THE JOURNEY OF A PEACEMAKING MOTHER

dsc0999728 May 2016: It struck me like a thunderstorm. The news of my pregnancy were something so surreal that I couldn’t make sense of it, even after 5 positive pregnancy test stripes. In the first moment of shock, I thought my career would be over (even if it has not yet begun). I was just as shocked as a young mother, career-driven and lusting for travel, could be. At that time in June 2016, I was in the second term of my Masters Program in Peace, Development, Security and International Conflict Transformation. What a funny coincidence was it that I had just spend 3 months as a prenatal Yoga instructor in Kigali, Rwanda, when I got pregnant myself. And more so, I had wished to have children soon, just a few months before, in October 2015, I could not think of anything else. Yet, in the course of my first semester at Grad School, I began thinking that pregnancy should wait, at least until I would finish my M.A., get a stable job, and all the rational reasons that most of us have. But that little angel had a much stronger will to live.
It did not take more than 24 hours until my pregnancy turned into a blessing. By the next morning, my doubts were calmed and happiness and gratitude bursted from us two, now three souls, that have loved so deeply for 5  years now.

WHO AM I, AND IF YES, HOW MANY?

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At the M.A. program for Peace studies we have a little joke that we keep on asking each other: Who are you, and if yes, how many? I might not have done my homework well, as I am still unable, to clearly and precisely answer this question according to objectively valid standards of modern society.

My mother keeps reminding me of how people are stunned when she talks about my life at her workplace. She is telling her colleagues that I organized a charity event for human rights with eight different bands, that I volunteered in Rwanda for one year after graduating from high school, that I went to Washington DC for an internship with a renowned NGO, that I did a Yoga Teacher Training in Zanzibar and finished my B.A. graduation with top results. I would often feel flattered when she talked about me like an extraterrestrial superwoman. But I seldom felt like one.

Throughout the 25 years of my life, I went through different passions that I took up and let go of, finding myself disappointed by giving up, and starting something new. I played the guitar for almost 8 years, attended a specialized school for young talents and played sophisticated guitar solos on small concerts. I wrote poems that were published in an anthology, and songs that were played on small local radio stations. I dived into campaigns against human rights abuses and felt assigned with the task of changing the world by informing others. As an active member of the local group of amnesty international, I organized information points at public events, encouraged people to sign petitions and was featured as a little teenage hero on the local newspaper. At the age of 16, I attended my first Yoga class, which I am still pursuing with passion and love until today, because it grounds me in the present moment.

So here I am, many, with the courage to be imperfect to the outside while at harmony with myself. Finding joy in picking up a passion and letting it go when it is no longer serving me, in being imperfect in what I do and opening my heart to the learning, allowing myself to be many, and to switch directions when it is time. And, more so, in accepting and facing the challenges of life that happen to me while I am busy taking other plans. Such as this gift of life, this baby, that has chosen me to be his mom. 

MY LOVE STORY WITH PEACE

I don’t quite remember when peace began playing a role in my life, or when I consciously thought about peace. Most probably it started with observing the opposite of peace in media, television and newspapers. It didn’t take long for the fire of idealism to light and I found myself engaged in human rights education, genocide prevention and alongside others in demonstrating against nuclear power and right-wing racism. After high school, I took a gap year volunteering with the weltwärts-program of GIZ in a Youth Center in Kigali, the Capital of Rwanda, where I fell in love both to the country and to a wonderful man. Following, I studied Governance and Public Policy at the University of Passau with the clear vision to be, in one way or another, involved in political decision-making one day – in which I would want to make a difference. As you might be able to imagine, that did not turn out as expected, and I found myself disappointed by the formal political sphere. Confused and literally exhausted by my B.A., I granted myself the wish to pursue a Yoga Teacher Training in Zanzibar in 2015. Diving deeper into Yoga philosophy and the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali in particular, as well as the Chakra philosophy, opened my eyes for the simple fact that I cannot contribute to the world what I don’t have inside myself:

Peace.

But how could I make sense of this new insight? Educated in a modern scientific mindset that required me to find objective and empirical proof for my assumptions, I felt torn between the spiritual and the rational world. That was the time of my life when a very special program found me: the Master of Arts in Peace, Development, Security and International Conflict Transformation. The transrational philosophy, a relatively new approach coined by the faculty, results from their research on different interpretations of peace in history and culture. The research allowed to identify four major groups of interpretation: the energetic, the moral, the modern and the postmodern peace families. Each peace family is concerned with a specific key value: energetic peaces are about harmony, moral peaces emphasize justice, modern interpretations of peace call for security, and the post-modern peaces deal with the question of truth(s).

Yet, as none of these values appear isolated in human and social interactions, the transrational approach has been introduced, a holistic combination of all four aspects to a larger concept of peace. In its nature, it “appreciates and applies the rationality of modern science while it transgresses its limits and holistically embraces all aspects of human nature for its interpretation of peace. It is rational and so much more, for example emotional, mental and spiritual” (Dietrich, 2008 p.319-405).

In September 2015, my journey as a peace student of the Innsbruck school for peace studies started. And it has been transformative in quite many ways, beginning with my relationship to myself, my ability to stay centered and aware even in a conflictive environment, and the way I look at peace and conflict.

During the online phase of the second term (Summer 2016), I went back to Rwanda to spend time with my partner, give workshops in Nonviolent Communication for High School students and teach Yoga in Kigali.

Unexpectedly, I became pregnant, and with this pregnancy comes the challenge to embody and apply the peace tools that I have learned and continue to learn every day. Not only for my own sanity, but also for this life that grows within me, I want to create a peaceful pregnancy, as far as that is possible. More so, I imagine and anticipate that child being my teacher eventually, who will be challenging my abilities, my creativity and not least my patience, let alone to speak of my inner peace. How can I be in the leadership role of a mother when I fall out of balance? Which tools are there to help me center and be grounded for my child? These and other questions will be the main topics of this website.

So feel invited to join me on this journey of a peacemaking mother-to-be, and let us honor with this cracking open all the peacemaking mothers who already are and continuously becoming. Peacemaking. Graceful. Beautiful.

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Dietrich, Wolfgang (2008). Variationen über die Vielen Frieden – Deutungen. Schriften des UNESCO Chairs for Peace Studies der Universität Innsbruck/1. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag. [English translation (2012). Interpretations of peace in history and culture (Many Peaces vol. 1). London: Palgrave Macmillan]. http://dx.doi.org/10.1057/9780230367715 

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