Let Black Babies Be Wild and Free

Excerpt from an essay I wrote for mater mea entitled Let Black Babies Be Wild and Free

“When I got pregnant my last year of undergrad, I began to reflect on my childhood and how it shaped me as a scholar and as a person. I thought about my identity as a Black woman in America. What experiences did I want my offspring to have?

I had felt so much pressure living in a world that expects us to work twice as hard for half as much. I decided to unplug from that narrative and live life on my terms. It felt almost like a matter of life and death, and for many Black people in America, it is.

“I’m going to give them the freedom to be their whole selves outside of me. ”

After moving to the States I noticed the pressure that Black caregivers and their children are under in a world that considers them less than. Our kids must be well-groomed and well-behaved at all times, even at the expense of their childhood. There’s a scene in the Netflix movie Nappily Ever After …”

 

To read more, please visit the mater mea here .

Peace,

Farai

I am a Part of Nature

A few years ago, Kansas weather used to affect my mood in a drastic way. Born in tropical Kariba, Zimbabwe, and raised in the hot, semi-arid climate of Gaborone, Botswana- I preferred the heat through and through.

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Carrying my baby on my back like my Shona mama did me. I love this picture

Snowy weather left me feeling isolated, cold, and put out. Rainy weather left me feeling sluggish and dreary. Somewhere along the line, I realized I am a part of nature, and instead of feeling ostracized by the weather- I felt included. Each cycle of weather has a purpose. The dying leaves of autumn decompose in the ground, providing food for  the microorganisms that live beneath us and feed the plant life above ground.

This past winter snowfall was brutal, but I was grateful I get to live in the land of my settler ancestors and watch it melt deep into the ground and nourish the thirsty roots of the trees who struggled in the extreme heat of last summer.

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Biggest, happy earthworm from our backyard

All that snow caused a mast fruiting this spring which has me pulling baby maple trees out of my garden beds every day. I can choose to be annoyed, or I can marvel at the cycle of life and the infinitesimal role I have in it.

Today I watched a bird try to eat a piece of plastic, human beings in general have done a number on the eco-systems we are a part of. Without pollinators like bees, birds, and other insects, we have no fruits and vegetables. Without beautiful, green, lush, biodiverse earth, the cows have no food to give us our beloved beef. Our fish have plastic in their bellies too. How are we continuing to destroy the place that we depend on for our survival? It is counterintuitive, I acknowledge that I am a part of nature. When Earth is sick, I am sick too. When bees die, I die too.  

Instead of trying to separate myself from the seasons, I remember that I am a part of them too. In Autumn, I wind down, harvest, eat the squash and corn that is ripened in this season. In the Winter, I hunker down with twinkly lights, warm drinks, blankets, and hibernate. In the Spring, I perk up, I do the hard work that comes with sprouting, and learning, and growing. In the Summer, I do a little bit of everything while enjoying juicy summer fruit and remembering to rest.

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Peony from Tete’s house

 

I do not despair anymore because I know we have the tools at our disposal to make a difference. Conversations surrounding capitalism, climate change, our government, and the shitty corporations that brutalize people and the planet for their profit is bigger than what I want to get into in this post. I originally meant to share some prose about how I feel so close to this lovely flying rock I call home after thanks to weather, and yet here we are, I hope this helps someone. 

Small things I do to make a difference

  1. Don’t fucking litter
  2. Growing my own food when I can
  3. Eschew capitalism when I can
  4. Bartering when I can
  5. Supporting local farmers and makers
  6. Eating less meat
  7. Using less plastic
  8. Only buying grass fed beef  and pastured chicken when cooking  with meat
  9. Buying food that is in season
  10. Buying organic when I can
  11. Only getting what I need or really want
  12. Buying second hand
  13. Getting things repaired when they break
  14. Trading instead of buying
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Lilac heart from a neighborhood walk

I hope this helps someone feel less alone, and more connected like I do. Give a tree a hug and remember you need each other. I cannot believe I have lived so long yet failed to stop and sniff at a lilac bush, or crush some lemon balm (which smells like an actual loving hug) between my fingers and smell its heady aroma. We need each other, friends.

Peace,

Farai

 

Mother’s Day Mindfulness

According to google, Mindfulness is defined as “the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.” Most days my brain is going a mile a minute- writing lists, meal planning, remembering when the last diaper change was, whether or not I had a playdate scheduled, or when I need to wash the linens. Punctuate that with parenting a rambunctious toddler and constantly distracted by my phone and you have a very busy brain on your hands.

This May 12th marks my 3rd (!) year as a mama! I have been on a slow journey to tap into mindfulness as a way to reconnect with myself. I know that when I am nourished and well rested, that I am a better mom.

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Getting yard work done with my poppet

I attempt the habits I am about to share only when I can, and when they feel good. Never forcing anything.

Going on a small solo walk and talk to nature

My newest habit feels really good, I just walk down a couple blocks and point out the flora and fauna I see to myself. Sometimes I greet them, or thank the trees for the oxygen they provide me. This exercise requires me to focus and to be present. Which works great for me since I tend to live in the clouds.

Taking a hot bath with herbs, Epsom Salts or ACV

I’ll let you, reader, find out the benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar for yourselves. They are both a bath staple in our home. I don’t take baths often, I can barely scrounge up time for a shower, but I have been making a point every so often to slow down, put on a face mask, dry brush my skin, and hop into the bath for 15 mins or so. Sometimes with a book, sometimes with just my thoughts.

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Bath with epson salts and lilacs from my friends garden

Making a nourishing meal for myself

This one is hard for me, because a lot of my own energy goes in to taking care of the people in my families dietary needs, I barely have the spoons to eat something nutritious for myself when I do make the time to sit down and eat. Slowing down though and eating a meal rich in good fats and amazing spices or drinking an herbal infusion always hits the spot.

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Overnight cleavers cold infusion

Reading a daily devotional or journaling

Journaling regularly has always been a dream of mine. But the truth was I couldn’t get to it everyday, then felt ashamed at the large gaps between my entries until I had finally discouraged myself from even trying. Thankfully I released that hang up a few years ago and happily journal when the mood strikes. I have also been reading a couple of day books. I don’t get to them every day, but when I do, I don’t try to play catch up, I read the message for that day, because thats the one I need to see. I’ve been reading Simple Abundance a Daybook of Comfort and Joy, and 365 Tao Daily Meditations.

I hope you find the time this week to celebrate yourselves in one some way. I leave you with the words of Asia Suler:

“No matter who you are, what you’ve done or what you’ve yet to accomplish — you are seen, cherished, and welcomed into the fold. The Earth, and the family of beings to which you belong, cares about you as an innate part of the whole.

You are as precious as the winged seeds of the maple, as beloved as the first cherry-colored blossoms of spring. As integral as the bee, pollen-dusted and in love with everything. You are seen in the same rose-tint as the bee sees the bloom and the soil sees the seed.”

Peace,

Farai

 

Earth Friendly and Minimalist Easter Practices for Kids

Happy 2019! I hope this blog post finds you, reader, in good spirits.

So let’s get right to it. Easter stuff is already everywhere you look. I purposefully tried to avoid all small holidays in the USA the first few years of Thandiwe’s life because it just seems like a giant excuse to ply kids with candy. But now, as my little one is getting older and has shown interest in things like birds, bees, bunnies, and mushrooms, I see an opportunity to use Easter to teach her about rest, renewal, and the beauty of transformation.

Christian Easter will be celebrated on April 21st, but we are tying our Easter celebration to the Spring Equinox which will be on March 20. Whatever beliefs you have, I hope you find time to find the beauty in the green blooms that will be coming out to say hello.

This post contains affiliate links. The HillbillyAfrican may earn small commissions from purchases made

The Easter Basket

Reuse a basket/box you already own or go to a local thrift store and get a wicker one for cheap.

This is the perfect time to get your child spring and summer items they may have outgrown. Each season I go through Thandiwe’s wardrobe to find out what she has outgrown or needs repaired. In her case, she had outgrown her swimsuit and water shoes.

Other ideas include

  1. Raincoat
  2. Rainboots
  3. Hat
  4. Umbrella

Since she has an obsession with mushrooms (like her mama!) I reached out to my IG friends who recommended so many good books, but I liked this one the best. Our lesson this Easter will be around the life cycle of mushrooms.

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Instead of Easter grass, I will be using a playsilk that I plan on dyeing with blackberries. Really any scarf will do. Scarves are great open ended toys because they can become a cape, bandana, tutu, or baby sling. I have a post about toys here.   You could also use newspaper or craft paper to make your own compostable easter grass.

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Play silks I made her last year
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If I had any crocheting skills, I would make these myself, but instead I pay my lovely talented friends instead.  Here is a link to the Etsy store pattern for these . You don’t have to add toys to the basket, but Easter isn’t only about bunnies and chicks, there is ample opportunity to chat about nature in general. 

The Easter Egg hunt

I got a bag of the plastic eggs from the thrift store to use. I spent some time researching biodegradable and recyclable ones (there are not many options) before decided to just buy some second hand and take care of them so we can use them for many years to come. Luckily, the ones I found were slightly bigger than a standard size, so if I chose to fill them with something bigger in the future I am set.

Ditch the candy if you can. Instead use

  1. Coins or cash (kids love money)
  2. Crackers
  3. Yogurt bites, or yogurt covered nuts/ fruit
  4. Gummies that aren’t full of gross stuff
  5. Marbles
  6. Lip balm/Nail polish/Lip stick for the makeup loving kiddo in your life
  7. Rings/ Beads and string to make jewelry
  8. Homemade playdough
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I hope this gives anyone searching, some ideas. At the end of the day all our babes want is to connect with us.  I look forward to restart our walks in the neighborhood where we point out all the cool flora and fauna that is local to us. She recognizes spots from last spring/summer where the bunnies hid and where mushrooms sprouted and she searches for them whenever we do make it outside. I love this graphic from Little Oak Learning. 

Peace,

Farai

Building Ritual and Traditions

Being a third culture kid has its pros and cons. On one hand, I am adaptive, can pick up languages very easily and love being a citizen of the world. On the other hand, I suffer from some sort of identity crisis sometimes. I used to wish I had one culture. A set of rules and rituals I could lean into during life’s moments. Practices that are set in stone and were practiced by my people and their people before them. Instead, I have a mix of Setswana, Shona, British, and Kansan culture and traditions in my head.

Colonialism took away a lot of culture and tradition for some African tribes and I mourn the loss of our traditions that were demonized by western Christianity. I’ve tried hunting down records of how my people lived before colonization but the information is scarce.

As my toddler gets older, my spouse and I are questioning everything we know. Will we celebrate Christmas? Yule? Easter? Birthdays? If we do, how can we do it in a way thats authentic to us and our values. Its important to us to engage in rituals and traditions that are meaningful and bring true joy to us. Not just because they are the norm.

She is only two though, so for now, having these conversations looks like singing rhymes and lullabies. Going on walks and exploring nature as it changes before our eyes. Jumping in rain puddles, picking up dandelions, acorns, pumpkins, and sticks.

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Pumpkin patch 2018

Things that I know for sure are that I want to celebrate and cherish the beginning and ending of each season wherever we are living. Recognizing the growth and harvest time in Summer and Fall, and the rest and renewal of Winter and Spring. Knowing where our food is from and giving thanks to those who grew, picked, and cooked it. Recognizing our role as stewards of the land and the First Nations people who were here before us. Cooking Zimbabwean food for her so she knows her culture even though we are so far away from it. Standing up for her rights and those of others. There is so much I want to show my babe and I am excited to learn it all with her through her eyes.

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Week without Violence walk 2018

For now, i’ll keep her close.

Peace,

Farai.

Sunday Sweetness

Things that brightened up this past week for me.

This garage sale toy high chair (yay for Godparents who know your style)

These two books for keeping her entertained.

New hobbies. I picked up needle felting and made Thandie a few felt toys. So far the ” ‘ushrooms” are a hit and have accompanied a few naps.

This book for being beautifully written by a Kansas native and an insight into Wicca.

Peace,

Farai

Yummy Non-Toxic Room Spray

I’ll let the Environmental Working Group let you know why most room and fabric refreshers are terrible for you and the environment. Instead, I’ll share my non-toxic recipe for a spray that I use to sweeten the smell in a room or freshen a fabric

What you’ll need:

  • A small to medium sized glass or stainless steel spray bottle
  • Unscented witchhazel or alcohol
  • Essential oils of your choice. My go to right now is vanilla and grapefruit
  • Label for your bottle

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Fill your bottle mostly all the way up with your witch-hazel or alcohol. Next add 10-15 drops of your essential oils combinations of your choice. Thats it! You can play with different smells and concentrations of essential oils each time you run out. I love citrus scents in the summer, cinnamon and orange the fall, and wintergreen scents in the cold weather. I also adore plain old vanilla as well.

If you prefer to not use essential oils all together, consider using a hydrosol of your fav smelling plants/herbs instead as a room spray or refresher instead. They are easy to make (I spy a future blogpost) or can be purchased on Etsy.

A note on essential oils – Make sure you are using oils from reputable, RESPONSIBLE companies that are harvesting the oils ethically. I’m gonna be bold and state the unpopular opinion that is avoid MLM’s like Doterra and Young Living altogether. This is coming from someone who sold Doterra and has tried all kinds of oils. Dr Aviva Romm has an excellent podcast with Mindy Green, a clinical aromatherapist on proper usage and sustainability of essential oils. The podcast is worth a listen and the show notes page has an excellent resource list I will be referencing for a long time. 

Peace and yummy smells,

Farai

My thrifty summer

As a type A Capricorn, labels, lists and general definitions of things warm the cockles of my heart. Defining my style was fundamental in allowing me to figure out exactly what I was looking for when I began furnishing the house and adding to my closet.

I have a whole post about what how I discovered my style preferences and the little dilemma that led to my discovery in the works.  In the mean time, this podcast I did with Roe of Brownkids and this quiz by Dacy of Mindful Closet were super helpful. 

 

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Effortless, garage sale find 

I used to destest thrift shopping. I felt like it was a messy, stinky, pile of garbage that I had to sift through to find something cool. Having a clear idea of what I was looking for changed the game for me. Instead of being pointless, it became a treasure hunt, where I got to find and welcome items into my home and give them a second chance at life where they could serve my family and I, or bring me joy.

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The perfect watering can from a art walk

I began imagining what I wanted for the different spaces in my house. For the wall space above my breakfast nook, I wanted art made by my friends, things that reminded me of my family, and lots of embroidered and wicker things. I should pause and say that I define my style as ’70s-boho-earthy-dirty hippie’. I like lots of earth tone colors and fabrics. So that is what I look for. Thankfully Anthony loves my style and is cool with it, I like to include him in the choices I make when decorating the house because I want him to enjoy the space too. I try to include art that he likes as well.

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The beginnings of the gallery wall in my dining room. Much has been added to it since then.

So, how did I find all the things I wanted this summer? 

Make a list. I wanted mugs with mushrooms on them, I found two for under a buck. I wanted a wicker hutch, got it. A peacock chair, I got it the next day I posted on my facebook feed. Put out what you are looking for and more than likely you will find it. Maybe not instantly, but it will come to you.

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Esmerelda the Peacock Chair of my dreams

Going to art walks to find art from local artists.

Thrift stores sell the best frames hands down. If you have a piece of art you need a frame for, go there first.

My artsy friends and I bartered my skills for their art.

I posted pictures of items I was looking for online. Sometimes friends, and people local to you may have what you are looking for. This is how I got my peacock chair and wool rug.

If you know someone who loves thrifting and garage sales (shoutout to my Godparents), ask them to keep an eye out for you. This is how I got rugs, and my hutch.

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I’ve always wanted a hutch. Not quite sure what I want in it quite yet

I have said this already, but have a clear idea/list of what you are looking for. I wanted a denim skirt all summer. I finally found one at goodwill that I know I will wear for years! Having a list stops you from buying crap you don’t need or spending money on a fast fashion item that won’t hold up as long.

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My denim skirt

Kitchen items like scales, ladles, bowls, cups, even good quality stainless steel and ceramic cookware can be found while thrifting too. A lot of kitchen stuff got broken in the renovation and I had to replace some things.

Go to garage sales and estate sales.  Doing it as a family is fun surprisingly enough.

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My favorite prayer. This was made in 1975 ! ❤

Shop vintage shops/thrift shops on etsy and ebay.

Don’t be afraid of a little work, sometimes something needs to be cleaned, washed or given a little repair. You will appreciate it more for taking the time to work with it.

I truly love the idea of finding something that I am looking for second hand and giving it a new home. I hope some of you can find joy in that too.

Peace,

Farai

 

 

How to keep it minimal with technology

I am a ex-tech lover. Don’t get me wrong, I still appreciate all that technology has done/does for me. My kindle e-reader kept me sane while night-nursing a sleepy Thandiwe. My phone keeps me connected to my loved ones 24/7 and that is such a blessing. However, I have unplugged from the rat race that is “the next best thing” . I no longer stare at my glitchy screen, excited to replace it with the newer model that isn’t that different. Instead, I ask, how can I make this work for me? Minimalism has ingrained in me the impact that my actions have on the earth and fellow mankind. My iPhone was not made by a robot, it was assembled by underpaid people whose work I value. The coltan used to make the capacitors that power so many of our electronics is mined by Congolese workers who live in a war zone that was destabilized by the west so they could have cheap and easy access to Congo’s resources.

So, here is how I keep it simple:

  1. Can I repair what I already have?
  2. Do I really need it? How will it serve me/bring me joy?
  3. Can I buy it secondhand/refurbished?
  4. Can it be traded or borrowed?
  5. Get a warranty if I must get it brand new

Asking these questions is a good way to establish whether or not the item is worth the hustle. As for tech we typically already own, here is how I handle it.

TV

  1. Ditch cable and instead share streaming services among friends/loved ones
  2. Mount the TV to a stud in the wall to clear up space in living areas. TV stands are hubs for collecting clutter.
  3. Digitize DVD’s and CD’s and purchase digital copies

Phone

  1. Buy it second hand/refurbished if possible
  2. Get screen repaired if it cracks and do a factory reset if its acting glitchy to extend its life and get a good case if you are a clutz like me.
  3. Get a new battery if its not charging well

Apps

  1. Improve digital clutter by arranging like apps and content in folders together
  2. Your library card is key to so many cool free apps that you may be paying for: Hoopla and Overdrive for ebooks and audiobooks Libby for audiobooks. Mango for language learning.

Hope this helps

Peace,

Farai

My Raised Bed Garden

One of my ultimate goals in life is to grow my own food. As an ex-black thumb, I had to shed the idea that I couldn’t keep plants alive.That began with me drilling holes in a few plastic tubs and planting some seeds and seedlings. That was last year. This year, my successes and fails (R.I.P. to the extremely overwatered tomato plant of 2017) bolstered my courage to get a little more adventurous with my garden. This led to my foray into raised bed gardening.

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If you follow me on instagram , then you are privy to some of the ups and downs that went into creating the garden. It has been an extremely rewarding and challenging labor of love. In a nutshell, My husband and I sectioned of a part of our yard, laid down some landscaping fabric to kill the grass. We then used cinderblocks to form our garden bed outline which we then secured with rebar and then filled with good quality garden soil. We also fenced the garden in to keep our dogs and the neighborhood bunnies out.

What we planted:

  • Spaghetti Squash
  • Zuccini
  • Cucumber
  • 2 types of Lettuce
  • Different types of peppers
  • 2 types of cauliflower
  •  Brocolli
  • Collard Greens
  • Kale
  • Spinach (which I already killed)
  • 2 kinds of Rosemary
  • 2 kinds of Sage
  • Lemonbalm
  • Oregano
  • Mint
  • Chamomile
  • Lavender (which I am killing)
  • 3 kinds of tomato (Duke my dog has already murdered two tomato plants)
  • Cilantro
  • Eucalyptus (in their own containers doing well)
  • Strawberries (In a hanging basket)
  • Blueberry (bought as a struggling seedling on clearance, I am hoping it pulls through. It has its own fenced off area elsewhere in the yard)

I wanted to learn how to grow the foods we eat daily as well as produce I don’t buy as often as I’d like because of the steep price tag of buying them organic. Hence the variety. As a gardening newbie, I am being gentle with myself as I learn how to plant, take care and harvest each plant. If I was more organized I would keep a plant diary but I am not there yet.

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Supplies used:

  • Only the spinach and kale came from my own purchased seeds. The rest were purchased as seedlings from local greenhouses/garden sales or given to me by community members.
  • The cinderblock, rebar, fencing, landscaping fabric, and mulch were all purchased from a local hardware store.
  • The yummy garden soil was also purchased locally.
  • A hose to water the plants.
  • A can-do attitude.

Cool Stuff that has happened :

  • I have already cooked meals and made salads with the spinach, lettuce, and tomato from the garden. I am enjoying watching everything grow.
  • Fun fact about me, I am obsessed with mushrooms and would like to study Mycology indepth one day. For now I get to ooh and aahh over all the cool mushrooms that have sprouted from the healthy soil in the garden.

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Challenges:

  • Pests decimating my collard greens and cauliflower leaves. I now know to spray a solution of Diatomaceous earth on the leaves and check for the creepy bastards each morning.
  • The ladybugs and praying mantises I purchased as natural pest control took off and left me high and dry.

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Dried DE solution on a leaf that a bug took a bite out of. 

If you can’t tell by this post, I am having a blast nurturing my green thumb. I hope this inspires anyone who thinks they can’t garden to give it a try. We should all get cosy with Mother Nature when we can.

Peace and Compost

Farai