Saturday, December 31, 2011

Best I Can - 2011 One of the Toughest Years in my Life

Blitz the Ambassador • Best I Can ft. Corneille from MVMT on Vimeo.

In order to write this very personal yet cleansing blog post, I enlisted the help of two aids; a bottle of prosecco and my favorite track from Blitz the Ambassador’s Native Son project called Best I Can; the former served as liquid courage while the latter served as my inspiration.

Some of the lessons I’ve learned from 2011:
  • Don’t give away my gifts.  They were given to me by God and are therefore, incredibly valuable.
  • My heart is actually wiser than my mind.
  • My words impact those who love me and yet have no significant impact on those who don’t.
  • Pay more attention to myself and those dear to me…in that order.  “Selfish” is not a bad word, and if it is I’ll be cussing like a mofo!
  • I agree with the adage that women don’t know what they want.  But I know what I need and that’s good enough for me…and God.
  • I’m a flake.  I will not commit to helping anyone with their “projects” because quite frankly, these projects will not keep me engaged or interested if there’s nothing “in it” for me altruistically or intrinsically (see “Don’t give away my gifts” above).
  • I will try to never judge others for not knowing how to make difficult decisions.  Life ain’t easy.
  • The truth shall indeed set you free.
  • I will honor those that came before me with all of my heart and soul because their DNA and spirits live within and with me.  They are owed my life-long gratitude and love for their guidance.
  • I MUST be the best I can.  It is essential.

2011… by far one of the toughest years of my life…

2010 ended extremely well.  The horizon was clear and I felt characteristically optimistic about what I had in store for me in 2011. I was eating well as some of my readers and friends know.  I found the most successful formula (for me anyway) for well-being – beans, greens, and whole grains…no meat.  I looked and felt amazing! Earlier in June of 2010, I was fired from a job I absolutely hated and only a few people congratulated me (thanks Kemba and Alex!).  I couldn’t understand why no one else felt happy for me and I spent a year being the most un-productive person in America, wasting the remainder of 2010 with a cocky attitude claiming that the Universe was on my side.  In the meantime, I was on unemployment netting $400 a week with a crazy huge mortgage and a kid headed to college in the summer.  I lived a fearless yet stupid life in ignorant bliss. 

My true friends were always looking out for me though.  In November of 2010, I was finally referred to a job where I had previously worked for many years (Thanks Tatia!).  You couldn’t tell me the Gods weren’t on my side!  I was making some serious loot!  Just like the olden days of my early 30s when I was rolling in the dough, I was a productive human being again.  Then, what my Godmother (hey Iya Koko!) described as a “Bonfire of the Vanities” moment (read the book…don’t see the movie), I was ousted out of that gig faster than I could say “you fuckin’ bastards!”

I entered 2011 like a queen but before I could really get going, I became the pauper again.  Did I start looking for work?? Nah!  Instead, I started sniffing around for distractions of the male persuasion; anything to keep me from focusing on my money problems.  I was back to holding my hand out for the $400 a week “entitlement”, and pretending that I could keep that going indefinitely. 

April approached and all/more hell broke loose.  I was cruelly dismissed by possibly the most evil self-insufficient man on earth (is this the prosecco talking?), BUT what was so remarkable about my reaction to how he treated me was that I felt grateful to him.  I mean this was a dude I was obsessed with for years and with all the varied type of dirt he dished out to me over those years, to think all he had to do was tell me how he really felt, and POOF! I was cured.  The truth can surely set you free. THANKS TRUTH!

And once I was lost, I was suddenly found.  Later on in this same month, renowned and attributed for the blooming of nature's bounty, I fell in love.

The full color, full blown account of this specific chapter of my life deserves more than a blog entry and so I won’t…I can’t elaborate here.  What I will say is that the summer of 2011 was the most loving yet heartbreaking time in my life and this is coming from a woman who lost both her beautiful and loving parents before the age of 25 so I hope you can all understand the significance of that statement.  So to keep it short yet poignant, and because he will most certainly read this post, here’s the respectably quick re-cap…

A man who I had known for over 30 years was diagnosed with terminal cancer in April.  In a nutshell, he was a mess and rightly so.  Somewhere along the way, in between trips to see him (in another state) and our long daily phone calls, we fell in love.  And somewhere along the way, he broke my heart.  

It may have taken you, what 10 seconds tops to read this segment?  Believe me when I tell you, it took me an hour to write it.  It’s that “truth will set you free” thing again along with the “words impacting those who love me” thing.  This point in particular warrants repeating…

He broke my fuckin’ heart!

I took care of him to the detriment of my health and wealth and although he was grateful for my care and although he used the word love, he couldn’t…or wouldn’t acknowledge this “love” to anyone outside the two of us, and because of this (plus a shitload of other deep stuff), I had to save myself and walk away.  As it turns out, it was shortly after I made this move, that he recovered.  So how does one interpret this?  He thinks I saved his life…while I sit here thinking it’s probably best that I stay away…for good. 

As time passes and he and I continue to chat here and there via telephone, the bad memories start to wane, but my heart won’t let me forget. That’s huge!  My heart is usually the one that gets me into trouble, but apparently there are still fissures present; unwilling to heal.  THANK YOU HEART!

And while my heart continues to protect and guide me, so do God and my spirit guides.  Even before the big change in my spiritual path, I was led and saved from what could have been the most disastrous and dangerous circumstances ever imagined.  I have had close calls with death and danger all throughout my life.  Some call it “God’s grace”…OK. But I also attribute it to the “voices in my head” (as the lyrics of Best I Can convey); the whisper that said “ok that’s enough gurl.  Put that down.  You’ve had enough.  Time to get some fresh air” or “He may seem cool and everything, but don’t leave with him just yet” or “Don’t say what you’re thinking of saying to this person.  They’re not stable”.

As I begin to develop, I have become more cognizant of one significant message that stands out more than all others: “Know, Love, and Be Yourself”.  This year more than any has helped me to figure out exactly that…who I am. 

  • I am that woman who listens closely to the whispers for their message.
  • I am that woman who says “that’s just not going to work for me” (thanks Oprah!) instead of saying “No”
  • I am that woman who isn’t going to put “you” and your projects ahead of me and my shit.
  • I am that woman who’s not afraid of the divine path and outcome.
  • I am that woman who is not out to please.
  • I am that woman who hasn’t given up on love.
I’ve often spoken and written about intention.  Thankfully, the power of intention has removed most of the negative energy (and people) from my life and what remains are the people I like and love, and the choices that aren’t easy BUT are easier to make.    

Although 2011 was a tough one, in the end, I have received much; new insights, new job (thanks George!), new family dynamics (Thanks Nyla and Jamila!), and once again a new and refreshed positive outlook for the upcoming year.

Thanks for reading and receiving.  Peace Y’all!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

NKOTBSB - How masterful musicology and orchestration converted me

Monday night I went to see the New Kids on The Block & Backstreet Boys concert at the Izod Center and I LOVED IT!!
That's not a typo...
Let me repeat (and bold) for the hard of reading: MONDAY,  I went to see a NKOTBSB concert and I LOVED IT!!

Full disclosure... I did have the luxury of a full blown VIP experience (see my "special" VIP pass?) ala band tour bus, backstage dressing room access (ah ah ah stop right there - take your mind outta the gutter), primo seats and official after-party perks to enhance my night, BUT I am able to separate those extras from the pure musical experience without bias.

So I'm wondering where should I start. Would it be more entertaining to captivate you first with vignettes of the sophomoric tour bus and backstage dressing room antics and hijinx (I wouldn't dare!!) or the secret joy I felt in watching the glares we got from "uber fan" onlookers as we walked backstage.

Perhaps anecdotely you'd prefer to read about the great new snack I created on the fly from two basic concession stand staples, or about our time sitting adjacent to the surprise musical guest Naughty by Nature in the VIP section of the after party. Maybe you'd be more interested in the awkward moment when I accused Donny Wahlberg (the mastermind, visionary and "musicologist" behind this tour) of stealing the idea for my tasty snack creation (now under secret development).

In all honesty, I had no intention of blogging about my time at this concert until sometime halfway through the first song when I realized what the hell was goin' on...

All of a sudden the light bulb came on in my head and I said to myself "Wait a fuckin' minute!!! Did we just finish yelling whoa-ooooa ohhhhhh from Coldplay's Viva la Vida as the guys mashed "Single"(by NKs), and "The One" (by Backstreet)??" Was I buggin'?? "OK pay attention Kateria...maybe you've had too much to drink. Maybe you should have listened to your friend Sasha (Allen) when she told you to bring earplugs to guard against the screaming fans". Yall know that incredible sound of the truly dedicated and enthralled which in turn results in the buzzing of the ears that still continues to hum even 4 days later.
But as it turns out, I wasn't buggin'...
Alas (yes another word I happen to use), I think it's best to cut to the chase (she says after typing 300+ words just to get to this point) and start by trying to convey to my readers, what I was really reacting to; that being the genius of Rob Lewis' orchestration. 
When Rob Lewis, Musical Director for this highly anticipated tour, offered me the chance to check out the concert, I was delighted. Hey, I knew if Rob was running the music, it was gonna be a good show even if I couldn't remember, at the time, a single song put out by either group. He didn't let us/me down. Although subtle and sometimes subliminal in most cases, I was dumbfounded by the mixing and layering of classic songs* with fan favs from both bands.
You didn't hear it from me, but I am pretty sure this was in no way an easy undertaking. Without knowing much about the inter-workings of the music world behind the scenes, I can only imagine the amount of diplomacy and creativity it would take to figure out for instance:
  • How much of one song to do before switching to another.
  • How to make sure the audience doesn't get confused.
  • Who should sing first, etc.
I gotta give it to these guys...if any of that kind of stuff was goin on (highly unlikely), you sure couldn't tell from my vantage point.
I'm completely convinced that this special blend of the familiar and unfamiliar is both engaging for existing fans while captivating for those like me who would have never believed they would be telling their friends about the superior level of entertainment I witnessed.
I won't even tell yall about the choreography!!! Ain't I the same age as these dudes??? How are they able to move like they do?? I'm mad at them! Lol
Lastly, I'd like to thank Sasha and Rob  for their thoughtfulness and generosity. I feel fortunate to have talented and gifted people like them in my life. Keep building yall!
*Classic Songs I could identify during the show (in no particular order)
Queen - We Will Rock You
Prince - Raspberry Beret
Bell, Biv, Devoe - Poison
The Delphonics - Didn't I blow your mind
Montel Jordan - This is How We Do It
C&C Music Factory - Everybody Dance Now
BeeGees - Stayin Alive
The Spinners - I'll Be Around
PM Dawn - If You Stay
AC/DC - Back In Black
Mona Lisa or Children's Story (I think?!) by Slick Rick 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Hip Hop Horns - Ezra Brown and Blitz the Ambassador

The music below doesn't need much of an intro...

These tracks feature the combined talents of two artist; Blitz the Ambassador and Ezra Brown.  The latter, I've known for a few years; ever since first seeing him play at a basement club in the Village frequented by many great indie artists I know.  The former, I had never heard of until last Friday when I attended the launch party for Hycide Magazine. I made an introduction between my godsister Yaba and a fellow Ghanian (of hers; not mine...scratch that...who knows) I had met at the party.  Yaba asked the cat if he was going to see Blitz the Ambassador.  In my head, I was like: "Who the hell is that?", but I didn't want to show my ignorance around a stranger and had meant to ask her about Blitz later and totally forgot (one red wine and two mixed drinks later).  However the beauty of the "interweb" freed my mind once again and thanks to my varied social networking outlets, I discovered a connection between a talented friend and my new amazing musical crush.


Dying to Live feat. John Forte ( Blitz the Amassador ) by eZrabrown

Dear Africa (Featuring Les Nubians) - Blitz the Ambassador by eZrabrown

Instrumentalude - Blitz the Ambassador by eZrabrown

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Arts and Music Night Part 2 - Cole Williams at Rockwood Music Hall

After the Hycide Magazine Launch party, I had some time to network at a local restaurant with some of the folks from the event, but time somehow got away from me and I had only an hour to get from Newark to the Lower East Side to check out my friend Cole Williams and her band (That's My Cole) at Rockwood Music Hall.  Three trains and one crazy cab ride later, I was able to catch the last half of Cole's jam-packed set.

I gotta tell yall, I've been having the darndest (yes I use this word) time trying to classify Cole's sound.  When I have a hard time pigeon holing an artist, I usually say, "If so-and-so and so-and-so were to have a baby...", but I can't even do this when I try to explain Cole's music.  She would probably like the fact that I can't describe her or her music.  I can say however, that she has that "soulful" quality to her voice that makes you sit up and listen. And if I was forced at gunpoint to describe her style, then I would say, it was an incredible mix of reggae, funk, ska and soul (sorry gurl lol).

What I loved about this crowd at Rockwood's was that it wasn't the usual cadre of fellow musicians and diehard friends who follow the artist from gig to gig.  Instead, this energetic and supportive audience was comprised of new fans who were thoroughly enthralled with Cole, her voice and of course her amazingly crafted outfit for the evening.

Keep your eyes and ears open people. Cole's new EP is soon to be released (hopefully this month) and I can't wait!  I've heard some of the tracks, still in production and what I am hearing is pure creativity, heart & soul.  Here's a sneak peek track from this upcoming sophomore project Out of the Basement, called Good Thing.

For more information on Cole, click here. And make sure you check out her upcoming tour dates!

Arts and Music Night - Part 1 Hycide Magazine Launch Party

I love, love, love hangin' out. And what do I love more than hangin' out??? Hangin' out on a BUDGET!

Summer is here and I started off my usual marathon string of social activities in Newark at an awesome launch party for Hycide Magazine.  The crowd was cool, eclectic and fun.  I was refreshingly impressed with Akintola Hanif; his gift, his energy and his spirit.  The room was filled with love.  Take a look at the video highlights from the event.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Inside My Love - Ghosts of Past, Present, and Future

In 1975 Minnie sang that crazy note like she always managed to do.  Even at the tender age of eight, in my mind, I figured she must have been part of some strange vocal tribe.   Like so many songs during that time, the lyrics were risque and yet my parents somehow allowed and tolerated my at-the-top-of-my-lungs rendition of this song along with In the Bush (Musique), and Mary Jane (Rick James). I had no idea what I was singing about, but I knew it made the grown-ups uncomfortable and that was a great added benefit anyway.

Fast forward 22 years and KABOOOOM!!! One of the best Black love story flicks in the WORLD premiered; Love JonesNot only did it include the most memorable storyline and cast BUT THE SOUNDTRACK!!! WOW! Inside My Love re-emerges again, this time sung by Trina Broussard and again, you are drawn in and hold your breath in anticipation of "that note".  Trina delivered.  Had a chance to see her perform it live a couple of years ago and even though she was suffering from a terrible cold, she rocked it and I added her to the tribe.

Speaking of live...I have a strong passion for live music and I am blessed to count among my acquaintances, some of the most amazing independent recording artists in the country.  I usually meet these folks after seeing them perform, but I had the rare experience of meeting Gloria Ry'ann before hearing a note out of her mouth.  We always seem to run into one another at a local club here and there and we'd rabble rouse with the rest of the crew.  I've had plenty tell me that they are singers and I immediately give them back that plastered Stepford Wives grin.  Meeting Gloria was no different (sorry Glo LOL).  Eventually I did hear her sing live at an open mic, of all places, and what did Miss Gloria sing??? Right!

Maybe I'm not making myself clear...In my opinion, how a woman sings THIS SONG live tells me exactly what kind of vocalist they are.  It is the Mt Everest of soul songs and Gloria made it to the apex without losing one bit of oxygen.  Miss gurl has recorded her version and it is lovely.  Take a listen below and let her know what you think! (Listen for "the note"!)


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Sex Crimes Against Black Girls: The Anthology - Share Your Story

Two sistah girl friends of mine are calling for submissions for this very important anthology they are editing.  Here is a note they sent me recently.  Please read the instructions below if you're interested in participating.

sex crimes against black girls: the anthology

Edited by:
Shantrelle P. Lewis & Yaba A. Blay, Ph.D.

Share your Story.

Since we put out the Call for Submissions last month, we have been overwhelmed with not only inquiries and submissions, but with general words of support and encouragement. Many of the people we've spoken to have said to us I want to submit something...but I don't know what to write. Knowing that the topic of sex crimes touches so many of us, we want to make every effort to include as many people as would like to be a part of the project as possible. After all, part of the purpose of this work is to "give voice" to those who have been silenced.

We would like to include a series of first-person narratives (memoirs) in the sex crimes against black girls anthology. Each memoir will be accompanied by the person's portrait taken by a professional photographer. In doing this, we intend to put a face with a story - figuratively and literally. Potential contributors would not have to write their own memoir. Instead, we will interview you, transcribe the conversation, and edit your memoir from it. We will work with you on the final edits - you will have the final say in what gets published. We will then arrange to have your photograph taken.

Have a story to share? Please email us at by May 30, 2011. Please include "my story" in the subject line and give a brief, general description of your personal story (1 paragraph). Though we anticipate receiving a large number of stories, we will not be able to include each and every one. Should we select your story, we will contact you by June 15 to schedule the phone interview.

Please note that although we welcome the participation of women of all ages, we are particularly interested in connecting with women in the 40+ age sets.

Because of the location of the photographers we will be working with, we are only able to accept stories from individuals in, near, or who can easily get to one of the following cities:


Newark, NJ


Washington D.C.

New Orleans, LA

Kingston Jamaica

Lima, Peru

Port au Prince, Haiti

For more information about the Sex Crimes against Black Girls project, please visit

Friday, April 22, 2011

When sistahs say, “That White boy can saaaang!”

As most of my friends know, I tend to get out and about “on the town” almost every weekend.  No more needs to be said here on that topic.

Early last month, my homegirls (yes I still use this term…exclusively actually to describe my “besties”, as my kids will say), and I were meeting up in the Village to celebrate the birthdays of two other homegirls.  First, we hit a comedy club to check out an old high school friend who was hosting for the night (Mike Britt in case you’re wondering).  He did his thing.  We laughed and drank (I was actually a little tipsy from a couple of vodkas at the salon beforehand), and continued on to our next stop to hit the party.  Without getting into details, we never quite made it into the full swing of things at the club and ended up leaving after spending only 15 minutes there (UGH!  I’m so mad at myself for that but hopefully I am forgiven by now).

Eventually we “landed” at a live music venue I used to frequent like a second home.  I hadn’t been there in a long bit, but it was close by and my homies were down to go and just wanted to get out of the cold.  I know just about every soul who works there and was happy to see everyone for the most part. 

Nothing had really changed.  I was pleased to hear the band singing a few new songs but what really struck a chord for the four of us, was this new White dude playing guitar in the back.  I personally didn’t pay him any mind; thinking he was just another pretty face they had found to fill the shoes of the former guitar player (who I actually love and respect) who used to play there.

It wasn’t until this dude opened his mouth, or larynx, or whatever the f*** he uses to sing, that all of our mouths dropped in unison to exclaim “Whoa! that White boy can saaaang!”  Needless to say (but since not all of my 13 readers know me personally, maybe it does need to be said), I am uber-critical and I typically hang with like-minded folks.  I don’t and won’t give props to anyone if I don’t like them.  Maybe they’ll get a silent nod that signifies, “hey, it looks like you’re trying your best buddy”, and I am a mother after all, so I’ve had a ton of  practice getting the nod just right.

Anyway, back to the scene.  I really can’t recall everything he sang but the cover of U2’s Carry Each Other was…OMG!!! (yep I went there…yuck.).

Normally I pay close attention to the deets on my new “finds”, but again, we were partying heavy, had one too many pineapple vodkas, and I left the place forgetting to find out “who the HAIL was THAT!”

It took me a few weeks before I remembered that there was a live stream from this club and I immediately made an appointment with my computer for the night, with the hope that this dude wasn’t just there sitting in for that night…and dreams really do come true…it CAN happen to you…

You MUST….nah you HAFTA click on his name.  I will not fill the rest of these pages tellin’ you anything else about him.  Once you click and listen, you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Wait, wait, wait one more thing…and it kills me to do this…

You have to go and listen to him live.  I’m not going to tell you where.  Follow him…Facebook him…whatever…lemme know what you think.

Wait, wait, sorry one more thing; a disclaimer of sorts. His music is available on his website and I did download the free version, but what I did promise to do in return was to let my peeps know about him…I would have done it regardless.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Keepin’ it Real in Social Media…a long overdue note regarding high-profile and celebrity posts

The term is “social” media!  Not “stiff” media. 

I have held my tongue long enough.  I have been using all of the top social networks for quite a few years now.  A few years ago, I was even the “social voice” for a couple of famous recording artists, BUT my intention for those clients was to make sure they were set up technically and strategically to engage their fans without an intermediary.

I’m not trying to put social network promoters out of business.  I believe institutions like corporations, schools or churches should have someone in place to manage a centralized and consistent voice to the public, but I also strongly feel that individuals should speak with their own voice on social networks.  The beauty of these networks is that they allow you and your fans to feel more connected and by not speaking in your own voice, you’re gonna get busted (by me eventually) which may lead to a drop off in your following or lackluster engagement with your peeps.

I stay on Facebook and Twitter (I can hear my friends cheering, “yes yes it’s true!”) and I come across a myriad of posts and tweets from “celebrities” or high-profile individuals.  You can instantly tell who is really posting for themselves and who isn’t.  I have purposely refrained from naming names (I need a job!), but what I would love to advise those that aren’t posting for themselves is this…
Text your assistant or whomever you do have working on this for you, what you’re thinking throughout the day.  Let them post YOUR words for you (frankly if you have enough time to text someone, you should have the time to post the tidbit your damn self).
Here’s a link to a cool article on Black Enterprise magazine’s website (thanks to Alfred for finding this for me).  They offer some other great, more general, advice on “keeping it real”.

3 Simple Ways to Shine on Social Media - BLACK ENTERPRISE

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Baby it's You! - when The Shirelles Made the Headlines...

In the 70's I was the lead singer of a girl group....

Unfortunately I can't recall the name of the group because I was only 8 or 9 years old at the time, but I do remember our #1 cover hit called: Sending Out an SOS (which was altered to include a special time sensitive militant message of course). Our rise and fall began and ended in a small classroom where we practiced under the tutelage of Atiba Coard*; a kid from one of the older grades who we thought was the Berry Gordy to our Supremes.

I think quite a few of you can relate. I often recall my high school homeboys harmonizing to It's So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday (the original of course) while we girls sat on the sidelines with supportive yet pained grins through their off key harmonizing sung with such bravado (and intoxication I must add) that they were completely unaware of the cracked high notes they were hitting...poor babies.

This "doowop" style of music is coveted by all and makes a resurgence quite often. That's what speaks to the style's timeless nature. Most modern day (50's to present) generations have a few holdin-that-hair-brush-in-front-of-the-mirror songs we tend to sing like we're big names on the marquee.  These memories are why I personally was so thrilled when I received an invite to see Baby it's You! last night at the Broadhurst Theatre. The tag line reads: The Shirelles made the headlines...She made the Shirelles. 

I made it a point not to read too much about the show in advance to avoid any spoilers. My skimpy knowledge of Shirelles music came from compilation CD commercials (Rhino Records) or more notably from TV shows like Happy Days and movies like American Graffiti as their songs played as a backdrop to the dialogue. Honestly, I had prepared myself to watch the classic band/music group story about a group of girls who grew up together singing in High School who were then discovered and hit the big time with of course a resulting clash of egos resulting in their demise. The story of the Shirelles has always been overshadowed by that of the Supremes and I couldn't wait to see the drama unfold.

My expectations didn't get met, but in a good way.  While there were some dramatic moments, what the audience actually gets to witness is an inspiring story of a suburban housewife by the name of Florence Greenberg wrapped in musical performances that make me mad I wasn't a child of he 50's and 60's.  I immediately found myself relating to Florence.  That may sound odd if anyone looked at our lives in parallel, but what one can take away from the very first scene, is that she had a grand desire to change, to live her dreams and to be free...who among us can't relate to that?

It was a good retrospective.  I loved the stage design treatment and clever costume changes (of which there were many), and I really enjoyed the music.  The voices were flawless and the cast paid close attention to the style of singing and choreography of that era.  I left with some of my favorites repeating themselves in my head during the train ride home and as I write this blog.  Ironically the only song I wasn't familiar with was the title hit Baby It's You...LOL

As an enticement for you to check it out, the folks over at Baby it's You! would like to extend the 40% OFF offer below:

Call 212-947-8844 and use code BBHLM28

Sending Out an SOS - The first song I sang as lead in my girl group.
* - A special note - RIP Atiba...I'll never forget you.

It's So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday - The song my boys swear they were born to sing.

Rhino Records - Girl Group Greats - The commercial that put me on to this music.

My Favorites:
The song I wasn't familiar with:

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Austin Kleon teaches me how to steal and fake it

This is THE most awesome-ist advice I have read in a long time.

How To Steal Like An Artist (And 9 Other Things Nobody Told Me) - Austin Kleon
I was exposed to this article a few days ago and ever since I have forwarded it on to anyone I think would benefit from it’s humorous yet insightful evaluation of what he believes can help make us successful creative beings.
Here are my favorite take-aways: (Visit his blog…it’s fabulous!)

Nothing is original

I say this all of the time even though I sometimes like to think that I could come up with that big idea.  Read what Austin has to say about this particular theory.

Don’t wait until you know who you are to start making things

That’s right!  I’m still “finding myself” as they say. Working on the things we love, only help us to discover who we are…brilliant!

Fake it til you make it

The next time someone asks me, “What do you do?”, you know what I’m going to say?  “I’m a writer”…because I am…I wrote this, didn’t I?

How to Get Into Venues Using a Press Pass |

I just might try this! How to Get Into Venues Using a Press Pass

Social Media and the Financial Industry

You never know what you don't know, until you learn something...

For anyone in Finance who is interested in using social media to facilitate further engagement with your customers...
I was asked recently by an old colleague of mine, to take a look at a copy of guidelines for the financial industry as outlined by FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority). At first I thought, I was going to have to break out the law books, but FINRA's Regulatory Notice 10-06: Social Media Web Sites Guidance on Blogs and Social Networking Web Sites, is actually very layman-friendly and not as ominous as I presumed.

The areas that concerned me the most were the rules regarding:
  • Q1: Are firms required to retain records of communications related to the broker dealer’s business that are made through social media sites?
  • Q3: What factors should firms consider when developing procedures for supervising interactive electronic communications on a social media site that recommend specific investment products?
  • Q4: Does a blog constitute an “interactive electronic forum” for purposes of Rule 2210?
  • Q8: If a customer or other third party posts content on a social media site established by the firm or its personnel, does FINRA consider the third-party content to be under Rule 2210?

The answers weren't scary at all and I think if planned properly, a social networking strategy can be executed as long as the rules are followed impeccably.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Listening to your Heart: A 5 Minute Practice

There are various approaches to meditation. My biggest challenge over the years has been the struggle to quiet my mind; my inner voices. But I found the best time for me to practice is immediately upon waking up. I quickly check in with myself just before my brain has a chance to inundate me with anything (tasks, bills, worries) I have on my plate.
Something about those first five minutes upon awakening in the morning, reminds me of when I was a kid trying to hear the sound of the ocean in the seashells* my mother collected. I couldn't hear a thing no matter how hard I tried. All I could hear was what I had later heard described as "white noise". Well that "noise" is what I now focus on while I listen to my heart. Instinct, God, spirit, the Universe, heart. Call it whatever you need to, to make u feel comfortable.  In the end, it is the core source of who we are as beings in the here and now.

The Practice...

When u wake up, open your eyes and make sure you're really awake. Then close your eyes and listen to what your heart is telling you. And don't forget to breath.
Your heart is not a parent telling you what to do. It's not judging's your very own energy giving you the message of the day. Shhhhhh. Don't ask for anything. Just hone in on the message you're receiving. You have the option to accept or reject the message. Write it down and continue your day with the message always lingering in the background. At the end of your day ask yourself: Did that message help me today?

Try it out! Let me know how it goes. I'd love to hear.

By the way, in case you're wondering....This morning, my message was to tell someone about my five minute practice.

*My Mom's seashells looked like this...

Friday, April 8, 2011

Be Impeccable with your Word..A letter to my daughter Part 1

Dear N,
By the end of the day, both you and I will be guilty of the same unfaithfulness...
We will have both exposed our dirty laundry on the internet for all of our finite extended network to see.
While I have no intention of humiliating you, I did want to use this forum to show and prove that once the word is written, it is permanent once read.  No eraser or delete button, can wipe away the imprint of these symbols that were created by man to express our thoughts and feelings.
In this forum, I have decided to use my words to express my love for you.  I know (because of my age and experience) that arguments like the one we had today, take up such a small percentage of time in our entire lives, that they shouldn't become devastating events that will ruin "us" and what we've built as a unit over the past 17 years.
You're mad at me and hey I get it.  However, remember to always try and be "impeccable with your Word", because whether from mouth or pen, words matter.They can hurt "more than any bruise" as you stated, but they can also manifest into reality.
I have spent most of your life telling you that you can do anything and with those words I had hoped to empower you with the gift of entitlement.  The danger in giving you this gift is that sometimes it comes with an ego that won't allow humility and/or patience to penetrate the soul.
Be careful my very careful.  THIS is the most precarious time in your life.  I will always be here for you, but now it's time for me to act as your guide and not as you.
Peace and Love Always

Monday, April 4, 2011

Today I am Fear-Squashing

Fear-Squashing is the technical term (created by me I think) to describe the process I use to allay my fears...
I read somewhere that fear is actually the mind's defense mechanism to protect us from harm; like sensing the need to run when you see a bear coming atcha.  But this defense mechanism seems to kick in quite frequently when its original purpose becomes obsolete (not alot of bears in these dem parts), thus creating anxiety unnecessarily.

My fear-squashing practice involves the following 4 steps:
  1. Thank the fear for the alert and then politely ask it to leave me alone.
  2. Deep breathing: In through the nose and out through the mouth (with force) several times.  This helps me to expand and contract.  Ever notice how we stop breathing when we're scared or feeling anxious?  Deep breathing also helps me to focus on something.  I pay attention to the breaths.
  3. Stay present: this is a tough one and some view it as denial.  I view it as I can't do anything about what I have foreseen as a problem right at this moment. This is the greatest take-away I retained from reading Eckhart Tolle's A New Earth.
  4. Focus on the positive; what I want vs. what I don't want.
  5. Public expression as a release (like writing a blog post).
  6. Repeat as needed.
I feel it working now...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Building Blockages - A perspective linking spirituality and home improvement

This afternoon, I took the first real shower in my home since 2003...

Before anyone jumps to conclusions about my hygiene, I must state that I have indeed taken showers in my home since 2003, but not REAL honest to goodness, hot, rejuvenating, and luxuriously long ones...simply because I had a blockage.

Blockage you say? Why not call a plumber you ask? This blockage had nothing to do with household plumbing issues. This blockage was all in my heart and in my mind.

When I first bought my home in 2003, I had big plans; BIG GIGANTIC PLANS! My cottage has two bathrooms; a full one upstairs and a semi-full one with just a shower stall downstairs. The previous owner decided to use plastic tiles in the upstairs bathroom and maybe I could have lived with them if it weren't for the fact that the entire bathroom was decked out in hot pink; tiles, tub, sink, and walls all pink.

So back to the big plans...Impulsively without a budget to speak of, I proceeded within the first month of living here to tear down the tiles. It took an entire day. Those suckers didn't want to budge but when they eventually did, it was like popping off cheap press-on nails. I took great pleasure and pride in my first home improvement "demo" job. I then went shopping for tiles, found some beautiful 12x12 floor tiles that I wanted on the walls, and then contracted my brother to do the work. (Let me stop here for a minute. I am on the fence about the whole "never work with family or friends" philosophy. I think there are good arguments in both camps, but I've experienced pretty even results in that area and this is not a post about that topic, so let me continue.)

He did a great job, but here's the catch: He didn't finish. Somehow I am to blame. I was supposed to sand (to help cut costs) and I never did. I know the reason I didn't want to do it. and here's my official statement: "I sanded AND painted the TV room and after THAT experience, I WILL NEVER SAND AGAIN!!!" It's simple...before he would grout the tiles, he wanted the walls sanded and I refused. There wasn't any anger, or animosity between us. WE just never finished.

So for those of you who don't know anything about the whole purpose of grout, lemme tell you in layman's terms the implications of not having it...your walls will not be sealed and water will go through them. I found this out right away. I decide to take a shower in the upstairs bathroom (remember in 2003 folks), and I basically caused it to rain in my kitchen below.

You would think that this would spark an immediate reaction; an emergency call to my brother, or another contractor. Some of my more handier friends would have run to Home Depot to buy a Tiling for Dummies book and some grout. What did I do? Absolutely nothing...nothing! Call it stubbornness. Call it dumbness. I have no idea why I just didn't do something. One thing is for sure. If I didn't have a shower stall downstairs, maybe I would have been more motivated, but I had one and my girls and I used that small, cramped, uninviting shower stall for the next eight years...SHAME ON ME.

I can't indulge and dwell in the specific "why's" of what held me back. For now, I prefer to diagnose it as a mental blockage; a repression of something emotionally painful that caused me to ignore the disrepair that lay a mere six feet away from me every day for the past eight years.

What snapped me out of it? Two words on my vision board Lovely Home. This is what I've always wanted but I lost the intention somewhere along the way. There is no magic. There is only work; whether that work be mental, physical, or spiritual, some work has to be done to make things move and to happen.

This afternoon, I took the real first shower in my home since 2003, and it was glorious, and invigorating and rewarding all because I finally (somehow) removed the weight that existed in some crazy mental block and gave it to my desire for a lovely home.

I dedicate this post to my brother Akin (ibae). I love you and thank you for your guidance. ASE!