What it is really like being a Black girl and why everyone needs to leave Lil Kim alone.

I remember the first time that I didn’t want to be black anymore.

I must have been about 6 years old. I was at a friends house for a sleepover, yes my white friend–I was the only black girl in my kindergarden class. Her mom had just taken her hair out of a braid and it was long and flowing liked in the commercials I saw on TV and it look beautiful as she was running around. I remember feeling, I wish I had hair like that. My hair was always in braids. Always. When you’re hair is down to your ass, it is just easier to manage that way, so thats the way my mom kept it. I asked my friends mom to take my hair out of braids too. I just wanted to be like her. I wanted to be free. She asked me if i normally take my braids out, and i lied replying with a yes. After she took my hair out, and it came out puffy and fabulous as most old braid outs do when you don’t take them out properly. But, it didn’t make me feel beautiful. My friends mother laughed at how “big and fluffy” it was and they– my friend, her mom and her little sister–proceeded to pet my head until they were satisfied.

When I got home, my mom braided my hair again, and I never asked to have my hair out again. I didn’t like feeling different. When I was 9 years old and we went to go visit my mothers side of the family in Florida, my aunt snuck me off and took me to a hair salon.

“Hey Gabby, do you want to get your hair straightened?”

This was the day I discovered relaxer. The magical cream that made my hair long and silky like everyone else. My mother was pretty mad, because she had no idea we were going but she has always been lenient when it comes to me and making my own choices so she didn’t make a big deal of it. I wish she did. I wish she told me what it was going to do to my curls, I wish someone told me I was beautiful just the way I was. I wanted it because then, with relaxed hair, I could have my hair out and flowing in the wind just like my friend and I would fit in.

I didn’t.

When I walked the streets, with my long flowing hair, I would get stares and asked “Is that her real hair?” people would ask. “Yes, it is.” my mother would say. “Wow, it’s beautiful!” they would reply. my mother would reply. I never understood why people would always ask that. Why was it impossible for my hair to be beautiful? Why were they always so shocked?

As I got into middle school, and I started developing sexual attraction to humans, I really began focusing on beauty. So, I looked to the magazines, and TV for inspirations. Which, I also wish someone told me not to do. Even though the 90’s had many black icons, and the 00’s had their share of inspirational people of colour. I still found myself drawn to the european look. Even though I LOVED Scary spice, I always said that baby spice was my favourite. The hatred for my skin tone grew and grew as I got older. By the time I was in high school, I would literally hide from the sun out of fear of getting too dark. All my friends would be laying on the beach, trying to get a tan and I would be under and umbrella. They wanted to be “black like me”.  I wanted to be white like them, so I never left the house without my green contacts (well, not always cause I sucked at putting those bitches in) my hair straightened with my extensions in and some cover up that did not match my skin tone at all.

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I had a boy friend in high school and I realize now, what I thought was love, was simply attachment. He was just one of the first guys to give me the attention I was fighting so hard to get. He made me feel special and beautiful and that is what I loved, how he made me feel because before that, I didn’t feel special, or beautiful. So when he broke up with me, my entire existence crumpled beneath my feet and I begged for him to stay with me. He left me because he was going through changes and I was too “co-dependant”. I didn’t understand it at the time all I knew was that “I needed him”.  He did me an amazing favour by leaving me. It forced me to get back to myself and what I really needed.

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What I really needed, was to find myself. My black, beautiful, magical self.

I’m not sure I ever would have changed had my best friend aka sister Ray didn’t tell me one day in class “you should just wear your hair natural”. She probably told me a 100 times but that summer, I did it.

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I did it and I felt fucking fabulous.

I didn’t have the courage back then to do a big chop, so I chose to transition. So no, my hair looked nothing like it did now. And, I still questioned my beauty consistently.

BUT, I felt lighter. Suddenly the pressure to fit in and look like my friends was fading.

I was happy. I was happy with what I was given for the first time in 17 years.

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SO, what does all of this have to do with Lil Kim?

EVERYTHING.

As stated in an article on Daily Beast:

We are witnessing Kim’s transformation into someone less-black and more desirable. She’s admitted to not feeling “pretty enough.” She’s reflected on having lovers cheat on her with women who were more “European looking.” We’re literally watching her attempt to create a new reality for herself.

I understand her pain. I understand why she changed her appearance. I probably would have continued down the same path had I not been blessed with an angel of a best friend telling me that it was time to embrace who I was. I understand her and I know I am not the only one who has felt the pressures of white america. To all the people shaming her for her choices, you are part of the problem. Her whole life she has struggled to see herself as beautiful and so she did what she felt she needed to do with HER body to feel beautiful. Was she beautiful before she made all her changes? Yes, she was gorgeous. Is she still beautiful now? YES. She is a human being and an artist, that alone makes her beautiful.

Instead of giving her shit and telling her she is ugly, and continuing to try and destroy her self esteem wake up and realize that she is just another black woman trying to feel beautiful in a world that is constantly telling us we are the opposite. She is just trying to love herself and that is a battle I understand far too well.

 

That one thing no one wants to talk about after having a baby

There are a whole bunch of prenatal classes that are created to prepare you for the birthing process. To help your mind and body get ready for the intense pain that is coming but, not what follows. No, I’m not talking about mommy and baby yoga classes that I’m excited to start next week. I’m talking about the classes and support groups to help the new mothers going through postpartum mood disorders. It somehow gets swept under the rug. If you look up postpartum you will see a plethora of posts about how to get your body back, how to make padsicles and fast track the healing process but, almost nothing is found on how to fast track the mental healing process. Leaving us new mothers with to grin and bare the anxiety when we are too scared to speak up. I was given all kinds of tips, tricks and advice for the birthing process and taking care of my new born, but no one came with advice on how to take care of myself and my mind. No one prepared me for the mental after math, no one warned me that I might suffer from depression, body dysmorphia anxiety and intense mood swings.

Postpartum depression and anxiety are beyond a doubt a real issue. An issue I didn’t realize was actually affecting me. Until recently when I looked in the mirror and didn’t hate what I saw and how I felt about mothering stopped feeling like a task and more of a choice. Depression and other mental illnesses are still a taboo in our society. Only once things have reached an extreme level does the severity of the issue get vocalized. Most people don’t want to deal with the person who is showing symptoms of depression because it’s uncomfortable.  When I first tried to speak out about how I was feeling I would be told “It will get better, just stay positive”. I heard it so often that I stopped vocalizing my emotions. Instead, I kept it in because that was my problem, I didn’t see any positives.

I can’t speak for all mothers, but I can speak on my own experience. Damn, is it ever hard to take care of your child when you’re not having that whimsical mommy bliss that you see on TV or read about in magazines. Instead, everything annoys you. You feel resentment, disconnection, confusion and uncontrollable sadness. You feel that you should be handling new motherhood better than this and worst of all that your baby deserves better. Its challenging because you don’t actually know how long it will last. Studies say that 1 in 10 women suffer from a postpartum mood disorder. I am not ashamed to say I was one of them. I am 7 months postpartum and finally starting to feel like myself again. I am exercising, eating well, taking my vitamins and I am feeling like a queen again. I am trying to find my passions and balance everything out. I want that whimsical mommy bliss, and I question if it is even real or, just like romantic relationships motherhood is dramatized on television for our entertainment.

Freelance writer, Dara Mathis worded it beautifully on one of my favourite blogs Baby&Blog when she said:

I also believe that motherhood is wrestling. The state of motherhood is centered on the child in the womb; but the raw, sloughing work of *mothering* is an evolving effort made over time. Children are born. But mothers must make and remake and remake themselves. The shifting of women into mothers rarely happens without constant internal dialogue about who we are to ourselves once we become “mommy” to others. It’s a fallacy to believe that mothers of (young) children should slide seamlessly into the role when we have lived with our bodies and minds longer than we have lived with our children.

Why should we be expected to automatically transform into these perfect, baking, craft making, mini van driving mothers?  When not too long ago you were living for just yourself and embracing the spontaneity of childlessness. I still struggle accepting that my life is no longer able to be as it once was before. There are so many misconceptions to postpartum that it is bizarre that this postpartum mental struggle isn’t spoken about more openly. If i feel this way, and I have read about other women feeling this way, there has to be a whole community of us questioning and wondering how the f#$* we are going to manage this new lifestyle.

So, to all expecting mothers and new mothers reading this, please know you are not alone.
Know that you are powerful beyond belief.
You are a super human being that just brought new life into this world and that what you you feel is normal for new mothers.
Please know that the questions you have, we have all had them.
Please know that you are not alone and the fear you feel will fade.
There are people that can help you.
There are people who are willing to listen.
You will get better at this, and most importantly YOU ARE NOT A HORRIBLE MOTHER.

 

Disclaimer: ANY new mothers, mothers to be who need someone to speak to, please do not hesitate to contact me. I am an open book and I would love to talk and share my experiences.

 

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Guatemama: Living in Antigua with a 7 month old.

Life in Antigua:

I can’t believe I have been living in Antigua for 2 months now. The time has gone by so quickly.

Like, really quickly…maybe even too quickly?

It is probably because its been an eventful roller coaster trying to settle in and get used to my new unique living situation. As of right now, I could not be happier with the environment I am in. As they say, time flies when you’re having fun. Which is crazy because I haven’t even seen a 1/4 of what Guatemala has to offer yet. These two months have just been about getting grounded, developing a routine that works for my family as we try to figure out how to master co-parenting and trying to wrap my head around some basic Spanish.

Antigua has a lovely radiating energy. This historic Spanish colonial city should be on your list of places to see if it isn’t already. The ruins and restored buildings have a story, a story I can feel as I walk past them. The views are impeccable. Two months in and I’m still overwhelmed at the site of the volcanoes and mountains surrounding me. From almost every spot in town you can see one, or all three of the major volcanoes. I can’t get enough of the scenery, I guess thats the benefit of living in a valley.

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 Why Guatemala? 

Recently I’ve been getting asked a lot, why Guatemala? To tell you the truth, I came here simply because I could. The opportunity was presented to me and I said yes, even though I was scared as hell. I cried at least three times over the who, what, where, why and when questions I had racing through my head.

I have never lived abroad, I don’t speak the native language, I had no idea how was going to make money, how my cat would handle the flight (because, obviously I brought her. A good mommy never abandon her babies.) Despite all those thoughts,  I wasn’t going to let the fear of the unknown stop me from entering the door that had just opened. Life is full of chaotic adventures with a child no matter where you are, so why not enjoy the adventures under the sun?

I’ve always enjoyed travelling. Every aspect of it, including the packing! Being in a new city gives opportunities to learn, discover and grow. This is a perfect opportunity for my baby to develop and absorb this wonderful energy around us.

Everyday has been brand new for both of us.

As he is learning, I am learning . 

As he is growing, I am growing

We get to discover together.

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Family Life

The day to day hustle and bustle of our lives is slowly becoming easier. Routines are developing and I finally feel like I’m getting sleep again (YAASS!!) which has allowed me to put some focus on me again. Reading, writing, hitting the gym and weekly yoga classes are bringing my sanity back.

Even though I miss my family back home, I’m so grateful to have the people around me that love and care for my family. In this little gated community, we have Elijah’s padrinos (god parents) as neighbours which is fantastic to have trusted baby sitters on hand.

As they say, “It takes a village to raise a child” and here we have a big happy family all looking out for Elijah.

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My biggest fear about motherhood

If I have to be completely honest the scariest part of motherhood isn’t the birthing process, teaching my son proper values and working on certain skills and all the other things attached to parenting. Although I do worry about my ability to raise my son into a decent human it is nothing compared to the fear I feel on losing my identity — who I am outside of being a mom.
I love my son more than words could describe but I fear on drowning in motherhood. Being a young mother who was on the brink of blossoming into womanhood I can feel myself shrinking. Shrinking back to who I was before I began to water my roots and embrace who I was on the inside, without fear of judgement. The angel and devil are back on my shoulder telling me what I should do. Every single action is now followed with the thought: is this how a mother acts ? One side is telling me, you need to change. Throw out your clothing and get you some “mom clothes”. Say hello to working off that baby belly, going to baby and me classes and living via curiously through your friends because you have to be responsible now. My social life went from abundant and thriving to a graveyard full of dirty diapers
Everyday is full of new and exciting discovery with a child. It’s absolutely beautiful being a mother. I fed my son some butternut squash and was elated at the fact he was eating food. But, there I was celebrating alone. In my motherland. That’s why I’ve been on the hunt for mommy friends, they would share my excitement. The thing is, having mommy friends, gives me the feeling that I am doomed to isolation in motherland. Goodbye to the blossoming Demi flower and hello to the mini van driving, craft maker, who goes on playdates, not real dates.
Am I the only one who has this fear? I haven’t been able to find the balance between being me and being a mother. My move to Guatemala is a huge test for my family. We will either sink or soar. “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.” I don’t want to become the mother who does nothing else but parent. I remember when I was 16 and my mother said to me “it’s time for me to do something for me.” I never understood what she meant, until now. She was lost in motherland. Her entire life was devoted to my brother and I. It made her the best mom ever. She was involved in my school, always available to drive me around, got to know all my friends. She was a full time superstar. One year for my birthday she made all of my 15 guests pillowcases with their names on it as party favours & she even made one for my younger brother so he felt included too. I think that’s another reason I feel so pressured to be a super mom. I want to give my son as much attention and involvement as I received growing up. But that would mean sacrificing my own life, my own dreams, my own social life…Or would it ? Is there a way to balance it all ? And become the Type of woman I want to be and be the super mom I want to be ? If there is, how can I do that ?
That is my goal of 2016. To discover how to balance motherhood and continue my journey of self discovery. I am aiming to blend the two into one. I feel selfish when I have thoughts of wanting time to myself. Even though I am surrounded with love and support my  mothers guilt is so strong I seldom find myself embracing the offerings of help. There must be a middle ground that will allow me to spend time on improving myself and being the super hero mom I aspire to be.

Where art thou mommy friends ?

I watched this video recently and had an epiphany.

“OMG, I NEED MOMMY FRIENDS”

I went from the quick transition of being somebody’s daughter to being a mother. I went from having barely any responsibilities to being responsible for a whole other life. My entire life changed and is continuing to change and develop as my son develops.

Now, just because I am seeking mommy friends does not mean I don’t have friends. I love my friends. Honestly I do. I don’t think I could ask for better ones (seriously, they are family). But, I have a strong desire to find some mommy friends. A mommy best friend. Someone who can relate to my desire to talk about my son for hours on end. Someone who will laugh at all the puke and pee stories instead of throw up. Someone who can relate to my sleepless nights. Someone who understands how much I love coffee because of those sleepless nights. Someone I can talk to about my mothers guilt and help each other over come it. Someone who won’t get annoyed of me sharing endless photos of him all over my social media. I need a mom to relate with.

Continue reading “Where art thou mommy friends ?”

How to start a gratitude journal (and why)

If I had a dollar for every time my parents called me ungrateful growing up, I’d be a millionaire. It sounds horrible, but it’s true. It’s not the fact that I wasn’t grateful, I love my parents, they have given me just about everything I have ever asked for and more. The fact is that I didn’t know how to show my gratitude or the power of the word “thank you”.

As I got older and my journey to “innerstanding” began I quickly realized the beauty of living a life of gratitude. Saying thank you goes a long way. Living a life of gratitude means focusing on what you have in this present moment and being completely satisfied with it. When you change your perspective to embrace everything that you are given joy surrounds you.


Continue reading “How to start a gratitude journal (and why)”

Top 21 life lessons from a young mama

For my 21st birthday I came up with a list of 21 life lessons for you ! I am not some life guru. I have only been living for 21 years but I have learned a lot of things from the many, many mistakes I made so i thought i would share what I learned so others don’t make the mistakes I did.

1. Family is everything. Value them
Family are the only people who you will always love, even when you think you hate them. Your cousins and siblings are your first friends. The best part about family is that they aren’t always blood related. My closest friends are like family to me and it’s easy to tell because the love is unconditional. Cherish your time with these people and make memories together.

2. Distance doesn’t ruin friendships.
**It doesn’t ruin real friendships**
Real friends stay true no matter where you are. Over the past few years my best friends and i have spent more time apart than together and our relationships are as strong as ever.

3. Writing things down gets shit done.
Seriously. Make a plan and write it down. Not on your iphone. ON PAPER. There is something magical about writing your goals out on paper that gets the universe working in your favour.

4. Life is too short to not do what you love.
Find what you love to do, and never stop doing it. Not only will it make you happy but i bet there’s a way to monetize off it and then you’ll never have to work a day in your life.

5. It’s okay to be in your 20s and have no idea what you want out of life.
I had a hard time accepting this. I felt too old to not have a plan for my future. There is such a societal pressure to go to school, get a job and make money i felt insecure for not knowing what my “major” was. But, you know what? ITS OKAY. Post secondary isn’t going anywhere and there is no deadline for your decision. It is okay to question yourself and question what you want out of life. Go out in the world and discover your passions.

6. Alone time is healthy.
But, too much can be damaging. We are social beings, humans thrive off of connection. Just like electronics, our batteries drain and we need to recharge, get reconnected with ourselves. Don’t be afraid of spending some time with the “[human] in the mirror”.

7. Self love > anything.
You would think loving yourself would be easy and obvious but its not. Its a process, a long one. It starts with a decision to just stop being mean to yourself ! We are our own worst critics, Our word is powerful. Even if you don’t love yourself, tell yourself that you do ! Tell yourself: i am beautiful. i am smart. i am strong and soon you’ll realize you aren’t lying to yourself. It begins with a choice.

8. You get what you give
We have all heard this one before. No this does NOT mean that if you are kind to others only good things will happen to you. We must learn to take the bad in the good and the good in the bad. There’s a lot of assholes out there that you cant control. just stay away from them as much as you can.

9. Credit cards suck.
AVOID AT ALL COSTS!!! SERIOUSLY IF YOU’RE THINKING OF GETTING ONE ABORT MISSION !!!

10. Being organized is crucial.
For so many reasons that it deserves a whole blog post on its own. Stay tuned.

11. You can’t live off of black coffee, bagels and pizza.
As much as you think you can, or want to, you just can’t. Listen to your body, it knows what it wants and what it needs. Adopting a healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean you have to give up pizza and cookies (at least that what I’m telling myself).

12. Don’t rush into relationships.
I see people around me jumping from relationship to relationship. Everywhere I look people complaining about being single. WHY? Being single is awesome, well it can be, if you know how to enjoy yourself (refer to #6) and if you love yourself (refer to #7) What ever happened to dating? Pick me up at 7, lets go out and get to know each other dating. I’ve only been on a handful of real dates cause for some reason its become outdated. Can we change that? Lets learn to embrace being single and getting to know people the old fashioned way.

13. Everybody has a story.
Every person has an opinion on how something happened or, how it should happen. Like they say “there are three sides to every story, yours, theirs and the truth.” There is only one truth. The truth is, we all create our own story, our own existence. The truth is we only see and hear what we want to. The truth is we have all been through hell and back. Everybody has a story so, be kind to others.

14. Travelling doesn’t require a lifetime of savings.
Whoever told you otherwise lied to you. You don’t need thousands of dollars to travel it all depends on where you want to go and where you plan to stay while you’re there and how to plan to sustain yourself while there. If you want to fly first class, stay in 4 star hotels and eat at fancy restaurants everyday, yeah you better save every penny you can.

15. Ignorance is NOT bliss.
Its just not. It leaves you blind and vulnerable to the things happening around us and there is A LOT happening right now.

16. Exercise is fun.
Working out doesn’t have to mean running on the treadmill for hours or climbing that dreadful stair climber in the gym. Anything involving active movement on your feet can be exercise !

17. Debt won’t go away unless you make a plan and actively pay it off.
It’s not impossible to get rid of debt you just have to be committed and make it a top priority. Don’t be ashamed of living frugally ! Follow the 80/20 rule and do what you can.

18. There is never a “right time”.
You can keep waiting for the right time but the fact is the right time is now. Now is the best time, now is the only time.

19. Quality > quantity
Having a handful of quality products will save you money in the long run. Quality is built to last.

20. People don’t come into your life by accident.
I have met an array of people over the past few years, each soul i encountered has changed me and inspired me. The short relationships i have had(good and bad ones) have all given me a valuable lesson and i am forever grateful for the people the universe has delivered me.

21. Knowledge is power
The saying should be “knowledge is bliss” because the more you know, the more you grow.