Saturday, May 23, 2015

Scholarships Awarded for APPPAH's Pre-Natal and Peri-Natal Educator (PPNE) Certificate Program

I fell in love with the idea of prayer flags when I first saw them. In my understanding prayer flags are blessed to promote peace, compassion, strength, and wisdom and then they are hung so that as the wind blows through them, they will spread these blessings across the land to benefit all.

I founded BirthPower because I believe that supporting, protecting and nurturing mothers and babies during the beginning of life are the key to the better society we all yearn for.  Love, compassion, the ability to form connections, empathy, health and wellness are all influenced during this important time and thus so the whole of humanity is influenced. Another reason I have created BirthPower is that that I believe that birthworkers, along with those who support, nurture, and heal the family, should be lifted and supported- and they should also prosper while doing their good in the world.

Our world will flourish when all human beings are prosperous, connected, and they understand how to connect to their own inner guidance systems. The blueprint for this is laid out during the primal period, which begins at preconception and extends to around age 1 or toddler hood.

To this end, I have made available two scholarships from the Pre-Natal and Peri-Natal Educator (PPNE) CertificateProgram from the Association of Pre and Perinatal Psychology and Health (APPPAH)
to be awarded through a partnership with BirthPower for two deserving birthworkers. 

I believe that when we support others who are doing good work in the world, we support our own selves by sending out an energetic a “YES!” to the creation of a world that we want to live in.
These bright shining stars, these luminaries, are already, “something special” and I have observed that they live life marching to the beat of a different drummer.  I have no doubt that whatever they learn from the APPPAH certificate program will be integrated into their own important work, and their communities will be exponentially blessed. 

The two BirthPower  Luminaries are:
Samsarah Morgan, DD (Founder & Director at Nia Center for Birth and Family Life) Oakland

Dr Samsarah Morgan, shining a light!

Shift Groundwalker – Doula in training

Shift giving heart and hands to the service of the 
Birthkeeper Summit

Saturday, May 16, 2015

4 Powerful Ideas, by 4 Powerful Women- for Birth Power Week

Because Birth Power Week is taking place starting May 15, 2016, I was looking for ways to inspire action on a favorite theme of mine: honoring and supporting woman who are making a difference in the world. I was scanning through the Clinton Foundation’s website and I was delighted to find an article highlighting “…inspiring woman who are working around the world to make a difference,” so I was inspired to share about some of the women I have met who are using powerful and exciting ideas to transform society.

I hope this will inspire you to share your own this week!

1. Eramithe Delva, A whistle.
After the earthquake in Haiti in 2010, many people were displaced from their homes and came to live in camps. These camps were overrun with people and violence was rampant because the police would not enter the camps. Woman were being raped and assaulted daily and no police or governmental official would help.

But Eramithe had an idea- she gave every woman a whistle! She told each woman to blow the whistle if she were attacked or in danger, and the community would show up.

It worked! The community responded and the numbers rape cases went from 40 per month to just 3.

This feat raised the attention of the media, and as a result it gained international attention  which forced the local government to become involved in making the camps safer for all.

The idea: How can we “show up” for others when they blow a whistle in our own communities and the world? What would happen if we did?

2. Julie Gerland, Maternal Empowerment.
Inspired by the book, “Education Begins Before Birth” by Omraam Mikhaël, Julie came across an idea that drives her life: within each pregnant mother lies the key to peace, health and ultimately the sustainability of the planet.

She found that years of science shows us that the ability to love and trust as well as emotional and physical health are influenced by what happens to mothers during this critical time. A connected, loved, attached human being will have the ability to form caring connections with others and with the world.

Julie feels that this “maternal empowerment” is the key.

She shares that there are many simple ways a mother can be a creative force in the formation of her baby’s optimal development these include emotions, imagination and nutrition. Knowing this can empower woman, and costs little to implement.

The idea drives her to travel all over the world speaking, teaching and urging governments, health ministers, and individuals to integrate these ideas into every level of policy making. Her work has also led her to become a representative with the World Organization of Prenatal Education Associations, a United Nations NGO, to spread this idea across the world.  Her project the Global Prenatal Initiative strives to bring awareness about the key role that mothers play during pregnancy and birth, for the future of humanity.

The idea: Imagine a world where everyone knew the role of the mother in creating peace, health, and emotional well being of human beings?

3. Dawn Thompson, the Rally for Change.
Angry at seeing the constant misinformation pregnant mothers received from maternity care providers, and outraged by the fact that a local hospital had an 80% section rate on Thursday and Fridays, Dawn knew that she needed to act. As a Doula she knew that women assumed that the routine care they were receiving was based on the best evidence and solid science, but the shocking truth was that most of these interventions were unneeded and unnecessary and actually harmful to healthy birthing woman.

She put out a call to local mothers and birth workers and formed a rally at a local hospital to demand evidenced based care. She was very clear in purpose, “We are not fighting or protesting, we are here to rally for a change!”

After the rally, in which many local mothers and community showed up, Dawn knew that something important had happened.  She knew that there were people all over the country who were feeling the same way. The idea for the first “Rally For Change” was born.

She was inspired to put out a call across the nation and gather people to stand together all at once in front of the worst offending hospitals to force them examine their practices and update archaic, non evidenced based medical practices.

The first nationwide rally in 2012 was a huge success, and since that year the rally has become a global movement.

From her living room, and using her garage she created Improving Birth a non profit organization who’s purpose is to promote evidence based maternity care, informed decision making, and respectful care of pregnant and birthing mothers.

The idea: What if, like Dawn, we all had the courage to do something instead of just complaining. What if we all used our anger or outrage as “activation energy” to fuel a solution.

4. Sherry Payne, Hands, Voice and Feet

Working within her community to solve the problems of access to prenatal care, premature births, infant mortality and low breastfeeding rates Sherry created Uzazi Village to focus on the issues of health disparities in the African-American community. 
Sherry Payne at the Birth Activist Retreat, Utah

Feeling that not enough is being done to solve the issue of black infant mortality (black babies are dying more often within the first year of life) last September Sherry decided to walk 12 days and over 200 miles to raise awareness about this issue. Her support truck broke down and she had to cancel the walk but I feel a deep respect for her because of her courage made her do something. She did raise internet and media attention which highlighted the problem and created many discussions about this problem.

As my friend Loretta, a marathon runner who was told that she would be in a wheelchair by the age of 18 because of rheumatoid arthritis, often says to me, “If you try to jump and reach the ceiling, and you keep missing by inches… at least you jumped! Sherry Payne is not only jumping daily from within her community to protect and serve mothers and babies, but she used the resources she had available to create more public awareness and shine a light onto this problem
facing women of color. The idea: What if we all followed our inner calling to right what is wrong in our communities? Even if we failed, we would be that much closer to a better world.

5. Leymah Gbowee, Women-United.
This courageous Noble Peace Prize Laureate is mother who organized “Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace.” Led by Leymah, these women forced an end to the a 14 year civil war and demanded a democratic election. They finally ousted the warlords who were tearing the country apart. What is more, they chieved the election of the first female head of state in Africa!
Julie Gerland, far left, Leymah Gbowee, far right.

The movement started by singing and praying together for peace, then they went on to stage non violent protests to demand a peace treaty between the corrupt warring factions. These woman went as far as to have a sex strike across their nation to force all of the men to take serious action to help end the war.

Two years since the day
she decided that enough was enough Leymah, along with the relentless action from these women-united, forced this change.

The idea: Woman-United. There is nothing in this world that we have to endure. We have the power when we unite in purpose to change anything! 

Please join us in celebrating Birth Power Week by shining a light on the woman who inspire you by blogging, or simply giving them a shout out! #BirthPowerWeek

You can take a look at some ways that you can participate that week on the internet and on the ground to raise awareness about the importance of protecting, and enhancing optimal beginnings for all human beings being born.

In love and service,
Barbara Rivera

You can follow me here
twitter: Birthinpower

and Facebook: BirthPower.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Finding my mother, after her death...

My mom passed over 2 years ago. Recently, I have notice her everywhere...
I just wanted to honor her today...

Photo: Loretta Hornfeck-DaSilva

A special night gifted from my friend, Dave.

You are in the tilt of my head,
the joke on my lips,
the sureness in by hand as I wipe my children's face.

When I laugh, I can hear you sometimes, laughing with me.
If I listen, you whisper in my ear,
and I remember your feel,
and the spin of your humor,
and the steel of your strength.

Your body is gone, but
your spirit lives on,
woven among the threads that create my body,
mind and spirit.

I thought that it would be terrible to lose you,
but the final joke is that
you were alive in me

My mom & my youngest daughter.

I love you Mom!


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A Grand Project- Breaking free of the hamster wheel!

Author Barbara Rivera and her three children.

In this blog post "Of Lies and Wisdom" from Ending the Patriarchy, Bob Hartman says, "I didn’t know it at the time, but the pressure to conform drove me to unconsciously sever links with logic, my body’s sensory wisdom, and the earth."

These words from Bob jar me deeply and brings tears to my eyes. As children, we lose ourselves-  a thousand little deaths as we cut ourselves off from what we really want in order to endure life as it is laid out to us by others. It is really no mystery to me that people are called to drugs and alcohol to find relief from the pressure of holding our true selves back. Life on a hamster wheel of debt, fear and consumerism is not ultimately fulfilling.

I believe that there is something to be lost if we obediently force our children into their own hamster wheel expecting that something better will happen to them then has happened to us. The human products of this current paradigm seem to be children who are stressed, depressed, medicated and sick. The next step for our children once they graduate childhood seems to be illness, addiction, consumerism and debt (for most of them).

If we accept the current conditioning of the schools, media and government, we surrender our children to others and sacrifice our power to do our children and society right.

In order to break free of negative forms of social influence, we need to understand our own human nature.  Phillip Zimbardo of the Heroic Imagination Project (also best known for the horrifying Stanford Prison Experiments) has mapped out some human drives which keep us passive such as conformity, obedience, and the bystander effect. Spiritual teacher Byron Katie also has some powerful, free tools for people who want to break free of social conditioning and discover "inner knowing."

As a mother, I am interested in teaching my children tools to keep them from the mindless "rat race," and preserve their own inner knowing.  I ask myself these questions daily to keep me on track:

How do I raise my children so they are connected to their own feelings and intuitions and inner guidance system?

How to I ensure that my children have the strength to be themselves in a world which is grabbing at full force to pull them in?

How can I protect my children's natural passion and excitement for life and their love of new experiences and learning?

How do I nurture human beings who have a natural love and desire to protect each other, their community and the Earth?

I am working on it with my three children.  I know I don't have to be perfect,  nor do I have to know everything all at once. I can only "go right," one step at a time, checking in often to see if that light they were born with is still shining.

It is a grand project!