Wednesday Inspiration: Andrea Pippins

Heyo, gang!

I hope your week has been full of good times and great food. Today I wanted to share some artwork from one of my favorite illustrators out there, Andrea Pippins! If you’re not familiar with her work, you should be.

Image by Andrea Pippins via andreapippins.com

I first heard of this wonderful artist in 2008 when I was desperately trying to learn everything I could about my natural hair. After cutting off my 3-year-old locs, which I had gotten immediately after transitioning out of a relaxer, I was flailing like a fish on a dock. No one around me knew what to do. Thankfully, I had access to the natural hair movement online. Sites like Curly Nikki and Black Girl With Long Hair gave me the details I needed to make it, but when I stumbled upon Andrea’s site, Fly Girl Blog, my whole world changed. Andrea not only featured naturals from creative fields, but also shared design and illustration inspiration that kept me hooked.

Image by Andrea Pippins via andreapippins.com

Bright colors are my kryptonite once the weather surges out of arctic temperatures, which is where my best friend (in my mind) Andrea Pippins comes into play! Her work not only captures the summer for me, but it also just makes me feel good about living. Andrea has created coloring books about natural hair, personal development and now has a collaborative effort out with Jamia Wilson , the children’s book Young, Gifted and Black.

Image via andreapippins.com
Image via

I have absolutely loved watching Andrea’s professional development as a fan. I hope her artwork brightens your day as much as it does mine! Head over to andreapippins.com to see more of her work!

 

Three Star Wars Characters You Should Know

Every Friday I will feature the books, movies, TV shows, and other works of art that have been inspiring me.  Please share your suggestions below!

Happy Star Wars Day! I hope you’re outside playing with a lightsaber, pretending the whole midichlorian debacle never happened, which is exactly what I’ve been doing! To say Star Wars are a big part of my life would be the understatement of the century; my parents are two geeks with a deep love of that magical galaxy, so my youth was surrounded by images of Luke, Leia, Han and Yoda, with rarely a weekend devoid of a marathon. It was heaven for a little nerd like me! I’m so thankful the world is back on board with how cool the universe George Lucas created is.

As we gear up for the premiere of Solo: A Star Wars Story, I wanted to share three of my favorite Star Wars characters, outside of our original band of rebels (or bounty hunters if you’re a Boba Fett kind of girl).  They’ve become some of my most beloved side characters due to their moxie and strength.  If you’re not a huge Star Wars fans, don’t worry! I think the characters I’ve elected to share with you are great for learning more about the world. Let’s dive in!

 

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Sana Solo

Good old Han was a dirty dog long before he literally shot his way into our hearts. This cat not only stole and killed, but he also perpetrated a tiny bit of marriage fraud for a scheme. That’s where Sana comes in! Born on Nar Shaddaa, the smuggler worked her way up through the ranks in the criminal underworld until she ran into Han. They became partners, using a fake marriage to commit a robbery. However, Han betrayed Sana and ran off with her cut of the take! Now, I love Han, but he deserved the grief Sana would eventually put him through when she found him with Princess Leia. By that time, Leia had a huge bounty on her head, which Sana planned to make good on. Instead, she allowed them both to live. Sana isn’t a major character by any means, yet in her quick arch I saw someone I truly rooted for. Not only because she was done dirty by a man that couldn’t stay honest if you paid him, but because she was a survivor with a conscience. Add on the fact that she was one of few POC characters, smart, and funny and you’ve got a hero tailor-made for a girl like me. I truly hope they bring her back to cause some chaos in Han’s life on screen.

Quinlan Vos
Image via https://www.starwars.com/databank/quinlan-vos

Quinlan Vos

This guy is a complex, yet lovable character. Quinlan Vos became a Jedi Master and expert tracker, who could see the memories of others in objects they had once possessed. Cool, right? Quinlan Vos partnered with Obi-wan Kenobi on missions, becoming an invaluable asset to the Jedi Order. Eventually, Quinlan would be forced to go undercover with the Sith to determine the identity of their Sith Lord to stop the spread of evil in the universe. He fell in love, eventually coming to question the Jedi Laws and the grey area between light and dark. Quinlan Vos is a character that forces fans to revisit their own preconceptions about the Jedi, the Empire and what it takes to be a hero after you’ve crossed your own moral lines. If you want to know more about Quinlan’s story I highly recommend the book “Dark Disciple” by Christie Golden! 

 

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Image via http://star-wars-canon-extended.wikia.com/wiki/Shaak_Ti by Konami

Shaak Ti

I dare you to find a character more visually striking than Jedi Master Shaak Ti. She is regal to the extreme, yet deadly to anyone silly enough to challenge her. Contrary to what we saw in the films. here are a lot of female Jedi in the expanded Star Wars Universe. Shaak Ti represents that notion that female Jedi do in fact get to seize power among the ranks of your Yodas and your Kenobis. Shaak Ti was masterfully diplomatic – she ranked among the brightest leaders of the Jedi Council, opting to use her mind more often than her weapon. She was a force to be reckoned with in the struggle against light and dark.

 

I hope you enjoyed learning about these characters! Jump into the comments to tell me about your favorite characters or favorite things about Star Wars!

A Word With Derek Dixon

Every week I will feature the kind of everyday heroes I look up to. They come from all walks of life, age groups and beliefs. I hope you’ll learn as much from them as I have!

 

Not everyone is fortunate enough to have someone in their life who will tell them the truth. Not the mean truth or the nice truth, but the true-truth. The kind of honesty that’s delivered when you need to heal or laugh or come back down to Earth. Derek Dixon has been my truth-sayer and best friend for almost 20 years. Can you imagine putting up with anyone through adolescence, hormones, college and your 20’s without slapping them? Somehow we did just that! We met in middle school and have remained thick as thieves through the years due to Derek’s uncanny ability to fight for that brighter dawn. Plainly speaking, you just feel better when you’re in his company whether over the phone, or sharing a drink. I think you’re going to love what he was kind enough to share with us this week. Read below to find out why I admire this guy so much!

 

What is your profession? Is it what you wanted to do?

I am the Residential Director for a home-based care organization that provides services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Although this initially was not what I wanted to do, I have always felt a call to help others. I went to school for psychology and music with the hopes of becoming a musical therapist. I initially got into the field to show that I’ve had experience on a resume, but then fell in love.

If not, what would you like to do instead? Why?

I went to school for psychology and music with the hopes of becoming a musical therapist. I got into the HBCS field for experience, but then I fell in love with this very special population. I have so many dreams, but so little time – the crux of everyone. Ultimately, if I were to help one person live a bold life, full of confidence and self-love, then I would die a happy man.

 

What are some ways you take care of yourself?

I love to be outside. The warmth of the sun, a nice breeze, fishing pole, and cold beer can be so therapeutic. I also love quiet time to myself, doing things like reading, writing and meditation. They’re activities that help center me.

Can you share a time or event you didn’t think you could survive?

The death of my father when I was in third grade was hands-down the most traumatic event in my life. The lives of my entire family changed after that. There were lots of dark nights, angry days, misplaced blame and confusion after that. It was rough.

What/ Who pulled you through it? What did you learn?

My mother’s strength and drive definitely pulled me through. I almost lost her that same day. Watching the process of her rehabilitation and seeing her bounce back after so many counted her out was awe-inspiring, and it was the first time I realized I wanted to help others. Watching my mother fight so hard to get back to her children was the first time I witnessed the transformative power of love.

 

How did the event/time shape the way you live now?

That experience made me aware of my own mortality. I try to live life fully. When it comes to friendship and the people I surround myself with, I prefer quality over quantity. I love strongly, laugh loudly. I live life on my own terms, and although that itself can be a struggle, I love myself. I embrace all aspects of the person I have become. Now, no matter what struggle I am presented with, I know that I can handle it.

What was the best/ funniest/ most memorable piece of advice you’ve received?

I was blessed to be surrounded by so many strong women growing up. My grandmother was one of those people that didn’t know a stranger. She was everyone’s “Momma”, “Auntie” or “Granny” regardless of blood relation or not. She gave so freely. Witnessing the way she lived her life was not only beautiful, but a perfect example of how to treat people. She is who I learned my colorful language and take-no-shit attitude from. Lots of gems were learned from that beautiful soul.

When do you feel most free?

When in nature and when on stage. Theater and music used to be such a joy for me, but something I haven’t done in a while. I should change that.

 

What do you want to be remembered for?

For living my life to the fullest and inspiring boldness.

 

Thanks for reading kids! I hope Derek’s words will carry through the rest of the week with a smile and some fire!

In Honor of the Persistence Of Michelle McNamara

Content Warning: This post will address the Golden State Killer Case, rape, murder and violence. Please take care of yourself after reading.

Photo By Robin Van Swank for LA Weekly

I was glued to my phone yesterday. Every time I tried to put it down to stay on target with my blogging goals, my body was yanked back. It was all due to the news that the Golden State Killer had been apprehended. It was a moniker unfamiliar to me, unlike BTK or the Night Stalker, however I will never forget what I learned about this particular monster. From 1979 to 1986, a man terrorized the lives of Californians, raking up over 40 rapes, 120 burglaries, and 12 murders. He walked free until Tuesday evening. Now, as a relative of two victims aptly remarked, his reign of terror has come to an end.

I started this blog as a sanctuary from the storm for not only myself, but for anyone who might stumble upon it. The posts are lighthearted in nature and informative when possible. I’m prone to melancholia, so I really push myself to find the beauty in life and share it as often as I can. This topic is difficult, to say the least, but sometimes we can learn good things in the face of the worst of humanity. Today, I want to tell you what I learned from Michelle McNamara.

Michelle McNamara didn’t arrest Joseph James DeAngelo. She didn’t deliver his name to the authorities, or turn over his DNA, but what she did do was persist where others might not. For years, McNamara amassed thousands of files on the various cases spanning multiple counties in California in hopes she could reveal a missing piece, a new angle, anything she could to bring justice to the doorstep of a monster. Her tireless investigative work reignited interest in the case on a national level with her posthumous book “I’ll Be Gone In The Dark”. The victims and survivors would never forget, but now we had no reason to either. Michelle McNamara died in 2016, never knowing the name of the specter she chased.

Since yesterday I have been imagining what it must have been like for a person like Michelle McNamara; feeling so close yet so far from a resolution. Reviewing everything ten thousand times just to be sure you gleaned the right information. Wondering if you can make a difference at all with so much time and space separating you from the target. I know what it feels like to be a survivor, so, from that perspective, I honor and appreciate her. It means so much to know that the pain of a stranger is enough to motivate another to action; that some people will endure the race when you have lost the will or the resources to fight on is a lesson I’ll not soon abandon.

Whoever or whatever you fight for, know that even if you never know what your actions mean for others, your time is well spent. Michelle McNamara didn’t get to see Joseph James DeAngelo walk into a courthouse in chains, but the survivors of his crimes will. I’ll never know Michelle as a friend, but I’ll never forget her as an ally.

Fight on, dream big, and, above all else, stay strong.

Uppity Women Unite!

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Every Friday I will feature the books, movies, TV shows, and other works of art that have been inspiring me, or that I’m looking forward to experiencing. Please share your suggestions below!

Good morning, my fellow badasses! I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling particularly bedraggled. This last week left me feeling stretched thin and dusty, so I decided to return to a book that really pumped me up when I first read it.

Uppity Women Speak Their Minds by Vicki Leon is a collection of quotes from unstoppable women of various time periods and cultures. The short read is from her Uppity Women series, and it touches upon the struggles they faced to survive and thrive regardless of their lot in life. What I loved about the book then, and as I rediscover it now, is how easily I could apply their desires to my own life. If nothing else, don’t we all simply want to live life on our own terms? Through highs or lows, prosperity or struggle – the human desire to fight on never ceases to amaze me.

 

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While some of the featured ladies might have a bad rap today (Marie Antoinette), we can still learn a little from their stories. Being uppity doesn’t mean you have to be a snob – on the contrary, I think it means knowing your worth, holding onto it, and demanding you be treated with the respect we all deserve. You also uplift others, because you know their shine can never dim yours. I’m not suggesting you transform into some kind of tyrant, but I do encourage you to hold your head high in the face of those who would rather you shrink.

I hope you’ll give the book a read! It’s short enough to finish over the weekend, but just weighty enough to stay with you for quite some time. Let me know in the comments what you’re reading this week! Enjoy your weekend!

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