Tuesday, July 12, 2011


On June 16th, 2011 – it was my birthday. Like anyone else I get lots of attention on this day: Good wishes, phone calls, cards and gifts. I even get news from people I haven’t talked to or seen in ages. There’s something about that day that makes me wish we could do this every day. Our western perspective is that on our birthday we should celebrate the passing of time. I assume the cake and gifts imply that everyone around us is happy that we are alive and part of their life story. I don’t know about everyone else but a part of me enjoys this attention and another part of me feels uncomfortable with it.

21 years ago when my children were born I realized that birthdays were a connection between parent and child. Every child birth is different and tells a story about the child and his/her parents. CT for example was born premature during a snowstorm by emergency cesarean. The morning of his birth I woke up from a dream, which literally told me: “Go to the hospital today is the day.” There was nothing wrong with me or the baby and I didn’t know how I would explain my impromptu visit to the maternity ward. Finally, I just got dressed and took the subway to the hospital. The last thing I wanted to do is disobey the dreaming. When I got to the hospital I decided to drop in at the pre-natal clinic. Since I’m diabetic I simply asked for a non-stress test. When they did the test they noticed that CT’s heart was in distress and sent me to the maternal ward. I was worried, but also incredibly appreciative towards my dreams. From there it moved quickly until he was born. CT’s birth story expressed a dream adventure, which had every detail meant for an action movie.

Every year after CT’s birth we tried through his birthday to remind him of his birth story. We obviously did the same with KT. The idea was to choose themes every year that would tell the story of their birth. I wanted them to get consciousness of themselves and their life story through their birthdays. I purposely and intentionally made of their day a gateway to their own power or medicine. The idea came from my Iroquois naming ceremony. LL an Iroquois teacher from Ontario did a naming ceremony at the Big Cove reserve in N.B. over a decade ago. I was fortunate enough to be a guest. At the ceremony there were a few families with their new born babies. I found it wonderful the way the elders found exactly the perfect names for these little ones just by listening to the child birth stories. Even my name fit me wonderfully.

For a while I was completely obsessed with learning more about the gestation and child birth process and how it affects the baby’s life story as well as the parents relationship to their child. For example I once heard a story about a woman who feared mice so badly that she somehow created a birth mark that looked exactly like a small mouse on her baby’s thigh. The child grew up and became fascinated about mice. During a sweat lodge this woman excitedly discovered that the mouse was her main totem. With this information she suddenly understood why her mother was constantly jealous and fearful of her. They had a difficult relationship. She was able to accept her mother’s limitations and let go of her resentment. This sweat lodge experience was incredibly healing for FD.

In some traditions it is believed that during the gestation period the baby’s soul actually travels by canoe from their world to our world, shore to shore. This journey is later repeated during the child’s incarnation. Like dreaming there’s a repetition of metaphors and these scenarios are etched with lessons, teachings, revelations, prophecies and healing. I’ve found through working with these stories along with my children that the stories even talk about past lives and show patterns that should be worked through and transformed. Stories of Creation can be amazingly helpful in self-discovery and great guidance towards self-emergence.

With both CT and KT I had dreamt about journeys by canoe. EC an elder, teacher and friend of mine explained that if I had these dreams it meant that my own soul had the memory of First Nation ancient creation stories. It made sense to me because often I dream in other languages and sometimes I even find the origin of some of the words I speak. Most every time it has been the Mic Mac language. In my case, it was my gestations, which synchronically lead me to explore deeper my Iroquois and Wabanaki ancestry. For example during the summer 1990 while I was pregnant with CT I participated in the Oka crisis. I seemed called to support this caused as if CT’s story depended on it. When you don’t live on a reservation it’s easy to disconnect from what goes on there and allow yourself to simply become a Westerner. I think we all do this. Unless we are tied to a strong cultural community, we often don’t explore the idea of culture at all. So many kids these days don’t even know about their ancestors and their stories. I understand the beauty of the melting pot concept but at the same time there wouldn’t be this beauty if at the bottom of the pot there wasn’t distinct four directions (yellow, red, black and white). I’m a strong believer in history and learning how not to repeat our same mistakes. It’s always made sense to me to explore the past and be more conscious of the part we play in our future.

I’ve always told my children that their birthday is my birthday as well. It’s the only day during the course of our life where we have no choice but to connect to the long line of people who came before us. For so many it brings up dysfunctional family issues. It’s hard to enjoy your birthday if you don’t get along with your parents or you’ve been apart from your family. On the other hand, it’s important to not forget that your story is bigger than what you imagine and it’s contained within your gestational journey from one World to another.

I often ask my children how they feel about the way they were brought up because it was obviously different than the upbringing of others around them. Each time they answer: “It’s badass cool!” I guess that’s a positive answer. ☺ I try to encourage parents to give their kids an heritage rather than just keep them entertained birthday to birthday. There’s nothing wrong with the balloons, the clowns, the magicians and the ponies; but we often forget that birthdays are more about umbilical cords, past lives, and family ties. A few years back a friend of the family told us that at every birthday one of her children would break a limb. It never failed. She enumerated each child (all four of them) and how they had broken an arm or leg, and at which birthday. It was kind of tragic. She told us that she feared birthdays now because it meant spending most of it at the emergency ward. We couldn’t help but laugh despite it all. What was even more amazing about the story was how 3 out of the 4 children were actually born with broken limbs. Caught in the birthing canal the doctor had to pull forcefully to get the babies out and each time it resulted into broken limbs. The children seemed to be repeating the story birthday to birthday.

When our friend asked us: “How do I stop the cycle?”
I suggested she explore their birthing stories: Hers and the one of her children. Both G and I have been trained to journey with clients into the dreaming and remember our canoe trip or the canoe trips of our children or ancestors. Once she surrendered to the experience she was quite impressed with what she found and most of all she was impressed with the simplicity of it. As it turned out the dreaming had suggested that she teach her children how to appropriately used their motor skills. Her kids were more spirit than body -- expressed the stories, and although that was beautiful to witness at times, it allowed too many weaknesses in the physical body. With a bit of research to identify synchronicities she was able to confirm the information. Eventually she got all of her kids enrolled in yoga classes and the following birthday were break free. For two of her kids this became a life changing experience so much so that one of them left home eventually to go study in Tibet.

Unfortunately most people don’t know what is hiding within their children’s birth stories. At birth, we all know that our babies are beautiful and incredibly special; but we don’t know to what extent they will develop this potential and emerge within their personal power. It’s a mystery. I’ve always believed that it’s our role as parents to guide our children and help them get access to their sacred circle. The more they know about themselves the more they’ll have the confidence to trust, to accept, to have courage and to act on what is theirs to act on… What is difficult as a parent is to master this role and be efficient in it. I always encourage moms and dads to reach out and get some resources. In Shamanism we initiate people to become healers, dreamers, firekeepers, shamans etc…. We believe that if individuals because strong on their personal wheel they’ll be strong in their daily living whatever they become: Accountants, carpenters etc…. and PARENTS.

I appreciated all of your good wishes on my birthday but like I said in the opening paragraph a part of me was uncomfortable. I asked myself the question for the first time in 46 years: Why?

Why do I harbor some unease when it comes to the way we celebrate our birthday? Most of it revolves around the idea of sacredness and meaning…. Taho!

P.S. This was the entry I was supposed to post before leaving for the Golden Workshop.


Rose said...

WHat a lovely post! Happy Birthday for a few weeks back. Yes there is always that slight discomfort at being the centre of attention. The rest however I had never thought about. The idea of empowering your children through their birthing stories is just so beautiful, in fact everything about this post is beautiful....

My Mother's blood pressure shot up so I was induced. My Dad came to see if she was alright and found himself being gowned up and pushed into the theatre to see me being born, much to his surprise! I was tiny and spent some time in a prem unit.

It never really occurred to me that everybody's birth stories would be so different. I hope more people write theirs here...

mel said...

this post really resonated with me.

my children were born very differently...my daughter in a hospital and then, because of that experience, my son was born at home.

i would be very interested to know how their birth journeys are informing their lives...even at the tender ages of 8 and 6.

and the experience of each pregnancy -- with my daughter i was so impatient to meet her! she was born at 37 weeks and i'm convinced it's because i wished her here sooner...which had consequences that contributed to the horror-show of the hospital..

my son, though - i was patient. i spoke to him as soon as i knew he was there and asked him to wait until his due date. he was born exactly then.

so yes -- i see so much truth and wisdom in birth experiences and stories...thank you for bringing it to light.

{i followed Rose here -- i'm so glad i did :D}

ps. happy belated birthday

Lili said...

ThankYOu for your blog story Lisa, I loved reading your stories xxx
I sat and wrote my own experiences to share and then lost all of the information. Prob too much info...
anyhow basically i wanted to share that once i began to read Shakti Woman it became an idea, that if you are not bleeding at your moontime because you are pregnant then how can you release those things that you have carried through the month. I felt the energy that would have been present during a pregnancy would surface inthe child. I see that to be true for me. Each time i carried one of my three boys i was a different person. Each labour unique, SW labour lengthy exceeding 30 hours though delivery very quick, DJ stuck in the birth canal, looked dead but given oxygen and survived and then IR (5hrslabour...really impressed with that ;-)) had to be pushed back inside because he tried to come out shoulder first...weird, i still cant imagine that lol. I had five midwives with me for his birth too...must be a record!
I know how i was during pregnancy has had an affect on my children, it is obvious as i see them live. I am not sure though the affect that the birth and delivery has had on them specifically.

Lili said...

I wonder if SW took ages to come would that mean that he was still deciding if he wanted to complete the canoe journey? Dj ...did he have second thoughts? Maybe? He took a long time to breathe...and Ir's shoulder coming out and had to go back in was he too eager?
I also think it is really special that each time we discovered i was pregnant it was when we had just lost a member of the family, literally straightaway...(is that what you call sacred mathematics?)I love this story. I see it as magical...in our family we grew up with a saying "one out one in" and for us as a family that's what literally happened...love it ;-)

THANK YOU Lisa xxx


Anonymous said...

i came to read this yesterday. it's stayed with me since then. and brought me back to a dream i had a few year ago, in which shark took me to her territory. that experience has stayed with me on a profound level and has been growing since, as she continues to teach me.. about stillness. how i find it relates to your story is in that, the whole experience was what i'd describe as being womblike. feels odd saying this, but i now know i didnt feel that stillness in the womb..my mam was far from still during her teenage pregnancy.. her own fears to deal with along with the predjudices/fears of those in her environment..the collective.

i was born with no skin on one side of my face.. a type of eczema, i'm told. it was raw for the first few years of my life, before it began to grow. i personally think, i'd carried that anxiety/discomfort/fear of people with me since then..and maybe even before then. shark, thankfully, most definatley came to help with healing.

your story here has triggerd these links. Thank You.

Lisa F. Tardiff said...

Great stories Rose, Mel, Lili and Ari.
I was actually sitting on the edge of my seat while reading your stories. They were great.

If you want to send me a more detailed story of your pregnancies or even birth story -- I could give you what I foresee as learning and healing for you in this life time... For that -- send your stories to wapeyit@hotmail.com

We definitely all have different birth stories and we all have different death stories as well. Even our LIFE stories are different ... Right? These stories speak of US -- our journey, our path and purpose and basically WHO WE ARE.


Anonymous said...

I was speaking to a friend of mine this weekend, and we were talking about our children. One of her children had lots of anxieties, and fears as a small child, He isn't as fearful now, but very cautious. He is now 10. I mentioned it might have something to do with his birth story, remembering you speaking of birth stories on occasions. I think I will refer her to your blog.
Great post.

Anonymous said...

forgot to sign

Lili said...

Hi Lisa, Thanks for the opportunity to send my story to you. I asked my Mum about my own birth story and she shared my birth was very straight forward and no complications. She fell over a few times whilst carrying me and was concerned but no problems or stress related issues. She did mention two things that stuck out in my mind, one was that i was born face down, as oposed to my sister born face up and she also mentioned that when Dad was given the opportunity to witness the birth he said no thanks and left the room. Apparently it was a new thing for men to be present at the delivery.

Lili said...

After sending my story to you i spoke with my Mum. It turns out after all these years i had one of my birth stories mistaken for the other. Thank Heavens for my mother and your blog to help me realise the truth.

Lisa F. Tardiff said...


I think that even confusing the birth stories plays an important role in the journey you are taking with your children.

Bringing the stories back in perspective definitely shows that these journey are always asking change, growth, trust and love from us. Healing is always part of whatever story we are looking at.

Keep exploring.
Keep healing.
Keep getting inspired by your story and the story of others.

Love to read you.

Lili said...

Thanks Lisa