Wow- so much has happened since my last post! Where to start?
Let’s start with -> July was busy. Really, it’s more of a disclaimer than anything! 🙂 As June turned to July and the International Babywearing Conference was fast approaching, I was packing, babysitting for a friend (which meant daily wrapping a smaller kiddo! Woo!), and the excitement for the upcoming trip was building. Then, at 9 days out, I received an email from the Center for Babywearing Studies letting me know that they had a last minute drop and I was first on the waitlist for their Foundations Course that would take place before IBC & would I like to fill the spot. Um, YES, yes I would! So I spent the next few days in a frenzy getting flights moved, hotels added, and clothes washed (yes, I know that I said I was packing but that was really just me trying to decide what carriers/wraps I would be bringing with me!!). It was a little surreal walking into the airport that very Saturday, knowing that I was on my way to higher babywearing education, IBC, and making my business dreams a reality and all sooner than October!
How to describe my time at the Foundations Course? Enlightening. Entertaining. Thought provoking. Fantastic! I am so very thankful for the opportunity to have learned from the amazing Joanna McNeilly, Founder of the Center for Babywearing Studies. She opened my eyes to the wonders of teaching openly and to immersing myself fully into my community. I’ve learned sooooo much that I could probably write pages on it but instead I think I’ll narrow it down to 3 things, simply to keep the post short(ish).
1-Active Listening. I went into the course not knowing what to expect, so I went with a clear mind, a sort of clean slate so that I would focus and absorb any information that was new to me or different than how I had learned it. Or, at least I thought I had gone in with the ability to actively listen.
One of the wonderful things that I learned while there, and now apply to everyday life, was what listening truly is. In Western society, and in the United States specifically, we listen with a tendency to formulate a response to what the other person is saying AS we listen. True listening is about being in the moment and NOT thinking about a response, just letting the other person say what they need to say without any input or interruption from the listener, even within our own mind. It sounds simple and many people would immediately think “That’s how I listen all the time!”, but DO YOU?! Try not having a single thought in your head the next time you have a conversation with somebody; you may find that it is much harder to do than you previously anticipated, especially if the topic is exciting. Active listening is very important when you are there to help somebody else learn a new skill; it can tells you their hopes, fears, and anxieties. By better listening, you can help meet their needs in a bigger way.
2- Ring Slings. Ring Slings are the US’s contribution to the babywearing world! This was a very exciting discovery for me! I often hear mentioned around the babywearing community that the US is only just now getting ‘back to the basics’ and as a newcomer in this modern era of wearing, has nothing of its own to contribute and that it is only able to copy what is already there. But did you know that in the early 1980’s, Rayner & Sachi Garner invented the double ringed, closed tailed ring sling (as we know it today), the concept was bought by Dr. William Sears a few years later, and the rest is not only history but our legacy?! While babywearing in North America was recognized and in use long before it was founded as the country that we know today, it is exciting to see where our modern connection with babywearing came from and how it has evolved in such a short amount of time.
3- Moving away from taboos & conjecture. This was hands down the most eye opening part of the course for me. It made me realize that in today’s world of social media, it is very easy for ‘information’ to be passed around. It can start out as a simple, well meaning, suggestion by a caregiver and suddenly it becomes a kind of ‘law’, spread far & wide and much too quickly for it to be debunked. “Oh you shouldn’t do that because…” “That’s dangerous…” “That’s not safe…” “Your baby isn’t old enough for that until…” And so on & so forth. You can literally fill in the blanks with just about anything.
But by saying ‘No’ and establishing rules based of conjecture and hear-say limits caregivers to wearing possibilities that have the ability to help them & their child or this unreceptive (but well intentioned) attitude could possibly turn them away from babywearing all together. It also has the potential to lay offense to cultures who have been wearing certain ways for many generations, ways that we in the West are now deeming ‘unsafe’. It definitely left me with much to think about.
I could quite literally go on allllll day about what I learned and the wonderful time that I had at my Foundations course! I met some great new ladies during my class, met a good online friend for the first time in-person, and made some new lasting friendships across the community. I left feeling like I was ready to take on the world! I was ready to go home and finalize my business paperwork right then and put it all into practice! But not before I experienced the International Babywearing Conference, of course.
IBC was a fantastic networking experience for someone just starting out with a business in babywearing. I had the great opportunity to work in the 2Lambie Onbu booth and put much of what I leaned at CBWS Foundations to practice, teaching about & fitting many caregivers to the Japanese style carrier over a 3 day period. It was wonderful meeting so many new caregivers, and all so excited to experience the many facets of wearing!
The lectures were amazing and I wish that I could have managed to attend all of them!! There were SO MANY subjects- cultural ones such as The History of the Onbuhimo and The Bebe Sachi Project, physical how-to wrapping classes, science based lectures such as Kangaroo Care and Attachment Theory, and even social media ones like Blogging 101 and a how-to selfie class. Thankfully, IBC will be posting the lecture notes soon and I cannot wait to geek out reading them!
IBC brought together people from all over the babywearing world, even those who have become celebrities within our industry. I had already met the beautiful Laura Brown before at a Mommycon, and it was through some great advice of hers that set me down the path towards consulting and for that I will always be grateful! I loved getting to catch up with her again.
It was also great meeting some of the hand-weavers that I’ve followed on social media for a while, including Wendy from wenweave., Rini from Fiolia, Farideh/Banu Textiles, and Rita & Azizah over at Bebe Sachi, to name a few.
Putting in-person, faces-to-names moments over at the Risaroo, Cari Slings, Bijou Wear, Yaro Slings, Apple Blossom Wovens, and Kokoskaa booths were also picture worthy moments (seriously though, next time we need name tags with profile pictures attached!!!).
Stopping by the Carrying On Project and Lift Me Up booths gave me a finer appreciation for the volunteer efforts of others. All the gals readily gave me information and passionately told me about their causes. It was inspiring, to say the very least!
And of course getting to introduce myself to tutorial gurus such as Hedwych Veeman from Wrap You in Love, Babywearing Faith, & Wrapping Rachel, were “fan girl” moments for me (although practically bowling over Faith & Rachel while running in the opposite direction wasn’t exactly how I’d pictured that encounter going…), I mean really, who hasn’t watched one of their How-To wrapping videos?! There were so many more awesome crafters, creators, weavers, and owners who I didn’t get the chance to mention here but who are more than deserving of entire blog posts! Everyone was so sweet and genuine, it felt as if I’d known them all for a lifetime.
Once home, I dove head first into filling out all the paperwork necessary for beginning my own business. State, city, and even some federal paperwork was filled out, filed, or mailed. Business cards have been created and the website is still undergoing some big changes. It was many days worth of nothing but information overload sent to other people but in the end it all worked out and now I am OFFICIALLY A SMALL BUSINESS OWNER!!! It’s very surreal, but it also feels RIGHT. I’ve done so many amazing jobs in my life; I’ve worked on F-18s, been a florist, gone through EMT school, worked at a hospital, managed a restaurant, been a full-time student, and worked in a bookstore (to name a few) and nothing has ever felt less like a ‘job’ than babywearing! I think that I have finally found my true calling. I’ve always loved helping people in one form or another and I am certain that helping caregivers through wearing is absolutely where I’m needed, second as a career only to being a mother which trumps everything 🙂
I am also proud to announce that I am now a contact person (Party Rocker for TCOP!) for both The Carrying On Project and Lift Me Up in my greater area! I am very excited for both of these non-profit organizations and where they are going within the babywearing community and I am happy to be volunteering with both!
I admit- it was HARD writing this post! It took me almost a month with all the crazy busy-ness but also because I had to pick and choose what would go into it. Which, after such an action packed, full scheduled, full-throttled journey, it was extremely difficult to do just that. Hopefully it makes sense to those of you unable to attend, and perhaps I will see many of you along the way to the next one. ~ Cheers!