In an effort to do some spring cleaning, I went to a sweat lodge last weekend. A friend invited me unexpectedly and I went into the experience not knowing what to expect. The journey left me feeling at peace but also motivated by the spring energy or renewal and rebirth. I channeled my inner spiritual goddess, faced the physical challenges of visual depravation and pushing my physical body to its limits. I shed all the negativity that I had been carrying. I don’t know about you, but this was a hard winter for me, emotionally speaking so this experience was the most rewarding.
As someone who prefers to communicate visually, I leave these photos here for you to enjoy. I hope they peak your curiosity and you find your own way to clean out the proverbial closet because spring is here and it’s time to start anew!
Maker and Creative – heart, mind, and soul. Akilah Interviews her Co-Founding Bestie of Blooming Dreamers on her dreams and passions. Owner of Lebasi Photography, Isabel Gonzales shares her love for capturing photos through Environmental Portraiture and what she wants people to know about her relationship to her craft. Click the link below and follow us on SoundCloud.
The last few months have been a bit of a whirlwind personally and professionally. No matter what I did – I was obsessing over my decisions and experiencing all types of physical symptoms. My stress was growing and my body was paying the price. The two worlds decided to intertwine and it was less like two ribbons dancing in the wind, and more like two big rigs crashing into each other while speeding down a slippery mountain pass. Dramatic? I know.
I made an executive decision to sit in silence for a minute and think about the things that were truly bothering me. I journaled, made list, read books and came to a solution. I figured it’s not acceptable to let my stress and anxiety run loose on the people I love. It was time to reign it in but I really had no clear direction on where to start breaking cycles. I called a therapist that my girlfriend recommended and it was the best decision I could have made.
The very first meeting with her, I showed up and had no idea what to expect. The lobby was a 10 ft hallway that seemed to lengthen itself the longer I stood in the doorway trying to figure out if I was in the right place. She finally came out to greet me; tall, sweet and warm. The LMFT quickly gave me her speech about confidentiality and asked me why I came to see her. I smiled through my troubles the first five minutes and then cried the next ninety-five.
I left her office with my next appointment already scheduled. Even though I took her all over the map of my thirty-two-year life journey and explained my dozens of speculations as to how I ended up right there in her chair, she gave me a short list of ideas and concepts to think about. I thought, “wow, what a relief”. I was finally able to share with someone ALL of my feelings. Someone who was able to help me untangle knots and create some sort of line of reasoning and helped me find the words to build crucial language. The language I needed to communicate at work and at home.
I started to feel different. I was looking at situations with new lenses. The things that were driving me crazy about scenarios at work, became puzzles that I was happy to sort out. The conversations I didn’t want to have at home seemed less intimidating. I was building my tool kit. Communication was one of the main fundamentals that were becoming sharpened. Somewhere between the end of week one and the beginning of my second week, emotions started to resurface and I felt ill prepared to face anything seemingly negative.
My second therapy appointment was here and I didn’t want to go. I was ashamed that I was feeling sad and not proud of myself that day. Silly feelings when I look back on it, but the primary characteristic of my work ethic is being accountable. For way too many reasons to list in this edition, I’ve always worried about what people think. It translates in different ways but it manifests itself as a bitch fit or some other inappropriate form of expression when conflict arises. I was growing tired of that and knew it wasn’t an acceptable approach at working through things with my family or professionally.
This time I noticed my appointment was more focused. Less homework and more acute in helping me get through some of those challenges that were coming up more frequently. Here I am a week later, and it’s honestly the best week I have had in such a long time. Despite more disappointing news in a couple areas, I’m dealing with unfavorable surprises better. The dynamics in my household are settling into some sort of normalcy and it feels really good to stop blaming outside forces for my unhappiness.
Needing to speak to a professional about how to sort out the issues you are facing in whatever areas of your life, is not something to be ashamed of. I am speaking very loudly to proud women and minorities at this moment because for some reason we do not go. We do not go and some of our life stressors are flashing right in our face as and screaming, “you need a little bit of help and it’s okay!” We do not have to do things alone. We weren’t designed to take on so many problems and not have an outlet to release.
Therapy comes in so many forms. Everything from peer counseling, life coaching to psychiatrists. We all have different needs and the fact that we have all these diverse methods available, something is bound to fit. I hope this piece finds you all well.
Here at Blooming Dreamers once a month we like to showcase people in our community who are sharing their love and their light through their work. For the month of February, Black History Month, it is our privilege to introduce you to a longtime friend, a woman for the people, Eryn Reeder. Have a listen as we discuss her journey becoming a therapist, her unique perspectives on mental health maintenance and self-care.
I say that. A lot. It’s something I firmly believe in. Especially as a freelancer/maker/artist/creative or title of your choosing, those professions don’t always come with a built in community or set group of friends like elementary school did. In my own experience as a hypersensitive extrovert (I may have made that up), I love to be around people, building relationships, teaching each other things, growing and struggling together.
One thing I’ve learned is the struggle is real when your network is stunted. Sure your friends and family are supportive and rooting for you to succeed but do they really get it? Do they understand what you’re trying to do with your art, your vision, what drives you? It’s ok if they don’t but you can’t hold it against them. You know why?
Because sharing is caring. Have you actually taken the time to share your passion with the people you interact with daily? Does the girl who serves you coffee everyday at your favorite coffee shop know you started a non-profit for homeless teens? Does your brother know that you just created an app that helps people organize their lives? Does your mom know that you want to make custom made fanny packs for a living? Let’s flip it. What happens when you witness someone speak about something their passionate about? Their eyes light up, their speech speeds up and you as a listener are captivated by their excitement to share. The feeling is contagious even if you never experienced what they’re talking about. Do yourself a favor and embody that energy. Tell everyone, even your cat, how passionate you are about whatever it is and I promise you positive results within yourself. Don’t feel too confident about speaking your passion into existence? You know what to do:
Fake it til you make it! We’ve all heard it before but how many of us practice it? When I graduated with a MFA in Photography back in 2014, the first few months of conversations I had while meeting new people felt weird. They’d ask, “so what do you do?” and I’d stumble on my words and say, “well I’m…uh…a photographerrrrr….” with a few more long, indecisive pauses sprinkled in. I mean yes, on paper, I am a Master of Photography. But at that point in my infantile career, I was more comfortable saying I worked at Peets Coffee than declaring to the world that I followed my passion, studied and acquired skills and got really good at something. It’s all so surreal until you speak it into existence. Even the “impossible” stuff.
Am I an artist? Yes. Am I making a living as an artist? Well that doesn’t pay the student loan debt but everything I do is infused with my artistry so at the end of the day I still feel confident and comfortable in identifying as an artist. I’m hoping to one day be living proof that if you do what you love, the money will come. So what am I saying to you? Carve your own path. Trust me, it’s doable. Hard. Unpredictable. But the only person that can make shit happen for you is you. Sure there are Threshold Guardians but it’s up to you to keep knocking down those barriers until you feel 100% you 100% of the time.
Is that a tall order? If so, hang in there. When you feel like you’re pushing a boulder uphill, on one leg, blind, in the snow, with no shoes on…hold up, I got carried away…so, blind and forgot why you’re even doing this, remember that there are so many fucking people by your side, being your other leg, smoothing out the path uphill, setting up a pulley system to get that boulder uphill faster of just whispering in your ear every 5 minutes that you can do it.
If you want to know where I am in my journey, I’m currently carving my own path. I have no idea what’s ahead but if I keep at it, I know it will be made for me, just how I like it and laid out so others can follow if they so choose. Moral of the story is we’re all in this together folks (remember it started with community) so drop the spotlight syndrome, speak your truth and live your passion to the fullest!!
Do you have a similar experience to share? Or something totally different and you want to start a discussion? Feel free to leave a comment below 🙂
P.S. (Thank you to all the meme-makers out there, you know who you are. You’re the best. Sorry I didn’t give each one of you credit.)
Each being will walk a different life path created with a special footprint to help guide our marches through the steps it will take us to achieve our dreams. Every design is custom made for the individual and who needs to experience their own specific journey.
Isabel and I have been making so many connections and hearing from all walks of life on how long it’s taken them to get where they finally feel like they’ve found their niche or how long has it taken them to match their hearts with the others their creativity has been longing to connect with. Each person sharing that the time it took, varied anywhere from a month to 6 years. When you think about it, it’s actually really motivating because so much time is spent in judgment of what others are doing. Then one could say, you’re really not looking out for others with love or you’re not trying to be your most authentic self. The other day we talked about how no one has really subscribed to our blog, yet. Which is okay, because while we are growing, it’s slow and steady. That is exactly what the universe set out for us to experience.
We started quite a few months before December 1st of 2018, but that was the day we introduced ourselves as Blooming Dreamers. It was so exciting, adrenaline was pumping because, dammit we did it! We took this blog off the ground and we were diligent about it. All the other times we tried to work on projects, talked about working with one another, this project is actually happening. I’ve been looking around and seeing these ads through our Instagram feed on “how to become an influencer ” and not gonna lie, my first thought was sweet another masterclass let me see how much money this will cost. Immediately thought to myself, wtf. If I keep getting sidetracked by everything that is put in front of me instead of focusing on things that align with Blooming Dreamers, it will be very hard to get things accomplished. I’m enjoying this part of the process. When we are ready, the stars will align like stepping stones into the next chapter of our growth. I want to do it as our most authentic selves. We found our stride, have proven that people can work together and do it graciously – for a vision that they believe in.
It’s been an extremely rough week for me but through all of this, one thing that I have learned about ‘labors of love’ is, they produce light. When you’re having a hard week, remember that there are just things that you specifically will have to go through. They most likely won’t be your favorite experiences but because you are always moving with love, you’ll be able to embrace and appreciate the process. You will find methods to cope. You will find the team that you need to support you. You are going to find the tools and resources that you will deem most valuable. Whatever level you are on, whether it’s a personal project or the creative career of your dreams, make it happen. Your journey depends on it.
The 3rd Annual Women’s March happened today, but for me it was the first. I was wholeheartedly determined to go regardless of whether or not I was going alone because ironically, the last two years I had to work for a woman-owned and woman-run company during the March. I didn’t realize how much the Women’s March meant to me until I missed it. After work last year, I found myself walking through the streets of San Francisco post-March desperate to find my friends at an after party with the promise of the same “I am woman, hear me roar” energy only to find that everyone had gone home and I felt like the weather: overcast and gloomy.
I cried in public. Which isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things because let’s face it, I’m a crybaby. But I was just so heartbroken to have missed out on such a historical experience. So this year I promised myself I would go with friends or alone, it didn’t matter because I found assurance in knowing I would be surrounded by thousands of women who have my back, just like I have theirs.
I woke up, put my Hoe Zone sweater on, pumped up my tires, turned on Janelle Monáe’s Dirty Computer album, and biked downtown. I felt excitement creep in as crowds of people made their way to Southside Park in Sacramento. I didn’t expect to see 100% elder white women in attendance, but in my experience they make up a large part of the protesting demographic so I was pleasantly surprised to see men, people of color, young and old, babies and everyone in between. The influences we have on each other by just being present is really an amazing thing.
The scene was rather beautiful actually. Not only were we all here to collectively take a stand, but so many people utilized their creative and artistic abilities to design signs, clever phrases, wearing costumes and coordinating props with their allies. As women we have a lot to say (or talk to you much if you want to further support the stereotype) but the plethora of messages I saw that day were all over the board from DACA, to equal pay to reproductive rights. The common denominator among all signs was that each person was fighting for more than just themselves and sometimes not even themselves at all. I was moved.
Instead of a sign I carried my camera, assumed my role as photographer, documentarian, historian, keeper of truth. Funny thing is I was actually recognized because of it. I ran into a beautiful soul I bonded with at Burning Man. I walked away from that interaction feeling grounded, anchored by the same beautiful energy I experienced in the desert, only here marching for women’s rights.
The entire experience was ushered along by a New Orleans style marching band and a drumming circle. “How perfect!” I thought because I know how much women love to dance! (or is it just me?) I felt an unspoken bond with the musicians as we made eye contact, like we recognized each other‘s roles in facilitating such an event. Midway through, as the majority of the March was happening in the street, the Latinx community forged their way at a somewhat quicker pace up the sidewalk brandishing artistic feminine renditions of Che Guevara and Angela Davis, chanting “hermana escucha!!” (Sister listen!!) as they followed the Aztec dancers in full traditional garb. I’m not of Latinx or Spanish descent but growing up in California, looking as I do, I’ve had a Latina experience and it warmed my heart to see my Latinx sisters showing up and showing out. I stepped aside to document their display before I merged back into the crowd.
At that moment I found myself getting emotional because the energy was palpable. Here we go crying public again! But there was a photo op I couldn’t miss so I had to temporarily swallow the tears and get back to my mission. Just then an older woman reached out to me for an embrace, smiled and said “thank you for showing up“ as if validating all of the emotional history I had surrounding this day. I hugged her back and smiled, speechless. I cried (in public) as I wrote this because her gesture was so impactful.
Our caravan of festive and outspoken people rounded the corner after passing an eight piece acoustic band of elders playing “Let It Be” by The Beatles. We joined in and sang an encore chorus or two before we hit Capitol Plaza and everyone spread out to get their photo taken in front of the Capitol building. Some stylized, some capturing the moment, me wondering what’s next. I came across the Raging Grannies harmonizing with vigor as their sweet little voices were heard, recorded and admired by all who witnessed their movement. I silently vowed to myself to be exactly like them when I’m their age.
That’s when I heard the first speaker of the event coming through on the loudspeaker. Her focus was on the ongoing struggles of the Indigenous/Native Peoples of California. She was followed by several empowering women who touched on reproductive rights, health care, the prison system, the government shut down to name a few topics. But one woman, Angelique Ashby got the crowd fired up as she highlighted an entourage of women standing behind her who were voted into office in the Sacramento area. All of the guest speakers were inspiring, motivating and their messages were very clear: Don’t give up. This fight takes work and we can all do a little bit more.
Just as hunger set in, I heard the MC Coco Blossom from Sacramento Youth Speaks announce that Beyoncé was hitting the stage. Did I question why Queen Bey would grace Sactown with her presence and not her hometown of Houston, Texas? Yes. Did I make my way back to the stage to see what all the hoopla was about? Of course. Sure enough there was an amazing performance happening on stage, with lots of hair flipping, thigh high boots and sensational choreography. Turns out after the 30 minute set, the headliner Miss Shalae who entertained us with her high energy performance skills announced proudly that she was the First Black Trans Woman to headline a Women’s March and she was praised for it by all in attendance.
And that, my friends, is what womanhood is all about.