Herietta Lacks| HeLa

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

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Note: This portrait by Kadir Nelson, carries great symbolism that is worth the read.

Currently, I am working on a personal drawing inspired by Henrietta Lacks (HeLa). I was introduced to this phenomenal women behind HeLa, the immortal cells of a black women who revolutionize medicine and pave the way for the development of the polio vaccine via an invitation to the reception and opening exhibit in March. I learned that HeLa cells have been used for the research of cancer, AIDS, the effects of radiation and toxic substances, gene mapping, and other scientific pursuits.

When I received the invitation in March for the reception and exhibition opening at Reginald F. Lewis Museum in Baltimore, MD, I immediately accepted. Soon after I was on the internet gathering information about Henrietta Lacks and learning about her story. The reception and the exhibition was inspiring.

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Since then, I have been given the audio-book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by author Rebecca Skloot. While driving to work, I have been listening to Lacks story and I cannot seem to get this story off my mind. I am proud that a black women has once again contributed to the greater good of all humanity, but more importantly she is getting recognition. Her story is well told by Rebecca Skloot and has been an eye opener. Skloot informs readers/listeners about medical studies that not all people are aware of that include the Tuskegee and the Human Radiation experiments.

When an inspirational piece entered my mind early this week, I have been finding myself lost in the image. The conversational piece grew from a pencil drawing, to a full color image in my mind where every detail was covered down to the shadow effects on the breasts of the women.

Much like the talk surrounding HeLa cells multiplying and growing at a rate unknown to the medicine world in the 50’s, so has my ambition to create this very personal conversation piece and share the story of Henrietta Lacks with family and friends. It seems that the spirit of Henrietta Lacks has somehow catapulted me into a space of focus intent and clarity, which makes it easy to bring this inspirational piece to reality.

Although, I have no intent of sharing my inspirational piece online, I want to share what I feel is the reason for this piece. As a woman and mother of daughters, I believe it is important to highly regard the body of the female as a powerful force. This body we women have is a life giving source. We are conduits of life, we are the bearers of life–what is, what was, and what it will be. We must own how powerful we are in light of what some believe is their property and right to control. We must not allow our daughters, girlfriends, sisters, mothers, aunts, etc., to give in to laws and conversations that attempt to convince them that they do not have a right to decide what’s best for their bodies. The womb and breast being of the most high importance is the armor of which God/the universe has given women charge over. We must guard it and accept that as the precious gem it is and forever will be.

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As I work through this image in my mind, extracting and perfecting it, I think of another powerful women that adds her power to this piece, Georgia O’Keefe. Her paintings of flowers reminding me of the vagina and its delicacy she so eloquently captured. To be reminded these days when I look at a hibiscus, rose, pansy, iris, daffodil, etc. that if any shame lingered in my mind about the power of my female body to let it go.

Be powerful. Be unapologetic. BE.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks: Saturday, April, 22, 2017 on HBO.

April 2017 – Open Spaces: To Be Ready. To Share. To Sacrifice.

Open Spaces has been my theme lately; to use different spaces ( invisible to some and visible to others) to bring comfort and affirmation to individuals that are on the path of awakening and those individuals who are grieving a loss.

With this theme in mind, I have been finding myself in different spaces with individuals that continue to confirm within me that I must be there, wherever there is. To be ready when I am pulled. To share when its necessary. To sacrifice my story in service to others.

On a monthly basis, I will share these “Open Spaces” and the story that comes with it.

Venue: Wolly Mammoth Theater

Event: Pike St. by Nilaja Sun

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It was a must that I attend Nilaja Sun’s performance. After viewing snippets of her performance, No Child… via Youtube years ago, I made a mental note much like those, X amount of things one must do before they die. This event was extra special because not only was I able to cross off seeing a Nilaja Sun performance before I die, I would also be able to give back to a great organization, OneDC.

OneDC is an organization based in Washington, DC that provides resources and assistance to D.C.’s most vulnerable residents. To support OneDC’s 10th Anniversary fundraiser, Wolly Mammoth partnered for a special showing of Pike St.

Continue reading

Change Agent: Gavin De Becker

Be Inspired. Be Empowered. Be Transformed.

Chapter 15 (Page 336)

AN EXCERPT

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Real fear is a signal intended to be very brief, a mere servant of intuition. But though few would argue that extended, unanswered fear is destructive, millions choose to stay there. They may have forgotten or never learned that fear is not an emotion like sadness or happiness, either of which might last a long while. It is not a state, like anxiety. True fear is a survival signal that sounds only in the presence of danger, yet unwarranted fear has assumed a power over us that it holds over no other creature on earth. In The Denial of Death, Ernest Becker explains that “animals, in order to survive, have had to be protected by fear responses.” Some Darwinians believe that the early humans who were most afraid were most likely to survive. The result, says Becker, “is the emergence of man as we know him: a hyperanxious animal who constantly invents reasons for anxiety even when there are none.” It need not be the way.

I learned this again on a recent visit to Fiji, where there is less fear in the entire republic than there is at some intersections in Los Angeles. One morning, on a peaceful, hospitable island called Vanus Levu, I took a few-mile walk down the main road. It was lined on both sides with low ferns. Occasionally, over the sound of the quiet ocean to my left, I’d hear an approaching car of truck. Heading back toward the plantation where I was staying, I closed my eyes for a moment as I walked. Without thinking at first, I just kept them closed because I had an intuitive assurance that walking down the middle of this road with my eyes closed was a safe thing to do. When I analyzed this odd feeling, I found it to be accurate: The island has no dangerous animals and no assaultive crime; I would feel the ferns touch my legs if I angles to either side of the road, and I’d hear an approaching vehicle in plenty of time to simply open my eyes. To my surprise, before the next car came along, I had walked more than a mile with my eyes closed, trusting that my senses and intuition were quietly vigilant.

When it comes to survival signals, our minds have already done their best work by the time we try to figure things out. In effect, we’ve reached the finish line and handily won the race even hearing the starting pistol—if we just listen without debate.

Admittedly, that blind walk was in Fiji, but what about in a big American city? Not long ago, I was in an elevator with an elderly woman who was heading down to an underground parking garage after business hours. Her keys were protruding through her fingers to form a weapon (which also displayed her fear? She was afraid of me when I got into the elevator as she is likely afraid of all men she encounters when she is in that vulnerable situation.

I understand her fear and it saddens me that millions of people feel it so often. The problem, however, is that if one feels fear of all people all the time, there is no signal reserved for the times when it’s really needed. A man who gets into the elevator on another floor (and hence wasn’t following her?, a man who gives her no undue attention, who presses a button for a floor other than the one she has selected, who is dressed appropriately, who is calm, who stands a suitable distance from her, is not likely to hurt her without giving some signal. Fear of him is a waste, so don’t create it.

What’s a life without a few Risks?

A great post worth sharing.

Mind your wings

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If you want it, Go for it, Take a risk

Don’t play it safe always; You’ll die wondering

Hello everyone!!

Decisions…they are tricky. Some are simple, some require you to take risk. Sometimes our fears, wounds hold us back. But, how long? At what cost? Being cautious is great but refusing to take risks, is like travelling to a beautiful city and staying put in the hotel!!

Courage, faith, perseverance are essential when you put yourself out there. Just like we choose our battles wisely, we need to choose to take risks in our life with equal wisdom.

Personally, I lost on a lot, because I was scared, what if I failed… Guess what I will never know. I am not talking about being impulsive; but having enough faith to take a tough path, as on the other side is my Paradise!! Besides, maybe you don’t want it enough that’s why…

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How flying a kite can teach persistence.

I wrote this for a girl I will not name. She lives inside of me, she lives outside of me, she cries when no one is around. She listens to those voices in her head that tells her life isn’t worth living. I wrote this to give her more hope to hang onto to drown out those voices in her head that lie to her, just like they lied to me and every other women, man or child that’s ever had more pain than they thought they could bear. Let go Love—seek out the city where you can fly free. ~Cavern Girl dedication, by Tiffany Q.

When I was younger it was in the spring that my daydreams of flying kites became real. With all my pennies in tote, I would head to 7-eleven to purchase a few kites. At the football field, I would lay them all out. I had to be extra careful with the flimsy plastic diamond-like shape kites, sticks and colorful tails.

Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country. ~ Anais Nin

At the park, I would hold the kite high and wait for the wind. If I felt the slightest tug, I would begin to run hoping it would set sail into the sky. Even if the kite came crashing down to the ground, I continued. I was hopeful as the kite dragged behind me that it would lift at any time, but it never happened. I would stuff the damaged kite back in its wrapping and open the next kite. I would repeat this same process; hold it to catch the first wind, release it, crash! Next, I decided instead of waiting on the wind, I would fling the kite in the air. Nope, it did not work and the kite would come crashing down. Even on a day when there wasn’t any wind, I still persisted.

Don’t be afraid of opposition. Remember, a kite rises against; not with; the wind. ~Hamilton Wright Mabie

Things became hopeless when all the kites ended up damaged, but I persisted and hunted for the perfect sticks to bring my kites back to life. This gave me hope. It took me hours to find the right sticks, they had to be the perfect width and length. Then I would fling it in the air again and hope that the wind would carry it into skies.

There were days when it all lined up and the kite took off. I felt accomplished those days. I felt like a part of me soared with that kite. I dreamed of having the kite lifting me into the skies and taking me places that I had never been before. As a young child, I didn’t wish to be rich except to have all the candy money could buy. My dream those days was to be a veterinarian. I wanted to care for all the dogs that I read about in the encyclopedia Britannica.

Imagination is the highest kite one can fly. ~Lauren Bacall

Kite season for me lasted as long as 7-eleven sold kites. Most times before the season was over, I would have ran out of pennies and relinquish to asking my grandfather for money to buy more kites. I was shy, so I choose to write him a letter asking for money. I would use that same house magnet I always used, with blue writing on it to hold my letter in place. I would jump up out of bed in the morning to collect my money from my grandmother with whom he would leave it with.

I remember on one of those mornings when the letter seemed to be untouched. I was disappointed because I knew that he had not seen the letter. I decided to come up with another plan, I put the letter on his dresser. That did not work, and I worried myself so much that I barely slept that night.  The next morning, I woke up in time to ask him. Even though my shyness kept me from asking for a lot of things in my younger years, my desire to have a kite would not. It is because of my desire, I got the money that morning.

True courage is like a kite; a contrary wind raises it higher. ~John Petit-Senn

It was after reading an article today about the nostalgic moments of kite flying that I recalled my own childhood memories of soaring high. How this moment and moments like these added to my growth and instilled within me the wherewithal to never give up. I tell myself daily that I must go for what I want no matter my circumstances. I must stand up for what I believe in. I must find the strength that resides within me and use it to push through my fears. I must fight. I must remain open.

I must make company with persistence. There are so many angles that opportunities to succeed present themselves in all situations and with a burning desire, the universe will get as creative as I will allow it.

-W38

**P.S. – Your support would mean the world.

Things Do Fall Apart
by Tiffany Hair
Link: https://amzn.com/B01LX8G271

March 2017 – Open Spaces: To Be Ready. To Share. To Sacrifice.

Open Spaces has been my theme lately; to use different spaces ( invisible to some and visible to others) to bring comfort and affirmation to individuals that are on the path of awakening and those individuals who are grieving a loss.

With this theme in mind, I have been finding myself in different spaces with individuals that continue to confirm within me that I must be there, wherever there is. To be ready when I am pulled. To share when its necessary. To sacrifice my story in service to others.

On a monthly basis, I will share these “Open Spaces” and the story that comes with it.

Venue: Private Venue in Maryland

Event: A Partnership for Change Dinner & Roundtable

Do you think we are on the cusp of a revolution?

What are you willing to sacrifice in the name of freedom?

What does it mean to be socially conscious?

Does our ancestors’ struggles have any effect on our culture?

These are the questions that swirl around in my head daily about the state of my life, how that looks to me and where I am or need to be for the world I live in. It is a constant mirroring, that in and out flow, like the beach when the waves push over the sand and draw back into the vast ocean. I take in wisdom and push out with purpose. I am doing the work, was my meditation leading up this moment, I am doing the work.

I wanted to know, so I asked that day at the table, “Is there a relationship between regular church attendance and social issues?”

I asked, “What is black power?”

I continued, “How far do you think the new administration will go with their policies?”

I had note cards on the dinner table for inspiration…

Stay woke. ~Ida B. Wells

I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear. ~Rosa Parks

The function of freedom is to free someone else. ~Toni Morrison

I incorporated this blog into those 3 hours that seemed to stretch out before me; To Inspire. To Empower. To Transform.

As a community of people, I envisioned 38 days beforehand, they were all there and accounted for. They would feed and be fed, knowledge, power, love, forgiveness and understanding from wherever they stood in life. Every generation was represented X, Y, and Z – all backgrounds, genders, and religions. I even had books on the table by Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, James Baldwin, Sonya Sanchez, Gayle Jones, James P. Jones, Ta N’eisha Coates and more, for the sake of having some of the most profound authors there in spirit and in truth.

We shared our stories that gave way to our beliefs and we took a stand when questions arose at the dinner table. We respected each other when it was time for our neighbor to speak their truth. We smiled in acknowledgment or picked up our glasses to block our frowns and it was all in the name of working towards a better community.  What would community be without the perspective of our neighbors?

Like a great book coming alive, I felt the passion of the guests, the willingness to forgive, and the need to take a stand. In that moment, I felt like I was sitting around the table with family as well-behaved children dodged in and out of the kitchen refilling cups and taking away plates. I wish that it lasted an eternity.

In the end, it didn’t matter how much money they had or who had the latest car or clothes – it only mattered that they showed up and such is what the world requests of us every single day, to show up and be accounted for.

My Affirmation in this Space: I am doing.

You’re Exceptionally Creative IF…

Can you figure this image out?

For this drawing, there is not a wrong or right guess, (even though most people guess duck first) it is rather a question of the ability to quickly switch from one perception to the other.

All of these features count when determining if you are a highly or average creative person. According to the research Richard Wiseman did with a group of fellow psychologists at the University of Edinburgh, creative people actually perceive the world differently, as they are more able to see things from many different angles.

Using the duck-rabbit drawing, the participants had to answer questions not much different from the ones above. Additionally, they were asked to list as many unusual usages for given every-day objects in a short amount of time. The results were clear: people who could effortlessly switch from one perception to another, also did much better in assigning new purpose to known objects.

It is a much known trait of creative people to easily think of alternative ways and to find connection between two apparently unrelated concepts. Their brains are just that much faster when working on interpreting different aspects of a concept. Therefore, the results prove that there is a difference to how highly creative people perceive the world as opposed to average creative ones.

Read this article in its entirety:
http://www.lifehack.org/462812/youre-exceptionally-creative-if-you-see-the-correct-image-only-1100-people-can-do-this?ref=sidebar

A Partnership for Change Dinner and Panel

A Partnership for Change Dinner and Panel Discussion on March 18, 2017 @ 6:30pm

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Dialogue is important, it allows us to see the perspective of our neighbors and thus makes our communities whole. When we make a direct intention to show up and consider conversations on topics such as race relations, community, healing, revolution, and politics—people are educated, enlightened, and activated. With this event it is our intention to spar people into action or to even take ownership of their role in their communities.

In this space, we will dare to share dialogue that may make us uncomfortable with the truth on both a personal and collective level, which could extend from our homes out into their communities. We all have role to accelerate change and to dig deeper, in an effort to expand ourselves which in turn, pushes change out into the spaces we move in and out of.

On March 18, 2017, we will engage each other in meaningful conversation. We will push aside our differences, find common ground, build meaning and purpose, we will set out to disturb the peace that is found inaction.

Where: Suitland, MD (Private venue)

Time: 6:30pm – 9pm

Cost: $20 (Due by 3/11/17)

Contact: tlundy34@gmail.com

*Seating is limited

Sankofa| Looking back

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“My sun sets to rise again.” – Robert Browning

With years removed from what I considered my awakening, I have to admit, I still find myself wondering what happened to me. All-in-all, I believe it was for the good and that it was divine but there is a piece of me that wonders if some of the opinions I received were true.

One person I confided in during that time thought that I was depressed. So I sat with that at the time. I understood what depression was but not for me. I was sad and things could have been better at the time but depressed? Maybe. I was having trouble sleeping. I had a lot of responsibilities at the time. Then there were times when just like that, I would have epiphanies, parable-like dreams and foretelling’s. Does depression look like that? I wondered.

One person thought that I was in spiritual warfare. I thought about this because I couldn’t dismiss this entirely either, after all, I was constantly reading the bible. A big part of awakening had everything to do with questions surrounding my beliefs in God. I became consumed with the teachings of the bible because I was desperate for answers. I look back now and question if my constant studying of the bible caused my night terrors, because they resembled the stories I read before bed.

Today I come across articles often where people are trying to figure out if they have had a psychotic break or a spiritual awakening. And like them, I wonder if something else was going on. I am even afraid at times for people who seek this experience, although I am aware that not everyone has had an unpleasurable experience. The closest experience I have read to what I experienced was the ayahuasca experience. If you know anything about ayahuasca, you know that it’s frightening. Now imagine having that experience without having to consume anything. This is why I am fearful when I read about people who seek out shamans for this experience. I would rather offer a more natural way that I believe leads to awakening.

I believe that examining your beliefs and going within yourself in search of the answers to life’s hardest questions can catapult you into a spiritual awakening. Only your higher source and your higher self can give you the answers you seek.

We only see what we want to see.; we only hear what we want to hear. Our belief system is like a mirror that only shows us what we believe. – Don Miguel Ruiz

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I offer you two important pieces of advice regarding a spiritual awakening. One, believe in something greater than yourself and lastly, trust that this greater source is forever working on your behalf.

What I needed most during this period was the unwavering belief that God was there the whole time. My spiritual awakening further imprinted on my heart and mind that no matter what this life offers me, I can overcome. I wish it didn’t have to take a spiritual awakening, but it did.