own potential, that there was totally new way of accessing how each of us engaged with the world. For a very long time I have always known that each of us has the ability to create positive change in the world. For some of us it’s a lot easier than others. There are a whole plethora of situations, family experiences and personal circumstances that can seriously impede our ability to thrive as adults in what can be a cruel world. Combine a few short term problems with that physical or mental health concerns and it can create a maelstrom of events that have the ability to rip lives apart. All to often the people who need the most help are totally unable to access any positive support systems. Where a small intervention for a little bit might constructively allow someone to simply make a few better choices.
This anomaly has been something that I have witnessed and experienced over and over again. That entirely capable people end up living hand to mouth as they do daily battle with painful negative self-talk and limiting beliefs. All fueled by spiraling anxiety based on a perspective of lack and scarcity. For people on the outside it can be mind boggling and frustrating to witness what they consider an intelligent person making the same mistakes over an over. So that’s what I’m doing putting and end to this bullshit for free. I’m here to help. All you have to do is turn up.
Following along on the Dharma theme I’ve been doing my best to to stay focused and complete each task as it arises. This small errand can be far more complicated than it might seem. Especially when we know that emails make babies. So tackling the email list as your entry level task for the day can seem like sitting on a fast moving treadmill and getting hit in the face by the floor. Personal Development can be very far from graceful. The great news is that every time we fail, we learn something. So with each attempt we are creating small and substantial victories.
Double handle? What does it actually mean? Way back when in another time, another life and a totally different trajectory I used to be a Fine Art Handler among other things….true story. The process of Handling Art is an Art Form in and of itself. Imagine you had the responsibility of picking up priceless objects on an a daily basis and how that might inform the way you think about things literally. When something is sooooooo valuable? Holding, carrying, bearing become ways of being rather than merely chopping water and fetching wood. Forgotten, lost or even mishandled become mythical as the checklist pull you back constantly to this moment. The right now. There here. It changes everything.
One false move and you can undo centuries of painstaking work. Lose something irreplaceable. If ever broken, you can’t go back and “fix” it and even if you could it has to accepted as forever changed. That’s the thing with art you you aren’t actually meant to seamlessly repair it. You have to leave the repair visible so that anyone handling it in the future can see the damage. It’s a strange idea right? That the damage no matter how severe has to be accepted and adds value to the art work over all, and proves it’s originality. It’s really quite remarkable to be able to see an art work as an original thing, with a life of it’s own. Then witness the number of restorers, dab hands, forgers and chancers, that have had a go at trying to preserve a treasure. The repairs tell all kinds of stories. You can microscopically examine paint and figure out exactly what it is made from. How it might have been constructed and even who or where it was made. We get insights into whole worlds histories and even daily stories. Repairs gone wrong, disasterous work days, and work extraordinaire. As well as master craftsman’s signatures that far surpass the talents of the original artist. All this painted out for you as the story of an object.
As an Art Handler we need to learn these stories the way that a health professional might take a patients history, so that we are best able to evaluate treatment, movement and transportation. Right down to what we wrap it in, what love it might need, to survive a journey of only a few feet and well it’s individual needs. The real moral of the story is that we always do our best to only pick something up once to minimise impact. As a result incredible planning and care it taken to ensure that each piece is given the best possible care. We always have an extra pair of hands, we always have an extra pair of eyes and we always have an expert there to guide us. We only get to pull this off once and once only. Everyday is a remarkable experience of presence, zen awareness and total focus. There can be no foreseeable mistakes. We talk about double handling as a last resort. Imagine that you only get to do everything once. It’s a lot like those exploding keys of last week.
Is it really all snakes and ladders? Is it a roller coaster ride? Or is it the hamster wheel of hell? I suppose that all depends on where you are on your journey. It also depends on what are the best choices for you. We all have patterns and any one of us has the right to make there own decisions. Anyone of us has the right to decide what is the best feeling for you. What I can tell you based entirely on my own experience is that we create our own reality. That your current reality might seem like the best choice that you can make at any given time. I absolutely believe you. At any given time you have the access to the best decision possible for you. The thing is that you are perfect just as you are. That the place where you are is exactly where you need to be right now. You can also choose to go somewhere else. Of course this might not be the case if you are experiencing some form of modern slavery. Yes that’s a real thing. Do you feel better now?
You see we can all allow ourselves to be drop kicked into next week. Any girl with PMT (and her unsuspecting partner) can tell you that our physiology, never mind environment or human connections have the ability to fuck you over. Throw you off the playful merry-go-round that we thought we were in charge of spinning for ourselves and leave us bruised, broken and temporarily scarred for a few weeks. If this happens to you then of course we will feel the searing pain of being thrown to the floor, literally hitting rock bottom. Then we can stay there and allow ourselves to bleed to death while picking at scabs at on our elbows. Crying for everyone else around us to help us. Then wonder why they don’t or in fact why they shout at us to get up, causing us even more distress. The thing is that we have the solution, other people can see it and we can’t. That’s fucking scary, I know. That we might not be able to see the obvious. Even more terrifying is that we might not able to feel the obvious. I don’t want to get up. I don’t want to feel better. Fuck you for not helping me. Can you see the challenge. Few people want to have to tolerate another person’s pain. You know why? It’s painful. The truth is is all anybody really wants is love. All anybody really needs to heal is love and you can access that at anytime. All you have to do is think of something nice. Maybe it’s sunshine or rainbows or your favourite Death Metal Punk Band. Yes life experiences and your reaction to them (which you can’t necessarily control) can kick the shit out of you but if you can find something to reach for that makes you feel better. You are going to find it easier and easier to feel good.