For Fine Art Lovers: the Dotted Circles Colorful Paintings are Back for the Holidays

Are you ready for pure bliss and happiness? If so, marvel in this multitude of colors of this dotted circle.

In her TED Talk “Where Joy Hides and How to Find it”, Ingrid Fetell Lee, aka @aestheticsofjoy on Instagram, eloquently articulated how I feel every time I add a colored dot to the paper. Each layer elevates how Joyful I am and that is primarily how I fought the feeling of isolation during the lockdown and still to this day. Thank you, now it makes sense

The circle represents the notions of totality, wholeness, original perfection, the Self, the infinite, eternity, timelessness, all cyclic movement, God (‘God is a circle whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere – Hermes Trismegistus).

6x6in Framed and Signed Dotted Circles, available on Saatchi

Acrylic on Paper, 6 W x 6 H x 0.1 Din – One-of-a-kind Artwork:

Holiday Markets in Coral Springs and Key Biscayne, Florida

If you are located in SoFlo, I will be participating in two upcoming Markets! You will be able to discover and purchase my fine art paintings, notebooks, and prints in person.

Event Details

Details: There will be artmaking stations (contemporary wreath making, ornament decorating, gift wrapping + more!), COMPLIMENTARY bites, FIRST ACCESS to sale items by our amazing artists and makers, and FREE giveaways and prizes.

Saturday’s Public Market on December 11 from 10:30 – 2:30pm will include artmaking stations and light bites at an additional cost, on a first-come, first-serve basis.

ALL ticket proceeds go to support Museum programming. Vendors retain 100% of their sales.

SHOP FRIDAY TICKETS HERE

Friday, Dec 10 | 5:30 – 8pm
$10 in advance | $15 at door
Saturday, Dec 11 | 10:30am – 2:30pm
FREE

Eventbrite link HERE

Organized by the French-American Association of Craft and Trades

Sun, December 12, 2021 – 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM EST

Village Green Park, 450 Crandon Boulevard, Key Biscayne, FL 33149

Eventbrite link HERE

Shopping Spree

Here’s a highlight of what I will bring with me at these events!

AfroPop Notebooks
Signed Prints, also available on Etsy
Framed and Ready to be Displayed Original Mini Dotted Circles

Looking forward to seeing you then!

Holidays’ Edition: Gifts for Your Artsy Friends

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It is an art to make good gifts. You have to not only listen and be really attentive to what people have to say.  To me, it does not have to be expensive (although sometimes it can be): it has to be thoughtful and be about the person you gift it to (not what you think they should get). Every Thursday until the holidays I will be sharing gift ideas for the people you love. Today I will feature gifts for the Artsy People in your life. They either love Art, or they are artists, and oftentimes: they are both! Here are some ideas to consider.

The Gift that Keep on Giving

Photo by Scott Webb on Pexels.com

Museum membership. Gift someone you love a yearly membership to the local museum! If you are in Big cities large cities such as New York, London, or Paris, you may have to choose between a few, but rest assured, most major cities (and even smaller cities) have beautiful art to see over and over again and new artist to be discovered!

Artist Book

There are hundreds of amazing artist books. I will share some that have caught my eyes and interest lately:

Art Piece

Investing in an art piece can be intimidating: however, it does not have to be. Nowadays it is easier than ever to find beautiful art online. Platforms such as Saatchi or Etsy have made this process smooth and effortless. Of course, you could purchase original, but also consider original and signed copies. Some artists I like

Last Words

It is an art to make good gifts, no doubt, all we have to do is to listen carefully and act accordingly.

You can find my original art for sale here

Pondering on “The Power of Writing it Down”

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Last week I posted about great gifts you could get to book lovers, and today I thought I would talk about one of the latest books I have read: The Power of Writing it Down: A Simple Habit to Unlock Your Brain and Reimagine Your Life by Allison Fallon. It is an easy and quick read that encompasses lots of truths and pulls from many pieces of research and book I was familiar with., clearly and succinctly packaged. Reading this book has given me clarity on the benefit of such practice and why it feels so good to do “write it down”. I have had an interesting relationship with writing. I have never consistently kept diaries and instead wrote notes on various notebooks. I have to admit that since I applied myself to writing a journal more regularly I feel better.

Things to Remember

For the first time ever, I used a reading journal, and thought I would share some of the quotes I connected with personally and wrote down:

Our brain has been designed with survival in mind. They have mastered the skills of automating behavior to make it as easy as possible” page 7

This is not to say that writing is a cure-all or that we should all ditch our pharmaceutical drugs in favor of regular writing practice. It is to see that writing – if we are open to it – can have a measurable impact on every area of our lives including our mental and emotional health. Words are that powerful.” page 19

There’s something about capitalizing on charged emotion that makes the writing seem easier.” page 111

Your buried thoughts and beliefs are driving your behavior.” page 139

Writing is not a golden ticket or a magic pill. But facing a blank page, exactly because it is difficult is a tool proven by science to bring us back into alignment with ourselves.” page 162

Lying and keeping secrets has a long term impact on our physical, emotional and mental health … several studies I read presented evidence that secrets take a physical work and make us tired” page 164

Finally, I will share Fallon’s exhaustive list of “What Writing Can Help Us Do”:

  1. Name our experience so we can more fully understand it
  2. Give language to the future we want to create so it stops feeling vague and begins to seem achievable
  3. Build a bridge (neural pathways) between the now we’re experiencing and the future we’d like to create
  4. Heal and engineer our own resilience from past experience
  5. Find perspective for life’s challenges, large and small
  6. Invent brand new solutions for old age problems
  7. Build our confidence
  8. Increase our working memory and overall cognitive power
  9. Cultivate more gratitude and contentment
  10. Provide clarity for our decisions
  11. Increase satisfaction in our romantic partnership
  12. Level up our immune system, helps us sleep better
  13. Combat and curb anxiety, stress and depression
  14. Tune out the well meaning and critical voices around us so we can finally understand what we think”

Using my New Knowledge

I wrote this list down on a board and displayed it at my even at the last event. Many people liked and inquired about it (you’re welcome Allison – and also thanks for putting it down). This book definitely encouraged me to be even more assiduous in my daily gratitude and writing practice, and maybe if you are like me, it will too!

Last Words

Isn’t it amazing how such a simple task like writing can totally change your life? I don’t think enough people consider the benefit of writing things down. Looking back, I realize how it has been central to my betterment: in Highschool then later in college, I used it as a tool to study, in my poetry and my songwriting an attempt to express myself on topics that were close to my heart. Reading about the science behind it gives me an even stronger purpose to keep at it and makes me want to write even more and spread the word. This may as well be one of the most efficient tools to change the world as we currently see it, and I truly hope that I can be an advocate for that.

Here are some of my current gratitude notebooks. For more notebooks, please click here.

Holidays’ Editon: Gifts for Book Lovers

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Photo by Yaroslav Shuraev on Pexels.com

.Every Thursday until the holidays I will be sharing gift ideas for the people you love. Today I will feature gifts for book lovers. I love to read and one of my favorite things to receive are books! This is where I find a lot of my inspiration as well as wisdom. You can check a list of my favorite books here. Now, let us start with gift ideas for book lovers.

1. The Obvious

Gift Books! You can either support an independent book store near you or give a gift card to be used at a local bookstore!

Here are some books that just came out and which in my opinion will be amazing gifts for the holidays:

A kindle: although I am a big fan of physical books, a kindle become super handy when traveling. Instead of a bulky hardcover book (or if you are like me, a bunch of them), book lovers will be able to carry around as many as they want. Definitely, a beautiful gift to consider!

2. Accessories

I have to say, these ones are game-changers for me:

The booklight: If you are anything like me and like to read in your bed at night, sometimes the local luminosity is not up to par. No problems: this light is awesome for that: it has 3 warm color intensities so it does not hurt your eyes. Honestly, one of the best purchases I made this year.

The Book Log: I used to highlight and write book quotes in my notebook. Not anymore: now I can just write them neatly in my reading notebook, so I can easily refer to them at a later date if I wish to.

The Bed Rest Pillow: give whoever invented this a prize! This is so comfortable and useful. I have found mine at Target, but I have been seeing similar ones at other department stores.

Bed Rest Pillow 

3. The Wearable

Reading Girl Unisex Sweatshirt

4. Final Words this Week

Again: Mix and Match! A gift does not have to break the bank (IMO) it just has to be thoughtful.

Take care and Happy Holiday Shopping!!!

Week 1: Gift Ideas for Yogis

Week 2: Gift Ideas for Dancers

What I Have Learned About Anxiety and How I Learn to Deal with It

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Photo by Alex Green on Pexels.com

/aNGˈzīədē/

I am a long-time sufferer of anxiety.

A few years ago, I was house/cat sitting at my friends’ house and while browsing their bookshelves, I found a short self-help book on anxiety that was pretty insightful,  which prompted me to look into it more and maybe I could find ways to “cope” with it.

So What’s Happening?

It’s complicated…

In my case, anxiety has increasingly been affecting my daily life for years in little yet significant ways. For instance, I would have plans to go out, and after getting ready – cancel at that last minute. It came to a point I just stayed home a lot when I should be enjoying the beautiful weather outside. Interestingly enough, I know that once I was somewhere, I am very open and chatty end up having an amazing time. That is probably why I felt very at ease during the lockdown and this past year… I had an “excuse.”

Apparently, for some (at least I believe it is for me) root of anxiety lies in “flight or fight response” although it does not cause any real life-threatening danger, the brain conceptualizes events as such and literally freezes me (everyone is different). 

Personal Ways to Cope with Anxiety

Once I was able to logically understand that anxiety was the result of chemistry + psychology, it gave me the leverage to be more proactive. Once you talk about it, you realize you are not the only one! It is possible to excel even with such a debilitating condition.

It pushed me to introspect and assess the personal reasons why I had to go through it – and still do. I personally started seeing it like an overprotective loved one attempting to prevent me from the possible rejection or embarrassment associated with letting myself become vulnerable in front of strangers.

Here are a few of my coping mechanisms:

Question it:

1. Am I Really in Danger? (for real for real??)

2. Be Prepared: regardless of how much I learn about it, anxiety is by nature unpredictable; therefore, I make sure to diligently practice to be able to go into “autopilot mode” whenever it literally takes over me.

3. Keep a Gratitude Journal: every day, I write down the things that I am grateful for in my Gratitude Journal. This allows me to stay positive even when things do not seem to be going the way I want. 

Denkyem 52 Weeks Gratitude Journal

Final Thoughts

One thing for sure is that these past few years have been game-changing and brought a lot to the table. I have grown a lot and kept merging into the woman I’m meant to be – and I learn a lot about myself and others daily: I keep reading, listening to podcasts, reading blogs and publications (check my favorites here) and self-assess/improve on a daily basis, and try to share what I am going through to inspire people out there.

Thank you for reading!

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Holidays’ Edition: Gift Ideas for Dancers

Since last week, and every Thursday until the holidays I will be sharing gift ideas for the people you love. Today I will feature the Afro Dancers Collection! Frankly, I have always loved dancing, but have been shy about it. As a kid, I did not experience much representation and although I tried dance class once, I never went back. I talk about it in the post. The Afro Dancers Collection portrays beautiful dancers wearing large afro celebrating Black hair in its entire glory. It is meant to normalize black hairstyles in all its form in honor of the CROWN Act. Please click on the link below to be redirected to the page!

1. The Wearable

Short-Sleeve Unisex T-Shirt
Dance is Better When You Dance Unisex Sweatshirt 

2. Accessories

Afro Dancer Yin and Yang Enamel Mug

4. Final Words for this Week

Mix and Match! Get Yourself of someone you care about a bunch of notebooks or a T-shirt with a matching notebook and a cup etc… Please find all the Afro Yogi Goodies on my website (Gift Cards Available – just NOT for the notebooks) – and the notebooks on my Amazon Page.Let me know if I can help.

Take care and Happy Holiday Shopping!!!

Check last week: Gift Ideas for Yogi

Giving Thanks: Why Being Grateful is Necessary All Year Long, Not Only on Thanksgiving

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I was first introduced to Thanksgiving on a “Little House in the Prairie” episode: “what an interesting concept I thought to myself” – then went on about my day. Over the years, the prevalence of American shows on French television helped me conceptualize to a certain extent the “history” of this American Holiday. Until recently, I knew the holiday was important, but despite being acquainted with the codes and cues surrounding the festivities, I never fully understood its true significance and implications (even after moving to New York, being invited to a few “parties” and organizing my own “Friendsgiving”). For me, it came down to hanging with family and people you like, and of course: food. Let’s see how I went from knowing something, to actually understanding it.

The Awareness: How Language Shapes the Way We See the World

If you are bilingual or polyglot, you may have noticed that there are words or expressions you cannot translate – at least verbatim – from one language to another: there are no words, and even explaining can be tricky. What I did not realize until I watched Cognitive scientist Lera Boroditsky TED Talk is How Language Shapes the Way We Think – Mia Nacamulli explains further how bilingualism shapes our physical brain and how depending on the age we learn the language may affect our emotional bias when we speak it. 

Lost and Found in Translation

In English, the words gratitude, grateful and ungrateful all have the same etymological root.” from Latin gratus “thankful, pleasing, goodwill” (etymology.com)

In French, the word for gratitude is “reconnaissance,” being grateful is “être reconnaissant(e),” and its antonym “ingrat” (ungrateful). Why does it matter? Although I knew the definition of these words in French, it never occurred to me they were indeed related, a bit the way birds are related to dinosaurs, you know? Plus, the word “ingrat” in my experience was solely used in one way: as a tool of manipulation to do things that were required to do (clean up my room or do chores). Additionally, it seems as if the word has a spiritual connotation (at least to me) and was in recent years of positive psychology that has been highly popularized. You can see it written everywhere: t-shirts, mugs, notebooks – in the meantime, (in a culture that prides itself for its secularism) nobody is walking around in the streets of Paris (or elsewhere in France for that matter) with a “Reconnaissante” t-shirt! *Bonus point: Grateful in English does sound way smoother when spoken out loud… 

Getting There

On December 12th, 2012 (12/12/12 <<< does this mean anything?) I watched Shawn Anchor’s Ted Talk The Happy Secret to Better Work. The same day, I ordered his book The Happiness Advantage: It blew my mind! One of the studies he shared showed that writing down 3 things we were grateful for during a period of 21 days had the power to rewire your brain for optimism and success. Since then, it has been a habit that I incorporated into my routine, something I try to do every day (I do skip some days, but try not to) – and I have to say: I always feel more positive and at peace when I journal and write down the things I am grateful for. One of my great pleasures is to go over my old notes and see how I either manifested something or was on the path of great outcomes.

2 in 1: The 3 months gratitude journal not only gives room for daily gratitude practice, but it also has an entire page for daily journaling.

The cover features illustrations from the “Shine Bright Collection” and at the back inspirational poems so you too could remind yourself what is at stake.

The 52 weeks gratitude journal is a more compact (in size) – one-year journal – to succinctly write memorable moments and win of the day. 

Slick and Original designs – Square 52 weeks Gratitude Journal

New Perspectives

This year for Thanksgiving, I find myself really excited and ready to embrace the significance of the holiday. Of course, I will look forward to good food but to honor it, I decided to challenge myself to start writing it down systematically.

Holidays’ Edition: Gift Ideas for Yogi

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Starting this week, and every Thursday until the holidays I will be sharing gift ideas for the people you love. Let us begin with one of my favorite collections: The Afro Yogi Collection. It was inspired after my yoga retreat in Goa India. It features Black Yogi and is meant to promote yoga within the community and normalize black natural hairstyles! Please click on the link below to be redirected to the page!

1. The Wearable

black yoga illustration christmas tshirt
Lotus Position Sweater for the Holidays

2. Laptops, Cups and More

Final Words for this Week

Mix and Match! Get Yourself of someone you care about a bunch of notebooks or a T-shirt with a matching notebook and a cup etc… Please find all the Afro Yogi Goodies on my website (Gift Cards Available – just NOT for the notebooks). Let me know if I can help.

Take care and Happy Holiday Shopping!!!

French-Ruled Notebook: Your Cursive Handwriting New Bestie

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Every year or so when I travel to France, I load up in French-Ruled notebooks, but sometimes before I get the chance to go back, I would, unfortunately, run out of it. So I had an idea: why not create my own?

But what is French-Ruled Notebook anyway? Story time…

Seyes Grid, also known as “Grand Carreaux” (large square) and commonly called French-Ruled in English is the standard lined paper used by students in France. It is as commonly used as college-ruled paper in the USA consists of an 8mm x 8mm grid, with lighter or thinner horizontal lines spaced 2mm apart inside the main grid. This is how French kids, myself included, were taught how to write.

Seyes Paper – Grand Carreaux – French-Ruled Specialty Paper

For many of us younsters, this was a painful experience: imagine spending hours writing lines of letters using fountain pens – being judged on our hand dexterity – and graded on our performance: scarier than Halloween for some people! There was this girl named Laurence – she was so perfect – her clothes always matched her shoes and the bows in her hair (which was also pretty perfect). I could have been jealous of all that, but 9-year-old Daphné was really envious of the praises she gets for her cursive handwriting! As much as I was practicing and confident of my own proficiency, I never got more than Bs (crushing)…

I kept at it (I did not really have a choice) and today – away from elementary-high school pressure and years of practice – I believe my handwriting has become pretty decent! If I may say so myself!

cursive handwriting on french ruled paper

A few years ago, a friend of mine known online as the Handwriting Artist started posting about her Calligraphy practice. Until then, it never occurred to me that writing cursive was “a thing” until I talked to a few of my American friends and the latter informed me that their kids who were not even required to learn it in school passed a certain grade. I guess things change, and there may be legit reasons for it. I still think that would be something positive to have in your arsenal. In an article published in Trends in Neuroscience and Education, Neuroscientists Karin Harman James and Laura E. Engelhardt link cursive writing quicker reading acquisition. It is a good enough reason for me to teach it – although I can also understand that sometimes priorities may be elsewhere in the classroom.

My Own Specialty Paper Notebooks

Of course, I had to ‘represent” my people!!! I adapted to create one for my hometown, Marseille, and also adapted one of my heart pattern illustrations, so it has the French flag on the inside! or more designs, scroll all the way down.

Shop Marseille French Ruled Notebook. ************************************************************** Shop French Flag Seyes Notebook

Next, I wanted to keep it simple with these square-elegant notebooks with a very minimalistic cover. I played with the colors here – Here are few examples:

Shop Cyan French-Ruled Paper Notebook (soon available)
Shop Ultramarine French-Ruled Paper Notebook (soon available)

Of course, I do write on college-ruled notebooks but there is something nice for me, a piece of home, in writing on seyes paper. It binds me with part of my French culture.

For more notebooks, please click here

Photo by energepic.com on Pexels.com

Aesthetically Yours: In Love with Symmetry, Patterns, and Colors!

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Let’s talk about symmetry today – not physical and individual symmetry, but in art, shall we?

The Things We Love

Scientists, along with artists (who are scientists too – don’t get fooled) have demonstrated time and time again that people have a universal aesthetic preference for symmetry. I have always loved patterns and symmetry myself, and I think anyone that knows my art can see these influences.

When I started my artistic practice, I created a couple of Abstract art collections based on symmetry. I call the first one “Chromatic Ecstasy” – the other one “Collection 2”, which I absolutely love.

Chromatic Ecstasy #12
Collection 2 – Mister Cat

Since the beginning of the year, I have been creating other amazing works influenced by it like “Sacredly” and my Larger Scale “Dotted.” paintings, both series inspired by Sacred Geometry (for close-ups, check Sacred Geometry 100 & Sacred Geometry 101)

My Process

Recently, I have been playing with patterns while creating covers for my new notebooks.

I have been using tiny doodle illustrations I have made in 2018 (one of them is my logo, below) and rearranging them into patterns.

My Logo

It is has been hella fun and honestly, I am looking forward to creating more! Here’s an example of what I have done:

After creating on paper then digitizing my art (I have a hard time with the iPad still and am not versed in creating directly on procreate), I arrange them into a symmetrically aesthetic item in illustrator mainly using the Rotate Tool (R), the Reflect Tool (O). I finish by picking colors (at this point, I don’t bother too much with the “right colors”, as I usually end up looking for different palettes) – In the past, I created my pattern manually with eh Move Tool (Shit+Command+M) – but this time I used the “Pattern Tool” from Illustrator. Here’s the result:

It personally reminds me of ornamental Rococo and Baroque designs we used to have at my grandmother’s house when I was a kid. I call it “Modern/Pop Rococo” or Baroque-ish. What do you think? For me, it further confirms my attraction for this type of comeliness.

Here are some I have published on Amazon (paid link). I will continue to create and post all my notebooks on my “Notebook on Amazon” page here.

more in the following months so stay tuned~

Click on the icon to be redirected to the page of your choice (paid links)

7.25×9.5, 120 pages

7.25×9.5, 120 pages

7.25×9.5, 120 pages

7.25×9.5, 120 pages

7.25×9.5, 120 pages

6x9in, 120 Pages

6x9in, 120 Pages

The Power of the Mantra: #iAmEnough

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Pic by Derrel Anthony, Bed Stuy 2015

A few years ago, on this very same blog, I posted a poem called #iAmEnough. I can’t exactly recall how this particular poem came to be, but I know I was challenging the notion of “being put down”. Put down by others, by society, by ourselves – based on others and society’s opinions.

By writing this ode to myself, I was channeling my inner compassion and eventually invoking radical self-love. I have to say it is not always easy to do so. For me, It started by deconstructing years of oppressive thought patterns and judgemental views towards who I was and was supposed to be. This theme of self-acceptance and growth prompted several of the poems I wrote in my first opus published in 2019.

I find it powerful to proclaim “being enough” in a world that strives for perfection and constantly belittles who we are, especially as a woman of color – or any other marginalized group for that matter. Over the years, I came to the conclusion (I am sure many others did) that Shame is the Tool of the Oppressor. This statement helped me more than once to reassess and recalibrate situations I go through on a regular basis. Reframing experiences has been a great way for me to understand myself and others’ behaviors – or at least tried to.

In that sense, #iAmEnough is simply is a way to celebrate yourself – and others, a self-love statement. A mantra to be sung anytime life gives you lemons and you rather have lemonade. So say it after me: I am Enough (and so are you)

Daphné Mia Essiet © All rights reserved.

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That French Girl with a Ukulele: From Hawaii to New York

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daphne essiet with ukulele in uke store

I consider myself to be a “Renaissance Femme” (=woman in French). I create beautiful visual art, write poetry – but I also compose and perform my original songs, and when it comes to my music, I was often asked why I picked up the Ukulele instead of a Guitar. I like to believe that I did not pick up the Ukulele but instead the Ukulele picked me!

I used to travel extensively as part of my corporate job. At first, I was a bit bummed that I could not make music the way I wanted to but when I realize how privileged I was to travel technically “for free”, it soothed me a bit.

Tell us More: Story Time

In December 2015, I ended spending a week in Hawaii for work. My assistant at the time did not take into consideration that coming from Australia, we would cross the international date line (the imaginary line that runs along the Earth’s surface from the North Pole to the South Pole in the middle of the Pacific Ocean) – and although we boarded our flight on Saturday evening in Sydney – we still arrived there on a Saturday morning in Waikiki airport…

back to the future marty
Non de Zeus!

She also thought we would be tired because of jetlag (we kinda were… a bit), so she did not schedule our first meetings until the following Tuesday. (Yay)

Needless to say, we were THRILLED when we realized this (which was last minute – as we were boarding the flight). I had work reports to write and emails to answer, but you better believe it that despite being tired I knocked it all off during my 10 hours flight so I could go to the beach and explore the island right away.

One afternoon, I walking around close to the hotel we were staying in, I stumbled upon a Ukulele Shop that was giving daily free 30-minute classes. I thought to myself: “that would be a fun thing to do” and I decided to take advantage of this opportunity to assiduously attend every one of them and acquaint myself with this new instrument. I ended up going to the classes every day for almost a week.

It was me, in the middle and the Japanese tourists hahaha

When I returned to New York, I decided it would be a great idea to purchase one: it was small and lightweight enough to carry it while on the road – and would be an excellent way to finally arrange all those songs I had been writing over the years.

Since I couldn’t take classes, I started to watch Youtube Videos and learn all the chords and fingering so I could work on my own compositions.

In September of 2017, my travel load decreased tremendously. I decided to take this opportunity to register for a poetry class at CCNY and perform poetry for the first time to a live audience on December 6th.

I was excited about my performance, my good friend Tiffany thought I should start singing live again. At the time she was putting together a showcase and asked me to participate. I hadn’t sung publicly since 2015 but I thought “why not”? I agreed without really putting too much thought into it. When she give more details I found out I would be part of a few other acts at this club called Nublu in the Lower East Side of Manhattan my insecurities started to flare up: what if I wasn’t good enough? What if people did not like my songs? Yes, I was spiraling out of control but I had given my word and I could no longer back out at this point.

For the six weeks, I practice like I had never before, prepared in between set transitions material, and even rewrote a few lyrics. I was initially planning on hiring a band, but Tiff insisted I do a solo 30-minute solo set voice + ukulele. I didn’t feel ready, but she was very convincing…

poster of Daphné Essiet show at Nublu New York on January 16th 2018
Poster I had created on Photoshop with pics by Brianna Rizada

On January 16th, 2018 – I had a brief 30-seconds soundcheck then I performed: I was a nerve wreck. Fortunately, thanks to one of my superpowers “being able to fake it big time” nobody seem to notice, (although I was shaking throughout the entire set). Here’s a video of that night. You can see more on my YT Channel

I was terrified…

This first solo show was a proud moment and I promised myself to perform at least once a month from then on – which I did! Over that year, I practiced consistently, trying to book shows around New York as well as in Paris and Flic en Flac (Mauritius) where I was vacationing.

daphne essiet at silvana
pic by Brianna Kilgore
daphne essiet performing in Flic en Flac Mauritius concert
Daphné Essiet at Silvana in New York
Silvana Harlem, pic by Louisa

So What Now?

Before the first locked down, I was really planning on touring: I wanted to put together a set mixing poetry, art, and music in intimate venues and libraries. For now, I am focusing on my other passion and even use music as inspiration for my projects, such as this awesome Ukulele Tab Singer-Songwriter notebook – the one tool I have been looking for but never found to purchase!

My Ukulele Tab Notebook – paid link

I still want to perform and I believe that when the time will be right, things will come together as they should. So Stay tuned ~

in the grass in Central Park

More about me here

Books, TED Talks, Podcasts, and Youtube Channels I Like

assorted books on shelf
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I love to learn new things, and the more I do, the more I realize how much there is to learn. It is a bit overwhelming… So I thought, if you are like me, you may like some recommendations, books I read, podcasts I listen to, videos I watch, etc… I find that word of mouth is a great way to discover things I never thought about! I tried to put the link almost everywhere so all you have to do is click!

My first source of inspiration when it comes to improving myself are books. Over the years I have read several ones that I would recommend if you want to put yourself in a very positive mind space (yes I had to go down my Amazon History to remember some of them). Here are a few:

I also love biographies because they teach you about what kind of struggle someone may have been through before becoming who they are – and I find it inspiring. This past month I read Kamal Haussman Time Bomb read Alicia Keys: More Myself and about to read Mariah Carey The Meaning of Mariah Carey. I can also recommend Trevor Noah Born a Crime and Michelle Obama Becoming, just to name a few!

Youtube Channels:

I always loved listening to Ted Talks; here are some of my favorite:

I also love to listen to podcasts about self-improvement; here are some of my favorites ones:

Finally, I am a great fan of constant learning. Over the year I have found so many resources online from Youtube and to Free University Websites such as MIT or Harvard ranging from all topics  – and the great part is that all of them are FREE!

I also subscribed to Skillshare. For those who do not know, it’s an online learning community with thousands of classes in design, business technology, and more. I love the platform and there are so many tutorials I take on different topics. It is really helpful for me at this point and I thought it was an investment that would serve me. 

Feel free to share your link in the comment section, especially podcasts and vids!

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Alicia Keys Biography + the Pyramids of Giza with a Twist…

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Original Drawing – Gold pen-touch by @sakuraofamerica and Acrylic Paint on 6 ply black paper 28in x 22in

The shape of a pyramid is thought to be representative of the descending rays of the sun, and most pyramids were faced with polished, highly reflective white limestone, in order to give them a brilliant appearance when viewed from a distance. (Wiki)

I’ve drawn the Giza Pyramids last year, during the first lockdown. I don’t know what prompted this, but I felt drawn to do it (pun intended). I had a large black paper and gold paint/pen and execute this drawing in a few days. Someone said the sky reminded them of Van Gogh Starry Night. I can see this – probably unconsciously channeled the masters’ spirit.

As a child, I always wanted to travels: far away pacific islands, Copa Cabana and The US were on the top of my list, and Egypt which was technically so close to me (I grew up in southern France) never was destination that interested me. Even after reading one of my favorite books The Alchemist by Brazilian author Paulo Coelho I never thought of going to Egypt, not completely sure why.

Landing in Mexico City

Fast forward to 2015: I was traveling to Mexico City on business, and one member of my team suggested we go see the pyramids. I feel a bit ashamed to say that I did not even realize there were pyramids in Mexico. I recall Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Ted Talk on The Danger of a Single Story. I imagined Mexico literally the way it is depicted in Arrested Development.

It never occurred to me that Mexico City could resemble European any other way: to my surprise – downtown Mexico City felt much like many European Capitals I had visited, with of course more colors and flavors as well as delicious Mexican street food and delicacies.

On our last day off, my team members and I had the hotel arrange transportation for a last-minute impromptu visit to Teotihuacán. On our way there, one of my friends, said that one of her goals was to visit all the pyramids in the world. I have to say, once again, I was unaware “this was a thing”. I was so grateful to be a part of this journey to the Mexican pyramids, and also to find out new things I could look into as soon as I would get the chance to!

This was such an amazing experience, and I will be forever grateful I had the privilege to see it for myself. It also sparked an interest for these amazing structures built centuries ago.

A few weeks ago I read singer-songwriter Alicia Keys’ autobiography. I absolutely love to learn about people’s stories. From Maya Angelou to Trevor Noah, Tiffany Haddish, or Kamal Haussman, I find inspiration to retrace the steps one took in the quest their Personal Legend. It tends to make me reflect on my own life and gives me the courage to keep on working on my projects.

This particular biography also made me revisit the repertoire of a great artist, this time with the “how” it all came to be.

alicia keys biography book cover
Alicia Keys Biography is AMAZING and sooooo INSPIRING

In this book, she talks about how Egypt, a country she went to several times and found spirituality – impacted the way she relates to the world.

It did spark something in me that makes me want to find out more about the ancient Egyptians, the Kemet. Hopefully, one day I will finally make the trip and see it for myself.

Meanwhile, I will keep at contemplating at my Giza Pyramids.

daphne essiet holding her drawing of the pyramids
This is how it would look in your living room – Mockup by Saatchi

Find the complete collection here

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Reflecting on The Afropean-Self: How Moving to New York Allowed me to Emancipate Myself from Expectations

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Michele Obama wrote “Becoming” and Alicia Keys “More Myself”, and over the years women of all ages and life paths have been uncovering their genuine selves. It is a sentiment I am myself familiar with and have been seeking for a long time: a quest for authenticity.

I often tell people that moving to New York allowed me to emancipate myself from the strong societal pressure and expectations I was feeling in France. Not that France is a bad place to live, but it was not an environment for me to thrive at the time. I did feel silenced and expected to be someone I was not. Of course, it took a long time to even realize how significant and life-altering this move had been, how the cultural shift impacted how I showed up in the world: moving to New York allowed me to distance myself from who I thought I should be and procure me a safe space to explore who I truly was and why: how infinite possibilities could be.

At this point of my life, I feel more “aware” even tho I know there is still a lot of work to do: I am still figuring this out and struggling to “undo” all the programming that has been done to me. Letting go of self-criticism and judgment is the hardest part – as well as forgiving yourself. One day at a time. It is a daily hustle and a mindf* – mainly because I want to remember how much I have accomplished and overcome without letting my trauma pull me to the past and prevent me from being present and/or planning for the future. It is a balancing act for sure.

Six years ago, in 2015 I wrote a poem titled “#MergingIntoMyself”. I can frankly say this is one of my favorite poems from my poetry book. Although I have come a long way, I am still on the path of improving myself, healing my ego, and building my legacy.

I am sure I am one of many going through this journey of self-improvement and for that reason, I thought created a series of notebooks and gratitude journals, titled “Shine Bright”. These journals come in two different illustrations I created years ago and at the back of the cover, you will find a poem I wrote. That is how one of them look:

Back

For more notebooks, scroll down (paid links)!

Hear it in my voice:

Reciting my Poem “Merging Into Myself”

I long to be Free.
Free from my fears.

Free from the imaginary boundaries I inflicted mySelf.
I long to be mySelf.
The woman I’ve always meant to be

Phenomenal woman, that’s Me.

The one who will own her flaws and recognize them as the most enticing part of who she is.

The one who will appreciate them the way they deserve to be.

I long to be aware.
Aware of Reality

Fully aware of the Love I’ve been the recipient of all along.

That Love that has been kept away from my heart by the fear of being rejected.

Every day, I look at mySelf.
Every day, I’m one step closer.
Every day, I am grateful for the joys and the pains and the hardships I’ve been subjected to.

I’m emerging and

#MergingIntoMySelf

Check out the Shine Bright Collection Notebooks and Gratitude Journals (paid links)

Poem originally posted on this very same blog.

Excerpt from my poetry book On Love and Lust and Everything in Between.

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Do You Like Notebooks or People Who do?

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“Write it on real paper with a real pencil and watch shit get real” Erykah Badu

I have always loved to write on paper. There is something special about using a pen and documenting your thoughts and feelings, at least for me. I do not do it daily, but I have dozens of pads around the house, and probably in my storage, filled with how I felt at some point or another.

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When I started to create my illustrations a couple of years ago, this was one of the first things I wanted to make: notebooks featuring my art. At the time, I looked for months into suppliers: unfortunately, I neither had the funds nor the space to store the eventual purchase of dozen of notebooks. Plus, I already had so many different ideas, that I could not pick one… I put that idea aside for the time being.

A few months back, I was watching TikTok videos (of all places) and realized that I could create that type of product with Amazon as a supplier. I was already familiar with the platform because this is where I self-published my first paperback poetry book back in 2018 titled On Love, and Lust, and Everything in Between – 123 written pages where I poured my heart out in 3 acts, + essays (I am very proud of my baby).

Here is a little video one video I produced of one of my poems:

#OverthinkingThangs

By the time I find out about this new opportunity, I got extremely excited about it. My first project was actually a Ukulele Notebook for singer-songwriters. On top of writing poetry, I also write, compose and perform my original songs (check them out on my Youtube). In the past, I used regular notebooks with on one side my lyrics and another page the chords, but I always thought it would be kinda neat to find a product with all the features I was looking for: so I did it!

I also wanted to work on a regular notebook, so I used my Afro Yogi illustrations for the cover and created the inside with blank lines.

I have to say, the first samples I ordered were not the best: it took more research and trips to Target and Marshall’s for “inspiration”, but I finally created a product that I love and am proud of.

I always try to feature my logo on the cover and a few times within the notebook, as well as my information in case someone gets gifted one of my beautiful cahiers and wants more! Some of these notebooks also feature poems from my poetry book

Over the months, I have added diary, logbooks, manuscript papers notebooks, gratitude journals, and 52-weeks planners.

I have almost 100 paper goods at this time categorized in different collections, and that is why I really wanted to create a guide so if you decide to purchase them – maybe for the approaching holiday season (is it ever too early to start Christmas shopping?), you know where to go. *Click on the collection name in order to be directed to the collection page and click on the other links for additional information on the products in the description.

The Grace Jones Collection: I start with this one because this is the BESTSELLER – Obvi… There are 3 formats, please check for details by clicking on the page.

Grace Jones illustration

The Afro Yogi Collection: A collection of diary, yoga logs & gratitude journal. Features Black Yogi and is meant to promote yoga within the community + normalize black natural hairstyles

Musicians Collection: Manuscript paper notebooks and fret notebooks featuring illustrations of instruments, musicians, and instrumentalists.

Afro Fairies Collection: Created to promote a healthy and broader representation of Black and Brown children through imaginative and magical characters. (Sketchbook, Primary Notebook – to learn how to write, and college-ruled notebooks)

French Papeterie: French ruled or Séyès paper is the standard lined paper used by students in France, as commonly used as college-ruled paper in the USA. French-ruled paper consists of an 8mm x 8mm grid, with lighter or thinner horizontal lines spaced 2mm apart inside the main grid. Great for those who would like to improve their handwriting, French ruled paper, or Seyes ruled paper, could be something to help you out. Use this ruled paper to practice handwriting skills. Become more proficient at letter formations, size, and spacing.

Afro Dancer Collection: features Black dancers wearing large afro celebrating Black hair in all its glory and is meant to normalize black hairstyle in all its form.

CROWNED Collection:Celebrating Girls & Women of Color One Illustration at a Time“. Created in honor of Women History Month and the CROWN Act passing in California in 2020. It features figurative drawings of black women with different hairstyles.

Please check my Notebook on Amazon Page for More and Updates

For those who live outside of the US, please follow those links to avoid paying shipping fees:

Canada click here
France click here
UK click here
Japan click here

Other countries, holla in the comments!

Thank you for your patience and feel free to leave a comment should you have any questions ❤

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On Texturism: Bodacious Mane, Big Hair Don’t Care

“What we need right now is more women who have detoxed themselves so completely from the world’s expectations that they are full of nothing but themselves. What we need are women who are full of themselves. A woman who is full of herself knows and trusts herself enough to say and do what must be done. She lets the rest burn.”

Glennon Doyle, Untamed

I am so grateful for the abundance of vocabulary I have learnt over the years so to articulate the way I feel.

Lately, I have been thinking about “texturism” and how it has been impacting women’s lives, how it historically has affected how others may have treated and behaved around you.

According to an article i read in @naturallycurly – “texturism”, as the name implies, is the idea that your hair texture is an inherent indicator of your overall superiority.”

Hair is the thing I have been the most conscious about growing up, mainly because all the remarks I heard about my own + nobody knowing how to deal with it around me.

the 80s

That is one of the reasons why hair has an important place in my practice, from the Afro Fairy collection, to the CROWNED or again the Afro Dancers.

This bodacious mane collection is another way for me to cope and finally celebrate the type of hair I wished I had seen more represented growing up.

I’m spoiling my inner child with the images I didn’t know I craved.

Hope you enjoy ❤

Find the complete collection here

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Don’t Miss a Beat Jazz Festival in Jacksonville Florida Contest – A Process

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Although my design was not selected, I wanted to share it and explain my creative process.

A few months ago I participated in a contest to design an inaugural poster for the Don’t Miss a Beat Jazz Festival in Jacksonville Florida, happening this upcoming July 24th, 2021.

It was one of my first time creating with very specific directives, and I found it fun to do so!

I wanted to celebrate women’s contribution in Jazz and that is why drew a lady playing trumpet.

Her pose is a “clin d’oeil” to Miles Davis’ iconic pose, and her hair is the shape of the city borders.

The background was inspired by the Jacksonville flag. 

Check out the pictures below!

contestant poster of don't miss a beat jazz festival
drawing of a woman playing the trumpet
I started to sketch my drawing in my notebook
Timelapse of the drawing
Inspired by Mies
Jacksonville Flag

Jacksonville City Map

Congratulations to local visual artist Carolyn Audije

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On Dancing: How Representation Can Encourage Youth to Turn to Dance

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illustration of a woman with an afro dancing with caption "Life is Better when you Dance"
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Representation matters.

When I was about 4-5 years old I was taken to a dance class in my neighborhood. I honestly can’t recall what happened that day but by the end of the class I know I never wanted to go back again.

Fast forward years later when I moved to New York, I was often asked if I was a dancer. Maybe it was because of my posture (which I got from walking on a 10cm beam in artistic gymnastics). I honestly thought people were joking around; after all, I looked nothing like the girls I had seen all my life on the cover of Martine et Les Petit Rats de l’Opera, or even the girls from Dirty Dancing.

My legs were muscular a bit like one of my idols, Surya Bonali, but oh boy! do I remember how people used to talk about hers.

Bonaly constantly faced negativity from judges as she did not fit into their norm. Being black did not correlate with their idea of being graceful as characterized by the white feminine body. This clearly demonstrates that the dominant white culture determines who is and is not allowed to be exceptional and that definitions of what is acceptable behaviour can change based on who is performing it “(Jackson, 1999).

The way I perceived myself through the eyes of society prevented me from even considering classical dance as an option. I still would love to dance and even created a couple routine from school. In the early ’90s, American Hip Hop pertained to the French media and I thought, maybe I could try that – this may be more “for people like me”.

It took many years and growth to overcome these stereotypes and feel comfortable showing more of my legs! But I felt a bit cheated I never was not encouraged to pursue the practice of dance.

Of course, dancers such as Debbie Allen and later Misty Copeland paved the way for a newer generation of classical dancers, and dance companies such as Alvin American Dance Theater pioneered Black Excellence in the

That specifically the reason why I was inspired to create a series of Groovy Afro Dancers: Just because #RepresentationMatters – and I hope that young and not so younger girls will recognize themselves in them!

illustration of triplet women dancing with a large afro
illustration of dancer dancing in the moonlight with large afro

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*Jackson, R. L. (1999). White space, white privilege: Mapping discursive inquiry into the self. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 85(1), 38-54. DOI: 10.1080/00335639909384240