Join Ananda for her DC Book Reading on 3/14, Online Creativity Coaching Session for Women on 3/25, and Yoga in Malcolm X Park on 3/28

Dear All,

Mark your calendars for the following events:


  • A free creative coaching session on March 25 from 9:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. EST that explores the nine blocks to women’s creativity. I will use creative coaching exercises in my new book That Which Awaken’s Me to guide the session.


  • A free kind and gentle yoga Meetup on March 28 from 11:30 a.m. to 12 noon at Malcolm X-Meridian Hill Park in DC. The class will be dedicated to National Women’s History Month, National Women and Girls HIV/AID Day, and National Nutrition Month.

Hope to see you at these events!

Peace, Creativity, Compassion, and Gratitude,


Celebrating Black History Month with Dehejia Maat’s new book of poetry Deep Rooted Soul Sista Poems

Greetings All,

My sistalove friend Dehejia Maat is a multitalented woman.  She shares her gifts as an actress, artist, poet, singer, yoga teacher, mother, and spirit woman. She recently published Deep Rooted Soul Sista Poems.  Her book is available on

Guess what? Dehejia also released a fantastic CD entitled Melanin Wine (Earth Mix) which is available on

Dehejia currently serves as the theater director for the Dragon Box Theater in D.C. She established the No Goddess Left Behind writers workshop.  Her current projects include The Joy of Billie Holiday (an original one woman show) and The Yes That Leads to Infinity (her second book of poetry).  Click here to learn more about Dehejia and her creativity:

Follow her on Twitter:

You can also join her Facebook page:

Check out her YouTube Channel:

Here are some of my favorite YouTube videos featuring Dehejia.  Enjoy!

Peace, Creativity, Compassion, and Gratitude for the creative spirit of Dehejia Maat,


The influence of India.Arie’s music and Spelman College on Ananda’s novel Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One

Hi All!

India.Arie’s music has been a powerful influence in my creative work.  Her first CD Acoustic Soul (2001) inspired me to keep moving forward during my novel writing journey.

Karma: Aham Prema (2005) by Ananda Leeke 

(Aham Prema means I am divine love in Sanskrit)


Her composition “Strength, Courage, and Wisdom” became a personal mantra for the main character Karma Francois in my debut novel Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One (2007). 

I mentioned the song in Love’s Troubadours because India’s music chronicles a woman’s journey of self-discovery.  It vibrates with authenticity and vulnerability.  Surrender and self-acceptance are key themes.  Love’s Troubadours embodies all of these things.  Karma’s journey explores a woman’s pain, passion, and power with authenticity, vulnerability, surrender, and self-acceptance. To learn more, visit The book is available on

Spelman College is also featured in Love’s Trouabdours.  Several characters are Spelman graduates (Karma’s twin sister and cousin are Spelmanites).  To learn more about Spelman, watch the video below.

Spelman College Museum of Fine Art is mentioned in Love’s Troubadours too.  Watch the video below featuring a tour of the Museum  given by its director Dr. Andrea Barnwell , an art historian, writer, and critic.   I was able to visit the Museum and see the exhbit featured in the video in October 2009.  AMAZING! 

FYI – Art plays a major role in Karma’s life. It inspires, consoles, and teaches her. My novel offers you a wonderful opportunity to look at life through Karma’s eyes as an art enthusiast and museum curator. Through her eyes, you will learn about exciting artists and photographers from the African Diaspora, Americas (USA and Mexico), Europe, and Japan such as Lois Mailou Jones, Kara Walker, Renee Stout, Yayoi Kusama, Faith Ringgold, Chris Ofili, Ansel Adams, Marion Perkins, Elizabeth Catlett, Francisco Mora, Alexander Calder, Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, Maria Izquierdo, Jean Michel Basquiat, Andre Derain, Annie Lee, Betye Saar, Alison Saar, Amalia Amaki, Joyce Scott, Lorna Simpson, Constantin Brancusi. Eldzier Cortor, Amedeo Modigliani, Sister Gertrude Morgan, Archibald Motley, Adrian Piper, Hughie Lee Smith, and Charles W. White. Read the art blog post:

Enjoy your day!

Peace, Creativity, Compassion, and Gratitude for India.Arie and Spelman College,


Ananda is teaching yoga at the Latinos in Social Media DC conference on Dec. 12

Happy Wednesday!

Many thanks to Kety Esquivel and the organizers of the Latinos in Social Media DC (LatiSMDC – conference for inviting me to teach a kind and gentle yoga class for computer users at the Latinos in Social Media conference on Saturday, December 12 at the National Council of La Raza (   LatiSMDC is a community building event that will bring together organizations focused on reaching Latinos and the seasoned social media veterans that can help them. Click here to read the agenda:  Visit to read a list of the amazing speakers.

Puerto Rico’s Flag

Cuba’s Flag

I am really excited about this opportunity because I have been in love with Latino communities, culture, cuisine, music, art, and spirituality since my first visit to Puerto Rico with my family in 1978 and Cuba with the Cuba AIDS Project in 2004.  Throughout junior and senior high school, I took Spanish.  I also minored in Spanish in college.  I am most passionate about Afro-Latinos because of the connection we share to the continent of Africa.  I discuss my passion for my adopted culture and trips to Puerto Rico and Cuba in my new book That Which Awakens Me:  A Creative Woman’s Poetic Memoir of Self Discovery.  See an excerpt below.

My Adopted Culture – (@) Copyright 2009 by Madelyn C. Leeke

Sometimes we keep prayers from childhood buried in the recesses of our minds. If we are lucky, we may rediscover them and allow them to breathe life into our adult world. Today I discovered one of mine. It was written in Spanish to honor the passion I hold in my heart for my adopted culture.

Yo creo que soy una Latina por que yo siento el afecto para la cultura Latina. Tengo una isla amiga se llama Puerto Rico. Yo quiero pensar y sonar en espanol. Yo quiero dansar y vivir en espanol. Querido Dios, me cambias una Latina, por favor.

I believe that I am a Latina because I feel affection for Latin culture. I have an island friend named Puerto Rico. I want to think and dream in Spanish. I want to dance and live in Spanish. Dear God, Please change me into a Latina.

The first time I conceived remnants of this prayer was during Mr. Candelaria’s Mexican Christmas at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Landover, Maryland. It was the early 1970s. I was in third grade. Jose Feliciano’s holiday song “Feliz Navidad” was popular. My religious education teacher was Mr. Candelaria, a Mexican man with an open heart, giving spirit, passion for folk music, and a commitment to teach his students about his Mexican heritage. Somehow he convinced Father Ward, our parish priest, to permit our class to decorate the outside of the church with brown paper bags that we normally used for school lunches or popcorn that we snuck into the movies. We filled the bags with sand and placed a white candle in the middle of the sand. For Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, we lit the candles and watched their illuminating presence outline the architectural design of the church. It was a magical moment that taught me how we each have a light within us. That light is our spark of divinity. Our job is to keep it lit so that it shines for eternity.

My debut novel Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One (2007 – pays tribute to the contributions made by Afro-Latinos to culture, history, music, and dance in the Americas. It features characters with Afro-Cuban, Afro-Mexican, and Afro-Peruvian roots. These characters offer rich dialogue peppered with references to Afro-Latino culture and history. They also work with and maintain positive relationships with African Americans that promote Black and Brown solidarity.  

Love’s Troubadours educates readers about Yanga, an African who ran away from his slave master in 1609 and founded the first free African township near Veracruz, Mexico. The novel gives readers an interesting history lesson about American-born African slaves who fled to Mexico in the mid 1800s. Readers also visit museums such as El Museo del Barrio in New York City and National Museum of Mexican Art (formerly known as the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum) in Chicago that exhibit Afro-Latino art. In addition, they have a chance to fall in love with the music of Afro-Cuban jazz musicians Mongo Santamaria and Omar Sosa, Afro-Puerto Rican jazz musician Willie Bobo, and Afro-Peruvian singer Susana Baca. By the end of Love’s Troubadours, readers may find themselves dancing Salsa just like the main character Karma Francois.

Enjoy your day and week!