Again this year I attended the Doula retreat at Cae Mabon, Llanberis, in the heart of Snowdonia. This beautiful magical place where a small group of Doula sisters meet, weep and laugh. this year was no different in this respect, and the sense of coming home as I trundled down the track with my huge rucksack, sleeping bag and paraphernalia was profound.
6 year ago when I attended my first Doula retreat in this beautiful part of Wales I had my five month old baby, Alfie with me. Attending my first retreat was the first time I had head space to contemplate myself, my journey as a woman, mother and Doula for a long time, while being held and supported by my Doula sisters. After this first retreat I felt passionate to keep supporting other families as they welcomed their new babies into the world. I had balance which held my space for my family and the work I love and I looked forward to the next years retreat came around again and I could be held and cared for, supported and loved at the same time as becoming one with the beautiful environment of Cae Mabon, the river, the lake, and the mountains. Absolute bliss!
After the retreat, three years ago children came to join me in Llanberis, on the last day and we stayed on for a couple of days, spending time together walking, following waterfalls, gazing at the beautiful views..
Three years ago the retreat was profound, and I learnt more about myself than ever before. I felt some self-awareness returning, and along with it came self confidence. I learned not to be ashamed of my body. As a doula and massage therapist I have never thought negatively about another woman's body, yet heavily criticised my own, I came to the conclusion that many of us do this, but I felt that I felt it so profoundly due to my husbands infidelity. during a workshop at Cae Mabon with the amazing Rocio Alarcon, ethnobotanist and shamanic healer, I came face to face with my dislike of myself physically, but also emotionally. it was a testing time for me, and I was left to reflect on the fact that I needed to work on my self worth to be of any use to anyone else, especially as a mother and doula.
As I bathed in the cold (yes, very cold!!) fresh waters of the stream, and swam in the lake, I felt washed and cleansed of so much stored and misplaced negativity..
Two years ago, I decided enough was enough, there is only so much anyone can take. I felt broken. I felt numb. I knew from my time at Cae Mabon that I didn't have to feel this way, it was possible to live, laugh and be happy!
This year I attended retreat feeling strong. I am a single mother now and struggle with some things, but being single isn't one of them! I know I may never live with another man again, and you know what, that's OK!! I do not feel that I need this in my life right now, if ever, but I also feel healed enough and strong enough that if the right man ever comes along, I'll be ready!
I feel that this year, as I walked down the hill to the roundhouse, that I am actually a happy person again, I had come home, to my soul home of sisters at Cae Mabon, but also the home within me. I feel content again.
This year we had a feltcraft workshop, it has been a while since I have been inspired to do any craft for the sake of it, and on reflection I can see that I was quite resistant to doing it at all, then when I started doing it, it was interesting that all my self doubt came to the surface and couldn't think of a thing to do, once I got going though I enjoyed it. I slept well that night!! here are my pieces, I think they look colourful and positive, hopefully a sign of things to come, but also a reflection of how things already are, bright, positive, optimistic, strong, radiant and blossoming..
This is also the year I have also decided I will have a tattoo! big decision at 43 years old, I know! But I have been waiting for the right time, and the inspiration. This year an amazing woman was with us called Cat, she nurtured us all with her magical henna, she hennaed our hair, our hands, arms, backs and bellies and now I feel ready to have permanent ink on my hands, which the lovely Cat has offered to design for me..
One evening we gathered in the roundhouse, with the central fire lit we listened as Rachel, our wonderful sister storyteller told the story of the seal wife. The story of the seal-woman who stayed in woman form to marry a fisherman but became ill due to neglecting her seal self. eventually she returned to her home, the sea, but visited her young son on the seashore regularly, as his home was on land. The mother would breathe her songs of the sea into her sons nostrils, but she could not stay, and he could only visit her, but took her song and wisdom with him when he returned to the land. This story touched my soul, and at the end of the retreat, Selina read an excerpt from 'Women Who Run With the Wolves' about the same story. On our last day, in the last hours of our retreat which felt like our spirit, soul home this story summed up how sad many of us were feeling to be leaving and going back to our daily lives, but how we will be taking the breath and stories of each other with us, knowing that next year we will be visiting again and we shall come full circle..
A big thank you to Janine for sharing her beautiful photos :)
link to Cae Mabon:
link to Henna Cat: