Happy Creativity Thursday: Creativity Requires Courage

Photo Credit: http://blog.ali-comunicazione.com/?cat=3
Photo Credit: http://blog.ali-comunicazione.com/?cat=3

Happy Creativity Thursday!

When I was a little girl growing up in Landover, Maryland in the 1970s, my mother, an early childhood undergraduate student at the University of Maryland, encouraged me and my brothers to express our creativity through the power of imagination. My oldest brother, Mike, was the leader of our pack. His courage to create things we could only dream about amazed me. He designed and showed us how to cut out guitars from cardboard boxes so that we could imitate the Jackson Five, our favorite musical group. He also designed the plans for a snow igloo and served as the chief architect and foreman during the building process.

Mike Leeke
Mike Leeke

Photo Credit: Mike Leeke
Photo Credit: Mike Leeke

Later, he developed his talents and studied to become a comic book graphic artist at the Philadelphia College of Art. Throughout his career, I have watched Mike tap into the wellspring of courage that lies within his heart to pursue his dreams. It has grounded him in times of transition and helped him expand his vision for his creative expression. He is my creativity courage hero who reminds me to embrace my own courage in my creative life.

How do you find courage to express your creativity?

Do you have any creativity courage heroes or sheroes?

Happy Creativity Thursday: Posing Beauty at Spelman College Museum of Fine Art


Happy Creativity Thursday!

Last week, I visited Spelman College Museum of Fine Art’s Posing Beauty in African American Culture exhibition. Posing Beauty features over 75 photographs that span 12 decades (1890 to the present). It is the first exhibition I have ever seen that explores and challenges widespread and historic notions of African American beauty in photography. Deborah Willis, Ph.D., served as the curator of Posing Beauty. Willis is one of my favorite authors and photographers. She is also one of leading historians of African American photography.

While exploring the exhibition, I discovered and fell in love with a selection of cabinet cards featuring Spelman College faculty, students, and alumnae. Cabinet cards are photographic portraits mounted on 4 1/4 by 6 1/2 inch cards that people traded with each other in the early 1870s. They reminded me of several cabinet cards I have of my great grandmother Eunice Ann Thomas Roberts.

If you are in Atlanta, make sure you see the exhibition. It closes on December 7. Be sure to follow Spelman Museum on Twitter and Instagram. Like it on Facebook.

Happy Creativity Thursday: Digital Sisterhood Graphic Design Process & Author Chat Videos

Happy Creativity Thursday!

Today’s blog features several creative treats related to my new book, Digital Sisterhood: A Memoir of Fierce Living Online (available on Amazon.com for Kindle and as a paperback and hardback book).

Photo Credit: http://daridesignstudio.com/blog/
Photo Credit: http://daridesignstudio.com/blog/

Digital Sisterhood Book Graphic Design Process: This week, my amazing graphic designer, Dariela Cruz published a blog post about the work she did to make my book’s cover art come to life. Click here to read all about it.

Author Chat Video Series:  On October 14, I hosted my first author chat for my Kickstarter donors. The chat was divided into two videos. See the links below. Let me know what you think about the videos in the comment section.

Event Schedule Reminder:

1) If you are in DC on October 19, please plan to attend my author talk and book reading from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery, 1632 U Street, NW (three blocks from the U Street/Cardozo Green Line Metro Station). Click here to register for the event. See you on October 19th!

2) October 23 @ 9-10:00pm EST – Author Twitter Chat – Follow @digitalsisterhd on Twitter. Use the hashtag #digitalsisterhood and Tweetgrid.com, Tweetchat.com, or Hootsuite to participate in the conversation.

3) October 30 @ 9-9:30pm EST – Digital Sisterhood Radio Author Chat – Visit www.talkshoe.com/tc/42015 to listen to the show.

4) November 9: I will give a talk on leadership styles that people can use to make a positive impact on the digital global community at the 2nd Annual Women Interactive Creative Technology Festival at Spelman College in Atlanta, GA.

5) November 13 @ 9-9:30 p.m. EST – Google Hangout Author Chat –  https://plus.google.com/106456342761801770741


Happy Creativity Thursday: Celebrating My Author Creative Style

Happy Creativity Thursday!

Today’s blog post discusses my creative style as an author. Earlier this year, I started collecting pictures from fashion magazines that illustrated what I wanted to look like as an author during my fall and winter Digital Sisterhood book events. I fell in love with gold jewelry, knit dresses with lots of zippers, leather wedge boots, colorful trench coats, and purses with funky side stitching.

dsauthorcreativestyleThanks to my incredibly creative and fashion savvy niece, Jordan, I knew I could find my gold jewelry — a funky ring and bangles from Forever 21 during one of my Labor Day sale adventures.


The black knit dress with zippers was a hard one to find. I started looking at my usual spots — Ann Taylor Loft, Macy’s, Marshalls, and TJ Maxx, but had no luck. While I was walking home earlier this week, my inner fashion goddess who lives inside my head whispered, “Drop by Dress Barn to see about the black knit dress.” So I listened (my inner fashion goddess is never wrong!) and found a petite black knit dress with gold zippers for $42. Yes, I said $42!


My Tahari black leather wedge boots were easy to find. I just had to look in my closet and find my boot container with boots I purchased two and three years ago. I had the heels fixed during the summer.


Looking for a trench coat has been a two-year challenge. I finally found one that fit my author creative style requirements (colorful), body size, and budget from Marshalls on a Sunday morning after church. It was love at first sight. Thank goodness Jones New York makes cinnamon double-breasted petite trench  coats that end up in Marshalls for $60!


My black leather purse with funky silver side stitching is an oldie but goodie purchase I made at Violet Boutique (one of my favorite places to shop in D.C. — especially for jewelry, purses, coats, and jackets) in 2011.


The piece de resistance of my author creative style is my red tiger glasses by Oliver Goldsmith (OG), a London-based family run business that is synonymous with fashion and style. OG has been in business for the past 80 years. Fashion designers Christian Dior, Givenchy, and Vidal Sassoon, and actors Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Peter Sellers, and Michael Caine embraced OG eyewear early in their careers.

Photo Credit: OliverGoldsmith.com
Photo Credit: OliverGoldsmith.com

I discovered my red tiger glasses during one of my summer visits to Dupont Optical, the place that has helped me select signature eyewear for over 20 years. Dupont Optical owner and optician Ben Herman recommended my red tiger glasses and another very cool pair of casual glasses I can wear as sunshades.


What are you wearing this fall to express your creativity?


You can purchase Digital Sisterhood on Amazon.com.

If you are in Washington, D.C. on October 19, please plan to attend my  author talk and book reading from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery, 1632 U Street, NW (three blocks from the U Street/Cardozo Green Line Metro Station). Click here to register for the event. See you on October 19th!

Happy Creativity Thursday – Celebrating the Creativity of Scandal on ABC

Happy Creativity Thursday!

Today’s blog celebrates the creativity of Shonda Rhimes’ Scandal featuring Kerry Washingon. Scandal is a political television drama that stars Washington’s character, Olivia Pope. It focuses on Pope’s crisis management firm, Pope & Associates, its staff, the President of the United States and the White House staff.

Photo Credit: BeBlogalicious.com
Photo Credit: BeBlogalicious.com

Tonight is the season three premiere. I’ll be watching it with my Blogalicious family. If you are headed to Blogalicious, I hope to see you at the Scandal party!

Happy Creativity Thursday! Celebrating Indian Artist Zarina Hashmi’s “Paper Like Skin” Exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago – 9/26

Artist Date at Argo Tea after seeing Zarina's exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago in July 2013
Artist Date at Argo Tea after seeing Zarina’s exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago in July 2013

Happy Creativity Thursday!

Today’s blog celebrates Indian artist Zarina Hashmi’s  Paper Like Skin exhibition that I saw while visiting the Art Institute of Chicago in July.

Zarina - Photo Credit: David Heald
Zarina – Photo Credit: David Heald

In the art world, Hashmi is known as Zarina. She is originally from India, one of my favorite places in the world. Her Paper Like Skin exhibition explores her artwork and career since 1961. It is an impressive collection of 60 works. My favorite piece is Shadow House. See photo below.

Shadow House by Zarina (2006) - Photo Credit: Zarina/©Lamay Photo
Shadow House by Zarina (2006) – Photo Credit: Zarina/©Lamay Photo

I am drawn to her work because of her minimalist style, feminist spirit, and the magical way she uses paper. As a printmaker and sculptor, she transforms paper pulp into abstract woodcuts, etchings, drawings, rubbings, and casts. Her work also tells stories of dispossession, exile, and making new homes in different places such as Thailand, Germany, France, and Japan before settling in the United States. When she moved to New York City in the 1970s, she became a prominent figure in feminist art circles.

Happy Creativity Thursday – Read Some of My Favorite Writing Wisdom Quotes & Writing Life Poem

Happy Creativity Thursday!

Today, I want to share some of my favorite writing wisdom quotes from writers I adore.

“I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.” Joan Didion, European American author

“The ability of writers to imagine what is not the self, to familiarize the strange and mystify the familiar, is the test of their power.” Toni Morrison, African American author

“Writing becomes a way to embrace the mysterious, to walk with spirits, and an entry to the realm of the sacred.” bell hooks, African American author, poet, professor, and cultural critic

Photo Credit - Leigh Mosley, www.leighmosley.com
Photo Credit – Leigh Mosley, http://www.leighmosley.com

Here’s a poem about my writing life.

My Writing Life from That Which Awakens Me


I’m a writer who writes even when she is asleep.

Right now I’m a writer who is in the midst of a long creative stretch.

One that involves birthing a book every two years.

My journey is both passion and paradox all at the same time.

At times it can consume me and keep me living on my own planet with enough rice milk, granola, ginger tea, honey, strawberries, bananas, apples, and split pea soup to last a lifetime.

This path has called me.

And I can’t begin to explain to folks what that exactly means because I am living it.

So I hope they can just get the meaning by watching me be me.


I write because language chosen from deep within me liberates my hidden thoughts and gives life to my dreams.

I write because it is one of the best ways I know how to access freedom.

I am talking about the kind of freedom that brings all aspects of my existence into one room so that I can appreciate the fullness of my complex beauty.

The words that express my thoughts and describe my dreams make their way into phrases.

Some find homes in sentences that question and answer.

Others join the gospel choir in my mind and participate in call and response.

A few dangle as sharp, shooting fragments with meaning.

And then there are those that cast their net wide and paint wildly sensational murals on the canvas of my life.

They all embody the voice of my soul.

Happy Creativity Thursday – Celebrating the Artwork of Tanekeya Word

Photo Credit: www.tanekeyaword.com
Photo Credit: http://www.tanekeyaword.com
Photo Credit: http://www.vogue.it/en/magazine/daily-news/2012/09/milan-fashion-week
Photo Credit: http://www.vogue.it/en/magazine/daily-news/2012/09/milan-fashion-week

Happy Creativity Thursday! Happy First Day of New York Fashion Week too!

Today, I am celebrating the power of art and fashion by featuring Tanekeya Word, one of my favorite artists who has created artwork and a personal brand that celebrate fashion, popular culture, and her life experiences. She is also a fellow Howardite (Howard University, Class of 2006). I discovered her amazing artwork and purchased several prints in 2008. Word defines herself as a Hybrid Chic Afrofuturist Visual Artist. Currently, she serves as the managing editor, creative & art director, and literature & culture editor of neonV,  a biannual magazine for the contemporary peculiar woman that provides a compelling storyline of traditional and innovative content by exposing the cultural and subcultural continuums in fashion, art, beauty, and travel. Click here to learn more about Word and her incredibly stunning work.

Tanekeya Word's self portrait painting - Photo Credit: www.tanekeyaword.com
Tanekeya Word’s self portrait painting – Photo Credit: http://www.tanekeyaword.com

Here’s one of my favorite pieces of her work. It’s called “Issa Rae. Awkward Black Girl. Comedic Genius.” It represents Issa Rae, screen writer, actress, producer, and founder of The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl webisode series.

Photo Credit: www.tanekeyaword.com
Photo Credit: http://www.tanekeyaword.com

Happy Creativity Thursday: Celebrating Faith Ringgold’s Art at the National Museum of Women in the Arts

Photo Credit: FaithRinggold.com
Photo Credit: FaithRinggold.com

Happy Creativity Thursday!

Today’s blog is wrapped in the creative spirit of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, the Civil Rights and Feminist movements, and the phenomenal artwork of Faith Ringgold, one of my creative sheroes. Visit her web site and read her blog for more information about her activism, art, and authentic way of living.


A few weeks ago, I took myself on an artist date to see the American People, Black Light: Faith Ringgold’s Paintings of the 1960s series at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Ringgold’s American People series offers insight into how she experienced life during this powerful decade of change in the United States. It features 49 rarely exhibited paintings that I was able to see for a second time. The first time I saw them was at Spelman College Museum of Fine Art in 2012.


After seeing the paintings for a second time, I can now say the Black Light Series is one of my all-time favorite groups of Ringgold paintings. Her use of African masks in the design of people’s faces and the way she weaves words into her paintings dazzle my spirit. Each time I see the bold colors of red, black and green in the paintings, my eyes sparkle and my heart travels back to my childhood when my parents taught my brothers and I about the “Black is Beautiful” movement. I am madly in love with the Black Light Series #3: Soul Sister (I mention it in my novel, Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One). I also adore the Black feminist activist series of four political posters, Women Freedom Now, Women Free Angela, Woman Free Yourself, and America Free Angela. 

Free Angela America by Faith Ringgold - Photo Credit: FaithRinggold.com
Free Angela America by Faith Ringgold – Photo Credit: FaithRinggold.com

If you are in D.C. between now and November 10, treat yourself to a morning or afternoon visit to see Ringgold’s fantastic work at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. For more information about Ringgold’s work in the 1960s, click here to read her daughter Michelle Wallace’s Ringgold in the 1960s blog. Enjoy!

Happy Creativity Thursday – Read Poem About Being Poetry Virgin

Happy Creativity Thursday!

Here’s a lovely poem that shares the moment I lost my poetry virginity in the 1990s! Enjoy!

mewriterWhen I Lost My Virginity as a Poet from That Which Awakens Me

Before Busboys and Poets arrived on the scene, spoken word poets congregated at Soul Brothers Pizza on the corner of 14th and U in the early 1990s.

Two Morehouse brothas opened it up and kept it going for a few years.

Soul Brothers Pizza is where I lost my virginity as a poet.

It happened one night when my friend Kwame was hosting an event.

He had just helped me publish my first chapbook of poetry.

WPFW 89.3 radio host Grace Cavalieri had recently interviewed me on her show, “The Poet and the Poem.”

Despite these accomplishments, I was nervous.

I had never read my work in a public venue before.

As soon as Kwame introduced me, I could feel my hands trembling.

By the time I reached the makeshift stage, my mind was playing tricks on me.

My five senses soaked up the scene.

The second hand smoke made my eyes itch.

Conversations at nearby tables overwhelmed me.

I stood looking into the small crowd and wondered if they would even listen to anything I had to say.

Just when I thought I was going to sit down, words tumbled out of my mouth.

They were rushed.

Some folks stared at me for a nanosecond before returning back to their conversations.

The volume of table banter increased.

Kwame asked the audience to quiet down.

A few moments of silence emerged.

I closed my eyes.

That’s when I offered a few lines of my poetry.

After I uttered the last word, I opened my eyes and stared into a sea of blank faces.

I wondered if they understood my poem’s meaning.

Maybe it was too deep

Or maybe they just wanted to keep talking and eating.