Fear{less} is Here!

Im very excited to announce that my new TV show Fear{less} is now live! The less is in parentheses because the objective is to teach you to fear less, not to be fearless.

Heres a quick synopsis of the show:

Fear(less) features in-depth, long-form conversations with top performers, focusing on how they’ve overcome fears and made hard decisions, embracing discomfort and thinking big.

Now for the important details: if you want to watch (it’d mean the world to me), here are the different ways you can view the show.

If you have DIRECTV, tune in to channel 239 at 8 pm PT/ET on Tuesday, May 30th. The first episode features master illusionist and performance artist David Blaine (@davidblaine). We have 10 episodes, with a new episode coming out each Tuesday.  If you have The Audience Network/ATT U-Verse, tune to channel 1114.The entire first episode with David Blaine is available for you to watch for free at http://att.net/fearless.Please watch and use the hashtag #FearlessTV as much as possible. I want to hear from you and know what you think about the show.If you don’t have DIRECTV, you can download the DIRECTV NOW app. (Click here to sign up.) The app includes a free 7-day trial. To sign up, follow the steps below.Click to sign up.Enter your email.Make your selection. The live a little is the most basic package and includes the show and the free 7-day trial.Complete the process and enjoy!

Thank you so much for all your support. Enjoy the show!

A Step Inside the Studio of Vodou Priest and Artist Jean Baptiste Jean Joseph

Kay koule tronpe soley, men li pa tronpe lapli Haitian proverb meaning A leaky house can fool the sun but it cant fool the rain. 

No visit to Croix-des-Bouquets is complete without a stop at the studio of world-famous vodou artist and priest, Jean Baptiste Jean Joseph. Jean Baptistes Isidor Gallery has been receiving customers from all over the world for years and some of his most impressive pieces sell for thousands of dollars. Yet despite his fame and notoriety, like many of the other highly successful artists of Croix-des-Bouquets Jean Baptiste has decided to stay in Haiti and continue his work and mentorship to other aspiring artists. This is what makes Croix-des-Bouquets so special.

Stepping into the Isidor Gallery feels like stepping into a dream. The scent of incense flavors the air and the walls are filled with a riot of colorful, imaginative vodou flags intricately designed and handcrafted. The lights are low or even off, and the hot, humid heat of Haiti adds to a slightly dizzying effect. To be inside Jean Baptistes studio and to see his work, gives one a true sense of Haitis rich, intricate culture and religion. It feels like magic.

Croix-des-Bouquet Haiti

Jean Baptiste Jean Jospeph, Isador Gallery, Haiti

Jean Baptiste Jean Joseph was born in 1967 in La Vallé Bainet and was raised in Croix-des-Bouquets, a community known for its metal artisans in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. At a young age Jean Baptiste became passionate for folk art and textiles. Following his dream and passion for beadwork, he worked in a small factory where he honed his skills by sewing pearls and beads onto wedding dresses. Then in 1991, thanks to the receipt of a small loan from a friend, Jean Baptiste opened Isidor Gallery in Croix-des-Bouquets.

Fast forward two decades, and Jean Baptistes beadwork is world renown. Besides his famous vodou flags, Jean Baptiste and his fellow artisans make purses, bags, vodou dolls, and various other handicrafts. Like his fellow master artisans in Croix-des-Bouquets, Jean Baptiste has been instrumental in training new artisans in his field, helping the community prosper and ensuring this beautiful form of art does not die out.

Each flag is intricately beaded by hand and displays some of Haitis most mystical symbols from vodou. Even the name of his gallery, Isidor Gallery, is named after a famous vodou figure Saint Isidor –  – who was a farm laborer like his father.

Jean Baptiste Jean Jospeph, Isador Gallery, Haiti

Isidor Gallery Haiti

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Jean Baptiste Jean Jospeph, Isador Gallery, Haiti

Some of Jean Baptistes pieces go for thousands of dollars to wealthy tourists and art collectors who come specifically to Haiti to buy his art. Thankfully, his fame and fortune has  brought attention to Haitis artisans and has helped his community thrive.

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Vodou flags have a long history in Haitian vodou culture. Traditionally, vodou flags were used to decorate the site where a ceremony was taking place or were worn on the backs of participants in a vodou dance. Today, these amazing pieces of art are being used as decoration and are displayed on peoples walls. One flag can take anywhere from 2-6 weeks to make and Jean Baptiste is a leader in innovative designs.

P1070033-17 P1070036-19Jean Baptiste Jean Jospeph, Isador Gallery, Haiti

Jean Baptiste Jean Jospeph, Isador Gallery, HaitiOn a table inside his studio is row after row of beautiful one of a kind hand-beaded wallets.Jean Baptiste Jean Jospeph, Isador Gallery, HaitiJean Baptiste Jean Jospeph, Isador Gallery, Haiti

Alongside art, Jean Baptiste is also a highly esteemed vodou priest. He was identified as a priest back in 1991 and has been conducting ceremonies ever since. While there is no definite number, the Haitian government estimates that there are about 3,000 vodou priests in the country. The real number is difficult to ascertain however given the high amount of imposters as well as the unending taboo in discussing vodou. While the strength of Catholicism is always present in Haiti, vodou often still remains behind closed doors despite being recognized as an official religion in 1991. (Catholicism has been an official religion since Haitis independence).

P1070039-22 P1070041-23Thanks to pop culture, there is a tremendous amount of misunderstanding about the meaning and practice of vodou. The word vodou itself often invites images of vodou priests sticking pins into a vodou dolls to bring misfortunate upon an unknowing enemy or of someone cross-eyed, completely taken over by powerful spirits.While there may be a tiny slice of truth in this perception, vodou is actually a rather complex belief system and has been practiced in Haiti ever since the 18th century when West African slaves were forced under French rule to convert to Christianity. Instead of fully embracing Christianity, however, they learned to incorporate their own religious beliefs into the religion by assigning each Iwa (vodou spirit) to a Catholic counterpart. For example, the Iwa called Legba is associated with St. Peter. Assigning Iwas with Catholic saints was a way for the West African slaves to secretly continue to practice their own religion in disguise. A pretty amazing feat! Iwas also have a distinct list of recognizable symbols, offerings, attributes, homes, and colors. If you ever attend a vodou ceremony, see vodou-inspired art or visit a Haitians home, you will certainly see these attributes all around you. You just have to look. You will be surprised how often you will see it.Outside of the gallery is the home of Jean Baptistes vodou altar. A small fire was burning infiltrating the air with a light covering of smoke and giving the place a mystical feel.

Jean Baptiste Jean Jospeph, Isador Gallery, Haiti

Jean Baptiste Jean Jospeph, Isador Gallery, Haiti

Jean Baptiste showed us his altar and told us a little bit about what each symbol was for. On his altar, there are different symbols and offerings for the different deities he calls when needed. Some prefer rum, while others prefer coffee or a specific food. People come to him seeking protection, communication with their ancestors, prosperity, recovery from an illness or to ward off bad omens with enemies. The list is endless yet each vodou ceremony is private. One never knows what is discussed except the attendee and the priest.

Click to view slideshow.

Two years ago, when I was in Haiti I received this purse a beautiful unique piece made and blessed by Jean Baptiste during a short vodou ceremony. I have kept it in the drawer by the side of my bed ever since alongside my other special gifts. Little did I know Id be going back once again.

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Although it was only a small look into Haitian voodoo culture and life, I am glad I received it. It is these magical moments when traveling that make it so memorable.

I traveled to Haiti with my dear friend Haitian-American Nathalie (Nat) Tancrede. Passionate to show the true beauty and magic of Haiti, Nat launched her new travel business “Explore with Nat”. Nat provides a fully guided week-long trip exploring different regions of Haiti and embracing Haiti’s culture, history and people every step of the way. To learn more about Nat and her upcoming trips check out her website Explore with Nat. You can also follow her on Facebook and Instagram. 

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With years of photos tucked away on your home computer or spare hard drive, it might seem like a daunting, almost impossible task to transfer all your images online. Recreating the folder structure and organization doesn’t have to be tedious, though. With SmugMug’s latest update, we’re making smooth work of staying organized and uploading with ease.

Now you can drag entire folders straight into the SmugMug uploader in your browser instead of each picture individually. We’ll go ahead and create a gallery, or galleries, for you automatically. It’s as easy as that, and your new gallery will inherit the settings from its new parent folder or your main site settings. (We can hear your cheers right now!!)

Are you super organized? Don’t worry, we won’t tell. But if you are in fact one of those folks who has their sock drawer organized by material, length, and color, we have even better news for you. Even when all your photos are split into multiple nested folders across years and months, or specific trips or events, you can drag and drop the main parent folder that contains all those photos, and we’ll mirror the exact structure in folders and galleries on your SmugMug site. Talk about easy.

For you veteran SmugMuggers who have already created a gallery structure inside your own site, our new folder uploading will make your workflow even smoother. You never need to manually create folders and galleries again! If you have things set up the way you want locally, just make sure the name is correct, drag, drop, and do something awesome with the time you just saved. (Our recommendation may or may not involve petting a puppy while eating a bowl of ice cream.)

If you want to get started uploading folders, simply login to your SmugMug account, head over to your organizer, select where you’d like to upload your folder, click upload, and drag and drop your folder into the uploader. We’ll handle the rest. And that rest is pretty cool if we do say so ourselves.

Right now folder uploading is available on Chrome, Firefox, and Microsoft Edge web browsers. If you have questions or feedback check out our help pages or send a message to our Support Heroes. Happy uploading!

Now you can upload the whole enchilada. was originally published in SmugMug on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

5 Unbasic LBD’s

I dont know why the classic Little Black Dress has started to get a bad rap but it feels like a basic move to wear one lately. Call me crazy, but I beg to differ. Black dresses can be easily jazzed up with a pop of color in the heel or pun clutch. Ive linked to 5 favorites below that may feel a little less basic.

Ganni Merino Wool Blend Mini Dress

I recently scored this super comfortable and very practical dress from Net-a-Porter. Not to mention, it is now almost 50% off!

Shop Now Blake Blake Dress

Love this little black dress I found when shopping at Revolve. It’s fun and has nice added frill details and sleeves that make it easy to dress up for a dinner date or dress down for a day at the beach.

Shop Now

Topshop Frill Bardot Dress

I love a good off-the-shoulder dress and the short cocktail style of this dress would be perfect for a fun night out on the town.

Shop Now

H Knee-Length Dress

I love a good piece from H This dress is great because you can wear a long sleeve or tee underneath to add a touch of style to the typical little black dress.

Shop Now Keepsake Chandler Mini Dress

I love the tied sleeves on this dress, it’s the perfect evening cocktail style piece. Wear it out to drinks with girls and pair it with a bright colored handbag.

Shop Now What Im Wearing

Blog #21 IAMAT: Another Non-profit with Great Resources

For those of you new to travel health, you may not be aware of the International Association for the Medical Assistance of Travelers – or IAMAT.  It has actually been around since 1960 and was started by a physician who saw a need to help travelers stay healthy.  It is a 501(c)(3) with a Board of Directors and an International Advisory Board made up of travel health experts.  It’s free to join. Membership is valid for one year but can be renewed with a tax deductible donation.  Over the years, they have produced a number of excellent resources to assist travelers and travel health professionals.

I’m sure many of you feel as I do – that we are constantly bombarded with information and it can be difficult to muster any enthusiasm for one more unfamiliar thing, but this is an organization you should investigate further.  I sort of stumbled upon IAMAT several years ago when a travel health colleague retired and someone passed along her IAMAT mail to me. The brochure described a number of seemingly useful travel health resources and services. I was intrigued and made my way to their website.

Here’s what I found. They have a monthly blog with timely topics. See Stings and bites: Preventing marine injuries, In the news: Vaccines, pharmacies, bug spray and brain drain, and New! Try Our Travel Health Planner!

Travelers can get country specific updates regarding local health risks, recommended vaccines, and current conditions. They also get access to a list of English speaking clinicians around the world vetted by IAMAT. These affiliated physicians and mental health professionals can only charge up to a maximum of $100 for the initial visit. Travelers can also download IAMAT’s comprehensive Guide to Healthy Travel and Guide to Travel Health Insurance.  The former is a detailed 84 page guide written by University of Washington travel health experts Elaine Jong and Anne Terry along with IAMAT’s Tullia Marcolongo.  It covers a wide array of topics. Travelers with specific questions can ask one of IAMAT’s travel health experts. There’s an open access e-library with lots of articles covering topics such as traveling with anxiety, bed bugs, traveling with medications, and medical tourism.

Handy charts include the World Immunization Chart which is an amazing summary of general vaccine recommendations for every country in a two-page brochure. The World Malaria Risk Chart and World Schistosomiasis Risk Chart are also quite informative.

For travel health professionals there’s a new publication, The Older Traveler – A guide for the health professional, which is a collaborative effort from the South African Society of Travel Medicine, the South African Geriatrics Society and IAMAT. It is available in the US for only $16.

In addition, IAMAT offers a number of scholarships that provide additional training to physicians and nurses in the area of travel health.

In summary, IAMAT provides a wealth of reliable travel health information at very little cost. It’s simply a great deal – especially for travelers on a budget. I’m glad I joined IAMAT and recommend you join too.  Their mission is in sync with our mission – keeping travelers healthy- and there’s still plenty of work to go around.

-Julie Richards, President

American Travel Health Nurses Association

GSA Weekly Announcement, May 22nd-28th

GSA Announcements:Being a Professor at a Teaching University Cal State East Bay Info SessionCareers in Publishing Panel DiscussionFrom Margin to Center Open Town HallBike Helmets and Bagels at the Bike BarnGrad YogaCBDDREMINDER: Great Big Grad ReviewGSA Announcements:1. Being a Professor at a Teaching University Cal State East Bay Info Session

Cal State East Bay Info Session2. Careers in Publishing Panel Discussion

careers in publishin3. From Margin to Center Open Town Hall

From Margin to Center Town Hall Final.jpg4. Bike Helmets and Bagels at the Bike Barn

Bike-Bagel-letter5. Grad Yoga

GSA Yoga - Spring 20176. CBDD

Come get your fill of coffee, tea, donuts, bagels, fruit, and make your own oatmeal this Friday 8:30-10:30am South Silo!CBDD_Logo_Red_Gravity7. REMINDER: Great Big Grad Review

GBGR Flyer FINAL-3.jpg

Recipe: Watercress Dumpling

I love watercress. Whenever I see them at the market, I buy them. They have a refined fresh grassy taste thats reminiscent of spring not as fibery as nettles nor as dull as spinach.

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There are many ways of cooking watercress. They can simply be sautéed or throw into salads. They are fine additions to a traditional Chinese pork bone soup to balance out the grease. But my favorite use of this ingredient is to make dumplings.

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Now coming from the north, we grew up making dumplings every week that we do not really need a recipe. Most of the time, we throw in the ingredients that we believe works well with each other in hopes that together they enhance the flavor. So Ive played with this recipe several times and finally settled on the version that I love, both the flavor and the texture.

Watercress Dumpling

Click here for instructions on how to prepare the dough (frozen packaged ones are available at most Asian markets), wrap the dumplings, cook them and suggestion for my favorite dipping sauce.

For the Filling:

1.5 lb watercress1/2 lb ground pork1 teaspoon finely minced ginger1 tablespoon finely chopped green onion1 egg1 teaspoons sesame oil1 tablespoon olive oil

Instructions (for the filling):

Blanch the watercress in boiling water for two minutes.When cooled, squeeze out as much water as possible (reserve the liquid) and finely chop the watercress in small even pieces.Heat the olive oil until it just starts to smoke.Turn off the heat and set aside to cool for 15 minutes.Add ground pork and stir to combine with oilAdd minced ginger, green onion and saltUse the hand to massage the meat to ensure even distribution.Add the liquid reserved in step 2, if the pork is lean and hard to combine (optional).Add watercress, egg and sesame oil.Mix well.

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There you have it. Simple and delicious.

Note: Watercress is low in Saturated Fat and Cholesterol. It is a good source of Protein, Folate, Pantothenic Acid and Copper, and a very good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Vitamin K, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Manganese.

Goodbye New York

It seems to be that nowadays a great majority of us have all lived in New York at some time or another. Most of us have had that moment where we have stepped off the aircraft in what appeared was the city of dreams with the hopes of being discovered, making something of ourselves, or perhaps having the idea to start new and be accepted. But as much as it may be hard to believe, there are some of us that are born into New York City the way others are born into blue eyes, good-looks, or a muscular body. Contrary to the preconceived notion of growing up in brown-stones on the Upper East Side, with nannies and help, caretakers and maids, and sous-chefs galore, many of us grew up normal in the City, or grew up what we would fathom to be normal to any child growing up, at such a young age.And I could go on and tell you about the somewhat secret parties in hidden nightclubs and downstairs basements in gritty Chinatown areas where garbage lined the streets, and the red of the traffic lights seemed to glow much brighter than any other color, at any hour of the day. Where downtown the rules and laws of the rest of the City did not seem to quite apply like they did everywhere else, or somehow went nonchalantly unnoticed or un-enforced. The pop-up warehouse parties we attended in seedy Brooklyn areas that at that time were dangerous and unsafe, and now are a haven for artists, writers, hipsters, and trust-fund babies alike who sip overpriced lattes out of styrofoam cups in extravagant coffee shops and in the same ironic breath complain about how no one else is taking global warming seriously. Meanwhile in these dilapidated warehouses we pretended to love these kinds of parties for the alternative music, cheap alcohol, or ample space to rave, but rather secretly the fact that we were much too young to be let into anywhere else, and this was all we knew. Or all the nights of the weekend when we ventured into Astoria endlessly parading down Steinway Street into hookah shop after shop until one owner would not ID us, as we were much too young, inflate the prices quite a bit more, but undoubtedly serve us. Because that is the thing about New York; people are always looking to make extra money. And although like the rest we lived paycheck to paycheck whatever that means at such a young age, we all never really felt entirely broke. Because even if you did you always knew that were ample opportunities to pick up some extra cash out in the City like dancing at a nightclub on weekends, or being a shot-boy/girl, or going on dates with random men or women you met on sites like seekingarrangement for either a meal you could not afford, fast-cash, or hopefully both. You have had the idea of selling your prescriptions to your friends for some quick extra cash, because God knows we are all on something if we live in New York. All the while you listened to your rich friends argue about how all they were actually entitled to in life was a prescription drug problem, and their trust-fund.

The winters were always insufferably long, and the amount of sunlight you had to accomplish your daily tasks, or stop you from slipping into a spiraling depression, shortened with each breath you took. At some point the sleet would turn into snow that would turn into rain which always resulted in those sidewalk area corners you always think are the black pavement of the street, when in reality it is the leftover sludge that will keep you wet for an entire day. You aim carefully to avoid these dangerous corners, yet it always seems as you are destined for doom at one point or another.

We grew up in contempt together through those long harsh winters, just as the saying goes misery loves company. We waited months and months for the summer to come and when it did we complained once again together that it was far too overwhelmingly hot and humid, and we would welcome the cold weather back, which we did not realize how in just a few more months we would yearn for the musky summer air back. I remember a blizzard in April of ‘96, the month in which my sister was born, as I sat in the hospital staring out the omniscient windows watching the city shut down little by little, waiting for my sister to enter the world. I remember a summer heat blackout in the early 2000s in which we kids gathered all the candles from each others homes who lived on the block, and roasted marshmallows over the candles while sitting on a friends stoop, while our parents frantically panicked of the uncertainty of ever having our electric back, and all of our food spoiling. In which all the parents of the block gathered all their meat from their freezers together and grilled it to prevent spoilage and had a huge feast as we kids all jumped in a neighbors pool to cool off. I remember the endless summers where our street was closed just for a day, to have what felt like Disney out on our front yard. A day full of feasting, rides, games, clowns, fun-houses, and fire-hydrants open for splashing around. Otherwise known as the legendary block-party.

I remember the day we were all sitting in school, much like the day before or some amount of days after and the world froze. Where other teachers, and school-aides, and the like flocked into our classroom because from our floor-to-ceiling windows New Yorks original antiquated public brick schools once boasted, you could see the flames, smoke, and the horror; of something happening just five miles away. I will never forget how the silence had never sounded so deafening, and such an absence of words could be so descriptive. The look of disbelief, grief, and ambiguity that filled these adults faces that had knownon that cold September day, some of the boys and girls sitting beside me had just lost a parent.

Amidst the rest of the world that had frozen in shock and glanced at this gruesome spectacle from the comfort of their television screens at home, we evacuated our beloved school faster and quieter than any drill we had ever practiced before; the steps of us children mid-step bustling down old metal stairs, and tears screaming down my classmates faces, which made it all too loud when it was all too quiet. Days would go by after that with more and more children returning to school, dressing in all black, displaying weary looks and benigndepression.

We grew up to field trips we thought were normal for years like visiting the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, the Queens Zoo, the Holocaust Museum in Manhattan, pumpkin-picking and countless hay-rides at the Queens Zoo in autumn, senior trips at ranches Upstate, drug-free dances, and high school prom. No mentions of homecomings or all those serious high school sports, as space always remained a distant luxury to us. I remember a friend that I had made in college from Pennsylvania one day asking me about my homecoming, to which I did not know how to respond as I had never heard of such an event before. Instead we filled up our school schedules with activities that did not require fields and tracks but rather stages, labs, and rooms that could be transformed into creative spaces. Our schools were tall and high, having your second class on the first floor, and your third class on the fifth; and if you were lucky enough you never had to step foot in the grimy basements which were usually full of cold tile lining the walls from floor to ceiling, and somehow boasted a general scent of mold.

We grew up being told there was a world of endless possibility out there, and being in the City we believed every word of it. We believed social class or race was hardly a thing, and anyone could move around freely. Social norms, race, color, or wealth did not apply here like in other cities, and everyone was free to be whom they wanted. I remember the countless weekends of driving to the island to go to the beach to cool off, which seemed all so far yet close when you are that young. I remember the infinite drives to the house Upstate in the Catskills on those long summer weekends to escape the city and breathe the smell of freshly cut grass and pollen, which are smells I had never smelled before in the garbage encrusted streets of the City. Things seemed to be simpler then. I remember my favorite park Upstate in my town of Livingston Manor, situated in front of a gorgeous colonial-style brick school, bell tower and all, nestled along a river. It looked like an image out of a postcard, and I will never lose that sight of the river glistening on a bright hot summer day. I can still feel the burning of my hands on the sun-soaked metal monkey bars, I waited all year to climb. Or the slide that would never pass any safety regulation or inspection nowadays, I begged my parents to let me go down once more, a few dozen more times. And the endless shopping at the only store up there called Aimes, which has long ceased to exist. And I remember in autumn going to a mini golf place not so far away from our town in which we played mini-golf inside a castle, and painted the letters of names in bright paint and glitter.

When I was a bit older there was a cornucopia of Sunday brunches in which my friends and I gathered in the slightly dodgy area at the time of Alphabet City, for endless mimosas, Spanish-style omelettes, and spicy Habanero shots all for twenty or so dollars each; all the while presumably everyone else in the country outside of the City was attending church and repenting for their sins. I remember the days of staying out all day Sunday reminiscing and gossiping over Bloody Mary’s and Mimosas, with no real ambition or drive, or rather any actual finite plans set for the Monday to follow.And I remember the weeks where we went out every night of the week to our favorite parties at our favorite clubs and knew everyone there, but went more to be seen and see rather than anything else.

And what I will not miss is the yellow-brown snow-slush that seemed to line the streets just moments after the actual white snow fell. Or the abundance of people constantly lining up for things, that do not even require lines. Or the bundling of layers upon layers to brave the cold. Or the fifth floor walk ups my friends on the Lower East Side boasted despite the lack of connection to a subway, purely as some obnoxious status symbol.

For I know now that for twenty-four years I have given the City my all, and it has tried ever so dearly to return the gratitude. I know that I will always remain in love with New York the way you always secretly remain in love with your first love somewhere hidden in the depth of your heart. For it is impossible for most who have migrated to the City to truly grasp and understand the city in its entirety, but for those of you that have been lucky enough to have the City share its deepest darkest secrets with you, I am sure you understand exactly what I am talking about. For if anyone asks me upon my travels where I am from, I will always smile happily and say New York City.

Alouettes' first exhibition game could be career-defining for Deandre Reaves

LENNOXVILLE — There was a brief moment, before he was about to enter his senior season at Marshall University, Deandre Reaves contemplated quitting football, concentrating instead on his education.

Then he quickly realized he could continue that after completing his career.

I ended up making the right decision, he said.

And how.

The diminutive 5-foot-9, 185-pound wide-receiver was the 2015 Conference USA special teams player of the year. He was a first-team all-conference kick returner, a second-team punt-return all-star, the teams most valuable player and the Herds offensive MVP. That season, he also caught a career-high 56 passes for 705 yards, scoring four touchdowns, helping Marshall following the exit of slotback Tommy Shuler.

And now the 25-year-old is attempting to stick with the Alouettes out of training camp following his release by the San Diego (now Los Angeles) Chargers last September. Reaves survived the opening week of training camp, but realizes Thursdays exhibition game at Toronto could ultimately dictate his Canadian Football League future.

Itll probably be the most important game of my career, he said following Monday mornings practice at Bishops University. This is going to be my first opportunity to show what I can do with the ball in my hands.

Theres no doubt Reaves departed Marshall with some impressive credentials. He set a school single-game record in kick-return yards, with 221. He also holds school records for career kickoff return yards (2,548) and average (27.7 yards) on 92 returns. He scored three touchdowns.

Undrafted, Reaves had offers from San Diego and Cincinnati, ultimately deciding on the Chargers. He made it to the final cut before being released.

He and former Buffalo Bill T.J. Graham were recruited to bring more explosive playmaking options to the Als offence, according to general manager Kavis Reed.

Hes explosive with game-changing speed. And hes versatile, Reed said. Hes an accomplished returner. Hes in the playmaker class and can project to be an elite playmaker with some time.

While the Als, predictably, have a plethora of receivers at camp, and it might be difficult for Reaves to dislodge one of the veterans, he could ultimately make it as a backup to returner Stefan Logan. The Als certainly require an option should Logan get injured.

Through more than a week of camp, the one thing about Reaves that has jumped out to head coach Jacques Chapdelaine is the players speed. But like many rookies Reaves, at times, has struggled with the Als complex playbook.

As Reaves explained, due to the motion in the CFL, plays are more complex and he has more to remember. Some players will be in motion before the balls snapped while others are not. Its a lot to comprehend.

He has impressed us as a returner, Chapdelaine said. Hes got some good skills as a receiver. But perhaps coming out of college, where the system wasnt as complex, the learning curve has been steeper.

Having said that, hes got some things you just cant coach. Speed is one of them. Were hoping things fall into place for him. Were willing to be patient.

Although he attended Marshall, the same school as former Als quarterback Rakeem Cato, Reaves said he never spoke to him about coming to the CFL. Instead, he had conversations with former British Columbia linebacker Alex Bazzie, now in the NFL.

Youre thinking theres all that room. I can just go out there and run, Reaves said. But these defensive guys are athletic too. Its harder than it looks. But its a fun game.

Reaves is uncertain how much hell play against the Argonauts. But when hes on the field, he knows he must get into the right spots, be in the quarterbacks line of vision and, once he gets the ball, make something happen.

I have this opportunity now. Lets take full advantage of it, said Reaves, who has a degree in business marketing. My senior year led me to where I am now.

Im happy with my first week. I just have to keep going at it, studying the playbook. Just keep showing I can make plays when my numbers called and make something happen.

Notes — Defensive-back Ryan Phillips, who joined the Als as a free-agent from the Lions, is one of many players suffering from hamstring injuries. Not only will Phillips not play against Toronto, he went to Montreal on Monday for an MRI. Chapdelaine believes the injurys not serious.

Canadian receivers Samuel Giguère and Alex Charette also are suffering from the same lower-body injury and wont play. Giguères injury has opened the door for non-import Devon Bailey, who joined the Als as a free agent from Edmonton.

Import receiver Tavon Gatlin has been released while import defensive-tackle Daniel Awoleke will make his debut on Tuesday. He played collegiately for the University of South Florida.

The Als could have an interest in non-import defensive-back Mikael Charland, who was released on Monday by Ottawa. The 25-year-old, who played collegiately at Concordia, is 6-foot-4 and 216 pounds. He was selected 16th overall by the Redblacks in 2016, but a groin injury limited him to three games as a rookie.

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