Yesterday morning, workshop day, I awoke, and it was all there. Years of experience and information came flooding back into my conscious mind. It was as if it was in some cosmic storage locker awaiting my return. All I had to do was trust that it was there, wait and voila, it all came back to me. Lesson learned.
As I was packing up my things for the workshop, including my model baby doll affectionately named Abby (short for Abigail, the name I'd chosen as a girl for my future daughter), it struck me that all the time I was in business for myself, I had never really allowed myself to get close to my clients. Outwardly, it probably didn't seem that way. I cared for them, did the best I could to help them, but inwardly, there was always this battle. I kept people, all people outside my Jehovah's Witness belief system, at arm's length. I never fully committed to them nor allowed myself to fully engage with them. There are three reasons for this:
- Us versus Them. The reality was that no matter how amazing these people I was working with were, they were still "worldly" and a potential threat to my faith.
- Why get close to anyone my God was inevitably going to destroy in some near-future Armageddon?
- What I'm doing here is futile. My help is just a band-aid. These people really just need to convert and be saved. There was always this conflict in my soul as to whether I should be spending my time helping people directly with their most immediate needs, or instead proselytizing them to give them a more lasting, ail-free future.
Needless to say, with these quandaries floating around, added to the other anxieties I felt on a daily basis, I felt completely ineffective as a practitioner. There was this constant push-pull in every interaction. Until yesterday, I was aware of how the Jehovah's Witness mentality had affected other areas of my life, but not so acutely aware of how it even crept into how I did business. How could it not? It colored everything.
As I packed up Abby into my bag, I realized that I was going to speak to a group of women who already had babies of their own. There would be real, live Abbys there for me to use as models. I had kept myself so distant from everyone at my classes that I didn't realize that I could just use the babies that were already there as models, that it was okay for me to interact with them the way my heart really always wanted to.
I arrived at the Community Centre and was greeted by Cathy, the woman I've known for many years through my work with children and infants. I hugged her tightly as if I was seeing her for the first time. I caught up on the details of her family's well-being and felt a warmth in my heart for her I'd not allowed my heart to feel previously.
As the women arrived for the class, I welcomed them at the door, as if they were coming into my home. We assembled on the floor of the meeting room, the babies playing, laughing and studying me with smiles and coos. I interacted with each of them, playing, snuggling and staring into the eyes I'd failed to see so many times before. By the time I started the workshop, I felt like I knew these women and their babies and we were just a bunch of friends sitting in my living room discussing life and babyness.
The 90-minute workshop went over two hours. I had more than enough information to share with them and they were grateful for it all. Abby stayed in my bag most of the workshop. Whenever I needed a model to demo a movement or massage technique, one of the mothers was offering me her baby. "Here, use Karl." "Here, use Sarah." I didn't even have to ask.
For the first time in a long time, I felt truly useful. I felt as though I really have something to offer this world. Something that isn't tied to an illusory future. Something that can add to your quality of life right now. I can help you right now. I can love you right now. I can be with you right now. I don't have to wait until some god takes away your pain or makes everything right with the world. I can be here now and be here with you right now and let's see what we can do to make things a bit easier. What a thought.
I floated out of the workshop like I'd sprouted wings and could fly. Babies. This is what I'm meant to do with my life. Love babies and love their mothers and help them love each other through movement and play and presence. Sounds like a plan.