Life is For Living…

I wish I were one of those people who could get up early in the morning and feel like they can take on the world. You know who I mean. Those people who rise at five, do a little meditation and yoga, sip some coffee, ponder life and the like. The truth is, I’m not one of those people. One of my many faults lies in the fact that I am a dreamer by nature. I would rather sleep in, and hold on to my amazing dreams that give me the pleasure of escaping from the reality of the world. My fantasy seems to be so much better than my reality could ever be. But I suppose that’s the problem. All too often, we allow fear and complacency to make us believe that what we are today, what we have at this moment, is all that will ever be true for us. I’ve realized that it is in those moments that we have to push through and make the conscious decision to NOT give in to mediocrity, that we cannot allow our dreams to become wistful memories.

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What is it that you truly want out of life? What are your dreams made of? How will you make those dreams come to fruition? These are the sorts of questions I ask myself, when I find that I’ve spent too many minutes viewing the falsified lives of others on social media sites. Depictions of grandeur, of steak dinners and golden tickets, when the realism is more ramen noodle and shut off notices. I’ve been smart enough to remove television from my life; so much so that, I probably watch not more than an hour a week, if that. Yet somehow, I have a harder time blocking out the social media chatter. Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not a coveter by any means. And social media gives me great ideas about what I need to be doing. The one thing it doesn’t provide me with is the actual motivation to get up and do it. I get sucked in the 30 second video montages, and I find that I am unwittingly wasting my life, one view at a time.

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So how do I begin to become one of those people? The early riser, the go getter? At one point, I fit squarely in that category. I was unstoppable, ambitious, creative. And somehow, I’ve let the bullshit take over and turn my mind into the malleable clay that media and society is so desperate to capitalize on. I’ve realized that I need a break. A true break. I need to refocus on living, experiencing, being present. We spend so much time proving to everyone else that we’re living our lives that we forget to prove to ourselves how to actually do so, never realizing that we truly aren’t. What’s important to me right now though? Living in this moment, regaining my creativity and drive, loving myself and those around me, but in an intentional, not half-hearted way. Too many of us are alive, yet refuse to live. I have no desire to be a drone, a clone of everything that is wrong in our shallow world, a person who is incapable of formulating their own opinions and feelings without first checking in on the popular consensus. Today, I choose to wake up; what will be your wake up call?

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Prepare for Greatness

One of my very best girlfriends sent me a wonderful, inspiring short video this morning. It was a video of Steve Harvey, and in it, he was discussing how important it is for us to decide to step out on faith and take that “jump” towards fulfilling our purpose in life. I loved it so much that I shared it with other friends, who immediately stated that it was just what they needed this morning. For Millenials like myself, life can seem like one endless sequence in “Groundhog Day“. We get up, we slave away at work (usually without taking a lunchbreak or any sort of break), we stay there well past quitting time, we rush home, cook dinner, get some gym time in, shower, fall into bed, and prepare ourselves to do it all again the next day. We comment on how quickly the days, the weeks, the months, the YEARS fly by, and lament on how we don’t feel fulfilled. How if, we just had more time, or more money, or more focus, we would be living the life of our dreams. We stare lifelessly at our work computer screens, we feel our souls dying with each meeting request that pops up on our Outlook to fill our day, and we complain. And we make excuses. And we do nothing. So how do we begin to get out of this sick cycle?

Mini Man

I believe the first key is to start taking just a little bit of time for yourself each day. No, I don’t mean that you should take thirty minutes to scroll aimlessly through your Instagram feed, admiring the false lives of others (that’s called procrastination and distraction). I mean really take that necessary “me” time to get to know yourself. Start by making a list. What is it you would do if money and time weren’t an issue? What makes you sing in the morning? Do you get excited when have time in the kitchen to really put something amazing together? Maybe during all of those meetings, you’re sketching amazing pictorials on your notebook. Or you’re active imagination is creating a telenovela of the fictional lives of your coworkers. Essentially, where does your creativity seem to be sparked?

Open Land

After you’ve taken this time, and made this list (or, if you’re like me, your visual guide), start figuring out how you can begin to fit these things you love into your daily life. Maybe, instead of taking your cell phone in the bathroom with you at home (we all do it, don’t be coy), you bring a notebook to start outlining your plans for your new interior design company. Set real goals for yourself – S.M.A.R.T.E.R. ones – that are attainable. The key here is to get everything down in writing, so, when you feel unmotivated, you can have your own positive words written down to reignite your passion. For me, it was easier to map out my yearly goals on my vision board, and then I could figure out which ones I could expand on and tackle first. Your priority is to be intentional with what you want out of life. The things you want aren’t just going to appear out of thin air, no matter how much wishing and praying you do. Prayer means nothing without action, so you MUST ensure that you aren’t just sitting there hoping for miraculous deliverance.

Live Free

 

And finally – and this is the most important part – share your plan with someone you truly trust. My friends and I are very good about motivating and encouraging each other on a daily basis. Of course, positive reinforcement is great, but what’s most important is that it makes us accountable to the goals and aspirations we have set. One of my friends had a great idea last year to text each other one small goal we had for the day, and at the end of the day, we either checked in to say we completed it, or the other friend would check in to find out if the goal was met. Life kind of got the better of us and we fell off a bit, but it helped us to feel accomplished even when the days weren’t going the way we wanted. It is essential for you to connect and engage with like-minded people, because negativity is a poison that will hinder you from your progress.

Waterfall

It’s so easy to blame others for the lack in our lives, but no one is responsible for you but you. You are the only person who has ultimate control over your progression and your destiny. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is to stop the blame game, and to accept responsibility, whether good or bad, for the choices I’ve made in my life. When you begin to see the light in every dark place, you gain power and understanding in reaching your ultimate purpose. Like Steve said, sometimes you’ll make that jump and the parachute won’t deploy immediately, but sometimes trying is better than not trying and never knowing how strong that parachute could have been.

 

You’re Really Not Missing Anything

The other day, while aimlessly checking my FaceBook, Instagram, Twitter, and [insert social media app of the moment here], I had an epiphany. Or something like one. More like a kick in the shins. I didn’t really care what anyone was doing or posting (not in a negative way, because I do care about my friends or family), but I was drawn to the need to feel connected to something, anything. It seems that I, like many young people in my generation, suffer from extreme bouts of the fear of “missing out” and “being alone with yourself”. Obviously, I can’t speak for everyone, but it seems like this has become a huge issue for me. I’m slowing become a boring person, one who gets bored easily, and needs to find some sort of stimulation by living vicariously through the mundane but seemingly more exciting lives of my social media friends. I’m forgetting how to think critically and deeply, how to entertain myself, how to feel okay with being by myself.

Social-Media-Addiction-Shots

Most of us aren’t so young that we can’t remember the times of actual interaction with real live human beings, with no distractions like smartphones to glance down at every five seconds in the middle of a conversation. Remember trying to remember the name of a movie or a place, etc, and you had to like, actual talk each other through it and THINK, instead of Googling it?? And while you were trying to remember that thing, you thought of other things, that possibly made you think of something else, and took the conversation off into a tangent about THAT new thing?? That so rarely happens in my life now, I’m sad to report. I’m trying to think of the last time I had a real-life intellectually stimulating conversation with someone, and I’m blanking out (maybe two weeks ago?). And those times that I do attempt it, because I’m feeling quite thoughtful and pensive that day, people look at me like I take life too seriously. But isn’t the purpose of life to ponder and well, search for the purpose of it?

Prehistoric Googling

I can also recall not being able to wait until I had a few hours to myself, so I could do whatever I wanted, kid and husband free. I would write some poetry or music (or a blog post), or maybe do a little reading, or make something else worthwhile, like being present in the moment. Now, I get a couple of hours, and I’m staring at a phone or iPad screen, scrolling through and “liking” stuff that I actually really don’t like, or playing the evil that is Ruzzle or CandyCrush (I’m soooo ashamed to admit this). I’ve considered deactivating my social media accounts, but I always come up with excuses like, “I live so far away from my friends and family now, this is how they can keep up with us!” (because there are no such things as phones, anymore, right?), or, “I need it for business purposes!” (I really don’t). And so the insanity ensues.

Tyrone Biggums

I honestly don’t have a solution to this issue, but I know it’s one that is starting to have a large impact on my relationships and my creativity. When I can sit on the phone with someone I haven’t spoken to in a while, and I can’t have a conversation that’s longer then ten minutes, that’s a problem to me. And when it takes me a month and a half to write a new blog post because I can’t focus, that’s also a problem. If you’re not experiencing this issue, I commend you. And if you are, I think we may need to start a support group. If you suddenly see me disappear from your friend feed in the near future, know that I haven’t unfriended you or blocked you out of my life. I’m just needing to be focused and blocked in to MY life.

Either Love Me, or Leave Me Alone

Have you ever found yourself spending so much time and energy focused on how other people feel, checking in on them, never realizing that you’ve forgotten to figure out how YOU feel, forgotten to check in with you? It’s so easy to get caught up in being who others want you to be, and you eventually find yourself confused about who you really are. It’s happened to me, and frequently happens to me. I’ve gone through so many changes in my life lately, and it has me feeling like some sort of drifter, hovering on the outskirts of life. I found myself losing sight of what makes me unique, what makes me special to those who love me. Inauthenticity, even if unintentional, can literally un-ground you and make you question everything. You’re spinning in no particular direction, with no buffer or barrier to stop you from doing so.

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In the shower the other day (my best thoughts happen in the shower), I tried to think of the last time I sat and actually spent some time with myself, meditating or just figuring life out. Not surprisingly, I couldn’t come up with anything. When you take time for yourself, you give yourself the space to explore what it means to be you. Conversely, when you fail to do that, you fail to be creative, to be innovative, to exemplify what sets you apart from any other mindless drone. As a result, you start searching for meaning and purpose in things that shouldn’t be remotely important to you. You begin to be formless and spineless, living vicariously through someone else’s personality, their existence.

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So the purpose of today’s post? I suppose there’s no real, clear purpose, aside from me utilizing this medium to express myself (and do all the stuff I just said I don’t have time to do). And I guess, it’s also to give you a nudge and inspire you to do the same. Stop living other people’s dreams, skulking in their shadows, and stop stop stop emulating their lives. If they aren’t happy with you once you actually begin to be yourself, then you’ve succeeded in eliminating any barriers that will hold you back from being who you truly are. Because honestly (in the words of the great philosopher, Jayz), they can “…either love [you], or leave [you] alone. Be you. Be real. Be alive.

Purpose of Life

The Great Revival

So it’s as if someone heard my desperate cries. I complained, I pouted, and thought our city might be hopeless. In my post, “The In-Betweens”, I discussed how there was nothing, nothing to do for us 80s babies in Hartford. In response, a friend of mine created a site, Hartford Soultree, where she listed all the great things that are happening around the city. You’d think this would be enough, but no, I needed MORE. In reality, what I really needed was to look for the great events, instead of waiting for them to come to me. This isn’t a large city, where things to do are right outside of your door. If you really want to see the best the city has to offer, it isn’t always going to be right on Main St. It’s going to be in those tucked away spots…that’s where the fun is going to happen.

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My former classmates have made my search slightly easier, by posting events on Facebook. Last year, I went to a great event in Philly, by the Raw Artists organization, and I kept thinking, man, they should have something like this in Hartford. Well, they do. Next Thursday, October 4th, The Russian Lady will be holding a Raw event, featuring the fabulous ladies of Hartford Prints! You can support the event by buying tickets here. Hartford Prints! Ladies

If you’re looking for fun and cultural events this weekend, you can find it all throughout downtown. iQuilt, a local organization, will be hosting Envisionfest Hartford, a one-day festival reminiscent of the downtown festivals of my youth, like Kid-Riffic. More information on this great event can be found here. And when you’re all cultured out, head on down to the Duck Pin Alley on Farmington Ave for an after party.

Envisionfest Hartford

Andddd, if that isn’t enough, a wonderful organization I’ve discovered, Civic Mind Studio, has brainstormed and came up with an awesome project. Every Sunday, beginning on October 7th (through November 18th) there will be an open air market on Pratt St, which has remained an important part of Hartford’s history, reminding of us the bustling city Hartford used to be. If you like the idea of projects like that, check out the organization’s website…it seems they’re open to your ideas.

Hartford Hodge Podge
Hartford Hodge Podge

I admit, I had almost lost all hope in the place I grew up in, the place I had once fiercely defended against naysayers. Instead of trying to fix the problem, I, like many others, decided it would be easier to ignore it and move on to greener pastures. I am proud of my fellow Hartford men and women who are involved in these projects, who decided that our city was worth saving. I hope the rest of you natives give it another chance too, and help me support what can be the start of a great revival.

The Riverfront

Think Outside the (Chocolate) Box by @A_Double_U

I’ve been complaining about this all day, so it was by sheer chance that the homie @A_Double_U was kind enough to create this soliloquy that expresses my sentiments exactly. Enjoy and check out his blog, Let’s Press Rewind!

Think Outside the (Chocolate) Box

by ANWAR W. on FEBRUARY 14, 2012

If you are like me, you subscribe to the school of thought that thinks you show your love for your significant other through special and random acts of love all throughout the year NOT just on Valentine’s Day (unless Vday can work like a get out of jail free card where I can be a complete asshole all year, go hard on this one day and all of my insensitivity and debauchery will be absolved…no? Didn’t think so).

Generally accepted practice on this day is for lovers to exchange gifts.

“Oh boo, it’s what I always wanted…a heart-shaped ring made of chocolate. It will go with the chocolate covered roses from last year that I loved so much.”

The only thing worse than having a designated day for love is how uncreative people are (see the YouTube clip below for pointers).

My message to all of you wanna-be Cassanovas with your over-priced roses and your reservations at Le Bistro de Naive, try something she WON’T be expecting next time. Better yet, forego Vday and make her feel special the other 364 days of the year (365 in a leap year). Peace.

The In-Betweens

In a previous post, I touted how proud I am of the people my city produces, and that definitely still holds true. However, the other day, a friend and I had a discussion about what our city lacks, which, unfortunately, seems to be a place where people like she and I fit in. Where do we go to have fun, to network, to just meet cool people? Where are all of the cultural events, the musicians, the artists, the motivated, ambitious young people? It seems too often that Friday night comes, and people are doing the same thing: either falling into the same old places that we’re accustomed to, or leaving the area to go to a real city that promises a good time.

In my area, there are two main outlets that provide our weekend entertainment: there is the college strip downtown, where every under age teenager goes to mingle with what they presume to be adults, and the dingy clubs where every one else goes to mean mug and hug the wall. These throw you into one of two categories: aging college student who can’t let go of the frat party, or the aging, well, old person who can’t let go of their thigh-high hoochie boots. If you want to be “classy”, your only other choices are over-priced lounges that play top-40 and house music as you watch people do lines of coke, or the local folk in the “Center” who think dressing up means a North Face jacket and Ugg boots. But what about the rest of us, you know, the in-betweens?

Uggs and Northface

Uggs and a North Face...chic couture

Now, let me digress for a moment. When you’re from my city and the surrounding towns, unless you actually leave the city for college or the like, there is really no desire or drive to seek out something new. You have no problem getting dressed and resorting to one of the standbys discussed above, because frankly, that’s all you know. I admit, I kind of fell into that same trap. I mean, I love my little New England state: we have breweries and decent bars where we can listen to cover bands whose members are 40+, rocking out to fairly decent renditions of “Living on the Edge”. If I want to hear my beloved hip-hop music, I could go to the seedy club downtown, where I was almost always guaranteed extra entertainment by the oft-occuring street fight after the club scene let out (which usually was brought on by a bump or accidental shove on the dance-floor). It wasn’t until these past few months, where I spent time in “real” cities hanging out, like Philly, D.C., and NYC, that I realized what I was really missing.

Lines of coke

I went to an art show in Philly where one of my boys was showcasing some of his work, and when I walked in, my first thought was, wow, I’m at home. I’m around MY people. I stayed in the city overnight, and probably had one of the best nights, and then days, I’ve ever had. The next day gave me time to walk around the city, admiring and taking pictures of the wonderful architecture with my magical iPhone. It was this day that sparked a wave of creativity in me, something that wasn’t as prominent as it would have been had I been back home.The same thing happened when I went back and forth to NYC a little later. As soon as I hit the city, I’m instantly transformed. It’s so true that you feel like a completely different person in the city…like any and everything is possible. My whole mind-set transformed; the cities had turned me out. And then…I went back home.

South 9th Philly

South 9th Street, Philly

Being back home was such a let down. I had not just a party bug in me, but a do-something-fun bug in me. I wanted to find experiences like the art show in Philly in the cool lounge, the clubs in NYC that allowed me to stay up until 10am the next morning without tiring, the feeling of being alive. And I found none. What I did start to find though, were people just like me. People who came to my city from all over the country, to work at the insurance companies or be engineers at our big aerospace company. They always say that the city is ok enough, but never a place they would ever settle down. We’ve had to create our own fun, have our own parties, and as a result, continuously see the same people. And if we want a change, we have to leave to experience a good time. It’s easy for someone not from around here to see all of its faults, but it’s even worse when I harbor the overwhelming urge to just say “screw it” and take my bougie self elsewhere.

As an in-between, I desire a place to dress up, be classy, mingle in a variety of creative crowds. I want my problem to be that I can’t decide whether or not to catch this poetry reading, or this open mic, or this hot party at a classy lounge. There are parts of me that wish the wool hadn’t been removed from my eyes, because now I know what I’m missing. And now that I’ve realized that I’m an in-between, I’m not sure I can ever go back to enjoying the mediocrity that is so prominent in my current surroundings. I’ll either fall victim to the lure of leaving the place I call home, or accept my fate and re-learn how to live in this city as an in-between.

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Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter, @Shonnie_D!

Misconceptions in Relationships By @ISwearIAintHit

Keeping up with my once a week “cornucopia” posts, today’s post has been brought to you by @ISwearIAintHit. Follow him on Twitter (he’s hilarious) and his blog, “State of ConPhliction”. (Graphics brought to you by @TheCultureLP -it’ll be a good look if you follow that account too). We’re catering to the young single folk with this one…I promise we’ll target you old couples soon. Enjoy and leave comments!

“Misconceptions in Relationships” By: @ISwearIAintHit

Posted on January 6, 2012

In today’s society we have a bunch of people who want and require relationships but ultimately don’t know what it takes. Whether it be too much or TV or horrible advice from friends but lawd lawd lawd you people are so misguided. In this blog I will tackle problems that plague this *breaks into song* generation of… not being in love *cut music* #TreykeCare. Seriously though we are a lost generation when it comes to such matters because of such misconceptions that I will tackle in this post. So im back with another one!! LET PAPPY COOK

Ladies: A RELATIONSHIP IS A TWO WAY STREET!!

I’ve come to realize that women have a hard time with this. Women get complacent with a man chasing them and think they don’t have to put in ANY work. Sorry to knock you all off of your high horse but it comes a point in time where the chase stops and its your turn. No man wants to chase a woman who isn’t doing her part. Sure a man is supposed to court a woman from the beginning but there’s a stage in the relationship where it becomes a 50/50 thing. The chase is over you have to show EACH OTHER that you’re worth the future headaches. You think a man is supposed to just make YOU happy while u just chill. Not. Women tend to see this as men getting comfortable. Biggest misconception. We want to see what work you’re willing to put in on your end. So if we see you not doing what you’re supposed to do then that’s when we fall back. Food for thought.

Fellas: SEX DOES NOT MEAN YOURE IN THE CLEARING!!

Fellas believe or not women are JUST LIKE US. They just hide it better. They want sex just as much as we do. Sex doesn’t necessarily mean you locked her down brother. It means she trusts you enough to share that bond with you. They want to test drive the stick before they buy the car as well. So just because she finally let you in there doesn’t mean you’re good. It means you have to go harder. Sex doesn’t define a relationship, it’s part of it. I was always the type to not have sex with a girl I really really dig in fear I may get complacent but truth be told when a woman is a good woman you have to put 100% forth regardless if you guys have done the do or not. Now if it’s a woman who you just wanted to take down then so be it but if not then my brother they are extra critical of you actions once it goes down. Stay on your toes and make that woman happy regardless.

Ladies: JUST CUZ HE DOESN’T @ YOU ON TWITTER or FB DOESN’T MEAN HE DOESN’T LIKE YOU!

There’s this issue that always comes up where a woman feels a man does not like her that much because he doesn’t show her love on a social network. Ladies this is COMPLETELY false. Most men not all most don’t like their business out there on front street. Main reason is if you’re a dude who’s popular or not, some dudes just want your woman just because she’s YOUR WOMAN. Which is one of the biggest headaches to deal with. Men also like to keep their relationships very low to avoid the extraness. Extraness as in once you make your relationship extra public .. the public become an extra in your relationship. Once again it’s another headache we DO NOT want. Of course he’s supposed to claim you and make it known he’s in a relationship but having to @ you and put up pictures of you every so often to make you feel “it’s official” is extremely immature and juvenile. You have a bond in real life, you spend time together. Why does it matter if he doesn’t always hit you up on a social network? You have to be secure in your relationship, it’s the only way its going to work.

Fellas: NOT BEING CREATIVE!!

Man listen… As men we go all out when we find that one at the beginning but once again we tend to stop doing all those cute things that made her fall for us. You know what im talking about: The random I miss you texts, random flowers, going out to eat, movie dates. All of those are things that are supposed to continue into the relationship. Doesn’t matter how long you’ve been together you have to keep your relationship refreshing and new. Its tough I know I know. I’ve had this problem too but google is your best friend. Most of the time it’s not even the extravagant things she wants. It the small things she likes just to reassure her shes appreciated and thought of. If money is as tight, such as mine, you have to be even more creative especially in the winter because it limits outdoor options. If y’all chill in the crib, switch it up light some candles and just cater to your woman. Trust me fellas itll keep your woman.. YOUR WOMAN. You can take that however you want to take that.

Ladies: GOING OUT ALL THE TIME IS NOT OK!!

Ladies just like you we want our quality time. There’s a lot of women who just do too much. You think we want to sit around knowing you at a party and some guy is grinding his pelvis on you all crazy every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday….. NO!  Sorry you made the choice to be in a relationship so act like it. Of course its okay to have your girls night out just like we need to take time to just chill with the fellas but DON’T OVER DO IT. If your man is asking you every weekend to come over and you say no you going to some party. Don’t be surprised if the requests become less frequent and someone else is taking advantage of his free time. Keep your man entertained. Parties last but so long, when 4am hits and the party is letting out and your man don’t want no parts what are you going to do? Think about that

Fellas: VOICING HOW YOU FEEL DOES NOT MAKE YOU SOFT!!

As men we tend to feel as if telling a woman how much we like her makes us soft. It’s the feeling of being vulnerable or looking a certain type of way. Fellas truth be told women LOVE that. Women like to hear it just as much as she likes to feel it. You have to assure woman its okay to tell her “Babe I like the dog sh*t out of you”. Lol maybe not like that but you get the point. Another thing we do is tend to act like we don’t care when she does something wrong. Voice how you feel let her know how you feel about things. That’s the only way she can know what type of man she’s dealing with. It’s okay to feel a type of way. We’re human not robots. Holding stuff in only makes you dislike the woman you’re dealing with. So much can get accomplished when you communicate with your lady constantly on feelings. Grow up man. The drake jokes probably scare you but trust a real woman appreciates these types of things. Get your drake on in her inbox if she laughs at you she’s just some immature chick who wants to be treated wrong. Let her go.

These are very very few misconceptions but these are some of the BIGGEST problems in relationships nowadays. Everyone is too cool to be in love. Stop the madness. You will be lonely FOREVER. Forget the masses and the twitter guru beliefs. Live your life for you. Your relationship is yours. Stop going to outside people for advice when you can ask the person you’re dealing with. When it comes to communication whats the need for advice? Everyone is different so if that person doesn’t know who he/she truly is they can’t help you. Good Luck with this cuffing season!!!

Also thanks for the support on the blog (http://conphlict3.blogspot.com) so far im at 2000+ views a post the love is much appreciate please keep passing the word on to your friends. Support me I support you.

I recently put out my first comedy skit with our entertainment group.@LamarKCheston @DionSulemen @NickyCharles #LetsWorkEnt. The video is at 1400+ views!! Once again thank you for the support. If you haven’t seen it yet —>

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