(67) Phases of Motherhood with Britta

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You don’t want to miss this episode where I share some BIG news, and my close friend and guest, Britta Bushnell, helps me process it all, as she talks about the Apollo and Artemis myth and the mind-blowing way it applies to my news, and also to motherhood. Britta and I discuss phases and seasons of life, why one part of ourselves is always starved in this culture, how to transition into beginnings and endings more intentionally, and more.   

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Brandy:  Hello Adult Conversation Podcast listeners! In today’s episode, I share some big news and my close friend and guest, Britta Bushnell helps me process it all as she talks about the Apollo and Artemis myth, and the mind-blowing way it applies to my news and also to motherhood. Britta and I discuss our past, phases and seasons of life, why one part of ourselves is always starved in this culture, how to transition into beginnings and endings more intentionally, and more. On to the show.

Brandy:  Today on the podcast, I’m welcoming someone who I’ve wanted to interview since the start. Britta Bushnell, PhD is a veteran childbirth educator, a mythologist, a celebrated speaker, and specialist in childbirth, couples, and parenting. She was also my childbirth teacher when I was pregnant with my first child. So she became my own personal birth work mentor, dear friend, and fellow author who also launched a book during a pandemic (which I don’t recommend). Britta wrote an amazing book for parents called Transformed by Birth. You may have seen it mentioned on Mandy Moore’s Instagram account or touted by P!nk, so she’s kind of a big deal. Welcome to the podcast, Britta.

Britta:  {Laughs} Thank you, Brandy. I do think this has been a long time coming. I mean, you and I have had so many different iterations of our relationship and just such a natural progression from—I mean, how many years ago did you take my childbirth class?

Brandy:  Almost 15. Yeah.

Britta:  {Laughs} I know. I have some parents who took my class whose kids are going to college. And I’m like, wait a minute. Wait, that really ages me. That tells me how long I’ve been doing this.

Brandy:  Wow! Yes, and it’s funny, because like you’re saying, our lives have woven in similar ways. And it wasn’t intended, I don’t think you and I were like, “Let’s make a pact that we do similar things at similar times.” But it’s been kind of perfect, because then we’re able to use each other as allies and kind of know where we are in the world. It’s just been such an amazing relationship and totally unexpected. Little do you know that your childbirth educator may be somebody that’s in your life in a big way. 

Britta:  Yeah, and I love it when there are people who take my class who then circle back into my life in different ways and become friends. And I really feel that with you. We went from this educator and parent relationship, to colleagues, to friends, to co-authors, and it’s just been a beautiful unfolding.

Brandy:  Yeah, yes. There’s this moment where—I don’t even know if you remember it, but I do, because it was a really big deal. When I was in your class, which was a Birthing from Within class, which then later I got into and kind of understood more the inner workings of it, I remember we were doing a birth art painting. That was back before my mindset had shifted and I was like, “There’s one right way and perfectionism.” I wanted this birth that was this certain thing. Little did I know that your class was going to be like, “Yes and how do we prepare for birth in many of the different outcomes?” But anyway, I remember I was doing this birth art, and I was just trying to make it so beautiful. And then you came over and you were like, “And now I want you to put black paint over it.” And I was like, “What? This is my beautiful piece of art!” It hurt. It hurt me Britta, and I’ll never forget it, because I knew that there was something to it. I loved you and trusted you so much and it wasn’t until later that I realized, “Oh, yes, you were trying to help me let go of beauty and perfection and it having to look a certain way.” That was just a moment where I just remember being so challenged, and yet it was so necessary for my personal growth. Do you even remember that? I’m sure you do this to everybody.

Britta:  I haven’t done that process in quite a while, but it is one that I love, and it’s one that I later was talking with my former mentor, Pam England, about it and she was like, “That’s not what you’re supposed to do!” I was like, “Oh! Okay. Um, somehow I just thought about that and felt like that was a piece.” {Laughs} I don’t know. I’ve gone back into my notes to see, where was this instructed into my system? Yeah, no, it’s not there. 

Brandy:  Well it works.

Britta:  Yeah, and for me, because I’ve done that process before as well, and I don’t know when or remember if this happened for you, but for me that feeling of, what do you do when something that you hope won’t happen shows up? When that black line shows up in your life? Whether it’s in childbirth, or whether it’s in parenting, or in a pandemic? It’s like, what do you do next? That’s the piece that has always been really inspiring to me is not, how do we make it perfect? Or how do we make it look really, really good on the outside? But how do you adapt? How do you keep going? How do you shift and build resilience? Because let’s all be serious, parenting is anything but perfect and controlled. It is a response in the moment, day after day after day.

Brandy:  Yeah. That was the reason that class was so powerful, and then I went in to do the work myself, was because I saw how quickly the things that we learned in there were not just for birth. Birth was almost for me, like a quick—I wouldn’t say quick because I was in prodromal labor for a while. But once you’re past the birth—

Britta:  It’s still relatively quick compared to—how old are your kids now? 

Brandy:  Exactly. Yeah, right.

Britta:  Relative to how long you’ve been in the process of parenthood, birth is relatively quick. That doesn’t mean that it lacks profundity. It still can be wildly profound, and in the scope of things, it is pretty quick. I often joke that the reason I’m still teaching childbirth classes, and my kids are both college age—my youngest is heading to college soon, and I’m in that place of, “Oh, my goodness, I’m on the threshold of great change,” which we can get to at another time. But one of the things that still keeps me engaged with birth, is that I’m actually fascinated and thrilled to work with people when they know they’re on the edge of great transformation. It just so happens that on the edge of birth, people are like, “Oh, something big’s about to happen and maybe I should prepare for that.” Even though in our lives we need that information, we need those skills. I kind of think of childbirth ed classes as Life 101. You just didn’t know that that was what you were going for. How do you deal with the—How do you ride the lack of control that we have in our lives? How do you meet that? All of that feels like things that often we haven’t been taught. That’s why I’m excited. That’s why I’m still in this work. Even though my kids are probably closer to having children of their own than I am to their birth.

Brandy:  That’s so beautifully put. Working with people on the edge of these big growth areas in their lives. Not all—you know this—not all childbirth classes cater to this “Life 101” stuff. Some of them actually validate some of the problematic patterns, which is, “Just do this, this and this, and then you get this.” That’s what I so appreciated about your classes and the Birthing from Within philosophy was that, it was this bigger thing about control, and what do you do next when you don’t know what to do? That has served me far greater than I think either other extreme sides could.

Britta:  I love hearing that and that our lives keep evolving. My work keeps evolving. I’m thinking of what you experienced in that class 15 years ago, and the class that I taught last weekend, and I’m curious, “Huh, how is it the same, and how is it different, and how has it continued to evolve?” Because I keep changing.” I think that that is an exciting thing to keep evolving to.

Brandy:  This is so perfect, because this is what I want to talk about today. I feel like maybe it was fate that we didn’t do an interview together sooner, because part of what I want to get into today deals with specific timing and some news that I have to share with the listeners, and I don’t know if I’ve talked to you about it. More on that in a second. This whole, “phases and changing” and all of that is part of it. But first, something I ask everybody on the podcast is what do people need to know about you? Aside from the fact—I always find this so interesting. Aside from the fact that your dad started Atari and Chuck E. Cheese. That will always be of interest to me and I want to ask you this in a second, too—What it was like to grow up with iconic things in your home before they were iconic? But back to you, what do people need to know about you? And then I want to unpack—I just have a couple Chuck E. Cheese related questions. You know me. It’s heart and there’s also some ridiculous my quirkiness, my I’m an inner 13-year-old, you know. You get both things with me.

Britta:  Yes. So it’s interesting, I’m noticing in my body right now, my hands got clammy, my heart started kind of fluttering a bit, and I felt some heat rush into my body, because I don’t talk about my dad. That’s not a place I go in a public sphere. So I just noticed my body start to do that. I have a fair bit of shame from my childhood and some of the things that went on in my life and in my upbringing. It’s interesting, because especially growing up in the Bay Area, in Northern California, during the boom of the early Silicon Valley phase of things and being the daughter of somebody who was a known entity in that field. Now I live in Los Angeles and I equate it often to being what it must be like to be a celebrity’s child here in LA. There’s so many assumptions that come with, “Oh, you had this kind of childhood, or you had this kind of experience.” It’s been a place where I’ve felt more bashful and hidden. It’s not in my book. I keep things pretty quiet and this is the first time that I’m talking about it in this way in a public forum.

Brandy:  Do you feel okay about this? 

Britta:  I’m rolling with it. Let’s roll with it.

Brandy:  Okay.

Britta:  I’m feeling that with you and the trust that you and I have with one another. There’s just a lot of assumptions that I think people have. For me, while there were elements of growing up in that environment that were certainly special and fun and incredibly privileged, it was also riddled with a ton of shame. And just the assumptions that people made about me because of that, I ended up leaving. I ended up leaving Northern California and that space and energy when I was 13. I said, “I’m out of here, I can’t handle this.”

Brandy:  Oh wow. What were people assuming about you that felt like, “You don’t even know who I am.”

Britta:  Well, there was a lot about wealth and things of that sort. I grew up in a very middle class—Well, then. Now it’s a completely different location to what it was when I was there because of what’s happened up in the Bay Area. But in a very nondescript, working class neighborhood where I lived with my mom. My family history was such that my dad had a boom and a bust period, over and over again. He’s a serial entrepreneur. So there was a lot of assumptions around what kind of financial abundance I had heading into adulthood or things of that sort, which were just assumptions, not based on truth. So it’s those kinds of things that have kept me from speaking of those sorts of things.

Britta:  Yeah, and that had to be so hard to hold on to something that has that shame associated with it and also hard to just not talk about that but then feel it, and I feel like you’ve done—I don’t know if I want to say—I don’t know if “a good job” is the right way to express it, but you really—I don’t think about these things when I think about you. I think these are quirky little really interesting pieces. Just because I have sort of a love-hate (mostly hate) with Chuck E. Cheese. And then knowing you and when I’m frustrated about Chuck E. Cheese, I can immediately text you and be like, “How did this get born? How did this happen?” {Laughs}

Brandy:  Did you go there as a kid? 

Britta:  Oh, yeah. Absolutely. I can remember the time sitting—My dad and I, there was a period of time when we were trying to work on our relationship and spending more time together and we would set up these father-daughter dates, where we would go out and my dad had a really, really strong attachment to having children who were adventurous eaters. That was incredibly important to him. So I remember sitting—I can tell you where the sushi restaurant was. We’re sitting at a sushi restaurant and I must have been, what, six years old, seven years old? And he was telling me all about the idea of how he was—about Chuck E. Cheese and what he was going to do with it. It wasn’t that long after that (I was probably eight I want to guess) when the one in Santa Clara opened, which was the first of what would become many. But yeah, I definitely went in when it was in build out and all of that to explore it.

Brandy:  At that sushi restaurant, was he like, “Okay, hear me out. Kids aren’t sick enough. They’re not sick enough. There’s not enough germs, and the pediatricians, they just aren’t making money. So I’m going to create a petri dish. A literal petri dish. And you know how we’re going to make it unbearable for parents? We’re going to make these animated, terrifying animals.”  Ugh. Just the whole thing. I grew up with it and it was the freaking best. But also those are the unique moments that you were like the brainchild behind it. You got to sit down and figure out that.

Britta:  Well, I’ll tell you. I remember going to Disneyland with my dad a lot when I was little. He loved Disneyland. He spent his 50th birthday at Disneyland. We’ll put it that way. We would go and spend a lot of time at the Tiki Room. And what was the other one? The country band? Bear band? 

Brandy:  Oh, Jamboree? Yeah.

Britta:  Yeah. Because he was getting ideas about animatronics. 

Brandy:  Yeah, right. 

Britta:  We would spend a lot of time at those. {Laughs}

Brandy:  {Laughs} That’s hilarious. I know you’ve answered this for me before, but I feel like people would be interested. The “Chuck” and the “E.” Those are named after a grandparent of yours, correct?

Britta:  I have no idea. 

Brandy:  Oh you don’t?! What? I thought there was lore. I thought there was family lore here.

Britta:  {Laughs} I don’t know what it is. My dad’s—his dad is Charlie, but I don’t think that’s Chuck. I mean, I don’t know. I don’t know. There’s probably someone else who knows that better than I do.

Brandy:  Okay. So you’re saying I have a further rabbit hole to go down? 

Britta:  Yeah, I don’t know the history of that for whatever reason. It wasn’t part of my curiosity as an eight year old. {Laughs}

Brandy:  Right, I’m sure you were like, “Ugh, can we not talk about anything ‘Chuck E. Cheese'” after a while, I’m sure. 

Britta:  Yeah, I was more interested in—I remember this time, I used to do ballet and I was at a ballet recital, and I had finished the ballet recital, and I was walking out with my mom and my older sister, and the family in front of us was talking all about like, “Where should we go and what should we do?” We’re walking behind them. They said, “Let’s go to Chuck E. Cheese!” And one of the kids was like, “No, the pizza sucks.” Just the three of us behind there just laughing. Just being like, “Okay, here we are.” {Laughs}

Brandy:  {Laughs}

Britta:  I was probably 10 at the time right? {Laughs} When I was growing up the big story was how bad the pizza was. The Chuck E. Cheese of today is very different than the Chuck E. Cheese of my childhood and possibly your childhood as well, because it was more of an arcade feeling.

Brandy:  Oh, right. 

Britta:  It was dark and it was—

Brandy:  More like the Tiki Room? {Laughs}

Britta:  {Laughs} Yeah, more like the Tiki Room. Because Chuck E. Cheese filed for bankruptcy and went belly up, and then got restructured and repurchased. So the Chuck E. Cheese of today is something completely different than what I grew up with. They really went hard on the “pizza time theater” part. It was dark, and the lights would go out when Chuck and his band would come up on the stage, and it had just a very different kind of feel to it with the central area where parents would usually hang out and eat the bad pizza. 

Brandy:  Right. {Laughs}

Britta:  {Laughs} And get rushed by their children regularly asking for more tokens. 

Brandy:  Exactly. And that was before the ticket munchers. Oh my god, the ticket muncher sound is just so pleasurable. 

Britta:  Yes. Well, I have to say, my dad at one point when my kids were little, said, “Why don’t we go to Chuck E. Cheese?” He’s like, “I can’t just go to Chuck E. Cheese and see what it’s like now, because I’d be a weird old guy going to Chuck E. Cheese.” {Laughs}

Brandy:  {Laughs}

Britta:  So he went with us once when my kids were little, little. That was really fun to be there with him and to have him be like, “Oh, check this out! This is different, and that’s different.” It felt a little bit like exploring it and seeing what was happening.

Brandy:  Oh, man. Well, now I want to apologize to you for making you talk to me—I mean, I know there was consent involved but—about Chuck E. Cheese. Okay, so for everybody who’s listening, Britta’s like the wisest, most amazing person. She got a fucking PhD in mythology and here I am taking up your time having you talk about Chuck E. Cheese. What an asshole I am. 

Britta:  {Laughs}

Brandy:  So having said that, let’s move away from Chuck E. Cheese and into the deep shit that I really brought you on here for. We’ll put all of this aside and then I will ask you again—I think everybody knows a lot about you at this moment, but what do you feel like people need to know about you?

Britta:  I’m kind of a mixture of goofy and deep. Part of what paid for my college tuition and helped me get through university was, I was a birthday party clown.

Brandy:  {Laughs} I had forgotten that. Thank you. 

Britta:  {Laughs} Yes. Down in Orange County, I was a birthday party clown. Taught myself how to make balloon animals. Was just goofy, goofy, goofy. My roommates would laugh at me every time I’d be putting on my clown makeup and getting in my nearly falling apart Chevy Citation.

Brandy:  I had a friend with one of those. That was a great car. It had the biggest ass. It was like the whole car was ass. {Laughs}

Britta:  {Laughs} It was all ass. That is a part of me. I’m goofy, I’m playful. Just last weekend, I was sitting with my husband and we’re having this really profound, deep conversation. And my heart was just exploding. I realized—I even think I wrote something on my Instagram. I’m like, “I think my love language is deep conversation.” I know that that’s not one of the, “What’s your five love languages?” But deep conversation is my favorite place to go.

Brandy:  Yeah. Yes! I think this is why you and I get on so well. I feel like the goofiness plus the deep conversation, it’s part of what I love about you. And you’ve been through so much. Maybe I say that because you’re one phase above me because you have kids going to college so I look to you, and how you’re processing things. I’m like, “Okay, how will this look for me? What do I need to be thinking about?” Because I just so value your point of view. This brings me to—You were recently speaking at an online event that I was moderating and what you were saying was blowing people away. I’d read some of what you were saying before because it’s in your book, but there was something about the timing of it that hit me in an entirely different way. So I would love for you to talk about that here. We were talking about, or you were talking about the story of Artemis and Apollo and how it relates to motherhood. Will you give us an overview of that story for people who didn’t know it? Because I didn’t totally know it like the way that you had told it.

Britta:  Yeah, and it’s not like there’s one story, right? It’s Artemis is a character, is a goddess within the pantheon of Greek mythology. So there’s actually lots of stories about her. The story that I tell in my book and that I tell in my classes and that I told that day in that program is basically her origin story. If you’re into superheroes or mythology, origin stories are where it’s at. So, we can go there. 

Brandy:  You could do 20 movies on just one origin story.

Britta:  Exactly, exactly. And for me, Artemis is my superhero. She has so much to teach me. So, Artemis is part of a twin, because her twin brother is Apollo. Their origin story says a lot, especially about Artemis. They were the twins of Leto and Zeus, and how Leto became pregnant by Zeus is a whole other part of their story, but we won’t go there right now. When Leto was going into labor with these twins, she couldn’t find a place to give birth. Because Hera, Zeus’s very jealous wife was like, “Hey, anybody who gives this Leto gal a place to give birth to Zeus’s philandering children, or his philandering seed (shall we say), you’re gonna be on my shit list.” Okay, that’s not actually how the myth goes, I’m bringing some modern interpretations to it. 

Brandy:  Yes, Thank you. {Laughs} 

Britta:  {Laughs} So Leto can’t find a place. Finally she finds an island where she can give birth, and Artemis is born fully formed as an adult goddess, young woman. Her very first act on the outside is to help her mother. To midwife her mother through the birth of her brother, Apollo. A lot of people say that that first act as midwife was sort of the catapult and the reason why Artemis became known as one of the goddesses of childbirth. It is, certainly, because it’s a part of her tale and of her stories. And Artemis represents many of the things that birth holds. Artemis is the goddess of the wilderness. She is sometimes referred to as the wilderness. She is all those things that exist beyond the walls of civilization. She’s in and of the earth, she’s down in the dirt, she communicates with the animals, which is not in well-formed language, but instead the sounds of grunts and moans and various different types of animals sounds, much like birth. 

Brandy:  Yeah. 

Britta:  She’s connected to the cycles, the seasons, the cycles of day and night, the cycles of the moon. She’s a moon goddess so she’s also very connected to that kind of cycle, rather than clock time. But when we talk about Artemis, we need to remember that she’s part of one half of a twin set and her brother Apollo is everything that is the other side, but the two of them together make up the balance of the two. Apollo is everything that we think of as cultured. He’s a god of poetry and of music. He loves things that mark him as separate from animal. His son is the god of medicine. He’s a sun god, so he likes things bright and clear, and understood, and well articulated, and all the things that in many ways the overculture here (particularly in the US but also in the West in general) is very Apollonian. It’s kind of all those things that are put together, it’s nice, it’s orderly, we understand it, it has time and purpose and direction, etc. Whereas his sister, Artemis is more cacophonous and cyclical and the order of Artemis’s realm looks like chaos, but it actually has natural order, which is a different kind of energies between animals and life and death. There is order to that even though it looks seemingly like it’s chaos. So that piece is—I mean, the understanding of the two of them at play is something very much alive in birth and new parenthood. 

Brandy:  Yes. 

Britta:  It’s that tension between that which is polite and societal acceptable, and that which is wild, and maybe rageful, or sad, or emotional, or expressing through grunts and moans, and darkness, and all of those kinds of things. In the birth realm, it’s helpful to lean into those Artemisian sides to help the functioning of labor as it moves. But our birth environment is highly Apollonian. Highly Apollonian. It’s bright, it’s ordered, it’s driven by the clock, it’s got structure and graphs (lots of graphs). So there is this push/pull between these, but it’s also not just in birth. And I think that’s part of what we spoke about in that program, was that this extends into even some of what we experience in parenthood. Especially in lead parenting, or primary parenting. In this culture, that’s predominantly done by mothers,

Brandy:  Right.

Britta:  So that’s that energy of, we go through this birth giving experience that is highly Artemisian, but dictated in this Apollonian way of order and structure and all of that, and then postpartum feels so animalistic and so held by the wilderness of Artemis’s realm. We’re in the nights, we’re connected more to the moon than the sun, we’ve got this cyclical thing, whether it’s feeding our newborn baby from our body or through bottles, they need to feed very cyclically. That energy of our body itself is in a healing process and healing processes are very animalistic. You can’t say, “Okay, body time to heal a little faster. Right? 

Brandy:  Right. 

Britta:  You can’t do that. 

Brandy:  Right? Please pull the uterus up a little bit so that when I cough, I don’t feel it. Thank you. {Laughs}

Britta:  Exactly! So that doesn’t work, right? That does not work. It’s highly, highly Artemisian. And yet, our babies, and then toddlers especially, are wildly Artemisian. So one of the things that is the rub is then as parents, when we’re trying to do this dance with our toddlers or young children who are wildly connected to their Artemisian side. They’re impolite and loud and rambunctious and are often covered in dirt like, “Yes, take me out into the wilderness,” said the kid, right? 

Brandy:  Right.

Britta:  “Let me be in that environment.” They’re very connected to that animal side and yet the overculture kind of presses down on us as parents to say, “Make them more Apollonian.”

Brandy:  Yeah.

Britta:  Confine them and teach them the politeness and order and structure. Frankly, the way that that parenting exists these days is so ridiculously Apollonian, it’s exhausting.

Brandy:  That is the point in which when you were talking about all of this, that I felt all the moms on the call go, “Oh, my God!” Because that right there is when we—because motherhood, you think from the outside it’s going to be very flowy and it’s going to be very Artemisian because it feels like it in the beginning. Then all of a sudden, no, you’re with somebody who’s very Artemisian, and you have to make sure they don’t kill themselves, and they eat enough, and all of that. Schedules and clocks and logic and safety and managing. It’s 24/7. Then there’s these moments every once in a while—I know for me, I will dip into the Artemisian time, but I realized from that conversation that my inner Artemis is starved. 

Britta:  Right. Yeah.

Brandy:  And I think for a lot of moms it’s like that.

Britta:  We spend so much time in this Apollonian field trying to contain our child that actually our Artemisia inside of us dries out. 

Brandy:  Yes. 

Britta:  And it starts to crack. Part of that is because we are polarized into that Apollonian side so we’re not nourishing and hydrating the part of us that actually can let go and release and be touched by the cycles of nature and the seasons and of the wilderness. Instead, we’re like, “Okay, so at nine o’clock, we do a feeding and then we have to do snack time,” and then, “Oh, we have to make more snacks. Alright, more snacks.” And then, “Wait, make sure—Elbows off the table.” I mean, whatever it is, right? 

Brandy:  Yeah. Right. All things.

Britta:  It’s that teaching of polite manners, and the serving and orchestrating of life to keep order in our homes or with our children that can just be incredibly exhausting.

Brandy:  Yes. So a couple things. I was taking notes when you were speaking. This seems pretty self explanatory, but you said, “Holding a clock or schedule can often feel pressurized.” I just felt like “pressurized” was such a great word for it. This is part of when people are enjoying or not enjoying parts of motherhood. I wonder if there wasn’t a clock or a schedule to hold on to if it wouldn’t feel as pressurized. I actually wonder this about grandparents and sometimes fathers. Sometimes watching them get to play with the kids or whatever, it doesn’t feel as pressurized as it does for the mother. That’s because the mother is often the one holding that clock or schedule.

Britta:  Right, and the mental load. That mental load is all of that, that is helping to contain family life within an Apollonian overculture.

Brandy:  Yes, that’s exactly it. 

Britta:  It’s all of those “shoulds.” It’s all those, as well as trying to put some elements of order on the cacophony. We know that if our child goes to bed an hour late, that means the Artemisian inside of them tomorrow is going to be harder. 

Brandy:  Ugh, right. 

Britta:  That in many ways, means we’re going to have to double down into that Apollonian side to meet it. Or completely join them. That’s the other thing you can do is you could then just join them in the Artemisian side. But for the most part, the way that our lives are structured, doesn’t allow that very often, to just lean into that side of things.

Brandy:  Exactly. There was something else that you said. We were talking about how—I think someone on the call had said, “There’s times where I either need to drink water, or get outside, get my body moving, all of these things. I’m hungry or something like that, and we don’t listen to it because we think, ‘Oh, well, I have to keep doing this work, or I’m working on this project, or I’m doing something where I have to make sure the kids are on the schedule.'” And you had said, “The body speaks in quiet whispers and the overculture speaks in shouts.” I think we were talking about why do we not listen to that Artemisian side of ourselves, and you just had such a great point about this overculture side is yelling, so it’s like you can’t even decipher between—you can’t even hear the two because one is shouting so it seems like this must be the priority. 

Britta:  Exactly. Because the modern overculture that is so Apollonian is saying, “Produce. Get things done. Keep going. Do, do, do. Structure. Make your kids succeed in whatever version of “succeed” looks like, and excel in this way, and do piano lessons and sports, and all of these things. It’s just so loud. The Artemisian side that says, “Yeah, I’m thirsty,” tends to be a whisper. So it’s, how do we tune in to the whispers, not just the shouts? Often the whispers are those that come from the body. 

Brandy:  Right, which then leads us to being even more depleted because we’re not hearing it. Something else that I think was really helpful for a lot of people on the call is, I think somebody or you—somebody was talking about how they were realizing that when they’re just kind of zoning out and scrolling on social media, they don’t often feel well resourced after that. It doesn’t give them the rest because really (we were talking about) it’s kind of in the middle of Artemisian and Apollonian because it’s neither. So when you have these needs on the Artemisian side that aren’t being met, but then you use your time to do something in the middle that’s sort of like a paralyzed middle ground—I guess that was an answer to why that feels non-nurturing.

Britta:  Yeah, it’s interesting. One of the things that I think about is, there’s a lot of stories about Artemis that revolve around her fierce protection of her privacy and her solitude, and how much that is not very easily accessed when we’re in a heavy parenting period of time. 

Brandy:  Right.

Britta:  So there is often this hunger for solitude and privacy. So when we are in bed, and we’re on our side of the bed, or we’re alone in bed, and we’re like, “Okay, I’m gonna look at my phone, because I’m finally private. I’m finally kind of alone.” And so we go through it, but it’s actually not really, really filling the cup again because it’s still connecting in some ways that are activating that Apollonian side. However, I will say that there are ways that I have seen people use social media to do virtual connecting with their—like Artemis hangs out with a group of nymphs. Her collection of fellow female-embodied people, and that place is a place of nourishment for her. I have seen social media provide that community of fellows that can nourish when it’s held in a way that is very supportive. When it tends to be most depleting is when our Apollonian side is wiped out and we go to social media to kind of nourish, and instead, we judge ourselves against other people who seem to be killing it on the Apollonian side of things.

Brandy:  Such a good point. Also, we see things that we’re like, “Oh, I need to get that,” or “Oh, somebody’s showing a picture of a meal, I need a meal plan. What are we having?” I mean, I’m just kind of realizing this right now. It really gets me at least. Like you’re saying, I have loved social media in a lot of ways, and connection is one of them because I love it so much. But, it’s like a visual to-do list sometimes. I’ll scroll through, and I’ll be like, “Oh, yeah, I needed to make sure that I have a bathing suit for whatever.” So it’s like, then I’m doing these other things. You just get kind of diverted so easily to to-do tasks. So I do sometimes feel like being on social media totally lights up the to-do list in the head, because you’re seeing so many snippets of life that remind you of snippets of things you have to do in your own life.

Britta:  Exactly. All of those things. And the to-do list is 100% Apollonian. There are no to-do lists in the wilderness! That is not what’s happening. In that wilderness place it’s more of a response-engagement with life, rather than a linear thinking, rational brain approach. It is more connected to instinct and impulse and responding to what’s happening in the moment. It’s a very “in the moment” kind of existence. 

Brandy:  Right. 

Britta:  I think it’s important that we don’t overly romanticize either of these, though, at the same time, because it isn’t that we want to put all our energy into living in Artemis’s realm. I tend to put a little more emphasis on Artemis as a place to strengthen because of how strongly Apollonian the overculture is, which tends to mean that the Artemisian side of us is atrophied. 

Brandy:  Yes. 

Britta:  I come from a yoga background and in social media, since we were just talking about this, you can certainly see the people who have a really bendy back, are showing pictures of themselves doing backbends, backbends, backbends, backbends, backbends. Right? Because that’s what comes naturally to them. When what they really need to be doing is likely doing some strengthening rather than overly emphasizing their flexibility. It’s similar with this Artemisian side that I think we need. We’re a little Artemisian depleted.

Brandy:  Yeah, and some of us a lot. I think it just depends on how you grow up. For example, I have a niece who is my same age and we were always good friends growing up and she was always like, “Wow Brandy, you balance a checkbook, you have everything together, you make lists, and stuff.” She was always just like, “I wish I could do that.” To me, when I think of beautiful Artemisian energy, it’s her. She has a lot of kids and she loves being in nature. So for her, she probably is trying to bring in Apollonian energy. But then there’s me who was basically brought up in a family that worships Apollo. These are all new realizations to me. And that’s not a judgment, my family is who they are. But somebody like me—what hit me specifically about what you’ve been talking about is, the pandemic has shown me what a hustler I’ve always been. I always have a million ideas, and then I actually figure out how to make them happen. But in this past year, the non-sustainability of living like that, both physically and mentally has been beyond evident. So along with that, I’ve also gotten some clarity about valuing my time and my desire to be paid for my time, which you know, as a woman, and somebody who’s working for yourself and who loves to nurture and care for people is a tricky spot. But literally time is one of the few resources that we have that cannot be replenished and so I have really realized that I cannot just give mine away when I have specific goals I want to be meeting in life. So I’m in this new place where I’m noticing the ending of certain cycles in my life. It pains me to say it and at the same time frees me to say it, but the podcast is going to be one of those things. I have loved this podcast, like loved it, loved it. I feel like it has opened up something completely new for me that I didn’t know I could be skilled at and something that totally lights me up. I have enjoyed every single conversation I’ve had here and never hasn’t felt like an obligation. Part of that is because I pick my guests really specifically and I’m always eager to learn from everybody. But this new knowing has me understanding that I cannot just continue this very Apollonian way of living on and on. Here’s where your story helped me so much. I didn’t quite have the words yet for what I was feeling, what I was wanting more of in my life, until I remembered the Artemis and Apollo story from you. I’ve lived so much of my life on Apollonian time that I feel like it’s wired inside me and I’m just feeling like I want to let go of all the things that are not my most immediate—that aren’t feeding my Artemisian side. I’m so busy that as an author, I don’t even have time to read books. Every minute of my day is filled with something and it’s these ideas that I have that I love. But then the side of me that just wants to be, that side of me has never really existed. So thank you for giving me this framework and reminding me of it because that is what my body and my soul are really craving.

Britta:  Yeah. So they’ve probably been whispering for a little while. 

Brandy:  Yes. 

Britta:  One of the things that tends to happen is that whispers that go unanswered, get louder. I really honor and acknowledge you for listening in to your body and your heart and feeling the end of a season and a cycle. I don’t know what that means for you. Moving forward, you may not even know what that means for you moving forward.

Brandy:  Yeah, I really don’t.

Britta:  Yeah, and that might mean that it’s—I don’t know if you’re thinking gone for good, or if it’s maybe every now and then, who knows. But to be able to respond in this time and place to say yeah, this this is what I need. I need more unstructured time. 

Brandy:  Yes, that’s exactly it. I think too, the pandemic, and just getting older—I think I’m like 44 now, and I’m just thinking about this pandemic, I’ve had to sit and be like, “Okay, so what am I doing with this chunk of my life? Oh, wow, so I’m going to be working for X amount more years and what am I doing?” And then I’m like, “Oh, wow, I have not charged money for things for a decade.” Not to say that I haven’t charged at all but when I really look at where am I going and what do I have to show for it? I have so much in my heart to show for it that’s so worth it, but then there’s certain goals that I’m not meeting because I’m continuing to do this thing where I hustle, hustle, hustle, hustle, and want to give, give, give, give, give, and I’m like, “Actually, maybe I would be happier if I didn’t hustle as much and I had time to breathe, because my pocket book is going to be the same either way. Actually, I just started a job a couple months ago that I’m loving and so I’m really trying to focus on—I don’t even think I sat down—I was like, “What are my life goals? What am I really working toward?” The pandemic has given me the space and also some of the unwelcome panic to have to do that.

Britta:  Yeah. Frankly, doing some of that has an element of that Apollonian side of, “Let me plan and get organized,” but there is also elements of that in Artemis’s wilderness where animals prepare for winter. Animals gather food so that they can be sustained through a longer period of wintering.

Brandy:  Yes. That’s funny. A friend recommended a book, I forget who the author is. It’s called Wintering that was all about—

Britta:  Katherine May. 

Brandy:  Yes!

Britta:  Yes, I’ve read it. It’s lovely. It’s a lovely book, and really the concept of wintering and the seasons and the cycles of our lives. I mean, I’m coming to the end of my intensive parenting. In the fall, I will have two children off at college and none living in my home. Well, assuming they both get to go to college when—we’re still on somewhat of a pause about that. But I think that will be so. I know it will be for my adult son, my older son, but I think for my younger son as well. And that piece of, “Wow, okay, so I’m heading into the wintering of my parenting, it is going into sort of a hibernation period.” You know me so you know that I’m paying attention to this threshold. I’m looking at it and going, “Okay, this is coming and it isn’t something I want to step into without consciousness. I don’t want to be unconscious as I drop him off at school and drive away, and what’s that going to be like? I want to be paying attention to, “What do I need to be nourishing and nurturing along the way?” My husband and I are talking about, what kind of rituals are we going to do to mark this transition for ourselves? Currently, the leading idea is a RV road trip for a couple of weeks, to really be in that place that is not directly coming home and immediately moving back into our work lives and into a house that has fewer people in it, and kind of marking it and seeing who are we, when we reconnect? We reconnect with each other separate from parenting and have throughout our parenting journey together. This feels different. 

Brandy:  Yes. That’s so important. I always think about that, too, about how when kids leave, and all of a sudden you look at your spouse, and you’re like, “Oh, hi!” You’ve changed so much. I mean, those years that have forged you in fire, and then you’re like, “Oh, hi, now we have to—hopefully, we’ve done things along the way to enjoy our time together so that when that happens, it’s a happy reunion of sorts.” But you know, you can’t control it necessarily and it’s hard to gauge what that’ll be, but kudos to you guys for having nurtured that along the way.

Britta:  Well, we’ve had seasons, because relationships are seasonal, too. And this feels like a really big tectonic shift, so we want to really be in that place of feeling it, not trying to just ignore it. Feeling it, noticing what’s happening, and consciously stepping into it in a way that feels aligned with who we each are and what we want to do. The possibility of both of us just diving even deeper into our careers is so high. {Laughs}

Brandy:  Yeah, seriously. Right.

Britta:  That is something where—that’s part of why I think for both of us that the stepping away for a bit is probably going to be important.

Brandy:  So insightful. These phases of motherhood, too, I think sometimes it’s hard to notice them when you’re in them and it’s maybe not until you kind of pull back a little bit. It’s obvious when there’s kids leaving the house. Your boys going—both of them being at college is a big obvious deal. But I’m just thinking about how I feel with my kids being 7 and 14, I feel like there’s a lot of freedoms that have returned to me. I mean, the pandemic tried to take them away again this last year.

Britta:  Yes it did, because it was wildly, wildly Artemisian, by the way.  We are so used to our Apollonian structure, and suddenly it was like, “Oh, wait a minute.” So it stole a lot of those.

Brandy:  Exactly, exactly. And I think that this is why it forced me to kind of look at some of this stuff, because for the first time, it didn’t matter how much I hustled on things, there was just no moving forward. I had all of this stuff; my book launch, a possible movie deal, all these things happened at the beginning of a pandemic. It was like, “Brandy, it doesn’t matter, the lack of control, it doesn’t matter what you do, you can market and write as fast as you can, and if this if this ship is stalled right now, it’s stalled.” So in a way, that was a gift to me, and kind of pushed me into feeling and understanding that I was starved in this way. But for the most part with my kids being the age they are, they can be home alone together, which means I don’t have such a tight leash. My husband and I can go on dates alone, which is just wild. 

Britta:  Right.

Brandy:  I know there’s listeners out there who are like, I can’t believe that ever happens, who still have little kids, but the kids can figure out food for themselves. My older child puts my younger one to bed, and it’s both their favorite thing. She loves it when he puts her to bed, he loves doing it. It’s amazing. It’s a game changer. So part of this with the podcast is feeling like I’ve had a lot of conversations about the previous phase of motherhood. Any of the conversations I’ve wanted to have, I have had, and I’ve had them here. Now I feel like I’m moving to this next phase, like you said. Maybe I don’t even know what that looks like and that’s exactly right, because I feel like I’m not fully there yet. Some of the conversations are maybe a little bit different. Don’t get me wrong, I will never forget this previous phase. I wrote my book partially so I couldn’t forget it. 

Britta:  Right.

Brandy:  It’s an interesting thing to be into that next place and I think it would be easy for me and my hustler brain to just be like, “Keep going with the podcast, keep going. People send you messages, and they love it.” But at some point, I feel like I can’t just write a thing, because that’s what I’ve been doing. So I really wanted to be very intentional. I kind of knew in the moment that it hit me that this might be one of the things that has to go. And kind of like what you said, I want to leave it open so that I could pop on here and add an episode here or there because there’s already been a couple people who I’ve crossed paths with and I’m like, “Oh, I’d love to have them on the podcast!” And then I’m like, “Wait a minute, I literally don’t have the time to do that because of the amount of work it takes.” You know, all that stuff I do myself because I don’t have the financial resources to pay somebody, but to keep the podcast going, it is a full time job. So part of me is like, “Oh, but this is the way that I get to be very nosy about people in a professional sense so that if I want to know more about somebody, I’m just like, ‘Well come on the podcast.’ And then I get to ask a million questions.” So I’m gonna miss that part. It’s interesting to know that I think that this podcast is one of the things that stands between me and more of that Artemisian time, but I also feel like some of the podcast is an Artemisian project. What are your thoughts on how those things overlap sometimes, the Apollonian and the Artemisian in the same project? 

Britta:  They definitely do. They definitely do, and I think that there’s elements that each of us have more of a natural aptitude for, and then the sides that we have to that are more of a push or more of a clench. It’s interesting to hear you speaking about this, because there is clearly the the conversation part and the engaging with guests is the flow part for you, it’s that part that feels more fluid. The time and scheduling and editing and some of the other things that go along with that are more of those Apollonian things that are now not as—you have less energy for them.

Brandy:  That’s exactly right. If I could show up—if somebody could chopper me into a recording studio and I come with questions and then do my thing, and then get choppered out, and don’t have to do the booking, and then the editing and the website—

Britta:  And the social media resources and the things and the publicity and all of that. Oh, yeah, I hear you. I hear you big time.

Brandy:  All of that stuff. Every time I sit down to write questions, in my head, I’m always like, “Oh, yeah, I gotta write that interview.” Then the second I sit down, I’m just like, “Oh, my gosh, I have so much I want to ask this person.” I rarely ever get through all of my questions. So you’re right, this part feels very flowy to me. Maybe in the future there will be some way to have this experience in a way that brings in an amount of money that makes it worth my time and doesn’t feel like a depletion when I’m looking at the scales. Also kind of related to this, is I had a writing client say to me—I was telling her about this, and she was like, “Gosh, Brandy, you’re always so good at knowing when to stop things.” I think she was referring to when I stopped doing birth work, too. She said, “I’ll just hold on to something forever, just because that’s what I do.” I hadn’t really thought of that before. I thought maybe everybody stopped doing the thing when they felt like it was time to stop doing the thing. How are you about ending things in your life? How can you tell when something needs to stop? Are you usually early? Right on time? Late? How do you relate to that?

Britta:  Boy, those are some really good questions. I love hearing your own exploration around the timing of this, and the letting go and the stepping out. Again, I feel like perhaps maybe for you, it is a louder response. For me, those those often show up as whispers, similar to what we were talking about earlier. I’ve had a few endings and beginnings, as you know. You have walked beside me on a couple of endings. I think back even to what we were talking about, when I chose to leave Silicon Valley at age 13, that period of time in some ways it was too late. I sort of wish I’d gone earlier. But in another way, especially with 2020 hindsight, it was perfect. I really needed to feel that edge of this is no longer good for you. 

Brandy:  Yeah.

Britta:  This is no longer—so that it became a clean decision, and a movement forward that felt good. Similarly, I had an ending of my yoga teaching career. That was one that—I remember, my husband and I got married, and I was teaching. I was teaching unbelievable numbers of private clients as well as classes and various different things. We went to a retreat that he was kind of the assistant at for one of his teachers. It was some looking at life goals and various different things. Some of the exercises—I remember this one exercise was, where do you want to be in five years? And the only thing that kept coming up loudly and clearly to me was that I wanted to be a mom. I wanted to have kids. And yet I was in this other place that the Apollonian overculture was pressing down on me saying, “What’s your career? What’s your career? What are you going to do for your career?” It felt pressurized in a very distinctive way. And that place of reflection, the clarity of what was next for me was parenthood. Little did I know that stepping into that would actually lead to my career. 

Brandy:  Oh, gosh, wow. Right.

Britta:  Which, it did very much so. So some of that energy of, I needed to trust and let go into the the loud calling of the whisper of my body that was saying, “Hey, this is really, really important to you and yes, there’s this pressurized voice that says I need to have my career figured out, and I don’t think yoga teaching is it.” But instead just stepping in and stepping off the cliff into parenthood. That led me into teaching prenatal yoga, which then led me to start teaching childbirth classes, which led me to then partner and be a co-owner of birthing from within for several years that then, when that ended, led me to graduate school. Those endings, each of them was a painful ending in different ways, and brought newness in what was on the other side.

Brandy:  Exactly. And it’s that not knowing what’s on the other side. But I think as we get older (depending) I feel like we trust that more because we know that we’ve been on the other side of things, and there is something there, there’s always something there, we just don’t always know what it is. So I’m feeling very hopeful about what this other side is. But yeah, that question, too, in our heads about, “Well, what are you going to do with your career?” and some of those Apollonian voices. I think, too, with motherhood, sometimes you don’t have the time or even (especially during this year with kids home all the time) the mental space to even sit down and think about what—Even that question, “Where do you see yourself in the next five years?” I don’t know about my listeners, but when’s the last time that you’ve really sat down and thought about that and not just in the Apollonian way but, “What is my heart’s longing for the next five years? Where do I want to be?” I just think that we don’t make the space and so it’s sort of like the chasing of the tail, which is like, well, if we don’t make space for this version of ourselves, or to have these more Artemisian thoughts, then we can’t actually nurture our Artemisian side, because then we’re just stuck in Apollonian ways of thinking, which is where I think I was. I think this pandemic put a stick in the bike spokes of that for me. 

Britta:  What a great image. A very visceral image. {Laughs}

Brandy:  For sure. Yeah, it wasn’t comfortable. I think I busted my crotch on the bike bar. I’m sure I’m sure I did that. It has not been easy, and it has not gone unmedicated in some cases. {Laughs} But part of that is—it’s the whole thing. There’s just so much that feels like it’s falling away. And looking at, like I said, about aging, looking at my timeline and being like, “Oh, interesting. I should think about this, I would like to be more intentional about what I’m doing with my time.” This is another thing, this money piece, which came up for me, which is hard, because I’m somebody who as you know, and my listeners know, I love authentic connection. I absolutely believe that a well timed conversation can change our own life or somebody else’s life. I’m all about that. And then also I worry that by charging money for certain things, are people going to think that I’m all about the money? Which is just hilarious, because I’ve never been that way. But I definitely have a hang up with wanting to make things accessible for everybody. I owned a children’s clothing line years before, and I was under charging for my stuff because I was like, “I cannot imagine asking people to pay more than $20 for a baby t-shirt. But they were all handmade. So it’s not sustainable. I think the lesson of my life right now is sustainability and value and what do those things really look like? I think as women, especially, we get conditioned about this whole money thing. I’m feeling that. 

Britta:  Yes, we do. And then the whole money—the pressure of—I don’t know how to explain this, but it’s like the “don’t charge too much” is internalized misogyny and patriarchy in some really, really big ways. How do we break out of that and move into a sustainability model that is more of us saying, “Yeah, I do need to take care of my life and my children and what’s happening, and there is worth in what I what I offer and what I do.” 

Brandy:  Exactly! Exactly. For different personalities, that’s easier for some people and harder for other people, but it doesn’t make sense to just be hustling, hustling, hustling, but then I know the people that I work with, as moms I know that we don’t always have a lot of resources and so it’s like, “Well, I always want to make things affordable for people, but then I’m gonna end up not doing the thing because I actually can’t sustain myself. So then how is that helping?” That could be another one of these summit calls, “Women and charging money.” So I’m really trying to be better about boundaries for that and about valuing my time, which is partially why I got in this new position that I’m loving. But all of these things. This is where I feel like I’m in a different phase of my life. That’s why it was so interesting when I thought about, “Oh my gosh, I need to have Britta on as my last guest because I look up to you on rituals and how you mark time, and phases of motherhood, and all of those things. I just so value your thoughts here, and even just coming on and helping me process these things. I’m wondering, how would you suggest to listeners, how they might recognize and close out certain phases or events in their lives that need that to be done?

Britta:  I mean, I think you’ve already said it, but I do think there’s real value in ritualizing it and marking it in some way. I didn’t realize that I’m your last guest. That just—Woo! I feel that.

Brandy:  I know. I didn’t want to tell you that because I didn’t want you to have the weight. I didn’t want you to be like, “Oh, God!”

Britta:  Wow! I feel very honored and moved, and like your listeners there’s emotion in there, too. It’s really very powerful to hear you speak about this ending period. I kind of want to come on and do an interview of you around the ending for you, or I hope you’ll do a solo episode where you just kind of talk about what that process is for you.

Brandy:  Yeah, maybe so.

Britta:  But yeah, I think that ritualizing it, marking it, and probably more important than anything is giving oneself permission to mourn. There is this, when we move on, we’re supposed to just move on and be happy. 

Brandy:  Yeah. 

Britta:  While there is certainly the possibility of moving on and being happy, I think we often rush the transition by not giving ourselves the time to mourn what is also being lost. We see this in new parenthood frequently. We don’t mourn or allow ourselves to mourn the loss of the life we had before we had children, or mourn the loss of an idealized birth that we really wanted that maybe we didn’t get, or mourning the space of my children moving on, and leaving this part of parenthood. There is going to be mourning for me with that, and excitement.

Brandy:  Totally.

Britta:  But it’s the “and.” The “both and.” Giving ourselves space for the “both and,” and especially the mourning. I moved houses after over 20 years in the house that I raised my kids in, that I taught my my childbirth classes in, that was the center of our homeschool community, the center of our extended community, after that, family gatherings, everything. And when we moved, I really needed to give myself space and time to mourn the closing.To mourn the ending of that chapter. Now I’m able to be very happy where we are now. Do I miss my old home, the childhood home of my children? I have times when I do and my children have times that they do. 

Brandy:  And then you see the fire maps?

Britta:  And then there’s fires, like there were recently and I’m like, “Nope, nope, don’t miss it!” {Laughs} But to be able to continue to hold space for both.

Brandy:  Yeah, it’s so funny that you bring up the morning—Haha, mourning is hilarious—because it reminds me of another really visceral memory from your class. It was probably the paint one, and then the other one was, you had us do a slow dance. You had the lights down, and there was only one other couple in that class, I remember. By the way, amazing, because the other woman in the class was 50 and didn’t think she could get pregnant anymore and then ended up getting pregnant, which, people all the time who are like, “I can’t get pregnant.” I’m like, “Let me tell you about my childbirth class.” Because I remember her saying, “I thought I was in menopause and then here we are.” So anyway, so we were doing this slow dance and I didn’t realize that it was going to come over me but I think you had sort of set it up like, “You know, this time is changing, and it’s no longer going to be just the two of you, now it’s going to be the three of you. I’ve got this giant belly, and I bawled through the entire thing. I just felt it in that moment. It was so real and it was like, even though I hadn’t become a mother yet, I think I was still a month or so out. It was like, in that moment, I could feel all that was going to change. Like you’re saying, I was on this edge and I knew how big it was gonna be. I knew it was gonna break my heart, even though it was the most exciting time of my life. I just remember bawling my eyes out on my husband’s chest and it still is a super emotional memory, because it really reminds me of just how hard it has been to let go of that part of who I am, and then now to be finding those pieces slowly along the way and leaving some of them behind. But it was almost as if in that moment, I knew, like Brandy, this is going to fucking rock your world and you are going to spend over a decade just figuring out how to deal with this, and how to bridge the different parts of yourself. That almost feels like this very ominous, beautiful, sad, exquisite, special moment.

Britta:  I love that. Now you’re on a different precipice. How do you allow yourself to feel and mourn and dance to that precipice of this coming to an end? Yeah. And that is both part of the beginning and part of the end. You’ve got an ending and you’ve got a beginning. That is part of what those moments are. I think that that’s the big part of it is, how do we hold space for endings and beginnings?

Brandy:  Which is what life is, over and over again. It’s like life is endings and beginnings just on repeat, different ways, every day, little and big. Like I said, it’s starting to become where I’m more familiar with it, like, “Oh, it only took 44 years for me to understand there is something waiting on the other side.” But, man, it’s something that continues to come, whether you want it to or not. I really feel like I felt relief when I’ve thought about this decision, and also some pain, so I think this whole “both and” idea is helpful for me. I just so appreciate your being my sort of “Last Lecture,” not to be morbid. But Britta, where can people find you? And will you tell us just a bit about your book? Because your book could be like its own thing, and really is its own thing that we could spend hours on. Actually, we should have spent hours on that sometime months ago. But will you tell us a little bit about it? Because I feel like it is life changing for people who are in the childbearing years.

Britta:  Thank you. Yeah, it’s called Transformed by Birth: Cultivating Openness, Resilience, and Strength for the Life Changing Journey from Pregnancy to Parenthood. Long subtitle, but it gets the point across. It’s organized in three parts, and the middle part, which is really the bulk of the book, looks at what I’ve identified as eight cultural ideals that really influence us from the overculture, some of those things that press down on us. The third one is where I explore Artemis and Apollo and that’s the reverence for ordered culture over wild nature. The first one is, of course, the desire for control and the need for certainty, because that’s sort of everywhere, that’s sort of the foundational issue and value within this Apollonian culture. So all of that is about prenatal preparation for birth and new parenthood. Then part three is all about the postpartum period and really looking at it from both the personal place as well as the relationship place in how to learn how to parent as well as the transformation of becoming a parent. Those are different paths and they happen sort of at the same time, but they’re very much in there together.

Brandy:  So valuable because so many of the birth books really just brush over that in a not deep way and yours does such a great job.

Britta:  Thank you. I love that part and even though it was a piece that—my editor was like—I turned in a manuscript that was almost 120,000 words and my contract was for 60 to 70, so it was like double the size of what it was supposed to be. So my editor’s, like, “Let’s cut, let’s cut, let’s cut. How about we just cut this whole piece about postpartum or about relationship?” And I was like, “No, we gotta have that in there.” So I fought for it. And then people can reach me through my website, which is BrittaBushnell.com, and then my social media handles, Instagram and Facebook are both “Britta Bushnell, PhD.” 

Brandy:  You also have a podcast?

Britta:  I do. I have a podcast that is coming up on its second season soon, and that is called Transformed. It’s really not birth-specific, it’s about the transitions and transformations, and speaking with my teachers and people who have influenced me in my work, and that I find powerful and valuable. I go there.

Brandy:  Well, Britta, thank you for being my final guest, probably. It feels perfect to have you ushering me out of this phase, since you’re the one that was there ushering me into motherhood and birth work, and I so value you, our history together—

Britta:  That makes me teary. It just makes me teary. I’m so honored. I think what you’ve been doing is just tremendous and remarkable and resilient. AND choosing to find a conscious ending is also admirable, and something to hold and honor. So I congratulate you on the unbelievable number of times that you have done this and have worked with people. I’m just very impressed.

Brandy:  Thank you so much.

Brandy:  Lots of feelings here, listening to this again, as I edit it for you. It’s been interesting. I recorded this about a month or so ago, and since I made the decision to wind down the podcast, other things have come into my life that I previously didn’t have the space for. You hear about how saying “yes” to things means you have to say”no” to other things. And vice versa, saying “no” to things means you get to say “yes” to other things. It’s so simple. But as busy moms, sometimes we don’t make the most intentional choices. I mean, survival mode will do that to a person. But I imagine there are some of you out there who are maybe moving to the next phase of motherhood, like me, and find yourself wanting to be more intentional about what you’re doing. I think this is also called “midlife,” as in “midlife crisis.” And I also wanted to keep it real and say that as I have started taking things off my plate lately, and have really leaned into rest and a boundaried workplace and not over functioning and hustling, I thought I would just be sitting here in joy and gratitude and that feeling I yearned for of just being. But actually, the first feeling was some deep inner questions like, “What am I doing with my life? Do I want to live where I live? Did I get on a wrong path somewhere?” And then it spirals very quickly. It’s like once there’s quiet, deeper questions emerge. So if anybody else is going through this, and you’re like, “Oh, why am I not happy? I thought that taking things off my plate would just fix everything.” Before that happens, you actually have to deal with the thoughts and the feelings and the questions that you haven’t really had time or let yourself tend to, because you’ve been so busy. When you unbusy yourself, there is a period of time where a lot of shit comes to the surface. So I just want to validate that for anybody else out there. But then I think for me, that shift in my mindset trickled down into everything else, because some really positive changes that my family has been working towards for years are finally starting to happen, and I’m like, “Hmm, is this because I finally have room for these things?” I think the answer is “yes.” So my note to you is don’t busy your life up with things that don’t lead you to where you want to go. Also hire a babysitter so you can sit with yourself and maybe your partner too, and really feel into where your inner Artemis wants to go, because I’d be willing to bet that your inner Apollo has been in the driver’s seat for a long time. Maybe that’s what midlife is. A switch in drivers. “Artemis! Take the wheel!” Something else I recognize is that this hard working, hustling part of myself that is curious about life, and a go getter, and loves well organized anything—The Container Store is my fucking happy place—That part of me, she doesn’t have to be completely banished. But as I get older, I realize that that part of me is a specific tool for specific jobs and it’s not where I want to be operating from 24/7. For example, we just recently put our house on the market and everything happened so fast. We found a house that checked all our boxes (we didn’t expect to) and then we needed to move on it quickly, which meant getting our current house ready really quickly. So in one and a half days, with my husband out of town, I took my house from regular “kids home from summer” status to “show ready.” And I knew I could do it. My realtor was like, “I don’t know, I’ve never had anybody do it in this short of time.” And I’m like, “No, no, you don’t know me and my superpower yet.” And I did it. It was wild, and the house sold in like three days. But yes, I did pay for it physically for a week after. It was such a good reminder that I can’t live like that, going, going going all the time. But it’s a great tool for when I infrequently need it, keyword “infrequently.” The hard part is, I felt like when I had young kids, which was like for a decade, because my kids are spaced out pretty far, I felt like it was a tool I needed all the time. So I don’t know how to get around that and I don’t think I ever will. The fix for that hardship of motherhood with small kids, I don’t think I’ll ever find that. I don’t know that there is one. I mean, there’s a lot of systemic changes that could surely help, which my entire podcast has talked about. Anyway. So I don’t know what the future holds for this podcast. I don’t want to close the door entirely, as I’ve loved these connections and conversations with my awesome guests, and also with you, my beloved listeners. But also if you know of any interviewing gigs that are paid, let me know about that. 

Brandy:  So I want to leave you with a question. What’s something in your life that you’ve outgrown, or maybe you haven’t even outgrown it, but you need some space from? Like the season for it is changing? Again, by saying “yes” to some things, we have to say “no” to other things. By saying “yes” to this podcast, I was saying “no” to having unscheduled time in my life. Just remember this as you volunteer for 35 jobs at your kids school this fall. Don’t do it. Also, I’m leaving at 67 podcasts deep, which is two away from honoring my 13 year old boy humor, so maybe that means I will have to return to get to the magic number.

Brandy:  A quick plug for my book, which as an indie author I gotta do. If you’re enjoying this podcast, you will likely enjoy my book, Adult Conversation: A Novel. It’s a darkly comedic story about a frazzled modern mother and her therapist who go on a Thelma and Louise style road trip to Vegas, looking for pieces of themselves that motherhood and marriage swallowed up while they are also tested and tempted to make life altering choices. Yes, there are strippers, there’s weed. It’s Vegas. One Amazon reviewer said, “Absolutely phenomenal. One of those books that you ignore everything going on in life to finish it. It leaves you wanting more. Never has there been a book that has such a clear portrayal of the real struggles of being a mom. We all lose a part of ourselves, sometimes a huge chunk once that little baby is put in your arms, but we cannot lose all of ourselves.” And this reviewer was not even friend nor family (that I know of). 

Brandy:  As always, thanks for listening! {kiss sound}

** As always, thank you to Scott Weigel and his band, Seahorse Moon, for providing me with that jaunty intro and outro music. You guy are awesome. Check ’em out on iTunes.