Monthly Archives: January 2012

What Competition?

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“Just thinking of recent post interactions with New Bruce and J Sheree Dawson … there really IS enough fame, money, recognition, accolades, success and prosperity to go around.  I don’t understand those artists who feel that they can’t help promote someone else because it takes away from THEM.  That’s just selfish.  Even if there is another photographer out there who photographs the exact same things I do, the end result will be different because it was filtered through ME, not them and vice versa.  I am in competition with NO ONE except the best Ejay of yesterday.  That is all.”

I posted the above on Facebook the other night after sharing a couple of links to other artist’s work on my FB page.  I wanted to expound on the topic a little here.

I know that here in our great and powerful America, just about everything is a competition.  We have televised competitions for everything from cooking to fashion design.  I love a good competition show as much as the next girl.  I mean, watching the creativity it takes to make a cohesive meal from gummy worms, spinach, pasta and plums on ‘Chopped’ on the Food Network is exhilarating! Love it!! 🙂

However, what does competition really accomplish?  Yeah, I know you’re probably saying, ‘It proves who’s the best.’ lol  But does it really?? Let’s look at sports since that’s the analogy most people will relate to.   On Michael Jordan’s worst day on the court, another player could have been having his best day on the court and beat Michael, right?  Does that isolated incident prove or disprove greatness?  I would say, ‘Nope’, because you could pit those same two players against one another on a day when Michael was at his best and the other player at his worst and the outcome would be totally different.  Right?

We can’t waste time and energy competing and comparing.  We all have different strengths, gifts, talents and even weaknesses.  I can admire what other people have achieved and use their lives to motivate me to be my best self, but without competition.  There will always be someone who is ‘more’ of something than I think I am.  It doesn’t take away from my talent for me to admire someone else’s talent and even help promote it if I can.

I am my only competition.

 

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http://www.facebook.com/artsbyjphotography

https://www.facebook.com/NEWBRUCE

 

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It’s ALL about YOU!

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“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

The degree to which your life sucks or rocks depends soley upon YOU.  Yup, you.  It’s all you.  Every bit of it.  I know.  Take a minute to let that sink into the craters of your mind. 

 

I know the instinct is to blame ‘them’, ‘that institution’, ‘those people’, ‘that deity’, but it’s you.  You are the decider (ha!).  There’s no grand conspiracy to keep you from being happy, healthy and successful.  There is no ‘MAN’ (as in ‘the man is keeping me down).   YOU decide what you think, do and believe.  YOU decide how you behave in any given moment and respond to any given situation.  YOU.  YOU. YOU.

 

Take responsibility for your life, because YOU are responsible for your life.  Make it rock!! Hard!! Like Jimi Hendrix followed by The Doors hard!!! lol

 

 

 

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Take a Minute!

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There are 1,440 minutes in a day.  Your day can be ‘made’ or ‘broken’ in just one of those precious minutes.  Why not make a conscious effort to make your day?

 

Take a minute or two and focus on something positive.  If you’re feeling particularly pissy and can’t think of anything positive,  think of the word LOVE.  And not, “I’d love to push him down a flight of stairs covered in broken glass.” NO! lol Just think of the word ‘LOVE’ or some other positive word for you.  Think of a person you love or a place you love.  The point is to just shift your focus for that one precious minute.  It could make all the difference in your day.  Or not. What have you got to lose (other than feeling crappy?).  Try it.

 

 

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Never Give Up!

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‘Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking  our potential.’ – Winston Churchill

 

I am currently undergoing an almost complete overhaul of my whole life, which is scary good!!  Before I got to this point of accepting the changes, I beat myself up for a long time for not being ‘farther along’ whatever the hell that means.  I made the mistake of comparing myself to the swarms of multi-millionaire fetuses we see on television everyday. (“I’m ancient and have been working my ass off to make it and that kid’s 3 and has a recording contract? Are you kidding me?!!”) lol But, I digress.

 

During this transformative period, I’m reminded daily to never give up.  I love writing and I love expressing myself through painting and photography – this is who I am.  I know that I will make it  and I will not give up.  Before I got to this point, though, there were days where I was SO over it!! Gratefully, for every BS excuse I came up with to give up on my dreams, I saw examples of people who had persevered and I had to appreciate them for that.

 

‘I’m too old’ – the Delany Sisters gave an oral account of their remarkable lives at the ages of 101 and 103 for their NY Times bestseller ‘Having Our Say’.  It’s never too late to do something great!

‘They’ll say no’ – Jack Canfield’s ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ book was rejected by over 100 publishers before being picked up.  All it takes is one ‘Yes!’

‘It’s too late for me’ – I recently heard Jane Fonda say that she felt she didn’t really come into her own until she reached her 60’s.  There’s time!

‘I can’t make it because of my race and gender’ – two words: Oprah Winfrey.  Everything is possible.

I greatly appreciate the examples of the aformentioned persons and so many others who never gave up.  If they can live extraordinary, fulfilled lives and help and inspire other people in the process, why can’t I?  Why can’t YOU?  We can!

 

So, do the BIG thing! Dream the big dream and set about making it come true and never, ever give up.  It’s not too late!

 

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What Do You See?

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“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” – Henry David Thoreau

 

This week, on the heels of my breakthrough with my mom, I found out that the house in Chicago where I grew up had been demolished.  My mind immediately ran through the litany of bad things that took place in that house.

 

This time, though, instead of dwelling on the past too long and feeling horrible, I changed my perspective.  Life at 6447 was far from ‘Brady Bunch’ quality, but I did have some good times in that house.

 

My deep and abiding love of music started in that house.  My mom always had music playing, everything from Motown to the Beatles and Elton John.  ‘Come Together’ and ‘Bennie & the Jets’ are still two of my favorite songs to this day.

 

 

My love of reading was fostered in that house.  My mom often read bedtime stories to my younger brother and me before my other 2 younger siblings were born.  She used to read us ‘Toussaint L’ouverture’ from Ntozake Shange’s ‘for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf’.  Yes, I know.   The book itself is not exactly children’s material, but we loved the story about Toussaint and my mom always read it with such emotion and theatrics.

 

We laughed in that house.  We had parties and sleepovers in that house.  We played board games in that house.  We had delicious food in that house.  We survived that house and I am grateful.  When I think of all the good times I had growing up in that house, they seem a lot bigger than the bad ones.  That doesn’t lessen the pain we endured there, but it provides another place to rest my focus.   Perspective is absolutely everything.

 

 

So, R.I.P. 6447 So. Aberdeen, you were more than just a  house.  Your bad times made me stronger and  your good times still bring me joy.

 

 

Compassion

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My mother is a tender soul and I have not always treated her tenderly.  Because of my challenging childhood, my mother and I have always had a complicated relationship.  I have related to her as a reminder of ‘failed’ parenting (‘How could she have let those things happen to me?’) and she probably has viewed me largely as a reminder of her own insecurities as a parent (‘How could I have let those things happen to her?).

 

 

Neither of us really took the time to see the other as a perfectly imperfect human being trying to make it through life to the best of our abilities and relating from that space.  Last night, I was out with a friend and she asked me, “Do you like your mom?”  My reply was, “Sometimes.”  I went on to say, “I love her, but I don’t always like her” which I didn’t really mean, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

 

 

My friend suggested that when I show my mom more compassion, I’ll have the healing that I need, as she is a mirror for how I treat myself.  Whew!!  That blew my mind because I felt the truth in it.

 

 

Later, as I was sitting at my computer, I started thinking, ‘I lied. I DO like my mom.  She’s a great person.  She’s cool.  I really do like my mother.  I love her and I’d lose my freaking mind if something happened to her.’  My eyes immediately filled with thick, hot tears as I realized she needed (had been waiting all my adult life) to hear that.

 

I walked down the hall to her room, flinching all the way, which let me know it was the thing to do.  I went to her room and with tears streaming down my face said the most honest, raw thing I’ve ever said to my mother in my entire life:

“Mama, I apologize for not treating you with more compassion.  I love you very much and I’m sorry that I’ve been beating up on you all these years.  I’ve been beating up on myself and you are the outward projection of that and I am so so sorry.”

 

I walked over to her and we hugged for what seemed like a very long time and I had not hugged (really hugged) my mother since my husband died 20 years ago.  As I hugged her, I said  “I know you did the best you could and I’m so sorry.”  I felt my mother’s love for me in her embrace and I knew our relationship had changed forever.

 

We ended up staying up until 4:30 this morning.  We talked about everything from love and relationships to Stephen King (lol).  We played Words with Friends and just enjoyed each other’s company.

 

 

I know we may still have work to do, but a new foundation has been laid on the basis of mutual love and compassion and that’s a tough foundation to crack.

 

 

 

*dedicated with love, compassion and respect to my Mama, who has loved me when I acted unlovable and to Terri, who asks the questions that move mountains.

Do It Anyway!

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I recently read an amazing short book called ‘The Flinch’ by Julien Smith.  The book is a call to step out of your comfort zone and not only face that gut-tightening flinch, but walk through that bad boy!  Good stuff.

One of the ‘homework’ assignments in the book is to strike up a conversation with a stranger.  Talk about gut-tightening!  I am pretty leery of people I don’t know, so the thought of talking to some random person did not feel good to me.  That was the purpose of the exercise, though, to feel the discomfort and proceed in spite of it.

After reading the assignment, I went for my daily walk.  I was thinking about the challenge but not really focusing on it.  I was coming to the end of my walk when I spied a woman sitting on a bench alone.  I decided she was my stranger. lol  I took a deep breath and approached her.  I said ‘Hello’ when I was still a few feet away because I didn’t want to startle her.  She didn’t respond, so I repeated myself.  Still no response.  I got closer and saw she was wearing headphones, so I waved to get her attention.  I was just about to launch in my speech about being challenged to speak to a stranger, when the strangest thing happened.  She did not look directly at me, did not talk to me or acknowledge me in any way.  She grabbed her cup, stood up and walked away!  While she may not have been able to hear me because of her headphones, she certainly could see me, I was right there!  I was speechless (which is quite a feat for me).  I wasn’t giving up that easily, though, so I followed her for a few steps all the while calling out to her: “Ma’am, I didn’t want to disturb you!  I didn’t want your bench!”  She never turned around, just kept walking.  When she came to the crosswalk, she veered right and I kept straight.  I gave up.  I was not interested in chasing that woman through the park (any more than I already had lol).

I continued my walk with a myriad of questions flying through my head, the most prevelant being ‘WTF was that?’ lol The more I walked, the clearer I became, though.  The phrase ‘The devil is in the DOING’ came to me.  Just doing it was the challenge, right?  And I did it.   Her motivation for her actions did not matter at all.  I faced my ‘flinch’ and did it anyway.   That experience, though weird and funny (picture me chasing her down the trail trying to explain 🙂 ) was valuable for me and I’m glad I did it.

If you get a chance, check out ‘The Flinch’.  It’s FREE on Amazon.com.  It’s a great book.  If you do read it, I’d love to hear about your ‘flinches’ and how you walked through them.  Remember, ‘the devil is in the DOING’ and do it anyway!

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