Listening to kris: starlit stories with a maori villager

Listening to kris: starlit stories with a maori villager

Listening has the power to change lives, one story at a time.

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Listen...

This is a word we all know well. We've been told for years to listen to our teachers, to our parents, to our bosses and so on. But, what does it truly mean to listen? I thought I understood the importance of this word, but I didn't. At least not until I arrived in a Maori village on the South Island of New Zealand.

There were 32 of us on my study abroad trip and, at the point of this story, we had traveled hundreds of miles, moving every two to three days so we could experience the entire country. Fascinating, right? Well, for many, sleep was the only important word ringing in our ears when we reached Te'Whakarewarewa, The Living Maori Village.

The entire group sat beneath the hunched trees and wide-open skies of the village, but as night fell our guide began to speak and many drifted away. Four of us gathered around our tiny, 80-year-old tour guide under a blanket of darkness. Her name was Kris and I called her my Maori mama. The five of us sat beneath the night sky, looking up to see perfect silhouettes of the Milky Way galaxy and the Southern Cross.

Kris told us about her story, her children's story, Maori legends, and traditions. I could've been there for hours but it felt like precious minutes. I guess that's what happens when you're in a once in a lifetime moment. Kris had been through everything life can throw at a person, and came through her experience with a wisdom I can only hope to gain in my years on this earth. Her brown wrinkles formed beautiful patterns on her face. She almost didn't seem real, but she was the most genuine human being I've ever met. Her golden voice was faint and hidden inside the calls of crickets and the whispers of the cool wind that enveloped our bodies.

As the stories of her past rolled off her tongue, I began to learn the importance of listening. I hung onto every word she said, realizing that her words were impacting my life in such a way I could never have foreseen. I cried and laughed with her and our friends sitting close beside us. Collectively, we understood it was not our time to speak. We all kept our lips shut and our ears open, allowing her unabashed emotions to flood our hearts.

I spoke to these friends recently and found we all learned a very similar lesson from this unique experience. Every single person you speak to has the ability to change your life. No matter how young or old someone is, they have a story. You just have to be willing to lend your ears to their voice. Who knows, the person you decide to listen to today may impact you forever.

When I took the opportunity to listen to Kris, I learned the importance of detail in my life. Each experience I have is a sensory one with every part of me heightened to a level that did not exist prior to this night. With each painful memory she shared, she remembered to tell us she has no regrets. She's made the most of what she's been given, forever grateful for every single fragment of her 80 years.

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80 Nicki Minaj Lyrics Perfect For Instagram Captions

"Yo, you seen my last pic, go double-tap that for me."
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Nicki Minaj lets the world know about her amazing Instagram skills in Beyonce's "Flawless," when she raps "Instagram another flawless pic." Do you have a #Flawless Instagram picture but need a clever caption to go with it? The Queen of Rap has plenty of Insta-worthy song lyrics.

*(Some lyrics have been edited to keep this article "PG". Feel free to look up the real Nicki Minaj lyrics if you hate the radio edit.)


When you want to diss a hater:

    1. "You couldn't get a fan if it was hangin' from the ceilin."
    2. "I'm throwing shade like it's sunny."
    3. "I'm in my own lane, you ain't in my category."
    4. "These (girls) couldn’t test me even if their name was Pop Quiz."
    5. "Yo, people will love you and support you when it's beneficial. I'ma forgive, I won't forget, but I'ma dead the issue."
    6. "Not that I don't got good vision, but I don't see competition."
    7. "I’m Angelina, you Jennifer. Come on (girl), you see where Brad at."
    8. "I look like "yes" and you look like "no"."
    9. "But if you're ugly it's a no text zone."
    10. "If you are my rival, then that means you're suicidal."
    11. "Shout out to my haters, Sorry that you couldn't faze me."
    12. "Trash talk to 'em then I put 'em in a Hefty."
    13. "Like I mean I don't even know why you girls bother at this point. Like give up, it's me, I win, you lose."
    14. "All these haters mad because I'm so established."
    15. "Competition? why yes I would love some."

















When you want to tell people how awesome you are:

    16. "If I'm fake I ain't notice, cause my money ain't."
    17. "You can hate me, but why knock my hustle? I'ma be the queen, no matter how they shuffle."
    18. "Let me make this clear, I’m not difficult, I’m just ’bout my business."
    19. "I'm feelin' myself."
    20. "Excuse me honey, but nobody's in my lane."
    21. "Put me on a dollar cause I'm who they trust in."
    22. "I don’t say “Hi”, I say “Keys to the Benz.”"
    23. "I've been hot since flip phones" "Running this game for 5 years. Guess that's why my feet hurt."
    24. "Hotter than a middle eastern climate."
    25. "My money’s so tall that my Barbies gotta climb it."
    26. "No, I'm not lucky, I'm blessed, yes."
    27."I ain't gotta compete with a single soul."
    28. "'X' in the box, cause ain't nobody checking me."
    29."Excuse me, I'm sorry, I'm really such a lady."
    30. "Honestly I gotta stay as fly as I can be."














When you're hanging with your clique:

    31. "Cherish these nights, cherish these people. Life is a movie, but there will never be a sequel."
    32. "I’m with some hood girls lookin’ back at it."
    33. "We dope girls, we flawless. We the poster girls for all this."
    34. "Pretty gang, always keep them (boys) on geek."
    35. "The night is still young, and so are we!"
    36. "If you ain’t on the team, you playin’ for team D, ’Cause we A-listers, we paid sisters."
    37. "Pretty (girls) only could get in my posse."
    38. "Cause we the mean girls, y-yes we so fetch."
    39. "We fresh to death, down to the shoes."
    40. "Ain't at no wedding but all my girls cake tops."
    41. "Got a whole bunch of pretty gang in my clique."
    42. "Clap for the heavyweight champ, me, But I couldn't do it all alone, WE."
    43. "Put your drinks up, It's a celebration every time we link up."
    44. "I'm with some flawless (girls) because they be mobbin' pretty."


















When you're hanging with your significant other:

    45. "He tryna kick it like a ninja."
    46. "He could tell that I was wifey material."
    47. "Ayo, I just wanna be your first go to."
    48. "You got spark, you, you got spunk. You, you got something all the girls want."
    49. Find me in the dark, I'll be in the stars, Find me in your heart, I'm in need of your love."
    50. "They holler at me, but it's you, you."
    51. "I'm not living right, I’m not living if you’re not by my side."
    52. "I just wanna be somebody that can add to, your wife, be a friend, be a teacher and a fan, too."
    53. "I just wanna be your favorite."
    54. "He was the realest, I was the baddest, we was the illest."
    55. "I know you can save me and make me feel alive."
    56. "Yes I'll be your girl, forever your lady, You ain't ever gotta worry, I'm down for you baby."
    57. "Baby you my everything, You all I ever wanted."

















When you're single and loving it:

    58. "You could be the king, but watch the queen conquer!"
    59. "Thats why I'm crowned queen, and I ain't looking for the prom king."
    60. "I like independent, like July 4th."
    61. "I ain't never need a man, to take care of me."
    62. "He be like, "Yo, you so legendary", But he can tell just by my face he ain't getting any."
    63. "I am not Jasmine, I am Aladdin."
    64. "I don't even brake when I'm backing up, I'll swerve on a (boy) if he acting up."
    65. "So many boys in here where do I begin?"











When you're just living life:

    66. "I never worry, life is a journey. I just wanna enjoy the ride."
    67. "Tonight is the night that I'ma get twisted."
    68. "I’mma keep it movin', be classy and graceful."
    69. "So make sure the stars is what you aim for, make mistakes though."
    70. "And we gon' hangover the next day. But we will remember this day."
    71. "My only motto in my life is don't lose."
    72. "Take me, or leave me, I'll never be perfect. Believe me, I'm worth it."
    73. "I believe that life is a prize, but to live doesn't mean you're alive."
    74. "I wish that I could have this moment for life."
    75. "If I scream, if I cry, It's only 'cause I feel alive."
    76. "I can't believe it, it's so amazing. This club is heating, this party's blazing.""
    77. "It's so amazing, I figured out this world is ours for the taking."
    78. "I am not a girl that can ever be defined."
    79. "I got next, I'm gonna shine."
    80. "This is my moment I just feel so alive."















Cover Image Credit: Nicki Minaj

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This Is What You Can Learn About Blame From An Inmate On Death Row

Go out, accept your responsibility, and make your lot better than you found it. And stop whining.

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While the number of murder series available on Netflix may seem mildly worrisome at first glance, such shows have captivated a range of audiences worldwide. I for one have also been a big proponent of crime/mystery/murder docuseries and docudramas, so I was immediately drawn in by Netflix's recent addition I AM A KILLER. Yes, it is in all caps.

The drama of an all-caps-title is rightfully given as it tells the stories of inmates on death row—both from the perspective of the inmate and others involved with their life and/or trial.

While many inmates interviewed attempt to dismiss the accusations afforded them with "It's a blur" or "You have to understand, it wasn't my idea," even more surprising is the degree of accountability many maintain.

The first episode opens on James Robertson, an inmate who after decades in prison purposefully murdered his cellmate (who he claims was a pedophile) in order to be put on death row. As this premeditated murder proved futile in his attempt for the death sentence, he took it to court where he eventually was given capital punishment.

After growing up in a broken home with drug abusing parents, Robertson found himself in and out of state penitentiaries from a very young age. After decades of prison it appeared he would never find himself free again.

Chilling as his interviews were, the viewer can't help but sympathize with Robertson to a certain extent as he appears calm, charismatic, and all-accepting.

Toward the end of the episode, Robertson muses on how he's come to accept his fate. The simple answer? Blame. He no longer blames anyone but himself:

"I was bitter when I was always blaming everybody else for... the way my life turned out and stuff. But I stopped doing that. And as a matter of principle, I gotta—I got to face the music.

I got to man up. I don't like hearing other people whine or talk about blaming the world and everything for all their problems. Life ain't always fair. People always saying, talking about how unfair the world is and stuff, ain't nobody ever said life was meant to be fair, ain't nobody up, up on a cloud wearing a robe and cane...saying 'I'm gonna make everything fair.' They, they ain't like that, man. You know? People just gotta accept that, man. You know? You're always trying to make the world...a better place, you know...ain't nothing perfect."

Although perhaps poorly worded, I found it pretty incredible to hear someone charged with capital murder, awaiting their turn to be executed, so calmly elucidate on blame. Regardless of how you feel about the death penalty, there's something refreshing about hearing a murderer admit his responsibility, rather than find a scapegoat for his past decisions.

Today it appears no one wants to assume onus for anything. There is a constant game of "he said," "she did," "I don't know," etc… There has become a lack of responsibility in our society that needs to be addressed, whether it be big or small.

I think back on the times I've attempted to place the blame elsewhere, and the times I've owned up to my actions. The latter has always left me feeling better about myself than the prior.

Rightfully accepting one's share in the blame has become an attribute so few adults, young and old, possess in today's society. This bleeds into other necessary aspects of life, such as the ability to apologize and sympathize. So many people complain about life being unfair, blaming everyone and everything but themselves. The fact of the matter is, whining won't change a damn thing, action will.

If someone who committed a heinous crime can accept the blame, why can't you accept your own? As Robertson points out, life isn't always fair, so who are you to curse the world? Go out, accept your responsibility, and make your lot better than you found it.

Pride and respect can be found in one's own acceptance, regardless the magnitude.

As for James Robertson, when asked "How do you want to be remembered?" he replied "Somebody that always speaks the truth."

It would appear we can all learn a little bit about responsibility from this man sentenced to death.

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