Message of The Cardinal: Bird Sexism and The New Moon in Leo

Cardinals have existed in NYC forever but I only started noticing them in parks a couple of years ago. Though I can’t see how I’ve missed them all this time. They’re the most brilliant, bold, hard to miss birds ever!

I took my mom to the New York Botanical Garden last week and saw the first one I’ve seen all Summer. And then last Sunday while walking through Fort Tryon Park with my husband, I spotted another. I got close enough to take a picture and posted it on IG where I mentioned that I tend to think of Cardinals only as male, since I make the immediate association with Cardinals in the Catholics church that they’re named after and I felt bad about that because this one could very well be a female. Indeed, one of my followers identified the Cardinal in my photo as female because of the dusty brown coat and I confirmed the id through google. Why did I choose to confront my own bird sexism at that moment? Who knows! Maybe I felt her feminine bird vibes.

LOL!!!

Cut to the New Moon in Leo and it’s connection to the spiritual meaning of Cardinals.

I don’t practice my New Moon and Full moon rituals consistently like I should but I am generally always aware of the phases. In relation to my cycle, my flow of energy and the energy of those around me, my cat being more high strung than usual, the moon phases are always connected.

Not surprisingly, the New Moon in Leo is all about finding your authentic voice and using it to express and fulfill your desires and taking bold risks towards manifesting your dreams. Leo, at it’s best, is a proud, noble and heroic sign, all qualities that I sometimes struggle with representing in a substantial way. But when I see the Cardinal, something about it draws me closer without thinking twice. The Cardinal’s bright red color and pointy crest with black framing its eyes and beak, is so attractive, regal and alert. It is visually and spiritually inspiring as well as unmistakably easy to spot. Cardinals are a bright beacon of courage and a call to action.

The confidence flowing from the Cardinal exemplifies the recognition of its own powers and gifts, and doesn’t take it lightly or for granted

If a Cardinal has flown into your realm today, spend time in retreat and ask yourself, what could be the message from the Cardinal be showing me? Do I need to own my power? Do I need to slow down? Only you can know what the message is, and how to put it to use in your life…

Black Leos2

For me, the Cardinal represents the ushering in of Leo New Moon energy. Leos don’t shrink for anyone. In fact, they seek unabashedly to be seen, receive recognition, honor and notoriety in whatever path they choose to dedicate themselves wholly and nobly in service to others. Think President Obama, Angela Basset, Iman, Viola Davis, Marcus Garvey and James Baldwin who are just a few among many Leos who best exemplify these qualities

It’s time for me to untangle myself fully from learned associations of low self worth, shyness and fear and step up to the task of being unapologetic in the ways I work, love, self care, create, play, rest and restore myself. The first steps I’ve taken forward have been shaky and uncomfortable. But growth usually is. Leo demands self promotion, courage, and authenticity. It also requires that you are aware of of your own purpose and gifts. No one can advocate for you like you can for yourself.

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Who Am I to…

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

-Marianne Williamson

Have you heard this quote before? It’s from “A Return to Love” by Marianne Williamson, a book I really do need to read again. I was laying in bed one Friday morning, not wanting to get up for several reasons and observing the thoughts my mind engaged in as a way of self protection, avoiding confrontation, and comforting myself. I even remembered some dreams I was having.

If you check out your dreams, not necessarily the exact details but the feels, the general scenarios and the people who pop up, you get to know what is your subconscious spinning an escapism narrative involving comfort against fear, anxiety, and unhappiness and what is your intuition speaking to you from beyond all that, which is something that can happen even when you’re awake.

Continue reading Who Am I to…

Notes on 4:44: Black Male Vulnerability

You know I thug em, fuck em, love em, leave em 
Cause I don’t fuckin’ need em
Take em out the hood, keep em lookin’ good
But I don’t fuckin’ feed em 

-Big Pimpin

Jay-Z

Everybody wants to be needed on some level

Chris Rock

 

My brother was the one who brought Jay Z into my world. And a lot of what my brother paid close attention to when I was growing up inevitably entered my consciousness as well. X-Men comic books, metal ninja stars, GI Joe, Hip Hop…

I remember my brother buying a lot of Jay’s albums and a long landscape poster of Jay Z on his bedroom wall. I didn’t think he was attractive. He just looked like a regular dude to me, whatever that means, but his confidence was undeniable. And I remember thinking, who is this guy? What capital does he have to impress me with if he’s not super good looking? When I listened to him, I got it right away. He was not unlike like Sinatra who was also no studio heart throb. That didn’t matter though. He was gonna do it his way.

Continue reading Notes on 4:44: Black Male Vulnerability

Hearting Cardi B…again

If you a pusssy you get popped,

you a groupie you a op,

Bet you come around my way,

you can’t hang around my block.

And I just checked my accounts,

Turns out I’m rich, I’m rich, I’m rich.

I put my hand upon my hip,

I bet you dip, he dip, she dip…

So I woke up Monday morning and spirit told me I needed some music. I woke up my iphone and looked st 4:44 but then I was like, lemme listen to a woman’s voice for a change. I’ve switched to Tidal since 4:44 dropped and I’m still rebuilding my playlists there. I pulled up Solange and played “A Seat at the Table while putting on my make up and dressing for work. But when I hit the street, I played “Bodack Yellow.” And when I got on the train I played “Bodack Yellow.” And when I got off the train I played “Bodack Yellow.” And on my way to buy breakfast, I played “Bodack Yellow.”

You get the point…

Turns out my girl Khalilah, who has loved Cardi for much longer, was on that Bodack Yellow wave length that morning as well.

It was instinctual. I think it may have been the culmination of residual collective feminine energy that I got from the our weekend Soul Sistah Series “Spirit of Intimacy” event. In this case, Cardi B on “Bodack Yellow” just delivers on a gut level, a power level. It just hits on all the right places. And I know many will say it’s ghetto, ratchet, ignorant, maybe even exploitative. But I can’t help what I feel. With music, I listen with my heart or I try to. And I can’t deny it. The more I listen to Cardi B, the more I really like her, the more I really hear an authentic, fighting but sweet person inside. Even in her decisions to alter her appearance, I get authentic, no bullshit reasoning. Plus, I never knew a woman could have a deep and cute voice at the same time. LOL!! She’s so hood and tough and adorable.

Who does that?

But I’m not intimidated by her toughness. I respect her gangsta. I’m inspired by her. And as I said before, I never in a million years expected to even like her.

I’m discovering that Cardi B has more than just a couple of marbles rolling around in her head. She reminds me of girls I went to high school with that I looked down on and reduced to a stereotype because my colonized mind couldn’t imagine that their values were worth considering. She also reminds me of girls who made me laugh about silly shit in high school and whom I harmonized with in class on some fluffy pop song in a moment of candid downtime.

Ultimately, Cardi is a real woman, who pushes and punches through all the haterade to defy the forces who tell her who she should and shouldn’t be and what she does and doesn’t deserve in life. Many years ago, I was easily one of those people.

Today, I need Cardi B in my life. I need Bodack Yellows and Pop Offs to get my energy up sometimes and feel unstoppable. You see male rappers do that as well, but a woman like Cardi B. puts the Pussy glitter as gold in the mix. And then all I can do is feel dope as hell.

LOL!

Thank goodness for evolution.

 

My First Successful Eye Shadow Look using more than two colors! LOL!

This past weekend, I had a little down time and decided that since I had no plans to leave the apartment, I should start practicing one of my favorite eye shadow looks, demonstrated flawlessly by my eyeshadow guru, Kelsee Briana Jai. I have to do it like this, when I have time to play and make mistakes so that hopefully, when I’m hustling out the door in the morning I can execute beautiful eye looks in only a few minutes. After I was done doing the look, I edited a short bootleg, no-tutorial, eyeshadow tutorial and kind of a review of the products I used. LOL!

Yes, that’s as crazy as it sounds. Cudos to you ladies who can look at your face while talking and putting on make-up at the same time! I’m not there yet!

Enjoy my just so pretty silliness and sparkle porn!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Tidal Got Me: 4:44 and The Story of OJ

Light nigga, dark nigga, faux nigga, real nigga
Rich nigga, poor nigga, house nigga, field nigga
Still nigga, still nigga

I was up late Friday night doing some work and conversing with Khalilah through Whatsapp. Jay Z’s 4:44 album dropped and she was raving about it. I learned about it from Mahershala Ali as he is featured in a video component of the album. I am a Mahershali Ali Day 1 stan just so you know. That short snippet of him punching a boxing bag with Danny Glover as his coach had me at hello. And then there’s Jay-Z’s lyrics over a laid back and emotionally nostalgic beat.

Letter to my father that I never wrote?

WHAT? Who is not immediately pulled in by that? But when I looked for it on iTunes it wasn’t there, and I learned from Khalilah, that it might never be released on other digital streaming platforms. I grew more and more annoyed with every social media rave review. This shit is really only on Tidal! I cannot begin to explain how frustrating and how dope that is at the same time. So I signed up. It’s the same price a month as Apple Music and is owned by Jay-Z. I think it’s a Boss move. He got my money, and I got an exclusive, powerful, elevated, beautiful, revolutionary and transformative Black experience.

I’m not gonna go into the album right now. I’ve listened to it once and really like it but I still need some time with it. Lets talk about the video for “The Oj Story”and how it gave me everything I didn’t even know I needed or could have in my life like 2 minutes in.

You wanna know how Jewish people own all the property in America?

Jay Bo on the cornerI think a semester long course on Jay’s choice of visual narrative, the lyrics, the symbolism, his message about generating wealth in the Black community and how much money has been made off of Black people to generate wealth for Whites could be taught on this track and video right now. There would be a waiting list a mile long to sign up for it.

The credits open to an animated cartoon cotton field  in the style of racist minstrel animation of the 1920s. I noted how close the opening was to Warner Bros cartoons like Bugs Bunny that I used to watch daily as a girl. Jay-Z plays a character called Jay-Bo, a version of Little Black Sambo.  Nina Oj StoryHe narrates as a laid back, cool and “free” agent in this animation that was created to dehumanize, humiliate and clown Black people at a time when “Civil Rights” was a distant dream. A sample of Nina Simone’s “Four Women” plays as an animated Nina Simone plays piano in a Burlesque club and Jay raps about how credit is more important than making it rain.

Very early on you see a wooden cross being erected invisibly into the sky. It gives me chills because my body knows this is not about Christianity. Or is it? The next time we see the cross is in the background of a landscape of slaves picking cotton in unison. The cross bears down on them oppressively from on high. Is he commenting on the way in which Christianity has kept us controlled, rootless and poor?

The scene that really stays with me (I’ve only viewed three times so far) is when Jay-Bo sings the rhythmic but sobering hook, with a noose around his neck in front of a crowd of racist White onlookers who are all watching him hang. In the corner we see one little White boy turn to the viewer and smile from ear to ear.

YOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!

JAAAAYY!!!

I bought some artwork for 1 million
2 years later, that shit worth 2 million
Few years later, that shit worth 8 million
I can’t wait to give this shit to my children

Y’all think it’s bougie, I’m like, it’s fine
But I’m trying to give you a million dollars worth of game for $9.99

Screen Shot 2017-06-30 at 10.53.46 PM

At the end of the video, Black people in the city borough neighborhoods jump for joy as Jay drops fistfuls of cash on them, a happy ending as it were. Why not? Why are we the only ones who get taught that money is the root of all evil and that we have to Sambo our way through life, turning the other cheek and pouring all of our money into a system that continues to divide and murder us?

It is masterful. No pun intended. Well, actually Jay is the master, so pun intended. Listen, I rarely try to talk anyone into doing anything I do just because I love it but if you’re Black and you don’t already subscribe to Tidal, you need to do it now. Just do it to experience this album. You can cancel anytime. But if you understand anything about the message of this album at all, at this time in Black history, then you will keep subscribing.

Nobody wins when the family feuds.

Oh, I’ll get to the album review soon…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bodak Yellow: The Day I Became a Cardi B Fan

I’m the hottest in the street
Know you prolly heard of me
Got a bag and fixed my teeth
Hope you hoes know it ain’t cheap
And I pay my mama bills
I ain’t got no time to chill
Think these hoes be mad at me
Their baby father want a feel

I don’t know how I felt about Cardi before I watched this video. I never really thought about it. I never watched Love and HIp Hop so unlike her day 1 fans, my knowledge of Cardi B has been peripheral at most. I’ve heard soundbytes. I know she rhymes. I saw her on an episode of “Being Mary Jane” last season and I was definitely amused by her performance. But I didn’t know who she was, or feel who she was until I heard Bodak Yellow.

I clicked on the video this week and let me tell you, the last thing I ever expected was to be moved as fuck. The economy, directness and purpose of the bars she lays on this track are astounding. She’s not doing anything more than what is true to Cardi B. She doesn’t say anything unnecessary. She just says who she is and what she does and how not to come for her.

Now she say she gon’ do what to who?
Let’s find out and see, Cardi B
You know where I’m at
You know where I be
You in the club just to party
I’m there, I get paid a fee
I be in and out them banks so much
I know they’re tired of me
Honestly, don’t give a fuck
‘Bout who ain’t fond of me
Dropped two mixtapes in six months
What bitch working as hard as me?
I don’t bother with these hoes
Don’t let these hoes bother me
They see pictures, they say goals
Bitch, I’m who they tryna be

…..Where’s the lie?

I can’t find it.  And the beat is so hot, the video so sexy and watchable. How she looks exactly like that tiger in the video though? It’s like her spirit animal!

Most of all, it just made me want to know more about Cardi B. Yes, she talks about the consensual exchange of sexual favors for goods and makes it sound empowering without a hint of humiliation towards either party. She also talks about paying her mother’s bills, so she cares about family. And she’s a real rapper, not a pop one. She invests a lot in her looks and I’m not hating on that at all but she also puts a lot into her work as a rapper because her rhymes are tight and there is more than a little substance there. It’s like when Drake, who can also be a bit superficially preoccupied (aren’t we all?) talks about taking care of his team and his family and how the maintenance of that community means as much to him as making it big and staying there.

This weekend Souls Sistah Series got together to “Talk ish” about Amber’s Rose Bush, Rev Al’s thirst trap and Cornrow Kenny (Not Kendrick. Just watch it. LOL!) Though we did not discuss Cardi B., I’m certain we will get around to her and her bloody shoes and money moves soon. Until then, enjoy our shenanigans.

AND HAPPY FRIDAY!!

The Leather Year

Anything that brings people to express to one another something other than normal day-to-day life touches on the spiritual world, on the ancestral world, and therefore is a ritual event.

-Sobonfu Some

“The Spirit of Intimacy”

 

Today, my husband and I celebrate our third year of marriage. Like many of us, I’ve been aware of the traditional wedding anniversary gifts for some time but I recently felt I needed to know the meaning behind each one because as much as I love tradition, I try to be cognizant of not following it blindly.

I did a little online research and I’m not surprised to learn that it goes back to Europe and Germania from the middles ages. Reading the significance of each gift though, I actually really like it.

1st year Paper

The first year of marriage is like a clean sheet of paper, a new beginning upon which to write your passage through the years together.  Also like paper, it is fragile and can easily rip, not having yet been tried by the fires of adversity and the storms of life.

2nd Year Cotton

Like the interwoven fibers of cotton, the second year of marriage brings a couple closer together as their lives become increasingly intertwined. And as cotton is at the same time both strong and soft, the couple is learning how to be flexible and adapt to each other’s needs.

3rd year Leather

Leather has traditionally symbolized protection and covering; our ancestors covered and protected themselves from the elements with the leather hides of animals.  The bonds of marriage offer security and shelter as each partner takes care of the other. Now in its third year, the growing relationship is becoming a source of stability for the married couple.

SOI Collage2.jpg

I will stop here because my husband and I are in the leather year and I don’t want to skip ahead. I have to say that the meaning for leather makes total sense to me and that I have been experiencing these aspects of our bond this past year. At the Soul Sistah Series discussion of The Spirit of Intimacy that we had last weekend, I felt blessed to be in a space with Black women who felt comfortable enough to share the different feelings, findings and thoughts on the various phases of their relationships with a significant other, past and present. I found that I was not alone in the challenges I faced with my honey bunches (don’t judge me. We’ve had cutesy names for each other for years) in the past year or so. I’ve always known I wasn’t alone and have benefited from the counsel of friends, and therapy which I attend faithfully. But there’s nothing like being in a collective space with Black woman with the goal of deconstructing and dismantling our colonized relationship myths to make space for application of traditional African approaches that honor our ancestors and the meaning behind the spirit that draws us to one another, to build community, nurture purpose, love, liberate and create. Wow, that was a long sentence. I agree. LOL!

Before we embarked on our discussion of “The Spirit of Intimacy” Khalilah, gathered us in a circle in the back yard of the dining establishment (Black owned y’all) to set intention by honoring and pouring libation for our ancestors. We started in a circle and closed out in a circle.

In this same way, I look to the symbolism of the traditional wedding anniversary gifts as a way to recognize how far we’ve come and what level we’re at in this particular relationship with one another and I also wonder about indigenous ways we can begin to do this or what’s a more African version of this gift giving ritual? Because honestly, I don’t always care about gift giving for gift giving sake. We really only cherish things we receive from others when we can attribute a special meaning to them and that meaning usually has to do with the spirit in which is it was given. If I have learned noting from this book, it’s that the spirit is always at the core of any relationship and must never be forgotten. Without it, relationships become empty, without true purpose or meaning. And really, without relationship, we have nothing.

What I honor about my marriage to Francis today, is the way in which our ability to really dig into and confront our issues by facing up to some uncomfortable realities has allowed us to come out on the other side still dedicated to loving and supporting one another and being stronger and better for it. But I could not have done that without the help of others, my besties, my family, my counsel not to mention, our cat. LOL!

We hope to see you at our next gathering to dig deep into “The Spirit of Intimacy” in July! More details on that to follow. Until then, please find ways and rituals to honor the spirit of relationships that are sacred to you. They won’t evolve on their own. You bring the water, and the earth will meet you.

3 yr anni

Yours,

Urban Eve

 

 

 

 

My Top 5 Favorite Black Beauty Vloggers

I’ve always loved make-up but really only dabbled in the basics, like lipstick, mascara, eyeliner, the occasional shadow and some powder. But a few months ago, after I had seen the umpteenth chick with dark spots and large pores and hyper pigmentation completely transform herself on camera, I became obsessed with using make-up to achieve a smooth and pore-less look because I have always admired smooth, pore-less looking skin. I say look because that is exactly what well done make-up magic achieves. A look. Getting clean enough on the inside so that you never really need make-up is a different story. And gauging whether or not one actually “needs” it or not is another.

I dived into watching Youtube tutorials which has taken me into a whole other world of reviews on best primers, foundations and color correcting palettes for Black women with a range of skin tones. My morning make-up ritual now takes a little longer but thanks to Youtube I have successfully figured out the right look for me and the products and tools that work best for my complexion within my budget.

Over time, I have watched probably hundreds of videos by countless Black beauty vloggers and love many of them for different reasons. Below, in no particular order, I have listed my top five.

Kelsee Brian Jai

I loooove how she does eye shadow! She makes it looks so easy but in real life, it takes time, patience and a real passion to create these spectacular, expertly blended eye looks.

Ambra Emerald Eyes

Ambra is one of a few Beauty Vloggers I’ve run into with short cropped hair and her face shape is just so adorable. I love her product reviews on best or personal fave foundations for woc.

Nappy Headed Jojoba

I don’t know if she would call herself a beauty Vlogger persay but Nappyheadedjojoba just kind of reviews whatever she likes and gives you the real deal on how it works for her. I stumbled on her account during my wig craze.

C Key

I love CKey’s grown woman energy. She is not only truly make-up obsessed but she also tries to emphasize how important the role inner confidence plays in inner beauty.  I actually caught her on IG live last night and her warm, vivacious and engaging energy comes through the same way it does in her videos. You feel just like you’re chatting with a girlfriend you’ve known for years. Her videos that feature her daughter (her mini me) are a lot of fun.

Cydney Black

Cydney is just a morsel of a girl with two different color eyes, whose brand is very cute and funny and light. Her make-up tutorials with her mom really make me happy. They both work in make-up and are so pleasurable to watch together.

*  * * * * *

I guess my make up and skin care rituals are easier for me to keep up with than others because the pay off for me has been so immediate. Since beginning my nighttime skin routine I haven’t had major break outs in months and my skin is always smooth and moisturized. And thanks to a solid make-up routine, I get to look as flawless as I want on the daily depending on the time and skill I put in in the mornings.

I don’t know about you, but I think that often when we begin a self care ritual and don’t see results, whatever our goals are, we get gripped by fear that it may never work and give up too soon before we invest anymore time. I struggle with that a lot. So what I’m trying to do with those practices that require more patience, like healthy eating and exercise is to look at them like seeds. While I may not see anything peaking out from the earth yet, I have faith that underground, something is happening. Intention is as powerful as execution but the fact is, both have to work hand in hand to achieve results.

Black YouTube: Lets get information!

As I’ve mentioned before, Black lifestyle and beauty vlogs on YouTube have been my latest obsession. There are anywhere from 3 to 6 YouTubers I follow and look forward to watching on a weekly basis and I’ve started to realize that for me, it’s not just about make-up and lifestyle. I mean obviously, yes, it’s definitely what gets me watching in the first place. But the other part of it is a sense of community with Black women who are, yes, as enthusiastic about the art of make-up as I am but also a way to feel joined with Black women all over the world who share varying ideas, not only about their favorite beauty products and self-care rituals and routines, but also about their lives their opinions on currents issues, their families, their relationships, their goals and more.

I love it when children run into the frame and interrupt the format of a beauty vlog and mommy just incorporates it and makes it work. I love the heartfelt husband and boyfriend tags. I love the beautiful and countless range of skin tones we have and how relentless some of us are in seeking out products that work for our skin tone and supporting Black business that work towards serving our needs.

Black Youtube constantly reaffirms for me, that I need never step outside of my own community for diversity because we are soooooo diverse. I follow women from the continent, from Canada, from the UK, Ireland and Holland! We’re everywhere and always have been.

Whenever I’m editing footage for our own Soul Sistah Series youtube channel, I’m always as engaged as I was participating in the conversation. I laugh, I dance, I lean in. I feel privileged to be able to create content with someone who emphasizes this form of social media as one of many formats that are integral to our unity, community and self empowerment.

Spirit of Intimacy (2)

Click below and join as we discuss the ways in which “The Spirit of Intimacy” came into our lives, how minding your business is UnAfrican (LOL!) and how it has positively influenced the ways in which we function in our relationships.

We look forward to discussing the book with you in person at our June 11th event! Today is your last to purchase early bird tickets for $30 so don’t miss out!

Yours truly,

Urban Eve