Happy New Year!
I hope you had a restful and peaceful holiday season! I know that it can be a stressful time, so my prayer for you is that you get to experience true peace and joy, whether as a result of the holidays, or as a respite from it.
I wanted to share with you a thought that I had from my latest vlog up on the channel. This vlog chronicles two gigs I got to take in the month of December. I share it in the vlog, but I came out of one of the performances and I felt this phrase so strongly.
"I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing."
I felt it so strongly, that I clipped out that pat of the vlog and shared it via social media on Instagram and TikTok.
Now, being a few weeks removed, my feeling is the same. I am doing what I'm supposed to do. And there is so much freedom attached to that belief!
This means that music is not just a hobby or an unstable venture that may or may not work out. But rather, it's part of me. Its such an intrinsic part of what God wants me to do, and therefore, I can refocus my efforts in music, not as a thing to just "try out for a little while", but as a permanent fixture in my life.
That’s the power of believing that God has you where you are supposed to be.
What about you? Do you feel you are "where you are supposed to be?"
Old Poem, New Life
I've been writing and performing poetry for about 7 years now, ever since 2015 when my best friend FORCED me to join a writing club.
About 5 years ago, I wrote a poem called PSA 150, partly based on Psalm 150 found in the Bible. I started performing it, and that could have been that, especially since I "retired" from poetry about 4 years ago.
Fast forward to 2020, and I get the itch to perform again. I started writing music, but more importantly, I started writing poetry again.
But in my eagerness to get back onto the stage, I started reviewing and rerunning my old poems and wondered to myself whether or not these pieces had a place in the world now.
Finding New Life in Old WorkMy first show back was an open mic with a really close friend. I pull out some old pieces to perform and it's like MAGIC.
The people listening gave a great reception (much to my surprise) and gave the encouragement needed to not only reuse and reimagine old pieces, but to continue writing new ones.
Your story....your expertise....your testimony is important. And you may feel tired of resharing the same thing over and over again. But evey audience is a new opportunity to make a connection. If you are an artist like i am, continue sharing your work! And if you are in another field, don't be afraid of sharing your story to a new group of people. Or even an old group. You never know how the words or the art will hit this time around.
What about you? Do you have any stories of sharing old work to new audiences? How did they react? Let me know?
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Is It Worth It?
As the great philosopher and theologian, Melissa Arnette Elliot, states, "Is it worth it? Let me work it."
Now that my joke is out the way, I recently got a chance to perform at a poetry show in midtown Manhattan.
A few months ago, I got approached by a show booker. I've been consistently looking for performance opportunities throughout NYC to perform.
Perfect right? Well at the time, I thought so.
Here's the reality of the performance day.
How can you tell if its worth it?
The worst part of asking that question is when depression piles on top of it. It makes it so easy to be cynical and pessimistic.
I've been working on combating this by critically thinking about pros and cons. Critically asking "is it worth it?"
Here's the reality
I'm working to critically think beyond my feelings about whether things are "worth it." God has presented so many opportunities for us and I'm lucky that I get the chance to see what he's doing, depression or not.
What about you? What makes taking action "worth it" for you?
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Let's be honest together!
A Single Moment
A single moment. That's all it takes to transform a concert into an experience.
I LOVE live music for that reason. Live music is filled with these moments of connection and uniqueness. I have two I'd love to share with you.
This was a moment from a concert headlined by my favourite current artist, Ben Abraham. I love this moment simple because the room was filled with people singing and feeling along with him, which you can tell from the clip. It elevated the moment from just "nice" to "damn this is once in a lifetime!"
The video doesn't do it justice!
Back in April, I got the chance to perform at The Delancey in NYC. This was my first time performing a full hour and honestly, that is a milestone in and of itself!
The single best moment from the show was actually the ending. I closed out the show with a mashup of Kids Show Songs (is mashup the right word if its only 2 of them???...) from Arthur and Out of the Box. I was really excited to only do Arthurs Theme as a closer, but I also happened to have some friends from work who know that at the end of the day, I always sing the Goodbye Song from Out of the Box with my students, so I had to slip it in!
Do you have a single moment from a concert that still sticks with you?
I'd love to hear! Let me know (I talk back)!!
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I've been a performer for as long as I can remember. I truly love the experience of getting to connect with you through music and poetry.
It can be a challenging road to walk.
I've been reflecting recently on the question of "why am I an artist?"
My urge is to say something poetic like "because that's where I am the most free," or "I truly feel like an expert when i am performing," and sometimes even "I love the spotlight."
All partially true statements. But not FULLY.
So why am I an artist?
I love the opportunity to connect with people like you and find the commonalities in our story.
No. My story is not a cookie cutter tale. And no, there is no one who has the same combination of joys, sorrows, and experiences as you. However I know that there are INTERSECTIONS that connect us.
I remember recently I was at a performance and i got to talking to one of the photographers there. We got to chatting and I told him that I write because I want to bring mental health awareness to those who connect with my story. Immediately, I could see a sharp reaction from him and he said to me "I feel like this was God telling me to take better care of myself. I've been thinking about it a lot.
Remember your why!
That sentence is what keeps me writing and performing, even when the weeks roll together and the performances run dry.
My why is the boy who thinks he is too sensitive, or the Christian who thinks they aren't faith filled enough.
My why is the kid i was 10 years ago, and the kid I will have in the future.
My why is the feeling of freedom that happens when the music starts.
My why is sharing that freedom with you.
My why is the moment you feel something.
My why is the moment you can say "I feel that too."
YOU are my favourite part of being an artist.
So here is to the INTERSECTIONS.
Thank you for CROSSING PATHS with me!
(Did you see what I did there?)
Honestly, why is this such a big deal?
Its just some guy cleaning a bedroom turned music studio. Where is the hook? What's the actual story?
The story is this.
The story is every day when my body proved too much to take care of
The story is every night when my space turned to landfill
The story is how depression transforms not just a body but everything around it.
Depression is a big bang.
It is a bomb set alight in this corpse of a body made into fighter jet
And this room be my testing ground
What is a room
If it is not just practice for how to destroy
And what I mean is
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
It's a new year! And with a new year comes the inevitable "new year's resolutions."
I personally HATE resolutions because there's no accountability and there's no "endpoint." But a GOAL has a different purpose and is WAY more effective. A goal is ACHIEVABLE, and I'm all about making clear decisions!
A goal I met last year was releasing my audio project, "3 Poems, Op. 1" on Soundcloud and Bandcamp!
I have high functioning depression
I wake up at 5 am everyday to go to work. I love my job, but at the same time, its a struggle.
Because for me, at work there is no real down time. We get some free time, but best believe if you aren't working during those periods, you're probably going to be missing something on your ever growing to-do list.
Which means I are "on" for most of the day. Making decisions, problem solving, scarfing down lunch in 30 minutes or less, the day is full.
And this can be difficult.
Because high functioning depression means that I can go to work, put on a smile, and do enough of my job to have people think that I am working at peak efficiency, and I'm not.
High Functioning means that I walk in the building and I have precious little energy to go around, so I go directly to my workspace. I say hi to the bare minimum of people I have to say hi to so I am not seen as rude or disrespectful.
It means fighting the part of my brain that says I need to take a mental health day, but also fighting the part of my brain that says I have enough energy to finish the day so I don't need to take that day.
It means looking at my job and saying "I hate this job" while simultaneously saying "I love this job"
Or "I hate this house"
Or "I hate my body"
Or "I hate my sadness"
Or "I hate myself"
While simultaneously convincing myself of the opposite.
High functioning is an argument
Its my own private civil war where im not sick enough to get help or empathy, but not well enough to survive.
This is not just true for depression, but if you are living with high functioning anything, you have enough executive functioning to perform or operate at a high level. But this doesn't always mean that you are okay.
And this doesn't mean that I am always okay.
And that's okay! I am learning how to be compassionate with myself and give me the space I need. But I am also learning how to believe my symptoms when they occur. Just because today is a good day doesn't mean my depression is cured. Just because you were flexible today doesn't mean anxiety is taking an extended vacation!
Take care of yourself. And lets #BreakStigmasTogether!
for black boys