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Karli Smith Doula

Shoes Have Ruined Us.

I was at the beach this morning with the kids. Our usual early-start antidote - with the bonus of coffee and minimal parenting required. Zoe was building sandcastles and decorating them with shells and sticks. Hair unbrushed, dress thrown on over bathers, shoes left at home (again). Jack was crawling his way down to the water in clothes damp from the dew still resting on the sand, exploring the feeling of squishing jellyfish in his little fingers, determined to make it to the line where the water meets the shore before I could grab him and ruin his grand plans of splashing.

I raised my eyes to the distance and noticed a group of people walking up. And another couple behind them walking their dog. There was something that looked weird but I couldn’t figure it out. Then I looked closer - they all had shoes on. 15+ people enjoying the cool but humid morning, chatting to each other, walking on the sand in an idyllic, serene location… with shoes on.

When did we stop walking on the Earth? Like actually walking on the Earth and simply enjoying the feeling of the coarse sand, the wet grass, the dry dirt? When did we become so incredibly disconnected from our Mother Earth, our life support system, the Womb that cradles us and breathes clean, fresh air into our lungs? When did we decide to cut the cord, that we were better off with a little distance between us? When did we decide it was uncomfortable or undesirable to simply BE and marvel at this mysterious Earth? When did Ryan Gosling become more beautiful to watch than a sunset? (Ok maybe that last one is a poor comparison)

Our relationship with discomfort is so poisoned, so misaligned, so tarnished, so inhibited that it is literally killing us and the planet. Have you heard of ‘grounding’? A fancy word that basically means, ’take your shoes off and put your feet on the bare ground’. Can you imagine how our ancestors would laugh at such a thing?

We have every flash technology available to us now to remove any ounce of discomfort we may feel - to skim over every moment that once would have captured a heart or breathed a connection into being. A tad warm or cool inside? Here, use your “climate control”. Feeling a bit annoyed at someone, and it’d be icky to bring it up? Don’t address it lovingly, just sweep it under the rug (but actually hold it inside for 10 years). Hard day at work? Here’s a bottle of wine. Headache? Don’t look at lifestyle - pop a pill. Stones a bit rough on the feet? Pop some shoes on to get to the mailbox. Period pain? Plug and Drug (instead of looking for the root cause). Physical manifestations of spiritual and emotional illness? Don’t worry, big pharma got you covered.

The way we have abused the Earth to ‘fulfil’ our physical and emotional needs, to increase our ‘standard of living’ (without asking WHOSE standard that is) is now coming at the most extreme cost imaginable. Our refusal to live with the Earth, to have a relationship with it, to experience it, to revere it, is resulting in its very breakdown.

The second saddest part is that by not leaning in to this human-on-earth experience, we are missing out on opportunities to alchemise our power and truly understand the magnificence of what it is we are doing here. Of where we fit.

We have removed ourselves from so many natural processes and connections that we actually are no longer practising What it Means to Be Human. We are now practising ‘What it means to be a human living in a human-controlled environment’.

Let’s start with the simple things.

Walking on the beach in shoes - we miss the chance to feel what sand feels like.

To our deep rooted connection to the planet and to all that is.

Rushing through the shower - we pass up the feeling of actually feeling the warm water on our skin.

Getting our phone out whilst waiting for someone to arrive - we miss the anticipation of being in their presence.

You know where this is going though don’t you, because you know by now that I am a birth nerd.

We have shrouded birth in the modern-day phenomenon of avoid-discomfort-at-all-cost. Avoid feeling all of the things to bring you back to Who You Really Are. Avoid and deny the messiness that arises when we are unprepared for the gravity and depth and light of what's to come. Avoid supporting others because we are so evolved now that we no longer need relationship or community to survive and thrive. Avoid investing in yourself and your own birth as a mother because, it's your healthy baby that really matters.

In the same way that we have disconnected ourselves from the land, sea and sky, we have disconnected ourselves from one of the most human experiences we have available to us.

When we pass off birth as ‘just one day’, ‘painful’, ‘get it over quickly’, ‘don’t be a martyr’, we pass over it as an experience with the potential to break you through to your inherent power as a human. To open your eyes to the mega strength that exists within you to Do Hard Things. To unpack the piles of bullshit you’ve been fed about your ability and your worth and your autonomy. To connect to the lineage of women who have gone long, long before us. To go deep into the recesses of your body and spirit and come out more capable and alive and connected than ever.

That all sounds a bit dangerous though, yes? I mean, imagine what society would look like if almost every birthing person was walking around standing in their true, authentic, authoritative power? If it was the rule, rather than the exception?

If instead of being traumatised by the experience, we were liberated?

When we pass birth off as a thing we don't have to feel our way through anymore (since we can just consume our way through it now, just like we're doing with the Earth) we contribute to the dehumanisation and de-spiritualisation of our generations.

I implore you to ask WHY this post-modern culture around birth exists.

WHY is it no longer universally sacred?

WHO does it serve?

WHERE is money being directed because of it?

WHO is being oppressed by it?

HOW is it that elites can speak of the wonder of re-birth in a metaphorical sense yet shun and spit on the birthing person’s rights?

WHAT is the consequence of robbing birthing people of their power?

This, all of it, has to stop. Because,

The further away we get, the further away we get.


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