Introducing The Next Chapter – Happy Book – Blogging Group – My 2010 Winter Creative Women’s Online Community

Greetings All!

If you have been reading my blog, you know how much I adore Jamie Ridler’s Next Chapter book blogging groups.  They are amazing and always keep me uplifted, inspired, and on track with my personal and creative goals.  I write about their powerful impact on my creative journey in my new book That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetic Memoir of Self-Discovery (available on –

This year I joined Jamie’s Next Chapter – Happy Book Blogging Group.  We are reading The Happy Book by Rachel Kempster and Meg Leder.  The group officially began on January 15 and is taking a new approach to book blogging in 2010.  Jamie calls it “The Happy Book Mail-Around.”  104 creative women bloggers signed up to take part in this grand experiment. Click here to learn more:  Jamie divided us into four groups: Bliss, Giggle, Mirth, and Glee.  I am a member of the Giggle group. So is my dear sistalove Jennifer Moore of Pink Heels blog.

Since I am just getting started with The Happy Book journey, I thought I’d share my top four happy moments in January.  See below. 

FYI – I just ordered The Happy Book from  What a happy moment! I’ll be posting weekly updates on my Happy Book journey over the next several weeks.  I invite you to join me in sharing your weekly happy moments in the comment section of my blog.

Enjoy your weekend!

Peace, Creativity, Compassion, and Gratitude for Daily Happy Moments,



Ananda’s Top Four Happy Moments in January

1) Happy Aha Moment

On the morning of January 13, I boarded a plane at BWI Airport to Indianapolis to attend my grandmother Dorothy Mae Johnson Gartin’s funeral.  While on the plane, I read an article in the February issue of O Magazine that included the following quote:

“You’ve just got this glow about you – some combination of wisdom and inner peace, plus a lovely self-awareness.  You’re not sweating the small stuff; you know what feels good, feels right, and you simply don’t muck around with the rest.  You’re not a kid anymore, and we mean that as a high compliment.  There’s a new kind of lightness about you. And your hair has never looked better.”

Reading these words help me see who I have become at 45.  So I tore them out of the magazine and pasted them into my pink 2010 day planner I purchased during my NYC birthday weekend in December.

2) Happy Yoga and Reiki Healing Touch Moment

My cousin Finis gave me a magnificent Christmas gift this year.  It was all about reflexology … The Reflexology Path Kit by Barbara and Kevin Kunz – (Barnes and Nobles sells the kit online). Finis  also gave me a great pair of reflexology socks.  These gifts were exactly what  I needed to take my yoga and Reiki healing touch personal practice and business to the next level.  So far, I have been studying and using the kit’s tools.  It is an exciting learning journey that will bless my body, life, and clients. 

Photo Credit: Photo Stream

3) Happy President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama Moment

This photo was taken right before President Barack Obama gave his State of the Union address on January 27.  I love the affection that he and First Lady Michelle Obama shared.  Priceless moment.  I also loved his tie and Michelle’s dress.   

4) Happy Inner Shopping Goddess Moment

My inner shopping goddess has been prompting me to check out a pair of sassy black patent leather Bandolino boots for several weeks (since Christmas).  On January 28, I answered my inner shopping goddess’ call and popped over to the Bandolino shop in Pentagon City Mall. Guess what I discovered? A fantabulous yes FANTABLOUS blowout sale on those sassy black patent leather boots.  My new best boot gal pals are a pair of size 7 1/2  patent leather boots.  My feet are nice, warm, and fashionable.  I love the boots so much that I named them Joie de Vivre #2 … JDV2 for short. The first Joie de Vivre is my lap top!

That Which Awakens Me Book Release Pty Countdown-Day 2 – Next Chapter Book Blogging Group Wrap Up and Art Every Day Month poem in Ch 4

Greetings All.

Today you get a three in one with the video countdown.  Click on the video below that features my Next Chapter Book Blogging Group wrap up of The Joy Diet by Martha Beck, my final day of Art Every Day Month adventures, and day 2 of the That Which Awakens Me book release party countdown.  Enjoy!

Click here to read more about the Next Chapter Book Blogging Group:

Click here to read about the Art Every Day Month community:

Peace, Creativity, Compassion, and Gratitude,


Ananda’s Adventure w/ Ch. 9/Connection of The Joy Diet & Next Chapter Book Blogging Group

Greetings All,

This week, my Next Chapter Book Blogging Group is reading Chapter 9 of Martha Beck’s The Joy Diet.  Click here to learn more about the Group’s insights on Chapter 9: I am halfway through reading the chapter.  When I think of connection, music comes to mind because it reminds me of my connections with others.  My connections with family and close friends have really been on my mind a lot.  Those connections are rooted in love.  Raheem DeVaughn’s The Love Experience CD has kept me company for the past few weeks.  The title song moves me so much. I play it a lot.  It has even been the soundtrack to my yoga practice too!  WOW what a connection to the music itself!  I have included a YouTube video featuring the song. Enjoy!

Enjoy your weekend!

Peace, Creativity, Compassion, and Connection,


Ananda’s Next Chapter Book Blogging Group Adventure with Laughter from The Joy Diet’s Chapter 8

Greetings All,

As you all know, I have been reading The Joy Diet by Martha Beck with Jamie Ridler’s Next Chapter Book Blogging Group for several weeks. Click here to learn more about the group:   Last week I started reading Chapter 8 which discussed laughter.  I gave myself two weeks to really digest the chapter and deepen my practice of laughter.  The end result was a series of collages about laughter.  Each time I look at them, I giggle.  Maybe that will happen when you look at them too.  See my collages below.

Enjoy your day and weekend!

Peace, Creativity, Compassion, and Laughter,


Ananda’s Weekly Adventure with the Next Chapter Book Blogging Group – PLAY, Chapter 7 of The Joy Diet by Martha Beck

BOLD by Ananda Leeke – Copyright 2009 by Madelyn C. Leeke.

AEDM-Bold, originally uploaded by anandaleeke.

Happy Friday!

My Next Chapter Book Blogging Group is reading Chapter 7 of The Joy Diet by Martha Beck this week. The theme is play. Click here to see what my fellow Next Chapter bloggers are experiencing:  I am still reading the play chapter.  So far I have been exploring what play means in the collages I made for Art Every Day Month (  Art Every Day Month is an annual creative challenge created by Leah Piken Kolidas (held in November like National Novel Writing Month).

Today I discovered that play means being BOLD. Here’s my definition of BOLD.

B stands for BE who you are.

O stands for OWN who you are.

L stands for LOVE who you are.

D stands for DECIDE to do these things every day!

It takes boldness to add PLAY to my daily life because it is so easy to get caught up in my to do lists.

What does play mean to you?

Enjoy your weekend!

Peace and Creativity,


Ananda’s Adventures with her Next Chapter Book Blogging Group & Chapter 6 of The Joy Diet by Martha Beck


Happy November!

Last week, my Next Chapter Book Blogging Group read chapter six of The Joy Diet by Martha Beck. Click here to read what these dynamic ladies thought about chapter six:  I made a fun video about my idea of treats. See below.  Let me know what you think.  Also, what are your treats?

Enjoy your week and month!

Peace and Creativity,



Ananda’s Creative Adventures with reading Chapters 3 and 4 of The Joy Diet by Martha Beck with the Next Chapter Book Blogging Group


Happy Saturday!

Last week I was in Atlanta visiting my friends, meeting with my attorney/sistalove friend Lauren of CatchtheVerve, LLC (, and doing research for my next novel, Love’s Troubadours – Symon: Book Two at Morehouse College, Spelman College and its Museum of Fine Art, and the High Museum.  I also attended Blogalicious, the first annual women bloggers of color conference.  So it was a really busy week!

Yesterday, I finally had a chance to reflect on chapters three and four of The Joy Diet by Martha Beck, an amazing book that I am reading with Jamie Ridler’s Next Chapter Book Blogging Group.  Click here to check out what the group is doing:  I started a series of collages on Friday morning and decided to bring one of them to my dinner meeting with my life coach Yael Flusberg of Y Elements ( at DC Noodles (a terrific Thai noodle restaurant owned by my dear friend Sak, a groovy brotha from Thailand who also owns Stem, a Thai boutique and one of my favorite places to shop …. and Rice, my favorite Thai restaurant in the U.S.A.!).   Yael has been incorporating my book blogging group adventures into my life coaching homework and sessions.  Tonight, she filmed a webisode of my reflections on chapter three and four.  See the video below.



Enjoy your weekend! 

Thanks for stopping by!

Peace and Creativity,


Week 3 of Next Chapter Book Blogging Group – The Joy Diet – Chapter 2 on Truth


Hi All,

Welcome to Week #3 of the Next Chapter Book Blogging Group –  Truth was the subject of Chapter 2 in Martha Beck’s wonderful book, The Joy Diet.  I am still marinating on the practice of truth. Yoga has been a big help.  So has mantra chanting satya (Sanskrit word for truth) and collage making.  I may come back to this post next week and share more reflections.  In the meantime, check out the video I made about my Chapter 2 adventures in the land of truth.

Enjoy your day and weekend! Thanks for stopping by!

Peace and Creativity,


Next Chapter Book Blogging Group – Week 2: The Joy Diet, Chapter 1 – Nothing


Happy Sunday Evening!

So week 2 of The Next Chapter Book Blogging Group is officially over.  The group’s homework was to read and blog about Chapter 1 of The Joy Diet by Martha Beck.  Click here to learn more about the group:  Read about the Group’s Week 2 adventures here:

Chapter 1 deals with nothing.  It’s exactly what I have been thinking about as I wind down with some latin jazz music playing on WPFW.  The music reminds me of time spent in Cuba five years ago. I miss Habana (yes Havana with a b instead of a v!).  While I was there, I spent a lot of time doing nothing in the early morning hours.  Doing nothing consisted of me laying still on my bed and allowing my mind to travel all over the place without any agenda, expectations, resistance, or judgment.  It was complete surrender to the morning chit chatter.  After approximately 15 minutes, the speed of the inner chit chatter slowed down.  It eventually settled down and made room for stillness.  

Yesterday I experienced a similar stillness while attending All Souls Unitarian Church’s annual Autumn Soul-stice Retreat (my 3rd experience!).  The theme of this year’s retreat was “Discovering Soulful Support.”  The first session I attended was entitled “Exploration Through the Narrative Room.”  It was held in the Church’s library filled with comfy chairs and a long board table.  Seven other people kept me company as we listened to two readings and used stem sentence writing exercises to explore our need for soulful support.  I wrote without an agenda and expectations.  The words that showed up in my journal surprised me.  See the excerpt below.

The soulful support I yearn for would allow me to be, do, say, think, and expect no-thing.  Is this possible? Am I just playing with myself on paper? Can it really happen? I’m not at all certain, but I do know I am willing to try.  So I return to the stem sentence and write it out again.  The soulful support I yearn for would be wrapped in my willingness to allow myself to be,  think, do, say and expect no-thing.  This support takes the form of space where I can let go, release, sit with, observe, explore, and understand all the things that pop up inside of me that create expectations, judgments, and time zappers.  The soulful support I yearn for would be more compassion and mitra, a Sanksrit word, that means unconditional friendship for oneself.    

I circled the word mitra and reflected on its meaning.  I wrote my own definition: mitra is my authenticity of imperfection smiling back at me. 

The second workshop focused on sound meditation and the Tao Te Ching. This was a transformative experience for me.  I embraced a passage from the Tao Te Ching as my own:  The Tao does nothing, but leaves nothing undone.  It helped me see that my do no-thing intention to allow the experience to unfold without an agenda and expectations had guided me throughout the day.  I ended up getting so much from the experience.  Click on the video below to hear more about the session’s impact on my spiritual practice.

I am grateful that I had these moments of insight because they will help me as I gear up to launch my new book, That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetic Memoir of Self-Discovery in late October.

Thank you for stopping by.  Have a great week!

Peace and Creativity,