Roque’s Weekly Review for 8/8/2018

August 8, 2018

Creativity / Roque's Weekly Review

Hello Beautiful People,

This is another weekly check-in on progress that I am making toward all of my creative projects. I have to admit that it is challenging to be productive in the summertime. It is sunny outside and the warmth in the air makes it conducive to lounging about and being decadently lazy. I’ve done some of that, but there is always a small voice in my head telling me to get up and do what I do.

I’ve been doing lots of creative work despite the sun and her temptations. Let’s run this down .  .  .

1. I have started a new art piece. I’ll post a photo of my progress every week on these updates.  It will be glacial in its formation.
Check out the first photo:

2. My blog, Tropical Shade of Green, is my way of practicing my writing and laying out my thoughts in an engaging and concise way.  Here are links to my most recent posts. (This first one is particularly valuable.)

I Live My Life In a Generosity Loop

Learn From the Past But Live in the Present.

A Morning Routine Will Ground Your Life.

3. I am an avid book reader, and much of my time this summer has been spent getting lost in several writings. I just finished the first book in the His Dark Materials Series by Philip Pullman called The Golden Compass. Before I tackle the next book in that trilogy, I am currently reading this:

4. As I reported last week, the music from my first album Seahorses is now available on Bandcamp in a “pay what you want” format. You can download the songs for free or pay a nominal amount that would go toward funding my musical pursuits. Here is the link:

roquemusic.bandcamp.com

5. I have an annual show that I do in my home in the woods. It is called Roque’s Piano Salon, and it will feature local performers and all three of my pianos.  There will be food and refreshments. This is a private event, but if you are interested in going, please let me know in the comments. This is the event flyer:

Well, that’s all I have to report on my end.

Until next week, be kind and generous to yourselves and each other.

-Roqué

 

Roque’s Weekly Review for 8/1/2018

August 1, 2018

Creativity / Intention / Piano / Roque's Weekly Review

Hi Everyone,

It’s time for another weekly update! Today is August 1st! This is my birthday month! As such, I have a lot to share over the next 31 days!

1. Here are a couple of the newest posts from my blog Tropical Shade of Green (Click on the Link to Visit) :

Learn From the Past But Live in the Present.

A Morning Routine Will Ground Your Life.

Surround Yourself with Good People.

2. Pay what you want for Roque’s Music:

In honor of my birthday month and for a limited time, the songs off of my debut album Seahorses will be available on my band camp store with the option to pay what you want. This includes a free option if you so desire; however, any amount you can give will go a long way toward supporting my music and my visual art projects.

Check out my Bandcamp store by clicking here:

roquemusic.bandcamp.com

3. Roque’s Piano Salon on Sunday, August 19th!

I am having a  piano concert at my home in Liberty, TN in a couple of weeks. My friends and pianists Oliver Flowers, Matilda Earl, and others have been scheduled to play. It’s gonna be a super fun show that will involve three different pianos!! Yay!

I have MORE to announce next week!

See you then .  .  .

Roqué

 

Roque’s Weekly Review on 7/25/2018

July 25, 2018

Creativity / Intention / Roque's Weekly Review

Accountability is a good thing.  Sharing is a good thing, and as such, I have decided to post weekly updates on my website roqueinbloom.com regarding my musical and visual art projects that are on the way.  I have reached a new time in my life in which I want to share more about my creative work and ongoing progress I am making on several fronts.  This is the inaugural RWR post, and it will be an ongoing review of the work I have accomplished on a weekly basis. I also feel that if I tell you what I am working on and when it will be ready, then I am accountable to you to make it happen. This is a good thing that will help keep me on track.

New editions of RWR will come out every Wednesday from now on. So, here we go:

1. Tropical Shade of Green

As some of you may know already, I relaunched my weekly blog into its own dedicated web space this past month. That space is called Tropical Shade of Green, and there are a couple of newer posts up if you haven’t seen them already. Here are some links:

A Morning Routine Will Ground Your Life

Over the last few months, I’ve been honing in on getting down a regular daily routine. I am close to getting one down, but there is still much to tweak .  .  .

Our 2nd Annual Filipino Dinner

In my neighborhood, some Filipino friends and I cooked up a storm of Filipino delicacies.  It was all yummy. Photos included.

Surround Yourself with Good People

What company do you keep? How discerning are you about the kinds of people you spend time with? Are they good for you?

2. Pianissimo

Over the last several years, I have released a monthly e-newsletter called The Wonderful World of Gordon (also called the WWOG for short).  It’s been a while since I released an issue, and since I now go by the name Roqué, it is time for a newsletter revamp. This newsletter has a new name that is one of my most cherished words in the English language. It refers to one of my favorite ways to play the piano. Pianissimo means to play softly and slowly. This is the new name of my newsletter. It will include a slew of updates on upcoming projects as well as artwork and a reimagined poetry room.  The first issue comes out on my birthday month August 2018. More details to be announced.

3. Where Pianos Roam

A new installment of episodes from my darling side project Where Pianos Roam is forthcoming. I cannot promise that this will be a long season, but it will be a good one. Oreo and her rowdy bench are up to more adventures and shenanigans.

4. Roque’s Piano Salon

My annual piano concert at my home in the woods happens again on August 19, 2018. There will be guest pianists on hand to dazzle us with their sweet and enchanting melodies.  More details to be announced.

Obviously, I have a lot going on, but it is all creative work that I love and enjoy.

Stick around for the ride and check in for another edition of RWR every Wednesday from now on.

-Roqué

 

Tropical Shade of Green Launches on July 10th

July 5, 2018

Uncategorized / Website Updates

I have decided to expand my website a little by giving my blog, writing, and poetry its own dedicated online space. Tropical Shade of Green (TSOG) will officially launch on July 10th and will feature all of my weekly blog posts and new poetry.  Most of the blog posts I have written over the last year will be migrated to this new site.

Roqué In Bloom (RIB) will still stand as my main website and primary hub for all of my creative pursuits, but since my writing will be the most consistent offering of all that I do, I want it to have its own space to grow and flourish.

Otherwise, RIB will offer weekly news, announcements, and status updates on upcoming and ongoing projects. I have a lot coming down the pipeline over the next few months.

Thank you for riding along on this creative journey of mine, and I’ll see you over at Tropical Shade of Green for weekly musings on simplicity, various social issues, creativity, and life in general.

-Roqué

 

There Is an Immigrant In All of Us

July 1, 2018

Culture and Society

Have you ever found yourself in a completely new and slightly scary situation?

Maybe you started a new job and had to learn your work from scratch (in addition to getting to know your new co-workers and how to find everything in a new building).

Maybe you were forced to give a speech or presentation in front of a lot of people on the fly.

Perhaps you moved to a new city without a friend in sight and no idea of where to find a good grocery store or better gas prices.

Maybe you’ve been in a hospital about to undergo an operation. The prospect of strangers cutting you up and doing whatever they want to your body while you are unconscious is unsettling.

Maybe you walked onto a car dealership feeling like you knew what you wanted and left feeling like someone just took advantage of you.

What do all of these scenarios have in common?

For starters, they all involve being in a foreign environment. Secondly, they also involve some degree of fear, feeling out -of-sorts, and being vulnerable.

Now, imagine moving to a foreign country. People speak a completely different language. There are ways of showing respect and gratitude that are confusing. Their food tastes weird to your tongue. You have no idea how to get anywhere, and the public transit is mind-boggling. You miss your family and friends terribly. You miss the comforts of the food and places you were used to. You feel alone and afraid.

Being an immigrant involves being in a foreign environment. It is an experience that can be rife with fear, feeling out-of-sorts, and a sense of uncontrollable vulnerability.

Does any of this sound familiar?

Right now in America, the immigration debate has finally reached the forefront of our national attention. Immigrant families and children are being used as bargaining chips by our own president. Initiatives geared toward cracking down on illegal immigration are racist and inhumane.

Where is the compassion?
How do we find actionable solutions that treat all people with respect and dignity?
Surely we can do better than separating children from their parents and incarcerating all of them?

I will not pretend that I have all of the answers, but perhaps one place to start is to know that immigrants are essentially no different from anyone else. They have dreams. They want to build a good life for themselves and their children. They are intelligent. They know how to love. They feel sadness and fear. They have the capacity to work hard and help others.

If they are no different, then they are the same.

The next time you feel vulnerable, lonely, or afraid, remember that there is an immigrant in the world who is also feeling those things.

The only difference is that their situation might be far more terrifying, sad, and hopeless.

Helping immigrants helps all of us.

Compassion for immigrants is compassion for ourselves.

There is an immigrant in all of us.

-Roqué

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Reading Will Save the World: Summer Reading

June 24, 2018

Culture and Society / Reading Will Save the World

The Summer Solstice just happened, and that means it is officially summer. Reading books is one of my favorite activities during this time of year, and I have a small handful of them to recommend.

There are generally two kinds of books I read these days, and I’ll be offering up a couple of suggestions from each option.

The first kind of books I’ve been reading lately have been for pure escapism and entertainment. I love to dive deep into an imaginative space that is full of awe, mystery, intrigue, and wonder. On a daily basis, I exist in a literal and linear physical habitat, but in my head, there are no such limits. An imagination needs to be cultivated in ways that are boundless. I seek out books that help me do this.

The second kind of books I have been reading lately probably fall under what most would call “self-help” books. This designation seems to have a bad rap. It implies that it is usually a bunch of generic psycho-babble. I do not doubt that there is plenty of this out there, and this is why I take the time to find books that actually have substantive content that is well researched and thoughtfully written.

So, on with the first kind. Here is a book (or a series of them) that will take you on a sweet, engaging, and delightful adventure!

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs:

As you might already know, this book was made into a feature film. I first heard about it by watching the movie in a theater. The movie was great, but this book was even better.  It tells the story of how a group of children with special powers hide in plane sight among ordinary people across time. There are some incredibly clever plot devices in the story. It is well written  with steady pacing and endearing characters. I do not want to give anything away, and I highly recommend reading it! The story is so good that I believe it will eventually stand among behemoths like the Harry Potter Series and the Golden Compass as a modern fantasy classic. When I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down.

Wanna know something even better about this book?

There are already two of its sequels in print:

Hollow City:


Library of Souls:

Wanna know something even better? The fourth book, Map of Days, was just announced, and it will hit bookstores on October 2, 2018:

Now, on to the second kind:

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

There is so much wisdom in this little book. For myself, I want to live a life in which I am truly engaged in the activities and relationships that I actually want and desire. What this book provides is perspective and a framework on how to think more strategically about the decisions we make regarding our time and personal resources.  It gets down to the nitty gritty right off the bat, and it is truly a learning experience to devour.

Well, that’s it for now! I hope you can find a book that you can sink your teeth into and bask in for a while over these long and hot summer days.

Happy Reading!

-Roqué

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Visual Poems by Roqué

June 17, 2018

Creativity / Visual Poemts

This summer, I am releasing short digital art pieces that I am calling “Visual Poems”.  They will generally be no more than one minute in length and will include video footage with any combination of spoken word poetry and/or original music.

They can be viewed exclusively on my new Youtube channel, and I will announce on all social media when new poems are released.

Why am I doing this?

I want to explore different ways of expressing my ideas. I have always been a musician, visual artist, and writer/poet.  As such, why don’t I combine all of these skills into something that is textured and multi-dimensional? Why stick to only one when I can utilize all three?

In any case, I am releasing the first visual poem today. It includes part of a song that I wrote last fall called “The Memory”.

Enjoy .  .  .

Please stay tuned for more visual poems to come.

-Roqué

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My Summer of Art and Creativity

June 3, 2018

Creativity

It’s June!! Now that summer is upon us, I am feeling blissfully excited to create magical, beautiful things. There is a small handful of projects I want to take on over the next three months, and I’ll be sharing my progress on Instagram and social media.

Here are the upcoming projects in a nutshell.

Creative Thesis Project
The biggest project I am tackling is one related to school. This is a sizable undertaking that will require a large amount of thought, time, and effort. Work begins this month. More on that later.

Photography
Some of you may have noticed the photos of flowers I’ve been posting on social media. Those photos are the result of my tinkling around with my new DSLR camera which is a Nikon D5600. I want to get better at photography, and I’ll be posting more floral and landscape photos.

Stippling
You may recall the pointillism art that I have done in the past. Here is an example of one of my pieces:
I want to start a new piece, and I am trying to decide what it will be. I may or may not incorporate some watercolor. These pieces take a long time to finish, and I will probably just take my time with it. We’ll see. I’ll be posting my progress on it on Instagram once I get started.

Where Pianos Roam

Finally, there will be a new season of my whimsical side project, in which I document the exploits of a traveling miniature grand piano and her rowdy bench.  I’m hoping the new vignettes will start appearing in late July across all social media.

Visual Poems
I am working on integrating my music and poetry with visual video vignettes. This is one of the first steps in this direction.  I have lots of ideas I want to try out. Look for the first video vignette to launch from my youtube page soon.


So, that’s my upcoming summer in a nutshell. I will not have a full schedule of classes to contend with, and my cat Steinway already has me penciled into his schedule for daily feedings, cuddling, and poop-scooping. Sigh.

What are you doing this summer?

-Roqué

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Help To Veto HB 2315 in Tennessee

May 17, 2018

Culture and Society / Intention / Uncategorized

Here’s a phone number:

615-741-2001

When you dial it, you can leave a message for Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam to veto the extreme immigration bill that the TN Legislature just passed. This bill is called HB 2315.  It is designed to undermine the existence of so-called “Sanctuary Cities” by authorizing every police officer to detain anyone for immigration reasons and initiate mass deportations.

THE GOVERNOR HAS UNTIL MAY 22 TO VETO HB2315!!

Please call and urge him to VETO this dangerous bill!

Here is an excerpt from a statement issued by the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC):

“HB2315 sets a dangerous precedent by severely restricting the ability of local police to make common-sense, public safety decisions, and forcing local governments to bear the risk and expense of federal immigration enforcement.,” said Stephanie Teatro, Co- Executive Director of TIRRC

 Over the course of many weeks of committee debate, members of the General Assembly heard concerns from local law enforcement, city and county officials, and others. The sponsors were unable to answer basic questions about the legal, practical, and financial implications of the bill or address the concerns about its broad impact and likely unintended consequences.

“During committee debates, the Senate sponsor invited the anti-immigrant hate group FAIR to testify, while the House sponsor used an ethnic slur when presenting the bill,” Teatro continued. “We’re alarmed and disappointed that legislators sided with the interests of the most extreme fringe of the electorate, rather than heed the warnings from law enforcement and local governments.” 

The passage of the bill comes on the heels of a massive ICE raid in Bean Station, Tennessee, where nearly one hundred people in a meatpacking plant were arrested and detained in the largest worksite raid in a decade. Workers at the plant reported rough treatment and detention despite having work authorization, a clear violation of the law and basic, constitutional rights.

It is appalling to me that in a country founded by colonialists and built by immigrants and their children that we have not figured out ways to be compassionate and fair to all of the new immigrants who want to build new lives in America.

Criminalizing immigrants and detaining them indefinitely against their will is inhumane. When you factor in the immense costs involved with operating detention centers and deporting thousands of people, these are resources that could be utilized to support immigrants instead of mistreating them.

If given the chance, most, if not all immigrants, would go through all of the legal and proper channels to become a legal resident or citizen. Unfortunately, there are immense costs involved (in terms of  thousands of  dollars in processing fees and money needed to pay lawyers), impossibly long wait periods that have been known to take several years, and an arbitrary system that does not treat all applicants equally.

If you live in America, there is a chance that you have a friend who is an immigrant from another country. There is an even greater chance that you are descended from immigrants in your own family. In either case, the humane treatment of immigrants is something that relates to all of us in this country. Instilling fear and locking people up is not a solution.

Please call Governor Haslam and urge him to veto HB 2315.

-Roqué

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Developing a New Social Media Philosophy

April 29, 2018

Culture and Society / Intention

At some point in recent time, we all got swept under the assumption that we need to have social media as an integral part of our daily lives. Someone somewhere decided that this was good for us, and this mentality became viral.
Nowadays, it is perfectly normal to constantly check how many likes you have on Facebook and to post endless selfies on Instagram and Snapchat.

Does the qualification of being “normal” necessarily make it right? Does the convenience of social media make it absolutely imperative to engage with it all of the time?

At this point, my answer to both questions is no.  I have reached this conclusion only because I have found that the disadvantages of your forum of choice (whether it is Twitter, Instagram, FB, or something else) far outweigh the advantages.

Let’s make a couple of lists.

Advantages of Social Media

  • Constant interaction with friends near and far
  • Sharing one’s life with friends, family, and colleagues through posting pictures, stories, and other content
  • Free and unlimited usage
  • It’s funDisadvantages of Social Media
  • Highly addictive
  • Personal information is used by companies for marketing purposes and other nefarious intentions such as influencing voter behavior
  • Encourages disingenuous posts by users that are misleading and present a false reality
  • Cultivates online stalking behavior
  • Time-consuming
  • Provides exposure to news and media content that is fake or unsubstantiated
  • Creates a false sense of worth through likes and comments
  • Distracts from more important work in one’s life that involve creativity and deeper focus

Obviously, these are my own perceptions,  but all of the points included in these lists are the most significant to me.  We all drank the water and somehow, have become convinced that social media is not only okay but also essential to our connection with the world and our sense of personal identity.

I am not going to drink this water anymore, and I am formulating my own strategy of how to achieve a healthy distance from social media in ways that magnify its benefits and significantly minimize its risks.

Here are some of the new social media practices I will try out:

1. No more hashtags.

Hashtags are supposed to attract attention to your posts, and to some degree, they do. The problem I find is the kind of attention they attract. Hashtags seem to create a paper trail that maps out what you value and what your interests are. These are exactly the kinds of things that advertisers are looking for. I am basically advertising my own sensibilities out to the world for companies to exploit. Why would I do that? From now on, no more hashtags

2. Limit likes on Facebook to close family members and friends

Again, one’s likes create a map of one’s preferences and inclinations. By limiting them to the activities of a small handful of people, this map ought to be deemed useless. I will not be liking any products, services, and content that gives companies more insight into my wallet and time.

3. Only post content that adds value to others or has meaning to me.

I generally do this anyway, but you won’t find me posting a bunch of selfies. I’ll showcase my photography, blog posts, music and shows, creative work, and anything that involves thought, depth, and hard work on my part.

4. Limit my time on social media.

At this point, the only social media app I have on  my phone is Instagram, and I use it to distribute all my content to FB, Twitter, and Tumblr.  Facebook is only accessed on my laptop. This is still a work in progress, but my usage has decreased since I’ve unloaded my cell phone of all that stuff. Eventually, I want to get to a place in which I only access FB once every two or three days.

These four practices are what I have so far, but I plan on initiating more strategies that refine and limit my social media usage in the future. From now on, I proceed knowing that the most important part of my life are the actual face-to-face interactions and relationships that I cultivate every day.  Social media cannot be more important than this, even though it certainly wants to be.

I will write more about how this is going and the progress I am making.

-Roqué

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