February 6, 2023

Exploring Art, Music & Connection with Mika James

Stephanie and Mika James talk about exploring art, music, and connection on the Beyond Dating podcast. Mika speaks about her experience growing up as a black woman who identifies as pansexual and how it was not something that was discussed or accepted in her family until recently. Mika also mentions her coming out process, which was gradual and made in passing. She mentions finding her community of like-minded individuals has been a challenge for her, especially after moving to Miami from New York. Mika values connection, community, art, health, comfort, and genuine relationships.

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[00:00:00] Mika: The most important relationship that you will ever have, the most important love story that you'll ever have in this lifetime is the one that you have with yourself

[00:00:13] Stephanie: today On Beyond Dating Podcast, we had a special guest, Mika James, and she told us about sensuality and her experiences exploring modern dating as a black women.

[00:00:43] Mika: And our

[00:00:43] Stephanie: sponsor for today's episodes is Beyond the newest dating app in town. Check it out at Date Beyond dot. So, Mika, you're an artist first of all. I do wanna hear about your art and all that. So tell me a little bit more about

[00:00:59] Mika: yourself. Yeah, absolutely. So my name is Mika. Um, I'm a New Yorker, born and raised.

Mm-hmm. . Um, I am the daughter of an Afro-Latina mom and a black American dad. Um, and my art over the years has sort of come to embody. I'm realizing my experience, my sort of my lived. . Um, and the things I've encountered in, in the city I come from as well as my travels mm-hmm. , uh, I'm someone who is very comfortable in the realms of sort of spirituality, um, and love and even taboo.

Mm-hmm. . So I think that lately my art has come to encompass those traits. Um, and I'm really excited to explore that more deeply, especially with some of the pieces that I've been working on. So

[00:01:49] Stephanie: tell me about some of the pieces. I mean, I would love to hear about the more taboo stuff because , that's what I gets me going.

[00:01:57] Mika: definitely. I get that. Um, there is one piece that I've really been excited about lately. It's called Mok, named after the Egyptian Goddess of righteousness and truth. Um, and some people are, or most people are familiar with the Egyptian Wing of soul ceremony in. After a person passes, their heart is weighed against her white ostrich feather.

Um, and if the weight is equal, then you pass into a afterlife having lived a really truthful, fulfilling, and, and a good life is what they say. And so, um, that's some of the work that I love the most. But then also coming from New York, I grew up in the, and I'm the daughter of parents who met in the, in a lounge.

Um, and in, uh, we're lovers of house music and of disco, and so movement has always been really something that is beautiful and even sacred to me. And so I draw a lot of inspiration from the likes of great American artists. Ernie Barnes, um, well known for his depictions of black movement, um, during the Jim Crow era.

And so I have one piece called Groovey Baby, um, that is this gorgeous woman dancing under disco lights in a groovy. Uh, golden Bra and, and Bell bottom bikini set. That was one of the pieces that I was really proudest of early in my career. Um, but as I move forward, I'm excited to explore themes of. of, I don't even know.

Transmutation of intimacy and of more things that I consider divine my life and my art. Mm-hmm. .

[00:03:34] Stephanie: So speaking about, you know, your art and sensuality, which leads into sexuality mm-hmm. , how do you identify and how do you express that through your


[00:03:45] Mika: Mm. So when I was, um, first coming into my adolescence, um, I am actually the product of an all women's of an all.

Preparatory school . Oh, for dramatic for dramatic effect. Um, and so I think having been raised, um, so my mother, my mother is half Mexican, and so having been raised in the Catholic church, um, I sort of came to my own, you know, pre prescriptions of love and of sexuality Um, but the older I got and then going to this all women's institution and coming into my, I, I think I, I think I knew that I was queer when I was five years old.

I had a, I had a friend who just felt different when I was a young girl, but once I came into it, into my adolescence, um, I came to identify as bisexual. But the older I get, I was telling some friends, I don't really care so much about the gender of the person. . Um, and it's more so just the connection and, and the vibe we have.

So I guess nowadays I'm pansexual, but what are labels? . . What are labels? .

[00:05:01] Stephanie: So growing up as a black woman, being proud to be queer mm-hmm. and then identifying as bisexual now pansexual. Mm-hmm. . What was that process like? Because I know it's, it's different. ,

[00:05:14] Mika: my gosh. It's something on mainstream in black culture.

So, So I think initially it was a, i I, I don't remember growing up and seeing anybody who had relationships of this, of, of the, like queer nature. Um, I had, I think I had one family friend who was a gay man, but when it came to seeing queer women, I didn't, I actually just, I didn't see them. at all in my life.

And so I remember coming out to my parents when I was in high school and the initial reaction was disbelief, um, . And of course, you know, with, with teenage hormones, it's all angst and . It was just so much. But then fast forward to, um, college and I remember telling my mother that I had, I had sort of jeopardized something, a, a relationship that was important to.

Um, in the name of having a relationship with a woman, and sh her response to me was, you're still messing with those girls. Mm-hmm. . And my thought was, . Yes. . Yes. Um, and so I think I, I, I think that, um, queerness was always sort of this like background. We didn't really talk about it much coming, um, in my, in my house.

Um, and then recently my younger sibling came out as, um, queer as well. And so I think now my parents are stor sort of coming to, uh, understanding of like acceptance. Um, but I think it's still been, at least from like a familial front, uh, it's something that is not super, my family loves me either. , and I know that, but I think that it's not something that, um, we discussed or, or necessarily left room for growing up until it was made a, a space was made for it.

And that's, I think, the case with a number of people. Um, but I'm grateful for my, my pus, so I'm glad to where we are. With your coming out

[00:07:24] Stephanie: process, was that more challenging for you, like, or if you had any tips for any other. , specifically black women, but , any children coming out or

[00:07:36] Mika: people coming out to your families?

I, I think, and I, I know my circumstances are not the same, um, as some other people's, but I've been really grateful to be able to do it sort of just gradually in passing. Um, I had an uncle at the last barbecue asked me, so , I'm sure you're, you know, swimming in guys. And I was like, he's actually a special woman.

And to have him taken aback and then be like, , I see you . . I see you . I see you. Was was sweet. Um, and it was just that. So I think just, you know, if you're, if you're able to and feel comfortable, um, just living and speaking your truth and doing it mm-hmm. proudly, you know, why not? Mm-hmm. ,

[00:08:22] Stephanie: do you, are you able to find your community of people pretty easily?

[00:08:28] Mika: or is it challenge? It has been a challenge. Um, I have to say, I'm from New York and then I moved to Miami last year and I feel like when I was living in New York, partially just because I already had an established network there, but it was much more easy for me to find people who were not only queer, but who.

sort of movers and shakers and creatives and entrepreneurs were all also open-minded and respectful and, and genuine. Um, it was much easier when I was in New York. And so now that I'm in Miami, which is a, and you know, we love Miami , but she is a pretty, she is a pretty city, but she is, she tends to be a little bit.

Mm-hmm. . And I think that it can be a bit difficult to make genuine connections with people here. And so, at least in a new town, it's been, it's been rather difficult. Mm-hmm. to find people who are aligned with my values. Mm-hmm. . So what do

[00:09:30] Stephanie: you value?

[00:09:31] Mika: Oh my gosh. I value, I value connection. I value community.

Um, I value art and health, um, and care. Um, I value. comfort, a roof in my head, great food in my belly. Um, and I think the people that I love, if not physically close to me, just with it, reachable. Mm-hmm. . Um, and I feel like the list goes on and on. Lately, I've, I've found that like I try to exist existing.

Gratitude is never the wrong answer. So as much as I just listed, there's tons. ,

[00:10:10] Stephanie: how are some ways you exist in gratitude?

[00:10:14] Mika: Um, every day I have a, a sort of utterance of gratitude to the universe. Um, sometimes multiple times a day. As a creative. I also believe that my bodies of work are an act of gratitude to the universe for the ability to, um, I'm also a, a dancer and so I believe that my movement is an.

Of gratitude to the universe for the ability to, and I feel that way about a number of things that I create and do

[00:10:44] Stephanie: so on dancing. Mm-hmm. , that's a whole sensual practice. Ah, love it, . I love it. Yes. How do you express your sensuality through dance?

[00:10:56] Mika: Are you asking me to show you? No, let me stop . I wish maybe after, maybe later.

Um, my centralized through dance, I think, so I'm a trained Latin dancer. Okay. So I think Latin dance is super central. Um, I love partner dancing because within it you get to create an entire world, all your own for two people. Mm-hmm. and as much fun as it is to watch on a dance floor, it. eons. Multitudes more fun to be in the center of it because you get to feel that sort of push pull, um, between two forces, which is super exhilarating.

Um, . We do it in another, another acts too. But, you know, , would you like to

[00:11:43] Stephanie: share about those other acts? , ?

[00:11:47] Mika: I mean, we can talk more about it. Yeah, why not? Um, I think that most people would agree that sex and intimacy or like physical intimacy is, and it's an energy exchange. It's a push and pull, and it's a give and a take.

And, and I think that part of what makes dancing, especially Latin dancing so great, is that you get. truly like feel that. Um, and of course the added, I love good music. So the added background noise, the good rhythm is always a plus.

[00:12:17] Stephanie: Always gotta have that good rhythm.

um, I have a question about, , you know, divine femin, feminine and masculine energy. Like, do you embrace both the divine feminine and the both and the divine masculine energy in yourself? And how do you look for that in

[00:12:38] Mika: other partners? Definitely. Um, I think that the balance of the two is, . I, I have to say, I, I almost find it hard.

I find it difficult to sort of put it into words, but the best that I can think is just balance. Um, and I think that when someone is balanced in the two, you find a person who is not prideful, who is not driven so much by ego and is not necessarily. , I don't know. There's, there's, there's a, there's this, you have like possession and then sort of free love, and there's this balance of the two where it's like, I want great for myself, others, um, because you understand that value.

So I, well, I don't feel like the, the best professor maybe of, of what that looks like. I do feel like it's something that in my own life I have balanced well. and that I embrace. Mm-hmm. ,

[00:13:41] Stephanie: do you have any tips for people? I know you said you're not a professor, but I mean you are living it authentically Yeah.

Doing your thing. So what has helped you?

[00:13:51] Mika: Um, I think I've always been someone who's been fairly comfortable just, uh, expressing my truth. Mm-hmm. and my identity, whether that be through my art, through the way I dress. and in my, in my words, so I want to say be true to self. I know that sounds, I know that sounds sort of cliche, but just be true to you.

Um, and if anything, the thing that has taught me the most is my introspection is when I am able to sit with myself and really think about what feels good to me or what is, is feeling a need to. Push more to the front of my identity or even things I want to work on within myself. Um, so I think the best tip I can give is just get to know yourself.

Mm-hmm. and be proud of that person. Ow.

[00:14:48] Stephanie: How do you like to get to know yourself then? Do you meditate? Do you, I mean, you dance,

[00:14:53] Mika: you do art . Yeah. I talk to myself a lot. , . I talk to myself a lot. Um, O over the, the older I get, the more I, I have, my grandmother says, you are not fit company for anybody else unless you are a fit company for yourself.

And I am more than fit company for myself. I love spending time with myself. We make ourself some great dinners. We go on some lovely walks. Um, yeah, I just love spending time with myself. I. pouring into myself by doing the things that make me happiest. So whether that be bringing myself around some good live music, eating some amazing Mexican food, or just, you know, running around in the sand and then going home and painting to Louis hours of the morning.

Um, I think the more I explore the things that make me happy, the more I understand the nuance. Of my own psyche. Mm-hmm. . Um, and the more I fall in love with myself. I had a, this is just another thing to add. I have a girlfriend, shout out Juliana. Um, but she, before I moved to Miami, she wrote me a card that was still, sits very high in my heart to this day, and she reminded me that the most important relationship that you will ever have, the most important love.

that you will ever have in this lifetime is the one that you have with yourself. Mm-hmm. , above all others is the one that you will have with yourself. And I think that that idea has really sat in my mind since you shared that with me almost over a year ago. So on

[00:16:39] Stephanie: dating yourself, because you know you're taking yourself out.

Mm-hmm. , you're making yourself dinner. Mm. , was that something that you grew up and you, you know, always gave yourself that self-care, that self-love? Or did you learn it over time? I know you had insight from your grandmother. Mm-hmm. .

[00:16:57] Mika: I think that in my own ways I was doing it over time, but I didn't tend, I didn't put a, I didn't prioritize it as much.

Um, I think. until recently, until, until it took me like into maybe my early mid twenties mm-hmm. to start, um, prioritizing it. And then more so once I started going to therapy, um, last year, I was really, I, I began to understand sort of, and not to, not to, I think in a, in a way, so psychologists say that our romantic relationships tend to, um, resurface emotions.

you know, ties from also our childhood, um, experiences. And so it wasn't until I started going to therapy and also started working on my inner child, um, that I really prioritize that sort of spending time with self and even like wooing self from that standpoint standpoint

[00:17:59] Stephanie: on therapy. Yeah. Because, you know, we are black women.

Yeah. No, absolutely. Was, did. Were your family, was your family encouraging a therapy? Because I know , I've gone through this with my family as well, so I'm, I'm curious, like were they accepting of it? Were they inviting of it? What was that process like for

[00:18:19] Mika: you to start it? Um, the first person to regularly attend therapy mm-hmm.

in my immediate family with my younger sibling. Okay. And so once they started going to therapy, It was something that I had felt for years that I needed and wanted to begin as well. Um, but my family, my parents are not proponents of it. They are don't believe in it. You don't, you keep your weird thoughts in your head.

We don't put that out in my field, right? And so it wasn't until I moved, once I changed cities, thought too, or I had had I, so before I moved to Miami, I traveled for three months and over the course of that three months, I was healing from some things and I encountered some of the lowest lows I'd ever been in in my life.

And I remember being at nearly rock bottom and thinking, I need someone. And I never wanted to feel that way again. And I am someone who, while I love my friends, I believe that when you love people, sometimes if you know that there is someone who is better skilled to help, in this world. I don't think that you should, and I hate using the word, but I don't think you should, should put that weight.

I don't think you should put that, that burden on the people you treasure the most. If you don't know that they can handle that. Do you know what I mean? I think we have to be kind to ourselves and to others and really care about the people who care for us. And so I knew that I wanted to start going to therapy and I'm very fortunate to have found, um, one of.

One of three black women psychologists in Miami. Oh wow. Um, who is my doctor and I love her to pieces . And so she really helped me, um, come to a better sense of self understanding, of learning how to not only forgive myself, but to move past things and how to work through the patterns that were not geared towards.

Final vision for myself. Mm-hmm. . And so after having been seeing her for a year, I am so proud of where I'm at now. And I think therapy. I understand that it is a luxury, but if it is one that you can afford, I highly implore you to go. to get to just talk to someone. Even if it's just like once in a while it can do wonders.

Mm-hmm. Well, cheers to therapy. To therapy. , I hope more people go to therapy. . Really? Really, that's like one of my

[00:20:53] Stephanie: dating requirements. Actually. If I'm dating like a guy or girl, I'm like, oh, have you ever been to therapy? Are you open to

[00:20:59] Mika: it? I asked my most recent partner, That was our, our, it's like second, second date question.

I was like, are you in therapy? And he was like, not yet. And I was like, I implore you to come. . That was a fun conversation to have after like the second or third drink. got very enthusiastic. . Well, speaking of

[00:21:20] Stephanie: drinks, I'm gonna ask you your why not question.

[00:21:23] Mika: Ooh.

[00:21:24] Stephanie: So what is something that you experienced, that you had the opportunity and you said, you know, why not?

Let me try it. And it turned out

[00:21:35] Mika: great for you? Ooh, gosh. Life. No. Um, let's see. Uh, something that turned out great for me. Why not? Or you learned from it? Or That I learned from it? Yeah. , does it have to be in the realm of romantic? No, it could be, can be, can be, whatever. Mm-hmm. . Um, why not? I, honestly, starting my business mm-hmm.

I had a, um, I, so I've been a, an artist for, I sort of had this on the back burner for years, and I had a, my, my aunt's partner kept telling me, just get your business cards. Just start doing it. Just. Moving your art, you're talented. And I was like, oh, well, you know, I don't need this. Maybe I'm young, this is not for me.

And now 10 years later, I'm ll suited up and, and, and made a living off of this, so. Mm-hmm. for the best. .

[00:22:32] Stephanie: So do you have any tips for anyone on how to just get started

[00:22:38] Mika: to take that leap? You know, just take the leap. Take the jump. Because if I had done it sooner, I could have been eons further. . So I think that sometimes we get in the way of ourselves.

And so anybody, if you have an idea and if you can create an a business plan for it, um, and if you even have resources or someone that you can trust to look back on it and, and advise you. I think if you, if it's feasible for you, make it happen. Just, just try, just try chase joy if it makes you happy. And then if you feel like it could be sustain.

Try give it your best shot. The worst case scenario, it doesn't work out and we move on to the next thing. I love that. Chasing joy. Chasing joy. I tell my younger sibling that all the time, chase joy. I believe that joy is a snowball effect. The more thing that you do, things that make you feel good and lead you to happiness, the more you'll be presented with opportunities to continue doing the same.

Okay, one more

[00:23:36] Stephanie: question. Yeah. , do you have anything spicy that you wanna share? .

[00:23:42] Mika: I mean, I have plenty of Spice . Um, uh, let's see, uh, spiciest,

I have a, oh, I have a Patreon where I, um, talk about, um, sex education, um, BDSM taboo, um, and taboo subjects. And just like things that fascinate me. I'm very, I'm sort of comfortable in that realm and. Uh, it started off as a passion projects, uh, about last year, but, uh, it's, it's sort of still on the, on the burner, um, making things happen, so.

Okay. Well I definitely wanna check

[00:24:23] Stephanie: it out. See? Yeah, please do. Uh, let me know how to find that. .

[00:24:25] Mika: Uh, definitely space cowgirl. Space cowgirl. Yeah. Okay. I'll check that out. Yeah,

[00:24:30] Stephanie: please do. Well, thank you so much for chatting with me. This has been such an awesome conversation. talking to a beautiful goddess like you.

[00:24:38] Mika: Thank you. Likewise, .

[00:24:40] Stephanie: I hope you the greatest success in life and in all your travels in Miami. Thank

[00:24:45] Mika: you. Cheers.

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