What Does Elvis Presley Mean?

Elvis Presely playing guitarMost Americans and music lovers worldwide acknowledge Elvis Presley as “The King” of rock and roll. But some people have no idea who Elvis Presley is or what it means to be “The King” to millions of loyal fans.

This is what I learned from Cindy, the foreign exchange student from China that I hung out with for a few weeks.

I was taking a class on multi-cultural competency as part of the process towards my master’s degree in counseling. Our instructor, Vince Noble asked for volunteers to escort foreign exchange students and ease their transition into the USA. He may have even offered extra credit, I can’t remember. But I volunteered and was paired up with Cindy from China.

One day, Cindy and I went an art show at Cal State Long Beach. There were many paintings and several rooms filled with original art pieces created by students. We came upon a portrait of Elvis Presley. I admired the creativity of the piece. Cindy pointed at it and asked, “who is that?”

I was stunned. It was as if my life was flashing before me. I could not imagine how to describe who Elvis was. He is so many things to so many people and I couldn’t imagine what the world, or at least my world, would be like without him.

I managed to mumble out some answer about how Elvis was a rock legend and I hummed a few bars of Blue Suede Shoes and Jailhouse Rock to see if it would ring a bell.

Nothing.

I was speechless.

I had been slapped aside the head once again and reminded that just because I have an experience or a social construct built up around a certain object or person, doesn’t mean everyone else does. Have you ever found yourself in a situation like this, assuming the person you’re talking to knows something when really they don’t; assuming that everyone knows all the same things you do?

Story is Editable

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Positive Hip Hop Podcast Delivered on MP3 and in iTunes

Positive Hip-Hop PodcastThe Positive Hip Hop podcast is a series of shows that feature Hip-Hop with a message.

One of my favorites is Episode 6: “Social & Political Change”. This episode is jam-packed with socially aware hip hop with a great beat. Tracks include: KRS-One – “Illegal Business”, Head-Roc – “America!” and Ozomatli ft Common – “Embrace The Chaos”.

To get all 8 episodes of the Positive Hip-Hop Podcast, visit http://www.theskybeneath.com/podcast/

I Used Punk Rock and Hip Hop Lyrics in My Toastmasters Speech

Words and environment impact your life. In this speech from the Toastmasters manual, The Entertaining Speaker, I outline a musical anthology of my life from childhood to adolescence and into adulthood. Influences include weekly immersion in Soul Train, Songs in the Key of Life by Stevie Wonder, Rapper’s Delight by Sugar Hill Gang and People’s Instinctive Travels and Paths of Rhythm by A Tribe Called Quest.

In the 80’s there was fun to be found in the punk rock scene. Songs mentioned and sung in this speech: California Uber Alles and Police Truck by The Dead Kennedys and New Dreams by Naked Raygun. I finished up with my theme song: Galvanize by The Chemical Brothers with Q-Tip on vocals.

Left My Wallet in El Segundo – Agape Toastmasters Remix

Listening to hip hop as a young girl gave me an education in the power of words and imagery. In this speech from the Toastmasters Storytelling manual, I take the liberty to consider the popular hip hop song, “Left My Wallet in El Segundo” as a folk tale and I retell it in my own words.

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Start a Master Mind Group.comWhen you think about it, every musical act you know of is using the Master Mind principle whether they realize it or not. They are joining together as a team with a combined vision. You can use the same principle and make some truly rockin’ things happen in your life.

Do you have a creative project you want to complete? Do you want to find a purpose for your life?

If so, I invite you to come over to my brand new page called Start a Master Mind Group.com. I’m offering 4 freebies to get you started so you can get a sense of what the Master Mind is all about.

There’s nothing cool about holding back.

Women Speaking: International Women’s Day March 6

Agape Toastmasters, Culver City, CA
Men and Women Speaking with Purpose and Power

March 6 is International Women’s Day, a great time to celebrate and highlight women speaking and making a difference. I wanted to share about an organization, Toastmasters and a woman, Helen Blanchard. Women speaking with power and purpose can create transformation.

I joined Agape Toastmasters in 2008. Even though this club was far from my house and meetings were held Saturday morning at 8:30, I wanted to be there. I didn’t just want to learn to speak, I wanted to speak with purpose. I wanted to learn from women speaking in a diverse club with male and female members from various parts of the world and different ages and ethnicities. I wanted a club that supported women speaking.

The Agape Toastmasters club mission is to “foster an unconditionally loving, mutually supportive and highly inspirational environment”. This mission guided me from terror to transformation. The more I got to know my fellow Toastmasters, the more I realized we all had something in common: the desire to use our lives to make a difference.

When I was fairly new to Toastmasters, I read an article in the November 2008 Toastmaster magazine written by Julie Bawden Davis The article made me I realize that the concept of women speaking is something our world at large is still in the infancy stages of embracing.

Women Speaking: Helen Blanchard at Toastmasters
Women Speaking: Helen Blanchard at Toastmasters

The article was about a woman named Helen Blanchard, Toastmasters’ First Female President in 1985-1986. It was an engaging article and I was following along without incident until I read these words: “By 1973, women were allowed to join Toastmasters clubs and she was able to use her real name.”

Wait, hold up. Women were “allowed” to join Toastmasters in 1973? I’m not prepared to process the fact that 35 years ago, in my lifetime, women speaking was forbidden in Toastmasters. The thing is, Helen Blanchard joined Toastmasters before 1973, she just had to pretend she was “Homer” until she was “allowed” to be Helen.

I shall purposely avoid the desire to break into a rant now. Instead, I will share a quote from the article with you that I think is important for all women to really bask in: “Everyone used to call Helen a women’s libber, but the truth is, she’s a ‘people libber,'” says Chuck Borough, a member of Downtown Escondido Toastmasters who has known her for over 40 years. “Helen has chartered more than 40 clubs,” he says. “Toastmasters is twice as big as it would have been without Helen.”

Turn down the heat and simmer in those words for a while. Let it sink in. Then, do something about it. If you live in the Greater L.A. area, consider stopping by as a guest at Agape Toastmasters one Saturday morning.

Domestic Violence Resources in Long Beach

I am a professor at Long Beach City College.  I teach a class about Domestic Violence, among other things.  One week, the lesson plan came to life when a man entered the classroom, looking for his partner. He tried to get her to leave class.  I told him “no, she can’t leave” and he looked at me like I’d lost my mind and said “who are YOU?”

Luckily, no one lost their mind or anything else.  We were fortunate to have two things on our side that day: First we had guest speaker Ismael Zepedadiaz from the Victim-Witness Assistance Program on site delivering a presentation.  Not only does Ismael look like the kind of guy you probably don’t want to mess with, he also knows a lot about restraining orders, police reports and how to make sure a person who is being victimized has the resources to get their lives back on track.

Secondly, we had the Long Beach Police Department on site.  There are officers assigned to the campus and they patrol it non-stop.

Before class was over, a restraining order was served, a police report was made, the student got a ride home and she was hooked up with resources to help her so she does not have to return to her relationship.

Perhaps you, or someone you know needs just such a hook-up.  Here are some resources that can help:

Ismael Zepedadiaz works for the L.A. County District Attorney as a Victim Services Representative.  You can reach his office at 562-491-6347.  He has provided assistance to a number of my students so they could get necessary help such as counseling and even money to help soften the blow of victimization.

For crime victims in Los Angeles County, there is a toll-free number to call for help: 1-877-VINE-4-LA

Below is a list of domestic violence hotlines and shelters in the L.A. County area.

Interval House (562) 594-4555
Rainbow     (310) 547-9343
Su Casa    (562) 402-4888
Women Shelter    (562) 437-4663
1736 Family Crisis Center  (562) 379-3620

Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered Domestic Violence Resources

Please pass this information on to anyone who needs it.