About Me

My photo
Writing, learn-ing, jewelry, deconstructing t-shirts and reality - it's what I do. I live to be inspired, and to inspire.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Simply Speaking

Living simply can seem pretty complicated. It’s quite the oxymoron. How we live seems set up to discourage a simple life and encourage a highly consumeristic lifestyle in which we are constantly thinking of the next thing… the next thing we want to buy, the next thing we want to try, the next thing we need to do to become the person we’re trying to become: usually modeled off of someone we see on t.v.  (Just think about how many people want a family like the Obamas.)

We’re so used to living lives of convenience, conformity and consumerism that the things which would make life simpler like shutting off cable, cooking from scratch, eating healthier, walking or riding a bicycle instead of driving, buying less, reusing more, seem far more difficult than they actually are. Our minds seem primed to reject things that attest to our own self sufficiency. We are so indoctrinated in capitalist thinking that if it is a product or service that can be bought, why do it ourselves?

As a student making my own way through grad school without a college fund, I’ve been forced in many ways to simplify my lifestyle. What I’ve found however is much of the “downgrading” I’ve had to do were really upgrades. My need to eat for less encourages me to cook for myself, find ways to curb food wastage and to appreciate the finer tastes of simpler things. I eat healthier, plan my meals, make better decisions and try new things. I’m certain my fitness is improved because I either have to walk, ride or travel everywhere I go. I am less distracted and more creative without television, and when I do take time to watch something, it will always be something I really want to see that either educates me or enriches my experience. I can’t afford (in more ways than financially) to watch junk.

The amazing thing is I am never bored. All those hours spent on consumeristic behavior, watching television, eating out, shopping for unnecessaries, are being spent learning new things, making definitive steps in pursuing my dreams, making and creating, writing, experiencing other people’s art and thoughts, and sharing mine. I wonder how different my life would have been if I had the luxury and habit of living that consumer lifestyle. How much would I be missing if I spent hours a day in front of a television, or buying unnecessaries or saving time with fast food?

I can’t afford everything I’d like such as plane tickets to visit family and friends, or funding creative or social projects that can make an impact in the world. But I can afford to live simply, fully and enjoy rich experiences. Money is a useful resource and I hope to increase my access to that and other resources as I grow in my career. But learning to live simply has taught me many valuable lessons, such that when I do have access to opportunities and resources, I’m better equipped to use them in ways that truly matter. If you can live and love your life when you have little, perhaps you can invest more in making a positive difference in the world when you have a lot.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Storytime: How I Met Poetry

You never know where you will find life-changing inspiration. This is why it is good to be open to even the most simple, trivial things and follow the crumbs of inspiration wherever they lead. These days my life is all about poetry. In 2012 I’ve written and performed more poetry than in any other period of my life. I’m searching for a publisher for my book and working on to making a life doing what I love. And you wouldn’t believe that what really set me on this path was Saturday morning cartoons.

Yes. That’s right. As a child I met Poetry while watching a particularly riveting episode of Batman in which Catwoman was transformed into a real cat-like creature with fur and whiskers and everything… but I digress. At the end of that episode I heard a line of poetry that would open my world to a life of artistic expression. Here’s the clip:

I was so fascinated by this line of poetry that I stayed around to read the credits and found out it was “The Tyger” by William Blake. The fact that the writer’s name was “Blake” made me even more interested (I was still young so I thought everybody with my last name was family). I kept the information filed away in my mind with the hope of one day searching for the full poem.

It was quite a long time before I was able to find it. The internet was not at my fingertips back then. But I eventually got a hold of the words, and never let them go since.

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire? 

And what shoulder, & what art.
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet? 

What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp? 

When the stars threw down their spears,
And watered heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee? 

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

This beautiful poem, written in 1794 turned me on to a form of expression that has since saved my life and sanity many a time. You can still see the influence in my handle, JadeTygress. Who would have thought it? I had childlike wonder on my side which allowed me to wonder at the crumbs and follow them to inspiration. No one says you have to let go of this childlike wonder as you grow up. Capture inspiration in the every day. You’ll never know where it will lead unless you follow.

Friday, July 27, 2012


Been playing around with some footage from my poetry feature in January of this year. Here's a clip of me performing my poem "Walls".

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The hardest part

Beautiful ruins: Photo by Kelene Blake

by Kelene Blake

The hardest part
is wearing the scars
as stripes of honor
not a shield
engraved into skin/ mind/ heart
evidence of what you’ve overcome
memoirs of the times you’ve bled
reminders you are strong enough
to heal

The hardest part
is leaving the hurt behind
taking the lessons forward
escaping oppression
not as victim
as a graduate
your commencement
rebirth into a brighter you
emerging from confined cocoon

The hardest part
is the uncertainty
embracing it wholeheartedly
not knowing where your feet will take you
after they’ve taken you through hell
there is no unlearning what you’ve seen
there is no un-being who you’ve been
there is only creating
who you will become

The hardest part
is letting go
letting grow
letting feel
letting heal
letting blood
letting love
letting yourself

Friday, May 25, 2012

Summer Schooling

My summer reading list. Ambitious? Perhaps :-).
Summer’s here, and for me summer tends to be my most productive, educational time. I don’t get bored because I use the free time to do all the learning I had been missing out on while I was in school. Sounds weird doesn’t it? Missing out on learning while in school?

But that is what happens, the structure of school, particularly universities, is educationally confining. Our education becomes limited to the subject of the classes we are attending. While we’re in school we are in a learning environment that keeps us focused on projects, exams, grades, leaving us with no time to really explore and expand. All our time is spent on fulfilling a syllabus. And when we’re outside of the classroom and not doing homework we’re so mentally exhausted many of us are more inclined to engage in activities that are mentally relaxing rather than stimulating.

As such, I love to spend my summers learning outside of the classroom and doing projects that are not related to my studies at school. It helps me stay rounded.

Staying rounded is key. I have found that people try to confine you to one field of interest. If you put effort in another area they try to make it “either/or.”

“So what do you really want to do?”

“Oh, well maybe that’s your interest and not this!”

“You lack direction.”

Any of these sound familiar? They’re the kind of statements people make when you show you have varied interests. I spoke more about this in a previous post, Losing Focus.

The most difficult part of maintaining varied interests however is time. This is why when I’m off school my learning shifts into overdrive. My self-education is varied and intuitive. I actively seek out information and learning through a wide variety of avenues, I set challenges and goals for my own creative production (because you also learn by doing) and I don’t let myself get bored or complacent. I’ve found that having wide interests and devoting time and effort into learning “outside” of my field doesn’t take away from my so called career. In fact it helps me to understand what I learn in school within context of a much bigger picture. That’s important. How can you see the big picture if you don’t actually look at other parts of the picture?

Expanding your mind is exactly that, expanding. You don’t expand your mind by getting high. You expand it by learning, experiencing new things, and by discussing ideas to get different perspectives. If your learning ends with your formal education it is time to upgrade. Go out there and expand your mind. Take some control of your education by learning outside of the classroom. Be your own schoolmaster. Your entire world expands when your mind does.

Photo by Kelene Blake

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Wasting Good Life

Many of us spend years waiting for our lives to start: waiting to be old enough, rich enough, waiting to finish school, waiting to get that career before we can really start living. I have news for you. Your life started the day you were born and each day, including today, you’re living it. So if you are looking into some distant future or goal, waiting for something to happen, you’re wasting good life.

I’m not saying planning for the future and working towards goals is a bad thing. In fact having goals and dreams to work towards is an important part of a happy, healthy life. Another important part of a happy, healthy life is being happy and healthy today as well, not just in the future. As you look forward to that future don’t lose sight of the gift of the present. The future is a gamble. Now is the only thing you really have. Right now, are you smiling? Are you in a good place? Are you happy?

There is a concept in psychology called the “locus of control”. If you have an internal locus of control, you believe you influence what happens to you: i.e. you control yourself and your life. If you have an external locus of control it means external forces, your environment, other people, circumstances, aliens, the government, anyone or anything else is controlling what is going on in your life and your responses to them. If you have an internal locus of control you are more likely to take actions that ultimately make your life what you want it to be. If you believe you have control over your health, you eat healthily, exercise, take care of yourself because you “know” it will make a difference. If you have an external locus of control you are less likely to take action because you “know” that no matter what you do it won’t make a difference at the end. You just don’t make the effort.

The reality is life is a little of both; we control ourselves, but there’s a lot outside of us that we don’t control. For example, we don’t control the weather, the economy, the driver in front of us. We don’t control others, as much as we “love” them and would like to get them under control: we cannot. But you know what? We do control our reactions to the world and what happens in it. We do control if we will stay down or get back up, if we stay around or walk away, if we stay positive or despair. And then whatever action we take in the face of that moment begins to shape a the rest of our future.

Do you see how just a simple perspective like this can have a major impact on your life? One small shift in where you place the control of your life can have a massive impact on everything in your world. Instead of waiting for our lives to happen to us, we can start today, right now, while you’re thinking about it, to take control of our “locus.” If we take control of our nows, we can live them the way we want to live our lives, even as we move toward that highly anticipated future. Our lives are a string of nows. It’s important to invest yourself just as much in the present as in the future. Live actively at every moment. Enjoy the journey. When you get to your destination you will realize this journey is the most important part of your achievement. You recreate yourself every day, little by little you either create the person you want to be or the person you were afraid to become. This is the gift of the present.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

"The End of a Drought"

U.K. Djembe drummer who goes by the name “Shadow 9” put out a call for poets and spoken word artists to submit nature poems to go with his Naturu Riddem for compilation on a free mixtape.

It looked like a fun thing to do, and since I didn’t have any spoken word poems about nature I took it as a challenge to write one. This was the result.

This was definitely a departure from my usual poetry, but I always enjoy expanding and trying my hand at different things. It is a crucial part of growth and getting better knowledge of oneself. I'm at the tail end of the longest blogging dry-spell I've experienced since I began blogging in 2010. Big changes in my life and routine have left me struggling to find balance. As always, however, poetry and creativity have kept me afloat and I will continue to grow and flourish. As such, "The End of a Drought" is the perfect way for me to end my dry-spell, dancing to a "thousand-step beat".

If you like this poem please be sure to “Like” the video on YouTube and share it with your friends.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Art That Actually Matters

Any brave soul who produces art, and to take it one step further, produces art in lieu of taking a regular stable, 9 to 5 job has quite the dilemma. People often judge them, think that they are just trying to avoid the responsibility of having a real job. But such artists not only have to work against that perception, they also have to face that theirs is a HUGE responsibility. Great art has to be raw honesty & the artist needs to dig deep within herself/himself, dig out their soft mushy parts and show them to the world to achieve that. But even more is the responsibility to make sure that their art matters, that it does more than provide catharsis, that it touches people, maybe even helps people. If in doing something you make yourself vulnerable, then you really better hope it’s worth it.

Especially in times of crises, in times of movement, art can be so much more than aesthetics. When the world has become desensitized to images of violence, war, poverty, starvation, death, art is sometimes the only way to make those images visible again. Art, visual art, poetry, music, mixed media all help us to see the same things with fresh eyes. And when society becomes desensitized to injustice, fresh eyes are exactly what we need. Beauty for beauty’s sake is lovely. But beauty that says something is powerful.

When an artist draws from their personal pain and turns scars into art, they are doing something far more than providing entertainment. When an artist speaks out about the unpleasant realities of this world we live in they are doing more than just making “anarchist rants”. They are making what they do matter. They are chipping away at the world’s desensitization and opening our eyes. Because it’s only when we see what is going on that we are willing to do something about it. You can’t solve a problem you don’t recognize as a problem. You can’t understand other’s experiences unless you feel their experiences.

Art has power. Your words, your doodles, your beats, you… whatever you do… has power. Your weaknesses have power, and sometimes you need to make art from a place of power. You matter. Your art matters. Now show the world.