My Love… Rekindled

“Beauty is a subject and justice lies within it.  – Roy DeCarava

DSC_2149

I have been trying to put into words my thoughts and feelings about the last two days. Seeing the Washington DC premiere of SELMA, shooting the finale for Ceremonies of Dark Men, and all of the postings of protests on FB have stirred up this feeling of love in me that I haven’t felt so intensely in a while. I was called the militant midget by my step father on my way to the hallowed halls of Howard University. He said I was always out for some black cause or another. Nostrils flared with passion in my voice and actions. From my time in high school seeing Roots, Eyes on the Prize, learning about my Great, Great, Great Grandfather Dr. James Still his brother William Still their mother Charity I was seriously pro-black. Pro-African. Pro-black power. Just knowing and learning my family history, knowing and learning African history, knowing and learning American history, I have always been proud to be of African descent.

Somewhere though I lost that feeling or with all the BS that has been perpetuated and accepted to and in our community I just felt I lost it. It was a slow decline that initially I did not see happening. I was becoming numb to stupid things that would happen in the community. I can remember coming home from school once and getting in the car with my grandparents to go to a movie. We were driving and there was a kid, a teenager that was just leisurely walking in the middle of the street. I was not pleased. I said “Pop-pop blow your horn.” They were both in agreement and the answer was a resounding ‘No, they could have guns and shoot us.’ The fear that my grandparents had of these kids growing up in their city was real. Working with kids I was a little out there. So I wasn’t afraid or maybe I was just a tad bit crazy. Human relations shape lives. There are certainly systemic issues that exist in our communities but there has also been a ball that has been dropped. I do not think that I need to go into an examination of the political and social oppression of the Black experience. This will not be that debate.

What this is… is a testimony. Because I know God is real… just in case you didn’t know it. I tell you that because all of the experiences that I have had over these days have rekindled my love (it was always there) for how AMAZING brown people are. Truly AMAZING. Our resilience, passion, talent… We are dope son! That is nothing but God. Really just when you think that your heart is calloused over, God reveals the little things that make us know the love is still there.

I know some incredible folks. My love for them is everlasting. Let me tell you. Sometimes I feel like I am bragging when I talk about my little brother “B”. I guess I am in a way. I am sure that folks get tired of me gushing over him. But I am truly, truly proud of my brother and LOVE him immensely. So a big sister would brag right? Let me tell you Bradford Young is truly a skillful artist. Those moments we spent playing with lights and layering images over chocolate skin, juxtaposing skin tones and experimenting with gels…  This man captured our beauty in the film #SELMA just as he has in all that he has touched. I would venture to say that if you have never seen his work you have never seen black people in our true beauty and radiance on screen. Check Mother of George, Restless City. We are a beautiful people. We need to see that… DEMAND that we see it often.

AM Weever’s Ceremonies of Dark Men just rounded out the love. I was captured by the beauty of black men, yet again. King Britt and Chuck Treece scored the filmic expressions of Larry Cook, Jefferson Pinder, Rashid Johnson, and Alexis Peskine. New vantage points of these dark men. Viewed through movement, emotion, love, and ritual I was once again enamored with my brothers. What truly captured me were the faces in Aljana Moons from Alexis Peskine. Breathtaking.

Major Jackson was eloquent and distinguished. Moving words across the stage and making me again love the cadence and timbre of my brothers voices. The Cornel West Theory was passion embodied on stage! I was truly inspired and THANKFUL!

We matter that is not up for discussion. We know it as fact. Amelia Boynton was played by Lorraine Toussaint in #SELMA to paraphrase the scene between her and Coretta Scott King ‘We come from a mighty people. Greatness is within us.’

Continue to be great and to seek inspiration in everything. Aluta Continua!

Wrap-apolooza – Order Service NOW!

wrapopolooza_AD

This holiday cut down on the stress. Let me wrap your gifts for you. Do you want your gift to really stand out? Let me make it fancy. Bring me your wrapping paper or choose from my custom wraps and fabric. (Wrap and fabric is subject to availability)

Just fill out the form below to get the process started!

Part 3 Health Trilogy – Food

thai-food2I love flavor! My favorite cuisine is Thai first and Indian second. My palate loves the comfort… so does my belly. My belly also has a tendency to retain that comfort. Which is no bueno. For this final entry (took long enough) of the health trilogy I would like to delve into FOOD! Mainly the good stuff, meaning the healthy stuff. Those foods that center around health and actual nourishment of the body, the real purpose of food… the nourishment of our bodies. Sometimes with all of the delightful dishes that exist we forget.

There are certain things that the body can not identify so in turn it stores it to figure out what to do with it later. That is where we get fat and foreign particles in our bodies. But I have said this before so no need to harp on it. Ultimately, the food industry is a consumer based addictive profit center. Mentally I realize that, but living on this planet for 39 years it will take some time before I can undo a lot of the brainwashing. (I hope it doesn’t take another 39 years, YIKES!)

What should we eat?

Remember that pyramid with the grains and dairy and meat and so forth. You would probably do better to forget about that if you do remember. 6-11 servings of bread, cereal, rice, pasta is not necessarily a good idea. That equates to sugar, sugar, sugar, and sugar because that is what it turns into in the body. Especially, since what is being passed as real or whole food is filled with preservatives and other agents that again our body does not recognize. Carbs are necessary but the goal is complex carbohydrates. Think about it. Nourishment should equate to energy. Sleeping should not be the next step after leaving the breakfast table.

Ok yes the food…

Vegetables

The more raw vegetables the better. You do not have to watch your waist with a plate of veggies. They are low calorie and high octane for the bodily engine we need to keep running. Here are a few of my favorites.  As a kid I was the one who actually like Brussels sprouts. I kinda think they have replaced spinach as my absolute favorite vegetable. Kale was an adult discovery. I make a wicked pot of greens… Even my mama liked it so you know it was good. I remember my grandmother being diagnosed with high cholesterol. At the time the doctor kept emphasizing sweet potatoes. The latest health benefits associated with them now I can definitely understand why. Take a look at the benefits of these three veggies. (Not sure that a sweet potato counts as a veggie though.)

Color Rich

I recently learned that veggies that are prone to cause a stain on your shirt are the best for you to eat. Of course that got me to thinking about beets. I hated them growing up. I think that is because growing up they came from a can. We were not buying fresh beets. A couple of years ago I started ordering produce that was delivered from the farm to my porch. There they were… BEETS. YUK! I wasn’t about wasting money so I made a salad and looked up some other uses. Did you know they are a better sweetener than sugar? BAM… pop it in a smoothie! They are also good by themselves. Peel it, slice it, eat it!

beets

The key is shopping the peripheral aisles at the grocery store. Well that was the best advice years ago, it seems store managers got wind of that. Think anything NOT in a box or wrapped in serious plastic. There is so much more to talk about. Like the phytonutrients in vegetables, like Lycopene in tomatoes which is could possibly reduce the risk of prostate and other cancers. Or we could talk about how if dependent on insulin adding just 3 fresh string beans a day to your diet can help lessen your dependency.

As always I am not a doctor and do not recommend just starting something because I said it. Do your research and find out what works for you!

 

 

 

Help…

help

This is not a word that you will often hear me say. But the last year has proven otherwise. I do not like it but I am learning. I grew up an only child. I played on my own accord and mostly by myself. I was grateful for playmates but I knew how to keep myself occupied. Being an only child fostered a deep seated independence. I was good at imagining and managed to entertain myself very well. When I was in high school, actually my senior year, some friends and I drove down to Atlantic City. It was a turn around trip but while we were there we stopped by a psychic shop or house… whatever it would be called. I didn’t have enough for a full reading but I had enough for a hand writing analysis (yeah I know). It “revealed” my persistence. She more than likely ascertained that from me trying to figure how I could give her my money. I will try until I succeed; a trait that supports independence. I can do it. If I don’t get it the first time I will keep going. It could just mean that I am hard-headed.

But I have found myself in a position that while I know I can do it, I need some help to push through to that next round. Forming my mouth to ask for “help” in this instance has been one of the most difficult moments of this life journey. I am sincerely grateful to those who have been supportive during this time. I am numb from the overwhelming support. I feel loved, weird, indebted… but over those, I feel grateful. I love the people in my life.

Thank you God for sending such great folks my way. You certainly know how to Bless a girl!

Dia de los Muertos – Honor your Ancestors

image

image

Mom Doris Gaines
Pop-pop Robert Gaines
Butch Gaines
Uncle Johnnie Gaines
Uncle Bunce Gaines
Great Grandma Estelle Gaines
Great Grandpa Alphonso Gaines
Verna Walker
Toni Walker
John Walker Sr.
John Walker Jr.
Michael Walker Sr.
Mum mum Hazel Mae Smith
Gramps James Smith
Mrytle Frye
Grandma Aida
Clem Still
Grandpa Clifton
Grandma Ella
Aunt Martha
Aunt Mildred
Cousin Dee
Aunt Di
Aunt Nette
Charity Still
James Still
William Still
Peter Still
Thank you for opening the path and continually guiding me. Withoutyou there is no me.

Continue reading

My Flash is Ready!

image

It is that time of year again and I am itching to get the camera out for holiday parties and events. I love being the fly on the wall for organization holiday parties. If you know someone looking for a photographer  for this year’s  holiday event tell them sondai expressions creative, llc is the most reliable source to capture those office memories.

Prelude to Part 3 of the Health Trilogy

I bet you thought I forgot to post the third installment. No, no, no! My research is taking me far and beyond. I want to pare it down and bring it! But until then check this out. I went to my local grocery lady and “Tunas” were on sale. Let’s see if you can figure out what tunas are. Check out this video from Tastemade.

I am headed downstairs to try it now. Mason Jar in hand. (Don’t kill my vibe… I am holding on to the idea of summer/fall.) #DConlyhas2seasons

I Dream of African Prints… Nubian Hueman Provides

There is a simple beauty in loving your culture.  I grew up super militant… this was of my own accord. No one in my family was overly vocal about our cultural make-up. We just lived it. Growing up with a librarian as a grand-mother and a family many shades of brown, I was a curious kid. I read everything, encyclopedias, poetry, fiction. I was really partial to biographies and autobiographies. I loved learning about my folks. I really loved learning about the “Motherland”. (Which I thought was the only Motherland until I heard a Russian man talk about “Mother Russia.” But still…)

DSC_0369

Nubian Hueman owner, Anika Hobbs says  [Africa is] “in my spirit” and I can certainly agree with her sentiment. Just two years ago I was excited by the idea of injecting more African prints in classic American cuts into my wardrobe. I didn’t broadcast this idea to many. I would tell a few folks in passing. I even searched for fabrics and contacted a designer to start with a pair of pants.

The history of African print fabric can be discussed in the context of imperialism and exploitation incorporating Indonesia, West Africa, China and Europe. “The fabrics are not really authentically African the way people think,” Shonibare has said. “They prove to have a crossbred cultural background quite of their own.”(Slate) However, while many prints are European made they are strongly associated to the continent and more specifically to West Africa. And as always WE as African people adopt it, own it, flip it and work it. Our ingenious selves are reflected in the beautiful finds that Hobbs comes across and shares with us through Nubian Hueman.

My (albeit) late discovery of Nubian Hueman set my heart a flutter. All of these beautiful prints on everything from ties to bags to pants, tops and dresses. I had to leave the store… I had left my wallet in my purse with my friend and I had to get that.

me

Saturday, September 27, Anika and the Nubian Hueman team celebrated the first year of the brick and mortar business at their Southeast, DC location. Started in 2011 as an online shop it has grown to host a “myriad of talented designers” and artists all under the roof of the Anacostia Arts Center. I have fallen in love on numerous occasions in this boutique, some of those loves have come home with me.  But this past weekend, love is an understatement. I am not even sure where to begin. Whew!!

Myria M Maxo

My mother started buying me teddy bears each holiday at an early age. She was the reason I began my collection. Build-A-Bear has nothing on the bears I had. I stopped collecting sometime during high school. I just thought I was too old to be collecting teddy bears. Featured artist Myria M Maxo, fresh from NY Fashion Week, made me reconsider and want to add another bear to the family. Here is another moment of love that happened due to Nubian Hueman…

DSC_0308 copyMMaxoI posted my adoration of these “teddys” as Myriam calls them and she confirmed yes I need to have one. I totally agree. What excites me is the traditional idea of the teddy bear with the nontraditional fabric. Classic meeting a different idea of classic. I believe Maxo’s “teddys” should be in the bedroom of every little brown girl growing up. As a big brown girl I surely want one in my home and whatever future children I have will have them as well.

Chen Burkett

One of the reasons I walked out of the boutique during my first discovery of the fabulous Nubian Hueman was my wallet but the other reason was because I was overwhelmed. The kid in the candy store… YES that was me, hunty! I wanted everything. I am not sure if Anika noticed but I was in and out of her shop about 5 good times that night. This time around was a jaw dropping experience.

I am a fan and love the clothes and style on “An African City” (which I hope returns). It is cosmopolitan, upscale, gorgeous and AFRICAN! Love it. The styles of Chen Burkett reminded me of the elegance and confidence of the designs on the show. These were must have wardrobe pieces. They were certainly regal and fitting of our shapes and curves.

DSC_0301 copy2chenBurkettThis is exactly what I was talking about when I said a whole closet of classic cuts with African inspirations.

Amazed. Excited. Enthralled. I am a Nubian Hueman supporter and you should be too. Oh… I almost forgot… Belated birthday presents are accepted and these beauties… should be on my ears. Thanks in advance.

DSC_0299 copy

Cheers to Anika Hobbs and the crew of Nubian Hueman. You truly are wearing that crown!

Health Trilogy part 2

Note: I am in no way a physician and do not prescribe to be. Please consult your primary care physician if you are considering lifestyle changes uses herbal or alternative medicines.echanacea

I love “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”. I wasn’t able to see it on Broadway but the film was great. One part that sticks with me the most is the father’s obsession with Windex. “Put some Windex on it.” The solution to all ailments from acne to cuts and burns. I am not sure of the validity of his ideas surrounding this chemical but, I believe the best remedies are home grown. Our society is so quick to drug ourselves with over the counter medicines and injections that we never stop to think about cause and effect.

Over the years I have been fortunate to learn about homemade remedies and concoctions. My Great, Great, Great Grandfather was Dr. James Still, known as the Great Doctor of the Pine Barrens in NJ. In his book Early Recollections he talks about purchasing a scanty building in Vineland, NJ that he ultimately turned into a clinic and treated his neighbors with herbs. He was not a trained doctor but he used the knowledge he did have to heal.

Dr._James_StillOur biggest issue is our lack of connectedness to the earth. I admit I am no nature girl because I do not see eye to eye with insects. Bugs that fly, walk, crawl… FREAK ME OUT! I do know that there is importance in every living thing. We as humans need to ingest more life into our bodies. Vegetables and herbs are the best way to be healthy. So how do you know what does what? Many times your intuitive self tells us what is up.

We have the closest relationship to our bodies. I had a doctor try to grill me about what I felt was ailing me. He asked snidely, “Are you a doctor? Do you have a diagnosis?” Don’t worry I didn’t jump out the chair and pummel him, but he never saw me again.

My immediate thought is… ‘Have I had water today?”

Water is an important part of LIFE period. When I come across people that do not drink water it also FREAKS ME OUT! Dry skin… drink water. Ashy lips… drink water. Headache… drink water. True these maybe more complex symptoms for a larger problem but dehydration is real. Your body needs water because it is mostly comprised of water. REPLENISH!

I want a doctor who want to help me help myself not who feels they are in control of my body. If you put the right things in we get better results, doctors know these and we know this too.

Here are a few more ideas and resources to move you into healing what ails you.

Prescription for Nutritional Healing: A Practical A-to-Z Reference to Drug-Free Remedies Using Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs & Food Supplements

This book is the greatest resource to understanding just about everything in health. I believe I have three editions and I may need to get up on the next one.

Back to Eden by Jethro Kloss

This was written in 1939 I believe. It was part of the reason that I began using Apple Cider Vinegar with mother. (Mother is the good stuff that floats around in the bottle.)

Anything Related to Coconut can Heal You

Well that may be an exaggeration but if you check out Everyday Roots you may discover otherwise.

Herbal Teas are better than Lipton

If you are going to drink tea go for something that is nourishing to the body. Check out this list of herbs. There are some medicinal teas that are not so tasty but others that are. As always research the herbs to are interested in, especially the side effects.

So start with these and in part 3 we will talk about food stuffs that nourish the body.