And here we are. At the tippy-top of the year. At the first page of this story. Raven is my name and talking is my trade. I write words. I perform, often with words and the only consistency that seems to follow me is, I’m a storyteller. All other variables are subject to change. Really, but not really.

As of today, in the thick of January, 2018, I have both arrived and am on my way. I am duly a work-in-progress and the radiant result, glossin’ all the way from Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, New York. And you, you are here with me at my Speakeasy. My late-night word lounge. A place where I talk (uninterrupted) about the business that tickles my fancy. You’re free to join me with your favorite glass of wine atop a jazzy sound track - I mean that’s how I speak easy. The thing about this party is, you never know when it’s happening or what’s gonna be on the bill. You just show up when word goes out, dig? Dig.  And I? I’ll promise to always get you home in at least a few pieces.

In spirit of the first month of the year -- Sigh.

Alright. I imagine your hands are full with New Year’s Resolutions, as they call them, chipping away at the You you want to be. You go, You!

Side note: I have no energy to disdain the healthy concept of New Year’s Resolutions. Though, I get it, words, colloquial words and ideas especially, are notoriously difficult to navigate. Why? Well, because they come with more baggage than a single mother. So I get not wanting to participate in the use of certain words and concepts until you’ve gotten a chance to sort out your relationship to them, fair enough - but that work is pretty freeing once done (whichever side you choose).  

So let’s agree that resolutions are akin to intentions - or even better: intentions are broken down into habitual practices, that way we have actionable tasks to execute daily.

I’m one of those people who ritualistically sets intention, every year, yes, but also every moon, every hurtle and every milestone. Partly because I am touched with a bit of obsessive-compulsive behavior so I like whole things, blank paper, lists and organization - though I’m not your classic organized human, my brain is certainly methodized, so in my own respect, I’m organized. That, mixed with my need to heal myself and my community leaves me in this 24/7/365 under constructruction state.

Something I’ve invited into conscientiousness is s l o w i   n  g    d    o      w       n. My brain works so damn fast. I’m a left-handed-artist-Aries with with an athletic body and competitive spirit. I eat fast, I tend to cut people off in conversation and I run up every flight of steps I’m met with. So naturally, as I work through the spiritual kinks, my instinct is ‘finish’ and ‘arrive.’ I am practicing sitting deeply in my growth like a child’s pose, feeling the the warmth of the stretch, taking account of all the sensations expansion brings.

If you find yourself feeling meh about a once a year call to action, I want to offer you a concept that I extracted and adopted during my time studying Lee Strasberg's acting method in drama school. The RECOMMIT. Lee Strasberg’s method is a sort of meditative practice of focus and concentration used to pull up particular emotions to readily access when acting in a scene. Concentrating long enough to retrieve second hand emotions is a difficult practice and like most meditations, your mind’s muscle relaxes and wanders, then before you can even namaste, you’re lying in Savasana replying to that work email in your head.  Now I cannot sponsor this acting method as I believe it to be delicate and easily mishandled, yielding dangerous blows to the psyche. HOWEVER, what I did take from that (treacherous) acting class was the the practice of jumping back in guilt free after falling off. It’s finding focus again after your email stint. Recommitting. It’s what happens when having to realign is a part of the process instead of this deviant act that has pulled you out.

This is partly why I showed up here for you at the end of the first month to pick you up where you might have plunged. Release the pressure to get it right because it’s simply not useful, it’s costless to adopt the ethos and behaviorism of recommitting. What I appreciate about this ideological practice, is that it summons a slot for mis-steps, relapses, and straight up rebellion BUT also holds us accountable to continue on purity as a practice.

The New York City Slickers know, there’s always so damn much coming at us and only the kung fu ninjas can survive. But even ninjas need to rest if they’re wounded and strategize before rising. So if depression tries to swing at me, because she does come creeping, I don’t fuss. I let her have her day and I let Rae have Netflix -- but that’s it, she only gets one day without a fight -- This level of forgiveness I practice doesn’t free me from dark days it just lends me night vision. In an alternate surfing analogy, I ride the wave and it passes instead of resisting and letting the wave wipe me out.  

So there it is -- my intention this year. All “resolutions” can live under this mentality. The praxis of moving through it all with that same energy you bring to your downward dog. Slow, conscious breath. And if you choke, RECOMMIT.

My hope is that maybe, just maybe, pieces of my survival tactics, observations, and discoveries serve you or bring you to your own awarenesses. This today, and what you will ever hear here at my Speakeasy is by no means prescriptive but rather an attempt to breathe through it. Trust, we are all doggie-paddling in this thang, but if I can breathe easy, then I can Speakeasy and that, my people, that is all this storytelling sweetheart seeks. Until the next time…

Don't stop The Don'tstop.

peace & coconut grease,