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Some people are golden. Special collections of thoughts and stories that endear us before we have a chance to do anything but fall. Hayley Oakes won us just that way: with her alive and sometimes rowdy smile plus earnest passion for what’s honest and true. Keenly self aware and brilliantly effortless, Hayley has an age-old story to her ways – the kind of been-here-once-before air that makes her journey as a midwife all the more true. We caught up with Hayley and got lost amid a thousand tangents, seeing the heart of someone empowered and dedicated to living in a truly beautiful way.

Story and Interview by Miwa Sakamoto

What’s your space like?

Ah yes, the Tree Butter Tree House, as I call it. It’s technically a 1-bedroom in a 2-story duplex that sits near the top of Mt. Washington. It’s in the middle of downtown’s metropolitan skyscrapers and the Griffith Observatory – a city sanctuary. It’s really like a tree house in that light pours in every side of room, even reaching the fallen leaves and twigs just outside the door. Easily the most indulgent and playful space I have ever lived in, it’s also the first one I can really call my own. We painted, built, hammered and hung relics of our lives – so it’s eclectic and textured, but also intentional.

Where do you find inspiration?

Sitting in a dark movie theater by myself; taking a sweaty dance class and absorbing the choreography so much that you don’t think about it anymore and it becomes yours; soaking in steam rooms and being scrubbed at Korean spas; watching TED talks from bed; night time strolls around the reservoir. Repeated albums playing are: Paul Simon, Haim, Pure Bathing Culture, and Fleetwood Mac. I’m a sucker for oldies and female lead singers (or sisters). Also, nature is a perfect blend of functional and intentional space. It’s stunning and exceptional in the precision of its design, but it also has a purpose. Everything is there to work with something else and it just so happens it’s beautiful as well.

What do you look forward to most days?

Quietly making coffee in the morning so all the sounds and smells slowly fill the air, going for walks around the hood or some kind of physical activity, skimming the Daily Skimms, playing Ruzzle mid-day when I need to take a break from reading dense medical texts, and whispering good bye to Omar in the middle of the night when I have to sneak off to a birth.

What’s your style like?

My style is sort of eclectic – I love me a good pair of Tevas as much as a black cashmere sweater. I like to mix old with new, casual and classy with cool and sexy. So much of what I like is what my mom would wear when she was my age; but it’s not only what she wore, but how she wore it. It represented a bad-ass and classic beauty.

What do you think about this power of women?

Until I was around childbirth, I saw women as equal to men. But now I look at every woman as a mystical, powerful being. When I see a pregnant woman, it’s like seeing a unicorn in real life. It’s a totally unbelievable thing that a woman can create life with her body, birth life with her body, and then nourish life with her body. The design of procreation is mind blowing. And yet, most women don’t relish their innate capabilities. Instead they are fearful of this one thing that differentiates them from men, the most powerful thing of all: to give life. Childbirth is often the first time some women recognize their power and it’s completely heartbreaking and inspiring all at the same time.

You’re a photographer as well, what are you trying to capture?

I want to capture the beauty of totally ordinary moments in life. I’m a big fan of street photography and the capability of a photographer to trust his or her instinct. I find taking photographs is an exercise in being present, of consciously absorbing and registering my surrounding. I love the natural and humorous ironies of coincidental color choices, or people and places, and I’m inspired to catch it on film (and display them on my blog).

What kind of adventure would you take tomorrow?

One that is small, secretive and spontaneous – like driving to Ojai for a hike early in the morning and driving back.

What do you hope for with midwifery?

I hope I can crack the code around those mysteriously predominant thoughts, ideas, and fears surrounding childbirth. I hope I can influence women to trust their bodies and themselves through birth. I feel like if it can start from the root – the deepest part of women – then it can grow and flourish to other parts of their lives. I hope midwifery – both in and out of the hospital – becomes more mainstream, a realistic option for everyone who wants it. I hope that I can travel and learn from other cultures. I hope that I can deliver all that I have learned and experienced to the world at some point in my life. For more information on Hayley’s Midwifery Practice or if you’d like to see some of her photography, here are the links! www.collectivewisdombirth.com http://midwifemilktrails.tumblr.com/ http://thebalesandthebeez.tumblr.com/

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