What is your definition of service?

Greetings All,

Today I listened to NPR journalist Michel Martin’s conversation with James Braxton Peterson, assistant professor of English and Africana Studies at Bucknell University, about the meaning of service and its connection to Dr. Martin L. King, Jr.’s legacy of service.  It was aired on Martin’s NPR show, Tell Me More on January 18.  Click here to listen to the conversation (11 minutes): www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=122626581.

Michel Martin

Professor James Braxton Peterson

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I was really moved by Professor Peterson’s definition of service:

“Service has got to be not just the action but also a mind state and that’s something that’s got to be sustained over the course of the year, throughout your life. It’s a very, very important act, particularly people of color and people who come from certain circumstances understand that service is what helps folk who are underprivileged to rise above and transcend their own circumstances.”

I totally agree with the idea that service is a mind state.  My mind state of service started when I was growing up in my parents’ home.  They both believed in service to their family, friends, local neighborhood in P.G. County, Maryland, and St. Joseph Catholic Church.

My mother exposed me to the meaning of service through her active membership and participation in Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.  Sigma’s motto is “Greater Service, Greater Progress.”  It became my personal motto when I joined Sigma in 1983.  It also helped me develop my personal plan on how I contribute to my community and the world.

During Martin’s radio show, Professor Peterson also shared the following remarks:

  • “Remember, the idea around service is that it’s grassroots so that if everyone does a little bit, then actually that’s where the movement comes in. So, every small contribution does count. And listen, if you don’t have time contributing a few dollars to particularly service-oriented organization, it’s very, very important.”
  • “Part of community service is being an outstanding, contributing citizen within your community. That’s the first step, that you actually are someone who handles their own economic business, their family business and is responsible as a citizen in the United States.”
  • “So if everyone helps the elderly person to cross the street or if everyone goes into a school and tries to mentor one child even if it’s for one day, that’s going to be very, very powerful. That’s going to be extremely powerful. So, every little bit counts. We’re thinking aggregate here. And we’re thinking and hoping that everyone will rise to the challenge and the responsibility of service in our society.”

WOW! Professor Peterson’s really hit home with me.  They made me go back and read my path of service discussed in my new book, That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetic Memoir of Self-Discovery (available on Amazon.com – http://tiny.cc/7uFsg).  I have included an excerpt below.

Excerpt from Chapter Seven: Service. Vocation. Answering Your Life’s Calling. (one of my favorite six-word memoirs – www.smithmag.net)

Copyright 2009 by Madelyn C. Leeke

The Birth of Service

A thousand thoughts ran through my mind as I tried to trace the birth of service in my life.

Three thoughts cemented themselves into my psyche.

Thought #1 – My parents taught me the more you have, the
more you are called to give through service they provided to
their neighborhood, church community, and membership

Thought #2 – The Catholic Church reinforced this teaching by
promoting charity to others.

Thought #3 – Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority required its
members to perform community service as an extension of its
motto: Greater Service, Greater Progress.

One question followed.

How did these thoughts shape my ideas and commitments to

My journal opened itself and soul searching unfolded onto its

Each page was decorated with one sentence.

I read them out loud and realized they were affi rmations I can
use to create a service creed for guidance and reminders.

I serve because I want to honor my ancestors by leaving Mother
Earth better than I found her.

I serve based on a family legacy that cherishes giving back through

I serve from the center of my spirit which is rooted in sacred
teachings that promote charity, compassion, and contemplative

I serve individuals, communities, and organizations that connect
to my deepest passions: creativity, healing, yoga, meditation, Reiki,
green living, people of color, and women.

I serve because my work contributes to greater service, greater

I serve because giving creates a vacuum for receiving, completes a
cycle of abundance, and says to the universe I claim my oneness
with everyone and everything.

What is your definition of service?

How do you serve in your life?

Enjoy your day and week!

Peace, Creativity, Compassion, and Service,


Listen to Ananda share a poem honoring her grandmother Dorothy Gartin who made her life transition on 1.8.09.

Greetings All,

Many thanks to everyone for your prayers offered on behalf of the life transition of my grandmother Dorothy Mae Johnson Gartin.  I posted an audio blog on Cinchcast below that includes a poem about “Nanan”.  It is featured in my new book That Which Awakens Me:  A Creative Woman’s Poetic Memoir of Self-Discovery (available on Amazon.com). 

My grandmother Dorothy was 97 1/2 years young. She was the last grandparent of mine on earth. It feels really strange to not have a grandparent alive.  Time is something else. It moves us forward and leaves us with opportunities to remember our ancestors.  I have been doing a lot of remembering this weekend.  I am grateful that I had an opportunity to know all of my grandparents.  They each left me with wonderful gifts of love, character, stories, and a rich family history. I am blessed to have their spirits with me.

Please share any memories of your grandmothers or grandparents in the comment section below.

Enjoy your second week of 2010!

Peace, Creativity, Compassion, and Gratitude for all those ancestors who came before me,


Ananda’s reflection on Kuumba (creativity), the 6th day of Kwanzaa

Greetings All!

Happy New Year’s Eve!  Happy Kuumba (Creativity), the 6th day of Kwanzaa!

What does creativity mean to you?

How have you been creative in 2009?

What are your creative plans for 2010?

Click on my Cinchcast below to hear my reflection on Kuumba and an excerpt about creativity from my new book, That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetic Memoir of Self-Discovery (available on Amazon.com – http://tiny.cc/7uFsg).  I also mention the way African Americans are using their creativity and social media tools (Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, Twitter, etc.) to tell their stories on web TV shows such as my new five favorites: “Anacostia”, “Buppies”, “Kindred”, “The New 20s”, and “Wed-Locked.”  All of these shows represent a new wave of artistic freedom in 21st century visual culture.  They celebrate the independence of creative folks who are willing to tell a wide range of stories that document the many facets of African American life.  For me, they echo one of my favorite mantras: Black folks are NOT and will never be monolothic!  They also  remind me of my debut novel, Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One (www.lovestroubadours.com ; available on Amazon.com –  http://tinyurl.com/yfxtqyq) are also sources of inspiration for my next novel, Love’s Trouabadours – Symon: Book Two. 

Enjoy your day and New Year’s Eve!  Many blessings to you and your family in 2010! 

Peace, Compassion, and Creativity,


Videos from Ananda’s December 6th Book Release Party

Happy Kwanzaa and New Year!

I hope your holiday season has been a joyous one so far!  Today I uploaded several videos from my December 6th book release party that celebrated my new book That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetic Memoir of Self-Discovery.  Enjoy! 

That Which Awakens Me and my debut novel Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One (www.lovestroubadours.com) are both available on Amazon.com:   http://tiny.cc/7uFsg and http://tinyurl.com/yfxtqyq.

Enjoy your week!

Peace, Compassion, Gratitude, Unity, and Self-Determination,


Ananda’s December 6th book release party featured in The Cotillion Magazine

Me and author/performer Margaux Delotte-Bennett (one of my favorite poets! – www.kinkywaves.wordpress.com)

Photo Credits: Jessica Solomon, founder of The Saartjie Project – www.saartjieproject.org


Greetings All,

Many thanks to Pamela L. Pressley, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Cotillion (www.thecotilliononline.com), a daily online  publication, for writing an article about my official release party that celebrated my new book That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetic Memoir of Self-Discovery on December 6 at SHAKTI MindBody Studio (www.shaktimindbodystudio.com) in Washington, D.C.  Click here to read the article: http://www.thecotilliononline.com/2009/12/07/ananda-leekes-that-which-awakens-me-book-signing-and-release-party.  It includes some great photos. 

I will post some webisodes from the book party later this week.  My photographer Leigh Mosley (www.leighmosley.com) will give me photos of the event this weekend or early next week. So hold tight until then!  My videographer Matt Leeke of Majik Productions (yep he’s my brother) will edit the video footage this holiday season.  Look for the videos on Ananda Leeke TV (www.youtube.com/anandaleeke) this winter!

If you missed the book party, you can watch my online book party featured on the December 5th webisode of Ananda Leeke Live! on UStream.tv:  http://www.ustream.tv/channel/ananda-leeke-live.

That Which Awakens Me and my debut novel Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One (2007 – www.lovestroubadours.com) are available on Amazon.com.  Click here to purchase the books:  That Which Awakens Me – http://tiny.cc/7uFsg and Love’s Troubadours –  http://tinyurl.com/yfxtqyq.

Enjoy your day and week!

Peace, Creativity, Joy, Compassion, and Gratitude,


Watch Ananda Leeke Live! on UStream.tv tonite at 7pm for That Which Awakens Me online book party.

Happy Saturday!

Join me at 7:00 p.m. EST tonight for my online book party celebrating That Which Awakens Me on Ananda Leeke Live! – http://www.ustream.tv/channel/ananda-leeke-live.

Enjoy your weekend!


REMINDER – Ananda Leeke’s Dec. 6 book reading @4pm in DC

Happy Friday!

Join me in celebrating my new book That Which Awakens Me on Sunday, December 6 at 4pm. The event will be held at SHAKTI MindBody Studio (http://www.shaktimindbodystudio.com), 1302 9th Street, N.W, Washington D.C. The Chinatown Metro (walk 3 blocks north on 7th Street) and Mt. Vernon Street Metro (walk 1 block South on 7th Street) are located near SHAKTI. Judy Weathers, my financial advisor with Ameriprise Financial Inc., will provide a gift certificate for a free consultation to individuals who purchase copies of That Which Awakens Me and Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One (my debut novel about a yoga teacher in D.C. – http://www.lovestroubadours.com). The book party will be videotaped by Matt Leeke of Majik Productions, Inc.

The book is available on Amazon.com: http://tiny.cc/7uFsg. If you cannot make the official book release party, join me on December 5th at 7pm for an author chat on Ananda Leeke Live!, my UStream.tv show: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/anandaleeke. Don’t panic if you miss the live show. You can watch a video of it and other shows when time permits.

FYI – Check out Ananda Leeke TV on YouTube for webisodes featuring my official book release countdown: http://www.youtube.com/anandaleeke.

Thank you for your positive energy, love, and support! Enjoy your holiday season!

Peace, Creativity, Compassion, Gratitude, and Holiday OMs,

Ananda Leeke