On Wednesday night, I went to go see the Soweto Gospel Choir with one of my favorite gals, DeeDee (The Sassy Peach). I was first introduced to the choir a year ago and since then, I’ve been in awe of their voices, their spirits, and (of course) their awesome performances. As they weaved their way through African spirituals, Black spirituals, and contemporary songs in Symphony Hall, I just felt happy. I felt blessed to be connected to such a beautiful culture.
The performance was beautiful. Even though I didn’t know the words to 90% of the songs, it didn’t matter at all. Everyone in the hall was captivated by each note and each word. It reminded me that music is a true common denominator. It has the power to connect people from different walks of life in an authentic way. A certain commercial previously ruined Sarah McLaughlin’s “Arms of an Angel,” but the choir restored my love of this song. The video is below is them singing the song at a different performance. SO GOOD.
The Soweto Gospel Choir is an amazing group both on and off the stage. While browsing the program booklet, I learned that they launched Nkosi’s Haven Vukani, a foundation to support HIV/AIDS orphans in South Africa. As they travel the world with their performances, it is clear that they not only carry a connection to their home country, but also a responsibility to it. There were several tributes to Nelson Mandela, summed up with a touching rendition of South Africa’s national anthem.
As we ended the night clapping and singing “Amen,” it was the perfect end to a great show. I definitely filed it away in my memory bank. I wish them much success on the rest of their North American tour and hope to catch another show in the future!
I’ve blogged about the AOL and PBS Makers series before and expressed my genuine appreciation of the videos. Last night, I was digging around in the vault looking for a little inspiration when I came across the following quote from Lady O.
I say, determine for yourself how you are going to serve. And, then lean into that. Lean into that with your whole heart – to serve something greater than yourself.
In the video, Oprah discusses how you can find your significance in the world and the paradigm shift required to make that transition happen. Key takeaway: Determine how you can be significant through service. That, ladies and gentlemen, is why Oprah is Oprah. I can relate to that quote and feel like it speaks directly to my soul!
Hey, folks! Tickets to the Real Women Give Launch breakfast are now on sale. Whoo hoo. For the details, check out the invite below or visit the event page . To keep this event intimate and to allow for attendees to interact and learn from one another, the number of tickets is limited.
Feel free to spread the word. See you in a few weeks!
P.S. Did you miss the announcement? Find out what I’m talking about here.
Good morning from beautiful (and humid) New Orleans! I’m down here for this year’s United States Conference on AIDS and am super geeked for two reasons. First, it is my first work trip. That’s right. I’ve managed to complete the “elusive” task of landing in a job that I’m passionate about. Second, the conference is in New Orleans and I LOVE NEW ORLEANS. The music, the food, the people, the culture… Sigh. I could go on and on. Not only do I plan to get married here but I also wouldn’t mind setting up a part-time residence here later in life.
Enough about my future plans for NOLA. Back to the now. During my time here, I’m looking forward to learning some very useful information that I can apply on the job and with my work with The Red Pump Project. In case you have been living in a bubble, HIV continues to affect people of color at devastating pace so any and all solutions are always needed.
When I’m not at the conference, please know that I will be doing my best to completely pig out on NOLA goodies. I am obsessed with New Orleans cuisine and can always find a Creole/Cajun restaurant no matter what city I’m in.
My first stop when I got in yesterday was Café du Monde for their world-famous beignets. Oh. My. Gawd. They were so so so so good and didn’t last more than seven minutes. All I want to do is stuff my face with them.
As far as my other plans, here’s my NOLA checklist.
Have a cocktail in the courtyard of the W French Quarter. I mean, look at this place.
2. Try a piece of alligator.
3. Complete an early morning jog around the Garden District.
Anything else that I should do while I’m down here? Let me know! I’m taking any and all suggestions. Just leave me a note in the comments or shoot me a quick tweet!
I’m excited to share that I am currently working on a new project called “Real Women Give.” Over the past five years, I’ve met so many women who have a desire to make a difference. We have shared tips for cause efforts, cried over inspirational stories, and built a network to encourage and motivate each other. Then, it hit me. Whether it’s tips on supporting a girlfriend battling breast cancer or how to plan a high-profile charity event, this same sphere of influence should be available to women everywhere on a broader basis.
On October 5th – a week before my 30th birthday – I will make a long-time dream a reality by officially launching Real Women Give at a breakfast event in Chicago. I’m so grateful (and excited) that Diane Latiker, the Founder of Kids off the Block and a recent CNN Hero, will deliver remarks about the difference that just one woman can make when she takes her power and decides to use it for good.
Check back on Monday for more details about the breakfast and how to purchase tickets. As I embark on this new journey, please continue to send your thoughts, prayers, and ideas if you have them
I’m not sure if it’s because I’m getting older or starting to nest, but I’ve decided that I am going to adopt a dog. It’s something that I have been thinking about for a few years now, and I think that now is the time! I’m obsessed with pugs (proof) so my original plan was to buy an adorable pug puppy. But, after talking it over with a few friends, I realized that 1) Puppies are WAY too much work for me and 2) there are so many great shelter dogs that need homes in Chicago.
So, I’ve been doing my research at on the sites below and I even got a chance to experience life with a dog this past weekend. As you can see, I thoroughly enjoyed my precious time dog-sitting Marley. My planned timeline has me finalizing an adoption in mid-October. Have any of you ever adopted a dog before? Do you have any tips to share with a soon-to-be dog mommy?
Lately, I’ve been all about creating lists and mapping out my life. Things can get a little chaotic, and I like to make plans (even if I change them later or never get started on them). The other day, I was thinking of the various volunteer activities that I would like to do one of these days. So, that inspired me to create a “do gooder bucket list.” It may sound odd, but I think it’s a good idea! I’m still in the process of adding things, but here is where I’m at so far.
Does being selfless and doing good work wonders for your well-being? Well, according to a recent article, it does. I can’t verify the science but I can tell you conversely that being selfish makes me feel awful. And, BOY, have I been selfish lately. It usually starts with a desire to self-preserve and then I look up and I feel terrible. Last night, I had a come-to-Jesus (or whoever you choose to reckon with) meeting with myself and was able to clearly link my anxiety, stress, irritability, and overall bummed out-ness to the fact that I had tipped the scales between an outward focus and an inward focus. I stopped really thinking about anyone but Karyn. No volunteering, no blogging, no do-gooding. Just doing me which usually meant that I was doing nothing.
Do you remember my post about the book “29 Gifts” and the author, Cami Walker? That was essentially the premise of the book. She was so focused on herself and in the throes of her own pity party when it was suggested that she give gifts to friends for 29 days. It worked for her, lifting her spirits and reminding her of what was really important in life.
I had entered that space that gives me the willies. I was being “The Selfish Giver.” It felt good at first to be a little self-involved, but that quickly faded. I need balance. I need to be altruistic. Helping others is a reminder that this world is much bigger than me.
Does giving back or volunteering help you balance your moods?
P.S. Need more healthy reasons to give back? Check out this article.
Nine days ago, I took a BIG step towards completing a huge goal of mine. I walked in the 2013 Commencement Ceremony at my alma mater, University of Illinois, in celebration of my almost-completed* Master’s degree in Health Communication. Being down there brought a wide range emotions from joy to periodic sadness. The joy came from being back in Chambana. The sadness was a result of wishing that my Mother could’ve been there with me like she was in 2005 when I received my undergrad degree down there. Throughout all of the various emotions, the most powerful one was pride. I was am so proud of myself for really sticking with this program, even when I wanted to do everything else BUT study or read.
Class of 2013!
Completing my degree was the first thing that I’ve been able to cross off of my 30 Before 30 list and now I’m fired up to keep checking things off! A personal challenge of mine is closing the deal and following through on my brilliant ideas. Part of that has been fear, but that’s behind me. It’s all about moving forward.
With one journey wrapping up, I’m already on the prowl for a new one to begin. That’s the good thing about life. If you wait long enough, there will always be another path to create, another story to write, or another journey to begin. What are you in the process of creating? What would you like to start? There’s no time like the present to make it happen. Trust me. There’s NO greater feeling than completing a challenge.
I’m a living witness.
*Once I complete my capstone research project this summer, my graduate studies will officially be completed.