Sunday, November 17, 2013

A Doula's Devotion

'To Doula or not to Doula'. That is the question. This loose reference to Shakespeare is a fitting phrase to describe how Emily Tucker's fascination for the question "What is normal?" would lead her to supporting women during their pregnancy, birthing and post-partum experiences. Yet her journey was one of happenstance discovery, as compared to a dream rooted in early childhood. I found this particular quote by Emily interesting, as it speaks as to how important it is to embrace our instincts and at times, live in the moment. 
“When I was approached by a friend, (the Director of Beginnings Family Resource Centre here in Woodstock where my husband and I volunteer), about a Doula training course being offered, I found myself saying YES to the opportunity before my brain even had a chance to register what it was I was saying yes to!”  
During the ensuing process of completing her Doula training through DONA International and attending a few natural births, there would be an ‘awakening’ within Emily. This was the career direction she was meant to pursue.

'To Doula or Not to Doula' might also be an apt phrase to describe the choices available to a woman regarding her childbirth support options. Emily has long carried an empathy and concern that young women are trodden upon by a medical system that routinely utilizes a clinical approach to care, and which may involve unnecessary interventions. Emily believes that each woman should recognize she is unique and that she deserves to be treated accordingly during life-altering experiences such as bringing a child into the world. She advocates that each woman should be central to her pregnancy and birth, as compared to being 'treated' as an incidental factor. A Doula’s role is to be there for each step of a personalized journey, offering moral support and gentle guidance. A truly personal experience promotes emotional and spiritual wellness for mother, infant and other family members, and results in a much more meaningful and memorable experience.

Emily is a firm believer that women are naturally designed to bring life into the world and that most are equipped with the ‘tools’ to do so. Emily recognizes there is a fine line which must be honoured in working with each of her clients; she is careful not to impose her personal values, but assures that each person is offered well-rounded information which will equip her to make up her own mind as to the various options available. Ultimately, Emily wants each woman to know there is no greater job for her (Emily) than to “see a mother come through her labour and delivery with a sense of personal accomplishment and pride, and to see couples working in tune with each other so that Mom doesn't feel she has done everything alone. I consider it a true honour to be a part of their intimate and sacred journey”.

With a growing interest in more natural pregnancy, birthing and post-partum options, Doulas as well as Midwives are gaining respect and are increasingly sought out by expectant mothers. Finding a Midwife can be like winning the lottery however, and a Doula can offer insight regarding the associated benefits but also in directing those interested to available resources and Midwife groups. Regardless of whether a woman chooses an Obstetrician or a Midwife for the actual delivery, a Doula can be there to support an expectant mother throughout her overall journey.

David Charlesworth (
As a Doula, Emily meets with clients, often quite early in their pregnancies, to establish a personalized and trust-centred relationship. This shared time is focused upon creating a birth plan, discussing possible scenarios, and exploring their hopes and fears. As with anything in life, not all pregnancies and births go smoothly and for some clients, Emily has become a constant and comforting support within their lives. Among other challenges where a Doula can assist is the likelihood of rough patches a new Mom may experience upon returning home with a wee one. Two common areas of at-home care at this stage include the need to address breastfeeding questions and issues, as well the reality of post-partum depression for some women.

As of May, 2013 after a lot of hard work, theoretical studies and hands-on learning, Emily became a certified Doula. She has established her own business (L'Chaim Doula Services) and has created a website in order to share her vision. To date, she has supported and attended a dozen births in the Woodstock, Cambridge, Norwich and Stratford areas. She will be there to support her clients yet again, as two will be welcoming another child to their families and have asked to have Emily alongside them on their latest journey. Emily's closing statement is one which reflects her passion for new beginnings:
“I have been witness not only to a child’s first breath, but to a woman transforming into a mother. It is both an honour and privilege! I love my job, including all the ups and downs, joys and challenges, because I know I am making a difference. One baby at a time.”
Emily encourages you check out her website and facebook page, where in the relaxation and comfort of your home, you can learn more about how she can help you or someone you know!

Emily’s Website:  

Further Information:
DONA (Doulas of North America) Website:
Woodstock Needs Midwives:  

Do check out my other blog topics while on here!  I love writing about people and what inspires them.  I also discuss various career and employee development topics, usually with a dash of humour or a grain of salt! I welcome you to join me, and to leave a comment! Catherine Stewart-Mott; Forward Momentum Services 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Calming Workplace Waters

Many of us are contributors to contaminating the work culture in which we spend many of our earthly hours. Not always is it entirely conscious and controlled; sometimes it bubbles unexpectedly to the surface when we are resentful or under stress. More concerning might be an occasional dash or even hefty dose of toxins doled out in a conscious, subversive and insidious manner.

Ask yourself this question? Are the waters where you work primarily calm and placid, are they rippled with occasional stone throws, or are they outright tidal at times? Can you or will you acknowledge where you might be turning up the heat on those same waters, at least a degree or two? Do yourself a favour; don't treat the question lightly. Too often we prefer to disregard or downplay our own involvement and cast blame elsewhere. If you had to rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10, with one being you strive to maintain pristine waters and 10 being you whole-heartedly cast pollutants (whether obviously or subversively), how would you evaluate your negative contribution level?

When I dig deep enough, usually I learn someone is at least in part a contributor, even during those times when we feel victimized by others; in fact, this may be when we are at higher risk of polluting the waters. Perhaps we have endured the wrath of a volatile team leader or the scrutiny of an over-controlling employer. Maybe we have worked alongside a co-worker who is a non-stop and aimless chatterer. Or maybe our values are out of synch with some of those around us and finding 'dry ground' seems almost impossible. It is not that uncommon to 'react' rather than respond to such challenges, essentially meaning our actions (or reactions) follow the flow of our emotions.

We may not carry the bulk of the blame, but are we entirely free of blame? One of the most destructive of workplace behaviours can have its roots in an ongoing feeling of helplessness created by unhealthy work relationships. Out of fear, resentment, annoyance or anxiety, people at times resort to what I will call 'underground antics' to express or provide an outlet for their disillusionment or anger. It may be a sarcastic comment under the breath or shared with another, or it may be a carefully considered or impulsive action such as spilling coffee onto someone's important presentation materials. The term passive-aggressive may be a more familiar term. Figuratively speaking, stones get tossed in the workplace waters, but the stone thrower hopes a ripple effect will occur without the source being detected.

When frustrated, disillusioned or even angry, we may react in less than stellar ways. It can feel good in the moment, sort of like a drug high might feel.  But the problem with highs is the lows which can follow. For instance, we may then think of the risk of getting caught or experience feelings of fallout guilt or stress. And not the least of which is that each negative action does indeed create a more toxic workplace culture, where job satisfaction takes a dive. Much better is to utilize strategies which will allow us to deal with such challenges in a more constructive manner.

It actually takes a great deal of emotional intelligence to do more than simply tread water in today's stress-filled workplaces. Emotional intelligence requires good self-awareness, constant self-regulation, and an ability to incorporate understanding and empathy when interacting with others. This means we have to learn to communicate in a conscious and conscientious manner.

Why not strive to create the calm and pristine workplace waters that ultimately, we should all want to enjoy? 

Do check out my other blog topics while on here!  I love writing about people and what inspires them.  I also discuss various career and employee development topics, usually with a dash of humour or a grain of salt! I welcome you to join me, and to leave a comment!

Catherine Stewart-Mott; Forward Momentum Services

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Ballad of the Missing Cutlery

Has your tummy ever angrily growled back at you because you ignored the pleas to satisfy its hunger?  I suspect we have all been there.  Have you also suffered from what I now believe to be a chronic workplace woe, in that when you are at your most ravenous, you will assuredly find not even a single fork in the drawer.  (Yes, you should learn to bring your own from home, but let's save that for another post!)  Knives may be aplenty, and sometimes even spoons, but it is really hard to eat bean sprouts with a spoon, I have discovered.  Or if nobody is watching, your fingers. 

Seriously, is there some magnetic and mysterious force that draws cutlery from the dark recesses of our cabinetry into the void of outer space?  Or is it  like socks that are hijacked by the washing machine, never to adorn our tender tootsies again?  We must stop this madness, ... now.  So I am appealing to everyone who has suffered this trauma to take action. 

Feel free to post this poem in your workplace, and put your cutlery on notice that you will not take it ... ANY MORE!

The Ballad of the Missing Cutlery
Party Animals

Real forks and spoons appear from this air,
After cleaning your drawer, which of course is quite rare.
Staff members rejoice in seeing such class,
A real fork is nice alongside plates and glass.

One day they are there, all shiny and bright,
The next they are gone, and a mystery's alight. 
A sad story to tell, best done in a song,
But since I can't sing, that would be wrong.

Oh where do you go, you tools of steel,
We miss you so much at our midday meal.
I promise to wash you and put you away,
And not treat you bad, like a four legged stray.

Plan a big shindig, for the end of the day,
But make a morning appearance, that I will pray.
At 4:30 depart and go play with your friends,
Go do whatever, but when MY workday ends.

But if this is a crime and you are the cause,
Just bring it back please and expect no applause.
To fess up is good for mind, body and soul,
More important, we'll all have a spoon for our bowl.

All I want this Christmas is a real fork or spoon,
"Dear Santa, oh help me, I need it real soon."
I'll just close my eyes, please drop it in quiet,
I promise my excitement won't cause a mass riot.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good meal,
Just watch your cutlery; it's a really good 'steal'.

Catherine Stewart-Mott

Do check out my other blog topics while on here!  I love writing about people and what inspires them.  I also discuss various career and employee development topics, usually with a dash of humour or a grain of salt! I welcome you to join me, and to leave a comment!

Catherine Stewart-Mott; Forward Momentum Services

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Remembering My Father on Remembrance Day

The other day I joined a Facebook page entitled ‘Remembrance Day 2013’.  For some, this title might imply those who have died during war times.  For others, it implies a much broader context, one which involves those who participated in and either passed away in a war or who luckily survived and returned to civilian life.  But Remembrance Day is not intended to ‘only’ honour those who have died or served; it is an annual message for all to recognize that we should not take peace, or our rights and obligations, for granted.  At least that is the message I choose to embrace.  For each of us, what we ‘take in’ about Remembrance Day is important; but equally important is what you choose to ‘give back’.

Without having a firsthand experience (or a parent who occasionally shared his or her life stories!), we can become consciously or unconsciously apathetic about the sacrifices and commitments made by others.  Yet to be able to envision, or at least try to appreciate, what others have gone through and why is a vital quality of human nature.

Arthur Stewart - WW2 Veteran
It is often suggested that one cannot truly ‘relate to’ what others have experienced in life until we have endured an identical experience or a very similar experience. I for one cannot truly imagine what it must have been like to grow up during the Depression era, like my Dad, his parents, and his many siblings.  I also cannot personally imagine starting my formal work life at age 12 or 13, as my father did. I cannot truly imagine what might have motivated him or his siblings to voluntarily join the war effort (WW2) and to put their lives at risk on a day to day basis.  I also cannot begin to imagine how hard it must have been to watch your close wartime friend die beside you, while you are helpless to do anything about it. 

Yet I strive, at best ... 'to understand’.  When I was sent a copy of my father’s war release paperwork a couple of years ago in preparation for a book about the Perth Regiment, I was shocked to learn that my father, a long-time farmer, had in fact wanted to be a café owner.  As a strong and burly man with a Grade 3 education, he was told that a future as a café owner was not in the cards, and he was told he was better suited to being a farmer or a labourer.  I was in fact shocked to learn of Dad’s true career interest and how quickly it was dismissed upon his return from the war. Who knows, maybe he had become used to 'taking orders' during war time.  Equally disconcerting is that I am now in the same line of work as those who told him to forget his dream, and it has made me realize just how important it is to really understand what motivates each person with whom I work. 

Given he fought in WW2 to protect our freedom, I found it disturbing that his own interests were so quickly quashed by the ‘powers that be’ at the time.  Yet this same man, with his Grade 3 education, could create an amazing array of poetry about his life and wartime experiences.  It saddened me to learn that I, in fact, knew very little about my father’s inner passions and dreams.

I admittedly worry that we have been taking a long and gradual slide down a slippery slope here in Canada.  It is getting harder and harder for me to look around and see true democracy in action.  I wish people would heighten their awareness as to what is important in life, rather than living day to day without a conscious appreciation for what is happening in the society and world around them. That includes how our own government 'chooses' to run our country, with or without our votes.  Or without our actions or reactions.  Please don't let apathy rule your heart or your life.

In honour of my father and his literary talent, as well as his interest in achieving true peace and democracy, I have chosen to include three of his poems. The first is my father’s reflection of surviving difficult times during the Great Depression, and the second showcases the struggles endured during wartime. The last relates to his wartime comrade Freddy Wells, who passed away during WW2 while at my father’s side. 

Mom & Dad
I'm lying here just thinking, of when I was just a lad
I'm thinking of the good times, and the bad times that I had
I'm thinking of my mother, and of my father too
I'm thinking of the hard times, that both of them went through
They worked so hard to raise us, and they tried to raise us right
They kept food on the table, and they kept us warm at night
But then the Great Depression, and things back then were bad
But we want the whole world to know, we loved our Mom and Dad
Though we never had much money, and things at times got rough
I know it never harmed us, it just made us grow up tough
Now Mom and Dad they've left us, for another place I know
And I’m sure they’ll have it better there, then they did down here below
Dear brothers have predeceased me, sisters they have too
But I know it won't be very long, that I'll be joining all of you

Old Italy
We left the shores of England, one damp and dreary day
Said goodbye to all our English friends, before we sailed away
We sailed away, we knew not where, until we drifted to sea
Our captain says, “Boys I’ve good news, we’re sailing for Italy”
We landed in Old Italy, young hearts were filled with glee
Though we knew not a month from then, where any of us would be
It was just one month from that day, we crossed the enemy line
Through German well-laid fire, and through German well-laid mines
Was in a valley now called Death Valley, the guns rang loud and clear
Where comrade after comrade fell, their cries I still can hear
When the smoke of battle lifted, so few of us remained
Young men now sad and bitter, their nerves so taunt and strained
Young men now aged and bitter, their hearts so filled with hate
That the German S.S. Army, had sealed their comrades fate
Well next there came Cassino, a place of utter ruin
Of death, complete destruction, that would be forgotten soon
But here the story changes, the enemy had their fun
When Victoria’s allied armies, had the Germans on the run
They cleared them from Ortona, The Hitler Gothic Line
And while comrades still were falling, morale was high and fine
We crossed the muddy Sangro, we battled to the Po
Pushing on before us, our badly beaten foe
But now we the victors. let’s bow our heads in prayer
Pray not forget our fallen pals, that are buried over there
And I pray to the Lord in Heaven, there be war never more
 And my heart aches for all mothers, who lost their sons to war

A Tribute to Freddy Wells
I saw your grave today old pal, the earth still dark and cold
And at your head there stood a cross, as if we need be told
We stood around like things not men, for we knew not what to say
Then someone broke the silence with, "We’d best be on our way.”
We turned as one and moved away, heads bowed and hats in hand
I hated so to leave you there, I hope you’ll understand
Who knows we soon may meet again, and start our lives anew
We’ll laugh about the army then, and the things we used to do
We’ ll plan our plans and dream our dreams, just like we used to do
So do the best you can, old pal, I may be seeing you

Art Stewart
WW2 Veteran
(B: 1915 – D:2005)
'Lest We Forget'

Do check out my other blog topics while on here!  I love writing about people and what inspires them.  I also discuss various career and employee development topics, usually with a dash of humour or a grain of salt! I welcome you to join me, and to leave a comment!

Catherine Stewart-Mott; Forward Momentum Services