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.

Holiday Joy

What’s more joyful than singing a favorite holiday tune with some of the loveliest people on this Earth?

You got it — not much.

Check out this clip, one in a series of Christmas Songs from the wildly talented Jazelle Morris.

Don’t forget to rate, share, and subscribe to her YouTube channel!

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.

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…
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





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

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.


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.


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…



Detroit’s Miss Michigan 2005 Returns for Festival of Books


Independent author and former pageant queen aims to redefine how young women of color set expectations for themselves


DETROIT, July 9, 2018 – Detroit-raised author, Octavia Reese, created a world where bold, brave, brilliant brown girls fearlessly step into their own greatness as stars in the sci-fi epic adventure series, The Hibouleans. The 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.

Octavia, who now resides in Chicago, represented the state of Michigan in the 2006 Miss America pageant is also a cellist and composer, and wrote The Hibouleans book score, too – the musical theme that accompanies her characters’ adventures in the series.  As Octavia travels, reading excerpts from her series and performing on her cello, she hopes to send one major message: it’s time for the world to envision women of color in more leading roles, especially in science fiction.

“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.

“I wrote it for my inner child and to fill the color-gender void I saw in my youth,” Octavia said. “Now I want to share it with all people that crave epic adventures – representation not only changes our narrative but changes how others view us as well.” Octavia hopes The Hibouleans normalizes diverse character leads in magical, science-fiction and fantasy genres.

“I also wrote this for my own children. I want my three sons to equate strength and bravery with boys and girls,” Octavia said.

In June 2018, the Miss America Scholarship Organization officially announced the elimination of the historic swimsuit competition from the annual pageant, sending shockwaves across the country.  Octavia supports the decision and says it aligns with her own vision of The Hibouleans.

“It’s time for women of all shapes, sizes and colors to take back our own narratives and tell the world how we want to be received. While the Miss America competition has evolved into being so much more than the swimsuit portion, that’s still the only thing most viewers remember. Now they’ll start to see us for who we really are – gifted and educated forces of change.”

Find Octavia, her cello and The Hibouleans this Sunday, July 15 from 10am – 4pm at Detroit Book Fest. For more information, visit www.detroitbookfest.com and www.octaviareese.com.

Meet PeanutBuddar!

Can I just gush for a minute? You know when you have that ancient chemistry heart-strings magic connection with someone? Well, that’s what happened when I met Aaliyah aka PeanutBuddarArt and her family in February at Harold Washington Library featuring Soulful Chicago authors for Black History Month.27971905_10213642661294453_6598028606628917770_n

It was an instant, “Hey fam!” feel.  Not only did they feel like home, but Aaliyah is a mind-blowing artist. The kind of artist I

Black History Month at Soulful Chicago Harold Washington Chicago Public Library

was looking for in the very beginning of this journey. I told her and her mom Kelli about my plan for The Hibouleans to be an animated series and how it would be so perfectly fitting for Aaliyah to be on the illustration team. I told them that I wish I had met them first because I had already partnered with another talented illustrator and while he wasn’t her, he was still cosmically gifted and I could see him doing  beautiful work bringing The Hibouleans to life.

Fast forward to a failed second chance, a second ghosting, and a lost $50 deposit…

And then I thought, hold up, didn’t I ask for this? I did. I asked for this.

I won’t go into details, but I will refer you to my previous post, point No. 4 — draw your own conclusions. Hehe. Draw. Anyway.

Octavia Reese and PeanutBuddar at Black Women's Expo


At first, I was distraught and disappointed. And then I thought, hold up, didn’t I ask for this? I did. I asked for this. And the Universe delivered.

I reached out to Kelli, and said “Hey, remember how I said that I wish Aaliyah could be my illustrator? Well, now she can!”


The Hibouleans PeanutBuddarArt Octavia Reese

And Team Hey Fam was born. Aaliyah captured the essence of The Hibouleans in all of the best ways. She took something that doesn’t exist anywhere but inside my head, and brought them to life. She breathed a new vision into my characters that I never could have done alone or with any other artist.

And the truly amazing thing? Aaliyah is 14 years old. She’s the same age as Taryn; she’s equipped with the same gifted curiosity; she emits the same depth of wonder and the same timbre of laughter. It’s as if Aaliyah is drawing her own story. I couldn’t have wished for a better family to — oh wait — yes, I could. I did wish for this. They are my actual dreams come true. The Hibouleans PeanutBuddarArt Octavia Reese

Be sure to follow Aaliyah/PeanutBuddar on IG and FB and pick up the latest episode of The Hibouleans on Amazon.



Vol 2 and Her Lessons

Hi everyone,

This is my first blog post on http://www.octaviareese.com — I’ll be keeping you updated on milestones here with my book and other projects, while keeping my other blog, Road to Relovery separate and focused on personal and relationship health. Today’s big news: Vol 2 is ready for your hands!

The Hibouleans VOL 2 e-COVERI’ve learned so much since deciding to take my independent publishing more seriously and moving from e-book only to print. Here’s a list of some of my takeaways:

  1. Independent Publishing is a BUSINESS.

    • …for some, it might be a hobby. For me, it is a business. That means I have to treat it as a business including prioritizing my time, utilizing project plans with hard deadlines, tracking my expenses, and making boss decisions.
  2. I am the CEO of my BUSINESS.

    • Taking this perspective and being a BOSS means I have to be the decision maker, select risks with discernment, seek both wins and lessons, and make my business success a priority.
  3. Keep notes and make no assumptions.

    • I don’t think I need to break this down, but let me break it down: DO. NOT. MAKE. ASSUMPTIONS. Especially with friends or friends of friends. Being an entrepreneur usually means your team will start with people you already know. This also means that you might skip over the details or partner verbally instead of in writing because both of you are making assumptions about each other’s time, money, dedication and expectations. Don’t make foolish business decisions because you are business-ing with friends. Keep it professional, use written agreements, and if you can’t be professional with friends, don’t do business with them. Save the friendship, spare the drama.
  4. Be wary of freelancers.

    • I was thrilled to partner with exceptional talent for The Hibouleans series. However, sometimes it bit me in the behind. I’ve lost a total of $200, paid and never to be refunded, because I purchased services and was professionally ghosted. I’m grateful it was only $200 — this is nothing to sneeze at, especially being a single mom of three with one income living check-to-check until book sales take off, but I am fully aware it could have been worse. Still, be careful of your freelancer partner. Are they blowing you off, raking in new business but continually pushing you to the end of the line? Are they making you a priority? Are they delivering as promised? Are they communicating with you? I have learned to ask these questions early and often and that patience and understanding only goes so far. I was sad when I knew I had to cut them off of my team, but I had so much more peace knowing I had replaced them with reliable talent. The talent itself only goes so far if there is no business respect.
    • To freelancers reading this: please read the next step and master the art of saying No. If you are inundated with orders, stop taking them until you catch up. Know your limit and provide accurate expectations. Communicate with your clients and if you need to let them down, do so tactfully — don’t wait until they break up with you. Leaving a sour taste in their mouths is not good for your business.
  5. Practice Assertion and Master the Art of No.

    • Bosses don’t have to be polite and avoid hurting feelings. Bosses need to make fast and hard decisions. Don’t mince words. Let me be clear, being direct does NOT equate being rude. You can be direct with compassion and tact. If you need to break up with a partner or a vendor, just do it. They’ll survive. This is especially relevant if you’re paying someone for a service. If the product you’ve hired someone to provide is not meeting your expectations, don’t hesitate; don’t be nice, cut it off, cut your losses and move on to what your vision truly is — this is your business, goal and dream — not theirs.
    • “No” is not a bad word.  Adding a “thank you” or “thanks anyway” makes it that much easier to swallow for the other side. If a concept, a vendor, an event, a cost, timing does not serve your business and catapult you towards your business goals, just say, “No.”
  6. Know your audience.

    • Where are you investing your time and money? Are you making your product available for all people in all places? If so, you’re doing it wrong. Think of one ideal person or group you want to speak to and focus on them. As you grow, you’ll be able to reach more people in more places, but don’t lose sight of the first reason you developed your product or brand. That person is the heart of your success.
  7. Work smarter.

    • Ever since I decided to go on tour, I’ve been scoping out events and expos and book fairs where I can set up an attention-grabbing display, tickle the cello strings and be seen. But after the first three, I realized, hey, if my sales don’t at least cover the cost of my vendor registration fee, why am I here? Seems basic, right? It is. Don’t over-market yourself into loss. Find new ways to be seen that cost less or do more prep ahead of time to bring your audience to your expo table.
  8. Don’t give away your voice.

    • When you’re working with others in the early stages — be it co-hosts or interns or marketing professionals — don’t accept their help if they’re not properly representing your brand. This includes anything on your behalf like responding to emails, managing your social media pages, or booking your events. Work with them to speak from your voice, but if they’re not getting it, remember the magic words — “No, thank you.”
  9. Work – Recovery – Repeat

    • For those of you that know me, you know that my normal is abnormal. I have two baseline settings: Manic and Hyper Manic. I have an usual capacity to do A LOT and to take on more projects and responsibility than the average person. So for me, I have to make a conscious decision to stop and rest. Rest is critical for all people, even weird energy capsules like me. I thrive on hyper-drive, but the peace of mind I receive from rest and recovery is priceless. Remember to slow down sometimes.
  10. Celebrate the wins!

    • Being in hyper-launch mode can be addicting. You’re always looking for the next opportunity to grow and connect with your audience. But don’t forget while you’re still in the thick of the hustle, to celebrate the victories. Joy and gratefulness go a very long way.