#SantaTatianna: Mother Divine & Baby Magick


Name: Tatianna

Birth place: Fortuna, California

Current Residency: New Orleans, Louisiana

Occupation: Owner of MyUrbanIllumination.com, Tarot Reader & Healer/Spiritual Therapist

What was your upbringing? What is your cultural background?

I was raised in Brooklyn, NY my whole life - my parents were in the military when they had me and immediately flew back home once I arrived but divorced shortly after. As a result, my father gained full custody and i never established a relationship with my mother’s family until recently. My father’s end is predominantly Puerto Rican, with heavy Afro-Taino heritage & some Spaniard + Chilean influences, whereas my mother is Black, Native American, Polynesian w/ Indonesian roots. I grew up in the hood, living in the projects of Bedstuy and absolutely loving every minute of it. It was a melting pot of blacks and latinos so I had the best of both worlds & culture in my home. My father is an artist and was very adamant on exposing me to other forms of life, art, music, and cultures one could not access in the hood at a very young age, so we always spent our weekends visiting museums, traveling or doing fun activities that kept my brain sharp.

Are any of the women or men in your family (ancestors included) involved in spiritual work/divination?

My father is technically an open Medium but a non-practicing one. It’s a skillset that suddenly came to him once my grandfather passed and he’s still navigating its realms but it’s definitely one that intimidates him and one that he has no control of. He’s the only one I’m aware of from that lineage that has been consciously open to the spirit world and spirit work, but hasn’t truly dived into it. On my mother’s end, my aunts and uncles have revealed to me that Magick runs heavily in our blood line. My Great-Grandmother & Grandmother practiced the dark arts consciously in their younger years and since seeing the reprocussions of such actions have claimed a more religious life. I have also been told that my Mother has practiced dabbling in magic but I’m not aware of the extent as my family can be hush-hush about these things. I am aware that I had a great-aunt that passed in her younger years and was well versed in Tarot, so it certainly runs on both ends.

So when did you know you were called to this? Do you mind sharing your journey?

Magick has always been a prevalent force in my life. Raised by a Pisces dad, I was exposed to the possibilities of other worlds existing through quantum physics, various ways of connecting to ourselves spiritually and knowing that we’re more than just a physical body. Our home was filled with books on Edgar Cayce, Nostradamus, Buddhism, Taoism, Creative Visualization, How to read Auras and balance Chakras, etc, so I was exposed to spirituality, healing and the power of our minds at a very early age. I was supported to discover my own path in all aspects of life and was allowed freedom to explore whatever spiritual practices and traditions that I most resonated with as long as they came with good & pure intentions. Essentially, I was taught that we are all interconnected and in many ways, most practices if not all, have commonalities that make them the same, just varying in personal mythologies, pathways and perspectives.

Knowing this, I dived into particular practices that I feel best exemplified my connection to the divine. Ancestral wise, my Puerto-Rican grandma always made “remedios,” herbal remedies that were home-made conjure healing tinctures that served to cure or aid people with their intentions because she was raised in “el campo,” which is essentially the nature ghettos of P.R, parts that were deemed “uncivilized” and some what primitive compared to the industrial parts of the land. I gained the love for learning about herbs and mixing my own tinctures and oils from her and our Afro-Latino customs. She is Christian (Catholic) with an open mind, often curious about magic yet held some resistance towards it, especially Santeria since her exposure was generally negative and taboo. Her compassion and acceptance for all walks of life and skepticism towards Santeria, made me more of a curious person to want to dive in and explore African Spirituality and ancestral magic as a tool for self-transformation and healing.

With Tarot in particular, I ended up discover a deck of cards as a child in her home and playing with them as if I could read cards (playing cards mind you). No one ever taught me or introduced me into divination. It was an organic process and an innate attraction that I’ve always had in me. I also would read palms at that age, with no explanation of what i was doing. I thought it was a game at the time and i never questioned why i was playing it, lol. I curiosity of this world kept growing and i would read books on paganism and meditation, worked in spiritual shops from my teens and onward and read there as a Tarot practitioner while learning how to perform spells & ritual work for clients. Spirituality & Magic has always been a part of my life.


What was the event or moment that confirmed this was your calling?

There was never a definitive time where I realized this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I focused a majority of my life dancing professionally and teaching dance, while doing Tarot on the side but it wasn’t until my father mentioned that I could really create it into a great online business, after listening to an NPR interview w/ a woman who had quit her corporate job to start an online tarot business. The impact that my readings have on the lives of others, sustains me and lets me know that I’m serving one of my many purposes. But I believe that I have many callings in life, not just this one.

How did you come up with Urban Illumination?

I got the idea from working in several Metaphysical, Botanica & Spiritual shops throughout the years and feeling like they were missing something. Either the market was wicked gentrified and Spirituality was being sold as a lifestyle gimmick or the environment was unwelcoming or there wasn’t enough education that empowered customers to learn or know more of this world. I envisioned My Urban Illumination as a platform that would appeal those from all walks of life and educate them on various spiritual traditions and practices that can help empower their path, strengthen their connection to Spirit and demystify the truth of these practices. I was inspired by my neighborhood in Bedstuy, and how it would be amazing to have some spiritual outlet in an urban environment that focused on mindfulness, conscious growth and spiritual knowledge of self, hence, My Urban Illumination.

What makes you different from other energy workers?

A couple of things: I’ve been doing this for over 2 decades, so I didn’t just venture into the practice when it became popularized within the past couple of years. Magic has always been a part of my story and life, perhaps that’s why so many people connect with my messages, because i’ve accumulated enough references and experience to write about over time and make it relatable to others on a universal level. I also consider myself a well-rounded person, who has interests and talents other than spiritual/energy work. Sometime energy workers can tie themselves into an identity where they only associate with spiritual matters. I’m a down-to-earth person with many interests and passions that i communicate about and can integrate into my spiritual practice. It’s good for people to know that you’re realistic and approachable, rather than all this love & light fluff. I’m still a Brooklyn girl at heart that’s testing out what she preaches and sometimes gets it wrong too.

What are your rituals to keep yourself balanced and in tuned?

It’s more of the simple things that work for me. I engage in intentional prayer when I wake, over the food and drinks I take and before I sleep, is a must. I take my time in the morning to relax with my fiance and we both check in energetically on how we’re feeling, what we’re setting out to do for the day while eating breakfast, cuddling and pulling each other’s cards. We also pray together regarding what we are grateful for and what we are looking to create in our lives; i see this more of claiming what you want and projecting gratitude and appreciation as well. This keeps us grounded and aware of our ancestors, spirits and higher selves - and is a link that keeps us connected. I take frequent spiritual baths to cleanse myself from all the work and energy I’ve been doing with clients and from picking up around town and I enjoy using spiritual sprays w/ blessed water & herbs as a refreshment. Also, frequently checking in with my Babalawo, which is a close friend of ours, also helps to keep me balanced and on the right path.


What are the various spiritual paths that you pull from to create your own center of beliefs?

I find that all spiritual paths share a common thread, which is their connection to Source energy & that consciousness is embedded in us all. So the study of consciousness & quantum physics, has always been a part of my path from a spiritual/scientific standpoint. It helps me understand the mechanics behind my power as a spirit being in a physical body. I pull predominantly from African-Spiritual practices & belief systems, including Ifa, some Haitian Vodou ideologies and now that i’m in New Orleans, I’m increasingly incorporating Hoodoo practices into my everyday life.

When did you discover you were with child/pregnant? Do you mind sharing your experience? Was it a conscious or unconscious conception?

February 1st, the day that Beyonce made her official announcement with the twins funny enough, I had purchased a pregnancy test that I took while on a quick 15 min break from an online Astrology course I was taking. I had suspicions that I could be pregnant but since Jay & I took precautionary measure, I thought perhaps I could just have have a late cycle - but the test came out positive. It was an overwhelming experience because we didn’t plan it but I can’t say that the baby didn’t go unnoticed. I had received guidance from 4 intuitives/psychics prior to me moving to New Orleans that all picked up on a child. Also the time I had conceived #babymagic was the very same time a year prior that I had experienced a loss, in which I was advised through one my spirit guides that a child would arrive once I could learn from the experience and be more savvy with the spirit realm. I was told that my future child would guide me, so although initially I felt apprehensive about the pregnancy, I quickly grew to accept and love this blessing. This is why I gave her the label #babymagic, because in many ways, she was prophesied to me.


Now that you are soon-to-be mom how has it affected your work?

I’m honoring myself more than ever, whereas I used to throw myself into my work and disregard boundaries, my personal energy and need for breaks. I’ve gotten fearless in communicating my expectations and demands, more creative in my approach, more confident in my own judgement and intuition and certainly more respectful of my time, space and energy - especially now that my daughter is sharing that. I have had a boost of drive and passion, to the point that I can see myself dedicating time to a trillion other side projects but most importantly being pregnant has shown me how to slow down and honor this gradual pace. I’m not working at the same speed as I have before but as result, I’ve been happier and mentally healthier.

Do you mind sharing your expectations and/or fears in becoming a mother?

I expect to conquer it all with my child and to introduce to her that it’s possible with will power, discipline and love. I don’t anticipate slowing down in my path just because I’m a mother, having a child empowers me to do it all and I’m excited to show this world to her, as I didn’t have my own mother to show me. I want her to know the power of magic that lies within her and to guide her in using it to transform the world around her. I have no fears; everything is in divine order and I was made for this.

What have you learned about yourself thus far during your pregnancy?

Ha! This is something Jay and I both learned individually of each other, and that is, we’re too nice. Boundaries were important before but now that I’m in mama lioness mode, they’re more important more than ever. I used to be tactful and direct in delivering my messages but now I don’t care. I’m unapologetic with expressing what I like/ don’t like, who I like and don’t like and taking extra measure to protect myself and my family. I now recognize the power of my voice and everyday the power of my being as a whole. The fact that I have the ability to conceive a child is still surreal to me. It makes me feel unstoppable in many ways, so I’m learning that there’s just so much I can be achieving and I’ve barely scratched the surface.

Has your little one intuitively spoken to you and if so, do you mind sharing one experience you feel comfortable sharing?

She’s speaks all the time, telepathically! I joke to people and say that i’m birthing a dragon, a powerhouse of sorts but I truly believe it. Our connection has been immediate from the start and she contains immense fire energy, an undeniable commanding presence mixed with grace and playful curiosity.


What would you define as a healthy spirit worker?

Someone who can discern what is the truth for themselves and doesn’t force others to follow their views but empowers them to discover their own connection to spirit. They enforce proper boundaries to respect themselves & others.

Define Motherhood

The ability to access an innate energy of possibility and creativity within and to hone that through love, accountability and action. It is acknowledgement and respect towards the responsibilities one has with their manifestations, physical and non-physical and the awareness that they can do it all as a woman. It is the sacrifice one takes to cultivate a better, more conscious version of themselves in their child. It is seeing the beauty in every experience and how that gives birth to something greater in retrospect.

Define Femininity

The ability to flow with what is, trusting in the magic of the universe and to be receptive to one’s power as a channel of spirit. It is the power of being and containing all possibilities in one.

Define Power

The ability to influence others through your own actions, emotions and thoughts. A force that wills us to manifest our dreams and desires.

Define Spirituality

One’s personal connection to the divine and how they perceive themselves as part of the divine.

Define Love

Peaceful acceptance and appreciation of what is. A resonance with your truth and what is right for you.

Define Wisdom

Timeless resources or advice you can use to help you evolve from your current state of being.

What are some words of wisdom you would share for someone pursuing this path?

This path is an ever evolving one. Who you were 2 weeks ago isn’t who you are now, accept that change is inevitable and don’t resist it. Take sacred time to learn yourself more than ever before, to ask yourself deep introspective questions and to remain a healthy skeptic. Accept all forms of who you show up to be in this body, as you gracefully learn how to create which one is most appropriate for you. And in all transitions, be fearless in your quest for truth, never compromise your own gut and feelings. You know what’s best for you.

IF you don't know yet... Do you think it's a Boy or Girl?

#BabyMagic is a firey Girl!!!


Motherhood. Haiti. Fashion. #ManmanKreyol

Name: Joelle Fontaine

Birth place: Port-Au-Prince, Haiti

Current Residency: Boston, MA

Occupation: Fashion Designer/ Entrepreneur

I became a mother when I was 20 years old. My son was breech and I had low amniotic fluid, so I had to have a c-section. I went in one morning see my doctor and set an appointment for the c-section five days later, and then that same evening- I went into labor. The experience was interesting. I gave birth at a teaching hospital, so I was surrounded by students on the operating table. I couldn’t see the operation (of course). I probably would have gone into shock to see a baby being removed from my body. But, I could feel everything. I was awake. My ex-husband was taping the whole experience and was fascinated, telling me when the doctors were taking out my uterus and what it looked like. I felt pulling and tugging- no pain (I had been given the epidural) but lots of pressure. The room was bright (too bright) and it felt somewhat impersonal to have all of these students at the front row of such a personal, private moment in my life. But, once I heard my son cry, nothing really mattered. Everything was Perfect!... Isaiah Gabriel Jean-Fontaine was born at 12:01 a.m. on April 27th, 2001, and my whole world was transformed.

Through motherhood, I have learned that I am enough. I think we often think we have to be perfect- especially in our culture. There are so many stigmas as to who you “should” be-- how you “should” raise your children. As a young mom, I was really afraid that I would fail. I thought of myself as such an irresponsible human being and now I was gifted with this child. What if I messed his whole world up? What if I couldn’t handle it? I knew nothing about taking care of a baby. Hell, I was a baby… I remember the 1st time he got sick with a cold and I placed Vick’s vapor rub on his chest. He immediately turned bright red and started screaming on top of his lungs. We were alone and I had no idea what to do. I started to rub it off his chest but he continued to wail and then I began to cry right along with him. He was maybe 3 months old. When it was said and done, he was left with a rash all over his chest that then turned into a scar. I was devastated.


Today, at 16, there is no scar on his chest. So many things that I thought were major mistakes on my part, he has no idea ever happened- no recollection. But, what he does remember is me loving him, listening to him, speaking to him like a human being- treating him like a friend, and teaching him about God. It’s all the simple things that have shaped him and made all the difference in our world. He never needed me to be supermom (those are societal views we unconsciously adopt). Me simply being there and loving him was more than enough.

My hope for my son is that he lives a life where he is blissfully happy. That sounds like a simple thing, but think to yourself how many people you know that are truly living out their purpose in life, making a good living doing so and being used by God to the fullest. We are all here for a reason- all a part of the bigger picture. My hope is that he finds his purpose quickly and spends his life fulfilling it. That is happiness.

My son taught me to let things go and to love unconditionally- not only others, but most importantly- he taught me how to love myself.

I honestly don’t think I can describe this in words what it means to be Haitian. It’s not exactly something you read and/or write. It’s something you feel. It’s coconut juice running down your chin, or picking sugar cane fibers from your teeth, or the smell of salty water mixed with fried fish and bannan. It’s that feeling you get on the inside when a Kompa song is playing and that funny sounding instrument comes on and your fingers motion like you’re playing the guitar. It’s that moment when you’re tired as hell at 3am but you stay up til 6am to finish your paper because “good” is never good enough. “Best” is the only option. It’s when everything seems to be going wrong and all of the elders (and now you and your friends) gather up for jeune and bring it all to God. It’s a father working 20-30 years as a taxi driver to put his kids through school and to provide a good home for his wife (because education, ownership, legacy is everything). It’s resilience at the face of adversity- community above all.

I am a Haitian woman living in America, because I am highly influenced by Haitian culture to the core. It’s a really interesting dynamic actually because both cultures have shaped me, but I had somewhat of an identity crisis on my hands trying to define and figure out where I belong in the spectrum. I have never felt at home in America, but when I go to Haiti, even though I was born there-  I am a foreigner- diaspora. They call me “Ti fi blanc”, which means “white girl”. So, for a while, I never felt like I belonged anywhere-- that is until I realized that “home” is within. So I am influenced by both Haiti and America. I am Haitian born, have lived in America for almost 30 years, but til’ this day I am still a permanent resident- not a citizen- also known as an “alien”. So, that is what I identify myself as- an alien.

I think Haitian women/ mothers are regal. I am reminded of the older Haitian women back home I’d see on their way to the market early in the morning with their baskets on their heads- no hands- back straight- beautifully patterned garments. The clothes may be torn, but they are always clean. That’s what I think of Haitian women-- hard-working beings that do what they got to do, and even when everything is not peachy, they still hold their heads up high like the queens they are.

My mom has taught me many things, but without ever saying a word- she has taught me to be a virtuous woman and a great mom. With her sacrifices and resilience, she has been such an awesome example of strength and character. Most importantly- my mom has allowed me to be myself. That is the greatest gift that any parent can give to their children-- acceptance and room for them to truly be who they are and to flourish into who they are destined to be.

My hope for Haiti is that more of the diaspora returns home to build-- to work with the youth to change the mindset that has permeated our culture since the beginning of time. Colonialism has taught us to resent ourselves (maybe not out right, but there’s an underlying complex) Haitians are not taught to acquire education and return home to contribute to development, economic growth, urban planning in the ways that other foreign groups (such as Asians or Indians) do with their countries. In Haiti, we go to the US, Paris, Canada, get our education and stay there to build someone else’s territory. We have a beautiful country, with many resources and the potential for success. Everyone else sees that but us. Foreigners are building businesses in Haiti and taking over, while we are sleeping. There have been talks of Haiti becoming an American territory. How devastating that would be!! To be the first liberated black republic only to give up that legacy to American rule? My hope for Haiti is reconstruction of not only the land itself but of the values of the people.

My style is honest. I dress how I feel. Sometimes it’s simple and quiet and other times it’s bold and damn right obnoxious. It just depends on how I feel that day. But, I believe that my style is always rooted with vintage inspiration from my upbringing- the women I saw growing up, going to church with large hats and lace gloves, bold colors and patterns, heels with full a-line skirts. I have partnered that with my love of Asian cultural elements and masculine androgynous touches to create a style that fits ME. I love lace dresses and combat boots (Yes. Together) and men’s jackets with heels, wide brim bowler hats with fitted dresses. I believe that I am an oxymoron by nature and my style is a reflection of my being.

Though I have always loved and admired fashion, I did not out seek to have a career in this industry. For most of my youth, I was in love with architecture. I thought I was going to be a major architect building stucco homes in Cap Haitien, Italy and South of France :) Fashion chose me. I started to sew simply as means to express my creativity and just stay sane when I was home with my son in his early years. It turned out to be my gift. Fashion is great as a means of expression, but what attracts me the most to the industry is the possibility for forward advancement and economic growth through garment production and artistry. I always saw my work as a way for me to one day be able to go back to Haiti and contribute to the economic development of women. 

I Am Kreyol is a high fashion label that utilizes fashion as a means for social impact. Our goal is to utilize beautiful design and garment production as a catalyst for change for disenfranchised women in the US, Haiti and abroad. We aim to teach production skills to impoverished women so that are equipped with the means for sustainable living through art. We are a small company, but growing quickly. Most recently we were featured as one of the top Haitian designers to know by Teen Vogue (http://www.teenvogue.com/gallery/haitian-designers-to-know-about) and named “Best of Boston” in fashion by the Improper Bostoninan (http://www.improper.com/bostons-best/2016/fashion/clothing-designer/joelle-jean-fontaine/).

I am a Mama Bear

I am a mama bear.

I don't really think I had a choice, to be honest. I can remember defending my younger brother and cousins when we were in school, pouncing on anyone who hurt or threatened them. Once when I was in 5th grade, I slammed a 2nd grader against the lockers because he was picking on my brother. For as long as I can remember, I've always had this innate instinct to protect those I love.

So my kid never stood a chance.

When he was learning to ride a bike, he was covered head to toe in protective gear because wasn't no concrete gonna hurt my baby. When he plays sports I'm the first to jump up to the field if he gets hurt. Even when he was younger and we were at the playground and I would hear his cry of injustice, that scream that would indicate that someone has hurt or wronged my baby, I would spring into action, ready to fight whomever it was that made my baby cry. I am not above confronting toddlers, either.

My love for this boy knows no bounds and I will literally anything to make sure he is safe and protected. And that's how we ended up moving to Japan.

About 2 years ago, we were traveling through Penn Station and my son needed to go to the toilet. So, I pointed him in the right direction and left him to it. Time passes and he hadn’t come back, so I went to investigate to see what was taking so long. I find him wandering around, completely missing it. So I show him where it was before he wet himself.

When he came back I asked him why he didn’t ask the officer that was standing near the bathroom for directions. And he just looked up at me with this look like he was afraid to. And as much as I wanted to tell him that he had nothing to be afraid of, I wasn’t entirely sure that was true.

You see, I have a pretty big kid. He can easily be mistaken for a teenager at his young age of 10. And after the deaths of Mike Brown and Tamir Rice - two children who were approached as grown men and gunned down by police - I knew I needed to do all that I could to keep him safe.

So we moved to one of the safest countries on the planet. But after we got here I was soon confronted with the need to not keep him physically safe anymore but I would now need to fight to preserve his personal identity and sense of self.

So I'm raising a Third Culture Kid, I knew that being in other countries would be a challenge. Especially with him being so young when we moved and being in a place where not many look like him. But the challenge we faced wasn't with the locals, it was at his school.

The place where he spends more time during the week than he does at home, I needed that place to be a safe space of support and acceptance. But instead they were instead sending him messages that what he looks like isn't acceptable.

So, mama bear came out. And I found myself at the school weekly defending my son against a principal who made snide comments and suggesting that his hair could look more mainstream, like everyone else’s. My claws came out when his teacher began to target him and sent him to the principal’s office for reading on the carpet without permission.

I ultimately pulled him from his school and moved him to a place that was more accepting of his individuality.  

I know that raising a TCK can have a profound effect on his personal identity, especially in places where not many look like him. But it is my hope that I'm able to help him understand who he is through our travels and by connecting with others. That he can find bits of himself in those who don't speak his language or look like him.

In this journey, I want him to know that he has endless possibilities, but I will challenge anyone who tries to place restrictions on him. I want him to believe in himself and I’m ready to stand up against anyone who makes him question his abilities.

I know that the other side of being a mama bear is allowing him to go off into the world with all that I've taught him. That he will one day apply all the lessons I’ve taught him and walk in the examples I’ve tried to set for him of how to move throughout this world on his own.

One day I’ll be ready. But until that day comes, I'll be there ready with the Vaseline.

Elmeka Henderson is a psychologist, photographer, and mother who is currently living in Japan. She is the creative voice behind Adventures in Raising a Vagabond, a blog that offers a first hand account of a mother traveling with her boy. There, Elmeka offers a unique perspective on not only traveling abroad, but surviving parenthood in a foreign land. You can read more about her at www.adventuresinraisingavagabond.com or follow her on Instagram @elmazing.


Elmeka is also the founder of Raising Vagabonds, a family-centered travel company whose vision is to change the perception of single parent travel by dispelling beliefs and encouraging parents to travel with their children by eradicating barriers and challenging the mindset and misconceptions of family travel. Their mission is to empower parents to break out of their comfort zones and live their best lives unapologetically. Through cultural immersion and community service, Raising Vagabonds helps to strengthen the family bond through adventures and first-hand geography lessons. Visit their website at www.raisingvagabonds.com and follow them on Instagram @raisingvagabonds.

Who is Tiny & Brave Holistic Services

Tiny & Brave Holistic Services Logo

Tiny & Brave Holistic Services Logo

Dallas, TX first Black Breastfeeding Gathering in August 2016 created by Tiny & Brave Holistic Services

Dallas, TX first Black Breastfeeding Gathering in August 2016 created by Tiny & Brave Holistic Services

Tiny & Brave is for the mother and her little one. It is providing women with the best model of care as a birth worker.  Tiny & Brave is for the well-being of the whole person; men and women-spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally. Tiny & Brave are for those seeking to be counseled through their life experiences. It is for the less fortunate. It is for those who are considered insignificant. It's for those not often spoken of, like fathers. It is for the ones who are courageous enough to face their fears. It is for those who saw a need for others and found a solution. Tiny & Brave is to give awareness to the issues that are not being discussed. Tiny & Brave is a medium to advocate for those who don't have a voice.

I was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. I first came aware of the birth world through a movie called "Losing Isaiah" Starring Halle Berry and Jessica Lange. I later encountered a woman who sparked my interest in becoming a midwife. In 2003, I became a doula through DONA. I was embraced by my mentor and midwife Memaniye Cinque of Dyekora Sumda Midwifery Services in Brooklyn, NY and through her was introduced to her first birth. It was there that I knew she wanted to become a midwife. In 2006, I went overseas through the African Birth Collective in Senegal, West Africa assisting midwives in labor and delivery. I have also been employed as a Live-Advisor at Pathways PA to teenage mothers.  I completed a Graduate certificate from Boston University in Maternal and Infant Care in Public Health. And on May 7th, 2016 I received my Master's in Counseling with a concentration in Marriage and Family. But my biggest accomplishment is having my daughter Glorious-Zoëlle Shaddai Verneus on June 17th, 2014. This was the pinnacle event in my life that confirmed why I should finally become a midwife, now or never.

Glorious-Zoëlle Shaddai three days old.

Glorious-Zoëlle Shaddai three days old.

Six Month Old

Six Month Old

I relocated to Austin, TX to follow her dream of being a Certified Professional Midwife and is currently enrolled in Mercy In Action's online Midwifery program while doing her apprenticeship. I resided in Philadelphia, PA with my daughter where I was a doula through Maternity Care Coalition directed by Ms. Naima Black; before relocating to Texas.  I have also worked as a Family Advocate within the Philadelphia community. I have been a social service professional since 1999.

I desires to serve families in the urban community; and overseas, such as Haiti in the near future.

I now seek to counsel and serve women who have experienced trauma. Grieved by my own trauma, as well as the abuse of women and children and the lack of value of the urban family; I seek to help to bring that importance of the family unit back for all parties are vital to the development of the urban community and family. I have always worked with women through the amazing process of witnessing another woman walk in her own power-emotionally, mentally, physically and/or spiritually. 

The reason I desire to serve this population is because at the current time, despite the long history of midwifery in black community, black women currently represent less than 2% of the nation’s reported 15,000 midwives. 

Each experience I had in serving women and children has reinforced my passion and calling. I believes the most impact in one's life can begin is at the moment of conscious conception and as a doula we have the opportunity to assist in helping a woman/mother know her virtue, resources and choices for herself and her baby.

Dallas, TX first Black Breastfeeding Gathering in August 2016 created by Tiny & Brave Holistic Services.

Dallas, TX first Black Breastfeeding Gathering in August 2016 created by Tiny & Brave Holistic Services.

I offer affordable doula care in my current community to those facing financial hardship but still desire her services. I also offer doula services for free to teenage mothers.

Barbara Verneus is a doula/birth companion, student midwife, family health advocate, maternal life coach, motivational speaker and mother of one based in Austin, TX. She has a masters in counseling with a concentration in marriage and family. Barbara has been featured on various platforms, such as:

Mater Mea http://www.matermea.com/blog/2015/3/24/how-having-my-daughter-saved-my-life

Mater Mea http://www.matermea.com/blog/fulfilling-my-purpose-essay

Mater Mea http://www.matermea.com/blog/2015/9/18/11-life-lessons-my-1-year-old-has-taught-me

Madame Noire http://madamenoire.com/592614/11-life-lessons-my-1-year-old-has-taught-me/

Black Women Birthing Justice http://www.blackwomenbirthingjustice.org/single-post/2016/05/11/Facing-and-Healing-from-Abuse-During-Pregnancy-by-Barbara-Verneus

Not So Private Parts http://notsoprivateparts.life/blog/2016/5/13/birth-of-a-midwife

Anjelica Malone http://www.anjelicamalone.com/tag/barbara-verneus/

un·in·ter·rupt·ed: A Letter to Her Father

Peace D,

This email is not seeking for anything but to say one thing and one thing only. I forgive you. It has taken some time but I can say with a clear and free conscious and open heart and sober mind that I forgive you.  I forgive you from feeling abandoned from you to the absence of you during my pregnancy. I forgive you for the words that were said. I forgive you for the disrespect. I forgive you for missed prenatals and missed celebrations. I forgive you for having me to figure things out on my own when I sincerely wanted your input and/or involvement. I forgive you for allowing me to have to choose to leave Boston with our baby.  I forgive you for unable to care for my emotions. I forgive you for not being there for me/us when I needed you the most. I forgive for not answering my calls. I forgive you for not being at our daughter's birth. I forgive you for disrespecting your daughter's birthday with your embarrassing statement in front of everyone that "you are only a sperm donor." I forgive you for leaving early the next day. I forgive you for having to choose families and leaving us. I forgive you for treating me like I was your enemy or thinking I wanted any way to harm you. I forgive you for always accusing me of judging you. I forgive you for never truly listening to me. I forgive you at times and now, for not checking in with your, Glorious, no matter the drama between us, as her parents. I forgive you for many of times not keeping your word. I forgive you for unable to love me or properly show me love. I forgive you that at this current time you choose not to be a father to Glorious. I forgive you for not allowing her to know her siblings. I forgive you for unable to come together to reason and come to an agreement of how we would raise our child. I forgive you for allowing me to do this on my own. I forgive you for never able to give me that security in actions that I was waiting for, for me to say "yes" to us.

And if there is anything that I may have said and done I sincerely apologize and hope one day we can have the dialogue to bring about clarity and peace.

Thursday I received clarity on a lot of things that are for my self knowledge, wisdom and practical understanding. And I can let the anger go and let you go and the ideas I hoped about and be ok with how things are; even if it never changes. I received a beautiful gift and daughter who has changed my life tremendously in an a year and 4 months. You go through things to either experience new discoveries, lesson(s) and/or blessing(s) and I can say I have gratefully gained all three and continue to. So I sincerely say thank you as well.


For the past couple of months I have been wrestling with anxiety and worries. I have felt I couldn't breathe with all the worries consuming every fiber of my being. Worried from the day to day responsibilities of being an adult and a mother; to will I be alive in the next few minutes, next few seconds to what will my future be like. Will I always struggle. A desire to want to give up. Being angry with myself all over again. To being angry with her father. To mourning an absent dad to his daughter, to worrying about I will eventually have to die and leave her behind. Every day I woke up just wanting to stay in the comfort of my bed and not wanting to deal with the outside world including myself. To going to bed but unable to to close my eyes for anxiety plagued me every night causing me to just lay there in the middle of the night.

But one night my anxiety was so bad I was unable to sleep and was forced to pray to the Creator, pleading with tears coming down my face while laying in my bed in the middle of the night. I prayed that He would help me rest and to take my worries away. I was begging for His peace to rest upon my soul. Eventually I fell asleep and woke up to my day feeling motivated and focused as I sat at my desk. Eventually I heard my internal voice say, "She's easier." I repeated those words out loud to myself. Then the internal reasoning began and it concluded:

"She's easier. She has tolerated him since day one they met. And even though your actions have shown you love him but you wouldn't verbally accept what she has been accepting for so many years. Why do you think he held you at arms length, always afraid to let you in because you would force/challenge him in ways he is obviously not ready to meet. You challenge him. You shake something within him that makes him feel uncomfortable. I doubt that he loves her because he does but look at their history. They met each other when they were emotional not well. She allowed a lot of things. She accepted the dysfunctional behaviors.She was the easier choice since day one. He holds you in high regards to the point that you intimidate him. You not the easier choice. He was not and is not ready for your expectations of him because the idea of failing would be too great." 

At that moment I wept at my desk at work but these were happy tears. I felt free and released from the weight of all my worries and anxieties that I was wrestling with for the past few months. 

All I desired was the father and I to be civilized to one another as we try to co-parent but you can't do that if both parents are not committed. He currently lives in Boston, MA and looking to relocate to North Carolina with his other family as I live in Philadelphia, PA. Even though he doesn't really have a strong presence in her life at the current time I show her pictures of him and initiate phone calls between the two of them. I do this, so she will always know I never did anything to prevent her from having a relationship with him. And when the time comes and she desires to speak to him I will be more then open for her to reach out to him. I do fear the implications this will have on her as she gets older and the impact it will have in her identity but I must take one day at a time and just pray and love her the best way I can.

I did not write this story for you to hate him but hope you see that his actions came from his immature child mind state that never dealt with his own issues emotionally, mentally and spiritually. He came from a broken home as well, where he met his father for the first time at the age of twenty-two. He didn’t have a normal upbringing. I’m not making excuses for him. But more so realizing we must take special inventory of the state we are in individually and why we do the things we do. Family composition may not be normal but we are still able to create a safe space for the people involved and children. To make this possible as long we are willing to take responsibility for our actions and willing to do the work towards our own healing for the betterment of the structure of the family, no matter how that may look like because what is a normal family now a days. I also learned, ladies, we cannot think we can go into relationships thinking we can save someone, but most importantly we must see circumstances and people for what they are and not what we want them to be. Two sick people cannot know how to love one another. As nurturers, women have a natural tendency to nurture the best out of a person, but what if that person is not ready for that vision you see for them? Will you continue to live off a delusion or accept the situation for what it truly is and being honest with yourself?

Most of all we must be careful who we allow to plant in our gardens and plant spiritual, mental, emotional, verbal, and/or physical seeds because having to uproot those weeds is not easy. The Bible says “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life,” (Proverbs 4:23) and this rings to be so true. All intentions of a person comes from a person’s heart and when the heart is damaged it is very hard for it to come back from.

This is just the beginning for me and I am excited about others I may help by sharing my story. Part of my healing is by helping others and sharing my experience, which lessens my fears and shame little by little. I truly believe my experiences, which I take full responsibility for, were truly blessings to empower me and force me to grow. So in all that I have gone through I express gratitude because I am able to see the mercy, grace and glory in it all from start to finish and it’s far from over.


"To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you." Lewis B. Smedes


Written on Oct. 2015