The Personal Statement

This last winter, I applied to Bastyr University's Naturopathic Medicine program, with the intention to enroll in the dual-track program studying Naturopathy and Midwifery. Like any other higher education application, the process was multi-stepped to prove that I had prepared adequately for my entrance into medical school -- including the need for me to write a personal statement, secure letters of recommendation (one of which I was proud to solicit from a previous doula client), adequately display my work history, submit my college grades & standardized test scores, etc. In the process, I was asked by a former professor to write a ten-year plan, with the dual purpose of personal exploration of my goals and to inform him of my trajectory for his letter of recommendation. Below is statement I submitted to him, and later to the admissions committee.

"In uncovering the great depths of my personality for the last few weeks, I have come up with some thoughts of what my future holds for me. The following is based on the excavation of my past experiences, the evaluation of my current trajectory, and the expansiveness of my future potential.

For me, life isn’t about learning better, further, or more than others; it is about learning differently and sometimes in several directions at once. Like the curl of smoke that comes off a smoldering ember, my path is multidimensional and elusive, expanding and contracting, bending and fading. I have difficulty concisely expressing my vision for my future; my natural inclination is to be effusive, abstract, and to speak in metaphor/parable. There is nothing linear about my path; and to describe it as such is nearly impossible for me to do. Instead, I wish to point out what I know to be true of myself, and how the pursuit of education, professional, and personal development will craft a future suited for none other than myself.

Above all, this assignment has offered me a significant amount of time to reflect on what it is about me that makes me apposite for an education in naturopathy and midwifery. Meditating on this idea, I have determined that it is the education and practicing philosophy of naturopathy/midwifery that is well-suited to the person I am becoming.

I am a great dreamer, “doer,” counselor, idealist, reformer, and helper. In another time, I would be called a healer, curandera, medicine woman, sage femme, or shaman. As a medicine woman pursuing the technical knowledge to practice my craft, I work intensely and cooperatively with those in my community. In times of contention or stress, I am an activist, challenger, and champion of the oppressed and downtrodden. In times of growth, I am an individualist -- pursuing my personal, authentic truth with fervor and conviction. In my work with others, I am a networker and quiet leader -- building systems that are founded in human beings and values.

Regarding my personal development, I explore the great depths of my personality, intuition, and integrity -- all of which are intricately and deeply woven, mysterious, and highly complex. I live in a world of hidden meanings and possibilities -- which contribute to my rich inner life. From this world springs forth the conditions that keep me in a constant state of self-renewal -- where my tomorrow is impossible to predict, and the only constant is my unwavering sense of self. I define my life’s work as this continual growth -- searching for my unique identity and place in the world, and constantly defining this better. Though I do not often take time to revel in my individual accomplishments, I am proud of my authenticity, respect my benevolence, and am confident in my ability to empathically connect with others. I possess a strong desire to contribute to the welfare of others while pointing out human potential. The successful outcomes of the relationships I foster are hard to measure in strict numerical terms -- but the successes of my efforts are undeniable.

I look to my future role as a medicine woman, knowing that the success of a midwife or naturopathic physician is more often measured anecdotally. This measurement is often taken for granted or dismissed as irrelevant. But, as has been known for many hundreds of generations, the contributions of the midwife and naturopathic physician to society and medicine are vital and profound. While I do not anticipate that my work will make me rich in monetary resources, I know that my work as a medicine woman will make me rich in experience and spirit.

The fields of naturopathy and midwifery are reaching a turning point in this country. As the conversations about accessible, culturally competent, patient-centric, holistic health options are simmering, students of complementary health services will have the unique opportunity to directly shape the vision for what healthcare will look like in this unfolding era. Working towards the goal of reimagining “medicine” in this country will necessitate students to stand alongside their trained colleagues, demanding the reduction in disparities and an expansion of educational and professional standards to include the vision of whole health. The climate of this conversation taking place in these coming years will determine the challenges that will be present for my future practice, and I look forward to standing on the frontlines of change.

I fully anticipate that these conversations will take me far and wide, to ensure that different perspectives and expertises are brought to the table. This will mean working within different communities of people, experiencing their cultures and helping create the connections. I imagine that my role will require a combination of leadership and work in education (as student, mentor, and educator), policy, research, and program development. My interests, resourcefulness, and previous experience in all of these modalities of advancing change will allow me to make nothing less than a significant impact. I look forward to the opportunity to pursue my clinical trainings in locations around the globe -- bringing my curious and capable hands to every corner of this world.

In the coming years, I will be dedicating the majority of my time to accruing the education and skills necessary to be a holistic healthcare provider. My current focus is holistic well-woman care, but I am not limiting the scope of what I will learn by what I already know -- the benefit of the diverse educational modules at Bastyr University is that I will have an opportunity to sample multiple approaches and modalities of holistic care. During my education, I fully intend to continue the work I do as a full-spectrum doula; bringing my skills to the Seattle community, I have already made contact with colleagues who are interested in folding me into their already existing practices. My current business will not suffer from my transition, as my partners and I are developing a program that will continue to grow; this will offer me an opportunity to step out of the day-to-day logistics, and focus on the growth of the practice as a big-picture consultant.

My vision for the practices I will build is based on the collaborative efforts of many -- from my current doula practice to the practice I will build as a naturopath/midwife. Looking forward to the future, I can easily see myself as an organizer, knitting together a practice that includes naturopaths, midwives, doulas, body workers, therapists, etc. -- a veritable one-stop-shop for the celebrations and support of vitality and health for all folks throughout the reproductive and sexual health spectrum.

Amongst all of these considerations, I am currently plotting my personal trajectory as a mother, partner, and community member. I have considered myself a conscious parent for many years, and share in an open dialogue with my partner about our choices in childbearing and parenting. Every day I am reminded of the turning wheel of life/death, and rejoice in the support that I have built for when I do choose to transition from my role as a childless parent. As a partner and community member, I surround myself with those who understand my vision for my future and the roles we play in each others’ journeys.

A founding tenet of naturopathic medicine and the midwifery model of care is that healing and health are founded in the power of self -- all strategies of care are founded in bolstering and supporting the endogenous vitality and innate healing powers of the individual person. The medicine woman’s most effective and efficient tools are gentle, integrative, holistic, and personalized; her focus is on prevention and balance. I do not look at the credential as an ending point in my journey to becoming a healer. Any holistic healer would tell you that formal education is just one stroke of the brush -- there is so much to be learned from so many different venues. The aim is to create balance, practice flexibility, and embrace variability in my educational, professional, and personal development. While I anticipate a great transition with my pursuit of this educational path, I also know that no seed can bear fruit until it first dares to grow roots and shoots." --Jessica Gee, 2013, Letter written to Dr. John Troidl



The Earth Quakes, and She Shakes

BIG THINGS ARE HAPPENING at Pacific Doula Services!

Stay tuned to the updates as they unfold (blog, Facebook).


CPR Education -- for FREE!

I am of the opinion that everyone should know how to provide basic, effective life-saving techniques like CPR. While becoming CPR certified can seem restrictive to some (because of cost, time commitment, scheduling conflicts, etc.), the University of Washington Medical School has been gracious enough to offer a free web-based CPR education service.

They have ... CPR Demos for Infants, Children, Adults, and even Pets!

They have ... CPR Videos of their Demos

They have ... iPhone and Android apps for your smart phone! Put an icon on your phone's homescreen -- encourage your friends and family to do the same.

Thanks, UOW!


The Birth Survey: Where consumers report and research maternity care in the US

Share. Connect. Learn.

New parents have a lot to navigate when it comes to selecting a care provider or institution for the birth of their child(ren). While assessing their own personal philosophies and needs, new parents are often confronted with weighty conversations that influence their selections, including (but not limited to):

  • expectations and input of family/friends
  • the personal experience of family/friends
  • the available and/or accessible local services
  • feedback about local services (personal endorsement, Yelp reviews, other consumer reports, etc.)
  • listserv and group discussions of peers
  • provider lists offered by local coalitions/organizations

Many of the families that we work with speak to us about the various means and methods that influence their decision on selecting providers and institutions -- and while this friend might have LOVED her OB, and this sister-in-law's hairdresser's niece might have sworn by this hospital or midwife, we encourage our families to take a look at the work that is being done at The Birth Survey.

In 2006, the Coalition for Improving Maternity Services (CIMS) kickstarted the Transparency in Maternity Care Project -- the shining jewel of the project being the Birth Survey. The program reinforces the belief that families must have access to information that will help them choose maternity-care providers and institutions that are most compatible with their own philosophy and needs.

As a doula and student midwife, I believe that it is necessary for folks to have access to information that will help them make fully informed maternity care decisions.  

Women need accurate, objective data in order to make fully informed choices about birth settings and providers. Practitioners and hospital administrators also need data to evaluate whether they are delivering quality care. We hope this project will fill a void by providing much needed information that benefits all parties engaged in maternity care.

If you are a family that has given birth in the last three years, take the survey and contribute to the growing consumer voice.

If you are a family that is currently researching care providers and institutions for your upcoming addition, check out the data that The Birth Survey has already collected.

If you are a healthcare professional and institutions, learn how you can better serve your clients and patients!


I Dream of Placenta

Last night I processed a placenta for a marvelous family welcoming their second bambini into the world. Mama worked hard, and deserved a restful night cuddling with her babe -- so I headed home to process her placenta.

Amongst the smell of homemade stuffing (that my sister/roommate had roasting in the oven) and the crisp winter-chilled air, I worked and contemplated the power of the placenta. When my evening's work was completed, I retired to bed -- ready for sleep.

While the dehydrator hummed away on the yellow granite countertop through the night, I dreamt of placenta -- this large deep red pillowed cloud which we all rested upon. She fed us, cooed us to sleep; and we rested, sure and still. I could feel her sonorous pulse syncronized with mine, and yours. Softly cradled, we slept.

This morning, as I put the finishing touches on the tincture, salve, and capsules for this mama, I felt the familiar warmth of gratitude sweep through me as I remembered my dream.