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Friday, May 1, 2015

Indigenous Mother Has Become Indigemama!

So I haven't updated this blog in a few years. I kind of knew that would happen. Shifts, changes, turns and surprises have happened in my life that brought me to this moment- updating an old blog that I still get emailed for from women like me.

Gratitude to the ancestors for opening doors for me, walking with me, and keeping me inspired through rocky moments.
If you'd like to visit me, I'll be at MY NEW WEBSITE, acting a-fool, telling my truth, and walking my walk.

Hope to see you, friends!


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Matriz y Concha

Creative visualization during vaginal steams. Blossom OC, Huntington Beach.

Vaginal steam blend, left. Womb tea, right.
 As I settle in from my trip to Albuquerque, New Mexico, tormented by ronquera and lingering car-sickness- I can't help but feel alive, refreshed and loved. Teaching self-womb massage, womb oil blending, vaginal steaming, feminine herbal blends and castor-oil packs, to 17 eager participants was beyond fun!

Pouring vaginal steam bath into basin.
I forgot that only a few months ago, I launched my intensive, hoping for students to show- and if they did, that my electricity wouldn't be disconnected in the middle of my PowerPoint. After a short month of job searching, and juggling my business on the side- I realized that the universe would support me if I surrendered to my calling. I just had to wait for the courageous- even desperate moment to take the step. 

Matriz y Concha, first round.
I put together handouts from my private consultations, developed a hands-on, practical curriculum- and vamonos.

"You have to have EVERYTHING figured out. I mean, COME on! These people are paying you MONEY!", my mom encouraged me in her own way.

 Learning self-womb massage. LB, CA
I knew the first session was a test of my 10 years of "just wing-it" style teaching... but I still took notes for future reference, and talked for hours with my amazing business strategist, close friends, and members of my collective.

A few rounds later, my husband and I are still adjusting. Now that I'm able to contribute financially, I'm cool, sassy, and entitled. I don't make 50 percent of the income, but still, as a working mom, I expect him to watch the kids 50 percent of the time, and take them off my hands so I can work. He no-like-it. I'm obligated to play the whole working-mom role everyday. It's a great experience for my children. Akinyemi helps my clients learn about cultured foods, the process of fermentation, and nutrition- he even hands them samples.  I just wish my husband were there to intervene when Akinyemi gets distracted and rides his bike through my office, butt-naked.
He was my warrior, taxi, techie and roadie in ABQ.

Working to integrate yet another identity into my practice, relationship, and daily life has been the biggest struggle for me. I thought it would just fall into place, like everything else had.  I can't predict where this transition will take us, but as my dear friend, Meadow says, "Take one step, and the universe takes a thousand more with you".
Matriz y Concha: Learning Lifelong Self-womb Care. Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Always blessed. "Matriz y Concha: Learning Lifelong Self-womb Care". Abq, NM.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Crab-Cherry-Toothpaste-Tasting Forehead

His crab cherry toothpaste- tasting forehead
Is no match
For His Eyes
Have Curling Lashes
Bouncing back Waves... of Love
Sent through my Gaze
Day-dreaming into him

His lips- Voluptuous
Like his African ancestors'
Forced onto my continent in chains.
2012, he speaks-
His boy lips are FREE

"¡Te quiero, Mami!"
He is my son
The curly-haired
Mixed-blooded Indigenous one
Who I bore through my vagina

Conceived doggy-style
Born in Full-squat
He is the Essence of Passion-
Love between a man with dreadlocks
Below his buttocks
and his Indigenous Queen
Now, an Indigenous Mother

As he lays on my shoulder,
Three and a half years old-
STILL in fetal position
I kiss his Crab cherry toothpaste-tasting forehead
Good night
Licking my lips-
so PROUD I made this.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Time to Get a Job!

My husband is his own boss.  Why can't I be his boss?
En la playa con amigos.

Mondays- Beach.
Tuesdays- Park and Vitamin City.
Wednesdays- Play date at Gloria's.
Thursdays- Park, Library.
Fridays- Farmer's Market.

That's the kids. Then, there's the Cafe, my Husband, Womb Wellness clients, Doula clients, my collective of Indigenous healers, my family, friends, blog, a score of internet programs I'm enrolled in, and social networking sites (how'd that make it on this list?).

My husband and I had a "discussion" (I'm trying to use positive language) about how I need to focus on being more productive.  Trying not to take it personally (one of the Four Agreements), I agreed with him, and now find myself wading in a swamp of I-guess-I'm-disorganized-after-all.

Watching Zumba at our Farmer's Market
Sometimes, my husband is right. But he, and- forgive me for generalizing- most men, don't understand that raising children is the hardest work a human being can partake in.  So, yes, your majesty, I'll contribute more money, so you don't have to miss out on fun things, like building a plumbing system of sand, saltwater, and some pvc pipes... Or riding bikes to the farmer's market, and drive-by sampling freshly cut summer fruit.  It's all play, and no work in parenting!

I tell my clients, "Illness comes from excessiveness": too much stress; too little sleep; too much bitterness; not enough water, etc.  Well, I need to let go of the perfect mom fantasy I have going. I can't stay with them 24/7 and not go crazy, I can't let my husband bring in most of the cash, so I can ferment everything, cook from scratch, homeschool, and be super mom.  Most of all, I can't keep ignoring my husband's need to be around his boys.

There comes a time when a strong mujer must take what her husband says and actually value it.  It's a struggle being in a relationship with a man.  It's easier to take my anger out on male privilege instead of look at the bigger picture.  It's tough to ask myself if I smell the stench of  patriarchy in my kitchen- or whether it's my emotional baggage from internalized oppression.

As generations of colonialism plays Jedi mind tricks on me, and I struggle to figure all of this out, I express gratitude.  Thank you, Sherman, for your diligence. Thank you, Panquetzani, for being a skeptic.  Gracias, niños, for loving your parents unconditionally, while we get our act together.  No matter how life changing a "discussion" is, it's nice to remind myself that we both have our children in mind, that I rock, and my Hubbie is pretty okay, too. 

Visit to the Museum, in the kids' area.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Community Breast

Breastfeeding is taboo in this western culture, so nursing someone else's baby is something many of us have never seen.  In some traditional cultures, wet-nursing is demonstrating sisterhood support, communal work, trust, and bonding.  I always wondered how far my solidarity with other women could go.  Last week, I had the chance to test it out.
Kristina, Juan, and Hush Ke Niya minutes after birth

I met Kristina when she appeared on my Compton doorstep, pregnant, traumatized from her last birth, and anxious for support from a doula.  She was seeing a good friend of mine, who didn't expect any of this, so of course, I agreed to help them.  She was an amazing primal birther, who only needed reassurance and a calming, grounded presence.  Kristina and I became friends, and I had the honor of supporting her next, unassisted home birth.

She trusts me, knows my diet, temperament, and energy because we've been in high-intensity settings together.  So, when she nonchalantly said,

"Juan and I are going for a walk, watch the baby, yeah? You can nurse her if she wakes up", I naturally agreed.

As most babies do when their mothers leave the room, Manahuiya woke up.  Aubrey, a close friend soothed and held her until she cried without relief.

"Should I nurse her?", I asked Aubrey hesitantly.

"Well, yeah, Kristina said yeah...".  Aubrey said as she handed over Manahuiya.

Wet-nursing two month old Manahuiya.
I popped out my boob like the pro I am, and she immediately latched! She was ravenous.

"Aha! Now I understand what Kristina was saying about her shallow latch..." I gently said.

During one of my postpartum visits, after a traditional baño, Kristina and I went over suggestions for shallow latch.  Now, I experienced it, and felt more adequate in providing solutions.  I changed breasts, over to my emptier one, and her latch was great!  I admired her tiny little eyes and beautiful new skin.  I felt a veil being lifted from my face, and saw her in a new light.  She stared up at me with loving eyes, and Aubrey and I giggled.  Nursing a newborn without just giving birth made me feel so powerful.  She was light and tiny as I swayed her left to right.

By the time they got back, she was dozing off at the breast, and mom was thrilled.  I think Juan felt a little awkward, but when I asked him, he said:

"Ugh...it's disgusting! Nah, just kidding, it's cool, dude".

We all laughed and agreed that we can take each other's babies when we need a break.  Whether or not we ever do, it's comforting to know that my baby has a breast when he needs one.

Kristina, nursing her newborn, the other little ones, very interested.

Friday, February 17, 2012

New Skin

Drawing of my belly from my womb journal, while pregnant.
My mother was always ashamed of her flat belly full of stretch marks.  She didn't like me to tug at her loose skin, or lift up her shirt in public.  I thought her whole body was perfect: her huge butt and thighs; tiny waist; delicate shoulders and arms; small, saggy breasts; and big poof of black curls.  Believing my body would have the same fate, I surrendered to stretch marks during my first pregnancy. "You better buy cocoa butter!", my mother warned.  "Maaahh...", I'd dismissively utter.  I didn't think they were anything unusual to prevent.

My first son and I, seven months postpartum.
Everyone was shocked when my body quickly shrank back to it's pre-pregnant state without a trace on my belly.  By month three postpartum, I looked like the old Panquetzani again.  My mother would show off my body at the beach or pool, and women would gather around to see for themselves the stretch-mark free Panquetzani.  I never bragged, changed my style of clothing, or felt superior to other mothers who did have stretch marks.  Nevertheless, I was proud that my body recovered sin chiste.

Pregnancy journal entry, after seeing my stripes.
I was so confident that my second pregnancy would be the same.  I put on the usual amount of shea butter, but by my ninth month, beautiful rays of brown broke through my skin.  Stretch marks! Although I wasn't wishing for them, I felt the same way I felt during menarche, my first period.  Kind of scared, happy, and really excited.  How will I feel about these? Will they get worse, or go away? I loved them, and embraced them. I showed people, wrote about it in my womb journal, and meditated on how I really felt about them.  Will I still love these when I'm thin again? When my husband and I make love, will I still feel sexy?

Now, finally at a year postpartum, they have faded, and shrunk into tiny streaks, tracing where my skin reached it's limit. My tight abs and skin are gone. Wow.  Hello, new wrinkly skin. On my left side, where I carried my fetuses, I can see more stretch marks. I remember massaging my babies, seeing them through my skin, and being one with them.  My sons' pulling at my loose skin, lifting up my shirt to see my belly, and gentle petting of my battle scars, reminds me of how I embarrassed my mom.  Thankfully, I have no shame.  I know they look at me with the flawless eyes of love, as I looked at my mother. "Es que me ves con ojos de amor.", my grandmother says.

Like Mexica warrior men exhibited their calves, showing off their battle scars with short mantles, I proudly wear my stretch marks.  Of course, I don't walk around in tiny shirts, or wear my bikini out of context, but they are a part of my new body. I embrace each longitita and stretch mark as a part of the new me. 
My tiny stretch marks being caressed by Akinyemi

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

On Saving the World

It's fun to visualize all of the ways I could change the face of birth, humanity, and my community- if I just had some money.  Midwifery schools, Women's health centers, farms, eco homesteads, and an outdoor area for us to have a fire and temezcal for ceremonies, all haunt my daydreams. 

Enjoy your little snacks while Daddy's around!
These past few births have reminded me of all of the sacrifices I make to attend women in their birthing and postpartum ceremony.  It's takes practice staying present after leaving my family in our cozy bed at 2am, waking my poor little sleeping baby from his nursing slumber, and knowing that my three year old is having a pizza-fries-movie marathon with Papa.  So it's time to get with the program, set prices, and limit the amount of donation births I attend per year.

It breaks my heart to turn women down, but I have to survive, too.  I have to feed my children, buy gas, clean my home, pay bills, dodge creditors, etc.  My hours of research, countless lectures, programs, and workshops I paid for, all should be sustained by my practice as a birth professional.  Although many of my clients have a difficult time paying for anything out of pocket, I swear, that from here on out, I'm only working with families who are conscious consumers of childbirth services, and appreciate the sacrifice it takes one mother to support another.  So here you are, my justification for laying down the law on innocent fetuses and round-bellied women.

Itzix and I, relaxing after a consultation in our home. Thanks, kids, for being patient!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Birth Art

My first son, and I, still connected via umbilical cord.
  I remember the words of my abuelita as Akinyemi descended from me and I crowned, "Ya estas como tu foto, hija!".  I was in a full squat, with my grandmother, husband, and mother supporting me.  I was astonished at the power of myself- birthing EXACTLY in the same position as my birth art- down to the last detail.  In her natural wisdom, my grandmother always knows what to say, and those words gave me the extra energy I needed to push out my son...Calmly on the outside, with hysterical joy and confusion on the inside.

"Lalo's Birth", Drawing at 28 weeks gestation.

As artistically challenged as I am, I have not quit art therapy.  Birth art serves as evidence of the metaphysical power we have, as women, to materialize thoughts, desires, and goals, simply by fantasizing on paper. Digging deep within ourselves without inhibition or judgment, teaches us about ourselves, and facilitates deep healing required for an easier birth and postpartum experience.

Here is a short guide to Birth Art:

"Arbol de la Vida", by Jess at nine months.
Every day, we are inundated with social expectations and norms we women must abide by.  During labor especially, our identity, sexuality and language are often repressed- either by a hostile environment, or by self-inhibition.  Birth Art helps us move away from decision-making and opens our primal brain and heart.  This helps us transition to the state of mind so vital during labor. 

Anyone can make birth art.  Create birth art to open up the silence kept by linguistic, logical processes. We express thoughts, feelings, concerns, fantasies, and emotions creatively, instead.  Learning more about ourselves, and preparing for our ceremony, is more important than how our art actually looks. 

Belly painting as birth art helps connect with baby and celebrate mother's body.

"My Sister's Placenta", by Tots
You can use paper, canvas, clay, dioramas, belly casts, collages, paint, body art, sand, recycled items- anything you feel comfortable using to express yourself.  If you’re not an artist by trade, you’ll be surprised at how art can help heal your emotional stresses during pregnancy and postpartum.

Birth art after childbirth helps support and integrate us into parenthood. Traumatic births kept in silence will be examined and released for more clarity and management strategies.  Pride, anxiety, and other feelings and inner stresses that motherhood may bring about are proudly displayed as art, helping parents cope- rather than hide or feel ashamed about our emotions. 

You can get creative with a fresh placenta print.  The whole family can participate.

Birth art Prompts:

1. Tlazolteotl has come to take your filth, so that you may have a smooth, pure delivery. What does she take with her? How do you feel afterward?  How does baby feel?

2.  Create your ideal birth. Fantasize on paper- no matter how outrageous.  Include details like scents, what you are wearing and thinking, who is with you, backround noises, etc.

3.  Role reversal: Imagine you are your fetus. What does your world look, feel and sound like from inside your womb.  What flavors do you experience? Who's voices do you recognize, and what do they say?  What type of connection do you have with your mother? You can use icons, symbols, colors, words, phrases, etc. 

Blessings on your journey!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Nitty Gritty Postpartum Tips for Fathers and Co-Parents

Thinks he has it all figured out...

Many couples separate during the tribulations of new parenthood, the majority occurring in the first year postpartum.  Dads and other Co-parents, here are some helpful tips that will help you get along.  This is my first attempt at making my blog male-friendly.

  • If mom complains about breastfeeding, don't respond "Well at least you don't have to pay the bills!" or, "Just let me give him a bottle".
Instead:  Ask mom how you can make it easier.  If she doesn't know, make her tea, bring her water, help her latch and position baby or simply sit next to or look into her and baby's eyes while they nurse. Demonstrate appreciation. She is, after all, providing the ultimate sustenance to your child.

  • Don't ask for sex, let her initiate the sex talk.
Instead: Find creative ways to be intimate.  Reduce her stress, help her regulate it, and she'll be interested in sex sooner.

    •  If she makes a mess, don't complain about how messy she is, or how she has a problem with cleanliness.
    Instead:  Tell her she must be having difficulty caring for herself and the baby and you will do your part by cleaning so they can have a comfortable environment.  Trust that she will do more as she adjusts.

    • If baby is having a crying spell, and mom is stressed out, it's up to you to be the calm one.  Refrain from comments like "I told you those greens were going to give the baby gas", or my mom did it alone and she survived".
    Instead:  Allow the baby to cry and release stress, in your calm embrace, away from mom's earshot.

    • If she asks you not to touch her, don't comment on hormones or postpartum depression.  
    Instead: Understand that having a baby latched to you 24/7 can be draining.  A new mom might feel her identity has been taken away overnight.  All she needs is some time with herself.  Offer to take the baby for a walk around the block.

    • If your  mother comes over and makes comments on parenting, STAY MUTUAL.
    •  Give her a massage and backrub when she looks tense.  Try not to make a move, though.
    • If she asks you to cook a meal because she needs a break, cheerfully do so.  Don't tell her you're too tired to clean up the mess and bring back fast food.
    •  If at any point, she loses it, stay calm.  If she needs professional assistance, bring it up with love and compassion.  Remind her you love her unconditionally, and that you will support her during this time of growth. 
      First few days can be tough for the whole family.

      Wednesday, November 2, 2011

      Baby's First KRS-ONE Show

      Ear protection is important!
      As an artist, organizer, and activist, it has been difficult to make all of those years of work worth something in the realm of motherhood.  As a new mother, I was cursed with inhibitions and biases of appropriate parenting, behavior as a mother, and even what to wear.  Finally, I'm okay with cursing now and then, staying out late as a family, dressing like a "MILF", and doing things that make me happy.  I have found the delicate balance of sacrificing without losing myself. 

      So, taking eight month old Itzix to a big Hip-Hop concert, more than anything, was a test.  "Will they allow him in with me?", "Will they even notice him?", "Will he be happy?", "I hope I can nurse in the green room!".

      My husband, checking bass levels at sound check.
      After sound check, Sherm and I walked down the street for pizza.  Upon returning, we were rejected at the door.  I listened to my husband's performance through the dense walls of the Key Club while I sat in our truck with Itzix.  My cue came, and a friend came out to watch the baby, allowing me to perform our song together.

      Waiting for pizza.
      On the way back to my baby, every other person stopped me, congratulating us, saluting our performance, and thanking me.  I haven't done this in too long, I thought to myself.  The high was so familiar, but instead of sticking around, networking, I  hurried back to my baby, who was in the car with Gabby. 
      Hip Hop Son Jarocho at the Key Club.

      Sherman followed soon behind, and took over babysitting.  I headed back into the club to get a piece of the action. More action than I wanted.  In passing, some nasty drunk dude thrusted his pelvis into my ass.  I turned around to dog him and he shrugged.  I gave another dirty look, looked at his friends, and everyone pretended not to notice.  My bandmates waved me over and I explained what happened.

      "Should we kick his ass?", I didn't know how else to handle it.  I resisted my first instinct to beat him, but why?

      "HELL yeah, let's GO! Let's kick his ass! Fuck him! Let's fuck him up, dude!", Pavis shouted underneath KRS.

      Sounded like a fail-proof plan.  Before leading the way, the music stopped, and while all was quiet, I accidentally shouted

      "-And then I'll break his glasses!".

      People turned, stared, and searched for the nearest guy with glasses.
      Pavis and Juan pretended not to know me, and gave me the 'abort mission' face.
      The Hip Hop legend began to talk about Martin Luther King, Jr, and I wondered whether this was a sign that I should practice nonviolence.

      "But I wasn't RAISED to turn the other cheek".  I told myself.  I have to do something for all of the times I've done nothing, for the women who are silent, and for this pervert's future victims.
      I can't start a fight with my baby waiting for me in the car to nurse, I tell myself.

      I decided to leave- pissed as hell.  On my way out,  I instinctively stopped, turned around at the security guard, and said:

      "Excuse me, I would like to report a sexual battery".

      He referred me to the head of security, a 7-foot meatie baldie, chatting it up with some older women.  He made me wait until he finished his meaningless conversation.  His lady friends paused, looked me up and down, with faces of utter disgust, when I told him:

      "I was sexually assaulted in your club and need you to escort out, the man who did it".

      I didn't file a police report on his white perv-ass, because I didn't want to deal with cops, you know the old saying, "con el diablo, no se habla".

      Itzix and I, playing in the car, enjoying the show.

      Sherman and I watched the cops get there, laughed and pointed at them from our car window.  We kind-heartedly mocked KRS-1, and when he'd scream, "STOP!", to his DJ, we'd almost cry laughing.  "Uh-oh, the Booty Bandit got KRS", we joked.  "It's not a concert without the Booty Bandit", we fooled.  Not the most gentle words after a sexual battery (or "booty bandit attack"), but sometimes, laughter is the best medicine.

      At this point, all of my notions of romance crumbled.  Here we were, in our family vehicle- VIP parking, basking in the breezy moonlight- live revolutionary Hip-Hop, windows down, car doors open, and our happy little Itzix enjoying having us to himself. I didn't care that other moms have babysitters, or baby bottles.  I didn't care about the way the club rejected me and my baby, or about the Booty Bandit, and I didn't care what people thought about me bringing my baby to a Hip Hop concert.  The three of us were safe, together, and happy.

                                             Our Performance at the Key Club, opening for KRS-1.

      Saturday, October 1, 2011

      Let's Hear Each Other's Voices

      I haven't written in forever.  An experience with the state temporarily crippled my fingers, but arthritic pain transformed into fire and now I have much to say.  One- take control of your life; two- anything you do may be illegal and you might be threatened, coerced, or punished for it; and three- in the words of my husband, "It's time that we wake the fuck up and take our freedom".

      Beautiful to watch father and son.
      How do we do that?  As mothers, we have so much to lose- our children would perish without us, or be scarred for life.  We are nurturers and protectors- how can we put ourselves on the frontlines of what is happening today?  Well, in case you haven't noticed, we've been on the battle front since 1519, and in 2011, we remain here.

      Take Juana Villegas, who was wrongfully pulled over after a prenatal visit to her Doctor and unjustly arrested without explanation, leaving her three crying children in the car.  Later, she is forced to give birth shackled, hands and feet, and to top it off, she was immediately separated from her baby.  We are not all born equal if we are denied the nutrient and antibody rich first colostrum, baby's first food and building block for health. We do not have equal rights if our birthing mother is alone, shackled, pleading for one hand to be let free while in labor.  And when we are separated from our babies right away, not knowing if she is dead or alive, in a nursery or with her father, every human right has been barbarically violated.

      We, indigenous women, keepers of the earth, face an intricate legal system, well organized, and strategically placed to disenfranchise us, intimidate us and to maintain the delicate balance where we live just within the margins.

      The case of Nancy Jacinto, a young woman on trial, facing first degree murder and the death penalty, is another example.  After the accidental drowning of her two year old son, she was immediately imprisoned.  Pregnant and perpetually famished, she asked for more food.  They denied her.  She wrote letters home about her hardships, injustices in prison, and prison guards tore them, breaking her motivation to advocate for herself.  Like Villegas, and too many others, she was forced to give birth to her baby in shackles.  The same routine: separation; isolation; and this time, foster care was used. Jacinto's children had capable, willing relatives who cared for them often in the past, but instead, the family unit was dismembered. These tactics are developed to destroy the family unit, traumatizing our babies and remaining children, birthing them into the world with violence and subservience, in hopes that they will always be submissive and hopeless.

      It used to be difficult to fathom that I could be arrested for an infraction and give birth shackled, have my family unit destroyed and be in a position where there is nothing anyone can do about it- it's all legal.  It sounds too much like 1492, 1519, Colombus and Cortez's European invasion tactics.

      I will never forget seeing hospital shackling first hand.  A female sheriff at a local Los Angeles hospital, twiddling gray, metal chains in her hands stood outside the imprisoned mother's door, bracing herself.  I felt the woman in the hospital room begging me to enter- pleading for anyone to hold her, tell her she's doing beautifully, that she is a goddess, the gatekeeper of humanity.  My client was in the next room, I couldn't doula them both, but I could not ignore the situation.  When the viking walked out of the hospital room, I stopped her.

      "Did you just shackle the woman giving birth in there?" I asked, concernedly.

      "Yes, ma'am, we do it to all the women in here it's just protocol", she responded with sincerity.

      "Well, how do you FEEL about that?", the pseudo-psychologist in me kicked in.  Her confidence crumpled, her pale face heated red.

      "Well-uh-it's...It's my JOB", she played the confident cop role, but clearly, she is accustomed to being belittled.

      I wanted her to ask herself the question she should have before blindly following orders.

      "Yes, but how do you FEEL about it, don't you think it's wrong?  I mean, where is she going to go? What can she do?", I asked without making a scene, I didn't want to get kicked out.

      "Well, it's my job, and you know what she's- she's not in there for doing something good, these people- she- she probably did something violent- she did SOMETHING to get in there--" she was stuttering and rambling.

      "Well, can't you refuse? You feel bad about it, you have feelings, you don't HAVE to do that..." I tried explaining to her stiff, blinking surface.  It was too much emotion for her, she broke a sweat and said,

      "You know what- I don't have to talk to you- I'm not going to talk to you. Thank you." she turned her back and kicked her heels away.
      "THANK YOU", she said again to silence me.

      We are on the front lines.  Our children born disenfranchised, without an equal opportunity.  If we choose to raise them outside the margins, we wait for the folks in suits to coerce us into staying in line.  If there is an accident that our family may never recover from, rather than being supported, they seize the opportunity to kick us while we are at our lowest, bewildered that there is still worse that can happen.

      We can't fix the system, it's not broken.  It is the systematic suppression of creating children who reach their full potential.  It's A 500 year old, well-organized campaign, followed by legalistic procedures, and financed by the occupying elite.  We risk our families living our life style, being who we are, and I risk that the wrong people may read this, writing to you.  But as my father always said about my mother, "I'm damned if I do, damned if I don't". 

      Speak. Sing. Write. Laugh. Scream. We need each other's voices.

      Friday, July 22, 2011

      Hood Tendencies Part 1

      Daddy's girl.
      One of my earliest memories of Echo Park is throwing up a gang sign to a guy turning the corner in his car.  My proud Father thought it was hilarious, but asked me to stop.  Yelling, my mom warned me that we could all be shot and killed if the wrong person had seen that.  I was a little scared, but knowing folks with fun nicknames like Cricket, Cowboy, and Caveman made gang-life seem imaginary and harmless to four year old Panquetzani.  People get shot, abused, pregnant, imprisoned, stuck on drugs, and I lost friends.  The juvenile, romantic view of gang life fades away and reality sets in.

      I love my community, but I am working toward a different lifestyle.  Despite this, the effects of growing up in an urban, post-colonial setting haunt the core of who I am, making 'hood tendencies my friendly charm but also my enemy.

      My 'Hood moment yesterday showed me just how much harder I need to work at deconstructing and decolonizing myself in order to have healthy communication with the family I love so much.  The victim: my 21 year old, annoying brother, who likes to spend weekends free loading at my house, verbally and emotionally abusing my kids, expecting me to cater to him like he's in a 5-star hotel.  He accuses me of slavery when I ask him to contribute- but that's not all.

      Scenario: We're at my mom's house. I'm making sandwiches for everyone, while my baby cries.  My brother finally picks him up (after I asked him several times), holding him in front of the television.  Iztix is perched on his leg, being supported by one hand, because the remote control is in the other.
      "Tots, hold him right, please.  That's not the way you hold a baby", I tell him.  He's good at blocking people out, and poor Itzix continues crying.

      Exacerbated, I snatch Itzix and verbally attack his half-ass attempt to contribute.  He tells me to shut the fuck up, and I ask him to tell me why he's angry.  "You're a spoiled little bitch!", he mouths.  In disbelief and disappointment, I silently pack some food, my stuff, my baby, and head to my car.  Stubbornly, he picks at me, and I lose it.  I get tunnel vision and see myself choking him out- I stop myself, yelling at his face instead.  "Look at how you're acting, Oh my god!", he holds up his phone and I snatch it from his hands.  Breaking it in half, I throw one half outside the house, the other above my head as I walk away.  He keeps following me, mouthing sarcastic remarks like "Oh, where's your non-violent parenting class, now, huh?".  In some order, I screamed back "You're an asshole!  Get the fuck away from my car" and "Don't come to Long Beach!".

      I can't remember the last time I went this crazy!  I cried afterward, giggled a little, called my husband, and felt better.  I plan on writing a letter to my brother, who was on his all too familiar un-medicated bipolar low.  Violence is everywhere, but it shouldn't be used where non-violent communication can be productive.  I want to have a healthy relationship with all of my family members, and provide the healthy model for my children that I lacked.  Echo Parque, you were good to me...but DANG...I have to be good to me now.

      1990, Echo Park. Playing with our pit-bull puppies in matching LA Raiders outfits.

      Friday, July 8, 2011

      Honoring Baby's Wisdom

      As I held four month old Itzix in my arms, from the living room on my way to the bedroom, he stared about intently.  Passing by the bathroom, he gazed in through the open door, flailing his arms and legs.  Recognizing his vocalization as an "I want that, Mama!", I immediately and instinctively stopped in my tracks, observing my surroundings for what he wanted.

      Embracing my four month old, in his birthday suit.
      Keeping his eyes on the bathroom, he continued waving and vocalizing.  "Oh! Quieres hacer pipi en la potty?" I delightedly squatted him over, and he released his squirmy tension with a stream of urine.  I shake him off gently, and as I place him back on my chest, I take a moment to honor his innate ability to communicate his needs to me clearly.  Recognizing the bathroom as the place of elimination is a huge milestone in infant pottying.  Naturally, I am proud, and we celebrate.

      "¡Te gusta hacer pipi en el baño! ¿ve'da', Itzix? SI, di que si...", I playfully sing.  Every mother has attunement to her baby, by natural law.  Moments of sharing wisdom and affection during my hectic days are the golden moments of our short time together as mama and baby.

      Wednesday, July 6, 2011

      Eczema= Bad Mom

      Investigating our emotions through funny faces.

      Akinyemi's last outbreak of eczema was at two months old.  Since then, we have been on a strict dairy, egg, red meat, and shellfish- free diet (pork has never been in our diet for other health concerns).  He has balanced meals, takes Vitamins, Supplements, Superfoods, gets plenty of Sun, and avoids sugar, refined carbs, processed, or junk foods.
      A healthy snack! Home made paleta: chia, piña, orange, lemon, peppermint.

      Sometimes I forget how much of an impact our emotional/psychological health makes in our daily lives.  Since the birth of my second son, I haven't made enough time to sit with my son, and explain how our roles are all changing, how our lives have been enriched, and how my lack of time for him has nothing to do with how much I love him.

      The worst part (although still mild), his thumb.

      His little scratchy skin is his way of reminding me not to snap, not to scream, or not to give him that extra little squeeze or shove.  He's two and a half and deserves nothing but empathy, affection, and protection.  It's a physical reminder for my absent-mindedness and neglect to find sufficient methods of resolving difficult situations and feelings he has never encountered. 

      So what am I going to do? We'll start by making books with him, have some puppet shows, and help him regulate and express emotions his emotions through art.   My family is always supportive, and I've slowed down our days, so I have time to whole-heartedly exhibit empathy.

      Essential oil bath before bed.
      He hasn't complained at all about his eczema, but it's slowly spreading.  I apply patchouli essential oil to his thumb, where it's the worst, rub him down with shea butter, and give him relaxing herbal/essential oil baths before bed.  

      On the nutritive side, he's continuing his probiotics, and he was on an immune booster for ten days.  Since he hates his Omega supplement by the spoon, I am searching for a gummy one, with cod liver oil.  I drizzle a little coconut oil on his food for the medium chain fatty acids (great for skin), and sometimes spread a tad on his skin.

      His diet, when I am in complete control of it, is alkaline, and we take liquid chlorophyll.  Lately, he's been nursing more, and only wants to eat fruit.  I figure it's okay, some of the time, since his food preferences change so often.  At night he'll have his tesito: manzanilla; canela; yerba buena; or whatever I'm having.

      Ultimately, my job is to help Akinyemi regulate his stress, a common trigger, and nurture him in every possible way.  Every mom wants optimal conditions for her children.  "We do the best with what we have", is what many moms utter.  Right now, I have a rashy two and a half year old who wants my undivided attention, a holistic medicine cabinet, and mother's intuition.