Swag in the Bag

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Streets of Cartagena, Colombia. 2016

No need to try too hard. Just always do your best. Accept what’s not meant. Be kind to others. Stay true. Remain humble. Don’t stress. Nuture your passion, as if it were a child. Stay focused. Have an opinion. Stand for something. Let your voice be heard. Have goals. Continue to add to your bucket list. Live your dreams. Help other people. Smile often. Love hard. Laugh out loud. Have an open mind, and heart. Appreciate and enjoy the littel things. Read. Express your feelings. Write daily. Stop to smell the roses. Understand that you’re a student, for life – always learning. Make mistakes once, then wisen up. Know better, do better. Teach what you know. Share information. Travel the world. Broaden your horizons. Become acquaintances with many. Eat delicious food. Strengthen relationships with family and friends. Don’t waste time on the unnecessary. Remember less is more. Have faith. Have role models. Set a good example. Understand that children are always watching, and they mimic what they see. Become one with the fact that you can’t master everything. Unleash your talent and share it with the world. Always do your best, because you’re meant to shine as bright as anyone else. Own your identity. The life you’re living was only meant and designed for you – embrace that. Don’t like something, change your thinking and it will change your life. Sing out loud. Dance like no one’s watching. Sit in silence for re-grounding purposes. Live by the golden rule. Have compassion. Understand that most of what we know is only the tip of the iceberg. Live in the moment. Don’t worry. Don’t judge. Take risks. Listen to the universe. Look for signs. And finally, so that you don’t miss your flight, pack light. You need nothing more than swag in your bag.

Meditate on Purpose

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Cartagena, Colombia. 2016

I don’t do it often enough, at least not in any traditional way. I don’t have a special pillow, particular place or time of day. I don’t listen to any distinct songs or sounds, and I don’t try to completely empty my mind. I move at a pace that best fits the moment, my moment. I don’t meditate on purpose, it just happens – and when it does, I meditate on purpose! Who am I? What am I feeling in this moment? What does it mean to sit in silence, trying to connect with God, the universe, myself and reasons for existing? I choose not to allow complaints into these moments. All things and people placed in my life, existing in my life, are all a part of a plan. But why, what is their purpose? They all play some role. It can be as minor as the 13 markers in my bookbag (which actually serves no purpose at all, at this moment), or as major as having a device that allows me a few minutes of FaceTime with my mother. Much of what is in between is up for elimination. Everything existing in my world causes an effect on one another, because they all affect me – I am the common denominator. I am the one who decides to build on something, or break it down and remove it. If I’ve read a book that has greatly encouraged me and has served its purpose by reading it once, then maybe it’s time to pass that book on to someone else – why allow it to sit in one place and be useless. This way of thinking is applied to all things, and people.

In moments when I realize what I want, I act on my wants,  and those actions lead me toward introductions to new people, places, ideas, eventually tangible things or new feelings. All is connected! Seeing life in this light has everything to do with being conscious. I am not only meditating on my purpose, I’m meditating on the purpose of the amount of clothes in my dresser drawers, the purpose of the groceries in the cabinets, the purpose of spending time with people who may or may not add any value to my life, the purpose of exercise (for the mind, body and spirit), the purpose of love, laughter, inspiration, faith and so on. All things I try my best not to take for granted. Everything and everyone has a reason for existing in my world. One thing I know for sure about myself, is that I’m always spring cleaning, because I value “less” as being so much “more”. Meditate on that!

Art Event Announcement: DMC Original’s Shape Your Peace

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Photo taken at the DMC Original Solo Art Exhibition: Whatever Glitters is Gold. Brooklyn, 2015.

I’ve been working with paint colors since 2010. I coordinated volunteer events for people to paint murals at schools and community centers, but I was no artist. At least not until two years later. I became inspired to spread paint over blank canvases, similar to the way I’ve crafted words together to create stories. I was exploring a new creative outlet, a new type of journal. I am expressing myself through blended colors and golden highlights.
I began posting photos of the finished pieces to my social media networks, and surprisingly received a lot of feedback from my peers. They seemed intrigued. They’d hit the “Like” button on Instagram and Facebook, then followed up with a comment or private message, “how much?”. When I sit down to paint, I never know what’s going to be created, until it’s complete. Sometimes I reveal pain. Sometimes love. Sometimes hope. I noticed that no matter what story the painting is telling, there is always a search for peace.
After almost three years of painting and having created over 100 pieces, I held a premiere art exhibition for DMC originals in October 2015. It was a solo show that took place at Amarachi Lounge in Brooklyn, NY. The show was entitled “Everything that Glitters is Gold”. I wanted my paintings to encourage people to see the possibilities. As they scanned their eyes over the layers of paint from each corner of the canvas, I hoped for them to see that they were on a journey: jumping over forced shapes, sliding down blended colors, climbing up impulsive angles, inspired by bold golds, all in search of the peace everyone is trying to find. A great amount of people showed up to the exhibit, and my art was just as well received as my children’s book during the signing for Peers, Cheers, and Volunteers in 2013. I loved that I was able to bring people together for an evening filled with art, love, laughter and an open mind for creativity. Many went home that night with their very own DMC original. I was lifted! In that moment, I felt that I was in the right place, at the right time, doing the right thing – existing in part of my purpose.
So, I’m indulging again! I invite you to come out to Verboten in Williamsburg, Brooklyn on Saturday, January 30th from 5-10 pm for an evening of art in every form, a PHD Experience (see flyer below). DMC originals will be on display, in addition to live music, dance performances and so much more.
When I think about the people who have DMC originals on display in their homes, I hope they understand that they have more than just a painting. It is mostly my intention to inspire them to see beauty in all things.
You are encouraged to follow this blog and my Instagram page @dani_chery. Cheers.
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Children Around the World…

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…are reading Peers, Cheers, and Volunteers. (Photo taken by DMC. South Africa, 2015). 

Flashback to January 2012, when I met a school librarian on a volunteer event in New York City. I innocently expressed how much I simply admired the books he had on display in his library, which then led to me inform him that I had a dream of one day becoming a published children’s author. In that moment, the universe conspired. The librarian said to me, without hesitation, “If you’re serious…I know authors, publishers, and illustrators. I can connect you with them. You can make this dream of yours come true.” I’ve invested energy in this idea numerous times before, but that particular conversation felt more authentic than any of my previous efforts. When I got home later that day, I sat down with the intent of writing the first page of a story. It wasn’t until the pen hit the paper, when I had a true realization of the need to craft a realistic fiction, with a message about the impact volunteers create in the world.

Eighteen months later, at the age of 25, my children’s book Peers, Cheers, and Volunteers was published. Thousands of children in New York City, and around the world are reading Peers, Cheers, and Volunteers – a story with universal messages about compassion.

Available on Amazon.com for $9.99. Learn more by visiting the Facebook Page.

Forever, Incomplete.

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I am not now, all that I’ll ever be. There’s so much more to me. A flower blooming on any day. I make a way. No road blocks, only detours. I see more. Beauty, in all things. Color, in darkness. I am the light. A responsibility to seek possibilities. I am hope. I am power. I have the key to open the doors. Seeking more, and more. Unstoppable. Running. Looking. Touching. Feeling. Carrying on. I glide from the inside. There’s peace on my trail. The trail I create. Every experience has its lessons. So many blessings. I’m grateful. Thankful, to know that there’s always more. As long as I’m alive, there’s always more. An opportunity to inspire. A chance to make change. A moment to rearrange, thoughts. No mistake is made twice. After the first, it then becomes choice. Wisdom. Look back on history and apply it to the future. Choosing the battles. Choosing the beauties. Choosing the legend. With faith, I’m fearless. Compare less. This is my journey. I am the writer of my story. No lies. Destiny. Forever on my team. I cheer for me. I’m here for me. Incomplete, for eternity. I am not now, all that I’ll ever be. There’s so much more to me. I am possibility. It’s true, you are too!

My Mirror, My Reflection.

I’ve looked in a lot of mirrors. Anything that would show a reflection, I’d sneak a peek. I wasn’t looking for the me I know, I was looking for the person other people saw. I’ve learned over time that when you look for that person, you play into other people’s definition of you. Now, when I look in the mirror – I’m looking at the me I’ve created, and the me I’ve introduced you to!

Metaphorically, I consider myself having the nature of an iguana. Iguanas are masters of camouflage.  As a young girl, I had a tendency of blending into environments until I’ve become comfortable enough to show my true colors. Sometimes, it was because I thought I was supposed to become my surroundings, other times it was because I didn’t think people would understand me. These ideas led me to not believe in having a real dream for myself. I had no aspirations. No passion, no belief, no yearning – for anything! I spent too much time assimilating. I didn’t want people to recognize my differences. Over time, I’ve learned to embrace those differences. The same people I wanted to be like, inspired me to be myself. The same people I followed, encouraged me to continue on to my own path. And, I truly believe that we always end up right where we belong.

College nurtured my interest in writing, and helped me develop a deeper understanding of this beautiful craft. Studying abroad in Australia nurtured my interest in traveling the world, and helped me develop a deeper understanding of cross-cultural existence. Working at a non-profit organization and managing volunteer events nurtured my interest in community service, and helped me develop a deeper understanding of the impact volunteers have on society. Each experience has taken me on an adventure, all the while introducing me to amazing people who would impact my life along the way. These experiences, these stepping stones, these mirrors I’ve been glancing at – have allowed me to reflect on my life and connect dots that would spell out some ways I now define myself. I am a published children’s author, an artist, a humanitarian, a world traveler, a free spirit and so much more.

It feels amazing to wake up every morning with new dreams and a purpose! I’ve spent plenty of time idolizing varied public figures for different reasons. Admiring others and the joy that seems to exist in their lives, should only be inspiration to wake up and reach for the same opportunities. I want to travel through life dreaming and leading by example. It’s extremely rewarding when I feel as though I am practicing what I preach, walking the walk, honoring my words, and exemplifying greatness. People are watching, and they mimic what they see. When each one, teaches one – we learn the true power we possess; the impact we have on others. Everyone is looking in a mirror, often times being defined by others, blending into their surroundings, and temporarily confused by their reflections. Step out, and reveal the true you – so that someone else may do the same. My mirror, my reflection. FullSizeRender (3)