I decided to become a doula in the summer of 2015. I had been living in NYC for a decade at that point and had worked tirelessly around the clock pursuing a means to an end but always with a common goal in mind; how do I live well while serving others as a career? I had dabbled with pre-med and considered being an ob-gyn, I had worked on charities, raising awareness and funds for women’s advocacy groups, I nannied for a handful of incredible families whom I still hold near and dear to my heart, and the list goes on and into hospitality & events, fashion, interior design, administrative work, and public relations. New York always had open arms for me to fall into! I was super lucky…and exhausted.
There came a moment in time when everything stopped and I needed to look at the choices I was making on a daily basis. Who am I surrounding myself with? Are my habits leading me towards my dream life? How am I actually going to create the moments and spaces that I, my family and friends, and others truly flourish in? I had thus far lived a pretty epic life filled with fun jobs, travel, and incredibly interesting people to love and learn from. But now, it was time to get down to brass tacks.
I spent the next year decidedly single with a close girlfriend of mine (also single and on a similar mission), slurping up all the green juice, spinning our little hearts out, attending yoga workshops and retreats, reading, and being as basic as we possibly could. There was a ton of time for introspection, quality conversation, and growth. We took care of our minds, bodies, and souls as priority that year. And, low and behold, dramatic changes occurred.
I attended a small business expo and ran into an old friend who had become a doula. Enter lightbulb moment! “What is a doula?!”, I asked. And then, my world opened up to my future and dream life. It sounded incredible and totally meant for me. I went home and immediately watched “The Business of Being Born” by Ricki Lake (not a mistake – yes, the talk show host!) and started reading up on what a doula does, how to become one, and what this could mean for my life and others. I signed up for a training and thought if I liked it, I could always continue on with my education and become a midwife.
So, I attended my doula training at Birthday Presence in Soho in October 2015 under the guidance of world-renowned doula, Debra Pascali Bonaro. Little did I know, the random training I had signed up for would be led by such an incredible figure and leader in the birth world (more on her in another post!) I was so lucky that she fell into my life and opened me up to so many interesting insights that I had not known about before. Not only about birth, but my own body! I remember thinking I needed to send ALL of my girlfriends to a doula training before they had children. The sense of community, education about the natural, strong, and intelligent function of my body as a woman, and the feeling of understanding something that requires no language, but instead, careful observation – was life changing. I knew I had to keep going and learn more because if I could see this strength in myself and other women, I wanted everyone else to see and feel it too.
Now, I have personally experienced and seen the women I love in my life go through and handle varying degrees of stressors. I’ve seen hard work turn into victory as a team, the struggle of mental health disorders, the pain of death, the betrayal of abuse, and the painstaking effort to reach equality in the workforce and in the home. But, I had never before witnessed the incredible power and strength a woman finds in herself during birth. As a woman, doula, friend, and advocate, it is the most beautiful thing I have ever experienced, time and time again. Not that our lives do not give us many opportunities to find ourselves, but women FIND themselves in birth. You have to, you are forced to, and you are pressed to. Your body takes control and makes you own yourself as a force of nature, and if you don’t ride the waves gracefully, your body will get you there anyway. It’s an incredible display of power and surrender all at the same time.
See, I think sometimes in life we are met with challenges and are maybe not ready to face them. So, we let them slide and fall into what is comfortable until we are given another challenge, and maybe then, we will be ready to go deep, do the work, and show up for ourselves in the form of transformation. In birth, if you are not ready, your body will prove to you that you are. You are going to get there no matter what state of mind you are in; your body will show you that you were meant to do this and you CAN do this. And then, when you get to the other side and are in awe of yourself and your own body – it’s a powerful moment of realization. At least, that’s what I’ve noticed for the wonderful women I have had the honor to work alongside. The idea that even when something seems insurmountable, if you go deep enough within yourself, you can find the way.
And, this, is what I have found as a doula. It has been life-changing for me. I have always searched for growth and evolution in life – for myself, for my loved ones, and for the world around me. I have always had the goal of continuing to experiment with the expansion of myself spiritually, emotionally, physically, and everything in between. I want what I do every day to add value to those around me – I want to add and not subtract. And, really, isn’t that what we all desire? We want to add value to our own and others’ lives in our short time here together? And that’s what it is – it’s the recognition of and focus on the power that we have as individuals and the surrender to time and the inevitable. How can we use the cards that we have been dealt in our individual lives (that really are so intricately different), to maximize the enjoyment and well-being of each day and also benefit those in our lives, if not many more, if given the chance.
I feel I have been extremely lucky in life and I have a sense of responsibility to utilize it for the good of others. I have not, by any means, reached my potential but I will continue to strive to do so. Becoming a doula was that first moment of finding the quiet confidence within myself, while surrendering to my own limitations and still seeing possibility. It was the moment when I had finally found “my thing” and I knew it and felt it in my soul. It’s a feeling that I do not take for granted and feel lucky to have had. I wish for everyone to find something in their lives that makes them feel this way. And more so, I want all women that I work with to find that quiet (or not so quiet!) confidence within themselves to face the struggles and celebrations of life, knowing they can come out on the other side having done what feels good in their soul, what is true to them, and hopefully shed some grace and love on others along the way. I want women to find the ultimate version of themselves in life, love, home, career, and in any and every way that feels important to them – and that is unique to all. This is why I became a doula.