We’ve made it to Episode 500! This week I welcome Kimberly Johnson for a conversation about somatic experiences for healing, the practice of sexological bodywork, and the fourth trimester of motherhood. We also discuss discerning between being proactive versus reactive in life and activating what Kimberly refers to, in her work, as the “Inner Jaguar.”.
Kimberly is a Sexological Bodyworker, Somatic Experiencing trauma resolution practitioner, postpartum advocate, birth doula, author, and single mom.
Some of the topics we explore include:
- Somatic Experiencing: what it is, how to find a practitioner, and some tools women can use to heal (4:18)
- Activating your “Inner Jaguar” is not about being an Alpha female, it’s about being comfortable in your own skin, helping you to go after what you want or don’t want, and letting go rather than burnout (10:18)
- What is sexological bodywork?
- The fourth trimester of motherhood and why is it important for women/mothers to shift their experience of being and mothering (17:09)
- “What you need post-partum is also what this culture needs to move in a direction that actually honors life.” (38:00)
You know how I love a good personal development book, right? I’ve compiled a list of book recommendations, as mentioned in past episodes. Check out these amazing book recommendations here. Happy reading!
Kimberly is a Sexological Bodyworker, Somatic Experiencing trauma resolution practitioner, postpartum advocate, birth doula, and single mom. She is the author of early mothering classic The Fourth Trimester, feminist trauma Call of the Wild, and the recent Reckoning co-authored with Stephen Jenkinson. She is the creator of Activate Your Inner Jaguar and host of the Sex Birth Trauma podcast.
And then sometimes people think that I'm talking about being an alpha female and they get like the power 80 suits like image in their head or like, you know, the Sex in the City like I go after what I want and I get it. It's really nothing like that. It's about being comfortable in your own skin, knowing what you want, and knowing that if you need to fight for it, or you need that drive and aggression, that it's there for you. And actually what that does is make you be able to let down and let go genuinely, rather than just being collapsed or default.
You're listening to Make Some Noise Podcast episode number 500 with guest Kimberly Ann Johnson.
Welcome to Make Some Noise Podcast, your guide for strategies, tools and insight to empower yourself. I'm your host, Andrea Owen, global speaker, entrepreneur, life coach since 2007, and author of three books that have been translated into 18 languages and are available in 22 countries. Each week, I'll bring you a guest or a lesson that will help you maximize unshakable confidence, master resilience and make some noise in your life. You ready? Let's go.
Hey, everyone, welcome to another episode of the podcast. We made it, we made it to episode 500. If you would have told me that I was going to have 500 podcast episodes, you know, back in 2013, when I started this show, I would have been very happy. I wouldn't have been surprised. Because I've always loved doing it. I've always loved having these amazing conversations with these experts and bringing you guests that I am not an expert in and that I wanted to bring to you. I am not feeling the best, so if my voice is a little bit weird, that is why during just during this intro, but I could not put off good bringing you this episode. I knew that it that it had to go out. Kimberly as someone that I followed on social media for a long time, and I was so happy that she said yes to coming on the show. And we have a few weeks left of the women's health claim that we're on this series. They are in no particular order. They just kind of go out whenever so you know the ones that are last there, definitely not the least. So I'm so happy that you are sticking around with us as we as we get through these and into the next theme.
I do want to mention I have a new offering that I've actually been doing for a while I've just never talked about it. It's been on kind of on the DL. If you are someone who is wanting to write a nonfiction book, and you're not sure if you're gonna go traditional publishing, where you need to write a book proposal, or if you're going to go self-publishing, if you need help writing your book proposal if you need help writing your book, if you need help, just asking a bunch of questions and want to pick someone's brain who knows the industry inside and out, I'm your girl. AndreaOwen.com/nonfiction. All one word of course the link will be in the show notes and it's on my website. There's FAQs there of what exactly it is that I do and an application to just even jump on the phone with me for 20 minutes to see if we're a good fit, to see if I can maybe…to do two things that you are hoping to get some help with.
All right, let us move on to the show today. For those of you that don't know Kimberly never heard of her before. Let me tell you a little bit about her Kimberly is a sexological body worker, a somatic experiencing trauma resolution practitioner, a postpartum advocate birth doula and single mom. She is the author of early morning classic The Fourth Trimester, feminist trauma Call of the Wild, and the recent Reckoning co-authored with Steven Jenkinson. She is the creator of Activate Your Inner Jaguar and host of Sex Birth Trauma Podcast. So without further ado, here is Kimberly.
Kimberly, thank you so much for being here.
Thanks for having me.
I'm excited to talk to you. Before we started recording, I was telling you that I wanted to have you on for so long. And it just feels like the right time. This theme right now I'm having on my podcast is all around self-care. And I really feel like your work embodies that for women. But it's very specific. And so I want to start with, can we talk about somatic experiencing and I think it's a term that many people listening have heard many times before and maybe aren't totally clear what that actually is. So we can we start there and you can tell us like, what that actually is and if there's any tools that women could use to start that process for themselves.
So somatic experiencing is a trademarked kind of therapy, I guess is the easiest way to describe it. It was created by Peter Levine in the 70s, studying people who were having panic attacks and, the client that he first kind of put a lot of the pieces together with was having panic attacks. And she was in grad school at Berkeley in a psychiatrist sent her to him and he started taking her into a state of relaxation and as he did, she started to having hyperventilation and started to have a panic attack right then, and so he got really flustered and he had a vision of a tiger jumping out of the wall, and so just intuitively, he said, okay, there's a tiger coming after you run. And so her body started making running movements, and she would go through waves of movements, and then settling, and then movement and then settling. And at the end of her session, they both knew that something had happened, but they weren't totally sure what had happened. And at that time, he was a neuro scientist, and neurobiologist, I believe. He started studying, why do wild animals not have trauma, but domesticated animals and humans do. And so he elaborated based on what that woman and watching her go through cycles of fight, flight, and then the activation. And what it turned out is that it really wasn't her graduate program that was stressing her out, she was having a response after having surgery as a child and being under anesthesia in the anesthesia, which is a forced freeze response, your brain is anesthetized, but your body is not. So your body is still receiving that as an assault. And so those incomplete fight and flight responses are stored in the body.
So nowadays, it's very popular modality. It went from being something that was a lot of body workers, that would do it a lot of ralphers, massage therapists, alternative type practitioners, and now the trainings are filled with doctors, psychologists, social workers, because we know so much more about how we have to listen to what the body is saying, rather than putting a narrative to it.
I'm curious about like, what are some things that people can do to start this process themselves? But I first want to ask you, like, when someone's looking for a practitioner, because it's become so mainstream, what should people look for?
I would recommend looking for someone who you could actually see in person. It's kind of a radical idea these days. So depending on where someone lives, then that would be limiting to who you would, you know, be able to see. It really depends on what you're wanting to work on. The way that I choose practitioners is I look at their pictures, and then I read a little bit about them, and then I and then I call them and have a quick conversation and see how it resonates.
Just like a gut check type of thing?
Yeah, like stating. Yeah, let's look at the picture, look at the profile. Take your best guess. You know, it's always great to have recommendations when people you know, I teach classes that are sort of somatic experiencing basics, which I call Activate Your inner Jaguar Foundations, and in those classes, I give out resources of people that actually know, practitioners that I've been to, colleagues, that kind of thing. So it's always nice to have a recommendation.
But the one of the great things about somatic experiencing is that you don't it's not really it doesn't have to be a long-term commitment, because we're not specifically working on attachment. Where it's like the one on one therapeutic model is based on developing trust and remodeling attachment. In this case, I was depending on the practitioner, I mean, every practitioner has their own, you know, requirements and ways of working, but you don't have to have that you could go and do a somatic experiencing session or three sessions regarding something specific, and not necessarily have to enter into kind of a long term agreement that you're going to be doing this, you know, over time.
Interesting. Okay. Do you recommend that people like can grab some stuff that they see online? So you teach online courses of how people can do it themselves? Kind of like, coach themselves through the process of it?
Can you do it yourself. That's a very big question these days, because the way that our culture is structured is so much about the self and the existence of a self and self-care and self-improvement. You can have grounding exercises. You can learn how to understand how you're filtering the outer world into your inner experience. You can understand more about your own visceral physical boundaries. Yes, you can learn those skills. And my book Call of the Wild has it step by step process that takes people through some of those skills. Can we do all of it alone? No, because most of our wounding happened in relationship or happened, you know, happened with touch. And so a lot of that needs to be repaired in relationship with touch. But can you learn how to come home to your body more than you are right now through reading something or hearing someone's voice or listening? Yes. You could.
Okay. Okay. Thank you for clarifying the difference between those two. And you mentioned about the Inner Jaguar, can you talk about that? Like what it is, and how do women sort of activate that and in their own life.
Yeah, so Jaguar is something that when I was living in Brazil, I lived in Brazil for eight years, and my daughter is Brazilian, I was going to a somatic experiencing practitioner and there's a point in my path when I just realized I couldn't go any farther with what I was trying to work on with women. And I realized it was sort of unconscious, like, I was just like, wow, I've really only ever had women therapists. I wonder why that is. And so I thought, you know, it's kind of scary for me to think about being in therapy with a male practitioner. So maybe I need to do that. And I found a man who was really, I've been sexually assaulted before and I felt like maybe that was at the root of some of what I was experiencing, which was really just again, happening on a very subtle level. I was still having I had been married, I'd had relationships, but I just, there was something that felt like it still needed to move. So I found the practitioner, who had the stature of my perpetrator, who was a dancer, a yoga teacher, but also a martial artist, and someone that could physically intimidate me if he wanted to.
Is that by coincidence, or was that by design, like, did you kind of chose it?
Yeah, I waited a long time til I found someone that I thought was, could meet me where I wanted to be met. So I was working with him… My first session I went in, and I just said, I need to work on limits and boundaries with men. And then I described the rest of the session, and I had no idea why I was crying or what I was crying about. And then subsequent sessions, like one time, he had a broomstick, and he was kind of chasing me, slowly around in office and letting me get around, get by confront, hold my ground. And so we were working progressively. And then one day I went in, and I had my daughter, was about five at the time. And a friend of mine had told me your daughter's becoming authoritarian, and she's going to be a nightmare if you don't get a hold on this, which is like, every mother's worst nightmare to hear. But it was a really good friend of mine, who I trusted, and I was like, wow, okay, if she's telling me this, she's willing to sacrifice our friendship, for, like to tell me this to give me this. I better look at it. So I went through him and I said to him, you know, I'm a single mom, and I'm so exhausted. I'm so tired of having to be like the unconditional love and the boundaries at the same time. And he just looked at me and said, do you know where I'm from? And I said, no. He said, did you know I'm from the Amazon? And I said, No, no, I didn't. And he said, your a jaguar. Look at you. Look at your golden skin in your spots, because I have like red hair and freckles. And he said, It's the mother that teaches the cubs to hunt. It's the female that teaches the cubs to hunt. And in that moment, he just fractured this thing that I had that like, oh, I'm just so tired about, you know, being fierce and having boundaries. It was like, no, this is animalistic, like, this is part of our animal body. And so he told me go home and watch jaguar videos and watch the jaguars playing with their cubs. And do that do that with your daughter. And so I learned a lot about right authority, and about being an alpha and about showing, like I had unconsciously had this idea that parenting should somehow be democratic, and especially because it was only me and her when she would have a preference, I would just go along with the preference. But I didn't realize what that was creating over time.
There's lots of ways that jaguar comes into the work. It's not a spirit animal. For me, it's actually like a real-world teacher. And sometimes people think that I'm talking about being an alpha female, and they get like the power at suits like image in their head or like, you know, the Sex in the City, like I go after what I want and I get it. It's really nothing like that. It's about being comfortable in your own skin, knowing what you want, and knowing that if you need to fight for it, or you need that drive in aggression, that it's there for you. And actually what that does is make you be able to let down and let go genuinely, rather than just being collapse or default. It allows you to surrender because if people are like why don't like you know, I don't like being the aggressor. I like being pursued. But it allows you to be actually relaxed and pursued rather than that's the only mode you know, and you really can't speak up for yourself or you end up going along with things, sexually or otherwise, that you're really not into just to get it over with, because it's easier to do that than to enter into conflict.
So in the case with parenting, you know, when your, your kid won't listen to you, or keep sticking their hand up your shirt, all the time, or just flat out is, you know, dictates… I sit at so many tables where there's five adults in one kid, and the entire thing is revolving around the kid because there's been so little community parenting, and there's so much individuality about like, I'm doing this my way. And there's this thing about every child is like the little Buddha. And so like, we've got to, you know, protect them and like uplift their every desire. And this is really… Number one that makes kids very insecure. And it it can involve the problem, but also, it's just, it's depleting. And so many women are exhausted, depressed, anxious, have autoimmune problems, all of that stuff, it's not exclusively because of your nervous system, but your nervous system definitely has a lot to do with it. So if you can occupy the Jaguar, that means you're occupying the healthy fight side of your nervous system, rather than just the default mode of either anxiety, depression or collapse.
Okay. I love… I didn't know that story. I love that so much, and it sounds like it's a little bit of learning how to be proactive instead of reactive in various areas of your life. And when you started telling the story, and you said I was on this path, I knew you were telling a story that was a Jaguar and I'm like, I don't know if this is metaphorical or literal. Was there a Jaguar that came up on her path when she was walking through the woods or something? I'm so glad to hear you didn't have to fight off a literal Jaguar.
I'd be amazing if I'd actually it wouldn't be in real life. Yes, it really would. And I hope someday, that maybe I do be able to glimpse a jaguar but no until now. That has never happened.
Oh my gosh. I'm glad it turned out the way that it did. Sort of switching gears. Can you talk to us about what is sexological bodywork? And did I say that word right. I don't know if that's even a word that I have read out loud.
It's a mouthful, for sure. But before I was a sexological body worker, I was a structural integration practitioner. Structural Integration is also kind of a mouthful. Sexological body work is a field of work that started in the late 90s by Joseph Kramer. And essentially what it is, is including genitals and bodywork. So some people who are sexual sex illogical body workers do tantric massage. Some people specialize in erectile dysfunction. Some people do scar tissue remediation, which is what I do. So I specifically work with birth injuries, birth trauma, gynecological surgeries, and sexual boundary rupture. So it's a body of work that acknowledges that so many kinds of healing modalities work on everything except genitals. So, and then the genitals are segmented off and those are just only doctors only PT’s. I think in California, it's acupuncturists, PT’s, doctors can touch the pelvic floor and…
There's like the pelvic floor Nurse practitioners as well right?
Yeah so, doctors, yeah, Nurse Practitioners. So this is a modality that understands that there's a lot of repercussions for segmenting off and most of those practitioners only deal with sexuality in a very clinical way. They don't deal with it sexuality and around and you know, in the mental health practitioner, you know, if you go to a psychologist, if you ask most people, they don't talk to their therapist about sex.
It’s not my favorite, but I actually am finally after 29 years of therapy, talking to a specifically hired a sex therapist, to talk about sex, because I've put it off for this long. I’m 47. It’s long overdue.
But I mean, it just goes to show that we see that as something that's very separate from every other part of ourselves because not only do we segmented off but the profession also segmented off and you had to hire a specific therapist to talk about sexuality. So that just shows you that that's how ingrained it is that like what's happening in our mind and our intellect and our psyche is somehow separate from what's happening in our erotic selves.
It's really interesting. I have two teenagers now my daughter just turned 13 and my son is 15 and talking about sex with them as progressive as I think I am, and as committed as I am to parent my children, especially around the topic of sex differently than how I was parented, it still brings up my stuff. You know, like, it's just especially when they come with a question, or I can't even remember what it was that I was talking about my daughter, oh, she asked me about strip clubs. I don't even know how it came up. And she was like, have you been to one? Like, she was surprised. And I was like, yeah, they're actually they can be a lot of fun. My second thought was like, I cannot even imagine having that conversation with my mother. It almost feels like I'm having an out of body experience. And the reason I bring that up is because it's interesting, even like, while I'm having the conversation with them, or afterwards, and I'm like, sweating, like, I still have like a somatic response, even just talking about it.
So that strip club conversation made you sweat?
Not that one in particular, but it was, it was interesting how, like, I didn't pause even before I answered, like, of course, I'm gonna, like, tell her the truth, but it just, it's, I definitely have some kind of like… It's a little bit of an out of body experience. It's the only way I can describe it, where it's like, what, what is this actually happening? Like, it's exciting and in a way, I think it's healing my own stuff as a teenager, when there was so much shame around that. And recently, we just didn't talk about it at all. I just learned through experience.
Lots and lots of people asked me about this, about how to talk to their kids about sex and I don't really have a lot of material out there about it, I have a 15 year old daughter. It's just so interesting, because I feel like you know, the statistics are that less kids are having sex, or like kids are having sex later and less kids are having sex. And I think the assumption is always that like kids are uncontrollable, and like adolescents are just crazy and they're just, like, ready to like, blast through every limit. And there's so many preconceptions about adolescents themselves. And in my experience, it's like, I think it's because we have, most of us have a distorted idea of what innocence is, and that great sex usually includes innocence in the sense that you're very present to the moment and you're not just performing or acting out a bunch of stereotypes, and in like, things that you've been fed. So I find myself really not encouraging my daughter sexually, but trying to help her understand that her sexuality is not something that you just think about because it's become so intellectual, like, you know, oh, I'm bisexual and pansexual, I'm, you know, whatever. And then you're like, but have you ever even touched anyone? Like, have you kissed anyone? Are you sure?
I had a hilarious conversation with my daughter, we were driving cross country, you know, car talks around. And she was going off about sexuality as a social construct. And then all of a sudden, I just turned to her. And I was like, Cici, I'm just gonna tell you right now. I like cock and that's just how it is. It's not a social construct. Like it just isn't. Like if I was alone in on the planet with only one other person who happened to have a pussy, would I get down with it? Yes, I would. But like, I am gonna choose… Like, it's just this… Take it from me, it's not all a social construct that. She’s just like, mom, I cannot believe you just said that. And I'm like, yeah, but like it, trust me, everything is not a social construct.
So I'm like really trying to encourage her friends in terms of understanding, you know, because now that Tiktok, that social media, there's so much information out there about boundaries and consent for one, and so many preconceptions about what that even means and how that is in real time. And it's like, I feel like I'm constantly trying to like put in a little bit more like, I'm not sure it's quite like that. I'm not sure it's quite like that. Like maybe we want to have some experiences first before we decide that like this, this is how it goes because this is what everyone says is how it goes. There's so much reinforcement for righteousness and entitlement. My entire career is about helping women develop their voice and own it and learn how to advocate for themselves. And usually the people they interact with change as a result of that because when people come to me, they always are like, well, can you talk to my husband, can you talk to my partner. And I'm like I could, and if we do this work together usually those things change because you understand now what you want. But there's a there's a fine line between knowing what you want and walking around in the world like the world needs to change for you.
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I want to go back to what you were talking about in reference to working with women who've had some difficult birth experiences and working with them. What do you call it? Where it's the sexological body work? I have a couple of friends who had HPV, who had biopsies, who were the quote unquote failure to progress during childbirth and labor, and both of them had experiences where the nurse was massaging the scar tissue on their cervix and helped a lot. And I just thought that was so interesting. And I'm like, I never had a biopsy. And I have my own birth stuff. I had a breech position with my first baby. And I had a VBAC, which was to make long and short of it was a fight with the hospital. And anyway, so I understand. I think that's originally how I found you because of the birth world and I love just all of that. And so can you like what is the typical kind of scenario or story that women come to you with when it comes to like, either birth trauma, whether it was physical, or you know, they had a healthy birth and baby, but it was a scary situation? Like, what does that look like? Or maybe like a couple of different scenarios?
Yeah, there's a lot of different ones. But I would say really typical, it's just I'm having painful sex ever since I had a baby and I don't know why. And it could be that they had a C section, and they're like, I'm still having painful vaginal sex and I don't understand how if I had a cesarean delivery that my pelvic floor is hurting so bad. Some people know why, like, okay, I had an episiotomy, and my body's not scoring correctly, I had an unwanted episiotomy, I delivered at 32 weeks because I was under pressure and I regret ever having done that and now, my sense of self is completely different and I don't want anything to do with my partner. I had a great third birth, and I'm so elated, and it was everything I wanted and I feel completely disoriented now and I don't want my partner even near me, and I don't know why. Gosh, I mean, the, there's just so many different scenarios. But it all circles around who I am sexually now feels completely different than who I was before. And some of its physical pain, a lot of it is physical pain, but the physical pain… You know, scars are physical artifacts of trauma and so we have to get back into that sometimes for the scar to be able to unwind and for the tissue to… Because tissue can also have nervous system responses. So a tissue can be in a fight pattern, a tissue can be in a flaccid pattern, which is based on the signals the nervous system is sending. So if you were in a situation where you felt like you wanted something to happen, and no one was listening to you, it could be that your tissues just never restored their tone. So a lot of people come to me for prolapse, incontinence, hemorrhoids any of the things that women handle after they have babies but I'm dealing with it in the full scope. I'm not just like probing muscles and saying, oh, this muscle is turned on and this muscle is turned off. And I'm not just also doing energetic work. I'm listening as we go to what the body's saying and I'm doing it in a step-by-step fashion based on somatic experiencing.
That is so fascinating. All of that because yes, I checked off incontinence and hemorrhoids, which are the worst. Oh my gosh.
So I do vaginal and anal work. And I also I do you know, for people who come to me who've never had children It's like called vulva mapping or about vagina mapping. Like I basically am helping people understand their own anatomy in real time. So we usually now seen internet images of vulvas and erectile tissue most people have. Some people have never looked at themselves, because that tends to be like a big barrier to actually look at your own vulva. But then beyond that, a lot of people are like, I have no idea where my cervix is. I have no idea where my G spot is. I have no idea where like, why do I like annual sex or why do I not want it or you know, and so I'm, I'm showing them like, here's muscular tissue. Here's your arousal tissue, here's the shape of your G Spot, here's where your perineal arousal tissue is. And so it's kind of like a living anatomy session in relationship where I'm also listening to their words, but watching their body and if they say, yeah, I'd go ahead and do this, but their body is like completely tense in their eyes. It's like telling them like, oh, so your words are telling me this, but your body is actually communicating something else. So do you notice that? And, oh, when you do notice that what happens and let's just stay here for a moment. And so I basically, in real time, teach people how to get like a pap smear that doesn't feel terrible, and learn how to communicate with their doctors and learn how to communicate with a midwife and be able to do it. Because all I mean, all is strong, but most women that come to me think of themselves as some kind of a feminist, in their mind, they feel empowered, in their mind they know they deserve good health care, they deserve to be heard, but it's when things get intense, that what's actually living, the real beliefs that are in the body come to the surface, and that can be so disheartening right? It's why people are so shocked when their boundaries are crossed, because in their mind knew the boundary, but their body didn't know that boundary. So I help people sync that up pacifically with the pelvis.
I personally never experienced any kind of pelvic pain during sex, but definitely, like a bit of a mindfuck when…and this is what I've talked to my therapist about is going from, so he had a lot of trauma from a previous marriage where we had no children and then I immediately got into a relationship and I'm married to him. Now we've been together for 15 years, had two babies right away, and then got sober. I went from being this like, pretty free spirited, like, open with my sexuality and very trusting in that relationship, even though the relationship where I'm having sober sex, and also my identity has shifted a complete 180 to being a mother, like this is the first person I've ever been with, where we have only sober sex, and I'm now a mama not just like, single fun girl. And that has been tricky to reckon with. And there's lots of stuff there. And I love what you said at the very end because like I also and I know a lot of people listening to this, like sort of see themselves as like somebody who doesn't take any shit from others but then there's like there's this stuff, because like, like you were saying, like the body knows, and the body will tell us.
There's so much there like just sober sex itself, right? That people don't realize how much this inhibiting is happening when you're drinking or using whatever you're using. And it's the experience of so many people that it's almost like starting back at the beginning, when you're not using anything. And there's so much to kind of relearn or redefine of how do you even do that. And I think that's also the postpartum experience for so many people is, you know, I was this thing, and I enjoyed it this way and it kind of worked and I maybe didn't have to communicate about it very much, because there was just an understanding, and then now it's like, oh, my gosh. And also a lot of us, we were programmed to our words performative sex without knowing it and then when the scene… Like basically postpartum makes female pleasure have to be at the center of sex. And so if you've been if your sexual identity has been pleasing, or in now you have to be on the receiving end, and you also have to be the one who's doing the brake pedals, there's a lot of identity reckoning that has to be done.
It's complicated. That's what I think.
It’s complicated and it's a great opportunity, like it feels like a loss, but that's partially because our culture is so youth driven and youth oriented and there's so much richness and maturation and wholeness that can come when we realize that our sexual self also evolves and it evolves along with so many other parts of us.
That's what I had to come to realize is that it's like a new chapter. You know, I did a solo podcast episode where I talked I talked about like, okay, I have this new perspective of like, it's, it's not my turn anymore to be to have that be my identity. Like I have it, it's my turn to be this person. And you know, growing up my gray hair has been like a whole thing of, you know, like changing my identity and embracing like this part of life and with it comes the sexuality of it too.
But you mentioned the fourth trimester and I don't want to let you go without asking you about that and you talk about it in regard to motherhood. So what is that and why is it important for not just mothers but for women to shift their being as like a woman like into the fourth trimester and also mother. I wanted to kind of like distinguish between the two.
I mean, the fourth trimester is really for everyone is a period of time that a woman goes a woman and a baby, because the woman and the baby or mother baby are still a unit after you have a baby. So the fourth trimester is describing… I had to name the book A Period of Time, really, the transition to becoming a mother is, is so many different periods of time for so many people, but for this particular purpose is that the mother and baby are still as interdependent when the baby is inside the mother's body as when it's already born. And so therefore, as a culture, we should be protecting that person as much as the baby is protected in utero. So there's very specific needs, that any culture that has any respect for life would honor based on how sensitive and vulnerable a woman is at that period of time because that sensitivity and sensibility, if it is protected, actually becomes more strength and more health over time.
So like in Ayurveda, they say 42 days for 42 years. So our systems are so latent at that time that whatever you put in, really can become embedded, but that includes like harmful things that that enter whether that's harmful words or foods or whatever. So, you know, none of us can do this perfectly right now, because it really is a community effort and where we're at in our culture right now, is that a lot of things that in the past, our neighbors or our family would do, now those are monetized careers, doula, postpartum doula, you know all of the things. But the book is really a call to action to understand that these are not luxuries. Being taken care of postpartum, having bodywork having an extended rest period where you do not work and you barely go out of your house for at least 40 days, that most people are going to listen to this and roll their eyes out, because we're so superwoman oriented, that it's like, well, I don't need that and my mom didn't do that and, you know, I can I see people out at the park with their seven day old babies. But this is really indigenous meaning place based land wisdom that in order for a culture to thrive, women and babies must be taken care of during the fourth trimester.
And a lot of the work that I do, you know, birth has become something that is I think, I in postpartum to my book is now it's this year is five year anniversary of the book. So a lot has changed since the book came out. But it's really in an imperative way of restoration. And it's why I'm so passionate because you know, my daughter is 15 now, and I'm not going to have another postpartum time of this kind, I’m perimenopausal, which is its own kind of postpartum, but it's still not with the baby. So the reason I even still care about it a lot is because what you need postpartum is also what this culture needs to move in a direction that's, that actually honors life.
To move in a direction that actually honors life. Like put that on a bumper sticker. For sure. I could talk to you all day, because I have many spin off questions from the questions that you answered, but we do need to close up Is there anything that you may have missed or that I didn't ask you that you wanted to circle back to before we close?
I would just say with the fourth trimester that most people who become interested in the fourth trimester are people who've already had a baby and then had a bad experience postpartum and then they get interested in like going towards their second, baby. But I really see it like for everyone who's listening, that when you have people in your life that are having babies, that you also inform yourself, because just because you don't have one yourself… Like our babies are not just our babies, like, we should have aunts and uncles and godparents and people that are in our children's lives, and this is one of the starting points because those people who are in your sphere at that time are people who can potentially really be holding your own history and the history of your children. And you might be that person who's a holder. So because of like our nuclear family structures and our ideas about privacy, a lot of times people don't loosen some of those boundaries to get the support that they need and it's really a time where you want to err on the side of more support rather than less support. Even the things that you think you don't know if they're really that supportive.
And in I would also caution people to not think of this in terms of money and expense because a lot of this doesn't have to do with I have to hire this person and hire that person. It has to do with asking the friend that you feel really comfortable with to come stay with you for four days. There's things that everyone I think kind of knows now about me. I will deliver food to you. But there's in the book, there's five universal needs and those five universal needs are extended rest, nourishing food, loving touch, presence of wise women and spiritual companionship, and contact with nature. And if you could facilitate one of those things for the person that you know that's giving birth, and really turn your attention to the mother rather than the child, that is really life enhancing.
Thank you for that. Now is that from is that from your first book?
Those five things? Okay. And then what was the name of that one again?
The Fourth Trimester.
The Fourth Trimester. Okay. And the second one is Call of the Wild and then the third one that just came out this year is called Reckoning?
In The Fourth Trimester book also has a card deck that goes with it, which is a really nice gift, like if you feel like some, your know, because what happens is people have baby showers and the baby gets all these clothes. And you're super cute. I mean, who doesn't love baby clothes? Give me a break. I'm like, I want baby clothes now and I don't even have a baby.
Same. I walk by Target and I'm like, oh my god, yeah.
We're gonna have a kid. I was like, they should sell sperm here. This is like dangerous. I'm ovulating just walking by here. But it's nice to give a mother a gift. And so there's this Fourth Trimester cards, because the book is also an audio so someone could listen to it. But there's also a journal that we put out, I think two years ago, that has really beautiful artwork and prompts. And there's a bunch of research that says that when women write about their birth experience, especially within the few days after it happens, that it tends to decrease the incidence of postpartum depression.
So I guess lastly, I would also say that, let's try to separate this word postpartum from postpartum depression, because those have become synonymous in our cultures. People say, oh, I had postpartum but that means they were depressed. It doesn't mean that they went through this period of time that anyone who's had a miscarriage, abortion or a baby goes through. And that's really important, because redefining women's health in terms of mental health is very problematic, it has a long history, and it's insidious, and it's in it's happening. Now I read books now by best-selling authors where their best piece of advice is take your meds. And we really don't want to pathologize postpartum. That's most institutions best way of addressing postpartum is let's increase the mental health checklist. But these days, pandemic-wise, and with the way birth is going, most people who've had babies would check off for those indicators. But if we actually had those five needs taken care of, we wouldn't be seeing what we see in terms of what we're categorizing as women's mental health.
Yeah. That's really interesting. Thank you, again, so much for that. And everybody, all these links will be in the show notes to Kimberly's website, and all three of those books and did you want everyone to go somewhere specific? Just your website or Instagram?
Yeah, either one. It's my name KimberlyAnnJohnson.com. If you want to read the first chapter of Call of the Wild, which is the book on somatic experiences…
That's the jaguar story, right?
That's a jaguar and it's got a jaguar on the cover. And, and there's more jaguar stories in there, because it's, it's a, it's a long body of work. I've been doing it for 12 years. So that one, if you go to KimberlyAnnJohnson.com/chapter, you can get the first chapter for free. And that chapter is the most comprehensive because it's kind of where I lay out polyvagal theory in relatable terms. It kind of has like the foundation for the rest of the book.
Okay, thank you so much for that and for your time today. And everyone listening, thank you so much for your time. I'm so grateful that you choose it to spend it here with me. And remember, it's our life's journey to make ourselves better humans and our life's responsibility to make the world a better place. Bye for now.
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