Aug 22, 2014
Alright friends, it’s time to come clean. I’ve dabbled in this art before.
Every once in a while, I get the urge to do this. But then I don’t because, well, it’s a crazy thing to do.
And that’s true, but the problem is, the urge won’t go away.
So. I’m surrendering.
You may have noticed I’ve been posting on my blog this week a bit more than usual. You may have even noticed, if you were paying very close attention, that I announced the birth and rebirth of two different weekly series.
Are we tracking yet? If not, no worries, I’m almost never tracking.
Here’s the secret sauce: I’ve decided to give blogging every day a go-round one more time.
But this is a little bit different. In the past, I haven’t held myself to any kind of strict stick-to-it-ness. In an effort to be gentle on myself (a noble cause), I’ve been inconsistent with you. It’s funny. Because the tagline of my very first blog was “My inconsistent journey to be consistent.” Old habits, you know?
I want to do this differently. I am telling you right now that until the end of the year, I WILL be posting a new piece every Monday through Friday. Rain or shine or girl drama be damned. We’re doing this.
And every Friday, I will link you up. They won’t all be blog posts, I’ll share whatever has grabbed me that week. And if something grabs you, or if you write a piece that you feel needs to be shared, I would love to hear about it.
Art That Hooked My Imagination This Week
My husband, Jermaine, and I are currently working our way through the West Wing series. Last night we finished the first episode of Season Three, which aired less than a month after 9/11. As the credits rolled, Buffalo Springfield sang out, There’s something happening here, what it is ain’t exactly clear. There’s a man with a gun over there. Tellin’ me I’ve got to beware.” I couldn’t help but get choked up. My heart and prayers are tongue tied in Ferguson right now. Sometimes, the only salve is a song.
In happier news, as I type this, Tara Gentile is teaching an incredible class on how to Market, Launch, and Sell Your Next Big Thing on CreativeLive. If you are a creative entrepreneur, I would highly recommend checking this out. You can watch now and tomorrow for free and/or you can buy all three days of the class (it started yesterday) for $99 or so to have to watch anytime. Also! Brigitte Lyons will be teaching a portion of the class tomorrow afternoon (12:45pm PST). I am so smitten with her PR savvy. Both of these women are whip-smart. If you have the chance check this out, doooo it.
If you’ve ever taken one my classes where I share resources of sheer awesomeness, then you’ve probably heard of Jonathan Fields and the Good Life Project. He’s a wicked insightful interviewer and the depth of these episodes always astounds me. If you’d like to check them out, but you’re not sure where to start, Chris Guillebeau (another ah-mazing creative entrepreneur with quiet power) curated a list of the Top 7 Interviews from GLP. I haven’t watched all seven, but I can attest to the ones featuring Charles Duhigg, Lissa Rankin, Seth Godin, and Brené Brown. Also, Chris has a new book coming out on September 9th (which is also my kid’s birthday!) called The Happiness of Pursuit. I’m reading it now and it is gooooood. I signed up to receive an early copy and help him with the launch. So, you’ll probably hearing more about that from me later. He’s kind of amazing. The empire he built blows me away. If you want a sneak peek into his genius, I highly recommend his free ebook, 279 Days to Overnight Success. Brilliant stuff.
If you’re a writer looking for top notch resources, I have two newsletters that are my absolute favorites. Hope Clark of FundForWriters sends one every Friday afternoon that’s chock full of contests, grants, publications, and even publishers. Not to mention several thought-provoking guest essays. I look forward to it every week.
And then there’s Alexandra Franzen. In style and brand, she’s thousand miles away from Hope, but in content and gold, they are so aligned. I believe she sends her newsletter whenever the muse strikes with a new illumination. I am always grateful for its presence in my inbox. She’s a copywriter with moxy for days. And she blesses her subscribers with all kinds of writerly tips and hints and templates for that thing you need to write (but have no idea how the hell to format it).
Last of all, Taylor Swift released her latest single earlier this week. There’s a bit of controversy surrounding the video, and I get that, but overall, I’m a fan of the spirit of what she was trying to do. And I couldn’t not fall in love with the song. In fact, this post would have been finished three hours ago if I hadn’t stopped to Shake It Off a half a dozen times. Good on you, Ms. Swift. Brava.
As For Me and My Own Art
My friend Elora and I launched round two of the Rebel Diaries this week. It’s a class for people who have something important they want to share with the world, but they’re struggling to figure out how to do that in a way that honors their art and integrity and at the same time doesn’t needlessly offend or alienate other people. We know these kinds of things are hard and scary. We’ve been through it. We’re going through right now. There’s a lot at stake, but we’ve become pretty good at the art of saying what we need to say in the kindest, most genuine way possible. And so we created this class to help others do the same. We often joke “middle fingers taut.” And we mean it. With so much love. If you’re reading all this and nodding along emphatically, you can register here.
This is my favorite and most read post of the week, What Would Jon Stewart Say? I am delighted, honestly, to have more than one post at all. I was also pretty daggone proud of this bit of my memoir and the connections made in it between sex and ambition, though it may have been one of the least read. It’s very close to my heart.
I had two home cooked Pinterest wins this week. This homemade Cheeseburger Helper recipe from Good Deal Mama (Pssst: the secret is the cornstarch) and these no-bake energy bites by Smashed Peas and Carrots (I have no time for coconut flakes. I added chia seeds instead). It’s kind of cheating, because I’ve made both successfully before. But still. They’re yum like whoa.
And finally, the Hot Shot Instagram from the last week:
Take heart, there is beauty in the construction phase.
So much love.
Ohhh! PS. In addition to my daily posts, starting this Sunday I’ll be sending out my own regular newsletter. I have wrestled a LOT about the content of this beast. And last week, I realized that I wanted it to embody Voice. And ultimately become a platform both for people whose voices we need to hear, but also practical and inspiring resources for how to use your voice to be the change in the world. It’s not fully fleshed itself out yet in my brain. And though I’m hoping it does soon, that’s okay. For now, I will simply show up every Sunday, write my heart out, and trust that it will bless my subscribers. If you’re interested in getting in on that, sign up here. Bonus, you’ll get a free book I wrote when you do.
Happiest of Fridays!
Aug 21, 2014
Do you ever decide to take a project on and then you get started and realize you’re in way over your head?
I do. All. The. Time.
In fact, that exact situation sounds vaguely familiar right now.
But, there’s no turning back. Er, well, that’s not entirely true. I could most certainly turn back. Or at the very least stop typing. I’m excited about this, though.
Call me crazy. I’ll probably answer.
As it turns out, I’m blogging through the Bible.
I started this project almost exactly five years ago. It’s been a wild half a decade, and I’ve changed a lot, as people do. But also, in surprising ways, I’m very similar to the idealistic 28-year-old I was back then.
I’d been married for just over a year and we’d been attending Cedar Ridge for a little less than that. I was just stepping into some of my more progressive views, working it out with fear and trembling. I found myself in a serious wrestling match with the Word of God and I needed an outlet to get through it.
I had read about David Plotz, a self-proclaimed lapsed Jew who had decided to write a book working his way through the Hebrew Bible. I wasn’t the editor of Slate, but it seemed like a pretty good idea. I’m an ambitious sort and I like to get things over with. I got myself The Bible in 90 Days to use as a format to structure my posts.
That’s where I made my first big mistake.
I somehow equated that format with the time length of my project. I determined not only to read the Bible through in 90 days, but also to blog about it in that timeframe.
Really, it’s shocking that I didn’t finish.
I made it to day 16, which honestly, is pretty daggone good. It took me a year to get that far. That was around the time Jermaine decided to enlist. I started seminary and began to question this incredible book even more. Between the time it took to develop a post and my burgeoning doubts, I just couldn’t do it.
I think eventually I came to believe that meant I wouldn’t ever finish. It wasn’t gnawing away at me. Up until last week, I’d completely forgotten that I started.
Enter Timehop. It’s an app. You download it on your phone and every day it invites you to take a stroll down memory lane—what you were doing on this day last year. Three years ago. Five years ago.
So, for the past two weeks, I’ve had this daily reminder of project I’d creatively dubbed Brandy’s Bible Blog. I started reading these posts, ready to cringe at what I assumed would be ignorance and crappy writing.
But I had to admit, it wasn’t half bad.
I’ve sort of stayed pretty far away from the Bible these past several years. I think I needed a break. I needed permission not to read. My personal battles with the Creator of the Universe are closely linked to the fear that there’s a pissed-off deity somewhere up there and he is seething with anger toward me. To let that lie go, I needed to put the Bible down for a while. I needed that to be okay.
And that’s what I did. And it was more than okay. My faith and my life has flourished. I feel ready now. A desire, even. To go back into those hard and beautiful pages and discuss and work through what I find. A few dear friends come to mind who have also wrestled with God in a similar way.
I started this project for a couple of reasons. The biggest one was just to read it all through. That’s still a charging force.
I’ve done a lot of work on my blog to position myself as a safe space for both Christians and non-Christians. I feel like there might be something there that makes this project extra important. I’m not an expert, but I tend to have thoughts.
Perhaps, as I work through the Bible, with boldness and humility, you might find comfort. And, maybe, at the same time, you might feel safe enough to step of your comfort zones.
So, here’s the basic plot of this project.
I’m stretching it waaay out. I’m going to post once a week. Every Thursday. The part of me that likes all the crazy things is seriously rebelling against this plan. It’ll take me almost two years to finish.
But it feels good in my gut. I don’t have the time in my life right now to stop everything for 90 days. Plus, I’m hoping you’ll come along with me. I‘m hoping that if the Bible has been a sticky subject for you, this might be a beautiful re-introduction.
I’ve heard people say they read the Bible all the way through and they don’t even remember chunks of it. Here’s hoping I remember chunks.
Because I’ve already written the first 16 posts and I’m doing this once a week, I won’t actually have to do any real work until the end of the year. But I will be updating the original pieces to make them as relevant and interesting as I possibly can to you right now.
Next week, we’ll officially get started. If you want to play along, read Genesis 1:1 – Genesis 16: 16 by Thursday August 28th 2014. Or, you’re welcome to simply show back up here and read my scribbly thought bubbles.
Either way, I’m excited! From the bottom of my heart, thank you for reading my blog. I think this is going to be fun.
If you’d like to sign up and get the weekly updates of these Thursday posts and all the rest (that’s one email a week), you can do that here. Plus, I wrote book and when you sign up, you’ll get that, too.
Aug 20, 2014
The thing is, I’m not very funny.
But when The Daily Show goes on break, the world falls apart. Right now, a town in Missouri is boiling over. There’s an oh-captain-my-captain-sized hole in all our hearts. And people all over the United States are giving money to dump buckets of ice on their heads.
Obvs, SOMEBODY has got to try to bring the jokes.
I may not be a hilarious and wildly successful Jewish man in my 50s. I may not even be the dashing but goofy British guy who steps in when Jon makes those movies he makes. But I am named after a delicious adult beverage. And damn it, that means something.
In life, no matter how inadequate I am, and no matter how little I know about what is actually going on, when there’s a void to fill, I step up! So, let’s just pretend I have a good show for you tonight, ladies and gentleman.
So, here we go. My feeble attempt to shine my funny little light on that moment in history so aptly titled Shark Week.
First, of course, we can’t not talk about #Ferguson. I have to say, this is not an ideal way to start. Because not only am I not a funny person, but this is not fucking funny.
Instead, I’ll just make fun of Matt Walsh.
Last week, an overwhelmingly insensitive article he wrote went viral as people expressed their outrage that he chose that week to dub himself an expert on mental health. The good news is, that was not only jerk move he made. In an act of astonishing arrogance, there was also this gem.
With witty and creative priggishness, Matt explains his strategy for not jumping to conclusions about Mike Brown’s innocence or that all police are evil:
“I like to call my strategy “don’t be a reckless, ignorant, hysterical instigator who immediately diagnoses a situation based on whatever overarching political narrative you subscribe to, and then reaffirms those assumptions by quickly ingesting an assortment of Tweets and half-cocked headlines from notoriously ideological news outlets,” or the DBRIHIWIDSBWOPNYSTRTAQIATHCHFNINO method, for short.”
I have a similar approach. It’s far too complicated to write all the way out, but I call it the DONTBEAJERKMANYOURPRIVILEGEISSHOWING method, for short.
He goes on to say that it’s “childish and absurd to hate all the police” and that “Only one thing causes looting: the greed and selfishness of the people doing the looting.” I’m grateful to him for not jumping to conclusions.
This is the point, right before the commercial break, and not every time, but when the gravity of the story and wrongness of the people covering it reaches that tenuous sweet spot, Jon begins his illustrious rant. I’m not going to pretend I have the chops a rant like that requires, but I have to say something.
Alright. Deep breath, here goes:
Here’s the thing, Matt, I don’t hate the police. I’ve never personally been in a situation where I felt unsafe because of the presence of a police officer. But I know people who have. And most of those people aren’t white. This isn’t an overarching political narrative. It’s racism. And when post after post pops up on my Facebook feed proclaiming “Stop hating the police!”, I can’t help but think that it’s all a grand distraction from the real problem. A boy died at the hands of a police officer. It shouldn’t have happened and it’s not the first time. And so I feel that we’ve all earned the right to be a little wary of the police force. And if officers want us to trust them, the way to do it is not by shaming us into it. The way to do it is with honesty and humility and mercy. Over and over again. Until we can’t not trust them. Because when someone is placed in a position of power, they choose how to wield it. If there are droves of people scared of police officers, it’s the police who are doing something wrong.
At this point, we’d normally break for commercial. I imagine Jon takes another deep breath and a swig of ice cold water. He shakes off the rant and prepares to welcome his latest incredible guest.
I would do that. Right now, I’m sipping sparkly water (because bubbles) and I shook it off. But, this is a blog post and I don’t have an amazing guest. Although my friend Tiffany is coming over later to watch Newsroom and she does have that wow factor. Two related points:
If I was able to secure a famous guest, I would invite Jon Stewart and it would be wonderful and awkward. And I wouldn’t try to be funny. Because, clearly, that’s his job.
Also, perched precariously at the top of my bucket list sits the desire to one day be a guest myself on the The Daily Show. So if you happen to have any contacts . . .
Alas, I don’t know anyone sitting at home waiting to be interviewed for the Brandied version of The Daily Show (which, from now on we’ll call The Drunk Daily). In lieu of an interview, I will instead yield the platform to a few voices in this conversation that deserve the biggest, widest stage you could ever imagine. Since I can’t give them that, my blog will have to do.
First, I am honored to share shalom with the gorgeous Osheta Moore. I raise my hands, too, friend.
Sarah Bessey’s post has little more fire than usual. And I agree, we should be fired up. I also agree, damn it, this is NOT about looting.
Sarah introduced me to Stacia. And Stacia is overwhelmingly gifted as a writer and activist. All of her posts on Ferguson are powerful, but the sidewalks one really got me in the gut.
Jack Mirkinson wrote an important piece for the Huffington Post on Why What Happened to Reporters in Ferguson Matters So Much.
And finally, my friend Morgan wrote this piece yesterday. She beautifully articulates a lot of the hurt and the hope in my heart right now.
I can’t make it all okay. It pisses me off because it could have been my husband. If things don’t change, it could be my son in a couple years. But it probably won’t ever be me and I’m sobbing as I type this (I told you I’m not funny) because it’s just not fair. I don’t want to be privileged. I don’t want to raise my kids in a world where racism still exists.
But I am. And I do. And since all I’ve got is my blog and Jon Stewart’s good looks, I’ll use what I have. So here it is, your Moment of Zen:
Photo Credit: Michael Nagle of the NY Times
Who am I?
When I was in kindergarten, I used to get in trouble for daydreaming. Now I make my living as a professional daydreamer. Some people say I glow. Other people question the sanity of those people. But I do what I can. I’m spunky and awkward, often at the same time. I take myself far too seriously. And, I’m really glad you’re here. Seriously. I live for this stuff. If you decide to stick around, there’s a free book in it for you.
Aug 19, 2014
2014 made her way to my house. I knew before she arrived what word she had for me.
Voice landed with power and splagchnon. I was all at once exhilarated and grasping for breath. But I knew right away what it meant. Voice is not about me. And it’s 100% completely mine.
I’ve always been drawn to John the Baptist, with his wild and his wilderness. His powerful, humble voice. There are a couple of phrases from the Bible that whisper to me sometimes. They are so often from that prophet in the desert.
He must increase and I must decrease.
He was talking about Jesus.
And then Jesus said that whenever you give a cup of water to ones who just don’t matter, you quench his thirst. So.
They must increase and I must decrease.
I’ve heard the phrase “a voice for the voiceless” often. I always thought there was something there for me. But, it wasn’t quite right. The other day, I realized what the dissonance was.
It’s not up to me to be a voice for them. They have their own damn voice!
They’re not voiceless because they can’t speak. They’re voiceless because nobody’s listening.
It’s not my job to help them find their voice. It’s my job to give them a platform and then get the hell out of the way.
Here’s the thing. Here’s the elephant that broke the stage.
To do that, I NEED A PLATFORM. You can’t climb down the ladder if you haven’t climbed up yet.
Therein lies the sweet spot.
Before John baptized Jesus, he had to walk out into the wilderness. He had to invite other people to come and listen to his words. He had to build his platform in the sand.
At the beginning of 2014, I told Elora that I knew Voice was about me owning mine as a prophet, using my intuitive gifts to help other people. I wasn’t sure what that meant, exactly. But I knew this year would teach me.
I’ve spent a lot of time hunching that ambition is okay. That figuring out trends is important. That passion is compatible with hustling. Every day I get a little closer to articulating exactly why I feel that way.
There are certain things you have to do to successfully climb a ladder. First, you must have the desire to get moving. And, very practically, you have to figure out what shoes to wear and how far up the next rung is. But, most important, you have to convince yourself that you are worthy to climb in the first place. Because there are a lot of other people who won’t or can’t make the trek. If you are called to climb, you have to answer, one way or another. That’s the only sweet spot you really need. The initial step that says, I’m going to do this.
The secret is that the “Who am I?” questions never stop. You have to keep picking up. You have to take one more step forward every day.
You have to increase before you can decrease.
This piece was originally crafted as part of the curriculum for The Rebel Diaries, an e-course to help you write the words you desperately need to write.
Aug 18, 2014
October 3rd, 2013
I’m not a rebel by nature.
I’m a peacemaker.
Or, more accurately, a people pleaser.
I didn’t get into this to make waves. I did it because it’s the only thing I can do. Seriously. I’m a perpetual job quitter. This is the only one I’ve ever stuck with. I guess it’s pretty clear I’m not in it for the money. Because I’ve barely made a dime in the last two years. But perhaps I am in it for the fame. Maybe I’m writing this entire book to justify the fact that since I was in high school, I’ve wanted to be famous. I’m starting to come to terms with the fact that being famous may not be a part of my story (yet), but wanting it is. I want it bad.
Does that make me desperate? Self-centered? A horrible mom? Maybe. Probably not. Maybe it just makes me human. And maybe that is what I was supposed to be all along.
This morning I sat down and tried to work out in my morning pages how this book is different from The War of Art and Daring Greatly. Oh God, now I’m wondering how it’s different from A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. But I know it is. Also, I just ate an entire blueberry scone and I didn’t enjoy it. Needed to get that off my chest.
The War of Art is about resistance. Daring Greatly is about vulnerability. A Million Miles is about writing a good story with your life. This is a book about God. Second chances I didn’t deserve. And ambition.
I tried really hard to not include God. Sometimes I don’t even know if I’m a Christian anymore. Maybe that shouldn’t be so important to me, but it is. I don’t believe in the great commission. Oh God, I said it.
I don’t believe in it as the majority of Christians I’ve interacted with seem to view it. I’ve heard it said, “The good news is better than that”. That’s where I sit. I don’t think God cares so much about the details of what you believe. I do think it’s important to believe in something. I don’t think that means the truth is relative. I think there is a right answer. I just think it’s too damn big for us know right now, and there are better ways to spend our time. That’s where desire comes in.
It’s kind of like sex, I think.
God gave us sex. And it was good. It can be abused and misused, but, at its best, it’s ridiculously beautiful magic. It’s spiritual. It’s intimate. And it all stems from our desire. God didn’t say “Do this thing that hurts and populate the earth”. The hurt comes—the pain comes, but it’s not our first experience. Our first experience is desire. And pleasure. And God knew, I’m sure, that this beautiful magical thing was going to get abused. God knew people were going to take advantage of the system. But I think the gift and the pleasure were more important.
So it is with ambition.