Shanti Goes To Paris (Part 1) The Great Escape

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I have been wanting to share my experience in Paris for a while now. I have started many posts only to stop because they didn’t feel authentic enough. I felt like I was being fake and the content I was creating was not mine but a carbon copy of everyone else’s picture perfect travel pics which consist of a cute outfit and a picturesque back drop with some remote location posted with hashtags #travelnoire #travel #runningoutofpagesonmypassport 

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed Paris. I made sure to see all of the touristy sites. I ate well. I took pictures. I tried to look cute. But those were not the most important parts of Paris to me. What was most important was what drove me there. What went on within me internally while there. And what I carry with me continuously now that I have returned. I wrote a lot in my journal during my 8 days so I figured rather than create posts that are superficial, I’d share you all the real deal knowing that we are going through the same things. What’s there to hide?


 

The Great Escape

Fuck it, I’m going to Paris.

I bought a ticket to Paris because I feel as if I am riding on a wave of good luck and freedom.

So what if I just quit my job and I ain’t got another one waiting.

So what I just got into a car accident and now I don’t have anything.

The insurance company just cut me a check which will hopefully carry me over for another month until I have to dip into my savings

which I am praying will continue to save me

until I find my stability

in this new freedom

loving stride

I’m swaying

because Got damn it

I feel free.


I’m in a new place in my life.

I’ve dropped my attachments to a man who at one time I’d drop everything for.

For him

I’d drop my plans,

another call,

my panties,

my dignity,

my pride.

I’ve left a job that sucked the life out of me.

Monotony.

Negativity.

Absolutely no

creativity.

I can’t sell my soul for money.
I can’t limit my life because it’s safe.

I can’t wait.

So I’m buying a ticket to Paris.

   

Travel Guide for the Carefree + Black in PARIS

 
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Once I booked my ticket to Paris, I made sure to hit up Kristin Braswell from Crush Global for some advice on what to do and where to go while there. She offered me this really sweet travel guide for the carefree black girl in Paris.

 
“The days when we walked through Les Halles singing, loving every inch of France and loving each other … the jam sessions in Pigalle, the nights spent smoking hashish in the Arab cafes, the morning which found us telling dirty stories, true stories, sad and earnest stories, in gray working men’s cafes.” – James Baldwin


MORNING

What’s a day in Paris without a perfect patisserie visit? Here are two to start your day
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This almond chocolate croissant soaked in butter and sprinkled with sugar made me weak. I sat on a dirty stoop in the middle of a busy street and made out with it slowly, tenderly and oh so gratefully. 

1. Du Pain Et Des Idees
Grab a pistachio snail and rose croissant from here. You will not be sorry. 
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34 rue Yves Toudic 75010 Paris
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For brunch head to 2. West African restaurant Le Nilaja
17, rue de la Forge Royale
75011 Paris
 

EARLY AFTERNOON

Yes, the Louvre is all the rage, but Paris has exhibits that will blow your mind far more than Mona Lisa’s smirk. 

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Spend your afternoon at one of the museums below:
 
1.  Grand Palais – On Exhibition is Photographer Seydou Keita
I fell so deeply in love with the way the Malian photographer blended the props of the West such as vespers, cigarette holders and three piece suits. If you are in the city of Paris, you must go check this exhibit out!
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LATE AFTERNOON

You’re going to want to people watch, and you might be a bit hungry again today. And that’s perfect for you, because Paris is one of the best cities in the world for picnics. It is a pasttime enjoyed by Parisians all over the city, near the Seine River, under the Eiffel Tower, and in flower clad gardens that look like a fairytale.

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For your picnic, you’ll be heading to Parcs des Buttes Chaumont in the 19th arrondissiment. Pick up some cheese from Pascal Beillicaire (http://www.fromagerie-beillevaire.com/) and a crusty baguette from any nearby bakery. There is also a wine shop near the park called L’epicerie 104. Bring a book, bring the joy of peace. This park is just beautiful.

If you prefer not to picnic, Bastille Market is a great place to buy a little bit of everything and people watch. Get there early for the poulet roti (roasted chicken). The French don’t play when it comes to a good, grilled bird. 
 
EVENING

If you want to dine with the locals, head to Chez Janous. It’s a quintessential bistro where you’ll feel lucky to grab a seat and have an affordable meal. My favorite place to eat? An unassuming restaurant called John Viande, with pasta and cocktails that are unforgettable. 
 
For a pinch me, I’m in Paris moment: Stand under the eiffel tower at night. Far less tourists. Far more magic. 
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Thank you Kristen for the wondering tips and sources!

Follow

CrushGlobal on Instagram and Twitter @crushglobal

 If you are preparing for travel and interested in a more curated experience, including a few surprises and a very local experience, email contact@crushglobaltravel.com

 

 

“With Love”

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Antoinette’s story behind her new album “With Love” is nothing short of amazing. It is a story of trust. It is an example of what magic can come from trusting that God, the universe, fate (or whatever you want to call it) is always ready for us, always presenting opportunities to us and all we need do is show up as best we can.  Nearly two years ago, Antoinette called me with an amazing story to share….

One Friday night, Antoinette was serving tables at the Jazz venue Dizzy’s  as she did every weekend. On this particular weekend the great jazz vocalist  Kim Nalley was performing. 

Somehow Antoinette and Kim had  graduated from the required role play of  “How are you? What can I get you to drink?” to more personal conversation and Antoinette revealed to Kim that she was an aspiring jazz vocalist. Nonchalantly, Kim told Antoinette that she would invite Antoinette on stage some time during Kim’s set to sing a song and advised Antoinette to be ready when she was called up.  Antoinette thought that was highly unlikely and assumed Kim was just being nice because what established jazz vocalist invites some “nobody” unto the stage to share her shine? 

Nonetheless, Antoinette prepared herself just in case Ms. Kim was serious. She practiced in the bathroom that Friday night but Kim didn’t call her up. She practiced Saturday morning before work. Saturday night passed. Kim hadn’t called her up. Sunday night came and lo and behold’ Kim called her up to stage and to Antoinette’s surprise she indeed did not want to share the stage with Antoinette, she wanted to give the whole stage to Antoinette for herself. Antoinette shed her waitress apron and stepped unto the stage and sang. Although scared, she gave it all she had. 

Here is video from that very night.

Unbeknownst to Antoinette,  there was a man in the audience that would fulfill one of her greatest desires. Everyone at Dizzy’s was familiar with him. He was quiet, sweet, tipped well and had a peculiar affinity for Fiji water (which Antoinette took incredibly seriously often running to nearby stores to get him The Fiji water if the restaurant was out of it). He became what we affectionally call in the restaurant biz as “a regular”. On this Friday night, after Antoinette performed, he whispered in her ear “I want to pay for you to make an album”. The rest is history.

No, he wasn’t a sugar daddy, no there were no strings attached. He was just an extremely wealthy man who simply wanted to use his wealth to help young, talented people follow their dreams (yeah, those types of wealthy people exist). He financed Antoinette’s entire album.

Produced by the incredibily talented bassist Christian McBride, Antoinette has created an album with selected jazz standards about love performed “her way”.

The Making of “With Love”

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I recently went to see Antoinette perform at her album release party and I was struck by my best friend. I saw her in a way I had never seen her before. Onstage, I saw her stretched and expanded in her greatest artistic form.

My God, the impressions we can make when we push past fear and step forth into the boundlessness of our life’s purpose. My God, the inspiration we spark when we do the hard work required of us as we push towards completing our goals. When we pursue our art, when we strive to fulfill our inner dictates, when we complete our goals, we allow ourselves the possibility of perfection through the eyes of others. I really saw my best friend during her performance and she was flawless. 

She stepped unto the stage, barefoot, with a tight royal blue dress clinging to her ample form, hands folded in a prayer and resting on her thighs, with lowered, bedroom eyes she tossed her waves over her shoulder and looked into the crowd with a shy, innocent smirk which stretched into a wide knowing smile, which opened into a laugh. The crowd was transfixed. Black girl magic. Her entire performance was a reflection of who she is at her core – sensual, controlled, generous and oh so very vulnerable.  I hope she knows how beautiful she was that night. I hope she knows she has a gift. I hope she knows how deeply she touches people. I hope she continues to share her richness with this starving world. Love you girl! 

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Antoinettehenry.com

Antoinette’s album “With Love” is also available for purchase on iTunes!

Kristin Braswell – A Woman With A Crush On The World

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Social media never ceases to amaze me. It really does create a network of people that you come to develop relationships with. There is always that one person who you have a random, soft connection with yet you are all the way here for. You scroll her instagram feed and see how her personal life is thriving with super cool friends and a loving family and at each career advancement you cheer her on in your head like, “You go girl! You’re killing it!”. You come to anticipate the many think pieces, music links and event invites she shares on social media because ya’ll are on the same wave length. Ya’ll appreciate the same things. Ya’ll hate the same people. Although you may have never talked to this person in your life and no matter how one sided the relationship stalking may be, she is like your best friend in your head but for real for real…

  This is my relationship with Kristin Braswell. In all honesty, we do have a stronger connection than one randomly established online. Kristin has assisted in bringing ATWC’s online presence to the forefront. She selected us to work on Carol’s Daughters online series “The Curl” which she produced herself as well as putting us on to many opportunities which followed. We have remained social media friends ever since and as stated before, I am totally here for her. She is truly a friend in my head and if we were ever to link up in person, I’m pretty sure we would vibe out as well.

 Kristin is a travel writer, producer and newly titled entrepreneur. She has created a new online publication called CrushGlobal which encapsulates her two greatest loves – writing and travel. I am excited to present you all with her interview. To me, she is an inspiration. She is black girl magic personified. She is the supernatural result when grit, endurance and raw talent meet in a weightless, limitless, cage-less  free spirit. 

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Tell us about yourself. Where were you raised? Where did you go to school? Where do you reside now?                                                                                                                                                              

I was born in Los Angeles, but I feel like I was raised in both Los Angeles and New York. I attended the University of Pennsylvania in Philly and have been a proud Brooklyn resident for years.

Have you always wanted to be a writer? Tell us your earliest memories of realizing that you wanted to become a writer.                                                                                                                            

I’ve created stories in my mind for as long as I can remember, and the easiest way to translate those stories was on paper. Looking back now, I realize that creating those stories was a means of survival.  I did not always fit in as a child, so when I wrote, I found purpose and felt empowered. I was very much a loner and a bit obsessed with reading. So being drawn into this fictional world I was reading about inspired me to stretch the limits of reality in my own writing. It’s not always easy for me to communicate an idea verbally, but when I write, I feel closer to myself and to others.

Are you more drawn to fiction or non-fictional writing? Why?                                                            A little bit of both, honestly. I love writing and reading fiction because there are no limits to a storyline within the realm of imagination. I also love non-fiction. When I read the words of Malcolm X or James Baldwin, the message always punches me in the gut. Isn’t that the beauty of words, of film, music and dance, really? That  sometimes it only takes so little- a short scene or melody- for so much to be understood.

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To say that you are accomplished in your career is to say the least. You have been published in Essence, Huffington Post, Los Angeles times, Ebony, CNN Travel and ForbesLife to name a few. Can you describe your career journey? How have you been able to keep your work circulating amongst such reputable publications? Any advice to young writers?                    

Am I accomplished? (smiles) Thank you. There’s soooo much more I want to do, but, I am FINALLY getting a to a place where I can say “dang girl, you did that!” For anyone reading  this, I encourage you to do the same. Stop for a moment and just pop your collar. You’re bigger and badder than your mind and experiences would have you to believe. My career journey is definitely not typical, and sometimes I still feel like I don’t know what the hell I am doing and would rather just be eating pizza and listening to music on a beach.

I began in breaking news, working at various networks in hopes to become a broadcast journalist. I won’t sugarcoat this. I got laid off, a lot. It was never a reflection of my work, and really the byproduct of companies that undervalued their employees and were trying to keep up with an ever-changing industry. For years, I took it personally, but now I am in a place where I’m no longer affected by any shifts in employment. This isn’t because I think I’m invincible. Truthfully, I’ve been disappointed so many times that it just doesn’t impact me in the same way. The beautiful thing that has come out of that is a shift in my perspective on my own talents. My brother has always told me, “you’re not meant to work for other people, or to have an ordinary life with the picket fence. You are here to do something extraordinary.” And oddly enough, every time I find myself trying to fit in that neat little package of success, I get thrown right back out into the wild. So now I am focusing more on my own business, CrushGlobal Travel.  I am in talks with a publisher for my first novel, and I contribute to publications that I dreamed of writing for since I was a little girl. I get to travel the world and meet new people and just give thanks. To young writers I say this: don’t be afraid to pitch. Celebrate your vulnerability and own your story. Expect to hear no more than yes. Know that editors are always juggling a number of things and it’s sometimes more about timing than even talent. I would actually like to help a lot more young writers because I didn’t always have that same support. So, please feel free to email me at contact@crushglobaltravel.com if you need some advice.

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Top 5 favorite writers.                                                                                                                              

1.Warsan Shire (waaay before Lemonade dropped). 

2. James Baldwin

3. Zora Neale Hurston

4. Ta-Nehisi Coates

5. Bernice McFadden

Name all of the places that you have traveled to. Is there one place that you loved the most? Is there one place you are dying to see but have yet to go?                                                                

 I’ve been to London, Paris, the Maldives, Madrid, Seville, Tenerife, Barcelona, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Anguilla, Mexico, Hawaii, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Bermuda, The Bahamas, Jamaica, St. Maarten, St. Barths, Berlin, Hamburg, Santiago and Patagonia in Chile, various cities in India, Bordeaux, Montreal, Barbados, Belize, Petit St. Vincent, Cayman Islands, Rome, Capri, Positano, Sorrento, Portugal, Costa Rica and Nicaragua. I love a lot of these places for different reasons, but, if I had to choose, I would say Nicaragua surprised me the most with its natural beauty and good vibes, Bordeaux for its wine and food, and Trinidad for the supreme joy I feel during Carnival. I am a soca junkie and the happiest with some roti in my hand and a riddim playing. I’m dying to get to Cuba and have been for over a decade now. Honestly, I just feel so blessed. I love seeing the world.

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Top 5 beauty necessities while traveling.

1. A good gloss because my lips must stay poppin.                                                                                                  

2. An eye mask for sleep. Without it, I act a fool.                                                                                            

3. Lotion. You can’t be ashy abroad.                                                                                                                                 

4. An ayurvedic calming spray I got in India. It helps my nerves when I fly.                                                          

5. A good book + my journal to collect my thoughts and express gratitude for wherever I am in the world.

What is one thing you have learned about America having traveled outside of it? What is one thing you have discovered about being black outside of the context of being in America?

America is not the center of the world. I feel like we are very much taught that as children and it is in many ways to our own detriment. I travel to other countries and children from all backgrounds can speak different languages and know far more about American history than we ever learned about their countries or customs. It’s a curious thing to me, how disconnected we are from the rest of the world in many ways growing up, but how connected the world is to us. Honestly, I am never really made aware of my Blackness unless I am in a very homogenous place like India or Germany. But even in places like India, there was just a natural curiosity about where I was from rather  than any ill feelings about me being Black like I find in the States. I have more of a safety  issue sometimes being a woman while traveling than being a Black woman.

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You have launched a new site called CrushGlobal Travel. Can you tell us about it? What inspired it? What are your hopes for it’s future?                                                                

CrushGlobal was born out of my desire  to create a deeper understanding between people through travel. The site offers features, tips and first hand accounts of travel and culture from writers around the world. We also offer curated travel experiences, and will be launching our first group adventure later this year with a few really, really dope people who have a similar vision. Responsible tourism will also be a large component of our curated experiences, meaning, we will find ways to connect to and support the local people and economies of the places we visit. My love for travel and people inspired the brand. I have seen the deepest connections between people during travel, so I want to use that to fuel a transformative movement that is more than just cute selfies under a sunset or the Eiffel Tower. I truly believe that travel can change people and the way we see and treat each other.  I think a passport is the greatest form of education and I want to get one into the hands of as many people as possible.

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Did Jay-Z really cheat on Beyonce?                                                                                                          

HA! I did not see this question coming. There’s so much to unpack with Lemonade that Jay Z’s potential infidelity was actually the last thing on my mind. I am still exploring the gorgeous imagery, the invocations of Yemaya and Oshun, the sheer enormity of sisterhood and redemption. Beyonce dressed as OSHUN gave me life– the sensuality, healing powers and fertility. I just love that there is so much to explore.

I do think that she does a great job of blending fiction with reality- and I had a very visceral reaction to the album as a Black woman. The scene where the mothers of Mike Brown and Trayvon Martin hold photos of their sons broke my heart. We deal with a particular, historical, generational  kind of pain, and if you’re just looking at Lemonade as a Jay vs. B thing, you are missing the enormity of this body of work.

We give so much. Too much sometimes. Lemonade created a space for Black women to reckon with our pain and methods of healing, whether that be with a bat or in the arms of the lover who scorned us. I do think people can forgive and grow after catastrophes, but both parties have to be willing to put in the work and be accountable. Anger is easy. Forgiveness takes more work than we can sometimes fathom, but it is possible. I’ve heard a lot of women say that if Beyonce can be cheated on, anything is possible. Ladies, come on. We know good and well that one can appear to be perfect (whatever that means) and still get hurt. That’s why you have to make it a daily practice to love yourself fiercely, as hard as that may be sometimes– and keep that hot sauce in your bag.

kristinbraswell.com

www.crushglobaltravel.com

Instagram and Twitter:  @crushglobal

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/crushglobaltravel/

Crowns & Style

This is a weekly series from the creative genius that is coiled up and springing from Emiliano Styles.  I loved all the videos so much I had to share. What beautiful, beautiful women live and thrive in this world. 

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  To stay abreast of new videos that come out weekly, click

 Crowns & Style

Undercut Hair Grow Out Challenge!!

I have officially decided that I am going to grow out my hair. I am ready for change. I am ready for challenge. I am ready to rock twist outs and ponytails and have it get on my nerves again. I have a mohawk right now so I have a center section with significantly longer hair and very short hair on the sides. Uggh, this is going to be a bitch to grow out. I refuse to cut it all evenly until my sides grow out some more though. Anyway, here is a video describing my plan of action.

Who else is ready to keep their heads warm this winter? Who else is growing out their shorter hair styles? I think we all should keep one another motivated and away from scissors and barber chairs!  Send me some pics of your starting point for this challenge! I will share yours as well as my growth every 2 months or so to see one another’s progress. Lets get it! 

(Starting point) Oct 2015

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Tag @aroundthewaycurls on instagram with your photos with the hashtag #undercuthairgrowout

Or email photos to aroundthewaycurls@gmail.com

“Healthy Roots” Natural Dolls For Natural Girls KICKSTARTER

affbeb9dc8ca5b3f512727beb4448880_original-1   I often pace the aisles of toy stores and I leave empty handed (not just because I am cheap and a bad mother) but because there are NO DOLLS that look like my daughter. Either they are unrealistically proportioned white dolls, scary monster, weirdo, sex kittens, black dolls with straight hair and white features or they are dolls peddling propaganda of excessive materialism and sexism. Where are the dolls and toys which offer education and stimulate the imagination? Where are the dolls which offer companionship to the entire spectrum of young girls? The world isn’t just black and white. The spectrum of brown, red, yellow and every color in between is real and beautiful and in need of representation. My daughter is a beautiful blend of her father’s Eritrean ancestry and my white and black genes. Very rarely do I ever feel that she is uncomfortable in her skin. She is constantly reminded by everyone in her life that she is extra-ordinary, clever, funny, intelligent, kind and beautiful.  Yet every now and then she will express her desire for straight hair and her dislike for her big curly hair.  Each and every time that she has voiced her dissatisfaction is when she is stroking the knotty, stringy straight hair of a doll baby or Barbie (that she was gifted and I hadn’t the heart to throw the hell out).  With that being my struggle, I was really excited to be contacted by Yelitsa Jean-Charles. She is a young artist coming from the much respected art school of RISD. She has created the toy company “Healthy Roots” which offer dolls that represent the variation of the African Diaspora with varying hair textures as well as an illustrated reading book and coloring book which offer basic information about natural haircare. It’s genius!  Here is Yelitsa’s response to the state of toys offered to children of color. 

“I created Healthy Roots to fill that void. Internalized racism and colorism stem from mainstream beauty standards that exclude women of color. The pressure that girls feel to appeal to mainstream beauty standards impacts their self esteem, leading them to use dangerous chemicals like perms and bleaching creams to become “beautiful.” Healthy Roots teaches girls of color self-love through education, diversity, and positive representation. If the toys we play with influence how we perceive ourselves, imagine the kind of impact we can have with a toy that aims to inspire and empower.”

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Easy reading book included w/ doll explaining basic natural haircare

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Real representation of a Healthy Roots Doll

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Doll Concepts

Meet Yelitsa and Learn More about her Kickstarter for “Healthy Roots” Toy Company

Yelitsa is 5 days away from her kickstarter ending. She needs help to bring this brilliant idea and hardwork into realization! She is so close already! 

Support Yelitsa’s Kickstarter Today to Make These Dolls A reality for Our Children!

Click the Link HERE

                                                                                                                 (Post By Shanti)

Shanti In LA

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I was in LA for the first time in June. I went to visit a friend Emiliano Styles and was shown a wonderful time. We went to lofty high rise restaurants overlooking downtown LA, ate delicious octopus tacos in Grand Central Market, went hiking on Runyun Canyon, bike riding in Venice, and found our way into a secret, hidden Cuban bar with a live saxophone player who played to a woman who danced, twirled and writhed her hips until her white vestido fell and she was left to gyrate in only her bra and panties. We ate fried chicken at Roscoes and discovered the talent of Joseph Khalil at the MOCA. We skipped the Hollywood scene and I absorbed the sun rays and buena onda of the West coast without the glitz and glam of Lala Land.

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I especially loved the graffiti-esque murals that brought an urban edge to the romantic curls and scales of the Spanish architecture. I loved the Latino presence in LA. I loved seeing the traditional Mexican cowboy with a shiny big belt and brown, wide brimmed hat, hand in hand with his lovely woman to the “neo” Latino influenced by black culture, cool as a cucumber with Converses, conversing with the distinct West coast Latino lilt “Ehhhhhh, what’s up?”

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 I was in the best of company with Emil. He is a creative inspiration for me. He is an artist, grounded in discipline with just the right shiny sprinkling of idealism and hope.  He is photographing, writing, shooting, directing and editing a beautiful life for himself. He is dope, working hard to be doper. Having well put in his 10,000 hours of practice, he still makes every effort to sharpen his skills and expand creatively. With that being said, he made sure to have his camera on hand  during my visit and documented my time in LA.  He made a video of me! I loved it so much I wanted to share it with you all. He says he wanted to simply capture my curious nature. The video meant much more to me than that. It brought visuals to my daily prayer, “Let it all work out.”

SHANTI IN LA from Emiliano Styles™ on Vimeo.

Things That Interest the Around The Way Girl – Part Tres

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1. SaintHeron.com

Antoinette and I have a running joke. We always stop and  ask one another “Shit, how can we learn to be cool?” Well I got the answer! Troll Solange’s website “Saint Heron” and learn what’s what in fashion, music, arts culture, events  and everyday cool shit. I bet the really cool girls are rolling their eyes thinking “Ugh, we been knew about this. It’s been up for like 2 years.” Welp, my corny, motherly, trying to hold on for dear life to the vestiges of her youth ass just discovered it!

The site as well as the label Saint Records is committed to ” feature, highlight and align a new movement of contemporary, genre-defying R&B visionaries, which will serve as a segue into the diverse evolution of these independent artists as they share their voices and words as only they can – through pure, unadulterated music.”

saintheron.com

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2. Ibeyi

20 year old Parisian twins with Afro-Cuban roots (father was a member of the Buena Vista Social Club), haunting vocals with percussion, piano and a mean beat from production! What?!  I give you my most recent music obsession – Ibeyi. I am not quite sure how to pronounce the group’s name, I don’t know what they are saying when they sing in Yoruba but I love them anyways. They make me feel things and I love feeling things. Plus they are aesthetically beautiful. One twin has long wavy, straight hair while the other rocks a mane of kinks and curls. Take a listen here in their video “River”

3. The Poetry of Nayyirah Waheed 

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Her poetry again, makes me feel things. Things that sit deep down in the heat of my stomach or are fluttering to escape wedged between my lungs and heart. She makes me feel emotions I never knew I had until only after 3 sentences I find myself weeping or I feel just a little less worried, or anxious or sad or angry. She makes me feel as if she knows me. She is me and I am her. She is an incredible writer. One that I admire so much. You have probably seen her quotes shared on social media. Her two published books of poetry are “salt” and “Nejma” both available on Amazon. Inspiration station right there.

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4. Beyonce Untouched

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God, is that you God? Are you trying to let us all know that nobody is perfect by leaking these photos personally? Are you trying to let us know that Beyonce isn’t your chosen one and that we can all start focusing on more important things rather than being obsessed with Beyonce and making ourselves “perfect” by going to the gym and getting a lace front or nah? Nah? Oh, okay.

Whats New Ladies? Anything New that Interests You These days?

Alex Elle in Philly

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Recently, I went to go see writer and social media personality Alex Elle in Philadelphia. For some reason, I entered the venue feeling a little nervous because I was all alone. There was no side kick to keep me enveloped in the “no new friends” zone. Instead, I was given the choice of remaining open and friendly or quiet and guarded. I teetered on both spectrums by smiling at strangers but never really striking up any conversation.

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Yusuf Yuie on the left and Curran on the right

Shortly after the audience filled in, promoters Yusuf  Yuie and Curran Swift Yusuf stood and introduced both the moderator and Alex Elle.

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Alex came out unto the stage confident and calm. She was everything she seems to be via social media and her writing. She was poised, sweet, present and ready to share.  The audience was very quiet, so quiet that Alex’s first sentence addressed to us was, ” Ya’ll look scared.”  I suppose we were all nervous. We were a room full of young twenty-somethings wanting to understand how to get just a smidgeon of what she  appears to smear on everything she touches  – success and happiness.

The moderator probed Alex with questions about love, work, motherhood, sex and writing. All of her answers were the same, no different than the affirmations she shares through her writing. In order to find success in love and life, you must go inward. You must work on yourself gently and consistently. 

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When it came time for questions, I was amused by the inquiries. It was very telling of who we are and what we want. Everyone wanted to know about Alex’s hard times; drama with her child’s father and single mother hood. I suppose that’s how we connect with one another. I must admit that I felt so encouraged when I learned that Alex was also a young mother, estranged from the child’s father and yet she still found love.  It’s more comforting to know someone’s pain and struggle versus happiness and “success”.  To understand the struggle from which one came, makes other’s feel like their own destinies aren’t so bleak. They too can rise up, push past the pain and be happy. 

Alex Elle for me, through her writing and existence  is a reminder that the human potential for change and creativity is real and in all of us. The potential for success is not only alloted to prodigy, white people, college educated and childless folk but it extends to us all even if we are brown, women, single mothers, ridden with daddy issues and have no idea how we are going to make it. We are all entitled to happiness and the fruition of our personal successes.

Thank you Alex for the reminder.

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