The Common Denominator In Your Relationships = You

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We are the COMMON DENOMINATOR in our lives and our life experiences. If those who are close to us, even some who aren’t, somehow collectively express similar thoughts about us (pertaining to our behavior, habits, or actions) that we reject with all of our cells, then maybe, just maybe its worth considering that they may be speaking an inkling of a truth. Getting defensive is natural, but we don’t have to get so worked up, try to fight that and just listen, especially if they are people that you respect, or love.

Is it possible that everyone who’s telling you the same (unbecoming) thing about yourself is wrong? Sure, that’s possible, but what IF they’re a little right? Its a good thing if you have folks in your life, who care enough to reach out, ‘bring you back to earth’, and tell you about yourself, when you’ve become almost unrecognizable, hard to be around, negative, or way ahead, or besides yourself. If you’re in the habit of rejecting that type of truth, or intervention, then don’t be surprised if you find yourself by yourself with ruined relationships, or burned bridges because of it. And NO, they may not be all your fault, but consider that you played a roll.

After all is said and done, taking responsibility for your part in it, is almost always a step in the best direction. Listening, checking your own ego, bad habits and choices is even better, but humility and maturity takes time. Sometimes we aren’t able to check ourselves, and in such a case, be OPEN to the people who love you enough to tell you the truth about yourself, embrace them even more, especially if you respect them, love them, or value whatever connection that you share.

Love, Light & Peace

© Ebony Brown

P.S. After writing this blog post, I came across the image below in my Facebook newsfeed, and felt compelled to include it! Thanks for posting Sara J. Devlin! A quote by the Dalai Lama and imaging that appears to be credited to “My Renewed Mind” at least that what it seems. Image Credit and Copyright remains with the originating source.

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Bring Back Our Girls | 200+ Nigerian School Girls Abducted But Not Forgotten

bring-back-our-girls TWO HUNDRED AND SEVENTY SIX Nigerian girls abducted from school. I read it. I heard it. I still can’t believe it, but its true. Unacceptable for even ONE girl – two hundred and seventy six AND counting is mortifying. Stolen to be possibly violated, raped, sold into sex trafficking, slavery, or any part of it done in the name of religion is complete and utter failure on the part of who?  The Nigerian government as it pertains to having some sort of order in place to better secure school grounds? Any officials who might have been aware and said, or did nothing to stop it? Or we the people who are learning about it and may feel so far removed from it, or powerless that we do nothing about it? What can we do?

While we cannot save the world and all of its problems, it is possible to contribute and support those who are attempting to do so. Marching, or picketing isn’t the only way to gain visibility, or national attention. The more who are aware and willing to share the information that they have via their social networks, the greater the possibility and pressure created for mass media to investigate and broadcast important, trending stories, such as this one.

The hashtag #BringBackOurGirls has mobilized international action, pushing those in power with resources to take note and ACT now. As the hashtag activism continues on,  the U.S. military is flying over Nigeria (with their permission) in search of the girls.  While I am hoping for the best, there is skepticism out there that the price Nigeria will pay for accepting outside help is some form of vulnerability to the not so publicized, alleged, hidden, imperialist agendas and interests of the international communities flocking to their aide given Nigeria’s economic growth.

There’s so  much work to be done here, work that extends beyond prayer, but definitely includes it. If we’re humble,  we’d count our blessings everyday. If we’re committed to growing, we’d work to be better than we were yesterday as an individual, as a family, as a friend, as a business, as an educational, or health institution, as a community, as a country, as a government, a continent, as a planet! There will be certain things in which we may feel initially powerless, and this could be exactly that. In any case, let’s hope for best and do whatever we can to be supportive in our own way.

If any of those girls were your daughter, or child, what would you do?

More About This Story:
ALGEZEERA: http://alj.am/1iPkUw9 |U.S. Military Flying Planes Over Nigeria to Find Missing Girls
REUTERS: http://reut.rs/1sJPLNI | Nigeria Signals Readiness To Talk To Boko Haram Rebels
ABC NEWS: http://abcn.ws/1mS9hZk | What We Know About The Kidnapped Nigerian Girls
CNN: http://cnn.it/1qzQW4A | Amnesty: Nigeria Warned of Boko Haram Raid At Girls School Failed To Act
CNN: http://cnn.it/RMv32p | Scared But Alive: Video Purports To Show Abducted Nigerian Girls
BBC: http://bbc.in/1nJKxzh | Nigeria Kidnapped Girls ‘Shown in Boko Haram Video’

 

 

 

[Image Credit: Unknown. Copyright remains with originating image creator/source.]

The Train Ride

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TRUE STORY

Snowy and cold, I boarded a Metro North Train with four grocery bags. Two in each hand. They’re freezing, heavy, and my fingers are about to fall off.  After a quick scan for an empty seat, floors wet, with newspaper slush all over the place, I see one – a three ‘seater’ and sit right on the aisle, where I’m being slapped with passing jackets, purses and stuff that people are carrying as they try to settle in. A deep sigh of relief, I sit back into my seat, and gesture to put the heaviest bag, in the middle seat next to me, but in it, is a big, blue, overstuffed, stubborn book bag belonging to the woman sitting on the other side of it, in the window seat.

“Excuse me” I say, and she ignores me, making absolutely no effort scoot her bag over, not even a little bit. She only put her arm on it, as if to protect it, and so, our conversation went a little something like this:

Me: Hello mam. Excuse me? Could we share this middle seat, and could you move your bag over just a little bit, so I can put my bag down too, please?

Her: [silence...she looks in my direction, but not at me, and turns her head]

Me: [silence...I release the bag in my other hand and just as I'm about to scoot her bag over she tersely says...]

Her: My Bag is HERE.

Me: Mam, I’m carrying grocery bags, four of them and this one is really heavy, could we please share this middle seat, half and half?

Her: [...she looks in my direction again, not at me, but this time with a dirty look]

Me: How many fares did you pay?

Her: [Irritated, she looks in my direction, throwing my question back at me with a heavy Spanish accent...] How many fares did YOU pay? One. I paid the same as you!

Me: Ok then, we paid the same, so could you move your bag over, so that I can use this middle seat too? Can we share it?

Her: [My words fly and crash into her invisible doors - ears wide shut. She is loud silence, but the faint sound of railroad tracks, breaks the tension. She takes out her phone and starts playing a slot machine game, a loud one]

Me: [My mind speeds off in fast forward mode, snatching the phone and stomping it into a million, wet pieces with pleasure. Snapping out of that thought, with a deep breath, I said to her...] Do you think its right to act like this?

Her: [Totally appalled and even disgusted that I'm still talking to her, she says...] Its my bag, oh my God! [Rolling her eyes, and muttering something Spanish under her breath. She continued to play her game]

Me: [In the calmest voice (after some quiet, repetitive "woosahs"), I said...] Mam, Why would a beautiful woman such as yourself, act so immature? What I asked for is simple, common courtesy stuff. Older people always speak about how the younger generation is so disrespectful and here you are completely acting as if you’re not a grown adult, And saying “Oh my God” is supposed do what? God doesn’t like ugly and that’s exactly what your behavior is right now. [My phone rang and at this point, my heavy bag is partially on top of hers and partially on my lap]

Her: [Continues to play the game]

Me: [Currently on the phone, I explain the situation to the person on the other end and conclude with, "I think she may not like Black people, or something, its as if she's disgusted that I even sat next to her. I wasn't rude at all, and still with her seeing me struggle with these bags, and us paying the same fair, she hasn't moved her bag, let me shut up and get off the phone. Maybe she's racist and hates black people, not me specifically, but just black people in general, I shouldn't take it personal, I'll talk to you later, I'm being rude, talking about this with her here, next to me." So, I hung up the phone. My train stop was next. My face is utter heartbreak and I am deep-breath, offended, out of words, restless. I begin to gather my things.]

Her: [She turns to me with softened eyes, and say...] I’m sorry.

Me: Ok. [I stand up, and start putting my bags onto my wrists, but on top of the coat, for some relief]

Her: [She grabs me, the arm that has all the bags on it already, and she say's] Mommy!!! I’m so, so, so sorry! Oh my God, please forgive me! [She said as if she's seen a ghost]

Me: [I'm stunned, but warmed in that moment] I forgive you. Its OK.

Her: [All of a sudden, and desperate for my forgiveness, she seemed surprised, but thankful, and smiled.]

Me: [I smiled back and stepped off the train, bumping a few people in aisle seats, on my way out, these bags had a mind of their own, and home was on my mind]

[Photo Credit: Ebony Brown (c) 2014]

Stop Trying To Change Her/Him

ebonybrownfotojunkibyAlexAllenPeople will not, and should not BE, who YOU want them to be, live how you want them to live, do what you want them to do, everyone is an individual.  They’re not YOU, him, her, or “them”. If you are an adult trying to control, change, adjust, tweak, shape, or mold another ADULT’S ways, then you probably need some fixing yourself, or love, lots of love, some healthy self love, and probably a dose of self respect too.

If you NEED someone else to change in order for you to feel more happy, or comfortable in your life, then consider that you are possibly running away from something that you’re not quite dealing with as best as you could. That, it really may be something about yourself that you don’t like, and you’re possibly dealing with it, by trying to change that thing in someone else.

What happy and humble human would put their undying efforts into trying to change a person that they love, or guilt them into being anything other than what they are? Beautifully imperfect, I’d like to believe that most of us are a work in progress.  People learn and grow at their own pace, sometimes SPACE is better than all the words, or gestures allegedly intended to help. Intention is one thing, but reality is another. You could MEAN well, but if it isn’t received well, then what difference are you making in someone’s life? How do you know for sure that you’re helping?

If you’ve ever felt your soul draining right out of you, taking with it years of your life, because someone isn’t acting “right” and you’re trying to get them to see the light, or be “better”, then I’m talking to you, as well as those who are on the receiving end, constantly being told to change. Every situation is different and of course there are exceptions. The thing is, if you want something, or someone better, then go in the direction of YOUR desired “better” (whatever that is for you), or simply choose to love more, rather than focus on what you don’t like, need, or want. If you’re on the receiving end of what feels like someone trying to change something about you, (including something that you and others actually have come to accept, or respect) then stay strong and humble – just live your life. Who was born to please everyone? Exactly. No one!

The people who were meant to be in your life, will be in your life and those who weren’t will fade, just like that. Learn the lesson of whatever the experience has brought you. Just be YOU. The real you. Who else could you possibly be? To love someone unconditionally may be hard at times, but its not impossible. Please folks, lets focus on what is possible, or what we can make possible. Its always best to start with ourselves, and the decisions that we make. If you love someone, stop trying to change them, love them better, support them, or let them go.

 

 

 

 

Leap Day is M.I.A. But I Am Here

ebonybirthdayFebruary 29th is on hiatus, but I’m still here, and the celebration must go on. Imagine looking at the calendar and not seeing your birthday on it! Its pretty weird. Friday, February 28th was Facebook’s pick for Leap Day folks, which was a spoiler for some and a relief for others. People always ask, “So, how do you deal with that?” and  “Which day will you celebrate your birthday, since its not on the calendar?” Well, Facebook has snatched the mystery out of that infamous inquiry. February 28th it is!

According to my younger sister, anyone born on February 29th was technically still wet in the womb on February 28th, did I mention, unborn and floating with umbilicus still attached? Needless to say, celebrating a Leap Day birthday on March 1st, after the birth, makes more sense to her. I think she makes a good point. Think about it. However, in my quiet pride, this Pisces insisted on celebrating it in the month of February, and so I did!

Being ONE amongst 10,000 in the world born on February 29th, of 700,000,000 people is cool, but reflecting on, and connecting with folks who has added light, or lightness in my life is even cooler and truly special to me. Now, technically eight and a half years old, I’m excited to be sharing this odd date of birth, in spirit, with one of the most respected, motivational speakers out there, Tony Robbins, and spoken word maven, Saul Williams.  Join me in wishing them a Happy Birthday too!

Full of gratitude, and thankful for my beautiful cake (photo above) and awesome gifts, including a box of young Thai coconuts, an acoustic guitar, really cool cards and more, I’m looking forward to continued growth and being better than I was yesterday. Whether February 29th is on the calendar or not, LIFE and LOVE is to be celebrated and cherished daily. I thank my mother and father for bringing me into this world, and anyone who has impacted my life in both good, or bad ways, because all of it has made me the person that I am today. Cheers!

[Photo: Mango, Tiramisu, Cheesecake! Thanks Sam! I love it!]

Loving You At Your Lowest

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Not everyone will be strong enough to cherish and love you at your lowest, or worst, nor will they always choose to be helpful – like say or do something that actually helps you. Sometimes they need help too, but in a different way, regardless of how mentally or emotionally well they may appear. Some will bypass the love that they’re capable of and resort to judging you, not even realizing their negativity – some do, some don’t care, and others are in denial. Try not to take their energy, regard or disregard personal, despite how badly it may be hurting you. TRY.

Make room in your heart to feel  beyond your own pain, and consider that they may be hurting too, or  that they’re simply not in their best form. Think about it. If someone is hurting, angry, bitter, or unhappy about something in their own life, why continue to allow the weight of their hurtful words to crumble your world? This is not to make an excuse for them, but to acknowledge that THEY ARE NOT WELL emotionally, or  mentally, or simply not happy, no matter what YOU, or we think that we know. Did you know that “Hurt people, HURT people?”  Iyanla Vanzant once mentioned, and so I say, don’t let this be you. Know that amidst the pain, there  still lies sweet spots of beautiful within us and around us and its up to you, and me, and us to access it, connect with it,  share it to the point of contagiousness.

Once we own and accept our truths and the reality of what we’re going through, we can move forward…beyond his, her, or their hurtful, or judgmental words. Its more healing and helpful to focus on what IS possible, or what we’re willing to MAKE possible with or without them. Arguing and wallowing in being pissed off about someone judging  you,  who also claims to love you, resolves what? I use that ‘pissed-offness’ to put one foot in front of the next. It might also help to be more mindful of who you’re allowing to be around you, especially when you’re most vulnerable, or feeling down, or lost. The last thing that you, or we need is to be judged – period, but when its by someone that we love, who we thought loved us back, it feels unbearable, unacceptable and alienating. While some people will pray for you, there are those who are preying on you. The latter is something that I don’t want to believe, but its a reality.

If you know someone who’s going through something, or is having a hard time getting through a period in their life and you love them, I mean, really LOVE  them and would do almost anything for them, then go ahead and truly LOVE them….some more….the best way that YOU know how….even better than before….and don’t allow anyone, or anything to sway you from the humility and good nature in which you’re capable. Do this even when they’re at their lowest, this is when they need it most and why dogs, or pets are the best. They’ll love you unconditionally, regardless of circumstance. Will we humans, ever be able to do this?

 [Photo Credit: Unkown. All rights reserved for originating source.]

Gifts From The Heart With Artist Patricia van Essche

Where there is a creative soul, wife and mother of three, named Patricia van Essche, there is thoughtful, colorful and brilliant art being contributed to the world. In this case, Patricia van Essche inspired West Elm faithfuls, newbies and youth to create some artsy, fun, water color Father’s Day cards. One attendee, who happens to be a dad said, “I’m not artsy at all,” but with some encouragement, one stroke followed another.  I am convinced, however, that we all have some inkling of creativity in our cells constantly working to be freed, and expressed in some form or fashion, and by the looks of the card created by our self proclaimed, “not so artsy” dad, I think that I might be on to something. If you haven’t purchased a Father’s day card yet, maybe you might want to create one?  West Elm also has some awesome Father’s Day gifts for a range of budgets, check out http://www.westelm.com to see what’s possible. Captured below are some irreplaceable gifts in the making; folks spent nothing but time and love to create something memorable, thanks to Patricia van Essche (www.pvedesign.com)

-Ebony

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Is that an owl on her t-shirt? West Elm is infamous for “OWL” anything! If you don’t know you’ll soon find out.

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We all must start somewhere, you never know what it may lead to!

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Our self proclaimed, “not so artsy” dad is full of creativity in this moment, but he didn’t know it yet.

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This is his daughter’s work, so detailed and intricate!

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A close up, I couldn’t refuse.

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Wallah! This is “not so artsy” dad’s card cover!

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…And this is the inside of his card, how true! I say the same about Mother’s Day and Valentines Day!

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Quick, true story. A woman walked into West Elm just to check out the store for the first time, while I was shooting around, so I invited her to participate in the Father’s Day art event. She painted the card below,  and purchased the inspiration for it, pictured next to it. Who knew she’d turn out to be an actual, working, artist!  Not only that, it turns out that she worked with the artist, Patricia van Essche previously and was visiting West Elm on the Patricia’s recommendation, not knowing that she’d be there doing an event! Coinkydink (crazy coincidence) or what? Below is her card and West Elm gift! (She mentioned the painting not being complete with shadows and all, but its the thought that counts, no?)

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Here’s Patricia van Essche’s contact info, perhaps she could inspire your next creation, be it for Father’s Day, or something else!

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Art, Activism And Creating With Purpose: Ai Weiwei

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Anyone could have talent, be incredibly skilled, or create something that gains some Oooos and ahhhhs, maybe some money, or even some shows, but not everyone will create with purpose, or a burning passion to inform, to help, or somehow impact lives, or societies and governments to the point of change, or something meaningful, and not every artist wants to.  Its almost unfathomable for me to articulate the massiveness of one human being’s life’s work here.  Have you ever heard of Ai Weiwei?

“If you don’t speak out, and if you don’t clear your mind, then who are you?” -Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei, the artist, the activist, and an advocate for human rights for the people of China is one, single, solitary, brave and humble human, speaking for millions through multimedia art. Continually pushing the buttons of his country’s government, Ai Weiwei always seems to create with intention and purpose, and I feel almost certain that his  life’s work will be the death of him.  Although the Chinese government has worked tirelessly to muzzle him (as he openly depicts via social media), I’m convinced that the people of China and around the world, who knows of his work, will celebrate his legacy and advocacy for centuries to come. Let’s fast forward, past my general verbiage here, and press play below for seventeen minutes and fifty eight seconds of what creating with purpose looks like, courtesy this PBS Frontline presentation “Who’s Afraid of Ai Weiwei”:

[Image Courtesy: Phaidon.com | Ai Weiwei, Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn (1995)
Three black and white photographs, each 148 x 121cm ]

New Slaves By Kanye West | A Review

Whoa, Did you see Kanye West’s, New Slaves music video? Please watch first, and then read my words; I want you to have your own first reaction without my commentary prefacing your initial thoughts. Cool?

New Slaves Lyrics:

My mama was raised in an era when/Clean water was only served to the fairer skin
Doing clothes you would have thought I had help/But they wouldn’t be satisfied unless I picked the cotton myself
You see its broke n—a racism/That’s that don’t touch anything in the store
And there’s rich n—a racism/That’s that come here please buy more
What you want a Bentley, fur coat and diamond chain?/All you blacks want all the same things
Used to only be n—as /Now everybody play me
Spending everything on that Alexander Wang/New Slaves

[Hook]
You see it’s leaders and it’s followers/But I’d rather be a d-ck than a swallower
You see it’s leaders and it’s followers/But I’d rather be a d-ck than a swallower

[Verse 2]
I throw these Maybach keys/I wear my heart on my sleeve
I know that we the new slaves/I see the blood on the leaves
I see the blood on the leaves/I see the blood on the leaves
I know that we the new slaves/I see the blood on the leaves
They throwing hate at me/Want me to stay at ease
F-ck you and your corporation/Y’all n—as can’t control me
I know that we the new slaves/I know that we the new slaves
I’m about to wild the f-ck out/I’m going Bobby Boucher
I know that pussy ain’t free/You n—as pussy, ain’t me
Y’all throwing contracts at me/You know that n—as can’t read
Throw him some Maybach keys/F-ck it, c’est la vie
I know that we the new slaves/Y’all n—as can’t f-ck with me
Y’all n—as can’t f-ck with Ye/Y’all n—as can’t f-ck with Ye
I move my family out the country /So you can’t see where I stay
So go and grab the reporters/So I can smash their recorders
Yeah they confuse us with bullsh-t/Like the New World Order
Meanwhile the DEA/Teamed up with the CCA
They tryna lock n—as up/They tryna make new slaves
See that’s that private-owned prison/Get your piece today
They prolly all in the Hamptons/Braggin’ ’bout they maid
F-ck you and your Hampton house/I’ll f-ck your Hampton spouse
Came on her Hampton blouse/And in her Hampton mouth
Y’all ’bout to turn sh-t up/I’m ’bout to tear sh-t down
I’m ’bout to air sh-t out/Now what the f-ck they gon’ say now?

–END OF LYRICS–

In your face, down your throat, this New Slaves video reeks of propaganda-like, dictator type presentation and rhetoric. I don’t hate it, I don’t love it, but I prefer it; its beautifully bold, almost ‘Dada’ like and fearless. I’d be more convinced if it were coming from an unsigned, independent artist in the likes of Immortal Technique, rather than a signed, corporate contract having, massive mansion owning, multi-cars and jewels flaunting, label whoring, Kanye West, who now seems to have forgotten all of this, while biting the hand that feeds him, but what do I know? I only know what the media conveys, and is that always the whole story? While there are some alleged truths throughout Kanye’s lyrics, the fact that its him, spewing it, resonates as contradiction. Then again, how massive would it be for mainstream and hip hop music to get back to its roots of truth again? Perhaps Kanye West is simply growing and doesn’t deserve to be classified, or boxed in, and forever associated with all of his publicized meltdowns that has come before this; I won’t mention it.

Words like his, passion like his, realization and knowledge presented like this, in a straightforward, distraction-less, hypnotizing, big faced video, BROADCASTED to the masses for consumption of the millions, could actually inspire folks to wake up and learn about whats really going on around them, consequently, firing them up to do their own research and seek further leadership, or activism. Conversely, such could inspire worse in others, who would not only pull the plug on Kanye’s projected, grand epiphany, but also his career, and even his life. What black man has  survived the successful unbolting and revealing of  alleged skeletons in America’s closet? “Controversial,” would be too weak of word to describe the potential upheaval that music videos like “New Slaves” has the power to incite. So long as folks aren’t really listening and believing, or taking Kanye West and his lyrics seriously, but are definitely buying it, there is no problem, nor real controversy.