understanding without language

How do you react when someone doesn’t speak your language? Are you one to become upset or want to know more? I think that language is key to how we function, but it might not always appear in the ways you expect it to.

I am currently on winter break which is always an interesting and frustrating time. I believe that it is frustrating because it is one of the few times when you are forced to have a conversation with yourself. Often when we work, study, or serve, we think about the tasks and deadlines; however, when you are lucky enough to receive or plan a break, you take a break from the noise.

In communication, noise is a distraction which may interrupt the reception of a message. This may include external interruptions (e.g. weather conditions, construction noises, using electronics, etc.) or internal distractions (e.g. physical conditions like hunger or temperature, thoughts, etc.). I believe that language could also be perceived as noise. We send messages across channels hoping that there is little to no noise, so that our message may be received properly. Maybe we become frustrated when there is a language barrier for these reasons.

While on break, my natural instinct is to panic because I am not needed nor are there urgent demands. Soon after, I go back to what I know and I spend time in conversation with myself. What I know is that I love to sleep, eat, watch tv, and dance. Additionally, my conversations with myself revolve around ideas. Ideas about the role of art in our lives, how we allow mistreatment of most for the satisfaction of few, and my path in this world. In combining my love of physical relaxation and mental puzzle making, I turn to streaming services. I watch a variety of shows and films; however, on breaks I love to balance the reality tv and baking shows with educational media. Documentaries are often included in this longing for more knowledge about artistic lifestyles, power dynamics (or inequity), and my purpose (where I most fit in).

The last documentary that I watched discussed happiness: where we see it and how we use it. I watch everything with subtitles for comfort and context. With the U.S. being a dominant English speaking country, accurate subtitles are hit or miss for other languages. Sometimes there will be preset subtitles to include the English speakers. Other times you just see a note in parentheses to tell you which language the person is speaking, but that is about it. In this happiness documentary, they interview people from various continents which I love. I enjoy this because most films that I watch focus on the U.S., Europe, and Australia. However, this one includes South America, Africa, and Asia.

In the non English speaking countries, interviewees provide their insight on happiness in their native tongue and there are absolutely no captions during those segments. Initially, I was irritated and considered switching to another film, but my curiosity and stubbornness kept me there. As I continued to watch, I became more attentive in my listening and I searched for visual context. Later, I felt ashamed by my response, because I reminded myself that the world doesn’t revolve around me. With most streaming services, available content will depend on your location and demographic. For this reason, I get a lot of content geared toward English speaking U.S. Americans. I was intrigued by this film because I’m not sure I needed to know the language to understand the message.

There is so much to communication outside of verbal or written language. Language barriers are beautiful in that they remind you that there is more to learn and see, though they might raise some uncertainty. Through studying the human body and inflections, you can observe the message. Language is more than an alphabet or character list. Language is seen through non verbal communication like touch or the tilt of the head. I think that language is key to how we function, because we are curious to understand one another and how we relate. However, it might not always appear in the ways we want it to…and that is more than okay.

CJ

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Getting Rid of Toxic People

Drama Free = More Time for Me

Welcome to our final post of the love month! This post is going to cover one of the many ways you need to love yourself. It’s been two months since those crazy #newyearnewme resolutions and one group that we know should have been left in 2017 is “Toxic People.” Below, you’ll find my description of Toxic People and 3 Reasons you should add them to your new 2018 goal!

 

1. The World Revolves Around Me.

Not only are these individuals self-centered they are extremely self conscious. A Toxic Person will be quick to assess the environment or situation and consider how it benefits them. In everything they do, they are subconsciously or consciously making a decision to elevate themselves in some way, shape, or form above everyone else. These situations can rarely be considered fair or honorable. We are talking about the people who egg on drama or chaos at house parties, because a select few people may seem to be having too much fun. Or the people in those Lifetime Movie Network Films who say, “If I can’t have you, no one can!”

Toxic people are the definition of drama and are slick manipulators. These are the people who you could trust with your life and love so intensely that you do not notice how much you’ve changed or separated yourself from joy. In the same light, Toxic People are skilled in changing your attitudes about and view on your life. This is frightening mainly because they do not care for your well being (mentally, physically, emotionally, or spiritually). As previously mentioned, they will always put themselves first and revel in your digression. Here’s why!

2. I’m Insecure, but I’m Having Trouble Processing It.

Toxic People are negative, non-authentic, and charismatic while projecting their insecurities on you. Toxic People are often pessimistic about their situation and hope to place you in a similar world of unfortunate events. Basically, the goal is to not be around people who will try to steal your shine. You should have a community which uplifts you and encourages you to do better.

Toxic People will also bend truths and change significantly according to those surrounding them.The trait that helps them in their toxicity the most is their charisma. It is hard to tell sometimes when you are dealing with a Toxic Person because they seem trustworthy, well intentioned, and loving, when in fact they have another motives. These individuals make you think they are in you’re corner and that they understand you best. These individuals will make you believe that you are crazy, inadequate, and unloved by others. Here are 5 give aways for a Toxic Person!

3. My Red Flags Aren’t Actually Red.

Number One: Bring You Down. Toxic People truly know how to kill your vibe. You ever get yourself all dolled up and ready for an outing and someone comes in to critique every piece of your outfit? You ever get ready to go on the field and dominate, just when a friend comes up to point out the wind, your form, etc.? You ever get all excited about a crush and, instead of asking more questions, someone gives you all the reasons you should set your bar higher…or you don’t deserve a bar at all? Watch out for people who won’t just let you be great and have little comments which bring up doubt constantly within you.

Number Two: Pity Party = Me Out. Toxic People love to talk about miserable situations and horrible people; however, there’s never a call to action or an obvious confrontation to inspire change. They just love to sit in agony. This goes back to the pessimistic view of the world. To your Toxic Friend, everything is stupid and waning…nothing is good. Well, unless it’s them, which leads to number 3.

Number Three: Over Confident. We’re not talking about healthy self-esteem. We are talking about those people who are very loud, confrontational, or intentional about expressing how perfect they are. They overcompensate when they don’t even have to. They talk too much and too loudly. They rest on the extremes of any spectrum. They want to be front and center or in a leadership position (unless they think that’s stuff). They are full of themselves.

Number Four: Not Is Their Favorite Word. These individuals say can’t, won’t, don’t, and not. Earlier when I said they were negative…they don’t know what it means to be positive. They will use negative words toward other people as well, in order to deflate others’ confidence. You ever have a ready good idea and within one sentence your dreams are crushed? You ever try to be spontaneous and they make too much sense (This one was just for fun. Don’t die y’all! But I mean, YOLO.)? You must be careful of those who crush your spirit.

Number Five: Isolation. The biggest red flag is if you have not seen your best friends or family members in a while. You will think that it is because they have changed, but you are the common denominator and your catalyst is that Toxic Person in your life. Because of their charm and need for control, Toxic People will finds to separate from a world of positivity and balance.

Need more reasons to stay away from Toxic People?

  1. You can set an example for others around you about healthy relationships. Hopefully by being more aware of who Toxic People are, we can decrease the likelihood that more people will be victimized. I think that once Toxic People realize that they have little to no power over you they will choose a new tactic. Maybe this will allow others to intervene and get them the help they need.
  2. Drama free means more time for me. The less drama and unnecessary negative energy you have in your life, the better. You can focus on the things that actually matter and make a difference in our world, rather than being caught in hypotheticals or hersay stuff. Also, when things are in order, you can set aside more time for personal development, pleasure, and relaxation.
  3. Most importantly, it is great for your holistic health! Y’all do not understand how amazing it feels to finally rid your life of Toxic People. It is an unspoken weight lifted off of your shoulders. You breathe better, remember to smile, talk to more people, and just think about how great life is. Again, the toxity is so subtle and appears to be coming from a place of love, but once stripped away YOU KNOW THE DIFFERENCE.

In short, identify the Toxic People in your life and create a plan of action to remove them from your everyday life (regardless if they are flesh and blood). If they are impeding on your happiness, health, and peace of mind…your minutes on this Earth could be spent more different. So make your conscious choice.

Best,

Cayla Jae

How to “Hot Button” with Confidence

Whether it’s a Hot Topic or an inconvenience, there are ways to navigate conversations that we don’t want to have. Here’s a start!

Welcome Back! While February is recognized as the love month and celebrated for black history, empathy and appreciation for diversity have been placed on the back-burner. It feels as though there’s this obligation to buy candy, hearts, and red tissue paper. Also, I am often under-impressed with our approach to black history month with the same 10 people being highlighted with little to know call to action. This past year has been the year of great tension causing many people to beat around the bush when it comes to tough conversations.

Below are 4 tips for how to have those tough, hot button conversations peacefully and productively.

First, let’s define hot button/ tough conversations.

Hot Button Topics are subjects which elicit strong emotive responses. Hot Button Topics usually present a spectrum of responses which most people choose an extreme to represent. These are the topics that are not brought up at southern dinner tables or do not make for great work related conversations. Examples of current Hot Button Topics would include religion, abortion, income, immigration, police brutality, guns rights, the 45th, race, etc. As mentioned previously, many of these topics are presented in black and white, yet the grey zone is often left out of the conversation. They grey zone can cause tension within these tough conversations. For example, a biracial or mixed person with pale skin not being considered “black enough” for the African American community. Or those who are politically pro-choice and personally pro-life. In conclusion, when faced with Hot Button conversations, just remember that people will have strong stances on them, but everything exists on a continuum. 

1. The Environment Matters

When entering or hosting tough conversations, you must take location and environment into consideration. By this I mean, are you within a large group, a public or private place, at an event, or in a location that would allow for a healthy conversation between the two of you? When hosting tough conversations it helps to not put the other person “on the spot.” My advice would be to have a one on one, if possible, in a space with little to no noise and poses little threat. Your goal here is to make sure that both parties can be heard, are comfortable, and will not get distracted. You want to be considerate of your surroundings and conscious of what is happening within the space and the other person.

2. Check-In with Your Goal

Before entering a highly tense conversation, it helps to be centered and grounded. Most importantly, you want to enter the conversation from a good place with good intentions. You need to assess your mental and emotional state to have that tough conversation. You must be honest with yourself! Are you calm or secure enough to consider a different point of view? Remember that people have firm stances on Hot Button Topics, because they were presented with a strong case or experience earlier in life. Humans are stubborn. Once we believe something is true, it is difficult to accept a new point of view. Your goal should never be to convert the other person (regardless of your stance). Your ultimate goal is to reach understanding on both sides. Hopefully, through a constructive conversation, the other party will take little pieces of what you said and think about it later. However, the process of being presented with new sound information is uncomfortable. It’ll make them squirm and reevaluate their stance. Helping them to understanding you while you active listen to them is success in itself.

3. Create Space for Conversation

Earlier we spoke about the importance of your physical environment and your personal state of mind. Now we want to discuss what a healthy space for conversation looks like. The number one thing here is a Safe Space: that which is non-judgmental, private, respectful of all views, and familiar. You want to build a relationship and trust with the opposite party, because it’s hard to listen to a stranger. You want the questions to be about the topic and viewpoint, rather than personal lives. For example, when speaking about abortion, I stick to policies, access to information, and the fact that it’s a woman’s decision is she wants to grow a whole human. What I won’t do is ask about their personal experience with abortion, family’s history, or say “what if you were…” All of that would immediately put the other person on defense and stop them from listening to you. Again, because you’re goal is mutual understanding, you want both parties open and receptive of the trading of thoughts.

4. Next Step: Action or Disagree

In the spirit of that last statement, the end of the conversation can be a sort of call to action or agreeing to disagree. You want to bring the conversation full circle with a nice close. You want to leave on good terms. You can either end the conversation with your preference or how you interactive with the topic. You can invite them to another conversation or event for them to give their point of view to others. You can ask them to just think about and consider the points you made. When all else fails, just agree to disagree. Remember your goal wasn’t to change someone’s view point, your goal was to have a healthy, productive conversation about something that people don’t want to talk about. It may take many conversations until they see eye to eye with you, so above all else, be patient.

Let people be who they are and appreciate their unique perspective. It isn’t our place to judge them or hate them for having an opinion. It’s our job to educate the masses and do the best we can to respect all views. If you have additional tips, please leave a comment below!

Best,

Cayla Jae

How to “Online Dating”: From Stranger to Friend to Exclusive

Learn how to transform your relationships (whether romantic or not) in the age of online dating.

Last year, I wrote about reasons someone doesn’t deserve a swipe to the right. Today, I felt the need to highlight those who made it to the final round. Here are 5 tips and tricks to take some stranger’s selfie to someone worth building a future with. Kinda crazy, huh? Well welcome to the 2010s!

  1. Mr./ Mrs. Right

Thanks to centuries of romantic comedies, novels, and story plots, we are desperately searching for our soul mates. There’s this idea that somewhere out there is a person made specifically for you. There’s this concept that someone out there meets all the criteria on your list (and some of us have fairly lengthy lists). Unfortunately, this gets in the way of building friendships and allowing the potential for romance in those relationships.

When it comes to online dating, I entered with the mindset of “what do I need and want”? What’s most important to me is having someone who communicates in a similar way and is open to exploring the world. I also need them to be honest, loyal, and oozing with positive vibes. However, while scrolling through sites, I try not to get distracted by all of my wants (the small details). So after listing your non-negotiable items and needs in a relationship, we must be aware of the deal breakers (ex. stoners, cat lovers, or those who put pineapple on their pizza). So you don’t want to spend all your time checking of items in a box, but you do want to be realistic about who complements you.

2. The Right Fit

Once you have found a person or a couple of people who meet those basic needs, it is time to determine if you “click.” Again, it’s best to avoid our fantasies about romance, such as the foot pop or fireworks after you kiss someone. It’s more about following your gut and asking yourself “could they be a great friend?” Whether you are searching for someone to fill space or be exclusive with, you need to make sure that the two of you can effectively communicate comfortably in your style of communication.

I found my current partner on an online dating app. He was one of the few guys who sent with a unique and interesting message. While I can’t remember what that message was for the life of me, I remember how it made me feel. It made me smile and curious enough to talk with him. Texting for us was simple and enjoyable, because we had similar humor and personalities. While we were revealing deep thoughts and feelings, we were becoming familiar with one another AS FRIENDS. So remember, just take things slow and building a friendship. After building trust as friends, you’ll know if they would complement you well as a partner.

 3. Let’s Get Offline

You know what’s more annoying than receiving hundreds of notifications from strangers? Waiting on Wi-Fi to talk to that one person you can’t wait to receive notifications from. Somewhere in this span of building friendship with this stranger, it is advisable to move offline. If you feel comfortable enough to trade cell phone numbers, do so. If you want to meet them in an open, well trafficked place first, then do that. If things are going well and feel that they might be a compatible friend, then push for some face to face time. There is nothing worse than getting along great via text and not being able to crack a smile in person.

Meeting someone from online will be awkward and strange at first, but just remember that they’re a relatively normal person who is also very nervous. My partner and I had traded numbers because of my busy schedule and agreed to meet for Indian food. His profile noted that he was 6’9″ (yet no typo there) and I am just over 5 feet, so of course that created nerves. I greeted him with an awkward hug and talked about the nerves briefly just to break the ice. We continued conversations similar to our texting streak; however, we talked more about school, aspirations, friends, plans for the year, and of course food.

Having a face to face conversation definitely allowed us to open up more about what we wanted from this relationship. I was fresh out of school and looking for friends in the area to explore the city with. He was of a similar mindset and confessed to not being completely ready for a romantic relationship. Which is understandable! Most of the time, the goal of online dating is friendship rather than marriage. While you do things that would be considered “dates,” but it is also possible to go of “friend dates” which don’t end with kissing or an “I love you.”

4. Open Communication

If you do nothing else, you must develop open communication. Relationship are nothing without some form of consistent and honest communication. As time passes, you will have longer conversations with depth and life gets complicated. Therefore, it’s nice to let your friends know about changes in your life which may affect y’all’s relationship. This is especially important if you are seeing more than one person at the same time. It’s just nice to let others know where your mind and heart are.

My current partner and I talked about everything from work to friends from school and hobbies to future hopes. I often do check ins with my friends about their needs and wants. Sometimes literally saying, “What is it that you need from me as a friend? And what do you want from me?” My partner also discussed the possibility of us dating after about 5-6 months of knowing one another. Although I initially turned the offer down, I did ask him what changed his mind. So we had a full discussion about transitioning from friendship into a romantic relationship. We also discussed what that would look like for us and what would our norms be. In developing and maintaining a strong romantic relationship, vulnerability and transparency a vital for great communication.

5. Open Minded

In maintaining new relationships, you have to allow things the ability to grow in the way they would naturally do so. If things are not working, then it is okay for things to end. Often we encourage a push through it mentality, when in actuality some things and people are not meant to be together. While you may think you complement one another in the beginning, things may change which call for you to reassess your relationship.

For me, I had to be open to the idea of no longer being single. I had been dating myself for the last two years and celebrating my selfish lifestyle. I had been building and loving myself. I acknowledged and celebrated my growth, because I knew where I had come from. I had strengthened my self-esteem, self-worth, and self-talk by cleansing my life of toxic people. Now I was presented with this wonderful guy who was asking for my permission to grow with me. He loves to text just as much as I do, we make fun of each other in good taste, and we rationalize the world in similar ways.

He is skilled, bright, brutally honest, loyal, decently optimistic, and inspirational. He likes to travel and we’ll hopefully be traveling together soon. He is a nerd, morning person, and an old soul. He is hilarious, thoughtful, respectful, and romantic. He complements the Cayla that I have worked hard to build well and challenges me to do better. So I am happy to call him mine and I am optimistic about our future.

 

Alright now I’m done with the sappy love story. There isn’t an formula for finding love on a dating app. You just need to spend time with yourself to know what you need in someone else and find someone who complements you well. Add comments below to continue the conversation!

Best,

Cayla Jae

Why You Don’t Make New Year’s Resolutions

Instead of making a list of quick fixes, let’s reflect on and respond to 2017.

Alright, so you all know what time of the year it is. In the U.S.A, we have entered and are still recovering from the financial hardships following the winter holiday season. Seeing as we are about three days out from 2018, I felt the need to reflect on and respond to 2017.

In January of 2017, I was huddled up under warm blankets on my couch watching Miami’s 2017 New Year celebration, because duh Pitbull. I was sipping lightly on a new bottle of dry, red wine and heading into my last semester of undergrad. I was disappointed by the newly elected president, confused about what my future would be following my graduation, and consumed by my upcoming gallery show. New Year’s Resolutions (NYR) just weren’t enough to cover all that 2016 threw up on me. After seeing what 2017 became, I feel that now is a great time to start setting some goals, but not in the way that you might think.

I’m assuming that this tradition derived from a sense of hope and unlimited possibilities in the future. People want to know that things will get better and improve. People are constantly trying to “fix” themselves and become enough. One of the reasons I think people shouldn’t make NYR based on these things is because they assume it is a quick fix to their problem (no matter how small or big). The difference in my approach to the new year is to reflect and respond.

As I reflect on 2017, I witnesses democracy and justice being challenged at every turn. I witnessed all the isms (racism, classism, sexism, etc.) being exaggerated and polarized. I have never seen so much exposure of problematic ideas and standpoints. These events were not surprising by any means, because I always knew they existed, people just never have been so bold to share it. There have been various natural disasters, courtroom battles, and peaceful protests which painted the way many of us see 2017. In 2017, I achieved various academic achievements, such as presenting my research at conferences, finding my artistic style, and graduating in one of the laude categories. In 2017, I began loving myself and cleansing my life by getting rid of toxic people and habits. In 2017, I traveled, wrote, created, laughed, and grew.

In creating NYR, I respond to 2017 by identifying what I care most about and what my talent is to make things just a little bit better. When some look at and experience trauma, disasters, and negativity, they want a quick fix. I am hearing more often about revolutions. However, what I have come to realize is that most people want social evolution. To me, a revolution is a sudden, quick, burst of violence to make things right. It often leads to confusion, death, struggle, and non-sustainable solutions. In my mind, it is more realistic and peaceful to go about social evolution. By contrast, this would mean a subtle community transformation. A peaceful and productive method of changing social norms for the benefit of the people.

I respond to 2017 by realizing that the main problem in the U.S.A is hegemony and a lack of understanding (or interest in doing so). I care most about people actually knowing their “enemy” before persecuting them. My talent, skill, or contribution is through creating. I make art well. I write well. I enjoy holding conversations about political issues, because our lives are political. I want muted groups and minorities to not just feel heard, but to be listened to by others. Some of you reading this may not see responding to 2017 as political. Maybe you bought too much yarn and did not actually crochet with it. Maybe you entered too many toxic relationships in 2017. Maybe you have started a new family unit in 2017. You’re response to your lived experience in 2017 will be different. But I encourage you to not leave your NYR at the surface level. Don’t just make a list! Respond to your experience in 2017.

For me, I will be focusing on how my art or line of work can serve my community to make some ripples in social evolution. I want to get my 2018 work into a gallery or local coffee shop. I want to do more commission work. I want to committ to dancing on a regular basis again (at least twice a week). I will continue to narrow down my occupational goals. Finally, I will challenge my own outlook on life: to be less impulsive, concerned about negative things that people might think about me, and worried about things that may or may not occur. I want to be more financially self-sufficient by this time next year and I believe that I have a good game plan to get there.

So remember: reflect on 2017, respond to the events of 2017, create a realistic action plan, and start small. Next week (Next YEAR, ha!), I might go into detail about making realistic goals and building good habits. However, for now, be specific and unapologetic about what you want, be sure to measure your progress, be forgiving with time you give yourself to complete something, and take baby steps!

Best,

Cayla Jae

What Time Frame Do You Think In?

You have 24 hours in a day. How much of that time is in the past, present, or future? Is it getting you closer to your end goal?

Sometimes I get distracted by how many different components in life there are to juggle. There are personal battles, immediate obligations, possible opportunities, and the future person you are trying to become. Within each category, we have memories from the past, events occurring in the present, and unwritten narratives of the future. I’ve been pondering the various levels of this over this last month.

In an earlier post, I wrote about setting priorities as far as selecting the right career path to take; however, I think setting priorities is vitally important to this topic. Usually, I see people create a four cornered box in which the X axis is Urgent to Non-Urgent and the Y axis is Important to Non-Important. This exercise is extremely relevant, in that it focuses on improving Time Management skills. Yet, where this doesn’t help me is that I will always continue doing the immediate work (e.g. work assessments this week and setting doctor’s appointments). But I feel more limited in attempting to work toward those Non-Urgent goals which may or may not be super important for the now, but are of interest to me.

So with there only being 24 hours in a day, how much of that time is used reflecting on the past, acting in the present, and planning for the future? Though I have no answer for this, I have always been a person who’s planning for the future. I am always thinking about my next step or my destination, which leads to a number of anxiety, perfectionism, workaholism, and negative self-talk issues. The reason for all of this stress is that I do not take the time to breathe and rest. So I’m torn between being hungry for more and reaching what is “greatness” for me or being grounded in the immediate pressing assignments which ultimately seem like busy work.

I don’t want to stay in my past, because it wasn’t the most pleasant of memories and they’re uneditable. Yet, I take comfort in hovering over memories, because they give me information about the world and its people which help me navigate the present. I would love to say that I am an “in-the-present-moment” kind of person. I say this because it would mean that I give everything my full attention, I come through on my word to follow up with someone after networking, and I enjoy the youngest moment of my life. Yet, I am limited in this enjoyment because of past experiences and I’m always hoping that the future will be better. I feel that I shouldn’t stay in the future because some immediate things are quite important. So I have to think of what’s of higher importance: investing in that which gets me closer to being a stronger version of myself or being efficient and successful now.

I guess the semi-satisfying answer is that you just have to do what’s best for you. However, the focus should be on how all forms of time co-exist. There is a way to let the past inform my present and future without limiting my choices. There is a way to live in the moment while also growing. There is a way to plan for your future with information from the past and small successes in the present. I just have not found my balance yet. My highest priority is happiness which for me comes from creating, moments of solitude, great food, and great sleep. Because I choose me, my job become secondary (maybe tertiary most times) and those who don’t help me advance toward a specific goal aren’t as important. I just want to be comfortable and in a space that inspires me to create. I want to be in a space doing something that matters. Therefore, I constantly switch between time frames.

So this post is less of “advice” and more of a “question.” Which time frame do you think in? What is most important to you? How do you balance all the confusion which is our lived experience?

Best,

Cayla Jae

 

Gap Year: NCRM’s 2017 Freedom Awards

Last week, I got to work backstage at the 2017 Freedom Award Show and I took some notes.

This year marks 50 years since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination in Memphis. Every year the National Civil Rights Museum hosts a Freedom Award Show Gala to acknowledge the hard work of other leaders and performers. About a week ago, I was invited to be apart of the crew backstage and my answer was “what time do I need to be there and what should I wear?”

This post will highlight 5 wow moments that I experienced during the preparation and run of the event.

First, The Orpheum Theatre:

The current structure was originally built in the late 1920s on the corner of Main and Beale Street. Over the years, it has become known as one of the hot spots in the mid-south for the performing arts. It has hosted numerous broad way shows, performers/ entertainer, concerts, and local events here in Memphis. It is huge and the aesthetic is fit for royalty.

Although I had been to a couple of plays and acts there, I’d never been close enough to touch the stage, let alone check out the signatures along the bricks toward the back. The combination of the grand interior design, the clout of how many talented artist graced its stage, and the history of this place was enough to have me fan girl (from the inside of course).

Second, Red Carpet Gala:

Something I had never seen before, which was really cute, the crew had blocked of main street and built a red carpet! Even though it usually gets really chilly in October, that night was warm, clear skies, and great lighting for the glamourous outfits swarming main street. Side Note- I’d also like to mention how much melanin was poppin’ on that red carpet. There was a great mix on people whether of color or non-color, but it was awesome seeing African American men and women in clean suits and breathe taking gowns.

I’ll be honest, while I’m not the best at picking out famous faces, everyone looked like celebrities to me. Right next to the Orpheum, we watched these beautiful people crowd the Halloran Centre for Performing Arts & Education for live music, tasty reception food, and social house drinks. The personal touches really brought out that classic, ageless soul of Memphis that we all know too well in the Bluff City.

Third, A plus list:

So in addition to the talented dance number from New Ballet Ensemble, harmonicist Frederic Yonnet, spoken word artist Ed Mabrey, and the house band directed by Garry Goin, the presenters and honorees added more sparkle to the stage and food for thought to the listeners. The three individuals presented with awards during this event were Reverend Dr. Bernice King, Morris Dees, and Hugh Masekela.

Watching the videos, listening to the speeches, and being in such close proximity to movers and shakers in the civil rights movement left me speechless. It was like being in a room with people who were too cool for school, like I definitely didn’t think that I was awesome enough to be on a first name bases with these people.

My worst moment of word vomit was awkwardly standing next to five Sanitation Workers from the 1968 “I am a Man” rally. Like how do you express in less than 60 seconds how appreciative you are for their sacrifice, bravery, and vulnerability. Many of which would say, don’t thank me because it was the right thing to do. I walk around talking about being about “the cause” and I’m interacting with the people who put “the cause” into words, images, and ideas that (at that time) were dangerous to share. There were many other motivational and influential people backstage-which I regret to say that I was too nervous and not confident enough to ask questions- whom I did not mention here. Some of these people were even familiar with Berea College (my alma mater). It was a great night.

Fourth, Rev. Dr. Bernice King’s Speech:

So you all knew this was coming. You may have listened to recordings or read quotes from her speech, but I’m just going to expand on a point she made that resonated with me. While I did not have time or free hands to write the words down, I repeated it in my head until I could recount it in my own words. Rev. Dr. Bernice King said (and I’m totally paraphrasing) that our responsibility as human beings in this current society is to not leave others in darkness, hate, and ignorance. One of her goals, which she believes is our responsibility, is to be the light in that darkness, love in that hatred, and impart knowledge in ignorance. It is to choose to not leave the table without planting a seed within them.

Regardless of your background or spirituality, this directly complements the Golden Rule: threat others the way you want to be treated. So instead of fighting with fire, tears, sweat, and blood, try laughter, empathy, respect, and love. I think that in the Trump era, some people see current events as brand new; however, none of this has been hidden. People often forget to consider context and assume that those strange occurrences “came out of the blue.” I repeat: This year marks only 50 years since the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 50 years since minorities in the United States of America were desperately and tirelessly demanding for what was right. Those words aren’t even strong enough to communicate the fact that these people were striving for what I think is common sense and humanism…but if college taught me nothing else, it is that common sense just ain’t so common. We see black and white photos and imagine that 50 years ago is so removed from today.

We have allowed ourselves to take those traumatic, tense, and violent events out of context. 50 years ago isn’t old enough to retire. 50 years ago is an aunt, uncle, mother, father, or grandparent. 50 years ago may be half a century, but it is still alive and well in most households today. 50 years ago, in context, is no more than 2 generations from me writing this blog post. These people who are living and breathing within our homes and communities saw those black and white photos in color and experienced that which we have removed ourselves from. So when you see white sheets, mobs, delayed relief efforts, dehumanization of people of color, lack of interest in communities which still do not have clean sources of water, hear the whispers in the wind, feel the chill of an unwelcome place you wandered into, and see something surprising in the news…just remember that it was only 50 years. Just remember that it started well before that. Just remember that our past, present, and future will always be occurring at the same time and nothing just “comes out of the blue.” Ask for the context and none of this will have come as a surprise to you.

Finally, The 1968 Sanitation Workers:

I held the medals presented to the men who said enough was enough. I held the hands of men who wanted better working conditions, higher wages, and union recognition. I saw men who simply wanted better for themselves, their co-workers, and their families. I saw men who were engaged within their communities, fighting for economic and social justice. I met men who probably didn’t think that the medals were necessary because they had added light to darkness and thoughts to a much larger conversation.

Overall, it was a great night. I made some good friends and great networks. I learned that I need to learn more about our history and that there are meaningful conversations happening all around you. I learned this when I was struggling to match faces with names and being invited to this event. This learning matters because I like to think that I know everything sometimes, but now I know another growth area for myself. In light of this learning, I have been sharing this experience with younger students in Memphis through my work at BRIDGES USA, Inc.

Best,

Cayla Jae

Gap Year: 10 Reasons Why I Swipe Left

My last few posts have been kinda serious and I plan to go deeper during the next few weeks. Next week, I’ll let you know how if felt to sit back stage for the National Civil Rights Museum Freedom Awards. For now, let’s have of bit of fun and talk about how horribly confusing life is on online dating apps.

Below, I have listed my top ten reasons for swiping left on any person within my set radius. After graduation, I moved back home, but I lost touch with high school friends. For this reason, I’ve become an expert in the world of online dating apps, in an attempt to find new friends to rediscover my hometown with me.

10 Reasons Why I Swipe Left

  1. I am a woman.

Due to the fact that I’m in the 21 and above club, I prefer a person with a legal ID which allows them to join me for a drink. I also need some who’s mature, respectful, and who will add to the conversation. I want a man. So if your only images highlight some car, that you’re 420 friendly, or something remotely sketchy… Can’t do it. This also includes a stack of money as your first image which leads me to think you are into drug dealing or “hustling”. People with real money don’t have stacks in their profile pictures. Side note: watch out for people who have screen ages 23, look 15, and claim 19.

2. You use every word but “woman”.

Y’all don’t know how often I see people referring to women as garden tools, females, girls, female dogs, and other degrading nicknames or parts to the female anatomy. If you’re crass enough to hypothetically attack me in your bio… I don’t think you could handle my feminist clap backs. Side note: some people actually request that feminist not swipe right for them lol like no problem, Steve.

3. I am greeted by your bare chest.

I don’t care to see how built your chest is (or how much you think it is). I’m just hear to see a clear picture of your face and maybe hobbies that interest you, not your birthday suit. Plus, your skin signals to me that that’s the only thing you’re concerned with. Our texts will literally be about you going to and leaving the gym and maybe even dietary stuff. Side note: If anything else, guys that are looking for women, be sure to get some professional or super nice quality photos of your face. Also, try to avoid using mostly group photos because we don’t want to search guessing who you might be. And so the snap chat filters… Like why? We grown people.

4. Your bio is empty.

I get this part. Most people say that no one looks at your bio anymore and others will note how awkward it is writing one. First of all, bios help me craft my opening message. They also let me know what things we have in common to discuss. Your bio can literally be ” world traveler, art, Latin music, lizards ” and I’d be like cool, “I paint.” Secondly, if I’m on the border of swiping left or right, a good bio will win me over. Whether you spent time on it or not, if it makes me smile, we might match up. Lastly, if a bio is awkward to write, what’s more awkward than putting yourself online asking for friends or friends with benefits or life partners??? Like none of this is traditionally normal, so don’t take yourself seriously, Karen.

5. Speaking of… you’re ready for marriage.

Now I’ve had a hand full of family members meet their current spouses online and are content and happy. However, I’m not in the head space for marriage. I just want someone to dance with at Spectrum or the Rumba Room. I want to go walking in the park on a pretty day. I want to socialize away from the altar. This is not a negative because lots of people are looking for that happy ending. It’s just not me, love. I feel like marriage for me would come from meeting someone in person, leading to friendship, and then romantic stuff.

6. You’re never on the app and want me to follow you on another platform.

Like… WHAT?! This ain’t some free advertisement site for you to get more snap followers! What I look like copying and pasting your username, opening my other app, pasting you in the search bar and waiting to see if we should talk… While I’m swiping on the dating app!? What is this madness? Look, if you ain’t using the dating app, hide ya profile and save us all time. Come on, meet me half way… “LEFT!”

7. My finger slipped, just being honest.

There’s not much to add here. Although most apps are free, undoing a swipe ain’t free. Sometimes I’m in such a groove swiping left that I accidentally go left on someone great and they’re lost to the universe. So you could honestly have been the perfect fit, swiped right on me, and then nothing… Because your photo was surrounded by selfies of ab/ stomachs. And I’m not sure you’re worth the $9.99 commitment to a month free of back swiping… Just saying.

8. I don’t know that I could be in the same photo with you.

This sounds crazy but I actually do think about whether we’d look abnormal in a picture together. I’m also thinking about where your photos are taken. Like could I see myself hiking with him, do I even like mudding, or would I join him in a tattoo parlor? I also think about if you’re physically “my type” because if we clique as friends I want to know if I have to friendzone you or not. I just don’t want to be awkward and loose a foodie buddy. But honestly, I’m always awkward so I want to be prepared if that conversation comes up.

9. You say your an introvert and a homebody, but expect me to solve your hermit lifestyle.

Dude/ dudette, whyyyyy? I get it, I’m introverted and love a good night in, but I’m also on the site cause I want to do more than watch Netflix, sit on the couch, play video games, or take naps. Like I want to do stuff and make memories. And I can’t come into this friendship knowing that you’re awkward in conversations, would rather spend 25/8 playing video games, and you don’t like my energy. Like no. Well you know maybe there are apps for pen pals, but this ain’t it.

10. Your dog wasn’t that cute.

I know that secretly most people post pictures of their pets because most of us on these sites likes animals more than humans… I mean come on. So you gotta make sure that your pup, doggo, kitten, or baby lama is the cutest living thing ever. If not, I gotta swipe left. Real talk, guys, I’ve literally swipe right on people just for the chance to meet there pets and it works. Animals never let you down.

Long story short, online dating is not the fix to find love, but it makes for some interesting stories and unforgettable adventures. I hide my profile often because it’s so distracting, but it’s so cool realizing how many strangers exist that we never cross paths with. My advice go get involved in something outside your house and try your luck by meeting some cutie in real life.

I would love to hear about what makes you swipe left. Leave a comment below of one of your pep peeves.

Best,

Cayla Jae