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Practicing Authenticity

A few years ago I made a promise to myself that I would be my most authentic self at all times. This happened as a result of me feeling kind of resentful that the people around me seemed to think they “knew” me and would try to inject that knowledge into my life at various times. Once I got past being annoyed, I realized that it wasn’t just happening to me. This happens to everyone and there is no real way to make people stop doing this.

However, I realized that the one thing I could do to manage this was to make it a point to be myself authentically at all times. So when someone tries to tell me who I am, I can receive the information and recognize that it’s simply how they see me based on their own lens of experience.

That was an empowering thought and I began to do it right away. But after doing it, I began to notice that while being my authentic self is important, it’s not always easy to do. I know that may sound odd because who else should you be but yourself?

But I did learn that authenticity, like many other things, is a practice. The more you practice it, the better you will get at it. I’ve made some videos about this very topic. Since I’ve come to fully accept and realize that authenticity is a practice, I will make more videos to accompany this one.

I would love to hear your thoughts. Please join me on this journey into practicing authenticity.

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I’m a Warrior!!

This past Sunday (May 20, 2012), I participated in Warrior Dash. According to the website, Warrior Dash is, a mud-crawling, fire-leaping, extreme 5k run from hell. So…

When I saw this, I just knew it would be something I wanted to do. I started training in January and financially committed in March. I trained by running two to three times a week and doing other workouts like some of Jillian Michaels’ DVDs and other things. My main goal was to get my stamina up so that I could run the length of the race with general ease. As a 5k that means it is 3.2-3.5 miles long with obstacles along the way.

So last Sunday, me and my mom drove two hours up to Rabun County, Georgia and assembled with several hundred (maybe a thousand) people who were there to either participate in the craziness or root for someone participating in the craziness. My heat was at 2pm so I registered and then enjoyed the party while I waited to race. Like to see it? Here it goes!

Now that I’ve done one mud run, I’m itching to do another one. I feel very accomplished after having done this race and I’m excited to continue on this path to fitness. I look forward to climbing more mountains and doing more mud races!

If you’re feeling adventurous, here’s the website www.warriordash.com.

emotional laziness

Emotional Laziness

I have a friend who I consider my emotional hero. We’ve had many conversations about our beliefs and how we think we should conduct ourselves as women but recently I’ve really seen her put her words into action.

On two separate occasions (that I witnessed directly), she was put in a position where she had to make a tough decision. She’s had to deal with people in a way that made her vulnerable and opened her up to lots of different outcomes. In one situation, she had to share some really bad news with someone that she knows. Then she had to have a very direct and open conversation with someone else.

She approached these situations head on and dealt with them in an almost fearless way. I know she wasn’t comfortable doing what she did, but she did it anyway because she felt she had to. But she didn’t actually have to. Her life would not have stopped if she’d decided to stay within herself and not reach out to these people. However, her spirit led her to be emotionally courageous. She put on her big girl panties and stepped up to the plate.

This is a prime example of someone who chooses not to be emotionally lazy. She did the tough thing and was appreciated for it. Emotional laziness is when you are given a choice. In one instance, you can step outside of yourself and confront a tough issue head on. In another instance, you can choose to keep your thoughts and actions to yourself because you don’t want to “be the bad guy” or “cause a confrontation”. Choosing option 2 is emotionally lazy. It’s like when you exercise. Either you dive in and give it your all no matter how uncomfortable it is or you phone it in and do the bare minimum.

People who give it their all look and feel great. They experience increased fitness levels and ultimately begin to enjoy the activity. People who phone it in stay the same. They may have a slight change in fitness level but they won’t see real results. These are the people who may complain that they work out all the time but never seem to lose weight. Emotional laziness is the same. Your growth is stunted when you phone it in.

This is something that I just noticed and I want to know if it’s just me or do other people notice it too. Are there situations that you’ve noticed where someone was emotionally lazy? What was the outcome?

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Please don’t turn Sept. 11 into a holiday!!

Sept. 11 is a day that gives me mixed feelings. Usually I’m fairly numb to the ceremonies of remembrance an the media storm that surrounds the day but this year I was angered by everything.

See, I was in New York on Sept. 11.

It was my first trip to New York (a city that I have always been intrigued by and couldn’t wait to visit) and I was there working on a concert tour. I was so excited and overwhelmed by everything already. We were staying at the Hilton in Times Square which was across from the venue that the concert was going to be at. I was up that morning getting dressed to go run some errands with the show’s stylist and I was watching Good Morning America when everything happened.

Thank goodness I had the initial presence of mind to call my mom as soon as everything happened because not long afterwards, the phones were useless. The lines were tied up on cell phones and land line phones. the only things that really worked were two way pagers. It was one of the loneliest times I’d ever experienced. I was up there with people who weren’t my family and that I hadn’t known for long. They were nice people but when there is a major crisis going on, I want to be surrounded by familiar people. I was pretty much alone with my Stephen King novel, Dreamcatcher.

Myself and some people who were also up there for the concert were able to catch a ride on a party bus that had been sent up from Atlanta with some people from New York on it. Since the planes were grounded, this was the only way we could get home.

10 years later, I still haven’t really dealt with the day and how it made me feel and how subsequent things that have happened since made me feel either. But this year, I felt like the “coverage” of Sept. 11 was bordering on inappropriate. I know it was the 10 year anniversary but it started to feel like the day was being commercialized. People seemed to think they needed to be sad to properly honor the day and everyone was scrambling to share their Sept. 11 stories.

I understand the gravity of the day and what it represents but I don’t think I will be very happy if I start seeing Sept. 11 greeting cards.

That would be too much.

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When life gives you limes…

In the last couple of months, I have gone through quite a few changes financially and health wise. Without going into the gory details, I’ll just say that I’ve had two hospital visits, one for emergency surgery. Under normal circumstances, this wouldn’t be a huge financial issue but I do not have medical insurance so all of these new bills are falling on me. It’s a stressful situation in itself, not counting the other stressors I encounter as a full time freelance consultant who works in the video production industry in Atlanta.

However, in spite of occasional bouts of frustration, I have remained generally calm in a period where a complete freak out would be entirely understandable. I think I can give credit to a decision I made a few years ago when I was in a tough spot and I was about to spiral into a full scale freak out.

I took a deep breath and let it go.

I knew that there wasn’t a lot I could do about the situation at the time aside from what I was doing and stressing myself out was only making me uncomfortable and unable to enjoy when things were going well. So I let it go and it allowed me to breathe again. Now don’t get me wrong, my problems didn’t vanish but my stress became much more manageable because I stopped trying to control uncontrollable things.

So when I started getting sick, I had equipped myself with the emotional tool to not make things worse by adding stress to the equation. Plus, in the time that I was forced to take things easy and back off of being consumed by growing my business. I’ve had some time to really think and am in the process of making some important life decisions. I doubt I would be taking this time if I hadn’t become sick so although my becoming ill was not a desirable situation, it is creating some much needed clarity.

So really this post is just a long way of me saying that this journey to entrepreneurship and happiness can be challenging but not impossible as long as you’re able to be honest with yourself. So, when life gives you limes, don’t adopt the sour face. Make margaritas (virgin or alcoholic) or take tequila shots!

Entrepreneurship is like Theater feat. Jeffrey Wright

This morning I was poking around this interesting website www.bigthink.com. I discovered it thanks to a fabulous blog, Creatives Culture, written by Wanda Weithers, a cool lady who is currently following her creative dreams. I’ve been in a rut lately and working to push myself to take those necessary next steps on the path to my destiny. While she shared a different video in this post: Is Your Big Idea Worth Sharing?, I came across the below video and thought it a wonderful thought for the week. Even if you don’t have your own business, the spirit of entrepreneurship can be created as an employer as well. Enjoy!

Tyler Perry vs. Spike Lee

First off all, why does it have to be versus? Clearly both of these gentlemen are filmmakers who create films for different audiences. Tyler Perry got his start with comedy and Spike Lee with socially conscious, artsy films. Why is it that people are intent on pitting them against each other?

I’ve seen several Spike Lee films and I’ve seen several Tyler Perry films. I can see the merit in both and I appreciate that we have this type of diversity in mainstream black cinema (even though I do miss the Spike Lee voice since Miracle at St. Anna in 2008). However, there is still a very small number of black filmmakers contributing to mainstream cinema. Yes we have Rainforest Films (go Rattlers!), F. Gary Gray, John Singleton and The Hughes Brothers to name a few but the list could be much longer. There are a lot of black people making films but unfortunately many of those films are relegated to the art house and never have the opportunity to be exposed to a larger audience.

There are many reasons for this, but the one that I’ve heard most frequently is that “black people don’t support black films”. Well black people go see Tyler Perry films and it led to his newest film Madea’ s Big Happy Family being expected to be number one on opening weekend. Now it was edged out by the animated film, Rio but ultimately it made $25.1 million opening weekend coming in number two. I remember a time when it was a victory when a black film made the top ten its opening weekend and now we have films like Madea’s Big Happy Family and Takers (which made $20.5 million and was number one it’s opening weekend) showing that black films can bring in the audiences.

This is amazing and rather than comparing the black filmmakers that are able to have that kind of success, we should celebrate them and support other black filmmakers. What Tyler Perry does is needed. Some people need to see films where black people can be redeemed as long as they believe in God, family and themselves. There is nothing wrong with that. So what, Tyler Perry has a character that wears a dress? There are plenty of actors that have donned a dress for a film. Dustin Hoffman (Tootsie), Robin Williams (Mrs. Doubtfire), John Travolta (Mrs. Edna Turnblad) and Nathan Lane (Starina) have all dressed as women in film so what Tyler Perry is doing as Madea isn’t a big stretch.

The cool thing about having free will is that you don’t have to go see Tyler Perry’s films if you don’t want to. Personally, I prefer action films, horror movies and thrillers so I’m much more apt to see a Rainforest Films or Hughes brothers production over a Tyler Perry film. But this doesn’t mean I feel the need to compare Tyler Perry’s films to the ones produced by Rainforest or the Hughes brothers.

Black people, let’s celebrate the increase in successful black production companies in Hollywood and enjoy the diversity rather than making negative comparisons.

Uninspired Ramblings of Pure Inspiration