a beautifully Poetic Sunday


For a long time, I did not desire him
so I buried myself in things
that would keep me away:

“got a good book and got all in it,
tried a little yoga for a minute, but it won’t let go…”
click here

He fought for his right to see me
and I ignored his attempts,
unsure of the necessity to have him in my life:

“I just can’t decide
If it’s you I want
Don’t want to choose between
Having you in my life or losing you for real
’cause I caught feelings…”
click here

As much as I could remember the beauty of him, something still pushed me into another zone. The thought of him being a reflection of my good, and my bad, made me want to be free. I wanted to face another reality:

“We were too much the same, and I didn’t know, who to blame, cause I didn’t want to change; and you weren’t going to change…”
click here

I was much more into my own feelings, tired of compromising, tired of insecurities, just so tired of second-guessing, and needing approval. I wanted to float. I chose to live amongst the clouds. It was time to face myself and see the good parts of me. Not the parts of me buried in monotony. I needed an atmosphere that would allow me to grow:

“Here I am, on a cloud
If you want me take the chance try love out loud
As I drift, through the sky
Shooting cupid’s loving arrow you just might try
So don’t miss me, take your time
You’ve only got one chance, yes…”
click here

So, after listening to my heart, I put myself out there. My search had begun. My spirit no longer wanted to live behind a smokescreen. I wanted to live visibly, and openly. I stumbled, off the block. This newness, this world that I was beginning to see, wasn’t familiar. So, I was afraid, at first, but one day, as I mingled, I saw a butterfly, and the beauty of it was astounding, so I chased it:

“See a butterfly
Up in the sky
I got a story to say
And I’ll tell you why
I’m searchin’
You see my friend
And I need someone
Who feels and needs
The same as I
I’m searchin’ …”
click here, baby
♥  ___________________________ ♥
I am out here, in this world, alone most of the time, but not lonely. I needed to know what it felt like to just be me. So thank you Universe for revealing me to me. That friend that I needed, was simply Shila. Everything outside of me, is just a gift, but never again will I exchange my happiness for anything. I am powerful in this way.
♥  ___________________________ ♥
Let’s listen to each other more. We could avoid so much, if we weren’t afraid of what the other might say. Damn. Can we just talk? We have to be brave, because at the end of the day, our hurt feelings are just not the bigger picture.



Peace and love,

Shila Iris

P.S.  I want to shout out GOAPELE. She is a wonderful artist. I have enjoyed pretty much all of her recorded music. I want to make sure you hear this song. It is a reflection of me, and I am sure some of you can relate to every single lyric, just as I. It is amazing how someone else’s art can capture my heart so perfectly.

I find myself writing to this tune. Evolution requires that we face whatever made us hit rock bottom. These “rock bottom recoveries” are what make us and break us. So, this little tune cracked me right open! I had always been somewhat of a poet, writing since I was about 7 years old. Journals and journals full of words and thoughts in metaphors and similes! However, for the past few years, I couldn’t write. I couldn’t figure out why. Had I lost my ability to be poetic? I was stuck in this funk, in a place where I couldn’t arrange my thoughts. I was depressed and frustrated for a very long time. Nonetheless, that is over, and I write all the time! I just needed more life experiences. Sometimes we have to leave our comfort zones to really and truly find ourselves. I am searching. Aren’t we all? If you see me, let’s just have a good time. It’s really about being grown and mature and knowing how to express your love. Not just saying it, but living it. I HAVE NOTHING TO PROVE.

Let’s travel, don’t be afraid. Won’t you be free with me? My final destination, the motherland. That is inside of me.

Roy and I

I Love You Too Daddy


“When you become a parent, your needs no longer are the priority.”

My father looked into my 30 year old eyes. He knew that I had been going through some things. He stared. He couldn’t look away. I could tell that he wanted to save me. I didn’t have to tell him the details because he already knew. He could feel my pain. He hugged me and told his favorite story of me from my childhood. He said, “you don’t know how much I love you. My baby girl! I can’t believe that you are a grown woman.” I gave him a soft smile, in hopes of disguising my pain. I said nothing. My intent was to forgive. I love you too daddy.

This post is to commend the fathers who make their children the #1 priority in their lives.

Up until the age of 8, I saw my father mostly everyday. Then I lost him to the world. He abused drugs, he abused women, and he abused himself. I became afraid of him. He chose these things over me. He chose women over me. He chose the streets over me. He did this for years and no one talked about it. The anger festered. By the age of 15, I was completely and utterly disgusted by him. He was no longer mine. I had to become a woman without him. I no longer wanted him around. The rotten life he’d chosen stunk. I could smell him coming miles away. I ran from him. I couldn’t stand his presence.  It wasn’t so much that I blamed him for anything, it was just, I’d seen him using drugs and it destroyed my image of him. I didn’t know what to say.

I moved away with no send off from my father. I discovered other men. I indulged. I then began to miss him, but I ignored him. He’s always been a loving man. Even through his chaos, he tried to be a part of my life. My heart was ice cold. I could feel him pulling on the strings of my heart. He felt heavy. It took years, but I finally let go of the anger! It wasn’t him that was heavy, he was only a man. Men aren’t perfect. It was me. It was the anger that I was holding onto that was heavy. I had to learn how to shed the burden of judgment. I had to accept his struggle. I have.

Life feels so much better this way. It hasn’t been easy letting go of the anger, but I have and my father has become my friend. He is my protection. He decided that he wanted to be there for me, to stand up for me and he has. The past seems so far away. Thank you daddy for holding my hand.

This post is to commend the fathers who make their children the #1 priority in their lives. In finding my true self, I discovered that the time in which my father was absent most certainly affected my life. It made me weaker in areas where I should have been strong. It made me susceptible to bullshit. It made me think that it was OK to be a rebound. I wanted that male presence. So I compromised. I allowed myself to be treated like a bad habit. I wasn’t the woman that I needed to be. Now, I get to be that. I get to be stronger. I get to blossom into my Queendom. I have forgiven my father, but most importantly, I have forgiven myself. I can finally move forward with LOVE.

I know that it certainly isn’t easy having children. It takes time, commitment, and patience. No child asks to be born. When you become a parent, your needs no longer are the priority. The needs of the child are most important. In the current state of our society, relationships end and children sway in the wind like leaves. Parents pay their child support and see their children sparingly. Don’t let that be your reality. Give your attention and time to your children. Treat them like fixtures in your life. Set your own emotions aside and spend time daily with them. It will pay off. Peace and love to you daddy.

You are my King.

Shila Iris for AfriKan Essence, Thursday, October 16, 2014, 8:56 a.m.

“Affirmation: Today, I will not dwell on the past or the future. I have no need for either, when I step fully into the present. I will no longer hold onto pain until it becomes anger. I will no longer hold onto to pleasure before it becomes an addiction. I will not anticipate pain or pleasure in the future to relieve anxiety. The present is the home of my being. Past and future are only the dreams of whom I was or what I might become. Today, I will release the past and its burden of wounded dreams.  

I see God in you, Queen


You were made in the image of me, so I see God in you, Queen. You are beautiful, and I’m stuck like a deer in headlights. What does your soul taste like?

Treat yourself as the person you want to be, and you will become that. I want to be free. Pictures courtesy of Bella Kinks.

Music and a book.


Dear God make me a bird, so I can fly far, far far away

Call your phone on a late night
I recall your soul and it taste like
Gardens, flowers, Warm Winds
Quit clipping on your feet
Quit clipping on your wings
Sometimes we hate to leave somebody
Whats happening to we?
Warm winds on a space ride
Sometimes, I call your name out loud
Just to make sure it’s you
Sometimes, I crack my veins so bad
Just to see if it’s blue
You clean me up

Sometimes I bite my lips and close my eyes                                                                     Just to pretend it’s you

Long live, lonely thoughts on Thursday nights

That’s when I think of you

We were all thirteen once
Long live tramp stamps and Pepper Ann
You will never judge me for that
You will always love me for that
Posing Beauty: African American Images from the 1890s to the Present

Thank you for being here with me. Chase your soul through the gardens, flowers, and warm winds. “Sometimes I bite my lips and close my eyes, thinking of you.”  Remember good things. Let’s not hide from the truth. Say what you want. Do what you please. And when it is necessary, leave. It’s all good. -Shila Iris

“People are uncomfortable with sexuality that is not meant for male consumption.”


In the spirit of evolution…

Why I Love Erykah Badu

… I am getting to know who the fu*#@ I am! It’s not really that I don’t know what I’m about, it’s about enduring the beautiful struggle and allowing myself to deal with the things that make me uncomfortable. The good and the bad count. Sexuality is one of those great things that I am discovering is not what we thought it was (there are so many things that aren’t what they seem). It has nothing to do with other people. It’s all about how you love yourself. Are we mistakenly relying on other people to confirm our sexual identity? It seems this way. That’s why there are one night stands and so many acts of low self-esteem enveloping women and girls everywhere. Men too. You have to know that all these constructs that we follow are ridiculous. Be exactly what you are. Be honest:

I am a woman. of African descent. living in America. i am taught to hate myself. but I do not. i am taught to be conservative. but I am not. i am uplifted mostly when I am in the nude. but I cover myself. i am thought to be exotic. but i do not allow these silly interpretations to pollute my identity. i am separated from my king. but our greatness cannot be denied. they live in fear of me, so they tear me down. they have stolen many things from my family. but they cannot take what is inside of me. they need money and material possessions to survive. i need something different. i am queen. you can be too. if only you did not operate from hate. i am the only image that i will imitate.

-Shila aka Kush

**** I love that Badu is becoming more and more fearless. Believe it or not, the image above, is not meant for male consumption. You’d better recognize! There is a story to be told and artists will tell it because like the world says, art imitates life. Good stories never die. Much love and respect to queens.

What I’m reading:

The Complete Book of Numerology

P.S. I hope that you will find this book valuable. I do. Become shameless. Become fearless.

peace and love.


The Up Close and Personal Diaries


Kush Queendom Diaries

Welcome. I want to introduce to you my new series of articles and interviews titled: Up Close and Personal. They feature yours truly, but the goal is to speak with other women and men that I find to be significant. I will link them in the menu bar to replace the “Stories” tab. This is the first. Check it out. It’s just about me! Testing the waters to find harmony. Smile.


What is your real name? My name is Shila, but I have some aliases. It’s fun to use different names when writing, performing, or painting. Oh yes, those are some of the things that I do. Ok, so let’s talk about what you do. Honestly, I have a lot of talents and have not yet settled into one. I think as a society, or generation, we are a bit beyond the days where we worked 30 years and retired from the same company. The stability of this lifestyle can be comforting, but I am not that. I need rapid change. However, I need to maintain a steady cash flow to survive. Been shifting a lot lately to secure this level of my life. I live in America. Although I think the concept of money is full of shit, I still gotta pay bills. So how are you maintaining financially? It’s a combination of things. I have a gig and then I do freelance performance art, business writing, graphic designing, I’ve sold paintings. I wish to do better with selling my talents. My entrepreneurial side helps. Do you have children? No. How old are you? 29. Are you going to have children? What! Not sure. I really love my nieces and nephews and find comfort in them when I need to satisfy that instinct. However, I may in another life. What is your average day like? It is not a 9 to 5 type of day. It changes. I have worked very late into the night and very early. This way is better for me. My day is not all about work. I have time for reflection, exercise, connecting with people, some eating, spending time with nature like staring into the sky, walking by Lake Erie, smelling the flowers. It all matters. Hmm. Is this balance a challenge? Yes. I am learning that everything has to be in moderation. Too much or too little doesn’t work. Balance the scales to reduce stress. Have fun, but not before you give it your all. That’s nice. Is this actually working for you? Yes, but it does not exist in the element of perfection. I’m working it out. How are you maintaining your health? Herbs and holistic methods work best for me. I’ve eliminated bread as much as possible because of my sensitivity to gluten. Not much dairy, definitely not milk. Sweets on occasion, if at all. Today I wanted a Krispy Kreme donut, but I resisted. I like broccoli, brussel sprouts, green beans, potatoes, romaine salads with a vinaigrette. I cook veggies in as much garlic and capers as I can stand without becoming offensive to others… the smell! I eat corn chips with hummus weekly. If I am over a friends, I will eat a chip, but I stopped buying them. A few months ago I was adjusting to having gained 10 lbs. I was telling everyone. They were probably cursing me out in their minds because I was going on and on. I should have kept quiet. I was just surprised that one morning I got up and was much heavier than I’d ever been. I couldn’t fit my pants. I was irritated. People actually noticed that I had gained weight! Now recently, I lost 15 lbs without even being aware that I was losing weight. This happened in a month. It teaches me that I should not speak of the unimportant. I should just try to balance it all out. Make it count in a different way. My weight is not a problem. Just eat to live. No complaints. If I gain a little weight tone it up. If I lose it, do the same. I also love wine both dark and light. I am careful with the alcohol. It’s full of calories. But I like it too. Smile. That’s cool! Have you been published? Well, yes I have worked with a local magazine for a few years- articles, photos and photo manipulation, poetry, and this blog is a publication. I want to go farther with this, though. I want to do some serious editorial publishing. I want to conquer the challenges of reading. and get people to read what I write. I want to delve into the element of persuasion with the pen. What is your style of music? Oh my, it’s so much. Right now I am listening to N.E.R.D. and Kelis. In my music library you can find Badu, L. Hill, Sade, Sweetback, Gregory Isaacs, The Jackson 5, Common, Telepopmusik, The Roots, De La Soul, Tribe, Tupac, early Alicia Keys music, Esthero, Lucy Pearl, Aerosmith, Bjork and Portishead, Me’Shell Ndegeocello, Amy Winehouse, Anita Baker, The Art of Noise, Asa, Nneka, Ambrose Akinmusire, Bilal, Maxwell, D’Angelo, Alanis Morisette, SWV, Brandy, Xscape, Janet Jackson, TLC, 702, 112, Donell Jones, Carl Thomas, Tweet, Enigma, Madonna, Etana, Eurythmics, Eric Roberson, Gaelle, Carlos Santana, Goodie Mob, Fisk University Jubilee Singers, Floetry, Watts Prophets, The Verve, Black Starr, Skye aka Morcheeba, Miles Davis, Musiq… and the list goes so far and wide. Lots of people have good things to say lyrically. You get excited about music? Most definitely. I love to hear a lot of the old and some new like LiAnn La Havas, Esperanza Spalding, Quadron, Janelle Monae… shit! I hesitate when talking about new music. I really have to search my brain when trying to think of newer artists that resonate. The world is evolving and there are still those out there with major talent. You have an interesting style. What inspires your dress code? It’s all me. I don’t mimic anyone or anything. When I’ve tried to be sexy or cute, it didn’t work out spiritually and it attracts an attention that I do not need. So I keep it queen-like. I’m Shila. That’s all. But, there are some artists out there whose styles I like. Les Nubians. Whoa! Beautiful. Erykah can do no wrong when it comes to dress! Nneka has this rugged look that I adore. Solange is OK because she isn’t mainstream with her dress code. I definitely dig her hair. Jill Scott has a nice look. Boy does she wear that smile! That’s pretty much it. I don’t model myself after anyone, though, especially not entertainers. Why did you name your blog African Essence? I was trying to represent what’s inside of me- the style, the story, the real deal. I feel close to my ancestors. I do not want to ever repress my true roots. I feel it in my soul. I love the culture within. I project it. I actually am at the point where I want to change the name. I’ve evolved into something else. That’s coming. I’ve noticed that you read a lot. Yes. Honestly, it has been so hard to maintain a regular reading schedule, but sometimes I have to just stop, put it all down and read…  and I don’t want to read online or using an eReader. I need the book to be in my hand. I want to feel the spine, the pages.Yes! Even with magazines and newspapers, CD inserts! I like the smell. I like the physical. Any favorites? For some reason Lerone Bennett Jr’s Before the Mayflower is a book that I cherish. I have 4 editions of it. My favorite mag is WaxPoetics. Whatchu know about it!? I discovered this magazine in ATL at a record store in Little Five Points. Been in love ever since. I read mostly non-fiction African-American Lit/Black Studies. I also read a lot of books based in Buddhist philosophies, art and science rituals, things like that. What is the up close series about? I tend to open up like a flower when I am around the right people. They love that I am not afraid to tell the truth. I love that they appreciate a good story and listen so well. I say some interesting things. I am more interested in the things that others have to say, so here I am. As an aspiring writer, it is important that I take this challenge- get people to open up just like me! It’s so much better when we tell the truth… with humility. Tell us something interesting, Shila. About you. Oh wow! I suppose this is the point of it all! Ok, so you really want to know? Here it is! I do not believe in religion or marriage as practiced in doctrine. I believe in a higher connection with the Creator, Universe, and with people! It gets better than what’s on paper and in a book. Don’t hate me! Smile. Peace.

Interview conducted by the spirit of Gil Scott-Heron – haha

Gotta, gotta read. Trying to finish the Questlove book and I am looking forward to reading The Hip Hop Generation by Bakari Kitwana.

16131189       The Hip-Hop Generation: Young Blacks and the Crisis in African-American Culture

Finding harmony,



Embrace Your African Essence


Embrace  Your AEBe creatively righteous in displaying your Goddess beauty. You can be fashionable and righteous in your style of dress.

Peace, Power & Love

I am the Kush Queen (not marijuana, lol).

Reading: Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology by Barbara Smith


5 Star Rating… that means it’s a really good book!



Lovin Oprah These Days… She Can Rock an Afro!


This is Oprah on the cover of the September 2013 issue of The Oprah Magazine. I am really digging her boldness these days. She is fun, open, and risky! That is a great way for a woman of her age to be- ageless at heart! The point of it all: Tressed to Impress, all about the hair.  I really just think that she is visually showing what it feels like to experiment with and to explore hair. I love the textured fro. Beyonce’s stylist allowed her to borrow it and it weighs in at 3.5 lbs. Wow! It is reminiscent of Chaka Khan, Diana Ross, and Ms. Badu:

Oprah says that she wish this wig were her own hair. I love it! She talks about hair because she wants to know why it has such a hold on women. I agree. Oddly, I asked my friend yesterday what he thought about my hair over the phone. I dyed my hair and the roots had begun to show and I wanted to know what he thought about that. He said to me: you are focusing too much on it! You have good taste and it’s beautiful any way you wear it. I believed him. He isn’t shallow at all (but he cannot stand weave!). I could come out any way that I pleased and he would not care. Gotta love a good friend! This is the biggest my hair has been. I only wore it like this for a photo shoot. I couldn’t handle it the next day day. The Afro pics were of me in Vegas at an NBA party! It was so much fun!

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Well, I believe that the hair/head is a crown and it should be cared for with love, but, if it becomes consuming then think about a cut! For me, hair is most beautiful in its natural texture. Not chemically processed or dyed. What you were born with is what you must love. Everything else is just temporary decoration. Colors and weaves should not define a woman. We must show our own hair and love it. I love my bush. Do you?

The Kush Queen aka Queen Duafe aka Shila Iris aka ishilai aka The Fifth Element for African Essence Blog