Happy May everybody!!! I find absolutely no coincidence that I am currently listening to *NSYNC as I type this because of course, “It’s Gonna Be May.” Yes, it’s already May and maybe you don’t get the JT reference, but that’s okay because I have a special gift for you anyway. It’s a Swopes Note. Hi!
April was honestly calm, cool and collected. I got some bad news about a big project that was in the works and sometimes that happens! It’s best to not expect too much until there’s papers signed anyway. It would’ve been a fun one, though. Hahaaaa! It’s safe to say that Pharrell knows who I am, which is better than nothing.
Montréal is a very charming place and they have some very delectable vegetarian food. I would know because I visited for a few days while my beau shot the lookbook for the Raised By Wolves x Timberland release. It seems my lack of appreciating geography came to bite me in the ass, so to speak, because I figured Montréal was woody and mountainous, much like the alps in Switzerland. It’s much more of a city of metal and cement with a side of vintage humble homes. I enjoyed the surprise.
I came into the mini-vacation with the mindset of not capturing photos. Tired of the pressure of sharing my experience, I made it a point to not worry about taking snaps or pictures but to live in the moment and take it all in. Kind of like a creative-mental-break. I snapped a few shots out of habit but kept it moving for the most part.
I explored the Notre-Dame Basilica and St. Patrick's Basilica, two of Montréal’s oldest churches covered in stained glass fixtures and elaborate handmade wooden figures. The best part of the mini-vacation was visiting Bota Bota, spa-sur-l'eau, an old river ferry on the water overlooking Habitat 67 that was renovated to be a glamorous "floating spa." For 15 minutes I sat in a sauna, steam room, or hot tub then right after dunking my entire body into ice cold water. After doing that over and over again for a few hours, I received the best massage I have ever had in my life, then finished off the day with a delicious soup and red wine pairing. Creative-mental-break, indeed.
Pablo Picasso is one of those names you associate with art all of your life. So, when I was approached to partner with the National Geographic Channel to create some content inspired by their show Genius, I was excited to see what we could pull off creatively. The inspiration was strong! Genius was just hitting its second season, it was Emmy-nominated, based on the life of Pablo (hehehe) and the #FramingGenius concept was, well, genius. It was a lot of fun to shoot but I have to admit the frame was extremely heavy! It proved for a fun adventure.
I’m a hip-hop dancer now. No, not really, but life has been throwing me talented-friendship bones. Thanks to my friend Tanya and Beyoncé’s Coachella performance, ah-hem, Beychella, I dusted off my dancing shoes. I was on the dance squad in middle school but lost my love for it by the time Myspace era came about, not much of a correlation, but it has honorable mention. Please laugh at me, and with me. I’m also a soccer player, too, now. It’s been a year that I have been playing co-ed soccer at a preschool child rate but when I say I’m one step closer to scoring a goal, I am not lying. I like to call myself the preschool Messi.
In 2016, I partnered with Off The Street Club and Facebook for a photography workshop for amazingly brilliant and incredible kids. Off The Street Club is Chicago’s oldest boys and girls club, they presently aid more than 3,000 kids with their dreams in one of the most unsafe neighborhoods in the country, West Garfield Park. This year Facebook, the team, and I decided to make it a longer class with each session being unique and accommodating to the kids passions. Facebook provided new cameras and photo printers. Everyone had the best time being encouraged, motivated, and inspired and I even noticed a few of them were naturals with the camera. I can’t wait until the next session. Donate to Off The Street Club if you can. You’d be giving back hope to those that deserve it!
Well, we’ve hit a boiling point of me talking about myself and you all know I am more interested in what I can do for you to inspire you to do what you love than speak for too long, but just know the work never stops and the imagination never sleeps. I’ve got good things cooking.
As always, keep your imagination alive.
I don't remember the first time I met Kali. She's one of those people you feel like you've known your whole life, she's someone who makes you feel warm just by their presence alone and for that she is someone I value as a friend and sister. Born in Houston, Texas but represents the South East Side of Chicago where she's been living since 1996, Kali specializes in natural hair and loc maintenance and styling. Blessed to be able to do what she loves she's never compromised who she is for anybody, which is a sexy, powerful, beautiful, black woman, and that shines through everything she does. Whether it be hairstyling, modeling, traveling, learning new things and acting, I envision it's only up from here for the artist known as Auset.
What are five words that best describe you?
I am loyal, frank, diligent, intuitive, and reliable
What’s it like being a woman in the world?
Being a woman in the world is the greatest blessing and privilege. As I come into my womanhood more each day, my appreciation for the divine feminine grows! It’s so easy to fall victim to societal ideals of what a woman should look and act like and I’ve had to unlearn so many things in order to progress...I’m still progressing. I’ll always progress. As I’m trying I’m finding great comfort in seeking guidance from my beloved ancestors, taking care of my womb, and operating in love.
What’s your dream project?
My dream project would be to buy the CVS public high school building on the south side and revamp it into a privately owned vocational/arts school. Today, most of the building isn’t being used. Back in the day when the building was operating at its fullest potential, it produced so many graduates who went on to work their trade (and are still working) and even open up their own businesses. Schools like CVS receiving proper funding and resources are dangerous to the status quo so that’s why I’m interested. Ultimately, I want to help black kids create jobs for themselves!
Best Advice you’ve learned in life?
Hands down the best advice I've ever gotten came from my paternal grandmother about 2 years ago. “When you are no longer being served TURN THE PAGE.” This advice has literally saved my life.
health is wealth
Well it's safe to say I'm late to the game of enlightenment. I'd like to think it's better late than never but I also know all things happen for a reason, or so they say. I've stumbled upon The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, a book about spiritual enlightenment in the simplest form. I had no idea what I was missing with those read. It's really changed the way I view the world and myself, most importantly. It's so interesting that we all could be living in the same body our whole life but be in tune with it so differently until someone wakes you up. I feel like I have almost been sleep walking most of my life until now, but I won't go that far.
This book is made for people who are living in their past, who can't get out of their own head, who are waiting for something amazing to happen to them, who aren't grateful for the simple things or who live in constant fear and anxiety about the future. If you're someone who just isn't into meditation or furthering yourself spiritually (that doesn't mean religion!!!) then it's probably not for you, but I'd wholeheartedly suggest it anyway.
The Power of Now focuses on one thing and one thing only and that's how to stay present. In each chapter you'll find some things to focus on to get past life's societal hurdles:
My favorite thing about the book is that it's structured in a way where it seems like a question and answer session. Not all the questions might be your own but most of them tend to ring true for me while I am reading. There's also these little symbols that are placed specifically for you to take a moment to really think about what you just read.
I'm not finished reading the book yet, but I know that I will never be finished with it. It feels like a lifelong reminder to be present and to let go of the past in a way where it helps the now. I realized that a lot of my life has been wasted on reliving old moments that served no purpose to my present unless I took it was a valuable lesson and didn't hold the experience in a negative light. I now see the power of now and it's fairly bright.