I am my normal

I’m not bipolar. I don’t have high highs and low lows.

I just have high highs and higher highs.

And that gives me a larger-than-average capacity to be active and create stuff. I don’t think it’s an illness but it is definitely an abnormality. I’m frequently misinterpreted.

I get a lot of microagressive comments like “ew just looking at you makes me tired.”
Or “just hearing that stresses me out.”
Or “Octavia you’re such an over achiever.”
Yeah maybe compared to you. Jerk.
Or my favorite, “You do TOO MUCH.”
No. I. Don’t.

But whatever. It works for me. I don’t do anything out of the ordinary for me. I am my normal.
And yes, I do sleep.
Sometimes.

On the other side of that is all of the support and cheers and encouragement from my friends.
“Wow, you stay busy!”
Or “You’re doing what I always wanted to do.”
Or “I want to be you when I grow up.”

Look, I may not be rich or famous or even moderately debt free and I pretty much just barely pay all my bills and yes, I just cried this morning…
BUT
I’m living my best life and I am really truly and honestly so comfortable in my skin and in love with ME.

And if me being my best me helps you be your best you, then let’s do this life thing together, baby!

I’m Octavia. I’m an author, an artist, a cellist, a dancer, a mother, a speaker, the founder of Tavinda Media, the host of three podcasts, and I’m just getting started.

Follow all my stuff: 

Tavinda Media on Facebook, @TavindaMedia

Stalled. on Facebook, @Stalledpodcast

@forkmylifepodcast

@thehibouleans

@roadtorelovery

xoxo

Dream – Premiers Sept 24 2018 — Tavinda Media

Do you dream? Some say dreams are a series of random brain signals that turn into images and sensations in our minds. Others claim our suppressed urges and desires boldly rise to the surface when we’re unconscious. And some are confident dreams are simply the trash compactor of our unneeded memories; the nightly clear browsing…

via Dream – Premiers Sept 24 2018 — Tavinda Media

Panelists Discuss Black Panther Film at Maywood Fest

Black Panther Panel Discussion 

 maywood fest black panther

Pictured above:  Novella “The Hibouleans v. 1, by Octavia Reese (2nd from left), Jeff Johnson, and Dr. Yaounde Olu, NCGR III, author of “Almanac of Unfavorable Timing”

 

For Release 9/12/18              Nzingha Nommo, 708-420-1155

 

“WAKANDA FOREVER…”

Nestled inside the Maywood Fest’s showing of the film Black Panther, Afriware Books will host a Black Panther Panel Discussion on Friday, Sept. 14, 2018 starting at 6pm.  The Maywood Fest is a three day event 9/14-9/16 which takes place at Veteran’s Park, 125 5th Ave. in Maywood, IL.  We are pleased to have three distinguished subject matter experts including Jeff Johnson, Octavia Reese, and Dr. Yaounde Olu.  Afriware Books’ owner, Nzingha Nommo is honored to be facilitating the panel discussion. “It was a delight to invite three people from diverse professional backgrounds who I’ve enjoyed discussing the film with.”

Jeff Johnson is an aficionado of film, television and comic books.  Jeff studied film criticism at Roger Ebert’s alma mater, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, while completing a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. Jeff provided consulting services to filmmakers while earning an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. Professionally, Mr. Johnson is a Director of Process Improvement at USG Corporation, a leading manufacturer of building products and innovative solutions around the world.

Author and cellist Octavia Reese, will also join us.  She is  the proud mom of three boys, and is a relentless creative, speaking life into women through writing, music, dance and art.  Ms. Reese is the author of a young adult sci-fi fantasy series, The Hibouleans, featuring heroic and brilliant young women of color. She’s also composed a musical score to accompany to the novella series. 

And finally, Dr. Yaounde Olu, an award winning editorial cartoonist for The Chicago Crusader in Chicago will join us.  Dr. Yaounde’ Olu is additionally a native Chicagoan, illustrator, cable television producer, astrological scientist, researcher, educator, founder and artistic director of the Drum Divas, composer, and indie comic and graphic novel publisher.  Dr. Olu holds a BS in Education from Chicago State University; an MA in Fine and Performing Arts from Governors State University, and a PhD in Health Sciences/Holistic Medicine from the Union Institute. She also holds certificates in Manuscript Editing, Book Publishing, and Publication Design from the University of Chicago.  

The panel will discuss the cultural significance, creativity and career paths surrounding the success of the film Black Panther.  The format will include introductions, film commentaries and Q&A from the audience.

Afriware Books will have Black Panther comic books, and merchandise to compliment the occasion. Octavia Reese and Dr. Olu will have merchandise available.

Introducing Tavinda Media

As promised in an earlier post, I have good news to share! This week, Monday, I launched my new podcast network, Tavinda Media. Tuesday, we released our first (of several) podcasts, Stalled. Stalled features my sister Nan and me, as we talk about the real life struggles of balancing life, love, work, parenting, and the exhausting hustle of becoming a best-selling author.

Tavinda Media Intro Text

I am ridiculously low on sleep, out of breath, and even more overbooked than usual, but I am high on all the excitement of my ancestors and the resounding cheers of my future self. Today — and hopefully, forever — I am tearfully the personification of my prayers. To stay in touch with Tavinda news, please subscribe here.

Click below for the official introduction mailing, and please like, share, subscribe and rate Stalled:

Introducing Tavinda Media

Stalled. on iTunes

Stalled. on Stitcher

TW/IG/FB: @stalledpodcast

TW/IG/FB: @TavindaMedia

Brown girls dominate Wakandacon 2018

LOCAL AUTHOR AND TEEN ARTIST PARTNER TO INSPIRE GIRLS WITH SCI-FI SERIES AT FIRST ANNUAL WAKANDACON

Former Miss America contestant writes brown girls into the spotlight; 9th grader illustrates

CHICAGO July 31, 2018 – Young women of color can identify with new bold champions in the young adult science-fiction fantasy series, The Hibouleans. Writing and drawing their heroes into existence, author and former beauty queen, Octavia Reese joined forces with fourteen-year old illustrator Aaliyah Lachel’e.  Together, the girl team is filling a void, bringing young brilliant brown girls to the forefront of epic adventures.octavia reese wakandacon

“I’m a big nerd,” Octavia said. “I grew up admiring Stan Lee, Stephen King, Chris Van Allsburg, Tim Burton and Ed Gorey. But my favorite adventures always seemed to leave out characters that looked like me. I was tired of watching everyone else have all the fun. My main character, Taryn, looks like me.”

Octavia 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.

Her idea resonated with child-artist Aaliyah, also known as “PeanutBuddar,” who jumped at the invitation to illustrate The Hibouleans when Octavia reached out to her mom.

“When I first heard about The Hibouleans, I couldn’t wait to read it – it’s the kind of story I love to read and watch,” Aaliyah said. “Being able to bring fantasy characters to life is so exciting, plus they look like me and the main character is my age. It’s like I’m drawing my own story.”

Aaliyah, who has been drawing since she was three years old, started her own company, PeanutBuddarArt, when she couldn’t find characters in fashion and media that matched her features.

Wakandacon IG FINAL PBA“I love cartoons, visual novels and books, but I never really got to see any characters that I could relate to – not in their skin, not in their hair, and not in their shapes,” Aaliyah said.

“No one really looked like me at all. So, I drew some that did.” Aaliyah’s colorful and charming characters adorn backpacks, lunchboxes, notebooks and pencil cases.

“Kids should be able to read books and watch TV shows and be able to see themselves in those characters,” she said. Aaliyah has already been published twice as an illustrator and in addition to thriving in high school, playing sports and running her business, she plans to work with Octavia throughout The Hibouleans 10-book series.

Octavia and Aaliyah were both thrilled to be a part of the first annual Wakandacon Convention, which aims to unite fantasy fans and comic-book-loving people of color around the central theme of Black Panther’s Wakanda.

 

Find The Hibouleans and PeanutBuddarArt this weekend at Wakandacon: Friday, August 3, 4pm – 8pm; Saturday, August 4, 11am – 8pm; and Sunday, August 5, 10am – 2pm. For more information, visit www.wakandacon2018.com, www.octaviareese.com, and www.peanutbuddarart.com.

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Be your prayer

I recently wrote about my presentation at my church small group. Part of the expectation is not only to introduce our business but to also explain how that connects with our spirituality.

My business (which is kind of a secret right now, but I’ll introduce very soon!) is a “company” version of myself, but not limited to my own talents and products and brands. The beautiful thing about the model I’ll present is that there is always room for more creativity at the table — not just mine. I want to elevate others with similar platforms, too.

I nearly ran out of breath listing the sorts of products my company will offer — both entertainment and retail — not only because I was on a clock and I was talking very quickly, but also because of pure passion and excitement to put all of ME out there in a marketable way.

When someone in the group asked about my spirituality, I suddenly stalled. I had a hard time spitting out the words that were on my heart. But finally, I boldly went for it. “I feel like I’m called to redefine the face of Christianity,” I said. Wow. It felt weird enough saying it out loud then but it absolutely feels just as strange and fresh typing it here. I’ve actually been avoiding completing this post for a week just because I was afraid of this…confession.

It’s so jarring to me because it seems like a very heavy burden to carry: How could one person reroute what’s been ingrained for more than two thousand years? Well, with one little drop of me, being myself and doing what I was created to do. What if your greatest call to worship, your purest form of prayer, and your most genuine communication channel with The Divine was by simply being yourself?

What if your greatest call to worship, your purest form of prayer, and your most genuine communication channel with The Divine was by simply being yourself?

The Grand Canyon wasn’t formed over night. Maybe it was one tiny pebble that diverted trickling rain water just enough to make it into a river. And maybe every rainfall that river grew a little bit wider. And after millions of years of H2O molecules passing and leaving their tiny impressions, an enormously stunning landmark was carved into the earth.

Not one of those molecules said, “Today, I’m going to make The Grand Canyon.” No. Every molecule simply existed.

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Water has been teaching me a lot over the past several months. I even referenced water in a Facebook live event I hosted, reading a piece of The Hibouleans and debuting the first track in The Hibouleans book score.

Skip to around 6:50 — water doesn’t strive for perfection. Water is gonna do what water is gonna do. The water doesn’t ask permission to be there. Water is. The journey I shared here was that I’m learning to accept (my)yourself in not only what (I)you do, but in each phase that (I)you do it.

So as I spoke to my spirituality, I offered this — that my faith is woven into every fiber of my company because I touch every grain of my company with my rawest most unfiltered gifts and talents. My quest to cultivate my passions and share them out of love and pure positive intent, not only shines my gratitude and adoration into those around me, but it is also a mirrored reflection of what is shone into me from The Divine.

I cannot separate my spirituality from my work. It is impossible to unbraid worship from my craft. Me being true to my gifts is my most authentic form of worship.

I don’t have a big conversion testimony. I can’t tell you the day Jesus saved me. I can’t tell you the moment I heard God speaking to me not from above but from within. But I can tell you that God speaks. God exists. God is love so great and abundant our humanness cannot even begin to quantify it.

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I can also tell you that my faith is not a product — I’m not in the ministry “business.” But I do have a calling to be the sort of Christian that makes people reexamine spirituality, Christianity and truly living the way Jesus — and others — showed us: let everything you do come from a place of love. Not superiority. Not judgement. Not hatred. Not condemnation. There is no other to judge — only us.

You see, when you recognize offering yourself — your gifts, your skills, your excellence — as a form of worship, it eliminates all the mechanics of doing it right. You’re already doing it right! Another reason why I love praise dance, or just playing my cello for the pleasure of making a joyful noise: I’m eliminating the limitations of conscious planning; I’m circumventing the human process of articulating and opening a direct channel between myself and the heavenly plane. This meditative, hypnotic, trance-like state, I believe, is what prayer is. Prayer, perhaps isn’t an action, but a state of being.

…when you recognize offering yourself — your gifts, your skills, your excellence — as a form of worship, it eliminates all the mechanics of doing it right.  

How many times have we all gotten caught up in interpretation and rules and words and how we might sound  or look to other humans? Our worship isn’t for them — it is for above. And that gate deserves to be fully opened without fear of imperfection, shame, humiliation or ridicule.

You are a gift to the world. Shine through your positives and in doing so, you honor God, whatever you perceive God to be.

I can’t wait to introduce you to my new company! Coming in just a few more weeks. Stay tuned…

xx,

Octavia

Feminist Author Joins Fun Home Talk

CHICAGO AUTHOR JOINS DISCUSSION PANEL FOR TONY-WINNING MUSICAL

Author Octavia Reese discusses feminism, family and LGBTQ issues in Grand Rapids production of Fun Home

GRAND RAPIDS, July 23, 2018 – Chicago author Octavia Reese, will be among a panel of West Michigan social justice activists to analyze and discuss the underlying themes of cartoonist Alison Bechdel’s Tony Award-winning musical, Fun Home. The musical, adapted from Bechdel’s graphic novel-memoir of the same name, chronicles the cartoonist’s youth and showcases powerful themes of family, self-awareness, mental health, death and sexual identity. Bechdel also developed The Bechdel Test, which helps scale how women are portrayed in film. Reese, like Bechdel, creates deliberately woman-centered literature.

“The times I see characters that look and think like me in my favorite genres are still too few and far between,” Reese said. “There will always be a need to consciously write women, especially women of color and queer women, into the narrative as meaningful and memorable significant characters.”

She said she wrote her series, The Hibouleans, to fill a representation void of women of color in sci-fi fantasy epic adventures.

Bechdel, who was first published in 1983, began her career to fill a void, too, developing pieces that raise queer and women’s voices into the spotlight.  Her first cartoon publication features gay women in the forefront, something that hadn’t been seen often – if at all – in the early eighties.

“Bechdel’s artistic contributions have reached so many spaces that are too often ignored,” Reese said. “Women cartoonists, LGBTQ youth, the importance of mental health – the list goes on.”

Reese added that representation this isn’t just for female, queer or brown-skinned communities. “The whole world needs to get used to seeing us,” Reese said.

“We have names, stories, talents, and the capacity to run the show, too. We’re not just voiceless, nameless bodies.”

The panel discussion will be held at Circle Theatre in Grand Rapids July 27, 2018 after the show. For more information on the event and for tickets to see Fun Home, please visit www.circletheatre.org.

For more details about Octavia Reese, visit www.octaviareese.com.

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