Brooklyn, NY — “To be creative means to be in love with life.” I can’t think of anyone else who personifies that Osho quote like Danielle M. Chery. There’s always a heartspoken language amongst fellow creatives. When I first met Danielle, I was warmed by her spirit, inspired by her passion, and enthused at just meeting another female black writer. We became fast friends and I’ve watched her do some pretty amazing things. Danielle uses her gift to make the world a better place, especially for the little ones. As author of her first children’s book, “Peers, Cheers, and Volunteers,” Danielle creates stories in which children of color can finally see themselves. She also involves herself in international missions to help provide children of developing countries with essential resources. She has even guest blogged on the site, sharing a beautiful letter to young girls about what it meant to be a woman. If you can’t tell by now, Danielle is just an awesome human being. Please “meet” her below!
ME: Who is Danielle Chery?
DANIELLE M. CHERY: As of now, I’m an artist, author, photographer, world traveler, humanitarian and overall, a human becoming. I’m a lover of the world and all of its natural wonders. If anyone’s looking to find me in my happy place, I’m somewhere in a park under a tree listening to music and writing down my feelings. I can also be found isolated from the world, painting something abstract onto a stretched canvas with a can of gold spray-paint by my side. Quite often, I’m in a classroom reading and discussing my children’s book with youth around New York City. My book is my lucky ticket that grants me with opportunities to meet the little humans we’ll one day call our doctors, architects, authors, and even our presidents. I appreciate all of life’s beauties as I wander along various paths, where nothing I encounter is taken for granted.
What or who is your muse? I’m very intuitive. I’d have to say my muse is my intuition. I do nothing without checking in with my gut. Sometimes it requires me to sit in silence before taking action, answering a question, making a purchase, making a comment, painting, posting on social media, or whatever. I cannot do anything without consulting my inner me.
Current obsession? I’m completely obsessed with traveling! I follow many of the travel pages on Instagram, and I absolutely LOVE seeing the “happy glow” that’s plastered on people’s faces in their photographs. I quit my job earlier this year and decided to take a long, deserving vacation to Colombia for a month! It was one of the most refreshing things I’ve done in a long time. I was learning and speaking Spanish, living as a local, eating delicious food, volunteering, touring, exploring, blogging, and taking in all of the beauty of Cartagena. If I could do it again, yes – I surely would. My dream destination is Bali, Indonesia. Yes, big fan of “Eat, Pray, Love.”
Favorite city? I used to be obsessed with San Francisco for years, and then I finally went to visit. It’s a beautiful city and I still adore it – but it’s not my favorite anymore. I must say, New York City takes the cake. I have a hate/love relationship with this city, and as with many things in life – it’s all about balance. It’s a bit overcrowded, slightly fast-paced, just a little loud throughout the nights, and gets sort of cold in the winter. I mostly appreciate New York City for its diverse population, creative influences, social scene, and summers in Brooklyn are exceptionally cool.
Best dish you’ve ever had? When I was in Cartagena, I ordered fried fish with coconut rice, plantains and salad – it came with a seafood soup and probably the most delicious lemonade I’ve ever had – all for the price of 16 pesos, aka approximately 5 US Dollars. The fish was super fresh, light, fluffy with a crispy coat. The coconut rice was rich in flavor and silky smooth, and the plantains were as sweet as pie.
Favorite children’s book as a kid? I remember reading the same books over and over, and over – the “Amelia Bedelia” series and “The Cat Who Wore a Pot on Her Head” (it’s a funny one. You’ll just love Bendemolena).
One thing that really grinds my gears is…I’m disgusted by this country’s education system/priorities. It’s screwed up, and that’s all I’ll say.
If my life were a song, it would be…. “Beautiful Day” by India Arie
Next destination? I’m actually not sure – but I’m leaning toward someplace in South America since it will force me to continue practicing my Spanish.
Best childhood memory? I’m so thankful I grew up during a time where kids played outside, and had to check in when the streetlights came on. We used the same street light post as base when we played tag. I had my double dutch crew, and we would play against the girls across the street. Everyone would shout “Zero, Zero, Zing, Zing” all at the same time! Around the same time each summer day, we would throw our bikes to the side, get our dollar bills ready and hum to the tune of the music from the ice cream truck. The summer block parties were epic! I wouldn’t trade growing up in Brooklyn for anything, for it has shaped the person I am today.
What keeps me creative is…Life, and the energies! I use writing and painting as tools that help translate my thoughts and feelings. As long as I’m living, I’m creating.
Greatest lesson ever learned? The greatest lesson I’ve ever learned is that life is not about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself. When people say they’re trying to find themselves, that’s a sign to help redirect them. A while ago, I made the mistake of telling someone that I was trying to find myself. I’ll never do that again. I know who I am, it’s who I want to become that I’m crafting.
The soul is…The soul is a piece of God, and peace from God. It’s pure, delicate, and is always right.
Teaching is…Teaching is having a passion, compassion and patience, and most importantly, remembering the time when you were being taught.
Learning is…Learning is listening, being silent and processing information for not only the obvious reasons – but also using it to trigger innovative thoughts.
What my work means to me is…My work provides one of the deepest expressions of myself. Anyone who has one of my paintings or a copy of my children’s book has a piece of me. Everything I create has a purpose – everything holds significance.
What’s happening? In addition to being an artist and author, I also work in an elementary school as the community coordinator. One of my goals is to develop a partnership between the school and an organization that supports developing countries. I want our students, to always think of what they can do for others. As part of this goal, I imagine having the students put together a short video explaining why they agree that helping others is important, particularly children living in developing countries. Recently we held a shoe drive to donate to Soles for Souls. It turned out to be quite successful. We collected over 350 pairs of shoes, sneakers, boots, and sandals. They were thrilled with the turnout, and have been asking about the next time they can donate or do something to help someone else. I believe that part of my life’s purpose is to spread the message of having compassion. We all have a story, but it’s important to remember that what we can do for other holds greater value than anything we can do for ourselves. This life is about finding purpose, working together, and doing the right thing. Spread love, it’s the Brooklyn way!