I Want Better Representation 

 

I want better representation not much for me because I am an adult. 

I want better representation for the kids coming behind me.

I want better representation for the world I have to step into.

I want better representation for the skin color I happen to be.

I want better representation so that when I travel to Italy, Spain,

or Belgium people don't ask me to rap or snap my fingers.

I want better representation because I am my brother's keeper.

I want better representation because my race does more than smoke, dance, and talk on money phones.

I want better representation because my husband is a smart and thoughtful human being

and I rarely see him represented in the culture.

I want better representation because I believe that progress can be delayed if we are all not on the same page.

 RAP GROUP MIGOS 

RAP GROUP MIGOS 

 

The Table Was Set For A Conversation On Race

 PHOTOGRAPH BY BROOKE LARK 

PHOTOGRAPH BY BROOKE LARK 

This past Monday I had the privilege to sit around a table with five other brave participants and discuss race and ethnicity in America. Dallas Dinner Table, an organization founded in 1999, holds annual dinners to bring together people who may not have found each other otherwise. We answered questions about where attitudes, perspectives, and understandings of race come from and how they limit or define our reality? The goal of the two and half hour gathering, in simpler terms, is to learn to drop assumptions. We should judge people on the merit of their character and not because they are white, woman, Mexican, male, rich, or poor. 

But can we? 

This question came to mind for me several times during the night. Can we drop all of our assumptions when seeing and watching people from a distance? Our forefathers, who were cave dwellers, made assumptions to move quickly, assess a situation in order not to starve, or worse, be killed. 

 Dallas Dinner Table Dallas Group 

Dallas Dinner Table Dallas Group 

I believe we make assumptions to shortcut real thinking; to bypass connection and relationship, making assumptions is more accessible and less convoluted. I think it speeds up the process in the short term and limits us in the long run because we miss out on engaging people and experiences. It’s people and our communication with them that give us our greatest lessons in life. But we only have so many hours in the day. We only have so many interactions that don’t involve our family and friends, so many hours to process our news feeds, our place in the world, and how we are perceived. Here in America, we live in an individualistic culture, where a majority of the time self-interest is placed above “the other.”

We make assumptions out of necessity. 

However, meetings like the Dallas Dinner Table allow us to step outside of our beliefs about other people for a moment. These occurrences enable us to see a different point of view and maybe even empathize if we are willing to go deep. These moments create space for us to be bigger than ourselves. 

 

Why You Must Be Unreasonable

 
 PHOTOGRAPH BY TATYANA DOBERA  

PHOTOGRAPH BY TATYANA DOBERA  

To have anything in this life you must be unreasonable, like really unreasonable, like Elon Musk investing-his-Paypal-millions-into-Telsa-and-at-one-point-depending-on-friends-for-financial-support unreasonable.

Reasonable thinking says that living a life outside of the norm is ridiculous, it's risky, it's insane. But if you've dreamed of having anything outside of what you have today then that dream is only possible when you have imagination mixed with unreasonable thinking. 

I don't write these ra-ra-ra post for my health. I write them because I want you to understand that you must escape the confines of your reality in order to see all that life has to offer you. Yes, it's hard. Yes, everything for social media to binge-watching on Netflix is meant to distract you. Yes, finding your own way is frustrating and at times seems impossible when you are inundated with outright misleading advertisements; but at some point, you must choose.

Choose what you ask? Choose YOU. At some point, you are going to have to lay all those excuses at the feet of no-one-cares and go after what you want. At some point, it needs to be "do or die," "by any means necessary," "come what may." At some point, you will have to understand that no matter how comfortable you are and no matter how good life looks today, if you have delayed your dreams then you have done yourself a disservice and your children need someone to look up too, not a robot or a mannequin dressed in the latest trends.

You are not a mannequin, you are a human. You have been placed on this earth for a reason and I guarantee it wasn't so that you can drive the hottest cars and brag about your vacations.

Let's find out what it was.

Let's find out why you were made. Can you imagine the journey you would have to go on to do so? Can you imagine the people you would meet? The places you would go? The expansion of your mind in ways you never imagined? Whoa! I am feeling the tingles just thinking about it.

Who would you become at the end of this journey? I bet a person who loves harder, who feels deeper, whose sight is magnificent. It's almost as if you became a superhero and gained powers beyond your imagining. At the end of your life, you would leave nothing on the table and nothing in the gas tank. You would die on empty.

It starts with being a little unreasonable. 

Here are a few books that keep me thinking unreasonably: 
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes
The Motivation Manifesto by Brendon Burchard
Art of Work Jeff Goins 

My latest book dives further into this topic. Read a sample for free here.

The Startling Power of Fear

 
 PHOTOGRAPHED BY WILLIAM STITT

PHOTOGRAPHED BY WILLIAM STITT

 
While I was fearing it, it came,
But came with less of fear,
Because that fearing it so long
Had almost made it dear.
There is a fitting a dismay,
A fitting a despair.
’T is harder knowing it is due,
Than knowing it is here.
The trying on the utmost,
The morning it is new,
Is terribler than wearing it
A whole existence through.
— Emily Dickerson, 1830-1886

Let's face it. The end could come tomorrow. Yes, the real end. The mind-numbing, debilitating, I-knew-this-day-would-come end and you and I would accept it just as we accept the rising sun. 

What would happen if you made your worse fears a possibility today and embraced them? You would swallow every ounce of that fear and sleep like a baby tonight because you have come to grips with that fear as a possible reality and now there is nothing else to do but go to sleep. 

A few years ago, after accepting a job in New York, I had a lot of unknown fear feelings. I had never lived in the another state before, I had never lead a team of people before, I had never managed before, and I was leaving a man I just met (who turned out to be my husband) uncertain if the new relationship would survive. These facts created an uneasy feeling of "oh, crap" what the heck am I doing? But in the midst of the downward spiral, I took a few breaths and remembered this was of my choosing. I was choosing to become a person who enjoyed the unknown, challenges, and the mystery that unfolds when you just roll with life's plan. 

 PHOTOGRAPH BY ROB BYE

PHOTOGRAPH BY ROB BYE

Why? Because it all works out in the end. 

The fear reminded me of the risk I was taking and how choosing to live could work out in my favor. The fear prepared me for the unknown; it coaxed me to be alert, aware of my new surrounds, and purposeful in my dealings. Today, I look back on my experience in New York with pride, everything did not go as expected but I had the time of my life.

The startling power of fear is the awareness it brings to a situation, your muscles tighten, throat dries, fingers tingle, heart speeds up, and you remember what it feels like to be alive. 

Facebook: The Creators Rebel and You and I Are Caught in The Middle

 
anti social club

As if the time suck wasn't enough, Facebook's minions are turning on the mother host. It's like one of those bad sci-fi movies. The offsprings, smelling blood in the water, or in Facebook's case, an opportunity to capitalize, are now speaking out. We heard from Sean Parker and now Chamath Palihapitiya, the companies former vice president of user growth, about the human complexity that is before us if we choose to be humans that frequent social networking sites. 

For starters, Chamath's comments were harsh, but that's what makes them excellent reading material and a viral sensation. Yes, we know that Facebook is "eroding the core foundations of how people behave" and "ripping apart the social fabric." We know that we are "programmed," and the fact that Chamath even goes as far to mention that he does not let his kids "use that s**t" is just further confirmation of how individually addicted we are. 

Be honest, if you heard this news somewhere online, you thought about shutting it all down and starting a new life for two seconds, then reconsidered the idea because your ex would miss this weeks bar crawl photos or because that new outfit deserves "likes" and comments. We stay because we are deeply attached, and no amount of telling us how bad it is will deter us. Take that Mr. Chamath. 

The truth is the addiction does not stop with our social media feed, the dopamine fix from the attention has created a world in itself, and like any addict, our improvement will come at rock bottom.

The cliche rings true, Rome was not built in a day, and neither are our Facebook profiles. Overtime and with future revelations like Chamath, I hope that we make new decisions about how we operate online. It's not about should we use these sites that connect us to the world but how we use them. 

I'm still figuring it out myself. 

Watch Chamath Palihapitiya's full conversation at Stanford Business School

Five Newsletters That Will Change Your Mind About The World

You should subscribe today.

The world is changing, and if you want to change with it, you will want to stay informed. Here are my favorite free newsletters subscriptions for daily and weekly inspiration and information.

LitHub

LitHub offers a mountain of essays, interviews, and pieces on writing. LitHub's Daily newsletter is easy to read and links to some of the best work around the internet. One of my favorite articles, "25 Works of Poetry and Fiction for Anger and Action."

New York Times

I receive daily notifications on breaking news first thing in the morning from the New York Times, which can be a good or bad thing. The hidden jewel in this subscription is that you can specify what else you would like to receive from their content portfolio. My specifications are set to receive updates from the world of art, fashion, and books, along with the news.

Brain Pickings

Brain Pickings, curated by Maria Popova is where I go to peek inside the brains of writers and artist living today and those from the past. Maria is a mastermind curator of information. She works solo and spends hours bringing together the best reading. Her newsletter is mind-changing in what she offers - varied perspective.

Austin Kleon

The creative guru behind Steal Like An Artist. Austin's newspaper black-out work led to a bestselling book, great tips on creativity, fans everywhere, and a witty calendar that hangs on my wall as I type this. His weekly newsletter makes sense if you want to build a creative life. 

 

Poem-a-day

The world can be beautiful, and poetry makes it so. A Poem-a-day can build tranquility into your daily information consumption. I am new to this subscription and was pleasantly surprised this morning by the work of Pulitzer Prize-nominated poet Rodney Jones on Nixon's Watergate Scandal. Rodney built into the framework of this piece a story about an experience he had as a child. 

The Freedom to Pursue Purpose of Life

 PHOTO BY DAVIDSON LUNA

PHOTO BY DAVIDSON LUNA

“As soon as you rise above mere survival, the question of meaning and purpose becomes of paramount importance in your life.” -- Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth

I use this quote in the new book I'm writing but came here to discuss the implications of this statement for 1.3 billion people who live in extreme poverty in the world today. DoSomething.org states on their website in an article titled 11 Facts About Global Poverty, "nearly 1/2 of the world’s population — more than 3 billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day. More than 1.3 billion live in extreme poverty — less than $1.25 a day." The article also states, "805 million people worldwide do not have enough food to eat."

Do these individuals have room to pursue purpose of life? Do they have enough distance from their problems to see past human needs? 

No, based on Tolle's statement, they do not. 

Is this always the truth? We have all heard stories of people coming from absolutely nothing to make something out of themselves. The statement then hinges on the personal meaning of survival, some needing more than others.

My last observation is our belief here in America, our faith in capitalism. The individual always needs something more, new, or better. If we, Americans provided with so much opportunity, living on more than $2.50 a day, are always in pursuit of this kind of survival can we ever rise above merely "surviving" to find meaning and purpose?

What if you gave brave living a try?

 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. 

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...

Screen Shot 2017-09-26 at 11.03.48 AM.png

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? 

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? 

 

 

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.