A disclaimer—I used to think I lacked ambition. My life decisions were rarely well thought out nor did they make financial sense. Au contraire. Instead, I seemed drawn to the path of following the crumbs. Still am. Watching where doors open and then walking through them to check it out. Sometimes it was simple, a little door. A poster on a bulletin board, a phone call, a chance meeting or an article would send me searching. Often it was just a stirring, a subtle, unsettled feeling, enticing me beyond my comfort zones. Regardless… if I felt resonance and passion, I would pursue it, responding with full throttle. If not, I wouldn’t. Couldn’t. Not one bit. And that’s basically it—the fundamental compass point that has guided and served me in life so far.
Currently, I am immersed in the work of death and dying. It was a conscious choice. Being a hospice nurse was at the top of my bucket list for decades, and I have worked in that capacity for the last few years. Now as I approach my seventh decade, another door seems to be opening, or should I say re-opening—nudged by my hospice work and my daily contemplations on the certainty of impermanence, not knowing when I will breathe out and not breathe in again, and… when that day comes, will I die with any unfinished business, any regrets?
I had never kept a diary or a journal growing up. I just never wanted to write. Then in 2008, when I was living at an international Tibetan Buddhist Retreat Center, a raging forest fire threatened to burn it to the ground. It was my job to crank out daily fire updates, sending emails to people around the world—describing what we were experiencing in the midst of the drama and chronicling the valiant efforts of the firefighters who ended up saving that sacred place. In doing so, I found through the reflections of others, that I was a storyteller with an emerging voice.
Later, in 2010, during a trip to England, I came across the book, “Call The Midwife” (now an acclaimed PBS series with the BBC) in a little wooden rack outside a shop in Hampstead Heath. I devoured it. The author lamented in her forward the lack of midwife stories in the world. She’s right, I thought. I have stories to tell. So pushing past deep trepidations, my first blog, Musings of a Mountain Midwife, was born. For the next nine months, I wrote story after story of women giving birth in the remote mountains of Northern California.
And now, two and a half years later, a deep desire to write again has resurfaced. I realize that this is still incomplete business for me. I entertain doubts. I think constantly about my motivation, wondering if I really have anything to say. Most importantly, I write this for my two grandchildren. I am part of their lineage—someone who followed her passions, pushed edges, and led a rich, full, responsive life, even if it wasn’t always tidy. I want them to know this. I also hope that whoever reads this will find some benefit in what I am able to share. Onward.