The Business of Being Ananda Leeke – Part 1

bc-writer

Narrative: Memories. In Your Own Words, a six-word memoir

collage by Ananda Leeke

Copyright 2009 by Madelyn C. Leeke

Happy Thursday!

Two weeks ago my life coach Yael gave me several homework assignments.  One assignment involved me mapping my goals, priorities, and to do list activities.  Yael said this assignment would give me a picture of what I am doing in my life.  I call it The Business of Being Ananda Leeke.  Yes it is a business being me!  And it is a business building and maintaining the Ananda Leeke brand

This morning I got up early again with more energy.  I made some peppermint tea to keep me company as I sat at my kitchen table journaling about about my goals, priorities, and to do list activities for July, August, September, October, November, and December.   Several key phrases emerged from my journaling:  

  • mission
  • strategy-driven approach
  • reality check-ins  
  • desired outcomes
  • bottom liners
  • satisfaction
  • celebration

“More words … blah … blah … more thinking … more work” is what I thought when I reviewed my writing.  So I put my pen down and walked over to my yoga mat.  After doing a few restorative poses, I moved into my ten sun salutations.  When I finished, I sat on my meditation cushion and did several rounds of alternate nostril breathing.   That really opened my heart.  I took it a step further and grabbed my mala beads for a mantra chanting session that ended with several quiet OMs. 

After my morning yoga, I returned to my kitchen for breakfast.  While eating my oatmeal, I realized that The Business of Being Ananda Leeke  deserves a strategy-driven approach that incorporates my heart and mind.  There must be balance between the two.  A Yin and Yang approach to be-ing me. 

Stay tuned for more updates on The Business of Being Ananda Leeke!

Peace and Creativity,

Ananda

PS:  Be sure to tune into the first episode of The Ananda Leeke Show, an online radio program that celebrates creativity in everyday life, on June 30 at 8pm EST on Talkshoe.com.  I will discuss my insights on writing my new book, That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetic Memoir of Self-Discovery(Summer 2009 Release – iUniverse, Inc.).  Click here to listen to the show:  http://www.talkshoe.com/tc/15820.  If you miss it, you can listen to a recording several minutes after the show airs.  You can also download the show to your computer or iPod via iTunes.

Summer Wisdom Collage

Happy Wednesday All,

This morning I woke up with a lot of energy. So I made several collages for my Sisterhood, the Blog site and a summer wisdom collage.  The wisdom messages that selected me (that’s right … they selected me) were exactly what I needed.  Check them out below.  Do you have any summer wisdom? 

Peace and Creativity,

Ananda

AKML-personalwisdom

Summer Wisdom collage by Ananda Leeke

Copyright 2009 by Madelyn C. Leeke.

 

My Summer Wisdom Messages:

1) What I know for sure … love your body!!!!

2) Better health means more energy to do things you want to do.

3) She’s got the power.

4) Change, in all shapes and sizes, can definitely bring out our deepest fears–but it also offers us vital new encounters with the bountiful magic of life.

Chicago Creative Adventure #1 – Visit to Art Institute of Chicago

piper

Adrian Piper

Vanilla Nightmare #2, 1986

Charcoal and red crayon, with erasing, on tan wove paper (newsprint)
600 x 703 mm

bwremixCinema Remixed & Reloaded: Black Women Artists and the Moving Image Since 1970 by Andrea Brownlee

cy4Cy Twombly – Untitled, 2007

cy3Cy Twombly – Untitled, 2001

johns

Jasper Johns – Perilous Night

womanGaston Lachaise – Woman (Elevation)

miro

Joan Miro – Ciphers and Constellations in Love with a Woman

Hi All!

It’s raining right now in Chicago. The Isley Brothers’ “Footsteps in the Dark” is keeping me company. Thank goodness for Pandora.com!

I am planning to head out to the Museum of Contemporary Art shortly. I’ll spend some time there before heading over to the Blogging While Brown Conference (http://www.bloggingwhilebrown.com) which starts with registration around 5:00 p.m. There’s also a reception that kicks off at 7:00 p.m. After the reception, my cousin Ellen and I are going to visit Devon Avenue for some good Indian food.

Yesterday was amazing. I slept late. I spent the afternoon chilling and relaxing. I walked around downtown Chicago in the early evening and just took in the sunshine and beauty. I also visited the Chicago Architecture Foundation (http://www.architecture.org) and viewed the Chicago Model City exhibit which opened on June 10. I learned about the Mecca Flats, an African American housing unit on the Southside. I want to research it more for some story ideas.

My evening got sweeter as I walked along Michigan Avenue and strolled with the evening crowd. I took a few moments to take some pictures of the Art Institute of Chicago before heading in for one of the best creative adventures of my trip. I saw three exhibits:

  • Modern and Contemporary Works on Paper – I was introduced to some fantastic artists: Laurie Anderson, Sol Lewitt, Nancy Spero, Brice Marden, Annie Ryan, Joan Miro, Evelyn Statsinger, Kurt Schwitter, and Yayoi Kusama. My heart was so full when I saw one of my favorite artists Adrian Piper’s Vanilla Nightmare #2. The evening continued to bring me joy when I saw Glenn Ligon’s Backlash, Backlash…, Jasper John’s Perilous Night, Amedeo Modigliani’s Caryatid: Rose and Blue, and Pablo Picasso’s Head of a Woman.
  • Cy Twombly: The Natural World, Selected Works 2000-2007 – I first learned about Twombly’s work while reading More magazine last month. I tore the picture of his painting out and kept it with me. I was so excited when I realized his work was on exhibit at the Art Institute. The exhibit was mesmerizing. WOW. It generated so much creative fire in me. I was bubbling as I noticed his use of color and the way he creates this lush intuitive, messy flow of paint mixed with words, poetry, flowers, nature, crayon drawings, and scribbles. Damn, this cat is truly amazing. I am in love. Yes indeedie sweetie I love me some Cy Twombly! That’s why I purchased a book featuring his artwork from the exhibition. I even wrote a poem about the series that touched me the most.
  • Girls, Tricky – This film by artist and filmmaker Steve McQueen features the rehearsal of Tricky, a trip hop musician and producer from London. WEIRD. I watched it for about 8 minutes before rolling out. It wasn’t for me!
  • Museum Shop Discovery #1 – When I picked up a copy of Cinema Remixed & Reloaded: Black Women Artists and the Moving Image Since 1970 by Andrea Brownlee (http://www.digidiva.net/Cinema%20II%20Brochure%20005.pdf), I thanked the shopping goddess because it was priced at only $27.50. Now that’s a bargain for an art book about Black women. There was only one copy left. It was waiting for me! Cinema Remixed & Reloaded: Black Women Artists and the Moving Image Since 1970 is the first exhibition to examine the critical contributions of Black women film and video artists to the field of contemporary art. The book chronicles the exhibition which features some of my favorite artists such as Adrian Piper, Julie Dash, Carrie Mae Weems, Lorna Simpson, Kara Walker, Marìa Magdelena Campos-Pons, and Xaviera Simmons. The exhibition and book were created by The Contemporary Arts Museum Houston and Spelman College Museum of Fine Art.
  • Museum Shop Discovery #2 – I laughed when I found a postcard featuring artist Gaston Lachaise’s Woman, a bronze sculpture of a woman with a body like mine. It was a much needed affirmation to embrace my fullness and beauty. I am keeping the card as a reminder and will place it on my altar when I get home.
  • Museum Shop Discovery #3 – Joan Miro’s Ciphers and Constellations in Love with a Woman reflected how I felt about the artwork I saw during my creative adventure at the Art Institute. That’s why I purchased a postcard of her work as a reminder to surrender and allow myself to flow with the art of life. Her work also made me think of a statement that I read while I was reading the curator’s description for the Modern and Contemporary Works on Paper: “Art is a sign of life. There can be no life without change, as there can be no development without change.” Now that’s some art wisdom!

Peace and Creativity,

Ananda

Summer Creative Adventures – Museum Visit to see Mami Wata Water Spirit and Yoga Movie Treat – Enlighten Up!

MamiWata-ZoumanaSanesm

Mami Wata, circa 1987 by Zoumana Sane (dates unknown, Senegal)
Photo Credit: Don Cole

 

Happy Thursday!

Today I reflected on how I launched my annual summer museum adventures last weekend.  I started with a visit to the National Museum of African Art.  The goal of my trip was to soak up the beauty and splendor of the Mami Wata: Arts for Water Spirits in Africa and the African Atlantic World exhibit. http://africa.si.edu/exhibits/mamiwata/intro.html.  It arrived at the Museum on April 1 and leaves on July 26. 

 Mami Wata (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mami_Wata) is a water spirit celebrated throughout most of Africa, Brazil, Cuba, Dominican Republic, and Haiti.  I first learned about Mami Wata in 1991 when I discovered the West African Yoruba goddesses Oshun (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oshun) and Yemaya (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yemanya) who are her sister water spirits.  I immediately embraced her image which is often portrayed as a brown-skinned mermaid.  I love that fact because she reminds me of me.  Her power as a nurturing mother, sensual woman, healer, and provider of riches also appealed to me.  Mami Wata, Oshun, and Yemaya introduced me to Erzulie (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erzulie), the Haitian goddess of love.  These water goddesses played a pivotal role in my early artwork and writing.  They still do!  Erzulie is a major force in the artwork and characters featured in my debut novel, Love’s Troubadours – Karma Book One (www.lovestroubadours.com— iUniverse, Inc. – 2007).  Click here to see Erzulie’s veve which appears inside my novel and serves as the logo for the Love’s Troubadours novel series (scroll down to the second photo and look for the black and white drawing of a heart-shaped image): http://www.lovestroubadours.com/id26.html.  It also appears in the painting featured on the back of my novel.  Click here to see a photo (scroll down to the bottom of the page and look for the heart-shaped symbol in the center of painting): http://www.lovestroubadours.com/id7.html.

The Mami Wata exhibit was powerful because it explored the visual culture and histories of Mami Wata and her sister water spirits. It also taught me about several new water spirits such as  Lasirèn from Haiti and Santa Marta la Dominadora from the Dominican Republic.  At the end of the exhibit, I decided to participate in the creative exercise set up by the Museum. I never turn down an invitation to play!  The exercise involved making drawings of Mami Wata-like mermaids, fish, and shells.  Iloved the exhibit so much that I purchased the exhibition book as a keepsake.  I plan to go back later this month to see the Mami Wata exhibit one more time before it closes.  Yes it’s that good! 

So do you have any summer museum adventures planned?  If so, where are you going and what will you see when you get there?

Teaism-PennQuarterInner1Img

After the museum, I stopped at Teaism in Penn Quarter for lunch (http://www.teaism.com/Restaurant/PennQuarter7.html).  Teaism is one of my favorite places to drink tea, eat healthy food, meet friends, and write.  I wrote several chapters of Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One (www.lovestroubadours.com) and my soon-to-be released poetic memoir, That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetic Memoir of Self-Discoverywhile sipping tea at Teaism.  I even wrote about my novel’s main character Karma Francois eating a salty oat cookie and drinking tea at Teaism on Dupont Circle!  I treated myself to one of my favorite entrees, the salmon bento box.  As always, it was delicious.  Before I left, I purchased a chocolate salty oat cookie for my afternoon movie snack.

enlightenup

Enlighten Up! (http://enlightenupthefilm.com) is a new yoga documentary by filmmaker Kate Churchill.  It tells the story of Nick Rosen, a twenty-something journalist from New York City, who explores the world of yoga in search of a practice that meets his needs.  The film was yoga yummy and funny. The yogini/yoga teacher inside of me adored the Enlighten Up! because it gives everyday people an opportunity to witness Rosen’s down-to-earthsearch for a yoga practice with some of the most widely known and not so known yoga teachers in New York City, Los Angeles, Hawaii, and India.  I highly recommend the film.  If you go see Enlighten Up!, tell me what you think about it.

 Do you practice yoga? If so, describe your practice. 

Right now I am practicing yin yoga (www.yinyoga.com and http://www.yogajournal.com/practice/580?print=1) in the early morning before I get out of bed and before I go to sleep at night.  My morning practice includes sun salutations, twists, cat-cows, cobras, and forward folds. 

If you are in DC this weekend, please consider attending my free community yoga class on Sunday, June 14 at 9:00 a.m. in Malcolm X – Meridian Hill Park in Northwest, DC. For more information, visit http://yoga.meetup.com/584.

 Thanks for stopping by!

 Peace, Creativity, and Summer OMs,

 Ananda

Collage-Making from Full Strawberry Moon Weekend Celebration

Hi All,

On Sunday, June 7, I participated in Jamie Ridler’s Full Strawberry Moon Dreamboards event. To learn more about Jamie and her full moon events, visit
http://starshyneproductions.blogspot.com/2009/06/full-strawberry-moon-dreamboards-june-7.html. I ended up making five collages that reflect my intention and commitment to live a juicy sweet, tranquil, and joyful life this summer.  I labeled them Honey Oshun Mooon Collages.  See below.  I was inspired by the West African Yoruba goddess Oshun, a love goddess who governs creativity, sweetness, honey, femininity, sensuality, joy, abundance, the arts, dance, sweet rivers, motherhood, jewelry, and healing. She is one of my patron goddesses.

Do you have a favorite goddess?  If yes, who is she?

Enjoy your day!

Ananda

 

Honey Oshun Moon Collage Series

hm-yoga

This collage is called “Aspire.Learn.Love.Create.Evolve.” It honors my yoga practice and use of ayurveda. It reminds me to maintain a daily practice of honoring my body temple. I included two pictures of myself. One shows me sitting in the easy yoga pose. The other shows me smiling. I also included a photo of Ganesh, the Hindu god of overcoming obstacles. I took it at Shakti Mind Body Studio (owned by my yoga teacher Faith Hunter – www.shaktimindbodystudio.com and www.faithhunter.comin DC). There are several clippings of a tea pot with herbs, meditation sculpture, and the phrases – your practice will bloom, yoga, om ayurveda, and aspire-learn-love-create-evolve. A quote by Joanna Macy is included: “The heart that breaks open can contain the whole universe.”

hm-tranquil

This collage is called “Tranquil.” It reminds me to practice extreme self-care (a phrase coined by life coach and author Cheryl Richardson). I included a picture of me smiling and clippings with the lunar phases of the moon, a woman relaxing, and fireworks. There is an affirmation at the bottom which reads, “love your life.” A quote from Audre Lorde is featured: “and look mother I am a dark temple where your true spirit rises beautiful and tough like a chestnut.” I also pasted in a message about inspiration: “Stay inspired! Your soul goal – to acknowledge all your successes, not only those measured in pounds and inches; Your soul payoff – Increased determination and a renewed sense of Yes-I’m-amazing! confidence.”

hm-obama

The name of this collage is “Serving America with My Gifts.” It reminds me to use my gift of optimism to create positive change in the world like President Obama is doing. The collage also contains two pictures of me. One shows me posing in the warrior yoga pose. There are several clippings with messages: 1) optimism rules, 2) give optimism, and 3) the world is a magical place. A quote by poet Lucille Clifton is included: “may the tide that is entering even now the lip of our understanding carry you out beyond the face of fear.

hm-lovelife

The name of this collage is “Vive La Vie” (live life). It reminds me to live my life fully without limitations and with joy and fun. The collage contains 2 magazine clippings featuring a man and a woman enjoying time together. It also has a butterfly with flowers, a clipping of American playwright Lorraine Hansberry (one of my favorite creative folks and inspiration for my novel and poetic memoir), a clipping of a woman as she relaxes, and picture of me. There is also a quote which says, “Women who have an abundance of joy are those who make a priority of finding pockets of it within their own lives.”

hm-free

The name of this collage is “Quintessentially Free.” It reminds me to live freely as a golden girl who loves butterflies, tunics, flat sandals, fashion, style, polka dots, and yoga clothing. It contains a picture of me along with a quote that says, “You already know it: Money can’t buy joy, so instead of spending your earnings, spend time on things that really do delight you.”