There is nothing I enjoy more than a good book and a heaping mug of hot coffee, usually within the confines and silence of my own home or while on my commute to work. However, once the pandemic hit that became nearly impossible. It wasn't long before I started feeling like the robotic maid from the Jetsons-- imagine a version that's on overdrive and on the brink of explosion, daily. Needless to say, for about a year and a half, I didn't have the luxury of indulging in one of my favorite past times. One that soothes and calms me down as I escape reality for a chapter or five. While at home, I barely had time to eat, let alone, sit down to enjoy a book.
This past summer, however, I became intentional about incorporating reading into my less hectic routine since the boys were finally on vacation from school. I no longer had to hound them about logging into their virtual classrooms while silently screaming at them to stay focused and in their damn "seats". Once school ended, I felt slightly more energetic and in better spirits so it was the perfect time to pick up a book again. In the summer of 2020, I had already written so much by attending numerous workshops or by hosting many of my own that I decided to take a break from that to refocus my attention on reading. The golden rule is, that writers must read in order to become better at writing. And so, as someone who intends to write a memoir someday, I started reading books in that category for both "business and pleasure." One of those books was Alicia Keys' More Myself.
I started to realize that the more I read, the more I was being urged to go within and follow my inner voice just like Alicia Keys had been doing her entire life. The memoir was medicine for my soul as she sprinkled her 'Superwoman' and 'Girl on Fire' vibes in this emotionally raw and awe-inspiring work of art. Reading the memoir reminded me that in order to connect with others one must come from a place of authenticity and truth. Something I struggle with more often than not. Alicia Keys' desire and push to remain her most authentic self, while also practicing how to be a kick-ass gentle soul, gave me the strength I needed to continue moving forward with the next chapter of my life. (I'm still trying to figure out what that next step is so I will definitely keep you posted.)
While I was busy reading my summer books, a close friend sent me a post that said, "when you can't write, read." And that's exactly how I started to feed my spirit then. My spirit was also nudging me to rest. Mothering and working from home during the pandemic took everything out of me and so reading became my escape as well as my rest. Even if that meant twenty minutes of reading. I always felt someone renewed by taking that time for myself (My therapist highly recommended I take several "me" breaks throughout the day and this was one way to cross that off of my ever-increasing To-Do list).
Learning about how Alicia Keys knew her husband would be the one had me feeling all sorts of butterflies because I knew exactly what she meant. I, too, followed the universe's signs when it came to knowing who my soul mate was. When her song 'Unthinkable' came out I felt it was the universe giving me permission to do something as wild and crazy as to marry my then-boyfriend, who lived in a different country at the time. After dating and having a long-distance relationship of nine months, that song gave me the courage I needed to just go for it. He and I both knew what we wanted and it was only a matter of time before we would get married anyway. Therefore, reading about how that song came to be made me feel like (1.) I just got inside information on the personal and creative process of the song and (2.) That Alicia Keys also followed her intuition like myself. I felt nothing but joy and goosebumps while reading that chapter. It made me wonder about the people I'd be able to inspire and give hope to once I decided to write about serendipitous encounters and the many ways Source has communicated with me.
As someone who miraculously won tickets to her concert in Times Square back in 2016- this memoir brought me full circle when I read about how that enormous event came to life. Reading about it, after being there, made me feel like I had somehow won backstage passes after the fact. When I see pictures or videos of that day, I get emotional and can't help but think that it was a blessing to have been in the presence of so many great artists like Jay-Z, Nas, John Mayer, and of course, the creative genius herself.
Once I finished reading the book, I was left feeling enchanted, highly motivated, and rejuvenated by Alicia's journey. I realize, now, the importance of writing one's own story-- you just never know the impact your life may have on someone else. On that note, I'd like to thank Alicia Keys (and Michelle Burford) for writing this compelling memoir and for giving me permission to continue on the path of documenting my journey, while also learning how to peel the layers that will afford me the ability to become more myself-- unapologetically.
Below are some of the pictures I took of the book cover and of the concert that I attended with my very own Swizz Beats, my husband, Emmanuel. The evening was brisk but filled with so much adrenaline and fun (a serendipitous event indeed).