Thy Movement To Shine A New Light Over An Old Reputation

It will be one year and four months since I put the liquor down. It was a hazy decision at first, because of the most known reputation La Crosse, let alone Wisconsin, is know for in our culture. People would debate about if it was alcohol abuse or not, due to the direction I took, cut dry cold turkey. I know many alcoholics who do not have the strength for this, true, but with education in the psychology field, my own spiritual strength, and experiences with family members who were also alcoholics, I conquered.

I emphasis with this, unless you were a roommate of mine or a close personal friend who would see me at the bars on almost a night to night basis, or a co-worker that I would open up to about being drunk at work when ethically I wasn’t suppose to be, then you cannot make any judgements. I have always had a strong spiritual strength within me with all the shit I been through in my life, regardless of growing up away from the organized religions, churches, mosques, etc… I can’t explain it, but I can promise you it’s there. Maybe it’s Grandpa G still walking with me as my guardian since the day I was born. I don’t have solid answers, but I have my own reasons and beliefs from my past experiences.

Just like other non-drinkers and well diverse individuals, I was getting frustrated with the reputation of La Crosse and Oktoberfest. I couldn’t see past beyond the stage of duality of our culture, so to speak, but slowly I met a few new people who had similar beliefs and stronger sobriety habits and my vision started to change.

For a few months now, I been trying to shine a new light for the La Crosse area and the people who I feel are making a big enough impact to make that reputation change. As bars start to struggle with business, restaurants & art are rising, as well as, a few local celebrities are, as they impact the country with their own style, intentional or not. I wanted to shine some light on those who I look up too in one aspect or another, which a few I can call close friends.

I.M.P.A.C.T. Recordz LLC
CEO/Recording Artist Mario Street

Recording Artist: Mario Street

Well, Recording Artist is just one aspect of this multi-talented individual. Since I am a good friend of his, his story is like a broken record in my eyes, but I am sure he feels the same with me, as we both come up from two separate worlds and joint forces and a bond for the purpose of shining a positive light on the youth and the world.

Once a lost soul coming up on drugs, prison, and street gang activities in Chicago, Mario is now sober/cleaned with his head on straight and calls La Crosse home where he raises his four children.

Not only is his expertise in Hip-Hop music, but also taking up videographer/photographer, amongst other entitlements for his record label. He is currently working on a documentary on the three-time Super Bowl champion, Antonio Robinson.

Radio DJ Noah, Me, Reed Grimm, & Brittany Stylez

American Idol Finalist: Reed Grimm 

Probably the most known local celebrity, other than Jennifer Livingston. He was an American Idol Finalist in Season 11.

He is one of a few tri-state area artists who has branched out on a national level, with Tim Olstad from Winona tailing him on last seasons “The X Factor.”

Reed currently resides in the Twin Cities & trails to California to continue to pursue his dreams and fills his schedule with solo performances, his band Shoeless Revolution, and plenty of charity/organization activity with the likes of Food Wafer and Habitat of Humanity. Reed also has started his own positivity gig with “Massive Amounts of Goods” which brings awareness and positive impacts to diversity.

Grand River Singers

VH1’s “Off Pitch” Stars: Grand River Singers

Or as I would like to call majority of the veteran members, my old karaoke gang. Back when it seem my world was small, these group of friends, especially members, Drew, Aubrey, Tim, & Rob, were one of my first group of friends when I just came home from Iraq in 2007 & move to La Crosse, WI.

That is also the time I would step away from a well known fear from “stage fright” and start singing karaoke and six months later, I would have started my performing arts in drag at UW-L.
Tim and Rob, big or small, had always been supporters and mentors in the field of arts, as well as, a friendship even outside of the public domain.

The Grand River Singers continue on their performance journeys to the likes of Walt Disney World in Florida and has finally branched away from the county and state fairs in Wisconsin. 

News Anchor: Jennifer Livingston

Last, but very least, we have our local news anchor who blasted into International news after standing her ground, live, from a local negative Nazi who had expressed his own bullied opinion on how today’s society should be imaged to the younger generations. Shortly after the segment, word got out and the episode went viral rapidly. Her award: a trip to the Ellen DeGeneres show and also a trip to the Caribbean, thanks to Ellen.

Jennifer doesn’t let the exposure go to her head. She is just as humble and collected as she was before the unnecessary letter reached her hands and on air as a news segment.

I will leave you with her special commercial featuring Ellen and Matthew Perry.

Not only does La Crosse, Wisconsin, have these bright individuals in the area, but as I get out and explore the natural habitats of the bluffs and Perot State Park, I also see a change in the younger generations in their lifestyles. I also have many resources that express the bar businesses downtown and it’s just not the same or as habitable as it was in my earlier twenties. I just hope I can make a positive impact like the individuals I have posted, along with many others on a similar train as me.

Until Next Time….

Despite Other Peoples Doubts, You Have To Believe In Yourself

No one has the ability or strength to walk in your own shoes. Therefore, they have no right to judge you or how you do things in life. Stick to your own lane when it comes to chasing your dreams.

That is how you will keep your own grasp on whatever success that may come in your path. If you start believing in other people’s words about you, you will NOT finish the race.

Nobody in society are on the same level in the journey in life, so if you are on a higher level, don’t look down on people, unless you are willing to help them up, yourself.

I wrote my wishes the other day, if I was able to be gifted such opportunity. You know what those three wishes were? Let me share those wishes with you for a minute…

  1. … I wish everyone had the ability to become fearless with their own life and go out into the world and educate themselves on the sights, sounds, emotions, and languages of the world and other species with an open heart and mind.

  2.  … I wish people could wake up and realize their struggles are a blessing more-so than a step back on life. Especially in the more developed and rich countries. The journey for happiness and Utopia isn’t meant to be easy, or the life span of a human being would be a lot shorter.
  3.  … I wish for more strength, concentration, and perseverance, (someday without my medications, permanently) to continue on the road I’m on to change the world through my own footprints, without the worries and concerns of growth in the “selfish assumptions” with my life. That is not what my message is about.

Now, with that being said, what is going on in Marie’s world these days? Why has she been a bit, “silent”? 

It’s no secret that I been busy with my own life, at my own level.

Front cover for my second poetry book.

I returned back to college, sooner than I expected. I have made the initiative to look for a treatment facility, among the number of local doctor appointments, for my PTSD. With that announcement, I shall publicly announce, I am in the long process of a medical discharge from the military. 

I am finishing up my first poetry book, to send it to the publishing ranks this week. I also already started to put together my second poetry book (here’s a sneak peak of the book cover as follow).
I am also continuing my therapy of music producing (mediocre level), writing on my novel projects “Twenty One Days,” and “Psychological Demons”, and planning my photo shoots with my Chi City Inc University team in Chicago for future dates. 

So with all that being said, I am up to my neck with homework, medical documents, music, and writing. All the while, I am trying to balance the stories and thoughts that are floating around in my brain. This is why I am sticking to my own lane, because right now, I have full control of what I have got going on in my life. 

I envy  those who are farther in their dreams than me, but I also know you worked hard to get where you are at, despite of the obstacles and construction, you yourself have gone through. And if you are not as far as you would like to be, don’t give up hope. Life will fall into place once you are ready. God wouldn’t want it any other way. 

Until next time…

Twas the Nigh of Christmas & All Through the House

My family and I celebrate Christmas on the Eve of Christmas. Christmas Day for me is to sleep over half the day (since I work overnights with my current job that actually pays for the bills), snack on appetizer type foods, and surf the channels for a movie marathon and spend it as a single mother of two dogs, fighting over the garbage can, yet again.

But a change up this early evening. Turning off the TV and insert Celine Dion into my ears with a mix of her new album, Christmas songs and top hits.  Surely a warm feeling with one of the best singing voices, ever to exist. Thank you, Quebec for allowing her to express her dreams to the world and not keep her isolated. Now if only my favorite actor would follow suit. (laughing). Just kidding. Mind you, I am also inducing myself to another coffee high at this moment.

For Christmas, the most spoiled out of the group other than my nephews is my mother and step-dad, but seeing the joy and laughter on their faces are all priceless. I feel they also are old enough to know better and keep grounded when we give them exactly what they want for Christmas. But for the rest of us, the second generation, we keep the gifts small as possible, or we try, so we can teach the nephews that Christmas isn’t just about presents.  I have learned over the years that gifts are nice, but family time is a grander event during this time of year. It’s getting easier for me after years of shutting them out due to my personal struggles in the past. Hell, we are having another family night on Thursday for our favorite past-time meal, taco pizza! (laughing).

What’s even more heart-warming than Celine Dion, are the actions my immediate family shows by supporting my dreams of writing, cooking, and I am sure if they could, traveling, by the few gifts I do receive. This year was writing tools/inspirational books & my mother busted her behind with homemade seasonings and olive oils, as she built a new kitchen shelf for me, and also included three new cookbooks.

 I only had to read the first chapter of Jack Canfield’s Chicken Soup For The Soul: Inspiration for Writers, to get motivated for this blog. I am here, “working”, for my readers (smiling). It was the story of Celine Dion’s ghost writer for her biography and it was just touching. Yes, I will continue reading it after I work on my blog again. Revealing my novel projects, with a sneak peak of Psychological Demons later this week, as I re-add, yet, another page on my blog site.

I feel it’s coming together beautifully. Just need to carry a notepad, writing utensil, and one of my writing tools, inspirational books, with at all times. As I continue to write, my audience continues to grow. As I open myself up to other artistic measures, again, my audience grows. I joke about being the “Jane of Trades” through my photography, music, & writing, but haven’t mastered any of them yet. Or have I? Just waiting on the “write” (right) person to discover me. Only time will tell after my dues are paid, figuratively.

As I work towards my stories, photography, & poetry, I hope I give you the inspiration to work on your passions, instead of slaving yourself for the government (disguise-able discovery with my current private Philosophical thoughts). I also hope for those who celebrate Christmas and also for those who don’t to find peace within their hearts and in their loved ones. Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanza, and overall, Happy Holidays and please, PLEASE, have a safe and Happy New Year.

As for me, I shall get “crunk” (an urban slang for drunk and crazy, for you non-urban and non-Lil’ Jon folks) off of Welch’s Sparkling Grape Juice this year. A repeat of last year (smiles).

Until Next Time…

Fuck The Stereotypes & Labels, It’s All About Confidence.

Proof that evolution is part of life is when you live in the very moment and not worry about what others feel about you. I am not going to lie. There are times I am concerned about how people look at me, but as I get older, I surely learn that my comfort in my own skin and my confidence is the key to success, not the fandom or the number of friends you possess.Be true to your heart, that’s how you find the valuable individuals in your life.

As I grow, I develop and magnify different individuals in the artistry business from drag queens, to fashion designers, to hip-hop artists, etc. I am not trying to compare myself to anyone, because I am my own unique spirit, but I can honestly relate my own life experiences with the combination of Lady Gaga, Macklemore, & Eminem. Now, that’s a mix in my view.  A huge mix of mystery.

Who else makes me feel like I am not alone. Tyler Perry aka Madea. It’s okay to be yourself and not a cop out of someone else. It’s okay to have heroes and inspirations to look at to try and improve yourself as your own person, but it is surely boring to try and be exactly who they are. It’s especially stressful when someone else tries to shape and make you into a person you are not meant to be, but I still fight against the grain each day.

Never once did I doubt about being myself, because it felt right at the time and place. Now, I can say I doubted society, but I have learned that no matter what you do with your life, you can’t always please everyone. Thanks to a few inspirations in my own life, I have and am still learning how to be myself and not giving a damn what others think. Unfortunately, with the gold heart, it’s hard to surpass sometimes. This damn heart tends to give too many shits to people who aren’t really worth it. That fact is what I am still trying to control and manage. I am also educating myself with the precise moment in time is NOW. I use to live in such a way back in the day.

Now, people would debate about this blog and how I don’t live to my words, based on my actions. Um, two words to you all, FUCK YOU. The same people who only see me maybe once a month?! If that even. It’s frustrating and the reason I keep my distance. Don’t tell me how to fix myself, work your magic to try and get into my head, without fixing yourself first. This psychology game won’t work on someone who has her own knowledge of one of her favorite topics. My actions will show that. I am not a light switch. I can’t change by midnight tomorrow, but those who are really paying attention to me, my actions, and my thoughts can tell you how much more of a confidence I lay out on a day to day basis. Just the fact that I am now reciting my own poetry, instead of performing someone else’s songs, can tell you my confidence is boosting. Another sign of my confidence, I am upfront about my past. Why try hiding it when it’s impossible to? (laughing).

Conner R.K. Stratton aka
Conner K. Rouge aka
Conner Ravyn Knightly

I am not the type to put my first artistry family in the shadows, as I continue, and expand my skills and talents. Honestly, thanks to my “brother” Jonathan for mentioning how he misses performing, I have the same ache at the moment. The spotlight, the stage, and the creative visionary of stepping out of your comfort zone to create something new or bigger.

What I don’t miss is the stress, drama, judgements, competitions of who’s better, & tears that come with it. I have mixed feelings of no one recognizing me at shows anymore due to the glasses and hair being longer. I have mixed feelings when people make comments like, “You look better now!” -or- anything that contradicts them being Pro-LGBT because of my own ways of showing my support within the community by performing.

One of the reasons I reactivated my Conner page on Facebook is because the character I developed will always be a part of me. Like an actor and the characters they develop and deliver in movies, Broadway, or television. Drag shows are similar.

The irony to top that is the social embarkment on both ends. I seen it and I will have the confidence to call it out. I think it’s funny that the LGBT is warm and welcoming to those who are fully defined as a Lesbian or a Gay, but when it comes to the “inbetweeners” or the “confused”, so to speak, things get hasty. Especially when one puts the drag shoes up, changes teams, and changes their gears in life. Been there, done that. But my heart has never changed. Why I only stepped away from the community, but not my LGBT family. I’ve noted these same exact thoughts in my poems, I will tell you again. I don’t judge one based on their past, skin color, sexual orientation, or any other stupid stereotypical label that society has to make up and throw in any “minority’s” face. I never will. I ask you do the same. This is the motivation for my #OneLove movement. I take the stand and raise my voice for the LGBT community as a whole, along with society. From within and from outside the picture. Whether you are gay or straight, will you?

-Until Next Time

The Miami Dolphins Should Have Their Own Lifetime Movie

Courtesy of “Quotes For The Mind”

Better yet, let us feed another desperate reality television show on Richard Incognito to the eyes of children because they don’t have enough of that expressing on today’s television programs. Criticism has weighed in heavily with the bullying episode of Jonathan Martin vs. Richard Incognito down in the land of Dane County. I find it surprising on how many people are supporting Richard Incognito, even with the proof of the voice mail from Jonathan Martin’s cell phone in NFL’s hands.

Courtesy of ESPN

Now, Incognito is a big dude. So why does he need to bully to prove his strength and his alpha personality, so to speak? Why is it always the bigger kids are the ones showing more short-man syndrome than the smaller kids? I just don’t understand the behavior at all nor understand how adults think it’s okay for kids to grow up as bullies. Haven’t we learned yet that the smaller children, usually the ones with the brains, usually always comes out on top in the end? It’s karma. Try to keep others on the bottom of the food chain, you become the bottom. That is, if they don’t commit suicide. Another sour taste in the mouth. Don’t you think?

Too many have given up on their lives due to hurtful words. Hell, if you look at it in a world’s perspective, humanity is known for it’s bullying affect to the rest of the species that are trying to co-exist with us. What is the reason behind it? Insecurity? Listen, I got my own insecurities too. All of humanity does one way or another, but I also have enough confidence and morals to know what is right and what is wrong in any given situation. The confidence builds with the education I am interest in and allow myself to take in.

Courtesy of CBS Sports

The stories I hear about this situation makes me sad. Whether to believe them or not is not the case here. So what if Jonathan Martin isn’t mentally strong as the average man should be. So what if he’s a bit sensitive, but I strongly believe the strongest men are those who aren’t afraid to show their emotions from time to time. He didn’t feel he found the support he needed so he removed himself from the situation instead of hurting himself and hurting someone else like Richard Incognito. 

Do I blame him for walking away and reporting the situation? No. I don’t usually take sides on situations, but bullying and people who support Incognito is ethically wrong. It’s just sad that there isn’t enough of people raising their voice in awareness of bullying. Yes, I also feel we all need thicker skin, but who here really has thicker skin? The one who chooses to lash out on verbal abuse, possibly violence, and become the one people feared, or the one who stayed civilized as possible and did what he has simply learned. We are not taught the same with how to handle a problem that may be getting out of hand. We are taught by what our nurturing elements teach us whether it’s family or friends. That is if we are taught at all. Let’s look at the brighter side if this. Let us be happy that he swallowed his pride and got the help he needed when he needed it before it was too late.Let us look at Martin being the stronger man in this for getting the help he needs instead of letting it run his life or his NFL career in this case. Let us pray that he recovers from the emotional scars that were stabbed in his back from his own teammate that outsiders would have considered like family. Isn’t that how we see all our favorite teams? All we see is the “bromance”, not the struggles behind the cameras when they go off air. This is just some old dirty laundry of Incognito’s that Martin just had the courage to hang out on the clothesline. Whether he was right or wrong to be the one to do so, karma and time will reveal the truth of it. Now I can possibly see why Reggie Bush wasn’t hesitant to leave the team when he was released.

Until Next Time…

2013©H.M. Gautsch