If I am being honest, it’s been pretty hard for me lately. The theme of loss has been surrounding me for the past two months and at times the feeling suffocates me. Yet, through it all, I’ve found a safe space. I’ve found peace in areas of my life where I once feared. I’m learning to be more open about my experiences with people I trust and allowing my vulnerability to show. Tomorrow is not promised to us, so let’s lay it out all on the table. Let’s live honestly. Here is Vol. 3:
It took me thirty minutes to write this sentence.
Accountability comes in all shapes and sizes.
I sat on my dinner table and read over what seemed like a year’s worth of journal entries. Underlined, a quote from one of my favorite authors read, Continue reading Owning Your Truth
This summer I took the initiative of seeking and visiting a new therapist. Not only has this experience helped me navigate through the trauma I’ve had the difficulty of letting go, but it’s also forced me to understand my perspective on relationships, sexuality, feminity, and race. As I’ve taken some time to just live life, I also revisited old drafts of poems and recreated these pieces.
The past, present, and future are constantly in dialogue. They meet when I take the time to reflect. They force me to extract inspiration from my surroundings and appreciate life for what it is and less for what it “should” be.
I encourage you to do the same. Allow yourself to be vulnerable, unravel yourself and enjoy your process of reconstruction. Thank you to my beautiful friends Amy, Lydia, Natalie, and Vanessa and all the beautiful women who have inspired me throughout this process. This one is for you. Continue reading “Todo Llegara a Su Tiempo” Vol. 2 (poetry series)
I come from a league of brave women. The women in my life have taught me the value of compassion and faith while teaching me the importance of using my voice and defending my self-worth.
Today is a very special day as my alliance and I honor the birth of one of our leaders, my grandmother Rita Estrada. On behalf of all the superwomen in this family, I would like to wish you a very happy birthday.
I would like to thank you for blessing me with your endless wisdom that has guided me through some of the toughest times of my life. And I would like to thank you for being a beacon of strength, demonstrating through your gracious resilience that even when life seems unbearable, faith will help you withstand it all.
I love you dearly and I hope this year you are blessed with prosperity in love, health, and wealth.
Every so often we come across an artist who inspires us to reimagine what the future looks like. Their thought-provoking work becomes the trendsetting staple of the moment, shifting the way we speak, dress and overall behave.
Kami Haus is nothing like this. In fact, creator Tai Cole-Jay isn’t moved by the idea of creating a movement, he embodies that himself.
I had the pleasure of sitting with the Maywood native earlier this month to discuss product design, consumerism, authenticity and everything else that Tai stands for as an artist, creator, businessman and fashion enthusiast.
“I’d like to think of myself as a mastermind who will eventually take over the world with his genius plans. But honestly, I can’t fake what I do and pretend that I don’t care about what my product means to me and ultimately the consumer. I work too damn hard and I really care about the details of the process to worry too much about what others are doing or how I can make it to the top. I want to be one of the greatest, but I also want quality work put out and there’s a process,” said Tai as we discussed the importance of quality work.
His somnolent voice and placid attitude may give off the wrong impression to some, but it’s clear that this guy isn’t just chill to be “cool”. He’s not interested in wasting time fixating over what others think of him unless it’s genuine. Tai shares that despite the shifts that have been made to Kami Haus within the last year, he’s proud of his accomplishments.
But most of all grateful for the genuine interest, feedback and support people have provided throughout his journey. He mentions that his own personal growth has helped him stay grounded, focusing more on developing a brand that means more than just a momentary fad.
I’m always going as hard as I can. Perhaps some product may be more simple than others, for example, my t-shirts. But it’s those minor details that matter to me and have truly been a testament to how much I have evolved. But in whatever I make, I am also trying to top the previous product, whether it be through the presentation, message or even the experience of how you engage with the product. I’m constantly at battle with my own creative self and not letting others define me or my brand. This what keeps me authentic. I really do try to stay away from all that’s out there released in the media. I just don’t let it influence my work.
Tai does mention that when the logo of his brand transitioned into the “Ankhor” design, he was influenced by a designer who inspired him to be more socially aware and overall reflective of what direction he wanted his brand to go.
The incentive to change the logo from the original “rising sun” design to making the seasonal “Ankhor” logo into the universal symbol for the brand was brought to my attention long before. But it was when a designer, who’d shown her admiration towards my brand during a pop-up event, that my attention changed. She gave me her genuine thoughts on my logo, and I just couldn’t help but listen. I use to be stubborn about what people had to say about the “rising sun” logo, especially since I was aware of its positive consumer criticism. But I knew ultimately if I want this brand to eventually become bigger than me or you, I had to listen.
Tai also shares that the transition wasn’t easy despite how compelled he felt to do it.
I wasn’t sure if people would react the same way because people instantly connected the new logo to a more aquatic, “boat” brand. Yet, I knew overall, it’s more about how you go about things and I had to trust myself because at the end of the day I knew I was in control of my reality. And I think that’s why I felt like this transition became so seamless, because the overall meaning of the “Ankhor” is a symbolic play on words, reflecting my new perspective on my brand by representing wisdom, fertility and insight on the highest level through the “ankh” along with the stability and endurance of an “anchor”.
As an enthusiast of fashion, Tai states that he enjoys and strides inspiration from women’s clothing, particularly bohemian and avant-garde brands such as Max Mara, Alice + Olivia, and Ted Baker. Tai believes that there’s a beauty in the creative process that comes with fashion design and hopes to deliver more of his creative ideas into his products.
I won’t say exactly what it is that I have planned, but just expect some more crazy, but dope shit to be out. Like I said, I’m not interested in the trends, I’m focused more on creating what I feel looks good, and means something better. All with time…
If you’re interested in learning more or purchasing from Kami Haus, visit his site at, www.buykami.com.
I have lived through some of the darkest hours of my life these past six months. While I struggled understanding why I had so much resentment towards the people I claimed to hold nearest to my heart and feeling extremely self-deprecating, I turned to the only thing I knew best to do and created this series.
I dedicate this to my mother and all the young women who are and have struggled with self-identity, loss, abuse, and forgiveness.
But it should also be said, it is an inevitable truth in Buddhist beliefs that suffrage exists and it is universally experienced. This series is a reflection of a lifelong lesson that I believe we all connect with, allowing us to be more humane towards one another. Let us continue thriving, reminding ourselves that soon our time will come, for, in the darkest hours, there is a sunrise offering us an opportunity to start over again.
I’ve always believed and said that womanhood is a self-definitive process.
But even within my own process I have struggled to find the words and meanings to the many feelings, thoughts and experiences I’ve had to deal with as woman. At 21, idealistically, most would say I have yet to learn what it is to be woman; I have not yet bared a child, raised a family, committed to my own solitude and taken full responsibility for my own self, or even learned to cook a pot roast.
And although all of that may hold some truth, there are things that women endure throughout their process, of which they shamefully ignore; tucking away our true selves like unwanted pairs of shoes.
As a young girl, I would observe my mother and admire how poise and strongminded she carried herself, especially through all the adversity she dealt with as both a mother and wife.
There were very few times when I would witness my mother step out of bound from her stern demeanor or merely see her shed a tear. But as most children do, intuitively I felt the tension she carried. I could feel the weight that burden her. And it wasn’t just my mother who I began to intuitively witness this type of tucked away pain. As my grandmother became progressively ill, I was the first to notice her disconnect from the world she loved so much. When my aunt, whom I’d idolized as a beauty queen, for she was the kind of women who would lighten up a room with her contagious laughter and bubbly personality, I quickly noticed the dullness in her smile after her separation from her husband. Although too young to understand the depths of what these women were dealing with, I knew something wasn’t right.
At face value, despite the difficulties they went through, these woman had it all. We all have problems, no one’s life is perfect, right?
Yet, what I found particularly interesting was how shocking it was for everyone else, when these women acted out of their “body”. When for one moment these women would lashed out all their internalized hate, as a consequence, eyes of shame would deem them or soft whispers of judgment would linger throughout family functions.
As I got older, I became a trapped inside the paradox of what I was told by women on how to become the proper lady and the misery that we all shared in following those jurisdictions.
Both mother and aunt introduced me to vanity, because to them presenting yourself in a pleasurable manner will indicate to others that you are mannered, amicable, and even intelligent. My grandmother introduced to me unconditional dependency, because she naively believed expanding yourself to the needs of others will make you feel fulfilling and people would repay you for all that you’ve done for them. Unconsciously I was taught that if I followed this path into womanhood, I would find true happiness, love and success. But within this paradox, I was foolishly taught to envy other women and compete with other women. Never was I taught to love other women especially under times of hardship. I was never taught to uplift other women and congratulate them for their accomplishments. And I was especially never taught to empower another women for her exploration of sexuality, but instead I was taught to deem them as less than for even remotely expressing any type of sexual liberty.
And growing up in a digital world only made it more difficult to feel satisfied with myself, for I saw what was alluded in women and what wasn’t. Very recently, I experience all of this at first hand when my partner become interested in a much older woman. I felt less than and emotionally I was crushed, but I tried to work it away, to tuck away the pain I was feeling. And when that didn’t work I foolishly believed that by following the guidelines to “How to keep a Man” provided by past women in my life, that it would make my relationship stronger.
So I did as instructed. I became dependable to all of my friends and family. Surrendering my true emotions, and naively believed that what people wanted was what they needed. I strived to always look my best, even when I was at my worst. And I believed that by maintaining those looks, someone would then love me for who I was internally and protect my well-being. I did everything I was supposed to do. But I was never truly happy. And my relationship dismantled before me.
I had reached a point where I desperately wanted to be as poised as my mother, as beautiful as my aunt and as loving as my grandmother. I just didn’t understand why it felt like I was chasing after something unreachable.
Feminist author Ariel Gore writes in her novel Bluebird: Women and the New Psychology of Happiness, “Our bodies and our imagination and our sleep patterns rebel when we try to trick ourselves into lives we don’t really want.” In her book, Ariel talks about the things that we all feel but have been shamed to say. She examines the contradictions of womanhood and how society infringes on a woman’s happiness.
As I read this book, I felt more in connection to the experiences that past women in my life endured and the outcome of it all.
“We’re made to feel selfish for making choices based on our own happiness instead of on other people or on our career. Sometimes I have to shake myself and say, “I’m not selfish! This is my life,” writes Ariel in Bluebird.
Following your happiness essentially is what womanhood should be about. I say it is self-definitive because we must follow our own paths to satisfy our happiness. There is no guideline to how to be a woman. But a true woman will understand to respect other women and their journey. Womanhood is such a beautiful journey. It took me sometime to realize that we all flourish different, but I’ve embraced mine & I am beginning to feel free.
And if there is any take away that I want you all to have from this is there’s nothing more beautiful or more powerful than the confident woman. Take the time to understand what makes you happy, your own values and goals. And embrace yourself, even when no one is there to applaud you for your accomplishments.
And remember to always Stay Golden.