Thursday, November 22, 2012

Wishing you a joyful day of peace & good heath. May you take time to reflect on what is important to you and spend time doing what brings you pleasure.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Unofficial Book Signing

Ever since Spirit Song: the lyrics of my heart was published last year, I've heard the question, "When is the book signing?"

Well ... the official has yet to be arranged, but the unofficial book signing is going down in Brooklyn on Monday, November 19, 2012 at GHMPA, 760 Dekalb Avenue, @ 7pm.

East Brooklyn Poets (of which I am a founding member) will be hosting its signature spoken word/poetry reading event with open mic. 

The theme of RESURRECTION is timely as our city regroups from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. If you are in the New York City area, I urge you to come experience the artistic spirit of East Brooklyn Poets ... if you haven't purchased my book yet, you can grab a copy or two, I'll be sure to sign them for you! This will be an evening you won't forget.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Seeing Myself Beautiful Again

All photos in this post are by Saddi Khali of

The Photo-Vangelist, Saddi Khali uses the tagline “let’s see ourselves beautiful again” and I decided to write something from out of that; my experience on the other side of his lens. I have had the pleasure of being immortalized on three occasions by Brother Saddi; the first shoot was alone, next was with my children and the third was during a work related event. I was on a journey prior to meeting him, but our relationship has helped me travel further along the path. 

To see myself beautiful again, insinuates that I originally saw myself in this manner but somehow the view became skewed. I will admit that as I aged, I internalized the outlook of a portion of our society regarding what constituted beauty. One of my biggest obstacles was coming to terms with my weight & size. I actually started gaining weight toward the end of high school, but I was never what one would consider overweight. After giving birth to my first child, I lost a significant amount of weight, so much that some people thought I was ill. Then as the years passed, I gained it back & more. I became, and still am, a plus sized woman.

A change of perspective was needed to become comfortable in/with my body. The turning point came when I began to phase out negative imagery and started to cling to the following scripture: 

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 
 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
-         ~ Psalms 139: 13-14 (NIV)

“Fearfully & wonderfully made” became my mantra. God doesn’t make mistakes. We are created with great diversity in thoughts, abilities, talents, appearance … including body size & type.  We are all wonderful – amazing, fabulous, stunning, marvelous – and, yes, beautiful.

I was transitioning, stepping out of my comfort zone in some areas and embracing who I was - intellectually, spiritually & physically. Following are excerpts from piece I wrote that embodied this transformation:

Evolution of a Woman
(learning to love myself)

 Loving my whole self comes in different stages
Sometimes I have to re-learn this love
as I develop into a different person.
Right now, I am so in love with my body.
Does that sound vain?
Is it a strange concept?

I am not a small woman,
I have been, in years past –
but I am not at the moment.
is what I have been deemed recently.
is a description that I once balked at,
but am now claiming.

I have stopped looking at myself through glasses
tainted with memories of size 8’s,
stopped wondering what happened
to my true reflection in the mirror,
stopped asking, who is this person staring back at me?

Do you understand how wonderfully
liberating it feels to put on clothes that fit,
not clothes that scream at you
that ask why you are
stretching them to their limits,
just because your mind’s eye tells you
they should grace your body?

Every morning I stare at my face
and think WOW, you are beautiful!
I know that’s the divinity in me, saluting itself.
I constantly drive my fingers through my locs,
even when they are frizzy/fuzzy and un-manicured.
I think WOW, I love my hair, now that I am not
burning it into submission.

Anointing my body with sweet,
sweet oils gives me pleasure –
I love the way my skin feels,
the way my body curves.
I can stay all day,
reveling in the sensations I experience.

So now that I was really feeling myself, I wanted to take some pictures. Not just any pictures, I wanted nudes that were tastefully done and real. I wanted to see myself in all of my glory & power.

Enter Saddi Khali. Somehow, I came across his pictures on FaceBook and then I visited his website. I was in awe of the depth of work I saw. This brother has a gift of making the mundane look special. His philosophy is to help our people heal from the negative imagery of ourselves that we are fed on a daily basis via mainstream media. Saddi focuses on details that I would ordinarily overlook. He shoots everything; men, women, couples, children, families, trees, skylines, subway signs, snow storms on Eastern Parkway … and with every frame I experienced the moment. I purchased a black & white photograph titled "1st Instrument" which moved me in a way that I have difficulty describing – just know that as I sit in my bed typing this, it is hanging on the wall directly in front of me, and it brings to mind fond thoughts of a loved one.

I had been looking for a photographer and now I found him. The next leg of my trek began when I submitted my deposit for the shoot. We corresponded prior to the appointed day so that Saddi could get a feel for me, who I am and why I wanted to do a session with him. I wondered about where we would meet and the whole process – did his subjects usually get “did” in preparation because I don’t do make-up, don’t even color my fingernails.  He explained how he shot using natural light so as long as I had a window, we would be good. He also mentioned that whatever my normal regimen was would be fine; he was capturing me, as I am. That was all cool until he actually came to my house – then shit got real. Was I really going to strip for this stranger? And allow him to take pictures of me?

Well, Saddi writes that he specializes in dealing with his clients’ nervousness and I can attest to this. The brother is just so freaking cool that he puts you at ease. Hooked up the laptop & started the banging playlist.  When he says that he operates under the perspective that you were made in the image of the CREATOR & the CREATOR doesn’t make mistakes, so you have to be beautiful – he’s not joking. That belief oozes from him. His excitement at bringing out your individual beauty is contagious. Nakedness is more than a physical state. I had to open myself to a new state of mind, one that was less inhibited and more able to face unkowns. After a while, I was comfortable and just had fun. As I’m a person who likes structure, I wanted clear directions with regards to posing, etc. while he preferred that I just do my thing – we worked it out in the end. 

Needless to say, I am extremely pleased with my photographs, which were downloaded to my computer before he left my home. No extra stuff, no re-touching … just my raw self. What is most astounding for me is that Saddi gets real up close & personal. In. My. Face. I didn’t realize I had issues with certain things until I saw how he exposed them – like the lines on my forehead, my uneven skin tone or the fleshiness under my chin. But you know what? This is who I am - I’m soft and round and I love it!