Day 54: Two.TwentyEight.13

I have been running around like crazy trying to get loose ends tied up before I leave tomorrow: Leave things at work tied with a pretty little bow for my successor; take care of my life details so nothing can come unraveled; wrap my feelings up tight so I don’t have a moment to think about the major shift that is taking place beneath me, within me, above me.

I haven’t felt like any of it has been particularly creative. I don’t have much to report tonight. But my students and coworkers, they created such sweet cards. I share those. As well as a few pieces of 14-year-old wisdom that they have offered:

Goodbye Cards - Middle School Style

Goodbye Cards – Middle School Style

1, “Dance is the answer” (I already knew that one, but glad to have a middle schooler reaffirm it)
2. “Once a Young Scholar, always a Young Scholar”
3. I am… “da bomb”

Here’s to another day of creativity…

Day 53: Two.TwentySeven.13

There is a poet I hear perform around town. I absolutely cannot stand listening to him. It’s not that he’s bad, per say. In fact, people think he’s pretty great. In the past I tried to get into it – people around me REALLY seemed to be digging his work and his vibe – so obviously, I needed to listen harder.

Tonight, though, I actually had to tune him out. I could not bring myself to listen, or look. What I realized, is that I can’t stand listening because every word that comes out of his mouth seems inauthentic, fake. Even, actually, the way he sits, and walks, and feigns humbleness, seems inauthentic, fake. Like, he’s created this persona he thinks he needs to embody for people to like him. I wonder what the real him is like. I wonder if HE evens knows what he is really like. And, even if I didn’t like THAT person’s poetry, I bet I wouldn’t be repulsed. I bet, Authentic Poet wouldn’t sound like nails on a chalkboard to my ears.

The thing is, it’s not his problem I don’t like his poetry.

It’s mine.

Am I being inauthentic? Is that why he gets to me so much? Because deep down, I see those qualities reflected in myself? I would like to think not – I certainly feel authentic in my relationships with people and my self – but perhaps when it comes to my craft, my art, I haven’t found my voice and so am struggling to define myself through my perceived views of what others want. I don’t know if this is the whole truth.

Perhaps there is also a part of me that doesn’t like him because he reminds me of the types of guys I felt snubbed by growing up – who paid all kinds of attention to my beautiful friends but gave me not even a second glance. Try as we might, adolescent insecurities are hard to shake.

And then, perhaps, I am just trying to dig too deep. Maybe, it turns out, I just don’t like his brand of poetry.

More than likely, it’s a combination of the three.

Here’s to another day of creativity…

Day 52: Two.TwentySix.13

Yesterday’s post, and subsequent mind-wanderings/soul-searchings, left me feeling a bit raw. I’m having difficulty coming up with many words to share today.

So instead, this post is all about the creativity of Vi Hart, as shared on Brain Pickings. (For sure watch the video.) It’s just a nice reminder of the self-love that goes into the process of creating, and how we must keep at it no matter who tries to tell us that what we have created isn’t worthy.

Here’s to another day of creativity…

Day 51: Two.TwentyFive.13

what color is hate?

Last night’s terrible Onion tweet about Quvenzhane Wallis, the beautiful actress nominated for her performance in Beasts of the Southern Wild, has stirred mass amounts of social media uproar. Rightly so. We should all be outraged that such vile things could be said about ANY female, but particularly about a NINE year old girl, in such a public, unwarranted way.

I engaged in one facebook post summarizing tweets from a white man who had basically told a woman of color to ‘get over it’ – that “Women have rights now. Black people too.” Comments that were meant to shut down the other participant, without an ounce of dignity or self-reflection.

It is exactly these kinds of remarks that perpetuate racism and hatred in this country. My contribution to the dialogue was just that – that I was appalled almost as much by his remarks as I was by the original hate-filled tweet. The conversation though, quickly turned to ‘those white people’ that cause harm and don’t see their white privilege. (I should make clear that the facebook post was not WITH the man who made the above comments, but was rather a summary of what had transpired via twitter.)

As someone who tries – maybe not always successfully but certainly wholeheartedly – to examine the ways I/we/white people perpetuate racial divides in this country, and do my best to own up to my behaviors and change them, I felt almost physically sick being lumped into the same category as this incredibly racist, misogynistic man they were speaking about.

I have always shied away from joining these sorts of conversations in the past. It’s cowardly. I see this now, or at least am beginning to – that my inability to speak up/out/against acts of injustice and ignorance add to it, if only by omission. I’m a bit less scared of my own voice today. But still, I have much work to do.

I find myself wondering tonight, if the plight for love, unity, respect… can simultaneously cherish heritage, identity, race… while also shedding the need to categorize people based solely on those distinctions. Perhaps this is a naive, idealized view that I am able to hold because I do not have to think about race on a daily basis.

But perhaps, just perhaps, the ability to share love and offer light to those around us will outshine any need others have to categorize us based on the pigment of our skin? Do I, as a white woman, have any right to ask for that?

I hope you will forgive how all over the place my thoughts seem to be tonight. I feel clumsy speaking about these matters. I am pushing myself to practice, though, so that I may learn and grow and hopefully find ways to SPEAK more eloquently in the future.

Here’s to another day of creativity…

Day 50: Two.TwentyFour.13

Several months ago I responded to a facebook post from my favorite local coffee shop looking for someone to help them when they host private events. I help out maybe once every few months or so. It’s not at all my background – I have never worked in the service industry – but I truly enjoy the few times I have done this. Here’s why:

One Shot Cafe - Private Event

One Shot Cafe – Private Event

While I had absolutely nothing to do with the delicious food displayed in the above picture, I do get to help make it all look pretty. My Virgo, party-planning skills put to good use.

The owners, and all of the staff, work hard and believe in what they do. It shows in everything, from the decor to the delicious coffee and food. This is why I enjoy hanging out there so much, and why I enjoy being a part of these events. It’s a wonderful philosophy and one I hope to take with me as I move into new career endeavors:

do what you love, and do it the best that you possibly can (and then some).

Here’s to another day of creativity…

Day 49: Two.TwentyThree.13

Around the corner from my apartment is a shell of what once was. Same as in so many parts of this city. I find it  eerily beautiful and imagine what kinds of potential this spot holds. I see opportunities to create a positive addition to the community’s landscape – one that does not include completely wiping it out and starting fresh, as if this reality never existed.

There are over 40,000 vacant lots in Philadelphia. There is so much red tape and bureaucracy that stands between those properties and willing potential owners that instead of offering a way to revitalize, the city sits on empty properties in virtually every neighborhood. There is currently a movement to give communities the power to take them back. I don’t want to let my disillusionment get the best of me. Instead, I hope with all of my heART that this happens.

Philly Photo

Philly Photo

Philly Photo

Philly Photo

Philly Photo

Philly Photo

Here’s to another day of creativity…

Day 48: Two.TwentyTwo.13

I am in the process of applying for jobs. I have a few prospects (I hesitate to talk about them too early and jinx the whole process, but I can’t write tonight’s post without that bit of information.) Anyways, one of the jobs – one I feel I would be good at and would enjoy – required that I create a short video, along with answers to a few questions. I have to say, I have never been asked to do anything like that for an interview. (I mean, for a dance audition, sure, but a full time job…?) It was slightly intimidating (especially since I had two days to create the clip and had to keep it in the 30 second range). But somehow, it was also quite refreshing.

We were asked to speak about the boldest thing we had ever done to support something we believed in. This is what I came up with. And because brevity is not my strong suit, I followed up with this clip, to give them more background on the event I was speaking about.

Fingers crossed folks!

Here’s to another day of creativity…

Day 47: Two.TwentyOne.13

I shared a video today, by Shane Koyczan, which can be seen on Upworthy. It stirred a bit of a contentious discussion between myself and a facebook friend. I thought it was a beautiful portrayal of turning pain into art. He, from what I could gather, felt it was too sappy. He also made an argument that we as a society should equip our children with skills to become stronger (boxing was the example he gave) so that they aren’t bullied in the first place. I work with young people. And while overwhelmingly I see their goodness, I also, from time to time, see and hear some of the most hateful types of bullying. I can’t believe the things they will say and do, and I know that just telling someone who is the target to “buck up” isn’t going to solve anything, or take away how painful their experiences are.

Even so, I don’t usually SPEAK up about my opinions on controversial subjects. I share my opinion, to be sure, but if met with opposition, I usually back down. And in the event I do speak up, it is usually followed by an apology.

I believe in art. I believe in being kind to each other. I believe in these things enough to take a stand. And for quite possibly the first time, I had no problem sharing what I believed tonight without a thought of backing down. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t willing to hear his perspective, just that I felt the need to voice my disapproval about what I felt to be insensitive remarks, no matter what he may think of me because of it. I want to be clear here, that my not speaking up seems limited to just this kind of dialogue, where I personally am at risk of being attacked. Because I wouldn’t hesitate to stand up for something I believe is right when it comes to the safety and security and respect of others.

Anyways, now that I’ve cleared that up, let me say that it seems this thing, this project, is working. (I’m finding my voice!) This daily sharing surprises me most days (I never quite know what’s going to come out,) but above all else it seems to be allowing me to come into my own, and I am deeply appreciative of it.

This facebook conversation also got me to thinking about other things. Namely, the experiences that define us. And how experiences that seem minor, insignificant even, are actually the foundations of what our moral compasses are built on.

One moment came to mind for me, in particular. It’s a foggy memory, much like a dream. I was with my mother, or father, or perhaps a friend’s mother, or father. We were in a parking lot and this adult person in my life (we are going to say my mother, which makes the most sense in this story) brushed the car next to us enough to scratch the paint. Without hesitation she stopped, got out, and left a note on the windshield. An apology and a phone number, so that person could follow up and get insurance information. I haven’t thought about that in I can’t tell you how long, but for some reason this memory came back to me today as I came quite close to a car next to me (no touching occurred). It made me wonder if I  would have the integrity to stop and own up to what I had done, knowing no one else saw me or would be able to trace it back to me. (I would, if you are wondering.) And even though I can’t remember all of the details of that event, I do know that it stuck with me in a place that mattered. These moments, they define us. We build our beliefs and actions upon them.

I then got to wondering about what experiences shaped this other person’s world, that he would say offensive things about how someone chose to deal with their experiences around being bullied. That he had the feeling that we need to “toughen up” kids. I’m not saying my way or his is right or wrong, just a pondering of how our actions can effect those around us. And a commitment to myself that I continue to stand up for what I believe to be right, decent, and kind.

As a follow up, I would like to add: it has been confirmed that it was in fact my mother who instilled this lesson in me via the car incident.

Here’s to another day of creativity…

Day 46: Two.Twenty.13

I DID NOT want to get off my couch and go into the cold tonight. I’ve been doing a lot of that lately – not getting up and out when I don’t absolutely need to. But tonight, I made myself go to a dance class. I knew I would be happy I did, (and sore the next day), but that doesn’t make it any easier in the moment.

It was the “Groove Factory” Open house dance class hosted by the Community Education Center (CEC) & Funky Sole Fundamentals. The class is held every Wednesday through March 27th, and taught by two of Rennie Harris’ company members, Kyle “JustSole” Clark & Dinita “Princess Di” Askew. The below photo is courtesy of Dinita Askew. Silly, silly pic of me, but it at least it adds a visual to me otherwise just writing about dancing…

Funky Sole Fundamentals Class. Photo courtesy of Dinita Askew.

Funky Sole Fundamentals Class. Photo courtesy of Dinita Askew.

I then went to watch Beyonce’s new documentary, “Life Is But A Dream” I am a huge Beyonce fan. I enjoyed watching the movie, although it’s certainly important to keep in mind the entire thing was produced and directed by her, so it’s hard to be objective. There were also some moments where I didn’t quite understand the story she was trying to tell us. Let me tell you this, though; it made me want to get up and DANCE. I mean, I know my opportunity to dance WITH Beyonce may never come (a girl can dream), but that feeling, of getting up on stage after rehearsing and polishing and refining… THAT, I want again. I’m ready.

And on a final note, I think I actually prefer this video, the inspiration behind Beyonce’s fourth album.

Here’s to another day of creativity…

Day 45: Two.Nineteen.13

Today’s post is for Angel Stone – friend and fearless fitness goddess.

After watching her video I tweeted how much I heart broccoli and her… and promised a poem. This is my ode… to broccoli.

 

For the Love of Broccoli:

Some say you taste like dirt.

I say, you will make me look prettier in my skirt.

Some say you don’t taste good raw.

I say, however you are served, you have no flaw.

Some say you smell like farts.

I say, gosh I wish I could back you up on this one. But it’s true.

No matter, broccoli of mine.

Because forever, you and I will shine.

— Now go watch Angel’s video and cook yourself up some broccoli LoVe!!

 

Here’s to another day of creativity…