Happy Thanksgiving!

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“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” Marcel Proust

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” Oprah Winfrey

For more quotes of gratitude, click here: Forbes Quotes

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Lastnight’s Event: “All For The Love of Kids”

Yesterday my friend invited me to the event “All For The Love of Kids”, held in Downtown Los Angeles. It was incredible. The vibe was wonderful. People mingled and ate finger foods as we waited for dinner and the event to begin. We were all there for a greater cause, a cause to raise money for foster children in Los Angeles County and to honor two individuals who have given back tremendously to the foster children of LA. The two honorees were Ms. Tige Charity, from Kids in the Spotlight, and Mr. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, from Skyhook Foundation (and former NBA star — and phenomenal Lakers player).

Not only was the food delicious, but the event itself was packed with excitement. Not a boring moment, which I was grateful for.

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The Impact Art Education in Schools Have on Your Kids

Well Helloooo there!! It’s been a little while since I last wrote a post. But not to fret, ‘cus I’m baaackkk! ;)

So, today, September 14th*, marks the first “official” day of National Arts in Education Week. But I declare all of September National Arts in Education Month! Why? Because the arts are important! And I feel strongly about this topic.

I was that nerd growing up in the public school system who did all of her homework, participated in class and even tutored her older brother and some of her friends. I was the nerd who cried when I was sick, in fear of having to miss school (yes, I was that girl – *chuckles). But I also was a regular kid. A kid who sometimes was too antsy and too hyper to listen attentively to monotone teachers and boring movies for 7-8 hours a day, 5x/week (well 6x/week, if you include Saturday tutoring at Cal State Long Beach). Nevertheless, I needed a break. I needed some excitement. I needed balance.

Arts education gave me that balance.

The harsh reality is: sometimes being in the public school system means one have to deal with bullies, gangs, drugs, overcrowded classes, poverty and an array of other distractions. This is not to say private schools do not have similar issues. I am only giving an account of my experience in public schooling. That being said, arts education provided and currently still provides (for as long as law and state budget-makers will permit), an outlet to students who not only need an escape from monotony, but also students who need an escape from their harsh realities, in and away from school — for example, personal psychological issues (like eating disorders and depression), abuse, gang affiliation, bad neighborhoods etc.

Arts education encourages and damn near forces the participant to use his/her imagination. How, you ask? Well, much, if not all, of the arts require some form of creativity. And in my opinion, creativity comes from seeing something done and using wisdom + our imagination to push the envelope even further. Creativity comes from actual dreams. Its the result of being inspired. And we all know inspiration is all around us, from our environment and life’s events to magazines and museums, inspiration is everywhere and comes in many different forms. Like reading a book, arts education is a swell way to invoke innovation and inspire tomorrow’s leaders.

Still question if arts education is worth your tax dollars?

Why not ask your little ones how they feel about art, dance, music or theatre class? I mean, hey, I’m just a creative person who has always made everything art-related in order to enjoy and appreciate it enough to comprehend and retain the information…

Hey, it makes even more sense now that I further think about it. I was always pushed to be an excellent student and trained to earn good grades. But more often than not, getting that ‘A’ was easier said than done. So I learned to apply what I loved most and excelled in – arts education – to just about every subject in school. Even today, I pull from my days of arts education. I mean, who cares if by playing the violin for 5 years helped developed my auditory skills which enabled me to effortlessly spell tricky words and learn a new language… not to mention is responsible for the countless number of compliments I receive on my excellent, confident posture (to name a few examples ;).

But don’t take my word for it. Ask your kids.

xoxo

*Note: some organizations proclaim National Education Week to be September 7-13

Photo Cred

  • Top Photo: NaeA website

The Pavement Bookworm

Hello CeCe Book LoVeRs.

After scrolling through my homepage on WordPress, I came across 101 Books post on Philani Dladla, a homeless 24-year-old in Johannesburg, South Africa.

For the love of reading, you must listen to this young man give synopses for his books, belonging to a wide range of genres. I believe in his desire and attempt to share books and literacy knowledge with our youth and random spectators. I believe he would make a great reading ambassador for young people.

His story is inspiring, especially considering he fell victim to drugs and managed to recover from his addiction by reading self-help books. As he sits on street corners, he does not sit there with a sign nor does he sit there with an open hand waiting for change. He sits on the corners with a stack of books. He offers book review services to the passers-by. After hearing his reviews, if they become intrigued enough to want to read the book, the passers-by then pay Philani for his book.

He is passionate about reading. And at first glance he does not appear homeless, or at least I didn’t automatically think he was. By the video alone, without reading the article associated with it, I thought he was a young man desiring to share with the camera what reading can do for us and our young.

Enjoy and please share :)

Visit 101 Books here for their article on Philani.

P.S. >> If you’d like to donate to Philani and help sponsor more books for him, contact South African director, Tebogo Malope, who conducted the interview with Philani.

xoxo

“Perfect Imperfections” – Part 1 – Why You Should Stop Trying To Live Up To Perfection

Growing up, boy did I put a lot of unnecessary stress on myself.

Even at a very young age. I’m talking first grade young, so like 6 years old. I remember growing up in Arkansas, one of my parents would take my brothers and I to school. My oldest brother would always get the privilege of getting dropped off first – so not fair!

I felt like I had places to be, things to learn, tests to Ace. How could you do this to me mommy?!

Well, seeing as we were always either barely on time or running late, as a junior high student, my oldest brother being tardy actually meant something. But the way I reacted, each and every morning – you would have thought me being tardy meant the end of the world.

Cognitive of time, I cried my little eyes out. I hated being late. Not only was it just not right, it was embarrassing, I never got to enjoy the play time before the bell rang for class to begin, and worst of all – it knocked me out of the running for having perfect punctuality.

Attendance – now that was an even bigger issue for me. I wasn’t ’bout to miss no days, huney. Sick, tired, chicken pox and all – I demanded to go to school (thankfully didn’t have to worry about the chicken pox scenario, ‘cus I’m sure I would’ve lost that battle). I hated the thought of getting behind. What if I missed an important lesson? What if I missed something amazing that only happens once in a lifetime? What if, (Uh Oh), I missed a key assignment that would have aided in me learning something for an upcoming test, which then would cause me to earn anything below an A+?

Oh, no. I wasn’t having it.

And God forbid I don’t receive the ‘Perfect Attendance’ reward at the end of the school year, among my other honors, I would have a fit. * flashback moment

~ ♥︎ ~

Achieving perfection was something I had naturally always fought for. I wanted to be the best. And to me, the best meant perfect. But as you may know, perfection is merely an illusion of the imagination. What may be perfect to me may be a disaster or mediocre to someone else.Stress Meter Showing  Panic Attack From Stress And Worry

The determination of reaching perfection in all that I did only made me sick, literally. The stress “perfection” caused me over the years, built up inside of me. My stress level was out the roof. I developed bad anxiety. I welcomed thoughts of negativity and self-doubt. Taking on the task of being perfect meant I also took on a persona of being perfect. So what did that mean? That meant I began caring absolutely too much about how I was perceived by others.

Even when I knew I was doing an excellent job, the unknown thoughts of my peers ate away at my confidence, thus making me insecure about not only my abilities but also my decisions. I second-guessed every move and decision I made, asking myself, “Well how would xyz take this? How will that make me seem? Is that the right thing to do? Maybe I need a few other opinions…” I no longer trusted myself to make the right, sound decisions alone.

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Who gets to judge accomplishing perfection? Because if we simply judge perfection for ourselves, will we ever be good enough to stand tall against our own standards? If we judge perfection of different situations, things, outcomes, others, and etc, individually… What makes his standard of perfection any better (or worse) than my standard of perfection?

Absolutely nothing. Our individual thoughts, feelings, experiences, and definitely societal norms, shape our perception of perfection – which (good news!) makes “perfection” totally subjective, thus arguable.

~ ♥︎ ~

stress-free-zone

So, I challenge you today to stop conditioning yourself to achieve “perfect” outcomes from your “perfect” goals. Let the idea of needing to be perfect go. It’s simply unhealthy. And be careful of the thoughts you feed your brain. Just as you protect your money, protect your mind and thoughts. Your mindset is the difference of you being happy or defeated.

Instead, here’s something to feed on: begin to love who you are and believe in yourself and your capabilities. Be OK with those quirky things about yourself that you or others view as different – those traits are your unique perfect imperfections. So stop wasting time telling yourself how you wish you were… or what you wish you had… and instead live in the now and strive for excellence. The difference of striving for excellence as opposed to perfection, you ask? A wholeee lot (chuckles).

Stay tuned for Part 2 of “Perfect Imperfections”   :)

xoxo

Note from Kola – #BringBackOurGirls

Guess what!

I received a letter from my friend Kola! If you would like to read the letter I wrote, you can click here. I came home from school today and my mom handed me her letter. I was so excited I read it right then and there!

My Dear Friend CeCe,

I am so happy to speak to you again. I know it’s been over a month since we last spoke but it’s been scary around here. I was taken with a lot of other girls away from the school. I managed to escaped alone the night I was taken. I was so scared but I kept thinking about my mother and father and brothers and told myself that I mustn’t be afraid. So I became brave – like the ninja we always talk about!! A nice family took me in, fed me, then helped me find my way back to my village. I was so happy to see my family! And my friends and everyone else. But, I learned that a lot of my classmates, who have become my family, did not return. I am sad. So much is going on.. I am scared. Also..I have bad news.  I do not know where Lulo is. No one knows where she is. I couldn’t stop crying for days when I came back. I pray for her and everyone else everyday. I do not know what the future holds but my mommy told me everything will be alright. But I don’t know. ‘Cus if everything will be alright, why did we have to leave our home? I think mommy is looking into moving away from here, she kept asking me and my brothers questions about other places. I miss Lulo, Ce. I miss her soo much. I miss you too! A lot has happened around here. I wish I could just video call you but we aren’t at home anymore… ♥︎u. I’ll be in touch

Kola

If you would like to read more about bringing back our girls, click here and learn more about events and support groups for the movement here.

#BringBackOurGirls. Now.

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The above story is fiction. It was written to keep awareness going about #Bring[ing]BackOurGirls – there is still more work to done. Please do not be blindsided by the Beyonce-JayZ-Solange situation. Let’s get back to finding these girls.

Real Men Don’t Buy Girls.

My friends, our sisters, our girls are still missing. Celebrities, Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore, came together with other celebrities (like Drake, Justin Timberlake, Bradley Cooper and others) to proclaim: REAL MEN DON’T BUY GIRLS.

I hope with celebrity involvement this will not only bring more awareness to the kidnappings but also invoke more participation from people worldwide. We have to find and bring back my friends and as soon as possible.

#BringBackOurGirls

#BringBackOurGirls