Come on creative folks… Let’s talk creative business, self worth, and life…
Hey Sacred Bombshell,
Last fall, I sat down with “The Artists Forum,” a local New York City show to talk bombshells, business, and self-love. We spoke about the spiritpreneur life, and “The Sacred Bombshell Handbook of Self-Love.” Here’s a transcript of this important spiritpreneur conversation for artists, writers, and creative business people.
Here’s the video and audio. Find the transcript right after the jump.
Alexis Howard: Good evening and welcome to The Artist Forum. I’m Alexis Howard, guest host here today. I’m delighted to bring Abiola Abrams, an author as well as an empowerment coach and we’re delighted to have her here with us this evening. Welcome.
Abiola: Thank you Alexis. I’m so excited about this conversation.
Alexis: So tell us a little bit about your new book. We’ve also learned that you recently been honored by the African American Literary Awards for Best Self-help. So share a little bit. Share about your book, some of how you evolved into writing this book.
Abiola: Well, Alexis, as you alluded to, I’m excited to announce. This is actually the first place where I’m getting to talk about it. I’m humbled and honored to announce that my book is the winner of Best Self Help Book for 2014 from the African American Literary Awards and I was in incredible sacred company.
The other three authors, luminaries, who The Sacred Bombshell Handbook of Self-Love was competing against; I’d say competing quotes because we’re not really competing against anyone except ourselves. It’s a principle I teach but the other three authors in the category were Iyanla Vanzant, Russell Simmons and Bishop T.D. Jakes. And they gave it to the new girl.
Alexis: Wow. So congratulations.
Abiola: Thank you. Thank you so much. I am in good company. So as you asked, The Sacred Bombshell Handbook of Self-Love is a personal development guide for women that I’ve reclaimed the word ‘bombshell’. The word sacred bombshell means the woman who loves, honors, and cherishes herself mind, body, and spirit. And it’s a self-help guide for people who hate self-help. A lot of us our self-help out.
It really teaches the feminine principles that a lot of us are lacking in our lives. In order for us to better love ourselves as women.
The reason I wrote this book is that, you know, many of us grew up, we all grew up with everyone saying just love yourself, love yourself, love yourself. But no one knows – a lot of us don’t know what that means or how to do it. It’s such as esoteric thing. So, I really want to write a handbook or textbook around what it means to love yourself and how to do it.
Alexis: So it sounds like there’s some skill development, how to do it, how to go about loving yourself. And I love the way you’re connecting the body, the mind, and also just reading a short excerpt, it seems as though you’re also connecting the spirit.
Can you talk a little bit about that connection as well as share some of the principles?
Abiola: Yes, The Sacred Bombshell Handbook of Self-Love is a spiritual self worth guide. It was really important for me to do this book. I’m an author, an Essence advice columnist, and I’m also an empowerment coach. But I really describe what I do as being a midwife for visionary women to help to launch their big dreams.
Abiola: Yes, the reason why I described my work in that way is that my great grandmother was a midwife in Guyana and a women’s fertility healer. She helped women to give birth to their babies and I feel like I’m continuing that work except for the babies are those dreams that they have, the dreams that we hold on to, and hold so dear.
Alexis: So some of the ideas for the book, were they formed from people in your close circle? Just from your own life experiences? How did the principles sort of evolved into this book and skill development guide? If you could talk to that.
Abiola: Working with my one on one and group coaching clients and I also travel around the country giving empowerment talks to women. I feel like I have the honor of women bestowing their deepest stories and their deepest fears with me. You know, like I get to hear people at their worst and the things that we go through with the big shifts and big changes in life. That it was a big source of what was going on when I developed the principles in the book.
The other thing is that, yes absolutely I draw from my own life because I’m my reader. I don’t believe in people who coach or counsel or whatever they do, therapist from on high that we’re all in it together. All of us are human beings. Spiritual beings having this humanly experience trying to figure it out while we are here in Mother Earth for this short period of time.
I had several very traumatic experiences as an adult. I married the person of my dreams and it didn’t work out, for example. Just things like that, I felt like, I wished that there was a book that just addressed what a crisis of self-love looks like and the different ways it manifests. Those were some of the places that I drew from to create the book.
Alexis: Since many of the viewing audience, members, emerging artists, artists at different stages in their own development, what would you say taking just pieces of the book around supporting artists who sometimes maybe down, who need the sense of self love. What would be some advice you would take directly from the book?
Abiola: This is so important to me that as a matter of fact I’m giving a seminar for people who are artists, creatives, and who run heart centered businesses. I actually have my MFA, Masters in Fine Arts from Vermont College of Fine arts. And my Bachelor’s Degree is from Sarah Lawrence, a very strong artist driven community and school.
Abiola: And both of my parents are writers. My sister is a professional, visual artist. And so, I understand the care and feeding of artists. We are hypersensitive individuals. I consider myself as an artist as well and an art.
Alexis: Yes, you create possibilities for people.
Abiola: Yes, yes, exactly, exactly. As creative people, because what we do is so personal to us, it’s very hard when you say ‘don’t take things personally because the rejection feels so very personal.
When I was in college, I acted a bit, did commercials and stuff like that. I danced for I think 7 or 8 years when I was a teenager. I was a creative film maker, art film maker, and I went to Germany and shot films. I understand being an artist, that I think more than anything, nurture your soul and protect your magic. You can’t spread your dreams under everyone’s feet.
The hardest lesson that I had to learn was that I was speaking to non-visionary people about visionary ideas. And if someone doesn’t believe in themselves, there’s no way they can believe in your big, bold beautiful dream. And so, just be choosy and be careful with whom you spread your big dreams and your big ideas. Look for like-minded people. Thankfully we live in New York City, the Mecca of all kinds of creative artists and creative people.
Find like-minded people. Find people who are doing things as well because I have artists from both sides of the experience. People who are doing nothing and God bless them. And they’re like you know what was me, whatever. And people who are making things happen.
Most of all, I would say don’t believe that old paradigm of the starving broke artist. We need to let that go because that will keep you nowhere but stuck. If you have in your head that to be a successful artist means that you’ve got to be some like broke down tragedy and that’s the place to create from. You don’t have to see tragedy. It comes naturally if you live long enough.
So I say, reach for the sun. Reach for your brightest, most beautiful self and create work from that place.
Alexis: Wow. You’re such an inspiration in giving your own history in the arts. Definitely you understand if from a personal as well as professional level.
When I was reading about you, it was fascinating to learn that some of your own historical background. I know you spoke a little of your family of origin, about midwifes in the family, and now you’re birthing. You know that’s such a very spiritual connotation, right? Can you talk a little about the influence of culture, the influence of family background?
Your present life right now in your book and how it shows up.
Abiola: It’s so important to me Alexis. The idea of culture and roots, that each of us has a very rich lineage.
If you are looking for an inspiration, look no further than your own family. Figure out what that narrative is and if you are wanting to reinvent or recreate or rebirth yourself, do that with the knowledge of the narrative. Do that with the knowledge of the roots that you spring from, whatever that means for you. Embrace the whole of it.
I am the first person in my family born in America. The Guyanese heritage is a very important part of my being because when I was born my parents have only been here for a couple of years. It looked like New York City on the outside but it was Guyana in my house all day every day. My first language I joked was a Guyanese accent.
People told me they could still hear me with an accent when I speak and I’m like I was born here.
The Guyanese culture, my Guyanese culture weighs in a lot in the book when I talked about things like for example the creative power of being able to manifest things in your life. If there’s something you want in your life, being able to manifest your big dream.
Both of my grandfathers on both sides were farmers. And if there’s one thing you know when you’re a farmer, when your hands are on the earth is that life is about seasons. We all have seasons for when things are working and when things might not. You might be plugging away at something and it hasn’t broke in through yet but I just may not be your season. That is okay. Learning how to work with the earth, learn how to work with the seasons in your life and where you are rather than working against it is definitely something that I talk about.
One of the principles, the feminine principles in the book that I talked about is the power of receiving. That we as women a lot of us are givers, which is a beautiful thing, but you can’t give from an empty cup. If you don’t know how to receive then you’re going to have challenges just in life in general.
One of the stories I tell in the book is that my sister in law, my brother he just had a baby. My mom is a grandmother for the first time. My brother and his wife just had a baby this summer. My beautiful niece is the prettiest baby you’ve ever seen in your entire life. I promise you.
But when my sister in law was pregnant earlier this year, I think it was in May, April or May and she was on the subway going to work. She’s a very like the rest of us go get it New York woman, making things happen for herself. I can do it all myself and all that.
Someone offered her a seat on the train. She didn’t accept the seat because she didn’t feel comfortable with it. And I used that in the book to talk about how we don’t feel comfortable receiving. If you don’t feel comfortable receiving your blessings, you can’t allow them in. It sounds basic, right?
Do you feel comfortable receiving? Most people say yes give me whatever but most of us can’t even receive a basic compliment much less abundance or prosperity or the wonderful things that we could have in store for us if we set our minds to it.
Alexis: Yes, I think that’s an excellent point. I mean, as women we are usually nurturers and then understand that you can be depleted, right?
Alexis: I wonder if when folks read the book and they say, “Wow, this is so insightful. I’ve learned so much about myself.” And I think what’s important is you have these guiding principles right throughout the book. “Now, I want to have you coach me because I really feel like I need to set some goals right?”
Can you talk about that creative business for a moment? Because that’s also part of what you do.
Abiola: It is exactly what I do. I actually say I do the same exact things just in different platforms. Whether I’m writing in my column or working with the women one on one or giving a speech on the stage, doing the same exact things.
Usually, the women that I work with are very high powered, extremely successful women who have everything going for them except for what they want at the moment. What I call that state in the book when people feel depleted and they give in everything. It’s like I call having a dry life crisis. I like to make up terms and have my own terminology because I feel sometimes that we need a language to kind of catch up from where we are.
We’ve heard of a midlife crisis and now quarter life crisis, but sometimes women are in crises and there’s no discernable reasons. I call that a dry life crisis.
When I ‘m coaching a woman one on one and also when I’m coaching in groups, I begin with where we are. Let’s take an assessment of where we are. From there then, I work on building tools to where you want to be.
There’s where you are, there’s where you want to be. We all learn in school the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, well not in our lives necessarily. We may wiggle this way and wiggle that way.
Abiola: Yes, exactly.
Alexis: Let’s talk for a moment about some creative business advice you would have for emerging artists or artists we started to allude earlier. We’re sort of in a slum. What some coachings, some tips, some very quick tips that you would be able to give.
Abiola: Sure this is one of my favorite things to talk about as you can tell. Number one, I would say that this is specifically for actors. I’ll break the advice up for different kinds of actors. So for actors, I know that as a creative person you feel like you can play anything. It’s the most limiting thing in the world when someone says “What is your type?”
The casting industry is built on stereotypes and that sort of thing. So what’s really important before you even enter the industry or if you’re already auditioning is to have a clear definition of yourself. Define yourself for who you are. There’s that quote by Audrey Lloyd, “If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s opinions and in their life.” It’s a rough translation of it but that’s really important.
I remember once that this acting teacher said, know which one you are. What that means is that there’s some people who are a Julia Roberts or Sanaa Lathan leading person type, Denzel Washington or Idris Elba. And then there’s some people, that are the funny persons. If we all want to be the leading person, rather than thinking of the funny friend or whatever it is. Don’t think of that as a limit that you can still take that whatever that limit would be and max it out.
Look at a lot of people who are not necessarily leading people but have created their own work around who they are.
That would bring me to tip number two, no matter who you are what kind of creative art you do to be the master or mistress of your own destiny. Don’t leave it up to casting people and curators to decide your destiny. That you can create your own art exhibit. You can get other artists together and curate a gallery show.
I had a show several years ago that I curated that was at the Chashama Gallery in Manhattan.
Alexis: That’s wonderful.
Abiola: Yes, so create your own destiny. Create your own way to go.
The next tip that I would give, and this is in particularly important for visual artists, is how to document your work and to make sure that you have a prominent online presence. That in this world if it hasn’t happened online, there’s not a documentation of it, it didn’t happen.
And so, you may have had like this wonderful experience where all the artists came and I’m with my sister about this all the time. She just come back from residency in South Korea. And I told her that it’s very important that she then document and showcase that work online because the way that people book and look for new artists or people to write about or interview or whatever is Google.
Google is not going to find you based on your pictures in your album at home or your experiences with your family. It’s going to find you by what is written about you online so take amend of your own destiny and tell your own story.
Alexis: Excellent advice. I want to back up for a minute because the title deals with the concept of self-love. It’s interesting how you incorporated self-love with bombshell.
Alexis: What are views maybe of that terminology right? As it relates to women. Can you talk for a moment about that? Also, here you talk about empowerment specifically for women and it’s about women. So, can you just talk about that?
Some of what you spoke about earlier, artists and sort of feeling that sense of love.
Abiola: Well the book features profiles from several different women who I define as sacred bombshells. And so there’s Zora Neale Hurston. There are traditional bombshells like Marilyn Monroe and Halle Berry.
We love those kinds of bombshells but when I’m talking about sacred bombshells like I said I’m talking about a woman who loves, honors, and cherishes herself mind, body, and spirit. So, it’s kind of taking the language that people have become comfortable within one context where the imagery of like the Beyonce’s and Nikki. It’s like a kind of sexualization of women that’s being presented with the body without the mind and the spirit. I wanted to take that and recreate that and own it and put it in a positive context.
Alexis: That’s great so that women lives after reading the book feeling that they can be a bombshell. It’s not about the physical. It’s about as you said the context of all three.
Abiola: Absolutely and even in the book, one of the only places where I mentioned anything physical is that there’s one of the principles in the book is a chapter on Nizhoni which is a Native American term, Navajo term that means beauty. And I’ve used it to mean beauty as a spiritual practice.
And so I talked about in the book using beauty as a spiritual practice rather than a way to judge and define yourself or judge and define other people and limit your view of yourself in the world. Like I wanted us to widen the ways that we look at ourselves and to realize that we really, we have more power than we know.
It’s just really important to write this book because I saw a study that was done that said that with all of the gains that women have gotten in the whole past 40 years, my whole life, all the wonderful things that have happen for women, there’s still more unhappy than ever before in our history which is insane to me. Insane and I feel like it’s for the reason that I’m feeling depleted, for the reason of feeling less than. That there really is a self-love crisis going on. It manifest in different ways.
Some people it looks like teen pregnancy. For some people it looks like being afraid to get up and get that promotion. For some people it looks like being afraid to speak up and say no when you mean no. Wherein some people it means being afraid to say yes when you mean yes.
Abiola: It just shows in different ways in our lives. But there’s a self-love solution for every challenge almost.
Alexis: I’m thinking as you’re talking too it seems like excellent should be required reading for our young sisters out there.
Abiola: Well, thank you for saying that
Alexis: …Who are struggling with identity and some issues you’re talking about really.
Abiola: Yes, I’m actually going to be writing a new edition just aimed in young women because I’ve had a lot of mom contact me and says I read this. So I’m writing a version specifically for young women. Like there’s a book, Rilke’s Letter to a Young Poet? I’m writing letters to young bombshells.
Alexis: It’s great.
Abiola: Different letters to young women around. Everything from body image to how you live your life, the quest for excellence and what that means, how you should feel about yourself and not letting the media define you. Because if they tell you it’s great when we look and the media says Lupita’s beautiful and Beyonce’s beautiful. We say Yay! But what happens when they tell us we aren’t? If you believe them?
So learning how to be self-defining rather than outwardly defining.
Alexis: Yes, so now we have to do some advocacy work to make sure that it’s a required reading.
Not just for the moms who read but really can reach a wide audience because I think it’s definitely necessary and timely.
Abiola: One of the really exciting things that I have coming up is that I’m going to be leading retreats for women where I can then spend the whole weekend really working with them to get to the source of, one retreat is around fear, being able to release fear. One is around body image issues that we have and being able to feel comfortable in your own skin.
Alexis: Excellent for self-esteem development. Also, do you expand your coaching to include males?
Abiola: Well, men are welcome at some of the group events. I generally don’t work with men one on one. I have made a couple of exceptions but I usually work with women.
Alexis: This is wonderful. I mean the viewing audience cannot feel your energy as I can. And I’m just delighted and honored to be part of it right? It’s very positive energy, motivating. You’re such an inspiration to us. Thank you for joining us this evening.
Alexis: So, any final thoughts. We all want to read the book. We all want you to start some book club on this so that we can kind of give you feedback, and our thoughts. It’s great how you’re having another edition for another audience. Any final thoughts for our audience.
Abiola: My final bit of advice would be if you are raising a daughter, we are talking about mothers and daughters, that you loving yourself and nurturing and taking care of yourself is just as important. If not, more important as they grow for them to see where your boundaries are and how you live. Because many of us, if a mother doesn’t love herself, she can’t teach the daughter to love herself. She may want to but she can’t. Because she doesn’t have it. We can’t give what we don’t have. So that would be my final thoughts.
Alexis: Great advice. Again, those of you who are not here cannot feel this energy that Abiola has. It’s so positive and so bubbly. And we’re certainly very delighted that you could join us this evening. We’re all excited both for you. Congratulations to you again on your new honor and self-help book.
And we’re all looking forward to reading it and hearing more exciting news coming from you. Thank you again for joining us this evening.
Abiola: Thank you for having me.
Buy the Book
::::More Information: The Sacred Bombshell Handbook of Self-Love by Abiola Abrams