Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Flying.......And Hopping!

I almost opted out of this special project, and I tried to cancel my name and url, but then I realized that some of my fellow fliers had already copied and pasted the list, and so, I had to brave it up and just do it!

So here I am.

But seriously, this is so cool, it feels like I'm expecting special guests and I need to make my home pretty to welcome them!


It's been a while since I posted anything on my blog. The truth is, I just can't do it and being able to admit that in itself is a relief  and shows that I'm a big girl now!

My mother came to be with me when I was going to have my baby. She took care of me, nursed me and helped me heal. She gave me all the support I needed to become a mother. I don't know how I could have done this without her. I felt that because I had become a mother, I had to give everything else up, but my mother gave me a lot of courage and confidence, she made me believe that I could do anything! And I DID  believe that I could do anything! And so, I took the Flying Lessons, had great ideas for my business and also, went back to school full time. My mother has gone back home now, and although I'm still confident, between being a mother, a wife and full time school, I'm a zombie! My son is 7 months old, but he's the size of a one year+ old. I'm exhausted! I can barely stay awake!

I ask myself, why I'm putting myself through all this.....? And then I remember! It's all because of him!

I took the flying lessons because even though I thought I couldn't have children, I always knew in my heart that I would wanted to be a stay at home mom, just as my mother was for me. She was a housewife. But so much has changed. Even though being a mother is my number one role and priority, I know there's so much more in me that has to be brought forth.

Technology is allowing us to have opportunities that our mothers didn't and I owe it to myself, my son, my family and all the women of the world to take full advantage of these opportunities and be the best I can be! We're all in this together!

On the subject of going back to school, even though I used to own a dressmaking business (amongst other things), I never had any formal training, and I didn't know how to sew! (even though I had to sew!) I've always been afraid of sewing! And so, upon arriving here in the USA, and wanting to further my career and my education, I decided to take on an MFA in Fashion Merchandising. I was playing it safe! I was getting easy A's! After the birth of my son, I knew I had to stop playing it safe, stop thinking that I wasn't good enough to be a full fledged Fashion Designer, and so I ditched a year's worth of credits and switched over to the MFA in Fashion Design.

It's hard hard work! I have to stay up all night when my husband can take of our baby, and I have to sew and draw! I'm not getting A's like I used to, but I KNOW I'm doing the right thing!

I'm going to school online, so again, thanks to technology, we CAN have it all, just in smaller doses!

This is one of the reasons why I connected with Kelly Rae so much. By living her life, and sharing, she made me believe that it would be possible to be a full time mom and still run a thriving business, and that's why I took the Flying Lessons.

It's been great, but for now, I just can't do it. I can't fly.

And it's ok. It's not like I've given up, I just have to gently push my business plans aside for now, and still dream and take the tiny steps that I can.

So, for my Facebook family, this is why I haven't been very active in our group. I'm so grateful for those of you who are keeping the dream alive and keeping the community strong, knowing that some of us can fly in and fly out, knowing that the rest of you are soaring! The conversations, the information, the sisterhood has been the BEST part of Flying Lessons! It's been wonderful. The very few times that I'm able to come to the group are when I'm nursing my baby, or when he's asleep in my arms, and the most I can do is to 'like' something, or just type a few words. But just being able to fly by from time to time is encouraging, it makes me believe that it's all possible.


In the spirit of the blog hop, this is what I'm doing to keep my wings strong! I really wanted to create something special, but it just wasn't possible.

I created this 'package' as a way to honor and express all the things I love! Fashion, Decor and Art. It's a set of one painting and two pillows. It's something I plan to develop further and these will be the first items in my Etsy shop.....I hope.

I've also created a little make believe 'boutique', at the top of my staircase at home, with my paintings and pillows, my flowers and other creations, so any time I climb up, this is the sight waiting for me, reminding me that there's work to be done.

So, soon, my friends, soon.

Thank you so much for stopping by!

P.S. For my other friends outside of the flying family, please take a few moments to visit these lovely ladies at their blogs!

Amaranthine Violet:
Amy Hillenbrand:
Beatriz Peñas B.:
Beth Cougler Blom:
Carmen Patti:
Carol Bray:
Christina Fajardo:
Cindy Jones Lantier:
Connie Rawlins :
Dana Brock:
Deborah Velásquez :
Elissa Brown:
Hillary Courson:
Jacquie Williamson:
Jane Paynting:
Janet Forrest:
Jennifer DeVille:
Jill Lambert :
Julie Hamilton:
Kanchan Mahon:
Karen Claverie:
Kari DeSaulnier:
Kathleen Conard :
Kathleen McKinnon:
Kathy May:
Kelley Miller:
Kelly Corso:
Kelly Hoernig:
Kim Hyer:
Kris Lanae Binsfeld:
Lenore Angela:
Linda Barutha:
Lisa Michele Products:
Liza Zeni Baker:
Lynn Richards:
Lori Leissner:
Lori Moon:
Mary Cottingham:
Mary Sterk:
Megan Schmitt:
Melanie Douthit:
Michelle Dwyer:
Michelle Reynolds:
Rachél Payne (Rae):
Rain Hannah:
Rhiannon Connelly:
Ruth-Mary Smith:
Sherry Richert Belul:
Stacey Chadwick
Susan M. Walls-Beverly:
Teresa Cash-Czech:
Tina Carlborg:
Tonya Love:
Ursula Smith:
Zulma Cadena:
Mary Cottingham

Monday, August 29, 2011


I've been talking about the E-Course I'm taking with Kelly Rae Roberts and how wonderful it's been in preparing me to take flight once again. Well now, in addition to taking flight, I have a new friend and a new word.

Emerge........allow me to share!

On Friday, one of my 'Flying Friends', Cindy, came to visit. We hit it off instantly! It was just so special to be able to spend time with a like minded person! This is the first time an internet friendship has transformed into a real life friendship for me. It's very special. Cindy is a beautiful, kind, intelligent and talented soul. I'm so happy to call her my friend.

We shared stories about our lives, our art and our journeys. I shared this quotation on Facebook on Friday even before we met;

"I may not know you, but I know I am a lot like you, and that we can relate to each other. I know that we are not alone with our challenges and feelings. And knowing that is truly great."

And it proved to be ever so true. We come from different parts of the world, grew up in different ways and yet the similarities exceed the differences!

I asked Cindy to bring along some of her art, which she did. Beautiful work and all from the heart, you can feel it. At the end of it all, came the surprise! She actually asked me to pick one of her pieces! I declined at first.....I wasn't pretending or anything, but each piece just held so much meaning, but she insisted, and so I did. I picked a piece titled 'Emerge'.

Cindy said "Emerge" was her 'word' last year, and now it's mine! This is so symbolic and again, so special! I don't mean to be nerdy, but I even though I know what emerge means, I just had to look it up to really make sure I was embodying the word. So,

: to become manifest : become known

: to rise from or as if from an enveloping fluid : come out into view

: to rise from an obscure or inferior position or condition

: to come into being through evolution .....

This couldn't have come into my life at a better time.

Thank you Cindy!

Even though I am happy I've found a new friend, I am also sad, sad because she'll be moving soon. But then again, it won't matter too much, I know we'll always have our friendship!

So thank you Kelly Rae for bringing together this collection of amazing women, women from different parts of the world, all wildly talented, all on the quest of emerging, of flying!

It's beautiful.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

I knew this would happen!

I knew it!

Anyone who has had a baby, especially a C-section, knows that it takes a while to heal. But even worse, it takes what feels like forever to get 'yourself' back! My mother has been with me since I had my son and I don't know what I would have done without her! (That's an entire post!...coming soon!) She helps me with the day shift and darling hubby helps with the night shift. So even though I'm still quite tired, I have had tremendous support, and baby Anthony is a prince! Apart from getting big and heavy too fast for comfort, he's really been a good baby.

I've been blessed.

However......................It's taken forever to get back! And I'm not even sure what 'back' is anymore! But let's start with dressing up. Anyone who knows me knows that being well dressed is my number one priority! Whether it's at home or out, I just don't feel right when I'm not well put together. And back at home, having a business at home, it was automatic that once I woke up, I would get dressed for work, I'm just used to it.

Having a baby has turned everything upside down. I've been living in my robe for the past four and a half months! My mother looks at me and her eyes say, "Who are you??? And what have you done with my real daughter????" She's been trying to get me to at least make some clothes suitable for breast feeding but no show! I only get dressed when we're having company or if we have to go out.


Today, I'm feeling different. I woke up, had a bath, put on a girdle and put on jeans that I haven't worn in over a year with a white shirt. I even put some make up on and did my hair.

What happened?

What changed?

I'll tell you....

I feel better. I'm feeling good about myself. Between Thursday and today (today's Saturday), something has shifted. I'm not feeling lost, I'm not feeling useless, I'm not feeling like just a cow. I'm feeling like a woman, the woman that I am, the one that I've missed. I'm feeling strong, I'm feeling empowered.

And where did all this magic come from? It came from sharing my life, from opening up! And from the responses I have received here, on Facebook and on phone. I feel like I'm part of something again. I feel like I have value again.

I didn't have any set goals when I was signing up for Kelly Rae's Flying lessons. I may have a room full of art, flowers, clothes and other creations. I set up Etsy shops last year and they're all empty. I don't have a plan. I'm still all over the place.


I knew I was going to get something from Flying Lessons....

And I have! The magic has begun! I feel alive!

I knew it would happen!

And for that, I am truly grateful!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The High Desert

The past two weeks have been quite intense. I mentioned a couple of posts ago that I was taking part in an online course, Flying Lessons with Kelly Rae Roberts. You know when someone touches your life in a BIG way and opens you up in ways and areas that you know have been closed? Well, that's what Kelly Rae has done. Today, I need to share everything.

I moved from Ghana to California about four and a half years ago. I moved to be with my husband. It was with very mixed emotions, looking forward to marriage and looking forward to the promise of a new life. It was also at the peak of my career, after 12 years of designing and making clothes, designing interiors, events etc, I had plateaued completely, I couldn't see the future, all I could see was more of the same, it was exhausting, it wasn't exciting anymore. I couldn't take it anymore. This post gives some insight into how I felt.

So, I arrived in California, and my husband did what was 'expected'....he bought us a new home. For some reason, we ended up buying a home in the High Desert. A lovely brand new home, but in the desert.

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love green and how much I loved my plants and my garden. I used to call them my children.
I planted almost every single plant and tree with my own hands. My business was at home, and my garden gave me joy and peace, it kept me grounded. In times of stress, all I would have to do would be to take a walk in the grass barefoot, touch my flowers, and I would be fine. Towards the end though, I was too busy with work, I neglected my garden, employed gardeners to take care of the garden; they didn't love it as much as I did, and the garden did not hold the 'life' that it used to when I used to take care of it myself.

I know this post is beginning to seem disjointed.....but please stay with me, I know it'll all come together.

I arrived in California a confused and bitter woman. Yes, I was excited, but it was more of an escape, all I could do was focus on my failures, I had forgotten about all my friendships, ways in which I had touched people's lives with my work. I also virtually burned a lot of bridges, I just wanted to be left alone and wallow in my bitterness, sorrow, disappointment with myself and confusion.

I was in the desert emotionally, spiritually, creatively and therefore, physically. For almost a year, I wasn't even able to decorate, and till today, I haven't even planted one thing! I don't even water the plants which came along with the house, they're all dying.

I hate the desert. But today, I realize why I was put here. It was the only way to get my attention.

So, I arrived in California in April, and from April to December, all I did was watch TV and stuff my face. By Christmas 2007, I weighed 240 pounds. I had gained about 60 pounds. That definitely got my attention.

I made my resolutions for the New Year, I was going to lose weight and get out of my funk. I was going to do this by leaving the house everyday with my husband. He works about 50 miles away from home, down the hill, away from the desert. My plan was to go to the bookshop everyday, I love books, I'm an only child on my mother's side, next to her, books have always been my best friends, and I knew I would find something, anything in the books I would be surrounded by. I stuck with it, and for almost every day in 2008, I rotated three locations. Barnes and Noble in Rancho Cucamonga, Barnes and Noble in Montclair and Borders in Victoria Gardens, Rancho Cucamonga. My husband would drop me off in the morning, sometimes when he could, come and have lunch with me and then pick me up at the end of the working day. It got to a point when I thought the staff in those stores probably thought I was homeless, and in a way, I was. I stuck with it for the whole year!

I started with reading Christian books, soon I started getting angry with God and I moved to self help, and then New Age, then Psychology, then Philosophy, then more self help. Then I went on to Biographies and Auto biographies. Slowly, I was healing, slowly I was getting some answers, I was also getting the right questions so that I could get some more answers. Thankfully, I was losing weight in the process, I would get my coffee or tea in the morning and I was so engrossed in what I was reading that food was not my priority. My spirit and my soul were hungry!

Slowly, I started loosening up and I could start reading the magazines that I have loved forever, but in the beginning, I couldn't even go near the magazine section, it was that bad. But when I finally broke the spell, I devoured the magazines like textbooks for an exam. I learnt a lot.

I can comfortably say that I read over 1,000 books. I know this because I kept the titles in my journals. Oh yes, I did a lot of writing too, I went through six journals that year. The books which stayed with me, the ones I keep going back to (I bought a lot of books too....I wasn't just free loading....) are virtually all of Julia Cameron's books. Starting with The Artist's Way, which I actually brought with me from Ghana. The one that really really got me through that dark desperate time of my life was Answered Prayers. It made me know that one day, the pain would go away and life would be better.

I remember how lonely I was, I would PRAY that someone would just come and talk to me. Once in a while someone would smile and say hello, but that would be it. A Mary Kay lady approached me once and I thought I had found a friend.....I didn't really know about the whole Mary Kay thing. But I did find one friend, and she has been a wonderful part of my life to this day.

Today's lesson in Flying lessons is about community. And that is what has inspired this pouring out of my soul. Back in Ghana, I had so many people around me, my family, my staff, my clients and my friends. It's not that I didn't appreciate them, I did, but it's life, and cycles and re invention. It had to happen, life needed to be re invented. I really do miss my life, I miss being in charge, I miss having control, I miss earning my own money, I miss making an impact on my clients' lives, I miss my friends. Most of all, I miss me.

So, back to the story. At the end of 2008, I had completed my 'bookstore healing', lost the weight and I was ready to take the next step. The next step was going back to school. I mentioned Julia Cameron being a big part of the healing process and I knew that Art was going to be a big part of the next phase of my life. So I went to Community College. I took classes in Art, Fashion, Interior Design, Floral Design, Photography and Yoga. It was the absolute best time of my life. Yes, after a twelve year career in almost all these areas, everybody wondered why I needed school, but it was the best medicine ever. I made new friends, between my fellow classmates and my professors. I had the freedom to create without the fear of a client criticizing me. I got my 'mojo' back! It was wonderful. I also became part of a new community and while it was great, I also knew it was transitional, I still hadn't found my tribe.

I mentioned that I miss my friends, and I really do. My best friend and my mother called me practically every day. They kept me alive. My husband supported me the best way he knew how, he is the love of my life, my best buddy, and a good provider with a kind, gentle and generous spirit, but I know he was frustrated because he alone was not enough. I still needed to find my tribe, people, women who were just as complex, sensitive, emotional, creative beyond measure like myself. I have to be honest, there were a number of my professors who I really clicked with, but we had to keep the professor/student protocol going. I haven't been able to reconnect with them, now that I'm no longer their student.....I have to work on that.

At the end of 2009, it was time to 'get serious' about the future. I thought I was fine, I thought I had healed completely from my life of self abuse, doubt, insecurity, mediocrity and all those other demons which are part of the creative soul's process. In hind sight I hadn't. The practical thing to do was to get my MFA in Fashion Merchandising. I told myself that there were a million other designers who were much better than I was, so since I still wanted to work in Fashion and since I thought I was such a disaster business wise, I made a decision from the 'head' and not from the heart. I was going to learn the business of finding and promoting other talents. I was going to find a way to sit front row at the Paris couture shows like Anna Wintour. I obviously still hadn't found the courage to bring forth the best of my creativity to this new world I had found myself in. I still wasn't good enough. But I was going to 'learn' how to be good enough. I didn't know I was enough.

I started the MFA and it was great. When we were asked for a minimum of two page papers, I would write ten pages. I was really excited about what my life was going to be like, finally, I had found my way....or so I thought.

In June, I was wondering why, after three plus years, I wasn't getting pregnant, I knew I wasn't ready, but I was just curious. So I went to see my doctor and after an ultrasound, she said it was very unlikely that I could get pregnant because of uterine fibroids, and that even if I did, I couldn't carry the baby to term. Here I was, I thought I really didn't want children, or that I wasn't ready, but the news was devastating. You know how when you're told that you can't have something! That's when you want it even more!

And in the 'wanting it more', I became pregnant a month after I was told that I couldn't. I was happy, but all my plans had been seriously disturbed. I thought I could be superwoman and still take 8 classes per semester; 3 for the MFA and 5 in Community College. Prior to this, my goal was to have three certificates; in Interior Design, Fashion Design and Art alongside the MFA in Fashion Merchandising. I was fighting hard to keep things normal, but it just wasn't going to happen, I had to drop the classes I had enrolled for one by one.

This is when I met Kelly Rae, finding her art is just like meeting the artist. My friend had told me about some art she thought I would like so she took me to a shop in Upland. It was love at first sight, I wanted them all. After going back and forth, with the shop owner smiling, I'm sure she had seen this happen so many times, I finally decided to pick one of the dolls. Her name is Faith. The lady in the shop also mentioned that the artist was pregnant too, and that she had heard that she was a really nice person. I felt an immediate connection.

In the meantime, I had my first 'episode', I was contracting and I had to be admitted into the hospital. The pain I felt was like nothing I had ever felt before, but the fear of losing the baby was even worse. I was in the hospital for about a week and when my doctor released me, he said, the only hope I had of doing this was that I was going to be on bed rest for the rest of my pregnancy. I had six months to go and I had to give school up completely.

So, here I was stuck in bed, the internet and television my constant companions. But I had a new best friend. Faith. And these were the things Faith said to me every time I looked at her.

Believe in healing.
Trust the possibilities.
Embrace your truth.
Release your fear.
Celebrate the love that exists in your life.
Ask for what you need.
Listen to forgiveness.
Be yourself. Always.
Nurture your soul.
Hold onto your hope.

These were the words that stared at me every moment of every day. When I asked how I was going to stay sane in bed. Those were my answers.
When I asked if I could be strong enough to carry the baby to term. Those were my answers. When I asked how I was going to be a good mother. Those were my answers.
When I asked what i was going to do with the rest of my life. Those were my answers.

So, soon, the questions began to change.

I asked, how can I be a good mother, a good wife and still honor myself, especially my creative self. Faith gave me the answers.
Then I asked, do I really want to be this business mogul and sell other people's designs? Faith gave me the answers.
But I've made so many mistakes and disappointed so many people, my family, by walking out on them and leaving them to fend for themselves when I was the primary provider? Faith gave me the answers.
I left my clients and my staff in the lurch, clients who depended on me, staff who had worked for me for so long. Faith answered.
Do I dare bare my soul and create once again? Faith answered.
Am I good enough? Faith answered.
Can I do this is America, when there's already so much out there? Faith answered.

And then came better questions and declarations.

I still want to make women feel and look beautiful. Faith smiled.
I still want to build my own empire and leave a legacy. Faith smiled.
I know I can do this, I have been called! Faith smiled.
How can I not do this! What was I thinking??? Faith smiled knowingly.

In the meantime, I had been following Kelly Rae and her own experiences through child birth, I have to say, she prepared me even more than any book could have through her writing on her blog.

So, here I am today, on that journey. Stepping out in Faith. Flying in faith.

So, back to the desert. (I told you it would all come together!). I have come to respect the desert. There is no other way that the Universe could have been able to get my attention. The desert has been a mirror of my soul. And now that I have come to this point, I don't know how, but I know the days of dryness, the days of the desert are almost over.

As I continue to 'howl loudly, so that my pack can find me', as I continue to stay true and authentic, as I continue to embrace all the complicated parts of myself, as I continue to be the best woman, wife, mother, daughter, friend, artist , designer I can possibly be, the life of green nature will find it's way back to me and I know it will manifest very soon. In the form of moving back into green, fresh nature, in the form of a community of strong women, in the form of authentic success.

I look forward to green. I look forward to becoming a part of something bigger than me. I look forward to doing my part and doing it excellently and with a heart full of love.

I have so much to look forward to, and for that, whilst still in the desert, I have found a way to be thankful.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Big and Beautiful....there's just more of you to love!

I've never been skinny. My smallest size has been size 10, and that happened because I fell under the false illusion that living in America, I could never wear the fabulous designer wear I saw on the runway if I wasn't skinny. Now don't get me wrong, I still believe in being healthy and fit, there's nothing like it, when you're strong and full of vitality when you're taking care of yourself.

On a very personal note, I had been told by my doctor that I couldn't have children, I accepted my fate and went about my life and in the quest to become (hopefully) a size 8 so that I could fit into all the clothes that I had been dreaming about, I joined Weight Watchers and took up Yoga. Less than two months into WW, I became pregnant. I have no doubt in my mind that getting fit and healthy was a strong part of the process.

But that's not the topic of the day. In my business, I made clothes for a lot of women who were much bigger than I was. They would walk in, see me wearing something and say something like, "You look nice, but I know that will not look good on me", and I always told them that they were wrong. I would go on to say that all you need to look good no matter what size you are is a defined waist and a 'held together' stomach area, and there's so much help out there with that....girdles, spanx etc.

Anyway, I stumbled on this lovely website today, Curvalicious Clothes and found these beautiful clothes. It just reminded me of my leave no woman untouched by her own beauty! And I hope to focus much more on the subject as we go along. Thanks to the fabulous Auretha Callison at Intuition Image Styling and Coaching for posting this website on her Facebook page and reminding me of another part of my purpose!

Enjoy and be inspired! And remember, there's just more of you to love!

More inspiration soon!

Friday, August 12, 2011


Since I know (or I hope!) that a number of my fellow artists will be coming this way for the next couple of weeks, I decided to share this little story.

I made this painting a while ago, very unintentional, I was actually cleaning my brushes during a class and I didn't want to throw any paint away, I hate throwing precious paint away! So, I cleaned by brushes and used the remaining paint on a clean canvas sheet. I remember my instructor coming by and making a face.....and I had to tell him I was just cleaning my brushes.

I took it home and I liked it, so I put an inexpensive frame around it and hung it in my little 'gallery'.

Fast forward two years, and I was 'voyeuring' as usual, and this is what I found! Coco & Hearts! Here were paintings similar to mine for sale and virtually flying off her 'virtual' shelves. I really love her art and the colors are so refreshing!

Her bigger ones below are equally refreshing and beautiful. I'm so inspired!

So, as I said, this is about courage! Courage to put our work out there with confidence! And I wish I could take my own advice and I hope by posting this, I'm declaring to the Universe that I'm ready to be courageous.

It reminds me of what my first water color instructor said on our last day of class...."People go to galleries all the time and criticize art and say things like, 'my three year old could have painted this!!!!'....and maybe that's true. But that's not what it's all about. It's about us as artists believing in our work and having the courage to put it out there, for people to love, to hate, to criticize and to buy"

So, step by step, I am learning to be more courageous....I hope you are too!

Have a lovely weekend!


This week has been exactly what I needed to get back on track! As I mentioned in an earlier post, I'm taking an E-Course with the lovely Kelly Rae Roberts. It's so wonderful to be in a community of like minded people. We're all artists, in different areas, sharing our hopes, dreams, fears and challenges. It just makes me feel so normal!

I'm in the process of 'consolidating' I mentioned, I have three blogs because I felt these three areas of my life were so different! But wasn't that why I became "Leonarda....Renaissance Woman" in the first place?! Because my interests and talents are so diverse! And I myself am diverse.

I'm African, I love fashion, I make fashion, I love interiors, I design interiors, I love flowers, I make/paint/arrange flowers. I like nice pretty things! I like looking at them, I love making them. This is who I am and who I want to be. In my old business, I took care of all my clients' needs, whether it was clothes, interiors, events, gifts, cakes, flowers, wedding me, it's all one and the same thing!

So, today, I surrender! I'll still keep the other blogs just to post pictures of related work, and also the FB pages. But it is here that I will be committed to sharing who I am with the world!

So, as my profile reads, it'll be about

Fashion.....My first love!

My own Fashion......

Fashion from decades past....real glamour!

Strong, Vibrant, Bold African Fashion.....

My own humble art.....

Art from other artists who inspire me.....

My own Interior Decor and Design......

The work of other fabulous interior designers......

Serious architecture and design......

My own flowers.......

Flowers in every form possible.....

Women who inspire me........

A celebration of women, femininity, friendship and strong partnerships......

And above all, a celebration of random creativity!

See you!