Clean Cooking Form 2015

Ghana-Social-Media_Kofi_AnnanGoing back to Ghana feels like the stars have aligned to have me meet so many incredible Africans at once. Not only will I be going back to Ghana, but I will also be doing so in both professional and personal capacities. I will be attending the Clean Cooking Forum 2015 next week. I will be meeting many individuals who I have encountered remotely but have never met. I will share with you as I meet them, hopefully. I’ve never been as excited for an actual conference and who the attendees would be.

When the Black Stars played in the South Africa World Cup in 2010, I remember thinking that Ghana was a small enough place, that I was likely to meet Stephen Appiah. Low and behold, he will be attending the Forum.

We will also be meeting with Wanjira Mathai, Wangari Maathai’s daughter, and head of the Wangari Maathai Foundation. Wangari won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for the founding of the Greenbelt Movement and I heard her speak that year in DC. Wangari also wrote The Challenge for Africa, which I found to be one of my very favorites in a long line of African literature. Clark loves the children’s book written about her work as well. I’m glad to have the opportunity to have Clark meet such people.

The gathering will feature more than 400 leaders from 28 countries who are working to build a global market for clean and efficient cookstoves and fuels. The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves is hosting the global Clean Cooking Forum 2015 in Accra, Ghana – the first time it has been held in West Africa. We will come together to share strategies for accelerating growth of the clean and efficient cookstoves and fuels markets around the world.

I look forward to representing InStove, as the cleanest, safest, most efficient stove on earth. I am enjoying thinking of the potential opportunities there might be for an InStove in my village. It would also be cool to get an InStove to be a part of a Peace Corps project in Ghana. We’ll keep you posted on progress. If you know of any opportunities for us to collaborate with anyone while we are in Ghana, please let us know.


Miel (& Adam)

Going Back to Ghana


Finally. After 14 years, I will be returning to Ghana for a visit. It feels pretty incredible. I definitely have visions of Ghana going through my mind. Negotiating in Twi and Ewe in my head while I shower, wondering how much I will remember. I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ghana and in the Volta region, from 1999-2001, and spoke Ewe very well and Twi well enough to negotiate and get around by public transportation with ease.

I will be going with Adam, Clark, and my mother-in-law Carol. It is exciting to see Clark return to Africa, nearly a year after his first trip to the continent. Now he will be running instead of nursing. I have dreamt of this trip for years. Carol and I have talked of going to Ghana for many years. Adam and I will be attending the biennial Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves Summit in Accra. We will also be celebrating our four month anniversary together. We spent our two month anniversary in Washington, DC.

The people are what Ghana is really all about. Ghanaians are known as being incredibly friendly, and they are. It has been nice already to be in better contact with folks from my village and start to hear updates. For instance, I now know that my counterpart, an old many named Akpabli, is still alive, and that the Queenmother asks after me.

I avidly journaled during my time as a Peace Corps Volunteer and will be pulling out my journal to see what adventures I can share about from my time as a Volunteer. Here are a few links to several stories I’ve written over the years as well. Like how I was stung by a scorpion, or the first female king in Ghana, how to avoid hazards in Africa, enjoy bucket baths and entertain yourself with Africian movie theatres, or about our ten year Peace Corps reunion.

I look forward to sharing about our travels.

Enjoy the journey,


End of An Era

Today marks the end of an era. After nearly six year, I’ve completed my work with International Medical Corps. It’s been really a tremendous experience. I’ve been very fortunate to have enjoyed a career where I both truly enjoy what I do while helping to make a difference in people’s lives.


During my time with IMC I’ve grown a great deal and look back at many incredible times. I’ve worked with incredible people from more countries than I could possibly list out. Thanks go out to all of my outstanding colleagues.

I’ve also traveled to DR Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Somalia, Somaliland, Ethiopia, Turkey, and the Philippines. As people who know me well already know, some of my times in DRC were my fondest with IMC.

Below is a pic from two years ago while I was on a business trip to Turkey. I was sent it recently reminding me of a new era presenting itself. I’m looking forward to this next phase as much as I have enjoyed the last.

miel turkey 2012Be well,



Clark’s Birth Story – A Field Day

On my own Birthday I thought I would share the birth story of our first baby. I couldn’t ask for a better present on my 37th Birthday!


Clark was born on a beautiful Saturday morning in June. He had waited just long enough for the perfect time to arrive.

The day before his arrival I was preparing myself for his birth. I walked my husband, James, to the metro several blocks away and opted to take a pass on my normal add on of a walk, or previously a run, through Meridian Hill Park. Home was calling me. I took care of some work on email and prioritized my day. Top on the list was a nap and a swim. When invited to lunch with a friend I contemplated whether I wanted to make my way over to L’Enfant Plaza. Normally I would love to meet up for lunch, but it felt both too far and that it would cut into my nap and swim time.

After enjoying both the nap and the swim, I met James for a final date night as just a married couple. I opted for the spicy curry shrimp noodles to go with pregnancy induction traditions. I wouldn’t attribute the birth on it, but it was a tasty and a filling last meal. I then called it early from playing rummy with my mom and headed to bed about 9:30 to get sleep while I could.

When James came to bed at midnight I felt my first contractions just after that. At first I laid in bed and tried to sleep them off, knowing this is what all advice will tell you to do. After an hour I knew that they were coming often enough that I should start to time them and call my midwife. I laid there, going back and forth to the bathroom between contractions, while I timed the contractions. Over the course of an hour they were steady but a bit irregular, ranging from 10 to 4 minutes in between.

I called the midwife around 2 and was told to take a bath to try to slow the contractions and get some sleep, and to call back at 7 if various signs had not occurred. I knew at that point that there was little chance of getting sleep, but I would do what I could. I called my twin sister and let her know that things were getting started. She wanted to get on skype already and I said, sorry I love you, but I just can’t talk to you right now. I drew a bath and didn’t last long in it, flipping from side to side with each contraction.

I called on James and my mom to start setting up the tub, to have it ready when I needed it. By the time they were done setting up the tub and making up the bed I had given up on timing contractions because I couldn’t be bothered. I asked James to help me, telling him okay at the start and end of each contraction. James then called the midwife back and let her know my progress, it was about 5 in the morning and she would be there in an hour.

I had them start filling the tub. As any expectant mom who has done a home water birth knows, this feels like it takes forever. I eyed the tub as it slowly filled, contemplating slithering into the bottom of the filling tub just for the comfort of it. I convinced myself that I could wait until it filled or the midwife arrived. I managed, and it was worth the wait.

As it happened, my gym Mint was having one of their summer events that day. A field day with good old fashioned field games. Since Clark and I had had nearly perfect attendance at the gym 5-6 times a week throughout pregnancy, the joke had been that I’d either be there with a new born, be there nearly a week past due and kick some final but while pregnant (I had won the fitness competition in April while nearly nine months pregnant), or I’d be in labor. It turns out that it would be the final option, the fitness goal I was most preparing for. We were also invited to a pool party while I was in labor, but we were already having our own private pool party.

Over the course of early labor I was first surprised that I wanted nothing but to lie down and toss from side to side. I had done a great deal of prenatal yoga and practiced supported labor techniques in our birth class. At minimum I would have thought I would want to walk or stand, but neither had any appeal whatsoever. The closest I got was misguaging an arrival of a contraction and hugging the wall until it passed.

The second surprise was that the labor process rendered me mute. It started to some degree earlier on, but perpetuated as labor progressed. It literally took me significant effort to utter the word water or lip balm. If you could read my mind, all the better. The was no need for words. It wasn’t as if the pain was that bad, I just couldn’t go there myself. I heard and listened to others, even replying in my mind, but rarely said a word. While I realized this during labor, it really became apparent when the moment after his birth I was speaking in full sentences without any hesitation. It’s amazing what the body and mind can achieve.

I started to have the first urges to bare down just before I got in the tub. I also recall my midwife noting how differently my belly was shaped. We have a huge mirror right above where the tub was placed and I recall marveling at what it looked like to see my baby move down into position. As I slipped into the tub the morning sun was suddenly streaming in through the room and across the tub. It was gorgeous and peaceful.

James sat at the edge of the tub and let me lean back on him or lean over the edge of the tub and rest my head upon him. That felt great. Eventually James needed some rest and pulled in my mom for support while he took a nap.

Our midwives Jennifer and Marilyn were fabulous. A big thanks to Birth Care and all the work they do. They essentially did their thing will little bother to me. When Jennifer arrived and took my initial vitals she said that she didn’t think she’d have to take them again. I didn’t ask how long that would be, but trusted that things would progress as they should. In the end I would have Clark eight minutes after they should have done my vitals, four hours later.

At one point early on the midwives enjoyed croissants and coffee on our gorgeous tree lined front terrace and marveled at what a great birth experience it was all around. My twin sister was also present via web video, watching us from the middle of the night in Portland, as we heard the birds chirping from across the country. Her family joined as they got up for breakfast and her three kids watched the birth in between cartoons. They had been there, along with me, for the birth of their youngest child, Teagan, now nine months old.

Things continued to progress. After getting in the tub it was easier to simply relax into the labor process. At one point my midwife asked if things might be slowing down since I was so calm, which was not the case, it was just very relaxing and contractions came and went. I could feel my body literally contracting and pushing my baby down. I really wouldn’t categorize these a painful, in some ways it was akin to an abdominal workout where you are pushing it to your limits. When you are fit it doesn’t hurt, but feels strengthening.

Eventual things were moving along and my mom went to get James. She looked in all of the obvious spots and somehow couldn’t find him in our 950 sq ft apartment. At last she checked the bedroom again and found that he had actually fallen asleep on the floor, so as not to disturb the made up bed.

Not so long after James joined I knew that things were moving along. I could feel him getting closer and closer, letting each contraction work it’s magic. I shifted into a supported squat position, holding on to James’ arms, and let gravity help. I shifted back down onto my knees and with the next push the head was out.

One of the midwives came over to get a fetal heart rate with a Doppler and was surprised to realize there was a head. In my mind I was thinking, of course I know there is a head. She later commented that she’d never been at a birth where it wasn’t really obvious when that moment happened.

I shifted around onto my back and prepare to birth the rest of my baby, and then a last time onto my hip as I reached down and pulled our son up onto my chest. My water broke in the final moments of birth as well. Clark was slightly occiput, or with his head askew a bit from the ideal positioning, meaning he came out at a wider angle.

Our son Clark Pierce Hendrickson was born at 10:38 am. He had a reassuring first breath and had good color, looking around at the world. We knew right away that he was a big guy, later weighing in at 8lbs 14oz and 21in tall.

birth1While my expectations for the pain of child birth was that it would be less painful than most people make it out to be, the actual experience was even far less painful than I had prepared myself for. I guess I’ll thank nature’s drugs at work and count myself fortunate for having had the pleasure to birth in the comfort and privacy of our home.

We hung out in the tub for about ten minutes and then got out to birth the placenta. I squatted a bit and was told to give a big push, which was so big that the splash of blood was huge and even hit the midwife in the forehead. The placenta was one of the biggest that they had seen, at about ten pounds and with a very thick and healthy cord. Everything came out quick and easily and James cut the cord. When I started to stand to go back to the bedroom I became woozy and was very close to entirely passing out. Luckily I had already given Clark to James and was able to quickly come around.

We settled into bed and Clark began to nurse within the first bit. After us both being checked out we were recommended to take a four hour nap and then have a real meal. We napped and then my mom made dinner and we sat outside together on the front terrace with the sun setting through the trees and the perfect temperature. It was anything but quiet, with sirens, a presidential motorcade, and Saturday evening revelers, but it couldn’t have been more peaceful and relaxing. The weather was idyllic and we stayed there until dark was upon us. A beautiful way to spend our first day with Clark as part of our family.

Our big guy, with beautiful rosy cheeks, stole his mama’s heart from the start! If you are interested at all in home birth or a fabulous read, then I highly recommend Baby Catcher, by Peggy Vincent.

clark pierce 6.9One day old! So yummy and sweet!

Yogini Mama

Yogini Mama

Side angle at ten days before due date Side angle at ten days before due date.

This yogini mama is in the final stretch of pregnancy! With ten days before my due date, I figured it was time to document my progress with a few photos.

Side bump! Side bump!

I feel very fortunate to have continued to work out 5-6 days a week throughout my pregnancy. This has included sticking with advanced level three yoga and adding in prenatal yoga, tabada and boot camp style workouts, as well as swimming once a week for the last month.

Still popping up into forearm stand. Upside down bump! Still popping up into forearm stand.

It still sort of amazes me that I can easily pop up into forearm/headstand with relative ease. When I started progressing with my yoga I know it took months of practice to get there.

Before and after Mama’s got guns. Before and after.

This is actually a bit of a before and after. The photo on the left was taken two years ago, when I had just reached my initial weight loss goal (twenty pounds at that time). The photo on the right is clearly me with those and more back!

At 2.5 months pregnant with weights for that lost (and then gained!) At 2.5 months pregnant with weights for that lost (and then gained!)

This photo I took at two and a half months pregnant, with the kettle bells representing what I had lost (35lbs). Now I’ve gained that back, but if feel confident that I’ll get back to a new normal sooner than later.

After running my first half marathon a couple of weeks before getting pregnant. After running my first half marathon a couple of weeks before getting pregnant. I placed 3rd with a 9 minute mile!

Above you have the true before photo. I’m glad to that I ended up running my first half marathon several months earlier than planned for my training, which was conveniently a couple of weeks before becoming pregnant. I ran two 5ks early in pregnancy at 8 minute miles, but was glad to have had my first half behind me at that point!

Shadow bump at just over 8 months pregnant. Shadow bump at just over 8 months pregnant.

I managed to stick with it running until over eight months pregnant, and stopped while it was still easy.

Doing trapeze in early pregnancy. Doing trapeze in early pregnancy.
I have taken a break from the trapeze, though my last time was during early pregnancy.

Overall our little guy has been a trouper throughout! Folks at the gym joke that he’ll come up running! At least this mama can catch up with him.



Dupont Circle Rotary Trivia!

Site_LogoDear Friend​s​:​

​This is a very personal note about what Rotary means to me and how you can help pay it forward.

I first became a Rotarian over twenty years ago, when I was a Rotary Exchange Student to Finland in my junior year of high school. Of all my life experiences that have impacted where I am today, this was the most defining by far. It showed me that the world is so much larger and smaller than one could imagine from rural Oregon. It taught me about cultural awareness and how to respect different ways of doing things. It showed me the good in humanity and the importance of giving back. Beyond anything, it also taught me that anything in life is possible if you set yourself out to do it. I learned of Rotary’s ambitious goal of the eradication of polio and was inspired to follow a similar career path, one that wouldn’t have seemed plausible before Rotary opened up the world to me. I am eternally grateful for everything that Rotary has taught me over the years. My dedication to the organization is less about paying back for all the organization has done for me, but more about paying it forward to all the lives I know we touch each and every day to make the world a better place.

I’ve been very, very fortunate to have joined the Rotary Club of Dupont Circle nearly two years ago. I was seeking this club years before it formed and can’t imagine my life without it now. The club is considered to be one of the youngest and most vibrant around, comprised of an exceptional group of individuals. As a collective we are an eclectic group of young professionals with a wealth of international experience and perspectives. I am proud to be a part of this club and look forward to its continued evolution. The fact that I am co-chairing our upcoming fundraiser two weeks shy of my due date only attests to my commitment to the club. I encourage all of you in the DC area to join in the trivia festivities and ask those of you outside the DC area to consider giving what you can towards our success.

​T​​he Rotary Club of Dupont Circle is hosting its 2nd Annual Trivia Night fundraising event. Proceeds from the event will go towards the Rotary Foundation. Even if you cannot physically be present at our fundraising event, we invite you to join us in spirit and through your donation to the Rotary Foundation.

Sponsored by Rotary International, ​Dupont​ is a service-oriented club comprised of 36 committed individuals from the greater Washington, D.C. area whose professional and service aspirations extend far beyond the confines of the Beltway. Since its chartering just over two years ago, ​Dupont​ members have involved themselves in numerous service projects at home and abroad–from partnering with organizations such as Best Kids, FAIR Girls, and Martha’s Table in Washington to participating in peace and conflict resolution initiatives with partnering Rotary Clubs in Uganda, ​Dupont Circle Rotary​’s area of influence is anything but small. And we’re looking to expand our initiatives and resources once again.

With your help, our club can continue to promote Rotary’s mission to advance international understanding, goodwill, and peace through efforts to alleviate poverty, support education, and improve health standards on a global scale. Donating to the Rotary Foundation allows ​Dupont Circle to leverage matching grants to implement both local and global service projects.

Every donation counts, and any support you are able to provide is greatly appreciated. To donate to the Rotary Foundation, or to register for the event, please visit our event page or by visiting our website. We look forward to welcoming you to a ​Dupont Circle​ meeting when work or play brings you to Dupont Circle next!

If you are interested in serving as a sponsor for this event, please contact fundraiser@

bestkids 5k

Best Kids 5K Fundraiser with RCDC Mentors, April 2014

My SuperMom debut was a month ago after running a 5k at over 8 months pregnant! I made it in under an 11 minute mile to boot!​

Interested in checking out what our club is doing at home and abroad? Visit our website at to learn more.

To close with the Rotary Four Way Test RotaryMoE_RGB

​O​f the things we think, say, or do: ​I​s it the truth? ​I​s it fair to all concerned? ​ ​W​ill it build goodwill & better friendships? ​W​ill it be beneficial to all concerned?