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I AM Woman Cover Work

This project has been my heart focus for a couple of years now. When it first came to mind, I had no idea how I was going to achieve a cohesive product because my thoughts for it were/are all over the place.

Despite very sound advice to focus on one theme, idea, pattern and font to carry throughout the project, I don’t think, create or interact like that. I’ve photographed over fifty women in six states at different stages of their lives from completely different backgrounds. The one thing they were all asked was: What word would you use to describe your womanhood? (My theme.) From that we went about trying to portray each woman and her word in an image. (Completely different styles all around.) Aside from the question and their interest, very few had much in common. So as I edit these images, my primary goal is to make each one stand on its own and hopefully, as individuals they can be a collective together. That’s an overall hope for my life as well.

Below are some steps I’ve taken to get to the cover for I AM Woman: Expressions of Black Womanhood.

Now accepting pre-orders for a limited number of copies. Place your order at Harvest-Life.org/shop.

Original image and near final cover for I AM Woman: Expressions of Black Womanhood. All photography and edits by LaShawnda Jones.
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Is Who You Think You Are Your True Self?

Reflecting on interactions with a new co-worker.

Is who you think you are your true self? Some thoughts on the way a new co-worker is representing herself.

Things to consider:
✴️Point of origin is not final destination.
✴️Our expectations are what we look to fulfill. Reduce disappointments by changing/eliminating your expectations.
✴️You may be limiting yourself based on the limitations of your environment. Go beyond what you can see.
✴️If people or situations disturb your spirit, remain alert until you’re clear of the disturbance.
✴️You can choose to be a better version of youself every day. You are that powerful and so much more.

#whodoyousayyouare #people #woman #coworker #newjob #backtowork #systemshock #disturbedspirit #spirituality

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Third Trimester: Stretching for Home

For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling— if indeed, when we have taken it off, we will not be found naked.

~ 2 Corinthians 5:1-5

If life is a full term pregnancy processing us for birth into the afterlife, then I met Charlene B. Ware during her third trimester. Life is its own master course and we all become the product of our beliefs, choices, and actions while running our own great race.

When I met Charlene, she was nearing the end of several stages. Retirement was approaching, her second marriage was unraveling, and the West would soon be calling. Charlene was transitioning fully into her third trimester of life with all cylinders on change. So, I was blessed to meet a woman in the prime of her life who was embracing the unknown with joyful anticipation. She had been married, had divorced, and raised two children while working full-time.

Yes, we do have confidence, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.

~ 2 Corinthians 5:6-9

When I make friends, I tend to befriend the whole family on some level. I met Cherre during my college internship twenty-three years ago. Shortly after she introduced me to her Mama, Charlene. I don’t remember a lot of our first conversation details, but I do remember her warmth, welcome, familiarity and a whole bunch of shared laughter. When we met, I was nearing the end of my first trimester of life and was gifted with a bird’s-eye view of Ms. Charlene as she was entering her home stretch.

Being able to witness her fearless, vivacious approach to life has been a beautiful experience. Nearly twenty years ago, Ms. Charlene spread her wings in preparation of exploring freedom – life after work, life after divorce and a technical empty nest, life as a full-time grandma, and life as a pensioned retiree in the Valley of the Sun. I met her when joy came easy, and laughter was free flowing. That’s how I know her. This is how she is remembered.

In the society we are formed in, life offers only three widely accepted stages for women: daughter, wife, mother. Though variations abound, they are rarely respected or appreciated. Women who don’t hit and hold all three marks are seen as lacking. This shortsightedness can prevent us from embracing our true selves and growing into our promise. Fortunately, some brave souls can free their minds and unchain their souls from societal conventions and allow their eternal light to manifest in their mortal lives.

The young woman who left home chose to hold on to close relationships throughout her life. Ms. Charlene’s sense of personal liberation allowed her to choose love and marriage again yet still not be broken by its heavy yoke. The self-knowledge and awareness needed to live her best life guided her. Not only did she decide to live in a completely different environment from her first and second trimesters, her secret to thriving as a transplant in the desert was being within close proximity of the true loves of her life, Napoleon and Cherre.

Love and relationship are the ties that bind all the stages of Charlene’s life together. You don’t get to live such a vibrantly full life without committing wholeheartedly to your choices and their harvests. This willingness to embrace life, come what may, made room for the people she met along way – friends who were embraced like family, neighbors who were embraced as friends, and of course the family she loved as extensions of herself.

She departed how she lived: surrounded and embraced by the love of her children.

If we truly believe that what we bind on earth will bind us in heaven then Charlene B Ware prepared her whole life for her life beyond (Matthew 18:18). May she rest well in the embrace of her Creator.

For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them.

~ 2 Corinthians 5:14-15
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Exploring Love, Compassion & Character w/Cory, Ketanji, Chris, Jada, Will

In this video I explore love, compassion and character through recent public interactions with Senator Cory Booker, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, Chris Rock, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Will Smith.

“I want the world to see your character.” ~ Sen. Cory Booker

Definitions

Compassion: sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others

Character: the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual

Love: an intense feeling of deep affection

“I want to be a vessel for love.” ~ Will Smith

Reference verses:

Philippians 2:1-4 (love and compassion)

1 John 3:12-16 (love and compassion)

1 John 4:7-11 (love)

Romans 5:3-5 (character)

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IAW: Author Chat w/Abena Amoah

In February, I spoke with I AM WOMAN contributor, Abena Amoah. It was meant to be a 15-20 min conversation highlighting the poems and essay she submitted for my anthology about Black Womanhood. It became an hour-long conversation we both deeply appreciate.

The overarching themes in our conversation were womanhood (naturally!), motherhood, family, childhood sexual abuse and its carryover impact on adult development, freedom, writing process and personal joy.

I had wanted to do a shorter video for easier content breakdown and management. I will cut this into shorter segments for later uploads, but the flow of the conversation was so seamless, I decided to post the majority (the whole video was 103 minutes) first as a reference video.

You can order your copy of I AM WOMAN: Expressions of Black Womanhood in America here or on Amazon. Your online review is greatly appreciated.

Check out Abena’s other work on her site https://www.abenaamh.com/home.

“I’m not telling you that you have to tell your story. I’m telling you that you can.”

Abena Amoah
  • Work discussed (with approximate time marks):
    • To My Daughter inspiration (beginning to 7:45)
    • Scabs (7:50-13:15)
    • Writing process and recovery (13:15-18:00)
    • A Sermon Stands Before You (18:00-19:00)
    • What is womanhood to you? (30:25-33:00)
    • Setting boundaries (50:00-53:50)
    • Abena reads To My Daughter (53:50)

“Family does not have to go everywhere with me.
They aren’t angry about what happened to me. They are angry that I’m telling my story.”

Abena Amoah

A Sermon Stands Before You by Abena Amoah

1.
They did not tell you?
Women who break themselves
out of cages
fly with a hunger only their God can feed,
and you are no manna.

2.
She woke up one morning
and vowed to bathe herself daily in love.
Intentionally.
Softly.
Kindly.
Selfishly.
Loudly.
This, too, is her daily prayer.

3.
The woman of your dreams
is already in you.
Seek her.
Boldly.
Softly.

4.
A sermon stands before you

Those that remove each layer
revealing beneath scars that cause you to sit,
watch and listen.

~ Abena Amoah

To My Daughter by Abena Amoah

Because God has a way of letting us birth ourselves,
skin of my skin,
blood of my blood,
I have named you,
saved you a seat next to the sun,
light and warmth is inside you.
This is for the coldness of the world.

You will taste inside me
pain embedded in this skin.
You will feel the force of a push to
erase memories that have been my redemption.
You will touch dead skin
shed to keep others alive,
to keep men alive.
You will hear questions
that I have yet to find answers to — but this, I know.

You are of raw love —
the kind that breathes into you every day a new life.
You are of passion that burns —
the kind no one can put out without your permission.
You are made of strength —
the kind that leaves you standing tall
at the image of your scars.

You are of tears —
the kind that baptizes when your soul needs a savior.
You are made of beauty—the kind that is untouchable,
the kind that reflects the continent.
You are timeless.

You are made of God—
a kind that you won’t find anywhere except within you.
You are of God.
You are made of blood—
the kind that flows in your mother and her mother
and her mother’s mother,
the kind that births in you everything you
need in your falling and blooming.
And this, you will know.

~ Abena Amoah

“Some parts are ugly, but some parts are very beautiful.”

Abena Amoah
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Poem: Superpower

by LaShawnda Jones

He thinks his superpower
is his handsomeness

Beautiful though he is,
his gentleness was my kryptonite
Until his cavalier dismissiveness
left callouses on my heart

He was a super man
when his strength represented
shelter for my vulnerability
I would’ve given anything to explore
the known and unknown universe in his arms
Holding him as he held me
I would have sacrificed
my selfishness to be his
fortress of solitude
Nurturing him even as he fed me

Though I prayed for a man
who stands strong in his power,
I truly need one
who revels in wielding his gentleness
Everything I’ve asked for in a partner,
I’ve worked to be a match
Love is my fortifying mantle,
compassion a laser focus

His short-sightedness
didn’t allow for any hope of us
My disappointment paved the way
to my own origin story:
She who sought love from another
found it within herself.

Published in Fantasies Wide Awake

Purchase your copy here, on Amazon.com or BN.com

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Fantasies Wide Awake: Reprint + NFT Collection

In 2005, I self-published my first book, Fantasies: A Metamorphosis of Sexual Attraction. Over the last few months, I’ve been re-editing the text and images for a reprint. The new version comes with an updated title as well, Fantasies Wide Awake.

From out of print to reprint

The process of reviewing and re-editing my first literary and photographic venture became a journey of photo editing that evolved into creating a NFT collection of the final images.

Fantasies was photographed in Milwaukee, WI by two local photographers as work for hire. Lisa Richelle was the project photographer and took most of the images. Shalina Ali took the cover photo series. Shalina’s work was for a calendar I produced in 2004, VoLux Full-Figured Calendar. Some of her images did double duty in Fantasies as well, which was my first book and poetry collection. The cover for Fantasies was designed by Jon Polito later in New York City when I moved there; he also designed the covers. I used a vanity printer and ordered about 200 copies of the book, most of which were sold on 125th Street in Harlem. Quite the beginning!

For the 2022 reprint, I didn’t take any new photos, but I did pull in some images from other photo projects. This version also includes images by Jason Lam (NY), Qiana Reed (OK) and Willis Roberts (NY).

Re-visioning vintage

Shalina Ali and Lisa Richelle photographed on 35mm film. The book images were in black and white as the interior of the book was black and white.

My first edit for the reprint was focused on removing the background, smoothing out the lines and bright spots. Then tinted to a sepia tone. After sitting on that for a while, I came across a photo of flowers. From that point I began experimenting with making the images look more fantastical – like a bed of roses dipped in fairy dust.

Evolution of cover design for Fantasies. Photographed by Shalina Ali, 2004. Model: LaShawnda Jones.
Original black and white to current colorful composite. Photographed by Lisa Richelle, 2005. Models: Phil Griffin and LaShawnda Jones.
Black and white to sepia to color collage. Photographed by Lisa Richelle, 2005. Models: Jennifer Olsen and Phil Griffin.
Scans of original 35mm prints by Lisa Richelle and Shalina Ali. Models: Phil Griffin and LaShawnda Jones.

Buy your copy of Fantasies Wide Awake here, on Amazon.com or BN.com.

Dipping into the NFT pool

The idea to blend the bouquet of flowers with the sepia images came from a brainstorm of creating images that would present as solid NFT offerings. With each blending attempt, I loved the look more and more. By the time I finished layering and compositing the images for the NFT collection, I realized printing the 2022 version of Fantasies in full color with this collection would indeed be an actual refreshing of an old work.

As I explore the NFT photography spaces, please fill free to view my collections on OpenSea (HarvestLifer: https://opensea.io/harvestlifer). The Fantasies Wide Awake NFT Collection is viewable at https://opensea.io/collection/fantasies-wide-awake-2022.

Please be patient with me as I am new to crypto, digital art and monetizing virtual assets. Uploading images to the collection is a learning exercise on its own. With practice comes understanding. I recently realized that uploading and listing for sale are different functions. Important to this process is understanding crypto wallets, transferring crypto between platforms as well as the associated costs. Transfer fees and gas fees eat account balances extremely fast. Essentially, nothing is listed for sale yet because I’m still moving crypto around and testing the site for the best gas prices and times (lower fees). Eventually, I will list the images one by one for sale.

If you have any NFT pointers, please share!

#nft #digitalart #photography #phlog #indiepublishing #publisher #photoediting

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Umbrella Logo for All Trades

Rebranding has been, and will most likely continue to be, a long process. Perhaps its better to view this process as an evolution. Each stage of my entrepreneurial pursuits have been distinctly focused on certain elements of life.

I began as Jazzy Media in 2004, targeting sensuality and media. My work was about showcasing and promoting full-figured women. In 2014, I morphed into Spirit Harvest as it felt imperative to represent my shift from the flesh to the spirit. In late 2018, Harvest Life emerged to signify a period of harvesting everything that has been seeded in me.

Throughout the years, I’ve expanded my skills from writing and publishing to photography and real estate. Since life encompasses the totality of existence, I’ve really wanted Harvest Life to encompass everything I do to support myself. To this end, my biggest challenge has been figuring out how to join publishing, photography and real estate under one business umbrella.

Societal programing teaches that we focus on one thing and do it well for life. I’ve never towed any line well. I enjoy using different parts of my mind and applying my knowledge to different things. Learning new things and sharing new understandings is the joy of life.

Social media makes branding and rebranding seem simple. It can be, perhaps, when what you do fits into common formats. However, when you try to pull together disparate, somewhat unrelated industries as your primary services, branding and rebranding can become quite complex. Seeking help from *experts* hasn’t been helpful as they tend to guide you in the way of the common – the roads most traveled. It has been a waste of time and money trying to get *experts* to understand my uncommon goals. Without understanding, how could they possibly help me forge something from nothing? Or guide me towards manifesting my vision of making a living from the work of my hands?

As I’ve worked to create an umbrella logo and marketing plan for my writing/publishing, photography and real estate ventures, the questions I’ve been asking myself are:

  • How to create a structure that supports everything I want to build?
  • How to design a logo that encapsulates all I do?
  • How to promote myself and my services in a cohesive way?

I finally developed a very simple logo series to represent services I provide. Take a look below.

“A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one.” 

#branding #rebranding #logo  #logodesign #smallbusiness #entrepreneur #solopreneuer #photographer #builder #author #publisher #harvestlife #harvestlifer

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Video: “Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person”

by Alain de Botton

This is such a phenomenal human teaching.

Phrases I had to pause the video for (i.e., my notes):

  • Love is a skill, not an instinct. It needs time be learned. We’re taught to follow our feelings, which usually lead us astray.
    • Vulnerability is key.
  • We don’t know how to love.
    • To love someone is to apply charity of interpretation.
    • We start off with idealization and end up with denigration.
    • Love is not just admiration for strength, it’s tolerance for weakness and recognition of ambivalence.
  • We’re seeking partners that feel familiar.
    • We are not on a quest to be happy; we are on a quest to suffer in ways that feel familiar.
  • If you do not explain, you will never be understood.
  • Good enough.
    • None of us are perfect, but we demand perfection. The demand for perfection will lead us to loneliness.
    • You cannot have perfection and company. To spend time in company with another person is to be negotiating imperfections every day.
  • We are all incompatible, but it is the work of love to make us graciously accommodating to each other and our own incompatibilities. Therefore, compatibility is an achievement of love.
  • We aren’t able to change our type, but we can change how we respond to our type.
  • Compromise is noble.

Either/or, Part I free download: Either – Or (volume One) : Humphrey Milford, Oxford University Press : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive

Either/or, Part II free download: Either/or : Kiekegaard Soren : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive