HEARTS WILL NEVER BE PRACTICAL, UNTIL THEY ARE MADE UNBREAKABLE. ~ The Tin Man, from the Wizard of OZ
I am Brenda Stapleton, a professional writer and social media enthusiast. Adaptability is my best characteristic, and humility is my worst. I am the founding columnist and blogger of "from the park bench". As a content writer, copywriter and technical writer, communication and procedural consultant, I have had the honor and the privilege of working with a very diverse group of subject matter experts. I am a former educator with a Louisiana teaching certification from (ULM) University of Louisiana at Monroe; a former registered nurse working under the ULM-RN program; a personal trainer, certified through the (AFA) American Fitness Association; and a (POST) Police Officer Standards Training law enforcement professional in the State of Louisiana, I am well-versed in the Arts and Sciences. I hold a BA and MA in Criminal Justice with minors in Sociology and Psychology, and credited graduate work in English, as well as work pursuant to the Ph.D. program of Integrating Technology, Learning, and Psychology.
I grew up in Columbia, Louisiana in the same house, where my parents still live today. I began my life literally, stumbling every day of the way. I was fitted for my first set of braces on my legs, just so I could walk. I would wear braces on my legs, until the age of four, and orthopedic shoes until the age of six. Thinking the past was behind me, I took the world in leaps and bounds, until at the peak of my career, I faced yet another set-back, only this one, left me with a neurological injury that was irreversible. Since then, I have continuously chased a career, where my passion for creativity would be fueled by the fervor of sobriety. Armed with a sense of humor, a purpose in life, and a heart full of dreams, I took the road less traveled, compliments of Robert Frost, and I’ve learned many things along the way.
I’ve learned the day is scarier than the night, for you will see the harm that befalls you. I’ve learned unconditional love is never stronger than in the very young, and in the very old. I’ve learned no matter what emotion a person is experiencing, a cuddly puppy can make you re-evaluate so much. I’ve learned the only certainty in life, is death- be ready. I’ve learned the most experienced emotions are forgiveness, grief and hope, and I’ve learned that patience is the most taught virtue.
In my free time, I enjoy cycling, golfing, reading, swimming, and practicing yoga. It is no wonder my favorite places to be in this world are at the edge of the sand, with the ocean waves kissing my toes, or chasing my footprints away; or riding my bike through the park under the trees full of multi-colored leaves in the fall, with the wind blowing gently at my face. I find myself deeply overwhelmed by nature. It’s the fleeting moments when I am caught in a rainstorm, or snowflakes begin to fall, and melt as soon as they touch the warmth of skin. Watching over a cocoon, as it changes into a butterfly, or a rose bud into bloom. It is almost like watching your children grow.
I am a published author of articles and blogs. I am currently writing my first book. My two greatest accomplishments call me momma. These two beautiful ladies are inspirational to me, each in their own way, having faced their own giants, and still stand so strong. They are learning about life now, and are actively seeking their purpose in this world, through the pursuit of their own dreams. With the past behind me, my footing is a bit steadier, and I too, am focusing on what comes. Leaving my old dreams behind me, I am concentrating on writing, and continuing on with whatever comes my way, with pen and paper in hand.
The first thing I should say about New Zealand is 24 hours is not long enough to get acquainted with all this beautiful country has to offer. I have not taken this trip, but it is on the list of things to do as early as next year. You see, I have a 16-year-old daughter who loves necessarily, all things New Zealand. That love started with a healthy respect for Karl Urban and continued with the invitation to Middle-Earth from the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit Trilogies. Since then, I have had to gain facts and other information about New Zealand to discover if this might be something entertaining.
The one thing I have found about New Zealand that draws me in is that it is uncrowded. That is such an incredible change of pace in travel. Normally, wherever you go, there’s no room to move. Not so, in this beautiful place, even the weather is fantastic. You can find temperatures in the Spring, Summer, and Fall (September – May) all ranging between in the lower 60’s to upper 70’s. Only the Winter brings lower temps, but not much lower. The welcoming of the lower 50’s and the upper 60’s usher in the cooler air and this cooler air is present in the months of June – August.
New Zealand is rich with history and today that history shows a multicultural and diversely beautiful country established under British law. New Zealand preserves its founding document in the same building the treaty was originally signed, also known as the Treat of Waitangi. So for 24 hours in New Zealand, the last thing you have to worry about is when to go and if you will have enough to see and do.
From curious geysers, National Parks, botanical gardens, and museums of maritime history, the availability of scenic excursions are quite appealing. There is no shortage of animals at the zoo, at the park, on the waterfront, and some have their colonies to see them all at their best. You will not go hungry or thirsty while there either, and regardless what time of the year you go, you should find yourself enjoying a rather lively festival of sorts.
Many people travel to New Zealand for the trip to Middle-earth. Nothing is quite like the Waikato region, or Matamata, where Hobbiton and the Shire are just a couple of about 150 locations memorably linked with The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Trilogies.and it’s not to see what remains, but to visit the preservation of all for just that occasion.
The North Island is home to Peter Jackson’s Stone St Studios, Park Rd Post, Weta Workshop and Weta Digital that was central to The Hobbit Trilogy production. The movie business center is off-limits to visitors, but the Weta Cave is open to all those who travel to see sights from the set of either location. Tours for The Lord of the Rings include helicopter rides over the limestone formations that formed Dimholt Road. Found in Wellington, this is the meeting place where Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli rode to find the ‘Army of the Dead.’ The Kaimai mountain range is also among the permanently constructed materials for The Hobbit Trilogy. Tongariro National Park in the North Island’s central plateau became the Emyn Muil for The Lord of the Rings. Thousands now tread the same path as Frodo and Sam by walking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing as if they were crossing the Shire themselves.
The South Islands should peak considerable interest for those excited Lord of the Rings tourists use a luxury FWD into the remote back of the valleys to an area transformed into Edoras, to view the capital of the Rohan people. From Queenstown, it’s possible to fly, drive, cycle, or trek to many of the locations that provided the most dramatic scenery from either Trilogy. However, it is not recommended to travel this area without a guide, or a company with you, as some areas are not as easily identifiable as others.
There was something I found disheartening about the first 24 hours of my trip to New Zealand. For an actual Middle-earth fan, the first seven days is just a trip from Auckland to Wellington. However, seven days is only the beginning. The tour may be extended seven days longer, a total of 14 days, ending in Central Queenstown. After reviewing the real fan options, I realized only the most loyal fan would come to New Zealand, and not participate in the Ultimate Tour of Middle-earth, which is a 21-day tour.
I have since found, every region of New Zealand’s Middle-earth is likened to remind these hobbit-loving tourists of the great lengths gone through in filmingthese Trilogies. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy itself was famously filmed in one hit, making it one of the longest and most massive productions in movie history. And for all of you who are fans of Middle-earth, that adds up to how many days for each? A little trivia for you who love of J.R.R. Tolkien? If you said, “266”? You are correct, which is how many days it will surely take you to recover from your Middle-earth tour. Your first 24 hours though will be a time of reflection, direction, and perhaps, reviewing your map reading skills and compass reading abilities. Especially since from all accounts read, when touring New Zealand with their primitive wildlife and towering mountains, there are times when those who wander without a guide, will indeed get lost.
There is no better day to take stock of all your yearly accomplishments than on your birthday. For the average person like myself, this doesn’t take long. I spend a good part of the year taking care of other people, places, and things. Yes, I am a verb in a noun world. Imagine what it would be like to live in a world full of adjectives and adverbs. Just endless facets of the accomplished tasks completed in just one year. One thing is for certain; QT Jazz has no shortage of particulars for her achievements in the past, present or future.
One year ago I wrote a post about Jasmine “QT Jazz” Robinson. And today, I have another opportunity to once again recognize her personal and professional milestones. For someone like QT Jazz turning “21,” today is something unique, as will be her way of celebrating. This young lady has accomplished more at this age than some people do in their entire lives. Am I bragging on this girl? No, I am just speaking the truth. And you do not have to take my word for it. You can come to that assumption all on your own.
I know what you are thinking, “She’s 21-years-old? I’ll believe that when I see it.” Well, how about when you read it? Take a look back at the article on my blog from last year. Then, follow-up with the year forward. You will draw the conclusion for yourself of this lady’s inspiration to treat life’s milestones as if they were stepping-stones which have encouraged her to take every step forward, regardless of the positive or negative outcome. Still not convinced, then perhaps you should do some more research of your own. You can find @QTJazz on social media such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. So, you do not have to take my word for it. You can make your inference.
For those of you who just happen to be in the Warren, Youngstown, Akron, Newton Falls, Cleveland, and as far as Columbus, Ohio, a picture may be worth a thousand words, but why not just celebrate with the lady. Join “QT Jazz while she celebrates her ’21st’ birthday at the “Youth Empowerment Faded Royalty Rally.” Another of life’s milestones realized she claims on her terms. “Proclaim Your Royalty” and “Your Right to be Great” are the convictions she will share at the Rally. For the young adults, the teens, the children and all who come, “Unite and Empowerment” are the messages she will share in Northeast Ohio to help others realize the potential created by their milestones, as she has, as stepping-stones.
We all learned early in our grade school grammar classes; a verb performs an action. By interpreting life and its purpose through the eyes of a young visionary, one step at a time, QT Jazz has taken action and her world by storm. She lives her life with no expectation of failure. Her dreams of a future in music entertainment, she expects to become a reality. She’s smart and determined, and she’s walked recently, in the shoes of America’s youth. She’s not done yet, though. She has much more to do.
Birthday wishes are being sent to QT Jazz today, as a reminder of her year-to-year birth milestones. Feel free to post this budding young entrepreneur some of your own, or if you are in the Northeast Ohio area, go by, feel the energy she creates. There’s so much more to learn about QT Jazz, who she is, what she’s accomplished, and the stepping-stones that lay ahead of her. Start today, her birthday, wish her well, and introduce yourself to the energy of this talented, young person. Just do yourself a favor and don’t get in her way. She’s stepping on stones, hard and fast, and she’s going places.
Celebrities have taken to social media, journalists have taken up their postings, and activists and protesters have taken to the streets to announce “Black Lives Matter!” In return, “All Lives Matter” fills the air, and throughout Dallas, Texas, tears of pain and hurt have left others riveted with the question, “Police Lives Matter”, don’t they? Why the hate? Why destroy innocent people in retaliation for others? It’s time we take a closer look at the matter at hand and where we can go from here, together.
Some people say the group has become more vocal with every interaction between a male or female of color, and a white police officer. Others say, celebrities like Jesse Williams have gotten more vocal, and forgetting their forum, have let their voice and their message get misconstrued. Williams, an activist of Black Lives Matter, (BLM), recently gave a speech on the Black Entertainment Television (BET) awards show, encouraging people of color to stand up for their culture, and for critics to sit down. He even mentioned restructuring the role of the police. For most of us, we understood the speech, and when Williams and others of the (BLM) use terms such as “we,” “us”, and “our people,” we understand it is a collective group of individuals of not only a race, but of culture.
There are things people in the celebrity world need to consider. Williams and other celebrities are some of those individuals who work and live around people who think and feel just like they do. How many interracial couples live in Los Angeles? How many live in California? Williams works on the set of Grey’s Anatomy, with an amazing group of multicultural actors and actresses, just like himself. His role as Dr. Jackson Avery opposite Dr. April Kepner, played by Sara Drew, is an interracial relationship as well. Other characters played by Ellen Pompeo and Justin Chambers, are also involved in interracial marriages. Ellen and her husband Chris Ivery, and Justin and his wife, KeishaChambers, both offset, instead of on set. This television world of biracial families and same-sex partners and parents is no different to daily reality accept it. Children who are born to couples in these relationships are the ones who suffer most. They learn to tolerate the dismissive behavior of not being accepted by either race and as adults, they find it hard to connect to either the black or the white culture.
Co-founder of Black Lives Matter, Alicia Garza spoke out stating, “Black Lives Matter has never, ever called for the murder of police officers,” Garza told The Huffington Post. “What we have said over and over again is that it is a time in this country for policing to be accountable, transparent and responsible. That’s not rhetoric. That is what communities in the United States want to see from the people who protect and serve them. And so quite frankly, we can, at the same time as we grieve the loss of life of several officers who were killed last night, we can also push to demand that there be accountable, responsive, transparent policing that has oversight from communities and that is accountable to the communities they are supposed to protect and serve.”
If you compare Garza’s words with the speech given by Jesse Williams, you will see many similarities. And for an audience of celebrity entertainers like himself, many who support the (BLM) movement, Williams went from Humanitarian Award recipient to political hopeful in a matter of moments. Some of us are still wondering if Williams forgot his audience that night. Certainly, his fellow entertainers and activists downstage from him made perfect sense of what he was saying. All while being bi-racial himself, to push the issue with such a broad audience was certainly challenging for him, but what about others struggling to identify with one culture or another? As much as those still living in a black or white world; those not blessed with milk chocolate skin and stunning blue eyes, for it is those people who may feel the pressure to be one or the other to obtain leadership roles. And for some people still trying to find a place in the world, people like Micah X. Johnson, words like “mobilize” and “restructure,” this could very well be a call to arms.
Upon first hearing about the shooting in Dallas, I told a friend there were people there with their children. This shooting had to be intentional, and I am confident the Black Lives Matter, (BLM) protest would be the blame. Minutes later, the reports were staggering. Garza clarified (BLM)’s position stating, “We are anti our people being murdered in the streets.”What happened to Alton Sterling, what happened to Philando Castile, what happens to so many black people in our communities is absolutely unacceptable, and I think that’s something that we can all agree on,” Garza continued. I believe she is right about that, as being murdered in the street is something everyone agrees inconceivable.
There are some cruel, violent individuals in this world. They lack feeling, logic, and they join hate groups that keep them encouraged. These are the people who recruit people like Micah Johnson. These self-motivated activists are prepared to become martyrs for these groups. Johnson was not afraid to die for what he did. He was more afraid to live. Johnson did have a family, and his death left family behind, and yes, even his life mattered. Regardless of race or reason, this family lost their family member. Johnson‘s actions were the direct cause of his death, and though it is regrettable, it was his decision, and it did not have to be like this.
What about Alton Sterling, didn’t his life matter? And what about Philando Castlile, didn’t his life matter? What’s the problem with Black Lives Matter taking a closer look at what’s happening, or is it just because they are being attentive to one group of people? Studies have already determined there are racial disparities not only in policing, but within departmental hiring practices, as well, and not only because of race, but the use of force against minority races as well. Thus the organization of Black Lives Matter formed realizing there would need to be a representative sampling for people of the black race to ensure progress doesn’t take as long as it has in the past, especially with so many lives lost. Their intent seems is to show the disparities, in an effort to deter this pattern.
However, there is something else to consider, and this should go without being said, but it still must be, so I will. Regardless if you are black, white, red, etc., if you make the decision to commit a crime or break the law, and you place a police officer’s life at risk, it is not murder in the street. An officer is trained to defend him/herself with their firearm. If a man or woman, regardless of color, is involved in some interaction with a police officer, and the officer reasonably perceives a threat against him/her, this meets the legal standard for use of force. This standard may be something you don’t agree with, or maybe you have a problem with guns, but the bottom line is a police officer only has about two seconds to make that decision to shoot or not shoot. And whether you want to understand that concept, it is in fact, the nature of their job, and the justification of a lawful shoot when working a situation involving another person who threatens the life of a law enforcement officer.
I understand any concerns about people abusing this standard, or perhaps exceeding the level of force against you or your family member. One statement Williams made that is so relevant, “Realizing that a system built to divide and impoverish and destroy us cannot stand if we do.” There are police officers who for various reasons have overstayed their time in law enforcement, or were never meant to be there. However, I also know there are men and women who like to provoke police officers into an altercation, and once they are placed in handcuffs, they become more aggressive. We all need to realize we have a flawed system. We need to make changes, nothing can remain the same in an evolving world. Black Lives Matter is taking a stand, but you do not have to be black to stand with them and say, let’s make some changes to benefit us all. Let’s protect our citizens, protect our communities, and protect our police from the hate groups and their recruits, who come in all races and genders, by remembering every life matters to someone.
Adele’s smash hit album “21,” was her first album. It was a smash as well. It became the highest-selling album of both 2011 and 2012 in the US. In 2012, Taylor Swift’s “Red” hit the playlist. However, even “Red” couldn’t outnumber “21” as Adele’s tracks outsold Swift by more than a million. Imagine the excitement for Adele’s fans when the news of her 2015 album coming into play was set to release. Even industry watcher’s were wagering sales in the first week to be nearly 2 million. So is this post in honor of her new song?
Actually, it’s not. I do love the song. And yes, I am an Adele fan. However, this post reflects the outlook of just how popular Adele is, as well as the fact that her music is not only a benchmark, record breaking sound; it’s sales dates back to the 2000’s, when Napster was put music-sharing on the map. This was when Brittany Spears did it again, and NSYNC went in search of a puppet master and Taylor Swift saw red.
Adele rocked the scene in the late 2000’s and it carried us forward. As a major sales performer, who is bringing back the business with her “no music-sharing” approach to her albums; this is an opportunity for other artists to get on board and start this as well. Needless to say, the first week for Adele has prospered well.
With almost 900,000 digital copies on iTunes in the first week, and CD sales expecting to be in the range of 1.5 million, it seems industry watchers greatly underestimated Adele’s first week out. Adele’s third album, 25, appears well on its way to setting a new record for first-week sales. USA Today reports, “Fittingly, the new record is on track for 2.5 million sales, which would overtake the 15-year-old benchmark of 2.42 set by NSYNC. If it hits its projected targets, “25″ would also join “No Strings Attached” as the only other album to sell 2 million copies in its first week of release.
Adele’s first release, Hello from “25” did not stay still long. It has moved right up the billboard playlist, to debut at number one. The last time a song with this title made it to number one, it stayed there for a total of nine weeks, on three different charts in 1984. The song was brought to the world on the album “Can’t Slow Down” by none other than, Lionel Richie.
Some people have pondered the idea of a duet with Adele and Lionel Richie. What would it be like, if the two happened to meet? Sometimes, it is just a thought….
As violence erupts across America with shootings on one campus or another, many of us wonder, “What is going on in the Country?” Then yesterday, November 13th, 2015, a new wonder fell across the nations, with Paris, France in our hearts. Pray for Paris became the hashtag spreading across the social media pages, the borders closed, and people wondered why it took so long, and why the US isn’t taking notice of this? Still the pages turn with the days as we grieve with those there, and vow to remember, not to forget, never forgotten or “Jamais Forgoteen” for years to come. Some worry the years are few, if the leaders of the nations don’t realize the threats are not idle. Will they pay attention? Is this what it took, and did this have to happen? All questions we may never have answers to.
Yet here in America, a lady with child, killed n her home for money. An eight-year-old left in charge of a one-year-old sibling, beats the child to death for crying, while the mother is out with friends. College campuses were disrupted because of more riot activity by the growing “Black Lives Matter” activists on as many as 20 college campuses around the country planned marches last Thursday. Although, these activists began over one incident, they have grown over many others. Some of them are “abuse of force” from police issues against blacks who are male, during a crime; however, other incidents not “abuse of force” police issues, have instigated into black male/female against police officer all nationality male crime issues. Many of which are branching off, and causing more problems, and causing escalated crime to ensue; yet, very few people want to get involved. Police agencies and departments are just letting it go, as they feel they will not get a fair hearing, and a hearing, there will be.
When these events with “Black Lives Matter” began, it was a wake up call for everyone. Races divided once again. Even families divided, depending on the depth of their blood lines. The first rally was “peaceful”. However, rallies are only peaceful for as long as that rally under the same person? Then the initiative behind that rally changes with the leader. That has just what has changes over the months of “Black Lives Matter.”
The students behind these rallies have an agenda. The faculty and staff who work at the universities? They too, have feelings about the matter. Have the students talked with those people for how they feel? Obviously not, if you read the comments from members of faculty and staff from the University of Missouri. Across the campuses, teachers were tendering resignation, Deans were as well. The Dean of Students at Claremont McKenna College in California, Mary Spellman, resigned in a letter to the community Thursday, after some at the school called for hunger strikes over what they perceived as a lack of support for students of color. What lack of support? How many times have students of color been turned away from Dean Spellman vs. students not of color? These are all unasked questions. Spellman resigned due to hunger strikes? I understand she may worry for the well-being of students. This I can assure her, was not her doing. These are adult students who decided not to eat. Many people fast for religious purposes, or blood tests. twenty-four hours later, they would go eat. If not, they will eat when they get hungry, or when the paramedic says, “I am putting this IV in your arm, because you will not eat.” They will eat.
What happened to “peaceful”? What happened to just a harmless demonstration with no harm? We have people resigning, because students are threatening themselves? We also have others, who forewent the “peaceful” rally altogether, like the disaffected students at Loyola University in Chicago and the University of Michigan who according to the Seattle Times, were preparing a list of demands and threatening action, Black alumni at Georgia Tech were crafting a letter to that university’s president, urging a continued commitment to diversity. These are grown, adult faculty members. This is what happens when you go so long with demonstrations, and you let things go. Georgia Tech has had years of grievance policies in effect. Why now? Why wait until now? That’s simple! They have anarchy behind them. That is what this is coming to.
I was reading about President Obama’s schedule to see what he is doing about any of this. However, he is “business as usual.” I guess that is because he either doesn’t take it seriously, or feels it will just, go away. It appears the Presidential Elects aren’t taking any of this lightly. Donald Trump lashed out about the citizens in France not to protect themselves because of gun control. He also claimed the borders needed to close, and the refugees were the start of this. During a sitting, Megyn Kelly and Ben Carson were discussing such, and he responded, “Well we’re being too tolerant, I guess you might say, accepting infantile behavior. I don’t care which side it comes from. To say that I have the right to violate your civil rights because you’re offending me is un-American. It is unconstitutional,” Carson reacted. “And the officials at these places must recognize that and have the moral courage to stand up it. Because if they don’t, it will grow, it will exacerbate the situation and we will move toward anarchy than anybody can imagine, and much more quickly.”
I think maybe Ben Carson was on to something. The activists have grown, the rallies have grown, the demonstrations have grown, and there is nothing peaceful about terminations, threats or self-sacrifice. The continued presence of ISIS in our country and other countries has grown and is continuing to grow, and you guessed it! The terror and the violence is growing with it. Someone needs to do something. Someone has to do something. If not today, when? There is enough violence right here with our own people being killed by our own people, and even our children turning into murderers at young ages while their parents run the streets, neglecting them. We need, no we have to start taking responsibility for really is our problems. We let ourselves live with a false sense of security, and it happened with the World Trade Center. It happened when they sent the video in July about Paris. It happened yesterday. And today, we pray for France. We pray for us. We have Paris in our hearts, and they will be “Jamais Forgetten!”
The celebrity world fascinates us all. Some people are captivated by everyday people and their celebrity status, and they spend hours watching them through social media. Some spend hours tuning in on reality programs. Other people find their celebrities on movies, at premiere events, and on Twitter or Instagram. When in motion, a celebrity’s primary concern though, is not as much their publicity, as it is, their safety. Not often will the outside world see those who provide their safety. They do not see security, unless someone is either a uniformed officer, or someone is standing there in a shirt, with bold stacked letters spelling out, “SECURITY”. The celebrities know they are there. They feel at ease, and you can see it as they glide through the entertainment welcoming parties with cameras and people calling their names. So what do they know? What is this safety experience? What is the defining moment of knowing everything “is handled”? Once before, Ralph Waldo Emerson stated – the Defining Moment is –What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us. Not a time were these words more eloquently defined, nor has there been a better opportunity to refer to them, than now, to Elijah J. Shaw, the most fortunate soldier.
(ICON) Global Corporation and the Business Behind It
The business of ICON Global Corporation is a security and investigative agency, entering into its 13th year. The president and CEO bringing it, is Elijah Shaw. Offering global protection on long-term basis, in a discreet capacity of some of the most elite celebrity clients, Mr. Shaw provides protection and security, consultations and classroom demonstrations and staffing worldwide.
ICON Global provide public and private training internationally. Mr. Shaw has invited and received people from the most diverse corners of the world to the United States, or himself, has traveled to their remote regions, to train under ICON’s services. Having had the esteemed pleasure to speak with Elijah Shaw about ICON, the conversation began as anyone who had seen the movie “The Bodyguard” may think “Oh, so you teach people to do what Kevin Costner does with Whitney Houston?” However, Mr. Shaw assured, that was just the movies. “ICON Global provides a training academy, that evolved during pre-twitter and pro-social media times.” “It was a ‘cloak and dagger’ business that evolved through helping others learn the work, and then helping them find work to do.” The Security Industry is about more than just working security at an event, or standing outside of a nightclub checking names off of a list, though many people who watch television, may seem to believe. The people who train with this service, learn about risks and secure situations. They learn to work any where and under any circumstances, either standing next to someone in an uncontrolled situation, to a risk situation, or on the border of Haiti making efforts to work with local doctors in an area where police and warlords work together. It’s about more than learning how just do the duties of a “bodyguard.” These people train to become Protection Agents, licensed and trained to act in an proper way, with an emphasis on professionalism and courtesy.
PASSION IN PROTECTION
One thing I noticed while speaking with Mr. Shaw; he really has a passion for what he does, and as the saying goes, “Passion, like negativity, is contagious.” In the celebrity business, I am certain this is an omnipresent truth. Mr. Shaw discussed his passion, how he assimilates it into the training academy, and what it provides to a trainee. He began by explaining how he came into the business world in the beginning, by discussing how sometimes in life an incident or an interaction, can transform us or others in a memorable way. For Shaw, his interaction was through a former employer, “I was working as a Senior Manager, and kept working toward moving forward.” “For some reason, when I came up for review, it never was my time.” However, on one particular occasion, “I was told I should start your own business.” “It was with these words of consideration I began to give it some thought.”
At ICON Global Corporation, their goal is to deliver superior services, with open lines of communication, and repetition of a real-world element. The Executive Protection Industry assists in facilitating Civilian and Professional services offered including Safety, Protection, Fitness, and Firearms training. The specialized courses cover a range of diverse disciplines; after all, Mr. Shaw’s 16-year contribution encompasses mechanisms of managing issues of both a domestic and international accord, applying them to the protection and security industry, that only years of training could produce.
GROWING UP SHAW
While speaking with Elijah Shaw, I suppose the question always comes up at some point of, “What did you want to do growing up?” I suppose some of us plan our lives out ahead or ourselves, and even as children, we know exactly what lies ahead of us. We also know what to
do with our time, our studies, and even our finances as we grow into ourselves. Therefore, the question was asked, “What about when you were growing up Mr. Shaw?” Elijah Shaw had no such well laid-out plan, but he did have dreams. Dreams he never let fall to the side, and still to this day, he is not afraid to admit to being just that.
Elijah Shaw grew up in the inner city housing project, Ida B. Wells, in Chicago, Illinois. He went to grammar school and high school and began college studies in Film and Television. As he studied, he began working in some nightclubs. He also held a job at a safety facility, in the bodyguard and security discipline. He worked up to a manager, then kept working up to Senior Manager, gaining experience, but not enough to move up to where he “dreamed” of being. There’s that word again. Mr. Shaw responded by saying, “I grew up in the inner city and I always dreamed bigger.”
Dreamers are often visionaries of the future. They learn the concept of defining moments. Years ago, I remember the words, “When the defining moment comes along, you can either define the moment, or let the moment define you.” I always think about it when I hear about dreamers, because when those dreamers take those dreams with them, they are the ones who walk the green. His dreams did take him further. When he heard the words, “You should get your own business.” And with a bit of continuing education, Elijah Shaw dreamed even bigger. Referring to himself as a creative sort, he referenced his creativeness and his perfected craft through his years of experience. Let me state something to you, that he mentioned, “Creative people are not business people; therefore, they have to learn to be a business person, or they have to partner with someone who is a business person.” “As creative people, we want creativity, but business people are business people.” The one constant carrying over from then to now, is his love for capturing the moment. He still loves taking pictures, which prompted his decision to move into the field of “Film” as a choice for a college major in the first place.
LOVER OF THE ARTS
One love for Elijah Shaw holding him forever close, is his love for the Arts. One love is for nature. Mr. Shaw’s career requires him to travel often, and he has been around the world five times and he has touched every continent except Antarctica. In conversation, one of his highlights of travel, was a time he had taken clients in the safe-keeping capacity to the world cup in South Africa. He mentioned, “It is my responsibility to keep someone safe.” “We travel to some really interesting places, but the threats against one’s self, is my concern.” Another love of the Arts for Elijah Shaw, includes architecture. Even though a person who loves the Arts, especially nature, might seem a bit laid-back; Elijah Shaw does not fit this classification. He then was asked how he considered his emotional state, and his response was, “I would consider myself engaged.” “Just like coming here, and meeting with you guys, this takes a lot for me, just to slow down and to get this, but I am excited to do this.” “I am very much attracted to nature and architecture.” “So, when I go over to something, like a wallaby, I am really excited.” “The life and shadows that appear on a structure, that makes me excited.”
The love for Art doesn’t stop with nature and structure, it goes to music, with compositions of jazz and classical music. Reading is also a love – anything from Business and Marketing, to Astronomy and History, such as the Ancient ruins to the Tongan Islands. His love of learning and reading would explain some of his love of travel, and his wish is not only to explore, but to share in all that he does.
You see Elijah Shaw is not your typical man. His heart leads him to the places he goes, as much as his career. When he isn’t working to create a safe environment, he is working to create the best possible photograph of that environment; he does so to capture the image of today to share with those he could not bring with him to see all he does. Elijah Shaw is certainly a man of defining moments.
To see this great love of the Arts, and how deep it runs, creates a picture of Shaw. You see this very intense man who has created a Security Consulting Firm, known for working with celebrities, members of Fortune 500 Companies, and political affiliates. He trains others for bodyguards, works with private and public law enforcement agencies, and he teaches others to do their duty with integrity, for the work is important. One minute you see this sophisticated, sharp-dressed man who takes each trainee from the classroom to the real-world implementation of the worst possible scenario in hopes each person leaves training with a realistic expectation of what could happen, and the knowledge that every cause has an effect. It is their job to not just react to a situation, but to also be proactive and keep things from escalating, to the point a reaction is warranted to de-escalate a potentially dangerous situation.
The training provided by ICON seems not just as much about the protection; it seems comparably as much about the protector, as it is about the one being protected. The training provided by the defensive firearms instructors, allows individuals to participate in constructed live fire incidents, simulated to appear as a real-world event. This allows each person to experience a simulated event under-the-influence of adrenaline, which is a powerful neurotransmitter which can affect the way you think, the way you act, how quickly you cat, etc. This is one of the major factors that cause bad shoots in police work. These situations are realistically handled in the utmost manner of safety, as to allow individuals a realistic view of what could happen in a life or death situation.
Elijah Shaw really is quite the chameleon when it comes to visualizing the man at work, and the man at heart. Coming from a close family unit, where he was close with his grandparents, and even closer with his mom. For Shaw, at the lower times of his life, it is his mom,
he looks to when he feels the most open. It is this respect for his mother, it seems might have led his traits of humility and respect. He referenced, “I am blessed to travel the world, and I made a conscious effort to document it.” “So, I put them up on the website, and thought, I will sell the pics to help others.” It is the changeling which comes about is his spare time who travels through Israel and finds a sight to behold. It is on his off days he treks the risky and treacherous footing near the Colorado River, in Archers National Park, in Moab, Utah to stay until dark, under the stars to get the best image he can to place on a website for sale to whomever? That’s just one of the unique things about Elijah Shaw. All he does, all he feels, all he sees; it takes him home, and not just to his present home, but to his childhood home. He remembers what he missed as a child. He didn’t miss cameras or travel. He didn’t know about that. What he missed was the chance to know it! That is, he missed it then. Now, he knows about it. And he plans on taking every opportunity to share with those back in Ida B., in Chicago, Illinois. The cameras, the pictures, the money for supplies? It is just a small gesture from Elijah Shaw, to define yet another moment to share his point that there is #lifeupthere.
Although Elijah Shaw has many proficients, many are used to teach others through training sessions provided through his security services; others are poured into his philanthropic side which shows the most of who he is. Mr. Shaw has this vulnerable side of himself; a side it seems he would rather keep to himself. However, for someone who is so involved in the community, at such a distance; his shy exterior, seems to fall to the wayside, as his tender heart attempts to stay hidden mercilessly, behind the strongholds of his human armor.
For instance, he began photography in hopes of capturing some of the more beautiful and unique things he would see on his assignments or exhibitions away from home. Recently, he launched a website called lifeupthere.com where these photos are presented. The proceeds are donated from this site to inner city schools for to equip youths with projects and learning, awakening their creative insights. One again, defining Mr. Shaw, and the moments of the visionary he has become.
Another set of skills from the business used in return for altruism include the services for the ICON Safety-Net Program. The Women’s Advocates members host the nation’s oldest shelters for victims of domestic violence. Mr. Shaw’s services are free security services offered to the program to support these victims of domestic abuse and the shelters that support them. When asked about their relationship, he responded, “We provide Pro-Bono bodyguard and security guard services for domestic violence services and victims.” “I really wanted to help those who have a need, even if they do not have the payments for these.” “The shelters started screening for those who needed the services for court purposes and I started getting the clientele.” “Other people started doing things that worked with me too from my agency.” “This is a part of what I do.” “We started working with a group of others going to the homes and to the court dates as well.” “This is some of the things I do, and teach others to do, not just because it’s about helping other people, and it’s about learning how I do that work, without it being a job?”
Elijah Shaw has truly come a long way from the inner city streets of Chicago, Illinois. The current director of the North American Bodyguard Association (NABA), the Managing Editor of the NABA-produced Circuit Magazine, as an ongoing columnist called Keeping Your Edge Mr. Shaw is an expert in dealing with Operational Security (OPSEC), Executive Protection and the Security Industry. He has worked with the media on multiple occasions in feature publications, major broadcasts and standing in with celebrities. For most people, this is what they love – celebrities, media, the when, the where, and all that entails. And when it comes to being the one to call for all that entails, the one to call is “Elijah Shaw, the Fortunate Soldier“, with so many defining moments. Take a look at his projects! Some of those defining moments, he’s out of this country, he’s riding exotic animals, he’s learning new things, and lately, he’s even upside down.
When people heard the word “rap” in the community where I grew up, they developed a mental picture in their head of a group of young, adult men, heavy breathing into microphones, with little to no comprehension of the words they were saying. I can remember the first time I brought a “rap” tape into the house. “Yes,” I said “tape.” I turned it down as low as I could get it, and hit play. I tried to dance and keep time, but I could barely hear it. I had to wait until my parents were gone, and then I blasted it; Not only was I able to dance to it; I could ‘feel’ the music.
MUSIC BEHIND THE MEMORIES
I picked up some R&B, and then some Hip Hop; and I kept a steady supply of various genres. This collection sculpted the future of bittersweet moments of pain, joy, tears, laughter, and perpetual memories that would be part of the era of growing from a girl, into the woman I am today. And now, when I hear one of those songs, I remember a date, a time, or a moment; it’s so much more
than just a song. It is the feeling, which reveals the change within; a change each of us valued, throughout the serenading of the chorus, until the harmonious, fruition.
Having the pleasure to speak with the two gentlemen of Urban Republic, I was able to see the same appreciation was there for both the artist and the listener. A connection in the music, the memory, and an event, that you can’t get back. One thing remains the same though. Whether you are the listener, the artist, the performer, or just someone who hears the melody playing in the distance; You may forget something, but that song remembers.
THE SCHOOL OF HARD KNOCKS, WILL KNOCK BACK
Hailing from Kansas City, Missouri, James Harris, (aka Dewey Da Don, Dewey) grew up with the odds against him. He didn’t have it easy, and he didn’t make it easy on himself. He learned from the “School of Hard Knocks” where you grow up, learning after a few unnecessary knocks, the ones you could have and should have, avoided.
James Harris grew up the typical way teens do, just doing his thing, “his way,” and that doesn’t make for an easy path when working with others. By the year 2006, he was on a path of no return, and labeled in the group that held, “Within the next year you will be standing before a judge, and what you have to say and hear, will not be easy.” He could see the pain he was causing others, and as he looked at the man in front of him, he didn’t like who was looking back at him.
By the summer of 2007, the hard knocks, finally knocked back in a positive way. And this time, he had someone who believed he could do it. He was presented with the opportunity to attend Usher Raymond’s Camp New Look. This camp enables their students to complete their graduation, and encourages them to seek a college degree, or get started on a path towards something else. This is the camp that helped James Harris, realized “Dewey Da Don,” the musician could be more than a dream. This was only the beginning for a man like him. His enlightenment came from seeing others empower themselves, and he found he was looking at himself and in his ideas for the future. He had a plan. He wanted to spread his message to others.
James Harris joined the movement, and he excelled in voice. Using his voice, became more than a passion that day. He became a voice that placed him on NBC, and in Washington DC in front of Congress sharing a message that has changed many lives to date.
James tells about his experiences growing up, and how this path changes his life, with Brian Mitchell of NBC Productions program of NBC Nightly. Some people don’t think people care; some people keep taking those knocks, but James tells you his story, and how it can change for him and how it can change for you.
Leaving night shifts and long hours working at the Waffle House behind, Dewey took advantage of everything he learned, and he went to work as a businessman. He became an Executive Board Member, and Digital Program Director for “Usher’s New Look Foundation”. He didn’t stop there, as he reveled in creativity, and as an “inspiration entrepreneur”, he founded LoudPack Productions. As CEO of LoudPack Productions, he would have to seek out a partner, and he didn’t have to look far. For, he and his CCO shared, first, an aspiration, “The greatest ability in a leader is to inspire someone else to be great!” – the two of them together, with what would become the first collective “Truth”, created a statement, “Everything we do, YOU are Going to Hear About,” and it rang out loud and clear, as the second “Truth”, was collectively formed, Urban Republic.
Dewey Da Don and Casanova “Novacain”, (aka Nova) Butler, have been hustlin’ up Atlanta, Georgia, and have been continuously working on their music, since 2012. They have tracks separately, and together, but their latest success has been a long-awaited, joint effort. They are both excited and ready to hit the streets with this one. Dewey and Nova attribute this labor of love to their hometown of Kansas City, also called “Killa’ City” by those from the area. As proud as both men are today about how far they have come, they also haven’t forgotten ‘where’ they came from, and they respect the self-made state of mind they have, and that without it, they would have never gotten out of there. When people hear them talk about this place, they want them to realize the bigger meaning out of it.
IN ATLANTA, WITH LOVE AND “YOU GONNA HEAR IT”
Tracks from their 2016 release, Atlanta with Love, vents their lyrical and creative talents. Every exchange of their distinct style, complements each other so well, it gives a natural feeling of chemistry to their soundtrack. And it’s not just their music where this effortless articulation of friendship is found. Even when talking business, it seemed each one was spot on with their goals and strategic suggestions. Both are driven, musically, graphically, and philanthropically.
It is important for them to get the message out. Their brand of greatness and excellence, and spoken, “It doesn’t matter if you are working at the Sonic, for a company, or for LoudPack.” “Your dreams and passions are bigger than that.” “You are bigger than that!” “You are who ‘YOU’ see yourself as, and you can do all you see.”
“CAUSE EVERYTHING WE DO, YOU’RE GOING TO HEAR ABOUT IT!”
Anytime you are speaking with someone, you get a genuine feel about them. Call it a vibe, if you will. When listening to these two men speak about themselves or the company, I could tell there was so much love in what they were doing. They truly love music. If you want to stay in music for the duration, you have to love it. You have to make it your world. You have to take a stance. LoudPack is their stance. It’s more than just a company, it’s who they are. I recall the statements, “Whatever facet we are doing, you are going to hear about it; and we do it all.” “I believe in you at LoudPack!” “Music is powerful.” Those statements are so positive. It was very admirable to hear two young men, so early in their career, laying roots down like this. It sets forth hope for music’s future.
The most impressive response for me though, was when Dewey mentioned how they want to have songs that have a different nostalgic moment in your life, whether good, bad or indifferent. This really resonated with me, as I mentioned before. Music really mattered in my life for this same reason. It does with my daughters today. I think it still does with many people. I think this generation especially, is looking for something to relate to. They need somebody, something, even if it is a song, to throwback to and say, “This is me.”
People may look up and see these two guys and say, “That’s those two guys from Urban Republic.” They may think they are just two rappers who do nothing all day but maybe sleep late, write a song based on whatever happens, but really have nothing to
do. The average person would not realize when looking up and visualizing two rappers, these two people in front of them, are actually two businessmen. Both of whom are writing their own story, and they are doing so by overcoming obstacles every day. They are working on getting their business venture set with communication, strategic goals, networking, and education materials all together for the future of other people. Their ambition is to live a life, dedicated to the service of others. They want to elevate people in communities, and to lift others above their circumstances. They understand when others see them people being active and positive, then other people do the same; youth in general, mimic other people and their behavior. It is through their artistry and entertainment, which they intend to empower our youth, because they are our future, and we need to invest in them, and let them know they can achieve their dreams.
THE PASSION AND CONTAGIOUS PLEASURE, OF MUSIC
The passion exuded from both artists is unbelievably contagious. “Dewey’s” passion is leadership, and he revealed, “I think I have learned a great leader wears many different hats.” “I have to push, grind until it makes sense to everybody, not just me.” “So I keep pushing until it makes sense.” “Nova’s”, wish is strictly to be an artist. For him, “Music is like a drug,” he mused, “Music takes me away from everything; I had just got a notification I was being evicted from my house.” “I had something that night, and as soon as the music started, I forgot about everything.” “Music takes me away from trials and tribulations in my life.” “Music is where I run to.” “Performing is everything.” They both talked about before they perform, they remember why they are there, and they pray, they give their blessings; it’s everything.
I had the opportunity to sit down and speak with Dewey Da Don and Novacain of Urban Republic, and of the questions asked, both gentlemen reflected on their lives, as a duo and as people. They discussed their history as teenagers growing into musicians and the responsibility to you have to “Never forget where you came from, yet never to be content where you are!” – Reflecting on their own edification through growth and development. “Positive reinforcement for one, is the hardest thing, so you have to own who you are; believe who you are, not who you think!” This is a deliberation, which I feel most musicians share as performers and as writers. To contemplate an escape in their music, for whatever it gives back to them, whether it be an emotion, an inspiration, or a recollection. I remember reading in an article, another musician by the name of Hunter Hayes, wrote ~
“I’m very shy and awkward. I think the best thing is to embrace it. It’s about accepting who you are and what you want to become and knowing all that you’ve got to work with, whether it’s good or bad. My music was the only place I could be me for the longest time.”
This is what speaks to me about my own thoughts earlier with my kids, and when I was growing up. For musicians have the same thoughts and feelings towards songs they record. They find one that is special to them because of a certain meaning in their life. Both of these men are fathers, so they understand how hard it is to be away from their children when on the road and they want their children to learn from them to be inspired and to be empowered, and for them the greatest gift you can give a child, is to be present in their life. This was the inspiration for one of Dewey’s favorite songs, Daddy’s Little Girl; lyrics written about his daughter, communicating his love to her while separated. He also mentioned Distorted Portraits. This track about the “crown of our life”, was a collaborative effort about creating your own vision, and how it takes every one in their own unique image for the world to see. Nova’s favorite, What You Know About It, he reminisced on how the pain of watching his brother growing into a leader, was reflected in the lyrics of this song. “I can channel the music and it just really means so much,” he shared.
For Urban Republic, it allows them shelter from the rainy days when they are far from home and they compose their music. It also provides them a feeling of accomplishment within the bittersweet memories of the past, allowing them to chase their future aggressively. In essence they too, receive as much from the music, as they give, and at the end of the day, they remain as they want, as they need to stay, humble, but hungry.
Have you ever thought about inventing something? Maybe you wanted to create the next best television show, or maybe you wanted to take part in a game show as a contestant? What would you do with your winnings? There are people and places that make these things happen. They aren’t your “rainy day” people. These people have an idea, and they will do everything they can to make it happen. These are people like Sequoia Blodgett, aka Sequoia B of Draper University Sequoia B of “7AM”- Sequoia B of the ABC Family production of Startup-U. Haven’t heard of Sequoia B? Well, let me introduce you, because this is one young lady, whom you definitely want to recognize. After you make this written introduction, you will definitely not forget her.
Sequoia Blodgett was a photographer in 2014. She was a success in her current career, as she had worked as senior video producer for Clear Channel’s ad agency, Creative Services Group. In addition, she signed to several production companies where she worked with multiple mainstream artists, directed commercials and shot fashion photography. Yet, in March of 2014, from a hospital bed, a certain silence had descended upon her, and she realized, a second chance lay outside for her. It was when she became ill in that early Spring, she realized her goals no longer stood, behind the camera.
Sequoia had always dreamed of starting her own business, but re-evaluating where she was, and where she could be, just never presented itself, until now. Fascinated by life coaching and the psychology of human relationships, she called a friend who was a life coach and the two of them discussed her idea of starting over, creating something bigger, and a little more unsafe, and it awaited her. From that hospital room, to the Bay Area, California streets, the serendipity interrupted Sequoia B and chimed with the hands of her “7AM” business and internet community, and the road to entrepreneurial success.
It was in July of 2014, when Sequoia began teaching photography with her Bachelor of Arts in Film/Television Production from Loyola Marymount University. Across the street from Stanford University, she would see many venture capitalists and business CEO’s who were parents of her students, but what had Sequoia spellbound, was Draper University. She remembered her hospital bed; she remembered her dream of starting a business, and she knew this could be her start, if she applied and was accepted. Dreams do come true, and she became on her way to seeing other dreams, gain momentum.
Draper University sits in Silicon Valley in California. It is a learning and growing facility where opportunity is found in creating a diverse investment system. Sequoia B became part of this system with her internet community, http://7AM.life. She started her vision with action, and a partial scholarship from Tim Draper of Draper University. She followed it with $5,000 in crowd-funding from a radio station called the Beat, where she had worked as an intern, once before. She used her head for business and her growing knowledge from Draper University to aid in growing Startup U. The reality show brainchild of Tim Draper, which includes the enrolled students at Draper University, aired on the ABC Family Express which began production of Startup U, Season 1 on August 11, 2015. The season ran through October 15, 2015. Faculty and Residence Staff members, such as Sequoia B, and outside visitors such as Tony Robbins and Jane Buckingham were onsite to advise.
Since entrepreneur dreams opened Sequoia B’s eyes to the horizons of Draper University, it was only natural she become involved in this endeavor. What began as a dream for Sequoia, has broadened her horizons and she has become more than dreamer; she is now an entrepreneur-in-residence, helping others, realize their potential, as “dream-maker.”
Draper University and the inventions that take place there have always been about innovation and venture capital. Students come there wanting to “walk on the moon.” And Tim Draper is glad to show the world, one of his students is walking on the moon, and to fund the thing, as long as they can 1) Tell him how to get there; 2) Tell him how they will survive while there; 3) Develop the necessary equipment, proper clothing, with a DU in the center; and 4) Tell him how to get back.
Draper University is well renowned for having a method to this madness starting with creativity and innovation as the model. Popularity is grown through building user acquisition. Without customers and repeat customers, you have nothing. People see something they like, and it becomes popular. Retention is gained and the purchasing of that model turned product begins to gain money towards the investment. You product becomes your investment and you build your business. This is your community. This community becomes popular throughout social media, and branding grows, and sales grows.
Venture Capital (VC) is returned to those who loaned the startup for this venture and fronted your business. therefore the ROI (Return on Investment) is the amount of return less your VC and Community (builds your business) – Branding & Social Media (grows your brand, grows popularity and sales) – Venture Capital (end stage return on company after investing front end start-up)– Return on Investment (ROI) (amount of return less the VC) and if prospering, you are another product of Draper University.
After all, every investment must have marketable opportunity. Without it, you are giving money away. Even if you have, an Angel Investor, or crowd-funding through equity, you could consider matching that commitment, with a balanced ROI (return on investment) which was presented with the idea at in the beginning of the process. I recall hearing many times, when evaluating marketing and metrics, “Engagement is the most important metric for evaluating social media success,” and Sequoia B summed up that evaluation and more by elaborating on how important accountability is when evaluating the success of your product or idea.
It was exhilarating for me to watch the Season Finale tonight. If you didn’t see Season 1, well, there’s still a chance before Season 2 comes along. You can watch on ABCFamilyTV, or Hulu has #StartupU, so make use of those back-to-back opportunities. I will be going back and catching each episode, just to see the Pivots I missed. What’s a pivot you say? That’s for a rainy day me on Hulu. For you, maybe you are a rainy day person too, or maybe not. Take some notes, think about the tomorrows, and remember the “Draper University motto”, Failure doesn’t mean something bad; failure means your seasoned. Therefore, if you are a seasoned ideologist that you know will “bring in the dough”, head out to Silicon Valley, and see the “dream makers.” Ask for Sequoia B; you know who she is. And be sure to reach out and tell her what you thought of the show, on Twitter, or on Instagram if you prefer. She will be happy you chimed in.
Some people know Rhythm and Blues (RnB), and some people know Pop. Some people know both. However, these genres have grown over more than just a period of years. They have grown over people, over communities, and through culture. These each and together have experienced international fusions over social policies, over radical plights and political movements in history, and together they have survived and evolved. They are a mixture of music, vocals, writing songs, and dance- all kinds of dance, and it is, some of one and all of another of a young lady referred to as “QTJAZZ.”
Pop and RnB, these aren’t just a label where you find a musical genre, they come from a history, and Jasmine “QTJAZZ” Robinson has history, which would begin from the cradle, to participating as a dancer and vocalizing at the age of three. Where most of us hear music as we grow up, and once we reach a certain age, we start downloading it or hit some streaming site to fill our devices with what we want; it is years before we know anything about the evolution of it. For this lady, she would soon go from school to auditions with her manager-mother, who was helping others record and fulfill their dreams. It wasn’t too long, before she realized, Jasmine was not who she was born to be. She had watched others fulfill their dreams in the studio, and she knew she had a place there too. She finished grammar school and made it to high school, occupying her time with extracurricular activities and skills in the areas of dance, piano, gymnastics, fashion, makeup, song and voice. She then approached her mother, and introduced her future, as “QTJAZZ.”
Learning through her younger years, and following others in their endeavors, “QTJAZZ” had realized there was a history in the music. She learned how to incorporate the music and the dance, and how to creatively include rhythm and culture. She valued all she had learned through the years, and she never forgot those she had learned from along the way. She took full advantage of paying homage to CSP recording artists, Xscape with her tribute to the group at the inception of her recording career with a remix of Understanding.
All during this blossoming of her professional life, this young lady was still transitioning through her personal life. QTJAZZ was not just a pretty face, she had substance and she struggled; she struggled the most personally, to understand giving and receiving self-love. She recalled having a hard time associating being loved with being good. Everyone goes through a personal struggle in their life, and for her, she was in the business so early, that she felt would look for positive reassurance and feedback from others as a solid affirmation of love, and when she didn’t hear it, she would take it very personally. She felt blessed to have someone to help her transition through this period, and not feel lost – her manager – or should I say, her mother. For most, there’s no way the two could be one, but for QTJAZZ, she is content with it, as she muses how other than an occasional disagreement over her style of clothes, her mom and her discuss everything. They also agree on everything, and they have a remarkable relationship, personally and professionally.
This charismatic and spirited, personality with a contagious laugh, leaves no question unanswered about yesterday or tomorrow. Most people have dreams and aspirations, but QTJAZZ has a plan. Although she admits to being notorious for throwing kickbacks in her teenage years, she claims it was just an outlet. She still loves to go bowling, she loves horseback riding, and dancing, singing and writing is part of who she is. For some people, she thinks it may be something they do, but for her, it is more than that. Procrastination is her biggest adversary. She feels more normal, when she stacks her cards; and the more she does, the better she feels. She doesn’t neglect anyone having a learning experience, and she has continued to value her education. She is currently enrolled in college classes, majoring in Integrative Studies and a Focus in Business, with hopes of further her education through Fullsail University in Winter Park, Florida.
This carefree young lady, who turned 20 on October 9th, is not just a pretty face. She has taken the entertainment world in leaps of voice, and bounds of projects. With top music on Soundcloud she is performing and writing her own music. She also has a track, At Your Best, remembering recording artist Aaliyah, taken from us in 2001. QTJAZZ has traveled all over the world, and she admits she doesn’t mind missing sleep to meet her goals. Two of those goals are 1) To record with Justin Timberlake and/or Timbaland; and 2) To continue growing and expanding her cosmetic collection. She says, “Sometimes, you got to do something different, and then you have to brush it off your shoulders off when it doesn’t go off your way.” Therefore, she said she doesn’t mind pushing the envelope to get results. And results, is what she is getting.
Her song, Heels, Bags is just one of the many to come. This lady has so many things coming and going, but she is in line with all of them. She wears her heels every chance she gets, and one of those places in to Coke Awards Shows and Sprite Pour Fashion, Art and Music Programs, as QTJAZZ is a Social Influence for Obey Your Thirst. This is not the only time you will see her. Celphie’s Cosmetics has picked up QT’s collection of Lip Gloss, and hopefully, she will have more colors and products to come. Performing and music is her passion, and more of that is definitely on the way, as this lady is full of so much fizz and shine, it’s going to take some serious power to keep this girl down. She may wear heels, but she dresses to dance. All you have to do is turn on the music, and those heels can’t stay on those feet. I, personally would love to see a bags collection. I just love bags.
Some days can begin so beautiful, and take the most unexpected turns. “That’s life,” right? It’s what we do and how we live. I woke up yesterday after traveling the day before the dentist chair came calling. Jenny is the best for a cleaning, and with my, oh, so sensitive mouth, I do follow-up whenever possible. Dr. John Shepherd is such a great dentist, and I have been his patient for some time now. This morning was no different. My appointment was at 10:00 AM and by 11:00 AM, I bid them adieu.
As I entered my jeep and hit my phone, began to sing with it’s Peanuts theme of sound. As I began read the feed, I found myself feeling empty, and thinking about the days passed since I wrote about Rachel Scott. Rachel was a victim of the Columbine High School shooting in April of 1999. This massacre claimed the lives of 13 high school students. It still haunts many of us today.
There was a difference in the feed I was reading, but the information was the same, “Active shooter on the campus of Oregon Community College.” For a moment, I reflected back to the recent shooting in Louisiana at a theater, where a man walked in and lives were lost. My mind was mentally trying to calculate the number of people lost, what was happening now, and why, once again, innocent people were losing their lives.
When something like this occurs, the first thing you notice is the Governor of Oregon and the President of the United States, all come to the forefront, and they blame the guns. They say we need to do something about gun control, because of these mass shootings. They talk about the Second Amendment and discuss how preventable these shootings would be, if there were stricter measures of gun control. The President also talks about reducing sentencing guidelines and being softer on crime. Is this the answer? More control of guns, and less control of people?
Immediate polls and studies begin when many things happen very often. Naturally, this began about mass shootings in the US, and with this shooting in Oregon, statistics say we are 274 days into the year of 2015, and we have had 294 mass shootings. That doesn’t sound right? Well, not all media coverage makes it as something you can publicize for days on end. You also have to understand, a mass shooting is any shooting that occurs involving four or more people. The Washington Post reports with the numbers as they stand, mass shootings have caused 380 loss of lives in this year thus far. And of course, there’s the broader universe of nearly 10,000 people killed and 20,000 wounded involving nearly 40,000 gun violence incidents in this year. (Ingraham, 2015)
It’s not any surprise when President Obama advised on Thursday, the mass shootings had become somewhat routine in the United States, and demanded a change in the politics of guns in America, saying that simply thinking of and praying for victims was “not enough.” I understand frustration, but when a person takes it upon themselves to address a situation with an evil of this magnitude, whether it is with a gun, a knife, or whatever they choose as their weapon of demise, sometimes praying for someone is the best and the only thing you can do. I do not know President Obama’s true religion; therefore, I do not know his occasion to pray, but I do know that God listens all the time. God listens, and HE hears; HE heals those who are sick, those who are wounded, and HE removes those who are in harm’s way. Sometimes, God is the only one who can help. I believe that, and I do not think there is ever a time, when praying for a victim, is “not enough.” (Memoli, 2015)
Protection for these students and faculty involved is the concern. Was anyone there who failed to protect, because they lost their life in the process? Did this campus have anyone there to help? A school with 3,000 students registered and according to former UCC President Joe Olson, who retired in June after four years, said the school had no formal security staff, just one officer on a shift. One of the biggest debates on campus last year was whether to post armed security officers on campus to respond to a shooting. The school has a policy of no guns on campus and did not feel the need for an armed security presence, Umpqua Community College interim President Rita Cavin said. “I suspect this is going to start a discussion across the country about how community colleges prepare themselves for events like this.” (Press, 2015)
This day started off with just the right amount of sun and a touch of wind. It was beautiful. It ended with me saying prayers for families, friends and others for over 20 people who were injured in some way. There were 13 people reported who were no longer survivors traveling about. One of those was Chris Harper Mercer, the gunman. There has been so much talk about gun rights. Does the Second Amendment right, stand over those who do not want guns, because they feel it would stop these random acts of violence? Well, that goes back to does the Freedom of Religion stand over those who want to marry a member of the same-sex? Both are rights, and both protected under the Constitution, but which one or is either one, protected? Does either protect anyone? In this situation, it seems having no protection, made an entire school campus, vulnerable. So, what do we do? Do we have armed guards to make it safe? Do we have guns there and people to use them, or do we pull them, such as President Obama speaks about?
In the aftermath of the massacre at Sandy Hook, many districts across the nation have increased the number of school resource officers, although an armed security presence is now standard in many of the nation’s middle and high schools permitting teachers to carry concealed weapons themselves.
Lawmakers in every state in the nation introduced school safety legislation this year, and in at least 20 states those proposals became law, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The twenty states have created proposals which have now become new laws ranging from a volunteer, emergency security force at schools, to allowing state employees to keep firearms in a vehicle on state property, if the car is locked and the weapon is approved by authorities and not visible. (Press, More schools bringing in armed security guards after Newtown shooting last December, 2013) Some states have even opted to allow teachers to carry concealed weapons themselves. However, this could also be a problem for officers who come to schools on a gunman on a shots fired call at a school. With no information about the gunman, a teacher could be mistaken as a gunman, and an innocent life be lost due to friendly fire.
There will always be someone who recognizes firearms as the best form of protection. There will be someone just as insistent against the use of firearms. Practical matters say, sometimes a person will be taken a firearm, and try to use it recklessly. How can we stop it? That remains for another day. However, the person there to protect you? How do you want them to protect you? I like the days like I had, with the sun and the wind, and the opportunity that presented itself. Chris Mintz like the day he had planned with his little boy who had a birthday planned that day. Mintz put his life on the line for several people. He survived. God was watching over him that day, whether that shooter wanted HIM to or not. We are all praying for his speedy recovery, whether President Obama thinks it does any good, or not. I for one, would rather Chris Mintz would have had a firearm that day to protect those people, instead of having to use his body for target practice. If someone ever enters my premises, I would hope someone has a firearm, not having to make a mean face. Be honest, what would you rather have for protection? Think about it! Consider it, and then think about what you want to save a life with, should you had the choice.