I wrote this speech 5 years ago while I was serving as Vice President. Today 5 years later and after 10 years of membership, my heart still warmly resides within the walls and amongst the ghosts.
If you enjoy the article, please share and sign up for future posts from The Brief Chronicles blog. As the Publisher I’m very proud of this blog and its content creators. Especially my Editor Tom Dupree, it wouldn’t happen without him!
So, I am embarking on a new journey and I’m asking you to come with me. I will be reaching out via Facebook and Twitter asking for your input to help me with a new interdisciplinary art project entitled, Who Am I?
I wrote a poem I have yet to share, I will at some point but not yet. It is one I wrote while researching Langston Hughes, one that reached down into the depths of me and my past to share my history, my journey and who I am becoming.
Oddly as an artist, I started this way. My foundation was visual art then I discovered theatre and fell in love. I became passionate about stories and in doing so loved disassembling them and re-envisioning them while mixing disciplines. I always wanted live music, dance, startling visuals, powerful words and voices. I wanted to make a physically emotional impact with my art.
I am here again, starting again but in a whole new way. I am a producer, I underlined that because over the past couple of years I constantly wanted to avoid the term. So many were looking to me as a producer and somehow it made me feel as though it subtracted the “art” from what I was doing. Now I am seeing it differently. I am embracing this talent and understanding its strength. I have the ability to bring together a vision and people to make something noteworthy and extraordinary. For the first time in a long time I am incredibly exhilarated and inspired.
Funny enough, it is the subject of this project that has made me look back and look deep. To ask, why I have made certain choices? Why do I question what I do? Sadly I have a deeply personal admission: my body image keeps me from my success. There I said it! What seems to be such a simple issue, one I have been ashamed of because it feels so trivial, but in actuality is so commanding that it holds me back from everything I know I am capable of. I have to reach inward and ask sincerely, why?
I have spent a lifetime working to be the “image” of myself I have created in my head. My personal expectations of myself have only continued to become less attainable. The tedious phrase, “If I…then…” has played on repeat in brain for more years than I’d like to admit. The reality I am facing now is that by not accepting myself as I am today imperfections and all, I am disrespecting everything I have worked so hard for and negating everything I have achieved in my life. Sadly this only perpetuates my perceived personal failure that I have seemed somehow determined to achieve.
Its time to change and my change must start with me.
Who am I? How many women ask themselves this question not because they are in a transition, but because they looked in a mirror and made a judgment of themselves that they carry with them throughout the day, each day. Today I am fat, yesterday I was my hair or my skin, the day before my shoes and so on. This mirror we seek our reflection in is not real, but the reflection promoted to us by the media and the brainwashing we have done to ourselves in our denial; too dark, too light, too fat, too thin, too old, too young. When are WE enough?
It doesn’t seem to matter how many forms of proof they show us that airbrushing is rampant and inexcusable, that celebrities wear hair extensions, that “natural” is a color we paint on and no longer what we actually are? We need to stop seeing our reflections on the television and in magazines; comparing ourselves only to the “idealistic” forms sold to us. Its time to start looking around at the beautiful, real people who live among us every day.
Today I choose to step up, look in the mirror and not see only what I look like but who I am; a talented leader, artist, performer and activist. This is not easy to do I wish I could say it is, but I am saying for the first time with true conviction that I will fight each day for myself. To look in the mirror and silence the voice of irrationality and say out loud that I am ready to accept the awesomeness of simply being me!
The Who Am I? project is about women; how we are seen in society and by ourselves. It is about how we affect men and how they affect us. It is about communication. It is about embracing our personal, individual power while opening our minds and sharing ourselves, our truth with the world. Beauty has so much less to do with what we look like and so much more to do with the light we shine, the light we can only ignite if we are willing to release falsehoods and accept the magic of who we are. This takes time and dedication BUT this will change our lives and every life we touch.
Please take this journey with me and look in the mirror and ask each day, Who am I? Then remember who you really are.
Please watch this inspiring video of Lupita Nyong’os‘ speech from the Essence Magazine Awards. It is both heartbreaking and rejuvenating. I watched this and couldn’t help but cry because I remember asking god to give me the strength to change and be something different from what I was not because I was bad, but simply because I believed I wasn’t good enough. I know so many young girls have done this over and over and the older I get the more devastating it is. Society needs to start teaching our children, girls and boys this definition of beauty Lupita talks about and stop perpetuation the deception that breeds self-hatred. We as human beings deserve more.
To be a part of the Who am I? project follow along with this blog as well as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest . I will be sharing what inspires me in this process as well as requesting input and participation. Also, please share #WhoamI?Project
There is something about sitting in the grass or an Adirondack chair on a sunny day with the mountains or a lake in site. I go there in my mind when I can. It’s a memory, but also a vision. A vision I use when my mind gets lost in some messed up version of my day.
It would be amazing to wake up each morning and sit on that grass, do yoga and meditate as the birds serenade and the wind blows seductively against my skin; a kiss of cool in the warmth of the sun. Or to sit in the night looking at the stars, the soft music of the trees whistling. Laughing with friends and loved ones.
It is possible.
They say that balance is a myth. Is calm a myth as well? Perhaps constant calm would be boring, perhaps it doesn’t exist? I have found it here and there and it is wondrous! To feel my own breath, for my brain to be quiet and my body accepting in its groundedness.
It is possible.
Why do we fight what is in our own hearts? Why do we not just dance with joy at the challenges? Why is suffering in our nature…or should say, my nature. Who am I to speak for others, though I know so many in lust with chaos. Those are them that I’d love to dance with, to engage and share a calmness with.
Imagine a shared moment; quiet and without expectation or limits. What a dance that is.
It is possible.
Calm is not just the grass. It’s a state of being; an acceptance of the moment. It is a willingness to release the struggle, the chaos – to hand over the reins and say…”okay…” and for that moment to truly know; I’m okay right now. I’m okay as I am. I am enough.
“Words are things. You must be careful, careful about calling people out of their names, using racial pejoratives and sexual pejoratives and all that ignorance. Don’t do that. Some day we’ll be able to measure the power of words. I think they are things. They get on the walls. They get in your wallpaper. They get in your rugs, in your upholstery, and your clothes, and finally in to you.”
This past year has been an interesting one for me, especially when it comes to words. I have discovered I am a quote addict. I love words that fill me with emotion any emotion, but especially the types that drive me forward and make me see the world through fresh eyes, realistic eyes, eyes that know life is so much more than the fairytale we THINK we want to live. Life is simply life and it is an amazing gift that we owe to ourselves and others to share.
My rediscovery of poetry started with fiction, I gobbled down the GAME OF THRONES Series (“Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armour yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.” ― George R.R. Martin), breathed in THE HUNGER GAMES books (“What I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses. That it can be good again.” ― Suzanne Collins) and infused DIVERGENT series (“There are so many ways to be brave in this world. Sometimes bravery involves laying down your life for something bigger than yourself, or for someone else. Sometimes it involves giving up everything you have ever known, or everyone you have ever loved, for the sake of something greater. But sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it is nothing more than gritting your teeth through pain, and the work of every day, the slow walk toward a better life. That is the sort of bravery I must have now.” ― Veronica Roth).
I’m constantly searching for quotes on life and inspiration and collecting them in Pinerest along with beautiful art infectious colors and fascinating characters. I found Rumi – “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”, Mahatma Gandhi–“Nobody can hurt me without my permission.”, Mother Teresa–“Do not think that love in order to be genuine has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired. Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”, Martin Luther King Jr–“Let no man pull you so low as to hate him.”, Mary Oliver – “I tell you this to break your heart, by which I mean only that it break open and never close again to the rest of the world.”, Walt Whitman–“A writer can do nothing for men more necessary, satisfying, than just simply to reveal to them the infinite possibilities of their own souls” and William Wordsworth (what a great name for a writer!) – “Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.”,Johann Wolfgang von Goethe –“At the moment of commitment the entire universe conspires to assist you.”…Maya Angelou –“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” and so many more.
I found the video above in my search and it made me pause; pause and think about the words I use, how I speak and who I want to be as I walk through this world. I don’t know I would or could live up to Ms. Angelou; her strength, integrity and conviction are astounding, but it is something I strive to.
I’m almost ashamed to admit that I am newcomer to Maya Angelou. Most people I hear or read about have been reading her work for decades. And I say “almost” ashamed because truly I’m not, I am excited that I found her, discovered her, listened to her while she still walked this earth. And I am saddened that no more words will come forth to breathe life into our weary minds. Yet her voice remains, as does her teachings and the philosophies she has passed to us and I am excited that I have so much more to discover.
On finding her Voice:
I for the first time in years in so many ways have found my voice!
This is something I wrote inspired by Ms. Angelou’s view on the power of words. The more books I read and quotes I acquire, the more my voice longs to sing as the caged bird does because deep down I know I, like everyone who walks this earth, has something important to say.
“I want to write. To remember how to write and know that my words are filled with love and hope and imagination. Every word is a gift given and taken. Choose them wisely. Share them openly. Write them, speak them, listen to them read them for they are the breath through which we interpret life!”
In this blog I have a Mission page. This page is filled with the inspiring words of amazing women. I hope you will take a moment to read the compilation that fuels my life. I have discovered that what I say determines so much; my reactions, my solutions. If my words are negative, my anger grows it feeds itself. If my words are positive, supportive and kind I am able to find the good in whatever I’m doing. It is us who have the answer for ourselves. We can guide our lives in one direction or another.
Thank you Maya for teaching me the enormity of what I say and how it determines and drives what I believe.
I choose my words with care and love; these words define me.
On being Human Maya shares…
When Great Trees Fall
When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.
When great trees fall
small things recoil into silence,
eroded beyond fear.
When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
gnaws on kind words
Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
dependent upon their
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of dark, cold
And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.”
― Maya Angelou
At my age now I have recently discovered that what I really am in this moment is a teenage girl searching for who she wants to be in this world. I see this in the books that excite me like HUNGER GAMES and DIVERGENT series where young women are strong both physically and morally; girls who change the world for having the courage to trust and be themselves. The grown up side is reading LEAN IN and THE POWER OF 2; leadership books that help me find the power within myself to both inspire and be inspired. I find myself seeking inspiration and motivation to be a better person making choices that empower me and those around me.
I want to grow beyond myself.
I don’t necessarily think this is an odd search at my age, but it is oddly unfamiliar. I think in the past, I thought I knew what this meant; now I KNOW what it means and that knowledge somehow makes it scarier and more inspiring all at once.
When we’re young we are daring in a ways we lose as adults. Everything is a discovery because its the first time. As an adult WE KNOW. We know the consequences and the possibilities. We’ve made so many of these mistakes already.
I find at times its harder when you KNOW or at least think you do. Your inhibitions are lassoed. But here is the real recent discovery, or should I say rediscovery. Its ALWAYS the first time ANYTIME because no matter what each time is new, and different things can happen. I think we spend so much time telling ourselves I KNOW that we forget that there is opportunity for change and reinvention in every action.
I’m not saying that the concept of perfecting an act isn’t true. But think about it, in every practice session there is the opportunity for new insight, for new and more efficient skills and yes for something to go wrong, something unpredictable.
Perhaps your practicing your sword juggling act for the theatre festival next week. You’ve taken the time to build your skills and perfect your act. You haven’t dropped a sword in 3 years.
Now your outside in a crowd, the stakes are high…you drop a sword! The skills you’ve built through hours and hours of practice ensure you react quickly, instinctively. No one gets hurt. BUT, you dropped the sword. Here’s the question: Is that the end or is it an opportunity?
Yes consequences will be had; worst case, the loss of the job, best case you work it into the act and all believe it was on purpose.
I am sad today. There is sadness in the air. I have friends who have lost loved ones and pets, there is illness all around and there are people I love so dearly that are lost. I’ve worked so hard for so many years to not be sad, yet today I must admit I am. I am lucky that it doesn’t go to my core, that I can lift myself up and ask for hugs and supportive words and they are there. But what for those who cannot hear them?
Life is such an adventure, but it does need skills to navigate. There are storms and death, loss and fear; but there is also hope and peace. I remember times when I thought peace was not to be a part of my adventure that it was for those who seemed perky and fun, those who learned to laugh and play. But that changed. I remember they day I said to myself why not me? At that moment an opportunity posed itself. The simple opportunity to find the good in what was happening in my life. Once I saw that, all of a sudden opportunities were everywhere, it was frightening.
I started to ask myself…were these opportunities here before? I realized that, yes…they were but my eyes were closed, my heart was shut off and my body shut down. All of a sudden in my life opportunity was everywhere, almost overwhelming me. What do I do, which do I choose, do I take them all…wait…I Am Afraid. WHY?
Fear: an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.
Amazing “an unpleasant emotion”. This is what keeps us from living our lives, our truth and often from being happy. The scary part of this is that what we fear is ourselves. We are so afraid of being uncomfortable we don’t allow ourselves to live, to be free. We fear what we would be if we could and yet, that’s all most people say they want. Life can be uncomfortable, yes. I will wholeheartedly admit that. But it is working through the discomfort that helps us get through the next. Each time things get a little easier and sometimes....sometimes we grow to find joy in the challenges. We learn the difference between discomfort and danger. We begin to trust our instinct and avoid “fight or flight” and instead stand tall and observe, deciding to make a choice to stay or go, to stop or run, to laugh or cry and most importantly to be okay with that.
I have learned to stop, to take a moment and breathe. To ask myself “are you okay?” What is really happening, am I simply afraid because I do not know? I am not always successful, but what I am is alive. I am living and breathing and taking chances simply because they are there for me to take; because that is what it means to be alive.
I am sad today for those going through loss. I am sad today for those with no hope. I am sad today for people I love. I am sad today for not being able to fix it for you all.
Look up. Breathe. Stand tall. Take the time to laugh…or cry. See the opportunities floating by. Hold tight to the love and not the pain. Remember that you are a gift to everyone around you and those those you lost were a gift to you that will always hold space in your heart.
May laughter and love embed itself in you today, tomorrow and whenever you choose to embrace it.
That something that keeps us moving forward toward our destination our goals our fantasies our lives our dreams. We keep moving forward always stepping toward something bigger than ourselves, than where we are now. It is a force. It is a moment. Each step a significant happening, pushing us, driving us, making us more than we ever thought we could be.