Fangirling: Valerie and Alicia

If the cosmos announced I could have dinner with anyone of my choice, I would immediately say Alicia Keys and Valerie June.

“But from this side of life, I can see how every moment, every experience, every pivot, even my supposed missteps have been life’s way of getting me where I have always been meant to go. Rather than resisting the current, I’ve learned to surrender.” Alicia Keys

“Positivity is a practice. It is work and it’s a job and dreams are work… They’re not like cotton balls and fluffy and soft. They’re more like grit and dust and work,” Valerie June

Recently I listened to Alicia Keys’ memoir, “More Myself: A Journey.” When I am having a really good day, the kind of day when I feel like I can shoot laser beams of energy out of my fingertips, Alicia’s “Girl on Fire” is the song blaring in my internal jukebox. Other than this song and “Fallin” I knew very little about the artist. Listening to her on the audio version of her book made me a fan. I was drawn to how she cultivates inner knowing, how she stays true to herself and her art and how she works to make a difference for the greater good of all.

About the same time, I read about an artist from Humboldt, Tennessee who had just released a new album “The Moon and Stars: Prescriptions for Dreamer.” My first listen to her music was one morning while getting ready for work. The opening of “Call Me a Fool” had my full attention, I had to stop and just sway. I played it again. On the next song, “Cosmic Dancer” I became a Valerie June fan. After a dive into her Instagram and You Tube, I found meditations that she leads for her followers. Best of all, her accent is similar to mine! It made me realized how rarely I hear true Southern accents in mass media. Her music also reflects a yoga practicing, meditation practicing Southern who is well versed in the musical traditions of West Tennessee and Memphis. Yeah, I’m a total fan girl.

In yoga we talk about “doing the work.” Besides showing up for practice and meditation, the work is also the processes becoming the best version of yourself. For me this is done through continued learning, self-reflection and a spiritual practice. I hear the results of doing the work reflected in the words and music of Alicia and Valerie.

Valerie’s book of poems, “Maps for the Modern World” came out on April 8th. She celebrated with a live event with Strand Bookstore. I did what all fan girls do, I lurched a ticket and was there via Zoom. The reading was fun. Her book is the result of creativity coming through her. She sees the collection as a map to create practices for tuning oneself, similar to how one would tune a guitar, to take the best self and energy into the world. It is not easy and not perfect. It is a practice.

Also on the 8th, I received an email from a friend that listened to the Alicia Keys audiobook on my recommendation. She wanted to know if I would like to go see Alicia on June 30th at an outdoor amphitheater. YES! Of course we did what Gen X fan girls do, we bought seats as close to stage as we could!

I’ll let you know if the cosmos set up the dinner.

Playlist made for you: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/72M5TPAAkLsgnQsr3CCxOV?si=Wm_chBrMSdu9O6ulPfUmcg

“life, we don’t get what we ask for. We get what we believe. And what we believe about ourselves shows up in our energy. It’s how we walk into a room. It’s how we communicate, through body language, ‘I don’t deserve to be here.’ It’s whether we sit up straight or hide out in the back of a meeting. At times, my own energy has been saying, “I’m cool with the bare minimum. Don’t give me more.” Alicia Keys

I love you. Like a fall leaf dancing. And twirling in the wind. Softly landing, Returning to the warm earth. Rest Make new Begin Again -comfortably Valerie June

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