WHAT

So What Y’all know about being stuck on the couch for 2 days all swollen up and feeling like I had just run a 20 mile marathon when all I did was spend Monday creating and cooking? Now admittedly, I may have been a bit extra. I may have been on my feet for a few hours but I thought I was OK because I was standing still, mostly. The last time I had this bout of extensor tendonitis, cause that’s what Google said it was, was when I decided to walk a mile worth of laps in the pool. This time, I was simply standing at the counter prepping all my fresh veggies and marinades for my healthy meals throughout the week. I had promised myself that I would stick to my goal of eating at home every day this week. In order to accomplish this feat, I had to food prep and cook. Now I might have vaped a little and lost track of the hours I spent on my feet, but I was feeling good…in my mind anyway. See, I had this massive To Do list and I was determined to finish everything I had to do in the kitchen so I could get back to this writing by Tuesday. That was MY plan, but clearly my body rebelled and God colluded with my body by sending rain for two days. As my folks suffering with any Auto Immune disease knows, rainy weather wreaks havoc on your bones, and in some cases your nerves. I woke up Tuesday morning and couldn’t even walk. My left foot felt like someone placed a stinging lump of hot coal on top of it. But, I am glad to say I learned to not spend all day in a pout, angry at my body. This time, I realized my error and accepted that 50+ ain’t like 20-something and maybe cooking is now considered exercise. I always ask God to help me deal with the pain during these episodes and I swear each time the Holy Spirit whispers, “I ain’t tell you to do all that. You’re doing way too much.” I know my Overachievers feel me. This time, I emotionally recovered quickly and even did some self-care by icing my foot and being still. I was a bit disappointed that Wednesday morning brought no relief, but again I figured that the physical healing would come with the next sunny day, today Thursday.So, What this forced immobility caused me to do was to finally add some words to my memoirs. I couldn’t ignore the nudge of the Holy Spirit while stuck on my butt with all of these electronic writing devices at my disposal. I have been talking about this book for the past decade and honestly that’s mostly all I have been doing. I am currently writing the more painful parts of my story and with each word, I realize that the emotional pain is deeper than I care to acknowledge. This realization has caused sudden Carb Cravings, Netflix binge watching, cannabis candy and any other form of procrastination I can think of to delay the word purge. After putting down a couple of chapters I admit it felt cathartic. Now I have just got to keep it going. I figure this time, instead of making broken promises to myself, Imma let the herb do what it do and keep on pushing this book out. This writing challenge has gotten me in the habit of at least writing 250 words a day. Not sure why I never employed this method before, although everyone has told me to. #HardHeaded

So, What I’ve learned is that although cooking is my passion, this is now my writing season. I was watching Joyce Meyer the other day and she was talking about there being a season for everything under the sun. It was then that I finally got it that my writing season was now in session. Instead of me spending excessive time on domestic stuff, I need to spend time on my gift of writing, which someone is waiting on. My other lesson is that I need to get the hell out of the house to write effectively. As much as I would like to think I have gotten more disciplined, I haven’t. Sigh. This is why I’m here at the Wegman’s ,AKA everyone’s home office, knocking out this post to keep up my writing mojo. Just a little glimpse into Wani’s World. Until next time, Be Abundantly Blessed!

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At 50 The Struggle Is Still Real

So, it’s Valentine’s Day and I have been “meaning to” and “about to” start back up Wani’s World for at least a month now.  I turned 50 in December of 2016 and for me that was always some kind of magical deadline when my life would miraculously somehow fall into place.  I mean, I had put in half a century of work right?  But, I quickly found out that even at 50, the struggle is still real.  I know we all have struggles but I feel like my particular struggles might resonate with someone so I guess that is why I have been prompted to share.  My struggles in a nutshell are: Fear, Forgetting my Why and the rollercoaster of waning and gaining self-confidence.

I woke up this morning feeling grateful but a bit ashamed at the pound of ground beef I ate last night, trying to assuage my feelings of guilt for not writing and being productive yesterday.  However, I decided to shake it off and make this a great day.  I prayed, decided to show love to myself and others because after all, it is Valentine’s Day.  All the while, my mind was wrestling with what profound message I wanted to share to explain my lack of presence in the blog world.  I wanted to come up with some grand explanation and how my absence has been filled with intense periods of introspective writing and productivity.  But, as we all know, real life shit is what really happened during my absence. The death of family, friends, my seemingly declining health causing me to stare my mortality in the face, taxes, bills and just dealing with regular life stuff is what really happened.   So, just before I talked myself out of writing anything at all, I was returning from Starbucks and getting on the elevator in my building and this little boy, who looked about 10 years old got on the elevator with me.  He was a cute little boy, unaccompanied by any parent and he simply turned to me and said, Happy Valentine’s Day.  For some reason, that simple gesture just warmed my soul and I felt at that moment God sent me a cheerleader to prompt me to just keep going.  I know it seems simple to most, but sometimes the simplicity  of a kind word goes such a long way in dispelling fear and depression.  I mean, when I got home, I immediately went into worship mode and thanked God profusely for the myriad of blessings that are sent my way daily.  You see, God has been impressing upon me the need to write, not for myself but to help others, for at least a year now.  Yet, for various reasons, that is the one thing that I have not done.  However, despite my disobedience, He continues to send me cheerleaders to let me know that my mission cannot be aborted.   I keep trying to talk myself out of it, and He keeps sending me cheerleaders, in many forms.  A perfect example of this came a couple of Sundays ago in the form of a text from my sister-in-law.

First of all, my sister-in-law and I never text each other and we have not connected in almost a year.  Not because of any animosity, it’s just that we don’t hang like that.  She is actually my sister’s sister-in-law so, we are not that close.  Anyway, I have always respected her as a true woman of God and I am sure she doesn’t even know this but, I have some Bible study notes that I took during her class in 1998 that I still refer to from time to time.  In other words, I know that when she speaks, the anointing is present.  Anyway, I woke up that Sunday with a confused heart, still grappling with my purpose in life, and out of the blue she sent me a text that read. “This is not the time to become distracted.  Stretch your goals.  Be the best you can be.  Watch God move.”  So I replied, trying to make light of it, “Did you wake up knowing that I needed this? LOL” Complete with the grinning face emoji.  “I receive it, Thanks.”  She came right back with “Push. God says you are paralyzed in fear.  Rise above it.  You are greater than you think.”  Dead ass serious.  So I knew this was directly from the Source.  All I could say was, “Got it.”  I was stunned.  I hadn’t revealed to anyone the depth of my fear based paralysis.  I thought my hamster wheel thoughts were only privy to me and perhaps my partner, simply because she lives with me.  Only my Creator could have known that this paralysis was keeping me stuck.

What is so crazy to me, is how I continue to have faith for others but neglect doing the same for myself.  I have been affirming for the past 7 years that: I am an encourager.  I am an edifier.  I am an exhorter.  I am a prayer warrior.  Yet for some reason, I act like these things are not my life’s purpose.  I have also been told many times, that I am a healer and a leader but since I don’t feel like I am leading anyone and I definitely have not healed myself yet, I have shied away from taking on these titles.  I even spent the time and money to become a Reiki Master, but because of that ever present rollercoaster of self-doubt, I haven’t acted upon that either.  I even started, reluctantly, looking for a job, although I know that writing is my new career.  However, I swear, each time I have started looking for a conventional job my health takes a downturn.  It’s almost as if God puts me in a physical position where all I can do is write.  I guess the real issue for me has to do with something I thought that I had conquered.  I thought I had conquered tying my self-worth to my earning ability.  Truth be told, my faith has not reached the point where I can see myself earning a livable wage writing.  Which again sends me on that rollercoaster…you get the gist.

To wrap this all up, I am happy to say that despite all of my pitiful excuses, brushes with death, disobedience and plain old laziness, God still uses me and encourages me daily.  The last few cheerleaders, along with various conversations I have had with folks in the past month have helped me rediscover my Why.  I may not have any profundity to spew, and I surely have not accomplished a quarter of what I wanted to.  However,  I know that regular old me and my life experiences are just enough for someone to gain encouragement from.  For this reason, I jumped up to write this on Valentine’s Day to show someone that loving yourself just where you are, flaws and all is what this day should be about.  So, welcome back to Wani’s World and for any newbies, thank you for visiting.  As always, I wish you all Peace, Blessings and Prosperity! Happy Love Day!

 

Lessons of Freedom through Blogging

One thing I am grateful for is the ability to use this time in my life to heal all aspects of myself. For instance, changing my perception, having a realistic concept of a to do list. I came back from Trinidad all ready to write and share my funny, crazy stories with #wanisworld. However, as always seems to happen at the height of my motivation, distractions came at me from everywhere. Of course this threw me off my game and next thing I know, it’s been over a week and I haven’t posted. We won’t even talk about how much weight I gained. Just coming off a bad carb binge. That good Trini fresh baked bread got me open.

The beauty of blogging though, is that it allows me to enjoy certain freedoms that are aiding in my healing process:

  1. Freedom from self-punishment for not being perfect.
  2. Freedom to change course.

As many of us do, I hold myself to such a strict standard, that I have been re-evaluating my viewpoint of what constitutes a realistic goal. Clearly having 20 things on my daily To Do List is ridiculous. Especially since in all my years of making lists, I can count on one hand the number of lists I actually completed. Despite this, every week my brain tells me to keep hope alive and try this again. LOL Anyway, I am learning to cut myself some slack and take note of what I do accomplish each day. I never seem to take into consideration all the variables that I have no control over, like illness or technical glitches. Perfect example, my partner and I caught some virus on the plane ride back from paradise. I hate that recycled air on the plane, Eww, redistributing all of those germs from the folks hacking and coughing behind us.

Then, when I finally got ready to blog, after my computer decided to cooperate, my hosting company took my website down by mistake! This is after they charged me twice on that old automatic reup scam, even though I opted for a manual renewal. Yeah so, I cancelled and requested a refund. I figured this was time to utilize my freedom to change course, rebrand and return bigger and better.   Since I have to change hosting platforms and redesign the #wanisworld site, I will be offline for 2 weeks. I will also be using this time to complete part one of my memoirs so I can publish next month. My goal is to run #wanisworld like a magazine so I will be working with a web designer to create an aesthetically dynamic site to showcase the articles in the best light possible. Send some prayers up for me during this process that I can stay focused, set realistic goals, unleash this creative flow and achieve spiritual growth throughout the whole thing.

Thank you all for supporting and reading Wani’s World. Peace and Blessings until we return.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PIECES OF WISDOM FOR PROCRASTINATORS PT 1

I attended a conference this past weekend on practical ways to move your dreams into reality and one of the portions involved getting a nugget of wisdom from each of the advisors on the panel.  These are my takeaways from this awesome conference and I wanted to share them with you because I know some of my folks out here in Wani’s World need this push as much as I did.  
 DON’T BE A FLAT SQUIRREL. The world is full of dead squirrels that couldn’t make up their mind while crossing the road. You know how you always see squirrels dart out in front of your car and then they suddenly change their mind and dart back to safety? Well many of those squirrels end up as roadkill because they hesitated too long to get back to safety or they decided to wait until the oncoming car was too close to stop before they ran out. This often happens in life to chronic procrastinators. Opportunities are meant to be seized and delaying taking action will make us miss those open doors. This can mean lost revenue, in the case of business, or even a lost life, when we are talking about taking care of our health. “A double-minded man is unstable in all of his ways”, is how it is stated in the Bible. (James 1:8) Even if you make a wrong decision, just make a decision and stick with it. This is far better than doing nothing or putting it off indefinitely. Don’t get caught up with Analysis Paralysis, Just Do It!

 AN EXCUSE IS A LIE DISGUISED AS A REASON. When I heard this nugget, I had to sit back and say “Whoa!” This is so true, at least in my own case. Whenever I really don’t WANT to do something, I can come up with at least 10 excuses as to why I CAN’T. They all sound legit, at least in my own mind anyway. My excuses usually mean one of two things, either I should never have committed to something in the first place or I simply don’t desire to put in the effort. For instance, if I was told they were giving away $20K and I just had to make my way out to the Eastern Shore by 8am…I would have my ass up by 3am, clutching my heart, moving my arthritic limbs and all, happily heading to collect my cash! It’s all about the motivation for real. Now, every time I start collecting the thoughts in my mind to release an excuse from my mouth, I pause and recall this statement.

 REMEMBER YOUR WHY. My gifts and purpose are not for me and therefore I have no right to procrastinate and keep people from receiving what I have been put on earth to share. Since I have already faced two of my fears, the death of my Mother and suffering a heart attack, my final fear is to die and have to answer to God why I did not fulfill my purpose. I have always known that I was blessed with being a good writer, I knew that this was God’s gift to me. What I recently learned was that this gift was placed in me to help others, not for me to hoard just to get A’s in school. So now that I have this knowledge, I am responsible to act accordingly. I have heard this statement before, “What is your why?”, but I never really was confident that the” why” I had in my gut was actually valuable. Now I know. I have no doubt that somewhere in Internet land are readers that need to hear my perspective on things and this may even save a life.

 DON’T SIT ON YOUR PASSION, GOD WILL MULTIPLY YOUR GIFTS OR TAKE THEM AWAY ALTOGETHER. Jesus told the Parable of the Talents (Matt 25:14-30) where  each servant was given a number of talents to be stewards of while the Master went away. Stewardship of these talents consisted of investing them wisely so they would prove profitable to the Master upon his return. All of the servants that were given multiple talents invested them wisely and were blessed with even more talents when the time came to report to the Master. However, the servant with only 1 talent was lazy and never invested his talents, therefore he never reaped a profit. The Master was furious with him, called him out on his laziness and then took the little bit of talent he had and gave it to the servant that had the most talents. The Bible is speaking of money but I am speaking of literal talents here to portray my point, it is the same principle. The longer we sit on our gifts, the greater the risk of our lives getting away from us and we never utilize these gifts for their Divinely intended purpose. The other adage that says “use it or lose it”, applies here too. Times change and abilities wane or certain talents become obsolete and opportunities are lost simply because we took too long to act.

I can’t let this be me…Don’t let it be you either! The incentive for me is the promise of multiplication of my blessings if I work with what I already have. Which is partly the reason I have a fire lit under me to push through the obstacles, both physical and emotional, to continue chronicling what goes on in Wani’s World. What gifts do you have that the world can use? If this resonates with you, please feel free to leave comments on what you will do right now to leave your mark on this earth. Until the next post, Peace and Blessings!

PIECES OF WISDOM FOR PROCRASTINATORS PT 1

I attended a conference this past weekend which offered practical advice on taking your business goals from dreams to reality.  One of the portions gave each panelist a chance to share a nugget of wisdom that would best convey their philosophy regarding business ethic and entrepreneurship.  These are my takeaways from the advice given and I wanted to share them with all my people.  I know that I am not the only one who may need these reminders and some of them were fresh takes on things we already know.  Enjoy…
 DON’T BE A FLAT SQUIRREL. The world is full of dead squirrels that couldn’t make up their mind while crossing the road. You know how you always see squirrels dart out in front of your car and then they suddenly change their mind and dart back to safety? Well many of those squirrels end up as roadkill because they hesitated too long to get back to safety or they decided to wait until the oncoming car was too close to stop before they ran out. This often happens in life to chronic procrastinators. Opportunities are meant to be seized and delaying taking action will make us miss those open doors. This can mean lost revenue, in the case of business, or even a lost life, when we are talking about taking care of our health. “A double-minded man is unstable in all of his ways”, is how it is stated in the Bible. (James 1:8) Even if you make a wrong decision, just make a decision and stick with it. This is far better than doing nothing or putting it off indefinitely. Don’t get caught up with Analysis Paralysis, Just Do It!

 AN EXCUSE IS A LIE DISGUISED AS A REASON. When I heard this nugget, I had to sit back and say “Whoa!” This is so true, at least in my own case. Whenever I really don’t WANT to do something, I can come up with at least 10 excuses as to why I CAN’T. They all sound legit, at least in my own mind anyway. My excuses usually mean one of two things, either I should never have committed to something in the first place or I simply don’t desire to put in the effort. For instance, if I was told they were giving away $20K and I just had to make my way out to the Eastern Shore by 8am…I would have my ass up by 3am, clutching my heart, moving my arthritic limbs and all, happily heading to collect my cash! It’s all about the motivation for real. Now, every time I start collecting the thoughts in my mind to release an excuse from my mouth, I pause and recall this statement.

 REMEMBER YOUR WHY. My gifts and purpose are not for me and therefore I have no right to procrastinate and keep people from receiving what I have been put on earth to share. Since I have already faced two of my fears, the death of my Mother and suffering a heart attack, my final fear is to die and have to answer to God why I did not fulfill my purpose. I have always known that I was blessed with being a good writer, I knew that this was God’s gift to me. What I recently learned was that this gift was placed in me to help others, not for me to hoard just to get A’s in school. So now that I have this knowledge, I am responsible to act accordingly. I have heard this statement before, “What is your why?”, but I never really was confident that the” why” I had in my gut was actually valuable. Now I know. I have no doubt that somewhere in Internet land are readers that need to hear my perspective on things and this may even save a life.

 DON’T SIT ON YOUR PASSION, GOD WILL MULTIPLY YOUR GIFTS OR TAKE THEM AWAY ALTOGETHER. Jesus told the Parable of the Talents (Matt 25:14-30) where essentially each servant was given a number of talents to be stewards of while the Master went away. Stewardship of these talents consisted of investing them wisely so they would prove profitable to the Master upon his return. All of the servants that were given multiple talents invested them wisely and were blessed with even more talents when the time came to report to the Master. However, the servant with only 1 talent was lazy and never invested his talents, therefore he never reaped a profit. The Master was furious with him, called him out on his laziness and then took the little bit of talent he had and gave it to the servant that had the most talents. The Bible is speaking of money but I am speaking of literal talents here to portray my point, it is the same principle. The longer we sit on our gifts, the greater the risk of our lives getting away from us and we never utilize these gifts for their Divinely intended purpose. The other adage that says “use it or lose it”, applies here too. Times change and abilities wane or certain talents become obsolete and opportunities are lost simply because we took too long to act.

I can’t let this be me…Don’t let it be you either! The incentive for me is the promise of multiplication of my blessings if I work with what I already have. Which is partly the reason I have a fire lit under me to push through the obstacles, both physical and emotional, to continue chronicling what goes on in Wani’s World. What gifts do you have that the world can use? If this resonates with you, please feel free to leave comments on what you will do right now to leave your mark on this earth. Until the next post, Peace and Blessings!

Kiretha Pratt: Artist Evolution

This month, I wanted to highlight some people, mostly creative spirits, that I find inspiring because of their gifts and hustler mentality. Many of us dream about “stepping out on faith” and pursuing our God given talents and entrepreneurial dreams, but for various reasons few of us succeed. The human-interest subjects that I have chosen to highlight in this series are people that literally started with a dream, limited funds and massive faith to create a path to their dream life. I find that the common denominator in many successful people is evidence of a spiritual journey that is interwoven with their route to career success, and these are the types of questions that I delve into during my interviews with each person. First up, let me introduce Kiretha Pratt, phenomenal visual artist and actress.

I first met Kiretha back in 2007, when I committed to doing a play entitled Girl Talk. The play was about a church affiliated book club where the topics discussed were about much more than the assigned book. I played a character, which was a lesbian friend of one of the regular members and was invited to participate in the book club. One night after rehearsal, one of the young ladies that was helping out backstage came up to me and introduced herself as Kiretha, a budding actress and a Believer. She specifically wanted to know if the character I portrayed was how I viewed myself in real life, and I said, “Yes, I am unapologetically Christian and openly gay”. I gave her my info and we agreed to stay in touch. I loved her bold and candid approach in asking me about such a taboo subject, so she intrigued me. I also figured that this was not a “chance meeting”, since I believe that everyone in my life is placed there by Divine order.

The thing that I have always admired about Kiretha is her joy; despite her circumstances, she always gets back to that place of joy. She has dealt with homelessness, betrayal, devastating loss, and a multitude of life’s other challenges, but every time I see her, she is filled with joy and gratitude. Celebration, spirituality and empowerment are the words that leap into my mind when I view Kiretha’s pieces and I wanted to delve into the journey that birthed such beauty.

Another quality that I admire about Kiretha is her constantly evolving style. I feel like one of the things that showcase a person’s spiritual growth is their sense of personal style. Kiretha is so talented at taking the simplest of materials and thrift store finds to craft bohemian ensembles that thoroughly convey the quirkiness of her personality. Every time I see this Queen, she represents pure artistry from the stunning hair colors and styles to her unique accessories. When I arrived to interview her early on Sunday morning, she did not disappoint, greeting me with her bubbly demeanor wearing some beautiful African print harem pants topped by a burgundy knit tank. Her fashionably shaved head was coiffed with grey silky locs and since we were comfortably at her home, no shoes were needed. I love her Afrocentric Boho Chic style from head to toe.

Who is Kiretha Pratt, the artist? She defines herself as “ an optimist, a healer, a lover, childlike, affectionate, passionate, open to life and open to accepting new things and being compassionate towards people.” Being open to learning new things, such as Kemetic history and other spiritual beliefs besides orthodox Christianity has, in her opinion, allowed her art to become more robust. Expanding her consciousness caused her to give more depth to her subject matter and express her passion for seeing the beauty in everyone. “ I see things in people that they may not see in themselves and I want to bring that out in them. I am a believer of others, and that’s art within itself, loving people, seeing the beauty in others.”

Kiretha’s initial supporter of her creativity was her Mother, Sylena Pratt. “My Mom always bought me art supplies to encourage my creativity, even though I always made a mess. LOL She would threaten to stop buying me things like colored sand or beads, but she never did. That was true love, her belief in me was her way of showing true love. She always kept me in dance class or any activity that allowed me to explore my artistic side, and I always wondered why she used to do that, but now I know it was because she saw something in me, she believed in me.”

Kiretha experienced horrible tragedy as a teen in 2002, when her Mother was killed accidentally while crossing the street on Christmas Eve. She was 15 at the time and the experience left her numb with grief, which also numbed her creative gifts. Her father passed away when she was 11, so this loss left her to navigate life alone. “I had to learn to live at 15 and I went through some shit. I stayed away from painting for 12 years because the last thing that I wanted to do was something to remind me that my Mom wasn’t physically present. “   During this difficult period, Kiretha became involved with the creative arts ministry at a prominent local church where she was able to exercise her acting gifts and keep some creative juices flowing. Meanwhile, she also began dealing with her burgeoning sexuality, simply put she discovered she liked women. Unfortunately, this got out to the well-meaning “church folk” who considered it sinful behavior and publicly shamed her.

This very un-Jesus-like behavior emotionally scarred her towards “church folk” and a relationship with the punishing God she had been taught about. “The God I was taught about in church was an evil God, I was motivated by fear. I was always walking on eggshells with God. They always talked about being perfectly flawed, but you really couldn’t be flawed and not be shamed.” The major difference in her belief system now is the freedom to be exactly who she is without condemnation. “Now I feel free! The God I serve now makes me feel protected. When you really decide to take that leap of faith to learn about God for yourself, that’s the real leap of faith. The God I serve now, I feel like I can go to about anything. I like this God.”

We have had so many candid conversations about how she came to learn God for herself, on her own terms and how different God is from what she was taught. Even uncertainty about the concepts of the Trinity and organized religion does not keep us from really knowing God, simply because God uniquely connects to each and every person on this planet in the way that is most beneficial and effective for that individual. I believe that Kiretha’s constant pursuit of God and acceptance of herself is what led to this being her appointed time to show the world her skills.

By developing her personal spiritual practices, like meditation, connecting with her tribal rhythms at the Malcolm X Park Drum Circle and above all, constant prayer, Kiretha has released her Divine gifts. That spiritual light burst through and manifested in an explosion of artistic expression!

Moving to Baltimore in 2015 proved to be the catalyst that reignited her return to her first love of fine visual art. Being surrounded by a community of artists reminded Kiretha of her own gifts and she desired to see what she could do. “It was kind of like a Divine tap that said, Kiretha don’t forget this is your gift, don’t forget this is what used to make you happy.” So she took the time to relearn her craft and stepped out on faith and simply created her own lane.

At the core of Kiretha’s being, she is a true Hustler and Survivor. Instead of Jack of all Trades, I like to call her the Queen of the Art Hustle because she is one of the few women I know who is actually sustaining herself through faith in her artistic abilities. Kiretha is a woman of many passions and talents; painting, acting, photography, clothing designer, model and hair stylist…she does quite a few things, and does them very well.

“I wanted to be able to have complete control of my life and being artist gave me that ability. Art has always been a part of my life so decided to pursue it as a career. I also have a passion for teaching people about nutrition and exercise.” Her future goals include opening a facility for homeless singles and an art space for others to explore their creativity.

Being the music lover that I am, I was curious to know what artists get Kiretha in the zone to create. “I like Beyoncé, Chance the Rapper, Future, PARTYNEXTDOOR, Bas, FKA Twigs, Erykah Badu, The Hics. I like a mixture of HipHop, R&B, jazz, anything that gets me there. If I can imagine myself in the video, I can be a little hood, I can be a little gangsta, you know, that’s what I like.”

Kiretha’s images celebrate the unique strength and beauty of the feminine form. The vibrant colors and brilliant layers to each piece celebrate the majesty and multi-hued beauty of the women of the diaspora. The joy that flows from her soul onto the canvas is indicative of the passion she puts into her work. “I paint women because I appreciate them. When people see my paintings they gravitate towards them because they appreciate them, and that is something I desire. I am a woman and I thought I was supposed to be appreciated. I feel like Black women are the most disrespected people on the planet, and since I am one, I know what it feels like to want respect. I want Black women to know how beautiful they are in their many colors. I paint out of my own hurt and desire for respect.”

Creation is a very emotional experience and she feels very connected to each piece. “It’s a struggle to part with my art once I create it, I really don’t like to sell it and I pray that when I do sell it, it goes to the person that it was created for. Selling commissioned paintings feel a bit different because it means that someone has trusted me with creating art for them.”

Kiretha has been getting booked for art shows and selling her commissioned paintings for wages that are representative of her worth. She has showcased and painted live at various art events in the DMV area. Her talent even piqued the attention of the internationally acclaimed RAW Artists organization.  Kiretha Pratt is destined for greatness and I know that her testimony and heart for her community will compel her to reach back and tell her story to other youth in her situation. God always gives Beauty for Ashes and Kiretha is a perfect example of this. I declare that with talent like hers, Kiretha will soon be known as one of this generation’s great contemporary African American female artists.

 

THE LEADERSHIP LIFE; IT’S ALL ABOUT SERVICE

Ever since I entered the workforce as a teenager, I have known that I am supposed to be a leader in some capacity. I never wanted to lead in the military or in corporate America, partly because of fear of failure and partly because I didn’t feel comfortable conforming to such conservative standards. I have always called myself a boss, with grand visions of running my own non-profit that makes a large profit but I guess it’s not my time yet. At least judging from my current bank account. LOL. Anyway, I don’t believe that anything is sheer coincidence and after deciding to pursue my passions back in 2010, I have been gathering knowledge on becoming a boss for real.
I became aware of this Global Leadership Summit back in 2012, while attending Bridgeway Community Church in Columbia. I was intrigued because the speakers were revered leaders from all areas of business, entertainment and the spiritual community. One of the things I love about BCC is it’s commitment to community service and they encourage their attendees to get involved in service as a way of living out personal spiritual practices. I’m down with that so I volunteered to serve on the Registration Team. I love engaging with people and this is a fast paced duty where I am on my feet and never bored. The perk of serving in this capacity is that once registration is over, we get to attend the summit and soak up all of this wisdom that hundreds of people pay hundreds of dollars for. I figured that this opportunity is God preparing me for my future TED talk or whatever platform I am given to encourage others with my stories. Y’all know I got stories…so many stories. So, although I am a leader in preparation, the principles of leadership are applicable in both the preparation and implementation stages, making this #GLS event a valuable resource.
Anyway, I have learned so much over the past few years from both the BCC team and the GLS speakers. The 2015 faculty included Ed Catmull, the Academy award winning president of Pixar Animation Studios, who really inspired me to continue blogging. Catmull explained his views on how fitting art and science together through great storytelling can change and improve the world. He explained how storytellers are the world changers because stories are how we communcate with each other and how we can connect through the emotions of a great story. I had never thought of the importance of my “gift of gab” until he broke it down that way. The lightbulb came on for me as to why people get engrossed in a good book or a well crafted movie, such as Inside Out, because of the universal ability to relate to the story. This was also my turning point to think of my storytelling ability as a service to the world, not just amusement for my friends and family. He ending his session by stating a variation of words that I had been praying for many years, “Use your stories for Good”. As a child, I took pride in telling some fantastic lies, and I thrived on being a petty criminal. Once I got older and grew a conscience, I used to ask God to change me and to use my “powers” for good. I took this a confirmation that I am on the right track with Wani’s World and my current authoring goals.

This year, one of the speakers that I was impressed by was Melinda Gates. She spoke about how the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation effectively serves women in developing nations from a perspective that is not really talked about, particularly in religious settings. She explained how one of the principles of leadership, especially when you are claiming to serve an underserved population, is the need to actually LISTEN to what the people want to be provided with. What is really going to serve their best interests instead of what Western thinking assumes is necessary. She learned, much to her surprise, what women in developing countries want is female centered birth control, such as Depo-provera shots. While sitting down with women in Africa and India, she learned that condoms are not effective because of the stigma attached to them. Women often cannot ask men to use condoms because of the assumption that if a condom has to be used then they will be accused of having AIDS or they think the man has AIDS. Also, in many countries women have no control over when or how they have sex, because they are considered powerless. Having control over the timing of their pregnancies by using birth control without their husbands knowing is an important part of empowerment for them. The option to not have babies back to back has improved the suvivability rate of both the mothers and children. Apparently there used to be wide access to Depo-provera shots that has been taken away in exchange for the widespread availability of condoms, to supposedly stem AIDS. This was so enlightening to me, how important it is to serve others through the lens of reality and not Western ideas of morality. Melinda Gates grew up Catholic so she explained that it was a struggle for her to even speak out for birth control and how she eventually realized that in this instance, it was God’s will for her to use her resources to serve in this way.
My final takeaway from her talk was that unfortunately, there is so much more that can be done by so many more celebrities and millionaire business owners. She mentioned how Warren Buffet was the one to give her the idea of coordinating a group of millionaires, both believers and non-believers, to fund charitable efforts that would impact the world greatly. It’s so crazy how many of us, especially in America, have a multitude of resources that we amass over a lifetime and we can’t take them with us when we die, yet we don’t even think of donating even a small portion of it to less fortunate communities. Umm, rappers and Ballers I’m looking right at you. I mean how many Jordan’s and Bugatti’s can you own, and really enjoy? We have got to do better folks. For real though. But, that’s another post, for now I am looking forward to tomorrow’s lesson at the #GLS2016. Hope your day was productive, Stay Prayed Up!

The Leadership Life; It’s All About Service

Ever since I entered the workforce as a teenager, I have known that I am supposed to be a leader in some capacity. I never wanted to lead in the military or in corporate America, partly because of fear of failure and partly because I didn’t feel comfortable conforming to such conservative standards. I have always called myself a boss, with grand visions of running my own non-profit that makes a large profit but I guess it’s not my time yet. At least judging from my current bank account. LOL. Anyway, I don’t believe that anything is sheer coincidence and after deciding to pursue my passions back in 2010, I have been gathering knowledge on becoming a boss for real.
I became aware of this Global Leadership Summit back in 2012, while attending Bridgeway Community Church in Columbia. I was intrigued because the speakers were revered leaders from all areas of business, entertainment and the spiritual community. One of the things I love about BCC is it’s commitment to community service and they encourage their attendees to get involved in service as a way of living out personal spiritual practices. I’m down with that so I volunteered to serve on the Registration Team. I love engaging with people and this is a fast paced duty where I am on my feet and never bored. The perk of serving in this capacity is that once registration is over, we get to attend the summit and soak up all of this wisdom that hundreds of people pay hundreds of dollars for. I figured that this opportunity is God preparing me for my future TED talk or whatever platform I am given to encourage others with my stories. Y’all know I got stories…so many stories. So, although I am a leader in preparation, the principles of leadership are applicable in both the preparation and implementation stages, making this #GLS event a valuable resource.
Anyway, I have learned so much over the past few years from both the BCC team and the GLS speakers. The 2015 faculty included Ed Catmull, the Academy award winning president of Pixar Animation Studios, who really inspired me to continue blogging. Catmull explained his views on how fitting art and science together through great storytelling can change and improve the world. He explained how storytellers are the world changers because stories are how we communcate with each other and how we can connect through the emotions of a great story. I had never thought of the importance of my “gift of gab” until he broke it down that way. The lightbulb came on for me as to why people get engrossed in a good book or a well crafted movie, such as Inside Out, because of the universal ability to relate to the story. This was also my turning point to think of my storytelling ability as a service to the world, not just amusement for my friends and family. He ending his session by stating a variation of words that I had been praying for many years, “Use your stories for Good”. As a child, I took pride in telling some fantastic lies, and I thrived on being a petty criminal. Once I got older and grew a conscience, I used to ask God to change me and to use my “powers” for good. I took this a confirmation that I am on the right track with Wani’s World and my current authoring goals.

This year, one of the speakers that I was impressed by was Melinda Gates. She spoke about how the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation effectively serves women in developing nations from a perspective that is not really talked about, particularly in religious settings. She explained how one of the principles of leadership, especially when you are claiming to serve an underserved population, is the need to actually LISTEN to what the people want to be provided with. What is really going to serve their best interests instead of what Western thinking assumes is necessary. She learned, much to her surprise, what women in developing countries want is female centered birth control, such as Depo-provera shots. While sitting down with women in Africa and India, she learned that condoms are not effective because of the stigma attached to them. Women often cannot ask men to use condoms because of the assumption that if a condom has to be used then they will be accused of having AIDS or they think the man has AIDS. Also, in many countries women have no control over when or how they have sex, because they are considered powerless. Having control over the timing of their pregnancies by using birth control without their husbands knowing is an important part of empowerment for them. The option to not have babies back to back has improved the suvivability rate of both the mothers and children. Apparently there used to be wide access to Depo-provera shots that has been taken away in exchange for the widespread availability of condoms, to supposedly stem AIDS. This was so enlightening to me, how important it is to serve others through the lens of reality and not Western ideas of morality. Melinda Gates grew up Catholic so she explained that it was a struggle for her to even speak out for birth control and how she eventually realized that in this instance, it was God’s will for her to use her resources to serve in this way.
My final takeaway from her talk was that unfortunately, there is so much more that can be done by so many more celebrities and millionaire business owners. She mentioned how Warren Buffet was the one to give her the idea of coordinating a group of millionaires, both believers and non-believers, to fund charitable efforts that would impact the world greatly. It’s so crazy how many of us, especially in America, have a multitude of resources that we amass over a lifetime and we can’t take them with us when we die, yet we don’t even think of donating even a small portion of it to less fortunate communities. Umm, rappers and Ballers I’m looking right at you. I mean how many Jordan’s and Bugatti’s can you own, and really enjoy? We have got to do better folks. For real though. But, that’s another post, for now I am looking forward to tomorrow’s lesson at the #GLS2016. Hope your day was productive, Stay Prayed Up!

My Caribana 2016 Trip: Cayonne Legacy Coming Full Circle

 

So, this past weekend I got to check off another long time item on my God Box list. My God Box consists of items that I long for but don’t see any realistic way for them to come to fruition, so I leave them in the box and let God handle them supernaturally.

I met my father, John Cayonne, back in 1993 after an unlikely encounter at the Baltimore Caribbean Carnival celebration. My mother had told me very little about him and their relationship, but she did mention that she met him while singing with La Petit Musicale, a prestigious group of folk singers formed originally in Trinidad. This particular group had actually come to perform at Carnival that year and many of the members looked to be around my mother’s age or older and I wondered if that could possibly be the same group of singers. My sister, Jiku, was with me and she was like, “Wouldn’t it be crazy if your father was here and you could meet him?”. I was a bit reluctant because I really didn’t know anything about him except his name and my experiences up to that point with father figures had not been the greatest. Anyway, she dragged me up to the stage area and Mama tagged along, also reluctantly I guess based upon their relationship. Once we got to the stage my sister asked one of the group members if he knew where Johnny Cayonne was and when the man looked at me, it was like he saw a ghost. I immediately knew that I must look like my father. He explained that he didn’t make it that year because he was sick but that once the group returned to Toronto, he would relay the message and my information to him. My mother gave him our number and let him know we would be awaiting the phone call. The next evening the phone rang and my mother answered, I heard her say, quite coldly, “ Hello, remember when you gave me money to have that abortion? Well, I never had it, hold on.” She handed me the phone very unceremoniously and walked away. WTF?

So, I took the phone and my father was chuckling on the other end. He said he knew this would happen one day and that I probably had other brothers or sisters that he didn’t even know about around the world. We laughed and agreed to keep in touch and he told me that he lived in Toronto and I had 3 sisters, one older and 2 younger and a brother. He sent me pictures and I even made it up to Toronto to meet them in person later that year. He tried to open up a relationship with me but since I was scarred from my stepfather’s abuse, I really didn’t know how to relate to a man, especially a father. My older sister, Yveanna, became my go between as communicator and eventually she told me that my father got ill, had a stroke and no longer remembered me. So I stopped trying to keep up the relationship.

Over the years, I wondered what happened to my other siblings but it seemed like the family was irreparably fractured, at least from her point of view and I lost touch.  After Yveanna passed away in 2012, I longed for a connection to my siblings because it seemed like there was always a missing piece to my family background. I followed my brother, an actor,on social media and wondered about my sisters. The idea of a close family is dear to me and since I never had kids, I always fancied myself the family connector. I placed my request for a family reunion of the Cayonne side of the family in my God Box back in 2010 and I guess the timing was finally right for it all to come together.

So about last weekend, the whole Caribana experience was awesome! I had always wanted to experience Caribana ever since I found out that my father was one of the founders of this significant cultural event. I am in the process of writing my memoirs and I thought it would be so fabulous to see where I get my love of pageantry and Trinidadian culture from.

After learning of his creative and artistic history, I figured it was literally in my DNA. The bonus of the trip was getting to hang out with my sisters Ramona and Juanita, who also solidified my belief in gifts and interests being passed through the bloodline. First of all, the foodie thing runs real strong in this bunch! Whether cooking, eating or both…we all love some food. The other commonalities are these intuitive gifts and being drawn to spiritual practices. It’s so crazy how we did not grow up together but we share many personality traits and interests, the good and the not so good. I was actually comforted to know that I do have siblings that share my eccentricity because my brothers and sisters that I grew up with always tease me for being quite different from them. I guess I take a lot from my father’s side including his looks and career aspirations. My mother was more the practical one and my father was the artistic one, I clearly lean toward the artistic unconventional spectrum. I once asked my Mother why she never pushed me towards a particular career and she answered that she assumed that I would pursue the arts like my father. Although she never told me about his acting, writing, singing or artwork, I guess she figured it would come naturally to me. After reading his rich history, I see why she said that. One of my regrets is that I never pursued dance or theater because I really loved it. I always say that if I had my life to do over, I would be a choreographer. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that was one of my father’s talents as well. The other crazy thing is I was always drawn to holistic healing and metaphysical beliefs and I found out that he was into all of that as well. Apparently he had natural spiritual gifts that allowed him to manipulate plants with his mind. I’m still working on my gifts, I wonder if I can manipulate my bank account to add some commas and zeros to that joint?

Once again I am in awe of God’s timing and sense of humor. All my life I jokingly claimed my love of Weed, Women and Song, and apparently I couldn’t help my habits if I tried. LOL. I’m not sure about the weed thing for my father but the other two, most definitely. I always felt scattered because I could never decide on which artistic talent or spiritual gift to pursue. I thought that it was impossible to really possess such diverse interests and be a sane individual. I wish that I was able to get to know him so I could form my own opinion of my father, but I can’t question God’s Divine timing. It has worked out for the best because I now have a relationship with my beautiful sisters and nieces. I have so much more to tell but I’ll save that for the book. Suffice it to say that I am looking forward to my Trinidad trip this October so I can put all of the genealogy pieces of the puzzle together. Check my Facebook and Instagram feeds for pictures, I am still learning the mechanics of WordPress when adding to the blog page. Until next time, Peace and Blessings!