"“On every 4th step, you are meant to fall down. Not occasionally, ... but on every 4th step. ... a branch hits you in the head, you trip on stones, your heart breaks, you’ve got to fold the laundry, and they’ve closed the two left lanes. Here on the fourth step, all the forces gather together to stop you. And some people, when they fall down, they lie there for the rest of their lives. And some people learn how to fall-down-get-up. That is one move. Fall-down-get-up" Naomi Newman" In the beginning was the word....at least thats how Jewish tradition tells it, for me it feels more like in the end was the word , I have written on and off in my life since I was 8 but mostly off until age 50 or so and I am now 63 here is a poem about me from an exercise called writing your life backwards: its from a few months ago and the un-up-to-date part is that I am now a retired nurse any moment now I may be a retired nurse and any moment now I might not be anything with a label but myself who wants to write more poetry, dance more , dig in the dirt and grow lemon cucumbers and not be responsible for anyones life but my own - not even for the doula program I created 9 years ago and have nurtured like the child I never birthed or maybe I will teach authentic movement, or create a childbirth prep class based on movement, breath and poetry, based on a belief that a womans body is her best teacher for the journey into birth right now today I am still a nurse of 33 years and between the spaces I have been a doula trainer a performance poet a one poem published poet at age 49 I graduated from nurse practioner school but never started a practice….instead I began a doula program at age 45 I took up contact improv dance and before that body tales and before that improv performance and before that belly dancing, afro-haitian dance and at age 6 began modern dance. some of my befores are still todays and at age 60 I bellydanced at a nurses retirement party and before that at a baby shower and before that at a wedding shower with a whole group of shy smiling Thai folk who clasped hands with me to spiral around the room. at some time I was a health coach, a patient advocate hired by my friend to sustain her during brain surgery, even though I have only been a birth nurse - it didn’t matter, you can doula anyone be it 10 hour brain surgery, holding my friends feet at the dentist, holding the hand squeezing mine so tightly as a baby is birthed. before that I studied to be a medical intuitive but never graduated before that I studied Reiki and became a Reiki master before that I was a massage practitioner dropping essential oils in patterns along the spine of a woman who looked like an Auschwitz survivor, she could barely eat and sought nourishment from the thyme, oregano, basil and marjoram I dripped down her spine. before that I studied Body Mind centering but never graduated before that I became immersed in Continuum-Movement for which there is no graduation and remains a life practice, it is my version of meditation teaching me to honor the movement that arises from my breath, my cells, my resonance with all that is. before that I studied crystal healing, homeopathic first aid, herbal medicine reading auras, astrology…and never graduated. before that I had a physical nervous breakdown and learned that I treated anything that entered my body, my energy field as if it was my enemy. before that I graduated from nursing school and ended my first “serious” relationship with a woman lover. before that I graduated with a degree in physical education – after failing organic chemistry but loving kinesiology because it gave me a language to describe the bellydance move called the camel walk. before that I worked at the Berkeley womens health collective and taught a group of women to use speculums and mirrors to gaze at their cervixes the tiny opening of mine shaped like a smile instead of an O. before that I worked as a waitress at a late night restaurant/bar in downtown Oakland, where men played illegal card games and I worked alone til 2am when the owner came to drive me home. before that I was briefly an LSD dealer til the night they dropped me and my Canadian buyer off in the Montclair hills, took our money and fired shots after us as we ran into the woods and I decided it was bad karma to peddle drugs I no longer used myself. Before that I joined a yippie collective and we travelled to California in a mail truck that died at the beginning of Colorado and a station wagon that died at the end of Colorado, and finally hitchiking in the back of a white pickup truck with 2 blond boys from SoCal who drove us to Tahoe, Yosemite and dropped us off at BigSur as my skin turned dark brown, then peeled like a snake shedding layers as I left my east coast self behind. before that I attended Beloit College in Wisconsin and dropped out to protest the vietnam war, or maybe because I had no clue what to do with myself but failing college wasn’t it. before that I worked in a 2 story pre Walmart discount department store in Washington DC where I mooned over my supervisor who mistakenly called me Monique, a mistake I never corrected . before that I was a junior counselor at the camp I’d attended since I was 10 years old, where I learned to ride and groom horses and how to fall gracefully off ponies when I rode bareback. and before that I was a teenager, a preteen, a child , a toddler , an infant doing whatever it took to stay alive, my “true” self cocooned in my depths waiting patiently, waiting panic-stricken, waiting with anger, sorrow, hope, curiosity, for the possibility of wings.