Sarah Longacre

Blooma is Heading to Uganda: Join Us!

In October 2018, Blooma founder Sarah Longacre and DONA doula Emily Shier will be traveling to the Luwero District of Uganda. Together, they will lead a DONA International Doula Training of a lifetime! We want you to join us! Along with doula training, participants will enjoy yoga with Sarah, cultural experiences, safaris, and more - all while supporting a great organization, Shanti Uganda and the community of women they impact each day.

Get to know Shanti Uganda:

We imagine a world where all women have access to a midwife and are respected, empowered and able to thrive throughout the birthing process. At our Birth House, our highly skilled Ugandan midwives, doula and lab technician provide a holistic approach to maternal health - fostering a supportive and respectful birthing environment. We offer full birth services, pre and postnatal care, follow-up visits and immunisations at an extremely low cost to our clients. In addition, Shanti offers weekly prenatal yoga classes, workshops on nutrition and family planning, sexual and reproductive health education for teens and a community garden. Shanti Uganda works hand in hand with the community we serve to provide holistic, respectful care to the whole family.

Founded in 2008, Shanti Uganda is a registered Canadian charity and Ugandan Non- Profit Organization. We stand up for maternal health by putting women first. A safe, respectful and comfortable birthing experience should be a right for every woman; however, thousands of women all over the world suffer and die needlessly every day because of complications from pregnancy and birth. Shanti is working to change that in Uganda, where 16 women die daily. 90% of these deaths are preventable with access to quality, respectful care - that’s exactly what we offer to women in the Luwero District of Uganda.

Why take a Doula training with Shanti?

We are so proud to partner with Blooma on our upcoming DONA International Doula Training in October 2018. In 2008, our organization was founded by a yoga teacher and doula with a background in international development. Since the beginning, we’ve been inspired by the power of doulas to create positive birth experiences for moms. We hosted our first Doula Training in September of 2012 and since then have welcomed 10 groups of inspiring women to Uganda - raising over $84,000 for our programs. We believe deeply that a cross-cultural exchange of knowledge is life-changing for everyone involved. The Doula training is also one of Shanti’s most sustainable sources of funding, a way to truly travel with purpose.

Why does Blooma love Shanti?

Back in 2009, Sarah Longacre was part of an amazing group of women with Off the Mat Into the World who raised $150,000 for the construction of our Birth House. Sarah then came to visit the site and even helped in construction! The Birth House was completed in the spring of 2010 and since then we have supported over 1,300 births and impacted 46,000 lives. Blooma and Shanti Uganda share so many of the same values -  we are both care for women passionately and honor their birthing experience. We both strive to create open-hearted communities of support.

 

You are formally invited to visit us and experience the training of a lifetime. If you’ve ever been drawn to experience Africa, support women or connect with a grassroots organization this is your chance!  Learn more about this experience and sign up here.

Written by Kate Hyde Operations Director with Shanti since 2016. 

Dear 2016

Dear 2016,

Hi. It’s 2017. You are gone now and a new year is in full-swing. This time of year, some of us reflect on the past, and possibly manifest or set intentions for the future. So, as I pause and look back at you 2016, I realize that I would like to thank you for all you have given to me. 

You 2016 gave me, and possibly many others, 12 months that kicked the shit out of me. For that, I am grateful. Please remember 2016, gratitude doesn’t always mean happiness. It means thank you. Thank you for life lessons.

2016, you humbled me. You taught me that I am not invincible, and quite frankly, I live in a fucking bubble, a bubble where I think everyone is like me, or at least thinks like me. I thought that I lived in a country where people wanted leaders that were kind. That we were moving towards a society of open minds and open hearts. So, thank you for reminding me that we are all different. We have different ways of expressing emotions, we have different values and passions. We have different opinions of who we want to lead our country and how we want to live our lives. And, I need to learn to accept (not agree with) these differences between many of us. Damn that is hard. 

2016 you reminded me of an incredible man that helped shape who I am: Prince. You brought his music back into my life and filled my soul during so many crucial milestones in my life. Songs like, “Starfish and Coffee”, “The Ladder” and “Sometimes it Snows in April” are back on my playlist filling me up when I need it the most. 

I am grateful to you, 2016, for bringing more family into my life. I now have 4 new stepsisters and one new stepbrother. Watching your mother get married for the 4th time is such a gift, especially when you really love the man she’s marrying. David is such a good addition to our lives these past ten years. I am grateful for 4th chances.

 

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2016, you taught me loss. Loss of mentors and loss of those that never took a breath on this earth. 

You introduced me to the darkest side of Alzheimer's and the devil it is. My amazing earth loving, home brew making, reader and classical-music-passionate Uncle Will Bill, lost his life to Alzheimer's at the young age of 72. He was my mother’s only living relative. He was one of my greatest role models. With his loss comes my passion to share his story and support other families dealing with this hellacious disease. I learned that saying goodbye to someone that shouldn’t be leaving is heart wrenching, and that I will do whatever I can to fight this disease. 

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Oh, 2016. A “mother’s intuition” is something that I have always firmly believed in and I strongly encourage mothers to listen and follow. So, on March 4, 2016 when I had a positive pregnancy test I knew this baby was going to change my life forever. I knew this little one was special, and from the beginning, I knew something was wrong. I told my mother, husband, midwife and therapist. Three months and 17 days later I learned that one little tiny extra chromosome (13) would change my life forever.  Then 4 days later I birthed my baby girl Sophia Love Ehlers.

2016, I am working to find the light in the loss of my daughter. I have always had a passion for mamas and birth, and the gift you gave me of Sophia has only deepened that. I love connecting to each woman that comes through Blooma’s door. Now, in my loss, I can connect and bond with a new set of mamas, those that experienced this same kind of loss. I can cry with them, experience the same emotions, lend an ear and truly say “I understand”. I can offer support to a whole other group of women.

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And in this loss, I learned how taboo this subject is. 

I am an advocate for not hiding things in the dark. We need to listen to these mamas that have experienced loss, be there for them, and not just brush this scary thing under a rug. I thought that people were comfortable talking about death. I learned very quickly that no, Americans and Midwesterners do not like talking about it. This only encourages me more to make Blooma a community where ALL births, topics, and struggles are discussed and supported. Amen for all the sisters that I have bonded with in The Sisterhood of Loss Group at Blooma. 

I am so grateful, 2016, for the outpouring of love and support that came day after day following our loss. Cards, flowers, meals, calls, emails, texts - each and every one I am grateful for. You taught me about the community I live in and the crazy amount of love and support that they can offer.

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More than ever you taught me that meds are amazing! I am so, so grateful for Zoloft. I am learning to release the guilt of upping my dosage. Is this how most people see the world? I have come to accept that I need a little “support” as I walk this current path. I won’t be on it forever, but I ain’t getting off it anytime soon! Thank you 2016. Thank you for teaching me that sometimes a mama needs a little help from modern medicine.

Along with Zoloft I am so deeply grateful for my therapist(s). Having a professional “hold space” for you in the throes of loss is crucial. My weekly (sometimes 2x) sessions with women who are dedicated to making the world and humans a better place is not something I will ever take advantage of. Therapy and Zoloft - two of the biggest things that got me through you 2016.

Oh boy, 2016, you brought me Navel and the crazy world of producing apparel. I love the message Navel is sharing, but did not know the intense process of manufacturing. I will never look at a piece of clothing the same. 

2016 you showed me a part of this country that is so beautiful, I couldn’t imagine it.  For the first time I experienced Alaska, a majestic place of beauty and quiet. Weeks after losing my daughter, it was such a safe escape for me and my family. The kids and I played Frisbee until 11:30pm under the bright sun! We hiked in the lush greens, drank at amazing breweries and yep, I fell head-over-heels in love with RV living (Can’t wait to retire in an RV one day, haha). 2016, you and Alaska taught me how to slow down and be present in the beauty of life. 

 

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This past year there was one act that I experienced multiple times a day that I believed saved me. The act of hugs and hugging. Thank you 2016 for arms that can be wrapped around those in need. Hugs of celebration, hugs of support, hugs of glory. I had some of the best hugs of my life the summer of 2016. I cherish each one of them along with the men and women that opened their arms to hold me.

Then, on the morning of New Year’s Eve, you gave my family us/me one last scare. My healthy, vibrant, energetic, young father-in-law, Steve, slipped and fell on the ice, causing bleeding in his brain. He had emergency brain surgery and we are now walking the path of OT, speech therapy and so on. (Sigh. Cry. Scream. Fuck!). And Amen to HCMC, Kenny Courage Center, and my mother in law for being by his side every step of the way. For Steve, every single day my family is working hard to make this experience one of the best we can. We are starting to see light as he talks and moves more each day. At the same time, we are all experiencing extreme emotional highs and lows. You taught me 2016, how fast life can change and to never ever forget to tell those you love how much they mean to you. What a reminder this was for my whole family to not sweat the small stuff.

2016, I thank you because you taught me how precious life is and that by no means can you ever take a day for granted. That friends, family and good cries are so damn necessary. My marriage and my relationship with my sister has deepened and that is one of the best gifts you could ever give me. 

Thank you 2016. Thank you for all the life lessons. I will do my best to continue to learn from them. I will do my best to celebrate what I have been given. And, maybe, just maybe, could you drop a line to 2017 for me? Could you let 2017 know that I am ready with open arms for more life lessons... but no more loss. Please.

Love, 

Sarah Longacre

Blooma founder, Yogi, Doula, mama, partner, sister & friend

Looking Ahead in 2017

We continue to rock our New Year's REVOLUTION in 2017. Our Revolution isn't just about January, it's about having an amazing year (ups, downs, and everything in between). With 2016 a few weeks behind us, we wanted to share what we're looking forward to most in the New Year! Babies will be born, our community will grow, and families will celebrate milestones together. Blooma's Leadership Team is looking forward to all different things, from vacations and celebrations to walks in the sunshine and yoga trainings.

Sarah Auna - "I've been asked by one of my dearest yoga teachers to assist her on a yoga retreat to Tuscany, Italy in 2017!!!"

Marina Polvitzki - "I'm looking forward to visiting my little sister in Copenhagen for her graduation, and then traveling to Norway for a camping trip with her + our partners. I am also excited to drink the first batch of beer that we brewed on New Years Eve! Imperial Smoked Chipotle Porter... Mmm :)."

Sarah Longacre - "I am looking forward to being kinder to myself."

Tyler Copeland - "I'm looking forward to living in my new apartment. I has huge southern facing windows with tons of light and is only 4 blocks from Lake Calhoun. I can't wait to walk around the lake on a daily basis with my dog."

Lauren Herbeck - "My baby girl starting Kindergarten this fall.  I am excited about her growing up and enjoying school (which she has been asking to start for 2 years now!) but also the extra time I will have with my boys while she is there."

Meghan Foley - "I am looking forward to continuing my yoga therapy training out at Kripalu in the Berkshire mountains. I am excited to have more time in my schedule to relax and take classes. I am excited for this frozen tundra to warm up."

Greta Fay - "I am looking forward to escaping to the beach, snuggling my best friends fresh babies, staying home more, potty training and summer adventures!"

Sam Boyd - "I can't wait to finally go on a honeymoon with my husband, and stick my toes in the sand. I am also very excited to expand our CSA to more members this summer and grow even more veggies!"

Laura Gillespie - "I am looking forward to exploring my second summer in the Twin Cities (I don’t know how much longer I can take the cold!), making more friends in the area, and taking a trip home for my niece’s first birthday!"

 

And, of course, we are all looking forward to more Blooma love, more mamas, more babies, and more time on the mat or at the barre! What are you looking forward to in the New Year?

 

Thank you to Megan Foley, Sarah Auna, Greta Fay, Sarah Longacre, Tyler Copeland, Laura Gillespie, Sam Christopher, and Marina Povlitzki for your contributions!

Celebrating Nine Years of Blooma Love: A Personal Account From A Blooma Mama

As Blooma celebrates its 9th Birthday, we want to celebrate the people that have contributed to our success and have held our mission so close to their heart. Lauren started at Blooma as part of our childcare team. Nine years later, she basically runs the place. Not only has she seen her career grow, and Blooma develop into the community it is today, but she has become a mother herself, THREE times! She is kind, warm, hardworking, and dedicated to the mission of Blooma. We asked her to reflect on the past nine years, and we won't lie, some moments brought us to tears. Thank you for all that you have done, and continue to do! Happy Birthday Blooma!

I started my journey with Blooma as a college student, completely unaware that my hourly job in the childcare room was going to impact the next decade of my life.  At that point, I hadn't thought much about yoga or birth and I couldn’t imagine then what my life would be like 9 years later.  But here I am!  Now a mama of 3, married to my incredible husband, and the Director of Operations for Blooma. 

Reflecting on the last 9 years with Blooma, I am overwhelmed with the abundance of personal and professional growth opportunities I have experienced and witnessed. 

As a business, Blooma has grown in many different ways.  Our staff has grown from a handful to almost 100. We have moved and added locations across the twin cities and trained yoga instructors and birth doulas across the world.  We’ve developed and fine-tuned class offerings, education, and wellness services.  We’ve touched the lives of thousands of mamas and their families, made mistakes and celebrated enormous triumphs.  And, with the heart and passion of our leader, Sarah, we will continue to identify and serve the needs of our mamas.  

Blooma’s growth wouldn’t have happened without the perseverance of the women (and a few men!) that pour their energy into Blooma.  I have met so many inspiring people through our studios in the past 9 years.  Women and men who are on a mission to make our world a better place.  Our staff and support team has been comprised of mothers, sisters, doulas, writers, teachers, artists, designers, farmers, lawyers, midwives, accountants, grant writers, marketing managers, world travelers, photographers, small business owners, musicians…and I can keep going for hours!  It is humbling to think of the talent, passion and knowledge I have been surrounded by for so many years.  

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I smile when I think about the ways Blooma has impacted me personally, as a mother and sister.  While working for Blooma, I have been blessed to give birth 3 times. Three very different births. I had a natural hospital birth, a beautiful home water birth, and an unplanned 35-week cesarean birth - each with my friend, doula, and boss Sarah by my side (Literally, I wouldn't let her leave my side). During each birth, I drew from the knowledge and strength that Blooma had given me.  Through yoga I learned to manage my breath, Doula Training provided me with comfort measures, and I found strength in every woman who had shared their birth story.

In the last nine years, I have walked with my fellow mamas through their own unique journeys. From infertility and loss, to planned and unplanned pregnancies.  While I have witnessed hard pregnancies and traumatic births, I have been humbled to witness smooth, complication-free pregnancies and swift births.  I have journeyed through perinatal mood disorders both personally and with other mamas, and have been honored to provide postpartum care to my sisters that they had provided for me - holding their newborns, bringing meals, and offering encouragement.  

 

We all have a journey. I never would have predicted this would be mine.  My passion for pregnancy, birth, and postpartum life has turned into a career in a supportive work environment, allowing me to navigate the "working mom" balance.  I have been given an opportunity to apply my skill set in a business with a mission so near to my heart. I am thankful for each client I encounter, each co-worker that’s worked alongside me, every challenge we overcame together, the support I received during my pregnancies, and most significantly of all, for Sarah.  I am beyond grateful for what Blooma has given to me in the last 9 years and can't begin to imagine what the next 9 will bring!

 

Written by Lauren Herbeck

Director of Operations at Blooma

Wife and Mother of Three, Friend to Us All

 

The Top 15 Blooma Blog Posts: #1 – “My Walk with Postpartum Depression & Anxiety”

Once again we bow our heads to our fearless, amazing leader Sarah Longacre. We cannot imagine the courage it took to write this blog post that has been viewed tens of thousands of times and shared all across the world.

For any mother out there struggling with these same issues - know you are not alone. Please know that you can reach out to anyone at Blooma, or go on our Resources page to seek help if you feel so inclined. This horrible bear of a disease affects one in eight mothers, and that is just too much.

Let's shout our stories from the rooftops and do what we can to end this terrible disease.

Once again we need to thank Sarah for sharing this incredible story, this number 1 post in our Top 15 Blooma Blog posts of all time:

"My Walk with Postpartum Depression and Anxiety"

Love to all the mothers out there.

Ann + the Women of Blooma