Sophie's Story

sophieandbabyjulius

My work as a mother and as a support person for mothers is indelibly infused with the lineage of my ancestors – a strong maternal line of nurses, midwives, intuitives and undoubtedly ancient medicine women. It is also informed by all the women who walk this path of mother with me, across the span of space and time. Their feminine traditions and wisdoms have guided me home to this resting place of service, and for that I am truly grateful.

After the birth of my first child in 2014, I entered a phase of my life I had never dreamt would demand so very much of me – physically, mentally, emotionally, soulfully. I am a writer and the self-published author of two books (The Beginning of an Inexplicable Journey, 2011, and Heart of Bold, 2017.) These books were wrung from my heart until every last ounce of me was on the page. When my son came along, I entered into a new dimension of life where motherhood would become my sole focus, my spiritual practice and my greatest challenge. Though I always longed to be a mother, it was as if my life had become a kōan I needed to decipher, a mysterious grouping of words and sounds that required my fullest attention. No one could have prepared me for the rite of passage this experience was.

I had imagined motherhood would be a sunny time, brim with some sweet stickiness reserved only for parents. My birth was exhilarating and intense, my postpartum glorious and emotional. Later, I realized that motherhood is some of the most challenging work a woman can do in her life – especially in our modern culture of doing-it-all and leaning in. I needed to step back. Thankfully, my intuition (and my wise mother) assisted in guiding me through this shadowy transition. At the time, I was 6 months postpartum and feeling almost completely reborn. I couldn't go back, and yet the way forward was unclear. The past hung to me by a thread. I remember chopping a massive cabbage in my mothers' kitchen in Australia one day when she asked me: “What do you love to do, day in, day out? What doesn't feel like work?" I looked down at my hands on the great green flower, and said, this.

When we moved to Los Angeles after several years in New York City, I dove into medicinal food theory* and soon, a shamanic path,** which truly rooted my love of the Earth directly to my passions in ceremony and nourishment. I took a year to build my mesa, alchemizing most powerfully several wounds from my time as a model – years rife with eating disorders and soul searching. This shamanic passage involved the unforeseen death of one of my teachers mid-year, reminding me again to breathe each breath deeply and gratefully, to live life with my arms wide open to the sun. I was coming home to my true self, a resting place I had longed for perhaps all my life. Who am I? I would ask myself over and over again in my earlier writing. What am I here for? What is the meaning of it all?

The luminous points of my life were coming together in a constellation I understood. After a decade in the kitchen learning to nourish my body with nutrient dense food – whether tenderly recovering from severe food deprivation as a model, or nurturing my newly pregnant and postpartum body with high vibe foods – I began to see what I held in my fingertips. Wisdom. Earth wisdom. Feminine wisdom. And a burning passion. I wanted to serve women, and the Earth. I wanted to live in integrity, to connect women to Mother Earth, and to the energy that births us all. I wanted to protect the children and give them a beautiful beginning. Mostly I wanted to pour my love into the sacred space that is a woman’s transition into motherhood, so that she could go on her own vision quest, after birthing tomorrow’s children in health and harmony.

Looking back, I see how my own journey had me tumbling down the river, chipping away at my jagged edges. My postpartum passage involved thirteen flights with a baby under 6 months old, and when we moved to LA I entered my Saturn return and fell into a 10 month depression, feeling so disconnected from the land and my soul path. I wanted to give to women what I felt I needed so deeply. (I had launched a women's counseling service shortly after I graduated as a health coach with IIN, but I wanted more of a direct connection with women than just by phone or Instagram.) I wanted to be filled up. To be nourished while I nourished my nursing child beside me. When I think about it, I probably just needed a cup of tea or a bowl of soup at my mothers’ table! Her great feasts dominate many of my childhood memories – the 10 foot table filled with Moroccan platters and pannacotta, poached pears and crepes, steaming Asian-inspired noodle soups on a school night, a fresh egg cracked directly into the bowl. I also remember fondly my father’s porridge on cold winter mornings in Australia – oats and salt and cream and brown sugar, or the hot sweet milk my grandmother, the midwife, would give me if I had trouble falling asleep.

As a new mother, wildly unsure, I believe I really needed this circle of family and heritage and nourishment around me, and most especially my mother, my grandmothers, my aunts and my sister. They were all living overseas in Australia and England, very far away from our life in California. What I could have really benefited from was the presence of a new movement of women supporting women, sisters united to provide what a new mother needs – someone to bring me a pot of stew, or a mug of golden milk and a reassuring smile. I could see very clearly what was missing. And don’t they say that if you can hear what the world is calling in, then you are the one to bring it? The idea for Milk + Seed came to me in droplets. First, the name arrived while I was nursing my son to sleep one pastel dusk in Ojai. It was going to be a cookbook. Then, whilst in my kitchen on the permaculture farm, the idea – it was more of a command! – to create a postpartum delivery service dropped in like lightning.

I had been asking myself, praying for an answer: How I can be most of service in my community today?

My mothers’ words echoed: What do you love to do, day in, day out?

I love to cook. I love to feed people. I love to write. I love to celebrate life! This is my calling. A calling to serve directly the families on the Earth around me. This is a space I believe in. This is work I believe in with a fervent love. I can start here. I can feed mamas what they need to be strong and healthy, calm and clear. I can assist in nourishing our postpartum times so that we may have the space to ask those questions I asked, to rebirth ourselves with an ease I lacked, and to find our own ways forward as new mothers – as ancient mothers – in sweet, soulful beauty and trust. Many of us are waking up to the ways our culture has disconnected itself from healing traditions, and yet realizing how deeply yesterday may teach us to move forward in health today. What might we do when we weave the wisdoms of yesterday with the realities of today? It is an absolute joy and passion to provide this service for mamas and their families. Please explore the site, join the newsletter for free monthly recipes and gathering opportunities. This is just the beginning – who knows what each new day will bring? I feel truly inspired to share all I have learned, with all of my heart.

May the children and the women be healthy and free,

In love,
~ Sophie

*I studied with The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, graduating as a Certified Health Coach.
** I completed the Medicine Wheel in 2016 with the late Tomas Bostrom and Celia Blackwood, graduating as a Full Mesa Carrier with Shaman’s Journey, Ojai.

To read more of my words, visit The Love River.

Sophie Ward