I’m back y’all! This is my first interview of 2018…and it’s June 🙈, but you’ve got to start somewhere, right?
So, I am super-excited because I have such an inspiring line up of women to bring to you, and I am starting with this one – Evelyn.
You may have come across Evelyn through her Instagram account, @mother.soulwriter or perhaps you know her as the founder of Kin Woman Collective, the communications and culture agency that she has founded. Under both guises, Evelyn bares her soul, telling us about her experiences as an African woman, wife and mother, living in the United States.
Evelyn is a social activist with a passion for spiritual healing and her spirituality is unwavering! Her words are wonderful! Her dancing is joyful! Seriously, if you haven’t experienced her yet, you must go check her out!
I caught up with her over Skype and our beautiful and honest conversation was punctuated by her children asking to be fed and just being generally cute. It’s a test of how genuine someone is on these squares when you see how they deal with their children in real life, and Evelyn dealt with the situation exactly as I imagined she would…with love ❤
After she had taken some time to sort the kids out (and I had stopped salivating over her gorgeous pink tassel earrings and wondering why I didn’t make more of an effort for the call 😭), I broached the topic that I had wanted to ask about for months. Back in February, in fact on St. Valentine’s Day, Evelyn was in a car accident that was not her fault. Now forget the no win-no fee lawyers for now, cos it was like one of those accidents that you watch on the police shows – you see what happens and actually gasp, because you can’t believe it’s not special FX.
Evelyn had just picked up her boys from daycare and was driving home. She noticed a car speeding towards her and tried to swerve, but couldn’t get out of the way in time. The car went straight into hers and she flipped over 3 times, eventually passing out inside the car. Remember, her boys were in the car with her… Thank God the kids were miraculously uninjured, but, when Evelyn came to, she couldn’t remember their names. In fact, she couldn’t remember anything, including her own birthday. They were all taken to hospital and as their vitals were all OK, plus, despite the accident, Evelyn was her typical smiley self, complete with pink lipstick, they were discharged. But, the next morning she couldn’t feel anything below the chest. She was readmitted and stayed for 5 days with what was discovered to be a fractured vertebrae and a concussion that had wiped everything out.
It continues to be a waiting game for Evelyn. She still has physio and the occasional dizziness/vertigo may last a lifetime, but, in her own words “I’m doing great. My biggest challenge is telling myself that it’s OK to heal.” And, the healing is not only physical, but spiritual too.
You see, Evelyn is philosophical about it all. She explained that despite thinking that she was “on fire” at the start of the year (“never been so disciplined in my life…I knew what I wanted and the price I was willing to pay for it…I would work out after dropping the kids at day care and told my boss that this was a non-negotiable…I would be the troublemaker at work, risking getting fired, even just to sow the seed that they needed to change their policies around fairly compensating women…”) her life was actually all over the place and she now believes that the accident was sent to refocus her.
She needed the car accident. After it, she couldn’t walk or go to the bathroom on her own and was entirely reliant on her husband. It was then that she realised how alone she really was in the US. Back home, in Zimbabwe, her home would have been full of family and friends. But, here, it was just him. No-one showed up for her, despite all of the advocating that she had been doing for everyone else. She slowly realised that because she had been the giver, no-one had felt the need to give to her. The accident forced Evelyn to take an uncomfortable look at her relationships with others and made her see that, yes, it’s good to give, but to give to the right people.
So, our conversation progressed to how the Kin Woman Collective was born. Depression as a valid concept is not something that generally exists for those of us who grew up in an African household, and, coming from a fairly typical Zimbabwean background, Evelyn’s experience was no different. Her introduction to depression came a couple of years ago, after leaving a job that she loved and while pregnant with her third child. She was working herself to death to avoid dealing with stuff and overflowing with exhaustion from everything that she had lived through up until that point in her life. Luckily, after having her son, and through a process involving time, acceptance and introspection, she was eventually able to mourn the identity of wife and mother that she had built around herself and decided that she would start something to nourish the souls of others. She’s a giver. She can’t help it!
Evelyn’s gift of sensitivity to the needs of others and her ability to read the deeper meaning behind the words of others has come from going through her own healing process – an ongoing journey that has not yet ended and never will. During our conversation, she admitted that she gets nervous when she talks about Kin Woman Collective because she wants to make sure that people are receiving her heart when they hear what she has to say. She is passionate about cultural studies, especially from an Afrocentric perspective. However, she has been conflicted about continuing to study it (Evelyn is a bona fide scholar/academic) using more formal methods and has struggled with having to use the “white man’s words”. But, using Kin Woman Collective as a vehicle for her work has enabled her to share some of her cultural learning and understanding using her own narrative.
“Now,” she explained, “things are happening so effortlessly. I apply myself to my writing and my videos and the speaking events and conferences just keep coming.”
After we hung up from the Skype call, I took some time to reflect on our conversation and wished it had been a podcast so that I could listen and re-listen to her speaking her truth. Thank you Evelyn 😘
I truly hope you enjoy “meeting” Evelyn as much as I did…
Evelyn, darling! Please tell us a bit about yourself…
First of all, thank you for creating this space to support and uplift multicultural mothers. My name is Evelyn, and I am all things woman. I am a creative, a writer, storyteller, student, and teacher. I am a mother of three cubs (my beasts of the African wild). My husband and I have just celebrated five years of marriage. I was a SAHM but, am back in graduate school and working full-time.
I am originally from Zimbabwe and my husband is American, so we settled in the Mid-West where we are raising our three children, a six-year-old girl, and two boys aged four and two.
*wipes away the tears of humbling gratitude* No, thank you and congrats on your recent anniversary 💘 So, back to business, what time do you get up on a typical weekday morning and what is the first thing you do?
A normal morning starts at 5:45am. My husband has to be at work in the wee hours of the morning so, his alarm has become mine as well. I like talking to him while he gets ready for work so, I may get up and make some breakfast for him before he leaves the house. After he leaves, I usually take a morning shower, and listen to something inspirational before my day starts. Lately, I listen to Les Brown. I can almost say word for word what he’s going to say next. I like his humor and the way he talks about his mom. It’s inspiring.
Aw, shucks! You guys are so cute. But, let’s get one thing straight – I’m not getting up at 5:45am to make breakfast for nobody. What about the kids? When do they disturb your peace?
My daughter is the only one who’s in school currently so, my mornings are pretty busy. After I’m done with my solitary moments, I wake her up and she takes a shower as I prepare her breakfast and school lunch. I like to see my children start the day together so, I usually make breakfast for all four of us before taking my daughter to school, dropping the boys off to day-care, and heading to work. I work three days a week, and am in a night-time graduate class once a week as well. So, on the day that I have class, I do our morning routine, and then after work, I pick the kiddos and wait for my husband to get home before leaving to go back to school. On the two days I don’t have work, our routine is the same just unhurried because I use those days to catch up with readings for my Saturday class.
Listen, this level of multi-tasking/business is giving me anxiety. Can we get back to talking about breakfast?
My kids love food, and I love cooking. Breakfast is usually whatever we can cook the fastest so, I might make waffles with berries and orange juice or omelettes. I will run out of everything else before I run out of eggs. After breakfast, it’s school drop off time for my daughter. I drop my boys off at the day-care around 8:45 a.m. and then I go and workout for an hour before work at 10 a.m. I like driving by myself for a while as it gives me time to think about my day and how I want to spend it.
An egg fan too? Yaaaaas! *totally rethinks plant-based life goals* Erm, so, kids are dropped to most appropriate care provider. Where to next?
Well, I go either to work or to work out. Then, after working out, if I am not working, I am at the library studying. I have been lucky because my job is pretty flexible. I work at the same University I go to school at, so everything is already on campus. I’m very thankful that I can balance work and my other duties, including taking care of myself.
We appreciate the importance of self-care, girl. Enjoy that balance. So, 3 days a week, you’re working…what happens on the other 2 days?
On the days that I am at home (i.e. the days that I choose to stay home with the boys instead of going to the library), after I drop my daughter off, we go home, and the boys usually play for two hours, until around ten in the morning when I put them down for a nap. This is how I get my me-time to clean, read, listen to a good podcast, or write.
Me-time? what’s that again? *deep sigh* Anyway, does this time involve food?
The boys usually wake up around lunchtime, so we eat our lunch together. All of my kids eat everything. I was very conscious that I would not allow them to be picky with their food. Being raised in Africa, this was not an option for me. So, from the age of 18 months, I brought them into the kitchen with me. I now love watching my four-year old pride himself in making lunch. He is the lover among us and just wants to make sure everyone is taken care of.
Aw, that is so cute! What kinds of things does he help you make? And, more importantly, does he help you to clear away too?
He loves anything healthy – tomatoes, salad, chicken. *Evelyn asks her four-year old what his favourite food is and he responds “Toast…and grilled cheese!” 😂😂😂*
After lunch, we clean-up, play some more, and prepare to pick up big sister.
So, what happens when three become four, huh? (hmmm…is that a song? *insert thinking face*)
Usually when my daughter gets home, she’s starving. So, the first thing she does is throw her clothes on the floor and run to the kitchen to look for food. I try to watch the snacking because then she won’t eat dinner once she’s full.
Ah! Finally! Dinner! Yaaas! I want details…
Of all meals, dinner is the most important for me. It is sacred in my home. It’s usually always done by six-thirty in the evening. Everyone is home and at the table. My husband and I alternate dinners. I cook Monday through Thursday, and he does Fridays because he’s home. Honestly, though I cook a lot, he does too. I grew up with vegetables, planting, harvesting, and eating them. Dinner for my family is the same. I’m very adventurous with food, and they are too, so there’s usually vegetables somewhere. The kitchen is my therapy place – sometimes the kids come in with me to make dinner, and, other times my husband and I spend time together making dinner.
This sounds so wonderful! 🦋 Making me want to go all plant-based right now… 🌾 🌿 Does everything remain this wonderful after dinnertime?
I’m a believer in cleaning up after yourself. Even the youngest cub knows how to do that, so, after dinner it’s clean-up. My husband has a terrible love for sweets, so he usually does some kind of dessert with the kids. I’m full-blown African. “Too much sweet no good for the tooth!”
Sis! When I lived in my Nigerian parents’ house, sweets were reserved for after church on Sunday, so I know what you’re saying. However, I don’t live with them no more, so… 🍬 🍭 🍫 Moving on, how easy is it to get the kids down after dessert?
Bed time is a very stressful time for me. Because I’ve been home with the kids all day, I find I’m not patient with them. So, when 8 p.m. rolls around, Dad usually gets the bedtime routine going.
Now THIS is what I’m talking about. Yes, mama! What do you do to relax once the kids are down?
I really like hanging out with my husband. We both have such a funny sense of humour that we can talk and laugh for hours. So, usually, after the kids go to bed, we’ll hang out in the basement where the kids cannot find us, and after an hour or two we will go to bed. I am usually in bed by 10 p.m. My brain depends on it otherwise I will be all over the place. I’m getting old and sleep is just as important as it is to clean my teeth. I fall asleep reading books. My husband says that he can never get comfortable because I am always searching for his feet. I just tell him he’s the best blanket ever and so I always put one leg close to his to get comfortable, and then I fall sleep.
You guys!! I’m about to cry cos of the cuteness! 💘 💘 Ok, last question before my heart bursts, how heavily does social media feature in your day?
I really try hard not to be on social media for too long. I think it takes too much, especially as I like to post from the heart and not just for the sake of it. So, I generally use Planoly and Hootsuite to plan and post to social media. But, sometimes, I will look at an image and think “I want to post about that today”. So I will.
She’s on Facebook too here
And if you want to know more about Kin Woman Collective and Evelyn’s events, you can do that here.