Organic Melinda

healthy living with a Latin twist


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Day 23 – Lluvia

To My Sleeping Child,

In honor of today, I will write you a poem.

Hush child, sleep

Sleep upon my skin

Hush child, sleep

Lose yourself in sounds so sweet

Hush and be calm

Let’s rejoice in the hum of silence

Hush and be calm

Place your hand upon my cheek

Dream child, dream

Dream of days gone past

Dream child, dream

Dream of the future you will come to know

Dream and have hope

Manifest internal growth and peace

Dream and have hope

Trust in the natural cycle of things

Smile child, smile

Sleep

Hush

Be calm

And dream, for all there’s is hope

On this rainy day, I feel a quietude in my spirit. You lay on my lap, caressing my cheek, trying to reach my hair, and I listen to the suckling sounds of your mouth on your thumb.

I am trying to build a future for us.

May it manifest, my sweet.

In Eternal Bond,

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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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


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Where Can I buy Organic in Newark, NJ? – Review of Question Mart/ ?uestion Mart

Living in an inner city with a limited income can create many barriers to accessing affordable organic food options. If you don’t own a vehicle, it becomes extra difficult.  In Newark, NJ, which is where I was born, raised and currently live, Question Mart/ ?uestion Mart has opened to fulfill the need for local access to organic products.

I discovered Question Mart/ ?uestion Mart after launching a complaint on my personal Facebook page about the lack of organic foods in the city.  Stop & Shop was two bus rides away from me, and the local Pathmark only carries very limited organic produce, which is very over-priced.  I, often, had to call in a favor to get a ride to the nearest supermarket with ample organic produce, which is a 25-30 minute drive from my house.  I was super excited when a friend mentioned Question Mart/ ?uestion Mart, and I decided to talk a walk from my house in the Ironbound section of Newark to Question Mart/ ?uestion Mart.  It was a nice, warm day and a great opportunity to take my daughter for a walk in her stroller, get some light exercise, and see what Question Mart/ ?uestion Mart had to offer my taste buds.

Located at 392 Broad Street near the heart of Newark’s business district, Question Mart/ ?uestion Mart is easily accessible by walking. You can also take the Newark Light Rail to the location from Newark Penn Station and get off near the Newark Main Library.  The market is located near the entrance/exit for route 280 on Broad Street by the Newark Bears’ Stadium. It is also easily accessible by bus since many lines run on Broad Street.  The hours of operation are 8:00 am to 7:00 pm Eastern Time on Monday thru Friday, 9:00 am to 7:00 pm on Saturday, and 9:00 am to 6:00 pm on Sunday.

When I first walked in to Question Mart/ ?uestion Mart, the first thing I noticed was a single step to get into the supermarket, which I required that I lift up my daughter’s stroller.  It was easy enough for me to do so, but I imagine this could pose a problem for someone in a wheelchair or with a disability.  I would recommend that the owners put a ramp where the step is to make it wheelchair accessible.

Personally, I judge a market by its availability of produce.  I prefer to eat fresh produce in every one of my meals.  I do eat some grains, but I avoid boxed, packaged, and canned food.  I do consume them on occasion, but I try to eat food as close to its natural state as possible.    Question Mart/ ?uestion Mart’s produce section was very small for my preferences (see Figure 1), but it did carry some staple items.  There were broccoli, carrots, corn, nectarines, apples, pears, watermelon, and a few other items. Not all items, however, were organic, which is not necessarily a problem on its own.  I will talk more about the politics of organic labeling in a future post.  There were quite a few locally sourced produce items, but all in all, the produce section was quite small for my taste.  It lacked ample greens, which are my favorite thing in a market.  However, with a farmers’ market located a short walk away during the summer months, this is not a real problem for me.

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Figure 1

I was very excited to see environmentally friendly household and personal products (see Figure 2) at Question Mart/ ?uestion Mart, which are things I usually have to travel 20+ minutes away to get, as well.  I will definitely consider going to Question Mart/ ?uestion Mart when I need to restock on household products.

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Figure 2

There is no shortage of packaged organic goods, which I know many people are a fan of for reasons of convenience.  I purchased a package of flour to bake vegetable bread for my daughter.  I noticed that Question Mart/ ?uestion Mart carries a mix of both organic and conventional products.  You will see Eden Organics side by side with Goya products (see Figure 3).

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Figure 3

The freezer section (see Figure 4) also has a mixture of organic and conventional products.  As a vegan, it was great to see that the store carried vegan items as there tends to be a shortage of vegan options in Newark.    There were also quite a few drinks in the refrigerator, including one of my favorite coconut waters by Harmless Harvest (see Figure 5).

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Figure 4

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Figure 5

While I wish that Question Mart/ ?uestion Mart had a much larger produce section for the winter months and for days when the farmers’ markets are not in Newark, it is definitely a step forward in this wonderful Renaissance City.  Question Mart/ ?uestion Mart gets the Organic Melinda stamp of approval for being one of the first markets to actively promote organic produce in Newark, NJ and for carrying affordable options that are easily accessible to the Newark population as well as the wonderful and friendly customer service that I received.  Thank you Question Mart/ ?uestion Mart for doing your part to end food insecurity in our great city.

All photos taken by Organic Melinda (Melinda Gonzalez).