Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Lauryn's "Sweetest Thing," Concerto & An Inspired PicPoem of Sweet Tulips

Lauryn Hill is an awesome artist. I love the fact that she not only sings, but she raps. It gives her music this boost of excitement.
Have you ever experienced listening to an artist’s song on the radio play after years and years of knowing it, only to find that the song sounds as if it were the first time you ever heard it?  The Sweetest Thing” is one of those songs.
What the words mean to me are a description of a person being madly in love or possibly even infatuated. If you have been kissed on your collar bone, you can relate to the weakness found in those sweet moments. It is a beautiful feeling that can make you feel like a queen, like Lauryn sings; simply because someone wanted to make you happy or because someone wanted to give you that attention that you have been seeking. Or perhaps it is the first time you ever shared a beautiful moment together and it was sweeter than any other experience.  
If that significant person who puts a smile on your face is truly the one,  the energy felt when around each other might be as valuable as Lauryn sings; even more valuable than all the things that she knows. This is her interpratation of real love and she sings it with the right amount of intensity to make the lyrics real. She signs about kisses that are so tasteful, they taste like Amaretto and get you drunk. She writes like a poet and sings them like someone who knows what love is with all the emotions embodied within the phrasings.
I had the privilege to see her live in concert last weekend at Caesar’s Casino in Atlantic City. Even though she showed up to her 9 PM show at 10:30, it was worth the wait because she was full of energy and offered a great time to all her fans that were there.  
It was a nice concert. I enjoyed listening to her sing her popular tunes and also some that she used to perform live with the Fugees.  Unfortunately, she did not sing “The Sweetest Thing” which is a song I loved from when I was in high school. But she sang “Zion” and “Ex-Factor” and I enjoyed each and every moment of her remixing them live for the crowd. Ironically, I heard “The Sweetest Thing” playing on the radio almost like right after seeing her live. And then came this writing prompt for song heard on the airwaves and meaning and I found something great to write about that I adore so much: music.   
She has that type of voice that makes you want to try to imitate. She can really rhyme and talks about something concrete which is great. Her attitude on the mic can be inspiring and her lyrics give ambition for songwriters and lyricists to write. She even inspired me to write a PicPoem called Sweet Tulips:

Sweet Tulips

Live off vocal energy,
yawns, or umbrellas.
Tasteful expressions reclaimed every newton churned, entirely.
Harmony angelically registers inside silently.
Loves open vases embellish
sweet tulips eloquently positioned high above Neptune; Infinitely enamored.


From 20 to 120 to 12 Wins, Losings and Drawing Conclusions

I almost got tempted to complete a 40 question survey on some random things.  That was until I got up to one of the many questions featured in it which read, can you play poker? And here is where my desire to write began.
This past weekend, a group of us cousins went down to Atlantic City.  I always enjoy going there because there is so much fun to be had; more than just gambling.  I usually take the bus down but I decided to put my new car to use and make my way down there.
There is a difference.  When you take the bus, the amount you pay for your ticket is either fully or partially reimbursed in the form of play money for the slots.  I could pay $25 for the bus and get it all back to use for any machine I want. Most of the time, I just play that.
But when you drive, you pay the astronomical fee for gas, all the many tolls that are on the road all the way down to exit 38 on the Garden State Parkway and then also must now use your own money to play. And so I did.
Can I play poker?  Well no.  I consider myself having a touch of luck at times. I once bought a $2 Bingo scratch off and won $1000 off of it. That was wonderful. Ever since then, I thought that winning was meant to be mine all the time. Though it is not, I do like to take my chances every now and then because you never know. And boy, do I enjoy playing the slots.
Me and my cousin went down there to the casinos and I felt a machine calling me and so, I sat there with my $20 and decided, this was going to be my jackpot moment. My $20 turned into $120 fast. I was so tempted to cash out and use my winnings for something else, but unfortunately I did not listen to myself.  I went from my original $20 up to $120 and down to $12.50 in about 30 minutes.  I guess you win some and you lose some but every time I got to the casino floor, I wanted to play something.

I realize it even more now that Atlantic City has so much to do besides gamble. I mean, the 40/40 club is not too far from there as well as many other great dance clubs and venues.  So many major artists perform in the concert halls of the casinos.  There are shopping outlets, and an amusement park that is great for the kids. So many great restaurants are around the area and inside of the casinos and so much more. You can even swim indoors at a tropical type oasis kind of pool that makes you feel as if you are in the Caribbean. Yet, you can’t take the gambling out of it. At least I can’t. And it was fun, but sad to see myself lose what I won. 
I am just lucky that I did not go overboard on the slots.  Yet, I think it might have been an even greater advantage to me to use that extra $100 that I first won before I lost it on the slots, at the Tangers Outlet. Would have been a nice incentive to use that money to buy myself a new coach bag. Or maybe even some of those cool noise cancelling headphones by Bose.
I should have stopped my gambling there, but I still had my winning voucher. Yeah! that $12.50. I could have cashed out and been happy with half of what I played back but no, I decided to go back to the slots to see if I could win something with my winning voucher on the next morning. Those penny machines do fool you sometimes though because even though the slots say that it's a penny machine, you play for $1.20 with each spin at the minimum. I like to steepen the pot a little bit though which is why that $12.50 was gone in about 3 minutes of taking chances. At least I know next time. Play and if I win, cash out and keep it. 

Yeah, sounds like a great idea!

The Contributor has no connection to nor was paid by the brand or product described in this content

Monday, February 27, 2012

PICpoetry: Mid-Winter Swim

Nothing like mid-winter swimming in a heated pool
Especially at Harrah's Atlantic City where the area is so cool
4 ft of water the whole stretch of the span
Great seating and VIP areas for you and your clan
There's about four jacuzzis around the poolside
In this in-door oasis, I had such a grand time
You could swim, race or do water exercises while in the water
You could read your book or write in your journal while lounged in comfort
The scenery is beautiful and the oasis is so sweet
And the towels are provided for every customer the staff members meet
This pool is for the adults and is on the waterfront side
And guess what, it transforms into a dance club at night
Two thumbs up for rest and relaxation by the pool side
Where for a few minute you can put you feet up, be care-free and smile
 I can't help but to look forward to the next go around
All because of the true pleasures that here I found

The Contributor has no connection to nor was paid by the brand or product described in this content

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sing A New Song; A Happy Song

If you are like me, the genuine emotion found in the musical performances of Whitney Houston has stuck with you all these years and the love for her sound and beauty has never left your spirit. Her contribution to music was both unique and awesome.

Watching the women with the golden voice’s homegoing service was so sad. I feel like I lost a family member. I can only consider how she crept into my heart when I was only a kid but like T.D. Jakes said, “love is stronger than death.” I know that because I love Whitney Houston.

If you are like me, you knew almost all the words to each and every one of her songs because you were so influenced by her that you wanted to be as artistically brave as her. And so, you borrowed her melodies and had a ball singing them whenever your heart felt it, trying to imitate her grace and her sound. 

If you are like me, you watched most of the homegoing service for Whitney Houston. It was sad but beautiful.  The thoughts from friends and loved ones touched my heart.  Hearing Donnie Mclurkin, Alicia Keys, Ce Ce Winans, among the many who performed moved my spirit. Whitney Houston deserved a homegoing service that showed how much she was truly loved when she was alive, even after her death; and it was.  But if you are like me, it was when they lifted her coffin and played her song I Will Always Love You that made you the saddest of all. I thought I could handle watching it but at that moment, I lost it. I lost my biggest musical inspiration.

If you are like me, Whitney Houston is still a big musical inspiration to you.  She may be gone but is not forgotten. She may be out of sight but never out of mind. She may not be here among the living but she is up in heaven in the safety of the arms of Jesus. And like Kevin Costner, she may never again sing her songs live, but young aspiring artists will sing them, trying to match her brilliance and perfection. Yet in truth, she will always be the best of all times.

Thinking About Tomorrow

With all the uncertainties of tomorrow, her death really made me think. Life is short.  Our next breath is not guaranteed. The lives that we lead deserve to be more than just the same old sad love song all the time. We ought to own the joy that God gives because that is the joy that no one can take away if you acknowledge that it is there on the inside. It is more than the things that we own, the people around us or our status and occupation.

If you are like me, you feel like dedicating the rest of your days to a new song; a happy song. We must eliminate all our doubts and fears and replace them with joy and gladness for even the littlest things we have been blessed with.  I have a suggestion. Let’s meet up at an open mic. Go to an open mic near you and set your heart free.

If you have never done one before, don’t worry, it’s easy and fun. It is a little different than karaoke because the lyrics are not provided and instead of singing with tracks, you sing with a live band. 

We all know all of Whitney Houston’s lyrics. Come on, I know you used to sing all her songs like they were our own songs when our ears were graced with a song played on the radio stations or when watching her videos. And who doesn’t remember some of the fabulous songs that Michael Jackson used to sing. Most of us know these songs word-for-word. So let’s go sing those and celebrate the artistry of these wonderful artist as well as our own lives which are worth celebrating everyday.

There are open mics all over New York. But if you are looking for one to go to, how about Café Oasis. Café Oasis is located at 799 Brooklyn Avenue in Baldwin, NY. You simply take the Southern State Parkway to Exit 20S and it is right down the block. You can also take the LIRR train to Baldwin station and the venue is right outside the station. It’s easy to get to and once you get there, the music that pours out from the hearts of music lovers is incredible.

Their open mic is held on Sunday nights and is hosted by Guitarist Debbie Knapper and the Knappertime Band.  Every Sunday from about 9:30 to 1:30, aspiring artists from all over band together and serenade each other. I go often and I always a great times.   

In times like these when we see people like Whitney Houston, who has been a part of our entire lives, even if it was only through her music and artistry. Seeing her passing is a reality that our days are numbers. It is time to enjoy the lives we have with the good times and memories, while also sharing it with our loved ones. It is time to truly live.

I know it is short notice being that tonight is the next open mic at Oasis. But it is a long weekend.  Monday is a holiday. Come out. But I understand if you can't. There are so many others around New York. You can go to the Village Underground located on West 3rd Street between McDougal and Sixth Avenue in Manhattan, on Monday night where Cheryl Pepsi Riley and band host their open mic from 9PM to 1AM. Or maybe you can go to Mickey Moe's located in Lynbrook, Long Island on Wednesday night and participate in their jazz open mic. No matter where you go, sing that new song and let your heart free.  

Friday, February 17, 2012

A Photo Captured in a Poem

Lately, I have been carrying around with me a camera and just snapping images of some of the cool things I see around. Being a lover of photography and someone who also loves to read and to write poetry, I thought it would be cool to capture an image and then to write a poem about it. 

So here is the first one of my photos and a poem:

A Beautiful Flower
by Stephanie Jeannot
Beautiful Flower Captured in Brooklyn, NY

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Pocket Full of Poesies for the Valentine Heart


Butterflies, they flutter within.
My mind on the matter of you takes a spin.
The birth of love has been conceived.
I’m hoping that we can basket weave.
I’m reserving secret Victorias for you.
Your voice like a q-tip caress my Eustachian tube.
Like the ocean in the summertime beguiles the sand,
the memory of our eyes intertwined spread out panned
As beautiful as a pearl in a shell, inside and out;
you give me fever; makes me want to Sunday morning shout;
and all I want to do lately is spend a little time
because your energy everlasts my batteries inside.

Intro to a fantasy

Template of a dream amidst the sighs
Quarter of a REM cycle behind sleeping eyes
Motion of your character within the side views blind
In this Utopia that has been born in the tunnel of my mind

The crescent moon shines as slides of thousand words echo
You are the star that guides me to this world where fantasy intros
Lying in the grasp of comfort straight through to morning sun
Soaking here as if splashed from waters of the ocean
The stars of red sky fade and I am wrapped under your hands
And tattooed emotions that ride my thighs and down to the basics

Like Walking
on Green Pastures

Everything is possible
When you are around
It feels like spring time in winter
When your eyes meet my ground
And everything just seems solid
You give me something I can feel
It’s like walking on green pastures
Whenever you’re near me

A Quantum Leap Into Love 

Trust the feeling and let love be love
Because tomorrow may never come
If someone has affected your heart
Let love be revealed to that someone
Life is short and you never know
The way the days ahead will flow
Because the next second is not promised
So don’t hide what is worthy of letting be known
My heart is pulsating like a grooving, pop rhythm
Ooh how I want to love you and engage in the fission
Always on my mind, all the time – you live within
I desire to take a quantum leap into love; with you.

Sincere Heart
Like a seed to a rose petal
Or a caterpillar’s butterfly
OR a neonate to a toddler
Or a spark of thought to always on my mind,
Your flurries left a carpet;
an idea that built ‘pon a play;
the lines turned to conversations
and the many words you say.
In a fraction of the second of that minute
we locked eyes and I was totally in it
and now my 24 of the seven are all in a storm
I think seeing you changed my outlook and form.
Interest turns to love and to life of curved arches.
The stars they glow to light my sky and point me to your marshes
And the things I see in you are like the beauty of that heavenly sky
Sometimes I wonder why God pointed me to such an awesome guy
Intelligent and beautiful with a heart the loves Jesus
And sexier than the silky sounds of Bossa Nova oscullating through the speakers
And smoother than the highways that truckers cruise down
I love you and it doesn’t make sense to hide it, so I love you out loud
I’m so crazy about you and it makes sense you know
You’re an angel in disguise and I’m the flame you were meant to glow
And when I’m around you, this feeling warm but sweet just melts me inside
I’m writing with a sincere heart, the lullaby of sleepless eyes
With hope you’ll see my in between the lines and midnight star
I think that you are all that; you are in my heart.  

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Sunday, February 12, 2012

RIP Whitney Houston

It was almost like instinctively reacting. My ears were enamored by the sound of the strongest tone. I always loved music but never heard anything like what I heard that day in previous listening scenarios.

I was only a kid back then. What could a child actually know about love?  But at that point in my life, I had nothing but love for Whitney Houston and my life was engineered differently ever since. It became clear to me that my enthusiasm for trying to imitate her sound while I was still in my single digits was the nature of my agenda in this world. The idea was enhanced that I was born to sing, just like her.

I am not sure if she even knows the impact that she played in the lives of so many people. Hearing her voice carrying a tune over harmonious accompaniment was like a special privilege; just to have opportunity to listen. I gained interest because she was so wonderful at what she did, and I’ll never forget it.

I thank Whitney Houston for motivating me to use her voice. Family and neighbors should thank her for giving me the desire to want to sing so much that they would hear me trying to belt out her songs on the top level of my lungs from down the block and around the corner. Listening and singing along to the audience of the wooden walls of my basement never seemed to fail at giving me a reason to smile. Whitney Houston had an incredibly strong voice and since I was just a kid, I wanted to have vocals that were just like hers.

I can say, that because of her, I found motivation and inspiration. I have been blessed.  I addressed the symptoms of love when I was young and have never abandoned my first love which is singing. The joy I find in simply being able to just let out my heart wherever I am, is incomparable to all else. Singing gives me life and I can honestly say that Whitney Houston breathed the interest into my lungs. I have this passion and boundless energy for simply wanting to share just because of how she blessed my life.

I guess that is why it is not that easy for me to absorb the fact that Whitney Houston has passed away. I gaze into the amazing sparkle of her memory, and her presence for me was always a huge deal. Knowing she has drifted off to her new life has impacted my life. I know I will peel away the layers as she ascends upward into the comfort of Jesus’ arms, but I will never forget the splashes of brilliance she added to my life. There is no denying that Whitney Houston will always be in my heart. From sunrise to sunset, she will always be my biggest musical inspiration. May you rest in peace Whitney Houston.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Spotlight on Black History: Yesterday Inspires Today & Tomorrow

It is Black History Month. So I thought I'd celebrate the history that people of color have made and are still making everyday. The following is a series of "Hand-Made by Stephanie" Collages and some quotes from some of the world's most empowering black history makers followed by a few links. Celebrating Today & Tomorrow; for everyday is a day to acknowledge and be proud of all the things black people were able to accomplish and to inspire in others.

"My philosophy is that not only are you responsible for your life,
but doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment"
- Oprah Winfrey

Black History is being made everyday by both the young and the matured

“It is the Lord that doth supply, with his Redeeming Love.” – Jupiter Hammon
“When you have mastered numbers, you will in fact no longer be reading numbers, any more than you read words when reading books You will be reading meanings.” - W. E. B. Du Bois

"It's always been a gift with me, hearing music the way I do. I don't know where it comes from, it's just there and I don't question it."Miles Davis
From left to right, you see the past and how it has inspired the next photo or generation(s).

I made decisions that I regret, and I took them as learning experiences... I'm human, not perfect, like anybody else.” – Queen Latifah

"The duty I owe to the slave, to truth, and to God, demands that I should use my pen and tongue so long as life and health are vouchsafed to me to employ them, or until the last chain shall fall from the limbs of the last slave in America and the worl" -  William Wells Brown

I was the conductor of the Underground Railroad for eight years, and I can say what most conductors can't say; I never ran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger.
Harriet Tubman

Art breathes and carries on the beauty of the work and the artist who made it into hearts of the inspired

"If you're trying to achieve, there will be roadblocks. I've had them; everybody has had them. But obstacles don't have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don't turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it." – Michael Jordan
“For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” – Nelson Mandela
Black History Makers that ought to be celebrated; We are a product of legacies that inspired carrying on visions

 “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” – President Barack Obama

There in one view we grasp the mighty whole, Or with new worlds amaze th' unbounded soul.”  -  Phyllis Wheatley

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Snapshot of Celebrating Champions

After Sunday’s Superbowl game where they used their experience and skill to claim the victory over the New England Patriots, the Giants left crowds of fans celebrating; and the party hasn’t stopped.

The Ticker Tape Parade was set to start at 11 AM. Zucotti Park which is usually filled with Occupy Wall Street Protesters was filled instead with Giants fans as early as 7 AM.  There was a gridlock of people on the sidewalks chanting, applauding and having unlimited fun. A lot of excitement filled the streets for the hours of celebration that was ahead of them. The parade would be followed by the ceremony at City Hall where the New York Giants would be presented with the keys to the city.

New York is in celebration mode and it is for a great cause. The NY Giants won the championship; definitely something worth celebrating with confetti, marching bands, and salsa because you know, us New Yorkers know how to really party.

Meal Time

Eating healthy suggests that one will decide upon choosing their meals a little differently.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and is meant to be the biggest; so for breakfast you eat like a Superbowl Champion, like a King or like a Queen.

Lunch is not the most important meal, so the meal could be a little bit smaller and so, for lunch, eat like a Prince or like a Princess.

After a hard day of doing whatever it is you do, dinner is important. Yet, it is meant to be given like a treat which does not necessarily mean it has to be a grand and elaborate meal. Especially since it is the meal closest to sleep time. You don’t want to go to sleep with a full stomach, so eat lighter, later. And so, for dinner, eat like a Pauper or a Maid.

Oatmeal for dinner?
It’s delicious, it’s healthy and it’s easy to make.
Take a medium sized bowl.
Add a packet of your favorite instant oatmeal.
Add skim or soymilk.
Put in microwave for three minutes
And Voila, dinner!!!

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