The Phoenix Rising Collective

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ARTIST FEATURE: Letting Your Spirit Be Your Guide – An Interview with Dr. Joyce Piert

Artist Feature_Joyce Piert_The Phoenix Rising Collective

 

The Phoenix Rising Collective’s Artist Feature, curated by Traci Currie, interviews women artists who use their talents and creativity to fully express self-love, build self-esteem, and nurture their own authenticity while inspiring others. Creative expressions may range from performing to painting to writing to travel and everything in between. Our goal is to share how these empowered women cultivate agency, healing, and happiness through fulfilling their passion.

This Artist Feature is Dr. Joyce Piert:

Joyce_Piert[The Phoenix Rising Collective]

“As a God-being we are creators. We create the world.” -Dr. Joyce Piert

What a difficult and easy article to write this month. Why? “Because we are of each other’s likeness,” the feature artist said to me. When you sit in the presence of your likeness sometimes you aren’t ready to see or hear a truth about yourself. Her name is Joyce Piert, affectionately known as Dr. P in the community in which she resides. I have spent some time with Dr. P this past summer, and the experience has been extraordinary. I begin by defining her as Limitless. Energetic. Overabundant. Infectious. All-empowering. Encompassing. Divine. Imagine being surrounded by this sort of energy: Pretty powerful!

We begin with age because she says it’s a vulnerable subject for her. She explained, “Society has predetermined that there’s a certain experience you begin to have at different ages.” We are constantly reminded of these expectations that shape our identity. Dr. P continuously destroys these societal expectations. Having been on earth for almost six decades, she has honed in on tackling the spirit of age in the body in which she dwells. “I feel a societal pull that says you should have 50 bottles of medication, concerned about your health, less active when you pass the half-century milestone. There’s all these expectations that aren’t healthy and wholesome, because it’s the downward pull that attempts to speak to me versus the upward mobility that I wish to actually live.” This vibrant woman is of many ages. At one point she mentioned being 35, 18 and 5. She had me recall what those ages were like. There’s a vitality and youthful glow surrounding our existential being. This is attributed to the innocence of our youth. She talked about experiencing a spiritual rebirth. “We tend to separate this spirituality from this creative way of living. But it’s only in spirituality that we can create. As a God-being we are creators. We create the world.” As children, we develop those skills to create. Moreover, the wonderment to creating is limitless in a child’s mind. Have you ever seen a child that wants to touch everything, go everywhere and say as much as possible in whatever language befitting to that child? Yes, that’s Dr. P.

She Shares Her Story: Mapping the Spiritual Evolution

I was in class talking to students and I said, “What is it you are passionate about?” They turned it around by asking me, “What is it Dr. P that you are passionate about?” And I said, “I create masterpieces. My masterpieces are people.” Once I assist people in finding out what they are passionate about then I assist them in that creation so they can create their own masterpieces. She gave an example. She referred to one person being a diamond hidden among rubble. It’s easy to discard gems that don’t look the part from first or second glance, which is why, she explained, it takes a trained-spiritual eye. This instance led to her sharing her journey as an artist-writer, educator, masterpiece creator and so much more.

I grew up in the civil rights era. It was in the 1970s when the Black Muslims opened a school and I taught 2nd and 3rd grade. I was 17 years old. I actually became a Black Muslim at age 12. I was considered the revolutionary in the family. At 14 or 15 I was a squad leader meaning I was a leader over a group of Muslim women. During this time I was being mentored to lead others who were older than I. At 17, I started teaching in our school and two years later I was married. The philosophy I lived by was Black Nationalism. It was being fused into my being daily. In my mid-20s Elijah Muhammad died and a transition occurred. I started to work in a factory and my views began shifting.

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In my 30s I became Christian. I believe this was evolution. I was at a point in my life where I wanted something else and my attachment to Islam was diluted. There was a call in my soul for something, and people started showing up and coming into my life. But I was too radical for the church. For instance, I ended up being put out of two different churches because of my radicalism or energetic spirit. Bottom line, I had a strong spiritual connection through unction. I spoke aloud in the spirit and this made others uncomfortable or at least they felt I was disrespectful. My understanding was that I let my spirit speak. However, the two churches thought it was out-of-order. Interestingly enough, I was asked to come back to the churches – even to teach a class. There was a lot of growth and discomfort in this realization.

As I progressed and developed, my relationship with the Creator strengthened. I learned that the church was not the key to my direct connection to my Higher Power. My church was without walls. So, at this time, I am working at General Motors as an electrician and I recall through prayer I was told to quit my job at GM and return to school. I did and pursued education. During this period, I also had two children in high school. My children had always struggled in a traditional public school, although they were in a two-parent home, middle working class community, with everything being copacetic. Something wasn’t right, though. The other kids around them were struggling as well. I started volunteering at the school. As a volunteer I saw students get D’s and E’s, and I wept, because I was wondering how were they going to get into college with these grades. So I returned to my roots – “self determination.” I knew if this work was going to get done, I had to be the one to step in to help and do it. Also during this time I divorced after 21 years of marriage.

Once I got my bachelors I started a summer program that ran for 5 years. It featured language arts, mathematics, and African American studies. Then I remarried and moved to Shreveport, Louisiana and pursued my masters. These studies focused on charter schools. Soon after I returned to Michigan State University for Education Administration; that’s when a book idea came to me.

So here I am in my Ph.D. at Michigan State. I started to look at identity and who we are as Black people. My research looked at African American experiences in an African American centered based school model. In my research I wanted to find out if it was worth using this model. Over the years the research and application shaped this book I published June 2015: Alchemy of the Soul: An African Centered Education

I asked what present space she is in. She responded: I started this school, I AM Institute for Learning. It wound up being a school focused on consciousness and metaphysics. I had no idea what it would become. I simply listened to spirit. And it became a school that evolved as I evolved. It was reflective of my own spiritual journey. The people around me that joined me in shaping this school were playmates. They were having the same experiences I was. And they all found me. They evolved and are evolving at their own rate. Unlike traditional schools, there is no requirement or grade level, and there is no assessment. Wherever you are is where you are supposed to be.

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I end the way I began; the challenge and ease in writing this article is linked to the question I asked her – “Why do you think we were drawn together?” This question is important, because I do feel like I am in a turning point in my life and it appears Dr. P stepped into my world very intentionally in a head-strong/heart-strong way. She said, “I called you forth and you came as a playmate. You agreed to come and play.” She’s right. I am in that playful phase in life. I have been serious for so long. I followed rules to a tee, even if the rules made no sense for or to me. There’s nothing to regret in my journey, even if there are moments I choose not to revisit. But Dr. P shows me that there really isn’t much to fear except fear itself. And that sort of phobia is frightening – the idea that fear simply shows up and hovers over your thoughts and abilities! She repeatedly says to me, “Stop overthinking. Stop. Stop. Stop. PLAY! Be passionate in your playing. Play and watch the world play with you.” Oh how I love to play in the world of ART. Because when I play I am at the height of my game – Unstoppable. Energetic. Limitless. Overabundant. Divine. It’s time to PLAY BALL!

 


 

About the Contributing Writer:

traci_currie[contributor]the phoenix rising collectiveTraci 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 young women reach their highest potential.  “This organization 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.” Check out more of her posts.

 


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ARTIST FEATURE: These are a Few of Her Favorite Things – An Interview with Shekinah Shazaam (Video)

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The Phoenix Rising Collective’s Artist Feature, curated by Traci Currie, interviews women artists who use their talents and creativity to fully express self-love, build self-esteem, and nurture their own authenticity while inspiring others. Creative expressions may range from performing to painting to writing to travel and everything in between. Our goal is to share how these empowered women cultivate agency, healing, and happiness through fulfilling their passion.

This Artist Feature is Shekinah Shazaam.

It’s spring, and I have the perfect artist for this blossoming season. Shekinah “Shazaam” Tapplin! Just read the name. Actually, say the name out loud. SHAZAAM! This is a special time for this vibrant, creative being. Not only is she celebrating her 23rd birthday this May, she also graduates from college with a BFA in Graphic Design and a Theatre minor. She is an up-and-coming filmmaker, photographer, actress, graphic designer and writer. Are you exhausted yet?

I decided to approach this feature differently. I wanted to match the colorful in-your-face energy she exudes. I sat down with Shekinah and said, “Let’s play a game.” Her smile told me to ‘Bring it on!’ Our game is called 23 Favorites because she is turning 23 years old. Essentially, I am asking her to share 23 of her favorite things – like the song My Favorite Things from the musical Sound of Music. This is no coincidence. I love the movie for different reasons but the #1 reason related to Shekinah is the vibrancy and joy that resides in the musical’s main character Maria. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying Shekinah is energetic and giddy every single minute of the day. I am simply saying there is a bright light in her. She makes me want to reach for the shooting stars at night. If I am lost, all I have to do is look up.

PhotoGrid_1432690531784To set the stage for the game below, I want to share a few tidbits about Shekinah. She is from a small town in Michigan called Clio. When she mentioned this, she gave me the not-quite-exciting-but-this-is-where-I-am-from look, and I told her this is where the famous people are usually from – a place no one has ever heard of. She chose to attend University of Michigan-Flint because it’s a commuter school. Beyond saving money she also chose this university for the wonderful faculty in her major and minor. She explained, “I love it because I can’t NOT do it. This work is engrained in my soul. I love being able to tell the different kinds of stories in visual, oral, written and performance.” Then she left me with a phrase, “I don’t believe the world is black or white. It’s in the middle. There are so many different types of people in the world that there is no one way.” Indeed. She is willing and able to explore the possibilities without question.

So, we begin the game 23 Favorites. Her responses to the questions are her words. At the end there is a short video explaining some of the responses.

  1. Favorite Attire: Layering in Fall
  2. Favorite Season: Fall but Autumn sounds prettier
  3. Favorite Film: Star Wars – It’s scifi. I love the fact that these things can be possible. It would be very ignorant for humans to assume they are the only life forms in this universe.
  4. Favorite TV Show: BBC’s Sherlock
  5. Favorite Music Genre: Anything electronic
  6. Favorite Artist: That’s so hard. I have so many. I will limit it to four: (1) James Blake – He’s British. He has soul! The melodies meld together with his beautiful voice. (2) Active Child – He’s a redhead. I have a thing for redheads (as she smiles at her own red connection). He has range. The deepest deeps and the highest highs. (3) Lindsey Stirling – She is really amazing. She is a violinist who dances while she plays. She mixes in dub step with the violin. She also makes cinematic films that go along with her songs. (4) Lo Fang – He’s a recent new favorite. He has a very pretty voice that balances well with the electronic sounds beneath it.
  7. Favorite Color: Red
  8. Favorite Number: 13
  9. Favorite Actor: Will Smith. Seeing his transformation from Fresh Prince to more serious roles and him embracing his children’s art and acting…I love his support and passion. And he has a laid back attitude.
  10. Favorite Place: My room. Everything I need is right there.
  11. Favorite Part of the Body: Man or Woman? (I say, BOTH) Woman: Women’s hips. Maybe because I don’t have them. Big womanly hips. They look comfortable to sit on and it looks like it would be easy to squeeze a child out. Man: I have two:  (1) Man legs – they intrigue me because no matter the size of the man, the legs are usually small. (2) Man chest – I like when there is a little something there. When you can squeeze their moobs, they make me giggle (i.e. moobs – the male version of boobs).
  12. Favorite Activity as a Hobby: Crafting – Do It Yourself (DIY) projects
  13. Favorite (Ideal) Career: Filmmaking because it combines everything I love
  14. Favorite Month: May because it’s the birthday month and it warms up then; Then September because Autumn enters the picture
  15. Favorite Person: Though he would be surprised, my Daddy. We have similar personalities and sense of humor.
  16. Favorite Jewelry: Rings because they are very versatile. They are chunky and you can layer. You can wear with almost any outfit
  17. Favorite Book: I have two: (1) Trilogy: The Singer/The Song/The Finale – The Singer Trilogy. It’s written in a long poetic form, kind of like an epic. The language communicates with me personally and reads smoothly. (2) The Hush Hush Saga – It’s a fantasy paranormal romance and it features angels, one of my favorite topics to write about.
  18. Favorite Experience: For my 20th birthday me, my parents, and three best girlfriends went to Chicago and I fell in love with the city. We saw so many different cultures living together, great amount of art, and people were friendly. Just AMAZINGNESS!
  19. Favorite Time of Day: Evening to nighttime when the sun is setting. Things are calmer. I do my best thinking later on at night.
  20. Favorite Word: Shazaam – I love this word because (1) it sounds good with my actual name, which is why I use it as my artist name, and (2) I love the fun way that Beyoncé used it in the Austin Powers movie. That’s where I got it.
  21. Favorite Writing You’ve Done: Not completed but my first novel I began writing at age 13. (She couldn’t reveal the details – work in progress)
  22. Favorite Food: Chocolate
  23. AND FINALLY, Favorite Quote: Wishing does nothing, doing does everything. I came up with this a few years ago when I realized people were whining about everything they wanted. Instead of whining about what you want, why don’t you go out and do what you want. Hard work gets you to where you want to go.

 

 

Please support this talented up-and-coming artist; you’ll be glad you did! Check out her website: Shekinah Shazaam

 

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About the Contributing Writer:

traci_currie[contributor]the phoenix rising collectiveTraci 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 young women reach their highest potential.  “This organization 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.


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It’s Love Yourself First Friday – Today’s Phoenix is Lorna

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Happy Friday! It’s Love Yourself First! Friday (LYFF), part of our Shed Light series collection. We invite diverse women to tell us their LYFF stories to inspire and empower others to also fiercely demonstrate self-love in action.  The questions are meant to  “shed light” on the diverse ways our featured Phoenixes are making self-care and intentional living a priority.

This beautiful Phoenix is Lorna:

How do you love yourself? What does that mean to you?

Loving myself means taking care of me, doing the things I like to do, and being with people I am happy to be with (who can stimulate me and vice versa). For example, I like my beauty treatments (massages, pedicures, etc). Beauty treatments represent short moments that I have with me. Loving myself means having dedication to ME because I have very little time.

I run a tourist business in Tuscany outside of Florence, Italy. This tourist business is considered a resort, and running it means attending to guests, attending to the maintenance of the apartments (i.e. cleaning, interior design, etc), organizing weddings and various events, and being on call practically 24 hours a day.

I not only run a business, but I also have a family to take care of. This is why I have very little time for myself, but no matter what I try to create a little bit of time for ME.

What actions demonstrate the self-care you provide to your mind, body and soul?

Mind and Body: I attend a Pilates course once a week, and I do my beauty treatments twice a month. I used to pamper myself at the hairdresser but now I am going natural and am wearing different natural hairstyles.

Some of my favorite activities that connect to the soul are:

  1. Dedicating my time in the evenings to reading books. In the high season, it’s not possible to read as much, but in the low seasons I read a lot more.
  2. Attending guided tours on art.
  3. Having my favorite television shows. No one can disturb me during these two hours when I watch my shows!
  4. Going to the cinema on weekends.
  5. If possible, having tea meetings with a good friend. We take the time to meet and talk about us and catch up on our personal lives.

PhotoGrid_1380314916102Is there an obstacle or challenge that you’ve overcome that led you to deeper love for who you are?

The main obstacle is from my business. I learned in the beginning that the kind of construction we needed for renovation was generally conducted by and among men. So, when we started, my husband was responsible for keeping up with the technicians, engineers and workers. I was more or less responsible for the interior of the building. But I feel and believe that the men were only good at doing certain frameworks of the building, but not the details. I had to learn about the details and also learn how to collaborate with men. It was difficult at first for them (especially the Italian men) to deal with a woman supervising them, in particular a Jamaican woman. No matter, I stood my ground, and in the end they saw that I had strength and perseverance.

So, after 7 years of renovation and now 11 years running this business, I find more and more that I like what I do. I am enjoying it more because I see the changes, and I see my ability to make it more pleasant and comfortable for the guests. Their appreciation for what I do leads to them returning to the resort.

What have you learned from self-love?

I have learned that you have to give it all that you’ve got. You have to keep moving and be positive and optimistic. Don’t get me wrong, I have had times when I was very frustrated (especially now in periods of economic crisis, because it is more difficult to obtain our goals to make the business successful). However, I feel that if you give it all that you have and continue with perseverance, strength and courage you can make it!

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Lorna also shared some beautiful photos of her resort where she gives it all she has:  Residence Il Gavillaccio

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Lastly, Lorna had this to say about her experience running the Residence Il Gavillaccio and her commitment to the guests who visit this breathtaking resort:

  • When my guests arrive I want them to feel not only that they are on a holiday but that they are “Home away from Home.”
  • The strength of running this business (besides having support from my husband and son) is also the appreciation of many of my guests that have told me many times, not only how beautiful the place is, but also how dedicated to the business and to the guests I am.
  • [The guests] notice the hard work. They see the results, and on many occasions I have had comments from them saying, “I feel totally at home here.”

Thank you, Lorna, for inspiring us with your LYFF story. There’s no question that you are a Phoenix rising!

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Love Yourself First! Friday is a weekly self-love series created by the Phoenix Rising Collective. Beautiful, diverse women of color tell their stories of triumph, share their personal affirmations, and declare their love for their own lives! The series is meant to inspire and empower women to fiercely demonstrate self-love in action in order to build and sustain healthy, positive self-esteem.  Be sure to read some of our other inspiring stories


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Make a Declaration, Not a Resolution! Be Self-Love in Action.

HEY, PHOENIX! What’s on your agenda for New Year’s Eve? Whatever you’re planning our hope is that it involves some reflection on 2012. The word, Sankofa, in the Akan language, means to ‘go back and fetch it.’ In other words, know your past, to understand your future. Have you examined your personal past? Are you conscious of your actions and decisions? Your habits (great, good, bad, ugly)? What are you manifesting?
185562447117757956_5pYNiRSK_cLet’s be clear, DON’T dwell; that isn’t healthy (and for goodness sake, forgive yourself for mistakes). However, DO gain some understanding as to why you do what you do. Right? Go back and fetch it! In order to break old patterns and for positive change to occur, self-reflection is necessary. So, instead of making another ‘tired’ resolution (yes, we said it!), have the courage to make a promise, a real declaration for some part of your life. What do you really want? Are you willing to do the work to bring it to fruition?

Reflect. Visualize. Declare. Act.

Go ahead, I love myself; therefore, I promise to___________________. I declare that I will_____________________.

And so it is!

Happy 2013, Phoenix! Be self-love in action.