words of wisdom

Words of Wisdom: Ntozake Shange

“Where there is woman, there is magic.” – Ntozake Shange

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The tragic recent passing of playwright and poet Ntozake Shange inspired me to write this post. Shange’s death in October 2018 both surprised and saddened me.  I had no idea that she had been ill for over a decade, after experiencing a series of strokes. I take comfort in knowing that her words are immortal and will continue to touch hearts and minds for time immemorial.

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I became familiar with Shange’s work nearly ten years ago, after seeing the live-action movie “ For Colored Girls”, directed by Tyler Perry. While I wasn’t particularly impressed with the movie (the original work was a stage play and I feel is best experienced through life theater), I fell in love with the words and stories being told by Shange.

The most inspirational part of Shange’s legacy is the insistence upon creating her own identity. From changing her legal name to aiming to craft what she described as a “special aesthetic” for black women, she continued to form her own identity in a world that’s operates upon putting minorities into fixed boxes. Even for her most famous work,  for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf, Shange had to craft new language to describe what she created. She titled her work a choreopoem, which merged music, poetry, prose, dance, and song in an innovating and inspiring way.

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I don’t want to belabor this post with overanalyzing Shange’s incredible literary career and legacy. I’d much prefer that you all learn more about her for yourselves. I’m going to add a couple of links from YouTube for your enjoyment. And, in her memory, take some time today to create something new. Your soul will thank you for it.

 

I’ll talk to you all tomorrow. Take care!

(photos courtesy of QuoteParrot, AZQuotes and TheQuotesIn)

life curation

Let Inspiration Lead You

Happy Saturday, friends! I recently experienced a major positive shift in my energy, and I wanted to share what happened that turned things around a bit. Now, the positive shift doesn’t mean that things are completely perfect; in fact, nothing is truly perfect in my life right now. However, this shift was powerful enough to give me a significant “push” when I wasn’t feeling inspired to do anything at all.

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Letting inspiration guide you is as simple as letting go

Earlier this week, the word “lagniappe” crossed my mind. Lagniappe is a Creole term meaning “a little something extra”. It’s a little gift or token that may be given for anything or nothing. Usually, little shops in New Orleans (though this might also happen in other parts of Louisiana, I’m specifically referring to New Orleans because I’ve been there) will throw in a little extra gift when you purchase something, or even give you a little token just for stopping by and chatting with the staff for a bit.

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A common sight in many shops in New Orleans – masks with all sorts of fancy designs

I hadn’t thought of the word in years but here it was, on my mind. I just figured that meant it was time to plan another trip to New Orleans (which would be fabulous!) and let the thought pass. I went on with my day as normal and didn’t think any more of it.

Two days later, I went online and read some posts in one of my coaching groups. I saw a post from a member that was unclear on what she needed to do to resolve the issue that she was facing. I thought a writing technique that I first read in Write It Down, Make It Happen by Dr. Henriette Anne Klauser. I flipped through the book, located the technique I wanted to describe to her, and posted my response.

After writing the response, I flipped to the back of the book, right before the bibliography. Right there, in the middle of the page, was the word “lagniappe”. For clarity, Dr. Klauser is not Creole nor does she write about life in Louisiana or anything else related to that part of the world. Literally, the word was on the page, like a beacon, telling me that what I needed was sitting on my bookshelf all along.

I’ve been languishing a bit because my dreams need fine tuning. It’s funny: I actually have almost everything that I want. I’ve spent years getting clear on my desires and successfully co-creating everything that I’ve wanted. I’ve traveled to places that I couldn’t imagine that I’d ever see in person. I’m in my dream field: the one that took me NINE years to get into. My family is healthy and happy, and I earn enough to do everything that I want to do (with proper planning, of course). By all accounts, I’m happy with my life and everything is great.

But my daily passion is lacking. I knew that I needed to get clearer about my art career goals as well as a few other “bucket list” items. I didn’t realize how much being “comfortable” and uninspired could negatively affect me, but now I know. So the next few weeks will be all about getting clear and finding my passion again. Now, don’t get me wrong: I love my life and find a lot of joy in it daily. But my drive was gone because I’ve already gotten so many of the things that I wanted.

I mean, what do you do when you got everything you wanted?

It’s simple: you find new dreams. You get some new goals. You find a new passion because that passion is what keeps us going.

So I’m taking some time to get quiet and let inspiration lead me. I think I know where it’s going to take me: there’s a dream that I’ve been tossing around for a bit, but I needed a little extra clarity on how I’d like for it to look in my real life. So I’m going to reread Write It Down, Make It Happen, spend some time just doing what sounds like fun (because having fun is great for setting things in motion), and allowing my new dreams to reveal themselves to me.

Have you all had to “recalibrate” your dreams? I’d love to hear how you did it: feel free to comment below and let me know how you tapped back into your passion after a period of feeling uninspired.

Take care, and enjoy your Saturday!

words of wisdom

Words of Wisdom: Lorraine Hansberry

“Never be afraid to sit a while and think” – Lorraine Hansberry

Talented, intelligent, and gone too soon: Lorraine Hansberry was an award-winning playwright and activist. She, like many other Black American writers during this time, captured the smoldering inner turmoil and external conflict of ambitious Blacks living in pre-Civil Rights America.

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I recently came across a photo of Lorraine while looking up information on another writer and, as always, I was drawn in by her soulful eyes and sweet smile. Behind her wholesome beauty was a gorgeous brain: her writing talents got her critical acclaim and earned her the spot as the youngest playwright to ever have a play produced on Broadway. She is also the youngest winner of the New York Drama Critics Circle Award.

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I really resonate with her thoughts regarding the path of the creative. Embracing her talent meant encountering feelings of loneliness, over-familiarity with the lows of life, but also an undiminishable hope in a more beautiful and brighter future. Her positive view of life inspires me tremendously.

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“I wish to live because life has within it that which is good, that which is beautiful and that which is love” – Lorraine Hansberry

(Photos courtesy of AZQuotes and Pinterest)

words of wisdom

Words of Wisdom: Nikki Giovanni

Happy Friday, friends! Whew, we made it through the week, and it’s almost the end of the fiscal year, so I’m officially DONE with all of my year-end closing tasks. Life is grand!

I figured it was time for another Words of Wisdom post because I’ve been leaning heavily on the wisdom of others as I’ve tried to stay balanced and calm during this stressful period at work. I’ve found myself reading a little poetry to unwind a bit in the evenings.

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[…]I am so hip even my errors are correct[…]

This singular line was one of the things that made me stop and really pay attention when I first read “Ego Tripping (There May Be A Reason Why)” by Nikki Giovanni years ago. And when I came across it again, I remembered just how much I loved her words.

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Giovanni is a poet, activist and educator, and I love her for wearing so many hats with ease. She’s currently a University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech, and she is still vibrant and witty at 75 years of age. She’s published numerous books of her poetry and I personally enjoyed “Quilting the Black Eyed Pea: Poems and Not Quite Poems”, one of her books in my personal collection.

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There’s a lot to say about Giovanni, and too many poems and quotes to count. However, I think the best way to get a sense of her is to read the words she wrote about herself. I loved the bio on her website. Here’s an excerpt that I found amusing, sobering, and inspiring, just like Giovanni herself:

I was asked to  do a biography so this is it.  I am 71 years old.  I highly recommend old age;  it’s fun.  I have been awarded an unprecedented  7 NAACP Image Awards which makes me very very proud.  I have been nominated for a Grammy; been a finalist for  the  National Book Award.  I am very proud to have authored 3 New York Times and Los Angeles Times Best Sellers, highly unusual for a poet.  I am a University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech.  I don’t have a lot of friends but I have good ones.  I have a son and a granddaughter.  My father, mother, sister and middle aunt are all deceased literarily making me go from being the baby in the family to being an elder.  I like to cook, travel and dream.  I’m a writer.  I’m happy.

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I hope you all enjoyed this post! Savor this fantastic Friday, and I’ll talk to you all tomorrow. Take care!

(photos courtesy of AZQuotes, ETB Screenwriting and InstaQuote)

words of wisdom

Words of Wisdom: Toni Morrison

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What would literature be without Toni Morrison? Her poignant stories seamlessly weave the past with the present, the natural with the supernatural, the sacrosanct with the profane. I’ve found myself going back to “Sula” and “The Bluest Eye” to reread certain passages and become once again swept up in Morrison’s moving language.

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Morrison has published 11 novels, and I fully intend to read them all. Every page is full of vivid imagery and powerful dialogue. One doesn’t read Toni Morrison’s books: one becomes part of Morrison’s world.

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There’s a lot to love about Morrison. She wrote “The Bluest Eye” while raising two children post divorce. She published “The Bluest Eye” at the tender age of 39. She had to wake up at 4 AM to do her writing, but she got it done, and her efforts paid off.

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She speaks candidly about the importance of writing and why we must tell our stories. She shares profundities on life and love. And she tempers all of her works with humor, grace and timeless charm.

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I could sing Morrison’s praises forever and it wouldn’t be enough. So let me just say, if you are so inclined, make sure to read one of her books. I suggest you start off with “The Bluest Eye”: after all, it was her first book! Then move on to “Sula” and think about your closest friend: it will make you want to reach out to him/her and hold them close. Read some of her work and just watch your soul grow: it’s inevitable.

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Thanks for stopping by, and enjoy the rest of your day! I’ll chat with you all tomorrow.

(Photos courtesy of Pinterest, TheQuotesIn, QuotesFav, Goalcast, and LegendsQuotes)

 

words of wisdom

Words of Wisdom: Maya Angelou

Happy Sunday, my friends! This Words of Wisdom post is long overdue. Mother Maya Angelou, who I’ve mentioned in this post and in this one, has been a personal inspiration for a very long time. Her life – full of adventures, love and depth – is a story of living to the fullest. I can’t possibly put all of her accomplishments here, but a short list includes a career as a singer, poet, street car driver, activist, and journalist. You can read about her many “lives” here.

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There are literally hundreds of Maya Angelou quotes worth incorporating into your life (remember, she’s a writer: she had a lot to say!) But my favorites are any of the quotes that encourage you to live a good life.

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Maya didn’t have a perfect life: her mother had a difficult time with caring for small children, so she left Maya and her brother with their grandmother. Then, during a visit, Maya’s mother’s boyfriend ended up raping Maya (he later experienced some “street justice” for attacking her).

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Maya was so traumatized by the rape and the subsequent murder of her rapist that she was silent for several years, opting instead to retreat to a world of books. When she finally did decide to speak again, she “had a lot to say”, as she had read every book available in the colored library that she visited.

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She lived through segregation, the Civil Rights movement, rapid global changes, and she absolutely THRIVED through it all. She’s proof that difficulties need not keep us from living our best lives. When we continue to prioritize joy and make sure that we live boldly, we too can thrive even when the outside world is turbulent.

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And can we talk, for just a moment, about how much law of attraction (LOA) factors into her quotes? So many of the concepts that we hear in LOA circles show up in Maya’s words. Reading her quotes is like getting a hold of some kind of LOA textbook!

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I’ve plucked a few of my favorite quotes, but I can’t do justice to Maya within this post. If you find her interesting (and pretty much anyone would find her interesting if they knew just a little about her), I encourage you to read some of her poetry, watch videos of her on YouTube and check out her autobiographies. You won’t be disappointed!

Maya Angelou Quote about Life

 

(photos courtesy of Goalcast, CreativeTalanoa, Fearless Motivation, Quotlr, Imfunny.net, and Quotesten)

life curation

Living Your Best Life: Cultivating Calm, Part 2

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Happy Wednesday, beloveds! In part one of my Cultivating Calm posts, I mentioned how to become more aware of when you are feeling stressed, anxious, or frustrated. Once you identify the patterns and triggers, you can begin to control or manage them. Here are a few tips for controlling and managing triggers that threaten your feeling of calm.

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-Avoid people who stimulate an anxious or agitated feeling. You know who I’m talking about: there are some people who have a nervous energy that’s contagious: they walk into a room and everyone starts feeling “on edge”. I noticed that a lot of inexperienced or insecure supervisors and managers tend to generate this energy. You also notice it from people that treat everything like a crisis or a tragedy, consistently overexaggerating the seriously of thing occurring in their lives.

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-Avoid consuming overstimulating food, beverages or media. I adore chocolate, but I can’t have it late at night because of the caffeine. I feel jittery and agitated when I can’t get to sleep, so I avoid chocolate late at night as well as caffeinated beverages. Likewise, examine your diet and see what stimulants you consume regularly. Then, aim to wean yourself off of those stimulating foods and beverages: overstimulation frequently causes agitation and anxious feelings. It goes without saying that media can also make you feel anxious: sometimes the news makes us feel stressed and frustrated. So employing some selective ignorance can go a long ways in helping you preserve your calm.

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-Clean up your physical surroundings. Disorderly environments can disturb your sense of peace and tranquility. So clean up and enjoy your new, calmer environment.

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-Practice deep breathing and relaxing stretches to help you unwind. Intentionally increasing your oxygen intake can really help with “resetting” your energy and improving your mood (there are studies confirming this, so do your research!). Relaxing stretches help to reduce the tension in tightly contracted muscles.