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Kira Silverstein

Kira is a doula and has a long history in theater as a writer, director and performer and she is a native to the Chicago area.

What is happiness to you?

It is interesting because I recognized recently that I've been so busy, I haven't felt that feeling in a while, I haven't had time and I found moments of it but I feel it's when all of my senses are totally alive, when I feel really present on whatever I'm doing and when I feel really in connection with other people. When I used to live in Italy there was this night where I went out with my friends, we were dancing until 6 in the morning and took this car ride home stopped at the bakery and then lay down while the sun was rising and just felt this sense of calm and grounding and a lightness.

Having a very busy life, do you think it's impossible to have those moments of happiness?

No, I don't, I think that if I am really aware then maybe. If I take the time each day to do something to re-center myself then I am able to feel happy. I'm reading this book called Pleasure Activism, it's about pleasure as the root of activism and ending oppression and also on a global scale and how we can find that in every aspect of our life. Not just sexual pleasure, but the pleasure of eating or spending time with someone. Right now I'm going to make tea for us and enjoy drinking it and talking.

So when you're talking about pleasure, it's not necessarily pleasure through the senses, it's a different kind of pleasure?

I think it is both pleasure through the senses and a spiritual connection

From what you're describing it sounds like being more present, more conscious or aware.

I think it is being very attuned to the senses, which is being present.

It's very similar to what a lot of people call today mindfulness. You mentioned the ability to re-Center yourself every now and then especially in times that are busy, chaotic and intense, would that be something that re-center you?

Yes, the ability to be more aware and mindful and in my body. When I am not moving my body I feel very disconnected otherwise. I like to work out and do yoga. I have noticed a difference when I'm active and I feel more able to do what I need to do.

If you had a chance to talk to a younger version of you, what kind of advice would you give yourself?

It’s the same advice I would give to myself now which is not be so hard on myself. I feel like I have inherited this Mantra that I am not good enough at a very young age, and that has been very difficult to break. I try to find the origin of that. You are enough.

Do you think you're able to look at yourself today more objectively and see everything that you do, all the good that you are doing and say this is a lot, this is enough?

I feel I'm getting better at it now when I take a moment and pause to reflect on it, but I am very hard on myself. At one point my life was on an upward swing, I felt really good about the work I was doing, I had so much energy to start things and then I got into this pretty emotionally abusive relationship and the fire in me died. I am trying to find that again.

What do you think will help you to rekindle that fire?

Getting into the doula work has helped because immediately it felt aligned with who I am. It just feels like an intersection of all my passions: supporting women (and people who identify as other gender) through birth, helping families grow, taking care of little babies. I feel that the more I say “yes” to the things that feel in alignment (to who I am), the more I'm able to feel that sense of goodness. Getting into school was kind of a wake-up call that I am on the right path, things are finally falling into place.

You spoke about that alignment with who you really are, how do you recognize or how do you see that alignment?

It's when all of the senses turn on, when I feel totally present with what I'm doing, when I am able to feel that fire and on a spiritual sense, I'm in the right place at the right time and I'm not religious but I definitely feel spiritual and I feel like there's a sense of belonging that feels like a big part of it too. This is where I belong. Part of it is that I have had my own experiences with trauma, that I feel sensitive to people's needs, I want to feel supportive and not that I want my experience to be a part of theirs'.

I have been in extreme pain in different scenarios, not that it's the same as birth, but I have the ability to sit with people in some of the hardest moments.

As I had people support me at hard times, the most helpful was someone being there and not try fixing it.

Do you have anyone who is a big influence in your life? Who inspired you?

My mom, who is a therapist and who has started and ran a women's therapy program over 20 years, creating sacred spaces which served thousands of women.

She is also very strong, she works very hard and does very important work.

Do you have a moment in your life that was fundamental to who you are?

The moment I decided to leave (the relationship I was in) was actually really beautiful. At that time I was around such amazing people and I remember feeling this is what it feels like to be seen and appreciated and to be a community of people who lift me up as opposed to bring me down.

In 5-10 years from now, where do you see yourself in terms of the values that lead your life?

It feel it's connected to work too, just because I did a lot of work on myself the last few years.

It's kind of what I said about the younger version of myself, I envision not being so hard on myself, living the things that I believe as oppose to talking about it. The way I show up for other people, I hope I can show up for myself.

I want to feel more happiness, to get back to the place I was before, I remember myself as a little girl, I was so un-afraid and finding that spark.

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