Have Vaccine, Will Travel

“Octavia Crowned” by Seed Lynn

Local Renaissance Woman Prepares for Artist Residency in French Countryside

Author, artist, dancer, healthcare tech strategist and single mom plans for uninterrupted creative time after deferring residency due to pandemic

CHICAGO – Octavia Reese is a renaissance woman: a professional informaticist as well as an artistic creative. In 2019, she applied for an artist in residence program at Chateau d’Orquevaux in France, and won the Denis Diderot AiR (artist in residence) Grant along with a coveted place amongst other talented artists. While Octavia planned to spend two weeks abroad in the summer of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic closed borders and halted Octavia’s dream excursion.

“I’ve been waiting for an opportunity like this for almost 20 years,” Octavia said. “In 2005, I won a Fulbright Fellowship to teach English in France. I also won Miss Michigan and had a difficult decision to make. I couldn’t defer the Fulbright, so I chose to compete for Miss America over going to France,” she said.

After Miss America, Octavia moved to Chicago, got married and started a family. Suddenly everything Octavia planned for own professional development took a backseat to raising her three boys, now 13, 11 and eight years old.

“I had to reprioritize my time and attention,” Octavia said. “And then I looked up and it had been years since I prioritized myself.”

In 2014, Octavia’s marriage dissolved, and she had to reinvent herself as a single parent, responsible for three young men. “That’s when I decided to put myself back in the pilot seat,” she said. “It took me a long time to learn that I can’t be an exceptional mom unless I’m an exceptional individual – and for me, that means prioritizing the development of my own skills and talents. And to do that well, I need uninterrupted creative time.” Octavia began looking for residency opportunities and found Chateau d’Orquevaux.

Octavia will spend two weeks in France – without her children – to focus on two new novels, writing film scores and painting masterpieces.

“My art is all connected,” Octavia said. “I highlight women of color in my books, music and paintings. There’s no limit to Black women’s beauty, intelligence, resilience and creativity. And that deserves to be celebrated indefinitely.”

Octavia also works in healthcare information technology and specializes in expanding customer experience with healthcare tech and strategizing engagement plans. Since she works at a hospital, she was able to get vaccinated in January.

“I am a big nerd and a vocal advocate for science. I love working in healthcare and I was so excited to get my vaccine.” Now that Octavia is vaccinated, she also hopes to be an advocate for responsible travel.

“I hope international infection rates continue to decline so I can finally embark on this journey. It’s so important to get vaccinated as soon as possible and to still adhere to responsible public behavior. Keep wearing those masks!”

Octavia’s passion is to empower Black women to chase their dreams, remember their worth, and embrace their inner and outer beauty.

From chateauorquevaux.com: The Chateau d’Orquevaux Artist Residency emphasizes the human experience and the creative process. This magnificent estate in the French countryside of Champagne-Ardenne is a unique environment, offering artists a place with limited distraction, plenty of food and an abundance of natural inspiration.

Octavia makes it to the Semi-Finals

– FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE –

CHICAGO SINGLE MOM COMPETES FOR MAGAZINE COVER AND $25,000

Single mom, healthcare worker, author and former Miss Michigan competes for Final Eight in the 2020 Maxim Covergirl Contest

 CHICAGO, July 20, 2020 – South sider Octavia Reese, Principal Epic Trainer at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, author, cellist, and single mom of three boys is competing for Maxim Covergirl 2020 and $25,000. The competition, which began in May, features thousands of models from around the world, and Octavia has now advanced to the semi-finals. From July 20 to July 30 Octavia is up against seven other women competing for the title, the cash, and the springboard into the world of modeling and entertainment. Octavia has to place first in her group to advance to the Final Eight.

“Someone like me has never been on the cover of a magazine like Maxim before,” Octavia said. “And it’s about time.” Octavia calls herself The Modern Man’s Renaissance Woman.

“I chose to market myself that way for this competition because I am a renaissance woman, and so many women today are. We aren’t ‘allowed’ to have just one job. We’re raising children, juggling work and homeschooling during a global pandemic, managing professional goals outside the home, and somehow finding time to care for ourselves. We do it all without recognition or reward. And the world should see that in a beautiful and sexy way.”

Competitions like this aren’t new to Octavia. She was Miss Michigan 2005 and competed for Miss America. Even then, Octavia was advocating for visibility of well-rounded, educated, ambitious women. In her books, The Hibouleans, Octavia created a world where leading teens, Taryn and Priya, are STEM fanatics and use their math and science knowledge to solve clues as they embark on a life-or-death treasure hunt against terrifying shape shifting Hibouleans. She said she wrote the series for all the brown girls out there that love problem-solving, strength-building, lab experiments and dream of having superpowers and being the hero in epic adventures.

“It’s incredibly important, not just for young Black and brown girls to refuse to believe their skin color is limiting, but it’s just as necessary for everyone else to begin to envision women of color as main characters with depth, too, not just restricted to silent supporting roles or inferior stereotypes,” she said. “We need an entire cultural shift – we have as much a right and a capacity to lead and grace magazine covers as anyone else.”

To win this round of the competition, Octavia simply has to have the most votes.

“I’ve always wanted to shake up traditional beauty standards,” she said. “I never saw women that looked like me on the covers of magazines or in leading roles in the books and films I enjoyed. It’s 2020 and I still don’t see it enough. If Maxim presents itself as the magazine for the modern man, it should also promote the modern woman. We are all shapes, colors, ages and have skills and talents that deserve to be showcased and valued.”

Octavia plans to use the prize money to help finance graduate school, something she’s had to put off for years to focus on providing for herself and her children.

Vote for Octavia online at https://maximcovergirl.com/2020/octavia-reese. Anyone with a valid Facebook account can vote once daily for free or choose to buy extra votes, which support Jared Allen’s Homes for Wounded Warriors. The Semi-Finals round ends July 30, 2020 at 10pm CST.

FORMER MISS MICHIGAN RETURNS TO DETROIT BOOK FEST TO NORMALIZE WOMEN OF COLOR LEADING SCI-FI FANTASY ADVENTURES

– FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE –

 

FORMER MISS MICHIGAN RETURNS TO DETROIT BOOK FEST TO NORMALIZE WOMEN OF COLOR LEADING SCI-FI FANTASY ADVENTURES

Author and former pageant queen promotes stories with Black women in the leading role

 DETROIT, July 15, 2019 –  Octavia Reese, Detroit-native and Miss Michigan 2005, will return to Detroit Book Fest on July 21 with the next two installments in her sci-fi fantasy series, The Hibouleans. Last year, Octavia’s first two volumes aimed to inspire young women to fearlessly delve into STEM-related subjects through her epic adventure treasure-hunt story. This year, Octavia wants to remind fans about the importance of normalizing women of color in the protagonist role for any genre of adventures, especially sci-fi and fantasy.the Hibouleans Octavia Reese

“When Disney announced Halle Bailey will take the lead as Ariel in the new Little Mermaid, I was thrilled,” Octavia said. “But not everyone was.”

Octavia was referring to critics from various social media platforms that were upset to learn Ariel would be played by a Black actress.

“If people can get upset about the skin color of a half-fish-half-human fictional character, it only proves we still have a long way to go when it comes to accepting women of color in leading roles,” she said.

In her young adult series, The Hibouleans, Octavia created a world where leading teens, Taryn and Priya, are STEM fanatics and must use their math and science knowledge to solve clues as they embark on a life-or-death treasure hunt against terrifying shape-shifting Hibouleans. She said she wrote the series for all the brown girls out there that love problem-solving, strength-building, lab experiments and dream of having super powers and being the hero in epic adventures.

“It’s incredibly important, not just for young Black and brown girls to refuse to believe their skin color is limiting, but it’s just as necessary for everyone else to begin to envision women of color as main characters, too, not just restricted to foreign supporting roles,” she said. “We need an entire cultural shift – we have as much a right and a capacity to lead as anyone else.”

Octavia, who now resides in Chicago, represented the state of Michigan in the 2006 Miss America pageant, and is also a cellist and composer. She wrote The Hibouleans book score, too – the musical theme that accompanies her characters’ adventures in the series.

“As a musician, I also hope to show my audience that Black women can do anything – we can be queens, scientists, authors, physicians, Hibouleans, cellists and even mermaids.”Cello Goddess Open Octavia Reese Miss Michigan The Hibouleans

Find Octavia, her cello and The Hibouleans Volumes 1 – 4, this Sunday, July 21 from 10am – 4pm at Detroit Book Fest. For more information, visit www.detroitbookfest.com and www.octaviareese.com.

 

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Haiku 13/31

Tempting summertime

A delicious apple eat

before the glitter

#haikuaday

Ok I used a generator for this one too only so I could have a good reason to share this awesome pic @the_lovewarrior took of me this summer 😆💖 also, STOP BLAMING EVERYTHING ON EVE.

#wisdom #poem #knowledge #poetry #poetsofinstagram #poet #consciousness #apples #appletree #glitter #sparkle #bling #shine #glittercase #diamonds #sparkly #shimmer #spiritual #enlightenment #universe #awareness #hope #peace #poetrycommunity #poems #instapoet #writingcommunity #writing

Haiku 12/31

Don’t dim your sparkle

To blend into the shadows

Be your brightest star

//

#haikuaday

Some days I wish I were normal. Mediocre. Average. Our world is designed for the average to flourish. But I’m very abnormal. And it’s hard. But I’d rather be myself than be miserable trying to be anything else.

So for all of you sparkly stars out there that are driving yourselves mad just to fight to fit into a group that will never truly understand you anyway, remember you— as you are — are your greatest gift to the world. Dare to be true to YOU!

#selfworth #selflove #selfesteem #shine #encouragement #poem #selfcare #poetry #selfhelp #goodnews #poetsofinstagram #poet #poetrycommunity #selfawareness #loveyourself #selfconfidence #bodypositive #amentothat #empowerment #positivity #mentalhealth #mindfulness #confidence #gratitude #healing #meditation #spirituality #positivevibes #enlightenment

Haiku 9/31

Plowing through hassles

I am capable and strong

I can accept help

Asking for help has been tough for me. In my life, historically, asking for or accepting an offer of assistance has always come with a string or two — a hidden tit for tat clause. I don’t like feeling like I owe someone something or that I’m always under their debt and control because I accepted a favor.

So I’d rather just do it myself. Even if it’s the hardest or most complicated path, I’d rather do it alone and know that I am free from anyone’s leashes or expectations. But I’m softening. I’m learning that there are genuine gifts. I’m learning that I don’t have to wear all hats and handle all tasks and manage all things. I’m learning that some wonderful gems are happy to help because it is their pleasure to assist — not because they’re making a downpayment on a future favor; not because they’re holding a pot of boiling water over your head until you repay the gesture; not because they feel entitled to your time, energy and submission.

I’m grateful to be surrounded by people that give and love and help for giving and loving and helping’s sake. As I look at my friend-circle, I see genuine support and care, not leverage or manipulation. I see it in my church. I see it in my GirlGang. This is God. Caring for your neighbors and never standing idly by watching them struggle to their feet. This is what it means to hold each other.

It is a beautiful gift to help others. It is a more humbling gift to accept help.

Cheers to the best friends and the most sincere care.

Haiku 7/31

“Butts farts butts boobies

Fart fart poop …I love you, mom.”

My life with three sons.

New family rule: sure, you can talk about butts and farts all day long! But you have to do it in the bathroom. 🤦🏾‍♀️🤷🏾‍♀️ (This goes into effect after the first joke because let’s be honest, farts are kinda funny)

#pottytalk

#haikuaday

📷: @authenticadventureco

Haiku 6/31

Things I used to hate

About myself are the things

I love most today.

#haikuaday

In couples therapy, I learned that each day is a conscious decision to want to be with your partner. “I love you today. I want to be with you.” Taking that same theory with me, I started practicing that for myself, to myself. “Today, I love me. And I want to be me.” Now, I don’t want to be me everyday. But I do more often than I used to, and it took me years to get this far. 2019 will be another year of radical self-acceptance and self-love.