Monthly Archives: February 2015

Mind-Builders

blackhistorymonth

When I was a girl, and my family and I moved from Brooklyn to the Bronx in 1985, my mom found Mind-Builders, a Black run community creative arts center which at the time held it’s classes in local Bronx Public Schools near 216th and later in Evander Childs. She enrolled my brother and I in drama, art and African Drums classes. I also took African Dance Classes there. Several years after they took over a large building just across the street and down the block from where we lived on Olinville Ave and that became the  center for the Mind-Builders Creative arts Program. There, I took more classes in drama, art and dance as well as attending a Summer at the children’s Day Camp. I remember coming home for lunch in the middle of the day because I didn’t eat the lunch they served there and mom made lunch for me. My brother was in the Positive Youth Troupe for theater and music there, a group that thrived successfully and turned out several successful Black performers.

I worked there as well in my twenties with a group of youth who met weekly to learn about and create presentations on all kinds of historical Black Pioneers. We had elders, community leaders and entrepreneurs come through to make presentations and lectures on self starting businesses, crafts, theater, dance history and more. We took the kids on field trips to the Museum of Native American Art (when it was still open), The Museo Del Bario and to performances by various African dance troupes.

It’s been a while since I thought about Mind-Builders but this morning I was on the train to work thinking, this is Black History Month and aside from posting and reposting articles on Facebook, I haven’t written anything here with regard to it. And then all these memories came flooding back into my mind about a time when I was deeply involved on a regular basis with a community organization which is Black owned and Black run and dedicated to the education and transformation of young Black lives through the arts.

Like many of the cultural events, programs, classes and rituals my mom enrolled my brother and I in, I probably took a lot of it for granted at the time. But now I see it as a badge of honor and pride to have been apart of something that was and is intended to uplift pride and self knowledge and confidence in Black youth. How could I only be remembering all that just now? I was part of the Mind-Builders family for years, from before they were even fully independent. I was so happy to google them just now and see that they are still going strong. I may even plan a visit out there one day soon to see what changes and developments have been made, and see if there are still any veteran directors around. I see that at least three of the original matriarchs I knew when they was just getting started, Madaha Kinsey-Lamb, Melveda Hughes and Egeria Bennett, are still listed under Staff and Board. That is so fantastic.

This week at my job there will a Brown Bag lunch organized by one of our newest employees of color for Black History Month. We have all been asked to contribute something and for my part I will be reciting a poem by Thomas Sayers Ellis who I discovered online looking for contemporary Black poets. I didn’t find anything by him at the local Barnes and Noble poetry section (only two books on the shelf were by a Black poet, Nikki Giovanni) but I ordered one yesterday because I really like his work. I will also more than likely be attending Open Expression in Harlem this Thursday where one of my favorite spoken word poets, Ed Toney will be the feature. There will be plenty of odes and expression of Black History in the space that night. So if you’re in NYC, come out and support Black History Month and Black Expression. Bring your friends, bring a poem, bring your own form of Black Pride.

I’ll see you there.

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Having Babies is Like…Natural

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Parikha Mehta vsco.com

Not every woman wants children. Not every women should have them. And through the years I myself have flip-flopped and yo-yoed over the possibility myself. But the truth is, I like kids. I’ve discovered recently that the fond memories of my childhood are what I use on a subconscious level to shield against a storm of negativity on a daily basis.  Also, pregnancy fascinates me. I think that because I’m married to a lovely and wonderful man whom I love being with and learning more about each day, I’ve been more and more preoccupied with the idea of adding to that loving number. That’s totally natural.

I’ve been having more discussions with mothers I know, friends, co-workers, my therapist and their experiences with pregnancy, labor and childbirth, have all been so incredible and various! There is absolutely no way to predict what one women’s pregnancy will be like based on another’s. The stories I’ve heard have ranged from the most miserable to the unbelievable. I’ve heard from a woman who vomited twice a day for seven months straight to another woman who had two babies, one literally behind the other in her stomach who could not stop eating during her entire pregnancy. She would eat and eat and eat and never feel full or satisfied. I’ve heard c-section stories, epidural stories. I’ve even heard from a new dad, a guy I really like about his nervousness, reservations and joy of being a new father.

Some of these families pay for childcare and are extremely underpaid at work. Some have their parents living in and taking care of the kids while they both work. Some share time taking care of their kids so that a dad will stay at home for a few years while mom works and then vice versa. Others appear to have stable enough careers that allow them not stress out too much over basic concerns with regard to childcare. All in all, they figured things out or are in the process of doing so.

The other thing I’ve realized lately is that my decision to have a child, while totally natural, will also affect others around me in ways that are beyond my control like so many decisions we make for ourselves. But the unique experience of bringing life into the world at least as far as I have observed is unparalleled. What’s been holding me back from the idea of having children, like many people, is the idea that I haven’t accomplished enough yet, haven’t done all I wanted, haven’t finished having fun. I remember a joke by the late comedian Bill Hicks, something like, “I don’t know with all the alcohol we buy if we can afford to have kids honey.” I still find that hilarious because of its perverse demonstration of the part of us that wants to control what makes us happy. The first time out doing anything that make you feel good, you want to have that experience over and over again. You might even think it’s just as good if not better than the last time. But the real significance is not in the comparison of the experiences to one another because they’re all different in their own ways. It’s about what you get out of them, what you learn from them, how the peel back your layers and whether or not you have the discipline it takes to moderate or discontinue practices that no longer serve you, that no longer challenge you.

I’m not saying I have finally found the discipline to do this in all areas of my life. But I do see what no longer serves me with regard to thinking a baby will somehow get in the way of all my fun and yet uncompleted accomplishments. I’ve also stopped thinking of myself as conceptually impregnable. I used to think of being pregnant (like many other things) as something only other women could do, and that the idea of me being pregnant was a very distant sort of abstract idea that I would often hold up to the light and examine but never really accept as a real possibility. But now I get it. Me pregnant would be just that. Me, but pregnant. Amazing, mysterious, adventurous, unpredictable, miraculous, ancient, ordinary and natural.

Why Ash Wednesday Freaks Me Out

Ok this is really random and I rarely post twice in a day but this morning I was riding the train downtown to work when I saw the first person with the ash cross on her forehead. It always creeps up on me. I was not raised “Religious” and so I never attended regular church services, though I have been to church plenty of times. I actually really love Catholic churches. But I have never practiced any “traditional” religion. So I’m never prepared for when Ash Wednesday rolls around and a smattering of people on their way to work and going about their daily routines are walking around Midtown with Ash crosses smeared on their foreheads

It freaks me out every time.

And here is why:

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Bull Pullman in “The Serpent and The Rainbow”

This is the image that flashes through my mind whenever Ash Wednesday rolls around. Go ahead. Laugh. It’s kind of funny but also kind of not. Cinematic images have this kind of indelible impact over the way in which I view so many things.

“The Serpent and The Rainbow” which was based on the book by We Craven, came out in the late eighties and successfully depicted a violent, racist and stereotyped idea about the nature of the Voodoo Religion in Haiti where is was shot. It made Black Haitians look like crazy, evil people who couldn’t wait to poison you, bury you alive, take your heart out, and drink your blood. This is essentially what they attempt to do the White Doctor played by Bill Pullman when he goes on a mission into the heart of darkness as White men do to look into a special medicine used in Voodoo rituals on behalf of a Western pharmaceutical company. Blah Blah Blah. He gets in over his head and ends up buried alive with a Bloody cross on his head.

Look, all I know is that despite the idea that the Holy Cross is perhaps meant to ward off demons and sinners or ghosts and spirits, seeing a cross on peoples heads every Ash Wednesday has the opposite effect of making me want to turn and run away from them as if they were possessed by whatever evil they’re supposed to be now free of. And it’s because of that image up there, because of the strange and falsely interpreted depiction of the Voodoo religion in a film that gets so much wrong with regard to Catholicism’s relationship to Voodoo, two Religions that are so much more closely linked than separate.

Anyway, I begrudge no one their freedom to worship freely. It just weirds me out that’s all.

Peace be with you.

Podcast Junkie: Listening VS Looking

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So maybe it’s not the best idea for me to listen to emotionally compelling podcasts during lunch because I tend to get very emotional and weepy when I learn about other people’s breakthroughs, especially when I can so closely relate or am deeply fascinated with the particular phenomena being discussed. But I can’t always tell how a podcast show will affect me and that’s part of why I like the ones I’m discovering so much.

I love taking in information through audio because it allows me to feel in a different way than when I am bombarded by imagery. Now you know I love imagery but podcasts have started to fill just as significant a space in my life as film and television media. This is partially because I can take them anywhere with me, listen to then any time and partially because people communicate differently when their means of communication is intended primarily for audio. I have yet to listen to any fictional podcasts. I just listen to people discussing topics and telling their own stories and I have to say that most of the time it really shifts the way in which I look at life and at people. But I suppose that has as much to do with the podcasts I choose to listen to than anything.

“Girl on Guy” with Aisha Tyler has recently become a fast favorite. I was never sure what to make of Aisha Tyler, a tall, beautiful Black  comedienne, the only Black Cast member “Friends” ever had, the voice of a sexy looking, snarky agent on “Archer.” I think I always thought she was too something to be funny. Too pretty…too feminine? No matter what I think, I tend to have predominantly white and or male expectations of comedy because it is literally over run with the two. And I mean Aisha is not funny looking at all. I mean that literally. Looking at Tracee Ellis Ross when she’s being funny in a still photograph makes me laugh. Tracee has a very unique combination of glam and comic going on. Looking at Aisha Tyler does not incite laughter for me.

But listening to “Guy on Girl” I find that Aisha Tyler is more than just funny. She’s emotionally generous, giving, supportive and sensitive to her fans. Sitting with people for anywhere from 45 minutes to over an hour talking and listening is not something a lot of people commit to on a whim. Although the podcasts I enjoy often have an interview format, the hosts I prefer thrive on letting the discussion meander off topic occasionally and not being restricted to a set of pre-authorized questions.  I  have decided that there is a very special talent involved in it, which requires both a presence of mind (and I can tell when someone is really there, particularly over the phone) and a genuine interest in human story. It’s rare. But when it’s real, it’s real and I find it addictive to listen to.

Yesterday I was scrolling around my podcast app at lunch when I came upon an NPR segment called “Invisibilia,” Latin for “All the invisible things,” a podcast which is described as being about “invisible forces that control human behavior.” This episode, which it turns out was the first in the series is called “The Secret History of Thoughts.” I found the study which was composed of anonymously shared stories to be disturbing, fascinating, heart breaking and hope giving. I can never anticipate what I will discover when I go looking for an interesting podcast but most of the time, it’s pretty amazing, inspiring and empowering for me. But then that is what I look for. So that’s what I find. I was obsessed with Ted Talks in this same way for a while last year. OOOOHH Ted Talks! They made me feel so smart! LOL!! I still love them. With podcasts I just get to use a different part of my being to “see” and engage without the conditioned reflexive pressure of comparison and judgement that often comes with “looking.”

I’m all about that.

When Dining While Black Yields Better Service

At Vics last night on the Lower East Side, I was dining with my husband and his cousin who was treating us to dinner when about 15 minutes after we were seated my husband commented that we were the only Black people there.

I told him I suspected he might be right but that I didn’t really want to do the look around and count. I kinda just wanted to be in my bubble with him and cousin S. I can do that. When I’m very comfortable with the people I’m dining with, everyone else literally becomes background. But as the night went on we all began to notice it and my husband and I shared an experience with cousin S that we had at Jacobs Pickles, another spot we love, wherein we noticed we were the only Black people seated in their dining are. But the thing is, they made us feel very welcome, attended to us quickly and warmly and okay, maybe it was our imagination, but it felt like when we walked in they were playing something John Mayer like. After a few minutes it was the best hip-hop and R&B mix ever! We were like yaaaassss!!! We love this! LOL!!

Umm…same thing happened at Vics last night. We had an excellent Black male waiter assigned to our table and all we heard on the stereo was A Tribe Called Quest, Common, Lauryn Hill, etc. I kid you not.

Look…

As a Black woman I am very used to being the only Black person or person with other Black people in a space dominated with White identified people. I know where I’m going and why and to that extent I understand why I experience what I experience in the places I choose to go based that. When I walk into a space dominated by White people I usually feel tense and apprehensive right away because lots of white people in one place make me nervous. Crowds and large groups of people are not my favorite period. I like small, intimate groups. But I have learned to be reasonably tense and nervous around White people in large dominant groups. Too much fucked up psychosis, overcompensation for guilt, latent racism, bleeding heart liberalism and more for me to deal with. I am only one Black person! I can’t be responsible for all of your…..feelings.

When we first walked into Vics, Cousin S was at the bar and the dinner space was literally empty. We were the first group to be seated. As the night wore on people poured in and I’m telling you because I looked around, that not a one of these patrons were Black except for us three. So it was easy for me to feel like I was in a protected bubble because we were there first and we were served impeccably. I was very happy with everything. We all were.

If I’m going to be the only Black person with Black friends and family in any restaurant, I completely approve of having the experience tailored for my enjoyment. Yup! Bring me the superb Brown wait staff and play me the greatest rap and hip-hop hits of the decade. I love it. Because I’m in my own world anyway, the same way Whites are in there own world, believing that situations like this never happen even when they witness it right in front of them and then believing when they witness it that it has nothing to do with them.

Now that’s just NYC. In NYC being surrounded by white people is not so intimidating because I can break out to Brooklyn or Harlem or parts of the Bronx if it starts to feel like an intellectual or physical lynching might be brewing. Upstate we have to be more careful. Not a lot of diners playing Common, Tribe and Lauryn up there.

Visions of Oshun

Oshun Collage
We’re all here for Oshun so I equate that with Oshun being here.

-PBS Documentary on the Nigerian Oshun Festival

So I’ve been working on this project lately that has required a study of different illustrations of the goddess Oshun. Oshun is one of hundreds of Yoroba Orishas, a Goddess who embodies, beauty, sensuality, healing, abundance, harmony, divination and the feminine archetype. I am discovering that there are many different interpretations of what Oshun represents but essentially she is in some ways to ancient African religions what the Virgin Mary is to Catholicism, what Venus or Aphrodite was to Romans and Greeks. But unlike those latter mentioned, Oshun, to my unending delight, is represented primarily as a very dark skinned Black woman. Her colors are represented as a constant spectrum of gold, amber, yellow and orange. She can be found near bodies of water and always carries a mirror. She likes sweet things and is often shown wearing a veil which allows her to see the world eternally as a sweet heavenly vision of beauty. Doesn’t that sound dope?

It hit me yesterday as I looked at all the googled images of her, how powerful the symbols of her identity are with regard to visual interpretations. With all the different versions out there, there are those basic elements that never change. Like the Virgin Mary, Venus or Aphrodite, artists understand that key colors, elements in nature and symbolic objetcs are what communicate to the viewer who and what this woman represents. This is art 101 obviously but I never really even understood this even in art history class. I wish it had been taught to me in this way. A Picasso version of the Virgin Mary will not look like Carravagio’s, but the basic symbolical indicators will be there somewhere whether literal, obscure, abstracted or minimized.

Blue, white, rays of natural light. Yellow, gold, mirror water nature. When we wear these colors, spend time in specific natural spaces, we can recognize that certain religions and cultures would see us as invoking saints, goddesses, gods, spirits that are represented by these things. We attribute powers to elements based on both ancient practice and natural metaphysical laws.

Why do the colors deep blue and purple represent royalty? Why does yellow invoke joy and lightness? Most of us have been conditioned to an unconscious reflexive knowledge of white as representing purity. The color black however has had the worst rap ever. Buried in decades of negative association with death, evil, abyss, black actually symbolizes the highest seat of wisdom as seen in clergymen and ministers who wear all black or martial arts masters who acquire the Black belt in the various disciplines of Martial Arts. We all know that a Black Belt can only be acquired with intense hard work and commands great respect. For me, seeing so many versions of Oshun with this dark black skin is even more of a validation and praise of the color black. It sends the message to my heart that blackness is beautiful, is sacred, is virtuous. And every version of Oshun must be dark skinned in order for me to understand that she is Oshun.

It is said that in the Vatican, there is a black version of the Virgin Mary hidden somewhere and that this is the one the Pope worships behind closed doors. Oooh! My google search of Black Virgin Mary has produced such a range of beautiful renditions! The darker Goddesses are stepping out into the light.
We make it so.
-Team Urban Eve

Have a Heart

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I’m not sure when it started but I’ve been a Valentine’s Day junkie since I was a girl. Even when I’ve been single I’ve found a way to enjoy Valentine’s Day. I just love hearts and love and tokens of love. Even on my tight budget, I couldn’t resist buying a set of Punch Studio Valentine’s Day cards at Barnes & Noble yesterday during lunch. I was at the post office buying heart stamps this morning (I’m also a stamp and stationary junkie) and the guy who was serving me asked if he was going to get a Valentine from me. Heehee!! I smiled coyly and listened to him talk about how seeing all the chocolates and hearts being mailed back and forth were making him a little jealous. I thanked him and made a note in my head. Maybe I should drop a box of chocolates off to him this week. LOL!! Well I wouldn’t want him to get the wrong idea but if I could get everyone a Valentine’s Day something each year I would. I never thought of Valentine’s Day as a day only for people with lovers but a day for people who are lovers. Lovers of love, giving and receiving love, should of course celebrate love every day, but on Valentine’s Day especially because there so many people who feel left out on that day when everyone paired up is off making special plans.

I just remembered! When I was a girl, my mom used to have my brother and I do lots of seasonal and holiday crafts. And I have a great memory of making a Big Valentine’s Day heart out of construction paper, with lace, glitter an arrow and everything on it. I think it was for my dad. I loved that heart. I loved all the work that went into it and how it turned out. In my mind it was perfect. I think that may have been when my V-day obsession started. I’m pretty sure I have a box of Origami paper somewhere that I used to make Origami hearts for co-workers last year. Hmm…I’ll need to find those. Yeah, I’m a regular Valentine’s Day Elf around this time. I like it even more than Christmas, to be honest. There’s so much you can do to show your love and appreciation without spending a dime. It’s the giving that matters. Make your feelings known! Love is so pretty! Single or not, why not show it off?

lucinda nicholas lipstick mark

Team Urban Eve

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I was out and about this weekend running errands and attending to my regular self care when it occurred to me that the women who provide indispensable services to me on a regular basis are some amazing women. And I have selected them especially not only because of excellence with which they provide these services but because of the love, warmth, support, and receptivity that come with it.

You know what I mean.

We pay for services all the time but if we have a pleasant experience, a deeply beneficial exchange with the person who delivers those services, we go as much for that loving, supportive inspiring energy as for the service itself.

My therapist is a woman who just rocks. Like, I love her! She challenges me, makes me feel safe, helps me to be more accountable for the goals I set and much more.  Her role in helping me in my journey towards helping me peel away the layers of my own psyche to reveal my purpose in this life has been indispensable.

There’s my brow technician in Chelsea. Unless I am really desperate, there is only one woman I want to do my brows. She’s the only one who makes my sparsely growing non-thick brows work. She just makes it work. And she is always, warm and sweet and hospitable and just makes me feel dope. I took my mom to see her the last time she visited me and if you knew me well enough, you would know how huge that is. If I’m taking mom to meet my brow tech, I love my brow tech. And mom approved. Mom approved.

There’s my weekly yoga instructor, an independent contractor who has been coming to my workplace to give staff yoga classes since 2009! I’m not saying I will never take yoga with anyone else and I certainly have before. But I have never in my life taken yoga consistently the way I have with Sara. It’s more than just the yoga. It’s Sara. It’s her energy. It’s her way of explaining and executing moves, of moving with us, of challenging us, correcting us, making us laugh, keeping it light but also as she says, respecting the divine in all of us and calling attention to the ways in which yoga is not just about moving the body but also the spirit, about accessing the infinite within. I need that. So I show up as often as I can.

As I adjust to my new life in Inwood I have seen several cute nail places in the neighborhood but in my mind I know there is still only one nail salon that gets my money. Bed of Nails Harlem is not just a nail salon to me. I go there as much to chit chat with my nail tech and other ladies in the shop while sipping a complimentary tea or Bellini as to get a set of amazing color changing gel done on my fingers. The women there do amazing nails as well as provide a warm, and comfortable space where you are encouraged to linger, sit, talk and converse while music plays. It’s a class act. And I am a person who is slow to warm up to people, but once I feel like I can let down my guard, I’m inquisitive, quick to laugh, learn, talk, teach, and take mental notes. I knew from the day I walked through those doors that I would return again and again.

Because, as women of color we often struggle to find spaces in which to engage with images of themselves that are not marginalized, destructive and stereotypical it is extremely important for us to carefully select other women who care for us in ways that are particular to serving our needs based on the goals we have set and the ways in which we wish to meet, influence and engage with the world.

Gathering in spaces regularly to get  pampered, fed, educated, mentally and spiritually stimulated, all the while learning and discovering things you never would have anywhere else is an absolute necessity.  My girl at SoulSistah4real always reminds me that in ancient times it was our divine right as women to make time for ourselves in this way, for self care, for emotional, mental and spiritual care.

It still is. And it is up to us to make that happen not only for ourselves but for each other.

 

The Dream of My Life

When you are making love all the time, everything is wonderful and beautiful, and you can grasp heaven.

-Miguel Ruiz

I know it’s not a concept that all of us can grasp immediately. But I know that even those of us who have allowed negativity to seize our true nature, have something in our lives that we define as happiness or a way to make love. Perhaps it was only when we were babies and barely “conscious” that we connected to it. Just because we cannot remember them, doesn’t mean those experiences are not there to tap into.

When I read the passage above, it made me think how amazing it would be to be making love all the time. And I don’t just mean the kind of love that can be made through the physical union of two or more human beings. I don’t believe this was the only type of love Miguel was referring to either.

I mean the kind of love you feel when you are experiencing something that allows you to forget that time exists, or that you exist in some instances, the kind of love that gives you a glimpse into the possibility of an end to suffering, fear, guilt and shame. This kind of love can be found nowhere but in your own ability to allow it within yourself.

I was in a meeting at work yesterday, the kind of retreat/strategic planning/lets talk about our problems and break into groups with post-its meeting that I’ve been in more times than I care to mention there. I’ve been sick with a cold and a cough but I sat there listening to presenters, friends and co-workers whom I believe all have a genuine intention to make our workplace better for everyone, ourselves and therefore those we serve. We always come up against the same issues though. burocracy, hierarchy, poor compensation, lack of support, poor communication, low-tech applications and more. But we’re changing. Things are better and worse at the same time, mostly due to the fact that we have new staffs, who are less tolerant of work models that don’t in fact work at all. But there is a tension, always a tension, which mainly goes unsaid in meeting like these about whose work is more important and should be prioritized, invested in, supported or re-classified.

It’s a conversation that never ends. And somewhere in it, there am I, listening and scribbling notes and wondering why we keep doing this over and over again, with no significant follow up. And then, as always, my mind starts to wander. My mind seizes on something more pleasurable, light, safer, a place that makes me feel…love. I start to scribble some words to try and describe the feeling. I write in tiny letters because the director is sitting right next to me. But for me the words fail to capture this place my mind wanders to. I end up crumbling the sheet and tossing it in my wastebasket when I get back to my desk after the meeting adjourns.

This morning I called out sick from work and finished reading “The Voice of Knowledge” in bed. The last chapter is called “The Tree of Life” and it was all about things like how we create our own Heaven. We know plenty about how we create our own Hells, but it’s never as obvious to us that we’re the ones doing the creating. I spent a lot of time in the meeting yesterday thinking about how this was never going to work, how these attempts were reductive and pointless. Not to mention the fact that I was sick and coughing every few minutes, blowing my nose and sitting in a freezing room. But in that moment where my mind wandered which is does often, because I’m a consummate daydreamer, there was only a sense of, a glimpse of a different state of being, which had nothing to do with all the day to day tension and misery that are commonplace for so many of us. We’re conditioned to think of daydreaming as escape, as not being in the present. But I think that daydreaming is just our mind’s way of retreating to a place more desirable than the one we are in because we feel incapable of experiencing Heaven where we are. How many times have teachers, parents and various other authority figures enforced the need for us to stop letting our minds wander and keep our feet on the ground?

As if the ground was the same for us all.

Anyway, reading this chapter made me want to retrieve my scribbled notes again. It made me wish I hadn’t listened to the “authority” in my head and gave some more regard to my own seeking to give shape to something evasive and yet indelible.

Having been home schooled and receiving the message that my playtime as valuable as my education, I can remember what it felt like to be “making love” more often than anything else. My mind was allowed to wander, to imagine, and to make believe, to create. In fact, it was encouraged. Maybe I thought that the whole world was always going to be one big toy for me to play with and enjoy. I was in parks, museums, gardens, doing crafts, and no matter where my bother and I were, be it Subway, bus or airplane, we always found a way to play, to make believe, to tell a story or read one. That was my reality for a long time. And I think this is why toys still figure so resiliently in my life and in my creativity. That part of me that likes to play is still there, though in a different way.  It’s the same feeling I get when I’m walking alone through Central Park in the Spring or with my husband at home just hanging out, the feeling of sheer defenseless, messy, hilarious play, of love, of trust. I think it’s easy for me to access creativity and inspiration and spirit through play, writing, story and music. For others it could be cooking, painting, dancing, balancing a checkbook or cleaning the space around you. Whatever it is, it’s the dream of your life that you create.

Imagine being in that place all the time, feeling that way all the time, playing, creating, sharing, making love all the time! Is it possible?

From an early age, the importance of our dreams are often diminished by the lies we begin to believe or they’re supported, encouraged and valued as more important than others. The truth is, they are all important, all beautiful, all valuable, as long as they come from a place of love. Often the people who act from a loving place sound illogical, naive, unrealistic or “crazy.” These are usually the kind of people who usually catch my attention, the attention of the daydreamer, the infinitely playing, infinitely creating love maker who never dies in any of us. In some of us that spirit still waits patiently to be addressed like a child waiting for it’s parents to stop working so that they can watch it discover life and remember…

Journal Journey

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I just finished my journal today. My last journal of 2014 with one entry in 2015. Ending a journal has always been a bit of a thing for me. It’s always a thing for me when I finish anything. And I finished some big things in 2014. I finished my undergraduate degree. I got married.

I started looking for a new journal a week ago and I noticed right away that I wasn’t drawn to any of the heavily decorated or inspirational journals I used to love. This last journal was a dark brown and leather bound CUNY journal that was given to me and and two other co-workers for a job well done. It had lined pages and a place for a matching pen to slide in on the right. It was functional, practical and elegant, understated. Not like the kind of journals I’ve liked in the past at all. But I loved it! It fit right into my shoulder bag and would lay open on easily on my lap when I wanted to write outside, on the train or at a lecture.

So now I want my next journal to be equally as plain and functional and elegant like a Moleskin, except not a Moleskin. My last journal also had places  inside the cover where I could slip in notes and swatches. Just because I’m a crazy person doesn’t mean I have to have a crazy looking journal. LOL!

That’s the lesson I have taken away here.

I still remember the deeply offensive reaction I stifled when my mom gave me my first diary as a girl. It was of the variety that had a key and a lock, gold edged pages, lines and dated sections. It was orange. I did not like it. It felt so restrictive to me and girly in a way I could not locate myself in. Believe it or not, I also had nothing I wanted to write about. So I wrote entries for my Barbies instead. LOL! And then I wrote about myself later.

The first Journal I ever liked was one I got from a girls book club that I joined as a preteen. It had an “about me” page in the front with questions about your favorite clothes, colors, boys you liked, etc. It looked like a book and not a tiny tome. I was also just really impressed that I got it from a book club that I joined on my own. It made me feel special.

I have had so many different kinds journals since then that they fill at least two large boxes. Page color, texture, shape all affected my ability to write. The page is still very important to me. I take my journal searches very seriously because the page is like a home to me. I have to be able to lay bare on it even if I don’t like what I’m writing, maybe especially then. Journaling was a way for me to as a way to record and reflect, remember and sometimes relive moments of my life. Now, I do it mostly as a way to get things out of my head, to take notes and to just jot down ideas, dreams and poetry the minute they come to me. Of course I occasionally do this on my iphone as well. But it’s hard to replace the fun that comes from reading and decoding your own distinctively psychotic handwriting right?

LOL!