I was born in southern California and traveled thousands of miles to a new home on Guam and back again, all before I was five years old. I’ve called New Orleans, Philadelphia, Yokosuka (Japan), Naples (Italy), New York City, and Aguadilla (Puerto Rico) home (to name a few). I began this nomad life before I could walk. I just turned thirty and there’s no end in sight.
One of my earliest memories is of playing on an expansive, flat, blacktop play yard with hundreds of children in the city of Philadelphia alongside a young girlfriend of mine who wore a bright purple hijab. I had no clue at the time her head covering made us different. I remember her having brown skin like me, tons of energy, and strength far exceeding her thin frame. In my young eyes, she was simply a girl, just like I was…
This idea of seeing a woman for who she is, and not where she’s from has stuck with me to this day.
My longest friendship has been with a sweet, fair-skinned Puerto Rican. Looking at her you’d easily assume she was a white American woman. When she speaks English your thoughts would be confirmed. But when you meet her sister, parents, and listen to her speak in her language, you’d be reminded that skin color tells you little about a person and can lead you to preconceived ideas and judgments.
As a woman, my identity has been shaped more by the diverse group of ladies who’ve entered and touched my life, maybe even more so than the American women of my same race and heritage. For many years I wondered how I fit into the Black American diaspora.
I had very few relatable experiences. I navigated the world as a military brat. My family lived thousands of miles away from the US for most of my formative years. I didn’t know or listen to popular music and I wasn’t aware of the slang or terms within the black community. As a teen and as I matured into womanhood my speech was pickled with Mediterranean Sea salt.
In 2004 I graduated from high school in Naples, Italy and soon trekked off on a new journey in the military. I wanted to continue to see the world while also pursuing my passion for healthcare. My first home as an adult was New York City, and my definition of distinctive identity was broadened and blurred.
As I began to navigate adulthood and date, I realized I was different. My awareness was different. I was attracted to and pulled toward men with international backgrounds as well; men who related to my Third Culture self. I never realized this until now.
I also soon recognized I struggled to make friends. Not only was I disconnected from the Black American diaspora, but the American way as a whole was foreign to me. I soon discovered, however, that I found comfort and ease in friendships with those who valued diverse identity. They weren’t looking for someone to relate to, but someone to acquire something from. I quickly learned that is what I longed for as well. As much as I valued the connection with the men who related to my Third Culture background, what I truly yearned for was a discovery, immersion, and respite within my own American identity. One that probably looked very different than my peers. I welcomed the consciousness that my identity as a black woman would be distinctly my own.
When I met my husband, ten years ago, I found a portal into an all-American identity more foreign to me than my Black American one. My husband hails from Texas, where the border kisses Oklahoma. His family history is deep. fried. south. Their drawl is long and their Big Texas pride runs deep. While we were dating, each new conversation with him was a lesson, and to this day I still sit at his feet in wonder when he shares family stories.
In 2013, I began my journey as a mother and entrepreneur. We lived in a small surf town of expats, military, and locals in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. The first tastes of food on my daughter’s lips were fresh bread and hummus made by an Israeli man, and arroz con gandules made by Puerto Rican friends. While my first clients called Puerto Rico home, they were women living and birthing Third Culture identities of their own.
As I began to build my tribe as a mother and business owner, I discovered the most empowering friendships weren’t formed with those who were simply like me, but those likened to me.
Ones who valued diversity, were confident in their mosaic identity, and were open to weaving their lives in with mine, and vice versa. They subtly revealed to me their secrets to navigating life, love, and business. As I searched for a theme and phrase that clearly represented my blog, shoppe, and lactation services, I came back to this understanding: I wanted to share stories of women living their way, based on their convictions, even if outside the mainstream. I wanted to offer pieces in my shoppe that showcased the talents of artisans across continents. And I wanted my services to meet the needs of women navigating motherhood in their own unique way.
Connecting With & Inspiring A Global Tribe of Women is the name of my blog and audience, and the focus of all my efforts. Mothering Naturally is the name of my lactation practice, which stems from my belief that in motherhood we must rest in our own way of mothering – the way that is most natural to us. I believe the way to enjoying all you do is to bask in the fact that you will do it differently.
As I fathomed how I could harness the knowledge I’d accumulated over the course of almost thirty years, thirteen countries, nine years of marriage, two children, and too many homes to count, I began to create my current website. I wanted it to be a place where a motley crew of mamas, makers, wanderlusters, and world changers could come and tell their story. They could also come and hear the voyage of other women. Some who looked like them or came from similar backgrounds, but mainly women with a common thread of unbridled passion and drive. I wanted it to be a place where I could encourage and be inspired by women all around the world who were journeying through motherhood, business, travel and philanthropic work.
I hope to tug on the thread that connects all women: our passion to leave a legacy for future generations, to feel empowered in our passage through motherhood, a curiosity for adventure, and a love for creating, whether it be with our hands or with our minds.
As our time on Guam nears its end, I find myself giddy for a new adventure but sad to leave my local tribe. Whether we return to Puerto Rico or head to a new city within the continental U.S is still unclear; but what I find rest in is the fact that the lessons I’ve learned here on this tropical island, and the many places I’ve called home, have been forever branded on my heart and within my mind. I know that wherever I end up I will connect with a new group of women and our desires, struggles, and love for community will bind us together, even if only for a season.