Magic & Memories



I almost did it.  I almost took her home.  Forever.  Because her grandmother said I could have her.  I thought about all the little men running around the Brown home and how much I am madly in love with my tribe, but I couldn’t get away from that subtle  inclination to have that pinkness in my house!

I loved the lace dress.  The blue-green eyes.  The tiny tights.  The diamond earrings and the clinging that she did for what felt like hours, but I floated back into the realm of reality and finally conceded to letting her go.  Nevertheless, I realized that even if I didn’t take her home, I’m still on a path to potentially impact her life.  I’m making magic and memories – for everyone…

I’ve received more texts and phone calls and emails than normal lately, particularly in reference to my renewed interest in charging ahead on catching those dreams.  I’ve been most delighted though!

In a weekend conversation, I learned that one Dreamer has already started journaling and planning to develop a portfolio for future intentions of becoming a model.  Another Dreamer wanted to develop a specialized curriculum that they hadn’t seen in any of the Districts surrounding them.

Another Dreamer on a path that parallels my own has been in the planning stage of consulting aspirations and found herself being pursued by interested clients that she never expected to meet.

An enthusiastic Dreamer from last week relayed the unveiling of a project that he and a partner have worked on for two years.  Overflowing with ideas, we’ll be meeting soon to determine a timeline to help them makes those moments of innovation into milestones of reality.

My favorite responses?  Those that have been contacting me to let me know that they’ve already gotten started on the homework assignment from this weekend!  I’m trying to contain my own excitement because I’m thrilled that I’m able to share this journey with others who are ripe for realization.  Which gets me back to the future Dreamer in the picture.

We too often forget how the reality of our dreams affects others.

For every story I hear of those that are ready to leap, there are ten more that share why they just can’t do it.  Some cite time, money, or support; but, I remind them that their decision isn’t limited to changing their world, it can change the worlds of others.   That’s the magic.

Touching others with your tenacity!  Inspiring them to dream because they see yours coming to fruition!  Making memories that make history…and move others to do something great…

That young lady who wants to become a model is choosing a new segment of the industry that focuses on unconventional beauty and steers away from the status quo.

She’s considering in part because of many teens who have already expressed how they look up to her as she defies what beauty was perceived to be and defines, in her own right, what beauty is.  She’s ready for the next step.

That educator, who met the clients she wasn’t expecting, almost didn’t attend the meeting she was invited to.  She thought age gaps might be a factor and that others may not have enough in common with her in spite of her efforts.  She fought those feelings of doubt and pressed forward to that meeting, contending that it was one of the best experiences of her professional career.

I’ve toyed with the idea of penning a book for years.  And after starting and stopping, starting and stopping received a post two days ago that said, “Have you written any books yet? If so, let me know. I would love to read any you write.”  #confirmation…

If you’re still sitting on those ideas; those passions; those goals, those unrepentant, untapped, unfulfilled dreams.  Stop squelching them!

Because you don’t live and operate in isolation, those inclinations – whether they are within your current profession, a part of your personal goals or something that could impact communities within and abroad – they’re yours; stamped with your originality and authenticity.  Who better to do it than you?

If you extinguish your fire, you won’t be the only one who suffers from the loss.  So will those around you who could be greatly benefited by your best efforts.  This is the season of giving, right?  Give us your best.  We’re dying to see what’s in store.

My dreams are on the horizon…  Watch me leap…

#catchyourdreams, #leapofgreat, #betheone, #pursueyourpassion, #leap2017, #somethingsbrewing, #beadreamer, #staytuned

Caption:  I might convince her to be a Dreamer tomorrow if I catch my dreams today.



Shooting for Their Success

Shooting for Their Success

It’s not everyday that we get to work at a job where we can actually say we’re thoroughly delighted with our daily activities.  You know how sometimes, you work at a place because it helps you to make ends meet?  However, there are occasions when our place of employment is an environment where we can take those things that we love and put them into practice in a way that is not only beneficial to others, but allows us to thrive in the areas where we shine best – because we love what we do.

I’m pleased to say that when I am not speaking, writing (or eating, LOL), a part of my day is dedicated to teaching two of my favorite subjects of academia (English Language Arts/Reading and Writing) to my 8 yr. old son at the school where he is also learning Spanish and Chinese.

Sharing with him and his 3rd grade peers the art and science of communicating their most vibrant thoughts with the rest of the world tickles me for days on end.  They’re at a point where they still love learning – and sadly, so many of our children don’t.

One of my favorite days at the school is Friday – not because I know it’s going into the weekend (although that is an added plus), but because each Friday the staff focuses on emphasizing the importance of college, and the students are enamored.  Uniforms are gone and college apparel abounds.  There are speakers, special presentations, and surprise guests – all with the intent of stirring up their enthusiasm for post secondary education.

Now, I don’t knock the world of sports, but to say I’m a fan of any team in particular would be quite the leap.  Anyone who knows me realizes my fandom is reserved for all things culinary.  That being said, I was delighted that on one of those recent Fridays my son’s eyes lit up when he saw this mascot (and massively tall) basketball players from The University of St. Thomas immediately following a presentation that again shifted his view towards his future.

I spend my afternoons with high school students who have not had such success in their academic careers.    Many are over-aged, some have been to three to four different schools already, prior and consistent failures from the past are common.  Nearly a third are homeless, some have single parents – and are single parents – but what I zone in on is the one thing that I can use to help their learning experience be effective:  desire.

There exists among them students who long to be successful, despite their circumstances.  More than a few of them possess the same desire as my third graders – to learn.  I share the common enthusiasm of wanting to teach them…things that perhaps they never knew or hadn’t considered.  Whether the eyes are oooing and awing in an 8 year old body or an 18 year old body, I hope and pray that the lessons developed – both from classroom and life – will inspire them to change their future in a way that is incessantly rewarding.

I’m no athlete by sports standards, but every day – I am shooting for their success.  All of them.  We each have the ability to touch lives with our talents, but are we really scoring the way we should.  What are you shooting for?  It’s not limited to a classroom…  I’d love to know.

#pursueyourpassion, #catchyourdreams, #bethe1, #athletesarentjustonthecourts

Picture:  Christopher and the mascot from The University of St. Thomas – feeling excited about his future.

My Mother, My Mentor, My Muse


You know how most people think that their mom is absolutely perfect even though we know perfection is impossible?  Yeah, I’m in that group.  My mom is very much a quiet person, behind the scenes, all-star.  I had to wrestle this picture from her because social media is simply not her thing.

Then I explained – how she’s my utmost inspiration; how I had no intention of flooding the Internet with her beauty for selfish purposes, but rather expressing my undying amazement and gratefulness for her – so I was granted this once-in-a-lifetime permission to gush to my heart’s content complete with my favorite-Mom-photo.

This is her senior picture from 1968.  The note is to my dad, who she didn’t know would be my dad then.  Heck, she didn’t even know there would be a me!  But she wrote “Love, Shirley Harris.  Stay sweet and remember me (smile).”   I’m so glad he did…

I often feel I’ve had the best of both worlds – tragedy and triumph that is.  I know some people think there’s nothing to celebrate about hardship, but having had so many, I disagree.  My grandmother used to say, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”  And as a kid, I thought that was a horrible thing to even conceive!  “Who wants to go through all of that?”  I’d wonder.

I didn’t know that I’d later be held at knife point and gunpoint; that I’d be drug through a boy’s house by my ankles after being hit in the face in high school; that I’d lay in my own blood in a parking lot while losing a love I’d never meet.  That I’d seriously contemplate ending my life with a rope at 13.  To say that was hard would be an understatement.  I realize now though, it’s not that you want to go through bad things. Bad things happen.  It’s what you do with it that makes a difference.

Life’s hardships have not been kind to me, and at times I think I’ve had more than my fair share. I’ve experienced the gamut of negative emotions – anger, confusion, hopelessness, doubt, depression, disgust, disappointment, loss… Nevertheless, with God’s help, I’ve drawn strength from them in ways that I never could have imagined.

I’ve encouraged others, women, men, elderly, youth, the heartbroken and downtrodden – because I was able to tell them about how I got through the anguish.  I had a point of reference for their heartache.  Interestingly, I was taught this lesson  best – by my mom.  She – and her own mother – transcended worse tragedies like a champion.

Throughout my life, I’ve had opportunities to meet amazing people that left my head spinning.  I was speechless at the things they’d endured, yet accomplished amidst their personal struggles.  I was always flattered by their thoughts of me, especially when so complimentary.

But I’m forever reminded that everything I do well, I do because of my mom.  I can trace each strength to what I gained from her.  She was my first teacher; first storyteller; chief editor and grammarian.  She created my appetite for reading and nurtured my love for words.  I type 120+ words a minute because she made me learn from her dusty old book from the 60s – when I was 12 years old.  The first money I ever earned from a “job” was because I was typing for someone else.

She taught me how to sing; how to play the piano; how to draw; how to act, to write, to think, to dance, to love, to listen, to speak….and that’s without her loving it nearly as much as I do.  She was mentoring me.  But more than anything, as I’ve “blossomed into a woman,” as one of my friends said – I am acutely aware that my mother – is my muse.  I aspire to be great, but if I could be a fraction of the woman she is, I would have far exceeded my goals.

I nicknamed her “The Oracle” many years ago.  Because in her I find wisdom, grace, strength, and beauty.  I used to be really sad that I never had a daughter – because I wanted to replicate the relationship with her that I have with my mom.  But – these boys are turning out not to be so bad after all. In fact, they’re quite the mini-mes 🙂

Either way, I am incessantly thankful that God gifted me with Shirley Harris Turner to guard me and guide me with her endless love.  My life without her wouldn’t be my life at all.  My love for her is at the core of my greatest aspirations.  She is my mother, my mentor, and my muse.

#mypassioncomesfromwithin, #shesinsideofme, #shirleyjr, #bethe1, #shehelpsmecatchmydreams, #iloveyoumom, #happymothersday

Be the One…


While I realize winter is long gone in Houston, I can’t help my lingering awe with the ever-so-intricate snowflake.  I came across this book in my second-grade classroom this past December and like my own children, was utterly fascinated by how little I knew.  What I did know (and find mind-boggling) is that despite the trillions of snowflakes that fall all over the world, no two are alike (remember hearing that as a kid?).   This beautiful photograph fast forwarded to my memories when I began explaining my latest hashtag to my Creative Director – #bethe1.

As a cohabitant of the Twitter generation, I’ve finally developed a fondness for the hashtag hysteria.  For me, the affection stems from the constant reminders in what’s “trending”.  I like to remind myself that being one of few who chooses differently is a notable thing to do.  I realize that there are people who will opt to take the low road when I don’t, but I’d like to be the one who does the unexpected.  There are individuals who will not applaud my work ethic because it is easier to do what is convenient than what is correct.  I want to be the one who does what’s right anyway.

It is not always popular to disagree in a group when everyone else is in consensus.  My question is, “What is the impact of going along with the crowd?”  If my buy-in is going to make it difficult for me to sleep at my night, then my answer is going to be, “I understand how you feel, and I can see how you came to that conclusion.  However, I’m going to peaceably disagree.”  I will be the one that stands on my convictions because I can’t allow other people’s assumptions to compel me to change my own.

Sadly, what’s widely accepted often determines the decision making for all.  People are ostracized for thinking differently, labeled, and criticized.  I have never fit the status quo, so being the oddball is not foreign to me at all.  I am more concerned for my children – and our children – because when we don’t choose to stand out for what we believe, we send a message to them that it is better to go along than to champion what we feel from our hearts.

You will come across many snowflakes in your life.  Some will be a bit flakier than others.  In actuality, all will be beautiful because they come from the same source.  Nevertheless, many will blend in so much that they will only appear to assimilate into a blanket of snow.  Even still, remember that every part of your make-up makes you uniquely different.  Despite their best efforts, no one can be a copy of you and you shouldn’t be a replicate of anyone else.  When you feel like the tide of public opinion is pulling you under, don’t be afraid to ride the wave.  Stand up.  Stand out.  Be different.  Be the one…

Picture:  The one that was so beautiful, it took the photographer’s breath away.  Be the one who’s captivating the crowd because of your confidence.

To Live, To Love, To Last…My Wishes

My Love

For whatever strange reason, “love” has been the topic of many of my conversations with several of my closest friends of late.  Some want to find it, some have found it only to lose it, some think they have it, but aren’t sure, while others have it, but feel they’re losing it.  And then there are a few who have it and just love it.  I couldn’t imagine discussing it without reflecting on my own experience.  And so tonight, I begin to take it apart, piece by piece, to ask myself what does it really mean – to me?

So I had to think about how I first met my spouse…I will spare you the humorous details, but it was funny.  Past the stage of infatuation, past the stars in the eyes and the “oh he’s just perfect” and “he thinks I am, too”, I realized that the depth of love is discovered not in the beginning, but in the thick of the rough patches – and making it through them.  For me, love has shown brightest in the ugliest moments.

Like, when you’re feeling the complete opposite of beautiful, but you are treated as if you look like a star.  Or, when life has left you with some unwelcome blemishes, but you are convinced that you are perceived as flawless. When you feel like a failure, but the one you love picks you up and tells you it’s okay to try again.  Love is what you experience when you learn to accept someone’s imperfections, shortcomings, and inhibitions and still be enamored with the reality of who they are.

I’m quick to tell people that while I’d love an everyday-all-day fairytale romance, I learned early that marriage isn’t written like a script from the movies – it is work!  Quite frankly, it can be difficult to compromise.  You won’t agree on everything.  And you will get your feelings hurt – that’s a part of life.  But…what makes the greatest difference for me, really?  Is our faith.  Because at the end of the day, on the few occasions where we may have disagreements, dissensions, or hurt feelings in between – we maintain the same core of beliefs; we both feel connected to Him; we both treasure divine guidance because of what we believe God intended for our marriage.

My husband and I were spatting about something recently in a most non-verbal way.  (You know how you can give each other a “Don’t even” look…), and while I was blogging, he wrote me a little note on the back of a small card, gently placed on my laptop that said, “Marriage can be difficult…but, I promised to be with you for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, till death do us part.”  Before I even read it, he quietly walked away.  When I revisited those vows, they meant the world to me…

I wish to live my life to the fullest.  Catch my dreams.  Pursue my passions, but I also want to enjoy being in love and all of the discoveries that come with its growing intensities along the way.  My friends whose hearts ache or are broken – I want them to find and be with the one person who will be perfect for them, because it saddens me to see their undying pain.

My friends that love being single?  I want them to get as much fulfillment out of life that they possibly can without feeling the disdain of those who believe marriage is for everyone – sometimes, it is not!  And to all that I know who are in strained relationships or marriages that seem broken, I hope they experience the healing that will allow them to know again what true love really is.  Real love…is wonderful.  It gives you a reason to live and imbues you (and your love) with the power to last.

#catchthatdream, #pursuethatpassion, #betheone, #notjustonyouranniversary, #loveeveryday, #loveforalifetime

Picture:  The day I signed on to Team Brown – and never looked back.

Friends – The Other Kind


Some of us remember our best buds from elementary school.  Others still hang out with them, even in adulthood.  Many of us have made friends later in life, but isn’t it awesome to be able to recognize who your genuine friends are?  When Christopher comes home (far right – front row), he so often mentions his partner in crime, Hilton (on his left).  He tells tall tales of all of their adventures, slightly admits to their guilty pleasures, and revels in their 7 yr. old discoveries.  Above all else, he denotes their friendship, an inseparable bond that exists because of how much he values their relationship.  When their Chinese teacher sent this pic to my phone during their field trip today, it resonated with me because I knew from his expression how much he was treasuring this memory and how much he appreciated his friend.

And so I thought about my own.  I made an interesting connection.  Every year, I teach my students about “multiple meaning words.”  Like bat (the animal); bat (to swing); bat (the wooden equipment), and bat (to blink an eye).  In that vein, “friend” has evolved into an interesting multiple meaning word, too.  Friend (people I know on FaceBook/LinkedIn); friend  (an informal term for a colleague); friend (someone you know through a connection with someone else); friend (to get to know someone); and friend – the ones who really feel more like family.  How many friends do you have that fit the latter?  It seems we have the least of that last group.

Like Christopher, I get really excited about my genuine friends! I talk about them because they crack me up.  They know me in ways that associates do not.  When I’m trying to wear the cape and save the day, they remind me that even superheroes need a moment to recharge.  Real friends – help you pick up the pieces when you thought you were balancing well, but discovered you weren’t.  They forgive you if you hurt them unintentionally, and don’t hold it against you the next day.  They help you when you need it most – without expectation of reciprocity, although you’re compelled to give in return because you are grateful.  Real friends know when to cross your boundaries (when you’re being stubborn) and when to respect them (when you need to figure things out on your own).

I make it a point to tell my friends how much I care for them because on dark days, I don’t want to imagine how things would be different without them.  They encourage me, enlighten me, and leave me in awe.  And nobody can make you laugh like someone who knows you well – because they make the best inside jokes – the ones no one else understands except you and them.  Sometimes, we take our friends for granted, and can leave them feeling very empty.  Friendships are relationships, too that also need to be nurtured.  If you know who your genuine friends are, remember to let them know that your bond will last for a lifetime.  To the friends who love me most…thank you.

Inspired by those who know me best…

Taste Your Dreams…


So we’ve been told tasting is primed for your palate; but, suppose you could taste with your mind?  What if you could smell your future, hear your hopes, feel your fervor – and taste your dreams.  I savor the thought, and I’m not the only one.

My first introduction to Gracie Cavnar, the striking red headed powerhouse at the center of the picture was through my elementary school years ago as a fourth grade teacher.  As a part of her ingenious program, restaurant James Beard Award Nominee, Chef Monica Pope, was paired with my class monthly.   Quite naturally in love with all things cuisine, I was utterly delighted!  Cooking and gardening were now part of my curriculum.

I delved deeper in my inquiries into the graceful Gracie after my son, Michael, then seven (center) was invited to participate in a photo shoot for her premiere non-profit, Recipe for Success.  Cavnar was being featured in Self Magazine for her outstanding community achievements.

What I didn’t know is that the burgeoning success she was so rapidly attaining was after she’d already garnered achievements in “architecture, hospitality, marketing, and public relations.” Despite over four decades of investment in these industries, her greatest fulfillment has been fueled by realizing her dream for changing the landscape of childhood obesity.  I’m enchanted with her passion.

In less than a decade, she took an idea, fixated on her goal, compelled comrades, connoisseurs, and communities, and cultivated an unprecedented movement.  Her tireless efforts as the pro-bono chair of the organization have yielded not only millions of dollars in funds raised, but propelled her to national recognition, to include receiving a distinguished position as an adviser to First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Task Force.  Impressed with her amazing results, she was asked to share her vision with a nation hungry for change.

So what intrigues me about Mrs. Cavnar?  The scintillating scent of stamina, coupled with a dash of determination, immersed in a generous amount of inspiration, yielding incessant servings of Recipes for Success.  On countless occasions, we all have dreams.  The question is, which half do you represent?  Are you among those who dream in vivid colors, but fail to realize the sweetness of your endeavors?  Or are you on the other side of the contemplative coin?

Regardless of where you stand, never marginalize your innovation.  What may seem minute can transform into magnificence.  A single endeavor, simple in merit, could revolutionize entire cultures.  I have a few dreams of my own, and I’m pursuing them feverishly because I see them brightly.  Despite facts and failures beyond my control, my fervor remains unfeigned.  With every success, my hopes rise like the aroma of fresh baked-bread.  I can hear the opportunities knocking at the door.  I taste my dreams.  Can you?  If not, start stirring your gift.  Pursue your passion.

The Map for the Mini-Mes


I’ve seen Gladston’s and Joyclyn’s, Christopher’s and Jimmy’s, Chioma’s and Keiwana’s and how could I forget proud Papa James – and such a little fighter he has!  Who on earth am I talking about?  The Mini-Mes.  The loves of our lives who change the fabric of our very demeanor.  They soften us with their innocence, dazzle us with their smiles, pain us with their heartbreaks, and captivate our souls because in many ways – they’re us.

While I’ve gushed about my latest arrival, the 1 yr. old, and I rave about my fourth grade avid reader, I am equally enamored with my middle son – Christopher.  I am delighted at the very thought of him and all of the me I see in my mini-me.  He is an exceptional artist.  Beyond doodling, Christopher sees the world through the lens of an illustrator.  He shares my desire for delicious detail; salivates over color and texture and imagery; is a self-proclaimed sous chef and foodie; loses himself for hours in drawing a good picture or writing a self-made “chapter” book, and stops to admire the intricacies of nature.

I am tickled by his thought processes.  Am I alone in experiencing the de ja vous of watching my kids say and do things that I remember doing myself?  I tell my team members all of the time, my boys are all of my good and all of my bad.  It reminds me of a few conferences I held where I was tasked with sharing some not-so-pleasant things with students’ parents and they’d say, “Mrs. Brown, I’m not saying it’s good…but I was JUST LIKE THAT!”  Truthfully…I can say the same!

One of the many things that I’ve savored of late about Facebook is the glimpse into people’s lives that reveals the core of their passion…their children.  There’s a recognition, an admiration, and a responsibility that comes with knowing that these tiny lives we’ve helped create are replete with opportunity for greatness.  We can build bridges for them to cross over many of life’s obstacles far before they take their first steps.  We can help craft the narrative by which they will live their stories, and shape it in such a way that it is still uniquely their own with an ending to be determined.  We can leave them a legacy.  A map, to study and analyze – an explicit guide to life that will help them choose routes to find passions of their own and pursue them with the fervor which we demonstrate everyday.  This is what fuels my fire for life.

I often tell my mom jokingly that I’m the favorite, but I know she loves all of us equally and the same.  As a child, I didn’t understand how you couldn’t prefer one maybe slightly more than the other.  When I look at this picture though, I’m acutely aware of all of the things that I love about Christopher, yet confident in all of the things that I love about Isaiah and Michael – which are different, but the same.  I am reminded that I pursue my passion in part because it entails things that I truly enjoy, but I do so most diligently because I am convinced it will help me to enrich life for those that I love the most.  There’s nothing too good for them. My passions are for future promises.  Are yours?  #celebrateyourminimes  #myinspirationslooklikeme, #pursueyourpassion,

Mexican Apple Pie & Revelations for the Mind

mexican apple pie

While Houston’s Apple Walnut Cobbler is clearly at the top of my favorite desserts list, the Mexican Apple Pie at Cantina Laredo on Westheimer is easily a contender.  The decadent pie filled with sauteed apples anchored  by a perfectly textured crust is rivaled only by the brandy butter poured around its iron skillet base that sizzles like the most scintillating fajitas.  It seems the steam sings its glories as it races to the heavens, broadcasting its intoxicating caramel like smells.  It sharply contrasts the perfectly cooled cinnamon ice cream that races for its rendezvous with the pie beneath.

As I found myself pleasantly lost in the abyss of things that please my palate, it occurred to me that we often can distinguish many things that tickle our passions in life (for me, FOOD, writing, church work, family).  That is, we can readily gush about things in which we find the most joy.  That being said, do our passions align with our professions?  We spend most of our days (for those of us in the workforce) spending hours at a job that just might consume us.  Often seeing co-workers more than family, we live and breathe in our respective industries.  My question is, how’s the air?  Is it fresh and invigorating?  Do you wake up ready to go to work with a smile on your face, eagerly anticipating the day’s adventures?

Or do you dread it?  Run from it?  Sometimes ignore it, with the hope that the doom and gloom of the darkness will somehow fade away?  Even if you “like” your job, are you fulfilled?  Make sure that what you enjoy most, is what you pursue – because life isn’t just about working, it’s about fulfilling your purpose.  I’m reminded of a treasured friend whose acquaintance I met in the teaching profession.  While talking about our daily affairs we began discussing one of my favorite topics – food.  She vibrantly articulated her passion for baking, and her face lit up like a Christmas tree in the winter.  I could see her passion was clearly at the forefront…now, she’s pursuing it to the fullest degree.  So much so, that her signature lemon bars are distinctly featured at regal giant Nordstroms in the Woodlands and Galleria (see http://www.mysweetlux.com)

I said all of that to say, it’s a New Year.  In addition to our resolutions, let’s  share some revelations.  Life’s too short to drown in drudgery.  If you have a dream that’s been tucked away in the back of your mind, brush the dust off of it and write it down.  It may be worth pursuing, no matter how challenging the journey.  If your position is misaligned with your passion, perhaps it’s time to find a delectable detour into your destiny.  In essence, if you’re not fulfilled – what are you going to do about it?  Your future awaits…  Share your plans – and stick to them!