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Essentials I carry

June 13, 2016

When I first began my doula practice, I put a lot of effort into assembling what came to be know as the Mary Poppins bag that I carried to births (Remember the scene in the movie when they show the kids faces as she pulls a lamp out of her carpet bag?). My spoonful of sugar included: nauseau bands, a variety of massage tools (from the orgasmatron head tickler to a baker’s rolling pin), honey sticks, rehydration salts, heating pad, ice pack and fan among the treasures to be found. I invested in a set of high quality essential oils for aromatherapy. I then added tools that required learning new skills, such as a TENS unit, homeopathy kit and Mexican scarf called a Rebozo.

The bag become something to be added to and it’s weight, representative of what I had to offer. For home visits, I additionally delivered hand mixed herbs to make a postpartum sitz bath tea to soothe new mamas, a Moby wrap sling to teach moms how to wear their babies and samples of teas, healing salves and breastfeeding videos to loan.

Acquiring these items was mostly fun and I enjoyed learning different applications, as well as sharing with my clients. What I carried became proof of my attention to detail and interest in beauty, feeding the senses and home remedies. Mixing the herbs and cultivating tools fed my creativity. And I loved going the extra mile for my clients.

At a certain point, my bag began to cut into my shoulder and I was limping under it’s weight. I could no longer bike or walk to visit clients who lived nearby. So, I decided it was time to get a bag on wheels or a small suitcase, as I had seen other doulas with. Then, I had the realization that all this stuff was actually holding me back. I did not need these things. My clients did not hire me because of what I carried. Anyone could purchase a massage tool.

Instead of trying to accommodate more stuff, I began to scale back. I let go of three quarters of my bag contents. Then, I refilled it halfway with things that fed me: food, supplements to support my system when awake all night, a change of clothes, travel size of my favorite toiletries. It turned out that taking care of myself and carrying less helped me to be even more present and emphasize what matters most: compassion, encouragement, reassurance. The tools I was free to develop and rely on became intuition, hands, heart and voice. And I bring these with me wherever I go now and whatever I do (plus cell phone, ID and keys).

Stuff is nice as long as it is not weighing you down or becoming a crutch, but it’s not essential.

Now, about you. What’s weighing you down? What does your stuff prove about you? If you pared down, what’s left that is essential? Who would you get to be without all the stuff? What does clearing out make space for in your practice? in your life? Recall that Mary Poppins remained light enough to fly.

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