Tuesday, January 19, 2016

7 Steps to Pursuing Your Dreams With Keva Walker

Hi everyone and welcome back to my blog! Guess what? It's that time of the year again, where it's SO cold outside, that all I want to do is wrap myself in my big, gray, fuzzy blanket and blog about life. It's been about a year since the last time I blogged and a lot of things have changed. I am now a YOGA teacher! Woo hoooooo! I completed my 200 hour certification program with Core Power Yoga and now I am teaching real life classes. YEAP.... REAL....LIFE...CLASSES. I know right? Crazy!! So I suppose you guys want to see me in my yoga pants doing a fancy yoga pose. Alright, alright, you twisted my hand. So here it is!

AWK-ward facing dog!

Get it? It's an AWK-ward facing dog vs an UP-ward facing dog, cuz I look awkward doing it? HAHAAAA!!  Ok, ok, come on Maria move on to your story.  Back to the purpose of my blog. Pursuing your dreams with Keva Walker. Well, who is Keva Walker you may ask? Well here she is! 

Keva Love

Isn't she LOVEly? (Maybe I need to stop with all the CAPITALizing. OK. Last one...hopefully;)
I know you can't really see her cuz she's not looking at you, but give her a little time. She's a little shy, PLUS it's very cold outside. Let her warm up, and warm up to you guys as well.

Take a deep breath in. Open up and stretch to the side. INHALE PEACE 

Exhale, and come back up. OK. Now we are warmed up :)

Let's GO!

Keva came to visit me during the Christmas Holidays and I decided to do a little photoshoot with her and ask her about her life as a dancer in Los Angeles. I always admired artists who go out of their comfort zone to pursue their creative dreams. For a lot of dancers including Keva, L.A. is their biggest dream. What a scary dream though! I mean it's LA! Keva though, is a little warrior princess who got up one day and said I'm doing this! 
Before we continue with our interview and find out what helps Keva stay sane in LA, lets learn a little bit about her past.

Aww..she's SO CUTE!

Keva started dancing at the age of 5. She has  trained in Ballet, Tap, Hip Hop, Jazz and Modern. She  moved to Chicago where she started teaching dance in the Chicago public school system. She taught inner-city children etiquette, technique, and history of different dance styles. This led her to moving to Los Angeles to pursue her own dreams.

Chi-Town girl! 

Maybe it was the all that LA SUN that made the move easier? Hey! I can't blame her.

 She now specializes in Vogue-Femme, Dancehall and Chicago Footwork. She has danced live on stage with Calvin Harris, Tiesto and Armin Van Burren. She has  also toured internationally with Dawn Richard (Girl group Danity Kain) She has been featured in commercials with Nick Cannon's Americas got talent, Miley Cyrus's MTV/VMA Awards promo, and the Fast and the Furious 7.  Music videos where she was featured include Coldplay, 5 Seconds of Summer, ZHU and Katlynn Simone.

Forget this Snow!

So now that you know a little bit about Keva, here we go! The SEVEN STEPS TO PURSUING YOUR DREAMS WITH KEVA WALKER.

Even simply getting up in the morning and having the courage to go out there is a huge success for me. 

                       But first before we do anything, we must check facebook! (Ok....maybe not every day)  Hey, don't judge. You know you do it too. ;)

Ready to face the day.

    Let's DO THIS!

You don't have to do anything that you don't feel comfortable with. By that, I don't mean don't challenge and push your limits. I mean, don't jeopordize your morals and your beliefs just to get the part. Don't ever give in to pressure. ALWAYS RESPECT YOUR VALUES.

And don't take yourself too seriously either. 

Go ahead and LAUGH AT YOURSELF. It's good for the soul.

You need to have sort of a game plan when you are out here in LA, otherwise one can easily get lost or overwhelmed.

Now, DON'T EXPECT things to go as planned. This will only set you up for disappointment. 

Keep changing your plans. Always stay open to unexpected opportunities. I mean this is real life right? Nothing usually ever goes as planned, but at least you have a rough draft. 

Remember that growth lies in failure. In life you are going to fail over and over again. It is part of being human. Instead of looking at the word "failure" negatively, look at it as a ONE STEP CLOSER to understanding yourself. 

"The master has failed more than the beginner has ever tried"

On that note, I have a little something to add to that. A great Chicago basketball player named Michael Jordan, I'm not sure if you know him, ;) BUT he once said....

A lot of people see vulnerability as a weakness. I see it as COURAGE. It takes more courage to be open and vulnerable, than to be guarded and protected.  I have found more opportunities lie when you keep your  heart and your mind wide open. So be exposed and stay accessible. Go ahead and put yourself out there. You will be glad you did. 

Stay Open

Being different will make you stand out. In a place like LA where there's an ocean of dancers trying to "make it," DISTINCTION is the key. You are UNIQUE for a reason. Look inside and see what makes you different. What do you have to offer that nobody else has? Your superpower is that no one is like you. Remember that. 

Be Yourself

Stay Wild

Stay True

I cannot stress this enough. You MUST keep practicing. Never stop learning and growing as an artist. Take classes. Learn new techniques. Meet new artists and learn from them. Always do your best. Your best will be different every day. REMEMBER THAT. When you are tired at the end of the evening, your best will differ from your best in the morning, when you're feeling more energized. As long as you know that you are doing YOUR BEST given your present situation, no matter what the outcome is, YOU WILL FEEL CONTENTMENT and not resentment.

Know that YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL just the way you are.

And that my friends is my beautiful friend Keva Walker. I hope you enjoyed this blog, and maybe even learned a thing or two. I know I did:) I will post a little video down below so you can see the talented little diva in action. You can also follow her on Instagram @kevawalker, where you can see even more videos of her amazing dance moves.

Till next time!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Mike's Instant Vacation

Welcome back! I know. I know. I've been gone from my blog for a very long time. If you ask me why, I think it's weather related. I really do.  I think that when it's cold outside, I like to stay inside and blog. When it's nice out, I like to be outside riding my bike, on the beach, around town, just enjoying myself. So you see, my blogging mood changes with the weather. :) Anyways, I decided to post a blog today because it is my friends birthday, and I figured it's the perfect day to post it, even though it was done six months ago. So here we go!

Today (Meaning six months ago) I am shooting a good friend of mine Mihalis Psimis. Some of you may know him as "BongoMike," or simply just Mike. Either way, Mike's the one on the dance floor with his bongo drum making you move to the rhythm of his beat! You see, Mike has been a percussionist for over 15 years in Chicago, and has been making people shake their booty at many weddings, festivals, dance clubs, and events around the city. He says, "There's nothing more joyous than making people dance and be happy. It's such a great feeling when you can just play music and make people forget about their problems and their worries. Music takes you away. It's an escape from all your troubles. It's a drug, that is very addicting, and I can't get enough of it."

Mike is a very passionate, energetic, and a free spirited person. Oh...AND he's definitely a looker too!  Here's Mike.

Here's a little on Mike before we go on his vacation:

Mike was born and raised in Chi-town baby! I say it, like he would say it, "CHI-TOWN BABY!"  His dad Zack is Greek, and his mom Martha is Cuban. What a hot combination right!? And yes, that is the same Martha from my previous blog on 90 miles Cuban Cafe. (The great cook) http://spanos311.blogspot.com/2014/02/logan-square-sculptures-and-90-miles.htm 
He works in sales in downtown Chicago as his day job, but his real PASSION is MUSIC. From playing his bongo drum, to jamming on his guitar, to writing and creating his own songs, music is in this man's DNA. If you remember from my 90 miles blog, his grandfather Rolando was a member of a swing band in Cuba back in the 50's and 60's. So you see, the love of music runs in Mike's blood!

Mike also loves CARS. His dad Zack was a mechanic for over thirty years and taught Mike to work on cars at a very young age. Mike has also worked as a car mechanic for several years before he did sales. He says his dream car would either be a '69 Camaro, a '72 Chevelle, or an '81 Monte Carlo. "I really loved my '94 black Camaro that I had back in the day. It had T-tops, plates that read "Bongo," and a windshield with the word ELLAS!  (Ellas is another work for Greece)

I am picturing Mike now driving around Chicago back in the day in this black Camaro trying to pick up the ladies;)

One last thing I must mention about Mike before we get to his vacation is his very beautiful dog Abby! She is one of the sweetest dogs you will ever meet. All she wants you to do is hug her an play with her. (AND FEED HER of course)  Isn't she gorgeous?


They love each other very much. I can say so much more about Mike and Abby, but this blog is about Instant Vacations, so we must go on. Ready for Mike's instant vacation? Lets go!

"Having any three-day weekend from my work week"

Mike says he is a very  "homey feeling"  kind of guy.  By that, he means he likes to make his home comfortable and cozy so he could just feel like he's on "vacation" just by being there. Chilling and relaxing in the backyard for like this for example...

"Hearing  a song and remembering when I was in a certain city, or country, takes me on an instant vacation. I LOVE Greece and I even went to China last year and climbed the Great Wall. I love traveling and plan to do more in the near future"


"The smell of BBQ or outdoor cooking. I am a lover of all types of foods. I am not a picky eater at all"

"Finding a hole in the wall food shop that carries delicious ethnic food"

Cubanito 2555 N. Pulakski Chicago

We went to Cubanito and had some of the BEST Cuban sandwiches we ever had! Check it out if you are in the area. You will love it.

"Ummm. Maria can I eat in peace please?"

OHH! Sorry! Let me put my camera down.

"The moment you're with your friends that you haven't seen in a long time. I love being around good company. Sometimes that is all you need to feel like you are on vacation."

Let's Dance!

"Doing something spontaneous that you would probably never do again. I am a very spur of the moment kind of guy and I love a good adrenaline rush!" 

He's a magician!!

No he's not....he's simply Mike. (So cute though!)

"Playing music with friends. I believe music is LIFE. I can't imagine my world without it."

Look at you looking like Stelios Rokkos. Remember when people used to say that you look like him? I kind of see why NOW!  

Stelios Rokkos (Greek Rock Singer)

"When I hear my friends parents yell at them for not doing what they are told to do. I get a real kick out of it. It must be my Greek side."  (Greek parents will tell you what to do for the rest of your life, just in case  you are wondering.)

You are so funny Mike! You get pleasure from other people getting yelled at? 

"Come on Maria don't you? I know you do too!"

Lol. You're right! I kind of do too! It must be a Greek thing. 

Speaking of Greek things, I forgot to mention how much Mike loves his Greek Frappe. (Iced Nescafe coffee) Even though I think he makes it way
"too foamy"
"Shhhh......Skase Maria!"  
Ok, Ok. I had to say it. You know I'm just messing with you! 

And with that, we end this weeks Instant Vacation. Thank you SO much Mike for spending the day with me. I had so much fun with you. You helped me with my photography assignment this week and I couldn't be more grateful.  Keep smiling and spreading your light. Your energy is contagious!!

Before I go, here's a little Video on Bongo Mike. Enjoy and have a great week!