Join me in honoring the memory of my grandmother Dorothy by supporting breast cancer awareness campaigns.

Happy Monday! My grandmother Dorothy affectionately known as “Nanan,” was living with breast cancer when she made her life transition on January 8.  Nanan was 95 when she learned she had it and decided not to have any surgery.  She was taking a pill as medication to support her healing process.
My other grandmother Frederica Stanley Roberts Leeke (affectionately known as “Freddie”) lived with breast cancer from 1989 to 1996.  When Freddie died, I made a commitment to use my artwork to honor her breast cancer journey.  At first, I started participating in art exhibits sponsored by George Washington University’s Breast Cancer Center in the late 90s.
In 2001, I connected with Smith Farm Center for Healing and the Arts ( and trained to be an artist-in-residence who works primarily with cancer patients in hospital settings.  My training allowed me to work as an artist-in-residence with many breast cancer patients at Howard University Hospital, Washington Hospital Center, and Holy Cross Hospital from 2003 to 2009.
Three years ago, I decided to teach a free yoga class honoring breast cancer awareness for my Kind and Gentle C-OM-Munity Meetup group ( in D.C.’s Malcolm X-Meridian Hill Park during the month of October.  In 2008, I created the annual Frederica Roberts and Dorothy Gartin Breast Cancer Awareness Yoga Weekend (free classes held in the Park) in October.  This year, I will host a series of online and offline events.  Stay tuned for more information about these events in the fall.
Today, I want to ask all the ladies to take care of themselves by conducting regular monthly breast exams and getting an annual mammogram.  If you are a loved one or friend of a lady, please support her in doing these things.  It would be a real blessing. Click on the links below for more information:
Also, if you have time, send love and light to anyone impacted by breast cancer.  Go one step further and support an online or offline breast cancer campaign or event such as:
Enjoy your day and second week of 2010!
Peace, Creativity, Compassion, Gratitude, and Healthy Living,

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 

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,


Watch video about Ananda’s Pink October Yoga online classes for Breast Cancer Awareness Month


Happy October!

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. For more information, visit the National Breast Cancer Awareness web site:

Click on the video below to learn about my Pink October Yoga free online classes on October 6. 13. 20, and 27 from 8:15 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. You can take the classes online at

On October 24 and 25, I will teach yoga classes from 11:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. The classes are offered as a part of the second annual Frederica Leeke and Dorothy Gartin Breast Cancer Awareness Yoga Weekend. These events honor the breast cancer journey of my grandmothers Frederica Stanley Roberts Leeke (1915-1996) and Dorothy Mae Johnson Gartin (1912-current).

The classes will meet by the waterfall that faces the reflecting pool located at the 16th Street and Florida Avenue, NW entrance. Participants should dress comfortably, refrain from eating and drinking two hours before the class, and bring their own mats. Yoga mats will NOT be provided. If it rains, the class will not be held. Click here for more information:

Enjoy your month!

Peace and Creativity,


Celebrating My Grandmother Dorothy Mae Johnson Gartin’s 97th Birthday with Poetry

nananPhoto of my grandparents Dorothy Mae Johnson Gartin and Robert Warren Gartin, Sr. of Indianapolis, IN


Happy 97th Birthday to my feisty grandmother Dorothy Mae Johnson Gartin affectionately known as “Nanan.”  Nanan is my mother’s mother.  She was born on July 10, 1912 in North Vernon, Indiana to Ione Goins Johnson King and John Johnson. Nanan currently lives in Indianapolis, Indiana.  I wrote a poem about her and featured it in my new book, That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetic Memoir of Self-Discovery (Summer 2009 – iUniverse, Inc.).  See below. Enjoy!

What are your favorite grandmother memories?

Nanan used to make this mad crazy delicious peach cobbler when I visited her in the summers.  Yummy! 

Peace and Creativity,




My Grandmother Dorothy Mae Johnson Gartin (born in 1912)

 Copyright 2009 by Madelyn C. Leeke


She is a woman with a 97 year old history.

Some of which I know.

Other parts remain hidden.

I believe that those parts may remain hidden for eternity. 

They are parts of her soul.

Everyone should savor parts of themselves in silence.
A woman with glazed donut skin and winter white and gray hair.
Nanan is taller than I could ever imagine being.
Her personality is fierce.
Her conversation is sweet and sharp.
She don’t take no shit from anyone and will handle her business and yours too.

She is a woman who walks the earth with many titles.

Domestic worker.
Community volunteer.

My greatest memories of her are wrapped in summertime spent
eating her homemade peach cobbler, golden fried chicken, and potato salad.

Nanan’s soul food left me feeling rich, full, and loved.