This morning I woke up with one question. Who lives inside of me? It made me think of the word archetype, a term coined by SwisspsychiatristCarl Jung. Archetype refers to the various personalities that live inside of individuals.
In my opinion, archetypes are windows of self-discovery. They invite me to explore, embrace, and accept myself. They bring me closer to myself in ways that allow all of my personalities to serve my highest and greatest good. That’s why I have to take the time to identify, nurture, and welcome them into my life. Make them feel comfortable. Treat them as team players who use their strengths and share their gifts with one goal in mind: healthy living. I promise them I will listen to what they have to say. I reassure them I won’t pick favorites or judge their commentary, creativity, communication style, criticism, and concerns. I try to honor their presence with gratitude daily. I do my best to accept and bless who they are because without my chosen eight I would be lost (they are featured in my new book That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetic Memoir of Self-Discovery – http://amzn.to/4GKXiZ – available on Amazon.com).
So you might be wondering who are my chosen eight? Let me introduce you to the main women in my life.
Ancestor is my wise woman and griot a/k/a storyteller. Her presence greets me every day I look in the mirror. She reminds me to embrace the beauty and complexity of my African, Native American, and European heritages. Ancestor tells me stories that connect the meaning of my life to my family’s past. She calls me to surrender my ego and live from center in the present moment. Her voice convinces me to open my heart daily so I can love and forgive myself and others freely and easily. Her words inspire me to use my gifts of creativity to transform my life and the world in positive ways. When I listen, Ancestor responds, “Well done my child, well done! Now go out and serve with an open heart.”
Ananda is my spirit woman and metta (loving kindness) mother. Each day she helps me turn within to dedicate my mind to meditation and baptize my body with yoga and Reiki healing touch. Her mission is to connect me with the oneness of humanity from the inside out. Ananda nurtures me as only a mother can. I feel her warmth, metta kindness, and unconditional love. She is faithful and loyal, caring and comforting, honest and present. When I doubt myself and act smaller than I really am, she reassures me everything is going to be alright. Ananda tells me over and over again what abolitionist Harriet Tubman said: “You have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars and change the world.”
Kiamsha is my creative woman. In the dead of my life’s winter, she emerged from a womb that was tired of giving stillbirths filled with lawyer dreams. Her presence taught me how to move forward by trusting my intuition. Kiamsha helped me plant healing seeds from a portfolio of sacred practices, vegetarianism, go green living principles, creative expression, and the healing arts. We nurtured these seeds with loving and kind words. They bloomed in the company of the sacred feminine and laid the foundation for my current life as an artist, poet, and writer.
Madelyn is my CEO woman. When she walks into a room, her five foot one inch stature translates into epic proportions. If you miss her cat walk entrance, then check out her business card. It is smooth and clean, and has one message: Madelyn C. Leeke is a lawyer, capitalist, opportunist, brazen careerist, and CEO. Her presence disturbs some folks. Others long to know what she is all about. She isn’t concerned what people think, but she knows how to play society’s games. Madelyn represents herself well. Socially adept, she makes full use of her intelligence, beauty, and Black American Princess pedigree. She walks with a determined ladylike grace. Madelyn executes without error. Her persona is best described as aggressive, authoritarian, action-oriented, rational thinking, and analytical. Her concept of power is rooted in protection against the vulnerabilities of her identity as a woman with brown skin. That’s why she wears the red Mardi Gras mask to keep unwanted folks out.The problem is that she cages herself in. This fierce femme lives to achieve money, status, and security at all costs. Her playbook on life strategies comes from years of studying chess, Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, and Niccolò Machiavelli’s The Prince. Girlfriend has mastered the art of becoming her own Princessa. However, she prefers the title Empress.
Cheryl is my balanced woman. She is a cosmopolitan, savvy, well-dressed smooth operator, quietly jetting in and out of complex situations with the grace and ease of a diplomatic ambassador. Her nickname is “Switzerland” because she doesn’t pick sides. Her job is to negotiate, mediate, and create harmony and balance. How does she do it? It starts with a prayer and ends with her listening to all parties involved with an open heart. Her intention is to seek the highest good. So she doesn’t rely on her own counsel. Cheryl takes it to a higher source and delivers a truth that can be heard by all.
Sapphire is my warrior woman. She is a sexy goddess of destruction who never leaves home without her Russian Red MAC lipglass. Sapphire is a dangerous thinker and confident executor. She is also the daughter of three powerful goddesses: Oya, Kali, and Durga. Folks think she is a striking fashionista with minimalist taste! She struts her stuff in a strapless jumpsuit with black strappy sandals courtesy of Franco Sarto. Doesn’t she look like she is ready for a night of salsa dancing in Habana, Cuba? Oh and it’s true. She is ready cuz’ that’s what she wore on her 2004 summer mission to Habana spelled with a “b” instead of a “v.” Girlfriend speaks Spanish, French, and English. Did you know she travels extensively on secret missions? The red and gold Chinese dragon shawl draped on her shoulders was purchased during one of her mission impossible trips to Beijing, China during the U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995. Go on and say it. She is a bad mutha-shut-your-mouth kinda gal. This woman navigates multidimensional landscapes with great ease. She communicates directly and cusses like a sailor when it is necessary. But don’t get it twisted Sapphire is a lady. Her black Mardi Gras mask from the Crescent City creates an air of mystery and protects her identity just in case the business she decides to handle proves to be a bit risky. Some folks say that she is a comic book character. She’s real. Believe it. Call her name in the midnight hour on any full moon Monday and she will appear out of nowhere. Be sure to greet her properly by kissing her hand and bringing her gifts like a Godiva chocolate martini and twelve long-stemmed yellow and red roses to match her dragon woman shawl. Do this and she might be your ally for a minute or an hour. She will hold tight, offer peace, and mimic a diplomatic ambassador with urban debutante social etiquette as she strategically befriends you until something goes down. And if and when something messy and dangerous goes down that you provoked, run for your life! She takes no prisoners.
Broomhilda is my inner critic. Broomhilda is a recluse. She ain’t got no friends or fashion sense. That’s why she wears glasses that hang off her face with a plum velour running suit and winter hat all year long. She is only concerned about criticizing my choices. Her main focus is the almighty dollar. When I do things that don’t produce the kind of income she thinks I should have, she nags me into the next century. Her whining is nonstop. She always starts each sentence with why. I try my best to ignore her criticism, but every once in a while she raises a valid point that stops me in my tracks and causes me to rethink my position. I hate to admit it, but that’s when she can be an asset. Just don’t tell her I told you so.
Puf is my girl child. She is a Bohemian Black American Princess with a contagious smile. Step to her and dig her mad cool crazy vibe. Inhale the scent of lavender sprinkled on her reddish-brown locs. She loves to wear jeans and boots. Dig her casual chic fashion courtesy of her favorite U Street boutique, Trade Secrets, summer boutique discovery, Bombay Gal, on Sweet Auburn Avenue in Atlanta, and a vintage shopping spree at London’s Camden Market. Turn away for a second. Now look at her clearly. She epitomizes the essence of an urban debutante with sorority membership and two degrees from historically Black colleges and universities. She rocks without any fear cuz’ she’s a daddy’s girl and cultured southern belle to the core. Back in da’ day, her attraction for the good things in life extended to chocolate martinis and men from Morehouse College, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, and New York City. Nowadays her geographic territory for male companionship encompasses folks from every shade of the rainbow that have forgiving and kind hearts, open minds, easy-going and nurturing dispositions, centered and peaceful spirits, intellectual curiosity, a commitment to serving their communities, respect for women as equal partners, a passion for culture and the arts, positive attitudes, great communications skills, and emotional availability. She is still the life of every party. Her mantra is let the good times roll. Dancing salsa and traveling are her favorite pastimes. Traveling gives her time to read books and listen to music on her iPod. Music helps her breathe. It inspires her to go with the flow as she moves through the present moment and into her next adventure. She is the best thing since sweet iced tea!
Now that you have met my peeps, consider who lives inside of you.
How many peeps do you have?
What are their names?
What roles do they play in your life?
If they are free next week, maybe my peeps can connect with yours on Facebook and exchange tweets!
Enjoy your weekend!
Peace, Creativity, Compassion, and Gratitude for my chosen eight,
Spring is coming. So are the cherry blossoms in DC. March 20 marks the beginning of Spring. For me, Spring is a season of rebirth. How are you preparing for it?
Yesterday, I started my pre-Spring preparation with an intense one-on-one yoga class taught by yoga teacher and life purpose coach Tazima Davis in my home. I love one-on-one yoga sessions. That’s how I learn best!
Tazima is founder of Compassionate Renegade (http://compassionaterenegade.wordpress.com). She is helping me strenghten my core and upper body, open up my hips, and create more flexibility in my legs and hips. She is also helping me release several yoga fears I have been holding onto. Yes I have some yoga fears as a yoga teacher of four years and yogini of 15 years. Tazima’s teaching style pushes me past my comfort zone. Her grace, humor, ease, and yoga expertise makes her a fabulous teacher. WOW is all I can say! To learn more about my yoga class with Tazima, listen to my audio blog below. Enjoy!
Peace, Creativity, Compassion, and Gratitude for yoga and teachers like Tazima,
My book talk and signing for my poetic memoir That Which Awakens Me was held yesterday at the Historical Society of Washington, DC. It was a lot of fun and a HUGE success!!!! Many thanks to my sistalove Karen Sallis for organizing the event with Rosemary Reed and the Society’s staff! Big thanks to everyone who attended the event!!!!
If you missed the event, watch the videos below. More videos will be posted in the coming days.
A free creative coaching session on March 25 from 9:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. EST that explores the nine blocks to women’s creativity. I will use creative coaching exercises in my new book That Which Awaken’s Me to guide the session. http://www.ustream.tv/channel/ananda-leeke-live
A free kind and gentle yoga Meetup on March 28 from 11:30 a.m. to 12 noon at Malcolm X-Meridian Hill Park in DC. The class will be dedicated to National Women’s History Month, National Women and Girls HIV/AID Day, and National Nutrition Month. http://yoga.meetup.com/584.
Here’s a sneak preview of my new and improved logo for my web site. My graphic designer Gwonghung Ng developed the design with my original artwork. Gwonghung did an amazing job. She is also working on my business card template and new Twitter graphic design. You can connect with Gwonghung on Twitter – http://twitter.com/gwong_GnG and Facebook – www.facebook.com/pages/Gwonghung-Ng/383682464568. My new logo will be included in the relaunch of my web site – www.anandaleeke.com in late March and April.
Enjoy your weekend!
Peace, Creativity, Compassion, and Gratitude for Artistic Support,
All Photos – Credit: Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute
Well, it’s been a great week. I spent Wednesday night, Thursday, and Friday morning in New York City. I came to Gotham City to attend the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute’s opening reception for the “Wearing Spirit: Aesthetically Personifying the Feminine in African Sacred Traditions” exhibit.
“Wearing Spirit” is a multi-media exhibition of paintings, sculpture, photography, textile art, video and installations honoring the power of the sacred feminine in African spiritual traditions. When I walked into the gallery, I felt a powerful energy wash over my spirit and ‘heart as I took in the beauty of each piece of artwork. AMAZING! Each artist”s work touched me deeply. I felt the presence of my ancestors in their work.
Attending the opening reception for “Wearing Spirit” was a HUGE moment for me because my mixed media wire sculpture “Erzulie’s Black Heart” was included in the exhibition. Below is my artist statement for the exhibition.
Ananda Leeke’s passion for African goddesses began while she was studying Kemetian and Yoruba religions and writing My Soul Speaks, her first chap book of poetry, in 1992. In 1995, Leeke began using coat hangers, an assortment of wire, found objects, vintage jewelry, fabric, and amulets to sculpt images of African goddesses including Oshun, Yemanya, Oya, Maat, Auset, and Het Heru. Over the past fifteen years, she has explored these goddesses in her artwork, writing, and travels to Cuba, Egypt, Ghana, Louisiana, and Senegal. She discovered Erzulie, the Haitian goddess of love, while writing her debut novel, Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One. Erzulie influenced the lives of many characters in Love’s Troubadours. Erzulie’s veve is incorporated in Love’s Troubadours logo and artwork on the book cover.
Erzulie’s Black Heart is a goddess of love and healing who was born out of the middle passage experience of enslaved Africans in Haiti. She is a Petwo spirit. Her love and healing energy are hot, aggressive, and quick to act when the children of Haiti need her. Her black heart represents a sanctuary for Haitians when they are faced with life’s hardships including poverty, illness, violence, and natural disasters such as hurricanes and the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that occurred on January 12. Erzulie’s Black Heart heals the pain and suffering of Haiti’s sons and daughters. She protects them with the fierce love of a Black warrior woman. Her intention is to bring the children of Haiti to higher ground.
I also had a chance to reconnect with Dr. Marta Moreno Vega, the founder of the Caribbean Cultural Center, and my dear sistalove Shantrelle Lewis, the curator of ‘Wearing Spirit.” Shantrelle also serves as Director of Programs & Exhibitions for the Center. Dr. Vega and Shantrelle agreed to share their thoughts about “Wearing Spirit” with Ananda Leeke TV. See their videos below.
My NYC play dad Fred Mays and sistalove friends Jill Barrett, Toni Blackman, and Zahava came to the event to show their support. In addition, I met artist Michael Cummings and filmmaker Spike Lee (love his movies She’s Gotta Have It, Mo Betta Blues, Malcolm X, School Dayz, and Bamboozled). Click here to see the Center’s photos from the opening reception.
My NYC play dad Fred Mays and I
Thanks for stopping by! Enjoy your weekend!
Peace, Creativity, Compassion, and Gratitude for the Sacred Feminine,
This weekend, I went to see an exhibit featuring the work of Elizabeth Catlett at the Mexican Cultural Institute on 16th Street in northwest DC. Click here to learn more about the Catlett exhibit. It closes on May 29. If you are in DC, consider attending Professor David Driscoll’s lecture about Catlett’s work on March 27 at 3:00 p.m. at the Mexican Cultural Institute. It’s free!
Catlett is one of my favorite artists. She was born in DC in 1915 and is a graduate of Howard University (like me!). Click here to learn more about Catlett.
I have given the world my songs by Elizabeth Catlett
Yesterday, I spent time with my sistalove Bianca Alexander. We met for afternoon tea and lunch at Sala Thai on U Street in DC. Thanks to the sunny weather we were able to sit outside and enjoy tasty Thai cuisine.
FYI – Bianca is a lawyer turned healthy living advocate who serves as co-CEO and host of Conscious Living TV, a green living news magazine show. Bianca also hosts The Soul of Green, a TV program that features untold stories about people of color in the green and environmental justice movements. In addition, she is a broadcast journalism fellow of University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Communications and an ethnic media fellow of the Association of Health Journalists. Bianca is also a yoga teacher and Reiki Master practitioner. For more information, visit www.biancaalexander.com.
Check out my interview with Bianca on U Street in northwest DC (recorded on March 7) below.
I consider Bianca one of my digital diva sheroes. Digital diva sheroes are women who use the Internet to do great work online and offline. They are also women who will be featured in my next book Sisterhood, the Blog: Soundbytes from the 21st Century Women’s Online Revolution.
Who are your digital diva or green living sheroes?
Enjoy your day and week!
Peace, Creativity, Compassion, and Green Living Gratitude,