#BlackHistoryMonth Celebration of HBCUs & Black Sororities and Fraternities in My Novel Love’s Troubadours

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Have you seen the documentary film, “Tell Them We Are Rising” that explores how historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have shaped American history, culture, and national identity? It was created by filmmaker Stanley Nelson and covers almost 170 years of history. You can watch it online on the PBS website until March 22.

“Tell Them We Are Rising” reminded me why I chose to attend Morgan State University and Howard University School of Law. As a proud HBCU alumna, I made sure the characters in my Lorraine Hansberry-inspired novel Love’s Troubadours are HBCU alumni. Love’s Troubadours main character Karma Francois is a graduate of Morgan State University just like me. Her twin sister Violet is a graduate of my alma mater, Howard University School of Law. Her mother is an alumna of Xavier University. Her cousins attended Spelman College and Morehouse College.

The documentary film also discussed the importance of Black sororities and fraternities. In my family, we have members of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority. I celebrate these organizations and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity in Love’s Troubadours.

Spoiler Alert: My main character Karma pledged the Beta Tau Chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority at Morgan State University like yours truly. Her mother is also a Sigma (like my mom, great-grandmother, and great-aunt). Her cousins are members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority (like my great aunt) and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. Her best friend is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity (like my grandfather, great-uncle, and cousin). Her uncle is a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. Her aunt is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.

 

#BlackHistoryMonth Treat: How Playwright Lorraine Hansberry Inspired My Novel, Love’s Troubadours

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My debut novel, Love’s Troubadours was inspired by a speech given by activist and playwright Lorraine Hansberry in February 1964. She spoke to a Harlem-based group of aspiring young, gifted, and African American writers about the power to love in America. In her remarks, Hansberry stated,

“O, the things that we have learned in this unkind house that we have to tell the world about! Despair? Did someone say despair was a question in the world? Well then, listen to the sons of those who have known little else. If you wish to know the resiliency of this thing you would so quickly resign to mythhood, this thing called the human spirit … Life? Ask those who have tasted of it in pieces rationed out by enemies. Love? Ah, ask the troubadours who have come from those who have loved when all reason pointed to the uselessness and foolhardiness of love. Perhaps we shall be the teachers when it is done. Out of the depths of pain we have thought to be our sole heritage in this world-O, we know about love!”

She referred to African Americans as troubadours, the descendents of people who used the power of love to live through and overcome despair and insurmountable odds. She went on to urge the audience to seek wisdom from African Americans because of their capacity to love.

I first read about Hansberry’s speech in Salvation by bell hooks in 2001. Salvation discusses how African Americans have used the power of love to transform their lives and communities. hooks’ writings caused me to question how I could use my gifts as an artist and writer to promote love as a healing tool in the lives of individuals and communities in America. I answered that question by writing Love’s Troubadours, a novel that tells the story of Karma Francois, a 30-something museum curator and yoga teacher who loses her job, discovers family secrets after a loved one dies, and begins a healing journey as she relocates from New York City to Washington, DC. Learn more about her in the video below.

Karma learns many life lessons as she comes face-to-face with the choices she has made in her life and relationships. Watch the video below and learn about some of them.

Throughout her journey, she uses journaling, meditation, mindfulness, poetry, spirituality, therapy, and yoga to heal and love herself. Hansberry’s wisdom on mindful living inspired the way I wrote about Karma’s healing journey:

 “I wish to live because life has within it that which is good, that which is beautiful, and that which is love. Therefore, since I have known all of these things, I have found them to be reason enough and–I wish to live. Moreover, because this is so, I wish others to live for generations and generations and generations and generations.”

Watch the video below and learn how Karma’s healing journey transformed her idea of love in her life.

After reading Hansberry’s book, To Be Young, Gifted and Black, I made a conscious decision to use my novel’s characters to celebrate the beauty and diversity of people of African descent. Watch the video below and learn about the diverse characters.

 

Listen to a chapter excerpt from Love’s Troubadours that illustrates the diversity of African Americans when Karma walks into Mocha Hut, a coffee and tea café in her U Street neighborhood, and eavesdrops on a conversation.

 

Talking Mindfulness on The Stroke Diva Fabulous Radio Show on Feb 12 @7PM EST

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Join me tonight as I discuss mindfulness with media solopreneur Kamaria T. Richmond on The Stroke Diva Fabulous Radio Show at 7 p.m. EST. Kamaria and I will chat about mindful living, creativity, and technology. Go here to listen online. Read more about Kamaria’s journey as a solopreneur.

UPDATE: Listen to a recording of the show (90 minutes).

Mindful Living: Mindfulness 101

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I discovered mindfulness when my career as a young lawyer and investment banker did not produce the level of success I expected. Mindfulness is the practice of taking a deep breath, coming into the present moment, and paying attention without judgment. The present moment is where you can access awareness, balance, and calm with loving kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity. Mindfulness is the gateway to who we truly are. It helped me overcome panic attacks, release my career expectations, develop self-care practices, and pursue my calling as an artist, author, Reiki master practitioner, speaker, and yoga teacher.

Are you new to mindfulness?

Looking for information on how to practice mindfulness in your life?

Curious about how to use mindfulness to practice gratitude, identify your fears, and become aware of the stories you tell yourself?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, check out my Mindfulness 101 Podcast playlist with 15 episodes. The episodes feature small steps you can take each day to practice mindfulness with guided meditations, a body scan, a mini toolkit, and more.

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Need more mindfulness tips and information? Check out my resources page with three free gifts created especially for you!

Click here to learn more about my mindful living offerings. Contact me at ananda@anandaleeke.com to learn how you can work with me as a speaker for your next event, trainer for your organization, or coach (one-on-one or group sessions). I look forward to hearing from you.

ALWebsite-LovesTroubadoursLooking for a great book to read? Check out my yoga-inspired novel, Love’s Troubadours and learn how the main character Karma uses mindful living practices including meditation, prayer, therapy, and yoga to heal her spirit, heart, mind, and relationships, and reinvent her career.

 

 

 

 

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PS: Don’t keep me a secret. Use the links below and share me with your network!

Mindful Creativity: Highlights from My Smith Center Artist-in-Residency

Mindful creativity is what I share with military service members, veterans, their families and friends, and staff when I serve as an artist-in-residence for Smith Center for Healing and the Arts at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center each week. Read and listen to my latest interview with Smith Center.

Check out a short video I made during one of my breaks at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

 

 

5 Mindfulness Resources: Podcasts to Jumpstart 2018

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January 2018 is almost over. How is it treating you? How are you treating it? When is the last time you slowed down and breathed deeply? How often are you present and aware of what’s truly happening? Need more mindful moments in your life?

I’d like to you invite you to explore how mindfulness can support you in your daily living, creativity, and career with the podcast resources below.

1) Mini Mindfulness Toolkit (43.40 minutes): Includes a reflection on the meaning of mindfulness, a tune-in (pre-meditation check-in with breathing exercises), a guided meditation, and journaling exercises

2) Be Present (16.31 minutes): Includes a body scan to help you relax and come into the present moment

3) Outsmart Stress with Meditation (16.56 minutes): Includes a basic guided mindfulness meditation

4) Open Your Heart with Compassion Meditation (20.07 minutes): Includes meditation that helps you have compassion for yourself when dealing with difficult people

5) Mindfulness on the Go (6.15 minutes): Includes breathing exercises and a guided mindful moment

 

 

Mindfulness & Self-Care Practices for #WomensMarch, Social Justice & Human Rights Activists

In 2017, I attended the Women’s March with my Sigma Gamma Rho Soror Karla Ray Thompson and Unity sistafriend Kim Davis in Washington, DC. It reminded me of the experiences I had while attending the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995, Million Woman’s March in Philadelphia in 1997, and the March for Women’s Lives in Washington, DC in 2004.

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Did you participate in the 2017 and 2018 Women’s March events? Are you involved in social justice and human rights in your local community, city, state, or country?

Your social justice and human rights’ work is important. The time you invest to support equality, fairness, and justice is appreciated. I have one question for you: how are you taking care of yourself as you do the work?

If you need tips and tools on how to practice self-care with mindfulness in your social justice and human rights work, listen to the #ThrivingMindfully Podcast. It includes three mindfulness exercises: a tune in (check-in), a meditation, and journaling. May they support you in your self-care practice!

Mindful Creativity: Celebrate National Vision Board Day on January 13

Have you ever used a vision board? A vision board is a mindful creativity tool you can use to help clarify, concentrate, and maintain focus on the highest and best vision of your life.

I started using vision boards in the early 1990s after reading Julia Cameron’s The Artist WayI have used them for my artwork, business, career reinvention, fitness, home decor, personal style, relationships, travel adventures, yoga practice, and overcoming writer’s block with my creativity memoir, That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetical Memoir of Self-Discovery and tech memoir, Digital Sisterhood: A Memoir of Fierce Living Online.

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A couple of years ago, I learned about National Vision Board Day, an annual celebration held on the second Saturday in January. National Vision Board Day is my opportunity to practice loving kindness as I give myself the gift of time to reflect on, journal about, and create a written statement and visual expression of my highest and best life. Last year I started my vision board process on January 14 and finished it several days later with three different vision boards (see a photo of one of my boards above).

This year I am spending National Vision Board Day as a creativity coach. I will be facilitating a vision board-making session with a client. Listen to the latest episode of the #ThrivingMindfully Podcast to learn how I use mindful creativity to help my clients create their vision statement and board. The episode includes a guided meditation, breathing and journaling exercises, and tips. Feel free to use it to prepare for your National Vision Board Day celebration.

Interested in learning more about how I help people just like you become aware of and express creativity in your own unique way while outsmarting stress and overcoming blocks and challenges? Check out my mindful creativity services.