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.

My Creative Process: Art Making and Memoir Book Writing

Ananda writing at Smith Center for Healing and the Arts

I am in the middle of writing my second memoir, Digital Sisterhood: Fierce Living Online for 25 Years.  It’s my third book in five years!

My creative process is magical, messy, and SLOW right now.  I am struggling with the fear of writing a new book and wondering how it will be received.  I have turned to my artwork for comfort.

My creative soul has found sanctuary in Collagetry.  Collage + Poetry = Collagetry.  It is a technique I developed while working as an artist-in-residence for Smith Center for Healing and the Arts at Howard University Hospital.

Ananda's art supplies
Ananda's art supplies
Ananda's art supplies

A few weeks ago I created several Collagetrys (my made up word) for patients I was working with at The Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.  I took photos of the collages because they spoke to my writing fears and life as an artist.  See below.

Collagetry

This Memoir Collagetry reminded me to own my story and voice in my writing process.  It also reminded me of the collages I made during my first memoir writing process and the energy and inspiration I received after creating them.  So I made a mental note to make more time in my writing process for collage.

Healing Artist Collagetry

The message of this Healing Artist Collagetry really touched me: Self-expression.  This is you. This is now. Healing artist. Your heart. Watercolor landscape.  It offered me permission to use my healing artwork as a path back to my  memoir writing.

Six-word memoir Collagetry

I adore six-word memoirs and have used them in my work as an artist-in-residence.  This six-word memoir’s message states: The Creative Kingdom. Healing Ways Soothe.  It led me to do a Google search for blogs written by collage artists who use words in their work.  My search introduced me to artist/blogger Kelly Rae Roberts and her book, Taking Flight: Inspiration And Techniques To Give Your Creative Spirit Wings

Taking Flight: Inspiration And Techniques To Give Your Creative Spirit Wings by Kelly Rae Roberts - photo credit: Amazon.com

After reading the book’s description on Amazon.com, I ordered a copy.  I started reading the book and have enjoyed the journaling exercises which are forcing me to confront my writing fears.  One of my fears is running out of inspiration.  So I have turned to Pinterest. I created two inspiration boards for my art and writing.  I use them on a regular basis to stay energized.  Check out the links below.

I also started listening to TED Talks about writing and creativity.  Two of my favorites include author Elizabeth Gilbert’s talk on a new way to think about creativity and novelist Amy Tan’s talk on where does creativity live.

Photo Credit: Poets and Writers, February 2012

I returned to reading Poets & Writers on a regular basis.  The February issue focused on inspiration. I have been rereading Frank Bures’ article about creating inner space for inspiration.  It reminds me to UNPLUG from technology, my to do list, my writing deadlines, etc.  Unplugging creates more time to relax and recharge.  When I do it, I am able to surrender.  SURRENDER is the key that unlocks the door to my creative process.  So wish me luck as I practice the art of surrender from now until the fall season, make Collegetrys to overcome my writing struggles, and complete my  fabulous Digital Sisterhood book!

Ananda’s #BlissDom12 Conference Pinterest Treats for BlissDom Attendees: Fierce Living From Your Creative Heart

Ananda's 2012 Creative Heart Mantra Statement

The #BlissDom12 Conference is two days away.  I AM SO EXCITED!!! It’s my first BlissDom experience!  I am gonna have big fun meeting new people, seeing old blogging friends, networking with brands, hanging out at the great events, listening to the keynote speakers, and learning a lot about video and photography from some amazing speakers.  I am also facilitating a workshop session on “Fierce Living from Your Creative Heart” on February 24 from 2:30 pm to 4:00 pm.

Happy to be going to BLISSDOM
In preparation for the session, I created a Pinterest board with 40 different pins that include photos, images, videos, and links to creative inspiration and information that I hope will encourage my workshop attendees to open their hearts and embrace fierce living.  Each pin includes a question that invites reflection and comments.  To learn more about what’s on my #BlissDom12 Fierce Living from Your Creative Heart Pinterest Board, click here to listen to my Cinchcast audio blog.  Feel free to check out my board and leave a comment.  If you are unable to attend my session and/or #BlissDom12, you can still use my Pinterest board as a source of inspiration in your creative life Enjoy!
Love's Troubadours by Ananda Leeke

PS: I will be signing copies of my novel, Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One on February 25 at 11:00 am at the Barnes & Nobles booth at BlissDom. If you are in Nashville, drop by.  Click here to purchase the book on Amazon.com.

Happy August! Check out my upcoming events.

Happy August All!

I am celebrating all of the creative women who inspire me this month. Many of these fabulous and fierce ladies will be featured during my August events. See the schedule below.  I hope you can join me online and offline.

Who are the creative women that inspire you?  Celebrate them this month.  Call or email them. Make time to see them in person. Tell your network about them. Sing their praises on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media sites. Support their creative efforts.

Ananda’s August Events:

1) August 15 @ 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm EST, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW, Room 307 (Washingtoniana Division’s Program Room), Washington, DC (Please register for the event: http://sisterhoodtheblogaugustfocusgroup.eventbrite.com)

Join Ananda for Sisterhood the Blog’s focus group on how creative women use the web and social media to express, share, market, and sell their creativity and/or creative services. Come share your thoughts, insights, and lessons learned. Guest panelists include (more names will be added shortly):

Feel free to use the Twitter hashtag #STB10 to chat about the event and panelists.

If you are planning to participate, please complete an online survey about women and social media and release statement. The release statement gives Ananda permission to use information shared during the event as research for her book project Sisterhood, the Blog: Soundbytes from the 21st Century Women’s Online Revolution (December 2011).

2)August 16 @ 9:00 pm – 10:00 pm EST, Online Conference Call – To access the call, dial (424) 203-8400 and enter Participant Access Code 943041#.

Ananda is hosting a fabulous conversation on how creative women use the web and social media to express, share, market, and sell their creativity.  Guest panelists include:

Feel free to use the Twitter hashtag #STB10 to chat about the event and panelists.

If you are planning to participate, please complete an online survey about women and social media and release statement. The release statement gives Ananda permission to use information shared during the event as research for her book project Sisterhood, the Blog: Soundbytes from the 21st Century Women’s Online Revolution (December 2011).

3) August 17 @ 9:30 pm EST, BlogTalkRadio – http://www.blogtalkradio.com/anandaleeke/2010/08/18/blogatique-with-ananda-leeke

Tune into the launch of Ananda’s new BlogTalkRadio radio show Blogatique with Ananda Leeke. People. Passions. Politics.  The first episode features creative woman extraordinaire Toni Blackman.  Blackman is an artist, cultural ambassador, and social entrepreneur, based in Brooklyn, New York. Toni is the author of Inner-Course: A Plea for Real Love.  She is also the founder and director of Freestyle Union, a cipher workshop that uses free styling as a tool to encourage social responsibility. Her “I Rhyme Like A Girl” series is a Freestyle Union initiative. In addition, she is a former Echoing Green Fellow and fellow with the Open Society Institute. Visit Toni’s blog to learn more about her creative endeavors: http://toniblackman.wordpress.com. Follow her on Twitter: http://twitter.com/toniblackman.

4) August 18 @ 8:00 pm – 8:30 pm, MomTV – http://www.momtv.com/kg-yoga

Watch Ananda’s kg yoga life practices class on Mom TV on 8:00 pm EST.  The theme is celebrating Shakti, the creative feminine energy.

5) August 24 @ 9:30 pm, BlogTalkRadio – http://www.blogtalkradio.com/anandaleeke/2010/08/25/blogatique-with-ananda-leeke-people-passions-polit

Blogatique with Ananda Leeke. People. Passions. Politics. features Orlando W. Darden, Jr., owner of BodyFitDC (http://bodyfitdc.com) on the second episode of its first season. Darden is a Washington, DC-based certified personal and group fitness trainer,and running coach. He will discuss his life reinvention journey from a seasoned finance professional with 20+ years of experience and a MBA from New York University to a fitness entrepreneur who is passionate about helping people to become more fit and healthy,and improve their overall well-being. Follow Darden’s BodyFitDC on Twitter: http://twitter.com/bodyfitdc.

6) August 26 @ 9:00 pm, Sisterhood the Blog Radio, http://www.talkshoe.com/tc/42015

Tune in as Ananda continues the creative women and social media discussion with the following creative ladies:

Please register for the show: http://www.eventbrite.com/event/794878503.  This radio show is a follow up to an offline event held on August 15 in DC and conference call on August 16.

Feel free to use the Twitter hashtag #STB10 to chat about the event and panelists.

If you miss the live show on August 26, don’t fret. You will be able to listen to the audio posted on Sisterhood the Blog Radio’s web site: http://www.talkshoe.com/tc/42015.

If you are planning to participate, please complete an online survey about women and social media and release statement. The release statement gives Ananda permission to use information shared during the event as research for her book project Sisterhood, the Blog: Soundbytes from the 21st Century Women’s Online Revolution (December 2011).

7) August30 @ 9:00 pm, Sisterhood the Blog Radio, http://www.talkshoe.com/tc/42015

Listen to Ananda’s second discussion about  creative women and social media with the following creative ladies:

Please register for the show: http://www.eventbrite.com/event/814373814.

This radio show is a follow up to an offline event held on August 15 in DC and conference call on August 16.

Feel free to use the Twitter hashtag #STB10 to chat about the event and panelists.

If you miss the live show on August 30, don’t fret. You will be able to listen to the audio posted on Sisterhood the Blog Radio’s web site: http://www.talkshoe.com/tc/42015.

If you are planning to participate, please complete an online survey about women and social media and release statement. The release statement gives Ananda permission to use information shared during the event as research for her book project Sisterhood, the Blog: Soundbytes from the 21st Century Women’s Online Revolution (December 2011).

8) August 31 @ 9:30 pm, BlogTalkRadio – http://www.blogtalkradio.com/anandaleeke/2010/09/01/blogatique-with-ananda-leeke-shayne-lee-author-of-

Blogatique with Ananda Leeke: People. Passions. Politics. features Shayne Lee, author, sociologist, and Tulane University professor on the third episode of its first season. Lee will discuss his new book Erotic Revolutionaries: Black Women, Sexuality, and Popular Culture.

Happy July! Check out my July events

Happy July!

Below is a list of my July events.  Join me for some incredibly fun adventures online and offline! Enjoy your month!

1) Tune into Sisterhood the Blog Radio’s Women in Social Media series for Ananda’s interviews with digital divas. See schedule below.

-July 5 @9pm EST – Women who attended Blogging While Brown conference on June 18 and 19 in DC
-July 6 @8pm EST – Najeema Thompson
-July 8 @8pm EST – Amanda Jones
-July 12 @8pm EST – Shon Bacon
-July 20 @8pm EST – Michele McGraw
-July 26 @8pm EST – Devra Renner
-July 29 @8pm EST – April Davis

Click here to join the conversation: http://www.talkshoe.com/tc/42015.

2) Spend an afternoon with Ananda at a book reading for her new book That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetic Memoir of Self-Discovery on July 10 from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm at Flow Yoga Center (Shakti Studio Room), 1450 P Street, NW, Washington, DC (located several blocks from Dupont Circle subway station). Click on the link to register for the event at Flow Yoga Center: http://clients.mindbodyonline.com/ws.asp?studioid=736&stype;=-8&sView;=week&sTrn;=100000122.

3) Join Ananda for kind and gentle yoga in Malcolm X-Meridian Hill Park in DC on July 11 from 9:00 am to 9:30 am. Click on link for more details:  http://yoga.meetup.com/584.

4) Watch Ananda’s kg yoga life practices class on Mom TV on July 21 at 8:00 pm EST. Click on the link to watch the show: http://www.momtv.com/kgyogalife.html.

5) Listen to Ananda host Sisterhood the Blog Radio’s July 31st episode at 1:00 pm EST featuring a discussion with Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. members about their use of social media during Boule 2010 (national convention) held from July 14 to July 22 in Palm Springs, California.  FYI – Ananda is a member of Sigma!  The show will also include a discussion on how Ananda’s Sigma sorority sisters use social media in their businesses. www.talkshoe.com/tc/42015.

Ananda’s April Creative Adventure: Soul Collage Workshop at Smith Farm Center for Healing and the Arts

Happy Friday!

Last week I scheduled a creative adventure with myself and attended the “SoulCollage Studio” workshop with Barbara Black at Smith Farm Center for Healing and the Arts.  Before I arrived at the workshop, my inner critic archetype Broomhilda tried to disturb my creative flow by ranting and raving about me being 45 minutes late.  Instead of dismissing Broomhilda’s rant, I allowed her to speak her mind.  Why you might ask? Because she represents one of my chosen 8 archetypes who serve as windows of self-discovery.

Ananda's Inner Critic Archetype - Broomhilda

Do you know what archetypes are?  The word archetype is a term coined by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung.  It refers to the various personalities that live inside of individuals. In my opinion, archetypes invite me to explore, embrace, and accept myself. They bring me closer to myself in ways that allow all of my personalities to serve my highest and greatest good. That’s why I have to take the time to identify, nurture, and welcome them into my life.  Make them feel comfortable. Treat them as team players who use their strengths and share their gifts with one goal in mind: healthy living.  I promise them I will listen to what they have to say. I reassure them I won’t pick favorites or judge their commentary, creativity, communication style, criticism, and concerns. I try to honor their presence with gratitude daily.  I do my best to accept and bless who they are because without my chosen eight I would be lost.

Okay so back to my visit from Broomhilda … my inner critic archetype.  As I walked down U Street to Smith Farm’s offices, I asked Broomhilda why she was upset.  She confessed she was worried I was wasting the $12.50 I paid for the workshop.  She was also worried I would not get what I needed to receive from the workshop. When I listened to Broomhilda’s concerns, I noted that she was trying to make sure I my workshop needs were met in her own unique way (minus her rants).

Once I arrived at Smith Farm’s offices, I promised Broomhilda that I would be fully present in the workshop so my needs would be met. She seemed happy and drifted into the background of the evening.  Here’s the lesson I learned about my inner critic Broomhilda: when I listen to her without judgment or resistance, I demonstrate that I am present and aware of her concerns.  I don’t have to agree with her or take action. I just have to be present and aware.  My gift of presence affirms that she is being heard.  It also creates space in my spirit, mind, body, and heart  to embrace my full self — all eight parts of me.

Barbara Black’s “SoulCollage Studio” workshop was exactly what I needed last week.   SoulCollage is an intuitive collage  process created by Seena Frost, a psychotherapist and spiritual counselor.  During the collage-making process, you create your own cards that mirror a unique and different aspect of your soul and self.  It is the perfect creative adventure for an artist like myself … I love collages and archetypes!

Before I started making my SoulCollages, Barbara guided me through a series of exercises based on ‘The Guest House,” one of my favorite poems by Sufi poet  Rumi. See below.

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

(From The Essential Rumi, versions by Coleman Barks)

I also read the quotes below.

  • “I am large. I contain multitudes.” Walt Whitman
  • “One must separate out the parts of something before these parts can come back together in a new and truly whole and precious way.” C.G. Jung
  • “When the soul wants to experience something, she throws an image of the experience before her and enters into her own image.” Meister Eckhar

I also journaled about my personal qualities, traits, patterns, behaviors, fears, and favorite activities, past times, passions, and pursuits. My journaling opened me up to writing about my inner voices (another phrase for my chosen eight archetypes).  When I completed my journaling, Barbara instructed  me to put my writings away and sit in silence for a few moments.   After those moments passed, Barbara invited me to join the workshop class in creating SoulCollage cards in silence.

Being able to sit in silence with my fellow workshop participants was a special treat.  The silence allowed me to tap into my soul’s intuition.  Check out what I created below. After the collages were made, Barbara facilitated a guided meditation that asked us to discover who the card was in our lives. We were given an opportunity to share one-on-one.  That was a very powerful experience to have someone listen and write down what I thought.  As a result, I developed six-word memoirs to describe each collage. They are included below.

SoulCollage#1

Six-Word Memoir for SoulCollage#1 – Joy. Travel. India. Books. Heels. Dresses.

SoulCollage #2

Six-Word Memoir for SoulCollage #2: Sparkle. Magic. Goodness of My Life.

SoulCollage#3

Six-Word Memoir for SoulCollage #3 – – Touch Earth. Relaxation. Yoga. Meditation. Sangha.

SoulCollage #4

Six-Word Memoir for SoulCollage #4 – Smart for Two. Partners. Friends. Lovers.

Have you had a creative adventure this month?

What was it?

Have you made any collages or written any six-word memoirs? Please share them in the comment section.

Enjoy your weekend!

Listen to Ananda read a poem that celebrates creative women who inspire her.

Happy Monday!

This morning I went walking in my neighborhood.  During my walk, I thought about creative women who inspire me.  So I recorded an audio blog when I returned home that includes my poem “21 Drops of Inspiration in My Creative Bucket.”  It celebrates creative women such as Toni Blackman, Tanekeya Word, Sonya Clark, Jade Andwele, and Amber Robles-Gordon.  The poem is featured in my new book That Which Awakens Me (available on Amazon.com). Click on the Cinchcast below to hear the poem. Enjoy!

Many blessings,

Peace, Creativity, Compassion, and Gratitude for creative women who inspire me,

Ananda

Eve Ensler’s Embrace Your Inner Girl Lecture – Creative Inspiration for My New Book Sisterhood, the Blog: Soundbytes from the 21st Century Women’s Online Revolution

Greetings All,

Today I spent time working on my new book Sisterhood, the Blog: Soundbytes from the 21st Century Women’s Online Revolution.  My creative inspiration to dig deep into my creative process came from social media: a YouTube video.  It featured author, artist, and activist Eve Ensler’s passionate talk about embracing the inner girl and how powerful it is for women and men to tap into this female strength (compassion, vulnerability, intuition, empathy, creativity, emotion, and so much more).  That’s why I love the Internet.  It gives us so many soundbytes from the lives of women.  That’s the 21st century women’s online revolution! 

Eve’s talk engulfed my entire being.  It was exactly what I needed. As a result, I began creating six-word memoirs for chapter titles and 20 pieces of artwork that can be used in my book.  Check out the video of Eve’s talk below (20 minutes). Let me know what you think.

Enjoy your weekend and February!

Peace, Creativity, Compassion, Intuition, Empathy, Emotion, and Gratitude for My Inner Girl,

Ananda

Celebrate February with Ananda and her online yoga classes, author chats, and creative coaching sessions.

Happy Early February!

February is one of my favorite months. I am celebrating February by offering online yoga classes, author chats, and creative coaching sessions.  See my schedule of online events below. I hope you can join me.  Please share them with your network.

If you like or learn anything from these online events, please consider making a donation to support Doctors Without Borders’ work to improve the lives of Haitians impacted by the January 12th earthquake.  Click here to learn more and make a donation: www.doctorswithoutborders.org.  

1) YOGA FOR WOMEN’S HEART HEALTH AND PEOPLE OF HAITI ON STICKAM.COM

I will be teaching a series of online yoga classes on February 5, 12, 19, and 26 to honor women’s heart health month and the people of Haiti on Stickam.com:  www.stickam.com/anandaleeke.  Each class will be held from 7:00 a.m. to 7:15 a.m. EST.  

If you miss the classes, you can watch the videos. They are all free! Click here to watch them: http://stickam.com/anandaleeke.

Click here to learn more about women’s heart health month and the Heart Truth campaign: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/educational/hearttruth.

2) AUTHOR CHATS ON BLOGTALKRADIO

I am hosting three author chats on The Ananda Leeke Show, my new BlogTalkRadio program, on February 8, 15, and 22 from 7:00 a.m. to 7:15 a.m.  EST: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/anandaleeke.  During the author chats, I will read excerpts from my debut novel Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One and share reflections that answer the question of the day.  See the list of questions of the day below.   

1) Who are love’s troubadours? – February 8

2) What does love look like in my main character Karma Francois’ life? – February 15

3) What is love mentalism? – February 22

3) CREATIVITY COACHING SESSIONS ON USTREAM.TV

Join me for two creative coaching sessions on Ananda Leeke Live!, my UStream.tv show, on February 11 and 25 from 9:00 p.m. to 9:15 p.m. EST.  Click here to watch the show: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/ananda-leeke-live.  Don’t worry if you miss the live recording. A recording will be archived on the web site.

My online coaching sessions will utilize creativity exercises included in my new book That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetic Memoir of Self-Discovery.  See the list of topics below.

a. How to use six-word memoirs to identify the many parts of yourself – February 11 

b. What does creativity look like in your life? – February 25

Enjoy February!

Peace, Creativity, Compassion, and Gratitude for Love,

Ananda