Friday, December 26, 2008

HABARI GANI?

Today’s Kwanzaa principle from the Nguzo Saba (Seven Principles) is Umoja, which means unity in English. Our purpose for celebrating this value is to strive for and maintain unity in the family, community and nation…how will you promote umoja today?

Apathy is a rapidly spreading epidemic amongst my generation. But I believe that there are still those who, like me, believe that the heart of a true visionary can affect positive change…imagine the effect we could have on the world if everyone believed in and practiced umoja. To my brothers and sisters with righteous causes: take heart and trust in your struggle. We may face obstacles, nay-sayers or doubters who seek to take us down with poisonous negativity, but we SHALL overcome, and umoja will be our key to success.

One may hit the mark, another blunder; but heed not these distinctions. Only from the alliance of the one, working with and through the other are great things born.”

I have listed the remaining 6 principles from the Nguzo Saba below…each has its designated day in the Kwanzaa celebration, but each is equally important every day of our lives. My Kwanzaa wish is that God strengthens and keeps each of you as we walk in his love and light and that his peace permeates your lives.

-Sierra

Kujichagulia (Self-Determination)
To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.

Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)
To build and maintain our community together and make our brother’s and sister’s problems our problems and to solve them together.

Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)
To build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together.

Nia (Purpose)
To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

Kuumba (Creativity)
To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.

Imani (Faith)
To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Things I Know at 26 That I Wish I Knew at 16...

  • You cannot live your life by other people's standards.
  • Know who you are and what you believe and hold to that.
  • Your strength comes from within, not through validation from others.
  • Surround yourself with loving, supportive, positive people.
  • Take inventory...if those around you don't celebrate who you are, remember that you shouldn't be in places where you're only tolerated. You are God's creation...fearfully and wonderfully made. But if you don't believe that about yourself, don't expect anyone else to believe it either. It all starts within.
  • You are more than your outfit, your hair, your shoes....your greatest asset is a strong mind and an open heart.
  • Do something for someone else without being asked every chance you get.
  • Don't spend time and energy worrying about anything. It solves nothing. Pray about everything. You can live life in constant worry and fear over the what if's or you can simply live. You'll miss the moments if you spend them focused on what "might go wrong." At some point, you have to decide that life is worth living enough to step out on the limb and just do it. Sometimes things will hurt, but you cry and release it and embrace the lesson that it brought to you.
  • Love and when you feel like you can't possibly love anymore....keep on. You'll be amazed at your heart's capacity. Just don't harden your heart...always remember to love and to forgive, even as you were loved and forgiven.

Just some lessons from my heart to yours....

Still a work in progress...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Newness!!!

I will be back in full effect with new posts (on the regular)...I'm trying to practice consistency. Bear with me...I'm a work in progress. But new posts soon, and new pics...I promise!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Entrevista: The Genie


If you were to ask me how I discovered the music of the Genie, I would have to say that it discovered me. I had no idea what to expect when I first listened; no idea that the music would awaken my senses and penetrate straight through to my soul. The moment transcended any mere listening experience...it took me to a higher place. I knew that I needed to know the man behind this music, and after knowing the man, I knew that the world needed his music.

These days, I am honored to call The Genie 'friend' and I am very happy to present this, mi primera entrevista, to my readers. It is an opportunity to learn more about the phenomenally talented inventor of 'scratch guitar' in his own words. His music is a blend of hip-hop, blues, dancehall, jazz, middle eastern, electronic, dubstep and more. Do your ears some justice and check out the links at the end of the interview to hear some of his work. Enjoy...


Your name is very unique, so I must start with the obvious: why The Genie? What does it mean?
It’s difficult to pin-point exactly when I chose that name because it has all become somewhat of a blur but it was essentially a combination of three things, I’ll start with the last one first. Back in 2001 I traveled to the Middle East as part of a mission to understand the realities of the people living in Palestine. I had recently graduated from San Francisco State in International Relations and was passionate about learning about the world. I traveled with a peace group and visited several communities to learn what life was like under military occupation. I was really shocked and disturbed by the realities but was also touched and inspired by the beauty of the people I met. I loved the esthetics of the written language, the beautiful sounds of the prayers, and the mystic imagery and somewhere along that journey I remembered the story of the genie. There was so much going through my mind that any bit of imagination was a welcomed relief.
Then there was the Steel Pulse song called “Stepping Out” which has the line “I know you find it hard to believe that I am the genie of the lamp, and I can do anything you wish but right now I’m commanding you to dance.” Being a huge reggae fan I’ve always taken reggae lyrics from artists I love and respect to heart and Steep Pulse were one of those artists.
And then there’s the one I don’t usually share because it’s kind of corny but back in High School I watched Aladdin and as silly as it sounds I could really relate to the character!

What is scratch guitar?
Scratch guitar denotes the fact that I make everything from scratch during my performances and that I employ a turntablist/dj approach to making music live. Because I lay the guitar down flat on a keyboard stand and manipulate the loop machine the way I do it’s common for people to tell me that I look like I’m dj-ing on the guitar so “scratch guitar” seems appropriate.

Did you receive formal musical training?

Not really. Besides a semester of piano in high school I never took music classes. When I was fourteen I took guitar lessons but then when my school grades were poor my parents took them away from me. From that point on I just learned what I could from guitar magazines, books, and from just listening and playing. I never learned how to read music but eventually figured out my own system to remember the notes and patterns.

Tell me who or what inspires you.

Just about everything in life inspires me-the good, the bad and the ugly! I love almost all types of music and art in general. It’s a difficult question because every day I can be inspired by something different. Sometimes even having a bad day or being lonely can inspire the best musical moments.


You've played in numerous cities in the U.S. and beyond and you decided to record a live album, Entropic, in Hawaii. What made you choose Hawaii?

Actually Hawaii chose me. About four years ago a friend asked me to play at a party because he wanted me to meet a group from Hawaii called Quadrophonics who were also playing at it as well They were really impressed by my show and asked me if I would be down to perform in Hawaii and you can imagine my response. They flew me out there and I had one of the most successful string of shows I’ve ever had so I’ve been going once a year ever since. The folks there are really supportive and appreciative of my music and it’s become like a second home.

Where would your ideal location be for your next live album?

At this point there are so many places I would love to play and record a live album at but if I had to just pick I would say Brazil, France, England and/or Japan. I’ve been to Brazil twice and fell in love with just about everything there. I’ve never been to France but I began performing in Montreal, which is a French-speaking city, and the artistic nature of the French culture seems to be calling my music. I’ve been so influenced by British music and have always covered songs by British artists so it seems natural to perform there. And Japan is fanatical about hyperactive musical maniacs so I think they’d be down with me.

What projects can we expect next from The Genie?

Right now I’m working on a project called The Gemixes in which I’m doing live remixes by sampling songs from artist that I like and creating tripped out spontaneous hybrids of them live. Its tons of fun and has given my performances a whole new twist. Besides that I’m always collaborating with different producers and eventually am looking to do a solo album.

Fans have called you a genius, critics have called your music mesmerizing, I call you a visionary. When you decided to leave graduate school to pursue your musical career did you ever expect your music to touch people in the way that it does?
Yes that was the idea and what I was hoping for but I couldn’t at the time envision where it would take me. Looking back I can definitely say that I had tons to learn and was quite na├»ve and inexperienced but in my heart I knew music was what I really loved and decided I would do anything I could to get there. I think everyone is a potential genius at whatever it is that they love and feel in their heart. It’s just a question of dedicating oneself, making the commitment, and being patient.

For more on The Genie and his intoxicating melodies, visit http://www.thegeniemusic.com/ or www.myspace.com/thegenie. In the meantime, the video below is a little taste...you're welcome:)

video

Newness!!!

Entrevista is the Spanish word for interview. I will be posting interviews/articles written by yours truly from time to time. The purpose of these is two-fold: 1.) I love to write: particularly about people, events, issues, etcetera about which I am passionate and 2.) the subjects of these entrevista posts will be people that I admire who, each in their unique way, bring a little more light to the world through the arts (visual and performing)and whose stories need to be told. I hope that you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy sharing them with you. As always, your comments are welcome, either publicly on the blog or privately (withanamelikesierra@gmail.com).

Happy Reading:)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Say What?

Beautiful words to encourage us all on our journeys:

"Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them-every day begin the task anew." -Saint Francis de Sales

A journey is step-by-step, not instantanious...Houston wasn't built in a day....Rome either, hehe:) Don't be so hard on yourself today, ok? And keep the quote submissions coming!

Happy Thursday:)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Brandon McClelland...R.I.P.

Jasper-style lynching in Paris, Texas
On the 10th anniversary of the lynching of James Byrd Jr. in Jasper, Texas, Brandon McClelland, a 24-year-old Black man in nearby Paris, Texas, was dragged to his death on Sept. 16 by two White men. On Oct. 5, parts of Brandon’s skull were still on the ground and local officials were still denying this lynching was a hate crime.



http://www.sfbayview.com/tag/brandon-mcclelland/



This is an article that I found in the San Francisco Bay View. We must end the hate and ignorance, people. Let love rule your lives. This is so sad, not because it happened to a Black man, but because it happened to ANY man. Hate is not the way. There should be no separation or biases, because really, the only race is the human race. We have much work to do to extinguish the hatred fire that burns deep in this country. Things can change...maybe not today or tomorrow or next week, but I know that things can change. Look how far we've come as a country already. Don't be weary in well doing. Don't let Dr. King's dream die. Believe that things can change, work towards that change and BE that change. Let it begin with you.

"Vexation of spirit is a waste of time. Negative thinking, don't you waste your thoughts. Verbal conflict is a waste of words. Physical conflict is a waste of flesh. People will always be who they want, and that's what really makes to world go round. Unconditional love is scarce."
-Damian Marley, from the song "There for You"

Monday, November 3, 2008

Say What?

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

True wisdom from a visionary...taken from us before he could see his dream become reality. I will not let it die...it lives on in my heart.

I Am, Because They Were

On August 6, 1965, the Voting Rights Act was signed into law. This embarrassingly overdue piece of legislation guaranteed the right to vote for all Blacks in the United States. Yesterday, a close friend told me that he wasn't going to vote because he just "doesn't do that." "It's your choice," I told him, "but for me, its not an option."

The authors of the Declaration of Independence claims that all men were created equally, providing the false impression that they would be treated as such. But to follow the history of African descendants here in America, its hard to take those words seriously. I don't vote because some celebrity tells me to rock the vote. I don't do it because the candidates commercials, or any other superficial reason. I do it because if I were to pass on this sacred right to be included as a valid voice in this country, the blood, sweat and tears of my ancestors would be all over my hands. Men and women who looked like me were told for years that they were "second-class citizens." Here in the ironically monikered 'land of the free,' African people were anything but and were denied the right to vote among other things.

The same brown skin that India.Arie so eloquently paid homage to in her ballad celebrating our beauty was bruised, beaten and broken on the backs of our slave predecessors. We are now business owners, doctors, professors and lawyers, but then we were called mongrels, savages and niggers. We were forced into this country from our homeland and then persecuted from the moment we arrived here. Now we are here and many of us choose the path of apathy rather than keep the spirit of the Civil Rights Movement alive in our hearts and ever-present in our minds. We were once slaves and servants...the lowest of the low and denied nearly every so-called "basic" American right. Slave families were ripped apart, many never to be reunited again. Small children were pulled from their parents sheltering arms; families robbed of fathers, uncles, brothers and sons...human beings were auctioned as if cattle and handed over to masters to live out their days as cotton pickers or kitchen servants.

The road to being acknolwedged and treated as human beings was paved with many brave men and women who finally decided that enough was enough. They came together and even gave their lives fighting for freedom and equality, knowing that most of what they fought for would not be seen within their lifetime. Now here I am in 2008...I've never been a slave, never known firsthand the pain of my ancestors, never had to fight like the brave soldiers of the civil rights movement. But yet, here I am living the dream that they believed in even to the point of death. They fought for me, without ever having met me, so that I could live as I now do. So for me, voting is not an option. Voting is what I owe to all those who came before me. Its what I owe to all those who never lived to see a day when a little brown-skinned girl in the United States could walk into the polls and have her vote counted just like everyone elses. It's what I owe to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, Nat Turner and all the greats who paved my way to the polls. It's also what I owe to my descendants. I want to pass on to my children an appreciation and reverance for all that our ancestors experienced. Although our lives are much improved, we must never forget what it cost to get us here. That is the legacy that I want to leave for my children.

Even as I write this, I'm fighting back tears...this is no small thing, America. Not only did they struggle so that I'd have the right to be counted, but because of that same struggle, for the first time in our country's history, a man of African descent is a candidate for the highest office in the land. Whether he loses or wins, I admire his courage and strength. At one point in the history of Africans in America, we merely dreamed of being free. Now, because of the bold sacrifices and boundless bravery of our ancestors, Barack Obama is a sign of hope that we can dare to dream any dream and we can go as far as those dreams can take us, no longer oppressed because of the color of our skin. Whatever the results are tomorrow, this 2008 election is already a huge triumph in our country's history.

We've come a long way and still have far to go to fully see Dr. King's dream become a reality. I hope that you all will exercise your right this year and remember all those brave souls who fought hard, but never made it to the polls.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Come As You Are(n't?)

The following post is not one that I wrote for the Sierra effect. It's actually a response that I wrote to an email I received a few months ago, in which, an old classmate (who happened to be African American himself) stated that he always thought I was an "Oreo." Although his words were very derogatory in nature and meant as somewhat of an insult to me, I was not angry. I was, however, sad....for him.
I was teased on countless occasions by my Black counterparts as a child for "talking White" or "acting White," whatever that was supposed to mean. As a young child, it hurt to be laughed at by people that I wanted to accept and befriend me. I attempted to dress, speak and behave in the way that my antagonists did, in hopes that I would receive the stamp of approval for my Blackness. It would be years before I came to know and embrace who I was...years of pain and emptiness that came from trying to be something other than Sierra.
I thought Halloween, a day when everyone goes out as something they aren't, would be a great day to declare that I celebrate all that makes me who I am. It's a little lengthy, but I promise you, it's from my heart. As always, your comments are welcome: withanamelikesierra@gmail.com.

Racism is ignorance at its highest. You would think that after centuries of oppression and persecution of our people by other races, we would at least have evolved beyond the point of holding such ridiculous stereotypes and biases against one another. It's sad to see that even after we struggled for the freedom to be accepted for who we are for so long, many Black people's minds still haven't progressed from the slave mentality. You should really read the Miseducation of the Negro...it might help you move past that point. It explains how slave owners conditioned our minds to believe that we had to live up to the inferior standards of who they told us we had to be. It also states that once you've become conditioned to that slave mentality, after awhile you won't even have to be told that that's what you are, you just accept it and begin to live that way.

"When you control a man's thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him not to stand here or go yonder. He will find his 'proper place' and will stay in it. You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one for his special benefit. His education makes it necessary."

In your case, and others whose minds haven't been able to progress beyond slavery times, you still believe that we have to speak, think and behave a certain way in order to "be Black." I'm sure this isn't the first time you have heard these famous words, but maybe now you will actually think about them. They are the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a man who devoted his entire life (and even died), to eliminate the very ignorance and bias that you, in 2008, are perpetuating.

"I look forward confidently to the day when all who work for a living will be one with no thought to their separateness as Negroes, Jews, Italians or any other distinctions. This will be the day when we bring into full realization the American dream -- a dream yet unfulfilled. A dream of equality of opportunity, of privilege and property widely distributed; a dream of a land where men will not take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few; a dream of a land where men will not argue that the color of a man's skin determines the content of his character; a dream of a nation where all our gifts and resources are held not for ourselves alone, but as instruments of service for the rest of humanity; the dream of a country where every man will respect the dignity and worth of the human personality."

We're angry enough to shoot when we feel that we have been mistreated on the basis of our race, yet we freely condemn one another on the basis of ridiculous opinions of what it means to be Black. The Emancipation Proclamation was signed in the 1860's...when will we get the memo that we are free? Not just physically...mentally...break the chains, dude! Seriously, oreo? Are we still there? Black people...WE HAVE TO DO BETTER! We've become so progressive in so many other ways...we drive cars so advanced that they can literally tell us when something's wrong with them...our cell phones can give us turn by turn directions to where we want to go, but yet we can't wrap our minds around the concept that just because someone speaks differently (like pronouncing the vowels in words) and has expanded their mind beyond the constraints of "hip-hop culture" that somehow their allegiance to the Black race is to be questioned or that they are. in effect, less Black or "wanna be White."

I love who I am and am proud to be a Black woman. I have worked very hard to get to where I am and refuse to mask or dumb-down any part of who I am in order to satisfy anyone's idea of what I should be. You know, I couldn't even be angry with you for your statement...nope, not angry at all. It actually makes me sad...it's this type of antiquated, reactionary thinking that's a slap in the face to all those who have lived and died in the struggle for equality. I feel sorry for those who haven't gotten the news yet...we are free...Black people, White people, Asian people...ALL PEOPLE: WE HAVE TO DO BETTER.

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."
- Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss:)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Say What?

Another quote to hopefully inspire and uplift you.

"The wisest mind has something yet to learn."

-George Santayana

What Goes Around...

Without ever conducting a formal lesson, my grandfather taught me how to treat people. Today at age 94, he spends most of his time at home or with family. But for years, he was a respected businessman here in Houston. Along with his father and brother he ran our family's business (a funeral home) for most of my lifetime. It wasn't so much the things he said to me about how to treat people, but it was the way he lived his life. He was always patient and always kind, even in stressful situations. He dealt with clients in the way that he would want to be treated. Many times free services were rendered when the customer could not pay....not with a promise to pay or I.O.U. involved, just because he believed in helping people. My grandfather passed on a legacy of compassion and kindness that will be with me forever.
I've been trying to look for opportunities to perform random acts of kindness and have come up with one way to affect someone's day and perhaps even beyond that, by simply celebrating the good in people. How often have we encountered rude or grumpy staff at restaurants or stores? We've all had bad or no customer service and an overall negative experience before at establishments where we, ironically go to spend money that helps keep these people employed. My point is that there's no shortage of these bad experiences.
On the contrary, its rare to come across someone who loves their job and is more than happy to go above and beyond to make sure that your experience in their establishment is a good one. You know the type: knowledgeable and friendly in a way that exudes sincerity and is undeniably from the heart. I decided that positivity is something to be celebrated and so I have pledged to do just that. Anytime I go anywhere and come in contact with someone who is kind and takes the time out to really be a helping hand, I will acknowledge and celebrate that.
I recently went to a book store in my neighborhood and came across one such positive person. I left the store feeling better than when I came in and decided that this guy deserved to be the recipient of my first random act of kindness. So I called the store a little later that day and asked for a manager. Apparently this struck panic amongst the staff there, thinking that something surely must be wrong. So the manager comes to the phone all ready to diffuse my anger and solve whatever problem I might have. "There's no problem, sir. I was just calling because I was in your store earlier today and the guy who helped me was really great so I just wanted to call to let you know that he's doing an awesome job." All that he could say was "really?" It was in that high-pitched-no-way tone and then he started laughing. "Please come back to the store," he says, "and ask for me when you get here, I'd like to shake your hand." The next day I get to the bookstore and meet the manager and he wanted to know why I did what I did. I explained to him that there's enough that's wrong with the world and its smeared all over the news and its in the way people treat one another and so I've resolved to celebrate what's good and pure and positive in the world. He looked at me and said "you really have no idea what you've done." Apparently when I called that day before, the manager was doing an employment review for the guy that helped me. When I called, he was just signing it and then got paged to the phone. After our conversation, he went back and added notes and it pushed the guy's review way into the 'we-are-SO-keeping-you' category.
More often than not, we don't get to see the full karma circle, you know, the 'what goes around, comes around' deal. We know that we should treat people kindly because it could come back around and so we do our part and are nice and polite. I was blessed to be able to witness it all come back full circle. Within 24 hours, I saw how that bookstore clerk going the extra mile to help me gave him a full return on his investment of good into the world. What if we all decided to be kind to everyone we meet? What if we all became carriers of positivity, peace and joy? Not just because we believe that its going to come back to us, but because all human beings have value and worth. And because you never know what that other person is going through and what kind of an impact your interaction will have on their day, and possibly even their life.
My grandfather will be 95 years old in December of this year and, if nothing else, he has left me a wealth of wisdom and a beautiful example of how to live and love. In the famous words of Winston Churchill, "we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."
I am determined to continue my mission to be a better me, despite any negative obstacles I might encounter. I will accentuate the positive and continue to celebrate the endangered good in people. The way I see it, my mission has succeeded if I can touch even one person's life. I hope that person is you. Have a great Tuesday!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Broken Promises

Uh-oh....still no new post....bear with me please....the work week is over and my hands will be freed up to type and write and all that jazz......

In the meantime, you can catch up on your reading with all of my previous posts and drop me a line or two at withanamelikesierra@gmail.com

Paz y amor.......................

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Hang On

Yesterday was very full and fast-paced. Please stay tuned....there will be a new post up later this evening....peace and blessings. I apologize for being tardy.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Small Steps to Big Dreams

I've been tracking my calories lately in my own little food journal. It's actually kind of hard to be that honest and to see it in black and white. It's helping me alot though. I think twice about my choices because I know I'll have to face it later when I write it down, complete with the guilt and regrets. So now, I find that I'm just avoiding the foods that would be no-no's. It feels really good. I know it may seem to be a very small step, but I decided to celebrate every accomplishment on the way to my goal. A friend suggested that I join one of the web-based fitness programs through self.com. I checked it out and I decided to sign up for the 8 lb. weight loss program. I'm determined to get healthy and complete....that is what I want for myself.

"Only passions, great passions, can elevate the soul to great things." -Denis Diderot.

I have purposed in my heart to become the best Sierra that I can be. We all have dreams and goals that we let die down for whatever reason. But I know for a fact that the only time when you fail is when you give up. So if you want it (whatever your 'it' may be) go after it with all you have. YOU ARE WORTH IT. I don't want to live my life only to get to the end and still wonder what would have happened if I would have just pushed myself a little harder or if I hadn't let fear hold me back. Dream without reservation. Dream gigantic dreams....and then pursue them as if your life depends on it. Work as if it depends on you, but pray, knowing it depends on God.

Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. -Philippians 4:13

Monday, October 20, 2008

Happy Monday:)

It's the beginning of a new week....yay! I'm excited and expectant (no, I'm not having a child). I'm expectant in the sense that I expect great things this week. I am in search of opportunities to do good, not for selfish gain or notoriety, but so that the world can be a little brighter, we can smile a little (or alot) more and see the beauty in the smallest of things.
Two quotes to share today, here's the first:
"In the right light, at the right time, everything is extraordinary." -Aaron Rose

I expect to be challenged. I expect to grow. I expect to learn. I will give more than I get. I will do what I can to live at peace with all men. I will try my best, and if I fail, I will dust myself off and try again. I expect to be more productive and more creative this week than I was last week. I expect to finish things that I have started and to find new ways to use what I have been given to help others. I expect this to be a great week....and it starts right now. Hey, look at that, the perfect moment for my next quote:
"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." -e.e. cummings

Positive energy is contagious......spread some. Smile, why don't ya? Go ahead, laugh a little. In the words of the late great Marvin Zindler, "have a good golf, good tennis or whatever makes you happy!" Just make it a good one.....peace and love:)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Say What?

I am a complete and total quote junkie. Feel free to submit them to me if you feel they are relevant in any way to my journey and I will post it and give you your propers:) In the meantime, enjoy this one submitted to the Sierra effect by Heather....thanks chica!

"I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do." -Edward Everett Hale

Let it marinate, folks....

The 'S' Word

I'm conducting a little experiment/survey over the next week: how many times in a day to I hear people say they are stressed and how much of the time are the sources of that stress trivial or self-inflicted (or self-perpetuated), totally NOT meriting the 'S' word. I am guilty of subscribing to the stress epidemic all too often but I am sick and tired of it. I know that there are some situations in life that really and truly are stressful: a loved one being hospitalized for a life threatening illness, losing your job and not knowing how you will pay your bills. But I have found that for the most part, we stress over small things...social "disasters", overloaded schedules, unhealthy relationships, body image issues... I may be stepping on a lot of toes by saying this, but I think a lot of stress could be alleviated if we would just learn better ways of dealing with the alleged causes of stress/distress.

Somewhere along the way we forgot how to relax. We forgot the importance of not taking everything personally. We also fail to set boundaries and end up getting our feelings stomped all over, our schedules overloaded and being outright overwhelmed. READ: There is nothing wrong with having time for yourself....to air out, clear your mind, be still, quiet and alone.....pray, meditate or whatever you choose, sans the guilt-trips and smack-talk from others who seek to control your life because their misery is lonely.

It's almost like it suddenly became chic to be stressed. In many instances, we are socialized to believe that unless we have loaded our schedules to full capacity, virtually eliminate all boundaries and have been extended in multiple ways, we are not being as productive or responsible as we could or should be. I just don't agree. What's wrong with saying no when deep down inside you know that you're not comfortable with something or that it will be a strain on your time and hinder your other commitments? The word 'no' can be a simple, first line of defense in warding off the 'S' word. Say it with me...no.....

This week I have eliminated some things in my life that were causing me way too much heartache and not benefiting my journey. I feel free, calmer...peaceful. I'm learning to look deeper inside to examine my motivations for my choices, so that I don't end up in these situations from the start. Life is full of ups and downs. Why add our own homemade stress when life is already going to serve us up a hearty helping of that which we can't control?

Oh yeah, T.G.I.F....woo-hoo!

Ciao for now...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

No Fear!

As some of you know (and, as some of you are finding out for the very first time right this moment), I am planning what is probably one of my biggest life changes yet: I am moving to San Francisco in September of 2009. I'm excited and scared all at once, but my happiness far outweighs my fears. It's going to be the greatest distance I have ever been from my family and friends and everything that I have known my entire life. For those of you who may be taking steps into a brave new world as well, I want to share these inspiring words:

"Do the one thing you think you cannot do. Fail at it. Try again. Do better the second time. The only people who never tumble are those who never mount the high wire. This is your moment. Own it." -Oprah Winfrey

#1: Pay More Attention to My Little Brother

He's 18 years old and going through growing pains. I can remember what it's like to feel grown and feel like you have all the answers, but people still treat you like a child. Let's face it, 18 really is still young and no, you don't have all the answers at that age. In the past couple of years, there have been some times where things have felt impossible with him....trying to get him to listen at home and focus at school. But despite all that, what he needs is love, love and more love. So I am resolving to pay more attention to him. Not to the things he has done or ways he's messed up, but to him. What he's says and thinks and feels...and maybe, just maybe, validation as a human being will be the beginning of his breakthrough. I don't know of this will work, I don't know what type of results this will yield, but I'm willing to try it out.

I've invited him to come spend the weekend at my house. Just to get away from it all for a weekend....no arguing, no punishments, no chores, nothing. Just some time to air out and relax. I don't know what to do to ease his pain that he keeps bottled up inside or to motivate him to go all the way with his education, but I'm taking my lead from the Dalai Lama on this one: "Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can't help them, at least don't hurt them." There are many ways to hurt, far beyond the physical. I know that I have had a sharp tongue in the past and my words have hurt people close to me, including my little brother. So I have stepped back from trying to discipline him.....I always felt like I had to do so. But I was hurting more than I was helping.

My goal, is to simply show him love and forgiveness and to let him know that he can always come to me anytime he needs a shoulder to cry on, shelter from the rain, or just some space to air out.

I hope that through peace, love, patience and tolerance we can all be drawn closer to our loved ones whom we may have previously written off. Family is the most valuable natural resource....treasure it, preserve it at all costs.

The List

I am going to begin writing about the list of ways to improve myself (mentioned in my first post). Some posts will still be about other topics or articles I find on websites that I feel are relevant to my journey.

I think of things to add to the list at the most random times, therefore the numbers assigned to the topics do not reflect any order of importance...I just decided to number them as a way to keep track of what I'm doing.

I welcome your comments and questions and invite you to forward this blog to any and everyone that you think may find it helpful.

Shalom!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

(Un) Healthy Food

My list of ways to improve myself spans many categories....mental, physical, spiritual, etc. On the physical note, I think it's important that I whip my body into shape. NOTE: I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO DESIRE TO BE SKINNY. This is about being healthy and liking what I see when I look in the mirror...being comfortable in my skin. With that being said, I wanted to share this article that I came across on Yahoo! Health: http://health.yahoo.com/experts/eatthis/15442/the-worst-healthy-foods/

Also, I recommend that anyone with skin and bones read Micahel Pollan's In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto. Check out his site for more info: http://www.michaelpollan.com/index.htm and he did a really dope interview on one of my favorite radio shows, Democracy Now! which you can check out here: http://www.democracynow.org/2008/2/13/in_defense_of_food_author_journalist

Bon appetit!

Negative Nellies (and Neds)

"Your circumstances may be uncongenial, but they shall not remain so if you only perceive an ideal and strive to reach it. You cannot travel within and stand still without."
- James Allen

My day started off on a positive note....I woke up all happy and ready to face the day. Then, I went to a meeting that I expected to be really productive and a huge step towards my future, only to encounter a big giant naysayer who stomped on my dreams. I allowed this person's negativity to sink into my spirit for a little while, but in the light of my new mission, I decided to refocus my energy. Instead of letting this morning get me down, I realized that life truly is what you make of it, not what someone tells you it HAS to be based on their personal experiences and failures. So I resolved to only work that much harder to have a great day and to continue working towards my goals and dreams no matter what.

I am traveling within....seeking to elevate my mind and focus on things that are uplifting and that help me move forward, rather than keeping me in a stagnant place. No matter what anyone says to you or tries to do to sew seeds of negativity into your life, remember that you have the final say. Don't allow anyone to pollute your consciousness with their poisonous attitude. You can go as far as you have purposed within your heart to go....it's not how much money you have to put behind a project or about any material thing. It's about how badly you want it.... As for me, I want it so badly I can't sit still...

We all face challenges and obstacles along the way, that's all a part of life (cue The Lion King "Circle of Life" music), but it's how you choose to deal with those necessary negatives that defines you as a chump or a champion. Today, I am seeking to show my obstacles who's boss. They are gonna come, but I'm gonna get my Carl Lewis on and jump those hurdles like a true champ....who's with me?