Little Brown Skin Girls – the Artist behind the Art

I’d like to introduce you to Lia Nelson – James, owner and CREATOR of Little Brown Skin Girl Scrap Paper Art. I wanted her to tell her story about how Little Brown Skin Girl came about and why she’s looking forward to being able to take the business to its next level.

 

Lia cropped

I was born and raised in the Denver-Metro area. I earned a Bachelor of Science from Colorado State University, a Masters of Art from Regis University and have worked in higher education for the majority of my life.

In the Beginning

The term, “little brown skin girl”, is a phrase that had been ‘tossed’ around in my growing up world for many years.  Little brown skin girls were girls/women of color and when telling stories or recounting a tale of some sort, it was used to give a positive perspective on the varied aspects of skin hues, of minority, specifically African American, women. My family had many strong matriarchs and this phrase was a term of endearment as well as identification; it represents time spent with mothers, grandmothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, extended family, and various personal and family friends.

As I grew older the phrase, little brown skin girl, was one I used as a special communication with my mom.  I would end our conversations with statements such as, “good night little brown skin girl,” or “see you later little brown skin girl,” offer warnings such as, “be careful little brown skin girl,” etc.  It was a way of saying I love you and I know you love me, I appreciate all that you are as a woman and I value you in my life.

For years, I’d make pieces on commission for a particular occasion or to give as gifts. When my husband and I bought our first home together, it had huge walls.  I worked to make beautiful, unique Little Brown Skin Girl art that represented our genetic history and background, and hung those around the house in place of a more traditional décor.

Just recently though, Little Brown Skin Girl art creation took on a more personal purpose.

It’s About Family Legacy

Growing up, I watched my dad work on all kinds of things; cars, plumbing, electrical anything, light carpentry and on the side, eclectic artwork.  He would draw, etch glass, engrave metal projects, and create wire sculptures; his expressions were incredible although he was never quite satisfied with them. It seemed there was nothing he couldn’t do, or at least attempt to do.  I was always amazed at how he would just jump in and create something.

Once my father’s health started to decline, my sister and I took turns sitting at the house in the evenings with my dad until my mom came home from work. When it was my night to sit with my dad, I found that I needed something to do with my nervous energy.  I created pieces to pass the time, to illustrate fond memories of my dad, and ultimately as  a way to express my grief once he passed.

My desire  is to grow Little Brown Skin Girl Scrap Paper art into a business that honors my father’s creative spirit and serves as a lasting tribute to not only him but to the special family times, the strong matriarchs, the dreams held by children, and the strong cultural history of my people.

LBSG 1

With the money we’re raising, Lia will be able to register and trade mark Little Brown Skin Girl Scrap Paper Art. From there, she’ll launch her web gallery where folks can commission one of a kind pieces or select from a variety of products imprinted with a picture of a Little Brown Skin Girl work of art.

For those of you in the Denver area, mark your calendars for June 4th, 6:00 PM for the opening reception of the Little Brown Skin Girls Scrap Paper Art Exhibition . Framed pieces will be on display and for sale for the entire month of June in the prestigious gallery of the Blair-Caldwell African-American Research Library, located in the Historic Five Points District, Denver, CO. The reception is free an open to the public.

Embraceable – A Quick Chat with August McLaughlin

Valentine’s Day. You’re told that much like Christmas, the best way to show your love is to shower your special someone with gifts and attention. That’s all well and good, but when was the last time you were told to do that for yourself? Women especially are taught how to show others love, but there’s a definite lack of encouragement when it comes to learning how and showing ourselves some much needed TLC.

Thankfully, there’s a movement afoot; one that’s teaching women how to embrace and love all aspects of their beings. It is my pleasure to introduce one of the forerunners in the movement, Ms. August McLaughlin,

…the award-winning, nationally recognized health and sexuality writer and host and creator of Girl Boner®. Her work appears in DAME Magazine, the Huffington Post, The Good Men Project and more. Kirkus Reviews called her first novel, In Her Shadow, “an engaging story with an inventive structure and an intriguing focus on body-image issues.” Her latest book, Embraceable: Empowering Facts and True Stories About Women’s Sexuality, is a celebration of women’s sensuality. Each week on Girl Boner® Radio, she interviews relationship experts, celebs and more, exploring women’s lives and sexuality “like no one else.” Known for melding personal passion, artistry and activism, August uses her skills as a public speaker and journalist to inspire women to embrace their bodies and selves, making way for fuller, more authentic lives.

August McLaughlin
Bio

August has stopped by the Nowata Press Publishing and Consulting blog to promote her latest book, Embraceable: Empowering Facts and True Stories About Women’s Sexuality and to talk about why self-love and acceptance is so important in women’s lives.

embraceable

Nowata: I’m so excited to have you on the blog. I’ve followed you for a while now and I’ve had several questions I’ve wanted to ask. I’m even more curious now after having enjoyed reading Embraceable… What struck me the most when it comes to the stories I hear or read that concern women and their self-esteem, is how the majority of the stories all start with some form of abuse. Why do you think that is?

August: It’s a mind-boggling atrocity, and mighty complex. I’ve heard people—including some experts—say that men sexually assault women “because they can,” or that there’s a biological component. I have more faith in humanity than that, and see far more influences that have little to do with science and everything to do with what we learn.

Women continue to be objectified and disrespected in countless ways. Sexuality is stigmatized, with most kids learning virtually nothing about it, outside of a single, misleading class or two. Harmful myths, such as “boys will be boys,” carry on. And there’s still stigma around being victimized. All of this contributes to rape culture.

Nowata: Speaking of men and rape culture, do you think a lot of men’s issues can be associated with them being raised to be as disconnected from their true sexual selves like women are?

August: I think men struggle as well, but often in different ways, because of societal messaging. There’s still this idea that men should be “macho,” and sexual in particular types of often unrealistic ways. They’re taught that they should be all about the physical, versus cultivating or honoring their need for emotional intimacy—which is a beautiful strength, not a weakness.

Nowata: I know there are plenty of women who would benefit from the knowledge found in the stories the contributors tell, but I’m wondering if men wouldn’t find the stories enlightening and maybe open the door for the changing of their minds as well. Do you think your book would work well as a conversation starter for couples?

August: I’d love for folks to use it to start conversations! If anyone reads the book and relates to a particular struggle or desire, especially one they’ve had difficulty addressing, they can share the story with their partner — or a therapist or trusted friend.

Nowata: How would you recommend someone start the sharing process?

August: A simple, “Hey, you’ve got to read this story. It really struck me,” can go a long way.

Nowata: I know sexuality plays a big part in how women are shamed or guilt-ed into feeling negatively about themselves. It seems that almost all of the women in your book began their journey’s to self-acceptance through learning how to bring themselves to joy through masturbation. For me, masturbation, while providing a release of sorts, didn’t equate to showing myself love and acceptance. For other women like me, what would you say are some of the best ways women can show themselves physical love, outside of masturbation?

August: I love this question! Rather than shame our bodies, we can nurture them. We can seek and give hugs, aim for sufficient nightly sleep, take warm baths, go hiking and take time to breathe. I personally love to take my time applying lotion. Simply slowing down to pay attention to self-TLC can be really powerful.

Nowata: I’d love to do a more extensive Q&A – there are so many more questions I have for you, but I know you’ve got to make it to the next stop on the blog tour. Before you go, last question – what does the rest of 2016 look like for Girl Boner? Do you have any special events, book signings, tours, speaking engagements, coming up?

August: I’m still finalizing my speaking schedule (and other fun surprises! :)), but anyone interested can stay informed through my homepage and blog. A new Girl Boner® Radio episode releases every Wednesday, which you can be sure to receive by subscribing on iTunes. This year, I’m really striving to reach more people and do more good.

Well, I’m more than happy to help you reach folks with your wonderful message and much needed information on women’s sexuality and self-acceptance. I agree that it is high time for women to embrace all of what makes us wonderful, worthy, amazing human beings.

Thank you dear reader for joining us today. Get your copy of Embraceable: Empowering Facts and True Stories About Women’s Sexuality on Amazon and Barnes and Nobel.com.

You can find August McLaughlin on WordPress and Facebook.   And don’t forget, you can listen in to her show Girl Boner Radio via iTunes.

RIPs

Natalie Maria Cole was an American singer, songwriter, and performer. The daughter of Nat King Cole. She rose to musical success in the mid–1970s as an R&B artist with the hits “This Will Be”, “Inseparable”, and “Our Love”.
Born: February 6, 1950, Los Angeles, CA
Died: December 31, 2015, Los Angeles, CA
Nicholas Caldwell
Singer, a founding member of the Whispers
Born: April 5, 1944, Loma Linda, CA
Died: January 5, 2016, San Francisco, CA
David Robert Jones, known as David Bowie, was an English singer, songwriter, record producer, painter and actor.
 
Born: January 8, 1947, Brixton, London, England
Died: January 10, 2016, Manhattan, New York City, US
What a way to start the new year, eh? smh…

 

Because I can barely keep this a secret.

His name isn’t important to this piece right now.  What’s important is that I LOVE him, that I am IN LOVE with him. My usual MO is to abandon myself to the feeling; to lose myself in his life.  To “chameleon” my way into being what he needs, wants, all the while letting my self go unattended.

And that is the tragedy of my past loves. I stopped loving me in order to love them.

I’ve begun loving myself though.  I’ve fallen in love with the “perfect imperfection” that is me – I love how when I’m really excited, I act like a four-year old in a toy store; I see things in their brightly colored wrappers as if they’re brand new to me. I drop cool points like hot coals as I giggle, grin, and tear up. I enjoy that it doesn’t take much to bring me peace; that I don’t need expensive baubles to show to the world. I love that I don’t know, that I don’t retain trivia, that I don’t follow propaganda and rumor or trends and fads.  I LOVE that the right touch tingles, that I feel things to extreme – deeply, passionately, openly. I love that there is room in my world for other’s opinions, beliefs, ways of doing things and that I don’t feel any need to change their minds, or bring them around to my way of thinking. I feel amazing in my soul when others feel comfortable enough around me to let their guard down and be their true selves; that my acceptance of others is palpable. I especially love the voices in my head – because of them I am never, really alone.  They’ve brought me my stories, my insights; they’ve protected me and helped me survive. I love that sometimes my behavior triggers feelings of discomfort or even embarrassment in people around me. Going new places, road trips, cruises, being on the ocean or near large, immense bodies of water – all things that bring out that little kid in me.

And then, there’s him.  Our story began over 20 years ago.  Twenty-eight years to be exact – at times, I’ve felt angry at how quickly those years passed.  How he has spent the majority of them giving someone else the very things I’ve longed for, craved.  Not money but his time, attention, care, and affection.  He’s traveled the world, had experiences that I would have given just about anything to have shared with someone special. And now, here we are, tentatively exploring the possibility of becoming “us” just as I’m discovering “me”.  I want to travel to places he’s already been, I want to have experiences he’s already lived. I want to do them with him, but if it comes down to it, I’ll go alone.

I’ve learned what true, deep, soul soothing, peace bringing love is. It’s staying on my path, being true to myself.  It’s standing in my light and offering to warm others in the heat. It is doing what I feel will bring me peacefully to my joy with consistency and comfort.

Ah, but there are moments when I’m giddy with the feel of his words spoken in my ear. He’s reached into my heart it seems, and plucked out the phrases I’ve been desperate to hear. I was immediately lulled into feeling safe for the first time no sooner than I was in his arms. He embodied the description, written in the stillness of longing, the quiet depth of heartbreak that I’d committed to the pages of my journal. Physical descriptions, what this ideal love would say or do…he looks just as I described and has already uttered two of the key phrases. I fear that with a third, I will be undone.  Yet I believe he will. He will speak those words without hesitation or pretense. He will speak to me as he has always done, from his heart. And just as I did before, as I’ve done all these years of separation, I will answer with mine.  He will actively pursue me in such a way as I will gladly be caught. I have already begun to see myself in a more feminine light because he is so strongly, the man I’ve wanted.

I have believed and preached for years that the RIGHT relationship – be it platonic or romantic – is one in which you are supported in becoming a better you.  You feel compelled to shine in all your glory without fear of rejection, judgement, or abandonment. Hours into our first conversation, I felt those stirrings of my truer nature as they responded to him. A sense of acceptance has enveloped me ever since.

*sigh* He sings me love songs, smh.  You have no idea how significant that is to me, lol.  I won’t bore you with why.  In fact, I’ve taken up quite enough of your time already. I just had to get this out.  I’m so madly, shamelessly, joyfully, in love – not just with him, but with the me I’m returning to.  It’s getting impossible to contain.

Is it really “hard” or is it that I just don’t want to do it?

(Mod One, day six)

Today’s contemplation – what do I really mean by “this is hard?”  As in difficult to accomplish.  Is it that the task I’m talking about is really difficult for me to do or is it more that I don’t want to do it?  Claiming that something is intrinsically problematic or strenuous highlights a perceived (often incorrectly perceived) weakness. By saying something is “hard”, I’m indicating that I don’t have the ability to do it with ease; I’m not strong, smart, rich, whatever – enough to get the job done.

I tend to deem anything that causes me to feel uncomfortable as “hard”.  I shrink from it, I retreat.  Where did I learn to do that? When did I learn it? I was one of those kids who didn’t think much about personal safety when it came to life. I suppose much of it had to do with not realizing I was mortal. Had no idea that there was such a thing as DEAD even though I’d seen my share of dead things – road kill, goldfish, and the like. But until I got it that one day I’d be DEAD, I went about my day getting into things. I would jump off of stuff, fall down only to get up and try it again. I would talk to strangers, take walks by myself anywhere my curiosity took me.  I would touch strange animals, pet strays – I adopted a hedgehog once. Gave me a nasty allergic reaction but I didn’t care.  Walked into a bee hive once too.  For some reason, all those bees hovering about the hive in a stand of trees wasn’t a deterrent to me finding out what hid behind that mound of dirt.

The reality of DEAD shouldn’t be a show stopper and neither should “hard”.  Not even if “hard” leads to DEAD.  Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy not being DEAD, butcemetery gates there’s no getting around it, I’m going to die.  Most living things don’t regenerate cells fast enough to be immortal. Organs get old, blood vessels break down, cells disintegrate and aren’t replaced. It’s going to happen so why have I let “hard” stop me from doing what I wanted to do?

Ah ha.  Because in reality, I didn’t want to do it. For whatever reason, I didn’t want to do the work it would take to accomplish the task.  Being aware that it’s a choice; I can choose to do the work or not.  That’s power. That’s admitting that even though I have a myriad of skills I can utilize to do what needs to be done, it is my CHOICE whether or not I want to do it.  There may be times when my skills are indeed lacking in a particular area which may add an extra level of challenge to the task at hand but guess what? If I choose to take on that task, I know I have the ability to ask for help when needed.  POWER. So no, it’s not about “hard”, it’s about “want.”  The trick now is to decide what it is I REALLY want; what it’s going to take to get it, and then getting it done.

It’s just day six and so much has come to me.  The name of the book is now, “Un-apologetically Me”.  It’s NOT another self-help book, but if anyone reading it is inspired to follow in my footsteps, the modules will be there as exercises. Outside of the book, don’t know if there’s a business op lurking. I have teaching / coaching tendencies, but I’m of the mind-set that unless the person is soul deep in their desire to change, to heal, to find their way to their next level self, then there’s nothing I can do or say or write for that matter, that will bring positive change to their lives.  This truly is an inside job. I opened my mind to changing my life and THEN the “right” gurus showed up (Danielle LaPorte, I’m looking at you 🙂 ) with the words and tools that resonated with my journey. Anyway, we’ll see.  

As usual, thanks for stopping by and spending some time with me here at the blog. It’s getting cozy between the sheets again, eh?  And, OMG – would someone please start chucking ideas for what to call this train of posts at me.  “The Satin Sheet Diva Experience” –  just, ugh! lol…

I’ve decided to turn the blog over to the personalities for a bit. Ana in particular needs an outlet for all of her pent-up energy and if I don’t give her something to do, I’m afraid she’s going to turn to less positive pursuits.  With that, make note:

  1. This blog will be rated NR-17 until further notice. The author is not responsible should you chose to read and become offended or Heaven forbid, curious enough to ask your parents to explain things to you. When asked where you got such outlandish ideas or learned those new words and phrases, have the decency to be honest and tell them you were reading something clearly marked for mature audiences only.
  2. Ultimately, I am my personalities and they are me. So the thoughts and ideas expressed are still my copyrighted property and should not be copied, quoted, or otherwise used without my clearly expressed (written) consent.  As with sex, if you don’t get a clear “yes”, then it’s rape and punishable to the furthest extent of the law.
  3. All names have been changed to protect myself from litigation. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental or the recognition of the guilty parties.  Don’t worry though, your secrets are still safe with me.

With that being said, I believe Ana is chomping at the bit to do her first post. I so hope this works…