I learned earlier this year that in addition to being “Hike Naked Day,” June 21st (summer solstice) is “National Seashell Day.” So, let’s shellebrate!
At first, you may wonder how this relates to doula work, but allow me a little time to explain.
For starters, notice how the National Seashell Day webpage created by our neighbors at Fort Myers and Sanibel has this amazing tagline:
“The best memories, like seashells, are found naturally.”
I would not be doing justice to the vast array of birth experiences women have if I claimed that this statement were also true for all memories of birth, yet, I will confess that for me personally and for many of my clients, natural birth has indubitably made for very positive memories.
But the real reason why I elected a humble seashell as the motif to define my brand lies elsewhere.
The shell, first immortalized by God, then Boticelli, and now, Tremendoulas.
A little over 4 years ago, Lydia, my dear old buddy from high school days drew this beautiful shell motif for the Tremendoulas logo. I recall how gushy we both felt as we came up with ideas for branding my new endeavor as a doula, both of us having creative backgrounds and loving the excitement of new challenges. I knew I wanted to avoid a flower or pregnant woman’s profile, which are both so trite in doulas’ logos, and I kept thinking of the beach landscape that surrounds my clients, as well as the beauty and dignity of the feminine rising to power through birth in a way that no man can do. Sandro Boticelli’s painting, The Birth of Venus, seemed fixed in my mind as important somehow, and when I mentioned this to Lydia, she bubbled up with enthusiasm, as it was one of her favorites, too. When she then appropriated the shell from Boticelli’s work, I knew immediately that it would forever identify my work, and, if I was lucky, occasionally attract the eyes of art lovers who just happened to be pregnant.
Here’s a tiny background on Venus, in case you’re unacquainted: she is the Roman goddess of love, sex, beauty, prosperity, desire and fertility. If I were a pagan, she would be the one I might worship.
Her birth story is odd, to say the least: she emerged from sea foam when her dad Uranus bled into the sea after being castrated by Saturn. If this were biologically possible, I of course would never wish it to be the birth story for any of my clients.
Nevertheless, I see Boticelli’s portrayal of her and think of the uninhibited women I’ve witnessed bringing life into this world. When they surrender to their instincts, call out their tantric vocalizations, and sway to and fro in the rhythm of birth, there is nothing more painfully beautiful. Incomparable is the ecstasy which follows the achievement of their big “O” (not that one — silly — the one where mom OPENS and delivers her baby, teehee).
Birth is about bringing forth that which we most desire. It is an act of sacrificial love. It is sexual. If Venus doesn’t represent the best of birth, I’m not sure who does.
Venus, however beautifully provocative she is, did seem a rather bit bolder than I desired for my simple logo, however. So, we settled on her seashell instead — a comfort to the senses and a symbol of the natural setting we’re lucky to refer to as our home. Seashells sound out a beautiful white noise when held to your ear, which can be helpful when all the external noises need to be hushed, so we can turn inward and listen to that most powerful little voice within.
The seashell may be insignificant to many, but to me, it inspires. Riding each wave gracefully to shore, the seashell reminds us that we can do the same through each contraction, each temper tantrum, and each of the other challenges we’ll endure through parenting.
And if this all sounds like baloney to you, I respect your opinion. You know, today is also Hike Naked Day!