we are back with the second installation of the wanderlust mothering series. let's meet Brynne, with her riveting life experience with partner, Alex and their son, Reef.
Brynne and I met in Honolulu about oh gosh, 6, 7 years ago, through mutual friends, then met again several times over the years in very different circumstances - like a movie reel of notches that happens in your life! young unraveling life, yoga life, mama life. she's this peaceful soul who i wish i had more time to sit with, a woman who is smart, driven, purposeful, easy going mellow yellow, passionate. and now with a family for whom radiates such positivity and earthiness that you want as part of your group of people you raise your kids around - you know what i mean? there's this sense of cultivating carefully the people with whom we'd want our kids to have conversations with and be inspired, and each of them this great addition to the universe and your own little 'village'? i feel strongly about such things, mainly because i grew up with my parents surrounding me by amazingly interesting people with such rich tapestries, rich life experiences, rich histories and backgrounds. i was motivated, moved by the many people i encountered at moments in time at places like moonlight parties in the thousand islands of indonesia speaking with dutch, canadian, american expats talking my ten year old self about the meaning of cultivating the now while staring at a million stars. epic.
Brynne and i, we have had i think, such similar personal circumstances and outcomes yet of course our own in the midst of it. the last time i was in honolulu and saw her was at a prenatal yoga class and she was close to having reef and i was in the first trimester with veda. we've stayed connected through online and i swear this woman and i share so many ways of mothering, parenting philosophy, wanderlusting, the connection to hawai'i and what it means to us and raising kids there, as well as yoga and finding meaning and peace in our day to day with our kids, oh, and including sharing the best midwife to have walked this planet (!) i could go on and on with why you should love this woman and her tribe, but i'll let you all get a sneak into what motherhood means to her and how she lives her life. aloha.
On The Beginning
Alex and I met in 2003. Washington DC. He was an intern at the Department of Education. I was an intern with a International Development NGO. We had an intense tango for 6 months. Then he went back to Arizona to finish his last semester of university at the University of Arizona. I stayed living and
working in DC.
|brynne + alex in Morocco|
I have been in the world of birth over the past decade. I have been a pregnancy yoga teacher and doula supporting women in what I believe to be the most monumental transition of their life, becoming a mother. I feel that America has failed us women through our years of academia in never
taking the time to educate us about birth and what our choices and options are. As a result, I feel passionate about the necessity of education around child birth practices so that women are able to make empowered decisions around their birth.
|portlock, hawai'i || 28 weeks pregnant with Reef|
When it became my turn to make a decision for how I would ideally like to welcome my child into the world, my partner and I decided that a Home Birth was best suited for us. We made the decision to have a home birth with Midwife Dr. Lori Kimata of Sacred Healing Arts. My doula was my cousin Mara who is only 2 weeks younger then I am (there was not a question in my mind that I needed her there to support the transition of my child earth side). My labor was very 'normal' and after 13 hours of active labor (2 hours of pushing) we were blessed with Reef Alexander at 3:10am, born on my yoga mat onthe floor of our bedroom. Our experience was beyond amazing it was by far one of the hardest things I have done physically/mentally and by far the most rewarding thing I have every done! Both my partner and I agree that we do it all over again if we were to have another child.
On The Reality of Motherhood
You spend 10 months preparing for childbirth. That is the EASY part. My 14 hours of unmediated birth was far easier then the past 16 months. The job of a mother is by far the toughest job I have ever loved. I have practiced more yoga (and I can count on 3 hands how many times I have been in a yoga class) over the past 16 months then I have in my decade of teaching and 13 years of practicing yoga (both physically and spiritually). My son is an amazing little soul, and I believe I am equipped with all of the tools (yoga teacher) to perfectly deal with him and myself. Reef has never slept great and since he came into the world has been a highly emotionally sensitive and needy little man.
|kawela bay, north shore oahu || hawai'i|
I have exclusively breastfed reef over the past 16 months. I am a working mother (I went back to work after 4 weeks off), so I pump at work; it started with 3 times per day and now I am down to 1 time per day) so Reef has been able to enjoy my breast milk when I am away from him. I wouldn't have it any other way. The bond (and not to mention the amazing nutrition) that breastfeeding has brought to Reef and I can't explain in words. However, I can't deny that it has been a tremendous amount of work and there are moments in certain days that I feel literally as if all life has been sucked out of me.
My partner and I are passionate that our child should learn a second language from birth. So we made the decision to hire a Japanese speaking Nanny. She has been a vital part of our family and we can't express the amount of gratitude we have for her. Since I am a small business owner and my husband has a more rigid schedule (he works at the Bank of Hawaii) I have the luxury of creating my own hours. So I work from 06:00am to 2:00pm. My husband drops off my son to our nanny at 7:00am and I pick him up at 2:00pm. I only work Monday-Thursday and on Friday I take the day off and pretend to be a stay at home mom : )
|waimanalo, oahu || hawai'i|
My legacy work was founding a non-profit organization (Stretch Your Imagination) that places yoga based health and wellness programs in Hawaii's schools with a focus on under services schools. Hawaii is an interesting school climate. We have some of the best private schools and we rank worse in the public schools. Since I am exposed to both private and public environments it makes it very difficult for me as a parent to not feel torn about where I will educated my child. However, when I dig deep I get honest with myself as much as I would love to send Reef to Hanahauoli or Punahou [private schools] it is my job as an educator and parent to place my child in the public school system, be HIGHLY involved and help to shift and change the current paradigm. I could give $10k to a public school half the tuition of a private school and give services like Stretch your imagination to 500 children not just my own.
I travel for work and since I am exclusively breastfeeding I bring Reef along with me. I think he has more stamps in his passport at 16 months then many adults acquire in their life time. We try and squeeze in as much playtime as possible when on our trips and when he can my husband tags along. We have an on going motto in our household "work hard, play always" When not globe trotting and at home in paradise we love to spend our time with nature.
On Rhythm + Passions
We frequent the beach and the mountains. Both my husband and I love to surf and so it has been our priority to integrate water into Reef's life early on and he definitely lives up to his name. He LOVES the water. We also do a lot of hiking. Its a great way for mommy and daddy to exercise and Reef
to get exposed to the elements and take in the fresh air. As an advocate for health and welness we love to eat well. I spend my sundays...and many days at Whole Foods (Reef thinks he has 4 homes: 1548 Paula Dr., airplanes, the beach and Whole Foods). I love to let go of my day by spending time in the kitchen preparing dinner, decompressing with Alex about our days and watching Reef play. We try and eat as organic and local as possible. We have an evening ritual we call it BBB (boobie / book / bed) reef, alex and I all crawl into bed I nurse reef while Alex reads him a book and he goes to sleep.
|kawela bay, north shore oahu || hawai'i|
[in parenting there is] the UNEVEN WORKLOAD! I recently read a book Brain Rules for Babies by John Medina and it was a revelation for me when I came upon this quote "70% workload increase". Alex is an amazing partner, husband, father but there is nothing he can do to do the amount of work that I do. I remember at one point when reef was 11 months old calling Alex from Japan and telling him Icould no longer give the amount I was spiritually, mentally, physically, financially.
We realized as a couple that what I was experiencing was normal but also a direct result of not having family in Hawaii to help us. We are all about making solutions to our problems. So what we decided would help even out the work load was for us to hire our nanny on a more full time basis so that I
could not only go back to work but get back to myself (i.e. back to my yoga practice). We also have reached out to a core group of our friends who we consider to be our family and we try and get together with them every Sunday (we call it Salmon Sundays) we grill fish, play games and hang out. Both of
these solutions have taken so much weight off of my shoulders and helped me to become a better mother, wife, and more importantly person to myself.
The only thing constant in my life has been change. Sometimes I am able to embrace the changes and at other times there is deep resistance. However, no matter how light or dark the times are, I have this amazing practice of yoga which is steady, consistent, and deeply rooted within me. The breath, the
postures, the relaxation all having been amazing tools in supporting me through the transitions of pregnancy, labor and motherhood.
~ brynne caleda, M. Ed., RYT
if you'd like to learn more about Brynne, you can visit her here and at stretch your imagination to see what these programs are about.
she also has a prenatal dvd on amazon called Omolulu - Yoga for Pregnancy
if you missed last week's first wanderlust motherhood series on france, you can read about Christine's experience here