Inspiration — dAHI (Short Doc)

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Diana and I are happy to announce that we will be mentoring 3 fifth grade students from Northgate Elementary school this spring! We will not only assist these students as mentors but we are also committed to helping them financially make it to Washington DC this May 31, 2014! While in DC they will have the opportunity to tour the entire city where they will see monuments and learn the history of our nation. It is our task in the next 2 months to raise $600 in total and we need your support!

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.

Comfort is the enemy of dream chasing (Written by AmbassadorNique)

Its been awhile but I’ve been vlogging and journalist.. here’s a blog!

Japan countdown: 14 Days!

Okay so I had this long post written in detail but I’ll give you the short story. Last night I re-watched my old DomoVlogs from when I lived in Japan (circa 2010), how they were maybe to honest, ignorant and immature. This led me to listening to old songs I made back in the day. Hearing how unpolished ignorant about happiness, money, love and life was a bit too real. While I still have a lot of growing up to do, I am not ashamed of past thoughts, but more importantly today I want to write about comfort.

Comfort is something I feel like most people aspire to achieve. Like success, comfort is relative and someone’s ceiling is another person’s floor. We were sold the dream that if we go to college and cross the finish line we would receive a piece of paper, a decent job at the least and be able to live comfortably. These were the bare minimums. I cannot say that this is not true, because with some help from my family, I was able to make this happen after a year or two. However, recently comfort has become my worst enemy.

If you have been following me you know my 3 goals this year are Good health, education and better financial decisions. Comfort costs a lot of money and can be time consuming. Its something that we strive for but once I figured out that settling down, buying a house, getting married, and having kids wasn’t the life for me, life had to be re-evaluated. Not that there is anything wrong with that life, its just not for me. I always wanted the freedom to express myself, and share my art with whomever would watch/listen. Aspiring for comfort also meant doing things I did not want to, and looking for acceptance from people that don’t necessarily matter. We find comfort in the things we buy, nice clothes, cars, art, furniture, acceptance etc. Not understanding to maintain this comfort we will dig us deeper and deeper into a life that we do not control. Rather a life that is controlled by our income, and outsiders.

From what I understand most Americans have the ability to sign a promissory note to get a loan for college, can finish undergrad, sign up for more loans go to graduate school, and make a living working somewhere that will pay them a decent if not good salary that will allow them to payback their loans with interest, put a down payment on a house, a car some nice toys to live…. Comfortable. I get it, people just want to be happy and by no means do I look down on these people, because I too at one time or another wanted to be these people. Now… nothing scares me more than becoming one of these people. I know for a fact this was not, and is not MY dream.

I HOPE I HAVN’T LOST YOU!

I know I just painted a really black and white picture. Everyone’s wants something different and I do my best not to judge. Furthermore by no means do I want to seem hypocritical when I apply to graduate school next year. I was like most people who graduated college in this race to change the world, get paid for it to buy toys and gain “success”. What is success if you are not doing what it is you want to be doing? “Victory to me is when you spend your time right…” Success is having the freedom and power to do what we want to do with your time. Vanity will not get me closer to that, a student loan will not get me closer to that, and unless it’s get a degree I want even a Masters degree will not get me closer to Freedom! To me life is about experiences and the more comfortable I live, the less life I will experience. There are those who would disagree, and would argue children are the greatest gift in life, and money will afford you those life experiences, but personally for me right here right now at 26… hard work, opportunity and artistic freedom have provided me the greatest experiences I’ve had thus far.

SOLUTION!

I made a vow to never complain without coming up with a potential solution. My solution is to continue to scale down my life, continue to be realistic with myself about what it is I need to do. Money is not everything, but it IS important. Also important is knowing your worth (but that’s a completely different discussion altogether). Saving money is even more important. Most of the people I grew up around didn’t inherit anything with any sort of monetary value. Some of them were lucky enough to inherited culture, traditions and family heirlooms. But the solution for me is to create that tradition, create that culture. I hope my road to Fuji inspires my future children, nieces and nephews, and their children to carry on tradition to go climb Mt. Fuji like my father did in 1988/’89. In my opinion the best way to hold myself accountable to creating my art and staying on my path of creativity, education, good health and better financial responsibility  is to avoid living comfortable. Comfort is the enemy of dream chasing.

Stay focused stay hungry,

Domonique Meeks
AmbassadorNique Productions

Its Been A Long Time… (Written By AmbassadorNique)

Sorry it’s been so long since my last check in, Here is a pretty lengthy update starting from where we left off.

A few weeks ago I sat bored at work with not much to do wondering if I should share this with my supervisors that I did not have enough work. To make a long story short, I told them and I’ve been slammed ever since! HAAAAA! Not really, but it has been quite busy with the start of a brand new quarter here. I am glad I shared this information as well because I am still learning so much. You can only get so far twiddling your thumbs most of the day. Unfortunately this means I do not have the luxury of time to blog like I use to. However, in my quest to obtain a raise I must show that I am worth every dime. I am learning how to manage UP and doing everything I can to take full advantage of this experience!

Life’s been great! I honestly have nothing to complain about. I took the GREs, I didn’t rock its socks off or anything, but it’s over! And I don’t want to talk about it anymore….. I am actually currently working on the mid-career Master’s program that I would love to start this September. The deadline is May 1st and the only thing holding me back is the fact that I finished my undergraduate degree in 2009 (which means I do not have 5 years of work experience) and of course my GRE scores (I said we will not talk about it…). Nevertheless I will apply anyway. Another thing that may hold me back is getting my letters of recommendation. As we all know this processes isn’t always the easiest. I am definitely applying with the intentions to succeed the first time around, but if this does not go as planned I will definitely be applying again this February for Fall 2014. WISH ME LUCK!

Other than that, I’ve been doing well. I have found time to run outside. I’ve come to the conclusion with the arrival of spring and summer there will be a lot more bbq’s, get together, hang outs, and events. I plan to do my best to stay active and socially conscience with what’s going on in Seattle, as well as support good causes. In doing this, it is a priority that I keep a well-trained body for my Fuji hike.

Speaking of Fuji, “DOMOVLOG: ROAD TO FUJI” Yeah? Well its coming soon.

I recently had a short talk with a friend from college about finances. She was listening to the Dave Ramsey podcast (Which I had no idea existed) and a man called in and said he thought the show was fake. He said there was no way people were paying their debts off in such little time making less than he did. She said Dave just laughed at him and explained that these people were not living lavish lifestyles getting rid of debt, but they were sacrificing everything that it took to do so. I thought it was great motivation to think about all the money wasted. I have been doing just okay with finances lately. My credit cards are still paid off, but I’ve been relaxing a bit more. Making time for friends and supporting causes can cost a few pennies here and there that add up. I really need to do better about cooking and making menu’s and bringing enough food to keep me full to lunch. Nevertheless my goals are going and I am a getting closer to where I want to be.

So much to talk about. I will do my best to make end this soon. I finished A Different Mirror: The Mult-cultural America by Richard Takaki. It was definitely a great book that has me thinking about the world through a differently. We are all connected, and its foolish of us to think that we are not. In America it is possible for us to inspire one another. I speak of race issues in a different tone. Every race has overcame a struggle, and most still have one. The Japanese marched along side Mexicans fighting for labor rights and Jewish people funded MLKs Christian Leadership conference. Knowing this, it’s hard to be small minded. I personally cannot let the color of my skin dictate what I can and cannot do.

Side Note** I will come back to this later. I’ve recently been talking to my girlfriend about how it bothers me when people say I am a black person that “wants to be” or “acts” Asian. Yes admittedly I have a lot of Asian friend, but I also have a lot of Latino/a friends, and black friends and some Native and white friends too. I guess it makes me mad because I take so much pride in the fact that I not only can speak intellectually about my own race, but I’ve also gone out of my way to learn about cultures of other people.

Anyway off my soap box! Speaking of Asian, this is a great time to mention I’ve just started reading Eddie Huang’s book Fresh Off the Boat. I’ll let you all know how that goes later.

I read a great short blog post from my friend Kim about being grateful for our privileges.  Interesting enough I was talking to D about the same thing over the weekend as we watched Argo. We spoke about how crazy it is that we were born in such privilege to not have to deal with so many issues. Also the role of United States in the world of both bully and aid giver. The lines can be blurred so quickly.  

Nevertheless, I am very thankful for the many opportunities and resources I have access to on a daily basis. This is something I am doing my best to take full advantage of. I will exercise more, eat healthier, spend wiser, educate myself and read more.

Well there’s work to be done. Until next time stay safe, play smart, and smile.

-Ambassador

Justices slap down federal prosecutor for ‘deeply disappointing’ race remark

“You’ve got African-Americans. You’ve got Hispanics, and you’ve got a bag full of money.  Does that tell you — a light bulb doesn’t go off in your head and say, ‘This is a drug deal?’”

Damn…. really?! Much support to United States Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor for further voicing her opinion about this being unacceptable!

Justices slap down federal prosecutor for ‘deeply disappointing’ race remark

Half Empty or Half Full (Written By AmbassadorNique)

One of the hardest parts of staying disciplined is learning to be okay with being selfish. Its hard enough to tell yourself no to certain things, but its even harder to tell the people you hold close that this time you wont be able to come through for them. This is necessary, this is vital and this must happen if I want to make it where I am going. Either separate yourself from what everyone else is doing or live the life that the average person is living.

I cannot honestly say that this week was one of success. I made poor financial decisions, I was not on top of my health, and I did not stay disciplined to working toward my goal of continuing my education. That’s not to say I failed or neglected these things, however just to be honest I could have gone way harder. Seeing the consequences of my behavior will hopefully inspire me. Since I will not be able to hit the gym Monday due to an early morning Orthodontist appointment the goal is to fit that workout in either Sunday or Monday evening. Create a schedule for GRE study time and a budget to SAVE SAVE SAVE! The tickets to Tokyo are currently way to expensive and I can only hope that a deal will appear between now and this summer.

On a brighter note this week wasn’t all bad. I enjoyed good times with some friends at a free luau, and celebrated a birthday with one of my best friends. I also enjoyed the beautiful Jefferson park this morning and wondered why I was paying for a gym when I had such beautiful park less than a mile away (Seattle rain maybe?). There were also tennis courts! I scheduled an appointment with a woman at the University who I hope will lead me in the right direction as far as applying for my Masters is concerned. I’ve also started reading a really good book that I cannot wait to share, and watched a phenomenal documentary about Japanese internment camps called Toyo’s Camera. Overall I have been happy, cooking, and healthy. In life there will always be up’s and downs. Both will continue to inspire me to reach for the stars and both will continue to teach me new lessons. Depending on what angle you look at it, this weak could be considered somewhat of a success.

Is the glass half empty or is it half full? Live long and prosper my friends.

Ambassador

Time to Level Up (Written By AmbassadorNique)

I’ll keep this one short and sweat since most of my writings tend to ramble on. I’ve done a decent job of staying committed to my goals thus far, but now it’s time to level up and take it to the next level. The plan is to move to a weekly budget, I should be able to save more money now that my credit cards will be paid off. I would like to start waking up and hitting the gym 3 times a week, and taking my home workout more seriously and be more consistent about the workout and going to sleep earlier. I also need to diversify my dishes and more food uploads. My last GRE Prep class is tomorrow morning and a practice exam has been scheduled for March 9th (should probably find a sooner one). Time to TURN UP!

I’ve been doing a better job of genuinely keeping a positive attitude at work and going out of my way to take advantage of networking opportunities. I definitely need to find more productive ways to use my free time.

Relationship wise I’ve recognized my girlfriends love languages are quality time and acts of service, but I need to do a better job of not letting small things lead me off course of building the foundation we are trying to build for ourselves. I am also working hard to continue to work on progressing in my personal maturity and communication. A friend of mine told me the other day “I would hate to date you because you always seem like you are thinking 10 steps ahead of everyone else.” A gift and a curse I suppose, but I will try to be sure to use those 10 steps to aim for happiness. (**sidenote** Valentine’s day is next week… hmmmmmm…..)

My tax return is on its way and will serve as emergency savings only. No big plans to buy anything or take any trips. Paying off debt slowed me down from my savings for Japan but this will start this month! August is getting closer and Mt. Fuji isn’t getting any smaller!

If you’ve made it this far I hope you too are being realistic about your goals. Continue on your marathon, and best of luck to you on accomplishing your aspirations.

-Ambassador 

“Nothing easy is ever memorable” (Written By AmbassadorNique)

Happy Monday everyone! What an eventful weekend filled with some test preparation, spending time having meaningful conversations with some college mentors and buddies, and of course the SUPERBOWL! What a game, right? I’ll leave it at that, great performances, an unexplained power outage, some decent and very awkward commercials, (I’m still a bit angry at the dodge “god created farmers” commercial). Nevertheless it was a fun game to watch.

Quick updates on my goals. My commitment to the gym is still going strong. It might be time to kick it up a notch and turn up! Also going well is my soda boycott and vow to cook. I haven’t been doing so well on implementing more fruits and veggies and just okay on the whole eating a salad everyday thing. My budgeting and money management is going well with a few minor surprises here and there. Nevertheless my three goals to stay healthy, stay educated and practice good money management are progressing.

 “Ultimately it was about letting all of you have that space to delve deeper into your souls and learn what is it that makes you tick and hopefully awaken some social responsibility. That is what the college experience is truly about.”

This is a quote from a conversation via text messaging I was having with one of my mentors from college. These thoughts stood out to me in my quest to move forward and continue my education. I am so thankful to have had the chance to get this out of my college experience. Since graduating I am able to speak to individuals and find out quickly who did and did not have this opportunity. There’s nothing wrong with still not understanding the social dynamics that make up our society, however it is unfortunate to see college educated individuals say and believe very stereotypical and socially ignorant comments. To me its not about always being politically correct as much as it is facts verse opinion. That is why I love the quote, “Misinformation is a weapon of mass distruction.”

From my experience I received an understanding of the importance of standing up for justice, speaking up for one’s self, demanding equality, and collaboration. These are things that seem easy but in the face of adversity in a setting where you may be close to the bottom of the totem pole, speaking out can be difficult. I am thankful to have been armed with knowledge, confidence and experiences to fall back on for guidance whenever I seem to get lost. In time I gained the confidence to speak up to discrimination, even if it was being done by people around me, co-workers, family, or my own friends. More importantly I’ve learned to check my own prejudice and accept and change my own ignorance. I am far from perfect and nobody will ever be. I am a work in progress, and a student of life.

While it is important to be able to take care of ourselves financially to me it is more important that we feed our minds. We learn as much as we can, network, speak and share with others, travel, taste and experience what this world has to offer.

“Nothing easy is ever memorable”

My goal is to climb Mt. Fuji this August and it will not be easy. I was told “nothing easy is ever memorable.” This was another quote from my conversation this weekend. After hearing it I thought  to myself, that was very simple, however; it made so much since. Those few words in a way, puts everything in perspective. Staying disciplined about my finances, my health, and my education are not easy tasks to commit too. Nevertheless I know for sure that the reward will be the greater than the sacrifice. 

Growth and Transition (Written By AmbassadorNique)

Growth and transition

Monday was to the start of a new chapter. Well… At least a new quarter. I was excited about waking up an hour earlier to get into the gym and work hard, sweat, get healthy and start OPORATION SEXY!! Lol… I joke… But seriously it was supposed to be a great day. Unfortunately Sunday night came and my time management and priorities did not agree with my new workout plan. I assumed that because I was leaving earlier there would be less traffic and it would be okay to catch the later bus to the gym (not thinking that an extra 20 min would be added to my commute from my hike from the bus stop to the actual gym). Well if this was my only issue I would have been okay. I ran outside at 6:35 only to watch the bus that comes every 30 minutes pulling off from the stop that I was supposed to be standing at. My alternate route involved me waiting 30 minutes outside for a light rail train and a transfer bus… Where I was dropped off added 20 minutes of extra walking time. Safe to say by the time I got to the gym I was able to register for a locker and shoot a few hoops before it was time to head off to work.  Later that day I found out the Japanese language class I was to start the next day had been canceled due to lack of enrollment.

*Sigh…*

Wednesday… Wednesday there is always Wednesday, I said to myself… Well this time I had a ride to the gym! (YES, nothing would stop me!) Well… Wednesday is today. I still managed to wake up later than expected (probably bc I went to sleep later than expected). I ended up putting on the wrong contacts (or they were just way to dry and I had no solution on me…) and I had to return home to get my glasses shortly after we got on the freeway and I realized that I couldn’t read any of the signs visibly (Don’t worry I wasn’t driving). Meanwhile it was pouring down raining, I managed to lose my headphones somewhere in this process, Seattle traffic was only getting worst and once again… I found myself at the gym with not enough time to change, workout, shower, get dressed and make it to work by 8:30… I shot hoops again… I told myself FINE I will work out in the afternoon like everyone else. I was ready to give up…

While I was shooting hoops I thought to myself… At most you lost 2 workout days, and a pair of headphones… The route of this problem is probably my lack of sleep. The root of that problem is probably my lack of discipline to get in bed on time to get the proper amount of rest that it takes to fully function. If one is to be committed to making any changes, obstacles and setbacks are to be expected.

Moving forward, I will take the lessons I have learned from these past few days and do my best to get to bed on time. I will also become more disciplined person and work even harder to reach my goals. The Japanese class being canceled doesn’t bother me as much because I am scheduled to start an evening GRE course next month. The course is only 2 months so ALL of my focus will go into that (as it should).

There’s always tomorrow! Tonight I will do the best I can to go to sleep a bit earlier and wake up and start the day off with a smile and a dedicated attitude!

-Ambassador