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#194 - Honouring the Seasons of Motherhood with Layla O'Mara
Episode 19418th May 2022 • Happy Mama Movement with Amy Taylor-Kabbaz • Amy Taylor-Kabbaz
00:00:00 00:30:38

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Maybe matresence is so hard to define because of the vastly different experiences a woman can have from birth to birth. My guest today, Layla O'Mara is no exception. Layla had two of her children in Germany and her third in her hometown of Ireland. That led her on the journey towards matresence activism and also deepened her understanding of the different elements and seasons within us. Listen as Amy and Layla discuss:

  • When our partners go back to work and how profound that can be in a country where there is little family support.
  • Cultural expectations post birth and allowing healing and rest in different capacities.
  • How the seasons of motherhood can work together and how each is necessary for growth, retreat, acceptance and change.
  • Following our curiosities alongside acceptance and trust, each season will pass and return and each is fully necessary and a beautiful part of motherhood.

To find out more about Layla's work please visit https://www.instagram.com/nuanuaonline/.

There needs to be a change in the way mothers are valued and seen in our society. We are here to spread the whispers of Matrescence together.

You can also find out more and receive your Matrescence map here https://www.amytaylorkabbaz.com/matrescence/

Transcripts

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Welcome to the Happy Mama Movement Podcast.

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I'm Amy Taylor-Kabbaz.

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I would like to start by acknowledging the Gadigal people of the Aura nation

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on which this podcast is recorded as the traditional custodians of this land.

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And pay my respects to the elders past, present and emerging.

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And as this podcast is dedicated to the wisdom and knowledge of motherhood, I

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would like to acknowledge the mothers of this land, the elders, their wisdom, their

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knowing and my own elders and teachers.

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Welcome back Mamas.

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I love bringing you the stories of our Mama Rising

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facilitators all over the world.

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These stories, I hope not only show you the power of matresence, and some

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of the amazing things these women are doing, but also how each of these women

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have come to this through their own experiences of struggling with an element

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of motherhood, perhaps struggling with infertility, struggling with returning to

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work and that sparks something in them.

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And then they go on their own journey and each of these women came to a

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place of healing and acceptance of their own experience of motherhood

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and themselves in a unique way.

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Layla's story, which you're about to hear is another.

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Layla O'Mara had two of her children in Germany and her

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third in her hometown of Ireland.

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And the vast difference she saw in these two parts of the world began

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an experience for her that led her to question, how can we do this better?

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It not only led to a realisation that she wanted to be a doula and a

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matresence activist, but also brought her to a way of looking at the seasons

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of a woman's life and how we can all understand the different elements and

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seasons within us and accept that there will always be an autumn and a winter

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as well as a spring and a summer.

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I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did.

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Layla welcome to the podcast.

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It's so lovely to connect with you and have this conversation with you.

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Hi, Amy, such a delight to be here.

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Thank you for having me.

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Oh, thank you for saying yes to speaking with me and our

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amazing community of Mamas.

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So, we really want to explore in this conversation, how matresence,

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this idea of matresence really has weaved into your life.

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And opened up an understanding of the seasons and the cycles of nature of the

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elements and how it has really healed your transition through motherhood.

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And now this is what you do with others.

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So to do that, let's go back to the beginning.

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As I always like to ask.

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What was your assumption and your story around motherhood

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before you became a Mama?

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Yeah.

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I was really wanting to have children for a very long time.

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Um, always presumed I was going to be a mother, it was just a

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given, and that journey, I suppose, even before I had a partner.

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Came into, into relief because I was diagnosed with a lot of

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fibroids and was told you're not going to be able to conceive

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without having all of these removed.

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And even then it'll be a 50% chance of having a child.

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So I had that experience and then met relatively quickly,

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my partner, after that.

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And kind of met him, knowing we may not be able to conceive.

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So I guess that journey was already set.

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You know, this is going to be a battle.

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This is something I'm going to really have to fight for.

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And it makes you want it even more then in many ways, well it did for me anyway.

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So, that took about two and a half years of all the trying and legs in the air

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and all the, all the things we did.

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And I did conceive my, my first son.

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Um, so I suppose, going into it, the assumption was a) I'm super

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grateful that this has happened.

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What a blessing I'm b) I'm going to love this, and I'm going

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to be this earthy connected, aligned, you know, present mother.

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And that's just how it is, you know?

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And, I can remember so clearly it was a planned C-section birth because of

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all of that medical stuff, quite a, uh, violent one, for whatever reason

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it was, I was very bruised, you know, there was a lot of recovery.

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And I remember so clearly about two weeks after my son was born, we were

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living in Germany and he was born in December, so it was very wintery.

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And my husband had gone back to work.

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And I remember standing at the window with this baby in my arms, who was a very, now

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I know I can call them a high needs baby.

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I didn't know what that was.

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He would just, he was a baby and I thought, this is the way it was.

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But just not knowing what the hell had happened and why didn't

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I love this more and who was I, you know, I couldn't grasp that.

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I had no way of grasping who I was anymore and I had no

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framework, I no reference for that.

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No explanation, and feeling so raging with my husband, that he

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didn't see that or understand it.

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Um, and not having a vocabulary to express that.

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So I guess that was, you know, in a part of history that was looking back now

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at the time, I wouldn't have had even those words to explain that experience

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it's hindsight and it's understanding matresence thats given me that ability.

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But yeah, it was a really stark divide between what I expected it to be.

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And in those moments as well, not wanting to be anywhere else than with

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that crying baby in that apartment, on my own away from family wanting to hold

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that baby never put him down, never be an inch away from him, but at the

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same time, desperately wanting to be on my own and desperately wanting to

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be myself and no idea what that was.

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Cause the minute I walked away, I didn't know who that was.

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So yeah, that was for me that, and what you speak about now, that inner

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split, that divide that is, so it was so stark and clear for me, at that point.

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It's so interesting, isn't it?

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That added element of your partner going back to work.

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You're in the apartment on your own, even the mention of the winter there,

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like there's this real sense of you and this baby, trying to figure out

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how the hell to do this on your own.

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That is such an element that I think many of us forget how profound

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that can be as an added element to what we're already experiencing.

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As we begin to mother.

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Um, yeah, it was definitely the straw that broke the camel's

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back in many ways for me.

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I think that, that, okay, I can do this when I have that support and I

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should say, as well, I was in Germany with quite a lot of postpartum support,

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you know, we'll get later to what I do now, but, you know, without that

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support, you know, from a midwife who was visiting me daily, actually at that

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point and very blessed to have that.

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But there was something about my husband going, or do you know what it was,

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it was him being able to step out.

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And me not, you know, I think that was what just got me and made me so furious

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that he didn't understand that, you know, and he's like, but I have to go to work.

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I need to do this for our family and all that was yes, tick

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understood in my cognitive brain.

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But I remember there was a moment I had booked a hair color cause

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I didn't color my hair when I was pregnant, I didn't want to.

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And there was a big, you know, excitement to get my hair done about

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a month in and halfway through that hair appointment, my husband called

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and said the baby won't stop crying.

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And the hair was dyed and cut, but not, um, dried.

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And I left that hairdresser in the middle of winter and cycled back

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in, you know, minus whatever in Germany, uh, to get to my baby.

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And I wanted so badly to get back to him.

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But was also so furious that look, you can go for a day and this is via, this

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was my perspective at the time, but I, I, I don't have that option, I'm trapped.

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And it was, so it was that for me, that was so, yeah, that was

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so triggering or so, yeah, that kind of pushed me into that really

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confused and upset space, I suppose.

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Um, and not understanding that it was okay to feel all of that, you know,

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it was just, I don't know what all of this stuff going on in my head is.

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Thank you for painting such a clear, and beautiful picture of what that looks like.

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Of that split within us, where of course we get up and leave the hairdressers

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without that longed for color completed in the freezing weather to rush back

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and make sure that our child is okay.

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And yet as we rush back, we're also deeply resentful that we have to rush

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back because I think these are the realisations and the honesty we need

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around how we can feel in this process.

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Of course we're going to be there, but there's also a part

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of us that says, ah, at times.

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So what was the process of you beginning to understand that?

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How did this play out?

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This first experience of motherhood?

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The process of beginning to understand it took a long time.

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For a long time, I had these two sides of going, and there's this element as

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well of going the shoulds, the work that I do now, anytime I hear that

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word with a Mum or in myself, in my work I do on myself and my own life.

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It's that should, so there were so many shoulds, I should be always

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there, I should be also very, you know, I should be more ahead

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in my career, all of that stuff.

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So there was a lot of that journey for many years of really wanting to

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be entirely there for my kids the whole time I had a second daughter,

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two and a half years later, and then another baby, three years after that.

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Um, and not really being able to, to pass the tooth, being able

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to work out what is this divide?

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Why am I being pulled in these two directions?

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I think that the big catalyst for me, of really going, okay, there's

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something going on here, that's bigger than just me, was coming back.

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So we were in Germany for my first two babies for about eight years.

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And I'm from Ireland and we moved back to Ireland while

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I was pregnant with my third.

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And I had, as I said, had this support, I had had a little bit of a safety

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net of a system that says you are worthy of rest, recovery, support,

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care and attention after birth.

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So that was a systemic part of my experience in Germany.

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So I'd had something holding me.

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I didn't have anybody telling me it was matresence but at least I had that.

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Um, came back to Ireland,, quite a difficult pregnancy and premature

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birth and had, what do they call it?

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Dust balls blowing through, you know, there was no support.

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And I, for me really noticed the huge, impact on my mental health and my physical

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health that losing that safety net had.

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So for me, I guess that was my in to kind of realise, okay, something's

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going on here without that support.

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And then speaking to mothers here in Ireland, friends that were all like,

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well, this is what I'm experiencing.

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And realising, okay.

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There's a whole nation here of women going through this and

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then, you know, it ripple's out outside of Ireland too, of course.

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I found the work of Julia Jones who I know that, you know, and trained

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as a postpartum doula, and really just understanding that this is

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a Rite of passage and this is a support that we really, really need.

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But I think there was still that niggle in me going, there's something

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not there's some piece of that puzzle, not there, there's something

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that I'm not understanding or that hasn't been explained of what it

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is that I'm experiencing here.

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I had that support and I still felt that split.

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I still felt a lot of that.

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So I guess, yeah, it was that at least gave me a sense of okay,

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something can be different here.

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Um, and then it was through discovering your work, actually, that the word

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matresence um, and I think it was a podcast you did with Julia Jones

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actually, that I heard the word, and I was like boom, that was it.

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This is the piece of the puzzle.

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This is giving me that roadmap.

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It's a little bit like a field guide where our experiences all a bit different,

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but it gives us this space to, to navigate it and a language for it.

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So I guess that's been my journey of it.

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I guess the beginning of the journey, because then you have to learn

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how to weave that in and you know,

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Let's see

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it doesn't stop there.

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And love that you call it a field map.

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That's a beautiful description of what this is.

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I'm interested to hear, if I may ask, about the difference of support that you

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obviously received in Germany, which was not familial, not friends, necessarily,

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not family, not grandparents, not sisters and brothers knocking on the door and

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knock in dropping over casseroles and those types of traditional support.

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And yet you felt that there was a safety net there for you.

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And yet when you returned to Ireland, the structural support, wasn't there, but I'm

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assuming you had family around as well.

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I think this is interesting for us to explore because we often, and

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I'm sure you hear this too Layla with the women and mothers you speak

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with, I often hear mothers say, but I'm so lucky I have my mother-in-law

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down the road, but I'm so lucky.

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I have so much family around me and I know so many don't.

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But, on my reflection, if the people around you don't know the process

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you're going through and don't know the, the real support that you

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need, that can have a great impact.

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And so I would love for you to just reflect for a moment on that

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experience of returning home to I assume, family and support.

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And yet the real postnatal understanding and language and

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safety net may not have been there.

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What's the difference between the two for you?

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Yeah, it, there is something different about, as he said, I have a lot of women

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who come to me for acupuncture and, you know, they say, oh, but I have,

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you know, X, Y, or Zed around helping.

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But there's something, in my experience, in Germany, the word

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midwife means with woman, and her role and her job is to be there for you.

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And there's something very different about that relationship, I think

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particularly as women, we find it, so well I do anyway, find it quite

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hard sometimes to accept, help.

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Or accept support or, you know, again, those should come in.

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I should be able to do this on my own or whatever, but having the permission

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really to give yourself over a little bit to somebody else, really made that huge

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difference to kind of, to, to know that for this period of time, you can play by

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a different set of rules and be cared for by somebody else who I don't have to in

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any way be beholden to or responsible for, you know, and they're giving over for me.

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That was huge.

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Um, so.

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Yeah, she was there entirely for me.

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You know, if the baby was happier in a drawer in my dresser, she would put the

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baby in my dresser, that's sounds wrong, to sleep, you know, to go to sleep.

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It was not about the baby.

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You know, she checked the baby was well and weighed it, did those things,

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but she was very much there for me.

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And, in Ireland, there were family around, we were in a new part of the country.

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I had some beautiful neighbors who were very kind, and again, it's

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as much in our own heads, I think sometimes, but we feel a little bit

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beholden or we feel I have to make you a casserole or, thank you so much.

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Or, no one is enough or whatever it is.

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So I think for me, that was the big difference.

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But also the expectation around it culturally, I think was huge.

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In Germany, there's 40 days called Vulcan bed and they're sacred.

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You take that time and everybody respects that, you know, and doesn't turn up and

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expect, tea and cake at 11 am, served by you a week after birth or whatever it is.

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You're crazy, and you'll be told to go home if you're spotted with

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a very new baby in a supermarket.

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Somebody will come up and say, what are you doing?

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Get home.

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Whereas in Ireland, it's a lot more, we need to be out, we should

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be, aren't you great you're back at your yoga class, whatever it is.

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So that expectation was very different as well.

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So true, so true.

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That cultural reverence of the space of postpartum is so different

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in so many different places.

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My own experience of my first child, I had gifts and snacks brought into

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my hospital room 24 hours after I gave birth to prepare for the extended family

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on my husband's side coming in, because it was assumed that I would provide

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snacks for them when they came in.

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And it was this, you know, well, now that you're the hostess for

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this, it's just, and none of it is done out of malice or anything.

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It's just a different assumption around this season that we're

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in, in this time that we're in.

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And I know that in your healing personally, and now the amazing work

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that you do with Mamas, both in your online communities and in your clinic.

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The importance of acknowledging where you're at in terms of the season of

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your life, the time of your life, what you need in this moment has become

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incredibly important and powerful.

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Would you like to share with us how that came about and what that has meant to you?

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Yeah.

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it's been, it's one of those beautiful things where there's so many, areas

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that have all woven themselves together, in this area of seasonality

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and the seasons of our lives.

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So my training is in acupuncture originally and, uh, specifically

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five element acupuncture.

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Like four seasons, we have five elements and five seasons associated with that.

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And the teaching around that is very much that each season is necessary for

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the one before it and the one after it.

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So it's all at a connected flow.

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So we need that cold retreat sharp, you know, still time of winter, in order

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for spring to come, if we don't have that cold on those bulbs in the ground,

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those blooms don't come in spring.

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If the spring isn't a good hard spring, the blossoms don't get

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to come out for summer, you know.

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And so there's this continual link.

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If the leaves don't fall, we don't have the rich soil on the ground.

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So there's this continual connection of everything.

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I was very much drawn to that, you know, mindset and approach, and in

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terms of we look in the world around us, but also within ourselves, as well.

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We have these seasons in a day.

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We have these moments, you know, of when we need to be yang and out and do and be.

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And unfortunately the world we live in asks us to do that all the time,

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but we also need these moments of retreat, these moments of letting

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go, these moments of stillness.

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So I found it a very useful framework that way.

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But then coming into an understanding of matresence.

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The two just sit so beautifully together for me and it's been so helpful to reflect

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on that and thinking of our matresence as a season of our lives in many ways,

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and of, of looking at somewhere as that time, when we've been flirty and out and,

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you know, doing and meeting people and it's yang and it's meeting our partner

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and it's, it's that fun often season of our lives that we, that we miss, perhaps

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when we enter that season of motherhood.

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But, we need to move on.

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And t hese shifts happen and we move into a space that is quieter, that's slower.

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That's that late summer time when we're reaping the rewards of

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everything, we're picking those apples from the tree, you know.

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And it's a very fruitful time and a stiller time.

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Um, and then moving into what we often experience in matresence, I think is a

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real retreat and a real, a darkness in many ways and a descent, which is winter.

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And for me knowing the importance of that winter phase and how we can't jump from

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summer or autumn, lots of us like autumn.

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We can't jump from there over to spring.

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We need to have that wintering, that descent, that retreat,

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that reflection, that stillness.

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In Chinese medicine, it's really associated with the essence of who

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we are, our DNA, the beginnings of everything, is that winter time.

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Our kidneys, our inner knowing, our inner knowledge, the beginnings of everything.

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And we need to go there.

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We need to understand who we are.

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So for me, matresence really fits into that, um, that arc and that story.

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And it's really comforting too, to know that spring comes, you

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know, we don't stay in that space forever, and that spring comes again.

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So, yeah.

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I think it's really comforting for us all to know that too.

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That, you know, as you were describing it, I think many of us miss the summer,

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as you say, when we begin to retreat and become, you know, go inside our homes,

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sort of not be as social with new babies.

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We, we miss that socialisation, that fun summer energy.

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And, in a way, if I reflect on my own experience, kind of tried to

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artificially manifest it in a way, like try to, how can I bring summer in now?

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It's this real level of acceptance of that has passed.

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That's okay.

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It will come back.

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But this is where I am now, isn't it?

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It's a beautiful analogy for the changes.

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You can't make summer last longer than it does.

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There's gifts in the autumn and winter.

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That will, if you honor them properly and really honor them, then the spring and the

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next summer will be even more beautiful.

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Yeah, I think it's, it's that piece as well for me is, is the

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value of it for the future and the value of it for moving forward.

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In the postpartum periods, there's a saying of 42 days for 42 years.

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So when we give that time for a moment, you know, that can be applied to

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matresence as well, that if we give ourselves that times to sit and be still.

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And that's scary sometimes, you know, to be still and not be doing and active.

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It's an investment and there's a deep knowing and an inner

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knowledge that we come to.

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And this, you know, that's where that spirituality comes as well.

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You know, that really deep understanding of who we are now.

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But then when we move forward and we step forward, we have that, and we

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carry that with us into a spring or summer and knowing there'll be more

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winters it's this cyclical thing that everything changes and, nothing

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remains forever is a really, for me an empowering and a beautiful thing.

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And so finally, what does this look like in your day to day life now?

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And how do you share this with others?

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Someone has listened, they really acknowledged this seasonal nature.

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They've acknowledged that split, that they feel within them and they

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really want to start honoring where they're at and who they are right now.

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What does it look like?

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Practically?

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For me, it's been really simple.

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I've got to simple after being very complicated about it all.

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Um,

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It's just in terms of being in the, the seasonality of things.

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Being present and being where we are now, and making that it's a little

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bit of an effort at times, but really just looking out I'm looking out

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my window here now, looking at and seeing what is there and being in it.

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So a lot of the women I work with, I say, why don't we go with 30 seconds

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with our socks off on the grass?

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Something really small that just brings us to where we are now and where we're at.

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And to follow our curiosity.

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So, you know, I can prescribe something to you and it doesn't mean anything to you.

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You're in a different season, you're across the world.

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But following our curiosity there and listening to what

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our bodies love, you know.

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You look at a baby and a baby loves something.

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So it does it over and over again.

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Or it knows that it loves something.

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And we have that in us too.

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So following our curiosity, um, with that, and we like the sun on

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our face, stand in the with the sun on our face, whatever it is.

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And then follow that path, that grounds our nervous system and

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the next step will appear with it.

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But starting really simple, and following curiosity, I

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think for me has been the key.

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I love that because each of us have our own internal seasons and

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elements that we need to get to know.

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And I think what I've really taken away from this conversation is this.

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Acceptance and trust that we have these changing elements in

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us within a day, within a month, within a year within our lifetime.

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And I know for me personally, I'm not always great with moving

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from one to the next, you know.

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The attachment to busy-ness, to productivity, even though I've

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been working on this for so many years, still comes up at times and

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to settle in the knowing that that productive season will return.

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But right now this is just as important.

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And in fact, the more I honour this season of quiet, of rest, of dark,

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whatever it is, the more I will be able to harvest on the other side.

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It's like one of my favorite things to say, when we rest, we rise and

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I think that's been even more, highlighted through this conversation.

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Thank you.

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Beautiful.

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Thank you.

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As I said at the start of this podcast, I love hearing the different

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insights that motherhood brings.

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Each of us have our own little awakenings.

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Sometimes it's around our body.

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Sometimes it's around our feminine energy.

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Sometimes it's around our money story and how we are so attached

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to earning our own money.

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For Layla, I love the way that she has connected the way that we change

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with the seasons, a way of really looking at where we are right now,

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accepting it, but holding out hope and knowing that the spring will come.

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You can find Layla's work on Instagram and online by searching for nua, nua.

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n u a n u a.

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Her website is nuanua.com.

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As always, please share this far and wide with every Mama you know,

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so these conversations can become more and more apart of our culture.

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Thank you for being a part of this conversation, Mama.

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We change the way mothers are valued and seen in our society and our world

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by bringing these conversations to light and spreading the whispers of matresence.

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And so I ask you to be a part of this movement now.

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Speak to others around you about matresence.

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About your experience of motherhood.

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Let's bring it to light together.

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To find out more about my matresence.

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Go to amytaylorkabbaz.com forward slashmatresence.

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And receive your free ebook the matresence map.

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So you can understand it even deeper.

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Thank you for being a part of this.

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Until next week.

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