Welcome to my Blog
My Digital Notebook
I like to be sure, real sure about the decisions I make. So I listen to my gut, pray and look for proof that I am on the right track. Here are my notes…
Birth is fascinating to me. I discovered one of my greatest interests only after I became pregnant. I remember seeing my sisters pregnant. I remember seeing them rushed to the hospital and visiting them with a new baby for me to love on. Yet, none of that made me think twice about the process.
I've been pregnant 3 times. My first pregnancy ended in a water birth at a birth center. My second birth ended in a miscarriage. My third birth ended in a natural birth at a birth center.
In the video below I give some details on the births of my 2 boys.
What's your birth story? What birth story are you hoping for?
Research and countless parenting and child development specialists will tell you that connection is key in any relationship especially the parent-child relationship. Healthy, effective parenting is all about building and maintaining a strong connection but who has time for that?
I get it. Adulting is hard. Add parenting to it and exhaustion is one of the first things that comes to mind. The truth is our methods create more work, anxiety and don’t get us to our parenting goals.
So, Ashlee, what should I do?
Well, learn about child development, drop your expectations of having the fictitious “perfect” child and make time and space to connect. I challenge you to use the list below and take the 30/30 Challenge (for 30 days take 30 minutes each day to connect).
30 Ways to Connect with Your Kid:
What would you add to this list?
As a kid I felt cultureless. I would hear people, especially white people, talk about their Irish, Scottish, German heritage. I always felt left out of the conversation because I didn't know where my ancestors were from Beyond slavery. I think I should be able to say I was Sierra Leonean or Ghanaian or some other African country.
I remember telling people that I Haitian or was from Haiti. That was short-lived though because one time I slipped up and told people I was from Hades and the looks on their face having made that very simple but significant mistake horrified me. That was one lie I would never use again. But my desire and journey to figure out who I was, what larger group I was a part of did not stop.
I took an ancestry.com DNA test. I was so excited to get the results and very disappointed upon reading the results. It told me what every person who knows that slavery existed could have told me. That my DNA traced back to West Africa. Really? Really Ancestry.com? You didn't think I knew that?
I wanted, no needed, something more specific. I wanted it to say that I was from or that my people were from Nigeria, or Ethiopia, or Sierra Leone,. But it couldn't provide me with that. So about 2 years later I subscribed to a podcast that was very into Sankofa, reaching back to the past in order to create a better and liberated future. As a result of financially supporting this podcast I was entered into a drawing to win an African ancestry DNA kit. I won the kit and found out that the people who share DNA with me in Africa today live in Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea. That discovery was so elevating because it gave me a connection that I did not have before or at least that I thought I didn't have before.
Today, about 2 years later, I can say that I actually didn't need the test. I didn't need to be any more connected to Africa then I already was just being Black. I've come to realize that I am connected to something larger than myself as simply an African American. The history of our people even during and after slavery is so rich, full of resilience, beauty and magic. I don't really need anything beyond the truth of that.
I was able to come to that place of peace with identifying simply as an African American/ Black person, after having many conversations with other Black people who had been affirmed in their blackness and reading lots of books by people who have been reaffirmed in their blackness.
I desire to help you do the same. First by being connected to my blog (written by a person who has been reaffirmed in their blackness) you are already connected. I encourage you to surround yourself even the more with conscious Black people (understand the impact of systematic racism and oppression, have an awareness of real history and love Black people Black people and culture). Second, I want to share some of the books that I read that really helped me in this journey.
4 books to reaffirm your black girl magic:
What would you add to this list?
I love that so many people are interested in the healthy vegan or plant based diet. Hearing folks say they are moving from meatless Mondays to only meat and dairy for dinner to only on the weekends is exciting. Veganism can be lonely so come on over to the other side!
However, the greatest benefits come from lifestyle change not just a diet change.
The most successful vegans have realized some key things that make plant based living enjoyable and not a necessary burden. Your new set of principles (the reasons you made the switch) and understanding of how food affects our bodies should be married with some key lifestyle changes.
Here are 4 things you need to know to successfully transition to a vegan diet...
I get it. Making healthy transitions is hard and sometimes expensive. I still struggle with it. The reason my kids are have dealt with severe tooth decay is probably because when meat and dairy went down grains went up. We were eating oatmeal daily, a few times a day as hot cereal, pancakes (flour), granola bars, smoothies, burgers, etc.
It's okay. You will figure it out. Through all of my reading and discovering I have never heard of anyone causing irreversible damage to their bodies by going vegan. With the right stuff you can heal almost anything.
So if we're going to do things differently, we gotta do things differently. Let's stop trying to marry old habits with new principles. It doesn't work.
There's a lot of hype today about veganism and plant based diets. I love it. The more we talk about it, in good and bad ways, the more folks get interested and look into it themselves. People are switching over for many different reasons. The most common include a desire to do better for our environment, save the animals, lose weight, reverse disease and illness, and be/get healthy to prevent disease and illness.
Can you guess my reason?
When I found out I was pregnant in 2013, I dove head first into learning what alternatives existed for pain management during labor and delivery because the conventional plan for birth was out of the question. I was scared and determined to do something different.
As I researched, it was clear to me mainstream media, the medical profession and the government were not sharing the truth about living a healthy life, about prevention and alternatives to toxic medicines and treatments. I thought if they are hiding the truth about pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding, what else were they hiding? I learned how birth was supposed to go and thought what other natural processes are we jacking up with our conventional intelligence?
From there I took a deep dive into all things natural and I decided to live a natural life. I went vegan, stopped relaxing my hair, changed my products (cleaning, body, etc.), cloth diapered and more.
To me a natural life meant God's intention. How could I live as close to what God, my creator, originally intended for me to live? (Since we've gotten soooo far from perfection, there are exceptions and adaptations yet I believe the closer we get the better off we'll be.) It meant going back to the basics and only using conventional solutions in emergencies and when natural solutions were unknown.
Long story short, I became a vegan to save myself and my kids. I wanted my kids' default to be healthy choices. I wanted to live as long as I could and not die from something preventable. In 2004, my 37 year old father died of a sudden heart attack. Years earlier he had been diagnosed with a rare heart condition that two of his brothers and mother later died from.
The animals and environmental benefits are important but byproducts of health decision for me.
Let's be clear being vegan does not mean you are healthy. It means you don't consume animal by products. Sugar, alcohol, and processed foods are still harmful and should be avoided or at least consumed in moderation. I'm 4+ years in and I struggle with sugar addiction, eating leafy greens EVERY day and avoiding processed foods.
It's a learning process with a serious learning curve. Though I struggle, I continue on because I was struggling in the other direction before the switch. At some point what I was eating would have led me to noticeable unhealthiness. The struggle now is leading me to full functioning of my body and life giving principles to pass on to my children, grand children, etc. The struggle is real and so will the benefits be.
I like to think of myself as unique. Particularly the way my brain works. I am extremely optimistic, always looking for the good in every person and every situation. I was wired to give people the benefit of the doubt until evidence of something else comes to light. Additionally, I am very logical. Things have to add up and make sense or more questions need to be asked. I am a rebel.
So it’s a great fit to be the one in my circle gathering information and disseminating it. I also think people need to make their own decisions and the best decisions are made when all of the information is present. (Beware that many sources give you the information they think you need to know or the information that will encourage you in a particular way. The government, big business, mainstream media, etc. is good for this.)
With a brain like mine; one ready to question, dig deeper and press ALL the buttons, I am often amazed by the things people accept as truth. Our generation, the lovely millennials, tend to have big goals, be lazy, do surface level “research” aka read two google summaries and think they can help someone else (I’ve been guilty of this on a few occasions). The generation before us seems to just do what they know and what they were told, no questions asked. (Hopefully the next generation will continue to evolve and will question everything and keep going until they find truth.)
As a growing crunchy mama who has done LOTS of trainings (I love trainings, webinars, and conferences), read LOTS of books, and traced information back to original sources (not every time), I find myself thinking “Who told you that?” in many conversations. For example..
“Giving birth at home is dangerous.” ...“Who told you that? In most cases it’s the safest place.”
“Breastfeeding a toddler is more about the mom than the kid.”...“Who told you that? Nursing a toddler is annoying yet provides the same benefits as it did for the baby.”
“I could never give birth naturally because I have a low pain tolerance.”...“Who told you that it has anything to do with your pain tolerance and everything to do with not interfering with the process? Also there will be pain and discomfort regardless. The question is do you want it during birth or after.”
“You can’t be sure you’ll be pleased sexually if you don’t have sex before marriage.” ...“Who told you that?” How do you know the difference if your spouse is your first and only? Isn’t it possible to tell a person what you like and teach them?
“It’s the mom’s job to do all the house and kid related stuff.”...“Who told you that? (I’ll leave it there. LOL)”
“It’s impossible to raise a well-behaved, respectful kid without beating them. Especially boys.”...“Who told you that? Look at who is beat the most and look at who gets in the most trouble. Is beating/ spanking/ whipping really helping? ”
“Babies who like to be held all the time are spoiled.”...“Who told you that? For nine months they were carried and rocked nonstop, never having to request food, warmth or anything else. They felt safe and loved. Then they are born and in an instant EVERYTHING changes. Wouldn’t it seem odd if they didn’t want to be close to what/ whom they are most familiar (just like us)?”
The line “who told you that” is a rhetorical question. I don’t really want to know who told you that.
I also do not want to minimize the experiences of other women. But to encourage you to dig deeper and think critically about the things that are presented to us.
(I’ll hit each of the above topics and more in the coming posts.)
My goal for this blog is to share what I have learned and the sources of those things. I am an expert in Ashlee. You are an expert in (insert your name here). So what we need to thrive may be and probably will differ but let this be your jumping pad and source of direction (not answers).
I will also share my experience and the experiences of others to bring what I am learning to life.
What things are you curious about? What do you want more information about? Comment below so I can be sure to include it.
I coach women to prepare for and thrive as mothers via birth, breastfeeding and parenting education and self-care events. I am a Black crunchy momma that has something to say about how we create life, give birth, what we eat, how we connect with each other, and relate to $$.