Saturday, January 10, 2009

Why I am "The Originalwombman"

I've had the e-mail address forever and folks always ask so . . . here's the reason I call myself "originalwombman". It's not the most creative of names but there's a deeply important reason (to me) why it's what I call myself.

A (long) while back I read a book called Sacred Woman by Queen Afua which influenced my life and how I saw myself as a woman. I learned to have a new respect and understanding of my womb as a source of creativity, grounding and healing.

I do believe that every human being is a unique light--never before seen, completely unique. Original.

Add to that the aspect of Black people, African people being the first people, the original people.

I believe it was Sister Carol, a reggae artist, who coined the phrase "Original Womb-man" to describe Aset (Isis), the Kemetic Goddess. Aset is a nurturer, mother, wife, healer. Divine. Clever.

And so, I call myself "the original wombman" for all these reasons but really all of us are "the original (insert loving, uplifting, self-affirming adjective here)".

Friday, January 9, 2009

Pleasant Surprise

I don't regularly get on the scale. To figure out if I'm losing weight I periodically try on my pre-pregnancy clothes. If they are not even close to fitting, I know I haven't lost anything. If they are kind-of-trying-to-maybe-could-fit-if-I-hold-my-breath-and-try-hard enough, I know it's coming off.

But today I got on the scale. And I'm 10 pounds lighter than I was last time I got on which is great. Z2 marked his first birthday and I was hoping this would happen. It happened with Z1. I didn't really do much and the weight came off. I could fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes again but I lacked muscle tone and definition.

This time around, I'm going to lose the pregnancy weight and get back to the weight I was when I got married which was my ideal weight. I may lose a little more than that too. I'll see. My goal is not only to lose weight but to build strength, muscle tone and definition as well as endurance.

A while ago my friend Amoi B. introduced me to www.sparkpeople.com. Over the next few days I'm going to explore the site and see what resources it offers to help me reach my goals.

Currently, I'm exercising every morning using
1. Crunch--The Perfect Yoga Workout: The Joy of Yoga and Fat Burning Yoga
and
2. Denise Austen Blast Away 10 Lbs.

One day I do the yoga and the other day I do the aerobics. So far this routine works. I am really out of shape now (huffing and puffing after about 3 minutes) but I know that will improve. I have some other workout DVDs and tapes around that I will try once I've mastered these two.

So anyway, those 10 lbs. being gone was a very pleasant surprise this morning.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Who doesn't love pancakes?

For me pancakes are especially nostalgic. My mother, who worked full-time from the time I was 5 years old, would make pancakes on Saturday. Saturdays were a leisurely day when we could sleep in and lounge around. We would have family prayers and then we could watch Saturday morning cartoons while my mom made the pancakes. She used Aunt Jemima pancake mix and we would have the most fluffy, delicious pancakes drenched in pancake syrup. My mother would take each round pancake, fold them in half and cut them into strips which we could pick up and eat with our hands. Pancakes (actually breakfasts) are some of my fondest childhood memories.

When I went strict veg years ago, I knew that I would be most successful if I could replace some of the foods I was accustomed to with vegan alternatives. I jumped into vegetarianism with both feet on my 21st birthday and with lots of determination became a good vegetarian cook and baker. The one food that has challenged me to no end is pancakes. I must have tried ever blessed vegan pancake recipe I could find. For the past few years I've been using one that's serviceable but that just does not come anywhere close to my mother's pancakes. That is . . . until now. I mentioned having found the most fabulous pancake recipe. I didn't realize that I had actually omitted one ingredient (the water). Leaving out the water actually makes for a better, fluffier, more "mom" like pancake! So I'm going to share the recipe.

Now, I absolutely love it when a vegan recipe is simple: no specialty or obscure ingredients that you will never use again. Soy milk is easy to find these days. Even at my local grocery store where you can't find a loaf of bread without high fructose corn syrup. Everything else, even the most novice baker would have in their possession. So without further ado . . .

Pancakes Like Mom Used to Make (Except Vegan)
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 tsp aluminum free baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil (or other flavorless oil)
1 1/2 cups + 1 tbsp vanilla soy milk or other non-dairy milk
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Put your oven on "keep warm".

In a large bowl, sift all the dry ingredients together. In another bowl, mix the wet ingredients. Add the dry to the wet and stir until everything is well combined and all the lumps are gone.

Oil your griddle or pan lightly with some flavorless oil. Pour 1/3 cup batter onto skillet and cook until bubbles start to form on the top or until the bottom side of pancake is as brown as you'd like. Flip and cook the other side.

edited 01.08.09 to add: Makes 8 pancakes.

To keep your pancakes warm, put them in a baking dish and cover *very* lightly with foil. Put them in your oven (that you have set to "keep warm"). These pancakes are *best* served warm. Top with pure maple syrup or fruit topping:

Simple Fruit Topping
1/2 cup water or juice
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp arrowroot
1 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 cup of fresh or frozen berries, apples, pears--basically, any fruit you like

Combine juice/water, sugar, arrowroot and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Simmer on low heat for about 2 mins. Add fruit of choice and let thicken.

-------------------------------------------------------------
I keep saying I'm going to make up the pancake mix in bulk so that I will be motivated to make pancakes more often. So far it hasn't happened. Maybe I'd like pancakes to be a special part of my children's memories instead of an everyday kind of thing. Ain't nothing wrong with that.

Anyway, who doesn't love pancakes? I know I do.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Discipline Makes Things Easier

I never make new year's resolutions but I do have ongoing goals which I'm trying to achieve. One goal is to lose weight and get fit. It seems like that is everyone's goal though.

Anyway, I slept for 45 extra minutes today. Z1 didn't sleep well at all last night. So I got up, checked my e-mail quickly and then started meditating. I wrote in my journal, "I woke up 45 minutes late today so I won't be able to work out or shower before the boys get up."

But I ended doing both things and I even have a minute to blog.

I've been bullshitting. Blogging is great and I enjoy it immensely. Reading blogs is also highly informative and entertaining. But these two things eat away at what should be my priority--fitness. It's easy to sit down and write and read. I enjoy these things. I don't like exercising though so I bullshit about it and complain I don't have the time.

Dead Prez (<3) recorded a song called "Discipline" which I've always loved but which takes on new significance and meaning as I get older. It is my mantra this year:

Discipline, discipline (practice makes perfect)
Discipline, discipline (Health is wealth)
Discipline, discipline (All things in moderation
Discipline, discipline (Plan your work; work your plan)

I exercised this morning and I feel strong and great. It's challenging to get moving but once you are, your body and soul appreciates it.

My routine
Wake up.
Center self. Write in journal. Read. Meditate. Chant.
Exercise.
If there's time, do all else.

Blogs can wait. E-mail can wait. Message boards can wait.

I can't.

I must say that this is the first day that I've meditated in front of my altar (post and pictures forthcoming) and I am thoroughly amazed and blessed by how focused things became this morning just by being in a set-aside, sacred space. I'm glad that I finally put the altar together. I meditated and then I decided to exercise even though the computer was calling me.

Discipline makes things easier. Organize your life.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Had to share!!

Found it on What About Our Daughters today and it is to promote the involvement of fathers in the lives of their children:

More than 79% of Americans feel “the most significant family or social problem facing America is the physical absence of the father from the home.” Research shows that the lack of a father in the home correlates closely with crime, educational and emotional problems, teenage pregnancy, and drug and alcohol abuse.

In an effort to show dads the critical role they play in their children’s lives, the Ad Council has partnered with the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse and volunteer ad agency Campbell-Ewald to create a new PSA campaign that communicates to fathers that their presence is essential to their children’s well-being. The campaign provides fathers with the information they need to become better dads. Ad Council



I'm especially touched because it's a father and daughter. My own personal experience says that a healthy self-image, self-love, self-respect comes in large part from a father being a loving and stable presence in a child's life. For little Black girls, constantly under attack by the media, it's even more important!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Balance

A few days ago, Lisa over at Black Women Blow the Trumpet wrote The Self-Love Self-Sacrifice Paradox.

I responded, in part, with the following:
I think for me as a young mother, the balancing act is challenging. You are balancing taking care of finance, taking care of children and taking care of self. What I have found is that you have to be committed to yourself first, working at being your best self, for anything else to work well.

I think this challenge is shared by all women--both those who work outside the home and those who are stay-at-home mothers.

When I think about what my priorities are, i.e. what I devote most of my energy to, I visualize a triangle. Now, we all know that properties of a triangle are that it has to have 3 sides and 3 angles adding up to 180 degrees. But there are all kinds of triangles:

Acute - all angles measure less
than 90.

Right - one angle measures
exactly 90.

Obtuse - one angle measures
more than 90.

Equiangular - all angles measure
the same. (60)
This is the same
as the equilateral
triangle.
(from http://regentsprep.org/regents/Math/triang/LTriangle.htm)

If I had to describe my life right now I'd have to describe it as an acute triangle with the largest angle representing the children, the middle angle representing me, and the smallest angle representing the hubby. I didn't know it before I had children:
children require and deserve a lot of time, energy, resources I would be a bold faced liar if I said that there are never days when I want to drop these kids off with someone for a day or two . . .

When the hubby is at work, I am ON. And I stay ON even when he's home. It's the nature of mothering.

Let me show you with an example that happens in my life every day. So around 7:45/8:00, me and the children start getting ready for bed. I put Z1 and Z2 in their pajamas which is about a 15-20 minute deal given that Z1 is 3 years old and Z2 is 1 year old. Both are immune to reasoning and generally have their own agenda. On any given night, Z1 may decide that "robot pajamas" really suck and he wants to wear "lion pajamas". But the lion pajamas are in the basement in the dryer. I will spend the next 5 minutes begging and coercing Z1 to just put on the damn robot pajamas (the ones, by the way, that he adamantly insisted on wearing when it was the lion pajamas he was to put on). Meanwhile Z2, is in his playpen/crib tossing toys out and occasionally hitting big brother which pisses big brother off. Big brother then pushes little brother (who doesn't really care about being pushed). So then I have to explain to Z1 why it is not appropriate to push Z2. Finally, Z1 is in his pajamas. I ask him to pick out books. He complains that "it is too dark in there and there are porcupines". I get up to turn on more light for Z1. Z2 panics and thinks I'm leaving and starts to bawl. I come back to Z2 and pick him up, comfort him and start to put on his pajamas. Z1 is saying that he can't find his favorite book. Just pick a damn book already! While my head is turned to give Z1 suggestions as to where he can find his book, Z2 scurries off because he likes to be diaper-less. He also has a diaper pin in his hand. I wrench my knee trying to keep him from falling off the bed and sticking himself with the diaper pin. Z2 gets extremely pissed off and starts kicking and flailing his arms refusing to stay still for me to pin the diaper. Meanwhile, Z1 has *finally* picked a book. We *finally* head off to the bathroom so that I can brush Z1's teeth and get ready for bed. Z2 is absolutely not feeling being in the exersaucer in the bathroom but if he's not in some containment device, we can't get anything done in the bathroom. So he's pissed off. Z1 may or may not want to open his mouth so I can brush his teeth. I do some pleading. Some bribing. Teeth brushed. I sit him on top of the toilet so I can get ready for bed too. Z1 says he has to pee. I take off the pajamas and the diaper (he still wears a diaper to bed) so he can pee. I realize the last time he went to the bathroom, he also pooped. And 3 year olds do *not* do a good job of wiping. I commence to wiping (and make a mental note to check the underwear he just took off and put in the hamper--they may actually need to go in the diaper pail), put back on the diaper and put the pajamas back on. Sit him on top of the toilet. Start brushing my teeth. Z1 gets off the toilet and starts spinning his already pissed off brother around in the exersaucer. SIT ON THE TOILET Z1!!!! DON'T MOVE!!! I take a deep breath. Wash my face. Reach over exersaucer to get towel. Z2 thinks I'm going to pick him up. Takes his banshee wailing up a notch. Toner. Moisturizer. Put on pajamas. Oil feet and hands. Put on silk scarf. Troop back to bedroom. Get in bed.

Mom, I have to pee.

Troop back to bathroom. Pee.

Troop back to bedroom. Get back in bed. Read books. Turn off light. Tuck everyone in. Pass out like someone clocked me.

It takes a concerted effort on my part to brush my teeth, wash my face, and oil my feet nightly. It takes a concerted effort to not forget to take care of myself. It takes a seriously concerted effort to be the wife my husband needs me to be.

But I make the effort. It's worth it. I'm worth it. My husband is worth it. My children are worth it. In my heart and in my mind, we are all equally important. Just like I feel about eating well, exercising and sleeping enough. All three weigh just as heavily in my mind.

When I say I put taking care of myself first, what I mean is that if I didn't I couldn't be the excellent wife and mother I want to be, I am becoming, I am. I said over at Lisa's blog:

What I have found is that you have to be committed to yourself first, working at being your best self, for anything else to work well. If you are bone tired and don't have anything that you do for yourself, that belongs only to you, that feeds your spirit, what can you realistically give to those you love?

Practically speaking, the triangle is not equiangular right now.
But as time goes on and the children need me less, I know it will be. I am looking forward to that time but also savoring this time. Because Z2's first year of life went by way too fast for me to be looking ahead instead of paying close attention right now.

If you see me in the street, and I don't look like I stepped off the runway, don't look like the hotness . . . be easy on me. I'm trying. But it's not always easy to find the balance.
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