Artist’s Way 3: Week 2

Artist’s Way 3: Week 2
My view during my run/Artist Date.

My view during my run/Artist Date.

Week 2 focuses on recovering a sense of identity. My girl Julia goes all the way IN with this chapter. Here’s an excerpt where she talks about having “crazymakers” in your life, essentially the folks who always manage to suck away all of your energy creative and otherwise:

Crazymakers discount your reality. No matter how important your deadline or how critical your work trajectory at the moment, crazy makers will violate your needs. They may act as though they hear your boundaries and will respect them, but in practice act is the operative word. Crazymakers are the people who call you at midnight or 6:00 am saying, “I know you asked me not to call you at this time, but…”

Yes, Julia, yes! I most certainly had a crazymaker in my life a while ago and I’m so glad I let that go. Good riddance to drama. But here is my absolute favorite quote from this week:

The quality of life is always in proportion, always to the capacity for delight. The capacity for delight is the gift of paying attention.

She’s basically saying that even when life seems to be piling on every possible miserable thing, focus on the good stuff. Appreciate the little things. FIND THOSE LITTLE THINGS.

For this week’s Artist Date, I went for a walk/run along the Hudson River and it was great. Just a bit before sunset and it was a beautiful night–70 something degrees. Just me, the sun, the river and my music. It was an Outkast mix by the way. Got in some good people-watching of course and got to notice nature showing all the way out with different little creations along the path.  Good week!




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Posted by on April 14, 2014 in Creativity


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Three Things I Learned at the National Black Writers Conference

Three Things I Learned at the National Black Writers Conference


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A couple weeks ago, I wen to the The 12th Annual National Black Writers Conference at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn.  The plan was to cover it for work and also use it as that week’s Artist Date. Weeeeeell, I did use it as an Artist Date, but the coverage thing didn’t happen. Le sigh. As a freelancer, sometimes that happens. Does not happen to me often, but it happens. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts about it anyway here on my little blog.

The conference was a whole weekend packed with book signings, panels, after parties,  spoken word events, workshops and film screenings. This Harlem girl was all the way UP in BK tough that weekend. Of course I didn’t get to everything. Folks like Asha Bandale, Marc Lamont Hill, Walter Mosley, Tananarive Due and Leonard Pitts Jr were among the people speaking there and it was just impossible to go to every event.  But I did make it to a few different things on each day and here are three new things I learned from my time at the conference.

Gordon Parks Directed a 12 Years a Slave movie for PBS 30 Years Ago
Steve McQueen’s critically acclaimed, Academy Award winning film is technically a remake of a made-for-tv movie that was released on PBS in 1984.  Directed by legendary photographer and filmmaker Gordon Parks (he also directed1971’s Shaft), the film was called 12 Years a Slave: The Odyssey of Solomon Northup and later released on VHS under the title Half Slave, Half Free. The movie starred Avery Brooks in the title role, Rhetta Green as Jenny (the Patsy character) and John Saxon as slave master Epps.  During the NBWC film series presentation, Parks’s version was shown and a panel discussion followed featuring author and journalist Herb Boyd, African American history professor Barbara Krauthamer, filmmaker Marquis smalls and filmmaker Janay Shabaz, who actually worked on the 1984 production.

The conversation was about the differences between the two films. Both filmmakers took creative liberties with the story, but McQueen’s version was more faithful to the details provided in Northup’s memoir and had a decided focus on the brutality of Northup’s enslavement. By contrast, Parks filled in a lot of the domestic holes in the narrative and focused more so on the everyday interactions and even moments of laughter in Northup’s life before and during those 12 long years. Gordon’s version is available to rent or buy via Amazon’s instant video program.

Founders of the Black Arts Movement and Umbra Movement are Your Uncles
Askia Toure, David Henderson, Ishamel Reed and Steve Cannon were the panelists for a discussion called “Maintaining Cultural Legacies: The Black Arts and Umbra Movements.”  The men, mostly in their 70s were a riot.  The stories these men had of the their 1960s and 70s exploits are the stuff of legend. Fights, threats from Bumpy Johnson, Allen Ginsberg showing up at a house party, guns being drawn during a “truce” between two bickering organizations—these men have stories for days. The poor moderator Tonya Foster tried her best, but was no match for “Let me just say one more thing…” which seemed to precede minimum 10-minute monologues every time it was uttered and it was said numerous times. Though it was a panel discussion in an auditorium, their banter made it feel like the audience was invited to an intimate family dinner.  It was kind like how your uncles might behave at Thanksgiving. They argued with each other, they talked over one another, but ultimately they laughed together and it was a heart warming highlight of the conference.
Faith Ringgold is Michelle Wallace’s Mother
Maybe I’m just late to this information and everyone already knew this, but Michelle Wallace, the author of 1979’s incredible book Black Macho and the Myth of Superwoman is the daughter of artist/quilter/phenomenal woman Faith Ringgold. Did you know that? If so, why didn’t you tell me? That’s a lot of intelligent black woman creativity in one family and I’m here for it.  During a panel discussion called “Race Power and Politics,” Wallace spoke alongside Marc Lamont Hill, Obery Hendricks and Jelani Cobb. During her presentation, she showed slides of her mother’s political work in the 70s and mentioned that she’s working on a book dedicated to her mother. Faith Ringgold was sitting in the front row during the event looking resplendent with a glorious grey ponytail swinging from the side of her head.

So there you have it. New things I learned! Thanks NBWC!


Posted by on April 12, 2014 in Creativity


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Snapping Fingers, Cheap Liquor and Real Laughter

Snapping Fingers, Cheap Liquor and Real Laughter


Oh, this song! “Bad Boy/Having a Party” by Luther Vandross is so many things to me, but the main thing is that it reminds me of good childhood memories. The song, which is off of the 1982 album Forever, for Always, for Love, is a fun track with just a splash of funk that makes you want to nod your head and smile while you make a fool of yourself listening to it on the subway.

I come from a family of smart, funny storytellers who know how to have a good time. The background of this song is a lot of laughter and tomfoolery that is reminiscent of an actual house party, the event at the heart of the track. This takes me back to all those family house parties of my youth. I was far too young to indulge in all the copious amounts of brown liquid in those red cups, but I sure could soak in the scene. Finger snaps, dance moves that were older than me, tales as tall as the Empire State Building and of course lots of laughs.  Real laughter.  Deep, from the diaphragm laughter that reached the eyes, so you knew it was real.

The cigarette smoke would seep into everything in the house and everybody was so damn happy. For those few hours it didn’t matter how much was owed on the rent or mortgage or what happened at work that day or what argument was had that morning. Ain’t no party like a Detroit house party in the 80s, son. Though, I have heard tales of the red light parties in the decade or two preceding that. Pretty epic, I’m told.

But anyway, I love this song because it brings back happy family memories and it has therefore earned a spot on my “Happy” playlist.


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Posted by on April 7, 2014 in Living


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Artist’s Way 3: Week 1

Artist’s Way 3: Week 1




Technically, this will be my fourth time doing the Artist’s Way process, but it’s the third time I’m documenting it on this blog, so we’ll go with three. Follow this (successful) attempt at the Artist’s Way process by searching for the hashtag #AW3. My last attempt was last year and I made it to Week 8 before I quit. I don’t even remember precisely what happened, but I’m sure a bunch of life stuff got in the way and I just ended up tossing the process out of the window. But now I’m back! And I just completed week one! I’ll be here every Monday for the this 12-week process giving a run down of my experience with the process. Heeeeeere we go…

Week 1 is all about recovering a sense of safety as an artist. Sometimes (okay, a lot of times) we do not express creativity because on some level, we are afraid of exposing a vulnerability. Sometimes art is very personal and it stings to have prying eyes and critical thoughts lurking around the most fragile bits of yourself. I’m currently getting back on the book-writing horse, so this is right up my alley.

The  margins of The Artist’s Way are peppered with inspirational quotes and my favorite one from the Week One reading is by Joseph Chilton Pearce.  He said “To live a creative life, we must lose the fear of being wrong.” Just touched my soul. Indeed. It’s scary to not only share your work with others, but to even get to the point of expressing your creativity to yourself. We have so many excuses as to why we “can’t” do creative things that make us happy. No time, no energy, blah, blah, blah.  We do have time. We just have to carve it out. I’ve found that the early morning is the best time for me because it allows me to start my day with purpose and if I left it for the end of the day it would never get done. I would always find something more “important” to do.

For this week’s Artist Date (a weekly solo, creative adventure as described in the book), I went to the kitty cat section of the local pet store and hung out with the felines. Cats are great. I own a 12-year-old cat and cats in those little cages like that have to get creative to keep themselves from utter boredom. It was great to be around all those super duper cutie pies and all of  their stinky awesomeness.

In addition to doing Morning Pages  (three pages of free-write) everyday and an Artist Date every week, I’ll also be doing two to three of the recommended tasks each week. I won’t always go into great detail with those because I want you to pick up the book and do your own stuff and also because some of this process is just for me. I’m sharing the journey because I hope it will inspire others to take the leap and give it shot too, but I don’t feel compelled to share every single part of it. So, suffice to say that I completed three tasks and I’m feeling good about this go-round.

If you are looking to delve a little more deeply into your creative side, I highly recommend that you join me on this journey. Welcome!

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Posted by on April 7, 2014 in Creativity, Writerly Things


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Happy Birthday, Ms. Diana Ross!

Happy Birthday, Ms. Diana Ross!

ross fro


Ms. Ross (aka The Boss) is 70 years old today. This fashion, music and hair icon is a Detroit native and hence, an amazing human being. This lady is brimming with grace, beauty, confidence and of course, fabulous hair. She is my hair role model. Look at her entrance on this old episode of The View:

That hair fluffing, though? Once my afro grows out, I will need about 10 seconds for my hair fluff upon entry to every room. Watch. Anyway, Ms. Ross is phenomenal and has provided the soundtrack for many dance routines in front of the mirror as a child and as an adult. In fact, a cousin, a neighbor and I  put on some old gowns we found and made a ridiculous routine to “Muscles.”  Shout out to the Boss for having all that half-naked eye candy in her video!  “Upside Down” and “I’m Coming Out” are favorites and there are so many classics from her days with the Supremes. Not to mention she is an Oscar nominated actress, she starred in the film version of The Wiz  and she gave us the wardrobe masterpiece that is Mahogany.

Salute to a legend.


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Posted by on March 26, 2014 in Beauty/Fashion, Living


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The Perfect Partner

My Valentine’s Day weekend consisted of binge-watching season two of the Netflix original series “House of Cards.”  Like most other shows we rip from the Brits, HoC is pretty damn good. There’s tons of treachery and down right devilish behavior on the show. Nobody can trust anybody, but there’s one relationship on HoC that is as close to perfect as you can get. Frank and Claire.

Sure they will are not above murder, blackmail and other dastardly deeds, but damn it if they aren’t perfect for each other. Nobody could deal with Frank’s long nights, fiendish plots and occasional “work-related” dalliances like Claire. And who but a morally bereft man like Frank could get over Claire’s extra-marital activities and not flinch at her plans for world domination? On top of that, they always present a united front no matter what issues they might be having.

They are made for each other.

Frank and Claire are a great match not only because they are both ruthless, but because they seem to genuinely  understand each other and nurture each other. When Frank sings to Claire all off-key and she loves it, when Claire gives Frank space precisely when he needs it even though he asks for her presence–those are signs of being a good pairing. They get each other.

I need to see a whole episode devoted to when Frank and Claire met and how their courtship developed. Who showed signs of moral depravity first? How did that person know the other person would take to it? That would be a fascinating episode.

The beginning of the perfect match.

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Posted by on February 17, 2014 in Love, TV


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Mitt: A Love Story

Mitt: A Love Story



I watched the documentary Mitt on Netflix a couple weeks ago and though it didn’t change my opinion of Mitt Romney’s politics or show a previously unknown side to him, it did offer a more intimate glimpse at his family life.

The documentary follows Romney from his unsuccessful 2008 bid to be the Republican presidential nominee to his 2012 loss to Barack Obama in the presidential election. Over the course of those six years, Americans got to know Romney as a wealthy Mormon with a large family, conservative views and a  complicated corporate background. Like any other politician, Romney had his fair share of gaffes and controversies.

Mitt does not shed light on any of Romney’s political stances, there are no in-depth “war room” strategy sessions shown and viewers get no additional insight into the context or reasoning behind Romney’s “47%” comment, perhaps his most infamous campaign flub.

What the documentary does show is how the Romneys interact as a family. As I said earlier, the fact that Romney has a large, close-knit family is not news, but it is heart-warming to see them in action. They are so affectionate! Hugs and kisses all around whenever someone enters or exits, even if that person was in and out in 10 minutes.  We see the family pray together, laugh at a David Sedaris story together and talk to each other candidly, but lovingly about how the Romney’s campaign effects the family.

Some have criticized the documentary because it doesn’t show that nitty gritty political stuff and they argue that the film is nothing more than Romney fluff, propaganda. Mitt is definitely something that humanizes Romney and it is meant to tug at the heart stings. That’s for sure. But I see nothing wrong with that and the love that emanates through out the Romney family (from the little grandbabies  to the sons and in-laws to Mitt and Ann and back) is very real and it’s beautiful to see that in action. They treat each other so well. They verbalize and demonstrate their love in innumerable ways everyday, around the clock.

What a wonderful life to have. Just imagine, no matter what kind of day you’ve had, no matter if you missed the game-winning shot, no matter if your boss yelled at you during a meeting, no matter if you lost an election–you still come home to a beautiful, loving family everyday. A home where you can rest in love, recuperate and be bigger and better for the next day.

The last shot in the film is just beautiful. Romney has just lost the 2012 presidential election, he and his wife Ann say a final goodbye to their Secret Service detail and they walk into their home.  Romney settles into a comfortable chair and looks out of the window. The camera zooms in on his wife who has taken a seat near him. Neither one of them says a word, but the look on his wife’s face speaks volumes. She loves him, she is proud of him and she thinks the world of him. Just beautiful.

And there were many moments in the film that showed Romney’s feelings for his wife are nothing short of pure adoration. They are a loving, affectionate couple.

My biggest takeaway from Mitt is the importance of having a solid “home.” When I say “home,” I don’t necessarily mean the people who live in your actual house.  I live alone, so I don’t have  a spouse or children or a gaggle of grandkids  or even a roommate to greet me at the end of the day. But for me, “home” is that group of rock solid people in your life.

For me, “home” is a combination of select family and friends. These are the people who are genuinely happy when I’m happy and who patiently listen and advise when I’m less than happy. Of course I do the same for them.

Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in your career or the man or woman you like at the moment, but your life has to be bigger than that.  Getting fired or losing out on a promotion or going through a break-up are hard enough and times 100 if you don’t have anything else in your life. If you don’t have a “home” as an anchor, you might end up just drifting along in life or spiraling into despair because you have placed your entire identity into a job, fame, a certain amount of money or a romantic relationship.

Do you have a solid home? Have you always had one or have you had to build or re-build yours?



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Posted by on February 6, 2014 in Love


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