Poem: Love is Our Reality



Love is our reality.
We do not have to hustle for it in this life.
No longer must we crave reciprocity
from those who are unable to love themselves.
Yearning for what we already hold in abundance,
while allowing that abundance to be depleted.
But, can anyone really “deplete” abundance?
Can love ever run out?

[I know from experience it can run cold.
Blood Ice in our veins
can make us do destructive thangs.
]

But what happens when the warmth of
a new day, a new joy, a new will emerges?
Emerges and re-minds and re-members and re-calls us back to love?
Re-news our minds and re-minds us that we are loved?
Puts us back together by re-visiting the love
we were before and the love we are now?
What happens when
love makes that long distance call
to the core of our being?
We become re-aligned to the reality
and the possibilities of us.
And that Love, the Highest Love, is our reality.

Are You Tired of Wearing a Mask?

Short on time? Feel free to copy, paste and listen to this newsletter at https://www.naturalreaders.com/online/

Hoping today’s thoughts are reaching you on a day where you and your loved ones are in good health and safe.

Speaking of the importance of safety, my message to you today comes from a place of examining safety and liberation. Let’s jump right into it…


You no doubt saw the title of this post and thought to yourself, “Kecia, are you one of those people out there screaming at the Costco (or Dollar Tree) employees talking about you’re ‘not going to wear no stinking mask?’ Because if so, Sis, your messages are now being B-L-O-C-K-E-D!”

Hold on! I’m not going there, I promise! Just let me share a quick story with you:

The Greatness of “Mother Maya”

Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of being part of a panel focused on the writings of Black womxn. Each of us chose Black womxn authors that spoke to our respective personal development journeys. It was a powerful experience to say the least. I chose to focus my reflections on my self-appointed patron saint, Dr. Maya Angelou, or as I lovingly call her within my spirit conversations, “Mother Maya.”

Maya Angelou’s words found me when I was 15-years-old and have traveled life with me for more than three decades. I have long admired her brilliance with words. However, it was the way she was able to write herself back into her personhood (while living a very colorful and well textured life) that made me love her all the more.

All that to say, I think Maya Angelou was and is the dopeness!

One of the 500 writing projects I am working on is an experience I am calling “Mother Maya and Me.” It will be a compilation of her pieces and those I have written that were inspired by her work. The two pieces I was planning to offer to the attendees of the event were two love poems: Mother Maya’s “In and Out of Time” and my poem “The Poem I Will Never Write.” I often talk about for a Poet, Love is a bonafide job requirement. However, there was a little something that happened on the way to being all lovey-dovey… 

Masked @ Birth

Prior to the event, I read in our campus communication that some of my colleagues had decided that they were no longer going to observe the COVID-19 mask mandate. I thought this was a curious stance for educators (Read: My Pandemic Pisstivity was activated). And then it fully settled into my spirit: So many of us have had to wear masks from the time we were born just to survive. How convenient it is that some people are inconvenienced by a simple piece of fabric.

Long story short, I was led to the powerful piece below by Mother Maya and my poem “The Mothers Have Come.” Trigger warning: If you are looking to keep your Sunday light, do not watch/listen to these pieces today. Save them for Monday or Tuesday afternoon.

Dr. Maya Angelou’s powerful piece, in her own voice.

All of this leads me right back to the original question I posed to you: Are you tired of wearing a mask? And to be ABUNDANTLY clear, I am referring to the mask that hides your authenticity, your character, your brilliance, your full self so that others around you will not feel threatened by your presence?

7-Questions

During my keynote address at a Womxn of Color Summit, I shared 7-Questions for the community to consider as they think about solidarity and liberation. I have tailored the questions for you/us here:


7-Questions:
Unraveling the Other Mask

  1. How do you name and claim your accomplishments?
  2. Are you able to give another Person of Color their flowers or has the training of “Competition is Good” eroded your ability to partner and praise others?
  3. How (if at all) are you mentoring the next generation of Changemakers to own their accomplishments while still supporting others, as a way to deteriorate the foundations of Impostor Syndrome?
  4. How or in what ways does caring for yourself while supporting other Leaders of Color to do the same, show up in your leadership practice?
  5. What does setting boundaries, bossing up and sitting down mean for you as a leader?
  6. What does it mean to you to be a “Good Ancestor” (originally coined by Dr. Keisha McIntosh Allen and quoted by my friend and Sister-Scholar Dr. Yolanda Sealey Ruiz)?
  7. How will you continue to interrupt and dismantle “The Oppressor Within” in order to be culturally humble enough to keep learning, even when it is hard, inconvenient and/or is time consuming?

I hope that these questions and your honest, compassionate and courageous responses will help you lift the mask of oppression, shame and fear. You deserve to breathe freely and we are grateful for your every breath! 

Have a wonderful week! 

In Solidarity.

POEM: The Solution of X

This poem was written for the 4th Annual Womxn of Color Summit at the University of San Diego.

We are not a problem to be solved.
We are, and have always been the answer.
We are both sun and moon.
We are the Spirit Dancer.
All life flows through us
whether through womb, if we choose 
or through the words that we use. 
It is within our complexities 
and the righteous indignation 
that sits at the core of our connections
that allows us to be All the Things.

For we are the teacher, the test and the lesson.
We are the music, the instruments and the jam session.
We are the stand-in and the stand alone.
We are the letters, the Word and the poem.
We are the answer to the problems that others create
especially when those problems 
were designed to determine our fate.
 

We are the timekeeper and the time stamp.
We are whatever we want to be.
We are the x that goes beyond ‘ships
we are the force that launches ships
to sail and provide refuge to the refugee.

We are the x.

We are the x between Delores Huerta and the New York Rep. A.O.C.
We are the x between Marsha P. Johnson Alicia Garza, 
Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi. 
We are the x between Cierra Fields and Madonna Thunder Hawk. 
Maria Teresa Ruiz.
Hayganush Mark. 
The Quintreman Sisters and the Williams Sisters.
Dame Katerina Te Heikôkô Mataira and Haunani-Kay Trask.
Malala Yousafzai and Henrietta Lacks.
We are the x between Yuri Kochiyama and Junko Tabei.
Zora Neale Hurston and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
We are the x between Cecilia Chung and Al-Jen Poo.
Velma R. Veloria and Fe Del Mundo.
We are the x between Fannie Lou Hamer and Tamika Mallory. 
Anacaona and Silvia Lazarte.
Melavika Kanaan and Kalpana Chawla.
King Hatshepsut and Miriam Makeba.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf  and Kenya’s Sitawa Wafula
Who spoke these words:
“Whatever you do, do not let what happened silence you.” 

It is the Intersection that is the solution.
We are fully known.
Our existence is not only the solution
It is the only way home.
We are what was and what is next.
We are the vertex. 
Womxn of Color are the apex.
We are twilight, that which intersects the night and the day.
We are the mountaintop 
that reminded Martin Luther King Jr. of the justice pathway.

We are the pinnacle, absolutely nothing can hold us down.
We are the zenith and the apogee.
We are Womxn at the Intersections
of what is
what was 
and what shall always be.

Poem: The World of A Poet

Poets. 
We are not difficult beings. 
In a world full of manufactured complexity, 
Poets are the least complicated. 
We vibe on a Love frequency. 
We are activated by Injustice. 
We are most alive in spaces where Liberation is felt.
Words intermingle with air to sustain us. 
We stay hydrated 
and love to look directly into the sunlight because, 
well, our eyes are shielded by our rose tinted glasses. 
Our words are our world.
And if you are fortunate enough, 
we will share our world with you. 

Do you know how much power your story holds?

Happy Sunday!

If you are someone who is into celebrating holidays, October 10th is the observance of the following:

  • World Mental Wellness Day
  • World Homeless [Awareness] Day
  • Pastor Appreciation Day
  • National Hug-A-Drummer Day (Who knew?)
  • National Handbag Day
  • National Cake Decorating Day

Regardless of whether you recognize any of these holidays/causes/days of appreciation, I hope you and your loved ones are healthy and safe today and always.

Today’s message is likely the shortest I’ve ever written to you.

Ummm, didn’t you say that about a previous newsletter? Whatever, I’ll let you slide today.

As always, my Inner Critic with the raw-uncut feedback.

Our Stories Are Powerful. Period.

I released the last interview of the first season of my podcast, “More Than Metaphors” last week. The conversation was with a college friend of mine who has gone on to do tremendous things, which includes being a father and husband. Some of what he shared was expected given what I knew/know of him. However, a few stories he told gave me pause and had me challenge some major assumptions I had about him and his work. His story also helped me challenge a few assumptions I had about myself.

In this conversation, “Weekend Philosopher,” Husband, Girl Dad (times 4), and NASA Astronaut, Navy Commander, Victor J. Glover, Jr. reflects on the various lessons he has learned from his elders and contemporaries. He also shares the inspiring exchange between his younger self and the person he is now that has helped him “propel” his career, as well as support the “launch” of his firstborn child into college.
 

Since I am regaining my inquisitive nature (Read: I have gotten my nosy back), I found I was left with more questions that I wished I asked during our chat. Then it dawned on me: Isn’t that what the cycle of discovery/self-discovery is supposed to do? Lead us to more questions and more discoveries?

That said, I would like to provide you with the questions I usually ask my guests. Feel free to have fun with them and answer them as if you were a guest on the podcast (you never know…). For those who have been a guest on the podcast previously, feel free to revisit the questions to see how, or in what ways (if at all) your responses have changed.


7-Questions: The Power of Your Story: The Interview

1) Tell us about yourself. What do you do and why you do all that you do?

2) What have been your biggest lessons? What have been some of the best and worst pieces of advice you have received?

3) Could you talk a bit about what grounds you/reconnects you to your humanity? What are some of the lessons you would like to share with our next generation leaders as they are looking to change the world?

4) What have been some of your “Aha!” “Oh-Yes” and/or “Wait-What?” Moments you have experienced as you support others?

5) The BIG Question - As you know, the purpose of this podcast is to explore how, or in what ways has poetry/the power of words helped people find the courage to live their “poetry” out loud (poetry in all of its many forms). With that said, what piece of writing/words of encouragement/lyric would you like to share? or Do you have a particular poem, quote or a song that motivates you or gets you in “The Zone?”

6) Given everything you have experienced, what words of encouragement would you give to your younger self as you grappled with all of the feelings, experiences, concerns, expectations you may have been balancing at the time?

7) What do you think that same young person would say to the person you are now about everything you have accomplished and are looking to accomplish?

Do you have any idea of how much power your story holds? Your story may be just what someone needs to hear to get through a trying time, go to the next level, or allow themselves to dream again.

And maybe that person is you.

Sending you thoughts of love, justice and liberation!

In Solidarity.

Poem: The Me of Now

I am becoming more and more clear on who I am becoming.
This means I have to be patient with others 
as they shift their understanding of who I am.
This time is not a journey back to me anymore.
It is me being introduced to my new self.
The Me of Now.

The Me of Now is comfortable with the way 
she wears her brand of womxnhood.
The Me of Now gets excited when she respects her own boundaries
and demonstrates to others how to respect them as well.
The Me of Now gets downright giddy each time we say “No” 
in all of the splendiferous ways we are learning to say it.

The Me of Now takes responsibility for the hurt she has caused
while simultaneously holding others accountable for their actions 
(versus self-blaming or shaming others).
The Me of Now finally understands that while 
“Hurt people, hurt people,” that 
“Healing people are hurt people working towards a do-over,”
so compassion for self and others is crucial.

The Me of Now is still a bit clunky and shaky, 
like the legs of a baby colt.
However, the Me of Now is becoming more steady.
More focused.
More ready.
More available to Loving Guidance 
during the next part of this journey.

I see you, Me of Now.
Welcome Home.

Do You Have A “Love Space?”

I hope you and those you love are healthy and safe as we prepare to part ways with August and welcome the month of September. 

Before I get into today’s message, I would like to send prayers of love and protection to everyone impacted by the events in Afghanistan. Whether you are a member of the U.S. military or an Afghan citizen wanting to find refuge for you and your loved ones, may “…the peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:6-7)” fall upon you as you seek safety. 

With everything going on right now, including the focus on returning to “business as usual” during these highly unusual times, I am focusing my email today on creating a different kind of safety, a spiritual and emotional place of respite that we all have the power to create. So let’s get into it…

Love and Change

This past week, I was blessed to talk to four very different groups that are gearing up to lead in their respective areas of influence. In all four discussions, I talked about Love and/or Spirituality as strategy for navigating all of the destruction that surrounds us. What I was saying wasn’t new or groundbreaking. My memory immediately pulls up files of the Civil Rights Movement and images of strategy sessions. Loving fellowship was always at the core of those meetings. No, not a group of “perfect people” trying to one-up each other. Regular people who wanted to see love in the form of justice lived out in the world. But, before they could love on the world, they had to love on each other and that required sharing love and space.

What is a”Love Space?”

A Love Space is an emotional, physical, spiritual, intellectual, space of rejuvenation. In this space, one’s personhood is welcomed and continuously validated. It is a place to restore one’s sense of purpose, gain perspective, and revive courage in order for the person(s) to move forward with the work of countering hegemonic, demonic, and pathologic forms of social dis-ease.

I developed this definition while designing a program for adult learners in Boston back in 2013. The term “Love Space” was being used to describe what the learning environment should “feel like.” Creating this nurturing environment was in addition to providing content to support the community members in being successful as classroom teaching assistants. There was no formal definition or description provided, but what was said about a Love Space was simply “You know it when you feel it.”

What does this definition have to do with dealing with the experiment of going back into the office, sending young children back to school, and leading life in a time where everything that is anything is a boiling hot mess?

“An emotional, physical, spiritual, intellectual, space of rejuvenation. In this space, one’s personhood is welcomed and continuously validated. It is a place to restore one’s sense of purpose, gain perspective, and revive courage in order for the person(s) to move forward with the work of countering hegemonic, demonic, and pathologic forms of social dis-ease.”

Definition of “Love Space.” Dr. Kecia Brown, 2013.

Do You Have A “Love Space?”

Oppressive systems must be dismantled. Periodt (For those who may be unfamiliar with that hard ass “t” added to the word “Period” is to denote an added layer of emphasis per Tyler Perry’s beloved “Madea”). And our righteous indignation (which is fueled by love) has us look at oppression with an expression that says “Is that the best you’ve got?!?”

Septima Clark and Rosa Parks at the Highlander’s Citizenship School Program; the epitome of a “Love Space.”

When we embody and are surrounded by Love, we create solutions that seem unfathomable. When we are overtaken by the Spirit of Love, we never give up on the idea that change is possible. When we know that Love is the only answer, we don’t get tripped up by the world’s questions. When you are in a Love Space, you know it and you feel it, because it fuels you.

A Love Space situates you right back into your divine essence over and over and over again.

Look, I’m not totally naive here. Sharing in a Love Space with other people is not going to be perfect. Sometimes it is clunky as hell and can be downright hard to watch. Oh, but the benefits are soooooooooooooo worth it!

As you go about your week, please make time to be nurtured by those in your Love Space. If you do not have a Love Space just yet, give yourself permission to develop one made up of those you love (and who love you back) and who will provide sound counsel. Consider adding the spiritual guidance of the Ancestors to your Love Space as well! Some of their written and spoken words are just a Google search away!

I hope you have a wonderful week! Sending you love from afar and wishing you continued health and safety as you work towards love, justice and liberation!

In Solidarity,

Poem: The I Am Within

I am more than my feelings.
I am more than resentment and bitterness.
My timeless smile and unreserved laughter reminds me of that fact.

I am every “No” my Mother Ancestors were robbed of uttering.

I am an electric spirit.
I am love and courage.
I am passion and joy.
I am the force behind the waves of the deepest oceans.

I am contradictions and compliments.
I am impenetrable and porous.
I am the creator of Daughters of the Moon 
and Sons of the Sun.
I am distantly present and
present in my aloofness.

I am the bittersweetness that lies
at the very moment of impact 
between Agony and Ecstasy.

I am the quintessence of creating more with less.

I 
Am 
More.

Nothing less.

7 Questions: Thriving

It’s May! Happy Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month!

So, this is the first post (I believe) where I start off with the 7 Questions. Given EVERYTHING that is going on around us, the idea of healing and thriving have been center-stage for me. I asked Yolanda the “thriving” question during our conversation (Timestamp 7:26 – 11:03) and now I am digging deeper. I would love for you to dig deep with me and ask yourself these questions:

  1. How do I define “Thriving?” Do I know what thriving is for myself? Others? 
  2. Have I ever seen people thriving, i.e. do I recognize what thriving looks like (No, not InstaThriving/social media-esque thriving, the real thing)? 
  3. As I continue to interrogate myself (Cornel West via A. Rafik Mohamed Ep. 12 timestamp 31:22 – 32:11) and exorcize the internalized messages of oppression – stereotype threat, impostor syndrome, etc.), what hard truths do I need to hear in order to embrace what it means to thrive? 
  4. Who do I trust in my Circle of Support who will tell me these hard truths in order to help me/us move forward?
  5. If thriving is new to me, what can I do to not self-sabotage out of fear of experiencing something outside of the toxic, trauma-filled norm?
  6. What are ways I can support the thriving of those dearest to me? 
  7. How am I celebrating with those who are thriving and not letting my Inner Critic dampen the moment out of fear or questioning my worthiness to thrive?

Last week, my clients and students reminded me what thriving in spite and despite the oppressive conditions surrounding us looks like. My students found a way to enjoy each others joy and brilliance in a socially distant way and reflected on what it means to be Scholars of Color. My clients are confidently redefining what success and wealth building look like to them, and my daughter is finding great joy in making her racist teacher more upset as she is progressing in her schoolwork (Hey, motivation is motivation).

However you define your “win,” let it empower you to dream bigger and dream in honor of those who are thriving through you: 

Ma’Khia Bryant, Jacqueline Polk, Sandra Bland, Atatiana Jefferson, Breonna Taylor, Andrew Brown, Jr., Daunte Wright, George Floyd, Adam Toledo, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Philando Castile and way too many/too painful to list.

As Beyoncé said in her beautiful song Bigger “life is your birthright they hid that in the fine print.”

Because it’s Beyoncé

Not only is living your birthright, but so is the audacity to radically love, thrive and liberate while being liberated. 

 Hold fast to your Birthright.

In Solidarity,

P.s. For anyone in the mood for a little poetry, take a look at one of my latest pieces for my 4th book “Emancipation Papers.” The poem is titled “The Road Home.”

Fire Lit: The More Than Metaphors Podcast

As we “close out” Black History Month and welcome Women’s History Month, I am excited to announce my new podcast! I have been incubating this idea since summer 2019 with an anticipated launch of November 2019. By the time the holidays came in the U.S., I redirected my energy towards finishing out the rest of the year with a focus on my family and recommitting to new projects for 2020.

You don’t even have to say it…

For those of you who read my post “When Regret Teaches, Take Notes,” you already know that the lesson of waiting until I have everything in order, hit hard. Just as I tell my students and my clients, do not wait until you have everything “perfect.” Have a plan, absolutely. Do your research, without question. AND there will be times when you have to step out and trust that even if you do not have everything figured out now, opportunities, resources and people will greet you on your path (some call that taking a risk, others may say you’re stepping out on faith, while others call it stepping into the flow). So shine up those shoes, Dorothy and get to moving down that yellow brick road!

That is what I am doing right now, “easing on down the road” and I am looking forward to bringing you the podcast “More Than Metaphors.” Here’s the description:

“More Than Metaphors” is a virtual love space for those poetic and poetic-ish voices to examine the question: What happens when we find the courage to live our poetry out loud? A conversation led by Author, Educator, Entrepreneur and Poet Dr. Kecia Brown (“Dr. Kecia”); More Than Metaphors combines guest interviews and posts from Dr. Kecia’s blog which focuses on transformative learning, love, justice, and liberation. Each episode of this podcast will provide encouragement for leading more meaningful, spirited and poetic lives.

I want to thank my Sisterfriend, Author, Poet, Scholar and full-time Goddess, Dr. Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz for lighting a fire under me. She has been talking to me about all the things I can do to support the learning of others on a larger scale for quite some time now. The ideas sounded amazing…and time consuming. However, when you watch other people making the moves that you are “too tired” to make, a few things happen to you: 1) you become inspired, 2) you become afraid, or 3) you become a hater. Since I had been hanging out in the “afraid” category for a minute, I had two more choices. Since Yolie (as she is known by those close to her) has spoken into my spirit more times than I can count, being a part of her hateratti didn’t appeal to me. So, inspired and afraid is what we are working with for now.

I will be selecting a few posts from the blog to get us started. It would be great to hear from you on the ones that you want to see brought into the podcast! feel free to leave a comment below or email me directly: dr.kecia@drkeciab.com with your suggestions.

Never miss an episode

Subscribe wherever you enjoy podcasts:

In the meantime, enjoy my intro music created by Tim Moor.

Thank you all for your support! Let’s continue learning, thriving and moving towards liberation, together!

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