2017 in Review: A Year of Blooming

2017 in Review: A Year of Blooming

2017 has been quite the year!!! I made a lot of noise. I’m hoping 2018 will be a lot more quiet though.

This year:

I released kin.DREAD, my second book, into the world – a 200+ pg book that’s essentially a memoir interspersed with poems, reflections and stories told through the lens of kinship & dread. I am thankful that more than 100 people have a copy of the book since it’s been out in May.

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More info about here:

I had the opportunity to tour pre () and post-release () of the book across 3 states and 12 cities – a total of 20 shows.

kindread book tours

I’m still ever so thankful for the generous venues – Laredo Border Slam, Write About Now, Mic Check Poetry, Houston VIP Slam, Blah Poetry Spot, Puro Slam, Coast 2 Soul, Slam New Orleans, Austin Poetry Slam, Poetic Underground, Modern Muse Poetry, among many others – that gave me space to share my stories.

Outside of the official tours for the book, I had other opportunities as well to read from or share poems from the in Houston, Prairie View and Shreveport. Thanks to , Marvin Smith (Notebook Assassins) and Gerald Cedillo.

I also spoke/shared poetry at some specially curated events – CHI St. Luke’s Health–Sugar Land Hospital for their MLK Day event, for their Harvey-inspired event, and the Black Heritage Celebration @ Killough Middle School.

Even outside that, I lent my voice alongside this generation of artists using their art as a means to resist. Thanks to the vision & leadership of Lupe Mendez (with the writers resist events) & (with her work with ) + 100 Thousand Poets for Change…

As if being ‘a part of’ wasn’t enough (& I guess it wasn’t), I got the chance to cocurate a performance series with my choreographer friend, Rebecca French for that gave space to queer, white, black, female, Christian, (Muslim, Mexican-)American, immigrant voices

Also, I taught poetry (workshops with the Partnership for the Advancement and Immersion of Refugees, Eclectic Truth, & a class for two weeks with Writers in the Schools (WITS), was part of panels, and competed in some major poetry competitions (Bayou City Slam, Red Stick Regional, and SouthWest ShootOut Regional – where I got third place)

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Also, my work was published/featured in:

Glass Mountain // (Volume #18 Spring 17),

Houston Chronicle // (http://www.houstonchronicle.com/…/After-Harvey-Poems-from-t… …)

Squawk Back // (http://www.thesquawkback.com/2017/04/falomo.html …),

Pressure Gauge Press // (https://pressuregaugepress.com/pressure-gauge-journal-issu…/ …),

Write About Now // (https://www.youtube.com/playlist… …)

&

Houston VIP Slam // (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Su2wJUPufIk …)

I think that’s it. & yo, I did all these poetry things while working full-time as a school psychologist. & yo, I got paid for doing something I’d still do even if I wasn’t paid for it.

Anyways, all that to say don’t let nobody tell you what you can’t achieve in a day, week, month, year. Ever.

Aside from poetry, a lot of life happened. I was mostly in a state of constant overwhelm. I passed my licensure exam after the 3rd try. Harvey happened. That destabilized me a whole lot – especially mentally. Especially in regards to doing my day to day job. Many people stepped in – gifts and monetary donations from individuals, venues and organizations, ears to listen to vents, arms open wide for much needed hugs, doors opened, books mailed to replace the ones I lost in the flood… Yeah. And of course, there were other personal challenges as well, most of which I didn’t feel equipped to deal with.

But STILL, here I am.

My word for the year 2017 was BLOOM, and boy did I! Blooming is a beautiful thing when it happens. However, people just see the bright of the yellow and the red and purple. They often don’t see the dirt, the dew, etc. that allowed that blooming. And so, too, I am thankful for those who were both shade and water/soil and hands when I needed it most.

To say the least, 2017 has been a busy year. It’s why I had to take December to retreat. & I definitely as heck am looking forward to more of that in 2018.

As I’ve shared the word for the upcoming year towards the end of the last few years, mine for 2018 is STILL. I hope you all find that, in whatever way it might look like, for yourselves as well.

STILL here (at your service),

Ayokunle.

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How can I support you?

How can I support you?

So, how can I support you?

You might be wondering, what does this have to do with dreams? – ’cause, for the purpose of this blog, it always has to come back to that, you know? Well, here’s an attempt:

You have friends. Or even, there is…YOU. And you all have dreams that you’ll like to accomplish but don’t have the expertise, or the resources, or the reach, or access to make it a reality. What do you do? Give up the dream? Go in search of people who can help you, who can support you? What if they can’t? What if they can but just don’t think much of your dream? These are questions…

Now, imagine someone actually comes up to you and asks you:

So, how can I support you?

What do you say? How do you respond? Well, if you’re me, you’re speechless for a few seconds. It’s unexpected. It’s rare. Which is why when I was asked, I was stunned.

Eventually, when I could find the words to say, I said something about a new project I am currently working on. But, I’m not sure that I actually answered the question. I’ve been thinking about it since then.

So, do tell, how would you have answered that question, fellow dreamers? Also, have you heard a question that left you similarly stunned recently? Do share!

And here’s a challenge: Go do the same – and mean it! – for someone you know. It just might make a world of difference to them (and their  dreams).

Happy New Year + Feature in Local Houston Magazine

Happy New Year + Feature in Local Houston Magazine

Not a bad way to start the new year, eh?

To say the least, I am honored to be on the cover with these individuals. I know two people on there – Karen (center middle row) and Ilham (left top row), and reading the write up on the others, I can easily say that I am in good company. Please, head on over to Pages 62 and 63 to read more on (and also share) their stories. Link here: http://www.joomag.com/magazine/january-2016/0814543001451325863?short

Ayokunle Falomo. Local Houston Magazine January 2016

It is customary for me to have a word (or two, as was the case last year – create + partnership) to guide me through the year, and as I shared in the previous post, my word for 2016 is TRUST – aided by courage and authenticity.

I really do hope to hear a lot more from you all this year. So, I’d love to know (if you don’t mind sharing), what is yours?

Here’s to a wonderful 2016, and I hope it’s off to a great start for you too.

2015 – A Dreamer’s Year In Review

2015 – A Dreamer’s Year In Review

Just as much as I did in 2014, I fought…to live. to live life to the fullest. Many things happened that attempted to stop me, that made me want to seek to embrace the hopelessness that often accompanies a dissatisfied life, rather than the hope I know that’s proven to be helpful in navigating my world as a dreamer. But, I fought.

I was dissatisfied, discouraged, disappointed…a lot in 2015.  I had to learn how to fight…for joy, in spite of…

It was not an easy year. It’s quite interesting though that as I looked through the pictures I took this year, though they were not in any way flashy, they tell a different story. They tell a story of someone doing a hell of a job achieving his dreams…

However, the moments I did not (or rather, could not dare) take pictures of tell a totally different story. They tell the story of a man who struggled, who failed, who fell…and who sometimes didn’t want to get up. They tell the story of a man who gave up…often a little too easily, and sometimes, not nearly enough. A huge portion of my 24th year – before my 25th birthday in September – was spent in 2015, and I wrote/said a few words about how tough it was in this post.

The last few months of 2015 compensated for how hard this year has been, but the “harvest” (so to speak) still wasn’t enough for me to understand why life had to forcibly teach me certain lessons.

To finish off the year on a good note, a friend of mine hosted a vision board party for the year 2016 a few days ago, and we each came up with a list of things we wanted to really accomplish in 2015 that we failed at. Mine below:

– get sponsorship deals
– get paid for speaking
– sell 1500 copies of my book: “thread, this wordweaver must!
– pay off school loans
– do a better job with posting on this blog. I failed to keep the promise I made at the beginning of the year.
– and, (I did not write this one down though) get a poem into a journal

Trust me, there were many more that I didn’t share. I just felt these were some of the most important personal failures.

After we finished, we decided to talk about why some of these goals were not accomplished, and see how we could, going forward into the new year, do a better job. Some words came to mind as we shared, and we put them on a board (below)

excuses for 2015

I have no promises to make for the upcoming year. We’ll just have to see how it goes.

And as is my tradition to choose a word for each year, the word that’ll be guiding me in 2016 is: trust. A lot of it! This trust, as I understand it, will be aided by courage and authenticity.

For 2015, it was two words: partnership + create. And I believe I succeeded in doing that.

If I can make one promise, you’ll hear from me soon.

@SadeChampagne on “the power in the middle”

Here’s a little piece of encouragement worth sharing, written by Sade Champagne, who is no stranger to this blog. She writes:

Don’t give up in the middle! Life is not always so glamorous during the in-between times. We often only see people’s beginnings (if that) and where they end up. But we hardly ever see the big chunk that many people get stuck in. Sometimes you might spend a lot of time or feel stagnant in the middle. In the doorway. You’re not where you started, but you don’t see the physical manifestation of your dream. It is precisely at this time you must decide to stay the course.

It’s OK to rest (I highly recommend living in rest), it’s OK to re-strategize or start over- but whatever you do DON’T THROW IN THE TOWEL! There is so much that takes place in the middle. You learn how to persevere and be steadfast- you can’t teach that. It can only be experienced. It can only be lived. You learn how to encourage yourself. You learn how to live from your inner being and not solely your emotions. You grow stronger in your dream. People, situations and places are being prepared and coming into alignment at the right time so that nothing will be lacking. You learn how to see things from expansive perspectives.

Every dream is for an appointed time- some for now, some for later. Just because you don’t physically see it today doesn’t mean it isn’t happening or won’t happen. Doesn’t mean it’s not fate! So suit up, get some popcorn and become well acquainted with the middle!! There is purpose in it. There is good stuff and life there too. Nothing and no one will be wasted.

#DreamerDoerProfile: Meet Sade (@SadeChampagne)

#DreamerDoerProfile: Meet Sade (@SadeChampagne)
 Short Bio:

Sade Champagne is an award winning professional musical artist, performer, inspirational speaker, entrepreneur, mentor, and Dream Coach. She is the Executive Producer, Creator, and Director of almost 150 popular charity events like Ventura County’s Annual Rising Star Dance Competition, Ventura County’s Vocal Superstar Competition, Grace Rallys and Love Never Fails.

Her events and performances have been attended by almost 40,000 people. She has been featured on many press and media outlets such as TV Guide Channel, Teen Nick, Acorn Newspaper, Ventura County Star and Q1047. She has sold out events, shared the stage with several Celebrities and supports charities and nonprofits all over the world such as American Cancer’s Society Relay For Life, BrittiCares International, Destined To Live The Good Life Children’s Orphanage in Zambia, Thousand Oaks Teen Center, Boys & Girls Club, People of the Second Chance and LA Dream Center’s Human Trafficking Shelter. Sade is currently headlining her #PowerOfADreamTour, mentoring students at Pacific High and Ventura High schools through her Superstars N Training Program and leading a free support group for dreamers and visionaries titled Dream Catchers.

She is an in-demand speaker, performer and mentor traveling all over California throughout the month. Her biggest dreams are to encourage others and help people’s dreams to come true.

You can find more information about her online: on Twitter (@SadeChampagne). Instagram (@IAmSadeChampagne). Facebook. and on her website.

 __________ . ________________________ . ___________
 – What does it mean to be a dreamer?

To me being a dreamer is about taking risks, transparency, consistency and persistence. You have to be willing to stick it out and keep showing up even when no one believes in you and you feel that you’re stuck in the same place. A dreamer has vision and sees everything and everyone with purpose and intention. We realize that everything is weaving together to help tell our beautiful story. There are no wasted moments.

 – What’s the most challenging thing about identifying as one?

2 of the most challenging things about being a dreamer is when you started out with someone and along the way you no longer seem to be on the same page. You want someone/people to share your dreams, passions and aspirations with, and it’s a struggle when people become distracted and fall along the way. You have to stay true to your vision and stick to your guns no matter what. These dreams and visions have been my most loyal friends since I was about 4 years old. I will not abandon them for anyone or anything. One of the other biggest challenges about being a dreamer is not being able to control the outcome or results. Even though we give our all, we prepare, we plan, we hope and we persist- we believe, we cannot control the destination. That’s the greatest risk in being a dreamer, BUT I have learned over the years that it’s better to spend a life doing and being what you love and not “make it”, than to live your life in the shadows and be full of could’ve, should’ve, would’ves at the end of your life. Failure is not the worst thing in the world, for I believe that regret is a far greater tragedy.

 – What’s the most rewarding?

The most rewarding things about being a dreamer are seeing people live in the glorious destinies and seeing a dream that started in my heart manifest into the natural. It overwhelms my spirit with gladness and gratitude every time!!

 – Tell us the dream (or dreams) you’re currently chasing after at the moment, what you’re doing to make sure they are not merely dreams, and how others can be of help… 

My biggest dreams are to help other people live their dreams and to travel the world sharing radical grace, hope, encouragement and joy to others. Currently I am doing this through all of my events, performances and mentoring. I desire to finish my debut album this year full of original songs and spoken word poetry and release it for the world to hear. I create every day, but some dreams are meant for a specific time. I focus on what is in my hands today, and that is how I stay moving forward and not feeling overwhelmed. Thank you to everyone who supports me through social media, my live events and shows, praying and encouraging me.

 – And lastly, since part of being a dreamer is contemplating answers to what if/if I could questions, “if you could relive any moment in your life, which moment would it be and why?”

If I could relive any moment in my life, it would be all the years I spent living in other people’s opinions of me. I don’t necessarily regret the past, but with what I know now, I wouldn’t have spent so much time wearing a mask. These days I am a fierce believer in transparency and not compromising or watering down my message and vision. I wouldn’t have invested so much time in conditional and exhausting relationships. The wonderful thing is now that I know these truths I get to live from my being, from grace- no longer apologizing for who I am and what I believe. I am free to be me!

Thanks for having me Ayokunle and thanks for being such an encouragement to me. The way you dream, the way you communicate and care are life changing.

#DreamerDoerProfile: Meet Tosinger (@Tosinger)

#DreamerDoerProfile: Meet Tosinger (@Tosinger)

Short Bio:

Tosinger is an Atlanta based sweet spirited indie artist, an inspirational AfroSoul/Folk Singer Songwriter. She is also a Writer/Poet and a Creative Arts Consultant. An eclectic woman of the arts with a warm personality and matchless passion, her message remains inspirational and uplifting. Her vocal essence & sound has been described as soulful and African, soothing and calming, her sublime voice displays a simple conveyance of heartfelt richness and freshness. She draws influences from her Yoruba cultural background, afrobohemian earthiness and an eclectic mix of artists including Mariam Makeba, Angelique Kidjo, Tracy Chapman, Whitney Houston, Nina Simone to name a few.

She released ‘FINALLY’ an EP of 6 tracks early 2012 and in 2013 digitally published – The ‘AfroSpire’ Demo project – a collection of songs with African sounds, Yoruba sayings and lyrics delivered in a contemporary style. She is currently working on her debut album due to be released in 2015 tagged ‘Organically Singing’

She is very much on the way to warming herself into the hearts of lovers of organic music globally. Tosinger continues to brand herself uniquely in the African soul/world music arena while her message remains consistently inspirational.

For more, visit www.tosinger.com. Follow her on Twitter @tosinger. & Like on Facebook/TosingerSings. She also blogs at www.tosingersblog.com.

_______________ . ____________ . _________________

Hello.

I am Tosinger, Afrosoul Singer~Songwriter, Social Artpreneur and Creative Brand Consultant.

 – What does it mean to be a dreamer?

I have to say I am highly honored to have my words featured on this inspiring blog, it’s a great feeling to have your ‘dream~ability’ recognized by others.

Just to give you, the reader some insight, I’d like to share my response when I was asked to be today’s Guest Contributor on the ‘Of Dreams and Deeds’ blog I wrote Ayo –

“You couldn’t have reached out to a more relevant person, a fellow ‘dreaming doer’ :). I am one who surely believes that the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. My business outfit is called ‘Dreamweavers Entertainment’, my annual afromusic touring concert project is tagged ‘AfroDreamFest’, I have an upcoming e-commerce shop of artsy handmade work and future projects tagged ‘afrodreaming’, my sign off on my blog is … “Beautifully Dreaming, Positively Doing”… and so on and so forth.. need I say more? 🙂

So now that my qualifications are out of the way, let me tell you what being a dreamer is really, really all about. The tags are nothing if it’s not a reflection of the inside, expressed on the outside. It doesn’t just stop at branding projects with the “Dream” tag, it starts from the mind. To dream is to be in a continuous state of consciousness of “I can” — “I can do this”, “I can make an impact”, “I can add value”. To dream is not to only imagine or envision, it is to actually step out on a mission, no matter how little, slow or (un)forthcoming the steps seem to be. A dreamer sticks to their guns despite and in spite of, not seeing the end of the whole ladder but stepping on the rung.

A dreamer is a courageous individual who foresees the future beyond the present. I daresay a dreamer is a prophet. Dreamers are actually exercising faith on a spiritual dimension and as the scriptures say, without faith it is impossible to ‘see’ God. As I am of the Christian faith, I esteem the words of the Holy Bible. In Romans 4:17, the story of Abraham: “As it is written: I have made you a father of many nations. He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—in the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not” – God is being referred to as one who calls the things that are NOT, as though they WERE…

A dreamer, I daresay again, is exhibiting the characteristics of God, our creator therefore he/she is not an ordinary being. Dreamers are more spiritual than the world cares to admit, and of a higher inner being and essence than the average individual.

However, true dreamers don’t just sit and wish and daydream, true dreamers are visionaries and go-getters. As confirmed in the excerpt of a great book that I’ll highly recommend if you are still looking to discover your purpose or vision for life – It’s titled The Vision Guided Life

  Tosinger dreamer doer profile - every visionary is a dreamer...

 – What’s the most challenging thing about identifying as one?

One of the challenges of being a dreamer is being considered stupid, foolish or just simply unrealistic by others. This is why, depending on the circumstances, it is not always wise to share one’s dreams to every and any one in the beginning during the seed stage. Getting other “believers” on board, people who won’t scoff at your dream, a team who can see where you are going, people I refer to as ‘destiny helpers’ are few and far between, not very easy to find but they are out there if you look carefully and are at the right place at the right time. The energy you put out will typically attract the right people.

Another challenge is the emotional fatigue that comes with delay of realization. Time, mostly is a good friend, but given our human nature, we tend to get impatient. Considering someone like me about to hit my 40’s, I get worried that my dreams are not being fulfilled yet, while I have my strength and youth in the ‘afternoon’ of my life on earth, so to speak. And how do I deal with that? I just recognize that negative thought that seems to pull me back and replace it with something positive, that way I can escape the feelings of “Am I good enough?”, “Is it really worth it?”, “Is it still possible?”. I also read up on inspiring individuals who made things happen at different stages of their lives.

Funding also, is mostly always one of the biggest challenges for dreamers, unless one is born with a silver spoon with a trust fund to boast, getting the money to pursue one’s dreams is a high hurdle to jump. In my experience, I have found out and it is quiet ironic that dreamers who would be of a larger and major impact to their society are the ones usually strapped for cash to get things rolling. But we have to start where we are, with the little we have. True dreamers are frugal, and any income they have is usually used towards their passion. They would sacrifice self to fulfill a dream.

 – What’s the most rewarding?

The most rewarding part? When the dreams begin to realize, materialize and take shape. This is the most rewarding feeling of all. When you’ve done the work and it starts paying off. When other people start benefiting from your dream, as your dream shouldn’t be for yourself only. The value is immeasurable. The funny thing is dreams start getting fulfilled the time you least expect it to, it is not a measure of physical time in calendar moments (chronos) but kairos time (The word kairos is an ancient Greek word meaning “opportunity,” “season,” or “fitting time.”) Consistency is the key. Never stop, keep going. Never give up, keep pushing. “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” – Nelson Mandela

 – What dream(s) am I currently chasing after at the moment?

I have a passion for music, the arts and my continent of Africa. So my dream is inevitably tied to these 3. I am currently working on new music (new album titled ‘Organically Singing’ due to be released Summer of 2015) and the kick off of my NGO Adopt a Guitar Inc (for more info, see www.adoptaguitar.com ) – a nonprofit that is geared towards providing music instruments and education to naturally talented, gifted underprivileged youth in African countries who need music tools and development but otherwise cannot afford them. My ultimate dream is to have an ‘Afrodreaming’ artist residency institute on a large campus on the continent to discover and groom upcoming talents who need an avenue and platform of expression.

For now, I’m taking it one day at a time. Slowly and steadily to win the race. Rome was not built in a day. A dream starts with a seed. And it will grow. In the words of Mother Teresa, “We know only too well that what we are doing is nothing more than a drop in the ocean. But if the drop were not there, the ocean would be missing something.”

 – What am I doing to make sure it’s not merely a dream
& how can others can be of help?

To get there, I make sure I am on a daily creative roll, doing something everyday that counts towards the realization of my dream. I perform on ground, write new music and I recently launched an indiegogo campaign for “Organically Singing + Adopt A Guitar” which can be found at this link: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/organically-singing-musically-giving/x/390330. I would appreciate your support.

 – And lastly, since part of being a dreamer is contemplating answers to what if/if I could questions, a fun question to answer was “what if you had 25-hour days (while everyone else continued to have 24-hour days), what would you do with the extra time?”

My 25th hour of a 25 hour day will probably find me doing something artsy or music related, listening to, writing lyrics or poetry and/or singing (maybe with my two boys). If I had the means and I could travel to another part of the world I haven’t seen, I would book a flight on that hour J. I have a thing for nature so I would probably also love to lay and roll in a vast meadow or dig my feet in the sand by the beach side, or stand under a cool waterfall and breathe out all the air from the hustle of the previous 24 hours.

I leave you with this quote: “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world” – Harriet Tubman

Let’s dream in living colors…because if not, why not?

Beautifully Dreaming… Positively Doing….

Tosinger