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 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.

My Creativity Coaching Sessions for Blogalicious Conference Attendees


Happy #DigitalSisterhood Wednesday!

Today’s blog is all about the Blogalicious Weekend Conference and creativity. Read on!

Photo Credit: http://cormiercreative.com/creativity-is-contagious/
Photo Credit: http://cormiercreative.com/creativity-is-contagious/

Creativity is one of my life’s passions. I believe we are born with a spark of creativity that can awaken us to an amazing life. Throughout life’s journey our creative spark needs nourishment, guidance, and support. One way we can nurture our creative spark and gain support and guidance for our dreams, ideas, and endeavors is with the support of a creativity coach.

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

Since 2009, I have served as a creativity coach and helped clients to identify, understand, and embrace their inner critic (the inner voice that tells you  cannot or don’t have what it takes to create, build, or fund your dreams, ideas, and endeavors). With my support, they have been able to confront and overcome their fears, doubts, and obstacles that prevent them from creating, building, and funding their dreams, ideas, and endeavors. They have mapped out their goals and timelines, and developed a strategic plan to accomplish them with my guidance. Watching my clients succeed brings me great joy! That’s why I am offering one-on-one creativity coaching to Blogalicious Weekend Conference attendees on October 3-5 at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta.


For Blogalicious Weekend Conference Attendees: If you have a burning desire to launch a new idea or endeavor or you feel uncertain, doubtful, or fearful about giving birth to a dream you have been holding onto for the past month, year or decade, sign up for a 15 minute creativity coaching session with me. Click here to register for a session (LIMITED NUMBER SO ACT SOON!). Once you have registered for a session, please complete the short SurveyMonkey questionnaire (9 questions). Your responses will help prepare me for our 15 minute session. All sessions will be held in the “Vinnings” conference room at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta. If you have additional questions, please email me at kiamshaleeke@yahoo.com.

Happy Creativity Thursday! Celebrating the Artwork of Victor Ekpuk at Morton Fine Art in DC

Artist Victor Ekpuk and friend at Morton Fine Art exhibition on 9/13
Artist Victor Ekpuk and friend at Morton Fine Art exhibition on 9/13

Happy Creativity Thursday!

Today’s blog celebrates the artwork of Nigerian contemporary artist Victor Ekpuk. Last weekend, I started my Autumn Artist Weekends with a visit to Morton Fine Art to see a solo exhibition of Ekpuk’s artwork, “Reminiscences and Current Musings.”

Victor Ekpuk chatting with people at Morton Fine Art exhibition on 9/13
Victor Ekpuk chatting with people at Morton Fine Art exhibition on 9/13

My favorite piece in the exhibition is Idaresit (Joyful Heart). See photo below.

Idaresit (Joyful Heart) by Victor Ekpuk,  2004 - Photo Credit: Victor Ekpuk/Morton Fine Art
Idaresit (Joyful Heart) by Victor Ekpuk, 2004 – Photo Credit: Victor Ekpuk/Morton Fine Art

I discovered Ekpuk’s work this summer during one of my visits to Morton Fine Art. I was immediately drawn to his use of nsibidi “traditional” Nigerian graphic symbols and writing systems in his work. The symbols refer to abstract concepts, actions, or things. When they are used, they facilitate communication among peoples speaking different languages. Nsibidi is indigenous to the Ejagham peoples of southeastern Nigeria and southwestern Cameroon in the Cross River region. Ibibio, Efik and Igbo people also use it. Click here to read more about the meaning of nsibidi.

Victor Ekpuk's artwork
Victor Ekpuk’s artwork

I love how Ekpuk’s work incorporates aspects of his ancestry. It makes me think that the spirit of his ancestors are embedded into his artwork. The placement of the nsibidi symbols in his works creates soulful, lyrical poetry that speaks silently to my spirit. Perhaps that’s why the poet in me feels so connected to his work!

Victor Ekpuk artwork at Morton Fine Art
Victor Ekpuk artwork at Morton Fine Art

If you are in the D.C. area, I encourage you to visit the exhibition at Morton Fine Art. It ends October 8.  The Artist Talk will be held on Saturday, September 28 from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Hope to see you there!

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.

Happy Creativity Thursday – Depicted/Connected: Paintings by Tim Okamura Coming to U Street in September

Photo Credit: Tim Okamura's painting, Sun Rise on U Street, 2013
Photo Credit: Tim Okamura’s painting, Sun Rise on U Street, 2013

Happy Creativity Thursday!

Today, I am excited to announce that Smith Center for Healing and the Arts is hosting an opening reception for the D.C. debut of Brooklyn-based painter Tim Okamura’s new portrait collection, Depicted/Connected on Friday, September 27, from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery, 1632 U Street, N.W. (three blocks from the U Street/Cardozo Metro Station on the Green Line).

Photo Credit: Tim Okamura
Photo Credit: Tim Okamura

Depicted/Connected features 11 culturally diverse women who were primarily born and raised in the D.C. area. They are depicted through Tim’s self-constructed lens which captures how they have experienced the evolution of D.C. as a city. Through the paintings, he says, “I have sought to celebrate these women as individuals, connected to their environment, but also to discover through them metaphors for greater aspects of the human condition – connected to all of us.” If you are in D.C. on September 27, please plan to attend this amazing event. See you in September!

SIDE NOTE: Just in case you couldn’t tell who is featured in the painting above, I’ll let you in on a secret. It’s me. Tim included a door from Republic Gardens, a club I used to hang out in during the 1990s and early 2000s.

Ananda Leeke at Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery
Ananda Leeke at Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery
Photo Credit: http://soulofamerica.com/interact/us-cities/washington-dc/washington-dc-restaurants/republic-gardens-restaurant/
Photo Credit: http://soulofamerica.com/interact/us-cities/washington-dc/washington-dc-restaurants/republic-gardens-restaurant/

The club has a rich history too. It first opened in the 1920s when owner W.G. Tindel converted a brick rowhouse (1355 U Street, N.W.) into a restaurant with a backyard summer garden on U Street, the heart of D.C.’s African American culture and life (the reason I moved to the neighborhood 23 years ago). During the next 30 years, it became a major destination for fans of live jazz. Two of my favorite jazz musicians Duke Ellington and Charlie Parker performed there.

When I look at the sun-like gold window on the red door in the painting, I am reminded of Amaterasu, the Japanese sun  goddess. She is associated with the colors red, gold, and yellow. She represents royal power and returning life and joy after dark times, as the sun becomes stronger and warmer after the winter solstice.

Tim Okamura and amazing ladies at Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery
Tim Okamura and amazing ladies at Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery


I met Tim on June 9, during his photo shoot for Depicted/Connected at the Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery. Smith Center invited me and five amazing women to participate in the photo shoot. The first thing I noticed about him was his easy-going spirit, positive energy, and kind smile. He was able to stay focused and have fun too.

Tim Okamura and Ananda Leeke at Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery
Tim Okamura and Ananda Leeke at Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery

After the photo shoot, I went home and Googled Tim to learn more about his work. When I visited his Facebook page and saw his painting, “Les Nubians Combat Pour L’Amour” and “Courage 3.0,” I became an instant fan. I also listened to his 2011 interview on NPR’s Tell Me More with journalist Michel Martin. During the interview, he discussed his passion for hip hop, his hip hop radio show in Canada, and his ”Bronx Brooklyn Queens” series of paintings that feature African-American women of New York City. I Googled the series and fell in love with each painting. What a powerful body of work!

More About Tim (from his official bio):
He earned a B.F.A. with Distinction at the Alberta College of Art and Design in Calgary, Canada before moving to New York City to attend the School of Visual Arts in 1991.  After graduating with an M.F.A. in 1993, he relocated to Brooklyn, New York, where he continues to live and work. His artwork has been exhibited in the National Portrait Gallery in London, England; galleries throughout the U.S. and Canada; and he was short-listed by the Royal Surveyor of the Queen’s Picture Collection for a commissioned portrait of the Queen of England.  His work is included in the permanent collection of the Toronto Congress Center, Standard Chartered Bank, and the Davis Museum in Massachusetts, as well as the private collections of  celebrity clients such as John Mellencamp, Uma Thurman, and Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson. He is represented by Lyons Wier Gallery in New York, and Douglas Udell Gallery in Canada. To learn more about Tim and his work, LIKE him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

#DigitalSisterhood Wednesday News: Ananda is sharing her creativity coaching gifts with Blogalicious in October!

Photo Credit: Leigh Mosley, www.leighmosley.com and t-shirt created by LaShaun Martin for Shootie Girl, http://shootiegirl.net
Photo Credit: Leigh Mosley, http://www.leighmosley.com and t-shirt created by LaShaun Martin for Shootie Girl, http://shootiegirl.net

Happy Digital Sisterhood Wednesday!

Blogalicious is one of my favorite communities and conferences because it celebrates diversity in the blogosphere. It embodies the spirit of Digital Sisterhood and Digital Brotherhood! I have been a fan since the first conference in 2009 (have attended all four conferences too).

Photo Credit: Blogalicious
Photo Credit: Blogalicious

This year, I am excited about celebrating the fifth anniversary of Blogalicious. Why? First, I adore the theme which is “Create. Build. Fund.” Second, Stacey “Justice Fergie” Ferguson, Blogalicious co-founder and chief curator, and her Blogalicious team (Jazzy Jones, Xina Eiland, Thien-Kim Lam, Jana Pauldin, Terence Gaines, and Joe Ferguson) know how to plan and host signature conferences and events that leave me with an abundance of information, inspiration, and Instagram moments filled with deep connection and friendship that remain etched on my heart for years.

Photo Credit: Blogalicious
Photo Credit: Blogalicious

Third, I’ll be providing short one-on-one creativity coaching sessions to conference attendees that will help them begin the process of:

  • Identifying, understanding, and embracing their inner critics, the inner voice that tells them they cannot or don’t have what it takes to create, build, or fund their dreams, ideas, and endeavors.
  • Confronting and overcoming their fears, doubts, and obstacles that prevent them from creating, building, and funding their dreams, ideas, and endeavors.
  • Mapping out their goals and timelines.
  • Developing a strategic plan to accomplish their goals.

Click here to learn more about my creativity coaching practice.


Be sure to check out my Creativity Thursday blogs and Creative Inspiration Pinterest board to see what’s bubbling in my creative world.

For book lovers, my book, That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetic Memoir of Self-Discovery (my original artwork is on the cover and featured throughout the book), gives an inside look at my creative journey through artwork, poetry, and reflections. It’s a great summer read (available on Kindle too)!

Hope to see you at Blogalicious!