Wrapping up 2016

2016. What a year.

The Worst Year Ever, Until Next Year is an interesting read from The New Yorker:

There is no limit to the amount of misfortune a person can take in via the Internet, and there’s no easy way to properly calibrate it—no guidebook for how to expand your heart to accommodate these simultaneous scales of human experience; no way to train your heart to separate the banal from the profound. Our ability to change things is not increasing at the same rate as our ability to know about them.
— Jia Tolentino, The New Yorker

Despite the heartache and tragic events that happened in 2016, it was a great year for music. It provided me solace during moments of transitions this year and as always, gives me hope for the future. Thank you to all the artists, producers, engineers and writers working on their craft day in and day out.

16 of ’16

I selected 16 of my favorite songs of 2016. It’s a bummer Frank Ocean’s Blonde isn’t on SoundCloud, otherwise “Nights” would have been in there too. Anyway, peep the playlist.

Stillness in Wonderland

I've also been listening to Little Simz’s Stillness In Wonderland on repeat. In addition to the album, she has released a short film, a comic book series written by Eddie Smith and illustrated by McKay Felt and will be running her own mini music festival in February in London. I’ve had the honor to work with this hard-working, intelligent and talented artist. To see her grow over the years as an independent artist with an equally hard-working, passionate team is inspiring to say the least. Stillness in Wonderland is a testament to that growth and the journey of progressing forward. In every song, there are words that resonate with me immediately. It's an empowering album that's been comforting me and guiding me through my own journey. Cheers to artists who speak their truth. This Fader review "Little Simz's Stillness in Wonderland is the Year's Last Great Album" is a great read too.

Women’s Circle Panel

Ascension of the Female Artist: Mental, Physical, Spiritual + Emotional Health of the Woman

I attended a wonderful event on Sunday afternoon called Women’s Circle panel, organized by writer Denita Soleil that featured a panel of amazing women across various creative fields:

Tiffany Gouché, producer and singer-songwriter; Dana Washington, a photographer, director and writer; Kilo Kish, a designer, conceptual artist and vocalist; and Natasha James, a vegan pastry chef and owner of Rawcells, a vegan treats business.

Words from Denita in the program:

The Women’s Circle was originally created to empower women through a foundation of sisterhood, encouragement, positivity and love. The goal is to always welcome my sisters into a safe space where we can be ourselves, express how we feel, share our work and encourage each other on a path to become the best version of ourselves. We live in a time where we need each other more than ever and this is why we have all gravitated to each other today. It is our time to speak up, it is vital for our voices to be heard. I spent so much time suppressing my voice because I didn’t know there were people out there willing to listen, it’s something I still do to this day, but I want you all to know that I am here for you. I hear you, I see you, and your voice matters to me. I thank you for taking time out of your schedule to be present with me and I hope it was worth your while.
— Denita

It was awesome to share space with women of all walks of life and come together to build and share words and feelings openly, to promote the importance of community and self-care. It was also an energizing event that promoted reflection and positivity as the new year is on the horizon.

Here are some other takeaways:

  • "There’s space for what you want to do." This was some of Tiffany Gouché's encouraging words in response to a question about accepting herself as queer that catalyzed her to write music for women and promote love through her music. It's a great reminder for those who are starting anew or consistently working at their craft, that there is space for you in any field or arena, wholeheartedly as you are. Even when you feel unsure of where you're going and your current path feels confusing or frustrating, don't give up and let fear of belonging get in the way. Create space, own your space and promote your space.
  • Never compromise your integrity. Striving for success is great, but don't cut corners to get there. Be honest, do the right thing and stand by what's right and against what's wrong. Stay aligned with your moral compass. 
  • Boundaries are important. Opening up yourself to people is great to build connections, but there are some things you should keep and protect for yourself. Little Simz sings in "Doorways + Trust Issues," "Everybody’s got some sort of faith inside them, gotta find where it lives.” This line stood out to me. I understood it two-fold: it’s about finding your light and faith that keeps you going and moving forward. It’s also the place inside your heart that you must keep sacred and golden so as never to compromise yourself. Maya Angelou has shared the same nugget of wisdom too as the best advice she's ever given: "There's a place in you that you must keep inviolate, pristine so no one has the right to treat you badly..."
  • Calm the voices in your head when you find yourself overthinking and letting fear and doubt cloud you.  You are not your mind. The mind is so powerful that it can distort reality and narrate your experience in a way that you think you should be living. When you find yourself overwhelmed, step back, pause, take a deep breath and proceed.

With all this said, I hope your 2016 is wrapping up well. Thank you for supporting me and subscribing to these letters. As always, feel free to hit the reply button to say hello and share how you've been.  

Have a joyous holiday. I hope it's filled with lots of love, gratitude and rest. 

Much love,