• finessagalleria

In New Orleans, the cold weather has started making its arrival known. Fortunately for me, New Orleans winters are the mildest I've ever had. Unlike New England autumns that I'm used to, Fall weather here has been generous with an abundance of warm temperatures and sunny jacket-less daylight, even many beautifully warm evenings.

I don't know when it started, but the concept of hibernation has been on my mind since August. I've been thinking about it more and more as the seasons have changed over the past months. Initially, when I think about hibernation, I think about the groundhog that comes out or doesn't every year on the 2nd day of February, or of squirrels spending the Fall season gathering food for winter, or the bears that go into hiding during the winter months. Contemplating hibernation has been a silly reminder for me that some things are just intrinsic to us as mammals. As human beings, I think we get caught up in complexity sometimes. I myself have come to deeply realize that I often over-analyze myself and my feelings for comprehensive compartmentalization for everything to be neatly understood and packageable, rather than just being, or just feeling.

Intuition speaks through the mind, body, and spirit

The things we feel called to or that take up residence on our mind or our heart are not coincidental but intuitive, even if we don't fully understand them. Though superstars like Ash Johns swear by the practice of intentional hibernation, it's definitely new to me to be navigating it. For me, the challenge is allowing it to be simple, allowing it to be what it's going to be, and relinquishing the need to control, plan, and analyze to know exactly how it's going to go, exactly what it will or should look like. There are things that are obvious like repurposing my time more inwardly, taking a nice break from the world of social media apps, eating and drinking warm goodness, and cultivating my personal and physical sense of home.

Hibernation is the natural seasonal/physical/spiritual need to rest and restore self during the coldest time of the year. Hibernation is healing, hibernation is human. Cultivating warmth, creating a safe space to release and grow, and journeying inward go such a long way in this time of wrapping up the year and preparing to enter into the new one.

Even if you can't retreat to a cave for the next 4 months, I encourage you to join me in getting creative on how we can bring the energy of hibernation into your space this winter. Even if just in small ways. What are we leaving in 2021, what are we taking into 2022?

For me, I foresee lots of rereading old journals—every journal I can find. Checking some things off my must-reads list. Finishing and starting paintings. Working through my Little Book of Shadow Work (shoutout to Kemi Marie). Homemade soups and apple teas, and much studying (ya girl just became an apprentice of the art and practice of spiritual herbalism!!!!).

I've begun to set the vibes by setting time limits on my social apps to make that a smoother transition. I don't know exactly what this winter has in store for me, but I am determined to reflect, regroup, and reconnect with myself. On top of the challenges that come with this time of year, shifts in climate, and the actual time change, there's so much still to be processed from this year alone. The toll is real and at some point, we all need some rest and quiet quality time alone to unpack all the things and even to grieve. For me, it's sure to be a busy restful winter for and I am very excited to be present in this and to meet the me that awaits on the otherside. Intentionality gets sexy, I love it here.

Thank you for riding this stream of consciousness with me. I wish you the warmest, coziest, most healing-infused hibernation and holiday season. May you get all that you need this season. If you're hibernating with me, let's connect and share experiences, create mutual accountability, etc. Email me or drop a comment to connect. Happy Hibernating!

In community and with love,

the finesse goddess

  • finessagalleria

Updated: Sep 29, 2021

This week marks one month since the vicious arrival of Hurricane Ida.

Hurricane Ida Recap and Impacts

For anyone who may not be aware, 16 years TO THE DAY that Hurricane Katrina arrived on soil, Hurricane Ida arrived--August 29, 2021.

The devastation was immediate as residents all along Southeastern Louisiana lost power that morning before the rains of Ida even caught up. These folks would be out of power for a minimum of 10 days, as the vast majority of the region experienced power outages. Today there are still areas, towns, and even whole parishes (a parish is equivalent to what might be a county in other places) that are suffering without electricity and in some cases without water.

The Friday before Ida, we all got word all at once that a Category 4 storm was headed our way on Katrina's 16th anniversary. (On a scale from 1 to 5, 1 is the lightest 5 is full catastrophe. Hurricane Katrina was a category 5 if I'm not mistaken). The day before was the first I had heard about the storm development, but at the time it was being speculated that it was ~possible~ it could make land as a Category 3 but it had not even been named a hurricane at that point, therefore not exactly signaling mayday. Fast forward to Friday afternoon (not even 24 hours later) and the panic was thickening in the air by the minute as the confirmation of a Category 4 came very quickly.

I remember how regretful I was for not having left work around 11 am when I first received word that sandbags were being given out. --Sandbags are exactly what they sound like and are used to line doors in hopes of reducing flooding inside buildings and homes. Of course, by the time I left work at 4 pm, sandbags, water, and gasoline were either completely gone or actively vanishing into thin air.

Cut to me pulling up at Discount Zone on Clairborne and bursting out into tears after waiting in the line not even knowing if I'd get to fill up my almost empty tank and seeing a massive 4x4 truck with the 4x4 backside full of portable gasoline containers. The driver was filling up more containers... (being un-and-under-employed for the better part of a year had me accustomed to just throwing $20 in the tank here and there which left me down BAD this day). It was giving March 2020 and the tissue/disinfectant apocalypse, except, I have never experienced this kind of panic before. I can speak lightly about it now, but it was devastating as the pressure to get out and get ready was unbearable.

After unsuccessfully searching for sandbags for hours and progressively losing our minds, we did our best to pack and prepare the house for what was to come. I was staying with my sister-friend and her childhood best friend (one had evacuated for Katrina with her family and the other stayed with her family). Our luck turned around when we slipped out of town very late that night, driving open roads to Biloxi, Mississippi where I spent the entire evacuation. Everyone who left the following day, 24 hours pre-Ida, spent hours on the road as travel times were doubled and tripled. The interstate lanes were filled with the folks who were determined to get out before getting stuck.

Ida arrived and fully submerged areas like LaPlace, Hammond, Norco, and others though New Orleans seem to be the only one remembered. Like the reverse effect of Katrina wherein New Orleans was not flooded to the extent that these other areas were though many people still lost their homes, roofs, vehicles, jobs, and lives. Folks who stayed suffered through sweltering constant heat, bugs, empty shelves in the stores (before all stores boarded up windows and entrances and parked Army grade security on patrol in empty parking lots), food and gas shortages.

Fun fact: Did you know in New Orleans, not even 2.2 seconds transpired before the city erected curfew and militarization for anti-looting measures as soon as the power went out? Pristine priorities, amirite????

Spooky Fact: Ida made history for many reasons-- one being that days after arriving on land in Louisiana, Ida acutely flooded areas in Brooklyn NY, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. Ida was not of this world...

Aftermath, 1 month later

A month later and the chaos has not dimmed yet. In fact, the covers have been snatched from the city of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana exposing the shady heavily privatized, and monopolized inner workings. People who endured roof damage to their homes are being told they can have half of their roof repaired (insurance is so great for its hella high premiums isn't it??)

There are threats of the electricity monopolizer Entergy billing Louisiana residents for the costs associated with Ida damage. (More than 1 million residents were out of power due to the storm.) A company that already preys upon this population with large costly fees and generally very high prices--which they get away with because they're the only energy provider for the majority of if not the entire state. Garbage that has been sitting outside since before Ida made land (and then since people had to empty their entire refrigerators due to not having power in 100-degree weather for days) is still working on getting picked up, after the city suggested that we residents load said *toxic* garbage into our vehicles and bring it to the landfill, temporarily free of charge (YOU CAN'T MAKE THIS STUFF UP YO).

So many people still have not received or barely received any aid from any sector of government. (The F in FEMA is for FullofBullshit) We are living in a very active and aggressive global pandemic. I say this as a reminder and contextualizer because sometimes you really can't tell by the way these institutions seem to forget about our needs as human beings in this capitalist deathtrap. The many weighted layers that come with that, for folks who do not live within the security of wealth, made it that much more virtually impossible for the vast majority of Ida's victims to ~prepare.~

Nothing Was Ever The Same and It Never Will Be

Hurricane season this year began on May 22nd and will be officially over on the 30th of November--two months from now. In a state that is no stranger to the impacts of tropical weather events, it is every bit of unacceptable that the responsibility of hurricane readiness infrastructure is solely put on individuals.

Folks are still struggling to get by, to meet the most immediate and most urgent of living costs on top of hoping to evade COVID-19.

These conditions are part of what creates the reality of preparedness being a luxury, a privilege for those who can afford and allocate for being prepared for whatever. To have enough resources and time away from grinding day in and day out to plan ahead for future possibilities and needs is certainly not my experience at this time and I am not nearly as worse off as many many folks here.

The state of Louisiana, FEMA, and politicians have failed the fuck out of us.

Personally, if not for the few beloveds who did reach out with real intentions to make sure I had some funds for supplies, gas, food, and mutual aid organizations -- I literally have no idea how I would have gotten through evacuation or even returned. Because I was unprepared in many ways, I am still feeling the devastation of this natural disaster, mostly financially. The debts I have incurred since the coming of the pandemic were already steep before Ida. I recently started a new job (at which I am underpaid) and was in a very hopeful place (in hopes of finally getting back on track or close to it after a very long and very difficult year) but anything I had begun saving was fully wiped out by evacuation costs and again I am back where I started with absolutely no aid from the state.

Another New Normal

I have learned so much about what it means to be able to count on people when shit really hits the fan. It was a big lesson for me, when I had to come to terms with what it meant and how it felt when relatives and people I truly thought to be friends did not check on me, still have not checked on me. I also learned what receiving support truly looks like. When people want to support, they just do. Some will talk supporting words backed by emptiness. And, I can never assume that just because I would (or did) do it for them, does not entitle me the guarantee that they would or should do so for me. After all, people have more on their plates now than we could even fathom before.

I'm still grappling with much of this along with the very real reality that the pandemic and Ida have made painfully apparent-- all of the structures we have been indoctrinated to depend on to live (grocery stores, electric companies, banks, etc)

1. are not real, so much so that when nature decides they're done, they will be no more. This will come to pass for every last one of us.

2. preparedness must be an everyday priority, as much as possible because the only thing we can count on from our governments, is to be left destitute and disappointed waiting for them to DO RIGHT BY THE PEOPLE. Literally, bet money on that!

3. we are truly all that we have.

Honestly, it feels I have aged many years in this past month. Counting my blessings triple time has held me up enough to get through, one day at a time. My desire, my goal is to tap back into active community advocacy after a 2-year intentional distancing (okay you can call it a hiatus I suppose) because it's not an option for me, but a must. I'm focusing on how I can fill my cup now so that I can be present in the community full of empathy, rage, and gentleness.

My time this fall will be spent processing all of this as well as intentional ways to be of service to the greatest good, and in service of abolishing all this MARK ASS BULLSHIT.

My deepest condolences to

  • Everyone we lost on 8/29/2021 who were in hospital beds hooked up to life-saving machines that failed when power was lost.

  • Every being that lost their lives to Hurricane Ida from the Gulf Coast to the East Coast.

My advice, and my belief, is that forces of nature and Spirit are forcing many of us towards our breaking points, perhaps to see what it will finally take for us to do what needs to be done, rather than waiting for it, and tear all of these evil structures the fuck down. To choose what we're really about.

If you would like to support community restoration and recovery from Hurricane Ida in Louisiana, these are some organizations I respect deeply.

If you'd like to help me keep the lights on, anything is deeply appreciated, always.

Thanks for being here,

the finesse goddess

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  • finessagalleria

Hi, I'm Chioma. I'm a twenty-five year-old first-generation Igbo-Kikuyu American writer-creator born and raised in Lynn, Massachusetts (SEVEN8ONE TO MY CITY!).

Welcome to Finessa Galleria, the central home of my art, an amalgamation of my virtual presence and my works and projects.

I am so proud and relieved to be introducing my virtual space with my first ever blog post! If you're reading this, it's possible you may have seen the first iteration of my website via squarespace.

Though I was very proud of that site initially, it didn't fully satiate what I wanted as a reflection of my essence and my work. I wasn't really getting the bang for my buck...aand financial burnout also happened 🥴. Ultimately, what I learned is that it's so important to have your own experience before you're convinced by the endorsements of others about which means and tools are best for you. Besides, costly doesn't always mean convenient or best quality!

I embrace the process of learning, doing so through making mistakes and getting back at it. I have no shame in this. Honestly, shout out to simplicity! Getting older teaches me that often times when I'm stuck, the answer lies in simplicity. When I simplify, I ascend.

In this biweekly blog, I invite you to ascend with me. I'll be sharing the lessons and resources I am gathering along the way on this nonlinear and complex yet beautiful journey.


the finesse goddess

-Artwork by Sekai Hurdle

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