Tag Archives: Freedom

The Contours of Voice: Meditations on Vocal Revolution

I’ve been a reader all of my life. I can’t remember a time when I couldn’t read or didn’t pick up a book intent on sopping up the words written inside like a giant sea sponge. Books helped me to understand voice. As the descendant of enslaved peoples who were forbidden from reading as well as a grandfather who only went to 6th grade because he was needed to work on the farm but read the New York Times every week, my mother insisted that we read instead of watch television. Reading was revolution and believe me, we did it well. 

 I remember reading Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye” one summer. I was 13 and had just gone through a traumatic rape the summer before. Unlike Pecola Breedlove, there was no unexpected pregnancy to broadcast my shame and I hadn’t told anyone, not even my mother or best friend. I remember sitting with this book in my hands and feeling as though I could escape to a better world. Was it true? I still don’t know. What I do know is that books have saved my life. In high school through to college and even now after “entering the real world”, I find myself caught and enthralled by the words of black women writers. Audre Lorde and Toni Morrison, Alice Walker and Ntozake Shange, Toni Cade Bambara, L.A. Banks and Mia MacKenzie. 

What is it about black womxn writers? We’ve found a way to save ourselves, to continue to use our voices even though to know your own voice is revolutionary in itself, and to transmit that voice is power. But lets back up, because as usual, I fast forward when I talk about black womxnhood because I get excited. 

Reading is one thing, writing is another. I’ve never really been a good writer in the conventional sense. I hated writing papers but I’ve always kept journals from childhood to present day. Something about academia and the way it sought to stomp out my individual tone rather than build it up gave me intense anxiety. I am a procrastinator by lack of spirit at the right moments and while I intend to to do things in a certain fashion, if inspiration doesn’t hit, well then I’m stuck there in front of my computer wishing and waiting for the writing gods to bless me. I don’t do well with deadlines and finality. But isn’t consistency, key? In the polarities of life, how am I finding my voice?  

Voice changes. Literally. Our vocal capacities change with time. It’s proven. Sometimes our voices get heavier with time, raspier, etc. As our voice changes literally, does it change with perception as well, our artist voices a mirror of what our physical realities offer? Reading young Maya Angelou is very different from reading the seasoned woman. If we continue living, our views should continue changing right? We continue to adapt to the world around us or we die. I keep finding myself in states of aporia, where everything I thought I knew is actually what I don’t know at all. I’m constantly back to the beginning. I may not be a huge fan of old Socrates, but he was definitely on to something with the method of Socratic questioning that he learned from his African predecessors. Yes, I had to sneak that in there. 

Learning my own voice is a constant state of questioning. Nothing is final. What I love today, I might despise tomorrow. Everything changes just as the seasons do or don’t. #ClimateChange. But seriously, what is my style today? Who is it that I am today? What helps me to find my voice? In the midst of a world in turmoil, how do we, black womxn and on a larger scale, human beings find our voices? How do we reach those who need the physical help, and soul soothing needed during times of pain and struggle? 

Love Always,
Damali Speaks Xx

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Flash Forward Friday – Passage Two

“Mommy!” A little girl screamed with joy as she ran around in the tall grass, woods surrounding her as she was chased by her mother. “I’m gonna get you!” The woman, her mother screamed after her. 

They moved with such grace, the woman and the small child who seemed almost a carbon copy of her mother. Through trees as tall as the sky itself, they ran and ducked and dodged. In this time, no sounds of modern technology surrounded them as they ran and played. No planes or trains. No cars or buses or cellular phones. With no shoes, clothes made of animal skin and the golden and strong look of brown skinned people who spent precious time in the sun, the two looked perfectly at home in a natural scene such as this. Around and around they ran, laughing the whole way. It somehow seemed that the more they laughed, the faster the world whizzed by.

 Finally, in one swoop the mother of the child, let’s call her Andrena, picked up the young girl and down they fell in the tall grass, the sounds of a waterfall thundering close by. They continued to laugh, mother and child until they could laugh no more and together, they rolled and looked up at the sky.
 “Mommy?” the little girl said, inquisitive as ever. “Yes, my love?” Andrena responded. “What’s up there past the sky?” the little girl turned and looked at her mother with such a look of earnestness and curiosity that seemed beyond her young years. “Well, no one truly knows. Some say heaven, some say space, some even say the Gods and Goddesses.” The little girl snorted a laugh. “But what do you say mommy?” Andrena turned and looked at this little girl; her little girl. The only child she had ever truly given birth to. The child’s beautifully coiled braids had come loose during their time of play and her big poofy hair framed her face like a lions’ mane. 

Her pupils were a light green and as Andrena stared into them, she knew very well how interesting life would be for her “new-being” daughter as different as she was. “I say that discovering your own truth is the only way you’ll know. Now come my little Cora. It’s time for us to be going.” 

Andrena held her daughter’s hand, the girl’s eyes returning to their original deep dark brown and together they flew onward. 

Hello, Goodbye, Is it a Forever Thing?: Meditations on Human Existence & Saying Farewell

Hey Speakerz! So this week, I was surrounded indirectly with a lot of death. I personally am not as much scared of death as intrigued by it. When I scrolled through the news, there was so much of what seemed to be death and despair, but what I was most drawn to was the fact of human frailty. Today’s topic is on the human existence, death and rebirth.

From the time human beings are born, we’re forced to say both hello and goodbye to so many things in our lives. We say hello to our immediate family members when we’re born and then goodbye when they pass on. We say hello to our friends and as we grow and change, sometimes we leave them behind and move forward and new people come into our lives and stay or go. Every day, we wake up and say hello to a new day and the new possibilities that it brings in its wake. You’d think that we would’ve perfected the art of death and rebirth already. But maybe the question is, how does humanity embrace death and rebirth instead of perfecting it?

We live in a world that strives for perfection, yet human beings are undeniably flawed and that’s what’s so beautiful about us. We make mistakes. We breathe, we reason, we find meaning in each season. Yes, I know, I rhymed purposefully. I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with striving for the best that there is. That’s realistic. It leads me to question how it is that we set goals and then set out to achieve them. How is being intentional with all that you do important in creating balance?

I always set “impossible goals” for myself. This summers’ impossible goal is a short film and believe it or not, it’s actually unfolding, mostly through sheer will and determination. My point is that what seems to be an “impossible goal” can actually be very possible. It’s the challenge that matters. The striving toward and not the completion of a job perfectly done. Why is it that we strive toward the end result? It isn’t just the “hello” and “goodbye” that matter as much as the life in between.

With the end of friendships and relationships, come lessons. When people walk out of my life, it’s generally through no ones’ fault, but just that it’s time to move on. It’s the journey that matters more than anything. When I watch a film, I don’t want to watch just the begging and the end, I want to see the arch. 

I went to Barnes & Nobles the other day and saw so many books on getting through missing a person. I thought it was strange and so I set about the dig for what it all meant. Then, I sat down to speak with a friend and they talked about how hard it is to end things or to let someone go. Does it all come back to self worth? Do I have to love myself enough to choose me every time? How much growth is in each goodbye? Literal death forces us to let go and begin a grieving process, but what about the walk away? How do we handle each goodbye no matter how or when with grace and acceptance?

I never did resonate with “Goodbye” but instead leaned toward “Farewell”, the idea that though our journey together ends here, I hope that on your journey as it continues, you fare well with home in yourself, completeness, and a self worthy of all that you are. 

Farewell until next time,

Damali Speaks Xx

 

Let Us Not Forget: Meditations on How and When to Slow Down and Live in Truth

Hay Blogosphere! The last time we spoke in this fashion, I was just about to venture to New York City. Well, here I am in NYC, setting up my apartment, working all the time on myself, my elevation, and my art. It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything in a political vein. I think I let that part of myself disappear a little bit because frankly, I’d much rather live with all of my energy intact and too much of my energy was sacrificed in moments of speaking politically and critically. I do realize that being an activist is a deep part of myself and in the wake of the Womens’ March on Washington and other cities and talks of intentional spaces devoted to all women, I found myself sliding back into the thoughts that I once loved so very much. Talking about injustice and working toward the collective human experience go hand in hand in my spirit. So what is the topic today, you ask? The topic of today is about not forgetting the truth, the importance of knowing  your spirit and listening when the universe says to slow down.

In this particular world that we live in, we all hold different identities. While some of us hold fast to these labels, others of us don’t. But society likes to define us human beings in gender, sex, “race”, socioeconomic stature and more. The further breakdown encompasses “what we do”, our hobbies, our bread and butter, our talents, what makes us money. Somewhere thousands of years ago, somehow those designated sexually as male, decided to oppress those sexually designated as female. Through centuries of perfection of the system, we have patriarchy as it exists today. Separated into categories mentioned previously, there developed the hierarchy according to “race” and sex, etc. This applies to the Womens Marches because every time women as an oppressed group gather to voice, somehow, white women are always the loudest voice. Until this changes, where can a movement of womens’ concerns go? Until all women are truly listened to and accepted for the magnificent Goddess deity’s that we are, how can we instill change? The short answer being that we can’t, and that is why very little progress for all women’s rights has truly taken flight across the globe, not just in the United States but elsewhere as well.

Since exploring the self love journey and truly seeing where the rabbit hole goes, I’m learning how to listen when the universe says to slow down. Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of work, and very little slow down, with vampire hours of operation. Although this feels good because I love working for myself, this can sometimes facilitate a work into a whole. There are lots of ways in which the universe facilitates a slow down. It always takes me a huge whammy because as my mother says, “A hard head makes a soft behind.” So today while making a smoothie, I cut my finger. I mean, cut into, lots of blood, hand taped up cut. Did I really need any other message for slowing all the way down? Nope! I could say,  woe is me, I can’t draw or write for at least a week, but that’s boring. I can still type, drive and truly exercise my ambidextrous nature!

When the Universe forcefully places things in our path, how well do we adapt? Human beings are natural adaptors. We either adapt or die. We see it all the time in survival films and tv shows. We go back to our natural state of being and adapt, move forward. Meanwhile, as we survive, we forget about how important it is to thrive. On this incredible journey of life, let nothing stop you from your dreams and needs. Constantly challenge yourself to adapt, breathe and move at a pace that you set for yourself.

 

Love always,

Damali Speaks Xx

 

On Definitions, Artistry & Trusting the Process

Hello Blogosphere! What are weeks in this world that we live in? I’m loving the fact that each week is so very different from the last and when I sit down to write this, I’m incredibly inspired just from my experiences of the last 7 days. Alrighty! What happened this week, you ask? Well, it was full, I’ll tell you that much. The topic of this week involves definition of self, the cycle of life and trusting the process of finding yourself.

I’ve always had a hard time defining myself. I like to live in the undefined because secretly, I have a hatred of words. It sometimes feels like the language in speaking is exhausting rather than exhilarating which makes me the quiet entity that I am. I would much rather take my time to formulate my thoughts. Thoughts are deceiving. If I said out loud everything that crossed my mind, I dunno what the world would be like for me. Chaotic maybe? Taking the time to dig into myself and to sort my thoughts before I speak them gives me the good sense to know who I am, truly.

Definitions are boxes that I prefer to live out of. This would be great, if I wasn’t an artist and if building a business didn’t require me to label myself for convenience and building a following. Every day that I leave my house, I as a human being on the earth, am forced to define myself. I’m an artist, theater artist, singer, dancer, choreographer, artistic director, director, playwright, etc. All these labels do nothing but exhaust me and half the time I don’t actually feel like I embody any and all of them. So how do we find the freedom? How do we truly know who we are albeit the thoughts and words that we speak?

Finding myself requires a constant state of observation. Lately, I’ve found myself saying that I want to crawl inside myself, set up a shelf and build a home. In doing this introspective work, I’ve found that I have a real affinity for animal spirits. It’s funny, as New Age as I am, I can sometimes shy away from the stuff that seems “too new agey” and animal spirits was one of them. After literally growling at my friend the other day, I took notice and decided to do some research. We as human beings are in a constant state of flux. We have to allow the space where we are and where we want to be to invigorate us, otherwise we fall into the trap and never come out again. Who am I today? Who have I been? Who do I want to be?

Someone once told me that life is formulated in cycles. Whoever came up with the circle of life via Lion King circa 90’s needs a raise. The cycle of death and rebirth is constant from the time we’re born to the time that we die and even after. It’s a giant circle. Lately, I’ve had the impulse to hold a baby. I realized that baby was and is myself. I’m being reborn into a new cycle of myself. Why do I say all this? Well now I have to find out who I am as an artist. Yes. I am an artist. I am a multi-talented artist. Now what? Dig deeper.

 

Damali Speaks Xx

Establishing Womb, Home & Center: Meditations on Change and Self

Hey yo Blogosphere! I know, that title is a little daunting and you’re probably wondering what in the world I’m about to write about. Well, a “new year” brings with it new revelations as well as new waves of energy to be used. Whether used for ill or well, the energy demands that it be used. How is the question isn’t it?

I haven’t spoken about my sexual assault history for a long time, mostly because I’m at a place where it no longer plagues my life. I’ve made peace with it and choose to live in forgiveness. I learned from the experience. But, one of the hardest parts of living as a survivor of sexual assault for me was the healing. I will be in a process of healing for the rest of my life. Does that make me angry? It did. Does it make me exhausted? It used to. Does this all make me human? Even more so. We are in control of what the universe sends to us, and when we aren’t we can choose how to build and grow from the experience. I am not a victim. I was sexually assaulted, and I choose to build myself, grow and to support others as we continue to live on this misogynistic plane. We must embrace our own forms of healing, because the only person who can heal us is ourselves.

Part of my healing process has been to embrace my womb, the womb that was taken forcefully and yet is still very much mine.  Looking at how we do healing in the US, I seem to have been steering away from your classic therapy. I’ve found some of my most healing moments not in group sessions or one-on-one meetings with a trained therapist, but in spaces devoted to yoga, meditation, crystals, masturbation, and journaling, etc. to have all been very healing for me. We find our healing in different ways. Sometimes, talking through the pain and the illogical findings of the brain are what’s best, and other times, I have to find my own way through the trauma with physicality, warm spaces and tears. All are valid. All are sacred. Most importantly, all are what I need for myself and given to myself freely and with nothing but love.

For some people, healing involves completely abstaining from sex. For others, it involves having a lot of sex. Sex with a womb that needs healing can be daunting. I know that when I was having frequent sex, I personally found myself having to stop sometimes because of an on-coming panic attack or just feeling a memory and being caught in the flashback. It’s hard and it’s something that isn’t really talked about. We must be patient with ourselves through the pain and embrace the pleasure of our own energy. I give myself the permission to wake up, to be power-full, to embrace all of myself.

I’ve said it before in other posts, but home for me is myself. Wherever I am is home because I am home inside of myself. I want to open myself up like a book, look around, carve a little shelf and go to sleep in my own warmth. In doing this, I’ve found who I am and just what it is that I’m capable of. I’m an artist in so many ways, a writer, a dancer, an alchemist, a creator, and so much more. We must heal ourselves, we must reclaim our energy, we must move forward. Live in the truth. Stand in your truth. Stand in your light.

Love always,

Damali Speaks Xx

When The Underworld Offers You Food & Drink: Meditations on Vibrations

Hello Blogosphere! Wow. I can’t believe that a week has gone by so very fast! In all the flurries of life, I almost forgot the “holiday season”. I don’t celebrate at all. I haven’t made a holiday phone call or bought gifts for about 2 or so years. I think of the “holidays” as purely for commercial purposes. A time to get lost in the flurry of the wrong vibrations, so as to not focus and cultivate the powerful vibrations present at this time of year. But I’m getting so far ahead of myself. Let’s go back and start at the top.

When I was little, I developed an obsession with Greek mythology, in particular the story of Persephone. Persephone was the daughter of the Goddess of Spring, Demeter. Persephone is tricked into going into the Underworld by Hades, ruler of the very same domain. There are many ways to tell the story but my favorite was the trick of food and drink. The trick is not to eat anything or drink anything when one is in the Underworld. If you refuse the sustenance, you can leave, relatively untouched. If you eat or drink of the Underworld, the Underworld owns your soul. Persephone ate and drank while in the Underworld and Hades married her and kept her there during the winter months, while during the Spring and Summer, she was allowed to return to her mother. I remember when my mom would say, “Be careful who you eat and drink with. Only break bread with those who wish you well.” I always remembered that. There are so many moments in life where our gut tells us one thing and we know damn well that we shouldn’t do it, yet we go right on ahead. I know that Persephone’s gut intuition must’ve said, “Girl! Don’t eat that food!” and yet she trusted so much that people wouldn’t hurt her, that she ate it to her own detriment. Why don’t we follow what we know to be true? Why is it so simple that we make it hard?

Trust. Trust is one of those things that takes years to build up and can all be destroyed in 30 seconds or less. Yet, we have to go through life with even just a small amount of trust, right? I trust that my car won’t break down. I trust that this food is going to sustain me and not make me ill. I trust that I can hop in my car and drive to the beach without getting killed on the way there.  But what about when that trust is shattered? Is our existence at stake? How do we take stock of who we are when trust has been compromised?

My mother used to always tell me to “trust vibrations” because “they never lie”. She would say that people can hide their motives, they can hide their real feelings but “vibrations” can never be manipulated. If we go back to science, we and everything on this planet is made up of energy. We come from energy, we return to energy and with this energy, comes a certain vibration. It isn’t good or bad, it just is. Low vibrations tend to make us operate at a lower frequency and exist solely on one plane of essence. We eat, we sleep, we go through the motions. Higher vibrations help us to elevate. We run, jump, meditate, create, move mountains, and more with endless possibility and endless existence. But what about when we get scared of our own greatness? Reaching higher vibrations, or elevating can be scary. Life can be so simple that it’s hard and it’s in that simplicity that we find the courage to move forward with our purpose in life.

I heard a quote one time and I can’t remember who said it now but it ran along the lines of “It’s not our dark but our light that frightens us.” This makes me think. We all have a dichotomy that we cling to and fight against. The dark vs. the light. My personal dichotomy is between allowing my greatness to soar or allowing pride to surface. How do we truly find the balance? When we take the time to know ourselves truly, inside and out, we recognize our humanity and allow our souls to soar. We elevate. In elevation, we must also recognize that there is balance in all things. Humanity survives on balance. When things are extremes, we find panic attacks, anxiety, hopelessness, depresssion, etc. Stay in balance. Check yourself before you wreck yourself and allow yourself the accountability. It’s okay to say “I fucked up”, just don’t let the fuck up stop you.

To bring it all back, being careful about where and how we accept food and drink is really how we accept life and love from ourselves. Trust in vibrations, is truly about how we trust in our own greatness and in our own vibrational force. As the Matrix compels us, will we take the red or blue pill? Will we set ourselves free with the tools discovered, or will we go back to a world of misgivings? I choose to wake, to love, to engage fully with myself and to reap the benefits of all that encompasses.

What will you choose?

 

Damali Speaks Xx