On Becoming a Doula!

Before I even knew what it was called I long wanted to support a woman in giving birth. Last week my dream came true!

It was a wonderful experience! A birth doula is a trained companion who is not a healthcare professional and who supports a woman through pregnancy, child birth and the postpartum period. Doulas can also provide support through other significant health-related experiences, such as miscarriage, induced abortion or stillbirth, or non-reproductive experiences such as dying.

My dear sister friend blessed me with the opportunity to perform doula duties for her throughout her pregnancy. She gave me permission to share these photos. I couldn’t have asked for a better mother for my first doula experience!

The mom did an amazing job! We took this picture on the way to the hospital. Labor had begun.
The Miracle of Birth!

For the past 6 months we studied and prepared for the birth. We read lots of articles and books, watched YouTube videos and most importantly, took a course in hypnobirthing. I was there for the actual birth and am also providing support to the new mommy and baby.

Birthing Day!
1 Week Old! Mommy and baby are doing well!

I am really excited to be starting a formal course of study to become a certified doula. I look forward to being of service. Just call me Granny Doula!

BOLT: Reflecting Gratitude

As I walked along the beach this morning in Da Nang, Vietnam I was reflecting on how grateful I am for our time here. We planned on a month but it’s almost a year, thanks to Covid.

I’m grateful for sheltering in a place that took the virus seriously, where everyone wears masks and respects social distancing rules when in effect.

I’m grateful that I am here with my beloved, Kathy, and that we both remained physically healthy and mentally well.

I’m grateful for time with family. While we may not be related by blood I have truly found family here.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to do something I always wanted to do: support another woman in birthing a baby. I’m a doula y’all! Look for a blog soon about this experience.

I’m grateful for some amazing sunrises, wonderful adventures and beautiful sights to see. As our time here is winding down (we leave in early December, details soon) I wanted to express my gratitude to Da Nang for helping me to #findbeautyeveryday

Thank you for allowing me to share my gratefulness. I’d love to hear what you are grateful for.

The Magical World of Zoom

At dawn today I participated in the opening ceremonies of BLU via zoom. I was able to represent the far east with an altar dedicated to our ancestors, family, friends and community. It was an amazing experience, connecting with my sisters in the U.S. all the way from Da Nang Vietnam!

Later in the morning I had a good time laughing with the fabulous Jazzie Mas at her virtual comedy show, also on Zoom.

Then at noon today the Brothas and Sistahs of Da Nang group got together for a virtual brunch. It was wonderful to see everyone (we haven’t seen each other since lockdown began July 26).

I’ve played games at Zoom meetings and been to Zoom birthday parties. I use my free Zoom account to connect one on one with friends and family. Zoom is a real blessing for those of us in recovery. There are 12 Step Meetings for every fellowship!

This pandemic is awful. I never want to forget all who are suffering. For me, Zoom is one thing I am grateful for. It’s made these difficult times a little easier.

If you have any questions about using Zoom or connecting with any of the groups I mentioned email me at boltraveling@gmail.com

I’d love to hear about your Zoom experiences!

Good Morning Vietnam!

I love mornings here in Da Nang. No matter how early I’m up there are folks up ahead of me. The markets are bustling at 6am.

The coffee shops and bahn mi stands are also up and ready for business by 6.

But the thing I love most are mornings at the beach. I went today for the 5:18 sunrise, enjoying the beauty of the path leading to our local beach.

The beach was already crowded. The sights of families swimming, elders exercising and crowds of people briskly walking bring me joy.

Perhaps this is not scientific but I think that the Vietnamese commitment to community and wellness has contributed to the low Covid numbers. As beloved and frequently used as the beaches are when ordered everyone respected the closing of the beaches and following the rules was the norm.

Kathy and I are so grateful to be in such a safe and beautiful place during these difficult times. We hold all in our prayers and meditations. We surround you all with love and light. We pray for an end to this pandemic. We pray for the dismantling of systemic racism and injustice. We trust and affirm that healing is happening and change is coming!

Please visit, like, subscribe and share Kathy’s YouTube Channel. She is offering excellent tools for dealing with these time. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGchxaPN1j9p0PjVDyu2a_A

Change is Possible! Don’t give up hope!

Kathy and I were talking this morning about revolution in all it’s forms. We are tired and heart broken. Tired of the killing of black folks. Tired of police brutality. Tired of injustice. As I despaired over the state of the United States and what is happening there, Kathy reminded me that change does happen. As I expressed doubt that unorganized uprising can effect change she reminded me that the truth of revolution is that it is often unorganized. As I expressed anxiety that people will be hurt and die she reminded me that dying can be a revolutionary act and that dying is not the worst thing that can happen. Ultimately she reminded me of the revolutionary changes achieved as a result of the Civil Rights Movement. This post is hopefully a reminder for us all.

In March 1965 these folks braved Billy clubs, tear gas, dogs and a racist governor who empowered a racist sheriff to do anything he could think of to stop those unarmed, non-violent people from walking to the capital of Alabama for their rights. They marched for 54 miles over 5 days.

In March 2015 Kathy and I repeated that 54 mile walk. We marched with foot soldiers who had been on the original march. We marched with young people, students and families. We marched because we wanted to honor and give thanks for those original marchers and the changes they wrested from the hands of the powerful.

We marched with Ms Annie Pearl Avery. She is a life long civil rights activist. Ms Annie Pearl was on the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday 50 years ago. She was beaten and jailed. She didn’t let that stop her. She made the Selma to Montgomery March in 1965 and she was with us every step of the 2015 march!

We met Julian Bond, who is a reminder that change can come about in many ways: political, street activism, education and more.

On the way we stopped at the memorial to Viola Liuzzo who lost her life in 1965 during the original Selma to Montgomery March. Driving back from a trip shuttling fellow activists to the Montgomery airport, she was shot by members of the Ku Klux Klan. She was 39 years old.

We marched to remember, reconnect and restore. We marched because the fight for civil rights and social justice is far from over.

We made it! 54 miles from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama! “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” -Margaret Mead

In 2015 President Barak Obama gave a speech on the Edmund Pettis Bridge. He embraced Congressman John Lewis who was beaten on that bridge 50 years ago. Change does happen!

Don’t give up hope dear brothers and sisters. “It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.” -Assata Shakur

BOLT Reviews: Vinpearl Land

I’ve been on a high since Thursday! A group of sister friends and I set out for the local Hot Springs Park. Finding out, mid route, that it was closed our driver made a great suggestion: Vinpearl Land

I’d never heard of this place, located about 40 kilometers outside of Da Nang on the outskirts of Hoi An. It was AMAZING!!!

It’s like this crazy, only in Asia, combination of zoo, water park, amusement park, arcades and more! We were one of a very few visitors and had the place mostly to ourselves.


Vinpearl Land has one of the best, most humane zoos I’ve ever seen. The animals roam in beautifully designed enclosures and we saw no cages. You few the animals on a boat ride with a very knowledgeable guide.There were two stops along the way where we got to feed the giraffes and elephants.I feel like the actor on the commercials where they say “But wait, there’s more!!!”. There’s a parrot house where the birds come and perch on you as you feed them.There’s a water park with a wave pool, a lazy river and all kinds of water slides.There was a large amusement park area with lots of thrilling rides.The grounds and buildings were lovely and well maintained.Three things were a bit disappointing to our group. Unlike other attractions we have visited the arcade games were not included in the admission price. Neither was the tram ride to help you cover the vast park. Also the food was a bit disappointing. We paid a flat fee of 550k dong which included a meal. There were only two choices of meal however: vegetarian (eggs, rice and spring rolls) or a bowl of beef and noodles. Perhaps this will be different with more people attending.Despite those small inconveniences we all agreed that it was an amazing day! If you are visiting Da Nang, I highly recommend Vinpearl Land!

My Khe in the Morning

5 a.m. in Da Nang Vietnam is a magical time. I fall our of bed, do my morning devotions and then head to My Khe Beach. The beach had been closed due to Covid 19 restrictions but I could walk along the sidewalk and enjoy the views.

That all changed on April 23. Lockdown is over and the beach is open.

It was actually a bit more crowded than I was comfortable with. However I kept my mask on, stayed 2 meters away from folks and enjoyed the sights!

There were men and women exercising to upbeat music.

Lots of folks swimming, splashing and wading in the waves.

There were people exercising by themselves and in small groups.

The fisherfolk were out gathering the sea snails that I see all the time for sale in the local markets.

Lifeguards were vigilantly keeping watch.

Peaceful Falun Gong practitioners were greeting the morning.

Even though it was quite cloudy and cool it was an amazing morning.

And I was enjoying it all! Thank you for letting me share it with you.

THANK YOU VIETNAM!

Kathy and I feel very safe here in DaNang Vietnam. We have good reason for this. Vietnam has one of the lowest incidences of Covid 19 in the world. This is amazing when you consider that we share a border with China and are a mere 1200 miles away from Wuhan (where the virus first was documented).

There are many reasons for the low number of cases and the fact that there have been no deaths. This NPR article gives some details as to why this is so. The Vietnamese government was very proactive from the start. When we got off the plane in February we were carefully screened including our temperatures being taken. Masks have been worn for months, hand washing and social distancing have been stressed and for the most part respected.

I feel that in addition to a respect for governmental authority (say what you want, this is a Communist country), there is also a real level of concern for the well being of others. Masks are worn, not just to protect the wearer but for the protection of others. There has been no hoarding or panic buying of food or home goods. To alleviate food insecurity rice ATMs have been installed. While I have heard about some xenophobia, it is my understanding that it is not sanctioned by the government.

So BOLT intends to remain in DaNang until the pandemic is over, maybe even until a vaccine is created. We are practicing social distancing, eating well and enjoying our time together. We know we are extremely privileged during these times. We hold all those who are sick and are affected negatively by the pandemic in our prayers and meditations.

Finding Beauty in Fruit

Living under shelter in place rules means that the highlight of my day is a walk to the local market. I try to find and share beauty every day. I often find it in the fruits of Vietnam.

Many of these fruits were unusual to me. I’ve tried to buy and try most of them. Of course there are lots of pineapple, mango and watermelon, but I thought I’d share some of the more unusual ones here.

Jackfruit

Jackfruit has a funky smell but is really sweet and delicious. It can be used as substitute for meat in tacos and curries.

Sapodilla

This is a sapodilla or sapote. It’s really delicious, having sweet cinnamony taste.

Custard Apple

I never had a custard apple until coming to Vietnam. While it’s not very pretty it is really delicious-sweet and creamy, lots of seeds though.

Star Fruit

Star fruit are really lovely as a garnish on a fruit plate. I’ve yet to have one that is anything but bland and sour.

Rambutan
Longan

I fell in love with rambutan and longan in Thailand. They are well worth the effort it takes to get them out of their skins and into your mouth. Their taste reminds me of a green grape.

Mangosteen

Mangosteen has all sorts of health benefits and it’s really good too.

Bananas

The bananas in Southeast Asia taste different than the ones in North America. I like the small ones the best. They are sweet and firm.

Dragon Fruit

Dragon Fruit gets my vote for the prettiest fruit! It has a very bland but not unpleasant flavor.

I’d love to hear from you about which of these fruits have you tried. I’m sure I’ve left some out. Please let me know.