Walking back in time

Spaces offer too much time for reflection

Of times past

When edges were clear

And cut to the core

A home, no longer a home

Now childhood near

Fathers gone

Husbands a mirage

phones rang on holiday’s past

With tears and cries

Trying to forget
Losses and trials

Offering  growth and grace

Or so we tell ourselves

I tell myself

What’s he best choice

For what we do not choose
Now here we wander

No plan or place

Homeless, childless, jobless

All identity stripped away

And you ask what I want-
To be loved and cherished

Wanted and desired

Ah, but that is not

What you are asking

Today, this moment

I want memories here

To wash away pasts

And create a new one
To find myself in my past

Running away

But always finding myself back

Trying to work out

Losses and trials

I never chose


There is part of me that whenever I find myself in a new space like last year at school or now at WHO, surrounded by these amazing people, I feel like a fake. My confidence falters and I wonder if I have anything to offer. I’m stubborn enough that I open my mouth, and still I wonder- did they all know this already? Clearly I’m so naive, I’m just stating the obvious. And I continue to feel foolish.

This time I’ve been blessed by amazing midwives. And like an amazing midwife, they encourage my birth. Supporting my tentative questions with generous statements like, “those were good questions”. So often I wonder what did I do to deserve such kind and amazing people and opportunities in my life? How blessed I feel. 

I wonder at times if it’s a female thing, this imposter syndrome. But I’m reminded this week that everyone faces power inequities in life and struggle for significance- to themselves and those around them. 

global health

What a wonderful day.  First, I have been so blessed with this amazing weather the last few days.  Second, I have been so lucky with all the amazing people I have met!  Yesterday I met Kathleen Hill (of the RMC Landscape report) and Peter Johnson from Jhpiego (of the Effective Inservice Training report) .  There are so many amazing people here.  Last night Fran and Peter and I had dinner and after I spoke at length with Peter about capacity building.  What insights.  He spoke of technique, timing, location and media as being important for interventions and monitoring and assessment being key to capacity building.  It was brilliant.  Kathleen and I had a coffee today and she spoke about not getting to lost in gender inequality- yes, there is a gender inequality gap, but there is also poverty, education etc.  I agree with her. men need to be addressed as well, all of humanity has a right to respectful and compassionate care, but I guess my heart will always be with women and the inequality they experience.  If there is poverty- they feel it deeper, if there is lack of education, they experience it to a greater degree.

I haven’t had a chance to do much writing yet- just a short note for the WHO newsletter about ICM and a flyer for ICM, but I am trying to get myself prepared- thinking about, vocabulary, style, organization and presentation.

I miss being able to talk to my family, but the enforced quiet nights are also very liberating.  Although I am looking forward to Paris this weekend.  🙂


My first full day in Geneva and I am smitten.  There is a sense of thinking about others when you are surrounded by organizations such as the UN, the HCRC, and WHO.  Part of it is the culture in Europe.  Even trash is dealt with in a way that take effort- separate out everything, recycle and compost.  Working for the greater good takes some effort, but no one says a word, it is just what you do.  Oh I know everything is not perfect, it never is, but its prioritizing things that take effort that impress me.

I am working on a few large projects: A survey of evidence for midwifery education around the globe (with a rapid systematic review of current evidence.  Preparing for the research meeting prior to the ICM- prioritizing research for midwifery.  And the Essential Childbirth Care Course- haven’t heard much about that one yet.  I love working with so many people who really take their job seriously.

Looking forward to tomorrow!

An uncomfortable mother

I have always believed there is a value in making oneself feel a bit uncomfortable.  I find I learn so much about myself and life when I am not afraid to be a bit uncomfortable.  As a child, fresh out of the pool, heading home in my mom’s 1979 VW bug, the seats were so hot we had to sit on our towels.  But the air, the air in the closed car was like a wall of heat.  I remember sitting and slowly breathing it into my lungs, feeling the air molecules as they. went deeper into my body.  It was an amazing experience feeling the air so clearly because of its heat.  Other kids would complain, but I sort of relished it.

When my kids were little I ffirst heard of mom’s not believing in vaccination.  At first I was appalled and enjoyed that sense of self righteousness that goes along with little like life experience.  Then a few months later I came across an article about vaccines, this was back in the days of the original DPT shot, before they revised it.  IT spoke of the very rare, but nevertheless serious side efffects.  At first I quickly turned passed the page, but then later found myself drawn to the feeling of being uncomfortable with something and knowing it meant I had something more to learn.  SO I read it.  Through the years I have thought a lot about that day.  It opened my mind to so much.  In the end I didnt change my mind much when it came to vaccines, but I did discover integrative medicine, organic (back in the late 80’s and early 90s) and, my passion, herbal medicine,

And now, I am back in school.  Racking up a healthy student loan debit, and pushing my tired brain, so comfortable with its way of life that it often fights me and the changes I am imposing on it.  And to be honest, I am afraid.  I am afraid I dont know enough, I am not thin enough, I wont speak well enough or write clearly enough.  ANd of course I am stubborn and am very passionate and way too earnest- all of which can cause problems when you are trying to come off as a professional who is calm, controlled and competent.

SO I am heading to make myself more uncomfortable.  As I held my baby girl in my arms, her baby bulging, straining to make it presence here in just 6 wks, I almost cried.  I wanted to cry because I am scared, because I want to hold her as she pushes this baby out and because I want to push myself out.  We are all in the process of creating ourselves, yet this feels significant.  I feel. So uncomfortable, so out of my comepetency zone, so alone in the end, that I must push myself for out.

Dear Leo, be kind, gentle and quick.  Sweet lovely little girl/mamma, forgive your mother’s wandering ways. My heart aches to be with you and to find where my path is leading.  They bath matter so very much to me.  Please know how desperately difficult this was and how I left part of myself with you.

I’m not sure where this path is taking me…

I’m not sure where this path goes. Actually I suppose we really never know. But it felt like I knew what path I was in before. Is that because I was following the approved path for me?  I feel like everything has become a possibility for me. Wandering off the standard path, my children grown, suddenly free, renting my home, selling my car, quitting my job- and now, done with my first year of doctoral school. It can be rather dizzying actually.

This summer I am heading to Geneva to do my summer practicum with WHO. I m so excited and have so many questions- what do they do? Will I have anything to offer?  What will the General Health Assembly be like?  What about ICM?  Can I offer any impact for birth centers and midwives? At that start of grad school there were moments I wondered what I was doing.  Yes, I love catching babies and I know what I am going and I felt confident.  Suddenly I was like a freshman in college, doe eyed, a bit lost and knowing absolutely nothing.  My classmates, although clearly very much younger then I was, seemed to know so very much.  There was a new language- M&E, outcomes, behavioral change objectives, cohorts, causality, linear regression, vectors…I found it fascinating and at the same time felt I was nevver going to grasp this new world.  I was so used to being competent and suddenly I was a novice, but a really old one.  What had I done?

I knew for certian, I wasnt going back.  I didn’t want to go bac to that life.  It was a good life.  I really loved it while I believed in that path.  But suddenly the world was possible, and I wanted to expolore it all…so, here I go.

Grad school blues

Attempting to figure out what I can actually do, and what I do really terribly, seems to be the point of grad school.

I have this problem. First, I am curious and get excited and passionate about learning. Learning anything. And I somehow have this crazy belief that most of the things we do in life are intuitive.  Or if not, I just follow the recipe or directions. I can bake a cake, so I can put in a new electrical panel. I can make a fancy cake, so I can take intermediate epidemiology. Um, no.

Then life in grad school becomes a series of days I am just disappointing myself over and over until I am no longer sure why I am here or if I am good at anything at all.

And it feels very lonely. I came here because my life was turned upside down, because I was devastated, and I wanted a new life I was in charge of. Because I thought my heart was broken, but instead I found out my expectations were let down and my heart was free to live and love and be who I am.  Because I want to do global work. Because I love working on respect and compassion and with midwives.

But I’ve always felt like an outsider- and now I’m a 49yo woman going to college. So I list what I am good at:
Explaining things, being passionate, seeing connections between things, the larger concepts at the core of someone’s argument, and education. Oh yea, and catching babies 🙂

Will that be enough?