Transmutation

Photo by  Velizar Ivanov  on  Unsplash

Thank you for all your patience as I've been largely quiet these last few months. The business and my personal life have been in the process of initiating a large transition. We are moving out of Minneapolis, MN and into the Claremont/Pomona/Laverne area of Southern California beneath the San Bernardino mountains!

I have been so honored to be able to work with the individuals and families that I have since moving to the Twin Cities in 2013! From playing a small role in state policy for the integration of medical and mental health in this state to being present for some amazing births, profound losses, and incredible entries into parenthood, La Loba Health & Empowerment found its footing in the Twin Cities. Thank you for letting me serve and fight along side you for the sexual health and reproductive justice that our community deserves! 

This is not the last time you'll see me by any means. There are so many wonderful community partners and amazing projects that have been started! I will definitely be back around and in better form. 

Along with this physical move, La Loba is going to be undergoing its own philosophical transmutation! The business will be getting a more focussed mission and set of services, as well as a new name to embody! Not to worry, this shift will simply allow me to bring you more of what you love and what I am passionate about from what I already offer. 

By the end of August our family will be taking off on a 6-8 week road trip adventure to truly reconnect with nature and loved ones before settling in at our new destination near family. You can follow along on instagram as we and the business take on our new form. 

Con amor y lucha, 

Daniela 

Why I Created the "Healing Your C-section" Workshop

I’ve had two births that were planned as home-births but due to rare medical anomalies, they each transitioned into C-sections. But during and after each unique birth, I’ve learned so much about my body, the medical system, and our societies’ ability to support women during and in the aftermath of a C-section birth.

What Nude Modeling Taught Me About Birthing

My sexual health knowledge and comfort in my own skin allowed me to stay more grounded and fully present throughout a very painful induction procedure where my concha was on full display, throughout the birth itself, and throughout each of the skin to skin/breastfeeding sessions we had in the ICU. I stayed in my own power while medical professionals poked and prodded and questioned my body, before and after birth. This gave me the agency I needed to reduce my own trauma in a very vulnerable and unpredictable situation.

Being Spiritually & Socially Woke

In both the social justice crowd and in the spiritually focused crowd, I've witnessed a lot of hesitancy to understand the philosophical stances that the other side holds regarding the world around them. As a public health consultant, birth worker, sexual health educator, and Latinx in pursuit of my ancestral knowledge, I constantly straddle both worlds of spirituality and social justice (as do many of my colleagues). And I do not believe that they have to be as separate as they tend to be. In fact I believe that through bringing spirituality and social justice together, we can make powerful progress toward justice and enlightenment through creating grounded, supportive platforms that we all desperately need.

The first steps for my folks who are primarily focused on spirituality...

Attach & Release

Motherhood requires us to learn lessons in attachment and letting go before our children are even earth-side. Once we've decided that we want to birth and mother the child growing in our womb, we must begin to balance the opposing possibilities of the future. We hold space for all of the incredible love, the hope, the dreams of this child, of their birth into this world, and of our growing families. Simultaneously, we are required to hold space for the possibilites illness, death, and destruction that can come with birth and life itself. Mothers of color and families of color, especially Black mothers in this country face the intensity of this tenfold. The polarity can be extremely overwhelming. And yet, every day people with wombs do this all around the world at the same time that they traverse the society around them.

La Loba Speaks... To My Birth Story

"But," I said, "I still feel like my body betrayed me. I kept her healthy. I ate well, I drank plenty of water, I exercised, and I was really good at deterring any anxiety while baby was in there. Okay, so I maybe I could have avoided a few deserts and I know I could have done more yoga. But through the Fall and those harsh Winter months I took really good care of me to take really good care of baby. I made sure all was well and we were starting out on a good foot. I did everything right. And still, my body betrayed me."

"Well," La Loba says, "this is something you had to go through. This is something you had to learn. There are many valuable lessons in this rare situation, especially if you are going to become a midwife as you were preparing."

"But," I plead, "why couldn't I learn of this rare disease as most providers do, in a book or literature review? This isn't fair. I'd give anything to start over. But what's worse is, they say there was nothing I could have done to prevent it and it's not even genetic. My body attacked herself... me... she stole my opportunity."

La Loba asks, "Your opportunity for what my dear?"

Why La Loba?

La Loba by Almariita at Deviant Art

La Loba by Almariita at Deviant Art

Do you know the story of La Loba? La Loba lives in the high desert, in the low desert, along river banks, and in all the wild, terrible, beautiful spaces of la tierra. She is the one who brings sacred, buried things back to life. Her work is to unearth and collect the bones, the treasures that are no longer visible to the naked eye. When she has all the pieces of a buried criatura assembled, she uses her breath and her voice to coax and guide them into resurrection.

In my work, I see women and all gente who can get pregnant, in some of the most vulnerable and some of the most powerful moments of their lives. I witness and stand with them as they make some of the most difficult decisions of their lives. I hold space for them through the transitions of planned loss, pregnancy, and unplanned loss. I guide and support them as they journey through the beautiful and painful transformations that come with creating new life. I see women and all birthing people, in hospital rooms, in birth centers, and in their homes. I also see behind the curtain of writing health policies through research. 

A common thread I bare witness to time and again in all of this work, is the lack of confianza. The lack of trust we have in ourselves, in our bodies, and in our intuition. It is one and the same, this trust. It is the ability to travel within and follow ourselves to gain knowledge. It is the radical ability to see a reproductive body as sovereign y sagrado to it's owner, trusting their self, and their intuition as the ultimate guide.       

We have been taught that knowledge about our body has to come from the formal, colonized, education system in order for it to be valid. That knowledge is confined to those with specific, expensive degrees, who have been taught to wield it as their power. The system is set up for us to take whatever they are willing to give us, sin preguntas.

In its current form, this information is not only inaccessible to the masses, it is fractured for everyone. It is fractured in both those who have access to it, and those who don't. Those with the specific, expensive degrees do not know how to trust their bodies any more than those without the degrees. And without the ability to gain knowledge through a deep trust in the body, in the self, in the intuition, we cannot fully heal ourselves or anyone else. This trust is a treasure and without it, our knowledge cannot be whole.

Without it, we will continue to have medical systems and laws based on the distrust of women and all people who can get pregnant. We will continue to use medicine to control the body rather than to empower it. We will continue to have people be violated as they traverse some of the most vulnerable and powerful times of their lives, leaving them lost and broken. We will continue to violate mother earth herself. Our lack of trust in the body, in the intuition, in the self, is reflected in the way we treat our Madre Tierra. The rhythms of mother earth are not trusted nor are they being followed. 

It is La Loba's work to unearth the buried bones of this trust. It may not be visible to the naked eye, but I feel it rising all the time. I use my intuition, my matriz, and the data that is accessible to me through my expensive degree to traverse the landscapes of government, hospitals, clinics, birth centers, homes, and individuals to dig up bits and pieces of this treasure. I ground my work in the data, and I make it accessible to everyone along the way. Whether I am teaching a class, conducting research,  mothering someone as they, themselves are born anew into parenthood, or I am empowering them to heal and reintegrate their sexuality after their journey of loss or birth, I am at once utilizing and teaching trust in the body, in the intuition, in the self. 

In the reproductive body, it is the womb, the matriz, that is the center of creation and the center of intuition. It is in this deep shadow of the body where our trust must be resurrected. 

La Loba Health & Empowerment is radical care grounded in data, elevated through intuition. #followyourmatriz

La Loba is Evolving!

When I began La Loba Health & Empowerment in January 2016, the goal was to work on the things that I'm skilled at and passionate about in a way that made sense for me and my family. And I have done so. But the truth is, I have also still been clinging to the safety of work that does not light me up while trying to follow my passions on the side. This has left me spread thin and questioning the quality of each project.

Don't get me wrong, I am not above taking the work that I need in order to pay the bills and make ends meet. I've done this for many years. But in March of 2015 my life came very close to ending during my baby's birth and I swore I would never again take my time here for granted. I planned to take more of the risks necessary to live passionately and fully. For it is when I am fully standing in my truth and allowing my real voice to be heard that I feel my best and that I am able to make the biggest difference in the lives of those around me. So with the support of my wonderful life partner, I began this amazing little business! Yet the life and death lesson that seemed so crystal clear at the time, began to fade as financial stress and the illusion of safety swayed my decisions in much of the work I sought and accepted.  

So I've taken a step back to tune into my matriz, my intuition, and refocus La Loba. Yes, I've used spreadsheets and logistics to make life decisions in the past and they are always a part of my basic strategy. But I know it's only when I allow my intuition to elevate those strategies that I  discover the juiciest adventures.

So I am following my matriz! While the vast field of public health, with it's social justice philosophy and research methodologies, will always be the backbone of La Loba Health & Empowerment, the leading focus of each research project, consultancy, class, coaching, or workshop going forward, will be sexual and reproductive health and justice. New offerings are in development and I hope to be providing more of my written work here.

Thank you so much, to all of my clients, followers, and supporters!!! Mi gente, with the change of seasons, we too are transforming. And you are the reason I am so excited to continue this evolution!!! 

In love,
En lucha, 
Daniela
 

 

 

Use your platform, no matter the size!

It is so daunting. This horendous problem. These terrible injustices. Our broken society. Our broken hearts. How do we even begin to heal a trauma so vast? How do we change the racism that has been so deeply embedded in our society for generations? How to we put an end to these horrifying acts of violence? I know it's easy to get weighed down by these massive questions.

My soul is heavy. My heart feels like it's ripping. I wonder if my words will express correctly what I'm trying to say. I wonder if my words could possibly be enough to make any bit of difference. And I really hope I don't f*%K this up. Because I'm human and it can be scary to speak up and speak out. But what's scarier is what will happen if we don't say or do anything. If we allow this trauma, this ache, this anger, this fear to fester inside of us it will find it's way out in terrible ways. If we push it down, if we shield our eyes to the atrocities around us, if we choke down what needs to be said, if we deny what needs to be done, it will come back to us in a hateful world of our own making. Silence is dangerous. Paralysis is not an option. 

Black people are dying at the hands of those sworn to protect them. And violence is begetting violence. People of color have been disproportionately dying at the hands of the government since the founding of this country. This is not new but it is finally being publicized in a way that nobody can deny it. We must take this sense of urgency that has been missing and use it to take action. Now!!! 

Use the platforms you have. Paint, write, march, use social media (in your voice), make this conversation a part of your normal dialog with coworkers, friends, and family. Yes, it will be tough at times. You will mess up and you will most likely come to realize some things about yourself that you hadn't before. That's okay. When that happens and you not only face it, but you own it, that's where real change comes. 

Public health professionals, it IS our duty to address this endemic infection. As Nancy Krieger, PhD,  says in her 2015 paper Police Killings, Political Impunity, Racism and The People's Health: Issues for Our Times, we have "the capacity - the analytic tools, the data, and the knowledge - to make the connections palpable - and actionable - between the many forms of racism, whether structural, everyday, gendered, or environmental, and the myriad ways they become embodied and manifest as health inequities". 

Birth-workers and reproductive justice advocates, this IS about reproductive justice! Everyone is somebody's baby. Mothers should NEVER have to birth their beautiful black and brown babies into a world where they worry and prepare for the possibility of such tragedies as those endured by the families of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile this week. We have a voice in our communities and we are the healers that know how to hold space when our mamas are hurting. 

Sexual health educators, this IS about a breakdown in the capacity for human connection. We loose the basis of sex positivity when that rudimentary ability for empathy and connection is lost. This must not be an oversight in our lesson plans; from the way we present culturally conscious  information to the conversations we have the ability to start, we must address this. 

As a public health professional, as a birth worker and reproductive justice advocate, as a sexual health educator, and as a light-skinned Latina mother of a gorgeous brown baby boy, I promise use my privilege and my voice. 

Whoever we are, whatever we do, we have a voice and a responsibility to use it no matter the size of our stage. 

~Daniela