What on earth will this new year bring? I have been totally dazed and amazed by 2009 and not sure anything can top the unbelievable that happened this past year.
Celebrity-wise, the biggest (and saddest) event-- MJ passing--happened in 2009 that has got to be the celebrity tragedy of the decade.
Compiling my own personal top 10 of 2009 was easy though. The highlights were many and their energy is what I carry into this 2010.
My Top 10 of 2009
10. Visual Art and Me
(In photo: One of my affirmation murals at the 2009 Capital Hip Hop Soul Fest)
This year, I began a renewed love for visual art and began to conceive my own ideas of what I wanted to bring to life on canvas. In our society, we often aren't encouraged to pursue things if we aren't the best at it, but a wise person knows that there will always be someone who is "better" so, it is always best to do things that bring your heart joy, because doing things "en-joy" will inevitably build your skill and lower your stress level.
On no planet would I be considered a top-notch visual artist. I don't yet possess that adeptness that many visual artists have with their hands to create angle and line with ease. I don't know if I will ever possess that skill. But, boy do I love trying to.
I love making long strokes on my canvas of choice, learning this past summer how much I love painting on wood. Wanting to have murals for the 2009 Capital Hip Hop Soul Fest and not finding an artist in time to create them, I dragged my spouse along with me to Home Depot to pick out some slabs of plywood and on them creating some welcome murals with affirmations in red, black and green that resonated with my spirit, and I hope would resonate with those who came to enjoy the free festival I co-produce every year in northeast DC's Marvin Gaye Park.
When I saw on Facebook alone how many folks took photos next to the murals I created, no one could really understand how deeply I was touched. My partner got me some canvas for this past Christmas with an easel, some paint and brushes and I know that it is on now. He truly has been an advocate for my visual art, getting my first Canon for me in 2007 which has led to me capturing some great shots that have been featuring in print media. My first piece for the 2010 I'm sketching out now is going to be part of a series on the water goddess Mami Wata.
9. Being on TV- twice!
No matter how cynical one becomes of mainstream television, the so-called news and the negative connotation the media has gotten, I can't help but get excited when my hard work as an event producer and performer garners media hits.
This past 2009, I had fun being featured as a spokesperson for the Capital Hip Hop Soul Fest on Fox 5 with Gwen Tolbart who hosts a news segment on Freebies in the city. I look at the video often (its in the margin of this blog) and laugh each time I see what I was wearing. I love that red and white tye-dyed dress, but with a black short-sleeved blazer? I was clearly dressed with my mind in a haze but it was a really pleasent experience. While I met Gwen and got to converse with her briefly, the highlight for me was being in the studio with the morning news team (Allison Seymour, and Steve Chenevey) and behind the scenes meeting some of the folks who make it happen. The sound man was way cool and he and I got in a debate about Wendy Williams show and how long it was going to stay on the air.
I saw Holly Morris in the hallway who stopped and looked at me and gave me a hug after saying "You are just a Fox 5 regular, aren't you?". She said that because just earlier that same week in July, I was part of a segment with her that was about the 2009 Capital Fringe Fest. The Saartjie Project was featured during the segment and I got to sing while the group danced.
Check out the video. Holly Morris is funny.
8. Conferencing & Festival-ing it Up!
Had fun in 2009 getting to participate in some of my favorite festivals and conferences and some that were new.
Returning to the Green Fest in 2009 as a performer was at the top of the list. I looove the Green Fest and to perform and get free tickets to enter with my family and friends was a treat! I had attended in 2008 and vowed I would be back as a volunteer or performer, and gosh, darn it, I was!
Last year I participated in Mosaic Books' conference when it was called Re:Verse Literary Conference and Festival. Returning as they changed the name to the Mosaic Literary Conference, I was pleased to be up in the house again. I got to work with educators on ways to use my Story Quilt project in the classroom. It was a hectic bus ride to and fro NYC that day, but the trip was well worth it.
A new conference for me this year was the Pedagogy and Theater of the Oppressed Conference in Minnesota. My involvement in the Saartjie Project led me to this very interesting conference and the work of Boal and other revolutionary artists who have used theater to change communities. Our collective performed and we received such great response to our work. I hope to participate again this year as a presenter of a workshop.
7. Re-focusing on My Own Literary Art
I spend so much time supporting others through producing events or projects that promote the artistry of others that it's not hard for me to push my own creative endeavors aside for when I have more time. In 2009, I did a good job making time that I didn't have in 2008. I wanted to keep my pen quill moist by keeping my poetic muse entertained. I wrote several poetry pieces in 2009 but also submitted pieces to be included in online and print publications. In the fall of 2009 I learned that one of my pieces will be included in the 2010 Spring issue of Blue Moon and Literary and Art Review while another of my poetry pieces, Revitionist Tale (in the margin of this blog) was selected for ParentingExpress.com, a favorite site of mine that I was published on when my daughter was still a toddler.
I was particularly proud of pieces I wrote in 2009 for The Saartjie Project that were performed by not just me but by other members of the collective. My vignettes "Changing Muse" and "I'll Send for You" were some of the most developed theatrical work I had written and had produced since my play "Shades of Black: a thought in progress" which debuted on stage Feb. 2008. While the "Changing Muse" vignette got some criticism in the press when we performed it in the Capital Fringe Fest in July 2009, it was a creative triumph to have written a piece on the subject of the black woman as a muse through the times, nevertheless, exploited and often misunderstood.
My poem "Queen Ghetto Booty" was written one day while in a rare mood where on one hand I was mourning the life of Saartjie Baartman (the muse for the creation of the Saartjie Project) while feeling a deep connection to her as a woman of disproportionate proportions, if you catch my drift. (if you don't, please read up about Saartjie Baartman). I wrote several other pieces during 2009 revolving around the subject of patriotism, race, gender and class that I wrote with the intention of possible inclusion in the Saartjie Project or for a book I've been saying I'm going to publish forever of just my writings. Since I took a break from the Saartjie Project and working on developing my own solo presence as an artist, we'll see.
I am particularly proud though of a play I finished in 2009 called "Running Amok" which is a stage play using some of the principals of image theater. The subject matter focuses on mothering as a revolutionary in our society and centers on the interactions of three artist mothers and their respective guardian angels. I'm casting soon and submitted it for the 2010 Capital Fringe Fest.
6. Getting My Exercise On
Ok, by no means am I an exerciser, yet. But in 2009, I sure got my work-out on better than I had in five years or more!
In late 2002, I had lost an amazing 30 pounds after putting on some major poundage after college and working hard for the money at my career after college. In 2002, I was in my late twenties and had just left a band with the intent of starting a new band and getting my singing career on track.
I got pregnant two months later.
So, my slimness was fleeting and a mere memory ever since my lovely little one came onto the scene. 2009 stopped that trend, at least in theory.
My partner and I got some Nike kicks with the sensors that calculate your progress and we began working out in late summer 2009 with the vengeance. We began walking regularly until we made it to a jog and then a full run. Me, who had never run a mile in my life was running at least a mile and a half every other day. A wonderful day of triumph was when he and I walked in the Walk for Lupus Walk-a-thon in Baltimore, Md in the fall. What a proud day!
Unfortunately in December, when my partner started having foot issues again and quit going out, I became lazy again and stopped my progress. Hopefully in 2010, interest in getting back on the wagon will resurface.
5. Traveling with My Family
Was soooo thrilled to make it to Florida with my partner and our daughter in 2009! Though I had taken our daughter to Disney World and Orlando twice in past years and she had even gone this past summer with my mom and siblings, it was great to go all together. We hadn't had a family vacation out of state since 2007, and it was much appreciated.
Though the trip to Kentucky was just me and my partner, heading to Kentucky and surveying the land to see if its a place for us to move to was also a great adventure. We didn't do nearly as much traveling as a family in 2009 that I would have liked, but what we did do together was wayyy fun!
4. Making the Thanksgiving Turkey
This will always and forever be my not just a holiday triumph, but a cooking triumph. I cooked a dang turkey!!! Woohoo! And it was pretty! Brown and crisp. And delish! For a former flamer (yes, one who accidentally sets kitchens on fire via cooking) this was indeed a success. And, I didn't burn myself or anyone else in the process. (I have major burns on my hands from cooking incidents. That's a whole nother blog post to write.) Here's the recap of the Thanksgiving bird.
3. Homeschooling My Daughter
It was brief, less than half a year, but I did it! I home-schooled my then five year-old in 2009 after praying about it having the opportunity to do so from Jan 2009-April 2009.
The experience was one that I really wanted to commit to to help give her a boost in her reading skills and spend some time with her. We did weekly (almost daily) field trips to the local museums, I enrolled her in gymnastics that she took during the day. One highlight was when she even participated in a Teddy Bear tea party at a local historical site, learning about the history of teddy bears while being a tea-drinking princess for the afternoon. It was great having this opportunity to have more control over my daughter's education and I am appreciative for the experience.
2. Editing and Publishing the book Liberated Muse Volume I: How I Freed My Soul and
1. Becoming a Muse Mentor
So, of course, the publishing of Liberated Muse Volume I: How I Freed My Soul was a major highlight for me for 2009-- its not every day someone coordinates the publication of a book. However, the topper for the magnificent cake was being able to launch a platform from the book and serve as a muse mentor to folks in 2009 while promoting the book.
In 2009, I was able to speak with youth and adult groups about how to liberate their creative muses, speaking from my own personal experiences while also referencing the creative pieces in the book. I was able to help folks who had questions about liberating their own writing desires and I was able to create art spaces inspired by the book.
In 2009, I was able to launch my own website-- www.KhadijahOnline.com where I can officially engage in the work I hope to continue in 2010 as being a muse mentor, helping others realize their artistic dreams.
Thanks for reading my 2009 highlights. What are yours?