Embracing Authenticity: Ayana Crichlow

Meet Ayana Crichlow, a vibrant writer, podcaster, and spiritual explorer whose journey to self-love and authenticity shines through her creative works. From her insightful podcast “Cocoa In De Sun” to her captivating novels and poetry, Ayana’s mission is clear: to inspire others to embrace their passions and follow their hearts. Through introspection, meditation, and storytelling, she shares empowering messages of self-acceptance, resilience, and the beauty of imperfection. Join us as Ayana delves into her personal journey, the challenges she’s faced, and the profound impact she hopes to make on her audience.

What motivated you to start the “Cocoa in De Sun” podcast and write the novel?

I started Cocoa In De Sun in 2019/2020 because I wanted to share thoughts about my journey to a better self and living a life I loved.  At the time after being a contributor on Huff Post they had canceled the contributor platform suddenly and  I wanted another way to reach people but after a few months of no success with the podcast, life and living distracted me and I just stopped doing the podcast episodes but I never deleted the podcast or the instagram. 

I restarted Cocoa in De Sun this year after losing my job in November and having an even deeper connection to aspects of myself that surprised me and as a result I was having spiritual insights and understandings and perspectives of my life that I thought may help others and I wanted to have the conversation with anyone that would listen.  So I found the podcast space again and I LOVE IT, even if I do not have many listeners, I simply enjoy just having the conversation.

I also wrote the books for the same reason, just to express as this is what I enjoyed most, sharing my thoughts and ideas and hoping it helps others on their own journey. All the books are self published as I saw them as art and an authentic expression of myself, and saw each flaw or error in the books as imperfections that made the work more me. I could not conform to categories so I chose to self publish as I knew agents and publishing companies would not understand. I have self published a poetry book, 2 novels and a few children’s books.

I will link the books and the youtube and apple podcast links below so you can get a better vibe of me.

Apple Podcast:  ‎Cocoa In De Sun � on Apple Podcasts

HUFF POST: Growing Up a Black Girl in Trinidad

Can you share a bit about your personal journey and how it influenced your creative work?

My personal journey has definitely influenced my creative work, in that it is all my creative work is about really.  I write and talk about what new things I am learning and loving about myself in the podcast.  Originally from Trinidad which was steeped in colonialism and colorism when I was growing up, it affected my self esteem, not just by things said but things unsaid can be just as loud. Leaving trinidad at 17 to live in America, although colder in some ways in terms of caring as it was, America was also very freeing and I Started to learn to love myself by seeing how others that looked like me seemed to love themselves or were at least less confined by the colorism so embedded and accepted in Trinidad.

Embedded to the point that it seemed to not exist as it was not ever spoken about just simply understood. Though this unraveling is still occurring I am in a much more loving place than I was 20 years ago.  I still ended up in an abusive relationship but got out of it as soon as it got physical, so although I still fell into many of the scenarios that plague individuals that have low self esteem, I was still able to accept much less of it than others before me had or may have. Previous women in my line have stayed much longer in situations that I did not.

So I was growing, I think. I grew enough to realize that although I had 2 good jobs as a nurse and I was making good money that I was not happy, and needed to find out what made me happy beyond having things around 2017. I found that I preferred telemedicine work if I had to work, but I preferred writing and talking and conversation if I was truly myself. So I found a happy medium with the self publishing and HuffPost articles while still working in a nurse job that I did not hate.  But as you learn more and more about yourself and your joys, you get less and less ok with accepting anything that does not bring you joy. So in 2023 I went for something called QHHT Hypnosis which really accelerated the spiritual journey and here I AM.

Have you faced any challenges or struggles along the way, and how did you overcome them?

Yes, I have faced challenges and struggles.  I am not successful in the traditional sense, although I am the happiest I’ve ever been. I don’t have a stable job, I don’t have a lot of listeners on my podcast, my podcast is not monetized, it makes me no money, neither have any of my books.  I am currently unemployed.  BUT I now define success as anytime I am able to do what I want instead of what I should do. So success is waking up when I want, doing what I want with my day, not having anxiety, trusting that everything will work out and somehow it does in a strange way. Success is opportunities that are aligned with my passions, inspiration for my podcasts, cooking, painting.  Success is genuine conversations that fill my soul or a hello from a neighbor.  Success is hearing back from YOU!!!!!!!!!

So I got to this new perspective by first being true to myself and what I want to do, this allowed for situations to show up where I had to face my fears about needs being met, doubts about things working out, and embedded beliefs about what I deserve and what happens in my life, beliefs and fears and doubts I would never have faced had I not been in these situations brought on by following my authentic self, my authentic self being what gives me joy that is not attached to money circumstances. So although I feel like I still have some work to do for my conscious life to reflect my inner knowing, I now know that it will, that  my faith is stronger, my trusting of self is stronger, my coping mechanisms such as stillness and qigong and asking guides and angels for signs, dreams, my trusting in the divine due to experiences and synchronicities, that affirmations work etc, all these aspects of my life help me overcome daily, moment by moment.

How do you balance your creative endeavors with other aspects of your life?

Generally I believe when I am working 40 hours a week my creative ideas are pretty much non-existent or minimal.  I have been unemployed since November 2023 and though it can be scary at times financially it has been a freeing time.  And I am able to pursue my creative aspects much more.  I have time for poetry, painting, cooking, baking, reading, podcasts and deep thoughts.  My hope is to somehow maintain myself in such a way I can do what I want with my time. I have not figured how yet but the answer is there, somewhere in the vast aether of quantum space.

What advice would you give to women who are looking to pursue their passions and share their insights with others?

Go for it!!! In the ways that bring you JOY!!!!  In the way that is possible for you now, just do it.  A way always opens, if not in that exact moment, in the BEST moment for you!! Have faith that your life is to be happy and enjoyed and your passions are pivotal to that.

How has meditation and introspection played a role in your creative process?

Definitely, I find stillness meditation works best for me.  I did not know that stillness meditation was what I was doing until recently. All I knew was that every evening I had to watch the sunset and be still, I loved this time of day and would stop what I was doing to do this. This stillness allows for ideas and thoughts and understandings to flow through, it allows for peace and feelings of harmony, feeling connected, all of which are important to the creative process for me. This allows for more clarity, the next steps show up, or maybe something will come up that I need to clear in order to allow the new to come.. It can help in so many ways. I also had a dream of Qigong and that has been helpful for me too.  Sound Baths are also major!!!!!

Can you discuss the themes or messages you aim to convey through your podcast, novel, and poetry?

Love of self and following your heart’s joys are themes that I follow in my own life and what I want to share with others. This seems simple but sometimes it is not. As someone that did not always think lovingly to myself I had to learn and there are many different layers to this.  I want to be able to share this complexity in a language that everyone can understand, and how it leads to a life you love specifically curated for you.

What impact do you hope your work will have on your audience or readers?

I hope it shows them that loving yourself is what leads to all the things that bring them  joy authentically.  That they learn to trust themselves and their own guidance, that nobody has what they have to offer and the world needs whatever it is. 

That imperfection is the perfection, that is where all the learning is, all the expansion into understanding yourself and loving yourself truly comes from the imperfections and this then expands to understanding and loving others, but it must start with you. The hard lessons learnt contained a ton of wisdom.  How to retain the wisdom but let go of the trauma. That life can be a beautiful journey based on perspective. 

Are there any particular women or mentors who have inspired or supported you in your journey?

Not in my life currently but I think the stuff I like may be out of the norm for most. In regards to inspiring women as a whole, I find the work of Dolores Cannon quite amazing as it would have sounded crazy in her day and she still went forward with her research.  Audre Lorde just simply as a WOMAN and a CARIBBEAN WOMAN at that.  Toni Morrison for writing about women that did not fit the ideals of what women should be but strength and beauty in women as they are, intriguingly unique.

How do you stay motivated and inspired during times of doubt or creative blocks?

In regards to doubt or fear I push through as I know on the next side is a new strength, a new thing I can do, a new fear conquered.  In regards to creative blockers I stay still, being still is important to me when I don’t know what to do, I wait until I know, however long that may take.

What future projects or goals are you currently working on or planning?

I have 2 other podcast I am working on VOG CARIBBEAN ( a podcast for caribbean folklore and perspectives) and HELLO FRIEND NEWS (A podcast that share news like a friend talking to you that consists  33% regular news and 66% good news) – I think media is contributing heavily to the fear that exists and it should be more balanced, like yes society is messed up but also there is a lot of beauty and good people in the world too and they should be the example.

How important is it for you to connect with your audience, and how do you cultivate that connection?

This is what I crave but have not had many opportunities to do.  I try to answer the few comments I get on youtube but I would love to facilitate more conversations and have others share their own insights in my comments if possible as this will help others. 

What role do you think storytelling plays in empowering women and fostering change?

I think storytelling is integral to empowering women as it feeds the imagination to further ideas of what could be. I am currently listening to “Magdalene Revealed” on audible and the author refers to the story of Thecla and Perpetua on the early gnostic texts and was like WOW, we need theses stories, not just for women but society on a whole can learn from these stories of believing in yourself when others doubt and your own inner knowing and how this empowers.  But definitely women need these stories as it just solidifies that we always have been knowing, lol.

How do you define success in your creative endeavors?

Success is following my heart’s joys in every minute of the day.

Can you share a memorable experience or feedback from your audience that has impacted you?

When I did the article about growing up black in Trinidad and I had feedback from Malaysia and India in regards to how darker skinned individuals are treated not as well as light skinned individuals, this let me know that my experience was universal and showed I could connect with other cultures.

Although Trinidad may still have issues with colorism that it may have improved somewhat since my childhood and I do recognize how young the country is, as it only gained independence in 1962. Progress does take time and being gentle and allowing for grace helps but awareness is a must for progression

Amazon Books : Amazon.com : ayana malaika crichlow

by Harness Editor

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