"Regretting things is a waste of energy. I’ve most definitely done all kinds of stuff I wish I hadn’t done, but wallowing in the past is bad. I’m not the best at not beating myself up over things, but time moves forward. You can learn from your mistakes or you can sit with them forever. I think I’m just stubborn. That may be all it is."
“I had my daddy until I was 7 or 8, but when my parents broke up, the house just went downhill. I used to be the kid who sat in the front row, who had his pants pulled up, but I started letting peer pressure get to me in elementary school. I didn’t want to be called names or for people to think that I thought I was better than them, so I started doing little stuff just to fit in. Then I went on to bigger stuff in middle school. I was skipping classes --- knowing my mama and my daddy would whip my butt --- and I started smoking weed. When I was in high school, I just went full throttle. I did a lot of things I regret now, like robbery, kicking in doors, breaking in houses, burglary. I was drinking, popping pills, doing this and that, getting locked up, spending time behind bars. Growing up, where I’m from, I've been through it all. There were some things I didn’t have to do, but I wanted to prove a point. I wanted to show my peers that I could do what they couldn't. I didn’t know my place in the world, my purpose. I felt like nobody loved me.
“I became a father when I was 18. I was there when my little girl was born; I cut the umbilical cord. I was immature and too young, but she’s a big part of the reason I decided I had to make a change in my life. I was doing the same things over and over and getting the same results; God brought it to my attention that I needed to do something different. I didn’t want to be in jail and away from my family. My daughter is six now and she’s so smart; she can see the changes in me already. I’ll graduate from a career and personal development program next week, and I expect to get my GED within the next six months. I’ll really be proud of myself when that happens.
“Some things I want to pass on to my daughter are: Don’t let peer pressure get to you. You came into this world by yourself. You’ll go out the same way. And obey the law. Do right.
“I used to look up to people who were leading me in the wrong direction, who didn't want to learn or change, but not anymore. My role model is God now. He knows that I’m not perfect, but he’s the one I look to. He's teaching me that I'm here for a reason, and that reason is to do good in the world, to give back."
HopeWorks, 1930 Union Avenue
“This is my first year to tutor second-graders [through the Arise2Read / TEAM Read program], and I think it’s one of the most valuable things I’ve ever done. It’s not just the reading, although that’s very important --- in fact, research shows that if you can’t read on grade level by second grade, your likelihood of living in poverty or crime as an adult greatly increases --- it’s seeing someone there who cares so much about them. They light up when they see the volunteers. It’s a person they can depend on, someone who ‘belongs’ to them. The children receive a lot of one-on-one attention, affection, and positive reinforcement, and they respond with such interest and enthusiasm. I was talking about careers with one of ‘my’ children a few days ago, and I thought I remembered her saying she wanted to be a nurse. She corrected me immediately and said, ‘Oh no, I want to be a doctor!’ I think she will achieve really great things if she keeps this mindset. She’s got a huge head start on others and can have a wonderful future. I plan on tutoring through this program next year too. I wouldn’t miss it. It’s such a joy.”
For more information, go to Arise2Read.
“When I was very young in Vietnam, I used to go with my grandparents to the monastery. I felt happy there. That’s why I decided, at the age of 16, to become a Buddhist nun. My parents supported me and allowed me to do it, so from that time until now I’ve lived in monasteries. I’m 42 now. I don’t have a lot of contact with my parents --- I visit every year or two and we talk once a month --- but they are the ones who taught me to be independent and to do good for our relatives and for society. I was able to live in India for eight years, and I’m here in the United States for two. As a nun, I study, I learn, I teach other followers about Buddhist teachings, and I try to be a good person. It’s a happy life, a peaceful life.”
Buddhist Temple - Quan Am Monastery, 3500 S Goodlett St
“If I could have any pet I wanted, it would be a nice big red dinosaur. I would pet it all the time and it would live in my garden. It would sleep in the garage. I would feed it grass and play catch with it. I would give it dinosaur exercise foods. He would run all around and get exercise. He would have a saddle on him, and I would climb on him and ride him all the way to Daddy’s house. If somebody saw me and was scared, I would say, ‘Why are you scared of my dinosaur? He’s nice.’ He would fly too. I would ride him all the way to heaven and see all the people there.”
"We’re from Manchester, England. This is a bit of a pilgrimage to Memphis, the home of Elvis Presley and our favorite sort of music, which is soul music. That’s why we’re visiting the Stax Museum. We’re only got 2 full days here, so we’ve got to cram a lot in. After Stax, we’re off downtown to look around Beale Street and perhaps have a walk down by the river. Graceland tomorrow, and Sun Studios, then off to New Orleans. Manchester, where we live, is not far from Liverpool, but we were never big Beatles fans."
“It’s very easy to assume you know all about someone else’s point of view without even engaging them and hearing their side. That’s why it’s so important to really listen to people. Sometimes you find out that you’re way off base; you’ve reframed the entire situation. You can still have your own beliefs and your own passions, but when you make the effort to really hear what someone else is saying, you’re doing more than just showing respect. It goes beyond that. You’re expressing a willingness to learn, explore, and really connect.”
“I remember my teacher in China asking our class to write essays about how great our parents were, but I couldn’t do it. I didn’t know what that was like. I was brought to an orphanage when I was five months old, so I never knew my birth parents. It was hard growing up there. I didn’t feel like I mattered at all. Nobody ever saw anything special in me. Then, when I was 12, I got the news that someone in America was going to adopt me. I didn’t want to show my feelings on the outside because I didn’t want to hurt the people who took care of us at the orphanage, but I was so excited. I would finally have somebody I could call my Mom and Dad. They traveled to China and stayed for two months, and the first time I met them was at a hotel. I was really nervous. I had never seen pictures of them and didn’t know what to expect. The first time my new Mom saw me, she hugged me, which I thought was very strange because in the Chinese culture, parents don’t hug their children. They don’t say, ‘I love you.’ I found out too that they had a biological son who would be my brother. He had told his parents that he really wanted a sister, so that’s one reason they decided to look into adoption.
“The first year in America was hard because I didn’t speak any English. My new parents took care of my basic needs, but other than that, they didn’t know how to communicate with me except through physical touch, like hugs and holding me on their laps while they read me stories. They would always say ‘I love you’ whenever I left for school, and they taught me how to say ‘I love you’ back to them. If not for them, I don’t know what would have happened to me after I was too old for the orphanage. I probably would not have gotten to go to college. I would probably have been on the streets, but now I have a college degree and I’m an accountant. The adoption changed my life.
“I went from not knowing how to love people or what love felt like, to parents who love me and made me part of their family. I’m thankful for them and for my brother. My parents also taught me that there is a God out there who loves me, who took care of me before I even knew who he was.”
“I left Memphis at 18 and joined the Air Force. Being in the military and traveling around the world gave me a broader perspective than the one I started out with. I had the opportunity to meet people who grew up in different places with different mindsets. It was a journey. Along the way I attended quite a few parties, heard a great variety of music, and got to see how different deejays handled their work. I was still in Kuwait when I decided that deejaying was something I was interested in pursuing. I saved my money, did a lot of reading online, ordered equipment, and had it all shipped to my Mom. I had no idea what I was doing, so a lot of it turned out to be the wrong stuff [*laughs*]. When I got out of the military at 22 , I came back to Memphis. There were YouTube videos on how to hook up deejay equipment, so that's how I learned. Lots of trial and error. A local bar and grill gave me an opportunity to do some 10-15 minute sets, and that's where I started. Now, almost ten years later, I’m still at it. I do corporate events, nightclubs, weddings, bar mitzvahs, whatever is requested. People don’t always realize how much research goes into deejaying. You’re trying to please a large, diverse group of people, so you have to study in order to have a successful set. You can’t be selfish and just play the stuff you like. People want to hear their favorite current songs, they want to hear what’s popular at the time, but they also like to go down memory lane, listen to some old school. Deejaying is like a puzzle. You have to read the room and then put the pieces together to entertain a particular audience. It excites me to make people happy and to be part of setting a mood where they can relax, let their hair down, and enjoy themselves after a hard day or a hard week. I love it."
"Damien 'DjDnyce' Woods is a visionary disguised as a talented DJ from Memphis, TN. Co-creator of Lyfe is Dope and K97 affiliate, Dnyce has been an integral part of the industry since 2007. His versatility and ability to universally entertain a variety of crowds has made him one of Memphis’ most requested DJ’s and a prominent fixture at some of the Top 100 ranked spots from Nightclub and Bar. But he always finds time for a permanent chair at Club 152 on Beale Street. DNyce can be heard on nationally syndicated mix shows for K97 & iHeart Music. Recently Dnyce became a main stay on the Red Bull corporate circuit." --- source Lyfe is Dope FB page for 2015, https://www.facebook.com/events/431887837002783/
From the Eventbrite ticketing page:
Damien "DJ Dnyce" Woods