Monday, June 17, 2013

Got Courage?

I am excited to introduce you to Shauna Brandes, a new doula with an old soul.  Here she shares a simple story of courage that inspired me, and reminded me of the richness of spirit that fills the doula community.  Doulas are grassroots women who do not wait for permission to help other women reclaim their inner strength.  I see Shauna as a specialist in the transformation of fear into healing, which is a journey many of us must travel as we birth our families and all aspects of our lives.  Please visit her Web site for more fiery inspiration through her words as well as a beautiful photo gallery at  Welcome and thank you to Shauna.


You see this flaming red hair of mine?  I’m considering letting it go, for now, and returning to dark, mysterious tresses but I’m having the hardest time saying goodbye. It’s as if the blood red dye has seeped into the definition of my being.

I know, this sounds ridiculous and a bit trite, right? It’s hair color for heaven’s sake!

But somehow it’s become a big deal in my mind. Although I live in the very progressive and inclusive city of San Francisco, am heavily tattooed and sport a nose piercing, dyeing my hair to this vibrant hue was outside of my comfort zone. I had dreamt of doing it for a long time but didn’t believe I had the confidence to sport it or the personality to live up to it.

My opportunity to go for it came last August as I embarked on a pilgrimage to a gathering in the desert where radical individuality and creative expression is central to a full, meaningful existence. I figured I could bravely dye my hair this crazy red--cherry bomb to be exact--and would simply return it back to “normal” after the event. No big deal.

Maybe the bleach and vegetable dye damaged some brain cells. Or perhaps the freedom I experienced in the desert helped make the intention of how I want to live my life even more clear. When I returned I kept the fierce hair and decided it was time to move forward fulltime with living my passion of serving women during pregnancy, birth and early motherhood. Since late last year I’ve been slowly crafting my business, my online presence, and dreaming of how I want to be of real service in the world and creating its manifestation.

Along the way, this crazy hair has admittedly pumped up my ego. I’m stopped almost every single day with compliments, even from old ladies who tell me they wish they had the guts to do something so bold. My friends say this color merely reflects the spirit they’ve always seen in me and is something I could have been born with naturally, if such an awesome thing was possible. Because the creation of my business coincided with me having this hair, the red has even become a part of my brand and sets me apart from my peers. It’s eye-catching, alluring, stands out, and has infused new life into this introvert.

It’s obviously not about the hair, but what it represents to me: freedom, confidence, power, and the balls to make my dreams a reality.

A simple dye job helped me step outside of a previously held idea of myself. My hair now carries a deeper meaning of empowerment and growth.  I don’t need to wait in the wings, be a wallflower, or shy away from shining brightly.  There’s no way I could get lost in the crowd with this hair anyway!

But freedom, confidence and power were not bestowed upon me through hair dye. They swelled up from within me, and only because they have always been intrinsic to who I am.  (If you’ve read about my life, you know I’m no weakling.)  The hair color was simply a guide to allowing me to see those qualities in myself and step more fully into my true being.  Now that I’ve learned so much about myself through something as simple as hair color, I don’t need to grasp onto it to successfully blaze my trail in the world.

I suppose that’s not too unlike my role when assisting a woman giving birth. I don’t change who you are. I don’t make you stronger. I don’t make you braver. I don’t give you confidence. My gift is guiding you to those qualities and tools already within you. I’m your fiery red hair that helps you tap into your inner rock star so you can birth your baby empowered and with confidence.

My reflection of you as your doula is less significant than the powerful woman you remember you are deep within at a moment you need it most.

Just as I’ll soon say goodbye to my red locks, you’ll eventually bid farewell to my role in your life as a birth doula. We’ll both move on because what we once needed has fulfilled its purpose, for now. But you won’t lose what you learned about yourself during the journey of childbirth any more than I’ll lose my gusto for freedom and empowerment just because I change my hair back to brown.

And then maybe in a few years we’ll both revisit that which held up a mirror to our greatness and strength, and I’ll be rocking my red hair once again at the birth of your second baby.


  1. this is why i got dreadlocks. i love them. its been a similar experience to hers. sometimes i catch myself saying something totally out of my character, bold, brash, and something that needed to be said, and think "oh, that's the dreadlocks talking". it's been really good for me.

  2. My birth assistant helped save my life. Knowing she was there for me helped me feel no fear. I knew she had me. People who help with births are a part of a larger world we are only occasionally privileged to visit.

  3. Shauna, your story was exactly what I needed to hear! Every word of it. Thank you for sharing :o)