Gather the Village

I still remember the energy in the room when I attended my first event hosted by Krystal Donovan Festerly and The Village Magazine. It was called After and was specifically curated for new mothers in that early postpartum period – what is called the Fourth Trimester – after giving birth.

The Fourth Trimester is a vulnerable and raw time. Not only has your body been torn open to bring forth new life, but your soul has as well. It doesn’t matter if it’s your first baby, or your fifth. Every pregnancy and every birth brings new openings, new beginnings, new knowledge, new experiences, new introspection, and new life to both mother and baby. There are almost no words to describe this chapter of Motherhood but any mother reading this right now knows exactly what I am speaking of.

And mothers need support during that time, in navigating those new feelings and emotions and experiences. And that is what After was about…bringing mothers together to navigate that time together.

When my client-turned-dear-friend Bri and I walked into that room that evening in early 2015, we found large beautiful silk floor pillows placed in a circle on top of a colorful and cheery Oriental rug with a tray of meats, cheeses, fruit, and wine in the middle of the circle. Pure genius. It was the most warm and welcoming space and we immediately felt comforted and part of something larger than ourselves. We spent the next few hours getting to know one another, telling our babies’ birth stories, shedding tears over this new chapter we found ourselves in, mourning parts of our old selves before we were called ‘Mother’, and generally bonding and supporting one another.

And that’s what Krystal does. She brings us together and bonds us. She sets a tone and an energy in her Gather the Village dinners and events that we crave, that we need, that we are missing in this every day rat-race western civilization lifestyle we are living. Most of us don’t even realize we are missing this space, these moments. We don’t even realize now much our society asks us to to journey through this time alone, juggling more than any one person should have to juggle solo. Babies and toddlers are loads of work and the phrase “it takes a village to raise a child” is absolutely based in the god-honest truth. Some of us are home alone with small children and without the support of other adults and loved ones during most the day. Some of us are trying to figure out how to care about the career we had before we gave birth alongside this new little creature that makes us feel love we’ve never felt before. And we are trying to figure out who is going to care for this sweet baby in our absence so that we can actually get ourselves together and out the door for a job. And once we make it to work, we are trying to figure out how to keep up our milk supply so that we can continue to nourish that sweet new baby upon our return to them.

It’s a lot. And nothing about our culture prepares any of us for this chapter, this Fourth Trimester. Nobody tells us of all the things we will feel and go through. Nobody tells us how hard it will be. Nobody tells us how different we will feel about so many things we felt about before motherhood. We need each other when we start to realize how much a baby changes things.

Krystal quickly realized this massive gap in our culture while navigating motherhood after giving birth to her first baby girl. She went looking for that community, that village, to fill that void, yet she had a hard time finding it.

So she created it.

It was then that The Village Magazine was born. We initially held dinners and gatherings quarterly in SoCal and that incredible energy spread across the country quickly. Since then, Krystal has traveled to many other states to bring her Gather dinners to other villages and mothers in various cities. With three small children at home, that is no easy feat. But she believed in this community and desired to grow it as she knows how needed it is. She witnessed the impact it was making SoCal….we all did…and wanted to further that impact across the country.

Right now, Krystal is trying to hold her life together as it falls apart around her. Her husband has been ill for almost a year now, unable to work or drive for most of that time, and is currently in the ICU where he has been since the latter half of July. She is sitting by his side as much as she can and otherwise running little girls to and from, trying to keep her house clean, her yard cared for, and bring in some income as the sole breadwinner for her family. Her girls started school this week and her husband missed it. Some lovely folks pitched in and ensured the girls had school supplies however, Krystal and her husband have a long road ahead of them.

For more on their story, details about her husband’s illness, and how you can get involved and help, click on their GoFundMe link below. Now, more than ever, Krystal needs a Village. She has created such a beautiful one for all of us….it’s our turn to do the same for her and her family.

http://www.gofundme.com/gatherthevillage

} All images not otherwise stated are mine. All rights reserved. None of this may be copied or reproduced without my permission. {

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