The last few months have been busy, life-altering, messy, accident filled, and a bunch of other boring and semi-exciting things. For instance, I poked myself in the eye one night in April and ended up with a corneal abrasion. And have since had two more abrasions on the same eye...a bigger one. It is now healed and my optometrist says that there's always a chance for more recurrences. Yay. But, I keep...

In his last lesson with his first, beloved swim instructor, Miss Jennifer, I watched my 10 year old son swim the length of a 14/15 ft pool..free style and backstroke. "My baby!"

I graduated from college...finally. Sociology proves to be a good match for a birth worker.

I'm still working on certification requirements as a doula and childbirth educator. I have begun my midwifery apprenticeship with a lovely local midwife and am working on the academic modules for which Mercy In Action so graciously awarded me a scholarship. Some of the books I need are on loan from that lovely midwife who's going to train me. Yet, I need more and funds are, well, non-existent. You see, becoming a midwife is not cheap. Even when you do the self study/apprenticeship route, there are still books, supplies, and fees for certification and license that are needed; all of which can easily add up to a few thousand dollars. I also need to keep my car in working order because birth waits for no one and my car needs some work, post haste. So, if the spirit moves you, purchase something from my Etsy shop--Gilded Orchid--from which all proceeds go towards my student midwife fund.

More importantly, Memphis needs a Black midwife. Yeah, that Memphis. The one with a predominantly Black population and no Black midwife. I'm pretty sure I've mentioned this before but it's been a while since I've been in this space. Right now, it appears that I'm the only Black woman in the city in pursuit of becoming a Certified Professional Midwife. If I'm wrong, please show yourself...I could use the camaraderie. 

This passion for birth has been with me since childhood and the desire is stronger knowing the state of birth among women of color. Back to the books...

me at 35
Yesterday I turned 35. I am halfway through my third life. I am checking a new box...that 35 to whatever age range on whatever form I'm filling out on any given day. What does it mean? My best friend and I often joke about not "feeling" our age. We don't know what it's supposed to mean to be this age. Yet, we know that we define ourselves and not our ages. For me, 35 means complete immersion in my passion work, deepening the connection with my husband and son, and, hopefully, more pleasure reading. The most profound thing it means is no longer glorifying busyness. I will no longer be bound by and in praise of the “full plate.” I will finally finish my undergraduate degree in the spring. From there, I will begin midwifery training. My spare time will be just that...time spared for engaging in activities that are not time constrained or simply doing nothing beyond meditating and relaxing.

When I set my intentions for 2013, quite ceremoniously among an extraordinary group of women I'm fortunate to be associated with, I stated that I release fear. Today, I receive confidence. Actually, I felt it spilling forth several days ago. It's a wonderful feeling to truly embrace that characteristic. This is not the loud certainty of my twenties but, a quiet self-assuredness that I never knew possible.

I could probably go on and sound obnoxious and as though I'm trying to make some profound statement on life. This is just some ruminations on my 35th birthday. I wish everyone a healthy and prosperous 2013. Be well.  

For my entire life I've been drawn to birth work. As a kid, I wanted to be an OB/GYN like Cliff Huxtable. I have an aunt who was an RN in labor & delivery and neonatal and she'd let me borrow her massive maternity nursing textbooks. I watched the shows on cable networks about anything medical but especially those about childbirth. I fantasized of being some twelve year old baby delivering genius. 

Life continued to happen. I got to college and decided that I didn't want to spend the rest of my life in school so, I thought I'd become a teacher and writer (my other passion). Then one day the financial rug was snatched from under me and I had to leave school. I walked in a funk for a decade because of it but I had a baby, got married, and just existed. Two years ago, I was able to resume my college career. Actually, I started from scratch but that's another story for another day. Today, I'm two semesters shy of completing my degree and had plans to pursue an Master's in Library Science but my passion called again. 

I don't recall what I was searching for on Google last December but I stumbled upon something about doulas. I know, what is a "doula"? Doula (doo-la) is a greek term meaning "female servant". The purpose is to provide constant support and comfort to women during labor but it has been extended to the entire childbearing year through education and planning. That was a lightbulb moment for me. I instantly began what turned into weeks of research on the work of doulas and training. Although certification is not necessary, many practitioners are opting to gain it as it adds a layer of legitimacy to the trade. 

I eventually decided to train through Birth Arts International distance program for doula, childbirth educator, and breastfeeding educator. I jazz with their woman-centered, holistic approach. These are all still in process as I continue with my degree coursework and everything else in my life. It has been one of the most solid decisions I've ever made. It just makes sense. I'm even leaning heavily towards midwifery school after completing my degree and taking a little time off from school. In the meantime, I'm trying to build a doula practice in Memphis, TN. I've made some great connections with other local doulas and we've formed a network to make what we do more visible. Some cities are saturated with birth workers and Memphis is just getting acquainted with us. The lone local independent childbirth educator, Sarah Stockwell, has been so generous with her wealth of knowledge and letting me observe her classes for my certification requirements. Everything is falling into place quite nicely.

So, stay tuned for mini updates on my journey as I finally heed the call to birth work. And if you're in Memphis and want a doula, check me out here: www.zoleka.com.
My son, Zion, is a nine year old vegetarian. I'm sure I've mentioned this a time or two before now. I'm a pescetarian (fish eater) and am pretty much limited to salmon. Whenever this comes up in light conversation with other Black folks who are of the same socioeconomic status as my family---poor, let's just be real and clear about that---I always get some of the lamest responses...
"My baby can't be a vegetarian. She's gotta have some McDonald's."
"My kids would go crazy if all I gave them were vegetables."
"Isn't your son always hungry eating only vegetables?!"

First of all, this is not a ploy to convert everyone to vegetarianism. Second, he has never wanted meat and I went with it. Now back to my point...

I have spoken with numerous parents who proclaim the hell their TODDLERS will raise if they even attempt to change their diet to healthier options instead of the fast food to which they're addicted. Really?! Your child's future and longevity is not worth the tantrum they may or may not throw today? I hate to sound all preachy but Black folks have to get it together. We have to care that we disproportionately represent the obese population and that obesity often causes and/or exacerbates other health issues such as cancers and diabetes. 

I know that those are words that we've all heard ad nauseam but the problem is too grave to stop repeating them. With our children is where we can make the most effective change so that this stops being such a pervasive issue. If we never give them the crap some of us think they can't live without, they'll never acquire a taste for it. We have to get back into our kitchens and cook real food. And what we do cook, we have to do so properly meaning not overcooking and over seasoning it. As for the parents, the adults, it's never too late to change how and what you eat. Don't wait until a doctor says "it's your diet or your life" to do so. And please know that I'm not coming at you as some "skinny bitch" who has everything together herself. I know what it's like to kill myself softly with food but my son doesn't and hopefully never will. I don't want him to know my struggles with diet and obesity. I no longer want that to be my story and it would be a short one at that. I choose longevity. I want to live.

*drops mic*
Mahogany Monday is a weekly meme hosted by The Mahogany Way.
The scientist doing a lab on the water cycle.
Mahogany Monday is a weekly meme hosted by The Mahogany Way.
My little yogi doing tree pose.
Mahogany Monday is a weekly meme hosted at The Mahogany Way.

I thought I'd show off some more of the kid's photography. I'm really trying to nurture his budding talent...
Oh yeah, please don't steal my eight year old's pics. Thanks, MOM!
I was trollin' for handmade on etsy and this is what I added to the wish list..
Minxshop's Crown of Love VI - Black feathered headpiece...it's just fierce.

DownRight Country's Summer Breeze... there's something whimsical yet dark about this painting that i adore.

Shagbag's dragonfly jade cuff...just lovely.

Fresh Vintage Love's vintage orange weekender and The Habits of Rabbits's vintage avocado weekender... so these are my latest obsession. and i love how some etsy artisans are upcycling these vintage carry on bags by stenciling cool designs onto them.
I'm a pretty active member of a local natural hair group in town and whenever new people join, I seem to be the one they talk with most. Why? Because I'm the one preaching the gospel of "keep it simple". I think my fifteen years at this really lends itself to that notion. I've avoided getting caught up in all the hot products of the moment because I managed for so many years without them. And, since I'm always being asked: "What do you use?" and get looks of disbelief when I say: "only shampoo, conditioner, and shea or mango butter," I think I'm getting something right.

I've explained to others time and again that all of those other products on the market for natural hair are about manipulating the curl pattern. Now, I know that we like to have more length or bigger hair and this can be achieved without slathering purple minty products laden with mineral oil in our hair. I have a good friend who loves to remind everyone that mineral oil is a by-product of crude oil. Yes, the same oil used to produce gasoline for your car. It just sits on the surface doing nothing for your hair in actuality. Two strand twist outs or braid outs can help you "stretch" your hair. 

We have got to stop overwhelming ourselves and others with these arsenals of products. So many of us will find it's just not necessary to use all of that stuff. The only thing I might add to my products (occasionally) are essential oils. They're great for making the hair fragrant and addressing any hair and scalp issues such as dandruff or hair loss. 

Let's remember to pamper ourselves internally as much as we do externally. Nutrient rich food, water, and rest are essential to healthy hair just like the rest of the body. So spend your extra money at the farmers market or a yoga class (yes, I'm biased to those two). As for our hair externally, we should aim for clean and moisturized. Simple. 
Organix coconut milk shampoo and conditioner, shea butter, Denman D4 brush