You Could Light a Match with This Love: Interview with Poet Amanda Furdge

Lookin like the black Audrey Hepburn...


One of my biggest joys as an artist has always been working with and celebrating my fellow creatives.  I've missed interviewing artists I admire and decided to pick it back up today on National Black Love Day. I saw no better way to support my community than by spreading around some adulation. Often we artists are perceived as narsicists and few would ever go through the trouble to promote other artists on their own site. Artists see each other as competition and will do whatever it takes to shove the next one down, steal ideas and self-promote.  At least those are the rumors, I don't know if that's true or not, I only know how I operate. And personally my fellow artists are the ones that help me stay afloat. Seeing my creative peers produce and fall and get back up and produce some more is often times the only thing that keeps me going. In this day and age of social media many things are for show and everything is about fame and external validation but for a genuine artist we have no choice in the matter. Pay attention to us or don't, it's your choice. We will create silently in a closet if we have to otherwise we can not breathe. When you've been creating from within for most of your life you don't do it for the attention on social media or some promise of fame. You do it to keep the metal diseases at bay. 

There seemed no better way to start this series than by shedding  a little light on a woman I worked with in Chicago years ago. We boss ass Chicagoans are walking around with a little extra pep in their step today enjoying the triumph of Chance the Rapper winning at the Grammy's last night and that's exaclty where I met "FurdgeCakes". Amanda and I both love Chicago and consider it home yet were both raised in southern Mississippi, so we are bonded in black girl revolutionary sistahood twice over. She is living my dream life with two beautiful sons and her talent over the past years since becoming a mother seems to only have gotten richer. 

In addition to ten solid years and counting as a nationally and internationally known spoken word poet and author, Amanda Furdge is known for possessing a wide array of talents, as well as being highly respected as a mother, community leader, writer and cultural/social influencer. Born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi, she began her own journey into creativity as a necessity. Featured on numerous websites, blogs, stages, projects and records in many artistic capacities ranging from writing to producing; she aspires to write and record organic material with tremendous depth that will inspire listeners and readers to empower change. Always giving all credit to the Highest God, she believes that the spirits of our ancestors walk with us every day and is determined to share her personal legend with the world.

 

CP: What inspires you the most?

AF: I’m inspired most by my hope. My hope that my contributions to our culture and society will add value and be sustained with and by the loving spaces they are created in. I’m in spired by my beautiful children.

CP: Is your studio in your home or in a different location?

My studio is in my heart so it is wherever I am at any given moment. One day, I hope that I will have a space to create on a beach or in some mountains…


CP: What do you do to keep yourself healthy?

AF: Love. Believe. Focus. Contribute. These are things I do to keep myself healthy.


CP: Was there ever a time when you almost gave up on creating and if so why?

AF: After I had my children, I was overwhelmed. I felt defeated and I could not see how to balance motherhood and my artistry. I almost gave up. Motherhood is hard. Without certain support(s) in place, it’s harder. But that’s not all that it is. It’s incredible. And at some point, incredible things (can) seem impossible and defeating.


CP: What is your creative process?

AF: My creative process is 90% observation. After I observed I just let my thoughts, stories and ideas spill out in whatever ways they choose to.


CP: How has social media affected your creation process?

AF: Social media drives me to be and remain consistent. To share my thoughts, stories and ideas and trust that they will be embraced, respected and valuable.


CP: How has social media affected your sales?

AF: Social media has helped to grow my fan base and house new relationships. If I’m selling inspiration, I think my sales have increased.


CP: Where is the most inspirational place you’ve traveled and how did that trip affect your work?

AF: The most inspirational place I’ve traveled to is my own backyard. The state of Mississippi is incredibly beautiful. There are so many stories to tell and that have been told. So many narratives to explore.

 


CP: What’s the biggest compliment you’ve ever gotten about your work?

AF: Any of them. All of them. They are all equally magnificent to me. However, to hear from my toddlers that they like something I’ve said or done (creatively) brings me the greatest joy.

CP: Do you have a muse and if so how does that person inspire you?

AF: My dear friend Cokebumaye (a fellow artist/creative) inspires me. His drive. His mind. Then there is my goddess sister Dee Anaya. She is incredible on every level that you could imagine. Her story is one of magic. I adore her. She keeps me ready to be my best self.

CP: What is the one thing that most people assume about you that’s not at all accurate?

AF: That I am so “strong”. I’m not so “strong”. I just know when to bend and when to break.





Twitter: @FurdgeCakes

Instagram: @FurdgeCakes

Website: www.amandafurdge.com 

3 Herbs to Balance Your 3rd Eye

Herablism is one of my many passions in life. Nothing is better than understanding the plants in nature and how they can help us physically and spiritually. We can use different herbs to balance our chakras and balancing the third eye can lead to better decision making and heightened imagination.  be done with sage and a few different herbs. 

Burnng sage or "saging" is a very important tool for the chakras. It cleanses the energy around us and provides clarity to the third eye. Jasmine and mint are two herbs that are also great for the third eye. I love jasmine and mint tea but I also have these planted on my veranda. When the breeze blows I can smell both of the plants and it's a nice balancing dose of aromatherapy. 

 

Anegada Christmas Get-Away

The best thing about living in the US Virgin Islands is being able to island hop. Throughout the Caribbean each and every island is truly unique and beautiful. There is always a different culture, food, accents, and histories to enjoy. The Christmas holidays are always a big difficult for me since the 27th of December comemorates the passing of my late husband Andres Contreras. In efforts to keep my spirits high we took off for Anegada, British Virgin Islands for the Christmas holidays. 

Anegada is a small, flat island located in the British Virgin Islands 40 miles north of St Thomas US Virgin Islands and is formed of coral and limestone. It has approximately 300 residents, one school and no dirt. It's impossible to grow any vegetables on the island so sea food such as conch and lobster is a staple of the local diet. Tourism and fishing fuel the economy and you will meet locals born on the island or others that come from neighboring Tortola. There is also an immigrant population from Dominican Republic that moves from the bustling city of Santo Domingo to Anegada to work. 

There are a few nice places to stay on island I highly recommend Anegada Reef Hotel. The staff is friendly and the bar is sure to get crowded at night with sweet Sydney behind the bar. The rooms are spacious and comfy and they've got a nice strong wi-fi signal. If you want a higer end option check out the Anegada Beach Club and their gorgeous suites and tents!  For dinner check out Potter's on the Sea who you can always count on for a fun night with Sam headlining the limbo and lots of delicious local food. You'll need to get your dinner reservations in early though, by 4:00pm otherwise you'll find yourself hungry in the evening. 

We spent a lot of time on the beaches of course and if you like hiking as I mentioned, this island is totally flat so I recommend stretching your legs. If you want a little more exciting way to get around you can always rent a scooter or motorcycle from Kenny's Scooth Tooth right by the ferry dock. My favorite beaches were Loblolly, Cow Wreck and Anegada Beach Club. With sand like sugar you won't be disappointed anywhere you go! 

If you're coming over from the US Virgin Islands you will want to check the ferry details carefully. Ferries run from St Thomas to Tortola, and Tortola to Anegada only two days per week. Be sure to line up your times and accomodations correctly. 

Yoga for the Third Eye

Lately my yoga practice has been much better. I crave it in the morning when I wake up and per my guru I've started giving myself two hours in the morning to completely take care of myself and nuture myself.  So far it's been working out really well, but it's not easy. Going to bed early enough to wake up two hours early is of course key. 

These poses for the third eye are great to do early in the morning to gain clarity. They are also great for opening the back, shoulders and hips. The third eye governs your intuition and keeping it in balance is key to navigating life more fluidly. 

Chakra Meditation: Opening Your Third Eye

Balance of the third eye is very important in helping us to feel confident in our deccision making skills and self aware. Do you feel like you've been very indecisive lately? Focus on some third eye chakra techniques. I like to stare at the color associated with the chakra I want to concentrate on before hand. This helps me to visualize it better when I do my meditation. If I want to concentrate on my root chakra I will stare at something red for a couple of minutes, for sacral I will choose something orange. For the third eye you want to find something indigo to gaze at. 

As you go into your meditation focus on your breathing. Visualize an indigo light right between your eyes. Make sure you are in a comfortable position seated or laying down. Use a mantra if you like such as "My mind is open to new visions" or "I am aligned with the highest truth". Below I have posted a great video for sue during your meditation practice. Give it a try and see if you feel calmer and more clear-headed. 

Ajna: Opening Your Third Eye

The space between the brows is called the Ajna or the third eye chakra. This is probably the chakra that people are most familiar with, even if you don't know anything about chakras you've heard of the third eye. This chakra is represented by the color indigo and governs our ability to "see" in both the inner and outer world. The third eye is where your wisdom and conscious comes from. 

When your third eye is balanced and fucntioning both hempishperes of your brain are functioning properly and you maintain the ability to not only see but also understand things that are happening around you. You intiution is governed here and is important for guiding you through your decision making. A balanced third eye can lead to lucid dreams, visualizations and clairyovance. 

An underactive third eye chakra you may have difficulty learning and retaining information. The spiritual world is a mystery to you and you might have difficulty seeing through very simple deceptions. And overactive third eye chakra can cause migraines or mental illness. You may be judgemental, delusional or have some issues deciphering between what is real and what is a fantasy. 

Physical symptions of an imbalanced third eye chakra can be insomnia, blindness, deafness, seizures, sinus issues, panic attacks or depression. 

LanternFest 2016 Was a Blast!!

I've been super busy with all of our activities in Thailand for Lantern Fest 2016 but it was such a blast! I'm back in the Caribbean now and I only have one week to prepare for our winter guests! I'm very excited to be adding some Thai dishes to my repertoire and training a new trip leader so lots of new things are coming this winter! 

Our next big tip abroad will be to Kenya in May and it's packed with so many fun things to do like hiking, going to the markets, visiting local tribes and plenty of beach time. I can't wait to see what creative things our tripsters will come up with next! 

New necklaces created by DoubleStitch during our retreat 

New necklaces created by DoubleStitch during our retreat 

Oils for Throat Chakra

I went oil shopping recently and it was so very exciting. I'm quite obsessed with smell. I just believe that everything should smell good at all times. Plus there are so many oils that are beneficial for so many things. I use tea tree tree oil to replace deodorant, coconut oil to replace mouthwash and jasmine and olive oil to condition my hair. 

You can also use many oils to open your throat chakra as well, and as I've written this chakra has been challenging as hell for me. Just because you talk a lot doesn't mean that you are expressing your true feelings. so I encourage everyone to take a deep look at this chakra. Cypress, lavender, sage, jasmine, frankincense, peppermint and eucalyptus are all great for oil baths. Choose one to rub on your neck and meditate on opening your throat chakra.  

Crystals and Stones to Balance your Throat Chakra

The throat chakra is associated with the color blue. I always think of a bright blue sky and it reminds me of freedom. The freedom to express myself. Many blue stones are associated with the throat chakra and it's common to wear one on a necklace, close to one's throat to assist in balance. Lapis lazuli is a very powerful stone and is said to bring harmony and enhancing intellect. Lapis was revered by ancient Egypt and a very beautiful cobalt blue with gold veins running through it. 

Aquamarine is a beautiful stone however it is often duplicated so be careful when purchasing. Aquamarine has the healing energy of the ocean and used to be carried by seamen to promote safe travel. Along with balancing the throat chakra it also helps to overcome fear and judgement allowing you to open yourself to your innermost truth. 

Lastly you can't talk about throat chakra stones without mentioning turquoise. This is probably one of the oldest and most universal stones in history. It has been used amongst various cultures for centuries. Turquoise is a stone that aids in self-forgiveness, self-acceptance, depression and mood swings. You can use it to aid in throat chakra balance and it's easy to find around the world. 

All of these stones are truly beautiful and look very nice in jewelry for men or women. If you're not fond of jewelry try placing the stone in a bowl in your house. Be sure to charge them and use them in your throat chakra meditation. 

 

Yoga for Throat Chakra

Lately yoga has been a challenge in my practice. And opening my throat chakra has been one of the most difficult chakras for me personally. I never really would have thought that this would be a challenge for me. Once you start doing the work to connect mind, body and spirit some things might be very surprising to you. You may not know yourself as well as you think you do. 

Since I have been struggling with this chakra today I decided to include a longer yoga sequence for clearing the throat chakra. Follow the video below. I'm sure you will find it very helpful. 

Mantras for Throat Chakra Alignment

The throat chakra is so very important and I suspect many people have blockages in this area. I didn't know until I did the work that I too was suffering. I consider myself a pretty blunt person but upon deeper investigation there were some things I was holding back and some very important conversations that I needed to have.

 I am greatly concerned about throat chakra blockages for women since across the world we often struggle to be heard in our homes, communities and in the workplace. Feeling like you can not freely express yourself can lead to a number of issues like sore throat, cough or thyroid issues. 

One thing I have not touched on yet are mantras. The first mantras were in sanskrit. There are thousands of mantras and they have different purposes based on which religion they are tied to. I personally chant Hindu mantras because that is where my religious beliefs are based. Traditional mantras are based on melody and sound and resonate with a particular chakra. However a mantra can also be a thought or idea repeated to change a belief. 

If you find that you don't say how you feel to your partner, maybe you feel as though they don't take you seriously, eventually this thought will cause a blockage. You will need to change that thought. You can make up your own mantra to say to yourself every time you feel like you need to gather the courage to speak. Repeating "My words are important and deserve to be heard." can help you to gain the confidence you need. 

At first I thought mantras were a little bit silly, but with time I've discovered that they do work and if you want to change how you feel about something you have to change your beliefs. And if you want to change your beliefs you have to work to push out the negative beliefs already there. below are a few mantras I found inspirational. Try one of them with the meditation track below. 

1. "Feelings are only visitors. Let them come and let them go" 

2. "I move beyond my limitations and allow myself to create freely" 

3. "My thoughts are pure. My thoughts are valid. My thoughts are important" 

Instagram: Travel Therapy The Book

For the past few years I've used my Instagram account to document my travels. I enjoy dividing up my posts on my social media. You won't see the same things on my Facebook that you will see on my IG accounts. So be sure to follow me on Instagram. I will be wiping this account as soon as Travel Therapy the book is released! 

Food for Throat Chakra

The key to a healthy throat chakra is not only what you eat but how you eat. In American culture we have some very unhealthy eating habits that stop us from digesting properly and block our throat chakras. Properly chewing your food is very important. You don't want to gulp down and swallow quickly. This is a habit that is hard to kill if you've been spending years rushing your lunches. 

What is a common food that commonly helps your throat feel good? Soup right? Yes soup is a great food for your throat chakra. Sauces, soups and sauces that coat the throat and offer a flavorful lubrication are good for helping to unblock your energy.  You also want to look at seaweed, which is high in iodine and helps the thyroid and metabolism. 

If your throat chakra is over-active you will probably be referred to commonly as an arrogant person. You might try to force your ideas and opinions on others and be a bit self-righteous.  To balance the throat chakra you will also want to look at foods that are high quality and contain a lot of water. Fruits like blackberries and blueberries are also wonderful for the throat chakra. Below is a great video by Sadhguru about how to eat consciously. 

Throat Chakra Blockages

For someone that talks so much I had no idea that I could even have an issue with my throat chakra. To my surprise I had more work to do in this area that I previously had thought. This chakra is located just below the larynx in the throat. When it's open and balanced you find it easy to communicate with others and speak your mind. You don't second guess yourself or keep things inside. When there's a blockage exactly the opposite occurs. 

Represented by the color blue the throat chakra in sanskrit is called Vishuddha and literally means purification. A blockage in your throat chakra usually comes from unexpressed feelings and shows up in the form of a cold or flu, sinus or ear infection. The thyroid is also greatly affected by the throat chakra. This is a common area for blockages and many blockages my stem from early childhood. 

 

Sound Therapy for Heart Chakra

One thing I've yet to touch on yet although I use it regularly is sound therapy. Sound has been used as a healing tool for centuries and sound therapy has been very useful in my own heart chakra balancing lately. My favorite for of meditation and sound therapy is drumming. Drumming actually opened me up to experience my very first meditation. 

Each chakra has a sound that correlates to it and for the heart chakra that sound is 'yam'. You can listen to a repetitive recorded sound or chant it to resonate with you heart chakra. Sound therapy deserves an entire blog series by itself but I wanted to share with you a recording that I use often for my own meditation. When I feel distressed just playing this helps me focus.