Circle of Stones: Bernadette Emerson of Rhythm of The Home

March 19, 2010

Six years ago, I walked into a classroom full of doulas, and walked out with an amazing friend.

I hope that most of you know what I mean when I say that Bernadette is one of my soul sisters. She knows who I am, and she accepts me no matter what. I think that it is really hard to mix business and friendship, but Bernadette and I have been so lucky that our friendship has been magnified by a thousand by the work that we have done together.

After that first meeting in class, I randomly called Bernadette to ask her if she might want to partner up as doulas together. Doula partnerships were rare, and we knew it was a gamble to make a go of it. Together, we were able to provide prenatal and post natal education, breastfeeding support, and labor and birth doula services to an incredible group of women. There is really no way to describe what it feels like to work day in and day out with someone to help women bring their children into this world. Bernadette had so much more experience in this field than I did when we started, and she was an incredible mentor through our five active years of partnership.

I was present as she gave birth to both of her two amazing children at home, and she was with me through the very long journey of bringing my youngest son into this world. I will never forget the moment in her bedroom, as her midwives and I sang to her the songs that have been sung to women for thousands of years

When both of us had two babes on the hips, we put our doula roles on the shelf. One thing that Bernadette and I share is a love of purposeful work, and apparently we just enjoy collaborating too much. From our friendship, and our beliefs, Rhythm of The Home began.

Bernadette is an incredible mom, and writer, and sewist, and creator, but for me, she will always be the amazing friend who has graced my life, and made it much more beautiful to live in.

The circle opens. Welcome Bernadette


Tell us about your beautiful family

My family and I live in along the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Boulder County, Colorado. My husband and I have known each other for around fifteen years, and we have been married for nearly seven. We welcomed our daughter, Zoe, in 2006, and our son Miles followed less than two years later. As a family we love to play, cook, read, and share music and the outdoors together.

Bernadette and Heather at the birth of Zoe Pearl

You had both of your children at home, why was that choice important to you, and what was the most powerful part of the experience?

I was actively involved in the birth community for years before I had children of my own. I attended births at homes and in hospitals and came to see that for many moms and babies, homebirth is a brilliant option. After much reflection, I did not see how I could achieve a normal birth in a hospital setting . Attentive midwifery care enabled me to be as healthy as possible and gave me the opportunity to try birthing at home. Zoe was born in our bed, weighing in at 9 lbs, 4 oz. Miles was born in the water, at slightly under 9 lbs.
While both of my births were unique and amazing in their own ways, Zoe’s birth was especially powerful for me. The last stages of labor were long and exhausting. Birth has this power to completely erode you, take you down to your core. I reached that place again and again, and was sustained by everyone holding the space for me. I will never forget the image of three women singing to me in our dark bedroom as my baby and I worked together to be born.


You sang, acted and sewed for your college drama department. What drives your creativity, and how is that expressed at this point in your life?

I grew up in a creative family. My mother was a theatre director, and had many other creative pursuits. Music and the arts were an intrinsic part of my childhood. There was also close attention to craft, especially sewing. My mother taught me to sew on her Kenmore sewing machine when I was young. Once when she went out of town, I desperately wanted to wear a dress we had been in the process of making. I suppose we hadn’t gotten to my gathering lesson yet. I had no idea how to attach the skirt of the dress to the bodice. So I used a whole box of pins, basically hand-pleating the entire waist and pinning it in place. It looked terrible, but I wore it the next day, unhemmed, and was so proud of myself.

Both of my grandmothers were also influential in my love of craft and handmade. I recall a favorite blanket of mine which was very worn, and sitting with my paternal grandmother and mending it together. I still have that blanket, and I marvel at the rows of small neat stitches of hers next to the large uneven stitches of my own. My maternal grandmother is a quilter, and she has shared dozens of quilts with her children and grandchildren. One of my favorites is a hand-quilted scrap quilt which we often have on our bed. The quilt is many years old, but the colors for me are timeless.

Right now I don’t have as much time for my own creativity as I would wish, but I try to find a space for it every day. My children are constantly seeking out creative and craft projects, so I have an intention each day to help them get started in a project of their own so I can spend a few minutes for myself. At this time my mind is always spinning with ideas, even if many of them haven’t come to fruition yet. I probably shouldn’t share this with the public, but sometimes I just go look at my fabric when I’m having a rough day. I love color, I think it feeds my soul.


Your daughter is Waldorf educated, how did that form of education become important to you?

You know, I hadn’t given much thought to early education theories before I had children. I took some education courses in college, but there wasn’t any attention given to philosophies like Montessori or Waldorf. I think I was drawn to Waldorf at first because it really seemed like such a perfect fit for Zoe. She has sensory processing issues, and we knew she would thrive in a gentle environment. Once we found her little preschool, I felt perfectly content. I can hardly describe how Waldorf education has enriched her life, and ours. The daily rhythms are calming for her, and have helped us to support her at home in so many ways. I’m certainly not someone who feels some obligation to rigidly adhere to one schooling philosophy or another, and we do draw from other traditions as well. But so many elements of Waldorf, especially the celebrations of nature, really fit seamlessly into our intentions.

You and I co-edit the magazine Rhythm of The Home. What was your motivation for wanting to take on this large of a project?

My motivation? Let’s be honest, I think it had something to do with you feeding me a great meal, and some good conversation, and before I knew it we were putting together a magazine.


What do you feel are the main reasons that there is a need for Rhythm of The Home?

Put simply, I just wanted us to help inspire other families. There are so many amazing people in this online community, and it felt like there was a need for some place for everyone to come together.


How has the blogging community changed your idea of creativity and community?

The blogging community has certainly been one of the most influential sources of creativity for me in my adulthood. Blogs are where I go on a daily basis to find beauty and inspiration. I really am just blown away by what is out there. I love having access to independent pattern designers, tutorials, ideas, and so much fabric bliss. I would definitely not have a fraction of the creative knowledge without having been part of the blogging community. It is pretty amazing to be on the receiving end of the support as well.

What has been the biggest benefit from starting a blog of your own?

My blog definitely hasn’t gotten as much attention from me lately as I would wish. I’ve had some chronic health problems over the past year, and it has been easier for me to draw from others than to share myself. That said, the thing I love about having my blog is that it helps me to keep a record of things I have found beauty in over the past couple of years. Even more importantly, it stands there as a placeholder for all of my future creative endeavors. It is almost a way for me to hold myself accountable to seek out joy.


How does your family enjoy celebrating the beginning of Spring?

As you know, the Colorado winters can really drag on. Even as we’re beginning to have 60 degree days, we’re also still seeing scattered snow showers and winter weather advisories. We are supposed to get 9-18 inches of snow tomorrow. So we have to make a sincere effort to get outside whenever possible. Right now we are simply enjoying being out in the garden with no coats on, soaking up the sunshine. The children love to take their little garden tools and dig in the raised vegetable beds. It never ceases to amaze me how little direction they need when they are outside. They find treasures and keep themselves occupied for hours. When we begin to have warmer weather on the weekends, we frequently go as a family up to the mountains.


Any favorite Spring stories, books, crafts or recipes that are tradition for you?

There is no denying that I’m a bit of a bibliophile, and frankly the grandparents are strong enablers. So the children have many books about the seasons and we are constantly adding to our collection. I love to read a book with them, and go outside and really see the concept in action. Around this time of year, as we begin to sense the spring unfolding, I find that these books are always at hand.


As a little treat for all of us, Bernadette has created an adorable Seed Packet Pouch to celebrate the coming Spring planting. The project can be found on her blog, I Want A Little Sugar in My Bowl.

Thank you so much to Bernadette for being here today, and for sharing a piece of her life with us. Bernadette’s work can be found on her blog, as well as the magazine Rhythm of The Home, which she co-edits.

{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

MamaBird March 19, 2010 at 12:12 pm

Great interview! I birthed both of my gals at home, with the support of incredible midwives and a circle of soul sisters holding the space for me. So I really enjoyed reading about Bernadette's homebirth experiences. And I love the seed packet pouch. Thanks for sharing the inspiring story of your soul sister here.

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Maeghan March 19, 2010 at 1:44 pm

Beautiful interview. I would have loved to have that experience of bringing my two boys into the world at home. None the less they are here and I am happy! The seed packet pouch is adorable. Thanks!

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Mary--YDP March 19, 2010 at 2:02 pm

Beautiful circle of stones today, you both are so gifted.

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Nancy March 19, 2010 at 2:30 pm

I'm so enjoying your circle of stones interviews, Heather. Each woman is such an inspiration, and I thank you for taking the time to open up a window into their lives.

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Eileen March 19, 2010 at 2:42 pm

Love both of you inspiring ladies!
I'm so glad to have the pleasure to work with you on your beautiful magazine.

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heirloomseasons March 19, 2010 at 3:15 pm

How blessed the two of you are to have found each other! Homebirth, Waldorf , and fabric, three of my favorite things, this was so enjoyable to read! I remember reading once on Bernadette's blog that she had ordered some kind of special fabric bundle, and then she had a dream that it came and she opened it and it was all really ugly and she was sad. But it was just a dream.That made me laugh out loud! so funny! And so much beauty in this post. Thank you for sharing!

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Donna Ashton March 19, 2010 at 4:05 pm

Wonderful! I have been curious about your partner.. She seems amazing. Heather, you are so lucky to have a soul sister and business partner all in one!

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Stacy Elliott March 19, 2010 at 4:07 pm

What a lovely expression of who you are, Bernadette. It's such fun to see how much you have used all your creative giftedness . . . I'm sure there will be more beauty to see in you and the relationships around you. Blessings and love from your cousin!
P.S. I have and treasure a very similar patchwork quilt – every time I see it, I am amazed by it's intricacy and delighted by the memory of watching Grandpa cut the tiny triangles while Grandma pieced them together.

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Kelly March 19, 2010 at 6:24 pm

This is a great interview and it's so fun to learn more about Bernadette. Your friendship sounds like such a valuable one, lucky ladies.

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Stephanie Boswell March 19, 2010 at 7:51 pm

Thanks for giving us some background on Bernadette. The two of you seem to have a wonderful friendship, and I am sure that it is neat to be able to work together, and be so close.

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Alise March 19, 2010 at 11:27 pm

What a great interview! Thank you so much for introducing us to Bernadette. Your magazine is such a wonderful part of our seasonal celebrations

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samthehamsmom March 19, 2010 at 11:51 pm

Lovely story, and life. Wonderful pictures too~thanks again for sharing!

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Shivayamama March 20, 2010 at 2:19 am

Thank you Laura! Have a great weekend

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Shivayamama March 20, 2010 at 2:21 am

Thank you Kelly. We are incredibly lucky to be able to combine such a great friendship with work that we really believe in. Congratulations again on a third daughter. I am so happy for you
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Shivayamama March 20, 2010 at 2:22 am

Thank you Donna, I feel so lucky to have the combo :) Have a great weekend
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Shivayamama March 20, 2010 at 2:23 am

Thanks Renee! Bernadette is one of those women who constantly makes you laugh out loud. I never thought of that way, but she is the perfect trip of Waldorf, homebirth and fabric :)

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Shivayamama March 20, 2010 at 2:24 am

Thank you Eileen, we have felt incredibly honored to work with you as well :) Have a great weekend
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Shivayamama March 20, 2010 at 2:25 am

Thank you so much Nancy, that means a lot to me. I think that this entire community is so incredible, and this feels like one small way to honor that. Have a wonderful weekend
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Shivayamama March 20, 2010 at 2:26 am

Thank you so much Mary, you made our day :)
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Shivayamama March 20, 2010 at 2:27 am

Maeghan, I would have loved to have brought my little ones into the world that way as well. Sometimes that is just not our path I suppose :) Have a great weekend my dear friend
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Shivayamama March 20, 2010 at 2:33 am

Thank you Liz. Being with Bernadette for her both of her homebirths was such an amazing experience, and watching her transformation was so much more incredible because I knew her before she became a mother. I think that it is so neat to hear that you had your little ones at home, surrounded by amazing women. It is how things should be :)

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Nicola @ Which Name? March 20, 2010 at 3:36 am

what a lovely interview! i know bernadette through your mentions of her and rhythm of the home, but that is it, so i really enjoyed reading more and look forward to clicking through to her blog.
i have a couple of friends like this and i feel so very very lucky, as i know you do!
nicola
Which Name?

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Luisa March 20, 2010 at 2:19 pm

I really enjoyed today's post, It was lovely and inspiring getting to know you. A feel good story first thing in the morning to go with my coffee. Thank you for sharing.

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Linda March 20, 2010 at 3:11 pm

This was beautiful to read, how special…

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AdirondackMama March 20, 2010 at 5:38 pm

What a special relationship…kindred.

I always wanted a water birth with Eben, but unfortunately it was not in my midwife's realm of practice. The picture of you and Bernadette near the tub makes me sad that it was not possible.

Wonderful interview, I am glad to know Bernadette a bit better.

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FunkyMommy March 20, 2010 at 7:57 pm

Very inspiring!!! Have a lovely weekend!

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Kara March 20, 2010 at 11:08 pm

such a cool, cool post – and what a neat peek into your friendship, too :-)

I was there when my little sister was born at home … years ago … and one of my best childhood memories ….

thanks for introducing me to a new blog to follow (I can't believe I wasn't before!)

Best Wishes, Kara

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Imene March 20, 2010 at 8:53 pm

I love getting to know Bernadette. I've heard so much about her on your blog, I'm glad I got to know a bit about her

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NicoleFrontierDreams March 21, 2010 at 3:24 am

Oh Heather, thank you for sharing this. I have been wanting to earn more about Bernadette :) XOXO

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Valarie March 22, 2010 at 2:59 pm

I have really enjoyed getting to know Bernadette better. I've particularly enjoyed seeing the beauty of your friendship. Here's to soul sisters. This is just a beautiful post. Have a great day friends.

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Jennifer March 28, 2010 at 3:59 am

I've been wanting to know more about Bernadette! Thanks for sharing this! I especially love what she said about Waldorf schooling; it's exactly how I feel about our son and school. And I so badly need to find a place like that for us in Kansas City, but there's not a Waldorf nearby. :(

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spleenveil.tumblr.com February 12, 2015 at 6:36 am

Awesome article.

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