Recently I sat down with Moya Bailey from the Crunk Feminist Collective to talk about my new book “Dear Universe”. Check out the interview below!
1. What made you want to write a book with this format of affirmations?
My love of affirmation books made me want to put it in this format. I grew up reading books by Iyanla Vanzant, Susan Taylor, Wayne Dyer, Pema Chodron and many more. I love those books and some of them have similar formats as “Dear Universe.” But one thing I realize with them, and the new age movement in general, is that they are sorely lacking in structural analysis and social context. In fact, the new age movement at large has been built upon the exploitation of indigenous and people of color’s beliefs. This has helped to fuel conversations on things like “creating your reality” that completely miss the “realities” of sexism, racism and other forms of oppression. All those things to me seem to be big omissions. So I wanted to create “Dear Universe” in this format so that it could be used as a tool to build upon those conversations. It’s really the first step in a broader dialogue about self/community care, spirituality and emotional wellness that I feel is a large part of my life’s work. That’s why I wanted it to be accessible so that it could not only appeal to progressive communities, but also to the mainstream as well-people of all faiths and political perspectives. It’s small and cute, but packs a lot of power and can catch you off guard at times (Kinda like me I’d like to think! lol)
2. What does the Universe mean to you?
The universe means community. The universe to me cites us as the place where spiritual power lies. When we call on the universe for support or guidance, we are not calling on some externalized far away force. We are calling on ourselves, our families, our communities.
I believe the universe as a theoretical concept can push back against spiritual belief systems that say “God/spirit power is out there somewhere.” This idea has always been troubling to me. It makes me think of the elder christian women I have met throughout my life, who are amazing healers. However, they always said that the power to heal was not them. They didn’t think they had spirit power, but that “Jesus” or someone else only gave it to them at intervals. I often wonder for many of them what their lives would have been like if they believed that power came from within them, not from a man, or anyone else. I always wonder, what more would they have done? How much more could they have healed if they had been able to embody their power differently? This is why I think the Universe as a term can maybe get people thinking differently. Because if you have the power, and if you are the power, then what else is possible?
3. How did you feel while writing the book? Do you practice these affirmations in your own life
When I wrote the book I was depressed. Honestly. I was in the middle of my Saturn return, and most of my life had fallen down around me, along with my idea of who I thought I was. Writing those affirmations was a way to pull myself out of it. I didn’t even consciously realize that was what I was doing, but that’s That’s what Dear Universe did for me. I wrote those affirmations because they were what I needed to hear. They were what I needed to remember to find the strength to pull myself together. People always quote Toni Morrison as saying “ Write the books you want to read” well with Dear Universe, I wrote the book I needed to write to survive. I wrote the book that contained the magic and love that I felt was missing from my life at that time.
And yes, I absolutely practice these affirmations in my own life. I work hard to inscribe them into my everyday way of being. I don’t just read them in the morning; I take them to heart and try to consider them in how I am in the world. This is why writing them down became so necessary to me. I needed them in physical form. I needed them as reminders when the world tries to get me not to trust myself.