Continuing our Conversation with Lorna Simpson

Dear Readers,

We hope that you have enjoyed our posts on the work and career of acclaimed artist and photographer Lorna Simpson.

In the coming days, we will share our last installment – for now – of Ms. Simpson’s great work.  Remember, what we have shared with you these past few weeks is only a glimpse of her career that spans several decades.

Today we thought you might enjoy this video of Ms. Simpson’s Tedx Met Talk from last year.

Remember, it starts with a dream so stay inspired.  Stay tuned for the rest of the story.  As always, please remember to tell us what you think.


Brooklyn Legends Inspirations IV – Am I Helpful?

Dear Readers,

Happy Sunday.  I hope that you were able to enjoy this beautiful day.

imageIn this month’s issue of O, The Oprah Magazine, I came across the article that many in my circle are talking about – 20 Questions Every Woman Should Ask Herself.  I put off reading the it for a couple of days but, finally, curiosity overruled.  So, with my iPad in hand, I settled in for the journey.

Halfway through the article, I had a real ah-ha moment.  Who better to bring that about than Gloria Steinem.  I have reproduced the article here for you to enjoy, but I wanted to share my takeaway with you, right up front.

I began by asking myself this question – am I helpful to others?  Before I can make an impact, I must listen and hear the other person’s problem and respect their point of view.  The frame, or context if I use Gloria Steinem’s word, is everything.  Without this understanding, I do not have a clue as to what I am doing, or why I am doing it.  The person with the problem instinctively knows what is needed.  It always comes down to identifying proper resources.  Over the years I have grown to learn solutions can come in the simplest forms.  My job is to do whatever I can to be helpful, without judgement.


Question #10 – Am I Helpful?

Gloria Steinem, journalist, author, Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient and member of the steering committee of the women’s activist fundraising platform.

April 2014

A few years ago, after visiting Ghana for a conference on sex trafficking, I traveled to Zambia to stay with some friends who live on the Zambezi River. It’s a rural place, full of big-game preserves and small villages where daily life is a struggle. When I arrived, villagers were mourning two women who had gone into Lusaka to prostitute themselves and support their families—and disappeared.

On a big tarpaulin laid out in a barren field, I sat with 30 or so village women in a circle. Talking circles are powerful things—they’ve given birth to countless activist movements, even revolutions. On this occasion, though, I thought our lives would be too different for us to connect. And at first, shyness did prevail. The language barrier made things difficult. But then the women sang a song, and my inability to carry a tune made them laugh. One of the English-speaking friends I was staying with sang “This Little Light of Mine,” and others translated its lyrics. And then a woman from the village told a story. With tears in her eyes, she said she was a widow who only now felt safe enough to reveal that her husband had beaten her.

As is often the case, that one truth teller broke the spell. Other women began to talk about their lives. Many of their husbands worked in lodges where tourists came to see wildlife, but the lodges didn’t hire women. These families couldn’t meet the cost of living or cover what was to the women the most important expense: their children’s school fees. Many wives contributed by farming, but as soon as their vegetable crops were near harvesting, elephants would eat them to the ground. And so with no other option available to them, some women sold their bodies.

The situation seemed hopeless. But when I asked what would help, the answer was surprising: an electrified fence to keep out the elephants. Back in New York, a few friends helped me raise the money to build one. I received updates from the villagers: [there] was a photo of the area the women had cleared, by hand, of rocks and stumps and weeds; [there] was a photo of the finished product, fresh shoots of maize starting to take shape behind it.

When I went back the next year, the women had harvested a bumper crop of maize. They had food for a year, plus extra to sell to pay their children’s school fees. Before I spoke to them, if you’d asked me how to stop sex trafficking in this village, never would I have said, “Find a way to keep elephants out of their gardens.”

I call this story the parable of the fence, and these are its lessons: Helping begins with listening. Context is everything. People who experience a problem know best how to solve it. Big problems often have small solutions. And, finally, do whatever you can.

I’ve done what I thought were big things, like testifying before Congress, that had no impact at all. And I’ve done little things I don’t even remember doing, like introducing two people, that I would later discover had made an impact lasting decades. That night on the tarp beside the Zambezi, I had no idea what remarkable things would come of our talk. The art of being helpful is behaving as if everything we do matters—because we never know which things might.

Pinterest -

Pinterest –


O, The Oprah Magazine, April 2014
Photos – credit is captured in each photo caption.

Introducing…Lorna Simpson

Dear Readers,

Throughout this month, we will share highlights of the amazing work of renown Brooklyn artist and photographer, Lorna Simpson.

The world was exposed to Lorna Simpson’s brilliance in the mid-1980s. During this period in her life, she would create large-scale photograph-and-text-works that confronted and challenged narrow, conventional views of gender, identity, culture, history and memory.

With the African-American woman as a visual point of departure, Simpson uses the figure to examine the ways in which gender and culture shape the interactions, relationships and experiences of our lives in contemporary multi-racial America.

For this first installment of our spotlight on Lorna Simpson, I thought you might enjoy hearing from the artist, in her own words, Value of My Work. Stay tuned for updates.  As always, we welcome your thoughts.  Please let us know what you think.

Enjoy your weekend.


Lorna Simpson Biography –

Lorna Simpson Video Credit is as follows:

This TALD Short Shot is related to the epic new documentary film, THROUGH A LENS DARKLY: BLACK PHOTOGRAPHERS AND THE EMERGENCE OF A PEOPLE, by director Thomas Allen Harris, writer Don Perry, producer Dr. Deborah Willis, Executive Producers Kimberly Steward & John Singleton.

The film made its World Premiere @ Sundance; International Premiere @ Berlin; and won the Social Justice Award @ Santa Barbara Int’l FF and Programmers’ Best Documentary Award @ Pan African FF. It was just nominated for Best Diaspora Documentary Film for the 10th Annual African Movie Academy Awards. The film will be released theatrically by Zeitgeist Films, beginning with a New York premiere at Film Forum, Aug. 27th to Sep. 9th. For more info and trailer:



As We Begin Another Week – # 2


Dear Readers,

Wishing you a wonderful day and week.  Remember, whatever you do, always remember to celebrate you!

Peace and blessings,

Restore Your Soul by Catherine Omeara on Flickr

Restore Your Soul by Catherine Omeara on Flickr

Brooklyn – The City of Promise for Jamaican Writers

Dear Readers,

This article, For Jamaican Writers, New Place of Opportunity Is in Brooklyn, was written by Christina Brown for the Huffington Post, October 2013.

As an aspiring author, I was intrigued by Ms. Brown’s story.  Frequently, I receive e-mails from many of our readers who are looking for encouragement on how to start their writing projects, tips on how to stay motivated and general information about the process.  I am always flattered when I receive these notes; especially since I too am a writer in training. Ms. Brown’s article does not provide an overview of the writing process from beginning to end.  However, as a Brooklynite, I found myself relating to many of the illustrations she provided and the authors too!  I thought you might enjoy reading it.  As always, please let us know what you think.


For Jamaican Writers, New Place of Opportunity Is in Brooklyn
Christina Brown – Huffington Post, October 2, 2013

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The smell of Jamaican patties and jerk chicken and the sounds of the West Indies Patois were very much in evidence during the annual Brooklyn Book Festival. Both cuisine and the language were a reflection of the popularity of Caribbean writers in general, and Jamaicans in particular, in the Brooklyn literary scene. On one night of the festival, at least 75 people lined the gallery at MoCADA, or the Museum of Contemporary African Diaspora Art, to hear West Indian-born writers, including Diana McCaulay and Ifeona Fulani, both from Jamaica, wax poetic about how the cultural landscapes of Jamaica and America have influenced their material.

Buoyed by interest from American publishers and perhaps more importantly, readers who reflect the city’s consistent growth of Caribbean immigrants, a new generation of writers from Jamaica, is finding literary, if not financial, success. “We have to be happy that we have space at the table and happy that someone is willing to engage your part of the narrative,” said E. Wayne Johnson, 45, a Jamaican arts and literary enthusiast who has lived in Brooklyn for more than 20 years. Johnson is Arts Director of the Caribbean Cultural Theatre and helped organize the MoCADA event, held on September 19, which featured seven authors from the Caribbean, including McCaulay and Fulani, reading excerpts from their books. “We as a community are not consumers of our own work or culture. It might sound parochial, [but] the harsh reality of internationally successful writers has made it, because they were a big thing somewhere else,” said Johnson, with a soft but distinctive West Indian lilt.

Census data show Jamaicans account for nearly 200,000 of New York City’s Caribbean immigrants. Making them the third largest group among those foreign-born, surpassed only by people from the Dominican Republic and China. Excited by the opportunity to interact with readers and writers from the Caribbean, McCaulay flew from her hometown in Kingston, Jamaica, to participate in the book reading. She also joined a panel discussion at St. Francis College, on Sunday, September 22, to promote her second novel, Huracan. “I [like] reading to my own people … my book is about leaving and going home,” said McCaulay on Thursday night. The main character in her book grapples with returning to Jamaica after a loss in the family, a sentiment McCaulay believes her audience should readily understand.

Nicole Dennis-Benn & Dr. Emma Benn -

Nicole Dennis-Benn & Dr. Emma Benn –

Nicole Dennis-Benn, 32, originally from Jamaica, now a writing professor at the College of Staten Island, came to the festival to connect both with readers and other writers. Her novel, Run Free, about a transgender Jamaican boy is set to be published next year. “As a writer myself, it’s important for me to have a relationship with other Jamaican authors, especially given Diana McCaulay is [known] to write outside of the box,” said Dennis-Benn, with her wife Emma by her side.

Despite the population numbers that seem to illustrate a picture that Brooklyn is filled with people who may be able to identify with the characters in the poems, novels and stories of Jamaican writers, “It’s not like it’s a lucrative business,” said Johnny Temple, founder of independent publisher Akashic Books, and chair of the Brooklyn Borough President’s Literary Council. Many of the authors supplement the income from their literary work with other jobs. McCaulay is an environmental activist in Jamaica, and runs the non-profit, Jamaica Environment Trust. “There’s lots of fantastic writers … a lot of publishing companies in Jamaica are getting more established,” Temple said on the last night of the weeklong festival, after wrapping up the last of 60 events from Sept. 16 to 22, that attracted 350 writers from across the U.S. as well as the international writing community.

Temple has been a key organizer of the annual Brooklyn Book Festival since its inception eight years ago. He said at least 10 writers participating this year were from the Caribbean. “It’s incredibly diverse,” said Temple. “There’s so many different types of stories to tell.” “I think the new Caribbean writing is much more immediate and edgy and grounded in the realities of Caribbean living today,” said McCaulay. “It doesn’t have this kind of misty veil over something lost in the past … it’s more grounded in contemporary Caribbean life and work.”

Oonya Kempadoo -

Oonya Kempadoo –

Alex Neptune settled in the U.S. 40 years ago, after leaving his home in Georgetown, Guyana. “I don’t read too many novels so when I do read, I want to make sure I’m going to finish the book that I’ve started,” said Neptune, after the talk at the MoCADA. He works in New York’s insurance and real estate industry and he wanted Oonya Kempadoo, the British born, but of Guyanese lineage author, of All Decent Animals, to sign his copy of her book. “I don’t have to think too much about what the writer is saying … when she expresses herself on different issues, I can relate,” said Neptune.

“How are you doing?” a woman asked E. Wayne Johnson, who was perspiring in his salmon colored button down shirt as he carried chairs, trying to determine where to add seats in the already packed gallery before the group, Caribbean Cultural Theatre, opened Thursday’s book reading. “Yeah mon, I’m goodish,” responded Johnson, in the Patois dialect commonly heard throughout Jamaica.  Largely regarded as a spoken language, Patois has over the past several years increasingly gained traction as a literary language.  But in some circles, according to the West Indian author Robert Antoni, 45, its use had been considered a reflection of one’s typically low socioeconomic class and status.

“We writers of the next generation have stood up, and embraced this language. It has taken over our writing. I think if anything characterizes West Indian language, West Indian novels, West Indian poetry, it’s been the embracing of the vernacular … the vernacular is always posited against another language. That language is what we call proper English, but the vernacular is a living thing and proper English is locked up in the dictionaries,” said Antoni.


Article from The Huffington Post

Emmy Award-Winning Journalist’s Desire to Tell Us More

Dear Readers,

I am pleased to finally say that spring is almost here, and just in time too.  This is my absolute favorite season, for it represents a time of rebirth and renewal.  Old plans are redefined and sharpened, and everyone contemplates what’s new?  Last week, we at Brooklyn Legends took this question to heart.  Here is what we came up with.

We have made a few additions to the Brooklyn Legends home page that I am excited to share with you; Brooklyn Sounds and Brooklyn Sights.  As you might have guessed, Brooklyn Sounds features a song from a Brooklyn vocalist, and Brooklyn Sights provides a glimpse of the beautiful places in Brooklyn.  I know that many of you follow our posts on a smart phone or tablet.  However, these new features are best viewed when using a computer.  When you get a moment, please spend some time on our site. Don’t forget to tell us what you think.

Continuing with the theme “what’s new,” today’s post will mark the first time we highlight a  journalist from Brooklyn.  I can think of no one better to feature than Michel Martin, the Emmy award-winning journalist and host of NPR’s Tell Me More, which she created 7 years ago.  What makes this show special is the way that Martin explores topics that focus on how we live and collaborate and how we handle collisions that arise during life’s more challenging moments.

Martin is highly praised for featuring provocative, accessible conversations that go behind the headlines with global newsmakers and people you might meet on the street. In today’s fast-paced world, accessibility is an important key to growth. Tell Me More makes room for new voices to be heard on public radio, and social media outlets, while making the connection between traditional public radio and communities of color.

The way in which the show was originally conceived was sheer brilliance.  It was built on a platform that provided something for everyone.  Here are a few notable examples:

  • Barbershop and Beauty shop – designed as a forum for no-holds-barred conversations on the news from men and women in one of the community’s favorite gathering place.
  • Moms – designed as a resource for moms, dads and grandparents.  This is one of the show’s original segments that featured everyday parents and recognized experts.
  • Faith Matters – designed to examine the powerful role faith and spirituality play in everyday life across denominations and faith traditions.
  • Wisdom Watch – designed as vehicle for highlighting views of distinguished ‘elders’ who are thought-leaders and influencers from around the world.
  • Money Coach – designed to provide insights into personal finance, the economy and financial literacy.
  • Political Chat – designed as a place where newsmakers, trusted analysts and sharp rising stars in the world of commentary could reflect on national affairs.
  • Behind Closed Doors – designed as a safe space to discuss issues that most people tend to keep private.

Before Tell Me More, Martin had already distinguished herself as a serious journalist.  She joined the NPR family from ABC news where she worked since 1992.  During her tenure at ABC, she served as a correspondent for Nightline from 1996 to 2006.  Among the many stories she featured were: The United States Embassy bombings in Africa, racial profiling in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the Congressional budget battles. In addition to her role as a correspondent, Martin was a regular contributor to numerous ABC programs and specials including: coverage of the September 11 Tragedy, the Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas controversy and reports for the series America in Black and White.  She was also a regular panelist on This Week with George Stephanopoulous.

Prior to her tenure with ABC, Martin covered state and local politics for the Washington Post, and national politics and policy at the Wall Street Journal, where she was also the White House Correspondent.  She has also appeared as a regular panelist on Washington Week, a popular PBS series, and a contributor to NOW with Bill Moyers.

Women Of Distinction - Huffington Post

Women Of Distinction – Huffington Post

Martin has received awards from several influential organizations, including: the Candace Award for Communications from the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, the Joan Barone Award for Excellence in Washington-based National Affairs/Public Policy Broadcasting from the Radio and Television Correspondents’ Association and a 2002 Silver Gavel Award from the American Bar Association.  In addition to her Emmy award, she has received 3 additional Emmy nominations, including one with NPR’s Robert Krulwich for an ABC News program examining children’s racial attitudes.

We at Brooklyn Legends are so proud of Michel Martin.  She is a consummate professional who is dedicated to her craft and committed to excellence.  She has set the bar high and will continue to be a role model for future generations of Brooklyn women of color, who aspire to be journalists.  For this, and so much more, we salute her!

Enjoy the rest of your week.


Michel Martin –
Photo for Tell Me More Moms –
Huffington Post

Award Winning Journalist, Inspired to Tell Us More

Dear Readers,

In the coming days we will salute Michel Martin, the Emmy-award winning journalist with an impressive career than spans nearly three decades.  I am also proud to add that she is a Brooklyn native.

In 2006, Michel joined NPR to develop Tell Me More, the one-hour daily NPR news and talk show that made its national debut in April of 2007.  Tell Me More can be heard on public radio stations across the country.  If you would like tune in, you may visit the NPR homepage, click programs and look for Tell Me More.  To get you started, I have included the link for you. Please click here.

I can’t wait to share more about Michel’s great accomplishments with you.  Until then, I will leave you with one of her quotes that I found to be inspiring.

“I wonder what it is like to leave everything and everyone you know for the promise of a better life, to run for President, to be a professional athlete, to parent a child of a different race.  I am fascinated by people who live lives different from my own.  And, at the same time, I feel connected to all of these being a journalist, a woman of color, a wife and mother.”

Stay tuned,

Information on Michel Martin –

A Fashion Model & Activist Leads The Way

Dear Readers,

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We are excited to have you join us for today’s salute to Bethann Hardison.  She is a fashion model who became an advocate and activist for young women and men of color, looking to chart their course in the modeling industry.  From her Brooklyn roots, she has traveled the world, and she has used her influence as a trailblazer to change a few things along the way.

Bethann was raised first by her mother, who was a stylish, fashionable woman, before going to live with her father, who was a respected Islamic leader.  When reading about her early years, I clearly see the reverence she has for both parents, and how they influenced her career trajectory.  She embodies her mother’s love for fashion, style and unmistakable grace; and is grounded by her father’s skill as a leader and strategist.  These experiences motivated her to become a fashion model turned activist, and a champion of ideals and causes.

Bethann’s Early Years

By all accounts, Bethann was a game changer.  In an interview for the book Inspiration: Profiles of Black Women Changing Our World by Crystal McCrary, she recalls her reaction to the invasion of the Suez Canal, which happened when she was a teenager.  A strong believer in the power of the individual in the face of government, she sent letters and beseeching telegrams to Secretary of State John Foster Dulles stating her opposition.  This bold move set the stage for many initiatives that she would pursue.

Bethann made the decision to attend an all-white high school in Brooklyn that African-American students were being bussed to, George W. Wingate High School, instead of attending the performing arts school that she had been accepted to.  She views this as one of the best experiences in her life; for she discovered who she was and stepped into her power.  She also found her voice and began to express her ideas.  As a student, her impact was significant and punctuated by some impressive “firsts.”  She was the Wingate High School’s first African-American cheerleader.  Additionally, in her junior and senior years she was elected to produce and direct “Sing,” a performance competition among the upperclassmen.  Each year she led her class to victory.  These experiences set the stage for the world she would eventually help shape.

After graduating from high school she continued her education; first at New York University Art School, followed by her tenure at the Fashion Institute of Technology.  From there she entered New York City’s garment district in search of a job in the fashion industry.

Bethann’s Introduction to the Fashion World

In the late 1960s, Bethann was discovered by an African-American designer, Willi Smith, and began working for him as a fitting model.  She crossed over into runway and print modeling for other designers shortly thereafter.  In the early 1970s, was among a few African-American models to appear in fashion spreads for Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar magazines.  She joined the ranks of her contemporaries – Iman, Beverly Johnson and Pat Cleveland.

Bethann Joins Click Models

In 1980 Bethann joined Click Models, a firm that would usher in change for the modeling industry.  Within one year she was head of Click’s women’s division, which is the most powerful and lucrative department in any modeling agency.  In her interview with Crystal McCrary, you can feel Bethann’s delight as she recounts her accomplishments while working at Click.

“We went up against the big boys without even trying.  Our vision was very different from that of Ford, Wilhelmina, Stewart and all the other agencies.  It was an alternative.  The girl next door wasn’t the girl we wanted, but we found the boy next door before anyone else did.”  “We represented people like Whitney Houston, when she was a young teen.  We started Talisa Soto, who was a Calvin Klein girl.  Isabella Rossellini was our girl and the list goes on.  Fashion photographers loved our style because it was different.”  Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren and Perry Ellis were the main clients of Click.  They loved Bethann and were interested in anything she was a part of.

Following her success at Click, Bethann was in a position to make a greater impact.  Concerned with the politics of the fashion industry, in 1981, she changed her focus from modeling to activism.

Bethann Hardison Management 

In 1984, and with the support of a friend who was in law school, Bethann decided to go into business for herself.  Bethann Hardison Management was created.  From the inception, she set out to increase African-American visibility in the fashion world.  When building her talent roster, she skillfully negotiated with female models from other agencies.  In lieu of obtaining their standard agency advance, they agreed to wait for their checks until Bethann’s clients made their first payment.  This generosity was a testament to her stellar reputation as an industry leader, mentor and friend.

Her company opened its doors with a 16 models.  Nearly 50% were African-Americans.  It is important to note that from the outset that Bethann did not set out to run an exclusively “people of color” agency.  It was always her goal to bring more diversity into the business.  Over time, her roster approached 30 models.  She took an involved role in helping to keep the young men and women focused on the challenging work of modeling.  Following her advice, they learned about finances, how to be professional and the importance of good public relations.

Bethann The Activist

In 1988 Bethann, and her friend Iman, co-founded the Black Girls Coalition, a group of industry insiders working to help clear the path for other African-Americans interested in the fashion industry, both behind the scenes as well as in front of the cameras.  The group tackled important issues such as homelessness.

Paying this forward, earlier this year Bethann launched the Balanced Diversity Campaign to end racism on the runway.  She received support and encouragement from her friends Naomi Campbell and Iman.  In an open letter to the governing fashion bodies of the four major fashion capitols – London, Milan, New York and Paris – she called out the industry’s white-washed model casts, citing a number of designers who had featured zero, or one, model of color in past seasons.  Designers and the public paid attention.  Within weeks, 2014 was hailed as one of the most memorable, and important, moments of the season.

Bethann Talks About The Future 

Last month, On February 5, 2014, Bethann’s push for racial diversity on the runway was featured in the Huffington Post.

In her own words…

“I’m looking forward to seeing what happens – I’m hopeful,” she told The Huffington Post.  “Diversity is just good for the world. And images have much more power than words.  When people start putting those colorful images out, and people of power start standing behind them, it starts to create a paradigm shift.  And I believe it can happen.”

Naomi Campbell, Bethann Hardison, Iman on GMA via ABC News

Naomi Campbell, Bethann and Iman – ABC News

Bethann was able to point to prominent examples of increased diversity in magazines and advertisements.  She praised designer Prabal Gurung, who had just launched his debut ad campaign, featuring black supermodel Liya Kebede.  She also singled out Vogue’s January 2014 issue; calling it a “brilliant example of organic diversity” that featured several fashion editorials with models of color and stories showing celebrities like Idris Elba and Lupita Nyong’o.  She met with Vogue staff members in November, after the January issue had been pulled together, to discuss the importance of diversity in the fashion world.

A Celebrated Woman

Bethann’s contributions have earned her several awards throughout her career which include: the First Annual Vibe Style Lifetime Achievement Award – 1999, the Magic Johnson Foundation Distinguished Service Award – 1999, The Black Alumni of Pratt Lifetime Achievement Award – 2003, The Black Enterprise Woman of Power Legacy Award – 2012, Frederick Douglas Award for promoting diversity in fashion – 2013.

What’s Next?

These days you will find Bethann living a quiet life in rural Mexico.  She came to a point where she did not want to feel trapped in a big city any longer and is now working to tie up loose ends in her career.  At the same time she is quick to say “that’s not all of who I am.  I need to be among people who reflect more than tangible items proving financial success.  I want to live simply, to experience the preciousness of life.”

Bethann certainly deserves the chance to enjoy the fruit of her labor.  Her career and life’s work exemplifies hard work, integrity, inclusion and compassion.  While this tribute provides a small glimpse into the huge world she has helped to create, I am truly inspired by this courageous woman who, as a teenager in Brooklyn, began to take on the world.

Thank you Bethann for all that you do!  We at Brooklyn Legends are proud to salute you.


Inspirations: Profiles of Black Women Changing Our World by Crystal McCrary
The HistoryMakers – July 15, 2013
Julee Wilson – The Huffington Post – February 18, 2014
Julee Wilson – The Huffington Post – February 5, 2014

Brooklyn Legends Inspirations III

Dear Readers,

Its been a while since my last post, and I truly miss connecting with you.  Once again, we are in the middle of a cold spell, yet I am convinced that spring is just around the corner.  I promise to celebrate with you when that day finally arrives.

Last year we introduced a concept – Brooklyn Legends Inspirations.  As we read articles we feel you might enjoy, we add them to our Inspirations file and share them with you in our blog posts.  In the November 2013 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine, there was an article by one of my favorite authors – Brene Brown, PhD.  Dr. Brown is a highly sought-after speaker, writer and regular contributor to O magazine.  I addition to being a fan of Dr. Brown’s sage advice, I was drawn to the title –  Dare to Not Know.  For me, the concept of not knowing is one that I constantly struggle with.  I have spent the past 20+ years as a special event fundraiser, and my life has been mired in a world filled with meetings, details, lists plans and more contingencies.  With so much at stake, constant uncertainty would not bode well for me or my career.   However once I picked up the article, and substituted my career hat for my creative one, I was all in.

As my family and friends will attest, I have spent the past year brimming with ideas for future projects.  In the process, I discovered that I am a huge dreamer.  Hopefully, out of these dreams will come great things.  In the present moment, the process of being creative has left me feeling several emotions.  There are days when I am exhilarated yet exhausted, as I am constantly strategizing how to get everything in place by the time I reach 60 years old.  This internal dialogue sounds somewhat like this: Who will benefit?  What impact will I have?  Where will the support that I need come from?  Is this all relevant?  What form will my finished plan take?  Am I doing enough?  And, my all-time favorite how long will this take?

Despite these questions, and others I am bound to come up with, I am having the time of my life dreaming and considering the possibilities.  There are times when I could benefit from a healthy dose of patience.  So, for me, Dr. Brown’s advice was quite poignant, “if you don’t have all the answers, learn to live in the question.”   I got a lot of encouragement from this article.  I hope that it will enlighten you as well.  When you have a moment, please let us know what you think.

Dare to Not Know
Brene Brown, PhD

Uncertainty makes us feel vulnerable, so we try to escape it any way we can. Sometimes we even settle for misinformation or bad news over not knowing. Have you ever ended up in an Internet rabbit hole of terror while waiting for test results?

Yet it really is possible to thrive amid uncertainty. It’s not about getting advice you can trust; it’s about faith and self-trust—believing that whatever happens, you’ll find a way through it. Without uncertainty, we’d never start a business or risk loving someone new. There are no guarantees when we step into the unknown. But these periods of discomfort can give rise to life’s most important adventures.

The Dare

Pay attention to what makes you feel better (and worse). The unknown can bring out the worst in us. When I’m deep in uncertainty about work, I can get impatient and snappy with the people who mean the most to me—and that feels terrible. I’ve learned that sleep, exercise and eating healthy make me more patient and calm.

Create an emotional clearing.

Fear tends to drown out our intuition, so it’s essential to carve out moments of quiet—time for meditation, prayer or just a long walk—to reconnect with our gut. I’m still learning to meditate (and it’s not going well), but you can bet that when I have a big talk coming up, I’m out walking near my house, rain or shine, listening for the sound of my inner voice.

Get support. 

Instead of begging everyone in your address book for answers, ask one or two loved ones to remind you that it’s normal to feel vulnerable when you’re in a period of change. As my husband often tells me, “It’s supposed to suck right now. Go walk!” Uncertainty is a necessary part of getting where we want to go.


O, The Oprah Magazine, Nov. 2013