Letter to Reader
Today marks the 20th anniversary of my graduation from Howard University School of Law. When I marched across the stage to receive my degree, my goal in life was to become a successful lawyer. I never imagined I would become an “innerpreneur,” a term coined by Ron Rentel in his book, Karma Queens, Geek Gods and Innerpreneurs that refers to a person who uses her business to find personal fulfillment and create social change. I also never imagined I would write a book about my life journey. Life is full of surprises, right?
As I write this letter, one of my favorite Pat Metheny compositions is playing on Pandora.com. It is called “If I Could.” The beauty of the instrumental music chases away the tingling fears I have allowed to dictate what I share with you, my dear reader. It echoes what my soul truly knows. So I dive deep into Metheny’s music and surrender to the present moment.
In this space of the all eternal now, I lay my burdens down and confess that when I started dreaming of this memoir, I had a plan. I wanted it to be organized in a certain way. I had very firm ideas about weaving sections of my life into an orderly yet fashionable story quilt. Well, that didn’t happen. How could it?
My creative birthing process is magical and messy. It is filled with dreams, memories, and realities that offer light and dark moments. It makes me run from my fears and celebrate my overcoming. It gives me great laughter and exposes me to deep pain. It forces me to pause in unexpected places. It reveals truths and wounds I do not want to know. It turns me inside out and serves as a catalyst for healing. As a result, I have become intimately acquainted with my vulnerabilities as a writer:
It's confession time.
My journal opens.
I write a truth painted with revelations I'd rather not share.
They bring me to Elegba’s crossroads.
A choice must be made.
I know I need to write it and see it in order to move through it.
So I step onto the page naked.
Without protection my fingers cringe, but I write anyway.
I write because it saves my life.
And right now I need to be my own savior cuz' I am on the edge of self-sabotage.
My pen touches the page reluctantly.
She pauses before pressing into a moment that feels like a pre-Pandora's box opening with wild and furious fears.
I breathe in and out like the good yoga teacher I am.
My eyes close.
A tear invites itself into the corner of my right eye.
Its twin appears in my left eye.
Yin Yang emotions merge.
In celebration of their union, the ink flows from my pen.
I take one more deep breath.
Exhaling I feel myself beginning to unravel.
My vulnerabilities as a writer appear.
I have nowhere to run.
So I write.
I have been struggling with completing my poetic memoir.
My struggle is rooted in the fears of my little girl self.
Her fears revolve around sharing too much of herself on paper.
She doesn't want to be judged, attacked, or held to some outrageous standards that force her into prisons of perfection.
She wants to run and be free without sharing herself.
She wants to keep it all a secret.
She thinks my writing gives some folks an unrealistic idea of who I truly am.
And I have to admit some of her fears are legitimate which is why the adult parts of me have taken a leave of absence from writing the poetic memoir.
They are all on vacation.
Before leaving they were kind enough to hire a narrator.
She witnesses and records what is going on without judgment.
What she sees is a woman with eight archetypal selves.
When they work together, they create a life of beauty and joy.
When one of them is scared, a number of things can happen.
Sometimes they help the self who is scared to calm down and understand that all things are working out for their highest and greatest good.
Other times they can’t reach a consensus on how to provide support.
In those times, all hell can break loose.
They can engage in nasty battles.
But this isn't one of those times.
They all realize the magnitude of the fears.
They all know it hits home in a way that affects them all.
They are not trying to figure it out or make them go away.
They are accepting where they are.
That's why they have gone on an unplanned vacation.
The good news is at least they are together.
And together they will rediscover the key:
My poetic memoir represents my journey of self-discovery as a creative woman. By writing and sharing moments from my life story, I have been able to better understand, accept, and love the identities I was born with and created. It has been an inner revolution that opened the door to authentic living. It has also helped me reinvent myself as a as a writer, artist, creativity coach, yoga teacher, Reiki Master practitioner, radio host, blogger, and social media strategist. In addition, this process has given me the opportunity to use British-born Canadian journalist, author, and pop sociologist Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers: The Story of Success as a framework for exploring and appreciating how childhood, family, culture, community, friendship, history, and geography have played a role in my life experiences, accomplishments, career trajectory, creativity, and spirituality. These efforts brought me face to face with my values, beliefs, social intelligence, and cultural legacies. What an eye-opening experience! This examination work continues even as I write this letter to you!
I hope my personal reflections, poetry, and stories give you a snapshot view of my creative journey and how I discovered the same state of grace and gratitude African American playwright Lorraine Hansberry wrote about: “…life has within it that which is good, that which is beautiful and that which is love. Therefore, since I have known all of these things, I have found them to be reason enough and—I wish to live. Moreover, because this is so, I wish others to live for generations and generations and generations.” May you discover and celebrate that which awakens you in your life.
Lokah samasta sukhino bhavantu (May all beings everywhere be happy). Tathaastu (So be it). Namaste (The light in me salutes the light in you.)
Be love, love light, and live as the spirit of life,
Ananda Kiamsha Madelyn Leeke
May 13, 2009