The Dangers of Living Brave

PHOTO CREDIT: Kinga Cichewicz

PHOTO CREDIT: Kinga Cichewicz

I never thought about the dangers of bravery until I heard Kyle Steed, artist, and muralist, give a presentation about his work and the resistance one of his murals received. When telling people to live brave, I ask them to leave where they are, to change, and you and I know that change can be hard. It requires work, perseverance, humility,  and self-discipline. It also challenges current notions of identity, ways of thinking and firmly held beliefs. That is what Kyle's artwork encountered painted on a public space in Fort Worth.

Should then the artist, in my case, the writer, or the singer not ask? Not ask you and I, the receiver, to change, to be more, to leave established comfort zones? Of course not. Asking introduces new ways of thinking, and it produces ideas and innovation. It also makes us a more inclusive society. I'm sure Jonathan Haidt is shaking his head because, yes, sometimes "diversity can be divisive," but we should still try to move closer to communal oneness (click here to listen to Jonathan's interview with Krista Tippett on On Being)

Asking my readers and those who show up to my book tour to be brave is asking them to be who they know they can be. At least that was the case in the story I heard from an older gentleman today named Lonzo. I'm sure Alonzo had no idea what he was getting into when he sat at the small circular table positioned directly behind my book signing set up. But what he received was two millennials, my husband and I, who love to engage strangers and encourage those who have turned their backs on their dreams for whatever reasons. Lonzo wants to be a singer. He has had the dream since he was young, and now as an old man, he sings in his Baptist Church's choir. But Lonzo wants more. He wants to create a life and provide for his wife with his vision. Lonzo merely is too "afraid" to go for it. After an hour of corralling, encouraging, and strategizing with Alonzo about the potential technology, especially Youtube held for him, he smiled and thanked us for the uplifting conversation. Who knows, we may have given Lonzo exactly when he needed.

The dangers of living brave are this, today you occupy a space in the world but you, like Alonzo, want more. More cannot be found in your comfort zone; it cannot be found in the habits of your today, it cannot be achieved through good intentions, it takes action. It takes an artist like Kyle, writers, poets, filmmakers, and teachers to challenge, ask, and reveal the flaws and potential. But you must be willing to look at that which disturbs, that which calls out, that which stirs you.

Engage that which disturbs. 

Two dates remaining on the #FindYourBraveBK book tour. Click here for more information. 

Principal For A Day

homemade cards from the students of william Anderson Elementary school 

homemade cards from the students of william Anderson Elementary school 

Last Thursday I had the opportunity to be principal for a day at William Anderson Elementary School. It was a fun and informative day filled with hugs from students, meetings with teachers, and the chance to read a book to a class on financial responsibility titled, Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday

The staff at Williams is an organized team. While there, I told a group of teachers that they appeared "very detailed." The ladies seemed shocked at the compliment. In meetings I attended, the principal worked alongside teachers, questioned test performance and discussed areas of improvement. There was a process to the way things worked. 

The students of William Anderson were kind as well. Diago, a Hispanic boy in the English class I sat in, gave me a Skittle that he and his table received for answering a question correctly. India, a small talkative black girl, who I met in the school's library told me about her family and that she enjoyed reading. The librarian called her back, but she wanted to talk some more and gave hugs before finally returning to the group. 

Here are a few photos from the day. 

YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR THOUGHTS

A lot was said the past few days about taking a knee or standing for the national anthem. But it wasn't until Dallas local hero and news reporter, Dale Hansen and Jerry Jones, owner of "America's Team" made their final statements did the tone of my social feed start to change, or should I say disappear. 

The discourse on equality and justice is a test for us all on how we see ourselves and our position in the world. If you are publicly voicing your opinions based on your one-sided twitter timeline or taking points from your Facebook feed you are in big trouble. 

Why? Because as Jerry Jones told us and showed us,"this is his stage" and he does what he wants. Jones flipped the script so unashamedly by taking a knee that the supporters of standing for the flag were singing a new tune by breakfast. You are responsible for your thoughts and deleting your latest post because the owner of a football team took a different stance does not clean you from your choice words just one day before. 

Image SB Nation 

Image SB Nation 

Being responsible for your thoughts means studying your beliefs before joining a public debate. It means understanding why you feel the way you do and how it impacts your community and your followers. 

Being responsible means when you feel you've made a mistake deleting your argument is not the answer. Responsibility means you own up to your previous thought and why you argued it so loud, explaining to those you have demeaned that you have new information and you are open to a different discussion.

Being responsible means that you make lemons out of lemonade by using the president's divisive language as a stepping stone to discussion and deeper dialogue. 

I heard this phrase a while back from those who are involved in social work, "you want to be on the right side of history." Today, I understand what that means. I challenge you to leave behind your party beliefs, the beliefs of your parents and think like an informed citizen on the issues impacting the nation today. 

And Remember...

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A Year of Brave

I'm excited about the upcoming anniversary tour for my second book The Beginner's Guide to Finding Your Brave. In partnership with Half Price Books Store, the tour kicks off this Saturday!

click here for tour dates

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Behind the Scenes 

Planning this tour was confirmation of everything I learned from my time in the sales world: follow up, follow up, follow up. Also remember to speak to the decision maker, be excited about your product, and did I mention to follow up.  My days and nights filled with content creation and I'm back on coffee. Sheesh! 

This tour has also made me realize that I have an awesome community of people who support the work. I believe whether you are an artist, solo- entrepreneur, or a stay-at-home mother, the message of living brave resonates because it's relevant and needed in todays world. 

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For me, the definition of what it means to live brave has evolved over the years. Today, it means to love. Can I abolish my fear and be brave enough to love people deeper? Am I willing to do the hard things and have the hard conversations to inspire change in others? 

You can't give what you don't have. Finding my brave meant taking the stage, literally and figuratively, in my life to release the past. It means choosing to forgive rather than confront friends who turned their back on me, and it means dying to self daily to give my husband the love and support he needs. 

Tour Expectations  

I have none. It's the best way to proceed forward. If I ask God for anything, it will be that he uses me for his glorification and that the people I meet leave better than they came. It means less of me and more of him.

I will leave you with this, choose to live brave because it is your birthright. Choose bravery because the opposite of it is fear and you are so much better than that. I will see you on the road. 

xx earlina 

5 Things I Learned From My Harper Collins Rejection Letter

The Notorious Michael Jordan Cry Face

The Notorious Michael Jordan Cry Face

This piece was originally posted January 26, 2017

I've been working on a memoir for the past couple of years. This year, when asked, I finally gathered up enough courage to submit it to a major player in the publishing industry. The result, a prime learning experience on understanding how the industry works. 

Below is the response I received last week from a senior acquisitions editor with Harper Collins. For continuity and discretion I have removed all names and association from this post. The editors response to my manuscript is listed in bold and italicized.  

1    Platform - Earlina who?

"It is not fair to ask of others what you are not willing to do yourself." - Eleanor Roosevelt

"First of all I must tell you that we will not be able to help you with a publishing contract. Our sales goals are so high that it’s nearly impossible to sign anyone unless they have a pretty large platform. It seems as though you have a start to that with your social media, so good for you, but you’ll need to keep working on it because with hundreds of thousands of books published each year, to have one stand above the fray and be purchased is a tough thing to make happen."


2   The Publishing Business

"A publisher puts out an advance, spends $$ to edit, produce, warehouse, and sell a book to retailers only to have those retailers send it back if there are no sales. So we have to be assured there is a market before we publish. A significant market that would sell 30-50,000 copies in the first year. There are for sure smaller publishing houses that don’t have those same hurdles but we’re just not one of them." 

3    The Craft

"So my recommendation to you is to keep writing and perfect your craft, then secure an agent who can help you shop the book to publishing houses. But keep one thing in mind. A consumer is never so self-focused as when they are buying something—like a book. It has to relate to them, speak to them, help them. In fact you need to consider who your audience is and keep them in mind—actually writing to them. Not just the traditional psychographic description but truly put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself why they would want to read your story? What’s in it for them? Because not only does it need to be compelling, it has to connect with them, and if not purely entertain them, then help them in some way. If you’re writing in the self-help category that’s a whole lot easier than a memoir which sometimes necessitates that they know you and want to know more of your story. This is again why a platform, even to include speaking engagements, is so important."


4    Perseverance – How bad do you want it?  

"I’m sorry it’s a “no” from us but as I heard just yesterday from one of our authors—he said when he was pitching his first book he took every “no” as a reminder that he was one step closer to his “yes.” 

Noooooo.....tear *rips clothing, run and hide* but ain't nobody got time for that! The only proper response to an email like this is: 

"Thank you for the amazing insight into the publishing industry. I will take your recommendations and begin again." 

5    Resources

"If you’d like some ideas on how to find an agent as well as other book publishing helps I would suggest two different blogs—michaelhyatt.com (he used to be the CEO of Thomas Nelson) and Janefriedman.com. Jane has also been in publishing many years. Their websites have lots of valuable information and lists for new writers."

If you are considering building your brand in any industry, have you considered your platform? What is your means for reaching and connecting with your audience? Have you considered rejection and how you will respond? 

#LiveBrave 

4 Things Work Experience Taught Me About Business and Life

 
image Teresa Kluge 

image Teresa Kluge 

You never know when your next opportunity will appear. What I've learned is to never underestimate the time spent on any job, even if you love what you do or cannot wait for the next career move. The important thing is to be present and respond to each situation as if you are taking away a major nugget from that experience.

1. The experience gained is vital to your future

I began my sports career as most do – an internship. But upper management could not have guessed that my long-term goal was to be the first minority woman to own a basketball team. That goal powered me through cold call sessions, sales training and foot canvassing in the Texas heat.

You’ve invested several years as a low-level service manager and now it is time to take hold of the dreams bubbling inside of you. Use your past as a springboard into a new opportunity. Even if the new break is unrelated you still have a ton of information at your advantage.  Connect the dots. Challenge what you think you know about how these two professions correlate, use what you need, leave the rest.

You don’t want to shortchange yourself, disqualify your experience, or take for granted the knowledge you have stored in your head. After working hard and learning everything about the process of selling people on sports, I hit $100,000 in new ticket sales and landed the senior director position the following year.

“The only source of knowledge is experience.” – Albert Einstein

2. Experience is useful for determining your market place value

How do you know you are worth sixteen dollars an hour or twenty-three? Your pay will probably be based on what you were paid in your last job and what you can negotiate. Invariably, you will not be able to determine that value on your own without past experience to at least point you in the right direction.

“You get what you can negotiate”. I learned this early in my professional career.  Before I took the full-time role with the basketball team I did my research. I learned that each year the National Basketball Association took a trip to three developing countries, and I had always wanted to go to Africa. In a post-internship interview with the team’s owner I expressed my desire to tag along. In 2011, I went on my first Basketball Without Borders trip to Johannesburg, South Africa. I was granted access because of hard work and my dedication to the organization.

Your negotiation strength lies on your track record of hard work and talent. Without experience how can you negotiate things like: pay, benefits, bonuses, commissions, and extras?

3. You must know when to leave

I am a believer of not forcing the inevitable. If you have dreams to start a business, write a book, or launch your photography business staying at your accounting job for another eight years is delaying the foreseeable. Know when you have learned all you need to take confident strides in the direction of your dreams.  The same belief applies to relationships and business partnerships.  

I released my first book in 2014, two years after my first job in sports, and a few months into a director position for a team in New York. I resigned that same year and have followed my appetite to write ever since, making a few stops along the way.

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” – Seneca

4. Fail forward

You have heard this before but just because you have it does not make this statement less true. I will repeat it for those who, like me, believe that hearing things over confirms the truth that they hold. There are no bad breaks, failures, or mistakes. Everything that has happened to your personally and professionally happened for a reason. 

Today, you may not understand that experience or know why, but challenge your perception of the situation. Challenge your emotions. Ask yourself, after the tears and fits, could something be learned here? If there is, use it. If there is not, reconstruct your thoughts around the situation and realize new thoughts that strengthen your position.

I originally wrote this piece for Addicted2Success. 

Will You Engage The Present?

photo courtesy of modishjack

photo courtesy of modishjack

If you close your eyes what do you see? Open them. Now, close them again only this time squeeze them close. Open them. Close them. Now, open. What you are seeing is not a dream. You are witnessing America fall apart at the seams under the guise of fear, power and perceived ownership. 

Fear of the future, of the unknown, of self. 

Power in favor of those that have it, desire it, and use it for dubious ends. 

Ownership of a country that was murderously stolen from a group of people and worked by individuals perceived as disposable. 

It's no wonder that with your eyes closed tight as possible you still see it; you see a history not yet reconciled and a battle for a better future. 

You could close your eyes, or you could open them, take a deep breath and prepare yourself for what needs to be done.

You are apart of the solution. Will you engage the present? 

Why “Not Caring” Is Hard

photo credit: Cristian Newman

photo credit: Cristian Newman

If you read through the comments section on Amazon for Mark Manson’s breakout hit, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k you will see that many of us spend too much time caring about what other people think of us.

We can’t help it.

“Caring too much” is in our DNA and Mark wittily explains why you should give less f**s and the power you gain in doing so.

But why do we care so much about what other people think about our lives anyway?

They, of course, are not and have not lived our experiences, shared our pain, or walked where we have been. Why do we care so much what other people think of us especially when the people we use to gauge our progress are just trying to get on with life, same as us?

I once heard a friend attribute her social media addiction to gauging whether her life has ended up better off than her exes and friends. Here again, the cycle of trying not to care but caring too much continues because we fail to realize that the human experience is a common experience.

No problem, situation, or shortfall is new under the sun, the Good Book says.

Manson argues that it's not that we should not care at all, that's called apathy, but that we should care or give f***s about the right things: family, our aspirations, community, love, our well-being.

Do we care too much out of boredom or the same reason we watch reality television -- for the drama and spectacle of it all? Do we care too much out of habit or because high school conditioned us for the daily practice?

Do we care too much about other people's opinions of us out of fear or because we have forgotten how to hear our voice? The voice that says we are unique in every way. The voice that whispers when we remember to find our breath.

I believe we are afraid to care less because we want to know if others can see the deepest fears we have about ourselves.

What if you owned your fears? Adressed them all? Lined them up one-by-one and laid waste to them like they do in karate movies. 

You would care less.  

What To Do When You Are Afraid

photo credit: Elizabeth Lies

photo credit: Elizabeth Lies

Hide. 

This answer satisfied the younger me. The young girl who shared a bedroom for most her life because being born a triplet there was never quite enough space. Even after I got my own room, my sisters and I used to sleep in the doorway of our bedrooms with the bathroom light on. We were scared of whatever we imagined existed in the dark when we were alone. 

But when you have no doorway to sleep in and no bathroom light to keep on what do you do when you are afraid?

Your natural tendency may be to find the nearest exit, immerse your feelings in doubt and worry, or to place blame. But these solutions are temporary escapes, and your fears meet you at the door when you are ready to come home. Just as I had to learn to sleep in the dark alone if I wanted to keep my own room you must stare down your fear if you’re ever going to move past it. 

Remember, there were never any monsters. The boogie man under your bed was not real. You and I may have avoided stepping on the carpet in the dark or peering under the bed, but today we know all of it was in our heads. It was apart of our imaginations, which means you have the power to make the scary thing disappear. All I had to do was make sleeping alone a habit, look into to the dark and see nothing. 

As a result, I got to keep my own room, and it became a place to call my own. 

That is what we gain when we face our fears: a place to call home. Fear tries to crowd your mind, limit your dreams, and determine your destiny but if you can conquer it, you gain the world. You acquire a bold future. Have the hard conversation, tell that person you love them, fight for your marriage, and champion your dreams. 

When you are afraid to look towards the light, lean into the fear that seeks to consume you and stand firm.

5 Things I Learned from Going Vegan Cold Turkey 

 

I told myself two years ago that when I turned thirty, I would go vegan. My 30th birthday came and went with no sign of changing my eating habits.  That is until I started to have some issues. I tried everything from probiotics, apple cider vinegar flushes, stomach massages, castor oil packs, and lots of yoga to relieve bloating, stomach pain, and that full feeling in my gut, nothing worked.

On a Sunday night, after a Netflix binge session, my husband and I stumbled on What the Health, a film by documentarian Kip Anderson.

The film focused on the meat and dairy industry, the effects these food products have on our body, women's health, and the structure of our digestion system. The documentary convincingly, through research, data, and expert input linked the cause to our most prominent ailments to eating meat and consuming dairy products.

The next day we went vegan cold turkey. 

Are you thinking about going vegan or just want to know how it went keep reading? 

Decide.
As I mentioned earlier, the decision to go vegan has been on my mind for the past couple of years. Pain and discomfort mixed with information and being fed up solidify the choice. I heard from a nutritionist and a few long time vegans that ingesting meat and dairy could be the reason for my gut situation. 

It was time, and I knew it. Either I was going to do something about my ailments or continue to "manage" my symptoms. 

 Discomfort + being fed up + information = decision. 

Lost in Vegan Space? Know Your Shortcuts. 

When going vegan, there is tons of information on the internets and in books regarding a vegan diet. Start simple. Don't do like we did and abandon all the dairy and meat products in your refrigerator. Instead, start by gradually eliminating meat and dairy from your meals. 

For breakfast, I used to have scrambled egg whites and a yogurt. Now it's all about protein powders and nuts. Think about a vegan protein powder mixed with your favorite frozen fruits and almond milk, delicious. When I have the time to cook in the morning, I make steel cut oats and add some fresh berries. 

For lunch, beans, rice, and a side salad is another vegan shortcut and easy meal that will leave you full. Don't forget the seasoning: onions, salt, pepper, bell peppers, Chayanne pepper, and garlic turns your bean dish into something magical. 

Find Your Vegan Resturants.

Dinner was the hardest meal to prepare for as a new vegan. For a majority of the time, my husband and I ate out unless I wanted to try a new recipe I pulled off Instagram or Pinterest. 

We used Yelp to find everything from vegan Mexican food to vegan desserts. I had no idea there were so many vegan restaurants in Dallas! Recently we learned about the North Texas Vegan Group and joined it. 

Our favorite vegan places to eat in Dallas is Spiral Diner, Dream Cafe for breakfast, Spiral Diner again for weekend brunch (their Tall Stack with non-hydrogenated butter - perfect!), Whole Foods for their black bean burger, veggie patties, and vegan hummus pizza (life changer). Oh, and Spiral Diner for chocolate chip cookies, ice cream, and pie. Yelp also helped us find a terrific vegan spot in Cleveland.  

 One meal. One day at a time. 

After thirty years of full-on food indoctrination, a love affair with meat and cheese, and an obsession with brownies, I realized I needed to take things slow.  I'm changing my habits and my relationship with food. To get through thirty days and possibly a life time, means to take each day, and each meal one day at a time. Each small victory won in favor of my overall health. 

On two occasions in the last thirty days, I ate something I was not aware contained dairy. I gave myself permission to slip up, but immediately made a mental note and promised not to make the same mistake twice. 

A new way forward. 
Overall, I feel great. The bloating and pain in my lower abdomen has disappeared and I lost six pounds. Each meal typically includes something green so I have not felt constipated. I feel lighter. An unexpected return, I feel in control. I've been able to find a solution to my problems and that's empowering. 

Today is vegan day 40 and counting.  

What is Women's Empowerment?

photo credit:  London Scout

photo credit:  London Scout

Is not wearing makeup women's empowerment? 

Is Oprah's checkbook women's empowerment?

Is Miley Cyrus's twerking women's empowerment?  

Is Ivanka Trump's position in the White House women's empowerment?

Is Kim K's embrace of her sexuality women's empowerment?

Photo Credit: Tim Gouw

Photo Credit: Tim Gouw

Is Maya Angelou's strong and passionate spoken word women's empowerment?

Is not shaving your legs women's empowerment?

Is power posing women's empowerment?

Is having children women's empowerment?

photo credit: Eunice Lituañas

photo credit: Eunice Lituañas

What is women's empowerment today and how should we define it? 

 

 

The Power of Believing It’s Already Done

photo credit: Edwin Andrade

photo credit: Edwin Andrade

My husband and I had an in-depth conversation over the weekend on the topic of manifestation, goals, and the belief that the things we want in our lives have already been accomplished. Portions of the idea are based on biblical principles, but also reflected in new age teachings like The Secret. I sought to take it a step further and combine The Secret (manifestation) way of thinking parallel to my belief that our lives are already worked out or predestined (biblical principle). 

In his usual fashion, my husband went to a power point presentation complete with graphs and a chart. He felt inclined to give full visual context to our discussion. 

THE QUESTION

My question, once we fully understand that our lives are predestined, how do we live like what we desire is already done? 

I believe we simply need faith or right believing. I also wanted to explore what action is required on our part to live out that belief. Meaning if it is already done, is there action, if any, required on my part? 

Again, how I clarify ‘it's already done’ thinking, you and I will sit in a chair with the full belief that the chair will hold us up. We sit down with no hesitation or view otherwise. ‘It's already done’ thinking says that the chair is stable, so in full faith, I sit. The action on my part is sitting; the outcome (the chair holding me) is already taken care of so my action is performed out of faith. 

THE REASONING


Cue the graphs and Starbucks analogy. 

In my husband's example, if my goal is a new job, a million bucks or a Starbucks coffee, my belief is that when I get to Starbucks, I will get what I need: coffee, Frap, etc. I have no doubt, full of faith that coffee will be available at the coffee shop. How I live my life, and the action that follows to achieve that goal is in line with my belief so what I need to is leave my bed, get dressed, brush my teeth, get in my car, walk into Starbucks and order. 

AN ANSWER

What I rediscovered in this analogy is the clarity, and the focus of our goals is essential to our belief that 'it is already done.' We must act in a manner in line with our thinking and by leaving out any step in the process voids the outcome. 

This is why our daily habits matter and why the small things matter. If I don’t leave my house, how will I get to Starbucks? If I don’t drive to the location how will I get what I need? If I don’t walk in and order I will never achieve the overall goal. 

The rub, if any step in the process is overlooked as a small or insignificant detail, I will not reach my end objective. I also think by leaving out any steps in the process questions your faith in achieving your goal. 

What I determined is that yes, we can manifest our destinies with the belief that the things we want and desire have already been worked out, in essence, they are already done. We, however, must act in a way that confirms our faith or belief in that end goal by doing the little and big things that put us on the path toward actualization. 

We must sit. 

What are your thoughts? 

How Not to Be Used

don't get used

I realize with this current administration how important and powerful it is to stay positive and do the work. If you are like me, you want so badly to join the talk, jokes, and rants against this president and his cabinet. I could post comments, long essays, and Twitter rants that would destroy him, at least in my mind. I could personally attack his children, wife, and upbringing. I could meme the heck out of him, but what would be the point to it all? What would I gain? What do I achieve by spending hours of my day fuming? 

There is a better way. 

You are the better way. I am the better way. Our goals, originality, and authenticity when we are playing to our strengths is the better way to combat this crazy time in history. 

The key is not to get used. 

I scribbled this short phrase on my wrist this morning as a reminder that the moment I start complaining about the president and the state of the world I’m done. I'm playing myself in every sense of the word. I am focusing my energy in the wrong direction. 

Today, you and I are forced to reckon with ourselves. We are forced to look in the mirror and own up to the fact that the state of the world is a distraction and an excuse to put our work off until things get better. The truth is that you are the better. You and I are what turn this thing around. This horror movie can’t last forever so we need to prepare ourselves for the ride back up. 

The best way not to get used is by not forgetting your mission. Remember why you started and count your hard work as something. It can be easy to say “what’s the point to all this hard work” when the Kardashians are getting rich off their backsides, but again what is the point in that? You have something to say, so keep saying it until people take notice. Keep speaking your truth until your message is so refined and your voice is so loud that people can’t help but take notice. How can light on a hill not be seen? 

Don’t get used. 

What I mean when I say “Black Lives Matter” 

There seems to be ongoing misunderstanding regarding this unfortunate commonly used phrase. 

I'm not sure what the misunderstanding is. 

After the verdict in the Philando Castile case, I shared this graphic with a comment on Instagram. 

For the most part, the post was well received with over 100 likes, but I received one comment stating, “red, yellow, black and white we are precious in Gods sight. ALL LIVES MATTER.” 

DELETE. 

I deleted the comment because I believe that one misguided comment usually encourages more. I will try not to make it a habit.

Yes, we are all precious in God's sight, however, here on earth, we are killing each other. 

I want to understand how someone can say “all lives matter” in the case of Philando Castile? Did you see the video? Did you read the officer's court testimony?

What am I missing? 

I will say this on record, when I or someone says “black lives matter” it does not mean all lives don’t matter and because you or anyone may take this personally, let me say this, it doesn't mean your life does not matter. YOU, you in all your glory of course matter! 

You matter. That is why you still have your life. You are alive to go out into the world and matter.  

Philando Castile's life matters as well. He, however, lost his life in the most outrageous of ways. His life, the life of Eric Garner, Sandra Bland and other lives taken so haphazardly, happen to be black and brown, so in these cases, as a reminder that we are unwilling to relive our shared history, BLACK LIVES MATTER. 

I say this in complete respect of how you spend your days and nights, the business of life and circumstance: educate yourself on the world around you. Educate yourself on the beliefs you hold close. Removed from your politics, you will see that there is a lot of crap going on. 

My Fear of Flying

flight to japan

Yes, I will admit it, I am one of those people who loves to travel but hates to fly. Why? No control, tin can flying, gravity. Any further explanation? 

The routine, stalk the flight stewardess up and down the aisles once the seat belt sign goes off for a gin and tonic or wine. I usually ask for two after being told that it's against policy. A confident smile and brief dialogue about how you are trying not to freak out during the flight is imperative to getting the second drink. 

The 13-hour flight to Japan was no exception, and my husband spared me no mercy by having us fly to Canada and then on to Japan, having to endure landing and takeoff twice. Sheesh! 

I call myself a Christian and am someone who practices meditation, I should be able to handle myself during an extended plane ride. Wrong! The big man knows my fears and I am sure he is ready with popcorn for the show and praise worship I put on before a flight. 

As the flight takes off, I start my breathing exercises, close my eyes, and concentrate on the positives things in my life. With my eyes closed all I can see is the plane crashing. Not vividly, just in the back of my thoughts after the fifth or sixth breath. It's the idea that when you try not to think of something you think of it anyways. 

Lord, I believe, help my unbelief. 

After some light turbulence, the plane lands fine and I am embarrassed because of the show I put on. 

The takeaway, do what scares the pants off you. Do it over and over again. 

 

 

 

Meet The Authors Day Event

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I am ready to meet strangers this weekend!  

It's my outlook going into an event like this and while I don't know what to expect or have any expectations for that matter, it's exciting to meet people I do not yet know. 

I've learned many things since I started writing six years ago. The biggest lesson, people tell the best stories. When I want to learn about the world I talk to people who are figuring out how to  maneuver through it.  Some stories are sad, raunchy, or funny but all relatable to the human experience.

If you are in the area, drop by my table and say hi. 

 

 

 

Environment, Creativity & Wabi-Sabi Wisdom by Andrea Jacques

wabi-sabi wisdom

Question: How can I design an environment that naturally moves me towards my goals? 

I'm reading Wabi-Sabi Wisdom by Andrea Jacques today. I downloaded the ebook last night and have been moving through chapters I feel have some great nuggets to chew on over the weekend. 

In a chapter titled To Eat or Not Eat? That is The Question, the author talks about the time she moved to Japan for five years and it changed not only her perspective but her pants size. Why? Environment. While in Japan, cheese and bread were expensive and her circle of friends were into healthy lifestyles, in turn her environment was ripe for a healthier lifestyle. The author felt that the environment could be incorporated anywhere if she invested time into designing a space that naturally moved her in the direction of her goals. 

Question, does my environment lend itself to me creating meaningful work? If yes, how? 

For me, my easel and writing pad are readily available in my living room. I rarely need to leave the house to create art and I feel most creative simply sitting down and working without distraction. I could do better job building a community around me of creative individuals but overall my environment is designed to move me towards my goals. 

What about you? 

The Japanese Paper Cut Artist

lime green windbreaker japan

He called himself the Paper Cut Artist. At least that's what was written on the sheet of laminated bluish construction paper he handed me. He spoke no English at first, just nodded and pointed to his name and his artwork around the small knick-knack shop. I liked the small man in the lime green windbreaker the moment I saw him. 

Judging by his work, it appeared he had been at the craft for more than thirty years. His cut out's appeared studied and intentional. The work of a man with a steady hand and a quiet mind. The artist is not throwing paint meticulously at a canvas. I imagine he wakes in the morning, boils water, adds a bag of Japanese Green Tea and heads to his desk to begin art making for the day. The desk is wooden with one shaky leg. Once he completes his work, he heads to the small shop located a few feet from Arashiyama, the Japanese Bamboo Forest, and waits for tourist.

The "Paper Cut Artist" does not sell his creations. My husband and I asked, "I do it for hobby," he murmured in broken English. 

A younger PAPER cut artist IN THe top left. 

A younger PAPER cut artist IN THe top left. 

paper cut out artist

Signs of Japan: Trump, Women's Rights, and How to Properly Use the Bathroom

One of the first things I noticed when my husband and I arrived in Tokyo, Japan were the street signs. They were everywhere, explaining everything. I was interested in how a city like Tokyo communicated its messages, honored traditions, and beliefs with foreigners like myself. 

Below are a few signs I found unique and worth sharing for obvious reasons. 

No Smoking While Walking

Smoke blow back is annoying and one thing was made clear in a city like Tokyo where 9.1 million people call home - respect. This sign prevents others from having to consume your toxic lifestyle. 

Ground sign in Tokyo

Ground sign in Tokyo

Trump

No elaborate caption necessary.  

Asakusa 

Asakusa 

Women Only

How do you prevent unwanted groping on public trains? Create a women's only car. Whether you find this to be a solution or a setback to women's rights, what is clear is something was done to address this growing danger in Japan. Read more about train groping in Japan here

Osaka Station 

Osaka Station 

How to use the restroom

Sometimes we all need a reminder. 

Osaka

Osaka

Don't Rush

New Yorkers take note. Running me down to catch the S train is mean: "Don't Rush Onto The Train." Also, the video circulating a couple years ago regarding people being shoved into a train is not completely accurate. We traveled to Japan during Golden Week,  a national holiday in which millions of people are off of work. Public transportation was busy, but not that busy. 

japan train station