Updated: Jul 11
: Rhythm / Devotion : is a series of interviews intended to illuminate the connection to ritual & rhythm in our daily lives. This series explores the intimacy of routine, the magic of the ordinary, & how these small acts of devotion set the stage for larger workings in the world ~
What is your name & where are you in the world?
My name is Mell Pulsifer. I live with my daughter, husband, dog, and two goats in Harpswell, Maine.
How do you define yourself?
I identify as so many things, and nothing in particular. I'm a midwife, mother, partner, cozy food loving Taurus... those are the obvious ones.
Will you walk us through what a day in your life looks like? Begin with how you greet the morning & guide us until you close off the day in the eve ~
In the early morning my husband, Sven, brings our 21 month old daughter into my bed to breastfeed, snuggle up, and snooze. Then we head downstairs to let Sven sleep. We let the dog and goats out, make coffee, eat breakfast, and tidy up our kitchen (which is full of evidence of dinner preparation from the prior day).
After the morning chores, I drink coffee while the kiddo plays. She's always had an incredible attention span for playing. It's wonderful to warm up with a cup of coffee, and watch my girl explore her world. This is also when I schedule virtual midiwifery appointments and meetings etc.
In the late morning we eat a small meal. Usually leftovers from the night before. Today it was clam and broccoli jalfrezzi with rice. Having declicious and comforting food is a must for me. Cooking grounds me. I strive for fragrant, savory, and textured meals. It's a sensory experience that brings predictable pleasure to the day.
Then we suit up in rain gear (pretty much rain or shine) to play outside in the field, stream, woods... My daughter loves to find sunlit moss patches in the woods to sit on. She invites me to sit, and then (during this time of social distancing) she names off all the other people she'd like to join us. We call out to them, "Mimi! Come join us! We love you! Ramona! Come join us! We love you!" Talking to our loved ones, including them in our days, is so joyful. I hope that they can feel our desire to have them close during those moments.
After our time outside we grab a couple snacks for the road and have a car nap. During this time I listen to a podcast, journal (once the kiddo is asleep and it's safe to stop driving), and meditate. Right now I'm using Head Space. My goal has been to remember that the world is still open to me, and that I am still open to the world. That light and joy still flow in both directions. It's not always easy, I need the daily reminder.
Following nap we play outside again, and generally FaceTime with a family member or friend. Around this time I make myself a cup of tea or small glass of gin. I love the botanical smells and flavors. Having a drink I can tote around with me helps me keep a slower pace. With a toddler a walk to the mailbox can turn into a half and hour long excursion- no puddle goes unsplashed.
Then we go inside and make dinner. I've been wanting lots of flavor. Tonight we had sweet potato and tomato soup, which was loaded with fresh ginger and curry. I also made a coriander blueberry crisp. We try to eat together, but it doesn't always work. At the very least we all three come together for a couple pre-baby-bedtime stories. Favorites right now are The Little Brown Bat Story and Little Women. Sometimes a cup of chamomile lavendar tea with lots of oat milk in it is called for as well.
Sven puts our daughter to bed. Then we come together to cuddle up quietly. Usually we watch a movie or read. Sometimes we have to catch up on computer work, but we both try really hard to avoid work during this just us time.
Bedtime comes, and I bring the dog out for his final pee. Usually I try to scan the sky for bats, shooting stars, or woodcock peents. Sometimes its just dark and cold and I want to get inside quickly. Brush teeth, take out contacts, and bring a glass of water up to bed. For the last few weeks I've slept alone in a giant and new king sized bed. I take a minute before I fall asleep to appreciate the flannel sheets, massive bed, and warm blankets. We really do live in abundance.
You are a midwife ~ how do you prepare yourself &/or your space to enter into this practice?
Midwifery lately has been changing. So much more of it is virtual. I'm getting more clients transferring care from hospital births. I'm working hard to preserve the connection that is so important to the way that home birth midwives practice. For me a small client load leads to the intimacy that is absolutely essential to inspiring me and helping to prevent burnout.
Before a birth I have to find a way to center myself. Usually I get a call in the middle of the night, and need to get active quickly. It's easy to feel harried. So I make sure that on my car ride to the birth I drink a bottle of water and focus on my breath. I often times take For My Midwives essence blend right while setting up for a birth. It's in my kit, but it's just for me. The preparations are simple, but they work. Bringing busy energy into someone's birth space is unfair. The birthing person needs to feel there is no rush, no extra energy, just a nearby support if needed.
What do you do/not do if you are feeling stuck around your work?
Fear can creep in regardless of pandemics. It's useful for a midwife. There is always the knowledge that an emergency could be part of the care you provide. I have to work to not let that fear sit in me. It used to. Now I think experience has given me confidence. If I do notice its presence I have to run, sing, shower, something to let it flow away. These practices happen more the closer I feel to a birth day. It helps me live the on call life.
Do you have a movement practice?
Mostly walking in the woods, running, or walking my dog Finn. During the summer I swim daily. Lately I've been meaning to support the local yoga studio, which offers donation based virtual classes during the state mandated isolation period.
What does structure mean to you, or what is your philosophy around ritual/routine?
I've always been a go with the flow of a day kind of person. I'm not one to (outside of midwifery appointments etc.) create a schedule. However, there is an undeniable rhythm to the day. I found a lot of healing of childhood traumas while working in early childhood education. During that time I saw the importance of "breathing in" and "breathing out". Noticing these natural rhythms of high energy and low energy has been so helpful for myself, and for my toddler. We work with them. We expect them. We don't fight them... as best we can.
What are you listening to, reading, or watching these days?
My husband and I have been rewatching Great British Bake Show for levity. We also just rewatched the Star Wars movies. I've been listening to Grimes, Alela Diane, and Kate Bush.
None of these are new. They're comfort sounds, or old standbys. Good for bringing me peace and predictability.
Any last words of wisdom?
Find the sun or the warmth. The days that are hardest are the ones where cold and darkness settle in. The most healing moments are when a patch of sunlight hits my face or a hot bath distracts my nervous system. Try to find heat or light once a day. Think about how you'll find it each day.
How can we find your work?
@in_the_nest_midwifery on instagram
Thank you so much, Mell for your beautiful work in this world & for sharing your rhythm devotion with us ~
I connect the flower essence of Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) as a beautiful companion to Mell Pulsifer & her work in the world.
I made a flower essence of Comfrey a few years ago on Beltane (01.May) ~ the midway point between Spring Equinox + Summer Solstice ~ a time when the world is fecund & verdant, when fertility is celebrated & sensuality honored. Comfrey flower essence embodies the Spirit of Beltane for me & the pulse of Spring quickening to meet with it.
Comfrey is an essence of speedy repair, growth, renewal, & abundance. It is a great & supportive ally for when we have done a lot of healing work & need a little push to tie off loose ends of that transformation. Comfrey helps us to awaken to ourselves, especially if we have been in a long process of breaking from ingrained patterns or structures that no longer support us. Nourishing to the creative, erotic, sensual places within us. Also, comfrey has historically been used in travel amulets ensuring a safe journey, which makes this essence perfect for travelers of all kinds.
Find a bottle of Comfrey essence for yourself or a loved one here ~