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Friday Flow: Where are you from?

Nearly everyday someone asks me what should be a simple question to answer…”Where are you from?”
After years of feeling anxious about giving the proper answer, I’ve finally discovered an answer I feel comfortable with.
“A little bit of everywhere, but the last place I lived the longest, and my hometown is in upstate New York. Where are you from?”

Where is your hometown? Is it where your parents live? What if you’re parents moved from the place you grew up? Is it the place where you were born? What if you were born there but grew up elsewhere? Or is it simply where you make your home? These are the sort of questions that use to fuel the anxiety I felt about knowing where I was “from.”

Luckily for me my family continues to live in the town I came of age in…for me that feels like where I’m from. I lived there from the age of 10 to when I left at 18. It’s only “the last place I lived the longest” by 2 years, but certainly the time I spent there was a significant time period in my life. Coming of age is when you learn how to cope with emotions, embrace change, and little by little discover who you want to be. There’s just something about the land where all my significant “firsts” occurred that stirs up that nostalgic feeling. The knowing, comfortable, trust this place ’cause it be HOME.

Right now, I live in a beautiful Rocky Mountain town in the South East corner of British Columbia, Canada called Fernie. You can imagine the response I get when I confidently answer the question in discussion.
“Oh…you’re American? How’d you wind up here?”
It seems I can’t ever answer the question without going into a detailed history of the path that brought me to where I’m at. Not that I have a problem with that, it’s just interesting that for me this type of interaction is never a short exchange.

Then there’s the unknowing aspect to the question “Where are you from?” that leads me to wonder if the person asking is trying to discover my roots. Which in my case, stirs up a whole ‘nother pot of emotions. I’m adopted, and I don’t precisely know the origin of my ethnicity. I’m sure that’s okay, but it makes me uncomfortable. I wish I knew for sure.  Just like I wish I knew if a person is trying to discover my hometown, or my roots.

Just after the new year I felt different roots begin to grow. From deep within my soul came a stirring of hope, faith, and determination. All of a sudden I felt the strongest need to connect with other women of colour. It wasn’t just a passing thought, it was like I was missing a part of me that I never knew. The strong desire, and my passion for natural childbirth and mama wellness inspired an online conference for black women. Birth Herstory 2013 Uniting Women of Colour in Celebration of Black History Month. Organizing, networking, and connecting with so many black women, who shared my passion was one of the most amazing experiences of my life! I created that for myself! I had a strong vision that my work would manifest a sisterhood for me, which it has, but the vision I held at the start was very different than the brief online interactions I have with conference speakers and attendees. I wanted commUNITY!

My friend and mentor Karen Brody said…”Girl you’ve got to start the conversation! You’re not the only woman feeling this way!”
I get goosebumps thinking about that advice! I knew it was true, but here I am 3 whole months after Birth Herstory 2013, and I’m only just ready to connect with ya’ll.  What held me back? Not knowing where I’m “from.” One of the characteristics of others and for myself that I hold high expectations of is authenticity. What’s a Canadian black girl, raised by a white family, living in a mountain town going to offer to a sisterhood of black women? That felt about as inauthentic as I could imagine! After three months of growing, discovering, accepting, and embracing new life (I’ll get to that) I figured it out! I’m on a journey, and maybe ya’ll want to follow along.
For the next 6 months I’ll be sharing the story of finding my birth family, discovering “Where my people are from” and shining some light on my pregnancy and birth journey. I’m having my third child in November and I want this pregnancy, birth, and mama wellness to be SOULFUL! I just have this feeling that I was born to shine!

Link up HERE for your Friday Flow Spoken Word. Join me next week as I write about the steps I’ve taken to start the search for my birth family…

Do you wanna follow my journey? Leave a comment below and  if you want tell me how you answer these questions: Where are you from? Where are your people from? What does ‘home’ mean for you?

Shine On!
Tanya