The Short Story
Kara Mears Billey, Registered Nurse and Founder of SweetMama Doula, has been practicing and teaching yoga for over a decade. With a focused interest in birth and all aspects of a woman's natal year, she is a Certified Birth Doula (CBD) and a Certified Pranakriya Prenatal Yoga Teacher (CPYT). Kara received her birth and postpartum doula training from Certified Professional Midwife, Michelle L'Esperance of Warm Welcome Birth Services in Northampton, Mass. From 2010-2011 Kara was a prenatal yoga apprentice under Kat Whitney after which she completed her prenatal teaching certification at Kripalu. Kara holds a Bachelor of Arts in Photojournalism & Magazine Writing from Emerson College in Boston and studied documentary photography at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Portland, Maine. She earned her Bachelors of Science in Nursing at Simmons College in Boston and is currently working as a Registered Nurse. Fascinated by the commonalities of journalism, birth work, and yoga, she finds joy and fulfillment in the creative process of witnessing a story, watching the action unfold in real time, and calling upon her keenest observation skills. Kara is passionate about empowering women on their journey into motherhood and welcoming babies into this world.
I was called to birth work nearly 7 years ago. I thought I knew what I wanted to do with my life. Then one day on the Metro Gold Line train somewhere between Los Angeles and Pasadena, California, something very curious and unexpected bubbled up.
In January 2010, from my hometown of Essex, Massachusetts, population 3,000, I moved to LA to live with a friend from documentary school, Devin, and eight other people, all non-English speaking, from Cuernavacas, Mexico. Devin and I shared the entryway of the two bedroom apartment in MacArthur Park, a Latino barrio about a mile from Skid Row. I photographed, she wrote, and we happily stumbled through conversations with our new roommates in hopes to improve our Spanish-speaking skills and become bilingual journalists. The project lived on-line and was self-funded. We titled it The Entryway. Devin hoped it would turn into a book. I hoped it would serve as my entryway into a career as a photojournalist.
By April my savings were running low and a part-time nanny gig was running out. The maternity leave of my employer, a family of one with one on the way, started May 1st. Our project had generated much discussion with two mentions in the LA Times, one each in the LAist and LA Observed, two of the largest blogs in Los Angeles, plus 60,000 hits to the site in our first month alone. Despite the buzz, the project still wasn't bringing in any revenue. Plus, I had learned photography in the days of the darkroom; I loved developing film and making prints! The Entryway was the first time I was shooting digitally on a daily basis and editing everything on the computer. I felt so over-faced and frazzled by technology I could hardly stand answering my phone.
Is this just some test of my endurance? Do I need to suck it up? Get a second job? Stick it out? Is it time to pack up and head home? What would I do if I left now? What should I do? What should I do? What should I do?! I spent weeks in a hell of indecision. Monday morning I boarded the Metro, distracted, mind in a fog, to nanny in Pasadena. Then, out of nowhere it came: I don't want to be a photographer.
Ok, so what do I want to do? I asked myself this in a way I hadn't since I was five years old: with no agenda or impulse to please. A minute or two passed. Nothing came strongly to mind. Then, a lovely little brown paper package-like thought floated (down from heaven?):
Beyond my complete disenchantment with technology and a desire to re-involve my hands in my work-life, I have little insight into why this thought came when it did. I only know something about it felt too right and too true to ignore. I completed my time in California with The Entryway and headed back East to pursue birth work.