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As the latest series of Caribbean’s Next Top Model hits screens, MindMeet talks with Head Judge — and former Miss Universe — Wendy Fitzwilliam, on Dickens, divine presence, and everything in between.

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Dressed in an ensemble that represents the spirit of her people, Wendy won the Best in National Costume Award and was crowned Miss Universe in 1998 (source: Miss Universe Organization).

AH: Does being crowned Miss Universe give you a unique sense of what “beauty” means?

WF: While I was at the University of the West Indies studying law, they tried to introduce a beauty pageant and wanted me to represent the Faculty of Law. I stood up and gave a speech on how archaic and dehumanizing pageants are. My lecturers thought I’d be the last person in the world to participate in a beauty pageant. Three years later, I was crowned Miss Universe.

The first pageant I took part in was Miss Trinidad and Tobago — I was entered by a friend, and won. And the second was Miss Universe. I was never your typical pageant girl. But I developed a tremendous amount of respect for the young women who participate in these events, going through it myself. I learned that, like everything else in life, what you’re bringing informs what you take from a beauty pageant. I was raised as a hard worker, fair and kind, and that’s what I think I brought to the pageant world. …


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Global impressionistic artist, computer whiz and co-creator of Atelier Brooklyn, Alan Aine shares his human experience as a vector for creation. His tools, ranging from paintbrushes, public walls, and sketchbooks to Linux and laptops, amplify his talent for viscerally touching the world. His passionate search for authenticity reveals the unique beauty his eye captures in unexpected scenes — an ephemeral painting on a Brooklyn street, a fleeting face on a subway train, or symbols flashing across a screen.

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Source: Atelier Brooklyn

AH: It is a rare capacity — to be both adept at both computer programming and art. It takes some balancing, doesn’t it? What does balance mean to you?

AA: My wife and Atelier Brooklyn partner, Raquel Díaz and I brought our artwork into my workplace — a one-month exhibition in the lobby. Somehow, I incorporated my passion for art into my passion for computers, and it’s working. I have a coworker who said, “I saw your Instagram feed and your wife and you were doing your art in the street.” It felt a little like he had my whole life on his computers. …


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Two-time Canadian national slam champion, poet, and performer Brandon Wint shares his brilliant mind with MindMeet’s storyteller on the meaning of mercy, how to tell our truths, and much more.

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AH: What are you curious about?

BW: I’m curious about the nature of love. I’m curious about who I really am and what is possible when I’m not afraid. I’m curious about other people’s lives. One of the reasons that I am so passionate about poetry is that it teaches me a lot about other human beings.

AH: Sometime poetry reveals otherwise hidden truths. What does it mean to tell the truth?

BW: I think the reason that people are attracted to poetry is because they want some form of the truth. We enter artistic spaces, we engage with art, music, or poetry, because we want something about the human condition to be revealed or reconciled or made easier to cope with. That is what the best art does. A great poem will teach me something about what it means to be human. …


Award-winning media producer and author María Pérez-Brown shares her thoughts with MindMeet’s Storyteller about mantras, mentors, and making moments meaningful — even when it’s raining.

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AH: What is your daily mantra?

MPB: Sometimes it’s just saying I am, I am, I am — a meditation from Deepak Chopra. You close your eyes and say your full name: I am María Pérez-Brown. Each time you repeat it, you drop something. Saying my full name brings up an image in my mind of who I am today now. When I say, “I am María Pérez,” I’ve dropped the Brown — I just dropped my husband, my child, my family. That consciousness is now “I am María Pérez.” That’s the young me that was in college, in law school, striving to be a producer and a TV writer. …


James Beard Award winner Jennifer English dishes with MindMeet’s storyteller Araxe about flavor, truth, and some of her favorite things.

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AH: What is truth?

JE: Truth is something that’s really important when it comes to food. We are in this era of fake food. I don’t want my food to come from a 3D printer. My bowl, my plate, my dish, my fork, my spoon — 3D printer those all day long. But not my soup, not my chicken leg.

Truth is intention in the form of love. How do you honor whatever you’re doing? You have to do it with integrity and intention. …


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Having a conversation with yourself might seem odd, but it can help you reflect and focus on your life’s journey and even give you better ways to take care of yourself as you go about your daily activities. Consider starting each day by gazing into a mirror with these questions from beauty guru Keke Cargill Cifferello:

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  1. What is my intention for today?

We have the power to align our faces with our intentions every single day. Notice the thoughts and feelings that are showing up in your expression. Does the image before you reflect your inner purpose? …


MindMeet Luminaries: An ongoing series featuring awakened minds

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Beauty Guru and former Makeup Director for Tom Ford at Bergdorf Goodman, Keke Cargill Cifferello sat down with MindMeet’s storyteller, Araxe, to talk about beauty as a concept, a creation, and a form of connection. She discusses how to find beauty in the shared vision we have when we look in the mirror and at each other.

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Keke in the Beauty Way. (Source: Keke Cargill Cifferello)

AH: What is beauty?

KCC: It’s such a powerful force. It’s in everything. It’s that thing that stops your breath and takes up your imagination. It’s in a blade of grass, the way a cloud looks. Even a horrible accident can be beautiful. It’s how we choose to see it. The thing I love about beauty the most is how different we all are. …


MindMeet Luminaries: An ongoing series featuring awakened minds

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Jeannette Maré’s youngest child, Ben, died of croup just before his third birthday and became the inspiration for the Ben’s Bells project. Following his death, Jeannette and her family began incorporating coping strategies into their lives. They started making Ben’s Bells in their backyard studio with friends. The therapeutic effect of working with clay was amazing, as was the power of being surrounded by people talking and working toward a common goal. They made hundreds of Bells and distributed them randomly in the community to encourage the kindness that they had so depended on to get through each day. Since Ben’s death in 2002, it has been the kindness of others, strangers and friends, that helped Jeannette and her family to heal. …


Hike a different kind of trail — one that switchbacks through your heart.

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MindMeet Luminaries: An ongoing series featuring awakened minds.

Navajo healer, spiritual teacher, and Native American musician Tony Redhouse spent some time with MindMeet’s storyteller, sharing his journey with meditation, healing, and love.

AH: What is love?

TR: Love is a facet of the energy that creates and that helps us in this human journey. Love, time, energy, money — they all are one energy. Love is the sharing of our essence with others. It is the ability to be vulnerable, the ability to share from our hearts, to receive from others. It’s an energy that holds the world together. …


How to shift your tone from shame to gratitude with one vocabulary change.

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I recently attended Awakening the Divine Self, a four-day immersion at Miraval Resorts that made me think acutely about the word sorry. The workshop leaders, Dr. Tim Frank and Pam Lancaster, challenged us to go 21 days without saying “sorry” and replace it with “Thank you”.

When we sprinkle sorry into our vocabulary mindlessly, we’re not acknowledging the present moment in a conscientious way. We’re not being mindful of, or present for, our own feelings.

You might say it when you’re about to offend (Sorry to interrupt, but…) or when you bump into someone (Sorry!) You might say it to point out someone else’s mistake (Sorry, that’s not what I ordered). Maybe you’re afraid to be assertive (Sorry, but I have a suggestion), or maybe you’re not sorry at all (I’m sorry you feel this way). …

About

Araxe Hajian

Writer at Miraval Resorts, Thrive Global

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