In Scottish Gaelic, of which my great-grandmother Isabella Douglas spoke just a few words, Cailleach (pronounced kar-lee-ack) means old woman. Cailleach derives from the Latin pallium, for woollen cloak, which became the Gaelic adjective caille, veilled. Cailleach carries the sense of an ‘old-woman-alone-in-herself’, or ‘old-woman-healer’. 

I’d like to share my personal writing with folks who might be interested, lift back that cloak just a little. I’ll also share thoughts and quotes which give me courage, which speak to my values, which nourish my life of the soul. Maybe these will have some meaning for you, too. 

My son will help distribute my little newsletters every two weeks, and also my responses to selected mailbag comments or questions every two months. 

I’ve been writing all my life, actually. This is not just professional writing, such as my research papers or commentaries or The Discontented Little Baby Book. (Or Breastfeeding Stripped Bare, which is about four-fifths done!) In 2009 I was proud to receive a Queensland Premier’s Literary Award for an Emerging Manuscript (Fiction), and I'm finally ready to share from this and other more personal and literary work – including from my PhD in Creative Writing and Women’s Studies and from the as yet unpublished Bone Mother: A Memoir in Milk.

I'm also keen to share reflections on my attempts as a generalist doctor to make a contribution toward health system change, in the hope that this might encourage you as you make your own unique contribution to a better world. We all have to pull hard together now in our little rowboat of human life, since the planet herself is crying out for our help. 

I hope you will join me! It's taken me a lifetime to be ready. But I'm sixty-one now – I lay my hands quietly, with her consent, on a patient’s tender flesh, and I see that somehow my hands have turned into a Cailleach’s. It's time.


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Have a question? I'd love to hear it! Reach out to me at and I'll respond to as many questions as possible in a bi-monthly mailbag. Please note, however, that this project is separate to my clinical, educational, and research work and I'm unable to answer questions about breastfeeding, sleep, baby crying, or other health problems using this platform. Thanks for your understanding and I look forward to connecting with you!