Doula life and birth stories

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Tough and Tender

 I can't take a photograph that can capture the beauty of the hide I'm working on today.  I've tried!  I've photographed it from every angle, and in  different lights, but my camera can't quite capture  the qualities that my eyes can appreciate and my  hands can feel.

 Before I begin to cut into this, I take time to look at  it, study it as a whole, its wrinkles, the smooth  dense grain, the little scars where the skin was  healing from little cuts and bites from insects.

 This is full-grain vegetable tanned Italian leather.  The finish on this makes it unique, different from the  leathers we encounter usually.  This skin is tender.  It  marks when it's knocked or scraped, so I treat it  gently and carefully whilst it's in my care.

 I also treat it, on the inside and out, with two different leather-care products, buffing and shining it in between each.  I gently round the edges of my journal covers, and burnish them.

When someone buys a Jil Wild journal cover, the leather has already seen some of life, received some love, and been carefully prepared for the next stage of its life, with it's new companion.  If that's you, you will straight away begin to add to the story of this life, with records of your life together.  Not just the notebooks that you write in on the inside, but the little scrapes and scratches and marks you put into the outside, as you live with it. And they will fade and change and blend as time goes on.  The natural oils from your hands will add patina and shine, and some of your unique self.

I love this leather.  It's tough and tender.  It will last a lifetime, but it will mark everyday. I love these little scars. Scars are life, age, hurt, healing, story, riches, whole, beauty.


Using my own Minidori to measure out sizes. Chunky little monkey.

Keyring Microdori


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Friday, 24 June 2016

Summer breakfast



Figs, yoghurt and honey...a marriage made in heaven!

Such a simple summer breakfast, and a really healthy treat too.  I add some raisins and cinnamon to my thick, full fat home made yoghurt, and I buy locally made honey.

I started buying local honey when I began to suffer with hayfever for the first time in my life about 10 years ago.  I couldn't believe how debilitating and miserable an allergy hayfever could be; just like suffering a season-long cold. I tried anti-histamines and found the drowsiness even worse than my hayfever symptoms. Then I heard about using locally made honey to help with pollen allergies.

  It is thought that as bees local to you are using local pollen to make their honey, there may be a desensitising affect on allergy symptoms.  Over a period of three summers, my symptoms have definitely improved, and I really enjoy eating the honey in a variety of different dishes and drinks.
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Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Marinated Kale with Bean stew


Two of my favourite things together!  The bean stew is a variation on one of my staple 'red stews' based on an Italian pomodoro sauce, using either fresh tomatoes (which I chuck into a pan whole, fry for a second or two before adding boiling water and then once the tomatoes have broken down into the water, I grate some raw garlic and add seasoning)  or tomato puree, water, garlic and seasoning.  This time I've sweated chopped onions and yellow peppers in olive oil first, and added black eye beans and some cooked spelt grains, barley, Thaibonnet rice, and oats.  I've also added whole fennel seeds, and dried mixed herbs.

 The marinated kale is a new addition to my repertoire and I'm absolutely loving it for snacking or with meals. You can enjoy the benefits of raw kale without having to juice it, or crunch through the tough cell walls, (I find eating raw kale most unappetising and frankly, jolly hard work) because the marinate breaks it down and makes the taste and texture different, and really delicious.  I learned this tip from visiting a birth client in the post natal period.  I had arrived bearing some vegetarian samosas, and these lovely people and their beautiful little boy were just about to sit down to a vegan meal whilst their new baby daughter slept.  Various friends had contributed vegan dishes to this meal that I was so honoured to share with them.  Baby's dad had prepared the kale, using lemon juice and olive oil as a marinate, and smooshing the resulting mixture with his hands periodically to help break down the tough leaf.  The result was divine!  I like to leave it for around 6 hours, smooshing it with my hands a few times to help tenderise the leaves.

For the kale:

  • 300g of Fresh Kale
  • Juice of one lemon
  • tablespoon of olive oil
For the bean stew:

  • small tin tomato puree
  • one onion, chopped
  • one yellow pepper, sliced
  • one clove of garlic, grated
  • teaspoon fennel seeds
  • teaspoon mixed herbs
  • tin black eye beans
  • 125g cooked mixed grains
  • 200ml boiling water
These positively benefit from being prepared in advance.  The kale breaks down and softens over time and the bean stew flavours intensify in the fridge.  When you need food fast but don't want to reach for unhealthy fast food, having these waiting in the fridge for you is a real treat.



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Tuesday, 14 June 2016

I'm nearly there!!



I'm nearly there!!!

Goddess willing I will soon be a recognised birth doula with Doula UK and a reflexologist with a VTCT level 3 Diploma.  It's been a long, hard road.

I am re-doing my reflexology diploma because my original one wasn't a qualification that was recognised by the organisation I wanted to undergo my further training in Maternity Reflexology with.  So last year I began at the beginning again, and spent my weekends at college on Saturdays and at my desk doing homework on Sundays.  During that time I was able to do my specialised training in Fertility and Maternity reflexology in London, and now I have just 9 days to go before I submit my final work for marking.

The doula journey has been a little harder than that.  I had supported births before training in 2011, and thoroughly enjoyed my course with Nurturing Birth. I began connecting with local doulas, building my website, and kick-starting my new business.  The training course, reflective work which follows it and securing a Doula Mentor is just the beginning of a doula's apprenticeship.  I studied further areas of birth, qualified as a placenta specialist and breastfeeding peer supporter, and began working with mothers and babies.  But the birth doula work stalled badly, and I plunged into a dark period of paralysing fear.  I became ill.  First with shingles, then with endometrial hyperplasia.  I spent days in bed with torrential bleeding, and I read books which made me realise that the reason I was struggling was that I needed to come to terms with my early life, and let some stuff go.  I had surgery, and the recovery encompassed a long period of deep reflection.

Recovering from surgery, I re-read 'A Midwife's Story' by Penny Armstrong.  It reminded me of my original love of birth, and desire to work as a doula.  8 weeks before surgery, I had doulaed for my daughter, and a mere 10 weeks after it I was doulaing for a friend.  It took a further two years of working on my demons, healing my past, and sheer determination before I finally made a conscious intention to welcome birth clients back into my life, and the doula sisters who would be by my side.

When I saw this little fellow inching his way slowly across the road in front of me, I had to photograph his beautiful shell.  After that I picked him gently up and carried him over to the grass he was headed for, because it's nice to be able to do that, and so wonderful when someone does the same for you.
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Thursday, 9 June 2016

Creative day!



Another package winging its way out into the world!
I love receiving parcels through the post myself, so its lovely to think that someone will be opening this in a few days time, excited to begin writing in their new journal.
Happy Days! :-)
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