Category Archives: Rando Dando

Random finds I find; some funny, some weird

New Beginnings

I know, I know. It’s been a while. Quite a while. Almost 2 years since I’ve made it back on here to post anything. I’ve lost count on the number of drafts I started then stopped, got close to posting then would delete all together. Just didn’t have it in me to write or share online. The internal voice that dissuaded me grew stronger and the excuses mounted. Then as the length of time from my last post grew, the doubt set it in.

But the nagging voice telling me to get back to writing (“just write anything, anything at all”) was louder and more annoying. Because it was my own voice. Not the self doubting voice of my ego, which has it’s own nails-on-chalkboard sound that irritates me, but my own comforting voice telling me that I needed to get back to this to regain my confidence.

I’ll be honest and say that the reason for my withdrawal is so small and silly to me, but the mole hill grew into a mountain with me adding excuse after excuse to not write. It started with a comment from a ‘friend’ posted on here saying that the blog was ‘useless’. I took that one negative comment from someone I thought would be supportive and ran with it. It was like I doubted I’d ever gain any joy, comfort and (even scared to type this out loud) success from this blog. So that negative comment gave me an out. It was my safe victim hood exit strategy. “See, I knew I’d suck at this”, “Well there you go, proof I’m not going anywhere with this blog”. Self fulfilling prophecy.

I had dinner with a girlfriend a few weeks back and when she asked me why I hadn’t written a blog post in so long, I finally came clean and told her that this one negative comment just gutted me. I’d been telling people that I just wasn’t motivated, that I was busy or that I was working on something else. But I don’t know if it was the weight of it all, avoiding the real reason or just missing this creative release which let me open up to her. She was quite frank and asked me why I gave this one comment, from a supposed friend so much power over my happiness.

Silence. I had no answer. Really, I couldn’t explain or excuse it away now. She caught me. Why was I actively stunting my chance to find what makes me happy based on this external factor from someone who wasn’t even in my life? It’s crazy what we allow or disallow ourselves to do based on perception. I perceived that my creative outlet, my work to find my happiness was ‘useless’ because of this person’s judgement. Time truly is a great teacher and since that dinner with my friend, I’ve been able to drum up the courage to put words back on this screen and slowly get back to working on journey.

Maybe it’s the Christmas lights, the longer dark nights, the end of the year that brings out the reflective mood in us all. But let me use this season to shake off that heaviness of doubt and use the upcoming new year to wipe the slate. Give myself the chance to start fresh and wipe away the dust.

Here’s to focusing on the positive, basking in the gains and cultivating our own futures.

French & The Artist Webseries

Came across this new webseries on Twitter and thought I’d give it a few minutes. Before I knew it, I had watched 3 episodes. Clearly I binge watch everything now.

The series is centered around two young ladies, Erin (Artist) and Sarah (French) based in London, UK sharing their day-to-day lives. They are both in the arts and use this series to showcase London’s talent as well as their ongoing personal creative journeys.

It’s shot on a handheld camera and feels like a mix between an intimate vlog and a snap your friend would send you after a fun night out. They’re hilarious, cute and genuine.

 

Toronto Teen With Autism Dances His Way To Ellen

This story had me crying with joy. It is so rare to turn on the news and hear anything that makes you smile, so when I saw this it moved me to write about it.

Sam is a 17-year-old barista at Starbucks who likes to dance as he serves up drinks. A viral video of him busting some moves while making a drink went viral on YouTube. Doesn’t sound like a big deal, right? But what makes Sam’s story unique is that he has autism and despite this perceived deficiency, he is able to do his job and do it with joy. That, to me, is a gift. Not a setback, challenge or obstacle. None of the terms used to describe someone with autism who was told that he would never be employed.

Thankfully that narrow thinking doesn’t exist in everyone and one day Sam met Chris at Camp Thrive, affiliated with Integrated Services for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders (ISAND).  Chris is also a manager at a local Starbucks in Toronto and when Sam told him that his dream was to be a barista, he gave Sam a job. Chris looked past the autism and saw Sam, a young capable man with an aspiration. Not a disorder.

The viral video caught the attention of Ellen DeGeneres and she invited Sam along with Chris to her daytime talk show.  Sam spoke about how dancing at work helps him concentrate and how appreciative he is to Chris. That’s when my eyes got misty. Where so many may have seen a hindrance, Sam found a fun way to help him work. And his boss Chris empowers him by letting him dance away. I applaud Ellen for using her show as a platform to draw attention to the discrimination towards people with disabilities and celebrating Chris and Sam. Seeing how happy he was to be on her show and how moved he was by her gift pushed me over the edge. I couldn’t stop crying as I watched this.

This story really hits home for me. Someone very close to me is autistic and my whole life I’ve seen how small minded people have treated him cruelly and told him he was different. It has impacted his confidence and social skills. It’s a daily struggle to encourage him to try new things, to reassure him that if he can’t succeed today there’s always tomorrow.

I wish there were more people like Chris who look past the disability and reach out a hand to a fellow human. If we all expanded our minds, practiced humility and offered empathy to one another, could you imagine how enriched our lives would be? I hope this story teaches those that are quick to prejudge someone because they may appear or act different, to think twice and open their hearts.

They Finally Discovered Canada

I’ve traveled quite a bit throughout the US and Europe and the differences between the two are as vast as the Atlantic ocean separating them. My favourite difference is the reaction I get from folks when I tell them I’m from Canada. In Europe, folks will actually name off cities they know and have visited. They know Toronto and can share stories of visiting our beautiful city in the summer.

When in the US, I’d often get a surprised look. “Really, wow that’s far!”, said by a New Yorker. “I didn’t know there were black folks up there” was said to me while in Memphis one time. Especially in the early 2000s, I often met folks in the US who had never traveled to Canada let alone met any Canadians. But in my recent trips, things have changed.

In my most recent trips to the US, folks told me directly they love Toronto and can name actual landmarks they’ve visited. What caused this sudden change? What made Canada, more specifically Toronto for my experience, more attractive to our louder than life cousins south of the border?

What got me thinking about this today was an article I read from the New York Times called ‘With The Rise of Justin Trudeau, Canada is Suddenly…Hip?’. The added question mark got me. Because the cold North couldn’t be anything but Labatt drinking hockey players, right? After a while the stereotypes and narrow thinking must get tiring.

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I’m not going to quote too much from that sadly written and hyperbolic article, but to sum up the writer concludes that the prince Justin Trudeau has taken us out of our dark ages and made us all magically cool to the world…something like that.

But to me, what caused the tides to change in the eyes of the US arts media when it comes to us is that we stopped caring. For so long, Canadian artists especially musical acts were expected to emulate their successful American counterparts. And with the rise of Drake, who uses his  awkwardness and eloquence to his advantage giving him a competitive edge, we are now seeing more artists who are abandoning the old scripture and forging their own path. The sounds of The Weeknd, Majid Jordan and producer Wondagurl to name a few are unlike any south of the border and that’s what makes them coveted. And that’s what’s got them looking our way wondering how we ‘all of a sudden got hip’.

Nah fam, we been hip!

 

The Struggle To Keep Writing

There has been a slow and steady movement happening. I’m sure you’ve seen it. Felt small bursts of joy from it. Possibly like me, kept hoping that this change in tide was a foreshadowing of things to come.

I’m talking about the recent celebration of black women excellence. Whether behind the camera, in front of it, on the cover of magazines, at the helm of major movements and/or winning prestigious sports titles. We were gone for a minute but we’re back with the jump off (shout out to Lil Kim).

I’ve written about the absence of our faces on TV and movies and the culture vultures who co-opted elements of black culture in the mainstream media. But you’ve also seen the rise of sisters in the arts and sports recently along with the unashamed celebration of it. The wait had been too long.

Essence magazine’s February 2016 issue is coming out with 3 covers featuring activist Johnetta “Netta” Elzie, TV’s Black-ish actress Yara Shahidi and the film Chi-Raq actress Teyonah Parris. I recently read a great article on xoNECOLE about the writer who wrote that Essence cover story. And as much as seeing those three sisters on the cover was amazing, it’s the story on the woman who wrote it that spoke to me more.

Bené Viera is a journalist who was about to give up writing right before she got this gig. It’s always darkest right before the sun, right? She was tired of the industry but when this opportunity came, although not presented in full form as what it entailed, she took a chance. And like that, what looked like a possibility turned out to be grander than what she imagined.

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As you all have probably seen, I haven’t written here in a while. The struggle to open up my laptop and pour my words onto a screen has been real lately. Folks have asked what is up, what am I working on, etc. And the truth is I don’t know exactly why. Some days I’d rather read, watch a movie, clean my house, meet up with friends. Anything but write. There’s vulnerability in writing. And I guess, I needed to be in the right head space to be there. But when I read these words from Bené I felt compelled to get back to it. Get back in front of that blank screen and unleash what’s inside.

When I was assigned this story I was done with this industry. Done. Looking for jobs in non-profit and looking for jobs in L.A. I was tired of the layoffs. Tired of covering salacious gossip. Tired of the uncertainty. Tired of the funny way in which people move. Tired of writers who think they’re pseudo celebrities. But something told me I could not pass up this opportunity. Including this story, I’ve only written three things this summer. I tell people I’m on Sabbatical. But when the Universe has other plans, the Universe has other plans. ESSENCE was always the dream job. Writing cover stories was always the ultimate goal. Although the “job” part didn’t manifest in the way I envisioned, it did come to fruition…

I say all that to say, keep dream chasing. I mentor a few young writers and I wonder, “Girl, why are you into me? I barely have it figured out.” So I write this for them. They need to know it’s not all glitz and glam. They need to know you will want to quit. They need to know we all experience self-doubt. They need to know there will be some dark days. But they must keep doing the work. People can say whatever the hell they want to say about me, but nobody, not a single soul can say I don’t do the work. No one can say I’m not committed to my craft. I moved to NYC in 2010 without a plan. I lived with my ex in his father’s home. I had no money. No job. Just some degrees and the crazy idea that I wanted to be a writer. Well, mama, I’m a writer. I hope I made you proud…”

This was the push I needed. Whether at my day job, home life or extra curricular I know I put in the work. So although RealDelina.com is still new, I want to see it flourish so I’m going to keep on doing the work!

No matter what we decide to take on, I hope it’s with both our feet in and our heart open wide. Whatever path you take in 2016, be prepared to sweat and enjoy the rewards!