Wednesday, July 21, 2010 [em-pou-er] (verb-used with object)

Empower- It's a strong word. It's a word that commands that I straighten my spine and look people in the eyes when I speak it.

A good friend of mine is staying with me this week while she is in school learning to teach English to non native speakers, and so I have been thinking about language and words. Empower- this word in particular has been on my mind lately as I move through life.

I have not been as active as I would like to be as of late, partially out of pure laziness and partially out of a general lack of knowing where to go and what to do in this new, sometimes overwhelming, always exciting city environment. But I found a bikram yoga studio not far from my house that offers an awesome new student discount, so I built up some motivation and showed up for class yesterday, and my, how empowering! For a full 90 minutes my mind could think of nothing but holding the pose, breathing, my focal point, and there was no avoiding the rhythmic thumping of my heart bringing oxygen and nutrients to every cell of my body. As I lay in Shavasana at the end of the 90 minutes, manifesting the most forefront thoughts in my brain: a quick and beautiful birth for my client and the perfect living situation for myself and my roommates, I felt truly empowered. This is the feeling that goes with the word, I thought. This is why our business is Empowered Birth Doulas. This is what I want my clients to feel during and after birth. In fact, this is what we live for- to be empowered! Haha, ok, it sounds rather extravagant now, but it is so true. We live for those moments when we feel our deepest strength and we see what we are capable of. When we are empowered we are confident, we exude strength, and other recognize it.

To empower is to give power or authority to, or to enable. We can empower others and we can empower ourselves, and often we empower others by empowering ourselves. Certain acts can be empowering, especially ones that are difficult. In fact, difficulty and empowerment seem to go hand in hand. We can empower through education, action, and choice. Empowerment does not happen, it is something that comes to us after some very hard work.

I am intrigued by what empowers each of us, and how different people are empowered in different ways and by different experiences. For example, depending on your own life experiences, your decision to receive an epidural in childbirth could be the most empowering decision of your life, while another woman's choice to have a natural childbirth could be equally empowering to her.

So what is it that empowers you, and why? (I ask myself)

To be empowered we have to be open, to be aware of what we believe and to what feeds our souls. I love the potential for empowerment through birth, and I think this is one of the main reasons I was initially attracted to doula work: to empower women. Actually, empowering women in something that I think I will be striving to do for the rest of my life, on a global and local level, through birth and any other means I can. Empowering others is Empowering!

Ultimately, I feel a passion to empower women because I believe in and feel connected to the importance and sacredness of Women's work- to our communities and to the future of our planet. I truly believe that, as Agnes Sallet Von Tannenberg wrote, "If we are to heal the planet, we must begin by healing birth".

And so, Emily and I continue to do our part to heal the planet, one Empowered birth at a time!

Empower: (Em=before, Power= strength, power) to invoke power.