That time I did henna at the Birth Without Fear Conference!
So, the first-ever Birth Without Fear Conference just wrapped up over the weekend, in Arlington, Texas!
If you don't yet know about Birth Without Fear, here's my take on it:
It's a blog - but it's more than that - it’s practially essential reading for anyone who desires an empowering childbirth - because we NEED to hear stories of other women who’ve been there, done that, and can share their stories openly.
It's a movement embodying courage, strength, confidence and self-love.
It's like a giant, supportive sisterhood - a virtual tribe of solidarity that supports our freedom to Just Be.
For these reasons, I resonate deeply with Birth Without Fear's message. I was very excited to be able to attend the first conference.
If you were there, you probably met me as "the henna artist".
My friends Amity and Dani were my travel companions as we made the drive up to the DFW area, meeting up at 3am to make the 3 hour drive and arrive in time for vendor set-up, at 7am. (When you're traveling with a baby and toddler, you just have to figure on everything taking about an hour longer!)
There were already folks setting up their goodies, and a fabulous breakfast was spread out in the atrium, for everyone to enjoy. I probably returned to that breakfast spread five times, to placate my littlest one with yet another few slices of cantaloupe.
I was SO busy doing henna art for everyone! It was so fast-paced and fun.
I wanted to be able to accommodate those who wanted both quick + simple designs, as well as mamas who were wanting henna for their pregnant bellies.
I probably did 7 full-pregnant bellies over the weekend!
I was thrilled to be connecting with so many awesome women, and great conversations just flowed the entire time we were there.
"The Toddler" ~ a bit about Oliver...
I have five children, and my youngest, Oliver, stayed with me for the duration of the conference. Oliver turns 2 next month, and since he's still breastfeeding, I was especially glad to learn that the BWF Conference was nursing-child-friendly!
However, a child his age only has so much patience...
I was so relieved, grateful and delighted to have so many women come together to help me with Oliver when he was cranky and upset.
Thanks to a bunch of amazing women, most of whom I'd only just met - Ollie got to walk all around the hotel, watch the elevators, color and draw, play with toys, and admire all sorts of cute babies all weekend!
That, my dears, is what community and tribe is all about. Mothers helping mothers - no judgment, just support.
The connections that were made at this event are deep, authentic, and potentially life-changing for so many of us. It's so affirming to our souls to be in the presence of truly kindred spirits: women who are walking paths that may vary widely from our own, but whose ultimate desire to love and support each other overrides the differences.
This is soul nourishment - a true catalyst for empowerment, courage, & sisterhood among us.
After the speaker sessions on Saturday, there was a short break, and then a Mothers' Harmony Circle in the late evening, which I was so sad to miss..
I was beyond exhausted, and Oliver really needed some downtime - so we grabbed a bite to eat, and were both deep asleep at just past 9pm--!
I later heard from nearly every single person I chatted with afterward about how the Mothers' Harmony Circle was hands-down the most amazing part of the entire conference!
The Henna Art
This is one of the many bellies I henna'ed over the weekend.
When I started working on this lovely mama's belly, I felt a connection, a sameness with mySelf that I couldn't quite explain. Her belly reminded me strongly of my own during my fifth pregnancy...tho I didn't have words to explain why or how that was so.
It turned out that this was her ninth pregnancy ~ and the fact that she'd never had henna on her belly before just made it all the more special. Wishing you a beautiful birthing time, mama!
I really enjoyed letting my creativity run wild on so many special souls.
With the right crowd, doing henna feels like a gift I'm privileged to share, and not at all like work.
The Birth Without Fear Conference was absolutely full of this type of energy. So blessed...
Sunday was slightly more calm, although I was still doing henna for nearly the entire time, minus meals (hastily eaten yet delicious!).
I got to talk with so many sweet souls about my online offerings ~ and about my traumatic birth experience that solidified my calling as an activist/advocate.
These amazing photographers captured so much of the essence and beauty of this special event...and I’m happy to still know them ten years after this event! Leilani Rogers, Photographer & Kindred Photography
I left the Birth Without Fear Conference feeling uplifted, overflowing with gratitude, and imbued with a renewed sense of strength & courage.
I left feeling like I had a whole new level of appreciation and awareness for just how much my own work matters ~ how much all of our heartfelt messages need to be delivered to women everywhere.
The sense of unity & oneness among these beautiful souls (most of whom had only just met) was just palpable, so clear and obvious.
It's something that can't be touched, held, or seen....something intangible and quite unrelated to anything you can put a price on.
The next BWF conference is in Austin, Texas, on October 25th and 26th, 2014 - and you can be sure I will move mountains to be able to attend.
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