Step Forward

What a difference a few days make. When I took these photos it was in the 60's (fahrenheit) in Atlanta. As I publish this post, the mercury has dropped to the 20's. Despite all the years that Atlanta has been my home away from home, its sudden shifts in temperatures from Fall to Spring still manage to jolt me. Yet, it doesn't take much to see this as a blessing. The interspersing of warm days tempers the cold ones. Leaves change colour. The chill blows through and the trees shed their leaves, carpeting the earth. Some birds journey further south. Some remain. Warms days visit for brief stints. New leaves sprout on the trees, fresh and green. Flowers bloom. The birds return and the cold retreats. It's all a reminder that so much in life is impermanent, liable to change at any moment. Instead of seeing this as a reason to feel disempowered, or bemoaning that we are at the whim of things we can not control. We can view it as grace. We can appreciate the harmonious, perfect order of nature and make the best of things as they are.  

Denim Shirt and Jeans: Goodwill, Atlanta
Blazer & Belt: Goodwill, Atlanta
Boots: The Clothing Warehouse Consignment Shop, Atlanta
Glasses:Warby Parker
Earrings: Local Atlanta Jeweller

Photography Credit:  Sammy Sampson Photography


A Season of Growth

December is for many of us the month that we give much consideration to how far we have come over the past year. For me that is especially so. In addition to the fact that the 12th month (according to the Gregorian calendar that is) signifies that the Earth has completed another cycle around the sun, for me December is also significant because it is the anniversary of my birth. These two factors conspire in inducing me to be a bit more reflective about life and my place in it. To add to all this, I turn 35 this December. Maybe it's mind over matter, but for some reason, I've felt extremely sensitive about this birthday. Questions such as whether I'm making the most of this life, whether I'v grown and in what ways I still can, loom large in my mind. Hopefully, I can answer these and continue on the (often winding) path of living a fulfilling and meaningful life. Hopefully, I can be gentle with myself as I figure it out and I wish the same for you. 

Into The Depths

We live in an age in which stimuli comes at us with rapid fire speed from every direction. Opinions, sounds and images continuously vie for our attention, creating a cacophony through which we sometimes struggle to hear the whisperings of our subconscious minds. This over stimulation constitutes spiritual noise.

Fortunately, nature provides us with a reprieve. The natural environment gently redirects our attention from the things that typically monopolise our focus. Gazing upon mountains, trees or the sea stills our thoughts.  Being in the presence of this vastness reminds us that our preoccupations with the material world are miniscule in the grand (universal) scheme of things,  if they matter at all.  Also, nature's beauty lures us deep within away from blaring distractions, enabling  us to hear the messages that silence holds.


Travel Diary: Mexico City with Frida

The queue stretched around the corner and I stood at the centre of it. The chances that I would make it to the ticket office before the museum closed seemed unlikely. I silently berated myself for not making the visit earlier.  Should I even attempt entering or find some other way to pass my last evening in Mexico City? The line was moving though, not to mention that I had come all this way to stand in this house, Casa Azul - Frida Kahlo's House. With that said, turning back was not an option, not without trying at least. Ten minutes later, I made it to the wrought iron window and handed over the eighty pesos required for entry. The attendant gave me a ticket and I smiled in relief. There was still about an hour before closing. SWEET!

From the front door, even surrounded by other tourists, it was easy to imagine the once daily routines of the famed artist. I took my time in each room, taking in the pieces of art, painting utensils and home decor. With each moment spent in the space, I felt closer to the radical woman who dwelled there for much of her life. The experience of visiting Casa Azul was surreal. For so long, I had admired Frida Kahlo, not only as an artist but also as a person who defied living a life based on the limitations imposed by other people or circumstances. Here, I was touching the same walls that she had touched and stepping across the floors on which she had stepped.
   As I made my way back to the entrance with the other visitors,  I felt inspired by Frida Kahlo's courage, strength and authenticity.It was a good thing that I hadn't turned back.


Film Noire: The Queen of Katwe

This month cinema screens were resplendent with black stars. Nate Parker, Aja Naomi King and  Gabrielle Union among others were ablaze in The Birth of a Nation. (Review of The Birth coming soon!) Lupita Nyongo and David Olewoyo starred alongside Mandina Nalwanga in the refreshing Queen of Katwe.  The movie, which was filmed in South Africa and directed as well as written by Indian film-maker Mira Nair of Mississippi Masala and Monsoon Wedding fame, is a heart warming chronicle of the real life story of Ugandan chess prodigy. Phiona Mutesi. Phiona who is raised by a single mother, played by Lupita, in a Ugandan slum (Katwe) comes to realise the potential she possesses and that life holds more possibility than her environment may suggest. For Phiona, chess opens the portal to such possibility.

   There are several reasons why I like this cinematic depiction apart from the obvious one that it's good to see a  universally uplifting story. For starters,  the film  highlights that there are arenas outside of entertainment and sports in which people of African descent excel. Furthermore, it is refreshing to see a movie in which black people are their own heroes. Making it even better is the fact that this is told without the paternalistic tone that often permeates Hollywood movies about African people. Good writing, directing and acting convey the nuanced lives of people trying to transcend the harsh circumstances around them.  Scene by scene, it is evident that much care and thought was invested into seeing that this film reflected dignity. I can't say that I'm surprised. The so called big names close to the project:  Nair, Nyongo and Olewoyo have built their careers on contributing to a dignified representation of African people/people of colour on screen. My last reason for adoring this film, is that it affirms the African regard for  community. Yes, Phiona is a brilliant chess player but she doesn't succeed by herself. She succeeds largely in part due to her coach/ teacher (played by Olewoyo) who recognises her gift and persistently nurtures it. She succeeds also because she has a strict but loving mother who instills the value that success is most meaningful when we take others along with us. Phiona succeeds because she has a community cheering her on. 

I hope that this description  hasn't given away too much but has piqued your interest in "The Queen of Katwe"Do share your thoughts below if you have seen it. 

Take It Easy

 There's nothing like a comfortable outfit for hot days. This cotton eyelet blouse, billowy denim skirt and leather sandals are prime candidates for such a day. No fuss. Really easy. Just how I like my life. Speaking of easy clothes and life, I've been purging my closets and home with the objective of discarding anything that isn't a necessity or something I absolutely adore. Already, I've felt a lighter energy circulating. As the seasons change, it's so good to  follow their example and make the most of transition...sorting through our life to determine the things that are still serving our greatest good...clearing the old to make room for the new and not just in terms of objects but everything from habits to  relationships to belief systems. Detaching ourselves from all these can open a flood gate to more blessings. I'm excited to continue reflecting on what I need to release and what I would like to attract as a new season begins. How about you? 

In Search of Bliss: The Making

To create something you intend to share with a buying public is one of the most soul searching aspects of being an artist. How do you balance staying true to your vision with creating an appealing product? Is one priority more important than the other and if so which? Is it enough to pour love into something and trust that it will resonate with those with whom it is meant to resonate? 

Solving this puzzle, is in my opinion, a key to being a successful creative entrepeneur. Of course, people define success differently. That is well and good. For me, being successful means both creating things that I feel excited about and manifesting financial prosperity through sharing those creations with others. Discovering what exactly this looks like has been a deeply emotional process.for me. Quite likely the emotional conflict is a result of years of programming. Like many creative people, I was conditioned to believe that there is a dichotomy between the two. One had to choose between being a starving artist who honoured his/her art but lead a financially impoverished life and being a sell out who sacrificed creative soul in the name of money and fame. 

Despite this conditioning, deep down inside I always knew that having a viable and spiritually fulfilling career as an artist,  whether the medium is writing, music, painting or designing, wasn't some lofty goal. This intuitive knowing was supported by seeing many examples of creatives who actualized financial wealth through making things with which they were pleased. Subconsciously and then consciously, I decided that I would take my cue from them. 

It was all going well. I nurtured my artistic  voice and visualised attracting prosperity and it seemed that the Universe was orchestrating things to support me. Then it appeared like I hit a wall. Preoccupied with selling the designs for Ancestral Memory Mas, worry crept up on me.  "Did people not like what I was doing? " "Should I have made sexier costumes?" Soon, I began to internalize these thoughts and paralyze myself with fear.

Yet, that quiet whispering kept telling me to press on with my vision. Not to mention,  that there have been so many kind souls bolstering my confidence. They have reminded me that the people who are supposed to value what you do will and they will gladly pay money for it. 

Ancestral Memory Mas isn't meant to be a mainstream Carnival band.  It's meant to be a boutique band that caters to a special niche of people who will appreciate the AM aesthetic and lifestyle. Even when our customers share their input about what they would like, their suggestions will align with our design philosophy. It will feel congruent and harmonious.

This will be success. 


Sundays Are For Self

Sundays have always seemed infused with a special and sacred energy.  That may be due in part to the energy that humans put into it. It has been for centuries a holy day among civilisations as disparate as Christian, Pagan & Kemetic. The reverence in which Sundays have been held by so many over so long does make me wonder if perhaps there is something profound and primordial to the resonance it has with us.

Regardless,  I love Sundays and although, I don't practise Christianity,  they are my holy days.  Having a job that often takes me away from home on the weekends has made me cherish them even more. To lie in bed late with a good book,  crank up some evocative music, sip on a hot brew, share brunch with friends or sprawl out beneath a tree or on a beach feels like communion with the Divine and recharges my soul. These rituals are some of my favourite ways to tend to myself. 

Over the last several months as I have immersed myself in starting a business, albeit one based on things that I enjoy, I began to sacrifice more and more self care Feeling overwhelmed, stressed and exhausted were indicators that I was not giving enough to myself. So last Sunday I cancelled plans to work on 'stuff'. I heeded my spirit's call to rest and rejuvenate.

 I also jotted down 7 tips for incorporating
 self care in my daily life ...and not just on
 Sundays. Maybe, they can help you too.

1) Take time before doing anything else
    each morning to meditate & pray.

2) Do one thing each day that brings 
    you joy, whether it be interacting with a
    loved one, watching a comedy, spending
    time in nature or reading a good book.

3) Be willing to ask for help.

4) When anxiety, frustration or any other
     manifestation of fear arises, take 10
    deep breaths and affirm a soothing 
    mantra. One of my favourites is 
    "Om Shanti Om", it's a Sanskrit 
     chant that channels peace.
5)Do something to pamper your body. This
   could include a manicure/pedicure or
  massage at the spa, having your hair
  done, or taking a candle lit bath.

6) Say affirmative things about yourself.
    For eg., "I love you" {while looking in a
    mirror} , "I am doing the best that I can",
    " I am worthy of being surrounded by  
      ease, love, harmony & peace".
7) Give thanks for the things you were
    able to accomplish that day and all
   the good you experienced.

               May we be gentle with ourselves! 


Pile It On!

Minimalist style has many proponents. These adherents are quick to quote Coco Chanel, who supposedly stated that before heading out, a woman should remove one item that she's wearing. The design icon's advice has its merits. However, I think the suggestion oversimplifies things a bit. In my opinion, there is an art to dressing with maximalist prints and accessories. It's hard to break it down in just a sentence or two, which makes me think maybe I should do a special post on that topic. For now, suffice it to say, that when executed well, piling it on can reflect a certain worldly, well-travelled sophistication...think chic anthropologist or Persian princess!

Vitamin Y {as in Yellow!}

This is what I planned to wear to attend the Atlanta Jazz Festival yesterday. Then I changed my mind on going. After a bit of a mishap, I wasn't in an exactly social mood. It was even tempting to close the blinds, dive into bed, curl myself into a ball and cry.  Somehow,  I managed to pick myself up, get dressed and go for a stroll around the neighbourhood. I figured some cheering up was in order. The fresh air, sunny weather AND this yellow romper certainly helped. If you have been following the AM blog, you know about my belief that colours can aid in channeling good vibes. I consider yellow,  especially this citrus shade to be especially effective in shifting the way one feels.  
At least,  it worked for me! 

Romper: Zara
Sandals: Steve Madden
Clutch: Thrifted
Earrings : Cultural Accents {made in Mali}
Necklaces: Ann Taylor Loft,  Brass beaded one  bought at an Atl fest,
  {made in Nigeria}
Bangles: Thrifted {made in India}
Rings: Ann Taylor & Thrifted