Organic Melinda

healthy living with a Latin twist


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Day 29 – Somersaults

Dear Little Acrobat of Mine,

After my interview with Tasleem Jamila of Radio Islam where she and I discussed living gmo-free, supporting local farms, and my services, you and I had a ton of fun this afternoon.

I took you on a trip to the backyard and brought you to stand in the sun for a little while.

Afterwards, we came back home, and I played with you in bed. I would place the blanket over my head and you would lift it up and laugh so hard.

Then, we could go under the blanket together. You would giggle and put your feet in my face telling me to kiss your toes.

I tickled you as you laughed and laughed some more.

We sang capoeira songs. Now, you know two songs – la la la eu and oi sim sim sim oi nao nao nao. You sing them on your own, clap your hands, and then make me join along.

you and Daddy doing capoeira

During one of these moments, you did your very first somersault, today!

I am so proud of how athletic you are at only 18 months old.

You are flourishing so quickly and getting so smart.

Of course, you’re still my baby girl as you demand kisses and cuddles.

You always want to fall asleep in my arms and stay there the whole time you’re napping.

I am usually happy to oblige.

I have to breastfeed you, now, so I have to go.

With a boobie in your mouth,

Mami Loves You

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About this Series:
In honor of Latino Heritage Month, I will write 30 letters for 30 days to my beautiful daughter. This series is entitled, Mami Loves You. In these letters, I will tell her about the world around her, and reflect on her development.

Each Tuesday and Thursday, I will honor a Latina woman that I believe is a great role model for my daughter to admire. Through these letters, I pay homage to my role as a mother, and I will teach my daughter about one of the cultures that has birthed her.

To Subscribe to the series Mami Loves You, follow the link: http://mamilovesyou.com/ and fill out the form.


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Day 26 – Mujeres Poderosas – Valesca Macedo (Contra Mestre Loba)

To My Inspiration,

They say that people with goals seldom sleep.  They leave the dreaming to others while they build their realities.

As I watch the sunrise through a grey sky full of clouds, I reflect on what makes women role models. Particularly, I think about the common traits that the women who inspire me possess.

They are kind, determined, self-loving, nurturing, authentic, and hard working.

Today’s Mujer (or rather Mulher) Poderosa is my capoeira teacher, mentor, and friend, Valesca Macedo  (Contra Mestre Loba of Grupo Senzala de Capoeira).

Valesca possesses all of these qualities and many more.

Valesca and her son.

 

I learned about CM Loba when I attended a Grupo Senzala batizado in 2010.  She was the first female capoeirista that I had seen climb the ranks as I had the privilege of witnessing her receive her contra mestre cordao.

In the roda, she was sharp – a total badass – holding her own against men twice her size. I was enamored by her strength and agility in the roda.

It took over three years, however, and me being part of two other capoeira groups before I had the privilege to train under CM Loba.

Upon becoming a member of Grupo Senzala, I was determined to train under a woman, particularly, with CM Loba.

I joined Evolution Fitness just to take her capoeira classes, but then I began to take all of her classes – Step, Butt, Legs and Thighs, and Butts, Guts & More.

In those classes, she is Valesca. During capoeira class, she is CM Loba.

Valesca’s energy was infectious. I found myself getting in shape super fast. Not only was she great at motivating us to push ourselves during class, she was also kind and always willing to provide advice for anyone who had a question.

In capoeira class, she has been patient with me as I transition from my previous capoeira styles into hers and as I recover from physical injury. And, of course, she pushes me to be better and better.

Valesca is all about female empowerment, and she gets super excited when our capoeira classes are all-women.

Through my experiences  with women like her, I have learned to value the importance of female companionship and camaraderie.

As if teaching tons of fitness classes weren’t enough, Valesca is also an entrepreneur, a mother, and she is currently training to be a Bikini Fitness Model.

It is super exciting to see her body transformation these past few months, and she is a constant reminder of my own fitness goals.

While I have only formally been Valesca’s student since March of this year, I am sure that this friendship will last a lifetime.

I am honored to be in the presence of such an inspiring woman who can kick ass and look super hot while doing it.

Valesca is a role model for you because she embodies strength and femininity, physical fitness and gentleness, and toughness and kindness.

I look forward to when you are old enough to take capoeira classes with her.

Axe,

Mami Loves You

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About this Series:

In honor of Latino Heritage Month, I will write 30 letters for 30 days to my beautiful daughter. This series is entitled, Mami Loves You. In these letters, I will tell her about the world around her, and reflect on her development.

Each Tuesday and Thursday, I will honor a Latina woman that I believe is a great role model for my daughter to admire. Through these letters, I pay homage to my role as a mother, and I will teach my daughter about one of the cultures that has birthed her.

To Subscribe to the series Mami Loves You, follow the link: http://mamilovesyou.com/ and fill out the form.


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Day 22 – Capoeira Cuddles

To My Little Girl,

Today was a wonderful day.

Mami and Daddy took you to a Kids’ Festival on Ferry Street, because Grupo Senzala de Capoeira was doing a capoeira presentation for children.

Daddy will be teaching capoeira soon, so it was an opportunity to inform people about our group and advertise the classes.

I think you were over-stimulated by all of the music, people, and events going on at the same time, because you were holding on to Daddy and I for dear life.

Daddy held you for a long time and lifted you up, so you could watch the folkloric dances.  He was cuddling with you and bouncing you on his shoulder to help you relax.

You looked so happy with him.  I love that you get to have your Daddy in your life.

Then, I held you for a while before we did the performance.

After the events were over, we had dinner and you kept taking food from my plate.  Daddy had a slice of cake and you took it from him. It was pretty funny.

You’re, also, learning so many words.  You say “boobie,” “mine,” and “dayyyuum.” Thank Daddy for teaching you that last one.

You have also started saying a few sentences, like “where you go?”

I love watching you and Daddy interact.

Every day, you look more and more like him.

Now, you are sleeping after an afternoon of fun.

Thank you for all that you are, and for your hugs, smiles, and kisses.

Gratefully,

Mami Loves You

—-
About this Series:

In honor of Latino Heritage Month, I will write 30 letters for 30 days to my beautiful daughter. This series is entitled, Mami Loves You. In these letters, I will tell her about the world around her, and reflect on her development.

Each Tuesday and Thursday, I will honor a Latina woman that I believe is a great role model for my daughter to admire. Through these letters, I pay homage to my role as a mother, and I will teach my daughter about one of the cultures that has birthed her.

To Subscribe to the series Mami Loves You, follow the link: http://mamilovesyou.com/ and fill out the form.


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Day 21 – Living in Boxes

To My Hope Manifested,

I have moved every single year for as long as I can remember.    I have things that I’ve collected throughout the years – books, art, paintings, and writings.

I have long wished that, one day, I will have a house of my own with a large library displaying the works of poets like Pablo Neruda, Martin Espada, and Walt Whitman. I wanted to sit in the sacredness of that space reading the words of Kurt Vonnegut and imagining what it takes to write like him.

I envisioned an art room displaying the works of women that I have come to know and love, like Mia Roman, who I talked about a week ago.

I’ve so badly wanted to have spaces for the arts in my home – a music room and a capoeira room, too.

What has resulted in my life, instead, has been many, many boxes as your Daddy likes to remind me and complain about.  He says, he refuses to move these boxes, once again, when we find our own apartment. So, I am faced with the reality that I must downsize and give up so many of those dreams I held as a child.

My library will be a book shelf, perhaps, and my art room, a space in my mind.

But, this is a fading moment in time.

I will rebuild, some day, and, hopefully, know what it means to have a home of my own.

I do not want you to grow up feeling like you belong nowhere.

I know that a house is just a set of walls, but there is a safeness that comes with returning to a home.

At least, I imagine that there must be, because I have never known such a place.

What matters most now is to build memories and let go of the items that I thought would signify success.

Remember, life is less about what you have and more about what you build within you.

Humbly,

Mami Loves You

 

—-
About this Series:

In honor of Latino Heritage Month, I will write 30 letters for 30 days to my beautiful daughter. This series is entitled, Mami Loves You. In these letters, I will tell her about the world around her, and reflect on her development.

Each Tuesday and Thursday, I will honor a Latina woman that I believe is a great role model for my daughter to admire. Through these letters, I pay homage to my role as a mother, and I will teach my daughter about one of the cultures that has birthed her.

To Subscribe to the series Mami Loves You, follow the link: http://mamilovesyou.com/ and fill out the form.


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Becoming a Healthier Me

Health, to me, is holistic. It includes your body, yes, but also your mind, heart, and spirit.

Physical health will quickly deteriorate if you are experiencing anxiety, financial difficulty, stress, and fear.

This year, I have made a lot of gains (or losses) when it comes to my weight.  I went from 162 pounds post-partum to 129 pounds, but I haven’t been as healthy as I want to be.

In Progress

In Progress

Emotional eating has been a really big struggle for me this year. I tend to turn to food when I am anxious or overwhelmed with my situation.  But, the tips that Yaritza, Lori, and I came up with have been helping me overcome emotional eating.

Now, I want to make greater strides for my mental health – end my anxious mind.

Exercise is an essential part of that.

I began doing yoga this month, and, mostly, for the spiritual aspect of it.  Holding each stance forces us to quiet our minds and be at peace with the limitations of our own bodies.

Limitations, have, especially, been hard for me this year, because I am used to being strong and capable of taking care of myself.

A car accident in May left me with spinal damage, and I came to discover that I have nerve damage in my left hand.

The goal, now, is to strengthen the nerve in my hand and re-align my spine, so that I can continue my journey towards physical fitness.

Yoga will strengthen my core and improve my flexibility, so that I can do what I really want to do – CAPOEIRA!

I have started doing capoeira, again, but I have lost a lot of my stamina and endurance due to the months that I had to take off from practice. I am also not physically able to do a full range of motions without being in pain later.  I have to be super careful with all that I do and ensure that I do not get hit.  It’s been frustrating that I cannot even play the pandeiro for more than a few minutes because my hand weakens super fast, now.

I really want to go back to the basics of capoeira and re-learn the movements.

So many capoeiristas are in a rush with their careers. For me, I just love the strum of the berimbau and the total feeling of connectedness to the universe that I feel while I am swaying in the roda.

Capoeira is a place of peace for me, which replenishes my mind and spirit while toning my body.

My mental health is my primary concern, right now, because I want to be a conscious parent while raising my little girl.

I know that eating well, exercising, meditation, and self-control are the foundation that I need to be a good, sane, stable mother and a good role model.

On the physical front, I really want to get toned – like super toned.

My original goal prior to my car accident was to compete in a Fitness competition in the Bikini Category.  I had started preparing for it, and had to quickly halt the process.

The doctors have put me on severe no weightlifting restrictions, right now, though, due to herniated discs in my spine, but I am convinced that I will be able to tone my body without necessarily lifting weights.

As my financial and living situation improve, which I know they will, soon, I will really be able to dedicate myself to the craft of bodybuilding and represent vegan bodybuilders and Latinas on that stage.

I have to remember that every meal I consume will either heighten or hamper my chances at strutting myself on that stage.

I want to body build, because I just want to see what my body is fully capable of.  I want to feel like a warrior – strong and confident.

A long time ago, I dedicated myself to being a lot more than just average, and I am on that journey.

Being a #healthyme is vital to being a #successfulme.


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Day 7 – Capoeira Love

To My Sleeping Beauty,

It has been a long day, today, and one when I am super grateful for all that capoeira has brought into my life.

Capoeira gave me you, of course.

This morning, Mami did a presentation in Newark to inform the local community about Organic Melinda.

I had a total duh moment when I realized that most of the community in Ironbound Newark speaks only Spanish and Portuguese and all of my flyers were in English.

Note to self: Translate LIVE to Spanish.

I served green smoothies to anyone who would take them and explained my mission: to make healthy, non-gmo food available to everyone.

When that was done, I went home to take care of you. We washed clothes together and then headed to a roda with Grupo Senzala.

It was a great roda, and I got to play a lot. I thank you for your musical spirit and your patience to let mami have a fun day of capoeira.

We also went out to dinner at a Mexican restaurant.

As I watched people interact with you, I was so happy for you.

You get to live your whole life always knowing the strum of the berimbau, forever recognizing the beat of the atabaque and pandeiro. You will have access to axe all of the days of your life.

I hope that the capoeira community will be part of your long-term family for many years to come.

I wish for you the peace and joy that I feel with every cha-cha-ding-dong-dong.

Axe meu bebe,
Mami Loves You

—-
About this Series:

In honor of Latino Heritage Month, I will write 30 letters for 30 days to my beautiful daughter. This series is entitled, Mami Loves You. In these letters, I will tell her about the world around her, and reflect on her development.

Each Tuesday and Thursday, I will honor a Latina woman that I believe is a great role model for my daughter to admire. Through these letters, I pay homage to my role as a mother, and I will teach my daughter about one of the cultures that has birthed her.

To Subscribe to the series Mami Loves You, follow the link: http://mamilovesyou.com/ and fill out the form.


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Capoeira é Meu Amor (Capoeira is my love)

Sem capoeira eu não posso viver
Sou peixe fora do mar
Passarinho sem voar
Dia sem escurecer

Without capoeira, I cannot live
I am a fish outside of the ocean
A bird without flight
Day without night

Capoeira is, in so many ways, my life force.  Without capoeira, so much of my life would not be what it is, today. I would have never met the most important people in my life. My daughter would not have been born.  Capoeira has changed my life in the most beautiful of ways.

Capoeira is the secret to the pep in my step. It is what grounds me in the hardest of days.  Capoeira is life, love, and FREEDOM.

It is, also, of course, exercise, but so much more than that.

People have asked me how I managed to stay in shape throughout my difficult pregnancy, and how I was able to bounce back (within a year) post-partum.  Eating healthy, real food was an important part of that; however, without exercise, you’re only half way there.  Capoeira is, also, an essential part of my overall health and wellness.

In this post, I would like to share my capoeira journey with all of my awesome readers!

I began doing capoeira in August of 2009, which apparently makes it FOUR years, now.  How INSANE!

However, my knowledge of capoeira predates my actual start by over 10 years.  I began learning about capoeira when I was a child because I was born and raised in the Ironbound section of Newark, New Jersey.

I used to live right across the street from a capoeira studio all throughout elementary, middle, and high school.  I would often hear the strumming of the berimbau and the clapping hands from my backyard. I yearned to learn it, to be a part of it, to experience it; however, it just was not financially feasible for my mom to pay for the classes for me.

In 2009, I had the wonderful privilege of working as an assistant for the artist, Vikki Michalios (www.michalios.com), and her daughters were participating in capoeira in her neighborhood.  Vikki informed me that there was a capoeira club at Rutgers’ University- New Brunswick, where I was headed to in the Fall of 2009 for graduate school.

Once at Rutgers, I met Ria Das Gupta, one of the leading founders and dancers for Kalamandir Dance Co (www.kalamandirdanceco.com/), who has also been doing capoeira for many years. Ria insisted I come check out the group, Capoeira Maranhao under, then, Professor Maranhao.

After my first class, I was completely and utterly in love!

I continued to train with Professor Maranhao for the duration of my time at Rutgers, and I had two batizados with him.

my first cordao w/ Mestre Lobao

My first capoeira padrino was Mestre Lobao, who is one of the kindest souls I have met. He has so much patience with beginner capoeira students, and I was honored for him to give me my first cordao!

In the first picture, you can see that I was quite a bit heavier than in my second capoeira batizado, below.  Professor Maranhao’s intense capoeira classes surely whipped me into shape!

my 2nd Batizado with Mestre Lobao

It was through capoeira that I met my daughter’s father, a 7 year student of capoeira, Kris “Lobo Mau” Hunte.  Capoeira was a primary reason why we fell in love. With his capoeira knowledge, I was able to learn so much more of the art. We would train 6 times a week together, and it was through him that I discovered ANGOLA!

Lobo Mau and I would travel all over the place to capoeira events – Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, and Florida were just some of the states we hit up along with going to local events in New Jersey almost every single weekend.  And, it was also through him that I met my second capoeira family, Capoeira Guerreiros where I trained with Formado Negao for some time.

Capoeira Guerreiros

When I get pregnant, the capoeira community was incredibly supportive.  Teachers would modify their movements for me, and encourage me to play in the roda.  It was a great experience, as we were all determined that my daughter love capoeira even before birth.

Lobo Mau and I playing capoeira when I was about 35 weeks pregnant.

The capoeira community was so accepting of me as a new mother and a pregnant woman that Lobo Mau and I decided to have a capoeira themed baby shower where we began the event by playing in the roda together.  So, ladies, do please note that you CAN exercise while pregnant. Just be careful.

After the Newark chapter of Capoeira Guerreiros was closed for a few months, Lobo Mau joined Grupo Senzala de Capoeira, our current capoeira family, who have been just as loving, kind and accepting as every capoeira group that I have had a pleasure of visiting. The entirety of the capoeira community is constant love and acceptance with a little butt-kicking to keep you in check.

At Lobo Mau’s batizado last fall, Mestre Zumbi surprised me with a cordao to welcome me into his capoeira family, which was an incredible honor for me.  At the time, I was not sure where I would train and was very humbled by Mestre Zumbi’s immediate acceptance of my little family into his wonderful group.  Lobo Mau trains with Mestre Zumbi of Grupo Senzala, and I train with Contra Mestre Loba of Grupo Senzala.

While the number of women capoeira mestres and high-chords is still small, we are taking the capoeira world by storm! Women are definitely becoming the fastest growing group of capoeiristas and we are establishing ourselves as formidable opponents in the roda.

Evidence of this is the annual Women’s Encounter hosted by Madame from Ginga Brasil under Mestre Pinga Fogo. I had the privilege of attending this past year, and I learned so much about how women’s bodies work in the roda and how to use our bodies to help us in challenging movements, especially ones requiring the upper body.

me at the Capoeira Women’s Encounter hosted by Madame from Ginga Brasil

Capoeira is martial arts, maculele, samba, Portuguese, Brasil, music, art, freedom and so much more.  Without it, I would not be who I am today.

I am grateful to Capoeira Maranhao, Capoeira Guerreiros and Grupo Senzala for allowing me to be part of their families as I grow and become a better capoerista every day of my life.

Lobo Mau and I in samba de roda