Inspiration Tuesday: Strength, Courage and Wisdom


My thinking, feeling, growing lovelies!

I recently became re-inspired to practice my guitar for two reasons; the first is for the simple enjoyment of the instrument, I love to feel the curves and weight of the guitar in my arms and on my lap, and the sounds of the plucked strings thrills me. The second reason is to get my chops back as I anticipate performing with vocalist Leisha Lashawn later this year. It has been a while since I’ve performed, I’ve started practicing the basics so that I may feel confident when I return to the stage.

As I searched my sheet music I rediscovered my book of India Arie’s “Acoustic Soul” guitar tablature. However, it was only when I watched Lainey Bernstein sing it at the Center for Spiritual Living Dallas, that I realized that I should share this song (and Leiney’s performance of it with you. ( Reverend Petra’s talk “What You Think of Me is None of My Business” follow’s Lainey’s performance).

I adore this song because it is a catchy, inspirational tune that tells us that self-trust is the only path to emotional, spiritual and psychological freedom. There is no person, pastor, prophet or professor who can give you courage or confidence. Science of mind, or spiritual psychology would tell is that any miracle that bolsters your faith was in fact, self-created. I love India Arie for her courage and innovation because she wrote a song of self-love and shared it far and wide with mainstream music fans.

As a blogger, I step out on faith every time I share my thoughts with a public that I do not see and cannot trace. I make myself knowable using a medium that does not necessarily foster reciprocation. Even still, I trust that I am honing my ability to share insights and inspiration via the web as effectively as I do in person. I also trust that blogging contributes to my future goals in some great way–beyond my enjoyment of the task itself.

THINK::When was the last time you stepped out on faith? What made it a test of your courage?  Remember tests are indicators of skill, so then tests of faith are measures of how well you trust yourself to manage that aspect of your life. If you doubt yourself, remember doubt is not based on fact, doubt is created by fear. Doubt is literally the spawn or offal of fear. Why give your power to psychological poop? Just flush it away.

FEEL:: What emotions and physical sensations did you feel during and after the “test”? What do you feel right now as you read about and think about fear as something that you can work by simply choosing to trust yourself? What would your life feel like if you had profound trust in your ability to care for yourself, to choose good people,places, and foods for yourself? If you can feel it, you can live it!

GROW:: What would it take for you to trust yourself? If you feel that some parts of your life actively prevent you from feeling courageous about your ability to be healthy, stable, happy or calm, then what changes can you make? The only change you need in life is you: shift your thoughts and choices, your behaviors and relationship to your environment, community and confidantes.

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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

Encourage Yourself


Lyrics

Sometimes you have to encourage yourself

Sometimes you have to speak victory during the test

and no matter how you feel, just the speak the word and you will be healed!

Speak over your self, encourage yourself, in the Lord, ooooh

(choir) Sometimes you, have to encourage yourself

gotta pat your own self on the back, yeah

(Sometimes you have to speak victory during the test)

And no matter how you feel, speak the word over your life, ooooh and you will be healed

Speak over yourself, encourage yourself, in the Lord.

Second Verse

Sometimes you have to speak the word over yourself,

Depression is all around, but God is present help!

Well the enemy created walls, but remember giants, they do fall

Speak over yourself, encourage yourself, in the Lord, oh!

crescendo

As I minister to you, oh, I minister to myself…

Life can hurt you so, ’til you feel there’s nothing left…oooh!

(chorus) (no matter how you feel)

Speak the word over your life and you will, you will be healed!

(Speak over yourself)

Sometimes you gotta look in the mirror and tell yourself “I can make it!”

(speak over yourself)

You gotta remember that life and death lies in the power of your own tongue.

Even if nobody tells you you can run on, YOU TELL YOURSELF!

You gotta remember I’m more than a conqueror!

(I’m encouraged!) Greater as HE rests me …..yeah,

(I’m encouraged)

I believe that the Lord said about me!

(I’m encouraged!)

Everything that the enemy ever told me: It’s a Lie! It’s a Lie! It’s a Lie!

(I’m encouraged!)

Yeaaaahhh! Yeaaaahhh! Yeaaaahhh!

(I’m encouraged!) I’m encouraged!   (I’m encouraged) Oh Yes I am!

(I’m encouraged!) Oooh Yes I am! (I’m encouraged!)  Yeahhhh!

I,  will lift up mine eyes unto hills! yeah. All of my help, all of my help comes from the Lord!

I believe, I believe everything he said about me! Oh yeah!

(I’m encouraged)  Oh Yes I am! (I’m encouraged) Oh Yes I am! (I’m encouraged)
Oh…Yes I am! (I’m encouraged) hey , I am

I am, I believe I’m gonna run on, I’m gonna see what the end’s gonna be.

(I’m encouraged)

I know something better is out there waiting for me!

(I’m encouraged)

I believe everything the Lord said about me!

(I’m encouraged).

Speak over yourself, Encourage yourself, in the Lord.

END

The Dawn of a Digital Storytelling Career?


Contribute to the INDIEGOGO campaign

Yes, indeedy, I am translating my skills gleaned in the academy and at the CUNY New Media Lab and the Center for Digital Storytelling  into a marketable trade in the Performing Arts.  I am the New Media Consultant and director of all things technical  on the new indie musical “Talking to DeVon“. It is a multimedia musical with a digital trance-house soundtrack. The scene is set in the DMV, anywhere USA, where three strangers meet and learn that their paths had been leading up to that one moment of interaction. It is a funny, complex and emotional play that really speaks to my ideals of enhancing our quality of life by our receptivity to  genuine interactions with strangers.

Signature image for the Musical "Talking to Devon"

The idea behind the low-fi visuals is that the characters could be anyone, anywhere, you, me or your neighbor. In each moment, we can and do choose what energy we put into the universe. Talking to Devon explores the possibility of being your best possible self, in the company of strangers.

The play is grounded in Five Elemental Theory and includes dance, spoken word, an original soundtrack, video and sound installation and audience participation. We will open in Dallas, and our second venue will be in my beloved Brooklyn, NY! Tweet us for ongoing details!  My job as the Digital Storyteller is to work closely with the artist, Leisha LaShawn to conceptualize her ideas into something for the screen using relatively lo-tech video tools to convey organic ideals. The video will demonstrate the various emotions woven into the script, and will go with the songs to convey the meanings of Five Elemental Theory. Some of video will offer comic relief, or let the audience know when there is a transition in the story.

Overall, I think the play will be valuable for those of us who live fast-paced or hectic lives, who find it challenging to find or make time for mental and emotional rest.

We are raising funds on Indiegogo, so that we can pay for the first staging, set production, liability insurance, soundtrack mastering and all the other incidentals that bring great musicals to the stage.  I hope that you will find the story compelling enough to read more. If you enjoy the idea of spreading good energy among up-and-coming artists, then please do contribute to our IndieGoGo campaign. In addition to our gratitude, we offer fantastic material incentives in exchange for your heard-earned greenbacks 🙂

Be sure to tell me what you think about the video!

In creativity,

Shawndel

Is this love…


There aren’t many remakes of Bob Marley’s finely crafted music that I can abide by, but this version by Corrine Bailey Rae is exceptional. I chanced upon a snippet of this song in a closing sequence of a Valentine’s Day episode of some show on Hulu…maybe it was House? Fringe? I dunno! I still can’t tell you where I found it, but thanks to Shazam, I found Corinne Bailey Rae, of strong vocals, and lovely interpretation. Only time will show the trajectory and endurance of her career, but the strength of her voice and composition of her band leave me a fledgling fan, inspired to bravely give new flair to old cultural favorites.

Ashe.

Sparkling Esperanza Spalding


I had this draft sitting for a couple of weeks waiting for the words, imaging that I would have to do a hard sell on her beautiful sound. Alas, it seems the Grammy’s show it is not a hard sell at all and that her work speaks or sings for itself. My absolute favorite is the first song “Little Fly” her adaptation of William Blake’s poem #97 the Fly.

She inspires me, the near perfect mingling of techniques, styles, her flair, ability, and confidence, her genuine approach to interviewing and the sweet soul that must underlie it all to make music so refreshing, so new and wholly her own. To me, her sound represents a body of work, what a dissertation should portend or least hint at. I am crafting the equivalent for my research – a tone of writing, a technique of analysis, a brand based in a unique approach to research on everyday objects. I can only trust that what I produce also will be palatable and my market, identifiable. Esperanza is a wonderful role model though our disciplines are different. I wish her continued success, and I hope to see her live, soon!

So, it is without further ado…I present, Esperanza Spalding

(Poem #97The Fly

Little Fly
Thy summers play,
My thoughtless hand
Has brush'd away.

Am not I
A fly like thee?
Or art not thou
A man like me?

For I dance
And drink and sing
Till some blind hand
Shall brush my wing.

If thought is life
And strength and breath;
And the want
of thought is death;

Then am I
A happy fly,
If I live,
Or if I die.

— William Blake

Tina Turner’s Voice rivals Jimi’s wah-wah pedal


My Feeling and *Seeing* friends,

Jimi used a guitar and effects pedal to pitch our emotions to certain levels, to prepare us for the visuals and sounds he was sending our way. the Divine Ms. Tina Turner uses her voice. Add to that the fantastic set design and you have this, a well composed concert for a mature woman performing to a crowded stadium in the Netherlands. Simply Fabulous. We celebrate Beyoncé in an ageist world. Today, I celebrate the Greats.

I recently revisited the video of the incredible Gospel Luncheon that Oprah hosted back in 2005. She gathered the most influential black entertainers of all time to her estate on Hawai’i. It was a very special moment that Oprah generously shared with the world. You can watch it on my Tumblr blog. watching it, and witnessing all that talent in one space made me want to learn more about the attendees. Enter Ms. Tina Turner.

She appears dignified and sexy, learned and alluring. She is physically impressive, we can see that she is mature and energetic. The brilliantly hued visuals all add to her charms, from the golden set lighting to the flames dancing in the center of the golden eye. Such a coup to be chosen or to chose to make music for a cult classic Bond movie. They are perennial favorites. So clearly Ms. Turner has a keen business sense.

Tina Turner is one of our Goddesses of Rock n Roll that does not get enough recognition in America. She is the glamorous aunt we all want, the strong-minded friend we wish to emulate. So I post her video here in hommage* to just that. her ability to inspire us to be our most confident and clear-spoken selves, and to look good while doing it!