Report: Crossing the Threshold for Experienced Mentors


Birthing From Within wouldn’t exist without community. I’ve found that community is the thread that holds us together and helps us find our way back home. Regardless of where we are on our paths – experienced mentor or brand-new – we all benefit from the community that Birthing From Within offers us, and we can access that community by way of many portals along the way.

Recently, I chose to dive through the portal that was the Crossing the Threshold weekend retreat in New York City, with Nikki Shaheed and Koyuki Smith ushering me in and leading the way. Beginning in 2018, Crossing the Threshold is how all newcomers to BFW are first initiated.

As an experienced mentor who is already fully trained through the older training programs, I didn’t “have to” attend, but I heard the call – the call to professional as well as personal growth, and of course to adventure!

Braced for the New York climate, I placed my grandmother’s medallion around my neck,  stepped into my bright blue tennis shoes – which I later realized was a misstep, given the predominance of stylish, low-cut, black boots striking the slick, rain-covered streets of Brooklyn – and with my bags overpacked with me, left my San Diego home. I arrived clumsily with my crown of knowing intact, but also anxious and willing to set it down at the door. For this was an adventure that I knew I wanted to traverse with a sense of lightness and unburdening.

What does it mean for an already-initiated Birthing From Within mentor to re-initiate and Cross the Threshold into the arms and hearts of their peers? It’s an ovulatory sweeping along, an invitation that says, “Come as you are.”

This new offering was a delight! How often are we, as BFW mentors, offered the same kind of experiential immersion that we offer to parents? Crossing the Threshold does just this. It’s fun and deep, and it trusts participants’ inner compasses while also guiding us with skill, thought, attention, creativity, and warmth. Our facilitators modeled how to show up, mold, and hold experiences and processes that can only be served in the moment. It was alive, and it was fresh.


CtT Brooklyn


Much like the labyrinth, the experience felt both familiar and yet newly unfamiliar, secure yet disorienting. As I moved through from one process to another, I listened to, interlocked arms with, and gazed deeply into the eyes of my new BFW sojourners, meeting myself again.

It’s a well-known fact that caregivers like us can be reluctant to receive.

We are strong and fierce warriors dedicated to our own leadership. We must navigate our ships – a great responsibility taking skill, focus, and determination. How then can we consider taking a break? Crossing the Threshold offers the opportunity to find that space where none appears to exist, the space that allows us to find ourselves again. Those parts of ourselves that we have hidden in the shadows – when we tap into them and stop and listen, we’re lifted to a place that can nourish, strengthen, and restore.

If you, too, are a trained, experienced mentor, I invite you to give yourself the gift of stepping anew into the BFW community by Crossing the Threshold. It’s a refreshing and invigorating experience, bolstering mentoring confidence and inspiring new engagement. Going forward, I sense I will feel a more unified connection with our growing community, because I will have a shared experience with all of the members who joined starting in 2018.

The experience helped me to feel in alignment with current conversations and processes, and personally connected to our new leadership team as well as our wise new initiates.

There were certainly moments during the weekend when my previously-gained BFW experience and wisdom surfaced, and even perhaps contributed, but mostly I found that I could receive the experience from beginner’s mind. It’s not easy to find our way back to beginner’s mind, unless we allow ourselves to become again lost.

This is the gift of Crossing the Threshold: letting us get a little lost, so that we can find ourselves anew.

About Charisse Sciuva

Charisse is a mentor, birth story listener, doula, and bodyworker, dedicated to the art of accompaniment. She is a mother of seven, who enjoys playing in the manure of life, and discovering the richness of her stories. A faithful introvert, she also enjoys writing new stories and collaboration with others.

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