Category Archives: Around the Globe

You can always close your eyes, but you can’t close your ears…

Heard this song a while back, and revisited it today because I heard a song on Pandora by the same artist (Calle 13).  I thought it was pertinent to share because the dolphin has been continually showing up as a theme in my current life, and because I know the Universe Conspires, I must honor this revelation with a very important message.  Please be warned, viewer discretion is advised.  However, as citizens of this planet, it is our responsibility to HEAR…

 Lyrics below in Spanish and English for your convenience.

Muerte en Hawaii (Spanish)

Yo he peliao con cocodrilos
Me he balanceado sobre un hilo cargando más de 500 kilos
Le he dao la vuelta al mundo en menos de un segundo
He cruzao 100 laberintos y nunca me confundo

Respiro dentro y fuera del agua como las focas
Soy a prueba de fuego, agarro balas con la boca
Mi creatividad vuela como los aviones
Puedo construir un cerebro sin leer las instrucciones

Hablo todos los idiomas de todos los abecedarios
Tengo más vocabulario que cualquier diccionario
Tengo vista de águila, olfato de perro
Puedo caminar descalzo sobre clavos de hierro

Soy inmune a la muerte
No necesito bendiciones porque siempre tengo buena suerte
Ven conmigo a dar un paseo por el parque
Porque tengo más cuentos que contarte que García Marqués

Por ti, todo lo que hago lo hago por ti
Es que tú me sacas lo mejor de mí
Soy todo lo que soy
Porque tú eres todo lo que quiero (x2)

Puedo brincar la cuerda con solo una pierna
Veo en la oscuridad sin usar una linterna
Cocino lo que quieras, yo soy todo un chef
Tengo sexo 24 – 7 todo el mes

Puedo soplar las nubes grises pa que tengas un buen día
También se como comunicarme por telepatía
Por ti, cruzo las fronteras sin visa
Y le saco una buena sonrisa a la “Mona Lisa”

Por ti, respiro antes de morirme
Por ti voy a la Iglesia y escucho toda la misa sin dormirme
Sigo siendo el Rey, aunque no tenga reino
Mi sudor huele a perfume y nunca me despeino

Se pelear todas las artes marciales
También se como comunicarme con los animales
Mientras más pasa el tiempo me veo más joven
Y esta canción la compuse sin escuchar como Beethoven

Por ti, todo lo que hago lo hago por ti
Es que tú me sacas lo mejor de mí
Soy todo lo que soy
Porque tú eres todo lo que quiero (x2)

Death in Hawaii (English)

I have fought with crocodiles
I have balanced on a wire carrying more than 500 kilos
I have traveled around the world in less than a second
I have crossed 100 labyrinths and never once gotten confused.

I breathe both in and out of water like seals
I am fireproof, I catch bullets in my mouth
My creativity flies like airplanes
I can build a brain without reading the instructions

I speak all the languages of all the alphabets
I have more vocabulary than any dictionary
I have the sight of an eagle, the smelling prowess of a dog
I can walk barefoot on iron nails

I am immune to death
I don’t need blessings, because I always have good luck
Come with me for a walk in the park
Because I have more stories to tell than García Marqués

For you, everything I do, I do for you.
It is because you bring out the best in me
I am everything I am
Because you are all I want.

I can jump rope with only one leg
I can see in the dark without using a lantern
I cook what you want, I am a great chef
I have sex 24/7, all month long

I can blow the gray clouds away so you can have a good day
Also, I know how to communicate telepathically
For you, I cross borders without a visa
And I can bring out a smile from even the Mona Lisa

For you, I breathe before I die
For you, I go to church and listen to the whole mass without sleeping
I am still the king, although I don’t have a kingdom
My sweat smells like perfume and my hair is never disheveled

I know how to fight all the martial arts
Also, I know how to communicate with animals
As more time goes by, I look younger
And I composed this song without listening, like Beethoven

For you, everything I do, I do for you.
It is because you bring out the best in me
I am everything I am
Because you are all I want.

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Before we were slaves: Great Kings and Queens of Africa

Delight yourself by learning your royal lineage:)

Affonso I 
King of the Kongo 1506 to 1540
Affonso I was a visionary, a man who saw his country not as a group of separate cultures, but as a united  nation fully equipped with advanced knowledge and technology.
Affonso I was the first ruler to modernize Africa on a grand scale. Because he saw progress as a healthy mix of physical and spiritual development, Affonso made it possible for his people to practice new skills in masonry, carpentry, and agriculture. He also streamlined Kongo politics, established one of the most modern school systems in Africa, and later became the first ruler to resist the slave trade.
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Sunni Ali Ber 
King of Songhay 1464 to 1492
When Sunni Ali Ber came to power, Songhay was a small kingdom in the western Sudan. But during his twenty-eight-year reign, it grew into the largest, most powerful empire in West Africa.
Sunni Ali Ber built a remarkable army and with this ferocious force, the warrior king won battle after battle. He routed marauding nomads, seized trade routes, took villages, and expanded his domain. He captured Timbuktu, bringing into the Songhay empire a major center of commerce, culture, and Moslem scholarship.
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Idris Alooma 
Sultan of Bornu 1580 to 1617
For two centuries before Idris Alooma became Mai (Sultan) of Bornu, Kanem was a separate land whose people had been driven out by their nomadic cousins, the Bulala. It took one of Africa’s most extraordinary rulers to reunite the two kingdoms.
Idris Alooma was a devout Moslem. He replaced tribal law with Moslem law, and early in his reign, he made a pilgrimage to Mecca. But the trip had as much military as religious significance, for he returned with Turkish firearms and later commanded an incredibly strong army. They marched swiftly and attacked suddenly, crushing hostile tribes in annual campaigns. Finally Idris conquered the Bulala, establishing dominion over the Kanem-Bornu empire and a peace lasting half a century.
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Behanzin Hossu Bowelle- 
The King Shark 1841 to 1906
Behanzin was the most powerful ruler in West Africa during the end of the nineteenth century. He was determined to prevent European intervention into his country, but readily welcomed European visitors, taking precautionary measures to prevent their spread of influence. To defend his nation’s sovereignty, he maintained a physically fit army, which included a division of five thousand female warriors.
The people of Dahomey often referred to their monarch, Behanzin, as the “King Shark,” a Dahomeyan surname which symbolized strength and wisdom. He was a fond lover of the humanities, and is credited with the creation of some of the finest song and poetry ever produced in Dahomey.
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Cleopatra VII 
Queen of Egypt 69 to 30 BC
The most famous of seven matriarchs to bear this name, Cleopatra rose to the throne at seventeen. The young queen is often erroneously portrayed as Caucasian, however, she was of both Greek and African descent. By mastering many different languages and several African dialects, she became instrumental in reaching beyond the borders of Egypt.
Striving to elevate Egypt to world supremacy, Cleopatra enlisted the military services of two great Roman leaders. She persuaded Julius Caesar and , later, Mark Anthony to renounce their Roman allegiances to fight on behalf of Egypt. each, however, met his death before Cleopatra’ s dreams of conquest were realized. Disheartened, Cleopatra pressed as asp to her breast, ending the life of the world’s most celebrated African queen.
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Hannibal 
Ruler of Carthage 247 to 183 BC
Regarded as one of the greatest generals of all time, Hannibal and his overpowering African armies conquered major portions of Spain and Italy and came close to defeating the mighty Roman Empire.
Born in the North African country of Carthage, Hannibal became general of the army at age twenty-five. His audacious moves-such as marching his army with African war elephants through the treacherous Alps to surprise and conquer Northern Italy-and his tactical genius, as illustrated by the Battle of Cannae where his seemingly trapped army cleverly surrounded and destroyed a much larger Roman force, won him recognition which has spanned more than 2004 years.
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Hatshepsut 
The Ablest Queen of Far Antiquity 1503 to 1482 BC
Hatshepsut rose to power after her father Thothmes I was stricken with paralysis. He appointed Hatshepsut as his chief aide and heiress to the throne. While several male rivals sought to oust her from power, Hatshepsut withstood their challenges to remain leader of what was then the world’s leading nation.
To help enhance her popularity with the peoples of Egypt, Hatshepsut had a number of spectacular temples and pyramids erected. Some of the towering structures still stand today as a reminder of the first true female ruler of a civilized nation. She was indeed the “Ablest Queen of Far Antiquity” and remained so for thirty-three years.
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Ja Ja 
King of the Opobo 1821 to 1891
Jubo Jubogha, the son of an unknown member of the Igbo people, was forced into slavery at age 12, but gained his freedom while still young and prospered as an independent trader (known as Ja Ja by the Europeans). He became chief of his people and the head of his Eastern Nigerian City State of Bonny. He later established and became king of his own territory, Opobo, an area near the Eastern Nigeria River more favorable for trading.
As years passed, European governments, mainly British, attempted to gain control of Nigerian trade. Ja Ja’s fierce resistance to any outside influence led to his exile at age 70 to the West Indies by the British. The greatest Igbo chief of the nineteenth century never saw his kingdom again.
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Khama 
The Good King of Bechuanaland 1819 to 1923
Khama distinguished his reign by being highly regarded as a peace-loving ruler with the desire and ability to extract technological innovations from Europeans while resisting their attempts to colonize his country. Such advancements included the building of schools, scientific cattle feeding, and the introduction of a mounted police corps which practically eliminated all forms of crime.
Respect for Khama was exemplified during a visit with Queen Victoria of England to protest English settlement in Bechuanaland in 1875. The English honored Khama and confirmed his appeal for continued freedom for Bechuanaland.
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Makeda 
Queen of Sheba 960 BC
She gave the king 120 talents of gold, and of spices very great store and precious stones; there came no more abundance of spices as these which the Queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon.” (Kings 10:10)
The Biblical passage refers to the gifts Makeda presented King Solomon of Israel on her famed journey to visit the Judean monarch. But Makeda’s gifts to Solomon extended beyond material objects; she also gave him a son, Menelek. The boy’s remarkable resemblance to his grandfather prompted Solomon to re-christen Menelek. Solomon later re-named his son after his own father, the legendary King David.
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Menelek II
King of Kings of Abyssinia 1844 to 1913
Proclaimed to be a descendant of the legendary 
Queen of Sheba and King Solomon, Menelek was the overshadowing figure of his time in Africa. He converted a group of independent kingdoms into the strong, stable empire known as the United States of Abyssinia (Ethiopia).His feat of pulling together several kingdoms which often fiercely opposed each other earned him a place as one of the great statesmen of African history, His further accomplishments in dealing on the international scene with the world powers, coupled with his stunning victory over Italy in the 1896 Battle of Adwa, an attempt to invade his country, placed him among the great leaders of world history and maintained his country’s independence until 1935.
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Moshoeshoe
King of Basutoland 1815 to 1868
 

For half a century, the Basotho people were ruled by the founder of their nation. Moshoeshoe was a wise and just king who was as brilliant in diplomacy as he was in battle. He united many diverse groups, uprooted by war, into a stable society where law and order prevailed and the people could raise their crops and cattle in peace. He knew that peace made prosperity possible, and he often avoided conflict through skillful negotiations.
Moshoeshoe solidified Basotho defenses at Thaba Bosiu, their impregnable mountain capital. From this stronghold he engineered a number of major victories over superior forces.
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Mansa Kankan Mussa 
King of Mali 1306 to 1332
A flamboyant leader and world figure, Mansa Mussa distinguished himself as a man who did everything on a grand scale. An accomplished businessman, he managed vast resources to benefit his entire kingdom. He was also a scholar, and imported noteworthy artists to heighten the cultural awareness of his people.
In 1324 he led his people on the Hadj, a holy pilgrimage from Timbuktu to Mecca. His caravan consisted of 72,000 people whom he led safely across the Sahara Desert and back, a total distance of 6,496 miles. So spectacular was this event, that Mansa Mussa gained the respect of scholars and traders throughout Europe, and won international prestige for Mali as one of the world’s largest and wealthiest empires.
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Nandi
Queen of Zululand 1778 to 1826 AD
The year was 1786. The King of Zululand was overjoyed. His wife, Nandi, had given birth to a son, his first son, whom they named 
Shaka. But the King’s other wives, jealous and bitter, pressured him to banish Nandi and the young boy into exile. steadfast and proud, she raised her son with the kind of training and guidance a royal heir should have. For her many sacrifices, Nandi was finally rewarded when her son, Shaka, later returned to become the greatest of all Zulu Kings.To this day, the Zulu people use her name, “Nandi,” to refer to a woman of high esteem.
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Nefertari 
Nubian Queen of Egypt 1292 to 1225 BC
One of many great Nubian queens, Nefertari is heralded as the queen who wed for peace. Her marriage to King Rameses II of Egypt, one of the last great Egyptian Pharaohs, began strictly as a political move, a sharing of power between two leaders. Not only did it grow into one of the greatest royal love affairs in history, but bought the hundred year war between Nubia and Egypt to an end. It was an armistice which lasted over a hundred years
Even today, a monument stands in Queen Nefertari’s honor. In fact, the temple which Rameses built for her at Abu Simbel is one of the largest and most beautiful structures ever built to honor a wife. And to celebrate peace.
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Nehanda of Zimbabwe 
Born into a religious family, Nehanda displayed remarkable leadership and organizational skills, and at a young age became one of Zimbabwe’s two most influential religious leaders
When English settlers invaded Zimbabwe in 1896 and began confiscating land and cattle, Nehanda and other leaders declared war. At first they achieved great success, but as supplies ran short, so did battlefield victories. Nehanda was eventually captured, found guilty, and executed for ordering the killing of a notoriously cruel Native Commander. Though dead for nearly a hundred years, Nehanda remains what she was when alive – the single most important person in the modern history of Zimbabwe, and is still referred to as Mbuya (Grandmother) Nehanda by Zimbabwean patriots.
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Nzingha 
Amazon Queen of Matamba, West Africa 1582 to 1663 
Many women ranked among the great rulers of Africa including this Angolan queen who was an astute diplomat and excelled as a military leader. When the slave-hunting Portuguese attacked the army of her brother’s kingdom, Nzingha was sent to negotiate the peace. She did so with astonishing skill and political tact, despite the fact that her brother had her only child killed. She later formed her own army against the Portuguese, and waged war for nearly thirty years. These battles saw a unique moment in colonial history as Nzingha allied her nation with the Dutch, marking the first African-European alliance against a European oppressor.
Nzingha continued to wield considerable influence among her subjects despite being forced into exile. Because of her quest for freedom and relentless drive to bring peace to her people, Nzingha remains a glimmering symbol of inspiration.
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Osei Tutu 
King of Asante 1680 to 1717
Osei Tutu was the founder and first king of the Asante nation, a great West African forest kingdom in what is now Ghana. he was able to convince a half dozen suspicious chiefs to join their states under his leadership when according to legend, the Golden Stool descended from heaven and came to rest on Osei Tutu’s knees, signifying his choice by the gods. The Golden Stool became a sacred symbol of the nation’s soul, which was especially appropriate since gold was the prime source of Asante wealth.
During Osei Tutu’s reign, the geographic area of Asante tripled in size. The kingdom became a significant power that, with his military and political prowess as an example, would endure for two centuries.
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Samory Toure 
The Black Napoleon of the Sudan 1830 to 1900
The ascendence of Samory Toure began when his native Bissandugu was attacked and his mother taken captive. After a persuasive appeal, Samory was allowed to take her place, but later escaped and joined the army of King Bitike Souane of Torona. Following a quick rise through the ranks of Bitike’s army, Samory returned to Bissandugu where he was soon installed as king and defied French expansionism in Africa by launching a conquest to unify West Africa into a single state.
During the eighteen year conflict with France, Samory continually frustrated the Europeans with his military strategy and tactics. This astute military prowess prompted some of France’s greatest commanders to entitle the African monarch, “the Black Napoleon of the Sudan.”
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Shaka 
King of the Zulus 1818 to 1828
A strong leader and military innovator, Shaka is noted for revolutionizing 19th century Bantu warfare by first grouping regiments by age, and training his men to use standardized weapons and special tactics. He developed the “assegai,” a short stabbing spear, and marched his regiments in tight formation, using large shields to fend off the enemies throwing spears. Over the years, Shaka’s troops earned such a reputation that many enemies would flee at the sight of them.
With cunning and confidence as his tools, Shaka built a small Zulu tribe into a powerful nation of more than one million people and united all tribes in South Africa against Colonial rule.
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Taharqa/Taharka 
King of Nubia 710 to 664 BC
At the age of sixteen, this great Nubian king led his armies against the invading Assyrians in defense of his ally, Israel. This action earned him a place in the Bible (Isaiah 37:9, 2 Kings 19:9).
During his 25-year reign, Taharqa controlled the largest empire in ancient Africa. His power was equaled only by the Assyrians. These two forces were in constant conflict, but despite the continuous warfare, Taharqa was able to initiate a building program throughout his empire which was overwhelming in scope. The numbers and majesty of his building projects were legendary, with the greatest being the temple at Gebel Barkal in the Sudan. The temple was carved from the living rock and decorated with images of Taharqa over 100 feet high.
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Tenkamenin 
King of Ghana 1037 to 1075 AD
The country of Ghana reached the height of its greatness during the reign of Tenkamenin. Through his careful management of the gold trade across the Sahara desert into West Africa, Tenkamenin’s empire flourished economically. But his greatest strength was in government. Each day he would ride out on horseback and listen to the problems and concerns of his people. He insisted that no one be denied an audience and that they be allowed to remain in his presence until satisfied that justice had been done.
His principles of democratic monarchy and religious tolerance make Tenkamenin’s reign one of the great models of African rule.
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Thutmose III
Pharaoh of Egypt 1504 to 1450 BC

Thutmose III was a member of one of the greatest families in the history of African royalty. A family which laid the basis for the 18th Dynasty of ancient Egypt. But it was his family which also was the source of his greatest frustration, as he always believed he should have come to power before his sister,
Hatshepsut, and was angry over this for most of his life. Ironically, though, it was the assignments she gave him which not only helped in his rise to power, but also helped him learn and understand the responsibilities of his royal position.Thutmose III eventually overcame his anger to become one of the most important Pharaohs in Egyptian history. A man who will be remembered as a great warrior who strengthened the sovereignty of Egypt and extended its influence into Western Asia.
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Tiye
The Nubian Queen of Egypt ca. 1415 to 1340 BC
 

Now it came to pass that, in the 14th century BC, a wise and beautiful woman from Nubia so captured the heart of the pharaoh, she changed the course of history.
Amenhotep III, the young Egyptian ruler, was so taken by Tiye’s beauty, intellect, and will, he defied his nation’s priests and custom by proclaiming this Nubian commoner his Great Royal spouse. He publicly expressed his love for his beautiful black queen in many ways, making her a celebrated and wealthy person in her own right. He took her counsel in matters political and military much to heart and later declared that, as he had treated her in life, so should she be depicted in death…as his equal.
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Askia Muhammed Toure 
King of Sonhay 1493 to 1529
A devout Muslim, Askia “The Great” ruled and administered Songhay strictly according to Islamic Law. He divided his country into provinces, each with a professional administrator as governor, and ruled each fairly and uniformly through a staff of distinguished legal experts and judges. At times he fought established tradition to rule in the best interests of his people by adjusting the taxes to reduce the burden on the commoners.
Askia Muhammed Toure united the entire central region of the Western Sudan, and established a governmental machine that is still revered today for its detail and efficiency.
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Queen Amina 

Queen of Zaria 1588-1589 
The elder daughter of Bakwa Turunku, who founded the Zazzau Kingdom in 1536, Queen Amina came to power between 1588 and 1589 A. D. Unlike her younger sister, Zariya (from whom the city of Zaria derives its name), Amina is generally remembered for her fierce military exploits.

A brilliant military strategist, many wars she fought, and all she won. And, through her conquest, she expanded the area under her reign by erecting great walled camps during her various campaigns, and Amina is generally credited with the building of the famous Zaria wall. She is today remembered – by some fondly, by others less so -as “Amina, Yar Bakwa ta san rana,” meaning “Amina, daughter of Nikatau, a woman as capable as a man.”

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Emperor Haile Selassie I (1892-1975),  “King of Kings. In 1935 there was just one man who rose out of murky obscurity and carried his country with him up & up into brilliant focus before a pop-eyed world. But for the hidden astuteness of this man, there would not now be the possibility of another world war arising out of idealism generated around the League of Nations in behalf of Ethiopia. But for His Majesty Haile Selassie, the year 1935 would have been a distinctly different year. If by some unhappy chance the Italo-Ethiopian war should now spread into a world conflagration, Power of Trinity I, the King of Kings, the Conquering Lion of Judah, will have a place in history as secure as Woodrow Wilson’s. If it ends in the fall of Mussolini and the collapse of Fascism, his Majesty can plume himself on one of the greatest feats ever credited to blackamoors. – January 6, 1936, Time Magazine Man Of The Year

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IMHOTEPThe world’s first known genius

Imhotep was the royal advisor to King Zoser during the Third Dynasty of Kemet. Regarded as the world’s first recorded multi-genius, Imhotep was an architect, astronomer, philosopher, poet and physician. As an architect he was responsible for designing the Step Pyramid and the Saqqara Complex. During his lifetime he was given a host of titles, among them:Chancellor of the King of Lower Kemet, the First after the King of Upper Kemet, High Priest of Heliopolis and Administrator of the Great Palace. As a physcian, Imhotep is believed to have been the author of the Edwin Smith Papyrus in which more than 90 anatomical terms and 48 injuries are described. This is well over 2,200 years before the Western Father of Medicine Hippocrates is born. Some 2,000 years after his death, Imhotep was deified by the inhabitants of Kemet and was known later as Asclepius, God of Medicine, to the Greeks. His very name, Im-Hotep, translates as the Prince of Peace. His tomb near Memphis became a sacred place and the site of pilgrimages for those seeking a cure. As a philosopher and poet, Imhotep’s most remembered phrase is: “Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we shall die.” There still remain many bronze statuettes, temples and sanatoria bearing his name, as is depicted in the picture of the statue at the left.

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  SENWORSERT I (PHARAOH OF THE 12TH DYNASTY) 
Senwosert I was a Twelfth Dynasty King of Kemet (1897 BC). Also known as Kepre Kare Senwosert I, he was known to the Greeks as Kekrops and Sesostris. Interestingly enough Herodotus, Greece’s Father of History, reported that Greece had once been conquered by a king named Sesostris. Greek mythology also indicated that the legendary founder of Athens was an Egyptian named Kekrops.
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  THE GREAT MUTOTA (1440)
The year was 1440. The King was Mutota. In any other European country he would have been known as Mutota the Great. He and his council was quick to see that even the most advance states each standing independently and alone, were doomed to European criminal exploits unless unified into a single nation with a strong central government. This also should be achieve through voluntary association if possible. Mutota and the new leaders understood this very well. Therefore, Mutota, in 1440, began the campaign to carry out his grand design. This was a great plan aimed at nothing less than uniting Africans into a vast empire that cut across South Africa below the Limpopo river, and covered Zimbabwe with an indefinite boundary beyond the Zambezi River in Zambia, and on over Mozambique to the Indian Ocean, sweeping southward again to re-posses the entire coastline fronting the New Empire. This area contained the majority of the world precious metals such as gold, copper, tin and iron held in over 4000 mines. After 30 years of struggle, unity was finally achieve in 1480 into the Empire of Monomotapa.
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  NARMER (THE FOUNDER OF DYNASTIC KEMET-3200 B.C.)
Narmer or Aha was called Menes by the Greeks. Regarded as the founder of Dynastic Kemet, he led an army from Upper Kemet in the south to conquer Lower Kemet in the north around 3200BC. Upon victory Narmer united Upper and Lower Kemet into one nation. One of Narmer’s first tasks was to build a city on his newly conquered lands. Here he was met with a difficult task as the Delta region was covered by an immense swamp. To remedy this situation, Narmer drained the swamp by actually diverting the course of the Nile River. Upon this new land he built a city which he named Men-Nefer:The Good Place. This city served as the capital of Kemet for several centuries. An Arab traveler writing as late as the Middle Ages reported the city “stretching a day’s journey in every direction.” The Greeks would rename Men-Nefer “Memphis,” a name that even today honors an African king who lived nearly 5,000 years ago.
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  CANDACE (EMPRESS OF ETHIOPIA 332 B.C.)
Alexander reached Kemet (Ancient Egypt) in 332 B.C., on his world conquering rampage. But one of the greatest generals of the ancient world was also the Empress of Ethiopia. This formidable black Queen Candace, was world famous as a military tactician and field commander. Legend has it that Alexander could not entertain even the possibilty of having his world fame and unbroken chain of victories marred by risking a defeat, at last, by a woman. He halted his armies at the borders of Ethiopia and did not invade to meet the waiting black armies with their Queen in personal command.
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The Placenta Cookbook

For a growing number of new mothers, there’s no better nutritional snack after childbirth than the fruit of their own labor.

By Atossa Araxia Abrahamian 

Published Aug 21, 2011 

A fresh placenta simmers with ginger, lemon, and a jalapeño pepper.

(Photo: Kathryn Parker Almanas )

 

Jennifer Hughes’s placenta was delivered ten minutes after her first child, just before midnight on March 31. It was on the large side, with a liverish texture and a bluish tinge; it measured nine inches in diameter and weighed a pound and a half. Placentas are considered biohazardous waste by the medical Establishment and are usually disposed of accordingly. Some hospitals send the afterbirth in formaldehyde to a pathology lab for analysis before it is carted off by a tissue-disposal service; others toss it out with bloody miscellany in special containers.

 

 

But in the birth plan that Hughes brought with her to Beth Israel Medical Center, she specified that she wanted to keep her placenta, for cultural reasons. Complying with New York State health regulations, which says that hospitals “may, at the request of a patient or patient’s representative, return a healthy placenta for disposition by the patient,” the hospital allowed her to take it home, and even packed it up for her.

In some cultures, it is customary to bury the placenta and plant a tree over it.

Hughes had other plans. She was going to eat it.

Early the next morning, a 28-year-old woman named Jennifer Mayer is driving a Subaru from Manhattan over the Brooklyn Bridge with an opaque takeout container in the passenger seat. Inside the container is a gallon-size Ziploc bag, and inside the bag is Jennifer Hughes’s placenta.

Mayer—an upbeat, blue-eyed blonde from upstate New York—is a professional placenta-preparer. Her job is to transform placentas into supplements that are said to alleviate postpartum depression, aid in breastmilk production and lactation, act as a uterine tonic, and replenish nutrients lost during pregnancy. Her clients are mostly middle-class, like Hughes and her husband, Doug, who are college-educated, in their thirties, and live on a gentrifying street in Crown Heights. On this dreary April morning, Mayer is driving the afterbirth to their apartment to begin preparing it.

 

“It’s the freshest placenta I’ve ever worked with!” she says, glancing over at the container as the car lurches through traffic. Mayer speaks about the organ in tones most women reserve for newborns: “perfect,” “beautiful,” “precious.”

 

Her enthusiasm isn’t unfounded. The placenta feeds the baby until birth, filtering toxins while letting in vitamins, minerals, oxygen, and other nutrients from the mother’s bloodstream. It even helps reduce the risk of transmitting viruses, including HIV, from mother to child.

Mayer, who also works as a massage therapist and doula, first became interested in placentas as a student at the University of Colorado. After reading up on the purported benefits of consuming one’s afterbirth and learning that a client was planning to try it, Mayer decided that she wanted to offer her customers placenta capsules: dried, ground afterbirth packaged into a clear pill no bigger than a regular vitamin supplement.

The technique, called encapsulation, was not widely practiced in Colorado and, until quite recently, was practically unknown on the East Coast. But Mayer found a doula who conducted training sessions with donated placentas, and started her business, Brooklyn Placenta Services, shortly thereafter.

“They’re happy pills,” Mayer says. “They’re made by your body, for your body. Why wouldn’t you want to try?”

 

In 1930, the researchers Otto Tinklepaugh and Carl Hartman described a female macaque monkey eating her placenta. “After licking the afterbirth, she begins the grueling task … of consuming this tough fibrous mass,” they wrote. “Holding the organ in her hands, she bites and tears at it with her teeth.” Tinklepaugh and Hartman could not determine the precise reason why macaques—and virtually every other land mammal—eat their own placenta. To this day, the reasons remain unclear.

Mark Kristal, a behavioral neuroscientist at the University of Buffalo, is the country’s leading (and quite possibly only) authority on placentophagia, the practice of placenta consumption. He has been researching the phenomenon for twenty years, and concludes that it must offer “a fundamental biological advantage” to all mammals. What this advantage is, he writes in one of his papers, “is still a mystery … in fact, a double mystery. We are not sure either of the immediate causes … nor are we sure of the consequences of the behavior.” But placentas have carried a special spiritual significance in some cultures. In ancient Egypt, it had its own hieroglyph, and the Ibo tribe in Nigeria and Ghana treats the placenta like a child’s dead twin. In traditional Chinese medicine, small doses of human placenta are sometimes dried, mixed with herbs, and ingested to alleviate, among other things, impotence and lactation conditions. And in modern medicine, doctors often bank umbilical-cord blood to treat genetic diseases with harvested stem cells.

According to Kristal, the first recorded placentophagia movement in America began in the seventies, when people residing in communes would cook up a placenta stew and share it among themselves. “It’s a New Age phenomenon,” he explains. “Every ten or twenty years people say, ‘We should do this because it’s natural and animals do it.’ But it’s not based on science. It’s a fad.”

Continue reading here


South Sudan ‘free at last’


By ALEXANDER DZIADOSZ AND JEREMY CLARKE | REUTERS

Published: Jul 9, 2011 18:00 Updated: Jul 9, 2011 18:16

JUBA: Tens of thousands of South Sudanese danced and cheered as their new country formally declared its independence on Saturday, a hard-won separation from the north that also plunged the fractured region into a new period of uncertainty.

The president of South Sudan, Salva Kiir, stood next to his old civil war foe the president of Sudan, Omar Hassan Al-Bashir, who now leads just the north, at a ceremony to mark the birth of the new nation.

Under-developed, oil-producing South Sudan won its independence in a January referendum — the climax of a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of fighting with the north.

Security forces at first tried to control the streets in the south’s dusty capital Juba, but retreated as jubilant crowds moved in overnight and through the day, waving flags, dancing and chanting “South Sudan o-yei, freedom o-yei.”

Some revellers fainted in the blistering heat as South Sudan’s parliamentary speaker, James Wani Igga, read out the formal declaration of independence.

“We, the democratically elected representatives of the people … hereby declare Southern Sudan to be an independent and sovereign state,” said Igga before Sudan’s flag was lowered, the South Sudan flag was raised and the new anthem sung. Kiir took the oath of office.

People threw their hands in the air, embraced and wept. “We got it. We got it,” one man said as he hugged a woman.

The presence of Bashir, who campaigned to keep Africa’s largest state united, was a key gesture of goodwill.

It will also be an embarrassment to some Western diplomats at the event. The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Bashir on charges of war crimes in Darfur.

Bashir gave a speech congratulating the new country. “The will of the people of the south has to be respected,” he said, ading that both states had to maintain peace.

North Sudan’s government was the first to recognize South Sudan on Friday, hours before the split took place, a move that smoothed the way to the division.

The United States, China and Britain signalled their recognition of the state on Saturday, according to official statements and government media reports.

“After so much struggle by the people of South Sudan, the United States of America welcomes the birth of a new nation,” said US President Barack Obama, stopping short of announcing any immediate changes in longstanding US sanctions on Sudan that Khartoum has been hoping will be lifted.

Dignitaries including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the leaders of about 30 African nations attended.

In a possible sign of the South’s new allegiances, the crowd included about 200 supporters of Darfur rebel leader Abdel Wahed Al-Nur, fighting Khartoum in an eight-year insurgency just over South Sudan’s border in the north.

Earlier, the supporters of Nur’s rebel Sudan Liberation Army faction stood in a line chanting “Welcome, welcome new state,” wearing T-shirts bearing their leader’s image. One carried a banner reading “El Bashir is wanted dead or alive.”

Traditional dance groups drummed and waved shields and staffs in a carnival atmosphere.

The crowd cheered as Kiir unveiled a giant statue of civil war hero John Garang, who signed the peace deal with the north.

Kiir offered an amnesty to armed groups fighting his government and promised to bring peace to troubled border areas.

“I would like to take this opportunity to declare amnesty for all those who have taken up arms against Sudan,” he said.

“I want to assure the people of Abyei, Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan that we have not forgotten you. When you cry, we cry. When you bleed, we bleed. I pledge to you today that we will find a just peace for all,” he said, adding that he would work with Bashir to achieve those goals.

“Today we raise the flag of South Sudan to join the nations of the world. A day of victory and celebration,” Pagan Amum, the secretary general of the South’s ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), told Reuters.

Seeds of future tension

Khartoum’s recognition of the South did not dispel fears of future tensions.

Northern and southern leaders have still not agreed on a list of issues, most importantly the line of the border, the ownership of the disputed Abyei region and how they will handle oil revenues, the lifeblood of both economies.

At the stroke of midnight the Republic of Sudan lost almost a third of its territory and about three quarters of its oil reserves, which are sited in the south. It faced the future with insurgencies in its Darfur and Southern Kordofan regions.

Sudan now shrinks to being the third largest state in Africa, with about 1.86 million sq km of territory.

In Khartoum on Saturday, one sign of the new national order was the disappearance of some English-language and SPLM-linked newspapers. The north said it suspended them on Friday as they were published or owned by southerners — an ominous signal for more than 1 million southerners left in the north.

Many northerners see the separation as a loss of face.

Analysts have long feared a return to war if north/south disputes are not resolved.

The United Nations Security Council voted on Friday to establish a force of up to 7,000 peacekeepers for South Sudan.

Mostly Muslim Sudan fought rebels in the south, where most follow Christianity and traditional beliefs, for all but a few years from the 1950s in civil wars fueled by ethnicity, religion, oil and ideology.


…with liberty and justice for some.

I don’t remember the exact time I stopped saying the Pledge of Allegiance.  I know it was primary school age, because I remember vividly protesting against it at first, by not placing my hand over my heart, then by not saying anything at all, and finally, not standing all together.  It had to be primary age because in middle school, the pledge wasn’t played over the loud speakers, and in high school there was upheaval about the word “God” being a part of the pledge.  So, at an early age, I realized I wasn’t American.  It was if I already knew that “dream” didn’t include me.  No one told me to protest, no one said to me directly that I wasn’t protected by it’s promises.  But somehow I was aware that liberty and justice did not include me…

As I reflect on my life as a citizen of the United States, I would have to be blind to say that I don’t have it relatively better than perhaps most people on the planet.  Even though I struggle financially, and I don’t have healthcare, or even my own place at this very moment in time, I have the basics.  I have hot, running water, I have literally all the food I can eat.  I have an education and even a full-time, decent paying job.  But what I don’t have (and what many others don’t have as well) is a guarantee that tomorrow will be the same.  When my campus job is over, I’m technically homeless.  If I fall ill today, I can’t go to my physician, and if I go to the emergency room, my credit score will plummet even further into the depths.  I can’t go to the movies, or out for ice cream because I’m waiting for a paycheck (after three and a half weeks of work).  These things are all miniscule in the eyes of many people my age across the world.  But what this does represent is a false sense of freedom, and an immeasurable injustice.

Why is it that we celebrate our Independence, anyway?  Yes, we outsmarted the King and found a new home to call our own, but it was never ours to begin with.  So in this case, one man’s (or nation’s) freedom is another man’s bondage?  Our “forefathers” came to this country with fine garb and livestock, while my people came in chains.  Talk about independence!  The indigenous people of the Americas, those to whom this land rightfully belonged, became savages and squatters in their own home.  Talk about independence!  Women, who bore the brunt of population growth, didn’t have much choice in the matter to begin with.  And we talk about independence?

So the way I see it, what we are truly celebrating on this fourth day of July is conquest.  We loot and we pillage for our own self-gain.  We don’t care who we have to step on, spit on, or kill to gain our personal freedom.  And really, our liberty comes at a cost for others.

So today, as I listen to the slap-happy banter about cookouts, fireworks, and freedom, I can only pretend to believe in the American Dream.  It’s the greatest fantasy of all time!  I don’t mean to kill anyone’s dream of one day actually enjoying freedom, but sadly, that day and that time isn’t amongst us.  And to those few that are experiencing the sweet taste of liberty, I hope you paused today, and contemplated the cost…

 


Chimamanda Adichie: The danger of a single story

Inspired by Nigerian history and tragedies all but forgotten by recent generations of westerners, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novels and stories are jewels in the crown of diasporan literature.

Why you should listen to her:

In Nigeria, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel Half of a Yellow Sun has helped inspire new, cross-generational communication about the Biafran war. In this and in her other works, she seeks to instill dignity into the finest details of each character, whether poor, middle class or rich, exposing along the way the deep scars of colonialism in the African landscape.

Adichie’s newest book, The Thing Around Your Neck, is a brilliant collection of stories about Nigerians struggling to cope with a corrupted context in their home country, and about the Nigerian immigrant experience.

Adichie builds on the literary tradition of Igbo literary giant Chinua Achebe—and when she found out that Achebe liked Half of a Yellow Sun, she says she cried for a whole day. What he said about her rings true: “We do not usually associate wisdom with beginners, but here is a new writer endowed with the gift of ancient storytellers.”

“When she turned 10 and read Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, about the clash between Igbo tradition and the British colonial way of life, everything changed: ‘I realized that people who looked like me could live in books.’ She has been writing about Africa ever since.”

Washington Post


Sunshine and Happiness

Before you  read the following graphs, consider this:

What is Happiness?

hap•pi•ness \’ha-pē-nis\

1. State of well-being characterized by emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.

[happy about]: having a sense of confidence in or satisfaction with

[happy with]: satisfied with the quality or standard of

 

 

(click image to see larger)

 

 


O meu Brasil, eu voltarei

It’s been two years, almost to date, since my last trip to Brasil.  In Bahia state sits a city with so much culture, so much passion, so much life.   That city is called Salvador.  It’s no coincidence that Salvador means savior in Portuguese, as I and so many others have found ourselves there.  I was awakened at a time in my life when I least expected to be asleep.  The first time I visited was in 2007, as an undergraduate student.  I had so many ideas, questions, and concerns when I left, and I knew it wouldn’t be too much longer before I returned.  In 2009 I had my second chance, and I took FULL advantage.  I met people that have truly changed my life, did things that I would both brag about and keep secret, touched a few lives, but was transformed by those who touched me, learned what “dancing” truly meant, ate like a queen of the Jungle, and connected with my roots.  And I’m not even Brasilian by nationality!  But when it was time to come back to the states, I was Brasilian, by experience.

This entry is not to recapture my trip to Bahia, but rather, to connect the events that have occurred thereafter, which only proves to me that Brasil is calling my name…

Teaching- In Salvador I was a volunteer English Teacher for a non-profit.  Because I had taught Kindergarten prior to my arrival, I thought I would be in a perfect place to reach my new students on the most basic level possible.  I was wrong.  My teaching style, and everything I was trained to do was challenged.  I didn’t get it right, but even more profound, when I returned to the states, I didn’t believe in what I had been taught, and that belief continued to crumble (and is still crumbling!) to the point where now, I no longer “teach”, I facilitate in a new environment, where my role is to unschool and allow students the freedom to develop their own path.  I am anxious to revisit the Brasilian classroom with this newfound understanding!

Friends- I made some lifelong friend in Brasil, and miss them dearly.  But even here in the states, I’m meeting the most unlikely people, like the governor of Bahia, and his wife!  I was in line at the beauty counter in an Indianapolis Walgreens when I met the first lady Fátima Mendonça!

Diet/Exercise- Since leaving Brasil, the way I eat has been altered.  Fresh fruit is a staple for me, but particularly, the tropical fruit I ate in Brasil.  The way I cook is also different, and I can tell my palette has matured for things I wouldn’t have eaten pre-departure.

These days I also find myself more active, and have incorporated different styles of dancing into my routine.  But what fascinates me the most is how quickly I pick out all-things-Brasil when I work out, go out dancing, or listen to music.  The connections that I make today seem profound, like everything leads back to that enchanted place.

Love- I see love differently today.  In Brasil, people are flowing with love.  Before I really understood Brasilians, I must admit that I believed what everyone else was saying:  Brasilians are hyper-sexualized, sensual, too free with themselves, etc.  But what I understand today is that the people who made those generalizations were not in touch with true love.  I believe you can’t put a cap on true love, and that when you feel it, you can’t help but share it with as many people as you can.  So all the touching, the closeness, the openness that we see many Brasilians demonstrate, actually comes from this awareness.  I can only hope to be as comfortable with sharing my love with more people.  What are we afraid of?

What I also realize today, is that this awareness and affinity that I have separates me from some, but brings me closer to others.  It seems like the people I meet today are either inspired by my story, or also have a story to tell!

My goal is to return within a year, which is a little past my previous goal, but because I know the Universe conspires, I know the timing will be right.  I want to return to uncover some truths that I believe awaiting me.  I want to share this place with my loverboy as well, in hopes that we will be transformed together…


Zombie Nation and the Unnatural Selection

Charles and his Darwinism 

I was doing a little research yesterday, brought about due to my restless brain waves and reminiscing about my college days studying Anthropology.  I recalled Social Darwinism– Charles Darwin’s ideas on evolution, natural selection, and the survival of the fittest– and how at that time I thought many of his theories to be racist.  Well Yesterday, I couldn’t remember why I felt this way, so I decided to have a look.  Much to my surprise, I was taken aback with how many of his ideas I actually now agree with, including his views on the institution of religion, as well as how different species survive and adapt.  However, I can’t say that Darwin and I are soul brother and sister.  His life of privilege is what I believe prevented his notions from being fully translated across human lines: social, ethnic/racial, or economic situations, as they were all relevant to his lifestyle and his understanding of the world, which were arguably limited.  And I also don’t believe that Eugenics is the means of determining who is fit and who is doomed (as I know many of his ideologies were used to promote and support racist (among many other) theories about the “chosen ones”, and how to “clean up” the gene pool)).  BUT I have to say that he was obviously on to something that is proving to have detrimental implications on societies today.

This book is considered to be the foundation of evolutionary biology.

My question is this:  In today’s evolving world, who are the true [human] survivors?  As I sit around watching “smart people TV” (Discovery, History, and Green Planet channels, oh, and sometimes CNN) as Dimitri Snowden likes to call it, I’m piecing together my own hypothesis, one that I’ve always believed in the depths of me, but could never truly express or even understand like I do today.  This hypothesis is that the most marginalized communities of the world–the ones where very little technology is available, the natural world is a playground, and the knowledge of the earth takes center stage– are the ones most equipped to survive.  This hypothesis has not yet been tested, but I’m not completely sure it even needs to.

It both excites and startles me when I think about getting back to the basics.  What does this even mean for a person like me, who, although has never lived a lavish life, comes from very humble beginnings, and isn’t even exactly sure what the next chapter holds, is still determined to embrace a necessary, modest, and rewarding existence, honoring and caring for the earth before it’s too late.  Sounds crazy right?  Well not if you look at the all the zombies lurking in your backyard.

I wonder if Darwin knew that one day, natural selection would no longer be, natural?

Today, aside from the celebrity lifestyle options of designer drugs and botox, there are even more frightening concoctions on the market aimed at making humans not feel a thing.  And we might need it for what Mother Nature has in store for us in the coming days.

I’m talking about prescription drugs and over-the-counter remedies for everything!  From headache and depression, to birth control and bleaching cream.  The end result is a doped up population of look-alikes and feel-alikes, dangerous video game playing, gun carrying, cough syrup drinking, war praising, rape imposing, skin bleaching, tan craving, pill-popping, eyes wide shut, can’t tell the difference between fantasy and reality synthetic human that is probably you or your next door neighbor.

Feel something?  There’s a Drug for that!

Nowadays our children are born with disorder, and with disorders that are thought to be genetic, but were never even considered during Darwin’s day.  I don’t know about you, but this thought, as bleak and dismal as it sounds, is the very society that we are living in.  Walking, talking ZOMBIES!  I often times find it extremely difficult to have meaningful conversations with even my closest counterparts because the awareness of what is happening to us as a species isn’t recognized.  I don’t mean to be a pessimist, especially considering that I do believe there is hope, but I’m not sure if this hope resides in our current leadership (and I’m speaking beyond President Obama, and the United States of America).  I think it will take the very people who fall victim to this confusion and illusion, to take a healthy dose of reality, perhaps having everything  they’ve worked for (including their houses, neighborhoods, and schools) crumble before them.  It may even take abandonment, loneliness, and the very things we call disorder(s) to destroy us, before we learn our lesson.

There is no hope for survival if we can no longer feel the pain.  If we are numb to life, we will surely burn in the fire.   It burns me up when I think about how genetically modified we are as humans.  How synthetic our existence has become.  As a child you don’t think about these kinds of things, you just do what you are told, believe what you hear, and take each day as it comes, until one day, you are programmed.  But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Those that are “marginalized”, humans that still have the knowledge of the earth, and live in ways that we in the “developed” world consider primitive, savage, or uncivilized hold a secret weapon that may be as natural as it gets.  But this weapon isn’t attained by colonization, and it  isn’t attained by participant observation (as Anthropologists would do).  It’s a simple as making a decision to minimize your synthetic intake.  That’s a start.  Recognizing that depression isn’t something to be medicated, it’s something to work through.  It’s related to a deeper issue, one that can be conquered by living.  Synthetically releasing hormones that are supposed to occur naturally means we need to alter our situations, not dope up on drugs.  Life is not supposed to be all roses.  Things happen, people get sick, people die.  And unfortunately, we experience things that may break us down.  That’s the gift of being human.  What purpose does it serve to live a long life if you haven’t felt anything along the journey?

This will work for YOU!

Now, I’m not naïve or jaded to believe that phenomena such as the cancer epidemic, global warming, and extinction of species are issues that we shouldn’t combat, or that education is indoctrination and all kids should be removed from school.  I just think we need a new approach, and while many people are in no mood to change, it shouldn’t discourage others not to.

A few ways to get started:

1.) Know the issues– what is happening around you, in your world, and in someone else’s.  You can’t turn on Fox and expect to know everything.  Get the other people’s facts too, and make your own informed decision. Be curious and discover for yourself!

2.) A mind and body to do– If you hear it, and you think it’s terrible, do something.  We often times flip on the news and say: “awww…” or “glad it’s not me”.  But the reality is it could be you, and what a lonely reality if no one comes to your aid.

3.) Create your desired lifestyle-  It’s one thing to say, “I wish I could look or feel like that”, and something completely different to start living.  You don’t have to be rich to be healthy, be in shape, or help others.  Want to live an organic lifestyle?  Start with just buying organic eggs!  Want a new dog?  Adopt one!  There are solutions to every problem.  I didn’t know how to get my mom to fully understand that what we put on our bodies isn’t always safe, so I bought her a small care package: sulfate-free shampoo, natural crystalline deodorant (bye bye anti-perspirant!) and paraben-free lotion.  And it’s all starting to sink in!

4.) Love yourself and others–  As cliché as it may sound, it’s probably the most important thing you can do for the planet.  Love inspires peace, peace inspires harmony.  If there is harmony, then Zombies can’t exist!  We have to be one with the universe if we expect to reap the benefits.  We have to know that death is a natural part of life, and that we can’t erase age or outlive ourselves.  This understanding will help us to live in the now.  Love will give us back the life we’ve taken for granted…

5.) Prepare- somethings are out of our control, while others can be prevented.  Have a plan, even if you never have to use it.  It can be as simple as a fire escape route, or as elaborate as escaping an alien attack.  I’m just kidding! But whatever your fear or anxiety is centered on, having a plan to survive it can definitely help.  Especially if you live in an area prone to disaster.  Your plan can simply be related to preparing for a great future.  Simply put, having a plan of action often leads to significant gains.  I think it has something to do with expecting of yourself:-)

and lastly

6.) Only bite off what you can chew-  Excess of anything can lead to undesirable results.  Too much alcohol= abuse and liver sorosis.  Too much cursing= limited vocabulary.  And Too much fishing= decline of sealife (which alters the ecosystem significantly and has horrible affects for humans too!).  You get my point.

Perhaps I’m an ideologist, some might even call me paranoid.  But one thing is for certain, I refuse to be a Zombie and risk my chances of surviving my so called LIFE!


Moqueca and Farofa: Bringing the taste of Brazil home

Moqueca and Farofa: Bringing the taste of Brazil home.


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