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!

That Which Awakens Me Book Release Pty Countdown-Day 2 – Next Chapter Book Blogging Group Wrap Up and Art Every Day Month poem in Ch 4

Greetings All.

Today you get a three in one with the video countdown.  Click on the video below that features my Next Chapter Book Blogging Group wrap up of The Joy Diet by Martha Beck, my final day of Art Every Day Month adventures, and day 2 of the That Which Awakens Me book release party countdown.  Enjoy!

Click here to read more about the Next Chapter Book Blogging Group:

Click here to read about the Art Every Day Month community:

Peace, Creativity, Compassion, and Gratitude,


Ananda’s Adventure w/ Ch. 9/Connection of The Joy Diet & Next Chapter Book Blogging Group

Greetings All,

This week, my Next Chapter Book Blogging Group is reading Chapter 9 of Martha Beck’s The Joy Diet.  Click here to learn more about the Group’s insights on Chapter 9: I am halfway through reading the chapter.  When I think of connection, music comes to mind because it reminds me of my connections with others.  My connections with family and close friends have really been on my mind a lot.  Those connections are rooted in love.  Raheem DeVaughn’s The Love Experience CD has kept me company for the past few weeks.  The title song moves me so much. I play it a lot.  It has even been the soundtrack to my yoga practice too!  WOW what a connection to the music itself!  I have included a YouTube video featuring the song. Enjoy!

Enjoy your weekend!

Peace, Creativity, Compassion, and Connection,


Ananda’s Next Chapter Book Blogging Group Adventure with Laughter from The Joy Diet’s Chapter 8

Greetings All,

As you all know, I have been reading The Joy Diet by Martha Beck with Jamie Ridler’s Next Chapter Book Blogging Group for several weeks. Click here to learn more about the group:   Last week I started reading Chapter 8 which discussed laughter.  I gave myself two weeks to really digest the chapter and deepen my practice of laughter.  The end result was a series of collages about laughter.  Each time I look at them, I giggle.  Maybe that will happen when you look at them too.  See my collages below.

Enjoy your day and weekend!

Peace, Creativity, Compassion, and Laughter,


Ananda’s Weekly Adventure with the Next Chapter Book Blogging Group – PLAY, Chapter 7 of The Joy Diet by Martha Beck

BOLD by Ananda Leeke – Copyright 2009 by Madelyn C. Leeke.

AEDM-Bold, originally uploaded by anandaleeke.

Happy Friday!

My Next Chapter Book Blogging Group is reading Chapter 7 of The Joy Diet by Martha Beck this week. The theme is play. Click here to see what my fellow Next Chapter bloggers are experiencing:  I am still reading the play chapter.  So far I have been exploring what play means in the collages I made for Art Every Day Month (  Art Every Day Month is an annual creative challenge created by Leah Piken Kolidas (held in November like National Novel Writing Month).

Today I discovered that play means being BOLD. Here’s my definition of BOLD.

B stands for BE who you are.

O stands for OWN who you are.

L stands for LOVE who you are.

D stands for DECIDE to do these things every day!

It takes boldness to add PLAY to my daily life because it is so easy to get caught up in my to do lists.

What does play mean to you?

Enjoy your weekend!

Peace and Creativity,


Week 3 of Next Chapter Book Blogging Group – The Joy Diet – Chapter 2 on Truth


Hi All,

Welcome to Week #3 of the Next Chapter Book Blogging Group –  Truth was the subject of Chapter 2 in Martha Beck’s wonderful book, The Joy Diet.  I am still marinating on the practice of truth. Yoga has been a big help.  So has mantra chanting satya (Sanskrit word for truth) and collage making.  I may come back to this post next week and share more reflections.  In the meantime, check out the video I made about my Chapter 2 adventures in the land of truth.

Enjoy your day and weekend! Thanks for stopping by!

Peace and Creativity,


Next Chapter Book Blogging Group – Week 2: The Joy Diet, Chapter 1 – Nothing


Happy Sunday Evening!

So week 2 of The Next Chapter Book Blogging Group is officially over.  The group’s homework was to read and blog about Chapter 1 of The Joy Diet by Martha Beck.  Click here to learn more about the group:  Read about the Group’s Week 2 adventures here:

Chapter 1 deals with nothing.  It’s exactly what I have been thinking about as I wind down with some latin jazz music playing on WPFW.  The music reminds me of time spent in Cuba five years ago. I miss Habana (yes Havana with a b instead of a v!).  While I was there, I spent a lot of time doing nothing in the early morning hours.  Doing nothing consisted of me laying still on my bed and allowing my mind to travel all over the place without any agenda, expectations, resistance, or judgment.  It was complete surrender to the morning chit chatter.  After approximately 15 minutes, the speed of the inner chit chatter slowed down.  It eventually settled down and made room for stillness.  

Yesterday I experienced a similar stillness while attending All Souls Unitarian Church’s annual Autumn Soul-stice Retreat (my 3rd experience!).  The theme of this year’s retreat was “Discovering Soulful Support.”  The first session I attended was entitled “Exploration Through the Narrative Room.”  It was held in the Church’s library filled with comfy chairs and a long board table.  Seven other people kept me company as we listened to two readings and used stem sentence writing exercises to explore our need for soulful support.  I wrote without an agenda and expectations.  The words that showed up in my journal surprised me.  See the excerpt below.

The soulful support I yearn for would allow me to be, do, say, think, and expect no-thing.  Is this possible? Am I just playing with myself on paper? Can it really happen? I’m not at all certain, but I do know I am willing to try.  So I return to the stem sentence and write it out again.  The soulful support I yearn for would be wrapped in my willingness to allow myself to be,  think, do, say and expect no-thing.  This support takes the form of space where I can let go, release, sit with, observe, explore, and understand all the things that pop up inside of me that create expectations, judgments, and time zappers.  The soulful support I yearn for would be more compassion and mitra, a Sanksrit word, that means unconditional friendship for oneself.    

I circled the word mitra and reflected on its meaning.  I wrote my own definition: mitra is my authenticity of imperfection smiling back at me. 

The second workshop focused on sound meditation and the Tao Te Ching. This was a transformative experience for me.  I embraced a passage from the Tao Te Ching as my own:  The Tao does nothing, but leaves nothing undone.  It helped me see that my do no-thing intention to allow the experience to unfold without an agenda and expectations had guided me throughout the day.  I ended up getting so much from the experience.  Click on the video below to hear more about the session’s impact on my spiritual practice.

I am grateful that I had these moments of insight because they will help me as I gear up to launch my new book, That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetic Memoir of Self-Discovery in late October.

Thank you for stopping by.  Have a great week!

Peace and Creativity,


Week 1 – Next Chapter Book Blogging Group – The Joy Diet by Martha Beck







Happy Tuesday!  Happy Autumn!  Happy OneWebDay!  Happy National Yoga Month!

As you can see, I have a lot to be happy about this month.  It is a really sweet September because I am joining the Next Chapter Book Blogging Group (  Our latest reading adventure is with The Joy Diet by Martha Beck.  I love Martha’s column in The O Magazine.  Click here to read Martha’s blog:

The Next Chapter Book Blogging  Group started on September 18.  Click here to learn more about what the Group has been doing since the official start date:

Jamie Downtown

Jamie Ridler

Jamie recently created the Creative Living with Jamie podcast. Click here to listen to the first episode:

2008 TWAM Photo Shoot 1 059

Ananda sitting in Balasana (child’s pose)


I started reading The Joy Dieton September 11.  The first chapter encourages readers to do nothing for 15 minutes.  I call it my do-nothing experience.  So far, I have been doing no-thing in the morning as a pre-meditation session.  I wake up and allow myself 15 minutes to just be.  In this state, I don’t resist the whirling thoughts moving through my brain.  I just let them go where they want to go.  I start my 15 minutes in one of my favorite yoga poses called Balasana (child’s pose) and move into Savasana (corpse pose). 

On September 12, I filmed a webisode about reading The Joy Diet and the Next Chapter Book Blogging Group for my OneWebDay 22 Countdown Campaign sponsored by kg yoga life practices (  See the video above.  OneWebDay was established in 2006 on September 22 honor the presence and power of the Internet in our lives.  Click here for more information:

I’ll be posting another blog post about my adventures for Week 2 later in the week. 

Thank you for stopping by!

Peace, Joy, OneWebDay, Creativity and Yoga OMs,


My Creative Fire Is Burning – Wreck the Journal Week 2 of Next Chapter Book Blogging Group




Happy Friday!

So it’s week 2 in my Wreck the Journal journey (  Yesterday morning I played in my book and finally faced my fear of following the instructions to burn page  4.  Remember page 4 scared me last week.  Even though I was born under the fire sign of Sagittarius and have no problems lighting candles and incense with a lighter, I am still afraid of lighting a match and watching paper burn. 

First let me say that Jenn Lee was my inspiration.  Jenn’s video blog ( last week really hit home.  The image of her burning the page stayed with me all week. So here’s what went down in the wee hours of my chakra castle ( Yes indeedie sweetie, I have all of the chakra colors represented on the various walls of my apartment. 7 bold colors.  Red, royal blue, light blue, orange, yellow, pink, and purple.  Sounds wild, right? 

My morning began a wee bit early. 6 a.m.  I must admit that my Wednesday afternoon acupuncture session really relaxed me and sent me to sleep early.   Getting acupuncture on a monthly basis for the past four years has been such a healing experience for me and my body.  After I did a series of yin yoga poses in bed, I walked into my sunny yellow kitchen and got the urge to light some Nam Champs incense and smudge myself with sage. 

When I finished smudging myself, I decided to smudge my entire chakra castle.   As I walked around, I chanted one of my favorite Tibetan Buddhist mantras: Om Mani Padme Hum (  I lit another stick of incense and a yellow candle when I returned to the kitchen.  I placed the yellow candle on my Buddha altar sitting in my red window.  My eyes closed as I stood in the mountain yoga pose.  The morning echo of birds lulled me into a place of stillness.  After a few minutes, my inner voice (you know Ms. Intuition … She is my Ananda archetype … a spiritual woman – click here to see a photo: instructed me to get my Wreck the Journal.  So I walked back into my pink and purple bedroom and picked up the journal.  My inner voice invited me to turn to page 4. I stared at the page and smiled.  My hands gently grabbed the lighter and flicked a flame onto the page.  I watched in sheer delight.  A few seconds later I noticed the flame had left  its own footprint of sorts.  It looked like someone had taken a bite out of the page.  That was really cool! 

So later in the day I found myself thinking about my newfound courage born out of creative fire: How could I use it in my life?  The answer came early this morning when I realized that I could use the creative fire to overcome my current fear of delaying the publication of my new book, That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetic Memoir of Self-Discovery with a request to have the font of the text changed (the current manuscript that I received from the publisher this week doesn’t look right….it makes my words look messy).  I didn’t want to face this fear because it means more WORK and summer is a time for play, right?  Well, I am working to transform my concept of WORK.  I decided to say that I am PLAYING with my creative fire to make sure others can play with it when it finally comes out in my new book at the end of the summer. 

My other favorite exercises from Wreck the Journal were:

  • page 26 – tearing the strips up
  • page 36 – chewing on the paper
  • page ? – crumbling the paper
  • page ? – making a paper cup and drinking water

Confession time.  I still haven’t made it around to most of my Wreck the Journal sistaloves’ blogs.  The one thing that I am looking forward to is visiting everyone’s pages this weekend.  Me and my creative fire are gonna have some good times with our online visits.

Thanks for stopping by!

Enjoy your weekend!

Peace and Creativity,