Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Quote Mile Stretch

A few years back, I was invited by the chief shop steward of my local union to attend a shop stewards seminar.  I am a shop steward for the Local 153 division of OPEIU and it was such a great meeting. Not only was it informative, but it was the way that the proctor conducted it that kept me going.

He used a series of quotes to help people to identify with him. Ever since that day, I have fallen in love with quotes. I have never found myself looking for quotes more than I do now. I think that sometimes the intelligent things that people say can have a direct effect on my life. And because they do, I have chosen to add quotes to the flow of this blog to talk about a few things that have recently entered my mind about the state of being and defining life.

While we can define life, can life really be summarized in just a few paragraphs.  I mean think about this, in 31 in a half years of life, a person lives through one billion seconds of breath.  In one billion seconds, there are so many things to have gone through that I would see it as impossible; even in the simple filling out of an application or just putting together a resume that truly points out who you are or what you know.

“There are only a few certainties in life: death, taxes, and change.” – Darren Hardy

I am starting to agree with this quote. As I grow older, I have found that the only thing that has remained constant in my life was my ability to change my mind. I love doing so many things that my heart seems to switch very easily.

Back in 2005, I set a goal for my year that I was going to start dieting and exercising and decided that I was not going to allow anything to stand in my way.  From that moment on, I gave up eating meat and went to the gym seven days a week.  I even got a trainer to help me work out at my local Ballys.

In just three months, I lost fifty pounds and dropped from a size 14 to a size six. It was the most amazing thing I had ever experienced. My peers could not believe my instant success. Not only did I look great, but I felt great to have been able to accomplish something of that enormity.

I enjoyed the idea of working out so much that I had decided I wanted to do something in my future that involved directing people how to work out.  So I decided to change my major from Psychology to Physical Education.  For one, I loved working with youth, enjoyed the idea of education and was really motivated at the idea of working out.

Like Darren Hardy’s quote said, the idea of physical education as a major brought on the death of my previous major of Psychology. Though it had been about seven years since I had been enrolled in a collegiate program to obtain a degree, it had changed my mind and made me want to go back to school again.  And suddenly, I was being taxed over $3000 for enrolling in two classes.  But it was what I wanted to do and so I did it.

“Excellence is a process, not an event.” – Mark Zimmerman

After three months and losing 50 pounds, I should have stuck to what I was doing? The faster you lose it, the faster you gain it back. But as soon as the 50 pounds were eliminated, I stopped doing the exercise and the dieting that had got me there and that was a mistake. 

I lost my ground. I started to lose hope in myself. All the work I had done to get where I was, was for nothing because in a short matter of time, I gained all the weight back. When Mark Zimmerman said excellence is a process, it is true because it was the process of sticking to the plan that got me to the event and once the event happened, the process was eliminated.

I rejoiced in the event as opposed to the process which was more important. My life journey was suddenly changed by my downfall. But how could I have allowed myself to satisfy the skeptics who saw my failure before it even occurred? It was important for me to learn how to find my groove back so instead of letting my gaining the weight back upset me, I found ways to be motivated to find another approach to keep joy flowing in my life; especially since Brad Worthley said, "your smile is your biggest assett."  I couldn't let my shaky ground steal my smile.  

“Be creative and have the tenacity to make lemonade out of sour situations” – John C. Maxwell

 It is true that when you are at the end of your hope, some of the most creative things can come out. I wrote more poems and songs in that short period than I ever had. I started gaining confidence in other areas.

Songwriting seemed to really be calling my name.  I had never felt more inspired to do so.  I started going to this open mic night at Soul Café that kiss FM used to host ever Sunday night and would switch up sometimes doing covers and sometimes doing originals.

I met a few amazing friends there who later on got me into the studio.  With one, we worked on about four songs and with another, we worked on over thirty original tunes. It was then when I decided that I wanted to try producing music on my own.

And so, I started building a studio.  I purchased a little Tascam US 122 soundboard thinking that as a  beginner, I didn’t really need something so sophisticated. I got a Triton LE keyboard with 61 keys and the Sonar Cakewalk software with the hopes that I would be able to produce my own music.

I enjoyed the process of going to my friends’ studios and working together as a team to produce some amazing songs but the experience of sitting at the booth and working on the musical tracks and then laying down the vocals was such a wonderful experience. If you are looking for the perfect keyboard for your studio, check out the  Korg TRITON LE 61 - Key Workstation. It’s a great piece of equipment.

“Visions are God’s ways of communicating things.” – Russell Simmons.

I seen it for myself that when you get a vision, sometimes you cannot just let it go because you might forget it. I remember when I was working in the off-Broadway musical, “Rock-A-My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham,” a friend of mine was a songwriter and whenever a song idea would come to her, she would run to her cell phone to leave herself a message of the exact melody that she thought of. Even if it was during a short three minute break for costume change, she was ready to record the ideas that flowed through her mind. 

Her responsiveness to her own creativity never left my mind. Until today, I follow her mind set so that when I get home I will be able to go and work on that song idea.  I could be standing at the bus stop with ten thousand people waiting for the B49, but when a song idea comes to me, I just start singing and find a way to record a voice note to make sure I won’t forget it. Listen to some of my orginal songs at www.myspace.com/melodiaz

But there are more things that amp my vision for a song; if I hear a great message, I am constantly writing key words that I hear from it. It is weird how many pages of basic thoughts from inspirers who really speak to me and make me want to write. I think that is when I decided to change my major to English. But perhaps I chose English as a major for the wrong reasons.

“The most important relationship in the world is the one you have with yourself because everyone and everything is a direct reflection of the quality of that. So when you invest in your own personal growth, you have an unshakable sense of self.” – Mari Smith

I thought that as an English major, I could become better grounded in saying the right thing so I could apply that into songwriting.  I wanted to familiarize myself with the language so I could use it to my advantage in my songs. Should I have majored in music?  I mean, if it had not been for my high school English teacher's forcing us to memorize and interpret Hamlet's "To be or not to be" speech, I would never love English as much as I do now.  I wanted to write like the great William Shakespeare. I wanted to move people like Langston Hughes. I wanted to write amaing articles like NY Times Op-Ed columnist Bob Herbert. But I also wanted to write songs as wonderfully as Carole King. So I thought English was the major that would get me there.

I love to sing, but I also love to write.  Singing is one of those things that I wake up thinking about. I don’t remember a day that I didn’t envision myself one day singing on that Grammy stage.  While that is a dream that might seem a little far fetched, dreaming is healthy. 

I also love to write and am learning to love so many different aspects of it, now that I am pursuing a degree in English. Check out some of the things I have written at http://contributor.yahoo.com/user/56521/stephanie_jeannot.html

"You have to be willing to learn new things everyday, every minute." - Russell Simmons

I took this amazing poetry class during my occupation as a college student and it has helped me to use the English language in a different way in my songs, which I love. I never thought it would be so challenging being that I have bins full of notebooks featuring poetry. But it was a great experience learning different forms of it and tapping into my creativity to write what the old me hadn't.

I am really enjoying the idea of writing articles in magazines while taking a course on Magazine article writing which is really great. I used to always receive the greatest remarks on my papers with teachers actually telling me they would write me reference letters based on my writing, but she critiques me in ways that make me want to come up some in my writing. I may not be happy with her comments, but I know it is only to help me to improve on myself.

I also enjoy the idea of perhaps writing grants as I am learning about the process in my Advanced Professional writing class. I have many books on writing grants but I think I like the idea of learning from a live instructor; moreeover, someone who was successful with it, to learn what worked for him. But one class has made me think differently about English as a whole and that is Technical writing.

‘Each person has to be moved individually before the audience can be moved.” – Peter Guber

I was a head counselor at a summer camp one year, and during one of my breaks, I took a walk over to Staples. It must have been my luck because on that day, they had a $10 off anything in the store coupon in the circular. I left Staples with so many free things that day, that from that point on, I have became Staples biggest fan.

While some find their favorite shopping items being purses, shoes, hats or other things, my favorite thing to buy is paper. I love paper. I like pretty paper that I can write poetry on. But I also love stationary that I can do other creative things with like creating business cards, flyers, brochures, posters, press kits, event programs and other technical documents.

I have been creating promotional items for years, but never considered it as a field in the English department to pursue. Even when I worked on my self-published Gospel album, “I Believe,” and was creating posters, flyers and other promotional items, I never considered that I was involved in a field that I might actually be able to pursue. Technical writing is a great field and I am very interested now. "I Believe" is currently available at http://melodiaz.0catch.com/Profile.html 

Sometimes, too much to think about causes us to stop thinking all together and do nothing.” – Darren Hardy

When there are so many interests, which one is the door to success? When you do so many things, which of those things that you are doing are the ones that you choose to stick with?  Am I to pursue a career in health care administration because I have worked in that field for the past decade?  I am more than experienced in that field. Maybe that is the best road? 

What about singing though?  I love to sing. Do I just not pursue it to follow another star?  But I am really good at it.  Do I just let go of something I have been dreaming of for my entire life?

I have been writing poetry since the eighth grade?  I have attempted writing a poetry book in my past.  But then I also enjoy writing freelance articles.  Can I just claim a title as a freelance writer which does not tie me to any particular field? Or do I have to choose to be a grant writer or a technical communicator just to fill out an application? 

Then lately, I have been considering completing my English bachelors degree and going for a masters degree in nutrition to write about nutrition and fitness; especially since these past few days have been submerged in a new lifestyle diet and these great Nintendo Wii Fit games that have changed my exercise habits and have actually been helping me in my fitness quest.

“Whether you like it or not, reality has a good grip on you.” – Glenn Solomon

What if I still don’t know which way to go? How can I look for a job when I don’t know what I want to do?  Does monster.com have job postings for singers? I never had a harder time with an assignment to simply find a job posting and write a resume than I do now. I already have a resume.

The problem is, it does not feature the career experiences; only my jobs. But that is what a resume is supposed to have on it right?  

Eventually one has to choose. The challenge is choosing the right thing. While many know what they want to do in their prime, I am already almost halfway to my Biblical promise of 70 years, and I am still trying to decide.

If it were possible, I would just want to write on my resume, to pursue being a business owner. Maybe I should have majored in business.  Maybe I’ll figure it out one day. Maybe I’ll write the next best novel featured on Success Magazine’s top ten books of the month.  Or maybe I will see that performance on the Grammy stage fulfilled.  While I am left with many questions, the true answer is, wherever God leads me I will follow.  So I know I’ll be okay because my faith has me praying for it. If you are interested, let’s network on twitter with each other. Find me at www.twitter.com/musiqal1

1 comment:

  1. Your post really resonated me. I see a lot of myself in your journey. I like writing poetry and fiction. I am drawn to raising awareness about AIDS. I love teaching. Some days I still do not know what I want to do full-time. I fear becoming a jack of all trades but master of none. But a part of me resists making one final decision. Why can't I do a little bit of everything?

    I have tried to look for the common thread, or the connective tissue that links one part of my life with another. (I wrote a little bit about this on my blog; one of the entries you commented on.) I think for me the connective tissue is helping others express themselves and creating spaces for others to express themselves. I do this at the magazine; I do this as part of a classroom. And I have been thinking lately of small-press publishing. That would be another way. Do you feel there is a common thread that runs through all the areas you've been drawn to?



    Here's one of my favorite quotes by the way!

    "...this boy is forest-born, And hath been tutored in the rudiments Of many desperate studies..."—Shakespeare, As You Like It

    ReplyDelete