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Fridays that are black

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“It’s not enough to defeat Jim Clark—do you hear me Jim?—we want you converted. We cannot win by hating our oppressors. We have to love them into changing.” +Rev. James Bevel in Selma, Alabama, one particularly charged night during the Civil Rights Movement when a funeral director arrived to inform the crowd that a group of black students had been demonstrating near DC. Police on horseback rode up, surrounded them, and began threatening and beating them at will.

This day, man.

I had mixed feelings about it before. I don’t abhor the shopping frenzy. Honestly, if I had someone to go with me and extra cash, I’d be right there with them. And some years I have. Although my favorite thing to do on Black Friday is get lost in thrift stores and craft shops. I make most of my gifts every year. Or, at least I try. I’m a procrastinator, though, so most years leave me in a stupor of panic the week before Christmas, running around tying bows on random objects and people.

I worked at KayBee Toys for a couple of years right out of high school and “Green Friday”, as my boss called it (because money), was always a fright to behold. One year, a woman, trying to get to the one rogue Furby we had left, knocked my district manager clean out.

It makes me uncomfortable. The unchecked madness. And it feels slightly more sinister this year. Because the death of Michael Brown and all that transpired behind closed courtroom doors afterward remind me how unsafe and convoluted the world can be.

It’s not like we didn’t know that. It’s not like it’s anything new. My husband is a black man. I am a white woman. We have weekly conversations about racism and sexism. We try to wrap our minds around the other side of the arguments. The ones that say that these things are no more. That men and women are equal and racism died 50 years ago.

We know it’s not true. I don’t believe you can take an honest look around this globe and come to a conclusion of real equality. But maybe that’s a good thing. It’s getting harder and harder to deny the mess.

I was 27 when I took one of those classes that changed my life. The sociology of race. Newly married, my husband lost his job that semester. As I processed this, my professor informed us that people with “black sounding names” were at a distinct disadvantage when it came to job applications and resumés. “Jermaine” or “Davonte” were much less likely to be called for an interview than “Joseph” or “Daniel.”

I relayed this information to my friends and family. I told them about structural and systemic racism, the kind with roots that dig deep into a country’s foundations. They were shocked. I told them about racism and real estate. How white people don’t like it when minorities move into the neighborhood because their property values go down. My in-laws recalled how when they were house shopping, their realtor had tried to steer them into the traditionally black neighborhoods.

I know protestors are out there today targeting retailers. I get that. I know the craziness of the past few months have brought to light what some of us have known for years. I know new people are joining the ranks and I think that’s fantastic.

I’ve seen posts on Facebook that make me cringe, though. Posts trying to shame or threaten people into fighting racism.

It hurts my heart because as much as I believe in the cause, I know that NO ONE was ever, ever shamed into love. It doesn’t work that way.

If you’re new to the knowledge that racism is a Thing, I welcome you into this honorable fight. I invite to explore the ways in which systemic racism has invaded your own heart. And I plead with you to learn and pray and not say anything until you know what to say.

If you’re already battle-worn, if Michael Brown’s death and the verdict that followed feel like a death blow and anger is the only feeling you can summon after the exhaustion, I invite you to rest. To know that there are others, fighting alongside you. We’ve got your back.

And if you love Black Friday, if you live for shopping, go friend. Enjoy yourself. Feel no guilt. Buy something excellent (if you’re shopping for me, gift certificates to get massages or books or coffee are always great, or that beautiful black and white striped planner from Whitney English, if it’s still available).

Like I’ve said a million times before and like I’ll keep saying until I can’t speak, it’s okay to be where you are. It’s okay to protest. It’s okay to shop. It’s okay to feel lost and hopeless. It’s even okay if you feel like I’m full of shite. That racism existing is a grand façade of some kind to keep white people down. Even that’s okay. I mean it. And I love you.

Because love is the only thing that’s real.

 Image source.

merawHi! I’m Brandy. I run this joint, and I’m so glad you’re here! I write here every weekday to share resources, love, and challenges for dreamers and creative healers. I’m aiming to hit that sweet spot between doing work you love, making the world a better place, and taking care of yourself in the process.

And if you really dig my style and my message, then you might want to consider signing up for my newsletter, Voice Lessons. Nearly every Sunday Tuesday Wednesday (still working on picking a day!*), I write a love letter to all the people on that list, sharing stuff I don’t share with the world. I’ve even been known to give away entire eCourses for free.

All the love, friend. Thank you for stopping by! If you’d like to know more about me, you can read all my gory details here. I hope this post filled your day with a little extra awesome. Take good care.

*Real talk: I’m struggling hardcore to consistently write a weekly newsletter. I’m telling you because I value transparency. And I think it’s important to keep my word (and admit it when I don’t). But I’m working on it! And I can promise you this: I won’t spam you. And when I finally do figure it out, it’s going to be amazing.

Overwhelmed by your to-do list? Read this.

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There is enough time in the day to get done the things you need to do. (A life coach told me this one time. It’s true! Changed my life.)

Also, whatever you’ve done today? It’s enough.

You’re to-do list does not define you.

You’ve got this.

You’re dreams matter. Your voice MATTERS.

People need that gift that only you can give. Even if you don’t know what it is yet.

Everything is figure-outable. And you will figure it out.

The turkey is going to taste great.

No one will care if the bathroom doesn’t get sparkling clean before the guests arrive. REALLY.

You are enough.

You are enough.

YOU are enough. Just as you are.

And so much more.

That injustice you’re fighting? You are making a dent. I swear it. Even if it doesn’t feel like it.

I see your strength. And I am so flipping inspired. You are going to change the world.

But it’s okay if sometimes you need to stop to cry or make yourself a sandwich.

That crazy dream? Listen to it. Trust your intuition. Your gut is good.

I am so bleeping thankful for you. I mean that. You’re doing good and holy work in the world.

Keep on going for it. Love you.

Love, me

merawHi! I’m Brandy. I run this joint, and I’m so glad you’re here! I write here every weekday to share resources, love, and challenges for dreamers and creative healers. I’m aiming to hit that sweet spot between doing work you love, making the world a better place, and taking care of yourself in the process.

And if you really dig my style and my message, then you might want to consider signing up for my newsletter, Voice Lessons. Nearly every Sunday Tuesday Wednesday (still working on picking a day!*), I write a love letter to all the people on that list, sharing stuff I don’t share with the world. I’ve even been known to give away entire eCourses for free.

All the love, friend. Thank you for stopping by! If you’d like to know more about me, you can read all my gory details here. I hope this post filled your day with a little extra awesome. Take good care.

*Real talk: I’m struggling hardcore to consistently write a weekly newsletter. I’m telling you because I value transparency. And I think it’s important to keep my word (and admit it when I don’t). But I’m working on it! And I can promise you this: I won’t spam you. And when I finally do figure it out, it’s going to be amazing.

I’m racist

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“The issue is not, ‘What must I do in order to secure my salvation?’ but rather, ‘What does God require of me in response to the needs of others?’ It is not, ‘How can I be virtuous?’ But ‘How can I participate in the struggle of the oppressed for a more just world?’ Otherwise our nonviolence is premised on self-justifying attempts to establish our own purity in the eyes of God, others, and ourselves, and that is nothing less than a satanic temptation to die with clean hands and a dirty heart.” +Walter Wink, Jesus and Nonviolence: A Third Way

I read this two years ago, preparing for a TED Talk audition that I did not get, and it sucker-punched me in the gut. When I offer spiritual teachings in this space, they’re usually of a softer nature. But some occasions call for a tougher variety of love.

Wink proposes that creative nonviolence in the face of oppression is best. But that creative nonviolence is not the same thing as passivity and in cases where it’s not possible, violence is far better than apathy.

I’m not much for violence. I don’t have the stomach for it. Though, I do understand why some of my friends and neighbors feel it’s necessary to riot right now. I’ve been thinking and meditating and stewing all day on what my job is here. After a lot of mulling, I feel like all I really have to offer is this painful confession.

I want you to know how racist and privileged I am. Yes, me. The wife of a black man. The mother of mixed children. How I struggle with my own personal prejudices. Because I’m human. And a product of my society.

I’m not condemning myself to hell. I honestly don’t think it was anything I did on purpose. I live in an unjust world. I desperately want to be a part of the solution. I don’t think I can do that until I can admit that I have been a part of the problem.

I do know this. Something odious has been wrenched out into the light. That’s good! It’s getting harder and harder to deny that racism is alive and thriving. It’s also uncomfortable, of course. And hard for all of us, each in our own way.

Let’s not waste time asking the wrong questions. Let’s find the small work that we, as individuals and communities, are called to do right now. Let’s do it with all our heart.

For me, it has to start by admitting these embarrassing struggles. Maybe for you, it’s something completely different. Or maybe it’s the same.

I do know that it’s probably something. Everyone has a job to do. Let’s get to work.

 

Image: NBC News

merawHi! I’m Brandy. I run this joint, and I’m so glad you’re here! I write here every weekday to share resources, love, and challenges for dreamers and creative healers. I’m aiming to hit that sweet spot between doing work you love, making the world a better place, and taking care of yourself in the process.

And if you really dig my style and my message, then you might want to consider signing up for my newsletter, Voice Lessons. Nearly every Sunday Tuesday Wednesday*, I write a love letter to all the people on that list, sharing stuff I don’t share with the world. I’ve even been known to give away entire eCourses for free.

All the love, friend. Thank you for stopping by! If you’d like to know more about me, you can read all my gory details here. I hope this post filled your day with a little extra awesome. Take good care.

*Real talk: I’m struggling hardcore to consistently write a weekly newsletter. I’m telling you because I value transparency. And I think it’s important to keep my word (and admit it when I don’t). But I’m working on it! And I can promise you this: I won’t spam you. And when I finally do figure it out, it’s going to be amazing.

Immortal Diamond :: The courage to act as if

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I told him it was time to remove the makeup. Immediately, my son was a puddle on the floor. Sobbing, he barely managed, “But I just wanted to be a kitty cat.”

I’m breaking chapter two into parts. At least two, maybe three. I got four or five pages in and realized the content was so deep, I had at least a blog post already. And the chapter is 30+ pages long. I stopped at page 36, for those of you following along at home.

The Four Major Splits

I am trying like mad to wrap my head around these concepts. No luck yet. My head is not long enough.

“There are four major splits from reality that we have all made in varying degrees to create our False Self:

1. We split from our shadow self and pretend to be our idealized self.

2. We split our mind from our body and soul and live in our minds.

3. We split life from death and try to live our life without any ‘death.’

4. We split ourselves from other selves and try to live apart, superior, and separate.”

 

It kind of reminds me of horcruxes. Except perhaps not quite as dire. The universal horcruxes we all make to survive.

Also, “splits” is a very strange word to say and write and look at over and over again. But I digress.

Rohr contends that each of us will have to—at some point in our lives or shortly after—overcome all of these fallacies. I’m working on a blog post about the secrets adults keep—the little white lies we tell to make it seem to the rest of the world that we have our shit together. Because that’s what adults are supposed to have. And we clearly don’t.

The idea here, I think, is that the fact that we don’t—that we’re all misfits and messes in own ways—is precisely the point. And, more than that, it’s okay.

But the world we live in says it’s not okay. So we hide our crap under the bed and hope like hell that we’re good enough liars to pull it off.

But let’s back up.

Define “Not Bad”

Rohr begins the chapter with the idea that “False” does NOT mean evil or crappy or even bad. Your False Self gets you going. It’s the gunshot at the beginning of the race. It’s the quiet boy who insists on being a purple kitty cat. It’s dressing up in a seriously cool Katniss costume. It’s temporary. It has to fade eventually, because it was not built to last.

It’s good for a time—necessary—but better if we don’t wait to scrub it off until the paint gets on our pillow and is smudged with deep purple berry juice from the frozen fruit your mom gave you as a treat before bedtime. Because if that’s the case, inevitably, you will have purple tinted eyebrows for days afterwards.

The Limitations of Therapy

I have considered and am still considering going back to school to get some kind of counseling degree. I’ve also thought about spiritual directing, but admittedly have sort of, at this point, written it off as a softer, better person’s job. I feel too enterprising to be a spiritual director. Who knows, perhaps that will change some day. And I feel like my message is a kind of an informal (and perhaps blasphemous (in the best way possible)) almagamation of life coaching and spiritual directing. Either way, I’m not saying never. Just not right now.

I find the conversation Rohr has on therapy vs. spiritual directing hard and beautiful and fascinating. This one line—

“We too often prefer accolades to actual achievement.”

WHEW. Preach.

Eventually, he lands here—

“Good therapy will allow you to cope with greater serenity and efficiency because you will learn how to do your human job well and with personal satisfaction. True spiritual direction can link that human job with your divine job without dismissing your human job in the least.”

He explains the good reasons the therapeutic world is afraid of religion.

“Many religious people use God talk far too glibly, too quickly, and naïvely, and each religious denomination has its own vocabulary, land mines, and agreed-on clichés. Thus, the professional world of psychology naturally mistrusts religion and backs away from any reference to the transcendent or the ‘transpersonal self’ or even a Higher Power. Any kind of God talk is still risky and embarrassing for many counseling departments, and they are rightly afraid of it.”

He adds—

“But I do not have to be. I often think I have the greatest job in the world as I try to put it all together.”

And to that, I add the boisterous exclamation—

ME TOO!

I have reached that searing turning point in the entrepreneurial life where I either have to start making an actual second income for my family OR, I’m going to have to find a “real job.” For now, I’m rejoicing in the fact that decision day is not today and I can write and love and be with my family and in my pajamas.

Once You Get It, You Won’t Need Me Anymore

That’s my business plan model. And what Rohr proposes true spiritual teachers offer. It’s a doozy. Because, like I said, I’ve reached a crossroads in my business. It’s the only way I know to be authentic. Maybe I’m naïve, but I refuse to stop believing that it’s possible to be well paid and do good work in the world.

He talks about Jesus.

“The real healing for the paralyzed man was the courage to act as if—and then his mind and body followed in step.”

With that, I’m going to walk it out.

merawHi! I’m Brandy. I run this joint, and I’m so glad you’re here! I write here every weekday to share resources, love, and challenges for dreamers and creative healers. I’m aiming to hit that sweet spot between doing work you love, making the world a better place, and taking care of yourself in the process.

And if you really dig my style and my message, then you might want to consider signing up for my newsletter, Voice Lessons. Nearly every Sunday Tuesday, I write a love letter to all the people on that list, sharing stuff I don’t share with the world. I’ve even been known to give away entire eCourses for free.

All the love, friend. Thank you for stopping by! If you’d like to know more about me, you can read all my gory details here. I hope this post filled your day with a little extra awesome. Take good care.

When you’re too tired to pray

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(Update: This piece was originally published on February 13th 2013. Brooklyn is doing wonderful. He had one more seizure after this one, about a month later. I learned a lot in the process—ultimately they stopped when I changed his diet, dropped all antibiotics, and added a daily probiotic. Unfortunately, I didn’t get that TED Talk. But I haven’t given up. And, that Lent eCourse? It became bigger than I ever dreamed. Running it for the third time in 2015.)

Exhausted. Brooklyn had a febrile seizure last night. His temp spiked. Again. The first one happened over Thanksgiving. He’s doing better, thank God. Before we left the hospital, he was waving and eating Cheerios like a champ. But x-rays revealed a spot of pneumonia. What? He had bronchitis over Christmas and an upper-respiratory infection for Thanksgiving. Poor little dude.

The first time, I was terrified. To watch your child go through something like that, it’s heartbreaking. But today, I’m just angry. Mad at the germs and the seizures and 104.7°F temperatures. And, honestly, I’m mad at the timing. There was already so much going on this week work-wise, but I was feeling really optimistic and it was all falling into place. Now, I’m completely overwhelmed and I just want my baby to be okay.

I’m too tired to pray. I’m trying to wrap my brain around the fact that I have one of the biggest auditions in my life in 30 hours. Yesterday was so strange. I woke up to the news that our tax money had arrived. I double launched this blog and my very first eCourse. I finalized the final draft of my TED audition and shared it with Jermaine, and began to feel really confident about content and where it could go. And on my run, I ran into the most picturesque sunset I’d ever seen.

And then, chaos. The convulsions. The ambulance. That horrible contraption used to take baby x-rays. On one hand, I was much more calm: on my knees, on the floor, whispering my love and presence as my baby seized beside me. Clearing his airway as Jermaine checked his breaths and listened to the instructions of the 911 operator. On the other hand, the entire evening was more scary than the first time, because it wasn’t the first time. My son didn’t have a febrile seizure. He has febrile seizures. According to the doctors, it’s now something he does.

And I know it could be so much worse. But that doesn’t make it better. I wish I had a tidy way to tie this up. We’ll carry on and trust God and love and all that. But it doesn’t work sometimes. It’s just messy right now. The beauty that exists doesn’t stop the mess from breaking hearts.

Please pray, friends. And, if you need specifics, these are the prayers I need today:

For Brooklyn’s health and safety. And no more seizures! Please God, let this be the last one. But, if it’s not the last one, please give me the intuition to know what he needs. And the strength and gentleness and dedication to keep the records of his medicine times and hold him and nurse him as much as he needs me.

For safe travel tonight (the audition is in DC).

For concentration to rock this TEDx Talk audition Thursday morning. That it may change minds and lives and help us to realize that we really can make the world a better place. That God will guide me in the what and how I need to say and stand and be. And to help me find the last killer example that I need.

For this crazy, scary, exciting Lent eCourse adventure. That the people who need it will sign up. That it will bless them. And will create community and connection and draw us closer to God and each other.

That I may be present and kind to my family through all of this.

Last week, Steven Pressfield said all breakthroughs come with a fever. God I hope he meant that literally.

merawHi! I’m Brandy. I run this joint, and I’m so glad you’re here. I write here every weekday to share resources, love, and challenges for spiritual entrepreneurs and creative healers. I’m aiming to hit that sweet spot between doing work you love, making the world a better place, and taking care of yourself in the process.

And if you really dig my style and my message, then you might want to consider signing up for my newsletter, Voice Lessons. Nearly every Sunday (although I’m taking a minor break while I sort out how best to offer my subscribers true value), I write a love letter to all the people on that list, sharing stuff I don’t share with the world. I’ve even been known to give away entire eCourses for free.

All the love, friend. Thank you for stopping by! If you’d like to know more about me, you can read all my gory details here. I hope this post filled your day with a little extra awesome. Take good care.

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