Align Self with Love

10422274_10101018826505797_6543253942347780185_nWhen I was a little girl I remember getting made fun of for my nose. Kids would say it was like a “ski jump”  (we lived in a ski town, so this made sense). For a long time I was self conscious about it, and grew up with that insecurity imbedded in my psyche. Even as an adult I refrained from sharing or celebrating images that showed my profile. I think part of the insecurity stemmed from popular media defining a norm of “beautiful” as something that my nose may have over quantified, falling just outside the “normal” specs and so giving kids some leverage for teasing.

Later, I began to realize how my nose is actually one of the strongest features inherited throughout my family lineage, particularly from my Mothers side, the Scheumanns. It’s my nose, actually, that reminds me most of my Grandparents. It reminds me of who I am and where I come from. A beautiful thing really, because its through them and this feature that I take each vital breath. 

To reach this understanding I first had an experience of debating with myself as to whether or not to post this picture on social media, because I was feeling this internalized insecurity. It felt silly, really, because who cares about how big or small my nose may be!? But the core of insecurities can sometimes run deep, and we need to pull them out from their root in order to dispel them. So I used the awkward moment as an opportunity for self examination.  I decided to explore the stories I had surrounding this insecurity. In doing so, I traced some interesting old beliefs and thought patterns that I have actually outgrown, and began to dissolve these illusive notions of beauty that came mostly from the mass media status quo. I even found humor in it all, and was able to laugh as I thought, ‘it really is like a ski jump! A perfect ski jump!’

We live in a world now where information travels faster than ever. In young people especially, I see many insecurities arise in the comparison of images, followers, and likes via the avenues of social media.  As we share glimpses of ourselves to the world via these channels, I challenge you to consider what insecurities may arise in the process of information sharing and selecting what we project to the world. By who’s standards are you selecting what to share, and perhaps defining your beauty?

In the end, this experience really taught me how these platforms for exchanging information and messages can be a very empowering, positive, and effective catalyst for change, if we choose to use it consciously.  I choose to share about the experience in my post on my Facebook page, exposing myself and “getting real” with my network. It felt great! Check your internal dialogue, is your SELF aligned with your LOVE when you post something? Are you pumping out projections of yourself to match a status quo, or to rep who you are from a deeper sense of self?





Comics Instead of Textbooks?

4_fmtImagine being in classroom and having your teacher assign you a comic book for the week. Don’t you think that comic book would get read a whole lot quicker than a traditional text book? Learning is one of the most empowering things a person can do with their life and can be quite fun, yet the mediums used in classrooms are dated and have caused students to think that learning is drudgery and boring.

Comics teach in a format that todays younger people can easily absorb. Youth that have grown up in our media-saturated world are visual learners who crave a certain level of stimulation; otherwise they feel bored. Unfortunately, many students are being labeled as ADD when actually they are just having a hard time sitting in a chair all day being bored and underwhelmed. This is obviously not the fault of the student or the teacher; it is time to address the medium.

A few years back I read an inspiring book by Valerie Kirschenbaum called Goodbye Gutenberg: How a Bronx Teacher Defied 500 Years of Traditions and Launched an Astonishing Renaissance. Valerie’s students had the worst reading scores in her district, so she began making the text more visually pleasing for her students. Changing the colors and font of text, enlarging important words, using forward and reverse italics and incorporating design flow into the reading assignments. Her students reading scores rose to the top of the district in no time!

In South Africa, The Nelson Mandela Centre For Memory introduced a series of comic books to tell the story of Nelson Mandela to youth who were born after he was released from prison. The first comic was released in October 2005, and each subsequent comic has been distributed at intervals of several months. The Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory wishes to make the comics interactive by using them as a teaching tool in schools and by means of feedback sessions with rural communities in particular. As a result, they’ve developed an interactive comics exhibition to support the outreach of the Madiba Legacy comic series and it has been quite successful.

Now, PBSKids has introduced WordGirl, SuperWhy, and Cyberchase as educational comics for kids that are partnered with engaging television shows. Scholastic has jumped on board with authors like Sari Wilson, who wrote State of Emergency, True Tales of Survival in the Wake of Hurricane Katrina which is also an educational comic. There is even a book by Katie Monin called Teaching Graphic Novels, Strategies for the Secondary ELA which promises to “Harness the power of graphic novels to promote literacy and engage all secondary students.” Comic creator Josh Elder founded the educational nonprofit organization Reading With Pictures to promote the use of comics in the classroom.The use of transmedia storytelling will continue to evolve in the classroom as technology and the market catches up and I will be doing an article about that in the near future.

Giggle Bubble Dreams is a recently completed book that teaches children about the interconnectedness of nature while empowering youth with notions of community social responsibility using fantasy and comics. Giggle Bubble Dreams is a collaboration between myself and Bret Blevins (Emmy Awarded Artist whose video blog was featured in my previous post) with contributions from multiple artists including music from Grammy-Winning musician, Cyril Neville and illustrator, Ryan Huna Smith. Smith is a Native American Artist who contributed to “Tribal Force” a collection of Native Superheroes including Frybread Man. The notion of superheroes teaching social responsibility and defending nature and tribal ways instead of beating each other up is a notion whose time has come! Please enjoy the interview with Ryan Smith below, see his beautiful art and learn a little something about native culture in America.

Education is multidimensional, and there is an interconnectedness that visual art and creative design can convey beyond words that keep students engaged and having fun while learning. Free Comic Book Day is May 5th and participating comic book shops around the world give away comic books absolutely FREE to anyone who comes into their stores. So go to your local comic store and ask what kinds of educational comics they have available!

Read Article on Huffington Post Here 

We Dream The Future

It all starts with a dream. Speaking your dreams out loud and having someone listen and be interested is one of the most empowering things you can do for yourself and those around you. Have You ever heard an older person dis (bad talk) on younger people or say things like, “Kids these days are lost, they have nothing better to do than talk on their cell-phones, text and play video game”? Everyone has, and this disconnect across generations hurts all of us. I believe that much of this is the result of how quickly the technology has evolved.

Youth of today are the most media-empowered generation in the history of the planet. They have grown up bombarded with medias, with more information at their finger-tips than all the previous generations combined. It is all so overwhelming, and the temptation to slip away into a mindless video game  to avoid it all is so easy. Yet, like every other generation, young people dream about the future and about what is possible. It is their world and their future that is at stake when politicians and big business prioritizes profits over people and planet. It can be downright depressing to know so much about the problems of the world, that’s why it is more important now than ever to dream.

Do You dream of a better world? Would you like to let the world know that you have a dream and that you intend to make it happen? Are you open to hearing what the youth of today have to say about how adults are running the world? Can we have that dialogue across generations? I think so, and that is why we, at Culture Collective, have launched

The project was originally sponsored by Flip Cameras, and we were so excited for a big launch, but then Cisco was bought by Dell and The Flip line of video cameras discontinued. But now, most people have video cameras right on their phones, and the ability to shoot a video and upload it is easier than ever. Visit the website, learn about the project, and then add your voice!

Here’s how it works, just make a short video of yourself, or your friends, answering two very simple questions. First question is, “What is your dream for the future?”, second question is, “What are you going to do to make that dream happen?” You can change your mind a million times between now and the future, but this is about voicing your dreams and having them be heard by your piers and those that are older than you. The site is filled with links and inspirational videos too. So what are you waiting for? The world wants to hear your dream!

Interested in this project? Get involved!

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