Friday, May 25, 2007

God in a picture # 1

For small group this past Wednesday we were asked to bring a piece of music, a picture, or something that spoke to us of how we see God at the moment. Not being able to choose one I collected a group of images of women and I thought I'd share a few of them, one at a time and tell you a little about each.
The image above, is by Jude Mooney, titled Avenne at the Cascades. It makes the hairs on my neck stand up. There are four elements of this picture that draw me to likening it to God. The first is of course the woman, swollen with child but let me list the other three to begin with...
Roots of the tree - old, ancient, and wizened; they look like they belong to the beginning of time.
Rocks - solid, unshakable, dependable.
Rushing water - constantly moving, wild, untamable; invitingly shallow but deep at the same moment.
.... and amidst all that sits a woman, quietly peaceful, soft and tender, bursting with new life. You can almost feel the richness of her body nourishing her baby, and see the mystery of the love forming inside her, sense her deeply connected to her child.
God's like that, she's like a woman, despite being wildly powerful, ancient and unmoving, she is love, deep relationship, life creating beauty.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Ducking back into the Red Tent


I need to re-vision
the blood
feel the blessing of eggs
washing away, lining cleansed
ready for new beginnings.

I need to see God as a woman
who bleeds.

excerpt of a poem by Jennifer Boire

The dull pulse in my back and pelvis woke me this morning at 4am. Slightly disoriented from disconnecting dreams, the dark curled around me and I lay foggy brained for a few minutes trying to piece together the feeling in my body. Familiarity of eight and a half years kicked in after a moment and I lay resting, thinking about blood being spilled on cue as always. The ache lacking it's usual fierceness, I stayed curled up in bed, pausing at my bleeding's beginning trying to remind myself to pause over it's duration.

I constantly feel pressure from outside to keep going as if nothing is happening when I bleed. Onwards, always onwards in linear fashion.

I do not feel linear.

It doesn't match my experience of my body, life, emotions, relationships or spirituality. Cyclic is my reality. The world rotates through it's seasons, the moon through it's waxing and waning, just as I circle around and around, and move through the stages of being female. Bleeding gets rid of the old and prepares for the new.... it is an introspective time. When I consciously make it an introspective time to match the rhythm of my body I find I have the opportunity for parts of myself heal to in all sorts of ways through letting go and accepting.

The actual reality of pausing can be difficult. I have an assignment this week that I will be working hard to complete, so it will not be low key. But it's not necessarily the physical slowing down that is important to me (though changing pace does help introspective processing) but the mental shift.

A few months ago I found a beautiful crimson ribbon which I wear wrapped around my wrist now every time I bleed... a visual reminder to reflect. I've started keeping a dream journal (which I write in all the time) but it is always more vivid leading up to menstruation and during bleeding. I simply write my dreams as I remember them and leave it as that. In the process of writing sometimes they make more sense. I write in my many other journals too. It's an open time on many levels. At least once I try make space to sit open before God to see what needs to be stripped away and see what needs to grow. What else? I drink more water and avoid caffeine. I light candles and snuggle with my hot-water bottle, and get fresh air. They're just things that I find work for me and help me pause.

I think it helps keep me sane. What do others do?

Friday, May 18, 2007

Going up the Mountain

Those elbows on the left would be Emily's (my little sis), mine are on the right, and yes the photo was taken up the mountain, Sassafras to be specific. I think I'm addicted to the place! Any excuse to drive up the winding road to either Kalorama, Kallista, Sassafras, Belgrave or Olinda and I'm in, usually with no questions asked. Hannah (the littlest sis) asked to go up with me this afternoon and unfortunately I had to pause and tell her that my answer pended on receiving an extension for my last assignment.... (For the sake of clarity, I didn't ask for an extension simply because I wanted to go up the mountain, I needed it because of another assignment on the back of this one which has taken up all my time!) As of one hour ago I'm happy to say the extensions been sorted. Olinda here we come!
Last time up there, I came across the pomegranates and also stumbled across some curry leaves. I've been hunting high and low for them since the curry night I had with Ana, Tim, Bec and Geoff in January when couldn't find them for a recipe I was planning to make. So last night I finally made Butternut Squash Curry which we ate with coconut rice and a good dollop of yogurt. Taste expectations were met. Mum commented on it looking like baby food, for which I think I'll forgive her because it certainly didn't taste like it. Definitly one to make again.
I think I'll have to superglue my wallet shut this afternoon, too many things call my name when I'm up there, though birthdays are coming up so my eyes will be peeled.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Ten Days Ago..

By Chrissy Butler

... it was the International Day of the Midwife. As it so happened I was on my last day of placement, and while thinking to post, never did but better late than never I suppose. Since 1991, May 5th has been Midwives Day, thanks to the influence of the International Confederation of Midwives.

It disappointed me that Saturday that the women's hospital I was placed in did nothing to celebrate or support the midwives working there. Zip. Nada. Nothing. It didn't surprise me though, for we are a lonely profession, a struggling profession, a political profession. Navelgazing Midwife wrote a very interesting post, which you can read here, about the reality of being a midwife.

As a student myself it did not make me afraid, but reminded me of the moments where I've tasted the edge of the experience she describes. It reminded me of the invigorating challenge of first year midwifery, the flurry of signing petitions and our small victory in getting ACU to change the faculty title from 'School of Nursing' to 'School of Nursing & Midwifery'. Many thanks goes to my fellow student Pippa for that!

Second year flew by with news of at least two hospital birth centres possibly closing in Melbourne. They closed. There was little movement on gaining professional indemnity insurance for midwives in independent practice. More petitions, more letters, more politics on placement.

Now it's third year and things have slowed down, or perhaps all of us students have grown tired (even fiery Pippa is tired). Reality's hit. When I graduate, while I will call myself a registered midwife, on paper I will be, "a registered nurse limited to practicing midwifery only." Some how in first year I thought three years would be all the time the ACMI and Maternity Coalition would need to encourage/pressure the Nurses Board of Victoria and the Health Department to change that... and still not yet!

Victoria, I have to give it to you, you really know how support the women who support all the pregnant and birthing women in this state! Get your act together!

My! Watching 'Bastard Boys' on ABC last night got my dreams going, and my anger hotted up.

Monday, May 14, 2007


By Carrie Goller
She had a nice smile, standing there behind the counter and rolls of tissue paper. "It's all French!" she said as I glanced around the shoppe full of crisp, simple linen, eggshell blue saucers, lavender soap, and an odd array of tap handles. Pausing and admiring I spoke to her, asking about the week. It had been busy, Mother's Day. I listened and looked then caught sight of the star like pucker and brown-pink blush of small, dried pomegranates filling one of her bowls from Lourmarin. Stopping mid sentence I picked one up, holding it gently, captivated by its simple beauty. Still looking I asked, "Are these decorations or for sale?" There was a pause and looking up I saw her eyes, like mine fixed on the dried pod in my hand. "Someone asks me that everyday," she said gently, "just decorations, they came off the tree in my sisters yard." Her gaze still played over the full bowl between us. I put the pomegranate down softly, wistful. They were hers, she was under their spell. Her eyes smiled at me and I left the bowl alone, content they were being cherished, glad to have held one. Buying some olive soap I left her at the counter. I think she knows I'll be daydreaming of pomegranates.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Just two things

.... that have made me pause this evening on the brink of Mother's Day. Check out the wall of photos and the poem, "Now That I Am Forever With Child" by Audre Lorde here from SouleMama, and then run over and read this proclamation shared by The Ashram.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

This Flesh

Let's begin by saying that there is nothing worse than realizing the picture used in the previous post really goes hand in hand with the topic about to be touched on in this post. Ah well, such is life and the little sketch above will just have to do, but if you're anything like me scroll down and have another look at the sketch from the post before, it's just exquisite, especially the nape of her neck and small of her back. The weight of her breast has been captured perfectly.

Despite the fact most of the time I am happy with my body I still occasionally have my little list of changeables: ankles could be slimmer, backside a little less lumpy, frown lines smoothed off the forehead, but the list use to be a much longer list! I hated my nose and my knees, my breasts were too little, stomach not flat enough, and I wanted anything but straight hair. It's only been recently that I noticed the list decreasing in size.... and it's not because anything has changed physically. My nose is still my nose except now its been pierced, knees as they always were, breasts still fit the same bra (I would never wish them bigger), my stomach was actually flatter when the list was originally made compared to now, and my hair will never ever need a straightener.

So the list is shorter and the occasions I think about the items left on it are few and far between. I can only link my list shrinkage logically to one thing, and that is the fact I have seen a lot of naked women being a student midwife! Each body has been different, but beautiful in its own way. Belly buttons grace every stomach whatever way they can, breasts are never symmetrical, come in all sizes and hang differently from every woman's chest. Nipples are unique too when it comes to colour and shape. Fat can exist on any imaginable part of the body... I've seen some beautiful fat. Cellulite never surprises me anymore. Legs are long, short, hairy and smooth, with slim and chunky ankles.

Bodies tell stories, say that we live a physical life, hold scars and marks reminding us of what has passed. The pale, spider-web, stretch marks on my hips appeared when I began to grow. It makes me laugh when I remember how Mum told me I had good CBH's (Child Bearing Hips) and my sisters all snickered at the thought. The fine red and purple veins on my thighs and calves remind me that my youngest sister and I share them in common. The scar under my lip marks the time I bit right through it playing a blindfold game. I'm sure a lot of other marks will make their way onto my body in time. Shape of a Mother has given me a fair clue when it comes to reality.

I'm amazed at the impact my physical body has over how I perceive myself, how parts of my body make me feel very "me". I would feel very lost if I ever had a breast or both breasts removed. Having a hysterectomy even if I had previously given birth to children and was in later life would definitely be a grieving process for me, more so than loosing a limb. Studying female genital mutilation last year was almost unbearable at times!

While we are not just our bodies, our body is a part of ourselves. These last two years my body has remained pretty much the same, no more growing, no more changing, very little weight fluctuation... the next time it changes in any large degree will most likely be the first time I fall pregnant. I guess our bodies go through chapters, really. About nine months ago I finally woke up to the new chapter my body was in, the chapter of being just fully grown without the marks of childbearing. Catching a glimpse of myself in the full length mirror I realized suddenly that the little girl was long gone, and so was the awkward, constantly changing teenager, a woman had somehow come out of my body. The moment was a little somber, definitely mysterious, and quite breath catching. In a silly sort of amazement I just looked and spent some time coming to grips with the fact that "she" was "me".

It is good.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


By Annete Vanderspuy
When ever I've been away from blogging for any length of time I never know weather I should launch into my thoughts or give a bit of a summary of what has passed. So, to condense placement into a few short sentences I will say it was draining, the staff more welcoming than last time, nights were great for births but played havoc with my mental and emotional state, I felt like a 3rd year student with more responsibility and capability, accoucheured 11 births, saw two caesarean sections, attended 3 ventouse births, cared for a woman with really bad Pre- ecclampsia, took blood...... and was completely incapable of doing any study for my online units while at hospital for 5 days a week. If I wasn't at hospital, or driving to or from hospital, I was either sleeping (didn't know how much I loved my sleep until I missed a whole lot of it!), eating or meeting up with friends to remind myself the world was actually continuing on.
But besides being a wreck most of the time I did rather enjoy it, and to prove that life did continue on in these last four weeks:
  • I managed to get to some of Soul Survivor on the Saturday and Sunday, and it turned out to be a rather life shaping day/night (as was the week following). Hmmmm how ambiguous can I be!? Michael Leunig says it perfectly ~

Dear God

We loosen our grip.

We open our hand.

We are accepting.

In our empty hand

We feel the shape

Of simple eternity.

It nestles there.

We hold it gently.

We are accepting.


  • The 21st birthday bash happened on the 19th of April and turned out more perfectly than I'd even expected! Good food, fairy lights, candles, fire brassier in the back yard, lovely friends, some fire twirling, David Grey playing in the background and only a few embarrassing photos.

  • Bec got engaged to her Geoff and then asked me to be her bridesmaid! Ana, Elyce and I plan to be the most gorgeous bridesmaids ever... I think we'll be wearing green. January 08 please come quickly.

So yes.... life continues on rapidly, and I've managed to clean my room which means I can sit down and study properly without any visual clutter getting in my way.