HEALTH: Take the Challenge and Learn Something New in 30 Days



Few days ago, I glossed over an email from Leo Babauta’s Zen Habits blog asking readers to join the 30-Day Learning Challenge and study one topic for at least 10 minutes a day, every day of the month. Initially uninterested, something struck me as odd. Why not? What was stopping me from wanting to spend a mere 10 minutes to make my life a little better? Absolutely nada, which is why I’m writing today.

“Health and wellness” has become more than a trending catchphrase since diagnosed with severe rheumatoid arthritis. The degenerative autoimmune disease often leaves me immobilized, fatigued and in various stages of chronic pain 24-7. An aggressive regimen of RA medications to manage debilitating symptoms like inflammation, stiffness, decreased muscle strength and joint damage come with a long list of nasty side effects. That said, I am even more determined to live a fuller life as best I can. Integrative holistic alternatives are always on my radar, so expect more posts on the subject. Always on the lookout for ways to improve current circumstances.

First, the 30-Day Challenge sounds fun and encouraging (flying a kite, mastering a new language or cooking technique). Second, you’re never too old to learn something new … my precious mom lived everyday with that in mind. I’m ready to dive in: meditation and Qigong are on the agenda! Changing habits isn’t easy, but you may surprise yourself trying. If needing a nudge, the Zen Habits Sea Change program is a good place to start.

FILM: Groundbreaking Documentary ‘Rubble Kings’ Finally Hits Theaters June 19


Filmmaker and director Shan Nicholson’s long-awaited project of love, Rubble Kings, gets its official summer release this month after years of hard work and dedication on all fronts (Kickstarter and Twitter offer a glimpse). The feature-length documentary uncovers the real-life drama surrounding 1970s New York City gang culture, its remarkably inspiring message and undeniable influence on the birth of hip hop. Take my word, don’t miss this film when it comes to town (in theaters and on demand June 19). Earning full audience support the night I attended its 2011 screening at HBO’s NY International Latino Film Festival, Rubble Kings goes back in time while being timely as ever. Painstakingly researched, this is an important story that needs to be seen and heard … finally. Catch the new trailer on iTunes.


ART: Exquisite Body Paintings Transform Nature Right Before Your Eyes


Look closely at the mesmerizing creation above by fine art body painter Johannes Stötter. Admit it, you can’t help but be in awe of this creative vision as the scene shifts to reveal what’s actually right before your eyes. Every day, we should find something to give thanks for in our lives. Today, I’m happy to turn our attention to such wonder and beauty with audiences visiting here. Watch the following CBS Sunday Morning segment to learn more about Stötter’s amazing body of work, his simple approach to spreading a little more joy in the world and what’s next for the award-winning artist and musician. Then, drop by his website for more cool projects on display. Guaranteed to brighten the day wherever you are.

TRAVEL: Go Bare Feet with Mickela Mallozzi This Holiday Weekend


Memorial Day weekend signals fun in the sun after a long, hard winter for most of us across the nation. Wherever you are, remember adventure is within reach even when you can’t leave the comfort of your home. Limited funds? Dreading traffic to the beach? Take a detour and catch the second season of Bare Feet with Mickela Mallozzi on NYC Life. Check your local listings for this easy, breezy Emmy-winning travel series that lifted my spirit when I really needed it this year. Professional dancer and vibrant travel host Mickela Mallozzi inspires viewers as she “experiences the world, one dance at a time.” New episodes air weekly. Enjoy the journey!

LIFE: Keep It Simple on New Year’s Eve as You Count Down to 2015



I woke up early with New Year’s resolutions on the brain and it dawned on me to keep it simple. The obvious basics are a good start for 2015 and, of course, there’s an app for that! Just remember, you still can dream big while fearlessly setting goals within reach.

What’s on the top of most people’s list? Lose weight, get organized, downsize where necessary and live in the moment as much as possible. A word of advice: grab the book, Small Move, Big Change by Caroline Arnold. The author and Wall Street tech innovator presents an easy enough premise to follow. Rather than expecting epic fails midway through all those grandiose plans, set yourself up to succeed by making microresolutions that may lead to saving more, eating less and improving the quality of your life in the long run. Contrary to popular belief, we can keep our resolutions beyond Jan. 2!

Somewhere in the world it’s already 2015 (shout out Sydney, Australia, and my readers down under who kicked things off in grand fashion). Cheers and Happy New Year! May it be prosperous and blessed.


LIFE: Home for the Holidays and My Hiatus Comes to an End in Memory of Mom

Mom taking in the sights in Iceland.

Mom taking in the sights in Iceland. Photo: Tania Fuentez


If you’ve wondered what’s been going on here lately, kind visitors, don’t fret since I’ve been away from the blogosphere. Simply put, I’ve been noticeably silent for months while faced with a progressively debilitating illness, financial hardships but most challenging of all, the recent death of my dearest and best friend _ my mom.

On the heels of the festive holiday season and High Holy Days, I find it especially difficult to write without a steady stream of tears. So, I promise to keep this post short as I fondly reminisce priceless moments with mom and our travels together. I speak with deep gratitude for the lessons and blessings she imparted over a lifetime. Despite all obstacles, I’ll “step out on faith” just like she would reassure me during our daily talks. I’ll respect my mom’s legacy by upholding her generous spirit, genuine kindness toward anyone she met and that famously boundless sense of adventure and humor.

While I miss her profoundly every day, our bond remains strong. It is my mother’s unconditional love that keeps my grounded and focused on being a better person who can make a difference in someone’s life while on this Earth. That’s something I felt was worth sharing today.

Now, let’s see what tomorrow holds for the hopeful.

ART: Welling Court Mural Project Felt Just Like Family for TOOFLY




Multitalented artist and longtime Queens resident TOOFLY returned to NYC in time to share her creative aesthetic at the fifth annual Welling Court Mural Project by Ad Hoc Art. Of course, the turnout was amazing and community-fueled for this massive public art project, with 128 murals by dozens of internationally renowned participants. TOOFLY’s back in Ecuador now, but she’ll be more than excited to see the fam again for the next installment.



Ad Hoc Art Gallery:

MUSIC: Everything’s ‘Copasetic’ When Manchildblack and DJ Afro Take the Stage




Did you miss Manchildblack and DJ Afro for The Copasetic‘s release party Saturday night in New York? Well, don’t sleep on the band’s performance next month during Slow Knights at Brooklyn Bowl. Without question, Manchild’s smooth, sophisticated vocals and DJ Afro’s sharp production skills and musicianship make an ideal pairing, with both delivering a vibrant mix of funk, R&B, disco and House music for our listening pleasure. If audience reaction is any indicator, I have no doubt this is just the tip of the iceberg. I was caught up in the moment watching the Copasetic’s full outfit energize a gathering at Friends and Lovers, a neighborhood bar in Brooklyn. Manchild and DJ Afro were beaming on stage while performing the new track, If I Ever (available on the Hype Life Music label), and a string of other original tunes.

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Always a supporter of sweet, underground grooves, I can see this act leading the charge in a return to high-quality, soulful music in the mainstream. I’m excited by what the future holds for them! Just listen to the difference. I recently featured Manchildblack on my blog’s Guest Spotlight (Music section). And, in case you’re somehow unfamiliar with DJ Afro’s extensive discography, see him in action with the popular Venezuelan band, Los Amigos Invisibles.


The Copasetic:



ART: Modern Hieroglyphics Magazine Prepares for Premiere Launch in San Francisco


The countdown is on as the hard-working team at Modern Hieroglyphics gears up for its premiere issue magazine launch in San Francisco this week. The crew’s “stoked” to announce that Joe Kay and Julio Galvez of Soulection from Los Angeles are providing vibes for July 25, along with plaad, Mikos Da Gawd and several other guests. Too bad I can’t make the West Coast trek, but I’m just as excited to be a part of the launch because one of my photos will be in the mix on its pages (shout out to 5Pointz curator Meres One)!

Modern Hieroglyphics is a “constantly evolving art publication” created by Jack McKain and respected street artist Chor Boogie. The début has 156 pages, featuring 10 artists from eight cities and more than 200 full-color images. Among interviews and artwork highlighted: Shaka (Paris); Blame One (San Diego, Calif.); Pez (Nantes, France); Nils Westergard (Richmond, Va.); Meres One of 5Pointz (Queens, NY); Chor Boogie (San Francisco); Andre Power of Soulection (Los Angeles); Deb (San Francisco); Well Dressed Vandals (Sydney, Australia) and Noah Scalin (Richmond, Va.).

The magazine will be on sale at the John Colins launch party in downtown San Francisco. Can’t wait to get your hands on a copy? Pre-order online and it ships Aug. 1.

ART: ‘Born in the Bronx’ Brings Visual Record of Hip-Hop’s Early Days to the West Village


Think you know Hip-Hop culture? Test that knowledge while taking in the full scope of Born in the Bronx: A Visual Record of the Early Days of Hip-Hop, an extensive tribute now showing at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise in the West Village. It ends this week, so don’t miss the chance to thumb through a bin filled with Afrika Bambaataa’s record collection (duplicates, of course) or check out Joe Conzo‘s acclaimed vintage prints from back in the day. And, there’s more detailing the vibrant history of an artistic phenomenon that continues to reach new heights and span the globe 40 years after its inception.

Remember those old-school ghetto jam flyers? Well, Born in the Bronx showcases the many designs of Buddy Esquire, called the “king of Hip-Hop flyers” in an NPR article earlier this year following his death. “Some of the most important surviving documents from that period were the party flyers,” the story notes. Other highlights from the exhibit include a grid of original cells from the animated sequences of Charlie Ahearn’s classic Wild Style.

Born in the Bronx, curated by Johan Kugelberg and exhibited by Boo-Hooray, runs through July 26.


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