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#InternetGeek Tuesday: #InternetGeekat50 Lesson 4 B.L.O.G.

Happy #InternetGeek Tuesday!

Speaking at Press Publish - Photo Credit: Christine Holsey
Speaking at Press Publish – Photo Credit: Christine Holsey

#InternetGeekat50 Lesson 4 is B.L.O.G. Last weekend, I attended the WordPress Press Publish Portland Conference. I shared my B.L.O.G. mantra and how I began blogging for personal reasons and evolved into a social media leader for the White House during my “Blogging for Obama” session. Here’s what B.L.O.G. stands for:

B – Be yourself in your blogging process

L – Love the stories you tell on your blog.

O – Open yourself to new ideas and opportunities.

G – Give back.

I have included a more detailed description that I used in my session presentation below.

Photo Credit: Jerry Mahoney
Photo Credit: Jerry Mahoney

B – Be yourself in your blogging process. Give yourself space to manage the fluctuation of your energy, focus, and passion with digital wellness. I define digital wellness as a gift you give yourself to help manage your time online with mindful self-care practices. Mindful self-care practices encourage you to slow down, become aware of how you spend your time online, and identify and take small steps towards having a healthier digital life. Examples include breathing exercises, journaling, massage, meditation, physical movement (walking, running, yoga, and aerobic classes), rest (naps and a good night’s sleep), setting time boundaries, and using time management tools (HootSuite, TweetDeck, and an editorial calendar) to schedule your blog and social media posts (excerpt from my book Digital Sisterhood: A Memoir of Fierce Living Online.

I started blogging as a result of a writing block in my novel-writing process for Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One in 2005. My book editor urged me to blog to create a daily writing practice. Guess what? He was right. It worked because I wrote for myself. I didn’t think about attracting or pleasing an audience. I just wrote to express my thoughts about my book and its characters.
Photo Credit: Marcia Johnston
Photo Credit: Marcia Johnston

My blogging helped me connect with a diverse group of bloggers and social media influencers who discussed topics relevant to my novel and its characters. It also created an audience for my book before it was published. When my book was published, I started telling stories about my writing journey, the lessons I learned during the publishing process, background information about the novel’s characters, book readings, and radio and television interviews. These efforts led me to share stories about my life as an artist and yoga teacher. I ended up creating two different blogs and blog space on numerous online communities and social networking sites. That’s when trouble began. Blogger burnout. In 2008, I was overwhelmed by my self-made digital footprint. Following the advice of my life coach, I took a leave of absence from my blog. Stepping away from the blogging process helped me recharge. I also realized that I was in control of how much I blogged and it was okay to take breaks. So when blogger burnout happened again in 2011, I didn’t hesitate in taking a break. That same year, I decided to institute a monthly unplugging practice that turned into the Digital Sisterhood Unplugged Weekend.

dsn_lll300

yogameL – Love the stories you are telling on your blog. Tap into what you are most passionate about. I tapped into my passion for yoga, creativity, and being an Internet geek as a guide in what I share on my blog. I also maintain three other blogs that reflect my passion for women in social media (Digital Sisterhood Network), digital citizenship, and my DC life and love for all things POTUS, FLOTUS, and the White House. I don’t maintain a regular editorial calendar for these blogs. I post when I feel called to or have a project I am working on that calls for blogging.

O – Open yourself to new ideas and opportunities. I opened myself up to new ideas and opportunities when I started going to blogging conferences and local social media and tech events including Blogging While Brown, BlogHer, Blogalicious, BlissDom, Feminism 2.0, Latinos in Social Media, She’s Geeky DC, Social Justice Camp DC, Social Media Club DC, Social Media Week DC, and DC Digital Capital Week. These experiences helped me establish relationships and build community with a diverse group of people. My connections and interactions exposed me to new ideas and opportunities to express and share my passion for:
jleeke-obamacampaignoffice ananda-obamaphonebank2
My greatest opportunities have occurred as a result of my passion for President Barack Obama. In 2008, I used my digital presence and yoga teaching skills to support his first Presidential campaign. During President Obama’s second campaign in 2012, my father and I volunteered in the Prince George’s County, Maryland campaign office. We also used our blogs and social media platforms to discuss the Obama campaign. After the election, I searched for ways to increase my support and began applying to participate in the White House Social events. Last year, I was selected by the White House to serve as a social media leader for the State of the Union, French Arrival Ceremony for French President Francois Hollande, and the Tumblr Q&A session on education. The U.S. Department of State invited me to serve in a similar capacity during the International Women of Courage Award Ceremony.
French Arrival Ceremony, February 2014 - Photo Credit: Dave McCulloch
French Arrival Ceremony, February 2014 – Photo Credit: Dave McCulloch
International Women of Courage Award Ceremony, February 2014 - Photo Credit: U.S. Department of State
International Women of Courage Award Ceremony, February 2014 – Photo Credit: U.S. Department of State
G – Give back. Use your blogging and social media skills to give back to causes, communities, and organizations you care about. I have used my blogging and social media skills to serve as a technology volunteer for Blogalicious Meetups in 2009-2012, CrisisCampDC and Chilean Earthquake in 2010, Andy Shallal’s DC Mayoral Campaign in 2013-14, and BlogHer’s Veteran Blogger Mentor Program in 2014. I have also given back through the Digital Citizenship Project and Digital Citizenship Month.
Photo Credit: Badge designed by Dariela Cruz
Photo Credit: Badge designed by Dariela Cruz
Many thanks to Automattic WordPress developer and designer Michelle Langston for working with me to redesign AnandaLeeke.com. Like many people, I had an older website in addition to my blog. During her session “A Tale of Two Sites: A Case Study,” Michelle discussed how we worked together to combine my two sites into one that would truly express my personality and meet my online goals. I participated by sharing the web content challenges I faced and how I overcame my fears with her support.
Michelle and me at Press Publish
Michelle and me at Press Publish

TRANSFORMATIVE is the best word to describe my Press Publish experience. I invite you to read my #Storify blogs which feature social media highlights including tweets and photos that I hope will give you an idea as to why the conference was so transformative for me.

Click here to learn more about Press Publish and the upcoming April 18th conference in Phoenix, Arizona. REGISTER NOW so you can have a TRANSFORMATIVE experience too.

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Unique Mother’s Day Gifts That Promote Social Good

Photo Credit: https://authoranandaleeke.wordpress.com/tag/heart-of-haiti/
Photo Credit: https://authoranandaleeke.wordpress.com/tag/heart-of-haiti/

Hi All!

Mother’s Day is almost here. Are you ready? Have you found a unique gift for your mother and/or the women in your life who are mother figures?

This year, I am giving my mother a gift that promotes social good: a handmade picture frame made by a Haitian artisan who creates beautiful work for the Heart of Haiti collection at Macy’s (see photo below).

Heart of Haiti picture frame
Heart of Haiti picture frame

The Heart of Haiti collection features more than 40 home decor items including qulits, metalwork, ceramics, and paintings made my Haitian artisans. The Heart of Haiti is a “Trade, Not Aid”initiative that was launched by artist and social entrepreneur Willa Shalit, The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, and Macy’s after the 2010 earthquake. The initiative provides Haitian artisans with an opportunity to make a living, feed their families, and pay their children’s school fees. To date, the initiative has employed 750 artisans resulting in financial benefits for an estimated 8,000 in Haiti. What a powerful way to give back and do social good!

In 2011, I traveled as a Heart of Haiti blogger ambassador to Haiti and met the artisans who make the metal frames and other home decor items. Seeing them create and talk about their artwork helped me truly understand how powerful “Trade, Not Aid” programs are.  Since then, I have continued my work as a Heart of Haiti blogger ambassador by using my blog and social media presence to raise awareness and celebrate the artistry and regrowth of my Haitian brother and sister artisans.

I encourage you to give back to the Haitian artisans by purchasing a Heart of Haiti gift for your mother and/or the mothering women in your life. Click here to explore the collection on Macy’s web site.  Happy Social Good Shopping!

DISCLAIMER: I am a member of the Everywhere Society and Everywhere provided me with compensation for this post. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own.

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Happy Creativity Thursday – 3/21

Photo Credit: Art Museum of the Americas’ web site
Photo Credit: Art Museum of the Americas’ web site

Happy Creativity Thursday!

During Social Media Week DC in February, I attended the Hispanic Outreach 2013: How to Reach the Highly Mobile and Social Hispanic session hosted by Latinos in Social Media and Bixal at the Art Museum of the Americas (AMA) of the Organization of American States.

LATISM panel during Social Media Week DC session
LATISM panel during Social Media Week DC session

The session featured some of my favorite digital sisters: Julie Diaz Asper of Social Lens Research, Carla Hamilton Briceno of Bixal, and Jennifer Lubrani of LATISM. See photo above.

Museum of the Americas web site
Museum of the Americas web site

After the session, I visited the AMA’s exhibition, On Common Ground: Dominican Republic & Haiti which featured the works of emerging artists of Hispaniola, the island that these two countries share. I fell in love with the artwork at first glance! It reminded me of my 2011 visit to Haiti with the Heart of Haiti Campaign. Check out some of my favorite paintings from the exhibition below.

Painting from On Common Ground:Dominican Republic and Haiti exhibition
Painting from On Common Ground:
Dominican Republic and Haiti exhibition
Painting from On Common Ground:Dominican Republic and Haiti exhibition
Painting from On Common Ground:
Dominican Republic and Haiti exhibition

When you are in Washington, D.C., be sure to visit AMA, 201 18th Street, NW (by DAR Constitution Hall).

Have you been to a museum lately?

Which one?

What did you like most about your museum visit?

Are you planning to go to a museum this month? Let me know which one.

Thanks for stopping by!

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#BlissDom12 Conference Blog Recap Part 5 – My Heart of Haiti Moments

Photo Credit: Everywhere Heart of Haiti photos

Some of my best BlissDom Conference moments were spent supporting and celebrating the Heart of Haiti Campaign, a partnership between Fairwinds Trading, Macy’s, and the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund.  It was created to provide sustainable income to Haitian artisans impacted by the January 2010 earthquake.  Through the partnership, the artisans create artwork that is sold as the Heart of Haiti collection in Macy’s stores.  The sales from these hand-made products including quilts, metalwork, paper måché, painting and jewelry generate the sustainable income and provide trade instead of aid to the Haitian artisans.

Photo Credit: Everywhere Heart of Haiti Photos

As soon as I arrived and settled into my room at the Opryland Hotel on February 23, I tweeted the Everywhere team, Danica Kombol and Britton Edwards, to let them know I was ready to put on my Heart of Haiti Blogger Ambassador hat and support their Heart of Haiti booth in the BlissDom Handmade Marketplace.  When I saw the booth, I was in complete AWE! Why?  Because these ladies know how to make a conference booth attractive and fun to visit.  And it’s not hard when you have the beautiful Heart of Haiti collection to work with.  Danica and Britton gave me a brief update on the new items in the collection and showed me photos from the #Bloggers4Haiti trip to Haiti in January.  Check out the photos below.

Photo Credit: Everywhere Heart of Haiti photos
Photo Credit: Everywhere Heart of Haiti photos
Photo Credit: Everywhere Heart of Haiti photos
Ananda and Danica Kombol - Photo Credit: Everywhere Heart of Haiti Photos
Ananda and Britton Edwards -- Photo Credit: Everywhere Heart of Haiti Photos

While I was at the Heart of Haiti booth, I met and chatted with BlissDom attendees about my experiences as a Blogger Ambassador and February 2011 trip to Haiti.  Many of the attendees told me about their passion for using social media for social good and plans to support the Heart of Haiti.  Those conversations reminded me how important it is to tell people about the Haitian artisans who are using their creative gifts to make their lives and country better.  They also reminded me that I have got to get to Haiti in 2013!

Ananda and Emily FaliLv - Photo Credit: Everywhere Heart of Haiti Photos
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Ananda’s #HeartofHaiti Post – Fast Company Article on Mobile Technology in Haiti After 2010 Earthquake

Photo Credit: FastCompany.com

On Sunday, I was thinking about the Haitian presidential election.  Haiti was on my mind in a major way!  I found a great Fast Company article about the impact of mobile technology on Haitian people’s lives after the earthquake in 2010.  It reminded me of my recent trip to Haiti as a Heart of Haiti blogger ambassador in February.  Click here to listen to my audio blog about what I learned from the article. Enjoy!

 

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Ananda’s #HeartofHaiti Post: Reconnecting with KOFAVIV’s Haitian Young Women

 

Young Haitian women painting picture frames at KOFAVIV in Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Yesterday, the Haitian people went to the polls to elect a new president.  Throughout the day, I wondered about the young Haitian women I met at KOFAVIV, a Haitian women’s organization that serves women and girls who experience violence, during my Heart of Haiti blogger ambassador trip in February.  Before I left, we took a lot of photos together.  I took some time to look at our photos and noted the pride they displayed on their faces as they showed me their beautiful hand-painted picture frames (see photo- omitted the young women’s faces to protect them).  They were works in process that are probably finished by now.  I am hoping the young women will be able to sell them as a part of their work with KOFAVIV’s young women’s microenterprise program (funded by MADRE). Two young ladies asked me to keep in touch with them via email. So I sent them an email in French with the photos.  I hope they respond so we can begin a digital sisterhood connection. I know this email exchange will open the door to ways in which I can expand my support of KOFAVIV in 2011 and beyond.

 

Click here to listen to my audio blog about my email and the KOFAVIV young ladies.

FYI: This morning I also sent the KOFAVIV staff (listed on their Facebook page) an email about the photos so they would be aware of my communication with the young ladies.

 

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Ananda’s #HeartofHaiti Post: Croix-des-Bouquets Metal Artisans & Their Connection to Ogoun, Haitian god of metalwork (videos included)

 

Ananda holding a metal bowl by a metal artisan in Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti

Croix-des-Bouquets is an amazing city bubbling with creativity in Haiti.  Creative genius Wyclef Jean, a Haitian musician, record producer, philanthropist, and former member of the Fugees who ran for president of Haiti in 2010, was born there.

Heart of Haiti metal jewelry created by Croix-des-Bouquets metal artisans
Croix-des-Bouquets metal artisans
Photo Credit: Ogoun's Veve by Catherine Beyer - http://altreligion.about.com/od/symbols/ig/Vodoun-Veves/Ogoun.htm

When I visited Croix-des-Bouquets and met the talented Heart of Haiti metal artisans during my blogger ambassador trip in February, I was reminded of Ogoun, the Haitian Vodun warrior spirit who presides over metal work, fire, hunting, politics, war, and the unemployed. Click here to listen to my audio blog. Check out more photos of the metal artisans’ work here.

Metal artwork featuring Haitian love goddess Erzulie's heart by J. Romy


Ogoun gives strength through prophecy and magic., and is known as the Father of technology and one of the husbands of Erzulie, Haitian goddess of love. Ogoun is also associated with healing and seen as a combat medic, thinker, strategist, and diplomat. His colors red and blue.

Ananda, Croix-des-Bouquets metal artisan J. Romy, and Fairwinds Trading Haiti Country Director Nathalie Tancrede
Ananda standing by metal mixed media sculpture by metal artisan J. Robert Jacques

Did you know many believe Ogoun planted the idea for the Haitian Revolution of 1804 in the minds of the enslaved Africans? Some say that he led and empowered the enslaved Africans to create Haiti as an independent nation. Others believe Ogoun is now called to help the Haitian people obtain a government more responsive to their needs. May Ogoun give the Haitian people the wisdom they need to vote for a new president on March 20!

After the March 20th elections, the people of Haiti will still need our support. One way you can support them is by purchasing the artwork of Heart of Haiti metal artisans at Macy’s. Their beautiful and decorative artwork will make great Easter and Mother’s Day gifts. They also serve as fantastic graduation, wedding, birthday, and Father’s Day gifts. Visit the Heart of Haiti collection on Macys.com.

PS: Here are several videos featuring the metal artisans.


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Ananda is speaking on 3/19 @ WOMANIFESTING IN ACTION in DC and will share lessons learned from Heart of Haiti trip.

Photo Credit: Womanifesting's Logo - http://www.womanifesting.org
Photo Credit: Ananda Leeke - Tracy Chiles McGhee at DC women in social media focus group in October 2010

Have you heard of Womanifesting a/k/a WOMA? WOMA is a DC-based non-profit organization established by attorney Tracy Chiles McGhee to develop and support  programs that foster self-empowerment, sisterhood, and service in the lives of women and girls.  Tracy and I met two years ago during a writers’ workshop and realized we shared similar interests – law, writing, women’s creativity and empowerment, social justice, and service.

Last fall, I invited Tracy to participate in a focus group that discussed how social justice and nonprofit women leaders use social media. She stepped up to the plate and shined her wisdom and insights during the focus group.  She also supported my Digital Sisterhood Network and Kickstarter book fundraising project.  Her commitment and support to women and girls is above and beyond the call of duty. That’s why it was so easy for me to accept her invitation to participate as a panelist for WOMANIFESTING IN ACTION: How Local Women Leaders Make A Difference Through Community Building, Collaboration and Social Activism on March 19 from 2:00 pm to 4:30 pm at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, 901 G St., NW, Room A-5, Washington, DC. During the discussion, I will share some lessons learned from my recent trip to Haiti as a Heart of Haiti blogger ambassador and work with the Digital Sisterhood Network.

Check out the dynamic women who will be speaking at the event below.

Discussion Moderators:

  • Marita Golden, Acclaimed Author, Master Literary Teacher and Co-Founder of the Hurston/Wright Foundation
  • Nikita Mitchell, Gen Y Writer/Blogger,  who was recently named one of the Top 10 Nonprofit Bloggers to Watch in 2011

Keynote Speaker:

  • Yasmine Arrington, a DC high school student who started a college scholarship fund for aspiring college students with incarcerated parents

Program Participants:

  • DC Councilwoman Muriel Bowser
  • Patricia Nalls, Founder & Executive Director, The Women’s Collective, 2010 Washingtonian of the Year
  • Carrie L. Ellis, Director of Project Management, KaBOOM! & Board Chair, Teaching for Change
  • Shannon and Chai, Co-Founders  of Holla Back DC
  • Marielle Mariano, East Coast Coordinator, Chalk4Peace
  • Jessica T. Solomon, Founder, The Saartjie Project & Chief Visionary Officer, Spark Creativity
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Ananda’s #HeartofHaiti Post: Next Haitian President Could Be A Woman – Mirlande Manigat

 

Poster of Haitian Presidential candidate Mirlande Manigat in Jacmel, Haiti


While I was visiting Jacmel, Haiti during my Heart of Haiti blogger trip in February, I saw posters of Rally of Progressive National Democrats’ Presidential candidate Mirlande Manigat, a 70 year old politician, legal scholar, former Senator, Sorbonne-trained academic, mother, grandmother, and wife of former Haitian President Leslie Manigat.  Guess what? In three days, the former First Lady and vice rector of the Université Quisqueya in Port-au-Prince could make Haitian women’s history by becoming the first woman President of Haiti. Click here to learn more about her.

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Ananda’s #HeartofHaiti Post: Sending Haitians Positive Energy on Their March 20th Presidential Election

 

Yesterday I listened to a discussion about former Haitian President Jean-Betrand Aristide’s plans to return to Haiti after a seven-year exile in South Africa on NPR’s Tell Me More. Tell Me More host Michel Martin and Jacqueline Charles, the Caribbean correspondent for the Miami Herald, engaged in a lively discussion about the impact of Aristide’s return on Haiti’s presidential run-off election on March 20. Click here to listen to the show.  Former First Lady Mirlande Manigat and pop singer Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly are the presidential candidates.

Martin and Charles’ discussion reminded me of the many presidential candidate posters I saw on houses and buildings during my recent trip to Haiti as a Heart of Haiti blogger ambassador in February.  Sweet Micky”s posters appeared to dominate Port-au-Prince, Croix-des-Bouqets, and Jacmel. No matter who wins the election, I hope and pray Haiti’s next president will help stabilize, heal, and rebuild Haiti and the lives, families, and businesses of her daughters and sons.