Coming Home to Myself

Ananda at the Artists-in-Residence Retreat sponsored by Smith Center for Healing the Arts in May 2010

This morning I woke up thinking about a collage book that I made during the Artists-in-Residence Retreat sponsored by the Smith Center for Healing and the Arts in May 2010.  I remembered I posted photos of the book on my Flickr page.  So I used my smartphone to access the site.  My eyes were drawn to three images with wisdom messages that spoke to my heart.

Photo Credit: Always Open Your Hand to Receive Collage and Photo by Ananda Leeke

Image #1 Wisdom from Yours Truly: Always open your hand to receive.

Photo Credit: Ananda Leeke's collage of author Clarissa Pinkola Estes' wisdom quote

Image #2 Wisdom from poet, post-trauma specialist and Jungian psychoanalyst Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes: “In the face of ‘too much’ we gradually become dry, our hearts get tired, our energies become spare, and a mysterious longing for – we almost never have a name for it other than ‘a something’ rises up in us more and more.”

Photo Credit: Ananda Leeke's collage featuring author Madeleine L'Engle's qisdom quote

Image #3 Wisdom from author Madeleine L’Engle:  “Every so often I need OUT.”

These messages represented a Spring wake up call:  Continue practicing awareness of what I need.  They also invited me to return to the first page of my 2012 journal.  Here’s what I wrote on January 1.

Photo Credit: Road Home by Ananda Leeke (2010)

2012 must be different from 2011. I must return to the deep, juicy space of creativity that I discovered in 1992, the year I baptized myself in poetry, meditation, journal writing, self publishing my own work, art, daydreaming, museum and gallery visits, and travel adventures. I must come home to myself. What road must I take?  When I start walking along the road, how do I come home to myself? Through fierce living from your creative heart. What’s that?

Fierce Living is

F – Finding your

I – Inner women inside of you by

E – Exploring who they are and

R – Receiving them into your life as your

C – Community of

E – Expression and

When you tap into your inner women be sure to

L – Listen to them because they offer

I – Intuition

V – Vulnerability

I – Imagination

N – Nurturing and

G – Growth opportunities

This acronym of fierce living from my creative heart has become my personal theme for 2012 and a reminder of what I need to do to come home to myself.

Coming home to myself has allowed me to spend time reconnecting with my eight inner women otherwise known as archetypes and personalities. We’ve known each other for many years now. They include Ancestor, my wise woman; Ananda, my spirit woman and mystic; Kiamsha, my creative woman; Madelyn, my CEO woman; Cheryl, my balanced woman and peacekeeper; Puf, my girl child and Black American Princess; Sapphire, my warrior woman and sexy vixen; and Broomhilda, my inner critic.

Since January, we have reconnected through mindful meditation, Reiki healing touch, yoga, journaling, collage making, writing an intention statement, playing with six-word memoirs, going on creative adventure dates and walks, reading magazines, listening to music, shopping for our favorite things, and playing dress up in my closet. This investment of time has helped me deeply listen to myself.  So far, I have discovered that I need to do a better job of taking care of myself.  I need to practice self-compassion.  I need more ME time to just be, to rest, to daydream, to imagine, and to create.  I need to set better boundaries with my time, energy, resource sharing, and relationships.  I also need to say NO to certain people and requests so I can have space to say YES to the people and things that nourish my creative heart.  Today, I discovered coming home to myself is a daily necessity and an essential part of my life journey.

Copyright 2012 by Madelyn C. Leeke. All Rights Reserved.

Ananda is speaking about her work with wounded warrriors at the Veteran-Civilian Dialogue Project on March 15

Intersections International logo

Great news! I will speak about my work with wounded warriors as an artist-in-residence for Smith Center for Healing and the Arts at The Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on March 15 from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm at the Veteran-Civilian Dialogue Project held at Smith Center in Washington, DC.  Veteran-Civilian Dialogue is a project sponsored by Intersections, a New York-based non-government organization that works at the intersection of communities in conflict The Project brings together veterans and civilians to discuss the impact of war in their lives and others.

I started working as an artist-in-residence for Smith Center in 2000.  My first residency was based at Howard University Hospital where I served people living with cancer, HIV/AIDS, and other health challenges from 2003 to 2009.  Click here to learn more Smith Center’s artist-in-residence program.

Ananda’s 9/11 Smith Farm Center Wellness Workshop Adventures @Allen AME Church in DC

September 11th was a pretty special day for me this year. I spent the entire day at a wellness workshop sponsored by Smith Farm Center for Healing and the Arts at Allen AME Church in Washington, DC. During the workshop, I taught a short kind and gentle yoga class for African American DC residents. I also had a chance to connect with Howard University Hospital’s Cancer Center representative. We had a great time talking about the work of Smith Farm artists-in-residence at Howard University Hospital.  By the way, I worked as artist-in-residence at Howard Hospital from 2003 to 2009. Great times! Click here to see more photos from my adventures at the wellness workshop.

December 8: An Urban Retreat Day at Smith Farm Center for Healing and the Arts

Greetings All,

What a beautiful day it has been!  I spent it at an urban retreat held at one of my favorite U Street sanctuaries, Smith Farm Center for Healing and the Arts ( 

The retreat was organized for Smith Farm artists-in-residence who work at local hospitals.  I joined Smith Farm in 2001.  I started working in the hospital setting in January 2003.   Howard University Hospital was the first place I worked.  I have also conducted workshops at Washington Hospital Center’s Cancer Conferences, Holy Cross Hospital’s Breast Cancer Support Groups, and the annual conferences held by the Society for the Arts in Healthcare ( 

Smith Farm is an amazing place to work.  The organization always takes care of its artists with retreats and professional development workshops.  We are always learning and growing.  That’s why I love my Smith Farm family!

The urban retreat began with an amazing writing workshop.  Eight of us had a great time writing poetry and journaling exercises.  We also shared our thoughts.  Right before we lunch we experienced a wonderful gentle yoga session.  My favorite part was the yoga nidra.  That was the piece de resistance for me.  I felt like I was melting away! Yoga yummy! We had a yummy healthy lunch while we held our December meeting and shared our latest news.  I left feeling more relaxed and open to the holiday season and 2010!

What are you doing to relax and prepare for 2010?

Peace, Creativity, Compassion, and Gratitude OMs,


RIP Poet Linda Karlin

Dear All,

I just received news that a dear poet friend Linda Karlin made her life transition yesterday.  Linda had been battling cancer for many years.  We met while serving as artists-in-residence at Smith Farm Center for Healing and the Arts (  Linda was a true creative spirit and healer who shared her gifts of poetry, creative writing, drumming, and Reiki with the world.  She was passionate about many things including art, museums, service, butterflies, nature, the beach, water, reading, spirituality, labryinths, gemstones, and healing modalities.  I am so glad that I was able to know her. I know Linda is now one of my guardian angels.  May she rest in peace surrounded by light and love. May her husband Peter, family, and friends navigate her life transition with peace and grace. 

Blessings to my friend Linda,