about sanctuary healing arts
from Michele Kolakowski, founder
birth doula, postpartum doula and massage therapist in boulder, co
I love sunshine and Carolina blue sky days, bluegrass music to tap my toes to, and wildflower walks in warm summer breezes. I love being a woman empowered with the creativity and strength to give birth. And I love caring for women and their wee ones. I’m so blessed to work with uber talented professionals who share my passion for the hands-on healing arts with women and their wee ones. At Sanctuary Healing Arts, we believe there’s no better time for mothers and their families to be exquisitely cared for as when they begin their lives together.
How women and their wee ones experience pregnancy, birth, the “fourth trimester” and beyond – matters for all of us. In 1992, I watched a video of an Indian mother lovingly massaging her happy, healthy baby in the sun just outside her simple lean-to home on the other side of the world. It changed me. I had never seen such a potent therapeutic dose of loving care in just a few short moments…without a word spoken. I became fascinated with the baby’s experience of touch and the transformative bonds between mothers and their wee ones, and it’s been my passion ever since.
My devotion to the hands-on healing arts for women and their wee ones is simple. Touch is a fundamental human need and often lacking or missing all together in families, our communities and in our health care. Yet, it is the one of simplest, effective ways to positively influence this miracle with instant and lifetime positive influences for women, their wee ones and families. Over the years, my work has expanded to helping women get a sweet start in their womanhood and seeing them through their lifespan with less pain, more ease and awareness of themselves as vibrant women with amazing inner intelligence.
I am passionate about improving maternity and newborn care – one pregnancy, one birth and one new family at a time. Sanctuary Healing Arts offers birth doula care and postpartum doula care and massage therapy in Boulder County, Colorado and surrounding communities. I enjoy sharing my passion for maternity and infant massage therapy with my classes & talks at conferences, schools, spas and hospitals nationwide. I treasure the opportunity to help families, nurses, midwives and physicians improve family-centered care and interdisciplinary teamwork.
In my more than twenty years of experience caring for women, their wee ones and new families. I genuinely thank them for informing me and my practice every day and being some of my best teachers.
I cherish my doula sisters in Birth Assistants of Boulder, Boulder County’s long standing professional doula group. I thank all my colleagues who supported me in serving as Program Supervisor for Longmont United Hospital’s Health Center of Integrative Therapies – a successful community hospital Integrative Medicine program with an innovative BirthPlace Massage Therapy Program providing thousands of maternity massages to new mothers as well as group and private infant massage instruction for families of healthy, premature, medically fragile and special needs infants. I developed and instructed maternity massage therapy core curricula and continuing education programs for Boulder College of Massage Therapy and Cortiva Institute. I currently have the privilege to teach for Boulder College of Massage Therapy at Naropa University and for my professional “mom” Carole Osborne at Body Therapy Education. I am blessed to “toss the pebble in the pond” and perpetuate that ripple of shared wisdom and educational excellence.
I want to express gratitude for the honor to have studied and worked with numerous colleagues and pioneers of their respective fields who have deeply influenced my work especially Carole Osborne NCTMB, Michelle Bowman RN LAc, Christine Caldwell PhD, Rosita Arvigo DN, Suzanne Yates BA, Kate Jordan CMT, Elaine Stillerman LMT, Deanna Elliott CEIM, Carolyn Guenther-Molloy LMT, Penny Stansfield CD (DONA), LMT and Melinda Ferguson CD (DONA). I am also grateful to all my students and clients who have also been my greatest teachers.
My story would not be complete without thanking my women before me … my dearest mother Ann, who lost her mother too early and despite this hardship, birthed and mothered me so very well “without her map.” And for my paternal grandmother Lottie Belle and her mother my Grandmé, two remarkable Southern women who I also loved as a child and wish to have known as a grown woman. I’d love to ask them about their births and what it was like being a mother in their generations.
When not with my larger circle of women and their wee ones, I also enjoy high altitude gardening in my yard, hikes to the mountain summer wildflowers and glacial lakes with my husband Kyle and our friends, my meditation and yoga practice, high school and college basketball (go Cougars and Tarheels!) and being witness to my teenage boys Kyle and Jackson becoming amazing young men.