In this episode of Wellspringwords: The Podcast, Nkem chats with Aniekeme, life coach, speaker, writer, and lover of NYC. As two proud Leos, they speak from the heart about creative expression and following the inner call. Some of the topics they dive into include creating consistent containers for creative expression, reconciling creative flow and creative production, and the power of trusting our unique journeys. Get ready to receive their enthusiasm and Leo radiance throughout this episode! Let us know what it brought to mind or heart for you in a podcast review, on Instagram, or via email at email@example.com. Be well!
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Aniekeme fits perfectly into the Wellspringwords community as she brings to this episode her specialization in mindset, energy, and all things personal well-being. Nkem and Aniekeme met in 2016 at the African Economic Forum at Columbia University. Nkem was writing and editing for Applause Africa at the time while Aniekeme had just graduated from Columbia and was asked to come back to moderate a panel. They connected over Aniekeme’s fashion blog and how they are both highly creative beings.
What does it mean to be a creative being and how do we come to identify as one? Aniekeme describes it as “I was created and I was created to create”; it's just a natural part of her being and her existence. She started drawing at two or three years old before she even knew how to write. Starting so young shows just how innate creativity is to our collective being and how that natural desire to create flowed out of Aniekeme. Drawing or painting are categorized as ‘normal’ ways to express creativity but creativity has to do with everything that comes through us. We all have different ways in which we access our creativity. Aniekeme cites technology as an example of being highly creative in a more unconventional way–since working with technology means creating products that didn’t exist before. Even the way a taxi driver takes a turn or changes lanes depending on timing and his expert maneuvering the wheel takes creativity.
Creativity manifests in a process – there’s a difference between feeling creative, creating something, and creative expression. For some, their inner creativity and desire doesn't move into the material, where the real labor and birth take place. Just as everything that happens mentally also happens physically, ideas and expression can get stuck in your inner space. An idea starts in your mind, sinks into your body, and then becomes something you’re compelled to do in the world. However, since it sits in both body and mind, if you don’t express, it can become depression. Aniekeme is personally familiar with this through the chakra system as she believes there are physiological effects to having blocked chakras such as blocked creativity manifesting in reproductive complications.
First, an introduction to the chakra system, as it is extremely important to the work that both Aniekeme and Nkem do. The chakra system consists of energy systems within the body. There are seven main chakras along the central part of the body, starting with the root chakra at your reproductive organs. The root reckons with your sense of stability and belonging on earth and is represented by the color red. Next is the orange sacral chakra, which houses the energy behind your sexual life force, creativity, joy, and sense of flow and sits right below your naval (in the womb space for women). Then there’s the solar plexus chakra which houses personal power and willpower and sits above your naval, glowing yellow. Next, the heart chakra, which is a bridge between your body – the earth – and the cosmos. It houses love for all and yourself, compassion, and your deepest desires and is represented by the color green. Moving up, we have the throat chakra, responsible for communication, listening, manifestation, and expression – represented by the color blue. At the center of the forehead and glowing indigo is your third eye chakra, housing inner vision, seeing, intuition, and clairvoyance. Lastly, the violet or white crown chakra at the top of the head houses a sense of connectedness to something bigger than you and all around you: the cosmos. Chakra healing sessions can be extremely useful for checking for blockages and imbalances.
Now that we have a basic understanding of the chakra system, we can discuss how it plays into creativity. Returning back to Aniekeme’s point about how blockages manifest physically, if your creative energy sits at your sacral center but you’re not expressing your creativity, it can manifest in health complications like ovarian cysts, fibroids, and prostate issues. This happens more specifically when occupying a space of rigidity and disconnectedness to your feminine side instead of accessing joy and flow.
An essential part of nurturing creativity is feeling safe and like you belong – energy that sits in the root chakra. For some, this quality comes from within; for others, external validation can play a big role in developing that inner comfort. Earning validation, whether through money. publication, or the praise of other people, can prove that your creations are worthy and respected. Some people need that external validation before they can fully be in their creativity. While that is the case for Nkem, it is not the case for Aniekeme – creativity and expression require different elements to grow to their full potential depending on who you are. Aniekeme believes a healthy root and sacral chakra comes from confidence in who you are and a certainty in your personal power, without requiring that anyone else understand it, support it, or value it. In her life, she’s found that outsourcing validation and control of our inner fire gives away a part of our power. Nkem’s Leo stellium makes her process thrive a little differently. Leo is a fixed fire sign, centered around creative expression and performance; Leo thrives on validation of others and bringing people together at the same time. Nkem knows this about herself but she has also been asking, “What does it feel like to self validate and navigate a nomadic path as per my Sagittarius North Node?” She’s found it to be rewarding to self-validate but accepts that being validated by the right people has more of an impact on her – it is fully needed to do what she is doing and be on her unique path. As Nkem and Aniekeme have demonstrated, it’s highly important to figure out how different kinds of validation, from different people and groups, sit with you, so you know which opinions to truly value.
Aniekeme wasn’t born knowing how to self-validate and allow her truest self to shine despite how others may perceive her – after all she is also a Leo. In her younger days, Aniekeme always sought external validation. Being a Nigerian woman, she was super ambitious and always wanted to be the best at everything, which eventually made her realize that if she’s so in love with her process and what she’s doing, people will follow her energy and validate her. She had to grow into not using that validation as her driving force. Her journey brought her to New York City for college, where she started a fashion blog and then started modeling. Being connected with fashion was always exciting for her and she even dabbled with starting a resale brand – creativity can manifest in so many ways. Though she went to college to be an engineer, she has always loved writing. Till now, she never put a structure on herself to do it consistently but she has recently given herself the space to write and express more often.
As with any skill, maintaining consistency is key when it comes to honing your creative expression. On social media, it’s easy to think people are creating things all the time and have no awareness of the abundant down days that lie between their IG-worthy posts.
When Aniekeme is in a creative funk, she immerses herself in the things that make her feel light, childlike, and relaxed. She lives right by Central Park so she’ll go for a stroll and try to be close to nature. She often listens to the soothing calm of instrumental music and tries not to force the process of creative flow – usually, it comes back just in time for her to remain consistent.
Getting yourself out of a funk carries more or less weight depending on if you create from flow versus creating to produce. It’s sometimes a privilege and always a pleasure to create from a place of flow at your own pace while taking the time to be intentional. However, our collective and capitalist consciousness and the way in which it rewards people often requires a continuation of creativity even when the creative energy doesn’t want to move forward naturally. You may want to have the benefits of money, status, and a network of connections that come with expectations of the current capatalist paradigm, but you can’t always produce in the way you need to in order to meet those expectations. The question is, how do you strike the right balance and move forward in a way that encourages a healthy process? Aniekeme’s methodology lives in maintaining lightness and remembering who she is and why she’s here. Astrology can be a helpful tool to see how creativity comes alive in your life, especially if you have prominent artistic signs such as Leo, Pisces, and Taurus.
All of this is to say, the dance between creativity and capitalism fluctuates between improvisation and choreography. You can always say what you need to say and express freely but when your creative expression is being monitored or validated by a corporation, firm, or organization that requires your creative output to match the image of said organization, it can cause you to lose who you are as a creative being. Authenticity struggles when you’re trying to form your creativity around so many external demands. Aniekeme has mastered this dance and is all for melding personal creativity and capitalism. She believes creativity has a very important role in capitalism and combining the two is essential for the way she prefers to live life. As a creative person, it’s her duty to create in a way that allows her to sustainably create within a capitalist society. She taps into the value she can bring, to who she can bring it to, and at the appropriate price point for that energetic exchange. An essential part of her lifestyle and creative work is creating structures and systems that provide sturdy yet fertile ground. If this is going to be her life’s work, it must be sustainable – for it to be sustainable in her current world, it must sit within capitalism. As we know, we are all on our individual paths so while Aniekeme thrives this way, Nkem wasn’t able to make that dance flow smoothly and had to listen to what truly worked for her creativity and authenticity to thrive. In the same vein, there are so many unsung heroes, local artists, and people creating incredibly meaningful work on small scales compared to what gets attention, but can sometimes feel basic. Maybe these “unsung heroes” are underappreciated but maybe some of them don’t want to blow up and be seen in the way of mass consumption.
Aniekeme’s balance of creativity and capitalism as well as her focus on wellness completely aligns with the circumstances that brought her to this place. When she was 15, she went through trauma that led to depression, and mental wellness was not a societal priority at the time. This catapulted her into the personal development and wellbeing space. She met with several different therapists throughout her journey and poured herself into a deep exploration of self.
One of the most important lessons she’s learned since then is something we talk about all the time on this podcast: the choice between fear and love. While the phrase is one that we are very familiar with here, someone who hasn’t heard it might easily question if it has any real meaning. Understanding the simplistic contrast of fear and love is the baseline to moving towards a more nuanced meaning that becomes identifiable in our everyday lives. The reality is that love and fear encompass so many different emotions – therefore, we are constantly choosing between them. Aniekeme provides a clarifying and relatable example. Imagine you’re about to speak in public – you’re nervous, anxious, and stressed. These are all related to the energy of fear. To shift to love, identify the thoughts that are driven by fear; you’re scared you’re going to mess up but instead, think these people are excited to hear what you have to say. You can consciously replace fearful thoughts with empowering ones after you gain awareness of them. It’s about reclaiming your power to make the choice to think differently, then doing it over and over until it becomes your way of being, until your immediate reaction to public speaking is “Yes! I'm so excited!!”
This reframing of thoughts works not just in the mind, but in the body. Positive thinking can translate to positive feeling for your whole self; it can help put you at ease when you’re up late plagued with those late-night thoughts. Being in tune with your chakras because of how they work in the body, not just in your thoughts, can be beneficial for building these habits – it’s not enough to say positive things but not actually mean it, you have to feel it in your body.
Another topic we love here is following your inner calling and understanding that that call sounds different for everyone. Aniekeme has an MBA and has worked in investment banking, consulting, and tech, but is also passionate about mindset, energy, and self-discovery. Though these paths don’t usually go hand in hand, it’s yet another example of why we should trust our own unique journeys. Whatever you’re doing in your life right now adds up to something – every milestone and every seemingly insignificant moment in between. Aniekeme couldn’t do the work she does now, internal or external, without what she learned prior in all of her niche interests. Ultimately, trust the process! Do your very best in every moment and then when inspiration calls, follow it! Your inner voice is only guiding you to what is truly for you and for your benefit.
You can find Aniekeme on IG and Twitter, LinkedIn, and her website if you’d like to dive into her writing or more of her wisdom. As always, stay connected and become a part of our community! Let us know if this conversation brought anything to mind or heart for you in a podcast review on Apple Podcasts or Podchaser, on Instagram, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be well!