I am honored to have been awarded the 2015 Young Mother of the Year with American Mothers, Inc. Anyone who knows me personally understands that I am very passionate about my role as a mother, as any other dedicated mom. Although my children recognize that they are most important in my life, I’ve recently discovered that taking care of me first helps not only makes me be the best mother I can possibly be but also the best caretaker for myself.
You know how we women have that women’s disease? We tend to everyone else’s needs first then us whatever energy we have left to take care of ourselves. Yeah that disease! I learned to shift my priorities…for me.
This doesn’t mean that I still don’t tend to my families needs (it’s in my genes:). I just had to incorporate changes that gave me self-fulfillment. That sense of joy in doing what makes me happy. And I must admit…making them happy gives me joy as well.
I’m looking forward to meeting other like-minded moms at the convention on April 23-25, 2015 (two weeks from now) and giving my story behind why being a mom is important to me and why I do what I do as an individual, mother, wife, artist, author, activist…and my journey continues.
Want to join me? Register here.
My fundraiser for my upcoming project, I Am More Than My Hair, has 42 days left to reach my goal of $15,000. Please make a donation – no amount is too small – and SHARE with family, friends and social media platforms. Donate HERE!
So I’m finally letting the cat out the bag. In a previous newsletter I mentioned I was working on a new project but didn’t give any specifics. And I’ve received tons of calls from friends and family inquiring why they haven’t heard much from me lately.
To tell the truth, over the past several months I have been in hiatus. Besides taking some needed time for myself, doing mommy duty and starting amazing entrepreneurship classes with Empowered Women International, I have been focusing on an upcoming photography book project.
I Am More Than My Hair is a photography book celebrating the beauty of baldness (bare headed). It includes participants who have lost their hair due to alopecia, cancer, trichotillomania or any other hair loss condition as well as those who cut their hair in support of a loved one.
On January 12, 2015 (changed date to reflect the criteria of a successful campaign and to give me more time to organize), I will launch a crowdfunding campaign for my upcoming book and I ask for your support in helping to make it a success by spreading the word. $25,000 raised will help me with the production of I Am Not My Hair as well as professional assistance with marketing, design, editing, layout as well as assistance from a publicist and administrative assistant. In other words…through my first book I’ve learned that hiring a professional is a tremendous benefit. And although I remain self-published, I am making some tweaks this time around.
As with Feminine Transitions, I Am Not My Hair is a social-change project paying tribute to the girls and women who’ve lost their hair involuntarily and to those who cut their hair in solidarity.
Through this journey I have noticed there is an undeniable radiance in bare headed females. In my opinion, attention isn’t drawn to them due to a lack of hair. Instead their features become more captivating. You truly see raw beauty as hair is not a distraction.
“The best way I can describe my experience is without the focus on hair you truly see the soul.”
Until then, expect a newsletter about my participation at EWI’s upcoming Artisan Food & Marketplace as well as other unique holiday gift ideas.
Please also share share this information with any girls and women that may be interested in participating in my project. My contact information can be found on my website www.Alyscia.com.
In September 2012 an email with the subject “Aging Gracefully” was forwarded to me by an artist I met briefly prior to this day. In the body of her email she wrote, “I saw this and immediately thought about your book.”
I reached out to Madisyn, to let her know how much I appreciated her article on DailyOM.com (it was my first time knowing about this site as well). She responded with gratitude and I joined her email list. I wanted to read more.
Somehow Madisyn’s articles brought me back…
As a child, I used to often journal, write stories and poetry. It was my creative escape. I loved writing and English was my favorite subject (as long as I was busy creating my own stories). After I became a mother I seemed to have put that on the back burner.
It was time for a change. I happened to start-up writing again two weeks prior when I started a blog.
Around the same time, I was actually searching for a ghostwriter to compose the introduction section of Feminine Transitions. I honestly thought I couldn’t do it.
I just didn’t connect with the writing samples sent to me. It didn’t feel as if it were me speaking from my experience. It wasn’t heartfelt.
I decided to reached out to Madisyn and ask for a recommendation. She made it real simple, sharing her outlook. She said I do not connect with the writings because I did not write it. And advised that I take some time out of the house, with a cup of tea and simply begin to write from the heart.
To make a long story short, I did exactly as she said…at Starbuck’s.
Not only did I create an introduction that I sincerely connected with but I gained my confidence in writing once again.
I say all of this to say…thank you Madisyn. You were a tremendous aide in my writing journey…and it continues.
It was a pleasure to return to California for the second time this year (my second time thus far). Once I arrived, my reasons for falling in love with this place the first time, immediately came back to me.
There’s something about the sunshine, beautiful landscape and laid back energy that soothes my soul. I simply connect with the land innately.
The best way I can explain is to say California connects with my spirit.
I don’t believe in perfection, so as anything else, it has its ups and downs. One of the biggest downs being the lack of cultural diversity on the south side of Cali (San Diego), which is the area I adore in particular. However, I haven’t visited northern California as yet. That will be my next trip.
My children, being in a classroom where they are not singled out as the only black is very important to me. All things considered, before making the leap I realized I have some planning to do. That word “planning” is a bit foreign to my spirit. I almost always get up, go and know it will all work out.
At this point, however, I realize that for the sake of my children and sanity (this mama will be at the school everyday if there are issues) planning is our best option.
Regardless, I still breathe spontaneity :).
My reason for visiting this time around was to speak at the Green Festival in Los Angeles. The organization selected me as a presenter and I spoke on the topic “Embrace Your Natural Beauty”. As always, the audience was receptive to my message.
It was eye-opening to hear a man’s perspective of beauty at the end of my presentation. He asked for the mic to thank me for my appearance then went into a brief personal story about his experience.
He said he struggled for many years with low self-esteem, was over 400 lbs while in his 20’s-30’s and pretty much lost hope. He then mentioned how much of a blessing it was to have met his lovely wife (pointing her out in the audience). The love she showed him gave him hope once again.
She saw past what HE thought was unattractive and loved him for who he was. From then, learning to love himself in his own skin, and gaining a different perspective, led him to loosing close to 300 lbs. He also worked through his issues of low self-esteem.
How wonderful was that!
Although I am sure there are other men/boys who have encountered similar struggles, this was the first time that I’ve personally heard a man openly express his experience of self-imagery, challenges and triumph.
I realized that men have trials of self-acceptance as well. Unfortunately, I believe they do not have the opportunity or platform to express it as they should.
Our society tends to focus on women and girl empowerment. Although it is vital (this is my focus as well), sadly we forget our boys.
The fact is, just as a little girl learns how a man should treat her by the relationship she has with her father, our boys learn from us their mothers. And in many cases (not all of course – just putting that out there for my sensitive debatable folks) how a man treats his significant other is a direct reflection of the relationship he had with his mother.
My point is, we tend to forget our boys but we can’t afford to. We need to hear more of their stories and aid them through their human experiences.
So maybe it’s time for Masculine Transitions? Something to think about.
Back to my story…
After the Green Festival, I met up with a few of the ladies (and a husband) of Black Female Photographers (BFP). That Saturday, September 14, 2014 was the 3rd Annual National Black Female Photographers Day (#NBFPD). It provides an opportunity for our sisters in photography to reach out to their communities and with them, explore the beauty of their cities through photo tours and to share their love of photography with others.
Not only was it nice to connect in sisterhood, but was wonderful to associate off of social media (I joined via Facebook over three years ago) and learn about the history of that particular area of LA. Fellow BFP Ysa Adams, was a wonderful host. Much thanks and admiration for Kym Scott, the founder of BFP, for organizing this annual event!
I had to depart from the group earlier than the others since I had to get ready for a meet and greet with WAM!LA (Women, Action & the Media, Los Angeles). Before the Ladydinner with WAM! I met up with Angela McCrae, a friend who move to LA from MD. Angela and I went to elementary, Jr high, high school and college together (the 2 months of college I bared at Morgan State University before dropping out and going to Montgomery College – the university scene just wasn’t for me).
I first met Angie in the 6th grade (when I first moved here from NY). After 23 years, she still possess the character traits that I believed connected us from the very beginning. We were always cool. That’s true sincerity. I always say, little people are simply that. LITTLE PEOPLE. Their personalities don’t change, it only develops. With that in mind, make sure your raising good people.
Nonetheless, it was great seeing you Angie!
Later (yes my day continues) I finally meet up with the ladies of WAM!LA as the special guest for the Ladydinner at Lula Cocina in Santa Monica. I was invited to talk about my book Feminine Transitions.
First off, I truly believe in the core values of WAM! and feel it is in line with my message of social change that I currently and will continue to promote.
That night, I networked with an amazing group of women, had great conversation and a delicious meal. Special thanks to Melanie Klein for organizing such a wonderful event! We shall meet the next time around.
Overall, and once again, I had such an exceptional time.
Weeks before leaving for California, I connected with two San Diego Meet Up groups. Black Women of San Diego and Women Hikers of San Diego. I’m sorry I didn’t capture any pictures of the Meet Ups but the memory will always remain.
One thing I cannot deny is the power and connection we create as women. I am a firm believer in the “village” saying as well as the power of sisterhood. Unbiased, trustworthy, loving, lean on me type of sisterhood love. Despite our situations, status and decisions we make in our lives, when we get together we connect on a level that relieves stress and ignites inner strength.
We create life, calm the beast, kiss a cut, make it feel all better and are the true nurtures of life.
Together as girls and women, WE ROCK THE WORLD. So let’s rock!
With that in mind, I am learning not to judge as we are imperfectly perfect. At this point in my life, I choose who I allow the privilege to be a part of my life. However, I understand that we are all human and our current circumstances are in most cases an outcome of our past. As long as one is willing to listen and be honest, completely honest, with one another (something I always say…if you don’t want honesty, don’t ask me for my opinion), our experience in this world will be much more rewarding.
I give thanks for the light of the universe for always granting me favor (even if I may not see it at that very moment).
Thanks to my Uncle and Kiva Zip contributors for making my trip to the west coast possible. Thank you my dear Sister Trista Hendren for your dedication in support of my campaign and spreading the word like wildfire. You consistent posting helped to make it a success! I have nothing but love for you.
Click here to learn how you can help businesses grow around the world by lending to 0% interest loans. Making a small loan can change a life.
Wishing everyone healthy family relationships, genuine friendships, and true love and happiness.
Lately, more than ever, my animal encounters leave me wondering if the meaning is deeper than the surface. In other words, there must be a message connected to my meeting with these animals and insect.
My realization is in no doubt contributed to the interview and conversation I had with Ann Quasman, founder of Woman Talk Live. Ann brought together myself along with Natalie Forest and Mare Cromwell on her show titled “Listen… The Messages Are There for You”
The show was simply about the power of messages.
“A nudge. The cardinal that shows up on your patio every morning. The person who calls you just as you are thinking of them. The hand you feel on your shoulder when no one is there. The energy you feel from a certain place. The meeting someone for the first time and feeling you’ve known them for years. Hearing just what you need to hear at the perfect time. The song on the radio that answers your question.”
These are all signs. Or as I would say, direct messages.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been connected with Spirit. They have in some way or form communicated with me for one of two reasons; To give me a message in order to guide me on the right path (stay focused) or to pass a message on to someone else. This may sound strange to some but for me it’s the norm.
A recent experience literally left me speechless.
I was in my back room enjoying the warmth of the sun while staring out the window (this room has huge windows from corner to corner – the sun room). I happened to look down and noticed a bee on the floor, about a foot in distance from where I was standing. The fuzzy yellow and black texture looked discolored and the little bee looked as if it were dead (looked very dry).
I kneeled down to get a closer look (not sure why but I did). The bee was leaned over to the left side of it’s body facing away from me (about 60 degrees). Within a few seconds this little one stood up then turned abruptly and faced me. Startled in the moment, I jumped back and stood up, thinking to myself “WTH”!
It just stood there, staring at me.
Tempted to flee the scene, as a bee sting was the first thing that came to mind, I made myself calm down. I kneeled down again (at a further distance this time) and stared back at the bee.
As strange as it may sound I got the sense (a message?) that the bee was dieing and wanted to go outside. So, I picked up the cutlass (the closest thing to me that had some length to it) and gently placed it about one inch in front of the bee. To my surprise the bee slowly made it’s way towards the cutlass, walked on it and settled there.
I open the door and placed the bee right next to the ladder beside my door. It walked off the cutlass and climbed onto the ladder but somehow lost strength and fell on top the soil below.
At that point I honestly didn’t know if the bee got up and flew away but by looking at it’s condition, I believe it died transitioned there. Our encounter was just that, but I wondered if there was a meaning to it.
After that experience, I decided to do some research on a possible meaning of my bee experience (I often search on a Native American animal totems site). According to the site my experience with the bee is noteworthy to my life-path.
Bee’s wisdom includes:
Connection to the Goddess Diana
Understanding female warrior energy
Communication with the dead
Helping earth-bound spirits move on to their proper place
I’m not sure who is the Goddess Diana but everything else makes complete sense. With it in mind, I was able to relate with my bee connection. In turn, I am very thankful that the bee and I were able to assist one another during our encounter.
I say all that to say, sometimes the signs are right in front of us. In many cases, very direct. I can go on and on about other encounters, particularly my hawk dreams that eventually turned into real hawks following, circling above me and even flying beside me as I was driving.
Now, I pay more attention as I know the messages are more than meets the eye. That very conversation I had with the wonderful ladies on Woman Talk Live, was a message for me to understand it all. I am truly thankful.
“When you’ve worked as hard and done as much and strived and tried and given and pled and bargained and hoped…SURRENDER. When you have done all that you can do and there’s nothing left for you to do… GIVE IT UP. Give it up to that thing that is greater than yourself. And let it then become apart of the flow.”
After a long week and feeling a bit anxious since my return from California, I happened to open my Lifeclass journal and read this quote on the very first page. It’s dated August 29, 2012. Then it came back to me…I was watching Oprah Winfrey speak on OWN TV’s Master Class and I rewind my DVR a few times so I could write her entire quote correctly.
The amazing thing is, although eighteen months has passed since then, it spoke directly to me at the very moment.
Right then I realized I unconsciously wrote this for me to read today.
As beautiful, tough, uplifting, overwhelming, joyous and strenuous as my journey has been… I’ve learned to accept the changing seasons in my life. The sense of discontentment or sadness is an emotion, not a weakness. Acknowledging your emotions lets you know that you are human.
Since I was a child I taught myself to honor my feelings (enjoying times of solitude), express it (through jounaling), and simply let it go.
I am guided not only by an omnipotent Creator and limitless Universe but also protected by very powerful spiritual forces…my ancestors and guides.
I now live in confidence knowing that every step of the way I was directed into the right path to prepare for the positive changes to come. I’m not sure exactly what that change is but I can feel it as strong as the wind.
Besides being of a West Indian upbringing, I am a West Coast baby. I was born in Tacoma, Washington on March 17, 1979, but moved to Germany after a year.
My father was in the army so my family and I moved around for he next four years. Afterwards my parents, brothers and myself spent our childhood years in the neighborhood of Corona Queens, NY. At the age of 12 we moved to Maryland and this is where I’ve live for the past 23 years of my life.
I honestly didn’t like MD (not even a little bit) from the first day I arrived. It was April 1991 and I stepped into a new 5th grade class at Chillum Elementary School in Hyattsville, MD. I appreciated the greenery but the majority of the people…I didn’t and still do not relate with to this day. That doesn’t go for all of course. I’ve met wonderful folks here. The funny thing is, in most cases, they are not from this area.
It’s simply a different mentality.
Although I’ve settled here after having my son followed by two daughters, 12.5 years ago, my spirit still isn’t at rest in this area. In other words, I don’t feel like I belong . I can hear the words of Aloe Blacc’s song in my head, ‘Wake Me Up’.
Last year, March 2013, I submitted a proposal after receiving an email that the American Society on Aging is seeking presenters for their 2014 annual Aging In America (#AIA14) conference.
First of all, I’ve never heard of ASA but after doing research I truly appreciated the mission and knew my book, Feminine Transitions, fit perfectly into the category of aging. Even better, the conference takes place in San Diego, California, where I’ve wanted to visit for years. I wrote about it in my previous blog, ‘Feminine Transitions Goes to California‘.
To my pleasant surprise, I received an acceptance and congratulations letter in August 2013 and happily accepted.
I flew into San Diego Airport for the conference on March 10, 2014. I arrived late at night and therefore did not see much except for the city (where I stayed). Given that, I wasn’t immediately impressed, but the energy felt so right. This is a feeling I truly cannot explain.
My poster presentation, on March 12 with #AIA14, was received very well. Throughout my presentation I had large crowds viewing, commenting and even crying (with joy) about my topic ‘Embracing Our Natural Beauty As We Age’. The feedback was positive and the attendees appreciated the fact that I’m promoting self-love and acceptance in a world full of ads doing the exact opposite.
The energy was just the same at my other events, each unique in it’s own way. Starla Lewis, the Co-Curator of “Beautiful, Brillant and Bold: A Celebration of Black Women” exhibit at the Women’s Museum of California, volunteered to come out and help me that day. What a huge help it was. Author Anthony Browder suggested I connect with her before going to San Diego. Connections, connections, connections. I love it!
It wasn’t until Thursday, March 13, when I drove my mom to Barona Casino, did I finally get the chance to experience a real view of San Diego outside of the city.
For the first time in my life I feel in love with my environment and was enticed with all five senses.
The sight of the mountains moved me. The smell of the fresh ocean air grooved me. The sound of tranquility soothed me. The breeze caressed my hair and skin smoothly. I got a taste of San Diego and fell in love truly.
Later that day Kristy Salazar interviewed me at the Women’s Resource Center. After our discussion she spoke about reading that same previous blog I mentioned earlier, ‘Feminine Transitions Goes to California‘, and how much she related to it.
She then surprised me with a beautiful birthday cake dedicated to my achievement. As excited and appreciative as I felt in that moment, I was also overwhelmed with joy. I felt so appreciated. Thank you ladies!
After commenting on the fact that I am a new hiker, Lee – in the audience at the Women’s Resource Center, offered to take both my mom and I, hiking and on a tour of San Diego. I was so grateful for the opportunity. Not to mention, how wonderful it felt meeting a stranger and becoming a friend.
The hospitality and support was undeniable and I wondered why people left here and moved to DC (I met quite a few Californians within the past year who happened to move to the DMV area). Of course everyone has a different environmental need. My desire was to remain where I was at that moment. All I needed was for my husband and children to pack their bags and meet me there. 🙂
My only option now is to overcome the fear of failure realistically. I’m human and have no issue admitting that I sometimes question my decisions.
How am I going to move when money is tight? What about my home in Maryland? Are the schools good for my children (who are all very creative)? Will my photography, publishing and construction businesses thrive? What if I’m not successful?
So many unanswered questions.
One thing that resonated with me while in Cali was the large number of homeless people on the streets. The reality of the strict mortgage laws California withholds is obviously a serious matter. There was no statistic. They were all ages and races. I thought to myself, anyone can become homeless. If I wasn’t adamant about keeping my home seven years ago, that could have been me.
Think about FEAR – False Evidence Appearing Real. We all experience it at some point of our life. The beauty is letting go and going into the directions of our dreams…fearlessly.
I’ve put it out there and prayed for guidance as always. All I can do now is see where the wind takes me. I planted the seeds just to make sure.
We all have our own journeys to travel. The blessing in it is discovering our passions and growing wholistically through it all. I turned 35 years old last week. I am a strong, determined, talented and confident women and truly appreciate the changes that come as I grow older. As difficult as my path has been, particularly in the past seven years, I’ve realized the blessing in being who I am as Alyscia.
I have much traveling to do. San Diego, know that I will return to you.
I offer an immense thank you to everyone who contributed to my fundraiser. All of you made my trip possible.
Dad, Mom, Grandmother, Grandfather, Anita Kamienski, Aunty Janet Fortune, Ebony J., Erica Tyson, Evelyn McKenly, Jeff Brooks Photography, Juanita Smart, Tamara Lumpkin, Trista Hendren, Karima Amin, Lane Cobb, Necilia Jones, Uncle Lyndon Brown and 4 Anonymous contributors…THANK YOU!