Friday, December 25, 2009

Temporary Houses: a Conversation About Being in the Present

“The only power we have is in the present.” How many times have we heard this, yet we forget so often.
Forgetting to be present in the moment we’re experiencing, not in the past and not in the future, we rob ourselves of the means we have to change our circumstances for the better - to liberate ourselves from painful memories, and to proceed with courage and wo/manifest our truest, most heartfelt desires. As long as we’re not in the moment, we’re not in control of ourselves – and we are the only force that can make a difference in our lives. This is something I’ll remember when I slip into forgetting.
What brings this to mind for me was a recent walk in my new neighborhood. I moved in with a romantic partner who, on the immediate, physical level, is significantly “richer” than I am (although on the astral, quantum leap level, *“M.y O.wn N.atural E.nergy Y.ield” is huge, and I like to think and expect the immediate, physical level will soon reflect that!).
Here is the conversation I was having with myself while on this walk. For what I hope will be entertainment and spiritually assisting purposes, I will pretend two voices are involved, the fearful doubting, disbelieving “voice” (or attitude) and the fearless, faithful, positive one.
One attitude serves the vision of success and abundance. It creates strategies, moves, and circumstances that make one’s dreams come true. It inspires action in the dreamer, and this is crucial, because dreams without action amount to delusion and despair, whereas combining steps, no matter how small or seemingly non-productive, can have tremendous benefit, even if sometimes the only apparent benefit is another moment on the correct path.
“Wow, this is a really beautiful neighborhood. It’s so clean and filled with nature and neighbors who take great care of their homes and lawns. Look at the holiday decorations! Look at all the squirrels! Look at the crows! They’re huge and scary and those sounds they make are awful! I love this place. I feel so good here! This makes me happy!”
“But I feel sad because this place reminds me of my painful childhood. I grew up on a street much like this one. Maybe there are people in these houses who are just as sad as I was many times…. This is depressing. Besides, I can’t afford to live here. I have no money! Plus, we’re not here forever, we’re leaving soon. This is only temporary housing until we move into his “real” house, where the fire was.”
“Sure, there are sad people living everywhere, so there’s bound to be some here. But the world isn’t all depressed and depressing, you know. Not everyone had a difficult childhood. Not every home life is abusive, and not every family is dysfunctional. There’s lots of good in the world – lots of happy times for everyone, including you! And why are you thinking you can’t afford to live here? You live here now, don’t you? You’re here, living here, belonging here, right now! Make the most of this time to visualize different circumstances in which you live in a neighborhood like this and also have significant economic power and presence. And remember, his “real house” is just 3 blocks away, in a very similar and upwardly mobile neighborhood. The house won’t be as pretty as this temporary one, but remember that it’s three times the size, is being repaired, and has the potential to be just as pretty as it was before!”
After talking myself through that temporary funk, I went from feeling happy to sad then happy again.
I remembered that the past is in the past, the future doesn’t exist (it’s all the present – the now), and that all my power was in the now, only. I also chuckled at myself thinking how I’d been living in this neighborhood for months, would continue to for several more weeks, and simultaneously thinking, “I can’t afford to live here!” That’s like being alive and saying over and over again, “I’m dead,” or laughing uproariously during a joke or comedic show and saying, “I’m depressed.” When we focus on the present moment, we are absolutely in a position to make statements that reflect what’s actually happening, not what we fear or feel badly about from the past or so-called future. (And, if what’s happening in our present is sad or scary, we can use our strengths to re-form our thoughts about, and reaction to, those circumstances or emotions.)
I chose to leave my sad feelings and past behind, and to focus on the abundance of the moment. I chose, while walking through the affluent neighborhood, to think of it as mine. I chose to feel as if I belonged. I chose to imagine my bank account reflected my living there. I chose to pretend and speak aloud sentences that matched my dreams, knowing that my consciousness knows no difference between what is so called “real” and what is imagined. Why would I affirm lack, sadness, and poverty and have my consciousness believe and act on it when I could affirm abundance, joy, and affluence when it would believe and act on that just as well?

So, as I type this to you now, I am not doing so as a broke artist in the temporary housing of her beau. I am doing so as a rich woman living in an expensive house and affluent neighborhood – and totally belonging. In fact, I just re-read that last sentence aloud, and did it feel good! In fact, I’ll make an affirmation of it:
“I am a rich woman living in an expensive house and affluent neighborhood in which I belong and feel totally comfortable.”
Well, I gotta tell you I just read that sentence aloud several times and it feels wonderful!
(I also wrote it down and plan to say it regularly.)

What would you dare to want if you knew your consciousness would immediately begin to create it for you?
What thoughts would you think (About money, your career, life, love, your home life, etc.)?
What affirmations would you write (Always beginning with “I am”, “Now I” or something similar)?
And most importantly, what actions would you take (Even the tiniest baby steps count)?

I’d love to hear your comments! Please email them to me at

Recommended: Orin Journeys (guided meditations) by Sanaya Roman, co- author of Creating Money: Keys to Abundance. Self-actualization topics range from money and relationships to breaking addictions/healing self-destructive behavior as well as advanced techniques including channeling and crystal work. Available at (MP3 downloads always $7 and cassettes on sale for just $3 each!”

*MONEY (My Own Natural Energy Yield) – Iyanla Vanzant

Cassendre Xavier has been making various forms of art in Philadelphia since 1991. Sometimes recording or writing under the names Amethyste Rah and Amrita Waterfalls, she coined the term “renaissance negresse” in 2002, and founded Philadelphia’s Annual Black Women’s Arts Festival, of which she serves as director, in 2003. Cassendre is a recipient of the Leeway Foundation’s Transformation Award “for work in art and change”. She will be a featured artist (performing her original music and writing) at the Erotic Literary Salon on Tuesday, January 19, 2010. For more information, please visit

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Holidays from the renaissance negresse!

Dear One,

Hello! How are you? I mean, really, stop, take a moment, and check in with your breath. How’s your inner chestal reggione feeling? Are the shoulders relaxed? Take a few deep breaths. Maybe stretch like a cool cat. If you’ve been seated for a long time, take this time to stand up for a little while, and reach to the ceiling, filling your lungs and cells with fresh, new oxygen. This is the time to de-stress.
I’m writing to you because although I’ve been so overwhelmed, I’ve been very appreciative of the gifts of grace I’ve been given from time to time. One of the sweetnesses has been holiday wishes.
From electronic greeting cards and forwarded emails to heartfelt Facebook status updates, and even the occasional paper-mailed card (can you imagine?!) it’s just nice sometimes to be remembered.
So I’m taking a moment from my writing schedule, from checking off my “Things to Do List” one by one (very fulfilling!) and stopping to let you know that I know you’re there either running around like crazy, doing a bunch of errands back to back, or putzing about kinda slow and depressed-like, or maybe a little bit of both.
You’re either diggin’, shovelin’, or playin’ in the snow. You’re either home alone or with a partner or with your family. Which ever singular or combined thing, I hope you’re enjoying yourself. Whether glorious solitude or the mixed blessing of friends and family, I wish you a safe, warm, and happy holiday season, however you observe it.

Be well all ways,

Cassendre Xavier (aka Amethyste Rah, aka Amrita Waterfalls)
renaissance negresse (musician, author, visual artist, actress)

Founder & Executive Director of Philadelphia’s 7th Annual Black Women’s Arts Festival (July 29 – Aug 1, 2010) Discounted Early Bird Artist Submissions Ends January 15th! Visit for details.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Volunteer Singers & Musicians Wanted!

Hi, there,

I can't regularly pay musicians, so I thought I'd stop going the regular route and try to find only volunteer musicians- folks who don't need gigs to pay their bills.

I'm a 40 year old plus-sized, black female, award-winning community arts organizer and singer-songwriter with 18 years of performance and recording experience.

I sing, play acoustic guitar, and would like to someday play electric lead while dressed like a cross between Mae West and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

You can hear/see my work here:

What I'm looking for is:

a) Several female vocalists for lots of harmonies similar to Sweet Honey in the Rock
b) A bassist
c) A drummer

My sound is described as "a cross between Tracy Chapman, Sade & Enya" (Steven M. Wilson, Borders Books & Music), and my latest album sounds like a cross between Tania Maria and Bobby McFerrin. All my albums and performances are about 70% original songs and 30% newly interpreted/arranged cover songs.
I also record original affirmation songs and need singers to perform those with me.
I am the sole songwriter and arranger of my group. I'm not seeking nor am I open to any collaboration in that area, so if you have a very strong need to co-write or co-compose, please seek someone else and save us both a lot of time and pain in our mutual heartal reggiones, if you will. (As it were.)

Basically what I'm looking for is folks who really love music as a hobby and who like my music and want to pursue a mutual dream of performing this music for as many people as possible.

Singers don't necessarily have to drive and have a car (though it is preferred), but the drummer and bassist definitely do.

If you're interested, please reply to cxmusic(at) (replace the "at" with "@"), or contact me through any of the previously mentioned links.

Hope you're enjoying your holiday season :-)


Cassendre Xavier
renaissance negresse (musician/author/visual artist/actress)

Founder & Executive Director of Philadelphia's 7th Annual Black Women's Arts Festival
(Thurs July 29th thru Sun Aug 1st, 2010)

Shrimp Savannah: A Recipe

(For seducing a new lover.)


1 medium pot freshly cooked basmati rice
2 cups large (or 3 cups small or medium) shrimp
1 ½ cups fresh or frozen whole okra
6 of the firmest, reddest, medium-sized plumb tomatoes you can find
1 bag fresh organic raw spinach
2 large cloves of freshly crushed garlic
1 t. coarsely ground black pepper
(This ingredient is essential. Do not substitute.)
3 T. tamari or soy sauce
2 generous pinches, or ¼ cup of fresh or frozen basil
(a natural aphrodisiac)
3 T. olive oil
1 fresh lemon
4 T. water

Devein, clean, and rinse the shrimp in hot lemon water. Finely chop the basil and mix it with the tamari/soy sauce, garlic, water, and black pepper. Put these into a bowl with the shrimp, mixing with your clean hand (not a spoon). Think sexy thoughts as you handle the shrimp. Marinate for 2 hours in the fridge. Prepare a large, heavy frying pan or wok with the olive oil. Lovingly layer two of your favourite plates with the rice, spinach, and slices from the tomatoes. Slice them so that they most resemble vulva. Serve with a snakebite (half cider/half beer) or a sweet white wine. Recommended music: Sting's Nothing Like the Sun, or anything by Sade.

From the chapbook "secrets & lies: poetry and other words" by Cassendre Xavier (ARtivist Publications)

Copyright © 2005 by Cassendre Xavier. All rights reserved.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Snow in NY/Erotic Literary Salon 12/15

Greetings, Friends!

Firstly, you know I’m really excited about my participation on Rupert Wates’ recording & live performance project “Joe’s Café”, which is a collection of songs he wrote based on true stories he found in anthologies and news clippings. My song is “Snow in New York”, and after months of rehearsal, Rupert Wates and Friends had our first live concert of “Joe’s Café” in Manhattan on 122 at the esteemed venue the Metropolitan Room. The show was videotaped and here is my part of it – me singing “Snow in New York” You can watch the whole rest of the show by visiting and finding all the “Rupert Wates and Friends” links on that channel.

Secondly, I’ll be working the door at the Erotic Literary Salon tomorrow, Tues 12/15. It’s an absolutely lovely and very special event I’m so pleased to be a part of. I’ll be featuring in January (on the 19th – it’s always the 3rd Tuesday), and really enjoy the atmosphere there. Details:

Hope you’re doing well, and look for my next ME! ME! ME! which will be called “Apology Included” and hopefully both make nice with, and open the eyes of the folks I offended with my last newsletter. If not, well, hey, it won’t be new to me!

Happy holidays,

Cassendre Xavier (aka Amethyste Rah, aka Amrita Waterfalls)
renaissance negresse (musician/author/visual artist/actress)

Founder & Executive Director of the Black Women’s Arts Festival (Est 2003) (Early Bird Discounted Submissions Ends January 15th!)