Book Cape

Last month, Oprah, Will Smith and Stephen King were all in DC. Our Nation’s Capital powerhoused the National Book Festival and the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture: big people and big moments. However, true to Brave Tutu, I’m going to focus on a small striking moment: a kid with a self-made cape. This child ignored stretching lines for famous authors like Katherine Patterson and Salman Rushdie. Instead, he laughed and laughed, chasing his friend as the red power source flowed behind him.

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Dahl's Dreams Trumpet All

This September many celebrated Roald Dahl’s birthday, the famous author would have been 100. I reread his book, The BFG, and knew I needed to share—Brave Tutu style—how Dahl’s words make me look up from my everyday life. Small moments with his small character Sophie took me into memories of family road trips. I remembered my Mom reading us the book and as the Texas terrain slowly passed by, I imagined I had a giant friend that let me ride on his ear as we galloped across entire countries. This possibility felt palpable. My hopeful imagination blurred the lines between dreams and reality. 

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Sugar Cube Search: Un-Cupboard, Uncomfortable

MISSION: Find and eat the sugar cubes! As kids, we spent HOURS playing church hide and seek. To be fair, we felt like finding sugar cubes was a simple extension of the game. Parish halls = coffee. Coffee = sugar. Simple math.

When were really young, sugar cubes were still a thing and our dad was a visiting minister. We had many new territories to explore. 

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Rush Parking

I was running late for work. In accordance with parking-late-law, that meant zero convenient spots. Up in the heights of the garage my green beetle climbed. Around each turn…Oh is that a spot? SMART CARS, you tease! Jumbo SUVs were in the compact car spots. I imagined they were embarrassed, jammed in and refusing eye contact. Ultimately, the Nissans and the Elements kept Forrest Gumping me— “this spot’s taken.”

I should have arrived earlier.  You do this to yourself, Rebekah.My negative voice takes a microphone when I’m already frustrated. I got to the highest point in the parking garage and thought, Great. Outside and its raining. No wonder. I pulled in and grabbed my things. Just as I closed the car door, I looked up!

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Untied Bow

Last weekend, our Dad was rushed into the ICU, not for the first time. Two of my dearest college friends came to support me, also not for the first time.

“Bow, how is Brave Tutu going?” Amanda asked.

“Struggling. It’s hard to pump out positive, uplifting articles when my heart is feeling so low.”

“Bow, I don’t think Brave Tutu has to always be happy…”

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Paint Doors, Gain Passage

Our apartment’s elevator is inoperable. When I moved in, my landlord told me, “It hasn’t worked for over thirty years.” People would stand and wait. To deter hope of the elevator’s function,someone put a giant plant in front of it. Months later, a plywood covering followed. Recently, maintenance painted over the entire operation. Now, only the trained eye can spot the buttons.

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Toy Perspective: Outside of the Box

At Christmas, do you ever wonder how the old toys feel about their replacements? The playroom buzzes on Christmas Eve in Jim Henson’s film, The Christmas Toy (a.k.a. Toy Story of the 80’s).  All the characters are excited about the promise of new additions to their toy tribe, all except Rugby, last year’s star gift.

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WHAP! WHAP! Gratitude!

I want to really go back. I’m hungry to taste our traditional cinnamon roll and Lil’ Smokies sausage breakfast. I’d wash it all down with grainy pulp-filled orange juice. To be true to tradition, Joshua and I would fight over the last wrinkled Smokie, even though I’d be stuffed and the aromatic promise of true stuffing filled the air.

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A Ripped Leaf leaves an Impression

Zorro came running when I called. My pup led the way into Portland’s fall splendor. Aesthetically, I ate up the endless buffet of lavish reds, pungent oranges, festive golds, and the remains of green. I plucked one leaf from its dance in the breeze to accompany me on my walk. With tiny touches of apricot, maroon, and green, it represented the beauty overhead. I focused on slivered rips in the leaf. Where did they come from? I pondered its gaps, commiserated even: “Must have been the wind, the rain, or maybe a hungry bug. Huh?”

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Dinosaurs, Doorways, and Confident Knocks

Perhaps this funny video rings familiar from the trick-or-treat weekend? This wee dinosaur costumes up and follows custom. Customs go by the wayside, though, on special occasions. 

Little Austin, my nephew, was taught the following for his house visits:

1.     Only knock on doors with your parents present. CHECK!

2.     People are expecting you. CHECK!

3.     Doorways are for hugging. HE TRIED!

Even though he didn’t know the homeowner, since from his knee-high vantage point, all legs look the same, he went by what he’d been taught and by instinct. 

Austin’s dinosaur-door adventure was a teachable moment. It had depth and rang the Brave Tutu bell. He certainly was full of “courage in delight,” the key being Austin’s confident determination. What if, like Austin, we walked through unknown challenges like we belonged there?

One step to this “belonging” boils down to creating self-comfort amidst the uncertainty in human encounters. Before any of my big “career-changing” meetings, my brother often tells me, “Just remember, Rebekah, you’re not meeting Gandhi.” Meant with respect, this comical antidote grounds me to humanity. This “powerful” person I’m about to meet probably also growls at their alarm clock . They, too, have memories of brightly-colored LEGOs or blowing bubbles on a summer afternoon. With this shift in mentality, I can approach conversations with new acquaintances on common ground.

Austin didn’t hesitate in the doorway because he had his own check-list. His parents’ guidance opened the door to delight. Like him, we each need our own “doorway” check-list for daunting encounters. These might include:

1.     Most meetings are with humans who have things in common with us. CHECK!

2.     If stairs (obstacles) are involved, we can take those one at a time. CHECK!

3.     If they don’t let you in, it’s their dino-sized mistake.  CHECK IT!

Of course, visualizing thrilled people who are ready to adorn us with candy wouldn’t hurt either.


Your Brave Tutu (You’re brave, too-too!)


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*Eager for more?  Check out A Costume, Not a Mask where I explore more about what costumes might mean.