Conquering That Which Took Me Down.


As many of you know, 2012 was off to a bad start after embarking on a solo hike in northern Washington that landed me in the emergency room with a broken ankle.

In case you missed it, here’s the story: To Hike Alone.

A Pacific Northwest Trail and the area where “The Cascades Touch The Sea”, Blanchard Mountain, is a 7 mile hike to gorgeous views of the San Juan Islands and Samish Bay. With a 2000 ft. elevation gain and plenty of switchbacks, it’s a considerable climb to the top. It’s also a training point for those wanting to summit Mt. Rainier.

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Determined to conquer this bastard of a mountain and overcome the fear of falling again, I decided to return exactly one year after my accident.

I’ve hiked much tougher terrain in my years, but I wasn’t hiking Blanchard Mountain just for the sake of hiking. Like last year, I was looking to challenge myself both physically and emotionally. Taking a little more precaution this time, I set out to find some hiking support. Initially it was a team of four women, but in the end, it was just me and my great friend, Sarah.

So in 28 degree weather packed with snow in various places, we hiked to the top in just under 4 hours. While the trail is pretty clear and easy at first, it changes quickly and before you know it, you’re climbing over tree stumps and crawling over slippery rocks and boulders. I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t scared, but I did it anyway. While there are other trails that finger off of Blanchard Mountain waiting for me to explore, at this time in my life, having one successful hike was monumental.

Last year’s adventure was a bust, but not this year. I conquered that which took me down.


As I stated earlier, I was seeking a physical and emotional challenge. Physically, I was testing my stamina and strength. Emotionally, I was eliminating past negativity, hurts, and mistakes.

Nothing makes me happier or brings me greater peace than being in the outdoors — It’s God’s Country. I know 2013 is THE year of new beginnings filled with love, positivity, renewal, and awesome adventures!


~ Carlita



Rise UP!

It’s always great to observe fellow Arts Corps colleagues. There’s so much to learn about their artistry, pedagogical practices, and personal relationship with their students. Just a few weeks ago, I had the wonderful opportunity to do just that–observe fellow teaching artist, Stephany Hazelrigg at Aki Kurose.

What an awesome experience for me!

Besides the usual teaching of concepts, in this case, hip-hop vocabulary and dance moves, I found that Stephany was teaching an old and familiar concept in a whole new way.


I know I’ve written on this subject before and while I thought I had “community” well defined in my head, I now enjoy a much deeper understanding of this word than ever before.

You see, what caught my attention was her use of words and phrases that nurtured the idea of community and therefore were reflected in her actions.

For example, when two younger students began arguing, an older student jumped in and defended her friend. Instead of allowing the older student to take control of the situation, Stephany said- “will you be the older sister and mentor and step back?” This provided an opportunity for the two younger students to problem solve on their own and learn to communicate. As for the older girl, it allowed her to reflect and respond appropriately and maturely rather than to react defensively.

In another instance, as a young boy struggled teaching several dance moves to the class, Stephany reminded him, “remember, the goal as a leader is to not trick your community. Show them moves they can all follow.” As a result, the young boy chose simpler steps and taught them slowly so that all the students felt successful.

“Reset, Rewind, Recommit!”

“Rise up!”

“Celebrate and Elevate!”

Words and actions embracing and nurturing the true meaning of community.

It may seem basic and remedial, but in today’s world and with today’s generation, community is a hard concept to grasp. It’s not just about neighbors and neighborhoods. It’s about interacting with the people around us each and every day. Much of our youth today doesn’t know how to get along and communicate positively and effectively. We as teachers  have to tackle this problem and so much more in our classes. We’re not just teaching our artistry anymore, we’re teaching life long skills necessary to co-exist in our world. The fact is that we can’t really make an impact in our work until we’ve built a safe environment around us. We must all feel loved, accepted, and a significant part of a functioning community.

I left the class renewed, reinvigorated and eager to apply these ideas to my own students. I’ve always felt that even as a seasoned educator there is always room to learn new and old things.

After all, the key to perfecting our craft is to always remain life long students!

Thanks Stephany!

The Naked Truth-Pt.2 “Confrontation=Dialogue=Enlightenment”

After weeks of no cooperation, defiance, and foul language, I’m at my wits end! I mean, how much of a beating can one person take?  I canceled class the other day and called our case worker and property manager to sit in with us as I angrily confronted the kids. Of course they were equally upset and wanted to be heard as well, so you can imagine a room full of very stubborn people trying to have their say.  Our discussion was heated and uncomfortable to say the least, but for the first time there was dialogue and enlightenment. Imagine that.

First, the kids and I are not speaking the same language. As for me, I set very high expectations the moment I walk into a classroom and while I’ve had success with that in the past, it’s simply not going to work in this environment. My intentions to encourage them to go above and beyond is perceived as nagging and pushy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I should expect any less, but I realize that I need to meet my students where they are now. On the other hand, the kids agree they need to put forth way more effort than they have and not throw in the towel every time the road gets rough.

Second, I’m totally unaware of some internal problems happening at school. Differences in culture, religion, and life background are the source of peer pressure among my kids. With the girls in particular, there are serious behavior problems, bullying, and frequent school suspension. This of course sets off a chain reaction – they get in trouble at school – they get in trouble at home – and by the time they come to see me, I serve as their emotional punching bag.

Third, Hillary Clinton was correct — It takes a village to raise kids. The problem is who, what, and where is this village? Many of these kids lived in cars, homeless shelters, dodged bullets, escaped massacres, and fled from civil wars raiding their homeland; in short, Meadowbrook is their first real home and for many it’s only a transitional home, so where will they go from here?

Is it any wonder of the detachment and misunderstanding?

What is the meaning of community to someone who’s never been raised in one?

If disfunction is all you know, how do you function properly in society?

Are you listening??!!

…from Seattle to Capetown (teaser trailer)

Seattle Musiciancorps fellows at Buttermilk Studio with South African hip-hop artist, Monishia. A meeting of the minds, an international collaboration, and a week of soulful music with one mission in mind…to INSPIRE the world through the POWER of MUSIC! We’re finalizing post production to our new single, but here’s a teaser trailer of what’s to come. Stay tuned…