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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Dara on Madmic radio

Saturday, July 23, 2011

I was invited as a guest on Madmic radio, an Internet radio show that streams live every Saturday from 6-8pm at I was so excited, and had butterflies in my stomach hours before arriving at the studio. I knew getting there was going to be a journey...and I wasn't lying! Traveling via bus or train on weekends is a headache in itself (no offense MTA), but coming from Brooklyn to the Bronx was a challenge. I took 2 buses and 2 trains to arrive there. I left my home at 3:30pm and didn't get there until 6:30pm! There was construction at one of the train stations so I had to take a shuttle bus to another train station, and catch a second train the rest of the way. When I got off, I used my phone's navigation to direct me to the studio; only 3 blocks walking distance. Oh and did I mention it was 100 degrees outside? Despite the traveling and heat, I was ever so happy to be at the studio watching Big O and Mike (hosts) talking with guests. I came in during Holla Holla Mocka where Greg Mocker (PIX 11 news reporter and friend) calls in and gives updates about his many trails.

I had a chance to meet and talk with Big O, Mike and Bigg Von, all members of DaMatrix Studios. They offered me great advice on how I can better promote my writing, and take it to the next level. I admire their hard work and positive influence they have on the community. I appreciate them bringing artists, models, entrepreneurs, or anyone who's trying to promote themselves on their show. I was told that they haven't had any aspiring writers on the show. I'm happy to be the first.

Before going on air, Big O and Mike asked me how I felt being on the show. I said, "I'm so excited to be here! I just saw you guys last Saturday on the Internet and here I am sitting next to ya! So surreal!" I've never been on a radio show and felt happy to have this opportunity. Big O and Mike are super cool and made me feel right at home. Being interviewed on air was great. I had a chance to talk about this blog, my writing for, my passion for teaching ESL and being an advocate for adult literacy. I also had a chance to give shout outs to my family, friends, Greg Mocker, my Facebook group, The Mocker Trail Team, and to Madmic radio for having me as a guest. I am honored to have my voice heard by positive people in media, and look forward to more opportunities.

Thank you Madmic radio for making this Brooklyn lady's dream come true. You guys are great!

(left) Bigg Von, Big O, me and Mike

Watch the broadcast here:

Friday, July 22, 2011

Kirsten's Horizon

Many have asked me, "What is Kirsten's Horizon?" "Who is Kirsten?" Allow me to introduce myself. I am Dara Kirsten. Kirsten's Horizon is my writer's page on Facebook ( where I showcase my writing including this blog, my articles for, my "6 word memoirs" for SMITH magazine, and Facebook notes. I include pictures of my travels and things that interest me. My brother came up with the name Kirsten's Horizon since my middle name is Kirsten and I love being by the water. I am inspired by nature, particularly the beach. I enjoy the cool sea breeze, the smell of salt water, the calmness of the water's current, it relaxes me. I go by the water for many reasons. Sometimes I go there to think, make decisions, gain inspiration, or reflect. I am a spiritual person and believe God is with me when I'm by the water. It's my one-on-one time with Him. Usually when I leave, I feel a new sense of self, a calmness I didn't feel before. The horizon is always with me.

Since my lay off, positive things have occurred. I went on an interview, been invited to be a guest on a radio show, was on CBS news (I still can't believe that!), scheduled my first interview with a prominent advocate for adult literacy, and more possibilities to come. I'm excited and very nervous. This is the first time I'm leaving my comfort zone being a teacher and entering a new career. My writing is being read by many which I'm incredibly happy about, and my work is noticed more. I'm not used to the attention, but it's something I've wanted for some time. I'm not looking to be famous, but wouldn't mind the popularity.

I went to Coney Island pier on Wednesday. As I looked out onto the water, listening to my favorite singer, Jill Scott and her song "Hear My Call," I asked God to guide me during this transitional period. I ask Him to help ease my fearfulness. I want to be a success and make a difference. I'm just looking for the chance to do so. Although I don't doubt I'll be able to do what I want, I want to feel confident. I want to be satisfied in my work and acknowledge my accomplishments. At times, I doubt myself and don't focus on what I've already done and about to do. I need to give myself more credit, and not look for it from others. I pray for patience, inner strength, and to enjoy the process. I believe it's going to be a great one.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The reality

(I wrote this as a note on my Facebook page and wanted to share it here also.)

I'm not popular. I don't have a lot of friends and don't date (not by choice). I strive to be the best at everything I do. I earn degrees, get certified, stay occupied, research, plan, and focus on my future. It may not consist of being a socialite or becoming famous, but it definitely consist of new discoveries. I'm always learning something new. With all the pressure that's put on women, women of color, an African-American woman, I am forced to live up to what's presented to me. This is hard to do. In being a friend, it requires me to be there for others, listen and comprehend their hurts, needs, wants, mishaps, and overall experiences. I enjoy giving advice, offer a hand when I can, and smile at those who's used to seeing a frown. I love being that person. I'm fascinated by my peers' lifestyles. I look up to them, appreciate their struggles, and admire their strength. Despite our differences, I continue to be apart of their world. But in reality, I will be left out, pushed aside and forgotten about. I will be stripped of my confidence,  raped of my dignity, and left feeling lost. In reality, I will never measure up to these individuals, and be used for their desires. I will be talked about, ridiculed, rejected, and disliked for being myself, and for loving them. As much as I'd like to be apart of this circle of diverse mentalities, I don't fit in. This is the reality.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I love to love

I love to love
Not because it’s free
A natural trait
That’s all me
I love to love
With no strings attached
Even if the one I love
Is not an ideal match
I love to love
Because I care
May cause hurt or despair
Which is not always fair
I love to love
Not to talk smack
But hope someday
I’ll be loved back

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


I read an article by William Deresiewicz called, "What are you going to do with that?" from The Chronicle of Higher Education ( This particular quote stood out amongst the rest:

"True self-esteem means recognizing, despite everything that your upbringing has trained you to believe about yourself, that the grades you get—and the awards, and the test scores, and the trophies, and the acceptance letters—are not what defines who you are."

This hit home. In my 30 years of life, I've always felt attending school, earning degrees and awards defined me. I still feel it does in some form or fashion. Although I like to think there's more to me than school and career, they definitely play a big role in my life. They are the things that keeps me going, motivated, and determined. I've always relied on them to feel good about myself, knowing I had a bigger purpose in life than snagging a boyfriend, wearing nice clothes or being popular. Since childhood, I wanted to make a difference and school was the way. Sounds simple doesn't it? Not really. Believe it or not, it was those things that held me back from having a boyfriend, wearing nice clothes, or being popular. I sacrificed those things so I can be a better person. By being better, I can be the best for others.

I realized that all of this takes courage. I don't think having courage is easy, in fact, I believe it's one of the most difficult things to possess. I'm not always courageous. I think Mr. Deresiewicz said it best that true self-esteem is about recognizing self. Even at this age and new transformation, I still worry, have fears, and feel hurt by negative responses from people I care about. I'm learning that this is part of being human and human emotion is stronger than physical strength. I'd like to believe I have courage in what I do. Of course, there's always room for improvement.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

New beginnings

A new beginning: June 29, 2011

 After being laid off, I've decided it was time to make some changes. Most people are used to my colorful jewelry wearing, afro-puff stylin, smiley face which is something I am very proud of. Not much of that has changed except for my hair. When I went to the salon, my stylist asked what kind of style I wanted. My exact words were: "Do whatever you want. Color it and cut it off." I'm sure she was surprised by my answer, but I had a motive. Growing up my hair was an important trait; I felt it defined me. The longer it was, the better, and I wanted to be part of the long-hair click. I permed, weaved, braided, curled, you name it I've done it. Because of this, my hair was left damaged, uneven, and very fine. I knew I had to do something to change that. Also, cutting my hair was a way of letting go of all the negativity from the past. Losing my job (for a second time) was the last thing I've lost since breaking up with my boyfriend last year. I've grown tired of "losing" and wanted to start anew.  This was the first step. I am truly pleased with this transformation. I must thank my stylist, Shante and Evolution Hair Salon in Brooklyn for making me beautiful again.

A new day has come

I love the sun! It shines brightly and doesn't limit itself to how far or how wide it goes. I truly believe the sun is my guide, and it's shining its light on me. Thank you. I am shining my light onto my path, and not limiting myself to new opportunities or adventures. For the first time, I'm throwing myself into the unknown, giving my faith to God, and letting Him make all the decisions. I am no longer afraid of what others think of me, or how I'm perceived physically, emotionally, or otherwise. I've finally accepted me for me, loving my present and near future. A new day has come.

 What's my story?

Reflecting through travel

Taking new directions

Treading new waters (although scary at times)


Being true to self: a colorful, smiley faced, rock collector, geologist-at-heart

I'm not done yet.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Dara on CBS news

Last Friday (7-1-11) I was interviewed by CBS news reporter, Itay Hod, about my recent lay off and how I feel about it. Being unemployed isn't easy but I believe it's a beginning to something better. I thank both Itay and CBS news for allowing me to share my story.

Itay Hod and me

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The door isn't closed yet

June 27-28, 2010: The graduation

This is my level 4 (high intermediate) ESL class. I presented them with certificates, and gifts which included dictionaries and 2011-12 datebooks. I am so proud of them and their accomplishments. They all passed well, and speak English better now than before. I've learned more from them than they've learned from me, and  happy I shared this journey with them.We graduated.


I've been an ESL teacher for six years. I started my teaching career in the AmeriCorps (2005-2007) and worked for the Chinese-American Planning Council for four years. I learned, taught, and ate a lot. Yes, I love eating Chinese food, and have eaten plenty! My students taught me the importance of being true to self, and that it's okay to make mistakes. They've helped me become a better teacher, a better person. This journey has had its challenges, and at times I didn't feel confident in myself or my teaching style. However, I'm not a quitter and my students helped me to keep going. If I could see each person I've taught again, I would simply say "Thank you for making me the woman I am today."  
 With that said...
I've climbed many stairs...

Walked through many hallways...                                                          
 But one thing that hasn't happened...

  Is the closing of my classroom door

I'm not done yet.