Beautiful skies in New Mexico

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Las Cruces, New Mexico

Photo by LaylatheLion Photography in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

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Via ‘With a Brooklyn Accent:’ The United States of Sports and Music

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Clockwise from top left: Mickey Mantle, Frankie Lyman and the Teenagers, Willie Mays, Dion and the Belmonts.

Via Mark Naison, professor of history and African American history at Fordham University:

Growing up in Crown Heights in the 1950’s, the child of two teachers who had come out of dire poverty to scrape into the middle class, I viewed politics and government as abstractions, frightening and remote. Between my parents whispered talks of McCarthyite purges, the mushroom clouds I saw on tv, and the shelter drills we had in school, politics was scary. Televised pictures of Eisenhower and Nixon, who looked nothing like the Jewish, Italian and Black People in our neighborhood, made it remote. I was told by my parents never to sign a petition, the Constitution was something we memorized in school and trying to become President seemed absurd for people in my section of Brooklyn.
So how did I become “American,” attached to the possibilities, mythologies, and opportunities the nation offered to people of modest means who came from immigrant backgrounds?
It was sports and music which made me American. Watching Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays and Duke Snider play center field; watching Carl Furillo, who had the same face as many of my Italian friends, throw bullets from right field; listening to Frankie Lyman and the Teenagers; Dion and the Belmonts, and Little Anthony and the Imperials, kids who came out of neighborhoods just like mIne, create beautiful harmonies and sell millions of record; watching Giants linebacker Sam Huff try to tackle the great Cleveland running back Jim Brown! These were things that brought fame and fortune to kids like me, things that showed that anything was possible in America even if you grew up with very little or were stalked by ancient hatreds, such as the anti-semitism that was so much a part of my parents childhoods.
Read more here.

The Binary Consequence of Attachment and the Arising Joy of Now

Social media cleanse is a GOAL I have for this year, even though it will be hard to do & yet keep on top of news. Scratch that. It should NOT be hard. I’m making it hard. I can monitor news & pitch our faculty to the media ALL WITHOUT having to share my input on news. I admit it’s something I like to do because I love to laugh and reaction from my friends and followers makes it enjoyable. But as we all know, social media can have a negative effect on emotions. It can put you in a not-so-great space. It can take away your focus. For more on that, read the post via “The Daily Practice of Living” below!

The Daily Practice of Living

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In Buddhism, there are eight worldly conditions of life identified that are at the central route of much of our own suffering during our physical lives. They are broken into four pairs of opposites. They are;

Gain and Loss

Praise and Criticism

Fame and Disrepute

Pleasure and Pain

As human beings, no matter how hard we try, we will experience all of the above at some point in our lives, often several times over. The presence of any one in a pair will lead to the manifestation of the other.

I call this the binary consequence of attachment.

The easiest place to look is gain and loss as it is something most of us have experienced and have a memory of from an early age. I remember the first time my mother took away a toy of mine as “punishment” for being bad. I had initially gained the toy and…

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Seattle’s Joe Kye is ‘different’ & that’s a good thing for music fans

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Joe Kye

We’ve all seen the videos and heard the stories. Someone walks up to a person who looks ‘foreign’ and demands that they act/speak/look ‘American’ only to be told that the ‘foreigner’ grew up here and is really just as American as anyone else.

Joe Kye is a Korean-born fellow, who moved to the US at age 6. He experiences some aspect of being told ‘you’re different’ just about every day- even in his hometown of Seattle. But ultimately, the city came to his rescue, presenting the young Joe the opportunity to play violin in the school system. It proved to be his escape, and the songs on Joe’s upcoming album Migrants reflect the immigrant experience, and what it’s like to live stuck between two worlds.

“I’m looking to create a sound and a vision for what might be,” says Kye, a violinist, composer, and vocalist who blew open his diverse musical world when he discovered the magic of the loop pedal in college. That vision has fractures and fragments, wounds and gaps, but it resonates with a bittersweet optimism, a measured hope for change and coming together on Migrants, his debut full-length album and third release.

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Joe Kye’s ‘Migrants’

Kye’s crisp playing, layered in swirls of pizzicato arpeggios and percussive elements, forms the foundation for clever and reflexive lyrics and a tender, urgent voice. He bounces his own distinctive sound around in collaboration with everyone from friend and LA-based MC Jason Chu and Vegas-based MC Rasar (“Fall In”), to NYC composer/percussionist William Catanzaro (“Migrants”), to a full string section (“Joseph Rests His Head”), a lush contrast to Kye’s taut loops.

Music has been a lifelong refuge for Kye. “Music is essential and therapeutic for me, and has been since childhood,” Kye recalls. “I remember in Korea, borrowing my dad’s walkman and putting on the headphones, how powerful and adult that felt. That personal and transportative experience has stayed with me.”

Listen to his single “Stick On Me” below and grab the album at his website.

World / Latin music: Cal Jader’s Best Of 2017 Mixtape Part 1

Via Sounds and Colours:

Tropical doyen Cal Jader (the main man at Movimientos) returns to the S&C site for another year with his selection of 10 Latin American tunes that have been keeping his DJ sets, radio shows and headphones alive over the past 12 months. From reggaeton to cumbia to samba, Latin jazz and Cuban electronica there surely is a little something for everyone here.

Read the rest of this piece (with music videos) here.

Please take a listen to his mix below.

To anyone struggling with letting go.

Had to share this blog post via Yoga with Jaimee as it resonated deeply with me for a few reasons:

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Photo via Yoga with Jaimee

A few weeks ago I snapped this photo outside of my sister’s house, and shared it on social media.

I captioned it with this quote: “the trees are about to show us how lovely it is to let dead things go.”

The phrase “let it go” used to really irritate me because I didn’t know what it meant or exactly how to do it. And there are times when I still struggle with it a lot.

As an analytical person, I need visual aids and practical steps to help me understand and accomplish things. It’s the virgo in me. I prefer finding ways to compare those lofty ideas with things I can really wrap my head around. In my mind, I connect the act of letting go to that time I was finally able to release both hands from my handlebars while riding my bike. And yes, “letting go” is what happens when I frantically drop a hot pan on the stove after realizing one of the oven mitts has a hole in it. That’s some serious let go if you’ve never experienced it.

But the kind of letting go that involves a conscious choice versus a physical action, can be extremely challenging and scary. It can also be painful as hell if it’s not something you’re ready to do: especially if your heart and mind are singing two different songs. Letting go in this sense is releasing all doubt, worry, and fear about a situation, person or outcome. It’s releasing anything that disrupts your happiness and no longer serves you on your journey.

Letting go is a choice to decide that you will no longer ruminate on things that are out of your control, and focus on what you can control, instead.

Letting go creates space for fresh beginnings: stripping you of what happened yesterday, and enabling the doors of brand new opportunities to open today.

Letting go is about accepting what is happening right now and not worrying about what will come up tomorrow.

It involves much more than just saying you have let go. It’s an internal process that must happen for you to truly feel better and get on with life in a healthy way.

Throughout this year, I’ve been having lots of conversations with people and reading an assortment of spiritual books on exactly how to let go. I’ve come up with these five steps that helps me better understand how to do this thing and could possibly help you too:

As a gentle reminder, it’s important that we honor where we are on our individual journeys of letting go. This is a process that may be more challenging for some than others. Know that wherever you are right now, is okay.

1)  Mind control–The human mind is the most complex tool we own and can either be our biggest ally or worst enemy. Having the power to let things go starts there. Making an intentional choice to no longer let past issues and people who hurt us control the mind is what can break the cycle of unhealthy rumination on these thoughts, ideas and feelings.

For me, what ends up happening when I let my mind go down the dark road of rehearsing painful experiences is I began to create a story about myself that typically follows the lines of “I’m not good enough”, “I’m unlovable” and “no one cares about me”. The more I think about it, the more my mind creates space to allow feelings of hurt, anger and frustration to fester and completely ruin my mood.

Although I’m still working on this, it’s important to constantly be in observance of your thoughts without attaching yourself to what it is you’re thinking. The reality is your thoughts don’t define your value. You are not the summation of your past experiences. Just because something doesn’t work out, doesn’t mean you are now labeled as a failure or you’re incapable of receiving what you desire in life.

The more we can simply watch our thoughts come and go without attaching our identity to them, the easier letting go becomes.

Thoughts are nothing more than thoughts. What we decide to do with them is what can either make or break us.

2) Getting it all out–Having the ability to express your emotions in a healthy way is another step to processing things before deciding to let them go. As a writer, this is also a must for me because it serves as a form of catharsis and creative release. I like to spend time journaling out my thoughts and emotions. While obsessing over the details of what happened in the past is never the healthy route to take (we all do it), it’s important to analyze why you’re feeling a certain way, and how you can show up differently the next time.

There are so many breakthroughs to uncover through self reflection. Other ways to express yourself include talking to a trusted friend, family member or therapist. I have discovered that seeking out counseling is one of the best ways to receive objective advice and support throughout my journey of healing and learning to let go.

Sometimes, friends and family sit so close to a particular situation that they’re unable to provide unbiased support the way in which you need it. And, sometimes they don’t always offer the best advice. Sometimes it’s not always that easy to let something go. Especially if there are old narratives that are lodged somewhere in your subconscious mind from previous experiences.

When we continue holding on to grief, anxiety, pain, and resentment from the past without fully working through each situation, all of these experiences, patterns, and narratives accumulate inside the heart, making it even more difficult to let things go. When this is the case, it’s so important to seek out therapy to help you work through and heal from the inside out.

3) Acceptance–We all want to know why something ended the way it did or how someone could end up hurting us so badly without having any concern about how it negatively impacted us. We believe that we deserve the right to these answers. We want some level of understanding. The painful truth is, we don’t always get that “closure” we think we ought to have.

Not everyone will explain why they did something or even apologize when they are at fault. And I know firsthand that this reality stings a lot. Like someone pouring salt in an open wound. Not getting solid answers and having to move on with life without closure is no fun, but it’s something many of us have to do at one point or another.

Fully accepting the situation as it is without constantly wishing it would be different is really the only way to getting on the road to being okay. And this isn’t only about accepting situations. We have to start accepting people for who they are as well and believing them when they show us their true character. Because they aren’t lying.

4) Forgiveness–To truly let go and move on, sometimes you have to forgive people who aren’t even sorry. Sometimes you have to accept an apology you’ll never receive. That takes so much strength and courage and humility. While it may seem unfair and backwards, sometimes, that’s how the chips will fall. There’s nothing worse than holding onto resentment about someone or something for years, while they happily move on with life.

And the reality is, doing this only hurts you.

The most important thing is that we also have to learn to forgive ourselves. This can be done by writing a letter to yourself, replacing self-loathing with compassion, and deciding to make better choices next time.

5) Stay present–The present is all we have. We can’t go back and fix the past, and what happens in the future isn’t here yet. We must make an effort everyday to remember that and allow ourselves to open up and enjoy what is unfolding right in front of us: all parts of the journey both easy and hard, good and bad.

A friend of mine once said to me “you are right where you are supposed to be”, in the midst of a very rough season. My initial reaction back to that was filled with frustration and confusion. I didn’t want to accept the fact that he was probably right. Because life is full of so many teachers and lessons. Sometimes you will be the teacher, and other times you will be forced to learn a hard lesson. This year has found me in the role of the student on so many occasions: pushing and encouraging me to let go of old narratives and painful pasts.

This year has inspired me to work harder at letting go of self-loathing, insecurities, hurtful people, unrealistic expectations and timelines, comparing myself to others, and obsessively worrying about things far beyond my control.

I owe it to myself to be more kind to me.

Everyday, I am consistently reminded to embrace the present and all it has to offer: a new opportunity to begin again. No matter how much I may stumble on this journey of letting go, the present is always here to remind me that I don’t have to stay stuck on yesterday, or worry about what will happen tomorrow.

I trust that this opportunity is open for you to receive it too.

Everyday we have a choice to keep holding on just a little bit longer, or conclude that today is the day we will finally let go.

 *If you were inspired by this post, please share it with a friend who could also benefit from it.*

P.S. What is something you are working to let go of this season?

 

 

How the Crow Became Black

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See link for this video below

A wonderful Native American story told at Fordham’s first ever celebration of Native American History Month via Fordham News:

Sheldon Raymore brought stories and dances from the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe.

In introducing his dances, his stories, and his regalia to the crowd, Raymore described how each tradition was “gifted” to him. In each introduction, he credited a specific person. After the performance, as he walked across Edwards Parade to have his photo taken, he explained why.

Kodiak Tarrant dances.

“In our culture, everything is a give and a take. We don’t just cut down a tree without purpose, or without making an offering in its place,” he said. “It’s always an exchange of energy or a blessing. That’s what we as a people do.”

Host and emcee Bobby Gonzalez, a Bronx-based community organizer, said most of the dancers that came to Fordham had volunteered to share their culture. It was in that same spirit that Raymore gifted a story, “How the Crow Became Black,” to all those gathered.

“It’s a story that reminds us not to judge each other, that we each have a gift that was given to us by our Creator, and that we’re here to share that gift with each other.”

How the Crow Became Black

A long time ago, Mother Earth’s shawl was covered in snow, so much snow that the animals were freezing. The animals held a grand council to decide [who]should visit the Great Spirit [to ask for help].

Rainbow Crow was the most beautiful of all the winged birds. His feathers had many colors, some not even from this world. Those colors don’t exist anymore. And Rainbow Crow had the most beautiful singing voice out of all the winged birds. And so, Rainbow Crow was chosen.

Suki Tarrant

He flew to Great Spirit to ask for the snow to stop. Rainbow Crow flew past Mother Earth, past Grandmother Moon, past Grandfather Sun, finally reaching Great Spirit, Wakan Tanka. To catch the attention of Great Spirit, Rainbow Crow sang the most beautiful songs, and he caught the attention of Creator.

Creator asked Rainbow Crow, “What can I give you for this gift of that beautiful song?” Rainbow Crow said “Everyone is freezing on earth, can you make it stop?”

But once Creator thinks about something it cannot be unthought—that’s the power of thought.

So, he told Rainbow Crow, “I’ll give you this gift of fire.” Creator stuck a torch into the sun and gave it to Rainbow Crow. But being a winged bird, the only way he could carry this gift of fire was in his beak. Rainbow Crow flew back as fast as possible, past Grandfather Sun and Grandmother Moon, finally reaching Mother Earth. When Rainbow Crow put that fire down, all the animals of earth rejoiced. They were dancing and they were excited because life would go on.

But, for Rainbow Crow, his once beautiful feathers had been scorched black from carrying the the fire back to earth. And the beautiful singing voice that he once had was gone. It sounded like what you hear from the crows just outside: “Craw! Craw!”

Creator noticed that Rainbow Crow was sad and he said to Rainbow Crow, “Do not be sad. When grandfather sun shines his light upon you, you will see the colors of the coat you once had.” That is why when you look at a crow today they have an iridescent color to their feathers. Creator then said, “Rainbow Crow I will make it so that when the humans come they won’t hunt you because I’ll make your meat taste like burned flesh. And they won’t cage you for your beautiful singing voice.”

That was enough for Rainbow Crow. And that is how the crow became black.

Watch a video from the event here.