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I loved experiencing a lotus birth with my son. To celebrate his 18 months of life, Universe shifted my thoughts and today I had a sacred ceremony of planting our placenta.

17 months prior to today shortly after my son was born, to assist in keeping the smell of the placenta at bay, and as a measure to carry it around with my son for his first 3 weeks of life, I wrapped his placenta in cotton gauze, shielded it with chamomile and lavender flowers, sage leaves, preserved it with Himalayan pink salt crystals, and doused with essential oils of orange, lavender, and patchouli.

After being frozen in our freezer for 17 months, I thawed it for a month in the refrigerator; when I took it out for the first time today and unwrapped it the smell still smelled sweet like lavender and orange. The placenta and part of the cord was still reddish in color. His placenta was small as if it had shrunken in size.

I dug a hole near a bank of a pond off a meadow, right under a great Hawthorn Tree. I placed our precious placenta which was still wrapped in cotton gauze deep into the hole I had dug. The cord was wiry and parts still blue and stiff.

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My oldest daughter and I then gathered wildflowers, black-eyed susans, mini daisies, and purple meadow sage flowers, and some large stones to plant with it.

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We covered the placenta with the flowers we picked, said our prayers of thanks and of well wish offerings, and covered it with earth. We ended our ceremony by placing more flowers above and circling it with stones.

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Having this ceremony is one of release, closure of one book and the opening of a new book; the journey continues and I’m so grateful that my children participated in and witnessed this ritual ceremony of honoring the placenta, honoring the power of our bodies, and honoring the earth as we showered love to my son’s placenta. It was a spiritual ceremony and one that carried acknowledgement back to the Maori tradition of honoring the placenta.

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Peace and Blessings,
MaatMama

Today, I woke up to the consistent chant of ‘mama, mama, mama, mama, mama..’ I jumped up, and looked at the time on my phone: 5:37AM.

Ugh.. I was forced to drag myself out of bed, down the hall to my sleepy crying toddler (no tears though, just a loud consistent chant of ‘mama’ until I picked him up, brought him close and rubbed his back.

About 2 hours later, I get a knock on my door with a small voice seeping through the wood “mama, I’m hungry, can we have breakfast?” with no sleep turning back, this time I decided I’d get all the way up, out of bed, but not out of my pajamas to make it downstairs to the kitchen with 3 children following me.

 

***On a Saturday morning, I envision a quiet, long sleep-in kinda day, a lazy morning. One where I can listen to my morning meditation cd, with a bit of incense burning, some morning yoga and take my time making it downstairs to make a green smoothie for breakfast. *** This is what life was like before all three came into my life, now its a distant memory of my past …

 

So I get to the kitchen and I decide to make breakfast, feed the littles, wash their dishes, and found myself making chai for myself, a cooked hot lunch for them, and felt compelled to make their dinner as well. So much time had passed, I looked up and it was near noon, lunch and dinner all prepared and ready by 12 noon. Five hours later I found myself still in the kitchen cooking and cleaning, finishing up the last details of our meals for the day. I thought to myself, wow!

 

This MUST be my reminder to self *unconditional* love requires doing things and pushing myself beyond tolerance, beyond ego, beyond flattery, and letting go of limitations and  expectations and JUST releasing and letting love IN.

 

Namaste, One Love, MaatMama 

 

I just cannot subject my children to a failing system, just because I went through a public school system. As a mother, I am and have always been their first teacher. From birth to this present waking life. Now, I challenge myself to do the ultimate task; teach my children from the ground up, without leaving them in the hands of a corporate institution that is in the throws of political activism of how to spend money on salaries of the privileged ones who are lucky enough to teach or work in money driven neighborhoods. Instead, I’d like to dedicate my time and energy to my children in teaching them things that actually matter, useful life skills combined with knowledge and an education that can take them beyond working for a franchise; or competing in the harsh and very discriminating administration. This may all sound controversial to some, and well, this is my opinionated blog; considering a lot has developed in the last year since I last wrote about homeschooling as an option for some. Global Village School and Waldorf Education is what I am using for curriculum for my children this year. I have also connected with several other long term and successful homeschooling families in my area who are happy to be resources for us!

the night upon the moon’s face… a natural cloud line across its face.

full moon in alignment with the super moon..a recap.

My Love went to the Colorado Mountains recently and harvest dandelion root and brought it back for me to make dandelion root tea.

Here is his special video he made for me on harvesting Rocky Mountain Dandelion Roots!

So after bringing them home, I rinsed them in warm water to loosen and rinse away most of the dirt. Once rinsed, I blotted them with a paper towel and placed them in the dehydrator. After dehydrating them, I roasted them with a tiny bit of olive oil on a baking sheet in the oven for about 15 minutes. Once ready, I placed the roots in a glass jar until ready to make tea.

Here are some pics of the process:

cloth from the harvest

cloth from the harvest

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I made the salad above, which is baby kale, spinach, strawberries, pine nuts, with a homemade strawberry vinaigrette dressing. It was most delicious!

Went to the Green Festival in Chicago (http://greenfestivals.org/) this year and found some cool products. One being cloth menstrual pads, which I’ve been using for 3 years now, but found organic bamboo pads which I could not pass up on the offer. The company is owned by a woman from Spain who has a sole retail shop in Michigan. Her company is called ‘Orethic’ which stands for being Organic and Ethical. http://orethic.com/

The second thing we found cool was the extremely large globe, which you can crawl inside of, and have a personalized Geography lesson. This was equally fun for the kids as it was for the adults! ;-)

Lastly, I got a chance to speak to the table at Black Oaks Center, which is a non-profit organization that supports sustainable renewable living by way of Pembroke, Illinois. The Black Oaks Center is a habitat that ‘prepares communities for an energy descent.’ Highly likely, I was very interested in their featured outdoor learning environment, which is owned and operated by Fred Carter and Dr. Jifunza Wright. Who together work to empower youth and provide opportunities for a collective work environment such as community gardening, harvesting of locally grown foods, sustainability education, use of and education of renewable energy, sustainability of housing, and agriculture. I’m very impressed by the work they are doing: http://blackoakscenter.org/mission.html

Since visiting their booth, I am ready to put some things into action for this season (Spring 2013). For example, I’m working with a local community garden to help organize an ACTION Day where volunteers from We Farm America will come out to host a workshop on building raised garden beds. From there, we will be able to obtain resources to build such beds, and then spend the next few days building them. Exciting work is cut out for us and I can hardly wait to participate in active community by building raised beds with We Farm America: http://wefarmamerica.com/about

Speaking of All Things Green, I have also visited a wonderful green space, a Forest Preserve in Mokena, Illinois which is just so peaceful. We saw deer, crossed a stream, hiked off trails, and pitched a tent. So lovely and peaceful to spend a day walking with my bare feet on the earths floor.

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AND, I’ve decided a way that I can contribute to a smaller footprint is to do some SERIOUS spring cleaning and clean out my wardrobe, as well as the children’s and to donate any and everything that we no longer use or NEED. Clutter to put it nicely is a way to make space for things I NEED like bamboo cloth menstrual pads and upcycled denim handbag (reconstructed from my old pair of Costume Nationale Jeans).

Anyhow, more to come.. life is beautiful and I hope you are finding more ways to be GREEN.

One Drop, Bliss Broyard

Lots of issues surrounding race politics, a few highlights… I was listening to public radio and the story of Bliss Broyard was retold, comical and insightful, she talked about her family secret. The secret was her dad being half black. She grew up in Connecticut and raised and accepted as white. She went to Harvard. It wasn’t until her father’s funeral that she began to question who the black people were who arrived at the funeral. It was during her quest to find more about her fathers family that she came to meet Broyards who were black and from the south and west coast. It was then that she realized she too was black and that she needed to figure out how this was possible. She set out on her journey and has written a book about her experience and her family’s secret. Her book, entitled ‘One Drop’ is definitely a summer read for me, as it explores race relations within this family structure.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/27/books/27masl.html?_r=0

 

The 1nedrop Project by Dr. Yaba Blay is gaining national recognition by asking questions that keep the beat of our pulses as she interviewed with Soledad O’Brien ‘Who’s Black in America?’ series. Dr. Blay’s work lies in revealing the intricacies of race relations, politics, and the many phenotypes of African descendants. Her website details a range of people from all types of backgrounds yet at the same time, all who share one thing in common, their blackness and being of African descent. Her site is 1nedrop.com and Dr. Blay intends to publish a book with all her discoveries, interviews, and profiles. I am excited to pick this one up! http://1nedrop.com/

 

A few months back, I found a book, which is the dissertation of Marcia Dawkins a recent graduate of Brown University and University of Southern California entitled ‘Clearly Invisible: Racial Passing & the Color of Cultural Identity’  discusses the historical references of the ‘one drop rule’ set during slavery in America and if one of mixed race is to ‘pass’ for being white and how this view of ‘passing” has shaped their cultural identity and to what degree in terms of being able to take advantage of certain opportunities.  A definite good read. http://clearlyinvisiblebook.com/aboutbook

 

Lastly, I just watched a short documentary on global colorism and the role skin color plays on beauty. Four young women tell their stories about skin color and how they were perceived growing up. It really gets deep pointing out historical degradation of skin color. A nice perspective of how skin color stigmatizes folks outside the U.S. This short documentary is a must watch!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T6oaEHsdhOs

Part 1 of the documentary ‘Shadeism’ a view of skin color from Women of Color globally.

A few weeks ago I sent the flyer out to several local women and organizations I thought might benefit from attending this event via email list serves on 2 Dynamic women who are doing research in two very different areas, but both relating to the care of African and African American women of childbearing ages. The University of Chicago held a 2 hour talk on Black Women, Maternal & Child Health, which was given by the Center for the Study of Gender & Sexuality of the Sexualities in Africa and the African Diaspora department. 
 
Here are my notes from the talk. I would love to hear your feedback on the two very different topics and or any history or info that relates to either. I apologize for the lengthy read, but I think it is worth it!
 

‘Women of the Right Type: Medicalization of Maternity & Reform of Motherhood in Colonial Ghana’ led by Anne Hugon of the Universite of Paris at Sorbonne. She was able to travel to Ghana to research and interview the first midwives trained and certified by British Medical Institution to assist with the delivery of babies in local villages between 1920-1940. Anne Hugon interviewed 30 of the 500 African Ghanian elder midwives who were trained under the colonized period when she made her trips there in 2008 and 2010.

 
It was fascinating to hear the history of how the British came in to this particular African country to “make birth more civilized and to lower maternal and infant mortality” of Ghanian women and children by way of building 5 medical hospitals which included 2 midwifery hospitals and 1 children’s hospital, as well as implementing a midwifery training program for local African Ghanian women and mothers. In 1920, the Maternal Mortality rate for African Ghanian women was 400 out of every 1000 women (very high, nearly half). The Infant Mortality rate in 1917 was 30 out of every 1000 babies. The British thought the training would teach African Ghanian women skills in literacy, fertility, prenatal care, nutrition and food preparation, birth and delivery, breastfeeding, and postpartum care, which would ultimately prevent such high rates of death amongst the mothers and their babies. Once a woman completed this midwifery training program, she was then certified and stood as a graduate of the program which allowed her to ‘safely’ go into the homes of pregnant village women to educate and assist with common prenatal, birth, and postpartum issues. The late great Mrs. Hutton Mills was the first African Ghanian midwife to graduate from the British Midwifery Training program in 1929.
 
Dr. Anne Hugon’s presentation slide show of her research findings was pretty interesting, and she also mentioned that as of present day, Ghana and the capital city of Accra are currently delivery babies via Cesarean Section. 7 out 10 African Ghanian women in or nearby Accra are delivering their babies via C-Section. This rate is extremely high and allows for greater risk of Maternal Mortality as well as other relation complications.
 
I also found it to be interesting that as part of the “education” the British funded and allowed for a film to be made by using African Ghanian Midwives what the safest way for women to birth was as to prevent infant death. A rare film which is located at a library in Australia entitled ‘Amenu’s Child’ which was made in 1950 and shown in nearby villages of Accra throughout the 1950s and 1960s.
 
My question to you all: Has anyone been to Ghana recently on mission to practice Midwifery or with plans to visit? Has anyone seen this film or heard of it at the very least?
 
The second half of the presentation was guided by local University of Chicago professor, Dr. Melissa Gillian who is a Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Gillian has done extensive research since the 1990s on Teen Pregnancy, Family Planning & Contraception, and Reproductive Health. Her presentation outlined a complex history of the reasons leading to Teen Pregnancy, the rates of teen pregnancy, and the contributing risk factors specifically amongst African American teens on the south side of Chicago. She mentions health, income disparities, unsafe and violent neighborhoods and home life, lack of resources such as transportation, health care, education, and wealth opportunities all being contributing stress factors which lead to teen pregnancy, maternal and infant mortality, and preterm birth rates for African American Women ages 15-35.
 
Dr. Gillian then outlined the factor that the LGBTQ teen community amongst African Americans is growing as is Dating Violence amongst Teens (such as sexual violence and assault).
 
Her solutions were in conjunction with Dr. Amy Schalet’s who makes comparisons between her research in the Netherlands vs. the United States on how to foster healthy sexual education for teens. They included the following 5 solutions: Allowing the teen to build and develop Autonomy; Building and maintaining healthy relationships and what that means; Connecting with parents & caregivers; Recognizing Diversity; and Challenging Disparities. These are all positive ways that teens can have a more comprehensive understanding of sex education. 
 
So with these solutions, Dr. Gillian has decided the best and most effective way to reach teens and to teach them about sex education by getting positive reactions and results in her research and in her local community of the South side of Chicago, she has created several Youth, Digital Media, Sex Education Workshops. From two of her workshops, she has been able to develop a video game that allows for interactive digital story telling covering topics of interest which many south side African American are faced with each day: gang violence, parental loss, incarceration, drug dealing, pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, violence, etc.
 
The name of this video game is ‘Lucidity’ which is available online for free at: luciditygame.com
 
Dr. Gillian has also developed a card game which was born out of the teen workshop, which she is currently writing a curriculum for which can be utilized in 8th grade sex education/homeroom classrooms throughout Chicago Public School system. 
 
When I asked Dr. Gillian about whether or not she had plans to implement her positive strategies in health clinics like Howard Brown Center or PCS clinics like the one in the Austin area of Oak Park, she said she has not gotten that far as to work with clinics on implementing material geared toward teens just yet, however it is something she would like to do in the near future.
 
My question for you all: What are some other agencies or organizations that Dr. Gillian can implement her curriculum and or other tools to decrease teen pregnancy (Nationally or Locally)? Other digital media tools as way to break through? Can social media be interfaced with Dr. Gillian’s work?
 
Hope this update inspires and motivates all my birth worker and womb healers to uplift higher! 
 
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