Day 207 ~ When you allow yourself to receive…

This weekend was everything I needed. It was an emotional weekend. Goodbyes usually are. I had the honor of writing this weekend with a group of amazing women.

It was a lovely weekend filled with tears, hugs, love and laughter. A beautiful shared moment before I embark on my quest that I will always remember.

I allowed myself to receive…

When you are someone like me who gives of her soul, her time, and her resources, sometimes it’s hard to receive… its hard to accept what others want to give to you.

I received so much this weekend. So many gifts…

Every woman gave me something amazing. They gave their words, gifted me books, sunflowers, love, hugs and poetry written in honor of me.

I cried so much.
I feel so full.
There was so much love surrounding me.

The women thanked me for all I’ve given and I in turn received all they gifted me.

It means so much to me to be able to provide space for women, to nurture women spaces, to lift and encourage them. It is an honor to be a writing midwife.

This weekend seventeen women held me up! They each gave of their gifts… Each of them healers… All of them writers.

They all blessed me.
Blessed me with words to take on my journey to Cuba.
They shared their beautiful intentions and prayers and I will be forever grateful.

Two more weeks and I am gone… if you would like to support my campaign that would be beautiful. Your love and intentions are also graciously accepted.

I am so grateful I got to hold each and everyone of them… I will miss hugging and being embraced. But I know you all got me!

Please share.

Aché

Day 203: You told me to show up!!! Where you at? #dearagent

Dear Agent;

So it has been too many days since I have come to the page. I have hidden. I have procrastinated. I have run. I have been embarrassed to face you because honestly, I haven’t known what to say to you. They say, “just show up!” JUST SHOW UP and the creativity will just come to you…” “Just show up EVERY SINGLE DAY, they say!”

Whoever believes that writing is easy—I got something to tell you #foh (ask google).

This Memorial Day weekend seventeen writers, all WOC and myself are in a beautiful/magical house in the Catskills, communing, resting, eating well, laughing and writing our asses off at the Sankofa Sisterhood Writer’s Retreat!

I spent the first day just doing what an organizer does, get to ensuring that everyone is comfortable, has what they need, and then if there is time left over, get my own writing done!

Today a dear friend and woman I love Vanessa Martir facilitated a workshop, Harnessing Your Creative Genius: How to Water Your Creative Lawn. The workshop was filled with such wonderful advice and resources, yet it was something she shared that would open me right up, “You told me to show up!!! Where you at?”

She was referring to her muse, and the reoccurring battle writer’s have when trying connect with the source of all inspiration.

She gave us a writing activity, WRITING PROMPT: Write a letter to your muse!

5841c0b7618d18400c47536c75d669b7

Here is my letter:

Dear Muse,

You told me to show up!!! Where you at?

This isn’t the first time I have accused you of abandoning me. I have questioned you. I have judged you. I have hated you. I have assaulted you… my beautiful muse! There was a time you came to me everyday. I believed you loved me. You came to bed with me. You woke with me. You and I have had a wonderful life.

You have shown up on so many occasions.

You first revealed yourself when I was in elementary school, yet that 4th grade teacher silenced me. Then you came to me during my teen years when I was exploring my body and sexuality. You were desperately trying to get my attention throughout the 90’s.

Then she was born; this beautiful little girl… I didn’t want to be a mother… yet I would come to know that she arrived to give birth to me. She arrived to save me! This is when you really wanted me to pay attention, now this life was no longer my own. From 1997 to 1999 you were screaming at me, belting out at me, “LOOK! LOOK! I have something to show you! Are you paying attention? Don’t you see the life I have in store for you?”

~~~~~~

Back in the day I used to find these post cards in magazines where you could buy four books for $1 and then you would get books sent to you monthly. This is where I began selecting books on writing, but had no idea I was even collecting them. I ordered books solely based on the titles I as attracted to. Most of the books were on publishing.

Muse, you are hilarious. They sat on my bookshelves for years. They moved with me from apartment to apartment. During this time I still didn’t realize I was a writer. Yet these books were calling out to me… they were choosing me… PICK ME PICK ME!

But I still didn’t pay attention to you.

Then I started taking books out from every library, I had an entire crate filled with titles that I wanted to feed me. tumblr_mo9bbx5wW11sv4z5ao1_1280

You were whispering:

Write

Read

Write

Live

Write

Breathe

Write

Pray

Write

Heal

Write

Forgive

WRITE ALICIA!

WRITE!

And I still ignored you.

Then you forced me to pay attention, you took me by my hands and pushed me into the fire. Sometimes life needs to get real uncomfortable. Sometimes we are called to experience real painful shit to finally see what’s right in front of US!

It was 2001 when you finally said ENOUGH!

You showed me that when you least expect it towers will crumble to ashes around you and this is when you must WAKE UP!

WHAT THE FUCK IS IT GOING TO TAKE???

WHAT IS GOING TO TAKE FOR YOU TO SEE ME?

WHAT IS IT GOING TO TAKE FOR YOU TO KNOW THAT I AM RIGHT HERE WITH YOU?

PICK UP THE PEN!

SIT THE FUCK DOWN!

WRITE!

Every-time-I-hear-writers-talk

FINALLY I LISTENED!

I finally heard you!

I picked up my journal and we haven’t stopped writing!

Forgive me for believing that you abandoned me. Today I was reminded that you have never left me. You have always been here. You have always had my back. You are the gentle hands that I rest in. I trust you. I love you. Forgive me for believing that you were gone! Today I will honor your presence and show you the love you deserve!

And so it is!

Vanessa, THANK YOU! I love you.

Writing goals for today — WRITE and post blog!

WORK!

WRITE!

STAY WITH IT!

EVERYDAY I WRITE!

AND REMEMBER TO SLOW DOWN!

Check in later. Happy writing! Wishing you all an amazing day!

With love,

Alicia

#WEWRITE, #DEARAGENT
Copyright © 2016 by Alicia Anabel Santos

Meet Sankofa Sisterhood Workshop Facilitator

I met this writer nine years ago. We met like most people meet these days online. We found each other through writing. We had so much in common, both single mothers, both with a fire and drive to write stories that would be heard and both women who WILL and HAVE sacrificed everything for this writers life–unapologetically!

“Kindred spirits” she coined us.

After a few email exchanges we met at one of my NYC Latina Writers Group circles and we were inseparable. We fed each other creatively, pushed each other ferociously and became each others champions in life. Fast-forward to today, Vanessa has been RELENTLESS in navigating her writer’s life and making her dreams come true. She is the definition of a writer who leaves it all on the page. On a personal note I am godmother to her beautiful daughter!

We are honored to have Vanessa Martir facilitating writing workshops at this year’s Sankofa Sisterhood Writer’s Retreat! You will be pushed! You will be inspired! You will be nourished! You will be grateful you attended!

photo

ABOUT VANESSA MARTIR

Vanessa Mártir is a NYC based writer, educator and mama. She is currently completing her memoir, Relentless, and chronicles the journey in her blog: vanessamartir.wordpress.com. A five-time VONA/Voices alum, Vanessa has been mentored by some of the best writers of our day, including Chris Abani, Staceyann Chinn and Mat Johnson. Most recently, Vanessa worked attended the Tinhouse Winter Nonfiction Workshop where she worked under the tutelage of Lacie Johnson, author of The Other Side.

Vanessa’s essays have appeared in The Butter, Poets & Writers Magazine, Kweli Journal, As/Us Journal, Portland Review, and the VONA/Voices Anthology, Dismantle, among others. Vanessa recently had a flash fiction piece published in Issue 51 of Smokelong Quarterly and her novel, Woman’s Cry, was published in 2007 by Augustus Publishing.

Vanessa served as the guest editor of the Fall 2015 issue of Aster(ix) Journal and the February/March 2016 Nonfiction editor of James Franco Review.

In 2011, Vanessa created the Writing Our Lives Workshop through which she’s led hundreds of writers through the journey of writing personal and memoir essays. She teaches the class periodically in NYC. For more information about her class or to book her to teach a workshop, present on a panel, or speak about autobiographical writing as a revolutionary act, send an email to vanessa_martir@yahoo.com.

There are only TWO spots available if you are interested in registering: SSWR2016

 

Peace and love,

Sankofa Sisterhood Organizers!

 

Copyright © 2016 by Alicia Anabel Santos

SANKOFA SISTERHOOD KEYNOTE

We are thrilled to introduce this year’s keynote. Alicia met Tonya at the Tengo Sed Writer’s Retreat in Costa Rica and left feeling inspired, motivated and more ready to tackle the world of fiction.

MEET OUR KEYNOTE

Tonya Cherie Hegamin

tumblr_inline_nia13f2qHR1s70xgv

 

Tonya Cherie Hegamin is the Creative Writing Coordinator and an Assistant Professor at the City University of New York, Medgar Evers College where she teaches Fiction Writing, Children’s Literature and Composition. Her NYPL 2010 Ezra Jack Keats award winning picture book, Most Loved in All the World also won the Christopher award and her young adult novels, M+O 4EVR and Pemba’s Song have also won national awards. Her historical young adult novel, Willow, is published by Candlewick Press (Feb 2014). Amelia Bloomer Project Recommended Feminist Readings and her books have received starred reviews in Publisher’s Weekly and featured in USA Today. Ms. Hegamin has written creative text for the national after-school program, Rocket Learning, focusing on conveying moral values and promoting educational equity for young readers. She has worked with thousands of young people as a crisis counselor, creative expression group leader, rights advocate and sexual health educator since 1998.  Her academic research interests include how artist educators influence innovative learning techniques and effective methods of teaching holistically through literature.

www.tonyacheriehegamin.com

 

Personal Biography: 

My childhood diary is a testament to my need to interpret human nature through writing. Mostly I wanted to remind my adult self how difficult it was to be a kid, but also I often felt like an outsider, and turned to books when I needed to connect with someone, to feel included. After all these years, I have realized that the closest thing we might ever get to “mind melding” like in Star Trek is through reading. I like the phrase “Translating the Imagination”– stories that make meaningful connection between writer and reader imaginations, ultimately cultivating compassionate understanding.

To purchase WILLOW, please bring a copy of her book, Tonya will be available for signatures.

There are only TWO spots available if you are interested in registering: SSWR2016

Peace and love,

Sankofa Sisterhood Organizers!

 

Copyright © 2016 by Alicia Anabel Santos

 

I was told that I had no right to claim my blackness…

Hey Family,

There is so much I want to say… so much I want to share. I have been preparing for this trip to Cuba since 2012, but ten years before that, in 2001, this was when I began my journey into the Yoruba tradition.

I didn’t understand what it was that drew me, and much like the mantra “we fear what we don’t understand…” I feared this connection and pull that was hard for me to explain. I feared what certain sounds of the drum did to me. I feared learning about a religion and tradition that I was not exposed to in my Catholic home. In fact, anything connected to Africa other than my dad playing the tambora was the closest I got to learning about the African influence in my Dominican upbringing—music being my initial connection. I was drawn. It was a secret obsession. I shared it with no one. I believed that no one would understand. I was being pulled in the direction of discovering myself and coming to understand the depth of my identity socially, spiritually, and  culturally.

When I was told that I had no right to claim my blackness, this was when I found myself holding onto it more. I began writing about my African roots as a Dominican woman, published my first article and then was blessed with working on the Afrolatinos documentary!  Here I came face to face with not only confirmations of what I have always known but was not taught at home… that I AM BLACK… that I am part of the African Diaspora… and that I AM AN AFROLATINA!  While I traveled I began to embrace all that I am! We visited over 15 countries in Latin America, interviewing and meeting with large groups of people who were celebrating and owning their African roots… we were black folks who speak Spanish.

I immersed myself in everything that connected Latino culture to Africa… but my connection to the Afrocuban religion “Santeria” or “Regla de Ocha” comes from a personal connection I have with Nigeria. Of the many groups of enslaved peoples who were taken to Hispaniola, I have always believed that my ancestors were from Nigeria. “But you were raised Catholic!”  Many people are uncomfortable with my decision. I don’t expect for people to get it. My religious journey is something that I have barely written about publicly, yet I am open to sharing my process “Iyaworaje” with those closest to me, and those interested in learning what a year in white entails.

To donate to my campaign visit: https://www.gofundme.com/ewsfe9zw (please share widely).

With so much love,
Alicia

Day 168: Dear #Prince #purplerain #ripprince

Dear Prince,

Yesterday was a devastatingly painful day. I was riding the train to Vermont when I read a tweet that you were gone. I called my daughter immediately to confirm and she said, “No mama, let’s not jump to conclusions… there’s an investigation. Lets just wait it out.”

But even seeing that on a feed was enough to stop me in my tracks. I was in shock. I couldn’t focus on the speech I was finalizing on Social Justice. How could I go and inspire college students on activism, social justice, being vocal and seen in a world that wants to keep us on the outside??? All I wanted to do was watch hours of interviews and footage about your life and all that you contributed to the world and to meditate on what you gave me personally. It happened so fast… the news confirmed that you had in fact passed away.

Prince-Purple-Rain

DAMN!

NOOOO!

NOT PRINCE!!!

NOT MY PRINCE!!!

FUCKKKKKKKKKKKKKK!

It was too much… my entire teenage years came crashing back into this 44-year-old body. Your songs were the soundtrack to my entire life experience. The movie was released the day after my 13th birthday. I remember watching WHEN DOVES CRY

How could you just leave me standing

Alone in a world so cold…

Maybe I’m just too demanding…

Maybe I’m just like my father… too bold!

Maybe I’m just like my mother… she’s never satisfied!

Why do we scream at each other… this is what it sounds like when doves cry!

155bd6c6c132b17af4f6924865ec1fa7

There are things you are trying to understand when you are in a 13 year old girl’s body. Just entering your teenage years… you are beginning to come into your body… you are beginning to understand sex… or what they were teaching in those sex education classes in the 80s…. you are being taught that all that you are thinking and fantasizing about is wrong. That who you are is wrong. That all that you desire is wrong. And then you entered my life and told me that I could be who I am, love the skin I am in and love who I was born to love.

Yesterday all I wanted to do was crawl in bed and watch everything that was about Prince because as with any artist you admire and LOVE for the blessings they add to your life… they become your family even if you have never met them. There was something about PRINCE… his voice… his presence… even if you only did get to experience him only on the screen and radio.

The musical arrangements

His breathing

His screaming

His vulnerability

His ability to reach into your soul and become one with you…

There are not many artists I can say that about…

I will forever be grateful for all you gave me!

BEAUTIFUL ONE… this DOVE is crying!

PurpleRain_124Pyxurz

Love,

Alicia

 

Copyright © 2016 by Alicia Anabel Santos