A world where our children see how far we've come.

Reflecting on peace & love & light — I believe in a world where the dreams of the incredible #MLK come true, & the truth is, we have a far way to go. But I want to live in a world where our children grow up to see just how far we have come.

I’ve got a lot more work to do for my part in it all. & I have vowed myself as a citizen of humanity to keep listening & learning & figuring out what/how to do more. But even then!

May I never be convinced that I have strived enough to elect & further justice, that I have shown my children enough how to love not hate, or that I have done enough to rest my voice or stop moving my hands or my feet alongside my brothers & sisters across our world. In fact, after writing this to myself, it’s time I get a bit lovingly louder & start moving quite quicker. 

My ode to Brooklyn.

I tell everyone I married into #brooklyn & this apartment. At the time, I was already in love with my life in Central Park as it practically raised my 22 year old self in new york city & is credited for helping me make it past my 2 year plan to then return to Tallahassee. But I remember first walking into this home, & before the dawning realization that it was going to be a massive renovation project,

I saw all the light. & thought to myself, I could thrive here.

Since then, our life together has unfolded inside these walls. Ty first told me he loved me on our rooftop, he carried me across the doorway on the night of our wedding, we learned we would be parents & then brought our teddy home here — saw him laugh crawl walk for the first time, enjoyed our co-op neighbors as friends, & had countless community rooftop parties here with some of the best humans in the world.

A home is more than walls, yes, but I can’t help but give the beautiful light some credit to all of this. Yet as it is so —

everything that’s good forces you to grow or else it wouldn’t be doing its job. & We’ve outgrown it here so good & well. So today is our official farewell

to Brooklyn, I needed you more than you’ll ever know. you rejuvenated us at a time when who can say if we would still be here if it weren’t for your charm, friendliness, focus on art and culture, & slower life pace on the other side of the river. We’ve headed back up to my first love central park for a bit as life seasons are right to change, but we’ll be back much & for certain. There’s a fantastic new family who will absolutely adore you here.

To see life outside my own self:

For this #WorldPerspectiveDay, I’m going to start at the beginning.

It was 2006 and one of my first times leaving Tallahassee to ever use my passport and emerge myself into another culture. Pictured in these images is me:

Diving all-in to experience love and another way of life at its fullest.

You’ll see me having my nose pierced with a wrench inside a village hut, living with red hair because I didn’t understand the affects of applying henna on blondes, taking a rest outside when I was sick where we slept every night under the stars for weeks, definitely having disgusting hair from bathing with a bucket — but what you can’t see in my heart was what was learned from spending days on end with kids who had survived more of a nightmare than is describable yet lived life as if they had only ever dreamed of gratefulness and hope — and it wholeheartedly changed everything about who I was & the direction I was headed.

I was twenty(ish) year’s old and am embarrassed to recall that this was one of my first real memories of listening and asking someone else, that was not just like me, about their perspective & how they saw the world. This forever opened mine up to want to love, live, & see life outside of my own self.

There’s a whole world out there, friends. Even if we can’t physically ever see it all — look up into the sky, feel the winds, & let the bond that makes us all earthlings — across all borders and cultures and viewpoints — speak to us & teach us. It’ll make us all better humans.

Join the narrative of #worldperspectiveday. Inspired by the students of 100cameras

The peacefulness beneath the timing.

TIMING. The one thing on earth I am convinced that cannot -- at its core -- be forced, manipulated, or controlled by even my best human forces. this past week, the 100cameras team launched the dream project #100camerascartagena. But first some backstory...

Last September, we were scheduled to take off for Kurdistan, Iraq to work with kids who had recently fled ISIS captivity at that time. Our bags were packed until the evening before takeoff when the Iraqi government seized our arrivals airport, cancelled our flight, & our partner advised that

not only is it not great timing to still come right now, but you physically couldn’t get here in any way that wouldn’t put your lives in unnecessary danger.

For my personality that tends to not believe the doors that are actually closing even when my fingers are caught in the slam, it was one of the most peaceful surrenders I’d felt in a long time. It could not have been more clear — that the timing was "not now, but wait", & so we postponed it. In the meantime, conversations with our friends over at the inspiring JR's The Inside Out project rekindled our longtime dream to collaborate together in a community.

These conversations quickly evolved into action steps which turned into booking logistics, planning how our curriculum can coordinate with their activations, & making plans for local community building together.

Today marks the completion of the project & the kind of success in the field that keeps our mission thriving. & A special personal piece to me is that TIMING told me I couldn’t go — the first one since 2009 due to staying at HQ to be present for our other projects launching now in the Bronx & worldwide & to get ready for our spring gala (+ I’m 6 mo. pregnant & zika is heartbreakingly real). What I treasure about this particular timing is that it’s a sign of health for the organization, & the team on the ground truly flew a 100cameras project HIGHER than its ever flown before.

Because as it always does to me, TIMING is the most dependable thing that makes me get out of my own way so growth can abound, & it’s just getting started here. excited to share more of this project later this spring. 

I was once internally withering away

One could say that everyone is on a journey to mental health. I know I risk controversy because of the stigmas, but I am bold with my assumption because what human isn’t navigating thoughts and actions based on their past, present, and future through some mental or emotional landmine at one point or another? Whether it’s for seasons or a wrestle for life, mental health is real & it needs to be talked about. So thankful the latest issue of Conscious Magazine -- and our current conversations in society -- embrace it spot on. For me —

I swear, counseling changed my path 5 years ago. I had been in NYC for a few years and had become a participant in a textbook definition of unhealthy behaviors & relationships. I am sure I will share more of this part of my story one day, but for now,

I am just forever grateful that longtime friends and especially my family took the time to say to me,

This isn’t the Angela we recognize from all the seasons before. What happened? You need to dive in there and figure it out. Because there’s a root down in there that is guilty of what’s being allowed to live in your life on the surface.

My parents went further in, & lovingly said to me,

We are starting to believe it is something that maybe you cannot discover with us because who knows, maybe some of the seeds are from us. What parent can be perfect.

With the help of a counseling service that adjusts costs pending on your salary, I could first afford & then find more than just help. I found awakening. I found responsibility as a participant & the ability to address the kinks & nurture the deepest parts of me back to life. This changed everything in relationships, in work, in love, & in the fact that I no longer had to live in the everyday prison of toxicity that I had internally let myself spiral into through engaging in these relationships & behaviors for a few years.

What if those loved ones had not asked or had not made it safe to acknowledge I needed to explore this? Or if longtime friends & new friends at the time did not rally around me? Who can say, but

I don’t take it for granted that I never had to find out. But now that I mention it, I’m certain that I’m getting overdue for a tune-up as well because, you know, life & adulting & parenting & dreamssss. 

The morning after,

On the morning after Valentine's, I sarcastically ask myself — what would we all actually do if love could ever begin to try & fit itself into just one day of the year? That’s so much pressure on just one feel or measure or bouquet or caption. & How would we all survive the other 364? Because certainly not me, I’d just straight wither right up because I’m far too dependent on the meanings and thrivings of love.

Whatever the grounds are that love can dig its roots in to be able to make its way to reach you — whether through friendships or romantic or family or shared moments with a stranger — all I know is that blessed are we all that LOVE does not (& hopefully never will not) fit itself into just one day.

Of course I am sure our brains knew this point as the fourteenth was celebrated, but I have to just say out loud — that no matter what yesterday may have looked like for you and your heart, I hope everyone gets their own versions of flowers & chocolates many times over this year ....

although I’d guess that any ordinary day’s love language would get a bit more innovative than that gesture for you! Which is personally my favorite perk of this whole love-is-an-everyday thing. 

A reminder from my younger self.

At the start of a new year, it feels timely (& also convicting meets inspiring) to read this The Refined Woman interview featuring my own words written & exposed in print to my younger self. As I plan to set aside time this weekend to put my dreams & goals for the year into writing, I can't help but smile at these two notes to self.

(Full interview on their blog & thank you for helping create space for this reflection, TRW)

--
1) I wish I could tell my younger self to remove the toxins. Whether they’re unhealthy relationships, insecurities and lies, disappointments or rejections, focusing on missed opportunities or regrets — all of it! Don’t hesitate to remove anything that generates toxicity within yourself or your company. For years I lived in extreme people-pleasing mode, and would entertain toxic things for way too long. It would eat away at me, removing my ability to make decisions in work, to write freely in my personal time, to live without worrying what people thought. I would go back and tell my younger self to remove it with gracefulness and kindness — but with boldness and swiftness.


2) My real life heroes are my parents who taught us the value of character, determination, and perseverance.

My father was quirkily committed to teaching us the value of a dollar. After a piano recital or sports competition, our parents would ask if we wanted to go to Baskin Robbins. When it was time to pay, my father would bring out his spare change and count out 100 pennies for every dollar owed. My sister and I fell for it every time thinking he wouldn’t possibly count 800 pennies yet again to prove his point. People in line would offer quarters to help, and my father would kindly reply,

“No thank you, my girls are just learning that every penny in life counts.”

We would roll our eyes and then relish every bite. But we learned to value our pennies, our minutes, our actions, our thoughts, our failures and accomplishments.

 

📸 by @jelabela)

Of all the things I care about for his future --

& of all the things I do not know about parenting & all the things I am convinced that we will still be figuring out for the next forever amount of years, I think I pretty much peaked at the best compliment I'll ever receive that also -- as fate would intentionally have it -- pretty much has nothing to do with me or my abilities as a mom.

Bear's great grandfather (who also has yet to ever meet a stranger after 87+ years) said today after spending a lot of time with him, "It's a gift. Even if he doesn't know ya, It don't matter who ya are, he's gonna still treat ya like a friend. With kindness & a wave".

Watching Teddy grow, it couldn't be truer of who he seems to want to be, and it is inspiring & challenging to me at the same time. Because I believe this is our birth-given outlook towards others --  That no matter where we are together or what his mood is or if the person sees him or engages back, he doesn't seem to believe in the word stranger. He doesn't let it derail his perception of himself, the other, or the world. He just smiles and takes his next steps forward.

& Of all the things I care about for his future, this is the one that I pray most that he will never forget & that I will continue to learn from.

I may never know what the other person is going through.

But the irony of the whole thing is that if I choose to focus on that very thing, I'd actually be missing the most important point. 

Last week, I was struggling physically and emotionally after experiencing the loss of an early pregnancy. I decided that I wanted to force myself to get out of the house (despite the doctor's advice to rest, no doubt) and work from a coffee shop. I walked into this adorable spot and got in line. A gentleman walked almost in front of me and stood caddy-corner until he could edge in.

teddy and ty

There were so many more graceful options.

But instead a monster woke up with me that morning and escorted me into the situation with all the brokenness and vengeance of everything happening on my insides, and I snarkily addressed it. He returned my tone and accused me of cutting in front of him. We both felt wronged and we both felt offended that the other would think we did it intentionally. It escalated with the kind of words that are calm and soft yet sharp and uncomfortably cutting, giving our best attempt at trying to demean one another with intellect and tone. Then we just abruptly stopped and both sulked. He ordered, and for an infinitely long terrible almost 60 seconds, I stood behind him. Trembling on the inside because my heart utterly eclipsed itself and went black. A very cold black.

And then the most uncontrollable behavior happened!

Light itself legit overtook me, and before pride could talk my mind out of it, my heart lunged forward and exclaimed, I am so sorry and mortified. I acted like a spoiled child and handled the entire thing poorly. I honestly was upset at life and the potential that you maybe thought I would do it on pur...

And before I could finish, he returned, Oh my god, I am so embarrassed. I handled it terribly, I can't believe I did that. And the next 60 seconds were filled with us arguing over who could be more embarrassed while profusely apologizing.

I'll never understand what triggered him from his own life, but what I'm responsible for is addressing what's going on inside of me.

And while this was over something so silly + obnoxious such as waiting in line to order a draft latte, all I know is that it felt good to beat pride at its destructive game and make it right, no matter how big or how small.

It breathed some life back into me that day, and it felt really really REALLY good.

Creating a day to celebrate what it means to be human, together.

We all have a story to tell.

Today is the first annual #WorldPerspectiveDay, and it is personally therapeutic to my soul after over a decade of being an active participant in storytelling across our great world.

Inspired directly by the students @100cameras works with worldwide & in collaboration with incredible launch partners, this is a day to simply celebrate what it means to be human, together.

An intentional effort to breath some positive engagement onto the internet to not only share how we each see the world -- but to also take a moment to see life through someone else's eyes. Because we can't escape the fact that both postures matter if we are all going to exist on the same planet & further good & light. To create space for it to be okay for how similar and how different we are. A space to well -- just be human.

Super proud of our entire team who dreamed big enough to go for this. The world wide web can be an overwhelming place at times & it's hard to know where to start, and this is us doing our part. Participate today, post your perspective and tag #worldperspectiveday 

Film by Jose Tutiven. Commercial created & edited by Andrea Arevalo and Ivan Novuelven.