“Bag lady you gon hurt your back/ Draggin’ all them bags like that!”
Leave it up to Erykah Badu to have you feeling equally appreciated and called out. A stroll down Mama’s Gun memory lane left me feeling both vulnerable and introspective. Just when I’d healed one aspect of myself, here came another vying for my attention. Badu’s raw lyrics pierced right through me like a skewer.
“I guess nobody ever told you/ All you must hold onto/ Is you, is you, is you”
Badu’s ‘00 masterpiece poetically put into words my disappointment, envy, worry, self-confidence, hopes for the future, and lessons learned. By the end of the second to last song, Time’s A Wastin’, I was in tears reminiscing on how I’d slipped back into old habits:
Ruminating on negative thoughts when I should’ve been sleeping
Having great ideas with no action behind them
Stalking Perusing my old flame’s social media
Worrying over a quickly dwindling bank account
Putting other people’s opinions of myself over my own
Does any of this sound like you? Actions such as the former keep us trapped in negative cycles; and the stresses of everyday life make us forget that we require healing. Healing is a vital part of our existence. Muscles heal after workouts. Flesh heals after lacerations. Moreover, we need to assist our hearts and souls with healing after emotional and spiritual battles. Luckily, we have a powerful celestial being present to aid us in the process: The Moon.
Sir Isaac Newton discovered that the Moon controls the Earth’s ocean tides with its gravitational force. The Moon has also been credited with influencing other activities such as fertility, behavior, and emotions. Historically, the Moon has served as a guiding light for indigenous people, such as the Algonquin tribe, who used lunar cycles to track time and seasons. At the peak of its illumination, a Full Moon symbolizes a time for release. In the spirit of self-love, self-care, and all that other good stuff, I want to share a few ways in which you can benefit from the Full Moon’s energy, restore balance, and release what no longer serves you.
1: Discover what zodiac sign the moon is in.
The zodiac sign serves as a compass to help direct your energy. For example, if the Full Moon is in Aquarius (an air sign), your focus would be best utilized on activities that rest and heal the mind. Each zodiac sign is ruled by an element (Earth, fire, water, air). The element tells you the area of focus.
Earth 🌍 (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn) Embrace Practicality + Goals -Declutter/ Deep clean your space -Donate or give to charity -Get outside/ Connect with nature -Cross things off your to-do list
Air 🌬 (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius) Mentality + Gain Knowledge -Research a topic -Meditate or chant -Read -Create Art
Water 🌊 (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces) Emotional Balance + Connection w/Others -Spend time with loved ones -Spend time alone doing what you like -Take a nap -Do water exercises
Fire 🔥 (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius) Igniting Passion + Taking Action -Dance! Move your body! -Show compassion for self & others -Re-visit a hobby you love -Write down your mission
Light a candle or incense and say thank you to the universe for being your ally. Don’t forget to include a prayer for those who came before you. If you think your life is hard just look back at what your ancestors endured.
“Silence isn’t empty, it’s full of answers.”
The merging of your inner and outer selves happens when you give the present moment your fullest attention.
Wearing crystals on your person can promote positive energy flow. Crystals have the ability to shield you from negative energy as well as dispel it from your body and mind. Recharge them during Full Moons to keep their energy fields clear.
Pretty simple, huh! For more healing tips, check out my article Release Toxic Energy Now!Let me know in the comments how these tips worked out for you or share any of your go-to rituals.
July’s Full ‘Buck’ Moon is also helping to usher in Leo Season! Make it Hot [in my Megan the Stallion voice] with my King of the Jungle inspired playlist “Wild Side 🦁 🔥” available on Spotify & Apple Music!!!
Follow ya girl on Apple Music, Spotify, and Facebook. We outchea!
Independent Artist: a person or group that is not signed to a major record label.
Creative control, Higher profits, Ownership over music
Lack of resources, Time restrictions, Limited business connections
Although these tips highlight musical artists, this information can be used to support your favorite artists in other categories 😉. Independent artists have complete control over their image and musical direction; however, they also shoulder the heavy burden of the behind-the-scenes costs. Betting on the success of one’s career is a gamble. It’s important to note that artists can go from unsigned, to signed, back to independent. Nonetheless, artists that choose to release music independently encompass the true definition of what it means to believe in yourself! Here are a few tips to support your favorite artists.
Follow Them 👍🏿
Social Media. This is the quickest way to gain access to your favorite artists. You’ll get access to their music and their lives. Be warned, you may get more than you bargained for.
Website. A website should give you access to all things your artists. Any new appearances, merchandise, or updates should be posted there.
3rd Party Sites. As an avid concert-goer, I need access to tickets as soon as they drop. In order to be first in line, I track artists through concert apps. These apps send me notifications as soon as a concert date is announced. If you have a particular artist that you’d like to see live, try following them on a concert app. But first, make sure the site is reputable before entering any of your sensitive information. Try looking at reviews from multiple sources to gather a well-rounded opinion for yourself.
Sites I follow:
Stay up to date on the latest live shows
Buy From Them 🎟
Merch. Buying merchandise directly from the artist or its affiliates is a great way to support them financially. Not to mention, it gives you a greater chance of receiving a quality product.
Purchase the album. Streaming and purchasing are not the same things! Although streaming is great for exposure, it does not guarantee the musician a living wage. Did you know that Spotify pays $0.003 to $0.005 per stream, according to Business Insider?
This means the real money isn’t rolling in until an artist receives over 1M streams. Buying music not only puts more money in the artist’s pocket but also gives you complete access to the music without paying for streaming subscriptions.
Attend Concerts. Burn calories. Meet new friends. Opportunity to meet the artist. What more can I say!
Share Them 🥰
Sharing is caring! If you care about the people around you, share great music with them. Plus, the more popularity the artist receives, the more quality content fans can hope to get.
Love Them 💕
If you love something about an artist, tell them. We all want to hear praise for a job well done. Comment under their posts, leave a review, write them a fan letter, whatever! Just find a legal, safe, non-creepy way to tell them 😁!
Lawd knows, I love my Black women. Here’s another selection of dark-skinned beauties you should be listening to, right now! No seriously, go listen to them right now!
When you have Erykah Badu regularly showing up on your IG posts, you know you’re doing something right! Junglepussy’s sound is just as fierce as her scorpionic persona. The New York City rapper’s personality is likened to that of a venus fly trap: captivating, mysterious, and a little bit scary. But what else could we expect from someone born on Halloween!
Jp’s braggadocious bars promote holistic living like eating healthy, ridding yourself of toxic people, and prioritizing self-love. Did I mention, Junglepussy takes no shit! She has a poetic way of reading you while showing off her delicate femininity. Jp teeters on that fine line between fearlessness and vulnerability. She’s uninhibited and elegant. What captivates me about Junglepussy is her unyielding desire to be herself. In a 2014 interview with Isis Madrid titled ‘Loving Yourself’: The Philosophy of JunglePussy, Jp remained candid in her responses.
“I can’t do some fake shit.”
“I’m gonna only be able to give them myself. That’s all I have. Everyday. That’s all I have in abundance. That’s all I can give them. I’m like, all right, let me be myself and see what happens. So I feel like by me being myself I was able to send a message to other people to be themselves too and not feel like they have to be a certain way to be cool and accepted.”
And cool she is! Jp’s Instagram stays lit with edgy fashion statements and ferocious hairdos. She stays reminding the girls that dark-skinned black women can rock any color of hair. Most importantly, she keeps us asking ourselves ‘Who’s gonna love you better than yourself?’ If you’re feeling adventurous, take a dive into the deep waters of Junglepussy’s universe. You’ll be sure to emerge with a treasure or two.
I credit YouTuber and music critic, Anthony Fantano for putting me on to Tierra Whack with his review of her 2018 LP Whack World. Every song on Whack World is 59 seconds, just long enough for you to catch a glimpse of her genius and leave you feigning for more.
One word to define Tierra Whack: DYNAMIC! Experiencing Whack’s art feels like riding on your favorite roller coaster. She knows just how to push the envelop with her outlandish visuals and lyrics which are reminiscent of Outkast, Busta Rhymes, Ludacris, and Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott.
Tierra Whack rides her own wave, relying solely on her talent. I challenge you to think of another successful artist with no features on their catalog… I’ll wait.
This Philly jawn is an all-out entertainer. She raps, sings, and writes. You can catch her swooning on her R&B-inspired track “Flea Market” and mumble rapping on “Mumbo Jumbo”, a song she recorded after having a tooth pulled. Whack’s unique image is layered throughout everything she does. Follow her on Instagram to gain access to her killer freestyles. Trust me, you have nothing to lose from listening to a woman who’s garnered co-signs from TechN9ne, Remy Ma, and Beyoncé!
Reppin’ Inglewood “The Wood” California, Tiffany Gouché is a powerhouse vocalist, writer, and musician who has garnered an extensive resume writing for music heavy hitters such as Joe, Usher, Pussycat Dolls, and Jill Scott. She has also produced tracks for Missy Elliott, Lalah Hathaway, and SiR (her cousin and TDE label mate of Kendrick Lamar). With musical talent running through her family and a long list of industry cosigns, Tiffany Gouché brings a new flavor to R&B. Her sultry, vulnerable lyrics promote love and lends its voice to queer Black women all over.
In a 2016 interview with Joe Kay (founder of the Los Angeles-based music label Soulection), Tiffany says she discovered her singing voice at the age of 9 years old but admits that she didn’t like her voice because “it sounded different” and she thought she “sounded like a guy”. Love for her heavy contralto voice came after hearing singers like Tracy Chapman and Lalah Hathaway. By age 18, Tiffany was finally ready to take her music seriously; and thank goodness she did! She has toured with JMSN and Little Simz; as well as done collaborations with Terrace Martin, Masego, and D Smoke (also her cousin). We see you, Tiffany!
2021 proved to be a year of wins for Gouché. She was featured on producer J. Period’s single “All in Your Head” alongside legends Dave Chappelle and Black Thought from The Roots. “All in Your Head” was performed on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon which aired on May 12 (S8 E141). Also on May 12, Gouché announced that her music catalogue was available on every streaming platform! Did I mention, sis owns her masters!
Do you have a beloved cocoa-skinned, female artist playing in your music rotation? If so, put me on! These artists deserve our attention because the industry is constantly trying to starve them. Colorism is a sickness that plagues not only the entertainment industry, but the world. Help to dismantle colorism by challenging your own viewpoints of what makes a person beautiful or valuable. Stand up to those who spew hatred and be the one that spreads love.
“When you teach a [wo]man to hate [her] lips, the lips that God gave [her], the shape of the nose that God gave [her], the texture of the hair that God gave [her], the color of the skin that God gave [her], you’ve committed the worst crime that a race of people can commit.
ICEY Cream QUEEN has turned 1 year old! This has been such an amazing and trying journey, to say the least. The birth of this website was the beginning of me stepping out of my comfort zone. I transformed from a girl who wrote in secret for years to a woman who started to believe in herself. I have so many ideas percolating in my mind: novels, articles, short stories. Sometimes I fear that I won’t get them all out. But then I remind myself to be present. Everyday is a new opportunity for me to work on my art, whether it be for 5 minutes or multiple hours.
I would personally like to thank my close circle for encouraging me. Also, to anyone who has ever supported by reading, posting comments, and/or sharing my work; I appreciate you from the bottom of my heart.
Icey Cream Queen is not just a place for me to express myself; it’s also a place for like-minded individuals to connect. So don’t be afraid to drop a comment. Fear holds us back from so much already.
Again, thanks for going on this journey. Let’s see where it takes me.
Does your life feel like it’s crumbling into little pieces right in front of you? Is your technology acting up? Are you experiencing combative energy out of the blue? Well, you have full permission to blame those mishaps on the Mercury Retrograde. I know what you’re thinking, What the hell is that?
Essentially, Mercury Retrograde is a time where the planet Mercury appears to be going backwards. It’s not, but this illusionary rotation is important to know about because Mercury is the ruler of communication. Named after the Roman deity, Mercurius, messenger of the Gods, Mercury goes retrograde 3 to 4 timers per year. During these times, information becomes skewed and communication issues are at an all time high. Troubles with technology arise, making you want to toss your phone or laptop straight out the window. And don’t even think about planning that fun weekend trip with your pals. Instead, stay home and try redecorating your space. Already made plans to travel weeks ago? Still go. Just be extra careful. Keep yourself balanced and present so you can handle issues accordingly. Need help staying balanced? Check out my article 7 Sure Ways to Start Living Your Best Life for some tips 😉.
Mercury retrograde is a testing period jam-packed with lessons sure to sharpen your sword of discernment and aid you in cutting all of the bullshit out of your life. You may experience debilitating “tower moments” where it feels like the rug is pulled out from under you. Everything feels out of your control. Don’t fret. This is just the universe removing anything not built on a firm foundation.
Mercury Retrograde is not a time to mentally check out or place important decisions in the hands of others. Remember, you can only control yourself. You decide how you respond; so during the retrograde: be patient, slow to anger, and hold off on making important decisions.
It’s baffling that such a tiny planet can pack such a major punch. Being the closest planet to the sun, there always seems to be chaos afoot when Mercury shows up. Yet and still, not all aspects of the Mercury Retrograde are bad. They are wonderful times to revisit anything left undone. Are there any old projects or skills you let fall by the wayside? Pick them back up and see what happens. Speaking of revisiting, Mercury Retrograde may bring back another dreaded matter: your ex.
Don't let no retrograde trick you into missing me. -Junglepussy
“No Band Aid.” Jp4
An ex flame could potentially come back attempting to give it another go. Don’t make your decision in the moment. Take in the information and sit on it until the dust settles just to make sure this illusionary energy is not getting the best of both of you.
Retrogrades are the ideal time for us to go inward and work on ourselves. Who knows, there could be a beautiful payoff waiting for you just like a rainbow at the end of a thunderstorm.
Let me know how the retrograde is treating you. Drop a comment below!
The Lotus flower is sacred in Buddhist and Hindu faiths because of it’s phenomenal ability to grow and thrive under less than ideal conditions. The Lotus grows in the murkiest, muddiest of waters. It knows how to filter through the gunk in order to retrieve its sustenance. We are called to be good students of the Lotus flower and understand that we need to overcome our circumstances, just as the Lotus grows out of the mud and towards the sun. We, like the Lotus, can prevail through our pain and reach enlightenment. In order to do so, we must release all that no longer serves us. Continue reading to “innerstand” how you can release toxicity from your being and your space.
Shift Your Mindset
“The problem human beings face is not that we aim too high and fail, but that we aim too low and succeed.” — Michelangelo
In The7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey discusses the idea of shifting your paradigm as a way to achieve personal and professional success. Paradigm is the way you see the world. Ask yourself this question: Do I see my glass as half empty or half full? Yes, you’ve heard this cliche of a question a million times. And you should hear it a million more times until it sinks in and becomes your reality. By positively shifting your mindset, you will change the way you think. When you change the way you think, you will change the way you see. When you change the way you see, you change the way you react to the world around you. That is growth, my friend. Also, go read The7 Habits of Highly Effective People, it’ll change your life!
Sage is a ceremonial cleansing and purifying herb. Burning it in your space clears negative energy and attracts positive energy. You can purchase sage and other smudging herbs at your local African, metaphysical, or aromatherapy shop. Check out these black owned businesses on Essence.com to purchase sage online:
Some products may not be available, but don’t let that stop you from perusing the sites. #suppportblackbusinesses
Not sure about how to use sage? Philly.com posted a beautiful video on the importance of smudging and how to do so. Check it out: Smudging
In addition, here are some Mantras you can recite while smudging, compliments of MAMAWUNDERBAR.COM:
“Cleanse this space, remove the past. Fill this place with joy and love.”
“Negative energy may not stay. I release it and send it on its way.”
“Positive feelings alone come near, all others wither and disappear.”
Cleanse Your Body, Mind, & Soul
Way #1: Cleanse your body by going on a fast or detox
I recently just completed a week long cleanse where I abstained from meat (easy because I’m a vegetarian🌱), eggs, dairy, refined sugar, and mind altering substances . Examples of things you can detox from are: sweets, alcohol, caffeine, processed foods, sex, social media, and television. Choose a specific, realistic amount of time to abstain from engaging with said item. Hide it from yourself if you have to. Sometimes the sight of something can entice us to want it.
Way #2: Take a spiritual bath
You can add things to your bath like epsom salt, essential oils, healing crystals, and flower petals to make it more relaxing and aid in healing. More about crystals will be discussed further into the article . For now, here’s more information and recipes for you to try at home.
The exercise you choose can be as strenuous or as moderate as you want it to be, just get that heart pumping! This allows your blood and aura (spiritual energy) to circulate.
Way #4: DRINK WATER
You are primarily composed of water. According to the United States Geological Survey,
Water serves a number of essential functions to keep us all going
A vital nutrient to the life of every cell, acts first as a building material.
It regulates our internal body temperature by sweating and respiration
The carbohydrates and proteins that our bodies use as food are metabolized and transported by water in the bloodstream;
It assists in flushing waste mainly through urination
acts as a shock absorber for brain, spinal cord, and fetus
So, drink up! You can tell if your body is hydrated by conducting a pee assessment. If your urine is dark yellow you are dehydrated! If your urine is light yellow or colorless, you’re receiving an adequate amount of liquids. Good job.
Way #1: Meditate
(“One thing about your demons they bound to catch up one day/ I’d rather see you stand up and face ‘em than run away/ I understand this message is not the coolest to say/ but if you down to try it, I know of a better way/ Meditate” -J.Cole, FRIENDS feat. kiLL edward, KOD)
Go cuddle up with a book underneath a shaded tree. Here are a couple of works from my personal read list.
Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds by Adrienne Maree Brown
A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle
The7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero
Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur (not motivational but good for healing)
Way #1: Journal- Get those thoughts out of you and onto paper. Writing about what distresses you increases your white blood cell count, reduces depression and anxiety, and gives you many more positive outcomes. If you’re interested in learning more about writing for healing, check out this amazing TED Talk given by Sue Reynolds, an award winning novelist and poet Writing Our Way Out of Trouble. And don’t forget to keep your journal put away in a safe place in order to maintain privacy.
Way #2: Create Art- Make encouraging signs and put them in your windows. Draw, color, paint, sculpt, build, photograph, write a poem, song, or story. The possibilities are endless.
Way #3: Let Go of the Past- Unless you have a time machine, changing the past is not an option. Make peace with your past and move forward. And remember, taking care of your mental health is sexy! Go to a therapist, if need be.
Use Healing Crystals
Here is a list of crystals that help to balance your chakras. Don’t know what chakras are? Go read my article 7 Sure Ways to Start Living Your Best Life to find out. All of this crystal information comes from one of my favorite reference books A Little Bit of Auras: An Introduction To Energy Fields by Cassandra Eason.
Root- Blood agate, fire opal, heliotrope, garnet, jasper, meteorite, obsidian, red aventurine, red tigereye, ruby.
Sacral- silver, moonstone, mother-of-pearl, opal, and selenite
Solar Plexus- calcite, chrysoberyl, lemon chrysoprase, citrine, jasper, rutilated quartz, and yellow topaz
This is a space for those who want to reach enlightenment. Whether you call yourself a Buddhist, Christian, Agnostic matters least. What matters most is that we are connecting with Source in order to bring peace and happiness into the world. Connect to source by calling on your angels, Spirit, God, your higher self, etc. Spending time in nature is also a way to become connected.
Get yourself in a positive mind-frame everyday, preferably first thing in the morning, or before you leave the house. Say a prayer, recite a mantra, or chant. Focus on gratitude, appreciation, protection, and abundance. I’ve vowed not to leave my house without chanting first, even if five minutes is all I have. That’s just enough time for Gongyo!
This is not an exhaustive list of resources but it’s a great start. Each one of these topics can be its own individual article. If you are interested in hearing more about a particular topic, please let me know.
The number 7 radiates at a highly spiritual vibration. There are 7 days in a week, 7 continents and seas on Earth, and 7 chakras that govern the body. As explained on “Avatar The Last Airbender” (Season 2, Episode 19), energy flows through our bodies like water flows through a creek. There are several pools where the water flows around before moving on. The pools are like our chakras. So basically, chakras are pools of spiraling energy in our bodies. And because life is messy, our chakras become blocked. When our chakras are blocked or imbalanced we experience negative impacts in our emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical health. It is our job to remove the blockages so the energy can flow freely. As a lifepath 7 (analytical spiritualist), I offer seven ways to begin the balancing process and manifest your best life.
#1: Take Responsibility
The Root Chakra
Location: Base of the spine
Deals with survival and is blocked by fear.
The power of taking responsibility is life altering. When we take responsibility for our circumstances, we reclaim autonomy over our lives. Part of gaining this understanding is accepting the fact that problems occur. Besides, we do not fully appreciate joy without suffering. Authors Hochswender, Martin, and Morino stress in their book The Buddha in Your Mirror: Practical Buddhism and the Search for Self that the goal of taking responsibility in our lives is to create self-reliance and understand that “If we are unhappy in our circumstances, we have the ability to do something about them.” I argue that not only do we have the ability to do something about our circumstances, but that it is our duty to do something about them.
#2: Heal Your Past Wounds
The Sacral Chakra
Location: Below the navel
Deals with personal desires and is blocked by guilt.
The first step to healing your past wounds is acknowledging them. “Avoidance of pain increases it. To heal, you must pass through the doorway of grief,” says psychologist Sean Grover. In his article titled “How to Recover When Life Crushes You”,he provides five steps on what to do after you’ve been emotionally hurt. The most relevant of which are giving yourself permission, time, and patience to grieve.
We all have things we are carrying from our childhood. A good friend of mine is very vocal about her journey moving through middle child syndrome. “I was so used to overgiving just to be seen. This behavior translated over into my relationships and I got taken advantage of by my past partners,” she admits. She remains open with me about her therapy sessions and this level of transparency has inspired me to seek out my own therapy.
Suffering in this life is inevitable. It is perfectly acceptable to seek the assistance of a professional to help you move forward. Wouldn’t you seek out a doctor for your broken bone? The same should hold true for your broken heart.
Speaking of heart, that segues us into my next point.
#3: Map Out Your Dreams
The Solar Plexus Chakra
Deals with willpower and is blocked by shame.
No more living with regrets! Take out a piece of paper and a pencil and write down all of your dreams. Map them out and start on the road to making them come true. Does a goal seem unrealistic to you? You can alter it to fit your current life. For example, one of my dreams as a child was to be a gymnast. I grew to be six feet tall, so needless to say that dream did not pan out. However, I enrolled in aerial dance classes at the age of twenty-nine. Aerial dance allows me the opportunities to still be flexible, perform, and do gravity defying stunts! Although I was not able to attain my dream of becoming a gymnast, I was able to do something within the same realm.
After you have a list of dreams, visualize the end goal. What does the final product look like? A great way to figure this out is to follow someone who does what you are aspiring to do at the highest level.
For instance, in Michael Jordan’s 2020 docuseries The Last Dance- Episode Five, Kobe Bryant states, “…Michael provided a lot of guidance for me… I feel like what you get from me is from him. I don’t get five championships here without him because he guided me so much and gave me so much great advice.” Kobe Bryant emulated Jordan from his walk down to how he performed on the court. Bryant is the ultimate success story of how following in the footsteps of great mentors can bring you greatness as well. Rest in peace, Kobe.
#4: Love Yourself
The Heart Chakra
Location: Center of the chest
Deals with love and is blocked by grief and loss.
Remember flying on planes? The flight attendants would give us directions on what to do just in case of emergency. Their number one rule: put your oxygen mask on first, before assisting others.
The same goes for love. Practice self love first. Your heart, soul, and emotional wellbeing are just as important as anyone else’s.
Soka Gakkai President Daisaku Ikeda passes along comforting words stating, “Perhaps you have had your heart broken and felt unable to go on, your self esteem in tatters. But you must never think you are worthless. No one can substitute for you, who are more precious than all the treasures in the universe put together.”
#5: Learn a new skill or develop a current one
The Throat Chakra
Location: The throat. Duh!
Deals with speaking your inner truth and is blocked by lies.
What better way to honor your inner truth than to live authentically. Part of honoring my inner truth was acknowledging that I am a teacher and a healer. As a young woman, I was extremely timid and afraid to show my talents to anyone. How could I inspire, heal, and entertain if I refused to let anyone see me in action? I was able to overcome this insecurity by practicing my skills. The better I became the more secure I became in my showing off my abilities. Take writing and publishing this article for instance.
In This Year You Write Your Novel, written bymy favorite author and mentor Walter Mosley, he gives a word of advice for fellow creators. “In order to be a writer, you have to set up a daily routine. Put aside an amount of time to sit with your computer or notebook.” I omitted the part where he says dedicate “[no] less than an hour and a half” because I know that life happens. The most important trait to establish here is consistency. If you practice your skill everyday, you will get better. If you have an hour and a half to dedicate to your practice, great! If all you can give is fifteen minutes, that’s okay too. Practice makes permanent.
#6: Give Appreciation
The Third Eye Chakra
Location: Between the eyes
Deals with insight and is blocked by illusion.
As a Black American woman, much of my history was lost during the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. I do not know which country or tribe in Africa my lineage derived from. I honor my ancestors with daily prayer because I understand the horrors under which they lived. Although my life is not perfect and I am oppressed in many ways, I recognize and acknowledge that I possess freedoms that my ancestors could have only imagined. Freedoms they fought and died for. I am their wildest dream come true. The Law of Conservation of energy maintains that energy is neither created nor destroyed. Many of my ancestors have passed but their energy still surrounds me. I honor them in gratitude for their guidance and protection.
#7: Remember What’s Important
The Crown Chakra
Location: The top of the head
Deals with the higher self and is blocked by material attachment.
Nichiren Daishonin, the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law asserted that there are three types of treasures in the world. He described them as:
Treasures in a storehouse (money and materials),
Treasures of the body (health and status) and,
Treasures of the heart (inner strength).
Above all, we are to seek treasures of the heart because they build absolute happiness. Absolute happiness is a state of enjoying your existence under any circumstances. In addition, we are warned against “construct[ing] a happy life based on wealth, status, fame, or beauty [because we] will eventually encounter dissatisfaction, loss, and unhappiness.”
In order to live our best lives we must take hold of the reigns. When we honor ourselves, give appreciation to the ones who’ve helped us along the way, and vow to make our dreams a reality; we heal and balance our chakras in the process. As long as you have breath in your lungs and consciousness in your mind, you can be victorious. With that said, I will conclude with wise words from singer Maxwell (“I can let it all pass me by/ Or I can get down and try/ Work it all out this lifetime, lifetime.”)
Hochswender, Martin, & Hancock. The Buddha In Your Mirror. Middleway Press, 2001.
Ikeda, Daisaku. Buddhism for You: Love. Middleway Press, 2006.
Deemed the Queen of Pop by many, Lady Gaga has been making waves for over a decade with her eccentric and boisterous persona and music. Gaga is an ally for the people who feel the most discarded by society.
“I want to help people…. I don’t wanna just take your money and sing for you. I want to help change your life,” says Gaga during her 2020 Visions Interview with Oprah. Well, I can profess she’s done just that for me with her new album Chromatica.
As a queer, dark-skinned Black woman, I have struggled with my identity as it relates to my place in the world. The release of Chromatica has plucked me out of my rabbit hole of despair and transformed me deep within its world of fortitude and empowerment.
Chromatica begins by ushering you into its dream world with the sounds of a grand galactic symphony, reminiscent of the sounds on KiD CuDi’s debut album Man on the Moon: The End of Day Album, another album which helped me through dire times in my life.
Gaga succeed in fully capturing me with her single “Rain on Me” featuring Ariana Grande. When this song plays, I cannot stay in my seat! Immediately, I am reminiscent of college days where I danced on bar tops with my best friend. The chorus is catchy and empowering (“I’d rather be dry, but at least I’m alive/ Rain on me, rain rain/Rain on me, rain rain.”)
“Sometimes I’ve thought I’ve cried so many tears that that’s all I was anymore— a fountain of misery to cycle through,” Gaga stated while giving background on her hit single. Between Covid-19 claiming countless lives and the vicious police brutality against Black people, a deep depression found solace in my heart. I too cried countless tears with all that was going on around me. One of my worst fears as a Black American is to become a victim of police brutality. As Black people we are trained from young on how to interact with the police. Be overly polite. Always keep your hands visible. Keep all documents accessible. And the reality is that none of those precautions keep us from being murdered by the police.
Blacks continue to be lynched by white supremacists with little or no justice served. Ahmaud Arbery’s murder especially triggered me because it further amplified this unsavory truth about American race relations. Ahmaud was a 25-year-old Black man that was fatally gunned down by a White father and son during his jog in a Georgia neighborhood, earlier this year. Following this heartbreak came the horrific murder of Breonna Taylor, who has yet to receive any form justice, after being murdered by the police in her own home while she slept.
Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, George Floyd, …the names continue on and on as my thoughts swirled out of control. In the midst of this trauma, Lady Gaga lended her money and platform to organizations serving firsthand in the fight for equality.
Gaga also gets very candid about her stance on love throughout the album. She professes in an exclusive storyline with Spotify that she’s been labeled a love addict and acknowledges that there is “freedom in simply acknowledging that [her] need for love is a bottomless pit.”
I have been yearning to experience an overflowing, “ace of cups love,” as I would describe it to my tarot-friendly readers. This yearning for a partnership contradicts my independent nature. Lady Gaga understands this dichotomy within me. I am proud to be an independent woman; however, my ability to be independent does not cancel out my desire to be in an intimate relationship. This point directs me to my next favorite song on the album, Free Woman. (“I’m not nothing without a steady hand/ I’m not nothing unless I know I can / I’m still something if I dont got a man/ I’m a free woman.”)
Gaga reveals that her song Free Woman was birthed from her experience of being sexually assaulted by a music producer. She says that the assault compounded her feelings and made her think about what she had compromised to get to where she is now. For the past two years, I have been in this space of analyzing the painful parts of my past in order to make way for my future. Gaga helped me to remember to trust myself. To use my voice. And, to remember what I deserve.
I would like to give special mentions to my other favorite songs on the album: Plastic Doll, Sour Candy, and Babylon. These songs reiterate themes of being valued, remaining a fighter, and dancing your way through life. Chromatica unleashed pieces within me needed to rise from the ashes. Her words made me feel validated, seen, and powerful in all of my glory.
Give it a listen. I hope it does the same and more for you. Oh, and I’m totally here for an Alice Remix featuring Janelle Monae! Let’s keep our fingers crossed.
It’s no secret that dark-skinned women experience more discrimination in the music industry compared to their light-skinned counterparts. Just take a look at the most popular Black female artists and you will see that a majority of them are disproportionately light-skinned. This year, a rapper by the name of Asian Doll aka Asian Da Brat called out colorism in a series of heated social media posts. She herself has struggled with negative self image, no doubt due to lack of positive dark skin female representation in the Black community and in media.
Although her comments were focused towards light-skinned women, there is no arguing against the fact that colorism greatly plagues mainstream media. Dark skinned women are afforded less opportunities and have to work 10x as hard to receive adequate representation. So, in an attempt to battle colorism and to give recognition where it’s deserved, here is a list of dark skinned women artists who prove that Black is Beautiful.
Carrying on the legacy of Queen Latiah and MC Lyte, Grammy nominated rapper Rapsody is a full fledged emcee hailing from North Carolina. Her pro-Black lyrics pass along messages of self love, natural beauty positivity, perseverance, education, and Black issues. Rapsody has received co-signs from some of hip-hop’s greatest legends like Jay-Z, J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, and the late Nipsey Hussle, just to name a few. Rapsody allows her talent to speak for itself instead of leaning heavily on her sexuality, a one-dimensional trick many women in the music industry rely on. Her latest project Eve, which was released in 2019, pays homage to influential Black women. My favorite songs on the album are “Afeni”featuring PJ Morton and “Iman” featuring SiR & JID. In addition, I have had the pleasure of seeing Rapsody perform on stage back in 2016 at the Ogden Theatre in Denver, Colorado where she graced the stage with Pharoe Monch, Talib Kweli, and 9th Wonder. I’m happy to admit she noticed my green head wrap in the crowd and serenaded me.
Tinkis part of a cohort of artists that emerged from the Windy City in the last decade. The Chicago native’s music was ushered into the mainstream by music producer Timbaland with her single “Million”, a spinoff of the beloved Aaliyah’s hit song “One in a Million”. Tink was also featured as part of the 2015 XXL Freshman Class, where she delivered one of the best freestyles during the cypher. She was featured on the XXL cover alongside DeJ Loaf, Fetty Wap, GoldLink, and Vince Staples, just to name a few. The multi-talented artist gives off a feminine vibe in her music, singing and rapping lovesick lyrics over boomin’ beats. Sex, love, betrayal, and street life are among some of her common topics. If you’re an R&B lover then Tink’s catalogue just might resonate with you.
Chika is a powerhouse rapper coming out of Montgomery, Alabama. She performs with the same fury, speed, and passion as her contemporaries, proving that anything men can rap, women can rap better. The 23-year-old is very vocal in the community speaking on topics such as: politics, Black issues, queer issues, and body positivity. She uses her platform to be a voice for marginalized people and has even performed on Jimmy Kimmel Live! Chika has a great sense of humor and can be found making people laugh wherever she goes. My favorite Chika performance is her NPR Tiny Desk Concert which debuted March 2020 and already has over 1.3 million views.
Float away with the soulful, buttery vocals of R&B artist Ari Lennox. As the leading lady on J. Cole’s label Dreamville, Lennox brings a new breath of fresh air to the neo-soul genre. With six award nominations between 2019 and 2020, Lennox is rapidly becoming a recognizable figure in the music industry. We get a multi-dimensional view of Ari Lennox on her debut album Shea Butter Baby as she displays her openness, sensuality, humor, consciousness, and vulnerability. The DMV artist is transparent and delivers coming of age stories in a raw and down-to-Earth fashion. Something else to admire about Lennox—she loves her fans and interacts with them during her live shows.
Kamiyah harnesses the true sound of the Bay Area. The self-professed “Queen of High Street” showcases the real, the dirty, and the grimey parts of Oakland (shoutout East Oakland!). Most known for her feature on YG’s song “Why You Always Hatin?” featuring Drake, she has collaborated with Schoolboy Q, Quavo, Tyga, and other Oakland artists like Keyshia Cole, Kehlani, and Too $hort. Her hard flow and straight-shooter lyrics put her in the league with other rappers such as City Girls, Cardi B, and Megan Thee Stallion. Her sound and videos highlight the hyphy movement, which went mainstream due to artists like the late Mac Dre and E-40. Kamaiyah further proves to us that “Black Excellence”can come straight out of the projects. Check out her latest album Got it Made on all major streaming platforms.
Justine Skye rose to fame after her Tumblr account went viral. Singer, songwriter, and model Justine Skye possesses an angelic voice that will lift you right out of your seat. Her musical sound can be described as a fusion of island vibes, R&B, and Pop. Skye has released her followup album Bare with Me which is a continuation of her 2019 EP. This album is her most vulnerable project to date exploring topics of romantic chemistry, the conflicting emotions involved with being in love, devastating breakups, egos, and much more. I thoroughly enjoy all 10 songs on the album. My favorite songs on the album are “No Options” and “Million Years” because they speak to being involved in toxic relationships. Skye dazzles us with crafty, unexpected vocal performances throughout the album. And with over 2 million followers on Instagram, the songstress stays stunning fans with her vibrant life and stunning photos– all of which she has been doing since the age of 16.