1.04.2015

New Year, New Goals: Hello 2015

Wow. I can't believe I haven't written a blog post in SIX MONTHS. At the same time....I can.
I wasn't even going to write this until my best friend literally commanded me to go journal. Though she emphasized that I didn't necessarily have to blog, she insisted that I journal in some form.

In all honesty, I've been avoiding writing because I have been afraid of what the process unleashes. Writing for me is peaceful and cathartic, but also sometimes violent, passionate, scary, and maddening. My experiences are already so intense and writing about them brings that intensity to a whole other level. In one sense, that's is incredibly frustrating to admit. But on the other side, it's validating. It reminds me of Langston Hughes when he said something to the tune of- writing poetry is like trying to catch fleeting moments and put them to paper. Something like that...

I've been afraid to catch my words and put them into paper, for the fear of burning the page, my pen, and everything else in the way.

So much of 2015 has already been about pushing myself out of my comfort zone and continuing all the growth that occurred in 2014.

This post is just me warming up. I haven't flexed my writing muscles in a really long time, with the exception of 1. a few poems I've written about/to my father and 2. beautiful one-liners that enter my consciousness, mostly in the wee hours of the night.

2014 was about shedding layers.
2015 is about liberation.
And liberation requires many things- sacrifice,  new ideas and strategies, battles, and change. And I feel ready for these things.

I think another reason I've been struggling to write is that I feel kind of dissatisfied with the blog. I think it needs some re-purposing. I think I need some re-purposing. So I've wondered whether it's worth it to continue writing on this blog or to start a new one or what.

And this whole issue has to do with a few questions I have for myself.
Am I a writer/story-teller?
Am I a (future) doctor?
Am I a business woman?
Am I a student?
Am I an artist?
Am I an interviewer?
Am I a plant lover/curator?
Am I a global health leader?
Am I a social activist?
Of course the answer to this is a resounding "YES!" to all of the above.
But my questions is "How?" And how to be all of those people and represent myself in all of those ways in this life and on this blog in a way that feels cohesive and genuine and not all over the place.

What is my craft?
What do I have to offer the world?
What makes me Naika?
The big questions.

I want:
to do work in Haiti and within Haitian communities
to write and create
to heal people
to create meaningful change
to engage in mutually benefitial creative partnerships with others, especially Haitians
to constantly meet new people
to explore the arts and other cultures, and document my experiences
to start a successful business
to work in international health, and help create real changes in people's health outcomes
to be a part of like-minded communities
to brand myself in an authentic and cohesive way

I want it all. And part of the task of liberation will be working up to having it all. A big part of achieving, I believe, is setting an intention, and I guess that's what this post has evolved into.

So, to my loyal and committed readers, hello again. To new readers, welcome.

2015, leggo!

Stay engaged,
N


Three Things

Life has taught me that it's never too late to say these three things:
I love you.
I'm sorry.
Thank you

It can be scary though.I takes tremendous courage, accountability, and self-awareness to say all of these things. But it makes you feel good, and it makes the other person feel good.

Go say one of these things to someone. You won't regret it.

Stay engaged,
N

7.06.2014

Interview with DJ Gardy Girault

It's 2pm on a Friday afternoon, at a quiet campground. My classmates and teachers are lounging by the Rogue River in Southern Oregon after a long morning of harvesting medicinal plants. The sun is bright, the river is flowing, the birds are chirping, and the trees, flowers, and grass are moving to the tune of an invisible force; the beat of the wind. I ask myself, "How is it that nature is grooving right no, but we are not? ". We are tired, but we are craving something to revitalize us. I decide that it's time to play some music, so I ask my friend for his car keys because, after all we are in the mountains and have no electricity to plug in speakers or other modern devices. I press play.

I start streaming Wake me Up Rara Tech Remix by Gardy Girault on my iPhone.  As I walk away from the car, I immediately start dancing, hands in the air, walking towards the foot of the river. At first I am the only one dancing to the sounds, and that is ok with me. But, within approximately 1 minute, several others start moving their bodies too, subtly, in a uniform groove. Yes, including my professors. "What is this?!", their facial expressions ask. By the 2nd minute of the song, people get out of the river. They set their books aside, they come out of their tents, and form a sea of moving, grooving, jiving bodies, electrified and unified by the Rara tech sounds. They are exhilarated by the sounds of Haiti. By the time the song ends, it is clear that the crowd is quite literally hungry for more. My classmates scream "More, more!". Something in their spirits awoken. It was my pleasure to oblige this request.

Man, music is such a beautiful thing. Who would've guessed that Haitian Rara tech would reach the wilderness of deep southern Oregon, which lies in the western most state of the U.S, thousands of miles from the place of its origin. This is the effect of Gardy's music. It touches people. It transcends boundaries. It awakens us. It makes us move.

6.24.2014

Meet DJ Sabine Blaizin!

Meet a woman who knows how to make people dance. DJ Sabine Blaizin is a talented Brooklyn-based DJ, who blends the sounds of the diaspora, lifts our collective spirit, and inspires us to move. Sabine has played a big role in Haiti Cultural Exchange's Selebrasyon!, and will be one of the featured DJ's at the festival's closing party this Saturday, along with DJ Gardy Girault. I'm grateful to have had to opportunity to interview DJ Sabine and chat about the inspiration behind her sound, the healing power of music, and her social justice and service endeavors through Lakay se Lakay.

Check out the interview below!

How did you get into DJing?

Around 1999, I was an avid club goer (house & underground hip-hop music venues) and started collecting vinyl of some of the rare songs I would hear from my favorite Djs/Producers. My favorite spot was a record store called Dance Tracks in the Lower East Side, NY. It was a haven for dance music aficionados. I would spend hrs after school/work and on weekends listening to tracks and connecting with various DJ's/Producers who would come through. A close Dj friend said I had a good ear while playing vinyl at his house & slowly but surely I started playing out at basement parties and had a good reaction from fellow dancers/house-heads. Later, we started a party called Brooklyn Mecca in 2006...Brooklyn Mecca: Home of Grassroots Dance Culture.
Carlos Bell Photography
I haven't seen you spin in person, but from listening to your dope music and watching some video performances, I can clearly see the joy radiating from your being, when you perform. It looks as if you are connecting with a deep part of yourself, but also connecting with the collective vibe of the people. Talk to me about the joy of making people dance.

I started out as a dancer before DJing...various styles like house, hip-hop, capoeira, african, Haitian, etc...that sensibility to dance translated into my sets...playing music that would move ones spirit as well as my own.