Tag Archives: Garden

Tulip & Azalea Lavender on the #CelebrationTour

Introducing Tulip Lavender

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It is a pleasure to introduce my daughter, budding author, Tulip Lavender!
6 year old Tulip Lavender has been working on a trilogy for the past few weeks. She sat down with me in her writing chair, and again in our garden, to talk about her writing, libraries, and where we’re going on our Celebration Tour this summer.

Celebrating Geography in the Kitchen & on Car Trips
Tulip is also a big fan of geography, and writes about her passion for studying time changes as well as longitude and latitude at school. She tracks every state she and her sister have visited on our kitchen map with color-coded stickers.

In this photo, you can see Tulip telling Azalea about our trip from Austin to the Bay Area last summer. (In case you’re wondering, “Azalea” is her little sister’s pen name. Tulip wanted them both to have flower names. As explained in the interview, Tulip Lavender is also a self-selected pen name.)

Tulip is very excited not only to meet more librarians, but also to add some colors to this map by visiting more states and provinces during our Celebration Tour car trip this summer.

Celebration Tour with Tulip Lavender

Celebrating libraries & authors from Austin to Montreal!

As you can tell, we are a family that enjoys reading, talking about maps, and traveling. We are also a family that has collectively gotten excited about gardening this year. (For the record, my partner, Javi, has always been a wonderful gardener. It is the rest of us who have grown green thumbs this spring.)

You can see our thriving garden behind Tulip in this video clip interview. Here’s a little bit more about how we started, and what we’ve been growing in our personal and professional gardens.

Growing Our Garden

Where are we going on the Celebration Tour?
This is a question we’ve been getting a lot recently. Tulip shares a few of the places we’ll be visiting, from Austin to Montreal, during the interview. These are just the seeds of our trip as this Celebration Tour has been growing new blossoms every day!

We hope to share more of the blossoms with you in the next week about our Celebration Tour path!

Tulip on the Last Day Celebration Tour
(And now she’s 7!)

How can I help support #Censored2Celebrated with the Celebration Tour?

Thank you for asking! There are two ways you can help support us celebrate libraries, librarians and authors of books about Diverse Sexuality & Gender

  • Buy a book and gift it to your library!
    8 Steps to Gifting a Book Celebrating DSG

Click here for 8 Easy Steps to gifting a book to your local library

  • Celebration Tour needs supporters and funding.
    We are in the start-up phase, and gratefully accept monetary donations to support our celebration of diverse sexuality and gender. ($7 and $20 are our most popular donation amounts – every little bit helps!) 

Celebration Tour Support Levels

  • DSG  (count the letters)    $3.00 USD
  • LGBTQIA  (count the letters)    $7.00 USD
  • Number of…Countries worldwide with marriage equality    $20.00 USD
  • Number of…US states with legalized same-sex marriage    $50.00 USD
  • Number of Driving miles from…Burlington, VT to Montreal, QC    $94.00 USD
  • Number of Driving miles from…Vass, NC to Philadelphia, PA    $464.00 USD
  • Number of Driving miles from…Austin, TX to Boston, MA    $1,965.00 USD

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How can we celebrate you?

  • We would like to give you a shout out online about your support when you donate funds and/or donate a book to the #CelebrationTour

Laverne Cox on "I Am Jazz"

Do you have questions for Tulip Lavender, or would you like to see me interview her about a particular topic?

She loves being interviewed, so let me know!

In celebration~

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Celebration Tour_T dancing_July14

Songs for Celebration

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Dreaming My Garden – The World I Want to Live In
I was driving home from a meeting last night at Wildflower Church about a scholarship for High School Seniors who are Dreamers – youth whose families brought them to the USA as children. It was a challenging meeting as we were making the hard choice about who the scholarship recipients would be for the 4th annual Dream Sabbath. It was also a rewarding meeting as we will be able to offer – and celebrate – two tenacious and brave students with funding assistance for college. I am proud to be part of a faith community that supports the – often underserved – community in this way.

As the cherry on top of a great night, I got the pleasure of  having 30 minutes of singing and dancing in the car – all by myself.  Much as I love my kids, and I love singing with my kids in the car, it is a rare pleasure to be all my myself in the dark of night – just me, the car, and the music rolling along at high volume.

These experiences at Wildflower Church, and alone in my car, showed me that this is the kind of world I want to live in. A world where we can support each other to achieve our dreams of something better. A world where we can bring change through the celebrations that make our heart sing – just like the Celebration Tour that I am about to embark on with my family this summer.

Singing & Driving
As is often the case, last night in the car, I had one of my favorite CD mixes on, turned up very loudly, and was singing at the top of my lungs. Some people sing in the shower, but in my family we’re car singers and steering wheel dancers. I learned the fine art of creating music mixes for traveling from my Dad. In my childhood, we still played 90 minute tapes in the car, and those cassettes are the treasured soundtrack of my childhood. It is clear to me that music has shaped every aspect of who I am, and how I grow my personal and professional garden.

Songs In My Garden
As a child, these songs – from Broadway to Folk to Jazz Standards to Motown – shaped my ideas about life – including what it means to explore and celebrate sexuality and gender. I remember wondering about what really makes a Natural Woman. (Sung here by a whole bevy of divas including Aretha Franklin and songwriter Carole King.)

I also remember my 3 year old sister questioning if Tracy Chapman was actually a man because of her deep voice, and her name. When I told her that, as far as I knew, Tracy was a woman, she firmly declared that her name should actually be Tracy Chap(wo)man. I remember listening to Tracy’s debut album over and over on a family trip to the Grand Canyon. Her song Baby Can I Hold You made me wonder about domestic violence, and why people hurt one another in “love” relationships. Her song, Talking’ Bout a Revolution, inspired so many of us coming of age in the 1980s.

Songs for Celebration
These days, I make CD mixes for the car, and playlists on my various devices for everywhere else. With our upcoming Celebration Tour, my girls, partner, and I have started dreaming about our music mix for the big adventure from Austin to Montreal, and back again.

#ItGetsAwesome #CelebrationStories #DSGI started putting the Celebration Tour #ItGetsAwesome playlist together this week on YouTube. As you can see, they won’t all fit on one CD, so this year we will have to make a few volumes of Songs for Celebration for the road!

Yesterday, I was working with JCruz, who is the talent behind all the video editing at From Censored to CelebratedAs a recent graduate from high school here in Austin, TX, J. had

some – shall we say – more updated suggestions for songs and artists to add to the playlist. I am now a big fan of Yuna. If you haven’t heard her sing, I highly suggest you listen to Live Your Life, which is on the playlist. What songs should we add to the Songs of Celebration?

Ping me here if you’d like to offer a suggestion.

Seeds of Change
While conversations with my guests on the #Censored2Celebrated webcast constantly spark celebrations, I am in awe of how powerful music can be as a force for celebration and change. Music can inspire us Convervations Spark Celebrations Videoto stay awake during a long car trip, improve our mood – this video of my daughter’s school performing Happy works every time for me, celebrate the birth of a child, or mobilize us to march for social justice.

For instance, the song I Know Where I’ve Been, a civil rights anthem sung by Queen Latifah in the movie Hairspray, has been recently performed on Glee featuring the gender-expansive character, Unique, supported by a choir comprised of 200+ transgender singers.

The UK’s Independent notes that “Many of the choristers admitted that they had never met so many other trans people in one place before.”  I can only imagine how life-changing that was for everyone in the room – transgender and cisgender people alike!

Alex Newell (aka Unique on Glee) also performs the song live with the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus at Jordan Hall. This performance has a special place in my heart as I had the pleasure to perform at Jordan Hall as a high school student in the New England Conservatory’s Youth Chorale.

The connection between the music of civil rights from the 1960s and music celebrating Diverse Sexuality & Gender (DSG) is not a surprise. Berniece Johnson Reagon, Civil Rights activist, historian, and the founder of inspiring musical group Sweet Honey in the Rocksays: “To this day, I don’t understand how people think they can bring anybody together without a song.”  Does this ring true for you?

What songs are in your Garden for Celebration and Change?
What music has made a difference in your life? What songs would you put on a playlist Celebrating Diverse Sexuality & Gender?

Connect with me here to talk about music, DSG and/or offer your suggestions to the Songs for Celebration playlist.

Celebration Tour_T dancing_July14


Support the Celebration Tour of Diverse Sexuality & Gender

  1. Purchase a book (or more!) before June 8, 2015 to donate to a public library.
    Here’s our Censored2Celebrated Wish List.
  2. Celebration Tour needs supporters and funding.  We are in the start-up phase, and gratefully accept monetary donations to support our celebration of diverse sexuality and gender. (Any level of support helps – $3, $7 or $18 can buy a great book or a meal to keep us fueled on the Celebration Tour!)

Celebration Tour Support Levels

  • DSG  (count the letters)    $3.00 USD
  • LGBTQIA  (count the letters)    $7.00 USD
  • Number of…Countries worldwide with legalized same-sex marriage    $18.00 USD
  • Number of…US states with legalized same-sex marriage    $37.00 USD
  • Number of Driving miles from…Burlington, VT to Montreal, QC    $94.00 USD
  • Number of Driving miles from…Vass, NC to Philadelphia, PA    $464.00 USD
  • Number of Driving miles from…Austin, TX to Boston, MA    $1,965.00 USD

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Until we meet again…

Celebrate all the people in your life. Every bit of celebration helps #ItGetAwesome.

In celebration,


Celebrate All the People in Your Life_c2c


What is the Celebration Tour?
Sexuality Educator & Webcaster, Melita Noël Cantú, and her family will embark on a Celebration Tour for two months this summer. They will seek out – and share – great books Celebrating Diverse Sexuality & Gender (DSG). During their visits with librarians in public libraries in the US and in eastern Canada, they will gift a book celebrating themes of DSG. The more books that are donated to the Celebration Tour, the more books they will gift to libraries!

Celebration Tour_Austin to Montreal_Censored2Celebrated_YouTube

Ping Melita with any recommendations for us to dance and sing along to on our car trip from Austin to Montreal. We will be finalizing the playlist by June 8th.




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Growing Our Green Garden_Melita and Javi_April15

Growing Our Garden in Austin, TX
Four springs ago, my life partner, Javi, and I officially became business partners at the Javier López Cantú Artworkstudio. Our romantic relationship began in 2006 when a mutual friend suggested that we get together for coffee. She told me that Javi was a big supporter of her sexuality education non-profit, and that he was also doing an amazing job raising two teenage daughters.

When I saw his vibrant website at JavierLopezCantu.comI knew that I wanted to know the man and father behind the art. I bypassed the meet-for-coffee plan and immediately emailed him to ask for a tour of his Artworkstudio – located on South Congress at the time. There’s more to our love-at-first sight story, and I’m happy to share. But let’s just say that the rest is history – and includes a lot of tasty homemade breakfast tacos (which are a Javi specialty).

Fertile Ground
Austin has been fertile ground for many artists, and Javi has been creating art here since 1999. What I didn’t realize when we met is how challenging it can be for a community to know how to support its local artists. I also didn’t realize how challenging it can be for artists to know how to meet the community members who will and can support them.

What happens when you have a gorgeous garden, but no one comes to see it? What happens when people come to see and enjoy it, but don’t know how to help the gardener sustain it?

Javi is passionate about making his art accessible to all – especially by making it affordable.

Javi and our youngest daughter

Javi and our youngest daughter

As Javi says:

“Each artwork has its home, and when a person sees the piece that grasps their heart and squeezes, I want to do everything I can to support that artwork findings its way to its true home.”





Planting A Seed
When we decided to deepen our roots by planting the seed of co-ownership in the fertile garden that is his Artworkstudio, I was committed to create as many opportunities for friends, family and our community to see Javi’s gorgeous garden of artwork.

I lovingly planted this seed with hope and a prayer for abundance to sustain and grow his work as a artist while also growing our family. We dreamed that, together, we would be able to blossom Javi’s mission to make thought-provoking art accessible to all while doing good in the world.

The Challenges & Joys of Growing a Garden
Four springs later, I know a lot more about the art business, and a lot more about my life and business partner. Believe me when I say it is not always easy to work with your life partner! And yet, planting these seeds at the Artworkstudio have been powerful for us as a family, and in our communities. I have learned from Javi that there is power in following your passion.

After a few (very challenging) years of Javi trying to create art in a makeshift studio in the garage, we uprooted his art supplies and original paintings and relocated the Artworkstudio to a lovely space in East Austin with a courtyard.

Courtyard at JLC Artworkstudio during EAST

Courtyard at JLC Artworkstudio during EAST

In this physical space and online, we have experimented with new business ideas and strategies. We have also had the opportunity to visit over 25 art museums in the US, Canada and the UK.

Courtyard Artworks May 2015We have been proud participants of the annual East Austin Studio Tour (EAST). We have forayed into the art event world with Art on the Roof benefits for non-profits in Austin and Boston. We have donated art, prints and gift certificates to non-profits doing great work around the country. Most recently, we have embarked on hosting the collaborative community art event – Courtyard Artworks –  this spring with Wade ArtRoom and art therapist DeAnn Acton.

Can you blossom without passion?
Clearly, we have a garden with deep roots and some lovely blossoms. What we didn’t have was an Art Business Manager – that would be me – who knew what her own passion was. I don’t know about you, but it’s a challenge for me to support another person – even my life partner – as they follow their passion when you don’t know yours.

It created conflict as Javi watched me withering while trying – and failing – to nurture our Artworkstudio garden. With the conflict came frustration, decreased inspiration, and a need to step back from this particular garden to focus on other parts of our life. When does a gardener know that it’s time to pause or move to a new garden, to find new soil and new seeds to plant?

I knew I had been planting lots of seeds throughout my life, but it never occurred to me that I had been planting a professional garden. For example, Javi has known that he was an artist since he was 3, illustrating the family encyclopedias with his drawings. I’ve always been good at lots of things, and been proud of all the good work I’ve done in the world with schools and non-profits. But what passion did I have that could ever match Javi’s passion for creating art?

Planting Another Garden
What happened next surprised both of us. And it all started with a few conversations.

Convervations Spark Celebrations Video

Last year, I planted a new batch of seeds, and my passion bloomed – right along with the creation of our much-anticipated second child.

I coordinated and facilitated a comprehensive sex ed class for middle and high school students at our church – aptly named Wildflower Church.

Then, with Javi’s blessing and support, I attended a conference in California, while hugely pregnant, and had a conversation. Then I went to another conference in Austin, as a new mama leaking with milk, and had another conversation.

thehumanempathyprojectorg_logoThen I had lunch with a former colleague, with our 6 month old baby in my arms, and had another conversation.

These conversational seeds quickly blossomed into joining the Board of The Human Empathy Project.

After all of these conversations, my passion for amplifying the conversation around diverse sexuality and gender became clear.


In September 2014, I officially launched my business From Censored to Celebrated where I explore diverse sexuality and gender – one (webcasted) conversation at a time.

Censored2Celebrated banner

Click here for more info about my joyful work with #Censored2Celebrated.

Vibrant Abundance
The crazy thing is that although I am busier than ever with 1 life and business partner, 2 young kids and 3 businesses to nurture, I feel myself blooming with happiness and purpose. Connecting with my professional passion, right along with the birth of our second daughter, has felt like vibrant abundance.

Enjoy Spring at Courtyard Artworks

Celebratory Art Created at Courtyard Artworks

In and around all of this vibrancy, I have reconnected to my strong desire to support Javi in his passion as an artist. As a team, we have reengaged with our mission to make thought-provoking art accessible to all while doing good in the world. We are especially excited to connect with other local artists and the East Austin community through the collaborative Courtyard Artworks events this spring.

Growing Our Garden


Growing our Garden at Home

On top of all of this springtime growth and blooming, I have actually gardened for the first time since I first moved to Austin as a single woman in 2004. I keep wondering if all this professional seed planting has been the inspiration to plant our own vegetable, herb and wildflower garden with the kids. Regardless, I cannot wait to see what our gardens will grow this year and into the future.

What’s Growing in Your Garden?
As you may be able to tell, I am all about the conversation. The blooms resulting from such conversations inspire me to do good in the world. I invite you to connect with me to see what celebrations will be sparked by our conversation.

1. What’s growing in your personal and professional gardens?

2. What makes art, and artists, feel accessible to you?

3. What makes you want to celebrate your passion?

I invite you to come and enjoy our Artworkstudio garden this May. I look forward to hearing all about your garden.

When you RSVP here, and private message or email me, I will have a specially chosen, complimentary JLC Art card with your name on it at the event.

Courtyard Artworks in #ATX May15

  • RSVPs are requested so we can ensure having plenty of art supplies and snacks for all.
  • The event is free to community members of all ages.

Finally, I want to give a BIG thank you to each and every one of you that supports Javi and other local artists, musicians, dancers, celebrators and all kinds of creative types. Our gardens are inspired by our connection and conversations with each of you, and grow abundantly because of your support.

The Javier López Cantú Artworkstudio mission is to make thought-provoking art accessible to all while doing good in the world. Javi’s work may be purchased in a variety of formats to fit your budget: original paintings, posters, art cards and with donations to benefit a non-profit that is a difference-maker in its community.

We invite you to opt-in for
JLC Artworkstudio news & special offers by email.

Join the JLC Art email list!

Click here for interviews with the artist








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