I have chosen to share wisdom from one of my dearest and most creative soul ties, La Shaun phoenix Kotaran. I met this artist a little over a decade ago in a Detroit poetry venue. Instantly after watching La Shaun’s performance on stage I was drawn to her magic. I am not too sure how we actually exchanged information but according to her, she heard me share a poem on stage and felt a connection as well.
I am not particularly interested in detailing her life and how this Detroit artist entered the creative realm. If you Google her or listen to her music, spoken word, or read her poetry book you will become more acquainted with her identity. Because of her experiences, she has been able to speak volumes of light into my life, especially during some of my lowest moments – to name a few:
- When I avoided my doctor’s request to set a follow-up appointment to find out the results of an operation that would indicate whether or not I had cancer, she lit a fire under my behind to set that appointment.
- When I organized a Women’s Symposium and people backed out at the last minute. Without my asking, she stepped in and took over areas where I needed help the most.
- For my birthday when I was living abroad and I sat in this small apartment thinking I had been forgotten, she sent me a cyberspace birthday gift reminding me how much I was loved — not just by her and others — but most importantly how much I loved myself.
- And then there are the endless love letters that solidified this blessed affair.
My intention is to share some of the wisdom that comes from the letters she has written. They offer friendship, authenticity, forgiveness, growth, fire, and more love.
The italicized phrases help explain the context of phoenix’s responses.
Phoenix (small ‘p’) was a name given to me by the poets in the mid to late 90s. I’m not sure of the exact date, as I’ve had the name now for as long as I can remember. One thing I can say for certain is that you have to be careful when you name a thing. I’ve literally become every facet of the name PHOENIX. I was in an abusive relationship and I used poetry therapeutically to share my story, to escape from the trauma of the relationship and then to eventually escape my abuser. The lines I weaved in those smoked-filled cafés filled with incense, cigarettes and insecurity began to really resonate with people, until they gave me my “poet name”. It never wore off in that I have lived my life as a phoenix. This includes overcoming death multiple times, reinventing myself to be as youthful as the world around me and taking on this magical/mystical appeal. Moreover, as this mythical bird that can soar at some of the highest altitudes, I find it hard to hang around folks with a pigeon mentality. I can’t be on this earthly terrain accepting any random scrap people want to give me. I was born to fly. I was born to be a big deal. I was born to be this magical, mystical, drama-filled being. I had difficulty accepting that, but [age] 40 will make you cluck your tongue against the roof of your mouth and say, “F*** it. This is me. I’m amazing. I’m scared. I take risks. Some of this sh** is planned. Some of it isn’t. But, for everything I am and everything I’m not, I’m completely fine with being me. I’ll do what I want. I’ll say what I want. I’ll handle the consequences either way.”
Why the arts?
Because it was easy to set my pain to a tempo. Poetry and music became this fluid thing – like water cleansing the spirit or like being baptized. I think art, and we chose each other. I needed an outlet [and] art needed a vessel.
A specific phase in phoenix’s life.
I think this season has been transitional for so many folks, myself included. I’m inspired, but I’ve been mentally and creatively drained so I think I’m going through a seasonal purge/emotional cleanse. What has been my particular lifeline in the past few weeks is waking up in the mornings and for 5-10 minutes just declaring out loud all of the stuff I’m grateful for: From life to my warm blanket to incense to the breakfast smoothie to the sun to the birds to no leg cramps to great sex the night before to a great movie to the morning drive not feeling so rushed. Every little thing I can think of to be grateful for I say it. It changes me from cranky to positive in 5-10 minutes and it’s been helping this seasonal depression.
This was for my Spirit Space Photographic Series on Instagram. phoenix is a feature.
My philosophy is really simple. We are 100% human and 100% divine. We are these amazing supernatural (above the norm) beings in that we have the power to access that divinity all the time by mastering our thoughts. Truly, as a God/Goddess thinks is their reality and everything that’s going on (or not going on) in our lives is directly related to our conscious and subconscious thoughts. Mike Dooley, an amazing author and master of the Law of Attraction says that thoughts become things and it’s our responsibility to choose the good thoughts. While storms may come, how we consider the storm is how we’ll respond to the storm. How we consider joy is how we’ll respond to joy. Even in difficult moments I’ve been working hard to make sure that I’m grateful for something everyday. Gratefulness adds. It multiplies. It brings in miracles where there are seemingly none to be had. It is a true gateway.
Letting go of stuff.
I’ve been doing a lot of pruning. I’ve asked God to show me who is supposed to be here as I transition into the next phase of my life. I’ve been carrying a lot of dead weight in relationships and have had to address a lot of things that I’ve been passive about in previous years. It’s been a process – making myself and my needs a priority. I’ve had to confront some emotionally scary situations and say, “Peace. I love you. But, the way my life is set up right now, you’re toxic and the relationship in its current state doesn’t suit me.”
Do you ever have doubts about your abilities and dreams?
Yes. I have doubts all the time. Am I too old, too much in my own way to be what I want – a rich and FAMOUS entertainer? Do you hear me? I want to be a rich and FAMOUS entertainer in the United States and in the United Kingdom. I want to be a Cinderella story for the young and seasoned. And that sheer desire – the clarity and honesty of it – the desire to stop hiding behind that desire and to just embrace it is my driving force. When I put my mind on the desire to be a rich and famous singer…when I keep repeating it – I’m motivated to just do one thing towards it. Write a song, send an email, make a connection, and pray. I keep my goal at the forefront of my mind.
I was preparing for a trip and was concerned about my purpose. She said this to me.
Let me share this, Goddess: You have seen other countries with determination and penny pinching. You have quickened and inspired the minds of so many emerging artists while discovering who you are in the process. You understand Universal Law, the Law of Attraction, the Law of Love. Nothing…No THING…will be withheld from you. Continue to dream a world. Continue to take risks. Put good positive energy and thoughts into the results you want and let Source Energy worry about the how’s. Make YOU a priority right now. Your wants. Your needs. You don’t have to stay in your lane as much as you need to make yourself a chief priority. I think that you should embrace the unknown. It’s priming you for blessings. You can look for cool jobs and gigs while you’re there. The answers will come to you in the midst of the circumstance. You’ll get to see how you survive when all of the decisions have to be made in the moment. Sometimes, we plan the sh** out of stuff, and maybe we need to get lost in the experience. Overplanning was taking the fun out of stuff for me – you know? So, I challenge you to just embrace that you’ll be in Italy and that every decision about your next move will come. Your spirit and body have been telling you to rest and fall in love with art again. Your first trip to Italy afforded you that. This trip, be intentional to discover your purpose and then let God pull things into the forefront for you.
So, you can see why I love this woman so much. She is a reminder that we are advocates for each other because we believe in the extraordinary and the impossible-made-possible. We believe in growth and glory. We walk in faith with our families cheering us on. At the bottom of her email there is a quote by Aristotle, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act. It is a habit.”
How true indeed. She is excellence in motion, always working on herself and encouraging others. She is an artist’s artist and a life coach comrade. What better way to start the year than with a phoenix on either side of me, whispering, “Rise Phoenix! Rise and declare yourself ALIVE!”
Share your thoughts in the comments. phoenix shared that she takes at least 5- 10 minutes out of her day to express gratitude. What is your daily ritual OR what daily ritual will you begin to practice to keep you centered in and inspired about life?
Learn more about La Shaun phoenix Kotaran and also listen to her music.
About the Contributor
Traci Currie is a Communication and Visual Arts lecturer at University of Michigan-Flint, as well as a knit-crochet artist, writer, and spoken word performer. She has been a part of the art world for over 15 years as an art gallery board member; spoken word series organizer; performer, nationally and internationally; and published poet. She believes The PRC will help women reach their highest potential. “The Phoenix Rising Collective is about empowering women to take ownership of their lives, claim their identities and be the positive change they wish to see in the world they live.” Read her latest posts.