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. 

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

23.5.16 Pick: We Should All Be Feminists

For the month of June, is taking a break from fiction by featuring an essay. The book in question is We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of Americanah, Purple Hibiscus and Half Of A Yellow Sun. In this contemplative look at what feminism means and look like for a Modern (African) woman, the irrefutably talented Nigerian writer shares her experiences surrounding the often controversial label. 
The essay, which was adapted from a TedEx speech that Chimamanda gave, provides a glimpse into some significant elements that have contributed to her general outlook and arguably to the stories she tells through the medium of fiction.
Assata & I are giving away a copy of the book to one of our members. 
Here's how you can enter to win:
1) Follow the Instagram page ( @papyrusbookclub) 
2)Subscribe to the Youtube Channel (thepapyrusbookclub)
3)Leave a comment under our last YT book review
Good Luck! 

AM Reads: The Cost of Living

It should have come as no surprise to me that an essay by Arundhati Roy would be emotionally wrenching. Over the years, her prose has captivated me. Hands down, she is one of my favourite writers. Somehow though, I never got around to reading any of her essays. This past week I finally acquainted myself with  some of her non-fiction work vis à vis The Cost of Living and I was left even more enamored with this pen wielding warrior. The Cost of Living is a report on environmental justice in India. Specifically, the essay examines the  history of dams/dam building in India, casting light on the environmental and social costs of the aforementioned. Roy employs extensive research to show how severely the industry hurts both the ethnic communities who are disproportionately made to bear its burden and the environment ravaged in the name of progress. The book provokes questions around whether democracy serves the economically and socially disenfranchised in India (quite often members of darker skinned castes) or if it serves those who are already at an economic and social advantage. It also highlights how connected economics is to politics and furthermore, how institutions such as the World Bank operate in alliance with the financial, political and social elite in the so-called Third World. These are just a few of the topics that Roy’s essay addresses. I believe that what makes it a powerful book is the collision of fact and emotion. This balance  has the effect of illuminating the ugly reality that is dam building, making clear that the activity is a dangerously intrusive one instead of one that is innocuous or beneficial. Roy’s impassioned examination reminded me of how important it is to be socially informed and active both domestically and globally. 


Borrowed from Nehru

Jawaharlal Nehru was a protegé of Mahatma Gandhi and a leader in India's independence movement. The staunch nationalist then became India's first Prime Minister. As with any politician, one can argue for and against his policies and philosophies. Regardless, he will continue to be remembered as an architect of the Indian nation state and its breaking away from the yoke of British colonialism...And he may also be rembered for his crisp style. Pandit Nehru was sometimes seen in an achkan or sherwani, traditional Indian jackets that bore a stand~up (Mandarin) collar. Eventually, a similar jacket was designed and named after him. 

Some time ago, I became a convert of this look, chopping off my shirts' folded down collars to give them a more 'Eastern' effect. Not precisely in the Nehru mode but close enough. Buying them for a few dollars makes this hacking frequent. Here, one is belted and paired with baggy shorts. 

Earrings: Handmade by a jeweller in Atlanta