(Watch the corresponding documentary "Nothing Just Happens to Me")
When I met Randy Patterson for the first time, to film and interview her at the ProDoula office in Peekskill, New York, she made me feel uncomfortable within the first ten minutes of being there. I was setting up lights for the shoot, and she asked me, “So, what do you want with this project?” I gave my canned answer as I continued to set up; not looking at her, I said, “We want everyone to watch it!” She looked at me skeptically and said, “No, seriously, what do you want to happen with this project? What’s the point?”
I looked up at her in the eyes, at attention now. I actually dug deep for a second to think about what I wanted to come from The Radiant Project, slightly embarrassed by the inauthenticity of my previous answer. I carry myself confidently, but I felt intimidated by this woman. She was asking me to be vulnerable and make this personal; she was asking me to pinpoint my deepest intention in that moment with her—and I knew she’d be able to tell the difference between a real answer and a fake one. I don’t remember what exactly I said at the time, but I do remember it being rooted in emotion—my emotion. I felt uncomfortable, but important, because I felt like she cared about what I thought and what I wanted, even though we had just met.
As Randy says, “You don’t have to like me!” And truthfully, not everyone does; she’s quite popular in the doula community, but she wasn’t nominated for being perfectly nice. She is wonderfully sweet in person, but she has opinions that bring indignation to some in the doula world. ProDoula teaches their trainees and partners to sell their services in differently priced packages rather than having one flat rate. From my understanding, the practice is controversial because being a doula has never been about the money. A doula's job is to support the intention and autonomy of the woman who is going through childbirth; the women who do this deeply spiritual work have so much heart that they sometimes sacrifice their own time and sleep, for free, to be at the bedside of a client in need, who is otherwise a stranger. Randy and Debbie invented a solution because they believe in having it all.
We are not saying she is perfect, and we don't necessarily endorse the ProDoula brand, but we do endorse Randy Patterson as a radiant human; the woman has a cult following of hundreds (maybe thousands) of women who would do anything for her because she has allowed a space for them to take off their masks and own their power. She has probably instilled strength in more people than anyone I have personally met. Hell, she instilled strength in me. And that's how she exudes her radiant light.
We decided to release Randy's episode first because she epitomizes what we have found to be the first step to being radiant: take responsibility and renounce victim status. Most of us want something badly that we don’t have, or exist as chumps in lives we don’t want. If you can relate to either of those things, you almost certainly have something to blame for why you don’t have the life you dream of, and have rendered yourself powerless in the situation.
This woman had every excuse to waste away her life as the victim of her circumstances; she had inattentive, drug addicted parents, grew up on the streets, and was severely bullied as a child. It wasn’t easy for her to overcome this past: she will openly tell you she drowned in worthlessness for years. She didn’t graduate high school, and fell into addiction and homelessness as an adult.
Not many of us have such harrowing history, and most of us do less with what we were given than Randy Patterson has. She could have said, “I’m not educated enough, cool enough, old enough, pretty enough, talented enough, smart enough” to be a great leader; yet now she is the CEO of her own company, has influenced and strengthened thousands of women, has a truly beautiful family and home, and is one of the highest paid doulas in the country. Some people may see her motivation as selfish, and it may appear that way; but from our experience with her we feel she doesn't put her value in her worldly success. She told us “I think a lot about legacy… and I just want to know when I leave this earth that women felt stronger in my presence.”
Most people I know see a problem and write about it on Facebook, or have moralistic arguments about it; Randy sees a problem and takes active responsibility to create a new possibility, just as she took responsibility to choose her own life. She doesn’t let a conversation go by without challenging someone to dig deep. Everyone she comes into contact with (which happens to be mostly women, due to her line of work) walks away in touch with what they want and tapped into the inner power within themselves to have those things.
Randy has the capacity to care for so many people, to “reach in and pull them out,” as she would say, because she has taken care of her own self-esteem. She believes in her own worthiness to have what she wants-- and it’s not an ego thing; she simply realized that she matters, and that her dreams matter, and that she is enough to have it all. Now that she feels peace in her inner world she can help other people to see they matter, and what they want matters, and she challenges them to overcome whatever holds them back. She won’t tell you what to do, she’ll ask you to dig deep until you come to it yourself.
You may never get the chance to meet her, and no article could replace the presence Randy Patterson provides, but I hope you think of her, and take an hour or two to write out the answers to these questions she would have you ask yourself if she stood in front of you:
What do you really want?
What do you really care about?
How are you responsible for what your life and relationships look like?
What are you afraid of?
What “not enough” story are you telling yourself?
What problems do you see in your life and your community?
Have you taken responsibility to create different possibilities?
For more information on how to become a certified doula, or receive business consulting or life coaching from Randy Patterson go to www.prodoula.com.
To get involved in her non-profit, "No Child Wet Behind," that provides diapers for low income families, go to www.nochildwetbehind.com.