Be like Bradley Cooper

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On Saturday, Bradley Cooper revealed that he auditioned for the legendary Spike Lee and was rejected. When I heard this story I immediately thought about his tenacity, his willingness to never give up, his belief in himself. Sure he probably had good days and bad days, sometimes wanting to give up on his dreams but he didn’t. He says that he was rejected THOUSANDS of times yet he persisted. He continued to audition. He trained, honed his craft, and never gave up.

I attended a Paparrazzi conference yesterday where the keynote speaker was one of the company’s founders Trent Kirby. He encouraged us to fail. That may sound funny but is t that exactly how Bradley Cooper and so many others have achieved their success. He failed. He failed to get that part with Spike Lee but did that deter him. NO! We are going to fail but we must fail forward, get back up and try it again. Be engaged in our business, our dream; fail, learn from that failure and try again.

Be like Bradley Cooper! Remember that great people fail all the time. We may not see all their failures. We may not see any at all, but as a student of history, Trent reminded me yesterday that greatness doesn’t come from always winning. In order to truly be great, there will be times when you fall short of your goals. The key yo greatness is how you respond to your failures. Do you give in and give up? Or, do you pick yourself up, fail forward, learn and try again?


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Going to school in America where shootings are the “new norm”.

img_4435These are my girls at school!  Happy-go-lucky and free to be a teen and pre-teen!  They are students, learning, growing, making friends and having fun! img_3188

To my friends, colleagues, and followers: have school shootings in America become the new normal, commonplace?  There have been 288 school shootings in America since 2009.  There have been 433 shooting incidents in America since the Santa Fe, TX shooting on Friday – that just three days ago.  In 2018, there have been 22,190 total shooting incidents in America and 16 school shootings in American in 2018.  Why?

Twenty-three (23) families have changed: 8 students and 2 teachers are dead; 13 others were injured.  One student who was a Pakistani exchange student who came here to study with American students and interact with American families.  Her family will never see her again.  Why is this the “new norm”?

As I sent my daughters to school today, it was like nothing happened on Friday.  It happened and life has gone on.  The same students that I see every school day were at the bus stop.  The country is not having a moment of silence; it is contained to the state of Texas.  If the reports are correct, more students have died in school shootings this year than soldiers in the two (2) wars that America is currently engaged.  So I wondered, is this the norm in other countries.

Based on what I learned, it is NOT!  Again, since 2009, here are the number of school shootings for other countries.  Mexico – 8; South Africa – 6, India – 5, Canada and France – 2, China, Germany, Greece and Russia – 1, all other countries listed including the UK are zero (0).  Let me put it another way, America is 36 times more likely to have a school shooting than any other country in the world!  So this is just the norm in America!

I agree with Arne Duncan, former Secretary of Education 2008-2015, that it is our responsibility as parents to ensure our children’s safety.  The question becomes, how do we do that?  Is it something that we need to do collectively?  Is it even a problem for my community?  We need to have the conversation.  We need to talk about if and how gun violence affects our children, our families, our communities.  We need to discuss options to make a difference, to make our children, our students, our teachers, our communities, our seniors, our colleagues – Americans safe!

Are you willing to have the discussion with me?  Or, are we going to continue to live our lives as if this only happens to other people, until it happens to us?  What are the steps that we can take as parents?  Should we work individually or collectively or both?  What role do the politicans that we elect play?  What is the political responsibility to affect change in this area?  Is there one?  Are the parents of the student who committed this heinous act responsible for providing access to these guns and other weapons of mass destruction?  Let’s discuss, and then take action.

 

Happy Black History Month

When I opened Google on February 1, 2017, to my delight, Google wished me ‘Happy Black History Month’ highlighting Edmonia Lewis, an African-Native American sculptor born in New York on Independence Day 1844.  On February 1, 2018, Google highlighted Carter G. Woodson, an Black American writer and historian considered the “Father of Black History.”

Go out and learn more about your history.  Lots of times we discuss the great Black Americans who built this country and helped our community begin to grow and thrive.  Now I want you to learn your history.  Who are your parents?  Who are your grandparents?  Where do you come from?  These are my children.  I want them to know where they come, who they are, what great people came in our family before them.

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Our children need to know and learn who the great famous Black women and men in world history.  That is very important.  But just as important is for them to know and learn who the great Black women and men in our family histories are.  Make it a part of our Black History activities.  Talk with your ancestors and learn about your family.  That’s what I plan to do.

This month, I have decided to dedicate time to learning my family history and hope that you may do the same.  Make Black History Month GREAT again!!!

 

Put God First

10695039_10204683380864339_793525817_n-e1518187998456.jpgWednesday, February 8, 2018, I attended my first Paparazzi Regional event called EmpowerMe Pink in Phildelphia, PA.  There was a lot going on in Philly that day: there was a MASSIVE parade for the Eagles who won Super Bowl LII.  People were everywhere.  The city shut down 5 miles of streets and people were required to take public transportation just to get into the city.  There were no cars, trucks or SUVs on the street of Phildelphia that day!  Just hundreds of thousands of people celebrating a long awaited victory for a team that they never gave up on.

The Eagles were not the only champions in town that day.  Thousands of Paparazzi Independent Consultants traveled to Philly by car, bus, train and plane to hear from the champions, like Trent Kirby, Chani and Ryan Reeves,who started our company and share with each other stories of success and hope!  For me, it was AMAZING.  I was reminded of the power of hope, the importance of consistency and the hard work of discipline.  Most of all, the meeting confirmed my goals, my heart’s desire, is waiting for me to attain it.  Nothing and no one is holding me back but me.  That stops now!

Everything I am, all that I have, all that I’ve accomplished, all that my children accomplish is by the Grace of God.  I was reminded of a commencement address that Denzel Washington gave at an HBCU recently.  I went back and listened to it this morning (following one of the tips that Trent taught us to start each day listening to motivational videos).  Now I’m sharing it with you.

Denzel Washington – Put God First

Be blessed and make today GREAT!!

Clean Beauty – Routine Changes

This post is reprinted from “Because I’m Addicted” on bloglovin at bloglovin – Because I’m Addicted  I thought that it was a great article, so I’m sharing it with you!

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If you’re not into clean beauty, I get it! I really do. The truth about non-natural beauty products is that they work – really well! There’s a reason beauty is a multi-billion dollar industry, and when it comes to benefits like clearing skin, fighting aging, nourishing your hair, etc. a lot of the toxic products get the job done BUT that can come with a price: your health.

Women who wear makeup and use beauty products on a daily basis can absorb an average of 5 pounds (five pounds!!) of chemicals into their bodies each year. Everything that we slather onto our bodies goes directly into our blood stream. So just like being mindful of what we eat and drink, we need to be mindful about what we’re putting on our bodies in the same way.

What they’ve discovered is that the chemicals being used are proven to cause cancer and are endocrine disruptors which can increase production of certain hormones; decrease production of others; imitate hormones; turning one hormone into another; interfering with hormone signaling; telling cells to die prematurely; competing with essential nutrients; binding to essential hormones; accumulating in organs that produce hormones. Scary stuff!

So, if you want to start making switches to clean beauty but aren’t ready to give up your Tom Ford foundation (I feel you, girl!) my suggestion is to make three simple changes to daily used items. The first two are the products that are used all over your body: soap and lotion (if you don’t use this daily, you still need to change this one). And the third, deodorant. Switch those three to organic/natural/clean and you’ve made a big change in the amount of toxins you’re absorbing annually. Yay, go you!

Product recommendations:

Organic soaps: Makes 3 Organic Eucalyptus Cedarwood Soap (highest rated by the EWG), Dr. Bronner’s (what I personally use) & Pure ProvenceOil/body butter/organic lotion: Organic Matcha Body Moisturizer,  Aura Cacia Organics Skin Care Oil Sweet Almond, Fig & Yarrow Body OilTrue Botanicals Body Balm (I love their Frankincense + Sandalwood) plus more below

Non-toxic deodorants: Erbaviva, Agent Nateur, ORGANIC 101, EO Organics & Schmidt’s  plus more below

He Who Must Not Be Named

It was the best of times… Many of us are feeling so sort of way. Between the election results, today’s social, political and economic climate, Super Bowl LI, and the list could go on, we just find it hard some days, some moments to deal with “It”; however you define It.

A friend shared Bernice King’s (the daughter of MLK Jr.) advice on how to deal with It:


“1. Don’t use his name; EVER it’s like acknowledging the class clown (45, he who will not be named, Him upstairs, Mista, etc will do)

Briggsy Note: it’s like “he who must not be named” in the Harry Potter series! If it works for Michelle Obama, Dumbledore and Bernice King, it works for me. 

2. Remember this is a REGIME and he’s NOT acting alone;

Briggsy note: what is happening is very strategic. While certain world leaders may be using 45, so is the GOP.

3. Do not argue with those who support him – it doesn’t work;

Briggsy note: this speaks for itself! Anything else I could add would only solicit negative reactions and feedback. 

4. Focus on his policies, not his orange-ness and mental state;

Briggsy note: these are distractions from what is really important, which includes Hitler-like rhetoric, business interests, taxes, relationship with his children, where his wife lives, etc. 

5. Keep your message positive; they want the country to be angry and fearful because this is the soil from which their darkest policies will grow;

6. No more helpless/hopeless talk;

Briggsy note: Focus on what’s important in your life. I’ve started spending less time on social media because I found it affected my mood. Focus on those things that you can control, keep your thoughts positive, your words, deeds and disposition will follow. It’s contagious! 

7. Support artists and the arts;

Briggsy note: Go to the theater, symphony or a play. Follow @randallstownmom for local news on the arts and artists. The page is being updated weekly. 

8. Be careful not to spread FAKE news. Check it, check it twice;

Briggsy note: get your news from reputable organizations and news programs. There is a lot of fake news being spread. Be vigilant. 

9. Take care of yourselves; and

Briggsy note: learn to say ‘No’ sometimes. Be true to yourself first. You can’t help others when you don’t take care of you. I’m the first person that needs to take this advice. 

10. Resist!

Keep demonstrations peaceful. In the words of John Lennon, “When it gets down to having to use violence, then you are playing the system’s game. The establishment will irritate you – pull your beard, flick your face – to make you fight! Because once they’ve got you violent, then they know how to handle you. The only thing they don’t know how to handle is non-violence and humor.”

When you post or talk about him, don’t assign his actions to him, assign them to “The Republican Administration,” or “The Republicans.” 

Briggsy note: only post about he who must not be named if you must and only if you must. He does not deserve that much attention from you. Plus it’s so much bigger than one man. Don’t let the GOP play you. 

Reassigning his actions will have several effects: Republican legislators will either have to take responsibility for their association with him or stand up for what some of them don’t like; he will not get the focus of attention he craves; Republican representatives will become very concerned about their re-elections.

Briggsy final note for this post: It’s time to change our focus, be purposeful in our actions and know that our future is bright. Stay sexy in a great pair of shades!

Closing Doors and Cutting Losses: My Struggle in My Interracial Relationship

This is a repost from blackgirlnerds.com and it speaks such truth that I had t share it!

When I previously wrote about my marriage, I talked a bit about the white people who were suddenly in my personal space and how this caused an influx of microaggressions and coded language in my downtime that I hadn’t dealt with since college. I had white friends, but we didn’t talk about racism. I was brought up to be aware of white feelings however — to read them, understand them, and learn when shit was getting dangerous so that I could leave and live another day.
I was raised by parents who had children before the Civil Rights Act was passed. To be black and have children in this country was an act of ultimate hope then, a hope I do not share. Yet, my parents did it and they raised us to understand that we were here under white sufferance. We were taught to be still, be silent, and be the best. We were taught no matter how great we were, white people wouldn’t see us as such. Regardless of our accomplishments, they would always be “black achievements” valued less than white failure.
We were told that if we worked hard and got great grades, we’d access to education and jobs the people before them didn’t. What they really meant was that we’d have access to education and jobs valued by white people, because black people were doctors and had schools, education, and language that weren’t sanctioned by white people. During that time, unapproved meant worthless. My parents learned when black people built their own systems and tried to operate outside of whiteness, white people would come and destroy everything that like spoiled, angry children. To survive meant pretending to be less than what you are because white people had a history of destroying all competition.
And that’s what we did. We assimilated, adapted, and blended. And now, I look at all the black people I know, myself included, who have attained white-approved education and employment. The black people who learned how to put on a white-approved public face and played the game of “Keep White People Happy.” We slowly adopted and refined our own anti-blackness until it was “respectable” just like we needed to be. And now, I watch us struggle to come to terms with the reality that there is no level of respectability that will result in white approval. We learn the white friends we’ve known for decades quietly thought their black counterparts deserved being oppressed because they brought it on themselves. I watched friendships shatter into unrecognizable fragments and it breaks my heart every time.
My awakening was much of the same. Lying down next to a man who worshipped my mind, body, and the wholeness of me only to realize he didn’t believe my wholeness included my blackness. I fought the knowledge, covered myself in layers of denial, continued the relationship as it made incremental cuts along my self-worth until the bleeding and scarring pain became overwhelming. I called myself pushing back; I made us have conversations that addressed my humanity and confronted his prejudices. I told myself I was being patient. Loving. Open-minded. Until I understood I became a masochist.
My significant other’s (S.O.’s) friends are problematic. I suffered them for much longer than I wanted. There were multiple discussions revealing their questionable morality. At the time, the Occupy Wall Street movement was happening and there was trash talk about the movement. There was talk about drug testing welfare recipients. There was talk about defrauding people who didn’t realize the worth of their items. There was smugness, arrogance, and a level of self-importance and selfishness that was anathema to me. I was always the only brown person in the room and even the areas where we met up were devoid of POCs. Everything about it was unpleasant, yet I endured.
His family are mostly mild-mannered people who accept me as long as I never challenge them. The first time I met them, his mother could not remember my name and repeatedly called me one so dissimilar, I didn’t realize she was speaking to me at all. His father referred to my friends as a “gang” and could not connect the dots on how fucked up that was despite me repeatedly saying, “I don’t have a gang. Do you mean my friends?” He then responded, “No, your gang.” My S.O.’s embarrassment was enough for me to put it aside.

Over time, they became more comfortable with me and their questions became more intrusive, while the comments were more direct: “What plantations would be good to tour on?” or “Your child would be beautiful, ‘cause of the skin.”
Every time I confronted it, they would become confused by my response, explain they didn’t mean anything by it and immediately end the conversation. There were no teachable moments because the talks ended so quickly, I had no time to respond. Eventually I told my S.O. he needed to handle this with his family because if I did it, there wasn’t going to be a relationship anymore. And still I stayed. And I loved. And I hated. And I hurt.
The termination of my relationship with his parents came this year, approximately one week ago.
This part of the story isn’t unique. After recovering from the shock of having my mother-in-law support someone’s claims regarding the shootings of Alton Sterling and Philandro Castile saying we needed to know more information and remain patient for evidence in the murder of two unarmed black men, I lost it. I fucking lost my shit. That this woman would have the audacity to support this, to devalue these men’s lives at the hands of government thugs was so disgusting. I was done. I wouldn’t pretend his parents’ racism didn’t exist and it didn’t affect me. He couldn’t protect me from them so I decided to protect myself. The fallout hasn’t truly happened yet and I’m fairly positive they will pretend everything’s ok, but it’s not. Something is truly wrong with them, and I don’t have room in my personal life for that type of foulness anymore.
I don’t know what this means for my S.O. and I. He knows I meant what I said about them not being welcome in my home anymore; I won’t go to their home either. Holidays will be interesting as I will not ask him to choose between us. They are his parents and as such, occupy a unique place in his life. It’s just a place I will not try to occupy with him.
And still I stay. And still I love. And still I hate. And still I hurt. But now, I heal.
Racism has always been a part of my life. Learning to numb myself to its little indignities has been the status quo. Speaking out against it, pushing back, is met with swift and severe punishment. But now when that punishment happens, we have opportunities to share our narrative, to get our stories out there. We aren’t relying on the complicity and approval of white people to move forward – not like before. Your aid, while appreciated, is not required. We are here and you see us – with that visibility comes a difficulty to exploit us.
As horrible as all of this is, this is part of the future my parents pushed me towards. Like a sleeper agent, I shake off the programming which allowed me to blend in and now I am fighting to be who I was meant to be. I am an agent of influence. Agent of chaos. Agent of change.
Change is here. The old regime is slowly crumbling, making way for new powers, new voices, new systems. We are in transition and it will get bloody, but change is here.
Which side of history will you be on?

About the Writwr of this article: TaLynn Kel is a writer, advocate, womanist, cosplay artist, creator, communicator, and public health geek. You can find her writing on her website at http://www.talynnkel.com, and she also occasionally writes for The Establishment and Anime Complexium.

Olivia Is Representing Team USA

IMG_5124My daughter Olivia (aka Libby) has been selected for Team USA at the World Championship of the Performing Arts. Dancers, singers, actors and models from ALL OVER THE WORLD compete before 75 judges from the entertainment industry every year to win gold, silver and bronze medals. This year is the 20th Annual World Championships of Performing Arts®, being held on July 8 – 17, 2016 in Long Beach, California. Many cite this event as the official “Talent Olympics” for aspiring performers. Yes, there is an Olympics for performers – Get Excited!

Contestants are expected to compete from over 50 countries, and Olivia Anderson is representing us on Team USA with her sister and brother performers! This is such an awesome opportunity for Olivia and part of her success starts with YOU!  She will have the chance to grow as a professional artist, get scholarships and even earn a role in a commercial, TV show, play or movie!  There are no limits, and we are so proud of her talent and drive to reach this goal!

Please consider making a donation to support Libby. We will use all funds raised to help offset the costs to attend. We will be in Long Beach, CA for 10 days. Costs include the Team USA uniform, costumes, head shots, travel & hotel expenses and the cost of having her coach with her. Our budget is well over $5,000 for this event, and we are asking for your help!   Would you do Libby this favor and make a donation?

Just click this link: Go Fund Me for Olivia Reps Team USA to make a donation.

Thank you!

Misty Copeland is one of my daughter’s sheros.  She admires her life and her story because “Ms. Copeland knew that she was a great dancer and went after her dreams, no matter the cost.  Ms. Copeland did not let anything stand in her way, and neither will I”  (quote from Olivia).   Help us help Libby make her dreams come true!

Misty Copeland

The Year of the Andrea!

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My girlfriend has declared that this is “The Year of the Andrea!” and I’m so with that! Many of us are hard-working women of different backgrounds, socioeconomic status, educational levels, and social standing. I happen to be a working wife and mother of two awesome school-aged girls and three adult Black men. It’s not easy. My girlfriend Andrea is a hardworking wife and mother of the most precious school-aged child and two aspiring college students. Can you say broke as a joke? Maybe not “broke” but struggling is a fair assessment. And many of my friends are a very similar situation.
We are hardworking women with good jobs or self-employed or both, managing a household, a husband or significant other, children expenses, the education of our families, and community necessities. That last item will be defined and explored in more detail. First, I must make the very important point that we expend most of our energy on others with less than the appropriate amount of time spent on ourselves. We see our homes, our children, our spouse/significant other as OUR priority; even our community has necessary actions and roles that we must commit.
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What are the “community necessities” with which I speak? It’s the PTA membership and active committee responsibilities, volunteering at church, serving on the board of the local recreation, community center and/or advocacy group, being active in our home-owners association – not just a paid member, serving as a Girl Scout or Boy Scout leader. Now how many people serve our communities and consider it a necessity? Well, we must make time for us!
So this year, my good girlfriend decided that 2015 is “The Year of the Andrea!” and I am so with that!! It’s about me, my wants, my needs, my aspirations. That doesn’t mean that I won’t continue what I’ve always and should do. It just means that there will be times when I think about me; take care of me, do for me, love me – and it might be at the expense of the husband, children, school or community. They will have to learn that Mummy can do what they’ve always done, look out for me first – even if it may only be once in a while. That’s better than never or rarely – it will be regularly, consistently and without apology! So get ready, get used to it, Get Excited!! I am!
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As we travel on this journey, we will share lessons from my more balance friends. We will explore how to make time, space and accommodations for ourselves. We will learn to relax or chillax if that’s your pleasure. Because no matter where you are, what you are doing or who you are with, this is your year!

I said it when I declared myself “Flawless and 45” and repeat it here. As life is ever-changing, I am changing my view of myself and the world. I am still a Feminist expressly, defined as “a person who believes in the Social, Political, and Economic Equality of the sexes.” I also better understand what Beyoncé may mean when she recites “Bow down” and retorts, “My Momma taught me good home training. My Daddy taught me how to love my haters. My sister taught me I should speak my mind. My man made me feel so God damn fine. I’m flawless!”

It’s my year! Make it yours too!!