In 2007 the Washington Post tried an experiment, they had world famous violinist Joshua Bell, posing as a street musician and give an incognito performance to morning commuters at a busy metro train station in Washington DC.

 

Joshua Bell, a virtuoso violinist, performed beautiful and complex music on an instrument worth $3.5 million, but nevertheless received little or no attention from passers by.  Although, only days earlier, Bell had played at a Boston theater where ticket prices averaged more than $100 each, but after nearly two hours at a subway station he managed to make only a paltry $32 from his performance.

 

While adults didn’t pay much attention to Joshua Bell, children did.  Several youngsters can be seen trying to listen and stand around longer, while their parents dragged them away.  Which brings to mind the famous saying, “we are all born artist, the challenge is to stay that way as we grow up.” 

 

As I read about this experiment, (it won the Washington Post a Pulitzer for feature writing) I was stuck with the same nagging question that the author of the piece was bothered by: “What else is passing us by?”

 

A world-renowned artist – a master at his craft – is performing and we are concerned about our meeting with the boss at 9am.   A beautiful sunset on a Wednesday afternoon and we are focused on catching the next train? The potential love of your life is sitting across from you and looking directly at you on the subway, and you only notice the text message you got from your ex?  What else are you missing?

 

“Life is what happens while you are busy making plans,” is perhaps my favorite quote.  We spend so much time waiting for something to happen.  Waiting for that amazing person to enter our lives. Getting to work on time and shuffling the meaningless papers on your desk, but it’s our ability to soak up AMAZING moments, that really matter.

 

When the music is playing in your life are you able to hear it? And do you appreciate what you are hearing?  Or are the daily challenges, of work, school, love, family, dealing with frustration and simply survival not allowing you to see and hear the beauty around you.  Is something amazing passing you by?

 

 Shom is a writer who grew up in NYC and now lives in Washington DC, he dabbles writing TV programs and feature length movies.  He has a background working in domestic politics and international affairs.  Shom’s vices include being a Mets fan, playing golf, traveling over seas, chasing his dreams and meeting amazing women. But above all, yell, cry, scream, laugh, jump or run — I don’t care what you do, but don’t live life lukewarmly.

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A good read is being obnoxiously hooked to a book you can’t put down. Delirium by Lauren Oliver will take you there. I suggest you go get your kindle/library visit on.

Beyond Price: Good Reads

Beyond Price: Words that mean something

Most things, even the greatest movements on earth, have their beginnings in something small. An earthquake that shatters a city might begin with a tremor, a tremble, a breath. Music begins with a vibration. The flood that rushed into Portland twenty years ago after nearly two months of straight rain, that hurtled up beyond the labs and damaged more than a thousand houses, swept up tires and trash bags and old, smelly shoes and floated them through the streets like prizes, that left a thin film of green mold behind, a stench of totting and decay that didn’t go away for months, began with a trickle of water, no wider than a finger, lapping up onto the docks. And God created the whole universe from an atom no bigger than a thought.Lauren Oliver in Delirium

In other words, “a journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step”.  Now GO!

Beyond Price: The perfect wing woman

When it comes to being beyond price having great friends is a given. But today’s post is about a particular kind of friend and it is a rarity indeed.

As much as we don’t want to admit it, not every single one of our friends is the type of person we want to go out with on Saturday night-and there’s nothing wrong with that. Some people are just homebodies, some people don’t enjoy drinking at a loud, crowded bar or club; some people are simply not the going out type.  But when you really want to go all out and get your freak on it’s nice to have a friend who knows how to have fun as well as act and dress the part and won’t embarrass you at the door: aka the Wing Woman. 😉

The Perfect Wing Woman has the confidence and energy to dance and stay out all night, like from 9pm to 4am and get breakfast afterwards all night. She doesn’t start drama or ever cause a scene (unless it’s on the dance floor), and she knows the night isn’t a competition to see who gets the most attention or the most phone numbers.  She won’t crowd you when you’re trying to talk to a hottie at the bar but she’ll also pull you away from the creepy old guy who’s trying to grind on you.

She invites you to cool parties and events and you try to invite her to cool things in return even though you don’t know as many cool people as she does.

When she hits you up to go out you already know you’re guaranteed to have a good time. She knows how to live in the moment and celebrates life just because. She’s spontaneous and always keeps you on your toes. Whether it’s going to  a parade on a Tuesday afternoon, hitting up a magazine release party on Wednesday night, or catching the midnight showing of the latest chick flick on a Thursday she’s down for the cause.

She’s assertive without being too bossy, kind without being a pushover, open yet mysterious and down to earth yet still has a crazy side.

She’s always out and about and you wonder how she manages to maintain any sort of balance in her life but somehow you know she does because she’s smart, savvy,  and beautiful. She inspires you to enjoy life for what it is, not what you wish it was or what it will be. To have that kind of person in your life is incredible and that’s truly Beyond Price.

 Amina  @aminazenais a twenty something entrepreneur living life eccentrically independent in the Big Apple. She is an outspoken, gutsy, knowledgable personal trainer  and a youtube partner. She is a wellness advocate and a fitness strategist with a degree in broadcast news from West Virginia University. She lives for fitness, nutrition, natural beauty and makeup products, music, clubbing, cameras and traveling. She is in love with all things organic and hot pink. You can also find her blogging over at http://aminazenablogs.blogspot.com/.

So, I have this friend who has practically been through hell and back trying to find a comfortable, safe, affordable living situation here in New York City. Those of you who live here, have been living here, or have recently moved here, know how disturbingly gruesome and grossly expensive it is to live in this excruciatingly wonderful city. I went through it myself when I first stepped into this city on my own after finishing undergrad at West Virginia, and God was that awful! AWFUL AWFUL AWFUL! I can empathize.

I basically settled for the best I could find, which was a $600 apartment in Woodside, Queens. Was that the location I desired? Not necessarily, I always dreamt of living on the Upper West Side near Central Park where I could go for a run whenever I want amidst the beautiful scenery and  handsome men to stare at. I had no idea where I was and definitely didn’t know my way around Queens. But I managed. That was three years ago. Us, New Yorkers have to learn to adapt, accept, and keep it moving. And FAST!

My dear friend, on the other hand is not the type to settle. And perhaps that’s why she has been having a harder time finding a decent place, but I guarantee by the end of this bumpy road she will find what she is gravely searching for, because she doesn’t give up. Some of the stories she has been sharing with me during our usual outings have been down right horrific, HAUNTINGLY HORRIFIC. She has dealt with scam after scam, ugly after ugly, dirty after disgusting, she has even dealt with a guy holding her-then-supposed-to-be roommate hostage to try to get some money out of her. Crime scene right out of a movie, except this was real life. A REAL CRAPPY-experience… the good, the bad, the horrible happens right here!

I would have been crying my eyes out from the fear and the drama. I know plenty of people who have gone through similar experiences, maybe not as dramatic as the crime scene-but similar in the sense they couldn’t afford anything and have had nightmarish living situations with unwanted roommates. Those people have given up on New York and moved back to their hometown or parents home. I mean, I don’t blame you for doing so, it can be really tough out here. You have to prepare yourself, toughen up a bit. But then again, Frank Sinatra was not lying when he said, “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.” 

….

My friend? Well, she is fine. She is dealing with all the nauseousness of finding a safe, reasonably priced apartment. She is not complaining. She is using her resources. She is making sure she is taking the right steps to get what she wants. She is getting up every morning and living the best life she can live by her means. She is working. She is eating healthy. She is going out and having a good time whenever possible. She is not blaming the world for her mishaps. She is committed to her goals. And that is admirable. Every time I meet her for a drink or two, or invite her to go out dancing, she never turns it down and has a smile on her face. I’ve yet to see this woman breakdown in any way.

SHE IS RESILIENT. And today I’m congratulating her for it. I hope to encourage others to be the same. It doesn’t matter what others have or don’t have. Because everyone starts from a place of nothing. Everything is acquired through time..

RESILIENT – able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions. In spite of all difficulties, you have the strength inside you to do whatever you want.

@ohmylaskmy

Why is this beyond price?

  • Because our day-to-day doings almost always goes unnoticed, and sometimes it is nice to give this ordinary, gibberish day a pat on the back. This ordinary day matters.
  • Because every day we are here, we are up, we are doing something. And getting up matters. 
  • Because every day we get up at the wee hours of the day, we go to work, we hate it, we love it, but we go. And working matters. 
  • Because every day we walk, we commute, we drive, we run, we bike our way from point A to point B. We travel. We go places. And that matters.
  • Because every day we do things for others. We teach, we serve, we fix things, we clean things, we cook, we construct, we calculate, we entertain, we organize, we train, we plan. And that matters. 
  • Because every day we try to make things better. For ourselves. For our children. For our loved ones. For our family. For our friends. And every day that matters. 
  • Because every day we communicate. We talk, we yell, we write, we draw, we tweet, we update statuses, we text, we email, we lie, we tell the truth, we foursquare, we tag ourselves and others, we instagram. And that matters. 
  • Because most days are pretty mundane, but every day we try to find at least some small way to spice it up. And that matters.
  • Because every day we feel things. We get angry, we get annoyed, we get depressed, we get jolly, we get excited, we get hurt, we get hungry, we get scared, we smile, we get happy. And feelings matter. 
  • Because every day we make human contact. We shake hands, we hug, we kiss, we goggle, we touch, we flirt, we fight, we pinch, we tickle. We have sex. or not. And that matters.
  • Because we get intimate. We search for love. We play the game. We play ourselves. We fall in love. We get heartbroken. We try again. And that matters. 
  • Because every day we love. We love our families. We love our friends. We love the random person at the bar who just got us happy drunk. We love the person that accepts us for exactly who we are. We love hard. And that matters. 
  • Because every day we pray. We desire. We hope. We wish for more. We seek. We find. We make goals. We make lists. We scratch things off. And that matters. 
  • Because every day we get to sleep. We get to recharge. We get to dream. We get to end the day and start again. We get a do over. We get to forgive. We get to remember. We get to make progress. We get to change things. We get to transform. And that really matters. 
  • Because every ordinary day counts. Every 365, 366 in a leap year matters. And you should pat yourself on the back for every ordinary day that you have overcome. 

“So I’m ’bout my paper, 24/7, 365 366 in a leap year” 

“I’m not afraid of dyin’, I’m afraid of not tryin’ Every day hit every wave like I’m Hawaiian”- Jay-Z 


While it may be cliché` to some, my son is well beyond any price.  For some having a child is a milestone, for others it comes commonplace following marriage, and to others it is just another responsibility to put off to someone else.  To me he was the miracle that God knew I needed.  Finding myself pregnant at 19 I thought my life was over and all of my dreams of being successful were down the drain.  Before giving birth to my priceless jewel, I made it to class when I wanted and was happy to get a C+.  Don’t get me wrong, I have always been an honor student, but college was just way too fun to focus the way I should have.  However, at some point during my second trimester I realized that my child would be depending on me.  That I would be his example and I knew that for a young minority, male he would need very strong examples to look to.   I knew that I needed to get better grades and most importantly, to be a better me.

The day after David was born, while he slept in his bassinet next to me at the hospital I researched and wrote half of a 25 page paper.  From that day forward, I have never missed the Dean’s List!  Planning my schedule around my cousin and best friend (babysitters), I graduated from undergrad in 3 years, received my Masters with a 3.6 in one year from a two year program and have managed to get accepted to law school and be in the top of my class.  While those are documented accomplishments, David has taught me some things much deeper and much more important than to improve my academic success, but he has taught me to be more caring, more patient, and more understanding of others, but most importantly he has taught me how to love.  Prior to David I was a very selfish teenager that only concerned myself with me.  Through my baby blessing I have learned to love myself more and in turn love and value others.  I now know that material things mean nothing and that time is everything.

Although I pride myself on my academic achievements, I have also made it a point to be a very active parent.  I read to David every night, he knows sign language, is very well-behaved, and I volunteer at his school between classes.  My role as a parent and dependent for David and his role to me as my everything could not be replaced by anything or anyone.  “Mommy” is music to my ears, and while my reality of having a four year old, after not ever wanting children, still feels so surreal, there is nothing more real than the tears that fill my eyes every time I think about how blessed I am to have such a tiny person make such an enormous and positive change in my life.  I just pray that if I can be even half the blessing to him as he has been to me he will be the happiest boy in the universe.

Ironically, another priceless jewel he gives me everyday is bedtime!  His books go back on the shelf and mine come out of my bookbag! It is tough, but I will never ever complain.  Everything I do is for him and I could not imagine my happiness without him. 

 

   Jessica @meatballkisses – is a wildly intelligent go-getter, dedicated to her dreams, her family, and her priceless jewel (her son). She holds a B.A, M.A and currently working towards her law degree from Michigan State University. She is a full time student, full time mother, full time super human who also created The Meatball Kisses Foundation to combat the negative connotations associated with young pregnancy. She believes more than anything in leading by example, in working hard, and in going that extra mile to help others. She is a truly inspiring and riveting woman living a purposely driven life. 

Today, Dominicans around the world celebrate its Independence Day from Haitians rule in 1844.

First, Special homage to – Juan Pablo Duarte who was a liberal leader, visionary thinker, writer, artist, fighter, and founding father of the Dominican Republic. He created a secret society named The Trinity Foundation, to take action to wean the eastern part of the Spanish island the Haitians were trying to dominate. He succeeded and in terms lies the independent country Dominican Republic is today.

* You know you are Dominican if there is at least one person named Juan Perez in your family. Hi dad!

* You know you are Dominican if you take “El Fuku” very seriously.

* You know you are Dominican if you eat mangu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

* You know you are dominican if you learned how to dance merengue and bachata before you could run.

* You know you are Dominican if you grew up listening to Sergio Vargas, Juan Luis Guerra, and Fernando Villalona.

* You know you are Dominican if you can dance without music.

* You know you are Dominican if you ate rice, beans, and some type of meat for dinner yesterday, today, and probably will tomorrow.

* You know you are Dominican, if you’ve gone out on the street to drink with everyone in your neighborhood during an apagon.

* You know you are Dominican if you point by puckering your lips in the direction of the person or thing you are referring to.

* You know you are Dominican if you wrinkle or scrunch your nose to mean, “huh”, or “what”.

* You know you are Dominican if you have showered with a bucket of water in the back of your house when the water is out.

* You know you are Dominican if your grandmother has a picture of a saint in her living room.

* You know you are Dominican if you are use to the saying, “se fue la luz”.

* You know you are Dominican if you have been waken up by a man yelling out “Platano/Aguacata”.

* You know you are Dominican if you can have your groceries delivered to you from the bodega down the street.

Beyond Price: childhood in Dominican Republic (I'm the little girl in the pink sitting on my father's lap)

All jokes aside, we are proud Dominicans with a rich culture. We love our Presidente, our Brugal, our mamajuana. We love our bachata, merengue, y salsa. We love to dance like there’s no tomorrow. We love to be great host. We love house parties and having get togethers more than a club. We love our Goya products and our platanos. We love the same meal almost everyday cause it’s darn good rice and beans. We love to talk. We love to fall in love. Most importantly we love to live life to the fullest. We know how to enjoy and appreciate the things that we do have instead of dwelling on the things that are out of our control. “Se fue la luz!”

Beyond Price: My Father (having a role-model)

When I was asked to write something that is beyond price in my life, I began thinking about so many different examples of which I could be appreciative for in my life. I’m not, by any means, a writer so I could easily think of a few things but had some trouble getting my thoughts written down so please bear with me. Since I consider myself a person of great fortune I couldn’t narrow this down to just one specific experience or memory, so I will give a short list. Immediately, one of the first things I thought about was my father. He taught me so much about myself, being a man, family, and about life. By no means was the man perfect but learning from his actions made me the person I am today.

I didn’t realize the effect he had on my life until he was no longer a part of it anymore from a separated household.  I realized then how much we take for granted, things in our life that just aren’t as common anymore in this day and age. Loyalty, commitment, love, fear of God, patience, joy, humility, honesty, responsibility, forgiveness etc. Every experience from then on was really just a product of how I viewed the world with these new lenses in life.

I wanted to be as great a man that I viewed my father, a great role-model to the community, God fearing man who tried to do right by most, a great father to my children and even try to surpass him in the only part he may be lacking in; being a husband. Having the strength and commitment to be a part of my fraternity, graduating from college, landing my first real job, my spiritual achievements, my wedding, my relationship with my wife, the extreme love I experience when my first child, born on January 27th 2012, looks me in my eyes, holds my finger and looks like he wants to smile; all of these events I can accredit my father somehow. I guess to answer the original question, what is beyond price in my life? It’s the past, present, and future of my bond to my role model: my father.

   Moises @mucaro206is an earnest, meticulous special rep in the medical industry located in Berks County, Pennsylvania. He is well educated, buoyant, and eager about life and all of its unpredictable adventures. He is fully entrenched in filling his role as a loving husband, caring father, devoted brother, and responsible son. He believes in being responsible for where you are and what you are doing there, and in being part of a moment and paying attention to nothing else but that moment. 

80s Baby raised in the 90s.

Taste of childhood: Alphabet letters. Nickelodeon. Disney everything. Aladdin. Lion King. Beauty and the Beast. Banjos. Power Rangers. Candy bracelets. Warheads. Cola bottles. Twister. Bubbalicious. Sega genesis. Sonic. Super Nintendo. Boardgames. Sorry. Guess Who?. Pacman. Birthday parties at Mcdonalds. Pinata. Goosebumps’ books. Dresses with puffy shoulder blades. Ghostbuster. Full House. Boy meets World. Save by the Bell. All That. Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Hat to the back. Summer icy. Teenage Mutant Ninja turtles. Getting dragged to family house parties. Bicycles. Playing house. Video Cassettes. Water gun in the summer. Sprinklers. Barbies. N’Sync. Backstreet Boys. Kenan & Kel. Yankees. Introduction to hip hop. Climbing trees. Britney Spears. My Girl. Home Alone.  Matilda. Clueless. Yo-yo. Legos. Clarissa Explains it All. Beetlejuice. Hocus Pocus. Kids making fun of you if you watched Barney or wore payless shoes. Being terrified of Chucky. Bad hair days almost everyday. Getting grossed out by your parents’ romance. “Who loves orange soda? I love Orange soda”. Your parents being your biggest heroes.

Beyond Price: SIMPLICITY 

When I think of Beyond Price, I pulled out so many different memories from my brain archive.  I thought of songs, movies and events that took place in the course of this ride I call life. Then I thought about the people that were there from the beginning and the people that are here still. I’ve been blessed with awesome people, whether blood related family or little special packages (friends) I picked up along my journey. It’s not just a friendship, it’s a commitment to someone else that says “I got you no matter what because I know you got me.”  Betrayal is inevitable, true Loyalty is POWERFUL beyond measure, beyond price.

We’ve all had those temporary friendships that appear trustworthy but then collapse to nothing when you realize you both have TWO  different definitions of what a friendship is. I swear friends get sent to you to show you lessons in life, to show you what type of people you want around and what type of people you should keep at a distance.  Let’s face it, you can’t trust everyone!

Beyond Price: loyal friends

However, whoever has known you, loved you, respected you and has been there since day ONE, deserve the glory of this write up today. For they are the ones that helped mold my heart and conditioned my understanding of what it means to be a good woman. Through that unfailing loyalty and my dreams, I’ve been convinced that soul mates do exist. THEY are my soul mates, they are the ones who hold my utmost respect and love. I feel honored to know that I have my own team of warriors behind me 200% and even when faced with defeat, WE WIN, because loyalty is something that could NEVER be broken once it is dually established.

You see, I’ve watched my mother and father stay together through the worst of times and the best. I’ve been raised by two committed individuals that understand the definition of loyalty to one another and to their family. It’s much more powerful than love, it is a clear concise appreciation of another person that never gets tainted by exterior or interior factors. I weep for the children I work with everyday that do not feel that from early on. Trust me, they are so many children who need to be embraced by this thought: “whatever happens, I know someone is going to be there for me.” Often times I come across mothers who abandon their children for men, I constantly hear “the father is not involved”, and my personal favorite, “JUST TAKE THEM!”. So many children learn from complete strangers because they never had a strong foundation to begin with. I believe in being that stranger.

Make it a point to be appreciative of those in your own circle of loyalty because it unconsciously starts to guide those standing outside to do the same.  

 J’Ma rie  @ising88xoholds a Bachelor’s degree in Criminology from Barry University located in Miami, Florida. She is a triumphantly young, vibrant, energetic professional presently situated in Berks County, Pennsylvania where she works as a Child Protective Specialist. The biggest love of her life is music and SINGing! She is a huge fan of life’s randomness, joyful moments, noisy parties, people roaring with laughter, endless jokes, and good music.