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- Women and their Words

Last Updated: 9/29/2012

The other day, my friend, Gena Kirby posted this picture of Marilyn Monroe and Ella Fitzgerald on her facebook. A simple black and white photo that had me thinking all day long. In the 50's because of the great racial tensions, many African-American musicians faced adversity and were treated as substandard, being arrested without reason, and having to enter through the back of the building at hotels, clubs and other venues. They were also limited to small nightclubs and restaurants. One woman went against the social grain and went out on a limb for her friend.

The story behind the photo is quite inspiring. Ella herself tells the story: "I owe Marilyn Monroe a real debt … she personally called the owner of the Mocambo, and told him she wanted me booked immediately, and if he would do it, she would take a front table every night. She told him – and it was true, due to Marilyn’s superstar status – that the press would go wild. The owner said yes, and Marilyn was there, front table, every night. The press went overboard. After that, I never had to play a small jazz club again. She was an unusual woman – a little ahead of her times. And she didn’t know it.

And then Gena posted: "Women, stop being mean to one another, we only have one another and in particular I am talking to birth workers. Love one another. How can you say you love women if you do not love ALL women? Please stop anything you are doing that is not loving! This includes gossip: "Be impeccable with your word: Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love." I hope we can all go out there and love on those mommies that honored us with their decision to allow us to share in their miracle , and then share that SAME love with our sisters!"

I thought about Gloria LeMay's class, Bullying and Blacklisting in the Birth Community. Gloria talked about how mean women can be. Some of the things we do to each other are: "innuendo, verbal affront, undermining, withholding information, sabotage, infighting, scape-goating, backstabbing, failing to respect privacy and breaking confidences, gossiping, exclusion, eye-rolling, silence, and humiliation."

I have been on the receiving end of both bullying AND blacklisting in midwifery and it's worse in adulthood than it was in high school. You expect more from adults. You also expect that adults will deal in reality and truth instead of hearsay and fabricated information. Let me just say...."NOT SO MUCH". But, as my husband likes to say, "It is what it is." and at the end of the day what matters is truth. It doesn't really matter what things people say about you, as long as YOU know the truth and those that are close to you believe in you. One certainty is that you cannot control what people say about you. No matter what you do or say, they still have the freedom to say whatever they want to, whether it be true or not. In the end, truth will come out and truth will prevail. I've seen it happen, time and time again. It is oh-so-hard to rest in that fact when you are told particular people continuously tell lies and make up stories about you. You can only make it so that when YOU look in the mirror at night, you have been true to yourself.

Many people have lately been up in arms about a new feature of Timeline on Facebook. It is apparently showing all of our private messages for public perusal. Even though some people say it isn't true... there has been quite a bit of panic due to wondering what we may have said in private and who is now going to have access to it. It should be a real wake-up call as far as evaluating what we say and to whom. In talking about this issue with another midwife friend, she said something that really hit home. She said something to the effect of "that is why I don't usually allow myself to be videotaped when I'm lecturing, I can't be trusted."

Can anyone really say that they can ALWAYS be trusted? HAVE YOU NEVER shared someone else's confidence? Have you never told something to even your very best friend? Have you NEVER done ANYTHING to hurt another friend? I know I have, more than once. I'm certainly not proud of that fact and I work hard NOT to do it. I would not knowingly hurt another person with my words. Yet, quite recently I posted something in a very small (4 people) private group on facebook that was a group with a Life Coach for dealing with life issues that have us stuck. It was about a situation I was dealing with and I was very angry with this person and I spouted off some things about one situation in anger because of another situation. The problem WAS that I posted it in the wrong group and instead in a group of which this person was a part. I did immediately try to deal with the effects, deleting the post and making a confession to the person, but quite a bit of damage was done. Other people were hurt in the crossfire. I was so angry with myself, humiliated and ashamed. I spent several days crying continually and felt an inability to move forward. It wasn't something I did on purpose. However, it's like I've often told my children..."it doesn't really matter if you break something on purpose or not, it's still broken....and somebody has to either fix it, or pay for it to be fixed."

In walking through the aftermath, the Life Coach, Christy Farr, asked me, "What do you fear that this incident means about you? What are the feelings it has pulled up?" In coming up with the answer I realized I felt like "one of THEM" you know, the MEAN girls. The ones who hurt people without regard to how they feel or the fact that they are humans with feelings of their own. I don't WANT to be THAT person, I never want to be THAT person. I didn't think I WAS that person. It was incredibly painful to realize yes, I could be that person and in fact in this situation....I AM that person. Other people assured me that we all make mistakes, it's part of the human condition. Nobody is perfect. The Lord uses everything together for our good if we allow Him access. Even though what I did was accidental, I have the capacity, just like everyone else, of doing it on purpose. As Gloria said, "If you think you're not mean, just ask your husband!" Ok, ouch! Not going THERE!

So today, I want to showcase some women that have been helpful to me lately and an inspiration in my midwifery journey. I already touched on Gena Kirby, with her incredible gift of inspiration. She teaches awesome classes on use of the Rebozo. I learned many tips/tricks for use during labor and birth. She can be found HERE. Listen to her radio show HERE: Gena was one of my initial connections to the Life Coaching group. Gloria LeMay, she is an invaluable mentor to me, sharing her knowledge and experience. She teaches midwifery classes online. They are well worth the investment of time, energy and finances. She is honest to a fault, sharing her own trials and shortcomings. She is humble and the first to admit she has not arrived yet, and encourages a life-long learning attitude/spirit in her students. You can find her HERE. Christy Farr, does life coaching through Seeds & Weeds. She is not necessarily midwifery-related but there is a group for Birth Professionals and she has experience with birth work.

Then there is Carla Hartley, the founder and director of Ancient Art Midwifery, the midwifery school I graduated from in April 2012. She has invested blood, sweat, tears, prayer, many sleepless nights on behalf of her family, her students, her friends, and most importantly all of the mother/babies out there. She also has invested countless hours on me personally, which I could never repay and will never forget. You can find her school HERE or the Trust Birth Initiative HERE: and I highly recommend them both.

As a matter of cultivating thankfulness and admiration and rejecting the "mean-girl" mentality, I am going to regularly showcase someone whom I admire and want to be like. Today I've chosen someone who has an incredible servant's heart. Every time I see her, she's serving others....from teaching in her homeschool co-op, to driving her children here and there, to helping fellow midwifery students, to serving women through the ICAN network and other birth-centered organizations and communities. She was my other initial connection to the Life Coaching group and she has encouraged incredible growth and introspection into my life/heart. If you don't know her, you should! She's not afraid to go up against the "big boys" either.

As seen below at the NIH VBAC Conference in March 2010, here is Shannon Mitchell, Director of BirthAction.org....my friend. She's fighting tirelessly and quite eloquently for the women in Fla (and around the world) who do not have the ability to VBAC in certain hospitals because of hospital policy, which is against a woman's basic human right to bodily autonomy.  She's who I wanna be like when I grow up! Thank you for your work for women, for mothers and babies, and for birth workers as well.


 

Who is to you like Marilyn Monroe was to Ella Fitzgerald?  Who encourages YOU to go for the gold, to be all you can be?  Who is the first one to put out a hand to help you up when you fall?  Instead of being judgmental and critical look for someone to build up.  Who might that be?    NEVERMIND the mean girls....whom do YOU admire?  

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