Issue 01: Self Reinvention
“When I dare to be powerful – to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid. ” – Audre Lorde
Sometimes we make shifts in our lives of necessity; often in response to trauma or unexpected circumstances. Yet other times we make more calculated shifts, doing so boldly and with purposefulness. In either case, it is almost always an act of self-preservation. It is impossible to show up for a new phase in our lives with the same arsenal of attitudes, resources, and habits. Self-reinvention can be frightening, but it is also beautiful. Issue 01 gives our community — the women of the fruit — a communal space to share the experiences, fears, lessons, and celebrations that have defined their journeys of self reinvention.
Forward: Intuitive Fruit
Queneisha J. Harvey
LRM Founder/ Creative Director & CURATOR
As the creator of LUXE RADAR MEDIA, I am honored to lead THE FRUIT’s premiere ISSUE 01 Self Reinvention with this forward. For those who have been here since we started four years ago as LUXE RADAR, thank you for staying on this ride with us. For those of you who are new and gravitated to the brand because you felt something spoke to your spirit, welcome. With a smile on my face, I welcome you to the new LUXE RADAR MEDIA. I hope it feels like home or familiar like good conversation with your girlfriends.
I wouldn’t call my journey to this point smooth, but it was still beautiful.
I felt a lump in my throat as my chest moved up and down rapidly. I was trying to control my breathing and hide the fact that I was a nervous wreck on the inside. I wasn’t expecting my pregnancy test to read ‘Pregnant.’ I knew my whole life was about to change drastically and I couldn’t even fathom what this journey was going to look like for me.
At the time, I was working part-time, living at home with my mama, and working tirelessly to build a digital space for women to feel inspired about their life and dreams. There were times when I felt like an imposter because I wasn’t entirely practicing the positive things we were promoting on the beautiful web pages. Managing my emotions and the digital brand became a lot. As a new mama-to-be, I knew I needed to shift my focus to create stability for my baby girl and for myself.
I made the decision to take LUXE RADAR down and give myself time to reimagine the brand’s existence.
I wouldn’t be building a brand as a single, twenty-something woman doodling ideas on napkins and stuffing them back into the bra of my hostess uniform until my shift was over. I would be a mother, managing a household, a career, and life in between. Whatever LR was going to be, it needed to be big, impactful, and produce an experience that uplifts spirits to new, healthy spaces of self-discovery. I needed it to work and more importantly, mature from a hobby into a business.
So I basked in motherhood and I waited for the whisper.
A year and half later, I was listening to one of my favorite wild woman speakers Sarah Jakes Roberts and she began speaking about “the fruit of the spirit.” There was my whisper. That’s it! I felt the conviction, I loved the symbolism that THE FRUIT represented. I immediately began to think about all of the things we go through as women and how we still try to remain in love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness.
At this point, I had already decided that I would add “media” to LR’s name to expand the vision and switch the platform’s direction to be more of social storytelling space versus another lifestyle-focused online magazine. The new platform will be a space where us women can commune and connect with our stories. LUXE RADAR MEDIA would offer light to the experiences we often think of as dark or sad.
Guided by Galatians 5:22, THE FRUIT is a collection of stories told across various mediums, from women organically sharing their experiences with each other with the intent to heal. We are taking those stories and experiences and preserving them as art.
My personal journey inspired the theme of Issue 01; choosing to walk away from the brand and letting go stretched me further than I could have imagined. But now the vision is bigger and my connection to our tribe is more authentic.
I want to leave you with good fruit before I let you get into the rest of the issue:
Sometimes you have to let go of everything you know to be reinvented. Don’t claw over scraps when you can sit at a table where the feast is endless. Don’t get too wrapped up in your own ability that you forget to lean on faith.
Trust me, letting go is the first step in the reinvention process and it ain’t easy. But I can guarantee that once you get that whisper guiding you in the right direction, your transformation is bound to produce good fruit.
All Love + More Light! I am proud to introduce Issue 01 Self Reinvention.
Love Got Me Here
Krystle Carter Word
LRM Managing Editor
Love has pushed me towards every meaningful leap I’ve ever made. It wasn’t until a friend sent me a YouTube video clip from Dr. Maya Angelou titled “Love Liberates,” that this concept really set in on me. I knew that the love of family and friends had encouraged me and given me a certain sense of safety. However, I did not pause to really put into perspective how much that genuine and unconditional love had liberated me.
Often, we are told not to concern ourselves with others’ opinions of us. Typically, this is sage advice. However, there can be great value in seeing yourself as those who love you see you. Many times, I’ve needed to manifest courage or discipline that I had not yet honed. I have faced challenges that I didn’t believe I was ready to tackle. I found myself sitting at tables where I wasn’t convinced I belonged. I looked upon journeys that I was too afraid to set out on. Yet I started each time. Sometimes I arrived fully in tact, other times scathed, and in the most beautiful moments I came out shining. None of these shifts in my trajectory or changes in the way I defined myself would have been possible if I had listened to the fears echoed by my inside voice.
Truly liberating love gives you permission to live your life in a way that sets you on a path to fulfilling your heart’s desire
My very first memory is of my mother towel drying me on her lap when I was about three years old. I’d just gotten out of the bathtub. The bathroom was small, but not tiny. I don’t remember what color it was, but the light bulb was yellow, not white and the radio was playing. She wiggled my toes in an exaggerated way as she dried each one. My mother always talks about how I was not much of a lap baby and that I did not like to be held. Ironically, I remember that after she dried me off she wrapped the towel around me, hugged me and rocked me for a while. I don't remember anything she said that day. But I do know that my earliest memory is love.
It has not just been the love of my parents and family that have given me the nerve I have needed to reinvent myself; sometimes with decisiveness and calculation and other times in haste and out of necessity. Nonetheless, I have had mentors and images, both real and imagined that have provided lessons in love that has kept me on course. Janie’s decision to let Tea Cake love her, taught me to never to “...sit and wait for love to begin.” Savannah, Bernadine, Gloria, and Robin showed me that grown women still need their best friends. And Jadine (after several reads, cause Morrison is complex as hell), helped me to understand that choosing you is not always easy, but it is an act of self-love. Truly liberating love gives you permission to live your life in a way that sets you on a path to fulfilling your heart’s desire...no matter how many times you may have to reinvent yourself along the way to get there.
WOMEN OF THE FRUIT STORIES
from women sowing good seeds | to bear good fruit
Reflection of a Mirror
There was a time that I didn’t see myself as beautiful. I would shy away from seeing myself in the reflection of a mirror. As a young girl, I never truly felt as though I fit into the crowds. I was the shy, socially awkward girl with fair skin and curly hair who always felt different. I wore my heart on my sleeve and other young kids who were around knew it.
As a young girl, I can recall just wanting to make friends. I never really knew why those my age didn’t connect with me. I remember being bullied for my quirks, for the loudness of my laugh, for physical attributes that I had no control over. I would wonder if something was wrong with me. All that I wanted was to experience a genuine friendship and not in a romantic sense either.
Those feelings of being misunderstood and unsure of who I was would later find it’s way back to me as years went on. I was bullied for so many years that the pain would find comfort within my mind, heart, and soul. The words and wrong doings of the people who hurt me would find comfort lying into the corners of my bones.
It took me years to love every part of myself not only physically, but mentally, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually as well. I admit not every day is perfect. Not every day I feel like myself. But, that’s okay for those days do not define who I am. For even in the midst of those days where I feel uncertain, I am still beautiful. Even in the midst of reflection upon my past, I am still worthy. Even in the midst of heartache, I still deserve the beauty of love in every way.
It took me years to love every part of myself not only physically, but mentally, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually as well.
My Mother’s Makeup
I sit at my mother’s vanity and play with her makeup. It’s a ritual I performed repeatedly as a child. This time is different, I’m an adult now — too old for dress up, too old for fantasy. I should already be who I planned to be when I grew up. But I indulge anyway, for the sake of the youth I still cling to.
I hear my newborn wailing for me downstairs. I know my husband is cupping him in one arm as he fumbles to get our toddler dressed. I know I should hurry to help them all, but I don’t this time.
I’m too transfixed by my mother’s assortment of iridescent eyeshadows, her deep violet eyeliner, her red liquid lipstick. Because today I woke up 50lbs more than what I’m used to. I woke up feeling like I was in a foreign body. Today I woke up still tired, I woke up covered in the spit-up and sweat of other people. Today I woke up feeling like I didn’t really recognize myself.
So, I sit at my mother’s vanity and I decide to don a face of my own design. I grab a brown eyeshadow so dark it may as well be black and I smudge it on recklessly. I line my eyes in plum until I look sickly. I release the cap on the red liquid matte and lather my lips. My reflection grins and I laugh at how overstated I’ve made my face in relation to who I am.
I hear my son shout, which means he’s copying my husband, which means my husband must be calling for me to speed it up. I rush to wipe the makeup from my face. Playing in my mother’s makeup like a child is a private thing. The makeup is a secret I decide to keep with myself.
The eyeshadow comes off easy, the eyeliner takes a little work. But the lipstick does what it’s meant to do and it sticks. It sticks and suddenly I’m anxious. I scrub and I can’t get it off. I’m like Lady Macbeth in a frenzy to hide the evidence that might expose me. I feel trapped in it. I’ve got to get out of what I look like. I move to take my shirt off. The crewneck I’m wearing looks stupid, now, looks too young for me. It’s a little too short, too, and reveals that I’m still wearing maternity jeans seven weeks after delivery.
I felt I was a well of untapped potential, deeper than anything a conventional life could unearth.
When I could breathe I thought no one would notice the stretchy black fabric, holding my pants up. But now that I’m panicking I know that everyone will notice what it signals about me. There’s no way I could front as anything other than someone’s tired mother. You can smell the breastmilk on me. Motherhood seeps through the sight of me.
I sit at my mother’s vanity under the weight of all that I’m not anymore. I see her face in my face. I see her hands in my hands’ subtle gestures with her many blush brushes. We are so much alike that we punish each other for it. We’re so different we often can’t communicate across the divide.
My mom’s not an unusual woman, and I’ve always chased the unconventional. I’ve never questioned her strength, but I judged what life led her to do with it. It seemed she thrust all of her will into my brother and I, and so I decided that when I was grown I’d save my strength for myself. But I’m older than she was when she had me, and I find myself depleted in the face of my dreams. Every ounce I said I’d give to me is split between my family of four.
I now see the ordinary trajectory of her life as an extraordinary feat. I see them less as necessary gestures that she carried out to take care of us, and more as means of holding onto herself. I see how much work it took, work unrewarded, work unacknowledged. Graduating from college. Going back for her masters. Working her way from Red Lobster waitress to teacher, from teacher to school administrator. This, on top of the lonesome and ceaseless work of being a mother.
As people tend to when it comes to the work of Black women, I underestimated her contributions. It took being in her shoes to see my mother the person, not my mother the mother, not my mother the example to draw from, not my mother the means to an end.
I give back my mother’s personhood as I feel mine slipping through my fists. I am her second baby and I’ve just had my second baby. My second baby swallows the gaps in the day that used to belong to me and I feel more and more like I exist solely in service to others. Did my mother feel this way? Does she sometimes still? Can I quiet the feeling and learn to serve both my goals and my children?
A part of me always foolishly felt above the narrative of her life. I felt destined to transcend our house that looked like all the other houses, in our town that looked like so many other towns, in a life that looked like so many other lives. I felt I was a well of untapped potential, deeper than anything a conventional life could unearth.
But more often than not these days, I find myself wondering if I even have the strength to match my mother. I find myself struggling to manage the work I thought I was beyond. I find myself looking a lot like my mother but with half the resolve.
If I am a deep well of untapped potential, my waters have migrated from her reservoir. My children fill their buckets from my depths. In her mirror I reconcile the me that I am in relation to her, and the me that I am in relation to my kids. How much of me do I get to keep in my mother’s makeup, in my postpartum body? How much of herself did she give up when she had me? Did she grieve her potential self like I mourn who I thought I was?
One month before my twenty fifth birthday, I am not who I thought I’d be. I don’t look like I thought I’d look. I don’t do what I thought I’d do, or have what I thought I’d have. My life more closely resembles everything I once swore against than that which I sought out. I’m not interesting or alluring to most people, because my life is a story most people have heard (if they aren’t already living it). But I’m learning to value my narrative anyway. I’m learning to find the extraordinary in this ordinary life of mine. I owe it to every woman who has done this work, too, and felt invisible for it, unseen.
There is no peace prize for the profound work of motherhood. There is no genius grant for the troublesome task of making divided ends meet. There aren’t accolades for making it to the end of a day that feels like an endurance test. We must adorn ourselves in makeshift medals and titles.
Today I leave my mother’s lipstick on as tribute to her. I blend it with a bit of my own as tribute to myself. I smudge golden glitter on my eyelids, like a gold star sticker on a job well done. I decide that the average life I’m leading is led pretty damn well. I sit at my mother’s vanity and I see myself in my mother’s makeup — and I see her, too. I descend the stairs to my children and get back to work.
Piecin’ It Together
Los Angeles, California
Song THAT AIDED HEALING: She Lives in My Lap- Outkast
I learned pretty early the dichotomy of stress and the way we as women coddle it. There is no middle ground for going through it. Either it’s something you keep balled up in the pit of your stomach, growing it, feeding it and then allowing it to eat you from the inside out. Or it encompasses your life and you wake up and fall asleep to the quickening of your pulse as the anxiety kicks in.
Secrets are whispered until they’re shouted and problems are ignored until they implode. Self-reinvention is a part of self-preservation as we piggyback off of mothers, aunts, sisters, cousins, friends and our own experiences so we’re not starting from scratch. Me and women like me too often carry our burdens silently until our arms give out and we get angry that no one noticed we needed help.
Until recently, I measured my transformations in the eyes of others. How so and so would feel to discover that I lost weight, made more money, got promoted, upgraded cars and so on and so forth. These commitments weren’t for me and they felt hollow. The adage does a tree falling in the woods make any noise had turned into does an accomplishment without outside eyes feel just as good? I became obsessed with the process of transformation while avoiding all of the work.
In the midst of evolving, I realized that feeling broken is far less scary when you believe in yourself to put it back together.
I wanted the mental space of a monk, the body of a fitness guru and large discretionary income all while spending money, comparing lives and rescheduling change for tomorrow. I believed maturity was hiding behind every birthday and new habits kicked in at the top of every year. This lack of instant change was stressing me out. My career wasn’t moving fast enough, my body wasn’t staying young enough and I overall didn’t have it together. I felt like a house of cards, standing but waiting to collapse with even the smallest bump. I spent years ignoring any of my emotional pain by pitting it against others.
I had clothes on my back, food in my mouth and a house to go home to. I would line my trivial troubles up next to other women’s and shove them down, feeling sheepish that I’d even bothered to parade them out in front of people with “real problems”. When I finally decided to let them see the light my therapist informed me that I was sad shaming myself and, competing in the “Oppression Olympics” a competition that nobody wins.
I spent, and sometimes still spend, too much time thinking of all of the doors that I haven’t unlocked yet that I forget about all of the doors I’ve already passed through. From grieving through suicide to moving across the country, insecurity and generational curses I’ve begun unpacking baggage that has remained untouched for decades. I used to wish I could skate through life without conflict. That on the other side of this hump there was a promise land of peace devoid of problems.
I realized I was wishing for the wrong thing. I had so little faith in myself to pick up the pieces that I prayed for things not to fall apart. In the midst of evolving, I realized that feeling broken is far less scary when you believe in yourself to put it back together.
I wanted it to be you
In you I saw my whole world
In the dark I saw your light and all I ever wanted was to be your wife.
I soon found pain, and eyes deep with grief
but you cover and you hide under an nice/nasty abusive sheath
Your touch was orgasmic though I never had your heart
but I was so deep in your “Love”
I gave you mine from the start.
The vacations, the gifts, the long nights and longer talks
I savored them
each and every one of them all
but your words became callous and your stare soon felt cold
and I still was there
wanting, needing, giving my hand
for you to hold
But what you gave was silence, icy stares, and knives for words
and i still stayed
fighting with my love,
hoping with my light, your darkness could be purged.
although you never hit me, you killed me more with your words.
you chopped me down, made me small, I gave you all of my self worth.
it was all a sham the love between you and I
and it replays every moment of every day that passes by
you and I are no more and you have found a new prey
and I am thankful for the strength I found in me to stay away
This new girl that you've tricked, is not your love
And because I know you
and know this to be true…
there is no changing a narcissistic sociopath like you...
UK Visual Artist Ryanna Allen
We interviewed Ryanna Allen on her “To Womanhood” Visual Story. Check out what she had to say.
For more of Ryanna’s visual stories, be sure to follow her on instagram: IG @ry_collective
LRM: Our theme for this Issue 01 of The Fruit is Self-Reinvention. In what ways does your collection, “To Womanhood” represent reinvention (this can relate to a personal transformation, or perhaps your process or approach to your art)?
RA: I believe my work relates to self-reinvention, as I am always changing and evolving; allowing myself to learn new life skills and striving to perfect my craft in ways that suit my personality. I still have a lot to learn as I’m still experimenting and trying to find my own style. I love being inspired by mediums I am familiar with as well as unfamiliar mediums like film and sculpture.
As a black woman who felt very uncomfortable in my skin during my childhood and as someone who had to teach myself how to love blackness, I feel like it’s imperative that I focus on women of colour within my work
LRM: The caption on some of the images in the collection reads “Essence vs Vanity: A Constant Battle.” Will you elaborate a little more on how this subtitle furthers the theme is the collection?
RA: Essence vs Vanity: A Constant Battle” addresses the two spectrums that I am exploring with my work at the moment. My work explores what is means to be feminine and how femininity is expressed through women. Women are complex and multifaceted. Even though we traditionally epitomize vanity and beauty according to society there is another aspect of being a woman that touches on our values, traits and characteristics which is the essence of being a woman. These two are constantly intersecting with each other and women are typically seen as caring, loving, and powerful, whilst being delicate, elegant and expected to take pride in their appearance. In “To Womanhood” I specifically focus on the qualities and traits typically associated with women.
LRM: As with any artwork, visual art often has messaging beyond what the artist intends. Have you received any feedback or interpretation of “To Womanhood” that you hadn’t anticipated?
RA: Within my project “To Womanhood” I created a short film to accompany my work which entailed beautiful black women dancing and being themselves in front of the camera. In a scene of this short film there were two subjects. One of the models were leaning on the other’s leg reading a book on roman art and architecture. I received feedback from an individual mentioning that it’s interesting to see a black female reading a book like that because black women don’t read books like that. I thought that comment was very dismissive, but it encourages me even more to create content for women of colour as I feel it’s needed, especially in this period of time.
LRM: Has your work always focused on black womanhood? In your education/training have you found ample teachers and mentors who were women of color and could adequately understand and support your aesthetic?
RA: As a black woman who felt very uncomfortable in my skin during my childhood and as someone who had to teach myself how to love blackness I feel like it’s imperative that I focus on women of colour within my work; I want to be able to contribute to transforming the image of the black community as well as empowering people of colour. I have always been fond of documenting and photographing the black community and POC. Throughout education I have had mentors that were of two minds about the work I produce — some were very understanding even though they couldn’t relate themselves and some weren’t. I had to learn to continuously push my work even when some didn’t believe in it.
LRM: What is an important work by a black woman artist (visual or otherwise) that has impacted your journey?
RA: Work produced by black women, such as Alexis Eke, have had a massive impact on my journey in terms of visuals especially as of recent. I’m experimenting more with editing and how I capture my images. I love my beauty and softness that is displayed in their work, as well as the message conveyed that women are beautiful and complex.
AT THE TABLE
AT THE TABLE is our new segment of questions used to build community around storytelling and healing. Use our questions as conversation starters while you’re at the table communing with family or friends. The questions are also great for personal reflections and journal writing.
How has your self reinvention journey revived you?
How has your self reinvention journey created a positive shift and given you more room to grow?
What prompted your decision that a self reinvention journey was necessary?
Who are you beyond your doubts, fears, and insecurities?
That concludes Issue 01: Self Reinvention.
We encourage you to join the convo in the comments below. What are your thoughts on the stories shared? Tell us your self reinvention story below.