...how something can look so simple and uninspiring at first glance. As I gear up to do my traditional review of the year: what have I accomplished? What was on my list of 25 (at the close of 2015) to get done this year? How many did I complete?... as I get ready to do this, I am shocked by the number of things that were so very important to me at the close of 2015 that, due to experiences, growth and just plain ol' a-ha moments, were not as important or priority by the close of this year.
Growth has a way of doing that. For instance, increasing my income was not on the list as an outright expression of a goal for this year, yet in working towards all of the other goals and always putting my best self out there in the world... BOOM, BAM, BIP *smile* (I am still Keisha...haha!), here I am. Purchasing a home was not on my list. It was a future goal, one I knew I was in the process of manifesting through all of the other steps I was taking...but if you would have told me that we would be in our own home that is more than twice the size of the one that I was grateful to rent just 14 months ago, I would have shaken my head...
Anywho, I say all that to share how important having goals is... to our hearts, souls and minds. I also share all that to encourage us all to simultaneously be open to possibilities that we can no more foresee than we can know what tomorrow is going to bring.
With you in creation,
P.S. (We are hosting a Create 2017 Artist Jam Session right before New Years Eve... join us. Interested? Contact us for details.)
I have been so excited about Custom Arts Studio's newest product! Of course, before creating it for you, I put myself to the test and did product research with my own life, at own office desk,... with pen and paper scraps. Nothing fancy. No big tah-do. My jar is a beautiful creation which, on my cluttered desk, truly stands out. That was beneficial.
I started by writing the usual things... I would take a slip of paper, find a pen or pencil and write what one would assume you'd write- "I am grateful for my family." I folded the slip up and popped it into the jar. Day One...DONE! It felt good, I must admit. No big deal, right? Over the next 3 months, I found myself grateful for the big and small, the complex and mundane and... get this... my outlook shifted. It was a day some time in February that, with pen in hand, I had my own moment of clarity around gratitude and just how powerful it is. It dawned on me that in my hustle and bustle of raising two children, keeping house- groceries, bills paid, bathroom cleaned, etc., working part time and running my business part time... that I easily get caught up in whatever cog is not working in my life-machine and often, even when really great things happen, gloss over the amazing things in my life. When things fall apart, as is often said, I give my full attention, my full energy and passion, but it seemed that I did not give that same energy and passion for what was working well in my world...
And I am not referring to the "normal" thankfulness that is taught and learned in church or self-help books. Not the automatic, turn it on thankfulness... I am talking about a real paused moment to really take in what life has offered you. I realized that I had been starving myself of this goodness, this "feel good" as I call it.
All of a sudden, the cute little jar being swallowed by my desk clutter took on much greater significance. Within the first 3 months of 2015, she has received more investments of gratefulness than all of 2014 combined...
Go for the "Feel Goods" and get your Gratitude Jar today!
It is always exciting to be stretched beyond your limits of knowledge, experience and know-how. Recently, I have been provided amazing opportunities to create illustrations and designs for clients for new applications (books, products, etc.) and I have spent some time learning the ins and outs of design licensing. 2015 is sure to become the year of laying a solid foundation for Custom Arts Studio and the future I envision for it.
As I look back over 2014, it is absolutely mind blowing how many seemingly small steps have been taken that have opened the doors to many new clients, experiences and projects! In addition to meeting new portrait clients, I have also met authors, business owners and visionaries who need design support, imagery and creativity to bring their work to life. I am humbled constantly at how my work and my talent assists them with reaching their goals.
This year, I will have completed 12 portraits in The Women of Inspiration series which I am so excited about. This project will be a breath of fresh air and a visual affirmation to so many. I am in the process of creating 3 illustrations for an author which has been an exciting journey. Bringing his characters to life and working with him has been great. Portrait requests are funneling in and design clients are starting to renew their sense of awe with their own projects. It is amazing how clients will find you who align with your passion and focus.
Well, I just wanted to share what's been going on at Custom Arts Studio.
Custom Arts Studio... your ideas, our technique.
It has been about a month since the last Men @ The Round Table event was held at The Black Writers Museum in the Germantown section of Philadelphia... I have realized that hearing from and listening to the stories and thoughts of black men has transformed me from the inside out. I am aware that compassion, care and true love go a long way to buffering me from succumbing to the effects of living in the sludge of male oppression, disappointment, lowered expectations and just plain anger. Anger towards myself and anger towards men.
I just spoke with a friend of mine today about the transformation (my favorite word) in my own life as it relates to my father with whom I had never had a real relationship prior to September 2013. There, in the midst of that month, came a metamorphosis of pain into forgiveness, apprehension into appreciation, resentment into love and today, as a grown woman with children of her own, I can say that my relationship with him is giving me what I longed for and so much more. I shared with my friend that I get early morning text messages from him about how beautiful I am, how amazing I am and I can feel his pride in what I have become... To any man who is unsure what his contribution can be or should be to his daughter (or son for that matter), know this- that this 35 year old woman is being nurtured as an adult in ways that I never thought possible and it is making a profound difference. Imagine what difference you can make early on!
Even in the sense of looking to a mate or potential mate for attention, validation or love, the motivation is not internally driven by a hole in my heart. I am complete, whole, lacking nothing- not just because my relationship with my father is whole but also because my relationship with ME is whole. It is in light of the dissection of all of these areas of my life that the Men @ The Round Table project could be born. The birth pains have been deep and severe but the joy of new life is sweeter than ever imagined.
Well, I tell ya. When you ask for understanding... sometimes it brings to light things you never thought of. So, I created the Men @ The Round Table events to learn about the affects of racism, feminism, incarceration, absentee fathers, etc. on African American men in the US... What I have gotten out of these discussions has far surpassed anything I would have imagined. I have been confronted by myself... yes, an African American woman/ female,... confronted, sometimes surprised, sometimes horrified, by own ideas, thoughts, preconceptions about African American men. I knew they were there... some at least.
In sitting at a conference table with black men from all walks of life, senior citizens, young men, professionals, students,...and listening to their stories, expressions, confusion and frustration, I have been confronted by my own frustration, anger, disappointment and general disdain for black men. I have also been confronted by my heart for them; the knowing in my soul that I love them, that they hold the key to so much in my world. I found myself holding back snappy comments like "Just be straight up, man, and stop trying to look so tough." and "You are so full of shit." Simultaneously, I asked them questions about their life and what those experiences did to them on the inside with genuine care and concern.
These events and experiences have been transforming me from the inside out... Much of my work is about transfromation. I figure, why create art, paintings, drawings and crafts, unless they will challenge, inspire or ignite a fire in someone...? I figure that in order to create works to transform black men and women's relationships, I must delve into the depths of all that is REAL for me... the good, the bad and the ugly... sometimes the hideous.
Gearing up for the second Men @ The Round Table event is like fighting tradition! The initial gathering was powerful, rich and uncovered many new and illuminating experiences... so, the reset button, no matter how much I try to hit it has been elusive. I am fully aware and present to the fact that the only way for this upcoming event to be as powerful and more is to see it, experience it and be open to it as a blank slate. Completely new, unique, one-of-a-kind.
The official invitation went out today and registrations/ RSVPs have been pouring in already. I am floored. Humbled and excited. I spoke with a local male business owner and just mentioned in passing hosting an event at the Black Writers Museum. After answering what type the owner lit up with interest and shared how he would love to be a part of this type of event. What an amazing perspective, being a black male business owner. He received his invite today :-)
So, here we are, ten days out before our next event, which will be on a Saturday afternoon... lunch. I am thinking Jimmie Johns. Keep it simple and yummy. Register here to participate: http://www.eepurl.com/YeR3D
Committed as I was to being a space for full self expression, unreasonable truth telling and sharing, there was no way for me to be prepared for what transpired last night. After spending two and a half hours with twelve men from all walks of life, varying ages, with various life experiences, I am floored, humbled and openly expectant for things to come. The men were open, willing and responsive to questions posed to delve deeper than the surface of experiences. We discussed various topics ranging from racial profiling (both by law enforcement and in the workplace) to absent fathers to the imbalance in the education system. The topic garnering the most attention, response and expression was around the topic of fathers and their absence, presence or ambiguous nature in their lives.
There were moments when it was necessary to draw the focus back to personal experience. There is a natural tendency to take on the role of problem solver or observer even in our own experience and I took it upon myself to hold the line with the purpose of the event... which was to delve into PERSONAL experience, PERSONAL places where life experience has cracked, marred or scarred you. It was an empowering conversation, an empowering Round Table of men that I will forever see as courageous, powerful, valuable human beings.
After months and months of pondering how and what this project will be, the I Am Only Human Project is in full swing! I am extremely excited, nervous, and humbled under the weight of this project's scope and mission.
"Upon viewing '12 Years a Slave', the movie, I became “caught”, “stuck” by the scene in which the main character, Solomon, is forced to brutally whip his friend and confidante, Patsy. Having begun a visual journey through the interpersonal labyrinths between men and women in the months prior, this scene halted me and made me pause. 'What did it do to the black man’s psyche to be forced to whip the skin off the back of his counter-part?', I thought, 'What part or parts of himself did he have to discard forever in order to survive that experience?'... This inquiry led to other questions that The “I Am Only Human” Project works to discover responses to. 'What else is he carrying around?'"
Through an amazing partnership with The new Black Writers Museum, we will be hosting two Forum style dinners for black males of all ages to ponder and sit with these questions as a way to inform imagery for a traveling mural/Forum project entitled "Men @ the Round Table". On Friday evening, June 20th from 6pm to 8:30pm and Saturday, July 12th from 1:00pm to 3:30pm, a space of safety, inquiry and expansion will be created to delve into this often misunderstood and ignored aspect of our society.