The Choice You Make is the Shape Your Life Takes


It is not the conditions that shape your destiny, it’s your decisions. It’s in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped. ~Tony Robbins, Ultimate Edge Audio Session 1

Image of a road sign which illustrates the way life changes according to choices made.

The choices you make determine the direction of your life.

Tony Robbins offers us great thought exercise to determine “why your life has turned out the way it has”. Think about the decisions you’ve made your life over the past 5 or 10 or 15 years.

  1. What decisions have you made to physically place you in your geographic location? Your physical location affects your thought, friendships and activities, among other things.
  2. What emotions have you chosen to focus on and / or act upon? Those choices shape your beliefs, your body shape, relationship status, and landscape of your life.
  3. What decision can you make today to shift your outlook on your life, to improve your relationships, to deepen your ability to live an authentic life?

Where Does Your Inspiration Grow?


These three Atlanta-based men Boris Penton, Andre Rucker, and Cyrus “Glitch” Spencer of “Dragon House” have created their own style, lexicon and approach to the hip-hop genre of dance.

Precise movement. Nuanced facial expression, rapid-fire footwork and flexibility from beyond, these men created something that most of the viewing audience had never seen before, and it originated in their “Dance Room” (the converted Dining Room) of the apartment they share with some 10 other people. The men showed great support for each other and encouraged one another to “Vegas-worthy” performances. If their goals were to advance to Vegas as a trio, to put the name of “Dragon House” on the lips of dance-appreciating American public, and to radiate positive energy, well, they’ve succeeded on all THREE counts.

Who knows what the future holds, but the present is what have; In the present, the great here and now, three men collaborated on a trio of three distinct yet related original choreographed works that blew my mind, made me laugh and simply wish myself and my current collaborative group of women advanced preparation, excitement, skill and confidence when (capital “O”) Opportunity presents itself in support of our goals.

THINK:: What comes to mind about your own passion when you view the videos of “Dragon House” at home, their performances and the judges response?

FEEL:: What emotions and sensations do you feel at the prospect of the first step of YOUR dream coming true? Where do you feel those sensations and emotions in your body?

GROW::What physical, psychological, informational, or practical preparation do you need to ensure your readiness WHEN your opportunity arrives? How will you manifest the means to facilitate that preparation and growth?

Heritage Music Day:: kRI and hettie Bring the Love!


Listen to kRI & hettie, the message is clear in the lyrics. Watch the as they lovingly sing their songs of inspiration. I love to watch this performance on “The Inner View”, a transformative, inspiring, and provocative radio show created by the brilliant minds of the Center for Spiritual Living Dallas.

THINK about their words::Have you forgiven yourself or others today? If not, now is the time. Let the old pains, go! Whoever wronged you  has already moved on. To dwell in the pain means that you are actually the one who is hurting you. Trippy, isn’t it? 

FEEL your way to balance::Your breath is the way to become grounded in your body, to feel your emotions simply as sensations that pass through you. No emotion is forever, they are simply energy your body makes for you to navigate your world. How do you feel when you think about the life you’ve created for yourself? Your words, your actions, your integrity? Whether happy, sad, or indifferent, just breathe. It’s all temporary anyway.

GROW with the thought that you everyday holds your opportunity “to be”, and to do different::If your heart’s desire is still unfulfilled, then choose to make it real, make it your priority. You can allow yourself to enjoy thinking about, working toward, planning for, or expressing your truth.

Allow patience to grow within you. Take life one moment at a time, so that you can mindfully lay your path toward your self-created bliss. Take it one breath at a time, and you can BE bliss. I suspect that if we all followed our bliss then there would never be a need to forgive ourself or others, because happiness and fulfillment would reign. Of course, we’d all have to learn to not take things personally; that however is fodder for a future post on don Miguel Ruiz‘s book of wisdom “The Four Agreements“. For now, just follow your breath to your bliss. How to find the thing that is blissful? If it feels good in your spirit, it IS good for YOU!

EXCERPTED LYRICS::

Everyday is an Opportunity

To forgive myself

Everyday is an opportunity

To re-elect myself

To fall in love with myself

Everyday, Everyday, Everyday

Every thought that I have

Every word that I speak

Every secret I tell

Every promise I keep

Is a reflection of me

I breathe In, I breathe it out

I breathe it in, I breathe it out

Everyday, I am creating this.

Grow Food::Grow Fiber


Rebecca Burgess is one of my modern day inspirations for creating a local (North California) network of artisans, and fiber, and food farmers. Rebecca has trained with master natural fiber dyers, she teaches adults and children how to create natural low-impact color, and she inspires people to support local artisans.

I can imagine creating such a network here in North Texas, as I’ve already connected with two fiber farmers. My next activity will be to create a local, seasonal dye-map of plants, trees and shrubs in my area from which I can harvest for color through the seasons. It seems the first step to creating a fibershed is to learn what the environment / area offers by way of resources, then to create relationships with people who own, manage or care for the land, and with fellow artisans who can make beautiful things from twigs and berries!

 

 

Heritage Music Day: Evolution of Gospel


This is an oldie but goodie; this song “Optimistic” by Sounds of Blackness is from the “Evolution of Gospel” album, and it holds amazing memories for me. I was a camp counselor at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, the oldest (and most radical) Episcopal church in Harlem, New York City, and the self chosen spiritual home off my youth. It was there, on 126th Street and Old Broadway / St, Mary’s place that I took my first communion, I first interacted with live chickens and turkeys, served on the altar, and sang in the junior choir. I learned that it is good to be a P.I.T.A. (pain in the ass) to oppressive authority (thanks to then head priest Rev. Robert Castle, (Jonathan Demme’s cousin), and I learned to open my heart, mind and social space to people who live without homes, and with HIV/AIDS. St. Mary’s Episcopal Church taught me deep compassion for people, and each week I witnessed unconditional acceptance as people of many persuasions served on the altar, sometimes to the displeasure of the Cardinal. St. Mary’s Episcopal ushered me into a noble adulthood that I cherish to this day.

In 1993, I served as a summer camp counselor, and we created a closing ceremony for our campers that required all camp staff and students to take part. We all marched and danced to this song together, and it caused us to share and develop a deep appreciation for that moment in time with every replay of the song during our many weeks of rehearsal. The adult camp counselor with the greatest seniority, Tim Collins passed not too long after our summer camp, but I remember his humor, his candor, his loving family and well….his candor 🙂 He was the glitter on many of my summer moments. Although he left us, he also left an indelible mark that I remember every time I play this song.

I share this song with you almost 20 years later because it still moves me. I still sensorially reconnect with St. Mary’s altar, where I served as altar girl, choir member and camp counselor. Everyone has challenging and heavy days that seem endless and consuming, but the Sounds of Blackness tell us “You can win! As long as you keep your head to the sky!” I remember Tim chose this song. Although it seems difficult today, remember that tomorrow is a new day, and it holds infinite possibilities for happiness. “Keep, keep on…”

Sounds of Blackness was ahead of their time, with the video, the mixture of choreography traditions and their sound. They paved the way for many other interpretations of gospel music. I am lucky to have had them as a soundtrack to my early youth, I thank Tim for the timeless advice he offered us all through this song, and I am so grateful to St. Mary’s Church for being such a safe space in my early years. Even now when I read the blog or occasionally call the new head Priest Father Kooperkamp,all I feel, hear and think of is “home”. St. Marys was an incredible place to grow up back in the day! This song holds all this profundity for me, accessible via a simple mouse-click in iTunes. I hope you enjoy it, even half as much as I do.

Shawndel

Yokoo: Artist Cottage Industry as Safe Space


Fiber artist Yokoo and her safe space: Silence. Quiet Bike Paths. Secretive, enveloping mist. Sunrise. Water. Solitary, early morning excursion to a beautiful location. Water. Trees. A private world carved from the quietest time of day, and a home-sanctuary where she crafts beautiful artworks. Fiber artist Yokoo has created a cottage industry that is also a profoundly safe space  that reflects, supports and ensconces her personality, her craft and her philosophy of life.

Silence is very important. Most of my ideas come out of complete silence. We all need to allow the silence. There is so much noise. You need to take the time to realize why you’re here. You are here to create. ~Yokoo

Thank you Yokoo for sharing your process, sacred spaces, and your activities with us. The glimpse into your home studio, your philosophy, your style, and your private world inspires me. It is no wonder that your artworks are beautiful and sumptuous, as you revel in the beauty of your life, every, single, day.

Massive hand-crocheted scarf by Yokoo, for sale in her etsy shop

The Snow Leopard (Massive hand-crocheted scarf) in Navy, Crocheted by Yokoo, available on Etsy.com

It’s important for people to create their own worlds…you have this world in which you live in, but I think we should create a sub-world to protect us. When the idea hits you that you are in control of your life, it’s like a window opening in a stuffy room. And if I could just say anything to anybody, it would be that you are given this life to live, and not to just exist.

This “Handmade Portrait” prompted me to think deeply about my home studio, my creative practices and intermittent productivity. I found it to enriching to hear just how many hours Yokoo devotes to her craft every single day, and I admire the spartan order to her belongings. Her crochet and knit items are so plush, textural, richly colored and generously sized that I couldn’t help but wonder at which brand and how much yarn she used per object (the Snow Leopard pictured above is 10 feet long and 8 inches wide!!!). This line of thought prompted me to ponder yarn the source of her yarn and the amounts she must use to create each piece, which prompted me to schedule spinning lessons to learn how to spin yarn. Months later, I now spin yarn on a Drop Spindle. Yokoo’s work and Etsy’s handmade portrait nudged me on the path to realize that I can make the perfect yarns for the projects I envision for my crochet and knit work.

Sliver, 1st ply of the yarn and drop spindle

My Drop Spindle featured with 1st single strand of what will become 3-ply yarn, and the original sliver that I spin from.

As for Yokoo’s last message to live one’s life instead of simply existing, well I say in response: “I appreciate you, Yokoo, for living YOUR life to the fullest. In addition to the lovely garments and accessories that you envision and carefully craft for strangers, you present the image of a creative, self-assured woman who contributes to the beautiful tapestry of the life simply by following your bliss. That said, I add your bliss to my life list of inspirations.”

thinking, feeling and growing toward my goals,

Shawndel

Two tone green yarn on Drop spindle

My Drop Spindle featured with first ply of a two-toned green wool yarn

Heritage Dance Day: I Heart ZUMBA!


Yes, I know that the word “love” is over-used and often mis-attributed, however in this case, it is true. I LOVE Zumba. Why? Because it offers me the present day soundtrack of my life and culture in a package that precludes the old need to go to the club to “get my groove on”. The music is current with reggaeton, calypso, bachata, salsa, merengue, cumbia and more! A zumba class allows me to dance and have fun with people who have a similar interest in dance and fitness, but instead of the club, we go to the gym. Nothing says clean, mature, generative fun like dance as exercise, then a detoxifying tour through the jacuzzi, steam room and sauna. No need to suffer the club where the focus is alcohol and other type of social interactions.

Zumba clothes are “tropi-colorful” (have you ever seen a pink home with a blue fence, green plants and colorful flowers in the Caribbean…you can’t help but feel happy!). It is heartening to learn from so many instructors who are people of color, and many participants already love to dance or learn to dance because of Zumba. Culturally, I think Zumba is doing amazing work: it gets people to loosen up, to move their body, to have fun, to appreciate Latin and Caribbean music, and it teaches the formerly “rhythmless” that dancing is for everybody!

I find all this to be soooo very appealing. It makes sense, my parents hail from Guyana, South America which means I inherited a soca, calypso and reggae musical heritage. I grew up in Spanish Harlem with Dominican and Boricua / Puerto Rican neighbors and friends, so Bachata and Salsa is part of my New York cultural landscape right through to adulthood. I’ve even studied Portuguese and Spanish, taken Capoeira from a master teacher, and rocked out in Salsa, Samba, (waltz, swing, Foxtrot etc) ballroom dance lessons. And hey, I grew up in the inner-city, Harlem, the Bronx and Brooklyn, so urban chic is alright with me!

Zumba for that A**!!!

I’ve lived in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica, and Colima, Mexico where I was introduced to Cumbia and Mexican “polka”, and I have always been an avid and talented dancer by training and by culture, though I always disliked the club scene but wanted to DANCE! Lastly, I am a teacher, and by necessity have lived my life as an ambassador, always representing “the other” everywhere I go, because, well, I am usually the only one like me wherever I go. Zumba IS an ambassadorial project and it really  resonates with my experience. I think it is amazing how many people have lost weight and learned how to dance with Zumba, including a friend of mine who shed 100 pounds this past year Zumba-ing her way to svelte-ness (Congratulations KW, you inspire me!)

So, I include Zumba in Heritage Dance Day because I claim it as my own. I spent $90 on the Zumba set and I am going to Zumba my hind-parts until the DVDs wear out. I love it, i enjoy it, and I wanted to share a fun Zumba video with you that captures the excitement and enjoyment of just dancing to music close to my heart!

Lastly, the video is to inspire you to move. Try the moves, that’s the whole point. This video can bring you 4 minutes and 4 seconds closer to the body you desire and the fun you crave! And if you make it all the way through, I won’t tell anyone if you go have a Caipirinha despues que bailas conmiga!

ZUMBA. Brazil. Caipirinha. Baila!!!