FREE certified lactation counselor (CLC) training

What an incredible opportunity! The Brooklyn Breastfeeding Empowerment Zone and Ancient Song Doulas are sponsoring a free training to increase the number of CLC’s in Brownsville and Bed Stuy Brooklyn. Please pass the word far and wide!

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Self care: acupuncture

Acupuncture is something that I’ve always been intrigued by but never done. I think cost was the major barrier. I could go once at $75/session, but repeatedly? Not so much.

I was so excited to learn of and get good recommendations for a community acupuncture place in my neighborhood. For the last 9 months I’ve gone to get acupuncture treatments for various issues including migraines, a cold, and more recently, a virus I was battling last week.

I love the quiet resting state my body goes into when I’m sitting there with the needles in. I always feel different when I walk out than when I came in.

Last week, as I was resting with the acupuncture needles, I focused my attention on a friend who was awaiting rest results for her son, who was
recently diagnosed with a potentially serious illness. It felt so nice to meditate on the child and envision him surrounded with love and light. I am happy to report that once my acupuncture session was finished, my friend texted me that her son was given a clean bill of health.

I also felt better physically when I left the session. If I hadn’t been so busy the following few days, I would have gone in for repeat treatments as I relapsed again with sickness this week.

This picture reminds me that self care (not just acupuncture, of course) is not optional. It’s essential to healthy living.

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What have you done to do take care of yourself today?

Adventures in Zumba

In Nov 2011 I started taking Zumba classes at my local Y. I had tried it two years earlier and didn’t like it. It felt fast, crowded, and I kept feeling like we rushed through every movement and I felt like I was going to trip half the time.

Ironically, I tried Zumba again when I was having terrible tooth pain (I didn’t realize that I needed a root canal) during the Thanksgiving holiday, and I realized that for that one hour I was dancing, I felt great. I was back to the miserable tooth pain once my post-zumba sweating stopped.

I then tried a few different instructors and I realized that the ones I liked the most were ones who had a firm dance background. Either they were formally trained dancers (different genres) or they were deeply immersed in dance culture- by taking classes, attending conferences and very clearly- dancing a lot.

And so began my love affair with Zumba. I take classes consistently each Saturday & Sunday and I try to get a third class in during the week when I can. I’ve taken Zumba at different Y’s, a local gym, on the pier by the Brooklyn Bridge, at a master class with 2 different instructors, at a dance studio, in upstate NY when on a family camping trip, and most recently, in Florida.

Now that I wrote that all out, I’m realizing I sound obsessed like a Zumba expert.

I’m not.

Yes I’ve lost some weight (there’s more to be lost!) and gained some coordination, but trust me, how I look when I’m dancing versus how I feel when I’m dancing are two very different things. But that’s ok! I’m burning calories, building strength and enjoying good music so that’s all that matters. It’s a great way to relieve stress.

I have a friend who’s also a neighbor and fellow mom (our sons go to the same school) who is my “Zumba buddy”. We support each other, take classes together and encourage each other to be active despite our busy lives. More than once I’ve been tired and tried to talk myself out of going to class & my Zumba buddy has helped me rally and get my behind in gear.

I’m planning to take a Zumba class in Atlanta and DC in the next few months as I’ll be traveling there so if you have any good recommendations for classes, please leave them in the comments.

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My Zumba buddy is the one with the bandana on. Our instructor teaches at Pier 1 (Brooklyn bridge park) over the summer which is a fun venue change.

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That’s Zumba in Florida with my mom on her birthday! The instructor is Ronald Burton and he was FABULOUS. I especially loved the “Hot hula” and the gospel song we danced to (very respectfully).

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This gorgeous woman, Monica Ortiz Rossi, does an amazing faaaast paced Zumba class at Cumbe

Spring break camps

Most working parents loathe school breaks not because they dislike their children, but because the struggle to find childcare during school breaks is stressful. And often expensive.

I have the good fortune of having a ‘village’ in my life where I can work creatively with family, friends and neighbors to cobble together fun times for my son (& full days of care for me) when he’s off from school. At times I can also take him to work with me and rely on his intense love of telling people what to do teaching others to keep him entertained at the preschools I work with.

I do like to learn about interesting day and break-long programs that exist so that we have options just in case he wants to do a more structured program on a day off. One program that we are considering for part of an upcoming break is Spoke the Hub Spring Green Multi-arts Day Camp. I love the way they begin the day more than anything!

• 9:30am – Moving Green
Campers begin each day, aiming to grow healthy bodies and minds, through dance, yoga and mindfulness meditation practice

Have you ever signed your child up for a ‘break’ camp? What was it like? Did you find it worth the cost?

Would love to hear your experiences.

Food Power Conference by MomsRising

Today I attended the Food Power Conference developed by MomsRising (a wonderful organization you should check out Moms Rising).
It was an invigorating day filled with passionate bloggers, parents, and community members who are committed to addressing the childhood and adult obesity epidemic rampant in the US and particularly in low income & communities of color.

I particularly loved watching the documentary Soul Food Junkies by Byron Hurt because it really teased apart many of the nuances of WHY soul food is an important part of black culture (historically) & HOW soul food can’t and shouldn’t be the only thing we focus on when trying to address the ‘problems’ in Black people’s diets.

There are many issues here to be discussed and if we are to make any headway on the massively daunting rates of diabetes, high blood pressure, pancreatic & other cancers in the Black community, we need to be willing to have tough and complicated conversations.

The breakout session on junk food marketing to children made my blood boil. I am inspired to work more with others and with organizations on this issue. I will post more links and info when I get involved.

Check out the MomsRising website and get involved! Our children need us to fight for their presents and futures

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Modeling body acceptance to boys

Yesterday as I was finishing up cooking dinner I told my son it would be time for him to turn off the tv shortly. I asked if he could be my ‘trainer’ and time me while I did planks and help me count out push ups and sit ups. He loves to do this so he agreed.

A moment later he asked:

Mommy, why are you exercising so much. Like every day!

We’ve spoken about this a lot over the past year as I’ve really committed myself to moving my body on a regular basis which means that I often have to leave early in the morning or right after work to get to the gym. I reminded him that I want to be as healthy as I can be and I can do that by trying to eat a lot of fruits and veggies and by exercising at least 5 times a week. It’s a goal I don’t always hit, but I try and we talk about it as a family often.

I asked him if he noticed that I’m a little smaller than I was a few months ago.

Of course he responds “No.”

Then he asked me if I want to be smaller than I am.

Carefully, I considered my response and said:

I want to be as strong and healthy as I can be. I want to do cartwheels and handstands and run around with you in the park for hours. I might get smaller as I get stronger but that’s not my goal.

He replies- on cue- “You look great just the way you are, mom”.

I love that child.

It isn’t always easy to discuss societal & cultural issues with children that are more nuanced and complex than most would have us think, but I’m committed to trying to shift the conversation in our house from whether someone is ‘fat’, ‘skinny’ or in between to ‘how strong’ and ‘what healthy choices she made’.

Fat does not equal unhealthy and skinny doesn’t equal healthy.

I am hoping that as he grows up he’ll have a foundation of thinking about food, bodies and health in multiple, holistic ways. It’s definitely a work in progress for all of us.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about teaching your own kids about healthy bodies.