Introducing The Next Chapter – Happy Book – Blogging Group – My 2010 Winter Creative Women’s Online Community

Greetings All!

If you have been reading my blog, you know how much I adore Jamie Ridler’s Next Chapter book blogging groups.  They are amazing and always keep me uplifted, inspired, and on track with my personal and creative goals.  I write about their powerful impact on my creative journey in my new book That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetic Memoir of Self-Discovery (available on –

This year I joined Jamie’s Next Chapter – Happy Book Blogging Group.  We are reading The Happy Book by Rachel Kempster and Meg Leder.  The group officially began on January 15 and is taking a new approach to book blogging in 2010.  Jamie calls it “The Happy Book Mail-Around.”  104 creative women bloggers signed up to take part in this grand experiment. Click here to learn more:  Jamie divided us into four groups: Bliss, Giggle, Mirth, and Glee.  I am a member of the Giggle group. So is my dear sistalove Jennifer Moore of Pink Heels blog.

Since I am just getting started with The Happy Book journey, I thought I’d share my top four happy moments in January.  See below. 

FYI – I just ordered The Happy Book from  What a happy moment! I’ll be posting weekly updates on my Happy Book journey over the next several weeks.  I invite you to join me in sharing your weekly happy moments in the comment section of my blog.

Enjoy your weekend!

Peace, Creativity, Compassion, and Gratitude for Daily Happy Moments,



Ananda’s Top Four Happy Moments in January

1) Happy Aha Moment

On the morning of January 13, I boarded a plane at BWI Airport to Indianapolis to attend my grandmother Dorothy Mae Johnson Gartin’s funeral.  While on the plane, I read an article in the February issue of O Magazine that included the following quote:

“You’ve just got this glow about you – some combination of wisdom and inner peace, plus a lovely self-awareness.  You’re not sweating the small stuff; you know what feels good, feels right, and you simply don’t muck around with the rest.  You’re not a kid anymore, and we mean that as a high compliment.  There’s a new kind of lightness about you. And your hair has never looked better.”

Reading these words help me see who I have become at 45.  So I tore them out of the magazine and pasted them into my pink 2010 day planner I purchased during my NYC birthday weekend in December.

2) Happy Yoga and Reiki Healing Touch Moment

My cousin Finis gave me a magnificent Christmas gift this year.  It was all about reflexology … The Reflexology Path Kit by Barbara and Kevin Kunz – (Barnes and Nobles sells the kit online). Finis  also gave me a great pair of reflexology socks.  These gifts were exactly what  I needed to take my yoga and Reiki healing touch personal practice and business to the next level.  So far, I have been studying and using the kit’s tools.  It is an exciting learning journey that will bless my body, life, and clients. 

Photo Credit: Photo Stream

3) Happy President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama Moment

This photo was taken right before President Barack Obama gave his State of the Union address on January 27.  I love the affection that he and First Lady Michelle Obama shared.  Priceless moment.  I also loved his tie and Michelle’s dress.   

4) Happy Inner Shopping Goddess Moment

My inner shopping goddess has been prompting me to check out a pair of sassy black patent leather Bandolino boots for several weeks (since Christmas).  On January 28, I answered my inner shopping goddess’ call and popped over to the Bandolino shop in Pentagon City Mall. Guess what I discovered? A fantabulous yes FANTABLOUS blowout sale on those sassy black patent leather boots.  My new best boot gal pals are a pair of size 7 1/2  patent leather boots.  My feet are nice, warm, and fashionable.  I love the boots so much that I named them Joie de Vivre #2 … JDV2 for short. The first Joie de Vivre is my lap top!

Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm’s autobiography Unbought and Unbossed

Greetings All,

Today I listened to NPR’s Tell Me More with journalist Michel Martin and learned that 2010 marks the 40th anniversary of Congresswoman Shirley Anita St. Hill Chisholm’s 1970 autobiography Unbought and Unbossed.

I first learned about Sistalove Shirley when my mother Theresa supported her 1972 presidential campaign.  She was my mother’s shero and later became mine.  Sistalove Shirley ran for Congress and headed to Washington, D.C. in 1968 to represent her Brooklyn community.  In 1972, she became the first woman and African American to run for president of the United States.  She had her own mind and was a true force of nature.  Sistalove Shirley rocked her entire life and always told her truth in her own words.  Her legacy inspires me to do the same.  FYI – I wrote a poem about her in my new book That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetic Memoir of Self-Discovery (available on Amazon –  See below.

During Tell Me More, Martin spoke with one of my favorite filmmakers Shola Lynch, who created the film “Chisholm 72: Unbought and Unbossed,” and Barbara Ransby, a professor of History and African-American Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  Click here to listen to the show (17 minutes):


Chocolate Bar (from That Which Awakens Me’s Chapter Two: Girlhood Memories. Defining Self.Identities. Archetypes.)

Copyright 2009 by Madelyn C. Leeke

My mother flipped through JET as we stood in the line at the grocery store.

I was busy trying to con her in to letting me get a chocolate bar from the candy stand located near the checkout counter.

She paid me no mind.

Persistence was my middle name.

So I continued and eventually got on her last nerve.

She threatened to use her Dr. Scholl’s on me.

I quieted down for fear of her wooden shoe.

That’s when she showed me a picture of this coffee-colored woman with glasses from some place in Brooklyn.

At first glance, the lady looked like a school teacher.

My mother proudly told me that she was Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman to run for President.

I smiled and thought my mother might bend and let me get that chocolate bar, but she wasn’t having it.

Maybe if this lady wins the election I might be able to get a chocolate bar then.

Enjoy your day and week!

Peace, Creativity, Joy, Compassion, and Gratitude for Sistalove Ancestors,


Celebrating Fem 2.0’s New Work/Life in Our Communities Radio Series & Fem 2.0 inspired poem from Ananda’s new book

Happy Monday!

Today Fem 2.0, one of my favorite online groups, launched its Work/Life in Our Communities radio series on in support of its 2010 Wake Up! campaign – .  The series of discussions ends on February 5.  Click here to listen to the show (recordings are available if you miss the live shows): For more information, about Fem 2.0, visit and

Last year I attended Fem 2.0’s conference and was inspired to write a poem. See below. It is included in my new book That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetic Memoir of Self-Discovery (available on – ). That Which Awakens Me also includes a chapter about my reflections on feminism and womanism. Enjoy!

Meta Fuller's Ethiopia

At A Crossroads of Awakening

Copyright 2009 by Madelyn C. Leeke

Inspired by the Fem 2.0 Conference held at George Washington
University on February 2, 2009, and African American artist
Meta Warwick Fuller’s sculpture, Ethiopia (1921)

We are at a crossroads.

It is off ering us a grand opportunity filled with great

One that can bring us into a new day that gracefully unfolds
into a new tomorrow and future.

It is happening everywhere.
Can you see it?

Can you feel it?

Do you want to be a part of it?

Whether we know it or not, we are manifesting the words
of our very own American artist sistalove Meta Vaux Warrick
Fuller: “awakening, gradually unwinding the bandages of [our]
past and looking out on life again, expectant but unafraid.”

The bandages we are unwinding are complex layers of identities
that include our ethnic groups, socioeconomic classes,
educational backgrounds, professions, places of residence,
sexual orientation, religious affiliation, and political beliefs.

Many of us wear an array of t-shirts that mark us as feminists,
womanists, pro-choicers, right to lifers, democrats, republicans,
green party members, socialists, communists, independents,
conservatives, progressives, and middle of the roaders.

Our labels of identity have often created barriers to our
growth, coalition-building, understanding, and affirmation as

Despite the differences, our identities make us who we are.

They give us individual and collective meaning.

They must be valued, understood, respected, and affirmed.

With all that said, I am left with a question:

How do we awaken and unwind the bandages from the barriers
of the past that created exclusion and misunderstanding?

The answers for those of us who are connecting online reveal
themselves a little each day as we interact with social media
tools that have the capacity to expand our quilt of sisterhood.
When we tell and document our stories, seek support and
advice, educate and train, create and share content, advocate
for common causes, launch businesses and nonprofit
organizations, market and sell products and services, express
our creativity, and engage in dialogue on our blogs, Twitter,
Facebook, Myspace, YouTube, and other social networking
and bookmarking sites, we give ourselves the opportunity to
learn more about each other.
Our learning efforts can open the door to ways we can honor,
promote, and practice diversity, tolerance for a difference
of opinion, self-care, compassion, patience, acceptance,
mindfulness, loving kindness, and forgiveness.
It all begins with our choice.

If we choose to do the work of understanding whowe are
and what we believe and want, and seek out common interests
without imposing our own strong wills, agendas, beliefs, and
branding strategies, we can usher in a much-needed paradigm
shift that creates space for our right brain to jump the broom
and marry our left brain so that our power, passion, and
purpose as women are aligned in strategic ways that give birth
to new ways of being, communicating, and working together.

Are we ready to awaken and fully unwind the bandages of our

Are we ready to look out on life again, expectant but unafraid
of manifesting a shared destiny of common interests while
affirming and maintaining our separate identities and causes?

These questions are rhetorical.

We already know the answer.

We are smart, capable, and talented women.

So let’s walk past the crossroads and make what we know a

Won’t you come?

Won’t you come?

Won’t you come?

Celebrate Yoga Day USA by listening to Ananda share a yoga breathing exercise and yoga-inspired poem “Present Moment Awareness” from her new book That Which Awakens Me

Happy Yoga Day USA!

Listen to me celebrate Yoga Day USA ( and with a yoga breathing exercise and yoga-inspired poem “Present Moment Awareness” from my new book That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetic Memoir of Self-Discovery (available on –


Peace and Yoga OMs,


What is your definition of service?

Greetings All,

Today I listened to NPR journalist Michel Martin’s conversation with James Braxton Peterson, assistant professor of English and Africana Studies at Bucknell University, about the meaning of service and its connection to Dr. Martin L. King, Jr.’s legacy of service.  It was aired on Martin’s NPR show, Tell Me More on January 18.  Click here to listen to the conversation (11 minutes):

Michel Martin

Professor James Braxton Peterson

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I was really moved by Professor Peterson’s definition of service:

“Service has got to be not just the action but also a mind state and that’s something that’s got to be sustained over the course of the year, throughout your life. It’s a very, very important act, particularly people of color and people who come from certain circumstances understand that service is what helps folk who are underprivileged to rise above and transcend their own circumstances.”

I totally agree with the idea that service is a mind state.  My mind state of service started when I was growing up in my parents’ home.  They both believed in service to their family, friends, local neighborhood in P.G. County, Maryland, and St. Joseph Catholic Church.

My mother exposed me to the meaning of service through her active membership and participation in Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.  Sigma’s motto is “Greater Service, Greater Progress.”  It became my personal motto when I joined Sigma in 1983.  It also helped me develop my personal plan on how I contribute to my community and the world.

During Martin’s radio show, Professor Peterson also shared the following remarks:

  • “Remember, the idea around service is that it’s grassroots so that if everyone does a little bit, then actually that’s where the movement comes in. So, every small contribution does count. And listen, if you don’t have time contributing a few dollars to particularly service-oriented organization, it’s very, very important.”
  • “Part of community service is being an outstanding, contributing citizen within your community. That’s the first step, that you actually are someone who handles their own economic business, their family business and is responsible as a citizen in the United States.”
  • “So if everyone helps the elderly person to cross the street or if everyone goes into a school and tries to mentor one child even if it’s for one day, that’s going to be very, very powerful. That’s going to be extremely powerful. So, every little bit counts. We’re thinking aggregate here. And we’re thinking and hoping that everyone will rise to the challenge and the responsibility of service in our society.”

WOW! Professor Peterson’s really hit home with me.  They made me go back and read my path of service discussed in my new book, That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetic Memoir of Self-Discovery (available on –  I have included an excerpt below.

Excerpt from Chapter Seven: Service. Vocation. Answering Your Life’s Calling. (one of my favorite six-word memoirs –

Copyright 2009 by Madelyn C. Leeke

The Birth of Service

A thousand thoughts ran through my mind as I tried to trace the birth of service in my life.

Three thoughts cemented themselves into my psyche.

Thought #1 – My parents taught me the more you have, the
more you are called to give through service they provided to
their neighborhood, church community, and membership

Thought #2 – The Catholic Church reinforced this teaching by
promoting charity to others.

Thought #3 – Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority required its
members to perform community service as an extension of its
motto: Greater Service, Greater Progress.

One question followed.

How did these thoughts shape my ideas and commitments to

My journal opened itself and soul searching unfolded onto its

Each page was decorated with one sentence.

I read them out loud and realized they were affi rmations I can
use to create a service creed for guidance and reminders.

I serve because I want to honor my ancestors by leaving Mother
Earth better than I found her.

I serve based on a family legacy that cherishes giving back through

I serve from the center of my spirit which is rooted in sacred
teachings that promote charity, compassion, and contemplative

I serve individuals, communities, and organizations that connect
to my deepest passions: creativity, healing, yoga, meditation, Reiki,
green living, people of color, and women.

I serve because my work contributes to greater service, greater

I serve because giving creates a vacuum for receiving, completes a
cycle of abundance, and says to the universe I claim my oneness
with everyone and everything.

What is your definition of service?

How do you serve in your life?

Enjoy your day and week!

Peace, Creativity, Compassion, and Service,


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,


Celebrate Ananda’s feature in Smith Magazine’s new book and the Six-Word Memoir Movement in January!


Greetings All,

Join me in celebrating the release of Smith Magazine’s new six-word memoir book, It All Changed in an Instant: More Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & Obscure which features one of my six-word memoirs: Go Green BoHo BAP. Urban Debutante.  The book is available on 

As many of you know, I am a HUGE fan of six-word memoirs.  They became an elixir for writing blocks during my memoir writing process.  They were so powerful that I used them to create chapter titles and several poems in my new book, That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetic Memoir of Self-Discovery (2009 – available on  That Which Awakens Me also includes a series of six-word memoir writing exercises in the Creativity Appendices.  I use them with my creativity coaching and yoga clients.    

This month I thought it would be fun to celebrate the six-word memoir movement with a series of blog posts featuring a collection of new and favorite six-word memoirs from That Which Awakens Me. I also want you to share your six-word memoirs in the comment section.  So to get us started, I have posted an excerpt from That Which Awakens Me which explains six-word memoirs below.

Excerpt, Copyright 2009 by Madelyn C. Leeke:  “A six-word memoir is a statement that tells a story about who you are and how you live your life. It expresses your identity, personality, emotions, family connections, personal interests, favorite things, wisdom, life philosophy/motto, beliefs, professions, and/or experiences. The rules that govern the six-word memoir writing process are very relaxed. You only need to use six words! They can come from any language you choose.  Six-word memoirs are revolutionary because they don’t require you to follow English grammar rules. What a relief! You are free to write fragmented sentences, one word descriptions followed by a period or dash, six words that mirror a grocery list, or six words no one can understand or relate to but yourself. Your six-word memoir is your gift to yourself.”

Here’s my six-word memoir for today:  January in Washington offers sunshine chills.

What’s yours?

Also, you may want to post your six-word memoir on Smith Magazine’s web site for fun (that’s how I got started!):

Peace, Creativity, Compassion, Joy, and Gratitude for Six-Word Memoirs,

Ananda … Woman training for a half marathon… (another six-w0rd memoir — watch out they are addictive!)