Generosity in 2016 and Color in 2017

January 1, 2017

Creativity / Generosity / Inspiration / Simple Living

Happy New Year!!!

Since it is officially 2017, I now declare it to be my Year of Color!  I’ll be posting colorful artwork and photography on social media (namely Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter) all year-long.  I am feeling very creative with my visual work, and I just want to challenge myself to create and share more of it!

At the beginning of 2016, I set my sights on making 2016 my year of generosity with acts of kindness for 52 weeks.  I did in fact carry out many acts of generosity throughout the year, and for this post, I wanted to highlight the organizations that benefited from my giving.

Nashville Rescue Mission (https://nashvillerescuemission.org/)
This is a  local non-profit that provides shelter, food, and clothing for homeless men, women, and children in Music City.  I donated lots of bottled water and canned goods.

Pet Community Center of Nashville (http://petcommunitycenter.org/)
As an animal-care non-profit , Pet Community Center provides affordable immunization and other services.  You should check out their monthly mobile unit that goes out to different neighborhoods across Nashville. I took Steinway there for his shots.  They were very sweet to him.

National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers (http://nathpo.org/)
This is a national organization of Native American tribal leaders who work to preserve tribal lands across the United States.  Giving to them is a small gesture I can make towards supporting the indigenous people of the US. This organization helps maintain schools, hospitals, and infrastructure on tribal lands as well as protection and emergency preparedness on sacred sites.

Habit Zen App by Leo Babauta
(https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/532372598/habit-zen)
I am a huge proponent of mindfulness, simplicity, and meditation.  Leo Babauta is a native of Guam who currently lives in the San Fransisco area.  He is the author of the blog zen-habits.net (which is read by millions of people around the world), and I really love his writing and his ideas about simple living.  He’s assembled a small team to build an app that helps people create and maintain healthier habits based on his own work and research.  I am proud to support any thing he does.

Time Out Youth (http://www.timeoutyouth.org)
There will always be a place in my heart Time Out Youth.  TOY is a non-profit organization in Charlotte, NC that carries out support and advocacy for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning youth ages 11-20.  Not only did I seek out their services when I was a 19-year-old living in Charlotte, I also worked as their Youth Programs Director. I made some of the most meaningful friendships of my life, and being a part of the TOY community was the  most affirming experience of my young adult existence.  I needed the love, validation, and support everyone gave to me more than I realized.  This place still exists today, and they are as strong as ever.

Wildlife Conservation Network and the Elephant Crisis Fund  (https://wildnet.org/)
Elephant Crisis Fund
Who doesn’t love elephants? Well, a better question would be why are elephants getting killed by the dozens? The answer to this question is not a simple one. At the center of this issue is a longstanding and illegal ivory trade that has been profitable for anyone involved in it.  There are cultural and economic implications to this terrible crisis, and the only ones paying the real price are these beautiful and sweet creatures whose bodies are slaughtered and left to rot after their tusks are cut and ripped off of their bodies.  This is horrendous, and I hope it ends someday soon.

Rocky Mountain Institute (http://www.rmi.org/)
In spite of those who beg to differ, climate change is real, and it is actually happening. I am trying to do my part by recycling everything I possibly can every week, and by living in a remote and rural home, I have decreased my ecological footprint. (This continues to be a work in progress.)  We as human beings have thus far failed as stewards and caretakers of the Earth’s natural resources, but I believe we have the capacity to be better.  The Rocky Mountain Institute is doing some incredible work through its multi-level approach at tackling climate change both in the United States and internationally.  Their biggest mission is to work with corporations, businesses, and communities across the world to shift their enterprises towards efficiency and renewable energy/resources.  In my mind, global enterprise needs to be led by global sustainability.  I fully support any initiative that advocates for this.

This year represents the most that I have given to charity pretty much ever.  I plan on doing monthly giving to these and other worthwhile organizations in 2017.  From now on, generous giving to others will be a strong and integral part of my life.

 

So there you go!  Bring on the color in 2017!!  Bring on the giving!!

I am looking forward to the year to come! Let’s make every day of 2017 extra special!

My 2016 Fall Semester Reflection

December 28, 2016

Creativity / School

As I announced HERE back in August, I uprooted my whole life, moved into the woods, and enrolled in college.  Currently, I am enjoying my six-week-long winter break (Yay!), and I have been able to slow down enough to reflect on my experiences as a college student.

I gave myself two simple goals for the semester:

  1.  Do not pull any all-nighters.
  2. Get the best grades I possibly can.

On both counts, I was successful.  I managed my time pretty well overall, and I received very good grades in all my classes.  As part of my coursework, I read three full-length novels (in addition to numerous short stories that I took essay quizzes on every week) and wrote one seven-page research paper, one five-page book report, and a critical analysis.  I had at least one quiz or test to study for every single week, and I achieved perfect attendance in all my classes. In spite of all this, there were still no all-nighters for me! Yes! (Insert fist-pump here.)

I took pages upon pages of notes during the semester and became a big fan of using note cards to organize large amounts of information.

Of course, my time was not devoid of stress. Midterms, papers, those daunting essay exams, and comprehensive (!) final exams drove me a little crazy at times, but I got better at all of these with practice.  The work was as rigorous as I expected.

I took advantage of perks like working out every week at the enormous campus rec center, and I spent countless hours studying in the brand-new, state -of-the-art library (which has access to several expansive databases for research.  I totally geeked out.)  I also found a couple of quiet corners that were conducive to occasional Asian power-napping.  Good times.

I was most surprised by the frequent use of cell phones in many of my classes. It was ridiculous actually. Some students would not put their cell phones away at all. They kept texting, taking selfies, reading random crap, or tweeting even as the professor was teaching. I don’t get it. That’s not the kind of student I am, but it seems to be the way of the world right now. Oh well.

In all my classes, I acquired lots of knowledge and information over the last four months.  For posterity, I want to document here the top 10 most valuable concepts that I was able to explore and grapple with:

  1.  Patriotism and Nationalism are two different expressions.  Nationalism is no good under any circumstances whatsoever and is pretty much evil.`
  2. EVERYTHING is propaganda.
  3. The forced internment of 126,000 people of Japanese descent during World War II was one of the most egregious injustices in US history.  In the interest of national security, all three branches of US government, in spite of the systems of checks and balances intended to prevent government overreach, conspired to make it happen.  This incident is a modern precedent for the forced imprisonment of a group of people by the government and the army based solely on race and includes two supreme court cases that justify any such actions.  I am seriously concerned that this will happen again.
  4. Racial injustice is deeply rooted in American history. It is as American as apple pie.  From the slaughtering of Native Americans to slavery and the civil rights movement and to the violent conflicts of today, we have clearly not figured out how to work through this.  Our differences have only served to divide us.
  5. War can be an industry that only the rich and privileged actually benefit from.  The rest of us either die or suffer.
  6.  What I learned in elementary school about how Native Americans were treated as the United States expanded westward was a tame and watered-down version of a brutal and unconscionable truth. It was a slaughtering and a decimation, if you will.  A genocide in every sense of the word. Communal tribes were broken apart and hunted down.  They were looked upon as savages and many were forced to assimilate into what was considered a more civilized, Protestant way of life.  Thousands of families and children were killed and forced off of there land and homes.  The few who were left were forced to live on desolate, undesirable land we now refer to as reservations.  This is the history of the country I currently call home.  It is utterly shameful and infuriating.
  7.  Any and all movement can be a form of dance.
  8. “The Wizard of Oz” was originally written as propaganda with each element and character (like the wicked witch of the west and the yellow brick road, for example) representing geographical and political elements in the argument for and against the mining of silver versus gold in the late 1800’s.  This refers back to #2 on this list.
  9. In terms of sound recording, low frequencies can be adapted and molded more easily than high ones.  Higher frequencies come with fewer options.
  10. Read anything by W.E.B. Dubois.  Totally. Worth. It.

Overall, I enjoyed this fall semester. It got me to extend my thinking outside of my own little bubble.  My humanities and history classes helped me to see the world in different contexts.  All my classes taught me different ways to process important information and understand it all better.

I was not sure if I could do this whole college thing again, but now I know that I definitely can. The spring semester coming up offers some completely new challenges and a much more hectic schedule.  I am going to enjoy the time I have to rest before it starts all over again with some serious piano/cello/ukulele playing, napping, non-academic reading, and cat-cuddling.

My cat will be very happy about that.

Gordon Roqué Performing Live at the French House on Dec. 11

November 25, 2016

Press / Shows

french_house_2016_flyer

After a full semester of school, I am treating everyone to a new show before the year ends.  Today, I am proud to announce that I will be performing a full set of my music at a house show on December 11, 2016.  It will be an intimate show at the very beautiful, charming, and historic French House in Nasvhille, TN that will start at 4:00 PM.

There will be a special guest performance from my friend and fellow musician Leg.  Very light refreshments will be served.

Admission is free and many hugs will be given!

More details will be announced soon!

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Gordon Roqué Supports Hillary Clinton for President

November 8, 2016

Inspiration

 

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On social media, I have refrained from adding my voice to the maddening crowd.  Through the primaries, the party conventions, and the full-fledged presidential campaigns, I have watched and kept my own tabs as we all have witnessed the most divisive and contentious US presidential election in my lifetime.

Now, on election day, I want to announce my support for Hillary Clinton and her running mate Tim Kaine.  I have taken the time to see where she stands on education, LGBT rights, climate change, campaign finance reform, and a whole slew of issues.  You can get informed about where she stands at her official website here.

On several issues, her vision aligns more with my sensibilities.  She has experience in public service as Senator of New York state, in addition to having been a lawyer, law professor, a first lady, and Secretary of State for President Obama.  Of course, she is also a woman, a mother, and a grandmother with the life experience of having built a career while raising a child.

To me, all of these elements strongly qualify her to attain the highest office of the land.

Is Hillary Clinton perfect? No.

Is she without questionable flaws? No.

I am one among many people who does not fully trust politicians in general; however, this does not mean that I need to be apathetic and just give up. I can choose to be discerning.  I can let my thoughts and voice be heard and do my part to improve my own life and the community I live in.

I choose Hillary Clinton because I simply believe that she is more experienced, qualified, and capable than the current Republican Presidential Candidate (who, on this and any of my sites, will not be named).

Speaking of the Republican Presidential Candidate, here is some food for thought:

And then, how about something very poignant . . .

With your vote, you have the power to decide the fate of our nation.

Use your vote.  Use your power.

The choice, as I see it, is between Hillary Clinton and a demagogue who is completely unfit and unqualified to be President of the United States and leader of the free world.

I choose Hillary.

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One of the Best Decisions of my Life

October 10, 2016

Simple Living

Art by Gordon Roqué

As previously announced, I am currently a college student, and along with this new venture, I have had a growing desire to express my thoughts and share what I have been learning.

I have decided to start posting regularly on my blog again.  Not only will you receive updates on forthcoming shows and creative projects, you will also be reading about many thoughts and viewpoints about the world at large that I hold dear or sincerely grapple with.  Some of these perspectives will come from the college education I am enjoying, and many others will stem from my personal life experiences.

For this first installment, I discuss a decision I made for myself that has exponentially improved the quality of my life.

A few years ago, I decided to stop watching television.

In my case, I stopped paying for cable, and more recently, unsubscribed from Netflix.  This means that watching television on a regular basis in any forum does not happen in my life AT ALL.  (I also get to save money. Cable is not cheap.)

When I visit my sister, I might do a Netflix binge just for the fun of it, but this is a rare exception, not a rule.  I mainly watch television in social settings, like the Superbowl Half-time show, a Presidential Debate, or an Oscar party, but that is it.

There are three reasons why I stopped watching tv.

Reason #1:  Time is extremely valuable.

Television is designed to be addictive.  There are incredibly talented writers on tv shows who create compelling stories with endearing characters.  They know how to reel you in. After one episode, you are hooked.  You care about the good guy, rally against the villains, gasp at the cliffhangers, and sit at the edge of your seat enamored of it all for however many seasons (at 22 or more episodes per season). Yes, there’s some excellent and engrossing television out there, but at some point, I had to ask myself .  .  .

Do I really want to spend countless hours of my own life  watching other people actually do something with theirs?

Television is so addictive that it is far easier to have more of it than less.   So, I decided to have none of it.  I want to look back on my life and know that I did more than just stare at a glass screen.  That may be fine for some people, but that is not a life for me.

Reason #2:  Advertising clutters my mind with unnecessary demands.

People in the advertising industry are a shrewd bunch.  Large corporations hire talented teams of people to figure out how to get your money, and they are wildly successful.  The slick ads on tv selling delicious food at a restaurant, a ravishing piece of jewelry, a cool pair of shoes, and any number of items you do not need are virtually inescapable and are designed to be enticing.  The ads also play over and over again so that they can get in your head.    To me, it has always felt more like a form of brainwashing.  There are all these voices telling you what you need and what looks good.

When it comes to my sensibilities, the only voice that truly matters is my own.

When you let advertising dictate your tastes and influence what your desires should be, you give them power over you.  Advertising controls television.  I refuse to let it control me.

Reason #3: Watching television is a one-way conversation.

Have you ever had an argument with someone who would not even listen to your side of a story?  Was it like talking to a brick wall?  Was it maddening and frustrating when you did not get a response?  What did it feel like to be disempowered and disenfranchised in that way?

Back when I watched TV, I was passively letting everything I saw into my head.  Sure, I could change a channel, but every channel created its own programming.  Every show had its own propaganda and cultural agenda whether I agreed with it or not.

Television has never answered any of my questions .  .  .

In the most ethnically diverse country in the world, why do white people portray the VAST MAJORITY of roles in American television? Are they the most deserving of that privilege?

How the heck does everyone have perfect hair ALL OF THE TIME?

Why does MTV exist when music is now the least of its concerns?

How in the world is FOX News considered a legitimate news source?

Why are the Kardashians important?

Do we really have to have HUNDREDS of TV shows and channels to choose from?

I am not a fan of one-sided conversations.   My thoughts and concerns have value, and I would rather explore and exchange them in ways that are substantive and worthwhile.

For the record, I am not trying to convince anyone of the evils of television. These are all just the reasons why it is intentionally not a part of my life.

If I am not watching television, I have time for a more active existence .  .  .

Conversations with friends and loved ones.

Reading books.

Playing LOTS of music on my piano.

Writing for school and on this blog.

Art and photography.

Baking delicious quiches.

Cuddling with my cat.

Exercising.

Napping.

Studying for school.

Taking meaningful actions to better myself.

In the end, my worldview and my well being are my own to mold.  Television, with all of its tantalizing treasures, has no say in these matters, and this is fine by me.

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