Hello, my name is Kiandra and I am the woman who use to blog here.
Apparently, new beginnings, fresh starts, and starting anew is more difficult for me than I ever knew. For the past month, almost two, I have been looking and waiting for a space big and wide enough to open up for me to begin blogging again.
I'm tired of waiting, and more tired of writing half posts that languish in draft mode, waiting for me to get over the first day back jitters. So I'm creating a space, why not--I'm an artist right? And walking in head first.
Let me start from the beginning, and quickly get to the present:
- I am finally a college graduate! My Bachelor of Arts Degree (English) posted December 31, 2012, and I graduated Magna Cum Laude and managed to maintain my 4.0 the entire two years it took me to complete my BA. (*Mr. E also graduated with his MBA and we walked in the ceremony together. It was wonderful to share the experience with him and we are a stronger family, team because of the experience of going back to school together.)
- I started Grad School December, 2012, and am pursuing an MFA Creative Writing with a dual emphasis in Fiction and Creative Nonfiction at Antioch University Los Angeles. It is an amazing program that I am most proud to be a part of. It was my first and last choice, and the only Grad school that I applied too. (You can read about my decision process here and here.) I now have the most supportive, intelligent, compassionate, nurturing, creative, and talented bunch of writing cohorts.
- I wrote a 53 page paper on Black Women's Literature and Black Women's Quilting for my Senior Capstone (Undergrad) that I have high hopes of turning into a book, so you may hear/read me talk about that from time to time.
Here is where I am at now:
- I am currently writing a novel that explores sacrifices and fidelity between women in a family unit (i.e. mothers, daughters, sisters, grandmothers). It is set in the 80s, Los Angeles, and covers current urban social issues in a literary way. I have roughly 150 pages written from my earlier attempts, 2010-2011, but am starting over in a way and writing from the beginning. So far, I have about 42 (new) pages written. My goal is to write 20-25 pages a month the first half of the year, and double that the second half. Essentially, the goal is to finish writing this novel this year. I'm guessing and hoping about 300 pages should be enough.
- Within my program I am reading and reviewing a few books a month. The number fluctuates, but I am reading about 3-4 books a month and annotating (fancy word for a thorough review that focuses on writing techniques, insights that are helpful to my own writing practice) at least two. My goal is to annotate all of the books I read and share them here. So, look out for that.
- I am slowly getting back into the practice of creating/painting/quilting. I have painted a few pieces, but have yet to quilt. Sadface. With starting Grad school I have had to do a lot of readjusting of my schedule, time, priorities, but I also have more time at home and more creative free time to do some of the creative things I use to do (paint, quilt, etc.). It has been a bit difficult to find a new normal, a new balance. Slowly, I think I and we (as a family) are finding our new normal. Most important, me and E have more time to focus on home, the kids and their new creative interests (blogging, Youtubing, Etsy stores, etc.). They are quite creative and eager to start defining themselves creatively. Very exciting for this mama!
- Gratefully, I am back in the kitchen, garden, and decorating our humble nest. These three areas suffered greatly from my intense, undergrad schedule. I feel so much more centered now that I have time to cook healthy from scratch meals for us. I am also eagerly looking forward to adorning our house and garden this year. I have started very modestly on our bedroom this past month, and this past weekend we started the long journey of cleaning up and re-planning our outdoor space. We are on a very strict budget, so all that we do will need to be creative, free, or very low cost.
- For graduation, E gifted me a wonderful new camera and I plan to take lots of pictures of my life with the purpose of sharing how I/we live life fully, creatively, and as health conscious as possible.
- I believe I have grown into my own skin and learned to dwell amongst my own bones and heart. It is not easy learning to see and accept yourself how you are, how you have shown up in and on this planet. But, I do not believe any of us can cull from life the things we need unless we make peace with who the good Lord has created us to be. (Yes, I am now Christian, no longer "spiritual." I hope to talk more about this at sometime, but for now I am still learning what that means for me.) So, know that every word you read is authentically coming from me--a place of peace, happiness, good intentions, creativity, and of course love.
Of late my mother, brother, and others close to me have been defining me as a bohemian, artist. It has taken a long time for them (my mother and brother) to understand me. They did not initially accept the artist label. I believe they saw, expected, and maybe hoped for something else from me. I have been an overachiever/perfectionist my entire life, so naturally, my mother assumed that I would pursue law, medicine or something else "official and important" when I left for college as a teenager. I was the first in my mother's family to leave for college, so the idea of college leading to an arts career was quite frankly, absurd. Who spends four years and tens of thousands of dollars to become a nonworking "artist?" Can't you stay at home and do that, surely they thought. In my father's family, I have an uncle, whom I am very proud of, that went to Ivy League schools and became a lawyer, law school Dean, and has happily settled into a career as a noted Law Professor and scholar.
We have no use, no time, no money for you to be an artist. Artist is not a career. These are the ideas that I have had to change for my family over the past 13-15 years.
There is some truth in those ideas. Art is not a career, it is a lifestyle. It is a way of living, thinking, and perceiving the world. I cannot tell you how or why, but I do not experience the world like my non creative friends/family. I can live like them, but it siphons energy from my heart in a way that I don't think anyone should have to experience.
Everyday that I am not living my life as an artist I feel like I am dying, withering. I no longer choose to shrivel, but instead, choose to thrive and live fully awake in this soul I've been blessed with.
I can turn the artist me on and off. And in the past, I have done this. There was a point that I thought being fully awake to the art of life around me was exhausting. I would turn on the creative me, live fully, and then turn it off. After, I would find myself exhausted, sad, and feeling dull, lackluster. I thought, erroneously, that all the creative energy that I put into being open creatively pulled my energy out.
No. Turning myself away from my creative truth pulled the energy out of me. I felt dull and lifeless because I was. I am living and alive only when my heart is open and able to create, when the artist in me is turned on.
If you see me, you soon notice that I love color. I have been known to wear lilac pants, turquoise shoes, and hot pink socks. When I wear black, I feel like I am dying. I feel morose in a way that is not sentimental or emo. Black does not feel natural for me.
That is what living a life void of creativity is to me. It is like asking me to wear black, from head to toe, and enjoying it. Those who know me, know this is impossible.
This year, my word is Brave, with a capitol 'B'. I was able to recognize my fear last year, embrace it, work through it, and this year I am committed to living bravely. The first step was accepting and recognizing who I am and who I am not.
I may never be that woman who wears make-up, high heels, has a nine-to-five, and exudes professional, working woman. I am not the girlfriend you take out for cocktails and clubbing, but I am that friend who is honest, nurturing, and creative thinking. I wear colorful clothes, paint on my palms, compost beneath my nails, and have a wild sourdough starter (or two) fermenting on my counter or in my fridge at any given time. Call me quirky, that's okay too. I am a woman happy to grow and cook her own food, make her own bed, decorate it, and lay in it. I am a bohemian, as my mother calls me, and that's okay too.
If you don't believe, check out my new nose ring.
So, there is the long and short of it. All painted and hung for prosperity. This turned out much longer than I expected, more like a mini-manifesto, but fully necessary for me to begin here again.
In the next post I will outline the new direction I aspire for this new blogging space.
Stay tuned, and in the meantime: Cultivate peace and love!