don’t forget to dance.

 

“But, I can’t even dance to this!”

Him, “just live in the moment.” ::grabs my hand::

Next thing I know we’re in the front of the stage, the only duo on the floor, while everyone else watches.  A live band was performing and the lyrics were unfamiliar to me (mainly because they were in Spanish),  but still I sensed the vibration and passion that was amplified by these musicians.  He takes the lead and starts twirling me around, pulling me in and out of rotations, and before you know it, we were salsa dancing.

The last time I felt like this on a dance floor was when ?uestlove was performing at The Florida Room.  This place was a go-to spot in Miami on nights, in my case Mondays, to just chill and unwind and drink $12 vodka tonics (with 2 limes).  During winter music conference (my favorite time of the year in Miami, Art Basel is a close second), guest DJs would come in each night, and ?uest was ending the week by performing on a Saturday.  There aren’t too many opportunities to say this was the best week ever, but this by far is in my top 5 list.

The Florida Room was designed by Lenny Kravitz, had the feel of your basement turned into a speakeasy and later dance club, with lights just dim enough to see silhouettes swaying around. Five of my closest friends who just so happened to be music lovers, came to experience the beauty behind ?uest’s art and as I can only speak for myself, this night was pure gold.

About twenty minutes into his set, I spot a photographer taking pics of me dancing.  It was genuine, as if he appreciated what he saw so much that it needed to stand still in time.  A few songs later, we ended up dancing and I felt the music and energy literally move through me.  Music tends to do that for me. Once I’m in it… I’m in it.

I love researching the producers and composers of songs that move me. ?uest has a beautiful way of piecing together his songs which creates art. His set is his signature. He blends cultures, inspired by his travels and exposure to the world, and as a result, no one in the room is left standing still.

[This is beginning to sound like an ode to ?uest. Maybe it is. Alas.]

In both instances, I let go of every inhibition I had and let my dance partner take the lead.  In both instances, I felt an out of body experience, and I didn’t want it to end.  Reflecting on these moments that involved pure dance, partly inspired by Rihanna – my new spirit animal, I noticed I was no longer in control.

As a coach, most times by default, I’ve managed to subconsciously build systems in my head to be in teacher mode more often than not.  There’s a time and place for this, and I learned the dance floor isn’t one.

Not everyone needs to be coached in every moment. Fall back, live and don’t forget to dance.

 

drop the weight.

Often enough, I get asked how I work out, what specific workout routine I follow and what I eat, because whatever I post on social media seems to be catching someones attention.

The truth is, I stopped doing what everyone was telling me I should do: “CrossFit every other day! Eat less carbs! Do paleo!”

I tried a bunch of different workouts and meal plans to see how my body reacted/responded, and came up with something that actually works, for me.

I dropped the weight.

This means, the weight of the world, the weight of the pressures that I put on myself, the weight of sticking to a number (e.g. scale, plates on the bar, counting macros).

All this excess ‘stuff’ helped me focus on what I could control, which is ultimately moving in my own body weight (see: yoga) and more importantly, my breath (see: yoga, again). Something as simple as just remembering to breathe has been incredibly helpful in every aspect of my life. When the weight of the world seems too heavy to bare, deep inhales and slow exhales lighten the load.

For those just getting into the swing of things as far as working out goes, start with the easy stuff.

The things that come natural to you or things that actually excite you, that doesn’t feel like a work out.  Whatever that is, stick to it for a month.  Get in to a routine of doing that thing and track how you feel each time you do it.

Don’t worry about the number of pounds you’re lifting or seeing on the scale. Actually, throw the scale away.

Walk outside for 5 minutes.  Do jumping jacks during commercials. Literally, just focus on breathing.

The more in tune you are with what you can control – your own body, your own breath – the weight (of starting) doesn’t feel as heavy.

i’ve been busy.

Busy exploring my surroundings. Feeling like a tourist in the place I grew up, experiencing everything with a new lens.

Busy surrounding myself with explorers. Healers, entrepreneurs, marketers, designers, teachers, activists, those who lift me up.

Busy practicing the art of self-care. Telling people no, digging in my mat, reflecting, meditating and listening.

Busy facing the trauma of what I’m exposed to. Gripping the wheel each time I pass a cop, tensing up, forgetting to breathe, thinking of who I’d call if I were to get pulled over.

Busy. Understanding, learning, researching and teaching.

Occupying my time to reflect and engage; to live fully present, in the midst of busyness.

“It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested. But when it is wasted in heedless luxury and spent on no good activity, we are forced at last by death’s final constraint to realize that it has passed away before we knew it was passing. So it is: we are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it… Life is long if you know how to use it.” Seneca, The Shortness of Life

 

8 minutes to post.

Writing something down is easier to get away with not doing said thing, because no one knows about it.

However with me, there’s something finite about seeing ink on paper. Especially if it’s defined as a goal.

August 1st.

It’s been 31 days since I last published, and I set my intention to post something tonight, with 8 minutes left in the day.

Thinking of every excuse means you’re hiding.

Post.

conversations with a cop.

Understanding my mindset is pretty simple.  I live a good life filled with yoga, joyful kids, a supportive family & set of friends, all of which is the basic recipe for being stress-free.  I’m a mediator, a libra, a feminist and an empath, and it may appear that there’s not too much I could ever be angry or worried about, but I still do at times because I care.

I care about a lot of topics that encompass social justice, human rights, mental health, physical health, health in general, biohacking, sports and whatever #blacktwitter is discussing. I care about people who’ve had their voices stifled, those who’ve lost hope,  those who’ve managed to use blinders to protect themselves from the light that can save them.

My abilities to have unusual conversations, anything not related to the weather, what you do or who you’re dating; but everything related to how you feel,  who do you want to be and who do you want to help & how, are at the forefront of discussion. I’m an INFP.  I take pride in knowing that I’ve fostered a sense of encouragement that leads to growth and progress of those I care about.

My squad consists of social entrepreneurs, physicians, teachers, pharmacists and cops.  Actually, just one cop.

Anyway, our conversations generally get deep, insightful, humorous and provocative as we each not only share thoughts but ask why.    With friends like these, you have a higher purpose – a mission that’s bigger than the self.  And you know it, they know it, we all feel it and we show up more powerful in the world we live because of this discourse.

Understanding and sensing how people think and feel is pretty much my forte.  I can sense if you’re bluffing (outside of poker) and I can sense if you need to dig deeper into your work or move on to the next thing.  Having a diverse set of friends provides me with a wide range of perspective and enormous amounts of empathy.

Recently, I caught up with a friend who’s black, who’s a male and who’s a cop in America.  Which isn’t the toughest job in this country, but I digress.

Navigating what my cop friend sees by provoking the why’s – that I graciously adopted from my 2.5 year old nephew who asks “why” after I say anything – allowed me to dig up enough fuel to help him see what I see.

He recently posted a picture, defending his peers for what they’re doing “right” which made me slightly disturbed.  Protecting and highlighting those who “safely” arrest people by not choking them to death or shooting someone in the leg instead of their 12-year-old chest, isn’t the point.

Highlighting (or blaming) the 1% of cops who aren’t trained properly to do their job isn’t the point either, but it’s the start at scratching the surface of unraveling what is so deeply rooted in our history.

I’m not a full-time activist, psychologist, analyst or history buff.  However, I am a concerned human who understands the importance of basic human rights, and will dig deep into how I can use my strengths to fight for justice.

He asked me to write up some inspirational mojo/carpe diem type stuff after we linked up, so I did – but I got very real with him and didn’t sugar coat much.  It’d be safe to tell him “yolo, keep doing what you’re doing!” but I didn’t.  I was blunt, honest and direct because I care.

It’s difficult following a path if you’re trying to change the culture of an environment that you’re not even passionate or concerned about.  If you don’t even enjoy who you’re surrounding yourself with, why try to change them? It’s more important to build a new tribe of those you enjoy being around, those who you want to help.  If you’re in a position of power, use your skills and knowledge constructively, to teach and show others what you see.  It could save a life and create a better environment for future generations.

 

anger matters.

There are times I want to scream and shout out loud “WHAT THE [redacted] IS HAPPENING IN OUR WORLD?!”   whenever I step outside, but I’m humbly reminded by folks like my parents, that this has been going on for a long long time.  I get angry and amazed because it seems that they’re not even phased by this, but I understand they’re tired too. They’ve they’ve marched, they’ve spoken up, they’ve protested; and it’s the same story, the same fight.

The difference now is that because of what they went through, they’re sharing are their experiences of the injustice, the battles they’ve fought, the tears and blood they shed to protect what’s theirs. These stories in itself are worth our efforts to speak up about what’s currently happening in this present moment.

Those who seem to never be heard, the stories that seem to always be in drafts and never sent, are finally having their voices amplified. #blacktwitter, Abernathy, Blavity – are all sounding boards and projects built from people like me who are frustrated. This is our therapy, a space where we can actually voice our opinions, and we’re finally getting noticed.

So, what’s next?

Use this anger, rage, aggression – this negative energy – to create and do something meaningful. Manifest your thoughts into something that can uplift, inspire and ultimately change the environment you want to live in. Anger turns into pride, which turns to courage, then willingness, acceptance and ultimately peace, when used constructively.

It’s not going to happen immediately, but continue to speak up. Your voice & creations will plant the seeds for our future, with the hopes of saving our lives that matter.

project update #2: my e-book!

Back in April, I made a committment to publish an e-book by June 30th, which transpired from attending Seth Godin’s Ruckusmaker Seminar.  

As of this post, I’m on track to ship by my deadline as I feel this is a piece that will help inspire you, or at the very least, brighten your day.

The title is still a work in progress, but what is set in stone is the fact that I’ll be sharing my own personal experiences and lessons learned on taking leaps, pursuing entrepreneurship and owning my identity, by tying it with people and things that inspire me on the daily (like CrossFit, J. Cole and #blacktwitter).

If this is something you’d be interested in reading and more importantly sharing, add your name below.

life experiences. (or better yet, writing material).

Sometimes I really don’t recognize this off the bat, but I’ve had some pretty incredible – sometimes horribly decided at the time – experiences thus far, which translate into posts like this.

The most memorable one of my 20s, was hands down, the Summer of Yes (S.O.Y). Granted, I went to college, had a really cool job, won a ring, traveled during my 20s – all things that are mainly tangible, that many people can achieve. But my greatest experience came from something that some people would probably frown upon, and something that was also very personal and intentional. There’s something about recognizing what’s faux-pas in the lens of what’s normal in our society (which makes doing said thing, epic), but I’ve always been a rebel and never really conformed to what everyone else was and is doing….so, there’s that.

April 2010 marked a few months after my roommate and I had ended relationships with our significant others that equally lasted at least 3 years. Speaking for myself, I was in a stage of exploration and really giving zero [redacted].

The short version of S.O.Y. was that we couldn’t say no to anyone who asked us out on a date, unless we felt threatened (which, fortunately, was very rare). We made rules, had a point system, a white board to track everything, and an end date. This was literally a game, but what it turned out to be for me, was one of the best experiences of my life. (If you’re reading this and thinking if you were one of those I dated during this time, the answer is most likely, yes :).

For the first time, ever, I wasn’t thinking about who my next boyfriend, husband or soulmate would be. I didn’t want to be in any sort of committed relationship, and made that very clear upfront.

The point wasn’t to go on a specific number or dates, or break the hearts of the men who selectively and willingly did to other women in the city. The point was to have fun. Literally, that was it. There were no ulterior motives. I’ll spare all the juicy details because they’re not important in this platform, but if you’re curious and want the long version, feel free to hit me up.

Carefree, yet intentionally purposeful in my actions. Each of my personal experiences during this summer and the underlying feelings, conversations and connections that were involved, are all still relevant today.

Nearly five years later, I’m writing about this experience in somewhat long form, yet also recognizing how important this stage of my life was. In hindsight, I learned more about myself as it relates to what attracts me not only physically, but mentally as well. I learned about trust, forgiveness, love and most importantly, detachment – or the beautiful art and practice of letting go. I did the inner work, without even realizing that I was shedding another layer into recognizing my true self.

The key is to create similar experiences that not only scare you, but that push you over the edge. The ones that nobody is really talking about. The ones that result in inspiring others once you share your story. The ones that make you think, “should I really being doing that?”

The answer is probably yes. Taking what’s probable into what’s possible requires leaping.

Do it.

 

 

 

 

the three biggest lessons I learned in May.

1. Don’t bottle up things inside. Instead, let them out, bit by bit. Doing so will help your journey feel less intense.

2. In the moments of intense anxiety, despair or anything that’s similar to those feelings, acknowledge them and understand that the answer to the meaning of life rarely comes in those moments. Wait ’til the smoke clears.  It’s prettier on the other side. Clarity ensues.

3. After recognizing what needs to be addressed, ask for what you want. After all, it is #shootyourshot season.

 

walking in west baltimore.

I felt guilty for not helping, for not witnessing the protests or walking the streets where he was shot.

I felt guilty for heading out of town when there were hundreds of opportunities to help clean up the streets that same weekend I left.

I felt guilty because I was afraid to head to the city – the real city – where the media had filmed the “riots.”

But today, I felt different.

Last night before bed, I scrolled through my twitter feed, and came across a post of a beautiful mural dedicated to Freddie Gray. I reached out to the woman who snapped this shot and she gave me the location where I could see this first hand.

I drove to Sandtown, specifically to the corner of Presbury and Mount, to not only see this mural that was curated just a few days ago, but to walk the streets to get a sense of who actually lives here.

At first, I was nervous for walking around, but as I roamed the streets, people greeted me and said hello. It was an overall chill vibe, but I could only imagine what the tension was like just a few weeks prior as some streets were still blocked off as a few scattered cops were standing guard.

As I arrived on the same streets where thousands protested, I felt a sense of peace. Now, the streets are quiet with people going about their day-to-day business. Women on the stoops braiding hair, kids walking around, men standing on the corner, politicin’ as usual. I walked up to the mural, with the fresh spray paint smell still residing in the air. I spotted a popular activist, Deray Mckesson, on the corner filming a piece in front of another building where a local Baltimore artist was creating another mural: a mix of images of MLK protests to what just transpired in these past two weeks. There were a few people with their DSLRs snapping away, but also engaging in conversations with those who were raised on these streets.

The boarded up row houses were not unnoticed, but this was expected. I’ve driven down these streets before, and understood this to be the “normal” west side of Baltimore.

I chatted up with three older black gentleman, one of whom was born and raised at Gilmore Homes – and actually bet $1,000 to his friend [who’s in jail] that he has proof that he was born there and when I tell you he was PROUD of where he was from – he pulled out a folder with his birth certificate with proof that he was born here. These cats just wanted to be heard. They voiced their opinions on how corrupt the cops are, how it took another murder for people to actually take a look at west Baltimore, and how instead of investing millions of dollars to rebuild Canton and the Waterfront, how about taking that money to help those who actually live here. With their frustrations, they all mentioned that it’s going to take a lot of time and effort to shed light on this neighborhood. All they can do is talk about what’s going on, with hopes that more people like us (the artists, the curious folks, those wanting to help) will actually do so and not just put this on the back burner.

I no longer feel guilty. I reside in Baltimore, and I have the chance to help 24/7. Spending just about an hour in this neighborhood was enough time to give me a feeling of hope. That there are people committed and demanding change, and taking immediate action to turn this place around.

Progress.

Let’s just hope this momentum continues.