In my 40’s, I thought I had achieved all the goals I had set for myself. I had a beloved husband, 3 great daughters, and had moved from the east coast to a beautiful property in northern California. I had been a nurse-midwife for 15 years, first in Cambridge, Massachusetts, then in Ukiah where I started a thriving clinical practice. Now, I want to tell you something. I LOVE being with women who are birthing. I love the rawness of the experience, the tenderness, the danger of the experience. I love standing as witness, as gatekeeper, as safekeeper as women sweat, labor, struggle, croon, scream, swear, sing their babies into the world. It is the most exquisite, gratifying thing in the world to witness a person being tested so intensely, and to bask in the freakin’ glow when that baby is born. But, in spite of all this, I started to become aware of this nagging feeling. I couldn’t put my finger on what it was. A feeling of unrest, of “Is this all there is?” I felt like I should be happy, and I was happy, but I wanted more and I didn’t know what that more looked like.
In the medical system in which I worked I didn’t have enough time to really attend to the deeper needs of women. In the course of seeing them through pregnancy and birth, I witnessed women facing painful pasts, deep challenges and inspiring rites of passage. I heard stories that inspired me and touched me deeply. I treasured these stories. They were deep, and tender, and real.
Unfortunately, in a busy medical practice, one doesn’t have time to really sink into these stories. Even more so, I didn’t have time to sink into my own life. I was doing the superwoman thing—working insane hours, baking cupcakes for school events, and not sleeping in the day after being up all night at a birth. I was trying to be both the perfect career woman and the perfect mom. What I didn’t realize was that my life was being run by externals: the expectations of family and culture that I had thoroughly internalized but weren’t necessarily born from my deepest self.
I didn’t know what the longing was, yet I sensed that if I didn’t figure it out, something in me would die. Little did I know that there was something in me that was screaming to be born. Some call this something our Daemon, or our Genius, or our Calling. I call it Soul—that part of us connected to Source, and yet completely unique to our own precious selves.
I had a 20 year practice of nature-based spirituality, and still I found myself seeking further. I knew that I had to leave the comfortable world of medical birthing. I felt lost as I let go of my familiar world. I dove deeply into a shamanic practice and nature-based wilderness quests.
Joseph Campbell calls this the Hero’s Journey. Women speak of Persephone’s Descent. It is a journey of leaving what is known and traveling an inner landscape in search of what is yours and yours alone to give to the world. In any case, I went on a journey of facing parts of myself that I didn’t want to face, and digging in dark places for parts of myself that shine. And like the protagonist in Paolo Coehlo’s The Alchemist, I found that what I was searching for was right here inside of me all the time.
What I discovered was I am a Midwife, through and through. But not only a physical midwife—now, I’m head over heals in LOVE with helping people who are struggling to, or creeping up on, or suspecting that NOW is the time when they must birth something new into being. A new SELF. A deeper self—one who is listening to that deeper, bigger, wider VOICE that some call Soul, or Source, or Inspiration, or Muse, or Deep Knowing. I don’t really care what you call it, but I’m here to help you connect with it, listen to it, and bring its gifts out into the greater world. I know all about gestating, and laboring to give birth to someone—especially your own precious Self.
I help midwife people who are choosing to say YES to birthing their own genius into the world. Because, you know what? We all need someone to stand beside us while we do the deep work. Someone who believes in us and who roots for us and who will tell us that yes we can do this big thing we are contemplating when we want to scream “I can’t!” or, “I don’t know how!” I love that wild, wonderful, messy process of giving birth! All of it!
I am Ellen Grossman, Threshold guide, Mentor, Guide to the wild. I started Stone Cottage Circles because I love creating the containers for bringing that which longs to be born out of the depths. To dar a luz—literally to give to the light that which is gestating in one. I believe we all have something within us that wants to be born.