One day, I decided I wanted to be so adaptable that I could drop out of a hot air balloon into any human community on earth and thrive. I traded my contact lenses for glasses, ditched my orthotics, and started exploring how to wean myself from thyroid medicine.
Blessed with a travel opportunity, I followed my martial arts family to their native land of Hawai'i, where I became inspired to take a deep dive into nature connection and my own heritage. After graduating from college with a BA in Chinese language and culture, I joined the ADAMAH fellowship, then in its first year, to learn about Judaism and organic farming while living in a tent in the woods with a community of earthlings of shared heritage and curiosities. I acquired my Hebrew nickname, Nets, tried it on, and it stuck. I also met my future husband, Jakir, and he stuck too.
My midwifery journey grew directly out of my farming experience, though I do believe its seeds were planted by my mother. She told me the story of my own birth over and over again as a child, highlighting her overwhelming joy and delight, and let me peruse the incredible photographs from the book A Child is Born. She also taught me body sovereignty, especially as a dancer, and how to know when I was ovulating. Pretty special!
Back home from the farm, I dreamed of my pregnant friend on night and woke up knowing I would become a community-based midwife. Serendipity followed, and my journey began with an ALACE doula training and volunteer doula work at the DC Family Health and Birth Center. Another friend introduced me to Karen Carr, who became my midwife and mentor. Carrying, birthing, and raising four children has massively enriched my learning experience as a birth worker and also helped slow things down, giving me time to study, reflect, and work out my blocks and challenges. I have now been attending births for 18 years, gradually working towards becoming a homebirth midwife while raising children, homeschooling, and expanding my knowledge and practice of natural healing modalities. I have served as a midwife, birth assistant, and doula for over 130 births in the Baltimore and DC areas, learning from many wise and experienced midwives and mothers along the way. I finally completed my apprenticeship under Bayla Berkowitz of Charm City Midwives and became certified by NARM as a CPM and licensed as an LDEM in the State of Maryland.
Here is my Birth and healing-related resume.
Healing and Bodywork:
Many years ago, I began a self-healing journey to reverse Hashimoto's (autoimmune) thyroiditis. This diagnosis has led me on an incredible path of learning, healing, growing, and helping others. Raising children has also presented abundant opportunity for deep dives into holistic health and healing and helped me recognize that parents are the original primary care provider, and community support is crucial for individual and collective well-being! My learning continues to expand and deepen in the areas of traditional foods, functional nutrition and supplementation, herbal medicine, Chinese medicine, homeopathy, emotional sovereignty coaching, Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy, medicinal essential oils, and Hawai'ian Huna wisdom.
I was drawn towards Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy about nine years ago, due to the gentle, reverent, and non-invasive quality of touch and attention and the intention to follow the body's "inherent treatment plan." I completed over 900 hours in training as a Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapist under Mimi Ikle-Khalsa through the Heartwaves Healing Institute in Glen Echo, Maryland and certified as an RCST in January 2021. RCST stands for Registered Craniosacral Therapist, under the certifying body of the Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy Association of North America. In 2022, I completed a month-long course in working with babies under cranial osteopath Jonathan Evans of Kindred Academy. I've really been enjoying working with babies, who are so responsive to this gentle therapy and often show its effectiveness immediately!
My original and hereditary passion is dance. My mother's mother, then my mother, and then I were all dancers. I studied and performed classical ballet for ten years as a child. Then I discovered martial arts and earned my second degree black belt at Kim Studio under Grand Master James K. Roberts, Jr. For the last 18 years, I have been practicing and occasionally teaching Yang-style Taichi, which I studied under Sifu Paul Ramos of Wu Shen Tao. Movement continues to serve me as a source of joy, release, grounding, spiritual connection, and embodiment.
On a more personal note, I was blessed to be raised in a health-conscious, quirky and creative home influenced by the principles and practices of Ayurveda, authentic movement, Jewish culture, and a deep appreciation for the wonders of pregnancy, birth, and motherhood. I have studied and practiced various styles of dance, martial arts, meditation, earth skills, homesteading, homeschooling, parenting, and earth-based Judaism. I speak and understand some Mandarin Chinese, te Reo Maori, some Hebrew, and a little Spanish.
Our family enjoys living, working, and playing by the Pearlstone Center, in Reisterstown, Maryland. My husband, Jakir Manela, can be found visioning, leading, co-creating beauty and justice through his work as CEO of Adamah, and walking our dog in the woods around the Pearlstone Campus. All four of our children were born at home with our beloved midwife, Karen Carr - Lev in 2007, Shama in 2010, Yovel in 2014, and Amani in 2017. I chose to stay home with the children for many years while we breastfed each baby for two years, co-slept, cloth-diapered, practiced baby-wearing and elimination communication, and homeschooled, inspired by Waldorf education, Coyote Mentoring, unschooling, and our community of brilliant, wise, and loving parents and children. Now my children go to school while I share what I've learned so far and continue to be humbled by this journey into the ever-changing unknown.
As long as the economic and political organization of our global society continues to reflect racism and extractive, exploitative practices, which run counter to the principles of nature, human ethics, and the wisdom of all traditional cultures, including my own, I am committed to on-going work in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion through a balance of listening and leadership in the Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy Association of North America, The Waldorf School of Baltimore, AIMM - the Association of Independent Midwives of Maryland, through my professional practice, and within myself.
I see my midwifery work as an offering, a small role I play in co-creating a beautiful world in which each and every sovereign being and each and every sovereign collective, human and more than human, breathes fully in the journey of life, creating, learning, destroying, and choosing anew. The opportunity to give birth in one’s own space, on one’s own terms, is one way to participate in this magic. And serving as a midwife is one way to protect and collaborate in our sacred, shared, beautiful, co-creative world.
Called to protect and amplify the sanctity of the creative processes of birth, healing, play, and growth, I work comfortably and respectfully with all kinds of families and individuals. I am always honored and amazed in the presence of healing, gestation, and birth. My clients are my heroes and my greatest teachers. Please be in touch!