Tag Archives: inspiration

How Do You Enter The World?

Like anyone else I go through these periods of stress wherein I feel like I just need quick management devices just to get me over the latest hump and into the light of “sanity.” This can be anything from eating, to music, binge watching television. The last few weeks it’s been B&J Chunky Monkey and “West Wing.” Don’t let anyone tell you that comfort and revelation cannot be had while shoveling cold hunks of banana ice cream into your face and watching Anna Deavere Smith explain a plan of U.S. military attack to President Bartlett in the situation room.

In Episode 17, “US Poet Laureate,” Laura Dern who plays the poet Laureate tells Toby Zeiglar, the President’s Speech Writer (I made a mistake in my podcast and called him the Communications Director) that poetry is the way in which she enters the world. It was a rare moment of tenderness she shared with Toby given the dark, gruff, curmudgeonly know -it-all behavior he usually reserves for most of the people he works with. I was just kind of blown away by that idea of ways in which we enter the world. Her exact line, “I write poetry. It’s how I enter the world.” just kind of hovered in a cloud over my head and deeply resonated with me.

You can listen to me talk more about the ways in which I enter the world here on my soundcloud podcast for Urban Eve. I understand the way we enter the world as the bridge we build collaboratively from birth through relationship with others, with nature and with spirit. The way I enter the world has brought me along the path most closely associated with being an artist but it has also allowed me to cross paths with a broad range of other travelers who define their art in ways that broaden my understanding of what it means to be an “artist.”

How do you feel you enter the world? What are those things that you are aware of on a very basic level which connect you to the understanding you have about the world and your place in it? What brings you fully into the present, fully and completely?

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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.

 

Sunday Morning in Bed with Two Geminis

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“I know you’re happy, cause I can see it

So tell the voice inside your head to believe it.”

Yesterday, one of my friends posted the story about Kanye fans not knowing who Kanye West is. I didn’t bother to read it but I thought my friends’ own written byline, “This is why we can’t have nice things.” Was hilarious.

This morning I discovered by chance that the story was the result of a song the two recently collaborated on together. I went to my itunes app just to see what was new and saw a photo of Kanye and McCartney representing a new single, “Only One.” I had a happy flip out, listened to a sample and then bought it.

I knew nothing about the song but I knew it was sung from the spirit of his mother the minute he began to sing. She is his heart. Tears came to my eyes as I listened and felt every word coming from a divine place. Later on, reading that his daughter was sitting on his lap when the words came to him was just the most incredible way to start off a rainy Sunday in a new apartment I could think of. Especially after talking with my own mother, an incredible woman I love, for hours last night.

So much about this collaboration is huge. The generosity of a music giant to fall back and support this Black Genius while he channels the spirit if his beloved mother while his beloved baby daughter sits on his lap. It’s just…beyond. The amount of trust that requires is just so deeply moving to me, so fragile and strong at the same time. Okay, I’m getting emotional again. Like I’m just overwhelmed with feelings I cannot put into words here which means that I might have to get a bit abstract and write a poem about it over on eternalista.

This is what I love about music! Its ability to mend, to build, to bring together, to heal and to channel the divine is just…hope giving. It’s magical, spiritual, miraculous and political all at once!

Geminis like to have their fingers in a lot of pots at the same time. As a typical Gemini sun, Gemini rising, I know this first hand. Sometimes it wears us thin and fizzles out, and sometimes it produces something unforgettable. But I’m starting to learn that what’s important is focusing on the process living a creative life, if you so choose and not the outcome. Dedication to the process ensures the outcome will always be what it should. Success has a multitude of faces.

Kanye and his mother are still together, still collaborating all the time. He’s always felt this. I feel it as well. Kanye’s fearless sharing through art is always an inspiration.

Inspiring Envy

When I was a girl in the 80s I can remember when I first started hearing stories about kids in the Brooklyn getting killed over their sneakers. In the 90s I wrote a story for New Youth Connections about many of the items made in America that supported the Apartheid regime in South Africa. These issues heavily influenced my decision not to buy sneakers, at least not popular ones, period.

A few months ago this year I was in my local AT&T store in Harlem upgrading my iphone 4 to the 5s model. As I was sitting there at the table waiting for young lady attending to me to check on a few things, I looked around the store at the standard set up. I noticed the motto in large print against one the walls opposite from me for the new HTC phone. It read “Built to inspire envy.” My immediate reaction was, why would you want to inspire envy? The two words put together are the evil genius of advertising. Naturally I was implicit in all of this because here I was upgrading my phone, a phone that my husband would repeatedly warn me to never expose in public because of stories in the news about rampant theft of iphones, particularly in the subways. And yes, I realize that the intent of Big advertising has been evil for some time. But for some reason, reading that logo in the AT&T store that day made me realize that we as consumers willingly contribute to the inspiring of envy to a staggeringly larger degree than the inspiring of creativity and self knowledge without even really thinking about it. Our whole society screams out, “Look at what I have! Don’t you want it too? Want what I have! Aspire to look like me and live like me, talk like me, smell, look, dance, dress like me!”

Advertising is smart, sexy, and seductive and as a rule plays on our greatest weakness, the idea that we are not enough. I’m no exception. I may be selective about my vices but I still have them. I don’t watch television very much (except on Scandal Thursdays) but when I get online, that’s when I really have to curb myself. There is just so much information coming at you at speeds impossible to process, and you’re taking in stuff, you’re not even aware of. Because of the ways in which online and television media speaks to stereotyping and trendsetting, definitions of beauty, sex, entertainment and object worship, we as human beings are often walking advertisements ourselves. So advertisement also inspires isolation, because a culture of people who cannot engage with one another beyond the compatibility of product placement on our bodies can never truly connect at all.

Overall, it made me a bit panicky. It was like having someone tell you that although you never pulled the trigger to kill Bambi, you actually made a donation to the foundation of killing Bambi when you bought your cell phone. Do people still care about Bambi? Is that a dated reference? The point is we live in a country that as Chris Rock says commercializes everything. That doesn’t surprise or bother me as much as the desensitization. It would be different if the things we acquired made us happy, jumping up and down like kids and making us want to share that happiness. But that’s not often the case.

More often we buy stuff that makes us feel good, inspires envy in others which by the way is not good, and then we get bored or feel empty and unfulfilled again and need to consume more. This cycle never ends.

I was reading something recently which said something to the effect that a large percentage of people as they become much older, say in their late 60s or 70s no longer fall for the trick of advertising. They know what they need, they get the basics and every once in a while will splurge on something special or impractical. They are not necessarily more fulfilled than younger people. They just don’t fool themselves as much, particularly since advertising targets youth and relies on the idea of “Forever young” in order to get people to spend and invest hard earned dollars in the promise that never pans out. Turns out we get old, not matter what we buy.

I don’t know. I still upgraded to my iphone 5S. I needed more space. Because that has become the new issue in our world. Running out of space on “The Cloud.” God forbid I can’t stuff one more shot of really cute donuts onto my instagram account. Tragic. And while I didn’t feel the need to get the iphone 6 (because I simply didn’t need to) I’m also aware that the promotions for this phone didn’t inspire enough “envy” in me to want to buy it. So I guess the question is, where does the line between the desire to acquire things out of practical necessity and or joy and the need to make others envious emerge and how aware are we of it as a symptom of debilitating inhumanity?