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!

Happy New Year & My 2012 Fierce Living Theme

2012 is all about Fierce Living

Happy New Year!

It’s hard to believe that it’s already day 13 of the new year.  How has 2012 been so far?

I’ve been taking my southern sweet time to arrive in this new year.  It is what I call my “Fierce Living” approach.  I love that phrase!  That’s why I adopted it as my personal life theme and the 2012 theme for the Digital Sisterhood Network.

So what is Fierce Living all about?  I define it as,

“the mindful practice of unplugging, understanding, and unifying who I am online and offline from the inside out so I am able to express myself fully in my healthy living journey, Digital Sisterhood book writing, art, and work as a coach, digital media producer, yoga teacher, and innerpreneur.”

This definition has been a regular topic of discussion in my “Follow My Heart” journal.  My journal entries have explored the various colors, scents, yoga poses, travel adventures, physical exercises, magazines, music, movies, books, beverages, teas, foods, sheroes, jewelry, shoes, boots, and clothing that inspire Fierce Living.

I also created a six-word memoir: Dream. Imagine. Create. Inspire. Express Peace. These words are my 2012 Fierce Living mantras. Click here to listen to a short audio blog about what Fierce Living means to me in 2012.

Pinterest logo

Have you joined the Pinterest revolution of digital vision boards?  I am happy to admit that I did.  I created a Pinterest board with images and statements that remind me to practice Fierce Living in 2012 and beyond.  Click here to check it out.

My journal entries have also explored what Fierce Living looks like in my digital life: the time I spend online, the content I post, the comments I make on social media sites, the email and blog subscriptions I maintain, the words I use to describe myself, the photos I use to represent myself, the blog templates I use to express my thoughts, the businesses I patronize, and the causes I support.  After writing in my journal, my life began to manifest some of my thoughts.

Ananda wearing her Fierce Living orange
My Fierce Living Nine West patent leather wedge books
The Digital DIet, my new Fierce Living book I
Experience Life, one of my Fierce Living magazines
O Magazine, one of my Fierce Living magazines
Poets & Writers, one of my Fierce Living magazines
Yoga Journa, one of my Fierce Living magazines

Ananda is speaking about Fierce Living from Your Creative Heart at Blissdom

So here’s what happened during the first 12 days of the new year.  I unplugged from the web on most days and got a lot of sleep.  I also practiced yoga, meditation, mantra chanting with my mala beads, and Reiki daily.  My MINT Gym membership was used regularly.  I gave the TRX training equipment and bike a serious workout.  The medicine balls and mats were great for all of my planks, sit ups, crunches, boat poses, side planks, and forearm planks.

I went crazy reading my fashion, health, yoga, poetry, and tech magazines at healthy cafes like Sweet Green and Teaism.  I discovered a hot chocolate made with rice milk  at Teaism. Delish!  It protects me from soy and dairy allergies!  Cosi, Starbucks, and Love Cafe were the hot spots for my journal writing.  Love the tomato basil soup at Love Cafe!

Long walks home from the subway in the evening helped me practice mindfulness as I noticed the different changes in my neighborhood.  Thanks to my friend Gustavo, the owner of Habitat Live & Wear on U Street, I started having my own personal dance parties with new music from Spain.  Gustavo gave me two great CDs! Love them!

The January shopping goddess helped me score a pair of Nine West black patent leather wedge boots and a smokey quartz ring from Habitat that I have been stalking since early fall.  What bargains!

By the way, I am deep into the meaning and power of gemstones. My new smokey quartz ring has some powerful energy.  Did you know smokey quartz is nature’s stone of endurance?  It promotes personal pride and joie de vivre (joy in living), creativity in business, and opens the path for perception and learning.  It is also a protection stone that cleanses and clears negative energy. I like that it facilitates your ability to get things done in the practical world and enhances organizational skills in the workplace or home office. I definitely need all of these things as I move into my Fierce Living 2012!

I watched Young & the Restless, PAN AM, The Practice, and Grey’s Anatomy online as I organized my shoe and boot collection with Real Simple organizers, folded clothes, and decluttered my closet.

I took some time to launch my digital streamlining project for my WordPress and Tumblr blogs (still works in process … web sites will be added later this year).  That led me to select new photos for my online presence, edit and repost my bio, and reduce the amount of email I receive.

I even found a few moments to submit two speaking proposals for BlogHer 2012.  That process did not take long.  I used old proposals and added a few new lines.  I call it Fierce Living Recycled.

I also said NO to several opportunities that were exciting, but not appropriate for what I am called to do now.  Guess what?  That saying NO really does allow you to say YES when great things show up.  And that’s what happened when I accepted an amazing speaking opportunity to discuss “Fierce Living from Your Creative Heart” at BLISSDOM 2012 in February.

As a result of this Fierce Living, I received three HUGE blessings.

  • A fresh, open mind that led me to begin writing a chapter of my Digital Sisterhood book (which will be published later this year).
  • A better understanding and practice of boundaries to ensure I have creative time to write, time to play, and time to rest.
  • A renewed sense of joie de vivre (joy in living).

Now that’s Fierce Living for me!  What is Fierce Living to you?

What are your Fierce Living (FL) 2012 colors, scents, foods, yoga poses, clothing, shoes, boots, jewelry, and music?

Orange is my FL color. Pink, purple, red, yellow, blue, and black are second runners up!  Almond oil is my FL scent.  Sweet potatoes and beets are my FL food.  The forward fold and warrior one are my FL yoga pose.  My fuchsia coat from Violet Boutique is my FL clothing.  My black and pink Saucony jogging shoes are my FL shoes. My Nine West black patent leather boots are my FL boots.  My smokey quartz ring is my FL jewelry. Eric Roberson’s Mr Nice Guy CD is my FL music.

Who are your Fierce Living sheroes?

My mother Theresa and Oprah are two of my FL sheroes.

Well, that’s enough FL for a Friday! Enjoy your weekend and 2012!

Yours in Fierce Living,

Ananda