#MorningPageByDomo 12.7.16

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If you are reading this, please note that this is a brain dump. Well, now I am thinking out loud, most of this blog started as a brain dump. A place to collect inspiration and leave some disorganized thoughts as I try to know self and the world around me.

I have been spending quite a bit of time lately thinking about connecting the dots. I have not been blogging, not writing and not collecting my thoughts in a significant way. I have however, been creating. In connecting the dots I made a note that I have always been fascinated with migration. I believe this fascination comes from my father, but he is fascinated about a lot of things. How did you and I arrive at this point at this time? I believe in the power of the universe to connect souls in perfect timing for maximum impact.

I believe we can learn a lot when we study patterns and the histories of beings. I’ve tried to get out of my head and comfort zone. I will admit, this challenge is great. As a stubborn millennials who feels as though I am finally finding my bubble to challenge everything I know is difficult. What if everything we were taught was wrong? What if what we assumed was good for us, really was not? I grew up in a country that built a public education system that reaffirmed that our country was the greatest country on earth, yet people who shared my skin color were somehow less than, but I should be grateful because I grew up in this country. Oh yeah, and this has been happening for centuries and still does.

That being said I do not overlook the importance and willingness of my people to survive and innovate. It is because of this, I strive to innovate. Grateful for the perserverance of folks of color in the midst of doubt, the perserverance of  my family tree and the situation I was placed in and my own personal privileges and guidence. For this reason, it is not enough for me to reach back and assist those who follow in my footsteps, however I believe it is important to continue to break down barriers and innovate.

I work on projects that connect community in ways that allow folks to build. That being said the more I work the more I begin to understand that as much as I am about building and innovating, often times folks need time and space to heal. Nevertheless, the work must go on. I am not dismissing the notion that healing  must happen somewhere, sonme how and some way, but many communities do not have the luxury of spending time trying to close damaging wounds. These scars remind me that nothing was easy, nor was it given. Many have sacrificed their lives literally and figuratively, mentally and physically for me to have a seat at the table. Much to be grateful for, much to fight for, and so much work to be done.

Even as I understand all of this, I still understand there is so much more to learn.

-Domo

Writing inspired by the above photo credit to Inye Wokoma

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2015 Manifesto (Written By AmbassadorNique)

Diana and I will travel and see new places and plan our futures together. I will support her in taking care of her family while being supportive in getting her into a completing PA school.

I will continue to grow and work on my health, my passions and my future. I would like to buy a house before I have my first child and settle somewhere on the west coast. I will continue to work on my mental and physical health while eating better and investing in better food. I will drink more water and do the best I can to live as long as possible.
In 2015 I will prioritize going to concealing and exercising. I will continue to see my ND and doing acupuncture.
I will save more money. I will be more disciplined when buying and be less into vanity. I will support the people and things that inspire me with my time and money.
I will also do a better job of being mentored and being a mentor. I also want to be an avid reader and keep up with current events while finding time to find my center through meditation.
I will be a better planner, a better archivist and better at being transparent about my intentions.
I will be better at showing my love to those whom I care for. I will find positivity in moments of stress and love out-loud with my eyes wide open.
I will continue to work on projects and tell the stories of my family and my community and will never let the media tell me who I am or who I should be. I will check myself for prejudice thoughts and behaviors and do my best not to judge anyone and be better in understanding. I will give more.
I will put family and happiness first.

New Orleans to Alexandria, Louisiana (Written By AmbassadorNique)

What is this place? The beautiful, the ugly, the gift, the curse

Since birth Id heard tales about Alexandria. This is where my parents called home. Some memories happy and others not so much..

We were told to be thankful that we did not have to grow up in poverty and were fortunate to live the life we lived. Nevertheless every Saturday regardless how they feel about each other both my parents route for the LSU Tigers and the New Orleans Saints on Sunday’s. Depending on the week you may even smell delicious gumbo coming from the kitchen.

Although My fathers father died When I was just 2 and a half, I’d always known he was very smart and I found out sometime last winter he even attended college in Arkansas where he was raised.

Fast forward years later I am now 27 and a half and have made quite a few
More trips down south to Louisiana

Last year I was able to visit my uncle in Angola for the first time ever, and my brother hosted this thanksgiving in New Orleans.

Just 2 weeks later my lovely girlfriend and I would come back to New Orleans to celebrate her birthday for an entire week.

While we did everything from eat binese and po boys to go on a swamp tour, have lunch with a friend whom we randomly ran into on the flight down, to the French quarters market, burbon street, and the river walk; our 3 hours each way road trip to Alexandria louisiana was by far my favorite part of the trip.

We’d stop in opololusus to buy boudan while discussing life and our future.

The trips purpose was to see my grandmother and interview her about her life, our family, the origins of her moral compass and values and whatever else she’d share

I also wanted to show Diana where my family had started and properly introduce granny to the young woman I love dearly.

We’d get to Alexandria around 1 and Id first meet my fathers oldest sister aunt glen standing in the door way. I’d have to go next door to meet granny at the church where she was assisting them in wrapping up a fundraiser where they’d been selling gumbo all morning. I’d notice folks under what my father refers to as “the tree”.

We’d meet my grandmother in the middle of the crossings of 17th and Reed. She’d point out that this was the same block that she’d been born and raised. She told us stories of how my grandfather moved back with her after she had gotten sick and they’d raise their kids here. She’d point out the four churches in a one block radius, abandon houses and some history of the neighborhood.

Diana and I would later talk to my uncle and look through pictures my grandmother had gotten out for us. I’d also have the opportunity to interview her on camera and ask her about her childhood and upbringing.

On our way back to New Orleans that night I began to think about the importance of community. No matter how much money you have or where you live, our participation in our community can be vital to our survival. My grandmother stays in Alexandria because she feels important to that community.

I am thankful to have her and I am thankful for her acceptance of Diana and our relationship. Love is love.

AmbassadorNique

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August Announcements (Written By AmbassadorNique)

AUGUST ALREADY!

Definitely crazy to actually say that. Summer is almost over and fall is upon us. While it’s gone by fast I have been fortunate enough to have made great memories. Moving forward I have some big stuff coming up! Some parts of my life are coming to an end (working my 9 to 5) and others are just getting started! Without further or due, the updates….

We The People (UPDATE): I’M WORKING! I promise! I also understand that once graduate school starts my life will be shut down for quite some time. As I type this I am waiting for videos to sync in the background. I definitely want to plan an event where I can invite close friends and people that helped sponsor and make this all possible. This month I plan to have everything in place and by September be working on the finishing touches, transitions lighting, sound etc.

Graduate School: Wow this is approaching fast and just around the corner. I am mentally prepping by reading and finding the resources and networks that I will need in order to make it through this journey and be successful. Also I there are a few opportunities I would like to take advantage of as well.

Health: I’ve been working toward eating smarter and doing what I can to put extra steps in my day. I am very excited for my IMA membership and have started to cook more and eat out less.

Finances: I’ve been doing a very poor job of saving money and this is something I definitely want to do better at. I can however say that the money that I have been spending for the most part has been going towards things that I consider an investment to my future. Definitely need to crack open some Dave Ramsey.

Hawaii: Speaking of investments! I will go to Hawaii for 12 days on August 15th! I will visit my grandmother and Aunt on a much needed REAL vacation! I will continue to work on my film, read and EAT! Basically just scratched the last two points out. Just kidding! I will definitely work to continue to hike while I am out there and take a lot of pictures. Free housing, psh can’t past that up! J

Little Dragon: Upon my return I am excited to go see Little Dragon perform live at Showbox Sodo! I love shows and I love to travel!

Digital Story Telling: One of the things I look forward to doing is collecting the digital stories of my peers who do art around the city. I think I will use Premier and an online platform called WEVideo. I will also try to step my photography game up and look for a cool place on campus to shoot some videos.

Japanese: I hope to return to Japan next summer and therefore I am looking for a language partner.

Personal Growth: Some things I am working on personally are consistency in everything I do from everything listed above. I also would like to become better at following up on networks.

Thank you for reading.

AmbassadorNique

 

 

T.O.D.A.Y. – March 26 (Written By AmbassadorNique)

As I continue down this road towards graduate school many scary truths must be confronted through different avenues of self reflection, conversation and personal growth.’Tis is life I suppose.

Today wasn’t as typical as most days, getting up about an hour earlier to make it to a rescheduled barber appointment where I would start my morning with a fresh haircut and good conversation. My barber who I hadn’t seen in about a month told me congrats on my acceptance to graduate school and we proceeded to talk about life, family, sports, and world events. Watching ESPN’s First Take after a debate about excessive celebration, Skip and Stephen tackled and rarely agreed on the issue the NFL Washington Redskins’ refusal to change the teams name. My barber noted, this year in the NFL an N bomb will warrant a 15 yard penalty, yet a team name will not be changed even though legitimate organizations, tribes and American’s have cried foul. I guess money does change everything. Bad for business maybe?

This made me think more about the narratives of Native American’s here in their own land and how the story is told. What happens when we water down cultures and minimize them to the point where we can say we visited a handful of them, left gifts and opened up a foundation so any harm done should be forgiven similar to what Daniel Snyder is currently in the process of doing. Nevertheless my cut was finished, and it was time for work.

A short talk with a co-worker on future plans about work and graduate school led me to understand that I am seeking employment that will assist my growth technologically and mentally. After this discussion I was on my way to lunch with a recently admitted PhD candidate to talk about funding… So I thought.

I’d heard many great things about this woman and was eager to meet her. Although my initial question about how to fund my graduate degree wasn’t directly answered this woman turned my world upside down, picked me apart, broke my down, and picked me up only to put me back together again. It felt like a conversation with my older brother or father poking at all of the holes in my thinking only to remind me of all the work I still needed to do, and the questions left to be answered. She agreed we’d continue to meet, which I am grateful for. While I had been somewhat mentally deflated I still felt I truly enjoyed the conversation. Furthermore I am up for the challenge and can’t wait to show and prove.

After work I met with one of my mentors and a good friend to listen to Teju Cole speak about the American re-release of his book “Everyday Is For The Thief”. His talk was inspiring and left many new thoughts. For example his assertion that the evolution of art as grown-up’s being to intersect all of our passions into one gave my mind a stir. Of speaking honestly about Nigeria he broke down how the country was built on the corruption that served outside entities and so when the locals were finally independent the same traits had trickled all the way down to gate attendants. America was not an exception, too often our savior complex along with two branches of our government being owned by corporations and lobbyist assured that we were just as corrupt he noted. Two things that will stick with me are the need for American’s to understand that we are equal’s to anyone and everyone with whom we deliver aid or assistance too. As human beings we must always remember this. Teju’s quote that he was “tired of being a grateful African” were words to live by. We must speak truth loud and clear if we ever expect change.

Overall today was a long but life is good.

PhotoVoice Eagles With Cameras: “Project on Identity” Who Are We? Session Four

PhotoVoice Eagles With Cameras: “Project on Identity” Who Are We? Session Four

We started off the Wednesday, December 11th session by breaking into groups and discussing what idenitity was and why it was so important to understand it.

Students continued to write about their personal identities.

Diana presented her PhotoVoice collage and spoke about the importance of her family, her career and health as it pertained to who she was.

We’d later go over the scavenger hunt pictures and allow students to speak about the pictures they took.

My favorite part of this session was at then end when Mr. Stowell would connect this project and the importance of knowing your personal identity with the next step the students would be taking in life, middle school. We spoke about the peer pressure and cool factors that most middle school students face, and how it was important that all of them knew who they were as individuals.

With only one more session left I am more than happy with the way this project is panning out.

Stay tuned..

Domonique Meeks
AmbassadorNique Productions
www.AmbassadorNique.com

PREVIOUSLY:

PhotoVoice Eagles With Cameras: “Project on Identity” Who Are We? Session Three

PhotoVoice Eagles With Cameras: “Project on Identity” Who Are We? Session Two

PhotoVoice Eagles With Cameras: “Project on Identity” Who Are We? Session One

My PhotoVoice Project at Northgate Elementary (Starting November 13, 2013)

PhotoVoice Eagles With Cameras: “Project on Identity” Who Are We? Session Three

PhotoVoice Eagles With Cameras: “Project on Identity” Who Are We? Session Three

This past Wednesday, December 4, 2013 we were delighted to have our special guest “J Sqwerl” also known as Jonathan Higuchi from the Internationally known Seattle b-boy collective Massive Monkee’s Crew. He gave a talk about his personal identity and the roles that creativity his family, and the city of Seattle play in shaping his identity. He encouraged students to think outside the box and really dig deep into their own identities to find something unique.

Students took time to free write and turn our session two brainstorms into actual sentences that they will use to create the artist statement portion of their projects. Some students would share their sentence and ideas with the entire class.

We Reviewed how to use the camera’s before heading outside for a mini scavenger hunt. We were able to take advantage of the weather and and allow them time to practice with the camera’s before they head out on their own.

Students really enjoyed the activities and hands on use.

HUGE thank you to Jonathan Higuchi for his time, assistance, and inspirational words. Thank you to Jackie for her assistance and to Diana for her assistance and beautiful Photo’s. Until next time. Eagles With Camera’s.

Domonique Meeks
AmbassadorNique Productions
www.AmbassadorNique.com

PREVIOUSLY:

PhotoVoice Eagles With Cameras: “Project on Identity” Who Are We? Session Two

PhotoVoice Eagles With Cameras: “Project on Identity” Who Are We? Session One

My PhotoVoice Project at Northgate Elementary (Starting November 13, 2013)

Bill Strickland: Rebuilding America, one slide show at a time

Bill Strickland: Rebuilding America, one slide show at a time

I randomly saw this TED talk yesterday on the plane from Orlando and it definitely left me inspired and excited about the adventures and projects that I am working on. BELIEVE! 

New Orleans – Explained… (Where are you from?)

Where are you from? Are you from Seattle?

These questions have always been challenging for me to answer. Depending on the circumstances and how much time I have to explain myself the answer may vary. Well, technically yes at this point I’ve spent most of my life in the Pacific Northwest and now reside in South Seattle (BEACON!). So, yes… for all practical purposes I can say I am from Seattle.

Its interesting the way we ask the “where are you from” questions to certain groups of people expecting different answers. For those who can trace their roots back to a specific place (city or country) outside of the United States, “Where are you from?” demands a completely different answer. While most Asian/Pacific Islanders and Latino’s are expected to hold a pride to what is sometimes foreign lands, in America most African American’s trace their roots to the South of the United States while those of European ancestry aren’t really expected to know, care or understand. (Sidenote: My theory about this is people trace back to where they feel like their family had the most clout… I digress). In short, like most African Americans I trace my roots back to Louisiana and Arkansas because well.. We have no family records or pictures from any of the 52 countries in Africa. 

Another complication is the fact that I was born in the beautiful city of Tokyo, Japan. Unfortunately since my skin is dark this answer to the question “where are you from?” has never been acceptable. How’d this happen? Well my father was in the US Military. Although my parents didn’t exactly grow up in New Orleans is the closest metropolitan city, and its where the football team is! I still have aunts uncles grandparents and cousins all over Louisiana. My siblings would attend universities in New Orleans and we would take family road trips and vacations back “home” growing up. So even though I’ve never “lived” in New Orleans, just as I call Tokyo and Seattle.. New Orleans is home… 

**Tangent** I am a die hard New Orleans Saints fan. 0 and 16 or 13 and 3, I have one team and one team only year in and year out. Being that I’ve been in Seattle so long I never root against the Seahawks, but I don’t call myself a fan. **Done**

After moving from Japan my family moved to Houston, Texas. I was very young and don’t remember much, but I do know that it wasn’t the safest place in America at the time of our arrival. We would live there for less than a year and soon after my siblings and I would move to Louisiana with my grandparents before heading to the Northwest at age 6 in 1993. My father and uncle would travel from Louisiana to Washington with my siblings and I. My Uncle would only stay a few months and I have faint memories of us listening to music together and doing crazy things like eating Ketchup sandwiches.

As life would have it, I wouldn’t see my uncle again after ‘93. We did however keep in touch and he later became one of my greatest inspirations. As life demands more of our time and as I got older we still found time to catch up and keep each other informed, and I do my best to keep him updated on my life changes and share my photo’s with him.

On October 18, 2013 I would take a red eye flight from the Seattle/Tacoma International Airport to Louis Armstrong International (New Orleans, Louisiana). 

**To Be Continued**

Domonique Meeks
AmbassadorNique Productions

Life Hack “Creating Positive Change” (Day 30) LAST ENTRY

1. Write down 3 gratitude’s.

I feel gratitude for being able to complete this challenge! Its something that I will continue in a new form, some how and some way. I am grateful for new friends and new connections, most of all I am grateful that today we will move closer to accomplishing our goals.

2. Journal about 1 positive experience you’ve had over the last 24 hours.

Yesterday was wonderful, my time off to complete my Photo project was approved! I am super excited to share what I will be doing. My friend Courtney came through from San Jose with her partner Mike and we had a great time catching up and kicking it. The night was very low key. Shoutout to my roomies and Tony for also hanging out too!     

3. Exercise: Yes

4. Meditate: No

5. Write one positive email praising or thanking someone in your social support network: Yes

Reflection: 

I really enjoyed this challenge. While I was far from perfect and my consistency wasn’t flawless, the goal was to change the mindset and initial thought process that comes to mind when reflecting on the day. My definition of success is happiness and as long as I can find happiness in every day, than I will always be successful. New challenge coming soon!