Sis’ to Sis’

I just randomly wrote a poem. He he. I think it needs more work, but I might share it some day when I feel the need to. There is something else I feel I must share. It’s just been on my mind lately. The other day, I met a woman who was sitting by the pier. She decided to talk to me and asked me why I was there. She remarked that we both had our journals out and were writing. She asked me what brought me to the pier. She said that we don’t talk to each other enough (As black women or women in general). She was a stranger in the beginning, but during our talk, she became a mentor, a teacher and a fellow sister in my journey of self-discovery.

At times, I question the decisions and the direction I have made in own life. I am happy to have my MSW and to be closer to becoming a licensed social worker. I am glad to have pursued my creative endeavors by still writing at times and starting out with making jewelry. (Which I need to post more on here) I have joy in partaking in fun filled activities either by myself or with others to make my life that much more enriching. However, there are moments when I go down that dark hallway of my mind and question the choices that I have made.

I am starting to realize that the way things are manifesting in my life is exactly what I always wanted; I must push myself more and have confidence in my decisions. I must learn not to let the naysayers, even those close to you, tear down the strength behind my choices.  God or the Universe will take care of me; always.

The higher power above will take care of you too. You will take care of you. The path and the choices that we make define our lives. We must believe in ourselves more and stop comparing or allowing the negativity of others to take us down. You know why you did what you did; don’t regret it. Even if it’s not working out in your favor yet, it will. Or it will be an important lesson for you in your journey to success if it does not work out. This is the road to who we are. The mistakes, the wrong turns or the right ones lead us to who we have always been.

In this journey that we take, it is also incredibly important to take time to self-reflect and discover who we are. There is something that I am starting to notice more, but I also see that it is quite disturbing in society. We put so much emphasis in getting these successful careers so that we can make a lot of money. The goal has always been to get a high paying job, get the house, get the car and you will be successful; you will be happy. However, I cannot help but notice some famous, rich people who appear to be quite happy in accomplishing all of this on the surface, but in truth are hiding behind their success. Big time celebrities make excessive amounts of money, travel the world and have the adoration of millions of fans, but are still unhappy. Many of them strive so much to be successful for objects but may not be successful with self. So many of them still have the same internal issues or worse than the rest of us. For some of them, it may be heightened because of all the energy they collect from users, naysayers, or any other negative forces they take in from those around.

My point is, why is it that we do not strive to know ourselves? Why is it embedded in us to sacrifice ourselves for these material things instead of saving time for ourselves as well? I mean it’s not wrong to want things and to work hard for them. But why is it OK to put in almost all your energy into gaining objects instead of gaining experiences or positivity from others? We could be uplifted from each other. We could be uplifted by our journeys in self-discovery. The concept of self-care is a huge theme in the caring profession since so much of our energy is utilized by giving to others. But the same can be done from other careers. It is so essential for us to know who we are and to take the time to do so. We tend to lose who we are and become mindless robots for the green. The biggest treasure out there is becoming who you are as a person and sharing that with others. When we empathize and work together as a society, we evolve.

Going back to the conversation with my fellow sister, she said she was relearning herself now that her children are out of the nest. She had her kids young and was rediscovering what she wanted to do with her life after having a rewarding career as a social worker. This queen was taking the time to get to know herself and through her words, she helped me. She had me realize how important it is to take the time to know who you are and to talk to one another. So much can happen with just a smile or a few words. We are so powerful in our own unique ways. We all know who we are at birth, but we must find the tools along the way back to ourselves; choice words she quoted from the outstanding soulstress Erykah Badu. Stay true to yourself and work on you, it is the most important goal you can have. Without it, nothing else matters.

Below, enjoy some sounds from the spiritual, neo-soul queen below.

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Colors of Change

It’s crazy; my hair really has a mind of its own. I mean seriously; this summer I learned that I don’t know what it will do. It went from purple to blonde.

When I went to the salon to get it done, I was doing something so much more drastic than anything I have done to my hair. Well I did cut it in a mo-hawk style and dyed it red last year. But purple was a different direction for me. People dye their hair red all the time. But purple…not so much. When I saw the final result, I fell in love with it. The color was so different but so me. And I was able to embrace it at an epic area of the season when I traveled with my bestie to New Orleans. It did me well the rest of July too. I came to own the style.

However, during August either after a wash day or spending more time in the sun, it started to change. My vibrant violet was becoming a mixture of pink, purple and blonde. The color was no longer the same. I learned that you are not supposed to wash your hair with warm or hot water even though I did try to wash my hair with mostly cold. Still, I didn’t understand what was happening. It was like every day it was a different color. Even now, I don’t know what to expect. Some people think I dyed my hair again.

But I’m starting to get more used to it. I cut the sides a few weeks ago and now I think it’s coming along even more. My hair in some ways is a representation of myself. Or at least for what I want to accomplish from within. These kinks represent change. It is something happening inside of me. Every moment, I must make a push to elevate myself even more. I’ll admit, I spend a lot of time being stagnant and watching Netflix or Youtube. Ha ha. But whenever I leave the house or interact with others, it is always a chance for me to be a better version of myself. Even if it’s just a little. My hair reflects the ever-evolving fire inside of me that is in constant motion. Now I wonder what change my hair will go through next?

See changes below.

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Marvel Magic: Black Panther

***Spoilers Ahead***

Many of the various cultures making up much of this planet were excited to see Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther which came out this past Friday, February 16. Hype for months went down for the premier of the Wakandan super hero in this epic installation of Marvel. Many are gassed for the awesomeness this movie brings. Well I know am. Fans either dressed up or dressed down for the royal magic emanated from this film. I was actually one of them.

 

 

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Hey, I couldn’t help it. Normally, I don’t like to dress up too much, but this was an opportunity I could not miss. When my friends and I went to see Black Panther, it was more than just a movie for us. It is a symbol of progression for our people. It is a united front for Black Americans and people from the continent of Africa. It is a presence of excellence that we rarely see on film. (Literally, the last time was Coming to America) It is a positive image of our people. It is a Black super hero who is the main protagonist. (Blade was dope too though)

This was also one of the few times people actually dressed up to go see a film. I mean really dress up. It reminds me of the early days of film when people used to get dressed up to see the latest movie; decked out in fancy hats and gowns. In the beginning of the 20th Century, when film was still in black and white and was silent, movie goers would put on their best threads in excitement for the latest installation of cinema. Even during the later part of the century, people would get down with their groovy selves and look fly for film. However, it has died down a bit for being a spectacle to dress up other than for just cosplayers or comic book nerds. (Love y’all. =)) It is exhilarating to see fans dress up in traditional African garment or their own eclectic twist adorned in their own personal flair. Donning the various styles from the African continent, this was also an opportunity for Black Americans to make a connection with their African roots.

As I’m writing this, I’m realizing that there are numerous directions I could go with how dope this film was. However, I will focus on what stuck out the most for me. Right above was literally what Black Panther brought to the table for scores of individuals before even seeing it. Now to focus on the actual film.

Tribal Wear:

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The first thing that stood out for me was the diversity of their attire. It wonderfully captured the essence of what is worn in the nations across the continent. There were 11 tribes seen in the Marvel film including the Surma and Mursi tribes in Ethiopia where you see the body modification lip plates, the Zulu headdress of South Africa worn by Queen Ramonda (Angela Basset), the futuristic garments of the Massai people of southern Kenya and northern Tanzania worn by the Dora Milaje army and more. You can see all of the dress worn in the film yourself here.

The Tech:

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Can I say out of this world? That is the best way to describe the technology of Wakanda. It was extraordinary that they were a nation shrouded under mystic waterfalls to bestow a nation embellished with such advanced tech. Vibranium is a powerful metal that absorbs sound waves, other vibrations and kinetic energy. It was deposited to the planet thousands of years ago and is now a special source which generates the city of Wakanda. It was incredible to see how high tech the nation is.

The Characters (Especially the empowering women):

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Everyone seemed to have their own story line other than just the prestigious T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman). However, they all had their own incredible tales of independence, passion and loyalty to their cause. We learned about his love interest who was more than just that. Nakia (Lupita Nyong’O) was a spy who wanted to do more for her people and help others in need. She was very independent and was loyal to her cause as well as her nation. Shuri (Letitia Wright) was my favorite. She was responsible for much of the advancements made in Wakanda – as a teenage princess. Sister to T’Challa, she kept him in check and was an incredible asset to the country. I also loved how witty she was. (I can’t wait to see her interact with Tony Stark) Okoye was a traditionalist loyal to her nation. She was a dynamic fighter who fought to protect King T-Challa alongside the ferocious women of the Dora Milaje army (They are also a homage to the eminent Dahomey Warriors of Benin). Even Killmonger (Michael B Jordan) as evil as he was, had a very relatable back story. Many can understand his rage and can have respect for what he aimed to do to a world so drastically colonized including his own.

We Got You: 

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It was beautiful to see how T’Challa trusted the women in his life to have his back. He had his brilliant sister, his courageous love and the strapping femme warriors of Wakanda on his side. They were with him in battle and were a voice of reason when not. It was MARVELous to watch on film. (See what I did there. He he.) It is a bondage that we must entrust within ourselves. We can be there for each other. We are one in this journey of life; let us unite and avoid being divided. It was also incredible to see the unity between Black American and African culture. Our heroes got to see the struggles of the broken communities in urban settings through the unfortunate bridge that was Killmonger in how his story came to be. Like his ancestors, he was stripped from his culture and banished to a foreign land where he was no longer connected to his past. However, T’Challa became a beacon of hope not only for Wakanda but for the inner city community where Killmonger was raised and witnessed much destruction of those he loved. This story line was a fantastic example of how we all should come together in learning, understanding and taking action in becoming a united front against the oppressive forces that attempt to take us down.

Overall, this movie was beyond dope. It was a collection of powerful messages that we all needed to see. As a Marvel fan, this was my favorite film thus far. And not just because my heroes were black, but also because of the overall progression of excellence in the myriad of themes exuding hope, pride, thought, history, culture, loyalty and so much more. While I sat there in my African inspired threads, it felt real for me in what was taking place for us all. If you have not seen it yet, if there is any pessimistic doubt or barriers eating at your spirit, do not let if keep you from the brilliance that is Black Panther. If I or others sound too hyped up, challenge our position and see it for yourself.

 

Super Fly: Black Comic Book Festival 2018

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Tony Medina, author of “I Am Alfonso Jones” and myself.

This past Saturday, I was in Harlem and just happened to pass by the Schomburg Center. There was a line with people waiting in this crazy cold weather. Curious, I asked someone what was going on. I found out that there was a Black Comic Book Festival going on that day. I knew about it, but thought I missed it. This was an opportunity I couldn’t miss.

After waiting in the annoying freeze, I encountered the library for research and black culture filled with comic book enthusiasts. Different tables showcased the melanin authors work on the main floor, upstairs and in the basement. It was dope. I geeked out and bought like four. I honestly wished I bought more. There were various books filled with pages of crime fighting child engineers, a super mom trying to win back her child from her own company, an infested South Bronx world overrun by zombies, and more. One author even created an encyclopedia of Black Comic books. Someone was even selling the entire collection of Black Panther. (They had a bunch of dope content on Black Panther the day before) However, the book that most intrigued me was a graphic novel about a child who was murdered due to police brutality. It follows the child in the afterlife as he meets others on a ghost train to guide him through in the spiritual realm. I had to get it.

As a writer still navigating my way through this creative space, it was a real treat to meet accomplished melanin folk doing their thing. I loved how they brought their dynamic energy to the editorial space and gave it life for others to enjoy. I wish them all the best and hope to get more of this experience next year.

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Happy New Hair!!!

Happy New Year!!! How you doing? Lol. Today, I wanted to mark down the transitions my hair has gone through in the past year. I have made drastic changes with it from 2016 to now. Check out how my hair used to look back in early 2016 :

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How my hair looks now:

 

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I went through the transitioning stage (that was a challenge), cutting off the rest of my permed ends, working out an Afro, trying out a brownish red tapered look and now currently rocking out a fiery mo-hawk. During my permed days, I would just depend on the hairstylist to make my hair magic. Now I make my hair magic. Or at least try to. =).

It was not easy understanding my hair. I am still learning so much about it and am still making mistakes in this journey. But I am overall happy about it. In the past two years, I tried different products, went to CurlFest, looked at different YouTube tutorials on various topics like dry hair, my hair type and unique hair styles. Last November, I even went to an awesome class by Ancestral Strands where I learned more in depth about the biology of hair and the best oils to use to treat your scalp and hair qualms. (Now my hair consistently smells like lemongrass. Lol.)

Through this self-discovery of my hair, I have evolved. My tresses have grown with me; flowing and screaming for attention at times when touched. I am here for you; my strands, you are a part of me and you carry on as I develop. Here on the Heartbeat Life I decided to showcase the transitions my hair has made. I am excited to see how it flows in 2018.

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January 2017

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March 2017

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May 2017

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July 2017

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September 2017

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November 2017

Living Up to Your Truth

 

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Nola Darling (Tracey Camilla Johns) Credit: IMDB

So Spike Lee has always been an iconic film maker in the wacky world of film. He is a mogul to look up to not only in the African American community, but as an overall creator of art. Growing up, especially if you come from Brooklyn, you had to catch a Spike Lee joint. I tried to keep up with as many as I can. When his movies was popping, I was a little Tiffy crawling and running around on the carpet of our Brownsville/East Flatbush apartment. I can never forget the favs: Do the Right Thing, He Got Game, Crooklyn and School Daze. Upon hearing about the remake of his 80s hit “She’s Gotta Have It,” I decided to check out the original. Home girl was living it up. Ms. Nola Darling had three attractive men pawning after her. The black and white flick was bold in introducing a type of romance you rarely see highlighted. This woman was owning who she was and not allowing anyone to control her desires. She saw the good in all three men she was dating; Jamie was the poet who kept her feeling secure, Mars had her rolling in laughter while Greer was all about the sensual experience. She had the best of all worlds; she enjoyed the makeup of what they had to give cause she had to have it all. My point in this little write up is that Nola Darling was a woman unafraid to live how she wanted. She refused to bend over to society’s standards; she refused to bow down to the roles placed on women. Nola was honest in what she wanted. She often times mentioned that these men could leave if they could not rock with her ways.

I admire and respect her for her strong stance. She is a mountain of unwavering beauty which seeks to be honored for how she sees herself in the world. She hated to be called a freak. She hated to be boxed in by men or by society. She needed to define herself to her own choosing. I resonate so much with that. In truth, I did not like that she was dating three men at the same time when they all seemed to want her for themselves. However, I loved that she was so strong about what she wanted.

Our culture says that women must only be with one man while men are praised for being with countless females. We allow men to define us based on what has been passed down by our parents and their parents and so on. We become defined by what we see in the media. We get dressed up in labels to honor without much choice. Otherwise we get the side eye or attitude from anyone within distance. We are defined on whether we are married. Our womanhood is tested on whether we have kids or not. We are judged on if we can make great homemakers. Growing up, I learned it is standard for a woman to know how to cook, clean, and raise kids. Oh and she got to have a bangin’ body too. All of which revolved on whether a man wanted us or not. This is what I was used to, but it is exhausting. (While writing this, an image of Barbie popped into my head. *shudder.*) In the midst of this tornado of labels, where do I come into the picture? Can a brother like me for me and not just whether I can throw down in the kitchen? I have always been about something deeper; Connection for me is key. Intimacy is key. Intellectual stimulation is key. Spiritual growth is key. Communication is key. Anyway, Nola breaks through the barriers of what society tells her to do. “F*** you societal labels. I’m doing me.” (My own words of what she is doing.) In a sense, Nola is living in her truth and not the one someone created for her. This, for me, is perfection.

It is important for us all to live in our own truth. The compelling authenticity of Nola is her stance in not allowing anyone to define her. The remake of this incredible tale does a great job in doing this as well. (I binge watched the series on Netflix. It is pretty dope. I like the characters more actually and love how they highlighted today’s issues. Nola is also such a dynamic artist. She makes me want to pick up a brush.) I think we should all not allow society or other people to define us. Live up to who you are in the best way you know how. Let your true self shine.  Don’t ever let anyone overshadow the essence of who you are. I know I won’t. Thank you, Nola for being you.

Spiritually Full Through La’s

The other day, this past Wednesday, I had an influx of feelings. Both positive and negative. I had so much on my mind, but I can’t remember it all now. Anyway, I was on one of the green line trains heading to 125 St for class and this song from Ari Lennox came on my Spotify playlist. Let me tell you about this track; it immediately lifted my spirit. It sent me somewhere (as most good music does); a destination of paradise. It doesn’t bombard you with too much sound all at once. It is gentle. The light instruments guide you into a place where you are quietly embraced by the soothing power of Ari’s voice. Her croons jump and play with the background sound making a beautiful introduction to the ethereal magic produced later on. Close your eyes and let “La La La La” emanate your spirit. I forgot I was underground, in the subway while listening to it. This tune makes time stand still in a moment of serenity. After a long day going back and forth from Harlem to Midtown, when I turned on my music again to head home, there it was again recreating that same dominating feel of tranquility. I wrote about this song before, but it is all deserving to receive some nods once more. When I hear this track, I know that I am love, peace and light; it fills me. Please check it out and let me know what it does for you.

P.S. Also check out one of her more fresher tracks, “Night Drive” as well as other tunes from her latest album PHO. It is also a pretty dope listen. =)